I've watched Bella cry, I've watched her cringe when I tried to touch her; watched her food go to waste and words left unspoken. Jasper called while we were still talking to the police, frantic about some room he had discovered when he returned home. I didn't understand what he was saying and at the time I honestly didn't care. After what felt like hours, a police officer finally drove us home.
The house loomed before us, the windows overly bright against the dark night that surrounded it making it appear haunted, beckoning us with malice. I now regretted making Lathan the owner of the house, I wanted nothing more than to be rid of the damn thing.
"You okay?" I asked quietly, assisting Bella out of the car.
She didn't speak but nodded jerkily, giving me a watery smile. I tried to pull her against me, needing the reassurance that she was really okay, but she sidestepped my intention and walked into the house before me.
"Edward, thank God you are alright." Jasper rushed out as soon as I entered the house.
I grunted from the force of his body hitting mine as he embraced me. I chuckled a bit, slapping his back roughly.
"We're alright." I reassured him.
We watched each other, waiting for the other to react. He lost his cousin and I lost my brother. I wouldn't say I was necessarily saddened by my brother's death; I was in fact relieved that he was no longer hovering over us. It was still odd to know that he was gone and I knew his death would haunt my dreams for many nights to come.
"Where is everyone else?" I asked, noticing for the first time that the house was silent.
"Alice is with Charlie and Lathan, booking all of us rooms at the local motel."
"He isn't coming back; we could have stayed here." I frowned, even though I felt relief of not having to spend another night under this roof.
"You will change your mind when I show you what I've found."
"Well, where is it?"
"Bella, will you be alright?" Jasper asked.
She was standing beside the stairs banister, arms crossed tightly over her chest.
"I'll start packing." She whispered, quickly going up the stairs."
"How is she doing?" He asked me with concern.
"Exactly how she looks to be." I sighed.
He chewed on the inside of his cheek but turned and walked down the hall without comment.
"It was left open, otherwise I would never have found it."
"Found what?" I asked absentmindedly, barely realizing we had stopped moving.
My mind was still focused on the woman moving around above our heads, the muffled thuds of dresser drawers being opened and closed.
"Edward." Jasper sighed with slight exasperation.
I blinked and turned my focus fully on him.
He nodded his head to the side, motioning to the hall closet. The old coats that haven't been worn in years were pushed to the side. My mind whirled with memories of my mother in her beloved suede over coat, my father's leather jacket that my mother gave him grief over. The letterman jacket I had left here when I moved. Various other items hung on the thin metal pole, all pushed to the right, leaving a gaping black hole. The back wall of the closet was nothing more than hinged paneling. A dark opening beyond that beckoning to us.
"What is this?" I asked after several silent moments.
"I don't know; I haven't explored it. I left everything untouched and waited for you, but I think this is where Anthony was hiding. No one knew about any hidden spaces, they weren't even in the blue prints that I have."
"Let's get some flash lights and find out where it leads."
He didn't respond as he ran out of the hall but I could hear the kitchen drawers being thrown open and junk being pushed around as he searched for the required tools.
"Got them!" He exclaimed seconds later.
If today hadn't been so dire, I would have laughed at his antics. He passed me a blue, plastic tube and we faced off, waiting for the other to move first.
"It's your house."
"You found it."
"He was your brother."
"You're a dick."
He just smirked and waved his hand dramatically, motioning me to go forward. I slid the white tab up and light flickered into the darkness, casting pools of soft orange before us. There were only wooden slabs for walls, stairs that looked half rotten leading both up and down with a little platform between that opened into the closet.
"Which way first?" I asked behind me, knowing Jasper would be looking over my shoulder.
"In any other circumstance, I would suggest we each take one. I have a feeling neither of us are willing to part this time."
"Not likely." I deadpanned.
"Down seems much more dramatic." I could hear the frown in his voice.
"Let's go up and work out way down." I suggested, not willing to admit my lack of nerve aloud.
