So, none of this is mine. I wrote the first chapter for a contest and now, I'm expanding it. What I own … a condo and too many books. What I don't … Twilight and all its characters.
And that's all she wrote. They're married and they got their happily ever after. We're going to have an epilogue and then the sequel will probably begin in the summer. A few words of appreciation before we get to the final chapter of Married to the Mob … first off, thank you to Christina Downs for betaing my submission for "We 3 Mobward" contest. She polished my words, making them shine.
Chapter Thirty: Epilogue
"I'm surprised you chose a beach locale for our honeymoon," Bella said as she lay on the teak chaise lounge. Her eyes were covered by large sunglasses. "With your injuries, I'd figure you want to stay out of the sun."
"I am out of the sun," I said, from my spot underneath a palm umbrella. I also had on a t-shirt, hiding my scarred back. I knew I was destined to have a 'farmer's tan' for the rest of my life, or until I could be more comfortable in my own skin. I was fine with Bella seeing me. She loved me, accepted me for who I was and never judged me. Granted, she still felt like my scar was a cruel reminder of my ordeal. She would look at it, with anger in her eyes, but she'd calm down when I reminded her that I was okay, alive and so very much in love with her.
"Well, regardless, I'm happy we're here. When I looked at the weather in Chicago, I saw that it was a whopping two degrees as the high," Bella giggled, looking at me. "I took a picture of our villa and sent it to our family."
"What did they have to say?" I snickered, closing my book and quirking my lips into a crooked grin.
"I got a lot of texts of middle fingers and fuck you's," Bella answered, picking up her magazine and flipping through it. We'd been on Turtle Island in Fiji for almost two weeks. The first couple of days, we made love and recuperated from the nearly twenty-four-hour flight. We were staying on the island for a month, staying in a secluded villa. We only interacted with the employees when we decided to go to the main resort for a meal or for any of the planned activities, like zip-lining, horse-back riding or scuba diving.
"You're poking the bear, Bella," I laughed, getting up and slipping my legs into the warm water of our private pool. "Emmett hates the cold. He'd rather eat himself out of house and home and hibernate during the winter."
"What about you?" she asked, sliding into the water, swimming between my legs. I eased into the water, holding her in my arms. "Hmmmmm?"
"I'm like Emmett. I'm not a fan of the cold, but I don't want to hibernate. Instead, I find ways to keep my mind occupied. Have you ever skied?" I asked.
"Edward, I can barely walk on flat surface. You think strapping some wood on my feet and sending me down a mountain would be wise?" she giggled. "I'd probably break my neck."
"I think you'd like it," I said, untying her bikini top.
"What are you doing?" she asked, arching a brow.
"Heaven forbid you get tan lines, baby," I said, removing her bikini. I ran my fingers along her spine and moved my hands to her breasts.
"You just wanted to see my tits," she smiled. "But, my cooter is sore. Too much love-making."
"I'm sore, too. I'm old," I laughed. "But, that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy the view."
"Perv," she said, turning around and leaning against me, her legs floating up and her nearly naked body glistening in the warm water and the sun. "But, you're my perv."
"Damn straight," I said, cupping her breasts.
We stayed in the water for a few more minutes and Bella got out of the water. She removed her bikini bottoms, laying down on the chaise, completely naked. "Tan lines … dreadful things."
"Minx," I snorted.
After a day in our private villa, we went to the main resort and spent time with a few of the other newlywed couples. Bella was a beacon of light, making friends and laughing with our fellow honeymooners. We'd become pretty close with a couple from South Africa. Bella just listened, entranced by their accents. The woman, Tia, was a nurse and her husband, Benjamin, worked in the import/export business. From the look on his expression, his import/export business was not necessarily legal. When the two of them left to get something from the bar, Benjamin leaned closer to me. "You have the same look in your eyes, Edward," Benjamin smirked.
"A look of love?" I asked, sipping my beer.
"Well, that too. Your wife is a beautiful woman. You are very lucky, sir," Benjamin laughed. He gestured to my signet ring. "I know of your family."
I quirked a brow. "Benjamin, I'm on my honeymoon," I said sternly.
"As am I, my friend," Benjamin said. "But, I'm not about to let an opportunity like this slip through my fingers." He took out a cigarette, lighting it and offered it to me. I shook my head, waving him off. "I know you know that I'm dealing in other things besides import/export. I'm looking to expand to the states." I arched a brow. "Look, I know I won't be able to get you to discuss things here."
"No," I chuckled. "I tend to avoid mixing business with pleasure. I almost lost my wife because of that."
Benjamin took a deep inhale of his cigarette. "She knows?"
"Yes, she knows," I nodded. "She's entrenched in my world, but it's not by choice. I would like to explore the possibility of a venture, but I have to complete my due diligence. I don't go blindly into a business venture without doing my research. If you have a card? Information? I could pass along your information and once I return from my honeymoon, if you've passed inspection, I'll be in touch with you."
"And if not?" Benjamin asked.
"I'd hate to make Tia a widow at such a young age," I said, finishing my beer, not joking in the least. Benjamin's eyes widened almost comically. "You know the dangers of the world and I'd hate to do that, but if necessary, I will. I like you, man. Bella likes you and she's a pretty good judge of character, but I don't know you."
"You really are a hard-ass," Benjamin chuckled nervously. I nodded. He reached into his pocket, pulling out a card. He jotted something down on the back. "This is my business website, but on the back, on the dark web, is my other site. Check it out and let me know if you're interested."
"There are a few things I do not deal in … drugs and people," I said, my voice quiet, looking around the darkened bar.
"Fuck that with people," Benjamin growled. "My little sister was … yeah, she was fucked up. I work in tech, weaponry, computers."
"And you post that shit on the dark web?" I asked. Benjamin nodded. "Huh …" I looked at the card and sighed. "Let me pass this along to my associates. I'm recovering from an injury and we're taking a longer honeymoon than most. I'll be in touch, probably by early spring."
Tia and Bella came back, carrying beer bottles and giggling like school girls. It ended my conversation with Benjamin and I pulled my wife into my lap. She smiled, kissing me, tasting like beer and whatever shot she did with Tia. I held her tightly and we stayed with Tia and Benjamin for another hour or so, making plans to go horseback riding the following day, if our wives weren't too hungover.
