A/N: Why haven't I updated in forever? Answer: College. The end. I'm sorry, y'all. :/ I fail miserably as a reliable updater but I'm trying! I am! I have good plans for this story! and thankfully I have highly persistent friends and fans who kick my ass about writing. Thank you so much for the support. I've read a few reviews for this chapter before I added this note, and I am ASTOUNDED at the reaction. Honestly, you all rock my socks in flip flops *huggles*
1) My NM review can be found on my LiveJournal - imprintee718(dot)livejournal(dot)com
2) The song Edward plays loudly in his car is "Breaking the Law" by Judas Priest. Let's call it (Hitward's Theme) for now. :)
3) Disclaimer: Twilight and all of it's characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. I just kidnap them for four months and have them do nothing. Then I put them into action
I stared dubiously at the open door of the Volvo. Ever since I was a child, I've been told never to get into a car with strangers; it was one of the first lessons Charlie taught me. He never told me what to do if the stranger was highly attractive and had a gorgeous smile.
"Bella, you're coming with me whether you like it or not." Edward said this as if it were an absolute fact. I inwardly smiled at his determination. He's not that much of a stranger…more of an acquaintance. I knew I was making lame ass excuses, but I really wanted to go, despite the nagging, logical side that told me I was probably going to regret missing class as soon as I sat down for my finals. Besides, Edward seemed to really want to help me. He unconsciously ran his fingers through his coppery hair.
I gave an exaggeratedly defeated sigh. "Fiiiine." He smirked in satisfaction. I made sure the tow truck driver had everything under control with my car before climbing into the Volvo. He moved a few manila folders filled with papers and an expensive looking laptop into the backseat.
"Sorry for the mess," he said sheepishly. "I kinda have been working out of here lately." I assured him it was not a big deal. I stowed my school bag and purse at my feet. My seatbelt had barely clicked into place when Edward stepped on the gas and the car shot forward. I swear I felt my stomach flatten against my spine. I yelped out in surprise, my pulse climbing as Edward sped through the traffic lights, weaving in and out between other cars who blasted their horns after us. He held a button on the steering wheel and a fast paced guitar rift blasted through the speakers
There I was completely wasting, out of work and down
All inside it's so frustrating as I drift from town to town
"Edward! For God's sake, slow down!" I yelled as loudly as I could over the music to no avail. He was bobbing his head along, completely oblivious to me.
Feel as though nobody cares if I live or die
So I might as well begin to put some action in my life
I saw the light up ahead of us turn yellow and Edward, impossibly pushed the car to go faster. I glanced at the speedometer and blanched as the needle hovered around 65.
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Edward made it past the light but the next block was already at red. A moving van was already there waiting patiently. "Edward…" I heard my voice crack. My hands gripped the edge of the seat, braced for the impact that would surely come. I felt my body lurch forward as he stepped on the breaks. The back of the truck loomed ever closer but the Volvo stopped with a jolt, mere inches away from the van's bumper.
I was trembling like a leaf and stared at Edward who was leaning back in his seat with one hand held casually on top of the wheel, the picture of relaxation.
"Are. You. INSANE!? Do you always drive like that?"
"Of course I do, Bella," he said without even a smidgen of sarcasm. "You should know."
I was momentarily puzzled until I remembered he was referencing my assessment of him over the Silver Bullet he ordered the other day. I had said he liked driving fast. "I didn't think you drove like a maniac on a busy commercial street! You're ridiculously lucky that a cop didn't stop and arrest you!" I exhaled sharply, relieved that my heart rate was slowing down.
"Relax, Bella. You're alive, aren't you?" He said this in a such a cavalier way that I felt the muscles in my cheeks twitch as they tried to keep my lips from smiling.
"Barely," I quipped stubbornly with a half frown on my face.
His lopsided grin appeared and I completely forgot how annoyed I was with him. "Don't worry. You're perfectly safe with me."
Guilt suddenly flooded through me. Edward didn't have to do this for me at all and I couldn't even be grateful? How much of an ass could I be? The light turned green, and Edward cruised down the street at a speed more appropriate for a large metropolitan area, occasionally going just above the speed limit.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled into my seatbelt.
Edward shook his head, "Don't be. I shouldn't have been driving so fast with you in the car."
"No, that doesn't matter. I should be thanking you. Here you are helping me when you're probably so busy working."
