Dangerous Secrets

Title: Dangerous Secrets

Summary: With her son missing, Bella learns something about her boyfriend he never intended for her to know.

Pairing: Edward, Bella

Rating: M

Word Count: 11,938

DISCLAIMER: Twilight and its inclusive material is copyright to Stephenie Meyer. Original creation, including but not limited to plot and characters, is copyright to the respective authors of each story. No copyright infringement is intended.

"Damn him!" I muttered, pacing back and forth as I hung up on Emmett's call telling me that they'd lost the implant signal. He assured me that he had the car Aro had switched Edward into in his sights and he wouldn't lose it. "Fucking idiot! I knew letting him see Aro was wrong, but would he listen to me? Pig-headed fool!"

"What do you want to do, Bella?" Rose sat on the sofa in Edward's study and watched me pace.

It had been a terrifying shock when my sweet little boy, Charlie, had been taken from school, and an even greater one to learn that Edward was not what he had led me to believe; an ordinary businessman and CEO of his own company. The revelation that he was part of a well-known Mafia family had sent my life reeling into an unbelievable nightmare; Charlie taken by a rival, and Edward having a whole family I knew nothing about. I'd been so furious at Edward's deception that I'd taken all of my anger out on him, although, honestly, Charlie's kidnapping hadn't really been his fault; at least not personally.

Then there was the fact that he had a whole part of his life I knew nothing about, and learning that he had a big family was an eye-opener. He'd never mentioned any of them, and every time I thought about all the lies he had told, even if they were lies of omission, I was furious all over again.

We'd had a short talk about why he'd kept it a secret, but it was difficult to get my head around. To be truthful, because he had avoided the subject totally, I had allowed him to keep the secret for a long time, so I guess it was partially my own fault. I had believed it was something he wasn't comfortable with and I hadn't pushed. His family would take a bit of getting used to, but his parents, Carlisle and Esme, seemed very nice; then there was Alice, his sister, and her husband, Jasper.

Added to that, ever since Charlie had been snatched from school Edward had tried to get him back his way, and my pleas to find another way instead of putting himself in danger had fallen on deaf ears.

Now Aro had Edward, too, and despite Emmett's assurances that everything was in hand and not to worry—they had a plan—I was still furious that Edward hadn't listened to me; that we hadn't found another way to get Charlie back where he belonged, here with me and his sister, Lily.

Behind all the anger was my fear that I'd lose Edward just as I'd lost my dad, Charlie. They were on opposite sides of the law and Charlie would've been furious at me for being involved with Edward, but I couldn't imagine my life without him.

It did cross my mind that those facts might have been part of the reason for Edward's reticence in telling me the complete truth about his family; he would have been concerned about my reaction, and if I was being truthful with myself, he would have been right. I hoped that it wouldn't have separated us but it would definitely have given me pause for thought before I got more deeply involved. I fell in love with Edward and Charlie would have eventually understood and accepted that, but he would have worried about me just the same.

These thoughts ran through my mind before I answered Rose.

"Let me think, Rose. Emmett says he won't lose sight of Edward, but while he's rescuing the damned fool, Aro gets to keep Charlie away from us. And the longer he does that, the less chance there is for us to get him back." I looked up at her. "Have you any ideas on how we might be able to find out where he could be keeping Charlie? I know you've not been in the family long yourself but I know absolutely nothing, courtesy of Edward Cullen," I snarled in frustration. Shaking off the anger that struggled to rise at the thought of all the secrecy, I continued. "Would Jasper know anything else?"

"I don't know, Bella. It's not as if Em and I ever discussed the family after I found out who they really were. We could ask him again, but I'm pretty sure he's gone over everything with Edward already."

I threw my hands up in the air and then gripped my hair tightly as if I could yank the information I needed out of my brain. "There's no point in us just going off half-cocked; we need more, I just don't know anything."

"Come on, Bella, you need something to eat and Lily needs some of your time and attention, so let's get coffee and we can talk to Esme. Maybe she can tell us something; hell, maybe she doesn't know she knows something. It's worth a shot."

I had to agree with her and allowed her to lead me to the kitchen where Esme was keeping Lily amused. At the sight of her, my thoughts drifted back to Charlie, worrying about who had him, where he was, if he was scared or cold or hungry. No! I almost shouted that aloud and realized those thoughts and getting angry would get me nowhere. Instead I made an effort to bring my attention back to Lily. I'd spent very little time with her the last week and she deserved better.

Esme was sitting on the floor with her, reading a board book, while Lily sat in her lap babbling and pointing at the pictures in the book. While Rose headed toward the counter to put on a fresh pot of coffee and make some sandwiches, which I knew I wouldn't eat much of, I kneeled on the floor in front of Esme and Lily.

"Hey, Lily-bug, what's that you got there, sweetheart?"

Her fingers left her mouth and she gave me a wide smile, showing off all four teeth she had. Leaving Esme's lap, she crawled across the floor to me and pulled herself up onto her feet in front of me. It would only be a short time before she was walking, I mused silently. She was growing up so fast.

"Tawie?" she mumbled around the two fingers she was already chewing on again. It looked like she would be getting another tooth very soon, too. I wasn't sure what to say, but I knew a simple answer would satisfy her for the moment.

"Charlie's out playing, sweetheart. He'll be back soon," I soothed, pulling her close to me and kissing the top of her head. She struggled a little, asking to get down and then picked up a building block and presented it to me.

"You want to pile them up?" I leaned down and looked at her. "Red," I told her, pointing to the block she had in her hand.

"'Ed," she agreed, promptly putting it in her mouth, where everything went these days.

I picked up another. "Blue," I said and put it down on the floor.

"Bue," she agreed again.

We continued like that, me telling her the color of the block and placing it on top of those between us, repeating each color name as best she could until she knocked them all down and laughed.

"Clever girl," I cooed and clapped my hands, which she copied.

Meanwhile, Esme had taken a seat on the sofa and Rose had brought the coffee over to the side table and now sat beside her. I got to my feet, leaving Lily surrounded by blocks laughing as they tumbled over again. Seating myself on the other side of Esme, I accepted my coffee from Rose and we were quiet for a few minutes, watching Lily play.

"You heard that Edward was taken, didn't you, Esme?" I broke the silence first.

"Yes, Carlisle called me a little while ago and told me about the implant failure, but he's assured me that they know where Edward is and will be able to get him out and bring him home. I'm sure it'll be fine, Bella. I trust them."

"It's not a matter of trust, Esme. Aro was the only lead we had and now he has both Charlie and Edward, and we are no further ahead in working out where he's keeping my son. How much longer are we going to wait?"

