Chapter 7

Blood screams her brain as they chop off her fingers
Blood will be born in the birth of a nation
Blood is the rose of mysterious union

– "Peace Frog", Jim Morrison and The Doors


"Get. Your. Shit."

I stare at Edward while his words sit in my ears not making sense, and not making their way to my brain. Is his fury aimed at me? Does he think I invited Mike in? I look at Mike again, his pants lying open, exposing his gray underwear. My mind starts to fly in a thousand directions, caught up in the chaos of what has just happened. He has to see what the real story is here, doesn't he? I look back up to his flaming eyes and try to wrap my head around everything. Edward being angry over something that's been done to me doesn't feel right in my gut. I also don't understand what it is that he's asking me to do, so I start with the easier of the questions.

"Get what shit?" I ask, sitting up on the bench and placing a shaky hand on my pounding cheek. I cringe at the connection and close my eyes. I can't see him, but I know he's moving closer to where I am, his presence surrounds me in a strange sort of peace as it always does, regardless of the underlying madness that is always within him.

I'm surprised by the contact when I feel his hand lightly tipping my chin up and to the right. The heat from this first touch of Edward's skin on mine burns me, imprints on my being, and spreads through my body like fire. With slowly opening eyes, I see him looking at my cheek, before he releases me and moves the hair away from where it's covering my pulsing skin. His gentle touch belies his intensity as he traces his nails along the mark I'm sure Mike has left on me.

Edward opens his mouth to speak, and when it comes, his voice is low, an almost frightening whisper. "He got much more mercy from you and that knife than he ever would've gotten from me."

I swallow, my throat dry and scratchy. "You're not angry with me? For Mike being here? I swear I didn't let him in." I feel the quiver in my voice and look at Edward with searching eyes.

He takes his fingers from my cheek, and I feel the loss immediately. He blinks at me and takes a step back. "Angry at you…the fuck for?" He pulls at his hair, the strands threatening to snap in his fingers. "I'm fucking angry at myself, Bella. I should've been here earlier. That motherfucker…" he trails off and turns in the direction of Mike's limp body.

He stands over him for a moment, and I can almost feel the sharp pain in my own hand as I see his nails dig into his palms. I watch as with a swift jerk of his leg, Edward's boot comes down hard, directly on Mike's crotch.

I gasp at the sudden violence of it, and Edward turns fiercely back to me. "What did he do to you, Bella? What the fuck did he do?" His eyes are a mixture of rage and devastation, and I hold my breath as he yells, stupefied at the concern he is gracing me with.

"Nothing! He," I motion to my cheek, "did this. I fought him off, Edward; I wouldn't let him touch me! That's when the knife…" With a loud sob, I start to cry, the events of the evening finally ganging up on me and wreaking havoc with my already frayed nerves.

Edward moves back to me, and I watch as his boot catches and leaves a scuff in Mike's blood. He gets down on one knee and leans in close to me. "Good girl, Bella. The guy fucking deserved this, I'm so fucking proud of you." The look of wonder in his eyes drags me in and hypnotizes me. He looks amazed, gratified at what I'd done, and I have never felt so accepted in my life. I'm desperate to kiss him right there, regardless of the dead thing in the room with us. I can't imagine a better first kiss. Edward breaks the spell he places over me when he speaks, "But we have to go. Now."

"We're going? Where?" I ask, puzzled by his demand and still cloudy with the inappropriate timing of wanting his lips on mine.

"We can't stay here. You can't stay here."

"It was self-defense, surely they'll see that." I think of the snapped fishing wire, the fingerprints Mike would've left on the handle, and my red cheek. "I should call my father. He'll believe us." Tears return to pour down my face, hot and wet with fear and worry.

I swipe hard at my cheek and suck in a breath at the sting. Edward waits until I'm looking at him again, and he scoffs, "He doesn't fucking know me, Bella, and I sure as shit don't have the best rep around here."

I shake my head. "You didn't do anything wrong. It was all me, they'll be able to prove that." Edward turns in a circle with his hands back in his hair, listening to my argument. "Give me the phone, Edward. You can leave, right now. I'll be ok."

