This picks up one year after Edward and Bella leave Forks after ending Jacob.
This will be short too. No place setting, no unnecessary drabble. We know who they are, what they can and can't do and we're all sick of reading about how in love they are.
Thank you to everyone who read and enjoyed the first one. This one will be just as brutal, just as clean cut.
This is finished, just need a little editing time. Chapters will upload all at once as I did last time over the next day or so.
I'm toying with a short epilogue but am not convinced it needs one. I will take all advice on the subject ;)
The call comes almost one year to the day since we left Forks. I can't say that I'm surprised to receive it. Forks Police have located my Volvo. They've also located a dark blue sedan in the vicinity, though their investigative skills can't have been stretched to the limit to work out that the two vehicles are connected. I'd dumped the Volvo right next to it.
I ask why my car has been found with another and am told that there had been a spate of car thefts in the area and that it's probably just coincidence that they were found together.
I am asked a few questions for insurance purposes and told that I should contact my insurer with the quoted case number.
There are so many crimes connected with those cars that have obviously been overlooked that I pinch the bridge of my nose as I roll through my mind what was said on the call.
"What is it?" Bella asks as she comes to sit by me.
"They've found the Volvo," I tell her simply.
"So?" she shrugs.
"So nothing," I tell her. "They've found it. It's beside the blue sedan and the police think it's part of a stolen car ring."
"I can't see how that's a problem for us. So what's with the nose pinching?" she asks, nudging me in the ribs.
"I don't think the Police have managed to work out what was going on at the Res at all," I sigh. "I think everything we did achieved nothing."
"Not nothing," she growls. "We stopped them cooking and selling drugs. We stopped a whole group of dangerous people doing dangerous things. That's not nothing."
"I'm not sure that we did," I sigh.
"It's not like the police are going to call you and tell you that they've broken up a drug ring, half the cooks are missing presumed dead and the tribal leaders son hasn't ever been seen since his lab burned down," she hisses. "Jesus Edward, they aren't going to tell you squat about those cases. As far as they are concerned your car was found wrecked beside another car. It can't be tied to anything that happened at the Res and they wouldn't tell you even if it had been linked.
"You're just a guy who had his car stolen. That's it."
I can see the logic in her reasoning but something doesn't sit right with me. "Has it ever bothered you that we dropped those boxes off at the police station with a note saying they'd been cooked at the Res and then we burned down the evidence of the cooking?"
She tilts her head to one side and thinks on it hard. "No. I can't honestly say that it has. Until now," she growls as she gets to her feet. "Fuck!" she shouts.
"We fucked up," I say simply.
"How do we fix it?"
She's grinning before I am. She's got a plan before I do.
"Call Alice. Tell her we're heading off on our own for a while," she says, pointing at my chest as she rushes around our living room gathering her things. "We have to go to Forks."
We're in our own home but close enough to Alice that she won't have 'seen' anything untoward so I make the announcement simply and firmly. "Alice, it's me. Bella and I are going to take off for a few days. I'll call you when we get there."
She doesn't balk at the declaration but I'm pretty sure she's got questions besides the ones she does ask. She wants to know where we're heading and I tell what I think she wants to hear. Bella enjoys the sun so we're going to the beach. She knows not to bother with the warning not to be seen sparkling in the sun by humans.
She doesn't seem at all concerned that we're taking off without warning and I'm glad. We've all done it. Taken off on a whim without warning wasn't new. And this isn't the first time Bella and I had done it in the year we've been in Canada with the family. This would be our third impromptu trip.
I run to our room to gather what we'll need. I grab a burner phone from the boxes in the closet as well our drivers licenses in the name of Cullen.
"Don't forget we'll need to be Cullen's," Bella calls from down the hall.
"On it," I tell her. "Are we running, driving or flying?" I ask as I hold my backpack in one hand, the phone and licenses in other.
"Running," she calls back. "Is the Jeep still there?"
"Right where we left it," I tell her as I slip the cards into my wallet and the phone into my pocket.
I meet her in the living room. She's ready to go and bouncing from foot to foot. "Got everything?" she asks as she reaches for my hand.
"I've got you, I'm covered," I grin.
"You're such a sap," she growls playfully as we go towards the front door.
I throw the lock and pull it shut behind us. Emmett waves as we go by his house. We both wave back.
Personally I am pleased to be leaving.
I'd had about enough of the family for a while and I knew without asking that Bella had too.