It was a rhetorical question and Esme didn't answer.

The kitchen door opened and Jasper came in, carrying his laptop. Without looking away from the screen, he took the chair opposite the sofa and spoke softly. "I've been looking into the details of the house where Aro is holding Edward," he began. "It's owned by a Carmen Denali." He looked up at us. "Do any of you know her?"

Rose and I shook our heads; the name didn't ring any bells with either of us. Esme, however, looked thoughtful before she began to speak, my excitement growing with every word she said.

"Many years ago," she began, "when I was just out of college, my father introduced me to Aro and told me that I was to marry him. At the time, it didn't seem to be such a bad thing. Aro was a charming man and we became good friends. I regret to say that I was quite enamored of him and he behaved the perfect gentleman, taking me to dinner, the theater, and generally treating me really well. Eventually, he introduced me to his parents and his brother, Caius." She looked up and laughed lightly for a second. "Until one day, when we were at a dinner-dance function, where I met Carlisle. After that I didn't even think of Aro; Carlisle was the love of my life and what I thought I'd felt for Aro paled by comparison. We eloped to Vegas and came back married; my parents were furious but there was nothing they could do about it because I was already three months pregnant with Edward."

"How does that help, Esme?" I said gently, trying to bring her attention back to the present.

"Well, before that, I spent a number of evenings and a long weekend at his parents' estate; the same one he lives at now. He introduced me to his nanny, or maybe governess was a more accurate description; she was only a few years older than him. Her name was Carmen and I think that maybe the person who owns that house and Aro's Carmen could be one and the same."

Her bright eyes flicked over to Jasper. "Why don't you search and see if she owns any other property. She moved out of the estate house around twenty-five years ago and I never thought of her again, but maybe he loved her enough to buy her a house? His parents were awful people and really cold and I don't think they would ever have allowed a marriage between the two. Can you find a picture of her, too? I'm sure I'd recognize her."

Jasper lowered the laptop to his knees and began to tap the keys quickly. "Hmmm," was all he said.

I gave him a few minutes. "Jasper?" I eventually said, reminding him that we were in the room.

He looked up with a wide smile. "I've found a house in Valley View about an hour outside Chicago." He looked triumphant. "It's owned by a Carmen Denali and according to city hall records she lives with a Kate Denali. I'd take a guess that's either a sister or a daughter. Maybe that's the reason Carmen moved out and Aro paid for the house." He clicked a few more times and then turned the laptop to face Esme, showing a picture of a pretty, dark haired woman. "That her?"

Esme nodded enthusiastically. "I have no idea when that picture was taken, but if it's recent, she's hardly changed at all."

"That has to be the house." I leaped to my feet excitedly. "That's where Charlie is, I'm sure of it. You've searched all of Aro's known properties, haven't you?" At Jasper's nod, I continued. "It sounds like this Carmen Denali might be the only person Aro would trust. We have to go."

Turning to Esme I asked, "Do you know anything about this Kate Denali?" We needed as much information as possible if we had a chance of getting inside. "Could she be Aro's daughter? If so, he'd be pretty protective of her and he'd trust her, too, wouldn't he? That makes it even more likely that's where he has Charlie."

"Hold on, Bella," Jasper was quick to interrupt me, before Esme had a chance to answer my question. "Edward and the others will be back soon, so don't go getting any ideas about charging off on your own," he warned. "We have no idea what we'd be facing in that house; how many men or weapons." Abruptly, he got to his feet and glared at me. "Stay here. I forbid it, Bella." His sharp command told me, in no uncertain terms, that the discussion was over before it had even started.

I gaped as the door closed behind him, wondering if I had heard right. "Did he just tell me no, Rose?"

Rose laughed. "He doesn't know you very well, does he, Bella?"

Her amusement was contagious and even though I was thoroughly pissed, her humor lightened the atmosphere. "Well, he's likely to regret that, isn't he?" I grinned back at her. "Okay, then. If he found that address then we can do the same. Can you do that, Rose? And what about floor plans? There must be something that would give us an advantage, even if we don't know exactly who else is in the house." At her nod, I turned back to Esme; I wanted her on my side. "Esme, will you take care of Lily for me, please?"

Esme seemed a little taken aback at my decision and tentatively asked, "Bella, dear, wouldn't it be better if you waited for the boys to get back? I'm sure it won't be long, and then Edward and Emmett will no doubt be on their way to get Charlie straight away." Esme placed her hand on my arm. "Jasper can call them now and let them know and then I'm sure they'll be on their way as soon as they free Edward."

"No," I almost shouted, standing once again, my agitation close to the surface. I calmed my voice. "I'm done with letting Edward do it his way. I'm going," I stated, daring her to argue with me. "Aro can't be trusted, Esme." I sat beside her again. "We have no idea what his agenda is and I'm not letting him get away." I took her hand and squeezed gently. "Esme, you don't know me at all and I appreciate that, but I'm not just going to sit back and wait for the men to deal with everything. Charlie is my son, too, and I'm going to do everything I can to get him back, with or without Edward's help." She took a breath to speak but I didn't allow her to say anything before plunging on. "Right now Emmett, Garrett, and the others are working on getting Edward out of wherever Aro has him and I trust them to do that, really, I do. That also means Aro is otherwise occupied and won't be at the house now. But, none of that really matters, I'm doing this and I'm doing it now; with Rose." I glanced at her as she nodded again. "And you're either with me or against me."

I stopped there and waited for her to speak.

Finally, she nodded. "I understand, Bella. You're part of a new generation of young women. It's been a long time since I tried to be involved in any aspect of the business and I've pushed away my needs in favor of Carlisle's. It wasn't as easy to get involved when I was younger; it just wasn't the done thing. But I can see that Edward will have his hands full when you take your place at his side." Her eyes sparkled with mirth. "Lily will be safe in my hands," she reassured me. "As for Kate Denali," she mused. "I haven't heard of her before, so I'm afraid I can't help you there at all. Perhaps if we had a photograph, it might help?"

"There wasn't anything on the internet with a picture, but she's the right age to be a sister or a daughter. Never mind, it's not really important." I looked over at Rosie. "Wanna kick some ass, Rose?"

"Hell, yeah, it's been a long time, B. I'll go get that information right now, while you see to that transport; we need something fast." She grinned and winked at me, leaving the room to either chase down Jasper or to get the info for herself; there were plenty of computers in the house and Google was an amazing friend. I almost felt sorry for Jasper, but he didn't know me at all if he thought telling me to stay would actually work.

At that moment Alice stepped into the room. "Bella, what the hell did you do to Jasper? He's wandering around muttering to himself and I can't get any sense out of him at all. I have never seen him so twitterpated."

