Author: Chanse Lowell PM
AH/AU E&B Cancer kills, but so can Edward's overwhelming desires to cure the world of it. But things change when he's pulled into a conspiracy involving 10 colonists, recently returned from planet Deluvia with physical changes from inhaling gnats. Only 1 woman knows all the secrets to this miracle cure, and Edward fights the urge to make her his own. *ON HIATUS*Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Sci-Fi - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 10 - Words: 34,795 - Reviews: 75 - Favs: 45 - Follows: 68 - Updated: 03-01-13 - Published: 12-30-12 - id: 8854928
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
October 25th, 2023
Isabella had just returned from a visit to Earth.
She still couldn't find this man that was supposed to be hers.
Her entire soul ached like it had been trampled repeatedly.
And it had in many ways.
Where was he?
She stretched out on her couch.
It was good to be back on Deluvia, but she had a hard time feeling settled, knowing he was on Earth, possibly feeling like a half a wretched being as well.
"Knock, knock," Jayanc said, poking his head in her front door.
She waved him in with a limp arm.
"Back from your trip already? Josh told me you cut it short. What happened?" he asked.
"Nothing worth talking about, besides, I'm too tired to even think about it."
"That bad?" He gave her a sympathetic look.
"Yeah," she breathed. Her toes wiggled, her feet propped up on the cushion in front of her.
"Well, unfortunately, I have something you need to deal with, right now, Highness."
She glared at him. "Not when you call me that, I don't."
"Oh, sorry," he said, faking an innocent smile.
She stared at the blue star tattoo on his inner arm.
"Do you ever get tired of defending me and watching my back? Aren't you sick of it by now? Aren't you dying to just have weeks to yourself, doing whatever the hell you want?" She blew some hair out of her face.
"Not really. What else do I have besides you?" He blinked, his eyes wide.
"You have everything I want." She settled her hands on her stomach. "You have a spouse that adores you and doesn't act like you're vermin she squashed under her shoe. You have stability, a lovely home—I wonder if I'll ever have any of those things." Her eyes shifted around the room.
"You have a home too. You've set down deep roots here, and your people would be devastated if you ever did decide to truly leave and take up residence on Earth."
"Deluvia's a beautiful place, and it calls to me on some level, but it's not where I truly belong. Not while Mada's still in charge," she replied.
"He's not in charge of you. We've made sure of that," he said.
She smiled in a patronizing way. "He rules Eden. This is his place, not mine. I hide in the forest like some wandering vagrant, building houses in the canopy where he can't see me or my few loyal followers, when all I want is for them to have lots and lots of babies they can love and enjoy. They don't need this. It's not the kind of existence I want for these families." She exhaled in a long, tired stream of exhaust.
"No one's complaining. We're much happier here in hiding than we ever were in Nede. Adam's a vicious tyrant. It about killed me to watch him treat those I love so cruelly on a daily basis. I'd rather die in these trees, here with you, than spend one damn day in his presence. His city disgusts me. I don't care how beautiful and pristine it is. It's been built on centuries worth of criminal activities." He took her hand.
She allowed it, her eyes following his hands. Her body stiffened.
"You're my queen. I'll die for you, Majesty. That's my solemn vow," he whispered.
She blinked and could barely stand to sit here, letting him go on like this. His heart was so exposed, it was scaring her.
She sat up. "Jayanc, I don't require your life. I don't want that from you. You're a wonderful friend, the only one I truly have here, but never think I want that from you." She took her hand back and set it on her lap. "Now, tell me what requires my attention."
"We have visitors, and I didn't know if you wanted Mada's men to get to them first, or if we should intercept," he reported.
"Any chance you know who these people are and what they want?" She yawned and stretched her legs out, lengthening them. She wanted to crash into bed and sleep for the next century until the man she was looking for found her.
"We did a little intel. It looks like they're colonists here to mine and prepare for future Earth inhabitants to join them. They're on the furthest outskirts of town. They seem harmless enough. They're not even aware there's any indigenous life here."
She smiled. "I'm sure they'll be shocked when you ride out to meet them." She sighed and chuckled. "Bring the leader's female. I'll have a chat with her. Don't use force, and don't harm anybody. I don't need bloodshed on my hands. If she refuses, then I'll go see her. Right now, I want to rest a little. I've got some serious jet lag," she said.
