Story Title: The Gamble
Summary: Bella Swan has three choices: run away, marry Edward Cullen or stay with her father and face punishment for refusing his orders.
Pairing: Edward / Bella
Word count: 9862
Disclaimer: All things Twilight belong solely to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Isabella," Charlie, her father yelled from the foyer of their white colonial-style home. The pure-looking white home with the green shutters and brick walkway that masked the horrors of its owner.
Bella flinched, smoothed out her white blouse, and tugged on her school's cardigan before rushing downstairs. "Yes, Father?" she asked quietly.
"You're not going to school today," he informed her coldly. "I want this house spotless by six o'clock, dinner on the dining room table, set for four. Wear something presentable." He tossed a hundred dollar bill at her. "Don't be a fuck-up like your mother and Angela." He slammed the door on his way out, dressed respectably in his police uniform.
She brushed away her tears and tried not to think of her absent mother and runaway sister as she started her chores.
She wiped down the countertops and stove, cleaned out the refrigerator, tossed out the trash, swept and mopped. She placed the roast, potatoes, and rolls on the table. Finally, she slipped into a lacy, navy colored dress, french-braided her hair and waited anxiously in her room.
She was exhausted. And hungry. Maybe she'd be called down to join them for the meal.
She peered down from her bedroom window and caught sight of their guests as they climbed out of a darkly tinted Range Rover.
Edward Cullen and his brothers. Goodness, the three men were handsome.
She stepped back, away from the window, hoping they hadn't noticed her. She sank down on her bed and hugged her pillow to her chest. Simple math told her she wouldn't be called down to join them.
"The meal was delicious, compliments to the cook," Jasper spoke coolly, putting his napkin on his plate.
"Now, about why we're here," Edward murmured, "you owe me money, Charlie. A lot of money."
"I know," he rubbed his mouth, "but I need more time. I'll pay you back, I swear."
"And we've heard your performance at work has been slipping," Edward added, with displeased frown. "And it's your job that is keeping you in my good graces. But you must be punished, Charlie—another missed payment, four in a row. I can't stand for that." He nodded across the table to Emmett, who smiled.
"Please. Give me another month," Charlie begged.
Charlie's eyes went wild as Emmett forced him to his knees. "I don't have the money, but I do, I do have a daughter. She's a beautiful girl." Edward's nostrils flared, and Jasper's hand slipped into his coat. "I know you're in the business of sex and girls. She's yours for half my debt freed."
Edward motioned for Emmett to let Charlie up. "Isabella?"
Charlie nodded eagerly. "I've seen you eye her. She's yours." He called her downstairs with a loud bellow, "Bella!"
She checked her appearance in her mirror. The bruise on her cheek was fading and nearly unnoticeable underneath her makeup. She took a deep breath and hurried downstairs, stopping abruptly at the sight of them.
Hot. Handsome. Dangerous. Edward Cullen. Her mouth watered.
Edward's eyes swept over her. Her hair was arranged in a fancy braid, similar to the way Rosalie sometimes wore hers, auburn hair with a small rebellious streak of vibrant blue.
She was small, almost fragile. She wasn't as curvy as he usually preferred his women. Small breasted, but enough curve to stretch her dress and catch his eye. Her legs were creamy and smooth.
He wanted her.
Had it been anyone other than Isabella Swan, he would have put a single bullet between Charlie's eyes and walked away.
"How old are you?" he asked roughly, his voice thick with want. Please be of age, he begged the Gods, not that he deserved anything from them, not with hands as covered in sin as his were.
"Eighteen, I'll be nineteen soon." She spoke softly.
The devil inside of him smirked with glee. Old enough.
Jasper shot him a look, but Edward's eyes remained focused on her face. Her sweet brown eyes had always captivated him—not too dark, not too light, with flecks of gold and a warmth he hardly ever saw in his world. Not the brilliant shade of blue he normally sought out. He sucked in a deep breath and turned to Charlie. "You have yourself a deal."
Bella frowned and crossed her arms over her chest.
"We'll give you ten minutes to explain." He flashed her a charming grin.
He looked like a badass, even in his high-end suits that flaunted his wealth and privilege. He was certainly the one in control of the room. Dangerous. Sharp, intelligent green eyes, dark hair with flecks of gray. It was unruly and disheveled, and she blushed as she imagined running her fingers through it. He had a certain rough sophistication to him that drew her in like a moth to a flame.
"I'm not for sale," she hissed quietly.
"Everything is for sale at the right price, Izzy," Charlie's fingers dug into the soft flesh of her upper arms, hard enough that she knew she'd have bruises in the morning. "You either go willingly or... you'll find out exactly what happened to your mother."
She whimpered, frightened of him, as she often was. He ran his thumb over her bottom lip crudely, she could smell the stale cigarette smoke that clung to his skin. Her stomach turned over as he leered at her. "You're a pretty girl, Bella, you'll be just fine."
Her options were bleak all around—fight him and face punishment, run away... she almost snorted as she took in the eight inches of snow on the ground outside... or go with the Cullens, on the upside, she'd be free of Charlie. Mr. Cullen might turn out worse than her father, but there was a chance that he'd be better.
"Fine," she murmured.
She curled her arms around her middle, her gaze remained on the floor when they reentered the room.
Edward's fingers slid underneath her chin, his touch gentle as he pulled her chin upwards until their gaze met. "Hello, my sweet fiancée."
Her eyebrows rose, along with Jasper and Emmett's; his deep laughter spread through the room as his ears caught her almost silent murmur, "What the fuck?"
"Go pack a bag, darling, we'll need to go soon." He spoke softly, as though he was speaking to a skittish animal. His eyes followed her backside up the staircase, before he turned to his brothers.
"Make sure Charlie here pays for his crimes, Em. I don't want this fool thinking he can cross me, us again," he ordered. His rage boiled under his skin. What kind of a father sold their child?
"With pleasure," Emmett smirked, slipping a couple of his favorite rings onto his fingers.
