Authors note: there are a few of my readers who take great pleasure in pulling apart my storyline and pointing out all the 'inconsistencies' and things that don't add up to them. If you read the author notes I've put on some of the other chapters you'll see that I do not claim to know much about Hollywood nor do I know much about the law in the U.S. or here in the U.K. where I live. I'm writing a love story, if you want cold hard facts, I suggest you write and research your own story. I used my imagination in most instances (I only research certain parts. Otherwise you'd never get an update), and this is a work of FICTION, and it's FREE. If you don't like it, please feel free not to read my story. This is one of the many reasons I disappeared for over six months. Constant nit-picking and my mental state didn't go well together. So, this is the last time I shall mention these things.
Beta'd by Frannie one of best ladies I know even though I've never actually met her! ( I hope to one day.) All remaining errors and inconsistencies are all mine!
The next morning, Edward examined the papers that littered his desk with a deep frown, while Benjamin studied him with a curious mix of elation and trepidation. He had found out many things that didn't quite add up. He knew that his next suggestion wouldn't be popular with Edward, but it really was the only answer.
"You're going to have to speak to Bella, Edward," Ben said tentatively. "She was nearly eleven years old when she disappeared from her mother's home. She might be able to fill in all the gaps in what we know."
"No. I don't want to involve her yet. She's been through enough...not yet, okay?" Edward was adamant, brushing aside Ben's suggestion without even considering it.
"I know you want to keep her safe, but this is her life! She should be made aware that her parents are alive. Aro Volturi kidnapped her and lied to her for seven years! She deserves to know!" Ben argued.
Edward paused, rubbing the bridge of his nose tiredly. Ben was right, and he knew it. He just didn't want to be the reason why Bella would, once again, be afraid.
But it was undeniable that only she could fill in certain gaps. This was a cold case, closed a year ago, without much evidence or any leads. Even Charles Swan, with all his money and prestige, hadn't been able to find one missing girl half a world away. Thousands of children disappeared every year, and very few were ever found.
Edward sighed, long and deep. Squeezing his eyes shut he rubbed at them before replying. "Yeah, I know you're right. I'll speak to her after this. Did you find out about Aro's background?"
"Yes, and none of it's good. He was, and may still be part of a global crime syndicate; originally he was one of the heads." Ben leaned over, withdrew a case file and handed it to Edward. "Three brothers working together, specialized in human trafficking. An abduction such as this isn't farfetched for someone like him. The only question is why? Money or malice is my guess, or maybe both." Ben cleared his throat and continued. "He kidnapped her from her mother's house, told her that he was her uncle and that both her parents had been killed in a car accident. She was ten years old, she believed him, even though he isn't actually related to either of Bella's parents. Maybe he showed her something to reassure her, a document, a picture, something - anything. Children are easily led. She goes with him, and he smuggles her out of the country and keeps her with him, waiting for something. But what?" Ben mused, summing up what he has so far. "Her father paid a lot of money for a massive search that turned up nothing. He is estranged from her mother, they don't speak much. But why is Bella important to Aro? Or is she some sort of leverage?"
Edward watched him, listening to his words with interest. "Have we looked into Charles Swan's background? Who was he behind the scenes? Is there any connection between either of Bella's parents and Aro?"
"I was about to suggest that. I'll get on it now." Ben said rising from his chair.
Edward nodded at him, eyes troubled. "Call me when you have something."
"Will you speak to Bella?"
"Yes, I'll have to find out what she remembers." Edward agreed reluctantly.
Ben left quickly, eager to conclude this strange case and build his reputation up even more than he had already, with Edwards help of course.
Edward went to find Bella. She was sitting on the sofa in the living room, listening to music and reading, her hair in a messy bun and wearing a baggy, gray sweatshirt and a pair of worn jeans.
She was the total opposite from the Hollywood siren of the night before, and Edward loved that she could be both siren and the girl next door.
He went to sit beside her, on the edge of the sofa. She moved slightly to give him room but otherwise stayed where she was. They were comfortable together although that undeniable pull of gravity between them was still there.
"How's your head?" Edward asked with a smile. They had consumed several alcoholic beverages the night before, and although he was used to it, he knew Bella wasn't.
