By the next day, everything had pretty much gone back to normal. All the boy's belongings were returned, their new credit cards would be arriving the next day, Rosalie had fixed their cars, I helped remove the unwanted web cam and clapper devices from Jasper's apartment while Alice went into town with Jasper to buy new bedding and pillows for the boys after we'd ruined theirs.
That night we had each spent alone with our boyfriends. Edward and I lay in his bed, talking and laughing for hours before finally getting some sleep. It had been bliss lying in his arms. Not speaking to him for several days had made me slightly anxious, but I suppose the reunion was almost worth it. When I'd pulled out the external hard drive with his music, he'd been so happy that he pulled me in for a surprisingly passionate kiss, snaking his arms around me so I couldn't escape, not that I'd wanted to. The memory of it made me blush all over again; his lips on my cheeks, my neck, my lips, my collar bone … on my stomach … on my hip bone … his warmth … the feel of his hands as they moved over me … the feel of his body against mine …
Snap out of it, Bella! I thought to myself. We were all gathered in Jasper's apartment after it'd been expertly cleaned to perfection by all of us. We had all showered, changed into fresh pajamas and gathered in his living room awaiting the Chinese food delivery and talking animatedly, each restored to our usual happy selves after much needed alone time with our significant others.
I was snuggled into Edward's side when I heard the doorbell ring. Alice sprung up to accept the delivery while Jasper got up and went to the kitchen, "What does everyone want to drink?" He asked.
I shrugged, "Whatever you've got is fine with me."
"Me too," Edward called to him, not moving from his very comfortable position next to me.
"Me three!" Rose called, followed shortly by Emmett. Jasper nodded and got iced tea for everyone and within half an hour we were watching a hilarious movie and eating out of cartons. It was nice to sit back an unwind, especially after all the thoughts I'd had floating around lately.
I, of course, hadn't forgotten about my discovery in Jasper's room. I wanted so desperately to find out more, but I didn't dare ask him out right. After all, anonymity is key. If I asked him, he would probably deny the whole thing. But then what could he do? I know that he's involved, that he is one of them. There's not one doubt in my mind about that. I had three people that I was positive about, Joshua, Melanie and Jasper. But now, who else?
During the movie, Edward lazily twirled a strand of my hair in his fingers. "Hey I found this place not too far from here where we could go on a hot-air balloon ride. Would you like to go with me next Saturday?" He asked in a near whisper so that he wouldn't disturb the others watching the movie.
I beamed at him, "A hot-air balloon?! Like in the Wizard of Oz?!"
He laughed quietly, "Yes. How about it?"
"Absolute—," I paused, "Oh wait. Next Saturday I have a soccer game. Its an important one." Sinking disappointment seemed to fill my stomach.
He put his arms around me and pulled me closer to him, "Its not a problem. We can go another time." He kissed my forehead sweetly and I immediately knew that he wasn't upset about it, "Are you nervous about the game?"
I shrugged, "Kind of, but I feel pretty well prepared."
"Who are you playing?" Emmett asked from where he was seated.
"Some school from Ohio … Lewis Carroll University?"
Jasper nodded, "We played their football team back in October, and they were quite the cards …"
Edward chuckled, "They were running around like they'd lost their heads. Man, they were pretty pathetic."
I laughed, "Well lets hope their soccer team is the same … although if they were I don't think they would've made it into the championships."
"Well, I still go by my theory … a teams mascot says a lot about them." Emmett said confidently, pulling Rosalie closer to him and resting his head on hers, "And when your team mascot is the Mad Hatters what real chance do you have?"
We all laughed. "I don't know Emmett, that's what you said about the Elves and they were pretty vicious." I pointed out.
"Elves have the capability of being ferocious, they aren't usually but sometimes it comes out. Mad Hatters are a different story. I mean, come on, they're mad! Crazy people don't play sports well."
Edward rolled his eyes at his brother, "Your logic astounds me."
"But aren't crazy people sometimes violent?" I asked.