I had to giggle at her description of Jasper.

"I didn't do anything, Alice; he didn't give me the chance." I brought her up to date on the information Jasper had managed to find. "That's where Aro has Charlie, I'm sure of it. We have a small window here; if we leave it until Edward is free, Aro will be able to take my son from that house and might even take him out of the country. I'm not going to let that happen." I was agitated and indignant all over again. "Can you believe that Jasper said no and virtually told me to stay in the house? He's got another think coming if he thinks I'm just going to obey him. Not even Edward would be stupid enough to try and order me around."

Alice grinned and then fell about laughing. "Alice," I protested. "This is serious."

"Oh, I know. I'm sorry Bella, but Jasper and Edward are going to be so pissed when they find out I helped you get out of here. You're a breath of fresh air and I think this family needs a shake-up. Come on, let's find you that fast transport I heard Rose talking about."

Alice led the way through the kitchen and was about to open a door, which I guessed led into a garage, when a voice from behind spoke sharply. "Alice, what the hell are you doing?"

Spinning around, Alice walked around me and Rose and strolled toward Jasper. "What does it look like, my love?" She stood on tiptoe and pulled his head down, kissing his lips and then whispering in his ear.

When she released him, he looked a little dazed. "Er," he stuttered. "Don't be too long, Alice."

I had to laugh as she left him leaning toward her, completely focused on her retreating ass, obviously having forgotten about us temporarily.

"What did you say to him, Alice?" I whispered as she moved in front of me to unlock the door.

"I promised him a tongue-lashing, why?" she grinned.

"I don't want to know what that means, do I, Alice?" I had to laugh.

"Let's just say he'll enjoy it." Opening the door, she stepped through and flicked a series of switches, which was followed by lights brightening the dark space one by one, like a scene from a James Bond movie. Each vehicle that lit up under those lights reinforced that image as one by one the cars that could have been used in the movies became visible. Half a dozen came into view, each one more spectacular than the last. Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin.

Slowly, I walked down the line of cars, my hands stroking over the hood of each one. There was a fortune in cars here. "Who owns all of these, Alice?" I murmured as I admired each one in turn.

"Dad owns the Mercedes, the Porsche is mine, and the Ferrari is Jasper's. The rest are Edward's. Mom's SUV is in the other garage."

"The other garage?" My head whipped around and I stared at her. "Just how many cars does this family own?"

She shrugged. "I don't know, I never bothered to count."

She was so nonchalant about it, I had no comeback. Instead, I continued down the line of cars until I came to two covered items and my heart began to beat a little faster. They were far too small to be cars and I knew they had to be motorcycles.

As I headed to the covers and began to lift and uncover the bikes, my thoughts drifted to my dad, who had been furious when he found out Jessica, Lauren, and I had motorcycles. We had discovered them dumped at the roadside labelled for sale or disposal. That was the summer Jess and Lauren had turned seventeen and I wasn't far behind, my birthday being in September, and we had pooled our earnings from the part-time jobs our parents had insisted on us taking at the beginning of the school year so we could afford the parts needed to repair them.

Paul Lahote was one of the boys on the Quileute reservation, and we'd caught him and two of his friends cliff diving and had threatened to tell his dad, blackmailing him into repairing them for us. It turned out well for all of us as we'd become fast friends with the boys that summer and Paul enjoying repairing them so much that he and his friends had managed to start up their own business shortly afterward. He and Jess had eventually married and last I heard they had a couple of kids.

That summer was golden and we'd dubbed ourselves Charlie's Angels. My dad was the Chief of Police in Forks, Washington, and his name was Charlie; we thought it was hilarious, right up until he caught us. That was also the summer I was grounded for weeks. Charlie, my baby, had even been named after my dad, even though he'd never met him. He'd died in a robbery gone wrong two years later when I'd left home for college in Chicago, and if it hadn't been for Rose, I might never have finished school. I shook off the melancholy feelings that always hit me any time memories of Charlie were evoked. Stroking the curves on the bikes, I remembered some of the antics Charlie's Angels had gotten up to before I left home for college and how angry Dad had been when he found out.

I gasped as each bike was revealed. A Dyna Wide Glide Harley Davidson and a Desmosedici. Edward had no idea about my bike fixation; I'd given those up before I met him and with two children I hadn't even thought about them for years. Now, I was salivating at the thought of riding one of these.

Rose, who had followed me and Alice into the garage and was now standing behind me, hummed in appreciation. When we'd first met, it was something we had bonded over immediately and at the time I was envious that she was able to test drive those that she repaired and renovated.

"Oh, tell me we're taking the Ducati, B, please," she begged.

"What about Charlie? Maybe we should take one of the cars, Rose. I'm sure he's at that house and I won't be leaving without him." I was determined, that one way or another, we would have him back tonight.

I mused over that. I wanted to keep Charlie safe, but equally, we had to be careful we weren't seen and if we were seen, we had to have something on our side to give us an advantage in getting away.

Eventually, I sighed and answered her. "No, sorry, Rose. Not this time. It wouldn't be safe for Charlie even if we had a helmet that would fit him and I know Edward wouldn't be happy about it either. He's going to be angry enough that we didn't wait for him; there's no need to add fuel to the fire. Okay?"

"I know, you're right, Bella." She put her hand on my arm. "He might not be there," she said gently. I knew she was only trying to prepare me for the worst, but I shook off her words.

"He is, Rose; I can feel it. Do you have the address? Anything else?"

She held up her hand and grinned. "Jasper can be such a pussy; I didn't even have to threaten much to get this—" she held up what looked like a floor plan. "Sorry, Alice."

I turned to Alice. "Do you have the keys to these?"

"Yes, of course I do. Which one are you taking?" Alice didn't seem phased and just shrugged at Rose's statement and apology.

"Well, I'd love to take the Vanquish, but I think it'd be pretty noticeable, so I think the Audi. It's fast and fairly inconspicuous. Thanks, Alice."

"No problem, Bella. Is there anything else you might need?"

I thought for a minute before asking, "Do you have access to weapons? I think we need to make sure we aren't taken by surprise and we have no idea what we're walking into at that house. I didn't think to bring my own gun from the house."

"Right," she said as she turned to walk back into the house, Rose and I following her. She headed straight for the study, opening the door to find Jasper seated at the desk.

"Hi, Jasper," she said sweetly. "Just getting Bella and Rose set up so they can bring Charlie back where he belongs."

"Alice, no. Edward told me Bella wasn't to leave the house. It's not safe for her."

"What the hell?" I said. "How dare he—"

"Hold on, Bella," Jasper was quick to interrupt my tirade. "Edward and the others will be back soon, so there's no need for you to put yourself in danger," he pleaded.