He chuckled and rolled his eyes. "It's no problem, Bella. Honestly, I'm glad I bumped into you again." I blushed and gave an embarrassed giggle. God, the charm that just oozed out of him. And it was effortless too. Not like he was trying to be flirtatious or anything. It felt sincere.
We pulled into the parking lot besides a large Starbucks. I retrieved my purse and tucked it into the crook of my elbow as I got out of the car. Edward walked around to my side just as I had pushed the door closed. I had walked about a step and a half when a sharp tug pulled on my left foot. I hopped on my right leg, arms flailing in wide circles in a poor attempt to keep my balance. Why do I even bother? Just as I was falling forward, a pair of hands gripped my shoulders tightly and propped me up. Completely mortified, I looked up at Edward's handsome face, smiling sweetly at me.
"Had a nice trip?" he asked innocently.
I scowled. "Ha, ha. Cute." I whipped my head around and saw my shoelace was stuck in the car door. Edward's laughter rang out and felt even more humiliated. He opened the door and the taut shoelace sprang out. I quickly bent over to tie it, hoping my face would cool off a bit. Straightening up, I mumbled my thanks. He nodded once in return as we walked towards the Starbucks entrance.
"Have you always been so clumsy?" he asked as he held the door open for me. The sweet aroma of milk, coffee, and lemon cake blew into my face. I was a little put off by the way he asked the question. This was the only time he had ever seen me be clumsy. Maybe he meant to word it differently or he recalled how I told him I made terrible waitress.
"Unfortunately, yes." I answered as we got in line and began scanning the menu behind the counter. "I fall, stumble, bump into things, drop them, break them, you name it."
"As long as you're near me, you are in a constant state of danger." I sighed half jokingly.
Edward looked sideways at me, "Oh, I doubt that."
The cheery barista greeted us and asked for our orders. I wanted a Strawberries & Crème frappachino; Edward got a regular black coffee with two sugars. She rang us up and the total was $8.50. I reached into my overlarge purse and pulled out my wallet. No sooner had I undone the clasp was it snatched from my hand. "Hey!" I whined at Edward who was studying my wretched driver's license photo. He closed it and put back inside my bag.
"I got this," he said in a hushed voice. I opened my mouth to protest but he was already forking over the cash. I didn't like being doted on, especially when Edward was already taking time out of his way for me. The least I could do was treat.
"You should've let me pay," I told him as we made our way to the pick up counter to wait for our drinks. His simple coffee arrived almost immediately.
"Oh please, Bella," Edward took a large gulp from the white and green cup. "I invited you. What kind of gentleman would I be if I let you pay?" My mouth pressed into a thin line. I was annoyed because he had a point and I didn't want to be outsmarted.
I rolled my eyes and scoffed, "You're being unnecessarily nice to me."
He flashed his wide grin at me, "I'm not that nice."
"Sure you are," I assured him as my drink was set down in front of me. "You're like a…a knight in a shiny silver Volvo." Edward snickered at the snooty British accent. I sipped on the delicious pink beverage as we made our way to a tiny round table by the front window.
"I really appreciate this, Edward." Damn it. I felt my ears begin to burn. I wasn't really good at being upfront with my feelings - something I inherited from Charlie.
I've already told you Bella. It's fine. So…" He took another gulp of coffee, "..can you tell anything about a person from what they get at Starbucks?"
I snorted and immediately realized how impolite that was and gave a quiet apology. Edward just waved his hand nonchalantly. "Er, no…I mean, I'm good at telling when it's alcohol because I make the drinks and know what exactly goes into them. Coffee's too complicated. Especially with milk. Whole, Skim, Soy, Half & Half, and don't get me started on the percentages."
Edward chuckled, "I see your point." We quietly continued drinking. It was a comfortable silence but I decided to break it before it got awkward.
"So how long are here for?"
He pouted his lips as he swallowed, "Probably tonight. Depending on how well things go."
I swirled the green straw, covering it with whipped cream. "To be honest, I've never heard of a traveling accountant."
Edward's bottle green eyes looked directly at me; his gaze was cool and appraising. It was both extremely sexy yet oddly chilling. "To be honest, Bella, I'm not exactly an accountant."