"But I gave you..."
Edward cut off Charlie's pitiful plea. "To pay your debt. It doesn't erase the fact that you tried to play me. Hopefully, you're a smart man and you'll learn your lesson. Our next visit won't end well," he warned coldly.
"Try not to break anything, Emmett. Leave my future father-in-law in one black and blue piece," he taunted, smacking Charlie's cheek.
"You can't just marry that girl," Jasper spat quietly, lighting a cigarette. "It's fucking insane. In-fucking-sane."
Edward rolled his eyes. "I can and I will. Tonight, as a matter of fact." He held up his phone and showed him where the arrangements had already been made. "I'm not going to give you some romantic bullshit spiel about true love, but I want her. She will carry my name. My protection."
"She's mine," he said possessively. "I've wanted her for months. Call it my obsession. She's like a delicious hit of heroin. So back off, Jasper."
He took a long drag. "Fine, do you want me to tell one of the girls to add some female necessities to your room at the house?"
Edward snorted. "No, we'll be staying at my personal residence. There is no way I'm taking my new wife, my most likely virgin wife, to Haven. I want to introduce her to sex, not scare her from it for life." He smirked at Jasper, who had a certain taste—the only reason he had invested in the lifestyle club that had turned a surprising but remarkably steady profit. Jasper took great pride in making sure his club was the top of the line, completely legit; that none of their extracurricular activities touched Haven.
"Speaking of," Edward murmured, "we don't traffic girls. We put a stop to that shit when we took over for Pops. Porn brings in more profit without the risk, and it's legal. Will some stars turn tricks on the side? Sure, but that's not my business. I want you and Peter to start an internal investigation and see who's breaking the rules."
"And I'd start with Charlie."
Jasper nodded, stubbed out his smoke and followed Edward back into the living room.
Edward took Bella's suitcase and showed her out to the Range Rover as she clutched her backpack to her chest. "Where are your brothers?" she asked nervously.
"They still have some business to discuss with your father." He twisted the truth easily, as he drove towards the courthouse.
"Are you sure about this?" he asked, an hour later, her as she signed the simple but fair prenuptial agreement his lawyer had rushed down to the courthouse.
She raised an eyebrow and whispered quietly, "Run away, marry you, or stay with Charlie. I'm not big on gambling, but I choose you."
He smiled tightly. "You bet wisely."
A simple ceremony, an exchange of vows and a few signatures later, they were pronounced man and wife.
"You're beautiful, baby," he murmured, pulling her close. He smirked as he felt her entire body pressed up against his. He waited until she leaned into him. "May I?" he asked huskily against her ear.
She nodded, giving him the permission he had been seeking, and his mouth crashed down on hers in a short, hot, claiming kiss.
"Let's go home, my wife," he murmured.
The drive was a long one, fifteen miles out of the city, and she guessed it would take her nearly an hour to get to school. She managed to keep her jaw from dropping as his front gates opened. The landscape was impressive, vast, hundreds of acres of private land.
He drove down his drive slowly, letting her take it all in. She gasped as she saw the large pond and stable, before his majestic home came into view. It was breathtaking, stone and wood; it had the same sort of rugged handsomeness and polish that Edward exuded.
She slid out of the car and followed him into the lavishly furnished home.
He carried her suitcase up the stairs and opened the door to a beautiful, feminine bedroom. "This will be your room, for now," he announced, putting her bag down on the bed. She relaxed some when it was clear he wasn't going to rush her into his bed.
"What about..." She blushed a deep red as she trailed off, unable to ask him if they would consummate their marriage.
His brow wrinkled before slow realization stretched across his face. "We will when we're ready."
She relaxed a little and glanced around the room. "So... what now?" she asked nervously.
Edward rubbed the back of his neck. "Would you like to go out for dinner?"
"I'd... yes, I'd like that," she smiled shyly.
Their first evening together was spent over Chinese food, discussing likes and dislikes, filled with nervous chit chat and long moments of awkward silences.
At the end of the night, he walked her to her room and kissed her forehead before disappearing downstairs to his office.
"Edward," she spoke quietly, breaking the silence over the breakfast table as she pushed her eggs around her plate.
"Yes?" Edward asked, looking up from his newspaper.
Her eyes darted to the clock, "I... I need to go, I have school, but I'm not sure how I'll get there."
"I'm a senior at the Waldorf Academy, I graduate in May," she explained, blushing softly.
He nodded, forcing his expression to soften. "I'll take you. It's no trouble." He rose from the table.
The drive took forty-five minutes, and he realized that her school was located merely ten minutes from his downtown office.
He did a rough calculation as she climbed out of his Lexus—she had anywhere between two and three months left of school.
The first few weeks of their marriage passed quickly, though their conflicting schedules, his long work hours and her schooling left little time for them to spend together.
It was driving Edward half-mad.
"Did you just google 'safe cool cars'?" Emmett laughed, peering over his shoulder as Edward snapped his laptop closed.
"Shut up, fucker," he grumbled.
"Jasper," Emmett called across their office, amusement ringing his voice.
Edward snarled and jabbed his younger brother in the ribs. "I said, shut your mouth."
Emmett groaned and sank down in his customary chair. "This month's tributes," he tossed a folder on Edward's desk as Jasper joined them.
As his eyes scanned over the record, Edward frowned. "Benny's short, again. Is he using?"
"I don't know, want him tested?" Emmett asked.
He nodded. "Jasper, have Aro put the word out to our Congressmen and Senator, I vote No." He paused to check his phone. "Have you found anything out about the trafficking?"
"No, but I've cleared half the list. I'll figure it out. It'll take time without raising suspicion. I may have to talk with Detective Harvey, and that'll cost."
He ran a hand through his hair. "Good. Back to work boys."
"Have fun searching super cool cars," Emmett's laughter echoed through the office as Edward flipped him off.
"Go sleep with the fishes," he grunted. Jasper shook his head and closed his door as he shoved his younger brother out of Edward's office.