The stairs creaked underfoot, the musty smell of mildew hung in the air. They stopped and there was a wooden door before us. I had to take a step back to pull it open, needing to push aside another thin panel.
"We're in the linen closet I think." Jasper muttered, moving his hand around the panel that wavered from his touch. "It's not very sturdy. I think it would have caved in itself not much longer."
"Now or never." He grunted, this time leading the way.
Our steps were slow and cautions, neither of us wanting to fall through a broken or weakened board.
"Shit." Jasper muttered soon after passing the first landing.
"It smells like a basement." I frowned, trying to think of where in the house it was located.
I had never noticed another set of stairs the entire time growing up here.
"Yeah, a basement with a dozen rotten rats in it." He gaged.
"Don't be a baby." I pushed him aside and moved the ray of light around in front of me.
It was small and cramped, the air heavy. A stone fireplace was the focal piece of the room, a worn out cot that looked to be from the forties was placed in a corner, the bottom half collapsed. A table that was covered in black spots of mold and a chair that had once belongs to a kitchen set my mother had replaced years ago also occupied the room. Seeing the old chair made me shiver, reminding me that this was my brothers secret domain, a place of evil conspiracy's and doings.
I found a camping lantern placed in the center of the table and walked over to turn it on as Jasper walked around the edges of the room.
"There's another door." He called out over his shoulder. "Looks like some sort of cubby under the stairs. It was probably used to store canned goods or dry herbs."
I walked over to him and directed the beam of my flashlight at the door. He sat his flashlight down and pressed on hand against the wall, leaning into it while his other opened the door.
"Holy fuck!" I couldn't help but yell out, followed with a bout of coughing.
"What the hell is that?" Jasper asked though a gasp of his own, his voice scratchy.
"I think we found out what is smelling the place up." I pulled my shirt up over my nose and stuck my head in. "Jasper, hold the light up, will you?"
"Right there?" He asked, moving around my head.
"Oh shit!" We both screamed, scrambling over one another to get away.
We pounded up the stairs, my foot falling through one of the stairs with the force we were using. In our haste we didn't realize we were at the second landing till he busted through the linen closet, blinking against the blinding light.
Before we could utter a word or even take a breath, we heard another scream, making us both yell out again, and then we were blinded with pain.
"Oh god, my eyes!" Jasper squeaked, falling to the floor.
"Jasper?" Bella gasped. "Oh no! I am so sorry!"
"What did you do to us?" I whimpered, clawing at my face.
"Don't rub, it will make it worse!" She chastised, rushing to my side but not touching me. "I heard the yells and the sound of feet rushing through the house. I saw the pepper spray in my suitcase and just reacted."
"You sprayed us with pepper spray?" Jasper sounded as if he were crying.
"Just call the police, we have more information for them."
What Jasper and I had found was the body of Bree Tanner. It had taken weeks to get the results back to tell us who it was we had found. I barely remembered the name, only that she was a young girl that the police decided had ran away from home, nothing more than a statistic. Her parents finally had the ending, knowledge for their never ending grief. Their beloved daughter hadn't run away, she had been taken and held captive by my brother, a seventeen-year-old boy at the time. My brother had been buried and my family attended the burial of Bree Tanner. Bella, Lathan, and I were set up in the condo once more and was back to work during the weekdays.
As hopeful as I was that things would return to normal, it was nothing but wishful thinking. I had to remember that there was no true normal when it came to Bella's and my relationship. Lathan now occupied his own bedroom and Bella was back to the one she had used from the first night she came into my life. I developed a habit of sitting in Lathan's room and just watching him sleep. Bella never came forward but I could feel her, standing in the dark hall, watching me. I listened for her, waiting for her to scream out from her nightmare, rushing to her side and holding her till she calmed. We wouldn't speak of it in the morning, she hardly spoke at all. She would greet me quietly when I sat at the breakfast table with her only to bid me farewell just as softly. I received the same greeting when I returned home and went to bed. We had been back almost two weeks and I was losing my mind. I wasn't sure what to say or what to do. I only knew I needed her laughter and smiles, her warm touches, her usual enthusiasm for life.