At my words, he turns back to me, his eyes flashing. "I'm not fucking leaving you here in this shit, Swan."

I start to panic. "It's ok, I'll be ok. I can..."

"Jesus Christ Bella! Think about it for one damn second!" His voice barks at me and makes me lurch back onto the bench seat. His eyes soften when he sees my distress. "Do you honestly want to stay here after this even if they believe you?" He leans down closer to me. "Do you really want to be the girl that fucking killed someone like her mother did?"

His eyes stay on mine, trying to get me to see his point. I look at him, the remnants of today's eyeliner smudged around his imploring glare, and I finally get it.

Edward Masen is trying to protect me, but not from the police, or jail or whatever will come my way if I'm accused of this crime. Edward Masen is playing guardian angel, saving me from a life that is about to get twenty times shittier than it already is.

The urge to fling my arms around his neck is strong, but I just nod. Even if I hadn't just killed Mike Fucking Newton, if Edward Masen is asking me to leave with him, I'm not going to hesitate. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll follow him anywhere.

I stand and start in the direction of my room on wobbly legs, forgetful of the blood, and catch myself before stepping in it. A shiver runs through me, so I hurry to my room and grab my backpack, emptying its measly school contents onto my bed.

I start pulling clothes out of my dresser when I hear Edward yell through the trailer, "Not too much. This can't look planned. Don't even bring a bag." I nod silently to myself, following his direction even if I don't quite understand what he means. I don't assume anyone will think I planned on shoving Edward's knife into Mike's filthy stomach.

I put the contents that have spilled across my bed back into the bag and drop it onto the floor. Grabbing a few shirts, a pair of jeans and some underwear, I look around for anything else I want before grabbing my favorite Doors shirt from my laundry pile. I dig around in a drawer for my momma's old makeup bag, the one with the small amount of money stashed inside, and shove everything into a Publix plastic bag before making my way out into the small hallway.

"Oh!" I turn back around and run to my bed, reaching under my pillow to grab the CD that has lulled me to sleep just by being there for the past few days.

Walking back into the dimly lit main room, I see Edward crouching over the lifeless body. He looks up as he sees me approach, and I notice that the fingertips of his left hand are covered in blood, five dots in the red liquid below him removed and showing the floor underneath. "What…?" I start to question, before he cuts me off.

"Are you done?" he asks sharply, as he stands to his full height.

"Yes," I nod, and step over the puddle in front of me, which is starting to congeal and turn into a dark, motionless stain. I nervously stand at Edward's side and watch the end of a cigarette he'd lit glow when he inhales. He throws his head back to let the smoke out with a sigh; like it's the best drag he's ever had, before he drops the butt on the kitchen floor and stomps it with his bloody boot.

"Rot in hell, motherfucker," he sneers towards Mike, and I look down into the unmoving boy's eyes. They're open, staring back at me and glazed over with death. I don't quite know how I feel about what I've done.

"Edward, what about the knife?" I ask, as I stand in place, my panic returning as the wood handle catches my eye, still sticking from Mike's gut. "Should we take it out?"

"Nope. Leave the fucker right where it is. Let's go." He shakes his head and smiles, an obvious gleam in his eye. "I have more knives."

"But it has your initials on it," I argue. Part of me is incredulous that we'd leave the weapon behind, and part of me is upset about the loss of my talisman.

It's then that I realize what his intentions are. My head snaps from the knife to Edward. "You want them to think it's you!" I gasp in shock, my mouth hanging open. "No, no, no!" I take a step back, and when he notices, he walks over to me.

The second time Edward Masen touches me is better than the first. His hands come up on either side of my face, the right one careful of my bruising, and he stoops a little to meet my stare. "It can't be you, Bella. I won't let it happen." I don't understand how he could be doing this for me; my mind is swimming with the why's of it all. He interrupts my thoughts. "I wasn't going to be here much longer anyway. Let them think what they want." His eyes move back and forth across mine. "Are you coming with me?"