We spent the rest of Tia and Benjamin's honeymoon with them and Benjamin did seem to be an okay guy. I'd sent a picture of his card to Jasper and preliminary reports indicated he was on the up and up. When they left, Tia and Bella exchanged email addresses and I said I'd be in touch with Benjamin upon my return from our trip. After they left, Bella and I holed ourselves up back in our villa and made love, consummating our marriage on every flat surface of the villa.
The morning we left Turtle Island, it was dreary and rainy. Bella pouted. "I don't want to go."
"We'll come back, dolce," I said, kissing her neck. "Besides, I want to take you to Europe, to Italy."
"Will I get to hear you speak Italian?" she asked, her eyes brightening.
"Among other languages," I said, kissing her knuckles.
"What can't you do?" she laughed as we got onto the small plane, flying us from Turtle Island to Nadi International Airport. From there, we'd be flying to Hong Kong and then to Switzerland for a week in the Alps. I was determined to get her on a set of skis. "Seriously, Edward. You're brilliant and multi-lingual?"
"Obviously, I can speak English, and Italian. I also can speak French, a bit of Russian and fake my way with Spanish," I chuckled. Bella harrumphed, wrinkling her nose. "What's this? Why are you grumbling?"
"To quote Corbin Dallas from The Fifth Element, 'I speak two languages: English and bad English.' I want to learn how to speak a foreign language," she pouted. "Like you, I could fake my way with Spanish. I could prattle on with the dishwashers at The Swan Dive, but was it grammatically correct? No."
"You can do anything, Bella," I said, kissing her forehead. "Absolutely anything."
I wrinkled my nose, my foot elevated with piles of pillows and an ice pack on my right knee. We'd been in the Alps for a couple of days. The first day, we'd slept and the second day, we made love in our bedroom, overlooking the Matterhorn. It was gorgeous, in its stark, icy, ragged beauty, until you were tumbling down that mountain. As, I predicted. "I told you, Edward. Be grateful it was only a sprain," I said, waving my finger at him.
"I get it, love," he laughed, sitting down on the cocktail table in our Swiss chalet. "Here, take your pain pill. I'm sorry about forcing you onto skis."
"I told you," I sang, sipping the water and taking the Vicodin prescribed by the physician from the chalet. "I'm a klutz, Edward. You've known me for how long?"
"I'll give you props for going down spectacularly," he snickered. "I never knew you were so bendy."
"I'm not," I deadpanned, pointing to my sprained knee. He looked at me sheepishly, making a face. I poked his belly, smirking and giggling. "But, now, you're my indentured servant. Slave, do this. Slave, do that! Slave, bring me food. Slave, rub my feet. Slave, eat my pussy."
"The doctor said no strenuous activity, cara. I think that includes sex," he snorted. I crossed my arms, pouting petulantly. "At least we have a gorgeous view …" He pointed to the absolutely picturesque landscape of the Swiss Alps. It was freezing cold, the complete opposite of Turtle Island. It was striking, but I would have preferred the warmth of the south Pacific to the frigid cold temperatures of the Swiss Alps.
"It is pretty. It would be prettier if my slave was naked," I quipped.
"Ha, ha, Bella," he said, covering me with a blanket. "You comfortable?" I pouted and nodded. He kissed my temple and got up, turning on some quiet music and lighting a fire in the fireplace. I knew I'd be out, thanks to the medication, in a few moments. Edward sat behind me, putting a pillow on his lap. I snuggled and put my head on the pillow. "You okay?"
"This can't be comfortable for you," I said, blinking up at him. His face was tanned from our time in Fiji, making his emerald eyes pop. His bronze hair had blonde mixed in with it and he looked so much younger, a lot more relaxed. "You're so pretty, Edward."
"Men are not pretty, dolce," he chuckled, caressing his fingers down my cheek.
"You are, Mobward. I have declared it," I giggled, feeling the effects of the Vicodin.
"Okay, love," he said, his hands threading with mine.
"You don't believe me?" I asked.
"You're drugged, Bella. I'm okay-looking. You, mia cara, are the beauty of this outfit," he said, kissing my forehead. "Close your eyes, love. Please, try to rest."
I sighed, cuddling closer to Edward. He idly played with my hair, humming quietly along with the music as he read his book. I eventually drifted asleep and when I woke up, I was in our bed in the chalet, looking at the eerily lit Matterhorn. It was a full moon, making the snow on the mountain appear iridescent. Edward was next to me, snoring quietly. I sat up, needing to pee. I looked around for my crutches, but didn't see them. With a groan, I swung my legs off the bed and hobbled toward the bathroom. My knee was throbbing something awful. I stumbled and Edward shot up. "Bella?"
"Over here," I said, grasping the dresser, trying to balance on my good leg.
"Bella," he chided, getting up and lifting me easily. "Why didn't you wake me?"
"You were so cute, snoring and drooling," I said, grimacing as he sat me down on the counter. My leg was throbbing. "I think I need another pain pill and more ice. After I pee. I think I can handle it from here. Down, please?" He picked me up and I waited until he was out of the bathroom before I shimmied off my panties. I peed and sighed because my bladder was about to explode. When I was done, I tugged up my panties and used the counter to move so I could wash my hands. Edward came back, standing behind me and helped me with my hands. "My leg is what's injured. Not my fingers."
"I know," he said, kissing my neck. "I just wanted to help you." He kissed me again, carefully picking me up and putting me in the bed. "You need to eat since you slept through dinner, dolce. We've got meat, cheese and some olives."
"I'd really love some chocolate," I said. "God, Swiss chocolate is to die for."
"You'll get some chocolate when you finish your dinner, Isabella," Edward teased, picking up a piece of cheese. He fed it to me, with a wicked glint in his eyes. We shared my snack and he gave me a half a pill with some chocolate and a bottle of water. "I was thinking …"
"That's dangerous," I teased.
"Hush," he snorted. "With your injury and being laid up, I think we should go to Italy sooner rather than later."
"When were we going to Italy?"
