DISCLAIMER: Stephanie Meyer owns everything; We just have an overly active imaginations. (apparently angsty and disturbed one's, or at least that's what we are told)
ATTENTION: This story's theme is rape. (among other things)
A/N (Jessi): Humblest apologies for the wait. Hopefully it will be worth it. Rose's POV is always one of my favorites! She just makes you want to pump your fist in the air and shout 'You Go Girl!" LOL. Ha, anyways. On with the show.
A/N#2 (danna0724): As per the usual… if you aren't old enough to buy cig's/porn or vote, please do NOT go any further! ALSO… this story is the sole property of Jessi's and Danna's, stealing is a crime, and you don't really wanna be a 'ganker' anyway do ya?
Tortured Soul: Chapter 18
I didn't know who to side with on this particular front. Edward wanted to get back to work. That notion had its own lists pros and cons. Some of the family was for it and some were against it, and then there was me who just hadn't been able to make up my mind yet.
Edward needed a distraction, yes, but I wasn't sure getting back into the courtroom was a good idea. Something just told me that this was going to blow up in his face if he went through with it.
"Edward are you sure about this? Have you talked to Bella about it?" I finally questioned him one day as he was reviewing a stack of case files his side of the firm was holding at the moment.
It wasn't just Edward I was worried about. Bella was in Washington, and while holding her own, not getting any better either. I didn't know what this kind of move forward in Edward's life would do to the progress she had made. I didn't, necessarily want to confront her about it, but Edward wasn't picking up the phone to talk to her about anything either.
"Yes, I'm sure. I can't just sit here, and do nothing anymore. I have to do something, Rose."
"Then why don't you do something with your wife," I retorted perhaps a little harsher than I meant to. "Have you even called since she left?"
Edward flinched at my words effectively answering my question.
"She left, Rose. What am I supposed to do, huh? She didn't want to be with me. I can't think about that all the time anymore. I'm just going to take a simple case, okay, just a cut and dry in and out plea deal or something. I just need to get my feet wet again."
I took a deep breath to clear my head. I couldn't just think about Bella either. Edward was also healing and I needed to remember that. Edward mended in a totally different way than Bella. However, the end result was the same; they both had inner demons to battle. This was Edward's way of doing so, and I had to respect and support him with his decision.
"All right, so what are our case options here?" I asked ignoring his surprised expression. Yes, I was going to help Edward now too.
"Rose, do you have those files that I asked for?" Edward maniacally started shuffling through his files.
I sucked in a large breath and repressed an eye roll. I was all for Edward getting back to work, but jeez he could be so needy. Did I look like I was two years old and couldn't get together files or something?
"Yes, I got your damn files. You've only asked me that like thirty times. Chill out, this is not your first court case!" I vented a little, as Edward just shot me a glare and held out his hand for the files in question.
"I'm liking the ex for this," he stated quietly, leafing through the stack I handed him.
Neither one of us really knew what to make of this case. Evidence wasn't adding up, and neither were statements. I had even called Jenks who was still trying to make heads or tails of this mess. Edward's typical cases were corporate law in nature, but this case he took on seemed to be more and more like an unwarranted termination of employment, which baffled me in more ways than one. The client was mousy and tentative to say the least, thus why I called in Jenks. I just can't see how she could be released without cause, and even more of a clusterfuck is why would she be taking them to court for it, she wasn't a 'seeker' or aggressive in the slightest sense of the word.
I could tell he was nervous. He kept wiping his sweaty palms on his pressed suit pants. I had just had those cleaned and pressed for him! He'd been pacing all morning. We had a case we were hoping was going to stick, exceptional track record for projects and attendance, as well as superior performance evaluations. It would depend on the testimony that was given today. With the testimony of our client and the corporate executive who terminated her, we would know the 'true' grounds, and then go for a nice severance package and recommendations for employment for the client, as she has made it clear that she does not want to regain employment under her former boss.
"Calm down Edward; you'll be fine, you've got this," I said trying my best to reassure him from my seat behind him.
