Meet the Monster
The Twilight Saga, and any related characters, do not belong to me.
Authors Note 2:
Long absence. My apologies. Going to try and finish this story before the holiday season ends.
Spaces instead of the old dot format. It doesn't work anymore, apparently.
Serious Edward Picture-
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Worth Dying For- Rise Against
Mastermind- Mindless Self Indulgence
Meet the Monster- Five Finger Death Punch
Bulletproof- Five Finger Death Punch
Bella's Point of View
I saw Rosalie calling and had tried to pick up. Bad reception made the call drop before I could get into the other room. My return call ended in dead air, the one bar on my phone disappearing. Sighing impatiently, I had quietly pulled jeans on, the closest shirt I could find. With the cell propped against my shoulder, I listened to Rose's ringtone before her voice-mail kicked in. Stomping into boots in their living room, I breathed a sigh of relief as my text message sign blinked.
'Help me cart Emmett's ass in? He's dead weight and I can't do it myself.'
I should have known. Rosalie would never admit that she couldn't handle something on her own. When I saw someone tall step out of the shadows, I had leapt back towards the door. 'Danger,' my every instinct screamed. Maybe my subconscious remembered the scent of Jamie's cologne.
"Turn around or I will shoot you in the back. Scream and I'll shoot you in the face."
I knew that voice. There was no doubt in my mind that he was holding a gun, and that he was pissed enough at me to pull the trigger. Shivers of fear rolled down my spine as I slowly faced Jamie. I visibly eased my hand away from the doorknob, only inches away...
"You look good," I said, not taking my eyes from his fever-bright gaze. "Long time, no see."
"We need to get out of here."
"Where are Rosalie and Emmett? How did you get her phone?"
"This?" Jamie unpocketed Rose's purple cell. "I didn't kill your friends."
"The guards?" I ached to see Jamie flail, falling over seconds after I heard a gun discharge. Surely one of them would hear us talking and come to investigate.
"Not very good at guarding. Don't make me tell you again, Bella. Come over here."
"I... uh, I really don't think I want to do that." Anything to buy time. The only two options I had weren't good. A: I could lunge for the door, hoping to get inside and slam it behind me, really hoping that his bullets wouldn't penetrate through the aluminum screen door and the heavier door behind it. Or, B: I would destroy all chances of getting inside the house because I was afraid he would shoot me, anyway. Was he that insane? ... yes. My life could end in the next five seconds, and I didn't have any way to prevent it. My legs were shaking and I hated it.
"Want to save your lovers life?" he smiled, feral and condescending. "Think I don't know where the bedroom is? If I unload this clip low on that wall, will all of the bullets miss him?"
I moved away from the door without thinking twice. With the way Jamie was holding the gun, Edward would take a shot to the back before he had a chance to wake up. Why the fuck hadn't I woken him up before I left? Because he looked tired? Because I had wanted him to rest, not having to deal with more bullshit when he needed sleep?
"Where are we going?" Jamie took one step back when I took two forward. He stood at the bottom of the stairs, still perfectly aligned to shoot either me or through the bedroom wall.
"Somewhere we won't be interrupted. You've made it impossible for me to catch you alone, so... now we do things my way."
"I didn't know you wanted to see me alone," I spoke quickly. "You could have called, y'know."
He aimed me along the side of the house. I could see his bike, hidden in the shrubs near the front of the long, curved driveway. Sleek, it looked fast, painted a dark red and black. Perfect... His arm was still steady. I ignored the fear that made all of my body tremble, knowing it had been pointed at me the whole time. Think, I raged at myself.
"You changed your number," he snapped. "Shut up until we get on the bike."
"My Dad's the head of police in Washington. This is a really bad idea, trying to abduct me." I was babbling, because talking was the only thing I could do. Reminding him that influential people would look for me seemed like a good plan.
"Shut up," he cautioned me again. "I know all about your Dad, your redneck little town in the middle of nowhere. He has no jurisdiction here. Don't think that he's going to swoop in and save you."
No, that would be me. Or Edward, if I could find a way to let him know what was happening.
"Hold your wrists out in front of you."
I hesitated and he leveled the gun at my forehead. "Do not test me, Bella."
My arms shook, but I held them out. And when he aimed the barrel in the air, pulling out a long piece of rope, I knocked it aside with my wrists. I used his body as a shield, pulling him in front of me in case the gun went off as it hit the ground. The first time I screamed, my voice was hoarse with fear. I tried again, then louder as I screamed Edward's name.
Jamie took a solid blow to his chin, but my head flew to the side when he backhanded me. Rage chased fear away. I reached up, knowing it was his neck I had framed in my hands. Digging my nails in, I wrapped my leg around his waist and tried to force him onto his back. I choked, gasping for air when something wound around my throat. He jerked me to the side, then backwards as he scrambled back, getting to his feet. I grabbed the rope with my hands, trying to get a few seconds worth more of air...
Pressure rose, the darkness terrifying as it made my stomach roll, my mind exploding with the intense urge to fight. I couldn't tell up from down, whether I was laying down or still being dragged across the lawn. My nails raked over grass, catching on nothing solid enough to help me. Edward, I'm sorry. I don't want to die... But without air, I couldn't scream for him anymore. I was barely aware of the concrete, sliding roughly over the side of my cheek. Rage burned inside me, but I couldn't make my body move. There was a flash of brilliant pain- I hung on, knowing I was seconds away from needing to succumb ... I didn't want to die this way...
The world spun a few times. I jolted out of the darkness, terrified because I didn't know how much time had passed in between my black-outs. Not much, it seemed. I went from breathing in dust, the driveway stones hurting my face, to sitting up, rage burning when I felt smacks collide with my cheek.
