Comfortably numb

Bella fought hard not to turn around and flee. The woman from the restaurant bathroom lay in the center of the glass top coffee table, naked as the day she was born, masterbating while snorting white powder up her nose. Waves of self doubt crashed around her, laughing at her for ever thinking she had any business allowing Edward into her world.

Edward's grip on his wife's hand tightened, nearing painful levels, as he reached into his pocket for his cell phone. Gone were the days where he enjoyed this level of control, allowing women with agendas to infiltrate his mind. The love of his life had grown to accept him and the monster within was still locked tightly away in a deep, dark place.

"Security, this is Edward Cullen, I have a intruder."

Angela stopped the rhythmic movement of her fingers, but left her hand between her legs. Her head fall back as she licked the powder from her free hand. "This is a first, you've never let the guys join us before." Her sinister laugh filled the air. She was used to her tried and true looks persuading Edward out of his clothing and into her web of deceit.

Bella pulled at Edward's hand, trying to distance herself from the room, the situation and Edward; all of it. He had offered to let her leave, to walk away from him with an assurance he wouldn't pursue her any further. She didn't care about the money, only putting as much space between this and the pain she was sure would fall down on her.

"No, Love." Edward shook his head, pulling her closer to him, tucking her under his arm. "She isn't welcome here, never was." Edward's words were clipped, underlined with all the rage he felt from the uncertainty of what Bella must think of him and the whore who had once again invaded his life.

"Oh, come on, Edward, you don't have to pretend with me, never have. Don't you want to scream at me? Call me all of those delicious names, as you fuck me anyway you want." Angela's fingers resumed their circling of her clit, dipping deep into her folds as her other hand grasped her nipple, twisting it with purpose. "By the looks of this one, her knees must be welded shut."

Edward heard the footsteps of security as they approached the door. Still clinging Bella to his side, he pulled the door open and stepped to the side. Dressed in black from head to toe, Cullen Towers employed the best security money could buy. "Gentleman, this woman has broken into our home and needs to be handed over to the authorities."

Bella's apprehension increased as the two men walked into the room, crossing the room with authority. She had seen much smaller attendants at the front entrance, but these guys needed their own zip codes.

"Of course, Mr. Cullen. Is there a sheet or blanket we can use to cover her up?"

Edward thought for a moment. The just thing to do would be to wrap Angela in a blanket and usher her out the service door in the rear of the building. "No, she wants the world to see her naked, let the citizens of New York have a look." He opened the entrance door wider as Angela is pulled from the table, the white powder caking the wet parts of her skin, a swirling cloud following behind her.

"Don't you fucking dare, you sadistic son of a bitch. I swear to fucking god, I will call Carlisle and he will hang you."

Edward wasn't afraid of his uncle, not in the least. Even without the monster to say the hurtful words he kept inside, he had plans for Carlisle, a final nail in the legacy he was about to destroy. As he watched his security team, the men who guarded his wife from a distance, an idea flashed in his head

"Wait," he called after them. Angela's belligerent screams silenced and a devious smile formed on her face. "On second thought, take her to Scorch, he's wanted a new girl for some time." Edward took great pleasure watching Angela's smile fade into terror. Anyone who knew the name he'd just dropped, knew the implications behind it. "Tell him this makes us even."

Bella watched as the naked girl was dragged into the elevator at the end of the hall. Edward's hand had remained wrapped tightly around hers, oddly grounding her to reality. She wanted to leave his condo, to erase the memory of the girl who represented everything she would never be to Edward. Where Angela had settled deep in some twisted level of comfort when it came to her sexuality, Bella had yet to think about hers.

Edward didn't need Bella to tell him what she was feeling, he could see it plain as day on her face. He would make all of this right, take the memory and wipe it away with a few signatures and an exchange of money.

"C'mere." Edward whispered with reverence, needing to have his wife close as he prepared to have a difficult discussion.

Bella didn't require much convincing, her internal comfort meter guided her more than her husband's warm body. Anthony and Marie had never encountered a situation like this. Their meeting was quick and the love between them built fast and furious. However, this was real and not some story made up in the overactive imagination of an author. She was here, standing beside a man she'd taken a chance on, one she hadn't regretted until maybe six seconds ago.

"We need to talk about what happened." Edward pushed her door open, as he lead her from his apartment. "I swore to you honesty and respect, and I intend to keep my promise."

As Edward shut the door behind him, and Bella felt as if they were shutting out the world as well. How different the attitude was in this room, more than the softness of the lines in furniture and the luxury of the textures.

Edward escorted his wife over to her sofa, pulling the movie from his back pocket. He still had every intention of watching the story play out on the screen of her television as he wrapped himself protectively around her. He refused to allow a common whore to destroy all the work he and Bella had done to get them to this point.

"Bella, I know this looks really bad, finding a woman like Angela in the position she was." He would hold nothing back, not one disgusting detail as he knew the only way to keep his marriage and the blossoming love she showed him was to be honest. "You have every right to scream and yell at me, accusing me of being a lousy and disgusting person to have engaged with a woman like that." Holding her hand in his, Edward used her touch as a gauge of how she was handling his confession. "Yet, like the lady you are, you chose to let her show the evil which lives in her heart.