"In about a month," he answered. "We were going to spend a week here in Switzerland, then go to France for a couple of weeks, check out Madrid and then go to Italy."
"We can't do that now?" I frowned.
"We can, but with the crutches and your gimpiness, you'd be miserable. I'm not about to carry you all over Europe, dolce," he said. "I love you, but my decrepit body can't take it, even if you are tiny."
"Shut up. You're not decrepit," I chided, swatting at his arm.
"Well, despite my best efforts to say that skiing is fun, my own body is craving some Vicodin," he laughed. "It's beautiful up here and spending the few days with you has been amazing, but I want to show you where my family's from."
"I still think it's funny that a guy with the last name of 'Cullen' is Italian," I said.
"We Americanized it when we came from Italy. I'm proud of my Italian heritage," he murmured. "So, are you okay with the change in plans?"
"I am, capo," I whispered. "But, promise me that we'll do everything you listed before we die."
"I will, Bella," he smiled, hugging me close and kissing my forehead. I fell back asleep and woke up early. I heard Edward speaking on the phone. He was speaking in Italian and I knew he was making arrangements for our trip to Italy. I got up, swiping my crutches and hobbling to the bathroom. I took a quick shower, grimacing at the ugly colors on my knee, along with the swelling. I wrapped a towel around my body. Edward came in, arching a brow. "You need to stop moving around without your crutches, dolce."
"I couldn't exactly bring them into the shower, Edward," I giggled, sitting down on the closed toilet. "But, I forgot to grab clothes."
Edward nodded to the counter. I saw a pair of leggings, a fluffy sweater and some sexy lingerie. "I've arranged for a private flight from here to Parma, Italy. The plane won't arrive until tomorrow, but we're heading to Italy." He sat down on the bathtub opposite from me. He was dressed in a pair of chic jeans and wool sweater, with a button-down underneath. His wedding band glinted in the sunlight. "Our time in Italy is open and we have no plans, dolce. I just have one request."
"What, baby?" I asked, pulling the panties from the pile on the counter. I shimmied them up, grimacing as my knee was tweaked. Edward crouched down and helped me with my leggings. When my lower half was dressed, he strapped the knee immobilizer to my leg. He was stalling. "Edward?"
"Sorry, Bella," he said, moving back to the edge of the bathtub. "I am stalling, but it's because I know you'll be pissed." He blew out a breath, picking up my hand and kissing my wedding set. "I want to go visit Marcus Volturi." I blanched, remembering his visit to the Cullen Mansion the day that Edward had been abducted. He'd been apologetic and remorseful, wanting to make amends for what was done to our family. But, he'd still had been a party to our nightmare. "Bella, please, breathe."
"Why?" I choked out, glaring at him.
"It was his help that made us able to be reunited, Bella," he whispered. "His involvement gave you the necessary means to find me and complete your rite of vengeance, as much as I was upset that you had to do that." He crouched in front of me, taking my hands. "As one capo to another, I want to thank him and offer my condolences to his losses." He caressed my cheeks. "You don't have to come."
"No, I want to," I whispered. "I need to thank him, too." I blew out a breath, thinking of Rosalie. "I'm also curious about Rosalie. She was a shell …" I finished getting dressed and Edward helped me to the kitchen. We spent the rest of the day at the chalet and went down to the restaurant for dinner. The next day, we got onto a sleek plane and flew from Switzerland to the airport in Parma. At the airport, Jacob was waiting for us. I elbowed Edward. "Is everything okay?"
"Everything's fine," Edward chuckled. "With your injury and me being in Italy, I made the decision to bring Jacob over. He's going to be our driver." We got into the car and Jacob smiled knowingly as he pulled away, driving to the family home, owned by Edward, Carlisle and the Cullen Consortium.
Our time in Italy was idyllic. Bella's knee healed and she was moving around easier. She took to life in Italy beautifully and she was learning how to speak Italian, with the help of caretakers of the family home. I loved being here. I loved being here with Bella. I felt at ease for the first time since my abduction, but I knew that feeling would dissipate when we'd make our way to Sicily to meet with Marcus, Didyme and Rosalie.
We arrived in Italy at the end of February. It was now the end of March and we were preparing to head back to the states by the middle of April. I needed to get back to work, as much as I didn't want to, but I did. I wanted to talk to Anthony, see how he was doing. My father had killed his father and we hadn't talked much since our wedding. He wasn't angry at me, but confused. I wanted to make our relationship right, along with giving the proper respect to Marcus.
Apparently, it was my extension of my condolences for the death of his son that made him realize that I was a man of honor. Not a monster like Royce or Stephan.
It was why he helped us.
At least, that's what I believed.
The last night, prior to our departure to Sicily, I sent the caretakers away and pushed Jacob out of the house, to the guest house near the entrance of the villa. It had been too long since I'd been inside my wife. With her injury, our lovemaking had stalled. Granted, it was understandable, but I missed her. She'd gone to a doctor and he'd cleared her for more strenuous activities. I had every plan of resuming those strenuous activities.
I was cooking in the kitchen, making some favorites when Bella came into the kitchen. She was dressed in a pair of leggings and a loose tunic, draped over her shoulder. "Smells good in here, Mobward," she quipped. I shot her a look and she just giggled, sliding up onto the island. "Is it sad that I don't want to go back to reality?"
"We still have a week, Bella," I said.
"But, there's an end date," she frowned. "We spent a month in paradise, a couple of days in the frozen tundra and then a month or so of perfection here in Italy. Why don't you come here more often?"
"Safety, for one reason. We're a big family and we have our enemies here in Italy," I answered, draining the pasta, putting it into a bowl near the sink. "No one here in Parma. Mainly in Sicily, where we're going to visit Marcus. The families there are not well-organized, but they are dangerous."
"That's why we have Jacob," Bella nodded, a furrow between her brows. "It never ends, does it?"
"It goes in waves, Bella," I answered honestly. "Right now? We're in a time of peace. I'm hopeful it'll stay that way for a while. The Chicago branch of the Bratva is in ruins. From my intel, Royce's men scattered, going to New York, or even back to Russia. I've also heard that Royce was a rogue, not well-liked in the organization. He, supposedly, worked with some questionable characters, like my uncle. We've got to keep an eye on them. That's why I need to see Anthony."