"Hey," Bella grinned as she looked up from her book and the notes that surrounded her. "You're in late," she noted, as she noticed the time.
"Sorry, my meeting ran later than I expected," he explained. "Did you enjoy the crab legs I sent for dinner?" he asked, as he sank down next to her on the sofa.
"Awesome surprise, thank you," she leaned over her book and kissed him.
He grinned, relieved to see that her bruise had finally faded away fully. "I brought presents," he announced.
He placed the creamy white Coach purse on her lap. "Open it."
"What's it?" she asked quietly as she pulled out an iPhone and set of car keys. She opened the wallet, which held her driver's license, debit card, credit cards, and insurance cards. "Oh," she whispered, with wide, doe-like eyes.
"Your monthly allowance should be fair. If you find that you need more, please feel free to approach me." She nodded weakly. "I added a little more this month; you need some new clothes."
"Edward this is a lot, too much," she murmured.
He shook his head. "And I went ahead and purchased you a vehicle. It's the white Audi sedan in the garage—the bow on the windshield should also give it away."
"You bought me a car?"
"I did. If you don't care for the color, we can always take it in for a paint job," he offered.
"No. I'm sure it's perfect, thank you." She hugged him tightly. "Really, thank you."
"So, now that I've buttered you up—tomorrow after school, I've arranged for you to go shopping with my sister-in-law, Rosalie. I hope I didn't overstep, but she's been dying to meet you."
She laughed genuinely and forced a brave smile. "I'm sure it'll be fine."
"Bella?" Rosalie asked, looking her up and down, before offering her a warm smile.
Bella tried not to feel insignificant, small, as she took in her in her sister-in-law who appeared to be an elegant and confident woman, as well as a knockout blonde. "Yes, hello," she forced a smile. "I'm sorry I'm late, I got a tad lost. I had to pull over and put the address into my navigation system, and that took me a few minutes to figure out," she rambled.
"It's okay," Rosalie assured her. "I'm married to Emmett, he's always running late. So, would you like to get a bite to eat? I know just the spot."
"Sounds good," she agreed, locking up her car.
"Follow me," Rosalie smiled, leading her down the street to a nice pub. "Welcome to O'Cullens," she said, pushing the door open.
"Hey, Rose," a young man called from behind the bar. He was tattooed, handsome. Green eyed and wild haired.
"Tim," she grinned, taking an open seat at the counter, "this is Bella, Edward's wife."
Bella's breath caught in her throat as he turned to look at her and she fully took in his features. Tim looked like a cross between Jasper and Edward. It was startling.
"Hey, Doll, it's lovely to meet ya," he winked at her as he placed waters in front of them along with menus, before heading to the other side of his bar.
Rosalie turned to her with a smile. "Ready for some really good family gossip?" she whispered.
"Uhh, sure?" Bella agreed hesitantly, returning her grin as she realized Rosalie was really trying to bond with her—that she was probably just as nervous as Bella herself.
"I'm sure you noticed," Rosalie's eyes darted over to Tim, who was serving a couple.
"I did, who wouldn't?" Bella snorted, and Rosalie laughed at her bluntness.
"He's a half-brother," Rosalie explained quietly.
"Oh," Bella murmured.
Rosalie nodded. "They didn't know until they were adults and took over the family... business. Emmett stumbled over the financial records. I think he guessed, but he took them to Edward, who figured it out." Rosalie paused to take a sip of her water. "From what Emmett has told me, it almost tore the family apart. The boys were appalled with their father. They weren't surprised that he had a mistress, but they were disheartened to find out that they had siblings who were living in near poverty."
"Siblings?" Her eyebrows rose.
"Yes, it hit the guys hard." She explained, "Timothy was just a young boy when they discovered him. Tristan was a toddler, he's a gangly teenager now." She pulled out her phone and showed her a picture of all five boys, with a small girl about four or five resting comfortably in Emmett's arms.
"Who's...?" Bella started to ask. Rosalie grinned, "That's Ashlyn, their baby sister. Different mother. Emmett and I have custody."
"She's a beautiful girl."
Rosalie nodded in agreement. "Edward, being the head of the family, he really stepped up. Blood is blood, it didn't matter the amount. He paid for their education, made sure his brothers were taken care of, never wanted for anything. After Tim finished junior college, he gave him the loan to start up O'Cullen's."
Bella blinked. "Wow."
Rosalie nodded. "No matter what anyone ever tells you about our husbands, they're great men."
Edward watched her graduate with a proud smirk. She was nearly glowing as she approached him after the ceremony. "I did it. I didn't fall flat on my face," she laughed, hugging him.
"You did great," he agreed, kissing her forehead. He held up a pair of plane tickets. "I think it's time we get away, for a proper honeymoon."
"Get away where?" she asked slyly, giving him a flirty grin.
"The Bahamas. Would that be agreeable?" he asked, not realizing how absurd his question sounded to her ears.
She blinked at him for a moment, overwhelmed. "Yes, yes, that'd be fine, perfect," she murmured, trying to play it cool.
The island was beautiful, with tropical vegetation and flowers everywhere. The colors kept her captivated on their long drive from the airport, and the soft breeze kept her cool. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky above.
The massive house could nearly rival the size of Edward's mansion back home. It was crafted beautifully with its soft yellow color and white shutters framing tall windows. Bella could imagine opening them all and letting the cool breeze of the ocean in.
"What do you think?" he asked, wrapping his arms around her.
He chuckled and showed her around the house that came with a full staff.
A few hours later, refreshed after a short nap, Bella peeked into his office. "Let's go swimming," she announced, stepping into the room dressed only in her blue and purple bikini and flip flops. "C'mon out of the suit, into some shorts," she ordered playfully, tugging him away from his desk.
He smirked to himself. His sweet little wife had no idea how tempting she was.
"Go on out to the pool, I'll be down in a minute."
Holy Hell, she thought, as he stepped out of the house in plain black swim trunks, shirtless, revealing a series of black-ink tattoos that seemed to cover his right arm from his elbow up, and across his chest and back.