I stood directly in front of him and leaned down, my hands on either arm of the chair. "If we wait until Edward is free, we might lose Charlie. Aro won't leave him at Carmen's house for long, especially once he finds out Emmett knows where they have Edward. He'll be expecting them to take action to free Edward, and while they're busy, Aro could move Charlie somewhere else or even take him out of the country." I straightened up. "I'm not going to wait," I declared.

The sound of the door opening broke the standoff. Esme stepped into the room with Lily in her arms. "Are you sure about this, Bella, sweetheart?" Esme place her hand on my arm and turned to Jasper. "Why don't you call and find out where they are and let them know what you've found out before Bella leaves? They might have some ideas to offer."

"No," I almost shouted. "We've had this discussion, Esme, and I've made up my mind. I'm done with letting Edward do it his way. I'm going," I stated, daring them to argue with me. "Aro can't be trusted, Esme. We have no idea what his agenda is and I'm not letting him get away."

She looked at me for a while and seeing how determined I was, she nodded her head. I looked over at Rose. "Let's go kick some ass, Rose, and get my boy back where he belongs."

"But, Bella..." Jasper started.

"No, Jasper, we're doing this my way. Are you going to try and stop me?" I challenged.

He sank back into his seat from the half standing position he'd been in, rubbing the back of his neck. He sighed deeply, finally recognising that I wouldn't allow him to stop me. "Okay, Bella," he said finally. "What do you need me to do?"

I looked at Esme, who nodded. "I'll look after Lily," she said. "Do what you have to do and don't worry about her, she'll be fine."

I looked back at Jasper, who opened one of the drawers in the desk. Taking a small locked box from it he used a small key on his keyring to unlock it. "Which car are you taking? You are taking a car?" he questioned.

"Yes, Jasper," I almost sighed. It was clear he still didn't trust that I knew what I was doing, which wasn't surprising since we had only met a short time ago. "The Audi, please."

He nodded his head and muttered, "Good choice." It sounded a little condescending but I chose to let it slide because I needed to be out of here now, without any more arguments from him.

"It's a …" he began when he handed me the keys.

"I know, Jasper and I can drive it," I snapped, pre-empting the rest of his statement, knowing he was asking me if I could drive a stick shift. "Enough, I know what I'm doing so stop questioning me, please."

He inclined his head in agreement. "They both need guns, too, Jasper," Alice piped up, sounding way too happy. No doubt she was reveling in seeing Jasper so out of sorts.

He sighed but reached under the desk with no further argument. A panel in the wall behind him opened revealing a large, locked metal cabinet. He pulled yet another key out of the small box and unlocked it, stepping back so Rose and I could take a look.

"Do you know what you're looking at, Bella? Have you ever fired a gun?" Jasper was back to being condescending and I was getting tired of his constant questions no matter how well-meaning.

"My dad was a cop, for one, and he made sure I knew how to shoot, and two, he and I went hunting every year. So yes, Jasper, I know both what I'm looking at and how to shoot." I glared at him and he took a step back, holding up his hands in a placating gesture.

I stepped forward and chose a Smith & Wesson; it was a gun I was familiar with as it was the same one Charlie had taught me to shoot with. Rose chose a Glock, which I had also used. We had both taken regular classes during our college years, at Charlie's insistence; it was one of the last things Charlie and I had done together. She also grabbed extra clips just in case we met with more trouble than we anticipated once we reached the house. There was no telling what security measures Aro had put in place and I didn't want to be caught unprepared.

Jasper finally seemed to be on board now and opened the drawer below the cabinet, producing two holsters. "These might be a little big for you two, but you're gonna need your hands free where possible." He passed one to each of us and although mine was a little loose, I managed to tighten it enough so it stayed in place.

"Thanks, Jasper." I was glad he wasn't fighting me anymore. "Rose and I will be absolutely fine. Just let Edward and Emmett know where we've gone when they get here, and don't worry about anything Edward says; I'll deal with the fallout. He and I will be having words and you'll be off the hook, I promise."

No more was said while Rose and I kitted ourselves out with the guns, and then, taking the keys to the Audi, we headed toward the garage, Alice and Jasper trailing behind. Wasting no further time, Rose led the way to the car, after I clicked the remote to unlock it.

Alice stopped me before I stepped into the car. "Be careful, Bella," she said, hugging me tightly. "Bring back that nephew of mine; I want to meet him, alright?"

"I will, Alice, don't worry. I am absolutely sure Charlie's in that house." I paused for a second. "And I'm not leaving without him, and if anyone, anyone, gets in my way, they might not survive," I added grimly.

"You go, girl." Alice couldn't keep the giggles away and I had to laugh with her, despite how serious the situation actually was. She stepped back as I slid into the cool leather driving seat and shut the door with a quiet thunk. Fastening my seatbelt, I looked over at Rose. "Ready, Rosie?" I said.

At her nod, I slipped the key into the slot and hit the start button, quickly pushing the car into first gear, while Jasper pressed a button which opened up the garage door in front of the Audi. Pulling out onto the driveway with a wheel screech, I had to laugh at the pained expression on his face; judging by that look and his wince at the squealing tires, I was pretty sure Edward was possessive about his cars and wouldn't be too pleased if we brought it back with a few scratches and dents. Well, we'd be having a talk about that and a number of other things once we were all safely back together. The thought actually made me grin.

Once we cleared the gates, which opened without us having to get up close and personal with the guards, the seriousness of the situation crashed back in. Flooring the accelerator, the car leaped forward leaving tire marks and the smell of burning rubber behind, as we headed toward Valley View.

According to the Sat Nav, It was only an hour away. Aro was a sneaky fucker, keeping Charlie right under our noses. The sky was beginning to darken as we approached the exit off the I-25 before Rose spoke.

"When we're close, we should find somewhere to park until it's full dark. We can take a look at that floor plan and then check around before we attempt to get in. I'm sure Aro wouldn't have left them unguarded and with any luck he won't be here yet."

"Hmm, you're right," I answered. "It won't tell us which room they have Charlie in, but we should have a better idea of who and what we're up against and we can work out what to do next. If possible, I'd like to get in and out before he turns up."

We drove on for a few minutes, both of us checking out the houses on either side of the street.

"There!" Rose pointed at a dimly lit bungalow set back from the road. There were trees and bushes to either side and no sign of anyone on guard, although it was likely they were well hidden. Driving on past, we took the next turn, parking away from the street lights.

"Okay. First, let's see those plans."

Rose pulled the papers she'd printed off at the Cullen house out of her back pocket and handed them to me. I unfolded them and spread them out against the steering wheel, careful not to push against the horn.

