Waiting in The Twilight Chapter 27~ Complete!

image2

 

Waiting in the Twilight

Chapter 27

Two Months Later.

 

MEoW POV

WOOO HOOOO!!! ***Runs in all giggles and fan-girling ***

OMG! OMG!. OMG!!! Guess what I just got?? The second best thing next to being with Edward Cullen! I Got an e-mail from none other than “The Pretty” himself!!! **snoopy happy dance of joy!**

Now don’t be jealous, bitches! It was sent to me but it was meant for all of us! How do I know it’s real? Well, it came from EdwardsDream~gurl’s mail box and was signed from both of them but it was def written by Edward!

Bet you’d like to read it huh?

 

Dear Jet,

I just wanted to let you and my girls know how much Bella and I have appreciated your support and all the kind e-mails and “get well” wishes we received from all of you.

I assure you that Bella and I are currently in an undisclosed location enjoying some much deserved down time and helping each other through the healing process. She’s had to have a few surgeries on her ankle but the prognosis is good. In the meantime, she is working frantically on her upcoming debut novel. Sorry, no hints will be forthcoming LOL…I’m sworn to secrecy!

As for me, I’m doing fine, too.  Since you and the girls seem to know my schedule better than I do (LOL), I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn I’m scheduled to begin filming Mission Black List in the fall. It’ll be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it!

Oh, and we decided to get some pretty ferocious guard dogs, just in case (pics attached).

Cuddles” & “Georgie”

Scary, aren’t they?

Again, we just wanted to say Thank You and we’ll be lurking!

Much love to you and all My Girls!

Forever YOUR fans,

Edward and Bella

 

So, ladies! There it is…our man! Beautiful through and through. **wipes tears**

Keep in touch, you two!! Until then, we’ll keep perving and fan-girling.

(Sorry, EDG, but great habits are bad to break LOL!)

 

OK, girls! Share your thoughts while I go frame my letter!

JET

 

EPOV

Bella and I had spent two weeks in hospital. She’d needed two surgeries on her ankle and has had another surgery since then. According to the doctors, she’d have to endure at least one more. Due to the exposure she suffered at the hands of James and Victoria, she’d also had a mild case of hypothermia and battled the flu for the first week.

I had minor surgery on my thigh where Victoria had bitten me as there had been some muscle damage. She’d also scratched my cornea and I was still wearing an eye patch. My hands have healed from where she’d dug her nails into them. The doctors had needed to dig 3 of her fingernails out of my flesh, though. Luckily for me, there was no permanent damage to my hands and I could still play guitar and piano.

Bella and I shared a hospital room and spent many hours talking and making plans. One of the first things we had talked about and argued over had been bodyguards. I wanted to increase their numbers from 2 to 4. Bella, on the other hand, wanted none at all. She was afraid they would draw more media attention and bring the paps and reporters back to her doorstep. The press and the paparazzi had followed us to the hospital and lingered for days but eventually dissipated. With a little sneakiness on Jasper’s part, we’d been able to return to her home unnoticed. There’d been no press or paps around us at all since we’d left the hospital. Now Bella’s biggest worry was having the BG’s, as she called them, hovering over her while she tried to write her novels, always being a constant reminder of what had happened. So, we compromised. She’d suggested getting a guard dog and only using the BG’s if and when we had to go somewhere. I’d agreed…well, sort of. The four BG’s were there; they just weren’t anywhere Bella would see them. They were stationed outside the house where we couldn’t see them but they could see the house. Those stationed near the lone country road stopped any and all unfamiliar vehicles for vetting.

While we’d been deep in the woods, we’d been unable to get a clear signal to make calls. It was Bella who’d known that the Iphone had a GPS tracking signal and set it off when I’d given her my jacket. That was how Emmett was able to find us when he did. We’d incorporated that tracking device into the security team’s options. It kept track of where Bella and I were at all times, now. If it should deviate from what the security team was told our plans/locations were, the BG’s were to take appropriate action.

Since Bella and I had agreed on having a guard dog while we were in the hospital and unable to get to a shelter ourselves, Bella went online and researched local animal shelters. Once she’d found a dog, she sent Alice to pick it up. I wasn’t allowed to see it because she wanted it to be a surprise. I had a feeling I knew where this was going so, while Alice and Bella had been busy choosing a “guard dog,” I decided to have a pow wow with Emmett.

When Bella and I finally returned to her home, the so-called guard dog she and my sister had chosen was nothing more than a cotton ball on legs; a Maltipoo, of all things! Half Maltese-half Poodle! I supposed, if another crazed fan broke in, it could kill them with cuteness, but that was about all it could do! They’d appropriately named it ”Cuddles.”

 bellas dog

Yeah, that would strike fear in the hearts of any crazed fans! I’d suspected they’d pull something like this so I’d sent Emmett, Head of Security, to adopt a real guard dog. I was thinking of something along the lines of a trained German Shepherd but, when Bella and I had returned home, I saw “Killer” hiding and trembling beside the sofa next to Cuddles!

 0c66aeeaaaa6399cd6ac7722b0a1c3cc

Emmett’s version of a real guard dog had been an Old English Sheepdog puppy! I supposed, in a year or so, he’d be large enough to scare someone but, in all honesty, I think Cuddles was more vicious! The girls promptly renamed the sheepdog “Georgie!” Emmett’s excuse for the ferocious killer guard dog had been that the sheepdog “was the largest puppy in the shelter!” I’d never admit it to them but, 5 minutes after I saw the two dogs, I was completely in love with both of them.

Getting up from the dining room table to get a drink, I couldn’t help but smile and roll my eyes at the two guard dogs. They were both sound asleep on the sofa, with Georgie wrapped completely around Cuddles.

I leaned against the kitchen counter, feet crossed at the ankles, sipping coffee. Perusing my Bella from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, it was all so clear. She was my life, now. Just watching her filled my heart with joy.

She’d warned me she was a table hog and, boy, she wasn’t lying! Sitting at the long side of the dining room table, crutches leaning against the French doors, she had 3 notebooks, a stack of sticky notes, a tall glass of iced tea, an ashtray, a pack of cigarettes and a lighter on her right. (I recently discovered she only smokes when she’s writing, which really meant she lit a cigarette, took one drag while she brainstormed, then set it in the ashtray to burn out while she typed. Too cute!)

On her left was a long forgotten slice of half-eaten coffee cake, a dictionary, 3 reference books, a highlighter and a pen. In front of her was her laptop and she was typing away like a mad thing. My laptop and ashtray sat at the end of the table looking lonely compared to all of Bella’s “writing companions,” as I’d come to call them.

Watching her write her novel, I often had to stifle a giggle, as I did now. She’d type for a while, sometimes a long while and, if she liked what she wrote, she’d do this thing that just made me want to laugh out loud. She’d fist both hands, rotate them several times in a circle while moving her head back and forth, and wiggle her butt in the seat. I called it her happy dance. If she didn’t like what she wrote, she’d scowl at her laptop for a long time. If she couldn’t figure it out, she’d stick her tongue out at the monitor. Eventually, she’d pick up one notebook or the other and either read from her notes or make more notes. At some point, the answer would come to her and she’d say, “Aha!” and start typing again. Inevitably, that always led to the happy dance.

Today, a long, yellow No. 2 pencil rested behind her ear. Her hair was tied up in a sloppy bun, held in place by a pencil woven through her thick, auburn tresses. Another pencil was clenched between her teeth, and she’d donned oversized reading glasses which gave her a cute, albeit owlish, appearance. One of my flannel shirts swallowed her tiny frame as well as the camisole she wore underneath it. She’d been forced into wearing sweatpants at all times until her foot healed. The ones she wore now were gray with the word “Juicy” written in pink across her bottom. (Damn Alice! Those pants made my mind go gutter diving every time she wore them! So, of course, they were Bella’s favorite.) Alice wanted to dress her up like her own personal Barbie doll, as if Bella being my girlfriend gave her the right to do so. But, the truth was, Bella was never more beautiful to me than she was right now, when she was being herself, lost in her own world.

She must’ve just gotten a brilliant idea because, as I watched her, she grinned around the pencil in her mouth and began typing like mad again. God, I loved her!

Thinking about how close I’d come to losing her, to missing this moment and all the moments since we’d carried her out of the woods…it still filled me with fury. I could’ve killed Victoria and never given it a second thought. Not Bella, though. Despite all the torture they’d put her through, she’d taken pity on Victoria, insisting the woman was sick and in need of help. She was right, of course, but, in all honesty, had it been anyone but Bella asking me to stop, I wouldn’t have. Victoria was now in a state mental hospital in LA, far far away from my EDGe, and I hoped she would never get out.

When we came home from the hospital and learned that Victoria had been institutionalized, we were ecstatic. That night, as we slept, I found myself walking through the woods at a leisurely pace. It was early evening and the forest was alive with birdsong and thriving with beautiful spring blooms. Sunbeams glittered through new foliage and I smiled at the spectacle surrounding me. I couldn’t remember ever being happier. There was only one place I wanted to be right now and I knew just how to get there. Before long, I enter a large, circular meadow resplendent with purple and lavender flowers. In the center stands a familiar tree, although it no longer appears broken and split. Gazing at the whole, healthy, thriving oak in wonder, I look down and to my left. Her hand is in mine and I raise my eyes to see the most beautiful woman I have ever known; my EDGe.

The dream changes and we find ourselves sitting beneath our tree, looking out over the field of flowers. Holding her enfolded in my arms, the sound of children laughing and playing rings in the distance.

I open my eyes to see Bella just waking, looking at me and smiling. We’ve shared the same dream once again but, this time, we know exactly what it means.

The End

 

 

Chapter 26

image2

Disclaimer: This is Stephanie Meyer’s sand box. I’m just playing in it with my toys.

AN: Well it is finally here! The second to last chapter of WIT. Been through hell and back in RL and with these last 2 chapters but, nonetheless, here it is. Because it took so long I’m not gonna make you all wait for the final chapter! The next chapter will post sometime on Sunday (tomorrow). Despite the fact that I’ve unintentionally kept you all hanging, I hope you’ll let me know what you think and leave me some love in the reviews section! Huge thanks as always to my BFF Rita01tx. We made it GF!

Waiting in the Twilight

Chapter 26

Jasper POV

The pictures rolling in on my cell were beyond frightening. Victoria Sutherland had been hiding a massive secret room, in the center of which was essentially a shrine to Edward. A large bronzed statue of Robert the Vampire sat on a table surrounded by dozens of candles and various Twilight memorabilia. The officer on site said there appeared to be blood at the base of the statue. Cold sweat trickled down my spine when I saw she’d turned a Robert doll into a voodoo doll of Edward, its eyes and mouth sewn shut, a few withered roses tucked into its clothes, and God only knew what else. According to the officers, this was only the beginning.

More pictures began coming in, this time showing a huge wall smothered in photos of Edward from his teen years to the night of the LA premiere just 48 hours ago. She’d written words like “MINE,” “BELOVED” and “FOREVER” on several of them with a red marker while others had hearts drawn on them. Among the ones taken of Edward and Bella together at the LA portion of the promo tour weekend, Bella’s image had been scratched out with a nail. In others, her eyes had been gouged out or she’d…she’d stabbed a knife through Bella’s picture into the wall and left it there. If my fear for Bella and Edward had been severe before these photos, it had just shifted to extreme when I saw Bella circled in red marker with a line drawn across her throat. And still, there was more.

“Till Death Do Us Part” was spray painted in red at the top of a second wall in Victoria’s hidden room. The paint had been allowed to drip so heavily it looked like dripping blood. Beneath the words were manips of Edward I’d never seen before, progressing from the average manip to sexually explicit manips where she’d photoshopped herself next to Edward. From there, they changed to wedding pictures of her and Edward, returning to sexually explicit photos of her as dominatrix and Edward as her submissive. They grew sickeningly explicit, drifting into violent, torturous, masochistic madness. Manips of her cutting Edward open and licking his wounds, literally eating his heart and…other cut off parts.

It was making me physically ill to see them yet, to my horror, more photos were sent to me, only not from Victoria’s photo gallery this time. Oh, no… these were far more frightening. The officers began sending pictures of a third wall where various BDSM toys were displayed next to what appeared to be a tattoo gun, above which ownership tattoo designs could be seen. Beside all that…dear God, rows of stainless steel knives and surgical instruments, plus several vials of liquid I could only assume were sedatives to be administered through an IV hanging from its pole.

The fourth and final wall in the massive room was a 20 square foot iron cell with shackles on one half of the wall. A beautifully made 4-poster bed graced the other half. On each post of the bed, a set of handcuffs lay open and waiting for her victim. The bed was made up with an expensive looking bedspread and an excessive number of pillows, the most prominent of which was white and heart-shaped, hand embroidered with the words, “Edward Loves Victoria.”

Victoria Sutherland was one sick fuck and my family was in deep shit!

EPOV

“I really should punish you for being so late,” the red haired woman pouted, slapping my chest lightly, almost playfully. Who the hell is this psycho bitch?

“Hell yes! Let’s punish the shit out of him!” Hunter shrieked with delight. Making sure I was watching, he darted back to Bella, propped her up with her back against his chest and stuck his hand down the top of her nightgown. He grabbed her breast roughly, all the while keeping the gun and his eyes trained on me as he slowly licked the side of her dirty, bloody face. The bastard was waiting for me to lunge, to attack him, but I refused to give him an excuse to get rid of me so he could hurt Bella even more. My mind raced to find a way out of this as I watched her grimace in pain, shutting her eyes tightly while tears rolled down her cheeks. She was shivering violently, whether from fear or the bitter cold, I wasn’t sure. Probably both.

“James, stop that!” the redhead commanded. James cackled and walked away from Bella, returning to me. Cold steel pressed to my forehead once more and, for a moment, I expected him to shoot me where I stood.

“Shoot me! Go ahead!” I snarled.

“NO! Please don’t hurt him!” Bella screamed. I wasn’t trying to scare her, I just wanted their attention on me instead.

“I don’t give a fuck! You got a problem with me? Fine! Let’s have at it but be a man and fight me! Don’t hurt an innocent woman! That just makes you a fucking coward!” I shrieked. Anger and raw hatred flared in his eyes. Why he hated me so much, I had no clue but what I saw in his eyes went far beyond what had happened at the premiere. James shoved the gun harder into my forehead, gearing himself up to blow me away.

The red haired woman casually reached up and took the gun away from James with no resistance. He seemed startled at first, but his expression changed quickly from hatred to acceptance. She handed him a rope and turned the gun on Bella, perceptive enough to realize that, while I cared little for myself, I would fight to the death to protect Bella. Having a gun pointed at her was all it took for me to submit to the inevitable.

Moments later, I was roughly tied up, sitting on the ground against a tree several feet away from Bella and wishing like hell I’d gotten a gun from Emmett the moment I learned James Hunter was involved. My whole body tensed as I saw him pull a bandana from the back pocket of his jeans and a small brown bottle from his jacket pocket. He poured a few drops of liquid from the bottle onto the bandana and started towards me.

“NO!” the woman yelled, jumping in front of James to stop him. “Not yet,” she whispered softly. He looked confused for a moment but put the bottle away. She patted him gently on the chest. It amazed me to watch him follow orders from a woman with a child’s voice. Just when I thought they were going to kiss, the woman turned away from him.

I stole a quick glance at Bella who was shivering violently and looking terribly frightened.

To my astonishment, the woman came straight over to me, straddled my upper thighs and sat down, laying the gun on the ground beside us.

“Hello, sweetheart. Are you comfy?” She looked me in the eyes and frowned, the frown turning to a pout. “Oh, no! Your poor head!” she exclaimed. Stretching around behind the tree, she grabbed what looked like a muff that matched the immaculate white fur coat she wore and placed it behind my head.

“There, now. Is that better, dearest?” she asked, using both hands to stroke my hair away from my face.

“What kind of sick game are you two playing, huh?” I asked, looking back and forth between them.

“Oh, it’s no game, Cullen. You’re…”

“Shut up, James,” the woman said as nonchalantly as if she’d said thank you. She caressed my cheek with the backs of her fingers and looked lovingly into my eyes.

“It’s been such a long time, my darling! Oh, how I’ve missed you!” she crooned. Leaning forward, she placed her head on my chest and actually snuggled me. What the fuck?! These two whack jobs were total opposites. James was dirty, grungy and smelled like he hadn’t bathed in weeks, as if he’d been living out here in the woods twice that long. This woman, however, looked and smelled like she’d just stepped out of a high-end shop on Rodeo Drive.

“Do…do I know you?” I asked, completely baffled. If I could get her talking, maybe I’d get some insight into whatever it was they were up to as well as buying us some time until Emmett and his search party showed up. By my calculations, I probably had an hour lead on them. Although I’d had a general idea of where to go and I’d been running, it stood to reason they’d be walking slowly, looking for clues. I had no idea how long it would take them to get here but I had to try. James stood a few feet away, his back to Bella, watching this woman and me, amusement, confusion and anger alternately flickering across his face.

“Aww, now you’ve really broken my heart!” she pouted, raising up to look at me, her bottom lip protruding like a petulant child’s. Smiling brightly, she tucked her hands together under her chin and giggled, “I suppose I can’t blame you, dearest. I have changed quite a bit. It’s amazing what money can buy.”

“No shit and pretty soon we’re going to be rolling in it!” James laughed.

“Shut up, James.” Again, she said it like she was agreeing with him rather than giving him an order. She never took her eyes off mine as she spoke to him. Still straddling my lap, she began preening and fluffing her hair as though she expected me to tell her how lovely she looked. I started working at the ropes with all I had. I was known for my long, wonky fingers and being double jointed. Maybe I could make it work to my advantage.

“I’ve never left you, you know? Even when they put me…well, never mind about that.” She stroked my face and throat as she continued. “But I’ve been with you all along, sweetheart. I’ve been there at every public appearance…you just never once noticed me in the crowd despite how I know I stood out among all the other… Oh, but dearest! You were so beautiful and wonderful with all of them, just like you always were with me. I knew all along this day was coming and that you’d come to me.”

“You…never left me?” This woman was nuts, acting like we were old lovers or something! I caught movement from the corner of my eye and risked another glance at Bella. She’d struggled upright using her arms and managed to pull my jacket on. As she shifted her weight I noticed a pulsating glow from my cell emanating from my jacket pocket. I hoped she had found the cell and had been able to text Emmett or Jasper.

“Victoria, what are you doing?” James whined, sounding irritated and confused.

“Shut up, James.” Victoria scooted closer until she was straddling my hips. I cringed as she rubbed her hands up and down my chest. “Yes. Even though you left me all those years ago, I knew we were meant to be and that destiny would bring us together again.”

“Victoria!” James shouted at her. She completely ignored him and began unbuttoning my shirt.

“Victoria, I’m…” I was going to ask where we’d first met but she cut me off.

“Oh! Say it again, darling! It’s so much better than what you used to call me. Say it again,” she pleaded, exposing my chest to the chill air.

“What I used to call you?”

“Vic,” she said, slapping me so hard across the face I felt my teeth rattle. “Say my real name,” she demanded. I wracked my brains trying to remember anyone from my past named Victoria, Vicky, or even anyone I’d ever called Vic, but drew a blank.

“Um,…Victoria?” I said. Apparently she was under the delusion that we meant something to each other. Looking into her eyes, it was like the lights were on but no one was home. When James had spoken, and when she’d said I’d called her Vic, there’d been a flash of something dark and sinister in those eyes.

“VICTORIA! You’re not following the plan! We have to dump the bitch and get on the road with him NOW!” With the two of them arguing, I worked even more frantically at the ropes and knot trying to loosen them. I’d managed to untie one of the knots but it felt like there were at least three more.

“Shut up, James,” Victoria said, her eyes glued to mine as she started stroking me through my jeans.

So that was their plan! They had done all this to get to me for money.

“Don’t tell me to shut up again! What about the money? The ransom? Remember? Get him away from his entourage and ditch the bitch then ransom him for mega bucks?”

“That was your plan not mine ,” she spat. “Why would I care about a ransom when I have millions?”

