Author's Note: Here's the second installment, if you haven't read the first one you might want to, there are spoilers from it in this story.
What you need to know: The gang has a show where they investigate supposedly haunted locales. Alice has visions of the past and seems to also be something of an intuitive, while Edward's abilities as a medium appear to be growing, or he's just losing his mind. This one shot takes place three weeks after Roslyn House. Enjoy :)
"Welcome to the hotel California
Such a lovely place"
The sound of his cries echoed across the tiled lobby. He slammed his hands against the front doors over and over, but nobody came. The noise only bounced off the walls, reminding him that there was no one else there, no one human anyway. Still, he screamed.
"Let me out, let me out now."
Despite his domineering tone, he fell to his knees, his fists still pounding. He demanded, and when that didn't work, he threatened and cursed and finally, he begged. "I don't like this anymore."
"Please," he hit his fist against the door half heartedly, one last time. "Please let me go."
In the shadows, someone laughed.
In the nearly three weeks that had passed since Edward first asked Bella out, not much had changed except that now they held hands. Granted, their schedules got in the way, but still, three weeks without a single kiss was driving Bella to distraction. She thought about his mouth a lot and how he had nice lips and lots of other things that she'd never noticed during the period where her affection was just a crush.
When he asked her on an official date, Bella was floored. Actually, she thought he was kidding, or talking to a woman behind her. When that proved to be untrue, she thought he was asking because of what happened to them in Washington. Having a near death experience can really change a person's outlook on life. She thought perhaps he felt bad that she'd nearly been possessed by…something. But that wasn't true either. He just liked her.
So she said yes and they went out and it was perfect. Except the part at the end when he only kissed her on the cheek.
After that, schedules got in the way, and they'd only been out alone on one other date since then. She was trying to find the right words to describe her frustration to Alice when the rest of the group joined them at the little coffee place/meeting spot.
"Where's Emmett?" Bella asked, her nerves going up a notch. This get together was his idea. He called them all early that morning, only saying that he had the perfect place to shoot the next episode. They all jumped at it, needing to get one more episode ready for the tail end of sweeps week. However, since it was Emmett's baby, he'd done all the preliminary research, leaving Bella with nothing to do but show up. She was hoping he would hand off the more in depth investigation to her once the group voted on everything, as the historical researcher for the show it was kind of her thing.
"He's measuring out quarters for the meter," Edward answered, sitting next to Bella. She could feel the length of his thigh against hers, definitely distracting. "He might be a while." Emmett liked to get the quarters to time ratio exactly right.
"Hmm," was all Bella said in response, thinking instead about how his arm had stretched out over the back of the couch as he was talking. She leaned a little closer and when she looked up, Alice was grinning at her from her spot on Jasper's lap.
Rosalie came back from the pick-up counter with some kind of iced fruit tea drink that looked really sweet.
"I think I need one of those, Bella?" Alice asked, getting up.
Bella knew what to expect if she got up, so instead she said, "No thanks, I'm fine." It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to her friend about the lack on goings on between herself and Edward; she just didn't want to do it while he was in the same room.
Alice scrunched her nose at her and went to order.
Actually, Bella was quite thirsty. There was a heat wave passing through southern California at the moment and it was stifling. Add to it the Santa Ana winds and it was almost impossible to be outside. The weather man was predicting shorts and tank tops as de rigueur for Thanksgiving dinner.
Emmett came in just as Alice was sitting back down, his arms full of computer print-outs and handwritten notes. He dumped it all unceremoniously on the table in front of them. "Here it is," he said proudly.
"Here what is?" Jasper asked, taking a sip from Alice's cup. He made a face from the sweetness.
"Our next show, okay it's a mess, but all the research is here." He searched through a stack of papers until he found one single sheet. It had a large picture on the front. He passed it to Rosalie first.
"The Hotel St. James?" She asked.
"Where have I heard that name?" Alice asked, taking the picture next.
"Someone was killed there last month…I don't know about this." Edward leaned forward, his elbows on his knees.
"He died of a heart attack, nothing to worry about."
"Maybe he was scared to death," Alice teased.
Edward rolled his eyes.
"This is exactly what we need for sweeps. The place is still news and besides, it's a resort…was a resort."
Alice, Jasper, and Rosalie nodded their agreement while Bella looked carefully at Edward's expression. "I'm in," she said after a moment.
He turned toward her in surprise and she shrugged.
"It'll be good for the show."
He touched her knee and her nerve endings crackled to life. "Are you sure?"
If she let herself debate it further, she knew she'd end up backing out, so she said yes impulsively before she could change her mind.
He sighed. "All right, I'm in."
Somewhere in the distance, thunder crashed in the dark sky, momentarily muffling the begging, terrified voice inside the little apartment. The rain tapped incessantly against the window panes as if trying to get inside. When it couldn't, it slipped down the glass in rivulets, a quiet witness. Lightning flashed as the storm moved closer.
The young woman looked broken and exhausted, but her anger trumped the growing panic in her voice. She shouted, "Go ahead and admit it!" Her voice grew louder as she realized that no matter what she said this would end badly. "You hate –"
"Who let Alice pick the reading material again?" Emmett turned in the driver's seat to ask.
Alice sat up straighter. "Don't pretend like I didn't catch you sneaking a look at the next chapter this morning. You want to know what happens to Gordon and Madge as much as I do."
Emmett flushed slightly and refocused on his driving. "Okay, but…speak up a little."
Alice grinned and cleared her throat. She clutched her heart dramatically and resumed reading. She did all the different voices, pleased with her companions' rapt attention.
Later that night, Madge was crying softly in her room, waiting for the phone to ring. They said they'd call if they found Gordon's battered body when they dragged the river. She waited and waited. Wouldn't that phone ever ring?
"Hey, we're here," Emmett called out after a while.
The group looked around, unsure of what they might find. They'd been so enthralled with Alice's book, no one thought to watch where they were going. Well, except Emmett, of course.
Bella made a hmm noise. "Palm Springs is uh…nice."
"Technically, we're just outside Palm Springs in um…,"
"The middle of nowhere," Rosalie finished.
The desert stretched far and wide around them, bisected only by the stretch of road they were driving. In the distance, a small green oasis marked their destination. As they got closer, Bella saw the green came from the palm trees at the gates of the Hotel St. James. Past that, she saw that more palms dotted the property. In the flat heat of the morning, nothing moved.
The hotel itself sprawled in front of them, three floors high and very wide. The Spanish tile roof glinted red against the cream walls, the only other color besides the brown earth. From what Bella had read about it, it boasted an indoor and outdoor pool, a garden courtyard, a luxury spa, and every other amenity one could desire.
"Wow," Alice said.