As he dove into the water, she was mesmerized by the sight of his well-maintained physique. He was muscular, tattooed, a badass. Where the hell had her charming, buttoned-up CEO husband gone?
She gasped as he caught her in the water. "Hey," he smirked.
"Hey," she whispered as she ran a hand over his ink. Her eyes widened as her fingers traced over the letters of her name entwined and hidden in his newest piece.
"Like that, do you?" His eyes twinkled with pleasure.
"Yes," she admitted, leaning up to capture his lips in a long kiss.
His fingers burned over her flesh and brought out a need in her she couldn't describe. She let out a soft gasp as his hand slipped into her bikini bottoms.
He watched her with calculating eyes, measuring her readiness. With tremendous effort, he shook off his inner voice that told him to strip her and take what he wanted.
This was her first taste of lovemaking. He'd be gentle and build trust between them, because before it was all over, he knew he'd take everything she had to offer and maybe a little more.
His finger dove past her soft curls, into her welcoming heat, and he grinned as she shivered, her eyes dilated, twisting and bucking against his hand. He stroked her velvety soft skin, as his eyes drank in her pleasure and his cock strained against the mesh of his swim trunks.
"Edward," his name fell from her lips in a desperate plea.
"I've got you, baby," he promised her, circling her clit in rhythmic strokes. "Come for me," he ordered softly against her ear.
He watched her as she let loose a faint cry, when the wave of her orgasm washed over her. He held her close as she panted against his chest.
"We need to do that more often," she murmured against his neck.
He chuckled deeply, "We will." He helped her out of the pool, ignoring his own throbbing need, as he walked her inside. "Go get ready for dinner," he ordered playfully, smacking her butt gently as she headed up to their room.
He offered her his hand. "You look stunning," he complimented her sleeveless evergreen colored dress, paired with a pair of black stilettos heels and the discreet heart-shaped diamond pendant that she never seemed to take off.
He lifted up the sleek gold chain and stroked the pendant with his thumb. "Where did you get this?"
"It was my mom's." He nodded in quiet understanding.
He led her into the seaside restaurant for a romantic candlelit dinner on a private patio, where they enjoyed live piano music. At the end of the meal, he motioned for the performer to leave them.
He walked over to the piano, sat down, and tested the keys before playing her a soft melody.
"That was beautiful," she murmured, resting her head against his shoulder.
"I wrote it for you," he confessed.
She laughed, "No way?"
He rolled his eyes. "Yes, way." He pulled out a jewelry box from his suit pocket, "I should've given this to you sooner, but tonight feels right."
He opened the lid to reveal a beautifully crafted wedding ring, the smaller diamonds arranged artistically around an antique oval-shaped diamond. "This was my grandmother's," he explained, as he slipped the ring on her finger.
"It's beautiful." She kissed him softly. "I love it," she promised before he could ask.
His eyes flooded with lust. "Let's go," he grinned crookedly.
His smile fell away as he pulled into the driveway of the beach house, to find Anthony Rodley, a local drug lord, waiting for him.
"Edward?" Bella frowned.
He shook his head and pulled into the garage. "Go inside, Bella. Wait upstairs for me," he ordered, squeezing her hand.
He watched her brow wrinkle in confusion. "Go. He's an associate of mine."
Her stomach twisted as she watched Edward from their bedroom window. The man Edward was discussing business with terrified her. There was a coldness that surrounded him, an evilness.
She swallowed as she watched her husband hand the thug a briefcase after he shook his hand. He watched him leave before heading inside.
She sat at the edge of their bed. She had heard the rumors. Never believed them, but she couldn't ignore the facts, the proof she had witnessed.
She had married a criminal.
She turned the lights out and crawled into the bed, tossing and turning until she finally drifted off.
She was quiet throughout breakfast, unable to look at him. "I'm going to go for a walk," she announced, needing some space, too troubled to eat.
She offered him a tight smile that didn't reach her eyes. "Alone."
She walked out to the sandy white beach and watched the waves roll onto the shoreline.
Powerless to stay away, knowing something was troubling her, Edward followed her.
"Isabella," he called, frowning as she flinched away from his touch.
"You're a criminal. I mean, I knew that. For fuck sakes, you bought me from my father." She rubbed her face. "But you've been so kind, gentle. It was easy to believe the fairytales I was telling myself." She turned to watch his face. "But the pieces were there. I knew you were dangerous. I've heard the stories about your family, but I thought it had died out, modern age and all." She wrapped her arms around herself. "Plus you did business with my father," she snorted, "and there's no way he's a straight cop. He works for you, doesn't he? That's how he affords the house, cars, his gambling."
His mouth twisted as he gritted out a quiet, "Yes."
She sniffed, "And the Cullen family, that's all true. You run the city, quietly manipulating everything without raising a single eyebrow, from the government to gangs."
He nodded and rubbed a hand over his mouth. "I didn't want this life, I was born into it. I fought to get out. I did for a while. I went away to college. I got my degree, but it's in my blood. I came back when my mother fell ill. It was easy to get sucked back in, it's what I know. After a while, I took over my father's spot as the head of the family."
He ran a hand through his hair. "My brothers and I have tried to swing us towards legal businesses, out of the old school thinking, into a murky gray area. Is there still some shady shit that goes on? Fuck yes, but there always is. If I stopped, someone else would just take over." He stepped closer to her, "How can I fix this, baby?"
She shook her head and twisted her rings. "I don't know. I need to think."
"I've got to go into town, at least come back up to the house while I'm gone."
She sighed, "Fine." She followed him up to the beach house.
She spent most of the day flicking through channels, curled up in their bed.
She groaned. If she was smarter, she'd leave, pack her bags and bolt, drain her bank account and disappear to some small, obscure town in the middle of nowhere and spend the rest of her days waitressing under a false name.
Away from Edward Cullen. Far away from her father.