Emmett shook his head, "Not the ones that wear hats," he said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
I looked to Edward with my brow furrowed in confusion. Edward simply shook his head, "Don't try to understand what goes on in his head … its better to just smile and nod." I giggled.
We all settled back to watch the rest of the movie, but it didn't hold my interest so I found myself drifting into unconsciousness.
"Bella?" Edward called me out of my trance after a while.
"Are you falling asleep?"
I looked at him, "No," but a yawn escaped me and made him chuckle in sheer skepticism.
"How come you're so exhausted? Its only eight at night." He studied my face, "Are you ill?"
"No, no," I yawned again, as did Emmett and Rosalie, "see I'm not the only one."
At that point I noticed that everyone's eyelids were drooping. Wait a minute …
I sat up suddenly, "Oh no."
Edward eyed me carefully, "What's going on?"
"Yea Bells, what's up?" Emmett said with another wide yawn.
I turned to Jasper, "Jasper did you, by any chance, happen to buy a new gallon of iced tea today?" I eyed my glass on the coffee table.
He looked confused, "No, why?"
Alice gasped next to him, "Oh no!"
"What is going on," asked a very curious Edward.
Rosalie groaned, "Oh crap! We forgot about the drinks!"
Alice bit her lip, "We put drowsy cough medicine in all of the beverages in your fridge."
"What?!" Jasper looked incredulous.
"Well," she continued in a small, innocent voice, "it was during the prank war, and we forgot about it. It was supposed to make you guys really sleepy and stuff so you would fall asleep in classes and stuff and get in trouble."
Emmett just laughed his signature booming laugh, and after a few seconds, we all joined in.
"I guess that one kind of backfired on us, huh?" I chuckled. Edward kissed my nose and nodded.
"Oh well, at least we'll all get a good night's sleep tonight." Jasper said as he hugged Alice closer to him.
Emmett ruffled her hair, "Alice you have truly amazed me these past couple of days. I have never been more proud of you." Alice giggled as Emmett then threw a pillow at Edward's head, "Why couldn't you take after me some more?"
Edward dodged the pillow and grinned, "Someone in the family has to be somewhat normal, don't you think? Especially with you two lunatics running around."
Both Alice and Emmett stuck their tongues out at him at the same time.
I walked into my dorm later that week having just attended class to find that it was empty. Alice was either in class or at Jasper's and Edward was in his lab class. Although moments without Edward always had me longing for him, I did enjoy having the time to think freely. There were things on my mind lately that I couldn't talk to about anyone, nor could I put them aside much longer. I dropped my messenger bag next to my desk, kicked off my sneakers and lay in my bed, thinking over the recent discovery I had made at Jasper's.
He had three robes hidden under his bed; each neatly folded and carefully tucked away where he thought no one would look. Three of the dark silvery satin robes I knew to belong to members of the Twilight League. The inevitable question pestered me once again, as it had so many times since the day I discovered them; why three?
I shouldn't jump to conclusions, I thought to myself. There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation. There was no doubt in my mind now that Jasper was a member, and I suppose it would be possible for him to have more than one cloak. In case the others get damaged? But as I thought it, I knew that wasn't the case. He wouldn't have three robes for himself. Two of them must belong to others.
My mind immediately wandered to the other two I was certain of; Melanie and Joshua. But they each have their own apartments where they could store them. It would make no sense for them to have Jasper hold onto their cloaks for them. Even if they were afraid their roommates would stumble upon them, each had their own room where they could easily hide them. So they were out. Who else?
In my head I wandered back to the last face to face (in a matter of speaking, I didn't actually see their faces) encounter; the night of my second task. There were three people in the SUV, the cloaked man with the impossibly deep voice who sat in the back with me, explaining what I was to do. Then there was the driver and the man in the passenger seat. I hadn't heard either of them speak, although they did laugh… and the one in the passenger seat had handed the one next to me the box with the compass. I closed my eyes and went back to that moment in my mind, the moment I realized that I had, in fact, passed their test … I hadn't heard Jasper's voice though. And they did laugh for a bit at one point …
"So, Isabella," came an impossibly deep male voice from beside me, "The time has come for your next test."