Emmett grinned. "Do I know how to pick 'em, or what."
Bella had read that until a few weeks prior, the Hotel St. James was a fully functioning resort. It had a certain reputation for wild parties and rich decadence, but no reported paranormal activity. The only incident came from the late John Andrews, who was staying there alone on business. After his death, it was claimed that he was acting strangely during his stay, keeping odd hours without reason, losing his temper, and generally frightening some of the staff.
After his death, the hotel decided to close its doors temporarily due to the bad publicity and loss of half their reservations. Bella and the rest of the group were being allowed to film there as part of the owner's desire to revamp their image. He wanted to attract the curious and thrill-seeking to make up for losing most of the rich.
Emmett drove slowly through the wide gates and past a large central fountain. When it was turned on, it would release water from the top that trickled down three tiers to the waiting pool at the bottom. At the moment, however, it was drained.
The driveway curved under a huge stone awning where a man and a woman were both standing. They parked there to unload their equipment.
"Welcome," the woman said as Jasper slid the van door open. She smiled; her teeth looked bright against her tan skin. Her golden hair was pinned up off her neck, no doubt because of the heat, though by looking at her, she didn't seem to be affected by the temperature at all.
The group said their hellos, sounding relieved to be out of the van. They took a moment to stretch and shake hands, introducing themselves to Christopher and Tanya St. James. When Rosalie stepped forward to greet them, Alice stifled a gasp.
Rosalie glanced at her from the corner of her eye while Alice gestured subtly to Tanya. That's when the others took notice as well. Bella's mouth parted slightly.
"What?" Rosalie asked, her hand still half outstretched to shake Tanya's.
Alice smiled in apology. "I'm sorry," she said to the St. James'. "It's just…you two could be twins."
It was true; the women shared the same hair color, the same high cheekbones and full lips, even their height was similar. The only difference seemed to be that Tanya had green eyes where Rosalie's were an almost violet blue.
Tanya smiled demurely and looked Rosalie up and down appreciatively. "Well, I'll take that as the highest of compliments."
Rosalie grinned back, though it was not entirely comfortable. "Likewise."
Mr. St. James used that moment to step in saying, "it seems to me that Haunted America is full of lovely ladies. Again, welcome to our humble abode."
They offered to help carry some of the equipment, but Jasper and Emmett didn't trust it in anyone's hands but their own. Together, they managed to get the sound and camera gear out of the van while Bella and Edward helped with most of the rest. Alice held a large duffel bag over her shoulder and a small camera in her hands. "Do you mind if I film this? We use it to orient viewers a little, they like seeing the place in the daylight first."
Mr. St. James told her to go right ahead and then proceeded to lead them through the grand foyer where several staff members milled about. Tanya explained that most of them would be leaving for the duration of the group's stay.
Alice pointed the camera at her friends. "Say hi, everyone."
They gave nods in her general direction, their arms too laden with bags to wave.
Bella's attention was soon captured by the far wall of the hotel. It was two stories high and made entirely of glass. Through it, Bella saw a courtyard, shaded from the blazing sun by the two additional legs of the hotel, the shape of the entire building forming a vague C. It looked like an oasis within the oasis. Large palms and other green plants made it a modern Garden of Eden. Another fountain sat at the center, it drained as well. As she watched, a sprinkler system came to life, spraying the plants and trees from above. Thin rivulets of water streaked down the glass, muddling her view.
Mr. St. James caught her staring and smiled. "Like it?"
Bella said that she did.
"We'll have dinner for all of you set out there then. It's too bad you can't see it with the fountain running, maybe another time." He smiled again before continuing on to the elevator.
"You six will have the run of the place while you're here, but we thought you might enjoy the larger suites on the third floor. There are several of them, but each has two bedrooms if you'd like to share."
Edward and Alice shared a knowing glance. He thought back to the first season of their show and the place Alice had dubbed the Bates Motel. There were stains on the sheets and hair on the pillowcases, but best of all was the tiny hole in the far wall. Alice was convinced the night manager was watching them.
They squeezed together first in and then out of the elevator. Bella had to lean back against Edward to avoid being hit by some of Jasper's sound equipment. She stayed there an extra beat after the doors opened.
The hallway they came upon was wide with room doors spaced far apart. Mrs. St. James stopped at the first one before sliding her key card through the slot. "And here we are," she gestured to the entryway with a flourish.
The room was spacious and modern without looking uncomfortable. It was colored primarily in black and white with deep orange accents. As she moved through, Bella saw that there was a living room in front of her and a fully stocked bar on her left.
"I'll take this one," Emmett announced, dropping a duffel bag to stake his claim.
The St. James' led them on a tour of the rest of the suite. The bedrooms were down a hallway on the right. Bella noted that one of them was nearly as large as her apartment back in Los Angeles.
"You can stay in this room with me, Rosie." Emmett grinned
She rolled her eyes. However, it did not go unnoticed that he was the only one allowed to call her Rosie. No one knew what those two were doing. They danced around each other and Rosalie spoke like she wasn't interested, but her actions said otherwise.
"Only if I get the master," Rosalie answered. It was considerably larger than the other bedroom.
Mr. St. James laughed under his breath, but chose not to comment on the obvious sexual tension. Instead, he passed around key cards to the three rooms they'd decided to occupy. Alice asked if they could interview him and Mrs. St. James in the lobby by the glass wall and he agreed that it would look good on film.
In Edward and Bella's room, there was some awkward shuffling going on.
"Um, you can take the master," Edward said, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Oh," was Bella's only response, her hope that he would want to share quickly deflating. She flushed slightly, thinking it silly that she thought he would make that suggestion. Typically, a couple was supposed to kiss at least once before they slept together. She declined his offer to help her with her bags, lugging them to the room herself instead.
There was an en suite bathroom, so she took a few minutes to clean herself up. She changed into a flimsy green cotton dress and flat sandals. When she turned around, the mirror displayed a great expanse of her back. It wasn't entirely appropriate for filming, but it was 105 degrees and she was trying to prove a point with Edward.
He saw her step out from the hallway and his mouth dropped. Surely, he thought, this was not a dress, but some kind of torture device. Quickly, he changed his features to show a more suitable amount of awe. He stood as she moved closer and reached for her waist, pulling her into his body. She put her arms around his neck, her heart beating furiously with expectation.
"You look beautiful."
"So do you," she smiled, embarrassed. "I mean, handsome…," she felt a light huff of laughter from his chest.
"Bella…," he let the end of his statement trail away.
She looked up at him, her question fading from her lips when she saw the expression on his face. He was going to kiss her. She leaned in a little as if to give him the permission he seemed to be asking for. He tilted his head down slowly and she could feel his breath, warm and vaguely minty. She practically vibrated with anticipation. Please was her only conscious thought.
