Authors note; Beta'd by Frannie, remaining mistakes all mine. Enjoy.
The faint sound of a gun being fired alerted me to what was happening in the other room. My heart froze, my breathing suspended.
I forced myself to move.
I started running.
My belly was forgotten as I raced towards the dining room. Esme tried to grab me as I passed, but I threw her off and continued my mad dash towards the sound I'd heard.
My heart was in my throat as I pushed open the door.
What if it was Edward who had been shot?
I couldn't bear the thought of spending a moment in a world where he didn't exist.
My gaze took in the startlingly calm scenario inside the dining room with shock.
Edward and Jasper stood closely together. I noticed the table cover had been dragged slightly off to the side of the table, and Carlisle's body lay on the floor beside the chair where he had been sitting moments before.
My hands rose of their own accord to cover my mouth, to stifle the moan, which escaped before I could stop it, disbelief smothering me. I found myself falling to my knees beside Carlisle's prone body.
My father was dead.
A large bleeding hole sat between his eyes, which seemed to be vacantly staring at me.
I could somewhat hear a scream, and I wondered whose it was.
It was me.
I wept, even though I didn't know why.
I lifted my eyes to my brother's face; Jasper swallowed hard and came to me. He dropped to the floor, his arms wrapped around me but I pushed him away.
I didn't want him to hold me.
This time I needed to mourn the loss of yet another father I wasn't allowed to have.
First Charlie and now Carlisle.
I had almost hated him, I'd feared him, but mostly I'd loved him. The memory of the man I'd slowly begun to remember from my childhood.
"Mia...I'm sorry," Jasper whispered brokenly in my ear. "I had to do it..."
I lifted my tear-filled eyes to his. "You did this...?"
Jasper nodded jerkily, his face suddenly wet with tears. "Forgive me, Mia, but he had to die. He was never going to stop ruining our lives, controlling us like puppets..."
I stroked my brother's blond curls with a shaking hand, tears streaming down my own face.
"How could you...?" I heard myself ask.
I knew why he had done it, but part of me had never wished for Carlisle's death, I'd just wanted him to step down.
Jasper's head dropped onto my shoulder as he knelt beside me.
I held him as he cried for the father he'd killed and the burden he'd always bear.
"Don't worry Jas, You still have me," I said softly as I pressed a kiss onto his for head.
Edward looked genuinely pained as he watched us, his face drawn and tense. "It's done," he said, his eyes glittering with emotion I didn't quite understand. "Now we have to move forward."
Esme came in then, her face hard, her posture rigid, as if she already knew what had happened.
She slowly walked towards the body of her husband, as if she were in a trance.
I knew that despite it all, she had loved him.
Jasper and I rose to our feet. Esme looked at her son with pity and blazing anger in her eyes. Without a word, she went to Jasper and slapped him across the face. His head whipped backward with the force of the slap, but he didn't react.
He took it as punishment and didn't even flinch. It was, after all, a very small price to pay for the crime of killing his own father.
Esme was simply rebuking him and acknowledging what he'd done.
Esme didn't wipe at the tears that ran down her face, she left them instead and lifted my hand in hers.
"Isabella questo è il tuo diritto di nascita." She said as she lifted my hand and kissed the back of it. (Italian translation; this is your birth right.)
She then took Jasper's hand and did the same.
"You are now governanti congiunti." (Italian translation; joint rulers.)
Esme then went to her husband prone body and leaned over to close his eyes. "Ti amerò sempre." She murmured as she bent down and kissed Carlisle's lips. (Italian translation; I will always love you.)
She sat there for a very long time, and we stood beside her in silent vigil.
Eventually, our men came to remove the body of their leader. They were solemn and quick, zipping Carlisle into a body bag as other servants wiped up the blood and mopped the floor.
We didn't call the police or an ambulance, we did things our way.
The way of the Family.
I felt frozen as Edward enfolded me in his arms.
His touch made me feel safe amongst all the chaos.
I lifted my face to his and breathed him in as he kissed me, the inevitable fire chasing away the gloom in my heart.
Jasper looked numb too as he once again held his emotion in check. His facade only cracked slightly when Rose walked into the room hesitantly, her eyes wide, her face pale.
Jasper held out his arms, and she went to him, hiding her face against his shoulder.
I was happy for my brother and my friend; they were together, where they belonged. Jasper desperately needed her, I could tell, just as I needed Edward.
Esme herself saw that the body was prepared for burial. Afterward, she stayed with Carlisle's body, refusing to leave him and my heart bled for my mother.
I wished her story didn't have to end so badly. We had always known that she loved Carlisle, despite all that happened between them.
I went to my brother and took his hand in mine.
Our fingers tangled and I leaned in to press a kiss to his nose in a sentimental gesture, which brought a ghost of a smile to his lips and a throb of sadness to my heart.
"Insieme." I said softly, the Italian word still awkward on my tongue.
Yes, we'd always be together.
Jasper returned the kiss and pulled me into a hug. "I love you, Mia."
I forced a smile to my lips. "I love you, too."
