Shamrocks and Shenanigans

 

Bella is working for a catering and event planning company. She has just about pulled off the reception of the year when she’s introduced to Edward Cullen, mafia boss. Can he show her that even bad guys can be good .AH/CC

 

  1. Chapter 1

 

The following is a transcript of the conversation I had with Edward during one of the dreams I had before writing this fiction.

 

The names and events have not been changed to protect the innocent, because let’s face it; if you’re reading this, you’re far from innocent…

 

Edward: Mathisson, love, can I talk to you?

 

Me: Only if you talk without your shirt on.

 

Edward: I can do that.

 

Me: So strip and start talking. (Wipes drool as his shirt hits the floor)

 

Edward: There. Now, I was hoping you’d reconsider my request for the mob story.

 

Me: You already know I don’t write those types of stories.

 

Edward: I know, and I can appreciate your creative restrictions, but what if I swore to you that you could have creative freedom?

 

Me: Really, you’d give me control? I always have control; I am the one with the keyboard after all.

 

Edward: Now, love, we both know I’ve changed your mind many times when it comes to your writing.

 

Me: (blinks eyes) I so hate when you’re right.

 

Edward: (leans forward, green eyes boring through me) So, you’ll do it for me then? (voice is simply too sexy to say no to)

 

Me: Ugh…yes. Fine, I’ll do it, BUT…!

 

Edward: Butt? I have one, and quite a nice one I’m told. Want to see for yourself?

 

Me: Not if you want this thing written.

 

Edward: Fine…you’re no fun you know.

 

Me: Before you get too excited, I have some conditions if you want me to be the one to write this that you may not like.

 

Edward: Alright, let me hear them.

 

Me: First, no illegal drug use.

 

Edward: How about just a quick reference?

 

Me: Hmm? You may be right. Okay, just a little.

 

Edward: Is that it?

 

Me: Yeah, you wish.

 

Edward: Continue.

 

Me: No cheating on Bella.

 

Edward: I refuse to do that; I love her too much after all.

 

Me: Jacob can’t be your enemy. (This will get him; Jacob is always an enemy in my stories)

 

Edward: Fine, but I get to give him a hideous name; after all, this is a mob story.

 

Me: Fine. You also have to be Irish in this one, and it’ll be in Bella’s point of view.

 

Edward: Fine, but we need to make things interesting.

 

Me: How?

 

Edward: (feet up on the table, hands behind his head.) Well, here’s how I see it…

 

So yes, this is my new fiction. As you’ve heard, I don’t write mob stories. But this one has kept creeping into my dreams. I told my beta, Dollybigmomma, about it and she advised me to let the story write itself. So here it is. Let me know what you think…

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANNEGANS

 

By Mathisson

 

Chapter 1

 

In each and every one of our lives, we all come in contact with memorable people at some point. For some, it’s a simple smile paired with brief but penetrating eye contact, while for others it’s slightly longer and more intense as with the handsome cashier at the corner grocery. A select few actually change who we are. This is my story and how one man changed everything about my life and those around me.

 

I guess you’re wondering who the hell I am. That’s actually the easiest part of my entire story. My name is Isabella Swan. My friends and family call me Bella. Well, that’s not entirely true, but that’ll come later. It all started one night while I was doing what most of us do every day, my job. I can still remember nearly every detail of what happened that night…

 

I had been working at Save the Date, one of the most successful catering companies in Chicago. The owner and my good friend, Charlotte, had entrusted me with this particular event. The guest list was long at over four hundred, and yet very distinguished, as the amount of security onsite proved. The Hale-McCarthy wedding was said to be the event of the year. Charlotte had hired additional servers a month ago and had spent that time training and grooming them to the bride’s specifications. For this particular wedding, all of the staff had to undergo an extensive background check. Tonight, I was calling the shots. I had just finished my preliminary meeting with the entire staff of one-hundred-twenty. Yes, that was correct. The bride’s family wanted their guests to be served in a quick and flawless fashion. All of the bartenders had to be male and wear all black. All of the servers were female and had to wear black pencil skirts and peacock blue halter tops to match the bride’s colors. I was at least able to wear a black blazer over mine.

 

The bride’s family, the Hales, were from New York and I was told they were from ‘old money’. The groom’s family, on the other hand, came from Ireland. I wasn’t certain how you came to a new country and suddenly had money. But it wasn’t my place to question. It was my place to make sure both families stayed happy.

 

I noticed my sister, Angela, was talking with a very attractive man that had arrived with the bridal party. I motioned for her to get back to work and the handsome man kissed her cheek and then squeezed her hand. I would have to ask her about him later. My sister didn’t have the best track record with men.

 

Angela and I were twins and we were also of Irish descent. Our other sister, Victoria, was two years older than us. Angela had met her ex, Mike Newton, her senior year in college. He was nice in the beginning. He took her to nice restaurants and bought her pretty things. All of that changed the day she gave birth to his daughter, Abigail. Abigail was four now and seriously the most beautiful little girl on the planet. Her daddy on the other hand, was a scumbag.

 

Victoria wasn’t any luckier in love. Her long-time boyfriend, Jimmy, well, he got her mixed up in some pretty heavy shit. And then he got her killed.

 

Angela and I lived together in a tiny two bedroom house. It took the two of us to take care of Abigail, as she sure as hell couldn’t count on Mike to help her out. Angela had taken him to court and had proven paternity and yet he still refused to pay his child support. Like I said, he was a scumbag.

 

Dinner had been served and the cake had been cut. Now it was time to stand around and watch people get drunk and be happy.

 

Looking back, I should have questioned the people in that room. I should have listened to just a few conversations. Instead, I watched my staff and made certain people were having a good time.

 

It was just after ten o’clock that night when one of my bartenders alerted me to a situation. Apparently, a couple was in a heated argument outside of the restrooms. This was one of the many things I was good at, breaking up fights.

 

I smiled at the many people that were still present on my way to deal with the problem. Once I got there, I nearly turned around and left. Standing with his back to me was none other than Mike Newton. He was currently in a heated conversation with a very pretty girl. As I stood there and watched briefly, the girl slapped him across the face. For a tenth of a second, I thought about getting her a drink for that. I smiled to myself as I crossed the room toward the couple.

 

“Excuse me.”

 

Mike turned his entire body in my direction. The look on his face was one of pure rage. I decided to direct my attention to the girl as she appeared to have complete control at the moment. The look on her face was rage at first, or so I thought. A closer look showed a large amount of white powder caked at the outer septum of her nose…cocaine.

 

My dad had always told me to expect the unexpected when it came to people who were under the influence. He told me of a guy who once actually broke out of handcuffs because he was high on LSD. Yes, my dad was a cop, a detective, actually.

 

“Yes, hello, nice dress by the way, I absolutely love that shade of blue.”

 

Make the situation about her, check.

 

“Oh, um…”

 

Distracted, check.

 

“Listen, I can’t agree with you more that this piece of shit deserves to be hit a hell of a lot harder than what you just did. However…”

 

“Fucking butt out, Bella!” Mike spat from my left.

 

I turned my attention to him. “Really, fuck-nuts, you want me to get her a set of boxing gloves or save you a trip to the E-R?”

 

“Fuck you, bitch.”

 

“No, fuck you, you son of a bitch!” the blonde interrupted, yelling at Mike.

 

Gotta get control, Swan…

 

“Hey, thank you…” I motioned for her to tell me her name.

 

“Jessica, Jessica Stanley.”

 

I held my hand out to shake hers. “Hello, Jessica, pleasure to meet you, Bella Swan.” I made a move to wedge my body between theirs. “As I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted by pencil dick here,” I motioned behind me. Jessica began to giggle; ladies and gentlemen, situation diffused. “I think you can do so much better, and I think you might want to go back into the restroom and remove some of your face powder you must have missed when you freshened up your makeup,” I motioned to her nose.

 

Without a second thought, she turned on her heel and walked right back into the restroom. Now I had to deal with Mike…then take a bleach bath.

 

I turned around, ready to lay into him, when I noticed a group of men behind him making their way down the hall in our direction. The five men walked with authority in a ‘V’ formation, like mallard ducks heading south for the winter. Without saying a single word, people were moving out of their way, clearing a path for them to pass through with ease.

 

Mike hadn’t realized that my eyes had left his and were fixed on the man in the lead position. He was tall, well over six feet. His black tux looked like it was made just for him and I was not surprised by this, as most of the men in attendance tonight had that same appearance. This man, however, was different; the fit was due to more than just a great tailor. He had a certain air about him. His face was absolute perfection, like a model straight off the runway. I couldn’t decide if his hair was brown or dark red, but that was not what had me nearly speechless. It was his eyes. They were a shade of green that I couldn’t ever remember seeing.

 

“Goddamn it, Bella…”

 

Great, dick face just had to interrupt my eye fucking…

 

“I can’t fucking believe you’re still fucking up my life. That girl you just pissed off was my pussy for the night!”

 

Before I could respond, a very husky voice interrupted. “Is there a problem here, Fig?”

 

What surprised me more than the sultry voice was how quickly Mike managed to turn around to face him.

 

“Oh, hey, boss…no-no problem here.”

 

Suddenly, Mike was all smiles, and then he placed his arm around my shoulders.

 

“That’s not how I see it, Fig.”

 

Fig?

 

“Oh…this is a friend of mine’s sister. We were just catching up.”

 

I noticed the men behind him were listening intently to everything he said. Disgusted, I managed to remove Mike’s arm and moved away from him a few steps, glaring at him. This didn’t go unnoticed by Mike’s boss. Boss?

 

Mike hadn’t paid Angela any child support in all these years. If this was his boss, then maybe I could find out where he was working. I had no problem with helping Angela file a garnishment on his paycheck.

 

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but did I hear correctly that Mike works for you, Sir?”

 

I looked directly into his amazing green eyes. His chiseled jaw was a little distracting, but getting Abigail some much-needed financial help was very grounding.

 

Green eyes looked between me and Mike, almost in confusion, however somewhat annoyed. I then turned to look at Mike; he appeared to be white as a ghost. Something just wasn’t right.

 

“Fig…perhaps you should talk to Legs about your position.”

 

I turned back to green eyes in time to catch his eyes scanning me from head to toe. I watched as his tongue came out and covered his top lip, sucking it behind his teeth. With a chuckle and an arch of his eyebrow, his eyes met mine.

 

“Boss…” one of the guys behind green eyes spoke at his side. Green eyes turned to look at the man, who in turn leaned in close and began to whisper to green eyes.

 

“Fig, I’ll see you first thing,” he said to Mike without making eye contact. “Ms. Swan, this was the best party I’ve attended this year. I’m told you’re responsible?”

 

I was shocked because I had no idea how he knew my name. I decide to quit acting like a mute.

 

“I have a great staff, it was a team effort,” I smiled and folded my hands in front of me, always remaining professional.

 

“Yes, well, you managed to save poor Jessica from Fig.”

 

Everything I had ever been taught told me that I had to maintain a courteous and professional manner. I prided myself that I had always done that when representing Save the Date. So the words that fell from my mouth next should have remained unsaid…

 

“Oh, well, Mike told me he had plans for Jessica tonight. However, he still has his hand to help himself out later.”

 

Green eyes began to chuckle and then all five men behind him joined him.

 

“Legs, I like how you work.” With that he walked past me, taking his entourage with him.

 

I was so shocked…who the fuck was legs?

 

“Fuck!” Mike spouted as he dragged his hand through his hair.

 

I was so confused right now. I had no idea what the hell had just happened. The only person standing here with any possible answers was known for fucking people over.

 

“Mike, what the fuck just happened?”

 

Mike now looked pissed. He was mumbling under his breath and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying.

 

“I could slit your fucking throat for what you just did!” Mike hissed, now less than an inch from my face. I opened my mouth to say something back when Riley, one of my bartenders, interceded.

 

“Bella, you okay?”

 

Was I? I was confused as hell. Before I could even answer, Mike was back-peddling.

 

“Hey, man, I was just telling Bella here goodnight.”

 

Riley was a big guy, almost as big as green eyes. He was one of the extra staff Charlotte had hired for this event. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn Mike knew him, and more than that, he was scared shitless of him.

 

“Is that true, Bella?”

 

I took advantage of Riley standing here. Mike was clearly about to piss himself. I was going to get some answers.

 

“Mike, who the hell was that and who the fuck is legs?”

 

Mike gave Riley a wide-eyed look and then turned and ran out the door as if he was on fire, leaving me still confused and my questions hanging unanswered.

 

Riley very gently placed his hand on my arm and began leading me back into the ballroom. I hadn’t realized I had been out in the hall so long, as most of the guests had already left. I noticed the staff had already begun to break down tables. Angela was sitting at the end of the bar and the smile on her face was real. I hadn’t seen a real smile on her face that wasn’t because of Abigail in years. Sitting next to her was the dark-haired man from earlier. She was looking at him as if he was the only person in the room. Just like green eyes, his suit was tailored and he held himself with confidence. His smile was almost as big as hers.

 

“Bella, let me buy you a drink and we can have ourselves a little chat.”

 

At this point, I was too tired to argue.

 

Riley handed me a cold beer and then leaned his entire body toward me.

 

“Alright, Riley, start talking. What the fuck just happened?”

 

“That, my fair Bella, was Edward Cullen. He’s a close friend of the bride and groom’s families.”

 

I took a long pull of my beer. Okay, so he was a guest; that was obvious. What was with the personal bodyguards, though?

 

“Riley, spill,” I said, my voice clearly conveying my agitation.

 

“Edward Cullen is someone you want on your side. He has a lot of influence in what goes on in this town. He isn’t someone you want as an enemy.”

 

Another part of my job was being able to read people, and I could tell Riley knew a shit-ton more than he was letting on. He was choosing to give me the cliff notes on green eyes, aka Edward Cullen. I also knew when to cut my losses. If this Edward guy was so influential in this town, then someone else would certainly know him.

 

“Alright, then who the fuck is Legs?

 

Riley moved in closer and spoke in hushed tones. “When Edward likes someone, he gives them a name that he’ll remember. You, my fair lady, made quite an impression. You’re Legs.”

 

I sat at the bar and continued to sip my beer. The room had been cleared and all of the staff had been paid and escorted out. Angela had finally said goodnight and was being escorted home by the dark-haired man. His name was actually Ben and he was an accountant. He offered to take me home as well, but I politely declined. I would tell Angela in the morning that Mike was working for Edward Cullen.

 

It was late when I finally got everything wrapped up and went to the restroom to change my clothes. I hated being in my uniform one second longer than I absolutely had to. With my Nikes laced up, I made my way to my car parked in the parking lot. George, the night security guard, walked with me and made certain my car started. I waved goodbye and turned left onto the street.

 

My mind must have still been on the evening, as I didn’t notice the black sedan that followed me home.

 

A/N So there you have it. Let me know if I have truly lost my mind or if you really liked it.

 

I know I spoiled you guys last story with daily updates, but that will not be happening this time around. My goal is at least weekly, I am shooting for twice weekly. I have almost all of it written and my beta as you know is uber fast.

 

  1. Chapter 2

 

Me: Alright, I admit it, you were right.

 

Edward: Right about what this time?

 

Me: You know, you can be re-written as a balding, pencil dick jerk very quickly.

 

Edward: (chuckles) No one would read it…

 

Me: (rolls eyes) Anyway…We have a problem.

 

Edward: No, you have a problem, I only agreed to your creative freedom.

 

Me : Okay, I think I have a way to make everyone happy.

 

Edward: I know what you’re thinking and I have to admit I like it.

 

Me: So we agree?

 

Edward: Yes, so go ahead and tell them.

 

Me: Okay, a shit ton of you really like mine and Edward’s conversation. Just as many of you wanted Edward’s POV. So we have a way to make everyone happy.

 

Edward: You mean debu gave you an idea. It was that review that caused the light bulb to appear over your pretty head.

 

Me: Can we get on with this, you cheeky bastard?

 

Edward: (still shirtless, chuckles) But of course.

 

Me: So in the first chapter, we met you, of course, and Fig. Riley stepped in and scared off the douche bag and someone was following Bella home. Care to give your side of this?

 

Edward: Well, I was a guest at the Hale-McCarthy wedding. I saw Bella actually helping one of the bartenders refilling the ice containers. It was her smile that I first noticed. I found myself watching her move around the room the entire night. As I was leaving, I noticed her and Fig talking and at first I wondered if they were having a lovers’ quarrel.

 

Me: And if they were, what were your plans?

 

Edward: They clearly were not so it doesn’t matter.

 

Me: Alright, so what next?

 

Edward: One of my men told me of a situation that I needed to handle so I told Fig I needed a word with him. I left and gave an order to a few of my men.

 

Me: And can I ask what that order was?

 

Edward: You can ask, doesn’t mean I’ll answer.

 

Me: Fair enough. What was the order?

 

Edward: (only smiles)

 

Me: Alright, shall we continue with this fiction?

 

Edward: Alright, where did we leave off? Oh, right, Bella went home followed by a mystery car…

 

Chapter 2

 

When I got home last night, or rather very early this morning, all I could concentrate on was getting into a scalding hot bath. However, the last thing I wanted to do was to wake up Abigail. I silently made my way to her room and slowly and quietly opened her door. Abigail’s bedroom was the epitome of princess perfection. She had pink painted walls, her name spelled out in pink wooden letters on the wall, and there were fluffy pink curtains on the windows. Her canopy bed was my favorite feature in the room. I envied her. How pathetic was it to envy a four year old and her princess bedroom? It was more than that, though. Abigail had her mom, me, and our dad to take care of her. Growing up, it was just my dad and he didn’t have a clue how to decorate little girls’ rooms.

 

When I was six, our mom just disappeared. I could remember asking my dad when she was coming back and he would always say she was off on a vacation. After a while, I just stopped asking. Now, all these years later, I still did not know where she was. Dad wouldn’t talk about her and we avoided the subject of her entirely.

 

Abigail was sleeping soundly and I knew she wouldn’t wake if I ran the water. So that was just what I did. As I lay in the tub surrounded by bubbles and silence, I replayed the events of the night in my head. I had been told in the past that I had a nice set of legs. I never agreed, but then again, most women didn’t like their bodies. Somehow it felt almost offensive to have Edward Cullen make reference to them. It didn’t really feel like a compliment, more of him naming a place he wanted to be, between my legs. It didn’t matter I decided. I’d lived in Chicago all this time and this was the first time I had ever encountered him. The chances were very high that I would never see him again.

 

I had no idea how wrong I was.

 

The downside of living with a four year old was that they tended to have schedules. Abigail was no exception. When she was awake, she expected everyone in the house to be as well. She didn’t care that you had only gotten three hours of sleep.

 

Abigail woke me by bouncing energetically on my bed.

 

“AUNTIE BELLA, TIME TO GET UP!” she shouted as she continued to jump.

 

“Oh, god, who gave you sugar so early?” I asked to no one in particular.

 

“Auntie Bella, Mommy’s making pancakes. Hurry up, I’m hungry!”

 

She finally quit jumping as she mercilessly removed the covers from my bed. It was a damn good thing she was cute.

 

As I made my way into the kitchen, I began to smell the one thing that would make my life better, coffee.

 

I watched as Angela was flipping pancakes and humming, swaying her hips to the song that must have been playing inside her head. I took my seat at the bar and Abigail quickly followed.

 

“Okay, who are you and what have you done with my sister?”

 

Angela turned around as she placed a plate full of pancakes on the counter. The smile on her face was huge and I could only guess what, or rather who, had put it there.

 

“Can’t I just be in a good mood?”

 

“Just please tell me you slept in your own bed last night.”

 

“Mommy, can I have pink juice?”

 

I wasn’t going to let Abigail’s question derail my need for answers. Angela had been really hurt when Mike decided he wanted out of the picture. I refused to let that happen again. I would hurt Ben if he tried to hurt my sister.

 

“No, baby, you can have milk.”

 

“Can I have pink milk?”

 

“Good try, but no, you can have white milk.”

 

Angela placed the cup of milk in front of Abigail. Her attention again focused on me.

 

“Yes, Bella, I slept in my own bed, alone.”

 

I knew I had to be careful with Abigail in the room. I wasn’t always able to keep my emotions in check when it came to my family.

 

“I like him, Bella. I like him a lot. I want to get to know him better and see where this goes. He listens to me, and he actually looks me in the eyes and listens to what I have to say.”

 

I completely understood what she was saying. All too often, men were too busy staring at my chest rather than paying attention to the words I spoke. I still wanted her to be careful.

 

“Well, since you went to all the trouble of trying to bribe me with carbs, what do you want from me?”

 

Angela hated to cook. Even though she was really good at it, she only did it when she wanted something.

 

“Wow…nothing gets by you, Watson.”

 

“Pff, please, I am so Sherlock.”

 

“Whatever, I know it’s your day off, but I have a date and I need a sitter.”

 

“I will, on one condition.”

 

Angela rolled her eyes and turned around to get more coffee.

 

“Ok, I’ll bite, what’s your condition?”

 

“That you don’t shave your legs before your date.”

 

“Um…okay…but why?”

 

“Because I heard somewhere that if you have stubbly legs, you’re less inclined to…have relations.”

 

Abigail was beyond excited to be spending the night having a sleepover with Auntie Bella. I promised her we would order pizza and watch all her favorite movies and stay up late. She didn’t really understand why she couldn’t go with her mommy on her date. I told her they would be doing boring things and that we would have so much more fun.

 

I told Angela it might be better if I had Abigail in the bedroom when Ben came to pick her up. I didn’t want her to be confused if things didn’t work out. Angela agreed and I distracted my niece with an impromptu dance-off. We stood in her bedroom with my iPod and danced around the room. When I was certain Angela had left, I took Abigail out into the living room and was about to order pizza when my dad called wanting to know what we had planned for dinner. He then insisted he take us out for pizza when I told him of our plans.

 

Dad took us to a little ‘mom and pop’ place called Gino’s. They made the best Chicago-style deep dish pizza on the planet. Once we devoured our pizza, Abigail asked if she could go play the video games. Since we both had a clear view of the machines, dad gave her money and told her to go get quarters from the cashier. With Abigail safely occupied, I decided to pump my dad for information.

 

“So, Dad, you seem to know everyone in this town, what’s the story on Ben Cheney?”

 

My dad never took his eyes off Abigail as he spoke.

 

“Bells, you can trust Ben with Angela. He’s a good guy, he’ll treat her right.”

 

“If you knew he would be good for her, why haven’t you introduced them before?”

 

My dad actually chuckled at this one. “Men don’t tend to get involved in their daughter’s love life.”

 

He had a point I guess. I decided to go for broke.

 

“I had a run-in with Mike last night. He was a guest at the wedding I was working. Angela didn’t see him. I found out he’s working and I got his boss’s name.”

 

“Did you tell your sister?”

 

“No, she was too damn happy this morning. I didn’t have the heart to mess that up.”

 

“I can’t blame you there, sweetheart. So, who’s the fucker working for?”

 

I took a drink of my Coke. I wanted to know as much as I could about Edward Cullen. My dad had a lot of contacts and if anyone had information on Edward, I knew my dad would have it.

 

“A man by the name of Edward Cullen, ever heard of him?”

 

My dad took several minutes before he spoke. He wasn’t a man of many words, but when he did speak, he meant every word he said.

 

“Did you speak with Edward?”

 

“Not really, he noticed Mike and I were fussing and he asked if there was a problem, then he called Mike Fig.” My dad began to chuckle. “What’s so funny?”

 

“Bella, what’s Mike’s last name?”

 

“Newton?” I didn’t get what he was leading to.

 

“Think about it, Bells.”

 

Newton…fig. Newton…fig. Fig…Newton.

 

Then it hit me and I began to laugh.

 

“Oh, Dad…Fig Newton, like the cookie?”

 

“That’s my guess. Tell me something,” my dad shifted his body closer to mine, “Did you tell Edward how you and Mike knew each other?”

 

“Actually, Mike told him I was an old friend.”

 

“Did the subject of Abigail come up?”

 

I noticed my dad start looking around; he was starting to creep me out.

 

“No, he got really nervous and then tried to play it off like we were just talking. Edward told him he would see him later then left with his men.”

 

“Did Fig stick around?”

 

“No, as soon as Edward left, he shot out of there. I talked to Riley, the bartender who seemed to know Edward, and I asked him what the deal was.”

 

“Riley was working your party?”

 

“Yes, Mike got really nervous when Riley came over.”

 

“I’ll bet he did more than get nervous.”

 

Now I was really curious, who the hell was this guy?

 

My dad was again silent. I let him be; knowing if I pushed, he would just clam up and I would never get any more answers.

 

“Bells, what I’m about to tell you, it doesn’t leave this table, you got me?” I nodded my head and leaned in closer to my dad. “I’ve know the Cullen family a very long time. I’ve been good friends with Carlisle Cullen since we were boys.”

 

I listened patiently as dad continued his story.

 

“When you were a little girl and your mother and I started having problems, she threatened to take you girls and run. I was just a street cop in a small town and didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Carlisle had called me out of the blue and I told him what was going on. He hired a top-notch attorney that dug up information on your mother. She signed the divorce papers and disappeared into the night. Carlisle got me the job here and told me he would call on me in the future for a favor. He told me that family was the most important thing in this world and I agreed with him. Edward took over the family business from his dad, Carlisle, about six years ago.”

 

He had this far-off look on his face and I could tell he was far from done.

 

“I’m not surprised that Fig didn’t want Cullen to know about Abigail. I can guarantee you that was why he left.”

 

Abigail began to laugh at something that was on the screen and it caused us both to giggle. She had this amazing laugh that you just couldn’t help but join her.

 

“Did Cullen say anything else to you?”

 

I thought for a minute before I answered him. “He called me Legs.”

 

My dad chuckled and then turned to me and looked me directly in the eyes. “Keep that one filed away, you may have to use it someday.”

 

Abigail had used up all of her money and it was getting late. My dad went and settled up the bill and I waited with Abigail. We said goodnight to the owners and headed out to the parking lot. I had just finished getting Abigail fastened into her booster seat when I heard laughter coming from across the parking lot. I looked over and noticed that none other than Edward Cullen was getting out of a black Mercedes. He had a voluptuous blonde at his side and she was giggling at every word he spoke. He noticed my dad before me and he said something to the blonde and the guys that surrounded him. He made his way across the lot in my dad’s direction.

 

“Sir, how are you?” As he stood in front of my dad, the two men embraced in a manly, back-slapping hug.

 

“I can’t complain, young man, how’s your father?”

 

“Carlisle is good. I’ll tell him you inquired. It’s been too long since you’ve been to the house, my mom would enjoy a visit.”

 

It was at this point that Edward made eye contact with me. “Ms. Swan, a pleasure to see you again,” he winked as he spoke.

 

“Mr. Cullen,” I smiled as I acknowledged him.

 

I now noticed the daggers I was getting from the blonde. She had on a skin-tight pleather mini dress with thigh-high fuck-me boots. I had my doubts anything on her was real.

 

My dad said goodbye to Mr. Cullen and we got into the car. I noticed as we passed them in the car that again, Edward winked at me and the blonde flipped me the bird. I guess she wanted me to know her IQ. The more I looked at her, the more I felt as if I knew her. Something told me I knew her, I just couldn’t place from where…

 

  1. Chapter 3

 

The most amazing thing has happened, my story, Hands of fate is currently one of the recomended stories of the week over at “the lemonade stand”. If you would, head over there and vote for In the Hands of fate. This is a huge honor for me, kind of like the oscars. I am still pinching myself that this is all real. I thank you in advance for your vote.

 

So my wonderful Beta pointed out that since I am asking for something, I should give something in return…

 

So here is chapter three very early, but well desirvede. Thank you for your votes!

 

Me: Oh, dear god in heaven, please tell me the bitch in pleather was not a hooker.

 

Edward: I don’t do hookers.

 

Me: That isn’t what I asked.

 

Edward: No, she isn’t a hooker.

 

Me: (wipes brow) Thank god for that, I would make you handle those flame reviews. Besides, it would piss off Bella.

 

Edward: You handle flames just fine.

 

Me: So, Charlie is in your corner this time? That’s a switch, he usually hates you.

 

Edward: So true, but it was time, don’t you think?

 

Me: Honestly, I’m just along for the ride on this fiction, you’re telling the story.

 

Edward: Precisely, so let’s get back to doing just that.

 

Me: So, your dad helped out Charlie?

 

Edward: The story I got was Renee was involved in some questionable dealings. My dad had the right connections and was able to get the right kind of information. Renee left without a fight.

 

Me: Bella seems to be okay with what happened.

 

Edward: Luckily, she was only a small child, I’m sure she forgot most of the bad stuff.

 

Me: So, Ben Cheney, do you know him?

 

Edward: (smiles)

 

Me: Oh, right, you can choose not to answer. So, was it a coincidence you showed up at the same parking lot as Bella and her father?

 

Edward: Bella hasn’t done anything in the past twenty-four hours that I’m not aware of. I had a meeting that night across town. When I received word that Bella and her father were having dinner at Gino’s, I made it a point to check on her, make my presence known, if you will. It just worked in my favor when I was able to speak with Charlie. I wanted him to know that I noticed Isabella. He knew why, and you will later.

 

Me: So, do you have an arrangement with Charlie or something?

 

Edward: (smiles)

 

Me: Listen, fucker, if I get bad reviews, it’s your fault.

 

Edward: Love, let them read the next chapter and we’ll see how many raving reviews we get…

 

(Edward now turns and gives his best panty-dropping smile to you)

 

Chapter 3

 

Angela and Ben had become inseparable for the past three weeks. He had been to our house several nights a week for dinner and to play with Abigail. He seemed completely smitten with them both. Angela swore to me that they hadn’t slept together and I honestly believed her.

 

Ben showered her with gifts, flowers, and dinners out. He would bring Abigail dolls and hair bows. He was really trying. He had even gone so far as to ask our father’s permission to date Angela. Yes, he would do nicely.

 

Last weekend, Ben took both of them to meet his family. Abigail came home with nearly a whole new wardrobe and a Barbie Corvette. I had never seen Angela happier and smiling so much, or heard Abigail giggle more. This made me happy.

 

Dad informed Angela that he was stealing her and Abigail away this weekend for dinner and a movie. I was asked by Charlotte to go clubbing with her. This weekend was a rare event as we had no clients booked. I jumped at the chance to have an actual non-work-related adult conversation.

 

Charlotte agreed that we would stick to low-key bars. I didn’t want to have to wade through drunken people and have to shout over loud music. Charlotte rolled her eyes, but then she agreed. She knew of a great jazz bar not far from Save the Date.

 

After a long hot shower, I did my makeup a little smoky and then spritzed on some fragrance. I had treated myself to a new bottle of perfume and matching shower gel recently since I had been working really hard, so I had to admit that I smelled pretty good. I reasoned that sometimes a girl just needed to pamper herself a little for that extra confidence boost. I dressed in a simple but elegant little black dress. It wasn’t anything fancy, but you could never go wrong with the right little black dress. A nice pair of heels and I was out the door to meet Charlotte.

 

We let the valet park the car and made our way inside to find a table in the corner of the room. The bar was all black with dark blue lighting illuminating the ceiling throughout the club. Each table was covered in a white tablecloth and had a small table lamp in the center. Charlotte motioned for the waitress and then proceeded to order an apple martini for each of us. The music was nice and not very loud, and I was really enjoying myself. We had been there about an hour when two guys approached our table. They were very polite and asked if they could join us, the taller, more handsome one leaning into me and inhaling deeply before the other guy elbowed him, backing him off me. Well, that wasn’t creepy at all. Charlotte explained to them that we were just trying to relax and thanked them anyway. Fortunately, they took the hint and moved along.

 

I had just ordered my second martini when I noticed none other than Mike Newton walk by our table. He noticed me immediately.

 

“Fuck, can’t I go anywhere and not run into you?”

 

“Oh, god…no, you’re the one who’s fucking up my night and I haven’t had nearly enough to drink yet to deal with your low-life ass.”

 

Mike was there with a different girl this time. She was pretty, with long black hair. I couldn’t tell what color her eyes were as they were dilated. The thought crossed my mind that he had to get all of his dates stoned before they would go out with him. I turned to his date and noticed she was looking behind me.

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” I addressed Mike’s date. She didn’t answer me; she just kept looking behind me. “Listen, I just wanted to give you a piece of free advice, run as quickly as you can from this low-life right here. You see, Mike will promise you the world, but the second he gets what he wants, he’s out the fucking door. And whatever you do, don’t have a baby with him, as he doesn’t take care of the one he has.”

 

The girl still had not made eye contact with me; whatever was over my left shoulder had her complete attention.

 

“Is that the truth, Fig?”

 

I turned quickly in the direction of the voice. Standing there in all of his glory and entourage was Edward Cullen. His grey shirt had the top two buttons undone and his blazer matched his pants. His hair looked as if he had just made out with a girl or had the best sex of his life. His eyes, however, were black and his face was absent of emotion. The room seemed to grow very quiet as he waited for Mike to answer his question. He then turned his attention to me.

 

“Legs, care to elaborate?”

 

I didn’t know if it was the alcohol or because I was really pissed that Mike was taking up air at the moment, but the fact that he couldn’t say my name really pissed me the fuck off.

 

“Okay, first of all, my name is not Legs, it’s Bella. That shit just pisses me off to no end. I have a fucking name, Edward, and I’d appreciate it if you’d fucking use it when you address me.”

 

I didn’t let him apologize as I continued my word vomit.

 

“This waste of fucking skin here is the father of my beautiful niece, Abigail, and the fucker knows it, too. He hasn’t seen her in years and he refuses to pay one goddamn dime of court-ordered child support. So yes, Mr. Cullen, you have a low-life motherfucking dead-beat father working for you.”

 

His expression changed to that of surprise.

 

“Smiles’ baby?”

 

“Who the fuck is Smiles? I’m talking about my sister, Angela.”

 

He turned his next question directly at Mike. “Giggles is your daughter, Fig?”

 

Mike didn’t answer, and frankly I was confused and getting even more pissed off. “Who the hell is Giggles?”

 

“Does Books know, Fig?”

 

“No, boss, he doesn’t know, and yes, Giggles is mine. Smiles and I had a thing a long time ago.”

 

I felt as if I had been transported to another country and they were all speaking in a language I didn’t understand.

 

“How far is he in arrears, Ms. Swan?”

 

“He owes roughly ten thousand dollars in unpaid support.”

 

One of the men in his entourage leaned into his ear. Edward’s face never changed as he listened to what the man was saying.

 

I looked at Mike and noticed that his entire face was now white as a ghost. His date had now completely disappeared. Two men suddenly appeared and grasped Mike on each side.

 

Edward was now looking at Mike, whose face had gone completely ashen. No words were ever said as the two men escorted Mike out of the bar and into the night.

 

It was like that scene in a movie; the one where once the fight was over, the music came back on and people carried on with what they were doing.

 

Our waitress suddenly appeared with a fresh round of drinks and Edward stood from the table. Once the waitress sat our drinks down, Edward handed her two crisp one hundred dollar bills.

 

“Make certain Ms. Isabella and Ms. Charlotte are kept happy while they’re here.”

 

He then turned to us. “Ladies, always a pleasure, enjoy the rest of your evening.”

 

He spoke to a few more people in the room and after each one, he would turn his attention back to our table. As he made his way to the front door, he turned one final time and nodded his head as he stepped into the darkness.

 

Monday came all too quickly. Angela and I were sitting in my office going over the calendar for the week. We had a wedding and a sweet sixteen party this weekend. It was agreed that I would work the birthday party and Angela would do the wedding. A knock at the door stopped our list making, as a courier had a package for Angela.

 

Honestly, with as much attention as Ben had been giving her lately, it was probably tickets to Aruba or something. Nothing could have prepared me for the truth.

 

“Oh, my god.”

 

I turned my attention from the Gucci shoe-inspired cake that the young birthday girl wanted to the papers that now sat in Angela’s hands.

 

“Bella…look.”

 

I took the paperwork from her and began to read the letter that sat on the top. It was from the president of People’s First Bank here in Chicago. It was addressed to Angela Swan and Abigail Grace Swan. The letter basically stated that a college fund had been opened in the name of the minor child and currently had a balance of twenty thousand dollars. Furthermore, it would increase by twenty thousand dollars every year until the child reached twenty-one years of age. Another slip of paper clipped to the letter was a cashier’s check in the amount of fifteen thousand dollars. A second letter stated that the check was for back child support and that from this day forward, a check for five thousand dollars would arrive on the first of every month for the benefit of said minor child. This would continue until the child was twenty-one, or until the child was legally adopted by any man Angela decided to marry.

 

My mind went immediately back to the conversation at the bar between Edward and Mike. All of these years and Mike had never made an effort. One conversation with his boss and suddenly Mike was made of money.

 

I didn’t have time to ponder the matter any further as Charlotte made her presence in the room known. She entered, followed by two women. The first was an older, yet very beautiful woman. She was so graceful, reminding me of the Hollywood stars of the forties and fifties. Her caramel-colored hair flowed onto her shoulders in soft yet perfect waves. Her skin was peaches and cream and sickeningly flawless. Her beige-colored pantsuit looked as if it was designer made and cost more than I made in a month. It was her eyes that stood out to me…vivid green.

 

The petite woman who stood beside her was just as beautiful. Her hair, however, was much darker and longer. Her skin was just as flawless, and yet her eyes were a beautiful blue.

 

“Bella, Angela, I’d like to introduce you to Mrs. Esme Cullen and Ms. Alice Cullen.”

 

The two women smiled brightly as they continued into the office. Charlotte motioned for them to have a seat in the chairs that faced my desk and then asked if they would care for a drink. Esme spoke first and requested a cup of hot tea in the most enchanting Irish accent I had ever heard. Charlotte excused herself and left to go make a pot of tea.

 

“Isabella,” Esme spoke, her green eyes shining, the look on her face was one of pure joy, “I was a guest at the Hale-McCarthy wedding and I was impressed to say the very least.” As she spoke, she turned her direction to Alice who nodded her head in agreement. “I was told by Mrs. Hale that you’d been very helpful in making her daughter’s day very special.”

 

“It wasn’t just me, Mrs. Cullen, I have an amazing staff.”

 

“Please, call me Esme, it’s short for Esmeralda, as I’m certain Bella is short for Isabella, am I correct?”

 

I chuckled as I smiled and agreed with her. Charlotte appeared with a tray of tea. Once we all had our cups fixed, we continued with the meeting.

 

“Bella, I’m going to get right to the point here. Alice is getting married in eight months. As big as the Hale-McCarthy wedding was, this one is going to be huge. Practically everyone that attended that wedding will attend Alice’s. That guest list, however, wouldn’t compare to this one considering the additional size of Jasper’s family. The Whitlock’s are a well-to-do family from the south and will more than double the Hale-McCarthy guest list. Bella, we’re looking at over eight hundred people.”

 

When you had done this for as long as I had, you learned a few things besides how to break up a fight. You learned that money talked and bullshit walked. It didn’t matter if you were planning a party for eight or eight hundred, the process was the same. Esme may have been wearing a designer suit and had a pretty accent, but did she have the cash to buy the wedding she was describing?

 

“Esme, I can give Alice just about anything when it comes to her reception, but the bottom line is that it’ll cost a great deal of money.”

 

Esme didn’t even flinch when I told her the Hale wedding cost nearly four hundred dollars per person. That roughly meant her reception alone was over one hundred sixty thousand dollars. The additional people would increase that cost significantly.

 

Alice began to name off the kinds of food she wanted to have served. She wanted to have a speakeasy-style wedding theme. She showed me photos of her bridesmaid’s dresses that were silk and had lace appliques adorning them. She wanted to have all of the drinks served in martini glasses with the exception of the beer. She wanted to have all of the wait staff to be male and have them in white waiter’s jackets with black bowties and cummerbunds and black pants. She would have a band playing and she wanted to have at least ten bars set up around the room. Everything she had chosen was even more high-end than the last wedding. The last item that I had to address was that of security. For the Hale wedding, we had to charge the security as a separate fee.

 

“Oh no, lass, my son, Edward, will take care of security.”

 

It hadn’t occurred to me before that Esme Cullen was…Edward’s mother. So with a plan in motion and a tight hug from Esme and Alice, the meeting was over and a wedding reception scheduled. I sat in my chair going over everything that had happened in the past few weeks. With a careful decision made, I grabbed my cell phone and scrolled down my contact list. I pressed send and waited three rings before getting an answer.

 

“Riley, if someone wanted to get in touch with Edward Cullen, how would they find him?”

 

  1. Chapter 4

 

Me: Wow, just…wow. I was the one typing and even I can’t believe this.

 

Edward: Love, we haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet.

 

Me: Lord, I’m going to need a drink.

 

Edward: (chuckles)

 

Me: So, you finally know that Abby is Fig’s daughter?

 

Edward: Yes.

 

Me: Ben is Books, and I assume he works for you?

 

Edward. Ben is my accountant. I do have legitimate business that has to be attended to. I refer to him as Books since he keeps my books.

 

Me: I like how you’ve named Angela ‘Smiles’ and Abby ‘Giggles.’ However, you clearly pissed off Bella when you called her Legs. Did that make you angry when she stood up to you?

 

Edward: When I got the call that she was sitting in one of the bars I own, I had to see her. When I approached the table, I was honestly a little irritated that Fig was nosing around yet again. Fig has always been more of a liability than an asset, but he’s still a really good earner. His standing changed, however, when I found out the real relationship between him and my Bella. When Bella stood up to me, it quite honestly made my cock hard as a rock. That and how incredible she looked and smelled, positively sinful. She is perfect for me after all.

 

Me: You called her your Bella.

 

Edward: That’s because she is. All of my men have been told to look out for her and report back to me. It’s understood that I have every intention of pursuing her. Not all of my men have laid eyes on her, but they know enough that if they come in contact with her, she gets all the same respect I get.

 

ME: Care to discuss what’ll happen with Fig and his lack of paying child support?

 

Edward: Not yet, but I’ll handle it, rest assured.

 

Me: When Bella describes Ben taking Angela and Abby to meet his family, it’s Carlisle and Esme, correct?

 

Edward: Yes, Ben works for the family, therefore he is family. Now that Angela is with him, I’ll make sure she’s protected, too.

 

Me: Good to know. By the way, we have some help we should probably mention. Savannavansmutsmut and Dollybigmomma are pre-reading and providing beta services, respectively.

 

Edward: Nice. So, are they hot?

 

Me: You have Bella, remember? (rolls eyes) Actually I don’t know, but they’re helping make this pretty so that makes them awesome regardless.

 

Edward: Fair enough.

 

Me: So, are you ready to continue this?

 

Edward: Absolutely, I’m just warming up…

 

Chapter 4

 

You know that scene in horror films where the creepy music begins to play and you shout at the television for the girl on the screen not to go into the house? Well, that was how I felt as I sat inside my car, parked outside Whiskers gentleman’s club.

 

Gentlemen my ass…

 

Riley assured me that Edward Cullen had an office inside this club and that he was normally here every afternoon. I needed to thank him. I needed him to understand that I knew what he had done, even though he didn’t have to do it. I could have just called him I guess, or I could have sent one of those edible fancy fruit basket things. I could have taken Angela’s advice and sent him the equivalent of guy flowers, a six-pack of his favorite beer.

 

However, with the amount of money he had made Mike pay, none of those things would do. I needed to look him straight in the eye and say thank you. So with a deep breath and my hand wrapped tightly around the can of pepper spray I had in my purse, I exited my car and made my way to the doors.

 

There was nothing special about the building that housed Whiskers; it was in the middle of a rundown industrial area. The building stood alone, surrounded on three sides by parking lots. The sidewalk out front had seen better days as it was littered with cracks. The tattoo shop across the street was missing the last “O” so that it now read “Tatto.” Several bars lined the street on either side, and at the end were a pawn shop and an adult bookstore.

 

I took a deep breath as my hand rested firmly on the metal handle of the door. I could do this, ten minutes tops and I would be back in my car and headed home.

 

I could feel the vibration of the base as I pulled the door of the club open. Once inside, I came to a wall that blocked the view of what was going on from any innocent passersby. To the left was a bar, behind which stood two of the biggest guys I had ever seen. The two men looked me up and down with huge smirks on their faces. Yep, I was definitely going to need a bleach bath now.

 

“Can I help you, sweet thing?”

 

I hadn’t noticed the short, stocky guy that stood in the entryway. He had on white dress pants that were pleated in the front and secured with a patent leather belt. Hello, the seventies are calling, they want their pants back. The black shirt beneath his white suit jacket was open most of the way and clearly showed the three thick gold chains that hung from his neck, nestled amongst his bushy chest hair. Try as he might, he was no John Travolta.

 

I turned my attention to him and shot him a quick smile.

 

“Yes, Sir, I’m here to see Edward Cullen.”

 

All three men snickered and glanced at each other.

 

“Boss doesn’t do the interviews, baby. That’s my job,” gold chain guy responded.

 

“Do I look like I need a job?”

 

“Everybody needs a job, sweetheart.”

 

“Yes, well, I didn’t ask for a job, I asked to see Edward Cullen.”

 

“Can I tell him who’s asking?”

 

“Isabella, Isabella Swan.”

 

The two big guys again chuckled and one of them began playing with his cell phone.

 

“Listen, babe, I know every piece of ass in this town and Boss don’t know no Isabella Swan. Now either you want to apply for a job or you turn around and head back out the way you came.”

 

Before I could get too frustrated, my father’s words came back to me. “What name did he give you? File that one away; you may need it sometime.”

 

“Then tell him Legs wants a quick word.”

 

Suddenly, it was as if I held the key to the city. The two guys behind the bar immediately straightened their backs and wouldn’t make eye contact with me anymore. Gold chain guy suddenly found his manners and actually smiled at me.

 

“My apologies, I didn’t recognize you, Miss.”

 

He picked up the phone that was sitting on the bar beside him and spoke in hushed tones. Finally, he glanced up at me and spoke, “Yes, Sir, Boss, right away.”

 

“Legs…er, Ms. Swan, if you’d please follow me.”

 

I wasn’t about to let gold chains touch me and so I stayed a half step behind him. Once we had passed the bar, the room opened up and the music got much louder. The room was painted black, I think. However, all of the lighting around the room was red. There were three stages with poles in the middle of each. All three stages had different naked girls dancing to a song I didn’t recognize. To the right I noticed a staircase that led to a wooden door at the top. The sign on the door read private. Gold chain guy asked me if I would care for a drink, but I smiled and declined.

 

The door at the top of the stairs opened and a young girl came out. She was fully dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Her mascara was running as if she had been crying. She didn’t look a day over sixteen. She stormed past me and ran out the door. Gold chain guy instructed me that Edward was in the office at the top of the stairs. I carefully climbed the stairs and stood outside the door. Here goes nothing, I said to myself as I twisted the handle and opened the door.

 

Ever entered a room and the conversation suddenly stopped? Yes, that was where I was now. Once I opened the office door, everyone stopped talking and looked in my direction. Truly, this was more than likely a good thing; conversations that were held behind closed doors in strip clubs usually weren’t garden party subjects.

 

Edward Cullen sat behind the massive desk that stood majestically in the center of the room. The desk looked to be an antique and yet well cared for. His high-backed leather chair towered over his head. The desk was clean and only housed an expensive-looking desk set. The green desk lamp illuminated the glossy surface.

 

The room wasn’t anything like the decor downstairs; the walls were all paneled with rich dark wood. Not like the paneling from the seventies, no, this was like the kind you would find in old English homes.

 

The painting that hung behind Edward’s head looked to be a portrait of a very handsome Irish man. The plaid sash that crossed his chest reminded me of a picture that my grandmother had had in her house when I was a little girl.

 

To the left stood three men; the first I recognized immediately as Emmett McCarthy. Emmett was a massive man with very broad shoulders, and I was certain his biceps were as big as my thigh. All of my dealings with him in the past had been pleasant.

 

Next to him was another man just as big. However, his skin was much darker; he wasn’t making eye contact with me. His hands crossed in front of him.

 

The last man was just as tall, not nearly as built, and his hair was a nice shade of dark blond. He also wasn’t making eye contact with me.

 

“Isabella, to what do I owe the honor?” Edwards’s deep voice sounded and brought my attention back to him. “Please, take a seat,” he motioned and then stood for me to sit in one of the chairs that faced his desk. “Does your father know you’re here?”

 

Edward Cullen held himself as a man who expected to be intimidating. He oozed power, from the constant group of men who surrounded him, to his black Armani suit he was currently wearing. He wanted people to fear him, but why?

 

I prided myself on being a strong, independent woman. I guess that was why I hadn’t had a date in over a year. I wasn’t going to willingly let Edward Cullen see that he made me just a little nervous.

 

So, instead of addressing him, I turned my attention and made my way over to Mr. McCarthy with my hand out for a handshake. “Mr. McCarthy, such a pleasant surprise to see you. How is your beautiful bride?”

 

I watched the surprised look on his face as I continued to hold my hand out. He quickly looked at Edward and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Edward do a quick nod. It was then that he took my hand in his and very softly shook it.

 

“Ms. Swan, always a pleasure to see you. My Rosalie is excellent, thank you for asking.”

 

I smiled brightly at him, “Please tell her I said hello.” He nodded with understanding and I turned and headed toward Edward.

 

All of the men in the room waited until I had taken my seat before they sat down. I thought this odd since we were in a strip club.

 

“Mr. Cullen, you’re a busy man and I only want to take a minute to personally tell you thank you. Thank you for helping my sister and my niece.”

 

A devilish grin spread across his face as he looked directly into my eyes. “I’m not certain I know what you’re in reference to, Ms. Swan.”

 

“Please, Mr. Cullen; you and I both know you had everything to do with Mike, err rather Fig, owning up to his responsibilities. I simply wanted to say thank you, it’ll go a long way toward paying for her education.”

 

“Giggles is a smart little girl, she deserves the best.” I smiled and then looked to my lap. He was right; Abigail was too smart for her own good. “Smiles did a fine job of raising her by herself, it shows.”

 

“Why do you call my sister Smiles?”

 

He didn’t bat an eye as he looked directly into my eyes. “Because giggles start as smiles. Your sister is always smiling every time I see her, and your niece has a laugh that makes my mother giggle.”

 

Fair enough. However, I refrained from asking why he called me Legs.

 

“”Yes, well, again, I know you’re a busy man and so I won’t keep you…”

 

“You didn’t answer my question, Ms. Swan; does your father know you’re here?”

 

For a brief moment, I thought about telling him to mind his own business. I was an adult after all. However, I decided that since he had just gotten Mike to pay up that I would remain nice.

 

“No, Mr. Cullen, I haven’t spoken to my dad today, he has no idea I was coming to thank you,” I answered and began to rise from my chair.

 

“This isn’t a safe neighborhood, Isabella; a beautiful girl such as you could attract some unwanted attention.”

 

“Yes, you’re right, thank you for your concern. I’ll see myself out.”

 

“Not so fast, Isabella,” Edward rose from his desk. I turned my attention back to him and sat back down in my chair. “Although it was very courageous for you to come here and thank me for helping your sister, I’m afraid I cannot accept only that.” His eyes never left mine as he continued. “After all, I did get Fig to pay your sister a large sum of money, did I not? I’d say that mere words would not be quite sufficient.”

 

I was at a loss for what to say at this point. This had not gone as I had planned. This was only supposed to take a few minutes and I would be on my way home. He was right; I was attracting unwanted attention.

 

“Then please, enlighten me on how I can properly thank you.”

 

“Easy, Isabella, have dinner with me.”

 

His suggestion was not what I had expected, although I really had no clue about what he would deem acceptable. However, just as I was about to tell him where he could stick his request for dinner, Edward began to unbutton his suit jacket and leaned back in his chair. He then casually lifted his long legs and placed them on his desk. It was at this point that I noticed the shiny handgun that sat in the waistband of his pants. I quickly looked away, only to notice that the other three men in the room were also packing.

 

Suddenly, it was as if all the puzzle pieces came together like a chain made of thousands of tiny magnets. Everything I had witnessed that related to Edward Cullen pointed to just one thing – the Mafia.

 

I had watched enough movies focused on organized crime that I felt I knew enough to steer clear. I also knew they tended to make people do what they wanted. I decided the best approach was to convince Edward that I didn’t fit into the standard mob arm candy role.

 

“Thank you for the offer, Mr. Cullen. However, a man in your position undoubtedly requires a certain type of woman to fulfill his needs. I’m sorry, but I’m not that type of woman.”

 

“Good god, Isabella, I’m asking you to dinner, not to give me a fucking lap dance.”

 

“You may not be requesting a lap dance, Mr. Cullen, but you would require something from me that I’m not prepared to give.”

 

“So if I promise to conduct myself as a perfect gentleman and not demand a blowjob at the end, would you reconsider?”

 

He was winning and he and I both knew it.

 

“I’d have your word that this would only be dinner, no other expectations?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Then yes, I’d reconsider.”

 

“Good, done,” he slammed his hand on the desk as he spoke the words.

 

Fuck me!

 

He pushed his chair away from the desk and slowly came around toward me. “Let me begin my role as a gentleman by doing proper introductions.”

 

He motioned for me to join him by the three men who were again standing. “Gents, this is the lovely Isabella Swan. Isabella, Muscles, aka Emmett, him you already know.”

 

Emmett smiled and nodded his head in my direction.

 

“This is Tonto, aka Jacob Black, one of my inner circle.”

 

Jacob was just as big as Emmett. I extended my hand out to shake his. I noticed that again, Edward nodded his approval.

 

“Pleasure to meet you, Sir,” I smiled at Jacob.

 

“And this is someone you would’ve been meeting in the very near future. This is my soon-to-be brother in law, Jasper Whitlock.”

 

“I had the pleasure of meeting your beautiful bride recently, Mr. Whitlock. Congratulations.”

 

Jasper didn’t wait for Edward, he grasped my outstretched hand and instead of shaking it, he raised it to his lips and kissed the back of it as he bowed slightly. “Thank you kindly, Ms. Isabella, the pleasure is all mine.”

 

“Isabella, let me escort you to your car. I’m sure your father would worry if I let you go by yourself.”

 

Jacob and Jasper left the room first; Edward opened the door and held it for me. I followed down the stairs, Edward close to my left side. Once I got to the last step, I chanced a look towards the bar. Sitting on a barstool eyeing Edward was another overdone, trashy-dressed blonde. Clearly, those were his type, so why was he interested in me?

 

I turned my attention back to walking out the door when the blonde suddenly crossed my path.

 

“Hey, baby, I’ve been waiting for you,” she cooed, reaching out and running her blood red nails up Edward’s arm. I continued to walk. I could care less who he was sleeping with.

 

I felt his hand wrap around my arm as he kept me from moving forward.

 

“Harley, I’ve told you to stay out of this club.”

 

“I know, but I have something for you.”

 

I really didn’t have the desire to listen to her any longer. I wanted to go home and see Abigail and take a very long hot scrubbing bath.

 

Edward ignored her as he urged me toward the door. Once outside, I noticed that Jacob, Emmett, and Jasper were standing guard around my car. I clicked the remote, unlocking the doors. Edward was at my driver’s door before I could blink. He opened the door and stood waiting for me to get into the car.

 

“Isabella, I’ll pick you up Friday at six o’clock.”

 

“Mr. Cullen, please, call me Bella, Isabella is what my grandmother calls me.”

 

Edward’s face emerged into the biggest smile I had ever seen, “Only if you’ll call me Edward.”

 

“Done,” I responded with a giggle.

 

I watched as Edward and his men stood in the road as I drove off. Again, I failed to see the black sedan that followed me home.

 

As I pulled into my driveway, I had to laugh at myself. My plans to simply thank him had gone up in flames. I now suspected Edward Cullen was a serious member of the mafia and I had a date with him. Ugh! I should have stuck with the fruit basket.

 

My dad was waiting for me when I opened my front door. This wasn’t an unusual thing to happen, he was always stopping by. My gut told me he had a reason for being here, though.

 

“Edward Cullen called me, Bella.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“He told me everything, you can drop the act.”

 

“Okay, so I went to see Edward Cullen.”

 

“No, you went to a rough and dangerous neighborhood, Bella. What the hell were you thinking?”

 

“I needed to talk to him and it isn’t like he has an office on Michigan Avenue.”

 

My dad was silent as he pondered his thoughts. I left him alone as I didn’t want to battle with two men tonight.

 

“Bella, Edward’s a good guy and I want you to give him a chance. I trust him, Bells.”

 

“Well good, because he invited me to dinner.”

 

“I know; he asked my permission first. Just promise me you’ll give him a chance?” My dad made his way towards the door. He opened it and went to leave. Suddenly, he turned around and said, “Bella, he doesn’t have an office on Michigan Avenue, but he does own a condo in the same building that Oprah lives in.”

 

Oh…

 

A/N

 

I wanted to issue a Thank you for all of you votes for my other story “In the Hands of Fate” over at the lemonade stand.

 

Second, I wanted to say that FF has been giving me major issues with allowing me to respond to your reviews. I hate that I cant give you back a personal Thank you, as you took the time to write me words of encouragement. Rest assured that as soon as the issue is resolved I will take care of it. But for now, Thank you so very much.

 

Third, I wanted to clarify any confussion about my updating and finishing this fiction. This story is three quarters written and betaed, I like to update on Wednesdays and Saturdays, some times I get excited and update early, like this week.

 

Again thank you to all of you who have reviewed and placed on favorites list. See you on Saturday.

 

  1. Chapter 5

 

Me: A strip club? Really, Edward? How very Sopranos of you.

 

Edward: My dealings are with men, men that sometimes need distractions.

 

Me: (rolls eyes) I agree with Bella, gentleman my ass…

 

Edward: Again, I said men, not gentlemen. I was prepared more for my nickname for Jacob. (Smirks)

 

Me: Tonto? Are you bloody kidding me?

 

Edward: I had far worse waiting, would you like to go back and repost?

 

Me: No thank you, I want good reviews, not to be firing squad fodder for Jacob lovers.

 

Edward: Good.

 

Me: Alright, continue with your side of this.

 

Edward: I confirmed that Fig was indeed the father of Giggles. When I met him in my office later that night, we had a little chat. Let’s just say I got my point across.

 

Me: Did you kill him?

 

Edward: No, death would have been too easy, not that I didn’t consider it. Mathisson, family is very important to me. Fig knew the importance of taking care of your responsibilities, and he knew the punishment if he chose not to. In my world, every cause has and an action.

 

Me: Makes since why he was freaked out by you knowing.

 

Edward: Clearly.

 

Me: So, Bella shows up at your, um…office.

 

Edward: That was the first time my tail on her failed.

 

Me: Explain.

 

Edward: When Guido phoned me and told me that Bella was standing in my front entry, I had Tonto get on the line to Riley and find out what the hell happened. Riley advised me he had dropped his cell and was trying to keep up with her. I told Guido to have Lurch and Tiny wait with Michelle as I wasn’t finished talking with her.

 

Me: Wait, Tiny and Lurch, the big guys behind the bar?

 

Edward: (chuckles) Yes, and Guido is the guy with the gold chains.

 

Me: And Michelle?

 

Edward: The girl who ran down the stairs.

 

Me: She better not be…

 

Edward: She’s a young girl who works for a friend of mine, she was caught doing some questionable activities and I was advising her to stop.

 

Me: So, no sump’m sump’m with her?

