A/N: Thanks to Sherry for helping me polish up the old chapters of this story. I will be working my way through them before I begin working on new chapters.
I smiled as the siren sounded, signaling the end of my work day. I was eager to get home, but I was eager to get home every day. Not that I had anything to get home to, home was just better than here. I hated working here, in this office. I still didn't understand why I had been chosen to work here. Everyone else that worked here was connected in some way or another, everyone but me that was.
I grabbed my jacket off the back of my chair, pulling it on as I hurried through the office towards the door. I wanted to beat the crowd, but I wasn't that lucky. By the time I had reached the street, everyone had already started filing out of the surrounding buildings, making the street congested. The worst of it was that none of them seemed to be in a hurry to get home.
I began to force my way through the crowd, too impatient to wait, but I quit pushing when my eyes landed on a Plugger and he sneered at me. The last thing I needed was to get into trouble with a government enforcer. It was the last thing anyone needed. I had seen what they did to people. They tortured them for sport, and then called it justice. There was no justice in this jurisdiction. The people of Flagstaff had long since learned that.
The crowd dispersed after a short while, but when I reached the turn-off for my street, I spotted Mike and a few of his friends hanging around the corner. I knew he was more than likely waiting for me. It was something he did every so often. I also knew what he wanted. He had always made his feelings very clear. He wanted to marry me, and in his delusional mind he thought that was a probability one day. It wasn't. I loathed him, and I knew my father would never force me to marry him because he wasn't exactly fond of him either.
I took the road to the right, thankful that Mike appeared to be too deep in conversation to notice me. It meant a longer walk, but I didn't mind. I would rather walk through fire than talk to him.
As I was walking past my neighbor's hut, the scent of Esme's cooking made my stomach grumble. It was only soup, but when you had been living on the bare essentials for days it smelled like heaven. I was tempted to invite myself inside. I knew Esme would be more than willing to feed me and I could certainly use a good meal, but I knew I couldn't go around inviting myself into other people's homes.
I took a step towards my hut, but somehow found myself standing in front of Esme's door. I knocked before I had the chance to change my mind and waited for her to invite me inside. "Oh, it's you," she smiled, as I walked in the door. She was standing at the stove, stirring a large pot. "Are you hungry?" she asked, already fetching a bowl before I could answer.
I nodded as I went over to the large dining table and took a seat. The table was so big so it took up most of the space in the tiny hut. "Thank you," I said as she placed a bowl of steaming hot soup before me. I took my time to savor the scent, and warming my hands on the bowl. After-all, I wasn't sure when my next hot meal would be.
"So," Esme said, taking the seat across from me. "How was your day?"
I shrugged. "It was okay, I suppose," I said, before taking my first mouthful.
"It doesn't sound as if it was okay," Esme said, studying me.
I shrugged again. "It was. Well, I mean nothing happened. I went to work and came home. That's about as good as it gets."
"Then what has that look on your face?" Esme asked, raising her eyebrow at me. Sometimes she was too observant for her own good.
"Mike," I sighed, knowing there was no point in trying to hide it from her. "He was waiting for me at the bottom of the street again."
Esme's frown deepened. "Mike Newton needs to learn to leave you alone. He knows that your father would never allow him to marry you. Someone ought to teach that thug a lesson."
"Which thug?" Emmett asked, as he came in the front door. He walked over to the table and picked up an apple from the fruit bowl, ruffling my hair at the same time. I swatted his hand away.
"Mike," Esme sighed. "He has been bothering Bella again," she said, before getting up to fetch her son a bowl of soup.
Emmett frowned, looking down at me. "I'll take care of him."
"No," I protested, grabbing his arm. "I don't want you to get into trouble."
"I'll only get into trouble if I get caught," he countered, "and I don't plan to get caught."
Before I had the chance to argue with him further, the front door burst open and Edward came barging inside. "Clear the table," he ordered. I immediately began helping Emmett and Esme clear everything from the table, wondering what was going on. If Edward's face was anything to go by, it wasn't good.
A few seconds later I watched in horror as Carlisle and Jasper carried my father into the room. He appeared to be unconscious and his clothes were soaked in blood. "Dad," I whimpered. I took a step towards him as they laid him down on the table, but Edward grabbed my arm, holding me in place.
