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Edge of Deception
They waited a couple of days, before approaching her parents about their engagement, giving her dad some time to cool off from the dinner fiasco. Bella sat beside Anthony in his Volvo and tried to prepare herself mentally to go inside the house; she shared with her parents.
She understood her father was under a lot of stress from work, with the murder case he had been working on since she was eleven, as well as some of the petty crimes surfacing in the past few months. He was overburdened, and worried about her, though it still did not give him a right to treat her boyfriend now fiancé with disrespect.
She unconsciously played with the engagement ring on her finger twisting it round and round, the only thing that stopped her movements was Anthony's firm voice.
"Bella, stop fidgeting. It's not like you are confessing to a murder."
"Easy for you to say," she laughed.
Anthony leaned over and kissed her forehead before sighing and opened his door to get out and walk around his Volvo to open her door.
"They will find out eventually, so we might as well get it over with," Anthony whispered hand extended.
With another sigh she took his offered hand and let him help her out of his car down the sidewalk and up the front steps to her home.
Her mother, Anthony and she were all seated in the living room when her father came around the corner, still in uniform, still armed, and tried not to make a face when he spied them sitting together on the loveseat.
Bella rolled her eyes at the apparent snub toward Anthony, not making her feel any better about her news. Seeing her worried expression, her mother spoke up.
"Bella what is going on? Why did you want to talk to your father and I?" she asked.
Anthony took that moment to speak up, "We have something we would like to tell you."
Bella watched as her father's expression went from strained pleasantness to wariness in a millisecond. Charlie raised an eyebrow at Anthony, gave him a penetrating stare.
"What happened this time? Are you hurt? I swear Masen if you did anything to harm-" Charlie's rampage got cut short as Bella interrupted.
"Dad please stop getting worked up," Bella said after a moment of loaded silence. "Everything is okay."
"Really, then why so nervous," Charlie asked suspiciously.
Though the question was directed toward Bella, her father was now glaring daggers at Anthony. Who was the picture of calm in the face of her father's anger?
"Charles," her mother warned; followed by a long silence from everyone. Bella realized that they were all waiting for her to continue. She looked up at Anthony pleading with her eyes for help because she knew she could not get the words out.
Anthony smiled reassuringly at her and then squared his shoulders and turned to look at her father.
"Bella and I have recently become engaged. We're getting married Charlie. I love her, and she loves me too."
Bella could not believe how calm he sounded, so sure.
And then she caught sight of the expression on Charlie's face, his eyes now locked on the ring. A number of emotions crossed his face as he stared all the while her mother was squealing in delight and demanding to see her ring. Gradually her father seemed to come around, gazing at her with a deep thoughtful expression, studying the two of them for a long moment.
"You sure about this," Charlie demanded.
"Yes, I am sure."
"I am not that surprised. Even if you know where I stand on this subject with him," Charlie grumbled.
"This is what I want, and I would like for you and mom to be happy for me."
"I know sweetheart, I just-"
"Please dad." Bella begged.
"Bella dear, have the two of you set a date yet?" Her mother asked, trying to break the apprehension between them.
Bella turned her head to look at Anthony and he gave her a reassuring smile and squeeze of her hand.
"We have talked about getting married in February, on Valentine's Day of next year."
"February, why so soon?" her father scoffed.
"Charlie," Renee' scolded. "February is a good six months away and it's not like the two of them haven't been dating for almost a year now. Why are you being so difficult?"
"I just think it's a little rushed, why not give it another year to be sure this is what you want," her dad tried to reason.
"There is no rush, I know what I want, and that is to get married to Anthony, as soon as possible."
"Well, honey I am happy for the both of you." Renee' cried as she stood from her chair and embraced her daughter and then Anthony in a huge hug. "I can't wait to start planning for the wedding; oh this is going to be great." She gushed with excitement.
"Mom, please I am not ready yet, we still have to tell Anthony's family, and a few of our friends.
"Bella dear it's never too soon to start planning a wedding," Renee' explained excitedly. "Oh I have to call your grandmother."
Later that evening, Bella and Anthony left her parents' house feeling relieved that her father had taken the news so well.
"That went better than I had thought." Anthony said.
"Now there is just one more thing we have to do.
"And that would be." Bella asked curiously.
"To tell my family," he whispered.
Bella's face paled, as she thought about telling his family especially his grandfather, whom made it clear he did not like her. She just hoped that they took their news as well as Charlie had or there was going to be a problem.
Two weeks later Edward escorted Bella into the Parlor where his family gathered to await their presence. He was filled with nervous energy to announce to them he had finally decided to settle down, and hoped they would agree with the woman he had chosen to be his wife. They all were staring expectantly at the two of them as he led Bella over to the loveseat and sat down. He could feel Bella's anxiety and protectively slipped an arm around her waist, and held her firmly against his side.
"Bella you remember my mother Esme, and my father Carlisle," he asked, to break the uncomfortable silence.
"Yes, pleased to see the both of you," Bella said with a nod of her head.
"You too dear," Esme gushed.
"My grandfather, Alistair," he introduced sending a glare toward his grandfather in warning.
Bella swallowed, nodding her head and smiled weakly.
"You already know Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie."
