A/N: So, you all seem to have mixed feelings about whom you like hearing from, so that didn't really help me all that much. I hope this is okay. I plan on getting back to more action soon. I just want to make sure I have all the bases covered so I don't lose anyone along the way. Besides, I just want to tell a little about Edward's history.
This chapter is probably going to seem out of character, but I wanted to add some humor before the shit hits the fan. Plus, I just wanted to make an uncomfortable Bella in the story just once, and it was fun to write this.
Thanks to karma0be11e for being a completely wonderful and amazing beta because she just is.
We whiled away the time just talking. Our pasts, our likes, our dislikes; for once, it was nice not having to think about the case. I didn't have to think of Edward as a job like I usually did. It was just…nice.
I wasn't sure how long we had been talking when I heard a soft creak coming from the stairs followed by two sets of footsteps. Edward closed his mouth immediately and looked at me, unsure of what was going on. Placing a finger to my lips, I silently pulled my gun out and positioned my body in front of his.
"Edward," I whispered, "if I give you an order, do exactly as I say and do not hesitate. Do you understand me?"
His warm breath fanned across my neck, tickling my skin as he spoke. "Why? Are we in danger? I thought you said we were safe here."
I held in a sigh as the footsteps grew louder. "Edward, this is not the time for questions. Do you understand me?"
"Bella—" His voice stopped, as did the two sets of feet. I lifted my gun higher, aiming for the center of the door. My grip tightened as we waited.
Knock knock knockknock knock…Shave and a haircut. How original…
I exhaled loudly and lowered my gun. Edward tensed behind me, so I reached back and patted his leg gently before I opened my mouth.
"Two bits." My voice was just a bit more than a melodic murmur, but I knew they could hear me on the other side of the door because they couldn't contain the light giggles as the door opened.
"We thought you'd enjoy that, Bells," Kate said as she crossed over to us and sat down on the other side of the table, a small smile gracing her lips.
I shook my head. "Yeah, well, you two nearly gave me a heart attack. I was ready to shoot you and throw Edward behind the couch or something."
Irina laughed as she pulled up a cushion next to Kate. "You know, I wish I could tell you to relax, but you'd probably just want to put a bullet in my head. You're so uptight sometimes, Bella."
"Yeah, I know, but—"
"It's part of the job. We know," they answered. I shook my head at them before moving to sit down beside Edward.
Before I could say anything, however, Kate decided to speak again. "But seriously, Bells, you should take a break after this case. Go disappear for a bit; unwind."
"Yeah," Irina agreed. "Lord knows you need to get laid." Kate cracked up laughing beside her as they both let out loud peals of laughter.
Now, being a secret agent, one would think I would never be embarrassed by anything. Yet, I could feel my face flush, the heat reaching all the way up to my hairline and down to my toes. I leaned forward and buried my face in my hands, groaning loudly.
"Before, I didn't want to put a bullet through your skull. Now, I'm starting to reconsider." As if my mortification wasn't bad enough, they had said all of that in front of Edward. Edward, who was, essentially, my job. Edward, who was unequivocally gorgeous, yet unobtainable. Edward, who was now shaking with silent laughter beside me. In all honesty, I would rather have taken another bullet wound in the leg. I just didn't do well with suggestive humor directed at me.
"Alright, that's enough," I said, looking up at the two of them. They were wearing identical Cheshire cat grins.
Kate stuck out her lip. "Aw, c'mon, Bella. We were just trying to help. You really might feel better if you would just let someone pet your kitty."
Of course, Tweedledum had to add her two cents. Or quarter. However one would choose to look at it. "Yeah. I'm sure you can find a guy who'd be more than happy to become acquainted with the lips between your hips."
"Get his stuff in your muff."
"Insert pole 'P' into slot 'V'."
"I'm sure there's a pooh bear who wants to get into your honey pot."
"Okay!" I half-yelled as I slammed my hands down on the table. "Can we please stop talking about this?"
Kate and Irina looked at each other. "We?" Kate said, smiling. "I didn't know you wanted in on this, Bells. Pray tell us. We're dying to know what you lovingly call your puss—"
"Oh, for the love of God. Please stop talking about my vagina." I wasn't sure they even heard me considering Thing 1 and Thing 2 couldn't prevent the cackling that erupted from them. Horrified and embarrassed beyond belief, I grabbed my gun and headed out the door, slamming it shut behind me. Trudging down the stairs, I made my way through the front and out onto the broken steps in the front of the building.
