Waiting in the Twilight chapter 25

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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.