My head curiously tilted to the side, "But you said-"
"You assumed I was an accountant. I said that I settle debts." I frowned and ran my fingers ran through my hair. I thought about the night Edward was in the bar. He plucked up conversation and seemed to be interested in me. He denied being a police man and vowed not to rat me out about my lack of a license….he settled debts…collected payment…
"Do you work for the IRS?" I was suddenly very nervous, but I knew I had nothing to hide. "I can show you all my tax records for the past five years. I've paid them all!"
Edward laughed and looked away in disbelief. He closed his eyes and shook his head, a smirk plastered all over his face. "Bella, you've got this all wrong. I'm not from the IRS so you don't have to worry about being audited. I'm not here for that sort of thing."
I huffed in relief and placed my hand over my chest, "You almost got me there." Laughing at my own silliness, I asked, "So what kind of debts do you settle, then?"
Without any hesitation or a hint of irony, he said, "Blood debts."
I wasn't going to fall for it this time. "Blooood debts?" I imbued my voice with the spookiest voice I could. "Do you work for the mob or something?" As Edward took another drink from his cup, he looked at me through his long dark lashes.
"No. I'm involved with something much bigger, more intricate than the mafia."
"Oooh, I see," I tapped my chin thoughtfully, buying into Edward's little game. "Are you like a super secret agent for the government? A James Bond type sent on secret missions to save the world from global annihilation?" I suddenly imagined him in a dapper suit and bow tie drinking one of my vodka martinis…shaken, of course.
His already large smirk somehow grew larger, "If I told you I secretly worked for the government, I'd have to kill you."
I was midway through another sip of my Strawberry & Crème frap and I felt my throat tighten up as I choked with laughter. I couldn't be sure but I thought I saw Edward roll his eyes. Coughing a bit to ease myself down from the giggle-high, I asked him in between breaths, "Okay, in all seriousness-what business are you in?"
He took one final swig of his coffee before looking back at me. He raised his chin, looking haughtier than I'd ever seen him. "Here in Seattle, Bella, you are my business."
I was a bit shocked by Edward's statement. It was probably the oddest thing anyone had ever said to me. Of course, I couldn't admit that. "That's….uh…sorta sweet…" It kinda was…in a creepy sort of way. "But why don't you just tell me what you do?"
"I already have." My forehead furrowed in confusion. "I've been nothing but honest with you Bella. You are the reason I'm here."
Edward's face was completely serious but I waited quietly for him to show out "Kidding!"….but he didn't. I shifted in my seat, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable.
"Um…okay, Edward, this isn't funny anymore."
"I'm not joking." The sudden harshness in his voice took me aback. Even more so when he immediately smiled. But it wasn't the same as before. There was something terrible in it. He dropped his voice low so that only I could hear. "I know everything there is to know about you, Bella Swan. From your Social Security to your shoe size. I know you moved from Arizona to Washington when you were in high school; I know you own a $300 Louis Vuitton bag; you have an Imperial Russia Literature class every Monday & Wednesday; I knew you never had a bartending license."
I heard every word he said but I couldn't believe it. A rather hysterical laugh left my mouth. "Am I on TV? Is this a prank?" Of course it was. It was the only radical explanation I could come up with. "Did Jessica and Angela put you up to this?" I craned my neck trying to see if they were tucked away in a corner somewhere. I squinted my eyes at the ceiling trying to find the camera that was surely watching the whole exchange. All I saw were other customers absorbed in their laptops or chatting away with friends, completely oblivious.
"Bella, your father is going to die."
My head automatically snapped back to Edward who looked as solemn and stoic as a statue. I heard his voice say it, but it couldn't have been real. "Did you say something?" I asked.
He leaned in closer to me, so close I could smell the coffee on his breath. "I said that your father is going to die…unless you do exactly as I say."
It was undeniable that he said it now. His lips formed the words that I hoped I had only imagined. The brightness inside the Starbucks was suddenly very muted as the rare rays of filtering sunlight were blocked by clouds. It felt like an eternity had passed when I finally understood and processed what had been said. I made myself talk but it sounded as if I were distant from my body. "What did you do with Charlie?"
Edward gave a heavy sigh, almost as if he'd been holding his breath, "Nothing. He's at home, safe and sound." He paused and pinched the bridge of his nose, a frustrated crease in the middle of his forehead. He was muttering under his breath. I caught a few snatches of what sounded like "Fuck…God…what am I….can't…this isn't…got to…"
I couldn't take this anymore. Today had taken a weird and disturbing turn of events. All I knew was I wanted to put as much distance between myself and Edward, who was clearly psychotic.