"Stay out the way," he ordered. "Let my dad help him."
I wanted to protest and shove Edward out the way, so that I could run to my dad, but I knew he was right. I had to let Carlisle look at him, if he was to have any chance of survival.
"Jasper, Emmett go outside and keep watch," Carlisle ordered as he began to cut the clothes from my dad's body.
"What happened?" I asked, looking over my father's injuries. He had several nasty looking bruises and cuts over his face and body, but the one that cause the most concern was a wound to his abdomen that was currently spitting out blood.
"He got into a fight with a Plugger," Edward replied.
What? That didn't make any sense. Why would my father get in a fight with a Plugger? He knew better than that. As much as his actions puzzled me, there was only one question I really wanted to know the answer to. "Who was it?"
Caius, I said the name over and over again in my head, trying to figure out what could have happened to cause this, but nothing that I came up with made any sense.
"Edward, maybe you should take Bella outside," Esme said, eyeing me. "She looks a little green."
The truth was I did feel a little queasy watching Carlisle work on my father, but under no circumstances was I leaving his side. Edward put his hand on my shoulder, but I shook my head. "I'm staying with him." He knew not to argue with me.
After watching Carlisle for some time, it became apparent that something was wrong. He had ceased all efforts and was now exchanging silent glances with Esme.
"What's wrong? What are you doing? Why are you stopping!?" I shouted.
"I'm sorry Bella-" Carlisle began.
"No!" I screamed, cutting him off. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to believe it.
Edward made a move to comfort me, but I pushed him away. I went over to my father's lifeless body and started sobbing. "How could you!?" I shouted, shaking my head. "How could you?" I screamed and hit his arm. I did everything, but believe it was real. My father couldn't be dead.
"We have company heading this way," Emmett said, rushing in the front door.
"Edward, take Bella to Father Dylan," Esme ordered, her words barely registering. "You have to marry her tonight. If you don't they will come in here and reassign her. I know you don't want that and neither do I."
I felt a tug on my arm, but I pulled away, shaking my head.
"Bella, come on. We have to go," Edward said.
"No," I whimpered, reaching for my father's hand. It still felt warm. Carlisle had to have made a mistake. My father couldn't possibly be dead.
"Bella," Edward said sternly, but I wasn't willing to listen. He grabbed a hold of me and spun me around, looking me firmly in the eyes. "We. Have. To. Leave. Now." I shook my head. I didn't want to go. "If they find you here, you know what they will do. You know who they will assign you to. I know you don't want that. I don't want that."
Tears streamed down my face as I looked back at my father. I couldn't leave him. I just couldn't. Edward caught my chin and forced me to look back at him, his eyes pleading me with me to listen.
There was a knock on the door, a warning signal that they were almost here.
Edward didn't bother arguing with me this time. He grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the back door, refusing to let me go, no matter how hard I fought against him.
"Emmett, go and find Alice. They'll need two witnesses," Esme ordered.
As the three of us left the hut, someone banged on the front door. Edward pulled the back door closed behind us and looked at me. "Run Bella." He didn't even give me a chance to acknowledge his words before he pulled me into a run, gripping me fiercely as he pulled me along.
We ran all the way down the hill, and along the valley, towards the bend in the river where Father Dylan's house lay.
Edward didn't release me until we were standing in front of the house, by then I was a mess. I didn't know whether to cry or try to catch my breath. I leaned against the wall, holding my side as he banged on the door, demanding attention.
Father Dylan appeared at the door a few minutes later. He looked shocked as he took in our appearances. "Edward, what's wrong? What's going on?"
"We need you to marry us," Edward said, grabbing me and pulling me to his side. "Quickly."
"Then you better come in," he said, opening the door wide. Once we were safely inside, he locked and bolted the door. "Do you have witnesses?"
"Emmett and Alice are on their way," Edward confirmed.
"Good, follow me."
He led the way into the main hall, where I took the opportunity to sit down on one of the pews. I placed my face in my hands, trying to make sense of everything that had happened, but I couldn't. Nothing made sense. No matter how I looked at it. My world was falling apart and there was nothing I could do.