“Wait! Millions? You have millions?” James asked stunned. It was obvious his little weirdo girlfriend here had been keeping James in the dark.

“Of course, stupid! For a so-called journalist, you don’t do much research, do you? All I wanted was a way to get close to Edward and you gave me that. I don’t need you now. You can go. Just make sure you take that whiny little bitch over there with you.”

“You fucking slut! You…”

“I said, shut up, James! Victoria snarled. Picking up the gun, she put a bullet in his forehead without even flinching.

James stood frozen for a moment, as if his body hadn’t registered the fact that his brain no longer inhabited his head. Gurgling sounds escaped his throat before he finally dropped face first to the ground.

Victoria mocked the sounds escaping from James and then giggled madly as his body lay twitching. The whole scene made my blood run cold.

“God! I hate it when people don’t know when to shut up! He totally ruined my mood!” she whined like a spoiled brat who’d just been told she couldn’t have her way. “Now I have to get rid of whiny ass over there all by myself!” To my horror, she turned the gun on Bella and my heart lunged into my throat.

“Victoria! Honey!” I shouted, trying to get through to her before she shot Bella, too. She hesitated, but didn’t lower the gun.

“Aww, baby! That can wait, can’t it? It’s not like she’s going anywhere,” I crooned. Slowly, she turned to face me, confusion and something akin to hope flashing in her feral eyes. The gun lowered slightly but remained pointed in Bella’s general direction.

“Victoria, don’t leave me hanging, baby,” I smiled, gesturing with a nod to my crotch. The thought of her touching me again made my flesh crawl but it was the only thing I could think of to pull her attention away from Bella. She cocked her head to one side and looked at me until, at last, she laid the gun back down and stroked my cheek.

“Where were we, dearest?” she cooed.

“Untie me and I’ll show you,” I told her.

“If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not see my brother’s junk, you freak show!” Emmett’s voice came from the darkness seconds before I saw his boot make contact with her face. She went flying backwards off me, landing a few feet away. Damn! Emmett sure packed a wallop! Blood gushed from her nose but, surprisingly, it hadn’t knocked her out.

“Who the fuck is she?” I asked as Emmett untied me.

“Her name’s Victoria Sutherland. She’s from the UK,” Emmett said, lifting her off the ground by one arm. He tried to call Quil with our location but the cell phone had no signal. I jumped to my feet and I kicked the gun away.

With no thought or concern for what anyone would think or say, I started ripping Victoria’s warm fur coat off of her body so I could wrap it around Bella. That’s where I made my mistake. As I tried to pull the coat off the arm Emmett was holding, he was forced to let go. With more speed than I thought possible, she whirled out of the coat, dashed across the clearing and grabbed Bella from behind. Unable to move or react in time, I could only watch as she whipped a knife from her boot and held it at Bella’s throat.

“Buncha fuckin’ pussies! You think that fuckin’ kick was enough to take me down? HA! I loved it! When I’m done with Edward, you and I should get together, big man! I’ll show you the joys of true pain.” She licked her lips salaciously, looking at Emmett with newfound respect.

“I’ve got a clean shot, brother,” Emmett murmured under his breath.

“NO! You might hit Bella!” I hissed in a panic.

“Let her go, Sutherland! You ain’t getting out of here alive if you don’t!” Emmett yelled. I could see in his face he was about to take the shot. I had to do something, so I stepped in front of his gun. Even though I couldn’t see him, I could sense him moving into a new position but, with me in the way, he wouldn’t take the shot now unless he had to.

“Wait! Sutherland? From the UK? Why do I know that name?” I asked, once more trying to buy time.

“Barnes Theatre Company,” Victoria spat. “I was a set designer.”

“Yes! Of course! Victoria! Sweetheart! We were so close. But then, just when I took on Twilight, you vanished! Where’d you go? I came back for you only no one would tell me what happened to you.”

“You…came back…for me?”

“Of course I did! You look so different, now. Just so beautiful. I didn’t recognize you.”

“You think I’m beautiful?” she asked. Again, she cocked her head to the side like a curious dog. She still had a grip on Bella but her hold had relaxed.

“I always did! I was just too young, dumb and self-conscience to say anything. But I never forgot you…” She’d lowered the knife and stood up, dropping Bella like a wet blanket. I’d seen how fast she was and, until that knife was out of her hands, I wouldn’t feel safe. She still stood between me and Bella and, although Bella knew not to say anything, Emmett wasn’t so smart.

“Edward, move! I’ve got the shot!” he yelled, stepping to the side so I’d be out of his line of fire.

“I said, shut up!”Victoria screamed. Before I could blink, she threw the knife at Emmett with incredible precision, stabbing deep into his shoulder. He dropped the gun as he fell. The way she stared at him with such hatred, such insane malice in her eyes, I wondered how she’d functioned at all in the real world. As far as I could tell, she was unarmed now but I wasn’t stupid. She was obviously crazy and I had no idea what she was capable of. At the moment, my only thought was to get her away from Bella.

“Victoria! Baby, now that no one stands in our way, come to me, love. It’s been so long. I want to hold you in my arms,” I pleaded, holding my hand out to her. She ignored me, still staring, literally seething at Emmett lying on the ground.

“Victoria, Victoria,” I said softly, lovingly. Her fists began to unclench. “It’s okay, now. There’s no one left to stop us.”

“Stop us?” She looked over her shoulder at me.

“No, no one can stop us. Take my hand. Let’s go someplace warm.” She turned to face me.

“Someplace warm?”

“Yes, you and me. Just the two of us.” At last, I had her full attention. “Come,” I said, holding my hand out to her expectantly. She looked at me for the longest time. I thought she was going to take my hand for a minute but she hesitated. She was confused by the way I spoke to her which gave her pause and I was sure she wasn’t buying it. My mind raced. I had to think of something else fast. Then I remembered her words to Emmett!

Victoria! Come! Now!”I commanded angrily. She walked over to me, took my hand and, to my surprise, knelt down before me and bowed her head. Holy crap! It actually worked! I’d guessed correctly that she was into the whole Dom/sub thing.

“Forgive me, Master,” she said. I was so stunned, I hesitated for a split second. In that moment, Victoria began to raise her head to look in my eyes.

Do NOT look at me!” I growled. Her head bowed back down immediately. I glanced over my shoulder at Emmett. He was sitting up holding his shoulder, blood oozing between his fingertips. He stared at Victoria, surprise written all over his face. I silently motioned for him to grab the fur and get to Bella to protect her. Just as he reached her, he stepped on a twig and it snapped. Victoria turned towards the sound with shock in her eyes. Still on her knees, she looked at me open mouthed, betrayal written in her mad green eyes.

“It’s called acting dearest. I’m quite good at it,” I sneered down at her. She was beaten and she knew it. Emmett had wrapped the fur around Bella and knelt before her with his gun trained on Victoria.

Her whole body shook with rage and, like the flip of a light switch, her eyes flashed fiercely up at me. She literally growled as she opened her mouth wide to bite me in the groin, no doubt with the intention of removing my manhood with her teeth! I jerked backwards but not quickly enough. Her shockingly sharp teeth sank deep and fierce into my upper thigh. I screamed in agony as she tore at my flesh through the tough denim and blood began to gush down my leg. I grabbed a fist full of her red hair trying to pry her loose from my thigh.

Emmett was trying to get a clear shot at her but with her face buried in my groin he would be taking a chance of shooting me.

She released her grip on my leg and jumped to her feet in one swift move. Her hands and long red nails formed into claws. She lunged at my face with fury and hatred, managing to claw my face, one nail scratching the corner of my eye.

Dodging her claws, I wrapped my hands around her throat and began choking the life out of her, all the while pushing her backwards to keep her off balance until I had backed her against the tree. This was all her fault. She’d encouraged James. She’d twisted his mind against me. She was responsible for Bella’s broken ankle, her kidnapping and her current condition. She was responsible for killing James and stabbing Emmett.

Her eyes were wide with fear, her face turning bright red as she gasped for air that would never come. Her long nails dug into my hands, piercing the skin in deep, half-moon cuts as blood trickled down the backs of my hands but my anger was so great I was beyond feeling pain. Her feet began to give way beneath her and she slid slowly down the tree, her resistance growing weaker and weaker by the moment.

“Edward…”

Bella’s voice. It was weak but I heard her. I glanced in her direction.

“Edward, don’t do it. She isn’t worth it,” she said, holding her hand out to me. My grip around Victoria’s throat loosened as Emmett approached and handcuffed her. She crumpled to the ground coughing and sputtering. I turned from her disgusting sight and never looked back.

AN: Boy! Victoria was a psycho bitch wasn’t she? hehehe One more to go and we will hit the Complete button! Stay tuned till tomorrow! Reviews are deeply appreciated! XOXO

Waiting in the Twilight chapter 25

image2

AN: To all my readers who seem disappointed in this story due to the dramatic change it has taken,  I had originally marked it as Romance / Drama. However, so many of you found it amusing you asked that the genre be changed so it could be rec’d or nominated for other things. I changed it. Now some of you seem upset that it has made a turn for the dramatic. If I could choose the genre it would be Romance, Humor and Drama. I do promise a HEA and no James did not rape her.

Waiting in the Twilight

Waiting in the Twilight

Chapter 25

JakePOV

 

First class jerk? Yeah, that’s me! I admitted to myself as I shifted into fourth gear, stomped the gas pedal to the floor and hit fifth. I’d been so pissed off when I left Bella’s yesterday, I couldn’t see straight. I mean, come on! How humiliating had it been to have reported her missing to the cops only to find out she’d been in LA and on national TV the whole time? Excruciating, that’s what! On top of all that, her new bodyguards hand me my ass…twice? Well, pride got the better of me and I lost my temper. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I’d listened to her. She probably hates me right now and it’s all my fault. God, I fucked up!

Once I’d gotten home, I’d replayed our argument over and over in my head until I’d felt sick to my stomach for saying what I’d said to her. The only way to make sense out of this mess was to get concrete answers, so I’d fired up my computer to research the entire contest ordeal. Thank God for Google because all I’d done was type “Bella Swan” in the search bar and thousands of links appeared. I knew in passing that the Twilight Saga was a big deal to some people, I just hadn’t realized how big until I’d typed “Twilight” and “Edward Cullen” and the search results had gone into the billions!

It had taken some fiddling to refine my search parameters enough to narrow down the links. Unfortunately, the more I’d discovered, the smaller I felt. Everything she’d told me was true. Bells had always wanted to be a writer and her life’s dream was to be published. Obviously, this contest had offered exactly the chance she’d been waiting for. I’d even discovered the book deal she’d landed was for four books instead of just one. She would’ve been soaring for days over that. Not only had she met quite a few movie stars, including Cullen, her absolute favorite, but she’d participated in book signings, TV show appearances and interviews up to her eyeballs! Poor kid must’ve been exhausted.

Finally, I’d come across the video showing how Bells had gotten hurt and watched it a couple of times. Cullen really had done everything he could to protect her but, in all the chaos, that photographer dude had snuck in and caused her accident. Too bad Cullen hadn’t popped him one in the face for that stunt.

So, yeah, I could see how she might’ve forgotten to call. At any rate, I was headed back to her place now to apologize for the things I’d said, congratulate her for winning her dream job, and hopefully find out how serious she was about Cullen.

When I finally pulled into her driveway, there was no one outside, which I found strange. I’ll admit I didn’t know much about all this Hollywood stuff and I sure as hell didn’t know much about bodyguards and their protocol but it seemed to me that, if they were protecting Bella from paparazzi, they should at least be outside guarding her front door. Knowing how tenderhearted she could be, I figured she’d forced them inside and tucked them in with eiderdown quilts! This, I had to see!

I climbed out of my truck and walked straight up to the door. Normally, I’d just walk in without knocking…I always had before, with no complaints from Bella. However, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. I knocked and waited…nothing. I knocked again and waited. Damn it! This was pissing me off! One minute everything was fine and the next everything had changed and, for some reason, I had the feeling it was all Cullen’s fault. Was I worried there might be more than friendship between him and Bella? Hell, yes! She was mine! I was perfectly right for her and I’d be damned if I let him steal her away from me!

I took my chances and turned the knob with every intention of announcing myself as soon as I opened the door, but it was locked! What the fuck? Bella never locked her doors, although I was always on her case about it. I pounded on the door with my fist.

“Bells! Open up! It’s me, Jake!”

No answer. Her truck was still in the driveway along with the bodyguards’ big-ass SUV. Why wasn’t anyone answering me? The hair on the back of my neck prickled and I suddenly got the feeling something wasn’t right. Stepping aside to peek through the windows, my heart plummeted into my stomach and bounced back up into my throat so fast I thought I’d choke on it. Her coffee table and living room chair were knocked over, the dining room chairs were overturned and the lamps lay broken on the floor. I raced back to the front door. Bodyguards, my ass! They were probably the ones responsible for this!

“Bellaaaa!” I slammed my shoulder into the front door but it wouldn’t budge so I reared back and kicked it near the door knob repeatedly until the frame splintered and the door crashed open. I ran through the house searching for her, screaming her name every few seconds. I didn’t know what I feared most…finding her lifeless body somewhere, or not finding her at all. My heart froze in my chest when I saw blood on the kitchen floor as I made my way back into the dining room. Where the hell was she? What had happened to her? Was she alive or dead?

All these signs of a struggle made my blood turn to ice water when I suddenly realized I was in  the middle of a crime scene. Clutching my head with both my hands, I silently screamed, Noooo!

Before I completely freaked out to the point of losing my mind, I made my way carefully back outside, yanked out my cell phone and called the police.

 

EPOV

No sooner had we landed at the small airfield and piled into the rental car than Emmett’s cell phone rang. It was Embry, one of the other bodyguards. We listened on speaker as he reported how he and Quil had been unable to reach Sam and that, when they’d arrived at Bella’s home, the police were just pulling up. Apparently, her friend Jake had found the inside of her house trashed, called the cops and reported her missing…again. Although Embry and Quil were quickly cleared of any wrongdoing, the cops now suspected Sam and Seth of kidnapping Bella, or worse, since they were nowhere to be found. Embry insisted their reasoning was ridiculous since neither Sam nor Seth had a motive, plus Sam’s SUV was still in the driveway.

With this information hanging heavy in the air, the hour drive to Bella’s seemed to take an eternity even though Emmett drove as fast as he could.  Jasper had long since given up trying to calm me down or comfort me. Not because he didn’t care but because he knew I was beyond consolation.

By the time we were within sight of Bella’s house, my heart felt like it was being ripped from my chest. Police cars dotted her driveway, along with Sam’s SUV and a monster truck I assumed belonged to Jake.

Before Emmett even brought the car to a complete stop, I jumped out and ran to the front door. At the last second, I remembered to knock so the cops wouldn’t blow my head off. The door was opened by a tall, dark, muscular man about my age and height…who punched me right in the face.

Chaos ensued as Emmett grabbed the man by the throat, slammed him against the foyer wall and pulled his gun. Two detectives started screaming at Emmett, brandishing their guns at all three of us. It was a Mexican stand-off  with everyone yelling at the others to drop their weapons. Embry and Quil tried to explain but all the shouting drowned them out. Finally, the detective in charge recognized me and Emmett from pictures he’d seen on his daughter’s walls and computer and realized Emmett was just doing his job of protecting me. I silently thanked my lucky stars for fangirls of all ages and patient, observant fathers everywhere.

Turned out the dark haired man with the wicked right was Jake, Bella’s friend. He wasn’t a bit happy about me being here or in Bella’s life at all. He blamed me for this whole mess and I couldn’t defend myself because he was right. If I’d never commented that day on MEoW, if I’d never started talking to her on EA, Bella would be safe right now. As it was, she was missing, probably kidnapped, maybe even dead, and it was all my fault. I should’ve kept her safe and I didn’t. Just like in my dreams, I’d failed her.

Eight grown men in Bella’s tiny cottage home was claustrophobic, especially with tempers flaring and anxieties running high. We stood practically toe-to-toe in the living room answering their questions and attempting to ask our own. They told us the forensic team had come and gone, having gathered all the evidence, samples, photos and fingerprints they could find, which wasn’t much. One detective pulled Emmett aside to ask about his security procedures while the other questioned Embry on the time of his arrival and how he’d discovered Seth and Sam weren’t on duty. As morning turned to late afternoon, we were all exhausted from going over the same stories again and again. This was getting us nowhere fast. Why weren’t they already out searching for her? They should be doing something besides wasting precious time better spent finding my Bella.

Seemed to me like they were grasping at straws by the time they got around to asking me why I’d been trying to reach her and why I’d made Emmett call to check on Seth and Sam. With no other obvious suspects, they seemed determined to blame these two bodyguards for Bella’s disappearance, but I just wasn’t buying it. It wasn’t until they started asking intrusive questions about all of our online conversations and text messages that I reached the limit of my patience and damn near lost my temper. I’d just opened my mouth to go all caveman on them when the front door burst open.

“B…Bella? Bella, w…where are you? Are you alr…right?” Sam yelled as he stumbled in the front door and collapsed. One side of his cheek was a deep, dark red, looking somewhat like a blister or burn, possibly from the cold. Dried blood marked the left side of his neck, along with two puncture wounds that looked oddly enough like a vampire bite. Fresh blood drooled from a head injury on the right side of his head at the hairline. Emmett was the first to reach him.

“What happened, man? Where’re Bella and Seth?”

“Th..they aren’t h…here?” he asked. The look on his face said it had been his worst fear now become a reality. I knew that look. It was exactly how I felt.

“No. Both are missing. The place was trashed. What happened?”

“I…I don’t know,” Sam chattered, shivering from the cold. “I was at my p…post, near the front door. Em…bry and Quil had just left. A few minutes later, I h…heard a noise. Then I saw a f…figure approaching…in the darkness. No car, just someone walking up into th…the yard. I drew my g…gun at the same moment I real…ized it was a ffe…male. I thought it was a rep…porter or a friend of Bella’s. I asked her to…to state her business and sh…she giggled. Nnn…ext thing I knew I ffff…felt like I was bb…being electrocuted. The bb…itch tasered me. I heard fff…footsteps, more than just hers, and then my head exploded in pain and everything w…went black. I woke up in the w…woods, behind the house. I didn’t know where I was. I’ve been wanddd…dering around back there for a couple hours trying to f…find my way back.” Emmett removed his coat and put it around Sam’s shoulder.

“What about Seth? Where’s your radio? Your gun? Your cell?” Emmett questioned him. Though it was never said out loud, Seth was like the security team’s baby brother. He was well equipped to do his job, but  he was the smallest member of the team. His lovable nature and boyish face in the group of much larger, stern faced men earned him the baby brother status.

“Ggg…gone. It was the first thing I trii…ied, sir. I had hoped Sss…Seth would have gotten Bella to safety.”

“Chances are, whatever happened to you probably happened to him, too.” Emmett stated.

“Call an ambulance,” Jasper said to Quil.

“No! I’ll be alright. I w…want to help if I can.” Sam insisted. With considerable effort on his part, Sam made it to his feet. “I c…can’t tell you much, but I can help look for Seth. He m…may be our only clue to f…finding Bella.”

“Look here, son. I’ll get some of my officers out here to look for your friend and Miss Swan. The last thing I need is a bunch of rookies out there destroying evidence,” the detective in charge said.

Emmett wasn’t used to being told what to do when he had always been the one in control. Now, when it mattered most, I could tell he felt restrained and useless. I watched him storm out the back door to get some fresh air and regroup his thoughts, which didn’t take long.

“Detective! Get out here now. Seth may not have enough time to wait for your search party!” he yelled.

We all headed for the backyard where Emmett stood pointing at three different sets of footprints in the snow. One set ended and was replaced by blood…a lot of blood. Everyone assumed it was Seth’s, but I couldn’t help fearing they were wrong and that the blood belonged to Bella.

“That’s some fabulous forensics and investigative work you’ve done here, detective! Ever hear of looking for evidence? Taking a footprint mold? Taking samples of blood? Of  following a trail of blood?” Emmett yelled as he glared at the detective who was obviously seeing the footprints and blood for the first time. “Did you even bother to look outside the house? Never mind! It’s obvious you haven’t!”

