The Black Balloon Contest

Title: From Within These Walls

Your pen name: ericastwilight

Characters: Edward/Bella Words: 13,184

Disclaimer:All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without their express written authorization.

**********Warning: Rape is mentioned in this story, and has graphic scenes.*************


~Edward

Day 2192:

The sounds of night did nothing to smother the dreams or nightmares. I had grown accustomed to the disturbing things that went bump in the night.

The moans of men pleasuring themselves added to my temper. The cries of those who sought pleasure from others did nothing but outrage me. Yes, the sounds here in Section B on the third floor of the FDC – SeaTac - Seattle, had an all too familiar tune.

Six years, and every night was the same. There were times where a piercing groan or wail meant the end of someone's life.

From within these walls sometimes all hope is lost, drained by the despair that was thick in the air around us. The ones that survived were those that believed and knew they hadn't belonged there.

I didn't belong here. No, I belonged in the arms of my beloved, my Isabella. To this day, I'll never regret meeting her, being a part of her life. The only thing I regret is bringing that monster to her.

A broken sob had awakened me from a pleasant dream. That sob belonged to a young man by the name of Seth Clearwater. His cellmate Sam, a lifer, was currently making sure Seth understood who was Alpha.

The guards, as usual, ignored. They were either compensated or they didn't care enough to help. I tried to ignore Jeff's grunts from the cell neighboring mine, but it was in futility.

Once the noises, the whimpers of both rape and self-gratification quelled I was able to remember a better time. All the way back to the day I had met her.

~ Six Years, Ten Months & Two Days Ago

I had been laying the forms to pour concrete for a new driveway for the past couple of hours. It was a scorching hot, so much so that the heat could be seen rippling from the asphalt. I swiped my brow as sweat trickled down my neck and back. It was well over one hundred degrees in Redmond – a first in over ten years.

My brother Jasper, James and I were chalking a line to put up more boards when a shadow cast over me.

"Hello," a sweet voice said. I looked up, finding the face was just as enchanting as the voice. She had heart-shaped face, full pink lips, lightly tanned skin, and darks curls wildly piled on top of her head. The sun glowed brightly from behind, casting a halo-like effect around her.

"I couldn't help but notice how hot it is, and you boys working so hard," she continued as a pink hue colored her cheeks. "I have some Pepsi, lemonade or iced tea."

I stood up from my crouched position and offered my hand. "Edward."

Her answering smile had warmed me instantly. "Bella." Her eyes held no fear in them; something that I had become accustomed to once someone took in my appearance. My arms, neck, back and chest were covered in colored art. Some of my piercings were visible to all, and others hidden from view.

Most people would avoid talking to me at all costs, not that I blamed them. At one point in my life, I deserved that instant judgment. I had been initiated into a gang at the tender age of thirteen.

"You don't look familiar." I said.

"Yes, I'm new to the area," she said with a timid smile. She turned and waved a hand toward the quaint blue home across the street. "That's my place over there. Do you live here?"

I shook my head as I heard the front door bang open. "Nope, that sorry ass of a man doesn't live here," Jacob said loudly, but laughed to lessen the effect of his words. "My wife and I do, though. They're just here helping me out."

Jacob clasped a hand on my shoulder and made a move to grab a soda from Bella's small tray of drinks. She slapped his hand away, causing me to roar in laughter.

"I don't see you slaving away out here!" she said in a teasing tone. She handed me the soda Jacob was going to take and made her way to Jasper. Jasper's eyes darkened for a moment, but a smile soon pulled on his lips. He'd always had trouble being able to trust people.

"I was inside taking a bathroom break," Jacob whined, following Bella. She swatted his hand away again and introduced herself to Jasper, who simply acknowledged her with a nod.

"For twenty minutes," I said with a snort. Bella giggled beautifully and shook her head. Reluctantly, she handed Jacob a glass of lemonade. James introduced himself, and even though I couldn't blame him, he was ogling Bella luridly. It bothered me, so I stomped on his foot behind Bella's back. He hissed, but grinned and shrugged.

"Do you guys do any other home repairs?"

"Ah, I get it," I said, amused as a pink tinge colored her cheeks. "You came to lure us with cold drinks to do your bidding."

Jacob laughed at Bella's shocked expression and handed her our business card.

That was just the beginning of our relationship.

__________

I was brought of my thoughts when I heard Emmett's snores turn into a roar as he turned on his cot. The man had a snore of a damn grizzly bear.

I sat up and roughly ran my hands through my hair. I was frustrated and feeling helpless. I took a notepad from under my pillow and pulled the pencil out.

It was times like these when I needed her most. I'd used that time to write.

Emmett's snores continued as I remembered my first day here when I met him.

Day One:

My thoughts were sluggish as the city whirled past the windows of the crowded transport bus. The air was thick with the smell of sweat, BO and hopelessness.

My mind had been preoccupied with the thoughts of the last time I'd seen my Bella; the anguish in her eyes, the way the tears fell like acid rain and her screams.

The screams were the worst. They weighed heavily on my very soul, threatening to shatter me. How could she survive without me? She'd been barely able to keep herself together since that night.

I tried to block out the vision. I had to.

"Edward Anthony Cullen," the stoic voice of an armed guard said. I shuffled toward him as another guard approached and handed me some clothing.

After being told the schedule I'd have to adhere to for God knows how long, I was taken to my cell.

Dark eyes watched me as I passed cell after cell, and some vulgar words expressed. I avoided eye contact, not wanting to piss anyone off yet. I held my head up high, knowing that I couldn't show weakness of any kind. If I did, I'd be someone's bitch by the end of the evening.

A low groan came from a cell, and I found a pair of wide dark eyes. He was huge, at least six-foot-three, with russet-colored skin that was taut over a muscled chest that put Jacob and myself to shame.

He grinned wickedly, and I knew he'd be the first obstacle I'd have to get through. I snarled under my breath and leveled him a glare. His eyes narrowed, and his grin disappeared.

I internally hoped that I didn't just sign my own death warrant. The guard led me to cell twenty-three where I'd spend at least seven years of my life. Inside was a man that would easily intimidate the dark skinned primate I'd seen just moments ago.

His hair was dark, thick and curly, his skin a light tan color and biceps that were the size of one of my thighs. Fucking hell, I'm a dead man.

The guard tapped on a bar with a nightstick and motioned with his head toward the farthest wall. My cellmate complied and slid out the bottom bunk and stood with his hands against the wall as the guard unlocked the cell with a word through his walkie-talkie.

"Emmett has the bottom bunk," the guard explained. "You're on top." Then the fucker laughed before locking me inside.

I tensed when Emmett quickly turned, glaring. He looked through the bars and seemed to be listening for something. He returned his attention on me, his glare replaced with a look of humor.

"Don't worry," he said in a whisper. "You're too pretty. I don't do pretty." I gaped at him and shook my head. I placed the few articles on my bed, trying to ignore him. "Fucker, you need to learn fast in this place. Trust me you don't want to make me an enemy."

"Yeah, and I also don't want to get fucked in the ass," I retorted.

He rolled his eyes and gave me a conspiratorial wink. "Don't fucking bet on that, asshole. You're in my place now," he said loud enough for everyone to hear. Catcalls came from the adjoining cells.

He grinned and gestured with his hand for me to say something. Then it dawned on me, he was trying to help me out. I didn't know if I could trust him, but I had very little choice right now.

"We'll see. I'm not here to cozy up to nobody. I'm no one's bitch."

He gave me a thumbs up. "Fuck you, shithead." He bumped the side of the bed and caused it made a loud noise against the cement. He grunted and once again gestured for me to do something. I thumped my hand against the sink and toilet and cursed. He did the same and we continued.