And then she felt it. The lightest, barest touch of his lips on hers.
"Are you guys ready?" The muffled call from the hallway was followed by Emmett's perpetually loud knock.
Edward growled a little under his breath. "Just a second," he yelled back. "Sorry," he said to Bella, who was still breathing hard.
Their voices echoed in the spacious lobby, without any other guests the noise seemed ever louder than it might normally.
Jasper whistled in appreciation of the big space, now getting the chance to really see it. It followed a similar color pattern as the upstairs suites, neutrals splashed with burnt orange and other warm, desert colors. There were clusters of chairs and couches surrounded by palms and white bird of paradise. They found Mr. and Mrs. St. James sitting near the window as planned. They'd both changed into slightly more casual attire and Tanya had let her hair down. They looked like vacationers rather than the owners.
Alice stepped to the front of the group, as their de facto leader, she always did the interviewing. It helped that she had a way with people. "Mr. and Mrs. St. James, hi," she said brightly.
"Oh, Christopher and Tanya, please. Is right here okay?"
"Sure, we just need to check the light and get our equipment set up so it'll take a few minutes." She made small talk with the couple, getting them comfortable. After a while, they were being filmed and they barely noticed.
They told the story of how they met, what made them buy the hotel, and finally, what happened to the late John Andrews.
"He was pretty normal as far as guests go at first," Tanya said. "After the first night though, one of our girls at the front desk said he made some noise complaints; he said he couldn't sleep because of the racket."
"What kind of noise? Did he ever say?" Alice tilted her head slightly in curiosity.
"Well, not really…but…," she paused, looking at her husband. "It's kind of off season for us right now and the rooms on either side of Mr. Andrews were vacant."
Alice nodded slowly, not saying anything.
"I thought it might be some of the staff, you know…using the room, but they said they weren't and I believe them. I trust all the staff implicitly," she added. "But I had to check everything.
"I talked to Mr. Andrews and he was adamant that something was going on so we offered to change his room. We moved him to one of the third floor suites, not any of the ones you're staying in," she said quickly. "It didn't get any better after that, he started making claims that someone was in his room, but he refused to go into any detail. He said he just knew for a fact that someone was there. He was so angry; he scared some of our people."
Alice spoke gently. "Was that a possibility?"
"Absolutely not," Christopher said.
Alice looked to Tanya. "No, like I said, I trust our staff."
"Okay, take us through that last day."
Tanya steeled herself. "Well, he was scheduled to stay a week and after the first three days we stopped seeing him entirely. There was a do not disturb sign on the door so housekeeping stayed away and he'd taken his phone off the hook. The day he…the fifth day, I went up there myself and…," Christopher took her hand and she smiled uncomfortably toward her lap.
"He didn't answer," she finished.
"But he did come out at some point."
Tanya nodded. "It was really late…I had gone to bed…," she took a deep breath.
"Take your time," Alice comforted.
"We only had Travis working here in the lobby over night and then two security guards, but they only monitor the video feeds from their office."
"You have video of Mr. Andrews from that night?" Alice caught Emmett's eye and he shrugged, refocusing the camera.
"Of course, I can give you the tape if you want it. The police didn't need it."
Alice thanked her and then got them back to the story.
"Travis had gone on a break and that's when Mr. Andrews came down. He -," her voice caught and Christopher squeezed her hand.
"I think that's enough for now. You can watch the tape for the rest, okay?" His tone said that he was telling them, rather than asking.
"That'll be fine." Alice paused, mulling over the decision to ask them any more questions. "Tanya, you have a lot of interaction with the guests, it seems like."
"That's right," she blinked back tears, relieved to be on to another topic. "I handle most of the public relations type things, I like working with people. Christopher runs the business side of things."
They wrapped up the interview and then Tanya excused herself. Christopher introduced the group to the staff and security they would need to interview the following day before leaving to find his wife.
"I don't like them." Rosalie said, folding her legs underneath her. She leaned back in the chair, grateful for the nice accommodations. Emmett sat on the couch, the end closest to her.
"And why is that?"
"They're too…," she waved a hand, searching for the right word. "I don't know…perfect."
"They aren't the Cullen's," he said softly.
They both remembered that night only a few weeks prior, when they'd all been trapped in that house, held there by…something. No one was ready to admit yet that Carlisle and Esme weren't what they seemed.
"I know that, I just mean…I get a bad vibe from them."
Emmett shrugged. "They seemed all right to me."
"No, I get what you mean. I don't know what it is though," Jasper said. The others came to sit with them. No matter how much space they had, inevitably they stayed close together. Alice sat on the floor between Jasper's legs while Edward and Bella took the opposite couch. "I want to see the tape again."
"I just uploaded it to California; we'll get feedback from them pretty soon." They always called their editors "California" even when they were in the same state. They were the ones that made all the footage look like an actual television show.
"Okay, so what's the plan?" Emmett asked.
Bella spoke up. Technically, she was the historian, but she also used her organizational tendencies to keep everyone on track. "We can probably talk to California after dinner, and then we'll need to grab the security tape and review that."
Everyone perked up, eager to know what was on that tape. Christopher said the camera was set up with a straight shot at the front doors, where Mr. Andrews' body was found.
"You can shoot some exteriors in the morning and I've set up interview times with Travis and the security guards on duty that night, we'll set up all the equipment and then it's lights out."
"Excellent," Emmett enthused.
They could feel the energy in the air like static; it was time to go to work. But first…,
The dinner spread was incredible. Long tables with orange runners had been set up in the courtyard and then covered with food, everything a person might want. Between the three of them, Emmett, Edward, and Jasper had at least one of everything. The wine and conversation flowed freely and eventually, the bartender began serving drinks with liquor.
They all knew they were working and, if only because of this, they did not imbibe heavily. But still, something started happening after the sun went down.
"Come and join us," Emmett called to the bartender and other wait staff milling about now that they'd finally finished eating.
The bartender, Riley, exchanged a glance with the girl bussing the buffet table. She grinned with apparent mischief and put her things down, gesturing for him to follow her to the table. The two other staff people joined quickly after.
"So," Alice began. "Do you think this place is haunted?" Her favorite handheld camera appeared from her rather large purse. She flipped it open and hit record.
"I think this place is evil," Riley said with sincerity.
The girl next to him rolled her eyes. "You're just saying that because Mr. St. James denied your raise request."
He took a drink from his beer bottle. "Jess, you know something's wrong with this place."
She stared at him, communicating something that the others didn't understand.
"Let's just say that things happen here that you guys don't know about."
"Riley," Jess snapped.