The chagrined detective had been so positive this was the work of Seth and Sam, he’d botched the entire investigation and overlooked vital evidence.

With Emmett leading the way, we charged into the woods behind Bella’s house. Every step wound my nerves tighter and tighter. Every crunch of our footsteps in the snow squeezed my heart like a vice, terrified of what we would find and afraid not to find it. It didn’t take long before we discovered the body. I hadn’t known it was possible to feel such relief and even greater fear in the same instant. Seth lay unconscious, half buried in snow. From the deep purple coloration on one side of his face, I assumed he was suffering from hypothermia. His head was split open and he’d lost what appeared to be an impossible amount of blood which had pooled in the snow around his head like a halo.

One look at Seth had the detective calling for an ambulance, but Emmett knew Seth wouldn’t last much longer in the cold so he picked up the slightly built bodyguard and began the journey back to the house. Halfway there, Seth groaned and woke up for a moment.

“Don’t worry, dude. Help’s on the way,” Emmett told him. Though he showed no visible signs of it, I could tell how hard it was for him to hold Seth in his arms while he bled to death.

“Pap…Hunter…got Bella…in the woods…” Seth whispered with all the strength he had left in his body before losing consciousness again. I knew too that Seth holding on long enough to tell Emmett what happened filled Emmett with pride.

“Hunter? He’s out of jail? How?” I demanded.

“I don’t know. His bail was set at half a mill! Dude didn’t look like he had a pot to piss in. Jasper?”

“I’m on it, brother,” Jasper said calmly.  He whipped out his cell phone and started punching buttons. Someday I was going to have to ask these two just what kind of connections they had that I didn’t know about.

Jasper was still on the phone when the ambulance arrived to take Seth to the hospital. He didn’t wake up again and the paramedics told Emmett we’d found him just in time, that at least he had a chance now. I’d overheard them call in Seth’s injuries as mild hypothermia, head trauma and extreme blood loss. Just as they were passing through the front door with Seth on the stretcher, I heard one of them yell, “He’s going into shock.” So much for their positive diagnosis.

Shortly after the ambulance left, the search party arrived…all of 4 officers! But, with the police, Emmett, Jasper, Embry, Quil and myself, it gave us 11 men, which I wasn’t sure would be enough.  Too bad we had to force Sam to accompany Seth to the hospital for treatment himself. He would have been a huge help as I knew him to be an uncanny outdoorsman.

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, the story had been picked up by a couple of local radio and television stations and the media circus I’d long feared was becoming a reality. It got so bad that the extra officers who’d been called in for the search party had to be sent outside to help control the crowd. Once this went national, all hell would break loose but I couldn’t worry about that now.  Unfortunately, that meant only the two bodyguards, the two detectives, Emmett and I would be searching for Bella.

I paced back and forth, anxious to get out there and find Bella. As the search party got coordinated and organized, I was left with nothing to do but wait until they were ready to start searching for her. God help the man who tried to stop me from going along with them!

Knowing my EDGe was out there in the cold woods with that insane pap gnawed at my guts. According to what we’d learned from Sam, he’d taken her around 10 PM last night. It was nearly evening now, just getting dark…twilight. How ironic that Bella was out there waiting in the twilight to be rescued just as I’d been waiting in the Twilight films for her to rescue me.

She’d been out there with him all night and all day. Would she be suffering from hypothermia, too? Had she been dressed when he took her? Was she in pain? Did she have her medication? Would he even let her take any if she needed it? Had she had any food or drink all day? Had he hurt her? Killed her? Raped her? God! I was losing my mind thinking of all the possibilities. I sat down on Bella’s sofa and put my head in my hands. What would I do without her? How would I live without her? She was everything to me. No! No, I wouldn’t allow myself to think about life without her! We’d get her back! I had to believe that.

I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and reached for it out of habit. It was a text message from…Bella! A photo was attached which took a moment to download. What I saw on the screen when it finally opened stopped my heart cold. Bella was lying on a wooden floor with her hands tied to a beam above her head with some type of electrical cord. She had a black eye with a nasty cut beneath it and dried blood caking her face. I couldn’t tell if she was knocked out or…or worse. A dirty, terry cloth robe barely covered the black silk negligee she wore, which was torn all along the hem. Her exposed legs were filthy, the cast gone. Both of her bare feet were blue from the cold, I assumed, but her fractured right foot looked deep purple and incredibly swollen. The sight of my EDGe in that condition filled me with such rage and fear for her.

Beneath the photo, a text message read:

Straight out the back door. About a mile into the woods. Old grist mill. Come alone if you ever want to see her alive again.

Fuck! I stole a glance around the room. Jasper was still in a corner talking on the phone, trying to get information on Hunter, his location, and how he’d gotten bailed out of jail. I had a hunch I knew exactly where Hunter was. Despite the fact that the detective had jurisdiction and commanding authority, Emmett had taken control of the entire situation. The detective, having already botched several key points into this investigation, stepped back and allowed Emmett to do his job. Em was ordering everyone around and showing them pictures of Bella and Hunter, explaining to the rescue team that Bella was injured, unable to run and that Hunter had weapons and was considered dangerous. He explained where Sam and Seth had been found and ordered the search party to spread out several yards beyond this point.

With everyone distracted and not paying any attention, I stuck my phone in my denim jacket pocket and made my way silently to the back door. Without a word to anyone, I slipped out quietly and disappeared into the night.

JasperPOV

As soon as I learned Hunter had been bailed out of jail, I started calling in favors with a friend of mine, Mike Newton. His father was LA’s Chief of Police. Luckily for us, LA was five hours behind Indiana which meant Chief Newton was still on duty. It wasn’t long before we were on a three-way call.

Based on the events at the LA premiere and the fact that we had Seth as an eyewitness placing Hunter at the scene of Bella’s home during her purported kidnapping, the Chief agreed to help us. He told me that a woman named Victoria Sutherland had posted Hunter’s bail. At my suggestion, he agreed to send officers over to Hunter’s address to verify whether or not he was at home. As nearby officers responded to the Chief’s orders, we waited to hear back from them. In the meantime, Chief Newton took it upon himself to look up Hunter’s arrest record. All in all, it wasn’t a bit surprising:  petty theft, assault, strong armed robbery, drugs, B&E, trespassing, public intox, DUI. His arrest record had begun at 15 years old.

A few moments later, Chief Newton got the report that Hunter was not at home. In fact, all they’d found was a sink full of his dirty hair, a pair of scissors in the sink, an old dirty cot and a room full of overturned chemicals and trays.  What had at one time been a dark room for film developing had been completely trashed. His clothes, if he’d had any, were gone. The apartment he’d called home was a real shit hole.

Although he balked at first, I convinced the Chief  to look into Victoria Sutherland’s background and tell me if he found anything suspicious. At first, he wasn’t willing to tell me anything, but then he stumbled onto some very  interesting information.

Apparently Sutherland’s parents had died together under mysterious circumstances. How and what those circumstances were, he wouldn’t say but it left Miss Sutherland sole heir to a well known perfume empire. She was worth millions and lived in a mansion in Bel Air. Then he’d discovered something that made him send the officers out to her home. He wouldn’t tell me what he’d found but asked me to stay on the line until the officers had time to check her out. I waited for what seemed like an eternity, answering questions about Edward and Bella and what had actually gone down at the premiere.

I wasn’t prepared for what Chief Newton’s men had discovered.

EPOV

I’d finally reached the old mill only to discover there was no one here. The cuff from Twilight I’d given to Bella was lying on the step at the entrance to the mill, proof that she’d been here. I’d tried to call the son-of-bitch multiple times but he refused to answer Bella’s phone. Now that I was here, I tried again. He picked up on the first ring.

“About time Cullen. I don’t like to be kept waiting.”

“Where are you and where’s Bella?”

“Straight ahead, about two miles…”

“Fuck you! I want to talk to Bella!”

“Temper, temper Cullen. You don’t want to piss me off. You won’t like me when I’m angry.”

“I don’t like you now so fuck off! I’m not going anywhere until I get to talk to B…” I cut myself off when I heard Bella’s pain-filled screams through my phone.

“BELLA! Bella?”

“Edward don’t listen! Run!” Bella cried despite the pain. Her voice was instantly muffled but I could still hear her screams as he inflicted more pain on her for her defiance.

“Bella! NO! I swear to God if you touch her again I’m going to rip your head off and shove it up your ass!”

“Listen, you little prick. I’m not one of your flunkies following you around with a pooper scooper cleaning up all of your messes.  I’m in charge here and don’t you forget it! If you want to see this bitch alive then shut the fuck up and do as you’re told! Straight ahead, two miles. Move!” he yelled and then, as though someone had flipped a personality switch in his head, he became the epitome of a kind English gentleman when he added, “And Cullen, do try to hurry, won’t you? I’m getting bored with your girlfriend.”

I put the phone away and took off running, Bella’s screams reverberating in my mind with every step I took. I ran and ran as fast as I could trying to stay in somewhat of a straight line. I could no longer see the huge old mill but I saw nothing in front of me either. How was I to know if I’d passed them by or still had a way to go yet? It’s not like I had a pedometer on me. Traveling in the cold at night through a dense wooded area was difficult at best. My lungs ached from breathing in the frigid night air and felt as though they would explode. My hands were so cold they felt stiff and ached as well. My cheeks, ears and nose were beyond cold. I stopped for a moment to catch my breath and get my bearings. It was so utterly dark here. Late November and all the trees had lost their foliage giving the dense wooded area an eerie graveyard feeling. I looked up at the moon and saw a dark cloud pass over it before it came into full view. The feeling of déjà vu swept over me with such power I literally fell to my knees from the dizziness that accompanied it. That was the moment I first noticed the thick, knee high fog swirling about my legs. This was the dream! The shared mutual dream Bella and I had been having from the moment we’d met online. I knew where I was and where I had to go!

EmPOV

The lead detective was so certain Sam and Seth had been involved in Bella’s disappearance he hadn’t followed through with his training. He hadn’t secured the property and scoured every inch of it for clues, fingerprints and evidence. The moment he’d allowed Jake, Embry and Quil in the front door, the crime scene had been compromised. Any clues Hunter had been here were no longer admissible in court.

Despite all the screw-ups the “detective” and his “team” had made, we were finally ready to start looking for Bella. Even though our small team of 6, including myself and Edward, couldn’t cover a lot of ground, and searching in the dark would make the task more difficult, I wouldn’t stop until we found her. Jasper was going to stay here and see what he could dig up on that pap.

“Edward! We’re ready to go. Stay close to me. We don’t know what this creep is capable of or what his plans might be,” I yelled. Edward was out of his mind with worry but I hadn’t had time to console him. The best thing I could do for him would be to get Bella back as soon as possible.

“Edward! We’re ready!” I said, glancing over my shoulder. He wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere. “Jasper, have you seen Edward?”

“I thought he was mobilizing with you?” Jasper said, looking around the room.

“Awww fuck! He’s gone after Bella alone!”

 

JasperPOV

Chief Newton had sent two officers over to Victoria Sutherland’s mansion in Bel Air based on some disturbing evidence he’d found in her file.

Apparently, the last three times James Hunter had been let out of jail, it had been Victoria who’d posted his bail. The fact that she’d forked out half a million dollars without blinking to free him said a lot about their relationship.

Then there had been her parents’ mysterious death, the true cause of which had never been determined.

Adding to their growing list of concerns was Miss Sutherland’s history of mental illness. Exactly what that entailed was protected by doctor/patient confidentiality.

The officers had arrived at the Sutherland mansion only to find the huge, wrought iron gate at the front of the driveway standing wide open, something that just didn’t happen in Bel Air. They’d made their way cautiously to the front door, but nothing had seemed obviously out of place. No one answered the doorbell, not even any of the house staff. On a hunch, one of the officers had given the door a push and it had opened. Suspecting something might have happened to the heiress, the officers had entered her mansion and searched everywhere for her. All the lights had been left on in most of the rooms implying she’d left, or been taken, while it was still dark outside some time yesterday. They searched the entire property and, other than the lights being on and her property unsecured, there was no reason to believe she’d met with foul play. The Chief seemed to think, and I agreed with him, that James and Victoria were more than likely together. If Seth had indeed seen James taking Bella into the woods, Victoria was probably in on it.

On their way out, the officers had turned off the lights one-by-one until they came to the last remaining light near the front door. As they turned to leave, a glow from under the baseboard of a large, empty wall caught their attention, implying a secret room behind it. With extreme caution, they approached the wall and searched for a way in.

Once they’d found it, the inside of the secret room both shocked and appalled them. The officers had immediately begun taking cell phone pictures and forwarding them to the Chief who, in turn, forwarded them to me as an idea of what we might be dealing with if Victoria was in fact with James. With each new photo, my stomach lurched as if I was going to vomit. I’d been worried for Bella when we couldn’t reach her by phone or internet. I’d been horrified when we’d arrived and discovered her, Seth and Sam gone. When Seth told us James Hunter had Bella in the woods, my fears for her safety had become nearly too much to contemplate. But, after seeing these pictures, and knowing Edward had gone after her alone, cold dread had me by the throat and I knew Bella would soon be dead if we didn’t find her quickly, and Edward…

EPOV

Now I know what it feels like to be hunting something evil only to be stalked by it in return.

Bella is close but I can’t see our tree. Everything is deadly silent and void of color like an old black and white vampire movie. Gnarled tree branches and roots protrude from the ground. I’ve tripped over them many times already. The pale moonlight casts eerie shadows, making the tree limbs seem like skeletal monsters reaching out to grab me.

Hoping Hunter will think I’m someone else and perhaps give away his position, I call out to Bella so she’ll know I’m coming to save her.

“EDGe! EDGe where are you?”

Just as in the dream, I hear a wet rustling noise and a quiet muffled whimper, a sound that comes from Bella. In my heart, I know she isn’t being gagged or muffled; she’s trying not to cry out. I understand it now. She’s stifling her cries of pain to keep me from finding her. Through all this horror she’s been enduring, even in such panic and fear for her own life, she’s trying to protect me!

Sound carries far out here in the dense woods and I distinctly hear maniacal male laughter reverberating and bouncing among the trees, making it impossible to tell where it comes from. Just as the laughter dies, I hear Bella’s softer, choked sob and know which direction I need to go. I take off running as fast as my legs will carry me, stumbling and tripping over roots and vines hidden beneath the ghostly white mist. She sounds so frightened and it’s killing me knowing that her fear is more for me than for herself.

“EDGe!”

I try to remember what comes next in the dream as I run, sucking the cold night air into my raw, aching lungs. Then, way off in the distance on a gently sloping hill, I can just make out the silhouette of our tree.

EDWARD AND BELLA'S DREAM TREE2

In the happier dream, it was a lovely tree but in this dream, in this reality, it’s a gnarled, twisted, nasty thing that fills me with horror for I know beyond that tree I lose her. Not this time! I tell myself.

I look to the base of the tree dreading what comes next…Bella being dragged along the ground. Now I understand why. In this reality, her ankle is broken, lying at an odd angle. Both her feet are filthy but their deep blue color is obviously from being outside in the cold and snow, barefoot for more than a day. How she was even conscience and bearing such pain, I have no idea. What I do know is that I was going to make him pay for every moment and every injury he had inflicted upon her.

“EDGe!” The tree is still so far away. Hang on baby I’m coming! The thought is in my head yet I hear horror in her voice when she seems to reply.

“Edward?”

I’m out of breath, gasping for air. I’m almost there. Bella knows I’m near. I see her small hands grasping the tree. She clings so tightly, her knuckles white despite the blue color of her hands.

“EDGe!” I lunge for her hand.

“Edward! NNOOOoooo!!” she screams as she’s forcefully ripped away from the tree, her arms scraping against the rough bark tearing her delicate white skin.

“You bastard!” I scream, lunging to my feet and dashing around the tree. There’s a small clearing here on top of a small hill. The fog doesn’t quite reach it but encircles the mound like a deathly mist around an arena. Bella is lying against the broken tree looking broken herself. Her black silk nightgown is twisted around her legs, her robe bunched up around her chest. She shivers uncontrollably. Her lips are blue and her face is extremely pale. There are bits of dirt, wet leaves and tiny twigs tangled in her hair. Her hands are no longer bound but I can clearly see where they’d been. It looked like she’d been tied up with barbed wire, for God’s sake! Seriously infected cuts surrounded both wrists and dried caked blood covered her arms. She was filthy from head to toe. Her foot is definitely broken. How long had that asshole been dragging her around out here? I took my jacket off and wrapped it around her.

“It’s alright baby, I’ve got you. I’m here.”

“No, no,” she whimpered, weakly shaking her head. “You ssssh…ouldn’t have come. You mmmm…ust leave. It’s you they www…ant! Thhh…ey want tttt…to hurt you. Rrrr…run Dddda..rlin, rrr…ru…n!”

“They?”

“Yes…they,” I heard James say at the same moment the barrel of a gun was pressed against my forehead. He shoved the gun hard into my flesh letting me know he wanted me to back away from Bella. That was fine with me. The farther I could get him away from Bella, the happier I’d be.

“Edward, dearest!” The feminine voice coming out of the darkness was that of a little girl. It made me think curly blond hair and pink bubblegum. I turned to see a striking woman step out from behind a gnarled old tree. She was wrapped in a calf-length white fur coat with knee high suede boots that tied up the front. Her fire-red hair was a wild tangle, in sharp contrast against her pale white skin and piercing bright green eyes. I would have thought her beautiful until I saw her eyes. They were full of madness.

“I’m so glad you could make it!” she exclaimed as if I was merely late to a dinner party rather than fighting for Bella’s life in the middle of the night.Walking straight up to me, she kissed me on the cheek and draped herself against my chest like she belonged by my side.

“You’re a very bad boy for making me wait for so long,” she purred.

Chapter 24

Waiting in the Twilight

Ch 24

BPOV

I opened the French doors to let the other bodyguard inside but, to my horror, I realized too late that it wasn’t a bodyguard at all. It was James Hunter, that pap who’d verbally attacked Edward and me at the premiere and caused my accident. I recognized him immediately despite the fact that he’d cut off his long, dirty hair.

I tried to shut the doors and lock him out but he shoved them open so hard it slammed me backwards into the dining room table. I toppled over the chairs and crawled to the wicker chair in the living room. Using it for leverage, I was almost on my feet when James kicked the chair out from under me. I went sprawling onto my back, looking up at him completely petrified. He grabbed the floor lamp near the couch and yanked it out of the wall, jerked the cord out of the lamp and tossed the lamp aside. Asshole! I paid 90 bucks for that lamp! I watched in disbelief as he twisted the cord around his gloved hands as if he was planning to strangle me. His eyes never left my face as he grinned down at me.

“What do you want?” I demanded, using my uninjured leg to propel myself away from him. “What happened to the real bodyguards?” I cried, trying to distract him. “Where are Seth and Sam? What have you done to them?” He snickered! The son-of-a-bitch actually snickered! Were they dead? Was I next? No! I wouldn’t accept that! How was I going to get out of this? How had he found me? I thought he was in jail!

Using the coffee table, I managed to right myself and was backing away from James when he lifted the coffee table with one hand and tossed it out of his way. I managed to get a few feet between us when Victoria shoved me forward into James. He caught me by the shoulders and my heart slammed into my throat! My only thought was Edward! I just wanted one last moment to tell him I loved him. James looked at me and I saw nothing but blankness in his eyes. They were as cold and hard as steel. Staring into them, I knew my only chance of ever seeing Edward again was to fight and fight hard! I did the only thing I could think of…I kneed him in the groin as hard as I could with my injured leg. It hurt like hell but I knew that leg wouldn’t support my weight while I kneed him with my good leg. Still, it doubled him over and Victoria rushed to his side as I hobbled to the kitchen. I grabbed a knife from the butcher block and reached for the phone in the pocket of my robe. Before I could flip it open and dial 911, both Victoria and James were blocking my exit from the kitchen.