Slowly edging my chair away from the table while reaching my hand around to grip the handles of my purse, I stood up as quickly as I could and briskly walked toward the exit. I broke into a run down the street, stumbling a few times, but thankfully not falling. I ran around the next corner, illegally crossed the street and jogged a few more blocks until I got to the park. I walked slowly down the winding bike lane to catch my breath as cars drove past me.
I tried to wrap my head around what just happened. Clearly, this man had intimate knowledge of me…and Charlie too. It sounded to me like he had made a threat against his life. Buy why? Part of me still wanted to believe it was a joke, but there was something terribly real about the way Edward said everything. I remembered that I had left my school bag in his car. Ugh there goes $150 down the drain. I had to call Jessica or Angela…but first Charlie to see if he was really okay because I wasn't taking any chances.
I reached my hand into my purse, feeling along the bottom through my wallet, keys, old receipts, and gum wrappers to find no phone. Peering inside to hopefully see it, I searched again, this time opening all the zippers and checking the outside pocket. I know for certain I hadn't left it in my school bag. I patted down all of my pockets, even going so far as to check my boobs. Maybe I let it fall while I was running. I resolved to retrace my steps in hopes of finding it. The chances that it would still be there completely unharmed were slim but it was worth the try.
I spent the next 15 minutes scanning the sidewalk and street for my cell phone or at least parts of it. Then I was back at the Starbucks. What if I left it inside? I felt uneasy, wondering if Crazy Ass Edward was still in there. I figured that even he had enough sense to not stay when I blatantly left. Squaring my shoulders, I turned the corner onto the street where the Starbucks was only to immediately freeze in my tracks.
Crazy Ass Edward was there all right, his car parked a few feet away from the corner. He was leaning on the hood, pressing buttons on a phone that was most definitely mine. Fury shook through my body. The nerve…the gall that this jerk had! I don't know what his problem was but I was going to get to the bottom of it. He flipped my phone closed as I angrily stomped up to him. His charming little smile that made me blush and giggle more than an hour ago now made me red with indignation. I wanted to smack it right off his smug little face.
"Looking for this?" He held it between his thumb and forefinger and waved it in front of me. Like a child wanting a toy, I tried to quickly snatch it from his hand but he held it out of my reach.
I breathed deeply through my nose to try and keep my anger under control. "I don't know what kind of game you're playing at, but I would appreciate it if you would please give me back my phone."
"You should be more guarded with your stuff. Who lets a stranger reach into their purse?" he said with a cold sneer. The dirty little pickpocket! I felt embarrassed now, unbelieving that I let his stupid charm get the better of me.
"Give. Me. My. Phone." I enunciated each word precisely with as much venom in my voice as possible. Hopefully the message got across. Edward reached again into his pocket and pulled out my outdated cell phone.
"Is this what you want?" He waved it mockingly in front of me again. I balled my hands into fists at my sides, trying not to snatch it from him again.
Without warning, Edward threw my phone to the pavement and it smashed apart into two halves. I automatically screamed and my hands flew to cover my gaping mouth. For good measure, he stepped on it and twisted his foot as if he were killing a cockroach. "You're not going to need that anymore."
Another scream erupted from my mouth and this time my open hand swung back to slap him as hard as I could. I was centimeters away from meeting his face when his large, strong hand gripped my wrist so tightly I thought my veins would pop. He pressed himself close to me; he still smelled like coffee. I felt something cold pressing through my clothes onto my stomach. I gasped out loud and was about to yell again when Edward's chilling breath in my ear interrupted me.
"Stop it! Don't make this difficult, Bella. Get in the car or I will throw you in there."
I didn't want to move. Hell, I couldn't move. I looked down at the small space between us and, sure enough, there was a very real looking gun in Edward's hand pointed at me, cleverly hidden by his jacket. I swayed as a wave of dizziness overtook me. I felt Edward grip my upper arm; it was painful, not like when he helped me from falling earlier. I was led to a blurry silver door that obviously was the Volvo, and pushed roughly inside.
I heard a door slam and the engine start. My heart was pounding so hard it shook my entire body. I tried my best to fight against my mind that was so frightened that it begged for unconsciousness. No, I internally scolded, we must stay awake. Of course, my mind being as stubborn as it is, refused to listen.