He nodded. "Rest please. We want to celebrate your return, and we can't do that if you're half-dead and barely coherent."
"I will. But don't hesitate to wake me when you bring her here."
He gulped. "Surely, you don't mean to reveal your own personal home to her?"
His spine went rigid as he hovered over her. "That's not safe!"
"Bullshit," she said.
He flinched. She never cursed, but she was too tired to care.
"If Mada's men catch her or her group, they could reveal where you are."
"I don't care," she said, glaring at him. "Go get her."
"I'll bring her to my place instead," he offered.
"You sure as hell won't if you don't want me to replace you as my head bodyguard. You said yourself she's not dangerous. They don't even realize there are people living here."
"B-but, Isabella . . ."
"Jayanc. I know what I'm doing. Get her. Bring her here to my home. Enough discussion. I'm tired. I'm going to sleep. Don't rush on my account." She flipped her wrist at him, shooing him away.
"As you so desire," he huffed and turned to go. "Rest well."
She chuckled. "Shut up. You're too uptight. I haven't been caught in the last several thousand years."
"No, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. You haven't been caught because we're always careful."
She raspberried. "Live a little. Go home, make love to your wife, and then go get this woman. I need you to loosen up."
He turned several shades of embarrassed red.
She laughed and snuggled down into her couch, dragging her legs up onto the furniture, and curling into a loose ball.
"See you soon," he murmured and let himself out.
Isabella's sleep was all disjointed, and she had nightmare after nightmare, of finding this man, but he was always emaciated and covered in blood soaked gnats. She'd swat at them, try to free him, but nothing she did would break them off him.
He died in her arms over and over. She'd bring him back with her soulshare, but then the gnats would suck him dry moments later.
She woke up crying, her gut feeling like it was about to fall out of her.
Her head ached and she ran her hand over the scar from Eve's attack that now seemed like it was a lifetime ago.
This body was imperfect, but she never took it for granted.
What she had to do to get it . . .
She got up and dragged herself to the kitchen, made herself a sandwich and grabbed a beer.
Shoulda brought more soda and beer back from Earth. They had such unusual food. There was nothing like that here.
She sighed and almost inhaled both her food and drink.
When her stomach could fit no more, she went back to her perch on the couch.
She grabbed her phone and contemplated having Jayanc go through the work of clearing the pathways so she could send Father a quick text and scold him for not warning her these colonists were coming to Deluvia.
But then he'd probably laugh and give his standard response, that it was all part of the plan and was already mapped out.
That damn map.
She was sick of hearing about it.
Her spine curled into the sofa, rounding in on herself.
"Knock, knock," Jayanc said, poking his head in.
She knew why. He hated how she never locked her door.
If Mada's men wanted her, they weren't going to let a stupid lock stop them. They'd smash her door in, and anyway, all of her people were welcome to come visit her at anytime they chose.
She was always open to them.
"You have somebody for me to see?" she asked.
"I do. She's . . . interesting," he replied.
"Well, quit being a jerk. Let her in." She waved him in, her energy levels much better than when he had been here earlier.
But she still needed to regenerate fully. When this was over, she'd go visit the red dirt of Sholah—the place of Eve's death, and her birth into this new life.
Oh, how she needed to be covered in it.
Her toes tingled at the mere thought.
She sat and waited, looking less than regal.
Jayanc opened the door wider, and took a woman into the room then set her into the center.
"Welcome to my home," Isabella said. She stood, approached her and extended her hand.
The woman's sandy blonde, disheveled hair fell forward on her shoulders when she dropped her head, and her hazel eyes turned to slits. "Who are you? And why was I brought here?"
Isabella pursed her lips and leaned to the side, shoving her guard. No wonder the woman refused to shake hands. He hadn't told her a damn thing about the purpose of this meeting. "Jayanc—you didn't even tell her what this was about?"
"Sorry," he murmured, rubbing his arm where she'd pushed.
"You're safe here," Isabella began, turning back to the lady. "I only wanted to make you aware of another group of people here. They're not the nicest around. You'll want to avoid them. Tell your people to never move past this part of the forest, because beyond it is a massive city, and it's called Nede. Mada's the ruler there, and he doesn't like outsiders. If you need anything from my people, I'd be happy to help out."