"Okay, enough with the macabre stuff, who wants music?" She asked. She wouldn't have suggested it, but the St. James' were sleeping off site that night and nearly everyone in the hotel was sitting around that table anyway.
Jess turned on the sound system, the speakers of which were hidden around the courtyard. She switched it to a song with a sexy, pulsing beat. "Dance?" She looked at Riley with a smile and he tried to play off his grin as mere bemusement. She led him to an open space near the big fountain. In the near darkness, he pulled her hips closer.
Alice set the camera down, though it was still rolling, and looked at Jasper. She whispered something in his ear and he stood, taking her with him. They made their way to the impromptu dance floor, Alice kicking her shoes off on the way. He turned her around so her back was pressed to his chest, his hands brushing the skin between her top and her skirt.
"Come on, woman." Emmett stood and winked at Rosalie, who got up and pulled off her outer shirt, leaving her in only a thin camisole. Emmett followed after her like a starving man.
The two others on staff looked at each other before jumping up to join them, leaving Bella and Edward watching.
She wanted him to ask her to dance; she wanted it with ever fiber in her body. But Edward, she'd come to find out, was a shy man.
He looked at her, his lips parting as if to say something.
They both started at the same time. He motioned for her to go first.
She felt like she was in high school again, sitting by the punch bowl while her friends went out and had fun. "Um, do you want to, you know…dance?"
"Definitely." He stood, offering his hand as the song changed. This one was harder, grinding, and made Bella's skin tingle. She felt it then, like a shift or loosening of something. She slipped out of her shoes and led the way, feeling Edward's eyes on her bare back the whole time.
When they got to their friends, he turned her to face him. He slid his arms around her and they began to move in time with the music.
The heat surrounded them and soaked into the stone their feet danced on. Their skin became slick and their movement languid and potent with suggestion. Bella pulled her hair up off her neck and felt Edward's lips there, hovering. He was behind her now, his thumbs brushing the fabric covered skin of her stomach. She tilted her head just slightly and then felt him kiss her. He followed it with his tongue, tasting her for just a second.
When the temperature became too much for them to stand, someone lost a shirt. They couldn't say who was first, but soon enough it was all the men.
Rosalie ran her hands up Emmett's chest, her mouth parted and her breathing heavy. She moved her hips into his, back and forth to the beat of the song, her hands traveling further up his body. She stretched up and took his earlobe between her teeth. Emmett groaned.
Jasper's fingers played just under the waistband of Alice's skirt, teasing her. She raised her arm, tangling her hand in his hair. She tilted her head back and he kissed her.
Edward had material from Bella's dress clutched in his fist. He wanted to tear it off her. He kissed her instead, his tongue moving languidly against hers. He felt the movement of her body and the vibration of the music and it was too much, too good. When Bella looked at him, his eyes were black.
No one noticed the watcher on the other side of the glass. In the darkness, the only things visible were steely eyes and a satisfied smile.
Something incessant was beeping near Alice's head. She lifted her arm, flailing it uselessly in the noise's direction. Absently, she wondered where she was and how she came to be there. She hit something solid with her hand and heard a grunt of displeasure. It didn't feel like Jasper to her.
Her eyes opened and she saw the ceiling, but it was too high, as if she was on the floor instead of a bed. She touched whatever it was she was laying on, the floor, apparently. The wood was cold under her fingers. She became aware of the soreness of her body and the quickening of her heart. What happened last night?
She heard another groan from the person next to her and she glanced over, coming face to face with Emmett, their noses only an inch apart. They sat straight up in surprise.
He looked at her in obvious bewilderment. His mouth opened. "…what…what the hell?"
Alice only shook her head, sharing in his confusion.
They both looked around, hoping they were at least in their hotel room. They spied Rosalie's long, bare legs hanging off the end of the couch and exhaled in slight relief.
Emmett stood up, his joints stiff and cracking. He reached a hand down and Alice took it, cringing at the soreness in her body. She grabbed her phone, which was the source of the beeping, and checked it. Three missed calls. She frowned, but set the phone aside anyway for the time being.
Together, they searched for their friends.
They found them in the master bedroom, together, on the bed. Bella rested halfway down Edward's body, her head on his bare stomach. Jasper slept stretched out nearly diagonally across the rest of the space. Alice and Emmett stared at them and then at each other, questions passing silently between them. Again, what happened last night?
Jasper stretched and opened his eyes and they watched as he mirrored their earlier reaction to waking up on the floor in the entryway. "Uh…," he said, hastily getting up and out of bed.
"Jas," Alice whispered.
He looked at her, his eyes wide.
Bella stirred, jarred by the noise and movement. She rubbed her face into what should have been her pillow, had she been using one. She propped herself on her elbows and looked down. Her mouth opened and then closed. When she looked up, Edward's eyes were opening. They stared at each other. Emmett cleared his throat, making Bella jump.
"Oh…um…yeah…," she got up quickly, Edward followed. She straightened her twisted dress while Edward looked for a shirt.
From the living room, Rosalie called, "where the hell are my pants?"
"I don't know, but we're in here," Alice called back.
Rosalie walked in, holding a large pillow over her midsection. "So um…what's going on?"
They all looked at each other. "We have no idea," Alice said.
"Does anyone remember anything?" Edward asked.
Jasper shook his head. "Nothing, man."
Alice rubbed her eyes in frustration. "All right, let's all go to our own rooms and get ready. We're pretty useless right now and we have a lot to do today."
They all agreed and retreated from Alice and Jasper's room to their own quarters.
Each of them showered and dressed in silence, lost to the miasma of their thoughts.
They were greeted and led back to the courtyard by Mr. and Mrs. St. James for breakfast, which they practically salivated at. They exchanged pleasantries before being left to their own devices.
"Look," Jasper noted after they filled their plates. "It's like nothing happened out here at all."
It was true; the courtyard was as pristine as ever, the greenery still damp from a recent watering. It was shady and cool, very much the oasis it seemed to always be.
"Okay, has anyone remembered anything? My mind is a blank right now." Alice looked around the long table, hoping someone would have something they could share.
Bella thought hard, trying to push the heavy curtains back that cloaked the whole night. She sighed in irritation. "Um…I remember dinner…sort of."
"So do I," Rosalie chimed in. "Wait…music, I remember music."
"Heat," Edward added. "I remember that."
They all went back and forth for a while, each person only remembering bits and pieces of the night before. But they still couldn't seem to weave anything together.
Every face turned to Alice.
"The camera, I had the camera going. I saw it in our room; thank God…I'll be right back."
She returned a few minutes later in high spirits, the camera on in her hands. "I had to change the battery; we must have had it going all night." She sat and they all crowded around her, anxious to see the small screen.
