AN: Sorry for the long wait, life, and medical problems took place.
Salvation Comes at a Price: Final Chapter
Summary: In trouble, Lord Swan turns to the sisters to aid him, but saving what he loves above all else may come at a price Isabella might not be willing to pay. A life.
"Now, where do you think he is going?" Kate asked as they spied Samuel Thomas rushing out of his home.
"Let's find out." The sisters took to the sky, landing silently on the roof of Thomas's home. Following Samuel was easy enough as it was dark and the streets were nearly deserted. Even if it wasn't, no one was going to look up to find two women leaping from rooftop to rooftop. It came as no surprise when Samuel entered the home of George Huxley. They landed on the roof of Huxley's home and dropped down onto the balcony. As Huxley did not expect anyone to get into his home through the third-floor balcony, the door was open. They entered what appeared to be the guest bedroom, opening the door a crack. With their vampiric senses, the conversation taking place in the drawing-room could easily be heard.
"Why would they buy his debt?" Huxley raged.
"I do not know; I was in no position to question them," Samuel murmured.
"Of course." Huxley's tone showed understanding, but the anger could also be clearly heard.
"You could surely have your pick of women, so why her," Samuel asked the very question on everyone's lips.
"I just do," Huxley barked. Kate growled at the answer. "It looks as though I will have to resort to getting rid of Charles and the Kirby's." They could hear Huxley's pacing, his steps heavy on the rug dragging it across the floor with every step. "Without them, Isabella would be left with nothing and would have no choice but to take whatever I offer her. She will be mine, whatever happens." Kate and Tanya stared at each other in disbelief. It was time to leave.
"He is willing to resort to murder. There has to be more to this than meets the eye." Tanya murmured.
"I do not care… he dies." Kate groused as they made their back to their residence. They met Irina on the way home.
"It's not looking good; he is not above killing Isabella's loved ones to get to her," Tanya informed her sister.
"We could end that threat tonight," Kate whispered.
"No, we should talk to the Swans first. I really do not need my mate fearing me before I have even revealed what we are and what is to become of her. It is late, and Charles is not back yet. We will talk to them in the morning." Irina took her irritation out on a telegraph pole. The sisters were gone before the pole it the ground.
The stench of fear always smelled wonderful when it came from a despicable human who had preyed on others for so long and now found themselves prey. That same stench coming from her mate had Irina gritting her teeth to stop herself from taking the girl into her arms and comforting her.
"What do we do?" Cora Kirby asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
"We kill him." Her husband answered without hesitation. Isabella's eyes widened in disbelief. At that moment, Irina knew it would be near on impossible to convince her mate that it was the best cause of action.
"We can't just take a man's life." Isabella retorted angrily.
"Would you rather he took the lives of your family?" Kate asked, finding Isabella's stance foolish.
"It is his life or that of your family."Irina reiterated softly.
"What if Isabella disappeared?" Charles asked.
"That would have worked if Huxley had no knowledge of us buying your debt. He will come after us and make life difficult for us. Unless, we leave these isles altogether, and even then, it does not guarantee your safety." Irina had thought of it but had quickly dismissed it. They were not about to run because of one human so easily dealt with.
Isabella smiled then. "If Huxley made life difficult for you, would Samuel Thomas not find his life made difficult?" The only shipping company willing to work with him was the sisters. Without them, Samuel Thomas was a ruined man.
"Yes." Tanya smiled; she liked the girl, she was sharp.
"But, I'm afraid it still does not solve your problem," Irina interjected. "The only solution Samuel has is to kill Huxley. He does not have the money, the power, or the clout to go against Huxley. Even if he did, Huxley has too much dirt on him, enough to force Samuel to keep his mouth shut and watch Huxley attempt to destroy our name and company." Irina finished.
Isabella fell back in her chair with a defeated huff. "Maybe, I should…"
"If you finish that sentence, I will walk out of here this moment and put a bullet in Huxley's brain myself; consequences be damned." Albert Kirby growled.
"So, the only solution here is to kill a man," Isabella shouted.
"Have you already forgotten that this is the man plotting the death of everyone you love?" Kate asked, struggling to understand the girl's reluctance to the obvious solution.
"I just…" Isabella had no other answer.
"Then I guess we let him kill your father and us, and then the sisters spirit you away," Cora said, clearly becoming frustrated with Isabella.
The girl in question avoided eye contact. She didn't need anyone to tell her her stance was rather foolish considering the consequences. The solution to their problem was obvious, and yet the idea of someone dying because of her was hard to get past. The alternate was not one she could live with either. In the end, the answer was simple. "Kill Huxley." She said, surprised by the strength in her voice. Clearly, she wanted him gone more than she was willing to admit even to herself.
"If it makes you feel better, we will give him a chance to walk away. In fact, we will give him a chance until he makes an attempt on the lives of your family, then we will retaliate." Irina offered.
"That is more than he deserves," Charlie said, speaking for the first time. He did not have much to say as his vices were the catalyst in this mess.