I felt so warm. With my eyes still closed, I snuggled the large comforter closer to my body. Gosh, what a terrible nightmare. I could've sworn it was real….
My hand blindly reached towards the bedside table where I kept my phone every night. My fingers grazed over something smooth and cool. I opened my eyes and realized I wasn't home at all. The room was completely unfamiliar to me and my hand was touching Edward's silver gun. My hand flew back as if it was shocked and I gave a loud, fearful screech. A door from the short corridor to my left opened, and Edward strolled inside in all his despicable glory. I scrambled as quickly as I could out of bed which was a bad idea because I fell spectacularly on my back. Ignoring the pain, I pulled myself up and pressed up against the wall, as far away from Edward as possible. He was still at the door, leaning against it, appearing totally calm and relaxed with his arms crossed. Meanwhile, my whole world was collapsing around me.
"Looks like my little plan went as well as I had hoped." His smile was so arrogant, I wanted to rip it right off his face.
"Why am I here? What you have you done with me?" I quickly checked my body. My clothes were still on except for my coat and shoes. I appeared to be relatively unharmed except for bluish bruises that were developing on my wrists.
Edward walked into the room and bent over to open a tiny refrigerator. A mini-bar. So we were in a hotel room. I suddenly felt sick. What if he had done something to me? He straightened up and held a bottle of Orangina in one hand and two glasses in another. He poured some of the yellow contents into each glass.
"Nothing. I don't want a thing from you, Bella. Other than complacency and silence." He approached me with one drink held out. I was shaking so badly it felt like I was convulsing.
"Don't come near me!" I shouted and he stopped in his tracks. "What did do you do to my father?" I snapped at him.
Edward downed his drink while still holding mine, waiting for me to take it. "Your dad is blissfully unaware of anything for now. You're going to be a bargaining chip. If he meets our demands, he won't be killed and you'll be returned to him safe and sound." Edward gave me a hard stare as he still stood there with the other Orangina. He looked like he was getting annoyed. Still trembling, I took the glass from his hands but didn't drink.
"Charlie's just a small town cop…he doesn't have a lot of money to give." Edward gave a toothy grin that was almost goofy looking. "What?"
"It's not just about money, Bella. There are actual demands he needs to meet."
A terrible thought crept into my brain. "And what if Charlie refuses?"
The smile was gone so fast from his face it was like it was never there. "Then you're both fucked." The impassiveness in his voice chilled me to the bone. I felt my eyes well up with tears. Me and Charlie were in danger because of him, and he didn't even care. I couldn't stop from crying.
"So what happens now?" I stepped away from against the wall and walked past Edward towards the bathroom as I tried to ignore the churning pangs in my belly and the wetness on my cheeks.
Edward casually shrugged and scratched his head as if I had asked him what movie he wanted to rent. "I make a few phone calls and wait for my orders on what to do."
Without thinking, without feeling, I threw the Orangina into Edward's face and ran towards the door. I didn't have to time to see him reel back in surprise. I just wanted to get out of there. I had one foot out the door and for a split second I triumphantly thought I would escape -- but I felt a strong tug on the back of my shirt, the collar suffocating my throat. The door slammed shut and my face was pushed painfully against it. I heard Edward's deep, rapid breathing as if he was trying to calm himself. What felt like his forearm pressed hard into the back of my neck. It made me cry out in pain. The tears came back but this time I was sobbing and pleading.
"Please! Just let me go! I haven't done anything wrong!" My cries were apparently too loud for Edward's taste. His large hand clamped over my mouth and he turned me around roughly to face him. The Orangina was dripping from his hair and the tip of his nose. His eyes were absolutely furious, a poisonous toxic green. His lips were curled as he spoke.
"Listen to me, Isabella. If you keep pulling shit like that, I'm going to make this extremely difficult for you, understand?" He jabbed his finger pointedly in my chest. "You're nothing but a fucking low profile job to me so you're going to have to do this my way." He pushed away roughly and walked right into the adjacent bathroom and began washing his face. I slowly sank down towards the floor, knotting my fingers in my hair and consumed with terror. Sobbing into my knees, I wanted nothing more at that moment to feel Charlie's arms around me, hugging me, protecting me.
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