They spoke not a word! No threats, no screaming, no violent intimidations. It went against everything I’d ever heard or read about criminals and it was freaking me the fuck out. If they would speak, threaten, scream, yell…anything, I could get angry. Their words would fuel that anger and help me find the strength to fight them. As it was, all I felt was incredible fear. After all he’d had to say at the premiere, why wasn’t he talking now? I could fight back if I knew what they wanted. Their silence filled me with dread.

“Don’t you come any closer or I swear I’ll kill you if I have to!” I screamed in panic. I waved the knife at them to prove my point. They weren’t frightened at all. Victoria actually covered her mouth and giggled like a little school girl. James began unwinding the lamp cord from around his hand.

“Fuck you! Fuck you both!” I yelled and dialed the police. The two of them were so cocky about being here, doing whatever it was they were attempting to do. They seemed to think they were unstoppable. It was disturbing as hell.

With more speed and strength than I would have thought possible, James flicked the cord from the lamp at me like a horse whip, striking me in the cheek with the plug. It hit with such force, it knocked be backwards into the counter and split my cheek wide open. I grabbed at my face, fearing he’d popped my eye out of the socket. The pain was so vicious, the knife and my phone clattered to the ground as blood oozed between my fingertips and blurred my vision. The last thing I remember is having a cloth held to my face that felt cold and smelled sickeningly sweet. If I wasn’t so terrified, I’d be glad the pain was going away.

EPOV

Darkness. All encompassing.

Cold. Bitter and biting. My tux isn’t heavy enough to provide any protection from the numbing cold.

Despair. It hangs over me like a shroud.

Escape. It’s all I want to do but I can’t turn back.

A sound catches my attention and I listen intently. I’m not alone. An evil, unseen presence lurks in the darkness. It hides behind the gnarled tree trunks, creeping through the obsidian night waiting, so patiently waiting, for its chance to attack. Am I hunting for it, or is it stalking me?

This all seems so familiar and yet so foreign. I look towards the night sky searching for the moon to guide me, the one constant I know I can depend on. Black clouds inch slowly across the face of the pallid full moon vaguely illuminating the forest surrounding me. I know this place. It haunts my soul. This place withholds from me the one thing I need most in my life. She’s lost here in this malicious darkness. The light shining down from the moon gives no comfort. It casts eerie shadows making the darkness within them more sinister. It allows me to see the gaunt and gnarled trees, their roots crawling across the ground determined to ensnare me and stop my progress. The stench of dirt and wet wood assaults my senses. A thick fog swirls at my knees and I know I should get away from it but I can’t run because it’s everywhere. There’s no escape. I feel a multitude of sinister eyes watching me through the skeletal branches of the trees, waiting and watching oh, so patiently.

The cold is so intense, I can’t discern if I shiver from that or from the unnatural feeling that I’m being watched by something truly evil.

I need to get out of here, back to the warmth of my beloved…EDGe. She’s why I’ve come. She’s here, too. Despite the bitter cold and darkness, I must find her. I will not leave her here to succumb to the shadows. Everything is deathly quiet. The trees stand like statues in a mausoleum. Fear fills me with the thought that I am indeed among the dead or dying.

I see movement in the darkness ahead. Thinking that it might be my EDGe, I run towards it. The sound is wet, like something being drawn through damp leaves.

“EDGe?” I call her name, silently praying for a response. I search frantically for a sign of my love but only the eerie darkness greets me. “EDGe!” I cry and then listen. At last, a faint and feminine whimper. The sound is so sorrowful, so filled with dismay and pain, that it hurts me to hear it. It sounds as if she’s trying not to cry out, covering her mouth, yet the sorrow in her heart is so deep, it will not be silenced.

“EDGe! Where are you?” I plead. I’m greeted with dark laughter from a multitude of voices echoing back at me mockingly. The laughter surrounds me, making it impossible to determine from which direction it comes. I hear another choked sob and, as my heart slams into my chest in terror, I run towards the sound of my EDGe. I fear for her safety and tear through the dark forest as fast as my legs can carry me, tripping and stumbling over the brambles, roots and vines that hide beneath the ghostly white fog of the forest floor. The intense cold rips down my throat and feels as though it will tear my lungs apart.

“EDGe!!” The desperate sound of my own voice echoes back at me in a hollow scream. I stop to listen again and, just up ahead, I can see her bare feet lying on the ground. They’re blue and one is deeply bruised, swollen, and twisted at an odd angle. It’s only from the cold, I tell myself. Dear God, I hope it’s only from the cold. She’s not walking; she’s being dragged along by something I can’t see. She’s struggling, barely able to resist in her weakened condition. I don’t know how I know she has no strength left, but I know. I can feel her giving up to the darkness and terror for her fills my soul.

“EDGe!” I scream her name and tear through the forest, catching just a glimpse of her feet as they disappear behind a gnarled old tree. But it’s so far away! I’m coming baby, hold on! The thought is in my head, yet I hear her weak and frightened reply.

“Edward?”

She sounds so small and frail. Her voice is not playful and light as it has always been. She sounds afraid.

“EDGe!” I’m out of breath and feeling panicked. “Where are you?” I whisper. I look around and, in the encroaching darkness, things begin to look familiar. I turn to where our tree is supposed to be. There! I can just barely see the deepest part of the V against the cold, black night. I begin to run towards it, but the damp and heavy tuxedo drags at my limbs.

“EDWARD!” I hear her frenzied cry in the night and charge through the darkness.

“EDGe!” I scream in desperation. The sound echoes back to me in a condescending tone, as though the mist had become a living entity with the intelligence to torment me.

“EDGe! EDGe! EDGe!” I hear deep, dark laughter that sounds like evil leaking from the very bark on the trees.

I’m nearly to our tree. I can see her small, delicate hands clinging to the trunk. Her slender fingers clutch the spot where she usually reaches out to me. She grips the tree so tightly, her knuckles are white. She’s just a few feet away. I lunge through the blackness, though it seems the cold, the protruding roots, and the swirling fog are all sentient beings intent on stopping me. I will not be hindered. I will save her!

“Hold on, baby! I’m here!” I yell.

“Edward? NNNNOoooooo!!!!” she screams, and I see her forearms and hands scrape across the bark of the tree, leaving her blood behind. I lunge to grab her hand but she’s gone…she’s just gone.

“Oh, God! NO! EEDDDGGGEEE!!!!!!!”

I stumble and fall to the ground, disappearing beneath the white mist. I can just make out my hand on the forest floor as a drop of her blood falls onto it.

I woke to the sound of my own animalistic screams of intense anguish and pain. My head was at the foot of my bed as though I’d lunged across it in my sleep. My hand outstretched grasped thin air. I’d failed her again.

EPOV

I’d only slept for an hour and a half before the nightmare woke me up. There was no point in trying to go back to sleep now, since I had a plane to catch to Madrid in a little over an hour. Grabbing my cell off the nightstand, I saw that Bella hadn’t called or sent a text. I opened my laptop and logged onto EA but there was no message there either, even though it said she was still on-line.

EC: EDGe I’m here Love but not for long. Are you ok?

EC: Talk to me please! At least let me know you’re all right!

No reply. I didn’t like this…I didn’t like it at all. Every second that ticked by without hearing from her weighed heavier and heavier on my heart. It was only 11 pm for her, so she could still be sleeping and planning to get up early to talk to me at a more reasonable time for me. At least, that’s what I kept trying to convince myself for the next hour while I showered, got dressed and packed my suitcase. All the while, every fiber of my being was screaming that something was wrong.

When I got downstairs for breakfast, Alice knew right away I was stressed out about something. She wouldn’t let up until I told her about the dream and my concerns about Bella. While she sympathized and understood my fears, there was little she could do but try to keep me calm and focused on my obligations.

“I’m sure everything’s okay, Edward. She’s probably just sleeping. You said yourself the pain pills made her sleepy. C’mon, we have a plane to catch,” Alice insisted, standing up from the table to take my hand.

Although it was only a two-hour flight, lack of sleep caught up with me and I fell asleep the moment we were in the air…

* * * * * * *

“Oh, God! NO! EEEDDGGEEE!!!!!!!”

“Edward! Edward, wake up! It’s just a dream. Edward, please wake up!”

I woke up, my throat raw from screaming in my sleep yet again. I was startled to see Alice and Jasper to my left, Emmett in front of me leaning over the seat, and Dean behind me looming forward over my seat. All of them looked at me with horrified faces.

“What is it, bro?” Emmett asked, looking far more disturbed than he sounded.

“EDGe..she’s in trouble!” I rasped.

“No. It’s okay, Edward. It was just a dream,” Alice said soothingly.

“No! No, it’s not. It’s bad, Alice! The dream…I had it again, only worse this time! It was so much worse! The moon had turned to blood! It was darker in other ways, too, more sinister than ever before. Don’t ask me how I know because I can’t tell you but I do know it’s happening. Whatever it is, whatever the dream means, it’s happening right now!

“EDGe didn’t answer any of my texts or PM’s last night. I tried to call and PM her this morning and still got no answer. Emmett, get on the phone to Sam and find out what the fuck is going on!” I demanded.

“Dude, we’re 2000 feet in the air! I can’t do anything until we land,” Emmett replied incredulously. “Besides, it’s like midnight her time so she’s probably asleep.”

“I don’t care! Use the on board phone, whatever it takes! Just do it!”

I was panic-stricken. I’d never felt more trapped or useless in my life. EDGe was in trouble. I knew it in the depths of my soul and I couldn’t do anything to help her. The bad thing was I didn’t know what was wrong, only that something was. Was she sick? Had she passed out? Had she fallen and broken her ankle completely? Maybe she was lying on the floor, unable to get up and walk! Oh, God! What if she accidentally took too many pain pills!

I’d learned my lesson in the past with Alice not to shrug these things off. If I was wrong…well, that would be freaking fantastic! I hoped to God I was wrong. I hoped EDGe would wake up and answer her fucking phone and tell me I was being ridiculously overprotective and not to worry. By this time tomorrow, I hoped Emmett would be making fun of me for crying wolf over a fucking dream. But I knew it wasn’t going to go down like that.

“Just calm down and try to relax, brother,” Jasper said in his usual calm manner. Hell, I wish I could borrow some of his calm right now but I was beyond freaked out at this point.

“Fuck calm! Look, I’m not pretending I’m psychic but, damn it, the few times I’ve felt anywhere close to this certain that something was wrong, I was right! Alice almost died the last time because I didn’t react right away. This is ten times more intense! Don’t tell me to calm down! If she doesn’t answer her phone the minute we land, I want a flight to Indiana as soon as possible!”

“But Edward, you’re in the middle of a huge promo tour and…”

“Fuck the tour! Fuck Summit! Bella’s more important than anything! God! Don’t you get that?” My outburst apparently got through to them because they all stopped trying to console me and agreed to do everything I asked of them the moment we arrived.

The plane landed in Madrid 20 minutes later. I’d never had to pay attention before but now my mind scrambled to translate fucking time zones! It had been a two-hour flight but time had gone back one hour. I was now only 5 hours ahead of EDGe, which made it 7:30 Madrid time and 2:30 her time. The moment the cabin doors opened, I dialed EDGe’s number. On the fifth ring, it went to voice mail. Fuck! I switched to the internet through my cell phone and logged onto EA which said she was still on-line. I didn’t buy it for a minute, but I had to try.

EC: EDGe R U there? Answer me please! It’s an Emergency!!!

Just as I feared, there was no reply. My heart was racing, pounding in my chest so hard I was surprised everyone wasn’t able to hear it. Alice and Jasper were standing beside me waiting to see if I got an answer. Emmett was already on the phone trying to reach Sam and Seth.

“She’s not answering. It says she’s been on-line for several hours with no recent activity. Something is very wrong here. Get me a fucking flight to Shelbyville, Indiana right away. I don’t care how much it costs! Go!” I growled at Jasper. He left without word to make the arrangements. Alice wrapped her arm around me and leaned her head against my shoulder silently. I appreciated the gesture but I couldn’t stand still. I pulled away to pace back and forth while I sent EDGe another text and waited to hear if Emmett had managed to reach Sam.

“I couldn’t reach Seth or Sam. Neither of them is answering,” Emmett replied after several minutes had passed. His face was ashen white and that look alone told me he’d never failed to reach one of his men before. The overwhelming fear that something was wrong went off the charts at Emmett’s words.

“Call the other two guards and get them to EDGe’s house right away,” I told him.

“Already done, bro. They hit the road five minutes ago. Embry said that, when they left Bella’s house last night, everything was fine. She’d been sitting in the living room typing on her laptop, presumably working on her novel. Seth and Sam came in at ten till ten to relieve them. With nothing to be concerned about, Embry and Quil returned to the hotel for dinner and then went to bed. Other than the incident with her friend Jake, nothing had been out of the ordinary,” Emmett stated emphatically.

“Jasper! I need that flight NOW!” I yelled at Jasper. He was talking with a woman at the ticket counter, and I knew he was doing everything he could, but every second’s delay seemed like an hour to me. I was holding on to my sanity by a thread. Jasper finally returned with an unusual expression on his face. For a man who was the epitome of calm, the unreadable expression on his face spoke volumes.

“We have three options for getting you on a plane today, I’m just not sure you’re going to like any of them. There’s a commercial flight out today, of course, but it won’t be leaving for 6 hours. It’s about a 9 hour flight plus an additional 2 hours of driving time to Bella’s house.

“Christ! That’s almost 18 hours by the time we get on and off the plane and get moving! What are the other two options?”

“Well, we can travel faster by private plane, cutting the flying time down to 6 hours. However, the closest one available is an hour away. It’ll take 3 hours to get it here, refuel, file a flight plan, and round up a pilot. Once we hit Indiana, we’d land at small airport instead of a commercial one and that will cut the drive to Bella’s house by 1 hour. That still leaves us with 10 hours of traveling time.”

“That’s better but you said there were three options. What’s the third?”

“Well, it’s the one you may like the least. It would require some serious schmoozing on your part.”

“What the hell is it?”

“Adele. You know, that singer from the UK? She’s on tour and her next stop is Chicago. They’ve got a Cessna’s Citation X business jet, the fastest damn private plane on the market. She’s here now, ready for take-off in fifteen minutes. Use some of that lethal Cullen charm on her and we might be able to dead-head our way to Indiana. You game?”

“I’ll kiss her ass on the corner of Hollywood and Vine if she can get me to my EDGe faster than our other options!” I assured him.

Grabbing Jasper by the arm, we ran to catch up with Adele before she boarded that flight.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

BPOV

My head hurt so bad I didn’t want to open my eyes. I tried to hold my head in my hands but they wouldn’t move. I opened my eyes to figure out what was wrong but pain shot through my head like being hit with a red-hot fireplace poker. I waited a few moments and tried again, slowly. Still painful, but not quite as bad. My hands were tied to a wooden beam with a cord from something. I’m lying on an old, damp hardwood floor. This place seemed familiar to me. I looked around, but each movement of my eyes and head was pure torture. The pain in my foot was throbbing and relentless. My cast was missing. I had no idea where it was or why it was taken from me, if indeed it had been taken. My foot had swollen to nearly twice its normal size. It looked blue and I couldn’t tell if the blue color was from the swelling, bruises or the intense cold. I could see my breath on the cold air. It took a moment of trying to look around in the awkward position I was lying in, but I saw an old stone grinding wheel and I knew where I was. The old, abandoned, grist mill! It was located in the wooded area behind my house less than a mile away.

HuntersMill crop 01

I knew these woods like the back of my hand. There was a window directly in front of me and I could tell it was breaking dawn. How ironic that those particular words had popped into my mind. Apparently, I’d been here all night. I saw a long stick lying on the floor just inches away from my feet but there was nothing else in the room that wasn’t nailed down.

I could hear heavy booted footsteps of someone pacing back and forth from another part of the mill. I heard voices, too. There was no door in his room, allowing a partial view into the next room. I did not see anyone in there. It was impossible to tell exactly where the voices were coming from in the 4 story grist mill but I was sure a woman was speaking only her voice was too faint to make out. The man I assumed to be James, I could hear clearly.

“Once he comes to save her, we won’t need her anymore. I’ll make him watch while I have some fun with her,” he said. I cringed to the depths of my soul at his words. Again, the woman spoke and he replied.

“I’ll kill her, of course.” I could hear the woman say something and then I heard them both laugh.

“Of course he’ll come. Cullen can’t resist playing the hero!”

No! my mind screamed. I wouldn’t let them get to Edward! I had to get away… I had to warn Edward. Frantically, I twisted and turned my wrists trying to loosen the cord that bound me. I used my good leg to push myself up higher and wrenched at the tie with all my might. I felt the cord grinding into my flesh bruising it. The rotting, hardwood beam I was tied to cut into my skin with each attempt I made to loosen the knot. Angry looking welts and cuts formed as blood began to ooze from them and trickle down my arm. I didn’t care. I had to get away. I had to save Edward. I wouldn’t allow them to use me as bait to draw him here to be harmed. I’d rather die.

My blood began to mingle in the knot of the plastic cord, allowing the knot to slip and loosen enough to free my hands. I didn’t pause to examine my wrists. Using my arms for leverage, I scooted close enough to the stick to pick it up with my foot. I used it and the railing to struggle to my feet. A scream threatened to escape as intense pain shot through my entire leg, but I stifled it. You can do this! There is no pain! Get away and warn Edward! I repeated those thoughts in my head like a mantra. Using the stick for a crutch, I began making my way to the window, praying all the while that I was on the ground level. Every step I took was sheer agony. I thought I’d pass out from the intense pain in my ankle and leg. You can do this! There is no pain! There is no pain! There is no pain! At last, I made it to the window, deeply grateful to discover I was indeed on the ground level. The windows of the old mill had long since been broken out so I sat down in the windowsill and put my good leg outside the window.

“What the fuck are you doing?” a male voice snarled.

Half in and half out of the window, I turned just in time to watch in horror as James stomped my fractured ankle beneath his booted foot. It snapped at unnatural angle. As I screamed in pain, he grabbed me by the collar of my robe and threw me back into the room.

“Let’s see you escape now, bitch!”

That was the last thing I remembered before everything went black.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

EPOV

As it turned out, Adele knew me from the days before Twilight. She told me she’d seen me perform in a nightclub once and had been amazed by my singing. She also recalled thinking I was going to make it big in the music business. When my acting career had taken off first, she’d been quite surprised.

I thanked her for her kind words and hurriedly explained that I’d abandoned my promo tour which left me in desperate need of a lift to Indiana. I offered to pay for everything, including her Chicago trip, if I could borrow her plane and pilot for a few hours once she had reached her destination. God love her, she wouldn’t hear of it. Since she was just starting her tour and was arriving a half day early anyway, she was more than willing to alter her flight plans to drop us off in Indiana. I could’ve kissed her right then and there! Once we were in the air, she’d have her pilot alter the flight plan. That meant we had to board right now. I had no problem with that. The sooner the better.

While we waited for clearance to take off, I was a nervous wreck. I caught myself wringing my hands, running my hands nervously through my hair enough to go bald, and chewing on the side of my thumb. Hitching a ride with Adele would bring me 4 hours closer to reaching my EDGe. This plane could travel at 650 miles an hour but it still wasn’t fast enough. About an hour after take-off, Adele sat next to me and took my hand.

“It’s none of my business, of course, but something is obviously bothering you. If you chew on your thumb much longer, you’re not going to have a thumb left. Edward, I know a man in love when I see one. I saw the fiasco at the premiere. How’s Bella doing?”

I told her about our run-in with James and how he’d hurt her ankle, putting him in jail for assault. Then I explained that I hadn’t been able to reach her since yesterday (Was it only yesterday? It seemed like ages!) and that the bodyguards I’d sent home with her weren’t responding. She kept me calm and talking all through the long flight and I would be forever grateful for her kindness, compassion and generosity.

The relief pilot was ready and waiting for us in Chicago. The fuel was quickly topped up while Adele hugged me goodbye and wished me luck. I promised to give her an update as soon as I could and buckled myself into my seat for the last leg of our journey.