Bella nodded her head in acknowledgement, as a small silence filled the room.
"Why did you want to meet before dinner this evening?"
Alice asked from across the room, to impatient to let him finish with the pleasantries.
Edward took a deep breath, and quickly made eye contact with everyone in the room. "I have an announcement to make, and thought it would be appropriate for everyone to be present."
Everyone just stared at him not saying a word waiting for him to continue.
"Everyone," Edward said before he reached for Bella's hand. "Bella and I have become engaged, we are getting married."
Alice, Rosalie and his mother gasped while his father gave him a smile. It was his grandfather's reaction that he worried about the most for the old man just sat there glaring at Bella as if she was the scum of the earth.
"Married," Alistair suddenly spat. "You're getting married."
"Yes," Edward answered stiffening defensively, and pulling Bella's shaking form even closer to his side.
"When did you make this decision," Alistair fumed.
"Father," Carlisle warned. But Alistair ignored his son.
Alistair glared at Edward his face blotched with anger. "I do not think she would be able to fit into our lifest-"
"You do not know that," Edward said cutting him off. Furious for almost letting it slip about the lifestyle he and his family led. "You know nothing about her, other than what I or Bella has divulged."
"You need someone more suitable," Alistair said then nodded his head toward Bella. "I doubt that she would understand us given a chance."
Edward stiffened in anger when he saw puzzlement cross Bella's beautiful face he silently cursed the old bastard. He knew Bella was unaware of their lifestyle and did not appreciate him trying to use it to ruin what he had with Bella.
"I would never use your grandson for his money if that is what you are referring to." Bella said softly. "Though my family is less fortunate I have never been impressed by how much money someone has."
"See what I mean, she has no clue-"
"Alistair," Esme said in a loud, clear voice, interrupting him. "That is enough try for my son's sake to show some respect. Especially to Bella, she does not deserve this from you."
"Humph," Alistair murmured.
"Have the two of you set a date yet?" Esme asked, trying to break the uneasiness between them.
Bella turned her head to look at him and he gave her a reassuring smile and squeeze of her hand.
"We have talked about getting married in February, on Valentine's Day of next year." Edward answered his mother.
"February," Alistair scoffed. "That is not far away."
"Alistair," Esme scolded. "February is a good six months away. Why are you being so difficult?"
Alistair just glared at her, displeasure of their news written all over him, from the way he held himself to the look of incredulity on his face.
"Well I am happy for you brother, even if grandfather is not." Alice cut in as she moved forward to hug him and then Bella. "Oh I cannot wait to help plan the wedding." She squealed in delight.
"Yes congratulations," Jasper chimed in, shaking his hand.
"Now see here," Alistair tried to say.
Everyone was suddenly surrounding them with congratulations. Though Edward was aware of Alistair glowering at them from across the room, he knew as soon as he had a chance his grandfather would corner him. For now he would ignore him while the rest of the family congratulated them. He just hoped that Bella could get past one evening in his grandfather's presence without feeling offended by the old bastard.
"Well I think it's time to show Bella to her rooms." Esme, said as she stood up trying to break the awkward silence that now filled the room. "So she can get ready for dinner."
Edward could fill Bella's alarm before he even glanced at her, and could tell by her expression that she was surprised that it would be she and not him showing her where her rooms were. He gave her an amused smirk. For he had known that his mother was going to be old fashioned, and to make sure they remained in separate rooms until her stay was over.
Once Bella was no longer staring at him he glanced at his grandfather who was scowling at her, and his eyes darkened with temper. He knew as soon as his mother left the room with Bella the old man would pounce.
"I just need to get my bag," he heard Bella say.
"Oh there is no need your bag has already been seen to, if you'll just follow me dear." Esme said gesturing for her to follow her out of the room; Rosalie and Alice following right behind them.
"So this is what you've been keeping from me?" Alistair hissed angrily as soon as the women left the room.
"Yes," Edward sighed.
"Is she the reason why you've been neglecting in your duties, why I was forced into breaking the engagement between you and Tanya Denali?" Alistair asked in a deadly voice.
"She had nothing to do with that," he said stiffly.
"This Belinda, is she not the same girl I've been warning you about for months now, the very one that you said was the FUCKING POLICE CHIEFS DAUGHTER?" Alistair shouted the last words.
"Her name is, Bella," Edward said tightly. "And yes she is one and the same."
"And there the problem lies." Alistair sneered.
"Fuck you, Bella is not the problem and never will be. As I said I've been working around the clock to get to the bottom of our problems, some of them have already been taken care of."
"See that you do," Alistair snarled, "We don't need any more…especially with the Gangster's ball being held in October."
"What do you mean?"
"If you're marrying this girl, you will have to announce it to the mafia world that she will become your wife. Do you think you're ready to do that?"
"What? You cannot be serious?" Edward bellowed. "There will already be bad blood we don't need to add more."
"Oh I'm very serious. After all the prince of the Cullen crime family needs a wife to make the future heir. Having the Police Chiefs daughter as that woman will cause a lot of problems I am not sure you are ready for, unless…" He paused and glanced in Carlisle's direction and received a silent nod from him before he continued. "You take on a mistress or two."
