The Secrets we keep

 

The Secrets We Keep

 

Bella thought she had escaped her silent prison with the death of her fiancée. Edward thought his actions would never catch up with him. But in a new city and a seeming new life, see how Bella learns that not all secrets are bad. Can Edward come to terms with the truth? Can they be honest with each other? Rated M due to adult content. Mafiaward. AH, CC

 

  1. Chapter 1

 

Never be the last one to know a secret.

 

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

 

If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.

 

A secret’s worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept.

 

BPOV

 

If you listen long enough you will hear more than you ever want to know. I listened to the people around me my entire life. I could tell you who was cheating on their taxes, their wife or girlfriend. Most of the time it served me no purpose, however, as I grew older and listened more closely, I found out information that was important. Information that I couldn’t share if I wanted to stay alive.

 

EPOV

 

I never asked for permission to do anything. I never had to watch what I said or did. I also never had to work hard at getting a girl to look my way…until she came to town. She turned my world upside down and I was simply along for the ride. Just when I got her to look my way, I found out my actions caused her world to fall apart. Now, I have to decide if I should live the lie or risk losing her.

 

  1. Chapter 2

 

The Secrets We Keep

 

Chapter 1

 

BPOV

 

“Jared Morgan Black was taken from us in the prime of his life.”

 

My eyes were trained on the brown dying grass that flickered swiftly as the late October breeze rushed by. Winter would come quickly this year, or so that’s what Mr. Coop from the feed store swore up and down at the diner last week.

 

“He is survived by his father, Billy J. Black, a twin brother, Jacob Joshua Black, and two sisters, Rebecca Black-Newman and Sarah Michelle Black-Edwards.”

 

I glanced quickly over at Jacob, who insisted on standing to the side of Jared’s casket. He had been rushed home from Afghanistan where he had spent the past eight months. His white hat resting on his bowed head, the tail coat of his Marine jacket fluttering in the wind. Jacob had been the town hero when he was awarded the longest kill shot. He brushed it off saying he didn’t feel like a hero.

 

“Jared was a good man, a loyal son and a good provider for his family.”

 

My eyes returned to the brown grass, its movement reminding me that not everyone knew the truth about Jared and those who did, chose to ignore it or just didn’t care. The sun began to peak out from behind the clouds, causing a shimmer to reflect off the ring on my left hand.

 

“He will be truly missed.”

 

Reverend Webber was one of those who didn’t know the truth about Jared. He didn’t know about the late hours he kept or the variety of friends he had around. He had no clue that Jared had a very lengthy rap sheet or that he currently had a warrant out for him. He had no idea of how many girls I had seen him out with or how many children were claimed to be his. The good Reverend only knew about the checks that Jared gave to the church and the twice a year attendance he gave. How to most of the town Jared seemed like the good son who stayed behind while his twin went off to war. How he gave a promise to a dying man that he would take care of his only daughter. How he proclaimed in a public place his love for that girl and gave her a ring, never bothering to wait for her answer.

 

“Let’s all recite the 23rd of Psalms.”

 

Like cattle, everyone stood and began reciting the words that most church going people knew by heart. I kept my eyes downcast, hoping everyone would leave me alone in my grief…a grief that was forced. Just like Jared, I kept secrets too. Secrets that would have gotten me killed if he ever found out I told.

 

“Isabella, if you need anything, anything at all you know my number.” Mrs. Coop said gently as she patted my hand.

 

“Thank you, I don’t really know what I’m going to do now.”

 

And the academy award goes to…..

 

I wasn’t surprised when Deputy Crawley came to my door to inform me that Jared had been killed. I wasn’t surprised when his death was ruled an accident. His car finding its way to the bottom of the cliff. Slick streets were blamed for the crash. Funny how the streets are always slick….

 

“Well, there is no rush to do anything. Mr. Brenner has assured me that you will get all of your money back from the…well, you know.”

 

Seems everyone had tip toed around the fact that Jared and I would have been married in less than a month. I’m sure they all thought it would upset me; again things people just didn’t know. And secrets that I kept.

 

“He was a good man Bella, he will be missed.”

 

Jared and I met when I moved in with my dad during my junior year. He and his brother, Jacob, told my father that they would keep an eye on me. Jared took me to hang out with him and his friends and got into a fight when one of them said something about my ass. At first I thought it was nice to have him defend me like that, but it didn’t take long to see his real intentions. The summer after I graduated, he showed up on my doorstep and asked my dad if he could take me out. Again making everyone, including my father, see the person he wanted them to see. I’ve always been a people watcher and when he wasn’t looking, I noticed things.

 

First time he went inside a convenience store to get me a coke, I watched as he stole a pack of cigarettes when the clerk answered the phone. Next time was when his friends wanted a ride to the mall an hour away. He told my father he wanted to take me to a nice restaurant, instead I watched as he lifted boxes out of the back of a truck parked behind the mall.

 

“You don’t see anything do you hear me?”

 

If I heard that once, I heard it a thousand times. For the past four years, I listened, I never spoke of the gun he carried or the baggies he filled and hid under the floor boards. I didn’t see the girls that came out of his bedroom when he lived with his friend, Seth. I also didn’t see the bloody knuckles or the rolls of cash that he seemed to always have. I didn’t see it and I didn’t tell anyone. However, I also didn’t tell anyone about the insurance policy I had taken out on him. I figured all of those things I didn’t see would eventually catch up to him. Last thing I wanted was to be left alone with nowhere to go or no one to trust.

 

Two years ago my father responded to a domestic violence call. The house was known to be vacant and so he thought it was just a prank call. When he arrived, he walked in on a prostitution ring that had been going on. He was shot at point blank range and died a few hours later. He made Jared swear to him that he would protect me. What my father didn’t know is that I needed protection from Jared.

 

After my father died, I found comfort in flowers. With our town being so small, the only shop was owned by Mr. Grundy. When I asked him for a job, I knew he only gave it to me out of pity. Didn’t matter, it only took a few arrangements for him to be happy he did. I begged him to let me do the arrangement that was lying on his casket. I gave him back what he gave to me for years when he pissed on my feelings and dreams. Mr. Grundy thought it was to give him a perfect sendoff….again what people don’t know, or chose to look the other way.

 

It was a Friday, a few weeks after Jared’s funeral when the white envelope appeared in my mail box. I tucked it into my purse and made my way inside the house I had shared with my father. Jared had tried to get me to let him move in with me, but I made it known to the town’s folk that I wanted to go to my marriage bed pure as the driven snow. Jared had backed off, even though I had lost my virginity at summer camp before I even moved here. He wanted to keep that all-American-boy-persona; everyone believed the lies he had so carefully spun.

 

I wanted to start over, sell my father’s house and move to a place where no one knew me. I could write my own destiny. I wanted to open my own flower shop and live quietly in a condo or something like that. This money would go a long way in helping me do just that.

 

“Billy, I just don’t feel right keeping it.”

 

I had placed the ring in a box that I found in my father’s closet. I wanted to be as far away from that diamond as I could get. I had no doubts that it was stolen and the last thing I wanted was to be caught with stolen property.

 

“Alright Bella, but if you change your mind, want to make a necklace out of it or something…”

 

Oh yes…sure. Make a necklace out of it, have him hanging around my neck some more….no thanks.

 

“No, Billy, I’m sure.”

 

I wanted no one to know where I was headed. Forks held nothing for me. I found a salvage yard that would take my father’s old truck and even give me a ride to the airport. Once I settled, I would contact a realtor and sell my father’s house. The man at the salvage yard smiled and handed me a check for the truck, but I decided against his offer for a ride. I flagged down a cab and with no regret made my way to the airport.

 

A/N:

 

Hey everyone,

 

First, thanks to my beta, Kim Roland-Edwards. She has not only tweaked my grammar and sentence structure, but she has been my biggest cheerleader. Second, thank you for going on another ride with me. I’m doing things a little different this time, maybe it will work and maybe you will tell me it sucks…. At the end of ever chapter, I’m going to do a little speak about what happened (clarify) and remind you of things that have happened in previous chapters that have an impact on the current chapter. There will be no surprises and you as the reader will know what the secrets are that Bella and Edward are keeping from one another. However, you will also get to helplessly read as they fumble around each other and do really stupid and crazy things. I encourage you to yell and scream at the screen. People will laugh at you, but screw them.

 

So…

 

For our first recap:

 

Bella was engaged to a guy name Jared. Jared was involved in some pretty heavy stuff. Bella is relieved that he is dead and has plans of leaving. She was smart enough to take out an insurance policy on his sorry ass. Next chapter, is of Edward’s world. Warning, he is an ASS. He is arrogant and a man-whore and involved in some heavy stuff as well.

 

  1. Chapter 3

 

Chapter 2

 

EPOV

 

“Get your fucking ass up!”

 

I fucking hated repeating myself. Bitches don’t listen unless you’ve got fucking money in your hand or your dick in their cunt.

 

Jessica had been my go to girl when I needed a quick fuck or arm candy when I had to make an appearance. She knew what was expected of her and she knew if I found someone else at said function that she was to find her own way home….or on the occasion join us. However, like most bitches I knew, she was always after what I could do for her.

 

“Just shut the fuck up and get your ass out of here!”

 

Jessica knew I had a meeting this morning. One that I knew was coming, and honestly I fucking dreaded it. My father wanted me to get married, mom wanted grandchildren. I wanted them to shut the fuck up and leave me alone. That wasn’t an option and I knew it. Just like the Kings and Queens, I had to marry a respectable girl and produce sons. Our family had to have a blood borne Cullen to continue to lead the family. As I strapped my gun into the holster at the base of my back, Jessica snuck her arms around me.

 

“Can I at least use your shower this time?”

 

Jessica knew the rules. You don’t shit in my toilet, kiss me on the mouth, and you don’t store stuff in my bathroom. And you sure as shit, don’t get to use my fucking shower.

 

“Fuck no, you can’t use my fucking shower.” I snapped at her as I pushed her away.

 

Jessica knew this, she knew I didn’t want to have tampons under my sink and her hairspray all over my floor. That shit ain’t gonna happen. Hell, the maid even knew to toss the sheets when Jessica stayed over.

 

“Now get off my fucking dick, godamn it!” I roared as I tugged my suit jacket on.

 

“That’s not what you said last night.” she tried to act all sexy, but in the light of day and honestly the alcohol completely out of my system, she was a hot mess. Her hair was a tangled and her mascara was smeared under her eyes. Frankly, she resembled a rabid raccoon.

 

I didn’t say a word as I tossed her rumpled dress back at her, landing against her chest causing her hair to move slightly. While she was pulling the blue fabric over her head, it gave me a full view of her overly large breasts. She had begged me to have them fixed due to the right being larger than the left. I shut that shit down as I informed her to find the fucker that bought them in the first place to pay for the maintenance of them.

 

I made her walk in front of me as we headed for the street. I never let anyone, especially as vamped as Jessica, alone in my house. She had a perfectly good apartment that I paid for.

 

“Edward, why don’t you live closer to downtown? Alice says they have these amazing condos that overlook the water.”

 

I didn’t acknowledge her as I hit the button on the remote for my car. I liked where I lived. It was a converted warehouse and wasn’t far from where I did the majority of my local business. I had gutted the building and placed a number of safety features that one of these overpriced condo couldn’t offer.

 

I didn’t tell her goodbye or even kiss her as she tried to get me to do. I had called the taxi the second I stepped out of the elevator. Girls like Jessica were on my time and I would tell them when it was time to go, not the other way around.

 

My family had a number of offices around Chicago. We owned too many restaurants to count. My grandfather, who I was named after, lived by the standard to always have an ace in the hole. Where most families kept their business close, we branched out. We had punk ass kids selling on the streets of most major cities in this country. It wasn’t without issues, one of those kids had been trying to cut himself a bigger piece. Stealing from the family got you a quick trip to your grave.

 

I revved my engine as I pulled into my parking spot. Once parked, I made a quick check of the garage. I may be a bad ass motherfucker, but I wasn’t stupid enough to think I was always safe. Looking around again, I noticed one of my guys James Hunter. James had been with the family since he showed my old man his loyalty by taking a bullet for him. Now he was a solid earner and handled most of our situations that happened outside of Chicago.

 

“Hey man.” He approached, his phone in hand, and his jacket a little wrinkled. James had an even bigger sexual appetite than I did. He, like most of the men in our family, kept a few girls around for his pleasure. However, it was an unwritten rule that we didn’t sample each other sources.

 

“You got the proof?”

 

James handed me his phone and I watched as the screen come to life, showing me a number of kids sitting around some run down house. The furniture was full of holes and everyone was wearing black. The guy in the center had a joint dangling from his index finger and thumb. He was popping his head to some shitty ass music.

 

“Fuck that motherfucker! I do all the bullshit work and he gets to keep all the money? Well fuck that and fuck him!”

 

Several of the other guys started laughing as they passed more joints around the room.

 

“I hear that the Cullen’s are some bad ass motherfuckers.”

 

I smirked listening to the kid who was rolling another joint, no doubt using the shit we supplied him. The punk who was running his fucking mouth, jumped to his feet and slammed the guy to the back of the chair.

 

“Who do you think you talking to, huh?” he seethed, as if he was some fucking bad ass. I bet the fucking bank that he cried like a fucking bitch when James got his fucking neck.

 

“You think I’m scared of some Armani wearing motherfuckers?”

 

He pressed the guy harder into the chair before shoving his head hard into the cushion.

 

“I’d cap his fucking ass so quick.”

 

I couldn’t help myself as I laughed out loud before handing James his phone back. When we first heard about this punk, I had James do a little investigating. I wasn’t going to waste a good earner if it was all bullshit. James was a slick motherfucker and had one of his old whores get inside that house. It’s amazing what some guys will do for a fucking blow job. Another reason I keep my pussy on the payroll.

 

“Pussy bitch actually pissed and shit himself when I showed him this.” James chucked as he slid his phone into his pocket.

 

“You made it clean?” I questioned. I didn’t like loose ends, they always made their way back to you.

 

Nodding, he said, “He had the sudden desire to see the bottom of a revenue. I helped him get there quickly.”

 

“The money?”

 

James shifted and pulled a wad of cash and a ring from his pocket.

 

“He was stupid enough to try and hide it under some floor boards. His guys couldn’t tell me his secrets fast enough. Seems he left a pretty girlfriend that he had stolen a ring for. I went by his old man’s house and he was just too eager to give me the ring and show me where another stash was.”

 

I took the ring in my hand, it wasn’t anything special, something someone with no taste would buy a girl.

 

“Here keep it, give it to your mother or something.” I chuckled as he took it.

 

“Fuck that…my ma has better taste.” We both laughed as I headed into my father’s office.

 

A/N

 

And now you have met Doucheward. Not to worry, we will run him through the wash before we let our Bella touch him. Honestly this chapter took me a minute to write. I have a hard time with creating a Doucheward, but it had to be done for this part of the story.

 

Recap….

 

The ring. My beta commented that she thought it would be bigger and flashier than the photo I posted on my Face book page, but there is a reason for the tininess of it. Now keep that ring in mind as you continue to read….it will appear again.

 

I nearly forgot to do some housekeeping. I plan to post on Sundays and Thursdays. You can check my Face book page for photos that pertain to the chapter. Come on over and check us out.

 

groups/ 434894866569951/ just remove the space.

 

Beta Note:

 

I have uploaded ALL of Mathisson’s stories in PDF form, with the exception of this one. They are located in both of her groups. They are, of course, on the group page, because I just uploaded them, but they are also under the FILE tab. Once each story is complete, I’ll put it in PDF form.

 

Now, I didn’t take on being her BETA until Diapers, Diplomas, and Deadbeat Dads…Just so you know.

 

  1. Chapter 4

 

Chapter 3

 

BPOV

 

When I arrived at the salvage yard, I didn’t like the way the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I felt as if I was in a scene from Deliverance, so I handed the guy the title to my father’s truck, grabbed the check and left. I didn’t have to walk far before a taxi passed by and I hailed it down.

 

Once inside the cab, I really started to think about where I wanted to go. I hadn’t checked anything out because I didn’t want to accidentally let it slip that I was leaving. In the end, I decided once I got to the airport, I would listen to the announcements regarding departing flights. The first city in the U.S. I heard would be my new destination.

 

I paid the cabbie, who wished me a good day, and walked into the terminal. Once the doors closed behind me, I felt like they were closing out my old life. I found a seat and got comfortable waiting for any announcements. The first was a flight with connections to Amsterdam. Since I wanted to stay in the states, I tossed that idea out. Another announcement was for a departing flight to Chicago. This was it and in the states too.

 

With a smile and a new purpose, I grabbed my suitcase and crossed the floor to purchase a one way ticket from the overly perky man behind the United Airlines counter. Using my mother’s old identification, which surprisingly, the guy was too busy humming to the beat in his head, to see that it expired a few years ago. So for now, I was Renee Higginbotham, Isabella Swan was waiting to start her new life in the windy city, Renee was just going to get her there safely.

 

I was lucky enough not to have anyone sit next to me and the flight was uneventful. I was able, for the first time in years, to completely relax into the chair. Since having Jared around, I never slept well. Always having one eye open and always looking around at my surroundings. It would have been of no shock to me if one of his guys decided to give me a go so to speak.

 

With the success of using fate to decide what city I was going to live in, I decided to let it roll as I passed a kiosk with a city map on it. I closed my eyes and let my finger fall on the plexus glass. With an area in mind, I grabbed my luggage and hailed a cab. When I told the cab drive where to take me, he smiled and told me that was where he and his wife lived. I asked him to take me to a hotel that was close to restaurants and businesses. He then informed me to stay on the North end of the street and not to venture out much past dark.

 

“The area is pretty safe, but you can’t ever be too careful.”

 

Once we arrived at the hotel, I paid the cabbie and thanked him profusely for his help. Checking into the hotel was quick and I noticed a bank across the street. I figured I would get settled into my room first then run over there and check it out.

 

“Can I help you?”

 

The lady, which sat at a desk welcoming you as you entered the bank, looked pleasant enough. Her hair in perfect order and her dress suit matching the other tellers.

 

“Yes, ma’am. I would like to open an account.”

 

The lady, whose name plate read Karen, directed me to another desk on the other side of the room. I thanked her and walked over to the other woman.

 

“Hello.” The smile was as fake as the acrylic nails on her fingertips and her hair a little too red to be real. None of it mattered to me though as long as she was able to help me open up an account.

 

“Hi, um…Karen.” I pointed behind me. “Said that you could help me open an account.”

 

The smile increased, although now more forced than ever. “Of course! I just need an identification and at least twenty five dollars to open the account.”

 

I took my eyes off her long enough to remove the check and my real ID from my wallet. I handed her both of the items and watched bemused as her eyes widened while looking at the check. She looked at my ID and then at me before she motioned for me to have a seat.

 

“I will just have to verify this check and I will be back with you shortly.”

 

She rose from her chair and adjusted her short skirt. I watched as she scurried into an office that was in the corner of the room. The man glanced up when she walked in, smiled at her and allowed his eyes to roam down her body. Rolling my eyes and thinking all men are the same, I crossed my legs and waited.

 

The man took the check from her then proceeded to make a phone call; I’m assuming to verify my check. Once he was finished with the call, he told the red head something and she nodded her head, then walked slowly out of his office shaking those hips of hers for his benefit no doubt. Some women can be so predictable. I find it better to watch and learn. It’s amazing what you can learn by keeping your mouth shut.

 

“Ms. Swan?”

 

Her voice was now syrupy sweet and her posture was that of admiration and professionalism. No doubt having my check verified had changed her opinion of me.

 

“My boss, Mr. Daniels, would like to handle your account personally. If you would follow me.”

 

Her attitude had changed so much in just a few minutes. She was a ladder climber. She would use whatever means she had to get ahead. No doubt using her figure and face to get into Mr. Daniels’ good graces. Girls like her sickened me. They never take the time to think about what happens when their looks fail them; never have the ability to take care of themselves.

 

“Thank you.” I responded as I followed her back into the man’s office.

 

Curtis Daniels, branch manager, was already standing as I neared his glass walled office. Amused to watch him adjust his tie and do a quick breath check. He wanted to impress me. I’m sure it was my girl next door image and not the half million dollar check I wanted to deposit into his bank.

 

This Mr. Daniels, or Curt, as he told me to call him attempted to give me his card no less than three times before I even left his office. Thankful that I was finally finished, I was starving. The concierge at the hotel had told me of a little mom and pop pizza shop down the block.

 

“Now don’t let the graffiti on the entrance walls distract you. They have had the same pizza oven for nearly sixty years”

 

With a final goodbye to Curt I made my way to leave. While placing my wallet in my purse, I failed to notice the large man wall that I plowed into. His big hands on my shoulders rocked me back a little and I snapped my head upwards to see his face. His dark eyes shinned brightly in the lighting of the bank. His suit was rumpled a bit, but still a suit. His dirty blonde hair was pulled tightly into a ponytail at the very back of his neck. I stepped back two steps and excused myself around him.

 

“My bad, beautiful.”

 

I hated guys like him too. Probably a douche when it came to actual conversations. Not even bothering to respond, I dashed out the door and headed down the block.

 

The brownstone homes that sat majestically on either side of the street made me smile. How many families were settling down for dinner? Kids doing homework at kitchen tables and dads kissing mothers as they returned from work. I stopped having the family fantasy about the third or fourth girl who claimed Jared fathered their child. I never wanted him to ever stick his dick in any part of me.

 

Gino’s was a busy store front and I inhaled the wonderful aroma of garlic and onions as I entered the door. A simple menu board hung over the counter and two men in the back spun circles of dough over their heads. The guy in front of me seemed to know everyone in the place and made a comment about proper Chicago style pizza. I wanted to fit in here and what better way to start then by eating like a local. When it was my turn, I ordered the house special and took a seat and waited for my “pie”. I watched as the amount of people seemed to grow as I sat there and drank my coke. A little league team came bouncing in, no doubt celebrating a win, while a couple holding hands followed closely behind. I looked out the window just in time to see a delivery van pull up and the driver run into the store. He also seemed to know everyone as he neared the counter and gave the man taking orders one of those crazy handshakes guys do these days. However, a second glance outside caused me to look at the design on his van.

 

Just blooms in huge cursive letters with the address and phone number of the shop. As my pie was placed on the table before me, I took my cell out and snapped a photo of the information. I would contact the shop tomorrow and see if they had any openings. When I took my first bite of the cheese goodness I couldn’t help but to close my eyes and moan. It was that good.

 

Today had been a good first day. I enjoyed the fact that every face I saw was a new one. With the exception of the douche at the bank, I liked the people of Chicago. Tomorrow I would wake up and find a job and a place to live.

 

For the first time ever, I didn’t have to constantly look around me while I finished my dinner.

 

A/N:

 

I don’t know if any of you have ever been to a salvage yard, but the last one I went to gave me the creeps.

 

Last chapter, we had Douchward enter stage left. He isn’t the type of guy I would want to have around. Jessica seems to be a huge doormat, but we will see much, much, more of her later. Now the bank scene didn’t seem like much, but keep it in mind as you continue to read. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the guy she ran into was James.

 

As for Gino’s, I am told by a very reliable source that it’s one of the best pizza joints in Chi town. And the line about letting the graffiti scare you is true, it’s located in a basement and the walls are covered in it.

 

Now let’s see what happens at the flower shop. Next chapter….well, you’ll just have to tune in. Beta: I know what happens…HEHEHE

 

Housekeeping.

 

I’ve been asked if this is a Bella and Edward fiction. Ummm…..yep! Definitely is.

 

Will this be HEA? I can’t write anything else, so yes!

 

*Don’t forget to check out photos and teasers on my Facebook page*

 

  1. Chapter 5

 

Chapter 4

 

EPOV

 

My meeting with my dad didn’t surprise me in the least, with the exception, he had contacted my Uncle Aro and had him sitting across from me.

 

“Look Edward….When you take over the family, you have to show the men you are stable. Having a good wife is a strong sign. I’m not saying you can’t have a girl or two on the side.”

 

The smug bastard. I had to call him out on his little statement even though I already knew the answer.

 

“Really? Mom know you fuck around on the side?”

 

My mom was a tough bitch. She married my dad when I was five. My birth mother, Elizabeth, died from cancer. My parents married because their parents told them to. When she died, my grandfather made my father grieve for a year. Once that time was up, he began to introduce him to different women. However, on what would have been my mother’s birthday, he stopped by a flower shop to get some flowers to put on her grave. The girl working behind the counter caught his eye and he asked her out. She turned him flat down, but he kept after her for several months. When she finally said yes, my father wasted no time in getting a ring on her finger. The day they married, she took me to the side and told me she would never replace my mother and she would only love me and care for me the way she hoped would please my mother.

 

It wasn’t long after that I began to call Esme Mom. As far as my father having a girl or two on the side, my mom would never put up with it. She truly had his dick as a hand bag and his balls as matching accessories. He loved her though, you could tell that from just looking at them. He was lucky that way. It was something I would never have. I didn’t trust bitches like my dad did my mom. She was the last honest lady they ever made.

 

“You know I don’t practice that.”

 

My family was rich in tradition. I knew this from the time I could walk. We didn’t go looking for trouble, but if trouble found us, we smashed it. Other families wanted to be a part of us, but we stayed true to blood. My father can trace his family blood line back over three hundred years.

 

“I know dad.” I chuckled. Rising from my chair to get a drink from his bar.

 

“I’m not saying you have to marry tomorrow, but by the end of a year from now, I need to see something developing.”

 

And since I’m a smug bastard red to the core, I chose to go for broke.

 

“Easy dad, I’ll just ask Tanya or Jessica.”

 

I knew he would react but had no idea he would lose his shit. Before I could even take a drink of my scotch, I found my back against the wall and the glass broken at my feet. My father had his hands around my neck and his face so close to mine that I could see the whites of his teeth caps as he snarled his words at me.

 

“I’ve told you before boy, you don’t bring a common whore home to your mother.”

 

With his last word, he pushed his palm into the center of my throat and I nearly blackout from the pressure. He released me and I slumped to the floor. My father may be twice my age but he could still kick my ass if he wanted to.

 

Grabbing my throat, I rose from the floor. “Sorry.” I coughed.

 

Carlisle was drinking from his own glass as he turned his back to me.

 

“Find a good girl, or I’ll find one for you.”

 

Leaving my father’s office, I loosened my tie and looked at my reflection in the mirror. I knew my dad was dead serious. He would find the cleanest, plainest, virginal girl he could. Hell, it would take me a year and a crow bar to get between her legs. Forget about how long it would take me to get her to do the dirty shit my girls did for me now. Speaking of dirty shit….

 

I started my car as I knew the exact place I needed to be. I had something to give her anyway. I passed James as he was getting into his car, flipping him the bird. He was on his way to visit one of the girls we kept on the payroll. She worked in a downtown bank and kept her ears open and her mouth at James’ beck and call. I never touched the bitch as she was faker than Jessica.

 

Parking my car along the curb of the side walk, I clicked my key fob and took a look around daring the punk ass motherfuckers who stood along the store fronts to steal my car.

 

The thump of the base confirmed that she was home. I never called or knocked. If I didn’t hear music, I knew she was out. Opening the door, I saw her sitting with her legs crossed and a cigarette in her hand. Her robe was on but untied. She looked at me and then smiled as she put out her cigarette, sliding off the bar stool and making her way to me.

 

Tanya was another girl I saw from time to time. She sold smack from her apartment and other things to make ends meet. Currently the other things were on the living room floor while three guys I’d seen in here before watched and shot up.

 

The two naked girls didn’t bother to look up as I passed them. The girl on top, I think her name was Carmen, not that I gave a fuck, was eating the shit out of the other girl’s pussy. She had her tongue in her snatch and a dildo in her ass.

 

“Didn’t expect to see you today.” Tanya said as she wrapped herself around my arm.

 

“I was in the neighborhood.”

 

“Sure you were.”

 

Tanya wasn’t an idiot. She knew I took what I wanted from her. She knew that by keeping me happy, I gave her a level of protection. The cops never came around and the punks outside never bothered her.

 

“I brought you something.” I pulled the bag from my jacket pocket and tossed it onto the table. The slapping sound it made caused the two girls to stop what they were doing and rush over to the paper bag.

 

Tanya snatched it up and shouted for them to back the fuck off.

 

“You got money?” She asked Carmen.

 

Instead of answering, she crawled between Tanya’s legs and began to lick her pussy. Tanya pushed her back as other people in the room circled around her, money in hand waiting their turn.

 

My uncle Aro told me the first time I watched him deliver to one of his girls that you should feed the addiction, profit from it, but never become the addicted. I took his words as the Holy Grail and have never snorted a single crystal of coke.

 

Sex on the other hand…that is where I was hooked. I loved to watch it, perform it. I love the feel of it, the smell of it, and the fucking taste of it. Tanya was proficient at letting me be visual. She would have both of those girls doing anything I wanted to each other for as long as I wanted them to.

 

I never fucked Tanya…that’s what Jessica was for. And as soon as I left Tanya’s that night, I called Jessica, but the fucking bitch was ignoring my calls. She did this from time to time when she wanted to get my attention. She was so fucking easy. All it ever took to get her mouth back on my dick was a call to Esme’s flower shop. The crazy bitch had a huge thing for red roses. I’d call tomorrow…bitch was on my last fucking nerve.

 

A/N:

 

Before you send out the lynch mob, may I remind you he is a bad S.O.B. SO, now we have not only a Douchward, but a Whoreward. Now I know what you’re thinking, but no, Edward will develop “issues” once Bella is introduced into his world.

 

Recap:

 

Bella was in a shitty relationship with a wanna-be-gangster. He was killed because he thought he was untouchable. Bella jumped a plane to Chicago and placed her money in a bank downtown. She gets her first introduction to James, yes, as I said first. Edward has a bad attitude when it comes to women, no real reason for it, other than what he perceives. Carlisle is a tough old bastard, but Edward will prove himself in a future chapter. Now the last paragraph should be a clue as to how Edward and Bella are going to meet. She isn’t a stupid girl and will be able to hold her own against Edward’s…assets.

 

See everyone on Wednesday, this time as I have big plans this week. My daughter is getting married soon and we are having her bridal shower. I’m about to blow her away with some of my other talents.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 6

 

Chapter 5

 

BPOV

 

The brisk Chicago air hit me in the face as I exited the hotel. This was something that would take some time to get used to. Last night after I finished dinner and came back to the hotel, I asked the concierge where the closest library was. If I was going to apply for jobs, I would need to have my resume together. When he asked me if I needed a particular book, I told him the reason for my need of the library. He showed me where the business center was located inside the hotel. I logged onto one of the computers and spent a few hours getting my facts together. I then googled Not Just Blooms and found that it had been in business for a very long time. I felt even better about my decision to go and check it out.

 

Not Just Blooms was only six blocks from my hotel. During my walk, I spent some time taking in my surroundings trying to become more familiar where everything was located. I wanted to stop and have a coffee, but decided that coffee breath would be a huge turn off and would wait until returning to the hotel. As I rounded the corner, I noticed a small grocery store “Newton’s” was written on a marque that had seen better days. An older man stood outside sweeping the steps. I smiled as I passed by him and he returned it with a “Good morning”. I was nearly passed his building when I noticed a flier for an apartment for rent. I took down the number as I continued next door.

 

Not Just Blooms was a night and day difference from the adjoining store. The huge blue awning held its respective title. Large displays of wild flowers stood proudly just outside the window. Two very seasoned potted vines camouflaged the brick of the building, yet directing the eye to the store opening.

 

I slipped inside the door and took in the aroma of the flowers and floral supplies. It was that smell that made me relax and feel whole. I scanned the room and was pleased to see it busting at the seams with live flowers. Helium balloons danced toward the ceiling in the corner while shelves and shelves of colored ribbon awaited their chance to accessorize the perfect blossoms.

 

The poor, exhausted looking girl who stood behind the wooden counter smiled in my direction with a phone tucked between her ear and shoulder as she tried to finish the arrangement she had her hands on.

 

“Yes…yes sir, they went out this morning. Your welcome sir…thank you.”

 

She had barely placed the phone back in the cradle when it began to ring again.

 

“Not Just Blooms, this is Angela how can I help you?”

 

Her voice was cheerful regardless of how frustrated she looked as she blew a piece of hair that was dangling between her eyes. She gave me an apologetic look as she turned and wiped her hands on her apron and began typing on a touch screen behind her.

 

I tried to ignore the petals that stood before me, waiting for Angela to arrange them in a particular way. However….without my consent, my hands began to caress the stems, cutting and arranging them in the tall vase. Large red roses…Berringer to be specific. Whoever owned this place used the best. In my research last night, it only indicated that it was a family owned business, but never gave the name of the family.

 

As I continued to place the stems, I allowed my mind to wonder. Would the receiver of these roses forgive the sender of any wrong doing, if that was the reason for the arrangement? Or would she toss all the hard work, both Mother Nature and mine against a wall? Or perhaps it was her birthday or anniversary?

 

“Oh my god, I’m so….” The girl working behind the counter had finally finished with the caller. However, the phone had started to ring again. Her big brown eyes grew larger as she took in what I had completed. “….sorry.” She looked from the arrangement to me and back again.

 

“Please tell me you need a job. Irina quit last week and Es hasn’t had a chance to get someone in here that knows the difference between a carnation and a cactus.”

 

I smiled as I walked over to the ribbons and chose a very pretty velvet ribbon and began to twist it into a bow. I took the wire and quickly secured the bow and tails, clipping it quickly from the roll.

 

“Well, carnations are very hardy flowers that have a distinctive smell. You can die them a hundred colors and use them as a filler flower. Cactus, on the other hand, is a really pain to work with as it has these nasty needles that stick you if you try to put them in an arrangement.”

 

I placed the bow securely in the vase and stepped back. I looked over at Angela and we both began to laugh.

 

“I am actually looking for a job.” I extended out my hand as I introduced myself.

 

“I’m Isabella, Bella, to my friends.” I purposely left out my last name. If I didn’t get the job here, there was no point in sharing that piece of information.

 

“Oh…ok.” She was looking all around her as the phone continued to ring.

 

“Fill this out and as soon as Es comes in this morning I will show her what you did.” She looked to the phone that now showed all of the red lights blinking.

 

“I’m sorry, I have to get this.”

 

I smiled and took the sheet of paper that she located and began to fill it out. I took a copy of my resume and slide both pieces of paper into Angela’s hand as she continued to take orders from the phone. I waved goodbye and headed out of the store.

 

Regardless if I got a call from this Es, I needed a place to live. The flier indicated the apartment was on the same street as the store. Looking at the house numbers, I turned left and began to search. Four blocks later, I found the right number. The window, on the ground floor, had a For Rent sign in it, so that confirmed for me I was in the right place.

 

The building was a little on the rough side. The cement was cracked and crumbling, the windows could use a cleaning, but all that was cosmetic. I knocked on the door that said, “Office.” A younger guy opened the door and the look he gave me sent chills down my spine.

 

“What can I do for you, sweetheart?”

 

His teeth were a little yellow, a direct result from the cigarette that hung from his lips. His hair looked as if it hadn’t seen soap and water in a few days. You could hear the sounds of a ball game in the background.

 

“Hi, yes…. I saw you have an apartment for rent, is it still available?”

 

He removed the cigarette from his mouth and tossed it onto the street behind me. I stood my ground and didn’t flinch as he moved too close for my comfort.

 

“Yeah, baby. It’s right next door to mine.” He wiggled his monobrow….I swallowed hard.

 

When I didn’t react to his…compliment, I guess, he shrugged his shoulder and closed the door behind him. He pointed to the left and it was then I noticed the red door that was indeed next to his. The paint was nearly gone and the wood had what looked like dirty oil stains on it. He took out a set of keys and began to find the one that would open the old door with number 3 that was dangling upside down.

 

“The rent is $2000 per month, due on the first. If you’re late, on the second, you’re out on your ass. The furniture is included in the rent as well as the water. You have to pay for your own electricity.”

 

I nearly gagged at the smell that hit my face when the door finally opened. In the first room was a single chair with a milk crate that I assumed was supposed to be a table. To the left, was what I think they intended to be a kitchen? The sink was being held up by concrete blooms and a free garden hose was hanging from a hole above the window. At least, I think it was a window as it wasn’t clean enough to see outside.

 

I was about to walk to the next room, thinking that a little elbow grease and a coat of paint would do this place a world of good when my cell phone started ringing. Looking at the screen, it was a number that I didn’t recognize. I decided to answer it anyway seeing as this was one of those disposable phones. I didn’t spend more than twenty dollars and if it was anyone I didn’t want to talk to again, I could just toss it.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Good morning, I’m looking for an Isabella? This is Esme Cullen with Not Just Blooms.”

 

My smile was quick and real. I excused myself telling monobrow that I had to take this call.

 

“Yes, this is she.” I was careful not to say my name, as monobrow didn’t need to know it.

 

“Oh good, listen, Angela showed me the arrangement you did while you were here. I’ve looked over your resume, but I would like to see if you can arrange more than just roses?”

 

I knew exactly what she was doing. Roses were very easy to arrange, daisies are even easier, but add some tropical flowers and you have to balance them.

 

“Absolutely, when can I show you?” I crossed my fingers and closed my eyes hoping she would say now.

 

“Well, Angela says you just left, so you can’t be far.”

 

“No ma’am, I’m actually just down the street looking at an apartment. I can be there in five minutes.” I began walking toward the door ready to run back to the flower shop.

 

“Five minutes?” The line was quiet and she didn’t sounded too happy.

 

“Yes ma’am, I found a flier in the store next to yours and I was just checking it out.”

 

I quickly stepped outside inhaling the fresh air, not bothering to say goodbye to monobrow.

 

“Oh good lord! That means you can only be in one place. Get the hell out of there and get here as fast as you can! If I don’t see you in ten minutes, I’m calling my son to come and get you!”

 

Beta Note:

 

Oh Bella. *shakes head* First, if I seen what the place looked like on the outside, I would have just left. Second, after the dude said the rent was 2 grand, I would have just left. Lastly, after seeing the front room, I would have just left. No amount of elbow grease or fresh paint could make that place look nice. LOL.

 

A/N

 

So, we covered several things in this one. First, we introduced Esme and Angela. Second, we have Bella trying to find an apartment and getting introduced to a very interesting individual. How many of you thought she was going to pay that kind of money for a complete shit hole? If you head over to my face book page you will see many pics for this particular chapter.

 

Recap:

 

We have Bella, who seems to be your standard-issue girl next door, who has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime in getting away from her fiance. We have Douchward/Whorewared, neither has any idea that their worlds are about to collide in a huge way. Last chapter, Edward mentioned that Esme was a tough lady. He also thought she was the last lady ever made. Let’s see if he continues to think that. Bella is full of optimism and I wish I could tell you that it will remain, but you know what she came from and what Edward is. She’s going to be faced with some tough decisions.

 

Thank you again to my Beta, she got this chapter to me early (Because I’m awesome like that) so that I could post before I leave for my daughter’s shower. Check out my face book page if you haven’t already.

 

Beta Note: Now, I wrote my note when I beta-ed this chapter, then added Cayce’s note. So, this first, second, and third we BOTH wrote was just a coincidence. It wasn’t planned. I swear. LOL

 

  1. Chapter 7

 

Chapter 6

 

BPOV

 

I ran down the street as I feared that Esme knew something about that apartment that I clearly did not. When I saw the blue awning come into view, I slowed to a quick walk. The last thing I needed was to meet her all stinky and sweaty. I passed several people who all smiled and said good morning. It made me feel, not only welcome, but also a little secure in the neighborhood.

 

I wasn’t a religious person by any means, but before I walked back into the flower shop, I said a silent prayer that I would get this job.

 

Angela was busy once again organizing arrangements that had been prepared. A beautiful dark haired lady stood behind the counter now. She didn’t look like she belonged there, more like on her way to a business meeting. Her perfect suit wouldn’t last a single day while doing floral work. She had a cell phone up to her ear and was having a heated conversation with someone.

 

“Do you want me to go down there?”

 

Her hand was on her hip and I noticed the enormous diamond that rested on her ring finger. The matching Rolex told me she had money or knew a really good jeweler that could fake the good shit.

 

“I asked you two weeks ago to handle this. That slime ball is still trying to rent that illegal apartment. If you don’t take care of it by the time this shop closes, I’m going down there on my own. Do I make myself clear?”

 

She didn’t wait for an answer as she hit the end button and then turned in my direction.

 

“Oh thank god! I would hate to have to chew out my husband and my son in the same morning.”

 

She rounded the counter, holding out her hand, as she made her way to me. “I’m Esme, but everyone calls me Es. I’m the owner and you must be Bella?”

 

I shook her hand and smiled, an actual smile, not one that I had to paint on. “Yes, ma’am. I’m Bella, Bella Swan.”

 

She leaned in and gave me a kiss to each cheek. “Aren’t you a beauty?” Suddenly, she got this look on her face like she was picturing the future or something.

 

“So, I was thinking that I wanted to see if you could think quickly on your feet. You see we get a lot of people who want us to make something with the color orange.” She waved her arms around as she showed the world orange, like she was throwing it out into the room.

 

Still smiling, I placed my purse on the counter, and took a look at the cooler. The cooler back in Forks always had a decent supply of flowers, however, this cooler was out of this world with color and variety. I began to go wild as I took stem after stem and began to fill the crystal vase. I was used to working with the acrylic, but this was a nice glass vase. I pulled greenery from a vat on the work table and within minutes I had a beautiful “orange inspired” bouquet.

 

I turned back to Es and saw the look of shock on her face. She shook her head and then stepped to the computer and hit several buttons. From a printer, that sat not five inches from me, a long white strip of paper started printing. She walked over and began to tear apart the white paper, placing them in order, side by side.

 

“Alright Bella….go.”

 

I looked at each order and began to fall into my happy place. I imagined the story behind each order, it was a lot like people watching, but a little more personal. The final order was for two dozen of mixed roses.

 

“Tell me he didn’t call again.” Es spoke from beside me. She was fluffing the last arrangement I had done as she eyed the final order.

 

“Yep, he was on his way to see Carlisle.” Angela replied, not taking her eyes off the Tiger Lilies she was working with.

 

Es said something in a language that I didn’t understand. I got the hint pretty quickly that I wasn’t privy to the information. Again with the secrets.

 

“Bella, use the older roses for that one.”

 

I looked over at Es, her eyes on her cell phone as she typed away. “Sure, if you point me in the right direction.”

 

I was shocked when she pointed at the trash can. I walked over and sure enough there were several roses in the bottom of it. I pulled them out and started to remove the dead petals. Back in forks I had learned a trick to bring flowers back to life. Looking around I noticed some wrapped candy next to the register. I took one of the mints, unwrapped it, and placed it in between two pieces of cellophane crushing it to nearly a powder.

 

I tossed in the powdered candy and let it sit in the water until it dissolved completely. Once I placed the roses in the vase, I felt bad because they looked so tired. I took the vase and placed it in the cooler, giving the sugar time to do its trick.

 

While I waited, I glanced around and noticed the mess I made. I grabbed a broom and swept, not only my clippings, but the ones at Angela’s feet too. By the time I was satisfied with the floor, I went back to the cooler and found the roses looking a lot better. I grabbed a bunch of baby’s breath, some greenery, and arranged it the best I could making a bow to fill in the gap. When I felt ok about the arrangement, I turned around to see both Angela and Es smiling.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m not happy with this particular arrangement. I would have placed a few more roses of a different color, but you instructed I use the ones from the trash and that’s all that was there.”

 

Es and Angela looked at each other and then back at me.

 

“Trust me Bella, if you knew the kind of person those were going to, you would have stomped on the flower first. They will do just fine.”

 

Es moved away from the counter, where she was leaning, motioning me to follow. We both walk around it and she stops turning towards me.

 

“I see myself in your eyes. You love these flowers as much as I do. You care about the quality of the product and that isn’t something I can teach. You also don’t have to be reminded to clean up after your work. Angela said you jumped right in and made yourself at home.”

 

Thinking back on my actions before, I worried that I may have overstepped.

 

“I like people who take charge, get the job done so to speak.”

 

I glanced at the ornate clock hanging over the door. I wasn’t surprised to see that I had been here for almost four hours. That’s how it is for me when I get into what I love.

 

“So…if you’re interested I would love to have you on my team.”

 

The genuine smile I gave her only got bigger. Hell yes, I wanted to work here! It felt and smelled like home. Es told me how much she could pay me and I knew I could survive on that. She further made my day, life rather, when she mentioned she had an apartment over the shop that she used to live in.

 

She walked me to the back of the shop where the back entrance was. Even though the area housed the loading dock, she had planted shrubs and vines that were clearly rose bushes. To the right of the dock was a door with a pad lock on it. Walking over, she took out the key from her pocket, and opened it. There was a small set of stairs that lead up to a white door. Once we were inside, the apartment was small, but full of light.

 

“It’s only three rooms, but it’s clean and legal. I lived up here until I married my Carlisle. When I bought the building, I couldn’t afford much else. I slowly converted this into what you see now. Doing the legal thing and getting the proper permits.”

 

I looked around the cute kitchen that was built to maximize the space it was in. The living room doubled as a bedroom, with the couch converting into a bed. It was bright and clean and according to Es …free.

 

She handed me the keys and a stack of papers for tax purposes. I hugged her and she returned it with no hesitation. It all felt so wonderful, so right. Am I dreaming?

 

Standing in the center of my living room, I looked out the window and onto the street. I needed to get checked out of the hotel and get some groceries so that I could make dinner in my new home.

 

I grabbed my keys and purse and jogged down the stairs. Es had instructed me to always leave through the shop entrance and not through the alley. She said the neighborhood was safe, but you never knew if someone was where they shouldn’t be. I had just came in the back door when I heard Es talking with someone. I tried to slip by, not wanting to interrupt, but she must have noticed me.

 

“Oh Bella, come and meet my son, Edward.”

 

A/N:

 

SO I’M BACK….

 

To Recap:

 

Bella has started a new life in Chicago. She deposited a very large check in a bank where she ran into James. We all agree that Edward isn’t the type of guy who Bella should be associated with, considering what she left behind in Washington. Now she has faced, yet another man, who wanted to take advantage of her by charging her far too much money for a rundown apartment. With the introduction of Esme and Angela, things seemed to be looking up. I know that everyone has been asking when these guys are going to meet and I won’t keep that from happening much longer.

 

  1. Chapter 8

 

Chapter 7

 

EPOV

 

Jessica didn’t call me back last night. I knew she was pissed because she thought I was being mean to her. James would have cut her loose, but I kept her around because she knew how to keep her mouth shut. My dad wanted to talk with me again today, and so on the way, I called my mom’s shop and asked Angela to send her a bouquet.

 

Angela was a good girl, the kind that my dad would love for me to be with. She was like a little sister to me and her fiancee was currently over in the fucking desert with the Marines. I had talked with him before he shipped out and gave him my word that I would look after her. I also told him that once he was out of the military that if he wanted a job with me, he just needed to say the word. I doubted he would ever take me up on my offer, but it was there if he did. Angela had worked for my mother for a long time and she trusted her. That meant that I did too.

 

As for how my mother felt about Jessica, well I’m sure you can guess. I knew my mom sent over shitty flowers. Hell, she didn’t even bother to charge my credit card for it. My mom had a reputation for being the best shop in Chicago. She didn’t get it by making a shit product.

 

I pulled into the club that my dad often held meetings in. It was one of the dozen strip clubs we owned in the city. As I walked in, I noticed a few new girls dancing on the pole. Another thing my Uncle Aro told me was that fucking a stripper is like buying a rental car. It’s a bad idea, no matter how pretty it looks. I saw my dad sitting at the head of the table, James was perched to his right and Uncle Aro to his left.

 

“Hey kiddo.” Uncle Aro said as he slapped my back in a hug. I swear to fucking god, I will be a hundred and nine and that old bastard will still call me a kid.

 

“Uncle,” I responded returning the hug.

 

I was catching the tail end of what James was telling my father.

 

“Seems the girlfriend left town not long after the funeral. There is no trace of her or her whereabouts.”

 

It seems we were talking about the shit that went down in Washington.

 

“Do we need to find her?” I questioned. If James thought she was a loose end, that shit would be tied up right the fuck now.

 

“No, it seems she was kept pretty much in the dark. I mean the fucker had a hand full of baby mommas and a girl with a rock. Sounds like she was glad to be rid of him.”

 

My father agreed that this was a closed issue. The girl wasn’t going to be a problem and decided to let her stay gone. We talked more about some of the hits that have been going on in one of our neighborhoods, some punks were roughing up the older store owners. They paid us good money to keep them and their property protected. Dad told James to head over and handle it.

 

“And you.” My father drawled out.

 

My attention now turned to him as he rubbed a hand over his face.

 

“I got a call from your mother this morning, seems that motherfucker is still trying to rent that fucking pig sty out at a premium. She wants it handled today or else.”

 

I knew what that meant. If I didn’t handle it personally, she would be crawling up my ass. My mother may be a foot and a half shorter than I am, but she would hang me by my balls and not lose any sleep. I would head over there first thing and get rid of the problem. My mom loved the neighborhood that housed her shop and I’ll be god damned if I let some small time junkie fuck that up for her.

 

“Oh, and before you leave, you need to stop by the back men’s room.”

 

Looking at him with a questioning look, “I don’t need to take a piss.”

 

My father didn’t blink an eye telling me clearly, “I didn’t fucking ask you if you needed to piss. I told you to go look in the back bathroom.”

 

I didn’t argue with the man, in the hierarchy of things, he was very much more than just my father, he was the head of this family and my boss. If he told me to take a shit on Michigan Ave, then I’d be dropping my drawers during rush hour and taking that shit.