Turning them until they matched the orientation of the house we'd just driven past, I could see that the first floor had a large family room stretching across the back of the property There were two exits leading outside; one from the kitchen, and another, much larger, from the dining/family area. I pointed at the kitchen doorway. "That could be a way in, Rose."

She thought for a second. "Hmm, trouble with that is it's a very large, open area and although we can see most of the room, it could be difficult to stay out of sight if someone were to come in unexpectedly. There's also the fact we would have to pass the other rooms to get to the stairs and I would bet Charlie's upstairs."

"Then we should look for a way in through an upstairs window, maybe?" I answered. "That way we can find Charlie first and maybe head back out the same way?" I suggested.

Sounds good," Rose answered. "We have no way of telling which room Charlie's in, so it's as good a plan as anything else." She shrugged and rolled the plan, stowing it behind her seat. "Let's take a quick look and see how many men Aro has guarding the place."

The neighborhood was very quiet so we carefully slipped out of the car, making sure the closing doors didn't make a sound. Standing still for a few minutes, I checked to make sure no one was around and headed along the road to see if there was any way other than the front drive to get onto the grounds of the house.

As we followed the fence for ten or fifteen minutes I was beginning to believe that there was no other way other than that driveway, until a gap in the bushes showed a gateway. Carefully, I tried the handle to the gate, aware of how much any noise in the quiet evening would echo.

"Damn, no luck. I think it's locked," I muttered.

"Here, Bella," Rose said, linking her fingers together. "I'll give you a boost up so you can check if there's a lock on the other side. Maybe we can work out if it's possible to break it."

I put my foot into Rose's hands and she hoisted me up high enough to be able to lean over the gate. "There's no padlock at all, Rose," I whispered. "It's just a bolt top and bottom. Push me up a bit further so I can climb over and open it for you to come in. We can come back out this way, too, once we have Charlie."

The gate creaked under me, making we wince as the sound echoed lightly. Dropping to the other side, I stepped off of the path and behind the bushes, waiting to see if anyone had heard the sound. It wasn't a minute too soon as a dark shadow detached itself from the corner of the house. I caught a glimpse of a gun as the moon momentarily appeared from behind a cloud. Luckily, Rose hadn't asked me any questions, or made a sound, although it was only a matter of time until she did.

Drawing my gun, I watched as the man, as I now knew the dark shadow was, walked slowly past the footpath to the gate and held my breath as he stopped to peer along the darkened path toward it. I didn't know if I'd shoot him if he came too close, but there was no way I'd allow him to give us away; we had only one chance to do this. Fortunately, he was an idiot, and a heavy footed one at that, and the noise of his feet dragging in the gravel would have carried far enough for Rose to know to stay quiet. He stood for a few minutes and then slowly turned and walked back along the front of the house before disappearing around the far corner. I stepped back to the gate and slid both top and bottom bolts back as quietly as I could, opening the gate slowly inward, praying it made little to no sound.

Luck was with me and it was a relatively quiet action and I managed to open it just far enough for Rose to be able to slip through without making any further noise.

"I heard footsteps so I'm guessing there's at least one guard," Rose put her head close to mine and whispered. "Did you see anyone else?"

"Only the one outside and I've no idea if there's anyone else in or out. Aro is fucking arrogant enough to leave only one guard but we should keep an eye out just in case there's another, inside or out. Let's stick to the bushes and work our way around the back of the house first, although I'd really like to follow him around the front; I don't like the idea of meeting him head on, but there's no cover. Come on."

Slowly we worked our way around to the rear of the property, sticking to shadows and bushes as much as we could. "Can you smell that, Rose? Cigarette smoke," I whispered to her.

"I think it's coming from the other side of the house," she whispered back. "Keep on going, if he's smoking it's likely he's not paying much attention.

We crept around the outer edge of the bushes, staying in the shadows as much as we were able to until we were far enough around to see clearly. There was only one man leaning casually against the wall, bracing himself on one leg, the other propped against the wall behind him. I could see the glow from the end of his cigarette now and we wouldn't have a better chance of taking him out than this.

Rose tapped me on the shoulder and a look passed between us. I nodded as she led the way back into the bushes, keeping our eyes on him all the time and working our way closer to where he was standing. He never looked in our direction, just threw his cigarette butt on the ground, stepped on it to put it out, and slowly retraced his steps back around to the front of the house.

We stood silently in the shadows and listened to the sound of his footsteps retreating. There were no voices in conversation and unless they were both quiet, we were fairly sure he was the only guard; at least outside the property.

"We should get rid of him, Bella," Rose said quietly.

"Rose," I answered in a shocked whisper. "We can't kill him, even if that's what Edward or Emmett would do. At the moment, he hasn't done anything, so let's just make sure he can't give us away to whoever's inside."

"He might cause trouble later, B. I say we take him out right now and prevent him from coming back to bite us in the ass later," she scowled at me. At my raised eyebrow she sighed. "Okay, okay. But we definitely need to take him out of the picture; we don't want him busting in at the wrong moment or warning anyone inside or out."

I had to agree. "What do you suggest, then?"

Rose stood deep in thought for a moment. "Since you don't want him dead, we only need to incapacitate him, though I wouldn't be too upset if it ended up more." I looked at her in exasperation but she just shrugged her shoulders. "Well, he's asking for it," she said unapologetically. "He chose to work for Aro; it's his own fault if he ends up dead or hurt."

Nevertheless, she crept around the edge of the house, following him and keeping to the shadows. I watched as she swung the butt of her gun swiftly against the side of his head. He sank to the ground in a boneless heap with a slight thud, never uttering a sound.

I looked at her, wondering why I'd never seen this side of her, especially after the debacle with Royce King. She shrugged again but didn't offer any explanation, leading us back the way we'd come, looking for another way in.

"Look," she whispered, pointing at the back wall of the house. "We could use that."

I looked up, seeing a wooden trellis attached to the wall, trailing from a second floor window to the ground. I couldn't tell if the window was locked from this distance but I decided that was the best we were likely to get without alerting anyone. It was dangerous to try a door until we knew more about who was in the house and climbing the trellis would at least give us a chance to get inside. I could practically feel Charlie; he was in that house and I was determined I was not leaving without him.

"You go up first, Bella; you're smaller and lighter than me. I'll follow you up as soon as you let me know if it's safe to get in that way. Or should I look for another way and meet you inside?"

"No, I think we should stick together, Rose; we're stronger that way." Rose didn't argue and merely nodded in agreement, watching me as I pushed my way through the bushes at the base of the trellis and started climbing.