 

Edward: No.

 

Me: Isn’t it odd for you to be telling others not to do illegal things considering what you do?

 

Edward: I didn’t say what she did.

 

Me: And you’re not going to, are you?

 

Edward: She was selling drugs while working for my friend.

 

Me: Oh…

 

Edward: I was pissed that Bella was here; she is and always will be a true lady. She’s even too good for me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want her. Just look at the way she carried herself in that room. From the moment she opened that door to the time she left, she had complete control. She ignored all of the fear I knew she had to be feeling and made every man in that room feel good just to be in her presence.

 

Me: But that confidence you just described changed.

 

Edward: I know. I just assumed she knew about me. I mean she had already been asking questions about me. But I won’t ever forget the look in her eyes when she saw my gun and realized what I did. I thought for certain she would turn and run, never to see her again. But she surprised me and held her ground.

 

Me: So if she turned you down, you wouldn’t have…?

 

Edward: I couldn’t hurt her like that.

 

Me: Why did Jacob need your approval to shake her hand, while Jasper was able to kiss her hand?

 

Edward: Jasper is the head of his family; he has the same privileges as I do. Tonto is one of my closest men, but not my equal. She and Emmett had prior dealings and he’s my first in line.

 

Me: You know I’m still confused.

 

Edward: Yes, but it’ll be clearer later.

 

Me: Alright, so we have a dinner date.

 

Edward: (smiles and traces his thumb over his lower lip) Yes, I was expecting her to fight me further.

 

Me: So, anything else?

 

Edward: For now, no, so let’s continue…

 

Chapter 5

 

This wasn’t a date; this was simply two people eating at the same time. Everyone ate dinner; we were just doing it together. Angela nearly blew a gasket when I told her. She couldn’t believe it took me so long to figure out that Edward was in the Mafia. She said it took her ten seconds to figure out that Ben was…whatever!

 

Since this wasn’t a date and only dinner, I wasn’t going to dress up. Yeah, that lasted long enough for my father to see me and demand that I change out of the jeans I had selected. So here I sat drinking the last sip of my wine, wearing a sexy little black wrap dress and heels.

 

If one positive thing could be said about Edward, he was punctual. My dad raced to the front door like a kid on Halloween. The other positive thing was that Edward Cullen was hot. He looked so different tonight. His face didn’t seem so fierce and his body didn’t seem so rigid. This version of Edward I could grow to like.

 

“Good evening, Bella, you look very lovely this evening,” Edward said with the biggest smile on his face as he handed me a huge bouquet of lilies.

 

My dad was so excited that he quickly snatched the flowers from my hand and began ushering us out the door. I knew with Edward being in the position he was in, luxuries were a given. What I didn’t expect was the stretch limo that was parked in front of my house.

 

I didn’t expect him to have the entire restaurant reserved for just the two of us; well, the two of us and the four huge guys who sat across the room.

 

Christies was a local supper club and had been in business since the early 1900’s. The building it was housed in was rumored to have been a speakeasy at one time, with caves that ran underneath. The walls were made of red brick and the walls that separated the different rooms had rows of arches. The tables were all square and draped with white tablecloths. Tiny votive candles illuminated our table.

 

Edward, acting as the proper gentleman he pretended to be, pulled my chair out and then took his own seat. This time, I noticed the gun he’d had earlier in the week was gone.

 

I loved the feel of the old buildings here in the city. I had always wondered if the bricks could talk how exciting the stories would be.

 

Christies was old-style dining, where they took great pride in being over the top, from offering you hot towels to wash your hands, to placing your napkin on your lap for you. They were the only restaurant in town that employed a sommelier.

 

“I’m impressed, Mr. Cullen, you must know someone to get them to close this restaurant on a Friday night.”

 

Edwards’s eyes met mine as his trademark smirk crossed his face. “I’d love nothing more than to say I pulled a few strings, but I want to be honest with you. Christies has been my family’s business since my great-grandfather built this building and named it after his first wife.”

 

“Honestly, I’m impressed a little more now; I’ve always had a fascination with older buildings.”

 

“Well, anytime you want to take the grand tour, I’ll be happy to set that up for you, get you down into the caverns.”

 

“Those aren’t just rumors?”

 

“No, Bella, this was a speakeasy during prohibition.”

 

“Then I’ll be taking you up on that offer of a tour.”

 

Edward ordered a Delmonico and I went with the lamb chops. Our salad was made tableside and was by far the most amazing salad I had ever had.

 

“So, are there any other places your family owns that might impress me?”

 

Edward leaned back in his chair and wiped his face with his napkin. “Actually, yes, I just recently acquired the building you work in, as well as the banquet hall next door.”

 

“You bought that building? I thought Charlotte owned it.”

 

“No, it was actually owned by a rival family, I bought it with one of my ghost companies. They weren’t being very professional with Charlotte and I don’t tolerate those kinds of actions.”

 

I wasn’t about to ask him what had happened, it clearly was not my business. I did find it odd that he didn’t like bad business; he was in the Mafia after all.

 

“Tell me, Bella, do you enjoy working for Ms. Charlotte?”

 

“What, no nicknames for her?”

 

He chuckled and then took a drink of his wine. “No, I’m certain Ms. Charlotte would have me dragged by my shorthairs if I gave her a nickname.”

 

I began to laugh along with him. He was correct about her being tough. I had learned a great deal from her when it came to handling people.

 

“My grandfather, who I’m named after, taught me his rules for business. I’ve lived them since I took over for my father. He and my father have taught me more lessons by watching them than any college class I ever attended.”

 

“You went to college?”

 

He again began to laugh, “Does that surprise you? I went to Dartmouth, actually.”

 

“I’m sorry, that was quite rude of me. I did just stereotype you, didn’t I?”

 

He looked at me very seriously as he leaned into me and whispered, “Yes, you did, Legs, but you can make it up to me by having a drink with me.”

 

I let the nickname pass for now. After all, I did just insult him. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal to have another glass of wine with him. However, I should have known that he would want to go to a different place to have the agreed drink.

 

Our waiter appeared again and Edward slipped him what I believed to be a large amount of money. He again helped me with my chair and once again we were in the limo.

 

Edward began to type on his cell phone and never once told the driver where we were going. It was almost as if this had all been pre-planned.

 

The drive was only a few blocks, and we honestly could have walked. However, being in heels and a dress, I was glad we didn’t.

 

The building we pulled up to I recognized immediately as being Pieces, the new club in the downtown area. I avoided downtown, certain areas simply were not safe. Tonight, the thought of my safety wasn’t a concern. I knew Edward could and would protect me.

 

The club was housed in an old warehouse that had been on the mayor’s list of ‘make our city beautiful’ restorations. The city offered huge tax breaks to anyone who would take over the buildings, make repairs, and begin businesses. I had read that the Masen Foundation had come in and fixed up several buildings and I wondered if this was one of them. The entrance to the building was impressive. There were two massive oak doors with “Pieces” written in dark green and outlined in gold.

 

I had been so busy taking in the sight of the building that I failed to notice Rose and Emmett McCarthy standing just outside of the limo. I smiled and Rose pulled me into a tight hug.

 

“Oh, my goodness, it’s such a pleasure to see you again, Mrs. McCarthy.”

 

“Oh, Bella, it’s Rose to you.”

 

“Very well, Rose.”

 

It was then that I noticed Edward’s entourage had joined us. Black suits now surrounded Rose and me.

 

“Bella, I have someone I need to speak with, can I leave you to visit with Rose for a few minutes?”

 

“Oh, don’t worry about us, we’ll just catch up, just find us a table,” Rose waved her hand dismissively at Edward.

 

Edward shocked me when he reached down and took my hand in his, leading me into the building.

 

Once inside, I noticed that the place looked like an old Irish pub straight out of Ireland. The bar was long and made of a beautiful oak-stained wood. The brass footboard glistened in the lights that illuminated from the ceiling. The bar was packed and I didn’t think we would find a table. I blushed as man after man looked toward Rose and me.

 

I watched in amazement when their eyes then landed on Edward and my hand in his. It was as if the bar caught on fire as barstools began to empty. Men were tripping over themselves trying to grab their beers and make their way to the back of the room.

 

Edward then led me over to the center of the bar and pulled out a chair for me once again. He snapped his fingers and a very handsome man appeared behind the bar. Edward instructed him to give me anything I wanted and then he leaned down and kissed my forehead.

 

“I’ll try not to be too long.” And with that he joined a tableful of men in black suits behind us. I looked around and noticed a man in a black suit on each side of Rose and myself.

 

“He’s never been subtle a day in his life,” Rose chuckled while taking a sip of her martini.

 

Then it hit me, this was all a set-up. He had brought me here so that Rose could talk to me. He knew I had dealt with Rose for several months and I did consider her to be a friend.

 

“Alright, Rose, what’s this about?”

 

I was able to see Edward’s table clearly reflected in the mirrors that hung behind the bar. He wasn’t looking at me and I could see him talking to the men at the table.

 

“He told me you came to Whiskers alone the other night. I have to give it to you, you’ve got balls.”

 

I took a drink of my martini and then crossed my legs in Rose’s direction.

 

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that. In hindsight, it was really stupid and I could’ve been hurt.”

 

“He’d never let that happen you know.”

 

“He won’t always be around to protect me.”

 

“That’s not true, Bella.”

 

“Really?” my tone was condescending.

 

“Edward always has an eye on you.”

 

I looked into the mirror again and saw that Edward was still talking with the men at the table.

 

“No, he doesn’t, he’s having a conversation over there, see, look in the mirror for yourself.”

 

Rose smiled and then shook her head, “The bartender, Bella, he hasn’t been more than a few feet from us since Edward gave him his instructions.”

 

I hadn’t noticed it until now, but she was right.

 

“I’ll bet you also don’t see the car that follows you around all day?”

 

“What car?”

 

“My point exactly.”

 

Rose and I sat in silence for a few minutes. As I continued to sip my drink, I took more notice of the room. When I first arrived, there were mostly men that you would find in any corner bar getting a drink after work. Now in addition to them, there were ladies dressed to the nines, huddled around tables sipping colorful drinks. There were more suits than I had ever seen. A scene from Goodfellas came to mind where the lead character came into the room and instantly a new table was placed near the stage for his date and himself.

 

“You do know what Edward does, correct?”

 

“It didn’t take me long to figure it out, although my sister disagreed.”

 

“He’s a very powerful man, Bella.”

 

I took another drink and nodded my head, “I thought so.”

 

Rose then turned to me and placed her hand on my knee. I looked first to her hand then back to her eyes. “He may be the most powerful man in this city, but right now, you have more power than even him.”

 

I blinked at her and then tipped my head to the side. “How do you figure?”

 

“He’s willing to do pretty much anything to have you by his side.”

 

And just as quickly as she got my attention, she lost it.

 

“I can’t give a man like him what he needs,” I stated as I turned my body back to the bar.

 

“Just what do you think a man like Edward would need?”

 

I began to run my finger around the rim of my glass. “Rose, I’ve seen Casino and Goodfellas, and I’ve watched enough episodes of the Sopranos to know that the women who are beside the powerful men are expected to ignore certain things.”

 

“Please enlighten me, what kinds of things?” Rose questioned; defensiveness in her voice.

 

I turned my body back toward hers, “Okay, for instance, the wives are expected to turn their heads so that the men can have the goomah, I can’t do that. I can’t just sit back and let him get his dick sucked under the dinner table just because he carries a gun. I’m just not built like that.”

 

“Let me interrupt you on one thing; goomah is Italian, Edward is full-blooded Irish, so it would be mot. Furthermore, his mother would kill him if he tried that. Italians and the Irish are different in more ways than just nationality. The whole girl on the side thing is frowned upon; he would lose respect from his men.”

 

“Why me though? Why not one of the trashy bleached blondes that are hanging off of him nearly every time I see him? They’d be better suited for him than me, especially that one with the huge boobs.”

 

“Who, Harley?” Rose made a look of disgust.

 

“Yes, he did call her that, Harley, why not her?”

 

Rose turned back to the bar and took another drink from her glass; she motioned to the bartender for another drink.

 

“Miss Swan, can I get you another?”

 

“No thank you, I’m fine for now.”

 

“First, Harley isn’t Irish, she’s actually Italian. However, it’s more than that; she didn’t come by that name by accident.”

 

“What, does she enjoy that brand of motorcycle?”

 

“No, she got that name because she can quite quickly suck-start a Harley.”

 

I began to choke on my drink and I noticed that several men in the room turned their attention to me as the bartender came over and made sure I was alright.

 

I quickly recovered and asked for a glass of water. Once I regained my composure, I thanked the bartender who informed me his name was Devin.

 

“So, you’re saying it’s important for Edward to be with an Irish woman?”

 

“It’s non-negotiable, actually. He can choose whom, but they have to be of full Irish descent. Edward must produce full-blooded Irish heirs.”

 

“So why not just make a trip back to Ireland, scope out a girl, and then take her to the altar?”

 

“That would be ideal, right? As far back as anyone can recall, though, the Cullen’s have made arrangements for marriages between other influential Irish families. However, when Carlisle made the arrangement with the McCreary’s for Edward, it was before Mr. and Mrs. McCreary had eight boys.”

 

I had to laugh, as that would make it difficult for an heir to happen.

 

“Anyway, it just so happened that Carlisle touched base with an old friend, your father, and he made him an offer.”

 

My father’s words came back, “He said he might need a favor someday.”

 

“Please don’t tell me…”

 

“Oh, no, Bella, your father told Carlisle that Edward would have to earn your hand if he really wanted it. You just made it easier for him to approach you by going to Whiskers.”

 

I looked again at Edward in the mirror. This time he looked directly at me and winked.

 

“Listen, Bella, putting aside what he does for just a moment, at the end of the day, he’s a really good guy.”

 

I already knew he was a good guy, the reason I was sitting at this bar was because he was a good guy.

 

“Bella, do you ever wonder why his men avoid eye contact with you? Or why Harley tries so hard to stay by his side?” I just shook my head no. “It’s because he commands so much respect and carries so much power.” Rose leaned into me again as she lowered her voice, “Now that you know all that, tell me you don’t enjoy this new power you have over him, hmm?”

 

I didn’t want to have this so-called power over him, I had only wanted to say thank you, not start a war.

 

“Yes, but Rose, arranged marriages, guns, drugs…”

 

“Hold on, Bella, the arranged marriage isn’t like it was back in Henry the Eighth’s time. Emmett and I were an arranged marriage. We were introduced once we were sixteen and we had the choice of whether or not to marry. Same with Alice and Jasper, it’s to strengthen the families.”

 

“Wait…Alice is…?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Oh my, Jasper talks so highly of her.”

 

“That’s because he’s head over heels in love with her. Jasper and AMEX are soul mates, its perfect.”

 

“AMEX?” I looked at her confused.

 

“Oh yes, you haven’t been schooled in Edward’s nicknames. Well, you already know that you’re Legs.”

 

“Yes, I’m well aware, and I can’t say that I take that as a compliment, more like a bad porn name.”

 

Rose laughed as she patted my leg, “I knew I loved you for a reason.”

 

“Alice is AMEX because she can burn through a credit limit like no one’s business. Emmett is Muscles because, well, he has a lot of them, and I’m…”

 

“Wait, let me guess.” Rose was a beautiful woman, her dark brown hair and hazel eyes would stop traffic, she was also very well-endowed. “My guess is Stacks, due to…”

 

“My boobs? Nope, it’s Wheels. See, I can fix anything on wheels; cars, motorcycles, you name it.”

 

I felt so horrible for saying that to her now. “Rose, I’m so sorry…”

 

“Nope, you don’t get to apologize with words, the Cullen’s are a family of actions and I want to show you something.”

 

Rose slid her drink away from her and grabbed her clutch. She fluidly stood up from the stool. Wrapping her arm around me, she leaned over and whispered, “You realize that sitting at that table are some pretty heavy hitters in Edward’s world. Any man in this room would rather eat his own tongue than interrupt that conversation, yet if you were to walk over there right now, they would all Miss Bella you to death, and Edward would stop what he’s doing to make any request you had happen right then and there. Like it or not, by kissing your forehead, he told the entire room how important you are to him. Want to see if I’m right?”

 

I rolled my eyes at her, “I need the ladies’ room.”

 

Since talking with Rose, I was now more aware of things happening around me. I watched as people who were standing in our way suddenly moved without being asked. When we reached the ladies’ room, there was a line of about six ladies waiting. Once we entered the hall, all six moved to allow us to move to the front of the line. Rose opened the door to the ladies’ room and I followed her. Standing beside the sink, however, was the girl who had been with Fig that night in the jazz bar. She didn’t notice Rose or I enter the room as she leaned over the cabinet and snorted some white powder into her nose.

 

I watched in horror as she passed the rolled-up bill to the girl standing beside her, Harley. Knowing what they were doing brought the reasons behind Victoria’s death to the forefront of my mind. I turned on my heels as fast as I could and headed back into the bar. I could not tolerate anything to do with illegal drug use. I practically sprinted back to the barstool that I had been sitting on and turned the corner to tell Edward I needed to leave.

 

Rose’s words about the members at the table were long forgotten as my desire to get as far away from those girls as possible won out. My steps never slowed as I came to an abrupt stop at the table. I had no idea what was being said, and I didn’t care.

 

“I’m sorry for interrupting, gentlemen,” I turned to Edward, “Edward, I had a lovely time and thank you so much for dinner, but I have to go.”

 

I didn’t wait for him to respond as I turned and ran for the door. I had no idea how Edward got to the door of the bar so quickly, but he managed to open it for me. The limo driver was standing beside the car with the door open and waiting. I quickly slid into the seat and closed my eyes, resting my head against the back of the seat. Edward’s phone rang and I heard him answer it, but I didn’t process what he was saying.

 

I opened my eyes and was able to let out the breath I had been holding. I noticed Edward was in the middle of calling someone. When they picked up, I couldnt hear their side of the conversation on the other end.

 

“A cheadaitear Michelle imo mbarra.”(Who let Michelle into my bar?)

 

“Bhi si ag deanamh buille aris le Harley.” (She was doing blow with Harley.)

 

“Aimsigh Fior agus a dheanamh air seo a ghlanadh suas.”

 

(Call Fig and tell him to clean this up.)

 

Ta me ag cur lei go dti mo theach” (I’m taking her to my home.)

 

He closed his phone and remained silent as he looked out the window. He reached over and gently took my hand in his.

 

“You do know I’m fluent in Gaelic, right?”

 

He chuckled as he turned his face back to me. “Yes.”

 

When the driver finally stopped in the underground garage, Edward never let my hand go as he helped me out of the car.Once in the elevator, he slid a gold card into a slot at the top of the number panel. The ride was quick and the door opened to what I assumed was his condo. The floors were marble and the walls were painted in a neutral shade of cream. The chandelier that hung from the ceiling was crystal and beautiful. The room we were currently standing in appeared to be a foyer. I saw that directly in front of us was a long hall that led to a wall of windows. I didn’t wait for an invitation as I walked down the hall to look out onto the city.

 

My eye caught the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier and it held my attention. This had been an interesting night; it definitely wasn’t what I had planned it to be, although that seemed to be the norm when it came to Edward.

 

“Come sit and talk with me.”

 

I turned and watched as Edward had two glasses of wine sitting on the coffee table. He was keeping his word at being a gentleman; he was waiting for me to sit.

 

I slowly walked around the table and took my seat beside him.

 

“I’m so sorry about the bathroom, Bella; she wasn’t supposed to be there.”

 

“It’s not your fault, Edward. She doesn’t realize that she’s throwing her life away.”

 

“No, she knows it; she just doesn’t care right now. I’ve tried to get her to get help, but she isn’t ready. Listen, I know Rose had a talk with you tonight…”

 

“That was a set-up, wasn’t it?”

 

“My Mum thought it would sound better coming from a woman, one that you already trusted.”

 

“I understand why you did it,” I sighed.

 

“Then you’re not upset with me?”

 

I chuckled as I turned to him. “No, I’m not mad at you,” I looked at him directly as I spoke, “But I can’t be what you need me to be, Edward.” I leaned forward and took the wine glass off the table, taking a large drink before continuing. “I refuse to be an accessory for you to wear when you feel like it. I refuse to turn a blind eye to any extracurricular activities you feel the need to have.”

 

Edward leaned forward, resting his forearms on his thighs. “Who said that’s what I want or need?”

 

“Please, a man in your position has a role to portray.”

 

“So you’re saying that every successful businessman is a man-whore?”

 

“You know what I mean.”

 

“Clearly I don’t, Bella. If I wanted a trampy, uneducated sex toy, I would have Harley in here. I want a highly intelligent, beautiful lady.”

 

“Why do you keep her around then?”

 

“Well, I assume you know why I call her Harley?”

 

“Yes, Rose told me several nicknames you have for people,” I giggled as I remembered the conversation.

 

“Well, even though she has her mouth open most of the time, she always has her ears open, too. Men seem to want to tell a woman who is currently on her knees all kinds of interesting things. She just feels the need to tell them to me.”

 

“So, you and she have never…?”

 

“Me fuck Harley? Not in this lifetime.”

 

“Good to know.”

 

The conversation I’d had with Rose raced around in my head. Edward had been more than generous to my family. Could I have a relationship with him?

 

“Come on, Bella, what do you say? Give us a chance. You never know what might happen.”

 

Yeah, it was that last part that had me worried…

 

A/N

 

WOW!

 

With all the words in the English language and all I can come up with is WOW. But that is how I feel. I am seriously blown away with the number of you who tell me you love this fiction as much as I do. All of the recommendations and amazing reviews. I just can’t get over it.

 

Once again thank you to my beta Dollybigmomma and my prereader Savannavansmutsmut who have both given me huge advise.

 

To the wonderful people over at Fanfiction Fridays Rec Rob Attack who have graciously said they recommend me this week….squeal! Take a look at their amazing website and follow them.

 

Ok, so enough…see you Wednesday!

 

  1. Chapter 6

 

Edward: She was so beautiful. I’ve watched her many times, but as that door opened, it was like a ray of sunshine after a hard rain. I couldn’t really speak until Charlie snatched the flowers. I knew in that moment I had to do everything in my power to win her heart.

 

Me: Wow…

 

Edward: Sorry, I usually let you lead, but that was one of my favorite memories I have.

 

Me: That’s perfectly fine. That was actually my favorite chapter so far.

 

Edward: Just hold off on that favorite designation, the best is yet to come.

 

Me: And by come, you mean that literally?

 

Edward: (chuckles) Such a perverted mind you have.

 

Me: I prefer tastefully erotic imagination, personally.

 

Edward: I stand corrected, milady.

 

Me: So, your great-grandfather was married twice?

 

Edward: Yes, and both ladies were named Christie, if you can believe that.

 

Me: Makes monogramming towels easier.

 

Edward: His second wife was a cousin of his first, that’s another tradition we have, or had rather.

 

Me: It seems you have a lot of traditions.

 

Edward: Doesn’t every nationality?

 

Me: Good point.

 

Edward: He married for comfort, not love. I won’t do that.

 

Me: So, he built her a restaurant?

 

Edward: Yes, he wanted her to be taken care of if something happened to him.

 

Me: Continue, please.

 

Edward: After I finished my talk with Michelle, I sought the advice of the one person who would be perfectly honest with me, my Ma. I told her everything, the meeting with Bella and my fear that she would run from me. Ma said we wouldn’t give her time to be afraid, that we would show her all the good things we do every day. Once Ma saw that Bella may be able to overlook the ugly, we decided that Rose would be the best person to give her a little taste. Rose is a lot like Bella, strong and independent. Who better to answer her questions?

 

Me: I have a suggestion, how about you?

 

Edward: Hey, I was working on being charming.

 

Me: Well, at least you have your priorities in the right place, charm before honesty… (rolls eyes)

 

Edward: Anyway, so I watch her carefully as Rose tells her everything. Honestly, I’m waiting for her to jump up and run. It seems like hours that they sit there and lean into each other and whisper. At one point, I looked around the room and noticed several men looking at them. I wasn’t the only one who thought she was beautiful

 

Me: Then they went to the bathroom.

 

Edward: Oh, god, the bathroom. I know about Bella’s sister; well, I know she had a sister that died. Charlie didn’t talk about it and I didn’t push it.

 

Me: So, how did you get to the door so fast?

 

Edward: Well, I had several…friends…present in that bathroom and one in particular sent me a text about what was happening. I wasn’t sure what Bella would do, but I was slightly surprised when she rushed the table and then turned to leave.

 

Me: Edward…I don’t care for the way you say “friends.”

 

Edward: Mathisson, I don’t sleep with every girl I meet, I have female friends.

 

Me: Uh huh…

 

Edward: So, I got her into the car and I knew I had to diffuse the situation, try to save any chance I had at having her.

 

Me: If you knew Bella was fluent in Gaelic, why did you use it when you spoke on the phone?

 

Edward: Simple, the person I was speaking to didn’t speak English well.

 

Me: Oh…

 

Edward: So, I took her to the place I wanted her to be the most, my home. I knew we would have no distractions and I needed to get a read on her. Of all the things I worried that she would have issues with, never did I think it would be me having other women on the side. After we sat down and I convinced her to at least give us a try, she wanted time to think about it and I couldn’t fault her for that. That, however, didn’t deter me from the challenge she issued me, prove that I was a man of my word. Bella Swan would not know what hit her…

 

Chapter 6

 

Early the next morning, I phoned my father and asked that he meet me for breakfast at the diner near my house. After last night, I was definitely more aware of my surroundings. I noticed the black sedan was nowhere in sight.

 

I parked my car and made my way inside the diner. When we were little girls, dad would bring us here all the time and buy us pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. Although I had changed to coffee and an omelet, the diner was still the same.

 

My father was already seated with a cup of coffee raised to his lips when I sat down across from him.

 

“Morning, Daddy.”

 

“Good morning, Bells.” His face broke into a wide smile.

 

Doris, the same waitress that had served me those pancakes all those years ago, stood to my left, pouring my first of many cups of coffee.

 

“Good morning, Bella. Cheese omelet is already on the grill and should be out shortly,” Doris spoke in her usual friendly tone.

 

“Thank you, Doris, how’s your family?”

 

“Everyone’s good, Phil is in his second year of med school and Carmen just got engaged.”

 

The bell dinged three times indicating food was ready and so Doris excused herself to retrieve it. I took a much-needed sip of my coffee and let the caffeine fill my system.

 

“So, how did it go?” Charlie asked.

 

I didn’t look at him as I responded, “I’m sure you already know.”

 

“I know he wants to pursue a relationship with you and I’ve given my blessing.”

 

“Jesus, Dad, this isn’t the 1800’s, I don’t need your blessing to have a boyfriend.”

 

My father only looked at me over the top of his coffee cup. I knew that he was old school, where you did ask the family for permission. I also knew if I decided to date Edward, my father would assume a wedding was on the horizon.

 

“He gave me a lot to think about,” I replied, looking into the caramel-colored liquid that rested in my cup, like it had the answers I needed.

 

My dad placed his cup down and folded his hands on the table top. “What’s there to think about? You go to dinner with him, he gives you a ring, we call the priest, and this time next year I have more grandbabies.”

 

I rolled my eyes at him as he chuckled, although I knew he was completely serious.

 

“I can’t be what he needs, Dad.”

 

My dad cocked his head to the side and gave me a bewildered look.

 

“Can’t be what he needs? “

 

“Yes, Dad, he’s a man of power and he’s used to having things his way, which I’m sure includes any woman he wants, whenever he wants them.” I took a deep breath and turned my gaze briefly to look out the window. I now noticed a guy in a black suit standing on the corner. I turned my attention back to my father, “I can’t turn a blind eye to him having other women, Dad. I don’t care how much money he has or how many people he knows, or how many good things he does for people. I deserve to be loved and respected, and he can’t truly do that if he’s bed-hopping.”

 

“Does he, as you call it, bed hop?”

 

“His office is in a strip joint, Dad, what do you think?”

 

“I think you’re assuming and that isn’t fair.”

 

He did have a point, I was assuming.

 

“Why are you suddenly his biggest fan? You do recall what he does for a living? Have you forgotten you’re still a cop?”

 

I knew as soon as the words left my mouth that I had crossed a line.

 

“Isabella Marie, I’m well aware of my duty and I don’t need you to remind me of that. My advice to you is to quit pointing fingers at Edward and remember there are always three pointing back at you when you do.”

 

His words stung and I knew he was right. People that claimed to be honest cheated the system every day, whether it was a banker or a teacher or even a doctor, people sometimes did illegal things.

 

“Sorry, Dad, you’re right.”

 

“Is that the only reason you won’t give him a chance?”

 

I thought for a second and took another sip of my coffee.

 

“I just can’t see how you’re okay with being involved in this. Beside the fact he’d possibly want other girls on the side, what about the other things associated with organized crime? What about the prostitution, guns, and the drugs, Dad? I know you can’t be okay with illegal drugs.”

 

I watched as my father took another drink of his coffee. “Well, since you mentioned it, the Cullen’s aren’t involved in drug trafficking. That’s an area they leave to the Volturi.”

 

I felt shivers go down my spine after he said that name. The Volturi were a well-known Italian crime family in New York and Miami. They were known to be very violent and stopped at nothing to get what they wanted. I had read news articles where certain members had even killed children of people who got in their way.

 

“Did you even ask Edward what his involvement in all these ‘illicit’ activities was?”

 

“Why would I ask him that, Dad? Last night was supposed to be simply two people having dinner, not Pre-Cana.”

 

Before my father could respond, a dark figure appeared at the end of the table.

 

“Mr. Swan, Miss Swan, I apologize for the interruption. Mr. Cullen wishes to extend you a good morning and instructed that I deliver this.” His glove-covered hand slid an elongated black velvet box onto the middle of the table. “Mr. Cullen also asks that you allow him to take care of the bill as I’ve already done.”

 

My dad thanked the very large man and even shook his hand.

 

“Well, I guess that answers my question of whether you two are dating now,” my father chuckled as he took another drink of his coffee.

 

“I didn’t agree to date him, Dad.” He quickly set down his coffee cup and looked at me questioningly. “He told me that he didn’t need to have a girl on the side. I told him he’d have to prove himself, and that he could say anything he liked, it still didn’t make it the truth.”

 

My father only lowered his head and shook it back and forth.

 

“Well, then I hope you’re ready to be courted, because you gave him a challenge, something I have a feeling he’ll enjoy more than you.”

 

By the end of the day, I would see how true my father’s words were.

 

I didn’t bother looking inside the velvet box; it didn’t take a rocket scientist to tell me it was a bracelet, and probably expensive. I tossed the box into my purse and headed to work. I had to stop for gas, and once I had pulled in, I noticed the black sedan was already parked behind me at the gas pump. I was barely out of my car when the same large man was already filling my gas tank. He reached into his pocket and handed me a large envelope.

 

“Ms. Swan, please open this one, you wouldn’t want to get me into trouble, would you?”

 

I took the envelope and tore it open. Inside I found a gold credit card-shaped card inside. A small note was wrapped around it.

 

Isabella,

 

Next time you want to pay me a visit, come to my condo, not my old office.

 

I want to keep you safe.

 

Edward

 

I wasn’t in my office thirty seconds when a knock sounded on my door. A large bouquet of flowers made their way in. Charlotte set them on the corner of my desk and gave me a simple lopsided grin.

 

“Someone made an impression,” she spoke in a singsong voice.

 

“UGH!”

 

“I take it this isn’t the first thing you’ve received this morning?”

 

“No, but I hope it’s the last.”

 

“Why would you want that? You have a man paying some serious attention to you and you want him to stop?”

 

“Yes, because he’s just…ugh!”

 

“Talk to me, Bella.”

 

Charlotte took the chair that faced my desk. She looked at me with sadness and concern.

 

“He wants to pursue a relationship with me, he asked me to give us a chance.”

 

“Do you not want that?”

 

“I-I want…I don’t think I can be what he needs.”

 

“What does he need? A girlfriend? Someone to share dinner with, go to movies?”

 

“Charlotte, be serious, this is Edward Cullen we’re talking about, he doesn’t stand in line for movies or take walks in the park on Sunday afternoon. He carries a gun, has men who carry guns surrounding him constantly, and has his office in a strip club. He’s a mafia boss for god’s sake! He needs some hardcore, gun-carrying, tramp-dressing, sex addict that’s content to look the other way. I’ll never be that.”

 

Why was it that I was the only one who saw this? Edward needed someone like the trashy pleather-wearing bitch I saw him with the other night. He chose to have those kinds of women around him, so it was obvious to me that they were what he really preferred.

 

Charlotte looked at her shoes and then back to me. “He also owns most of the buildings in this part of Chicago, contributes millions of dollars a year to various charities in the city, and attends mass at Saint Patricks every Sunday with his family, which, correct me if I’m wrong, is way more than you. The last time you attended mass, young lady, was…when?”

 

Goddamn it…

 

I was scheduled to have a meeting with Esme and Alice this afternoon to begin planning Alice’s engagement party. I had a few errands to run before the meeting, but honestly, I was worried that one of Edward’s men would follow me and pay for the tampons I needed to buy.

 

Before I could get out the front door, Charlotte came running after me. “Bella, change of plans, you’re now meeting the ladies at Amore for lunch.”

 

I didn’t have a single second to question her as a husky voice spoke from behind me.

 

“Ms. Swan, your car awaits.”

 

I turned my body toward the voice to see the same driver from last night opening the back door of a black sedan. Deciding against an argument, I crossed the sidewalk and headed for the car. It wasn’t this driver’s fault for making me angry and I didn’t plan to take it out on him. This kind man was only doing his job. I made myself comfortable as he closed the door behind me.

 

“Sir?”

 

“Yes, Ms. Swan?”

 

“Since I have the feeling that I’ll be seeing quite a lot of you, can I have your name, please?”

 

Looking at me through the rearview mirror, he nodded. “It’s Angus, Angus McCoy, Ms. Swan,” he spoke in a thick Irish accent; his grey eyes never meeting mine.

 

“Very well, Angus, and in the future, it’s Bella.”

 

“I’m sorry, Ms. Swan, Boss says I have to refer to you as Ms. Swan.”

 

“Well, Angus, he isn’t here now, is he?”

 

“Sorry, Ms. Swan, I have orders to follow.”

 

I couldn’t argue with Angus, he was loyal to Edward, even if he wasn’t around. I would remember that in the future. Little did I know it would come in very handy.

 

Angus drove me the twenty minutes to Amore, a restaurant that was just north of Michigan Avenue. The large green awning hung over the entrance and covered the valet area. Angus pulled in and a man in a red suit opened my door for me.

 

“Good afternoon, Ms. Swan, lovely to see you,” the man in the suit addressed me.

 

“Thank you.”

 

The door to the restaurant was being held by a man in a black suit and I wondered if he worked for Edward or the restaurant. I made my way through the door, thanking the man who held it open for me. He tipped his head to me, but he didn’t make eye contact.

 

A busty blonde in a tight black business suit was waiting on me once I entered the foyer. She looked familiar, but I didn’t have time to ponder on it long before she turned on her heel, curtly snapping at me. “Ms. Swan, if you’d please follow me. Mrs. Cullen is waiting in the garden room.”

 

The blonde gave me a quick look up and down over her shoulder with a tight lip and a furrowed brow; she was clearly sizing me up.

 

“Oh, Bella, how lovely to see you again, lass,” Esme rose from her chair and greeted me with a kiss to the cheek. Alice was seated to her left and Rosalie to her right. I saw only one empty chair and I waited for the blonde to finish pulling it back for me.

 

“Thank you, I’ll take it from here,” I told the blonde as I took my chair from her.

 

“As you wish,” she snapped and then quickly turned on her heels and left the room.

 

“Oh, dear, sorry about Jane, I’m not sure why Edward hasn’t fired her yet. She usually isn’t this rude, though,” Esme stated as I took my seat.

 

“That’s because she knows Edward has his sights set on our Bella, mother,” Alice stated.

 

“Like that would change anything when it comes to Edward, you know as well as I do he doesn’t cross those lines.”

 

“Wait…Edward owns this place, too?”

 

All three ladies looked directly at me, and then began to giggle.

 

“Yes, Bella, Edward owns a lot of restaurants, bars, and hotels here in Chicago,” Alice chimed in.

 

“Bella, please say you’ll forgive my scheming from last night,” Esme voiced, changing the subject completely.

 

I smiled at her. I knew she only meant well and I highly doubted she had ever been told no a day in her life.

 

“There’s nothing to forgive, I assure you.”

 

“So, my son tells me you’ve given him some homework, so to speak.”

 

“I’m sorry?”

 

“Don’t worry; I think it’s good for him to work for something. Your father was right in giving you the choice and not just handing your hand over to him. You’re exactly what he needs, Bella. You have a good head on those pretty shoulders of yours, and good for you for not just falling down at his feet. He needs to work hard at something once in a while.”

 

I was astonished at Esme’s words. She thought I was playing some game with Edward, for what I wasn’t certain.

 

“Esme, I feel the need to clarify some things with you. I didn’t agree to a relationship with your son not because I’m playing a game of sorts with him, but I honestly feel there’s someone else more suited to his needs out there than me. I truly want nothing from him.”

 

“Told you,” Rosalie interjected.

 

“Oh, I agree, Rose, she’s perfect.” Esme took a sip from her tea cup and then addressed me again.

 

“You’re exactly what Edward needs. He’s always gotten everything handed to him since he was in short pants. For the first time in his life I believe, he has to work at getting what he wants. Now, my question to you is are you ready for tropical storm Edward?”

 

“I’m sorry, but I don’t follow you, what storm?”

 

All three ladies began looking at each other and laughing. Alice spoke first.

 

“How many gifts have you gotten today?”

 

“Three.”

 

“Only three? He really isn’t taking this seriously, is he?”

 

No sooner did Rose speak the words when the waiter brought a plate of food and set it down in front of me.

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t order this,” I said to the waiter.

 

“No, Ma’am, Mr. Cullen gave instructions to serve this to you with his compliments.”

 

I looked at the plate that now sat in front of me. It was a huge, thick-cut steak with the bone resting on one side. It looked incredible and smelled heavenly. I wanted nothing more than to dive into that steak.

 

“Sir, could you remove this and then bring me a Caesar salad, please?”

 

He looked at me bewildered and then took the plate away. “My pleasure, Madam.”

 

“You do realize you just sent back the house steak that’s dry aged three months and costs over two hundred dollars?” Esme questioned me.

 

“I didn’t want steak for lunch, I wanted a salad. He can’t make me eat something I don’t want.”

 

“Oh, my sweet lass, you’re more perfect than I thought!”

 

My suspicions were correct when I did finally make it to the pharmacy; my purchases had already been paid for, including Angela’s birth control as well. I made the two-block walk back to the office to find the black sedan was again parked across the street. This time I felt bold and waved to the driver.

 

Once inside, I tossed the bag into the chair and proceeded to finish my work. It had been nearly two hours since I’d had any deliveries and I began to think he had finally given up. I was certain Esme or one of the girls had phoned him and told him I had sent back his food, and even worse, that I had paid for my own lunch and gave the waiter a tip.

 

I still hadn’t opened the first gift he had given me this morning and honestly, I didn’t feel I should. I was going to return them to him. It was only fair that if I didn’t plan to have a relationship with him that they should go to someone who would.

 

Charlotte came bouncing in and sat on the corner of my desk. “You have very large balls, my love.”

 

“What?”

 

“Returning a gift from Edward Cullen; that, my dear, is ballsy.”

 

I closed my eyes and tossed my head back into the headrest. I was so tired of this.

 

“Charlotte, I’m returning everything, it isn’t right to keep any of it.”

 

Charlotte then handed me a robin’s egg blue box; the box that needed no introduction. “What the hell…when did that show up?”

 

“Does it matter? It’s from Tiffany’s! Why not take it for a test drive?”

 

I just rolled my eyes, shaking my head. This was just too much. Next thing he would be sending me would be a diamond-studded pistol with a matching leather combination holster and garter belt.

 

The box sat on my desk, taunting me, teasing me. I wanted so badly to pull those white ribbons off and tear into that blue box, but I couldn’t. I would return both boxes and enough money to cover all the purchases he’d made today. He clearly didn’t get me. I wasn’t someone who could be bribed with bobbles and shiny objects. I needed to see real tangible proof that he wanted to be with me.

 

Tossing the blue box into my purse, I headed to the one place I knew he would be; Whiskers.

 

Ignoring the black sedan that was still parked across the street, I jumped into my car and headed toward the club. I had it all planned out, what I would say to him; I would be polite yet firm. As I turned the corner and parked my car in the parking lot, I made certain my pepper spray was still in my purse.

 

Once inside, I noticed the same two men stood behind the bar. They noticed me instantly and the taller man came around to stand in front of me.

 

“Ms. Swan, why are you here?”

 

“I need to see Edward.” I went to walk by, but he quickly stepped in my way.

 

“Boss isn’t here, Ms. Swan, he said you knew.”

 

“Knew what?”

 

“He works out of his condo now. He moved his whole office over there.”

 

The gold card…the note…shit…shit shit shit.

 

“Thank you.” I turned and began to walk out.

 

“Oh no, Ms. Swan, let me walk you out, this neighborhood isn’t safe for a lady such as yourself.”

 

I made it back home to find Angela and Abigail having a tea party. I loved how simple things were in our house.

 

“Auntie Bella!” Abigail called out.

 

I smiled as I crossed the room and joined them. Angela had a mischievous smile on her face.

 

“Abby, honey, why don’t you go get a cup for Auntie Bella.”

 

“Yeah!” she shouted as she hurried off to her bedroom.

 

“Can I see what he gave you?”

 

I rolled my eyes and handed her my purse. Angela found the two boxes and took them out of my purse.

 

“Bella, you haven’t even opened them yet.”

 

I then turned to look at her and reached for my purse.

 

“I’m giving them back so what’s the point?”

 

“Quit being a stuck-up bitch, Bella.”

 

One thing about my sister was she always spoke her mind. Majority of the time she was right. This time was no exception, I was being a bitch. Edward was doing what I had asked him to do.

 

“Just open the fucking boxes.”

 

She placed the two boxes in my lap and waited. I would have waited all night except that I knew my sister would just wait right along with me. She was more stubborn than I could ever wish to be. I took the long black box first and slowly removed the green ribbon. Resting inside was the most beautiful tennis bracelet I had ever seen.

 

“It’s just like mine,” Angela spoke as she showed me the same bracelet that wrapped around her right wrist. “It’s tradition in the Cullen family to give one to the woman you’re dating. Ben gave me mine after our second date. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed the Cullen ladies wearing theirs; although I’m jealous, as yours has a little bigger diamonds than mine.”

 

Angela was right; the diamonds were slightly bigger.

 

Finally, I opened the Tiffany’s box.

 

“Do you know what this is?” I questioned holding the box up.

 

“I have my suspicions, but no, I’m not certain.”

 

Resting inside the box was a shamrock pendant. The leaves were emeralds and the stem was made of platinum, the chain was also made of platinum. I gasped as I touched the green stones.

 

“Oh, my god, Bella, that’s breathtaking.”

 

“Do you know why he gave me this?”

 

“No clue, you should ask him.”

 

Angela was right; I did want to know why he felt the need to give me these particular pieces of jewelry. The bracelet was so beautiful and a huge part of me wanted to keep it, but that wouldn’t be right. It was still early and I decided that if I was going to give them back, I should just do it.

 

The drive to his condo went quicker than I had hoped, all the courage I’d had when I went to the club was long since gone. I shouldn’t have opened the damn boxes.

 

I slid my card into the slot as I had seen Edward do and the elevator sprang to life. I remembered that there wasn’t an additional door once the elevator opened and I hoped I wasn’t interrupting anything.

 

The door opened to reveal a very handsome Edward Cullen standing there waiting. I couldn’t help but smile at him as he greeted me.

 

“Hello, beautiful,” he smiled and then quickly kissed my cheek. “Have you had dinner yet?”

 

“No, not yet. Um, I actually just came to return these.”

 

“Come, sit with me, Bella, have dinner and let’s talk.”

 

He didn’t give me an opportunity to argue as he led me to the kitchen. There were already two place settings on the bar with glasses of wine at each. Edward pulled out my chair and motioned for me to sit.

 

“I hoped you’d be by tonight, I’m glad you’re here,” he smiled as he took a sip of wine. “So, you said you wanted to return my gifts?”

 

I had just taken a drink as he surprised me by diving right in.

 

“Yes, but it’s not that I don’t like them, I really love them, actually.”

 

“Then keep them,” he said matter-of-factly.

 

“Edward, you know I can’t do that,” my tone was defiant.

 

“Angela told me the significance of the bracelet; we aren’t dating, so it isn’t fair for me to keep that.”

 

“Did she tell you about the shamrock?”

 

“No, she didn’t know.”

 

He smiled as he took another drink from his wine.

 

“Well, there are many old stories about the history of the shamrock. I could name at least fifteen different businesses that use it on their logo. However, the history behind why the Cullen men give them is a lot less corporate and a lot more of tradition. When my great-grandfather left Ireland and came to America, he left behind my great-grandmother. He came here because he wanted a better life for his future family. He had three dollars and a ticket for his passage on him when he left. When he was telling her goodbye, he gave her a shamrock that he had picked from the hill where they were standing. He told her that someday he would come back for her and he would take that shamrock from her and give her one that was made with emeralds that matched her eyes. He swore to her that he was going to come back to her as the man she deserved.

 

“After he left, the women of her village told her he would forget all about her and he would find a woman in America. She waited for him for two years, and when he did come back, he presented her with a pendant very similar to that one and asked for her hand in marriage. She had kept the real shamrock and placed it in her shoe. She had it in her hand when they buried her in our family plot.”

 

I had tears in my eyes when Edward finished telling me his story.

 

“Bella, I’ve not begun to show you the type of man you deserve, but I’m asking you to be patient and let me show you I can do it. I know you say we aren’t dating and I respect your feelings on that; however, that’s not how I feel. I’m devoted to you; I just need to prove that to you.”

 

Edward then placed his hand over mine and gently squeezed.

 

“I know I’ve gone at pursuing you all wrong. You made my mother’s day at lunch today by the way.”

 

I had to laugh at him; as powerful as he was, his mother still called the shots.

 

“So I promise to show you I’m the right guy for you, and I swear I’ll cut back on the gifts,” he chuckled as he spoke, his eyes pleading with mine.

 

“You moved your office.”

 

“Believe it or not, there’s a history behind that as well.”

 

I cocked my head and turned my entire body toward him. He smiled and then took both of my hands into his.

 

“When my father took over the business and was told he was going to marry my mother, he paid for her to come to America and see where she would be living. She brought her sister along and they had spent the day shopping. My mother was having a hard time getting my father to answer the phone and so she hopped in a taxi and gave the driver the address she knew of his office. When she found out it was in a strip club, she told him in no uncertain terms that she was going to return to Ireland and for him to never call her again.”

 

Edward’s face looked excited and his eyes were sparking as he continued his story.

 

“So, picture my father, the most feared man in Chicago at the time, chasing this woman out of his club as she’s cussing him out in Gaelic. He’s begging her to calm down, and all the while, his men are watching this go down. He swore to her that he’d move all of his dealings out of the club if she’d agree to stay and marry him.”

 

He was laughing hysterically as he finished his story.

 

“So, I have to ask, did he move? I mean your office is in a strip club.”

 

“Oh, he moved it alright, he even bought all new furniture so she’d come visit him.”

 

It was at this point I began to laugh. I could totally see Esme going all “postal” on his father.

 

“Took me less time to move my office, though, I just locked the door.”

 

“Damn, and I was looking forward to cussing you out in Gaelic.”

 

We both were laughing at this point.

 

“Bella, I’d gladly let you beat the living shit out of me with all my men watching if you’d agree to be mine when you were finished.”

 

How could a girl say no to that

 

A/N~ Good Morning…

 

Again a huge thank you to all my reviewers, I hope a few more questions were answered.

 

Thank you also to my prereader and my beta for making this particular chapter pretty, trust me it was a hot mess when I sent it to them.

 

See you on Saturday…

 

  1. Chapter 7

 

Me: Okay, before I give you my opinion on last chapter, I have to have my girly squeal moment.

 

Edward: Ears are plugged, love, carry on.

 

Me: We’re on The Lemonade Stand!

 

Edward: I love those ladies over there. They have great photos of me.

 

Me: Seriously, this is about this story I’m writing for you and all you can say is they have great pics of you?

 

Edward: Mathisson, love, the story speaks for itself. You have amazing readers and, well, it is all about…me.

 

Me: Edward, we really have to work on your self-confidence.

 

Edward: So, you’re giving them an extra chapter, aren’t you?

 

Me: I have to give them a thank you for their vote.

 

Edward: Fair enough. So, I ask each of you that are currently reading to head over to “The Lemonade Stand” and vote for this little story. (Seriously piercing-green eyes smoldering right at you with pouty lips parted slightly, pink tongue pokes out briefly.)

 

Me: (momentarily stunned) Okay, now for the real reason we’re here.

 

Edward: Yes, last chapter. Give me your best shot, as I know you’re unhappy with me.

 

Me: Not happy with you? Edward, how many fucking bottled-blonde skanks do you have hanging off your dick?

 

Edward: None.

 

Me: I beg to differ, Casanova. First we have Pleather Girl in the parking lot. Second, there’s Harley at the strip club. And third, there’s Jane at the restaurant. Bella is so much more confident than I would be, competing with all that silicone and peroxide.

 

Edward: Well, you seem to think I’m having a relationship with each of them. You jealous?

 

Me: (rolls eyes) I swear to god, the next story you’re going to be bald and have the body of the Michelin man.

 

Edward: Good luck with that.

 

Me: So you thought you could buy her attention.

 

Edward: (hangs head) Yes, not my finest moment. But hey, give me credit; I got her some really nice things.

 

Me: That she tried to return.

 

Edward: Yes, I knew that was coming the second my Ma called me and told me about her paying for her own lunch.

 

Me: So, be honest with me. Was it a turn on or turn off for her to refuse your gifts?

 

Edward: It was…strange. Most women I’ve given gifts of that caliber to have been very grateful to have them. Bella was more offended, if you will. It confused the hell out of me. Definitely a turn on.

 

Me: Why didn’t you give her the first gift yourself?

 

Edward: Honestly, I was nervous.

 

Me: (eyes huge) You were nervous? You’re…you! Why were you nervous?

 

Edward: Again, Bella isn’t like any girl I’ve shown interest in. Giving the bracelet was a huge step for me. It was a sign not only to my family, but to the entire community that she was special.

 

Me: Sorry, Edward, I agree with Bella, I would’ve wanted to return it to you, too.

 

Edward: Listen, I know I spent the entire day doing the wrong things when it came to Bella. I never should’ve sent one of my men to deliver something I should’ve given her in private, complete with proper explanations. Second, I never should’ve given the order to make her comfortable, by not letting her spend money. I should’ve spoken with Bella and let her know that I was going to approach her father about a relationship with her. Mathisson, my family has so many traditions that I feel obligated to carry out.

 

Me: Hey, calm down. I married into a very strong Greek family, I so get the tradition thing. But we aren’t dealing with just anyone; this is Bella, a very strong-willed lady.

 

Edward: (small smile appears) She’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. When I’m with her, I want to be a better man.

 

Me: Oh, god, stop with the Harlequin romance. You’re the boss of a crime family, grow a pair. (breaks into giggles) Sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that.

 

Edward: Can I continue or do you need time to sharpen your tongue?

 

Me: (big bitch brow) Michelin man…just saying.

 

Edward: So, as I was saying, Bella is one of a kind. I have no playbook when it comes to her. When my Ma told me she was having a meeting with her, I instantly told her to bring her to Amore. I bought it last year and I wanted to treat her to something special. I watched as Shamus opened the door for her. He later told me she made a point of saying something to him, although he didn’t have a clue as to what she said because he doesn’t speak much English.

 

Me: Shamus is the guy you spoke to in the limo?

 

Edward: Yes, Shamus came to work for me about three years ago. He was fresh from Ireland and needed a job in the worst way. He had skills that I needed and the rest is history.

 

Me: Alright, here’s a shot in the dark, what skills?

 

Edward: He’s a computer specialist.

 

Me: Why would…never mind.

 

Edward: Bella has made an impression with every single person in my association that she’s encountered. I dated a girl a few years ago that let who she was to me give her the idea that she could be rude to my men. That lasted a few weeks and then I sent her packing.

 

Me: So, it’s important for your men to like her as well.

 

Edward: Not necessary like her, but have a little respect. That seems to be easy when it comes to Bella. So, as I was saying, I watched as Bella came into the restaurant and Jane escorted her to the table where my Ma sat. I watched with ease as the light danced off the short strands of her hair. I watched the way she would concentrate intently on the person who was speaking to her, giving them her undivided attention. I was cringing when she kindly asked Maurice to remove the steak from the table and wanted a simple salad. She was again very kind to him and she even tipped him very well. I also watched as Jane was nothing but rude to her. I took great pleasure in informing her that her services were no longer needed.

 

Me: If I didn’t like you so much, Edward, that would’ve been about the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard, you watching in the shadows like that.

 

Edward: I find that you can learn a lot by simply watching people.

 

Me: So, you’re a church-attending mobster.

 

Edward: Correction, I’m Irish Catholic. Going to mass is like breathing for us.

 

Me: Again…I get it. Greek here…

 

Edward: Touche.

 

Me: So, how did you know she would come to your condo?

 

Edward: Guido called me after she left the club. Riley kept me informed the entire time she was driving home, and I knew Angela would talk with her. Ben had told Angela of my intentions to pursue Bella. Angela had called me and said that Bella wasn’t going to just fall at my feet. She said that she would help me however she could, not only because of how I helped with Fig, but also, she thought I’d be a good match for Bella. She said Bella needs someone who can knock down her walls of BS and show her she doesn’t have to be alone, because not all men are bad. Once Riley told me she was headed my way, I called and got dinner and then waited for her. Once she arrived, I just tried to be myself, not this monster I’ve become due to my job. Being with her allows that. I actually had fun telling her the stories of my parents and the history of the shamrock. Like I said; family tradition.

 

Me: So, you showed her the real you?

 

Edward: Yes, the Edward no one else gets to see.

 

ME: So, I have to ask, why did you move your office back into the strip club after what happened with your parents?

 

Edward: It was more of a rebellious thing. When I took over for my father, I didn’t have anyone that I was considering for a relationship. So I did what any young, horny guy would do.

 

Me: But you moved it back out pretty quickly.

 

Edward: She’s more important.

 

Me: So, I guess we need to find out if she said yes or sent you packing.

 

Edward: I think you’re correct…

 

Chapter 7

 

The next day, Edward kept his word and only sent text messages, no flowers or jewelry. I had agreed to wear the shamrock pendant, as I wanted to give him a chance to prove himself. He agreed to keep the tennis bracelet in his safe.

 

I contacted Esme and went over the final decisions for Alice’s engagement party. She informed me that they had increased the guest list due to some last minute additions. I then contacted the caterers and increased the food amounts.

 

I had promised Angela that I would watch Abby for her so she could go to dinner with Ben. I loved my time with Abby, she was such an easygoing kid and it was more fun than work to keep her. We played a few games, painted toenails, and even had a tea party before she crashed in my lap during the movie, Beauty and the Beast. I chuckled, as I could relate to poor Belle having a beast to contend with.

 

I made myself a cup of tea and settled in on the couch and began watching mindless television. It was just after nine o’clock when a news anchor broke into the program I had been watching.

 

“We interrupt this program to bring you this special report. Here now is CNBC anchor Todd Stevens with breaking news.”

 

“Good evening, ladies and gentleman, this is just in from our New York correspondent outside the Sing-Sing Correctional Facility. Just this afternoon, a federal judge ordered the immediate release of Caius Volturi, son of Aro Volturi, head of the alleged Italian crime family. Caius Volturi had been sentenced to fifteen years for alleged tax evasion; however, new evidence released today overturned that conviction. Mr. Volturi is a suspect in many crimes throughout the New York and Miami areas and is still under investigation, but tonight, he’s a free man. For further updates, stay tuned to CNBC…”

 

“I’m getting married!” Angela shouted as she charged through the door.

 

I must have drifted off to sleep, as the loud closing of the door woke me. I had been dreaming I was being chased by red-eyed vampires.

 

“Bella, he wants me to marry him!”

 

Ben and Angela walked in and Angela tackled me as she ran through the living room. She was so excited that I didn’t think her feet ever touched the ground.

 

“He bought us a house and he wants me to quit my job. He wants to have babies right away and he even began the paperwork to adopt Abby.”

 

She was bouncing with excitement as she told me how he had asked for her hand. Ben just stood there grinning from ear to ear, obviously enjoying Angela’s enthusiasm.

 

“Oh, Bella, it was so romantic. He had the entire restaurant rented out and he had the table all decorated with pink roses, he knows how much I love pink roses…”

 

She was giggling so much that I began to giggle with her.

 

“He didn’t even let me order dinner before he dropped down on one knee and asked me.”

 

“Well done, Ben,” I said in congratulations.

 

I was very excited for Angela, she deserved to be happy and I was glad that Ben wanted to adopt Abby; she deserved to have a daddy that cared for her as much as Ben did.

 

My father was just as excited and many bottles of champagne were opened that night. Poor Abby slept straight through the hugging and kissing. As Ben and my dad were getting ready to leave, I took Ben aside and spoke softly in his ear, “You’d better be good to both of them.”

 

Ben looked me straight in the face as he spoke loudly and clearly, “On my honor.”

 

Ben did indeed want to marry in a hurry. Being Catholic, they still needed to attend classes. Ben and Carlisle had spoken with Father Mulcahy and the classes were speeded up a bit. Angela quit working and concentrated full-time on planning their wedding.

 

Two days later was Alice’s engagement party. I would be working it; however, Esme wanted me to be a guest as well. I agreed to dress up, yet still be in charge of my staff. The room was incredible, as she wanted to introduce the whole same speakeasy theme as her wedding. She had a large jazz band that would play during the entire party and she also wanted to have a singer like the ones from the movie Chicago.

 

I hadn’t heard from Edward all day which was a little unsettling. He had grown on me and I would admit that I missed him terribly. We had made plans to have dinner at his condo the Sunday after Alice’s engagement party and I had decided to ask him for the bracelet. It seemed the more I knew about Edward, the more I liked him. I didn’t exactly like his job, but I hoped one day I could ignore it completely.

 

I was very impressed as everything came together. I made my rounds and everything was going well. I still hadn’t seen Edward and I was getting a little nervous. I did one final check to see that the bars were stocked when I noticed something odd about the black suits.

 

At each of the exits were posted two men dressed in suits, one on each side of the doorway. I recognized many of them as being Edward’s men; however, the men that stood opposite them I didn’t recognize. Furthermore, each of the men I didn’t recognize had a strange looking lapel pin. Edward’s men never wore visible jewelry.

 

I noticed Ben and Angela sitting at a high-topped table and so I decided to ask Ben what was going on.

 

“Hey, guys, having a good time?” I stood between them with my hands on each of their backs.

 

“Wow, Bella, I can’t imagine this many people attending my entire wedding,” Angela joked.

 

“Sweetheart, there’ll be just as many there, I promise you,” Ben replied kissing her hand.

 

“Hey, Ben, what’s the deal with the guys wearing the lapel pins at the door?”