She pressed the home button on her phone and stared at the image of Edward laughing on her lock screen.
Her heart swelled and a feeling of intense affection and contentment spread over her as she skimmed through her photos.
How could she still love him? He wasn't the man she had believed he was. He was the villain. She frowned and clicked her phone off. He wasn't the villain, the bad guy—at least not to her. She pulled her knees up to her chest. He was her husband.
Edward stood in the entryway of their room. The tension drained from his body as he leaned against the doorframe and watched her, optimistic to find her still there. "Bella?"
She raised her head to look at him and gave him a small grin.
He held up a styrofoam container, with a weak, apologetic smile.
She scooted over and patted the spot next to her on the bed, offering him a tight smile when he joined her. She opened the container and smiled more naturally as she smelled the street tacos. "Thanks," she murmured. Together they ate in silence, watching old reruns of I Love Lucy.
"Are we ok?" he asked, uncertain and unsure, once their food was gone.
"I have a few questions," she stated.
"Go ahead," he agreed.
"If I wanted to leave, could I?" she asked quietly, watching him out of her peripheral vision. "Give me the truth, Edward," she demanded without raising her voice.
He stiffened. "I'll admit, there's a big part of me that screamed, 'Fuck no', but yes, I'd let you leave, divorce me. You're my wife, I don't own you. If you're unhappy, I'll let you go."
She met his gaze and asked thickly, "And our children, any that we may possibly have, in the far future, is this their fate?"
"No, of course not," he promised her. "I can't guarantee they won't follow in my footsteps, but I'm not going to sway them from their dreams."
"So..." he smirked at her, "You've thought about children?"
"Hush," she rolled her eyes, "Of course I have."
She put her hand up and stopped him from kissing her. "And Edward," she said sweetly.
"You might be a big bad Mobster, but if you ever cheat on me or take a mistress, I'll make you disappear, and I'd get away with it too, I've watched every season of Dexter," she warned him, smoothing out his shirt.
He laughed deeply. "Yes, dear. Message well received."
She leaned into him for a kiss, that led to two, three, followed by longer kisses that blended together as their hands urged things along. It was as though their revelations had removed the last barriers between them, leaving them perhaps for the first time, on a level playing field.
She drew in a deep breath as her nightgown hit the floor.
"Are you sure?" he asked, his eyes trailing over her matching soft pink bra and panties.
"Yes, I want this," she whispered assuredly.
The rest of their vacation was spent lounging on the beach, eating fine foods, and making love every chance they could.
"Oh my goodness," Ashlyn squealed as she took in all the glitter, pink and purple princess themed dinosaur decorations, and her table loaded with presents. "You really did it, thank you, Edward!"
"I wouldn't let down my birthday princess, would I?" Edward chuckled, scooping up his baby sister in a hug, his troubles seeming to melt away. "How old are you now, kid? Sixteen?" he teased.
"No silly, I'm six." She beamed, showing off her missing bottom front teeth. "Happy 4th of July, Bubba."
"Happy 4th to you too," he kissed her forehead. He placed her on her feet. "Why don't you get Tristan to help you with your tea party? I think he's lonely, I bet he'd like to play with you and your friends."
"Okay," she ran off to towards her moody teenage brother.
"Nice," Jasper snorted, handing him and Peter a beer.
"Careful or you'll join them," Edward warned. "Have you two made any progress?" he asked them, as he sipped the cold beer and flipped the steaks on the grill.
Peter shook his head. "No. I'm starting to think maybe Charlie was wrong. Every corner we've checked has come up clean."
Jasper cut a look to Peter, his mouth twisted, he nodded in agreement with his assessment. "Yeah." He took a long swig of his beer. He watched as his longtime friend walked off. "I'm going to keep looking," he murmured.
"Who's your date?" Edward asked, nodding to the small pixie-like girl with bright, colorful hair laughing with Bella and Rosalie by the pool.
"Alice. She may be the one."
Edward smirked and lifted an eyebrow.
"Don't fucking start," he grunted at his brother with a laugh.
Bella smiled at her best friends from high school as they slipped into the nightclub with Rosalie's help. "Don't drink too much, don't take drugs, stay together," Rose told them. "Call me for a ride when you're ready to go home," she ordered, giving Bella a hug. "And have fun," she smiled before leaving.
"This place is awesome," Jessica beamed, twirling in a slow circle on the dancefloor.
Emily, Jessica, and Bella giggled a tad drunkenly, dancing joyfully under the lights. "I'm going to miss you all so much," Bella stated, holding up her drink. "To college, to the future, to never losing touch," she cried, as they all took a drink and hugged.
The girls moved to the V.I.P. section and spent most of the night reminiscing, dancing and enjoying each other's company for what would probably be their last get together before their futures pulled the long time friends apart.
"So, where's your husband?" Emily asked as she handed Bella another drink. "I still can't believe you're married, it's crazy." She laughed.
Bella smiled, "New York, business. He'll be home tomorrow."
"I think you're wrong," Jessica snickered, turning Bella around to see her scowling husband.
"What are you doing here?" she blurted out, as Edward took her drink from her hand with a frown.
"Looking for my wife," he growled, pulling her close. His nostrils flared as he drew in her intoxicating cherry-vanilla scent.
"Girls, Sam will drive you home, as soon as you're ready to leave," Edward motioned one of his men over and made the introductions.
"Hello, ladies," Sam said, his voice deep and seductive, as he nodded to them respectfully.
Emily nearly swooned, and a silly grin spread across her face. "Hey," she murmured dreamily.
"Bella and I are going to head home and leave you in Sam's capable hands," Edward explained, before leading his young wife out of the club she wasn't old enough to be in after she said her goodbyes.
They entered the house quietly, and she moved to the staircase before turning sharply. "Hey... wait, how did you know? How did you find me?" she frowned, swaying slightly.
"Does it matter?" he asked mildly, his lips twitching as she struggled to kick off her heels.
She folded her arms over her chest. "Yes, of course! Have you been following me?"