Jasper had arranged a large SUV to be waiting for us upon arrival and we were on the road to Bella’s home within 30 minutes of landing.

AN: We’re nearing the end though it may not seem like it! A Special thanks to my friend and Mad Editor Lady Rita01tx for sticking with me through 2 + years of reading, writing, discussing and editing, for suggestions and for letting me bounce ideas off of you as well as having the balls to say “Nah, Don’t that! That sucks!” LOL and for just plain putting up with me and all my typos in chat! And a special thank you to all of you for reading, reviewing, favoriting, sharing Recing nominating and most of all for your patients and sticking with me and my Story! Much Love to You all!

AN: On a sad note My thoughts and Prayers go out to all the folks in Boston!

Chapter 23

Waiting in the Twilight

Ch. 23

BPOV

I wasn’t sure what woke me up as I stretched languorously and blinked my eyes open to the familiarity of my own bedroom. The sound of my text message ringtone shrilled close by. The thing was programmed to repeat every minute for five minutes, or until I opened the text. That must have been what woke me up. It was probably Andrea needing help with her homework. What was the time zone difference between Florida and here anyway? Ugh! It was too early for math and I was way too tired! The phone sounded for the third time but I wasn’t going to answer it. I wanted to get back to my dream about Edward. Wow! What a dream that had been! I didn’t have many of those and this one had been a real doozy! All my heart’s desires rolled into one. I fluffed my pillows in an attempt to get comfortable again, smiled at the black leather cuff on my wrist, and closed my eyes. Cuff? Holy shit! I flipped over in bed so quickly I almost tossed myself onto the floor as my cell phone rang again. Ow! My right foot hurt like crazy! Despite the pain, I grinned like an idiot. The cuff, the pain in my foot…it was true! It had all really happened! Edward Cullen loves me!

I snatched my cell phone off the nightstand and opened the text message.

From: EC  

Subject: Am I Still Dreaming?

Good morning, beautiful! It’s 2 pm here in Berlin, so I know it’s morning for you. Were the past 3 days real, or were you just a lovely dream? Text me when you wake up and pinch me LOL! Miss you so much, love!

EC

*Squeee!* It was real! I hugged my phone to my chest in sheer joy as if I was hugging Edward himself! The entire weekend ran through my mind at super high speed, like a movie on fast forward! I paused and replayed the night we made love in slow motion. I kind of got stuck in that memory for a while before the phone sounded for the fifth and final time, reminding me that Edward was waiting for a return text message.

Two pm in Berlin? Wow! We were back to a huge time zone difference. Looks like I would be up late again, not that I was going to complain. Hitting the reply button, I typed as fast as I could, completely aware that I was grinning like a fool.

To: EC

Subject: Good Morning!

*Pinch!* And you know where Imma pinching you at! *Snickers!* I’m awake now, Darlin’! I know what you mean…it was pretty surreal, wasn’t it? But, if it was a dream, we dreamed it together {again LOL} and I hope I never wake up! I love you! Now go…work…and hurry home to me!!!

Love,

EDGe

Pain throbbed through my foot as my feet touched the floor. Damn, that hurt! I needed my pills. I hobbled out of bed on my cast with two major intentions: start the coffee, and get my laptop going so I could find the first live feed of Edward in Berlin. His schedule was in my luggage, somewhere. I would need it if I was going to follow him online. By my side, or miles away, I was still an Edward fan girl! Wobbling over to my desk, I opened my laptop and punched the power button with more enthusiasm than ever before. I was so not a morning person but Edward’s text message had been like a shot of pure sunshine through my heart and soul! Outside, it was dark gray and heavily overcast despite the untouched whiteness of the snow. Yep, I was gonna need that coffee.

I opened my bedroom door and…

“EEEPP!!” I squealed and dove back behind the door. Here I was wearing only a tank top and panties with two big, burly, strange men standing around in my house! One stood at the front door while the other was stationed at the dining room French doors that lead out to my now frozen garden. It took a few seconds of panic before I remembered they were Edward’s men, the bodyguards he’d sent home with me. How could I have forgotten all about them? God, I needed coffee!

Yesterday, it had started to snow during the long drive from the airport to my house and, by the time we arrived, several inches lay on the ground. Half expecting them to follow me inside, I’d been surprised to learn that, on Edward’s orders, as well as their own protocol, they would remain outside, regardless of weather. Apparently, Edward had informed them I had a lot of work to do and they were not to disturb me for any reason. Now that I thought about it, I wondered where they were going to go to the bathroom. Geez! They must have bladders the size of Texas because they hadn’t asked to use the facilities even once. To me, it just didn’t feel right for them to stand outside in the cold all day and night, but they weren’t budging.

Later that evening, I’d opened the door to two different big guys standing at my door, not the ones who had accompanied me on the flight. The taller of the two explained that they’d flown in six hours behind us to relieve the first bodyguards and informed me that they would be changing shifts every 12 hours. When I told them to come in and get warm, they put up a fuss, but I wasn’t backing down this time. My conscience wouldn’t allow me to sleep knowing they were out there freezing their asses off all night long to protect me from nothing so, after delivering my cross-armed Dom stance, death glare, and pouty bottom lip, they finally caved and agreed to come in for the night. I chuckled when the men thanked me for the large thermos of coffee and sandwiches I provided before I went to bed. Since my house is literally “Down in the Boondocks,” it’s not like they could leave to grab a quick snack and, as far as I could see, they hadn’t brought any provisions with them. As the next shift was from 10 am to 10 pm, I figured the first team would be back here by the time I got up to start working on my new book.

Unfortunately, these guys were going to have to go back outside until I got myself ready for the day. No way was I going to shower and change with strange men in my house. Dashing into my closet, I grabbed a robe and threw it on before opening the bedroom door again.

“Hey guys, would you mind giving me some privacy to get organized this morning?” I was being nice by asking politely. I didn’t like having them here and one part of me would love to just throw them out, insisting they leave altogether. The other part just couldn’t do that because these were Edward’s people and I wasn’t going to have them telling him what a bitch I was.

“Sure thing, Miss Swan,” one man said, quickly retreating out the front door. Once it was closed, I could only partially see his left shoulder through the small glass panes, but the other man, now back outside the French doors to my backyard, was in full view, standing straight and tall with his back to the doors.

I scowled at him through the glass. Crap! I liked sitting at my dining room table to write and I wasn’t sure if I could do that with him standing right there. It would feel like he was hovering over me. Maybe I could sit in the living room to write, or maybe sit on my bed. There was a desk in my room I’d bought for writing but it was quite small and I liked having space. Truth be told, I was a table hog! The living room table was too tall and narrow for comfortable sitting, not to mention there was no space to spread out.

I stood in my kitchen glaring at what I could see of the two men. They made me feel like a prisoner in my own home. I couldn’t remember their names to save my life, probably because I resented them being here when there was no need, not for me anyway. Edward’s worry had been that I would be hounded by paps but there was no media circus on my lawn and I truly didn’t foresee there being one. They were very polite and respectful. I had nothing against them personally and, if Edward were here, I probably wouldn’t give them a second thought. But this was my home and it just seemed like a complete waste of time and resources to me.

I sighed as I turned on the coffee pot. Edward didn’t keep bodyguards around him all the time so I knew he was just being overprotective. Oh, well. It was only a week until he returned. By then, this whole premiere scandal would have blown over and I’d be free of these men.

I’d just set out eggs, bacon and biscuits from my fridge and turned to grab the orange juice when my phone suddenly started ringing again. I hobbled to my room as fast as I could on my injured foot, snatched my phone off the bed and sat in the chair as I propped my right foot up on the footstool.

From EC:

Subject: Woo Hoo!

I can’t wait to feel that {and more!} for real. I’m traveling at the moment. We should be at our destination soon. Just wanted to check and see how your foot is doing? Are you in a lot of pain? How are your shoulders? Are the bodyguards behaving? Is there a media circus on your doorstep? You know, I’m just extremely curious.😛

EC

From EDGe:

Subject: Woo Hoo!

Come here and I will make you feel better than you ever have in your life and then I’ll get serious!!😀 Foot is fine unless I walk on it. Getting ready to make breakfast and take my pills. That should help. Shoulders are sore but I will live. My arms are empty and missing you along with the rest of me. The bodyguards’ presence is annoying but they are very polite and not doing anything to bug me. No media circus BB! Hate to say I told you so but very glad you were wrong. I’ll be watching you at the premiere from my laptop.

Much Love to you, Darlin!

EDGe

Tucking my phone into the pocket of my robe in case he sent another text, I struggled to my feet. After a few “human moments” in the bathroom, I donned a pair of flannel pajama pants. Since it was still cold inside the house, I started a fire in the living room fireplace before heading to the kitchen. I took pain meds for my foot while I cooked breakfast and enjoyed my first cup of coffee. Glancing up as I worked, it didn’t escape my attention that the man at the French doors would shiver and pull his collar up around his neck every once in awhile. I looked out the window and noticed the wind had picked up, blowing the snow into a heaping snowdrift in my backyard.

An hour later, I opened the double doors, “Hey, come on in and get warm before you freeze to death.”

“Thank you Miss Swan, but we’re supposed to stay outside. Mr. Cullen will already be upset with us for having stayed in the house all night,” he said through chattering teeth.

“I don’t care what Mr. Cullen told you. This is my home and you’re here to protect me. There’s no imminent danger so come in here and sit down at the table…and don’t argue!” I stormed to the front door, jerked it open, and basically had the same conversation with the man standing there. He didn’t seem to be as cold as the other guy since the foyer provided enough protection on both sides to block the wind off of him. Once inside, both men put up a fuss when they saw I had place settings for three on the table. They could argue all they wanted but I saw them looking at the steaming mugs of coffee with lust in their eyes.

“Miss Swan, we’re very grateful for your kindness but it’s not necessary. We’re trained and well paid to endure the weather and we’ll be changing shifts in 30 minutes. We can eat then,” said the larger, taller man who’d been guarding the front door. I’d seen him once before when I’d been with Edward and finally recalled his name.

“Your name is Sam, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Yes ma’am.”

“And you are?” I asked the other one.

“Seth.”

“Well, Sam. You and Seth are here to protect me from paps, the media, and any other dangers lying in wait for me. You can do that better if you’re warm and dry and not half frozen and starving.”

“But, Miss Swan…”

Are you gonna stand there and tell me I just spent an hour cooking for you two and you’re not going to eat? Don’t make me call Mr. Cullen because I will!” I said, whipping out my cell phone from the pocket of my robe. Looking contrite, the two men sat down at the table and began eating. Ha! I was right, they weren’t only cold, they were hungry, too. I watched in smug satisfaction as they scarfed down the bacon, egg, and cheese omelet like hungry wolves. Sitting down to the table to eat my own breakfast, I continued to lay down the law.

“Look, guys. You’re only here for a week and there’s obviously nothing to protect me from. As long as it’s less than 40 degrees outside, you will do your job from inside the house,” I said. Sam immediately opened his mouth to protest but I cut him off before he could say a word. “Don’t even start! Honestly, I don’t like you being here. I have work to do and having you hovering around makes it harder for me but I won’t have you standing out in the bitter cold unnecessarily. And, if you think complaining to Mr. Cullen will do you any good, you’re wrong.” I’d barely gotten the words out of my mouth when all hell broke loose.

Abruptly, a loud stomping and clatter came from the front door, accompanied by a blast of cold air. I didn’t even have time to blink before Sam jumped up from his chair, pulled his gun and had his back braced against the foyer wall. Seth jumped up, grabbed me by the arm and, in one fluid movement, pulled me up from my chair, whirled me around behind him and drew his gun, too. In a flash, they were both moving before my mind had time to register anything. Sam attacked whatever was coming through the front door and nailed it to the floor in front of the fireplace. Finally, the sound of my name being yelled brought me out of my stupor.

“Bella! Run!” a muffled voice screamed from the floor.

“Jake?” I gasped in shock. In seconds, Sam had Jake pinned to the ground, a gun trained on him while he searched for weapons. Seth was backed against the open front door, gun drawn, waiting and watching for more intruders. Seeing no one else out front, he darted to the French doors, yanked them open and began searching cautiously around the house.

“Get off him! Let him up! What are you doing? No! Stop it!” I hobbled over to Sam and tried shoving him off. Sam was beginning to realize his mistake and loosened his unrelenting hold on Jake. Somewhat dazed, confused, and royally pissed off, Jake tried to stand. Sam reached out to help him up but Jake shoved his hand away just as the front door burst open yet again.

“FREEZE!” someone yelled and Jake was suddenly tackled to the ground again by yet another man, who must have heard me yelling at Sam. Oh, great! The relief team has arrived. Must be 10 am already.

“Stop! You’re hurting him!” I screamed.

“Stand down!” Sam yelled, yanking the man with the gun off Jake’s back by his collar.

“Oh, Jake! I’m so sorry! Are you okay?” I asked, trying to help him up. Jake was so angry and confused about who these men were, he slapped my hand away.

“What the hell is going on around here, Bella? Guns? Really? Just who are these bozos? And just what the fuck were you doing on TV with that vampire guy?”

“Hey! I don’t know who you are but, if you can’t talk to Miss Swan with some respect, I’ll have to escort you out,” the bodyguard who’d yelled “freeze” snarled. Seth returned from outside looking utterly bewildered.

“Okay, everybody out except Jake. It’s all right, he’s a friend,” I said. It took a few seconds, but all three of them reluctantly filed out the front door. Jake started his tirade the moment the doors were closed and I doubt he noticed that another man had returned to stand guard outside the French doors, but it wasn’t Seth.

“You coulda told me you were flying to LA. Didn’t you even stop to think I’d be worried about you? And how’d you get to the airport without your car anyway? Can you imagine how I felt when I came by and saw your car, but you never answered? I thought you’d gone off on a walk and got hurt or something. I went tracking through those woods forever looking for you!” I stood there waiting patiently while Jake had a cow. Hopefully he’d wind down soon.

“Hell, I even called the police but they wouldn’t report you missing for 24 hours. By then, everyone in town knew you were in LA with that actor. It made me look like a damn fool for reporting you as a missing person when you were out in California cavorting with some freakin’ movie star!” I let him rant all he wanted because, until he was done, there was no point in trying to get a word in. I hobbled over to the table and sat down in my chair. When Seth had grabbed me up and spun me around behind him, it had set my foot off and, between that and trying to rush over to help Jake, it was throbbing like crazy again.

“Why are you limping? What happened to your foot? Why is it in a cast?”

“Well, you seem to know everything else about my trip. I figured you knew that, too!”

“Did he hurt you? That actor guy? I’ll kill him! You’ve got some serious explaining to do!” That did it! I’d had enough! He kept saying “actor” like it was a filthy word and, after Sunday’s premiere and the incident with the paps, I’d had enough of people verbally attacking Edward!

“Don’t you dare say a bad word about him! Edward is a kind man and a wonderful human being! I’ve got explaining to do? Who the hell do you think you are? You’re not my guardian! I don’t report to you about anything? I’ll come and go as I damn well please!”

“Well, that’s obvious!” Jake said angrily. He sighed heavily, hands on his hips as he looked up at the ceiling. Eventually, he looked back at me. “Look, Bella. I’m not trying to control your life but why don’t you get that I was seriously worried about you? Couldn’t you have just picked up the phone and called me? Sent a text message…something?

“No, Jake. I couldn’t. I had entered a writing contest, the chance of a lifetime, and I won! But, one of the stipulations in the contract was that I had to sign an NDA and…”

“That actor guy made you sign an NDA? What the hell kinda perverted loser makes a beautiful girl sign an NDA? You…” Hearing Jake call Edward a perverted loser really pissed me off! Despite the pain in my foot now traveling all the way up my thigh, I jumped up and stood toe-to-toe with him.

“His name is Edward and he didn’t make me do anything! The NDA was Summit Studio’s idea! If I contacted anyone before the reveal on Friday, or before I was given my laptop and cell phone back on Saturday, then I would have been disqualified! I…”

“Oh, so you’ve been allowed to call me since Saturday! How generous of him! You just didn’t care enough about your best friend to even consider my feelings!” he said, cutting me off. “It’s Tuesday, Bella! You know what? I…I just can’t talk to you right now. I can’t even look at you.”

“Jake! Jake wait!” And with that, he stormed out of the house without another word. As much as I hated to admit it, he was right. I could have called him Saturday, or Sunday, or even Monday after I had arrived home. I’d had plenty of time to call, to share my joy and excitement with him, but I’d been a bad friend, too wrapped up in my own world. I tried several times to get him on his cell phone but he was ignoring my calls. In essence, he was telling me it was too little too late. I didn’t blame him at all.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After cleaning the dishes, making my bed and getting dressed, I retreated to the living room with every intention of working on my novel and looking up the live feed for the Berlin premiere. I’d had enough of bodyguards and feeling guilty about Jake. What I needed some distraction. Unfortunately, the next pain pill I took resulted in a long nap until mid-afternoon.

Edward must have been getting reports from the bodyguards through Emmett because, when I woke from my nap, there was a text message waiting for me.

From: EC

Subject: Drama

I heard about the drama you had this morning. I apologize for the confusion. Hope your friend Jake was unharmed. Get some rest, Love. I’ll be pretty busy till late this evening. I’ll check to see if you’re online but don’t wait up for me ok?  I will text you in the morning. I love you!

Missing you every second,

E.C.

He was such a sweet man. I couldn’t believe I’d missed even a moment of time with him by sleeping through the sound of his message coming through! Even though I knew he wouldn’t get it for quite some time, I sent a reply anyway.

To: E.C.

Subject: All is well.

Sorry I missed your text. The painkillers knocked me out. Don’t worry about Jake. Only things hurt were his pride and his feelings. I will be online waiting for you tonight. And when you are at the premiere, know that I will be there watching you and sending you my love.

Miss you much, Love you more,

EDGe

With only one quick search, I found the location of the first live feeds for Berlin, made a note of the start time, and bookmarked the page. That done, I pulled up my novel and began writing until it was time for the premiere. For what seemed like forever, one star after another crossed the screen, stopping to talk to fans or giving multiple brief interviews. The biggest, brightest, best star was always last, but I wasn’t going to take the chance of missing one second of seeing Edward’s beautiful face. It seemed to take forever for him to appear but, finally, my patience was rewarded. He spent a long time among his fans and, despite knowing him personally, despite having slept with him, I was still fan-girling over seeing him on the red carpet. I was also envious of them all; not exactly jealous, but envious that, once again, they had him in person and I didn’t.

The first close-up of Edward came during an interview and, when he ran his hands through his hair in such a familiar way, I couldn’t help brushing my fingers over his lips on my monitor. As if he knew I was there and what I was doing, he licked his bottom lip and then bit it. Whatever the reporter said must’ve been funny because I heard his familiar man-giggle and squealed with delight at the sound. God, I missed him so much! We’d only had three days together and yet, somehow, it seemed like we’d had a lifetime of love with each other. It wasn’t nearly enough. In fact, an eternity with a man like Edward Cullen wouldn’t be half long enough. What was I saying? There was no one like Edward and there never would be.

I’d convinced myself that it was only for a week. Between watching him at all of his events on the computer, keeping in touch via phone and text, and working on my novel, I would barely know he was gone. I’d told myself I would be so busy that the week would fly by in no time at all. Watching him now, I knew I was only kidding myself. This week was going to be the longest week of my life and every second I wasn’t talking to him or seeing him was going to seem like an eternity.

All too soon, the premiere was over and Edward was gone. I felt like crying. I knew the longer I sat there thinking of him, dwelling on how much I loved and missed him, the slower time would pass and the deeper I would sink into depression. Edward wouldn’t want that so, for him, I forced myself to close everything but my Word doc and went back to work on my story. More than once, I caught myself letting my mind wander to memories of my weekend with Edward…his smile, his laugh, the feel of his touch, his kiss, and I would have to force myself to start writing again.