 

“Well, they’re here because of three particular guests tonight.” I turned my gaze directly at him. “See that man standing beside Carlisle Cullen?”

 

I quickly found Carlisle standing beside the main bar. He had a fresh drink in one hand and four men behind him. The man that stood directly beside him was about two inches shorter than Carlisle and looked thirty years older. His long straight black hair was gathered in a tight, low-hung ponytail.

 

“Yes?” I replied.

 

“That’s Aro Volturi.” An instant shiver ran up my spine. I knew that name and what he represented. I was instantly frightened. “Seems he’s trying to mend fences with Carlisle and trying to have better relations with the Cullen family. Aro’s son just got out of prison and he’s trying to find some work that would keep his nose clean, so to speak.”

 

The news report came to the front of my mind and I began to pray that he wasn’t sending his son to live here in Chicago.

 

“He also wanted to introduce his daughter, Gianna, to the family…” Next to Esme was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. She was tall, nearly as tall as Rosalie, with olive-colored skin and long dark hair that seemed flawless. Her one-shouldered deep teal dress only accentuated her perfect features. I knew this was Gianna without being told. “…And offer her hand to Edward, as a sign of good faith, but…”

 

Ben didn’t get to finish his statement as a deep, thick-accented voice interrupted him.

 

“Please excuse my intrusion; however, I had to come over and introduce myself to two of the most beautiful women in the room.”

 

I turned to my right and came face to face with the palest man I had ever seen. His corn silk hair was combed straight back and looked to be coated in too much hair gel. He reminded me of Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies.

 

His hand was extended to me and without thinking, I placed mine in his. He leaned over without breaking eye contact and kissed the back of my hand. The uneasy feeling he left behind made me want to cut off that hand.

 

“May I have this dance, Miss…?”

 

“Swan, and you, Sir, are…?”

 

“Oh, how terribly rude of me, I’m Caius Volturi, and may I say what a pleasure it is to meet such a beautiful lady.”

 

His eyes left mine briefly as he looked at the shamrock pendant that hung from my neck. I noticed a sudden smirk appear on his cold face as if he was calculating his next move. Just hearing his name made me tremble. This man had just been released from prison and I knew he was known for not simply killing his victims; he would play with them first. I could feel my entire body vibrate.

 

“Is everything alright, Miss Swan?”

 

I turned my attention to the very tall man that stood over Caius. I remembered him as being one of Edwards’s personal bodyguards, Jacob was his name.

 

“Oh, um, y-yes. If you gentlemen will excuse me, I have to get back to work.”

 

I quickly made my way to the kitchen. I wanted as far away from the Volturi men as I could get. I made my way into the large walk-in refrigerator and began to take several deep breaths. Once I had my breathing under control, I made my way back out into the ballroom. I looked around, but I could no longer see either of the Volturi men. What I did see, though, was worse.

 

Edward was stood beside the bar, with his arm around Gianna Volturi. He was smiling down at her and she had her hand on his forearm. He turned and placed his drink on the bar and then took hers as well. She stumbled slightly as he took her by the arm and left the room. Ben’s words came back to me then.

 

“…Offered her hand to Edward, as a sign of good faith…”

 

Of course he would accept the offered marriage, Edward would have no choice. I kept a low profile for the remainder of the party and as soon as the last person left, I quickly shifted out the back.

 

Angela would be staying at Ben’s house and Abby was at my father’s. I was glad to have the house to myself as I barely made it to my bedroom before the tears came.

 

It was my own fault. I had given him such a hard time about being enough for him. Gianna was exactly what he needed, she knew how to act and she knew what was expected of her. Ever so slowly, I unclasped the chain from around my neck and placed it back in the Tiffany’s box.

 

I would return it tomorrow with dignity

 

  1. Chapter 8

 

Me: Umm, yeah. I’m not sure what to say.

 

Edward: Is everything alright?

 

Me: Yes, sorry…please continue. You have a lot of holes to fill.

 

Edward: Are you certain you’re okay?

 

Me: I’ve been asked to have you speak more and me a whole lot less. So please, carry on…

 

Edward: As you wish, love, although a little bird tells me your beta will disappointed. She finds your witty banter with me amusing.

 

Me: Ah, well, the readers have spoken.

 

Edward: Indeed. Well, after Bella left my condo, I placed the bracelet on my entry table beside my keys and wallet. I wanted to have it handy at the first sign that she was ready. I called my father because I wanted his advice on how he was able to win my Ma’s hand after the argument they had about his office. He agreed to meet me for breakfast the next morning at my parent’s house. I didn’t sleep for shit that night. This was new territory for me. I kept thinking, what if she suddenly found some straight-laced guy that had a regular nine to five job? When I arrived at my parent’s house, I told my dad all of my fears. He chuckled as he told me that only the good ones caused this much worry. He asked me what I would do if she did exactly as I feared and found said Joe Shmo and had a dozen kids with him. I couldn’t answer him, so his advice was to never do anything stupid enough to make her go looking.

 

Ben called me later that day. He wanted me to know that he had officially proposed to Angela and that Fig had been informed of the adoption papers. I congratulated him and made my way to a meeting with Muscles. Shamus had come across some questionable activity around the Volturi camp. Seems Aro’s son, Caius, had been arrested for tax evasion recently and they were scurrying to find some evidence to clear him. Shamus told us about an old law that had been on the books since the early eighties. Apparently, in some states there’s a drug stamp you can purchase. It’s required that if you’re ever found in possession of any illegal drugs and don’t have this tax stamp, you can be charged with tax evasion.

 

Aro being Aro, he called my father and asked him if he had any advice. My father of course said it was too late for the kind of advice he had, which was to stay the hell out of the drug business to begin with.

 

Caius was a pansy-ass bitch who threw his daddy’s name around to get what he wanted. He didn’t have one single vertebra in his boney-assed body. He liked to take credit for what his father’s men did. He made people think he was this heartless killer. But the truth of the matter was that he was the first to hide when things went south. I can only imagine what he was doing while in prison. I’m certain it involved long periods of time on his knees.

 

When Caius was released, Aro made it a point to call my father and tell him their family would be attending my sister’s engagement party. I called an emergency meeting of all of my men. I didn’t like the fact that Aro was bringing his family anywhere near my family. I knew my Ma carried a loaded gun in her purse, and Charlie had told me Bella had a full can of pepper spray in her purse at all times. I was still very worried that something bad would happen.

 

Aro didn’t disappoint when he informed my father that he would be attending with his own security guards. My father was polite when he told him he didn’t think it was a good idea and that if anything went wrong, Aro would have to deal with my Ma and sister. Aro was very crass as he told my father that he was a lesser man because he allowed a woman to rule him in his own home. My father reminded him that at least my mother was also warming his bed every night.

 

That definitely hit a nerve with Aro, as his own wife had left him years ago and married some butcher from New Jersey. Heidi had made it known that when it came to his ability please her sexually, he was severely lacking in adequate length and girth…not to mention talent.

 

He then quickly changed the subject to his desire to create this huge empire as he called it. For the umpteenth time, he asked my father to order me to marry his daughter. I jumped in at this point and reminded Aro that I was running this family and that the decision of who I was to marry was mine and mine alone. I had heard many stories about his daughter, Gianna. How she spent more time in drug rehab than Alice did in Saks.

 

By the time I finished my meeting with Aro, and then with my security team, it was nearly an hour into my sister’s party. I prayed that she wouldn’t notice, and more than that, that my Bella would forgive me for not calling her today.

 

Luck, however, was not on my side. Once I arrived at the party, one of Aro’s men was already causing a scene outside in the parking lot. James Hunter was a small-time junkie who had tried to become a member of my team shortly after I took over. I didn’t like the way he presented himself; he was too careless and he had a reputation for roughing up women. Last I remembered, he had left town suddenly. I gave instruction for my men to get rid of him as I continued into the room.

 

I wasn’t prepared for what I found once I entered. First, the room was amazing. Bella had really done an incredible job. The room looked like a jazz club from the 1920’s. I watched as everyone was laughing and seemed to be having a great time. I quickly scanned the room and found my Bella. She was such a beautiful sight in her evening dress and very sexy heels. My cock wondered if I could get her to wear just the heels around my condo.

 

I didn’t get a second to really give that another thought, though, as I noticed a commotion going on at the bar next to me. Standing only a few feet away was Gianna Volturi. She had just slapped one of her father’s bodyguards and was now trying to reach around him to get her purse off the bar. The poor sap tried to get her to listen, but all she would do was repeatedly hit him. I crossed the distance and gently placed my hand on her arm, making it impossible for her to lift the purse. She quickly spun in my direction and stumbled. I caught her and then tried to get her to leave with the bodyguard. The last thing I needed was a hysterical girl making a scene at this party, as tension was already high enough.

 

Gianna was determined to get on stage and dance with the singer that was about to perform, claiming she had been to Broadway many times and she knew how to dance like the pros. As I continued to talk her out of stripping up on stage, and here at the bar for that matter, I quickly looked for my Bella. The last thing I needed was for her to see this and come over and confront Gianna. I recalled how she had quite a mouth when she dealt with Fig.

 

To my horror, I watched as that cheese-dick motherfucker, aka Caius Volturi, put his disease-ridden lips on her flawless hand. I know the motherfucker saw the shamrock. I also knew he would find playing with my Bella a challenge. I gave the nod for Tonto to go fuck up his world.

 

After what felt like an eternity, I finally got Gianna into her father’s rental car. Just as I was about to go back inside, Caius came out the side door. His lip was bleeding pretty good and I instantly knew Tonto was getting a bonus. Gianna started kicking the car window and demanding to be given another drink. Jasper then came out the side door to see what was going on. Once I gave him the details, he begged me to get Gianna back to her hotel room and far, far away from his party.

 

It was nearly one o’clock in the morning by the time I had Gianna in her room and passed out. Shamus came along and simply pressed a couple of fingers at her neck and out she went. Like I said, he has skills I need.

 

I had to call Bella and do some major ass kissing. However, when that candy-ass fuck stick answered her phone, I made certain he knew he had better stay the fuck away from my Isabella. He played it off as if he was only introducing himself to the future Mrs. Cullen. I knew better, the fucker was testing the waters.

 

Riley called me seconds later and assured me that he physically watched Bella go inside of her house safely and that the lights had been out for nearly an hour. Tomorrow I would be groveling at her feet. God, please let her forgive me. That was my prayer as I tried to fall asleep…

 

Chapter 8

 

Sleep did not find me. I tossed and turned and tried to remind myself that this was exactly what I had wanted. As I got ready for work the next morning, I stayed a little longer in the shower, hoping the hot water would wash away the hurt I felt.

 

I had too much to do to sit and wallow. It wasn’t like we had committed ourselves to each other. I mean, my god, we hadn’t even shared a kiss.

 

I chose to wear jeans today; I wasn’t in the mood to be pretty. I certainly didn’t feel it. I stopped by the diner on the way and grabbed a large cup of coffee. It was not like I needed the caffeine to keep me awake. I thanked Doris and made my way to my office.

 

Once inside, I checked my email and deleted all the junk. My voicemail had a few messages and I would return them later. It was then that I noticed I had no idea where my cell phone was. I clearly remembered having it on me last night at the party. I checked my purse twice and still couldn’t locate it. I was just about to sign on to the internet and do a search when Esme Cullen walked into my office.

 

“Good morning, Bella, I wanted to personally stop by and thank you for making last night a huge success.”

 

The words barely left her moth when a man dressed in black entered my office caring a large bouquet of red roses. He sat the vase down and tipped his head at Esme. She looked none too happy to see him. He returned three more times with more roses. It looked like a florist shop in here.

 

Neither Esme nor I said one word as he continued to parade in and out of my office, the size and quality of the bouquets getting larger and larger. Finally, he came back in with a large white envelope and what looked to be a cell phone.

 

He handed me the envelope and the phone and then tipped his head at me. I noticed as he left that he had the same strange lapel pin on his suit jacket the Volturi guards had worn.

 

I opened the envelope and skipped down to see that my worst fear had been realized. Caius Volturi had sent these flowers and he’d had my cell phone.

 

Dear Isabella,

 

I was pleased to find that your name is Italian, the most romantic language in the world. You left your cell phone behind when you left the table last night. I must say you have captured my attention, my beautiful Isabella. Accept these flowers as my official invitation to dine with me this evening in my hotel room.

 

Yours,

 

Caius Volturi

 

Something in me snapped and I was so angry I was seeing red. I tossed the card across the room with a roar and then grabbed the first vase full of roses I came to. I picked them up and marched outside to the dumpster and hurled them into the trash. Esme watched me with shock written all over her face. Once the last vase had been tossed and I could hear the breaking of the glass in the dumpster, I marched back into my office and took the Tiffany’s box from my purse, crossing the room to where Esme stood, still shocked at my outburst. I placed the box into her hand.

 

“Please give this back to him, I know you came to tell me about Gianna. I hold no ill feelings toward Edward. I know he has no other choice.”

 

With that, I stormed out of the office and ran to my car. I needed to talk to the one person who would let me talk without interruption.

 

Victoria Shannon Swan

 

Always in our hearts

 

I traced the carved letters on my sister’s headstone. Vicky had been my oldest sister. She was the only one who would just listen to me today. She wouldn’t judge me or tell me how this whole thing was my fault.

 

“Oh, god, Vic, what am I going to do?”

 

I sat with her headstone directly in front of me, gently leaning my forehead to the cold marble.

 

“How is it that we allow these men to ruin our lives?” I spoke quietly as the tears began to roll. “I wish you were here, Vic, I wish you could just tell me a story like you did after mom left and make everything better.”

 

The memory of the three of us dressed in our nightgowns, piled under our covers so dad wouldn’t hear us, came to me. The tears and sobs came, too, and I welcomed them. I missed my sister, even with all her problems, I missed my big sister.

 

I shivered as I felt the wind blow my hair around my face. I could hear it as it tossed dead leaves and grass clippings.

 

“Shhh, baby, I’ve got you.”

 

The warm voice surrounded me like a soft blanket. I knew that voice, but why was he here?

 

I raised my head as he enveloped me in his arms, drawing me into his lap. I welcomed his touch as I melted into his chest. He just held me as I continued to sob into his chest. I knew I shouldn’t be here, this was so wrong, as he was promised to another woman. But dammit, I wanted him to be here, if only for a little while.

 

Once my tears had finally stopped falling, I raised my head to look into his face. I knew this was goodbye and the best way to do this was quickly and mercifully, like ripping off a bandage.

 

He looked into my eyes and for a brief second, I had hope that he had come to rescue me from my sadness. He slowly and yet deliberately wiped the tears from my face.

 

“I took care of Caius, he won’t bother you again,” his voice was barely above a whisper, yet deep and masculine.

 

“How did you know about Caius?” I questioned as I placed my head back on his shoulder.

 

“For one, I saw him approach you last night, and two, my mother told me about your quarterback tryout with his roses,” he chuckled as he spoke the later.

 

“You saw him last night?” My head shot up and I looked at him with surprise.

 

“Who do you think sent Tonto over to intercede?”

 

It was now or never as I began to remove myself from his lap.

 

“Yes, well, I heard about your upcoming nuptials. She’s beautiful by the way.”

 

I couldn’t look at him as I spoke, I didn’t want him to see how much this affected me.

 

“Bella, she’s a cokehead, and she was so stoned and drunk that she’d started to remove her clothes at the bar. She feels that since she’s Aro’s daughter, she’s above everyone else. She refused to listen to anyone except me. I got her out of the party before she could do any real damage. I took her to her hotel and made sure she got into bed. I had one of her father’s guards standing outside the room the whole night.”

 

“I’m sorry; I hope she changes before…” I couldn’t even say the words. I didn’t want him to have to marry her.

 

“Bella, please, look at me.”

 

His eyes were pleading and it nearly broke my heart. The words were written all over his face, he didn’t want to marry her, either. I watched as the wind blew pieces of his hair around and I so badly wanted to run my fingers through it.

 

“I’m not marrying Gianna.”

 

I gave him a puzzled look as I tried to understand his words. He had to marry her, it would be his duty.

 

“Forget the fact that she’s a dope-head and she couldn’t hold an intelligent conversation if it came with instructions. Forget the fact that she doesn’t have a drop of Irish blood in her, and forget the fact that she has more plastic than Mattel. She isn’t you.

 

“Aro has spent so many hours trying to convince my father to blend the families that it’s ridiculous. He tried with Alice and now again with me. My father won’t budge. More importantly, I won’t budge. Aro rules by fear, but it’s not enough. Most of his men would turn their backs and run if things got really tough. My men, on the other hand, would take a bullet for me and me for them. He wants to combine the families because he’s broke, that’s why he moves so many drugs; well, as much as they can keep out of Gianna’s nose.

 

“Caius knew who you were the second he saw your shamrock. I reminded him of that when I called your phone after I handled his sister and he answered. He only wanted to piss me off by sending you flowers. He knew he’d spooked you last night, and it gave him a rush. I reminded him who he’d have to deal with if he continued to have contact with you.”

 

I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. Edward wasn’t marrying Gianna. I could wear his bracelet after all.

 

“Did your dad ever tell you why we stay away from drug trafficking?”

 

I shook my head no as he wrapped me again in his arms.

 

“My mother had two older brothers, Decklan and Connor; they were already working with my dad before she arrived in the states. Anyway, they were out one night at a bar not far from where Whiskers is now when a man came running into the bar and began shooting people. They were shot in the back of the head; they never saw the man who killed them. When the dust finally settled, my father learned that the man was high on LSD and was having hallucinations. He thought the bar was full of aliens. My father had to tell my mother her brothers were dead. He vowed he would never be a part of drugs ever again.”

 

He began to rub my arms and I again let myself lean into him.

 

“Charlie says your sister died from an overdose.”

 

I nodded my head. I hadn’t talked about Vicky’s death in a long while. “She was in her last semester of college when she met this man, Jimmy. Jimmy killed her, he didn’t actually put a gun to her head, but he got her started on drugs and he supplied her with the drugs that she died from. My dad had to identify her body. It was horrible. She was found by a maid in one of those seedy motels. Jimmy had left her there to die, alone and naked in strange motel room.”

 

I turned my body so that I was again facing Vicky’s gravestone. Edward just kept his arms protectively around me.

 

“Tell me your favorite memory of your sister.”

 

That was easy, it was the one I always thought of when I came here to visit her.

 

“When my mother left, Angela and I would have bad dreams and Vicky would have us come into her bed and she would read us a story, only she would animate it. She would change her voice for the different characters and she would then change the story to something different. She would have us so wrapped up in the story that we would forget all about missing mom for a while.”

 

We sat there for the longest time just looking at the headstone. He would touch my fingers with his or kiss the back of my head.

 

“My mother said you gave the pendant back, does that mean you don’t want to wait for me?”

 

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

 

“No, I was only trying to do the right thing when I was told you would be marrying Gianna. I knew you didn’t have a choice and I didn’t want to create drama.”

 

“So, you’re still considering an us?”

 

“Actually, I was going to ask for the bracelet during our date tomorrow night.”

 

I felt him move around behind me and I thought he was getting up to leave, until I saw the necklace dangling in front of me.

 

“Can we put this back on then, please?”

 

I turned my head slightly as saw the smile that covered his face. It was quite contagious and I quickly had one just as big.

 

The chain felt cold as he laid it around my neck. I couldn’t help but touch it as it rested on my chest.

 

“I see no reason to wait until tomorrow for you to wear my bracelet, do you?”

 

I shook my head no as I felt him lift my right hand from my lap.

 

I watched as he removed the box from his inside jacket pocket and then he opened the hinge. The bracelet was as cold as the necklace had been and I loved how the diamonds glistened in the sunlight.

 

“I need you to make me a promise.”

 

I looked from the bracelet to his green eyes. “Anything,” I whispered.

 

“In the future, when you hear someone talking about me, no matter who it is, ask me before you do anything.”

 

I smiled as I again nodded my head.

 

“Good, now hold on to your hat, Bella, I’ve waited very patiently to kiss those pretty lips of yours.”

 

He didn’t give me a chance to respond as his lips connected with mine, leaving me speechless. It was not like I had anything to say anyway…

 

A/N

 

Thank you to everyone who voted for this story over at the lemonade stand. I am shocked at the response I have received from all of you about this story. Thank you so much to my beta who has made this a true pleasure to do and my prereader who has sent me more words of encouragement and wisdom then I could have imagined. I am certain this chapter has answered a few more of your questions. I look forward to hearing what you think about this chapter and I again thank you for taking the time to read. See you again on Wednesday…

 

  1. Chapter 9

 

A/N It has come to attention that a number of you have become confused that the intro is actually a boring statement by me and have skipped it and gone on to read the rest of the story. I recommend you go back and read the bold beginning in the previous chapters. Second, a number of you have sent me a private message and told me you feel this fiction is dull and badly written, then don’t read it!

 

Thank you to everyone who has been encouraging me and teling me how much you love this particular story. I have been a major fail as far as responce, but I have been rather sick this week. I finally broke down and went to my Physician yesterday and have a major infection and I am now on a number of medications. Thank you to everyone who told me to grow a pair and ignore the people who thought me dull.

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 9

 

Edward: Mathisson, love, I’m still worried about you from last chapter.

 

Me: Thank you for your concern, but I have several people to thank for encouraging me.

 

Edward: Please, I want to hear this. (takes my hand in his)

 

Me: Thank you first to my beta who was right, most of my readers love my banter with Edward at the beginning. Second, to tpea1288 and Euphoria9, who had me in tears as I read their reviews and just knew I was doing things the right way.

 

Edward: Are we back to talking then?

 

Me: Yes, you cheeky bastard, we’re back to talking.

 

Edward: Then I want to thank them as well.

 

Me: I’m sorry about your uncles.

 

Edward: Thank you, although I never met them. I know my Ma misses them.

 

Me: So, we cleared up a lot of questions with that last one.

 

Edward: We did, now we can get on with the good stuff.

 

Me: Oh, good god, I realize men think of sex like every two seconds, but could you tone it down a level?

 

Edward: I never said anything about sex. (cocky smile and a wink)

 

Me: So, how did you know where to find Bella?

 

Edward: I always know where she is. My Ma called me very upset when Bella stormed out of the room. My family adores Bella and I can honestly say they’ll always take her side when I do anything wrong. My poor Ma was crying as she told me not to stop until I had her back. Once my Ma finds out that Caius was involved in making Bella upset, what she’ll do to him is nothing I wish to witness.

 

Me: So, Riley was tailing her?

 

Edward: No, today it was Shamus. He said she was heading for the cemetery and he was worried she was going to do something crazy. I ran three stoplights to get to her.

 

Me: That must have been hard for you to see her like that.

 

Edward: It was hard to hear that she thought I messed up her life. I want her happy above all else.

 

Me: So, we have a first kiss…

 

Edward: (only smiles)

 

With Angela leaving and the wedding season quickly approaching, Charlotte placed an ad for her position in the local newspaper. She wanted me to do the interviews as I would be working directly with them.

 

It had been a month since my visit to Vicky’s grave and I honestly smiled as I thought about Edward. He wasn’t the person I had thought he would be. It was almost as if he had a split personality. With me, he was gentle and caring, but when we were out to dinner and we ran into anyone else, he had this mask that he put into place. Then in an instant, he was back to being the loving man who held my hand and kissed my forehead.

 

Unfortunately, that was all we had done, kiss and hold hands. He had this crazy notion that he still had to prove himself. So for now, I settled for what he was willing to give me.

 

Charlotte had set up two interviews for today; the first was a no-show and the second was waiting in her office. You could imagine my surprise when I walked into the room to find Harley sitting in a chair.

 

Harley looked completely different. Gone were the trashy halter, pleather skirt, and knee-high boots. In their place were a silk blouse, pencil skirt, and demure kitten heels. Her makeup was minimal and her cleavage hidden. She actually looked more beautiful.

 

“Harley?”

 

My shock could clearly be heard in my voice, I never expected to see her sitting in that chair.

 

“Hello, Ms. Swan, and if you please, my name is Tanya.”

 

Her voice was relaxed with not a hint of sarcasm.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry. Please excuse me; that was rude. Tanya, it’s a pleasure to see you again.”

 

She simply smiled at me and then turned to look at a stunned Charlotte.

 

“I take it we know each other,” Charlotte chuckled and then opened a file.

 

Charlotte went into detail about the type of person we were looking for and the requirements we had. Basically, we needed an assistant that would assist both Charlotte and myself. She would be responsible for scheduling all the staff and making certain our schedules were accurate. She would also take care of renting out the ballroom next door.

 

“So, I’d basically have to make sure you guys weren’t double- booked and that people are where they’re told to be.”

 

Charlotte and I laughed and then agreed with her. I looked back at Tanya; she had her hands in her lap, fidgeting with her beaded bracelet.

 

“I know you know about me, but I want you to know that I don’t want to be that person anymore.” Her voice was lower this time; I could hear the sadness she was trying to hide. “I won’t lie to you and say that I’m the best person for this job. I’m just asking for a chance to have a job that I can be proud of.

 

“Ms. Swan, I know that you especially don’t have a very high opinion of me. It’s no secret that I wanted Edward. He never saw me, though, and I knew the second he gave you the bracelet that all hope for me was gone. I hope that if I get a good job and a nice place to live, maybe then I can turn the head of a good man like Edward.”

 

I had no doubt that she was being honest. I wanted to give her a chance and I hoped that Charlotte felt the same. There was only one concern I had and it needed to be addressed.

 

“Tanya, I think it’s wonderful that you want to change your life and I’ll help however you need me to, but I do have a concern and I think you already know what I mean.”

 

She nodded her head and looked down, adjusting in her chair. “You’re worried that I’m a cokehead like Michelle.”

 

“Yes, Tanya, and there’s no room for that activity in this business.”

 

She reached into her purse and retrieved a stack of papers. Handing them to me, she continued to speak. “When Edward found out I was in there with Michelle, he chewed me a new one, then he made me talk to a counselor and he makes me take monthly drug tests. I’ve been clean for a while now.”

 

I took the papers from her; they were lab reports that showed she had no drugs in her system. The latest was dated two days ago.

 

“Does Edward know you’re here?” Charlotte questioned. She had let me lead this interview up to this point.

 

“No, he just told me that I needed to find a proper lady and watch how she acts and carries herself. I only know two real ladies and I’m scared to death of Mrs. Cullen, so since Ms. Swan is my only other choice. I’m going to try to be like her. Edward said he agreed that Ms. Swan was a real lady and that I could learn a lot from her. That’s what I want, to be a real lady.”

 

How did you respond to that? I looked to Charlotte for help, but she was just as speechless as I was.

 

“Well, Ms. Denali, I think you’d bring a new spin to things around here, don’t you agree, Bella?”

 

“Oh, please, just Tanya. It’s hard enough to get used to not being called Harley.”

 

Charlotte looked lovingly at her. She rose from her chair and made her way around, leaning her body against the desk.

 

“Lady Lesson number one: a proper title is the first sign you’re being seen as a lady. Now, Ms. Denali, I’ll expect you here in the office by nine o’clock every morning. Are we clear?”

 

Tanya had been working in the office for a little over a week. She wasn’t perfect, but she really tried hard. Edward only smiled and kissed my forehead when I told him we had hired her.

 

This week was scheduled to be crazy as it was Angela’s engagement party and one of Alice’s bridal showers. Edward insisted that he wanted to throw the engagement party, and since he didn’t have anyone to argue with him, he gave me a blank check and told me to make it special.

 

Alice’s bridal shower was being hosted by Jasper’s family. It was hard to contain my laughter when Esme would refer to them as “the hillbillies.” Jasper’s family was from the Deep South; his mother was off-the-boat Irish, but his father was as southern as sweet tea. Esme told me that Eileen Whitlock was one to put on airs. She had left Ireland when her father insisted she marry his right-hand man. She didn’t agree, so she jumped on a ship and here she came. Sherman Whitlock had been a moonshine runner at the time. He found her working in a rundown diner and fell in love with her accent.

 

Sherman had taken over for his dad like Edward had taken over for Carlisle. The Whitlock family wasn’t as big as the Cullen family, but Edward wanted to branch out further. Alice and Jasper made a good match, so the family would be joined. It didn’t matter if Alice didn’t marry full Irish as she was not eligible to take over the family business.

 

According to Esme, Eileen had colorful ways to describe what her husband did. For example, when he was running moonshine, he was in exporting. When he moved up to take over his father’s role, he was now a CEO and general manager.

 

Tanya was at the office by six o’clock in the morning for Angela’s engagement party. I had spoken to her and told her that she would be in charge of this event because as my sister’s maid of honor, I had to be available to her at all times. You would think that I had just handed Tanya a million dollars as her face lit up. By the time I stopped by to make sure the flowers were delivered, she had the tables set up and was stocking the bar by herself.

 

That night as I danced with Edward, I took a long look around the room and let my mind wander for just a second; thinking about what this would be like for Edward and me. I couldn’t imagine who would be on the guest list as I knew Edward had more business associates than family.

 

“What has you so lost in thought, pretty girl?” Edward’s masculine voice whispered into my ear, his lips making brief contact with the shell of my ear.

 

“I was just daydreaming,” I sighed in return.

 

“Care to share, or can I take a guess?”

 

I snuggled in tighter as I laid my cheek on his chest. I felt so safe wrapped in his arms; I couldn’t remember a time when I felt safer. Every time we were together, he held me just like this.

 

“Honestly, I was wondering what this would be like for us.” I held my breath as he continued to lead me to the slow song by Diana Krall. We hadn’t been together that long and I really shouldn’t have been thinking this way. It was strange to think that not that long ago, I was trying to push him away. Now I wanted to pull him closer.

 

Edward only hummed as he replied, “Not sure if this room would be big enough, Ma would invite everyone she ever knew.”

 

I could only hope that someday we would find out if the room was big enough. I buried my face in further and wrapped my arms around his waist. It was so easy to forget that he carried a gun, until my hand managed to find it hidden in the holster in his pants.

 

The first time it happened, I gasped and jumped away out of pure shock. As it happened more and more, I would just move my hand a few inches away. He would just kiss me and make me forget.

 

“I promise it’ll be better hidden at our wedding.”

 

His words were what caused me to gasp this time. As I looked at him, he only smiled down into my eyes.

 

“Shit, you think I worked this hard to just quit half way?”

 

“I really wasn’t certain; I mean it wasn’t that long ago that I was trying to get you together with Harley.”

 

“Oh, Bella, I want this more than you know.”

 

I watched as Angela and Ben visited with their guests. Angela was so happy and Ben was so attentive to her. I noticed that he would touch her very subtly; it was as if he was reassuring himself she was real.

 

Edward had excused himself to make a phone call and when he returned, I noticed that he did the same thing with me. It wasn’t much, a brush of his fingers or placing his hand on my back. He was doing this for his benefit, but what he did reassured me as well.

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Jacob making his way over to where Edward and Ben were speaking. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but I could tell it wasn’t good.

 

Ben looked at Edward and shook his head, and then they hugged. Ben returned to Angela’s side and whispered something into her ear. Edward made a phone call and then came over to where I was standing.

 

“I’m sorry, Bella, I have to go take care of some business.”

 

“Business?” I questioned. “Sorry, it’s none of my…”

 

“I have to go and remind someone that loyalty and responsibility doesn’t stop when you go home.”

 

I wasn’t about to ask him what he meant by that. By the sound of his tone of voice, someone might just die tonight, so I figured the less I knew, the better.

 

“I would ask you to stay with me tonight, but I know you’ll say no.”

 

“You’ll never know unless you ask.”

 

“Alright, will you let Angus take you to my condo and will you stay with me tonight?”

 

I smiled devilishly and then pretending to think. “Yes, Mr. Cullen, I’ll go to your condo and wait for you.”

 

The party had nearly cleared out when my sister approached me. “I can’t thank you enough for tonight, it was so amazing.”

 

She was glowing with excitement. It was worth all the planning to have her smile like this.

 

“Oh, sweetie, I’m so happy for you, you deserve to be this happy.” I hugged her tightly; a tear escaping and I quickly wiped it away.

 

I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Ben was speaking with Jacob. Again, I figured I really didn’t want to know what was happening.

 

Angela picked up on my observation. “You’d think Fig would’ve learned the first time.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“When Edward first confronted him about Abby, he told him to take care of his responsibilities. As soon as he heard that Ben had asked me to marry him, he decided that Ben could take over supporting her.”

 

I looked at her with confusion.

 

“Since the truth has come out about Abby, it seems Abby isn’t his only child out there. Fig has four others, the paternity results came out today.”

 

So that was where Edward was headed.

 

Once the room was completely empty and I had said goodnight to Ben and Angela, I found Angus and instructed him to take me to Edward’s.

 

Once inside the building, I made my way up to his condo. It felt strange to be there without him. I knew Edward wouldn’t mind if I made myself at home, so I opened a bottle of wine and got comfortable on his couch.

 

I had just poured my second glass of wine when he came home. He crossed the room and kissed my forehead, trailing down to my neck.

 

“I could get used to having you here when I get home.”

 

I looked into his eyes as I took another sip of wine. I wasn’t going to respond to that one.

 

Without another word, Edward took the glass from my hand and extended his hand to me. Once off the couch, he led me down the hall to his bedroom.

 

The only lights in the room came from the glow of the city below. Edward stopped just shy of his bed and wrapped me in his arms. His lips found mine quickly as he kissed me with purpose. His hands slowly found the zipper of my dress and ever so slowly he began to unzip it as he continued to kiss me.

 

My hands made their way to the inside of his suit jacket and removed it from his shoulders before I made quick work of his dress shirt. Edward slowly steered me onto the mattress, never once breaking our kiss. The feel of his weight on me was enough to make me moan, that and the fact that his mouth had found my neck. Edward reached around my back and unhooked my bra, removing it so quickly I didn’t even realize it had been removed.

 

“Mo dsha, Isabella, ta’ tu’ nois aille’ na shamuhlu me’,” his voice was so thick with want.

 

“A t’u liom go mbraaitheann dheanann sli,” I replied breathlessly.

 

“I never thought hearing Gaelic could actually make me hard.” He pushed his pelvis into my heated core to show me how hard he really was.

 

“Edward…condom…”

 

He continued as if he didn’t hear me. I began to push his chest to make him stop.

 

“What?”

 

“I said, condom.”

 

“Why? You’re on the pill, right?”

 

I looked at him with disbelief. “Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have no idea if you’re clean or not.”

 

The look on his face was one of astonishment, and then anger.

 

“Are you telling me you think I’m cheating on you?”

 

“No, but I am pretty certain you aren’t a virgin.”

 

“No, but neither are you.”

 

We had recently had the past partners discussion. He wouldn’t admit to a particular number, only that it was more than one and less than thirty.

 

I told him about my only two encounters. My first had been Devin O’Toole, and it had been over so quickly that I wasn’t even certain it really happened. The second came a few years ago with a guy I thought I would marry, thus the reason for the pill.

 

“Yes, but your number is higher than mine, and besides, you should be asking me if I’m clean as well.”

 

“I don’t have to ask you!” His voice was now raised and his face was red with anger. “Damn it, Bella, I didn’t sleep with any of the girls at the club! Why would you think I was infected with something?”

 

Now I was angry; just because he didn’t sleep with strippers, he felt safe?

 

“Oh, so you always slept with virgins?”

 

He didn’t respond.

 

I began to move to the edge of the bed.

 

“Bella, I don’t see what the big deal is. If you’re worried about getting pregnant…”

 

“No, Edward, I’m not worried about getting pregnant, I’m worried about getting some life-threating or disgusting STD. You seem to think because you’ve only been with non-strippers that you’re exempt. Do you honestly think that girls who willingly fall into bed with a mob boss haven’t been with other men?”

 

I began to get dressed; he was crazy if he thought I was going any further.

 

“No, Bella, I don’t think I’m exempt, but I have no symptoms…”

 

“Did you not pay attention in health class? Most men get no symptoms…Ugh.”

 

I was done; he obviously didn’t care about the severity of this situation.

 

“Bella, wait…I…I…”

 

“You what, Edward, what can you possibly have to say that would change this?”

 

He only looked at me, but said nothing.

 

I quickly spun on my heel and left a naked Edward sitting on his bed.

 

“I love you!” he shouted as I opened the door, but I continued out of the condo. Michigan Avenue was actually busy for the late hour. I literally stepped out of the door and into a cab.

 

There was only one place where I would feel safe right now; only one person who I could just sit with and not be questioned all night. I quickly told the cab driver the address and twenty minutes later, I was standing outside a door I knew well.

 

I quickly pushed the illuminated button and listened as the bell chimed inside the house. The porch light snapped on, followed by the quick opening of the door.

 

“D-daddy…” I managed to get out before the sobs began.

 

“Come here,” my dad spoke as he pulled me into the house.

 

I made my way into his living room and then collapsed into the cushions of the couch.

 

“He’s called three times already; I thought for sure you would’ve gone to your sister’s.”

 

I shook my head quickly, pulling my knees up and under me, wrapping my arms around a throw pillow and sobbing into it.

 

“She’s too happy, and she would’ve wanted to talk about it.”

 

My father made no comment; he crossed the room and filled two glasses with an amber liquid.

 

“Here, this’ll take the edge off.”

 

I quickly drank what was in the glass and then handed it back to him. We sat together quietly for several minutes before he began.

 

“Bella, I have two questions that I have to ask.” Turning to me, he took my hands in his, “Did he physically hurt you?”

 

“No, Dad, he didn’t hit me.”

 

I turned my entire body and crawled into his waiting arms. Even as a grown woman, I never felt safer than in my daddy’s arms.

 

“Bella, I need to call him and let him know you’re safe; regardless of what he did, he needs to know you’re here and safe with me.”

 

I simply nodded and curled further into my dad’s side.

 

I could feel my dad dialing his phone. I chose to close my eyes and not think about what had happened.

 

“She’s safe.”

 

Silence.

 

“She said you didn’t hit her and that’s the only reason I’m calling you. Leave her alone tonight, alright?”

 

And with that, he ended the call.

 

Translation:

 

Mo dsha, Isabella, ta’ tu’ nois aille’ na shamuhlu me

 

My god, Isabella, you’re so beautiful.

 

A t’u liom go mbraaitheann dheanann

 

You make me that way.

 

  1. Chapter 10

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 10

 

Me: Seriously?

 

Edward: Oh no, you do not get to say a single word.

 

Me: Trust me, it won’t be singular.

 

Edward: No, I am so fucking serious. Just let me tell it, Mathisson.

 

Me: Fine, it is your story after all.

 

Edward: Thank you.

 

Me: You’re welcome, now Tanya? Didn’t see that coming.

 

Edward: Harley has a long way to go.

 

Me: She prefers Tanya.

 

Edward: Again, she has a long way to go.

 

Me: But you stopped calling Bella Legs.

 

Edward: Because Bella owns my balls.

 

Me: Ugh…lucky bitch!

 

The sun was shining as I made my way to work. Too bad my mood was so cloudy. I didn’t sleep hardly at all last night. My dad never said a word after he got off the phone with Edward.

 

It was what I had needed, no one hounding me for what had happened. It wasn’t anyone else’s business anyway. I wondered again if I had been right in the beginning. Edward needed someone willing to not question his actions, someone willing to turn a blind eye, and I wasn’t that girl. I would never be that girl.

 

Charlotte was waiting for me when I got into the office, a large cup of coffee in her hand.

 

“I’d ask how your night went, but by the look on your face and the enormous bouquet of expensive-looking flowers on your desk, I’d say someone screwed up royally.”

 

I wordlessly took the cup from her hand, walked into my office, and placed the cup down on my desk. Grabbing the huge crystal vase with both hands, I walked out of my office and out through the entry door. I placed the flowers on the sidewalk and then went back into my office. Charlotte said nothing as I returned to my chair and sat quietly drinking my coffee.

 

It was nearly eleven o’clock when Esme walked into my office.

 

“If you’ve come here to defend him, you can turn right back around.”

 

Esme stood in the doorway of my office blinking and looking confused. Suddenly, the look on her face changed as she reached into her purse and retrieved her phone.

 

“Care to explain why my Bella is ready to strangle you with her bare hands?”

 

I watched as Esme rolled her eyes.

 

“Edward, really, this is 2012, not 1942. She has no idea of the types of women that have been warming your bed.” Esme crossed the room and took a seat in the chair that faced me. “All I know is you need to fix this, and need I remind you that dime store flowers won’t even begin to do the job; this is Bella, not one of your bobble-headed women. Get it together, Son, before it’s too late.”

 

Esme was silent a moment before her eyebrows raised and the look on her face was almost comical.

 

“Well, I’m glad she refused them, I would’ve hurled them at your head!” Esme looked directly into my eyes as she spoke. “I won’t tell you if the bracelet is still on her wrist or not, figure out how to fix it.”

 

She didn’t seem to wait for his response as she ended the call and then turned to Charlotte.

 

“Charlotte, I’m going to be borrowing Bella for a few days.”

 

I looked with shock at Esme. What was she thinking? I had her daughter’s bridal shower coming up.

 

“Of course, Esme, but we do have Alice’s shower approaching.”

 

Esme turned her attention back to me. “All you need is a phone and a computer; you can work on that from anywhere, am I correct?”

 

“Y-yes?”

 

“Good, then it’s settled.” Esme reached into her purse and dug out a scarf and a large pair of sunglasses, handing them to me. “You’ll need these, lass.”

 

Two hours later, we pulled off the highway onto a road that I was not certain how we didn’t miss it. The road was overgrown with bushes and trees. At the end of the long winding dirt road emerged a tall white house. It looked to be an old farmhouse. To the side, there was even a big red barn, and behind the house was a very large body of water. Esme was very good at getting away from Edward’s men. The car that had been parked outside of my building never moved as we passed it; I was certain they thought it was someone else.

 

“This house has been in my family’s possession for a long time now,” Esme answered my unspoken question. “Edward won’t think about this place as he hasn’t been here since he was a boy. He’ll call me and try to see where you are, but he needs to see what it would be like if you were gone.”

 

I exited the car and took in a deep breath. The air was so clean here and you could hear nothing except the wind in the trees.

 

I got to work in one of the rooms downstairs. Esme was right; all I needed was the internet and a phone. I made great progress without having ten different interruptions. That night, Esme returned with Rose and Alice. They brought several movies and more food than ten people could consume. We sat around the television and laughed and told old stupid boyfriend stories.

 

The next day, I woke up more rested than I had in a very long time. Rose left early so that she could get back to Emmett, and Alice decided to hang around and relax. After a few hours of sitting on the deck and drinking coffee, I got dressed and went for a walk around the lake.

 

It was close to sunset when I finally came back around to the house. I wasn’t ready to go inside so I walked down the wooden dock and sat down at the end. I leaned over and watched the tiny fish swim around under my feet.

 

I felt the vibration of the dock move and I knew who it was without looking. I glanced up to watch the sun riding along the horizon.

 

“Bella,” his voice was barely above a whisper, “You don’t have to turn around or say anything, but can you please just listen to what I have to say?”

 

I didn’t turn around or even acknowledge his request.

 

“You’re right, about so many things, and I…” I could tell by his tone that he was having an inner battle with himself. “I’m sorry. I…you…” I continued to let him have his time to get his thoughts together. “I disrespected you in the worst way; you have every right to know every detail about my life.”

 

I could feel him getting closer, and then I felt as the dock bounced when he sat down behind me.

 

“If I could take it all back and do it over, I would. I’d do as you ask me and not question you. I’d take everything back, except for telling you that I love you.” I could feel the tears begin to form, causing my vision to blur. “Granted, I have terrible timing, but it’s true nonetheless.”

 

Tears ran down both cheeks, and I let them.

 

“I got tested, I had my doctor run every test he could think of and I had him rush the results. I have them here if you want to see them. I’m clean.”

 

I looked down to his left hand that was wrapped securely around a white rolled-up paper. “Thank you for that, getting tested I mean.”

 

“You shouldn’t have had to ask me, I should’ve known better and been more prepared.”

 

I watched as the fading light danced across his face. Sitting here at the end of this dock wasn’t a powerful man, or a man to be feared, this was my Edward, a man who clearly would do anything for me.

 

“You’re the most important thing in my life and I’ll fight till my death for you.”

 

His words were barely above a whisper and yet I heard them loud and clear. I watched as Edward’s eyes left my face and traveled to my wrist where his bracelet rested. I felt his warm fingers running between the metal and my skin.

 

“I prayed that you’d still be wearing this when I saw you.” His eyes then met mine again.

 

“Do you understand why I was upset?” He nodded his head and continued to play with my bracelet. “I felt like I was just…a number, another notch on your bedpost. I felt like I didn’t matter, as long as you got off.”

 

His hand left my wrist and then traveled to my cheek, where he brushed the back of his knuckles across the apple of my cheek. “You’ve never been a number to me Bella. I’ll prove that to you, I swear.”

 

I was done being angry with him, it was time to move forward. I leaned forward and slowly closed my eyes, and Edward quickly followed as our lips met. This kiss was sweet and tender, exactly suited for this moment.

 

“And for the record, I love you, too.”

 

Once the sun had finally sat, Edward took my hand and led me back to the house where he built a fire and began to tell me his sorted sexual past.

 

“When I was almost eighteen, my uncle told me he wanted to give me an early birthday gift.”

 

“Wait, blood uncle or ‘well uncle’?”

 

When I was growing up, I knew we had two types of family, blood family and “well family.” Well family were people we had known so long that most likely, our great grandparents had bathed in the same well as their great grandparents. We still considered them family.

 

“A well uncle. Anyway, he took me to this bar and proceeded to give me my choice of women that he had hidden in the back. I didn’t really want any of them as they looked haggard and worn. They smiled and giggled, they each tried hard to get my attention, but I wasn’t impressed with any of them. Lucky for me, a fight broke out and my uncle ran out the back with me. He said in the car that he would make it up to me, but he was killed before he could make good on that promise.”

 

Edward had a piece of my hair wrapped around his fingers as he continued to tell his story, curling and caressing it absently. I was not certain who got more out of it, him or me.

 

“So then I saw this beautiful girl one day and I wanted to go over to her and ask her out, but before I could get to her, she was talking and laughing with this other guy. I saw her a few more times and each time I thought about going over to her, but I changed my mind and turned the other way. So I was at this party right before I went away to college and I had just seen this girl with yet another guy and I was pissed. So I found another girl who was the exact opposite and took her upstairs. I never knew the poor girl’s name and I left as soon as I finished. I went away to Dartmouth and I tried to get that girl out of my head. I had a few girls in college, but I made it known that I didn’t want a relationship.”

 

I rose from the couch and got a new bottle of wine and poured us both a glass as Edward continued.

 

“When I came home and took over the business, I was so focused on proving myself that I took little time for women. That’s not to say I didn’t have a hand job or two. But for a long while, I didn’t bed any woman. I know my family has very high expectations of me and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure I keep the family proud.”

 

He turned his entire body to face mine as he took both my hands in his.

 

“Bella, when I marry you, and I don’t mean if, I want there to be nothing undisclosed between us. I want to have this little glimmer of hope that each time I make love to my beautiful wife, that we may have just created a little Irish miracle.”

 

I had to smile at him; I had never seen him quite so handsome.

 

“Family is everything to me, that’s why I’ve been so hard on Fig since I found out about Giggles. I believe that if you’re man enough to have sex with a woman, then you’re man enough to carry the responsibilities of anything that comes from it.”

 

I couldn’t help myself as I ran my index finger along his chiseled chin.

 

“Bella, I’m so sorry I disrespected you, I’ve just been so used to having what I want, when I want it, that I forget you’re my equal and have a huge say in what I say and do. Thank you for being so wonderful and giving me another chance, even though I don’t deserve it or especially you.”

 

I smiled as I responded, “Oh, Mr. Cullen, I have no doubt you’ll make this up to me.”

 

“Oh, you have no idea all the ways I plan to do just that.”

 

I kissed his lips softly as I whispered, “I love you.”

 

“”I love you, too, so much, my Bella.”

 

A/N Hmm…I do love a good twist every once and a while.

 

I have to thank each and every one of you who are reading, reviewing, and favoriting me. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw 1,000 reviews…gasp!

 

  1. Chapter 11

 

Seriously Thank you!

 

I have been blown away by all of your reviews and comments on facebook. I never dreamed anyone would love this story as much as I do. Thank you as always to my beta Dollybigmomma who takes the garbled mess I send to her nearly daily and as if magic…***poof*** it comes back looking like what you read twice a week. Anyway, you dont want to read this dribble, you want to hear more from Mobward…

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 11

 

Me: Okay, so I have to give you a little credit, you handled that well.

 

Edward: I got lucky, she had every right to drop me like a bad habit.

 

Me: We both know that wasn’t going to happen.

 

Edward: I’m still grateful she is the way she is, good hearted.

 

Me: I have to say it’s very comical to know that even a man such as yourself can be brought to his knees by his mommy.

 

Edward: From an early age, my father drilled into me that your wife is your queen. She’s untouchable by others in your family. My ma is one tough person; I’ve seen firsthand her dealing with men that have a reputation for being ruthless killers. She had no problem scolding them for getting her kitchen floor dirty.

 

Me: I can see Esme doing just that.

 

Edward: When I heard the door slam after Bella left, I didn’t have the courage to call my ma. I didn’t want to tell her that I’d just lost Bella. When Charlie called me, I was both terrified and relieved. I called Shamus and told him to sit at the end of Charlie’s block until I could get there. I sat in my car all night just watching the house and saying prayer after prayer that I could fix this.

 

Me: I just don’t get why wearing the stupid condom was such an issue for you. Did you not have one?

 

Edward: Mathisson, do you ask your husband for permission to do anything?

 

Me: Not right now, he’s in the Middle East, remember?

 

Edward: So you do your own thing, am I correct?

 

Me: To an extent, yes.

 

Edward: Imagine for a second never asking permission to do anything, never being questioned for your choices or actions. When you tell someone to do something, it isn’t questioned.

 

Me: Sounds nice, where do I apply for this job? (giggles)

 

Edward: For a split second, I got lost in the feel of Bella and I just kept doing what I wanted. When she questioned me, I got angry and that was my second mistake.

 

Me: So you sent her flowers.

 

Edward: I did, and then I watched as she sat them in the middle of the sidewalk and walked away. I nearly cried as she turned and walked back into the building.

 

Me: And then Esme handed you your ass.

 

Edward: My ma knows me better than anyone. When I confessed to her what I’d done, she showed me how fucking stupid I was. She showed me what life was like before Bella.

 

Me: How did you know where Bella was?

 

Edward: (chuckles) I’ll bet you think Esme told me, but you’d be wrong. Once I called a meeting to organize a huge manhunt for her, Shamus asked me if I had checked the GPS chip in her phone. I hadn’t even thought about it, so as soon as I figured out where she was and I knew she was safe, I called my physician and took care of the testing. And bought an entire case of condoms; they’re everywhere now.

 

Me: So, the girl you fell for…?

 

Edward: I want to save that answer for later. There’s a moment coming up in a future chapter and it’ll make more sense then.

 

Me: Next big question, any bronze-haired, green-eyed babies running around out there?

 

Edward: None that are mine.

 

Me: How can you be sure?

 

Edward: It’s impossible to get pregnant from a blowjob.

 

Me: Oh…

 

Esme and I had been trying to tie up all the loose ends for Alice’s bridal shower. With this being thrown by the groom’s family, Esme had been trying to stay out of the planning. However, when it was suggested that a Low Country Boil be done, Esme put her foot down and after a number of heated phone calls, a ladies’ tea was finally scheduled.

 

Alice was so excited at the thought of an English tea that she begged Jasper to fly in a specialist on the subject. Edward called me and begged me to have a talk with her. I contacted Rose, who as we all knew had no issue with telling it how it was and she gave me advice on how to handle her.

 

I found a local hotel that actually hosted afternoon tea and I hired the lady that hosted it to come and show us what to do.

 

“Alright, Bella, are you ready for this?” Charlotte questioned as I was adjusting the place settings.

 

“That’s a good question, it makes me a little nervous to think that this is just a bridal shower and there are so many people coming.”

 

This would be the first bridal shower where the guest list was over two hundred. It was also the first one where men would be in the next room in case something happened.

 

I had been thinking about that quite a bit lately. Edward never went anywhere without his bodyguards, and now I had men that followed me everywhere I went as well. If I were to marry Edward and have children with him, would those children become targets? Would they have men that followed them everywhere they went? I couldn’t imagine trying to attend a soccer game with two or three bodyguards hovering around. I didn’t get a second longer to think about it as Jasper’s family had arrived.

 

Mrs. Whitlock was everything Esme said she was and then some. I politely introduced myself to her as the party coordinator and she eyed me up and down condescendingly before turning her nose up as if I was beneath her.

 

Esme noticed this and came over to greet me. “Eileen, how nice to see you again, I see you’ve met our Isabella.”

 

“Oh, yes, Esme. Good to see you as well. Yes, she told me who she was; it’s the least she could do after what this is costing me.”

 

Excuse me, bitch? You insisted on throwing this thing!

 

“Yes, well, Eileen, if the money is an issue, I’m certain Isabella could just ask Edward for his checkbook.”

 

I quickly turned to Esme, what the hell was the lady talking about?

 

“Edward? What would this glorified waitress know of Edward?”

 

I watched as Esme’s face changed to one of pure joy, and a maybe a little mischief.

 

“Eileen, may I introduce you to Edward’s Bella. I know you’ve heard he gave her the bracelet. This…is our Bella.”

 

You could have shoved a Mack truck in the gaping hole that was Eileen’s mouth. I hadn’t realized that my accepting the bracelet had been such news. I thought it was just a close family thing. Clearly I was wrong.

 

“Oh, well, you must be very excited then, Esme, she’s very pretty.”

 

Not one time after Esme set her straight about whom I was did Eileen look at me. I was used to this from Edwards’s men, but this was new for it to come from a woman.

 

“I’m happy for my son, Bella is good for him, and she makes him a better man.”

 

Wow…didn’t see that one coming.

 

Once all of the quests had arrived, the tea was served. I made my way to the back of the room. I wanted to make certain the wait staff had everything they needed. I was in full work mode when Esme approached me.

 

“Isabella, you need to take your seat.”

 

“Esme…what are…?”

 

“You’re a member of this family and you need to have a seat with the family.”

 

“Esme, thank you, but I’m also working.”

 

Something you learned fairly quickly, you never argued with the Cullen women.

 

“Did you not hire Tanya to assist you?”

 

It wasn’t a question.

 

“Then go freshen your face and join us.”

 

Sitting and not helping was a true test of my nerves. I wanted so badly to go to the kitchen and make sure everything was going well. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Tanya; I just had issues relinquishing control.

 

We had barely begun our second pot of tea when I noticed Eileen’s face was scrunched up in a disdainful manor. The boss in me wanted to make certain everything was alright.

 

“Don’t even think about it,” Esme instructed from my left.

 

“Sorry, it’s just hard to let go.”

 

“Bella, even if she wasn’t paying for this, she’d still be unhappy. That’s just how she is.” It was more than that and I knew it. Esme had no problem reading my face. “Let’s get through the gifts and we’ll talk.”

 

The tea itself was really a lot of fun. The lady, Mrs. Belvedere, was very informative when she would tell of the history of the different teas that were being served. It was interesting to learn that different teas were served at different times of the day and that this was a tradition that had occurred for many years in England. I hoped one day that I would get to travel abroad and experience an authentic tea.

 

Sitting next to Rose was certainly an entertaining event. She and Alice would make up different stories about the women in the room. It was like people watching gone wild.

 

“So, I hear you and Edward have exchanged the ‘L’ word,” Alice whispered when Esme wasn’t listening.

 

I could only smile.

 

“You know, I really shouldn’t tell you this, however…”

 

“However, she has a big-ass mouth and she’s going to anyway,” Rose teased.

 

Alice pinched her arm, causing both girls to giggle.

 

“Anyway, as I was saying…Edward told Jasper that he fell in love with you the night he found you at the jazz club and you bit his head off about him calling you Legs. He said there was just something about you that called deeply to him.”

 

I smiled at the memory of that night.

 

“I knew I’d fallen for him the day he found me at my sister’s grave and asked me about my favorite memory. It was like he wanted to know her as well.”

 

“So, are you glad you decided to give him a chance?” Alice questioned, taking a sip from her cup.

 

“You know,” lifting my cup as well, “I really am.”

 

I listened as Esme told a story of how she and Carlisle had tried to get away for a weekend when their children were little. She laughed and said that in the weeks leading up to the trip, every time Carlisle would try to become intimate with her, one of the children would barge in.

 

“So finally, we’re sitting in this lovely bed and breakfast and we’re naked as the day is long,” she chuckled at her memory. “Carlisle is thrusting like there’s no tomorrow and the bloody phone rings.”

 

She went on to say that it had been the uncle that was staying with the children and it appeared that Edward thought it would be cute to “launch” his little sister. He was successful in not only projecting her straight into the air, but also in breaking her arm in three places and requiring surgery.

 

“We had to rush back so we could be there for little Alice.”

 

I watched as Alice turned green from hearing her parents were having sex.

 

“Oh, just you wait my darling daughter; have as much sex as you can now because once you bring those babies home, you’ll never have it again until they leave.”

 

The entire table erupted in laughter; well, except for Alice of course.

 

Being in this business for as long as I had, you got to see some pretty amazing things. Nothing could have prepared me for watching Alice open her gifts. From one of her aunts back in Ireland, she received this amazing handmade lace handkerchief. Esme told me she would carry that during her wedding. Evidently, it had been made from the leftover lace from Alice’s christening gown. I nearly cried as I heard the story. Carlisle and Esme gave her an architect to build them a house. A house…oh, my god…

 

Jasper had sent over this absolutely stunning necklace that was covered in diamonds. Eileen closed her eyes and physically shook when Alice gushed over it. Apparently, it had been left to Jasper by Eileen’s father. Esme whispered that it would have gone to Eileen if she would have married the man her father told her to.

 

Nothing could have prepared me when Alice lifted a large gold envelope from the table and read out loud, “From Edward and Bella.”

 

She quickly tore open the envelope as I sat like a statue in my chair. I watch as she took out an official-looking paper and began to literally squeal as she jumped out of her chair and ran around the table.

 

“Oh, Bella, thank you! Thank you! It’s the exact one I wanted. Oh, I’m so happy!” Her arms wrapped tightly around me as she violently rocked me back and forth. I was helpless to do anything as she continued to vibrate with joy.

 

Once she finally let me go, she dropped the piece of paper on the table in front of me and then reached back into the envelope. It was at this point I noticed not only a picture, but a car title in Alice’s name. Edward had purchased her a Porsche.

 

“Esme, I had no idea.”

 

She patted my knee as she leaned in, “Did you notice that Eileen gave her nothing?”

 

I looked at Esme with wide eyes. “You’re shitting me, right? I mean, I got her a place-setting of dishes off her register, nothing huge…”

 

Esme cut me off by placing her hand on mine.

 

“Yes, lass, and don’t think Eileen didn’t notice that she received two gifts from you.”

 

I quickly whispered to Esme, “But I had no idea he was going to do that.”

 

Esme only smiled, “Yes, but neither did Eileen.”

 

I didn’t understand what was happening here; little did I know that I was about leave Eileen completely speechless.