"Get the fuck up!"
Can't. I couldn't even speak, my tongue feeling swollen. It was all I could do to cling to consciousness. Jamie grunted, picking me up off the ground. Dead weight, I wanted to smile, but my lips didn't feel as though they moved. He straddled his large motorcycle, hurting me several times as he got my torso aligned with his, my legs around the seat.
"Help me, Bella. I'll let you fall once we reach the highway if I have to choose between you or me."
"Then," I panted, prepared to vomit with all of the jerky movements, "you shouldn't have hit me so many times."
"There you are." I focused my bleary vision, feeling confused and numb when he smiled. "I need you to remember this. Can you hear me?" He tipped my chin back so I could see him. "If we get pulled over, I'll shoot you in the head before I go back to jail."
"Stop threatening me." I was forced to cough as the sides of my throat felt as though they rubbed against one another.
"You'll be fine," he kissed the top of my head. "You'll see, soon as I know we've gotten away."
The bike started. I doubled over, the vibration not helping to calm my stomach. Jamie put his arms underneath mine, using his elbows to push me back against his chest. His legs framed mine, pushing them painfully against the side of his bike.
"Don't test me." Nodding, I let him know that I'd heard over the engine noise.
I closed my eyes and struggled to breathe, hoping Edward had heard me scream. Once my body righted itself, we would be near the highway. My head pounded with sharp bursts of pain, I couldn't stand seeing things flying past us. What I wanted to do was sleep, not struggle to hang onto consciousness. What could I do with him speeding toward the highway? Jamie really would let me fall. I had no doubt that he'd kill me before the cop got out of his car were I to flag attention.
Once we were on solid ground... Jamie could drag me inside? No, I couldn't let that happen. Best case. I'd get away and be back in bed with Edward before he woke up. Worst case, Edward would wake up without me next to him and... unleash hell. I groaned inside, not able to feel parts of my body. My legs were numb from the knee down. I had lost all sensation in my fingers, my hands. Most of my arms to the elbow. I kept them as Jamie had said, not wanting to die because I scraped across pavement. Panic made breathing even more difficult. I needed a game plan.
… how had I been so incurably stupid?
Edward's Point of View
Fear crawled its way up through my stomach, clogging in my throat. I couldn't breathe, but there was a gun... Alice's fingers dug into my thigh. She wasn't moving. Was it the death grip I'd heard about? Had James fired the gun? I was waiting to hear it, every part of my being braced... hoping my body would know to turn, pull Alice to the ground. But had he fired it already? I couldn't look away from him. Emotions I couldn't name broke, leaving me feeling vulnerable, reckless, suicidal, completely calm, and yet terrified all at the same time. Alice was so thin. How had I not realized it-?
'Edward?' I heard Alice's voice, the surprise in her tone... 'What happened?'
My wrist felt hot, then my fingers. I looked down and saw red. She leaned forward, her shoulder touching my hand. I felt sick, parts of me wanting to jerk backwards and away from the horrifying scene. There was a moment of clarity when I realized that it hadn't happened that way. But it felt so real... had everything else been a dream? Protecting Alice with my body, I knelt down in front of her. I couldn't see where she had been shot, but there was so much blood... It was slick and sticky, dripping down my fingers, smearing across the palm of my hand.
Alice, no- Stay with me! Don't close your eyes!'
'I want her, Edward.' James was still somewhere behind me. 'I want her...'
'Never,' I held Alice and frantically tried to stop the bleeding. 'You'll never have her. She's mine.' I couldn't feel any wound, just blood gushing from somewhere underneath her shoulder... Not her heart, I refused to acknowledge where- it couldn't be her heart.
She opened her eyes. Brown. Hard and vicious, nearly black, then fearful. It was Bella, not Alice. She wasn't curled in against my chest, I held her in my arms. ''Help me,' I read her lips, not hearing any sound. I heard her scream, but... it wasn't a noise. It had become a feeling, suffocating me-
I needed to get the sheets off me, now. Sweating, my heart pounding, I let my eyesight adjust as I looked from corner to corner. Bella wasn't next to me. Why? The word was a snarl, I automatically pulled on a shirt.
"I don't care what you're doing. If you're in the house, Bella, yell or something."
Eerie quiet. There was no way she could have been taken as I slept next to her. Grabbing the gun, pocketing my wallet and phone, I checked to make sure the bathroom was empty. What the fuck was going on? I felt trapped in the midst of a terrible nightmare, disoriented, knowing there was something very bad happening, yet not knowing where, or when... who it involved.
Where the fuck were Rosalie's guards? I hadn't heard any gun-shots. Even drugged, I had found seconds of alertness when I heard a gun discharge. If no one had been shot, or shot to kill... where the fuck was everyone!? A scream broke through the silence. Only instinct kept me from pulling the front door open, making me an easy mark. No, dread curled in my stomach. I took the steps three at a time, catching myself on the railing as the narrower bottom stair made me trip. Which direction? Around the hedges toward their driveway, or toward the street, making a right around the side of their house? Scream again, Bella, I didn't want to waste time running the wrong way.
An engine started. The last fucking thing I wanted to hear. I skidded to a stop in the driveway, staring at the cars.
"You son of a bitch," I growled. The back two tires of my car were flat. Without tools, I couldn't get into the family's SUV. Running down the driveway, I saw headlights disappear. They had made a right, I needed to see which way they went on the highway. My lungs burned, I pushed my body to the limit getting to the street end. Worse than New York, the block seemed to stretch forever. My worst fucking nightmare. Please... fuck, please, I had to know where they were headed. I knew it was Jamie, the guy everyone feared. And I knew Bella was with him. All the same, I would have given ten years of my life to hear her yelling, running after me in complete confusion.