Bella worried her lip, twisting her wedding ring and shifting on the counter. "Are you in danger?"
"No, Bella. We're not in danger," I said, taking her hand. She tugged on my hand and pulled me into her arms. I hugged her, kissing her neck and rubbed my hands along her back. She idly played with my hair, her head resting on my shoulder. "We're not in danger. I'll protect you."
"I know," she said. "It's just … never mind."
"What, dolce?" I pressed.
"It never ends. We'll always have protection. We'll always be a target," she frowned, idly toying with a string on my sweater. I nodded, cupping her cheek and forcing her eyes to mine. I ran my finger down her soft skin, dread pulling at my heart that this beautiful, sweet creature could be hurt or killed. "I'm sorry, Edward … I'm proud to be your wife. I knew this when I went on a date with you, when I said yes to your proposal. I love you and I'll support you, no matter what."
"I meant when I said I'd walk away," I whispered, pressing my forehead to hers.
"Even if you walked away, you'd still be a target," she said, kissing my nose. "I'd rather be prepared and protected then be hidden away." She smiled, a quiet confidence behind it. "I want to live my life, our life." She kissed me, nibbling on my lower lip. "It smells good in here, but I'm not craving food."
"What, cara, are you craving?" I asked, my voice deep and husky.
"To be perfectly honest," she purred, her hands sliding down my chest and slipping them underneath my sweater, "I'm craving you." She pulled up my sweater and I removed it completely. "My, you are so fucking gorgeous, Edward. All strong, muscled and sexy." Her fingers slid along my Cullen tattoo. "You're a bad ass." She arched a brow, tossing her tunic off her body and revealed her naked torso. "You've made love to me all during our honeymoon. I want you to fuck me."
"In the kitchen?" I asked, my hands sliding up her lithe body and cupping her breasts, squeezing them and twisting her nipples. She smirked, nodding slowly as she shimmied her leggings off her body and I growled when I saw her bare pussy. Snaking her hand down her belly, she spread her legs and circled her clit. I moved her hand away, gripping her neck. "Your orgasms are mine, Isabella." I crashed my lips against hers, slamming two fingers into her core. She moaned, spreading her legs further apart, and rocking against my hand. Our mouths moved feverishly against each other as I curled my fingers inside her. "You're so tight, Bella, so wet."
"Make me come," she pleaded, her body rolling with my fingers. "I want to come for you, Edward. Feeling your fingers in my pussy …" I smiled against her mouth, my pinky grazing her ass. She shuddered, her head falling back. Her body glowed under the warm light of the kitchen. Her nipples were hard, diamond points and her pussy was swollen, wet and clenching around my fingers. I wrapped my arm around her waist, sucking on her tits as she rode my hand. "Edward … oh, fuck, Edward! It feels so good, different …"
"Different?" I asked, arching a brow.
"So wet. I've never been this wet before," she whimpered. I continued curling my fingers inside her, finding the spongy part of her body, massaging it. "Oh, yes! Like that, Edward." She groaned, her hips rocking in concert with my ministrations. I kissed her neck, watching my hand disappear inside her and feeling how aroused she was. It poured out of her, coating my hand. She began to whimper, her legs moving to close, but I pried them apart. I could feel her body react around me, almost pushing my fingers out. "EDWARD!" she screamed as my hand was forced out and her release gushed out of her. I ran my fingers over her clit and she sobbed, watching my hand move over her sex.
I caught her before she collapsed on the counter, kissing her soft lips. "That was beautiful," I whispered against her mouth. "Seeing you so free and …"
"I've never done that," she panted, a blush covering her face. "It felt so good, Edward." She sat up, reaching for my belt buckle and made quick work of my jeans and boxer briefs. "I need more."
"Gladly," I said, lining up with her entrance and thrusting up into her. Her fingers clung to my biceps as I fucked her. Her body was still so wet from her earlier orgasm. "Oh, Bella, you're so fucking perfect for me. Never, never have I felt this way about anyone. You're mine."
"Yours," she breathed. "Only yours."
Our bodies came together, with the sound of slapping skin, whispered moans and our kisses. I moved her hips and turned her to side, sliding deeper inside her. She whimpered, her mouth hanging open as pounded into her. "I can feel how wet you are for me." She nodded and her head fell back. I licked my middle finger, circling her rosette. She moaned, pushing against me. "You like that, Bella?" I asked.
"Yes," she murmured, spreading her ass and giving me better access. I slowed my thrusts and I licked my finger again, drenching it with my saliva. I watched her as I pressed my finger inside her. She moaned, her eyes darkening.
"More?" I growled.
"More," she breathed. "I want to come again. I need to come, Edward."
I pushed my finger inside her so it was just past my second knuckle. I rolled my hips and grunted with each thrust. Bella gasped, her head thrown back. I could feel my finger through the thin membrane of her body. On top of that, her arousal increased, completely soaking my cock. "That's it, baby. Take what you need from me. Seeing my cock sinking into your pussy … nothing better than that in the world." She cried, holding her leg to her chest. "Fuck, Bella. Come for me. Come. For. Me," I snarled as I thrust into her. She screamed, her body clenched around me and she shuddered as her pussy clenched around me. Her orgasm triggered mine and I spilled within her, claiming her again as mine. I eased my finger out from her behind and slid out of her. Evidence of my release leaked from her and she collapsed on the counter.
I pulled up my jeans and picked up Bella, carrying her to the bedroom that was on the main floor. She was quivering and clinging to my neck. I put her on the bed, laying down next to her. "Are you okay, dolce?"
"I'm fine," she shuddered. She smiled up at me, her body still trembling. "I can feel you. Everywhere." She sighed, sliding her arms around my waist. "Would you consider … you know …?" She moved my hand to her ass and I chuckled.
"Anal sex?" I asked.
"Have you ever done it?" she pressed.
"I haven't. What I did with you was the most I've ever done," I answered. "Would I consider it with you? Only if you want it. It requires a lot of trust and love."