 

I stood from my chair and made my way to the bathroom in the back. When I opened the door, I nearly vomited at what I saw. Jessica was on all fours with one of our guy’s dicks in her mouth while his buddy was fucking her ass. She was moaning like the fucking whore she was. Not one of those fuckers looked at me as I closed the door, but they sure as shit reacted when I slammed my fist repeatedly into the wooden door, causing splinters to scatter everywhere. I didn’t wait for the motherfuckers to come out, I would deal with that shit later.

 

My father was now standing in his office by the time I came out. My anger pumping through my veins.

 

“Well?” He questioned me with a knowing look on his face.

 

“Your right, never take a common whore home to your mother.”

 

James looked up from his cell phone and was about to open his mouth when the bathroom door flew open and Marcus came running in with his fingers still fumbling with his zipper.

 

“I’m sorry Boss….”

 

Turning toward my father I questioned him with a look, he, in turn, turned away from me silently giving me the answer I needed.

 

“Don’t fucking tell me you didn’t know!” I roared.

 

He didn’t answer as the door opened again and the whore herself came running in.

 

“Baby I can…”

 

Her words stopped real quick when she found herself looking down the barrel of my gun. My body didn’t finch as I fired a single shot, a shot that entered the center of Marcus’s forehead and left a big ass hole in my father’s office door. I looked to Jessica who suddenly turned into this screaming mess.

 

“Better get your ass on that fucking pole out there, your rent is due in a few weeks!”

 

I holstered my gun as Jessica crawled on her hands and knees out the door still hysterical. She knew I was dead serious about that shit. She had played me for an idiot. Dipping into a pot she had no business dipping in. I took her off that fucking pole and gave her a nice life. She pays me back by fucking two of my men. That shit won’t fly with me.

 

“Don’t forget to take care of that issue for your mother. Her shop closes soon.”

 

Giving my father and Uncle a hug, I headed out. Taking care of the Zippy and his apartment he kept trying to rent out was easy. Zippy was a thug-wanna-be. He had tried to work for me, but I told him to go fuck himself. He then found this abandoned building that the city seemed to forget about. He moved in and tried to rent out an area in that building. The neighbors knew to contact my mom to get rid of him. I had asked James to handle it, but with the situation in Washington, he hadn’t managed to do it. I told Zippy he had two minutes to get his shit out of there while I poured gasoline over everything. I checked to make sure that no one else was passed out in the building before I tossed the lit match inside and shut the door. Old man Parker who ran the pet shop was watching from his window, he gave me a thumbs up as the flames grew higher and higher.

 

No one would be calling the authorities until well after I left. They all wanted this bastard gone and with his building up in flames, I gave them just that.

 

I waved to the onlookers as I headed to my mother’s shop. I wouldn’t tell her about Jessica. There were just some things ladies didn’t need to know about and the actions of a whore was definitely in that category.

 

I noticed old man Newton standing on the corner watching the smoke rise from down the street.

 

“Hey Mr. Newton, how are things?”

 

Mike Newton had owned the corner store longer than my mom owned her shop. He was a good man who tried to keep the place looking nice. His building needed some repairs and I know mom planned to try and help him. He was getting up in years and I needed to ask him who would take over for him when he passed. I didn’t want some pervert anywhere near my mom or Angela.

 

“Could be better. Had some kids causing trouble last night.”

 

This was not good news.

 

“Oh, any clue who they were?”

 

If it was one of the local kids, I would give them a friendly reminder of how to respect their elders.

 

“No Mr. Cullen, never saw them before, but I did catch the little shits on video.”

 

He led me inside and showed me three boys knocking stuff over in his store. They didn’t look familiar, so I pulled out my phone taking a picture and sent it to one of my guys, Emmett.

 

“I’ll find them.” I told him. My word was everything. If I said I would do something, then I would. If you failed to keep your word in my world, you could lose your power. Lose your power and you can kiss your life goodbye.

 

“Anything else?” I questioned as I text Emmett instructing him to find out who these kids were.

 

“Your mom hired a new girl, gave her the apartment upstairs too.”

 

Mr. Newton was worse than any woman when it came to being a busybody. That’s why he has my protection for so cheap.

 

“Pretty little thing. New in town, no car. No ring on her finger.”

 

I thanked him for the information and headed next door to see my mom. Dad hadn’t mentioned anyone new in the shop. I didn’t want anyone for myself and after the shit Jessica pulled, even a young girl around my mother if I didn’t know her. Thinking of how I had to cut Jessica got me to thinking about who would be taking her place. I knew she would never make rent in that condo she begged me for. I’d have her tossed out and the new girl in by the first of the month.

 

Irina came to mind. She had quit working for my mother not long ago to go back to school. I would think about that shit later because I needed to talk with my mom. Walking into her shop, I noticed, that for the first time in a while, it wasn’t utter chaos. Mom was smiling as she spoke to, who I assumed was my father, on the phone. She saw me and waved me over.

 

“Ok….yes, he just got here….Ok, I love you too.”

 

Putting her phone on the counter, she held her arms open for a hug.

 

“I can smell barbecue.” She laughed as she rubbed my back.

 

“Just sorry you had to ask twice.”

 

I leaned away from her allowing her to return to the flowers she was working on.

 

“It’s done now.”

 

I heard the back door close and I waited for Angela to come into the room, however, the most absolute gorgeous creature that did appear took my fucking breath away.

 

“Oh Edward, there’s someone I would like you to meet.”

 

I was frozen in place while I continued to look upon utter perfection. She was a living fantasy. Her skin was perfect, lips, hair and eyes…everything I could have ever imagined. I’ve seen and been with my fair share of beautiful women, but she was in a class all on her own. I couldn’t move, blink or even think.

 

I yearned to touch her, caress her, hold her, to give her anything she desired. I couldn’t understand this feeling I was having. It was as if these tiny, spider-like strands were connecting me to her. I didn’t know a fucking thing about her, but it didn’t matter. This was a whole new level of desire for me. Not the typical desire of shoving my dick inside her mouth. No. This was the desire to kiss that perfect mouth and I didn’t kiss…ever!

 

“Hello…um…sorry to interrupt, I was just on my way to collect my things. Please excuse me.”

 

I was still frozen, welded to the fucking floor when she turned and left the shop. Only the sounds of sirens down the street pulled me from the trance I had been in.

 

“Holy fuck…who was that?”

 

Looking to my mother, who now had her hand covering her mouth, her eyes wide and nearly bulging.

 

“Oh my sweet boy. It finally happened.” The tears now flowing.

 

I didn’t understand what the fuck she was talking about or what just happened, but I knew I had to see the one person who could help me figure it out. I quickly kissed my mother’s cheek and ran out of the shop.

 

A/N:

 

Well, I think we could all use a shot of penicillin after that chapter. Edward is just….UGH!

 

To recap, Edward is a douche…well, wait. He’s a member of organized crime, and, therefore, enjoys certain liberties. As I told you in the beginning, he’s going to change once Bella arrives…that started to happen here. Now, I don’t think many of you were surprised by Jessica’s action. Just because the men have this silent agreement doesn’t mean that the women have to accept it. Jessica is and always will be looking out for number one.

 

See ya next chapter.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 9

 

Chapter 8

 

EPOV

 

“Where are you now?”

 

I questioned once I heard my father’s voice. I needed to talk to him, get the cloudiness out of my head. Maybe call our family physician and have a checkup done on me. I was too young for a heart attack, but that’s how my chest feels right now.

 

“I’m home waiting for your mother, why?”

 

I didn’t feel like telling him anything over the phone, so I told him I was on my way and hung up not waiting for his reply.

 

Jessica had left a ton of messages on my phone this afternoon. I would have to deal with that shit and quick. Maybe that was what my issue was, it had been over twelve hours since she had taken care of me last. That’s exactly what I needed. Regardless if she’s a whore or not.

 

I pulled up into my parent’s driveway, cutting off my engine and nodding at the two guards at the door. My mother had insisted on those two ever since the attempt on my dad’s life years ago. When they married, he had this house built for her and his new family to live in. I had once heard him say that when my birth mother had me she was unable to conceive again. However, not even a year after he married Esme, they had my sister and biggest pain in my ass, Rosalie.

 

“Mr. Edward.” Maggie, my mother’s housekeep and cook, greeted me.

 

She has been with our family for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, she would come into my room and sneak me sweets. When Rose had a bad breakup a few years ago, it was Maggie who she cried out for in the hospital as Esme was in Europe. I loved the lady and since she was much older than my mom, she was definitely a real lady.

 

“Maggie, how’s my favorite girl?”

 

She smacked me with the dish towel she had in her hands, “Don’t let your mother hear you say that.”

 

I kissed her cheek and headed to my father’s study. I didn’t have to ask where he was when my mom wasn’t here, you could always find him there. The door was open and he was sitting behind his desk with his reading glasses midway on the bridge of his nose. When I was a small boy, I would imagine myself sitting behind a desk like this one and I would mimic everything he did…funny, I still do. I find myself thinking how my father would handle certain situations.

 

“Have a seat Edward, and shut the door behind you.”

 

He still had his eyes on the folder that rested on his desk. I followed his instructions and took a seat in the chair that faced his desk. Slowly his eyes met mine while he removed his glasses placing them gently on the desk. I had a slight chill as I took in his posture and stance. I’ve known my father to be a calculated and somewhat ruthless man when it came to the business.

 

“Check your denial and attitude back in your car. I’ve already spoken with your mother and I know exactly why you’re here.”

 

I knew he had to have spoken with her when I rushed out of her shop, however, I hadn’t done anything wrong for him to be this firm with me.

 

“The second you closed that door behind you, you became my son and not one of my men. The family has nothing to do with the conversation we are about to have.”

 

I’ve killed my fair share of men and scared the shit out of many more, but right now I was the one sweating. I ran the conversation I had with mom over and over in my head. I had done exactly what she had asked of me. I hadn’t raised my voice or said anything condescending. I was at a complete loss as to where his anger was coming from.

 

“Your mother tells me that you met her new employee.”

 

I nodded my head and tried to hide my confusion.

 

“What’s her name again?” He questioned with a smirk. I relaxed slightly, although at the mention of the beautiful girl in my mother’s shop caused my chest to ache again. It was then that I realized I never caught her name…did I even give her mine?

 

“I-I…”

 

My father started laughing like I had just told him the funniest joke he had ever heard. I crossed my arms over my chest, partly because he was annoying me, but mostly because the ache was getting to me.

 

“Let me tell you a story that I shared with your grandfather after I met Esme.” His laughter had subsided to chuckles at this point, although his eyes were watery and his face flushed.

 

“Dad, I’ve heard this…”

 

He held up his hand and my mouth shut quickly. His eyes telling me to shut up or he would shut me up.

 

“This isn’t about Elizabeth.”

 

He made the sign of the cross across his chest then kissed the medallion that hung on a gold chain around his neck. When he married Es, she told him to melt down his wedding ring and have something made from it. She told him that Elizabeth would always be a part of him and that he should give her a place of honor.

 

“What I’m about to tell you stays in this room.”

 

I nodded my head watching him place the medallion back into his undershirt.

 

“She was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, still is, but she saw right through me.”

 

He shook his head, his eyes losing focus and his attention wasn’t on me anymore. This was a memory that was fresh, living in his mind’s eye.

 

“I used my usual charm that kept me rolling in the girls, much as you have now.” He snickered. I never hid my sexual appetite from my dad, hell, he even took me to see my first real set of tits when I turned thirteen.

 

“She turned me down and kept right on smiling and working. Treated me like any other customer she had helped all day. I was half way to the cemetery when I realized she didn’t even give me her name. It took, what seemed like forever, to get her to confess it to me.”

 

The smile that had slowly crawled onto my face was suddenly gone. The girl who was causing my body to react this way hadn’t practically climbed on my body to get closer to me.

 

“Didn’t get her name did you?”

 

My attention snapped back in his direction, he was comparing this girl in mom’s shop to his past history of my mother.

 

“No, but I didn’t really…”

 

Again the hand went up and this time he stood up walking around his desk to lean on it; his body a little more relaxed.

 

“Edward, tell me….. I notice you keep rubbing your chest. Did you eat something bad for lunch or did this start after seeing the beautiful girl?”

 

I opened my mouth to deny when he gave me the look.

 

“When you saw her eyes, did your world tilt on its axis and leave you gasping for breath?”

 

I didn’t even try to argue. He was describing exactly what I was feeling; how she was affecting me.

 

“I don’t need an answer, but I do have some advice that my father gave me and I’m going to give you.”

 

I didn’t say a word, couldn’t rather, so I just listened.

 

“You can sit back and pretend she’s just another girl, another piece to the pie, or you can get your head on straight and show this girl that you can be everything she needs. Cause trust me, she is everything you need.”

 

When he was finished, he walked back around his desk and sat down. My father was a wise man, but sometimes, even an old dog can learn new tricks.

 

“Dad, how long did it take for you to get Mom to tell you her name?”

 

He smiled and shook his head. “A few weeks, maybe.”

 

I smiled pulling out my phone. I had noticed mom’s car pull into the drive and pass by the window behind him, no doubt waiting to ambush me when I opened the door.

 

“Not Just Blooms, this is Angela, how can I help you?”

 

I had intentionally placed the call on speaker so that my father could watch and learn.

 

“Hey Ang, its Edward. Listen, I need a favor. I know my mom has left, but can you see if she’s in the parking lot still? I tried her cell and it’s ringing busy.”

 

I looked up to my father who was waiting with anticipation.

 

“Oh, ok, I’ll check and call you back.”

 

I gave him my best cocky look and waited a few seconds and called the shop again.

 

“Not Just Blooms, this is Bella, can I help you?”

 

I hit the end button, ending the call and gave my old man a smug look.

 

“Her name is Bella and it took,” looking at my watch, “less than a day.”

 

We both cracked up laughing.

 

“Fine, you used your resources, but…” He pointed his index finger at me; he would always have the last word.

 

“I challenge you to return to your old ways. Go visit Jessica and have one last taste, then tomorrow come tell me that I’m wrong.”

 

I was always up for a challenge. I needed to wrap up this whole Jessica thing anyway.

 

Twenty minutes later…..

 

“That’s it…oh yeah….”

 

“Mmmm…. you like this baby?”

 

“Oh, fuck yes….oh yes…oh yeah…play with my balls.”

 

“I love sucking your cock….”

 

“Oh, goddamn Bella!….you’re….”

 

I opened my eyes quickly when the warm, wet mouth left my dick; not completely hard, but chilled. Looking down, I didn’t see the brown eyes of the amazing girl I’m trying to get out of my mind, but the blue ones that irritate the fuck out of me and have recently violated my fucking trust.

 

“My name isn’t Bella.”

 

Ten minutes ago, when I entered that front door, I had one goal in mind and that was to fuck the memory of the brown eyed girl out of my head. I was going to prove my father wrong when he said what he did.

 

“Fuck!” I shouted. I began to place my now flaccid dick back into my pants. It hadn’t worked. I was still thinking about her even with Jessica’s skillful mouth.

 

I was done and I knew it.

 

Standing up quickly, I finished buckling my belt, pulled cash from my pocket and showered it over a still kneeling Jessica. I had every intention of telling her that she needed to pack her shit and find somewhere else to live, although, that went up in smoke when Bella’s face corrupted my mind.

 

Slamming my car door shut, I grabbed my phone and hit the speed dial. I didn’t even let him finish with his hello when I demanded.

 

“Alright, what the fuck do I do?”

 

Beta Note: Really Edward? Jessica? *gags* Are you that desperate?

 

A/N:

 

I loved writing this chapter. I kept picturing Edward all cocky and then….wham! His world is turned upside down.

 

Recap…..

 

Edward is used to having the world at his feet, snapping his fingers, people jumping and asking how high. Now, he has this beautiful brunette that could care less about his money or power. Jessica only confirms that she is a user. As for Edward’s choice to “dip” again, well….

 

  1. Chapter 10

 

Chapter 9

 

BPOV

 

I gave the concierge a warm smile and a hug as I left the hotel. He had been so amazing and helped me more than I could ever thank him for. He congratulated me on my new job at the shop and asked me to tell Ms. Esme hello for him. I had the driver drop me off at a local food store, where he insisted on waiting for me. I ran in and quickly grabbed a few items. I would shop more on my day off when I could spend more time exploring the area. I thanked the driver who refused my money saying that George the concierge was his brother.

 

Angela was rushing outside as I was coming in and I nearly ran into her.

 

“Oh…sorry!” We said in unison and danced around each other.

 

The phone began to ring and Angela rolled her eyes and asked if I would get that as she had to check something for Edward.

 

Edward….

 

I was trying to put him completely out of my head. I was being a horrible person by judging him before I really knew him, but I just got the feeling that he didn’t get to know a girl before he got to “know” a girl. I had no time in my life for men like that. I’m sure that his fancy suits and Ray Ban shades would rock a lot of girls to their core, but with the history that I’ve had, I want more than a pretty face and designer clothes. I want honesty and compassion. I want…true love.

 

“Not Just Blooms, this is Bella can I help you?”

 

I waited then heard the click of the caller hanging up. Clearly the wrong number.

 

Angela returned and I told her goodnight. I locked up the shop and jogged up my steps. Esme must have been up here as there was fresh linen folded neatly on the sofa. I opened the tiny fridge and saw fresh fruit, milk and eggs. She was too much. That night while eating the grill cheese I had cooked in my tiny kitchen, over the cutest flower shop that was owned by the closest thing I had to a mother, and a new friend to boot, I smiled. I couldn’t get any more content as I was then. After eating, I settled on the sofa bed and drifted off to a peaceful sleep.

 

Yesterday, Angela had showed me the ins and outs of the computer system Esme had for the shop. This thing was super easy to use and it was simply amazing. It told us everything about this shop you could ever want. It also had a really cool feature where we could leave messages for one another. Angela told me that Esme used that feature quite a bit. When I got to the shop, there was already a message waiting.

 

Girls, its nearing wedding season…change the front display and… surprise me.

 

That poor lady had no idea what she had unleashed. Back in Forks, I would practically beg my boss to change up the store front, but year after year he displayed the same old tiring stuff. By the time Angela arrived, the display was half finished. I had designed a white carnation wedding cake years ago and now it was a reality.

 

I found several boxes marked wedding and love. I made the front window look like a reception with the cake as the centerpiece. I was hanging some silk fabric to separate the window from the inside of the store. It was sheer enough that we could see out, yet thick enough that it created a dream effect. The banner I placed at the bottom of the window just reinforced the name of the shop. The bell above the door dinged and what looked like two girls walked in. The first one I could only see the side of her head from where I was standing. She was talking to a dark headed girl who was much shorter than her.

 

“….he was like, Oh baby, it’s just stress and….then he’s like….oh, you know I love you. I mean we are practically engaged.”

 

Her voice was gravely and honestly irritating. I shook my head and continued to hang the fabric.

 

“Oh…Jessica.”

 

Angela had told me to keep working on the display while she was waiting for Esme to come in. She just knew she would love it. She said she would answer all of the calls and take care of any customers that came in. However, the tone of her voice as she addressed the girl had me pausing. I had always made it a point to avoid being the “c” part of an “a” and “b” conversation, although, it always benefited me to pay attention to what was being said.

 

“Hey girl.” This Jessica addressed Angela like they had been friends for years. It was clear by the look in Angela’s eyes that there was a story there.

 

“Listen….I need a solid. I want a few more flowers around my condo and I want them to be exactly like the ones Eddie sent me the other day.”

 

Solid? Really? Who talks like that?

 

“Sure, you’re in luck. Our new girl, Bella, is here today and she’s the one who actually made that one.”

 

Angela had indicated that I was the girl and Jessica spun around quickly.

 

“Bella? That’s not a name you hear very often. You say your new here?”

 

I didn’t like not one single word that came out of her mouth. The way she said my name, like she had heard it before, and definitely not in a good way. Her hand was on her hip and the other was twirling her bright red, fake acrylic nail around a strand of her over processed hair.

 

“Alice, oh my word, how lovely to see you!”

 

Esme was my saving grace once again. She had the shorter girl wrapped up in a hug and Jessica was completely trying to get Esme’s attention.

 

“You have to give your mother my love and tell her that I need to have lunch with her.”

 

I watched in amusement as Esme went from making Alice feel like a million bucks to acting like a school girl as she took in the window display. She grabbed Alice and Angela rushing outside, so I took that as my cue to make those bouquets for Jessica. I remembered that Esme told me to use the old flowers, but the trash had been taken out last night and it was empty. I would have to use the good stuff today. By the time they entered the store again, I was just finishing up the second bouquet. Esme was going on and on about how wonderful the window looked and just knew we would sell a ton of the wedding cake flowers. This kind of shocked me because I never really thought about selling them, only showing them off.

 

I placed the bouquet on the counter as the girls continued with their conversation about lunch and wedding flowers. Jessica was busy typing away on her iPhone and completely ignoring everything around her. The door opened again and several other ladies came into the shop raving about the new display. I tuned them out giving Jessica her total.

 

“That’s 72.85 ma’am.” I said in my sweetest voice. The one I always reserved for the crankiest of patrons.

 

Now in my few years of working in the floral industry, I’ve had a gamut of reactions from people when I have given them their totals, but Jessica certainly took the cake.

 

“Just charge it to Edward.” She didn’t even look at me as she waved her hand at me.

 

“Im sorry?” I questioned. I hadn’t been told that anyone had a charge account here, although, it wasn’t uncommon, I just hadn’t seen it here.

 

“Did I fucking stutter?” She seethed at me and now looking at me with furry in her eyes.

 

“No, I heard you, but I don’t have anything from….”

 

She slammed her hand down on the counter and pushed her way directly into my face.

 

“He is my fucking boyfriend and I’m a member of this family.”

 

The last thing I wanted to do was to anger someone who was family. Esme could toss me out into the street and not think twice about it.

 

“It’s alright Jessica, they’re on the house today and I’ll speak to my son about future purchases.”

 

And then the day got clearer….this was the girlfriend. Now I understood why she desperately wanted Esme’s attention.

 

“Oh no, that won’t be necessary.” Jessica began to back pedal, reaching into her handbag to get her wallet.

 

Esme’s hand stilled hers, and for the first time since she entered the store, I felt bad for her. Esme was definitely a person I would want to know even if I didn’t work for her. But to be in Jessica’s position and have to prove yourself to the mother of your boyfriend that clearly didn’t like you was tough. I had never been in her shoes. Jared’s dad liked me more than his own children, I truly believe. Too bad the boyfriend was rotten to the core.

 

“Your money is no good here.” Her words were spoken in a hush, but her eyes told me this wasn’t Esme being nice. It was obvious there was a story behind the daggers Esme was shooting. Jessica’s head ducked immediately while reaching for her flowers, then leaving the store at a quickened pace.

 

I turned and started to clean up the leaves that had landed on the floor. Esme smooched the ladies who had come in. I hadn’t noticed the girl named Alice leave with Jessica, but she clearly wasn’t here now. With the store now empty, I began to fill the pending orders that Angela had taken.

 

“Girls, I need your help with something.” Esme was again typing on her phone while she walked toward the back of the store.

 

“June is not only a big bridal month, it’s also my son’s birthday. I’m going to need your help in planning his party.”

 

I smiled but tuned her out while I continued to work as she laid out her tentative plans. The bell rang again and I looked up only to see, none other than the man in question, come through the door. I turned back to my work knowing he wouldn’t me. I’m sure Jessica had called him and told him her tale of woe. He was more than likely here to mend fences with his mother.

 

“Hello, my favorite son.” She said as he kissed her cheek.

 

“Hello, beautiful ladies.”

 

I’ll give it to him, he had eyes that would melt the coldest of hearts and a voice that could make him big money if he ever wanted to work in the 900 number industry. It was his swagger that completely turned me off. He was all business, had a purpose for every step, and was the type of man who was always calculating his next move instead of enjoying the moment.

 

“What do I owe a visit two days in a row?” Esme questioned as she whiped the lip stick from his cheek.

 

It was reassuring that he wasn’t a recurring fixture in the shop. I could live with seeing him sporadically.

 

“Actually, I have come to right a wrong. Yesterday, I allowed myself to act rudely to our lovely Bella here, and I come offering an olive branch by an extension of a cup of coffee.”

 

The room was quiet and I seen Esme roll her eyes.

 

“Really Edward, you read that off a city bus or what?”

 

I couldn’t help myself, I laughed at her comment.

 

“I’m so sorry….” I apologized quickly. I was clearly out of place and he was her son.

 

“Oh, don’t you dare.” Esme pointed at me.

 

“His father tried this same charm on me when he first saw me. It didn’t work then and I won’t let it work now.”

 

I was completely confused, but continued sorting tickets. What did Esme’s husband have to do with anything?

 

“In all honesty mom, I did come to ask Bella to dinner. She’s new in town and can use a friend…I lend my services to her.”

 

I know that any girl with a working vagina is waiting in line to smack me upside the head, but I feel that this is completely inappropriate.

 

“I’m sorry, Edward, but I must decline your offer.”

 

He cocked his head, while Esme rested her chin on her palm. “Why is that? Do you have other plans?”

 

“No.” I responded looking him directly in those damn green eyes.

 

“Working late?” He shot back.

 

“No.”

 

“Married?”

 

“No.”

 

“Boyfriend?”

 

I raised my eyebrow as I answered, “No, but you have a girlfriend, who dislikes me enough already.”

 

My statement was meant to end the conversation, however, the reality was it only shifted it.

 

“Girlfriend?” Edward questioned in a shocked voice.

 

“Yes my son…tell us all about how you and Jessica are dating.”

 

Beta Note: Oh, I think I like Esme.

 

A/N:

 

I’m so sorry that I was a complete airhead. I’m not sure how I forgot to post yesterday, but as a peace offering, here is an extra chapter. (Because you were cleaning your purrtty yard up.)

 

Recap….

 

Bella just wants to live a simple life. Edward is trying the only way he knows to get the attention of the new girl. Jessica seems very afraid of Esme, I can’t say I blame her. I can just picture the look on Edward’s face when Esme questions him about Jessica being his girlfriend.

 

  1. Chapter 11

 

Chapter 10

 

EPOV

 

“Everything you have known about women since you were a little boy, forget it.”

 

I had asked my father’s help after the fuck storm that was Jessica. He invited me to meet him at Mickey’s, an Irish pub not far from my condo.

 

“She isn’t one of those girls who are going to bat her eye lashes at you and let you do anything you want to with her.”

 

Looking up from my untouched glass of Jamison’s, I questioned him. “Why? Why is she going to be any different from any other skirt I’ve ever chased? She’s a girl, dad. Plain and simple. She wants something that I can give her and I want something from her. It’s the same every time.”

 

My father studied my face before taking a drink from his glass, the ice clinking as he returned it to the table.

 

“For one, if she were just another skirt, you wouldn’t be here getting advice from your decrepit old man. You see in her what I saw in your mother. She is more than a girl. She is the one you seen yourself in her eyes. The girl you would do anything for, be anything, and willing to walk from the earth to the moon and back.”

 

I shook my head and took another drink. I fucking hated it when he was right about me.

 

“Ask yourself this. Does Jessica or Irina or even Tanya make you this crazy?”

 

My head snapped up instantly. I had never really mentioned Tanya to my family. She was something I did on my own.

 

“Think I didn’t know? I know everything, and I do mean everything, that goes on in this town.”

 

Nodding my head, I agreed. He had eyes and ears everywhere. I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

 

“Now tell me about these kids that are tearing up my town.”

 

Jessica had been texting me nonstop since I woke up this morning. She was out with Alice, the daughter of one of my men. The two of them were about the same age and they lived in the same building. Thinking about that again reminded me that I had to get her out of that apartment. If things progressed with Bella, as I hoped they would, she would be living there by the end of the week. My father’s voice echoing in my mind, forget everything you ever knew about girls.

 

Fuck…

 

I parked across the street and waited. According to Jessica’s texts, I had been buying her flowers today. I knew she had money from what I had tossed at her last night. It was only a few hundred dollars, and knowing her, the first place she would have gone was to have her nails done. I saw movement in the display window and nearly lost my shit when I noticed it was Bella. My mom was going to flip when she saw this window. Hell, she would be calling all of her garden party bitches to come and admire it.

 

A closer look confirmed that Jessica and Alice were both there. I noticed Mr. Newton standing outside and looking down the street. Glancing to see what he was looking at, I seen my mother’s Bentley come into view as she pulled over and let the Papas’ son park it for her.

 

The Papas owned the Greek deli down the block. Esme had helped them start their business years ago. She didn’t like how the other shop owners were treating them and had my father say something to each of them. They’ve been thriving ever since.

 

My mother, although the most gracious woman I knew, didn’t mince words when it came to Jessica. She has told me over and over that I’m keeping her from doing something good with her life. She says that Jess is the way she is because it’s an easier life. She isn’t challenged and has no education. Until this very moment, I have always placed the blame on Jessica. Looking at what I have created, in using her the way that I have…..

 

Fuck…

 

It isn’t long before Alice leaves the shop with her cell phone glued to her ear, no doubt telling the inner circle of wives and girlfriends, what she may have seen in there. When I see Jessica finally leave like her ass was on fire, I knew it was time to show my face. Before going inside, I tried to clear my mind thinking only of the things my father told me.

 

My eyes find her first. The strings are back and pulling me toward her. I am so captivated by the way she holds herself. It’s completely crazy that I’m trying this hard to get a moment of her time. The more I talk with her, the more I’m dying. She really isn’t falling for my shit.

 

Then she kicks me square in the balls when she informs me of the girlfriend she thinks I have. Thank god for my mother who told me to go buy her a cup of coffee.

 

We make our way down to Papas as they have mouthwatering pastries to go along with their coffee. Mom does her usual pleasantries and I make sure everything is well in the store. Mr. Papas also informs me of the kids giving him shit when he is attending to his customers. I quickly text Emmett and remind him to get me an idea on these fuckers.

 

“Thanks for earlier.” I smile as Nichole, the oldest daughter brings us our coffee.

 

“Well, I’ve decided that you need help” she responded over the rim of her cup.

 

“You know what mom? If you would have said that yesterday, I would have told you that I could get the girl on my own. After what just happened, I’m going to accept all the help you’re willing to give me.”

 

My mom sat for several minutes, slowly drinking her coffee and taking bites of the variety of pastries on the table.

 

“You know the biggest obstacle I had with your father was his arrogance.”

 

I looked at her questionably as Nichole stopped by our table and refilled our cups.

 

“You carry yourself the same way that he did all of those years ago. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until he showed me his true colors that I even agreed to go out with him.”

 

I leaned forward concentrating on her words. I had heard bits and pieces of the story and usually from my dad when he was bragging to his friends.

 

“It was a late Thursday evening and I had not been feeling well all day, but the girl that worked with me felt even worse and she had gone home early. I counted the cash in the register and placed it in the safe and thought I would stop by Newton’s and grab some seltzer water for my upset stomach. I had just locked the door when I felt cold hands of someone behind me. I didn’t even get a chance to scream when they covered my mouth. However, just as quickly as they were there, they were gone. Your father was standing on the sidewalk with his gun pointed at the guy’s face. I ran to the store and Mr. Newton tried to calm me down. I was a complete wreck until Carlisle came into the store and I flew into his arms. I was so grateful for his help that I decided to thank him and have coffee.”

 

She took a another sip of her coffee before looking into my eyes.

 

“Your father thinks to this day that he wore me down, but the truth is, that I would have never given into him without him coming to my rescue. That cup of coffee turned into a drink at the bar around the corner, that turned into him walking me home and then having one of his guys watch my apartment from then on. The next day he brought me breakfast and was there when I unlocked the shop door. Once I got to know him and saw the amazing man behind the arrogance, I fell in love with him.”

 

Adjusting her chair, she reached over and took my hand.

 

“I don’t want to have something that extreme happen to Bella. I know she is the type of girl that will open a whole new world for you. I’m going to make certain that she’s at as many events as I can possibly arrange so that you can show her the man I raised and not the man-whore you have become.”

 

She informed me that she was planning on using my birthday party to be the kickoff of her plan to have me win Bella. With the way Bella was around my mom, I trusted she would know how best to win her.

 

“Mom, do you want to know the craziest part?”

 

She nodded as she rubbed circles on my knuckles.

 

“That when dad told me I had a year to find someone and be well on the way to marriage. I was honestly pissed about it.”

 

“And now?” She questioned.

 

“I’m actually looking forward to learning more about her. I mean, let’s be honest, she may not be the girl that you and dad think she is. She may have this huge secret that she is hiding…like a husband she’s running from or she’s really a scam artist. But for now, I’m looking forward to this.”

 

I paid the bill and assured Ms. Papas that I would be back. As I turned to leave, I stopped and placed an order to be delivered to the shop in the morning. My mother smiled and whispered to me, “Now you’re thinking with the head on your shoulders.”

 

Bella and Angela were laughing as they worked. I said a warm good bye to everyone before turning back to Bella.

 

“Hey, any chance I can get your number?”

 

Not bothering to stop what she was doing, she answered, “I’ve got lots of numbers Edward, but none of them your girlfriend would care to know.”

 

I was about to respond when simultaneously my mother shook her head and my phone began to ring. It was Emmett and he needed to see me.

 

“I’ll be there in twenty, Emmett.” I said as I ended the call.

 

“Mom…” I leaned over to kiss her goodbye.

 

“Tell your sister if you see her that I will be needing her help with your party.”

 

I agreed and slid on my sunglasses. With a smile on my face I entered my car. Dad may be very smart, but my mother was fucking brilliant.

 

Beta Note: Oh, Edward. *shakes head*

 

A/N:

 

Like many of you, I love Esme, although, I’m loving some strong assed Carlisle as well. I have gotten some concerns that Bella and Edward aren’t together yet. Your right, they aren’t together and won’t be for a little longer. I planned it that way. Fan fiction is covered with stories of the pair seeing each other and falling quickly, I didn’t want to write another story like that, I wanted to give everyone something different to read and enjoy. You will also notice that the battle isn’t between Tanya and Bella, hell, the battle isn’t between anyone except Bella and Edward. Edward is doing a good enough job by himself of making Bella not like him. Will these two ever get together? The answer is simple, yes, but not before some pretty heavy shit goes down. Thank you to everyone who is reading and enjoying.

 

Recap:

 

Edward is an active member of an organized crime family in Chicago. He is used to having women fall at his feet and beg to suck him off. However, Bella moves into the neighborhood and doesn’t give him the time of day. Bella is no stranger to “bad boys,” yet finds herself once again facing one. Both of them are keeping things from the other and in Bella’s case, she is keeping her secrets to herself.

 

  1. Chapter 12

 

Chapter 11

 

EPOV

 

“Hey Emmett, what do you have for me?”

 

Putting the situation with Bella to the side, I had obligations with the family that I had to handle. Having issues in my mother’s neighborhood didn’t rest well with me and having Bella working and living there only made it more of an urgency.

 

“I’ve hot every source we have and it seems that these guys.” He points to the grainy photo tacked to the wall behind him. “Seemed to have come from nowhere. They haven’t made any trouble except on your mom’s street. No arrest matching their descriptions…nothing.”

 

Emmett was not only one of the strongest men I knew, he was also the most resourceful. He could hack into any computer around and pick a lock in less than fifteen seconds, and don’t even get me started on how quick he can get into a car. But he loves puzzle solving and that’s why he’s the guy who does this kind of work for us.

 

“Not to worry boss, they’ll fuck something up and I’ll catch them.”

 

I nodded and took a seat staring at the photos. They had only given two stores trouble, one on each side of my mom’s store. I knew my mom had a few guns hidden around the shop. She was an excellent shot as my father trained her himself. Angela carried a gun that her fiance gave her before he left. What I didn’t know was if Bella knew about guns and if she knew how to use one. It seemed there was just too much I didn’t know about Bella Swan.

 

“There’s something else I need to talk to you about.”

 

The seriousness in his voice caused my mental picture of the brown haired beauty to fade to the back of my mind.

 

“Before you ask, I’m planning to talk to your dad after I talk with you, but being how you and I go back to diapers I felt it more important to talk with you first.”

 

When Emmett and I were little, our mothers were really close and our fathers hung around each other, I guess you could say. Emmett’s dad wanted to work with my dad, but he didn’t have the temperament for it. My dad would give him an odd job every now and then when money got tight. My mom kept Emmett more nights than he was with his parents. He was barely four when his parents were found dead in their apartment. Seems his mother had decided to stop earning money the way his father wanted her to. He shot her three times in the chest before turning the gun on himself. His words, however, caused me to begin thinking crazy thoughts. Was he going to tell me he wanted to leave the family? Emmett knew there was only one way to do that, a huge price to pay.

 

“See…I ran into your sister a few weeks ago.” Lowering his eyes and shifting from one foot to the other. I raised my eyebrow, but allowed him to continue, keeping my face stoic.

 

“I haven’t touched her, I swear to god.” His hands came up in a defensive stance. “But I did ask her out. She won’t agree until I talk with her father. We have fought off feelings for one another for several years and we are both just too tired to fight them anymore.”

 

Another thing about Emmett I liked, was his honesty. Even if the truth could get him killed, he was willing to tell it.

 

I adjusted my position in my chair, leaning forward so that my face was close to his, “I won’t give you the song and dance about hurting her, cause you already know what will happen, but I will say good luck.”

 

Emmett smiled and then stood up completely. “Thanks boss, but it’s her quirks that I love the most.”

 

Rose is my younger sister. She was born not long after my dad married Esme. I take full responsibility for how she is now; those quirks that Emmett was referring to. Even being her big brother, I will fully admit that she is beautiful. However, you try and get her to put any amount of makeup on and you will have a fight on your hands. She keeps her hair pulled back in a ponytail tucked in the strap of her ball cap. She prefers to change the oil on a car then to shop for clothes any day of the week. She’s smart as fuck with her MBA from Oxford that she uses to run her shop that she bought with money she earned by working when she was younger. Dad tried to give her money when she graduated, but she smiled and turned him down. If she had her mind set on being with Emmett, there wasn’t a lot I could say to change her mind. She may take my warning and chew on it a while, but in the end, she would have Emmett on her terms. That got me to thinking….

 

“Emmett, what do you get a girl who doesn’t like flowers?”

 

I was so pathetic. I had never had to work at getting a girl to look at me, much less into bed. Hell, I’ve had girls, who I didn’t even know their real names, fawn over me and tossed cab fare at them while shoving them out the door into the cold night. Now, here I was trying to impress a girl who was making it quite obvious that who I was, wasn’t impressive.

 

“No clue man…what does she like?”

 

How fucking simple was that answer. What does she like? How the fuck do I know…?

 

“Ok….wrong question. What do you want her to know about you? I mean you have girls crawling over each other to get to you…why?”

 

Emmett’s face turned blank, then his eyes crinkled at the corners, while a smile began to take homage on his face. His laughter erupted as he pointed at me, while the other held in his stomach as he roared with laughter.

 

“I’m so glad I fucking amuse you…fucking douche.”

 

Kicking his desk with my shoe made him hold up his hands in a defensive jester. “I mean no disrespect, boss. I can only think of two things that would cause this question of yours. One, your dad finally laid down the gauntlet and you have to settle down, or you finally found the girl that peaks more than just your need to get off.”

 

Flipping him off, I felt my phone vibrate in my jacket pocket. Quickly checking, it was Jessica…fucking leech.

 

“Let me ask you…what do you want her to know about you? I mean besides the obvious…”

 

Emmett was on to something. Ignoring Jessica’s text that she had something waiting for me. I placed a call to my dad’s secretary. After listening to the silence that my question caused her, she said she knew just the thing. She advised me she was going to send Ms. Swan something that represented what I held important outside of the family.

 

Looking back, I should have sent her flowers.

 

Beta Note:

 

That’s what you get Edward…For whoring around, especially with your Daddy’s secretary.

 

A/N:

 

(shakes head at Edward) I can mentally picture the two of them conjuring up what to get Bella. Since I wrote the story, you will be in stitches when you find out what is delivered. Don’t forget that we have a facebook page that has photos that represent each chapter. I welcome you to stop by and tell me what you think. groups/434894866569951/

 

And you can follow mine and Cayce’s lovely banter. There have been times where it has been quite raunchy.

 

Recap….

 

Ok, so I’m still laughing, because I just find Edward to be funny. He is such a cocky bastard and now he’s in this situation where he doesn’t know the difference between crap and crisco. He really believes he can flash her a smile and she would swoon and just hand over her panties. Bella seems to blend well into the shadows, yet her talent keeps her from doing so.

 

  1. Chapter 13

 

Chapter 12

 

BPOV

 

I want you to see the real me.

 

The card was computer generated. Esme and I had agreed that cards like the one that resided between my thumb and index finger was not something that showed heart. Every card that went out of this shop was hand written on scented stationary.

 

Edward wanted me to see that the real him belonged in a hotel. How appropriate, however, I didn’t need a “Taste of Chicago” gift basket to tell me that Edward was a man about town, so to speak. The handcuffs and whipping clog glistened in the overhead lights. The endless amounts of DVD cases that highlighted just about every sexual taste out there. Not to mention the amount of lotions and toys that sat proudly at the rim of the bamboo weave.

 

“Please tell me that isn’t from my son?”

 

Esme and Angela both had looks of horror on their faces from the second the delivery guy placed the ostentatious looking article on the counter. The second I unwrapped the bow, the ghastly smell of expired potpourri filled the room. I quickly closed the wrapping as fast I could.

 

“Fraid so.” I replied as I shoved the basket away. That smell was beginning to sting the inside of my nose. Esme was white as a sheet as she took the basket to the back of the building. Angela was trying and failing to keep her laughter inside.

 

“Please Ang don’t break something inside…let it out.”

 

Not even a second passed before Angela was on the floor, her face was nearly purple with her laughter. Esme was on her phone speaking in a language that I didn’t understand and I was on the verge of tears. I couldn’t understand why he felt the need to send such a gift that boldly said he wanted to screw me in every hotel that Chicago housed. The fact that he knew his mother would see such a thing.

 

“There were cock rings, Carlisle!” Esme shouted into the phone in perfect English then went back to using the other language, I had no clue how to decipher, along with tossing her arms into the air and releasing an exasperating breath.

 

“Fine…I love you too.”

 

The room was almost completely quiet minus the hum of the cooler. I looked at my watch on my wrist and closed my eyes when I seen I had hours left before closing. I had most of the day left to live in this humiliation. What had I done to him to make him seem to hate me so much? It was obvious he wasn’t lacking in female attention. He had a fucking girlfriend for Christ sake. It was clear to me now that he had no boundaries when it came to relationships. He would be shit-out-of-luck when I wasn’t one of those girls who just tossed off her clothes and jumped on his dick.

 

“Bella…honey. It isn’t what we think.”

 

My head shot up forgetting Esme was in the room. Tears were now begging to be released and I did my best to hold them back. She was mumbling something I couldn’t quite make out with her hands firmly on her hips as she slowly began to turn around. Angela had made a quick escape I had also failed to notice.

 

“My son is a good man Bella. I know that it doesn’t seem that way at this precious moment, but it’s the truth.”

 

I swallowed several times trying everything I had in me not to tell her to take this job and shove it, taking her sexual deviant son with it. All I wanted was to start a new life, one that I didn’t have to continue to look over my shoulder and worry about what shit Jared had gotten himself into. I had convinced myself that when his coffin closed, so did the trouble he created. What I didn’t consider is that with every man who takes a breath has his own set of shit he brings.

 

“He trusted someone to do something and by a terrible twist….” Esme’s words were cut short as she began to laugh. Her entire body convulsing with the effects that her emotion invoked. My sadness quickly turned to rage as she continued to laugh at me. When she turned around her mascara was slightly smeared under her eye, however, her eyes widened when she realized that I didn’t find anything funny about this situation. Her hands quickly coming up as she rushed over to me.

 

“Sweetheart….he asked my husband’s secretary to send you something that would show you something he loves outside of the family. She has a niece that makes all types of baskets and when Shelly called her, Nicole took it to the extreme. I think he may have had a brief relationship with her that didn’t pan out.”

 

I pulled away from her embrace and moved over to the casket spray I was working on earlier. I remembered working on the one that rested on top of Jared’s. I took great pleasure and relief when I made that one. With each flower I placed in the form, a gob of spit joined it. I coughed and coughed and dug deep into my lungs as I built that spray. I assigned a particular hurt with each stem, every leaf carrying my distain for the man they would cover.

 

“You mean he fucked her then tossed her?”

 

Esme lowered her head, but quickly looked at me. I expected her to slap me or yell at me for saying something so disrespectful, but she didn’t, she only tried to smile and reached out to rub my back.

 

“Whoever he is, he can’t hurt you, ya know?”

 

My hands froze midair as my eyes flew to hers. Did she know about me? Would she fire me before I could quit because I had been involved with a criminal?

 

“Oh, don’t look so scared. We all have a past, sweet Bella. Hell, these days you can’t have your first period and not have some sort of demon follow you to the grave.”

 

My body relaxed with relief. I just knew she didn’t have a clue about what had happened. My hands automatically started placing stems into the foam. Working here had shown me that every town and every family had secrets they kept. It helped me to feel better about withholding the secrets I had.

 

I quickly learned that this shop sends out more funeral sprays in a week then I had made in the four years I worked in Forks. Several of our clients even had standing orders for flowers. One particular man, James Hunter, sent fifteen bouquets out every week. Fourteen of them were red roses, copies of each other. They carried the same message, but to different women. The final one was always daises and a young guy always picked them up in person. Even Carlisle had a bouquet delivered to who I now know is his secretary. Hell, the only person who didn’t have flowers on auto was Edward. But it seemed he didn’t need to have that as he didn’t have a conscious when it came to women. He did send that first bouquet, but he must have really screwed up….probably couldn’t keep it up that particular night.

 

A loud screech of tires caused me to look up and out the window. A slick black car had slid into a parking spot and the driver tossed the keys to the kid that worked at the Greek deli. He pulled his shades off and I quickly recognized him to be Edward. His stride was quick and determined, not calculated and cocky, as his usual MO required. He was flustered because it took several attempts to even get his hands on the door handle. Once inside he quickly scanned the room looking for something in earnest.

 

“Mom…where is it?” He practically shouted, panic and fear coating his words.

 

“It’s in the trash where it belongs.” Esme’s firm, motherly voice responded; causing my back to straighten just a little.

 

He stood in front of me, looking directly at me with his hands safely inside his pants pocket.

 

This was a new look for him…not a good one, but new none the less. Edward was a man who was always in control, everything about him told me that. However, the man that stood in the middle of the ferns and flowers was completely out of control and had no handle on anything going on inside of him. He was drifting and by the look in his eyes, begging for a life ring.

 

“Bella….” My name coming from his lips did strange things to me. Things I feared and wanted at the same time. Edward was a handsome man to look at, I had no issue with that, but it was when you got past the killer eyes and manly features that the real issues began.

 

“I…” his thoughts were clearly jostled in his mind. He was in uncharted waters for himself. If I was his typical type of girl, I would swear he was in love, but I wasn’t and therefore he wasn’t either.

 

“That gift that I sent to you was an accident.” His voice echoed his frustration and it was nice to see his flaw.

 

“I should have taken a few minutes and found out what types of things you liked. Instead, I deduced that it would be ridiculous of me to send you flowers with you working with them all day. I’m…”

 

The room became thick with tension. I thought of a thousand things he could be struggling to say. I glanced over at Esme who was waiting with an abundance of anticipation that I didn’t understand.

 

“…I’m sorry.”

 

Something deep inside of me screamed that this was a big moment in Edward’s life. The gasp of air that Esme took was physical confirmation that I was right. Edward Cullen saying those words to anyone was less likely to happen then for a unicorn to come racing down a city block.

 

“P-pl-please let me make it up to you…le-let me buy you a cup of coffee or tea or coke, whatever you drink.”

 

Esme must have felt the need to join Angela in the mystery room that seemed to gobble people up into thin air because she wasn’t in the room anymore. Yes, Edward was a handsome man, a man who was used to snapping his fingers and things just fell into place, however, he was the son of my employer, and at this point in my world, I couldn’t do anything to jeopardize that relationship. Not until I had a backup plan.

 

“Mr. Cullen, have you ever heard the term, ‘never shit where you eat’?” My voice was trembling. My confidence that I felt was not making it to my voice.

 

“Yes, Bella, I’m very familiar with that term.” His cockiness had returned in full force, so it made my thoughts much easier to deliver.

 

“Then you will understand why I must decline. I’m an employee of your mother’s, and with my dependence on the income that it provides me, it would be foolish for me to establish a relationship with you.”

 

“Bella?” Esme calling my name startled me.

 

“Edward, would you mind if I spoke with Bella in private?”

 

The look of confusion he had on his face was a carbon copy of the look I knew I had. This was completely inappropriate and she had to back me on this. She held her hand out for me and I knew this wasn’t a question as much as a direct order. I excused myself and followed her to the cooler.

 

It’s funny how things that make us grounded and comfortable have a way of betraying us. The smell of flowers and the cooler used to do just that, but in this moment, a moment that I knew would change everything about me, they offered me no comfort.

 

“Bella….I need a favor.”

 

Beta Note:

 

If there are any grammar or punctuation mistakes, they’re mine, but please let us know so they can be fixed. Enjoy!

 

A/N

 

Yes…it is what you think it is.

 

I’m starting to like our stumbling-tough-assed Edward. He is seriously flying blind here. Poor Bella doesn’t know if she should shit or go blind. But as always, I love Esme.

 

So…..

 

We have Edward, who is at least trying, to change his ways…kinda. Bella, who just wants to live her life and be happy. Esme, who wants these two together and Carlisle who …well you have to pay attention to that sneaky bastard…he knows more than you think.

 

  1. Chapter 14

 

Chapter 13

 

BPOV

 

“Bella, I’m sorry I was ease dropping, but he is my son and I just couldn’t stand back and let him screw this up.”

 

I could suddenly feel the chill of the cool air of the metal room we were standing in. I was at a disadvantage, because I didn’t want to be rude and tell her to mind her own business. I had a real reason for staying here, at least, for the foreseeable future.