'You paranoid freak,' I could hear her already. 'What are you doing?'
Jamie whizzed over two lanes, merging into the one that would take them toward Chandler. Two riders on the back of a motorcycle. He had both arms around her, holding the bike's handlebars. Her head rested on his shoulder... strangely. The angle was odd, as though he were pulling her head back and down... There was no way for me to get a clear shot.
Would she try to fight Jamie for control? Not on the bike, Bella wasn't that reckless. If she could fight, she would. I trusted that much, at least. Cold sweat beaded on my forehead. I didn't know where to go. There was no reason to head back toward the house. Flicking the safety on, I concealed the gun again. Was there any point to making my way down toward the highway? Indecision sickened me, my rational side making points that took me further from finding Bella.
Walking alongside the highway had gotten me and Alice chased by two cops. Being arrested before I found Bella and Jamie... the thought made my blood freeze. Fucking Phoenix, I knew nothing about the state. Nobody was going to stop for a crazed-looking hitchhiker, and I had no hope of following them beyond the highway. I hoped to fuck that Bella wasn't unconscious. What else could I fucking do?
I almost dropped my phone, pulling it out of my pocket. An unknown number.
"Who is this?"
"Where's Bella?" I heard Rosalie, her voice louder than mine.
"Gone, toward Chandler," I replied. "Where are you?"
"Five minutes away. Are you after them?"
"He slashed my tires, I couldn't. Get here faster."
"How did he get her?"
"I don't know."
"How don't you know?!"
"... I was sleeping."
"You were what?"
"Don't," I snarled into the phone. "Not right now. I'll explain later. Do you know where Jamie would go?"
"I need to hang up."
"I'm not at the house. You'll see me before you make the turn onto your street."
"Emmett sees you." She hung up on me.
Now I could see them. Headlights and a red Jeep, the gold, blonde of Rosalie's hair. I paced, impatience, rage, and fear making me feel like a crazy person. For the next ten minutes, at least, Bella was safe enough. Rose could call her contacts and have them watch for a motorcycle coming through the area. Thanks to Alice and her interest in breathing techniques, I closed my eyes and held onto calm. My heart stopped racing, the light-headedness slowly faded. I took a deep breath before the Jeep pulled to a stop and found enough self-control to remain calm.
"We need to stop at home," Rosalie announced over the engine, "I need to get my backup phone. Jamie has mine."
Emmett glanced back at me in the rear-view mirror. "Four guys tried to pick a fight with us on the way out of Victoria's building. I think one of them lifted the phone."
"What happened to my crew?" Rose asked sharply, knuckles white as she gripped the seat.
"There was no one around when I went tearing after Bella."
"Your parents?" she turned suddenly and grabbed Emmett's thigh.
"Not home, babe. They won't be back 'til later."
She was out of the Jeep before it stopped. "Get my shit from inside? I need to check and see what happened-" I followed Emmett into the house, using the time to grab more of what I had brought with me. The gun was really comforting, I itched to have the chance to use it.
"A poker game?!" I heard Rosalie screech. "Of the fucking six of you I had stay here, to guard the fucking house, only three-" Fighting sounds replaced the stunned silence.
A poker game? Jamie had managed to sneak around the property because the guards were slackers? Judging from Rose's tone, and the loud scuffling sounds coming from their backyard, Rosalie had the situation under control. It wasn't my business, I had to remind myself. There was enough I needed to deal with without ripping the guards apart. That would happen after I got Bella back. Save energy, my murderous side whispered. Deal with them later, after the big fight.
Jamie had taken Bella. I smelled her on the black shirt I shrugged into. My pants and boots were black, they would hide the blood he shed once I found him.
"Victoria's watching for Jamie," Rose said, wiping blood off her hands, "but I'm sure he's not going back to the suits. The people I have looking for him are prepared to do what they need to get Bella back."
"Why did he have guards?"
"I've learned that his parents are being transferred from prison to house arrest. Jamie was going to meet up with them. The plan apparently-"
Emmett walked into the kitchen carrying a car charger. It looked like he had a personal moment, watching Rose rinse a blood-stained hand towel in the sink. "Are there bodies outside?" he asked carefully.
"No. They left." She turned to me, "You'll have new tires in the next ten minutes. They're not stolen, and its the least I could... I really can't say how sorry... I mean, this fuck-up is on me. I should have known better."
"I shouldn't have fallen asleep. Where are we going?" I asked, impatient to start combing the streets.
"I don't know where we should be going, yet." Rose said, listening to the phone prompts as she pressed buttons. "I need my numbers."
I didn't care about how Bella had slipped past me. It didn't matter how she got out of the house. All that mattered to me was that Jamie had her. They could have gotten to his destination in the time it was taking us to just start trying to find him. Rose and Emmett went into their bedroom. My pacing was driving Rose up a wall, but I had to keep moving. If I stopped, I'd start hitting things. It had been wise of her to send the guards away. They had fucked up, in a really, really bad way, but they were still her people. I respected Rose enough to honor that.
Another unknown number. It had to be Jamie.
"Why are you calling me?" I answered, raising the volume and putting my phone on speaker so Rose would hear.
"Take me off speakerphone. The only person I want to talk to is you, Edward Cullen. Don't try to fuck me."
"How do you know my name?" I wasn't 'Edward Cullen' in Bella's directory.
"As it turns out, we have history. Thank you for coming to Arizona, I lost track of you when you escaped to New York."