"I think we have both of those in abundance," Bella giggled, still shivering. "I think I'd like to try. Not tonight, or while we're on our honeymoon. But, eventually."
"We will, love," I said, brushing my lips over hers. "Now, you stay here since you're a bit wobbly from me fucking your brains out. I'll make us dinner and we'll have a bed picnic."
I quickly made our meal and carried the pasta, chicken piccata, and a bottle of wine to the bedroom. I took off my clothes, joining Bella and we shared our meal, constantly touching, kissing and loving each other.
The next day, we closed up the villa and flew to Sicily with Jacob. He checked into the hotel while I drove Bella and me to the Volturi family vineyard. It was quiet and beautiful, not at all what I expected from the former capo of the Volturi crime family. We stopped at the entrance gate, announcing our arrival and we were granted access. Pulling the rental car up to a large villa, we got out and Marcus Volturi stepped out, looking years younger and his eyes were not haunted.
"Edward Cullen," Marcus said, walking down the steps. He hugged me, kissing my cheeks. "I'm glad that they found you in time. You are one of the few honorable men in the organization." Marcus turned to Bella and his smile was softer. "Mrs. Cullen, it's an honor to see you again." He picked up her hand, kissing her knuckles. "Please? Would you come join me on the verandah? My wife and Rosalie are enjoying a late lunch. Would you like to join us?"
I nodded, threading my fingers with Bella's and we went through the beautiful home to the back patio, which overlooked a gorgeous vineyard. Didyme stood up, speaking to me in Italian and I responded in kind. Bella was staring at Rosalie, who was sitting off to the side and was still a shell of her former self. Didyme, in her broken English, went over to Bella while Marcus handed me a glass of wine.
"You are all healed?" Marcus asked.
"I had a long recovery with some lasting issues with my vision, but that was alleviated with glasses and laser corrective surgery," I said, sipping the wine. "This is delicious."
"Thank you," Marcus said. "Now, when I got your phone call, I was surprised."
"With your help, my family was able to save me. I wanted to extend my appreciation for what you did," I said. "You saved me."
"I had to do what was right. You did the right thing by telling me about my son," Marcus said, his brow furrowed. "I know that what he did was warranted in his death and you were honorable in contacting me. I had to do the same for you. Royce and Stephan powered me out and they were responsible for my son's death. They caused me a great deal of turmoil and they ruined my good standing. I should have never partnered with them, but I was angry. Day by day, more people were turning to you and I wanted to make you pay. However, it turned out that it was their fault for the loss of income."
"I'm sorry, Marcus," I frowned.
"Edward, you are an honorable man and it's why I helped your family," Marcus said. "And when I saw Bella, how broken up she was, I knew I'd made the right decision. Royce and Stephan are monsters. They were monsters, taking without care and hurting people without honor."
"I am so sorry about your son, Marcus and for everything that happened to you," I said, taking another sip of the wine. "If there's anything …"
"I'm free of that world. I'm happy here with my wife and my adoptive daughter," Marcus replied, looking over at Rosalie. She was in Bella's arms, crying and Didyme was next to them.
"How is she?"
"Rosalie is irrevocably damaged. Her spirit, her soul was broken by those …" Marcus tailed off, his nose flaring in anger. "She has so many medical issues because of what they did to her. She'll never be able to have a child. She's fearful of her own shadow and she will not, she can't trust me. She's afraid that I'll do what those monsters did." He growled, finishing his wine. "I never would have hurt a woman. What they did to Rosalie … what they wanted to do to Isabella …"
"What did they want to do?" I asked, narrowing my eyes.
"Sold into sex slavery, after they properly tested the merchandise," Marcus hissed. I sneered, putting down my wine and crossing my arms over my chest. "Exactly, Edward. I understand your anger. They are monsters."
"Were monsters," I retorted angrily. "Thanks to Bella and my father, they are dead and gone."
"I heard of Bella's rite of vengeance. She is a force to be reckoned with," Marcus chuckled. "But, she's still sweet, loving and soft." He blinked over to my wife, who continued to talk with Rosalie. She held her hand and it appeared that Rosalie was excising her demons. "You are a lucky man, Edward."
"I thank God every day for my Bella, mia dolce," I smirked. I schooled my features and looked at Marcus. "Look, I know that you're here to move past your life in the mafia. You were one of the most respected leaders. I understand your need to walk away. If any of your men, if they want to … join the Consortium?"
"I know some of them are anxious to continue in this life," Marcus said. "I will pass the word along to the men. Is there someone they can contact?"
"My second in command, Jasper Whitlock," I answered. "They can reach out to him. They will need to … pledge their loyalty before they will be able to work."
"Understandable," Marcus nodded. He turned to me, looking at me and held out his hand. "Continue to be honorable, Edward. It gives you more power, more respect among the rival families." I shook his hand and we hugged. "Now, with the final business complete, I'd like to enjoy my retirement with my wife and the daughter of my heart. She's all I have left." He walked back into his home, coming out with a couple of bottles of wine. "Take these. It's more of the wine that we drank today. One for you and one for your father."
I took the wine with a smile and shook his hand once more. Bella got up when she saw me walking toward her. "Rosalie, you need to talk to someone," she said. "You've had your choice taken away. I'm certain that Marcus and Didyme will do anything to make you better."
"I'll think about it," Rosalie said, her voice flat. "Thank you for forgiving me, Bella."
"We may never be friends, but if you need to talk to me," Bella said. "I helped Alice after what happened to her." She handed Rosalie a card. "My cell phone information. I've got FaceTime, if you want to call." Rosalie nodded, giving her a timid smile.
We took our wine and drove to the hotel. I held my wife extra close as I made love to her, showing her how much I adored her. I fell asleep, holding her tightly, feeling her soft skin against mine and making a vow that I'd never take what we had for granted. It could be gone in a moment.
After a week in New York and getting to know Anthony a lot better, Edward and I flew home. It felt weird to be back at the house, but after talking with Anthony, Edward was anxious to get back to work. We spent a few days doing laundry and acclimating back to life in Chicago, but Edward was planning. While he was planning, I was working with Alice. On top of that, I helped Emmett with the renovation/flipping opportunity at my uncle's old condo. We also discussed my position at the office in the city. I'd work in human resources and when necessary, assist Emmett in flipping jobs.