She grinned at him, easygoing friendship and mischievous glee in her eyes. "My head is fine. I'm just a little tired. And how are you? You ran off pretty quickly when we got home."
Edward stared at her, a slightly bemused expression on his face, "I was tired I guess. Sorry about that."
"Trying to protect me again?"
He laughed at the truthfulness behind her words. "Yes." He admitted honestly. "It's becoming a habit."
Bella grimaced, her nose wrinkling up adorably as she shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe I don't want you to protect me anymore, Edward. Maybe I wish you'd forget who I am and who you are and just do what you want to do."
He looked away awkwardly at her blunt admission. That was exactly what he wanted to do, forget where they were and who they were - he even wished he could forget that he was responsible for her safety.
So he did the only thing he could, he changed the subject.
"Bella, I need to speak to you about your past. It's important that you tell me what you remember about that night Aro came to get you."
Bella flinched at the mention of Aro's name.
"I don't remember much." She evaded, clearly uncomfortable.
He leaned in closer to her, his eyes earnest and pleading. "Please try and remember what you can, anything. It's important, Bella."
"Why now? Why is it suddenly so important that I remember this Edward? I don't understand."
Edward held her gaze, his own apologetic. "I've found out some information about your past, and I need the details from you to find a lead. Any lead..."
Bella sat up, her book spilling onto the floor unheeded. Her heart was pounding with fear, and her mouth was as dry as the desert. Images flashed through her mind unbidden, uncertainty and fear threatened to choke her.
"What did you find?" Her wide eyes were fixed on his now fearful gaze. "Edward tell me."
He cleared his throat, not sure of how much to say. Did he just tell her everything he'd found out? Or did he conceal at least some of the truth to protect her?
"Bella, I need you to be calm, okay? I'll tell you what I know, but I can't risk you freaking out."
She nodded shakily, pushing at him to get him to move so that she could sit up. Taking a deep breath, she rubbed at her temples with visibly shaking hands, before turning fearful eyes towards him.
"Tell me." She urged her voice a quiet command.
Edward stared at her lovely face, watching each reaction as if his life depended on it. "I've found out who you are." He stated softly.
At her blank look, he elaborated; I've found your parents."
All color drained from her face as her lips moved soundlessly. Gasped breaths escaped her lips as her hands rose to clutch at her throat as if she were being suffocated.
"Bella? I'm sorry; I shouldn t have just blurted that out. Are you okay?" Edward went to kneel in front of the frozen girl, his strong large hands gripped her shoulders tenderly, pulling her against him. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, his hands now stroking her back as his arms enveloped her in a warm embrace.
"Where...who...are they alive?" She whispered at last.
Clearly confused, Bella pulled away from him, gaze accusing. "Why didn't you tell me that you were looking for them? They are my parents after all."
"I know, and I'm sorry, I should have told you. But I didn't know what I'd find, and I wanted to keep you safe."
Bella smiled softly at his admission before a frown creased her forehead. "Tell me - what did you find?"
Edward shook his head and watched her with slightly worried eyes. "I need you to tell me what you remember first. I don't want to influence your memories with what I know. I will tell you everything, Bella, but first, you must share with me what you remember."
Bella nodded, at last, her face truly pained. "Okay. I trust you."
"What happened the night you met Aro?"
There was silence as Bella stared into space, her hands reaching blindly for his as her eyelashes fluttered trying to hold back tears.
Taking a deep breath, she began; "Mom had gone out earlier with my father. They didn't often go out together because they fought a lot. We didn't live together like normal families. I remember that I hated it, because I hardly ever saw my Dad. " A fat year escaped and trickled down her cheek as Bella took a deep breath and with a shuddering sigh, continued.
"That night Mom told me she was going out with Dad and that she'd be late. I found it strange, but I was happy that they were talking and doing stuff together. I went to bed early. I woke up with a fright, and it was much later, after midnight. I was scared being alone at home. I tried to call her cellphone, but it just beeped. I was about to call the police when there was a knock on the door. I wasn't supposed to open the door for strangers, but I didn't know what else to do so I opened it with the safety latch still on. Three men stood there, and two were in police uniforms. The third man told me that there had been an accident and that he was my uncle. The policemen told me that my parents had been killed in a car accident and that I was to go with my uncle who called himself Aro. My mother had mentioned an uncle I'd never met, so I went with him... I was so scared; I thought I had to go."