At some point, I glanced at the clock on my computer and was surprised to realize it was 10:15 pm. The bodyguards would have switched shifts by now, putting Seth and Sam back on duty. I hadn’t received any e-mail alerts from Edward yet or any more text messages. I carried my laptop back to my bedroom, and donned a black silk nighty Alice had given me. Maybe I would send Edward a picture of me in this nightgown to remember me by. I grinned at the thought of his reaction to receiving such an e-mail. It was still cool in the house so I put on my heavy terry cloth robe over the top. I set everything up so I’d be able to talk to Edward on EA and, when I was done, I hobbled to the front door to check on the guys. I couldn’t bear the thought of them standing outside in the freezing cold all night long. Opening the door, I was surprised to see that Seth wasn’t at his post. Instead, I was greeted by a woman with bright red hair and a very soft voice. She was dressed all in black and wore leather gloves.They’d sent a female bodyguard especially for me?

“Um, hello. What happened to Seth and Sam?” I asked after she introduced herself to me.

“We’re on rotation, Miss. My partner and I have taken their shift for the night,” she said with a smile. She looked too well-groomed and delicate to be a bodyguard but looks could be deceiving. I knew not to judge a book by its cover so I smiled and invited her in. It would actually be less intimidating for me to have a woman in the house instead of two strange men.

“Really? You’re inviting me inside?” she asked, seeming quite pleased at the thought.

“Yes. You and your partner. There’s no need to stand out there all night freezing. Is your partner out back?” I asked. Turning to go towards the sliding glass doors, I looked back over my shoulder to see the woman closing the front door and locking it.

“Yes. He should be there by now,” the woman said. Puzzled by the smug tone of her voice, I looked out the sliding glass doors just in time to see a dark hooded figure crossing the backyard.

“I suppose I should introduce myself,” she giggled coyly. “I’m Victoria…pleased to meet you.”

 EPOV

God, I was tired. It was four in the morning by the time I finally made it back to my hotel room. I’d tried to beg off the after party but my cast mates had kept at me until I’d finally caved. At least it was still fairly early for my EDGe. I didn’t want her staying up all night to talk to me when I woke up. She needed to get some rest and stay off her feet so her ankle would heal faster. I could talk to her online for a few minutes before going to bed and crashing for a while. I grabbed a bottle of Heineken, a new pack of cigs and my laptop, and climbed into my bed. As soon as I was situated, I sent her a message via PM on Ed Attack.

EC: I’m here, Love. Can’t wait to talk to you. Maybe together we can figure out how to set up Skype and save some time. I need to see your beautiful face.

The minutes ticked by with no reply. I checked the member’s page and it showed that she was available, which meant she was online. Maybe she just hadn’t heard the incoming message ping. I tried again and waited.

EC: How are you feeling, EDGe? Did you ever hear from you friend Jake again?

I knew about her friend Jake from a few of the PM’s we’d exchanged before the contest. She’d described him as an overprotective little brother, always trying to do things for her. It had made me feel a little better knowing she wasn’t totally alone when she was home. I was glad to know she had someone to check on her. From the way she talked about him, I had this visual image of a tall, thin, gangly teen every time she mentioned his name.

Ten minutes passed…nothing. Perhaps she’d fallen asleep or was napping thinking that she’d meet me here at midnight or later her time like we’d done in the past. I should’ve given her a time to meet me here. Now I was afraid she’d be up very early waiting for me, by which time I’d be out cold. I decided to send her a text message. If the sound of her phone didn’t wake her, at least she’d more than likely check her phone before she checked EA. I opened my phone and saw that she’d sent me a text earlier. Of course! She must’ve taken more of her pain meds and fallen asleep again. Poor baby.

To: EDGe

Subject: My bad

I should have been more specific about a meeting time for us on EA. Sorry, Love. I will text you in the morning. How about we meet on EA at 8 pm your time tomorrow evening? Maybe we can Skype? I hope you sleep well. I love you EDGe.

Always Yours,

EC

I waited until 4:30 to see if she would reply either way but, when I’d finished my beer and another cigarette without a word from her, I got undressed and went to bed.

Waiting in the Twilight Chapter 22

image2

Chapter 22

Waiting in the Twilight

Chapter 22

EPOV

What a bloody nightmare! I wasn’t thinking about the dreams, either. That was another matter entirely. I paced back and forth in front of my bedroom door waiting to get to Bella. It had taken me and three of my bodyguards to lift the rear of the limo away from the curb to free Bella’s foot from where it had jammed between the tire and the curb. Her ankle was visibly swollen and she couldn’t walk on it but, typical Bella, she was more concerned about the damage to the borrowed Louis Vuitton shoe she’d been wearing than her own ankle. I finally had to tell her they were insured so she’d stop worrying about it. I’d lifted her from the curb and set her gently into the back of the limo then we drove straight to the hospital. I called Jasper on the way and, like the miracle worker that he was, he’d arranged for us to slip into the hospital undetected. X-rays revealed that her ankle was sprained and she had a tiny, hairline fracture. They put her in a boot cast, gave her a prescription for Vicoden, and released her. I didn’t want her spending the night alone in her room so, at my insistence, Alice and Rose were currently fussing over her, putting her in my bed where I could watch over her throughout the night.

That bastard pap, James Hunter, had been hauled off to jail, along with his pal, Laurent. According to Emmett, they swore they weren’t working together but admitted they knew each other. James had been the one to take the pictures of Bella and me and made up the story about the contest being rigged. Apparently, he was threatening to sue me for destroying his camera and, in essence, his career. If he was so broke that my destroying his camera was enough to ruin his career, I didn’t see how he thought he could afford to sue me. Then again, I was certain there were some attorneys out there crooked enough to take his case just for the chance to sue a wealthy star. I was certain Summit and Little Brown would be suing him right back for defamation of character, assault, and a number of other things. I’d wait for events to unfold before making my move. The way I saw it, the less attention drawn to this man, or this situation, the better off we’d be. Of course, that was the logical part of my brain talking. The illogical part, as well as my heart, wanted to rip the man to shreds in front of a huge audience and then sue him for everything he had or would ever hope to have.

Before I could continue with my fantasy of destroying James Hunter in all the most painful ways possible, Alice and Rose emerged from my bedroom.

“How is she? Is she in a lot of pain?”

“Bella’s fine and she wants to see you,” Alice said, taking me by the arm and leading me to the sofa. Something about the way she said the words, plus the fact that she was leading me away from Bella, set off an alarm in my head.

“Why? What aren’t you telling me? She’s in more pain than we thought, isn’t she?”

“No, she’s not in any pain right now. She’s just more worried about you than she is for herself!” Alice assured me.

“But, that’s ridiculous, Alice! She’s the one who was injured and I couldn’t do a damned thing to stop it!”

“Edward, get a grip! I need you to take a deep breath and calm down before you go in there, okay? Keep yourself together and let her have her say. Listen! Then, think before you address her concerns, because I know you! You’ll try to gloss over everything and you really need take her seriously!”

“Edward,” Rose said, placing a hand on my shoulder as she stood behind the sofa.

“I know, Rose. I know,” I said, defeated. I knew what she was going to say and I didn’t like it…at all, but it was best for Bella and that was all that mattered to me. I needed to see her and talk to her more than anything right now. Without another word, knowing my sisters were watching with concern on their faces, I entered my bedroom.

Bella looked so small and fragile leaning back against the pillows piled behind her on my king sized bed. The huge lump under the covers where her foot remained in a boot cast appeared larger than her petite body. Her eyes were closed and I was trying not to wake her but, as I approached the bed, she sensed my presence and opened her eyes. I smiled down at her as I eased gently onto the bed beside her.

“How are you feeling, love? Are you in a lot of pain?” I asked.

“Not at all, really. It only hurts when I walk on it,” she said.

All of a sudden, to my surprise, shock, and dismay, Bella burst into tears and began apologizing.

“I’m so sorry, Edward! All this time, the pa… paps have been unable to get to you and now, because of me, you’re in tr… trouble! I should never have entered that contest! My ba… bad luck has rubbed off on you! The last thing I wanted to do was ruin your ca… caree…”

“Hey, hey! Hold on there, love. You didn’t do anything! Those bloody paps who did this are to blame! You haven’t done anything wrong at all!” I said, lying down next to her and pulling her gently into my arms.

“Oh, Edward! You really have no clue. I’m notorious for my bad luck! It follows me everywhere I go! I’ve ruined your career! They think you cheated because of me! I embarrassed and humiliated you in front of your fans,” she whimpered into my chest. I couldn’t help myself, I burst out laughing. Bella jerked away from me to look at my face, obviously confused by my reaction. It only made me laugh harder.

“Edward! Stop laughing! This isn’t funny!” she exclaimed. I tried to sober up, but the look on her face was hysterical and I lost it again. Bella looked really perturbed until I noticed her frown starting to crack into a smile. She smacked my leg and tried to hold it in, but she didn’t make it. Pretty soon, she was laughing, too.

“Are you kidding? You think you humiliated me? On the contrary, love. I’m very proud of you! Oh, the sight of you beating that bloke in the head with your purse and calling him all the names you and the girls always call them was simply priceless! Let me tell you right now, Bella. The only thing I regret is that you were hurt!” I told her, curling my arms around her again.

“You mean you’re not mad at me?” she asked, eyes wide in astonishment.

“Sweetheart, haven’t you ever heard the old saying that, in Hollywood, even bad publicity is better than no publicity at all?” I laughed. The very idea of Bella thinking I was mad at her was ludicrous.

“Yes, but I caused a scene at the BD2 Premiere… your Premiere! Oh, my God!” she exclaimed, hiding her face in her hands. I couldn’t help laughing as I hugged her close. She was ridiculously funny.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had bad press in the past, but it didn’t hurt me then and it won’t hurt me now! Whether it’s true or false, it’s something all celebrities have to deal with on a regular basis. You can either let it rule your life or you can ignore it and carry on as normal. I choose to live my life on my own terms. In fact, all the fans, yours and mine, are probably thrilled to finally see a pap get taken down. Wanna bet your MEoW friends are already throwing a party?”

“I doubt that. They’ll probably disown me and block me from commenting in the future because I made a mess of your premiere! Not to mention, I stole ‘The Pretty’ from them,” she sighed heavily.

“Bella, really? You don’t know your friends very well, do you? Wait here,” I told her. Easing off the bed, I went to the door and asked Jasper to bring me my laptop. I knew he’d been keeping an eye on all the celebrity news sites and blogs just in case any damage control was required. I also knew the MEoW girls would stand behind Bella 100%. I’d been following them too long to have even a single doubt about it. Jasper handed me my open laptop and I could tell by the uncharacteristic grin on his face that, as far as the fans and I were concerned, everything was fine. I winked at him and mouthed the word ‘thanks.’ Jasper nodded once in reply. I caught a glimpse of Alice’s anxious face over Jasper’s shoulder and smiled at her. Her return smile glowed with relief and joy.

Climbing back onto the bed, I helped Bella prop herself up a bit higher with the pillows. I settled the laptop over my thighs and hitched closer to Bella so we could both see the screen. Jasper had the page already open to a celebrity blog where a video of tonight’s premiere had been posted. The icon hovered over the play button. I never doubted Jasper’s judgment and I wasn’t about to start now so, without hesitation, I pressed play and enlarged the video to full screen. The video jarred for a second as though the person taking the video had been bumped in the arm but, after that, the quality was good.

So far, I was glad I’d decided to show it to Bella, as well as watch it myself. At the beginning, we both cringed a few times as first Laurent’s, then James’s, accusations flew through the air loud and clear for all to hear. When the screen showed me tucking Bella safely behind, Bella blushed and smiled as she rested her head on my shoulder. The image of me lunging forward to restrain Laurent made her smile broadened. She was proud of me for that? Wow! I’d just wanted to tear him apart for the crap he’d said about her, but I hated that I’d done that. Leaving Bella alone and vulnerable to James’ assault had been my biggest mistake of the evening. I flinched as I watched James rush at her. The camera panned out so that we could see what was happening between both paps. Laurent and I were on the left side of the screen while Bella and James were on the right. Things were about to get dicey and I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of letting Bella see this part. We both felt terrible until the view changed again. The camera switched angles to focus on Bella, James, and the crowd of fans. Now, I understood Jasper’s choice as we watched Bella yelling at James to shut-up. The fans were yelling, too.

“Hey, you jerk! Leave her alone!” they were yelling. We saw them strain over the velvet ropes, just itching for a chance to help her, but extra security from the theatre rushed in to hold them back. “You tell him, Bella!” they screamed as she whacked him and told him to shut-up. “Hit him again!” they cheered when she did.

Beside me, Bella was blushing, giggling, and covering her mouth with her hands as she watched the fans cheer for her. I stopped the video before it showed her accident. I didn’t want her to have to relive that again. Moving the cursor up to the search bar, I typed in MEoW. If I knew my girls, they would have a blog post up about tonight’s events by now. They already had a very low, albeit accurate, opinion of the paps, so this would surely send them off the deep end. The page popped open within seconds…

MEoW POV:

PAPS STRIKE LOW BLOW – B&E FIGHT BACK…

LI-TRAH-LY!

These paps done went and pissed me off, girls! I’m so mad I could spit nails! If you weren’t around for the live feed, you missed one hell of a show! You can see the vids after the jump.

After raking in what I am sure was mega bucks for publishing that bullshit story about Edward and Bella rigging the non-battle scene rewrite contest, that low life pap came back for more. Him and his pal ambushed Edward and Bella at the LA Premiere of Breaking Dawn earlier this evening. As E&B were leaving the premiere, one pap, whose name is reportedly Laurent, jumped the ropes and got in their faces. Edward, being the gentleman that he is, stepped in front of Bella to protect her. Once she was safe, he got into the brawl of his life when Laurent kicked up a fuss and refused to go down easily.

While Edward was distracted with this other dude and busy yelling at Emmett, the scumbag named James Hunter {the same freaking pap who hid in the bushes to capture and later sell the pictures of E&B kissing} pounced on Bella! Now, I’m no saint, we all know that, but the shit this guy was saying to Bella about her and Edward was beyond revolting!

Oh, but get this, girls! EDG didn’t take his shit for one second! She told him off when he slammed Edward! Then, when he wouldn’t back off and wouldn’t shut-up, she beat him with her purse… repeatedly! You go, girl!

Unfortunately, when Edward realized she was being accosted by the pap, he ran to her aid and, in doing so, the pap spun around to get the picture and knocked Bella down. Apparently, she was trapped between the limo and the curb. It took 4 men, including Edward, to lift the rear of the limo to free Bella. And, get this, ladies! Our man Edward, God love him, picked her up and carried her to the limo like a knight in shining armor! *Swoon!*

Word has it she was injured pretty badly and they rushed her to an undisclosed hospital. No news on her condition as of yet. It doesn’t appear to have been life threatening but she was obviously in pain and her shoulders were scraped up and bleeding from having hit the concrete. As they say, however, what goes around comes around! These guys might have caused a scene at the premiere but, one thing is for sure; neither one of them is going to make any money off their pics! The first guy was shooting at such crazy angles, there’s no way his pics are gonna produce anything and, as for this dude James…HA! Edward smashed his MFing camera! *FIST BUMP!*

But, God bless her, Bella stood up against that pap and beat him down as best as she could, considering she was wearing Louis Vuitton heels and a Versace evening gown! She got the chance to do something we have all wanted to do…Protect The Pretty! We know she’s been…err, busy these past few days, but we also know she reads MEoW. Send her some love in the comments, won’t you? And tell me what you would like to do, or see done, to these scumbag paps!

Proud and Furiously yours,

JET

Edwardscougar: “Awww…Poor EDG! Just when everything was going her way! Then this falsehood gets published by this scum of the earth pap and now said pap has harassed her and Edward and caused her bodily harm!?What a mess! I hope Scummit and Little Brown don’t stand for this and sue this guy for all he’s worth! I hope Bella does too!”

Chatterbox: “I hope they bury the fucker! I know EDG was in an awkward position and wearing very expensive clothes, caught off guard, {not to mention probably totally dazzled by being with “The Pretty” for the past 3 days} but if it had been me, I’d have kicked off one of those Louis Vuitton’s and started beating him with it! Seems to me this guy already has a brain leak! A few more heel-sized holes in his head couldn’t hurt!”

CrazyforCullen: Oh I hope Bella is ok! Take care of our girl Edward. I can’t say what I’d like to see happen to paps…It’s too violent!

DazzlemeEC: ” CrazyforCullen “Say it, out Loud!” LOL Can’t be worse than what I’d like to see done to all paps especially that one, you know have him strung up by his privates and publicly flogged before we really get serious! Hehehe. Get Better Soon Bella!

FlightlessVamp: Dear Dean and Emmett, Next time, if there ever is a next time, let Edward go so he can stomp the shit out of those guys! Yours truly,FV.

PS: Get Well Soon Bella and COME BACK TO COMMENT!

Summerchic: “I’m so mad right now I could spit nails, too! Between what happened tonight at the premiere and the lies this dude told and the magazine that spread them about EDG and Edward… he’s just damn lucky I’m not within strangling range cuz this guy would be so dead! Take care of our Girl Edward and yourself as well. You both looked stunning BTW!”

JET: “Didn’t they, though? Despite what happened, Bella/EDG is a damn Lucky woman to be in the presence of The Pretty.

Forkshere: “Hey! Remember that scene in Rambo 2 where the bad guys had him hanging in a pit full of pig shit? Now, that would be fitting for all paps, right?

CullenCrazy: “Viva la Revolution! Bring back the guillotine!”

Rudysmom2008: “My, my! Aren’t we a bloodthirsty bunch?” *gigglesnort!*

TexasTornado: “Hell’n, here in Texas, we’d just stake ’em out on top of a bed of fire ants! Let them mean li’l fuckers take care of the trash! Ain’t dirtyin’ my hands on ’em LOL!”

I watched her as she read the last few comments showing on the page. She was grinning and tears glazed her eyes, but they were happy tears. She was touched by their kindness towards her and, if I knew my EDGe, amazed that they cared about her so deeply. She looked up at me expectantly after she had read the last comment.

“You see, love? They adore you and they’re thrilled we’re together and happy that you beat up a pap for me,” I said with a grin. It was obvious she hadn’t hurt that pap, James, but it was the principle behind the beating. She did what she and so many had talked about doing, if they were ever given the chance to get close enough to one.

“I suppose. I know how dedicated my friends are to you. I couldn’t help but worry that some of them would be mad at me.”

“Well, they’re not, as you can see. And you are not bad luck, either! Every bit of this falls on the shoulders of those bloody paps,” I said. I started to close my laptop and set it on the floor on my side of the bed, but Bella stopped me by placing her hand on my keyboard.

“Edward, don’t think I didn’t notice that you stopped the video before I was knocked over. I want…no, I need to see it!” she insisted.

“I just didn’t want to see you upset again, love,” I tried to explain.

“You should know by now that I’m stronger than I look,” she chuckled.

“You’re sure you want to live through that again? It kills me to watch it myself!” I asked.

“Yes, I’m sure. Show me the video. You know I’ll see it eventually anyway and I’d rather see it with you than alone,” she said softly. She was right; I didn’t want her to see it at all but, if she had to see it, I didn’t want her to be alone. Bella had a habit of blaming herself for things that weren’t her fault so I wanted to be there to make sure she didn’t feel guilty about any of the evening’s events. Clinching my jaw, I opened my laptop and returned to the video, fast-forwarding to just seconds before her accident. I wish I’d watched it alone before agreeing to let Bella watch it, now. The camera was focused on Bella, James, and the crowd.

Shut your mouth! You don’t know him! You know nothing about him!” Bella was yelling on the video.

“He’s an asshole, is what he is.” Click, click, click, click. “A cocky, arrogant, British fuck! With no brain filter and no brains!” Click, click, click, click.

Shut your fucking mouth!” Bella’s voice screamed through the speaker on my laptop. Sitting beside me, EDGe cringed at her actions.

Hit him again! Harder!” a fan yelled. The camera zoomed in on Bella and James. I’d been too far away, surrounded by too many screaming fans to hear what was being said. James moved in closer and began taking more pictures. With every click of his lens, he inched forward, getting right up in Bella’s face. Bella backed up, trying to get away from him, smacking him with her purse over and over the whole time. Looking at it now, she should have smacked him across the face, which would have knocked his camera out of his hands. Then again, that might have angered him enough to have attacked her.