"Kick his ass, Emmett," someone said.

"Spread em' wide boy," another voice sneered. Emmett made a gagging face, and I had to stifle a laugh.

Emmett groaned after a loud thump and I did the same. "Fucking truce!" he said.

"We'll see," I said with a shrug. He grinned again and took a seat on his bed.

After a few minutes, the rest of the cells quieted as I tried to comprehend what the fuck just happened. Moreover, if was a good or bad thing.

"What are you in for?" Emmett asked after introducing himself.

"Killing the man that hurt someone I cared about."

"Fucking A," he said. "For me it was attempted murder for the same reason."

I nodded and shook his extended hand. I had a comrade.

_________________

I moved in line to get food with Emmett leading the way. He had suggested that I rough up my knuckles to show that we at least fucked each other up a bit. I was even sporting a black eye while he had a bruised jaw.

I could hear quiet murmurs among the others as I pass their tables.

"I heard he killed him with his bare hands and a blunt object."

"Yeah, and he knew the man, too."

"The pigs found him covered in blood while his girl lay in his arms."

I shut my eyes, hoping to block out the voices. The reminders of that night stung behind my eyes. I couldn't show emotions like these, not here.

"Bare hands, huh?" Emmett said as we took our seats. Another man took a seat across from Emmett, who acknowledged us with a simple nod.

"Something like that."

"Well, looks like we got a lot in common, Edward. At least you got to finish what you started." Anger filled the tone of this last sentence. I saw the plastic fork in his hand snap and the man sitting with us made a grab for the broken shard.

Emmett glared at him and growled under his breath. "Jeff, Richard is watching your fucking punk ass." He motioned toward one of the guards at the end of the hall. "I'd put that shit away now."

He nodded and smiled. "Just protection," he said lowly.

"You're fine. No one's touched you in weeks."

"Because of you," he said.

"Yeah. Don't make me regret my choice to protect your sorry ass."

A dark skinned hand snatched the apple on my tray of terrible food. I looked up at the eyes of the man I had seen earlier.

"Edward is it?" I nodded. His eyes went to Emmett then back to mine. "Sam Uley."

"And?"

He smirked. "I'm sure you know how things work here."

"I do." I reached and lifted the sleeve of my shirt, exposing a certain tattoo. "Anything else?" His eyes roamed over my arm and his gaze snapped to a table across the hall.

My eyes met with Aro Volturi, and I knew I'd have to make a visit to his table. I had to survive here. Sam left our table quickly, fear the main reason he felt the need to flee.

"Fucking hell," Emmett hissed. "You're one of them!"

"Keep your voice down," I spat. "I was one of them. I left them when I was a kid."

"You don't leave them, Edward," he said.

"Yeah, I know, but I did."

"How the fuck did you do that?"

"I saved the life of Aro's daughter."

_______________

Day 2193:

Morning soon came, and I stretched the ache in my muscles. The fucking beds were too damn small, my body still hadn't become accustomed to it.

"Excited," Emmett said.

"It's my dad coming, not Bella."

"Still, I'm sure it's nice to get a visit from your dad."

I shook my head. Not really, I thought to myself. My father was Bella's primary caregiver and kept me up-to-date on her recovery. Almost seven years and she still had yet to have a good night sleep without the help of medication.

I knew I was the reason her recovery was progressing slowly. I couldn't be there for her, hadn't been able to be there for years. I closed my eyes in disgust. I had tried in vain to get her to move on, willing to let her go if it would mean that she would be happy.

She wouldn't listen to me.


"Hello, Edward," my father said. His once vibrant green eyes were dull and his blonde hair was greyer from the last time I'd seen him. What I had done had aged him greatly. He was my father, and I'd caused his pain.

"Carlisle." He gave me a timid smile that didn't reach his eyes. They never did anymore, certainly not for me. "How's mom?"

"She's doing well, son," he said softly. His eyes fell instantly, and his sigh was his usual preparation for the other information I longed for.

"Your mother," he said, "will come around."

I snorted and crossed my arms across my chest. "I really doubt that."

"She loves you."

I rolled my eyes. "Maybe she did, but not anymore."

"Son," he started. "It's not easy for her."

"I know it isn't, but does she really think it is for me?" He shook his head and grimaced. "That night… none of it should've happened."

"I know, Edward."

"She's partially to blame."

He sighed and nodded. "I think that's why it's so hard for her. I think she feels she's responsible."

"She's a fucking shrink, Carlisle," I spat. "She noticed the signs, even knew what he was capable of, and didn't warn us."

He nodded again and held out a file. I lunged for it, my fingers grasping the edge. I opened the three-inch think file and groaned. There in the front page was a small picture of my beloved.

Tears stung in my eyes as I read her file. She had relapsed again. My eyes snapped to his. "Is this why I couldn't call this week?"

He nodded. "She's been heavily sedated and under evaluation at the hospital." My eyes hardened as I returned my gaze back to the file.

Her night terrors had returned. She had scratches to her arms and face. Oh baby. Don't do this to yourself.

I knew just how hard it was for my father to divulge this information, but as Bella's only next of kin and actual guardian, he had no choice.

"How long will she be in there?"

"I'm working to bring her home soon."

We both knew that being in the hospital for too long would be worse in the long run. The last time she found a way to escape and ran for miles to get to me. It took four guards to get her to stop trying to claw her way up the walls.

Unwanted memories surfaced of that very day.

Day 45:

I was spotting Emmett while he lifted weights over his chest. He was talking about his last letter from his girlfriend Rosalie, where she told him that she had passed the bar exam. He laughed as he recalled how nervous she said she was, so much so, that she bit off her acrylic nails.

I knew what Emmett was doing; he was trying to distract me from my dark thoughts. Bella had been admitted into a hospital again, after they found her with cuts along her arms.

Since I had been hauled away from her in court, her recovery had taken a turn for the worst. I worried about the orderlies that had to touch her. My father and Charlie assured me that the hospital had taken into account what had happen to her. They promised that she was in good care.

It was going to be at least another sixty days until she'd be able to see me and even then only if she was capable of it.

I heard some commotion coming from some of the guards, Richard, the only decent one among them looked straight at me.

Something was wrong.

Then I heard it. Her screams, so much like the ones that awoke me from my drunken haze three months ago.

Bella was here.

Richard motioned for me and I made my way to him quickly. "She looks like she escaped from a hospital. She's hurting herself, and we need to see if you can calm her down."

I nodded as I followed closely behind him. I heard her wail and scream my name, and it made the ache in my chest spread wide open. Oh baby.

Her hair looked like wiry strings, and it had bits of debris in it. Her face was blotchy from her excitement and her tears. Fresh trails of tears ran over dried ones. I ran to her, the chain link fence our only barrier.

Her hands and arms were covered in blood, and her hospital gown was torn on one side. Red drops of blood fell from her knees because she had made it the barbed wire.

"Edward!" she screamed, reaching for me.

"Bella," I said hoarsely. Two men were holding her back as she struggled against them.

"Don't touch me!"

"Please!" I cried out. "Let her go. Don't touch her." I turned toward Richard and pleaded with him to get guards Monique and Rachel. The men continued to manhandle Bella, and her cries soon turned to trembles. She shook violently in the arms of the guards who looked alarmed.

"She was raped," I moaned. "Please let her go." Fresh pain opened the hole in my chest, threatening to overtake me.

They did as I said slowly, putting her on her feet. The moment they released her, she dropped like a stone. I cried out for her and begged her to get up. "Please, baby."