The woman looked wary and failed to blink or breathe.
"You can relax. Take a seat. I'll get you a beer," Isabella said, then remembered her manners. "Oh, I'm Isabella, by the way. Feel free to call me Bella instead if you want to, but most of my people refuse to do that. They act like I'm royalty or something." She rolled her eyes and chuckled. "Nonsense. I'm a . . . Well, I'm nothing. Not worth knowing, really, but—"
"She's only the most important woman that ever lived," Jayanc cut her off. "We all protect her with our life because there's nobody like her."
The woman stepped back and looked worried. "I'm Mischor Luiko, and we don't want any trouble. We had no idea there were any life forms here. We only wanted to . . ."
"Yeah, we know what you want. It's fine. Just stay out of trouble because I don't relish the thought of having to kill any of Mada's people if they get ahold of you or our queen," Jayanc answered.
"We won't cause trouble. We get paid to do a job, and we travel between here and Trilosia. We're not supposed to go outside our assigned areas, so you can be sure we won't ever be stumbling upon this city."
"Good," Jayanc huffed. He crossed his arms over his chest.
"Sit. Relax. I'll get a drink, and we can chat for a little bit. I like having visitors," Isabella told her.
Mischor took a seat but sat on the edge of the cushion, like she wanted to be ready to bolt any second.
"So, are you people al-aliens?" Mischor stammered.
"Hardly." Isabella threw her head back and laughed a lot louder this time. "You people and your ideas… Honestly. Cracks me up."
"Well, what are you then?"
"You come from us," Jayanc said. "We populated your world."
Mischor's expression went blank and her face paled. "No way."
"Where do you think you came from?" he challenged.
"God?" Mischor's voice shook.
"Yeah, and he created us first. We've been here a hell of a long time. Life doesn't come from nothing. Didn't you ever think it was odd that your maker didn't give you instructions?"
Mischor gaped. "He did! We have the Bible!"
Isabella laughed so hard now, she doubled over. "Yeah, and Mada's the Wizard of Oz."
Mischor looked around the place, her eyes darting like a scared, trapped animal.
"Look, the Bible's his way of pissing on Isabella's leg. It started out as her libel, her divorce papers. He mocked it, turned it into a bunch of crazy stories to make her mad. It was his idea of getting back at her for divorcing him. He put it in the hands of a few people on Earth, and it circulated so quickly, we couldn't correct it." Jayanc's forearms flexed.
"This is impossible," Mischor balked, her eyes wide and her face pulled taut against her high cheek bones.
He threw her a nasty look. "Fine. Don't believe it."
"Jayanc. Go keep watch outside." Isabella approached him from behind and set a hand on his tensed shoulder. "I'll take it over now."
He gave her a pleading, haunted look.
She leaned in and whispered in his ear, "She doesn't need to know all this. It's not important for her to know."
He nodded and padded his way out the door.
Once he was gone, she sat next to her guest, gave her a beer and smiled. "Make yourself at home. Feel free to eat, drink, use the bathroom. Let me know if you have any questions." Isabella propped her legs back up on the cushion and ran her hands into her hair, fanning it out behind her in a handheld ponytail.
"I have no idea what to ask now."
"How about name, rank, serial number? Always works for me," Isabella teased.
"I'm not military," Mischor responded.
"Nope, and neither am I. Just a woman, trying to find a man."
Mischor suddenly shifted and turned toward her. "What man?"
Isabella waved her off. "Psht! It's not important. I'm a hopeless romantic—a dreamer. Don't mind me. I drive people nuts. It's probably best you don't ask about him."
"Is he special too?"
"He is." Isabella stared at the wall, almost seeing past it. "The most important man ever, and I already know I'll never deserve him, but I can't stop myself from searching the entire universe for him. If I could . . ." She licked her lips, blinked and shook her head, trying to get out of this fog. "It'll all work out in the end. I can't force it, so I need to stop trying."
"Where is he?"
"On Earth." Isabella turned to Mischor and smiled warmly. "I've never had a female friend before. Can you share what it's like?"
"I don't have them either. I work all the time, and my husband's not . . ."
"Not what? Is he controlling?"