A few times I held my breath as sections of the wooden trellis broke under my foot but slowly I managed to climb as far as the window. Looking down at Rose, I was a little anxious at how far it was to the ground and looked away quickly to check inside the room, hoping we could use it to get out again after we found Charlie. I couldn't see anyone in the room and the door to the hallway was closed. The fastening on the window gave easily under my dad's knife, the one I never went anywhere without, and then I had to take a couple of steps down the trellis to give myself room to open it.

Turning back to look at Rose, I whispered as loud as I could, hoping there was no one behind any of the other doors in that room or outside the main door, either.

"No one in sight, Rose. Come on up!"

Hitching one leg up onto the sill, I managed to climb inside with only a small amount of noise and sat on the floor out of sight of the main door, waiting to see if my landing in the room had attracted any notice.

Two minutes later, Rose followed me. "Why are you sitting here?" she whispered as she sat beside me.

"Just making sure no one heard us," I whispered back.

After hearing no sound for the next few minutes, we quietly got to our feet and I led the way to the door, opening it a couple of inches to listen.

"Wait, Bella," Rose held onto my arm. "If we get separated, whoever has Charlie should get out fast. No waiting around for the other; get out and head back to the house. Agreed?"

I nodded. "Okay, but only if there's no other choice."

"And if anyone gets in our way, we need to make sure they can't alert anyone else."

I narrowed my eyes at her. "Kill or be killed?"

Rose silently nodded and I turned back to the door, listening again. In the quiet, we heard voices downstairs, at least two people and some music very low; I couldn't tell if it was a radio or a television.

"I can't hear any deep voices so I'd bet it's Carmen. Kate has the same name but she could be a sister or another family member for all we know, but I have to say that my money's on her being Carmen's daughter and that could be to our advantage, especially as I have a sneaking suspicion that Aro is her father."

When I looked at her, she said, "Why else would Aro have moved her into this house? Gratitude to an employee isn't usually rewarded to that extent, is it?" I shrugged as she continued. "Edward would be very interested if it's true; it's another advantage over Aro."

I nodded at her, agreeing, but my concern was Charlie. "Come on, Rose, let's keep searching."

We stepped through the doorway together and tiptoed along the hallway. There were another four doors and I was hoping there wasn't a bad surprise behind any one of them. The first door led to another bedroom and the next was a bathroom, both dark and empty. The third elicited a quiet gasp from me. "Charlie," I breathed and quickly pushed the door wide open, hurrying to the bed.

There was a low night-light beside the bed and he looked comfortable and clean, and was fast asleep. I reached out and ran my hand over his head, expecting him to disappear in a heartbeat, but instead he murmured 'Momma' under his breath and turned his head toward me. He didn't wake so I held my hand gently over his mouth and shook him lightly, whispering his name in his ear.

Charlie startled awake and for a second his eyes went wide with fear until he recognized me and reached out for me, tears running down his face.

Picking him up, his legs wrapped around me and his arms gripped tightly around my neck. "I missed you, Momma. Why didn't you come get me?"

"We didn't know where you were, sweetheart. Daddy and I missed you, too. And Lily's been talking about you; she misses you, too." I hid my face in his neck, swallowing the tears that threatened. "What do you say we get out of here?" Looking up, he nodded his head vigorously. "Okay, then but we gotta be real quiet. Can you do that for me?" I asked. He nodded again.

"Rose, can you grab his jacket and sneakers, please?"

"And my Spiderman backpack, please, Auntie Rose," Charlie insisted in a quiet voice. "All my things are in there."

"Okay, Charlie, anything else?" At the silent shake of his head, I added, "We have to be very quiet, sweetheart, okay? Can you do that?"

His head nodded this time and with his arms and legs gripping me tightly around the waist, we headed toward the door, opening it quietly.

Shockingly, outside the door, with a hand stretched out to open it, was Carmen Denali. I recognized her from the pictures Jasper had found on the internet. She looked much younger than I had imagined, although I knew she was actually a few years older than Aro.

She stepped back and opened her mouth and I was grateful that her question came out as a whisper. "Who the hell are you?"

"I … am Charlie's mother," I hissed, "And I'm taking him home … now!"

"You can't take him. I have no idea who you are and Aro left him in my care." Her voice rose and she lifted her chin, suddenly defiant. "He'll be back soon and my daughter's just downstairs." Her statement proved that our suspicions were correct about her and Kate's relationship.

"I don't have to provide a kidnapper with proof," I sneered. "Would any child hang onto a stranger like this? You know what? It doesn't matter what you think."

"That's my Momma, lady." Charlie's words seemed to confuse her and Rose took advantage of her hesitation and as she took a breath, likely to call out, Rose pushed her backwards toward the bedroom on the opposite of the hall, pulling out her gun and pointing it directly at Carmen's shocked face.

Carmen gasped, putting her hands up, and for every step she took backward, Rose took one forward. "Silence," Rose hissed. "Sorry about this," she said, not sounding sorry at all, "But we can't risk you alerting anyone to our presence and you are holding my nephew prisoner. He was kidnapped by Aro's men and if you don't get in the room and be quiet, I'll have to do something about it, won't I?"

Her voice implied a threat, which Carmen must have heard as she turned pale and her hands trembled. "I don't know anything about that," she whispered as she backtracked the rest of the way into the room.

I followed Rose and sat Charlie on the bed. "Stay there, please, baby," I said quietly and walked to the closet doors to search for something suitable to tie Carmen up with.

Rose had meanwhile hustled Carmen into the bathroom, pushing her into a chair she had shoved up against the end of the radiator. I followed her in, having found a couple of belts and a wide sash from a dress hanging in the closet.

Without a word, Rose tied Carmen's hands behind her and through the open sides of the chair, linking the belt to the radiator pipe, while I neatly wrapped the sash around her face, pushing it into her mouth.

Throughout our actions Carmen said nothing, the shock of our actions and words keeping her silent for a short time, which I knew wouldn't last. By the time she had recovered from the knowledge of Aro's actions, her glare said that the moment she was free, she would shout as loud as she could. I felt a little sorry for her as it was clear that Aro had lied to her, but at the end of the day, Charlie was my son and I would do anything to get him out of here and back home with our family.

"That should do it," said Rose in satisfaction and followed me out of the bathroom, locking the door behind her. We left the room together, locking the bedroom door, too, for good measure.

"Back out the same way we came in?" Rose said quietly.

I hitched Charlie's body up a little. "That trellis was pretty beat up and I'm not sure I want to risk trying to get Charlie down as he's almost asleep now and you know what he's like when he's tired. He's not the most coordinated child when he's wide awake and I'm not sure I can carry him and climb down at the same time."