She sniffs as we run away from our home but I know by now not to be worried about her thirst.
She's never faltered. Never even looked like faltering in all the time we've been together. It's been nine months since I've seen her put her hand to her throat in hunger.
No, my wife and mate hasn't struggled with anything that a newborn vampire does. What she has struggled with is my family. And I've struggled right along with her.
Since the age of eighteen, when she lost her mother, she'd lived as an independent adult. Answerable to no one. Responsible to nobody. In control of her life and her future.
She didn't need a mother, or a father, and being unused to having siblings she found it hard to incorporate them into our personal life.
Since becoming my mate she'd been surrounded by well meaning but very interfering vampires and she didn't like that one bit.
I had no doubt whatsoever that she loved them. All of them. Even Rosalie who had come to love her in return as a sister should. But Bella did dislike them often. All of them.
The first issues arose almost as soon as we arrived in Canada.
We had four separate homes, equally distant from each other, and only a few miles from the cousins homes.
The women in my family had been excited to make over both our house and Bella herself. Bella had other ideas.
She refused to shop. Outright. She didn't care what our house looked like. She liked it when she first saw it even though it was filled with only my furniture choices, and she was happy for it to stay that way. She was happy with the few personal possessions she'd had sent from her home and no amount of cajoling or begging from Alice and Esme had changed her mind about shopping to date.
As for making Bella over she wasn't having that either. She wore jeans and t-shirts and that's the way she was going to stay. Any and all attempts to change that were met with an argument. Bella always won.
So Esme's continual tutting about our use of bad language, Alice' gossipy interfering and demands to shop constantly, Emmett's insistence that she 'play rough' with him, Jasper's continued dismay at her control and Carlisle's incessant hovering in case she should slip drove her quite insane.
The only one who didn't bother her all that much was Rosalie. And that was because Rose didn't give a shit about anyone other than Rose. So if Bella was busy being Bella and it had nothing to do with her Rose was happy to let Bella just be Bella.
The cousins were very promptly put in their places on their second meeting with my feisty mate. Tanya was told with a hiss to stop flirting with me, to stop pouting into the hall mirror and get out and find someone of her own. Kate was told to stop whining about being alone herself and a suggestion was made that she should join Tanya in that search somewhere other than in our home. Irina was told to fuck off outright and take her bullshit attitude about everything with her when she went. Eleazar was less than politely asked to leave our home and to please refrain from badgering Bella into letting him educate her about her abilities to shield and Carmen left with him, offended.
We'd only seen them three times in the past year and that was only when the whole family came together for Thanksgiving, Christmas and once when I'd been too preoccupied with the breast in my mouth to read the mental thoughts of them approaching our home. I'd let them in, they'd stayed half an hour and left again after being told to go.
I wouldn't stand for anyone dictating to Bella what sort of vampire mate she should be. The mere suggestion that she should be more demure, or more accommodating to our visitors rankled me as much as it did Bella and in the end I'd told them all to go and take their personal opinions with them.
I still wasn't very popular with them.
I didn't always agree with her, despite what Alice thought. We argued between us too. I thought she'd been too hard and too rude to Eleazar, she didn't. I wanted her to learn more about her gift, she didn't want to. I wanted to buy her nice things, she didn't want them.
We argued plenty, just like we had from day one after her change.
I liked it that way.
I didn't want a compliant, pushover of a wife. I wanted an independent, strong woman who knew what she liked and wanted. She got that in return from me, a husband not a wife obviously, and I figured that she wanted me to let her know what I wanted, so I did.
I had an opinion and felt free to voice it. My old fashioned ideals were soon bought up to modern code and we lived happily together, fights and all.
My original reasoning for running still stood. I didn't want to share her. I just wanted to be left alone to get to know here properly and for the two of us to be given the space we needed to grow our relationship. Bella felt the same.
So I am quite happy to be running away again.
The snow is thick on the ground and very compacted so it's slowish going for the first couple of hours. She can't streak ahead of me anymore now that her newborn strength has waned. I think she misses it. I don't.
The run is glorious once we come to the outskirts of Victoria. We board the ferry with the other on-foot travellers and hang over the railing to watch the water go by just like everyone else. It's all so very human after living purely as a vampire for the better part of the last year.
"It's weird, isn't it?" she whispers beside me.
I grin because she's been thinking what I have. "It is," I agree. "We don't do this often enough."