 

A/N

 

It occurred to me as I was reading over this, that some of you may have no clue what a “Low country boil” is. Well, I am a Georgia peach and we here in the south love to cook outside. In my neck of the woods, a low country boil is where you get this huge pot, like the kind you use to deep fry turkeys. (Yes we southerners deep fry everything, don’t judge)

 

Then you get potatoes and sausage and shrimp and corn on the cob and crab and cajun spices and you toss it all in this pot and you cook it till it’s done. Then you drain off the water and you toss the cooked food onto a table (we cover ours with a clean plastic table cloth) and then you gather all of your family and friends and start eating…and drinking of coarse…

 

…Now do you understand why Esme put her foot down?

 

  1. Chapter 12

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANNEGANS

 

Chapter 12

 

Me: Wow, and I thought my in-laws were characters.

 

Edward: Yes, well, Eileen is a piece of work.

 

Me: That’s putting it mildly.

 

Edward: I’m just glad Amex loves Jasper. This would be a war if things were different.

 

Me: A war?

 

Edward: When the idea of bringing the two families together was first brought to the table, I was worried that Amex wouldn’t like Jasper. So when we took a trip to Mississippi and introduced the two, you would’ve thought Amex had been waiting her entire life for him. They literally were introduced and we didn’t see them again for three days. Jasper had a ring on her finger before we even came home to Chicago. My parents weren’t stupid; they knew Jasper had taken my sister to bed. My dad told Jasper that if he did anything to dishonor her, there would be a war. Sherman and Eileen said that if Amex tried to back out of the marriage, they would also consider that a reason for war. When Jasper and I sat down and discussed the terms of the marriage, Jasper nearly took his father’s head off.

 

Me: Why, what did Sherman do?

 

Edward: That’s s my mom will explain later. Anyway, the terms were hashed out and her dowry was paid.

 

Me: Dowry? Will Charlie have to pay you one of those?

 

Edward: Well, considering I haven’t asked for Bella’s hand, no.

 

Me: You’ve made it clear that you intend to do just that.

 

Edward: Yes, that’s my intention; however, the Swans are not another family we wish to join ranks with. No money or trade will be needed from Charlie.

 

Me: I won’t even ask how much money was exchanged.

 

Edward: Enough to rebuild a family.

 

Me: Okay, I’m dying to see what Bella does to Eileen.

 

Edward: Indeed. Alright, where were we? Oh yes, the bridal shower…

 

“Isabella, come with me,” Esme instructed as we watched Eileen getting upset with the hotel manager.

 

“…And the scones were at least a day old. You’re bloody bonkers if you think I’m paying for them,” Eileen hissed at the poor manager.

 

“Is there a problem here, Eileen?” Esme questioned.

 

“Oh, you know, Esme, stupid Americans, what do they know about English staples?”

 

Hearing her lashing out, not only at poor Edgar the hotel manger, but about everything she had seen today, finally hit me. I didn’t even really think about what I did, it just happened.

 

“I’m so sorry, Edgar; here, let me take care of everything.”

 

I hadn’t given Edward his credit card back from Angela’s party, so I quickly handed it to Edgar who scurried away with it.

 

It was after Edgar was out of sight that I caught the final price, eleven thousand dollars….great, there went a huge chunk of my savings.

 

I looked to the two ladies that stood before me; Esme was standing tall, like the mother of a gold medalist. Eileen, however, had the look of absolute shock and quite frankly was a bit green around the gills.

 

“Yes, since that’s all settled,” Esme chuckled, “Shall we have that drink now, Bella?”

 

“Wait! Let me…let me give you a check…you…” Eileen stuttered as she scrambled trying to open her Gucci purse.

 

I turned back to look at Eileen. I now noticed how her hands were shaking and fumbling to find her checkbook.

 

“Oh, Mrs. Whitlock, never mind the money, us stupid Americans are more than willing to step up and help,” I smiled at her and turned to join Esme in the hotel bar.

 

Esme waited until we were seated and had our drinks before she finally said anything.

 

“You acted like a Cullen today, I’m so proud of you. Wait until Edward hears about this.”

 

I lowered my head and let out a sigh. “What I did today was stupid; I disrespected her by jumping in the middle. My only reason behind that was to save my amicable connection with the staff here.” Esme only smiled as she sipped her drink. I chuckled as I continued, “That was the most expensive lunch I’ve ever bought. It’ll take me a while to recoup that money.”

 

Esme quietly place her wine glass down on the table. “Do you think Edward will even blink an eye at that credit card bill?”

 

I looked at her questioningly, “He won’t have to; I’ll give him a check tomorrow, along with an apology for using it without his permission.”

 

Esme silently laughed as she continued to sip on her wine. I, on the other hand, chugged my martini.

 

“Lass, I think it’s time you were given a little more information on the people around you.”

 

The bartender silently removed my empty glass and replaced it with a new martini. The bar was surprisingly quiet for the amount of people that were seated. I didn’t notice any of Edwards’s men and I did find that odd.

 

“Eileen Whitlock is a woman who lives with regret,” Esme began to trace imaginary lines on the table with her perfectly manicured fingernail. “You see, Bella, when she decided to leave Ireland and marry a non-Irish American, she had no idea of what was about to happen back home. She and Sherman had been married about a year and had Jasper’s sister, Maria, when her only brother died suddenly. “

 

I watched as Esme shifted her eyes from the table to my face.

 

“Family law states that in a case like that, the eldest daughter may inherit the family business when the father steps down.”

 

My eyes went wide. I knew Eileen had refused to marry the Irish man her father had wanted her to, and because of that, she would have no claim to the family fortune.

 

“The same law states that she must follow the same rules and marry accordingly, which she did not. To make matters worse, she had a child by that American man.”

 

The bartender placed a new glass of wine on the table and removed the empty one Esme had been toying with.

 

“Eileen’s sister, Audrey, not only inherited the business when their father passed a few months later, she married the man Eileen had ran from. They now run the business and have six children of their own. Audrey wants for nothing, much as I do. That, however, is not the case for Eileen.”

 

This was surprising as Eileen always looked so well-put-together and drove a Range Rover. Esme caught my shock and chuckled.

 

“Oh yes, Bella, Sherman Whitlock is nearly bankrupt. He’s made one bad deal after another. It’s a good thing my Alice is completely in love with Jasper or I would’ve made Carlisle break the marriage contract. Jasper has taken over the company, and with the help of Alice’s dowry and Edward’s assistance, we expect to have a strong alliance very soon.”

 

I was about to ask why, in this day and time, the exchange of money for a bride was still happening.

 

“Eileen thought that if she married Sherman, she would have the status you and I have.”

 

“What status do I have?”

 

This wasn’t my world and I had no real claim to Edward or his family. I loved being with him, but that didn’t change the fact that he could drop me like a bad habit and move on to the next girl. I had no status.

 

“Bella, I believe Rose told you a little as to why Edward’s men don’t look at you in the eye?”

 

“Yes, she said it had to do with honor and respect.”

 

“Yes and no, it actually goes back further than we can really explain. I’ve been told it dates back as far as ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs. We give that same distinction to the wife or betrothed of our current king, so to speak.”

 

If I was confused before, I was completely lost now. I wasn’t betrothed to Edward; we had barely begun to date.

 

“Okay, I get that it’s an honor to be the king’s wife or intended, but Esme, I’m neither. Clearly Edward and I aren’t married, and he hasn’t asked me to marry him, so why do these rules apply to me?”

 

Esme rolled her eyes as she adjusted in her seat. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…God knows I love Rose, but sometimes she fails to deliver the correct information; the bracelet, Bella.” I looked down at my wrist, the diamonds glistening back at me. “The bracelet is a complete circle, the diamonds, one of the hardest materials known to man, the platinum they’re set in, strong and beautiful. It all means one thing. Edward placed that bracelet on your wrist as a sign that you’re his intended, and only you can break that bond by removing it. That’s why he was so concerned that you’d removed it when I took you to the farmhouse.”

 

I couldn’t speak after her confession.

 

“Eileen always wanted to have that level of respect; she never wanted to be in a position of having to give it.”

 

This was so overwhelming for me. I knew his feelings on getting married, but to be told that he was on that track…

 

Before I could ask Esme any more questions, Edward and his men came charging through the bar entrance. “Oh, thank god! I’ve been tearing this hotel apart looking for you,” Edward said as he crossed the room and lifted me out of my seat, knocking my drink over in the process. He hugged me so tightly I thought he would break a bone. “Baby, please don’t scare me like that again, I couldn’t find you and no one knew where you went.”

 

My face was crushed to his chest. I could feel his heart beating so fast I thought it was going to fly out of his chest.

 

“Edward, I’m fine, I’ve been with your mother the entire time.”

 

He pulled me back to look into my eyes; I saw it then, relief.

 

I watched as Esme and Edward looked at each other, silently saying something to each other.

 

The bartender was quick to come with a towel and a new drink for me. Edward took a seat without a word and a glass of scotch was placed before him. He pulled me close and placed his hand midway up on my thigh, slowly making lazy patterns with his thumb; it was comforting and a little erotic.

 

Esme began to tell him of the encounter with Eileen and how I had paid the bill. He smiled as he raised his glass with his free hand.

 

“I’m so sorry, Edward, I’ll have a check to you in the morning. I don’t know what came over me,” I shook my head as I apologized.

 

“No, you will not,” his voice was firm.

 

I looked at him with alarm. “But, Edward, I charged eleven grand to your credit card! You never gave me permission to use the card except for Angela’s party.”

 

Edward only smiled as he lifted my wrist that had the bracelet wrapped securely around it. “This, love, is all the permission you need.”

 

I could only blink as his words began to sink in.

 

“Listen, if this is really bothering you, then I can think of a way for you to make it up to me,” he said with a low voice and I looked up into his dark, lusty eyes.

 

“Oh, I have no doubt that you do,” I chuckled as I leaned onto his side.

 

“Edward, love, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to tell you something before anyone else did,” Esme’s gentle voice filled the air. “Eileen didn’t give your sister a gift; nothing.”

 

Edward shifted his entire body toward his mother. I could feel his muscles tighten and I could see his hand grip the scotch glass firmly. “No lace or quilt?”

 

Esme could only shake her head.

 

I remembered hearing from my grandmother that in the old country, the mother of the groom would make a quilt from the clothes the groom had worn as a child. It would be placed on the marriage bed for the first year as a good luck charm.

 

“No, love, not even a card from the corner grocery.”

 

I didn’t like the look that both Esme and Edward held. I couldn’t describe it; it looked almost like one of betrayal.

 

“Speaking of gifts,” I quickly poked Edward in the side with my index finger, “You bought your sister a car and then you added my name to the card,” I accused and Edward turned quickly to face me, his devilish eyes locked with mine. The cheeky fucker pulled out the crooked grin just because he could.

 

“Amex wanted a yellow Porsche she’d seen in a magazine. As far as adding your name, what’s the issue?”

 

I rolled my eyes at him. “Well, a little heads up would’ve been nice. I’d already given her a place setting of her china.”

 

He quickly kissed my nose as he ran his hand along my thigh, slowly parting my legs and trailing his fingers between.

 

“I like it when you’re feisty.”

 

God, the things this man could do with his fingers…

 

“Oh, my love, you’ve not begun to see feisty,” I moaned. He quickly kissed my lips as his fingers went even higher. “Edward,” his name came out as a gasp.

 

“I’m sorry, I’ll stop.”

 

Unfortunately, he did. I knew Esme was at the table, but his fingers really did make my lady bits tingle.

 

“Alright, you two, dinner is at our house. No excuses; and I expect you both,” Esme began as she rose from her chair. Edward followed her and helped to gather her things. Once he had her out the door, he turned and came back to the table.

 

“Well, so much for the plans I had for you later,” he stated rather gruffly.

 

“Edward, it’s just dinner, we can always go back to your house after.”

 

The smile then returned to his face as he helped me out of my chair.

 

“I like the way you think.”

 

“Oh, you have no idea the plans I have for you later,” I stated as he took my hand in his.

 

“I look forward to each and every detail, trust me.”

 

Dinner with Esme and Carlisle was surprisingly relaxing. Seeing Esme go from her typical dress-to-impress style to her lounge pants and zip-up hoodie was refreshing, and I had to admit it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the casual atmosphere.

 

Once the meal was over and I had insisted on washing the dishes, we all found ourselves settling into the family room and enjoying a bottle of wine.

 

“So, how was the shower, ladies?” Carlisle questioned as he shifted in his chair. He had not been able to attend and sit in the room next to ours.

 

“Eileen didn’t give a gift, nothing,” Esme stated with no emotion in her voice.

 

“Then it’s true,” Carlisle responded, now looking at Edward.

 

I watched as Edward nodded his head solemnly. No further words were exchanged and I was too nervous to question what they were talking about. I couldn’t help but wonder why this gift issue was so significant.

 

Edward didn’t waste any time after we got back to his condo. I quickly found my shirt on the floor and my bare back against his soft sheets. His strong hands were gentle on my skin. I made quick work of his shirt. I ran my hand along his muscular chest as his tongue and lips dominated mine.

 

I was so lost in his touch that I barely heard his cell phone ringing. Edward ignored it and continued. It was seconds later that the house phone began to ring. Again, Edward ignored it and continued. Barely a minute passed and the house phone rang again. This time Edward jerked away from me, rolled to his side, and shouted into the receiver, “What?”

 

I couldn’t hear what was being said on the other end, but Edward’s face began to soften.

 

“Riley, she’s a small woman, bust the fucking door down and get her out.” Edward was again quiet; his fingers found his hair and began to tug. I knew he was getting frustrated. “Fine, I’ll be there in fifteen, find the motherfucker who drugged her.”

 

Edward placed the phone back in the cradle and then turned to hover over me again. “I’m so sorry to do this to you.” He lowered his forehead to mine, “Michelle has locked herself up in the bathroom of some sleazy motel downtown. She refuses to come out to anyone else except me. Evidently, she went there with some guy and he roughed her up pretty good.”

 

I knew Michelle had a drug problem. The situation made me think of my sister; if only Vicky could have had someone like Edward to come save her, things would have been different.

 

“Babe, don’t worry, go help her and then come back here, I’ll be waiting for you.”

 

He quickly kissed me and then began to get dressed. With one final kiss and exchanges of I love you, he was out the door.

 

I laid there for hours after he had left. I began to think about how often this would happen if we were to marry. Would he miss soccer games and dance recitals for stuff like this? I guess only time would tell.

 

I felt him as I slowly rose out of my twilight sleep. I was certain I had just drifted off. He was warm from a fresh shower and I quickly turned to face him.

 

“Hey, you’re home,” I whispered, my raspy voice full of exhaustion.

 

“Umm hmm,” he nuzzled his face into my hair and took in a deep breath.

 

I couldn’t help but giggle. “Can you please tell me why you’re sniffing me?”

 

He let out his breath and nuzzled in closer to me. “Because your smell is so much better than what I’ve just smelled for the past few hours.”

 

I hugged him tighter to my body. I knew nothing sexual was going to happen between us tonight, he just needed me to be here.

 

“Did you get Michelle calmed down?”

 

“Yes, she’d barricaded herself in the bathroom. We never found the guy who roughed her up, but I have a few leads on him. I was able to check her into The Haven and get her some help for her drug addiction.”

 

I smiled as I laid my head in the crook of his neck. “Rose was right about you.”

 

“How so?”

 

“At the end of the day, you really are a good guy.”

 

No further words were said as I drifted off to sleep, wrapped in his arms.

 

A/N

 

The blanket tradition is just something I made up for this story, as is the lace, although it is a lovely sentiment, don’t you think?

 

Thank you to everyone who has reviewed and placed SAS in their favorites. Thank you also to my wonderful beta, Dollybigmomma…you rock my words, girlie!

 

  1. Chapter 13

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 13

 

Me: I love Esme.

 

Edward: She is great, isn’t she?

 

Me: So, several people have wanted some clarification on your virginal status.

 

Edward: (quirks eyebrow) I knew this conversation was coming. (leans back, hands behind head, muscles flexing)

 

Me: (discretely wipes drool) Enough with the pecks, get on with it. Are you or are you not a bloody virgin?

 

Edward: (big sigh) Not technically.

 

Me: Dude, that’s like being barely pregnant…Are you a virgin?

 

Edward: Remember how I said I met this girl and then went to that party and hooked up with that girl that was her polar opposite?

 

Me: Yes…

 

Edward: Well…I couldn’t seal the deal, so to speak.

 

Me: English please.

 

Edward: I kissed her, fondled her a bit, snapped a condom on, and after about five seconds, I lost my erection.

 

Me: While inside her or before?

 

Edward: Inside. It happened two more time, with other girls. I made sure it wasn’t just a fluke thing, and I made sure both of the girls were really drunk just in case. After the third time, I went to a doctor to make sure there wasn’t something wrong with me. When all the tests came back negative and all the doctors said I was fine, I went and talked to my dad.

 

Me: What did he say?

 

Edward: That I must have a guilty conscience.

 

Me: Oh…and with Bella?

 

Edward: Time will tell, wont it?

 

Me: But you said you’ve gotten blowjobs.

 

Edward: That’s the weird thing; I have no issues with those.

 

Me: So, the bridal shower, why were you there? I mean they’re traditionally a girls-only event.

 

Edward: Simple, the most precious thing I have was there and some of the people I trust the least were as well.

 

Me: Can I assume we’re in reference to the Whitlock’s?

 

Edward: No, I trust Jasper; Eileen Whitlock, however, not in the least. She has no regard for tradition and is only after power and money. Not to worry, my Ma has a special meeting planned for her.

 

Me: So, Bella thinks you’re a great guy for helping out a friend.

 

Edward: I’m trying. Michelle has hopefully hit rock bottom. When I got to the motel, I went inside and the place was disgusting. I had to cover my nose and mouth with my sleeve to keep from vomiting. She was curled into a ball in the bottom of the bathtub; the guy had beaten the shit out of her, literally. I told her she was either going to jail or rehab, she chose rehab.

 

Me: Do we know who did this to her?

 

Edward: I have my suspicions, and I have a few guys on it.

 

Me: That’s all I’m getting, isn’t it?

 

Edward: (Only smiles…)

 

Waking the next morning, I noticed two things. First, Edward had the most annoying alarm, and second, the man could make a cup of coffee.

 

First, his alarm was a combination of a loud annoying beeping sound followed by all of the overhead lights coming on, not to be outdone by the curtains on the window being opened and the bright sunlight nearly blinding me.

 

All was forgotten, though, as he handed me a huge steaming cup of liquid happiness.

 

“Mmm, good morning,” I said sleepily as I kissed his lips.

 

“It is now,” he said, his voice rather husky this morning.

 

Edward sat beside me on the bed, his well-defined chest on display for me, his pale blue sleep pants hanging low and giving me just a hint of his chiseled ‘V’ that made me cross my legs.

 

I set my mug on the nightstand and began to make my way over to Edward’s lap. He had begun a fire in me last night that he needed to extinguish and it felt like he was up for the challenge as he pulled my nightshirt off, tossing to the floor.

 

Before I could even get my lips on his neck, the loud banging of a door caused me to freeze.

 

“Edward!” Alice’s voice screeched down the hall.

 

I didn’t even have time to climb off his lap before she barged into the bedroom.

 

“Edward, didn’t you hear me calling you?”

 

Alice stood with her arms crossed and her foot tapping. She slowly began to realize that I was sitting on his lap.

 

“Um…kind of trying to get laid here, Alice,” Edward stated as he continued to kiss my neck.

 

“Oh, would you forget about your stupid dick for one second. I need your help!”

 

Alice had no shame as she jumped into the middle of the bed.

 

“Dear Penthouse, ever have one of those dreams where…” I began as I removed myself from Edward’s lap and crawled under the covers, sighing as I pulled them up over myself. Alice was totally unfazed.

 

“Bella, I’m so glad you’re here, too. I need to talk to you as well.”

 

Again, Alice had no shame as she picked up my cup of coffee and went to take a drink.

 

“Hold it right fucking there…” I snapped as I quickly took my coffee out of her tiny hands, “I’ll share a lot of things; my first cup of coffee isn’t one of them,” I cradled my cup of coffee as if it was the Hope diamond.

 

“Sorry, sorry, my mistake,” she held her hands up as if in surrender.

 

“You said something about needing my help?” Edward questioned.

 

“Yes, dear sweet Edward, did you know that Queen Bitch didn’t give me a gift at my shower?”

 

Edward took a sip from his cup as he leaned his back against the headboard. “I did hear something about that.”

 

“No quilt, Edward, no lace for my wedding…nothing.”

 

“Trust me, Alice, that isn’t all she failed to deliver at your shower.”

 

Edward went on to tell her the story of how I had pulled out his credit card and paid the hotel bill. Alice’s eyes were huge as she looked at me and then back to Edward.

 

“Alice, this only confirms what we warned you about.”

 

“She wouldn’t, would she? I mean Ma said that when she spoke with Jasper’s Aunt Audrey, the lace had been shipped weeks ago.”

 

“It confirms they’re broke, Alice; she took that lace and sold it to buy something.”

 

Then it hit me. I felt so stupid for not catching this before. It was an old Irish tradition that when two families were being united by marriage, the mothers would get together and bind together pieces of their family’s lace. Traditionally, each piece of lace was extremely old having been handed down through the generations, a sort of tangible genealogy. They were usually very intricate and handmade, and thus very valuable. The tradition would continue down the line, and if I had to guess, Alice’s piece of lace was hundreds of years old. It was done to symbolize the union of the two families. Many lace collectors would study each piece and could tell instantly what family had made which piece. A really intricate, well-made and well-preserved piece could sell for thousands.

 

My father had given Angela the piece from our parents. She had sent it to a lace maker back in Ireland who joined the piece that Ben’s mother had sent.

 

“Alice, let Ma handle this. Trust me, Eileen Whitlock will regret the day she messed with our Ma.”

 

No truer words had ever been spoken. Esme could be a real piece of work when provoked.

 

“So, um, Bella, do you still have his little black card?” Alice’s voice changed as she asked and her shoulders came up to be even with her ears as if a child that was being coy.

 

“Yes, actually, I forgot to give it back.”

 

I went to retrieve it from my purse, but Edward stopped me by placing his hand on my shoulder, “Not so fast there, keep that one until yours arrives.”

 

I turned to him so quickly I nearly fell off the bed, “What do you mean mine?”

 

Edward gave me his signature crooked smile. That usually worked to make my panties wet, but unfortunately this time it just pissed me off.

 

“I mean the card that my credit card company is sending for you. Don’t even think about arguing, and have fun with it.”

 

“Edward Cul…”

 

My words were quickly cut off by his lips. He was really playing dirty now.

 

Alright, Mr. Cullen, two could play at this game…

 

In two short weeks, my sister would be a married woman. I was happy for her, thrilled even…and completely jealous.

 

I wouldn’t ever admit that to her, or to anyone else. It was just how I felt and I had every right to do that…feel, not be jealous.

 

Last night at dinner, Edward told me he would be heading to Ireland soon. He said he had some business to take care of and that he would be back in time for Angela’s wedding.

 

We were having her bachelorette party at Smoke and Mirrors, one of Edward’s clubs. He insisted on having it there and assured me he would take care of everything. I learned a long time ago to expect Edward to be true to his word; when he said he would handle everything, he would handle everything. Thus, the reason I was sitting in the back of a stretch limo that was buzzing with very excited girls. Angela had invited all of her friends from college and her bridal party; needless to say, it was quite loud.

 

We pulled into the valet area of the club and I listened as girl after girl screamed with excitement.

 

“Oh, my god, Angie, how in the hell did you get into this club?”

 

I looked at my sister, silently asking her to keep quiet about me.

 

“I have friends in high places.”

 

Did I mention that I loved my sister?

 

Once we emerged from the limo, the blue lights that illuminated the outside of the building showed me two things; first, the line to get in was huge, and second, Rose and Alice were standing beside three of Edward’s men just outside the entrance.

 

I made my way over and hugged each of them.

 

“Edward said he told you about his trip to Ireland?” Rose had a glint in her eyes as she spoke.

 

“Yes, he said he’d leave early tomorrow and be back before the wedding, said he had business to attend to.”

 

Rose and Alice gave each other a look that I honestly didn’t want to know about.

 

The club was packed as we made our way through the crowd. Jacob was standing directly beside me and was ushering me to the back of the dance floor.

 

“Ms. Swan, boss wants you to enjoy yourself.” With his words, he gestured for my right wrist where he placed a silver Tiffany bracelet. I noticed that all of the girls in our party were given the same bracelet. “Just show the bartender this and you can have anything you want to drink or eat.”

 

The area he had escorted us to was a huge section that looked more like a casual living room. It had several couches and small tables.

 

Posted outside the entrance of course were four of Edward’s men. It wasn’t until I was seated on one of the couches that I noticed Esme sitting in the far corner. I was delighted to see her and so I rose and made my way over to her.

 

“Lass,” Esme grinned and rose from her chair, wrapping me in a tight hug.

 

“Esme, I didn’t expect you.”

 

“Well, she’ll be my daughter and I wanted to help her celebrate.”

 

Esme never stopped surprising me with her kind words. Considering the type of business her husband and son were in, you would have thought she would be a hardnosed woman.

 

The DJ was wonderful as he played everything Angela asked of him. The bartenders would get her on the bar and do body shots off her and her girls. I sat back and watched as none of them made a move toward me. I was getting used to not having jerks come up to me.

 

Everything was going really well when it happened…

 

I was dancing with Angela and Rose off to the side when a really big guy approached us on the dance floor. I had my back to him so I had no idea he was even approaching. Without warning, I felt tight hands gripping my hips and at first I thought it was Edward. I tried to turn around, but he wouldn’t let me, his bruising grip tightening to the point of being painful. It was then I knew it wasn’t Edward. I could feel his hot breath on my neck and his erection grinding into my ass.

 

I again tried to turn around when I noticed Jacob plowing his way through the crowd. I looked at him and held my hand up, telling him to stop. I was finally able to pry the guy’s hands loose enough to turn my body and look at the man behind me. What I saw made my blood run cold.

 

He was huge, his eyes hooded and wild. I could barely make out his dark eye color as they were boring directly into mine. His massive shoulders rocked with the beat of the music as he began moving us away from the crowd, his hands never fully leaving my body.

 

“You need to step away!” I shouted at him over the music. He only snickered and jerked me back even closer, his grip tighter and more painful than before. I was sure I would be covered in bruises. The look in his eyes scared the hell out of me, but I tried to hide it and squared my shoulders. “Seriously, if you value your life, you’ll walk away now!” I yelled trying to pull away from him.

 

It was then that he reached up and grabbed my face with one hand and jerked my face to his, kissing me full on with his tongue shoved into my mouth as I fought to push him off. They guy was freakishly strong and I couldn’t budge him off me. His other hand went up under my dress and grabbed a handful of my ass, pulling me against his erection again and grinding roughly into me. I felt my feet leave the floor then and suddenly we were moving towards the back of the club.

 

It all happened so fast that I wasn’t sure if it was real. One second, the large man was on the verge of violating me with the hand he had begun using to roughly grope me between my legs while he bruised my cheeks with the claw-like grip he had on my face with his other hand, and then the next second he was three feet away from me.

 

I watched in horror as Edward stood with the back of the large man’s neck clinched firmly in his hands and he was repeatedly slamming the guy’s face into a table. I watched as blood splattered everywhere, and what appeared to be teeth flew in different directions. Edward’s face was contorted in rage, his expression almost feral. It was all happening so fast that I couldn’t process what Edward was screaming at the man. I could only watch as he repeatedly slammed the man’s face into the hard wooden surface of the table.

 

“Get her the fuck out of here!” Edward roared at Jacob.

 

I didn’t wait for him as I turned and quickly began making my way to the doors. Once outside, I found the cold air of the night and a very anxious Angus pulling me toward the car.

 

“I’ve got you, Ms. Swan.”

 

I didn’t remember the ride back to my house, only that I couldn’t get the mental picture of Edward in an out-of-control rage out of my head.

 

Thank god for Angus, as he and Jacob helped me into my house.

 

“Ms. Swan, boss wanted you to go to his condo.”

 

“N-No, I want my bed, thank you.”

 

I knew Jacob would be sitting on my couch all night; Edward would have his head if he didn’t. I told them both goodnight and headed into my bathroom.

 

The next morning, my father was sitting at my kitchen table when I awoke. I knew Edward would have called him, what I wasn’t prepared for was the story he had to tell me.

 

“So, I got a call from a buddy of mine that responded to a call at a club downtown.” Okay…where was he going with this? “Seems a patron got a little carried away and the owner had to step in.” I poured myself a cup of coffee and then joined him at the table. “Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, something that happens all the time.”

 

“But…?” I coached.

 

“Edward called me, Bella.” I lowered my head. Half of me had hoped that last night was just a dream. “I know that what you saw spooked you.” I didn’t respond. “But you need to know the whole story before you go being afraid of Edward. Have you ever heard the name Garrett Monroe?”

 

The name alone caused a chill to travel up my spine. Garrett Monroe was a man that had been convicted of murder and was sitting on death row, or he had been up until about a week ago when he had escaped by faking an illness. Garrett had abducted thirteen women, most from nightclubs, and he had strangled them to death after raping them. He would then remove different parts of their body as souvenirs, mostly ring fingers, but he was particularly fond of brown eyes.

 

“Yes, he’s that killer that escaped last week, right?”

 

“Yes, he’s also the man that Edward killed last night.”

 

I watched as my coffee cup left my fingers and crashed onto the tabletop. “Oh, god…”

 

My father quickly got a dishtowel and began to clean up the broken china and spilled coffee.

 

“Edward said he was upstairs watching you have fun with the girls and decided to let you alone. He was just about to turn away from watching you when he saw Monroe move in and recognized him from his mug shot. Edward said that animal was already trying to leave with you in his arms and was about two seconds from raping you on the dance floor with his hand, Bella, so promise me you won’t be angry with him for stopping that monster however he could. I know how you are.”

 

My dad was right; had I not been told who the guy was, I would be thinking the worst about Edward right now.

 

“I swear it, Dad.”

 

“Good, now why do you suppose Edward went to Ireland?”

 

A/N

 

Again, the lace story is just some creative freedom I’m exercising. I have no points of reference for it. Thank you to my beta, Dollybigmomma, once again. And to all of you who read and review, I’m constantly amazed and humbled…

 

Also, Shamrocks has its very own face book page. Its listed by its title. We have pictures of the characters as well as some teasers. Stop by and take a look, 18 and over please.

 

  1. Chapter 14

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 14

 

Me: Holy shit!

 

Edward: (chuckles)

 

Me: No really…you slammed the guy’s face into the table, blood, and teeth flying everywhere. Again, holy shit!

 

Edward: He touched something he should’ve left alone.

 

Me: (gasp)

 

Edward: What?

 

Me: The way you said that, it just gave me a chill.

 

Edward: I’d watched her all night. From the time she got out of the limo, I watched her. Jasper, Books, and Muscles, we all stood in a line at the window and watched as they danced. I’ve watched hundreds of girls dance over the years, some for money, others for fun, but this was different. Her smile made me want to go down there and kiss her perfect lips, but I didn’t. I wanted her to have fun with her girls. I wanted them all to have nothing to worry about, everything to be perfect. I wanted this to be a special night.

 

Me: It was, up to a point.

 

Edward: No, he ruined it. I saw him looking at her, and at first, I thought he was one of the hundreds in the room that were. Then I gave him a closer look and it hit me who he was. I noticed Jacob was tearing across the floor and I shoved Muscles out of my way to get to her. I don’t remember getting down the stairs; I only remember the feeling that he hurt my Bella, my perfect Bella, and for that alone he was going to pay. He was dead after the third hit to the table, but I didn’t give a shit. I just kept going and going. I wanted to send him to hell where he belonged.

 

Me: What about Angela and the rest of the bridal party?

 

Edward: They were all so trashed at that point from the body shots that they thought it was just a regular fight. Books came in and took Smiles home and made sure the other girls made it home as well. I even think a couple of my guys got laid by two of her bridesmaids.

 

Me: Why didn’t you check on her after the cops came?

 

Edward: It was after midnight and I couldn’t. The ritual had started.

 

Me: The ritual?

 

Edward: Read the chapter, love.

 

Me: Well, alright, you heard the man…read the chapter.

 

I didn’t like the way my dad asked that question, “Why is Edward in Ireland?” I instantly felt something was off, like he knew something and was just seeing if I knew it as well. I didn’t have time to question him further, though, as the doorbell rang, followed by hard pounding.

 

Dad was quicker in reaching the door and honestly, I was grateful. Once he looked through the peephole, he grinned as he unlocked the door.

 

“And it begins…” he said with a chuckle.

 

The door flew open and in marched a very excited Esme, Rose, and Alice.

 

“Oh, my god, Isabella! Are you alright?”

 

“Thank god my brother was there…”

 

“He has good form, doesn’t he?”

 

All three were talking at once and I could do nothing but let them get out what they had to say.

 

Once they ran out of breath or shit to say, we all settled into my living room. Dad brought out a tray of coffee and then left for his own house.

 

“Okay, so I’m going to just get this out of the way and deal with the elephant in the corner.” Rose was always a “to the point” kind of girl. “Last night was the first time you saw his dark side…you okay?”

 

I pondered her question for a moment. “Honestly, when I first noticed the guy, I tried to warn him. I knew Jacob was close and I knew he would’ve pummeled the guy right there in front of us all, but I didn’t want to ruin Angela’s night so I tried to just get him to go away peacefully. I had no idea Edward was even in the room…”

 

My thoughts began to drift back to the music that was playing and the way everyone was laughing.

 

“Honestly, when I got in the car, I was on overload. I didn’t know what to think, nor did I really want to.” I tucked my legs under myself and took a large sip of my coffee. “I’ve never seen anyone as angry as Edward was last night. I’ve never witnessed that kind of rage. It was like he was a different person.”

 

The girls didn’t interrupt as I continued.

 

“When I woke up this morning, I was fully ready to end my relationship with him; seeing him lose control like that terrified me and I began to realize that he had an entire side I have no desire to know. But when my dad told me the guy’s name…”

 

I began to feel strange, like I was becoming a new person, a better person.

 

“Is it sadistic of me to be thankful that Edward was there and that he did what he did, and that I was able to walk away? What kind of person does that make me? What kind of person is it that’s so fucking happy that her boyfriend was willing to step in and beat the life out of someone? What kind of person am I that I’m so grateful that all I want to do is get dressed up in my naughtiest outfit and march over to his condo and thank him in ways that are illegal in seven states?”

 

Esme smiled warmly at me. “Bella, listen, you have every right to feel the way you do about Garrett being dead and you being alive, that’s human nature. I’m just glad to hear you want to continue a relationship with my son.”

 

I smiled as Esme crossed the room and wrapped me in her arms; this was what having a mother felt like…

 

“I’m worried about Edward, though. I thought for sure he would’ve come by the house when he found out I didn’t go to his condo. He hasn’t even called.”

 

Esme took my hands in hers. Her hands were so warm and soft, like the feel of a warm blanket on a cold day. It was then I noticed a slight bruising that had formed on her swollen right knuckles. I worried that she had gotten involved last night; surely Edward’s men would have protected her.

 

“Lass, he couldn’t. That’s why he called your father. By the time the police left, he had to catch his plane.”

 

I looked to her hand and then back to her face. “Esme, what happened to your hand?”

 

Alice began to giggle and Rose bumped shoulders with Esme.

 

“I had to remind a certain future in-law that tradition cannot be messed with.”

 

I gave her a curious look before Alice interrupted. “You should’ve seen it, Bella. Eileen was trying to say she sent the lace to the cleaners. The cleaners! Like you’d send a piece of priceless material to the same place you send your everyday dry-cleaning. Lucky for me, Ma knows a lot of people in this town. Eileen didn’t even get a chance to spend the cash before they called my Ma with the lace.”

 

My eyes went wide; Eileen had tried to sell the lace?

 

“Please say you’re joking. She sold the family lace?”

 

“She tried, and for so little money,” Esme shook her head in disgust.

 

“Can you believe this, Bella? For a lousy seventy-five hundred bucks, she tried to ruin the tradition.” Alice was now the one to eye roll.

 

“Yes, but our Ma took care of that. Eileen won’t soon be forgetting what’s important in this family,” Rose piped up from the corner.

 

I then looked to Esme. She had the biggest look of pride on her face. She had protected the family and the rich traditions it held. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Esme had hit Eileen. My curiosity was in what Eileen looked like.

 

“So, back to Edward, should I expect a call later today?”

 

Esme’s face turned to mischief. “No, lass, it’ll be a while before you hear anything from him. His business is in a very remote area and he won’t have access to any form of communication.”

 

I was certain I didn’t want to know anything. I would just say a prayer every night for his safe return.

 

“Enough about my stupid brother; let’s get you dressed and hit some stores.”

 

“Alice, some of us have work to do, like a little wedding that’s happening in a week,” I gave her the bitch brow.

 

“Oh no, Bella, you owe me. You managed to get out of going shopping that day in Edward’s condo, you’re so going now.”

 

I then turned my attention back to Alice. I remembered that day a little differently. I remembered having my very sexy boyfriend all hot and ready, only to be interrupted by this evil sprite.

 

“Oh no, dear Alice, as I remember it, you owe me. I was about to get laid by your very sex brother before you so rudely, and I emphasize RUDELY, interrupted us.” I then remembered that his mother was still very much in the room as I quickly added, “Sorry, Esme.”

 

Everyone giggled as Esme began, “Did something happen, Alice?”

 

Alice tossed her head back and huffed. “Oh, good god, I went over to Edward’s condo and these two were about to do the nasty,” she told as she pointed at me and smirked evilly, “I was the proverbial bucket of ice water.”

 

Esme tried to hold back her laughter. “Oh, Bella, you should make him wait until your wedding night, anyway. It’d serve him right.”

 

Alice was quick to jump up and began to raise her voice, “Really, Ma? Well, let’s see, you married Dad in November and Edward was born the following June. If you do the math, it’s obvious you so didn’t wait till your wedding night and neither will Edward.”

 

Esme held her head up, but a hint of blush tinged her cheeks. “That’s neither here nor there. The fact is, Edward could use a good humbling and who better to do it than Bella? Besides, it’ll set a good precedent as to who’s really in charge. What do you say, Bella?”

 

I couldn’t help but giggle, and blush given this conversation was with his mother of all people. “I’ll think about it,” was all I would commit to.

 

That seemed to be good enough for Esme. “Fair enough, lass. So, now that we have that all settled, we have another important matter to discuss. Edward’s birthday is coming up.”

 

It seemed that Edward’s birthday was the weekend before Angela’s wedding, a detail he had neglected to tell me about. Edward preferred to have just the family present to celebrate. Small quiet dinners were all he had ever allowed.

 

I had to give Esme credit; she was at least telling me this was a family affair so I didn’t get upset when I wasn’t formally invited.

 

“Um, alright, then I’ll given him my gift either the day before or the day after, depending on when he returns from his trip.”

 

Esme then looked at me with a questioning expression, “Why would you do that?”

 

“Because, you said it’s just family.”

 

Laughter again erupted; well, they laughed, I just looked confused.

 

“Oh, Bella, I absolutely love your humor. You had me going there for a while,” Esme chuckled as she took another sip of her coffee.

 

Guess I was considered family…

 

All week long, the news was bombarded with the story of Garrett Monroe’s death and subsequent absence from the streets as a wanted and much-feared serial rapist. The person responsible for getting him off the street was considered something of a hero in the media. Edward’s name was never mentioned, but the reports stated that the person donated the sizable amount of reward money that had been offered to a battered women’s shelter and I couldn’t help but smile.

 

I expected to hear from Edward at some point during his trip, but it was the fourth day he had been gone and I began to worry a little. I remembered how my dad had seemed to know a little more than he let on so I called him.

 

“Hey, Dad.”

 

“Hey, Bella, missing Edward?” he chuckled.

 

“Alright, Dad, cut the shit and tell me what you know.”

 

He laughed even harder. “Well, it’d seem the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, you’re just as questioning as I am. You should become a detective like your old dad.”

 

“Whatever, Dad, what do you know, why haven’t I heard from him?”

 

“Sorry, sweetheart, the only thing I can tell you is that he’s in Ireland and he should be back in a few days.”

 

“I don’t like the way you say should, what aren’t you tell me?”

 

“Oh, I’m not telling you plenty, you’ll have to wait and hear it from Edward.”

 

Men…useless creatures…ugh!

 

More days passed and still no word from Edward. Thankfully, I had my sister’s wedding to help plan, as well as Alice’s. I had bigger worries on my mind, though; what to get Edward for his birthday? What did you get the man who owned nearly the entire town? He could buy anything he wanted…then it hit me, the one thing he couldn’t buy. I giggled as I began to put my idea into action.

 

Dinner was to be at Carlisle and Esme’s; family only, a very small affair. Most people would think that was maybe ten to fifteen people, but most people would be wrong. Edward was Irish after all.

 

There had to be at least sixty people sitting around three huge tables that were arranged in a horseshoe design. Everyone had a drink in their hand and was laughing and enjoying themselves. I scanned the room, but I didn’t find the guest of honor.

 

“He isn’t here,” a voice sounded in my ear.

 

I turned to my left and found Carlisle standing with a martini glass in one hand and a beer in the other.

 

I chuckled as I questioned, “Are we double-fisting it tonight?”

 

He laughed and then handed me the martini glass. “Edward said this was your favorite and I swore I’d make certain you had one the minute you got here.”

 

I took a drink and then smiled at him, “Thank you.”

 

“Absolutely, let me introduce you to a few people.”

 

“A few? Carlisle, we have got to work on your definitions.”

 

I met so many uncles, aunts, and first and second cousins that I was certain I would never remember everyone’s name. Everyone, and I meant everyone, already knew everything about me.

 

I was well into my third martini when I had just about decided he wasn’t going to show. Something had to have happened in Ireland. Maybe his plane had been delayed, or he had decided to celebrate in Ireland.

 

As I began to take the final sip of my martini before telling everyone goodnight, the front door opened and in walked a very gruff-looking Edward.

 

Every time I had ever seen Edward, he had always been well-groomed and dressed impeccably, always in tailor-made clothing. His hair now looked as if he hadn’t washed it all week, and his jeans were torn in several places. I finally noticed how quiet the room became as Edward got closer to me. I found it odd that none of the men were greeting him. I took a look around the room to find that everyone had formed a circle around us.

 

“E-Edward?” My voice shaky, I again turned to look around the room.

 

“Mo ghra.” (My love.)

 

“What’s going on; is everything okay?”

 

I was getting nervous. I hadn’t seen him in a while and honestly, his current appearance was unsettling.

 

“Na biodh eagla ort, le do thoil, beidh me ag insint duit goch rud” (Don’t be afraid, please, I will tell you everything.)

 

His voice was so calming and I watched as he motioned for me to come closer to him.

 

“Isabella, do you remember the story I told you about the promise my great-grandfather made to my great-grandmother?”

 

I could only nod my head as I turned to once again scan the room. It was then I noticed my sister and my father standing beside Carlisle and Esme. My father’s arms were crossed and he had the look of pure joy across his face.

 

“Sweetheart, in my family, the men continue that tradition when they decide to marry. We go through a rite of passage if we want to prove to our elders that we’re indeed ready for that step.”

 

I couldn’t speak. Here stood the man I had tried so hard to push away, telling myself and everyone who would listen that I could never be what he needed, and here he was telling me he had been proving to his family that he was good enough for me.

 

“I’ve spent the past week in the hills surrounding the very village where they grew up and fell in love. I cannot tell you what I’ve had to endure, as that’s a secret I’ll pass on to our sons.”

 

I noticed my father chuckle at Edwards’s words and Esme kissed Carlisle’s cheek.

 

“That first night I saw you, I watched you move about the room and I couldn’t take my eyes off you. You had me spellbound from that moment on. You had such confidence and I just knew my father had been right when he said you were perfect.”

 

My eyes then shot directly at Carlisle; he simply smiled and then shrugged his shoulders.

 

“Then you confirmed my opinion when you showed up in my office and stood your ground.” I blushed at the memory, not one of my better decisions. “But in the end, even knowing who and what I am, you gave me a chance and you let me show you who I could be. And even after you agreed to wear my bracelet, you showed grace and courage, and you even called me out when I was acting like an idiot.”

 

I watched as Edward reached into his jeans pocket and removed a piece of lace cloth. As he unwrapped it, I noticed an applique of vines and letters. It was too small for me to make out from where I stood. He then held what looked like a green string.

 

“I told you he gave her a shamrock when he left her and came to America.” He placed the lace on the table beside him. “I have a shamrock from the very same hill where he stood and promised to return to her.”

 

I watched his fingers shake as he came closer to where I stood. His eyes locked with mine as he slowly lowered himself to one knee.

 

“Isabella Marie Swan, I’ve loved you from the first moment I laid eyes on you. You’ve made me want to be a better and stronger man, and I swear to you that if you’ll grant me this one wish, on my birthday, I’ll die a happy man. A bheidh tu posadh liom?” (Will you marry me?)

 

I could hear myself gasp as I looked into his deep green eyes. I looked to his outstretched hand that held the tiny shamrock.

 

“Yes,” I heard myself answer as I felt the tears run down my face.

 

Edward began to tie the end of the shamrock around my ring finger as the room was again loud with laughter and applause.

 

I was quickly surrounded by the women of the room and engulfed in tight hugs. Edward was quick to interrupt as he placed his dirty hand on my face and looked longingly into my eyes. He slowly leaned into me and placed a soft kiss to my lips.

 

“Bella, as I was sitting in the middle of the shamrocks on the hill, I was asking myself over and over if I was really the one good enough for you. Then I looked down and I saw this. I think it was a sign.”

 

His left hand was open flat and in the center of his palm was a very old, very distressed three-pence piece. I could barely make out the jack rabbit that sat in the center. I remembered seeing coins like this at my grandmother’s house.

 

“I read somewhere that Irish brides carried a penny in their shoe on their wedding day. Since you’ve already said yes, I’d love for you to wear this as you walk down the aisle.”

 

Tears were flowing down my face. Edward was my home and my heart, my every wish come true.

 

“Edward, of all the things you’ve given me, this is the one I’ll treasure the most. This is priceless.”

 

He gently kissed my forehead, “I’d hoped you would.”

 

I raised my face to meet his, our eyes locked as well as our hearts, “As will our daughters.”

 

We both smiled at that.

 

“I’m now going to shower for the first time in a week and then I’ll come back and put your real engagement ring on your finger.”

 

I didn’t have time to say anything as he dashed out of the room.

 

“Here, Bella, this is to keep that shamrock in.”

 

Esme then passed me the piece of lace that Edward had placed on the table. I took a closer look and found it was a beautiful handkerchief. The green vines I had seen were dainty little shamrocks that surrounded the initial “C” embroidered into the lace.

 

“Her name was Christie. The villagers told her he would never return,” Esme spoke into my ear. “She worked as a lace maker and when he gave her the shamrock, she made this to keep it in. It’s now for you to keep and pass on to your sons.”

 

I looked at the vine that was now wrapped around my ring finger. I could only imagine what it was like for her to wait for a man to make good on his promise while you heard negativity from all those around you.

 

“I wish it wouldn’t wilt, I’d rather have this than all the diamonds in the world.”

 

“Shush now, or he’ll have a grove of these made so that he can get a fresh one daily. You hang on to it as I have mine. But, lass, take the diamond he chose for you.”

 

I laughed along with her as she placed the lace in my hand. I would treasure it forever, and if I was lucky enough to be blessed with sons, I would carry on the tradition.

 

Quicker than I thought possible, Edward was back and tugging me away from his aunts.

 

“Are they trying to discourage you as their ancestors did for my great-grandmother?”

 

I sighed as I slid into his arms. I missed him so much and the feel and smell of my Edward just made everything better.

 

“Nothing they could say could change how I feel about you.”

 

“Well, I’m glad to hear that since I have this insanely beautiful ring I want to get on your finger.”

 

I didn’t want to move from the safety I found in his arms. I wanted to feel the warmth that radiated from him and bathe in the smell that was now a clean Edward.

 

Far sooner than I was comfortable, Edward released me from his chest and took my hand and carefully removed the shamrock he had so carefully tied around my finger earlier. I would never forget this day. I refused to have one detail removed from my memory.

 

As he placed the platinum band on my finger, I gasped at the sight of it. Edward was correct; it was insanely beautiful. Three bands, all connected, with diamonds surrounding each one. The center diamond sat on four silver prongs that hovered over the three diamond-covered bands.

 

I watched as Edward then placed a single kiss to the ring.

 

“Happy birthday, Edward,” I spoke only loud enough for him to hear.

 

“Best birthday ever,” he responded.

 

“Really, and I haven’t even given you your gift yet,” I responded with a wink.

 

“Oh, really, saying yes was enough, I assure you.”

 

“I wouldn’t be so sure if I was you, Mr. Cullen,” I spoke as I moved in closer, pulling his tie so that his body leaned closer to mine.

 

“I like how you think…Mrs. Cullen,” he spoke as he placed tender kisses along my cheek.

 

Not going to lie…I liked the new name.

 

A/N

 

Thank you for all the reviews and for everyone who has joined me over at facebook. You will find the photos for this chapter posted.

 

Most of all thank you to my beta who didn’t yell at me when I gave her nearly five hundred new words on this chapter after she had approved it.

 

Next chapter is due out on Wednesday. Our couple seems to be headed in the right direction and lets all hope that continues.

 

  1. Chapter 15

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 15

 

Me: Oh, my god!

 

Edward: (Smiles)

 

Me: You have to tell us about this ritual, I refuse to let you remain silent on this.

 

Edward: Remember when I told you of the way my great-grandfather had promised my great-grandmother he would return for her?

 

Me: Yes, when he went to America, the villagers told her he would forget about her and marry an American.

 

Edward: Yes, well, when my great-grandfather went to America, he had it very hard. Irish were not welcomed with open arms and many were treated cruelly. When my grandfather asked to get married, my great-grandfather told him he had to prove himself. So he set about with the men in the village back in Ireland to have a rite of passage if you will that he would have to go through.

 

Me: So that’s what you did, the rite of passage?

 

Edward: Yes.

 

Me: I know you can’t tell Bella what happened, but you can share with us, right?

 

Edward: Once I went to my father and told him I was ready to ask for her hand, he invited Charlie. We sat down and discussed terms.

 

Me: Wait, terms? What terms? She isn’t from a crime family…

 

Edward: Can you let me finish?

 

Me: Sorry…

 

Edward: Charlie is a simple man; he works hard and does the right thing. He kept his daughters away from much of the evil in the world, including their mother. When my father discussed combining the families, Charlie put his foot down and said he would only consent if one of them fell in love with me and me with one of them. He refused to help in any way. He purposely kept distance between the families. So when I asked for her hand, I made my own condition, which was that I would pay for the wedding. Charlie fought me hard on that one. I’m certain it was his pride talking, but I knew he would never be able to afford the size of wedding we would be having. After some heated negotiations, we had an agreement. My father made the arrangements with the villagers and the date was set. The whole Garret incident was only a minor glitch in the road. I didn’t get to swear to her I would return. Once I was placed on the plane, I was given my instructions. They took away my gun, my phone, and my wallet. I was given three American dollars and then blindfolded and tossed off the plane.

 

Me: Wait, I’m sorry, but each step has to mean something, am I right?

 

Edward: Yes, My great-grandfather had no phone, no papers, nothing. He was shoved off the boat and had to fend for himself. He had to sleep on the streets for a while and find odd jobs to feed himself. The same went for me. I was taken to a remote area and then told I had one week to find the hill the original shamrock came from. I slept on the cold ground and was able to do a few odd jobs to feed myself. I was tempted by many women and ruffed up a couple of times. In all, I walked over thirty miles to get to the hill and pick the shamrock for her.

 

Me: I realize you’re paraphrasing, but that’s quite a story to say the least.

 

Edward: Yes, I can’t tell you how glad I was to finally see the hill.

 

Me: So what was the worst part?

 

Edward: Not hearing her laughter. Not knowing if she was safe.

 

Me: (tear running down my face) You truly love her, don’t you?

 

Edward: You have no idea. But the story is just getting good; my welcome home is really something…

 

When I first thought of the perfect gift to give to Edward for his birthday, I never once thought it would include saying yes to the most perfect proposal.

 

I had something a little more personal in mind.

 

Remaining seated at that dinner table last night was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do in my life. I answered a million questions and hugged and kissed everyone at least twice. Finally, we were able to bid our goodbyes and headed to Edward’s condo.

 

“So, is my gift bigger than a bread box?”

 

Edward had been tossing out question after question as to what I had gotten him as a gift.

 

“No, it isn’t bigger than a bread box, technically.”

 

That was the last question I allowed him to have before I excused myself to the bathroom. I had a little something to put on I was sure Edward was going to enjoy.

 

As I turned out the lights in the bathroom, I slowly opened the door and peeked out to find Edward sitting against the headboard. His chest was bare and he was looking amazing in his black satin sleep pants, but they were going to be lying on the floor in about thirty seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I loved when he wore those things and walked around the house in them…just not right now.

 

He glanced up at me with his gorgeous green eyes and his chiseled jaw flexed, making me want to lick it.

 

I made my way into the light of the room, trying to be as sexy as possible. I watched his eyes as he looked at what I was wearing, the look of surprise spiking his brow as he took it all in. I watched as his pink tongue peeked out and licked his bottom lip…and then he burst out laughing.

 

“What…you think this is funny?”

 

“Oh, fuck, babe, come here,” he continued to laugh.

 

When I really got to thinking about what to get him, knowing he clearly had everything, I knew he couldn’t possibly have this.

 

“Where did you find that?”

 

“On line, do you like it?”

 

He continued to laugh as I got closer to the bed. “I’m going to love it more when it’s on the floor,” his voice was now husky and driving me crazy.

 

“Ugh, babe…you have to read it, out loud,” I said, curling my lip out. I was not certain who was having more fun with this, him or me.

 

“Oh, geezus, not the pouty lip,” he whined.

 

“Then read it to me,” my voice sounded even whinier.

 

“Fine. ‘Fook, yes, I’m Irish, wanna see me shillelagh?'”

 

“Why yes, Mr. Cullen, as a matter of fact, I do.”

 

“Then by all means, let me introduce the two of you.”

 

His lips were suddenly attached to my neck as he closed the distance between us. By now, Edward would be able to feel that I wasn’t wearing anything under this shirt.

 

“Is this a shirt you wish to keep?” he growled, his hot breath fanning across my face, the desperation saturating his voice.

 

“It’s actually the wrapping to your real gift,” I whispered, my voice hoarse with want.

 

“Good, I never save wrapping paper.”

 

I giggled as he quickly ripped the shirt down the front, pulling it off me and then tossing it across the room. I was suddenly on my back with Edward’s firm body pressed to mine, thus ending any additional giggles and allowing the moaning to begin.

 

He was setting me on fire with the feel of his hot skin under my fingertips, the hardness of his erection pressed against my hip, and the way his firm grip on my naked thigh as he hitched it around his hip, gaining a closer angle to my wet and wanting core, already had me panting.

 

“My god, you’re exquisite,” his gruff voice growled against my shoulder.

 

“Edward,” my voice came out barely a whisper as his thumb pushed between my folds. My lips found purchase on his neck, licking, sucking, and biting, marking him as mine. And after tonight, anyone who saw him would know.

 

His lips then found mine as his tongue was suddenly filling my mouth, capturing my own and claiming it for his pleasure. The taste of him was almost overwhelming and yet I could not get enough. He wanted me as much as I wanted him. Having him gone had only increased my desire for him. This was how it was destined to be.

 

His left hand had made it to my enlarged clit and he began to circle and tease it, then he flicked it with the tip of his thumb. I cried out and jerked as he continued to circle and then flick. Two of his fingers began to make slow and calculate massaging circles up and down my bare lower lips. My sudden climax was strong and nearly painful as my entire body lurched upward.

 

He moved his hand from my drenched folds and began to slowly trace his way up my body, stopping at my left nipple. With his hand firmly kneading my left breast, his mouth now sucked wildly at my right. I would be shocked if he didn’t leave a mark. However, as I neared my next orgasm, I couldn’t have given a shit less.

 

I could not move or speak. I could only feel; feel the moisture between my lower lips double as his efforts increased.

 

He switched breasts and began to attack the other nipple. Edward knew exactly what he was doing. He knew what I needed without me asking, which was a good thing since I didn’t have the ability to speak as my third orgasm ripped through my body. How many men could say they could give a girl an orgasm just from sucking on her nipples? Yes, my man was good.

 

“Oh, god, Edward…”

 

I felt his lips form a smile as he left my breasts and traveled slowly to my stomach, taking slow and deliberate nips at my lower pelvis. He raised his head slightly as he kissed just below my belly button, pausing to look at my stomach reverently.

 

“This is sacred, Bella. Someday it’ll hold our babies as they grow.”

 

“You seem very sure of yourself.”

 

“I’m going to give you children, Bella, that’s a promise I intend to keep.”

 

He didn’t let me respond as he tossed my legs around his neck and delved tongue first into me. My back arched off the bed as he probed even further inside of me, his tongue wiggling around maddeningly as he searched for that mythical spot all women were rumored to have.

 

My reaction to his tongue was enough for him as he added two fingers and with his free hand, he began to tease my clit. The added pressure of his fingers caused my next orgasm to hit like a tidal wave.

 

“Motherfucking…!” I couldn’t finish as the next orgasm hit me just as hard. I was panting and sweating, swearing like a sailor, and I didn’t give a flying fuck as Edward continued to lick, probe, and suck me into oblivion.

 

His actions slowed as my legs began to quiver hard. With a final kiss to my clit, he made his way back up to my face. His eyes locked with mine as he hovered over me, his flattened tongue slowly licking my peaked nipple. He quickly kissed each peak as he continued up to kiss my mouth. I had no idea when he had grabbed a condom, maybe he had expected things would lead to where we currently were. The gold foil paper glistened in the light from the table lamp.

 

“Didn’t think I’d forget, did you?” his voice a mixture of lust and amusement.

 

I picked up the condom and smiled seductively. “Allow me.”

 

I pushed on his shoulder, encouraging him to lay back. I crawled in between his legs as I grasped his very erect cock in my hand. Turnabout was fair play after all. With a wink and a smile, I ran my tongue from his base to his tip, circling the head and then plunging him deep into my throat.

 

“Sweet motherfucking…oh, god!” he shouted as I increased the pressure of my suction. I smiled around his cock as I continued to bob up and down, swirling my tongue as I went. Suddenly, his hand reached down and pulled my arm, and thus my body, back up.

 

“Babe, as fucking good as that feels I want to be buried inside you for this.”

 

I quickly applied the condom and placed a firm kiss to the latex-covered tip. Placing my hands on his manly shoulders, I slowly lowered myself onto his cock.

 

All the times before Edward were faint memories as I began to grind myself up and down on his shaft. This was his birthday and I wanted him to enjoy this. I let go of his shoulders and placed my hands on my breasts. Men were visual creatures and I wanted him to get an eyeful. While my right hand massaged and pinched at my breasts, my left traveled down to my clit and I began to rub it with slow calculated circles.