Her dark eyes met mine, another whisper of my name. She launched herself toward me, and her body hit the fence hard. Her fingers sought my face as I tried to reach for her. I heard Richard behind me, telling me that the female guards were coming.

"I love you," I whispered. I knew I had little time with her. "Bella."

"Edward," she gasped, pressing her sweet lips on mine. It didn't matter that the metal of the fence dug into my skin. All that mattered was that she allowed me to touch her again.

"I love you," she moaned. "I can't live –"

"You have to let them help you."

"I can't. Not without you."

Richard tapped on my shoulder, it was a warning. The two female guards closed in on Bella. I carefully took her face in hands, roughing up the skin of my wrists. "You hold on, baby. You understand me. You fucking be strong, please."

"Edward," she screamed as they pulled her away from me. I watched as she clawed at the arms of the women that held her. She screamed and wailed as they led her away from me.


I shook the disturbing images from my mind. "What nightmare was it this time?" I knew that her nightmares varied, from that night to the one where I was taken from her.

"She lost her wedding ring," he said. "That seemed to trigger her insecurities that you'd never want her after what she did."

I shook my head and growled under my breath. "She didn't do anything. She never asked for this shit to happen to her."

Carlisle put his hands up defensively. "I'm just stating what her file said."

I nodded and tapped the last page where vitals had been taken during her last doctor visit. "She lost weight again."

"Yes, I warned her."

"Almost ten pounds and they haven't lowered the dosage of her medication?"

"Son, she needs it."

I shook my head. "Her physical health is just as important as her emotional health. Those meds combined with the weight loss could be what's causing the need to hurt herself again."

He nodded. "I'll have Dr. Banner take a look later today."

"Thank you," I said and passed the file back to him. "I just need to know she's okay. She's far from it. Six damn years, and she still can barely leave the house." I tossed my head back in anger.

I felt my father's hand clasp my own. "You'll be out of here soon," he said. "Your parole hearing is in six months, and you've been a model prisoner."

Oh Carlisle, if you only knew.

It had taken some time and a few fistfights to retain my fucking dignity. It helped that I made a friend in Emmett. Aro's protection order had also served to keep other assholes at bay.

Of course, now I owed Aro. He always collected a debt.


I made my way toward my cell, knowing that this had to happen sooner rather later. I grunted something that sounded like yes to Jeff as I passed his cell. Emmett stood and started to remove some of the letters and pictures from his girl that were under my bed.

"What time?" I asked somberly.

"In the morning," he said, refusing to meet my eyes.

"That's good."

"Look, Edward," he said quickly. "You'll be fine."

"I'm not worried about myself. I'm more worried about you."

"What about me?"

"You never leave anything undone," I said calmly with a shrug.

His eyes narrowed. "I have no fucking clue what you mean, asshole."

I snorted and shook my head. "Fine, play it that way. But I better not see your fucking ass back here."

"I'm not a damn idiot," he said. "I got a fucking hot girlfriend. I'm not about to risk losing her."

I nodded and wished I could believe him.

~Day 2285:

Three months had passed since Emmett's departure and some punk named Jesse was my new cellmate, and thankfully, with him around Sam, ignored me. Most of the others did too; the only one that sat with me in the mess hall was Jeff, though I was damn sure he was hoping I'd protect him as Emmett had.

"Do you think we'll see Emmett again?" Jeff asked. This was something he asked at least once a week. I'd kept in touch with him, even asked him to have his girlfriend check on Bella.

I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. I looked down at my tray of food and wondered if I could stash some to have Carlisle fucking inspect it. Who the fuck knew what was in this meatloaf.

A pale hand came into my field of view, and I looked up to see Caius, Aro's right hand man. "Aro would like to speak with you, Edward."

I nodded and made my way across the room. Whenever Aro asked for someone, it was in your best interest to abide his request. Moreover, his protection order he had on me was something that could easily be taken away.

I took the seat he gestured for me to take. Aro was one of the most respected, I should say feared, inmates in this facility. His organization was vast in and out these prison walls. He had the capabilities to make things happen. His long, dark hair fell to his shoulders, his skin was pale, and even though the motherfucker was sick, he still had an intimidating presence. It was all in his black eyes, cold and menacing at the same time.

I knew this couldn't be good. If he asked me to hurt someone for him, it would ruin my chances of early release. With less than three months to my parole hearing, I couldn't risk that. Even for Aro.

Aro gave a pregnant stare to everyone else on the table, and they left us immediately. He was a man of few words, because he didn't need them. He steepled his fingers under his chin and gave me a look that made me think that this might not be going where I thought it would.

"I heard your parole hearing is coming up."

"You heard right," I said, keeping my voice smooth.

"You have a good chance of leaving here soon."

I nodded and sighed. "I have a really good chance, one that I wouldn't risk for anything."

"Good, then we're on the same page."

I remained quiet, waiting for something. He had my interest piqued. "I'm not going to ask you to jeopardize that Edward. From what I heard, you have someone very important to return to."

"I do."

He smiled. "I'm happy to hear it. She's a lucky woman to have you."

"I don't think so," I said. "But I'm not walking away unless she says so."

He laughed. "Always the protector."

"It's what I'm good at."

"And that's why you're the only one I trust to help me," he said, slowly. Letting his words sink in. "I'm dying."

"I know," I replied. I had a thing for medical science ever since Bella's mental health was in jeopardy. The yellowing around his pupils and the sweat that gathered around his brow told me something was wrong with his liver.

"My daughter will be alone after I'm gone. Right now, she's with her mother, but she's been in trouble lately."

"I remember Heidi, Aro. What the fuck are thinking leaving Jane with her?"

"I'm in here, and there's nothing I can do about it."

"What are you asking of me, Aro?"

"I need you to take her in once you're out."

I shook my head. "You can't ask me to do that."

"I can, and I will. You'll offer that bitch of a mother some money to sign the papers to hand my daughter to you. And you and that pretty wife of yours will raise her."

"Fucking hell."

"You saved her from a damn bullet, and now I'm asking you to save her from herself. With that vile woman as an influence I'm damn sure she'd be patrolling the streets in less than a year."

"I have to talk to Bella, first," I said, running my hands through my hair. "I can't tell you yes until then."

"I know you'll do the right thing."

"I don't have the kind of money you're asking for either," I started. "And I won't take any of your money, we both know it's soaked in blood."

Aro's eyes narrowed and nodded. "I have an account, none of my associates know about. It's from an inheritance from an uncle. It's yours provided that my daughter is given half."

"I haven't said yes, Aro," I said firmly.

He smiled. "We both know you will."


An hour later, I sat in my cell and contemplated what Aro had offered me. Jane was only thirteen and deserved to have a good chance for a life. Could Bella and I really give Jane a good life? Would Bella be ready to raise a teenager?

She'd been doing so much better in the last few months. The nightmares were still there, but the new combination of drugs and therapy had her able to leave the house more. Visit me more.

This wasn't the first time a father asked for me to help their daughter.

~ Day 1122:

"Son," Charlie, Bella's father said. He fidgeted in his chair across from my own. "I have a favor to ask you."

I raised an eyebrow, questioning him silently. We both knew there was little I could do from here.

He gave me a timid smile and exhaled loudly. Charlie Swan had been my advocate since that night he found me covered in the blood of the man that raped his daughter. He tried his hardest to make sure I got the lesser sentence when it was obvious that I couldn't plead "not guilty."

If it hadn't been for him, I'd face life in prison instead of twenty years. I owed him for that, but more for keeping my Bella safe when I couldn't.