Alice started it when Riley's face appeared; she vaguely remembered doing the short interview with him and a woman whose name she couldn't quite place.
They watched the woman, Jess – Bella called out when she remembered, suggest music and then pull Riley onto the dance floor.
Couple by couple, they all got up to dance. The camera jerked and then went still as Alice set it on the table to dance with Jasper; she kept it facing their makeshift dance space. It was fun and innocent at first, they smiled and laughed and flirted. As the night wore on, however, it changed. They pressed closer, hands shifted clothing to move across bare skin and boundaries were crossed like they didn't exist.
Bella failed to stifle a gasp when she watched Edward kiss her for the first time. She looked at him from the corner of her eye and saw him frown. They both frantically retraced everything, trying to remember that moment. Her eyes watered with unshed tears. "Can we fast forward through this part?"
Alice did, not hitting play again until she saw herself approaching the screen. She was grinning lazily as the camera moved unsteadily in her hands.
"I look like I'm high." She commented.
It was true, her eyes were dilated wide and she was completely incoherent. It didn't look like drunkenness, it looked like something else.
The camera swept around, capturing her friends in various states of undress. After a few seconds, Alice's face filled the screen again. She lifted half her mouth in a smile. "Bye, now." The screen went blank.
Everyone sat back in their seats. "Well…that was…Bacchanalian." Jasper frowned, staring at his hands.
"Can I see that?" Rosalie asked. Alice handed it over and watched while Rosalie pressed a couple of buttons and then watched a part of the feed.
"See, there, right there at the end," she turned the camera around and started it over. It was a part near the end when the whole group came in to view one last time. Bella was sitting on one of the tables, Edward standing between her legs. Jess was sitting in Riley's lap on the fountain's edge and the other two staff people were kissing nearby. Jasper was moving toward Alice, his eyes heavy lidded.
"What?" Edward asked.
"Where am I in that shot? And where's Emmett?"
They watched it again and sure enough, Rosalie and Emmett were missing.
"You could have been off camera," Jasper offered.
"But the shot got practically the whole courtyard…," Rosalie bit her lip, frustrated at her imperfect memory. Certainly she would know if she'd slept with someone, she thought. She crossed her arms over her chest, feeling strangely vulnerable.
Emmett reached over to touch her hand, but she pulled away. "I'm all right," she said.
Alice ran a hand through her damp hair; her head still ached from sleeping on the floor. "Okay, what do you guys want to do? I have no good ideas…," she felt Jasper's arm come around her shoulders. She leaned into him.
"Chalk it up to the alcohol?" Emmett asked.
Edward shook his head. "No, you can see it on the tape, I don't think we drank that much."
"But, it doesn't show the whole dinner. Maybe we drank more than we thought?" Bella looked around the table at their weary faces.
"I vote that," Rosalie said. "I think we should move on, we've got a lot to do today. I'm guessing nothing productive got done after dinner."
They put it to a vote and agreed something good needed to come out of that trip.
Bella and Rosalie offered to pick up and review the security footage since that interview wasn't until later in the day. Alice, Emmett, and Jasper left to interview Travis, the man working the night Mr. Andrews died. And Edward very reluctantly took the handheld camera upstairs to upload the tape to California.
Rosalie let Bella do most of the talking. She was trying not to let it get to her, but she was quickly discovering it was too late for that.
She trusted Emmett, though she wouldn't ever verbalize it, and she knew he would never do something to hurt her. But after watching the tape and seeing the state they were in, she couldn't help but wonder if he'd pursued her or perhaps she had pursued him. She was also starting to believe that they may have been slipped something by someone else. It killed her not to know anything for sure.
"Hey, are you okay?" Bella asked on their way back upstairs.
Rosalie shrugged. "Fine, just…you know." It was as close to opening up as she was going to get, but she appreciated the concern.
As the newest member of the team, she'd had a difficult time adjusting. She was the resident skeptic and while the others searched for proof too, they were more likely than her to believe. It made her feel, at times, like the odd man out. But they did their best to welcome her and she found herself becoming more personally attached every day. Especially to Emmett, though she kept that to herself.
When they made it to Alice and Jasper's room, they found Edward sitting on the couch. He told them the other three were still doing interviews and then he said, "You've got to come see this."
It took a long time for Alice to coax Travis into talking, but she could tell he had something to say. And underneath his stock answers, she saw something else – fear.
He told them the basic story, that he was on shift that night, and that he took his break and didn't see anyone coming or going. When he got back, the security guards had just arrived. Unfortunately, it was all too late for Mr. Andrews. Once the paramedics arrived, he was pronounced at the scene.
Travis wrung his hands together and then folded them in his lap when he noticed what he was doing. "It was…I've never seen a dead body before."
Alice watched him sympathetically, but didn't say anything.
"If I hadn't taken my break then…or if I'd gotten back a little earlier, you know?"
"It wasn't your fault, Travis. There was nothing you could have done."
She wrapped up the interview after a few minutes and a couple other questions to round things out.
"That's it?" He asked after she thanked him.
Alice shot a look at Emmett, trying to communicate to him not to turn off the camera. "Is there something you wanted to add?"
Travis opened his mouth and then hesitated. "Uh, no, I was just wondering."
"Are you sure?" She prodded. She knew there was something there, but she didn't know what.
He shook his head. "There's nothing else."
"Do you get the feeling that everyone is in on some big secret except us?" Jasper asked on their way to interview the security guards.
"Definitely, I haven't felt this out of the loop since high school." Emmett responded.
They set up for the guards, Robert and Hal, and then got them situated. They were both nervous, but apparently eager to be on camera. The two men took turns taking Alice through that night, saying they didn't notice him until he started pounding on the entryway doors.
"It was the strangest thing; we don't lock them until two in the morning so there was no reason for him not to walk right outside if he wanted."
Robert nodded. "But he just kept hitting them, as hard as he could, it seemed like. You can see he's saying something, but we don't get any audio on these feeds. He looked…terrified."
They said they watched him on the monitor for about thirty seconds, trying to figure out what he was doing. When it was clear Mr. Andrews was in a full blown panic, they ran to his aid. Unfortunately, it was too late.
"You're sure the doors were unlocked?"
"Positive," Hal answered. "I checked them myself after I called for paramedics."
Alice nodded, contemplating her next question. "What do you think about this hotel?"
Hal opened his mouth, but was cut off by Robert. "It's a good place…and I like my job." He gave Hal a pointed look.
Alice was beginning to feel a wall against her back.
"California caught this, watch…," Edward backed up the tape a little. He paused it near the end, the part where Alice picks up the camera at the end of the night. "Okay." He hit play.
The picture was on a laptop now, and thus, much larger. It showed Alice's face and her disoriented expression before it swept around to show the rest of the group. "There," Edward said suddenly. "Did you see it?"