 

Edward’s hands firmly gripped my hips and I knew he was enjoying watching me when he began to actually lift me off his cock and slam me back down, his pace speeding up. I watched as his face contorted and I worried that something was wrong. However, my fear left as quickly as it came as he shouted, “OH. MY. MOTHERFUCKING. GOD!” each word accentuated with a hard thrust in between before he came explosively, jerking uncontrollably beneath me before going limp and collapsing into the mattress. “So that’s what heaven feels like.”

 

I stayed atop him as he continued to twitch inside of me. I slowly kissed his forehead, loving the salty taste of him. I couldn’t help myself and giggled as he began to lick a bead of sweat that was falling between my breasts.

 

“I love you,” I smiled down at him. And I really did.

 

We were lying in each other’s arms a while later when a question came to mind. “Edward?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“I need to ask you a question and I really want an answer.”

 

“Yes, baby, I’d be happy to go again.”

 

I turned my face to look at him, “Later, this is important.” I raised up to face him; I really wanted an answer to my question. “Why in the world did you call me Legs?

 

He chuckled as he kissed my chin, “Truthfully?”

 

“No, fucker, lie to me. Of course I want the truth.”

 

“The night of the wedding, you were standing talking to Charlotte and I watched you scratch an itch you had on your ankle. I followed that ankle to your knee and then to the hem of your skirt. You have the most beautiful set of legs I’ve ever seen,” he smiled, his face so loving I could easily get lost in his eyes.

 

“That’s seriously sweet,” I kissed his chest. He began to chuckle. “And it’s complete bullshit, isn’t it?”

 

He was laughing now. “Fuck yes; I called you Legs because I wanted to know what was between them.”

 

Before I could get angry with him, he flipped me on my back and dove back in tongue first between my legs. Well, now he had his answer. The man had a very talented tongue and I would gladly stand on the highest mountain and shout to the word that I was one lucky bitch.

 

Edward and I stayed in bed the entire weekend. He preferred to take me in his bed, but that was not to say he hadn’t pinned me against the wall by the elevator yesterday after dinner was delivered, too. I smiled at the memory of him waking me very early in the morning on Saturday by sucking on my nipple. As he slowly turned me onto my back, he reached for the condom that was conveniently lying on his pillow. I smiled as I shook my head and took the condom from him, tossing it across the room.

 

“No more condoms,” I whispered to him.

 

The look of confusion on his face was nearly comical. However, that lasted long enough for him to quickly bury himself to his hips inside me. I had forgotten how much a condom restricted and confined and I wasn’t prepared for the sheer true-to-life size of Edward. I almost felt like a virgin all over again.

 

As I crawled into my car on Monday morning, I winced as I felt the muscles in my thighs and nether regions protesting. It had definitely been a good weekend.

 

My sister would be dropping Abby off so she could go and have honeymoon preparations done. I had embarrassed her to death last week when I asked Ben if he preferred bare, triangle, or landing strip. He had looked at me confused as he thought about my question. Finally, the light bulb went off in his head and he requested bare.

 

“Auntie Bella, look at what my daddy gave me!”

 

I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t hear the door open. Abby was running full steam around my desk and her eyes were big and bright with joy. Once she was standing directly beside me, she quickly showed me the beautiful shamrock necklace Ben had given her.

 

“Isn’t it pretty?” her voice raised three octaves as she bounced in place. I could not describe the feeling I got when I heard Abby refer to Ben as her daddy. But that was exactly what he was. That little girl had him so tightly wrapped around her whole hand, forget the little finger. She had taken total possession of his heart. “He says it’s for good luck.”

 

I smiled as I kissed her pink cheek. “It’s very pretty, baby.”

 

“And look what Uncle Edward gave me.”

 

This took me aback. Edward had given her something and he hadn’t told me this. However, there on her tiny wrist was a miniature diamond bracelet that matched mine and Angela’s.

 

“Uncle Edward said I was his perfect princess and that all princesses deserved to have diamonds.”

 

Uncle Edward would certainly be hearing from Auntie Bella later.

 

“I think it’s even prettier than mine, Abby.”

 

She could only giggle as she began to dance around the room.

 

Angela and Tanya walked into my office together, laughing and whispering at something. Angela took one look at me and then her eyes went wide.

 

“Holy…S-H-I-T!” she pointed her index finger at me. With little ears around, Angela and I had become very good at spelling out the bad words. It was comical when Abby would try it and just spout out random letters.

 

“Tanya, that’s the face of a woman who’s been well f-u-c-k-e-d, and by a man who clearly knows how.”

 

I was certain my face was crimson and I could only grin. “I’m certain I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

 

“Oh, don’t play coy, Bella, if Ben had given me a rock like yours, I’d still be riding him.”

 

“Why would you ride Daddy, Mommy?”

 

Angela had also become quick on the uptake, “Because he likes to play horsey with Mommy.”

 

“Oh,” her little brows wrinkled in the middle. “Is his horsey named Oh God, Mommy?”

 

Poor Tanya was doing everything she could to keep from busting out laughing. Angela was quick to keep a straight face as she responded, “He has a couple of names for his horsey, Sunshine, but they’re a secret so let’s not tell Daddy we know about his pretend horsey, okay?”

 

Abby shrugged her shoulders and went back to dancing around the room.

 

“Good morning, ladies!” Alice shouted as she walked into the room.

 

“Good morning, Alice, how are you?” I smiled and rose to hug her.

 

“I hear a certain man is smiling from ear to ear this morning.”

 

“He’s not the only one,” Angela quipped with a smirk.

 

“I’m sorry, but I have to go over the flower order for the wedding this weekend and I also have to meet with the Birches today to finalize the cake selections for their wedding,” Tanya added as she turned to leave.

 

“Alright, Tanya, I’ll be out of the office for a little while so call me on my cell if you need me,” I instructed her.

 

“No problem, Bella, I’ll be here,” Tanya replied as she exited the room, winking at Angela as she left.

 

“Auntie Bella, what are we going to do today?”

 

“Well, what do you want to do today?”

 

“Wait,” Alice interjected. I looked toward her quick-moving form as she made her way to Abby, “How about you and I go have our nails done so Auntie Bella can get some work done?”

 

Thank god for Alice, Angela’s wedding was in six days and I still had several things to do.

 

Abby was so easily pleased as she ran around the room shouting, “Yeah!”

 

Two hours later, I had finished my remaining tasks for Angela’s wedding. Alice had texted me that she, Abby, and Esme were headed to lunch and then doing some shopping.

 

I had half a mind to see if Edward was busy.

 

With my phone in hand, I was almost ready to hit send when I heard it, a thump coming from the room behind my office. I listened closely to see if I had been imaging it when I heard it twice more. I slowly began to make my way to the storage room to investigate.

 

The door was wide open and the overhead light was brightly illuminating two figures against the wall. I was so shocked at what I was seeing that I stood cemented in my tracks. The blonde-haired woman was shoved against the wall as the darker-haired man kissed her passionately. His hands cupped her face as he consumed her mouth with his. My hand went to my mouth to prevent any sounds of surprise from alarming the couple.

 

“Shuu, caithfidh tu’ a behith ciucin.” (Shush, you have to be quiet.)

 

“Oh, my god,” the girl’s quivering voice responded.

 

“Mo ghra’, fhois agat do mo challin cert?” (My love, you know you’re my girl, right?)

 

“I think you just called me your girl, is that right?” the blonde was now looking into his eyes as he continued to cup her face.

 

“Caith me’ dul, ta’ me’ garde Ms. Bella. Ba mhaith liom tu’ roinnr a’it speisialta.” (I have to go now, I’m guarding Ms. Bella. I want to take you somewhere special.)

 

“I have no idea what you just said, but my answer is yes, it’ll always be yes.”

 

I watched as Tanya reached up and gently kissed Shamus on the lips again, their hands falling as she moved to exit the room. I quickly and quietly went back to my desk. Tanya came in a half second behind me, startled as she came into my office, surprised I was still here.

 

“Oh god,” her eyes were huge as she realized the possibility that I had overheard what had just happened. “I…I…”

 

I could only smile at her. Shamus was a very handsome man. Even though he was no Edward, he was easy on the eyes nonetheless.

 

“Sit, Tanya, we need to chat.” Her face fell as she quietly took the chair that faced my desk, her fingers playing with an imaginary string on her skirt. “Tanya, you mind telling me what that was all about?”

 

She continued to stare at her lap as if it held the answers to the mysteries of the universe. She slowly took in a deep breath as she began to lift her eyes to mine.

 

“Well, see…” she crossed her legs and looked everywhere except my face. She was nervous, I fully expected this, but it was unwarranted. “Bella, he’s so wonderful, and at first, he was just trying to teach me Gaelic.”

 

I looked at her bewildered, “Why?”

 

“Why what?”

 

“Why was he teaching you Gaelic? He barely speaks English.”

 

“Because, I fell in love with him and I wanted to be able to tell him that.” I smiled as she continued. “See, he’s always been nice to me, even when I was the old Harley. He never tried anything with me, like some of the other guys. He gave me a flower one night for no reason, just being sweet. He even rejected me when I tried to suck him off for doing it.”

 

I remained silent as she continued.

 

“I don’t know when it happened, but it did and I’ve been taking lessons from him for a while. He’s never pressured me for anything and he treats me like…”

 

I watched as a single tear ran down her cheek. “Like what, Tanya?”

 

“Like a real lady,” her words were slightly above a whisper as tears continued to roll down her face. I smiled as her words lingered in the room, her sniffles the only noise to remain.

 

My voice was soft as I began to question, “Isn’t that what you wanted, Tanya?” She nodded her head gently, her face still bowed. “Then what’s the problem, why are you crying?”

 

“Because it’s probably going to get him in trouble with Mr. Cullen and me fired from my first real job.”

 

“Why, Tanya? Has Edward ever said you couldn’t date his men?” She only shook her head no. “Have I ever said you couldn’t date on your own personal time?” She again shook her head no. “Then I fail to see the problem, my dear.”

 

Her head quickly snapped up in my direction. “Do you mean that, Bella? Can I still see him?”

 

I laughed as I nodded my head, “Of course, he’s a wonderful man. You have my blessing, and my encouragement.”

 

“Oh, my god, I was so scared this was all a huge dream and I was going to wake up and still be the disgusting whore I was before.”

 

It was my turn to shed a tear as her words hit my heart.

 

“You won’t regret this, Bella, I promise. I’ll be professional when I’m at work, I swear. You’ll be so proud of me.”

 

I smiled as I stood and rounded my desk, taking her into a hug. “I already am, Tanya, I already am.”

 

We stood for a few moments just embracing each other. She was a new person, a happy person, and everyone deserved a second chance. Tanya had taken that and ran with it. She was finally a true lady. She finally let me go and then said she had a million things to do. I smiled and waved her off.

 

“Oh, Tanya, one last thing before you leave.”

 

She quickly turned back to me, her face covered in a smile. “Yes, Bella?”

 

“He said you were his girl and that he wanted to take you someplace nice. I think you should call him and tell him, ‘Dinne’ar ag se’, i dont mo a’bheith de’anach.”

 

She looked at me confused, “What’s that…”

 

“Dinner at my house, six o’clock, and don’t be late.”

 

She repeated what I told her and dashed off to her office.

 

Alice and Esme met Angela and I with Abby at a restaurant a few blocks from Edward’s condo. Ben stopped by and took Angela and Abby home, as Alice and I were talking about her wedding. Esme was busy talking on her phone to someone back in Ireland, and by the tone of the conversation, it sounded like it was related to the lace incident.

 

By the time I got home, it was after eleven. I showered and then crawled into bed. Edward had called me earlier and said he couldn’t join us for dinner, but would see me in the morning.

 

As I lay in my bed, tossing and turning, my mind went back to the weekend I had spent in Edward’s bed. It was more than just the amazing sex; it was just being with him. After an hour of this, I flung the covers back, packed a bag, and headed to Edward’s condo.

 

All the lights were off when I got there. The rational side of me knew I should have called him first, he was a mob boss after all and he had guns all over the condo. But I didn’t.

 

I made my way back to his bedroom where I found a sleeping Edward flat on his back. The covers rested low on his hips, leaving me a clear view of his bare chest. I quickly stripped all of my clothes off and slid into bed with him.

 

“Not that I mind this, but what brought this on?” His voice was pure sex and comfort rolled into one.

 

“I just needed to be near you,” I spoke into his chest as his fingers combed through my hair.

 

“You don’t need an excuse, you should just move all of your things over here and stay here every night.”

 

I closed my eyes and contemplated how I would say this without pissing him off. “I don’t want to live here, Edward, I want a real home.”

 

We lay in silence, my words hanging heavy over us.

 

“You’re right, this isn’t a home. Once Angela’s wedding is over, I want to start looking at homes; one that we can agree on, one that I can carry you across the threshold of and bring our babies home to from the hospital.”

 

I smiled as his words resonated. He understood; this condo was his office, not a place to build our lives.

 

“Another thing, I want you to stop taking your birth control once we’re married. I want babies with you, Bella, and I want to start trying before the ink is dry on the marriage license.”

 

I smiled into his chest again, quickly placing a kiss to his chest above his heart. “I can’t wait to see how protective you are with our daughters.”

 

Edward took in a deep breath, “We’re only having sons, twelve of them.”

 

I didn’t acknowledge his statement. I quickly filled him in on Tanya and Shamus. I made certain to voice how happy I was with the couple and I hoped he would be, too. No more was spoken as I drifted off to sleep. My world was perfect and although I had fought against being with Edward, I was glad I had lost. I was about to begin living the life I could have only dreamed of and I just knew everything was going to be perfect from now on.

 

Oh, how wrong I would be…

 

A/N

 

My biggest thank you goes to my beta, who turned this hot mess into something I am so proud of. Thank you to all of you who has encouraged and reviewed, both negative and positive. When I started this, I never thought it would be enjoyed as much as it has. We are nearing 2000 reviews and if that happens, I am sure everyone will hear me faint.

 

Don’t forget the facebook page that has teasers for every chapter as well as photos… Thank you, Gemma.

 

  1. Chapter 16

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 16

 

Me: Edward, you finally sealed the deal!

 

Edward: You doubted me?

 

Me: (bitch brow)

 

Edward: Alright, I was worried. I mean this time was important, and…I did it. (Cheshire cat grin)

 

Me: Tanya and Shamus…didn’t see that one coming.

 

Edward: Yes, well…

 

Me: You have the girls over on Facebook kind of worried.

 

Edward: About what?

 

Me: Gianna.

 

Edward: (shakes head)

 

Me: Should we be worried?

 

Edward. (leans back in chair) She’s hard to predict. When she wants something, she’s used to getting it.

 

Me: That isn’t helping; they’re going to want more.

 

Edward: Then keep typing…

 

“Oh, yes, right fucking there…”

 

Edward had woken me even before the alarm went off. I didn’t mind as he did it with his tongue.

 

“Oh…please…hunnnahh…”

 

With a mischievous laugh, he stopped licking my clit and asked, “Please what?”

 

I threw my head in his direction, my hair flying like a tidal wave across my face.

 

“Edward Anthony Cullen, you return that fucking tongue back to where you had it or so help me god…”

 

His laughing continued as he winked at me and then lowered his head back between my thighs. “Good lord, you put a cheap ring on a girl’s finger and she gets very demanding of you all of the sudden.”

 

Three orgasms and a shower blowjob later, I was helping him tie his tie. “So, we never did set a date for this wedding you’re forcing me into,” he teased.

 

I locked eyes with him in the mirror and gave him the look. You know it, the one that says be careful, buddy, or your right hand is going to be your only friend for a while.

 

“No, we didn’t,” I responded as I cinched up his tie…a little too snugly. “I called Father Mulcahy and he’s ready to start Pre-Cana classes.”

 

“Alright, let’s see…” I pulled Edward’s phone from the nightstand and touched the screen for his calendar, “Well, this weekend is clearly out…it’s my sister’s wedding.” He only chuckled. “And your sister’s is just a few weeks after, so the best day according to your crazy schedule is August 13th.”

 

I then lifted my eyes from the screen to find him smiling at me, “August 13th it is.”

 

I phoned my dad and asked him to meet me at our diner. With my wedding date now set, I needed to get a few minor details out of the way. I was surprised to find my dad hadn’t arrived yet, but Edward was sitting at our usual table. I couldn’t help my smile as I made my way over to join him.

 

“Did you miss me?” I chuckled as I placed a kiss on his lips.

 

“Your dad invited me, actually, and yes, I did miss you”

 

Doris was on her game this morning as she placed a cup of hot coffee on the table in front of me.

 

“Your usual, sweetheart?” Doris’s friendly voice questioned.

 

“No, just coffee today,” I smiled as I looked at her.

 

She then turned to Edward and began to refill his cup, “Anything for you, Edward?”

 

I was taken aback by the way she used his first name. I only knew of a handful of people who had.

 

“No, Doris, I’m meeting my future father-in-law, I’m a little nervous this morning,” he chuckled as he winked in my direction.

 

“Oh, Edward, that’s not nice. Charlie’s a wonderful man and you know that.”

 

“Yes, Ma’am, I was only trying to rile Bella up this morning.”

 

“Better be careful with that, she’ll soon sleep beside you,” Doris teased as she began to walk away. “Oh, before I forget, thank you again for your help with Phil,” Doris added before she walked away.

 

I looked at Edward who was clearly wearing a happy grin; I had to know what that was all about. I wasn’t certain how much he would tell me about his personal business, though. Edward must have picked up on my curiosity and spoke before I could ask.

 

“Since you’re going to be my wife very soon, you should know that I, or rather we, are helping Doris’s son with his med school tuition.”

 

I could have been told the sky was green at this point and I would have had an easier time believing that than what I had just heard coming from my fiance.

 

“Are you kidding me?” I stammered out before I could think.

 

“No…”

 

“So you’re making like…like…one of those loan shark loan things…you know, all money plus interest, due in ninety days?”

 

Edward began to laugh at me. Really laugh.

 

“I’m so glad I amuse you,” I scoffed at him, clearly agitated

 

“I’m sorry, love, but not everything I do is for profit. I try to help out the kids in the neighborhood that are trying to better themselves. Phil was always helping out the other neighborhood kids, too. When Doris told me he’d lost his scholarship due to budget cuts, I stepped in.”

 

I remembered Charlotte telling me Edward donated millions every year to charity. I leaned closer toward him as I beckoned him with my index finger. He smiled his signature smile as he leaned toward me.

 

“I just fell a lot more in love with you, Edward Cullen.” Then I kissed his lips.

 

“You know I’m only allowing that because of the ring you placed on her finger.”

 

Even the sound of my father’s voice could do nothing to make me break my kiss. I slowly backed away and proceeded to look directly into Edward’s eyes. I would always remember the way he looked at me, loving, cherished, devoted. He never had to tell me how he felt, his eyes told me everything.

 

“Good morning, Daddy,” I said, my eyes never leaving Edward’s.

 

“Good morning,” my father spoke as he sat down beside me, kissing my cheek as he settled.

 

Doris was still on her game as she placed a cup of coffee on the table in front of him.

 

“Thank you, Doris,” Charlie and Edward stated at the same time.

 

I let my dad get a sip of his coffee before I began to question why he wanted Edward here. I needed to talk with him about how we were going to pay for this wedding and honestly, I didn’t want Edward to hear this conversation.

 

“So, Dad, not that I’m complaining, but why does Edward need to be here for our meeting?”

 

I took another sip of my coffee as Edward reached across the table and took my free hand in his. Something was going on, and by the looks on their faces, I got the impression I might not want to hear it.

 

“I asked Edward to join us because I have some news I’m not certain how you’ll respond to.”

 

Edward gripped my hand tighter as I tried to turn my body toward my father. I could feel the anxiety begin to travel up my chest and into my throat. Was something wrong with my father? Was he ill, or had he gotten into trouble?

 

“For the past year I’ve been seeing someone, romantically.”

 

And just like the minute you get your period after having had unprotected sex, relief washed over me and I let out the breath I had been holding.

 

I smacked my father on the arm as I scolded him for worrying me. “Don’t you ever scare me like that again; I thought you were dying by the way you were talking.”

 

Both men began to chuckle as I took another sip of coffee.

 

“Well, you may want to kill me when you find out who it is.”

 

Cue the return of the anxiety. Oh, god, I think I’m going to kill him…she’s married.

 

“Before I tell you who it is, I want you to know that I…we didn’t plan on falling in love, but we did and I’ve asked her to move in with me. She isn’t ready to get married just yet, but I’m willing to wait for her to be ready.” I looked to Edward and he squeezed my hand tighter. “She wanted to come today and be here with me, but I told her this needed to come from me.”

 

Doris chose that moment to bring my father his breakfast plate.

 

“Thank you, Doris.”

 

I watched as my father looked at his over-easy eggs, took a deep breath, and then turned his face to me, “For the past year, I’ve been seeing Charlotte.”

 

I could have sworn I heard him say Charlotte, but that was crazy…

 

“I love her, Bells, she makes me feel good, and she makes me want to live again.”

 

I loved my father and I loved Charlotte. I began to really think about the past year. Had Charlotte acted any different? She didn’t really talk about her personal life; I guess I now understood why.

 

“She wanted to tell you so many times and I asked her not to. If you’re mad, be mad at me, not her.”

 

“Babe, you’re not saying anything, talk to me, please,” Edward’s gentle voice sounded.

 

I took in a deep breath and then winked at Edward where my father couldn’t see. My father was a grown man and if Charlotte made him that happy, then who was I to stand in their way. That didn’t change the fact that I was about to give him shit because he had scared me earlier.

 

“Dad, are you kidding me? Charlotte is my age. You’re old enough to be her father for Christ sakes.”

 

I looked to Edward who was trying very hard to keep from laughing. He knew I was just playing with my dad.

 

“I know, and don’t think for one second that I didn’t fight these feelings I have for her, because I did. I mean she may want to have children someday and I can’t give them to her. My girls are grown for Christ sakes.”

 

Okay, so that pulled at my heart a little, not going to lie.

 

“I’ve given myself a thousand reasons why this relationship is a bad idea, but the one thing neither one of us could ignore was our love for each other.”

 

I looked at my dad for a second, really looked at him. He was happy with one of my best friends in the world and I knew she would take care of him.

 

“Dad, honestly, I’m happy if you are,” I leaned over and kissed his cheek just as Edward’s phone began to ring.

 

“Well, I’m certainly glad you were wrong about her reaction, Charlie,” Edward chuckled as he tossed some money on the table and began to stand. “I’m sorry to have to leave, but I have an issue that needs my attention. Can we have dinner tonight, my place?” he leaned over and kissed my lips.

 

“Dinner sounds great,” I smiled at his beautiful face. “I love you,” I said kissing him again.

 

“I love you right back,” he grinned and returned my kiss.

 

“Alright, alright, I have my limits, even with that ring,” my dad teased as Edward continued to kiss me.

 

I watched as Edward walked away and toward the door. He stopped briefly and gave Doris a kiss to her cheek. She laughed at something he said and then he was out the door with a wave and a wink.

 

It struck me as so odd how it wasn’t that long ago that I had thought the worst of him. I had judged him by society’s standards and that wasn’t fair. I was not naive enough to believe that he was this wonderful all of the time. However, I just chose to concentrate on this side of him and let the other show only to the people who needed to see it.

 

“So, Edward tells me you start Pre-Cana classes tomorrow.”

 

And just like that, my father was ready for a new subject.

 

“Yes, we set a date of August 13th and that doesn’t give us a lot of time.”

 

“And Father Mulcahy is alright with that?”

 

“Dad, you should never doubt the kind of charm Edward has.”

 

“I wouldn’t know firsthand, but I’ve heard in passing,” he chuckled as he gave me a gentle shoulder nudge.

 

“So what was your reason for needing to see me this morning?”

 

I took another sip of my quickly-cooling coffee. Doris lifted the pot she was holding, silently asking if I needed a refill. I nodded my head and she began to walk toward our table.

 

“Well, I know you’re less than a week away from your first daughter’s wedding and then I announce that I’ll be getting married in a few months.”

 

Doris arrived to fill up my cup.

 

“Thank you,” I told her as she was about to walk away.

 

“Yes, so what’s your point?”

 

I sighed as I set my cup back on the table top. The thought of what I needed to discuss had kept me awake for most of the night.

 

“Well, I have a good idea of what Angela’s wedding is costing you, and I also know that with me marrying Edward, the cost of ours will make Angela’s wedding bills seem like pocket change.”

 

My dad then lowered his own cup and looked at me like I had more to say.

 

When I didn’t continue, he began. “I don’t get what you’re trying to tell me.”

 

I looked at him like he had three heads.

 

“Dad…my wedding is going to cost both arms and legs. The guest list is going to be huge, and even with my connections, this is going to cost us a ton of money. Now, I’ve got some money saved up…”

 

“Stop right there, Isabella Marie, if you think for one second that I can’t give both of my daughter the weddings of their dreams…”

 

“No, Dad, my wedding isn’t going to be the wedding of my dreams, it’s going to be the required wedding I have to have. I won’t know most of the people there, and the majority of them will have a record that’s longer than the guest list,” I said the latter in a hushed voice.

 

“Isabella, how much money do I have in my pocket right now?”

 

I looked at him with confusion. “I-I- have no idea.”

 

“That’s right; you have no idea of my financial status. I could have millions in the bank and you’d never know. Don’t decide things for me that aren’t your decision to make.”

 

My father was again correct. I had assumed he couldn’t afford things. I left for my office that day with strict instructions to have anything I wanted for the wedding.

 

Angela’s wedding was in less than a week and there were so many details that remained unfinished. As her maid of honor, it was my job to get them completed. I was just about to call the florist when a knock at my door sounded. Tanya stood with her clipboard in hand and was seriously frowning.

 

“Sorry, Ms. Bella, but you have a visitor.”

 

I looked to Tanya; she had a look of worry about her face.

 

“Who is it?” I questioned her softly.

 

“Gianna Volturi.”

 

Oh, god, what in the world could she want?

 

“Thank you, Tanya, send her in.”

 

I quickly rose from my chair and checked my makeup. I had no clue why I felt the need to look pretty for her. I knew she had a history with Edward; I didn’t have details and I honestly didn’t want any.

 

I expected Gianna to be dressed to the nines and either be drunk or stoned based on past history. She certainly didn’t disappoint as she made her way into my office. Her red suit was definitely not off-the-rack, and her shoes and handbag I knew had to cost more than my car. Her beautiful long hair was bone straight down her slender back and moved as she walked. Gianna Volturi was without a doubt a beautiful girl.

 

Her oversized sunglasses hid her eyes from me as she continued into the room, only removing them when she set her handbag in the chair. I needed to be careful with this one. Just because her tongue didn’t fork didn’t make her any less of a snake.

 

“Isabella, I just heard the news and I had to come over and give our congratulations.”

 

In all my years of working alongside Charlotte, I had developed a sixth sense, if you will. I could read people with pretty good accuracy and tell if they were sincere. Gianna was after something and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what she wanted…Edward.

 

Alright, bitch, you want to dance, let’s dance.

 

“Oh, thank you. We’re so excited and we can’t wait for our big day.”

 

She stepped closer and wrapped me in a hug. The smell of her overpriced perfume was barely covering the smell of whatever alcohol she had drank this morning for breakfast.

 

“I’m so happy to hear Edward has chosen such a beautiful girl to marry. I was worried for a while that he’d never settle down, always with a different girl, but now that’ll all change, at least I hope he changes…for you I mean.”

 

Ladies and gentleman, there we had the snake in the grass. She had just taken her first strike. But I had dealt with my fair share of snakes.

 

“Well, I certainly hope he never changes. I like him just the way he is.”

 

I could see the shock in her eyes. I was giving her a challenge.

 

“Really, Isabella, you’ll turn a blind eye…”

 

“And let him have a goomah? Well, considering he IS Irish, that would be a mot, but…”

 

Her face was priceless. She actually believed I would let this happen, perhaps let her warm his bed or polish his knob under the dinner table.

 

“I’m certain you have some personal experience with that,” my words flowed like honey, dripping sticky and sweet.

 

“Oh, you must mistake me…”

 

“Oh, no, I hear you loud and clear. You came here today hoping to plant a little seed of doubt in my head, perhaps tell me how you had this long and torrid affair with Edward, which I know is bullshit by the way.”

 

I remained calm as I continued to fire holes in her plans. She wouldn’t scare me, she was nothing to me.

 

She began to backpedal.

 

“Isabella, I only came to congratulate, of course I would never speak of intimate things that happened between Edward and I, that’s water under the bridge.”

 

“Gianna, is your ass jealous of the shit that comes out of your mouth? Do you seriously think I’d believe you had any kind of relationship with him?”

 

You could see the fury building in her eyes. She honestly thought I would cower in the corner at the possibility he had been with her.

 

“No, I understand you perfectly and I do appreciate you stopping by, but as you can imagine, I have a long list of things to accomplish today and I really need to get to them.”

 

“Oh, yes, but of course.”

 

I watched as she gathered her purse and replaced her sunglasses. I walked with her to the front lobby of my office. Just as she was about to open the door to leave, she turned and asked one last question.

 

“When is the wedding by the way?”

 

“August 13th,” I gladly replied.

 

“Hmm, Friday the thirteenth, you seem to play with fate. You do know that’s considered a bad luck day,” she smirked as she turned and walked out. I was suddenly regretting being unable to slam the door. It would have looked amazing smacking soundly off her overly-rounded ass.

 

As I sat in the middle of Edward’s living room, I began to pour us each a glass of wine. Dinner was amazing and I loved being with him like this.

 

“So, I forgot to ask, how was your day?”

 

Edward had brought takeout from the deli around the corner. We were both so hungry that we ate in comfortable silence.

 

“Well, I got a visit from the House of Slytherin mascot today.”

 

Edward looked to me quickly, shock on his face.

 

“Gianna came to your office?”

 

“Yep, she wanted to congratulate us.”

 

I gave him a look of…I got this.

 

“What kind of bullshit did she spew?”

 

“I didn’t let her; she’s a snake, Edward. I know this. Her visit was pointless.”

 

Edward took my glass from my hand and gently placed it on the side table. His face was filled with pride as he slowly wrapped his arms around me and lowered me to the floor. Our eyes never left each other’s as he gently caressed my face.

 

“My father was right, you are perfect for me.” I could only smile. “But you know; things between Gianna and I could never have worked out.”

 

I looked at his serious face, “Besides the obvious, why not?”

 

“Well, you’re right, she belongs to the House of Slytherin and I’m definitely Hufflepuff, we never would have worked.”

 

I began to laugh, and hard as he tried, he could not keep his straight face.

 

“So, you’re a Hufflepuff, huh?”

 

He began to kiss my neck, “Umm hmm.”

 

“Well, then how is this supposed to work between us?” His head quickly raised; his eyes boring into mine. “See, I’ve always been a Gryffindor.”

 

Edward began to chuckle, “Have a thing for Daniel Radcliff, do you?”

 

He began to tickle me as he didn’t give me time to answer. “Let me show you MY Nimbus 2000.”

 

My giggles continued. My man could perform his own brand of magic and I was more than ready to benefit from his magic wand.

 

A/N

 

Okay…So, a little Harry Potter there, sorry if you’re not a fan, but a recent incident caused me to add that in.

 

Thank you to everyone who is reading and reviewing…we hit 2000…wow, just wow!

 

To my beta, Dollybigmomma, who makes this perfect…love you, girl, even when you yell at me.

 

I’ve got a ton of people who want to join the Facebook page the lovely Gemma set up and they’re having issues finding it. Here’s the link, I hope it helps.

 

http :/ www. facebook .com /groups/442853679062102/

 

(You know to remove the spaces…)

 

  1. Chapter 17

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 17

 

Me: Holy hell, Bella took no prisoners.

 

Edward: She was pretty hot, huh?

 

Me: So, I know you had someone watching Bella’s office, why did you let Gianna get in?

 

Edward: Well, Bella is going to be the wife of a mob boss. She’s going to have to deal with some pretty shady characters. I knew she was safe, I just wish I could have seen her hand Gianna a new ass.

 

Me: Bella took a real chance on just showing up at your condo.

 

Edward: Do you really think I didn’t know she was coming?

 

Me: Oh, yes, you have her tailed.

 

Edward: Yes. Again, I know where she is at all times.

 

Me: So, you’ve obviously forgotten about the girl from your teens, the one who caused your issue.

 

Edward: Maybe. (head down)

 

Me: What aren’t you telling me?

 

Edward: (head remains down)

 

Me: Alright, enough said, how about we continue with the story.

 

Edward: (head still down) Good idea.

 

With Alice’s bridal shower in my rear view mirror, I took my planner hat off and put on my sister-of-the-bride hat. Edward assured me he would look after Ben during his bachelor party. Angela was worried it would end up like the movies, complete with the hangover from hell. Edward gave his word he would keep things tame. I told him he was full of shit…he only chuckled back at me.

 

Angela chose to stay with me that night. We wanted to have one final night of single sister time. So with pajamas on and old eighties movies in the DVD player, we made a huge pallet in the living room floor and had margaritas. I had never laughed and cried so much in my entire life.

 

She told me how much she admired my free spirit and my dedication to our family. She also told me to never change when it came to Edward, never let him wear the pants alone.

 

It was shortly after one o’clock in the morning when my cell phone began to ring. I feared the worst as I answered. “Hello?”

 

“Babe, what’s wrong with me?” Edward slurred into the phone.

 

“Edward…what is it, what’s wrong?”

 

“I’m surrounded by naked women and all I can think about is how they don’t look like you.”

 

“Edward, are you drunk?”

 

“Oh, love, I passed drunk a long time ago.”

 

I could hear someone yelling in the back ground, “GO! GO! GO!”

 

“Do I even want to know what you’re doing in a room full of naked women?”

 

“I’m missing you, that’s what.”

 

“Babe, you just saw me this morning.”

 

“So? Doesn’t take away the fact that I miss you, can you just be in my bed when I get home?”

 

“Not when you’ve just left a room full of naked women.”

 

“I love you. Do you know how much I really love you, Bella?”

 

“I love you, too, Edward.”

 

I was determined that Angela’s wedding day would be perfect. I had everything planned out. First, she would soak in a tub filled with bubbles and rose peddles. Second, she would have her own hairstylist and makeup artist; I didn’t want her to feel rushed.

 

Angela had chosen red and white as her wedding colors. All of her bridesmaid’s dresses were red with very dainty white appliques. Angela’s dress was pure white with a red sash that wrapped around her waist. She chose a cathedral-length veil and red roses to carry in her bouquet. I was honestly shocked as her favorite color was pink.

 

Two of Angela’s attendant did try to get into a heated argument, but I put a quick end to it. I had worked my ass off to make sure everything was perfect and nothing was going to tarnish this memory for my sister. When we began to plan this day, Esme tried to get a close friend of the family who was a wedding planner to do it so I would be free to just enjoy the day, but she was already booked. She assured me that she would plan mine so I wouldn’t have to do it myself.

 

As I stood in front of my sister, making sure her dress was perfect, I looked into her eyes. She was happy, truly happy, and that was all I had ever wanted for her.

 

“I love you, never forget that,” Angela whispered.

 

“I love you, too.”

 

I felt a soft hand brush my bare shoulder and I quickly turned my attention to the owner of that hand to find Tanya standing there. “I’m sorry, Bella, but there’s a situation in the front of the church you need to come see,” Tanya whispered with the look of pure panic. I motioned for her to lead the way as I told Angela’s bridesmaids to keep Angela inside this room.

 

As I made my way to the front doors, I passed a number of Edward’s men; I had never seen any emotion on their faces until this moment. As I placed my hand on the door, I heard it.

 

“I’m her fucking mother; I demand you let me by!”

 

It had been too many years to count since I had last hear that voice, but it was one I never forgot. There standing at the bottom of the concrete steps was the woman who gave birth to Angela and me, Renee.

 

Poor Shamus and Jacob stood still as statues as she continued to hurl swear words at them, demanding to be let in. Ben had been very firm on the guest list; he wanted this day to be perfect as well, although neither one of us thought she would make an appearance.

 

I placed my hand on Shamus’s broad shoulders and asked, “Cad cosu’il le bheith ar an bhfadhb anseo?” (What seems to be the problem here?)

 

Shamus turned to face me and responded, “She say she mother.”

 

I took a double look at Shamus; he had spoken English. Granted, it was broken, but it was English nonetheless.

 

“Shamus, I’m so proud of you!” My screaming egg donor momentarily forgotten, I leaned over and kissed his cheek. His smile was electric and he blushed as his face lowered.

 

My smile faded as I turned back to the issue. “What are you doing here?” I spoke through clinched teeth.

 

“Don’t you use that tone with me, Isabella, I’m still your mother.”

 

I closed the distance between us, my nose less than an inch from hers as I began to snarl my words at her. “Oh, no you fucking don’t,” my brown eyes locked with hers. “You don’t get to claim that fucking title. You gave it up a long fucking time ago.”

 

My chest was heaving with my panting breath; I could feel the heat of my anger rising from my very soul. “Where the fuck were you when she was sick with the chicken pox and didn’t get to see the lunar eclipse?”

 

When we were little girls, we loved to watch the stars and at one point, Angela had wanted to work for NASA. Dad got us each a telescope and we could tell you anything you wanted to know about the planets. When Angela got the chicken pox, she couldn’t go outside and it just so happened that a solar eclipse occurred. She was inconsolable.

 

“Where were you when she had to get ten stitches from falling out of a tree when the neighbor’s dog chased us?”

 

The dog was huge and it got out of the fence one day. Mr. Fitzpatrick was so scared that he called an ambulance for her. Her treatment had been delayed because Charlie was on a stakeout and we had no other parent available to give permission for treatment.

 

“How about when she got her first period and hid under the kitchen sink because she thought she was dying…tell me, where the fuck were you?”

 

My breathing was labored and I was shaking head to toe. She had left us, no goodbye, no kiss my ass, nothing.

 

“Where were you when she screamed in labor with her first baby for sixteen hours? Where were you when we buried our big sister? You remember her, don’t you? Did you go to the hotel and identify her dead body? Did you?”

 

“He gave me money, did he tell you that? Your father, he gave me a lot of money.”

 

Her words were slurred, she was drunk, and I could now smell the stench of it.

 

“But you took it, didn’t you?”

 

Her expression was of shock, she couldn’t respond.

 

“Bella, is everything alright?”

 

I turned to see Edward standing beside Shamus and Jacob. As I looked past him, I noticed quite a crowd had gathered on the steps. Rose and Alice stood side by side glaring at Renee, while Tanya had kicked off her shoes, ready to throw down if necessary. My girls had my back.

 

I looked back to Edward, “Yes, just let me get rid of this piece of trash.”

 

As I turned back to her, I noticed a black sedan sitting parked across the street, the windows rolled up, but I could clearly make out that someone was sitting inside.

 

I raised my left hand, my engagement ring glistening in the bright sunlight. “Renee, do you see this ring?” I moved my hand closer to her face, her eyes now huge as she took in its size and brilliance. “I’m going to marry the man who gave me this ring, and I’ll give that same man children.” I lowered my left hand so she would have nothing to distract her from hearing what I had to say. “I would kill him with my bare fucking hands if he ever tried to take my children from me.”

 

She tried to speak, but I cut her off.

 

“He’s one of the deadliest men in this fucking town and I would kill him dead if he ever tried to separate me from my fucking children,” the last three words were pronounced very sharply and with emphasis on each word. “There isn’t enough money in the entire world that would be enough to pay me to stay away from my children. You sold me and my sisters like we were nothing, and now that’s exactly what you are to me, nothing. Jacob, get this piece of shit out of my face and make certain she doesn’t return. She’s not welcome here.”

 

“Yes, Ma’am.”

 

I didn’t listen as Renee tried to respond. I heard the sound of a car engine start and I turned as Renee got inside of the black sedan.

 

“Follow it,” I heard Edward command as I grabbed his hand and walked back into the church.

 

I watched as my father walked Angela down the aisle. Huge tears rested just on the edge of his eyelids as he kissed her cheek and then placed her hand in Ben’s. It was then I noticed Edward sitting on the second row. His eyes locked with mine, I love you silently spoken and a wink to seal it.

 

As I looked around the church, I smiled as I remembered Charlotte’s scolding that I hadn’t attended mass in a very long time, while Edward and his family were faithful mass attendees. That had changed for me as well; I was now sitting on Edward’s left every time we attended together.

 

Father Mulcahy did an amazing job and as I watched my sister turn to face her guests, I could only smile as I thought; it wouldn’t be much longer until it was my turn.

 

As we posed for picture after picture, I couldn’t stop looking at Edward who sat patiently across the courtyard. I remembered the first time I saw him in a tux, how he carried himself, how he owned the room.

 

Once the final photo was taken, Ben asked to have a few minutes with Angela alone before the reception. I made use of the time by crossing the yard and launching myself into Edward’s awaiting arms.

 

“Mmm, you do know that it’s tradition for the maid of honor and the best man to hook up later?”

 

I chuckled as I pulled back. “Is that so? Well, that’s a tradition I’ll be breaking, did you see the best man?”

 

Marcus was Ben’s older brother and his best man. Last night at the rehearsal dinner, Marcus had told me in no uncertain terms that he was very interested in me. Edward of course made certain everyone knew I was not available. Not that I would have gone for Marcus, he was just…ew.

 

“Good thing, I’d be breaking him otherwise,” Edward’s husky voice vibrated in my ear.

 

“I think after last night, the entire city knows we’re together.”

 

He openly smiled at that.

 

“Bella, this dress is absolutely beautiful on you.” His fingers danced across the top of the delicate flowers that were stitched on the side of my right breast. “It’ll be even more beautiful on the floor of our condo later,” he whispered as his teeth came down sharply on my earlobe.

 

I dug my nails into the material of his tux and closed my eyes as I pressed my torso into his chest. “You have no idea how dangerously close to losing control I am right now,” my voice shook with want.

 

“Your office is three blocks away; I think you left the coffee machine on this morning.”

 

“I think you’re right, that could be very dangerous.”

 

The lights in my office were off when we stumbled through the door. We didn’t waste time in correcting that as my back was slammed into the wall behind my desk.

 

“Babe, my sister will kill me if I ruin this dress before the reception.”

 

Edward sucked in a huge breath as he lifted me onto my desk, quickly scattering all the papers that lay in his way. “These won’t matter then.” I could only gasp as he ripped my panties off my body. “Babe, I can’t be gentle, I need…need you right fucking now,” he hissed, his word rushed and spoken between clinched teeth.

 

“Who said you had to be?”

 

The next thing I knew, my back was against my filing cabinet and I could feel the cold metal against my bare shoulder. Edward’s cock was suddenly buried so deeply that I cried out in surprise. His thrusts were hard and he was bouncing me against the filing cabinet, but I just could make myself care. I wanted this, I wanted him. I didn’t need gentle right now, I needed pure raw fucking. Edward certainly didn’t disappoint.

 

“Oh, yes, baby, come on, Bella, fucking come!” he demanded as his hips continued to pound into mine.

 

I could feel that wonderful tidal wave building and just when I thought he would come before me, he shifted his hips and began thrusting at a different angle.

 

I cried into his ear as I came hard.

 

“Wow, I’m never going to look at my office the same,” I said between pants.

 

“Oh, yes, mine is next.”

 

Waiting to go into the reception, Marcus took the opportunity to try one last time to make certain I knew I had options. I took one look at Jacob and Riley who were stood in the corner. Jacob had a hold of him in less than a second.

 

“You were warned, Sir.”

 

I watched as Jacob took Marcus outside and Riley wrapped my hand around his arm, “I always knew I was the best man.” We both chuckled. Ben looked at Riley and only shook his head as he kissed my sister on the forehead.

 

As the DJ announced my name followed by Riley’s, I was shocked that the news had traveled so fast. I looked around the room to find Edward talking away on his phone. He didn’t look angry, although he was pulling at his hair. You would have thought there wouldn’t be any left after the way I went at it only minutes ago.

 

Riley made me laugh as he began to twirl me around the dance floor. The crowd cheered and I was laughing so hard I nearly lost my breath.

 

Once Angela and Ben were announced, Edward wasted no time in claiming my hand. Riley’s dancing was nothing compared to my Edward.

 

“Please tell me Marcus will be able to give his best man speech.”

 

“No, I’ll be delivering that one.”

 

“Oh, Edward, you didn’t kill him, did you?”

 

“No, croi milis.”

 

Edward had started calling me sweetheart in Gaelic since returning from Ireland. Honestly, I loved it.

 

“Don’t you sweetheart me; I’ll be pissed if you ruin this wedding.”

 

“He’s being attended to as we speak.”

 

No more was said about Marcus and Edward stood graciously and announced that Marcus was feeling under the weather. With a glimmer in his eye, he gave the most amazing speech I had ever heard. I just couldn’t wait for this man to be my husband.

 

“I was so proud of you tonight,” Edward whispered into my ear as we lay in bed later that night.

 

“I just did the reception.”

 

“No, I was talking about your…”

 

“Renee,” her name left my lips with disdain.

 

“Yes, her. I can’t imagine what it was like for you and your sisters, all the little things that mothers do for their daughters.”

 

I burrowed deeper into his chest.

 

“I meant what I said; I would kill you if you tried to separate me from my kids.”

 

Edward actually chuckled, “You’d be in line behind my Ma. She loves you and she’d kill me if I did anything stupid like that.”

 

We both began to chuckle; he was right, she would.

 

As I closed my eyes, I began to go over the events of the wedding. So much had happened, yet Angela was none the wiser.

 

My last thought before I let the darkness take me was who was driving that black car?

 

  1. Chapter 18

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 18

 

Edward: Let me just start this one.

 

Me: Fine, as long as you tell us who was in the car.

 

Edward: Alright, I honestly don’t know for certain. I had my men trail them, but they quickly lost them outside the city.

 

Me: Do you have a guess?

 

Edward: Mathisson, you should know by now that I do.

 

Me: Of course, but the real question is, are you going to share with the class.

 

Edward: No, but I am going to clear Charlie’s good name.

 

Me: Huh?

 

Edward: Renee showed up and told Bella that Charlie paid her a great deal of money, but it’s not true.

 

Me: So she made that up?

 

Edward: When my father and Bella’s father got back in touch with each other, Charlie was at the end of his rope. Renee was heavy into heroin use, she had depleted their savings, and she had exposed her daughters to her drug dealers on more than one occasion. Once my Ma heard the story, she flew out to Washington and confronted Renee. She gave her a choice, check into rehab and get clean or her and my father would do everything in their power to sever the ties. Renee chose rehab and went to a really great facility in Jacksonville. She stayed three days and then checked herself out. The hospital called my Ma and she flew out there with our attorney in tow. Bella’s father had already packed the girls and him up and moved to Chicago. My parents covered the cost of the divorce and even set Renee up in an apartment and paid for her rent for a year.

 

Me: So she signed her rights away willingly.

 

Edward: My Ma said she couldn’t sign the paper fast enough.

 

Me: If your parents helped so much, why wasn’t Esme more involved in their lives?

 

Edward: Honestly, that was Charlie’s doing. He wanted to keep a safe distance between my family and his daughters; he wanted to protect them, if you will. They had just lost their mother and they needed time to adjust.

 

Me: You constantly amaze me. Here I pictured you as this gun-slinging gangster and now I find you to be more giving than most people.

 

Edward: Yes, well…never forget that deep down I am still the most dangerous man in this city.

 

Me: (His eyes spoke louder than his words; sitting across from me was one of the most handsome men I had ever seen. But deep in his soul, he was still very dangerous. I swallowed hard as I tried to stop shaking. Edward Cullen was indeed a dangerous man, but how deadly could he be?)

 

Me: What happened to Marcus?

 

Edward: Certainly not what you’re thinking. Jacob just gave him some friendly reminders that Bella didn’t want or need his advances.

 

Me: So, he’s still alive?

 

Edward: Yes, although talking is a bit difficult for him at the moment. (mischievous grin on his face)

 

Me: I think I want to continue with the story.

 

Edward: Alright, it is about to get good…

 

“Bella, clear your schedule for three weeks from tomorrow for your engagement party.”

 

With Angela far away on her honeymoon, I had plenty of time available. I still smiled at Esme as she quickly flipped through her desk calendar and began writing with fury. Esme wanted to handle everything about our engagement party. I wanted to make her happy so I didn’t argue with her.

 

Esme had wanted me to meet with a friend of the family who owned a prestigious event planning company. I had never worked personally with Lauren Mallory, but I had heard she was very good at what she did. Up until the Hale-McCarthy wedding, she had done purely corporate events.

 

I had only seen her across the room as Charlotte handled the actual meetings. I knew she was beautiful and commanded a room, but that was all I knew.

 

“Is Edward going to meet us at Lauren’s office?”

 

Esme had spoken to Lauren the second I said yes to Edward’s proposal. Lauren had assured her that if she had something else scheduled on the day of my wedding, she would reschedule.

 

“He said he’d try, but he did have a meeting he couldn’t get out of.” Edward had been very busy since the wedding and I had barely seen him. I already knew that he would tell me to pick out what I wanted. I did, however, want him to have a say in things as well.

 

“Have we decided on colors yet?”

 

That was probably the easiest answer I had today. I wanted to have the Cullen family plaid, like the sash and kilt that the gentleman wore in the picture that once hung in Edward’s old office.

 

“Yes, the Cullen family colors.”

 

You would have thought I had just handed her the golden ticket, her eyes instantly became bright and I watched as a single tear fell down her face.

 

“Esme?”

 

“Oh I’m sorry, lass, I just expected you to want something trendy.”

 

Esme dried her tears as we made our way to the waiting car.

 

“Good morning, Angus,” I spoke as I sat in the back seat of the Mercedes.

 

“Beautiful morning, Mrs. Cullen, Ms Swan,” was his nodded reply.

 

Angus had grown on me. There was just something about him that was very comforting to me. He never smiled, but he was always polite and always a step ahead.

 

The drive to Ms. Mallory’s office wasn’t long, but with the morning traffic, it was a time-consuming trip. We arrived to find Lauren’s office was in a high-rise building just off Michigan Avenue. Once inside the lobby, I was shocked to find how cold and sterile it was decorated. No pictures on the wall or comfortable chairs to sit in. It reminded me of an emergency room waiting area.

 

In the corner of the room sat a desk with a dark-haired girl nestled behind it. Once we approached, she raised her eyes from her computer screen to Esme’s face. I recognized her immediately as the young girl who had run down Edward’s stairs that night at the strip club.

 

Michelle looked great; it seemed rehab had done her some good. Her face was fuller and she had a genuine smile on her face.

 

“Mrs. Cullen, good morning. Let me get Ms. Mallory for you.”

 

The young girl was up and out of her seat before I could even blink.

 

From the door that she so quickly disappeared into came a very beautiful blonde. Her light blue dress clung to her like a second skin and she looked like she had just stepped off a Milan runway. She cleared the space between us very quickly yet remarkably gracefully. She immediately engulfed Esme into a tight hug.

 

“Oh, Esme, I’m so excited for you; two children in the same year!”

 

Esme and Lauren began to exchange the customary pleasantries as she ushered us into her office.

 

The decor in Lauren’s office wasn’t much better. A single desk and two hard plastic chairs were about the only things there. Not once did she offer us anything to drink, not that I would have accepted, but it was customarily polite to offer.

 

The longer I looked at her, the more I just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific, but I just knew I had seen her before.

 

“Oh, Lauren, I nearly forgot to introduce you to my new daughter. Lauren, Isabella. Bella, Lauren.”

 

I extended my hand out to her, and as she brought her hand up was when it happened. It was the motion of her hand that caused my mind to flash back to that night in the parking lot. This was the over-processed, hooker wanna-be with Edward that had flipped me off.

 

“I’ve wanted to meet the person who’s taken our Edward off the market.”

 

Our Edward? Bitch, please…

 

The sound of Esme’s cell ringing stopped me from saying what I really wanted to.

 

“Lass, I’m sorry, but this is Carlisle and I have to take it.”

 

She quickly rose from her plastic chair and left the office.

 

“You’re not at all what I expected,” Lauren’s facade dropped and the demeaning tone in her voice did nothing but piss me off.

 

“Funny, you’re meeting all of my expectations,” I sneered back at her.

 

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” she threw back at me.

 

“Don’t think for one minute I don’t remember you,” I spoke as I leaned in her direction.

 

“Whatever. I’ve never…”

 

“Gino’s parking lot, you got out of the car with Edward and decided he was paying too much attention to me and decided to flip me off, is your memory any better?” I spat, giving her the bitch brow.

 

She could only glare back at me.

 

“See, it wasn’t that you did that just to me, my four-year-old niece was in that car and she could have seen you…”

 

“Who gives a fuck about your niece; you realize he’s only marrying you because he and your father have a contract?”

 

I didn’t believe her for a second. Lauren was no better than Gianna. They would say whatever they had to in order to hurt people.

 

“Well, that and the fact I can fuck his brains out.”

 

I could tell by the look on her face that I had hit a nerve. She and Edward obviously had never been together, but that clearly wasn’t by her choice.

 

“You wouldn’t know anything about that, fucking him I mean.”

 

She didn’t get the opportunity to respond as Esme came back into the room. She wasn’t alone, as she had Carlisle and Edward on each side of her.

 

I rose from my seat as I crossed the room to greet Carlisle. With a quick hello and a kiss to the cheek, I turned my attention to Edward as he pulled me into his arms.

 

“Chaill me` dathuil tu`.” (I missed you, handsome)

 

“Chaili me` dathhil tu` croi fresinin milis.” (I missed you, too, sweetheart)

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that Lauren had not one clue what was just said. She may have had an Irish name, but she didn’t speak a word of Gaelic.

 

“Oh, Carlisle, remember when we were like that?”

 

“What are you talking about, my love? We’re still like that. I love you very much, my Esme.”

 

As I looked at Carlisle and Esme looking at each other, I questioned if Edward looked at me like that. Looking up into his beautiful face, I had my answer…oh, hell yes.

 

“I was just discussing with Isabella the plans for your upcoming wedding, Edward,” Lauren purred, batting her lashes. Seriously?

 

“Oh, and what did you decide?” Esme questioned, her face still glowing.

 

“Yes, Lauren, what did we decide?”

 

I had already made up my mind about her planning my wedding. The second I knew it was the same trashy woman from the parking lot, I knew.

 

“Well…” she muttered uncomfortably, “She has, um…” Keep digging… “I thought…”

 

Edward’s arms were still wrapped around my waist and he was softly moving his thumbs in a circular motion on my hips. I couldn’t take her stupidity anymore; she clearly had no idea how to handle a situation like this. She could spew venom, but that was about it.

 

“Lauren, allow me,” I interrupted her rambling.

 

The look on her face was of relief; that was about to change.

 

“You see, Esme, Lauren here has somewhat of a history with MY Edward,” I said removing myself from his very talented fingers and then encouraging him to sit in my chair. “She recently showed her true colors one night when they were out together.”

 

I looked to Edward’s face, he was confused.

 

“I had been eating dinner with my father and my niece when I saw Lauren standing in what would be considered prostitute attire.” I looked directly at Esme as I continued, “Lauren here didn’t know me from Adam, and when she decided that Edward was looking at me too long, she decided to flip me off. Thankfully, my niece didn’t see the gesture.”

 

The look on Esme’s face was of concern.

 

“Now, I have pretty tough skin when it comes to those things, I simply thought she wanted me to know her IQ.”

 

Carlisle let out a snort of laughter.

 

“However, as a professional, I would’ve never acted toward any of my clients as she has toward me while you, Esme, were out of the room just now.”

 

Esme quickly looked to Lauren and then to Edward.

 

“Edward, Lauren simply cannot believe you’re marrying someone like me and are only doing it out of contractual obligation between our fathers.”

 

Before Esme or Edward could question, I dealt my final blow.

 

“So, while I realize that Lauren is a friend of the family, if you want me to marry you, Edward, it’ll have to be planned by someone who doesn’t want to climb up your dick, cutting my throat on the way.”

 

You could have heard a pin drop in that room.

 

“But…we had a deal,” Lauren’s voice now sounded desperate.

 

I then turned back to face her, “What deal?” I demanded. No one spoke as Lauren looked desperately at Edward. “I said, what deal?” my voice a little louder.

 

“Lauren owes the family quite a bit of money and this was how we arranged for her to pay it back,” Carlisle finally answered.

 

This clearly had nothing to do with me. I could care less who she owed money to; she was not getting anywhere near my wedding. I quickly pulled my phone from my purse and dialed Charlotte’s number.

 

It rang three times before she answered. “Sick of Lauren already?” she chuckled into the phone.

 

“Cut the shit, Charlotte, I need a name.”

 

“A-alright,” she responded startled.

 

“I want someone who’s new to the business, who’ll be more interested in the planning of my wedding than bedding my husband,” I looked directly into Lauren’s ashen face. “Oh, yes, and I need her to be Irish, the wedding will be mostly in Gaelic and I don’t want her confused.”

 

“Wow, I’m having a proud moment here; you’re cutting her where it matters. Excuse me, I’m feeling verclumpt.”

 

I ignored Charlotte’s sarcasm; I was mad and I wanted to stay that way.

 

“Maggie O’Toole. She’s been trying to get her business rolling, but she’s still wet behind the ears.”

 

I looked at Esme as I responded, “Good thing I’m registering for towels then.”

 

Charlotte gave me the number and I made a point of calling while I was still sitting in Lauren’s office. I wanted Lauren to know she messed with the wrong woman when she pulled her little stunt.

 

Maggie was available immediately that day and lucky for me, so was Edward. I said a quick goodbye complete with a ‘go to hell’ smirk to Lauren and out the door we went.

 

Maggie’s shop was only a few blocks from Saint Patrick’s church, where Alice and Jasper, as well as Edward and I, would be married.

 

I knew Maggie’s was the place we needed to be when we pulled up to the shop. There was nothing cold or sterile about it, it was night-and-day different from Lauren’s.

 

Maggie was a young, beautiful woman; I would have guessed her to be in her late twenties. She was a little taller than I was, with beautiful red ringlets of hair falling around her pale face that was sprinkled with freckles, and her bright green eyes sparkled excitedly. She was the poster child for all things Irish.

 

She invited us into her shop that was so welcoming. Her furnishings were all soft and neutral. The music that played quietly in the background was pleasant and not too disturbing. But the best thing was the wonderful smell of freshly baked Irish scones. Walking into her shop reminded me of visiting my grandmother when I was a little girl.

 

“Please have a seat, I have the tea on, and you can’t have a good conversation without a proper cup of tea and a good scone.”

 

I looked to Esme, who had already fallen in love with Maggie.

 

I let Esme take the lead and do the introductions.

 

“Ah, lass, so I’m betting that you’ll be using the Cullen colors, yes?” Maggie’s thick Irish accent questioned.

 

“Yes, Ma’am,” I responded.

 

“Ah, fine, fine,” she nodded her head in agreement.

 

“And will you be using the Gaelic?”

 

“Yes, Ma’am, I want everything to be a traditional Irish wedding, down to the Jamison whiskey at the bar.”

 

As we continued to sip our tea and get a feel for the type of wedding we would have, the better I felt about having Maggie work for us.

 

“Maggie, I have only one question for you,” Esme’s soft voice filled the table.

 

“Yes, love, what worries you so?”

 

“I’m concerned that you’re so new to this and have no connections, you do realize the size of the wedding?”

 

I watched as Maggie chuckled softly to herself. “Aye, I know what you’re getting at, but the bigger question is, love, do you have the quid to pay for it?”