 

“It’s no secret that my son has a certain popularity with the female population here in Chicago, but…”

 

I couldn’t help myself for interjecting, “And has a girlfriend.”

 

The word seemed to change gears in Esme’s thought process and her tone began to change.

 

“Ah…Jessica.”

 

This surprised me. She didn’t have a simple phrase to say or not defend the poor girl, however, now that I think about it, she wasn’t exactly pleasant to her the last time she visited the shop.

 

“Jessica is more of a ….”

 

Just like her son, the words seemed unreachable.

 

“…convenience. She’s there for him when he needs her to be. Although, a girlfriend would mean a relationship with feelings would have to exist and I can tell you with complete certainty that he doesn’t care for her whatsoever.”

 

In some crazy world, this admission Esme had just shared with me should have been this huge crane that she had hired to lift the tension in the room, but the drive took a wrong turn and failed to even show up.

 

“So…you’re saying that she and Edward are….what’s the word?” Closing my eyes, I tried to rid myself of the reality that seemed to be crushing me taking my ability to think rationally with it.

 

“Friends with benefits.”

 

Her face free of dishonesty as she retorted, “It would if they were friends. They have a….

 

arrangement.”

 

I didn’t need to hear anymore. I’ve never understood how women could put themselves in that type of situation. I could never treat sex as something so meaningless and casual. The confirmation that Edward did, only made my decision easier.

 

“Listen, I’m not going to even try and convince you that my son isn’t a skirt chaser. I live in the real world and I know how my son is. I also know that recent events have placed a new light on how my son looks at the world around him.”

 

As disrespectful as it was, I rolled my eyes opening the door and walking out. I had work to do. It was the reason I was hired and I wanted to forget this day had even happened.

 

“I know you don’t care for Edward, but I know you care about me.” Esme’s voice called after me. She had the ability to make me want to give into her; make her happy. I wonder if she had this effect on Carlisle, or on all of the people in her life.

 

“I’m throwing a party for Edward’s birthday. I want you there. For me…Bella.”

 

That night after I closed the shop and made my way upstairs to my home, I couldn’t stop

 

wondering what was going on behind Esme’s carefully spoken words. Why was it so important for me to be at his birthday party? Did she think that he would turn into this amazingly, charming man at the stroke of midnight and he would sweep in and rescue me from the demons that Esme spoke of. Did she honestly think I wanted or needed to be rescued?

 

I sat beside my window, the lights from the street illuminating what appeared to be a calm and sleeping city. It was an illusion of course, and I knew this. The perfectly manicured grass that circled the massive oak trees lining the street. The couple of alley cats that searched for a stitch of food, Mr. Newton never disappointing them and leaving two cans of tuna in his entry stoop. The small amount of light that came glistening out of each store, giving just a hue of false security. Even the cracks in the side walk held secrets.

 

I continued to sit beside that window watching one by one, each street light turn off, as the sun made its grand appearance. Food held no desire for me as I quickly changed my clothes and headed down to the shop to get to work. Edward’s party was to be no small affair with balloons and clowns. This birthday party was more like a small wedding and I had agreed to be a guest. I had, however, refused Edward’s insistence that he pick me up. Even with Esme’s words that they weren’t together, I didn’t feel like getting between him and Jessica. Although, it was right before he left, when he informed me she wasn’t an invited guest. I wondered if that would make any difference to a woman like Jessica.

 

The party was planned to take place at Esme and Carlisle’s home and I wondered just how big this house of theirs was. I had been creating centerpieces since I got here two hours ago and I still had twelve more to go. I guess I can’t blame her, if I owned my own shop…

 

It was like a slap to my face by my own hand. Why was I so worried about keeping my job with Esme and her crazy need to get me and her man-whore son together? I could simply look around for an established shop and purchase it. With a huge smile at my brilliant, although slow at times brain, I hurried to finish with bubbling excitement of the prospects of being my own boss.

 

Angela had come in a very chipper mood this morning explaining that her fiance, Ben, had called her early this morning. Further saying these events were few and far between as he wasn’t

 

usually in cell phone range. She made love seem like something wonderful and worth achieving. But just like the false security of a sleeping city street, happiness was something in story books and daytime television. She had barely tied on her apron when a delivery guy came in with a

 

carafe of coffee and piping hot pastries. Angela nearly had an orgasm when she saw where they came from. The older man handed me a small card and then tipped his hat and left.

 

I asked you to let me buy you a cup of coffee. I never said you had to drink it with me. Please accept my apology and perhaps the next time you enjoy a cup, it can be with me.

 

– Edward

 

In the center of all of the flowers and greenery, I was speechless and confused. A part of me wanted to take him up on that offer, but another part screamed that he wasn’t the type who did this on a regular bases. Just like my coffee, I needed it plain with no muss and no fuss. Edward Cullen was definitely an espresso; hot, strong and addictive.

 

Hours later, I was standing outside the castle that Esme called home. I wondered just what

 

exactly Carlisle did for a living to afford this size and grander of a house. The gate that circled the grounds had four different men guarding it. I didn’t even give my name as I was welcomed four times by said guards. A fifth man stood outside my car door and opened it before I could even reach the handle. Looking around at all of the ladies that was dressed as if they were attending some opera performance, I wanted to feel under dressed, however, I had planned this. To show Edward that I wasn’t the standard arm candy he was used to decorating himself with.

 

I hadn’t even taken two steps inside the foyer when I was enveloped in arms that I knew all too well. Angela was like a kid in a candy store.

 

“I love coming to Esme’s parties…the girl has serious party skills.”

 

I hugged her back and couldn’t help but giggle at her excitement. I wanted to tell her how

 

beautiful she looked in her pale blue dress, but the lights suddenly went out and music started blaring. A large spotlight turned on illuminating the center of the floor that wasn’t even five feet from me. The song was one that I had heard many times before, but I knew this would be the one that took the prize. As Joe Elliott sang the words, “Love me like a bomb,” I heard a very distinct voice behind me.

 

Turning I saw an Esme I had never seen before….a very, very, pissed off one.

 

I wanted to thank everyone who has placed Secrets on their favorites and following lists. Thanks to everyone who is not only reviewing, but for those who just hit the next button and keep reading. Thank you to my beta, Kim, who smacks me around and tells me when things are crazy and when things don’t make a lick of sense. Also for encouraging me to write, when others have told me not to.

 

Beta Note: Any mistakes are mine, so please let us know if you see something that doesn’t mesh and Cayce says I smack her around? She’s the slave driver. LOL

 

Recap…..

 

Let’s see. Edward started off as a complete jerk. He didn’t give a shit about the women around him with the exception of his mother. He had no real excuse for this, just did. Bella was given a “golden ticket”, if you will, when the man who she planned to marry was killed. Don’t forget that she cared nothing for Jared as he didn’t even give her an opportunity to say yes or no. Now, we have Edward who is literally blown away by Bella and her clear distain for him. Poor Eddie tried to be a gentleman and send the girl of his intent a lovely gift. Too bad he used someone he used to sleep with to do it. Now we have Bella, who really won’t stand a chance against a very determined Esme.

 

  1. Chapter 15

 

Chapter 15

 

EPOV

 

The clock on the blue ray player mocked me making time seem to stand still. Nothing I enjoyed in the past seemed to make me happy anymore. On my way home tonight, I almost turned around and headed over to Tanya’s house only to be stopped by the voice in my head telling me that Bella wouldn’t approve if she ever found out. Why the fuck did I even care if Bella knew about that side of me? The side that constantly craved sex. The side that at least, used to crave it. In the past few weeks, I’ve let one of the guys take the normal delivery over to Tanya’s. That hadn’t happened…well ever.

 

“Hey man, all you got is one more bottle of Jack left. Do you want me to send for more?”

 

Once I decided against visiting Tanya, I called my friend Jasper and asked him to meet me at my house. Jasper worked for the family, but he was as close to me as Emmett was. He did a tour in the Army, but something happened and he got out a few years ago. He had come by one of the strip clubs we owned and broke up a fight that had gotten out of control. I watched from my office as he single handedly took on four guys like they were rag dolls. Once the fight was over, I told one of my guys to bring him up. I had Emmett do a background and had his entire life history before he even hit the stairs. He told me he was looking for a job, but due to the way he left the military, no one would hire him. I gave him a couple of test deliveries and a year later he was in my inner circle. He’s one of the few men on the payroll who doesn’t call me boss or agree with everything I say.

 

“No, one bottle ought to numb things.”

 

Jasper sat down on the chair opposite me. He didn’t badger me for why I invited him over, he had almost a sixth sense about him. Like he could read people from the inside; knew what they were feeling.

 

“I don’t get it!” I shouted, tossing the remote that was on the cushion beside me. I had no fucking clue what it controlled.

 

“I told her I was sorry, which I never fucking do, by the way!” I quickly added the second half…completely unclear why I felt the need to.

 

“She still looked at me like I was some villain out to kidnap her and tie her to the train tracks.” Where that came from, I have no fucking clue.

 

“Maybe you are.” Jasper said while opening the bottle of Jack and pouring two glasses full. He pushed the second glass in my direction taking the other and leaning back into his seat.

 

“What the fuc…”

 

He cleared his throat returning his glass to the table. “This is a girl, I’m assuming, since you did say she?”

 

I nodded my head then let it drop to the back of the couch.

 

“Then this girl that you are referring to, maybe she doesn’t know how to react to you. I mean, by the way you’re talking, you’re thinking she knows all about you. Maybe she hasn’t a clue about you and feels like, when you turn on the charm, that you’re famous for it and do it to all the women. In fact, she probably does feel like you’re a villain and the train is headed her way.”

 

Jasper gave me a new perspective to think about, and then as the norm, gave me silence to absorb it. Again the clock mocked me wishing it was time to see her again. This girl had me so twisted I didn’t know which way to go.

 

“Did you ever consider for a second that she is the perfect girl for you?”

 

That sentence was on repeat all night. Even when I took matters into my own hand in the shower before I went to bed that night…another thing I hadn’t done since I was in high school…Bella Swan was fucking me up.

 

Early the next morning, I called the pastry shop not far from my mother’s shop. I spoke with the owner and with my family name thrown in the conversation, I had a variety of pastries and hot coffee on its way to Bella. My mother had called me shortly after and reported that she could see a slight change in Bella’s face. She gave me hope that I was slowly making a crack in the wall standing between us. For the first time, I felt hopeful that I stood a small chance in changing her mind about me.

 

When Esme first started planning this party, she told me she would not be sending Jessica an invite. She mixed no words in her dislike for Jessica. She told my father that enough greedy gold-sucking-bitches would show up and cause the room to be monitored by metal detectors. She had her staff remove anything that wasn’t nailed down and rented silverware and crystal. It was a harsh reality in our world that some could not be trusted.

 

My dad reminded me that I would need to show control as Alex Volturi had returned his RSVP and would be in attendance. Alex was the leader of another family that had for years wanted to partner up with us. Rumors floated around that he was broke and needed a new alliance. He was crazy if he thought for one second he would ever be invited to join this family.

 

When I arrived at my parent’s home, I took a few minutes in my old room to make certain I had my self in control. I wanted Bella to see the kind of good guy that I had the potential to be, not that I wanted to be good all the time, but the potential was there. Maybe if she saw a few good things, the bad would fade away.

 

Making my way to my father’s study, I seen car after car come through the gate. It had pissed me off when Bella refused to let me pick her up and bring her here with me tonight. Esme told me that maybe if I played my cards right, I could escort her home. I was counting on the only ace I had in my hand tonight.

 

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Ben, Angela’s fiance. When Ben told Angela he had to ship out to Afghanistan, I took him aside and assured him that the family would look out for her. I gave him my word that I would keep her safe. He called to tell me that he had some unexpected leave come his way. He wanted to have a chance to see Angela, but the ticket was too much. I told him not to worry about it, that I would see that he was here for a few days. He thanked me and the plan was set in motion.

 

Angela was like a second little sister to me. She gave my mother so much joy that it seemed only right to give her some back. Only two people knew about Ben’s surprise visit; myself and Ben. I had even disguised him as one of the waiters so my mom wouldn’t see him. He was currently taking a long hot shower in the guest house. I would send one of the guys to get him when the time was right.

 

I had just seen Bella getting out of the car when several of the guys came into the room and informed me they had something for me. By the look on each of their faces, this wasn’t going to end well. I was pulled down the stairs and just when I saw Bella standing beside a beautifully dressed Angela, the lights went out.

 

It didn’t go unnoticed that she wasn’t overly done up. Most of the women at this party would spend a small fortune on the dress they wore; always trying to out due the wife next to them. As the spotlight came on, and the music blared, all hopes of escorting Bella went right out of the window.

 

Hell, at this point, I would be lucky if she didn’t disappear into the night after this.

 

Recap….

 

Okay, I have been laughing so hard at our dear, poor, Edward. Crazy how Bella has turned him on his ear by simply ignoring him. Can’t say that I would find it as easy as she does, I mean the turning him completely down. However, I’ve never knowingly been involved with a member of organized crime, so I can’t really relate. I can say, it’s going to get interesting to see if Bella can continue to ignore him.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 16

 

Chapter 15

 

BPOV

 

“I will kill them.” Esme’s words were crystal clear despite the volume of the music.

 

She was upset, and rightly so, for there in all of her glory, was a very naked Jessica dancing in the middle of a fake birthday cake. She didn’t even have the decency to wear something to cover her nipples. She twisted and turned her head, her shiny locks dancing to the beat. Men stood with mouths open and eyes wide, adjusting parts in their southern regions. While wives stood with bubbly drinks clinched in their hands as their husbands showed no respect for them by not turning away. Not a single one of them did anything to stop her, only cheering louder as she continued to dance provocatively.

 

She almost seemed proud to show the room her naked form or perhaps she had some chemical courage. Whatever the circumstances, this was upsetting the hostess and had to be stopped. I looked around and found an afghan tossed across the back of a chase lounge. I quickly grabbed it and ran over to the still dancing Jessica. She tried to protest and I challenged the two men who were throwing money at her to stop me.

 

“You’re pissing off Esme.” I told her in a heated whisper.

 

It was clearly the magic phrase, because she quit fighting me and allowed me to help her off the platform and out of the room. The music suddenly stopped and the lights came back on. I wrapped my arms around her and headed to the nearest closed door that turned out to be a small bathroom. I locked the door behind us, closed my eyes and took in a deep breath. I could hear Esme shouting at someone to clean up this mess and demanding to know who was responsible.

 

“You think you’re so much better than me.”

 

Her statement threw me off guard. I had just rescued her from the wrath of a very pissed off Esme, and this is how she thanks me.

 

“What?” I questioned, my voice cracking from the shock.

 

“Just because everyone loves you and wants you to be with him, doesn’t change what I am to him.”

 

Taking in her now shaking form, I was certain it was from the coldness of this bathroom. Glancing around, I noticed another door that lead to a bedroom. I quickly opened the door and motioned for her to follow me. Surprisingly, her clothes were sitting on top of the dresser. She dropped the blanket and started to get dressed. I turned my back to give her privacy.

 

“He will be in my bed the second he figures out you’re a frigid bitch.”

 

I could care less what she had to say or feel about me. At the end of the day, it changed nothing in my world. However, it was clear that she knew something that I didn’t, another secret that was being kept. I wanted to know what this one was.

 

“What exactly are you talking about?” I asked her.

 

Sitting on the bed, she buckled the high heeled shoe on her left foot. She was a fast dresser and I was grateful not to have her bare vagina on display anymore. I sat in the chair that was next to the bathroom. Jessica was an absolutely beautiful girl and could have her pick of men to love her. Why she chose to be the way that she is was beyond me. Maybe she didn’t know any different; know that there are other choices for her out there.

 

“I tried to tell him over and over that I could be what he needed, but I already knew it was pointless. He has to marry a respectable woman, one that his family would approve of. No amount of soap and makeup can make me a lady.”

 

I watched as she applied her lips stick in the mirror. She was very precise with the swipe of the red stick. She was an artist with that makeup. She certainly had a future if she tried. Makeup artists were hot commodities in the professional world. Movie studios didn’t care if you earned a few dollars on a pole or on your back as long as their actor looked good on camera.

 

“But don’t think for a second that I won’t be waiting for him in that bed he pays for. That I won’t do everything to him that you refuse or he refuses to do to you. You may have his ring and his name, but I will have his deepest desires, his fantasies come true…any time he wants. And there isn’t anything you can do about it.”

 

I wanted to shake her. Ask her if she could really accept being something that Edward would use for his own pleasure. But then it hit me…

 

“Jessica….you say that I’m the one the family has chosen; that Edward has to marry a lady. Why?…Why can’t he marry whom he chooses? I mean he must care about you if he gives you a place to live.”

 

I was counting on Jessica still being stirred up and having a loose tongue. I may not want to be a part of this game, but I certainly wanted to know who was playing.

 

She looked at me then rolled her eyes before taking out another brush and starting to coat mascara on her already long lashes.

 

“Like you don’t already know the answer to that.”

 

“Enlighten me. If you’re going to accuse me of all of these things, I should know the entire story.”

 

Being with Jared, I had learned the fine art of asking the correct questions to get the information you need; leaving them thinking they haven’t told you the secret they were keeping. Sometimes what you learned, you wished you could give back. The truth, however, wasn’t a gift you could return.

 

“He has to have a wife or at least be heading in that direction. His uncle told me that his parents suggested you.”

 

I was startled by the term, “Uncle?” I questioned.

 

She shook her head while twisting a curl around her finger before spraying it with something. Her smile giving her away…she had even deeper secrets than anyone knew about.

 

“I learned a long time ago that you don’t ever keep all your eggs in one basket. Edward can toss me into the streets anytime he sees fit. I keep my options open. His uncle Aro is a good…friend, with an open wallet for me.”

 

It was clear that Jessica wasn’t as stupid as I had pegged her for. She knew how to play the men in her world to her advantage. I suspected that Edward had no idea she was making the rounds so to speak.

 

“Anyway, Esme hates me and I know she’s the one who poisoned him against me. She wants this perfect family to surround her Sunday dinner table. Aro tells me some bullshit about not having to look across the table at a guy who knows what your wife’s snatch looks like, but that’s pretty much impossible in this circle.”

 

I was stunned into silence. I knew that several of the men that came into the shop had a number of women they knew, but this seemed to be taking that to an entire new level. Was this a family of wife sharing? If so, why was Esme so upset about Jessica? It would seem that being the way she was would work perfectly into that life style.

 

“So, let me see if I have this straight.” I crossed my arms over my chest and looked at her reflection in the mirror. “You and Edward are together.”

 

Her face dropped as she picked up her hair brush and ran it smoothly through her hair.

 

“No, we aren’t…together.”

 

I twisted my face in confusion, but she smiled quickly as she corrected me.

 

“We have an arrangement. He gives me what I need and I give him what he needs.”

 

Taking in a deep breath as she clarified my inaccuracy, although, she made it sound so much worse.

 

“Sorry…you and Edward have an arrangement. He understands that you have a similar arrangement with several of his friends.”

 

Her eyes became wide, her brush fell to the floor, and she quickly spun around crossing the room standing before me.

 

“No! No, no. You can never tell Edward about his uncle.” Her voice was frantic and her face was full of fear.

 

She reached out and took my hand in hers and I noticed she was trembling.

 

“Please Bella, I know you don’t like me, but please don’t tell.”

 

The desperation in her voice was enough to scare me. For whatever reason, she needed my help; I could give her that.

 

“Of course. And for the record, I don’t know you enough to not like you.” I patted her cold trembling hand. There was more to this fear then she was willing to share and I knew if I found out the tale behind it, my life would change forever.

 

“Thank you.” She whispered. Turning she went back over to the mirror.

 

“Again, you have arrangements. Edward has to marry to please his parents. He has not chosen you and the family is encouraging him to pursue me. Anything I’m forgetting?”

 

Jessica nodded her head with each point I crossed off. Tilting my head, I thought about how to word my last thought, so she would have a clearer picture of how I felt in all of this.

 

“Jessica, there is only one thing you’re forgetting in all of this, well actually, everyone is forgetting.”

 

She looked puzzled while placing both her hands on the dresser and looked at me.

 

“I have no desire to be a part of all of this.”

 

Beta Note:

 

So, Bella thinks she was chosen for Edward to marry, when actually, he wants to get to know her; doesn’t have anything to do with being chosen. I think Jessica is running her mouth….Oh I can see the cluster f*** that’s going to happen. *shakes head*…Kim

 

Recap….

 

I can’t help it, I really feel sorry for Edward. There is simply no way he knew about this. Listening to Jessica tell her side of the story made me feel just a little compassion for her. Clearly she is a product of her environment.

 

So, what do we have at this point? Well, besides an extremely pissed off Esme, we have one Bella Swan who wants to just be happy and live her dream. One Edward Cullen, who in a short amount of time, has completely had his entire world turned around by a pair of brown eyes. Overwhelmingly everyone loves Esme, who seems to really be running the show. However, I would seriously keep my eyes on Carlisle.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 17

 

Chapter 16

 

BPOV

 

“Are you out of your mind?” Jessica shouted at me, turning around quickly with her hair whipping around her head.

 

“Do you have any idea what that man can offer you? Can you not see what you would miss out on? I mean, look at this house and tell me that you would pass on being the envy on every woman in that room?” She screeched as she pointed to the wall behind me.

 

“Can you really not see the amount of security he could provide you? The vacations and the clothes? The car you would drive and the time you would have on your hands? Your children would have the best education and you would have endless access to all of his money?”

 

Jessica just threw her hands in the air hopelessly when I wouldn’t argue back with her. She was serious in her rant about all the things she couldn’t believe I would willingly give up. I waited patiently while she attempted to catch her breath, calm down to a level where she could understand my words.

 

“Is that what you want from him? From the relationship I mean. Vacations and money and…material things?”

 

Waving her back and forth and resumed her grooming. “What else is there…isn’t that more than enough?”

 

She hadn’t given this enough thought, or as it seemed, concentrated on the wrong things. I was about to give her something to think about.

 

“Although, those things are nice. Money is something I can provide for myself. I can buy my own clothes, and if I wanted a car, I would go out and buy one. As for this house and the furnishing, they are nice, but in the end…they are just things. And if the ladies out in that room don’t care for me as I am, then I have no use for them. I learned a long time ago, that the one person you can truly count on is yourself. I make my own decisions and provide my own way. I never need to rely on someone to look favorably on me to keep me around; use me for their pleasure.”

 

She didn’t even blink as she was clearly taking in what I was saying. Maybe, just maybe, she could see things in a new light. It was never too late to turn things around.

 

“But in all of those things you just shared with me, you never once mentioned the one that would be the most important to me.”

 

I stood up and made my way to the door to leave. I would rejoin the party out there and make certain Esme had cooled off. I wondered if he even knew she was going to do this in the first place.

 

“You never mentioned being in love. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my time on earth with a man who didn’t love me. Because to me, all of those things are pointless if you’re crying yourself to sleep at night. Now, I’m going out there and making sure the coast is clear for you. I would sneak out the back as quickly as you could if I were you.”

 

Turning to leave, Jessica called my name.

 

“Bella?”

 

Looking over my shoulder, I answered, “Yes?”

 

Her hair brush was still in her hand while she gathered her large purse and started walking in my direction.

 

“For the record, they paid me a thousand dollars to pop out of that cake.”

 

I nodded my head in understanding. I wouldn’t have done it for all the money in the world, but that was only one of the differences between Jessica and me.

 

Once I gave Jessica the all clear, she hugged me and actually thanked me.

 

“You gave me something to really think about.” Hugging her back I wished her good luck. I honestly hoped she was on the path to a new life, only time would really tell.

 

I noticed Angela talking with three very beautiful women and decided to catch up with her later. I had just rounded the corner when a very tall and very blonde woman blocked my path.

 

“Hello, I’m Rose, Edward’s sister.” Her hand was out requesting I offer her mine in return.

 

“Care to take a walk with me?” She requested pulling my hand instead of shaking it.

 

We walked by a number of people while heading further into the enormous house. I felt like I was being invited into the heart of the home. I watched in awe while men moved completely to the side so that we could pass. Rose always said hello to each person we passed. She made it a point to welcome several women who had managed to get her attention. She, like her mother, was graceful and kind. I actually felt slightly guilty for thinking Esme could be involved with wife sharing. Jessica had led my mind to a place it had no business venturing. Once we reached a room that overlooked what I thought to be a garden, Rose stopped in the center of the room with her hands clasped in front of her. A man that was standing off to the side, instructed everyone to leave the room. Once the glass French doors were closed, Rose started speaking.

 

“I’m sorry for listening to your conversation with Jessica, but I was getting ready in the next room and couldn’t help but hear.” I’m sure my face showed the panic I felt as she knew the truth that Jessica had confided in me.

 

“Don’t worry Bella. I have known for some time that Uncle Aro has been tapping her ass. My brother is a big boy and if he wants to stick his dick in a hundred contaminated pussies then so be it. The problem I have with Jessica, and honestly the majority of the women we passed on the way in here, is they are out for themselves. She is willing to do anything she can to get on top. I agree with my mom and dad that you are perfect for Edward.”

 

I lowered my head and closed my eyes as she spoke the latter. I was honestly sick of this song and dance. Edward wasn’t the type of man that I went for. I needed honesty in my life, more than money and material things.

 

“Bella, please hear me out before you get upset and leave.”

 

Her words surprised me because that was exactly what I was about to do. I had always been told I had a hard to read face, but it would seem Miss Rosalie was immune to my gift.

 

“When I graduated college, my father offered to set me up in whatever business I wanted. Mom, of course, wanted me to settle down, get married, and have children. I wanted to make something of myself on my own. I could have taken daddy’s money, sat back and lived comfortably, but I wanted to feel good about myself at the end of the day. Just like you, I only wanted to rely on myself. Until recently, I’ve denied myself even a steady relationship with the man I’ve been in love with since I was old enough to appreciate the male species.”

 

She was a blonde version of me, minus the desire to have a relationship. And honestly, we were the same there as well. I mean, if you have to be truthful with anyone, it damn sure better be yourself. I would love to have a man who thought the world of me, to add to what I brought to the table and yet be able to stand alone. I just didn’t believe the guy I had in mind existed.

 

“Now, it’s no secret that my brother has appreciated the female species to the fullest. But if I had to have one person in my corner, it would be him. Bella, he is as loyal as they come and even though he has never been in a position to prove he can be committed to a single woman, I believe in my heart that he can.”

 

I walked over to a couch across the room taking one of the pillows and throwing it to the other end to sit down. Rose followed my lead and we were silent for several minutes. When I felt like I had all of my thoughts together, I was ready for her to hear what kind of mind set I had.

 

“You know Rose, this entire night has been one revelation after another.” I huffed in uncertainty.

 

“I came to this party as a good will gesture to your wonderful mother. Within minutes of being here, I was introduced to some very private parts of a woman that I barely know, then to learn that she was basically used by men to exploit their desire; show their friend a good time. Then I get an ear full from said girl and I learned things about people around me that I can never unlearn. Furthermore, during all of this and all of the encouragement toward getting closer to your brother and becoming a part of your family, not one person has asked me a very important question.”

 

She smiled this completely perfect crest smile and it made it difficult to not like her. I wanted to hate her and all of the things I have been exposed to since I walked in those doors.

 

“No one, including myself, has bothered to ask what you want.”

 

I only nodded my head yes, as she hit the bull’s eye.

 

“Oh, don’t get me wrong Bella, I have thought of nothing else since my parents first mentioned they had you in their sights. But I also know that my brother objected to the meddling, although, he would never admit it to anyone. I know my brother, and I can tell you that if he wasn’t really interested and let me just reiterate that right now.” She did this crazy swirl with her hand that caused her shoulder to rock back and forth.

 

“…that if he wasn’t interest in getting to know you, his ass would have been in one of his clubs or at the house that you already know he pays for. Instead, he has been holed up in that pile of rubble he calls a house. You may not know me very well and I certainly want that to change, but please, please, look past his history and have a simple drink with the guy.”

 

Rose and I exchanged numbers and she swore she would stop by the shop really soon. She gave me a new angle to look at. One from a person who knew the true Edward. I was finding that he seemed to be a different person to different people. However, it was what I seen in the next room that helped seal my fate.

 

I needed to wish Edward a happy birthday and make certain Esme was ok. I walked back down the hall until I heard Angela’s unmistakable laugh. She was talking to Carlisle and Esme and it would appear that whatever was being said was hilarious. I walked slowly over and joined them.

 

“Oh Bella, I thought for sure the strip show had scared you off.” Carlisle chuckled as he pulled Esme into his side.

 

Even a blind man could see how much they loved each other. Esme was a lucky woman to have a man who clearly adored her. It puzzled me how Edward could have grown up in an environment like this and have the kind of lifestyle he has now.

 

“Oh, it would take slightly more to scare me off.” I chuckled with him.

 

“I’m sorry to interrupt.” The smooth voice of, none other than, Edward came from behind me. I turned in time to see him come and stand between his mother and Angela. He placed his arms around both ladies and Angela leaned into him.

 

“How you doing, love?” He questioned Angela.

 

“I’m good, Edward.” She replied with a sigh. Her sadness was so thick you could feel it. I wished I could bottle it up and throw it away for her.

 

“Listen, I know it’s been a struggle for you with Ben gone, but I have something that might bring a smile to your face.”

 

It was then I noticed the uniformed and very handsome man who was standing close by holding flowers and wearing a killer smile. He crossed the room quickly while Edward grasped Angela’s shoulders and turned her around. I’m fairly certain that a dog in three counties over heard her scream. She was in his arms and the flowers were completely forgotten. Edward bent over to retrieve the delicate petals. Esme had her hand over her mouth and her eyes were over flowing with tears.

 

With the flowers still in hand, he came to stand beside me and we both watched as Angela was wrapped completely around the waist of the young solider.

 

“I take it this is Ben.” I said between giggles.

 

Edward told me the story about helping him come home even though he would have to head back in four short days.

 

“He is a great guy and Ang is like my little sis. I couldn’t not help them.”

 

When I looked into his eyes I saw, for the first time, another side of Edward. A side that didn’t have an agenda and had nothing to win. He did this to make someone in his life happy.

 

This was a side of Edward that I could get very close to.

 

Beta Note:

 

A lot happening in this chapter. For the first time since I have been reading fan fiction, I’m actually hoping for a better life for Jessica. I’ll probably chew on my words later though. ~Kim

 

See I told you Edward would change. Even the toughest man to walk the planet has a soft side for something.

 

I know Rose is different in this fiction. Alice is as well….I just needed a change, some of you agree.

 

Recap:

 

Edward started off as a cold blooded man-whore. Bella was a smart girl who took a chance to start a new life. Now we have two people who have been tossed onto each other worlds. Bella just wanted to have a normal life and Edward is being “forced” to settle down so that he can take over the family. With all of Edward’s attributes, Bella is completely turned off by him. He has stumblingly tried to win her attention only to fail miserably; with the sins of his past. Finally, he is able to show Bella a side of him that not many people get to see. It will be interesting to see what happens when more secrets are revealed between the two.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 18

 

Chapter 17

 

EPOV

 

Was it even possible for my birthday to get any worse? I had to watch as my mother nearly had a heart attack, in part to the naked girl in her foyer, and part to the fact that she knew exactly who was responsible. I was now twenty six and my party was geared toward my age. My mother had spent countless hours making this night special for me. Yet, I stand here and watched the clowns, that I call friends, turn this into a circus. Their ring leader and one of Carlisle’s legitimate business associates, Felix, was throwing money at her and laughing. He may not be directly involved with the family business, but his attitude and the way he was conducting himself told a different story.

 

Bella shocked and amazed me when she wrapped a blanket around Jessica. She had sealed her fate in doing what she did. I sent a text to one of my guys to be ready in the morning to move her things out of the condo. I would give her a couple of days at a motel to find somewhere else to live, but things between her and I would change.

 

Bella had shown me that my mother was correct in her insistence that Bella had the type of character I needed to be around. She stood against the crowd when she ushered Jessica out of the room. She would be worth the sacrifices I would need to make in order to have her around me.

 

My mother wasn’t the type of woman to be trifled with. She took her role as my father’s wife very seriously, and yet, was tough as nails. She showed everyone in the room what happens when you interfere with her carefully laid plans. Felix was currently being dragged out of the room by my mother holding his ear. She was shouting at him in Italian that he was a pompous ass.

 

Esme was from an Italian background and from an early age she had only spoken it when she was very upset or trying to be romantic with Carlisle. There was no doubt that she was beyond mad, or rather, pissed as fuck right now. I motioned for Jasper to follow her and Felix out of the room. I knew my mom always had a gun on her at all times, but I didn’t want to give her a reason to use it.

 

“She’s going to want to completely gut that bathroom tomorrow.”

 

My poor dad. He was currently pounding down the scotch as he watch alongside me the events that was happening around us. He was right. My mom would want to have everything stripped out of that bathroom with its current occupants, Jessica…not Bella. I wanted so bad to go and make sure everything was alright, but I just knew, deep inside, that Bella was more like my mother than I give her credit for.

 

I tried to get away from the conversation going on around me about a shipment that was scheduled for tomorrow when I saw my sister approach Bella. Of all the people in my world, it was Rose, who I trusted the most. She was the only person who could tell when I was lying and when I was telling the truth. She was always there when I was in a bad situation and she was the first one to help me. She was also the most protective of me. She was either going to sing my praises or give Bella directions on how to get rid of me once and for all. There was no point in trying to stop her as she wasn’t afraid of me in the least. A trait she learned early in life when we fought like cats and dogs. Now, I dared a motherfucker to mess with her.

 

Felix came by and apologized before he left, wishing me well and that he would see me in a couple of days. He knew he would pay for the shit he pulled. My mother’s humiliation of him was the least of his worries. I didn’t have to question he would be paying a steep price for his actions.

 

“You ready to see your girl?” I questioned Ben while I attempted to find Angela in the crowed.

 

“I was born ready for that girl.”

 

Ben and I had gone over what would happen once he got in the room. I told him not to worry about Angela having to work, because I knew my mother and Bella would insist she take time off. Watching Angela jump into his arms made me a very jealous man. Another change that I felt since the brown-eyed girl came in like a freight train and derailed my world.

 

I ordered a drink from the bar and smiled at the men standing around the bar drinking. Staring down at the brown liquid in my glass, I tried to understand the changes that had taken over me in such a short period of time. Hell, it was only a few weeks ago, I was calling Jessica a stupid cunt and tossing her out of my bed. I called Jessica names like that all the time. Although, the thought of doing that to Bella made my blood boil. I never wanted her to doubt me. Shaking my head, trying to get rid of these thoughts, I returned my attention back to the happy couple.

 

“Edward, I’m told you helped get me my Ben back. Thank you so much!” Angela’s arms wrapped around me, her tears were staining my shirt, but I didn’t give a shit. I had lots of shirts, but only one Angela.

 

“I’d do anything for you, you know that. Now, no more tears, this is a happy time.”

 

“Come on, let’s introduce Bella to Ben.” Angela’s voice was so happy that I couldn’t tell her no. I really wanted for her to take Ben back to her apartment, stay naked and happy for the next four days.

 

When I got closer to the group, I caught the tail end of Ben talking to Bella about her name.

 

“…that short for anything? I mean it’s not a name you hear every day, although, a guy in my unit has a friend back home with the same name.”

 

Bella smiled keeping her eyes on Ben while he spoke; she was great that way. My father always said, that if a person was looking away when you were talking to them, chances are they weren’t listening very closely. Ben had Bella’s full attention.

 

“Really? That is unusual.”

 

It didn’t slip passed me that Bella didn’t answer his question. I was instantly on guard. I moved closer in hopes of asking the question for myself.

 

“Jake told me that he had managed to get a last minute flight out so that he could visit with his father. He didn’t think he would, since he flew home recently when his brother died. Sad story there…”

 

It was slight, but I caught it. The clinch of her fist as Ben spoke of his friend. Angela reminded Ben that it was getting late and they needed to head home. He agreed and shook hands with everyone and thanked me again. I noticed he had left his hat on the side board and I purposefully waited for him to get outside before I excused myself to return it. He was actually heading back up the walk way when I was walking out the door.

 

“Hey man, thanks. It would have sucked to have to replace this damn thing.”

 

“No problem,” I responded handing him his hat.

 

“Remember what I said, I don’t want to see her at work until your back on that plane.”

 

His laughter assured me I had him in a mindset that he wouldn’t question what I was about to ask.

 

“Hey, I heard you mention your friend…” I deliberately made it seem like I was trying to

 

remember the guy’s name, as if he had given it already.

 

“Jake?” He responded.

 

“Yeah, Jake Smith.” I added.

 

“Did I say Smith? Hell, that’s my Sergeant’s last name. No, Jake is actually Jacob Black.”

 

I laughed with him before I covered my tracks. “Well, let your buddy know if he needs anything while he’s back, feel free to call me.”

 

“I will and thank you again.”

 

I waved goodbye to him while he backed Angela’s car out of her parking spot. I waited until I saw the taillights of the car disappear before I dug my phone out of my pocket.

 

“Emmett, get me everything you can on a Jacob Black that is currently stationed in

 

Afghanistan.”

 

A/N:

 

Some of you have expressed your dislike of my recap and so this is my thank you and waving of my hand at you. This is as far as you need to read and I will see ya on Sunday. (Really? Readers don’t like the Recap? Hmmm…~~Kim)

 

Recap….

 

Good Lord! Edward cannot catch a break! I can’t imagine what he’s going to find out about Ben’s buddy back in Afghanistan.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 19

 

Chapter 18

 

BPOV

 

When I first started working for the flower shop in Forks, I had a customer come in looking for potted plants. He had on ripped jeans and his shirt was full of holes. I actually questioned if his credit card was genuine or if it was stolen as he looked like a homeless man. As he was leaving, one of our regular ladies came in and informed me that the gentleman who had just left was the third richest man in the country. He had a summer house just outside of town and he came here to get away. Having that experience should have taught me that you can never judge a book by its cover.

 

And even after the time I spent with Jared, who had the entire town snowed by his good deeds, I still managed to pass judgment based on situations. I had to stop this. Edward and his family proved to be good people and despite his sexual provocativeness, which in reality, I haven’t even seen firsthand. I am basing my opinion of Edward on conversations I’m overhearing and the words of people that have yet to prove their worth.

 

Still, in my gut…I feel I’m missing something.

 

After Edward dropped me off and made certain I was safely behind locked doors, I had time to really evaluate what had transpired at his party. Jessica was a product of her environment. She had chosen to place her ability to take care of herself on the desires of men. Desires that have a history of changing…frequently. Still, I found no real reason not to be a friend to her. She clearly had feelings for Edward, feelings that sadly he didn’t seem to return, and yet she was loyal to him, to their relationship. At the end of the day, loyalty like that was rare and I don’t think Edward has a true idea of how fortunate he is. She seemed very adamant that he was in pursuit of me for the purpose of finding a wife and I had to chuckle at that thought. Men such as Edward, with the kind of reputation he was rumored to have, don’t settle. As I told Jessica, I expect the man I chose as my forever will love me with a passion that I deserve. I’m not certain a man like I have pictured even exists. My Mr. Perfect would have to do something to show me that he was all in, something completely unselfish, even if that action risked losing me.

 

Then there was the issue with Ben. Could his friend Jake be the same Jake? Would it mattered if it was, surely his Jake would not come here without warning? If that situation ever came into fruition, I could simply head out of town or find myself with unavoidable plans. Leaving the chance for meeting his Jake an impossibility. My Jake would never know where I went off to.

 

I enjoyed getting to the shop first thing in the mornings, long before most people have their first notion to get out of bed. I’m at my most happiest with my hands dirty from working. However, this morning I found the shop wasn’t its usual quiet retreat, because both Esme and Edward were sitting in her office. I had no choice, but to stop and say hello.

 

“Good morning.” I said sticking my head in and then just as quickly ducked out. My thinking was, that if I can be quick, I can sneak off and they’d soon forget me.

 

“Oh, good morning, sweetheart. We were just discussing you.” Esme’s sweet voice and honest words acted like a harvester, punching large holes into my wishes causing them to tumble to the ground.

 

“Oh? Is something wrong?” In all honesty, her being here this morning was a bit of a surprise considering how late the party ran.

 

“Of course not, Edward gave me a ride this morning. It seems he was eager to have coffee with a certain someone.” Esme’s eyes were bright and she winked at Edward. He returned the wink and added a smile of his own.

 

“Good morning beautiful, I heard you have a weakness for hazelnut.” Edward spoke as he lifted a takeout cup that I presumed was full of coffee. We all have our vices and hazelnut flavored coffee was at the top of my list. I reminded myself that I needed to give Edward a chance to show me who he really was, behind the rumors and bad gossip.

 

“Well, you would be correct. I adore hazelnut coffee.”

 

Standing, he walked towards me, his outstretched hand passing me the cup of liquid gold. As soon as the cup was in my hand, I closed my eyes and breathed in its bold fragrance. Before I took a sip, I noticed Edward kiss his mother on her cheek and whisper something in her ear. When he turned in my direction, I took a moment to take him in. Every time I see him, he wears a perfectly tailored suit, matching tie and his shoes were always polished and I assumed expensive.

 

Today was different though, he looked different. He was in a pair of dark jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. On his right forearm, I noticed just a hint of a tattoo, not enough to see clearly what it was, only that it was there. For me this was a contradiction in terms, as the suits he normally domed, called for a more reserved individual…unless said man was a member of organized crime. I pushed that though to the side. Edward Cullen and his family didn’t seem to fit that bill. Esme was far too refine and cultured to have ties to such things. Although…I have never questioned what Edward did for a living.

 

“Care to take a walk with me?”

 

Slightly embarrassed at being caught thinking such crazy thoughts, I smiled and nodded my head like an idiot. Edward gestured to the front of the store and I fell in step with him. The store wasn’t due to open for a few more hours, but I didn’t want to be gone long. Angela was going to be out due to Ben being home and we were usually busy on Saturdays. The street was still damp from what I assumed must have been a late night rain shower. The air was thick with moisture and the breeze was cool and refreshing.

 

“I wanted to thank you again for coming last night. I’m also very sorry that things turned out how they did. I had no idea Jessica had anything like that planned.” He spoke with such clear conviction; no pretense in his words or ulterior motives.

 

“My mom was very direct in not inviting her to begin with.” Taking a sip from his own cup and then smiling his crooked grin at me.

 

“Why is that?” I blurted out. “Why does your mother not care for your girlfriend or friends with benefits? I know you’ve said you have an arrangement.” I was waving my free hand around as I spoke, but Edward’s eyes never wavered from mine as he listened.

 

“I’m sorry…I don’t mean to sound judgmental. It’s just…I firmly believe that when two people fall into bed, one of them comes out with feelings, and it’s clear to me that Jessica has some heavy feeling for you.”

 

Maybe it was none of my business, but it was the subject matter I wanted to discuss. Edward took in a deep breath, smiled and shook his head.

 

“Jessica has feeling for my money and what I can give her. I would wager that she has no clue what being in a relationship even means.”

 

His words surprised me, not his opinion on Jessica, but how he seems ok with them.

 

“And yet you keep her around?” My words hung in the air, heavier than the moisture that surrounded us.

 

“What about you, any hearts left in your wake?” His question seemed to hold a hint of humor.

 

“Me? No. No broken hearts or friends with benefits. I’m just not made that way.” I tossed him a quick glance, but I knew I needed to defuse my words.

 

“Don’t get me wrong, its fine for some people, just not something I ever wanted.”

 

Edward only nodded his head taking a long drink from his cup.

 

“When I was a little boy, my mom would bring me to work with her. There was this little candy shop ran by this Russian couple.” He pointed the cup in the direction of the store at the end of the row. It was now a news stand, the owner still setting up today’s papers.

 

“She would give me money and I would run there as fast as I could to get these caramel candies that were made right before your eyes. I would spend every penny to have that amazing flavor. When the shop closed, I thought my life was over. I begged my father to make them come back. He didn’t tell me at the time, but the couple that ran it had been receiving threats. People wanted them to leave because they were different. My father helped them set up a new store in a different part of Chicago. He brought me this huge box of the caramel candy and told me it had to last me. They ended up moving back to Russia due to an illness. But to this day, I can still smell that sugar cooking and almost taste the sweet caramel.”

 

Edward shared story after story of growing up here. About the first time he met the Papas and how his uncle made it a point to eat lunch there every day. People found out he ate there and they started to come in and eat as well. We continued to walk and I listened intently to all of his stories, he was so descriptive that I could almost see him as a little boy riding his bike down the side walk, chasing cats with lit firecrackers, and eating that candy.

 

We had started back toward the shop when Mrs. Smith, who ran a specialty shop, was trying to carry some heavy boxes into her store. Edward quickly shouted for her to leave them in her car as he hurried down the street in her direction. He retrieved the boxes from her car and carried them into the store for her. She placed her hand on his face, then kissed each of his cheeks in thanks.

 

This was a side to Edward I found myself liking. As we entered the store, I noticed that Esme was already elbow deep in several arrangements. I walked quickly around the counter and tossed on my apron.

 

“Bella, thank you for the wonderful conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” His eyes sparkled and his cheeks were pink from the chill of the air.

 

“Mom, I will call you later. I have a meeting with dad in a few minutes.”

 

He kissed her goodbye and left the store while Esme continued to place flower after flower into the vases before her. I watched as Edward slid into his sleek black car when it hit me. He never asked if he could see me again.

 

A/N:

 

Thank you, thank you to everyone who is reading and sending me such encouraging reviews. I love how many theories you guys have come up with about the relationship.

 

Thank you to my beta who ALWAYS makes this readable.

 

****To those who hate my recap…stop reading here and I’ll see you on Thursday. Thanks again for reading!

 

Recap….

 

Well…well…well.. It seems Bella is seeing Edward in a new light. I’m willing to bet that the meeting he is having with Carlisle is directly related to what Emmett found out about Jake. I can’t wait to see that conversation. I’m telling you, Carlisle is a smart cookie…Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 20

 

Chapter 19

 

EPOV

 

Reading people had always been a strong suit of mine. My Uncle Aro told me it was a gift from the angels and that I should trust it always. This time, I didn’t want to, I wanted to believe that everything was as it seemed when it came to Bella. I wanted to take her as the sweet and beautiful woman that she appeared to be.

 

Sitting on my couch listening to the rain while it hit the windows that posed as my roof, it was the one thing that made me sink so much money into the place. I loved the light it allowed during the day and the solace and almost lullaby it gave me when it rained. However, the sweet sound gave me no rest tonight.

 

My meeting with Emmett left me with more questions than answers.

 

I watched and listened to the conversation held behind closed doors, and I became more drawn to her. When Bella turned from the door, I thought she would have something derogatory to say to Jessica, but it was the complete opposite.

 

“Jessica, I can’t help but wonder why you aren’t’t wearing a thousand dollar dress and standing next to Edward.”

 

Jessica in her usual fashion acted like a twelve year old girl and huffed.

 

“Because, I was told I wasn’t invited. When the guys approached me about doing this surprise for Edward, I couldn’t wait to help, and when they told me how much they were willing to pay me, it sealed the deal. I don’t try to be something I’m not. I’ll never be a lady and walk in the same circles as Esme. Some days that bothers me and some days not.”

 

Bella listened to her and gave her all the time she needed to answer the question.

 

Then she knocked me on my ass when she responded. “You’re wrong you know, I mean about the lady part. You can be anything you want to be. If it’s a girl who pops out of birthday cakes naked or the Secretary of State. It’s all in your drive and ambition. Jessica, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t change your destiny.”

 

Bella Swan was a special brand of lady. She made it clear that she didn’t want what other people wanted from me, money and/or power. Hell, she made it clear that she wanted very little from me. She had the ability to change the people around her, not only with her talent with creating beautiful flowers, but with her genuine words of wisdom, her honesty and selflessness.

 

Emmett had given me a copy of that conversation after he gave me the information that rested in the manila envelope I tossed on my bar. I couldn’t look at it anymore. The words that stained the paper in that envelope would seal my fate with Bella. She would hate me and that was something I just couldn’t face. Tossing back the rest of my drink and throwing the glass against the wall, I’m just like my father. I fell in love with a woman who didn’t want me. But just like my father, I didn’t care…I wanted her, guilt be damned.

 

The rain stopped some time before five, I showered and made a call to my mom. She told me to meet her at the shop and she would stay while I spoke with Bella. I had to make her see that I was a decent kind of guy beneath the dirt and grime that my position painted on me. As I left the shop with Bella, I leaned over and asked my mom to say a special prayer to the saint of lost causes. She brushed my cheek like she did when I was little.

 

Mom had suggested I share a side of me that no one else knew. It was nice to relive those memories as a child with no cares or no worries. As we grew closer to the store, I knew my time with her had come to an end. I had to meet with my dad, get advice from him, and confide this secret that would possibly destroy the most precious woman I had decided to make mine. I took one last look around the street and climbed into my car.

 

How just one question, one inquiry, can change your whole world.

 

My father had insisted that Emmett be involved in this meeting. He had sent James to do some clean up down in Louisiana and from his sources down there, the situation had resolved itself. James had been very illusive as to his whereabouts. He even missed the party last night, which was not like him at all. My dad had been leery of James in the last few years, telling me that he was keeping both eyes out for him. So far, he had been clean and I began to think my dad was losing it.

 

“So, tell me what we have Emmett.” My father, ever in control, no doubt already knew every word Emmett was about to say.

 

“I’ve been monitoring street cams and I found the wanna-be gang that is targeting Mrs. Cullen’s street. I don’t have a positive ID on them yet, but I did find them over on Greyson Ave. It seems they have a new member with them though; a girl known on the streets as Kitty. I have the three of them going into a building and escorting her to a black truck last night.”