Edward's back stiffened even more, and he tried with difficulty to reel in his temper. Oh he understood where he was going with this topic of conversation for the woman a mobster made there wife was the one they truly loved, and the mistress was the other woman kept around to make it look like they did not care for the wife. It had been like this for years in the Cullen crime family to protect the wife and kids from their enemies. But that still did not give him the right to insinuate that Bella was not worthy to be his wife, and he'd be better off with a mistress.
Edward shook his head in denial. "I will not have a mistress on the side. Bella is the only one I want."
Alistair Cullen leaned back in his chair once again, and continued to glare at Edward, "I assume she knows nothing about our lifestyle of crime and murder?"
Edward did not answer just shook his head no.
"You need to think about the consequences of bringing a woman into this lifestyle that you haven't even begun to tell her about. What are you going to do wait until you're married and then tell her? Oh to see her reaction the day the truth comes out." Alistair laughed nastily. "That is why I am telling you, you need to find a more suitable woman that will understand this lifestyle. Or you could just…" He paused.
Edward stubbornly sat there glaring at his grandfather, he knew he had a point but he was too stubborn to admit to it. "Or I could just what?"
"End it now before it gets to complicated."
Edward turned to look at his father with a confounded look upon his face, "You can't seriously be approving of this?"
Carlisle took a deep breath, "I did not want to say anything in front of your mother but I think it will be in the best interest of the family to do this."
"Your both fucking crazy," Edward snarled letting his temper get the better of him. There was no way in hell he was going to end his relationship with Bella. "I will not be marrying anyone but, Bella, and I will not be taking a mistress either. Nor will I even consider ending anything with her."
"I still am the head of this family. My word is law, and if I tell you to do something you will do it or face the consequences of your actions," Alistair warned.
"Are you threatening me?" Edward demanded harshly. "Because you saw how far that got you the last time; or are you still harboring anger towards me when I overruled you months ago to have you and the rest of the men interrogated. Is this your form of revenge against me?"
"Oh it's no threat…just a fact." Alistair drawled.
Edward slammed his fist down on the coffee table, "I will not let you dictate to me whom I am to marry. I will not…I repeat not be marrying someone that was handpicked by you and my father. Bella is the only one for me. If I can't have her…marry her, than you can kiss you're fucking future heir goodbye."
"So what you're telling me is that you have decided to put a stop to your philandering ways and settle down. Because this significant girl has captured your heart when all the other women you bedded have not. You sure you're going to be able to get rid of all those whores for the sake of one."
"Yes," Edward answered.
"How do you think you're going to be able to pull that off when you have women throwing themselves at you constantly? Luckily you have not gone and gotten any of them pregnant, but still if you make Bella your wife you still might want to think about keeping a few as mistresses. Even your father and I had mistresses."
"Fuck you! I am not you or my father." He bellowed as he rose up from the loveseat. "I'm not taking any mistresses. I told you Bella will be my wife or so help me I will refuse to marry anyone. Do I Make Myself Clear?"
"Listen here," Alistair bellowed, "Just because you're the heir to this family does not give you the right to defy me. Do not think for a minute I can't take it all away."
Edward glared angrily, deciding not to say anything.
"Well what do you have to say?" Alistair demanded of him.
Edward stiffened, at his words. "Get to the point you are trying to make already for fucks sake," he snarled.
"Fine…You have responsibilities to your family." His grandfather repeated himself.
'My responsibilities," he laughed harshly. "My responsibilities are dammed, if you do not consent to this marriage." Edward shouted. His hands fisted at his sides as he tried to control his temper.
"Do not talk to me like that." His grandfather spat out the last word in disgust.
"Bella is the one I want." Was all Edward could get out of his suddenly clenched teeth.
"You dare to disobey me?" his grandfather asked in a menacing tone. His eyes even from across the room bored into Edwards. Alistair was not the type of man to defy. He didn't get by all these years being a soft man.
Edward shook his head disgust written all over his face. "Do not ask me to do this, for I won't be able to do so," he pleaded. They did not understand what such an action would do to him. To even think of breaking from her would likely kill him. He did not lower his eyes from his fathers, nor did he back down from his grandfather.
Alistair rose from his chair and turned his back to him as he walked over to where the liquor cabinet was and poured him a drink. He turned back around to face him a hard, cold look in his eyes and said in a low deadly voice, "If you insist on having your way, then you leave me no choice."
Rage suddenly consumed Edward; the power of it caused an electrical current to fill the room with tension. "What,' He spat through clenched teeth.
"I do not give you my consent to marry this girl, and will do everything in my power to make sure it does not happen."
Edward was barely able to see past the red haze that clouded his vision. He was slowly losing control and giving reign to the sinister monster that he was. His hand brushed up against the gun nestled on his side hidden beneath his suit jacket, his fingers itched to draw it out and shoot the bloody bastard between the eyes.
"And I will be marrying her come February whether I have your consent or not."
His grandfather was aware of his grandson's dark mood, though it did not deter him, "Then you leave me no choice, I will take necessary action to prevent this from continuing."
The monster in Edward snarled, and raged. "You will not touch her,"he spat out, his fists balled together so tightly his arms began to tremble knuckles turned white from the pressure, of trying not to lose control.