 

Yes, Maggie would do just fine.

 

A/n

 

So many of you guessed it, the pleather bitch is Lauren. The question is now, why does she owe money?

 

Again I thank my beta for making this as nice as it is and again not yelling at me for testing her last nerve.

 

To everyone who has reviewed and made me giggle with your words of encouragement and love of this story, I thank you!

 

Pictures for this and all the previous chapters can be found on facebook, stop by and have a good laugh as I do post teasers over there.

 

One other thing, someone asked me what the ages for these characters are. I thought long and hard and decided not to give them any, only Abby who is still four. I will let you decide for yourself.

 

  1. Chapter 19

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 19

 

Me: Alright, listen up. I’m going to ask you two questions and you’ll answer both of them or else I stop typing and end this story.

 

Edward: (blinks eyes)

 

Me: Good. First question: Care to explain pleather bitch?

 

Edward: (sighs) Lauren Mallory. Lauren has been around my family for as long as I can remember. We’ve gone to the same schools, the same churches, you name it. When Lauren was fifteen I think, she got involved with a group of kids that were no good. She was picked up for shoplifting and drug possession. Her father contacted mine and all the charges were wiped clean. Her family sent her away to rehab and for a while, everything seemed great. It was about four or five years ago that she met this guy on line and she told her family he was this wealthy guy from Italy. He sent her flowers and jewelry and called her on the phone all the time. He always told her he was going to come to America and ask her father for her hand in marriage. Lauren fell for this hook, line, and sinker. Turns out he was a con artist that was running a scam. He was really this slime ball that lived out of a hotel in the seedy part of Vegas. By the time Lauren figured this out, he had tapped into her bank accounts and stolen every dime she had. Furthermore, he opened several credit accounts in her name and ran up bills totaling over one hundred thousand dollars. He pretty much destroyed her financially.

 

Me: Damn. No wonder she was freaked out about not getting the job. I kind of feel sorry for her…almost.

 

Edward: It was hard for her. She’d just finished her marketing degree and wanted to open up her own event planning company. After what he did to her, though, she wasn’t able to do much of anything. My father suggested I help her out and so I called in a few favors and had her debts paid. I also had a few of my business associates throw a few parties her way. Somehow she thought I was doing this as a way of pursuing her. That night in the parking lot, I had called her and told her I wanted to meet with her. I told her that there was no chance for her and me to be anything more than friends. She asked me if there was another girl and I told her about Bella. That was right before I got out of the car and saw Charlie in the parking lot. Lauren put two and two together and, well, you know the rest.

 

Me: So you were going to let her plan your wedding as a payback?

 

Edward: Yes, but in light of things, I emailed her and told her to consider her debt paid.

 

Me: So there was never anything between you two?

 

Edward: Just a family and business acquaintance.

 

Me: Alright, second question, tell me about Angus.

 

Edward: Angus is a complex and mysterious man. If you judge him by his looks, you’re going to be surprised. Angus came to me one day as if by magic.

 

Me: Magic?

 

Edward: Yes, I was sitting in my office and I looked up and he was sitting in a chair across from me. I jumped and grabbed my gun, but he had it out of my hand in the blink of an eye. I honestly thought I was a dead man. He then told me he didn’t want to harm me; he only wanted to work for me. He explained that he had left Ireland and needed a job. He didn’t have any paperwork so he couldn’t go through the proper channels. I did some checking up on him and found out that he was actually a solider back in Ireland, much like the Navy SEALs here in the U.S. However, that was where things stopped, as if he had vanished into thin air. Angus told me he would answer any question I had about him. I asked him why he chose me and he snickered and said that I needed his help the most. I hired him on the spot and then proceeded to fire every man that Angus had managed to get past on his way to my office. A year later, he came to my office and told me he had someone he wanted me to meet, his brother, Shamus. Shamus was in pretty much the same position he was in and needed work, but had no papers. Shamus then proceeded to hack into my accounts in less than five seconds and so I hired him as well.

 

Me: So, Angus and Shamus are brothers?

 

Edward: Yes, though you couldn’t tell by looking at them.

 

Me: So, Bella handled herself pretty well, huh?

 

Edward: Yes, she did. She never ceases to amaze me.

 

Me: That makes two of us.

 

Edward: Any more questions?

 

Me: None that you’ll answer.

 

Edward: You catch on quick, love.

 

“Bella, can I ask you a question?”

 

I looked up from my computer screen and into Maggie’s green eyes. “Of course, is something wrong?”

 

Choosing Maggie as my wedding planner had been the very best thing I could have done. She had everything mapped out for me and even went as far as to contract a company in Ireland to make the traditional fabric I would use for accent pieces.

 

Although I wanted to use the Cullen colors, I didn’t want to go overboard. Edward refused to wear a kilt and I agreed as long as he wore one for me when we were alone. He agreed with a cocky grin. He knew that I wanted to answer that age-old question for myself and find out what he wore under it, if anything.

 

Maggie had taken over Alice’s wedding as well. Once Edward and Esme found out how disrespectful Lauren had acted, she was told her services were no longer needed.

 

“Nothing is wrong, per se; I just have a delicate situation that I don’t know how to handle.”

 

I scooted away from my desk and made my way over to the electric teapot I had behind my desk. I quickly make a pot and then settled back into my chair. “The tea will be ready shortly, but go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind.”

 

Maggie took a deep breath and then squared her shoulders. “Angus asked me to supper.”

 

I waited patiently for her to finish, but she seemed stuck.

 

“And…?” I finally gestured with my hands for her to continue, drawing out the word.

 

“Well, I don’t want to do something inappropriate.”

 

I couldn’t help but smile. This was mine and Esme’s doing. After our initial meeting, Maggie had followed us out to the car where Angus stood holding the door open. I noticed that his usually stiff stature was suddenly off kilter as he looked at her. Esme had nudged me and I could only respond with a quick, “uh huh.”

 

That night, we set about a plan to introduce the two. I, being who I was, aka the fiancee, did what any woman in my position would do, I called Edward.

 

“Hey, babe,” I cooed into the phone.

 

“Hello, croi freisin milis.” (sweetheart)

 

“I need a huge favor.”

 

“Of course, anything.”

 

“I mean I’ll make it worth your while.”

 

“You don’t have to bribe me, love. Just ask me so I can make it happen.”

 

“But you don’t know what I have to bribe you with, you might like it.”

 

“Alright, ask me and then tell me what you’re willing to trade.”

 

“Okay, I’ll give you a repeat performance of your birthday gift if you tell Angus that it’s fine to ask Maggie out.”

 

There was silence for a short time and then I could hear chuckling. “Did he put you up to this?”

 

“No, I noticed him looking at her and I thought since they’re both just-off-the-boat Irish, they might enjoy each other’s company.”

 

I knew that Angus had left his home in Ireland to work for Edward, and I also knew Maggie had left when she couldn’t find work.

 

“I’ll drop the hint.”

 

When I talked to Maggie later about Angus, she looked like she wanted to protest.

 

“Do you not like Angus, Maggie?” I didn’t really look at her reaction to his ogling. Maybe she didn’t care for him.

 

“That’s the problem; I like him, a lot. I just don’t want to cause problems.”

 

I smiled at her as I began to pour each of us a cup of tea. “So what are you going to wear on this date of yours?”

 

“I’m not sure. I guess it’ll depend on where he takes me.”

 

“Oh, I have a pretty good indication it’ll be over the top, so dress nice.”

 

“I think it’d be better to wait until after your wedding, though.”

 

“Oh, no you don’t, Maggie, you call him right now and tell him you’ll go out this week.”

 

Maggie looked at me with big eyes and quickly donned a bigger smile. She followed my direction and called Angus. Their first date would be tomorrow night.

 

Later that evening as I was trying to get ready to leave, I was finding myself quite distracted. “Edward Anthony, if you don’t let me finish getting dressed, we’ll miss our own engagement party.”

 

Edward only continued to nip and lick my earlobe and neck. If I knew we could get away without going, I would have taken this to a new level, and a more horizontal surface, but we had a room full of people waiting for us.

 

“Besides, I’d let you deal with your Ma all by yourself.”

 

That was the preverbal ice bucket as he pulled away with a deep groan.

 

Our party was being held at Pieces, the club I had gone to with Edward on our first date. It seemed only fitting to have it there as that was where he revealed his intentions.

 

Maggie had joined Esme in planning this event and as we made our way into the bar, the cheers rang loud and the music stopped temporarily.

 

Carlisle and my father were standing at the bar as we greeted everyone. I kissed my father and then hugged Charlotte. Having my dad and Charlotte together turned out to be a wonderful thing. I could tell they cared for each other and it wouldn’t be long before they would also be celebrating an engagement.

 

Maggie had found ribbon and paper products made in the colors of my wedding. Each table had a flower arrangement and as I looked closer, I noticed smatterings of shamrocks around the bottom. All of the drink napkins were of the Cullen plaid with “EIC” displayed in gold in the center. Yes, Maggie was perfect. Alice had continued with the theme and had my shoes covered as well.

 

The drinks flowed and the laughter sounded as story after story was told. I learned that Edward was such a Superman fan and that he had worn a cape around his neck until he was six. He learned that I took ballet lessons for three weeks and then was expelled from dance school.

 

Esme had a collage of photos that were currently being shown on the large flat screen. It was fun to watch as photo after photo of both of us growing up was displayed. Honestly, even as an awkward teen, my Edward was hot.

 

As Edward held me, wrapping his chest to my back, a picture of me dressed in my first communion dress flashed on the screen. The crown of flowers that encircled the top of my curly hair and the white dress that was so delicately covered in lace made me smile at the memory.

 

“I want all of our girls to look just like their mother,” Edward’s gentle words whispered into my ear.

 

“I hate to disagree, but I want all of our children to look just like their dad.”

 

Edward excused himself to go to the restroom and I took that opportunity to head to the bar. The night had been perfect and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

 

“Isabella, I finally get to offer my best wishes,” a slurred voice sang in my ear. I turned to my left to come face to face with none other than Gianna.

 

“Oh, god, what security guard did you blow to get in here?”

 

I was having too good of a night to let her ruin it.

 

“My, my, such words coming from a so-called lady.”

 

I didn’t want to even dignify her with an answer. She was the true spawn of Satan and I wanted nothing to do with her.

 

“Listen, I think you should know that in time, Edward will get tired of this Pollyanna image you have going on and want a woman who will do very dirty things to him, and you know what? I’ll be waiting.”

 

Maybe it was the three martinis I had already had, maybe it was the fact I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, but what I was certain of was the fact that I had watched Edward take his place behind her, listening intently to everything being said.

 

“Really, Gianna, and what makes you think I don’t do really dirty things to him already?”

 

Edward only smiled and wiggled his eyebrows, he knew I had this under control; he was going to enjoy the show.

 

“Oh, dear little Isabella, we both know you’ll enter your wedding chamber pure as the driven snow. You most likely haven’t even seen a naked man up close.” She took another drink from her wine glass. “Edward is the type of man who needs the type of woman who’s comfortable with her sexuality; you, my dear, have not even discovered yours yet.”

 

The bartender handed me my drink at that point and I turned to Gianna again. “Gianna, I may not have frequent flier miles on my bed sheets, but I do know how to make Edward very happy. As for him running to you for those dirty things, well, we’ll have to see about that, right, honey?” As I said the latter, I looked directly at Edward.

 

“Not a chance, croi freisin milis, you know all my dirty secrets.” He moved past Gianna and lifted me by my hips and placed me on the top of the bar where he kissed me good and deep.

 

The catcalls from around the bar caused both Edward and I to chuckle, thus breaking the kiss.

 

“We’re definitely finishing that kiss later.”

 

Had I not been so distracted by Edward lips, I would have overheard Gianna call someone to say, “Va bene, sto cazzo dentro.” (Alright, I’m fucking in.)

 

A/N

 

Thank you to everyone who continues to read and review, I am so thankful for each one of you. My beta who again makes things wonderful. Dont forget that photos of this chapter are available on the facebook page.

 

  1. Chapter 20

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 20

 

Me: Okay, so you cleared up a lot of things last chapter, but…

 

Edward: Don’t even think about it.

 

Me: But everyone wants to know about her.

 

Edward: Mathisson, leave it. I’m not ready to talk about her yet.

 

Me: Fine…

 

Edward: Come on, love, pouting gives you wrinkles. (cheeky wink)

 

Me: Just get on with it. (glares icily)

 

Edward: As you wish…

 

I loved Edward. I couldn’t say it enough. After all the pushing him away I had done, I found myself just loving everything about him. Last night at Alice’s rehearsal dinner, he sat beside me with his entire body gently wrapped around mine. Even as the toasts were made and the gifts handed out, he kept at least his fingers touching mine. Even when Sherman stood and made a slurred drunken toast, Edward only snuggled closer to me. It was still a mystery how Eileen got the large yellowing bruise on her chin even makeup couldn’t hide; well, a mystery to those who didn’t know Esme.

 

Edward even chuckled as we watched Eileen pouring leftover wine from the tables into empty bottles and then slipping out to her car. She must have had at least a case of wine in the trunk of her car by now.

 

“Some things just never change,” Esme whispered into my ear.

 

We both giggled as we watched her begin to shove leftover bread into napkins and then into her huge bulging purse.

 

Emmett was red-faced with laughter as he sat beside Edward. “What has him so giddy?” I questioned Edward.

 

“He just told me he made it a point to let a good dose of backwash back into the bottle from their table, followed by half of the salt from the shaker.”

 

I couldn’t help it; I began to laugh as well.

 

Edward insisted I stay with him at his condo. He had been doing that a lot lately, actually. In the past few months, he had gone to great lengths to get me into his bed every night. He even broke out the pouty lips the other night. Who knew a man that carried a gun and had the status of Edward could pout like a three-year-old child, it made me smile.

 

Edward had found us the perfect house. It was huge, and I had decided not to argue with him on this one. He wanted to give us something nice and in a safe neighborhood, and I wanted that as well. So with a heavy heart, I placed my house on the market. I didn’t even get the sign all the way into the ground before Angus wrote me a check. I handed over half to Angela, and as soon as I returned from my honeymoon, I would have all my things moved into my new home.

 

Today was Alice’s wedding and I was happy to announce that my dad would have two dates, myself and Charlotte. She made him happy, and I meant face-numbing-from-grinning happy. We had a long talk about it after dad told me, we cried and hugged, and she swore she would never make me call her mom. I still loved her to death.

 

Tanya was in charge tonight. We had been slowly making that transition. Edward and I had decided that starting and raising a family was my top priority. The baby-making efforts would begin on the honeymoon, so no condoms, and no pill.

 

I had no doubt that Tanya would do a perfect job. She and Shamus were so good together; he was just what she needed to help her cross the finish line. I always knew she would make it.

 

Edward insisted on sending a car for us. I told him it was too much, but there was just no arguing with him on certain things.

 

Charlotte and my father were already in the back seat of the limo when Angus held the door open for me. I greeted him with a kiss to his cheek; I had grown to love Angus. He and Maggie were perfect for one another.

 

“Well, Charlotte, are you ready to see what our Tanya is made of?”

 

“No, I’m ready to watch you fidget as she handles everything perfectly.”

 

Charlotte was right; I was having a very hard time letting go. Maggie had been amazing, as she had made fast friends with Tanya and they made an incredible team.

 

“Listen, I’m going tonight to enjoy myself. I want to kick up my heels and dance with my two favorite guys,” I leaned over and kissed my dad’s cheek.

 

“One hundred bucks says you won’t last fifteen minutes before you’ll be checking on the food.”

 

I extended my hand out to her and we shook on it.

 

I didn’t care how many times I saw Edward in a tux; he took my breath away every time. He was waiting as I tried to get out of the limo. I said tried because the dress I was wearing wasn’t cooperating. I had found it one day as I was shopping for another event. It was hanging in the display window and the second I saw it, I just knew it was perfect for me. I wore my hair up tonight, at Edward’s request of course. The man loved my neck and I loved when he loved on my neck.

 

“My god you’re gorgeous,” he said as his arms wrapped tightly around me.

 

“Well, hello to you, too, handsome.”

 

Edward’s eyes were devouring me. I felt positively naked under his intense gaze. Not in an inappropriate way, but in a loving and desired way. He would do anything for me and truly loved me without conditions. He could go the rest of our lives and never tell me he loved me again as long as he looked at me like he was right now.

 

“Okay, no lingering around after the reception, I want to see this dress on my floor as soon as possible.”

 

I could only smile as my thoughts reflected his words.

 

I noticed security was even tighter than the Hale wedding. I held firmly to Edward’s arm as we passed suit after suit. I couldn’t imagine how many guns were here today.

 

Saint Patrick’s church was one of the most beautiful churches in Chicago. It was built in the early nineteen hundreds and was on the national historical list. Its stone bricks and wooden doors reminded me of a castle from the medieval times. The beautiful landscaping was heightened with a pond and fountain that sat majestically at the entrance.

 

However, nothing could compare to the interior. It was breathtaking.

 

“Isabella, how lovely to see you,” my ogling was interrupted by Eileen’s words.

 

“Oh, goodness, congratulations on such a wonderful day,” I replied honestly.

 

Alice and Jasper were perfect for one another. Edward had told me Jasper had gotten his business back in the black for the first time in years. Sherman was even given a small job so that he could continue to support his family. Thing were definitely looking up for them.

 

As we continued to say hello and make our way to the massive wooden entry doors, I paused at the first step, my mind wandering back to Angela’s wedding. No way in hell would Renee show her face here today, although the mystery car had remained just that, a mystery.

 

Once inside the doors, and after doing the sign of the cross across my chest, I noticed Shamus was waiting patiently with his elbow extended in my direction.

 

“I have to go play my part, but Shamus will not leave your side,” Edward whispered as he kissed my temple.

 

“Well, this is my lucky day then,” I smiled as I spoke, addressing both Shamus and Edward. “How many girls can say they have two incredibly handsome dates to the same wedding?”

 

Shamus could only smile as his eyes were clearly on my chin and not my eyes. After all this time, I was still having a hard time with that.

 

“Yes, well, he’s only my stand-in. I get you back.”

 

He eyed Shamus with his silent warning, although it was a wasted look as Shamus was head-over-heels in love with Tanya. Esme had informed me that he had given her a bracelet, not a diamond one like ours, but a gorgeous bracelet nonetheless.

 

“Are you ready?” Shamus’s question this time was in perfect English.

 

“Shamus, god love you for trying so hard for her.”

 

His face was all smiles as he began to lead me down the aisle.

 

“I love her. She’s good with me.”

 

“Yes, Shamus, she is good with you.”

 

I couldn’t help but cry as I watched Alice’s entrance into the cathedral. Her dress was breathtaking as she gently glided down the aisle. The detail of the lace that rested on the hem and then gradually faded as it went up the dress was spectacularly intricate. My favorite was the sheer lace shrug that covered her shoulders, the veil trailing behind her just as gracefully. Esme was on her left and Carlisle on her right. I watched as Alice graciously smiled and made eye contact with as many people as she could as she made her way to Jasper.

 

Turning my attention to the front of the church, a single tear began to fall. The little ring bearer had decided that his place was next to Edward. He stood in all his little glory, all proud and tall, hanging on to Edward’s hand with one hand and the ring pillow with the other. For a brief moment, I imagined our son doing the same, feeling important and safe.

 

Due to the fact that the Whitlock family was not from Ireland, the ceremony would be entirely in English. I leaned over and told Shamus that if he didn’t understand something, to tell me and I would say it in Gaelic, but he never did.

 

I watched as Esme wiped her eyes as Carlisle raised Alice’s veil and kissed her cheek. He leaned into Jasper and whispered something into his ear, and I was certain it wasn’t congratulations as no smile appeared on his face.

 

I watched in awe as they exchanged their vows. I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about my own wedding being not that far away. I looked to my right and noticed Maggie looking around. That had been another change; since the Lauren incident, Maggie and Charlotte had entered into a partnership. Maggie was being recommended for all the events that came through Charlotte’s office.

 

“What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

 

And with those simple words, Alice was now a Whitlock, and it was time to party.

 

Since Edward was in the wedding party, he had to ride with them to the reception. Angus drove me and Shamus, and Ben and Angela decided to tag along since neither one of them wanted to avoid drinking. As we pulled up to the venue, Shamus tried to discretely adjust his gun that rested in the small of his back, while Ben did the same. My father looked the other direction.

 

I knew Edward’s guys carried; I just didn’t realize that Ben did as well.

 

This was it, the moment I had been waiting on. We had worked so hard getting this just right and I silently prayed that Alice would be happy.

 

Due to the sheer number of guests at the wedding, we rented a local concert hall. We had to hire an additional three hundred wait staff to accommodate the nearly nine hundred guests. Alice was just as picky as Rose when it came to her guests being happy.

 

“God, I missed you.”

 

Edward quickly wrapped his hands around my waist as I was leaning over to sign the guest book.

 

“Shit, babe, you scared me.”

 

I quickly turned and met his gaze. I followed his line of sight as he was looking at my signature. His eyes had a hint of sadness and pain.

 

“What’s wrong, babe?”

 

“You signed it Swan,” his voice was hoarse.

 

I placed my hand on his cheek and tilted it toward mine, “Babe, that’s still my name.”

 

“I know; I just want to see Cullen instead.”

 

I smiled as I stroked his cheek. “Soon, now come on and buy me a drink, handsome.”

 

Edward escorted me to my table. My dad and Charlotte were already seated. I noticed they were having one of those silent conversations that couples who were in love often had. She was good for him and he deserved to be happy. Hell, everyone deserved to be happy, even Lauren and Gianna, just not with my Edward.

 

Speaking of Gianna, where was she? I knew for certain the Volturi were invited to the wedding, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember seeing them at the church. But then again, there had been a full house.

 

As I took my seat next to Charlotte, I made it a point to motion toward my wrist, “Pay up, babe.”

 

My dad chuckled as Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Alright, so you lasted longer than fifteen minutes. But double or nothing says you won’t last the cutting of the cake.”

 

I chuckled at her only because I knew Maggie had suggested that the cake be cut as soon as they walked in, that way it would be out of the way and the staff could cut it and box it up.

 

“Alright, twisted sister, you’re on.”

 

Less than a minute later, the man Maggie had hired to act as master of ceremonies announced the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Jasper Whitlock. I then sat back and giggled as the cake was rolled to the middle of the dance floor. Alice had gone with a traditional white cake. Her cake was a huge five-layer geometrical design, with her beautiful peacock blue ribbon around one of the layers. It was truly a work of art.

 

Since this was such a large event, Maggie had hired a company to come in and set up massive big-screen televisions so the people in the back could see what was happening at the head table, which I had to admit was brilliant.

 

I watched as the camera guy stood beside the three photographers to capture the moment. Once the cake was wheeled away, I placed my hand palm-side up parallel to Charlotte’s face. The entire table giggled as she slapped it away.

 

Charlotte should have bet how long it would take before Edward found his way to our table. Alice had wanted only eight people per table, but Edward quickly made his place known beside me.

 

“I don’t like being in the same room and not being able to touch you,” he spoke into my shoulder.

 

Glasses around the room began to clank as forks touched them. I smiled at Edward and whispered, “Let’s practice for our own wedding.”

 

He smiled and kissed me gently. “As long as we get to practice for the honeymoon later, I’m all for it.”

 

Dinner was served and I couldn’t help moaning as I tasted the grilled lamb chops. The garlic mashed potatoes added just a little something. The food was so good that I wanted to lick the plate clean. I didn’t, but I wanted to.

 

Once all the dishes were cleared away and the toasts were given, it was time for the dancing to begin. Esme had hired a team of Irish dancers to come in and get things started. Although I had witnessed theses dances many times, I was still in awe of the speed in which their feet moved.

 

Once the dancers finished, it was time for the traditional wedding dances to occur. I watched as Edward glided his cousin around the dance floor. Her name was Shannon and she was attending Harvard school of medicine. He told me she would return to Ireland and work for the government as payback for the tuition she had received.

 

Once the bridal party left the floor, the music for the dollar dance came on. I watched as Alice’s face lit up and she began clapping. The dollar dance had been around for as long as I could remember. The bride was placed in the middle of the floor and she danced as her guests threw money at her.

 

Edward dug into his pocket and handed me a wad of cash. He took my hand and we joined the other guests as Alice began to dance. I didn’t know who had more fun, Alice dancing or me throwing twenty-dollar bills at her.

 

Once my wad of cash was gone, Edward leaned over as asked me if I wanted a drink. I fanned myself and said yes and told him I would meet him back at our table. I quickly kissed him and he told me he loved me.

 

I hadn’t taken three steps when Fig came rushing toward me.

 

“Bella, I’m so sorry to bug you, but I don’t know who else to get.” The look on his face was of pure panic.

 

“Fig, what’s wrong?”

 

“It’s Harley, err…Tanya. She’s in the back room crying, she said she was going to get in big trouble, but she won’t say why.”

 

I looked around, but I couldn’t see Maggie or Charlotte. It was a good thing I had already won that bet. “Alright, Fig, show me where she is.”

 

I motioned for him to go ahead of me as he headed toward the kitchen. The music had changed and it was now the electric slide. I looked and saw Alice motioning for me to come dance with her. I mouthed in a minute and continued to follow Fig.

 

The room was so crowded it was hard to keep him in sight. Once we reached the hall to the kitchen, Mike pointed to the door at the end of the hall.

 

“She’s behind a shelf in the stockroom.”

 

“Thanks, Mike, now go tell Edward where I am and that I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

 

I could hear my heels clicking on the tiles of the hall floor and the clattering of dishes as the kitchen staff was working on clean up. I reached the door and quickly turned the knob. The room was dimly lit, and I tried to feel along the wall for a light switch. Switching it on, I called out for Tanya, but heard nothing.

 

The storage room was large and had a number of rows of metal shelves. I continued further into the room, moving around the maze of shelves until I heard sniffling. I quickened my steps and then rounded the corner only to stop dead in my tracks.

 

“What the fuck are you doing here?”

 

A/N

 

For those of you who are not Catholic or Orthodox, the sign of the cross on your chest is just as it sounds. You take your hand and make the sign of the cross starting at your forehead, then to the center of your chest, the next part depends on if you are Catholic or Orthodox. Catholics will move their hand to the left side of their chest then to their right over their heart. Orthodox will start on the right and go to the left. Sometimes you’ll see people place their entire hand in the middle of their chest afterward as a sign of holding in the blessing.

 

The dollar dance is something I’ve seen only at Greek weddings. It’s just as described, but I’ll tell you no one threw twenties at me during mine.

 

Now, no pitchforks are allowed after this cliffy I just lead you to. The next chapter will be all EPOV. I know some of you are dancing as you’ve wanted that from the start. Remember, I’m a HEA whore and this story will have that, we just have to stir up the mix a little.

 

Again, many thanks to my awesome beta, Dollybigmomma. Girl, I don’t want to even think of what this would be like without you.

 

A massive thank you to all my reviewers, thank you for your words of encouragement.

 

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook page where our lovely and talented Gemma does her magic and gives a face to the chapters.

 

  1. Chapter 21

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 21

 

Me: Oh, my god!

 

Edward: Mathisson, honey, calm down.

 

Me: How can you say that?

 

Edward: Take a deep breath.

 

Me: (closes my eyes and breathes in deeply)

 

Edward: Now, how long exactly has it been since your husband deployed?

 

Me: A while.

 

Edward: A while, you look…tense.

 

Me: (bitch brow)

 

Edward: Listen, I have a good friend who’s here to help you relax.

 

****enter Henry Cavill****

 

Me: Oh, my god!

 

Edward: Mathisson, isn’t he on your five celebrities list?

 

Me: Yes. He’s number one.

 

Edward: Then have fun, love, and let Henry “take care” of you.

 

Me: (simply nodding head and drooling over Henry)

 

Edward: Good girl. (Wipes drool trail up as Mathisson leaves) Now that Mathisson is being, um, taken care of, we can get on to the story. For the next chapter, we won’t be having Mathisson join us. This chapter will be in my point of view and the next…well, you’ll just have to wait and see…

 

I had entered hell. It had been six weeks; six weeks of scouring the city, six weeks of no word, no clues, not a single lead. It was as if she had just vanished into thin air. I had been over that night a hundred times in my head and it always ended the same, with her gone.

 

I had watched as she crossed the floor with her glass of wine. I think she was only carrying it to make people think she was merely a guest. She was too much of an amazing business woman and friend to leave things in just Tanya’s hands. She had been making scuttle inquires all night; she thought I didn’t see her, but I did. Why didn’t I keep better eyes on her?

 

I had failed her, I was supposed to protect her, care for her, love her, and I had most certainly failed her.

 

When she wasn’t at the table when I got back that night, I went looking for her. I asked everyone if they had seen where she went, but no one had seen anything. I sent Fig and Jacob to search the room and I had Charlotte go see if she was in the ladies’ room.

 

I would never forget the absolute panic I felt as I saw her shamrock pendant lying on the dirty floor not far from her broken shoe. It was clear to everyone she had put up a fight. Whoever had taken her had suffered some damage as well. It would be nothing to what they would receive when I got to them, their death would be slow and excruciatingly painful.

 

I’d held onto her shamrock since I had found it on that floor. The chain was broken and skin and blood were found in the links, her blood, my Bella’s blood. They had ripped it from her beautiful neck. I would be breaking theirs.

 

Charlie had called in every available cop in Chicago to look for her, even the commissioner got involved. Bella had helped a lot of people when she had planned their events, making many friends. The commissioner called in the FBI and their experts; they turned up nothing, not even a blood splatter or a fingerprint.

 

The first week I didn’t sleep a wink, I couldn’t. I began to search every abandoned house and every warehouse in this city. I questioned every hooker, drug dealer, and homeless person, but no one had seen a thing. Even after I announced a ten million dollar reward, I was no closer to having her back with me.

 

I decided that God was punishing me, not for just the crimes I had committed, but for the dishonestly I had shown Bella. There was still something she didn’t know. She was so innocent and didn’t deserve this.

 

When I turned sixteen, my parents told me that I needed to start thinking about my future as head of this family. I had internally rolled my eyes. I didn’t want a wife; I wanted to have women throw themselves at my feet. I wanted a different girl every day, no strings attached.

 

When I was seventeen, my dad had again brought up the subject. I was no closer to accepting his demand that I take a wife. He told me he had a girl he wanted me to meet. He told me everything about her; I wanted nothing to do with her. However, in this life, even when you were at the top, you still didn’t get to decide everything for yourself. I knew I had no choice not to get married; legitimate Irish-born children were a must.

 

However, I did decide that if I had to marry and have these children, I would do it on my terms. So even before I met this girl, my seventeen-year-old arrogant ass decided I would be married in name only. I would have my different girl every night and this farce of a wife of mine would just have to deal with it.

 

My father took me to a popular mall here in Chicago. I watched as groups of giggling girls walked passed us. I learned a long time ago that a quick lick of my lips and a wink could get amazing responses.

 

“There she is, Son, the young lady in the blue shirt.”

 

I turned my attention to the bench that sat outside a popular teen store. The dark-headed beauty was sitting with her back to me. Suddenly, she stood up and grabbed her bag from the floor, effectively giving me a complete and clear view of her face.

 

My world literally stood still as I watched her slowly stand. Her perfect hair, kissable lips, and skin so perfect had me spellbound. I stood there as my heart and soul left my body, they were now hers; the beautiful nameless girl held my heart in the palm of her perfect little hands.

 

“Her name is Isabella Swan. She’s the daughter of a good friend of mine.”

 

My eyes never left her as I questioned my father. “She isn’t one of us then?”

 

“Not in the since you’re referring. She knows nothing about you; you’ll have to win her on your own merit.”

 

My father’s words were like ice water, effectively drowning the fire that had begun to rage in my soul. “What do you mean, by my own merit?”

 

My father only smiled as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “I mean the arrangement her father and I made specifically states that she must choose you and not the other way around.”

 

I turned quickly in shock, as this was never the norm. The girl I would marry would have been raised to serve me and would be expected to come to me willingly.

 

“Her father isn’t in the family as a member, he’s an asset. He keeps me informed of the Volturi’s criminal activity.”

 

I looked at my father and waited for him to finish.

 

“I helped him out several years ago. His wife was heavy into heroin and she was threatening to take his girls and run.”

 

“Girls?” I quickly questioned.

 

“Yes, Isabella is a twin.” He pointed to a dark-haired girl that was beside her. I looked to the girl who looked similar to Isabella. Although she was her twin, I felt nothing in my chest as I took in her smile and body.

 

“So did he sell his daughter to you?”

 

“Edward, you may be seventeen and well on your way to leading this family, but watch your tongue, I will not hesitate to beat you to a bloody pulp.”

 

My father never made an empty threat. He would most certainly beat me for being disrespectful.

 

“She’s beautiful, Dad.”

 

I continued to watch as she spoke with one of the groups of girls that had passed me. Was she talking about me? Would she want me?

 

I watched as a large man approached the group of girls. His smile was huge as he wrapped his arm around Isabella. It hit me like a wrecking ball. What if she already had a boyfriend? What if she didn’t want me? What if she found out about my life and ran far away? I knew what this feeling was inside my chest. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted nothing to do with it. She was beautiful and she would only break me. Besides, I just wanted a wife in name only. I wanted a different girl hanging off my arm and my dick every night. I wanted to be the heartbreaker, not the heartbroken.

 

“That big guy that’s with her is her father. He agreed to meet here to do a formal introduction. Are you ready to meet your new bride?”

 

Even thought I knew the man that had his arms around her was her father, the hurt was still there. Isabella was not for me.

 

“No thanks, Dad, I’ll find a girl on my own.”

 

Those were famous last words. I left that day with the determination to forget about Isabella Swan. I saw her about three days later waiting in line to purchase movie tickets. I swore I would forget about her, even though I made my friend go over and buy a ticket. I had him tell her he had an emergency and couldn’t stay to watch the movie and give it to her.

 

The next time I saw her, she was holding hands with Devin O’Toole. He was a decent enough guy. He would give her a normal life with the house with the white picket fence and fill it with kids. That was what she needed, not a guy like me who wanted to play with her emotions. It didn’t lessen the hurt I felt as she laughed at something he said. I was done with Isabella Swan. I would go away to school and forget she existed, I had to.

 

I was invited to a back-to-school party at this guy’s house. I decided it was a fine time to start breaking some hearts. I sought out a girl who looked the most unlike Isabella. It didn’t take long before I found her. She was a bleached blonde with too much makeup and not enough common sense. I barely uttered a simple hi to her and then led her upstairs.

 

I was so pissed when I couldn’t finish. I stormed out of there; the girl was none the wiser as I was certain she was faking her moaning.

 

Not going to college wasn’t an option for me. My Ma was quite clear on the subject. She told me it took more than a shiny gun and a few threats to run our family. She was right, as I had seen firsthand how Aro and Sherman had made far too many bad business deals due to a severe lack of sound education-based know-how.

 

I also knew that having that kind of distance would put Isabella out of my head for good. So off I went to Dartmouth. I went to every party I could find for the first two weeks, but after several additional failures, I called my dad who flew out and took me to a specialist. When all of the tests came back normal, my father and I had a long talk about what he thought my problem was.

 

He told me that even in the best of men, the most feared and ruthless, there was one thing that could bring them to their knees. For me it appeared to be Isabella. My dad said he had no doubt that the reason I couldn’t be intimate with those other girls was because my heart wasn’t mine anymore, it was still back in Chicago with her. I didn’t want him to be right.

 

I was trying to study one afternoon out in the quad when I overheard a couple of girls talking about how they would give their boyfriends blowjobs instead of having sex. For whatever reason, I stopped listening after I heard that part. Later that night, I went to another party and this time I let the blonde go down on me. Having a girl between my legs that I didn’t have to be face-to-face with wasn’t sex for me. I could hold her hair and imagine it was whomever I wanted. It worked; I finished and so began my way of getting a release.

 

I finished school in three years and didn’t even wait around for graduation. I had more important things to do than walk across a stage and have my picture taken. I returned to Chicago and began to take the reins from my father. The transition was slow and tiresome. I had to make examples out of a number of people. By the time my father was completely ready to step down, my mother had again begun talking about a wife and kids for me.

 

I hadn’t seen Isabella Swan in nearly six years. My mother made her position on her desire for me to marry abundantly clear. I asked her if I could just go back to Ireland and pick out a woman. She gave me the one look that no son wanted from his mother. My father informed me that Isabella was still very single and he was happy to arrange a meeting. My mother jumped head first into that discussion by informing me and my father that Isabella was working with Rose on her reception.

 

That night as I stood inside my condo staring into the Chicago skyline, I made a decision. I was tired of running from my feelings. My heart had belonged to Isabella all this time and it was time I manned up and tried to win hers. I called my father and asked him to arrange a meeting with myself and Charlie. My next call was to my Ma.

 

“Alright, Ma, you were right, I’m going to try and win Isabella’s hand.”

 

Isabella certainly didn’t make it easy for me. She fought me at every turn. Gianna certainly tried to complicate matters.

 

It wasn’t until that day at Isabella’s sister Victoria’s grave that I felt like I had a real chance. I made inquires to find out who this guy, Jimmy, was that had supplied Victoria with the drugs that had killed her. There was not much out there to go on and so I let it drop.

 

I knew I frustrated Bella with all the women that ran in my circle. However, I never suspected Lauren would turn out the way she had. She and I were strictly business associates, at least on my end we were. Bella was quick to figure her out and put her in her place.

 

But now I was being punished. I had tried so hard to get her out of my system and now she was paying the price for my stupidity

 

It wasn’t even a week after Bella disappeared when Gianna came slithering into my office. Bella was right when she called her a snake. I didn’t trust her. So when she entered my office with her fake concern, I played her. I made her think I was glad to see her and even accepted her help in finding Bella. I knew better, she was feeling me out. She hoped that if Bella didn’t return that I would turn to her for comfort. What she didn’t know was that there would be no one else. Gianna was someone who would never warm my heart or my bed. If Bella never came back and she was dead, I would not be long after her. I didn’t want to be part of a world where she didn’t exist.

 

Once Gianna made her fake offer of help, she slithered her way back out my office. I quickly picked up the phone and put Fig on her tail. I reminded him that he had better do his job this time or he would be dealing with me personally. Fig was skating on thin ice with me as it was. Once I found out about Giggles, I gave him the opportunity to come clean. It wasn’t long before more and more women came forward claiming their children were his. Not all were, but an additional three were his. I reminded him that if he was man enough to climb into bed with a girl, he would be man enough to accept the consequences and responsibilities. He was working harder now to support those children. They all deserved the best and I assured Fig that he would be providing that.

 

Bella had been missing for ten days when Tonto came into my office. He had been beside me the entire time I scoured the back alleys and shady hotels. He offered to have his brothers come out and see if they could turn up anything. Tonto was a member of the Quileute Indian tribe. They were known to be expert hunters. It was rumored that they had exceptional abilities and could find anything. I told Tonto that I would cover their expenses and whatever they needed I would make certain they had it. That afternoon, Paul, Seth, and Quil arrived. They went to Bella’s house and searched; they came to my condo and did more searching. Five days later, they got back on the plane after turning up nothing. Whoever had taken Isabella had been thorough in hiding their trail.

 

At the two-week mark, Harley came into my office. She was visibly upset as she offered to return to the streets and see if she could get anything out of her old contacts. I rose out of my chair and gave her a hug. “Tanya, you know Bella would be pissed at us both if I let you do that.”

 

That was the first time I had ever called her Tanya, but it wouldn’t be the last. She had proved herself. That same week, Maggie informed me that she was continuing to plan the wedding. She told me she just knew Bella would be home soon.

 

My Ma made it a point to attend church every day and light a candle. She prayed twice a day for Bella’s safe return. I joined her in the evening. Even with all my money and connections, I still had nothing.

 

So here I sat, six weeks later and I was no closer to finding her than I was the minute she was taken. The sun was barley starting to rise as I heard a firm knock at my office door. I didn’t sleep anymore; there was no point, only images of Bella would flood my closed eyes.

 

“Enter!” I shouted as the knock sounded again.

 

I didn’t even turn to look at who had walked through the door. I didn’t care; unless they had Bella by the hand, I didn’t care.

 

“Boss,” Angus’s deep voice called. I didn’t answer him. I didn’t turn around; I just kept looking at the horizon. “I know this is trivial, Boss, but the alarms down in the cavern over at Christies started going off a while ago.”

 

My father had installed this alarm system inside the caverns a few years ago. Before that, I had to have someone go down and physically take a look around. It was a waste of manpower as it took nearly an hour to get a look in all the rooms down there. Now if too much water was detected, an alarm would sound and tell us which room was flooding.

 

Angus was right, it was trivial. They could fill it to the top with water and it wouldn’t bring her back.

 

“Boss, I want her back as much as you do. I remember that first time you took her to Christies; you promised her you’d take her on a tour when she was ready. “

 

I remembered the conversation he was referring to. I remembered the promise I had made to her, I also remembered how she smelled and how she was still against being with me then.

 

“When Ms. Swan gets back, I want the caverns to be ready for her. She’ll be upset with me if she knew I let them flood and she missed seeing them. I owe her so much. I wouldn’t have my Maggie if it wasn’t for her. She always treats the guys with respect and we all love her.”

 

Angus was right. She would chew us both out and I knew they all loved her, just nothing like I did.

 

“I called Fig, but he didn’t pick up and the alarms keep going off.”

 

I then turned to Angus and looked him in the eye.

 

I remembered when Bella called me and said that she wanted me to set Maggie and Angus up. Little did I know that she had already put the ball into motion. Bella wanted everyone around her to be as happy as she was.

 

“You’re right, Angus, go check on the caverns and let me know what you find. I’m going to keep my promise to take her down there.”

 

Angus turned to leave when I called to him.

 

“Oh, and have Fig call me when you finally talk to him.”

 

Angus nodded his head and then turned and left.

 

The more I thought about it, the more I began to question Fig’s whereabouts. When I gave him instructions to follow Gianna, he would tell me that she wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. He would tell me what clubs she visited and what stores she shopped at. Nothing apart from the norm he would say.

 

Except that Gianna was a New York girl, and even with all the shopping and clubs Chicago had to offer, it wasn’t anything compared to New York, or so my sister had told me. So why was she staying here? Fig needed to call me; I wanted to find out the answer to that very question.

 

The shrill of my cell brought me out of my thoughts. The sun was now high in the sky and nearly an hour had passed since Angus had left. I grabbed my phone and didn’t bother to check the caller ID.

 

“Yes,” I spoke into the phone.

 

“Boss, I found her.”

 

A/N

 

Many of you guessed that Bella was the girl who haunted him. Next chapter will be in only one POV but I won’t say who…

 

Check out a few fictions that have me waiting with baited breath.

 

Moments by SidneyAlice

 

No ordinary proposal by twilover76

 

They are each WIP but they so rock!

 

  1. Chapter 22

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 22

 

Rotten, stale dirt.

 

The smell engulfed my senses and made me want to vomit. Where the hell was I, and why did my body hurt so much?

 

As I tried desperately to open my eyes, I began to remember. Alice’s wedding, the storage room and then…oh, god…Jimmy. Jimmy was leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, the sinister smile across his evil face.

 

“What the fuck are you doing here?” I remembered questioning him as he only glared back at me, like he was enjoying himself.

 

I turned to my left and saw two more figures that crept slowly forward. Gianna slithered her way towards me, her smile calculating and without joy.

 

“Do you know how long I’ve waited for this moment?” she sneered.

 

It was then I noticed Caius, dressed in an Armani tux, like many of the men present at Alice’s wedding.

 

“Well, well, well, we meet again, Isabella,” he cooed, his face stoic and evil.

 

I turned to leave, as I knew this wasn’t a good group to be alone with. Jimmy was nothing but bad news, he was heavy into drugs and I was certain other illegal dealings. I had to get to my dad, tell him Jimmy was back in town.

 

As quickly as I turned, I felt a hard shove to the middle of my back, followed by the pulling out of the up-do of my hair, my neck bending back as I tried to grab onto the shelf that stood to my left. Whomever had a hold of my hair only pulled harder and I began to feel myself falling backwards. Instinct kicked in and I tried to scream, but a hand quickly covered my nose and mouth. I began to flail my arms and even my legs. My hem had been too long and the alteration lady told me it would take away from the dress if I had too much removed, so I wore very high-heeled shoes to compensate. I knew if I could get my spiked heel near whoever had me, I could do some real damage.

 

I tried over and over to stomp my heel behind me. I made contact several times as I heard Jimmy yelling, “Stupid bitch!” in my ear, but he didn’t stop and neither did I. At some point, my shoe gave out and before I could reach my other heel back, I felt myself being lifted off the ground.

 

I could feel the metal of the shelves as I was slammed repeatedly against them. My vision began to blur as I closed my eyes and began to pray. “Please, God, let Edward find me.”

 

With a final blow, I felt a sharp sting to the back of my neck and then everything went black.

 

Finally, after who knew how long, I was able to open my eyes. The room, if you could call it that, was very dimly lit. I could hear the dripping of water as it hit a puddle somewhere off in the distance. I tried to sit up, but a wave of nausea hit me, causing me to lie back down, the darkness engulfing me once again.

 

“Wake up, you lazy cunt.”

 

Jimmy…that voice would haunt me forever.

 

Before I could react, I felt a sharp blow to my ribs. “I said wake the fuck up!”

 

His kick was so hard that I began to cough. My vision again blurred and this time I began to throw up uncontrollably. Minutes passed as I continued to vomit. Suddenly, a stream of ice cold water hit me square in the chest.

 

“Knock off that puking shit and wake the fuck up, you’re even more pathetic than your fucking bitch of a sister.”

 

I struggled to sit up, leaning my body against the uneven texture of the wall behind me. Where the hell was I? The wall felt like stone, cold and hard.

 

“Jimmy, why are you doing this?”

 

My words managed to set him off. “My fucking name isn’t Jimmy, you stupid fucking bitch, it’s James! I told that to your ignorant cunt of a sister, too, but she could get it right, either.”

 

I began to shake from the cold water I was now sitting in. I could feel it dripping off my face and down my back. I reached up to wipe my face when suddenly James grabbed my left hand.

 

“I’ll be taking this.”

 

He clenched my wrist roughly with one hand while he tore my engagement ring from my finger. I watched as he began to carefully examine my ring, and then he began to toss it up in the air, letting it fall back into his waiting hand. “Bet you had to suck a lot of cock to get this from him, didn’t you?”

 

I chose to say nothing, Edward preferred me not to go down on him. I could count on one hand in the past six months the number of times he had allowed me to do that.

 

You’re too special to me, Bella…his words echoed inside my head.

 

Jimmy unclasped the thick platinum chain around his neck, slipping my ring onto it and then tucked it under the collar of his t-shirt as the sound of clicking of heels could be heard coming down the stairs. The door to the room swung open and in walked a very put-together Gianna.

 

“She isn’t needed for that anymore, he told me I do it better.”

 

Gianna’s eyes never left mine as she crossed the short distance from the door. She knelt down and continued to look into my eyes. “That’s right, little Bella, Edward has forgotten all about you. My mouth on him is all he can talk about now.” I began to wonder just how long I had been out. It could have been days, weeks I doubted. “I can tell you, he’s happier than he’s been in years.”

 

Her face showed no dishonesty, no lack of sincerity. She leaned in further as she continued, “He’s the best fuck I’ve ever had.” I watched as her dark lips formed the words, her teeth touching as “the best” left her mouth.

 

“In the future, when you hear someone talking about me, no matter who it is, ask me before you do anything.”

 

Again, his words filled my head, he had told me to come to him after that day in the cemetery.

 

Before I could respond, Gianna grabbed my wrist. “He said he wanted this back, it’s for me now.”

 

She quickly removed my bracelet and placed it on her own wrist. She was trying to break me, telling me he was with her, taking away his promise. She thought she was hurting me, but she was wrong. The bracelet was only a symbol, I had his heart, and I knew I always would.

 

Gianna stood to leave and I quickly took in a painful breath. “Gianna, wait.” She quickly turned and met my eyes again. “You say you’re with him now?”

 

Her smile was big as she longingly looked at my bracelet that now rested on her wrist. “Yes, I’m going to meet him after I leave here. Jealous?”

 

I wanted to laugh, I wanted to say that she was bat shit crazy if she thought for one second that my Edward would ever consider being with her.

 

“Tell me, when you’re in his bed, riding him, calling out his name, does it bother you that you’re in the same bed where he promised me forever? The same sheets where he made me cum over and over again?”

 

The smile dropped from her face.

 

“Secondly, if it’s true and you’re warming his bed every night, what is it that hangs over his bed on the wall?”

 

The smile returned as she made her way back to kneel in front of me. “A painting, but I never have time to really look at it, if you know what I mean.”

 

I began to laugh, my ribs hurt like hell, but it was worth it to watch her face as I delivered my final blow.

 

“You’re so full of shit, behind his bed is a window, you dumb bitch, and furthermore, he doesn’t let me go down on him because he says only whores are allowed to kneel in front of him. I guess you know where you stand with him.”

 

I never saw James’s fist until it connected with my face and again the room faded to black.

 

“Well, well, well, the princess has been dethroned.” If I could have just kept my eyes closed, maybe he would have gone away. “You should’ve taken me up on my offer, you know.”

 

Luck was clearly not on my side lately. I had no clue what day it was or the time. I knew it had been a while because I could smell myself. I had lain in the same place on the dirty cold stone floor enough to know which area stayed dry and which one had moisture on it. I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten, if you could even call it that. Once in a while, the door opened slightly and someone threw in a piece of food, usually stale moldy bread or half-rotten fruit. At first, I tossed it in the corner, but now I ate the parts that were salvageable. Right now I was so thirsty I was ready to lick the dirty wet floor, which wouldn’t have been the first time I had done that, either.

 

“Why am I here?” my throat stung as I questioned the man standing in front of me.

 

“Oh, my Isabella, you wound me, you’re here because I want you to be.”

 

I opened my eyes to find that the face indeed matched the voice, Caius. What could he possibly want from me?

 

“How does it feel to want, Isabella?”

 

I was so tired; fear was something that had left me a long time ago. I knew Edward was trying to find me, and my dad would never give up looking for me, but I just didn’t know how much longer I could hang on. My body told me it wouldn’t be much longer, I hadn’t had to pee in a very long time, and I hadn’t cried since the last time I was fed stale bread, the tears just wouldn’t come.

 

“Oh, you do make this a fun game.”

 

I watched as he reached out and cupped his hand around my cheek. I couldn’t have stopped him if I’d wanted to, and god did I want to.

 

“Even drained of all your spirit, you’re still breathtaking.”

 

It was then I realized the news reports were correct; he was a very sick person. He played with his victims before he killed them.

 

“You’ll learn to love me, Isabella.”

 

I closed my eyes again as he continued to traced my cheek and throat. “That’s where you’re wrong, I’ll never love you.” It took all of my remaining strength to turn my face, removing his hand from my skin.

 

“Oh, I think you will, it’s either that or I’ll let you die.”

 

Death sounded so good right now, how long had I been here? A week? A month? I had no clue.

 

“Then I’d prefer you take that shiny gun you have and just shoot me now.”

 

He began to laugh, not a normal that-was-a-funny-joke laugh, but a laugh that caused me to shiver. “Oh, Isabella, you have so much to learn about me.”

 

I opened my eyes once again; he lowered his entire body so he was sitting directly opposite me. He took my dirty hand in his pale cold one and I noticed he had a large ring on his index finger. It was silver and in the shape of a cobra’s head, the eyes were rubies. Once again, my original thought of him looking like Draco Malfoy came back. I watched as he slowly ran that finger up and down my fingers.

 

“When I first saw you at that party, you have to know I wanted you. I watched you for a long time, and when you tried to hide from me, you only made me want you more.”

 

He shifted in his crouched position. He was remembering that night; the smile that now adorned his face told me it was obviously good for him.

 

“I followed you home that night. I stood outside your window and I watched as you removed that dress you had on. I watched you as I touched myself. You gave me the best orgasm I’ve ever had, continue to have, actually.” The thought of him jacking off outside of my window made me want to vomit. “Then you destroyed my gifts.”

 

I had to smile as I remembered tossing the flowers in the trash. “They were shitty flowers,” I croaked out.

 

“I wanted to take you then, but Cullen was always around. Then between Cullen pissing off James and trusting the wrong people, I was able to take my opportunity. Imagine my surprise when James told me he knew you.”

 

Had James been there that night?

 

“Cullen didn’t know how much he helped me when he turned down my sister, or you when you told her off. And then there’s…ah, but I digress. No need to worry about family problems now. They’ll all be resolved soon enough, no doubt.”

 

His eyes were black as coal as he continued to translate his memory. “When I was in prison, I told everyone I was going to find a girl and settle down. My father wants me to go back to Italy and run things there, and I will, but first things first. Cullen is beside himself with worry about you, you know. He’s weakened, and he’s distracted now. He’ll be so easy to get rid of, but don’t tell Gianna. She thinks she’s going to get him to want her, so let’s just let her have her fantasy while she can, hmm? As long as the liquor flows freely and the drugs are plentiful, she’ll be content enough, eventually,” he grinned, making me cringe. He really was nuts.

 

“Yes, once the Cullen’s are taken care of, the Volturi family will be free to do what they will and we can go about our business. I know you’ll come to see things my way, Isabella, and you’ll love Italy. Once you’re there, you’ll submit to me; you’ll want me as much as I want you, and I want you there with me as my own.”

 

I wasn’t worried about making the trip, I knew at this rate I would be dead soon. But what he was saying about the Cullen’s had me worried.

 

“You may not be Italian, but it matters not to me. I rather like Irish women, well, most of them. Some are just so…rapacious. I can be very patient, though, Isabella. I’ve waited this long for Cullen to leave you alone. He’s had his time with you, now I want what’s mine. I plan to collect that reward he has out for you, ten million dollars, before he dies. We’ll have fun spending his money. I plan to take you over and over again lying on a bed of his money. I’ll video it and send it to him, let him see you spread out for me, hear you screaming my name while I fuck you every way I please as he dies slowly while watching.”

 

Internally, I was smiling; Edward was stronger and more cautious than Caius bargained for, and I knew he and his family was looking for me, even though Caius was a delusional psycho thinking he could kill them. Caius was a dead man.

 

“I’ve watched you, my Isabella, and I have to say, you certainly know how to impress a man with your wit and charm. Where did you get that from, my Isabella? It was certainly not from your mother.”

 

That got my attention.

 

“Oh, yes, my Isabella, it was too easy to find your mother, and she was more than willing to help me. I don’t know what she was more excited about, seeing you or the bag of coke I gave her. Never have I watched someone so delighted to snort a line of coke. Too bad she didn’t get to enjoy the whole bag. She was too clingy, too willing to do anything I asked of her. She begged more for the coke than for her last breath.”

 

I closed my eyes as the reality began to set in, my mother was dead and Caius had killed her.

 

“So you see, Isabella, I will get what I want. Whether it’s you by my side or watching you slowly die, I win either way, and call me selfish, but my winning is all that matters to me; the rest can tend to their own agendas. With the Cullen’s dead and you gone with me and out of the picture, we all get what we need. See? Things just work out if you’re patient.”

 

Time continued to pass. I was given water a while after Caius left; not much, but it was at least a little cleaner this time. Just when I was getting weaker again, Gianna came back. She was dressed to the nines and carrying her designer purse, still wearing my bracelet. She took one look at me and turned up her nose. She opened the door and shouted for someone to get inside. Never in a million years would I have guessed who was waiting outside of that door. Fig. My mind instantly went back to the night of Alice’s wedding. Fig was the one who had told me Tanya was upset. He had betrayed me, and Edward. I began to pray that I did survive this so I could watch as Edward returned the favor.

 

“Mike, you need to clean her up. Caius is almost ready to take her out of here. He’s talking about heading back to Italy early.”

 

“How the fuck do you suggest I do that?”

 

Gianna pulled out her cell phone and began to push buttons. I imagined she was texting someone. “I don’t care how, just get it done, you can smell her from upstairs.” She tossed her phone back into her purse and then directed her next words to me. “I’m late for dinner with MY Edward.”

 

She was so full of shit, I knew this, but my heart was questioning my brain. I wanted to laugh at her and tell her that she likely was about to die and I wanted to watch, but I was too weak to even speak.

 

Fig ran his hands through his hair several times. He would look at me and then ponder again. He quickly turned and left the room. I tried not to think about what his plan was. He clearly was involved and wouldn’t care what happened to me.

 

He returned a short while later with what appeared to be a water hose. He came further into the room before he turned on the hose and blasted my already tired cold body with freezing water. I didn’t have the energy to fight. I lay lifelessly against the wall as the water continued to pelt my ravaged skin for what felt like forever, the water chilling me to the core. I was helpless to do anything. It felt as if he had used every last gallon of water in the city of Chicago.

 

When he finally shut the water off, he leaned over my shivering body. “I’ll be back in a little while, Bella. I want my turn before he takes you away. I want to see if you’re as tight as your sister was. Right now, it’s time for me to go and collect,” he sneered then muttered, “and she damn well better deliver this time.”

 

He then kissed my chapped mouth and turned and left the room.

 

My skin was wet and raw from the high-pressure hosing off Fig had given me. I prayed that I would not be here when he returned, though I wasn’t certain which would be worse, Fig or Caius.

 

I closed my eyes and began to pray. I prayed that Edward would be safe and that he would go on and have a long and happy life without me. It was important that he had a wife and children, even if it was with someone else. I prayed that Abby would grow up to be a self-confident and happy young lady. I prayed that Charlotte would take care of both my dad and my sister. But mostly, I prayed for death to be quick and preferably before Fig or Caius returned.

 

But God clearly wasn’t listening as I watched the door slowly open. I shut my eyes tight as I prepared for Fig to follow through on his threat. My breathing picked up as I waited. My heart was hammering inside my chest and I silently hoped this would be enough to finish me off.

 

I was so wrong, God had been listening. As I opened my eyes and took a good look at the person standing at the open door, I felt all the tension leave my body and the silent sobs took over.

 

“Ms. Swan!” Angus’s manly voice sounded loudly in the caved room.

 

I tried to call out to him, but my voice was gone. Angus rushed across the room and knelt by my side. I watched as he took his coat off and wrapped it snuggly around me, the heat from his body feeling like a hot flame against my freezing cold skin.

 

I watched helplessly as he took his phone from his pocket and pressed it to his ear. Just before the blackness took me, the words I heard him speak were like the finest symphony being played in the best hall.

 

“Boss, I found her.”

 

  1. Chapter 23

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

CHAPTER 23

 

Edward: This is the only warning you’re going to get. The following chapter contains graphic violence and descriptions of violent acts. This is a Mafia story after all, so it is what it is. If you’re easily offended, squeamish, or just a pussy, you may want to skip this chapter and PM Mathisson for the cliff notes, just saying…

 

Mathisson will return next chapter with her usual witty banter…

 

I slammed my car into park as I skidded into the valet lane at Christie’s. I didn’t even waste time in shutting off the engine. Let someone steal it, my Bella had been found and I had to get to her.

 

After Angus called me, I jumped out of my chair and ran down the stairs. As I ran to my car, I had called Charlie, but I only got his voicemail. I left him a message to meet me at Christie’s.