My mouth went dry, I felt the walls of Rose's room close in around me. "While you were arrested in Florida for crimes against children." At least my voice didn't waver. I was too pissed to sound weak. "I know you as James, don't I."
Rose ran into the room, stopping abruptly when I motioned for her to be quiet. The volume was loud enough for everyone to hear without speakerphone mode on.
"I didn't know anything about the videos my parents were making. They were having some issues in their marriage, what can I say? It was no one's business, until you and your little brat bitch brought trouble to my door." He reined his anger back, speaking in a more even tone,"You're going to be very useful to me, or I'm going to do unspeakably awful things to your girlfriend."
Moving around the bedroom, I rifled through Bella's bag until I found paper and a pen. 'Call Alice. Tell her to have Jay arm up and wait at the house. I'll call soon. Just precaution.' I passed it to Rose. She nodded and left to make the call.
"What do you want?"
"Bella," the voice laughed. "And for you to know that I have her."
Ice curled in my stomach, disbelief turned into rage. "Now I know," I replied.
"The funny thing is," James spoke over me, "I was over Bella. She wanted to leave, without letting me know... fine. And then, guess who I see? You with Bella. You've come a long way, Edward Cullen. I've had time to do some digging. You have it all in Washington, don't you? I have nothing because of you."
There were scuffling sounds. I heard heavy panting, a chair being scraped across the ground. Someone whimpered and I knew it wasn't an animal. The voice was louder, more maniacal. "Tell Edward how it hurts," low laughter. "Tell him to avenge you. Tell him!"
Panting, someone snarled.
Angry breathing, I was holding my breath to hear anything Bella could give me.
"You left me and brought back street trash?! How many times did I tell you? Hmm? I'm all you need."
"Alright! You've made your point," I cut in before he grew any more incensed. "You've got her, okay? What do you want from me?"
I knew enough about abusive people to know that the longer he stayed on topic, the more angry he would become. Fuck! Bella was trapped with him? The chair slid back across the floor. Footsteps. A door slammed.
"I've got money," I said, trying to keep desperation from being heard. "How much were you hoping to get?"
"I want more than money."
"Trade her for me."
Everything was so quiet... I pictured a small room. It wasn't a house, unless it were abandoned. There couldn't be neighbors around, not with the way he had been shrieking. I didn't hear any echoes, no floorboards creaking.
"I wouldn't have spent this much time on someone who isn't useful to me. Brains and beauty in... our Bella-babe. Connections through you. The New York friends, you remember them, right? It would be a shame for all of my careful research to be pointless."
"... what about them?"
"I need a new identity. One that will fool anyone who wants to look into my past. You know people who specialize in fakes. I'm thinking diplomatic immunity."
He was insane. "The fake ID won't be a problem. Diplomatic immunity? That's not fucking possible-"
"You'd make me the fucking president if it would save her!"
There was a long silence. I felt myself gripping the phone as though I could keep him from hanging up.
"Fine. Get me twenty thousand in cash, the fake ID and papers… make sure I have a gun license. I'm armed and plan on staying that way. I'll arrange my own transportation. Get me out of the country, I'll give her to you in one piece."
I barely kept myself from snorting. How considerate of him. "Done."
"You're so cooperative," he laughed. "I love making you wait. You'll wait to hear from me, won't you? I want to hear you say it."
"When will I be hearing from you?"
"I had plenty of time to plot and make friends, doing time for charges you helped stack against me. Say it right, Edward."
Ungritting my teeth, I braced my hand against the wall to keep from putting my fist through it. "I will be waiting to hear from you, James. When will I get the call?"
"Nine am. Bella and I have some catching up to do."
"If you hurt her-"
"I won't violate your girl. Unless you try to fuck me over."
"You show me she's fine, in person, I give you the shit. No drop off point, no messenger bullshit. You give me Bella, then you walk away and you never bother us again."
"How do I know the papers will pass inspection?" he asked, very business-like.
"I know good people, and I won't fuck around with you holding Bella. How do I know she's going to stay alive?"
There was a rustling sound and I heard deep even breathing. "She fell asleep. I've nothing to do for the next few hours. I think I'll go out and find someone fresh," he said to himself. There was a pause, I hard him breathe in. "When she wakes up, I'll make sure not to damage her if you give me proof that my ID is secure."
"Do not call me for anything. If you call, she bleeds. You meet me with what I want or I'll leave you pieces of Bella." I think he actually giggled. "I love winning for a change. How does it feel, Cullen?"
The line disconnected.
"Do you really know people that will help you?" Rose asked, barely waiting for me to hang up. "We have a lot to talk about later."
"Yes," I replied. "And yes, I know we do."
"Good. You call them, I'll try to track Bella down. Do you have the twenty g's?"
"I've got that, too."
"Okay." She took a deep breath. "Are you okay? Are you going to hold it together?"
"I'll be fine. You two?"
Emmett nodded, looking worried, but prepared to jumpstart into action should he need to. Rose hesitated, but she flipped her phone open and left, Em following. "Shout if there are any updates."
I heard their bedroom door slam. What the fuck was happening? The room spun for a moment, I felt dazed, sinking down onto the corner of the bed. What was the game-plan here? What was I doing, looking through names in my phone? They meant nothing as I processed what had happened. What was I looking for? New York, I needed to find someone... 'Get your shit together!' The enraged inner voice jolted me back. Before the debilitating rage broke through, I started at 'A' again and found the number I had been looking for.
Aro. He wouldn't have left New York, not with the cash he pulled in doing what he did. I didn't exactly consider him a friend, though I kept his number because he had always been down to make some easy cash. I couldn't think about whether he had changed his number, if he were still alive. Pressing the Call button, I held my breath. It rang! Fuck yes! Now, I just needed him to pick up.