"You've got a point," Rose agreed. "I haven't heard any further sounds from downstairs, so I guess there's only whoever Carmen was talking to in the house. That's great for us, but our luck might not last much longer; that guard outside won't stay unconscious forever and we've already been here too long, so I say we find a better way out. I say we make our way into the kitchen and use either of the doors to get out of here as quickly as we can; I have the feeling we're running out of time."

Heading for the top of the stairs, we were unable to see around the curve to the lower floor. Rose motioned for me to follow her while she made her way down to the edge of the curve. Peering around the bannister rail, there was no one in sight and listening gave us a murmured sound from one of the rooms at the bottom, which sounded like a television.

Stopping at every step, we carefully made our way down the remaining stairs, take it slow to ensure that any creaking was kept to a minimum. As we got closer to the bottom, I began to believe that we might just get out of here without any further problems when my hopes were dashed. Just as Rose reached the last tread, the door to the room directly to our left opened sharply and I held my breath as another woman appeared in the doorway. She didn't look in our direction, immediately making her way to the rear of the house.

Carefully and quietly we moved back into an alcove under the stairs, hoping she wouldn't turn and see us. "Damn," Rose swore. "I'm pretty sure that's Kate, she looks just like Carmen, and I'm betting she's headed for the kitchen. That puts the kibosh on us being able to head out that way, so that leaves the front door and I really think we need to get out of here sooner rather than later."

"Okay, let's just hope that guard is still out of it." Hitching Charlie up again, I turned and headed for the front door.

Our luck ran out at that moment and I froze as I watched the handle on the door turn. Slowly it opened, revealing Aro. His face lit up at the sight of us and he rubbed his hands together gleefully and said, "Hello, my dear, you must be Miss Swan, this delightful boy's mother." He gestured at Charlie, who refused to look at him. "We have taken great care of him and I trust you are convinced he's fine? He's been well looked after by my daughter and her mother. I assure you, it was only a matter of time until you were reunited; just until young Edward and I had completed our business."

Rose and I looked at each other, acknowledging that Aro had just confirmed our thoughts about Kate, unless there was another person somewhere else in the house. Aro was oblivious to my glare, merely gesturing at the door she had exited from a few minutes ago. "Come, let us sit; we have much to discuss and plans for the future to finalize."

We reluctantly moved into the room, since he had given us no choice. "Place your guns on the table in the corner, please. We don't want any accidents, do we?"

Rose nodded silently at me, both of us placing our weapons onto the table he indicated. We took a seat on the sofa, Charlie tucked safely between us, his eyes closing as he relaxed. Aro took the wing-backed chair opposite us and on the other side of the fireplace, taking great pleasure in extracting his gun from under his jacket and holding it loosely in his lap with the safety off.

"He's not fine, you bastard." My voice was quiet so as not to alarm Charlie. "You had no fucking right to take him; he's an innocent child."

Aro's face hardened as he gripped the gun tighter in his hand, although his words were still soft. "Oh, but it is my right, Miss Swan. You see, my son, Marcus, is dead; killed by Carlisle Cullen, and I deserve not only compensation but also … revenge." The expression on his face was fierce. "I really wanted to take Edward, but it's not easy to get to him; he's always surrounded by bodyguards, so I had to even the playing field. It was so much easier to get to the boy and I knew it would force Edward to come to me." Somehow, his voice was all the more threatening for that softness.

"Edward had nothing to do with your son's death; he was a child himself at the time," I protested. "You can't take my son because Carlisle made a mistake."

Aro shrugged as if it didn't matter who was at fault. "Well, I admit that's true, but I want Carlisle to suffer a thousand times over for his part in …" He stopped and swallowed and although I hated what he had done, I could see the pain on his face; the pain of losing his own child. I didn't want to feel sorry for him and his next words stripped away any empathy created by them. "And now I want everything; the life I should have had with Esme, a son to carry on after me and now … I'll also have every part of the business Carlisle inherited from his father and all he has built since then. It will be mine." His eyes flashed, taking on a maniacal gleam and I suddenly thought, he's insane, as I watched him sit further back in his chair, his face relaxing into a grandfatherly look.

"My wife, Sulpicia, God rest her soul, never recovered from his death, you know," he said conversationally. "Such a shame she didn't live long enough to meet young Charlie. She would have loved your boy. He'll take the place of my son and will be brought up to be my heir. He will be everything Marcus never had a chance to be. And don't worry, my dear, he'll soon forget where he came from." He stopped for a few minutes, watching me closely. "The sins of the father will be visited on the son. Edward will pay for Carlisle's crime; Carlisle will lose both his son and grandson." He narrowed his eyes, waiting for my retaliation, almost enjoying what he considered our sparring.

I wanted to ignore him, not to get into it with him, but my anger won out. "Over my dead body, you asshole. You're not taking my son and I'm sure Edward will have something to say about it, too. You won't get away with it, he'll be on his way by now."

Aro snickered inappropriately. "I doubt that, my dear. You see, there was a fire at the house. The house where I had Edward trapped. So, I don't think he'll be coming back and no one can stop me now."

Rose growled and shook her head. "Well, that's just too bad, Aro. I know for a fact that they all managed to get out of the house and without a doubt they already know where we are. You'll die the minute you set foot outside that door," she threatened.

Aro looked amused and in the silence after her bold statement, the door opened showing the woman who'd stepped out of the room ten minutes ago. Only, now she was holding a gun pointed at Charlie. Rose shifted until Charlie was slightly behind her and no longer in the direct firing line, while I glared at the woman, daring her to make a move.

"Ah, Kate, my dear. Your arrival is most fortuitous. We were just discussing the future. Come in, come in." Aro's smile was creepy.

"It doesn't matter," Kate sneered at me. "You won't be leaving here, with or without the boy. We'll be long gone before they get here."

Stepping further into the room, Kate leaned forward, keeping her gun trained on Rose, grabbing both of our guns off the table and throwing them into the hall where we would be unable to reach them. Aro didn't move, just watched the proceedings with interest, his eyes gleaming with undisguised glee.

Aro's attention shifted back to Kate. "Where's your mother?"

"She went upstairs a while ago; she told me she was going to bed." Kate narrowed her eyes at us, no doubt suspecting that we had somehow done something to Carmen, but she said nothing to us. "What now, Dad?" She had the same gleam in her eye as the one Aro was sporting and it was obvious she was as insane as he.

"We should be getting a move on now, so take the boy and get your mother," Aro ordered.

Kate's face hardened. "You don't need the boy, and Mom will only hold us back. You have me; I can take Marcus's place at your side, I know I can."