"I will do what I must; unless you agree to my terms," His grandfather snapped.
"I'll warn you now grandfather, if Bella is harmed in any way you will wish for a quick death before I get done with you." Edward snarled with fury.
His grandfather stared into Edwards eyes the message in both was loud and clear, he would stop at nothing to make sure he did not marry Bella, and Edward knew he would do whatever was in his power to protect her and keep that from happening. His grandfather would have to kill him to keep him from marrying her.
"Father," Carlisle, said, finally deciding to come to his son's rescue, "Maybe we need to give Edward time to think things through. As you said the Mobster's ball is slowly approaching. If he still decides to make Bella Swan his wife then he will have to tell her about whom he is and this lifestyle. If she accepts the truth of what he is they both will need time to adjust to the prospect of a mafia marriage." He tried to reason with his father, he picked up on the implication of Edward's words earlier of being in love with this woman. If that was true he knew that his son would never willingly let her go. He was too much like his mother in that way.
"Did you not hear what I said?" Alistair asked his son.
"Yes, and I think you need to let Edward come to terms with everything you just told him. Give him time is all that I ask."
Alistair stood up straight, moving to his full height. His arms crossed in front of his chest as he contemplated what his son was asking him. With a nod of his head, "I'll give you until the night of the Gangster's ball to make your decision concerning this matter…. I hope for your sake as well as the girls you make the right one," he said with menace, all the while staring intently into his grandson's eyes.
Without another word Alistair decided to take his leave, he turned and walked out of the parlor leaving a seething Edward to stand gazing at his retreating back, fighting to control the raging monster that was trying to consume him.
"If I were you I would think about what you are going to do. Use this time wisely, and I hope for both your sakes you make the right decision." Carlisle warned him.
Edward glared annoyed at his father; "You think I should be grateful to you for this?" he spat.
"Listen to me son; I sense that there is something between you and Bella, more than just lust. You will have no choice but to marry, though it has always been preferred to a mafia princess. Believe it or not your mother and I also had an arranged marriage, and it turned out for the better, the only difference was she was in my world of crime, and understood this lifestyle." He said as he placed a hand on his shoulder, "No one is saying that you cannot have Bella. At one time I did have a mistress."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Edward asked roughly, taking a step away from his father who had no choice but to lower his hand. Did his father actually have a mistress while being married to his mother…a woman he knew his father to this day was madly in love with?
"I'm saying you have until the Gangster's ball to decide whether or not you want to keep this girl in your life and as to what role she will play. I just hope no matter what decision you make your ready for the consequences, because there will be some."
Edward stubbornly stood there not wanting to admit that his father had a point, but there was no way he would ever disgrace Bella by asking her to be his mistress, and he was not going to marry anyone else other than Bella, so it looked like it was a stalemate. "Damned if I do, damned if I don't," he mumbled under his breath low enough his father did not hear him.
"I need to go find your mother and get ready for dinner," Carlisle walked toward the door, before he stopped to turn and look in his direction, "Just think about what I said…I would hate to see you destroyed, by the decision you make," he said before turning and walking out of the room.
"Fucking hell," Edward whispered running his hands frustratingly though his hair, before sitting back down on the loveseat. That did not go as planned.
He thought everyone would be okay with his decision, besides his grandfather, but to have his father against it as well…was almost too much for him to take. What pissed him off the most was threatening Bella; as long as he lived and breathed no one was going to hurt her. She was and will be his main concern for protection, and if he was forced to he would kill anyone who got in his way.
"Well that did not go well at all," Emmett said out of nowhere.
Edward glared angrily at Emmett before standing and walking out of the room, before he did something he would regret. He needed to calm down the last thing he wanted was to have Bella see him like this.
"What," Emmett asked looking toward Jasper, as they watched Edward's retreating back.
"Way to go dumb ass," Jasper hissed smacking him on the back of the head.
Under other circumstances, Bella would have been delighted with the room to which Esme Mason led her. Unlike the downstairs parlor, the blue bedroom was large and airy. Sunlight streamed in through white curtains and speckled the old-fashioned four-poster bed. Charming floral prints hung on the walls. She smiled politely as Anthony's mother rambled on about the room and the mansions' history.
But her thoughts were concentrated on Anthony and his grandfather. She could still see the dark expression on Anthony's face as his mother led her from the parlor. All the way up the wide, curving staircase, she'd been sure she could feel his eyes as well as his grandfather's boring into her back. He had been so angry at his grandfather.
She'd had to fight the urge to spin around and tell Alistair that whatever he felt for her was mutual. But she had not wanted to disappoint Anthony or his mother who seemed delighted about their engagement. So here she was a guest in her fiancé's home and unwanted by his grandfather who made it clear he was reluctant with his grandson's engagement to her. It still confused her as to why Anthony needed his family's approval to marry anyone…it was as if they were stuck in another century when the rich had to marry for privilege and money and not for love.
It was an impossible situation. But it was not Anthony or his mother's fault. And, even without Anthony beside her she still did not have the heart to speak her mind in front of his mother; she simply couldn't be that unkind.
His mother was too warm and hospitable.
One evening, she thought as Esme prattled on, just one evening. She could certainly manage to get past Anthony's ungrateful grandfather for just one evening. Couldn't she?