"Who the fuck is this?" It was him. The deep voice, wariness.
"Edward Brandon. You owe me a favor, I'm collecting."
"... I don't know any Edward whoeverthefuck, aight? You must have gotten your lines crossed, or-"
"You know exactly who I am." I felt my patience start to snap. "If you make me pay you a visit, I will fuck with all your shit."
I might not have seen him in years, but I could picture him clearly in my head. Grubby, three gold teeth, on the skinny side, a skinhead turned white rapper type after he spent a few months in jail- I stopped regretting that I'd helped him once I learned what it was he did. I stepped in for him and kept three guys from jacking the bag he was carrying. He said he'd pay for my help... and it took me a week to track him down after he ran. From there, it went pretty smoothly. We had business off and on, for years. The last job I helped him with, I let Aro keep my share of the cut in return for a favor owed. I knew Alice and I weren't going to be in the area for much longer. It made sense to keep a master of fakes on my call list.
"Yeah, Edward. Alright, alright! I remember you now, man. Take it easy. What do you need?"
"You still do what you used to do?"
"Me? Naw, yo, I- … Look, I know I owe you a favor, but-"
Did he not know that I would tear him apart? I'd wear his fucking intestines as a belt. I couldn't get to New York, not before the deadline for Bella hit. He needed to work with me and I had no leverage.
"Do you need me to remind you why it is you owe me a favor?"
He sighed heavily. "You crazy m'fucker. You'd really come back, wouldn't you. Fuck, man... I don't talk about shit over the phone."
"If I could be there, I would be. This phone is untraceable."
"No, no. Don't come here, man. Fine. What kind of papers you need?"
"Enough for a working, new identity. A gun license. Papers to get someone out of the country."
Aro whistled low and sucked his teeth in. "That's a big favor."
"You owe me a big favor," I snarled. "Then we're even. I won't contact you again."
"I'll do my best. I cant guarantee anything, you know that."
"They've got someone I… fucking care about, Aro. You think I was fucked up before? If she dies because you delegated to some incompetent fuck, I will be coming after you."
"I don't know what the fuck you just said. But a'ight. Seriously, calm your shit down. Trigger-happy fuck. I'll have what you need in a few days. What are the specs?"
"I don't have a few days. I've got eight hours, Aro."
"You're askin' me to move the world for you. For nothin." He groaned, sighing. "Where you at?"
"I'm in New York, bro. You realize this?"
"A'ight, look. Im'a hook you up. I got a cousin in Las Vegas. I'll get him to do the work for you. He's been doin' this for thirty years, cool? The job'll be better than what I could do."
"Have him call me after you contact him."
"We're even now, hear me?"
"Even," I replied. "I don't have time to kill with this project. I needed results an hour ago, y'know what I mean?"
"I feel you. The last thing I want is you ragin' 'round here again. I'll get your shit."
Another call ended. Full battery still, I stared at the four white bars. I hated having to trust people that wouldn't ordinarily be trustworthy. Anyone in my phone from New York knew what I would do if they failed me. If I said I'd do something, it was done. That included threats.
It looked like I was heading back to Las Vegas. Walking through the house again, I knocked on Rose's door before opening it. "I need to borrow the Jeep. I've got to go and get the papers Jamie wants."
"Your car's tires have been changed. I'll text you with a location when I have one. Drive like hell and get there when I do."
"Of course I will."
"Edward?" I turned at her hesitant tone. "How do you know Jamie?"
"That's a long story." I said, impatient to get on the road. "I'll tell it once we get Bella back."
"I'm only asking because... Is Bella in more danger now that Jamie knows you're with her?"
"Not for the next nine hours." Rose nodded, motioning that we'd talk later. "Do you know how Jamie got here? When?"
"He came into town a few months before Bella did. I think he was drawn to her because they were both new kids. I don't know how he got here, but I know he was staying with a relative for a while before they kicked him out. I had his old place searched. He's not there."
"Fuck. Okay. Call me with updates?"
I was going to be breaking all sorts of speeding violations, again. Getting a ticket for talking on my phone was the least of my worries. GPS set, three-quarters tank of gas, I'd get there. I took it easy going through the main roads, but once I hit the highway, that was it.
My phone buzzed as I left the city. I fumbled to pick up, "Yeah. Edward here."
"I hear you need some pretty big work done."
"Aro said he was calling in a favor?" I verified.
"Yeah." He sounded thrilled about it. "I know the other details. What's the guy look like?"
"Do you know what security's like nowadays? I've got shit to do today." I didn't trust myself to speak. He had shit to do today?
"Six foot, short blonde hair, gray eyes," I fabricated, hoping I remembered right. James had longer hair when I'd known him. Chances were, he had it cut in jail. If he hadn't, it wasn't my problem.
"If you're not here for the pick up by five this mornin', you're outta luck, man. I don't pass on pussy to repay a family favor."
"Between the bitch's legs, where the fuck you think?"
"... … No. Where," I resisted the urge to pound my fist against the steering wheel. "Where am I meeting you?"
"Oh. Got something to write with?"
What the- … unfuckingreal. I put the address into my GPS. "I'll be there before five."
"This is a lotta fucking work done for fucking free. Appreciate me, motherfucker."
He hung up on me, too. I accelerated past ninety, not worried when there was nothing but open road in front of me. One-ten, my car wasn't shaking or shuddering. Everything was falling down around me... I gripped the steering wheel and fumbled for my cigarettes.