"You know that I'm all the family Bella has left." I nodded, suddenly worried. "You also know that I have the Power of Attorney over her."

Since I'd been taken from her, Bella had turned into something that barely resembled a human. She was nothing but a shell – a vessel – to an otherwise dead soul. The only time she'd shown that she was there was from the crippling nightmares that had her screaming in the night and our phone calls.

I had asked Charlie to retain Power of Attorney since I knew I couldn't count on Bella to take care of herself.

"What is this about, Charlie?" I asked.

"I'm dying," he said quickly. "Got cancer – terminal."

Fucking Christ. She'd have no one she'd trust out there. Bella's mother had died in a horrific car accident when she was only three.

"I'm sorry."

He nodded and remained quiet for a few minutes. "I want you to sign some papers so you could be her guardian."

I shook my head and roughly ran my hands through my hair. "I can't, Charlie," I said hoarsely. "That's the reason I asked you do it."

"I had a friend look into it, and you can if I agree, she agrees and provided that you're married."

I scowled and beat my clenched fists on the table. "I can't do that from here."

"You can," he said sternly. "I can make the arrangements."

"I won't do that to her. She deserves to walk down the fucking aisle, not the down the damn mess hall."

"Then she'd be turned over to the state once I'm gone."

"You can't let that happen either," I said, unable to get my voice down. "It'd kill her."

"I know, son," he said, eyeing an approaching guard. He shook his head to get him to back off. It's good to be the chief of police. "Your father said no."

I paled because that's exactly who I was going to suggest. "He said no?" I repeated in disbelief.

"Yes, said something about conflict of interests," he said slowly. "In the end though, it's likely because –"

"Of my mother," I finished his statement. He nodded, looking solemn. I sighed and ran my hand over my face. I was so fucking damn tired, but she meant the world to me. I owed her to make sure she would be taken care of until I could come home to her. "The last time Bella visited, she told me that she still wanted to marry me."

"She does, said so just the other night." Charlie smiled, pride in his voice and words. It had taken a long time to get Bella to talk to anyone else but me.

"I want her to have the fairytale wedding, Charlie."

"But?"

"Her safety, her health and my love for her mean more to me."

"She's lost everyone that would support her because of that night," he said softly. "You're her lifeline."

"I know."

I remembered what that conversation led to, my wedding. Bella had never looked prettier in a simple white cotton summer dress.

~Day 1188:

Charlie had made good on his promise. Bella and I were married less than a few hours ago. I knew she was nervous. It had taken almost two years of consecutive good behavior, a note from Bella's psychiatrist, and pleas to the state for me to earn conjugal visits from her. Once we had obtained permission, it had taken more than six months to progress to a semblance of intimacy.

I hadn't cared though, it was good enough to spend those precious hours holding her. The first visit she cried in my arms, and had her first successful bit of un-medicated sleep. It felt good that I could provide comfort and safety, something I hadn't been able to do in so long.

I hadn't protected that night.

We were provided a room with a tiny bathroom, and a full-size bed. It wasn't much and they wouldn't allow me to have candles. I wanted to make this night special. It didn't matter if I couldn't make love to her tonight. All that mattered was that she was doing well and was here with me.

I heard her turn the faucet on in the bathroom as I changed into a set of cotton pants. Not wanting to make her more nervous, I decided to leave my undershirt on. I hung up the suit my father had let me borrow for my wedding.

The small click from the bathroom door alerted me to her presence. I ran a hand over the navy blue jacket to calm myself before closing the closet door.

"You looked so handsome in that suit," she whispered.

I turned and every bit of air left my lungs. I clenched my hands to keep control, and gave her a small smile. "I wanted to look good for you, baby."

She gave me a bright smile. "You always look good." I smirked, earning a pair of wide brown eyes. It was good to know I still affected her.

"Come here," I said softly and held out my hand. She bit her lip as she took a few steps toward me. The white silk and satin of her short nightgown slid smoothly over her thighs. She looked fucking beautiful in the fading sunlight that filtered through the window. She stepped into my arms and sighed. I held her close, not tightly though. Aggression of any kind would ruin everything. I had to be gentle, and to do that, I had to remain in control.

She was all that mattered.

I slid my hands down her bare arms, feeling her shiver under my touch. I sighed because I had no idea if it was out of fear or not. I made to pull back, to give her some space, but her arms tightened around my waist.

"Don't," she murmured. "Please, just give me a moment." I kissed the top of her head, taking in the sweet scent of her hair. It had grown back after she had cut it during a breakdown over a year ago. It was just as luxurious as the first time I had touched it. That seemed like a lifetime ago now. We shared only seven months of friendship, passion and love during that time. It was taken from us, in one single night.

The night that shattered our lives.

All those terrible thoughts left me when I felt her trembling fingers touch the skin above the waistband my pants. I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from groaning aloud. We had progressed slowly since we were allowed these visits, and most of it was above clothing. Her sweet touch ignited something in my body and licks of heat ran through me.

"Baby," I whispered. "We don't have to do anything if you're not ready." I wanted to reassure her that sex wasn't necessary to make this night special. That I'd be happy just being able to hold her.

She stiffened in my arms, and I knew I fucked up. Her insecurities had increased after her rape. They made her think that I'd never want her after what had happened.

Fuck.

I heard her sniffle and the sound broke my heart. "No, baby," I said firmly, but kept my voice low. I held her just a bit tighter, keeping her close so she wouldn't run. "I want you. Please, don't doubt that. I love you no matter what."

She looked up at me, her eyes filled with tears. I cursed internally for making her cry again. She had spent thirty minutes in tears in my arms before we got married, begging me to change my mind. Not because she didn't want me, but because she wasn't sure I wanted her.

"You want me?" she asked softly. I brushed away a tear that fell, and I ran a thumb over her soft bottom lip.

"Always."

"I want to. I want you," she said. Her warm hands ran up my chest, curling slowly around my shoulders. My breathing hitched when she took another step closer, her warm body pressed so closely. Tiptoeing, she pressed her lips by my ear, her breath on my neck. "Love me."

I groaned and held her closer. I cupped her face, and I kissed her temple. Slowly, I brought my lips down to hers. She sighed and finally melted against me – surrendering.

Ever so slowly, my hands ran over the silk that hinted at skin underneath. She pressed her chest closer to mine, a small hand over the tattoo I had done as a wedding gift. Her hand slid down my body, meeting the other at the hem of my shirt. Swiftly, she tugged it off and flung it behind us.

I threw my head back at the feel of her soft lips on my chest. She lingered over the three-inch "B" over my heart. "Beautiful soul," she whispered. I held her head, and gave into my need to touch her more. My free hand wandered down her back, curving around her ribs and brushing over the underside of her breast. She hissed but it quickly turned to a moan.

A whimper soon left my lips as hers explored my Adam's apple. She felt so good in my arms, if only she could be with me every day. We had tonight.

My hands roamed slowly, tenderly over her torso and hips. She took a step back toward the bed, and hesitated for a moment. I wanted to go as slow as she needed to, but she had to lead me. I ran a reassuring hands down her arms, whispering that I loved her.

She took another step toward the bed. The journey to the bed was slow, but sweet. It allowed me to control my urges, and it helped her ease into this type of contact.

"Edward," she gasped as my hands cupped her breasts gently. She felt so good, warm and soft in my hands.

"You're so soft," I murmured. "So sweet." I kissed along her jawline, and lavished her collarbone with the tip of my tongue. Her back arched as her hands were suddenly on mine. The movement was so swift that I paused to see if something was wrong.