There is no hesitation. "I don't want to do anything else."

The need for him to kiss me is back, and for a moment, I let myself imagine his lips lowering themselves to mine. A lively kiss surrounded by death.

Instead, Edward releases my face and starts to walk out of the trailer. When he doesn't hear me following, he looks back and reaches his hand out for the bag, his eyes searching mine as I hand it over. With a nod, I close the poor excuse for a door behind me and follow in line with his footsteps. Our hasty retreat through the dirt goes unnoticed in the silent darkness of my dismal trailer park.

Edward Masen is taking me. To where, I have no idea. As we pass the Welcome! sign, I twirl around and wave happily at the family watching us go while Edward gives them the finger. A final fuck you to a sign that I'll hopefully never see again.


We walk in silence on the unpaved back roads towards the highway, the evening's events repeating like a loop through my mind. Even though my cheek is still throbbing, I'm nonetheless high on the adrenaline of the attack and the cavalry coming to my aid. My knight in not-so-shining armor is chain-smoking, flicking his spent cigarettes into the bushes. His other hand carries his leather jacket as our walk in the humid night air has made us both break out into a sweat. "You don't have any clothes," I say suddenly, the first thing that has passed between us for over fifteen minutes.

"I'm not worried about it. I can get what we need."

"I have some money…" I trail off and hold up the bag he had given back to me to carry.

Edward looks at me in the darkness, and I can see his impish grin under the cast of the highway lights. "We can always get money, Swan." He looks giddy, childlike, and I can't resist smiling back up at him. He looks like a boy on an adventure, and I laugh at the fact that the boy is actually kind of mental, and the adventure is very much an escape.

I follow Edward along the highway for a while; the few cars that pass whizz by and pay us no mind, until we get to the section that starts to contain activity. Fast food restaurants, department stores, and gas stations line either side, their bright lights blinking and beckoning us forward. When we reach a car lot, Edward suddenly pulls me over to the side of the building and out of the fluorescent glare from the overhead lighting.

"What are we doing?" I ask, and look around, noticing the lot full of old, classic cars. My eyes dance over the machines of various colors and time periods. Despite their age, they're shiny under the lights, and I figure this isn't just some crappy used car lot.

"We need wheels. I'm not riding a fucking bus," he scoffs and starts walking through the parked cars closest to the edge of the lot, farthest from any lighting.

"We're stealing a car?" I practically shout, and Edward shoots me a look.

"That you have a problem with, but you're cool with gutting someone like a fucking deer," he says, shaking his head while fishing out a cigarette and his lighter. The fire basks his face in an orange glow as he lights the end before he clicks it shut and walks a few steps away.

"I'm not against car theft," I argue, and follow behind him. The mention of what I'd done shoots through me fresh with a cold tremor. I just killed someone. I ended a life. It dawns on me that I'm more excited about where I am now and who I am with than being worried about the fact that I don't really have any guilt towards anything that went on this evening. The idea of Edward stealing a car is actually not an unpleasant one, quite the opposite. I'm eager to see how he'll do it.

"Should I look for ones with keys?" I ask, remembering an old movie I saw where they stashed the keys in the visors. I doubt they would do that in this day and age, but you never know how stupid someone can be.

"Not necessary." He moves through the cars on the perimeter farthest from the highway and tries a few door handles. I walk in the other lane, doing the same.

I try a few before I stop next to a robin's egg blue convertible with a white canvas top. I don't know what kind of car it is, but it looks expensive and new, defying its obvious age. I notice Edward in my periphery, his sauntering gait moving closer until he stops on the other side of the car. "You like it?" he asks me over the roof.

"I do," I say and run my hand down the smooth paint on the hood, my fingers tracing the chrome detail on the side.

"The little lady has good taste."

I blush at his words and push the button on the handle with my thumb. "It's locked," I say, slightly defeated. I really want this car. It reminds me of carefree summer days of which I've never had but always envied. Pretty people with sunglasses on, going on romantic trips, and I shake my head at the thought that what lies before me is going to be nothing like that. Hell, I have no idea what's in store for me. For all I know, the cops are at my trailer right now, and we'll be picked up before we even get out of the parking lot.