 

The flickering image showed the quick movements of the four as they walk down the street. Kitty dressed in hooker heels and a full length fur coat. I wouldn’t question it if it wasn’t the middle of summer. It had been cooler than usual, but not cold enough for a fur coat

 

“As you can see, the tag is blocked from the camera view. It’s that way each time I get a look at it, almost as if they know where the camera is.”

 

I shifted in my chair and noticed my father do the same.

 

“James hasn’t been to his house in a few weeks and none of his girls have seen him, although, he sends each of them flowers weekly. Angela told me he has a standing order, and apparently Bella has been filling the orders lately.”

 

Emmett and my father turned to look at me. He must have told my father what he shared with me last night, the look of pity was obvious on both of their faces. Emmett’s phone started ringing and he looked to my father for permission to answer.

 

“It’s Rose.”

 

Magic words it seemed, as my father waved him off. When Emmett left the room, I took the opportunity to address the current dilemma that kept me awake last night. Tossing the envelope on his desk, my eyes never left his, I wanted to see his reaction.

 

“Something tells me you did a little investigation.” My father’s voice was slightly condescending. He knew what was in that folder.

 

“You knew?” My tone disbelieving now.

 

He eased back into his chair, resting his left arm on the side of the leather seat he loved so much.

 

“Of course I knew, do you think for one second I would allow your mother to spend time with someone who I knew nothing about?”

 

How stupid could I be? I had allowed my desire to cloud my judgment.

 

“Edward, when will you get it through your head I know most of everything that goes on in this town? With one exception.”

 

He pointed his finger in my direction finishing his sentence. “What you plan to do about it.”

 

It was a very good question, one that I didn’t have an answer for.

 

“Dad…”

 

I always knew what I was doing, where I was going, but right now I felt like I was standing at a cross roads. If I chose to be honest, it would destroy any chance I had to be with Bella. If I chose to lie to her, I faced the possibility that when she learned the truth she would hate me even more.

 

“Son, I can’t tell you what to do, but I will say that maybe you should hold off telling her. I mean, you don’t know all of the details of their relationship.”

 

I cut him off, something I was taught was rude when dealing with the head of the family.

 

“Carlisle…I killed her fiance, a man she was in love with, swore her faithfulness to; hell, shared a bed and a life with. I took all that away, how can I not expect her to hate me?”

 

My head fell into my hands, the heaviness in the room was crashing down on my shoulders.

 

“Edward, you did what you had to do for this family. Just like I had to have her checked out for the same reason. There is more to that girl than what meets the eye.”

 

Snapping my head up, my curiosity was definitely peaked now.

 

“Listen, she was engaged to a known drug dealer, counterfeiter, and gang leader. She had to be aware of his activities, as a matter of fact, I know she was.”

 

Giving him a puzzled look, “How?”

 

He opened his desk drawer removing a large folder and sliding it across the desk to me.

 

“She was the sole beneficiary on a life insurance policy on Jared Black.”

 

I opened the file and sitting on top was a copy of a cashed check for half a million dollars. Turing the page, there was copies of a bill of sale for a century old truck, a deed to a house in Forks, Washington, Jared’s death certificate, and the death certificate for a Charles Swan; no question that was her father.

 

“What young woman from a small town thinks about life insurance? Furthermore, what would cause her to uproot herself and move half way across the country?”

 

I turned page after page finding her high school graduation, college acceptance letters, and credit reports. Everything pointed to a normal American girl.

 

“If she knew what Jared was involved in, why did she agree to work with Esme? I mean, she had to know about the family.”

 

My father’s smug voice and cheshire grin returned. “Not according to Esme, she just shared some amazing news with me.”

 

That news would have to wait, because Emmett burst through the door, “Hey, Rose just told me someone tried to break into her shop. I think it’s the guys you’re looking for.”

 

A/N:

 

Thank you everyone who sent me such wonderful reviews and to those who added me to their following lists. I’m so thrilled to know that so many are enjoying this fiction. A big thank you to Kim for ironing out each chapter. You really have no idea what a huge mess each chapter starts out as. I send it to her and she will typically send me a few emails questioning what I have meant to say. Then she fixes the many errors and the result is the stuff you get to read. If I could I would send her on an around the world vacation. Don’t forget we have a face book page with teasers and photos groups/434894866569951/

 

Beta Note:

 

Aww…Thank you Cayce…And yes, I would love to travel around the world, but hopefully, if things go as planned, we’ll be spending the weekend together this summer. I keep Cayce on her toes.

 

******Stop here if you don’t care for my recap***********

 

Recap…

 

Holy fucking shit! I told you guys that Carlisle was a smart fucker! He knew about the hit and the money. Now I wonder what news he has for Edward. I find it odd that at first Carlisle trusted James as he took a bullet for him, but now he is skeptical of him….. Can’t wait to see what happens next chapter…See ya Sunday!

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 21

 

Chapter 20

 

BPOV

 

“Bella, honey, I need to talk with you about something.”

 

I had just finished helping Mr. Miller load the flowers for his daughter’s wedding into his car. His wife insisted that he take them and not let our delivery people handle it. I had told her over and over that we didn’t charge for set up and delivery, but she was convinced she was saving money.

 

“Sure, Esme. Something wrong?”

 

I knew I wasn’t in trouble, I had done every task she had asked of me; so I wasn’t really worried. Esme walked over to the door locking it and turning the sign to “closed.” Saturdays were our half days.

 

“Come join me in my office.”

 

I followed her taking a seat in the same chair that Edward sat in only hours before. I loved her office with the rich colors, lush furnishings, and the massive television that hung on the far wall. I never understood why she had that here, unless to occupy a visiting member of the family. Although, she seems to always have it on…it was muted today. Esme was standing next to her large burrow pouring hot water into a tea pot. She almost always had a cup of tea in her hand when she was in her office. I loved the smell that came for her tea making, it was always so calming and sweet.

 

“Hey…”

 

The sound of Angela’s rushed voice sounded in the back room. Both Esme and I looked to the door as a makeup free, hair pulled atop her head, sweat pants and Marine t-shirt wearing, Angela came into the office.

 

“Oh…didn’t expect to see you, but do you have a second?” Esme seemed to already know the answer while she pulled another cup from the shelf and started pouring. Angela plopped down into the chair with exasperation and fatigue written all over her.

 

“I forgot my bag here last night, it has my birth control in it and I don’t want to miss a dose. Especially now.”

 

We all giggled at her comment, you could tell she had spent the last several hours in pure bliss. I was fighting the evil green monster that lived inside of me. I longed to have that kind of passion in my life.

 

“Well, I won’t keep you long then, I just have some news that the both of you need to hear.”

 

Esme handed us each a cup and took a seat on the opposite couch.

 

“Carlisle and I have been planning for several years for the day we both get to retire. He has been training Edward to take over the family business and recent events has shown Carlisle and I that the time is getting close.”

 

Angela looked at me, worry replacing that bliss she had when she first entered.

 

“Now, I know what you’re thinking Angela, and I want you to put that thought out of your pretty head.”

 

I wasn’t following where this conversation was headed.

 

“I’m putting the shop up for sale.”

 

My stomach was instantly in my throat. I would have to find another job, a new place to stay. I didn’t like that thought, I enjoyed working here and I loved my little corner of the world up stairs.

 

“Now, any prospective buyers would have to agree to keep the both of you on. That’s a nonnegotiable clause that my attorney is including.”

 

She pointed her index finger back and forth between us. Angela began to talk about missing her and the way things were ran. My thoughts drifted to other things. Things, at one point, had seemed like an impossible dream; now I could almost feel the clouds of that dream.

 

“Esme, mind if I inquire what you are listing the business as?”

 

The words left my mouth before my lips could comprehend them. All that money sitting across town was intended for just this, owning my own shop.

 

“Well, it’s an established shop, with an excellent reputation, not to mention the over the top staff.”

 

I wanted to roll my eyes at her, she didn’t need to sell me to myself.

 

“Do you have a buyer in mind?” She questioned, still keeping the price a secret.

 

Keeping direct eye contact with her, I spoke with confidence and assuredly. “Yes, yes I do.”

 

She smiled, “Four hundred thousand dollars.”

 

I knew that wasn’t the final price tag. Buying a business required lawyers and permits. I knew everything came with a price tag. Still, I would have about sixty thousand left over to carry me for the first month. I had a rough guess at the kind of money she had coming in. I could make it fine since I would have a loan payment to deal with.

 

“That sounds fair, how soon can we get the paperwork started?”

 

My face, I know showed confidence, my body, however, was trembling. Was I really doing this?

 

“I have the financials from last year on a thumb drive. I can send them over to any loan officer…”

 

In an even bolder move, I interrupted her. “No loan will be needed. I can contact my bank and have a bank note delivered to you on Monday.”

 

Angela’s poor eyes were huge as she watched us like she would a tennis match. Esme placed her cup on the coffee table and walked over to me extending her hand.

 

“Congratulations Isabella, we have a deal.”

 

Angela hugged me, squealing with delight that the shop wasn’t going to change. Esme called Carlisle and informed him he can have their family attorney stop by this afternoon with all of the paperwork. Esme questioned if I had an account at Northwest Trust and when I confirmed, she called a Mr. Newton and had instructed him to be here when Mr. Jenks was to finalize the paper work. Turns out Esme is a very important member of the same bank and so I didn’t have to wait for Monday to get the money to her. Mr. Jenks simply held out his IPad and I entered my signature and it was done.

 

Carlisle came in about an hour later with a large bottle of chilled champagne. He apologized that he couldn’t stay, but assured Esme and myself he wanted to take everyone to dinner that evening. Angela declined to attend, for obvious reasons, but Carlisle insisted on a rain check with her. What seemed like a thousand signatures later, I was the new proud owner of Not Just Blooms.

 

Angela hugged me and called me, “boss lady.” She asked if I would be willing to have a touristy day with her once Ben returned to Afghanistan. I loved the idea and so we made a date for next week. Unfortunately, something had happened at work and Carlisle had to give everyone a rain check. I told him it was fine that he needed to handle the situation at work first.

 

As the sun started to set, I walked out of the shop to the sidewalk that was just outside my entry doors. Turning, I look up at the letters that gave passer-byers the confirmation they had reached their destination. The last time I stood in this spot I was only looking for a job and an apartment. Now, I stand in the same spot, the proud owner.

 

Maybe Jared came into my world with a decent purpose after all. Without his death, I would have never been able to achieve my dreams and bring a little happiness into the lives of my customers…my customers, I loved the sound of that.