It wasn't abnormal for the women to make fun of my love life. Or lack thereof. Still, I was in the middle of a case, we all were in a serious state of danger, and they still had the gall to do that. And in front of Edward Cullen, the man I was assigned to protect and bring home safely. Now, I didn't even want to face him.
And yet, I was the unluckiest person on the face of the Earth.
I heard footsteps behind me, so I tensed, my hand resting on my gun just in case. But I knew I had nothing to worry about. The slight hiss of pain followed by the slow footsteps told me exactly who it was. Regardless of whether or not I wanted to see anyone, I would prefer the lesser of the three evils.
Edward slowly sank onto the step next to me, giving nothing more than a little grunt of pain before we lapsed once more into silence. It wasn't long before he sighed lightly and reached out to me. His large hand rested lightly on my knee before he gave it a gentle squeeze. I looked over at him to find him staring at me. His head was turned slightly to the side, his emerald eyes looking into mine, the skin between his brows puckered.
"Are you alright, Bella?"
I let out a humorless chuckle. "Let's see. My co-workers decide I need to have sex in order to lighten up, they come up with crude names for my female anatomy, use crude names in order to prove their point about me needing to have sex, and do all of that in front of the man I have been assigned to rescue and protect while in the middle of an incredibly dangerous situation. I think that sums up my mortification quite nicely, don't you think?"
I turned away from his face and looked up at the sky. He gave a small laugh while I counted the stars. His fingers brushed my kneecap lightly causing me to look back at him. "So, I take that as a 'no'?"
My lips stretched into a small smile. "Well, it's definitely not going to make my lists of Top Ten Favorite Conversations or Nights, that's for sure."
He laughed once more, and I couldn't help but join him. When we quieted, he spoke. "If it makes you feel any better, I probably know what you're going through."
"I doubt that."
He smiled. "Bella, I think you're forgetting who I'm related to."
I looked at him curiously. "No, I haven't. Emmett Cullen and Alice Whitlock. Trust me, I've done my homework."
"That's not what I mean. I grew up with siblings. It's in our DNA to torment and embarrass the shit out of each other."
I shook my head. "You can't tell me that your siblings are like Tweedledee and Tweedledum up there. Your sister is one of the world's newest up-and-coming fashion designers. Last I checked, Michael Kors and Diane von Furstenberg don't partake in that kind of conversation. And your brother Emmett is the best prosecuting attorney in Boston. I've yet to meet a lawyer with a sense of humor."
"Well, you obviously haven't met my brother," Edward said.
"Actually, I have."
He turned to look at me. "When?"
I sighed. "I met him, and your father, mother, and sister, when I went to Forks. I flew out there to gain information about you and set up the matter of payment. Which reminds me, you need to do something for me when we get back."
"After everything you've done for me, anything."
"Tell your father not to complain when he finds out 7 million dollars have magically reappeared in his bank account. And that he's not allowed to try to put it back in mine."
Edward's eyes widened slightly before narrowing again. "That's how much they're paying you?"
Shifting uncomfortably, I answered, "No, they were, uh, going to pay me 9 million. We only wrote the contract for 1.5 initially."
"Well shit," Edward said, looking away before looking back to me, "I would have paid you a whole hell of a lot more than just 9 million."
I groaned. "Not you, too?"
He laughed. "Alright. I won't fight you on it. Although I still think you deserve more. And I will tell my father."
"But, my father has many, many connections. He has ways of returning it," he said as he rested his head in his palm.
"That may be true, but I, too, have ways. And they don't always involve beating the shit out of someone or using a gun," I countered.
Edward just chuckled lightly and shook his head. "Yeah, although if you really got to know my brother, the Emmett I know, you probably would need to beat the shit out of him and use a gun just to get the torture to end."
"He can't be that bad. He was very professional when I spoke with him."
"Of course he was. He was doing business at the time, the way you described it," he said softly. He glanced down at the ground.