"Bella," Edward said, leaning against the door jamb of our bedroom, "I'm having a meeting with all of the leaders of the Consortium . I want you there."
"But, I'm not …" I murmured.
"You are a part of my inner-circle, Bella," he said. "You made me the leader of the family. With you by my side, I know we can take the Consortium into the next era." He walked to me, taking my hand. "Please, cara?"
"Okay," I nodded, kissing him sweetly. "I'll be by your side."
He grinned crookedly, hugging me tightly. "Mrs. Cope is coming to cook a full Italian meal. She knows what to do. I need you to look every bit as sexy as I know you to be." I arched a brow. "I want to show off my wife!"
I smacked his arm. "Perv."
"Your perv," he snickered.
"When is this meeting happening?" I asked.
"Tomorrow," he answered.
"Do you have anything to do now?" I giggled.
"You," he smiled.
The next day, Mrs. Cope came early and she shooed me out of the kitchen. I wanted to help, but she said that I was going to have a day of beauty with Alice, Esme and Lauren. "Lauren?" I squeaked.
"It appeared that Emmett informed her of his involvement in the family. Despite his warnings of his past, she still wants to be with him," Mrs. Cope grinned. "I'm glad. Lauren is a wonderful girl and will be good for him. She keeps him on his toes."
I smiled, happy that my friend was enveloped in our crazy life. We were close and I didn't want to abandon our newly formed friendship. Mrs. Cope put a cup of coffee in front of me and I wrinkled my nose. "Oh, I'm not in the mood for coffee."
"Tea, perhaps?" Mrs. Cope suggested.
"Herbal, please. If you don't mind," I said. Mrs. Cope took the coffee and dumped it. She quickly made some mint tea, putting it in front of me. I sipped it, allowing the mint tea to soothe my unsettled stomach. "I may have to pick more of this up. Where did you find it?"
"A store near my home," Mrs. Cope replied. "I'll bring some more for you. Do you want just mint?"
"If you're willing, a variety, please?" I said. Mrs. Cope nodded eagerly, and went back to preparing the meal. A few moments later, Alice came in with Esme and Lauren. We got into the SUV and Jacob drove us to the spa. We munched on chocolate covered strawberries and sipped mimosas. Well, I sipped on orange juice. My stomach was still unsettled.
"Bells, you need to try this," Lauren sang. "So good."
"I'm just not … I really don't want to drink. Edward and I drank enough on our honeymoon and my stomach is not feeling good," I shrugged. Alice arched a brow. "I'm fine, Ali. Perfectly fine."
"Okay, okay," she said, holding her hands up.
We finished our day at the spa, going out to lunch. When we were done, we went back to my house and Lauren helped me dress for my first meeting as an associate in the Consortium. My dress was black, lacy with red accents. Lauren curled my hair, pinning it back and putting on my wedding jewelry. "What's going on, Lauren?"
"Edward just said to make you look hot," Lauren giggled. "And girl, you look hot. I'd do you."
"I'm glad you are using your lesbian-tendencies to flirt with me," I snorted. "God, it smells so good in here. Mrs. Cope is worth her weight in gold."
"It does smell good. Though after your meeting, Emmett is taking me out on a date," Lauren said.
"I'm glad that you and Emmett are really making a go of it," I breathed. "He's a good guy, despite what he does."
"He is a good guy and he treats me like a princess," Lauren smiled. "Sweet, tender, but a fucking wildcat in bed."
"Um, ewwww, he's my brother-in-law," I shuddered.
"I bet Edward is a wildcat, too," Lauren said, giving me a sly grin. "He's very refined, but his eyes are fiery. They only twinkle for you. God, he loves you so much."
"Do you love Emmett?" I asked.
She smiled, sitting down and crossing her legs. "We haven't said those words, but I can see myself loving him. I think he can, too. It's why he told me about his life, about what he does. He was burned by his ex-wife."
"I saw her," I said.
"Rosalie," I sighed. "She's totally fucked in the head, but she was used as a fuck toy by those animals who …" I shook my head and shuddered. "Don't hurt Emmett, Lauren. He's a good man and he doesn't give his love freely. And do not cheat on him. Rosalie did that, and it broke him."
"I don't intend to," Lauren said, taking my hand. "Why she'd cheat on him is beyond me? I mean, Emmett is one of the most amazing men I've ever met. Yes, he's color blind and can't cook to save his life, but he's a good man. I could easily fall in love with him." I heard Edward's voice and I blushed, wanting to go to him. "Okay, I'm hanging out at Alice's place. She's trying to talk me out of Botox."
"You're young," I laughed. "You have no wrinkles. You don't need Botox." Lauren just waved her hand airily, standing up and tugging me to my feet. I stumbled, my stomach lurching. I sat back down.
"Bells, you okay? You look a little green. And as much you love green with Edward and his smexy eyes, it's not a good color on you," Lauren teased. I whimpered, scampering to the bathroom and promptly threw up. "Bells, could you be pregnant?"
I sat back, blinking up at her. "I don't know," I murmured, thinking back to … "Holy shit! I didn't get my shot. With the wedding planning and Christmas, I never got it. I could be pregnant." Lauren tapped out something on her phone. "What are you doing?"
"Asking Alice to bring a pregnancy test," Lauren said, giving me an understanding smile. Her phone chirped. "Oh, she wants you to go to her house. What time is this meeting starting?"
I checked my watch, wrinkling my nose. "In a couple of hours. Edward needs to 'set the stage,' whatever that means."
"Come on, Mama," Lauren said, unzipping my dress. "I'll rebeautify you when you're done with whatever Alice has planned for you." I pulled on a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt, following Lauren down to the garage.
"Bella?" Edward called.
"I'm going to Alice's. She has the shoes I need for my outfit," I lied, my eyes wide. "I was thinking black would good, but red is more what I'm leaning toward. I'll be back, capo." I pushed Lauren into the garage and we grabbed the keys for Edward's Volvo. I drove us to Alice's house and she ushered me into the clinic.