After a few moments, Esme laughed self-consciously. "Forgive me, Bella," she said. "I tend to go on."
Bella began to protest, but Esme shook her head.
"I suppose it's just a pleasure to have my son's fiancée' come to visit." She leaned forward, her eyes searching, her voice a whisper. "He's never brought a woman here before, you know. Isn't that right Alice?"
"Oh yes, my brother has never brought anyone here he was interested in." Alice agreed happily.
Esme's lips drew up in a smile as she smoothed imaginary wrinkles from the blue and white bedspread.
"And that's how I knew when he showed up with you this evening that you were very important to him. I can't tell you how pleased I am with his choice for a bride."
Bella gave her a soft, shy smile. She was glad that some of his family was elated about his announcement. Except for one it seemed, then again what did it matter?
One evening, she only had to manage one evening…
"It warms my heart to see the way he looks at you." Esme said putting her hand lightly on Bella's, her touch light. "Such intensity; I felt as if the two of you could spark a fire with the force of your stare. If you know what I mean."
Alice and Rosalie laughed, and Bella watched as Alice fanned herself behind her mother.
Bella swallowed, nodding her head and smiled weakly. "Yes, I suppose so."
Esme smiled, too. "Now, then, drinks in the parlor at seven," she stepped into the hall. "Dinner at seven-thirty; If you need anything in the mean time I am sure my son would be more than willing to get it for you. Alice and Rosalie let Bella alone so she can get cleaned up before dinner."
The door swung gently shut behind them. Bella stared at it, and then sank down on the edge of the bed. Yes she definitely needed a drink, to get through this evening with his family, and she thought hers as bad. Sighing, she began stripping off her clothing. She'd glimpsed an assortment of bath oils and lotions in the bathroom. A long, hot soak might relax her. Something had to, or she doubted if she'd get through drinks and dinner without marching up to Alistair Mason and tossing a glass of wine in his old handsome face.
It was, she thought grimly, going to be a very long evening.
An hour later looking at herself in the mirror, she'd smoothed down the skirt of the gown she was wearing. If she gauged things correctly, people in Anthony's family dressed nicely for dinner. Well, she'd thought, lifting her chin at her reflection, as long as she was here, she'd play her role properly.
She knew Alistair Mason thought she was something less than a lady. She was determined to prove him wrong. Perhaps not letting him see how much he grated on her would prove even more satisfying.
At ten minutes past seven, Bella and Anthony came slowly down the carpeted stairs; she strained to hear the sound of voices from the parlor. Esme had sounded as if she expected her to be prompt; But Bella was unwilling to find herself in the parlor alone with Alistair if she could avoid it. She didn't have to worry though because Anthony had met her at her door with a loving smile and escorted her to their destination, though he seemed tense and distracted.
'Are you alright?" she asked him as they made their way down the stairs.
Anthony glanced at her a small smile on his lips, but it did not reach his eyes.
"Yes I am fine."
Bella frowned for she knew by the way he held himself that there was something bothering him.
Anthony seeing her look of concern patted her hand that lay on his arm, "I am fine there is nothing to be worried about," he tried to reassure her.
"You just seem a little off, I just thought-"
"Well don't. I am just happy to have you here with me knowing that you will be my wife in a few short months."
Bella smiled her body filled to overflowing with love for this man in that moment, "I am happy too," she said.
They continued down the long winding staircase in silence, when they reached the bottom, Bella paused. The moment's courage she'd gained seeing her reflection in the mirror of her room was fast fading. She might look like a sophisticate but just now she felt like a child at a masquerade.
"Everything will be fine," Anthony leaned in to whisper in her ear.
Her heart skipped a beat and thudded against her ribs, at his encouragement. This was ridiculous she had nothing to worry about. She was letting Alistair Mason intimidate her, and for what? He was the one who'd behaved badly, not she.
Bella squared her shoulders. She would be every inch the lady tonight. Let the old man make what he could out of that.
They paused at the parlor door. There was a sudden fluttering in her stomach but she ignored it.
"Here goes nothing," Anthony murmured.
Quickly she took a deep breath, and then stepped into the dining room with Anthony at her side. The room seemed brighter now, with lights lit and the French doors open to the evening air. Alistair and Anthony's father Carlisle were at the far end, their backs to them.
"Good evening everyone," Anthony said, getting everyone's attention.
They all turned towards them, and Bella's smile faltered a little.
Esme smiled. "Come in. How lovely you look Bella. Doesn't she *mio figlio ( myson)?"
"Yes lovely as always, Mamma." Anthony said as his eyes moved over her slowly, lingering on the soft curve of her breasts, traveling down the length of her body, and then returning to her face.
"You're late," Alistair said shortly. "I do not like to be kept waiting."
"I'm sorry I lost track of time," Bella said flushing with embarrassment.
"Grandfather," Anthony warned, as his arm slid around her waist protectively.
"I'm just stating a fact," Alistair said smugly before turning to saunter over to the table and seated himself.
Once seated she found a glass of dark red wine held in front of her face, "Wine?" Alistair asked a cool smile curved his wrinkled face. "You are old enough to drink wine, aren't you, Belinda?"