"Edward, he wasn't 'doing business.' He was trying to get his brother back, and money is a part of that. He was only doing what he could, and that meant taking some of the burden off of your father's shoulders." I gently reached up and slipped my hand onto his arm and giving it a gentle squeeze. "You miss him, don't you?"
Edward looked up at me, his eyes far away. "Yeah, I do. I miss all of them."
For some reason, it pained me to see him hurting. It felt weird, like I shouldn't want to do anything about it, but I did. In fact, I was pretty sure it went against some rule. We weren't supposed to care about or develop any sort of feelings toward people involved in our cases, but I already had.
I slid closer to him and wrapped my arm around him, my hand curling around his bicep as I rested my head lightly on his shoulder. "Tell me about them."
Looking up out of the corner of my eye, I could see him turn his head to look down at me. He looked confused at first, but then gave me a small grin. "I don't even know where to begin."
I gave his arm a squeeze. "Well, I told you about my family. Don't you think it's only fair you do the same?"
"Yeah, I suppose," he nodded.
"Tell me about your mom and dad," I offered. "Your dad seemed like a very nice man when I met him, although the circumstance wasn't exactly pleasant."
He laughed. "You've got that right. Well, even though I'm sure you already know everything about my family, I'll just repeat it."
"Hey, you don't know that," I said, nudging him lightly as not to hurt him.
He smirked at me. "I thought you said it was your job to know everything? Or was that just a bunch of bullshit?"
I rolled my eyes. "Shut up. Are you going to tell me, or what?"
"Alright. Fine," he said with a smile, patting my hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. "Well, my father Carlisle is considered to be one of the best surgeons in the world. He has perfected the art of performing surgery through a computer to operate on someone in another country. Robotics and whatnot. I don't really get it. But I do know he's saved hundreds of thousands of lives through his research. Now, he lives in Forks with my mother. He's the Chief of Surgery at the hospital there."
I laughed. "Okay, I did know all of that, so you did repeat everything. Can you tell me anything about him that most people wouldn't know?"
"I told you," he said, elbowing me in the ribs. "He'll kill me if he finds out I told you, but he loves chick flicks."
I laughed loudly. "Are you kidding me?"
He smiled. "No, I'm completely serious. Pretty Woman, Legally Blonde, Miss Congeniality, you name it. Pretty Woman is his favorite, but he has a 'thing' for Sandra Bullock."
"Yeah, well, who wouldn't?"
My eyes widened a bit as I realized I had, in fact, said that last bit out loud. I peeked up at Edward to find him looking at me with a look of confusion but a smirk threatening to take over his face. "Oh really?"
Lifting my head up, I nodded. "Well, duh. Come on, a) she's hot, and b) she's hilarious. You can't tell me you don't think that. I'm comfortable enough with my sexuality to say that. Besides, you can't tell me that you don't think there is one male actor out there that you find attractive."
He paused before nodding slightly. "Well, you're right with the Sandra Bullock thing. She is hot, and absolutely hilarious. But, are you asking if there was a celebrity I'd go gay for? Because I have nothing against gay people, actually I think one of my colleagues is gay, but I am definitely heterosexual."
I couldn't help but laugh, and laugh hard. He looked a bit disgruntled, so I dialed it down until I was only giggling slightly before shaking my head.
"No, I didn't mean you'd have to go gay for him. I just wanted to know if you found a celebrity attractive."
"Well, I guess Gerard Butler. He kicked some serious ass in 300. He was also really funny in The Ugly Truth. I love both of those movies."
I nodded along with him. "I'm definitely going to have to agree with you on that."
We had gotten way off topic, but before I could say anything, he started up again. "I guess going to back to our previous conversation, that's a little about my dad. I suppose my mom is next.
"My mom is, well, she's probably one of the kindest, most generous people on the planet. Yeah, you're thinking I'm biased, but everyone who's met her has said that, and much more, about her. She was an interior decorator, but she quit after she had Alice. She wanted to spend more time with us. But after that, she got really involved with volunteer work. She got all of us into it, too. I can't say it was what I wanted to do work every weekend, but I was 14. I thought I had better things to do, you know?" I nodded.
"Anyway, she used to spend a lot of her time at women's shelters and food pantries. That's where I spent most of my Sunday evenings up until I was 18 and had to leave for college."