 

I prayed over and over for Bella to be alive. I didn’t care what she looked like, what they had done to her, I would still love her. I would get her the best doctors in the country and help her in any way I could. If she had been raped, I would be patient with her; I would continue to honor her as a husband should.

 

As I passed the door that led to the caverns, I was hit with the most putrid smell I had ever encountered. It was a combination of human waste, rotting food, and pure filth. I held my breath as I flew down the stairs and into the room where Angus had said he’d found her.

 

I slammed full force through the door that separated me from my Bella. What awaited me was a sight I would never forget.

 

My god, what had they done to her?

 

Bella was lying in Angus’s lap, his jacket wrapped around her lifeless body, his gun pointed at my chest.

 

“Sorry, Boss, I didn’t know if it was one of them coming back to finish her off.”

 

I quickly crossed the floor, ignoring the horrid stench that was clearly coming from this room. As I dropped to my knees, I noticed she was still in the same dress from Alice’s wedding. It was now black with dirt and grime and her hair was a filthy matted mess. There were huge purple circles around her beautiful eyes, the sockets badly sunken in. She looked like one of those starving African children they showed on the television, little more than a skeleton.

 

“She’s alive, Boss, barely, but she’s alive.”

 

I looked to Angus who had begun to hand her off to me, and I took her willingly. Her eyes slowly opened and she began to recognize that it was me.

 

“Edward?” her voice was so frail and small.

 

I wrapped her wet body closer to mine as I began to cry with joy and relief. I began to lay gentle kisses around her beautiful face.

 

“Yes, babe, it’s me, I’ve got you, you’re safe, Bella.”

 

“Not with Gianna…” she began to mumble.

 

I slowly pulled my face back to look at her, her eyes remained on me. I searched her eyes, waiting for her to say it again.

 

“Not Gianna,” she whispered again.

 

“Bella, love, who did this to you?”

 

Bella’s eyes were closing again and I quickly felt for a pulse, it was there, but just slightly.

 

“She said it was Fig and Caius, and some guy named Jimmy, Boss.”

 

I didn’t have time to react to Angus’s words as the door busted open again and my father and Charlie stood in the doorway. Angus again had his gun pointed at them.

 

“Bella?” Charlie’s voice trembled.

 

“She’s alive, Charlie, she’s severely dehydrated and clearly malnourished, but she’s alive.”

 

Angus was a trained medic. During his time in the Irish military, he’d had to undergo training for events such as this one. I knew he was telling the truth, and I trusted him.

 

“Has anyone called an ambulance?” I questioned as I began to kiss her face again.

 

“Angus, are you certain nothing is broken?” Carlisle questioned as he crossed the room.

 

“Yes, Mr. Cullen, she’s pretty badly bruised up, though, and she needs a doctor bad,” Angus instructed.

 

“Edward, give her to me, it’ll take too long for the ambulance to get here in this traffic. I can have her at the hospital before an ambulance can even get here,” my father promised.

 

The words were barely out of his mouth when I heard shouting coming from outside the door, “Edward, it’s Ma, I’m coming in.”

 

My Ma was a smart woman; she knew if she opened that door unannounced, at least one gun would be pointed at her.

 

The look on my Ma’s face was enough to bring me to my knees again. She shoved Charlie out of the way and quickly took Bella’s pale face into her hands. She began to place kisses along Bella’s sunken eyelids and was whispering soft words in Gaelic, her words meant for only God and Bella as I couldn’t hear what was said.

 

She stood abruptly and looked directly at me. “You make certain you kill whoever did this to my baby girl,” her green eyes bored through me with her fury; I knew if I failed to follow her instructions, she would take matters into her own hands. My Ma wasn’t someone to be played with.

 

I simply nodded as I began to pass Bella’s lifeless body to my father. My mother captured Bella’s pale hand in hers, and it was then I noticed her engagement ring and bracelet was missing. My Ma noticed as well.

 

“We’ll replace them, Edward, she’s alive and that’s all that’s important right now.”

 

She was right; I would buy Bella a thousand rings if it would keep her close to me.

 

“Are you coming with us, Son?” my father questioned as he shifted Bella in his arms.

 

Running my hands through my hair, I knew he would fight me on my answer. “No, I want to be able to tell Bella when she wakes up that Fig is dead and can’t hurt her anymore.”

 

Before my father could argue, the door again swung open and a very nervous-looking Fig came running in with Tonto right behind him.

 

“Oh, god, boss, I just heard,” Fig stammered as he ran closer to Bella and my father.

 

It took everything I had not to cross the distance and slam him into the wall repeatedly until his bones disintegrated. I wanted to kill him with my bare hands, drain the life from his body as he had tried to do to my Bella.

 

My Ma interrupted and brought me back to reality, “Remember your promise.”

 

I looked to Tonto as I spoke in a hushed voice, “Tonto, close the door.”

 

Mike’s eyes became huge as they darted between me and Tonto. “Why are we standing around? We need to go after whoever did this, show them that they can’t mess with our family.”

 

His words were like acid on my skin. How dare he refer to anyone in this room as his family!

 

Tonto didn’t question me and quickly placed his body in front of the door, his arms crossed over his massive chest.

 

Fig continued to look around at the men in the room, no one said a word as they watched, waiting for me to calm down enough to not just kill him outright, I was certain.

 

“Tell me, Fig, was it all worth it?”

 

“Wh…what are you talking about, Boss?”

 

“You lied to me, Fig, and you betrayed my trust.” I took a step closer. So did Angus to my left.

 

“No, Sir, I haven’t missed a payment since you told me.”

 

“You think this is about child support?”

 

Fig began to look around the room at each of the men. He was trying to play us off, act as if he knew nothing, then run like the coward he really was.

 

“Listen, guys, we’re wasting time…”

 

“Tell me why you did this!”

 

Fig’s body began to shake; he was at least smart enough to know when he was caught.

 

“I…I sh…sh…” His body was fully trembling now.

 

“Did you really think you’d get away with this?”

 

Angus and I took another step closer. “Here’s what we’re going to do, you’re going to start telling me everything you know or I’m going to start shooting parts of your body off.”

 

“Allow me, Boss, save your bullets for the finale,” Angus spoke from my left.

 

Fig began moving his feet side to side, looking like he was about to piss himself.

 

“Who are you working with?”

 

Several seconds went by and Fig remained silent as he continued to shuffle. The sound of a gun being fired and the distinct sound of a bullet lodging in the stone wall was evidence that Angus had grown tired of the silence. “That was your one and only warning shot.”

 

Fig began to tremble in earnest and then the sound of water dripping started. At first I thought it was the leftover water from where Bella had sat, but as I looked at Fig, the distinctive darkening of his pants proved otherwise. He actually had pissed himself.

 

“Now, I’ll ask you again, who are you working with?”

 

“J..James and C…C…Caius, and G…Gianna is in on it, t…too.”

 

“What was the plan?”

 

Silence again followed. This time the sound of a gunshot was heard from behind Fig. Tonto stood with his gun pointed at Fig’s ass. “Boss asked you a question.”

 

Fig was now crying out in pain; this was nothing close to what he was going to suffer. “All I know is…I was to get her to the storeroom…so that James could take her here,” Fig gasped out between pants of agony.

 

“When are James and Caius due back here?”

 

I watched as he closed his eyes; a small puddle of blood had joined his puddle of piss.

 

“Gianna said they’re planning to take Bella back to Italy soon, Caius wants Bella to be his. He gave me instructions to only feed her dirty water and garbage a couple of times a week, and never two days in a row.”

 

My fist clinched around the handle of my gun, he had intentionally starved her, breaking her down so that she would do anything he asked by treating her like a sewer rat.

 

“Gianna told her that you’re with her now. I don’t think Bella believed her, though.”

 

Trying to break her spirit, my Bella was too smart for that.

 

“So what was your payoff?”

 

Fig looked at the ground and then slumped to the floor, the puddle of blood was larger now and his skin was turning pale.

 

When he didn’t answer, I raised my gun and fired two shots into his right knee. His screams did nothing but piss me off. The only thing keeping him alive right now was I needed more answers.

 

“Boss asked you a question, Fig,” Tonto prodded.

 

“Once Bella was gone and you followed her, I wouldn’t have to make my child support payments anymore. Things would go back to the way they were before Bella,” he gasped out.

 

Listening to Fig tell me how he only wanted Bella out of the picture because of a few dollars he had to pay for the care of his children was the straw that broke me. Giggles was my niece, she loved her Aunt Bella and would have been devastated if something had happened to her. Fig didn’t deserve to have the privilege of calling himself that beautiful child’s father.

 

My next move shocked even me. I found my foot planted in the center of Fig’s chest, slamming his back flat against the cold stone floor, my gun pointed between his shocked eyes.

 

“You don’t deserve that child,” I growled, my foot shoving harder into his chest. “You need to know that after today, you’ll only be a faded memory to the mother of that little girl since you were too much of a selfish son of a bitch to get to know your own daughter. Giggles’ true daddy will be there for her instead.

 

“Her daddy will take her to the park and buy her ice cream. Her daddy will bandage up her scraped knees and help her with her homework. Her daddy will comfort her when her first crush breaks her heart, while Uncle Edward crushes his skull. Her daddy will clap for her at graduation and drive her to college. He’ll walk her down the aisle at her wedding and hold her first child with tender care. Her daddy will love her mother like the most precious thing in the world that she is. But you, you’ll be rotting like the piece of worthless shit you are.”

 

Removing my foot, I bent down so that my face was only inches from his. “But first, you’re going to call your buddy, Caius, and tell him to get over here quick. Tell him there’s a big problem with Bella. Don’t worry; you won’t be lying.”

 

Fig’s breathing was rapid and this time he didn’t hesitate as he reached into his pocket and retrieved his phone and dialed. “Dude, you gotta get here quick, I think the bitch is dead,” he said and hung up.

 

I steadied my breathing as I let his words settle. Looking him square in his face, I slowly spoke the final words he would ever hear. “No, she’s not, but you are.”

 

I could see the flash from the bullets being fired into Fig’s skull. Blood and brains were quickly splattered in all directions. No one said a single word as the smell of gunpowder lingered in the room. Fig was dead and I could now tell my Bella that he could never hurt her again.

 

Now to wait for Caius; and his death wouldn’t be so quick.

 

“Angus!” I heard Shamus shout from outside the door.

 

“In here, brother!” Angus shouted back.

 

The door slowly opened and in walked a pissed off-looking Shamus, followed closely by a tired-looking Tanya.

 

“Angus, I’ve been calling you for hours,” Shamus said in Gaelic as he took a look around the room, his eyes finally landing on a dead Fig. “Is that…?”

 

“Yes, it’s Fig, although it’s a good thing he won’t be having a funeral, even his mom couldn’t identify him,” Angus explained.

 

Shamus shrugged as he continued to look at the faceless man that lay on the ground, “Guess he pissed you of once too many, huh, Boss?”

 

No one said a word as every eye was now on me. “He assisted in the kidnapping of Bella.”

 

Shamus’s eyes were now bulging. “Oh, god, did he at least tell you where she is?”

 

I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose, the memory of her lying in Angus’s arms still fresh in my mind. “He had her here on the cold wet floor, she was still in the clothes from the wedding and he’d starved and beat her, my father took her to the hospital.”

 

“Is she…?” Tanya’s tiny voice spoke from behind Shamus.

 

“She’s alive, thank god, but barely,” Charlie spoke from my right.

 

“Boss, can I ask why you two are still here? I mean shouldn’t you be at the hospital?”

 

I looked at Shamus, but Charlie began to speak before I could. “Edward and I are waiting for the other ones responsible for this. He made a promise that he’d take care of them so she won’t be afraid when she wakes up. I’m waiting to see if one of the men is the man who’s responsible for the death of my oldest daughter. If I’m correct in my suspicions, I want to deal with him myself.”

 

I turned to look at Charlie, “You think this James and Jimmy are the same? The man that killed your Victoria?”

 

“I’m fairly certain of it. Bella said Jimmy and that’s what Victoria always called him.”

 

“What are you doing here?” Angus questioned Shamus.

 

“I got your message that you were going to check on these caverns and when I didn’t hear from you and you didn’t answer my pages or calls, I got worried. I told Tanya I’d take her to lunch so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.”

 

It was only seconds later that we heard the distinct sound of feminine laughter, followed by the clicking of high heels. Shamus moved himself and Tanya away from the door as the laughter got louder.

 

The door opened as three figures quickly entered. They were laughing and talking, joking about the stench permeating the building as if it were funny. I was about to make certain this was the last time they would ever have anything to laugh about.

 

My eyes met with Caius’s first. His expression was one of shock at first, but then a huge smile spread along his thin lips. The man that stood beside him tried to turn and run out of the door. I recognized him as James Hunter, the low-life that had wanted to work for me years ago. Tonto was quick to slam him to the floor and then pointed his gun in his face.

 

Caius’s eyes never left mine as I cleared the distance between our bodies. His eyes dropped from mine long enough to take in Fig’s dead corpse.

 

“Ah, I should thank you for that, less cleanup for me, Cullen.”

 

Gianna stood like a deer caught in headlights with her purse on her arm and her phone in her hand. I would deal with her later.

 

“That’s nothing compared to what’s in store for you, Caius.”

 

He began to laugh as he moved toward me. “Don’t think for one moment you can touch me, my father would have his men after you in a second,” he hissed, his eyes dilated, spit coming off his teeth as he spoke.

 

“Not if he can’t prove anything,” Angus interjected. “No one will ever find your bodies.”

 

“My father is an ignorant old man who’s ruled by his foolishness of the past, but he does have his sources. They’ve been handy in getting me my Isabella,” he grinned.

 

He was either trying to piss me off or he was telling the truth, but either way, Caius was a dead man.

 

“What’s that on your arm?” Tanya screeched at Gianna.

 

Everyone in the room turned to see what Tanya was yelling about. I looked directly at her left arm and there it was; the bracelet I had given Bella, Gianna had clearly stolen it from her.

 

“It’s mine!” Gianna shouted as she drew her arm against her chest. “It should’ve been mine from the start, but that stupid, ugly girl got in our way, Edward!” she whined as she began to walk toward me like a cat in heat.

 

“Stop right there!” Tanya warned jumping in front of her. “You stole that from my friend and where I come from, there’s a punishment for stealing.”

 

“Get out of my way, you washed up whore, don’t you know Edward only used you to get what he wanted? He never loved you, he was supposed to be mine, but that tramp got in the way!”

 

I took a quick step back as Gianna attempted to take another step around Tanya, lunging toward me. Tanya was quicker and she used her left hand to take the gun that rested in the waistband at Shamus’s back and quickly fired two shots. Gianna stumbled back, hitting the wall behind her, sliding down then coming to rest on the dirty floor.

 

Tanya walked over to where Gianna sat dying, staring up shocked at Tanya’s angry face. “You don’t fuck with my family!” Tanya reached down and jerked Gianna’s wrist up, removing my bracelet from her arm before she spit in her face.

 

Gianna looked up at me as she took her last breath and then slumped further onto the floor.

 

“I never cared for my sister, you know. She was such a spoiled brat, and quite daft, too,” Caius said with a shrug.

 

My attention was now focused on Caius. He was looking at his dead sister with no emotion. Had that been Alice, I would have torn every man in this room apart for hurting her. Caius only looked at her as if she was a dirty piece of gum on his shoe.

 

“How can you say such a thing? She was your sister!” Charlie questioned.

 

“She was weak and worthless.”

 

“She was still your sister.”

 

“Perhaps…”

 

I was sick of this. I needed to get to the hospital, back to Bella. I had to be there when she awoke so that I could assure her she was truly safe.

 

I quickly raised my gun and steadied my grip. “I promised my Bella the responsible ones would pay. I always keep my promises to her.”

 

My finger was steady on the trigger as I watched Caius’s eyes grow bigger. By the look on his face, he knew I was deadly serious.

 

“If you kill me, Cullen, you’ll never know…”

 

I cut him off. I was sick of his games, sick of him taking up air that good people like my Bella needed to breathe. “I already know all I need to know; I know that you won’t be able to hurt her anymore.”

 

I didn’t give him a chance to respond as I unloaded my magazine into his chest, my last bullet hitting him squarely between the eyes. I watched as his hand came up to his heart as he gasped for his last breath, the force of the bullets propelling him into the wall. It was a far more merciful death than he deserved, but I just wanted it to be done. With a hard thud, he lay dead in a pool of quickly-flowing blood, the final sound in the room being the tinkling of the last bullet casing rolling on the floor at his feet.

 

I couldn’t remove my eyes from his body. I had killed my fair share of men in my days, but this one was personal. He had dared to touch the one thing that was forbidden, breaking the unwritten rule that wives were off limits. Aro would be powerless to enforce anything, and as far as Gianna was concerned, she would just be a causality of the drug war.

 

“You killed my daughter,” Charlie’s voice invaded the quiet that was present after the gunshots stopped.

 

I looked to see James, who could only smile as I began to reload my gun. “Here, Charlie, use mine,” I told him as I tried to hand him my gun. Charlie looked at me then at the gun that was offered. “It’s a clean gun and we’ll dispose of it when we’re finished here.”

 

He again looked from my gun to my face as he then turned back to James. “A bullet is too quick and this son of a bitch, he needs to suffer.” The smug smile on James’s face quickly disappeared, replaced with pure terror as he looked into Charlie Swan’s eyes boring into him with the anguish and rage of a grieving father. “You took my daughter from me. You left her to die, naked and alone in a seedy motel room.”

 

Charlie began to walk closer to James, never taking his eyes off him. “She wanted to be a teacher, did you know that?” It wasn’t really a question, more of a thought he had that passed his lips. “She wanted to teach kindergarten, she had her whole life ahead of her. But you changed all that. You stole her bright future, traded it for drugs, and death.”

 

Charlie was having closure; he needed to share his memories with the man who had taken away his daughter.

 

“You took my beautiful daughter and made her into a broken, hateful person who would stay gone for weeks. She no longer cared about her sisters or her father. She only wanted her next fix.”

 

Charlie stayed quiet for several moments and surprisingly, so did James. Finally, Charlie raised his face and turned to James once again. “Did you know that in the time of King Henry VIII, when someone offended the crown, they were given the most severe punishment?”

 

Again, this wasn’t a question.

 

“When my girls were little, they loved to play princess, especially Victoria. She looked just like a little fairytale princess with those red flowing curls and her porcelain skin. They would dress up so cute and want me to play the role of the King.” His eyes showed me he was seeing his little girls dancing around him, free and innocent.

 

The warmth from his memories faded from his eyes as he looked back at James. “You took away my princess.” The look that followed that statement was one I hoped never to receive from Charles Swan. He was no longer in control of his actions and James would be paying the price.

 

“Edward, can you instruct your men to assist me, please?”

 

I didn’t have to say a word as Shamus and Angus came to flank Charlie.

 

“Gentlemen, strip him of his clothes and hold him to the wall.” James was clearly too terrified to say a word. My men wasted little time as the sounds of clothes ripping filled the room, the strips landing in a pile at my feet. On a chain hanging around James’s neck was the engagement ring I had given my Bella. Charlie was looking at it as well, but would leave it there for now as a reminder of what James had done to his other daughter as well. This wasn’t just for Victoria anymore.

 

“In that time, the King would order the offending person to be drawn and quartered. Since we have to adjust due to the circumstances, we’ll just be drawing.”

 

James didn’t know what had hit him as Charlie pulled a razor-sharp switchblade seemingly from nowhere and made a large deep slash across James’s lower body. James screamed out in pain as blood began to drip quickly from the gash. However, Charlie wasn’t finished as he drew the blade through the cut again, and this time the gash opened and what looked like James’s intestine fell out, splattering onto the floor as he watched.

 

“See, in the days of the King, your intestines would have all been pulled out burned at this point, but I don’t want to end your suffering quite that quickly.”

 

This time the blade coming down sliced off James’s manhood and I would admit that even I cringed as his dick and balls hit the floor with a bounce.

 

The pool of blood at James’s feet was growing at an alarming rate, enough that I had to take a step back to avoid getting it on my shoes.

 

Charlie crossed the room and took a seat on the floor as he continued to watch James die a slow and excruciating death.

 

I watched as Shamus and Angus held tightly to James’s naked body, pinning it to the cold stone wall. Moments later, a bubbling sound was heard from James and then the contents of his stomach, bladder, and bowels fell to the floor, followed by James’s head dropping forward, a sign of his sure death.

 

Charlie stood and walked over, unclasping the platinum chain from around James’s neck holding my Bella’s ring. “Let him fall, gentlemen,” Charlie’s voice said softly as he sighed deeply and backed away. “Rest in peace now, princess,” he sobbed, his voice full of emotion and it was all I could do to not join him.

 

Charlie inhaled deeply and then quickly turned to me, taking my hand and placing the ring in my palm, “It’s over, Son. Let’s go tell our Bella the good news.”

 

A/n

 

With the recent pulling of some amazing fictions, I have taken precautions and began posting over at TWCS. My pen name is the same. I hope that this issue dies down just as quickly as it began.

 

  1. Chapter 24

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Me: Holy hell. I never saw that one coming.

 

Edward: Unfortunately, I should have seen it sooner.

 

Me: So let me get this straight. Fig was in it to get out of paying child support.

 

Edward: (shakes head) It would appear so.

 

Me: Gianna was in it to try and distract you.

 

Edward: Yes, but I caught on to her; I just didn’t follow it as far as I should have.

 

Me: Caius wanted Bella.

 

Edward: Yes, and he certainly didn’t care whether she was a willing participant or not.

 

Me: And James? What was his payoff?

 

Edward: I didn’t hire him all those years ago and it pissed him off. I never saw him as anything but a harmless small-time gangster wannabe. I saw him the night of Amex’s engagement party and never thought twice about him. I had no idea he was the same guy as the Jimmy who was with Victoria.

 

Me: So now you get to deliver the good news.

 

Edward: Yes, Bella is alive and I get to enjoy her every day of forever.

 

Me: Or at least until you piss her off.

 

Edward: Well, there is that.

 

Me: Okay, enough chit chat.

 

Edward: One last thing…

 

Me: Yes?

 

Edward: The Facebook page, Gemma’s video…

 

Me: Fan-fucking-tastic!

 

Edward: My gosh, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

 

Me: (bitch brow with a double middle finger) Two words…Michelin Man!

 

Chapter 24

 

The waiting room at the hospital was full of family when I arrived. My Ma rushed over and threw her arms around me. “Dr. Banner is in there now, please tell me you…”

 

I leaned in close so that no one else could hear. “Yes, she has nothing to fear.”

 

“Edward.” I looked up to see Amex making a quick b-line for me. She and Jasper had returned from their honeymoon two weeks ago. “They won’t let us back there,” she whimpered, her arms going tightly around my neck. Amex quickly released me as she pushed me away, “Oh, crap, Edward what is that god-awful smell?” she groaned as I noticed my father entering the room with a man in a white lab coat following close behind.

 

“Bella’s prison,” I told her as I made my way over to my father. His pocket read Dr. Marcus Banner, MD, Emergency Medicine.

 

“Dad,” I called out.

 

Carlisle’s head snapped in my direction, “Edward, you’re here.” I continued to make my way closer as the room grew very quiet. “Son, this is my good friend, Dr. Banner, he’s been attending to our Bella.”

 

I held out my hand to him, grasping his firmly and making direct eye contact. “Sir, I’m Edward Cullen, Bella’s fiance.”

 

Dr. Banner was an older man, round glasses, silvering hair. If my dad trusted him, then so did I.

 

“Yes, well, I have to tell you, we were very lucky you got to her when you did. I’ve ran several lab tests and the good news is it doesn’t appear that she’s suffered any permanent damage. Her liver enzymes are within an acceptable range, but my real concern is that when we started a catheter on her, nothing came out. We’ve put her on a rapid infuser to get as much hydration into her as quickly as possible, but I’ll feel a lot better when her kidneys start showing some output.”

 

I had a question that was burning a hole in my gut. I had to know, not that the answer would change anything between Bella and I.

 

“Dr. Banner, was there any evidence of…sexual assault?”

 

Dr. Banner placed his hand on my shoulder as he responded, “No, Edward, there were no obvious physical signs of a sexual trauma, but we’ll have to ask her when we wake her up to be certain.”

 

I looked at him perplexed, “Wake her up?”

 

“Yes, we’ve given her medication to make her sleep. It’s better for her body to heal if she doesn’t have to deal with any outside stimulation right now.”

 

I nodded my head as I silently thanked God.

 

“When can I see her?”

 

Dr. Banner only smiled as he responded, “The nurses are cleaning her up, give us an hour and I’ll have one of them come and get you.”

 

I shook his hand and thanked him for everything he had done for Bella.

 

My father came over and gave me a tight hug, “Is it finished?”

 

I nodded my head as we separated.

 

I noticed Charlie had joined us and had heard everything Dr. Banner had told us. For a second, I felt guilty for not making certain he was there, he was her father after all.

 

I turned and headed to where my mother and Amex were sitting. I hadn’t noticed that Sherman Whitlock was in the room. Sherman and Eileen had stayed in Chicago after Jasper and Amex went on their honeymoon so Sherman could make certain Jasper’s business interests here were taken care of.

 

I needed a distraction. Bella was the one person who could calm me down, no matter what the issue was. I needed her, but she needed me more right now.

 

Ma handed me a cup of coffee as Sherman began talking to me. “Edward, my god, when Jasper called me, I couldn’t believe it and rushed right over. Bella is a dear thing and I’ve been praying for her every day. Is there anything you need, Son?”

 

I knew I was going to get asked that question a lot today.

 

“Thank you for coming, Sherman, and I’ll let you know if I need anything.”

 

He patted me on my back as Jasper made his way over to us. “Eileen will be happy to hear that Bella has been found.” He noticed me looking around for Eileen, but she wasn’t in the room. “She’s due back next week from her vacation with Maria,” he sighed.

 

I looked to Jasper confused; I would never go on a vacation without my wife. Jasper only shook his head, silently asking me not to question it. Apparently, this was a sore subject.

 

I noticed Charlie standing beside Sherman. “Charlie, this is Sherman Whitlock, Jasper’s father.” I then gestured to Charlie, “Sherman, this is Charlie Swan, Bella’s father.”

 

“Charlie, I just can’t imagine what you’re going through as her father. I can’t imagine what I’d do if that happened to my Maria.”

 

“You have a daughter?” Charlie questioned.

 

Sherman quickly retrieved his phone and began to scroll through his pictures, finding one of Maria and showing it proudly to Charlie.

 

“She is a beautiful girl, Sherman.”

 

Sherman continued to look at the screen. “She takes after her mother in the looks department.”

 

Charlie chuckled as he responded, “I think every father gives the credit for their beauty to the mothers, but I’ll say I’m an exception to that rule.”

 

Sherman looked to Charlie, but didn’t question.

 

“Edward, you remember my Maria?”

 

I smiled as I took his phone from his hand and politely glanced at the picture quickly before handing the phone back to Sherman. Maria seemed to be a very beautiful girl with her long dark hair and model-perfect face. “She’s beautiful, Sherman.”

 

The conversation was quickly ended as a feminine voice called out, “Edward Cullen?”

 

I turned my attention toward the direction of the voice to find an older woman in white scrubs standing with a clipboard. “Yes, I’m Edward Cullen.”

 

She smiled as she motioned with her free hand for me to follow her. “Come with me, dear, she’s ready for you to see her. My name is Nurse Cope and I’ve been assigned to Isabella today.”

 

I followed her through a set of doors, past the nurses’ station, and down to the end of a long hallway. “Mr. Cullen was very specific about Ms. Swan’s accommodations,” she said as she stood outside a set of double doors.

 

Books was standing outside the room. “Guess I’m not needed anymore if you’re here?” Books asked as I took him into a hug.

 

“No, the situation has been handled; go home to your wife and daughter.”

 

Books nodded his head in understanding, “Call me if you need me, I’ll bring Angie up later.” I smiled at him and nodded before I followed the nurse into the room.

 

The room looked more like a suite at the Ritz than a hospital room. I knew I had my parents to thank for that. Only the best would ever do for their kids, and that definitely included my Bella.

 

She was nestled in what appeared to be a queen-sized bed. Her dark hair had been pulled to one side, as if it had just been combed. Her face now looked peaceful, despite the circumstances she had been found in only a few hours ago. Above her head was a machine that held what looked like a flat screen where I could see numbers and lines, and her name was written across the top. Upon looking closer, a white heart was flashing in the corner above the number seventy-two.

 

“Her vitals all look really good,” the nurse spoke softly. “Feel free to hold her hand or face, you won’t hurt her.”

 

I made my way around her bed, taking in the paleness of her skin and the still-sunken-in appearance of her eyes.

 

An overstuffed chair sat beside her bed and I quietly took a seat, taking her hand in mine. Her fingernails still had bits of dirt under them and were chipped and tattered. Bella rarely wore nail polish, but her nails were always neat.

 

Lifting her hand to my lips, I kissed each knuckle and fingertip. I could still smell that horrid odor that had been present in that cavern. Now it was mixed with that telltale smell of hospital disinfectant.

 

“Sponge baths only get them so clean, Mr. Cullen.”

 

I continued to look at her, so pale and so fragile. “She won’t like this. She’s always been so particular about being clean.”

 

I felt the nurse’s warm hand on my shoulder, “You can bring her things up and we can have them ready when she wakes up.” I nodded in understanding. “Her I-V is nearly ready to be changed; I’ll be just down the hall if you need me.”

 

I could just make out the sounds of the nurse’s shoes on the tile floor as she turned, the soft thud of the closing door telling me she had left.

 

I rose from my chair and leaned over Bella’s still body. I began to place soft kisses over her face, including her eyes and lastly her chapped lips. I pulled back to look at her; I could see remnants of tiny stones in her hair as well as scaling skin and clumps of dirt. I quickly retrieved my cell from my pocket and sent my Ma a text.

 

Send someone to get her things, she isn’t clean enough.

 

Pocketing my phone, I nestled back into the empty side of her bed. “You scared me,” I whispered into her ear. “I swear I won’t ever fail you again, please come back to me.”

 

Running my hand along her cheekbone and down her chin, it didn’t take a genius to see that she had lost a sizeable amount of weight. I had no doubts my Ma would reverse that in a minute once I got my Bella home.

 

“Our wedding is in a few weeks, so you need to rest and get better so you can walk down that aisle to me.”

 

I had no intention of postponing our wedding. Even if she had to be pushed down that aisle in a wheelchair, we were getting married.

 

“Our house is finished. I had Ma order those sheets you liked, I know you said they were too expensive, but I plan to conceive twelve children in that bed so it needs to be comfortable.”

 

I had told Bella I wanted twelve boys, truth was I didn’t really care as long as they were healthy.

 

“I’ve loved you for so long,” I whispered quietly into her hand closing my eyes, holding back the tears that begged to escape. I pictured her young face in my head the first time I saw her. If I would have only followed my heart that day as a teen, she could have been mine sooner, but instead I let my pride and ignorance make my decision. “You’ll never know how long I’ve loved you.”

 

There was no point in telling her my sins of the past, it wouldn’t change anything. I didn’t want her to ever think for one second I didn’t want her always. After what she had been through, she only needed to know that I wanted her more than anything.

 

“From the first moment I saw you, you’ve owned my very soul. My heart has continued to beat because of its longing to be close to you.” I finally let the tears fall. They needed to be set free, give me the closure I needed. “I want you back in my bed, I don’t like you here. I need to know I can wake up in the middle of the night and you’re right there beside me. I watch you sleep, I know you don’t know that, but I do.”

 

I couldn’t count how many nights I had lain next to her and watched her sleep. The light from the moon as it illuminated her face; it fascinated me, as did her quiet sighs as she dreamed. I wanted to have it all back.

 

I must have fallen asleep as the next thing I knew, I was being shaken by my Ma. Standing beside her was Rose and Angela.

 

“How is she?” my Ma’s soft voice was music to my ears.

 

“Well, having Edward here was good for her,” Angela pointed to the bag that hung from the side of the bed, a small amount of dark amber fluid present. “Her kidneys are working.”

 

I had never been so happy to see pee in all my life.

 

“Edward, I want you to go clean yourself up. I know you won’t leave the hospital, but I brought your things as well and you need to be fresh when she wakes up.”

 

I wasn’t even going to attempt to protest. My Ma would throw me into the shower with my clothes on and scrub me herself and not think twice about it.

 

“I brought the girls to help me give her another bath and clean up her nails. She’ll be upset if she sees them like this.”

 

My Ma knew her well. Bella was a strong person, but at the end of the day, she was a beautiful woman and she was always clean. She loved to soak in tub at the condo and she always showered twice a day.

 

I only nodded as I accepted the bag from her and headed into the adjoining bathroom.

 

The hot water felt amazing as it cascaded down my body. My Bella was safe and back where she belonged, no more worrying about who was out to get her. She would be free to go about her day without a guard outside of her door. She would be thrilled to hear that.

 

By the time I was clean and dressed; my Ma had Bella’s hair and body thoroughly washed and her clothes changed. Leaning over her body to kiss her forehead, she now smelled like my Bella. Rose was at the end of her bed rubbing her lotion on her feet and legs. I had to smile as the memory of the last morning we had spent together came to my mind.

 

Bella had a ritual of rubbing lotion all over her body after her shower; I would usually come into the room with her coffee and watch her as she slathered her legs in lotion. She would always look at me and smile, asking me if I was enjoying what I termed the lotion rub-down show. She knew it was one of my favorite things to watch.

 

The fresh feminine smell of her lotion permeated the air. I was so glad that rancid smell was gone. I knew it would upset her when she woke if she could still smell it.

 

Four days.

 

Four long days of watching my Bella sleep. Watching as the fluid in the bag went from amber to pale yellow. Dr. Banner said that all of her labs were looking very good and so today he would be stopping the meds that made her sleep. He couldn’t give us a timeframe of when she would wake; she would do it in her own time.

 

That was true Bella fashion; she did everything in her own time.

 

Charlie and I had taken shifts sitting with her. Neither one of us wanted her to be alone when she finally woke. I found him on more than one occasion telling her stories from her childhood. One night I found him whispering that he was sorry for deceiving her. He admitted that I had given him the credit card she was using to pay for things for our wedding. Charlie was a proud man, but he knew what was important, and he knew when to ask for help. We had agreed that she never needed to know that he didn’t pay for his daughter’s wedding, some things just weren’t that important.

 

I was no better. I had told her every secret I’d ever had in the hopes she would sit up and slap me for doing half of it.

 

I had contacted the jeweler that made all of the Cullen jewelry and had him repair her shamrock necklace. Nurse Coup encouraged me to place it back around her neck. Shamus brought me the bracelet that Gianna had stolen off of Bella’s arm; I took it downstairs and dropped it into the donation box of the hospital chapel after lighting a candle. I wanted nothing that woman had touched to be anywhere near my Bella. I had a new one made for her. I would wait until she woke up to place it on her wrist.

 

I had her engagement ring in my pocket. Ma had gotten it cleaned, but I wasn’t ready to place it back on her finger after what had happened. Ma told me to let Bella decide if she wanted that one back or the new one I had acquired. I hoped she didn’t want the old one back as I didn’t want it to hold any bad memories. I was sure the priest wouldn’t mind finding another piece in the donation box.

 

It was just after midnight, day five that she had been asleep. I had to catch up on some much-neglected paperwork. Jasper had sent me an email stating that he needed me to look at some discrepancies in his books. He told me that of course they could wait until Bella was well, but I needed a distraction for a while.

 

I had just opened the spreadsheet on the expenses of Whiskers when I heard it. The sound I had waited weeks to hear; the sound that made my heart race every time I heard it.

 

“Edward.”

 

  1. Chapter 25

 

Me: It’s wonderful to know that so many people love her.

 

Edward: My family is amazing. I was surprised that even a few friends were there, but glad just the same.

 

Me: You seriously aren’t going to tell her about when you first saw her?

 

Edward: No, what would that change? Just like she’ll never find out about me paying for our wedding, she doesn’t need to know.

 

Me: But isn’t that lying to her?

 

Edward: Listen, it’s my choice and I choose to not tell her.

 

Me: Fine, but when she finds out, and she will, she’s going to be pissed at you, and I want it to go on record that I warned you that you should’ve told her.

 

Edward: Noted, Mathisson. Now, I can assure you that our readers want to hear the rest of the story, not your opinions.

 

Me: Well, look who sharpened their tongue this morning…

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 25

 

Warmth.

 

Softness.

 

Comfort.

 

Death was a funny thing. I had heard stories of people seeing their lives flash before their eyes. However, I heard voices. My father telling me of the time I had climbed a tree when I was seven because the little boy next door double-dared me, this resulting in the breaking of my left arm and the little boy getting spanked all the way home by his mother.

 

Edward telling me how he had switched his mother’s sugar and salt when he was ten. She had baked several pies that day and wouldn’t let him have any, this being his retaliation. She caught him before any additional inedible pies were made. Needless to say, he couldn’t sit for a week, either.

 

Esme telling me she was so glad that I was going to be alright as she caressed me with her warm hands. The warmth was my favorite part of death. I had been so cold for so long. I snuggled further into the softness and let the warm comfort engulf me.

 

Tap…

 

Tap…

 

Tap…

 

Someone once said that hell was different for everyone. Clearly, my version of hell was having to listen to someone typing on a keyboard. Maybe if I asked nicely they would stop. Part of me was afraid that if I opened my eyes, I would lose the warmth and the comfort. But the tapping wouldn’t stop and it needed to stop, like now.

 

Slowly, I began to open my eyes, waiting for the cold to come rushing back, my hell to return. But it didn’t. The room was dimly lit by a single lamp in the corner, sitting on what appeared to be a nice desk. The bed I was currently resting in was so lush and soft, and god did it smell nice in here. A clear bag hung over my head, half full of fluid, with a clear tubing descended down, ending in my hand.

 

Tap…

 

Tap…

 

Tap…

 

Scanning the room, my eyes finally found the source of that annoying noise…Edward. Even as an angel, he was seriously handsome. The glow from his computer screen illuminated his pale features, the dark circles that lined his still-beautiful eyes made deeper by the darkness of the room. He looked so exhausted.

 

I had to tell him I loved him, that it was fine to go on without me, find love again and be happy.

 

“Edward,” I managed. My voice was barely above a whisper, husky and deep, sounding foreign to my ears.

 

I was startled by the loud crashing sound of his computer hitting the floor, not that he seemed to care as he sprung from the chair and onto my bed beside me.

 

“Bella, baby.”

 

His hands and eyes were exploring every part of my face, his lips leaving gentle kisses as they trailed after his fingertips.

 

“Edward.”

 

“Shhh, don’t talk, save your strength, you’re safe, I swear it this time.”

 

I looked to him in confusion, safe?

 

“Am I…dead?”

 

Edward began chuckling, “Thank god no, my love, you’re not dead.”

 

“What happened to…?”

 

“All taken care of, Fig, Gianna, James, Caius, all gone, they’ll never hurt you again.”

 

I closed my eyes at the relief of his admission. I would never have to worry about looking behind me and wondering if they had found me.

 

Edward began to tell me how Fig was actually responsible for Angus finding me. Had he just cleaned me off with a bucket of water, I would either be dead or sitting in Italy as Caius’s captive right now.

 

I shuddered at the thought.

 

“Caius was a very sick man, Edward.”

 

“Yes, I know. But he can’t hurt you from where he is now.”

 

My eyes shot open, was he sitting in jail?

 

Edward seemed to sense my panic and wrapped his arms around me, settling me on his left arm, his chin resting on the top of my head. “He’s sitting in Hell, right alongside Fig, James, and Gianna.”

 

Closing my eyes in relief, I let sleep take over.

 

Over the next two days, several things occurred. First, Dr. Banner removed all the I-Vs and had me start eating. You would think I would have just dived in and ate till I was full, but that wasn’t what happened. We started small and I filled up quite quickly. Esme brought homemade chicken broth and had me sip it. It warmed me from my head to my toes. She told me it was an old family recipe that she would share once I got home. It did wonders for me.

 

The second was Dr. Banner insisted I speak with a therapist. Dr. Irina Green was about my age, she had also been a victim of a kidnapping and told me some of the feelings and emotions she expected I might feel. She explained that she thought it would be a good idea to meet in her office a couple of times a week and I quickly agreed.

 

After eight days in the hospital, I was finally released. I had gained four pounds and could handle solid foods.

 

Esme and Edward insisted that I stay at Esme and Carlisle’s house; I chose not to argue as I did tire easily. Edward and I agreed to continue planning the wedding that was scheduled in just over a week. Esme assured Edward that she would do the majority of the work and make me rest.

 

True to her word, that was exactly what she did.

 

Edward needed to handle some neglected business matters and I insisted that he go and take care of them. Esme had me resting in an overstuffed chase lounge with the softest throw I had ever felt. It was heaven.

 

“I’m just a phone call away if you need me,” Edward told me for the hundredth time, kissing every part of my face he could find.

 

“Edward, I know, I’ll be fine. Maggie is coming over later and all I have planned is to sit here and be spoiled by your mother.”

 

“Son, I have plenty of experience taking care of sick children,” Esme said sternly from her place in the doorway.

 

“I know, Ma. I just don’t want to be away from…”

 

“But Jasper has been very patient and he needs you, now go…she’ll be fine.”

 

I watched as he walked across the carpet, stopping to kiss Esme’s cheek as he left the room.

 

“This was hell for him, too, Bella, not to the extent of your hell, but hell nonetheless.”

 

“I know, Esme, I’m just so glad this is finally behind us.”

 

EDWARD

 

I sat in my car for at least fifteen minutes. Every fiber of my being was begging me not to leave her there, to go back in that house and curl protectively around my Bella.

 

My business head finally kicked in as I started my car and headed to my condo. Twenty minutes later, I was standing in my elevator, replaying memories of the conversations that had followed Bella’s awakening; holding her hand as she told her father that Caius had killed Renee, how he had played on the other’s weaknesses to his gain. Hell was far too good for Caius.

 

One mystery that still remained for me was who had been driving Renee the day of Alice’s wedding. All fingers pointed to Caius, but until I had solid proof, I would always worry. I would find out who had been driving that car.

 

The ding of the door opening brought me out of my memories.

 

I walked the distance to my office, rounding the corner to find both Shamus and Jasper sitting around my desk. Shamus was already busy typing away on his laptop as Jasper was talking in whispers on his phone.

 

“Morning, Boss, how is Ms. Swan?” Shamus questioned in nearly perfect English.

 

I smiled as I took my seat behind my desk. “She’s doing much better, chased me out of the house today, which is a good sign.”

 

He smiled and began typing away again. Jasper quickly finished his phone call, leaning back in his chair.

 

“Sorry, that was my father.” The look on his face was a mixture of confusion and anger.

 

“Everything okay?”

 

“Yes, just family drama.”

 

I didn’t pry, this was clearly another sore subject and the look I had gotten from him at the hospital came back to mind.

 

“No Angus today?” Jasper questioned.

 

“He’s taking Maggie to the doctor, she’s been very ill the last few days,” I informed.

 

No one questioned the reason for the illness. He would tell us if he thought we needed to know, although I knew Angus would be thrilled if Maggie was indeed pregnant.

 

“Jasper, I had Shamus come today just in case we needed to get into any systems and have a look around.” Jasper gave me a puzzled look. “Shamus hasn’t found a firewall yet that he can’t break.”

 

Jasper only nodded in understanding. He leaned forward and placed three large file folders on my desk as he began. “When I took over for my father, I had our accountant give me a current financial overview. I changed all the passwords and encryption as you’d recommended.” Jasper began to open the files and arrange them. “Then I began doing random audits on the accounts as you’d suggested.”

 

He took a deep breath and then sat back in his chair as he continued. “Everything was fine for months,” he sighed and crossed his left leg over his right, his ankle resting on his knee. “When I got back from our honeymoon, the first thing I did was run an audit report. It was fine.”

 

His phone began to ring, but he silenced it.

 

“The next night, I was suffering from jetlag and was restless so since I was up, I decided to run another audit; this one was less than twenty-four hours later, but as you can see, the numbers are hugely different.”

 

I began scanning over the paperwork, seeing that he was correct. On all three accounts, the numbers were thousands of dollars different.

 

“Shamus, run these accounts.” I gave him the numbers and his fingers began to fly across the keys. “Jasper, are these the only accounts that show these large of withdrawals?”

 

He pondered for less than a second, “No, my Visa card had an unusual charge on it, too, but it was taken care of by the company.”

 

“Sorry for interrupting, Boss,” Shamus said getting our attention, “Mr. Whitlock, who do you know in Montepulciano?” he questioned again in broken English.

 

Jasper rose from his chair and made his way to the desk that Shamus sat at. “Montepulciano is the place my mother always travels to when she visits Italy. She’s been going there for years. I figured it was some kind of resort or spa.”

 

Where had I heard that name before?

 

“She actually just got back from there.”

 

I remembered Sherman saying Eileen was away and how I wondered why he would have chosen to let her vacation alone.

 

“Does she always go alone?”

 

I was not certain why I questioned this, but something just wasn’t adding up here.

 

“No, she usually takes Maria with her, like she did this time.”

 

I looked to Shamus who was looking intently at his computer screen.

 

“Has she ever taken you or Sherman with her?”

 

Jasper went into deep thought, “No, she’s only ever taken Maria. My dad never had time and she never wanted me to go. She always just took my sister.”

 

My gut was screaming at me, what woman didn’t take both of her children along when she went away on vacation? I could see it happening once in a while, but according to Jasper, this was a regular occurrence.

 

“How often does she go away?”

 

Before Jasper could answer, Shamus began to speak. “Three hundred and twelve times, always on Virgin Airlines, and the first time she took Maria with her there was an issue with her birth certificate matching her passport.” Jasper and I quickly turned to Shamus. “The note here says that the flight attendant questioned the validity of the documents and so the State of Mississippi had to verify the authenticity of the record.”

 

I looked to Jasper who was staring slack-jawed at Shamus.

 

“I told you, there isn’t a firewall that Shamus can’t get past.”

 

Jasper turned his attention to me, the look of shock written clear as day. “She was born premature and my father was concerned about letting her travel, or at least that’s the story I’ve heard,” Jasper said as Shamus continued to click away. Before Jasper could go any further, Shamus interrupted again.

 

“How can a baby be premature when the birth weight is over ten pounds?” Shamus was still clicking on his keyboard, he was clearly thinking out loud. This time Jasper quickly moved around to the computer screen, peering around Shamus’s shoulder. I watched as Jasper’s eyes moved around the screen wildly. “You see, right there, ten pounds three ounces,” Shamus looked to Jasper.

 

I watched Jasper’s face closely as it roamed the screen over and over. “This can’t be right; she was a preemie, my mom always said so. I’ve kidded Maria all of her life that she was always in a hurry to do things.”

 

I was still pondering who I knew in Montepulciano.

 

“Could it be that your parents had to get married?” I questioned Jasper. “Maybe the ‘premature’ thing was a ruse to cover up an unplanned pregnancy.”

 

“Cullen, I got the same speech from my mother as you did yours, that she was a virgin when she went to her marital bed. They knew each other for ten days before he returned and took her to the courthouse.”

 

So clearly it wasn’t a case of “oops, we’re pregnant” here.

 

“It doesn’t make any sense, Jasper, why would she lie about the baby being premature?”

 

Then it hit me like a Mack truck.

 

“Maria isn’t Sherman’s.”

 

Jasper’s head quickly snapped up. He said nothing and his eyes became emotionless as he pondered my statement.

 

I continued to watch as his face reflected memories flowing through his mind. “Shamus, check the dates of Eileen’s trips to Italy against the dates the money went missing,” I instructed.

 

Shamus began to quickly type and his brow furrowed.

 

“Her name is Maria,” Jasper whispered. I looked back to Jasper, he was clearly thinking out loud. “Her birth name is Maria, not Shannon or Megan or Claire, something that would reflect our Irish heritage. My dad might not be Ireland-born, but his grandparents were.”

 

“Jasper, what the hell are you talking about?” I asked as he continued to stare blankly at the wall.

 

This time Shamus looked away from his computer screen, his brows furrowed. “That doesn’t prove anything; your wife’s name is Alice, which is English.” Clearly, Shamus wasn’t following what Jasper was thinking, either.

 

“Alice’s name is actually Ailise,” I added before Jasper could respond.

 

The room grew deathly silent as all three of us looked at each other.

 

“Mom has insisted that all of our children be given proper Irish names. She said it would be a disgrace to the family if we didn’t choose Irish names to honor the family heritage,” Jasper thought aloud.

 

My eyes became huge as the memory of Caius’s last words returned to me. “If you kill me, you’ll never know…” I finished his declaration in my head…the truth. It was starting to all make sense.

 

“Jasper, do you have a picture of your sister?” I asked. I had only glanced at the picture of Maria that Sherman had shown me on his phone since I had been too distracted with Bella to really care that day. Jasper pulled out his phone and scrolled quickly, handing it over to me. As I studied her olive-toned face, her black hair, and her deep brown eyes staring back at me, I couldn’t help but wonder. Gazing up into Jasper’s anxious blue eyes, I asked, “Jasper, have you ever noticed how much Maria looks like…”

 

“Boss,” Shamus’s voice interrupted, “You’re on to something. Every time Eileen went to Italy, a large amount of money was transferred to a new account. I’m almost through the last firewall and we’ll know who…” Shamus’s eyes became huge as he stared at the screen, “Cac naofa!” (holy shit)

 

I sprang from my chair and quickly crossed the space between us. Nothing could have prepared me for the name that was showing on the computer screen.

 

“Jasper, where’s your mother today?”

 

Jasper looked at me as he began to shove his cell into his pocket. “She heard about Bella being found and insisted on visiting her today.”

 

Dialing Bella as quickly as I could, I began to run out of the office, taking the stairs down. Her phone rang and rang before it went to voicemail. I then tried my mother’s phone, but I got the same. I then tried the house phone, but it only rang and rang as well.

 

After finally clearing the last step, I threw open the door and ran to my car, Jasper and Shamus hot on my heels.

 

“Shamus, get all the men to my parent’s house, tell them not to stop for anything, just get the fuck over there now!”

 

How could I have been so stupid? My eagerness to make Bella safe had clouded my judgment once again. I began to pray that I wasn’t too late. I should have taken Caius’s words with an ounce of warning. I should have tortured him until he told me every last goddamn thing I could have beaten out of him, instead of just shooting him so quickly in my haste. Caius had not been man enough to pull off something like this alone. He would have had to have had help, like in everything else he did. Aro didn’t need Chicago; he had New York and Miami, not to mention Italy, so why was he doing this?

 

My speedometer read ninety as I rounded the ramp to get onto the highway. Traffic was heavy as I began to wind around vehicles, and then I drove on the shoulder when I noticed traffic had stopped.

 

Hitting the speed dial on my phone, I had to get someone over to the house; I could just feel it in my bones that something was very wrong.

 

“Edward,” my father’s voice filled my car.

 

“Dad!” I shouted into the microphone above my head.

 

“What is it, Edward?” he asked his voice full of concern.

 

“Where are you right now?”

 

“I’m having lunch with Sherman, why?”

 

I pounded my fist into my steering wheel as I again changed lanes onto the shoulder.

 

“Excuse yourself, I need your help and I need it now, but you can’t let Sherman know something’s up. I don’t know if he can be trusted right now.”

 

I glanced over to Jasper who was holding on for dear life as I increased my speed.

 

“Well, I think that’s a nice thank-you gift.”

 

God, I loved my father, he was quick on his feet when he needed to be.

 

“I don’t have all the facts yet, but I think Caius was acting for someone and I think it was Aro.”

 

Traffic seemed to clear suddenly and I pushed my foot further to the floor, my speed now at one hundred thirty.

 

“Your mother is always telling me the latest gossip she’s heard and I think you may be right.”

 

“Dad, I have all my men headed there now, I can’t get Ma or Bella to pick up the phone.”

 

“I’ll drop by Charlie’s house and see if he has any we can borrow.”

 

I watched as Shamus pulled out his cell and began dialing what I knew to be Charlie’s number. Seconds later, it was confirmed when I heard Shamus speaking in Gaelic, telling Charlie what we already knew and what we were doing.

 

“If this is true, Dad, you know what I’ll have to do.”

 

“Edward, I thought that horse was dead, quit beating it.”

 

“I’m nearly there, Dad, just hurry and get here.”

 

I didn’t wait for a response, I knew my dad would make up an excuse and Sherman would be none the wiser.

 

I began to pound on the remote as soon as the gate came into sight. I didn’t care if it wasn’t open enough for my car, I would crash it. The gate was open, but not quite enough as I heard my side mirrors being ripped off. Slamming on the brakes in front of the house, I could hear my tires protesting the sudden demand. Shamus was a little faster as he didn’t wait for the car to stop or bother trying the door knob; with his gun pulled, his body seemed to burst through the door like a cartoon character. The house was too quiet as I entered, shouting for Bella. When I received no response, I began taking the stairs two at a time.

 

I was nearly to the top when I heard the distinct sound of a gunshot.

 

  1. Chapter 26

 

Me: Wait…

 

Edward: What?

 

Me: Why would…?

 

Edward: Huh?

 

Me: How did…?

 

Edward: Just spill it, Mathisson.

 

Me: um…

 

Edward: Should we just have them read for themselves?

 

Me: …

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 26

 

“So, what flavor will it be this morning?”

 

Since I had been home from the hospital, Esme had served me ice cream with nearly every meal. She was trying everything to help me gain my weight back.

 

“Surprise me,” I chuckled.

 

Esme had placed a tray of hot tea on the side table when she first came in the room. I had begged her to show me how to make a proper cup of tea. She told me to get back to my previous weight and she would show me her secret.

 

“I do have a confession.”

 

I looked to Esme as she poured the tea, “Okay?”

 

“Lauren phoned me this morning. She’s having an issue with some paperwork a client has given her and since it’s entirely in Gaelic, she’s asked for my help.”

 

I sighed slightly. “Don’t worry about it, Esme. She’s still a friend of your family.”

 

“Actually, she’s not, but the client she’s working for is.” Before she could say anything more, the doorbell sounded. “Speak of the devil.”

 

Esme gently patted my knee and turned and left the room. Grasping the handle of my cup, I slowly brought it to my lips. I closed my eyes as I allowed the warm sweet goodness to flow down my throat. God, she could make a good cup of tea.

 

I could faintly hear the front door opening and I had to snicker as I thought of Lauren walking through the massive foyer. She had to have been desperate and swallowed a lot of crow to pluck up the courage to face Esme again. Thank god I wouldn’t have to deal with her for my wedding.

 

Maggie was due to join us later. She hadn’t been feeling very well lately. Esme came right out and asked if she could be pregnant. Maggie denied the possibility as she swore up and down that she would be going to her marriage bed as a virgin, but the way she and Angus were around each other had me skeptical. She was going to the doctor today at the insistence of Angus.

 

I had just poured my second cup of tea when I heard the doorbell again. It must have been later than I thought as I was certain it was Maggie. Taking in the warmth of the tea, I continued to relax into the chair.

 

“Bella,” Esme’s voice sounded from the hall and I looked to the doorway as she entered the room with a look of disgust on her face, “I’m sorry to do this to you, lass,” her voice was low yet emotionless, “Eileen is here to see you, she heard what happened and she says she wants to make certain you’re alright.”

 

I smiled at Esme, “It’s alright, she’s technically family and we do have to treat her as such.”

 

Esme again placed her warm hand on my knee, “You have the heart of a lion and the touch of a lamb.”

 

“Oh, Esme, hasn’t there been enough fighting and hating? I just want some happiness.” Esme could only return my smile as she turned back to the hallway.

 

I could smell her before she ever made it into the room, the overwhelming cloud of Eileen’s signature Chanel perfume preceding her into the room. I had never been a fan of that particular scent, but to each their own I believed. She floated into the room wearing a ridiculous frilly pink skirt suit and my mind immediately conjured an image of that creepily sweet dark arts professor from those wizarding movies.

 

“Bella, oh, my dear, I just could not believe it when I heard the terrible news,” Eileen declared dramatically, her hand planted firmly on her chest.

 

She moved quickly across the room and began to pour herself a cup of tea; all the while continuing to tell me how she was in an area of Italy that she couldn’t get good cell coverage and therefore couldn’t call sooner.

 

I looked to Esme who was standing in the doorway, arms crossed against her chest and eyes rolling. “Yes, well, as you can clearly see, our Bella is doing just fine.”

 

Did I mention how much I loved Esme?

 

“Oh!” Eileen stopped stirring the tea in her cup, “Dare I ask, is the wedding postponed?”

 

I couldn’t help but laugh. The woman standing before me was not the Eileen I had been used to seeing. This one was acting as if we had been the best of friends for years.

 

“No, we’re actually just finishing up the plans today.”

 

The look on her face was of surprise, maybe a little shock.

 

“Yes, and speaking of planning, I have to leave you two alone for a few minutes,” Esme’s voice sounded reluctant, as if she would rather have had a root canal than leave me alone with Eileen to go help Lauren, who was still waiting downstairs.

 

“Oh, Esme, don’t worry about us, I’ll be more than happy to keep Bella company,” Eileen smiled brightly.

 

The look on Esme’s face was of apology, but it wasn’t her fault. I smiled and gave her a loving wink.

 

“I’ll make this as quick as possible,” Esme began, only to be quickly interrupted by Eileen.

 

“Take your time, Bella and I will be right here when you’re finished,” Eileen giggled and it made my skin crawl.

 

Esme shot me a look that said she was sorry and she would hurry as she left the room.

 

My tea was lukewarm at this point and Eileen quickly offered to warm it up for me. I closed my eyes and let my head rest against the back of the chaise. I still wasn’t a hundred percent and it frustrated me that I would tire so easily. I had nearly fallen asleep when I heard Eileen stirring my fresh cup of tea before handing it to me with a smile.

 

“So tell me, Bella, what are your colors?”

 

I took a long sip of my tea, trying to work up the desire to answer her. The last thing I wanted to do was share my plans for my wedding with her.

 

“I’m going with the Cullen family colors,” I finally offered.

 

There, truthful answer, yet completely avoided. She wouldn’t question as to what that would mean. I knew she hadn’t done her homework enough to know such an important detail about her daughter-in-law’s family.

 

“That’s very admirable of you.” Eileen turned to gaze out the window as she continued to sip her tea. “You know, Bella, I was a lot like you when I was your age,” she rested her cup on her saucer as she continued to look into the garden. Lost in her thoughts, she began to smile just a hint. The tea was doing its usual job of relaxing me, perhaps a little more than usual.

 

“I was once in love with a man who I thought the sun rose and set in.”

 

My body was so placid at this point, I felt warm and relaxed from my toes to my eyebrows.

 

“How long have you and Sherman been together?” I asked, realizing my words were becoming slurred and my arms suddenly felt heavy.

 

Eileen quickly turned toward me again, a look of pure hatred crossing her face. “Who said I was talking about Sherman?” her voice was sharp and laced with sarcasm. I tried to respond, but my voice would not come. “How are you feeling now, Bella?” she smirked. She moved to be directly in front of me, kneeling to place her face even with mine. “I’ve watched you, Bella, I’m sure you didn’t realize it, but I’ve just been watching…and waiting.” She ran her index finger along my new bracelet, “I heard Gianna took your original, such as stupid girl that one.” I couldn’t feel my legs at this point; Eileen had clearly drugged my tea. “Hardly her fault, her mother was a whore, she came by it naturally.”