"Something just isn't clicking here Rose. You evaluated Vanessa for her stability; are you sure you aren't leaving anything out in your report? She has an exceptional employment history, and her boss's ex-wife's testimony of him having a short temper and making impulsive decisions is the only supporting evidence we have."
Which, from my limited knowledge on legal proceedings, seemed to be true; however, I had to take into account the patient confidentiality. I could only report what Vanessa had revealed that pertained to her situation. In my final report, I could put that she was holding back, that she was stable but could benefit from further sessions, if anything to delve deeper into some self worth issues I believed she was battling internally.
"I reported everything I could to support your case Edward; my professional findings, as a Psychiatrist, are that she is stable to work. That is what you asked of me and that is what I provided. Jenks found the ex-wife and got that statement. Because the HR department of the company hasn't issued any official statement, we are at the mercy of the testimony; you know that as well as I do."
"I know, I know… I just feel as if Vanessa isn't saying something. To me, to you… and I don't want her to get shafted in this case. She only wants the bare minimum, a severance package and a letter of recommendation… who goes to court for that?"
On the stand first was Edward's client, who was going to testify that, for lack of a better expression, this termination 'blindsided' her and was without cause.
"The evening prior to your termination, you did, in fact, work late. Staying well past business hours, working on a proposal for your boss, Mr. Foster?" Edward started his line of questioning.
"And were you alone in the office?"
"Who else was in the office working late with you?"
"Mr., um… Foster was also in his office."
"So your boss, was well aware that you were working, being dedicated, and completing the project he assigned you?"
"Did he interact with you at all that evening?"
"Yes." Vanessa stated, ringing her hands and averting her eyes, which were starting to tear up.
"And can you describe the interactions you had with Mr. Foster?"
I knew what Edward was doing, he was proving her loyalty and her work ethic, proving that her boss fired her knowing full well she was dedicated and got her job done.
"He… um… called me into his office on a few occasions. He had me fetch things for him, coffee, reports off of the printer…"
"And so Mr. Foster KNEW you were in the building and how late you were there?"
"Yes," she squeaked barely above a whisper.
"And when you completed your work, what happened next? Did you go in to inform Mr. Foster?"
"Yes… I, um… packed up my belongings and walked into his office to see if he needed anything further. He looked flustered and stressed and I didn't want to leave if he still needed assistance. He asked for another cup of coffee from the break room."
"And did you get him that cup of coffee?"
"Yes, just how he likes it."
"Just how likes it-"
"Objection! How does my client likes his coffee have anything to do with these proceedings?" Opposing council called out to the judge.
"I can assure you this has everything to do proving my client was a dedicated and loyal employee," Edward retorted confidently. This is where Edward came alive. It was impressive even to me to watch him in action in a courtroom; he was born for this.
"I'll allow it, but make your point, Mr. Cullen," The judge decided. "You may answer the question, Ms. Makenna."
"Yes, I made him a fresh cup and added cream and sugar per his preference, and took it into him. When I set it on his desk, I spilled a little on the report he was working on."
"And then what happened?"
"He became very upset, he grabbed my wrist and yelled at me for it… I tried apologizing and went to clean it up, offering to print up a new report…"
Vanessa went pale, and looked at her lap, not making eye contact with Edward or anyone else in the room.
"And did you get the opportunity to print up the new report?"
"Uh… no… I didn't."
"So, a simple error that you could have corrected… do you feel that the spilled coffee is grounds for your being terminated?"
"Well, um… when he grabbed my wrist I spilled the rest of the coffee and knocked something off of his desk, and broke it."
"So then breaking a personal item off of his desk, do you feel THAT was grounds to fire you?" Edward was getting flustered; not much was going his way today.
"After that took place he… hurt me," Vanessa said from the stand. I was gripping my seat just to be able to stay in it; this is a turn of events. She hadn't mentioned this previously.