You don’t know anything about him! He’s a wonderful man, kind, caring and generous! He’s beautiful inside and out! You’re filth! You’re disgusting! You’re not good enough to lick his boots!” Bella cried, still pounding him with her purse.

HEY! Get away from her! Bella! No!” I heard my voice from off screen and winced because I knew what was coming next.

Edward! Stop! Dean! Get over here!” Emmett yelled to Dean off screen.

“He’s a complete fucktard. Everyone knows it.” James said to Bella. Then, total chaos ensued. James spun around to get pictures of me running to save Bella and, when he did, his shoulder and elbow rammed into her side. She toppled in the high, thin heels. I cringed when I saw her foot turn unnaturally as it slipped between the limo tire and the curb. Her arms flailed awkwardly as she twisted, trying to remain standing, but it was no use. She went down hard on her soft, bare shoulders. It looked as though she should have broken some ribs, as well, but the X-rays had proven they were fine.

BELLA!” I screamed as I entered the screen. I glanced at Bella sitting beside me as video ‘me’ fell to his knees beside video ‘Bella.’ I stopped the film when I saw her crying and visibly shaking against my side.

“I knew you shouldn’t have watched that,” I told her, closing my laptop and tossing it to the foot of my bed. Careful of her bruised and scraped shoulder, I pulled her into my arms.

“I’m not crying for me, darlin’! I don’t know how you’ve tolerated them for so long without losing your temper. He was saying the meanest things about you and it’s all lies!”

“Words can hurt, love, but they don’t bother me…certainly not from the likes of him. However, I can tell it really bothered you. It worried you that the fans might think less of us and it worried you what the interviewers were going to think. EDGe, nothing, and I mean nothing, anyone says or thinks makes any difference to the way I feel about you and it never will. When you think about it like that, don’t you feel the same way? Can you try not to let it bother you so much?” I asked gently, intertwining our fingers with one hand.

“Of course I do, and I’ll try,” she smiled. “Us against the world, right?” she chuckled softly.

“Absofuckinglutely, love,” I agreed, kissing her temple. “But, now I need to talk to you about something very important to me,” I hated having to do this. I didn’t want to for many reasons. Bella snuggled deeper into my chest and bravely dried her eyes.

“Okay, I’m listening,” she sniffled.

“Watching that video was hard for me, too. Bella, I couldn’t live with myself if you got hurt again because of me. This promo tour is going to be a tough gig; visiting multiple cities and countries in just a few days, rushing through airports, standing around through photo shoots and photo calls! Climbing in and out of cars and limos, even boats! Sitting for hours through book signings and press conferences…it’s insane! All that walking and standing without rest could end up doing permanent damage to your foot. Make no mistake! I want…hell, I needed you to go with me. The thought of being away from you for so long is so excruciating! But, seeing you hurt further just to be with me and ease my mind is incredibly selfish of me and totally unacceptable. Do you understand where I’m going with this, love?” I begged.

“I had a feeling you were going to say that. I really wanted to go with you but, from following your career, I know how physically demanding these tours can be. I’d only get in your way,” she said sadly.

“You could never be in my way, love! But, for your own sake and my peace of mind, you need to stay off your foot as much as possible. So, here’s the plan; Jasper’s made arrangements for you to be on a flight back home about an hour before my flight leaves in the morning. Your tickets are already in the living room.”

“Tickets? As in more than one?” she asked. She looked up at me with confusion written all over her lovely face. I knew this was coming and I was prepared for it. Better to get it settled tonight rather than make her late for her flight in the morning.

“Yes. I have extra bodyguards on call in case they are ever needed. I’m sending two home with you. It…”

“I don’t think so!” she exclaimed, cutting me off. She sat up and looked back at me as though I’d completely lost my mind.

“EDGe, before you climb up on your soap box and start telling me where I can get off, stop and think about it,” I said, keeping my voice calm. There wasn’t going to be an argument here. My mind was made up. “You entered the contest and won. The chemistry between us was immediate and everyone picked up on it. The rumors were flying from the moment the press saw us together…”

“Yes, but we handled that,” she tried, interrupting me, but I wasn’t going to be derailed. I kept talking as if I was talking about the weather.

“We were papped kissing in public and it was pretty obvious we were making out in the limo. I take full responsibility for that. I’ve been in the eye of the press long enough to have learned that they see everything. Then, that falsehood was written about the contest being fixed…”

“Well, anyone who believes that nonsense is a fool. The fans don’t believe it,” she argued, cutting me off again. I knew she wouldn’t like the thought of bodyguards but, after a long discussion with Emmett, Dean, and Jasper, we had all unanimously agreed there was no way around it. If she couldn’t come on the tour with me, she was going home with bodyguards, period.

“Then, there was that fiasco at the premiere. Do you honestly think that, when you go home, the press isn’t going to hunt you down and harass and hound you to no end? Do you think they won’t pressure you and say and do things to get a reaction or some kind of an admission out of you, that they won’t be lying in wait for you when your plane lands? Do you really think they won’t be sitting on your front lawn, or hiding in the bushes around your house?” She had stopped interrupting me, now that she was starting to realize I was right.

“Trust me! Even the regular press will say things to get you to blow a fuse, not to mention the paps. The way they push and shove, you can’t handle that with a cast on your foot. It’s going to be harder than you think; much harder than it’s been for the last three days because now you have a scandal of that story and the drama of the premiere fueling their desire to get to you. You need bodyguards around you to back them the hell off!” I finished my speech, but Bella remained silent. I waited patiently, but she still didn’t speak. I propped myself up on one elbow to be at eye level with her. I was waiting for her to pop a cap in my ass, blow her top, something. I brushed her hair away from her face and waited. Bella raised her eyes to mine and smiled sadly.

“Okay, Edward.”

“Okay? That’s all, just okay? You’re not going to throw a pillow at my head? Bust up the bar? Throw a hissy fit? Nothing?” I teased her quietly. A genuine smile finally graced her sweet lips as she nudged me with her shoulder. I’d been expecting her to put up one hell of a fight, so to say I was surprised by her calm demeanor was an understatement. What kind of meds had the doctor put her on anyway?

“No, I’m just going home like a good girl. I don’t go out much anyway. They won’t have any guarding to do if I never leave my house. I mostly stay home and write…”

*cough* “And perv over 109 year old virgin vampires? *cough* I teased her.

“Wrong! I perv over a sexy actor who portrays a 109 year old vampire!” she insisted. I couldn’t resist kissing her cute little nose. Nevertheless, my feisty girl wasn’t going to take having bodyguards lightly.

“Make no mistake; I don’t like it and I will keep them as far away from me as possible when I’m home and trying to work. I can’t write with and audience. I’ll always feel like I have guests I should be entertaining,” she explained.

“Once you’re home, they can stand outside your door. They don’t have to be glued to your side unless you’re out in public,” I told her. She grew quiet again and laid her head on her knee as she looked at me.

“I’m really going to miss you,” she said softly.

I tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled crookedly at her. I had a feeling she was saying goodbye; not goodbye for a week, but forever. Something in her voice told me she thought I wasn’t coming back to her. She had no idea how much it was going to kill me to let her go to travel half way around the world, taking me even farther away from her. It was like losing my soul. As soon as I finished this tour, I was going to go straight to her home as fast as I could and spend some real time together with her. I wanted her to return to London with me for the holidays, if her foot was better by then. Right now, though, my biggest concern was trying to find a way to comfort her. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had just the thing! I got up and went to one of my packed suitcases and rummaged around in the side pocket. When I returned to the bed, Bella was watching me with large, curious eyes.

“I told you before that we would never say goodbye because goodbye is too damn permanent. We aren’t saying goodbye, now. We’ll call and text and video chat the whole time I’m away,” I said, taking her arm in my hand. I took the object I had retrieved from my luggage and placed it on her wrist.

“Edward! That’s the cuff you wore in Twilight! It’s practically priceless! I can’t…”

Cullen Crest Cuff

“You can and you will. This will keep me close to you while I’m away. It’s only a week love, and then our forever can begin.”

“But, Edward…”

I threaded my fingers through the hair at the back of her head and drew her to my waiting lips and kissed her senseless. “Bella,” I murmured against the corner of her mouth. “You are priceless to me!”

“Oh, Edward! Where have you been all my life?” she sang, batting her eyes playfully. I couldn’t help smiling, but gave her the only honest answer I could. “I’ve been right here, EDGe, waiting in the twilight for you!”

AN: No, this isn’t the end for our EDGe and EC but we are getting close, very close to hitting that complete button. Thanks as ever to Rita01tx and Cared Cullen for editing and pre-reading my chapters. Huge thanks to all of you for reading and reviewing! Hope to see you in the reviews! MWAH!

Waiting in the Twilight Chapter 21

image2

Waiting in the Twilight

Chapter 21

EPOV

Utter stillness fills the air. The silence is eerie, causing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. Thick mist swirls around my feet like an evil thing crawling over the ground. The night is completely black and I can barely make out the ebony silhouettes of trees against the deep black night. I look up through boney branches, searching for the moon in the ominous sky, hoping to get my bearings. A sinister looking cloud passes slowly over the moon, allowing it to cast a bluish light through the forest. It shines enough light that I can now see the gnarled and emaciated trees barring my passage. The sickly stink of wood rot assaults my nose.

It is cold here, so cold. I pull my tuxedo jacket tighter around me but it doesn’t help. I feel the cold seeping through to my very soul and I don’t think I’ll ever be warm again.

The feeling of being watched crawls across my skin like a death watch beetle, making me shiver even more than the cold. A thousand malevolent eyes seem to be upon me and still, I’ve never felt more alone. Sprawling before me is a land that is both familiar yet foreign in its current state. Everything is deathly quiet; the trees stand like statues in a mausoleum. Fear fills me with the thought that I am indeed among the dead or dying.

Why am I here? I must leave. I need to find my way out back to warmth and sunshine back to…back to…to…Bella! I can’t leave her here in this forbidding world.

EDGe!” I cry, searching frantically all around for a sign of my beloved. I hear a wet rustling, like feet shuffling through the dead, dank leaves of the forest floor. And then, a feminine whimper. The sound is filled with such sorrow, dismay and pain that it rips at my soul. It sounds muffled as though she is trying not to sob.

EDGe! Where are you?” I plead. Laughter from multiple voices echoes back at me mockingly. The sound seems to come from everywhere at once. Hearing another sob, my heart stutters in my chest and I break into a frantic run towards the familiar voice of my EDGe. Fear for her safety fuels my desire to find her and I tear through the dark forest as fast as my legs can carry me, tripping and stumbling over the brambles, roots and vines that hide beneath the ghostly white fog of the forest floor. The incredible cold slashes down my throat and feels as though it will tear my lungs apart.

EDGe!” The sound of my own voice echoes back at me in a hollow scream, making me feel even more desperate and alone. I stop to listen and, as before, I see her bare feet. But the sight of them terrifies me as they are blue from the cold. Dear God, I hope it’s only from the cold. One foot seems lifeless and swollen. She’s not walking; she’s being dragged along by something I can’t see. She’s struggling, barely able to resist in her weakened condition. I don’t know how I know she has no strength left, but I know.

EDGe!” I scream her name and tear through the forest, catching just a glimpse of her feet as they disappear behind a gnarled old tree. “I’m coming baby, hold on!” The thought is in my head, yet I hear her weak and frightened reply.

Edward?”

She sounds so small and frail. Her voice is not playful and light as it has always been. She sounds afraid.

EDGe!” I’m out of breath and feeling panicked. “Where are you?” I whisper. I look around and, in the encroaching darkness, things begin to look familiar. I turn to where our tree is supposed to be.There! I can just barely see the deepest part of the V against the cold, black night. I begin to run towards it, but the tuxedo feels damp and heavy on my limbs.

EDWARD!” I hear her frantic cry in the night and charge through the darkness.

EDGe!”I scream in desperation. The sound echoes back to me in a contemptuous tone, as though the mist had become a living entity with the intelligence to torment me.

EDGe! EDGe! EDGe!” I hear deep, dark laughter that sounds like evil leaking from the very bark on the trees.

I have almost reached the tree. I can see her small, delicate hands clinging to the trunk. Her slender fingers clutch the spot where she usually reaches out to me. She grips the tree so tightly that her knuckles are white. She’s just a few feet away. I lunge through the blackness, though it seems the cold, the protruding roots, and the swirling fog all are living things, intent on stopping me. I will not be hindered. I will save her.

“Hold on, baby! I’m here!” I yell.

Edward? NNNNOoooooo!” She cries faintly, and I see her forearms and hands scrape across the bark of the tree, leaving her blood behind. I lunge to grab her hand but she’s gone…she’s just gone.

Oh, God! NO! EEDDDGGGEEE!”

I stumble and fall to the ground, disappearing beneath the white mist. I can just make out my hand on the forest floor as a drop of her blood falls onto it.

The sound that escapes me is the sound of an animal in agonizing pain.

Emmett bursts through my bedroom door, his gun drawn and ready to fire, with Jasper, Alice and Dean right behind him. Dean tosses Alice aside like a ragdoll, shoving her to safety behind him as he lunges past her, his weapon also drawn from the holster on his hip. Both guns are pointed directly at Bella and me.

I was propped up on one elbow with Bella buried in my chest. Clinging to me now, tears streaming from her eyes, I clutch her to me in terror and relief. Apparently, we woke up at the same time, both of us screaming. I was reaching for her, but she was shoving me away violently before realization hit that it had only been a dream. The look on her face as she’d been fighting me was one of pure horror and, as understanding that we were safe in bed dawned on her, her face crumpled and she began to sob.

“What is it Edward?” Emmett demanded. His eyes were flitting about the room looking for whatever psycho was threatening our lives.

“Dear God! Are you two all right? We heard you both screaming clear out in the hall!” Alice cried, peeking between the hulking forms of Emmett and Dean while Jasper clutched her shoulders in his hands, ready to pull her back away from any possible danger.

Both of us completely naked, Bella’s chest against mine, I pulled the sheet up over her bare back, doing what I could to buy her some privacy from the prying eyes of my family.

“We’re okay, Em. Give us a few minutes, please?” I insisted. Now completely confused, they all started slowly filing out the door, each one looking around the room for whatever it was that had caused our screams.

I lay back down, taking my tearful EDGe with me. Her arm wrapped itself tightly around my waist as I stroked her back and hair, soothing her until the sobs died away, all the while trying to calm my shattered nerves and figure out why she had been fighting me. We were having that same dream again {God I thought those damn things had stopped!} but, somehow, hers ended differently than mine. Well duh… you dope! Something had been dragging her through the forest and she was bleeding! You’re just the loser who can’t do anything to save her!

“EDGe, tell me about your dream,” I whispered soothingly. Bella buried her face deeper into my chest, wrapped her arms around me tighter, and shook her head no. I couldn’t blame her, really. I didn’t want to relive the dream either but, in truth, we would never stop reliving it until we talked about it, figured out what the hell it meant, and laid it to rest.

“I keep trying to save you in my dream, but I always fall short. When I woke up, you were fighting me, pushing me away. Our dreams are the same, but they end differently, EDGe. Tell me how your dream ends, baby. Maybe we can stop this.”

“You can’t save me, Edward,” she wept.

“If you tell me how your dream ends, I…”

“No! Edward, you don’t understand…you can’t save me!”

Bella wouldn’t say anything more than that. She just jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. Next thing I knew, Rose and Alice were rushing her off to her room to get ready for the interviews being held in the hotel conference room in a few hours. Of course, at the same time, they were pressuring me to get ready for them, as well.

From then on, I didn’t have five minutes alone with her. We were running late as it was. I was under the impression that Bella would be in the room with me for the interviews and that the interviewer would occasionally call her over to answer a few questions. That had been the plan in the beginning, but Bella’s sudden and explosive popularity had the interviewers pressuring Summit for private interviews with her. Summit had finally caved and agreed, so now I was separated from her and praying she’d be okay with that.

The interviews were back-to-back and quite grueling. As soon as they ended, I had a meeting with Bill Condon. For some reason I couldn’t fathom, he seemed kind of pissed off. I was too concerned for Bella and preoccupied by thoughts of our shared dream and her fighting me to care why he was pissed. Bill then went to meet with Bella while Jasper filled me in on the upcoming promo tour details, including the necessary changes that had to be made to include Bella in our travel plans. Perhaps that was what Bill was irritated about, the fact that Bella was continuing the tour with me. Well, screw him! If he wanted me to go on this tour, then Bella was coming with me, like it or not! As soon as the meeting with Jasper ended, I asked to see Bella. Jasper said she’d just been whisked away to get ready for the premiere as soon as she had finished her lunch. Well, Hell’s Bells! If I’d known today was going to be like this, I would have…I would’ve…I would’ve done nothing, as usual, just sat back and took it! I had no choice until this promo tour was over.

I ate a quick and lonely lunch all by myself. Bella’s abrupt absence from my life was profound. I’d been lonely in the past, at times, but never in my life had I felt so alone. She was like sunshine to me, the very air I breathed, and without her now, I felt like I was suffocating. I remembered making the Harry Potter movie and reading the books. The description of the Dementors had always fascinated me… “they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling; every happy memory will be sucked out of you.” That’s how it felt for me to be without Bella. I had no peace; I was restless and irritable. Everything seemed bleak and darker without her in the room. I had everything a man could want but, without Bella, it meant nothing.

Jasper soon returned to rush me off into the shower and to get ready for the red carpet appearance and the premiere. Thank God! Bella would be back by my side soon and I’d be able to breathe, smile, and feel joy again.

I emerged from my bedroom, completely ready for the evening’s events. But, when I headed for the bar to get a beer, something stopped me in my tracks. Jasper was pacing! My heart caught in my throat. Something was wrong! My gut instinct was telling me that something was terribly, terribly wrong! Never had I known Jasper be to anything but cool, calm, and collected at all times. Jasper was unflappable! Jasper never paced! But, by God, he was pacing the floor now!

“Spill!” I said. Jasper nearly jumped out of his skin.

“Oh, God! Edward, don’t do that. You startled me,” he said. His face smoothed to his normal calm demeanor, but the fact that his hand was still over his heart gave him away. He realized his error and very calmly put both hands behind his back as if it was nothing. He raised his chin and gave me his version of a calm smile. Who was the actor here? Apparently, my brother-in-law was trying his hand at it and failing miserably.

“Out with it, Jasper,” I demanded. I could feel the anxiety crawling up my skin. Something bad had happened and Jasper was extremely worried about telling me. I pushed my suit jacket back and put my hands on my hips.

“Out with what, brother?” he asked.

“Is Bella all right? Has something happened to her?” I could hear the panic in my own voice, but I didn’t care.

“She’s perfectly fine! Of course not! She should be here any minute!”

She should be here any minute…my heart leapt at the thought. I looked at my watch. We weren’t due to make an appearance for over 45 minutes! Something was seriously wrong.

“So, are you going to tell me what’s up or are you going to keep me guessing all night until it comes back to bite me in the ass?” I fumed, making my way over to the bar. Jasper’s actions had already told me I was going to need that beer pretty soon.

“I was going to tell you when Bella got here, but I suppose there’s no sense in waiting. Maybe you can help diffuse her reaction to this situation.” he said, all Southern charm and calm attitude. Jasper had a knack for keeping others calm by reacting the way he wanted you to act when he had a bomb to drop. I looked at him expectantly.

“Edward, you were papped,” he stated, as if that was the worst thing in the world that had ever happened to me. I snorted.

“Jesus, Jasper! You had me thinking it was something terrible! It’s not the first time I’ve been papped, bro. It is the premiere. It’s bloody expected.” I took a long swig from my beer bottle and soon wished I hadn’t. Jasper tossed a magazine onto the bar and that mouth full of Heineken spewed all over the bar. I gasped and started choking. The caption read…

Breaking Dawn Contest Rigged.

Superstar Edward Cullen and Lover Bella Swan conspire to make her famous.