I wasn't sure how long I had sat there. I wasn't really sure of anything, but the next thing I knew Edward was kneeling down in front of me, touching my arm. "Bella, it's time," he said, as he looked over me with concern.
I nodded. This certainly wasn't how I had envisioned my day. I wished my father could be here to hold my hand and ensure me that everything was going to be fine. Cause everything didn't feel like it was going to be alright.
I wondered if he would have even approved of me marrying Edward.
"I'm sorry," Edward said, pulling me to my feet. "This isn't exactly how I would have done this. I know it isn't how you would have planned your wedding either."
"It's okay," I said, trying to assure him. I knew this wasn't his fault.
Edward led me down the aisle to the front of the church where Father Dylan, Emmett and Alice were already waiting. Alice gave me an apologetic smile as she pulled me in for a hug. "I'm sorry about Charlie."
I nodded, unable to find the words to respond.
Emmett hugged me after his sister. It felt good to be comforted by his big, strong arms. I felt safe when I was within them, like nothing could ever harm me.
"Let's begin," Father Dylan said, moving into position.
The whole ceremony was like a blur. I honestly wouldn't be able to recall any of it if anyone asked. I didn't even remember speaking my parts, but I knew I must have or Father Dylan wouldn't have proceeded with the service. I wasn't even aware it had ended until he touched my arm and wished me all the best in my marriage.
Marriage ha! I had to laugh. All this time I had lusted over Edward Cullen, hoping that he would notice me, and make me his wife, but he had never given me a second glance. He was always too busy running errands for his father, and look at us now. We had been forced together by circumstances. I knew I should have felt happy, or relieved even, that it was him and not Mike, but I didn't. I just felt indifferent.
"Of course the marriage won't be legal until you consummate," Father Dylan said, drawing me from my thoughts.
"I know," Edward replied. His eyes fixed on me. His face etched with worry.
"Do you need me to witness the consummation?" Father Dylan asked.
"It's the only way they won't be able to denounce the marriage. Perhaps your brother will-"
"No," I protested, before he could even suggest that Emmett should watch us. The thought of anyone watching us made me feel sick, but I certainly wouldn't be able to stand Emmett seeing us in such an intimate position.
"Bella, I understand your concern, but," Father Dylan began.
"It's okay," I assured him. "I understand Father. I mean, I don't understand why things are the way they are, but I understand what needs to be done to make this marriage legal. I just don't want Emmett to be the one to…"
He nodded, showing that he understood. "Very well. The room is just across the hall," he said, pointing to the right. "I will be in the room opposite, but you won't even know that I'm there, and I promise not to witness any longer than necessary."
I nodded, wondering how many people he had 'witnessed'. It didn't seem to faze him, but I didn't agree with it. I believed the first time between a husband and wife, and every time thereafter, should be private. It was something special and should only be shared between them.
The consummation room was small. The only furniture was a single bed in the middle of the room, that looked like it had seen better days. I sat down on the edge of the bed, chewing my lip as I watched Edward lock the door.
I wondered if he was as nervous as I was. He didn't appear to be. So did that mean that he wasn't a virgin? Had he been with someone else? The thought of another person touching him angered me, but I knew now wasn't the time to dwell on that thought. Not with what we were about to do.
"Hey," Edward said, sitting down beside me. He took my hand in his, squeezing it until I looked up at him. "Relax." I nodded, knowing that I need to calm down. "I wish that things were different. I wish I was able to give you the wedding that you deserved. I wish we had the time to take this slow, so that I could worship you like you deserve, but all we can do is make the best of what we have. You are mine now, Bella. I will do whatever it takes to make you happy and keep you safe. I'll make your father proud."
Tears formed in my eyes at the mention of my father. Edward must have mistaken them, because he cupped my face and looked directly into my eyes. "I won't hurt you, but we have to do this, to ensure you're safe, but I won't hurt you."
He leaned towards me, kissing me. His kisses were slow and gentle, reassuring me that he had no intentions of hurting me. He didn't move to the next level until I began to kiss him back, then he gently pushed me back on the bed, leaning over me. He fumbled with the buttons of my top, nervously laughing when they failed to cooperate.