Bella felt her flush deepen. "It's, Bella," she said, pleased with how calm she sounded. "And yes, I'm old enough."
The cool smile came again, and cold calculating eyes glared at her with a hint of something else she could not decipher. "Yes. I'm certain you are."
She took the glass from Alistair, her chin raised in defiance, "Thank you."
He nodded than turned his head away from her to start a conversation with Carlisle, and the tension at the table seemed to lessen.
"Here let me take a sip of your wine," Anthony leaned down to whisper into her ear, as he took the glass from her hand.
"What, why," Bella asked confused by Anthony's behavior. It was as if he thought it was poisoned or something.
"I just want to make sure it's not warm." Anthony said tilting the glass to his lips and tasted the dark red liquid, his eyes steely and glaring pointedly at his grandfather watching them intently. He took a few more sips, and when he was satisfied he placed her glass on the table in front of her. "It's chilled perfectly; you'll really love the flavor."
She watched as another silent exchange crossed between the two men, and the tension at the table became noticeable once again.
"Bella don't let grandfather get to you," Alice whispered to her, trying in vain to distract her from the obvious tension between Anthony and his grandfather.
"Am I that obvious," she asked.
Alice giggled softly, "Yes and it's not as bad as you may think."
"What," Bella asked giving her a disbelieving look.
"He's giving you and Anthony a hard time because he knows he's losing."
"What do you mean?"
"Grandfather does not offer just anyone his prized wine…unless you are family or considered becoming a part of it." Alice stated.
"Alice is right. Alistair is considering." Esme said, "Don't worry Bella; he can be kind when he wants to be."
No man could be colder, was more like it, Bella thought, as she smiled politely in return. Alistair had paid her no more attention than he would a servant, and the way he spoke and looked at her had told her very clearly what he thought of her.
Not that she wanted him to pay her too much attention, though being nice to her would be a huge improvement…
"….staying the night?"
Bella's gaze flew to Esme's. She was smiling at her, clearly waiting for her to answer whatever question it was that she'd asked.
Bella swallowed drily. "I'm sorry, Esme. Did you…?"
"Esme?' Alistair's gray brows rose as he turned to her, and a sardonic smile flitted across his mouth, "How cozy."
She could feel Anthony stiffen beside her, and spoke up before he could, "It was Anthony's mother's suggestion that I call her that." Bella said. "If you don't approve-"
Esme interrupted them. "Beatrice is here with dinner," she said, as an older maid entered through one of the many doors into the dining room, followed by two butlers, "Alistair poor me another glass of wine. We don't want to let such a fine old bottle go to waste."
Bella gave Esme a grateful smile, as Alistair poured her another glass of wine, taking his attention off of her.
She looked around the dining room to see it was lit by an elaborate chandelier, the table set with china, crystal, and fine sterling cutlery. The food was equally gracious. But the meal seemed interminable. Bella was painfully aware of Alistair's determination to snub her. He never initiated any conversation between them it was always Anthony's mother or Alice, and then he who had no choice but to follow through.
Bella's discomfort grew. Alistair treatment of her was unfair. She wasn't a pariah, although he was treating her as one.
"More wine, Bethany?"
Alistair Mason's voice was smooth. She looked across the table at him, her checks flushing with embarrassment and anger, when she saw the mockery in his eyes.
She had had enough to drink. More than enough: she was having trouble eating. Still what did it matter? The wine, at least, went down smoothly.
"Yes," she said recklessly. "Thank you."
"Bella," Esme smiled at her. "You never did answer my question. Are you staying the night?"
"Bella's not staying I will be taking her back home tonight," Anthony answered, his mouth curved in a hint of a smile.
Esme sighed. "That's unfortunate. I'd hoped you would be staying on a bit. I had planned on asking you to spend the rest of your holiday here."
The look on Alistair's face caused a chill to run down Bella's back.
"And I'd have accepted," she said pleasantly. "If only I were staying."
Esme smiled delightedly, "Well, then, at least you'll stay until tomorrow."
Bella stared at her. "No," she said quickly. "I mean, I'd be happy to, But I have to get back home. I promised my mother I would help her set up the firework display at the police annual Fourth of July fair they have every year in town."
"Oh do not be foolish, my son can take you back home tomorrow so you can at least watch the fireworks with us."
A muscle tightened in Anthony's jaw. "If Bella has to get back, mother, we can't very well stop her."
"And we'll get you back to your home in plenty of time for you to help your mother." Esme said, as if no one had offered objections.
"If Beatrice, stays you'll have to cancel our dinner plans with Jane Osborne, and her family." Alistair said impatiently.
Anthony's brows rose. "Jane Osborne?"
"Yes you remember Jane, don't you? That pretty blonde-haired girl, the one you met at the Christmas party last year?" Alistair drawled.
Anthony sighed angrily, running a frustrated hand through his reddish brown hair, "I don't know," he said wryly. "You managed to fill the house up with a lot of people that day, as usual."
Bella stiffened in annoyance, had Anthony been interested in someone else before they met, she thought as she glanced quickly at him to see he was glowering at his grandfather. Or was this just a tactic to try and break them up, by making her jealous.