Are Summit and Condon victims or co-conspirators?

There was a picture of Bella and me outside of Little Brown…kissing. As I was choking, Jasper slapped my back hard a couple of times and continued to explain.

“We’ve intentionally kept you and Bella separated and busy today to avoid any more publicity on this. Bill is severely pissed off and is, as we speak, making the one and only announcement to be made regarding this situation. Anyone who brings the subject up will be escorted off the premises. The official and true statement on this is that the contest was not fixed. Summit, Little Brown, Bill, Bella, you, nor anyone else, did anything, in any way, to rig this contest. You and Bella met for the very first time on Friday and it was love at first sight.

“They wanted to keep your relationship out of this entirely, but the pictures and accusations within this piece of trash publication have made that impossible. Bill, Summit and Little Brown have agreed to let you and Bella tell as much, or as little, as you wish about your relationship. However, they reminded me to tell you that, thus far, you have always been very secretive about your private life and that it would behoove you to maintain that trait as any sudden changes in your behavior would only serve to perpetuate the scandal. Furthermore, they suggest you do whatever you must to convince Bella to do the same.”

As Jasper talked, I glanced at the pictures of Bella and me and caught the gist and severity of the lies being told within the magazine. This fucking pap hadn’t missed a single detail. He had put two and two together and practically described our entire make-out session in the back of the limo yesterday. I’d been caught, quite literally, with my zipper down! I wasn’t too worried about my reputation, though. I had a feeling my fan base would support me, regardless. I knew the truth would eventually come out. Summit always covered their asses and the NDA was proof of that. If it came down to it, I was positive they could prove the fact that the contest had not been engineered and that Bella and I had nothing to do with choosing the winner.

To say that I was furious at this pap, was an understatement. If I ever got my hands on him, Jasper would soon be bailing me out of jail because I intended to pulverize him into the pavement for jeopardizing Bella’s future, her reputation, and her livelihood to promote this bullshit and no doubt line his pockets with gold.

I normally answered questions as I saw fit, with no direction from the studio hotshots. For once, I agreed with them, for multiple reasons. To change tactics now would, indeed, extend the scandal. What I did off screen was no one’s business but my own. My main concern would be breaking the news to Bella. This would humiliate her. My stomach did a slow, sickening roll-over at the thought of having to tell her this. So far Bella had been avoiding the questions about our private life like a pro. I hadn’t told her not to say anything. I knew from our conversations that she was a pretty private person so I imagined she would continue in the manner she had been but I wasn’t going to make her choose either way. I would tell her what had been said and she could make her own decisions. I was contractually bound to certain things but Bella was not.

“MEoW and the other blogs have they got wind of this, as well?” I asked.

“They have,” Jasper replied.

“And?”

“As ever, they stand behind you and Bella 100%.”

“This entire thing is based solely on these pictures, right? They know nothing about our private conversations as EDGe and E.C?”

“Correct. All parties involved in the contest are unaware of them, as well. However, the public is aware that Bella was a fan girl and that she ran a fan site. I’m sure it won’t take long for the name of the site to get around via word of mouth. If anyone should take a notion to hack into her site, if she saved all of your Private Messages…” Jasper let the statement and its implications trail off into oblivion. I knew I had to convince Bella to delete those conversations. I knew she was very sentimental and that she wouldn’t want to do it, but she had to, for her own safety and for the benefit of her career as a writer. I only hoped that Little Brown would not revoke her contract based on these lies. I was about to tell Jasper to do whatever it took to convince Little Brown to stand by their end of the deal, when someone knocked on the door. Alice floated in, grinning like a child on Christmas morning, followed by the smooth and graceful stride of my other sister, Rose. Uncharacteristically, Rose was smiling, as well. I could see Dean through the open door, but there was no sign of Emmett.

“What are you grinning about, my lovely?” Jasper asked Alice as she danced into his arms. Ahh, geeze! These two would give anyone cavities just by hanging around them! I was so glad I wasn’t like that with Bella.

“Oh, just the fact that Rose and I have fabulous taste! You better brace yourself, Edward. Bella is gonna knock you off your feet!” Alice placed her head on Jasper’s chest and grinned at me as he hugged her close.

“Where is she?” I asked. I felt like a junkie going through withdrawal. I was going to start ripping the place apart if I didn’t get to see her soon.

“She looks so amazing, we thought she deserved an escort,” Rose supplied, nodding towards the door. I turned to look and, even from here, I could see Dean’s jaw drop before he remembered where he was and regained his composure. Still, he couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. Buttoning my suit jacket, I took a few steps away from the bar out into the room and, when I looked up, I was left speechless, completely breathless, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my EDGe was a thief, for she had not only stolen my heart but the hearts of my entire family.

Alice and Jasper grinned like proud parents watching their daughter head off to her senior prom. Rose had a tear in her eye, although I was certain she would deny it later. Emmett was looking down on Bella as though she was his little sister and he was giving her away on her wedding day. Bella looked so small and delicate as she looked up at Emmett, smiling the loveliest smile I had ever seen. She looked positively breathtaking in that shade of blue. It was a full length gown made of some shimmery royal blue fabric. Over the top of that was a very thin sheer purple overlay. The dress flowed around her lithe body with each step that she took, making it appear as if she was floating on air. The color combination of blue and purple gave the impression of cool tropical waters ebbing and flowing, bowing to her will alone. A wide black bow at her waist was trimmed with a silver filigree buckle filled with diamond, sapphire and amethyst stones. The bodice was a strapless, heart-shaped piece of silver, blue and purple swirls with small black leopard spots on it. It was youthful, flirty, and fun while still remaining formal. Alice was indeed brilliant as was Rose. Her make-up was perfect, with that “barely there” look emphasizing her healthy glow. Bella’s dark auburn hair was in long, flowing curls down her back, pulled to one side of her head with a silver hair comb.

Taking her hand from Emmett’s arm, I twirled her around and she giggled as the gown swirled about her feet. Then I pulled her close to my chest. “You look like an angel,” I told her. I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven.

BPOV

Emmett was funny and charming as he walked me to Edward’s room, but the moment I saw Edward, no one else existed. He was positively stunning in his Italian suit, complete with lavender silk shirt, deep plum tie, and platinum and diamond cufflinks. He took my hand from Emmett’s arm and twirled me around. His eyes roamed approvingly over every inch of me, lingering for a moment too long on my pushed-up cleavage. “Boobage provided by Alice and her lingerie,” I thought with a grin.

“You look like an angel,” he proclaimed, and my heart thrilled that Edward Cullen had said those words to me.

“I feel like Grace Kelly in one of those old Fred Astaire movies, except I can’t dance,” I grinned up at him. His bronze hair was somewhat combed; however, I knew it would have that wild, sex hair appearance long before we got to the lobby or the red carpet.

“Neither can I.” he stated, matter-of-factly.

“No?” I asked. I could feel the blush in my face, thinking about last night. I would have sworn the man was an excellent dancer, ’cause he sure had some serious moves in the bedroom!

“Terrible.” Edward wrinkled his nose and shook his head. Oh, Lord! If all the girls on MEoW and Ed Attack could see that expression, they’d be squueeeing over how adorkable he was.

I looked up at him and smiled, and then he kissed me. So slow and so deep, it made me weak in the knees and I had to grip his arms to remain standing. It didn’t matter, though. Edward wrapped his arms around my waist and crushed me to his chest. He had been very gentle with me last night, although this morning was another story. I couldn’t help wondering how making love with Edward would be when we weren’t pressured for time, or worried over the fact that someone might walk in on us at any minute. His hot kisses made me wildly hungry, and not for food! I wanted to throw caution to the wind and release all the passion we possessed. Have him push me up against a wall, tear my clothes off, wrap my legs around him, and take me right there, standing up. Then we could really get serious!

“Ahem!” As though he could read my mind, Jasper cleared his throat to remind us we were not alone in the room. I felt the heat rush into my cheeks as I hid my face in Edward’s chest.

“Um, Edward? Shouldn’t you fill Bella in on all the latest developments? You have to leave soon to make all your red carpet interviews.”

JPOV

I’d been standing out here for hours trying to figure out how I was going to get close enough to Swan and Cullen to talk to them, and then how I was going to get them to fess up. I’d been here for Bill Condon’s warning speech and took it with a grain of salt. So what if they kicked me out? By the time they got to me, I’d have the pictures I needed, if I played my cards right. It wasn’t going to stop me from getting close to them, or asking the questions we were “banned” from asking. I just had to get my timing right. I had to decide if I would make my move before or after the screening of the movie. The entire crowd was talking about it in low whispers. Damn fools! None of them believed any of it. Here they all were, ready to have the pap responsible for this debacle lynched. Good thing they didn’t know it was me!

Every few minutes, I edged my way closer to the front. The velvet ropes were in place, but I had no intention of staying behind them. Cullen’s limo pulled up and the crowd went wild. I took this opportunity, when all the fan girls were screaming and jumping and bumping into each other, to force my way to the front. Cullen and his whore clambered out of the limo. To my surprise, Cullen’s zipper was up for a change and the Swan woman’s hair wasn’t mussed up. I guess Cullen had managed to keep it in his pants on the way over. Unfortunately for me, they went to the opposite side for pictures and autographs, which meant I couldn’t get near them until after the viewing of Breaking Dawn. I took as many quality pics as I could, all the while my mind was racing as to how I was going to break out of the crowd and get to them. I scanned the security surrounding Cullen. Usually, for major events like this, there were only two security guards – Dean and McCarty. But, tonight, there were an additional two. That would make my plans more difficult. They were probably there to protect “The Pretty” {that fucking nickname made me want to fucking puke} from the paps who were plotting to do exactly what I was planning on doing, now that their affair had been made public. I didn’t buy that “love at first sight” bullshit any more than the Man on the Moon! But it didn’t matter anyway. A reasonable doubt had been raised and the damage it would cause to Cullen was just beginning to boil.

I learned a long time ago that the key to being a good photo-journalist was patience and knowing exactly when to make your move. Luckily for me, my instincts were never wrong. Right now, my instincts were screaming at me to wait…to bide my time. My opportunity was coming very soon. I grinned at the thought as I snapped yet another picture.

Between the red carpet interviews and the general ass kissing of the fans {or was it the other way around?}, it took them a little over an hour to get inside. It had been more than two hours since they had disappeared inside and the crowds outside were growing restless. They must be on their way out by now. I had a plan as to what I would do, but I honestly didn’t think it had a snowball’s chance in hell of working. Yet my instincts were telling me I was on the right path and that an opportunity was coming that was even better than following the limo to Little Brown had been yesterday. Whispers among the crowd began to grow. At first it sounded like leaves rustling. Then it swelled to the sound of rushing water before erupting into ear-piercing screams. Cullen and the Swan tramp were back on the red carpet.

The closer they came to my end of the line, the more positive I was that my plan would not work and yet my instincts were telling me to wait…it was coming. With every step in my direction, I grew more excited. I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t know what to expect, but I could feel it in the air like an electrical charge.

My instincts were dead on.

I saw it coming before anyone else and my camera was snapping pictures nonstop. From the other side of the red carpet, I saw him make his move. I knew this guy. He was a down and dirty pap, a man after my own heart. I think his name was Laurent. He had a strange accent that was a mixture of French and something else I couldn’t identify. Laurent had done gone crazy though, because he lunged over the velvet rope and was running headlong for Cullen. His dreadlocks were flying as he charged across the red carpet. Halfway to Cullen, he started snapping pictures like crazy. Hell, at that angle, none of the pictures were going to turn out! He must have been desperate to get the story, any story, or a reaction from Cullen and his posse. I knew what it was like to be desperate for a story, hungry both for success and for some food in your stomach and unable to get either one. Then Laurent started screaming accusations at Cullen.

“Is it true? Did you to rig the contest? Have you fucked her yet? Is she any good in the sack? She doesn’t look like she would be. Does she give good head? A mouth like that, she should! How’d you do it? How’d you get your girlfriend picked as the winner? Was there ever really a contest? Is this ho-bag worth your career?”

It must have stunned everyone because Laurent was practically in Cullen’s face before any of the bodyguards thought to react. For a split second, they all just stood there with their mouths gaping wide open. Too bad Laurent wasn’t packing a weapon. Cullen would be dead by now. Apparently, they weren’t used to anyone hating on, or threatening, the goofy, sparkly vampire.

As McCarty, Dean and the others got their heads out of their asses and rushed to Cullen’s aid, Cullen swept his arm around behind him, grabbed Swan and pushed her behind him. He started backing her towards the limo, towards me, while it took all 4 bodyguards to tackle Laurent to the ground. Thinking Swan was safe, Cullen lunged forward to lend a hand and sling a few verbal insults at Laurent. McCarty left the skirmish and grabbed Cullen away from the scuffle and started yelling at him to stay out of it before he got hurt and said something that might get published later on. Cullen was yelling back at him while the other three bodyguards still thrashed on the ground with Laurent. He was small but tough, determined, and not going down easily.

McCarty was wrestling with Cullen to keep him from attacking the pap, who was still putting up one hell of a fight, yelling obscenities at Cullen about his cheap slut of a girlfriend and their cheating plot to manipulate the contest. I couldn’t help but giggle a bit. My plan was working brilliantly, regardless of Bill Condon’s statement. Little-by-little, word would spread and Cullen would eventually fall from his ivory tower.

To my utter amazement and delight, Swan stood alone, unguarded, right next to the limo. Everyone was so busy fighting, or watching the struggle with Laurent, or the argument with Cullen and McCarty, that they had all forgotten about Swan.

I fucking love my job!

I jumped the velvet rope and started taking pictures of her right off. Unlike Laurent, I watched my angle and kept my voice low, calming, and smooth. If she didn’t see me as a physical threat, she may actually let something slip before her mind had a chance to register the fact.

“So is it true, Miss Swan? How did you rig the contest?” Click, click, click.

“I didn’t!” she said, looking startled. Click, click, click.

“So, it was Cullen’s doing, then! I thought so! How’d he do it?” Click, click, click.

I was snapping pictures left and right, moving around her like a panther stalking his prey. I walked around her time and again and she followed me like an idiot, always giving me a perfect view of her expressions. It was pure gold! These pictures on my new digital camera were going to be worth a fortune. If I played my cards right, I could drag this out and dole out the pictures for more than a week, claiming claim top dollar from the highest bidder.

“NO! He didn’t do anything!” she exclaimed. I didn’t dare look back at Cullen or the others for fear it might remind her that she had help just a few feet away and she would remember to call out to them. “Edward is a good man! He’s honest and kind! He’s the best person I know!”

Oh, fucking gag me now! I thought.

“Really? Have you known him long? Longer than this premiere weekend, right?” Click, click, click. Click, click, click. She looked stunned. Her hands were visibly shaking and she looked a little unsteady on her feet. She was trying to get around me now, so I was no longer circling her but bobbing back in forth in front of her trying to prevent her escape. Click, click, click.

“Admit it, Swan.; You cooked this whole thing up, didn’t you?” Click, click, click. “The two of you plotted it together…” Click, click, click. “…You planned and schemed and found a way to cheat.”Click, click, click. “You’ve known each other for a long time, haven’t you?” Click, click, click.

She looked like she was about to cry now. Unable to get by me, she started backing up. Her hand was fisted and she held it against her cheek as she shook her head. Her other hand was across her stomach as though she was about to be sick. Good! I wanted her to puke!

Click, click, click. “You fucked him, didn’t you?” Click, click, click. “America’s sexiest man alive and you spread your legs as wide as you could, didn’t you? Click, click, click. “Tell me, what’s it like to fuck a multimillionaire?” Click, click, click. “I bet it was better than fucking a cheap ass whore like you!” Click, click, click. “Did you give him a blowjob in the back of that limo?” Click, click, click.“How long have you been fucking him, Swan? Cause I know you’ve known him longer than this weekend.” Click, click, click. My verbal slurs towards her didn’t seem to be working. She’d clammed up and I wanted her to get mad and say something she wasn’t supposed to say. I decided to change tactics.

“What do you see in him, anyway” click, click, click, click, click, click. “He’s a gangly dork with freakish hair.” click Click, click, click.

“Shut up! He’s a beautiful man inside and out!” she cried.

“Yeah, right! He’s got wonky legs and mutant fingers. He’s like some kind of weird circus freak who’s escaped his pen.” Click, Click, click, click.

Shut your mouth! You don’t know him! You know nothing about him!” Click, click, click, click. ” He’s..” click, Click, click, click.

“He’s an asshole, is what he is.” Click, click, click, click. “A cocky, arrogant, British fuck! With no brain filter and no brains!” Click, click, click, click. Bingo! That pushed her buttons.

Shut your fucking mouth!” she screamed at me. Her raised voice finally caught Cullen’s attention and all hell broke loose again. It was exactly what I wanted but I knew I only had seconds left before I’d be tackled to the ground like Laurent. Cullen, McCarty, Swan and I were all yelling at the same time. It was complete chaos and I loved it.

HEY! Get away from her! Bella! No!” Cullen practically flew past McCarty. His lighter weight and longer legged stride guaranteed he’d reach me before McCarty could. But not before I could royally piss her and Cullen off! Swan began smacking me about the head and shoulders with her hand bag, screaming at me about how wonderful Cullen was and what low-life scum paps were. I didn’t care; I just kept getting closer and closer and snapping picture after picture. I knew every click of my camera was hundreds of dollars in my pocket. Every step I took towards her she stepped backward but stayed within range of beating me with her purse.

Edward! Stop! Dean! Get over here!”McCarty yelled as he lunged after Cullen.

“He’s a complete fucktard. Everyone knows it.” Click, click, click, click. I egged her on. I knew I couldn’t bring a lawsuit against her for hitting me with a tiny hand bag. Click, click, click, click. But I could get Cullen mad enough to say too much! That’s when I messed up. Knowing Cullen and McCarty were mere seconds from tackling me, I pressured the Swan woman even more, edging closer and closer to her. Too close, now. When I heard Cullen’s footsteps, I whirled around to get a few pictures of his angry face as he was running towards me but, in turning, I literally knocked the Swan woman to the ground. Her high heeled foot slipped between the limo tire and the curb, jamming there as she continued to fall. She twisted her body trying to right herself, but she fell backward, banging her shoulder and head on the curb.

BELLA!”Cullen screamed. He fell to his knees in front of her just as McCarty grabbed me. McCarty maneuvered his arms through mine, then interlaced his fingers against the back of my neck, effectively pinning my arms and head so that I couldn’t move. I held fast to my camera with both hands. The grip McCarty had on me would have been much more comfortable had I let go of the camera with one hand, but I wasn’t taking any chances and I wasn’t done trying to get my fair share of Cullen’s fortune.

Cullen was fussing over Swan, trying to help her up, but her foot was lodged between the tire and the curb so tightly she couldn’t even wriggle out of her shoe. Her shoulder was scraped pretty badly and all scuffed up, but she’d live.

“What’s the matter, Cullen? Is my story starting to bite you and your girlfriend in the ass? The truth hurts, don’t it?” I taunted him. I was sure I’d get a few good shots of him when he turned around. I heard a guttural cry just seconds before Cullen whirled around and lunged for my throat. Dean grabbed him by the waist and held him at bay, but just barely. Click, click, click, click. I snapped a few pictures of his enraged face as he fought to escape Dean and attack me. I hadn’t gotten the confession I’d been hoping for, but something far better. The money I would make from all these pics would buy me Fort Knox! I was content for the night.

Your story? You wrote this propaganda? You son of a bitch! If you ever lay a fucking hand on her again, so help me God, I will destroy you! Get this piece of shit out of my sight before I kill him.” Cullen demanded.

“Oh, lighten up, Cullen. I got what I came for and your little tramp will be fine!” I said, grinning. There was another guttural yell from Cullen as he lunged for me. Dean’s footing slipped and Cullen escaped his grasp. At the same time, McCarty tried to yank me out of his reach. Cullen’s hands came down on my brand new camera and smashed it to the ground. Before Dean could stop him, Cullen stomped on it and kicked it as hard as he could.

My career was destroyed.