Chapter 36

EPOV

I watched that ring flip in the air, twisting and turning like a roulette wheel. I had wanted to wait a little while longer before admitting the truth, but as the gold band landed in my father's palm, I knew judgment day had arrived. Excusing myself and placing the call, I knew how this was going to play out. Hell, I should just hand her my fucking gun so that she could kill me and get it over with, surely that would be less painful than watching her face as I admitted I took her future from her.

Mike Newton had been on my family's payroll for a while now. He was stupid enough to believe that we kept him around because he was good at his job, the truth was, he was a punk assed bitch that jumped every time one of us called. I knew he would be waiting on me when I walked into the room.

"Mr. Cullen." Mike's nasal voice sounded as I grew closer to him. He tried to act all gangster with his leather jacket and wallet chain. No doubt if he was placed in a situation, he would shit his pants and run like a little bitch. I didn't make eye contact with him as he held his hand out for me to shake. I declined the offer and simply dropped my fingers motioning for him to hand me what I had asked for.

"Do you want to go into another room to…?"

I didn't let him finish. He honestly thought I gave a fuck who saw me take something from him. I had bigger things to worry about than a bunch of gossiping bitches.

"Move." I snapped at him once the envelope was secured into the pocket of my jacket.

I knew that I had to tell Bella the truth, but more than that, I had to let her know that no matter her decision, she would be safe and taken care of. So many secrets that had been kept from her to protect her, only proved to hurt her. While turning on the lights in my condo, I tried not to think that this was the last time I would see her here. The place I had fantasied about bringing her to, loving her, and cherishing her. None of that mattered now and as I turned on the last light, I turned and asked her if she was hungry.

"No, not really." Her gentle voice responded and I could only nod and ask her to have a seat. She walked toward my sofa passing my entertainment center. I wanted to switch on the television and hold her as we watched some mundane movie or some shit, but that would never happen, not once I told her the truth.

"Edward, what's going on? What do you have to tell me?"

I couldn't take it. She was being so nice and caring towards me. How many months I had longed for this and now that it was happening, now that she was finally starting to see me, the man who loved her. I had to smash her entire world…again.

"Bella." I took her hand as I sat down beside her. I had to just do this quickly, rip the proverbial Band-Aid.

"Listen, what I have to say, I need…" My voice wavered and I considered for a single second to just tell her that James had been completely responsible and that it was his idea and his decision for Jared to die. But looking into her chocolate eyes and seeing what I just knew was the start of what would have been an amazing love between us, I just couldn't lie to her.

"Bella." I steadied myself again and removed the envelope from my jacket pocket, placing it in the center of the coffee table.

"Before I tell you anything, I need you to know that this." I thumped the envelope with my index finger twice as I looked directly in her eyes. "Is twice what you paid for the flower shop. If, after you hear what I have to say, you want to leave, then take the money. Get on the next flight to wherever and I swear on my life that I won't try and find you. I will honor your untouchable status and leave you alone."

Her face contorted into a grimace, then she looked over at the envelope that rested under my finger.

"Can I ask you something first?" her voice sounding inquisitive and curious.

"Anything" My resolve fading.

"What does that mean? Untouchable."

Of all of the questions she could have tossed at me, this wasn't the one I would have guessed. I found it hard to believe that she didn't know this. I would have thought Jared would have given her that title.

"Well….I…" Why I was having such an issue even telling her this was beyond me.

"Edward, I'm not stupid, I know what your family is about. I just need to know if it means the same as in the movies."

Still a bit confused, she should know this. Jared wasn't high in the organization by any means, but he was a leader in his small ring. She had to know….

"Yeah, baby, it's just like in the movies, only a bit more real. When I gave you that title, I placed this ring of protection around you. No one can lay a finger on you without having to deal with the repercussions, myself included." Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open slightly at my confirmation of the meaning.

"So…you…um….you couldn't hurt me? I mean, if I chose not to be with you…" She rolled her hand to indicate being together sexually. "That you couldn't have me…dealt with?"

I smiled at her words, completely avoiding certain words like saying them would get her mouth washed out with soap.

"I would be forced to allow one of my men to put a bullet between my eyes. Just like I did to James."

And without even meaning to do it, I opened the door to the conversation I needed to have. Bella looked to the floor and then back to me. Realization lighting up her face, confusing the fuck right out of me. She had been engaged to a man with similar connections, this just didn't make sense.