"Yes, but we will give it to him anyway. His death will be no one's fault but his own." She looked at Isabella, who recognized this was not for done Huxley, but for her.
"I'm so sorry…" Charles started.
"You are not at fault, Charles. If anything, your gambling debt revealed Huxley's plans to us; without it, we would have been in the dark until it was too late." Tanya said as Charles's eyes widened. He hadn't considered that.
"Indeed." Cora intoned. "Thank God for small mercies." She added in a whisper.
Her sisters waited outside as she said her goodbyes to Isabella. "You are not going to do something as stupid as secretly going to Huxley after we leave, are you?" Irina asked a sheepish looking Isabella; she had considered it, but not anymore.
"No, it was a fleeting thought," Isabella replied, looking at the vampire in the eye. "What are you?" Her voice was barely above a whisper.
"Let's deal with Huxley, and then we will have that conversation. I will admit I am not entirely confident that you will take that information well if your reticence in dealing with Huxley is anything to go by. Then again, you have a tendency to exceed expectation." She kissed Isabella's cheeks. "Goodnight, Isabella." She whispered in her ear.
"Goodnight." She replied, her voice unsteady for reasons she could not quite pinpoint.
Isabella stood staring at the closed door, trying in vain to decipher her emotions. "Don't tell me you are still worried about them dealing with Huxley." Mrs. Kirby grumbled.
"No, I'm just trying to figure out why they are willing to help." She murmured, earning an eye roll from the motherly figure.
"I think it is rather obvious, child." She chuckled, lighting another candle.
"Isn't that against everything that is natural?" Isabella asked concern evident on her features.
"All that matters, Isabella, is how you feel. Does it feel unnatural to you?" Mrs. Kirby asked.
"No," Isabella answered without hesitation.
"There you go." Mrs. Kirby said as though it was that simple, or maybe it was.
Irina smiled to herself having heard the conversation between Isabella and Mrs. Kirby. "I believe it's time to inflame Samuel Thomas," Irina growled much to Kate's elation. She had been bored for far too long, and Huxley and Thomas's stupidity delighted her to no end.
Samuel Thomas was no idiot; he knew Huxley's obsession with Isabella Swan would end well for him. The sisters also seemed to have an interest in the family for unknown reasons. If the two went to war, he would also lose even if he did his damndest to stay out of it. The sisters held his livelihood in his hands, and Huxley was going to jeopardize that over a girl. Worse, he saw nothing special about the girl, there were far more beautiful girls Huxley could easily have, and yet he wanted no other. He sighed as he climbed the stairs to the sister's office. Sestry Shipping had come to his aid when none would touch him, fearing the wrath of the EIC.
"Huxley need not know we bought Charles' debt. If we ask Samuel not to tell him, he would not… after all, if Huxley comes after us, he loses." Samuel's feet froze on the steps as he heard the conversation going on in the office.
"If your information is correct, it makes no difference whether Samuel tells him or not, he will go after Charles and the Kirbys hoping that somehow Isabella will surface. Taking the girl as you suggest does not solve our problem." Irina muttered loudly enough for Samuel's ears.
"No, Huxley is the problem. He is hellbent on making Isabella his, without her family, she would have little choice but to accept whatever Huxley offers." Kate added.
"If the family dies, we take her then. Shut operations down here and never return." Tanya said firmly.
"We are all agreed." Irina intoned.
"Yes, I will make preparations just in case," Kate said as she stood and made her way noisily to the door. Samuel made his way back down the stairs silently, or at least what he considered to be a silent retreat.
The sisters chuckled at his rapidly increasing heartbeat and the constant string of curses hurled at Huxley. "This just might actually work," Tanya murmured with a smile.
"There is one solution we never considered." Kate piped up.
"And what solution is that?" Irina asked.
"They could all leave. We could effectively make the Swan family disappear overnight." Irina and Tanya looked at each other.
"It is a solution," Irina mumbled.
"Charles will not leave, and I don't see the Kirby's doing so either," Tanya said. "Even if they agreed, it makes changing Isabella difficult with her father around."
"If I am honest, I want her far away from her father; it makes the separation easier. I truly do not want to deal with the Volturi, ever again." Irina intoned.
"You have thought about it, haven't you." Kate teased, knowing her sister well.
"I did," Irina muttered but said nothing more as Samuel had finally gotten himself together enough to head back up.
If Irina were honest with herself, she would admit she had feared it was a solution Isabella would think of. A solution that made turning her mate difficult. She had no desire to have three humans in her household. Their homes allowed them the freedom to be themselves, and having three humans there would not be ideal, especially with a newborn vampire in the midst, because no matter what happened, she was turning Isabella. It was not something she planned to do now, that is why it was best the Swans and Kirbys stayed in the comfort of their own home. Isabella was merely seventeen in age, and Irina would prefer she was a few years older before she was turned.