"Touch me," she whispered. I hissed, her hands leading one of my own down her torso to the apex of her thighs. I turned her slowly with gentle hands and brought her back to my chest. I gently caressed her right arm with a brush of my fingertips and placed it over my shoulder. Her fingers urgently sought the hair at the nape of my neck, tugging gently.

I allowed my lower body to press against her backside, and I instantly felt her stiffen in my embrace. I knew she would, I'd expected it. She had reacted to my arousal the same way in our previous visits. I turned her face and pressed my lips on hers gently. "You are everything to me."

Her lips trembled as I whispered more words, never taking the gentle pressure of my erection. She slowly dissolved -- a sweet sigh on her lips. I laid gentle caresses over her body, her skin erupting in gooseflesh under my touch. I groaned softly, and my breath fanned down her neck. She was always so responsive, flushed skin, quiet sighs and her sweet mouth parted seductively.

She was a delicate doll, small fissures on the outside that had cracked so many times before. I'd been there when I could to put her back together and now, as her husband, I'd always be there.

"Edward," she gasped as my lips suckled at the juncture between neck and shoulder. With deliberate strokes over her breasts, she moaned and arched closer. Her nipples were taut under the silk, longing to take them in my mouth. She tensed when I stupidly ran my tongue over her scar; the one caused by a knife held to her throat. I quickly pressed my erection against her while I simultaneously rolled a peak between my fingers, as a distraction. She moaned, seeking my lips and crying out for more.

I ran my hands down the sides of her body as her kisses increased in urgency. I groaned my fingers meeting the flesh of her thighs. Noting no hesitation, I surged forward and skimmed the bare skin of her hips with my palms. With splayed fingers, I felt no barrier of panties; this pulled another groan from within me.

Slowly, I turned my fingers upward, and ran them under the hem of her nightgown. She moaned and bucked her hips against me. As my hands continued to explore the flesh of her hips and waist, the fabric bunched around my scarred wrists. Inch by inch glorious skin was exposed.

She allowed me to pull it off, but quickly tried to cover herself. I murmured her name, my love for her and gently removed her arms from her chest. "You're beautiful."

"I – I feel it when you touch me," she whispered in between heavy breaths. I brought her back down to her relaxed state with gentle words, encouragement and promises of our future.

I pressed her lips with my own when her body became pliant in my arms. She turned enough to allow her to sweep her tongue across my mouth. My eyes rolled closed, and I parted my lips and took her sweet tongue in my mouth. So sweet, she was always so sweet.

My hands were cupping her breasts when one of her hands laid over mine. Ever so slowly, she led my hand down her body until I felt soft curls of her sex. I bit the inside of my cheek and fought to remain in control.

She was wet, hot and slick under my fingers. She pressed a few fingers over mine, showing me what she wanted. With a tender pressure, I circled her clit, causing her head to fall back against my shoulder. I kissed her face as I sought to bring her to climax. My touch increased in pressure, always aware of her responses. Sensing that she seemed all right, I continued and ran two fingers over her slit.

She stiffened, but quickly melted. She was poised already, and I was desperate to see her come. I cupped her sex fully and pressed my thumb against her clit. She cried out as I flexed my fingers, adding more pressure. "Edward."

Her body tensed for several moments before her knees buckled. Placing my arm under her knees, I took her in my arms. Her arms automatically wound around my neck as I contemplated where to set her down.

Do I take her to the bed? I didn't want to push.

"Take me to bed," she whispered in my ear. My eyes clenched tightly as her mouth sucked on my neck.

"Bella," I grunted. She laughed softly, her fingers tugging on my hair.

"I was thinking I had no effect on you," she said shyly.

She was right, I was usually more vocal when we made love, but I didn't want to scare her. Moreover, I knew I couldn't curse; it would undermine everything if I did. "Trust me, you do." She gave me a small smile as I tucked her gently under the comforter on the simple bed.

I slid underneath, using the safety of the covers to make her more comfortable. She bit her lip, and her eyes locked with mine. She lay on her side and gently brushed her fingers over my upper body. Exploring, adjusting to touching me, she progressed to pressing her lips here and there.

It was exquisite torture.

She propped herself on an elbow, her hair curtaining down one side of her face. Worrying her bottom lip, her hand became bolder. This was driving me crazy. A fragile finger circled my navel, causing me to arch my back. She continued this until she met the waistband of my pants.

Bella fingered the skin above my pants for a few minutes. I knew she was giving herself time to be comfortable with this touch. Suddenly, her palm tentatively ran over my cloth-covered erection.

I groaned and fought not to buck my hips. She'd done this before during our conjugal visits, but never with her full palm. It felt so good, but at the same time, I felt greedy. Turning slowly, so not to surprise her, I laid on my side. I smiled softly and touched her cheek with the back of my hand. "I love you."

"I love you, Edward," she said sweetly. She took my hand, and intertwined our fingers together. I brought our clasped hands to my lips and laid a kiss on her knuckles. I leaned closer and brushed my lips over hers. Our mouths moved languidly as she slowly eased onto her back, urging me over her. Her thighs parted to accommodate for my body.

I ran my hands over her and a thin layer of sweat covered our bodies. Soon, she was trembling beneath me, desperate for more. She asked me to remove the only remaining barrier, my pants. Once I kicked them off, I carefully pressed my hips against hers.

I continued to whisper to her, reminding her that I loved her. Her fingernails dug into my back as my tongue laved a pink peak. "Oh please," she gasped, her head pressing harshly into the pillow beneath her.

With the gentlest of pressure, the tip of my erection was at entrance. She tensed and tears filled her eyes. I stopped immediately and made to pull back but she shook her head. Her arms wrapped around me tightly.

"I want to, but don't tower over me," she whispered. "Stay close." I understood and internally cursed the man that ruined our lives. I pressed my body closer, and slid inside her slowly.

She hissed at first, as the intrusion was painful or unrecognizable. I paused and waited for her to get comfortable. She encouraged me with a tug of my hair and a nip of her lips on my neck. When my hips met hers, she sighed, and that sound was devastatingly beautiful.

Our mouths caught every whimper and moan of pleasure as I moved within her slowly. My strokes were slow and shallow. With her encouragement, I added more force and depth, until we were both panting. My climax was viciously close, her warmth so tight around me. I changed the angle of my thrusts so that the coarse hair of my lower body brushed her clit. She arched and trembled beneath me, her face a picture of pleasure. Her legs wrapped around my calves, pulling me even closer.

"Edward," she cried as her body tensed beneath me. "Edward!" With a muffled groan into the crook of her neck, we fell into completion together.

It had taken three years, six months and seventeen days.

Day 2322:

Aro hasn't been in the mess halls for a few days. Rumors said that he'd been moved to accommodate his failing health. He had less than six months to live, until then he'd be suffering as his body slowly shut down. Aro's protection over me will only be honored until he died. After that, I'd be on my own.

Jesse, my cellmate, died three days ago. Others became aware that his attempt at armed robbery had killed a four-year-old boy. Child killers never lasted inside the house, too many of the inmates had families.

Luckily, I'd been in a meeting with my lawyers when he had been executed.

"Mail call," Richard said. He rolled a squeaky-wheeled cart down the corridor, passing letters in between bars. "Cullen," he called out. I grabbed two envelopes, and four cigarettes were cleverly passed to me.

I grinned and nodded. "Got one from your girl?" he asked when I looked at the envelopes.

"Yes," I said, my eyebrows furrowing when I noticed the other letter was from Rosalie, Emmett's girlfriend.

I sat on my bed, and turned the already opened letter from Bella. I removed the letter and my eyes closed when I smelled her amongst the pages.