What did I need to do? After picking up the papers from Aro's cousin, I'd get back to Rose's and... what? Wait for James to call? Unless Rosalie heard something and texted me an address. Or if Bella managed to get away... my stomach clenched again as I realized how unsteady all of the plans were. I wasn't even sure Bella was okay. But Bella was always okay, wasn't she? With James? Conscience-less, child molester who has an intense need to get revenge on you? And on Bella for 'leaving him?'
Alice, I remembered suddenly. Fuck. She was going to flip the Fuck out. I hooked my Bluetooth in, stunned to see how badly my hands were shaking. "Call Alice."
It rang twice. "Edward? Thank goodness... what the fuck is going on? Why does Jay need a gun, 'just in case?'"
"It's a long story- Um, the bottom line? I need you to wire me twenty grand."
"… what did you- what happened? You've been gone for less than-"
"Ali, please. Please don't fuck with me right now. I need you to-"
"Twenty thousand dollars, I heard. Let me check and see how I'm going to get that much to you. In Arizona." I heard the clicking of keys from a keyboard as she continued to mumble disbelieving comments. It was an oddly comforting sound. "Western Union only allows twenty thousand dollar transfers if you have a business. They need ID and papers that say where the money's coming from."
"Fuck. What about… Money something? They're like Western Union, but-"
"MoneyGram?" More keyboard sounds. "I can only send three thousand a day."
"I could use our bank account, but it'd take at least three or four days to get to you."
Shit. Fuck. PayPal was my last hope. No one in New York who owed me a favor could get money to me. My credit card would give me three thousand in cash. I couldn't withdraw sixteen thousand dollars from an ATM. They'd freeze my account before I got anywhere near a grand. Which wouldn't matter in the slightest because all of the money I had was useless! Plastic or otherwise, I was beyond fucked.
"Monthly transfer limit of ten thousand a month. There's a hold of three to four business days.
Fuck you PayPal. "Go max limit for any of the money transfer things I can pickup in the next few hours. Have them sent to a Receive station in Chandler, Arizona. I'll call you back in ten, okay?"
"I'm safe, Alice. I promise. I'm handling things."
"…I love you."
I knew how much it took for her not to launch into me. She was worried, rightfully so. I hadn't exactly been delicate in asking for what I needed.
"Love you, too." It took me a second to realize that the call hadn't ended. I checked my phone, seconds were still ticking away. "Alice?"
"Was there something else?"
"You sound upset, I didn't want to hang up on you. You hate that."
"Fuck me. I really love you, Alice."
"I love you, too. Call me back, okay? Please call me back, Edward."
"I will. I definitely will, I promise."
Saying goodbye gave this whole situation a tragic feeling. She would understand why I ended the call without saying it. My mind gave me two seconds before sending me into the beginning of true panic. Oh my fucking god, Bella was going to die because I was an asshole who hadn't brought money.
Alright. This was fine. It would be fine. I had three thousand in my suitcase, a thousand in my wallet. I could get nine hundred from the MoneyGram thing. If I used my card, I'd have three more. Twelve thousand to pull out of nowhere.
"Do you have access to twelve thousand dollars?"
"I can get you five. The rest won't be available by the time we need to get Bella."
"Rosalie-" I choked on the panic that rose into the back of my throat.
"I know one thing that might help... if it doesn't get you killed."
"What would I be doing?"
"There's an underground fight tonight."
I remembered Bella mentioning something about... specifically not going to the fight. She was worried it would rekindle the urge to test my fighting skill for money. My conscience raged, yelling at me with Alice's voice. "How much is in the pot?"
"Betting stood at nine grand to the winner, yesterday."
We only needed seven. "How do I enter?"
"Turn the fuck around. Now. If we're doing this, you have an hour to get in and be ready. You won't make it if you go all the way to Las Vegas."
"Excuse me? Who the fuck d'you-"
"Not you," I interrupted hastily. "Fuck! Alright. Do you have someone trustworthy to pick up the papers for me? They've got to be there by five in the morning. Tell them to use the name Edward Brandon."
"That's more than enough time. Address?"
I read the destination while making a wide U-turn in the middle of the road.
"I'm on it, give me two minutes."
This was getting better and better. So much for being safe. But it was worth it. I needed both the money and the papers. Alice had helped all she could. Rosalie was going all out. Bella would, well, she would be with me soon… and I knew she would have done the same thing for me.
"Alright. You should actually pass them on your way back."
"How can you get me in on a scheduled fight?"
"I opted out of having a man in the fights. It's not just money that the victor wins, it's territory, too. When three of the main gang leaders here entered, they wagered more than just cash. If you're willing to represent our gang, small as it is, you'd be fighting for us. Is that okay with you?"
"What other choice is there?" I asked rationally. "What does it mean for you if I lose?"
"If you lose… all of us are out. Literally. Anyone entering risks their territory, which is why I didn't enter." Rosalie sounded nervous. Throughout these two entirely fucked up days, Rose had been steady and in control. She didn't waver in making a decision that would help Bella.
"The winner, if they win all, could come after you anyway. Might as well take the chance now, right? Unless you have a better fighter?"
"You're fighting for Bella's life. You think any of my guys have that spark under their ass?" Her tone was logical again, not nervous in the slightest. "I'll gather the information, you focus on getting here."
"You're sure you want to risk this?"
"Is there another choice?" Rose was putting a lot of faith in me. Little gangs, the winner would also get a huge rep increase if he took out all of his competition.
"What are the rules?"
"You've done this before," Rose remarked.
"No guns. That's the only rule. I don't know whose fighting, I'll try and get information on them."
"Thanks." Alice was calling me. Fuck.
"Get here. I'll make the call and get you in."
"See you in twenty."
Shit. Missed the call. I dialed the number myself, hung up when it went straight to voice-mail, waited long as my nerves could stand, and then called again.