Irina and her sisters watched the Swan residence vigilantly, and they did so out of sight. Not even Isabella saw them despite looking out for them. Irina did not miss the forlorn look her mate wore as the days wore on, and she had not shown. After several days, she decided to visit the girl finally, she was doing so because it was the night Samuel Thomas intended to kill Huxley, with her sisters in France, it worked out rather well.
Mrs. Kirby leveled a beaming smile at her. "She will be rather pleased to see you." She said as she ushered Irina in. "She has never truly made friends for fear they will discover her true lineage, so I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your friendship." Irina smiled and nodded in response. She doubted Mrs. Kirby would be this happy if she knew the truth in its entirety. Irina was well aware that Cora Kirby knew it was more than friendship. However, Irina being a vampire and wanted Isabella as one was still a secret. One she feared even the open-minded Kirbys would not be able to accept.
"Irina." Isabella cheered.
"Isabella, it has been too long." Irina chuckled at the look her mate gave her. As though it was entirely Irina's fault, which it was.
The two settled in the drawing-room. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"Nothing at the moment." Irina returned with a smile that had Isabella blushing.
"Huxley is still alive." Isabella blurted.
"Yes, I have people watching him, and so far, he has made no move to carry out his plans. Let's hope he never does, although I strongly believe that to be wishful thinking."
"Indeed," Isabella whispered.
"Where is your father?" She asked, despite already knowing the answer.
It seemed Isabella knew that too. "I am sure he can be found at some illegal gambling den, but then you already know that." She sighed, having given up hope her father would change. "One would think with Huxley out to kill him, he would stay clear of places that make killing him an easier task." She added.
"Yes, one would think," Irina murmured. Despite her words, she smiled as she heard it. George Huxley was dead, thrown from his horse, it would seem. She could hear the commotion even from that distance. Samuel Thomas, it appears, was a rather intelligent man.
"Are you ever going to tell me the truth about yourself?" Isabella asked, taking Irina's focus from the chaos of Huxley's death.
"Yes, but not yet."
"Why not?" Isabella, for the first time, sounded rather petulant. Irina would never admit it out loud, but she liked the petulance.
"It is our most sacred law. To tell you would be to condemn you to our way of life or kill you."
"And you want neither for me." Isabella surmised.
"I will gladly condemn you to our way of life. I love our way of life, and I believe you would too, under the right circumstances."
"And the circumstances are not right at present."
She smiled. "No, Isabella, they are not." Irina chuckled.
"You will tell me when they are right?" Her eagerness gave Irina a great deal of hope.
"I intend to do just that, Isabella. I hope you will come to understand just how much you mean to me. I want nothing but the best for you." Irina's heartfelt words left Isabella speechless, but the rate of her heartbeat was enough of an answer.
"So far, the evidence supports your words, so I have no reason to doubt you." Irina's beaming smile had Isabella holding her breath.
"It's getting late…"
"Will you call on me tomorrow?" Isabella asked eagerly.
"I will." She kissed Isabella's cheek, a kiss that lingered for a little too long. Isabella felt bereft when Irina pulled away.
"I find myself ready for whatever the future holds, as long as that future has you in it." She whispered, earning a radiant smile from Irina.
"That means more to me than words can express." The temptation to kiss her mate was strong, and she would have given in had Mr. Kirby not burst into the house at that very second.
"There is a God, Huxley is dead, thrown from his horse." Despite already having knowledge of Huxley's death, Irina feigned surprise, then elation. She truly did not need Isabella questioning her, so she played along. In a century or two, she might tell her mate the truth.
"There is indeed a God." Isabella did not cheer the death of anyone, but she was also grateful the man was dead, and she had no hand in it, directly or indirectly.
"Well, I believe it's time for me to head home, it is getting rather late. Isabella, goodnight." She gave the Kirbys a nod and left. She could still hear the commotion Huxley's death had caused, and with a smile, she got into her carriage.
"Would this be the other coven that sucks on animals as well?" Bella teased. Tanya and Kate had met the Cullens twenty years ago. Irina and Bella traveled often and had yet to meet the Olympic coven. Eleazar knew Carlisle when he spent time with the Volturi.
"Yes, that would be them," Carmen said, trying to keep the laughter out of her voice, but the smug smile on Bella's face said she clearly failed.
"I am rather interested to see if their gifts will work on you," Eleazar said, sounding a little too merry.
"I'm sure you are." Kate teased. Her gift having never worked on Bella, she was sure none in the Olympic coven's would work either. "I will admit, I will not be pleased if it does." She added.
"I will have my shield very much in place." Bella quipped.
"It's always in place." Irina snarked. Bella smiled as she sauntered towards her, almost four hundred years later, and she still could not help but smile at the sight of her mate. Six years after Huxley's death, Bella finally learned the truth about the sisters. It was the night after they buried Charlie, he died of tuberculosis. Bella still found it strange to know that it was no longer a death sentence and had not been for the past decade. She herself had unfortunately contracted the disease as well. A few days after learning the truth, she left England and was changed two days later in a secluded chateau in France.
Turns out Irina was right, Bella loved their way of life.