I was brought out of my musings by Lathan squealing with laughter into the gym where I claimed I was working out. Instead, I was laying on the weight bench brooding.
"What are you doing?" I grinned when Lathan came zooming into the room in his walker. "I've missed that sound." I chuckled when he slammed on the tray to make it rattle, screaming over the sound. "You ready for a bath?" I bent and picked him out of the toy, glancing at my wrist watch and seeing how late it was.
Bella was at the sink in the kitchen so I left her to it and gave Lathan a bath and got him ready for bed. By the time he was asleep the house was silent. My shirt was soaked from Lathan's splashes, just as I pulled it over my head I heard a crash and Bella scream. Dropping the shirt, I ran from the room, finding her on her hands and knees in the living room.
"I-I'm sorry!" She cried out, her fingers red as she scooped up slivers of the shattered vase.
"Bella, it's okay." I got to my knees and pulled her against my back. "Look what you've done to your hands." I soothed into her ear, her body was shaking in my arms.
"I didn't mean to break it."
"I don't care about the vase. Let's get you cleaned up, okay?"
She nodded, not meeting my eyes, but allowed me to assist her to her feet and lead her into the hall bathroom.
"What were you thinking?"
"I was sweeping and backed into the shelf."
"Not about the damn vase. I'm talking about picking it up with your bare hands!"
I rubbed ointment into her palms, hoping they would heal up without causing her any problems.
"I was trying to clean up the mess I made."
"Snap out of it Bella!" I groaned with frustration.
She narrowed her eyes as me and stomped out of the room. That was more the reaction I craved. Now that I had seen some of it, I was eager to egg her on, silently begging for her temper.
"Don't walk away from me!" I stalked after her, grabbing her shoulders and spinning her around to face me.
"Don't touch me!" She yelled, slapping at my hands.
"You've made it abundantly clear you don't want me to touch you. You don't want me to speak to you either, or even take care of yourself and eat properly!"
"I don't need you to be my father, I have one of those already!"
"Then stop acting like you need one!"
"Maybe we should leave and go stay with Charlie for a while." She mumbled, trying to step around me.
I blocked her with my body, stepping forward which caused her to back up, pressing herself against the wall.
"You already tried that, remember? You agreed not to leave, not to take Lathan."
"You don't want us here anymore!"
"What makes you think that?"
"I killed your brother! How can you possibly be okay with me living under your roof?"
"What?" I scrunched my brows, studying her with confusion.
She slid to the floor, lowering her head and sobbing into her knees.
"It haunts me." She whispered. "Seeing his face right before he was killed, his blood covering my body."
"Bella, you didn't kill him."
"I couldn't stop him."
"No, you couldn't. That isn't your fault. Everything that has happened, he created. He knew what he was doing."
"What?" She finally looked up at me.
"I saw his eyes Bella, I may have not known him well, but I knew him better than anyone else did. He knew what he was doing when he pulled away from you and stepped further onto the track. For some reason, he gave up. He was ready. I will never understand him or his reasoning's for any of his actions, but I know that he knew what was going to happen."
"How could he do that to you?"
"How could he hurt everyone that he has?"
"I've treated you terribly."
"You went through so much; I was trying to give you your space."
"I thought you didn't want me here any longer."
"That can't be further from the truth."
"Honest?" She looked up at me with hopeful eye that shimmered with unshed tears.
"I promise. There is nowhere else I want you to be but beside me."
She launched, catching me off guard, and causing us both to fall backward to the floor.
"Why don't I start a bath for you, it might help you sleep?"
"Will you stay with me?"
"Of course." I smiled and pressed a kiss to her forehead before getting us both back to our feet.
I watched her walk into her room before I went to mine, going to the nightstand and opening the drawer. There sat the small squared, velvet box I had brought back from my parents' house with me.
Was I really going to do this?