"Bella, when James attacked you, he knew you were an untouchable. He knew the repercussions, and even if I hadn't announced that, he was aware that you had…You had been involved with someone else who had given you that title." My heart was pounding while I took her fingers in my hand, holding on to the last touch of warmth I was certain to feel from her. I knew that at any second, she would pull away, take the money and run. "A few months ago, I got a call from one of my grunts in Port Angeles that a punk by the name of Jared Black was running his mouth." Bella's face took on a blank look as I continued to confess.

"Said he was bragging about taking extra money off the top, cutting drugs a little harder. Said he was a tough mother fucker that wasn't afraid of the higher ups. I talked with James who sent one of his old girls out there to see if it was true or if it was someone who just wanted his spot."

I moved my eyes back to her face, and I raised the hammer and begun to nail my coffin shut.

"Baby…I'm so sorry. The minute I found out who you were and who you used to belong to, I should have backed away. I should have let you grieve and heal, but I couldn't do it. I'm such a selfish bastard and all I wanted was for you to be with me."

I ran my free hand through my hair, wanting to pull it out to counteract the pain that was ripping through my chest.

"I called for the hit on Jared. I signed his death warrant. I had James go to Forks and take him out. I didn't know at the time who you were, but it doesn't change the fact that I took away the man you loved, the man you were going to marry, the man you let make love to you, the man…."

Bella's voice was strong and loud stopping my admission. "Stop!"

My head snapped to her face just in time to catch her launch herself into my lap, her lips connecting hard with mine. Her hands gripped the sides of my head and she tilted my head in the direction she wanted as she separated my lips with her tongue.

I was so shocked that I didn't respond at first. I knew she was aware of my surprise, but she continued to grip my face licking my bottom lip. Reality came crashing down on me, hitting me like a wrecking ball, and I took her face in my hands with the same pressure and passion that she had mine. I kissed her like I had dreamed of doing, sucking on that pouty lip of hers, caressing that sweet perfect tongue of hers, sucking and devouring that mouth I had just been granted access to.

I didn't know what the reason behind this drastic move was, but I didn't give a flying fuck as I moved her slowly off my lap and across the couch. I wanted to kiss her neck and memorize her body with my hands, but I feared any change in our current activity would remind Bella of what I just confessed. Bella initiated this kiss and she was the one who broke it, taking her lips from where I longed for them to remain. Our eyes locked and I started to apologize, but Bella placed her fingertips on my lips. I took her hand in mine and kissed those fingers. Bella's eyes looked back and forth between mine before she spoke.

"When I first met Jared, he was a nice kid who helped me feel welcome to a new town. Everyone loved him, the entire town thought the world of him since he was always doing something for the community. He thought it would be a good idea for us to be a little more than friends, and so he went and asked my dad, who just happened to be a cop, if he could date me." I was taken aback by her admission to me that her father was a cop. I knew this already, but for her to admit it considering she knew what I was.

"I knew something was up when he told my father that he was taking me for dinner in another town, only to take me to one of those warehouse stores and park behind the building and begin to remove big boxes from the truck. He told me that I didn't see anything, but I knew what he was doing. I stayed quiet for years, never saying anything to anyone. I overlooked the drugs he hid in the floor of his apartment. The girls who called him constantly, the children around town that had certain features of his." My hands went out to her and took her into my arms. I hadn't expected this at all. Jared was an even bigger douche than I had given him credit for.

"My father made him swear to take care of me when he died. He took that to the extreme when he asked me to marry him in the town diner." She looked down continuing, "He didn't even wait for my answer before putting that fucking ring on my hand."

Bella was silent for several minutes or maybe it was seconds, I didn't care, because she was still here.

"I never slept with him. Never told him I loved him or even agreed to marry him. He just always assumed I felt like he did."

Bella pulled back enough to look at me. "You may have killed the man I would more than likely had married, but you also saved me from a life I didn't want."

Bella climbed back on my lap and commandeered my lips once again. Leaning back, I let her take the wheel.

A/N:

Finally! The truth is out. Who was surprised at Bella's reaction? This is the chapter that I pictured when I began writing this fiction. Thanks to my beta for encouraging me when I gave her the cliff notes. Now some of you are aware that for the past year, I have been planning my daughter's wedding, and the time has finally arrived. With that being said, there will NOT be an update this Sunday as I will be recovering from celebrating. See y'all next Thursday!