"Hurt you? Could you define what you mean by that? How did he hurt you?" Edward asked her. He needed to build his case, a case that so far wasn't too stable. I'm sure he knew as well as I that this could very well be the piece that we had been missing. All Edward had to do was hold it all together. This was riding on him now.
"He… he…" The poor girl was losing it. This simple case was turning into something I feared Edward wasn't ready for. I had wanted a simple cut and dry case for him to get started back on; this definitely wasn't turning out to be simple.
"It's okay you can tell us. What did he do? You don't have to be afraid," Edward again tried to calm her down.
"He…" Vanessa hesitated again. I was pretty certain she was going to bolt. If I didn't feel so sorry for the girl, I would be boiling mad right now.
"He…" she looked glassy eyed over to the defense table as she attempted to continue. It was then that I finally got it. I got it because I knew what she was struggling to say. I knew because I once struggled to say the same thing. I knew, and now desperately wanted to jump the bar that separated me from Edward to haul him out of here. This wasn't going to go down well.
"He raped me, sir," Vanessa finally managed to squeak out.
The entire courtroom froze. Several jaws hit the floor, and a lot of breath was suddenly expelled from the shock of it all. Eyes shifted from Vanessa to Edward to the defendant and back to Edward. Edward has to say something, but I knew he wasn't going to be able to. Right now, he wanted to turn around and strangle the piece of slime sitting behind him who was whispering to his defense lawyer. Right now, he wanted to pull this young and scared little girl into his arms to tell her everything was going to be all right even though he knew it wasn't. Right now, he wanted to crumble to the floor thinking about Bella.
"Mr. Cullen?" The judge prodded trying to get him to do something, say something. "Mr. Cullen, your witness!"
I wanted to stand and demand a recess; I didn't care how long. We needed one, but I wasn't an attorney, or even an assistant. Thankfully the defense realized the same thing and called for one.
"All right. You all better be prepared for court bright and early tomorrow morning at nine!" The judge glared at Edward, who was still standing stock still in front of Vanessa.
Tomorrow at nine was going be to hell. Actually, I'm thinking it already was.
Jenks chuckled, "Ah, well, yes… Aro spent a small fortune trying to help Marcus and Didyme have children, and there's no proof of course, other than their looks, but a while back, Marcus and Didyme disappeared for a few months, come back and they have twins, that are a few months old. Of course, they say she was in a specialty clinic, getting the best care, and the twins came early and that's why no one noticed her pregnant, but word has it, that is all fabrication. Didyme wanted children, Marcus will give anything to Didyme, and Aro will do anything for Marcus… thus 'paid for babies', no one directly talks about it, but it's physically obvious those children are NOT Marcus's and Didyme's biological kids, they have no resemblance… here wait, I have that shot in color as well." He reaches for his briefcase and produces the same picture I'm looking at, but in color.
"I see what you are saying about the lack of resemblance," I manage, as I pale and my heart stops.
"Oh. My. God," I whisper under my breath taking a look at the stack of 8x10 glossies that Jenks has just slid over to me.
"What is it? Something catch your eye?" Jenks inquires.
"The children," I still can't believe what I'm seeing.
"Yes, I know most peculiar. I'm still looking into their family background to see if I can find anything. However, I wasn't too concerned about that yet. You weren't concerned with the twins, that was just something I was curious about."
"They aren't their children," I stated flatly. I still couldn't believe what I was seeing, but to my eyes there was no question.
"Well we've established that, but what do you mean? The papers on those two are cleaner than anything I've ever seen. No one does that kind of work, no one, only the government," Jenks insisted.
Instead of trying to argue I fished around in my purse until I found an old family picture taken of Edward, Bella, and the twin's, and slid it across the table.
"What does this hav- oh my word," Jenks breathed out as he saw the resemblance. "Now, this is definitely something you have here."
"What am I missing here Dr. Cullen?" Jenks implored genuinely.
