I nervously stood when the door opened. At least Mr. Jasper had called ahead, even if it was only by an hour. Most likely that meant no one had died this time. Hopefully.
He stood aside, allowing Bella to enter ahead of him. She smiled warmly – nothing like Mr. Jasper. "Good to see you again, J."
The relief was almost staggering. They were both here, Bella was smiling, and Mr. Jasper looked comfortable if not actually amiable. "And you, Bella."
Mr. Jasper coughed menacingly – only he could pull off such a nuance of sound – and I corrected, "Ms. Bella."
We stood in awkward silence for a moment, and then I pulled out a chair for her.
"Thank you." She perched on the edge of the seat, and it was then I noticed that her eyes were the same cat-yellow as Mr. Jasper's.
He came to stand beside and just behind her. Like a bodyguard. His eyes never left my face.
I hesitated. Ever since that first meeting, Mr. Jasper had always stood during our interviews, but Bella – Ms. Bella – had at least gone through the motions of making me at ease. I compromised and leaned against the edge of my desk, facing them.
Mr. Jasper's lion-eyes held mine. "I know you met Bella while I was on my business trip, but I wanted to give you a better introduction to my new sister-in-law."
Odd, but then, everything about him was. "Certainly."
"You've never met my brother-in-law Emmett, but do you recall the description on his papers?"
"Yes." Curly black hair. Brown eyes. Six-foot-five and two-hundred-fifty pounds.
"Bella beat him in a wrestling match. She's much stronger than she appears."
I blinked, trying to process this. She couldn't weigh more than a hundred and ten.
"You know I couldn't do it again," Ms. Bella protested.
Mr. Jasper spoke over her. "Good thing, too. We've had a bit of a run-in with another . . . family."
There were others like them!
He smiled widely at my shock. I'd long ago given up trying to hide my emotions from him. No matter how good my poker-face, he always saw through it.
"You don't need all the details, but things were pretty tense at one point. It was good we had Bella as an ace in the hole." His disturbing smile faded into something almost affectionate. "She's the one you want beside you in a pinch. Trust me. People who would happily take me on are terrified of her."
Ms. Bella closed her eyes, the hands on her crossed legs freezing in place. The sudden stillness was frightening. Her lips pursed slightly, as if she were annoyed.
When she looked at me again, her smile was sweet, or at least it wfas meant to be. All I could see were her teeth.
More dangerous than Mr. Jasper!
"In fact, that's why we came today," he continued. "Bella requested to take over my position, and I could hardly refuse her. She has clearly proved herself the most capable at taking care of outsiders."
"Stop it," she murmured a threatening undercurrent in her words. "You're making me blush."
Mr. Jasper snickered.
"The real reason we came today is because we need two passports," Ms. Bella declared, getting down to business. Apparently she'd had enough of Mr. Jasper's introduction.
I picked up a legal pad and began taking notes.
"Unfinished," Mr. Jasper clarified.
"One for Isabella Cullen, age eighteen with my general description." She hesitated until I was ready again. "Address and everything is the same as the rest of the family."
"And the other?"
"Renesmee Cullen, spelled R-E-N-E-S-M-E-E. Seven years old, but use the same description as you did for Vanessa Wolfe."
"Use the current Cullen address for her as well?"
"And how soon do you need these?"
"A month would be soon enough."
"Shall I deliver them at the usual place? One month from today at seven o' clock?"
Ms. Bella gracefully rose to her feet, and Mr. Jasper respectfully opened the office door for her. She paused there, narrowing her eyes at him and sharing a gaze with him that clearly communicated some meaning. "You go on ahead. I need a few more minutes with J."
"Whatever you wish, Bella," Mr. Jasper answered, bowing his head slightly in deference.
She rolled her eyes.
When the door closed, she gave me a timid smile. "For the record, J, I'm still just Bella, the same little old me you helped out a few months ago."
"If you prefer. Bella." It was hard to omit the "miz."
She sighed in exasperation. I wasn't fooling her. "Look. You're a lawyer. You know how sometimes people can technically tell the truth, but it comes out all backwards? So that it becomes a lie. Kind of."
"Well, Jasper told you the truth, kind of. Don't believe a word of it."
The truth was she was the strongest, most dangerous creature I'd ever met – even she admitted it – but she didn't want me to believe it? Ignore it?
She extended her hand. "Still friends?"
I gratefully accepted, even though her hand was as cold as Mr. Jasper's. She might want me to call her just Bella, but she was still a Cullen. Her lioness-eyes were warm, and I intended to keep it that way. "Friends."