"No, but he wants me around him at all times. I'm not great company." Mischor frowned.
Isabella patted her hair down and then set her hands back down on the couch. "I like you just fine. You seem like nice company to me."
"Thank you. You have an odd way of making me feel settled," Mischor said.
"Really? How'd I do that?" Isabella's chest warmed.
"I don't know—I think maybe it's the way you talk to me like I'm the most important person in the world."
"Well, aren't you?"
"Not according to that man that barely left out your door." Mischor paused and wrinkled her nose while her shoulders hunched up. "Jayanc was it?"
"Yep. That's the one. He's a keeper." Isabella chuckled and crossed her right ankle over her left.
"A keeper of hornets. I don't think he likes me," Mischor said.
"Aw, he's harmless. He's mad at me because he thinks I'm being reckless in bringing you here to my home. But I can tell you won't betray me. You're a good person. I can see straight into your heart. You're searching for someone too, aren't you?"
"I'm married," Mischor squeaked.
"Yeah, but you don't love him, or maybe he doesn't love you. I'm not sure which it is yet, but you're discontentment is easy to see." Mischor opened her mouth as if to protest, so Isabella continued on, "It takes another miserable woman to discern it."
"Oookay," Mischor drawled.
Isabella reached over and patted her arm. "Don't worry. I won't tell anybody. I can't—I don't have any friends except my few bodyguards and now you. And I never betray a friend."
Mischor's brow scrunched above her nose and her lips crinkled into a smile. "You're very odd."
"Yep. Part of my hermit charm." Isabella chuckled and motioned to the drink. "Enjoy it. I brought it back from my recent trip to Arizona."
"Arizona?" Mischor's voice went from ice to fire in no time at all.
"Yeah. You know that place?"
"I live in Phoenix." Mischor released a shaky breath.
"I love Phoenix. I hope to live there someday," Isabella said, beaming at her. She shifted in her seat, sinking lower into the couch. "So, have you managed to avoid breathing in our little floaters?"
"The bugs, saturating the air," Isabella answered.
"I . . . We're not allowed to comment on that," Mischor said, looking uncomfortable, her mouth tucking into a tight, sparse line of secrecy.
Isabella inhaled deeply, yawned and shook her head in tiny increments. "Ah, government cover-up. Gotta love that."
"I wouldn't know," Mischor said, her voice distant and tinny.
"Well, if you get in a tight scrape because of these flying nasties, here's someone that can help—also involved in government. His name's Josh, and he's a personal friend of mine." Isabella dug out a business card from the drawer in the side table next to her.
"Friend?" Mischor's brows rose. "You mean bodyguard?"
"I'm not allowed to comment on that," Isabella teased.
For the first time, Mischor cracked a smile and stifled a chuckle. "Like I said—odd woman."
"And like I said—don't have a lot of friends, especially women. Now you know why." Isabella whistled for a second, pretending to mind her own business.
And that's when Mischor reached out, shoved her playfully, and Isabella shoved her back.
"Until now . . ." Isabella smiled brilliantly at her.
"Until now," Mischor confirmed with a nod.
They spent a few hours after that, chatting and becoming fast friends.
Isabella had never felt this free and happy in another woman's company.
It was amazing to be able to confide simple, mundane annoyances to someone of the same gender.
When Mischor was at the door, about to leave, Isabella pulled her into a hug. "I'll protect you and your people. You have my word."
"We don't need protection—we'll be fine," Mischor argued.
"Of course you will, because I'll be watching you like a hawk from the trees."
They both laughed, hugged once more, and Isabella watched her friend drift down the stairs with Jayanc, brooding behind her.
"Bye, Mischor. Take care. I'll see you again soon!" Isabella called.
They both waved, and the canopy swallowed her new friend up and took her out of sight.
A haughty azangt fluttered by, keeping a distance from her, and Isabella reached out, smashed it to oblivion, and blew it off her hand like a piece of dust—a minor annoyance not worth thinking about for more than a nanosecond.
"Leave my friend alone," she muttered to the dead bug and stepped back inside her empty, quiet, and pathetic home.
Thank you to Judyblue95, my pre-reader/beta. She does a fabulous job, and her encouragement is much appreciated for this most unusual story!