Edward tries the handle on his side and finds it locked as well. I start moving on to try another one until Edward stops me. "Hold up." He fumbles in his jacket for a moment before pulling his knife out of the pocket. "Fuck it, like we wouldn't have the top down anyway," he says, shrugging at me, the smoke from the cigarette dangling from his lips causing him to squint. His arm moves quickly, slashing the roof by the window seam with a satisfying ripping sound, making a big enough hole for his arm to fit through. The click from the old style door lock resounds heavily in the empty lot.

He sticks the open knife in his pocket so the blade is sticking out, opens the door and leans down on the seat, his shoulder resting against the white leather while his hands disappear underneath the steering wheel. I look around to confirm no one is nearby, satisfied as the bank next door is closed and the car wash on the other side is as well. I step back from the car a bit so I can get a better view of him as he rummages with what I assume are wires and look around the interior. The inside is mostly white; its clean appearance a stark contrast to the browns and oranges I'm used to in the trailer. It feels like a new beginning, somehow. "It's so pretty."

"Pretty car for a pretty girl," Edward says distractedly as he continues fiddling with the car. My eyes widen at his statement and my heart thumps. I've never had someone just say something like that about me before. Even though I know it isn't true and he's talking without thinking, a part of me wishes he means it.

I don't bother to correct him or answer him, and after a few silent moments, the engine roars to life and Edward sits up, proud as a Cheshire cat. "Ta-fucking-da," he says as he punches his fists out towards the dashboard.

"Where'd you learn how to hotwire a car?" I ask, the illicit aspect of it excites me, and I make a mental note to get him to teach me when we have more time and aren't running from killing Mike Fucking Newton.

He barks out that crazy laugh of his around the cigarette still in his mouth, the smoke exiting as he speaks. "My parents are dirty as shit. They taught me well."

My mouth opens and closes, not sure if he's fucking with me. "I thought your parents were dead."

He revs the engine a few times, still grinning like a fool, and reaches up to unlatch the metal that holds the top in place. "Nope, they're very much alive." He gets out and I move towards the trunk, watching him push the top down before he quickly pulls out his still open knife and turns to me. "Let's get the fuck out of here, Swan. What do you say?"

I agree whole-heartedly and start to move back to the passenger door from where I was watching him put away the top. "Wait!" His voice stops me.

He saunters around the back of the car, coming towards me, twirling the open blade in his hand. "I may be a fucking bastard, but I know how to be a gentleman." He lightly grabs my elbow and guides me toward the door. He opens it for me, and I turn my face to his.

"How do you know I accept rides from fucking bastards?" I joke, a sudden carefree attitude permeating my body as he leans in closer. The playful yet undeniably batshit look in his eyes that I love causes me to lean back against the side of the car, as far from him as possible in fear I'll do something stupid with the nearness of him.

"Cause I think you like fucking bastards." The way that string of words comes out of his mouth, in his deep, gravelly voice make them sound entirely sexual in my head and I feel my stomach clench. When I don't move, he prods me into the open door with a small push, and I land on the seat with a giggle. The flirty personality coupling with his dangerous side is almost too much to take, and I have to give myself a moment to catch my breath before I sit back up on the bucket seat. He ambles around the car and gets in, grabbing the shift on the floor and turning the oversized, white steering wheel.

We slink out between the cars and drive over some grass to get into the next parking lot where an exit is. Edward throws his cigarette out of the car before stepping on the gas and peeling out, the tires squealing in protest. As my hair flies around my head and we speed down the highway, away from Archer and away from the utter despair of my former life, I know I've never felt as free as I do right now.


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A Pound of Flesh by jaxon22

To pay a debt she owes her father, Isabella Swan starts a new job as a prison tutor. Edward Cullen, with his own debts, is the Punk Ass inmate in her class. Can they fight the odds and their dangerous attraction to learn from each other?

As always, thank you to Carrie ZM and LayAtHomeMom for their hard work.

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