 

~~~Secrets~~~

 

“Don’t look now, but you have an admirer.”

 

Angela and I had spent the morning walking around Navy pier. We found a deli with outside seating and decided to eat there for lunch. Using the reflection of the glass window of the restaurant, I looked behind me to indeed find a table with a man and a woman four tables over. I could have sworn I had seen him before, but I just couldn’t place where. It wasn’t until he stood, tossing money on the table, and taking the hand of the girl that I recognized him. It was the guy from the bank that first day. His long pony tail giving him away.

 

“Seriously disgusting, checking out a girl when you have one at the table with you.” I said to Angela as she took a monster bite of her sandwich. Ben had sent her an email stating he had made it back to base.

 

“Well, considering the source, I’d say it was par for the course.” She mumbled after taking a huge swallow of her drink.

 

Tilting my head, I gave her a puzzle look because her comment took me off guard.

 

“That’s James Hunter, one of Carlisle’s guys. Not sure who the girl was; I haven’t seen her around. I know you seen his name come across the delivery schedule. He keeps a long list of girls at his beck and call, each one dumber than the last.”

 

James walked beside our table, looking over his shoulder to wink at me and blow a kiss.

 

“Don’t waste your time, he’s a complete douche bag.”

 

I shivered at the very thought. “Really, Angela?” I mocked.

 

“Sorry, I know you’re smarter than that…actually you’re brilliant if you want the truth.”

 

She took another huge bite then shoved two French fries into the container of mayonnaise that sat to her left.

 

“Not that I’m arguing, but why do you think I brilliant?”

 

Waiting while she finished chewing her food, then taking several long gulps of her drink. “Well, first, you land the job of the century; second, you manage to save enough money to buy a very well established business in a primo location; and third, said business, I would venture to bet, comes with a protection clause considering the previous owner.”

 

I was about to take a bite of my sandwich, but froze when what she said finally registered.

 

“Protection?”

 

Angela gave me one of those looks, the one that says, “Don’t make me say this, you dumbass.”

 

“Come on Bella, you and I both know how much the shop pulls in a month. Esme drives a Bentley, a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar car. There is no way she can afford that kind of car on what she makes after she pays for supplies and our salaries. Don’t even try and tell me you haven’t questioned that after you saw her house. I mean, the lady has an original Picasso and a Ming vase in her entry alone.”

 

Suddenly, my appetite was completely gone along with my heart sinking to the pit of my stomach filling me with dread. I tried to rationalize things. Maybe Carlisle invested well and he was able to afford them for her, or maybe they really weren’t original art, but really good copies?

 

“Angela, you do remember Esme is a married woman. I’m certain Carlisle is able to provide well for her with his own business after all.”

 

But it was the look that told me what I already knew. Carlisle had his own business alright, and I was a rather unwilling participant. In signing to buy my dream store, I managed to go from the frying pan directly into the fire.

 

“Guess it’s a good thing you and Edward became friends.” She said taking another long sip of her drink, eyes wide and eye brows wagging.

 

Beta Note:

 

I love me some French fries and mayonnaise, except with certain ones like from Checkers or Arby’s. Those I eat with ketchup.

 

Now Bella knows…Finally…Wonder what she will do with this information.

 

A/N:

 

Thank you all for giving me your vote on which fiction to post next. By an overwhelming majority, Signed, Sealed and Delivered will be posted once we complete Secrets. Now for those that wanted Conditions May Apply….not to fret, it will post once SSD is finished. DO me a favor and visit my Facebook page. Tell Kim Edwards how much we all love her hard work. You have no idea the jumbled up mess I send her on a near daily basis.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Stop Reading if you don’t want the Recap!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Recap:

 

Awe…Bella got her shop. I hate to say, but I agree with Bella if it hadn’t been for Jared, she would not have been able to afford the purchase. The douche bag at least did some good. Speaking of douches…James has made his presence known again. I wonder if Bella will change her opinion of Edward for being associated with him? We all know why Carlisle had to reschedule and I want to know if it’s the same thugs that have been giving Esme trouble.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 22

 

Chapter 21

 

EPOV

 

Rose’s shop was two blocks from my house. She had found this old warehouse, and just like me, fell in love with the charm of it. She worked night and day to make it usable. Dad and I both offered to hire a contractor, but she flat out refused. She wanted to make her own way and honestly, I’m so proud of her for it.

 

When Emmett busted through the door and told us of someone trashing her shop, I saw red. She can be a royal pain in my ass, but she’s still my baby sister, and I’ll kill anyone who tries to hurt her. Rose had these huge bay doors installed for the front of her shop. They were so heavy she had to have a company come in to reinforce the part of the ceiling they hung from. By the looks of things, they were what kept the punks out. The front of her building is now covered in graffiti and one of the windows upstairs is broken. Rose was standing in the center of her shop holding hands with Emmett when I walked in. I can tell you I have seen my sister cry on two, maybe three, occasions and so the tears that were currently running down her face are ripping out my heart. I will find out who did this and they will pay dearly.

 

“Hey Rosie.”

 

I walked up to them placing a kiss to the back of her head, her hair smelling like coconut from her shampoo. I expected her to turn from Emmett’s arms and cling to me, but when she failed to do that, I knew this was the real deal. My baby sister had out grown me and found a true love in Emmett.

 

“Babe, you’ve got to show us what’s missing.”

 

Rose slowly pulled away from his embrace and wiped the tears from her face. The act alone made my blood boil. She wasn’t really a part of the business my father and I belonged to. Sure, she would fix all of our cars for us giving us an extra edge, but she kept her business clean and didn’t accept any help from us.

 

“Nothing is missing, just the graffiti and the broken window. They tried to pull my doors off but Brutes was too strong for them.”

 

When she was supervising the installation of those massive doors, one of them kept slipping and causing chain after chain to break. As a joke she name the door Brutes.

 

My father came over carrying a ball cap. “This one of your’s princess?”

 

Rose turned and looked at the cap, however, Emmett quickly snatched it out of his hand. “I’ve seen this before.” He pulled out his cell and typed quickly. Once he found what he was looking for he showed us the tape of the three guys that was escorting Kitty to the truck. The tallest guy was wearing the same ball cap.

 

“Hey Bitches!”

 

A voice sounded from the street. I turned quickly, drawing my gun on reflex, to find a cocky James walking into the shop.

 

“Oh, sorry Boss, didn’t see you there.” He backtracked when he noticed my father.

 

“James. Mind telling me where you have been for the past week?”

 

James didn’t look away while he told my father his whereabouts. In all of the years we have known each other, I’ve never known him to lie to my dad. Something was just off with him though.

 

“Well, I got down to Louisiana like you told me to, but by the time I got there the issue was over. I took a couple of days to look around and savor the local specials.”

 

His devilish smile was back in business as he mentioned the local flavor, he wasn’t referencing food, that much we all knew.

 

“Matter of fact, I have a new place to take you Edward next time you want to get away. I have just the place.”

 

A month ago, I would have packed a bag and been on the first flight out. Things have changed in me, even though Bella has no real clue of my intentions, my plans were firm.

 

“That won’t be necessary, will it Edward?” My father added. His voice low and with a slight growl, something was definitely up.

 

James looked at me bewildered, his eyes still clouded from his night before. “Something I need to know about?”

 

“Yes, James, I need you to make it known with the men Mrs. Cullen sold the flower shop. It has a new owner.”

 

James stood a little taller and stepped closer. “Do I need to pay the new owner a visit? Explain our services.”

 

The thought of James being in Bella’s shop made something snap inside of me. He would tarnish her, use her, and then toss her away. Taking the very things I love about her away. I shook my head at these thoughts, what is happening to me?

 

“Absolutely not.” My father’s voice was firm, angry, and left no room for argument. Hell, even my balls wanted to crawl up my own ass.

 

“She is untouchable, right son?”

 

This was a huge deliration. By making Bella an untouchable, she was placed in this invisible bubble. She couldn’t be harassed, propositioned, or even hurt. Violation of this by a family member was a death sentence. Violation by a rival family meant war. If I agreed with my dad and told my men she was mine, it was showing them that the head of the family was about to change.

 

“Completely untouchable.”

 

James nodded and turned to the side with his cell phone up to his ear. The word would spread like wild fire and by the weekend, our entire network would know of my intentions. James finished with his call and my father told him of a warehouse he had his eyes on buying.

 

“Go by and check it out, I want to know what goes on over there.”

 

James gave my father a strange look, but said nothing. I knew the place he spoke of, a building he already owned. My father was up to something; I would question him later.

 

With James gone to check out the building and Emmett calling around to get a cleanup crew our here, my father motioned for me to move our conversation to the corner. Rose was already busy under the hood of an old Mustang, her tears forgotten.

 

“So, you thought about this, making her one of us.”

 

Looking at my father’s face, his hair turning white around his ears, laugh lines that remained after the smile had faded. He was no doubt a handsome man, a man that I was destined to resemble in twenty years.

 

“I figure since I’m going to hell anyway, I might as well be thorough.”

 

My father tapped my shoulder with his clinched fist. “You’re being too cocky, this is an innocent life you’re playing with. Cross me on this and I will beat your ass and let everyone watch.”

 

When I was much younger, a man that worked for my father slept with an untouchable. The girl became pregnant and her husband came to Carlisle about it. The baby was given up for adoption and the girl moved away. My father took the guy and had every member of the family come and watch as his punishment was carried out. It wasn’t a simple bullet to the head, no my father allowed the man that he wronged cut him, slap him, and even piss in his face. Then when the man was near death, he let the man who he had wronged strip him of his clothes and hang him upside down, burning his genitals before leaving him to die in public.

 

“She is changing me, dad.” I whispered, “I can’t control this, and for the first time ever, I’m scared shitless.”

 

He tapped me twice more. “Then heaven help you.”

 

By the time I got into my car, the workers had already cleaned most of the paint off the brick. My phone indicated a call from my mother, I was surprised it took her this long to call me.

 

“Edward Anthony!”

 

I was middle named, a true warning I was in trouble. “Yes ma’am.” I didn’t dare try and act tough with my mom. She may be half my weight and a foot shorter than me, but if she couldn’t bring me down she would get ten guys that would.

 

“Tell me why I had to learn such wonderful news about my only son from a phone call from Katheryn Martin?”

 

Katheryn was Tanya’s mom. As whorish as Tanya was, her mother was as big a gossip. With Katheryn, it didn’t matter if it was fact or fiction, she spread whatever she heard.

 

“I only decided recently to even go that far with her.”

 

“Don’t try and lie to me. We had how many conversations about that girl? I was willing to help, as a matter of fact, I invited her to your party just so you could have an opportunity to show her the kind man I know you can be.”

 

She then broke into Italian, ranting about the stupid antics of grown men who act like animals. She threated that Jessica had not even begun to suffer for what she did.

 

“Mom, I think it would upset Bella if you did anything to Jessica. I’ve already moved her out of the condo and she has a few days left at the hotel I rented for her.”

 

It was an easy decision. I knew in choosing to be with Bella, I would have to cut all ties to other girls. I could very well profess my love for one, while stringing along another. Not that the majority of the men in our family didn’t have several girls to fulfill their needs, I wanted a marriage like my mom and dad. She never had to question who my father was with. I wanted Bella to go to sleep each night with the peace of knowing I was devoted to her.

 

The phone was silent as I knew she was gaping like a fish. I took the silence and told her what I had witnessed on the tapes. How Bella amazed me with her words from her heart.

 

“Oh Edward, you are truly blessed to find such a soul.”

 

If she only knew the secret I had chosen to keep from Bella. I told mom that I would make my error up to her by asking Bella to allow me to drive her to dinner with my parents. By the girlish laughter I knew I had made a quick means with her.

 

Hitting speed dial on my phone, I waited hearing two rings before the most angelic voice spoke, “Good afternoon, Not Just Blooms, this is Bella.” I smiled turning the corner and even the car that wouldn’t get out of my way didn’t cause it to falter.

 

“Well, hello beautiful, I hear a huge congratulations is in order.”

 

I was met with silence, then what could be construed as agitation, “I’m sorry, who is this?”

 

The gravity of her words and the truth ringing in them proved that I had gone about this in the wrong order. The woman I had chosen didn’t even recognize my voice. This was all wrong, completely going in the opposite direction. I would fix this and leave her with no doubt of my growing feelings toward her.

 

“I’m the one who should be sorry. This is Edward, Esme’s son? How rude of me to think you would know me by my voice alone.”

 

The line was silent and I didn’t do silence well. I was used to immediate responses and she wasn’t giving me that.

 

“I’m sorry Mr. Cullen, your mother has stepped out, can I take a message?”

 

Bella Swan was not going to be easy, she was also going to be worth the challenge.

 

“I’m actually calling to speak with you. I understand you are having dinner with my father and I wanted to extend my arm and car to you. I know your relatively new in Chicago and don’t have a vehicle. It would be my honor to escort you there.”

 

Pitroski’s confections came into view and I instantly had my excuse for stopping by Bella’s.

 

“I’m actually going with Angela. We had planned to just grab a cab.”

 

As I entered the store, I could almost taste the caramel. The older woman was stirring the copper kettle to my left with the wooden spoon going round and round and the steam rolling off the thickened goodness.

 

“Then I insist you allow me the honor. You shouldn’t have to take public transportation to a dinner in your honor. What time shall I pick up you and Angela?”

 

Angela would be my greatest resource; she could help me in getting to know more about Bella.

 

“Dinner is at seven thirty.”

 

“Fantastic. I’ll pick you both up at a quarter after. Oh and Bella? I’m very much looking forward to tonight.”

 

I ended the call without waiting for an answer. I bought a box of the freshly made candy and then jumped back into my car and headed towards my future.

 

Beta Note: Cayce has given me the “opportunity of a lifetime,” so this is my recap. If you choose not to read, then we’ll see you next chapter. Anywho, let’s see, Edward has a lot to prove to Bella, and I’m glad that she is making him work for it. We all have pasts, but it’s hard to win over a woman or a man when everyone and their brother knows he’s a horndog. So, we’ll see as each chapter comes to pass what he does to show Bella he is truly trying. For myself, I’m just wary of this Edward. Not only do I beta and do my best to make the chapters what they are, I’m also a reader. I get just as much tangled up as you all do. ~~~Kim

 

  1. Chapter 23

 

Chapter 22

 

BPOV

 

Edward was precisely on time. His suit was more formal than he normally wore and his eyes seemed to shine a little more than usual. He handed me a simple gold box with a bright red ribbon wrapped around it. I had to laugh as I opened the lid to discover the candy he spoke so fondly of.

 

“I wanted you to taste what I tried and failed to describe, and perhaps create a pleasant memory for you too.”

 

I remembered the nostalgic look he wore while he told me the story of him sampling the candy. How I would have loved to have met a young Edward, before his world hardened him. Speaking of that world, I had debated on how exactly to approach the subject of how much this protection was going to cost me. I wasn’t an idiot. I knew Jared had charged a few bars in the area. He kept his men out of them and his business to select places. Jared, however, didn’t carry himself the way Edward does. Where Jared wore oversized jeans and the latest fad tennis shoes, Edward dressed in tailored suits and wore expensive watches. Where Jared had been a foot solider, Edward was clearly a leader.

 

Edward waited while Angela and I made certain the shop was locked and secure. Once inside his car, he spoke of the different buildings that we passed. I hummed and smiled, but made no real comment. I worried I would open my mouth and say the wrong thing, because living with Jared had taught me that it was better to keep your mouth shut and your ears open. Edward eventually pulled up to the curb of a large building. Several men rushed out eager to help Angela and I out of the car and have the opportunity to drive the shiny black vehicle of Edward’s.

 

“Ms. Swan.” A very young man in a vest and bow tie addressed me.

 

I smiled and took his outstretched hand using it to pull my way out of the low riding car.

 

“I’ll take it from here.”

 

Edward’s eyes that once shined with happiness were now dark and menacing. His voice was clipped and full of power and intimidation. The young man scurried away never giving Edward a second look.

 

“Shall we?”

 

Edward extended an arm to me and then his free one to Angela. I could see an instant change in his mood.

 

“If I die in the next ten seconds, I will die a very happy man.”

 

Angela giggled and wrapped her upper body around his arm. I wondered what the odds were to his question if his death was imminent. Once the door to the restaurant opened, it was as if I stepped into someone else’s life. The owner of the restaurant stood at the ready with his hand extended showing us the way to our table. Several well-dressed patrons stood with backs to the wall as Edward escorted us, his posture perfect and his stance strong. He walked as if he owned the world, or at least the room we occupied.

 

Men greeted Edward and then smiled and nodded to me. Women weaved their head trying to get a look at us, at me, I suspected. Thinking back to Edward’s birthday party, I recalled several of the same faces. This time their eyes and conversations were including me.

 

“Bella, I see someone that I must speak with quickly. My mother is standing near the bar and I will leave you in her company.”

 

I stopped walking and pulled at him. “Thank you, but I can see her, you can go and have your conversation.”

 

Edward opened his mouth to respond, but thought for a split second simply nodding his head instead. Angela kissed his cheek and mouthed a quick thank you before joining her arm in mine.

 

“Well, well, well.” She whispered in my ear. That gained my attention, turning toward her I raised my eyebrow in question making her smile return with a vengeance.

 

“It seems he has made a statement.”

 

Completely confused and waiting for her to elaborate, I took a quick glance around the room noticing face after face were looking at us, some were smiling and some with eyes that could kill.

 

“He could have just pissed on you, but considering where we are, he made the better choice.”

 

She tugged on my arm stopping me in place. “Here we go.”

 

I didn’t have a second to question her when a nasally sounding woman approached us.

 

“Mrs. Swan, Veronica Jones, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

 

Her boney white hand stretched out to shake mine and her red acrylic nails appeared at the ready to scratch my eyes out.

 

“Its Ms. actually, I’m not married.” My mouth finally found the need to work and of all the things to say that was certainly the worst.

 

“Oh? Well then, I must introduce you to my love, my daughter, Tiffany.”

 

Veronica or Vivi as Angela quickly informed me. I recognized that name as one of the many women Mr. Hunter sent flowers to every week. Sadly, Tiffany was also on his delivery list.

 

After several more women introduced themselves and some daughters, Angela insisted we visit the bar. I smiled and excused us as we bolted in that direction.

 

“Ok, why do I feel like I’m at a coming out party instead of a dinner to celebrate buying a business?”

 

Angela only snickered as she pulled me to a stop again. “Listen, pretend like I’m telling you something funny and look at my phone while we talk.”

 

She had her phone in her hand where there was a picture of a shirtless Ben illuminated on the screen.

 

“In Edward’s family, having a family is very important. Es had told me a while back that Carlisle was putting the screws to Edward to settle down. He has to show he is stable to take over the family business.”

 

I wanted to gag on their term “family business”, however, I wanted my head to stay connected to my body, so I kept pretending I was looking at a funny YouTube video.

 

“All of these wives are going to try and get on your good side. Some of them have pissed off Esme in the past and they think that if they are in your good graces now, that you will allow them in your inner circle when you are in Esme’s position.”

 

My acting skills needed serious polishing when my laughter instantly died and my eyes shot to Angela’s face.

 

“W-what position is that?”

 

Angela tapped on her screen and a new photo appeared. It was another picture of Ben and several of his buddies with beers in hand making goofy faces.

 

“When Edward takes over the business, he will also take over the head of the family. Make no mistake, he has his sights set on you.”

 

She tapped on her phone making a video come up of Ben and his friends where they were singing or doing something crazy, but I couldn’t tell. I was shaking so bad I thought I would pass out.

 

“Ladies, compliments of Mr. Cullen.”

 

An older gentleman held two glasses of bubbly liquid in a champagne flute. I took it without question thanking him. I glanced in the direction I thought Edward was but I didn’t see him, although, a few men noticed my attention. They nodded their heads and raised their glass. I smiled and returned the gesture. I turned my attention back to Angela who still wore a sinister smile on her face.

 

“I don’t want to be the new member of his girl of the moment club.”

 

My admission caused Angela to choke on her drink. I handed her my napkin and rubbed her back.

 

“You really don’t have to worry about that.”

 

She wiped her lips several times and took a quick look around the room. I followed her eyes and noticed that Edward had entered the room. He was having what looked like a heated conversation with a very large guy. A beautifully dress Rose was standing beside the man Edward seemed to be angry with.

 

“I heard he moved Jessica out of the condo and he told her to find a new paycheck.”

 

Now this surprised me, as I knew they had an arrangement concerning sex and her living arrangements. Jared had several girls he kept around, so this did nothing but confuse me.

 

“I’m telling you Bella, you need to prepare yourself for some serious attention from one Edward Cullen.”

 

Angela was right about one thing. The women in the room did try and get me to remember them. Whether it was telling me that my hair was beautiful or that my eyes were a unique shade; they tried to have something positive to say.

 

Dinner was being served and it was like only a few minutes later the food was already placed in front of me. Definitely weird. Carlisle made several toasts, one of them in what I now know was Italian. I haven’t a clue what he said, but he raised his hand to Edward then looking in my direction.

 

Something tells me that by buying the shop, I had made a deal with the devil.

 

Beta Note:

 

Any mistakes are mine, I hope there are not any, but please let us know if you see anything. This is my take so far. I believe this is a filler chapter, where Bella gets more insight thanks to Angela. In this chapter, Edward is a gentleman, but he still has to prove himself-at least to me anyway. Just keep in mind this is not a short story, Edward has to work to gain Bella’s respect, trust, and to convince her his whoring ways is behind him. I mean look at his history, especially with women, and what he does for a living. He has a lot of work to do. Just sit back and enjoy. More things happen in each chapter and more information is revealed; like reading a mystery.

 

  1. Chapter 24

 

Chapter 23

 

BPOV

 

It seem that no matter how far you go or how fast you travel, trouble always finds you. I’ve been running for so long and I find that now I’m trapped like a caged animal, tranquilized and helpless.

 

When I returned from dinner, I looked up several articles pertaining to selling the shop. If I chose to sell, I would face a huge penalty. I would end up giving away half of my money. The only choice I seemed to have was to stay and allow Edward to pursue me. He was unquestionably an extremely handsome man, wealthy and with more power than I was ready to admit. He also knew all of his attributes and apparently used them to his advantage.

 

Once dinner had been eaten, everyone visited while desert was offered. The women around our table seemed to have no volume control when it came to talking about Edward and how many women would be lined up to be his mistress. In all fairness, it seemed like a good gig if you were chosen; a condo that he paid for, a monthly allowance and the respect that came from his men. Mothers spoke to each other comparing their daughters against each other. Everyone, however, agreed that someone named Tanya would be the stiffest competition.

 

Looking to Carlisle and Esme, I questioned how many mistresses he had and how she dealt with knowing he wasn’t faithful to her. For some, money and security would be enough, for me they were just things. I wanted love, now it seemed, I would never know what that felt like.

 

The Morgan wedding was scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and after tossing and turning in my bed for hours, I got up and headed down to my shop to try and get my mind off everything. The bride had called last minute in tears that the company she was ordering bows from shipped them to the wrong address. I assured her that we could make her pew bows in time for her wedding. The white satin ribbon we used to do this was running low. I check in the cabinet where we kept a few extras only to find it empty as well. I knew we had just gotten an order a few days ago, they were in the storage area in a large box.

 

Esme and Angela had done an amazing job of keeping the area organized. The shelves were clearly labeled and it only took seconds to see the box I needed. I had just moved another box of floral wire when I noticed several of the floor boards were very loose, even though the floor seemed newer. I had read online once that sometimes moisture can cause a board to warp and that if you turn it over, it will fix the problem. Hoping this was the case, I lifted the boards, but instead of the padding I expected to see there was a metal vault structure. Hesitantly, I opened the lid finding several hand guns and ammo. Visions immediately flooded my mind of when I had found Jared’s stash. Quickly, I closed the lid, replaced the boards and grabbed the box I needed.

 

Making bows came natural to me. Once you got the hang of it you could nearly do it in your sleep. That was a good thing, as I had almost one hundred to make. Blocking out everything around me, I concentrated on making the loops even with only the sound of the ribbon as I twisted it with my fingers. It was easy and right now, I needed easy. Lost in my loop, twist, loop, twist repeat, I startled myself when I knocked my scissors off the counter. Securing the wire around the bow, I bent over to grab them. When I was standing up, I happened to glance out the window we had that separated the front from the back.

 

The window was coated so you could see out into the shop, but the customer could only see a mirror when they looked in. Setting across the street was a black truck, a single cigarette illuminated as the occupant took a drag. With it being nearly four in the morning, I knew it was someone watching me and my shop.

 

Again, how do you ask how much this protection is going to cost? I closed my eyes tight and let out a cleansing breath. I knew the answer to that question…my hand in marriage; marriage to a criminal. With a final cut of the ribbon, I laid the bow securely into the box with the others and headed back to my apartment.

 

At seven thirty I decided it was light enough to venture out of my hiding place. That and the fact that I was out of coffee. Mr. Newton was open by this time in the morning and I hoped he would have a pot brewing. After a quick shower and even quicker dressing, I snatched up my keys and some cash and headed down the stairs. The shop was exactly as I had left it, but I noticed the truck was now gone.

 

Turning off the alarm and locking the door behind me, I made my way down to Mr. Newton’s store. The air was crisp for a June morning, but the freshness was welcomed. Sure enough, Newton’s was open and I seen five people already walking into the store. Mr. Newton was in a heavy conversation with one of the guys that had walked in before me.

 

I walked to the back of the store in search of the coffee I could smell already brewing. When I rounded the corner, I saw one of the other guys shoving candy into his pockets. With the coffee pot still in my hand, I began stomping my way back to the front of the store. If they would steal from this nice old man, they would steal from me in a heartbeat.

 

I made it to the end of the isle to find Mr. Newton face down on the counter, the blonde guy from the bank and Navy Pier holding his arm behind his back, blood was gushing from his nose onto the counter. To my left was a tall woman who was busy tapping her fingers on her cell phone, however, that isn’t what had me frozen in place. On her right hand, was a shiny diamond flickering in the sunlight that filtered through the window. The last time I saw that ring sparkle was the day I buried Jared.

 

“Jamie hurry up, Kiki wants to go out for breakfast, she’s leaving the club in fifteen.” Her eyes never left the phone as she whined her request to him.

 

“Hang on Baby, I’ll be done with this in a…”

 

He cut his sentence short when he noticed me. The smile that spread across his face was sinister and evil. He quickly let go of Mr. Newton, giving him a final shove into the wood of the counter, blood splattering on the floor and candy that rested on the lower shelf.

 

“Well, well, well, look who we have here.”

 

He walked towards me like a feral lion going after his next meal.

 

“Little Miss flavor of the month.”

 

His fingers were cold as he traced them down my face and to my collar bone. I flinched away, shoving his hand back toward him

 

“You won’t be the first one we have shared, but you will be the first untouchable.”

 

I had heard that term in movies and books. I hadn’t a clue what it meant, but something told me it was to my advantage.

 

“You think you too good for this, don’t you? Too good for me?” His face so close to mine I could see the tiny red vessels in the whites of his eyes.

 

“You’re nothing special, he has girls just like you in his bed every night. I know…” His hand returned to my chin with the last part of his words.

 

“Because I put them there.” He shoved me back slightly only to quickly pull me forward and place his hand on my chest. It was when he pinched my right nipple hard that everything changed.

 

I was so startled and appalled by the invasion of my personal space and body, I pulled back and hit him with the hot coffee carafe. Coffee and glass exploded everywhere. Mr. Newton was shouting something, the girl covered her mouth dropping her cell phone then backed away from the pooling coffee.

 

Jamie, however, reacted in a way that I never expected. He drew his gun from his jacket and hit me across the face with the butt end of it tossing me into a display rack that housed potato chips and nuts, the contents scattering all around me. Someone must have been standing behind me because when I tried to get off the floor, I felt a shoe stomp on the side of my head. It hurt like a bitch, but wasn’t enough to cause any real damage. The girl’s screams were silenced when Mr. Newton pulled out what looked like a shot gun and began firing, missing everyone in the store, but sending the five of them running out.

 

The pain in my face and side of my head was blinding. Mr. Newton came rushing over, his cell phone to his ear and talking a mile a minute. He kept repeating over and over…

 

“James did it, James did it.”

 

I didn’t know who this James guy was, but it was clear he was associated with Edward. If he gave her the ring, and I could only speculate that he did, this just took on an entire new twist.

 

“Esme, Im fine.” I had repeated this to her more than a few times.

 

Mr. Newton had given me a bag of ice for my face and Esme had come running into the store like her ass was on fire. She had her cell to her ear within seconds of laying eyes on me. I tried to block out what was being said, between Mr. Newton’s constant apologies and Esme’s Italian, my headache was getting bigger and worse. It was only the screeching of car tires that caused everyone to go completely silent.

 

A/N: Thanks again to everyone who is commenting over on my face book page. It is such a thrill to see your ideas as to what will happen.

 

Recap…

 

Oh My Gosh! I need to know who the girl in the fur is. Clearly James has been fooling everyone including Edward. There has to be more to the story than what meets the eye. At face value, it seems the only secret was that Edward had called the hit on Jared, however, now it seems this is only the surface. My question…what will Edward do when he finds out, and we all know he will, and what he will do to James for this?

 

Cayce

 

  1. Chapter 25

 

Chapter 24

 

EPOV

 

“You’re an asshole, you know that?”

 

My sister was never one to mix words. She had no issue with telling me how she felt about the way I had decided to pursue Bella.

 

“She doesn’t know anything, Edward. She is a good person, far too good for your nasty ass.”

 

I knew this, I honestly battled with myself about that very issue. I knew she was a good girl, who deserved a man who could be honest with her and not worry about what kind of future he could give her. Esme reminded me that no man taking a breath today could guarantee the girl he desired a safe future.

 

“Rose, what do you want me to do? Tell her all our family secrets?”

 

Her body shifted and she placed her index finger into my face, “You should have thought about that before you let her near the other women in the family. Don’t think for a single second that they aren’t giving her a proper welcome by talking loud enough that she will hear all about your sexual deviances. You’ll be lucky if she still talks to you in the morning.”

 

I knew she was right and even though I tried to argue back and make excuses, I knew I was in an uphill battle. However, I never took no for an answer and I wouldn’t start with one Bella Swan.

 

I watched her as my father made toasts to new beginnings, both his and mine. How he welcomed Bella into the family, giving everyone who was listening, the official word that she was part of the inner circle. Keeping my eyes on her as she held her face just as stoic as ever. I wondered how many years it took her to prefect that? What secrets she held behind those big brown eyes of hers?

 

After dropping off Angela and Bella, I had more questions than answers. I needed to shut my brain off. I drove across town to the place I knew all too well. She always welcomed me, no questions asked, no shit about not coming around, or never calling. She allowed me to take without expecting anything.

 

The music was loud as I shut the door to my car and the street was wet with the late night rain that had fallen earlier. Several people huddled around a trash can that was housing a burning fire, even in the midst of summer, fire seemed essential to survival on the streets. I understood the need, my family was my fire. I didn’t bother knocking, she would never question me.

 

She was wrapped around another girl when I walked in, her eyes meeting mine and she smiled and nodded her head toward the back room. Pulling the red head who had her hands and mouth all over her skin. I followed without question, she would make the worry go away, let my mind rest. I closed the door behind me and shed my jacket. Tanya and the red head knelt on the floor, hands exploring each other, fingers wet with their juices. I watched as they continued to explore each other. Kissing, sucking, cries of pleasure, command to press harder, pump faster. Toys of various sizes and colors at their sides, used quickly and then discarded after their use no longer needed. I loved watching Tanya and all the other girls she had around. I never had to ask her to do anything, she always knew what I needed without asking.

 

The door squeaked behind me and the music grew louder as the door opened and two more girls entered, both completely naked, smiles on their lips and eyes glassed over from the chemical they had recently consumed. My attention turned back to Tanya and the red head who were now enjoying a long double sided toy, each girl rocking back and forth on it with cries of “more” and “fuck yeah.”

 

Wordlessly, the two new girls knelt below me unbuckling my belt, smiles and want on their faces. This was my passion, my ultimate pleasure. I craved having women on their knees in front of me, allowing my cock in their mouths, fighting over it, allowing me to shove it into whatever part of their body I wanted.

 

For as long as I can recall, I have craved this, hell, my dick would be hard from just thinking about a bitch on her knees. Tonight…tonight was different. I shook my head at the two dark haired girls on the floor. This all felt wrong to me; unnatural and dirty. These feeling frightened me. I wasn’t a man who could afford fear or for rumors to get out about me. I pushed the girl’s hands away and pretended I was answering a call.

 

Without a word to anyone, I rose from the chair and left the room with my cell to my ear. I knew Tanya would continue with what she had started, she would invite the two new girls into it and everyone would have a happy ending. With the rev of my engine, I pulled onto the street and headed to the place I really needed to be. I imagined she slept like the angel she was. Her dreams full of promises and desires. Did I make it into her dreams or did she save me for her nightmares? I watched as some late night partier laugh and stumble down the street, once they were a safe distance away, I started my engine and headed home. Bella was safely tucked into a warm bed, a bed I hoped to be invited into soon.

 

My house was silent and empty as I tossed my keys on the bar. Rubbing my hands over my face several times, hoping the motion would erase the shame I felt. I felt out of control, like a stranger watching my life from the outside. My father had told me many times that the right woman can shape you and make you the man you are supposed to be. I never believed him, choosing to make my own way. To be the person I felt I wanted to be, but in an instant, that thinking was questioned; its validity completely demolished.

 

The shrilling of my phone woke me. I fumbled to pull it from my jacket pocket. Looking at the screen, it was my mother, no doubt calling to find out what my next move would be. She had a plan, she always had a plan. If I was smart, I would listen to her.

 

“Yes, mom.”

 

“Edward, Mike called, those thugs came back and this time they roughed him up.”

 

I tried not to roll my eyes because Mr. Newton had a tendency to exaggerate.

 

“Not only that…..”

 

Her voice was now quivering and the sounds of a sob was enough to get me off my couch and headed out the door. I didn’t like for my mother to cry, this wasn’t about Mr. Newton anymore.

 

“…Bella was over there and one of them hit her.”

 

I didn’t wait to hear anymore as I tossed my phone into the passenger seat and pressed the accelerator to the floor. Whomever had done this had sealed his fate. He was a dead man; I would kill him personally. I didn’t even turn off my car as I hurried into Mr. Newton’s store, I knew all the answers I needed would be found inside.

 

“Show me the tapes.” I ordered as I pushed through the door.

 

Mike was cleaning up broken glass and crushed potato chips that was scattered all over the floor. He pointed to the counter, his face was badly bruised, and then immediately went back to sweeping not saying a word. Watching the small monitor, I saw James and the punks enter the store. The girl, from the street videos that Emmett had, was standing in the center of the action.

 

Next, I saw Bella entering the store and my fist clinched as she made her way to the back of the store. I heard every word James spoke as he shoved Mike in the back of his head. I watched as he taunted Bella with his words and his actions. Jasper had told us a few months back that he didn’t trust James, said it was too much of a coincidence that he was at the right place and the right time when the attempt on my father’s life was carried out. I didn’t want to believe he had betrayed my family, but with this video as evidence, it was clear he had shifted sides.

 

“Bella was only trying to help me.” Mr. Newton’s words caused me to look up. He now had a mop in his hand mopping up the spilt coffee.

 

“She busted that coffee pot over his head and he just…” He shook his head and I noticed the tears had started to fall.

 

“You have to…” he was so upset, but his eyes told me everything. I clasp his shoulder as I assured him. “I will do it personally.”

 

I entered my mother’s shop, well, now Bella’s, after sending a copy of the tapes to Emmett. Jasper was on his way to meet me and Emmett at the warehouse. My mom was pacing back and forth speaking loudly in Italian to someone on the phone. Our family physician was tending to Bella in the corner of the room, a large bruise was already forming on her perfect face.

 

“Edward.” Dr. Meyers tipped his head in my direction and Bella’s eyes were now locked on mine. I knew, in that moment, as he applied a dressing to the cut that ran across her cheekbone I wouldn’t rest until James had paid dearly for this. She winced with pain from the cleaning of her cut. James would feel so much more pain when I found him.

 

“Keep it iced and call me if you have any vision changes.”

 

Bella nodded her head reapplying the ice pack to her cheek. I couldn’t be here and not touch her anymore. I needed to find James, and yet, I wanted to wrap her protectively in my arms and take all the pain away. I turned kissing my mother quickly while she continued to talk, to who I assumed, was my father.

 

“Meet me at the warehouse,” I spoke quietly into her receiver. She touched my cheek and then nodded her head. She knew what I was about to do and I knew it wouldn’t be good enough in her eyes. She was the angriest I had ever seen her and it only fueled me more. With one last look at Bella, I made my way out of the store and to my car.

 

Beta:

 

*shudders and shakes head at Edward*

 

A/N:

 

STOP!

 

Before you toss your hands up and send me a nasty email for this chapter, remember…..Edward is a whore! This is not a surprise. HOWEVER, he is changing. Thank you to my beta, Kim, who turned this colossal mess into the readable page you just enjoyed. Join us over on my face book page for photos and teasers.

 

groups/434894866569951/

 

******stop reading if you dislike my recap. Thanks so much and see ya Thursday!******

 

Recap…

 

Not sure I like how Carlisle is following behind Edward in just throwing Bella into the family and not really giving her a choice. Again he knows more than he admits to, but it still bugs me. Interesting turn of events, when the thing that turns Edward on sexually made him uncomfortable. I know Kim will agree that Edward has a long way to go, but I can tell you that he will not let this rest. He is going to show Bella how he can take care of her…..or so he thinks!

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 26

 

Chapter 25

 

EPOV

 

My father pulled up at the same time I did, his phone to his ear, no doubt listening to my mother still. When we entered the warehouse, Emmett was behind his computer typing away on the keyboard, his eyebrows furrowed and his expression pained. The three punks from the surveillance tapes were tied to chairs in the corner. There was blood caked on their faces, two of them with their heads hung.

 

Jasper was in the other corner cleaning his gun, his actions were deliberate and calculated. He was a quiet one, and yet, a cold blooded killer. His father had handed him over to my uncle after his mother died, he was only three at the time. Uncle Aro raised him and taught him what he knew. Jasper was a natural with a gun, as if it was an extension of his body.

 

“Tell me what we have?” My father’s voice echoed off the brick walls, his call with my mom over. His anger matched mine; almost to a boiling point.

 

The screens on the wall came to life showing still pictures of what looked like James speaking with Alex Volturi. James knew that we were watching Alex and had positioned himself where it was hard to make out his face clearly.

 

“Boss, after you sent me the tapes from Newton’s, I pulled up the security from the other stores in the neighborhood.”

 

We watched as different angles of the street filled the screens. I seen when I arrived to pick up Angela and Bella, then dropping them back off, and then my car appearing again much later when I returned to watch her.

 

“I nearly stopped it here when I noticed your car, but I got a phone call before I could stop the tape. Good thing I didn’t.” Emmett commented as a black SUV pulled into the spot I had just

 

vacated. He pressed the tiny remote that was in his hand and another screen came to life. This time it was focused on the rear of the vehicle.

 

“I ran the license plate and the SUV is registered to a one Victoria Hunter.”

 

The only Victoria Hunter I knew was dead and buried. James still had flowers taken over to her grave every week, daisies. Said they were his wife’s favorite. Tori, as he always referred to her, was the only girl he claimed to ever love. He only mentioned her when he had too much to drink and how much he still cared about her and missed her. He kept no pictures or even his wedding band, I never asked, because frankly, I didn’t give a fuck.

 

“These three here confirmed that is was James in the video. They were all too eager to talk once Jasper began asking questions. They say James has been talking to Alex for a while now,

 

although, they had no clue as to his plans only that they were to cause trouble at places he told them to. Told them they were working for the Cullens.”

 

Looking at the three again. “The girl?” I questioned.

 

Emmett’s eyes were filled with frustration and determination.

 

“She’s a shady cunt. Always seems to know where the camera is pointing and avoids having her face on display. None of the hookers we have on payroll know her.”

 

I looked closely at the grainy photo that consumed the monitor. Her hair was like a curtain

 

concealing her face and her sunglasses were too big to see anything. This bitch had to have a name, she would fuck up and we would find her.

 

“Jasper, ask them who this bitch is.” My voice tight, I wanted answers and I wanted them right now.

 

“Second question I asked boss, said James only called her babe and she only called him Jamie. James never allowed them to talk to her and she was always on her phone and never spoke with them.”

 

Fucking useless.

 

“Son.” My father called for me. “This is your call, she is your desiderio.”

 

Bella was much more than the girl I desired. Just like my father before me, I had fallen completely in love with a girl who didn’t reciprocate my feelings. I wanted to change that, I would change that…starting now.

 

Walking over to where my father was standing, I turned and faced the men in the room, the inner circle, and the men we trusted beyond anything.

 

“We tell no one that we know what happened.” I looked at each man as I spoke the words, so they knew how serious I was.

 

“We make them think that Bella kept it quiet and didn’t report it. We make them think that we are unaware of what they have been doing.”

 

I knew my father was watching me closely; evaluating my every word and every move. He had given me all of the tools I needed to lead this family, I just needed the motivation to take the bull by the horns, and now James has given me all the motivation and focus I needed.

 

“Carlisle, call a meeting with Alex, make him think you have changed your mind on making me the head of the family.”

 

A sly grin slowly formed on his face, proof he was pleased with my decisions.

 

“Make sure that everyone including James attends.”

 

The more I spoke, the more the plan became firm in my mind. I would handle James and send a clear message to Alex. I was taking the lead in this family and showing both my father and Alex that I was ready to take that role. I would also send a clear message to Bella that she could count on me to take care of her and keep her safe. I would make my mother proud of the boy she helped to raise into a man.

 

“What do you want us to do with these guys?” Jasper questioned still cleaning his gun.

 

“We have no use for them and they spoke far too quickly to be trusted. Silence them for good.”

 

I called my mom and assured her that everything would be taken care of. She informed me that she had sent Bella upstairs to rest. I couldn’t help but to drive over and sneak in the back door, just to see for myself that my Bella was safe.

 

When I crawled into my bed later that night, I replayed that tape over and over in my head. The girl was just too familiar, something about her screamed I knew her from somewhere. The realization hit me hard. I should never allowed so many women in my bed. A regret I have to live with, because now, the one time I needed to remember a girl, I couldn’t.

 

It would never happen again…the next girl to warm these sheets with me would be Bella and I intended to keep it that way until my last breath.

 

A/N:

 

I can’t say enough how much I appreciate Kim and her hard work. She is my biggest cheerleader and my biggest ball buster. I thank each of you as well, you give me the desire to keep writing and to write better. Kim-Aww!…thanks Cayce. I enjoy helping you.

 

Recap….

 

So again, who the hell is the girl in the fur coat? It makes me a little nervous that Edward can’t remember her. The truck belongs to a dead girl? Things just got a whole lot crazier.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 27

 

Chapter 26

 

EPOV

 

Ten days….

 

Ten days of waiting.

 

Ten days of listening.

 

Ten days of learning.

 

I sat across from my father while he placed a call to Alex Volturi. He had the call on speaker and I had to bite my tongue as he expertly spun a web of lies. He told Alex that my lack of

 

devotion to the family had spearheaded his decision to discuss a possible combining of

 

resources.

 

Uncle Aro was losing the battle of holding in his laughter while my father spoke of my obsession for female companionship more than leading this family. Aro had called me one afternoon and asked me to have coffee with him. He informed me that he thought I was doing the right thing and that he had confidence I would not only keep our family strong, but that I would win the heart of the girl that had just walked into the shop across the street.

 

“I know calling Stephen was hard for you.”

 

Stephen was a cousin of sorts. Uncle Aro fell hard for a girl right before he met my aunt. She was a waitress in a diner located in the neighborhood. It was a quick fling and he found out she was actually married to a guy who was in the military. She broke it off with Aro when her husband came back home. Several year later, Aro has this kid knocking on his door claiming to be his son.

 

Seems the girl he had the fling with had passed away and left a letter for her son in her final

 

paperwork. Aro didn’t believe it at first, but after a blood test proved him to be blood related, Aro took him in. Stephen wanted nothing to do with the family. He wanted to be like the father that raised him and join the military. But after a few years in the desert, he came back and ask Aro for some help. Aro took care of him giving him the name of a hit man that we knew.

 

Stephen talked with the guy and then started a business of his own. I contacted him to have him watch Bella. Aro found him lurking on one of the rooftops across the street one evening. It

 

appeared Uncle Aro had taken a shining to my Bella and had been watching the store too. He called me when he found Stephen and I confirmed I had hired him.

 

“Nothing is hard when Bella is involved.” My eyes never left the front of her store.

 

I paid Stephen double to make certain nothing happened to Bella while we had our meeting. He thanked me and said that my Uncle had also given him money. My family’s actions only solidified that I was doing the right thing today.

 

“You know this entire situation reminds me of when Alex’s son came up dead in his apartment.”

 

Larkin Volturi was Alex’s one and only son. He was so much like me in the aspect that he loved women. Unlike me, he liked to cheat and steal from whomever and wherever he could. Alex had to bail him out of sticky situations many times.

 

It had been one of the coldest months in Chicago history when it happened. The tenants of a downtown high-rise were complaining to their super that the heating unit wasn’t working

 

correctly. The super hired a heating repair company to come out and what they found was

 

Larkin Volturi’s naked dead body stuck inside one of the heating units. It seemed he really pissed off someone as they tried to use the blades of the motor to tear him apart. Alex was quick to accuse me, but my father was quicker to put the cob ash on that one. Alex hired some top notched DNA expert to investigate the crime scene, but the only DNA they were able to obtain were that of Larkin and then a slightly different mutation of Larkin’s cells. Since Larkin was an only child, it was ruled an accident. Why he was on the roof top naked in below zero weather remains a mystery to this day.

 

When I was in my teens I was allowed to attend a meeting much like this one. I remember thinking my father was the toughest man in the entire world while he stood addressing the room full of very powerful men. Watching as several heads would nod in agreement with whatever he would say and how they followed him based on his word.

 

“As members of our respective families, we all understand the importance of honoring the code.”

 

As a grown man, I found myself holding the same admiration for him. He could still command a room like a general leading his troops.

 

“Just as the pirates of long ago, we have rules and when these rules are broken, it is our responsibility as leaders to punish the offender.”

 

Taking a glance over at James, who looked like a faded and tacky doll on the dash of an old car, bobbed his head in agreement. In a matter of minutes, that head would not be as agreeable.

 

“Today, we find ourselves in that very situation.”

 

I noticed Alex wore this sinister and amused look on his face. Oh, how that look would change as well. My father had drilled into me the importance of adhering to the code as he called it. He told me over and over that if I failed him, he would have to do something that would kill him. I swore to him more than once that I would never betray him. To kill one’s own child would go against every instinct, yet as the family leader, my father would be forced to do just that.

 

“James.” My father called. Startled, he slowly rose from his seat beside me. The son-of-a-bitch thought he was being placed in a higher position.

 

“James, you have shown your loyalty to my family, performed tasks that you may have felt

 

beneath you, but you carried them out regardless.” My father played his part so well, even

 

wrapping his arm around James’ shoulders and giving a tight hug.

 

“It’s been my honor, sir.”

 

My father turned toward Alex Volturi. His eyes gleamed with delight. Alex had convinced

 

himself that this was going his way. I rose from my chair and walked quietly to stand behind a completely clueless James.

 

“You’ve been busy my friend.” My words were clear and echoed off the brick walls that surrounded us.

 

With my eyes fixed on the back of James’ head, I motioned to Jasper who was standing against a far wall. A large white screen started its decent from the high ceiling covering the red brick in its path. My eyes never left the man who had betrayed me.

 

The room was quiet and only the sounds of Emmett’s fingers tapping out commands on his keyboard could be heard. The lights dimmed and the white screen came to life.

 

“Tell me this isn’t you, talking with several of Alex’s men, paying them for services my father didn’t ask for.”

 

James knew better than to look away from my father’s eyes. Alex Volturi suddenly looked like he had consumed some bad shellfish at a discount buffet.

 

The screen changed to another photo of James and Alex talking and smoking weed with girls dancing around them.

 

“Tell me this was just a coincidence that you patronized a club well known to be owned by the Volutri family.”

 

My father moved to stand beside me leaving James facing Alex; their eyes showing no emotion.

 

“Now tell me this isn’t you selling a shipment of guns from my warehouse to Alex.”

 

Emmett had changed to video now showing clear images of the two laughing and smoking

 

behind a building. James was bragging about how my father had become a soft old man, who was too stupid to see what was right under his own nose. How I am the bastard child of poor

 

upbringing and too lost in a warm snatch to see what was happening to my seat of power. Guns were being carried from the warehouse to an awaiting van by the thugs that have been hired by James.

 

“We will make a fine team.” Alex admitted in the final frame of the video. Emmett paused the video freezing the image of the two shaking hands over their new deal.

 

“Just so you know, your new posse couldn’t rat you out fast enough.” My words were full of vengeance and I relished in watching him swallow hard.

 

“Now James, I can overlook your desire to make a place for yourself in the world. I completely understand a man’s need for a good living, but I don’t have the understanding for planned and calculated betrayal.” My father turned his back taking the seat that I was sitting in.

 

I unbuttoned my jacket holding my hands causally in front of me. James slowly turned around facing me.

 

“You really thought I wouldn’t find out?”

 

James went to open his mouth and I quickly slapped his face like the pussy assed bitch he was.

 

“That wasn’t a fucking question!” A trickle of blood ran from the corner of his lip.

 

“Carlisle was right, a man needs to earn his way in life. I can ignore the bullshit comments you make about me and even my father.”

 

I motioned to Emmett who changed the screen to go black grabbing James’ attention. The photos of the men James had hired to rough up the neighborhood started scrolling across the screen

 

finally landing on a picture I hadn’t seen. It was of Bella and Angela sitting at an outside

 

restaurant at what looked to be Navy Pier. More pictures flashed across the screen-James

 

looking at my girl, blowing her a kiss, then lastly a picture of distaste for the jester written all over her face. A look, that I thanked god, have never seen on her. Then the screen switched to the video of the day that brought all of this about. With clinched teeth, I watched as Bella walked to the center of Newton’s store and then hit James shattering the coffee pot against his face. How he hit her in the face like a man who owed him money, then the look of complete

 

enjoyment as he spit on the floor beside her body.

 

Alex chose that moment to stand up crossing the room quickly to where I was standing.

 

“Is she an untouchable?” His tone disbelieving; he was grasping at straws.

 

Carlisle was out of his seat along with three of our men. His body wedged between James and Alex. Both my father and I confirming for him.

 

For as long as I could remember, that title and its meaning had carved a steel cage in my soul. No matter the circumstances or reasons, once a person, usually a woman, is labeled as untouchable, it’s a death sentence to cause harm to them. Carlisle had only given that title to three women in his life. My two mothers and Rose. Jessica wanted it, Tanya had mentioned it, but it was Bella who received the label from me. Even if Bella walked away from me tonight, she would always be protected. Even I couldn’t cause her harm.

 

“How the fuck was I supposed to know…”

 

James picked the wrong time to show he still had a set of balls. Jasper was across the room quicker than I could blink, pounding his fists into James’ face. The force of the hits were so

 

severe that James’ head shot straight back with every punch. Emmett played the video of the meeting where it was announced that Bella was given that title. With blood now running like

 

water from his broken nose he tried to hide his face, but Jasper continued to slap him like I had, forcing him to focus on the screen.

 

“You think just because you let Edward fuck your pussy that you can do what you want around here? He fucks a lot of pussy, yours isn’t special.”

 

Watching James talk to Bella in such a disgusting way made me want to end his life right this second. But that would have been too good for him, he would pay dearly for what he had done to her.

 

“You knew exactly what she was and you chose to not only speak to her like some whore, but to strike her like a man. Tell me James, did it bother you more that she passed you up more than once, or that she was going to be someone who could give you orders?”

 

The thing about being an untouchable, is not only are you protected, but you have the power to tell any one of the men in the family to do something. If my mother wanted her security detail to polish her kitchen floor, they would drop to their knees and start cleaning. She would never use this type of power for such a thing, but when she had told my father about Zippy and the illegal apartment he was operating she had used that authority given to her. Bella didn’t know it at the time, but she could have asked any man that worked for us to handle James for her and they would with great pleasure.

 

“Wait…We haven’t heard of any untouchables added to the family.” Alex spoke, his hand raised as a warning to my men that stood beside my father. The single word that fell from my father’s lips were enough to cause Alex to show his defeat.

 

“Siobhan.”

 

Siobhan was a young girl who Alex pursued. He was also very married at the time.

 

Unfortunately the young girl didn’t return his feelings, although, he didn’t give up so easily. He went ahead and gave her the untouchable title, but only informed his closest men. Alex’s wife found out about his pursuit and ordered one of his men to kill her. The guy made it look good and Alex thought for a while that her death was not family related. However, Alex tried to cheat the guy in a deal he had made, so the kid came to my father wanting revenge. At the same time, Alex’s wife was sick of his shit and admitted what she did. He demanded that my father honor the code and kill the man that now worked for us. Carlisle had no choice and fired the bullet.

 

Alex hung his head as he nodded his agreement. Not knowing about Bella being an untouchable wasn’t a justification for what had happened.

 

When I turned eighteen, Uncle Aro gave me a hand gun. He told me when it came time for me to shoot, to shoot with a purpose, and not show off for a short skirt or to make my balls look bigger to the men.

 

Taking that very gun out of its holster, I aimed and pulled the trigger. The loud bang of the .45 filled the room followed by the clinking of the empty shell bouncing off the concrete floor. James’ body, as if in slow motion, fell with a single bullet hole in the center of his still opened eyes. His body landed on the cold concrete floor with several chunks of brain matter lying around his head. Placing my gun back in my jacket, I leaned over and spit on his face.

 

“Get this son of a bitch out of my sight before he stinks up the place.”

 

Turning, I took out my cell phone. “Oh and Jasper, I want this motherfucker found. I want to send a clear message to everyone that this family won’t be fucked with.”

 

Beta Note:

 

This chapter took me a little longer than normal to beta, not sure why. Just trying to make it flow better for Cayce. As usual, if you see any mistakes or something doesn’t mesh, please let us know. ~~~Kim Roland-Edwards (Kimmie43)

 

Recap….

 

So, now does everyone want to stand up and cheer that James is dead/ However for me, this chapter gives me one more question. The death of Alex’s son…what’s the deal with the slight variation of DNA? Why wasn’t that investigated? Again as Edward said, why would you be on a high rise building naked when it’s freezing outside. Edward wants to send a message, can’t wait to see what it says.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 28

 

Chapter 27

 

BPOV

 

I never questioned why the police weren’t called after the attack. Never voiced my opinion on the way Edward was called instead of an ambulance. How a private physician was able to arrive near minutes after being called, having everything needed to tend to my injuries. I never spoke of the man, who I saw sitting across the street at three in the morning, as I changed the locks on my front door, so none would know I did. I never said anything about the way people on the street moved quickly out of my way as I walked down the street. Never mentioned to Esme or Angela how I would find Edward sitting in his car across the street watching the shop and my home, and how he would meet with one of two men several times a day.

 

I would never speak of the white envelope that was passed to the dark haired man that watched from the roof, once from Edward and once from the older man that Edward spoke with. I doubt that anyone knew that Carlisle had been speaking with the man too, passing him additional envelopes. I kept my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open, knowing this was far from over.

 

Nearly two weeks after the incident, I was getting the back ready for a large delivery. Esme had been slowly moving her things out of the shop. This was another thing I never said anything about, how she took so long to remove her things after she sold it to me so quickly and from my research, so cheap. On one of those late nights that sleep would avoid me, I took to the internet, google informed me that the property to the left of me, that was nearly a thousand square feet less than my store, sold for over a million dollars.

 

Esme was leaving behind a few pieces in my office, including the flat screen that hung on the wall. She insisted that it would cause more damage to have it pulled down then it was worth, just another thing I chose not to bring up. Today Esme was watching a talk show about older women pursuing younger men. She would make a comment from time to time about seasoned wine or something to the fact. However, just as the delivery guy came into the shop, the sounds of the local news channel music came blaring through the speakers.

 

“We have breaking news, Chicago police have been called to a construction site where workers found the body of James Hunter. Hunter is a known member of one of Chicago’s crime families. Detective Stewart is about to make a statement. We take you now live with Katie Moon who has been following the story.”

 

My attention was now on the TV where the anchor man began speaking to a beautiful blonde reporter who was holding a black microphone. The scene behind showed many reporters trying to get a shot of what was unfolding. She thanked the anchor whose name I didn’t catch. This Katie explained how they were informed when construction workers had arrived on the new high-rise going up on the site of what was once a mattress factory. She added that Twilight Construction had been rehabbing many old and rundown buildings in the city and turning them into places to live or for businesses. She then abruptly stopped her story when a tall man dressed in a suit began to speak.

 

“At approximately seven forty five this morning, James Hunter’s body was found by a team of workers preparing to start their work day. Workers reported they had suspended a welder the night before, however, the welder was found secured to the security building and Mr. Hunter’s body was hanging in its place.”

 

A scattering of voices were heard as each reporter wanted to ask a question.

 

“You said he was hanging from a crane, can you give any other details?”

 

Detective Stewart cleared his throat while looking at the reporter, “Yes, Hunter was placed upside down with his genitals having been burned off and his tongue removed. He was completely naked and a single gunshot to the center of his head. We cannot speculate on the sequence of his injuries.”

 

The crowd again began to fight for the Detective’s attention, a question about Hunter’s list of known crimes.

 

“The Chicago Police Department has recently been in partnership with the FBI and the DEA, a line of criminal activity that Mr. Hunter was wanted in question for. The most recent was a murder scene where his finger prints were positively identified at a crime scene in a small coastal town in Washington. We have been able to confirm his involvement in several other murders from Washington to Texas. With his death, it will be a comfort to the victim’s families knowing the killer has been dealt with.”

 

Another reporter quickly caught his attention. “Can you comment on why such brutal treatment of Mr. Hunter?”

 

Detective Stewart only straightened his stance as he replied, “Mr. Hunter was involved with several known underground crime families. By finding him in the manner we did, it is clear to the law enforcement community that someone, more than likely the person he crossed, wanted to send a clear and powerful message.”

 

I heard Esme slamming her hand on her desk hitting the mute button and silencing the remaining commentary.

 

“Motherfucker got off too fucking easy!”

 

I scooted to a far wall and placed my back against it. I had no doubt that the message was meant for me, a clear warning, that if I opened my mouth or tried to go against the family, I would find the same fate. Now the reason for Esme sticking around was clearer. She was keeping an eye on me, insuring I didn’t talk to the police or anyone else.

 

“Excuse me.” The voice of the delivery man pulled me from my impending panic attack, jumping slightly and placing my best fake smile on my face.

 

“Sorry Miss, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

 

I had no idea if he worked for the family or not, but I wasn’t going to take a chance. Walking over to him, I shifted my eyes to his clipboard and took a pen from my apron. I would give no reason for any questions to come my way. I signed as I thanked him loudly enough that both Esme and Angela heard when they came out of the office into the hallway.

 

“Oh, Tyler, how is your family? I heard your mother had to have her gallbladder removed?”

 

When Esme began to chat up like he was an old family friend, it only confirmed to me that he was close to the family. I started to unpack the boxes he had delivered. When I sat the last box down, I looked over to the floor boards where I had recently discovered the secret they held. Maybe I needed to have something of my own hidden about.

 

“Hey Bella, I have an idea.” Angela was standing beside Esme holding a white styrofoam cup in her hand, most likely drinking coffee.

 

“Let’s go and have pedicures done.” She suggested excitedly.

 

“Oh, that’s a great idea! There’s that place over on Highland, Mimi’s Nails. They even give you a glass of wine while they work on your toes.”

 

I was never one of those girls who enjoyed being polished, primped or plucked. However, with the recently enlightenment I had been given, I knew the decision was never mine.

 

“Sure Ang, that sound great.”

 

That night, while I sat in my complete darkened home, I tried to find the man who was always positioned on the roof across the street, only to come up empty. Maybe even gang members got the night off once in a while.

 

Beta Note:

 

Um….Wow, Bella, that is quite the theory you have. *forehead his desk* A bit paranoid? ~~~Kim

 

Recap…..

 

Well….I know Edward wanted to send a message, but not the one that was received. Poor Bella, I can’t imagine how frightened she must be. Losing sleep and watching out your window at night like that. We’re still no closer to knowing who the fur coat lady is. Can’t wait to see how Edward will smooth this one over.

 

  1. Chapter 29

 

Chapter 28

 

BPOV

 

Mimi’s Nails was everything I imagined it to be. Black leather pedicure chairs lined against not only three of the four walls, but row after row in the center. There had to be at least forty that I could easily see.

 

“Good morning ladies.” The nasally receptionist greeted us from behind the long desk. Her hair was a bouffant mess and reminded me of the diner works of the late fifties and sixties.

 

“Morning, we have appointments under Cullen.”

 

The mention of the last name had the bright red-headed lady quickly moving. She took a look over her shoulder snapping her acrylic finger nails getting the attention of two anorexic looking girls who rushed over to her.

 

“Girls, give these ladies the works; they are the personal guests of Mrs. Cullen.”

 

I doubt if the first lady herself walked in right now would cause the girls to move faster or smile brighter. We were immediately ushered to a set of chairs where they were already filled with colorful water and had glasses of wine and a plates of fruit. Angela slipped her sandals off and crawled right in, easing her toes into the bubbling water. I smiled at the overly eager young girl and repeated her actions.

 

Angela closed her eyes and was moaning like she was in the middle of an orgasm. One of the girls handed me a glass of wine and a heated towel wrap for my neck. She excused herself and told me she would let me relax for a few minutes but would return. I have to admit, the water felt great and the chair massage did feel really good against my back. But the fact that Esme was a regular and had called in for us, making me an associate and therefore getting “the works” as the red-haired lady called it, caused me to be stiffer than when I walked in.

 

“Next time, we can have a hot stone message instead.” Angela moaned as she took a sip of her wine. I sat my glass down as the thought of drinking before noon just didn’t appeal to me. I tried to close my eyes and let the warm water that swirled around my toes relax me, but I couldn’t help but look around at the other ladies in the salon. It also didn’t escape my attention that the chairs we were placed in were situated in a manner that you couldn’t really see us from the entrance or from most of the other chairs in the large room. I did notice there were four chairs that the backs of our chairs lined up against.

 

In one of the brief times I did manage to close my eyes, a group of girls had been seated behind us. I glanced over at Angela who also noticed the new additions, however, her eyes were fixed on the girl behind us.

 

“Fuck me.” Angela whispered and motioned for me to look behind us. As stealthily as possible, I turned and noticed a dark-haired girl sitting beside a blonde. I remembered the dark-haired girl from the day at the shop when Jessica demanded to have flowers and Esme told her they were on the house. She had left the shop just after Esme came in.

 

“You know, Jasper said that he didn’t go to Vegas with them this time.”

 

The blonde beside her was tapping away on her phone, not looking up as she responded, “I haven’t seen him in weeks.”

 

“He was really quiet in church this week, he didn’t even stick around for the blessing.”

 

“He’s been sending one of the other guys with the delivery since the last time I saw him.” The blonde returned.

 

“Something is up. Jasper said he hasn’t been to Haides since he found Jessica in the bathroom.”

 

I knew they had to be talking about Edward. Why else would Angela want me to pay attention? I wanted to turn back around and get the hell out of there, but I knew that would be a bad move.

 

“Marcus said he hasn’t been to the flower shop to visit Esme since she sold it.”

 

“Why would he? She sold it, for a fucking steal I heard.”

 

“Yes, but she does and we both know that Carlisle and Esme love her. I would have thought she would have been on his arm by now.” The blonde spat out like she was about to vomit.

 

“Well, Jessica said that Bella told her that she wasn’t interested in him.”

 

They were clearly talking about me. Were there no secrets in this group? I had saved Jessica that night and she ran and told people I don’t know about it.

 

“Are you fucking serious, Alice? He’s single, rich and has a fucking dick. What’s not to like?”

 

“She’s completely stupid, Tanya. What happens when that cute little shop of hers gets broken into? She’ll regret ever turning her nose up at him.”

 

“That might be a good thing.”

 

Alice turned her body so she was almost facing Tanya. “Why do you say that?”

 

Neither girl turned to look around and see if anyone was listening. I was suckered in, hoping to learn of any threats that may be headed my way.

 

“Well…if she were to get ruffed up a little, it might be enough to scare her away.”

 

“So…”

 

“Think about it Alice, if he is holding a torch for her like I think he is, then he’s going to keep his distance. He won’t be able to offer her protection, Carlisle would never allow it.”

 

“I hadn’t thought of that.”

 

“And….if she were to get scared enough, she might just sell the shop and go back to wherever she came from.

 

“And this is where you come in?” Alice questioned.

 

“Exactly. I’ve been his shoulder to cry on for years now. I know he thinks this girl is his one true love or something. But…I would be perfect. I know when to shut my mouth and when to look the other way. As long as he keeps me in a nice house with a steady flow of cash, then he could have as many girls on the side as he wanted. Hell, he could keep Jessica for all I care.”

 

“Maybe you could bed him together.” Alice chuckled.

 

“Wouldn’t be the first time.” Tanya responded, her words full of truth.

 

“So, what’s the plan?”

 

“Well…Bella has done the hard part by removing herself from the equation. I plant a little something in his drink. I still have that friend that works for that baby doctor. I can get those pills that make you ready to have a baby. I take them, have sex while he is sedated and bam…nine months later, I give him the heir to the throne.”

 

“What if he denies the baby?”

 

“Do you really think Esme or Carlisle would let that happen?”

 

“You have a point.”

 

“And I know just the place to do this.”

 

My mind was in a whirlwind. He thought of me as his…love? How the fuck did he do that? He had sent me a warning to keep my mouth shut and just as confusing as what I’d just heard, was the realization that if this Tanya and Alice succeeded in what they had planned, this would completely free me. This was my chance to get out of this. To be free of the situation I had unintentially landed in. I could sell the shop and move to another country this time.

 

Turning my attention back to Angela I seen she had her phone out and was calling someone.

 

“Esme…its Angela. I have to talk to you about Edward.”

 

She was talking in hushed tones and looking around her to see if the girls were listening.

 

“The bitch is up to something.” She looked at me and then continued to talk. “No, Bella heard everything.”

 

I couldn’t believe Angela had called Esme. This would cause a huge obstacle in their plans, plans that would benefit me in the end.

 

“Come on Bella, Esme wants us to meet her at the office downtown.” She was already drying her feet off and chugging the last of her wine from her glass.

 

“Wait…what?” I whisper shouted.

 

“Listen Bella, I’ve told you that Esme is like a mother to me. She gave me a chance when even my own parents didn’t want me. Edward is like my brother and I will be damned if I let someone as vicious as that girl hurt him.”

 

I didn’t have time to think as she pulled me out of the chair and out the door. She tossed money on the counter and told the girl to keep the change.

 

Angela drove like a bat out of hell, weaving in and out of traffic. I held on as she nearly missed several cars and even a large truck. Suddenly she pulled into a narrow driveway and hit the brakes. I wasn’t able to take in where I was as Angela pulled me up the massive steps, taking two at a time, until we reached the heavy metal sliding door where two men in suits were standing on each side.

 

One of them nodded at Angela opening the massive door.

 

“Hey Eric, Esme is….”

 

He held up his hand interrupting her. “Everyone is waiting for you two.”

 

The condition of the building reminded me somewhat of a property that had been burned down, and I internally questioned how the brick and mortar held up against the winds of Chicago.

 

Once inside, we walked down a long hallway to a door at the end where a single light bulb swung slightly as it illuminated the door. I felt like prison guards should be following me shouting “dead woman walking,” leading me down the green mile.

 

Once we opened the door, it was like walking into another world. Everything was different. The huge room looked to be once a bath house. In front of me was a wall of frosted glass, water travelled its way to a large pool in the floor. The tiny bubbles played gently along the edges as the lights sent their beams dancing off the bottom. It was hard to believe that this was hidden behind the decaying exterior and intimidating guards.

 

I could hear what I assumed to be a television playing in the next room. Angela led me around the glass wall of water where I found Esme and Edward sitting on a sofa. Esme was dress to the nines as usual, however, Edward was in jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt, bare foot, and his entire body seemed completely relaxed. Edward’s eyes found me and he slowly stood walking towards me. He first said hello to Angela and then, as if I couldn’t get shocked any further, he leaned in and gently kissed my cheek.

 

“I’m glad you’re here sweetheart, it’s time we had a talk.”

 

Recap….

 

Okay, I can’t say I wouldn’t have thought the same thing that Bella did in this situation. Call me crazy, but I do feel bad for Edward. Yes, he may be an ass, but to be betrayed like that, by yet another person he kept close to him. I now have even more questions than answers…..what can possibly go wrong next?

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 30

 

Chapter 29

 

EPOV

 

Angela joined my mother on the sofa with her cell phone already out. Jasper was called as soon as I heard that Alice was involved. Emmett had been with me when I got the call, he was giving me shit for my lack of involvement since the James incident. The truth being, even if Bella didn’t know of my feelings, I couldn’t bring myself to participate like I once did. Hell, even my libido was flat. Emmett took the phone from Angela and in two quick seconds, the video she had recorded was playing for everyone to see. While listening, I lead Bella by the hand that I was still holding onto when I kissed her cheek to the other sofa taking a seat. I made Emmett replay the tape, listening as Tanya informed Bella of my feelings.

 

In all the men I have killed and the crimes I have committed, this is the one thing I regret. I should have been the one to tell her how I felt. I should have taken the balls, that I protest to have, and used them to be honest and let her know where I stood. Instead, she had to find out from a high school dropout, drug dealing, confused about her sexuality, gold digging whore like Tanya. I had confided in her and trusted the wrong people. A mistake I would not make again. Tanya would be dealt with, she like James, had attempted to harm an untouchable.

 

Jasper entered the room just as the second viewing of the tape completed. Alice was hanging back typing on her cell phone.

 

“So, did you get the whole thing? He questioned Angela.

 

I glanced over at Bella to see her breathing had become sharp, her eyes wide and her pupils dilated. She was trying so hard to hide her fear. It was time to let her in.

 

“Bella, can I speak with you privately?” I whispered into her ear. The smell of her perfume, light and clean, was refreshing. It didn’t burn my nose like the other girls I had been with did.

 

I rose to my feet pulling her with me. I knew I could take her by the window and still be able to hear what was going on. I didn’t wait for her answer while I excused myself.

 

“Bella, can you look at me please?”

 

The back of the building looked over a quiet garden, well, what I would call a garden, it was nothing like the gardens my mother worried over, but it was a good place to see the seasons change. Bella was focused on the white benches that faced a sculpted fountain that my mother had found in a warehouse our construction company was about to tear down. She had the crew load it up and bring it here. She spent weeks restoring and getting it in working order.

 

Bella slowly looked up at me. I loved how beautiful and expressive her big brown eyes were. “Listen, I know you’re confused and possibly a little scared right now, but if you would just hear me out, I promise to make everything clear.”

 

She didn’t respond, just continued looking up at me.

 