Rosalie and Bella shared a confused glance. "See what?" Rosalie asked.
Edward backed the tape up again and played it, frame by frame instead. "Okay…right about…there," he pointed to a dark smudge on the screen and then hit pause. It was just as Alice began to pan the camera, a shadow in the upper left corner.
"Um, okay?" Rosalie couldn't make heads or tails of what it might be.
"What is it?" Bella asked.
"Well, California wondered that too, so they cleared it up and sent me this." He clicked something on the screen and a new window opened. It was a sharper, zoomed in shot. It wasn't a shadow at all. It was legs.
Bella's mind immediately went to all the possibilities. "Is that you, Rosalie? Looks too small to be Emmett."
"No, I wasn't wearing pants like that. Can we tell if it's a woman or not?"
"The camera never shows a face, but there's this too," Edward opened another window.
Pressed up against the glass, just before the camera turns away completely, was a hand.
They were setting up in a way that would seem chaotic to the casual observer, but they had everything under control.
"I need a couple more hands," Rosalie called from the open front doors of the hotel.
"I gotcha," Jasper said, jogging over to help her set up the generator. They would power off all the electricity in the hotel once they started filming.
Bella stepped out of the elevator. "Okay, one EVP recorder and a motion sensor in Mr. Andrews' suite."
"Got another EVP?" Emmett asked. Bella tossed him one.
"Thermal imaging is set up in here." Edward said.
"What are we doing about the courtyard?" Alice called out from her spot at one of the clusters of chairs. She was hooking up a connection to California.
They'd set up their base camp in the large lobby since it was a central location and easy to find. No one mentioned it, but they all remembered roaming the hallways blindly at Roslyn House.
"We're going to walk through it, but do you think we need something stationary?" Bella asked.
"I can get the tripod out there," Emmett offered. "Maybe a thermal too." He grabbed the equipment to position it outside.
"Generator's ready," Rosalie said, tucking back a loose strand of hair.
"I need batteries," Jasper was looking through a pile of things on the big table where Alice was talking to California. They were going to monitor the feeds simultaneously to give them direction toward the most active areas of the hotel. Alice had dual monitors set up and a laptop, that way she could see the playback and California at the same time.
Jasper held two double A's up in triumph, "Ha!"
Alice grinned and shook her head.
They met with the St. James' for a short while after everything was ready, just long enough to explain exactly what they would be doing. They promised they were only there to observe and record and that nothing would be altered for the sake of ratings.
The last people to leave were Robert and Hal. They showed Jasper where he could turn off the power; it was in a small room across from security. Before they left, Hal wished them well.
The six of them had one last meeting to make sure everyone had their assignments. Edward, Bella, Jasper, and Emmett would stick together and move throughout the most active places in the hotel. Edward would use his strange gift and try to communicate with whoever might be around.
He was reluctant to call himself a medium, but he never could adequately explain his ability. He believed in the beginning that he could only hear what had passed through someone's head before they died. But after their last show, he discovered that it was much more than that. Edward could hear them, talk to them. If he was honest with himself, it scared the hell out of him.
Like the last time, Rosalie volunteered to spend the night in Mr. Andrews' room. Emmett didn't like the idea, but Rosalie insisted she wasn't afraid. He believed she was trying to prove a point. She'd been grateful, but had never much liked that he had to come to her rescue at the last taping.
"Okay, we're ready to roll." Alice sat in front of her bank of monitors, the rest of the group crowded in behind her. She handed Jasper a flashlight and gave him a quick kiss.
"All right," she said. "Good show, everybody."
Emmett lifted a heavy camera onto his shoulder while Jasper left to power down the big hotel.
Bella stilled her rattling nerves and Edward squeezed her hand. It was the first time he'd touched her since viewing the tape from the night prior. She gave him a small smile and he smiled back.
Rosalie held her flashlight close. She was chronically claustrophobic and she hated the way the darkness always seemed to press in on her. She counted slowly, matching her breaths to it.
It was too far to call out, but Jasper did anyway. "Lights out."
The hotel went black.
Rosalie's light shone toward the stairs in front of her. Emmett followed, his camera rolling.
"If you need to come downstairs, Alice will be in the lobby all night," he said.
"I'm not scared."
"I know, I just mean, we're not live this time so you don't really need to spend the next ten hours up here."
She sighed, softening at his protective instincts. "I'll be okay."
They got to Mr. Andrews' room and she pushed the door open. Because there was no power, Bella had pushed one of the locks over to keep the door from closing all the way. She did the same to all the rooms they planned to venture into, as well as their own, just in case.
Emmett checked the video and the sound before saying goodbye for the night. Impulsively, he grabbed her hand, tangling his fingers with her for just a moment. He gave her a small nod and then left, making his way back downstairs.
"You got him to sign off, right? Because we're using it." California was referring to the piece of video in which Riley called the hotel evil; it was too good to pass up.
"Yep, everyone has." Alice tapped a few things into the keyboard, bringing up the thermal feeds on one large screen. They had cameras that detected even the faintest heat signature placed in the courtyard and the lobby. So far, everything was quiet.
"You guys have some great stuff so far, this is gonna kill."
Alice rolled her eyes. "Ha ha."
"Hmm?" She answered, distracted.
"What?" California asked.
"I didn't say anything."
As soon as the door slammed shut, Rosalie was hyper aware that no one could open the door unless she let them in. The knowledge gave her minimal comfort. She remembered the last show, which was her very first show, and how talking to the stationary camera helped to ease her nerves.
"So, I thought, at first, that this was just a marketing tool. You know, get us out here to garner some publicity, but now…," she wasn't sure how to word her thoughts.
"Something is happening here. Everyone is playing their part just a little too well."
She was about to say something else, but a noise through the wall startled her into silence. There were voices, or maybe just one, she couldn't tell. Rosalie moved toward it slowly in the nearly pitch black room, straining her ears for the sounds. She touched her hand to the wall and heard laughter – high, clear, and distinctly feminine.
She leaned closer, but didn't hear anything more. After a minute, she pressed her ear to the wall.
The sprinklers had gone off just after dusk; apparently they were on a timer that was wired separately from the hotel. Even though they'd turned off by the time the group got outside, everything was wet and it lowered the courtyard's temperature by several degrees.
"I can't even see Alice," Jasper commented. Between the darkness and the way the water muddled the glass, they couldn't see inside at all.
Bella shivered from the dampness and Edward stepped closer. She looked up at him and was going to smile until she noticed his expression. "Are you okay?"
"Fine," he tried to hide his grimace, but was unsuccessful.
"It's okay." He took her hand.