"Wow. Your parents made you do that for five years?" I always knew my parents wanted me to do something like that, but I never would have imagined anyone's parents making them go that long. I was surprised when he shook his head and smiled.
"No, the last time she had to remind me about it was the week after my sixteenth birthday. I was just excited about my new car so it almost slipped my mind. Other than that, I never missed a Sunday. I still don't."
Now I was in awe. "You still do it?"
"Yup," he answered proudly. "Although, my perfect record seems to have shot down the tube with this whole kidnapping debacle."
"You know, I don't think they'd fault you because you missed a few days. I think being beaten, whipped, and almost starved gives you a reprieve." He chuckled and smiled softly.
"Thanks, Bella," he said, giving my hand another squeeze. "And thanks for listening. Talking about my family makes it a little bit easier. It doesn't hurt to miss them as much."
"It's nothing. Besides, I'm just waiting for you to tell me about your siblings and the supposed torment from them. I still don't believe you."
He only laughed. "When I tell you some of the things they've done, you still won't."
"Try me. One thing they've done."
"Alright. When I was a sophomore in college, somehow we all ended up in the same res hall. Emmett was a year above me, Alice a year below. Anyway, I ended up in some really tough classes that required me to spend all my free time studying, so I didn't get to see them or any of my friends, and I was irritable all the time. They kept telling me I needed to blow off some steam."
"In other words, have sex, right?" I asked wryly.
"Well, that doesn't sound too bad. That's still nothing compared to what my colleagues just did to me."
He laughed. "No, but putting up posters in every res hall with my picture, name, phone number, room number and some slogan referencing my penis is. And I don't mean just one slogan. They spent an entire night coming up with over 40 different ones. I lost count of the number of girls who would show up at my room at all hours of the night. Lost count of the number of guys too. God, it was mortifying."
I was lucky I was holding onto Edward for support, or else I would have been rolling on the ground with how hard I was laughing. He scowled at me before shaking his head and allowing a few chuckles to escape.
"So, now do you understand what I meant when I said 'I know what it's like'?"
I nodded, trying to keep my giggling under control. Taking a breath to get myself under control, I smiled up at him. "Okay, so you do know what it's like. I'm sorry I doubted you. I just couldn't see your brother and sister doing something like that."
"It's alright. Looking back on it, it was rather funny. And I have to give them credit. They were pretty creative," he said with a small chuckle.
A loud creak sounded behind us, so I turned around to see which goon had decided to come down. "Hey, Whisker Biscuit," Kate called out, highlighting it with another one of her 'clever terms,' "we need to fill him in on what's going down and how we're going to get him back to the States."
I nodded and stood as she turned and retreated back inside. Holding my hand out, I felt Edward's slip into it. Together, we gently hauled him to his feet with only minimal pain. We headed toward the door when I noticed Edward had stopped walking. I turned around to find him staring at the ground looking slightly dejected.
"Edward, what's wrong?" I asked, stopping in front of him.
"I guess the fun part's over, right?" he sighed. "You know, it was just nice to talk to someone who didn't care if I was a Cullen. Who only talked to me because they knew how much money my family had. I know it's your job to get me back to my family, but you didn't have to ask me about them. You didn't have to listen. You just did it anyway."
Before I could say anything, he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around me. His scent swirled around me, permeating the air. The heat from his body warmed my skin, a tingling feeling spreading throughout my entire body. I wanted that feeling to last for forever, but it was wrong. I eased myself away from him and his gentle embrace before putting on a strained smile.
Taking his hand in mine, I started tugging him toward the stairs. His thumb brushed against my knuckles, so I turned to look at him. A crooked smile graced his handsome feature, and I couldn't help but quirk my lips up a bit. Giving his hand another tug, we began our ascent up the stairs.
"Come on. Let's get you home," I said, my smile fading as our feet hit the stairs.
A/N: Okay, so I hope that was all right. It wasn't at all where I planned on taking this chapter, but the words just kept coming, and I couldn't help it. Plus, you all got to see some more Bella/Edward interaction, and I tried to throw some comedy in there.
As always, please review. It makes my day. Seriously, I love each and every one of them.
Love you all.