"I know this is sudden, but we haven't exactly had a standard relationship. No, that's stupid." I huffed, pacing between the dresser and bed. "I'm already your sons father, why not become Mrs. Cullen, too? You're such a dick, Edward!" I growled, huffing in frustration. "Isabella Swan, I love you and Lathan more than I have ever loved anyone else. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife and making our family complete?"
My feet froze, eyes widening upon the sound of the quiet voice. Slowly I turned my head to the side and saw Bella standing in the doorway, watching me with what I could only call curiosity.
"What?" I asked stupidly.
"Yes. If you're asking me to marry you, then my answer is yes." I could see her struggling not to smile, her eyes filled with humor.
"I know we haven't exactly had a traditional courtship-"
"And you are already my baby Daddy." She interrupted me, now unable to conceal her amusement.
"I'd really appreciate it if you became my Mrs." I grinned foolishly back at her.
"Because you love me."
"I love you." I choked out.
We both rushed forward, meeting halfway, arms thrown around each other.
"Do you mean it?" I asked, peppering her lips with kisses.
"If you do." She giggled.
"It was my mothers." I lifted my hand and flicked open the box with my thumb. "My grandmother Cullen's before her, and her grandmothers before that. If you don't like it-"
"Edward, be quiet and put the ring on me."
I shut up and did what my woman requested, sliding it on the finger she wiggled in front of my face.
"It's a little big, but we can have it sized." Frowning at how it wiggled and the diamond fell down to the underside of her finger.
My heart was pounding and my chest felt tight as I looked at the face smiling back at me.
She was officially mine.
"Lathan, don't run! It's disrespectful."
We were at the graveyard to place flowers on Edward's parent's graves, something we did twice a year. We came on his mother's birthday and their wedding anniversary, we both chose not to come on the anniversary of their death. We had an unspoken agreement to place a single flower on Anthony's grave beside his mother and father. More for Lathan's sake, if it weren't for him, Edward and I wouldn't have our son. He called Edward Dad and didn't know any different, he was still too young to explain the situation and what had occurred to cause his Uncle to claim him as his son. It has been four years since Anthony's death and we have been married for three of them. Lathan was almost five and our daughter, Elizabeth, was two. They both looked so much like Edward it was unfair, I couldn't see myself in them at all.
"You okay?" Edward asked, placing a hand on my lower back as we walked up the hill.
"I'm pregnant, not invalid, Edward." I frowned at him.
"I can't help but worry." He chuckled, kissed the side of my head.
"This one better look like me." I huffed.
"We should find out soon. Only a few weeks left."
His face was of pure joy, eyes sparkling with excitement as he stared at my overly large belly.
We had moved out of his condo and bought a house on the outskirts of the city. Close enough he could commute to work each day, yet far enough away we could have a large yard for the kids to play in and if they had their way, a dog. I wasn't sold on the idea of a pet. If I left the decision up to Edward, we would have six of them because he couldn't deny the kids anything. Emmett had made a full recovery and Rosalie gave birth to their first child a month after I had Elizabeth. Their daughter was the spitting image of Rosalie; I was beginning to suspect their genes were just overpowering. Jasper and Alice were still childless and I suspected they would stay that way. I loved to watch them, seeing how obvious their love for one another was. Alice doted on him and he gave her his heart in many ways. Carlisle retired after everything happened, not wishing to leave his family again after the close encounters that had taken place; almost losing Emmett and Anthony threatening everyone he loved. He and Edward seemed to have a better relationship now, no more jibes were taken at one another at least and he and Esme acted as grandparents to our children. My father talked about retiring next year and moving closer to us, though I doubted he would really move. He had a few good friends and recently developed a love interest.
When I first met Edward, I felt as if I still needed to find myself, not realizing that my life truly began the moment I stepped through the buildings entrance in search of a Edward Mason.
Rose Colored Glass has been nominated in the poll to find the Top 10 fics completed in May at www . twifanfictionrecs . com