"You said ten minutes. I don't mean to interrupt, but I have no idea what's going on. A lot can happen in ten minutes..."
"I know. I know it can. I'm okay, Alice. I was talking to Rose... I was just about to call you back."
"Why do you need twenty thousand dollars? Why, Edward? Can I help at all? What's going on?"
"Long story short?"
"Bella was taken by someone who wants twenty thousand dollars and a new identity in order to flee the country."
"Taken? She was-"
"Are you by yourself? No one can hear you, can they?"
"I'm not stupid, Edward."
"I wasn't- Sorry, it's been a stressful fucking few hours."
"A new identity?" Alice mused, "Aro! Your friend from New York, the one with all the gold teeth? He's got family all over the place. Can he help you with the identity thing?"
"… I called Aro. He's got a cousin that's helping me, here."
"You brought a ton of money with you. Rosalie, Bella's friend, is in a gang or something, right? That's where you made all of your money. She's got to have some stashed away somewhere. Between the two of you, you're covered, right?"
"What does that mean?" Her voice went hard and flat, "Edward… you'd better not lie to me."
"You're sure you want to hear the truth?"
"I'm short seven grand. There's this small fight thing that'll-"
"No! Do you remember how many times- goddamnit, Edward! I'll get the money to you. If I have to create twenty new identities for me, I'll get you the money through one of the money transfer things."
"And have it all be traced back to you? We'll all go to jail, Alice."
"Do you remember how many times you almost died?"
"I didn't, did I? Besides, I can't let you-"
"Go to jail? No? But it's okay if you die?"
When she put it like that… I couldn't think of anything logical to say. "I'll be back, Alice."
"Don't make promises you can't keep," she repeated what I made her learn. "You'd better do it anyway, though. You need to be okay. I need to know that you're coming home and that you aren't going to be put in a ditch somewhere in the desert."
"Promise me! Promise, or I'll be on the next flight-"
"You can't come here." If James were to see Alice, I had no idea what would happen... but it would be really, really bad.
"I can do what I damn please, and, Edward? You're going to be fighting, how dare you tell me-"
"That's not how I meant it! It'd be dangerous for you here. Please don't book any flights. I need to know that you're safe, at least. I'm fucking losing it, Ali. If I don't know you're safe, at home with Jasper..."
"Then promise me that you'll be back."
"I promise," I replied. "I'm coming back with Bella and we'll tell you all about this massively cluster-fucked situation then."
"Call me before you fight, and after. Promise, Edward."
"I'll call, Alice. I swear it."
"Edward..." Her voice broke. "... please come home."
"... I'll call you, Ali. I promise. You'll hear from me in an hour or so."
I had to hang up, ignoring the way the road blurred for a few seconds. Now was not the time to let emotions take over. I let thoughts of Aro and his cousin go as I pushed the car back to one hundred mph. Getting Alice out of my head wasn't as easy. The car shook at one-fifteen and I dropped it back to a steady one-ten. James was the cause for all of this, I gripped the steering wheel and took deep breaths. I was going to kill him for it.
Authors End Note-
A year later+ I finally have another chapter done. Sorry, all, it's been a crazy year. Lots of personal writing done, though, which I can't apologize for. I do apologize that it's been such a long time since I updated. Thanks to anyone who put me on their Favorites or Watch List. I hope to see reviewers return, new people who find the story and like it.
Authors End Note 2:
^_^ Very high compliments from you!
Bearygirl, katelyndc, tiffanyashm, 1dreamkeeper, clumsylamb, MrsJasperWhitlock2009, Sauntfudge, EdwardsBrunette2, DiniaSteel, Frances, Biggestsmile, Soccormom101113, Joanna, Mistre11, Smilingchrissy, TheRealMC, DarnDustBunnies, Twinmomma, Enn1901, Malia81167, Manor88, PencilCase, Shiba-san- I'm sorry that I didn't write back to all of you. I love all of your reviews and hope to hear from you again. I recognize a lot of names and I'll try to be more thorough in my replies for the next chapter! (Which should definitely be less than a year in happening.)
That's coming, next chapter. I'm not sure when Edward's going to meet Phil, but I do plan on tying all the loose ends in HB soon as I can. Thank you for your reviews!
Jamie's in. Haha. In big ways soon. Rosalie is a lot of fun to write. I like her as a character a lot. Thanks for reviewing! I hope to see you for Chapter 51..
Thanks for PM'ing, =). The Rosalie-and-Emmett visit Forks idea didn't pan out. At least not yet anyway. Bella is a fire bug, haha. Fire is fun when its contained-ish, =p.
Thank you for reviewing. I like writing back to them, and yours are great! Thanks for pointing that out. I think I went back and fixed that, I'll check. Jamie and James are the same person, yes. I don't think it'll end in two chapters. Maybe four... I have a lot that I want to address, plus a chapter or two that ties everything in. =)
Thank you! Having Emmett around amuses me because... he really has no idea what to do, but he's ready to do anything he can to help. He's an all-around good guy, wanting to protect Rose. And he keeps getting thrown into bad situations, haha. Makes me happy that he doesn't run.
Your s/n always makes me smile. Confrontation is definitely coming. I don't know how, or how it's going to go down, but... I want it to be good. Lol.
Your reviews are never crappy. I had a dentist appointment a few days ago. I know yours was last December. Lolol. Nitrous is fun? It's been so long since I updated HB. I need to go back and edit them all again. I've learned more writing-wise. As for your question about whether people actually live that way... In my experience, maybe not so severely, but... yes? Lol. My high-school wasn't a fun place to be. Life has calmed down a lot for me, but instincts I learned during those years are still with me. It makes me see 'normal' people a different way, though I could be considered relatively 'normal' at this point, too. Moving out of the area helped a lot, too. HB was my way of... I don't know, getting all the rage and frustration from those years out... moving on, etc, though I didn't face nearly as much as my E and B do in HB.