Edward,

I met with Rosalie today, and I really liked her. She took me shopping, and even held my hand when I became frightened when two men approached us. I managed to avoid a full panic attack because Rose helped me through it. I remembered the whispered words of your love, and I was able to breathe again.

I miss you.

I know that's not fair to share with you. I know you have enough to worry about. I'm sorry, truly sorry about your mother. She may have been blinded by her title and her love, but what she did was not the answer. Your father and I had dinner on Tuesday. I made him tacos. That was what he said he was in the mood for. He was so sad, Edward. He barely talks now.

I love you.

Tomorrow I have another session with Dr. Banner. I don't like the new medication he put me on, but he said it would help me concentrate on my schoolwork. I love school. I may not be able to go to campus, but the online classes are wonderful. Thank you for suggesting that.

I need you. I love you, always.

Yours,

Bella

I found the next letter, dated a few days after we last spoke on the phone.

Edward,

I'm so sorry. I hope that you can forgive me. I did what I could to help your father. He won't see me anymore. I'll keep trying to reach him.

Rosalie moved in as you suggested. She's amazing with the Volvo. She fixed the alternator problem I had. Now it runs great, well almost. I can go over fifty-five.

I love you.

I miss you.

I crave your touch.

I crave the feel of your lips.

I miss your voice and our whispered confessions.

Rosalie is one heck of a lawyer Edward. She really thinks you'll come home to me soon.

I love you always.

Bella

There were more, and I reread each one twice before moving onto Rosalie's letter.

I knew what this would be about, and I feared for what this meant for Bella. My father was the only man besides Dr. Banner that she could be around and not spiral into a panic attack. My father was Bella's primary doctor and helped me be sure of her physical health.

My mother took her life, drinking herself into oblivion. Her guilt crushed her and my father found her in their home dead, after spending the day caring for my wife. In many ways, I was relieved. She'd never had come to see me. I wasn't sure if she had if I'd been able to forgive her. She kept vital information from me, and if she hadn't, that night would've never happened.

In other ways, I had lost my mother. She cared for me, loved me and in the end, I still loved her.

I tentatively removed Rosalie's letter. She said that Emmett was doing well, and was working for a small local construction company. Bella still hadn't been able to have him too close. They had progressed to sitting in the same room together. This was an improvement over the first time Emmett had tried to introduce himself. Bella had had a panic attack that had her hospitalized for three days.

Emmett had taken my call and apologized a thousand times, but I knew it wasn't his fault. His size was intimidating to most people, and to someone like Bella, he was her worst nightmare.

Rosalie explained that she had convinced Bella to take a self-defense course. She said that Bella had seemed hesitant and first, but soon she took to the classes.

She was great, Edward. She took down her "assailant" with little difficulty. She felt so pumped up after that, that she had me install a punching bag in the extra bedroom. She's even willing to take kickboxing classes. The first day she used it, she punched and kicked that bag until she dropped from both exhaustion and tears. She's a brave woman, and I feel with time, she will be whole. She needs you to do this; you must come back to her soon.

I'm sorry about your father. He came to me and handed me account records for you and Bella. He's gone, Edward. He left town, and I don't know if we'll ever see him again. I'm already looking for a doctor for Bella, and she's been so worried about Carlisle.

I have yet to tell her.

Rosalie

I sighed and found a picture in the envelope. I held it close as my eyes started to fill. It was a photo of my Bella, kicking a red punching bag. That's my girl. I could see the fire behind her solid stance. Her fists were in motion; one on the punching bag and the other midair.

She looked beautiful and very much like the Bella I had fallen in love with.

"McCarty! What the –" I heard from Jeff's cell.

"Shut it, Jeff," an all too familiar voice said.

Richard tapped on the bars of my cell. I looked up and shook my head. I had known this day would come. I stood and placed my hands against the adjacent wall. I remained quiet, the click of metal against metal as Richard released his cuffs. I heard the cell door slide closed and I rounded on him. I landed a punch right on his jaw.

His head snapped back, he leveled me a glare. "You only get one, asshole."

"How the fuck could you do this to Rosalie?" I asked as Emmett rubbed at his jaw.

"I told you I finish what I set out to do."

"Fucking idiot," I hissed. "Life now?" He nodded. I held out my hand and he quickly slapped his hand into mine. "Fucker, you get the top bunk."


Days soon seemed to slow down further as my parole hearing approached. Rosalie had agreed to be my lawyer for the hearing. She said my chances were good based on the circumstances behind the murder I committed and for good behavior. She mentioned that the minimum expected to serve was seven years, so if I were approved for release, I'd still have to wait three months.

I had to have hope.

Day 2370:

I looked in the joke of a mirror over the sink and shaved with a battery-operated razor that Richard let me borrow.

I heard Emmett bounce a ball against the wall; he'd been quiet for hours. He knew I was going to see Rosalie today. He hadn't been able to see her since he'd been convicted of murdering her father. The state was making them go through the entire approval process and he had to have six consecutive months of good behavior before they could see each other.

He had sent her a letter, explaining that he didn't want her to wait for him. She, of course, sent a message through me to punch him for being stupid. He wanted to pop me one back, but he refrained.

"Is Bella going to be there?" he asked as I straightened my tie.

"No," I said. "I asked her not to come." He looked at me confused. "I don't want her to get her hopes up and for her to see me taken away again."

His brow furrowed and nodded. "It was that bad?"

"Yeah."

Sentence Hearing

I entered the courtroom, my grey suit itchy around my neck. Sweat trickled down my back; spring was unseasonably warm again, reminding me of better times.

My eyes scanned the courtroom, landing on my father and a trembling Bella. What the fuck? I kept my face composed, blank of all emotion. How could he be so irresponsible? I could see Bella's eyes dart all around the room, her body curling against herself defensively. The courtroom doors opened and Charlie walked in. His eyes met mine and he shook his head.

She hadn't given them a choice.

I had tried to push her away. I didn't want her to waste her life waiting for me. My father said I was only hurting her more by pushing.

In truth, I wanted to stay with her; plead for her to wait. It was so unfair for her to wait though. She needed to concentrate on herself, not on me. I took my seat, and my public defender, Garrett Wilson, stood waiting for me. I took my seat and turned to face my father. My eyes refused to look at her, because if I had it would break me.

"What the hell are you thinking bringing her here?" I hissed under my breath.

"I had to, son," my father said. "She insisted, and it's been the only thing she's said in weeks."

"She's in no condition to be around people. You know this."

"Maybe, but she's also needed to see you, too."

"Edward," I heard her whisper.

I closed my eyes for a moment, and I knew if I wanted to survive this, I had to be cold. I opened my eyes and met hers. Her brown eyes glazed over, the fire gone and filled with tears. She held out her hand, an invitation to touch her.

I wanted to cry out and crush her to me. I knew I'd never be able to stay away from her. I needed her just as much as she needed me. My balled hands slammed down on my thighs, reminding myself to remain in control. Slowly, I held up a hand, waiting.

Oh please, baby. We need this.

She bit her lip to the point of drawing blood as her fingertips touched mine. Her chin trembled and tears fell down her cheeks. It was the first touch we shared since my arrest.

She sobbed when I felt Garrett step closer, recoiling in herself. I glared at him and he apologized. "All rise," a bailiff said.

While the DA asked for the minimum sentence of twenty years with the possibility of parole, Bella's quiet sobs a continued. Each sound tore through me; unspeakable pain.

During a short recess, I was allowed to remain seated, Bella tried to touch me again. She succeeded in placing her small hand in mine, with so much fear in her eyes. I hated that she feared me.