He paused and I nodded slowly, anticipating the worst, but praying for the best. Either way, I couldn't deny that I was excited to be with them again. I hadn't actually been with them face to face since the masked ball last term.
He cleared his throat and adjusted his collar around the mouth part of his cloak before. "Your task is simple," he said as the car wound through the streets. One look outside of the window told me that we were in the old quaint town right outside of the school. Its old stone houses and buildings stood out to me. "You must retrieve a box." …
I immediately sat up in my bed. He had adjusted his collar before speaking … could he … was there …? I sprang from my bed and went to my laptop, searching the internet for something specific but not really knowing what it was.
I pulled up a search engine and typed in 'voice modulating devices', hit the send button and waited for the results to pull up. The page loaded in an instant and I went to one result that sold different styles. I looked around and the many different kinds. There were large ones, but I disregarded those, knowing there was no way they could have fit that comfortably into their cloaks.
Then I found many different small ones.
Bingo! I thought enthusiastically as I pieced together another puzzle piece. They could absolutely have been masking their voices. It would make sense, since they mask their faces all the time… and they had sounded different than when I'd met them at the ball, when they only had fitted masks on so nothing would fit under those … And they knew me. They'd been at my soccer game, they knew about my personality, they knew where I lived. I knew them!
I just didn't know who they were.
I closed my laptop and jumped from my desk chair, did the tiniest of happy-dances at the elation of my new discovery before I tripped over nothing and landed on the floor.
I sat back down in my bed and went back to my mystery. Now the only thing that was left was figuring out who they were. I thought about things logically; if Jasper had three robes, two of them must be for others, and they must have hidden them at his place because they didn't want them found. But even if just anyone were to stumble upon them, would they even know what it was? After all, there were no markings on them, at least not from what I could see, and if that was the case then anyone who saw them would probably think it was just a normal, luxurious satin hooded robe. Or maybe even a Halloween costume. Unless the person knew of the Twilight League, there is no way that they would associate the two things, therefore, Jasper must be keeping them safe for people who are afraid of those near them finding the robes and linking them and their owners with the League. Now who else would know about the League and not be in it but one who is pledging?
My mind danced as I went through the possibilities of who those other two robes could belong to. Let's see, from what I knew about the League was that they were all close friends, as one of the members had told me during my first experience with them. So it would be people that Jasper was close with. Let's see, his close friends were Alice, Rosalie, Edward, Emmett, Logan, Joshua, Melanie and a few others.
I narrowed my search to those who I would be most likely to find robes in their belongings; Emmett, Edward, Rosalie and Alice. Could they all be members? Could they all have been there during any of my tasks? What about the last task? There had been three in the car, one of them was probably Jasper, seeing as how he knew me so well and he was very close friends with who I suspected to be a leader of some sort; Joshua. From what I knew about Joshua, he'd been out during the blizzard when I was sent to get the key during my first task; I'd heard him saying to Edward that he had been out that night, and let's face it; no one in their right mind would have been out there if they could help it.
So it could be that Josh was one of the people in the car with me during the second task. The descriptions fit; he was tall and he was a member. I frowned; those two weren't great clues, but they were clues nonetheless. The people in the car were definitely all boys, though, and Jasper wouldn't hide a robe for Joshua because he could surely hide his on his own. So that left Edward and Emmett.
Could those two robes belong to Edward and Emmett? Could Edward and Emmett be in the Twilight League?! It made sense, their families had definitely been in it. But then another thought struck me; Edward had been waiting for me in my bed when I'd got home that night and he'd already been asleep. They had dropped me off right at my dorm, there was no way for him to have gotten up there before me. And he'd also had asked Joshua what he was doing out the night of the blizzard, so he didn't know.