"Bella, Angela was the woman my uncles found for me to, relieve I guess you could say, some of the sexual tension I had as a growing younger man. She was paid a great deal of money to keep her mouth closed and her...legs open to me whenever I felt the need. A few years ago she started using cocaine to help deal with my monster, and I did everything in my power to make sure she had all the drugs she needed."

Edward missed the way the monster took the guilt out of the things he did, carrying all the responsibility for all the evil he had ever done. The fear he felt pumping inside his chest, now welcome, reminded him he was in control and able to love and be loved.

"Edward," Bella shifted her body, grabbing his hands tight in hers. "I know who Angela is. I mean, I didn't know her name until now, but I've seen her. I'm more concerned with who you said to send her to, who is Scorch?"

Edward sat surprised, listening to Bella confuse him, "Wait, when did you meet Angela?"

Bella couldn't help as her focus flashed from Edward's bright green eyes to the soft skin of his hands. The light from the side lamp glistened in the silver ring he always wore. "The night we had dinner at Tavern on the Green. Jasper said every man wants to take every woman he sees to bed. And...and you said..." Bella's voice cracked as she remembered Edward's hurtful response. At the time she'd brushed it off, hiding it behind the wall of her heart where it couldn't hurt her.

"I said, there was an exception." Shame overwhelmed him, causing Edward to nearly fall to the carpet below him. He recalled the monster rejoicing at the way Bella's lip tucked into her teeth, distracting herself from the pain he lived to inflict.

"Yes, you said I was the exception. When I left the table, I met Angela in the ladies room. She let me know she would be available to do all the dirty things I would never let you do to me."

Edward pulled her close, burying his face in the crown of her head. "Bella, you were the exception because I didn't want to just sleep with you. I wanted you to be the one to love me back, despite the monster."

Bella absorbed the truth in his voice, "And Scorch?" She refused to let her question go unanswered. Where she didn't particularly care for this Angela, she would never wish harm to come to anyone.

"Do you recall the phone call I got just as you came back to the table?" Bella remained tucked into Edward's chest, his masculine scent giving her a strange sense of comfort. Nodding her head as she allowed him to continue.

"Something you have to understand is with every good deed comes a price to pay. The family has a number of buildings in areas where crime is high, giving us the disadvantage of having damage to our property. We have established different relationships with key gang members in the city. They protect us and our investments, in exchange, we help them get better products." Edward held his wife tighter, a cold chill of fear rippling down his back, terrified she would pull away when she realized what he had just admitted. "We left that night because a rival gang decided they wanted a slice of the pie. When the monster was awakened, truly awakened, he gave me the ability to become lethal. Scorch wanted the rival gang to receive a clear message from our end. Once I delivered the message and returned home, one of my informants let me know the same punks I had just talked with, were harassing a young lady he understood I had a vested interest in."

Bella closed her eye tight, remembering the men on the bus and the story on the news the next day. Edward had been responsible for their injuries. "I don't regret making them pay for hurting you." He placed several kisses to her head, waiting as she allowed him to hold her, no sign of pulling away.

"Scorch is just as evil and cruel as I used to be, in his case, there is no cure. Not even years in prison. As far as why I sent Angela to him, I need her to understand you are the most important person to me. Scorch will treat her the way a whore should be treated. She has used and abused my family for years, threatening over and over to expose us to the world. I tried to send her to a hospital, helping her get clean from drugs, but as you witnessed today, she has no interest in being sober and I have no use for anyone upsetting the woman I'm in love with."

Bella wanted to see his face as he spoke those words to her. Pulling her body from his, she found his face sullen and his eyes filled with sadness. "Say it again."

Edward twisted his head, confused as to what she meant. "Which part?"

"The part about loving me."

Relief washed over Edward and joy danced in his heart. "I'm in love with you, Bella Cullen. Every beat of my heart is for you." Pillow soft lips kept the remainder of his confession inside his throat. Edward froze for a measure of a heartbeat before closing his eyes and returning the kiss his Bella had initiated.

All of the kisses in history had nothing on this kiss. Bella may not have a laundry list of prior study, but in Edward's opinion, and truly the only one that mattered, this was the kiss to judge all future kisses from. There was no tongue or moaning in ecstasy, no hands exploring ridges of muscle and flesh. Two souls, a pair of hearts agreeing to block out the negativity surrounding them, a silent promise of keeping this union a force to be reckoned with.

"I feel such strong feelings for you, Edward. I've tried to keep them from flourishing too fast, fearful they would either not be returned or the other Edward would come back."

Edward knew those fears, he shared them. And while he wanted to hear his wife confess her love for him, he wanted her to do it in her own time and not as the result of a traumatic experience. "I can work with strong feelings, it gives me a goal to reach." Edward took the opportunity to shift the seriousness of the conversation to a much lighter one. "While I personally could sit here and kiss you for the rest of my life, I have a movie you absolutely have to watch."

Edward knew Ironman would never erase what happened not thirty feet away, he hoped Bella could find more of whatever sparked between them, fueling the need in her to kiss him.

Bella wanted to believe they had seen the last of Angela and mountains of illegal drugs, but something deep inside her knew this was far from over. For now, for today, she would let the warmth of her husband's body wrap her in a protective blanket as she watched a man with a similar monster in his chest. Just like Pepper, she loved the man despite the demons he battled.