"Who's Jane?" she asked, not seeming to be able to help herself. The satisfied smirk on Alistair's face had her kicking herself under the table at her own stupidity for falling for it.
"No one important," Anthony said a hint of hostility in his voice.
"Well that's not what she thinks…you two were really close. She's looking forward to seeing you again." Alistair supplied with a leer.
Yep, he was definitely trying to rattle her cage, Bella thought as she looked at him annoyed, and she was letting him.
"Don't do that on my account," Bella said quickly trying to make it seem as if his words did not bother her, when in actuality they did she could feel jealousy forming in her belly. To think that another woman was interested in her fiancé' was almost too much for her to take. "As I have said I am unable to stay." She glanced at Esme and gave her the first genuine smile of the evening. "What your son said was quite accurate-I have to get back home."
Anthony's eyes narrowed. "Now that I think about it," he said softly, "I think mother's right."
Bella stared at him. "You do?"
He gave her that slow sexy smile that set her heart racing the first time they'd met.
"Absolutely, we wouldn't want anything getting in the way of us spending quality time with each other now would we." He said to her but was glaring at his grandfather.
"Oh, but I wouldn't want to put your family in a position to change their plans-'
He leaned towards her and put his hand over hers where it lay on the table.
"And I'll drive you to Forks first thing in the morning. How's that sound?"
"It sounds-it sounds…'
She wanted to tell him it sounded impossible, because she was letting her jealousy win over her heart. But he was looking at her so strangely, as if daring her to defy him and think the worse of him, as if…
A flush of heat rose with in her. The wine, she thought, as the room tilted, I've had too much wine.
Esme pushed her chair back from the table. "Good," she said briskly, "That's settled, then. I'll tell Jane that we had to cancel dinner tomorrow evening, I'm sure she'll get over not being able to see Anthony whom I'll remind you Alistair is an engaged man." Esme said a hint of warning in her voice.
"Esme," Alistair grumbled, as Esme rose quickly to her feet.
"Do not Esme me, Alistair…after all you were the one to remind us about Jane, and I thank you for I would have been mortified bringing another woman into our home and flaunting her in front of Bella and Anthony especially after finding out they are engaged." She said as she slowly made her way toward the door leading to the kitchen. "Where is Beatrice with the desert?"
Carlisle and Alice stood up as if to follow.
She paused at the door and glanced back, "Anthony why don't you show Bella the garden? I believe she would like it." She commanded before disappearing into the kitchen.
Silence fell across the room, and then Anthony sighed. "I suppose I'd better show it to you," he said with dry irony. "She'll probably be upset if I did not, and I do not want to leave you alone with grandfather."
It was impossible not to smile. "All right," Bella tossed her napkin on her plate and got to her feet. "Actually I could use some fresh air. It's awfully stuffy in here, isn't it?"
A smile twitched at the corners of his mouth. "Yes quite stuffy."
She nodded. "Mmmm… I feel almost light-headed."
"Where do you think you're going," Alistair asked in a disapproving tone.
Anthony took her arm as they stepped out of the French doors into the night ignoring his grandfather.
"Then I better make sure you don't trip on anything, wouldn't want you to hurt yourself now would we." He teased.
Bella looked up at him quickly, but his face was impossible to see in the darkness of the garden.
"I am sorry for what just happened in there," Anthony tried to apologize.
"I'm fine," she said stiffly. "I just had too much wine."
His hand tightened on her arm, "You're not fine, Bella. Letting my grandfather get to you is very apparent."
"Careful," he said softly. "There's a deep crack in the stone just ahead."
"I assure you I am perfectly able to take care of myself."
"Hmmm…I see so drinking too much wine is your idea of taking care of yourself?" he asked curtly.
"I was just, I-"she trailed of because she did not know how to explain to him that she needed the wine to give her enough courage to be in the same room with Alistair Mason. They walked in silence until they reached an area that opened up to a large fountain in the middle of a circle, and three paths; one leading to a pool, another to a tennis court and the other a gazebo.
"Bella just so you know, I never had any feelings for Jane, I just cannot believe the lengths my grandfather will go, to get his way." Anthony said breaking the silence as he led her down the path toward the gazebo.
Bella pulled free of his hand and spun around to face him. "I know what he thinks of me, and I want to know if you think of me that way to." She demanded, not able to hold back from her negative thoughts from earlier. Even though she had told herself it did not matter, and not let his grandfather affect her.
The moon caught in the low branches of a plum tree, painted his face with pale shadow.
"What I think," he said coldly, "Is that you have no faith in me, in us to let him affect you like that. Bella I am in love with you what is it going to take to get you to understand that…to believe me."
She felt a swift rise of heat spread in her cheeks. "I-I don't really know how to explain it."
Anthony puffed out his breath, "Don't you?"
"No. No matter what you think-"
"What I think is that we're both adults." He drew to a halt and clasped her shoulders, turning her to him. "And we don't need anyone telling us whom to love," he said passionately.
She fell silent. What could she say to him? She looked up, trying to read his face in the pale moonlight. May be what he'd just said was the truth, maybe she was just scared because of what happened in her past relationship the abandon she'd felt with Jacob was nothing to what she would feel if he ever hurt her; Or for him to think of her as unworthy to love and be loved. "You don't understand," she murmured.