 

I looked at her questioningly.

 

“Ah, I take it by that look you know about the Volturi family. So do I, dear, all too well.” She rose to her feet and then took a seat in the chair across from me. “Well, let me tell you a few things you may not know about them.” She crossed her legs and picked up her cup of tea, delicately bringing it up to her lips as her memories played across her face, making her look deceptively pleasant and happy.

 

“It was the summer of my eighteenth birthday and my parents took me to Italy to celebrate. My sister and I had been shopping and stopped by this little cafe to have lunch. She and I had been talking and we were ready to head back to our hotel when we asked for our check. The waiter told us that the gentlemen across the way had taken care of it. Of course, I looked over to see who he was referring to and was immediately swept off my feet.

 

“Aro Volturi, as I later learned was his name, was the most handsome man I had ever seen. He came over and kissed mine and my sister’s hands and said all the right words at the right time. He made me feel special, needed, and for the first time, sexy.”

 

Her free hand went loosely around her neck and she smiled at me almost shyly before looking out the window again. “He was so gentle with me and after only three days, he told me he was in love with me. I returned the sentiment. Being young and naive, I just knew he was going to be my forever.”

 

Suddenly, she looked my way again, the pleasant part of her memory gone from her mind, her face void of emotion.

 

“I returned home and wrote to him every day. He would send me gifts almost daily and swore he would come to Ireland to visit me and ask my father for permission to court me properly. Two months later, I found out I was pregnant. I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to tell him.”

 

The look on her face changed again as she continued to sip her tea, her eyes never meeting mine. “That’s when he told me he was already married.”

 

She slowly sat her tea on the table as she again rose from her chair. “He told me his marriage was as good as over, but we would have to wait to be together and I would have to keep quiet, that if his wife found out about his indiscretion, she would take all of his money and we would have nothing. I believed him and he paid my way and sent me to America.”

 

I could just make out the sound of my cell phone vibrating on the table across the room. I prayed it was Edward, knowing if I didn’t answer he would send one of his men or even come himself to check on me.

 

“I was pregnant, alone, and needed help in a strange country. I only brokenly spoke the language and I had no support here. I was in the states less than forty-eight hours when I met Sherman Whitlock. He was a nice enough man, young and easy to fool, and so eager to please. I knew what I had to do, so I seduced him and he fell for it hook, line, and sinker.”

 

My phone began to vibrate again. Dear god, please let it be Edward.

 

“He came back a few days later and professed his love for me and we married immediately. When the appropriate amount of time had elapsed, I told him we were pregnant. He was thrilled and then went and spoke with his family. Turns out he’d been on the fence as to whether or not he wanted to run his family’s business. I went from one crime family to another, it was perfect.”

 

The house phone began to ring. It continued several more times and I started to worry about Esme, why wasn’t she picking it up?

 

“Aro kept telling me he loved me and that soon we would be together.” The house phone began to ring again. “I named the baby Maria, after his mother. Sherman never questioned me, never once did he question anything I ever did, the fool. We only ended up pregnant with Jasper after a night of heavy drinking on my part out of loneliness and missing Aro. Sherman always thought me a bit frigid once we married, but he wasn’t who I wanted touching me. He was always so…ignorant.”

 

Her arms wrapped tightly around herself.

 

“Jasper was a year old when Aro’s ex-wife, Carmen, paid me a visit. She told me she knew all about me and my daughter. It was then I found out that I was only one of many women Aro had made promises of love to. Carmen informed me she had divorced Aro and was now with a man who treated her with dignity and respect.”

 

She turned now to face me. “She was smart like you, Bella, she made the man pursue her, prove himself worthy of her. He’s a butcher in New Jersey. She has a huge house and she wants for nothing. You have the most powerful man in this city at your beck and call. You have everything that I should’ve had.”

 

She slowly began to walk toward the door, stopping once she reached the table where her purse sat. “I did everything for that man and he treated me like nothing, he just tossed me aside. After I heard that he was no longer married, I went to him with our daughter and I just knew he would take me as his wife, but instead he told me he wanted nothing more of me than to just be one of his goomahs.”

 

She then turned back toward me and I could now see the shiny gun she had in her hand.

 

“It was then I began to plan.” Her hand caressed the gun like a mother would caress a baby’s face. “I began taking money from Sherman’s accounts and sending it to bank accounts I sat up under Aro’s name so if they were ever discovered, he would be the one implicated. Of course, I had a part to play, too. Who would believe shallow, stupid redneck-marrying Eileen, the queen of cheapness and greediness, would be capable of years of detailed planning and patience with being belittled and ridiculed as a social spectacle? No one, and that’s the beauty of all this. I’ll be the one having the last laugh.

 

“My Maria has been denied all these years, but she’s also been patient. She knows her part in all of this as well. My precious girl is brilliant, just like her mother. She’s going to run the Volturi family now. It was always my plan to get Gianna and Caius out of the way, their stupidity just made it easier. It was Maria’s idea to have Aro attend the wedding you know. She told Jasper that she and Gianna were old friends, practically like family. Again, Sherman never questioned anything.

 

“Nice job, by the way. It was a beautiful wedding, and once I make sure my son marries properly, I’ll certainly follow tradition and deliver the baby quilt to its rightful mother to use with my grandchildren. Oh, and my family’s real lace will go to her as well.”

 

My phone began to vibrate again.

 

“Yes, you were just too pretty at the wedding for that sick bastard, Caius, to resist and I encouraged him to pursue you. I even told him you and Edward were fighting and that you had mentioned you found his eyes erotic. I honestly think he believed you would find him desirable, the poor nutcase.

 

“I knew how Edward would react with you gone; I knew he would do all the dirty work for me, including getting rid of those bastard children of Aro’s before he took care of himself. Men are such basic, simple creatures. But Caius took too long. I told him to move quicker, but he insisted he wanted to break you down first, make you want him completely, so I took my opportunity and flew to Italy while he enjoyed his game, and this time, I called all the shots,” she said blowing on her pistol as if she had just fired it.

 

I was not certain I wanted her to tell me what she meant by that.

 

“So you see, in the end I’ll have everything I want. Maria is the head of the Volturi family now, and once I convince my son he’s better off as a widower from that annoying little bitch he’s married to, Jasper will take over here as soon as a few loose ends are tied up. I’ll finally take my place as the mother to two of the most powerful people in this country and Europe and have everything I was always supposed to.”

 

She was serious; this had all been her plan all along.

 

“Esme made it far too easy today and Lauren was all too eager to help me. Well, it did take a little promise of a large sum of cash on my part, but not to worry as I plan to kill her as well.”

 

I could feel my breathing become erratic as she stepped closer to me. God, please let Edward get here quick.

 

“The only thing I haven’t decided yet is, do I kill you first or do I let you watch everyone else die.”

 

I could feel the tears rolling down my face, yet I was powerless to do anything about it.

 

“Only one thing wrong with your little plan there, Eileen,” Esme now stood in the doorway once again. Her hair was a mess and her shirt was twisted. Eileen’s face was of shock and I wanted to scream for Esme to run, but again nothing would come out. “Your little partner in crime downstairs can’t throw a right hook to save her ass.”

 

I had always known Esme to be a graceful woman, she moved with a particular air about her. Not this time, though. She was a mother bear protecting her cub.

 

Eileen didn’t know how to react as Esme tackled her to the floor, smashing the lamp that had sat on a side table that was now on its side. The bodies of the two women blurred into one as they began to fight for the gun in Eileen’s clinched hands.

 

“Bella!” the sound of Edward’s voice echoed from downstairs as Eileen and Esme continued to thrash around on the floor. I could hear the thunderous sound of feet hitting the wooden steps and I questioned if all of Edward’s men were on their way up the stairs.

 

The sound of a gunshot quickly drowned out the sounds coming from the stairs and the thrashing of the women abruptly stopped.

 

Seconds later, Edward and Shamus burst through the door, splinters flying as the frame gave way.

 

Eileen and Esme lay motionless, Esme currently pinned under Eileen. I couldn’t control the tears that ran down my face. This family wouldn’t survive without Esme.

 

I held my breath as Edward crossed the room towards the two women, his gun pointed at the back of Eileen’s head. I watched as Esme’s hands began to move, struggling to get Eileen off of her.

 

Edward moved quickly as he rolled Eileen’s body to the side. Esme lay on the floor, her shirt stained with bright red blood, her breathing heavy and her eyes closed. All eyes were on Esme as she blinked and slowly sat up, Edward quick to help her as he began to check her over. Eileen’s lifeless eyes were still open as she stared blankly at the ceiling.

 

Esme’s nose wrinkled as she looked at the dead woman’s body beside her, “You’d think someone would’ve told that awful woman that perfume has an expiration date.”

 

A/N

 

Thank you to everyone who is reviewing and enjoying. I was going to leave this chapter with another cliffy, but decided I have played with you guys enough.

 

Here is a question I have for you…

 

What is significant about the town in Italy that I chose for last chapter?

 

  1. Chapter 27

 

Me: Was your mom this tough when you were little?

 

Edward: She was always with us. My friends loved coming to our house. She always had food for us and she’d go out in the driveway and play ball with us.

 

Me: I’d love to have seen that.

 

Edward: Wait until Bella and I have grandbabies for her.

 

Me: I feel bad for Jasper and Sherman.

 

Edward: I know what you mean. Jasper is worried that I think he was in on Eileen’s plans.

 

Me: You know he wasn’t, right?

 

Edward: Of course, he’s my brother.

 

Me: I can’t imagine what was going on in your head when you drove over to your parents’ house.

 

Edward: I was praying for the safety of both my Ma and my wife.

 

Me: (smiles) You said your wife.

 

Edward: I don’t need a piece of paper or a priest to tell me that Bella’s my wife. I feel it in here. (hand on his chest, over his heart)

 

Me: Okay, enough with the heavy. We have news…

 

Edward: We do, but first I want to be the first to say this…

 

Me: Oh god, what now?

 

Edward: I TOLD YOU SOOOO!

 

Me: Yes, oh mighty Edward, you told me to write it and I kept telling you no.

 

Edward: AND I WAS FUCKING RIGHT! (stands up and dances around, which isn’t a bad thing since he’s shirtless and that fucking “V” is on display)

 

Me: Are you finished, can I share the news?

 

Edward: (does three more hip thrusts in my face, again not complaining) Go ahead.

 

Me: My amazing readers have asked for a sequel and I’ve agreed to write it.

 

Edward: So that means we get to continue to have our little conversations?

 

Me: Yeah…no, Bella has volunteered to talk this time.

 

Edward: Then it’ll be in my POV?

 

Me: Some of it. A few chapters she has to tell the story.

 

Edward: Can I watch? I mean the two of you, having a conversation? (using air quotes around conversation)

 

Me: She can hear you, you know.

 

Edward: Fuck… (hangs head)

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 27

 

Once the dust settled, Edward took Carlisle out into the hallway. Moments later, an ambulance arrived to take me back the hospital. My biggest fear was that the drug she had given me would have an adverse effect. Jacob came in while Edward and Carlisle were talking and took my teacup in hand and began to sniff it.

 

“Troll killer,” he spoke quickly and low.

 

“Not to worry, Ms. Swan, I’ve used that drug a number of times and although it seems potent, it wears off quickly.”

 

Edward and Carlisle entered the room again; Edward was at my side before I could even blink.

 

“I saw the tapes, love.”

 

Tapes?

 

Carlisle was quick to answer my questioning look. “Esme wants this to be a nursery, she had audio and video placed in the room for when the grandbabies are over.”

 

If I could have laughed, I would have. Esme was always a step ahead of everyone.

 

My father was the next to enter the room, and as much as I loved and needed Edward, I would always want my dad to comfort me. He quickly looked to his right, the covered body of Eileen stopping him in his tracks.

 

His eyes then turned back to me, “Bells, you responsible for this?” When I lay there motionless and didn’t answer, he rushed past Edward to get to me.

 

“Sir, she was drugged by Eileen with troll killer, it’s an herbal concoction, we use it sometimes to get answers we need. It wears off pretty quickly, but I can give her an antidote,” Jacob informed.

 

Edward took my hand in his, “Are we sure it’s troll killer?”

 

Jacob nodded and then passes the teacup to Edward. With a quick sniff, Edward agreed. “Give her the antidote.”

 

Jacob quickly left the room and I heard a loud clatter of voices coming up the stairs moments later. Riley entered first, followed by Emmett. Esme came in behind Emmett, her small frame nearly blocked by Emmett’s larger one. Her clothes were now changed and her hair perfect. She crossed the room, shooing away Charlie and Carlisle.

 

“Let me see my baby.” Esme quickly took my arm and began cleaning a spot on my skin in a circular motion, the smell of alcohol flooding my nose. “This will sting just a little, lass.”

 

Seconds later, I felt a slight sting which was followed by an overall warm feeling filling my body, much like the feeling I got from the original drug.

 

“I still want her to be checked out,” Edward’s sharp voice resonated.

 

“Of course, Edward,” Esme replied condescendingly.

 

The medication must have been working, as I could finally move my fingers.

 

“Someone want to tell me exactly what happened here?” my father’s concerned voice questioned from across the room.

 

Esme took in a deep breath and then turned to face him. “It’s all my fault, Charlie.”

 

Esme sounded so sad and broken. It wasn’t her fault, and as soon as I could talk, I was going to inform her of that very thing.

 

“Lauren called early this morning in an absolute panic as she was recently given the Fitzpatrick christening. Mrs. Fitzpatrick wanted all of the programs in Gaelic. You know as well as I do that Lauren may be of Irish blood, but she never took the time to embrace it.”

 

This wasn’t a surprise to me; most of the Irish families that lived in the neighborhood embraced their heritage. You either got with the program or you were left behind.

 

“Mrs. Fitzpatrick does so much for the women’s shelter over on Main that I couldn’t say no.” She lowered her head and began to rub her hands up and down her pant-covered thighs.

 

“Lauren walked in, thanking me profusely, not knowing I wasn’t doing this for her benefit,” her head shaking as she spoke. “I told her to have a seat in the sunroom and that I would make us a pot of tea.” Esme then rose from her chair and began to look out of the window into the garden, just as Eileen had done not long ago.

 

“Had she stayed in the sunroom, her plan might have worked.” I was finally able to move my head, so I tried to clear my throat, but it was still silent.

 

“She came into the kitchen, the look of confidence on her overly-tanned face,” Esme sneered. “She raised the knife she’d smuggled in, like I had reason to be afraid of a knife,” Esme let out a huff; clearly she wasn’t afraid of the blade of a knife.

 

“You’re very brave, Esme,” my father spoke.

 

Esme turned to face us once again, “Bravery has nothing to do with it.”

 

Edward and Carlisle began to chuckle. Charlie looked between the three, frustrated he wasn’t in on the joke.

 

“She had the balls to try and throw a punch when I knocked that pathetic pocket knife out of her hand.” I would have given anything to have seen that.

 

“She forgot the one rule in engaging an enemy.” The men began to chuckle harder. “Never bring a knife to a gunfight.”

 

Esme was clearly unscathed from her run-in with Lauren. It was as if Lauren had forgotten to flush the toilet rather than pulled a knife on her.

 

“Why would her plan have worked if she would’ve stayed in the sunroom?” my father finally asked the question I wanted to know the answer to as well.

 

“Because her favorite gun is in the kitchen, the sunroom only has a shotgun and Esme isn’t as good with a shotgun,” Carlisle answered and a smile came across Esme’s face as she leaned into his side, nodding in agreement.

 

“It’s a very nice nine millimeter with a silencer on it. Eileen never knew what was happening down here. Now, had I used the shotgun, she could’ve heard what happened and killed my girl,” Esme said seriously.

 

And just like that, Esme became my hero.

 

The next day, I was once again sitting in the Cullen house. This time I was allowed to get up long enough to set the table. Esme had insisted on having a big family dinner. I watched in awe as she scurried around the kitchen as if doing the most graceful ballet dance. No matter how long I lived, I would never look that good in the kitchen.

 

Once everyone was seated and grace was said, the only noise you could hear was the clanking of forks against plates and an occasional moan of someone enjoying their food. While everyone else had plates of salad, I was forced to eat yet another bowl of ice cream.

 

Maggie had arrived late yesterday after the guys had cleaned up the two bodies. Had I not been here and seen all the blood everywhere, I would never have guessed there had been a gunfight. Even the front door had been re-hung and was absolutely perfect. Esme had insisted that Maggie and Angus be here for the family dinner as well.

 

“Bella, I have only the programs left to put together and I thought we could do some this evening as long as you’re not too tired,” Maggie offered.

 

“No, I’m more than willing to do a few. But first, missy, I want to know what’s been going on with you.”

 

The smile on Maggie’s face dropped and her head lowered. It was instant waterworks. Angus quickly took her hand and drew her into his side.

 

“Oh, my, Maggie, whatever is the matter,” Esme asked concerned.

 

I watched as Maggie’s body began to convulse with sobs. Poor Angus just continued to rub her back.

 

“It’s my fault she’s so upset, Mrs. Cullen,” Angus’s voice was sad, regretful, and I wanted to go over and hug it all away.

 

Maggie took in a deep breath and wiped her eyes with her dinner napkin. “Since I was a wee little one, I’ve had my wedding planned out,” her voice was so small, not the usual strong person she was.

 

“I made a promise to myself that I’d save myself for my husband and give him all of me.” No one moved or tried to say anything as Maggie continued. “I love Angus with everything I have, but I’ll never be able to show him that love and give him all of me now.”

 

I quickly turned to Edward; I wanted to know why he wouldn’t let Angus marry Maggie.

 

“Angus isn’t in the country legally,” Edward’s husky voice filled the table, clarifying the situation for everyone. “He’s not able to apply for a legal marriage license here.”

 

It was as if the angles from heaven above shouted it themselves as three female voices cried out at the exact same time.

 

“Daddy, you have to fix this!” Amex added as she slammed her tiny hand down on the table.

 

“Who do you know, Carlisle?” Rose’s voice was not far behind.

 

“Dad, call someone and do something!” I wasn’t about to be left out, either. Angela also nodded vehemently in agreement.

 

Esme shook her head as she began to chuckle. We girls were all talking over one another, demanding that our fathers do something.

 

Poor Maggie sat gob-smacked in her chair.

 

Finally, Carlisle raised both hands in surrender, “Fine, yes, I’ll make a call.”

 

“Right now, Daddy!” Amex shouted.

 

I turned to see Edward’s face growing red, his eyes boring into mine. “What?” I questioned him.

 

“What am I, Bella, chopped liver?”

 

I was confused at his question and his anger as well.

 

“Calm down, Son, these ladies know who can do certain things and who they need to call on,” Carlisle said in defense.

 

“Oh, so only you can forge some documents?” Edward’s voice was tight and clipped, his anger now spilling over in his words.

 

“No, I could forge them just as easily as you can, or I can call Governor Stamford to play some golf and then have him sign an executive order so everything’s aboveboard.”

 

I watched as Edward hung his head and began to chuckle. “Touche, Dad, touche.”

 

Emmett was sitting back in his chair shaking his head, his look was of disbelief.

 

“What has your crow, Muscles?” Carlisle questioned.

 

“Just an observation.”

 

“Continue.”

 

“It’s just that with one word from these little daddy’s girls, they have the two of you snapping to attention.”

 

My dad let out a deep-bellied laugh. Carlisle followed.

 

“What, what’s so funny?” Emmett questioned.

 

“Son, when you’re blessed to have a little girl, you’ll learn there’s nothing you won’t do to make her smile.”

 

“Pfft.”

 

“Muscles, when my three were little, I was their mannequin when they wanted to play dress-up. I was their guest at more tea parties than I can count. I cleaned up scraped knees and broke up fights over favorite shirts. I’ve had the pleasure to be the first boy they ever danced with and to have warm wet strawberry-scented kisses every night before bed. I held my daughters as they cried over first crushes and even one particularly persistent young man who had my daughter followed,” my dad turned to Edward and winked.

 

“I was blessed with Abbie and again I sat at that small table with my knees to my ears and I sipped the tea she made me, no matter what it tasted like. I let her put lipstick on me and paint my nails. My own girls have long since grown up, but I can assure you that when Edward and Bella bless us with a little girl, you’ll once again find myself and Carlisle with barrettes in our hair, feather boas around our necks, and frilly hats on our heads.”

 

Not a dry eye was left at that table after my dad’s speech.

 

“Sorry to disappoint you, Sir, but Bella and I will only be having boys,” Edward was trying very hard to be serious.

 

“Oh, well, I’m certain I can speak for Carlisle when I say this to you, Edward; you can only pray to be blessed with a little girl.”

 

I noticed Sherman had grown very quiet and I was certain he was thinking of Maria. My heart broke for him.

 

“Sherman, do you need any help with the funeral?” Esme’s voice was warm and gentle.

 

Sherman’s head quickly turned in her direction. “We’re just having a small service, since it’ll only be Jasper, Alice, and me.”

 

Esme reached over and took Sherman’s hand in hers. “We’ll all be there, Sherman. She was still your wife and I know that at one point in time, you loved her. She gave you a wonderful son and we’ll all benefit from his devotion to this family,” Esme patted Sherman’s hand as his other discretely wiped his eyes.

 

When the truth about Eileen was finally told, Sherman could only shake his head in disbelief. He knew all along that Eileen had never loved him, but he had loved her. He admitted that they only shared two moments of intimacy their whole time together. She had lied to him, saying she didn’t care for sex and he had been gentleman enough not to push; meanwhile, she had been enjoying regular visits to Aro.

 

After the shootings, my father had contacted a friend of his who had moved to Italy several years ago. He had become a constable in a town not far from where Aro lived. He alerted him that there might be an issue. When the police arrived at Aro’s estate, they found a very happy Maria shouting out orders to men who wouldn’t listen to her. They also found a naked Aro with a knife through his chest in an upstairs bedroom. He had been dead for some time. Maria was taken into custody and was awaiting trial for murder.

 

Jasper had been concerned that Edward would think he’d been involved in Eileen’s plans. Edward had made it quite clear that he knew Jasper better than that. The tapes had also proved Jasper and Sherman had no knowledge of what Eileen had been plotting.

 

“I’ll never fall for a pretty smile and an accent again,” Sherman’s words brought me back to the present. “With present company excluded, women are nothing but headaches.”

 

I felt so bad for him, he was such a good man and he deserved someone to love him, we all deserved that.

 

“Mr. Whitlock, you sound just like my poor Ma,” Maggie’s voice was now back to its jubilant tone. “When my Da left, he took a huge part of her heart with him.”

 

Maggie continued to tell us of how her parents married extremely young and quickly had two girls, herself and her sister, Caitlin. Her Da left literally in the middle of the night. Her Ma was left with huge debts and two small girls to raise on her own. He’d said he had found the love of his life in a neighboring village, too bad the love of his life had a husband already and shot him to death when he came to profess his love.

 

“She’s been alone all these years and she swears she’ll never fall for a man again.”

 

I remembered seeing a picture of Maggie’s mom and sister one day while visiting her shop. She was a beautiful woman who looked like a slightly older version of Maggie.

 

“How long has it been since you’ve seen your Ma, Maggie?” Amex questioned.

 

Maggie closed one eye and tilted her head to the ceiling, “Almost four years, I’d speck.”

 

“Oh, my,” Esme spoke.

 

“Oh, not to worry, lass, I’ve been so busy since Mrs. Whitlock’s nuptials that I’ve paid for my Ma and my sister to come over and help me, they arrive this weekend,” Maggie’s face became even brighter as she spoke to Esme.

 

“Maggie, what’s your Ma’s name?” Esme questioned.

 

“Ma’s is Shannon, and my little sister is Caitlyn Gael. They’ll be here on Sunday, in time to help with Ms. Bella’s wedding.”

 

I couldn’t help but to smile at her joy. I knew that since Alice’s wedding, her business had really picked up and I knew she was booking events into the next year. I was happy for her; she made people feel special and tried to make their day perfect.

 

Now, about Sherman…

 

Three days later, we all stood under a huge tree behind Esme and Carlisle’s house. Sherman and Jasper stood side by side as the soft summer breeze ruffled their jackets. I had questioned Edward about how they would explain the death of Eileen to her family back in Ireland. He said that in families such as ours, you knew that if you did something as sinister as what Eileen had done, the family would shun her. It would be as if she had never existed. Maria could ask for all the help in the world, but none would be given. In our family, trust was everything.

 

“I found your letters you got from him. I read all the promises he gave you, the dreams he said he had about you,” Sherman’s voice rang strong and clear.

 

“I’d tried to love you, I was always faithful to you, and even though you spit in my face, I stayed true to my vows to you. I took back all the money you stole and I’m helping my son build our company, the one you tried to destroy. Goodbye, Eileen.” I watched as Sherman opened the urn and dumped the container onto the ground.

 

Jasper said nothing as he continued to stare at the ashes at his feet. I watched as a ray of sunshine danced off his hair, the golden strands glistening in their path. “When my children ask me what their grandmother was like when she was alive, I’m going to lie and tell them that you loved everyone and had a good heart. No child should ever have bad memories of the woman who gave them life; that’s all you did, but I’m going to work on forgiving you.”

 

Esme was beside Jasper so fast that she was almost a blur. She wrapped her arms around him tightly and kissed his cheek. She whispered into his ear so quietly that no one else could hear. Softly, she cradled him as if he was a small boy as he shook with silent sobs in her arms. They stood like that for several minutes, no one making a single sound.

 

Jasper slowly looked into her eyes as he and Esme shared a smile. “I’d be honored to call you Ma,” Jasper’s voice broke the silence.

 

“Come on then, lad, we have so much to make up for,” Esme’s warm motherly voice chuckled.

 

It was days like these that I was so glad I’d worn waterproof mascara.

 

A/N

 

That’s right, I’m writing a sequel! I’ve had more people ask me for a continuation and at first, I told Gemma that I didn’t have enough ideas for this, yet I was always telling her we had to add this or that to the Facebook page.

 

So yes, we’re nearing the end of SAS and will soon begin the next installment, Claddaghs and Chaos.

 

Thank you to everyone who is currently reading and to Gemma for all her hard work on the Facebook page.

 

But mostly…to my beta, Dollybigmomma, who holds my hand and spends hours on the phone with me running over ideas and even typing revisions for me…you rock, girl.

 

 

  1. Chapter 28

 

Me: My heart is aching for Jasper. I know the circumstances aren’t the greatest, but he did lose his mother.

 

Edward: Jasper is a strong individual. He’s going to work through this and be a better person despite it all.

 

Me: I know you said you wanted all boys, but I’m hoping you have a little girl; one who’ll do all of those things Charlie spoke of.

 

Edward: Between you and I, so do I. And I know I’d treasure every moment.

 

Me: So you’re going to help Angus become a citizen.

 

Edward: Well, my dad is going to do the legwork; I’ll make sure the attorneys are ready.

 

Me: What about Shamus?

 

Edward: Please, Mathisson, I owe Tanya at least that much. We’ll take care of them both.

 

Me: You know, for a bad-ass mob boss, you have a very big heart.

 

Edward: Yeah, well, don’t let that shit get out; I have a reputation to uphold.

 

Me: My lips are sealed…

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 28

 

EDWARD

 

I’d heard that what didn’t kill us made us stronger. If that was true, then Bella was one of the strongest people I knew.

 

I had taken too many chances with her safety as of late, not seeing what was directly in front of me. That changed today.

 

Last night after dinner, I spoke with Charlie. I asked him if he was happy with the department he currently worked for. He questioned me, making me get directly to the point. I told him I wanted Bella better protected, by someone who wouldn’t be swayed by sex or money. I needed someone who would protect her as if she was the most precious thing in the world.

 

He pondered for several minutes, and then I said I would double his salary. He continued to ponder, and then I offered to triple it.

 

Charlie agreed to matching his current salary and placing additional money away for his retirement. He formally resigned from the Chicago PD last night.

 

Bella’s warm body lay still and peaceful beside mine. I could feel her every breath and muscle twitch. I had never prayed so hard as I did as we waited for the toxicology results to come back from the lab. Tonto had been correct, it was troll killer.

 

No one could really pinpoint the origins of troll killer. I could remember my father using it on a particularly uncooperative man when I was much younger. He refused to tell my father who had stolen a shipment that went missing so my father gave him the drug and then placed him in a bathtub and turned on the water. It was quite effective.

 

The beauty of the drug was that it rendered the extremities useless, yet the mind remained clear and breathing was unaffected. Speech was hindered, yet awareness remained sharp, everything that was happening still discernible, but the recipient was powerless to do anything about it. It was essentially undetectable in the bloodstream and that was again proven with Bella’s blood tests.

 

The sun was just beginning to break across the horizon, beautiful shades of pink and gold lighting the sky. Today would be a good day. Today was the last day I would be a single man.

 

Muscles had pulled me to the side last night and asked if I wanted him to book a quick flight to Vegas so I could have a bachelor party. I could only look at him as he knew the answer to that. I didn’t need or want to have a party involving half-naked women parading around. I was far too happy to toss my single days away to mourn them ending.

 

Bella’s quiet stirrings brought me back to the bed we currently lay in. She had extra blankets covering her. Since her kidnapping, she had been obsessed with being warm. She said that being so cold had been the hardest part. I would sweat every night for the rest of my life to keep her as warm as she wanted to be.

 

With one final stir, Bella softly and sleepy called out my name, “Edward?”

 

Placing my hand on her arm, tracing the soft and warm skin that lay beneath the covers, I buried my nose into her brown silky locks as I inhaled, taking in the most pleasant aroma I had ever experienced, pure Bella.

 

“Good morning, beautiful.”

 

BELLA

 

Staying at Esme’s had its advantages. First, she was as neurotic about having things in their place as I was. Second, she could cook like there was no tomorrow. Breakfast this morning consisted of the crispiest and most amazing waffles I had ever had with this phenomenal berry compote, and a cup of coffee that Juan Valdez himself would have been proud of.

 

I had a counseling session first thing this morning. Dr. Green was well aware that the wedding was tomorrow and that Edward had a very long honeymoon planned, thus the reason for the appointment today.

 

Edward had informed me that my father would be my new bodyguard and honestly, it felt like the whole world was lifted off my shoulders. My daddy was the one man I trusted completely besides Edward.

 

Dr. Green and I discussed a few fears I was currently having; one being having so much attention shoved my way, the second being intimate with my new husband. She was honest when she told me that only time would tell.

 

Arriving back at Esme’s just before lunchtime, I was immediately assaulted with the smell of pasta sauce cooking. Maggie was large and in charge, with her phone in one hand and a clipboard in the other. She looked up when she noticed me walking into the room.

 

“Yes, that’s right, Saint Patrick’s church. And if the runner isn’t delivered by three, you’ll be hearing from me.”

 

Her smile was bright and I knew by the look on her face she was having the time of her life.

 

“Bella, you’re looking sprite today, lass.”

 

With a quick kiss to my cheek, her phone began to ring and she quickly answered. “I fail to see how that’s my problem; you were contacted months ago so I suggest you go find more.”

 

I didn’t want to know what the issue was. I didn’t care if the food was cold and the beer stale, I was getting married.

 

“Bella, my love,” Esme came from the kitchen, hair perfect and not a single stain on her apron, “Edward is on his way to drop your things off at your father’s, then he’s picking up the family from the airport.”

 

Esme had invited every single family member from Belfast. Edward had chartered a commercial plane and pilot, and I thought it was a bit ostentatious until Esme told me it was actually less expensive than purchasing sixty round-trip tickets.

 

Maggie pulled a few strings and had gotten the entire Plaza hotel reserved, all fifteen hundred rooms. Esme had no problem filling all of them.

 

With the size of the wedding, Maggie suggested we hire a number of vendors that provided the same services. She said that with the sheer numbers we were having, there was no room for error. Charlotte had a decent relationship with another caterer in the next town over and they had worked it out between them who would supply what.

 

Maggie had informed me that the most difficult part was finding enough bells for each of the guests to have one. With Alice’s wedding, she had chosen not to perform this particular tradition. I, however, wanted to have the bells at my wedding. Tradition had it that each of the wedding guests would be given a bell, and this bell was rung several times during the ceremony. Once the wedding was over, the bride and groom chose a single bell from the guests to take home. Later when they would have an argument, they would ring that bell to ward off the evil spirit that caused the fight.

 

This became an issue when you needed nearly a thousand of them, made from fine china with an Irish Claddagh on the side. Maggie assured me she had it covered.

 

So for the first time in many months, I had nothing to do except slip into a hot bubble bath and relax, so that was exactly what I did.

 

Several hours later, I made my way down the large staircase. Once I reached the bottom of the steps, my father and Riley stood waiting to escort me to the limo that would take us to our wedding rehearsal.

 

I was next to last to climb into the back followed by my dad. As I sat down, I was greeted by cheers and catcalls. Everyone had a drink in their hands and the music was blaring. Riley and my father sat at each door while I sat between them. Abbie was a bundle of energy as she excitedly sipped her glass of what looked like sprite with grenadine. She was just like all the other girls who had a drink in their hand.

 

I took a good look around, examining each face of the people I loved. Maggie took her role very seriously as she began to pour everyone a new glass of champagne. It was then I noticed that she put the champagne bottle down and opened up a new can of sprite. She first filled up Abbie’s glass and smiled as Abbie thanked her in her sweet little voice. Then she moved to my sister and Alice. She poured each of them sprite instead of champagne…holy fuck, was there something I should know about?

 

Maggie glanced in my direction; she realized that I had noticed what she had just done. She quickly and quietly shook her head no. I could only smile as the thought of both of them being pregnant would be amazing.

 

As the limo continued down the street, my dad reached over and took my hand in his. “So I’d guess you’re pretty glad now that you didn’t tell him to take a hike, huh?”

 

I chucked and leaned into his side. “I’m so glad I listened to my heart and not my head on this one.”

 

Saint Patrick’s church came into view. The limo smoothly pulled into the drive and I watched as Jacob, Edward, Carlisle, and Sherman stood at the curb.

 

Edward told me this morning that Sherman had come to him and asked to join his security team. Sherman had already discarded Eileen’s belongings and had moved in with Jasper and Alice. He told Edward that he just wanted to do something different for a while, prove to the family he could be trusted.

 

Sherman was a handsome man and the essence of a southern gentleman as he assisted all the ladies out of the limo. Once Maggie was out, she leaned over and quickly kissed his cheek. The blush that spread across his face caused a round of laughter.

 

Edward quickly wrapped his hand in mine and began to help me up the stairs. Once inside the church, Maggie was in full coordinator mode.

 

I was floored as I looked at the decorations that were already in place. Beautiful yellow bows were attached to the pew ends waiting for the flowers to be attached tomorrow. The flower arches were already in place, again just waiting on the fresh flowers to be placed in them.

 

Maggie came jogging up to me, instructing me where to stand. It was then I noticed the two beautiful women that flanked her.

 

“Who are these lovely ladies, Maggie?” Carlisle questioned.

 

Carlisle was Edward’s best man. Since he didn’t have any brothers, and he didn’t want to pick one of his friends of another, this decision only made sense.

 

“Aye, Mr. Cullen, this is my mum, Shannon, and my little sister, Caitlyn.”

 

The two beautiful women stepped aside and made their way over to the precession line. Honestly, it was hard to tell who was the daughter and who was the mother.

 

“Athas orm bualadh leat, a dhuine usasail, Is e mo ainm na Sionainne agus is e seo mo inion alainn, Caitlyn.” (Pleasure to meet you, Sir, my name is Shannon and this is my daughter, Caitlyn.)

 

I was about to open my mouth and introduce myself when a husky voice behind me sounded.

 

“Oh, my god…”

 

I quickly turned and came face to face with a slack-jawed Sherman, his eyes locked with Shannon’s. I turned back to Shannon to find a huge smile across her face. Sherman gently passed by me and took Shannon’s hand in his; he leaned over and slowly kissed her knuckles.

 

“Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m Sherman Whitlock and may I say it’s a true pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

 

The area where we were standing was so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop as Sherman and Shannon continued to stare at each other.

 

“How do you do that?” Edward whispered into my ear and I turned to him and gave him a questioning look. “You bring people together, even those who’ve given up on finding love again.”

 

I could only smile at him as he placed a sweet kiss against my temple.

 

Maggie had us run though the entire ceremony three times before she was happy. Since I still tired easily, Edward had insisted that a bench be placed at the altar so I could sit during the ceremony. Maggie wasn’t happy with what was available at the church so she had someone make one.

 

When Maggie was finally satisfied, we loaded up into one of the chartered bus she had arranged for and headed off to the reception hall that Edward owned.

 

Nothing could have prepared me for the absolute glory of the room. Each place setting was set with a very classically-styled Wedgewood china service, elegant crystal and silver, and beautiful centerpieces adorned each table. But what really brought it all together was the canopy of lights that hung from the ceiling. It was as if we were sitting under the stars.

 

Maggie ushered us to the head table where Edward pulled out my chair, kissing my forehead as he joined me in his own.

 

Two of Edward’s cousins from Ireland had been given the task of handing out the gifts to the wedding party. Maggie, bless her heart, had taken care of acquiring all of them as I was a little busy being held captive by a fucking madman.

 

Each of my bridesmaids received a beautiful diamond drop pendant, while Edward gave his guys a Rolex watch.

 

Again, the room had different pictures of Edward and I growing up and several of when we had first started dating. The most amazing one was of Edward down on one knee with that shamrock in his hand. I made a mental note to have Maggie keep that one and have it framed. I wanted that one in our home.

 

I was brought out of my daydreams by the clanking of a knife against a glass. I looked over and saw Edward was now standing.

 

“If I could have everyone’s attention,” Edward’s manly voice quieted the room and all eyes were now on him. “I just wanted to thank everyone for making the long journey here; this means the world to Isabella and me.” He turned to look at me as he reached for his beer. “A wise man once told me that the woman you want to marry isn’t the one you can live with; it’s the one you could never live without.”

 

He then looked to Carlisle and raised his glass to him.

 

“From the very second I laid eyes on this beautiful creature, she owned me. I could not get her out of my head.” His eyes now focused on me, “Isabella, you made me take a long hard look at myself and question the man I was. You made me realize that having everything was nothing if I didn’t have the other half of my soul. That’s exactly what you are, my soul mate. You help me be the man I was destined to be. I swear to always be there for you the way you are for me, I love you.”

 

The room erupted in applause as Edward took my hand and lifted me out of my chair, placing a gentle kiss to my lips.

 

“Now, in the Cullen family, it’s tradition for the groom to give a gift to the bride as a sign of his ability to care for her. So with that in mind…”

 

Edward motioned for Abbie to bring over an envelope. I knelt down and took it from her, kissing her cheek and making her giggle.

 

Nothing could have prepared me for what was in that envelope.

 

Edward had already purchased us a home so as I looked at the picture of a grand log cabin, I was speechless.

 

“It’s for when we just want to get away, somewhere to take the children and make some memories.”

 

I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. “Thank you.”

 

Carlisle was gracious enough to tell the room what Edward had given me.

 

Finally, we broke apart and I took his hand in mine. “I have a little something for you as well, Edward.”

 

Esme had asked me if I wanted her help with his gift. I told her absolutely, as I had no clue what to get the man who had everything. I took his hand and led him out of the building. There in the valet circle was a green 2012 Bentley.

 

The look on Edward’s face was that of a kid on Christmas who had just gotten the one special toy he had asked Santa for. He picked me up and swung me around in several circles.

 

“Your Ma said you wanted this one.”

 

“I did, I’d planned on getting one after we got back from the honeymoon, but this is so much better.”

 

I watched as he ran his hand up and down the sleek hood of the car. It was merely seconds before the majority of the men at the party were now standing around the car, hands in pockets just staring at it in awe.

 

“Bella, it’s getting late; we need to get you to your father’s house so go say goodnight to your groom. That is if you can get him away from that car long enough,” Maggie grinned. She was on her game till the end.

 

Esme suggested making Charlie’s house bridal central and her house for the groom. The distance was enough that the chance of us seeing each other was quite slim.

 

I made my way over to kiss my soon-to-be husband goodnight when I noticed a love-struck Sherman give Shannon a kiss that would have made Hollywood stand up and cheer.

 

“Mmm,” Edward’s silky voice sounded in my ear.

 

“It’s time for me to go,” I spoke softly.

 

“I know, I’m just not ready to see you go yet,” his lips brushed the shell of my ear.

 

“Oh, I think you’ll have a little something to hold your attention,” I giggled and gestured toward his new car.

 

“Oh, babe, that car has nothing on you, it can’t love me back.”

 

“I do love you, Mr. Cullen, so much,” I looked him directly in the eye as I spoke.

 

“I love you, too, Mrs. Cullen.”

 

“I’ll see you tomorrow?”

 

“Yep, I’ll be the one in the tux at the end of the aisle trying not to run to meet you halfway. I’ll be waiting for you, my love.”

 

I smiled as I said, “Yes, and you’ll get to guess whether or not I’m wearing any panties under my dress.” With those words, I removed myself from my stunned fiance’s arms and ran to the waiting limo, giggling the whole way.

 

Tomorrow would be the first day of the rest of my life. I couldn’t wait to start it.

 

A/N We are getting close to the end. I am sad to see that happen.

 

First, troll killer is totally invented on my part. I know of no drug that has those properties.

 

Thank you to my beta as always, even when I know she wants to strangle me, she only laughs and gives me a different perspective.

 

To Gemma who also finds humor in my constant plot change, hold on love as we are nearly done.

 

And to all of you who find a little laughter, sympathy or even a few swoon moments, I am glad you were along for the ride.

 

On another note, my beta informs me that she is reaching the end of spackling the cracks on one of my other fictions, No one special. If you have read it, I encourage you to reread it as she truly took the words from my thought and placed them on paper, it is now the story I wanted it to be.

 

Lastly, Kim Rathbone has an amazing fiction titled…

 

Oh Captain, my Captain. Who could resist militaryward…..

 

  1. Chapter 29

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 29

 

EDWARD

 

The church could not have been more beautifully decorated. I would have to remind myself to have Books give Maggie a huge tip. As the organ softly played, I began to remember the sight of my Bella when she was just a girl. How I tried to get the very essence of her out of my life. How now I couldn’t get enough of her. I turned to my left to see Father Mulcahy standing reverently, bible in his hand, ready to bless this holy union.

 

I could hear faint whispers from the sea of guest that were currently seated in the wooden pews and I saw the happy smiles that graced each face as they mirrored my glances. I could feel a bead of sweat as it rolled down my back. Why wasn’t this thing starting already?

 

Bella was extremely punctual and I began to worry that she may have had a problem with her dress. Looking at the clock that hung on the back wall, I noticed it was now twenty minutes past the time we were to begin. The murmurs from the crowd and the lack of smiles now confirmed that I wasn’t the only one who was worried.

 

The thump of the door that blocked the bride from the congregation caused me to look up to find a distressed-looking Charlie making his way down the aisle toward me. The look on his face was of sadness and I could feel my heart rising into my throat.

 

“Edward,” his hushed voice sounded in my ear, “I’m sorry, but she changed her mind.” With those words, he placed her ring into my hand alongside her shamrock pendant.

 

“NO!”

 

Sweat was running down my face and body as I shot straight up in bed. I looked around the pitch-black room. I was still at my parent’s house; it had all been a dream, no, a nightmare.

 

My breathing finally coming back to normal, I tossed back the covers and made my way downstairs, pausing at the bar long enough to pour myself a tall glass of scotch.

 

I wanted to call Bella. Make certain she was alright and that she still loved me. It was foolish I knew; it was only a dream for heaven sakes. The tinkling of the piano echoed in the room as I began to softly play random keys. That was my mood right now, random and uncertain. Would my dream become a reality? Would I do something to cause her to leave me? Would she someday wake up and find that she could do so much better than me?

 

“This is a good sign you know.” The sound of my father’s voice made me jump.

 

“Fuck, Dad, you scared the shit out of me.”

 

He could only chuckle as he made his way into the room, sitting down on the leather couch that rested not far from the piano.

 

“Sorry, I figured I’d find you here.”

 

I turned my head in a questioning glance. He lifted his glass as his eyes never left mine. “I heard you shouting.”

 

Oh…

 

“Bad dream, I take it?”

 

I didn’t reply immediately. Honestly, I was a little embarrassed about my daddy having to make sure I was alright after a bad dream. What was I, three?

 

“She changed her mind,” I spoke softly; terrified that God was listening and mistook it for a prayer.

 

My father let out a deep sigh as he placed his empty glass on the bar. “The night before I married your Ma, I was so sick that my father had to take me to the emergency room and have fluids put back into me. They had to give me medicine to make the vomiting stop.”

 

I turned my attention back to him.

 

“I was terrified that she’d come to her senses and see what a douche I really was.”

 

Hearing my father call himself a douche made me chuckle.

 

“I’ll tell you what your grandfather told me.”

 

He had my full attention now. Carlisle’s father was a badass. He would shoot you between the eyes just because he could. He died in his sleep a few days after my grandmother passed. My dad said he died of a broken heart. I didn’t believe him at the time, but now I got it.

 

“He said you can sit back and worry everyday how you’re going to do something incredibly stupid to cause her to leave. Or you can wake up every morning and have a plan on how you’ll make her smile.”

 

BELLA

 

Did the tub in my new house have jets? If not, I was so asking Edward to change that.

 

Maggie had arranged for me to spend the morning at a local spa. I had just finished this amazing salt wrap that was designed to get rid of dead skin and leave your skin soft. I was currently resting in a jetted tub getting the debris massaged off from my body…it felt like heaven.

 

Last night was some of the best sleep I’d had in a long time. I dreamed of Edward having a tea party with three little girls. His hair was full of colorful barrettes and his lips were painted bright pink, the lines of his lips clearly not taken into consideration as the lipstick was touching his nose. He was laughing and talking to the little girls in the most adorable British accent. Would I have three girls?

 

With recent events, Edward had insisted that I have five of his men surrounding me at all times before the wedding. When the limo finally reached the church, a huge group of black-suited, Ray-Ban-wearing beefcake men surrounded the limo, effectively blocking anyone from getting to me. My wedding dress was waiting for me inside the dressing area of the church. I didn’t want to risk getting anything on the dress, nor did I want to look like a raving idiot trying to move around in the full skirt.

 

“Time for tradition,” Charlotte announced. She was the honorary mom for me today. She would be on my left and my father would be on the right. She would kiss Edward and pass him the traditional mother-of-the-bride gift, a lock of the bride’s hair that was carefully placed inside the pocket watch of one of the bride’s grandfathers.

 

Charlotte carefully placed the lace handkerchief inside the bow that secured my bouquet. Legend had it that the handkerchief would be used to dry the first tears of the firstborn child, and then it would be used in the making of the baptismal bonnet.

 

My hair had been pulled back and several braids were placed as a sign of strength and fertility. It was held back with a beautiful silver clip inlaid with green stones. Blue was the traditional Irish wedding color and that was one of the things I had changed. It was important for this to be as authentic as possible.

 

As I slid on my peep-toed shoes, Charlotte inserted the coin Edward had given me. Next came the horseshoe that I would carry as a sign of good luck. Many brides wore it as a necklace, but I chose to carry it instead.

 

With one final deep breath, I gathered my skirt and nodded my head as a sign I was ready.

 

“Auntie Bella?”

 

Abbie’s small voice caught my attention and I glanced down at her. “Yes, baby?”

 

“Are we marrying Edward today?”

 

I had to smile at her. If I was marrying him, she felt the whole family was going to marry him. I guess in a sense we were.

 

“Yes, we are, are you ready?”

 

Her face now looked upset. “But I don’t want to marry Edward. I want to marry my daddy.”

 

I looked to my sister who had her hand firmly covering her mouth, a small sob escaped as she quickly turned to gather her flowers.

 

“Abbie, I think if you want to marry your daddy, Edward will understand.”

 

The smile that covered her little cherub face was enough to brighten the room and she began to jump up and down excitedly, the yellow sash ribbon of her dress following her every move.

 

My father stood at the end of the hall, dressed in a crisp black tuxedo. He, like Edward, would not have the same tuxedo as the groomsmen.

 

With Charlotte on my left and my dad on my right, I focused my eyes on my sister who stood directly in front of me. The beautiful one-shoulder dress we chose would truly be one of those that could be worn after my wedding. I had ordered one for myself as a matter of fact.

 

Once Angela was on her way down the aisle and the doors again securely closed, I could hear the rustling of the runner as it was being laid down the aisle. Esme had insisted that it be made of real lace and not the waxed-paper version that so many brides did these days.

 

With a final breath and a quick close of my eyes, I took my first steps toward becoming Mrs. Edward Cullen.

 

As I place the Celtic ring on Edward left hand, I spoke the traditional words I had memorized since I was a little girl.

 

“Ni feidir leat a bhfuil liom go mbaineann me liom fein. Ach fad is mian linn an da e, me a thabhairt duit go bhfuil mianach a thabhairt. Ni feidir leat gceannas orm, mar ta me ag duine saor in aisce. Ach beidh me ag freastal ort sna bealai de dhith ort, agus beidh an honeycomb blas bhinne ag teacht o mo lamh. Geallaim duit go mbeidh mise an t-ainm a bheith caoin me os ard ar an oiche, agus na suile isteach a aoibh ghaire me ar maidin. Geallaim duit an bite chead mo feola agus an deoch chead o mo chupan. Geallaim duit mo bheo agus mo bhais, gach cothrom faoi do churam. Beidh me a bheith ina sciath do do ais agus tu mianach. Ni dheanfaidh me clumhilleadh tu, na me tu. Beidh me honor tu thar aon rud eile, agus nuair a quarrel beidh muid e sin a dheanamh go priobhaideach agus inis ar n-casaoidi Ni hannamh. Is e seo mo vow bainise a thabhairt duit. Is e seo an posadh ar comhionann. “

 

As I looked into his deep green eyes, I tried to picture what my life with him would be like. Would he remember this day as a day he would never forget? Or would he wish it had been just a bad decision he’d made in his youth? I would spend the rest of my days reminding him how wonderful this day was.

 

“It’s my great honor to present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cullen,” the master of ceremonies voice vibrated the floor I currently stood on. Edward’s lips firmly attached to mine and I could feel the smile he was wearing against my lips.

 

“I love you,” his words carried a promise, one I knew he would keep. Edward, never one to do anything the normal way, quickly picked me up bridal-style as he walked into the massive ballroom.

 

We had to use the same room that Alice and Jasper had used due to the number of guests. The same companies set up monitors and the security was even tighter. This was the first time I had seen the room completed.

 

Just like Alice and Jasper, we cut our cake first; the multi-tiered cake had our initials sitting majestically on top. Edward carefully placed the tiny bite of cake to my lips and then quickly kissed me. Maggie handed me a glass of champagne and I quickly took a drink.

 

“Go easy on that stuff, we have plans for later and I want you to remember every detail.” His words alone caused my body to shiver and left me completely speechless.

 

That night, I danced until my feet nearly fell off and laughed until I nearly cried. I hugged and flirted and had the night of my life.

 

When I looked back on this night, I doubted that I would remember how the food tasted, what brand of wine sat on the table, what music was played, who left together, or what time Abbie finally fell asleep in her daddy’s arms.

 

What I would remember was the look on Edward’s face as he glided me across the dance floor. How my father let a single tear fall as we danced to I loved her first. How Jacob and Caitlyn were caught making out in the back of the limo. And how Abbie announced to the whole room that she was glad Edward was married so he wouldn’t cry when she married her daddy.

 

But most of all, I would remember that today, I married the man of my dreams.

 

Gaelic translation:

 

“You cannot possess me for I belong to myself. But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give. You cannot command me, for I am a free person. But I shall serve you in those ways you require, and the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand. I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night, and the eyes into which I smile in the morning. I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup. I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care. I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine. I shall not slander you, nor you me. I shall honor you above all others, and when we quarrel we shall do so in private and tell no strangers our grievances. This is my wedding vow to you. This is the marriage of equals.”

 

A/N

 

Alright…

 

The lock of hair in the pocket watch I made up, but the rest of it, I got from an Irish wedding handbook, including the vows.

 

Recs this time…

 

Coming home by Sarge’s Girls. This Edward owns me right now

 

  1. Chapter 30

 

SHAMROCKS AND SHENANIGANS

 

Chapter 30

 

Twenty-five years later…

 

I had dreaded this day for as long as I could remember. Our son, Declan, was getting ready to board a plane for Ireland.

 

Edward was with him now, just as Carlisle had been for him. I could still remember the night Edward had decided to go, the night of Angela’s bachelorette party. Oh, how many of those I had attended since then. Thank god there hadn’t been anymore serial rapists in attendance.

 

Edward and I were blessed with three children, not the twelve he’d desired, or so he’d said. It was after Katie was born I learned that he had really wanted a little girl, too, not the twelve boys he had so boldly spoken of. Esme was overjoyed when we announced that we would be naming two of however many sons we had after her two brothers that had been murdered all those years ago.

 

Declan was our oldest and first in line to run the family business. He was so much like his father that I felt just a little sorry for his girlfriend, Katie. Katie, on the other hand, was a little on the nervous side and a bit high-strung. She overanalyzed everything and cried at least once a day. Declan assured me he would work on helping her toughen up her skin. She would need it to survive in our world.

 

Yes, that was right, his sister and his girlfriend had the same name. It wasn’t planned that way; Edward and I had chosen to keep our baby’s name a secret, and so had Maggie and Angus. Maggie and I had delivered our girls within minutes of each other. Carlisle had made good on his word and Angus received his official citizenship a few short months later. Shamus stood beside him as they raised their right hands and took the oath.

 

Our second son we named Connor. He was my mini-me. He wanted nothing to do with the running of the family business and chose to be a “positive” part of the family as Esme had labeled it. Connor was in his second year of med school. Edward and I could not have been more proud.

 

“Bella!” Katie’s voice was quivering as she raced into the room in tears, effectively putting an end to my walk down memory lane. “Oh, god, Bella, why does he suddenly have to go to Ireland? I mean how important can his business be if I can’t go with him?”

 

See what I mean?

 

“Katie, what have both your mother and I told you about your behavior?”

 

Her head fell and she plopped herself into the chair she was closest to. “You said that if I plan to be a part of this family, I need to grow a backbone and not cry all the time.”

 

Her voice was so tiny and I continued to question if Declan had made the right choice asking her father for her hand in marriage. Declan had always had the maturity of a thirty-year-old man from the day he was born, not that he’d had a choice in the matter.

 

“So why are you sitting here crying your eyes out?”

 

I watched as she raised her head, straightened her shoulders, and wiped her eyes with her tiny fingers, “Because I just don’t get why he has to do this.”

 

I remembered questioning Edward as to why he had to go. I had simply accepted that he had business, but Katie wasn’t me.

 

“Katie, there are going to be things that happen in life that you have to just accept and go on.”

 

“I get that, Bella, but he won’t even talk about it. He tells me it’s something he has to handle and that I can’t go,” she pouted.

 

Her attitude was that of a three-year-old and it bothered me the most.

 

“Well, Katie, you don’t follow him into the bathroom do you?”

 

Her nose wrinkled up in disgust, “Oh, god, no!”

 

I laughed, as I had changed far too many of his diapers not to find that thought amusing.

 

“Well, then think of this as an extended bathroom break.”

 

She began to giggle at my statement; at least she had quit crying, for now.

 

“So, Bella, you know what’s happening while he’s in Ireland, can’t you tell me anything? Are they buying more buildings…is he going for fun…does he have…a…a girl there?”

 

All of my children had a very clear view of how Edward and I felt on the issue of cheating. Katie knew that as well. So it puzzled me as to why she would even think that.

 

“Katie,” my voice was clipped.

 

“Sorry, Bella, I know he’d never do that, not after…”

 

“Exactly,” the tone of my voice quickly ended that conversation.

 

I knew I had to give her something, a glimmer of hope, and yet not ruin the proposal that Declan would have for her upon his return. I thought for several moments until the right words came to mind.

 

“I can assure you that what he’s about to do in Ireland will be to your advantage as well as his. Don’t worry, sweet girl, it’s just a whole lot of shamrocks and shenanigans.”

 

A/N: Alright, well, there you have it, the final chapter. It’s been such a journey and I’ve…

 

(Door opens and then slams shut, a very pissed-off looking Bella storms into the room)

 

Bella: What the fuck do you mean, that’s the end?

 

Me: The story is over. You have your happily ever after, go enjoy.

 

Bella: Really? You’re really going to just end it there? With the conversation I had with Katie? (bitch brow engaged)

 

Me: Yes, it’s the end.

 

Bella: You’re kidding, right? What about all the unanswered questions?

 

Me: Such as?

 

Bella: Oh, dear god…

 

Me: Do tell then, Mrs. Cullen, what do you mean? Please, share with the class.

 

Bella: Ugh, fine. First, who was driving the car?

 

Me: Oh, yeah…

 

Bella: Oh, yeah is right.

 

Me: I can just tell them now if you’d like?

 

Bella: How about whether or not Alice is pregnant?

 

Me: I…um…

 

Bella: What about my sister?

 

Me: Um…

 

Bella: What about my dad and Charlotte?

 

Me: Well, they’re…

 

Bella: And look at the top of the page…Twenty-five years! So much can happen in that time and it did!

 

Me: True, but Edward has left already.

 

Bella: Come on, you let Edward tell my story, why can’t I tell his?

 

Me: I…well…

 

Bella: That’s what I thought.

 

Me: Okay, Bella, I get it. You feel I left too many questions unanswered. But I mean really, you have Edward Cullen in your bed every night, what could he have possibly done in the past twenty-five years that hasn’t been written about before?

 

Bella: Who said Edward did anything? (her face is dead serious)

 

Me: Nobody.

 

Bella: My point. It’s true that he’s my Mr. Wonderful, but yes, he has his moments when I want to choke him till he turns blue. There’s those moments and so much more to this story that needs to be told. It’s kind of like the dash on a gravestone between the birth and death dates, it stands for a story and is the most important thing engraved on there. You fucking skipped the dash!

 

Me: Alright, then what are you waiting for? Enlighten us, oh bitchy one. What’s happened over the past twenty-five years that you feel the need to share? (cringes as she mutters something about concrete Jimmy Choos)

 

Bella: How about this, let’s get comfortable, grab a bottle of Edward’s good wine, and have ourselves a chat, hmm?

 

Me: You didn’t answer my question, Mrs. Cullen.

 

Bella: What’s happened that needs to be told?

 

Me: Yes, that. Come on, Bella, while I’m still young…

 

Bella: Fine, Matthisson…a Claddagh and chaos…loads of it.

 

Me: Well, then pour us a glass and tell us all about this ring and the trouble it gave you…

 

  1. Chapter 31

 

Hello my faithful readers,

 

I wanted to share with you that I have published this fiction and it is available at Amazon, iTunes, Kobo and B&N under the title, Shamrocks and secrets. I use my real life name, Cayce Poponea. There is also a way to get an autographed version from me personally, send me a PM and I will make it happen for you.

 

I understand if you feel since you have already read this version, than whats the point of buying it? I get it, I really do. However if you can do me a favor and stop by amazon and leave a quick review so that anyone who hasn’t read this version can make a sound choice by your recommendation.

 

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