"Pee on this and put on a gown," she barked. She thrust a pregnancy test into my hands. I sighed, ducking into the bathroom; it was the same bathroom I'd showered and changed when Edward was confined to her clinic as he recovered. I peed on the pregnancy test, my hands shaking. When I was done, I pulled on a gown and walked into the examination room. Alice took some blood and she scampered into the bathroom. She snorted. "Oh, Bella …"
"What?" I asked. "Tell me, Alice!"
She walked back into the examination room, holding the test, a knowing grin on her face.
Bella came back from Alice, holding a pair of shoes. Lauren was on her heels and I heard them whispering upstairs. I arched a brow, but I finished setting up the dining room. The table was set and I almost obsessively checked each plate, each glass to make sure it all worked out perfectly. This was my first meeting as the leader of the Consortium. I prayed they were on the same page as me.
"I'll see you later, Bells," Lauren said. I looked up and saw Bella, wearing a black and red lacy dress. She had on my wedding present and a pair of spiky red heels on her feet. "Good luck, Edward. You'll kick ass!"
"Thanks, Lauren," I snickered, walking over to my wife. I took her hand, kissing her knuckles. "You look stunning, Bella."
"You're welcome, Edward!" Lauren cackled as she left the house.
I stared at my wife, seeing the woman she'd become. She was confident, sexy and so very smart. She smiled at me, her eyes sparkling in the light. "I love you, dolce."
"As I love you," she said. "You are going to kick ass. When's everyone coming?"
The phone rang and I chuckled. "Now, it would seem," I answered. "I really wanted to make love to you before they came."
"Afterward," she smiled, her fingers tracing down my jaw. I kissed her tenderly and answered the phone. I spoke to the security guard, granting access to the people who were coming from the city, which was mainly Anthony. Jacob picked him up from the condo. A few moments later, the doorbell rang. Bella opened the door and my inner circle walked inside. Jasper, Emmett, Jacob and Anthony filled the foyer, dwarfing my wife. She looked so small compared to them, but very comfortable.
Dinner was delicious and filling. I'd shared the wine from Volturi with them and they loved it. Bella sipped it, passing it to me when she said she was full. I took it, arching a brow at her but she just smiled serenely. After dinner, Bella cleared the plates and Mrs. Cope, who had stayed, started washing them. Bella came back with a tray of coffee and some cookies. "I don't know the protocol, but I figured you'd like something sweet," she said, sitting down next me and taking my hand, idly turning my wedding band.
"I'm always ready for sweets," Emmett said, swiping a few cookies and groaning as he ate them. "Did you make these?"
"I made the lemon knots and the cannolis," Bella answered. "Mrs. Cope baked the biscotti, the spice cookies and the ones with the raspberry jam."
"I think the cannolis are better than Mom's," I said, kissing her sweetly. "Now, I know we're here to discuss the future of the Consortium." I blinked to Anthony and gave him nod. "I've already spoken with Anthony and he's willing to head up dealings with the family in New York City. We spoke about this when we returned from our honeymoon."
"While Bella and Nina were out, wreaking havoc on my Amex …" Anthony quipped.
"Oh, no. That was all Nina," Bella chuckled. "I had fun with Edward's, but not too much fun."
"Anyway, Edward and I discussed my role. With the access to warehouses, piers and connections in New York City, I'd work with my crew on accepting delivery of whatever we're getting," Anthony answered. "I'm here in Chicago, obviously, for this meeting and to also move my mother to New York with me."
"How is she?" Bella frowned. "She got lost in the shuffle. I mean, her husband was …"
"There's no love lost there," Anthony said, his eyes flashing angrily. "My father was a bastard, in more ways than two. He kept her under his thumb, stifling her. I don't know what he did to her, but my mom is as jumpy as newborn kitten. Skittish and afraid of everything. Nina is helping my mom to pack up her home, to put it on the market. We're taking her back to New York and we're going to help her. My mom is the kindest, gentlest woman I know, besides you, Bella. Though, you've proven to me that you can kick ass with the best of them."
"Only when provoked," Bella smirked. "Don't fuck with my family and we're good." She sighed, looking over at Anthony. "I'm not certified or anything, but if your mom wants to talk?"
"I'll pass along your kind gesture, Bella," Anthony smiled. "Now, what are we getting? I know that we're stopping with the drugs. I'm happy with that. Too many unwarranted deaths."
"Agreed," I nodded. "Too many people are already addicts. I don't want to add to that. With the plan for the future, I'm focusing my attention on weaponry, technology and protection, mercenaries, soldiers for hire. Those things are needed and we have potential buyers, as well as suppliers. Jasper, did you reach out to Benjamin?"
"I did and his work is quite innovative," Jasper said. "I'm planning on flying to South Africa, with your permission, to see his product and establish further relations. I also am intrigued with his use of the dark web. I'm hesitant to put our 'stock' online because it could be linked to us, but with discussion with Benjamin? We could possibly set up shop. You know?"
"Agreed," I nodded. "Good thinking, Jasper."
"What are our jobs in this venture, Edward?" Bella asked. "You must have that planned out."
"Anthony is responsible for sales in New York City and to keep an eye on the Bratva," I said. "With Royce's death, they're scrambling."
"Royce was a black sheep, but I'll gladly keep an eye on them," Anthony snorted. "And money from the sales?"
"Split, fifty/fifty," I answered. "You keep half and half goes to the Consortium. You still have the account information for our offshore accounts?" Anthony nodded. "Jasper, you and I will be working and coordinating the sales in Chicago. We will also be in charge the stock and making contacts for potential sales. Emmett, you and Bella are going to be working at our legitimate business, as a real estate and investment firm."
"Not to sound like a dick, but is it wise to include Bella?" Emmett asked, blinking to my wife.
"She became involved when she claimed rite of vengeance, killing Royce," I answered, glaring at my brother. "I trust her implicitly."
"Edward," she chided, putting her hand on my arm. "I can leave …"
"No. I want you here," I said, taking her hand and kissing her pulse point. "I don't want you to be involved like you were before, but you know what I do, what we do. I think your mind would be essential to take our organization to the next level."
"I agree with Edward. Bella can handle herself," Anthony smiled, winking at Bella. "We need some new blood and a feminine perspective would nice."