“Alice has accused Tanya of being after me for a while now, however, Tanya was the one person in my life that never asked anything of me. Never wanted me to change who or what I am for her. Hell, she never even asked for money, which in my world is huge. Every woman I have ever encountered has wanted something from me, usually money, but Tanya never asked, hell, she never asked for anything.

 

“Who is Alice to you?”

 

I was startled by her question. I had forgotten she wasn’t as involved with this family as I would like her to be. I smiled as I looked into those deep eyes of hers, I was wrong, Bella had never asked anything of me either.

 

“Alice is Jasper’s girlfriend…fiancee…whatever, depending on what day it is. Her father was a close associate to my father. When he died several years ago, Jasper stepped in. He made sure Alice had what she needed. Their relationship isn’t your typical couple. They make it work though.”

 

I was waving my hands around by the time I was finished, when Bella hit the nail on the head regarding mine and Tanya’s relationship.

 

“Tanya is a prostitute.” Her voice wasn’t judging, only factual.

 

“Basically. She does other things for me, but that is the gist of our relationship.” For the first time ever, I felt ashamed of admitting I had paid for a sexual act.

 

“But now she wants more. I mean she wants to be in a real relationship with you, as real as she can fathom.”

 

I gave her a questioning look, her comment not sitting well with me.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

There was this one time my mom did something my father didn’t like. He raised his voice and told her that if she did something like that without his consent again, she would regret doing it. She gave him the same look that Bella was giving me now. My mother pointed her index finger in my father’s chest and told him he should remember she was his wife and not one of his men. She would do things how she saw fit. That unless it was immoral, he was the last person to call her on something.

 

“Edward, people are a product of their environment. They recreate what they see. They learn to survive by watching the world around them. Tanya knows that a man such as yourself is going to do and be who he wants to be. Nothing she will say or do will change that. She can either join the program or take a new class. Since this lifestyle you share is the only one she knows, it’s easier to let you call the shots. She isn’t bothered by having to share you with other people, other women, as she said to Alice. You can do whatever you want as long as she has the life she wants. She already knows you’ll agree to that.”

 

I had nothing to say, she was absolutely correct. She understood how things were regardless of the fact she hadn’t been around the situation. I didn’t have to look at my mother to know she was smiling. She had told me that Bella was different, that she would challenge me, change me, and make me a better man.

 

“You know, this is the second time I have found that I should have listened to the women in my life. Alice was on spot about Tanya and my mom…”

 

Bella looked behind her at Esme and then back to me.

 

“What about Esme? What was she right about?”

 

That was the million dollar question, one I would rather part with the money then to answer it. But this wasn’t an option and I had to take control of the situation and do something about getting this extraordinary woman in the center of my life.

 

“My mother told me that you’re a person I should have around. You’re the type of girl I should have by my side.”

 

With a deep breath and all the confidence I could muster I began to plead my case.

 

“Listen Bella, I know you heard what Tanya said about how I feel about you. She was telling the truth. I have come to care for you quite deeply. I know you see the tough guy that everyone in this room knows, but I want you to know the guy that thinks you’re incredible. The guy who pictures what our kids would look like. The guy who has turned into a complete pussy when it comes to going after what he wants. You make me question what I want from life, from a relationship. Actually, you make a lot of things pretty clear for me.”

 

Her eyes never left mine as she took in everything I had just said. I wanted her to just throw her arms around me and profess that she loved me as much as I loved her. To beg me to whisk her off to my bed and love her until she couldn’t breathe.

 

“Edward, I can appreciate what you’re saying. It doesn’t change the fact that we are two different people from two different worlds. You have to know I will never compromise on my hopes and dreams. I will never change what I expect from the man in my life. I don’t turn a blind eye or accept a new Tiffany’s bracelet when you cancel at the last minute. I don’t just jump into bed with random guys or more importantly with multiple people.”

 

I took her hand pulling her closer. She admitted nothing I didn’t already know. Still, I wanted her, not just to warm my bed or suck me off, but to call me on my bullshit. To make me feel bad when I had to change our plans, to give me a reason to get up in the morning, and an even bigger one, to come to bed each night.

 

“Bella, I would never ask you to do anything you were completely uncomfortable with or any more than you are willing to give.”

 

She nodded her head before turning to look at Esme and Angela. Rose had joined the group and was watching the tape with Emmett.

 

“Can I ask you a question and have you answer me truthfully?”

 

I didn’t even have to think about it, so I quickly answered yes.

 

“Are you happy with your life?”

 

My eyes flashed to hers, no one has ever questioned me on my happiness. Everyone has always assumed that because I did what I wanted I must be happy. Hell, I never even questioned myself.

 

“Depends on your definition of happy.” I responded.

 

“Only you can define it Edward. Are you happy with the way your life is at this moment?”

 

“Does my life include you?” It was the only question I wanted answered. The only part of my life that I wasn’t sure of.

 

“That depends.” Her response was quick and whispered.

 

“On?” I retorted.

 

“Edward, you have to know that I would be everything you hate about women.” She furrowed her brows showing her frustration.

 

“Impossible, I love women.”

 

“Exactly!” she exclaimed.

 

I could see it on her face that she had an entire spiel ready if she needed it. She was about to give me a hundred things I would have to change about myself in order to be with her. Little did she know, I was willing to do every single one.

 

“You love the fact that women flock to you. You love the fact that most women know the rules and are willing to follow them in order to have a piece of you. You take that understanding and use it to fit your needs. That is who Edward Cullen is, who he will be until his last breath. I, on the other hand, am not going to blow smoke up your ass and tell you it’s Christmas. I will not sit at home and pine for you. I won’t have you buying me a condo or throwing cash and gifts at me only to have me when you want me. I don’t have the tolerance for bullshit that you seem to need in order to be happy. I wouldn’t be happy with just a piece of you. I would have to have the whole thing.”

 

Of all the things I thought she was going to say, having to have all of me, wasn’t anywhere on the list.

 

“Sweetheart, you’ve had all of me since the first cup of coffee we shared. All of the things you just listed about me have found a resting place in my past. If you could just give me a clean slate, prove to you that I’m being honest with you, I swear I could make us both very happy.”

 

I waited and watched as Bella searched my face. I couldn’t place the look she was trying so hard to mask. I didn’t know what the battle was she had raging on in that head of hers, but I would do everything I could to chase the demons away.

 

“Alright Edward, I’ll give you the clean slate, but we take this at my speed. No jumping me at the first opportunity.”

 

I smiled and pulled her into my arms, her body was so stiff and ridged, I’d have to work on that. I kissed the top of her head looking over and seeing the pure joy on my mother’s and sister’s faces. Wrapping my arm around her waist, we walked back over to the rest of the family.

 

“Edward, we have to make Tanya think that Bella isn’t interested in you. You’re going to have to keep this.” Rose pointed between Bella and me. “On the down low.”

 

“She plans on using my engagement party as the opportunity to pull off her plan. You have to invite her as your plus one. She already knows that Jessica is history, so that shouldn’t be an issue.”

 

Looking down at Bella, I seen the same concerned look as before.

 

“As long as Bella knows that nothing is going to happen with Tanya. I’m not risking my current standing with her, regardless of the reason.”

 

Caressing her cheek with my thumb, I tried to assure her that this gift she had given me was important to me. When she smiled at me, I wanted to be overjoyed, but I could tell this wasn’t a real smile for her; her eyes told me she was being guarded. I would work hard to change that. She deserved to be happy every second of the day…I would make that happen.

 

Beta Note:

 

I’m going to answer a question you might have that I had for Cayce.

 

“Whose engagement party?” Rose and Emmett’s

 

“Already? Didn’t they just get together?” They’ve been pining for each other for long time. During the story thus far, after Emmett told E about him wanting to be with Rose, they have been seeing each other. It’s just not noted throughout the story.

 

Recap:

 

Oh Edward. Why can’t you just be completely honest with her? And Bella is no better, she is choosing to live in fear when she could just leave the situation or tell him to piss off…Cayce

 

Exactly!~Kim

 

  1. Chapter 31

 

Chapter 30

 

BPOV

 

I looked deeply into his eyes as he spoke of the desire to change everything of himself…for me. I listened as he plotted with his family as to what would happen during Rose’s engagement party. How he would simply tell Tanya that he wanted to change their relationship. Everyone had an input as to how to make certain the drug would never make it to his system. I felt his hand as he caressed my knuckles and I felt his chin as he placed a number of kisses to my temple and the top of my head. Esme looked at us with such pride and contentment. Had I not known of the real reason for all of this, I may have been touched.

 

Edward did not know that I had heard his warning. I feared the man who sat beside me. Afraid to disagree with him, yet eager to prove him wrong. The twisted, sick part of it consumed me and I wanted to believe him. I knew that a man capable of having the type of control Edward possessed also had extreme passion. A passion that I knew would consume me.

 

Angela wanted to stop at the dress shop that had her wedding dress. She still owed money on it and had to make a payment today. Edward wanted to order dinner in and have some time together, but I reminded him that we had to keep up appearances. You just never knew who was watching. Esme insisted on tagging along as she wanted to look at dresses too.

 

“Bella, are you alright?” Esme asked as I pushed dress after dress to the side as I half heartily looked for one.

 

“Yes, of course, just tired.”

 

Esme took my hand from the pale green monstrosity I had landed on.

 

“Look at me.” Her voice was soft, but held authority to it.

 

“You are so much like me.” She sighed shaking her head.

 

“You are holding back, I can see it. That’s good, you know?”

 

I gave her a questionable look while trying desperately to build my walls back up.

 

“Come, I know a great restaurant not far from here. It’s time you heard how I met Edward’s father.”

 

An hour and a half later and two empty wine glasses, I sat across from Esme with a completely different opinion of her. Gone was the image of a bored house wife who was given something to do in owning a business. Replaced by a woman who made a very powerful man fall to his knees and beg for her attention.

 

“So, as you can see, by denying him as you have, you have shown him that you will accept nothing less than to be his equal, just as I did his father.”

 

Esme ordered another drink for each of us assuring me she would call for a car to drive us both home.

 

“This is far too important a conversation to have without a little liquid courage to loosen us both up and perhaps open your eyes to my son’s true intentions.”

 

She admitted of all the times she and Carlisle had warned Edward that his past with women would catch up to him.

 

“I swear Bella, half of the reason we have a personal physician on staff is to keep Edward disease free.”

 

Maybe it was the alcohol or maybe it was the feeling that she was being completely honest with me, but I felt as if something had shifted. I still believed that Edward had killed the man who attacked me as a warning to keep me quiet, but now I questioned if she even knew he was responsible. The news had reported that James had worked for an organized crime family and I wondered just how many of them existed in Chicago. I didn’t dare ask Esme any of those questions.

 

“Listen to me Bella, my son has more arrogance than my husband ever dreamed of having, but I also know that when he speaks, he tells the truth.”

 

Reaching across the table, she squeezed my hand tightly.

 

“Believe me when I say, you have my son’s heart in the palm of your hand. Be gentle with it and treasure it, but if you crush him, you will have me to deal with me.”

 

The car was waiting for us as we left the restaurant. I suspected the place was owned by the family because the waitress never gave us a bill and Esme never paid when she wished the hostess a good night. The tall man that Esme introduced me to was very polite, yet didn’t give me the best of feelings.

 

When I was getting ready for bed that night, I turned off the light and looked out the window as I had every night for weeks. This time the man who drove me home was sitting in the car, the light from his cell phone illuminated his face. Sighing, I walked over to my bed and crawled in between the cold sheets. Staring at the ceiling, I ran the conversation I had with Esme over and over in my head. Even with a new warning and no doubt she was not a woman to cross, I tried to close my eyes and sleep.

 

My phone beeped indicating I had a text and I contemplated just ignoring it, but I knew it would only sound again until I looked at it.

 

Peter said you looked happy when he dropped you off. I wish it had been me and not a fermented grape that made you smile.

 

For the first time in my life, I closed my eyes and allowed myself to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could have the kind of joy that I’ve seen in Esme and Angela’s eyes when they spoke of their men.

 

To be loved so freely and without worry. To sleep with the assurance that tomorrow wouldn’t bring hurt and longing. To be the center of a man, such as Edward’s, universe. To have a love that fairytales envied and sonnets were written about. To be able to say what I really felt inside and not keep the truth locked away; afraid of the ramifications it would bring. To look into Edward’s eyes and confess my feelings and not have them used against me. And finally, to be the reason behind that glint in his eyes.

 

With tears blurring my vision, I typed what I wanted to be the truth.

 

You do.

 

Beta Note:

 

See Ladies? It’s not just you Cayce tortures….*bangs head on desk* This is gonna be MASSIVE miscommunication. Why Bella thinks Edward is warning her, I have no clue…Whyyyyy, Cayce? Annnddd, it seems to me, she’s playing a part-to be a couple? Because of a warning?…oh Lordy. And…and..I can’t believe Esme said all that stuff about E. I don’t know if I want to sleep with a guy like that, I don’t care how fine or how much I liked them. IDK…kinda a turn off.~~Kim

 

Recap:

 

Can’t they just REALLY be honest with each other? I mean, come on Bella, he is in love with you and you’re too scared to realize it. And Edward, why the fuck didn’t you tell her the whole truth? ~~Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 32

 

Chapter 31

 

BPOV

 

The Cullen house was much the same as it was for Edward’s birthday, minus the naked girl. The same faces seemed to be found around the room, just different clothing and hair styles. Edward had arrived at the shop, roses in hand. His smile was genuine and his carefree manner made Angela giggle. Edward was attentive and kind as he helped us into the black SUV. I questioned him as to why he brought this instead of the cute sports car he normally drove.

 

“For one, I have a driver with this one. Two, I know my sister will want help in getting her gifts back to her apartment, and three, Tanya has never seen this car, so she won’t suspect a thing if she sees me get out of it.”

 

Again this was a side of Edward I was certain most didn’t get to experience. The selfless and considerate man, who at this moment, cared more about his family than how he looked to others.

 

Edward had the driver pull around back to drop Angela and myself off as he exited the car inside the massive entry. Esme was waiting, nearly bouncing, as she quickly kissed us both and then dragged us off to the back of the house. Wait staff was everywhere and I watched in awe as Esme gently, yet firmly, gave instruction to the black tie wearing group. Once everyone had left the room, she pulled me into a hug and then downed a glass of what I assumed was scotch.

 

“Ok. Now I think I can survive this thing.”

 

I couldn’t help but laugh at her, she just always had such grace and poise. I never suspected her to have to take a deep breath like the rest of us. She handed me a glass and whispered to me that it was apple juice.

 

“I know you will want to keep your wits about you tonight, however, we still need to keep up appearances.”

 

With my drink in hand, we made our way back to the front of the house and back to a room full of guests. One particular lady was standing beside the table housing a display of fruit and cheese. She was talking in hushed tones with another lady who was pointing at different things in the room.

 

Esme noticed them at the same time I did and leaned in whispering, “You have to help me out if those two corner me while this all goes down.”

 

I glanced quickly between Esme and the two ladies.

 

“They are both married to men who work for Edward and Carlisle, but the way they tell it, it’s the other way around.”

 

Esme snickered shaking her head.

 

“What?” I quietly asked her.

 

She pulled me further away and proceeded to tell me about the two and others in the crowded room.

 

“Maria and Charlotte are sleeping with each other’s husbands.”

 

My eyes widened in shock and I sucked in a breath.

 

“Oh, they think they have each other fooled, but not much gets past me.”

 

She continued to share with me who in the room was sleeping with whom. I glanced several times in Edward’s direction. He was usually talking with Carlisle or Emmett and Rose, but he did flash me his smile a few times. As I listened to Esme share the tales of sex and seduction, I decided I just had to know something.

 

“Esme, I need to ask you something extremely personal. Please don’t hesitate to tell me to go to hell and not answer if you don’t feel it’s my business…but.”

 

I waited until after a lady walked by congratulating Esme on the engagement of her daughter. They hugged and Esme thanked her.

 

“How do you do it?” I asked, my eyes scanning the room.

 

“Do what, throw a party?” She responded as she took a drink from her glass, chuckling at the silliness.

 

I turned to fully face her. I wanted her to see I was serious and the severity of the question.

 

“Look the other way when Carlisle wants another woman in his bed.”

 

Esme’s eyes flashed and I had to take a step back because I just knew she was going to slap me.

 

“I can see why you would ask.” She said, nodding towards the room full of people. “A room full of women who have taken other men to their beds. Even Edward decorating his world with different women. But for me…for Carlisle and myself…”

 

I leaned in closer captivated by her fierce, but honest words.

 

“I don’t allow that shit to happen in my marriage. Carlisle is very aware that if he ever stepped outside our bed for that, I would chop up his balls, fry them in butter, and make him eat them.”

 

Her words didn’t surprise me, considering how strong and steadfast a woman she was. Having that understanding between her and Carlisle only made sense, but it still seemed like common practice.

 

“Trust me, Bella. These women who stand in this room feel as if it’s a tradeoff. Having a husband who does what theirs do it’s expected. I call bullshit. I told Carlisle a very long time ago that it didn’t matter to me what his occupation was, the rules for being in my life were the same. When he vowed to love only me before god and my family, he had best damn well mean it.”

 

Taking a sip from my glass, I felt like I had just been lectured for staying out too late from my own mother.

 

“Don’t think for a second that Edward knows the same rules apply to him where you’re concerned.”

 

I couldn’t help it, I rolled my eyes.

 

“I’m serious Bella. You sit that man down and you explain to him the conditions for being in a relationship with you. You define the ramifications that would certainly happen if he chose to violate them. Don’t let who he is dictate what happens in your bedroom, and more importantly in your heart.”

 

Another couple came over addressing Esme. As always she made them feel important, even though I suspected she wished they never attended.

 

“One other thing you might find interesting…”

 

Esme motioned for me to follow her.

 

“The men in the family honestly believe they have this code they live by. One of the rules of that code is that you don’t sleep around with one another’s wives or girlfriends. How many of these men in this room honors that code do you think?”

 

My thoughts went immediately to the conversation I had with Jessica. She admitted to sleeping with Edward and his Uncle, my deduction and answer was an overwhelming…not many.

 

Beta Note: I’m still wary regarding Edward…Yeah, yeah, I know. I just am, but only from Bella’s view. If that makes any sense at all.

 

  1. Chapter 33

 

Chapter 32

 

EPOV

 

I was in complete awe watching Bella as she walked around the room with Esme. The grace they both exuded-effortless, timeless, classic. Bella’s simple smile, and no doubt kind words, would take her far. How I both yearned and desired to know what words they whispered between them.

 

“You know, it was an evening much like this one that I watched Esme with the same look you have right now.”

 

My father had come to stand beside me, he had been working overtime to set all of this up.

 

“She is breathtaking, like a candle in the darkness.” My words falling from my mouth on their own accord.

 

“Yes, and Bella is not bad either.”

 

I turned my head to my father giving him a quizzical look. He smiled nudging my arm. My father had always made it quite evident how much he loved and treasured Esme. For years, I just didn’t get it.

 

My problem with settling down with one girl was that I had issues finding a girl who had more than one good quality. Most had no problem with shutting their mouths when it came to who I was and what I did, however, they felt that since they sucked my dick from time to time, that they were owed something. Hell, I even found girls that were beyond beautiful and yet when they opened their mouths, all I wanted to do was shove my dick into it…anything to shut them the fuck up.

 

Jessica was a firecracker in bed. She let me put her in any situation I had the particular need for, whether it was watching her as she got herself off or going at it with a group of girls so that I could watch. I loved porn, just not the shit that you could buy. No, I wanted that shit playing out before me, giving me the opportunity to reach out and touch or have one of the girls touch me when I told her to.

 

I knew all of that would come to a screeching halt once I got Bella by my side. I knew she would not accept me having twenty girls sucking and fucking each other with silicone in my living room. I accepted that, much easier than I thought possible. Somehow, I truly believed that Bella would be everything I needed inside and outside of the bedroom.

 

“Tanya just arrived.”

 

Emmett’s observation caused me to turn in the direction of the blonde with the bright red dress. Her hair was curled and had what looked to be feathers placed throughout it. Her dress was so tight, it was no surprise that she didn’t have any underwear on. Knowing the plan she had for me, this was smart on her part. That dress could be hiked up and her assets would be exposed for all to see. I glanced back to Bella and my mother and seen Bella take in a deep breath, her eyes fixed and shoulders straight, and for the first time, I just knew things would work out. I could just see it in her eyes that she was ready for battle.

 

Alice was playing her part perfectly. She was standing with Tanya, encouraging her to have a drink at the bar. Tanya just couldn’t take her eyes off of my Bella. I felt like such an idiot for ever believing she was someone I could trust. Looking at her now, knowing what I know about her, makes me want to scrub my dick until it bleeds. The memory of her on her knees sucking me off once was enough to nearly make me cum, now it only sickens me.

 

With a quick look around the room, I begin to make my way over to Tanya. Esme felt it would look suspicious if, one, I was standing near Bella, and two, if I didn’t acknowledge Tanya’s arrival. With one last glance at the woman who would be my future, I had to do a double take. Bella’s face was white as a ghost and her wide eyes were fixed on Tanya. Looking back over in the direction of Tanya, I didn’t notice anything unusual. She was sipping on whatever was in her glass and looking at Alice. She had nothing out of the ordinary going on with her. I was clueless as to what was going on with Bella. Esme also noticed and wrapped an arm around her and led her to the downstairs bathroom. Once all of this goes down, I’ll find out what had spooked her so much.

 

“Hey, you.” Tanya ever the ready, tits in the air and seduction dripping from her red lips. “Haven’t seen you in a while. You’re looking a little…tense.”

 

Swallowing hard to keep my dinner down, I allowed her to run her fingers just under the buttons of my shirt.

 

“Yes, well, business has been very active lately, but your right….I am tense.”

 

Tanya shifted her body closer to mine. Her tongue poked out touching the bow of her lips. For years I thought that was sexy as fuck, however, watching Bella nibble on her lip did more for me than even Tanya’s lack of a gag reflex.

 

“Well, you know we can sneak out of here anytime you’re ready.”

 

I smiled the fakest smile I could conjure up and leaned over to her ear whispering, “Get me a Jack straight and come find me in the solarium.”

 

She didn’t waste a single second as she turned and snapped her fingers at the bartender. I had just opened the door for her to carry out her plan, too bad it wouldn’t have the ending she so hoped for.

 

Bella and my mother were still in the bathroom as I made my way down the hall. After my father announced that he thought it was time for me to settle down and get serious about a relationship, my mother began to redesign the solarium. She wants to turn it into a child play area. I wanted to say something but my dad stopped me. He said it’s easier to just agree with the women in your life then to argue with them. For now the room would bring me an immense amount of happiness.

 

Looking around the room, I decided that perhaps Esme was on to something as I would never want to touch any of the furniture ever again,

 

“Everyone ready?” I questioned the room.

 

We were using the security features that my father installed into the house. Not a single room in this house was unmonitored. The system was so sensitive that you could hear a fly fart. Slipping out of my jacket, I crossed the room and locked the door that led out to the pool. I wanted to have no escape for Tanya once the shit hit the fan. Tossing my jacket onto an empty chair, I sat back and waited for Tanya to bring me my drink.

 

I knew she was up to something. She should have been here before my shoe hit the tile floor. She was being careful, covering her tracks. Too bad her plan was over before it began. Leaning my head against the back of the couch, I thought of how I wanted to spend the remainder of the evening once this situation was handled. A smile crept across my face as I thought of exactly how I would be spending the remaining hours tonight. With my eyes still closed, I could smell her perfume as she silently crept into the room. I didn’t bother to open my eyes when I felt the dip in the cushion beside me. The ice clinking the sides of the glass, her fingers skimming up my arm, disgust left in their wake.

 

“Here’s your drink, baby.” She spoke into my ear as she began to lay kisses on my neck.

 

I had to pretend it was Bella’s lips to keep myself from tossing her across the room. Opening my eyes, I took the drink from her hand. Tanya already had her dress hiked up, her bare lower region on display. Raising the glass to my lips, I seen the white crystals swirling at the very bottom of the glass. It seems she wasn’t too careful. Her hand was on my crotch rubbing and her mouth was attached to my throat while I continued to raise the glass closer to my lips taking my time.

 

“Did he give you the right kind?” She questioned as she raised her body to hover over my lap. Her dress getting higher and her grinding getting harder.

 

“Yeah baby, you got it exactly right.”

 

She giggled pulling herself back, looking into my eyes, trying desperately to be seductive.

 

“I’ll make you forget her.”

 

She didn’t have to clarify, I knew who she meant. It took everything I had to keep from choking her with my bare hands.

 

“Just close your eyes and let Tanya make it all go away.”

 

She reached over taking the glass from my hands, tilting my head back and lifting the glass to my lips. Just as the cold liquid touched my lips, the door burst open, causing Tanya to spill the drink on my face and her hand.

 

“Sir, don’t drink that! Ma’am, place the glass down on the table and step away from Mr. Cullen.”

 

A/N-RECAP:

 

So, it’s been a minute since I’ve gone back more than a couple of chapters and did a quick review. With the next couple of upcoming chapters, I feel the need to do just that.

 

First, we have Bella, who we met during the funeral of her boyfriend/fiance, I have a hard time calling him that since he didn’t, according to her, take the time to wait for her answer. She knew his secret; that he was the ring leader for a small sector of Mafia related activity. Bella is a very smart girl, she has kept her mouth shut, and even taken out a life insurance policy on Jared. With the cash in hand, she heads to a new life. Unfortunately for her, that new life lead her straight into the cross hairs of one Edward Cullen, the real ring leader of the very same Mafia that Jared was a member of. Edward is a complete man-whore and all-around jerk….we all hate him, it’s no secret. However, seeing Bella knocks him on his ass. We also know that Carlisle, Edward’s father, has given the order that Edward must marry. Edward knows that he can’t just marry one of his…let’s call them hired women, i.e. Tanya and Jessica. Although, it would make sense that Edward could marry Tanya since she is the daughter of one of his men. I’m not certain why Carlisle has forbid that one. We also know that Carlisle seems to know everything before it happens, or at least he isn’t surprised. Surely, we will soon know the reason behind why that is. Next, Bella, who jumped at the chance to own her own business and have the life she always wanted, however, our resident man-whore-mafia boss wants to make her his wife, fulfilling his father’s wishes and taking the reins of the family. James, who we learned is or rather was a good friend and “family member” of the Cullen’s, lost his mind and attacked Bella. Edward had made it clear that she was an untouchable. Edward kills James and then has his men place him in an area to be sure he was found. Edward did this to send a message, although, the wrong person Bella, got that message-Join us or die. Which brings poor Bella right back into the lion’s den, no real choice for her future. So, now she feels like she is back to where she was when she was in Forks, except on a much higher scale. She feels, on one hand, that if she says no to Edward’s advances, that he will have her killed like he did James, and on the other, she feels obligated to keep the shop running because Angela depends on her. When a slight crack in the door opens, as Bella and Angela overheard Tanya’s plans, Angela goes running off to Esme. Thus a plan is in motion and we find ourselves waiting for Thursday and another chapter.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 34

 

Chapter 34

 

BPOV

 

I knew who she was the second she walked into the room. She was everything I thought she would be with legs that went on for miles, hair perfect, and nails, red like blood dripping from talons. Her figure, so skinny, that she looked almost malnourished. The stereotypical girl on the side…a common whore. I watched her while she scanned the room, searching, probing for Edward. I could feel the anger deep inside my gut, slowly increasing in its intensity, rising toward my chest. Closing my eyes for a moment, I tried taking deep breaths to clear my head and control the anger. According to Esme, there was more to Tanya than what met the eye. To this, I had no doubt. You could just tell she had a long hard story to tell, but did I want to listen?

 

“Tanya could have been so much more.”

 

Another one of her confessions that came with the free food and drinks. I was discovering the secrets ran deep in this family, however, Esme seemed to have the key to all of them. Nothing came as a surprise to her.

 

“Tanya’s father is one of Carlisle’s men, her mother…well, you already know what I told you about her.”

 

Ah…Her mother was one of the women she spoke of when she told me of the wives sleeping with each other’s husband. I remembered one of the conversations from a few weeks ago when Carlisle took us to dinner. The women around the room were chattering how they each hoped their daughter would be Edward’s intended, but that Tanya was what everyone was certain would win out. Until this moment, I never really made the connection.

 

“Tanya and her father were never close, she is more like her mother than he seems to care for.” Perhaps that explains why she felt the need to sleep with her friend’s husband?

 

As I continued to watch Tanya sway her hips that caught the attention of every man in the room, I took a closer look at her. Why? I’m not sure. Curious, I guess.

 

I wondered if she felt at all guilty about her plan to trap Edward. Could she so easily live with a man who was there out of obligation and not love? How could she look in the mirror and like the face that looked back at her?

 

As I followed the lines of her body, noticing that she was again so thin that she lacked the curves that most women had. With the exception of a very extensive boob job, she had the body of a twelve year old boy. It was when she raised her glass to take a drink that I nearly lost my breath. I could feel the panic set in while trying to understand the sight before me. I had to blink several times to try and clear the hallucination I knew I was having. Esme must have laced that juice with something because it was obvious my eyes were playing tricks on me.

 

“Bella?” Esme’s voice seemed to be coming from my left, but it sounded like she was speaking from underwater.

 

Next thing I knew, I was sitting in the same bathroom I had rushed Jessica into, a cold wet cloth around my neck and Esme kneeling before me.

 

“Drink this.” My glass of apple juice was thrusted into my line of vision. I didn’t hesitate to drink, all the while, I started to feel the clarity return to my head. I had to have imagined what I saw. Surely, the events of the past few days had finally caught up with me.

 

“Your color is returning, that’s good.” Esme’s concerned voice pulled me from my mental nightmare. Instinct and self-preservation kicking in, I looked her in the eye, my determination to survive this taking over, as I smiled and drank the sweet juice.

 

“I’m sorry about that. I forgot to eat earlier, really stupid of me.” I threw in an eye roll and precocious laugh.

 

Esme tapped my thigh and stood up. Holding out her hand, I took it with the best academy award winning smile I could muster. If what I suspected was happening, the rules of the game had just changed and this plan of Tanya’s had taken on an entirely different meaning.

 

Esme lead me to a room just off the kitchen. It reminded me of a room I once saw in a movie with Jody Foster, Panic Room. The room housed a wall of monitors. Carlisle, Jasper and Emmett were standing and staring at the screens that were all currently tuned to one room. I felt the heavy door close behind me as I followed Esme in to the room.

 

Focusing on one of the screens, I saw Edward sit down on a couch with grace and ease. Emmett hit several buttons and one of the screens changed to the hallway outside of the room Edward was in. On the screen was Tanya, holding a short glass and reaching into the front of her dress. She looked around several times as she separated what looked to be a capsule, quickly dumping the powder into the glass of amber liquid. She removed her high heel shoe and used the pointy end to stir the drink. Whatever was in the glass, she didn’t even want to touch it.

 

“We are planning to stop him from drinking that shit, right?” Carlisle mumbled from his position beside the other men. They all chuckled, yet they didn’t answer.

 

Taking a quick look around, I moved over to the corner to my left. I wanted to be able to slip out if I needed to fearing how this was going to end. All the players seemed to be doing their part, each of their moves were done with precision. Too bad they hadn’t figured out I knew more than they were aware.

 

Two new figures appeared on the screen in the hallway that Tanya had once occupied. Everything about them screamed cops. Why this surprised me, I didn’t know. Jared had fooled the entire town with his do good persona, yet he was rotten to the core, still he had nothing on a single soul that stood in this room.

 

I glanced back up at the monitor, and as I watched, I felt that anger rising inside me again while Tanya raised her dress, showing every eye the dirty little secrets that lived under her dress. She had no shame as she straddled his lap, not a care in the world that he had confessed his feelings for me. She saw a price tag, a meal ticket, security, but not love. Did she think of love or did the color of money blind her from that emotion? I wanted to hate him, but the longer I spent time with him, allowed him to share bits and pieces of himself with me, the more likable he became. I had to push those thoughts away for now and concentrate on him. His face, as she licked his neck to his ear, showed pure disgust, hurt, and anger. He didn’t reveal any of those emotions when he looked at me, when he hugged me, or whispered his confession to me.

 

The police officers charged into room, effectively stopping Edward from taking a drink. If he only knew she had used her dirty shoe to stir the drug. The thought of what she most likely walked through on her way over. Did she live in a house that Edward paid for or was she living at home with her mother and distant father?

 

“Come on Bella, we need a ringside seat for this showdown.”

 

Esme grabbed my arm before I could even register what was happening. She pulled me down the hall, and I nearly tripped trying to keep up with her. She came to an abrupt halt when she crossed the threshold of the room. The two detectives was standing to my left and Edward and Tanya were directly in front of me. Silently, the men of the family took their places behind the detectives, which placed me slightly behind them, acting almost as a shield from Tanya and the scene that was about to play out.

 

Even with all the male presence in the room, Tanya had left her nether regions on display. She was sitting on the arm rest of the sofa, her vagina for all to see, the glitter of a piercing caught my attention. I quickly looked away, focusing my attention on Edward who was now more relaxed, his gaze on me.

 

“I’ll take that Mr. Cullen.” The detective reached across the table with his gloved hand taking the glass from Edward.

 

“This is a switch.” Tanya spoke as her bent leg swung back and forth and her other foot rested on a white pillow on the sofa.

 

“You never have this many men in the room when you watch.” Her voice, I guess sounded seductive, yet teasing. I honestly didn’t want to know what that meant. It was obvious they had a past…one I didn’t need to know.

 

“Fuck off, Tanya!” Edward shouted as he removed his jacket from the back of the sofa and tossed it in her direction.

 

“Cover up that diseased pussy of yours. No one is interested in that shit right now.”

 

Tanya only laughed as she tossed the jacket back at him. “Oh, trust me baby, every man in this room wants a taste of my pussy.”

 

I wanted to gag, yet she was probably right. Every man in this room most likely did want to drop to his knees and have a sample. Sadly, she would have let them each have a turn and let the rest watch as she enjoyed it.

 

“You heard my son Tanya, cover it up.”

 

Carlisle’s voice was commanding, and it was easy to see why he was the head of the family. The smile fell from Tanya’s face as she sat up straight, pulling her skirt down, and placing a throw pillow on her lap.

 

“It’s testing positive.” One of the cops said from across the room. Glancing over at him, I saw that he was holding a tube half filled with a blue liquid.

 

“Pure GHB. Enough to do some serious damage.”

 

My eyes snapped back to Edward, grateful he hadn’t drank any of that. I didn’t know a lot about GHB, only that it was a popular date rape drug.

 

“You laced my drink with GHB?” Edward questioned, his voice laced with anger and disbelief.

 

“What makes you think I did it? I didn’t pour the fucking drink. That bartender you hired did. I only handed you the glass.”

 

She quickly turned to the detectives, “So, don’t go trying to pin this shit on me. My finger prints are on that glass, I touched it, carried it in here…but you can test my fingers, I don’t have any of that drug on them.”

 

Oh my god, she had really given this some thought, or watched too many CSI episodes.

 

“Oh, I don’t question you handed him the glass. I’m certain Mr. Cullen would agree that you brought him the glass. Your fingerprints aren’t in question here.”

 

She sat back with a smug smile now spreading across her face.

 

“However, Miss Denali, I would be interested in your left shoe.” The detective held out his gloved hand. “Your shoe, Miss Denali or should I say, Ms. Hunter?”

 

Beta Note:

 

There is 1 twist unraveling.

 

A/N:

 

Oh yes I did!

 

Recap:

 

Well…. um…wow! So, now not only does Bella think that Edward is “threatening” her, she thinks the entire family is in on it? Tanya? Where do we even start with that one? I know this seems very twisted at this point, but trust me, I know what I’m doing. Sunday will bring so many answers…I promise.

 

Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 35

 

Chapter 34

 

EPOV

 

When I was a little boy my father took me to the circus. I was so excited to see all of the animals, however, as we passed by a tent, I noticed a sign that had a hand with crazy writing on it. When I asked my father about it, he said it was someone who would hold your hand and try to tell you your future. He explained that the people who worked in that tent were only trying to take your money.

 

“Edward, you will learn, son, that if you only pay attention, you can predict most people’s future.”

 

I watched as one of the detectives rub a cotton tip applicator on the heel of Tanya’s shoe; all along the heel and sole. Had she really taken her shoe off and stirred the drug into my glass? Just the thought of where she had to have walked made my stomach start to turn. Detective Stewart was a close friend of my fathers, he and my father had known each other for as long as I could remember.

 

“Sir, it’s positive.” The detective said, who was a tall man, with his gold badge proudly on display, his shoulder harness holding his Glock, sleeves rolled up and his latex gloves firmly in place.

 

Detective Stewart nodded his head turning toward my father once. Carlisle had been watching the entire process too, his hand stroking his chin as his eyes darted from the detective to Bella.

 

“Well, Mrs. Hunter, you have the right to remain silent….”

 

“Fuck you!” Tanya screeched as Detective Stewart crossed the room.

 

“Tanya.” My father interrupted, stepping between the detective and Tanya. His arm out, but his voice clipped and with a clear warning.

 

“I want her to hear this.” He spoke looking to me and then to the detective. We both nodded and I glanced over at Bella. I wanted to invite her to join me as my father began to speak. She looked so frightened and I wanted to take that away, she had nothing to fear here. I would protect her with my life.

 

“You think you’re so fucking smart!” Tanya opened her cunt mouth again. Spraying her words, that by the look at her gaze, were designed for my father.

 

“And you!” She shouted, pointing directly at Bella.

 

“Do you think for one second that he is going to be faithful to you? Edward doesn’t know the meaning of faithful!”

 

Tanya jumped up from the sofa, her dress covering her lap at least. “Do you know what kind of man he is? DO YOU?!”

 

“Shut the fuck up!” My father sneered as he crossed the room with hard steps. “Shut that fucking mouth of yours or I’ll shut it for you!”

 

Tanya may have been many things, but she wasn’t stupid enough to defy Carlisle.

 

“Now.” Carlisle sighed while unbuttoning his suit jacket, his hands smoothing down the sides. The door of the solarium opened and none other than Alex Volturi walked in. I hadn’t seen or heard from him since the night that I killed James. My father had assured me he had special plans for him.

 

“About time you got here.” My father spoke to Alex.

 

“I had to make a slight detour.” He responded. His black sun glasses were still resting on the bridge of his nose. Three men stood behind him as he sat in a chase lounge just inside the door.

 

“As I was saying…” Carlisle rolled his hand around in the air, dismissing any distraction that Alex had invented on the way in.

 

“There have been things going on between our families that have received a blind eye.” His eyes were fixed on Alex, but his voice was calm and even.

 

“Let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?” He raised an eyebrow, as if to question Alex’s objection. Alex removed his glasses and gestured for him to continue.

 

“Detective Stewart, I know that you have worked long and hard on this case, but if you will allow me just a few minutes, I promise you that it won’t be a waste of your time.”

 

Carlisle didn’t wait for an answer before he spoke to Esme.

 

“Love, you remember when we first married and I took you to Paris? I showed you that cute little restaurant and I said that I thought I recognized someone.”

 

Esme smiled that special smile she keeps only for my father. “I remember many things about that trip.” Her smile made me wish I could cover my ears.

 

“Well, I did some checking around once you were blissfully asleep that night and confirmed that I did indeed see who I thought I did.”

 

He turned his attention to Alex. “Paris is so wonderful in the fall, would you agree Alex?”

 

Alex’s face remained stoic, yet he nodded his head in affirmation.

 

“As I recall, it was that very trip that Rosalie was conceived, am I right my love?” His voice was so gentle as he addressed my mother, and I prayed that I spoke in the same tone when I spoke to Bella with words wrapped in love and admiration.

 

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but that was also the year that Vivian gave birth to Tanya.” My mother added.

 

“You, my beautiful bride, are correct as usual.”

 

Esme beamed as if she had just won the lottery.

 

“But then, Vivian and Tony started having issues and they sent little Tanya to Switzerland to that boarding school…or at least that’s what they told everyone.” My father then turned his attention to Tanya.

 

“What really happened was our little Tanya here became too much like her mother and her father sent her to live with his sister in Minnesota.”

 

Tanya’s face dropped, the color in her face leaving almost completely.

 

“Then a few years go by and all seems quiet. Until Alex…you decide that things aren’t going the way you like them and decided that joining our families would benefit us both.”

 

Alex shifted on the lounge, but still kept his expression stoic.

 

“Needless to say, I didn’t agree.” Carlisle chuckled as he slowly walked over to stand beside Bella.

 

“You see Bella, in this family, everyone thinks as long as they do their dirty deeds behind my back, I can’t see them.” He reached out, taking her chin in his hand.

 

“But you know what, my dear?” Bella quickly shook her head, and you could see the fear radiating from her. My father notices this and wraps his arm around her, whispering in her ear.

 

“I know everything that goes on in this town.”

 

Bella’s face fell and a single tear slid down her perfect cheek. I couldn’t take it anymore, as I jumped up, crossed the room, and wrapped my arms around her. I could feel her trembling, so I pulled her closer to me, whispering that everything would be ok. Scooting her body slightly, I sat us down on one of the other sofas in the room. I lifted her chin up to see her eyes were red from crying. Her makeup was smeared on my shirt, but I could care less about that. I reached into my pocket and removed my handkerchief, wiping the black marks that obscured my view of her perfect face.

 

“Baby, you ok?” I question in a soft voice. I know she is scared out of her mind and I try to tell her with my eyes and my touch that she is perfectly safe.

 

“You see, it was just after my refusal to unite the families, that I received a call that one of my buildings downtown had been vandalized. I left this gorgeous woman in bed to go down there and see what was going on. When I arrived, a young man was loitering around. He looked homeless and I thought for a second to give him money to either get drunk or find some food and shelter for the night. However, as I looked closer at the young man, I noticed his boots.”

 

Bella turned her head in Carlisle’s direction, but still snuggled her face into my neck. Her hand intertwined in mine. I refuse to question the turn of events. I didn’t give a fuck why she was clinging to me, I was only going to enjoy it.

 

“My father…Edward Senior, told me you could tell a lot about a man by the kind of shoes he wore. This young man, who I assumed was homeless, had on expensive hiking boots and most importantly…new.”

 

I remember that night, my father had been a target, and James took a bullet for him. It was shortly after that, James came to work for my family.

 

“It all seemed so coincidental, James was at the right place at the right time. He even managed to take the bullet in a manner that didn’t even need medical attention.”

 

He was speaking to the entire room, not just to Tanya. He was gifted that way, always commanding a room, keeping everyone’s attention focused on him.

 

“Then, he had a sad story about not having any family and his wife had passed not long before. He seemed perfect to join the family…too perfect for my liking.”

 

His admission surprised me. My father always treated James like his other son.

 

“It was James who encouraged you to let Tanya deal from her house wasn’t it? He told you that her father had cut her off, leaving her with no real money and no place to live.”

 

My father turned his attention from me to Esme, quickly blowing her a kiss and a quick wink.

 

“But that was a lie…wasn’t it?” His eyes focused on a now crying Tanya.

 

“You weren’t penniless or homeless. You had a perfectly good husband that was taking care of you.”

 

“You see Edward…Tony didn’t send her away because she was getting into trouble…no, he found out his wife’s secret. Furthermore, Tony has a very rare type of blood. When he had to have surgery, his doctor had to give him a blood transfusion. Since his blood type was so rare, they told Vivian that Tanya was the most likely candidate. However, when the testing was complete, there was no way based on her parent’s blood type that she could be Tony’s daughter. Once Tony was better, he demanded a paternity test and found out the truth about his wife and the affair she had.”

 

Turning to Alex, Carlisle went one, “But you already knew who her father was, didn’t you?”

 

Alex grew a smug look on his face looking over to Tanya winking.

 

“Tanya overheard her mother and Tony fighting and learned the truth of her real father. She went to her aunt’s house where she met James Hunter, a local thug who just wanted a quick fuck, but you convinced him to help you with your plan.”

 

I couldn’t help but to look over at Tanya. She had dried tears on her face, and her eyes resembled a raccoon’s.

 

“You contacted Alex, told him you knew the truth about being his daughter, but he wasn’t welcoming you with open arms into his home and his bank account. So, you conned James into believing he could have it all if he just did what you told him.”

 

Bella moved slightly away as my father continued with his information. I pulled her back against me, needing her now more than she needed me.

 

“You used your…assets to get the attention of Alex’s son. Used his addiction to cocaine and then his addiction to sex to get him where you wanted him. I bet it didn’t take more than showing him that pussy of yours to get him on that roof top.”

 

Carlisle then turned to Detective Stewart. “See the reason you found similar DNA at the crime scene, is because he was killed by his half-sister.”

 

I felt the shift in the room. Alex snapped his fingers and the men who stood behind him started moving toward Tanya. Carlisle quickly raised his hands putting a stop to their advancement.

 

“Let them pass, Carlisle.” Alex demanded.

 

“In due time my friend.” My father responded, his eyes were cold and dark. Alex waved for his men to return to their original positions.

 

Carlisle walked across the room placing his hand in my mother’s hair. With gentle strokes he caressed her, loving her with his gentle touches. I had witnessed this a million times between them. The love they shared was bigger than this world. It was as I looked away, giving them their moment that I found my fingers gliding through Bella’s locks…the silky feel calming me, grounding me.

 

“You quickly grew tired of James didn’t you? His willingness to follow your every command. You felt certain that Alex would have no other choice but to bring you into the family…you were wrong. So, you decided that you would find another way in…a new game plan that included the possibility of getting rid of James in the process. Killing two birds with one stone.”

 

My eyes flicked over to Tanya again, her skin was completely ash. I no longer recognized the girl who sat across the room from me.

 

“But he was careless, and you had to keep reinventing your plan. First, you tried to use Jessica by befriending her, asking her questions about Edward and what he was doing. However, that all changed when Bella moved to town.”

 

I kissed Bella’s temple, grateful that she had indeed moved to Chicago. She had completely changed my world and I never wanted to go back.

 

“You still had to get rid of James though, so you persuaded him to talk with Alex Volturi, get him to work a few deals, give him enough rope to hang himself. You reverted back to Tori, fur coat, red wig. James would eat that shit up…some sexual fantasy he had. Although, the most impressive part is that you had him believing that he was really going to take over the Volturi family.”

 

Alex was now on his feet. His men less than a foot from him.

 

“It was pure luck on your part that morning you told James to stop for coffee. You had him so twisted about Edward’s interest in Bella that he actually believed he was doing Edward a favor by hitting her. However, you had no idea that Edward had made her an untouchable.”

 

Carlisle’s confession made Tanya gasp and slap her hand over her mouth. Large tear drops began to fall as she shook her head back and forth.

 

“Oh yes, Edward declared that she was untouchable before she purchased the shop, but you wouldn’t know that because he cut off all ties to you as soon as he saw her, giving you yet another reason to hate her. But then, you became sloppy when you let that anger cloud your judgment. You assumed that Alice was your friend, but Alice has never trusted you, as a matter of fact, she has voiced her concerns to me several times…and she was right.”

 

Tanya was now violently crying and with good reason. If the two detectives hadn’t still been standing in the room, I have no doubt she would have been dead ten minutes ago.

 

“Carlisle, I do expect things to be handed over to me in a quick fashion.” Alex spoke as he placed his sunglasses back on his face.

 

“Oh wait, my friend. We haven’t gotten to the best part yet.” My curiosity was now peeked.

 

“Best part?” He questioned with a tilt of his head.

 

“Oh yes…” Carlisle looked to the detectives, nodding for them to continue with Tanya’s arrest. Stewart began to again read her her Maranda rights as he placed her in handcuffs.

 

“You see, I know that you think I have forgotten about your involvement with James and basically stealing from my table. You accused my son for the death of yours for years. I think that one good turn deserves another.”

 

The door to the solarium opened again and in walked Uncle Aro and Stephen. Both men dressed in black leather jackets and jeans. Stephen still had his sunglasses perched on his face.

 

“Detective Stewart and I made our own deal, I give him the person responsible for Larkin Volturi’s murder and he gave me some information on you.”

 

Alex removed his glasses from his face, giving my father a ‘go to hell’ smirk.

 

“Tell me old friend, what information could that possibly be?” His voice sounding disbelieving.

 

Carlisle nodded to Stephen who started walking across the room.

 

“The fact that a federal warrant just went out for your arrest. You have a rather large bounty on your head my friend. One that Stephen here is about to collect.”

 

Alex made a move to charge at my father, but before he could move a muscle, five guns were pointed at his head. Stephen moved quickly to place handcuffs on Alex and it was no surprise to see men slipped out the back patio door.

 

“You think you have won Carlisle? You think this is the last you have heard of me?!” Alex shouted as Stephen began dragging him out of the room.

 

My father never said a word as Alex continued to shout that he would be back, when he least expected it. Tanya was being searched as my father turned his attention back to Bella.

 

“One last thing…” His voice, this time even calmer than before, closed the distance and took Bella’s hand in his.

 

“Edward killed James, not to frighten you or make you think he would do the same to you if you crossed him or disagreed with him. He did it, because he is a man in love with a beautiful woman. In this family, we protect the women we love, even if it’s from the men we trust the most.”

 

  1. Chapter 36

 

Chapter 35

 

BPOV

 

I watched many movies where time seemed to freeze, trapping a particular moment in time. Just like those scenes, my world was frozen, hovering from what I think I heard and the truth. Holding that last breath, the one where I gasped with shock, listening to the words over and over that everything I had believed about Edward hadn’t been real.

 

He did it to protect me….

 

Not to warn me to keep my mouth shut or to go along with what he had planned.

 

So many answers, yet I still questioned so much of what seemed to be the truth.

 

And just like in those movies….my world once again went back into motion.

 

Detective Stewart placed a furious Tanya in handcuffs, her angry tears marred her perfect makeup, ruining her mask of deception. Her dress was inching up her body, revealing what seemed to be public knowledge. Alex Volturi not to be out done, screamed for his men to return and get him out of this situation. Stephen slammed him into a wall and told him in a not so nice words to remain quiet.

 

“You think you’ve seen the last of me?!” Alex shouted, spraying salvia down the front of his suit.

 

“I will get you Carlisle…this isn’t over!”

 

Stephen didn’t let him finish as he placed plastic bands around his wrists and shoved him out the patio door to avoid the party that was very much still going on. Alex was now screaming at Stephen that he didn’t know who he was and what would happen if he didn’t release him. All of his anger and energy was wasted as it fell on deaf ears.

 

“Time to go, Mrs. Hunter.” Detective Stewart said to Tanya as he secured the handcuffs behind her.

 

The atmosphere in the room was full of astonishment and revelation. I was still trying desperately to wrap my mind around all of this. Edward was rubbing his hand up and down my back, a calming feeling left in his wake. How strange was this? This feeling that was taking over my body, sending me to a place I had never visited. Even with everything I had suspected, made myself to believe…the secrets and lies that had been unearthed. I found my thoughts and clearly feelings begin to shift toward Edward. What was once fear was quickly changing into something else, something…

 

“Just one moment Detective.” Carlisle interrupted the thoughts that were more confusing than not, running around my head.

 

The detective stopped in the middle of the room, his right hand still firmly held onto Tanya’s secured hands. Carlisle approached, with one of his hands rubbing his chin, a clear sign that he was pondering his next words. With a quick motion, Carlisle grabbed Tanya’s tethered hands.

 

“This doesn’t’t belong to you.” His words were full of accusation, anger and even a hint of sadness.

 

I knew the second he tossed the object into the air then quickly catching it, what it was. He clasped the object carefully in his hand as Tanya began to protest.

 

“Hey…Jimmy gave me that! You’ve got no right!”

 

Tanya started to struggle more against the detective only to be jostled hard and told to knock it off. Carlisle held the ring between his thumb and index finger, the light from the ceiling trying to bounce off the small surface of the diamond.

 

“That was his great-grandmother’s, he gave it to me!”

 

Knowing what I knew about that ring, it most definitely did not get passed from any member of any family. It was odd shaped and had a strange seem that rested under the diamond. It was a cheap ring, cheaply made and most likely not even a real diamond. For me, it was a symbol of a life I wanted nothing to do with. Tanya could have it for all I care, as it probably held good memories for her.

 

“James may have given this to you, however, it didn’t belong to any grandmother, alive or dead.” His tone clipped as he turned the ring back and forth.

 

Tanya’s eyes widened, but her gaze never strayed from the ring that was being held inches from her face. She reminded me of that strange little guy from the hobbit, who referred to his ring as, my precious.

 

I hadn’t noticed that Alice had joined our little party until she crossed the room taking the ring from Carlisle. He smiled at her as he freely let go. Like a magician, Alice pulled a jeweler’s loop from thin air to examine the ring. She turned the ring this way and that way, studying it, memorizing it.

 

“Hmm.” She responded after several turns.

 

“What did you find?” Carlisle questioned.

 

Slowly she lowered the loop, yet, keeping the ring near her face. I questioned if Alice had studied gemology or if she worked for a jewelry store or pawn shop as she knew how to use that loop very well, not to mention that Carlisle seemed to want her opinion.

 

“It’s definitely not old.” Turning towards Tanya, she said, “So, he lied about where he got it.”

 

I knew where it came from. Jared had more than likely traded drugs for it, took it as payment for money he was owed. Stupid ass didn’t even know it was fake.

 

“It’s also got these strange numbers inside the glass.” Alice pulled the loop back to her eye again to take another look.

 

“29.9667deg N, 90.0500deg W.” She read off. She removed the loop, handing the ring back to Carlisle. He grasped the ring firmly in his fist and turned in my direction.

 

“It also has a black spot right under those numbers, I have no idea what any of it means.” Carlisle leaned over, kissing Alice on her cheek. She smiled as he whispered something in her ear. She shrugged her shoulders as if she was three years old and feeling shy. She quickly turned on her heels and took her place next to a waiting Jasper. Carlisle walked over to me, his facial expression was of a man with hope and love. As he stood majestically before me, he reached very slowly and carefully for my hand. With shaky fingers and butterflies the size of Texas, I let him hold it.

 

“You may not want it, but it was given to you for safe keeping.” He gently placed the ring in my palm and wrapped my freezing fingers with his warm, soft ones. His grasp tightened as he leaned down and whispered into my ear.

 

“Things happen for a reason, Bella, keep this…just in case.”

 

Carlisle’s words, I’m sure, were meant to be comforting, however, his knowledge of what had been revealed here tonight and the fact that he knew this was my ring made me want to beg him to tell me the truth. Tell me how he knew this was a gift from a man that Edward had killed. How he knew…well, everything.

 

I nodded my head before turning to look at Edward, where his gaze was fixed on my closed fist. I didn’t like the way his eyes looked, distant and hopeless. Even with all the fear and intimidation, I turned towards him and placed my free hand on his face, bringing his gaze to me. Something deep inside me ached at the thought of him in pain.

 

“Edward.” I softly spoke. I don’t understand why I wanted to free him of this pain that was etched across his face. A face, that up until this very moment, held fear for me, but I did and most surprisingly of all, it didn’t scare me.

 

His soulful green eyes met mine as my hand caressed his soft cheek. I wondered what he would look like with stubble. It would only personify his bad boy image. Why my thoughts drifted to that, I could not admit, even to myself. Edward reached up with the hand that was on my back and grasped mine that tried so hard to soothe his anguish. He closed his eyes, turning to kiss my palm, slowly and gently caressing my flesh. With his eyes boring into mine, he gave a final kiss and then removed both of our hands.

 

“Bella, I have to make a phone call, can you please excuse me.”

 

I nodded in confusion as he rose kissing my cheek. I watched him as he crossed the room, pulling open the door leading to the pool, and retrieving his phone from his front pocket. My gaze was broken when I saw that Tanya was taken out the same door not a second after, her sobs were loud and pleading.

 

Esme joined me on the couch, wrapping her arm securely around me. “Come love, we have a party to attend.”

 

I looked over at the patio door, hoping to see Edward walking back in.

 

“Don’t worry, you will get used to the phone calls that have to be taken in private.” Her smile was welcomed and her touch needed. “Come, he will find you when he’s finished.”

 

The party was in full swing, and it looked as if no one had even missed us. Waiters carried trays of food and both bars seemed to be very busy. I did notice that Vivian Denali was no longer standing beside her friend. Rose and Emmett were laughing at something that Alice was saying, her arms gesturing wildly and I wondered what was so funny. I stopped a waiter walking by with a tray and snatched a glass of champagne, wanting something to hold onto as I waited for Edward.

 

Rose caught my eye and winked, motioning for me to join them, but when I started to step in their direction, I noticed how people looked at me, smiling and nodding their heads. Men looked at me before quickly averting their eyes. Wives were smiling sweetly and their compliments came freely, on how my dress looked, one they had seen in a movie. I only smiled and excused myself to continue my journey to the happy couple.

 

What should have been a short walk that took less than a minute, stretched out to nearly fifteen minutes, because I was continuously stopped. When I finally said, excuse me, for what felt like the hundredth time, I saw a man from the corner of my eye. I diverted my attention to him and noticed it was the manager from the bank, Mr. Newton. I chuckled to myself thinking how he must be attending this party to keep face, and sadly, money in his bank; or perhaps, he was a close friend of the family, but somehow I doubted it.

 

Mr. Newton’s attention was on the wall behind me, and I slowly turned around to see what had him so captivated, only to see Edward walking in his direction. Mr. Newton greeted Edward warmly, with his all Colgate smile and friendly words, I was certain. Edward’s face remained blank, meaning he was all business. Mr. Newton looked around quickly before passing a white envelope to Edward. He put the envelope into the breast pocket of his suit jacket, then said something to a still smiling Mr. Newton.

 

I waited for a moment more, only to see Edward attempt to seek me out in the crowd. His eyes seemed relieved as he took in my appearance. He quickly walked over to me, ignoring others who attempted to stop him to make conversation. He stood so close to me, I wasn’t sure there was much of us that wasn’t touching.

 

“Bella, I know I asked you to this party, but…” His eyes gazed down to his shoes, well, if he could see them that is, they were more focused on my chest.

 

“What is it?” I questioned, as I lowered my head trying to get him to look at me.

 

“Can you trust me?” He questioned in a rushed voice.

 

“Can you trust me to be alone with me at my condo?”

 

You could feel the apprehension rushing off him. Something was going on and it was affecting him in a way that made him unsure of himself, questioning my comfort was something he had never done.

 

“Edward, talk to me.” I pleaded, wanting to help him feel better.

 

“I…I will, Bella, just not here, not with everyone watching.”

 

I nodded my head, but said nothing. He didn’t hesitate to take my hand firmly in his leading me back into the kitchen. He, again, didn’t acknowledge the guests as they muttered hello to him. He was a man on a mission. The SUV that brought us to the party was there and waiting, Edward didn’t hesitate to open the door and usher me inside. Once he was seated beside me, the driver put the car in gear, and he reached for my hand as we headed for his home.

 

Beta Note:

 

I would like to take a moment to thank you ladies in the FB group for your condolences, thoughts, and prayers, in regards to the passing of my sister. She passed unexpectedly last Sunday-1 week ago today. She was 49, and the only positive I could find in this situation, was that she passed in her sleep. It was a busy, stressful, emotional week getting everything ready for her funeral on Thursday. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Through reading her stories, is how I met Cayce. I offered to be her beta, and the rest is history. I have found a great friend in her. I feel we have grown close over time. She’s a crazy gal and we can freely joke with each other, and we are both Ga peaches! Hope you enjoy the chapter, as more secrets are revealed, ones I don’t even know yet. Next, is the big talk with E &B. ~~Kim Roland-Edwards

 

A/N:

 

I know everyone wanted Edward to tell Bella the truth, however, Bella has some things she has to come clean about as well. Hang in there, things are changing for the better. I wonder if anyone will post bail for Tanya?~~~Cayce Poponea

 

  1. Chapter 37

 

Chapter 36

 

EPOV

 

I watched that ring flip in the air, twisting and turning like a roulette wheel. I had wanted to wait a little while longer before admitting the truth, but as the gold band landed in my father’s palm, I knew judgment day had arrived. Excusing myself and placing the call, I knew how this was going to play out. Hell, I should just hand her my fucking gun so that she could kill me and get it over with, surely that would be less painful than watching her face as I admitted I took her future from her.

 

Mike Newton had been on my family’s payroll for a while now. He was stupid enough to believe that we kept him around because he was good at his job, the truth was, he was a punk assed bitch that jumped every time one of us called. I knew he would be waiting on me when I walked into the room.

 

“Mr. Cullen.” Mike’s nasal voice sounded as I grew closer to him. He tried to act all gangster with his leather jacket and wallet chain. No doubt if he was placed in a situation, he would shit his pants and run like a little bitch. I didn’t make eye contact with him as he held his hand out for me to shake. I declined the offer and simply dropped my fingers motioning for him to hand me what I had asked for.

 

“Do you want to go into another room to…?”

 

I didn’t let him finish. He honestly thought I gave a fuck who saw me take something from him. I had bigger things to worry about than a bunch of gossiping bitches.

 

“Move.” I snapped at him once the envelope was secured into the pocket of my jacket.

 

I knew that I had to tell Bella the truth, but more than that, I had to let her know that no matter her decision, she would be safe and taken care of. So many secrets that had been kept from her to protect her, only proved to hurt her. While turning on the lights in my condo, I tried not to think that this was the last time I would see her here. The place I had fantasied about bringing her to, loving her, and cherishing her. None of that mattered now and as I turned on the last light, I turned and asked her if she was hungry.

 

“No, not really.” Her gentle voice responded and I could only nod and ask her to have a seat. She walked toward my sofa passing my entertainment center. I wanted to switch on the television and hold her as we watched some mundane movie or some shit, but that would never happen, not once I told her the truth.

 

“Edward, what’s going on? What do you have to tell me?”

 

I couldn’t take it. She was being so nice and caring towards me. How many months I had longed for this and now that it was happening, now that she was finally starting to see me, the man who loved her. I had to smash her entire world…again.

 

“Bella.” I took her hand as I sat down beside her. I had to just do this quickly, rip the proverbial Band-Aid.

 

“Listen, what I have to say, I need…” My voice wavered and I considered for a single second to just tell her that James had been completely responsible and that it was his idea and his decision for Jared to die. But looking into her chocolate eyes and seeing what I just knew was the start of what would have been an amazing love between us, I just couldn’t lie to her.

 

“Bella.” I steadied myself again and removed the envelope from my jacket pocket, placing it in the center of the coffee table.

 

“Before I tell you anything, I need you to know that this.” I thumped the envelope with my index finger twice as I looked directly in her eyes. “Is twice what you paid for the flower shop. If, after you hear what I have to say, you want to leave, then take the money. Get on the next flight to wherever and I swear on my life that I won’t try and find you. I will honor your untouchable status and leave you alone.”

 

Her face contorted into a grimace, then she looked over at the envelope that rested under my finger.

 

“Can I ask you something first?” her voice sounding inquisitive and curious.

 

“Anything” My resolve fading.

 

“What does that mean? Untouchable.”

 

Of all of the questions she could have tossed at me, this wasn’t the one I would have guessed. I found it hard to believe that she didn’t know this. I would have thought Jared would have given her that title.

 

“Well….I…” Why I was having such an issue even telling her this was beyond me.

 

“Edward, I’m not stupid, I know what your family is about. I just need to know if it means the same as in the movies.”

 

Still a bit confused, she should know this. Jared wasn’t high in the organization by any means, but he was a leader in his small ring. She had to know….

 

“Yeah, baby, it’s just like in the movies, only a bit more real. When I gave you that title, I placed this ring of protection around you. No one can lay a finger on you without having to deal with the repercussions, myself included.” Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open slightly at my confirmation of the meaning.

 

“So…you…um….you couldn’t hurt me? I mean, if I chose not to be with you…” She rolled her hand to indicate being together sexually. “That you couldn’t have me…dealt with?”

 

I smiled at her words, completely avoiding certain words like saying them would get her mouth washed out with soap.

 

“I would be forced to allow one of my men to put a bullet between my eyes. Just like I did to James.”

 

And without even meaning to do it, I opened the door to the conversation I needed to have. Bella looked to the floor and then back to me. Realization lighting up her face, confusing the fuck right out of me. She had been engaged to a man with similar connections, this just didn’t make sense.

 

“Bella, when James attacked you, he knew you were an untouchable. He knew the repercussions, and even if I hadn’t announced that, he was aware that you had…You had been involved with someone else who had given you that title.” My heart was pounding while I took her fingers in my hand, holding on to the last touch of warmth I was certain to feel from her. I knew that at any second, she would pull away, take the money and run. “A few months ago, I got a call from one of my grunts in Port Angeles that a punk by the name of Jared Black was running his mouth.” Bella’s face took on a blank look as I continued to confess.

 

“Said he was bragging about taking extra money off the top, cutting drugs a little harder. Said he was a tough mother fucker that wasn’t afraid of the higher ups. I talked with James who sent one of his old girls out there to see if it was true or if it was someone who just wanted his spot.”

 

I moved my eyes back to her face, and I raised the hammer and begun to nail my coffin shut.

 

“Baby…I’m so sorry. The minute I found out who you were and who you used to belong to, I should have backed away. I should have let you grieve and heal, but I couldn’t do it. I’m such a selfish bastard and all I wanted was for you to be with me.”

 

I ran my free hand through my hair, wanting to pull it out to counteract the pain that was ripping through my chest.

 

“I called for the hit on Jared. I signed his death warrant. I had James go to Forks and take him out. I didn’t know at the time who you were, but it doesn’t change the fact that I took away the man you loved, the man you were going to marry, the man you let make love to you, the man….”

 

Bella’s voice was strong and loud stopping my admission. “Stop!”

 

My head snapped to her face just in time to catch her launch herself into my lap, her lips connecting hard with mine. Her hands gripped the sides of my head and she tilted my head in the direction she wanted as she separated my lips with her tongue.

 

I was so shocked that I didn’t respond at first. I knew she was aware of my surprise, but she continued to grip my face licking my bottom lip. Reality came crashing down on me, hitting me like a wrecking ball, and I took her face in my hands with the same pressure and passion that she had mine. I kissed her like I had dreamed of doing, sucking on that pouty lip of hers, caressing that sweet perfect tongue of hers, sucking and devouring that mouth I had just been granted access to.

 

I didn’t know what the reason behind this drastic move was, but I didn’t give a flying fuck as I moved her slowly off my lap and across the couch. I wanted to kiss her neck and memorize her body with my hands, but I feared any change in our current activity would remind Bella of what I just confessed. Bella initiated this kiss and she was the one who broke it, taking her lips from where I longed for them to remain. Our eyes locked and I started to apologize, but Bella placed her fingertips on my lips. I took her hand in mine and kissed those fingers. Bella’s eyes looked back and forth between mine before she spoke.

 

“When I first met Jared, he was a nice kid who helped me feel welcome to a new town. Everyone loved him, the entire town thought the world of him since he was always doing something for the community. He thought it would be a good idea for us to be a little more than friends, and so he went and asked my dad, who just happened to be a cop, if he could date me.” I was taken aback by her admission to me that her father was a cop. I knew this already, but for her to admit it considering she knew what I was.

 

“I knew something was up when he told my father that he was taking me for dinner in another town, only to take me to one of those warehouse stores and park behind the building and begin to remove big boxes from the truck. He told me that I didn’t see anything, but I knew what he was doing. I stayed quiet for years, never saying anything to anyone. I overlooked the drugs he hid in the floor of his apartment. The girls who called him constantly, the children around town that had certain features of his.” My hands went out to her and took her into my arms. I hadn’t expected this at all. Jared was an even bigger douche than I had given him credit for.

 

“My father made him swear to take care of me when he died. He took that to the extreme when he asked me to marry him in the town diner.” She looked down continuing, “He didn’t even wait for my answer before putting that fucking ring on my hand.”

 

Bella was silent for several minutes or maybe it was seconds, I didn’t care, because she was still here.

 

“I never slept with him. Never told him I loved him or even agreed to marry him. He just always assumed I felt like he did.”

 

Bella pulled back enough to look at me. “You may have killed the man I would more than likely had married, but you also saved me from a life I didn’t want.”

 

Bella climbed back on my lap and commandeered my lips once again. Leaning back, I let her take the wheel.

 

A/N:

 

Finally! The truth is out. Who was surprised at Bella’s reaction? This is the chapter that I pictured when I began writing this fiction. Thanks to my beta for encouraging me when I gave her the cliff notes. Now some of you are aware that for the past year, I have been planning my daughter’s wedding, and the time has finally arrived. With that being said, there will NOT be an update this Sunday as I will be recovering from celebrating. See y’all next Thursday!

 

  1. Chapter 38

 

Chapter 37

 

BPOV

 

In fairy tales, this would be where the music builds then all is forgiven. Edward would promise to walk the straight and narrow path and I would profess my hidden love for him. In the real world, where most of us live the majority of the time, that’s not what happens. Fear isn’t replaced by love just because new light is shed on an old perspective. In reality, my reaction to Edward’s admission was a genuine one. I do feel differently about him, look at him in a different light.

 

The warmth surrounding me is a continued reminder that he isn’t perfect, far from it. Yet, as I lay here wrapped in Edward’s embrace, listening to the rain pelt the glass that separates me from the storm, I’m reminded of that customer I once thought was homeless and broke. How I challenged his ability to have a credit card that was really his and not stolen from an unsuspecting bystander; to learn his real identity as one of the most wealthy men in the country. I didn’t know how much money Edward had, but by the envelope that still rested on the coffee table, and the speed at which he was able to get that money, I didn’t think it was an issue. Just like the man in Washington, Edward wasn’t what he seemed to be. His tough exterior, devilish good looks, stone cold attitude, were all basic parts of him, however, with his admission of being responsible for Jared’s death and his selfless act of giving me a wide open door to run if I wanted to, showed me a side I doubt many people ever saw.

 

I turned my body slightly to try and see the man, the real man, the one who ended our kissing and insisted he be allowed to continue to show me how much he truly loved me in a non-physical way. How he wanted to have himself checked out by his physician knowing now that Tanya was James’ wife, and also knowing that James was one to outdo him in the sexual proneness area.

 

My heart nearly melted when he confessed that he had only been with Jessica in a complete sexual manor in the past several months. His reveal that his relationship with Tanya was of a fetish nature, seeking to fill his need to see acts of sex. He practically stumbled over himself as he tried to assure me that he had no real desire for that any further. I didn’t want to get into that with him, with everything else that I found out recently, I can only digest one thing at a time. Porn will have to wait for another day.

 

In all the times I looked at Edward, I had failed to notice the scar that haphazardly peeked out from his right eyebrow, or how he had three freckles on his left cheek under his eye. I learned that his hair was so soft and yet thick as I buried my fingers in it holding onto dear life while I kissed him. Most of all, I learned that I liked the way I felt when he held me like this. The way his body molded to mine, yet didn’t suffocate me with his closeness, or the sweet feel of his breath as it glided over my cheek with every breath he took while he slumbered peacefully.

 

The thunder that rumbled outside was enough to make me jump and Edward to pull me in tighter. I had just closed my eyes in contentment when he spoke, his eyes still closed.

 

“You always smell so good.” His voice was thick with sleep,

 

My eyes snapped open in surprise to see him looking at me intently. His words made me feel things, things I shouldn’t be feeling, things that would get me into trouble.

 

“Well, thank god for that.” I chuckled, trying to rid myself of the thoughts that were coming to mind…Edward lowered his head placing his nose in the crook of my neck and inhaling deeply before moving lower..

 

“I’m serious, you always smell so good to me. Not perfume, just…you.”

 

In life we all get to make choices, for good or bad, we have that right and ability. With everything that has happened, I chose to let Edward in.

 

“You know, when you’re being this sweet, I can almost forget that I hated you.” I chuckled laying my hand on his face.

 

“Oh baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet.” He spoke in this deep sexy voice as he maneuvered his body over mine taking hold of my lips again as the rain continued to pour outside.

 