Bella looked at him one more time, studying his face. The last time he was like this was also the first time he ever heard them speak to him.
They walked through while Edward lagged behind.
"What's the matter?" Bella stood in the doorway, blocking the shot.
"My head…it's just a headache, but the pressure. It's like…," he lowered his voice, "it's like something is inside my head."
Edward had confessed to her later that he felt like he was losing his mind.
Alice left her post to search out the voice. She took a handheld camera, a flashlight, and a Bluetooth to keep her connected to California.
"It came from this direction…I think." She walked across the lobby and down a wide hallway nearly all the way across the hotel. When she saw another, narrower hallway to her left, she took it. She pointed the flashlight at the name plates on the door.
"Maintenance…Housekeeping...," she continued on, listening for the voice.
She came to an open door. Common sense told her it was a bad idea, but curiosity won out and she pushed it the rest of the way, shining her light back and forth.
There was a bank of screens on a long desk, two chairs, filing cabinets, computers, and a small refrigerator. It was just as it should be. She stepped closer, staring at the blank screens. One of them wasn't right.
Alice passed her hand over it and saw the shadow of her reflection. But there was another shadow there, one that didn't belong. She looked at the screen and then turned around, looking at what it should have been reflecting – a large, grey filing cabinet and nothing more. She looked at the screen again, her heart beating staccato in her chest.
"Are you afraid?"
Edward's gaze snapped toward the voice. It was happening again.
"No," he muttered quietly.
He felt someone's hot breath in his ear, sour as rancid milk. "You will be."
Rosalie closed her eyes in concentration, her ear to the wall. There was nothing.
She held her breath.
"Did you hear that?" Emmett asked.
"Hear what?" Jasper asked back.
"Nothing, I guess."
There wasn't anything happening in the courtyard so they moved back inside. Bella led the way back into the lobby.
Jasper looked around. "Where's Alice?"
Alice was there, but only in body. She felt anchored, unable to move. Her pupils dilated wide and she began to see.
She watched Mr. Andrews, alive and well. He was terrified.
The vision faded and a new one took its place. She spoke out loud, knowing she would have trouble remembering this afterward.
"He's running down the hallway, when he looks back he trips and falls. There's a woman…she's following him.
Something flickered in her mind and then the vision faded entirely.
"That can't be right."
Someone was pounding on the door. Rosalie held her flashlight like a weapon as she crept closer. "Who's there?" She asked with suspicion.
"It's Riley, open the door," he called back.
She threw the lock so the door would only open a few inches. "What are you doing here?"
He stood back from the door, trying not to frighten her. "I need to talk to you."
Rosalie quirked an eyebrow, but didn't say anything.
"Well, you as in, all of you. Please?"
She weighed his question in her mind, trying to figure out what he was getting at. "Why are you here now?"
"Because you guys have no idea what you're getting yourselves into."
Bella was sitting in Alice's seat, talking to California while Edward gave a short interview with Emmett and Jasper.
"You guys never remember to take the walkie talkies," he admonished. "Alice is on her way back there right now."
Just as Edward's interview wrapped up, they heard the faint squeak of Alice's shoes on the marble floor.
The light bounced a little as she jogged over.
Jasper met her halfway. "Are you all right? What were you doing?"
"I'm fine. Family meeting," she called out to everyone else. "I saw something."
"She's what?" Rosalie asked incredulously.
"She can make you do things…I don't know how to explain it." Riley paced in the hallway because Rosalie wouldn't let him into the room. She knew there was a camera set up to face the door, so if he tried anything it would be on film.
"Do things?" Rosalie crossed her arms over her chest.
"You guys blacked out last night too, right? Well, that's not the first time it's happened to me." He stopped pacing and started picking at his fingernails. "It starts out like last night, you remember dancing? Well, it gets worse. It's not the hotel that's evil, it's her." Riley finally stopped fidgeting and looked at her. "You've got to believe me."
Rosalie rubbed her eyes and sighed. "Not again." She unlocked the door and pulled it open all the way. "Come on, let's go."
The group gathered at the big desk, using the light from the computer monitors to see each other.
"Okay," Alice cast a quick glance at Edward and Bella. "It's Tanya causing this...and maybe Christopher. Actually, I think he's protecting her."
"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," Emmett muttered.
"But something isn't right." Alice rubbed her forehead, fighting off the inevitable headache that came with her strange ability.
Jasper touched the small of her back. "What'd you see?"
She took a breath. "Mr. Andrews was running from her and then I saw him at the front doors. He was begging to be let out. Tanya was…laughing," she frowned. "I saw…I saw him die. But, the part I don't understand is…after that, Tanya just -,"
"Oh my God."
All eyes went to Bella, who was pointing toward the front doors.
Riley led the way down the stairs, going so fast Rosalie was worried he'd fall. "He was paying us off so we wouldn't say anything."
"But why not put her…somewhere, you know?" Rosalie huffed, feeling out of shape as they went down the second flight of stairs. "An institution?"
"Like it could hold her. I don't know, either he really loves her or…or she won't let him."
"Tanya," Alice said, unable to hide the tremble in her voice. The desk served as a small barrier, but Jasper still stepped forward, putting himself in front of her. She stepped out part way. "We know."
Tanya tilted her head and stepped forward. Her eyes weren't right; as she got closer Bella saw that both her pupils were blown.
Alice took a wild stab in the dark, praying that her hunch was correct. "It wasn't you, Tanya. Something is making you do this." Alice kept talking, trying to keep her distracted. She hoped if she could, the guys could restrain her somehow. "I know you're in there somewhere, Tanya."
She stared back at Alice, rage and desire heating her from the inside out. She reached out, running the tips of her fingers along the desk, the only thing separating them. She licked her lips.
Suddenly, there was a beam of light to her left and the sound of pounding footsteps.
Rosalie stopped short in the cold lobby. "Tanya."
She was too close.
Rosalie didn't stand a chance.
Tanya lunged for her.
"Rose!" Emmett dropped the big camera with a resounding clatter and took a step toward her.
Edward grabbed his arm. "No, Em."
Tanya had Rosalie in front of her, one hand had produced a knife, the other was wrapped tightly around Rosalie's neck.
Alice put her hands up. "We're not going to try anything. Just, please, let Rosalie go. We'll do anything you want."
She grinned. "I want you, all of you." Her grip tightened. "You can't leave, you can never leave."
Instinctively, Edward put Bella behind him. Alice shook her head at him, silently telling him not to move.
"That isn't you talking. I saw you, Tanya, after Mr. Andrews died. You had no idea, did you?"