He chuckled. "Personally? No, I have not been following you," he assured her.
Her nose wrinkled as she caught his deception, his careful wording. "Maybe not you, but someone. That's quite, you know what, that's disturbing!" she seethed.
He ran his hands down her arms. "I have enemies, baby. Quite a few of them. Someone is always watching over you," he murmured as he helped her up the stairs.
"Oh," she said slowly. "I love you, Edward."
"Are you just saying that to get out of your punishment?" He asked amused.
She stripped herself of her clothes. "Maybe, but it's true," she confessed, as she leaned up and his mouth dropped down upon hers in a hot, desperate kiss.
He tugged off his clothes before crawling after her on the large bed. He caught her, and smiled as she twisted so that he was on top of her. He held her hands over her head as he thrust into her.
It wasn't soft or gentle, as they were both driven by a need for completion.
She let out a loud cry, causing him to pull away in concern. But she would have none of that, locking her legs around him. "Please, more," she begged. He continued the assault on her body, using his hands, teeth, tongue. Pushing her closer and closer.
He felt his balls draw up, and snaked a hand between them to stroke her clit, needing her with him, for both of them to fall over the edge of oblivion together.
Her eyes snapped open as he sucked her nipple into his mouth.
"Come for me, baby," he ordered in a guttural rasp, "get there, Bella."
His fingers never stopped dancing over her clit even as he flipped them so she was riding him wildly. "Fuck, fuck, I'm, shit, I'm coming, baby," his eyes squeezed shut as her walls clenched around him. He groaned loudly as she rocked against him, his hot semen bathing her insides.
His arms circled around her as she collapsed against his chest. "I love you, too," he murmured as she drifted off, nearly missing his quiet confession.
The fall semester of Bella's freshman year started easy, and the months swam by as she adjusted to balancing college life and her marriage. It didn't take her long to settle into a comfortable rhythm.
"Do you have something?" Edward asked as Jasper put Charlie's payment on his desk.
Jasper shook his head. "Maybe. I'm having Jake look into a suspicion of mine."
"Very well, keep me informed." Edward turned and answered his phone. "Benny, you better not be saying what I think you are," he growled. "I'm coming down and you better have that thirty grand when I get there."
The Halloween party raged on. Bella could hear Edward's family enjoying themselves downstairs.
She sat on the edge of her bathroom tub, trying to will her headache and fatigue away. She took a deep breath as her phone chirped, letting her know her time was up.
She turned the test over and stared down at it.
She shook it, once, twice, three times, as if that would change the results. She flipped it around and stared at its reflection in the mirror. She closed her eyes then opened them and took in the two pink lines.
"Ready or not," she murmured, letting out a soft nervous laugh. Happiness and anxiety swirled inside of her as she headed back down to the gathering.
She smiled as Edward's arm shot out and pulled her gently to his side. "You look tired," he noted softly.
She laughed and decided to wait to tell him until after he returned home from his trip to Africa. "Stayed up too late last night waiting for you," she smirked, cheeks warming as she remembered the way he had taken her the night before. "I'm fine for now. Everyone will be heading home soon anyways, early flights tomorrow."
He nodded and pressed a tender kiss to her temple.
…First of November...
She watched Edward's personal plane take off with a heavy heart.
She paused at her car and looked around. It took her a few seconds to spot the familiar black sedan. She smirked as she pulled out, and sure enough, the car followed her onto the street.
She pulled into the parking lot of the O'Cullen Pub and headed inside. "Hey Timothy," she smiled, "I'll have your breakfast nachos and a large glass of pink lemonade."
"Doll, you know I don't serve lemonade."
"Yes, but Tim, I also know you have some in the back. Please," she gave him a pitiful, playful pout.
He grunted, "Coming right up."
"You're a treasure," she beamed, and texted Jacob, "I know you're out there, you might as well come in."
Jacob Black—he was taller, broader, his long hair was cut and styled nicely, but his warm brown eyes and wide smile were the same as she remembered from when she was a girl and her older sister Angela had loved him.
"Hey, Iz, look at you all grown up," he greeted her affectionately, dropping down across from her. "Or should I call you, Mrs. C now?" he teased her.
"Shut up, Jake," she snorted, thanking Tim when he dropped off her meal.
She picked at her nachos and watched Jacob, her heart ached for her sister. "I don't know what the hell you're doing, mixed up with my husband, but if my suspicions are correct, you need to keep your mouth shut and find a way out," she warned him quietly.
His eyes widened.
"I'm serious. Angela loved you; wherever she is, probably still does," she hissed. "I care about you, like a brother, but I love my husband. If I have to choose between protecting him or you, it's going to be him."
She smiled sadly, but her eyes were serious. "So please, I beg you, get your shit together before it gets you hurt."
"I'm trying to find her," he whispered. "Give me a few more days of digging, then I'll go. I don't give two fucks what kind of shady shit your husband is involved in. Someone gave her the documents she needed to start fresh, and I believe they're connected to the Cullens."
She chewed on her bottom lip. "Swear on her life that you're being honest?"
He held out his pinky to her. "I swear on the life of Angela Raye Swan and my own life as well," he swore.
"I assume you were assigned to be my guard this week. I'll help you, but I warn you if you're lying, I won't allow you to hurt Edward." She smiled sweetly. "But first, I need to go to my doctor's appointment."
"Very well," he agreed and took a large bite out of his hamburger.
Her doctor took her weight and height before leading her to a bathroom and handing her a cup. "Urine sample." Bella blushed and nodded.
She handed the cup off to a nurse when she stepped out of the bathroom, and the nurse directed her to a private room and handed her a gown. "Please put that on. Dr. Smith will be in with you in a moment."
"You've had no bleeding, abdominal pains?" The middle-aged doctor asked politely, after taking a sample of her blood, as he asked her a series of medical questions.
"None, a few headaches, some minor nausea, and fatigue but nothing worrisome, I don't think," she answered thoughtfully.