I pull her to me, our hips meeting and kiss her hair. "We won't have to go cruising through town this time," I chuckle.
She pouts adorably, "Oh, that means no five hundred questions."
"We'll play as we run to Forks," I assure her.
And that's what we do. We run from Port Angeles to Forks and ask hundreds of questions of one another as we go. Just when I think I've learned all there is to know about my wife I learn something new. It's the same for her though I've got more than a hundred years of history for her to learn. Her twenty seven years seems much more thrilling than all of mine ever have.
She sighs happily when we cross our own feint scents in the forest at the back of the property and she whoops in joy when we hit the decking at the back of the house.
"I love it here," she tells me as I unlock the doors and we go inside. She pulls the dust cover off my piano and runs her fingers over its lid. Next she uncovers the armchairs and sinks down into her favourite one. "You popped my cherry in this house," she smirks.
"You popped mine in this house too," I counter as I turn on the lights. I sink down in my own favourite chair and take a good, long sniff. "It smells like home."
"It does," she says as she sniffs too. "Where do we start this time?" she asks.
"Well I was hoping you'd be bored already and offer me a blow job, but if you want we can go to the Res and see what's what," I chuckle.
"I'm so bored," she says exaggeratedly, "blow job it is."
At midnight we head to the Res. It doesn't take us long to slip back into our old routine, though this time it's Bella calling for me to wait for her as we run. We follow our own scent to the boundary and she pulls me up short just as I'm about to cross onto Reservation land.
"Look," she hisses, pointing near my feet.
A trip wire. We step over it carefully and go on ahead a little ways until we come across another. "Someone doesn't want walk ins," she whispers as the ruins of the cooking shed come into view. They sit right next to a new shed with the same stench as before coming from it.
"They're cooking again," she hisses beside me.
"We fucked up," I remind her.
We watch a little longer but when it becomes obvious that we're just watching the past repeat itself we head for home. We run in silence. She's probably running over plans in her head the same as I am as we run.
"What do we do?" she asks once we're back in the house. "We can't just go there and slaughter everyone involved. Can we?" she asks, eyebrows raised, probably hoping I'll think it's a great idea.
"No. We can't," I confirm, making her scowl. "What we can do is try to work out who's running the operation now and stop them."
"Why aren't the police doing anything?" she hisses as she paces a long line in front of the fireplace.
"Because we fucked up."
"Stop saying that!" she shouts. "I get it, okay? We fucked up. Loose ends and all that. We didn't think it through. Well I didn't anyway. It was all done on instinct. I was new then. I'm not now. I just wanted revenge for my dad. Now I want this stopped, all of it, so that it can't start again."
She's pissed. At herself. At me for not realising the mess we'd left behind and with whoever is now running the operation at the Res. Nothing I say will change any of that. The obvious thing to do is help her plan how to stop it once and for all.
"I'm not a strategist," I remind her quietly. "I think last time we just rolled with the punches and took our chances when they presented themselves. I don't think it's smart to do that again."
"I agree," she says a little more calmly as she climbs into my lap and curls up. "Jasper would know what to do, wouldn't he?" she asks.
"I don't want them all here," she whines.
"Neither do I," I laugh, hugging her tightly. "They won't be searching for us this time. There's no reason to as we didn't run away and we're not hiding."
We're both quiet for a time. She's thinking hard, eyebrows scrunched up. "I don't want to roll with the punches this time either," she announces. "We need to be seen again. Here, at the Res and in town. Whoever has taken over the operation won't want us here again."
I agree with her and tell her so. "This time, once we've been seen we won't burn anything down or dump bodies in the forest. This time the players need to have accidents," I grin.
"Accidents?" she asks, confused by my suggestion.
"Hmm," I muse. "I am sure that the way to draw out the new boss is to be seen. But with that comes a problem for us. The last time we were here people went missing, two men were found with their necks broken inside the Res itself. Two of my cars were wrecked.
"If people go missing or turn up dead this time we could be linked to it. We show up and shit starts happening again.
"Accidents are the answer," I grin.
She thinks on it a moment and then she grins too. "Public accidents. Plausible accidents. With neither of us anywhere near any of them."
"Exactly," I chuckle as she joins the dots.
"Totally explainable human accidents with nothing supernatural involved," she laughs.
"And accidents that only seem to befall those involved in the cooking and selling of drugs."