~~~oooOO~~SWK~~OOooo~~~

 

“I got a call from the county jail this morning.”

 

Edward had really laid on the charm in the two weeks since the truth had come out. He made it a point to call me every morning and stop by the shop as often as he could. Carlisle wasn’t too pleased at the massive holes in the security of the family. He and Edward had been holding late meetings in order to get things back the way they should be. Tonight, however, Edward had shown up with take out from my favorite restaurant. He insisted on having a carpet picnic, complete with a checkered blanket. With each passing day of the new and improved Edward, it was getting easier and easier to forget what he really did.

 

“Oh yeah? Alex need bail money?” I joked as I shoved a wonton into my mouth.

 

Edward stirred his food with his chopsticks as he continued with his story, looking up at me before he spoke again.

 

“No, Tanya.” He replied, emotionless.

 

I stopped chewing as my eyes widened. Something deep down told me she would call him.

 

“Seems she’s run out of people to call to post bail and hire her an attorney. I was her last resort.”

 

It was weird to watch him be so callus about this. I honestly was ready for him to tell me that he had one of his guys go down there and get her out. I mean they did have a long history together, twisted as it was, it was still a relationship. I couldn’t stop myself from expressing my curiosity.

 

“No desire to help her out?” The words were out there, and even if I wanted to, I couldn’t take them back…not that I wanted to mind you.

 

Edward placed his food on the table he had moved out of the way for our picnic, closing the distance between us, and not giving a verbal response to my question. No words were said as he removed my food and placed it behind me, his movements were fluid and deliberate. With feather light touches, he began to kiss the underside of my chin, his hands making a path for his lips to follow. His movements felt so good that I tilted my head back and settled in to enjoy his mission.

 

Edward had brought me this large box a few days ago, once I opened it, I found it to be filled with the same caramel candy that he had given me in the past. Buried in that candy was his test results, all negative. With this, I dared to ask the question I had placed in the shadows of my mind, could he give up his fetish for live porn? He answered with another box, one that contained several porn movies, I tossed them at him as we both fell into a fit of giggles. Edward admitted he didn’t have the desire for it as he once did. He told me that having what you really wanted in life will do that to you. I only smiled as I kissed his stubbly cheek, only time will tell.

 

Edward does have one thing that drives me completely insane, this little growl that comes from deep within his chest when he is aroused. We have explored each other to an extent, but always with clothes on. He wants me to be on the same emotional level as he is before we take that next step. However, with what he is currently doing with his tongue on my neck, I may not be able to wait.

 

His open mouth kisses and nips with his teeth have caused my eyes to roll to the back of my head. The way his hands moved down my back and to the top of my ass, making a complete circuit, leaving my body in complete turmoil of desire in the wake.

 

“Edward.” I rasped out. He knew what he was doing to me. He knew how to play my body so well.

 

“Hmm?” He mumbled while increasing his little nips. I’m nearly shaking at this point.

 

“E-Edward…please d-don’t…tease m-m-me.” My voice sounded more wanton than I was comfortable with. Why I let him do this to me, I’ll never know.

 

Edward pulled back only to place tender kisses to my face, nose and eyelids.

 

“Not trying to tease you sweetheart, just making certain you know where Tanya stands in my life; not a blip on the radar.”

 

His expression told me he was telling me the truth. Tanya will be a distant memory if I just allow it to happen. If he isn’t willing to keep her memory alive, who am I to argue?

 

“But most importantly, I want you to know where you are and will always be in my life.”

 

He doesn’t wait for my response as he pushes himself on me guiding me to lay back. His lips going straight to my collarbone where my shirt was open enough for him to attack. My hands go reflexively to his shoulders. Shoulders, I’ve found to be strong and able to support me when I need them. His free hand made quick removal of the remaining buttons and before I could wrap my mind around it, my shirt was completely open and Edward had his tongue lapping at the skin between my breasts. I should stop him, make him work harder to deserve my body, but the way he was driving me crazy right now, I couldn’t make my mouth work.

 

Edward had to have majored in seduction in college, because he has made me completely incoherent. I could feel the slightest bit of cool air across my breasts, which was followed by his warm mouth that attached itself to my left nipple. I gasped in surprise, I didn’t even feel his teeth moving my bra out of the way, but, hell, I was too lost to stop him. Too far gone to care. I reached behind him to grasp the hem of his t-shirt, a new addition to his appearance. His normal suit and tie was usually forgotten when he visited me in the evening, a look I have grown to appreciate.

 

I could feel his thigh between my legs, his knee hitting the apex that is now on fire for this man. I swear to all that is holy that if he just applied a little bit more pressure, I was going to explode. With his shirt now off and my climax on the horizon, I tried to flip us over, I wanted some of the control in this encounter, but the shrill of his cell stilled his kisses, and damn it all to hell, the movement of his knee. In exasperation, he dropped his head between my breasts and mumbled a very clear and very angry, “motherfucker!”

 

With anger rolling off his body, he sat up and answered his phone. Only he is so angry that he doesn’t say a single word, only listens. I sit up as well, tucking my nipple back in my bra cup. I avoided touching him, afraid his rage will turn towards me.

 

“Fuck!” He cursed ending the call. I knew by his body language that this was about work and he needed to handle this.

 

“Go…Do you thing.” I said buttoning up my shirt. I sent him a smile saying I understood. He had a job he had to do.

 

Edward pulled his t-shirt back on, adjusting the gun that I knew rested in the middle of his back. He kissed me softly twice once he had everything in its place.

 

I stood up and started to clean up our un-eaten food while he took out his phone typing a text message.

 

“Baby, I want to take you away very soon, continue what I started, only do it the right way. Candles, flowers, bubble baths. Check your schedule and you give me a weekend that you can get away.”

 

I only smiled at him nodding in understanding. This may never happen with everything that was going on, but I knew he was trying to be better for me.

 

“I will, I’ll check in the morning.” I knew I would go downstairs as soon as he left to check, and close any weekend that was open.

 

“I’ll call you later if it isn’t too late.” He swears as he kissed me one final time.

 

“Never too late.” I remind him.

 

“I love you Bella.” His eyes were genuine. He tells me this every time he leaves, and when he calls me. He doesn’t wait for me to say it back, he knows I can’t lie to him. I don’t love him, but the feeling isn’t far away. He reminded me to lock the door and he would lock the stair’s door when he leaves. I get one last kiss as he apologizes again and then he was gone.

 

Beta Note:

 

Well, we get a little foreplay here…So, I believe that we’ll have the big lemon coming soon? Anndd, maybe some action? If there are any mistakes, I’m apologize, I didn’t have a lot of time, *cuts evil eye to Cayce*, but please let us know so we can fix it. Enjoy!

 

  1. Chapter 39

 

Chapter 38

 

BPOV

 

“In local news, a trial date has been set for known mob leader, Alex Volturi. Mr. Volturi has been charged with extortion of a federal judge and three counts of accessory to murder. His arrest comes at the same time as a cold case file on his son, Larkin Volturi, was reopened when a Victoria Hunter was arrested for the now murder of Larkin. Reports indicate that Victoria Hunter, who is known on the streets as Tanya Denali, is being held without bond until an attorney can be assigned. Due to her connection with the Volturi family, the DA office is having a difficult time in getting council assigned to her case. In other news, local farmers are….”

 

I clicked off the television as the bell over my door jingled. Edward kept his word and did call me in the wee hours of the morning after he left the other night. He didn’t mention what was going on, and I chose not to ask him. Given the current state of things, the less I knew, the better.

 

After placing a bright red bow to finish off the three dozen red roses that were being sent to Ms. Pappas down the street, it was their 55th wedding anniversary tomorrow, I turned my attention to the customer that just walked in.

 

“I’ll be right with you.” I told them while trying to fix the bow that didn’t want to cooperate. Finally, I got it just right and placed the arrangement in the cooler. Wiping my hands, I made my way to the front of the store only to stop in my tracks as I took in who had entered the store.

 

“Hello, Miss Swan.”

 

Standing in a business suit-jacket, blouse, and slacks-was Jessica. Well, a girl who looked a lot like Jessica, minus the trashy clothes and excessive makeup. Her hair was straight and she looked so young and almost carefree.

 

“Jessica?” I questioned, complete surprise in my voice and I’m sure my face showed just as much.

 

She smiled nodding her head eagerly and I couldn’t help but to mimic her smile as well. She had put on a little weight, but it looked good on her. The more saddle tones of makeup made her look more beautiful than the last time I saw her.

 

“I saw what happened to Tanya in the newspaper.” she looked down at her fingers that were crossed just under her waist. She looked nervous and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. She had never offended me. Her relationship with Edward ended before he began to pursue me.

 

“I know what you must think of me. I knew Tanya would have lashed out and told you horrible things about what she and I did together.”

 

Her eyes never left the floor as she confessed her sins to me. I had no issue with Jessica. She did what she felt she needed to do, or perhaps, she felt she had to do them in order to stay in Edward’s good graces. Sadly, he had been a douche to her and she had accepted that or tolerated it. It made me happy that Edward was trying so hard to change for me.

 

“I think that you look really healthy and much better without all that makeup.”

 

Her eyes immediately flashed to mine as a shocked expression crossed her beautiful face.

 

I smiled as I stepped closer to her, raising my arms, silently asking for permission to hug her. Her face broke out into a smile as she returned my jester and hugged me with gusto.

 

“I’m glad you came by, it’s good to see you.” I whispered in her ear, swaying back and forth as I gently patted her back. Slowly releasing her, I looked into her eyes, which had the slightest amount of unshed tears.

 

“So, tell me what you’ve been up to, what’s been going on with you?” Jessica had no reason to feel uncomfortable. This was my store and I wanted her to feel good about being here.

 

I motioned for her to follow me to the back so that we could talk without blocking the door. Welcoming her into my office, I encouraged her to have a seat in one of the chairs.

 

“Can I get you a cup of tea?” I asked as I began to pour one for myself.

 

“Hell Bella, I wouldn’t know how to even make a cup of tea.” She rolled her eyes crossing her legs.

 

“Well let’s do something to change that.”

 

I made her a cup the way Esme had made for me that first time I came into her office. I wanted to have a gentle soul just like Esme. I would start with being kind to Jessica. She quietly thanked me as I handed her the cup and saucer. She looked at the amber liquid for several moments before she took the handle and brought the cup to her lips.

 

“Oh my god! This is really good.” She praised and I smiled around the top of my own cup.

 

“So, tell me what’s new with you?” I encouraged, genuinely interested in her answer.

 

Jessica sat her cup down, her posture a little straighter as she turned to face me.

 

“Well, when Edward had the guys moved me to a hotel, I knew I had to do something quick. I had some money of my own, but I knew it wouldn’t last long. I ended up selling some of the jewelry that Edward had gifted me. I was sitting in the hotel one night and thinking about everything that had happened and what you had said to me about depending on myself. I knew that if I had followed your advice, I wouldn’t be living the way I was. So, I decided right then and there I was going to be more self-sufficient. I went and visited a career counselor and she recommend that I try and take classes for becoming a makeup artist. I checked into schools and found one that has a really good reputation and a good placement system.”

 

I could hear the excitement in her voice as she shared her story, it was nice to hear the hope it held for her.

 

“So, I went down and visited the school and as it turns out, I have enough money to pay my tuition and supplies.”

 

A deaf person could hear the sadness that had suddenly taken over her voice, the way her shoulders bowed and her face dropped.

 

“Jessica, this sounds like a good thing. What’s the problem?” I encouraged.

 

Her eyes looked so sad when they met mine. “Once I pay the tuition, I won’t have much left over; not enough to pay my rent and get back and forth to school.”

 

I gave her some time to finish her thoughts. I somewhat suspected what she was about to ask.

 

“I know this is completely crazy and you’re going to kick me out of your store the second I ask, but I have nowhere else to turn.” Her voice started to tremble as she spoke.

 

“I heard you’ve been doing really well and I was wondering if you needed any help? You know answering the phones, sweeping the floor…anything.”

 

I leaned back in my chair pondering her question. Jessica was serious about trying to better herself, become more dependent on her abilities and not a man who was taking advantage of her. Everyone deserved to be successful and given a second chance. If I was willing to let Edward prove himself to me, then I had to give Jessica the same opportunity.

 

“I tell you what, I do need someone who can answer the phone, take out the trash, put away new stock and keep the back room organized. I can work around your school schedule and even show you a few things about flowers.”

 

Jessica didn’t wait another second before leaping from her chair and throwing herself on my lap.

 

“Oh my god! Thank you, Bella! I swear you won’t regret…”

 

She suddenly pulled back and looked at me cautiously. “Wait…what will Edward say? Don’t you have to ask him first?”

 

I smiled at her as she removed herself from my lap, my laughter getting the best of me.

 

“Jessica, until I have a wedding ring on my left hand, I don’t have to ask Edward to do anything.”

 

I showed Jessica how to work the computer system and she caught on very quickly. It was decided that since she went to school every day from nine until two, that she would work from three until the cleanup was done after the store closed. She was a huge help answering the phone while I could concentrate on filling orders. Angela returned from lunch and shot me a questionable look at Jessica working behind the counter. I only winked at her tossing her apron at her. The afternoon was extremely busy and I said a silent prayer that I didn’t have to attend to the phone or clean up the mess on the floor. It was half an hour until closing and I hadn’t managed to unpack the shipment that had arrived this morning. Once I showed her the storage room, Jessica started opening up boxes and putting the contents away. I made my way out to the front of the store to help Angela. Once she was finished with the customer that was picking up a large order she turned her attention to me and began her interrogation.

 

“Really, Bella?” Angela demanded.

 

I walked over to where she stood with her hands on her hip, a confused look on her face. I told her the entire story about Jessica’s situation, and with every word her face softened more. When I was finished, she was hugging me with tears in her eyes.

 

“Bella Swan, you are good people.” She said when the bell rang over the door.

 

With Angela now on team Jessica, I turned my attention to the last customer of the day, I hoped. My breath caught in my throat as I took in the sight before me. There in the entrance of my store was a face I hadn’t seen in months. His cover hanging in his hands, his dark hair a little longer than the last time I saw him.

 

“Jacob?” My voice disbelieving.

 

He nodded his head closing the distance between us. His arms held me so tight, I found it hard to breathe. Jacob was a handsome man, more so in his uniform.

 

I pulled back with fresh tears in my eyes. “Oh my god! How did you know where to find me?” My voice was raspy with emotion.

 

“Well, when my buddy Cheney came back from leave, he couldn’t quit talking about this girl named Bella. I asked him to describe her and it was too much of a coincidence. He then showed me a photo of his girl Angela and this Bella, imagine my surprise when the two were the same.”

 

I was so happy to see him that I forgot to be nervous at his admission. A month ago, this would have sent me running, however, now that the truth was out, I didn’t have to even think about it.

 

“I got some leave and decided to make a quick stop and check on you. You may have been my brother’s girl, but you were like a sister to me. You look good by the way.”

 

Before I could answer him, to tell him I couldn’t be happier, a frantic voice behind me called out my name. I turned to find Jessica holding two rolls of ribbon, one in each hand.

 

“Bella, I’m sorry to bug you, but I can’t figure out what the difference….”

 

Jessica suddenly looked up from the ribbon and noticed what was going on in the room. In the cheesy Hollywood movies, the music stops and the main characters look longingly into each other eyes, love at first sight is quoted. I never believed in that Hollywood bullshit…until now. Jacob had this look on his face as if he had just found world peace. Jessica’s face turned from confusion to pure bliss. I felt awkward standing between them, like a voyeur or an ease dropper.

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude, I’m Jacob Black.”

 

Jacob seemed to come back to reality as he walked past me, his hand extended towards Jessica. Poor Jessica was still stuck in awe as she continued to look at him. Jacob, the ever present gentleman, took the ribbon from her hands, causing Jessica to finally come back to reality. Her eyes blinked rapidly as the ribbon fell from her fingers. She quickly apologized and bent down to retrieve the unraveling rolls. Jacob was already dropping his pack to the floor and on one knee to assist her, their eyes never wavered from each other. I felt Angela wrapping her hand around my arm. Looking towards her, she motioned for me to follow her to my office.

 

“Like I said Swan, good people.”

 

Angela and I managed to drink a cup of tea before Jacob came into the room with Jessica, holding her hand.

 

“Bella, would it be alright if Jessica left early? I’ve asked her to join me for dinner, but she said she had work to do.”

 

I smiled as I saw Jessica’s pleading eyes, she was happy and I was happy for her.

 

“See you after class tomorrow, Jessica.” I waved her away.

 

Jessica smiled in relief and Jacob came over and kissed my cheek.

 

“Thank you.” He whispered in my ear as he backed away.

 

“Oh, and Jessica?” I called as they headed out of the room.

 

Jessica turned with Jacob wrapping his arm around her waist.

 

“Wear jeans tomorrow, I need you to do some straightening in the back.”

 

Her smile grew bigger before looking up at Jacob. Yes, everyone did deserve a second chance.

 

Beta Note:

 

Bet you didn’t expect that did ya? Some people can turn their life around along with being given second chances.

 

  1. Chapter 40

 

Chapter 39

 

BPOV

 

Jacob had been in town for a little more than two weeks and during that time he and Jessica had been joined at the hip. Jessica had confided in me that she was worried Jacob didn’t like her as much as she liked him due to the fact that he hadn’t tried to sleep with her. I assured her that he was only being respectful since he was only here for a short period of time.

 

“But, Bella, he still a guy.”

 

Jessica had taken to learning how to make bows, she loved how you could take straight ribbon and turn it into something so pretty. She was a natural at it. She had also made the entire back room a complete organized system. Everything had a place and was alphabetized and color coded.

 

“I mean even Edward….” She stopped before she went into detail. This was an area she was struggling with…Edward. Her facial expression was one that showed fear, fear that I would be angry at her for her involvement with him. I explained over and over that I held no ill will, but it was very difficult for her to remember.

 

“Im so sorry, Bella.” Her voice exasperated, her hands dropping the yellow ribbon she was currently working with.

 

“I am trying so hard to put him behind me, not compare him to Jacob.”

 

She really was trying. She chastised herself far more than I ever did. She was right though, she shouldn’t compare the two. I knew them both and could bear witness that as different as they were in looks and personality, they were alike as well. Both Edward and Jacob were fiercely loyal and protective.

 

“You know it’s much harder when they are so alike in many ways.”

 

Jessica gave me a strange look before turning her body in my direction. She didn’t expect my analysis. Most likely she had compared them in a sexual manner and not in the direction I was headed.

 

“You have to remember that I’ve known Jacob for what seems like forever. He has been like an older brother to me for years and even though he went away right after he graduated, he kept in touch making certain his brother was being good to me.”

 

It was a little white lie, Jacob did call and check on me, usually a quick call to his father and then I would hear through the grapevine that he had asked about me. The truth was, the second he joined the Marines, he put Washington in his rear view mirror. I always suspected he knew what his brother was up to and wanted nothing to do with his activity. It also didn’t surprise me that he had spent the majority of his leave here in Chicago and not in Washington with his dad. Billy knew more than he let on about his son’s wrongdoings, Jacob also knew that and I would bet that was the reason he sought me out and not his father.

 

“Edward kept close tabs on me, even though I refused him, so you see, they really aren’t so different.”

 

Jacob had requested to have lunch with me before he left. Edward had wanted to have him over to his condo, but Jacob told me he wanted to have time with just me. Edward grumbled at first until I reminded him that he had killed Jacob’s twin. With much debate, Edward agreed to have lunch with his father instead. Jacob was scheduled to fly out to Washington for the last three days of his leave, but he had called the airlines and rescheduled to fly out from Chicago, giving him three more days with Jessica instead. I had arranged to have the shop closed for lunch and Angela gave me no argument as she had a final dress fitting to attend. I made lunch and had everything set up by the time Jacob showed up. He had been staying at the same hotel that Jessica was still in. She had been trying to save money to get her own apartment, but so far had not been able to. When I mentioned having Jessica working for me and how she was still living in a hotel, Edward came up with the brilliant idea that I move in with him and have her live in my apartment over the shop.

 

“Baby, I hate having you so far away at night.” He grumbled every time we had to say goodnight at his house. “It makes so much more sense because she needs a place to stay and you need to stay here.”

 

He was really quite cute when he pleads his case. I kissed his pouty lip which had led to our umpteenth attempt to being intimate that resulted in being blocked by either his work or an unexpected guest. However, that matter was about to be rectified as our weekend getaway had been planned and confirmed. He wouldn’t tell me where he was taking me, but I did know that clothing was optional.

 

The bell above the door announced Jacobs’s arrival. His sunglasses were perched atop his nose and his phone glued to his ear. It didn’t take a genius to figure out who he was talking to. Without waiting for him to finish his call, I motioned for him to follow me upstairs. I kept looking behind me as I passed the secured door that led to the back courtyard and loading dock. Carlisle had installed an automatic locking door with a motion sensor when Esme owned the store and every time I walked by it, I silently thanked him for giving me such assurance. Heading up the stairs and into my apartment, Jacob finally ended the call and met up with me.

 

He bent down and gently kissed my cheek. “Hey, beautiful.” His husky voice made me smile.

 

“I’m glad you could make it.” I said in return. His face looked fresh and well rested.

 

“Are you kidding? Jess practically shoved me out the door earlier so I could get a nice shave from one of the guys at her school.” He spoke while reaching up and running his hand along his fresh shaved chin.

 

“It’s the last shave I’ll have for a while.”

 

Jessica and I had discussed Jacob’s return to the desert. He had about 6 months left until he was assigned somewhere else. She didn’t want to think about him going back and had decided to just focus on him being here for now. Angela had taken her out for coffee and talked to her about what to expect while he was away. I got the impression from them both that this wasn’t something that would end when he got on the plane.

 

“You leave on Saturday, right?”

 

He nodded in affirmation. I knew Jessica would be worthless come Monday at work and had given her the choice to stay home. She declined saying she would rather keep as busy as possible.

 

“I need to ask you a favor?” His eyes were serious, dark and stoic.

 

“Sure, what can I help with?” I motioned for him to sit on the sofa, the afternoon sun illuminating the shine of his dark hair and tan skin.

 

“Make sure Jess takes care of herself.” His words sounded like he was trying to end things.

 

“I know about her and your Edward.” He admitted. “She told me everything the first night we met.” He shook his head as he continued, looking down at his fingers resting along the back of the sofa pillows.

 

“She just knew I would high tail and run.” He shook his head again, but a tight smile began to form on his face.

 

“Clearly you didn’t, that must mean something.” I prodded, wanting to know where his head was in all of this.

 

He shifted his body and gave me a look that clearly said, ‘cut the bullshit.’

 

“Come on Bella, I know what type of low life my brother was.”

 

Hearing him admit what I felt was…weird. I had grown so used to hearing from everyone in town what a wonderful person he was, all the good he had done, but to have someone who shared my inner reality made me feel strange…uncomfortable.

 

“He treated you with such disrespect with the different girls all the time, all the drugs and stolen goods. Hell, he even got that sorry excuse for an engagement ring off an old girlfriend.”

 

Now that was something I didn’t know. I had always assumed he picked it up in a pawn shop or got it from some deal he made, but an old girlfriend? This made me so much happier that I hadn’t let him into my bed or my heart for that matter. My silence must have alerted something in Jacob because he rubbed my knee getting my focus back on his face.

 

“So, you’re not surprised that I knew. I mean he wore hundred dollar shirts and he didn’t have a job for Christ’s sake.” He tossed up his hands to emphasize his point.

 

“I know you live in the real world. The rest of the town can sing his praise all they want, including my father for that matter, but I knew what he was about. I couldn’t just sit back and let that happen, but he refused to change and that left me no choice. The Marines gave me what I needed at the time.” He said the latter in an almost a hushed voice with his eyes down cast.

 

“And now?”

 

Raising his head and taking a deep breath. “Now, I’ve found a reason to keep going, a reason to try harder, be a better man.”

 

We continued to sit and talk for a while longer. Angela called up and said the shop was slow enough she and Jessica could handle things. Just before dinner time, Edward called and demanded that he get his girl back. He arrived a few minutes later and insisted he take everyone out for dinner. Jacob and Jessica were attached at the lips and hips the entire time. When the evening ended, Jacob asked to speak with Edward privately and I feared he was going to confront him about the death of his twin.

 

I watched the exchange from the back seat of the black SUV Edward had pick us up in. Jacob pointed a finger at him, then Edward would do the same to him. In the end, they shook hands and smiled as they patted each other’s backs. Edward begged me to sleep over at his condo, but I reminded him that we had three weddings to do for the upcoming weekend. He walked me up the side stairs to my apartment and it took him three attempts to really leave.

 

Edward refused to tell me what he and Jacob had discussed and I chose to let it go…for now. Standing outside my apartment door, I watched Edward walk back to his SUV then honking the horn to tell me bye. I was still ramped up from all the conversations that had gone on around the table at dinner, I decided to open a bottle of wine and relax.

 

I had barely collapsed on the couch and honestly rethinking my decision to not stay with Edward when there was a knock on my door. I smiled knowing it was Edward coming back to try and persuade me once again to come home with him…this time I was ready to go and I jumped off the couch and hurried to the door.

 

“Okay, okay. You wi…”

 

My words were cut off when I opened the door and lost my breath at the person standing on the other side.

 

“Hello baby, miss me?”

 

The only sound in the room was of my wine glass shattering on the wooden floor.

 

Beta Note:

 

Well, there was another twist that was unraveled. Jacob knew all about his brother and we now know where he got the engagement ring, but the question is, from which old girlfriend? That may be irrelevant. Now, who’s at the door? Will Edward save Bella in time and is it someone she needs saving from?-All mistakes are mine if they are any, definitely no Homonyms, but if so please let me or Cayce know…I’m ready for some action in this story, are you?

 

  1. Chapter 41

 

Chapter 41

 

EPOV

 

The smell of sweet flowers and spice surround me as I snuggled further into Bella. Our bodies were cocooned with each other on my leather couch as the rain pelted overhead. Who ever said, the truth will set you free knew a thing or two. Telling Bella the truth was one of the hardest things I had ever done; will ever do. But now as I pull her in closer to my chest, I wish I would have been honest from the beginning. I should have listened to my dad when he told me he would never let someone he loved live with a lie. Taking in another nose full of her sweet scent I vowed to be more like my father, less like the monster I had become.

 

“Carlisle, something just isn’t sitting well with me.”

 

My father wasn’t happy in the least about all the holes in our security. We had become complacent and lazy with our security, a mistake that would not be repeating itself.

 

“Oh yeah? What exactly?”

 

I had gone over surveillance tapes of everything that had happened. Carlisle had agreed to corporate with the authorities and give them most of what we had. He wasn’t stupid enough to show them the locations of our warehouses, however, regardless of how many times I looked at those tapes, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

 

“I just don’t….feel.” Rolling my hands in a circle over and over, completely lost for the words I needed.

 

My father turned towards me whispering, “Always go with that gut feeling you have right now. It will never lie to you and it will never fail you.”

 

I sat for a long time in his office, brooding, searching, and trying to find the missing piece of this situation. Tanya had called earlier in the day to ask for bail money. I took the call as Jasper and Emmett came in from getting something to eat.

 

“Dude, check this YouTube video I found last night.”

 

Emmett was showing Jasper some little girl who was talking about a ghost who was going to “kick my ass.” I had seen the same video, she was cute, I’ll give it that. I reached over to grab my coffee, the cup nearly to my lips, when the memory came floating to the forefront of my mind.

 

“Hey, Emmett.” I called, interrupting Charlie, the ghost, playing for the third time.

 

He looked up quickly, silencing the video with a quick swipe of his finger.

 

“Can you hack into someone’s phone if you don’t have the damn thing?”

 

Emmett gave me a look like I had kicked his puppy. “What the fuck boss? You think I’m a fucking amateur? Whose fucking phone I get to tap?”

 

Glancing over at my dad, I silently asked him to let me lead this one. I needed to protect Bella and the rest of the women in our family. I need her to know that she could count on me for more than just the physical things I could provide her. Well, could and should, however, every time I tried to show her, the fucking phone seemed to interrupt.

 

“When James came back from Forks, he showed me a video clip where Jared was running his fucking mouth about me. I need to see that clip.”

 

Emmett nodded, but didn’t reply, as he crossed the room to another computer in the corner of the office.

 

“What are you thinking, Edward?”

 

I didn’t get a chance to answer as Emmett pushed his chair back spinning around. He sat back with his hands behind his neck.

 

“I surprise even myself sometimes.” He chortled, as he blew a breath across his fingernails. I nodded my head as he pressed one more key. The screen at the end of the room descended and the clip began to play. In clear view were a few men and couple of women sitting around a room passing around a joint, beer bottles were being tipped back and Jared was running his fucking mouth.

 

“Again.” I called when the clip ended. I had to extinguish this burning I had in my gut, screaming at me that something was terribly wrong.

 

As the clip played again, I felt my father move closer to me, his position now resembled my own.

 

“Is that the fucking douche?” He questioned the room.

 

“Yep, he’s fucking lucky he’s dead with what Bella told me about him would get him a fucking bullet in the head.”

 

My father placed a hand on my arm, getting my attention away from the clip.

 

“He didn’t…?”

 

I shook my head, “No, she told him some bullshit story about saving herself for marriage.” The smile on my father’s face was one of pride and amazement.

 

“No, the son of a bitch cheated on her, lied to her, and placed her in a great deal of danger. Like I said, it’s a good thing James sent him to his fucking grave.”

 

I turned back to the screen just in time to see something I had missed the first time. Sitting in a far off corner was the girl from Newton’s store, the girl we know knew as Tanya.

 

“There!” I shouted. I stood quickly from my chair, crossed the room, and pointed to the red head in the photo. Emmett pressed a few more keys and zoomed in on her face and sure as shit it was Tanya.

 

“Well, fuck me!” My father yelled. He grabbed his phone placing a call to one of our security companies. He left the room when he started speaking.

 

“Emmett, can you tell me if that clip is original to the phone or did someone send it to him?”

 

He didn’t answer as he clicked away. His eyes never left the screen in front of him.

 

“Boss, I can’t say that James took this video, but I can say that it was recorded using the phone that he used. Either he recorded this or gave his phone to someone who did.”

 

I knew the answer to that. James had lied to me about placing an informant into that circle of Jared’s territory. The “hooker” he used was his own wife, a wife he took to Forks with him, a wife that was working alongside of him. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind of what I had to do next.

 

“Jasper, do we have any judges on payroll in Washington?”

 

Three nights later, we were still waiting on word from our contact in Seattle. Carlisle had given me an old friend of his’ information; I insisted on calling him myself. The Judge, who wished to remain nameless, was more than willing to exchange a few favors with me.

 

Seems he has a son-in-law who had been beating up on his only daughter who lived in Dallas. His daughter had begged him to come and get her, but the son-in-law kept moving them around and keeping her locked up. Once Jasper heard what I needed done, he insisted on handling the punk assed bitch himself. Jasper was a pretty easy guy until you crossed him. He hated seeing women get hurt. I actually felt sorry for the son-in-law because Jasper would make him suffer, he would die a very slow and painful death. The judge, of course, wanted proof that the man was indeed dead. Jasper only smiled as he promised he would save a little piece of him to give to the judge.

 

With my hands buried in Bella’s hair and my tongue so far into her mouth that I could feel her tonsils, I just knew this was the perfect moment for us. I wanted her…so fucking bad, and now I could have her, except my fucking phone ruined the moment. I was so angry I couldn’t even open my mouth to address the person.

 

Hello?…Mr. Cullen?” The voice on the other end quivered.

 

“Yes.” No doubt the amount of anger I felt could be heard in my tone.

 

“Thank you, for the um…package.” The judge’s voiced cracked.

 

“My daughter arrived back home about two hours ago.” He continued, his voice still very shaky with overtones of emotion.

 

“I have the information you need as agreed.”

 

I continued to listen as my anger increased. He was taking too long to get to the answers I needed. Bella let out a huff, not that I could blame her. I listened to the judge give me information on what I somehow already knew. This knowledge changed everything.

 

I hung up and apologized to Bella. I had to talk with my father, tell him what I just learned. With all the will I had, I walked out of Bella’s door and sent a text to Carlisle that I needed him to meet me, and the same one to Emmett. Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in the back seat of my father’s SUV, Emmett in the driver’s seat. Carlisle had sworn to me that the security company had made certain all the sensors in Bella’s shop were active. No one would be able to come in or out without setting off an alarm. I was still very worried about that back loading dock. Carlisle had placed a self-locking door a year ago and now a camera with motion was directed at it.

 

“Edward, Stephen has been watching the store all day long, the only people who went in and out that back door was the regular delivery guy with boxes of supplies.”

 

I knew what he said was true. I had to only pull up an app on my phone and see everything for myself.

 

We sat for two hours outside Bella’s shop watching and waiting after I told them what the judge had said. Finally, after several silent moments, Emmett spoke up from the front seat.

 

“What was in the package? Did Jasper even say?”

 

Carlisle chuckled while fishing out his phone from his leather jacket. The light from the screen illuminated the interior of the SUV. Passing the phone first to me and then to an eager Emmett, the sight on the screen screamed Jasper. There, placed neatly inside a metal box, was the head of the man I assumed wronged the judge with his severed dick shoved into his mouth…it was split in half. I knew beyond a doubt, Jasper had cut the man’s cock while it was still attached to his body, while the man could feel it.

 

“Do you think he could benefit from some anger management classes?” Emmett’s voice was full of sarcasm as he chuckled from the front seat.

 

For several nights we watched Bella’s shop as she slept peacefully in her bed above the store. I had tried, quite unsuccessfully, to get her to move in with me. I wanted her around all the time, but Bella was still gun shy about me. I get it…just didn’t like not getting my way. When she informed me that Jacob wanted to have lunch with her, I just assumed I was included…I was wrong. Although, I did take all of us out to dinner that night. At the end of the evening, Jacob tried to play the big brother and tell me what he would do to me if I fucked Bella over. Fucker was wasting his breath, but I let him have his say. Then when he cleared his lungs, I got in his face about jacking up Jessica. Bella had given the girl a second chance and I wouldn’t stand by and see some motherfucker screw it up.

 

I took Bella home later that night, I wanted her at mine, but she had responsibilities….so did I, for that matter. I had called in a favor during the afternoon while Bella was with Jacob. After saying goodnight a dozen times to my beautiful girl and making sure the alarm was set, I made my way to the meeting I had set up. Emmett was due to meet me at the county jail. It was time to talk with Tanya.

 

I was no stranger to Cook County Jail. Only this visit, I wasn’t in handcuffs with my attorney on my heels. Instead, I was walking with pride and determination right into the front doors. My repeated calls to the police commissioner had kept us from making this visit sooner. Seems they have some sort of rule that states, if a prisoner doesn’t want to visit with you, they could refuse. My father taught me long ago that an honest man would stand on his principles, no amount of money could sway him. Mr. Yorkie was an honest man to the citizens of Chicago, with the exception of one man, his bookie. Once I found out his little secret, a secret that could ruin him and his career, I made one last call to him. After our brief conversation and, of course, the exchange of a few dead presidents, the door to Tanya’s cell opened wide.

 

Every time I have had an interaction with Tanya, whether social or in private, she was always well-groomed. This isn’t the case anymore, because as I sit at this table, I see the shell of a woman who used to bring me a quick release or a person to confide in across from me. The orange jump suit swallowed her tiny frame. Her hair was pulled back into a low ponytail, although, much shorter than I’m used to. I can only guess they either made her cut it or it wasn’t real to begin with. Her face was void of any makeup, and for the first time, she looked so old, so tired and honestly haggard. One thing that didn’t change was the sadistic smirk she wore on her face.

 

Once the door closed and the officer had left, I turned my attention toward her. I came here for answers and I knew in my gut she would have them.

 

“Did we get tired of vanilla sex, Eddie?”

 

She wouldn’t get a reaction out of me today. She knew how disrespectful she was being by referring to me by any portion of my first name. With a smile, I eased back into the metal chair, my left arm dropping behind me while I kept my right relaxed on the table. My eyes never left hers as I raised my index finger in Emmett’s direction, indicating for him to place the photos he had printed on the table in front of her. Tanya refused to look at the color images that told the entire story. Frame by frame the truth stared at her in the face, only she refused to look down. I pointed to the first photo, the one that showed her sitting in the same room with Jared.

 

“Tell me about this. Why were you even there?”

 

Her face was blank, her eyes empty, her mouth remained silent, and the smirk she wore was long gone. Silence would only bring her pain, if she thought for even a moment that by avoiding answering me I would simply get angry and walk away. I didn’t pay nearly seventy grand to toss my photos down and then walk away.

 

“Emmett.” I finally spoke relaxing even further into my chair. The monster inside me would enjoy this.

 

Emmett rose from his seat in the corner pulling out a large hunting knife. Tanya kept her poker face, but that would be cashed in soon. In a split second, Emmett grasped one of her fingers that sat handcuffed and chained to the table. He placed the tip of the blade against her pinky finger but his face contorted as he shook his head.

 

“Nah… too easy.”

 

Without a care, Emmett grabbed Tanya’s chin from behind pulling it up in his direction then placed the edge of the blade at her hair line. With his hand firmly covering her mouth, he moved the blade toward him just enough to cause a large line of bright red blood to start running down her face. Her eyes grew wide as her muffled screams began coming from Emmett’s hand. I tapped the table twice warning Emmett that I wanted to give her time to answer my questions. He slowly brought the blade away from her scalp, directly in her line of vision, making certain she saw the blood coating the side of the blade.

 

“Now, you’re going to answer my fucking questions or I’m going to let Emmett remove every inch of that fucking scalp of yours. Scream all the fuck you want to because no one is going to come through that door for any reason.”

 

Emmett withdrew his hand and wiped the blood that had fallen on his fingers on her jump suit.

 

“Now again, tell me about this photo.”

 

The look on her face told me everything. She was defeated. She never thought I could ever be this cold with her; this cruel. But she hadn’t seen how cruel I wanted to be, how much of a cold hearted bastard I planned to be by the end of the night.

 

“You think this is about you?” Tanya’s head snapped up and the look on her face was cold and just as unforgiving as mine. “You’re such a fucking dick that you think everything is about you.”

 

Like the classy lady she was, she balled off and spit in my direction. I made no move to avoid the tainted saliva that now coated one of the photos. If she wanted to go down like this, who was I to stop her.

 

“You think that just because you are the son of Carlisle Cullen that everything is about getting to you, being with you….well it isn’t!” She shouted the last three words.

 

“This was never about you or that stupid flower girl you so desperately want to protect.”

 

Tanya’s eyes quickly turned to Carlisle and shocked the entire room with her confession.

 

“It was about YOU!” She spit her words. The blood from her scalp mixed with the saliva she tried to spit dribbled down her chin.

 

My father held his stance, not allowing Tanya or any other person in the room see if her admission had rocked his foundation. If I wanted to lead this family, I needed to step up and protect the members of it. I kicked the chair she sat in, startling her so severely, she gasped and looked back in my direction.

 

“You look at me!” I shouted. “You keep those cunt eyes of yours on me!”

 

The tears started to fall as she tried to lower her head. I kicked her chair again shouting at her with more force.

 

“I said look at me!”

 

Her tears now mixed with the blood that still continued to flow. Head wounds tended to bleed like a motherfucker.

 

“My Aunt Jane.” She whispered.

 

“What the fuck does your aunt have to do with you being in that fucking room?” I shouted, pointing to her image on the photo.

 

“When my dad caught wind of my mom stepping out on him, he decided to have me go stay with my grandmother, only my grandmother couldn’t handle me. So, she had me go stay with my aunt Jane.”

 

Carlisle’s gaze was still fixed on her, if he knew what she was talking about, he didn’t give any indication.

 

“Aunt Jane didn’t see me as a problem. She made me feel welcome in her home. She even told me of a story about the only man she ever loved.”

 

She shifted in her chair and tried to lower her head to wipe her now running nose. I didn’t give a shit if she had snot running into her fucking mouth, the bitch was going to give me some fucking answers.

 

“Aunt Jane would tell me about how happy this guy made her. How he would give her gifts and send her love letters. Finally, one day she took me into her bedroom closet and showed me his picture. A picture of your father.”

 

I pointed to the picture again.

 

“Does this story have a point or are you trying to play on my good side, because bitch, it doesn’t exist.”

 

“He swore to her he was going to leave his wife and marry her. She told me about how he helped her get a new place to live while they waited for the divorce to finalize. Her voice was so happy when she talked about how much she loved him.” Tanya’s voice wavered slightly toward the end. It was clear to me she was feeling something real, something deep.

 

“Tanya, was your Aunt’s last name Payne?” Carlisle spoke. His voice held no emotion, so there was no way of knowing how he viewed this.

 

Tanya only nodded her head. “She then showed me the newspaper clipping of the wedding between Carlisle and Esme. Said it was a lie because Carlisle had proposed to her. She said that he called her all the time and assured her that Esme meant nothing.”

 

My patience was wearing thin. I knew this was a sack of shit. My dad would never treat a woman like this.

 

“But then, when Rosalie was born, my aunt said she gave up hope and became angry. She told me how men used you and then got rid of you when they were done. She vowed to show me how to turn the tables on them. I vowed to help her get revenge on the man who had broken her heart.”

 

Carlisle took out his phone and began to press several keys as Tanya cottoned her story.

 

“About a week later, I met James. I knew he was stupid enough to help me make what happened to Aunt Jane right. So I made him think that he was going to be a powerful man one day. My plan was perfect, and I would get revenge for both of us. I knew Jared from another guy I had dated so I called him up. I laid on the charm and met him a few times, we would hook up and I found that I liked him a lot. It was about a year later that Jared came to my Aunt’s house and he agreed to help me with my plan. I knew he was working for the Cullen’s and since we both hated the fuck out of your family…well it worked. Jared warned me that James had too big of a mouth, that he was too careless when he had an open pussy before him. So, Jared and I became a closer team. We would keep James around until he wasn’t useful anymore. Jared was keeping Bella around because she was the token girlfriend. She was perfect in every way, like some true life Mary fucking Poppins. She always kept her mouth shut.” Tanya’s body started to shake as she chuckled.

 

“Hell, she even gave that stupid ring to Jared’s dad just like he said she would.”

 

Her last words got my attention. Bella had confessed she gave that ring back to Jared’s father after his death. If that was true, then how did he know?

 

“What the fuck do …..”

 

Tanya didn’t let me finish. “Jared knew that Bella would give the ring to his dad and that his dad would give it to the first guy that threatened him. He told James that if anything ever happened to him, to go to his father’s house and get the ring and the money that was in the back of the house. James was so stupid that as soon as Bella left town, he marched right on over there and got the ring.”

 

The day I saw James outside my father’s office came to my mind. I remember looking at that fucking ring and thinking what a piece of shit it was. I never gave it a second thought as I tossed it back at him.

 

“James was even more stupid when he tried to give you that fucking ring. When he came home that night, he tossed it on the night stand and I snatched that fucking thing up.”

 

I remember seeing Tanya that night. I had visited her and watched as she had sex with four other girls and then she and two of those girls sucked me off while the other two continued on.

 

“It’s all a nice story Tanya, a best seller if you can find a good publisher, but we all know that Jared died in a tragic car crash that left a big fireball at the bottom of a ravine.”

 

I motioned for Emmett to continue cutting her fucking scalp off. Tanya’s eyes grew wide as Emmett approached. In what I can only guess was pure panic, she shouted the last words I will ever hear from her mouth.

 

“Jared isn’t dead!”

 

No sooner did the words hit my ears, all of our cell phones start to signal. Pulling my phone out of my pocket, I noticed the warning message that an alarm had been tripped. I quickly opened the app and the image before me took my breath away. There on the floor of her storeroom, was my Bella, reaching her hand inside the gun safe that was hidden in the floor.

 

“Go, I’m right behind you.” My father spoke as I shot out of the chair and out the door. If Jared wasn’t dead, than I had no doubts as to why Bella needed a gun.

 

A/N: Surprised? I know one of my readers guessed that Jared was still alive, yet I am certain she thought it was for different reasons. It’s so sad how one woman manipulated the lives of so many, controlled men with her assets. Next chapter, we find out Jared’s side of things…Oh and why the hell is that damn ring is so important? Wanna guess why Carlisle stayed behind? Stay tuned, that’s coming up soon.

 

  1. Chapter 42

 

Chapter 42

 

BPOV

 

“Still clumsy as ever I see.”

 

Jared walked through the door pushing passed me, his foot crushing the broken glass that lay scattered beneath our feet. He walked into my home like he owned the place, like he had been here before. Picking up a small trinket Esme had decorated the bookshelf with, he turned it around in his hand before shoving it in his jacket pocket. Seems death doesn’t correct all wrongs after all.

 

I didn’t bother closing the door as I turned around and watched him. He couldn’t be real. I questioned what was in the wine I just drank. Jared Black was dead and buried. I had attended his funeral…I saw…but an epiphany just slammed into me. Jared had a closed casket funeral. The authorities had only a portion of his car to identify him with. The fire had burned so fierce that even his teeth were distorted.

 

I stayed firmly planted just inside my door, ready to bolt at the slightest hint that he was real. However, Jared, with his now dyed hair and colored contacts, made his way back to me shutting the open door and taking my hand in his. I was defenseless, this is what shock had to feel like, but…no, it’s not. This feeling is the same I had when we were in Forks. The feeling of hopelessness and dread, of having no real way out.

 

“Come and sit with me. What do you have to eat, Bella?”

 

His voice hadn’t changed, it was still like nails on a chalkboard and I cringed as he sat beside me. Jared slapped my thigh and then hopped up to go into my kitchen. Taking the newly opened bottle of wine in his hand and tipping it to his mouth.

 

“What is this shit?” He sputtered, spitting the liquid into the sink. “Tastes like elephant piss.” The question was on the tip of my tongue, how would one know what elephant piss tastes like?