A heavily loaded pause resonated through the quiet room as Edward held Bella's hand and she swallowed the tears, which threatened to overcome her completely.
"Edward...?" She asked, voice broken and small.
"Yes, Bella, what is it?" He replied softly, voice pained.
"He lied to me, didn't he? I went with him, and I didn't have to. They all lied..." Bella choked on the last word, her sobs taking over as she fell against Edward, her face buried against his shoulder.
He cradled her, his nose against her hair, inhaling her scent as his heart bled for her realization, her pain.
"Yes, they lied." He said as her sobs began to abate. "He isn't you uncle, Bella, he's nothing to you."
A shudder shook her small frame as she lifted a tear-soaked face to his. "Who are they?"
There was no need for him to ask whom she meant.
"Charles and Rene. They live here, in the U.S."
He watched as she digested that information. "Did they look for me?"
"Yes, they searched for years but found nothing."
A ghost of a smile touched her mouth. "So they did want me..."
"They didn't give up for a very long time until they had to face the fact that you were gone...dead."
"Dead! They think I'm dead?" She gasped.
"There were no clues as to where you were or who took you, they finally believed the worse."
"Can you find them, Edward?" Bella asked with hope blooming within her as fiercely as a forest fire.
His gaze was guarded as he replied. "Yes, I think I can. But can you please just trust me, Bella? I'll tell you what you need to know as soon as I know it. Aro is still a problem, even though he has been silent, I'm worried he won't give up without a fight. The reason he kept you all these years must still be there, I need to find out what it is."
Bella slid a trembling hand up along Edward's neck as he spoke, her fingers burying themselves happily in the thick hair at the back of his head, casually doing what she'd always dreamed about while he was absorbed in what he was telling her. "I trust you completely." She agreed softly, her tears evaporating in the face of a deep yearning, which was never far from the surface whenever Edward was near her.
A massive shudder shook his body at her touch, his words dying on his lips at her hungry, focused gaze fixed onto his mouth.
God damn! This was sweet torture of the most painful kind. In the weeks since he had found Bella, she had become everything he'd ever wanted and more. She ruled his world already, just as Josh had captured his heart with his boyish charm.
Her touch sent a shot of pure desire through his veins, and he couldn't control his response.
With a soft groan, he leaned in and captured her lips in a featherlight kiss. Bella whimpered as powerful sensation rushed through her being in wild waves of pleasure. Their tongues tentatively touched and then tangled as they melted into each other.
Bella clung to him, the very source of the storm that was brewing deep within her.
She needed him more than her next breath, more than anything she could think of. A deep ache began between her legs as Edward deepened the kiss still further.
The only sound in the room was of their breathing, heavy and erratic. Edward pulled her as close as she would go as his hands framed her face with passionate reverence.
"I need you." Bella heard herself say through kiss-swollen lips as Edward released her mouth to trail kisses along her silky jaw and neck.
"I need you too," Edward growled, low and deep as he, for the first time admitted what he'd felt for a long time.
"Please take me...I want you to do it...I want you to fu...make love to me...please." Bella said simply, stumbling over the dirty word she would otherwise have used.
A silent curse left his mouth as he pressed his forehead to hers fiercely. "How many days until your birthday?"
Bella pulled away and frowned at him, confused. "What? "
"How many days until you're eighteen?" He repeated, his gaze stormy with suppressed desire.
Her lust filled brain struggled to think clearly, "Two days."
Edward grinned at her confusion and pressed a gentle kiss onto her mouth. "When you're legal I'll do anything you want. But now, as your self-appointed guardian, I can't touch you like that."
Bella blinked up at him. "You're going to give me...you...as a birthday gift?"
"I hadn't thought of it that way - But yes - if you'll have me." His grin was crooked and as sexy as all hell.
Bella found herself smiling back, her stomach doing an excited flip at his intensity.
Edward wanted her.
"I will have you!" She said quickly."I mean, I want you..." No, that wasn't right either, she took a deep breath. "Yes please." She said finally, feeling as if she'd won the freaking lottery at the look of happiness on Edward's face.
Authors note; thoughts?