My heart sunk. Edward hadn't been in that car. Damn. I really thought I'd had it then. Alright then, that leaves Emmett … except Emmett and Rosalie had been annoyingly touchy that day, all through lunch and then dinner … I was pretty sure they'd spent the night together, and it would explain why Edward waited for me in my room, not wanting to interrupt their fun.
Argh! This was frustrating.
Oh well, at least I had narrowed down at least two of the people who were in the SUV. Jasper was probably there, since Alice had been in the dorms that night so I knew she wasn't with him.
Oh my gosh! I bolted upright once more as a thought struck me:
My mind was suddenly filled with thoughts; The sequined mask she had at the beginning of the year, draped over a black garment bag… a garment bag that could have held a ball gown … like the one I had for my first encounter with them! I had never seen that garment bag again and I'd been in her closet pretty often since she was always dressing me and switching my close for ones she had that would fit me better … I was always in her closet; me, a prospective Twilight League member … so if she was in the League, she'd have to keep it a secret from me, and that meant she couldn't just leave her own silver robe in her closet, I'd be sure to find it … so she would have to keep it at Jasper's!
I jumped from my bed and did another little happy dance; Alice was in the League! Of course! That's how they could always easily get the letters to me! Even if Alice wasn't there, she could always leave it open of let someone she trusted borrow the key for a bit!
I jumped up and down on our lavender rug with a huge grin on my face, unable to contain the joy I felt at my discovery! Alice was in the Twilight League! Alice!
The door to my room suddenly opened and I immediately tripped once more and landed painfully on my side. Damn rug! Damn clumsy feet!
"Bella?" Speak of
the devil. Alice had a hand covering her grin as she addressed me,
"What were you doing?"
Crap. I felt my face flush a deep crimson, "Oh … nothing, you know … just jumping jacks … gotta stay in shape you know … big game next week."
Her eyes danced with amusement but she kept her hand clamped over her mouth, "Sure … jumping jacks … OK then." I got up and brushed myself off as she entered the room, "so do you normally exercise in your jeans, or was it a spur of the moment thing?"
I put my hands on my hips and shot her an annoyed look to cover up my embarrassment, "As it happens, I just suddenly felt the need for jumping jacks."
She laughed, "Alright then, are you done? Because we're meeting Rosalie in her room while she drops off her bag and changes her shoes before we leave for dinner. Why that girl wears pointy heels when she's going to be working with dirty mechanical stuff in class is beyond me."
I chuckled, "She's quite the mystery," I grabbed my wallet from my messenger bag and stuffed it into my back pocket along with my keys as we headed out the door.
"So do you want to tell me what you were really doing when I walked in?"
I hesitated for a split second, but then decided against telling her about my discovery. After all, I couldn't be one hundred percent positive just yet and as they'd said anonymity is key. "If you must know, I was doing a happy dance."
She chuckled, "And what were you so happy about that you had to express it by dancing and falling on your face."
I rolled my eyes, "Actually, I fell on my side, thank you very much. And just a little discovery I made that I think will make some things a little bit more fun."
"School things?" She mused.
I nodded, "You could say that." We dropped the subject as we arrived at Rose's door.
"I'm almost ready. Alice can you help me take off this damn shoe, the buckle is stuck? And Bella, could you grab me that light green jacket in my closet, I got grease on this one."
"Sure thing," I nodded and headed over to her closet and search for her light green jacket. I smiled as another realization hit me; Rosalie's wardrobe was another I was very familiar with. Her and Alice would always swap my clothes without permission… could the third robe be for her? I went through her carefully organized clothes … Nope, no silver robe here …, I thought myself with a grin as I found the green jacket and went to give it to Rosalie. I couldn't be sure about Rosalie, after all, it isn't guaranteed that all members of a family will join, or that they'll even get the invitation. But at least I had Alice.
Sorry its taken so long to update but I have another chapter almost ready so expect that either tonight or early tomorrow. Thanks so much for reading!