"I'm thinking that it's quite possible the Volturi brothers may have had something to do with Bella's incident! My niece and nephew were supposed to be murdered; they killed them, IN FRONT OF BELLA! But these pictures strongly suggest that they are not dead, just stolen. And if we can prove that, we can find out exactly what happened to Bella that night and who she's protecting and why!"
"This whole situation just became a lot more involved, Dr. Cullen. If the Volturi brother's did have something to do with what happened to your sister-in-law with their track record, I would be safe in assuming that there is much more danger here than we previously thought."
My throat went dry, I was at a loss for words, and that didn't happen often. I had so many emotions running through me at tsunami force levels. So many questions, so much doubt, and pain… levels of pain that are beyond fathomable. I didn't care how scary those bastards thought they were, or what their 'track-record' was, Bella is my best friend, my sister, and that was my family they messed with.
This wasn't just about Bella and Edward anymore; this was my niece and nephew… their pain and confusion, and that doesn't even begin to cover what they did to Emmett, Alice, Carlisle or Esme. My whole family suffered, and was torn to shreds because of those jerks. They may think they are untouchable, but they haven't ever crossed me.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold… well, this entire thing has had a few years to cool, and I am a force to be reckoned with. They may have connections, and guns… but I think they underestimate what FAMILY really means. I think it's time they see what I'm capable of, and just how touchable they can be.
"They WILL pay for this! They will pay for what they have done. They are not going to get away with this. We will hunt them down, and we will find them." I was speaking too fast and too loud to be still under the category of rational. How could this happen? There were so many questions and not a single answer other than it did.
"Hold up a minute Rose. Have you forgotten we are talking about the Volturi's? The Voturi's, Rose! No one goes up against this family, and lives to tell about it. Think! Think for a moment, my dear. We can't just barge in with guns blazing." Jenk's sudden panic was not lost to me. He knew me all too well. When it came to family, there wasn't a lot that could stand in my way. He knew if no one reined me in I'd be ninja crawling over the Volutri's front lawn with a Beretta strapped to me.
"Then what can we do? I can't just sit here while they get away with this! It's been over a year Jenks! Edward and Bella are ghosts of the people they used to me. Hell, Jenks! Just a few months ago we thought we were going to lose Bella all together! Edward didn't leave my couch for weeks! Weeks he lay there! The Volturi's will pay for what they have done. They destroyed two people's lives! And for what? They couldn't adopt like every single other family on this planet who can't have kids? Jesus! I-"
"ROSE! Shut it! I care about you and this situation, but stop it! I can't think with you going all Rambo mamma bear on me over there. Now." After Jenks was done getting me to calm down, he sat there pinching the bridge of his nose in thought for a few minutes. The poor man, I probably gave him a headache. I'd seen him pop enough Excedrin extra strength as it was. He didn't need me yelling at him.
"Rose how did the Volturi's know about the children? Are they friends with them?"
"What? No, they're not friends with them! How could you think that! They-"
"Rose! The question."
Right. After this I am definitely going to need a very long vacation.
"I believe the Volturi brothers were clients of the law firm Edward has. His partner, ex-partner now, James Campbell, brought them on as clients."
Jenks stared at me for moment in bewilderment. "Are you sure Edward had nothing to-"
"Don't you even say that! Of course Edward didn't have anything to do with this! Edward could never do that! He loved Bella! He loved- he loves those twins! He-"
"Rose," Jenks was beginning to get fed up with me, I could tell. "I am simply trying to do my job. I have to ask a few pointed questions. Try to bear with me. I'm attempting to get a few of the facts. What I don't need is you jumping all over me at every turn."
Jenks paused to make sure I got his drift.
"Now, we know how they knew Edward. How did they know of the twins? If they were James's clients, how did they ever know more than a name?"
I had to think a moment about this. Bella didn't really like to talk about Edward's work. She'd vent a few times about James, but it was so long ago to remember.
"I think they had first requested Edward. Why I don't know, but they settled for James. Edward had told Bella about how none of the brothers were really able to have children. The only one that wanted them, though, was Marcus. She had felt sorry for them. I don't know how she knew that. She didn't talk about that kind of thing very often."