"And you don't remember when your last period was?" he asked.
"No, I don't remember."
He nodded, "let's do a quick ultrasound and see what's going on."
"Okay," she murmured as she laid back and watched the screen.
"And right here we have baby Cullen, one and a half inches long. You're eleven weeks," he proclaimed after measuring. "Everything looks good, so far." He took another vial of blood. "I'm going to send this off to make sure the little one has no major health issues. I'll see you in a few weeks."
"Thank you," she slipped out of the office with a copy of the ultrasound. She couldn't wait until Edward returned home.
Bella sat in the middle of the floor. She stared down at some of the last few pictures of her sister before she had vanished.
"The night she disappeared she worked the charity ball for the Cullens as a server."
"I know, she promised to bring home leftovers. I wasn't so young that I've forgotten, I was nearly ten," Bella grumbled, nibbling on a packet of crackers. "But she could have received the papers before she went to work. This could be a lost cause."
"Yes, she could've," Jacob agreed reluctantly.
Bella picked up one of the pictures as an idea struck her. "But you were right. She had help from the Cullen's. Just not from someone Edward or you would've used," she handed him the photo.
She picked up her phone and called Rosalie.
"Hey Bella," Rose answered, "hold on." She called for her Nanny before heading to the kitchen. "What's up?"
"Come over, we need to talk. It's important," she begged.
A short twenty minutes later, Bella opened her front door. "Come in," she led Rosalie back to the living room and handed her a picture of Angela.
"Did you help this girl, it would've been ten years ago?" she asked, "she worked for Esme, would've been timid, maybe showed up to work a few times bruised. Please, she was my sister."
"I did, I didn't know she was your sister." Rosalie stated, "Angie, she was a sweet girl. I tried to get Emmett involved but he couldn't interfere. It pissed him off but his father was still in charge of a lot of things. I had an old contact of mine help her. I gave her money to get her by for a while. I can get her new name but I have no idea where she ended up."
Bella hugged her. "Please, thank you."
Rosalie nodded and a few long phone calls later, she handed Bella the name. "I better get home. I'm sure Edward could find her for you."
"I'll find her," Jacob promised, tucking the name into his pocket.
"I know you will." Bella smiled sadly. "Don't come back. Jake. She's safer where she's at, far from Charlie."
"Come in," Edward called.
Bella kissed him softly. "I'll go," she decided, catching the serious look on Jasper's face as he entered Edward's office. "I'll see you at home, try not to be late," she requested, before leaving to get ready for the special evening she had planned.
Jasper walked over to Edward's liquor cabinet and poured himself a large glass of bourbon. He tossed his head back and drank it in four gulps.
Edward frowned as Jasper poured himself another round before sitting down across from his older brother. "Jasper?"
"It was Peter," he stated grimly, the betrayal written across his face. "He was the head of the group moving girls. It looks like James was his second in command, he was in charge of hiding the activity, keeping it out of the family. And you were right, Charlie was involved—he was feeding them information, even running girls in his spare time."
"I'll handle this personally. Peter was my close friend. I brought him in, I'll see him out," Jasper promised darkly.
"I'll take care of Charlie," Edward smiled slowly, his eyes glinting with hatred.
Bella carefully wrapped Edward's gift box that held a tiny keepsake onesie that read, "You're Going To Be A Daddy."
She double-checked her list, "Pasta, bread, salad, gift, candles." She frowned, "Crap, I forgot the darn cake." She glanced at the clock, she had time. She tugged on her sneakers and hoodie before heading out to her car.
"I have to run to the store, please stay out of the kitchen if you get home before me. Special surprise." Bella texted him, before pulling out of their driveway.
She headed into town to pick up the chocolate cake for dessert from his favorite bakery, but she missed the old truck following her.
She had barely stepped out of her car when a cloth was held firmly over her mouth. She tried to scream, but the world faded away too quickly.
She woke slowly, her head lolling from side to side, too dazed to fully fight back as her shoes were jerked from her feet. Consciousness rushed back as she was pulled out from her father's police cruiser.
"Dad!" She frowned as her vision cleared and her brain started to lose its fuzziness.
"Edward's going to be furious," she hissed. "He'll kill you. You should just let me go. Run."
"Shut up," he snarled, raising his hand to her. She yelped pitifully as the back of his hand connected with her cheek. "He's going to take my life, so I'm going to take yours."
Her eyes widened, and she tried to look for a weapon, something, anything. She needed a distraction and the words spilled from her lips, "If, if I'm going to die, at least tell me what happened to Momma and Angela?"
His eyes narrowed. "Your mother tried to leave me and take you girls with her. I couldn't have that, could I? I took care of her, the same way I'm going to do with you. If you are a good girl, I'll put you next to her in the garden." Bella froze. His grin twisted into a nasty smile. "Now my sweet Angela, the little bitch, got brave, decided she was going to leave, be like your mother." He glared, "but she was smarter than Renee, before she ran, she injected me with poison, tried to kill me. Bitch ran while I was in the hospital; I barely survived, but it caused permanent chemical castration."
She forced herself to her feet, and he sneered. "But I found her, I made her pay."
"Lies," she snarled. "She got away from you and all your nasty ugliness. Made a life for herself," she spat, before she took off in a sprint, as fast as her bare feet could stand on the deserted gravel road.
His eyes blazed with murderous rage as he caught her. He tossed his gun aside. "Let's make this personal sweetheart," he cooed madly, as she screamed and tried to kick him off her, his large hands cut off her air.
She tried to reach for his gun until she remembered the knives he always carried on his person.
Find his knife, her mind screamed. She twisted, bucked, scratched, trying to get him off her. He snarled, his grip tightened on her throat, and she could feel him trying to crush her trachea.
She knew if she passed out he'd kill her, he'd kill her baby.