"Thank you, Anthony," I said. "Anyone else want to question my authority?"
"No, Boss," Jasper chuckled. "You have a reason for everything you do and I get why you want Bella with you. Alice knows as much as Bella and she's a vital part of our organization. I also know that Bella's knowledge of psychology will be helpful when it comes to recruiting new members."
"An interesting idea," I murmured. I squeezed Bella's hand and looked at Jacob. "Jacob, you are going to be responsible for the safety of my wife and me. Your position hasn't changed in that regard. But, I also want you to work with Felix on recruiting new members. Not for the upper levels, like what you do, but people who could be used as enforcers, as a part of an army for protection."
"That sounds … pretty fucking awesome," Jacob chuckled. "Why isn't Felix here, though?"
"He can be a part of this venture, but not be a part of the inner circle," I explained. "He's still healing from the loss of Demetri." I clasped my hands and looked at the people I trusted the most, the ones that I loved the most. "I know that my ascension was marred with my abduction. With that, it made our family appear weak, but we're anything but weak. We took out Royce, Stephan and their cronies. I love all of you and I'm honored to have you by my side. Famiglia, sopra ogni altra cosa."
They all responded in kind and we dug into the cookies that Bella had brought out. Bella snuck out and came back with a cup of tea. "You okay, cara?" I asked. "You normally crave coffee."
"Just want to get some sleep," she answered. "After some fun with you, Mobward."
"Really, Bella?" I grumbled. The men around me laughed and I shot them looks, wrinkling my nose. "Assholes, all of you."
"Whatever, Boss," Jasper teased, rolling his eyes. "I'm going to head out. Alice and I have plans." He waggled his brows and got up. I stood up, hugging him and he kissed Bella's cheek, whispering something in her ear. Bella blushed, nodding.
"I'm also going out. Lauren and I are going to Bound and Gagged," Emmett said, waggling his brows. I looked at him, shocked he'd even go back there, especially after what had happened. The waitress who had told me that the bathrooms in the VIP section were closed was found killed, shot between the eyes. Emmett didn't know her, but Anthony had told me that she was a woman who used to work for my uncle. Her name was Charlotte Maas, but not much else was known about her. However, she'd served her purpose and paid with her life. "Dude, you're growling."
"Sorry," I said, shaking my head. "I just struggle with what happened at Bound and Gagged. It'll be a long time, if ever, it I go back."
"I don't blame you," Anthony said, getting up. "Jacob, would you mind driving me back to Chicago? I need to get some rest before I turn into a pack mule for my mom."
"Sure, sure," Jacob nodded, taking out his keys. "Boss, I'll be back in a few hours."
"Why don't you spend some time with your father, Jacob? Bella and I …" I trailed off.
"Ah, got it," Jacob chuckled. "Come on, Anthony."
They hugged me and Bella, leaving us in the house. Alone. Bella picked up the cookies and coffee, her nose wrinkled. I took the coffee. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm better than just okay," she said, putting the cookies into plastic containers while I poured the coffee down the drain. "Edward, come with me." She took my hand and led me to our family room. She slipped off her shoes, curling up on the couch. She threaded her fingers with mine before reaching into a drawer, taking out an envelope. "Lately, I've been feeling off. I thought it was just adjusting back to being home and just being tired, but when I was waiting for Alice, Lauren and Esme, I got sick from the smell of coffee. Mrs. Cope made me some mint tea and I was fine. When I was getting ready for tonight, Lauren pulled me to my feet and I felt nauseous."
"Are you sick, dolce?" I asked, my heart pounding. "I'll do whatever you need. I can't lose you."
"You're not going to lose me, Edward," she said. She handed me the envelope. "Open it."
I opened it and pulled out a grainy, black and white image. "If this is a picture, it's pretty poorly taken, Bella," I said.
She chuckled, shaking her head. "I know you don't like the nickname 'Mobward.' I think it's cute, but there's another nickname I'd like to try. 'Daddyward'?" I blinked at her, then back down at the grainy photo.
"This is a sonogram," I whispered. "I'm pregnant," she whispered back. "With Christmas, the wedding and everything else, I forgot my shot."
"How pregnant are you?" I asked.
"From the size of the baby, I'm about two months along," she sniffled. She twisted her wedding ring and stared at the sonogram. "I know it's not ideal …"
"What?" I said, taking her hand. "Bella, I'm overjoyed. We're going to be parents. I'm going to be a daddy. You're going to be a mommy." I picked her up and put her on my lap. Cradling her flat tummy, I cried. "A baby!"
"You're not upset?" she whispered. "No, Bella. I'm beyond happy," I breathed, kissing her lips. "I love you, mia dolce."
"I love you more, Daddyward," she quipped, sliding her arms around my neck. "I like that a lot more than Mobward, Bella," I said, picking her up. "A lot more."
Looking at my bulletin board, I clenched my fists. So many deaths, so many disappearances. All of them were gone and all of them gone because of the Cullen Consortium. All of them were killed by Edward Cullen. He was a fucking monster. He needed to pay.
Now, how did I know this?
Royce King. He was a fucking wealth of information. Plus, he paid me handsomely to overlook his transgressions.
Blinking over to his picture, he was missing in action, too. He'd been missing for almost eight months, nearly nine. Last, I heard, he was going out to Dekalb, but he never came back. Neither did Stephan or any of the big players who went out there. It had to be Edward Cullen.
I looked at the bulletin board, I crossed my arms and tried to figure out how to bring him down. I blinked to the picture that made me want to bring him down.
My sweet Charlotte, my baby sister. She'd been killed by Edward Cullen or by his family, his monstrous killing machines. She was a pawn in his dangerous game of chess.
"I'm going to get you, Cullen. You're going to fuck up and you're going down," I hissed. I sat down heavily, taking a swig directly from the whiskey bottle. My cell phone rang and I swiped it, punching it harshly. "Detective Peter Maas," I barked. I listened to the voice and I grunted. "I'll be there." I stood up, caressing my sister's cheek. "I'm doing this for you, Char. He will pay for what he did to you. They all will pay."
Fin … for now …