Moments after she came to that night, after what I'd done to her rapist she had confused me with him for a few minutes. Her father had tried to calm her but she'd cry out every time he approached her.

She had looked at the scene around her, his body laid just a few feet from her. She crawled away from him so quickly and into my lap. That was the last time I had held her.

"All rise."

I was sentenced to twenty years in a maximum-security prison in Seattle. Bella's cries filled the room as I turned to look at her. "Baby, you have to move on."

"Edward, not without you!" she cried as the judge called for order.

"You have to let me go. Be happy."

"Never," she cried and lunged toward me. She held my face in her hands. "I can't, don't ask me to. I'll wait. Please."

"Baby," I whispered, wishing I could grab her. I felt someone pull my hands behind my back, taking me away from her. "I love you."

"Please, Edward," she cried. "Don't leave me!"

"Let go, baby!" I said one last time.

She shook her head as my father pulled her back. Her father pushed at a few bailiffs that were trying to get to her. Bella reached for me, screaming.

"I can't let her go through that again," I said to Emmett. "How do I look?"

"Like a fucking egghead."

I grinned. "Perfect."

Day 2371:

Rosalie has come to see me, and told me I'd been awarded my freedom. I had to serve a minimum of seven years. In one hundred eighty-four days, I'd be free.

Day 2399:

Aro died, and now when I was so close to my freedom, my days were numbered. Rosalie was doing everything she could to ensure that Jane was safe until I could get to her. Bella was willing to take her in without hesitation.

She had always been generous.

Now, without Aro's protection order, Caius was determined to know what we had discussed in private. I refused to tell him, knowing if I mentioned the bank account, he'd alert Aro's former associates. I knew that the gang I was affiliated with had connections, but I had no idea how high.

I feared for my life.

Day 2453:

I walked the mess hall with Jeff and Emmett, looking at my pathetic excuse for a lunch when I heard my name.

Suddenly, Emmett shoved me out of the way, and I fell hard against a table. My head rapped sharply against the concrete flooring, white flashes of pain in my eyes. I rubbed the stars from my eyes and looked up at him. His eyes glazed over as he fell on his knees. Blood blossomed from three small holes in his abdomen, a handmade weapon in another.

The red overwhelmed the blue cotton in seconds. Like flower petals opening to the sun, blood roses among the sea of blue. I couldn't look away, and I noted where his wounds were, all fatal. There was no chance for survival. I crawled over, resting his head on my lap. I wanted to cry, and I wanted to kill.

"Take care of them," he grunted. I held him as his eyes closed tightly, his hand in mine. Blood soaked the thin fabric of my pants, the smell of it distinct in the stale air. "Rosalie's pregnant. Make sure –" Blood trickled from his mouth as chaos ensued around me. "My baby and my girl know I loved them."

His hand fell from mine. I couldn't even mourn my friend, not here.

_____________

I paced in my cell, my knuckles bleeding from the pounding I gave the concrete. I was fucking angry. He's gone because of me. His girlfriend and baby would have no one now. Emmett had told me that her father had been the only family she had left before he killed him.

And that bastard was hardly anything like family to her.

"Calm the fuck down, Edward," Jeff said from the cell beside me.

All the inmates were in their cells and were individually searched for more weapons. Searches were usually random but after what happened today, the warden wasn't taking any chances.

I wanted to kill that bastard Caius. I knew this was all him, that weapon was meant for me. I sighed and ran my hands through my hair, pulling a few strands.

"Fucking hell, Jeff," I spat. "He's gone because of me."

"And you're alive because of him," he said calmly. "Don't let it be in vain. Get out while you can. Don't look for revenge."

I exhaled deeply and tried to calm the fire of my anger and despair. Hadn't I've gone through enough? Now, I've lost my only real friend.

"It's all I have," I said lowly. I knew he could hear me.

"You and I both know revenge isn't the answer. You'll regret it and Emmett will come back to haunt your ass for it."

I shook my head even though he couldn't see me. "Doesn't matter, Caius is a dead man."

"You fucking listen to me, Edward," he spat, raising his voice. "Pick up one of those pictures of your wife. Now tell me that revenge is all you have."

"Fuck you," I sneered and hit the wall in front of me, wishing it was someone's face.

"Do it!"

I growled and grabbed a picture as he asked. The next time I see Jeff's pugly face I was going to pop him one.

The picture I had picked was a random one out of more than forty photos I had of my beloved. It was one of the both of us and we looked so happy. I was sitting in a lawn chair; she was draped around me from behind with a lovely smile on her face. I held it and internally sobbed. Oh baby. I love you so much.

What would've happened to Bella if I had died? My throat closed at the thoughts, she'd done everything she could to die.

I was both grieving for my friend, and yet I felt relief that I hadn't been the one to die. How fucked up was that?

For Emmett and for my Bella I'd make it out of here alive.

Day 2462:

Life without Emmett wasn't easy, and I had missed his stupid humor. I had little visitors since all this happened. My father, Charlie and Bella were the only ones that came to see me.

Now it was only Bella. My weekly phone call to her had been unpleasant. My poor Bella hadn't provided comfort to anyone since her ordeal, and she wasn't sure she was doing enough. Rosalie was a mess.

"Cullen," Richard said. "Got you a new buddy." I managed a half-assed smile and took my stance against the wall.

After a few minutes, Richard left, and I looked at my new cellmate. "What the fuck are you doing here, Marcus?"

"Arrangements were made to protect you until you are free to go home to your wife," he said firmly and leaned toward me. "And my niece."

Marcus was Aro's only living brother and would be the next in line to take over his organization.

"This was the answer."

He shrugged. "There was some reorganization recently, and we are unable to determine where everyone's loyalties lay." Marcus eyed the beds and raised an eyebrow.

"I don't give a fuck if you're here to ensure my safety, until I'm gone, you get the top bunk."

"Fair enough," he said. He hopped up onto the mattress. His large, lanky six-foot frame looked ridiculous on the small bed. "We need to discuss what happens after you walk out of here."

"I already know," I said. I had no idea if I could trust Marcus, but Aro said that he was only one I could. "I'd have to take them and run."

"Yes."

"I can't leave without making sure Emmett's family is safe."

"I've considered that," he said cryptically. His hand ran through long black curls of his hair. "I have a plan."

"I'm listening."

Day 2499:

I had fifty-six more days left in this hellhole. Marcus had difficulty taking his brother's place in the house, but once Sam Uley turned up dead during a random check – he had sealed it.

As the days came closer to my release, my nightmares had gotten worse. Would I be able to take care of Bella? Of Jane?

I had to find my father. I needed to know if he was truly gone.

We were financially set for life, but I knew I couldn't sit around, doing nothing.

I stared at the pictures of Bella I had attached to the bottom of Marcus's bunk. In some, her smile would light up any room. In others, her half-smiles and playful demeanor told me she was thinking about our shared nights. The photos had been taken before that night.

I had tried so many times to forget that night, but it haunted me. I tried to replay it, tried to make sense of it, and every time I came to the same conclusion: there was little I could've done to change it.

That Night

It was two days until I married my beautiful Bella. Even though I didn't want to spend a night away from her, she insisted.

"Have a few beers," she whispered against my lips. "Tell dirty jokes and talk sports with the boys." She grabbed my hips and pulled me closer. I grinned and bit her bottom lip. I sucked on it lightly. "Then you can come home and put me to bed."

"Hmm, if I must," I said, causing her to smack my butt. "Oh, is that what I have to look forward to?"

She laughed, throwing her head back. I attacked her neck and this time, she moaned. The doorbell rang, followed by a series of knocks. "I don't want to go."