 

“Got any Jack?” He questioned as he looked through my cabinets. Taking down different boxes and shoving cookies into his mouth. I didn’t dare tell him those cookies were here when I moved in. There was no telling how old they are. Do cookies have an expiration date? Not finding any booze in my cabinets, he opened my fridge and took out the leftovers I had placed in there from dinner. He didn’t bother with a plate or even utensils as he devoured the food like he hadn’t eaten in days. When he took his last bite, he let out this enormous belch that nearly rocked the apartment. It also pulled me out of the shock I had been in.

 

“Why are you here?” My voice sounded stronger than it should be considering the circumstances. Once my brain had a minute to put the pieces together, it was clear that his death had been faked. I wonder if the insurance company will come after me for fraud?

 

“I’m here because I missed you and want you with me.” His smile was the same, dishonest and fake. He walked closer to me as he wiped his mouth on a kitchen towel I had left on the counter.

 

“I’ve come to take you away.” Standing directly in front of me, he held out his hand silently asking for me to take it. Fucker was bat shit crazy if he thought I was going to do it.

 

“Listen, I know this is a shock, but I’m here now and you’re safe. I’m going to marry you just like I said I would.” His eyes bored into mine, they were all wrong. The brown of his natural eyes bled through the hazel of the contact. I wanted the green of Edward…

 

Edward…Oh god.

 

Jared took my face in his hands, kissed my forehead, and then sat on the sofa beside me.

 

“Do you still have the ring I gave you?”

 

He had seen and felt that my ring finger was empty. The ring in question was at the bottom of my purse that was currently on the top of my dresser in my bedroom, it was also the place where my cell phone was.

 

“Yes.” I said. My voice was scratchy from all that happened.

 

“Good, because we’re going to need that. You see, that ring is special, Bella. It’s not just a sign of my love for you.” He leaned in brushing his lips across my cheek. “No, that ring is the key to our future.” What the fuck was he talking about? Alice’s voice rang in my head as I remembered her saying that the glass contained numbers and a tiny black chip on it.

 

“W-what do you mean?” I turned my head to look at him. We were so close, not by my choice, that I felt his breath float across my nose as he inhaled before speaking.

 

“Well, that ring was made by a friend of mine who is holding something for me. Something that I need to finish a job I started.”

 

His fingers ran up and down my neck. I could feel the bile rising in my throat. His fingers felt all wrong.

 

“See, that little fucker that has been sniffing around you owes me. I have information that will cause his little family to fall apart. For a price…a hefty one, he can have the evidence I have. He pays me, I take you away and everything is great.” Again he finished with a slap to my thigh.

 

“What information?” I croaked out.

 

“Oh, don’t worry your pretty little head. You just get me the ring and I’ll make the arrangements. I know just where that Cullen punk is right now. I also know, that you know, just how to get him here in a quickly. I’ll need your phone as well.”

 

I couldn’t let him hurt Edward or his family. Esme had given me everything I have and I won’t let someone like Jared take it all away.

 

“How did you get in here?” The words were out of my mouth before my brain registered what I said. He laughed as he stood up to head back to my kitchen.

 

“Well, that was the tricky part. See, Tanya…and I know you know her.” He turned back around when he spoke the latter.

 

“She was supposed to get closer to Edward, but since she’s such a stupid bitch to begin with, she fucked that up as well. Although, you already know about that since you were there.” He turned around and headed back into the kitchen. The clanging of bottles sounded as he continued to dig through my fridge.

 

“So, I studied the shop for a while. I took notes and discovered that every day at eleven in the morning you get a delivery. Now, the hot little piece of ass you’ve got working for you doesn’t come in until the afternoon, and even then she doesn’t put anything away until after closing. I came up with a plan to get into the store and no one would be the wiser…..I mailed myself here.”

 

I was stunned, honestly, with the simplicity of his plan. I knew we had top of the line security and cameras everywhere…except inside of the store room.

 

“Huuu…” I gasped. I hadn’t meant to do it aloud, but it didn’t go unnoticed by Jared.

 

“What?”

 

Coming out of the kitchen, he crossed the room with a piece of cold chicken dangling from his mouth by his fingers.

 

“N-nothing, just…”

 

“I know, Baby, it was so easy. I went right around all those pesky cameras and security switches.”

 

I smiled the best I could and told him where I had the ring, the key, as he had confessed.

 

“The um…the ring is in my safe….the safe, that is downstairs in my storeroom.”

 

He smiled and returned to my kitchen. I knew what was really in that safe. The first time I saw it, it had frightened me, now it gave me hope.

 

“What happen with the accident? I m-mean the sheriff said you died, we had a funeral and everything.”

 

Edward always called me every night when he was finally in bed. I can’t remember if my phone was on vibrate or not, but I pray that he gets suspicious when I don’t pick up.

 

“Oh, there was an accident. I watched the whole thing from the top of the ravine. As far as the sheriff, he couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper bag with instructions. He knew I drove that car and just assumed I was in it. The funeral home was given a bag of ashes to bury.” He started laughing out loud. “Those stupid bastards buried the ashes of the interior of that fucking car, there wasn’t even a body in it.” I smiled out of pure shock. How could something so simple, and yet so complicated, be true?

 

“As to why…I needed an alibi. I plan to make Cullen pay for all that he took from me and from my friend.”

 

I hoped that Jared didn’t know that I had been told why he was killed. He was stealing from Edward…just like he was stealing from me now.

 

“You can’t pin a murder on a dead guy now can ya?” His logic was skewed, yet completely correct. A dead man can commit no crime.

 

“So, how about you pack up a bag, we can get that ring, and then get the hell out of here.”

 

I couldn’t let him in my bedroom. If he found my purse, as a thief he would zero in on it. He would find my phone and call Edward over here. It was one thing for Edward to come over as a surprise, a completely different story if he came unsuspected.

 

“Where are we going?” I questioned standing from my sofa.

 

His smile grew even bigger as I watched his face, his contact covered eyes held no secret to his elated emotion. “New Orleans, Baby.”

 

The only light that was still on downstairs was the light from the refrigerator. All the arrangements sat ready for the wedding that would take place tomorrow. A longing glance from me to the secured door that opened to the courtyard and loading dock; the very door his box was carried through. That poor delivery guy was most likely cursing my name as he carried Jared from his truck.

 

“Couldn’t get away from the garden could you, Babe?” His voice startled me as I rounded the corner.

 

“Jared, you know I love to create things.”

 

“Yes, you did a fine job on the ones you made for my funeral.”

 

What a twisted sick son of a bitch. He was able to just stand there and see the people who loved him most suffer, because he wanted to fake his death.

 

“Thank you.”

 

The safe set on the floor at the end of the room. We had to pass several shelves to get to it. I wondered if Jessica had found it while rearranging things. I hoped she hadn’t and the gun was still there. I watched as Jared began to rummage through some boxes that were waiting to be unpacked. Taking what he wanted and placing it in his pocket….the fucker had no boundaries.

 

Te tink

 

I froze briefly as I heard the sound of the sensor that told us someone had pulled into the loading dock. Esme had told me it was annoying, but had saved her from checking the backdoor over and over to see if someone was back there.

 

“Sounds like your smoke detector battery needs changing.” Jared said as he continued to rummage around in the box. His eyes never looked in my direction. I glanced down quickly and noticed that Jessica must have discovered the safe because a box was now covering it. When I tried to lift the box, the bottom of the box caught the door and lifted it slightly. I dropped it quickly when the sensor to the back dock chimed again.

 

“Jared, that isn’t a smoke alarm, they are hard wired. That is someone in the back alley, I need to check it out. It could be one of my employees.” I didn’t wait for him to answer, he was too busy taking anything he could get his sticky hands on. Opening the back door, I saw headlights, but only of a cab picking someone up. I had one foot out the door when Jared jerked me back. The force was so hard that my shoe stayed lodged in the door. I was being pulled backwards with one bare foot and the door still open.

 

“Did I give you permission to open a fucking door?” Gone was the sweet Jared, and in his place was the Jared I knew, the Jared I feared.

 

“Where do you keep the money?” He jerked my hair, pulling me to him, forcing my head to twist at an odd angle making pain shoot through my neck. He shoved me into the counter shouting at me to get him all the money I had. Angela usually took all the cash to the bank on her way home, but only on Mondays. There wasn’t usually a great deal of cash in the store as most people paid with credit cards.

 

“This way,” I directed, taking him into the main shop.

 

The cash box was kept in a closed drawer under the front counter. Taking it out, I sat it on the counter beside him. His finger opened the metal box quickly taking out the bills inside. “Two hundred bucks.” He sneered. “I’ve seen what kind of business you do…where is the rest?” He shoved the box back at me, keeping the money, and shoving it inside the front of his pants.

 

“That’s it…we do take credit cards.”

 

Something switched in him and he took me into his arms, wrapping himself around me.

 

“I’m sorry, Babe, you know I get crazy sometimes. Let’s get that ring and get out of here.”

 

Just as he let me go, I heard the dock sensors again, more than likely the cab finally leaving and taking the passenger with it. I prayed Jessica hadn’t taken the gun out. I couldn’t let him get to Edward. As I knelt down once again, I slid the box out of the way. The dull metal of the safe looked back at me, a quick glance at Jared found him closer to me, but still going through boxes and bins. Suddenly, I heard the pounding sounds of something coming up the loading dock, the whooshing sound of the back door being opened before slamming against the brick of the building. Jared took one step in the direction of the door, blocking my view of what or who was coming.

 

“Stay down, Bella!” Was all I heard as gunfire rang out all around me, bullet casings showering down on the concrete floor. Instinctively, I curled into a ball, covered my ears, and screamed at the top of my lungs. It was Edward’s voice that told me to stay down and it was Edward’s voice that spoke in my ear after the gun shots stopped.

 

“I’ve got you, Baby.” He cradled my body against his. “He’s dead now…for real this time.”

 

Beta Note:

 

Well, another twist untwisted. What did you all think? Now, what is the deal with that ring? That ring has become very symbolic in this story hasn’t it?

 

Mathisson (Cayce) and I have talked and we’re changing things up a bit. Please welcome to our team, Momma2fan. She will be a pre-reader/beta for Cayce. A huge help to her and me. Hopefully, with another pair of eyes, any mistakes are kept to a minimal or none at all. I apologize for that.

 

  1. Chapter 43

 

Chapter 43

 

BPOV

 

A gentle breeze whipped through my hair, tickling my nose, caused me to wake from my slumber. The bed was so soft, the sheets smelled freshly laundered, and the room was quiet and slightly dark. I could stay here forever, forgoing my responsibilities that awaited me. I rolled my head daring to glance at my bedside clock only to find it wasn’t there and this wasn’t my bed. Movement behind me confirmed that my deep slumber wasn’t a direct result of my activities during my day, more of the ones that most likely ended only a short while ago….

 

Edward held me on the floor of the storeroom as I trembled and shook. His warm and strong arms caged me in a blanket of security and trust. Jared’s lifeless body was riddled with bullet holes, his eyes still open, and money peeked out from the waistband of his jeans. Edward’s strong hand pulled my face to his chest as he tried to shield me from seeing the disaster that was once my organized storeroom.

 

“Don’t worry, Baby, it will be back to the way it was by the time the store opens.”

 

Jasper and Emmett stood above Jared’s body. Emmett was on his cell phone and sirens could be heard in the distance; no doubt heading here. Men I had never seen before now littered my back hall, all ready to follow Edward’s instructions.

 

“Bella?” Jasper spoke up softly. His voice held a slight southern accent, which I had failed to notice before. I turned my gaze to him awaiting his question.

 

“Do you have the ring Jared gave you?”

 

I nodded and pointed to the upstairs. “It’s in my purse, in my bedroom.” Edward nodded at one of the men in the hall, and a minute later my purse was placed before me. Reaching past my cell phone and a ragged looking tampon, I pulled the ring from the bottom of my bag. I had worn this ring for months after Jared had given it to me. Never taking the time to flip it around like most girls do when admiring a piece of jewelry that their guy gives them. Most likely due to the fact that it wasn’t a lot of weight and not a symbol of love and devotion. Remembering Jared’s words on how important it was, I handed the ring to Jasper.

 

“I’ve thought a lot about this ring and I was going to come by and talk with you soon anyway.” Turning the ring around in his fingers, his eyes locked on the piece of metal.

 

“I have a theory.”

 

Jasper pinched the ring between the index fingers of both hands, and in a quick movement the ring snapped apart from under the glass stone.

 

“See, I read a book once where there was this secret society. They held meetings in ordinary places, only you had to have a special key to get in. Now, the founder of the organization was a locksmith and he wanted to have keys that didn’t look like the traditional ones we use every day, yet he wanted them to be something that no one would question.”

 

Jasper smoothed the metal out in a straight line, and where it had once met the glass stone, tiny ridges were now visible.

 

“When Tanya was arrested at the party, Boss had me take her car to one of our lots. When I was starting the car, I noticed a copy of that book on the floor board. At first, I didn’t think anything of it until later that night. I had Alice repeat the numbers she saw and found that they matched the latitude and longitude of New Orleans, more specifically a mausoleum in the heart of the city. I would like to head down there and see if my theory is correct.”

 

Edward told him to hop on the first plane and see what he could find. The police arrived a second later and Emmett completely took over giving them the security tapes of what was consistent with my story, that Jared was an intruder and Edward had been able to see him shoving me around the store. One of the officers came up to us and said they found a gun on Jared, along with cash that he had stolen from the cash box.

 

The coroner’s office came and took Jared’s body away and Edward insisted that I stay at his house. I didn’t argue as he helped me into the car.

 

Edward’s condo was cold and masculine. With the dark leather furniture and sharp lines of his decor, it just felt odd. He poured me a glass of scotch and I chugged it down, the burn of the amber liquid warming me to my core. Tapping my index finger on the rim, asking for another. Edward poured without a single word, refilling his own as we stood in silence.

 

All this time I have spent living lie after lie. Pushing away what I want for a false sense of security, allowing a man to rule me by fear. I was finished letting people take from me, use me until they had their fill. With a final swallow, I placed the glass on the counter and pulled a shocked Edward toward me. Leaving no room for argument, I slammed my mouth over his, demanding with my tongue entrance to his mouth. He may have been surprised, but it didn’t last long as he pulled me flush against his body, his mouth battling me for control over our heated embrace. The fingers of my right hand plunged into the hair at the base of his neck, while the left traveled to his belt struggling to release its hold on the area of Edward that I so desperately wanted. His warm hands found their way to the small of my back, flesh against flesh. Our moans filled the room, I was hard pressed to know which one of us was making the noise. In a quick motion, Edward lifted me placing his hands on the bottom of my ass, while I wrapped my legs around his waist. The softness of his bed conformed to my back as he lay me down not breaking the kiss. Removing my hands from his body, I started unbuttoning my shirt with Edward’s lips now exploring my neck and collarbone. When I snapped the button of my jeans open, Edward suddenly froze and pulled back to look in my eyes.

 

“Bella…I-I…we…we can’t.”

 

His face looked tormented and remorseful. Seeing the confusion on my face he explained, “I can’t love you in the same bed that I fucked Jessica in.”

 

I hadn’t really given much thought to the fact that he most likely had taken many women in this very bed. I suddenly wanted to throw him to the floor and burn my shirt. Edward silently removed himself from the bed and went into a door I suspected was a bathroom. He reappeared and took my hand in his ignoring my confused expression. He led me back to the car and out of the garage, Edward remained silent as he drove like a bat out of hell into the night.

 

Back alleys and side streets all began to blur as Edward pushed the limits of his car. With a final turn and screeching tires, we pulled into what looked like an old factory. Edward shut off the car as the automatic garage bay door finished closing. Not leaving me a second to question anything, he exited the door coming around to my side, and then removed my shocked and silent body from his car. The elevator was located in the center of a very open area, the smell of dirt and cut wood surrounded me. The doors to the elevator had to be raised and lowered before it would ascend into the ceiling above. There were plastic sheets covering the shaft, protecting it from what I wasn’t certain.

 

“Where are we?” I questioned.

 

Edward answered by pulling me from the elevator, leaving the door in the raised position and lifted me back into the position I had placed myself in at his condo. His mouth was on me again and I soon forgot everything except him as he walked quickly in a direction I would find out later. His lips were so soft, yet hard against mine. He certainly knew what he was doing and I decided to ignore how much practice he actually had in the past to make him this good. The smell of cut wood and paint grew stronger and I couldn’t help but to turn my head, cutting off his kiss to look around at where he had taken me.

 

The room was out of a decorating magazine, the neutral colors and expensive furnishings that filled the room caused me to gasp. The room was bathed in soft glow from the lamps that sat around the room on various tables. The Victorian inspired sofa and loveseat took up the better part of the room. Beautiful cream and gold curtains covered the windows, and a large fireplace sat against the wall.

 

“This is a safe house that my family owns.” His words were mumbled as his lips took hold of my neck, his actions caused the beauty of the room to fade, and the sensation of his lips consumed me. Edward’s lips were nothing when compared to his long fingers. My gasps startling even myself as he flicked my now exposed nipples with the fingernail of his thumbs. I threw my head back at the sensations, a feeling I hadn’t felt from anything but my own hands in years. He nibbled and kissed over my neck and to the top of my now sensitive breasts. I had no control over my actions as I frantically started to pull off his clothes. Layer after layer lay in a trail from the well-decorated living room, to the oh-so-soft bed that he placed me on. The bed felt like a cloud, its only comfort adding to my overwhelming arousal.

 

“I love you, Bella.” His words were like a prayer and I wasn’t certain I was the one he was directing them to.

 

“I love you,” he breathed again as he started to move lower with his kisses, nipping at the skin under my now completely naked chest. His hand caressed my sides as his tongue tasted and lapped at the skin along my ribs and stomach. My back arched off the bed as I reached into my own hair when his tongue entered my belly button, his teeth biting the underside. My legs fell apart without my consent and Edward eased his way to the center of my body; his warmth shielded me from the slight chill in the air.

 

His fingers were so soft and so caring. The same fingers that had pulled the trigger of his gun just hours ago, sealing the door to my nightmares, were now opening the vault to my fantasy. His fingers were so slow, so deliberate, as they stroked the lips of my heated and wet core. My breathing picked up as I lifted my knees, letting them fall to the side allowing my lower body to be completely open and on display for him. My hands left my hair and attached themselves to each of my breasts, fondling, pinching, and rubbing, keeping time with Edward’s fingers that were now inside my wet walls. His warm tongue met the hot skin of my clit and I could feel my legs begin to tremble. Only one man had ever been where he was. It was so many years ago, both of our first times, and he fumbled more than anything. Edward knew what he was doing, this song he played with my body, every note he wrote himself.

 

“I’ve never done this before.” His confession barely registered in my head.

 

I raised up propping myself on my forearms to watch as his fingers slid in and out of me, his pink tongue flicking and lapping. He noticed I had changed positions, and locked eyes with me never stopping or changing his course.

 

“Th-that’s hard to believe.” My voice sounded husky, causing him to stop.

 

“I’ve never had to…” His honesty was enough. I let my head fall back and his mouth closed over my very swollen clit, sucking and biting it several times while his two fingers entered me again. My hands resumed playing with my nipples, although, I desired Edward’s hands there more, but not enough to ask him to stop what he was doing.

 

Edward, being the man that he was, grabbed my right thigh as he pulled his mouth away from my pussy. My eyes flashed open and I started to protest when he turned onto his back, pulling my body to hover over his face. He pulled me so that my knees were on each side of his head, the headboard only inches from the top of his head, my knees buried in the pillows that cradled him.

 

“Hold on tight,” he commanded as he pulled me back to his tongue and his hands grabbed my breasts. Gripping the headboard, I began to rub my aching pussy against his stubbled chin and protruding tongue. His fingers pulled my nipples so hard, yet it only fueled my desire for him. Edward continued to alternate from tongue fucking me to biting and sucking my clit, never once letting go of my greedy nipples. After countless orgasms and shouts of his name, I pulled away from his mouth and tried to slide his cock inside me. Edward stopped me reaching into the drawer of his nightstand pulling out a strip of condoms.

 

“I’m clean, but I want to be certain.”

 

I didn’t question him. I let him continue to protect me, even in the throes of passion, he had my well-being before his own desires. With the condom firmly wrapped around his cock, I lowered myself as he held his dick for me. I wanted to savor this, so I went slow, watching Edward’s face as he closed his eyes and his mouth fell open. Balancing myself on his chest with my hands as his gripped my hips, I started to gain speed, bouncing up and down while rubbing my clit on him.

 

“That’s it, Baby, take what you want.”

 

Never had anyone offered themselves to me. I was always the one to give. Without hesitation, I closed my eyes, grasping the headboard and taking all of him that I wanted. Wave after wave, I kept going. Edward never complained as I said, “One more”, over and over. As I collapsed on his chest, sweaty and gasping for air, Edward flipped us over thrusting into me. I had nothing left, no sensation to be found in my body, as he found his release, and then he too collapsed into the soft and clean sheets…..

 

We woke each other a few times that night. Edward always letting me get my fill, only taking when I was finished, and never asking for more than I was willing to give.

 

“You know you’re hot, right?”

 

I smiled hearing his sleep deprived voice from behind me. We weren’t wrapped around each other as you see in the Hollywood movies, but a few inches apart. It was enough to know he was there, but far enough away that I could keep my warmth to myself.

 

“And you’re not a cuddler,” I joked.

 

After the third or fourth time last night, I tried to snuggle around him, but he told me my body was just too hot next to him. We opted for just feet touching while we headed off for a brief sleep.

 

“I am, but you just have some serious body heat.” Pulling me into his naked body, his cock slid between my legs, and honestly, my very sore pussy. His mouth latched on to my neck as his fingers traveled to my nipples. He felt so good that I chose to close my eyes and just enjoy. His hand left my breast to place his cock inside me as his phone started ringing from somewhere on the floor.

 

“Ignore it,” He spoke harshly, his want for me overriding his sense of duty.

 

Pushing me onto my stomach, Edward’s condom clad cock entered me again, his body aligned to mine perfectly.

 

“God, I love feeling you wrapped around me,” he breathed into my ear, nibbling on the lobe. Not stopping his thrusts, he sat up, his legs straddling on either side of mine. This position had him hitting me in places I had no idea even existed.

 

Using both hands, he separated my ass cheeks. “Fuck, Baby, your pussy from this angle is so beautiful, feels so fucking good.”

 

His voice and the position caused me to be completely incoherent. I could feel my body reaching for that orgasm, stumbling to find it. The feel of his hands as they held my ass cheeks, so he could continue to watch himself thrust in and out.

 

“I wish you could see this,” he grunted as he didn’t stop his rhythm.

 

The sweat that was now covering us caused Edward’s right hand to slip, his fingers grazing my hole. The slight touch caused my orgasm to rip through me and I cried out, arching my back. My movements were enough to spur Edward’s own orgasm to join mine.

 

His phone had not stopped ringing the entire time, so while mumbling under his breath, he pulled out of me and answered the phone in the colorful way that only Edward can do.

 

“What the fuck…” he shouted, only to cringe when the person on the other side responded.

 

“Sorry, Mom.” He sounded like a young schoolboy as he apologized. Standing there in all his naked glory, his cock still semi-hard, but deflating quickly.

 

“Yes, ma’am.” He ran his hands through his hair closing his eyes.

 

“Yes, yes I will.”

 

He tossed the phone to the floor once again and rejoined me in bed. I moved to lay on his sweaty chest while he wrapped his arm around me.

 

“That was my mom, making certain you were comfortable here, and my father wants to see us after you get done today.”

 

I pulled back questioning him with my eyes.

 

“He got a call from Jasper, he has something he needs us to see.”

 

Beta Note:

 

*fans face* Oh. My. God….that was so hot Cayce. The best lemon. It definitely left me all hot and bothered. What about you ladies?

 

More twists were untwisted and now we know about the significance of the ring. Wonder what Carlisle wants?

 

~~~~Mathisson, Kim (Kimmie43), and Momma2fan.

 

  1. Chapter 44

 

Chapter 44

 

BPOV

 

It had been one of those days where nothing had gone right. First, it was a power outage due to a blown transformer, then it was the bride from hell who, at the last minute, decided that she wanted a different shade of purple for her bouquet. It had been too bad for her thanks to the contract she had signed a year ago, making it clear that all changes had to be completed seventy- two hours prior to the event. She threatened to take me to court, until her father reminded her who owned the shop. Lastly, the engine in the delivery van blew on the way to the final delivery, so by the time I got ready to head over to Carlisle and Esme’s, I was a ball of frustration.

 

Esme, the lady that she is took me to the side, handing me a glass of wine, and then refused to discuss anything that had happen before it had been consumed. Dinner followed and for the first time all day, I exhaled and let the day fall away.

 

Jasper looked exhausted while he ate his dinner, yet completely excited about what he had found in New Orleans. After Esme made certain I was completely relaxed, she allowed Carlisle to drag us all into his study.

 

The room was, as you could imagine, completely masculine. The dark woods worked well with the dark greens that graced the desk and several knick-knacks on the shelves. At the back of the room was a large, well-used leather sofa, which was currently covered in photos and what looked like hand written letters.

 

“Before I let Jasper share with us his findings, I need to address something that was said in the meeting we had with Tanya.”

 

My head snapped to Carlisle, completely confused, but not willing to question what he was referring to.

 

“You mean the part where you were screwing around on mom.” Edward’s comment startled me and I shot a surprised eye to Esme. She was sitting next to Carlisle with a sly smile gracing her features.

 

“Yes, that part exactly.”

 

I had to say, I felt this wasn’t going to end well. Esme was not someone to be trifled with. She had confided in me that she would not allow him to seek pleasure outside of the martial bed.

 

“Edward, when your mother was in the last stages of her battle with cancer, I hired a young girl to take care of her. A young nurse that came highly recommended by a placement agency. Jane Payne came to the house and from the first moment she was here, your mother loved her.”

 

Carlisle took Esme’s hand, placing a gentle kiss. I had nearly forgotten Carlisle had been married before Esme.

 

“As your mother got closer and closer to death, I began to confide more and more in Jane. Unfortunately, Jane took my need for a friend as my need for a romantic companion. When I made it clear to her that I was very much in love with Elizabeth, her dark side came out.”

 

Edward looked to his shoes as he pulled our joined hands into his lap before wrapping my hand in both of his.

 

“The final straw came when I found Jane naked in my bed early one morning. I had my men detain her and did some investigating. That was the last time I was ever fooled by someone I trusted.”

 

Carlisle walked over to the couch and picked up one of the photos. “When Tanya spoke of the home I gave Jane to live in, I nearly laughed. That “home” was the state mental facility.” He placed the photo back down and turned to Edward.

 

“In Jane’s room, I found several of Elizabeth’s dresses, some jewelry and other personal items. She even had stationary with Jane Cullen across the top. I also found several bottles of medication that I later found out was for her psychiatric issues. Jane had stopped taking her meds when she came here. In a delusion that was created because of that, she placed herself as my new wife.”

 

Edward could only shake his head as Carlisle relayed his story.

 

Jasper stepped away from one of the far back wall where he stood while Carlisle spoke. “When I suspected that the numbers were actually coordinates and the ring a key, I did some searching on my own. Jane came from a long line of shall we say, ‘disturbed’ people.” He used his fingers to quote the word disturbed.

 

“Seems that Jane, her mother, and grandmother had quite a difficult time in keeping men around. There are missing person’s reports nearly every decade in or around where they lived. Jane, herself, had a man leave her in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. When I found the mausoleum and used the key to open it, I found all of these pictures laying around in an open vault. It was the only vault not holding a dead body. In a loose stone in the floor, I found bags and bags of money.”

 

Jasper pointed to the duffel bags, one I recognized I used in high school. Jasper nodded to me before continuing.

 

“It still had one of your class schedules tucked into the pocket, alongside an old tube of cherry Chap Stick.”

 

My eyes grew wide with fear. Did they think I was related in any way to the crazy train that was pulling into the station at the moment?

 

“Easy Bella, we know you aren’t part of it.” Esme spoke from her perch beside Carlisle.

 

Jasper opened one of the bags dumping money, bags of jewelry-which I suspected were stolen- credit cards and IDs on the floor.

 

“It looks like Jared was ready to leave the country with you.” Jasper added as he tossed me a passport that had my name and picture on the inside.

 

“Jane kept very detailed accounts of what was going on around her and of the conversations she had with Tanya. Most of it was gibberish, but it was clear that Tanya was getting close to Edward, not to snag him as a husband, but to get closer to Carlisle. Her intent was to kill him, place him in the vault as punishment for breaking her aunt’s crazy ass heart.”

 

With courage and curiosity, I left Edward’s side to pick up one of the letters. Jasper was right. Her words were all over the place, then, as if she found clarity, the words were almost poetic. She honestly believed she loved Carlisle. The photos were of Carlisle and little boy Edward, and almost all of them had a picture of Jane taped into the group. There was the announcement of Carlisle and Esme’s wedding and again Jane had placed her cut out face over the top of Esme’s. The most disturbing, in my opinion, was of the baby announcement for Rose. Jane had crossed out the name Rose and had written in “Susan”. I could only speculate that she didn’t like the name her parents had given her.

 

“Does Tanya have any idea that her Aunt was like this?” I questioned before I gave it a thought. As usual, my mouth didn’t get permission from my brain.

 

Carlisle looked up from a photo of Rose and Jane, his face as cool and emotionless as I have ever seen him.

 

“No, but it doesn’t matter. I did for Tanya what I should have done for Jane.”

 

The room grew quiet as Carlisle’s eyes shot to Edward’s, like they were communicating silently.

 

“I helped her cross over to the afterworld.”

 

  1. Chapter 45

 

Chapter 45

 

BPOV

 

“Bella, swear to me you will deliver the flowers yourself.”

 

Angela was many things, an excellent floral designer, an amazing friend, and not a half bad cook. The one thing she wasn’t good at was relinquishing control. Tomorrow is her special day, her and Ben’s wedding day. She had planned every single detail, worried, and lost sleep for weeks. Her biggest concern was that Ben was still supposedly on an airplane somewhere over the ocean. Seems there was some massive storm when he was trying to take off and it closed the airport temporarily. Last she heard, the runway was cleared to some degree and the plane was due to be airborne shortly, too bad Ben’s battery died during their last conversation.

 

“Yes, ma’am, you have my word that I will show up naked before I leave your flowers behind.”

 

I had to lighten the mood, Angela was driving herself crazy, and as her friend, it was my job to calm her slightly. She smiled a watery smile and hugged me.

 

Since the Jared incident, things have returned to normal around here. Edward had his men repaint my storeroom and refinish the floor. For several weeks, it had been hard for me to even go in there and look around without being a little jumpy. The first time, I tried to go back upstairs into my apartment, I nearly had a panic attack. I called Edward, who came with an army of his guys, packed up all of my things, and then moved them to his new home.

 

Edward had been listening when I mentioned that his condo was cold and masculine. He had an associate of his find him a really cute house just a few miles from the shop. He then proceeded to hand me a black credit card and told me to “make it pretty.” I did just that and I didn’t bat an eyelash or look at price tags as I shopped and shopped and shopped. It felt good to do something for just me for once.

 

The first night, we ordered in take out and slept on an air mattress that Edward had picked up on the way home. It was the worst night of sleep I ever got, but having him there in a house that hadn’t seen any of his activities was so freeing. I woke him in the wee hours of the morning with what he referred to as my “signature” blow job. Pleasing him came naturally to me, like a missing puzzle piece making everything fit. Had I known that my life could be like this, I wouldn’t have pushed him away so hard.

 

The next day, I approached Jessica and offered her the apartment upstairs. She was so excited not having to live in the hotel, she nearly peed her pants as she ran up the stairs. Speaking of Jessica, that’s another change that stands out. She and Jacob have near daily skype sessions. It’s exciting to hear the tones when they are talking. I have to assure Jessica Jacob isn’t the type of guy to spill empty words. I see in her smile the same joy and unending love I have for Edward.

 

“Bella, he made it to London, but he missed his connecting flight due to the bad weather. We have to cancel the wedding.” Angela was a shaking mess when she told all of us the news. We suspected he wouldn’t make it to the rehearsal dinner, but now it seemed he would miss the wedding as well. I felt absolutely helpless as I reached over to console a now sobbing Angela. Edward squeezed my shoulder while making a phone call, then proceeded to talk in a language I couldn’t understand.

 

Glancing at Esme and Jessica over Angela’s shoulder, Esme had her all knowing smile. Edward spoke in a jovial tone and ten minutes later he ended the call pulling Angela towards him.

 

“Sweetness?” He asked her calmly. “I need you to dry your tears and call that marine of yours and have him go to Terminal F. Mr. Dobbins will be waiting for him.”

 

Angela’s eyes grew huge as she scurried off to get her phone out of her purse. Ben had been able to plug in his phone while he waited in London.

 

“What did you do?” I questioned.

 

Edward turned on that sexy as fuck smile that got anything he wanted from me, cleared the small amount of space between us, and wrapped his arms around me.

 

“I don’t like the women in my life to be sad. It just so happens I know a few people who own their own planes and who just happen to owe me a few favors.”

 

That was enough for me. At one point, I made a vow to myself that the less I knew about Edward’s business dealings the better off I was, however, he did need a reward for his good deed, no matter what rule or law he broke to make it happen.

 

Neither Angela nor Ben were particularly religious so they decided they wanted an outdoor wedding. Esme, being the eternal romantic, insisted the event be in her backyard. She put Carlisle to work getting contractors over to make their backyard wedding ready. A gazebo was erected, new plants planted, and trailers that held port-a-potties. She hired a cellist, a harpist and several violin players. The tent housing the reception was made of sheer linen, which you could easily see in and out of. With more lights than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the wedding was set…except for a still missing groom.

 

Jessica and some of the girls in her class volunteered to do the hair and makeup for the bridal party and it took my breath away to see what a great job she did for Angela. Once the bride was dressed and half a bottle of champagne poured down her throat, I snuck off to see if the groom had arrived. When I stepped out of the house, I spotted Edward in the yard standing with a group of men, Ray Bans on, and looking like homemade sin. I paused for a moment to just take in the sight of him. Whenever I questioned Edward’s character in the past, I never questioned his appearance, or his handsome face. However, looking at him this very moment, and knowing that under that chiseled chin and lips, that can do so much magic to my nether region, lies a man with a heart so big and generous that it was bursting to come out. Don’t get me wrong. Edward is a dangerous man, a man who has killed, and takes what he wants, but right now, he was simply the man that made me love him.

 

A commotion from the side of the house did more than make me gasp. Edward and every single man in his circle had their guns drawn and ready. Ben Cheney, was not only a good Marine, but he also knew the type of people his soon-to-be wife surrounded herself with. With white-gloved hands in the air, one gripping his cover, and his uniform slightly askew, he sprinted around the corner to take his place at the altar Esme had created. With a wink to Edward, whose attention was now on me, I walked back into the house to tell Angela her groom was indeed waiting for her.

 

In the business I’m in, I’ve found that weddings are all pretty much similar. You have a bride, groom, and clergy or officiate. Friends of the couple, who agree to dress in clothes that they wouldn’t have normally chosen, and stand in front of all who had gathered to watch two people bind themselves together for eternity, or at least until the judge resolves the marriage.

 

After they say whatever words to one another, there is a celebration of sorts, and then the bride and groom go off to either fuck each other’s brains out or sleep off the alcohol their friends and family thrust at them. Angela and Ben were no different. The words spoken between them had been repeated thousands and thousands of times. Ben stood proud in his uniform and Angela in her dress, that she searched for months to find. The minister blessed the union and the coveted kiss was displayed, food was served, and the cake was cut. Ben held onto his bride as the music played and the lights twinkled under the dark sky. However, as the alcohol was poured and the cake was passed, a sense of finality started to set in.

 

Angela would go off to be with her new husband. I speculate a new duty station was in their future. Watching the couple sway to the strings of the instruments, their expressions were of complete and utter happiness, I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous. I wanted that look…. I wanted to feel the way she felt, being held in the arms of the man, who just hours ago swore to everyone in attendance that he had chosen the girl he wanted to be by his side for the rest of his life. I wanted to know what it felt like to have the man of my dreams be willing to do just as Ben had done. Jared had wanted to marry me, but for all the wrong reasons. He wanted a possession and not a partner, something tangible to come home to when he felt the need. I wanted something more, something that was real.

 

“You’re too pretty to cry.” Edward’s soft voice spoke from behind me. Startled, I turned into his embrace, completely unaware I was crying. Embarrassed, I hid my face in his strong chest, allowing his scent to fill me with calm; a calm that only he gave me.

 

“I didn’t even realize I was crying,” I admitted.

 

“Well, a good wedding will do that,” he responded with soothing arms rubbing up and down my back.

 

I wouldn’t admit it to Edward that night, but I had made a decision that I was all in. I was all in to giving him more than just a sexual part of me. I was ready to give him my heart and soul. Maybe, just maybe, if the stars lined up and the moon shone brightly, I would get to feel that love and devotion I desperately wanted.

 

  1. Chapter 46

 

Chapter 46

 

EPOV

 

I watched as Bella twisted vases, adjusted stems, and smiled at people as they passed her. Angela was more than her employee, she was a good friend. While the guests danced and ate over cooked chicken, I held on to the hand of the girl that owned my heart and soul. She had completely changed nearly every aspect of my life. When the party was at its fullest, Angela gathered the single women for the traditional bouquet toss. Bella tried to get out of it, but even Rose corralled her into the pack.

 

Women are peculiar creatures. They complain the air is too brisk and it messes up their perfect hair, yet the second the bride tosses that bunch of flowers over her shoulder, they act like football players during the playoffs, leaping over one another to get the prize. Legends foretelling if they catch it, they will be next to marry. Even funnier to watch was the men treat that garter belt as if it’s the bill for the entire wedding.

 

I couldn’t wait to get Bella alone to confess to her my intentions for the future. While Angela and Ben made their way through their congratulating guests, I had a brief opportunity to slip an envelope into Ben’s jacket pocket. I would feel better if he could take his new bride to a proper hotel, have a five-star dinner and share a bottle of good champagne. It wasn’t long after that I caught Bella rubbing her foot as she sat and visited with my mother. I knew she was tired, but I did have plans for her.

 

The house I procured for Bella was actually payment for a debt my family was owed, but she didn’t need to know that. She felt safe here and that was all that mattered. She floated around this house like it was an extension of her. While she loaded clothes into the washer, I headed into the bedroom to set up my surprise.

 

“What’s all this?”

 

Bella was standing in the doorway with a stack of folded towels in her hands. Removing them from her arms, I placed them on the dresser before reaching out for her hand, encouraging her to come further into the room. On nearly every surface, there were small tea light candles illuminating the rose petals that covered the bed and highlighting the black box that sat proudly in the center. The candlelight reflected off the large diamond, causing it shimmer brilliantly.

 

“I love you with everything I am, and I know that you may not be there yet, but it doesn’t change how I feel about you.” I walked over to the bed with her hand in mine, picked up the black box, and then dropped to one knee.

 

“Marry me, Bella?”

 

She looked from the ring to my face and back again. My heart pounded with the thought that she held my happiness on the tip of her perfect pink lips. The next word she spoke, although it held no malice or aggravation, would challenge me for the next four months.

 

“No.”

 

Four months later

 

“Do you, Emmett Scott McCarty, take Rosalie Lillian Cullen, to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

 

With our hands intertwined, much like our hearts and the hearts of those around us, I rubbed the back of Bella’s hand as we watched my friend marry my little sister. I’ve never seen my sister look more beautiful or more in love than she did at that moment. Bella shifted in her seat as Emmett winked at Rose mouthing a silent ‘I love you’.

 

After Bella declined my proposal of marriage, she explained that she nearly married one man that she wasn’t in love with and she wouldn’t make that mistake twice. Deep down somewhere I knew that was the answer I would get; I just wasn’t a very patient man. However, three weeks later I was in the middle of a meeting with some land developers who wanted to buy several plots of land that the family owned, when Bella came bursting into the meeting with eyes red and her face damp with tears. I asked the men to wait in my game room as I held her giving her time to calm down, before I took the life of the sorry motherfucker that had made my girl cry.

 

The story she shared with me though, was one I would never forget. An older gentleman had come into the shop looking for a single stem rose. His wife had died several years ago and he visited her grave every day. He told Bella he just wasn’t ready to let her go yet and how he would give anything to have just one more kiss or be able to hear her say she loved him one last time. He left the shop with a final word of advice, that if she ever found someone she couldn’t live without, tell them she loves them every single day, since you never know when it will be the last.

 

“Since you do what you do, she emphasized by waving her hand around the room. “You need to know that I didn’t want to love you. I wanted to hate you for being just a larger version of Jared, but then I got to know you, the real you, not the bad ass motherfucker you’ve created, but the soft hearted, wonderful man that is holding me right now instead of making millions with those greedy bastards out there.”

 

She placed her warm hands on my face, her big, red-rimmed eyes shining from her recent melt down and whispered, “I love you, Edward Cullen.”

 

Once Bella was kissed within an inch of her life I helped her into her car, sending her back to work. That night Bella insisted on grabbing take-out and meeting me at the house. When I pulled into the driveway, I received a call from Jasper informing me that he was thinking of asking Alice to marry him, and just taking her off to Vegas for an Elvis wedding. I gave him my best wishes and permission to use the family jet, yes the same jet I flew Ben home from London in.

 

Later that night, we were wrapped around one another with the television on some reality show we had lost interest in. With her back to my chest, I could feel her breathing while she played with my fingers. This was one of my favorite positions to be in with my nose buried in her hair, the smell of her shampoo still lingering. I had shared with her the news that Jasper wanted to get married. She smiled a smile that said it all. She was finally happy and she wanted everyone around her to be just as happy.

 

I was nearly asleep when my phone started ringing. With a quick kiss to the back of Bella’s head, I quietly answered my phone. I listened as my father gave me the news that would be all over the media in the morning.

 

“Everything ok?” She questioned while her hand slid across my face, concern replacing the smile that was just there. Tossing my phone onto the nightstand I turned her onto her back as I placed kisses to her cheek, jaw, and neck causing her to moan my name.

 

“Alex Volturi was found dead in his cell tonight.” She didn’t need an explanation as to the importance this was for our family. We would now have total control over the city of Chicago, this was huge for us. Her face bore a blank expression as she stared directly into my eyes, although it was obvious she was trying hard not to smile.

 

“Ask me.”

 

Since that night nearly four months ago, I’ve asked Bella to marry me at least ten times only for her to turn me down, making me work even harder and using all the charm I have in my body. I carry the ring in my jacket pocket, where it’s been since I bought it.

 

“Isabella Swan, will you finally take pity on this poor soul and agree to marry me?”

 

This time was different than the others the past few months, because she pushed me onto my back and straddled my hips. She wasn’t smiling, but her eyes were serious as she lowered her face to within inches of mine.

 

“I love you, Edward Cullen. Yes…Yes, I will marry you.”

 

Beta Note:

 

I think we are almost done with this story. Thanks to Mathisson (Cayce) for allowing me to beta, and thanks to momma2fan for coming in as a co-beta/pre-reader helping me out and catching my mistakes. We are all perfectionists. ~~Kim Roland-Edwards (Kimmie43)

 

*Next story is Signed, Sealed and Delivered, which we have been working on this past week. SEALWard…

 

  1. Chapter 47

 

Epilogue

 

BPOV

 

One year later

 

It has been my experience that not all secrets are bad. Sometimes secrets are better than knowing the entire truth. Like withholding the truth to protect a loved one left behind, such in a case of a spouse dying in a horrible accident, and the remaining partner being told that they perished instantly. Or in the case of knowing your friend’s sister is sleeping with her husband, the truth ripping apart two relationships.

 

In my case, the secrets I kept were to further my life, keeping me from becoming a story on the five o’clock news. They also kept me from knowing what true love can feel like and to enjoy it.

 

When Edward proposed, I meant every word when I said yes. He also frowned a little when I told him I wanted a long engagement. I wanted time to make certain he was going to remain the man I fell in love with. To my delight, not only did he remain that man, he became so much more.

 

Jessica graduated in the top five of her class. All of us filled four rows of the auditorium clapping and cheering as she walked across the stage to accept her certificate. Edward, however, arranged for Jacob to be waiting in uniform on the other side of the stage. When she shook the Dean’s hand, Jacob came out flowers in hand to hug a crying, yet very happy Jessica.

 

Jacob decided to leave the Marines to start a business of his own. Jessica had an interview with someone that does make up for production companies. He insisted on taking her to the interview and while he waited outside, a limo pulled up and a man he didn’t recognize stepped out only to be surrounded by paparazzi. The cameras and microphones overwhelmed the man making him fall on the sidewalk. Jacob rushed in pulling the man to his feet and helping him into the building. The man was so impressed he told Jacob that if he ever needed a job to give him a call. Jacob told him that he just happen to be unemployed at the moment and could use one. The man was actually the CEO of the production company Jessica was interviewing for and hired him immediately. Now Jess and Jacob work together and are very happy and in love.

 

Ben and Angela did get that transfer. Guam is where they have called home for the past six months. She works for a local florist and although she isn’t as happy as she was here, she tells me the weather is so much better. Edward has offered to fly us over to visit, but business for me has been really busy and I can’t seem to find the time.

 

Rosalie is currently expecting. She and Emmett announced the news not long after returning from their honeymoon. Esme was overjoyed, and then turned to Edward telling him she expected the same when we returned from ours.

 

I would love to say that life with Edward has been complete bliss, but that would definitely be a lie. Edward is human and a man, who at times can get on my last nerve, jumping up and down repeatedly. He has learned which button to push to get particular reactions from me. In turn, I have learned what phrases will get the biggest rise from him. I think sometimes couples will intentionally start an argument just to get the emotions at so high, that the tension can only be relieved by hot and hard sex. I’ve tested this theory and I can tell you with complete sincerity that it’s true. I’ve also learned that inside the man that took the lives of two men who wanted to harm me, is a heart that beats for me. His love and devotion for me knows no end. He may not always agree with me, but he loves me without conditions or prejudices.

 

“Bella, sweetheart, it’s time.”

 

I’ve also learned that having people around you that love you is a true blessing. When I sat down and thought about who I wanted in my wedding, a number of people came to mind. Carlisle told me he would be happy to stand in for my father and walk me down the aisle. I thanked him, but decided I wanted to have the first person who gave me a leg up give my hand to the person who will support and love me for the rest of my days. Esme cried for several minutes, but finally agreed to walk with me.

 

I’ve never been a person to want extravagant things. I’ve never wanted to drive expensive cars or live in a million dollar home. So when it came to where I wanted to get married, Edward handed me his credit card and told me to do whatever I wanted. In our neighborhood by the shop is a little park with an old run down fountain in the center. The city had long forgotten about this little park, but I felt like it had charm. I had Edward do his magic with the city officials and he hired people to come in to resurface the fountain and clean up the broken glass from the ground.

 

Esme and I planted hearty plants that will be easy to maintain long after the wedding is over. The Pappas, who own the Greek restaurant, went completely overboard with the menu for the reception. Our wedding now looked more like a block party than anything else, and I love it. I love being a part of the community that we call home.

 

“He looks just like his father did on the day I married him.”

 

Esme was a blessing during the planning. She knew several different venders that always seemed to owe her a favor.

 

“Although we were married in a church, I have to admit this turned out pretty amazing.”

 

Walking down the makeshift aisle, created by one of those mentioned venders, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I’ve never denied that Edward Cullen was a handsome man, I never would dream of doing that, but it’s the love he has behind those green eyes of his that makes all of this right. The desire to have me not just as a possession, although I’m certain he feels that way to a degree, but to want me as an equal, a partner, and a lover. To know that someday I will give that man a family he can be proud of and make that house he bought for us a home.

 

As I took the hand of that man, I ignored the numerous amount of guests, the sunshine that came out after six days of rain, the band that had played for the past thirty minutes while the guests took their seats, and everything and everyone for just one moment to live in the here and now.

 

Edward brought my hand to his lips placing a tender kiss to my knuckles; a gesture he had done since we met. It’s old fashion and dated, but I completely adore it. I love how tender he is when he does these things showing me just how he feels.

 

“I love you.” He whispered just for my ears.

 

“I love you too.” I whispered back with a mischievous smile.

 

Some secrets are bad to keep, like the one I’m currently keeping from him. I’ve suspected for weeks that something wasn’t right, but I had chosen to place blame on other things going on in my world…like this wedding.

 

When the priest addressed the crowd to sit down, I leaned closer to whisper, “I know a secret.”

 

He smiled that smile that I want to believe is only for me, knowing that in a few months, I’ll have to share it with someone else.

 

“You do?” He teases me, ignoring the priest as he starts the service.

 

“Yep.”

 

“Well, if you tell it to me, then it won’t be a secret anymore.” He winked.

 

I only smile as I remember waking up before the sun rose wanting to be alone when I did the test. Three minutes and two pink lines told me all I needed to know. It will be my gift to him. The test is wrapped up and tonight when we’re alone, I’ll let him in on the secret that I keep.

 

A/N:

 

That’s it! I have to thank Kim, my beta, on this fiction. She worked so hard and pushed me when I needed pushing. I never intended for this to be over 25 chapters, but sometimes you have to let the characters speak. Thank you to momma2fan who has come in with her red ink pen, pointing out all the errors that Kim’s eagle eyes miss. But most of all, thank you the readers who help to keep me motivated. Life can get really crazy and we all need an escape, I hope that I have given all of you that break from reality, even if only a short one.

 

We are continuing with the twisted things that go through my mind. Two more fictions have been started. The first is Signed, Sealed, Delivered. We have a Navy SEALward, it’s just getting started, but you can find it on my profile. The second is Conditions May Apply, where we find Boxerward. Both new fictions feature a strong Bella and a kick-ass Edward. Low angst in SSD, CMA is not a traditional angst, it’s a tongue-in-cheek angst…read it to see what I mean.