"Let me," I said, pushing his hands out the way. I opened the buttons and let my top fall to the side, watching Edward's reaction. He took in a deep breath as he eyed my breasts, still confined within my bra, but he never spoke. Instead, he took off his own shirt and tossed it onto the floor.
Now it was my turn to stare. His chest was perfectly chiseled, as was his abs. He clearly worked out, a lot. He was also hairless, smooth. His skin called to be touched. I couldn't help, but reach out to feel his flesh under my hands. He was beginning to stir up strange feelings within me. As much as I didn't want to do this now, as much as I didn't want Father Brennan watching us, part of me wanted him.
"Don't think about it," Edward whispered, as if reading my mind. His lips captured mine again, his hands slipping to my breasts, freeing them from their confinement. He squeezed them gently a few times before moving to my nipples and pinching them with his fingers. I moaned at the surprising sensation.
I involuntarily began to grind against him, desiring friction. I knew I needed something; I just wasn't quite sure what. I only knew that I needed it now.
One of Edward's hands moved to my jeans. He popped the button and pulled down the zipper before sliding his hand inside. I jumped at the contact on my most intimate area, but soon forgot my embarrassment when he began rubbing his hand against me. It was the friction I had been craving, and it felt heavenly, but I needed more.
"Are you ready?" he asked after some time, his breathing labored.
"No… Yes. I mean yes," I sighed, my breathing just as heavy.
Edward stared at me for a few seconds before standing up and unfastening his jeans. I did the same, wriggling out of mine from my position on the bed, only pausing when I saw him removing his boxers. I stared in amazement as his cock sprang free. I had never seen one before in person. His cock was long, hard, and thick. I swallowed hard as I wondered if it would fit inside me.
Edward didn't give me time to dwell on the matter. He came over to me and began to help me take off my panties. He hissed when he looked down at my naked form. "You are so beautiful," he whispered, making almost all my insecurities disappear.
He joined me back on the bed, positioning himself between my legs. His lips locked with mine as if trying to distract me from what he was about to do. He slowly slid into me, inch by inch. It actually wasn't that bad, until he was almost fully inside me where he reached what felt like a barrier. I stiffened up from the pain, grabbing onto his shoulders. "Edward," I cried.
"It's okay," he assured me, and with one quick thrust the stretching, tearing feeling was gone. I called out in pain, gripping onto him tightly. We both froze, waiting for the pain to subside.
"It's okay," I assured him when it was gone.
He started moving in and out of me, slowly at first, but gradually building up speed, to the point where I had long forgotten that we were being watched. I was completely lost in the passion of the moment. All that mattered right now was Edward and the tightening feeling in the pit of my stomach.
"I," Edward groaned. "I can't hold on any longer. I'm gonna-"
There was a loud bang outside the room, startling us both. Edward froze, looking towards the door.
"You can't go in there!" We heard Father Dylan shout.
Edward jumped to his feet and began to pull his clothes on. I looked at him terrified, wondering what was going on. "Put this on," he ordered as he bent down and picked up his t-shirt, tossing it at me.
I barely had enough time to pull his t-shirt over my head when the door was kicked open and two Pluggers burst into the room, closely followed by Mike and Marcus. Edward pulled me protectively behind him, glaring at the intruders.
"You have no right to be in here!" Father Dylan yelled, coming into the room after them. "This is a private ceremony."
"She's mine," Mike snarled. "You had had no right to touch her, Cullen. I'll see you hanged for this."
I gripped onto Edward's arm, frightened that they were going to hurt him.
"They're married," the father exclaimed. "It has been consummated, I bore witness. He has every right to touch his wife." Father Dylan moved to stand between us and the enemy.
"You whore," Mike spat, taking a step towards us. Marcus put his hand on his chest, stopping him from coming any closer.
"I suggest you watch how you speak to my wife," Edward snarled.
"Enjoy her while you can Cullen, she'll be a widow soon enough," Mike growled before turning and leaving the room. The rest of the men quickly followed.
I stared after them, worrying that things were only going to get worse. Would Mike really hurt Edward or even try to kill him to get to me? I wasn't sure I wanted to find out.
A/N: A huge thank you to Cristina for working with me on the old version of this chapter.