In her vision, Alice saw her in the lobby, just out of the camera's view. She was toying with him right until the moment he died. And then it was like a switch was flipped and Tanya was herself again. She'd looked around, lost until her eyes found Mr. Andrews' body slumped at the doors. She'd covered her mouth with both hands in horror, but before she could do anything, the guards rushed in and she was forced to flee.
"Whatever it is, you have to fight it, Tanya. It's not stronger than you. Fight it."
Tanya's mouth twitched and something passed over her eyes, but she said nothing.
Under her hand, Rosalie could feel the bruises forming around her neck. She held Tanya's forearm in vain, trying to stop the automatic flood of panic. But she was trapped and she could barely breathe. After years of working to overcome her intense claustrophobia, one hand around her neck snapped her progress in two.
Alice kept talking. There was a fight happening and a shift coming; she didn't know how she knew, but she did.
The glass wall started trembling, but no one noticed. Instead, they were staring at Tanya's agonized face. She'd switched back, only for a second. But it was long enough.
Emmett barreled straight up and over the desk and went for Tanya. He grabbed her wrist, squeezing and forcing her to drop the knife. He got between her and Rosalie before he was joined by his friends. Tanya shrieked and fought him viciously, clawing, biting; she tried to get away with everything she had.
Bella and Alice went for Rosalie, who had fallen to her knees, coughing and gasping hard. They helped her up and half dragged her a safe distance away.
It took all three men to get Tanya to the floor. She was screaming, trying to twist out their grasp, but they held fast.
The glass wall was rattling louder now, loud enough that Bella finally took notice. Her eyes went immediately to the long crack splintering its way across one of the panes a few feet from her friends.
"The wall," she yelled quickly. "It's going to -,"
It shattered, drowning out her warning. There was so much glass; it fell like rain on top of them. They covered their heads, but it was no use, there was too much.
After what felt like an eternity, the last pieces shimmered and fell, settling over every surface in the lobby.
The group opened their eyes slowly and looked at the mess in shock.
"Is everyone okay?" Edward asked, looking for Bella.
They all called out in turn.
Edward went to Bella's side, but she wasn't paying any attention. He wanted to touch her, but he knew he'd only cut her if he tried. "Bella?"
"Tanya," she said, staring at the place on the floor she should have been. She was gone.
One Week Later
The heat wave had finally broken. Rain fell in fat drops as Bella jogged to the studio entrance, using a newspaper as an umbrella.
She took off her soaked jacket when she got inside and then followed the different hallways, straight back and then to the left where she found Alice in the recording studio, doing the tail end of a voice over for the Hotel St. James episode. She waved to her from the other side of the glass and then sat with the rest of the group on the couch. Edward tried to give up his seat for her, but she waved him off and sat on the floor between his legs.
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. He kissed the side of her head. "Hey," he said.
She settled back a little, getting closer to him. "Hi."
When Alice was finished, she came out to join her friends, perching on Jasper's lap.
Mike, the producer, excused himself to grab some lunch.
With him gone, their conversation turned inevitably to the St. James' as it had every day for the last week.
"I think she had multiple personalities," Rosalie argued.
Edward shook his head. "Then how do you explain the wall shattering? Or the doors being locked the night Andrews died? Or our dinner, for that matter?" No one had regained any more memories from that first night; it bothered them all more than they were willing to admit. Neither Rosalie nor Emmett knew where they'd gone when they'd disappeared, but the general consensus was that wherever they were, they were probably together.
Rosalie sighed. "Well…I don't know, but I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation."
"I still think it was possession." Alice said. "I don't think she could control it. You guys didn't see her when she realized Andrews was dead, she had no idea what she'd done." Her vision from that night haunted Alice; the expression on Tanya's face was so tortured. It was like she knew it was all her fault, but there was nothing she could do about it. "I think that…thing inside her craved that negative energy or…," she sighed, not knowing quite how to finish.
They went back and forth for a short while, but in the end, no one completely agreed with any theory. The only thing they knew for sure was that Tanya was gone. And so was Christopher. The police were looking for her because of the attack on Rosalie, but they had no evidence for any other crimes she may have committed.
As for the episode, the editors had stitched together some compelling footage of what was arguably a very human culprit. They were allowed to air what tape they had after agreeing to put one hell of a disclaimer at the end since none of their theories could be proven.
Unfortunately, depending on how one chose to look at it, they had no film from their confrontation with Tanya. Obviously, taping had become their last priority at that point.
"Do you think we'll ever see them again?" Bella asked.
Jasper shrugged. "I don't think so; she's on the run now."
Bella startled at the sound of someone knocking on her door, her book falling to the floor. She smiled to herself at the overreaction, but still approached with caution. She looked through the peephole and her smile widened.
"Edward," she said, opening the door.
His hands were in his jacket pockets and he looked nervous. "Bella," he said, sounding surprised that it was her though this was her apartment. "Hi…I just…I've been thinking…I -," he stuttered out another couple of words before cutting himself off.
He huffed slightly and licked his lips. Before Bella could process what he was doing, he stepped into the entryway and took her face in his hands. He leaned in, just slowly enough that she could pull away if she wanted. She didn't.
Edward touched his mouth to hers softly and she gripped the front of his shirt, pushing up on her toes. His lips parted and he touched her bottom one with his tongue experimentally. She responded with enthusiasm and he smiled against her, his hands slipping down to wrap around her waist. When they parted, Bella's eyes were bright.
He grinned at her. "I won't forget that one." He touched his nose to hers playfully and then pulled her closer.
"Kiss me again."
The sign read: Las Vegas 30 Miles. It wasn't nearly far enough, but they could get lost there to rest for a little while. Christopher pulled the car off the highway at some little town that had a gas station as their prominent feature.
He touched Tanya's arm lovingly. "I'll be right back, sweetheart." He took her hand between his, kissing the scratched skin. It had taken days, but he'd managed to get all the glass out.
She stared out the window, her pupils wide despite the bright morning light.
Christopher paid for the gas and bought some water for the both of them. She would have to eat or at least drink something eventually.
When he got back inside the car, he twisted off the cap and held the bottle near her face. "Here honey, have a little water, okay?"
She tilted her head away from him and something caught her eye. Not something, but someone. "I want him."
He looked out her window and saw the young man pumping gas nearby. Christopher wouldn't fight her; he couldn't even if he wanted to. This…person wasn't his wife, maybe she never had been. But he loved her; he would always love her.
And so, as the man pulled out onto the highway, Christopher put his car into drive. The man had no idea he was being followed.
"Anything you want, my love."
Author's Note: Thanks to my pre-readers and thanks to you guys :)
More things to know: I based the plot of this story on my favorite song, you can probably guess the title. Also, I nicked portions of Alice's dramatic reading from an episode of I Love Lucy.
Oh and umm...it's my birthday today...