Her fingers scraped against the gravel, against his back, his belt, she hit at him as she searched, till her heart jumped as she felt cool metal. She knew she only had a few more moments of fight left in her. She fumbled with the blade as she freed it from its sheath and before he could register what she was trying to do she plunged the knife into his side, underneath his ribs and yanked as hard as she could. Hot blood spilled over her in waves of slippery crimson.
He howled in agony.
"You filthy whore," he cried angrily, releasing her neck as he reared away from her. He stared at the knife with cold, frightened eyes. "I'm going to kill you," he gurgled, but she scrambled away, kicking him in his injured side. She fumbled towards the forgotten gun, silvery metal glinting under the moonlight. Her hands shook as she pulled the trigger repeatedly, emptying the clip.
She stared at him for a long time, frozen. Then finally, she hobbled over to him, felt his pockets and pulled out his cell. With shaky fingers, she dialed Edward's personal line. "Who is this?" he asked fiercely.
"Edward," she whispered faintly.
"Bella! Where are you?" his relief was instantaneous.
"I don't know. Help," she stated shakily. "I've done something bad," she confessed brokenly.
"Jasper, get a trace on this line. Now," he ordered, even as he headed for his car with Emmett at his side. He spoke softly with Bella, who didn't seem to comprehend anything he said, but thankfully the call stayed connected. He followed the directions Jasper gave Emmett.
"Bella?" he called to her. The horror, the shock carved across her beautiful face gutted him. "Darling, come here," he spoke to her evenly, stepping between her and Charlie's lifeless body.
He studied her, watching as she slowly started to recognize him. "Edward?" she sniffed.
"I'm here, baby," he held out a hand to her. "Take my hand," he ordered her tenderly. "You're safe, I'm here," he promised. He smiled as her icy cold fingers curled around his.
"Oh, love," he groaned as she collapsed against him, "I've got you."
"He tried, he.." she trailed off. "I had no-no choice, he was," she tried to explain. "I, I," she couldn't form the words.
"I know," he carefully brushed his thumb against her bruised and swollen face. Guilt crush him as he took in the evidence of his failure to protect her. "I'm here." He kissed her forehead. "I'm so sorry."
"I don't want to go to jail," she murmured, trying to pull herself together.
Edward frowned, curling his arms around her as he tucked her bloody body against his, "You won't. I swear." Emmett handed him a blanket and a bottle of water from the trunk of his car. Edward draped the blanket around her shoulders and pressed the water into her hand. "This never happened. No one will ever know. I'll take care of it," he promised her.
He looked over at Emmett. "Get Fergus and Benny out here to clean this shit up. Burn it, bury it, send it to fuckin' Mars for all I care."
Emmett nodded seriously. "Of course. I'll make sure he gets a burial he deserves."
Edward steered Bella back to his car and buckled her in.
He drove her home and led her up to their room and into their private bath. He stripped her carefully and looked her over for injuries before climbing into the shower with her. He washed her gently, as she stared blankly through him.
"I brought the doctor," Jasper called through the door.
"Tell him to wait, we'll be down soon."
"No," Bella barked loudly, breaking her silence as she looked up. Light in her eyes. Wariness. "I need to see him," she said urgently, her voice filling with emotion. "Now, please."
"Send him up," Edward corrected himself. He wrapped her up in a thick towel. "What's wrong, did he hurt you?" he asked anxiously.
"No. No," she assured him. "Our baby. I need to know our baby is okay," she whispered as his hand covered her stomach.
"Our..." Edward said thickly, forgetting to pull on his shirt.
"Baby," she nodded, love soothing away the darkness. "I'm pregnant. That's why I was making dinner," she explained, blinking back tears as she put on her nightgown.
His fingers laced with hers as her doctor looked her over. He checked her for a concussion, followed by her face for fractures before he ran a few simple tests in their small medical room. Bella tried not to think of the list of reasons why they'd need this room.
"And right there," Dr. Smith grinned, his frown melting away to relief as he pointed to the portable ultrasound screen, "that's your baby. Actually, babies—one of them must have been hiding. They're completely fine," he assured them. Bella squeezed Edward's hand as their heartbeats swooshed through the room. "I received your blood results back Friday. They have no markers for any genetic disorders. Would you like to know the sexes?" he asked them.
"I thought I had to be further along?" she whispered.
"The blood screening analyzes your children's DNA. It's used to check for genetic disorders, like cystic fibrosis or Down Syndrome, but it also detects your baby's Rh blood type and gender," he explained.
Bella glanced at Edward hopefully, and he nodded. "We'd like to know."
"A boy and a girl. Congratulations."
Edward gently placed his hand over the swell of her belly. Underneath his fingertips, his children moved, her stomach tightened, and he was overwhelmed with satisfaction.
Bella groaned and twisted in her sleep. She cursed him. He chuckled to himself and pulled his hand away. He didn't want to wake her, she needed her rest. The twins were due in a few more weeks and were already exhausting their mother.
His eyes widened as he registered the sudden wetness of their bedsheets, followed by another miserable groan. "Edward," she whispered.
"I know, I'm here," he helped her up and into a fresh nightgown. The drive into the city was the longest of his life.
The hours ticked by as the birthing center took over her care.
It was a long twelve hours later that Bella lay back in relief. Her son lay peacefully in her arms as he nursed greedily.
Edward held his daughter reverently against his chest as he rocked her gently next to Bella's bed.
She smiled tiredly as her brothers-in-law entered the room with their girls. "They're beautiful, Bella," Rosalie whispered.
Jasper asked quietly, "How are you feeling? Need anything?"
"Yes, baby, how are you feeling?" Edward asked, concerned, as he looked up from their daughter's face.
She grinned, her chest swelling with joy, tears clouding her eyes as she took in the family that surrounded her. How much her life had changed in a little over a year, when she had been forced to make the gamble of a lifetime. "I'm fine," she promised thickly. "I am," she chuckled softly.
"Pain meds," Emmett teased.
She rolled her eyes. How could she possibly explain her emotions at that moment? She smiled as Edward pressed a tender kiss to her forehead. Maybe she didn't need to explain after all.
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