"You have to," Bella said sweetly. "Have some fun."

"I'll miss you," I said. She rolled her eyes. "Two beers and I'm coming home."

"Okay," she said brightly. "Maybe I'll give you a preview of what I'll wear on our honeymoon?"

I wiggled my eyebrows and pulled her closer. "You're wearing clothes?"

She giggled just as Jasper wrapped his arms around my waist and lifted me up. "Fucker!" I grunted. Jacob wrapped an arm around Bella's shoulder leisurely. James pretended to take a few punches into my gut, and I tried to kick him in the balls.

Bella laughed softly and shooed us out of our house. "Hurry before you break one of the center pieces!"

I puckered my lips and she grabbed my face and kissed me hard, earning a catcalls from the assholes that I once called my friends.


I felt Jasper and James each take an arm to lead me up the front steps of my house. "I don't know wha – at happened I swear I only drank two damn," I slurred and hiccupped. "Two damn beers." I looked up and saw Bella standing on my porch. She looked as pretty as a picture, waiting for her man to get home. "Hey, baby!"

"What the hell guys?"

"Sorry, Bella," Jacob said, walking in behind us. "Don't know what happened. I came back for taking a piss and he was out for the count."

"How many did he have?"

I held up two fingers. "That many, baby," I said with a half smile.

"We're supposed to pick up your grandmother tomorrow, Edward," she chastised. I pouted.

"I'm sorry, baby," I said, trying to pull her to me. "I'll make it up to you."

Suddenly, everything started to blur and blend. "Oh fuck," I gasped and ran past Bella into the house. I barely made it to the toilet before I got sick. I knelt down and expelled the alcohol and my dinner. Or was that my lunch?

I heard muffled voices outside the bathroom door.

"I'll take it from here, guys," my angel said.

Fuck, why was the damn room spinning?

"Are you sure, Bella?" one of my idiot friends said.

"Yes," she replied, as I got sick again. I wrapped my arms around the porcelain-fucking throne to keep me grounded.

"Princess, I need to grab my house keys from him."

"Okay. The rest of you, out."

I heard a couple of the guys groan in protest, begging for some of her food. I heard the bathroom door click closed behind me.

"Hey, Edward," a deep voice said. "I need my keys, man."

Why was he talking so loud? Suddenly, I felt pain along my jaw when I tried to look at his face.

"How did that little cocktail I put in your drink taste?"

Bile rose in my throat, and I gagged again. He laughed. "Did you really think I'd let you have her? I saw her first."

His words were slurred as my lids protested against me. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Another fist connected, and blackness crept from the edges of my vision until it had taken over. The last thing I remembered was the click of metal.


My head felt like someone was using a jackhammer against my forehead. I groaned when I felt my cottonmouth. I tried to remember what woke me when I felt my heart in my throat.

I felt it then; the hair at the back of my neck stood, my chest ached as sound penetrated through the haze.

Bella was screaming.

I jumped to my feet, but I felt pain at my wrists. What the fuck? I looked and realized I was pinned to the toilet. I tried moving my hands out from under the bowl but it wasn't working. I knelt back down and found that I was in handcuffs. I pulled at them. What the fuck?

"No!" she cried out. I instantly sobered up.

"Bella!" I roared and pulled again. I stood, and my back hunched over the rim.

"Let me go!" she screamed. Bella? What's going on?

Then a fuzzy memory came to me. "Did you really think I'd let you have her? I saw her first."

No!

No!

No!

"Baby! Bella!" I cried out. I pulled at my restraints, hearing the clink of metal against porcelain. I fisted my hands and used my weight, but they wouldn't budge.

"Edward!"

"Oh God," I sobbed. "Don't let this happen! Bella!" Tears clouded my vision as her screams filled the air. Then I heard a deep laughter. I roared and sat back on my haunches, pulling. I barely felt the pain but I could smell the blood. I knelt down long enough to see blood pooling, dripping from my wrists.

"Help me!"

Oh God, please. Hold on, baby.

"I'll kill you, bastard!" I growled, cursing my large hands. I let the cool metal dig further into my skin, bathing my hands in blood.

Then I heard grunts. God no. I roared and tried to get my hands through the holes of the cuffs. My skin was raw but my pain meant nothing.

She screamed again, calling out my name. I kicked at the toilet several times and raged until I felt it move. With my combined weight and movements, the bolts loosened.

"I'll get you, asshole!"

I shoved my chest and shoulder against the bowl, anything to get it to move! I heard something crack, both bone and porcelain. Water started gushing out of the tank. I continued kicking and felt the tank come loose and fall over. My hands were free, but still cuffed.

Everything was a blur when I stood, but that was soon forgotten as Bella screamed again. I ran down the hallway and grabbed the first thing I could get my hands on in the living room.

My hands were slick with blood as I swung what was in my hands over my head, and I smashed my weapon against his back. He grunted and fell to the side.

I could see Bella a few feet away from him, her robe in rags around her. Blood covered her chest and neck. Her eyes wide open and glazed over.

She's dead.

She's dead.

She's dead!

Ringing in my ears, heavy breathing and there was pain everywhere. My head, my chest and very soul. I sobbed and a scream tore through me. I turned and swung and swung, blood tinged his dirty blonde hair. Drops of blood splattered against my neck and face, but I kept going.

I dropped the weapon and fell to my knees. I took Bella's broken body in my arms. I pulled her close, sobbing into her hair. "I'm sorry."

I could hear the sound of distant sirens. It was too late.

"Edward," she gasped.

Everything after that happened so quickly. Bella and I went to the hospital to care for our injuries. The coroners' report said I bludgeoned Bella's rapist with a fireplace poker forty-three times. Charlie and my lawyer made some suggestions.

I was arrested two days later. With my criminal record, and the nature of how he died, I plead guilty to Manslaughter 2.

I don't regret killing him. I just regret that there is nothing I can do to change what happened. I could what if until I was out of breath and nothing would've changed.

I love Bella, and I will until my dying day.

Day 2555:

I am almost free.

Richard had given me a plastic bag to put all my letters and pictures in. Inside that bag was a message from Marcus. I was dressed in worn jeans that Bella sent over, a green t-shirt and leather jacket.

"Take care of yourself, Cullen," Seth said, slapping his hand in mine.

"I will."

Jeff held out his hand and I slipped him my last few cigarettes. "Take care."

After a few goodbyes, Richard and some asshole guard who I hated, led me through the halls.

"Good luck, Cullen," Richard said. "Have a burger for me."

I grinned and nodded. I walked the last stretch before the outer doors. I saluted the guards in the towers, internally flipping them off.

I opened the door and took a deep breath, my first taste of freedom. "Edward!" I heard Bella squeal and then she surrounded me.

My angel was back in my arms. She kissed my face repeatedly as her legs wrapped around my waist. I hadn't seen her for thirty days and hadn't been with her for months.

"I love you," I whispered against her eager lips.

"I lo –" but she was cut off and she tensed in my arms.

A microphone was suddenly in my face. "Mr. Cullen, now that you're free, how do you to feel?"

"I feel great!" I said, spinning Bella around. I couldn't wait to take her out for a date, and then we were grabbing Jane, heading to some beach.

"Sir, Mr. Cullen," the damn reporter said. This time I could see a camera, too. "Do you think you'll be able to move on from that night? The night you killed your brother Jasper?"


AN: Beta'd Stratan, thank you. I played a bit with the laws to better accommodate my story. And I'm positive that Edward wouldn't be allowed conjugal visits in Seattle.

Once voting starts I'll let you all know. Thank you for reading.

Erica