Our son was born Jackson Edward Cullen, he entered the world unexpectedly, early one morning and he was perfect. Our little fighter had survived all the odds stacked against him. He looked a little like both of us, but it was still too early to truly tell. Edward and I were somewhat stunned by his arrival. As it turned out, neither of us were natural parents.
I was somewhat relieved when Esme took charge of our child. He gave her someone to live for, to plan for, and it brought her back to life. Jack wanted for nothing, he was spoilt by everyone and doted on by us all. His importance was set in stone from the moment he first cried, he was the heir apparent and he secured our family's future.
I went back to work soon after the birth, reclaiming my rightful place as Principessa of the family. Jasper led us with more strategy and thoughtfulness than our father ever had. His leadership qualities were astounding, and I found myself amazed and proud of my brother, every day.
I still had a lot to learn, but with Edward and Jasper as my teachers, I knew I would succeed.
Edward had taken my place, until now, ruling alongside Jasper. They were a force to be recognized. They were both savage, but fair, and people respected them both for different reasons.
I knew that Esme would never stopped grieving; I believed she never truly would.
Jasper and Rosalie were married in a small chapel in our town one beautiful spring day.
Rose was a vision in a red gown, which broke a few traditions, and Jasper couldn't keep his eyes off her. Edward was Jasper's best man, and I was Rosalie's only bridesmaid. No one gave her away, her parents refused to give their blessing to her union with Jasper after they discovered a few choice bits of information about our family. Media speculation and society gossip made them believe that their daughter was marrying someone little better than a common gangster.
Jasper found their refusal to accept him amusing, because what they thought they knew was so much better than the truth. If only they knew just what Rosalie was marrying into, they'd be a whole lot more upset than they already were.
But Rose was determined to marry the man she loved. She walked down the aisle alone and undaunted, her chin held high.
Esme cried alot that day. I believe she cried tears of joy as well as for what she had lost, too.
Our son was a year old the first time Edward took me away.
He refused to tell me where we were going and despite finding the secrecy mildly annoying, I allowed him to plan our trip without any input from me.
I found myself flown first class to a fancy hotel in America, which turned out to be in my hometown.
So many memories flooded back as we drove through the city. Charlie, Rene, my old home...everything. I recalled my other friend, Alice, who had refused to have contact with me when I'd moved away. I wondered who owned the home I'd grown up in and if they appreciated its splendor as I had.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and blinked rapidly to hide my tears. Edward seemed to understand, his fingers squeezing mine tightly.
I wondered where Rene was now, and if she even cared what had become of me. I'd never heard from her, even after Charlie had found me. Maybe she didn't care, perhaps she never had. I had to accept the fact that Rene had never truly loved me; I'd been just a pawn to her, a means to an end.
I sighed as I pushed all thoughts of my past from my mind. There was no point to dwell on it when my future was sitting right beside me.
I lifted Edwards hand to my lips and kissed his signet ring, which marked him as one of our family. He watched me closely, his eyes glowing with a barely suppressed need.
I'd never before sworn my allegiance to anyone, but I did so now, informally, with my heart filled with love.
"God, I love you, Bella." He groaned as I licked his finger playfully.
I replied with a kiss.
That night there was another surprise.
Edward had hired the entire museum where we had first met.
I was speechless and overwhelmed by my husband's thoughtfulness.
There was a single table laid just for us, with waiters dressed in suits to bring our food. Candles stood on every available surface, and soft music played in the background.
We ate and drank champagne from crystal flutes, while our eyes worshipped each other across the small expanse of the table. I didn't think I'd ever get over just how handsome my husband was or how lucky I am.
Eventually, Edward led me out of the room towards the balcony. The city lights were a soft glow in the background as my husband pulled me towards him, our bodies melting into each other with the ease of familiarity and tenderness.
The passion always present between us, a palpable entity, a living, breathing thing.
His hands stroked my back and then slid upward to cradle my head, lifting my face to his. His hair was chaotic as usual, caramel strands falling into his intense eyes, his angel's face serious and hungry.
"My Bella." He stated as he claimed my mouth in a bruising kiss.
I returned his kiss, my tongue following his with matching fervor. I would never grow tired of his taste, it set my body ablaze with desire so intense I trembled.
"All yours." I acknowledged as he released my lips.
Music played softly in the other room as moonlight eclipsed the city lights and encased us in an ethereal glow.
My gown sparkled as we moved together, it was an exact replica of the one I had worn the fateful night I'd first met Edward. So much between us was the same, yet so much had changed in the years that had past. The necklace Edward had guven me so long ago sparkled around my neck, a constant reminder of our love.
"You look like Venus," Edward said, his sensual mouth tugged upwards into a smirk.
"Aphrodite," I told him firmly with an answering smile.
"My goddess." Edward countered, again claiming my mouth.
I linked my arms around his neck and pulled him closer until my breasts were pushed against his tuxedo.
"I'm never going to stop wanting you." I smiled at him impishly as he pulled back to look at me.
"And I'm never going to stop wanting you. You're my world, Bella. Because of you, I finally know where I belong."
I knew that although our world wasn't an easy place in which to live, Edward and I would always be okay.
As long as we were just like this…