"And how exactly did Edward come to know of this if they were not his clients? If he turned them down as perspective clients, he wouldn't have had more than cursory conversations with them, and most certainly about nothing so personal."
"I don't know," I answered honestly, "Edward talked about being invited to sit in on meetings with them. They wanted him there, I think. They must have told him things. I don't know why." When I actually thought about it did seem rather odd.
I felt kind of bad, but that was all I could think of.
"You never talked to Edward about his work? He never mentioned anything about what he was doing in conversation?"
I let out a sigh. "No. Edward and I have never really been that close or even really friendly. Sure, we get along. We saw each other at family gatherings, and we sort of grew up together, but… but honestly we only just started to get to know each other." I hated to admit it, but it was the truth. "It's only been since this whole thing started, and when Edward had been staying with us, that we've gotten to know each other better." Yes, I was still hoping to keep the lines of communication open since he'd moved back into his own house.
"Oh. I see." Jenks was disappointed. There wasn't much I could offer. "Well… Oh! Perhaps you could help me with something. I have a few more pictures here, and there is someone in them and I can't figure out for the life of me who he is. He's not security detail and he's not family. Perhaps he has had a connection to Edward in the past." Jenks voice was muffled him already rooting around in this briefcase and flipping through various folders. "Here they are. This man here," Jenks said sliding a few 8x10s, of a seemingly happy family all smiling and having fun, my way. He pointed out the man in question.
It was a face I would have known anywhere.
The bastard had cut his hair, and looked totally different because of it, but it was still unmistakably him.
"Jenks, get me anything and EVERY thing you can on my niece and nephew… I want copies of any piece of paper that pertains to them; I want any pictures you can scrape up, but most important… I don't care how or who you have to kill to get it, I want that evidence you provided for Edward again…" I began.
"Dr. Cullen, like I said, there was only…"
"No fucking excuses! Where there is a will there is a way, and my will is strong and I will find a way, with or without you!" I seethed.
"Well the main server that had the video evidence might be hacked, but that is beyond my level of…"
"THAT won't be a problem, you get me a direction to start in, and I'll provide the hacker," I stated simply. Hell, what good is it being married to a graduate of MIT, if I couldn't use him for this? I do believe it's time to inform the family.
I reached for my cell and hit the speed dial for my husband, not sure exactly how to approach this. He has always been so protective of me, and if I don't handle this right, HE is the one person that could derail my plans.
On the second ring, he picked up. "Hey babe, I was just thinking of you!"
"Em, I need some of your expertise in computers, would you be willing to help me out?"
"Just say the word and I'm there."
A/N #1: (Jessi)- W.O.W. It's done. FINALLY! I can go collapse somewhere, and clear my brain before I start working on the next one. Just because this has been such a production and unbelievable effort bear with me while I get up on my soapbox for a minute. I need to thank Danna. Girl! You've been through so much, and yet here you still find the time to help me come up with amazing chapters like this. I couldn't do this without ya. Then there is Songster our Beta… you even has to make sure my A/N ramblings make sense blushes. We love ya darlin'. Thanks bunches and bunches to both of you.
AN #2 (danna0724)~ whew… 2011 has been a rough start… only half way through this bitch and I've dealt with death (ex husband), cancer (again), surgery, my hubby's career being taken from him due to injury, a move cross country, a hormonal and emotionally distraught teenage girl, uncontrollable twin 5 year olds… oh the list can go on and on… but you know what? We are all blessed… even when it doesn't feel like it, and it might feel hopeless… as I tell my teenager, the old cliché is true, that God knows what he is doing… we may not see it, understand it, or agree with it, but He does know what he's doing, and we will NOT know why until we are ready to be enlightened. I love each and every one of you, and give praise to my truly fabulous collaborator, Jessi… her kind words, and sweet demeanor… oh and patience… the level of patience this woman has is astounding! I 3 her hard!
Until Next Time.
Love you all!