"No woman has ever run the Volturi, Kate, and never will. Now, do as you're told, take the boy upstairs, and get ready to leave," Aro barked out. "I'll deal with these two. We can't leave any witnesses, can we?" He smiled sardonically at us.

"It's my birthright, you can't deny me," she screamed at Aro.

Aro stood abruptly, the shocked look on his face telling me that Kate had never spoken to him in that manner and he seemed to be temporarily lost for words. Seeing that his attention was definitely not on us for that moment, I launched myself at him, taking the opportunity to knock him off balance, which I managed to do spectacularly. His body flew backward and at the angle he had been standing my body launched him over the chair where he had been seated, the gun flying out of his hand and skittering across the floor.

Rose had obviously been watching for the same opportunity and threw herself at Kate a mere two seconds later. While I threw punches at Aro's jaw, trying to keep him off balance, Rose straddled Kate, following my example. She gave up much easier than Aro, going limp under Rose's body after the second punch. Grabbing Kate's gun, Rose stood over her, daring her to move.

I knew the only reason I had been able to get one up on Aro was his inattention and some blind luck because despite the hits I was managing to get in, he was showing signs of overpowering me already. Only a minute had passed and unfortunately a wild swing of Aro's fist hit the side of my face. For a moment all I could see were stars and my ears rang. Stunned, I managed not to lose consciousness, although it was a close thing, which gave him time to push me off, leaving me laying on the floor trying to get my wits about me.

Aro ignored me, his face twisted in fury as he faced Rose. Shaking my head to clear it, I rolled over, my gaze falling on Aro's gun, which was within arm's reach under the edge of the sofa right in front of me. Stretching as quietly as I could, I reached out, my fingers almost touching it. All I needed was an inch and I'd be able to reach it. I risked a glance at Rose, who immediately knew what I was trying to do.

"Stay there, you bastard, or I promise I'll shoot you." She glared at Aro and took a step forward threateningly.

Aro didn't budge and held out his hand. "Give me the gun, Miss Hale, and I'll spare the boy's life." He took one step forward but she had given me enough time to reach out and grab his gun. Scrambling to my feet, I placed the barrel against the back of his head.

"That's far enough," I growled. Rose looked over his shoulder and smirked at me, and then turned away as Kate groaned and moved. Stepping to one side, she yanked the cord from the curtain tie-back and stepped over Kate to bind her hands together. Now that it wasn't necessary to be quiet she didn't bother to gag her.

"You'll never get out here," Aro sneered. "I have men outside …"

"Shut up, Aro," Rose and I spoke together. Surprisingly, he did.

"I really want to shoot him, Rose," I said, stepping around him, watching the fear flit across his face before he donned his mask again.

"No you don't," Rose answered. "Have you forgotten that you didn't want me to kill that guard?"

"I know, but this is different. He'll never stop trying to get his revenge and he's nuts if he thinks I'll let him near my son again. And anyway, Edward will want to kill him for taking Charlie; I'd just be saving him the job."

"You know, I have no idea what Esme ever saw in you." I turned my attention back to Aro, taunting him. "She so picked the right man; Carlisle is a wonderful husband and father and now grandfather, too. She really lucked out with him; there's no way she would have been happy with you."

"Don't you dare." His face twisted in absolute fury and his eyes flashed as he took a step toward me. "I loved her and she chose him over me. She dismissed me and my feelings. Another reason for Carlisle to suffer; he took her away from me." His voice had risen to a screech now.

The noise must have penetrated through to Kate and she lurched toward Rose, grabbing her lower leg with her tied hands. Rose was taken momentarily off balance and Aro took advantage of that the same way we had taken advantage of him. Grabbing Kate's gun from Rose, he pointed it directly at Charlie.

"Not so clever now, are we?" he sneered. "Even if you shoot me, Isabella, I'll still be able to shoot your son. Are you willing to take that risk?"

His threat threw me over the edge and I raised my gun to his face again. "The question is, Aro, do you want to take the risk. I will, without a doubt, shoot you; and I never miss."

His lip curled and I could see he didn't believe me, his arm lifting as he deliberately took aim. The sound of the gunshot echoed through the room, deafening all of us for a couple of seconds, followed by Charlie's cry of fear as Aro slumped to the floor, blood pooling under his head. Kate's cry of rage echoed, though I couldn't tell if it was for the death of her father or the derailment of her dreams.

"Damn," Rose swore. "I hope Aro was truly the arrogant bastard I thought he was, or that shot will be bringing in anyone he left outside. Come on, Bella, we need to get out of here, fast."

Rushing over to him, I picked Charlie up, murmuring that everything was alright and that he was okay. I wished he'd not seen or heard anything, but it had been unavoidable. Aro would never have let it go.

I lifted my head. "I told you I wanted to shoot him, Rose."

"That you did, Bella, but I didn't think you'd actually kill him."

"Well, I wasn't going to let him get away with threatening my son, so I figured a bullet in the head would stop all that." I shrugged and changed the subject. "What shall we do about Kate and Carmen?"

Rose deliberated for a second. "I think we should shoot Kate, too. She'll be a danger as long as she's alive, but let's leave them here for now; I'm sure Edward and Emmett will deal with them at some point, and to be honest, I'm tired and I just want to go home." Rose sighed. "Come on, let's go."

She stepped over Kate and without a backward glance headed for the front door, slowly opening it. Luck was on our side and the garden outside was clear, although it wouldn't be long before someone called the cops. Charlie's tears had reduced to a sniffle now and I hoisted him up onto my hip, following Rose out of the house.

The guard we left was coming to and Rose stopped for a second to slug him with her gun again. I shook my head and smiled at her actions, while she shrugged. "Like I said, he chose the job; it's his own fault."

Heading across the front of the house and back along the path to the gate, she held out her hand. "My turn to drive," she said. "Give me the keys."

Without an argument, I tossed them to her and then climbed into the back seat. I hugged Charlie tight and kissed the top of his head, glad that he was back in my arms, and fastened the seat belt around the both of us before pulling my phone out and dialing Esme.

"Bella!" She sounded worried. "Where are you?"

"On our way home, Esme."

"Did you find him?"

"Yes, I did, he's fine. Where's Edward?"

"He's waiting here for you. And Bella, he's not happy."

"Well, that makes two of us, Esme." My voice hardened slightly.

Esme's light laugh told me she was right behind me. "I'm sure you'll work it out. Come on home, Bella. I want to meet my grandson."

"See you soon." I smiled as I ended the call and rested my chin on Charlie's head, knowing that he was safe now. Despite our differences, Edward and I would sort things out; I loved him too much to let him go. But it would be on my terms now, too.