James is back, yup! The suits following him are probably guards of some kind- who failed- to keep him from doing what he's done. I'm not sure whether Victoria will play any further role in the story. I hope to see you in Chapter 51!
Wow, it's been a long time. How have you been? Christmas is right around the corner again. Seeing commercials in October for X-mas depressed me. Lol. Edward might meet Phil. I can't see why he wouldn't. In Chapter 52, maybe? The wind-down...
Rosalie went above and beyond in this chapter. Sorry for the long update time...
Wow, long review. Thank you! I'm happy you decided to check out HB. =). I enjoy writing lemons, but I didn't want it to become a smut fic. That's 'Switches,' haha. I love reviewers. They motivate me to write, and write better. Thank you again for yours. Made my day, =D.
Nope, I purposefully used 'Jamie' in relation to Bella and 'James' for Edward and Alice. I wasn't sure if they would be the same person, but it worked out the way I wanted. Lol. I just have to figure out what happened to him during those months that brought him from FL to AZ..
I have a lot of editing to do. I've got to fix Edward's age, possibly Alice's. Jamie and Edward would be the same age. I should have made a time-line. That's next on my list of things to do. Lol.
You've read it more than once? Wow. Thank you! There are sick and twisted people in the world, =/. In HB I get to beat them, lolol. I'll definitely be adding more pictures. I love finding them.
Thank you so much, especially for rec'ing it to people! Your compliments were very kind. Thanks again, Angela! I hope to hear from you again.
Hi! E and Rose are alpha types, but Edward is capable of being rational. Not to mention, he wouldn't do well in fighting a chick. I couldn't have them hate one another. Rose needed a little time to make up her mind. You called it on the subconscious remembering. That's what I was going for, =). In his dream, too, somehow knowing Bella needed help.
I remember when I could update once a week. I want those days back. Lol. Energy was so good all of the time. 'sigh. I've been trying to put together a second story. I might, but I have to finish this one first. The second would be college, yes. Or the summer before college started. All of HB takes place from September to November. A lot happened in two-three months, lol. From June to late August could be fun to write.
Thank you so much for your review! I hope to be published soon. I've been working on a few other stories, but... HB got everything. Lol. Jake is definitely not interested in Bella. He might have been, yet now they're nothing but friends. He respects her, and how could he not? I respect my Bella, too. Lol. Edward more, and I wouldn't want to go up against him. Thank you, thank you! A lot for recommending it to people. =D.
Your review was amazing. Thank you!
Hey, Janine! Thanks! =).
I understood what you wrote and I can understand why you wouldn't be searching for dominance or submission. Feeling strains of sadism in a rational and good-natured person, strange as that sounds, is exciting to me. To submit, I need to know that they won't lose it, or get the sense that they want to hurt me in ways I don't want to be hurt. I wanted to find someone stronger, who I won't try to manipulate... and I trust him because there's reason to. The sense of self isn't obliterated, at least not in my case. My life-me tends to run rampant, aggressive instead of submissive. My need for pain can rise and make me short with people, looking for excuses to release the energy in dangerous ways. Ways that aren't dangerous when I channel it into s/m. It's muted for a while with him. I always know who I am, the limits I've set. From what you wrote, you were surrounded by enforced submission. Breathing time, adjusting to life away from that is a good thing. =)
Thank you for the apostrophe advice. I've always had problems with them. And comma use. I'll try to fix that when I go back to edit.
Agreed! Thanks for the compliment! Send me a link and I'll check it out, =D. What do you mean by backspace? I haven't been able to find any way to post links without using the..
I hate being repetitive in reviews, but... thank you so much! It was February when you reviewed, but I hope to hear from you again! The other stories make me cringe, lol. Switches and Subs is the only other recent fic. The others are from years ago, before I knew grammar rules for writing... ugh. HB is the longest story I've ever written. Purging, for the win? Thank you so much, again, for your review!
I love hearing the word 'real' and 'human' in reviews. Means I'm doing my job. =D. You feel toughness from Alice? That's not something I've heard before. I love her character. It makes writing Protective-Edward easier. She's sweet. Thank you for what you wrote, =).
When Edward worries without a ready resolution, he doesn't stop. Lol. He's very focused. I love what you wrote. Very poetic. I had to have him sleep. While he could have maintained the intensity, I don't think he would be as sound-minded.
Awesome screen name. I love the Beat writers! All your questions will be answered soon. The story is almost at an end. A few more chapters should do it!
I know the ages are confusing. I didn't plan that out well when I first started writing. Even half-way through, I hadn't admitted how serious the story had become. It wasn't, originally, just a way to vent about memories. Catharsis, in other words. Then the plot took off. I'll be editing to clear up all the confusion. The only thing I disagree with you about is the HS-mindset comment. I was a bookworm. The people I found and made friends with didn't have great stories, though they weren't 'bad.' Seeing the way they were and hearing the stories about why they became that way helped change the way I thought about life. What a wake-up call. Lol. It's funny you say they should be in a college setting. It's all about the area. My HS didn't have cliques, they had gangs and colors one should be aware of. That's not the normal HS experience, I've learned. Hahaha. Thank you for your review! You gave me a lot to watch out for when I go back to edit. =).
Your first review ever? I'm honored. Thank you so much! I definitely plan to finish both HB and SnS. You can check my blog for more writing by me: .com. Lots of s/m stuff...