His hands threaded into her hair. "Well?" he asked softly. "What is it I don't understand?"
"I just do not want to be unworthy, of not being enough for you and that feeling terrifies me," she said meeting his gaze.
He looked at her for a long moment, and then he smiled. "You'll never be unworthy to me," he said his voice soft as he lowered his head toward her. "What is happening between us is unmistakable," he smiled again this time so intimately that Bella's pulse quickened. "Finding you was the best thing that ever happened to me, you'll always be the only woman for me. Never doubt that."
"Anthony," Bella whispered.
"Bella you deserve better than me," His mouth brushed lightly over hers. "But I can't seem to help myself where you are concerned."
"Anthony," she whispered as her head dropped back. A tremor raced through her, as his mouth pressed against the curving juncture of neck and shoulder.
The silk fabric of her gown rubbed against her skin as Anthony's lips nuzzled it off her shoulder. His teeth closed lightly in the bared flesh, and Bella moaned softly. Her hands came up between them and lay lightly against him.
Anthony lifted his head and looked at her, "I love you, and I will prove it to you every day if I have to."
"Anthony, Bella, it's time for the fireworks," his mother's voice floating to them from the patio.
The realization that they were not alone brought her back to reality and she pushed her hands against his chest.
"Stop," she said softly. She drew in a deep breath to regain control of her racing emotions. "I think we better go back in before your mother catches us making out in her garden."
There was a silence. She felt the surge of Anthony's heart beneath her fingertips, then the whisper of his touch along her cheek, the heat of his palm against her throat, the brush of fingers on the soft swell of her breasts as they rose above her gown.
For a moment, the world stood still. Then, without warning, his hands fell away.
"Yes," he said his voice shaky, "You're right we wouldn't want that."
Anthony took her hand, tucked it into his arm, and together walked back to the safety of the mansion.
As they walked back to the mansion Edward could barely mask his emotions from Bella. The evening had gone horribly wrong, and if Bella found out about the conversation between the men in his family earlier in the evening there would be no convincing her to stay with him. He was not a fool and did not take his grandfather's threats lightly. He knew the old bastard would stop at nothing to rid him of Bella. That is why he snatched her wineglass earlier and tasted the wine. He would not put it past Alistair to have poisoned it. Though Bella was confused by his actions he would not stand by and watch that happen.
She had sensed something was wrong immediately when he had met her at her door to escort her to dinner. And her suspicions of his mood had been correct, it was almost impossible to mask his anger from her, but somehow managed to keep a tight leash on his temper, and emotions. Though the hostile looks he threw at his grandfather during dinner did not help his cause.
He had no intension of ending their engagement and intended to marry Bella in February as planned. There was no other woman he wanted, Bella was it for him and he would not let his grandfather or father dictate whom to marry. It did not work with Tanya, and sure as hell was not going to work now. He was happy his mother and sister approved that's all that really mattered, and he knew if his grandmother were alive she would approve of Bella as well.
The only problem was he would have to eventually come clean, and tell Bella the truth. There was no way he could keep it from her after they got married. By then it would be too late for once you marry into the mob it was almost impossible to get out. He knew from experience of witnessing his mother and grandmother struggles of being a mob boss's wife were hard. Bella's life would be in constant danger, especially if he did not take on a mistress to divert his enemy into thinking he cared for the mistress and not the wife. But how to do that without causing Bella pain was beyond him, because no matter how he approached it someone was going to be hurt.
The thought of hurting her made his gut burn with disgust…he could bare anything but that. To see her pain filled eyes as she accused him of betraying her would be his undoing and he did not know how he would be able to handle it. He had until the Gangster's ball to figure it out, because after that all bets were off. People knew the Swans for their service in the police force, and the good they did for their community. There would be talk, he would not be able to stop it all, and when word got out that the police chief's daughter was engaged to one of the most powerful feared mob bosses in the country he would not only have his grandfather to contend with but also Bella's father for both men had made it clear they did not approve of their engagement. That is if she was still in his life after the truth was out, and he would do everything in his power to make sure that happened. He just had to make sure she married him first.
But how to get away from telling her the truth at the gangster's ball was a complete mystery to him…unless he sent word out that everyone invited was to keep what kind of ball it was under wraps for he had suspicion that there would be feds there. It would be classified as a business ball in honor of E&C Company. Yes that is the only way it would work. No one even his grandfather would utter a word of it with a room filled with the most feared and notorious criminals in the world, knowing that feds could be there. Bella would be none the wiser and he could prolong the evitable for a little longer.
It was the only option he had left.
"Ah there you two are," Esme said as she joined them on the patio snapping Edward out of his thoughts.
"We were getting ready to have our gardener set off the fireworks." Esme said cheerfully.
Edward smiled and took his mother's arm his other around Bella, "Well then don't let us delay him any longer." He said as he moved them in the direction of the rest of his family members gathered to the left of the patio.
"Did you enjoy the garden Bella?" Esme asked.
"It was beautiful." She said
"Mio figlio(My son) is very good at showing it off to our guests."
"Indeed," Bella said with a blush staining her cheeks.
Edward could not help the satisfied smirk that crossed his face knowing what caused her to blush. The ringing of his cell phone caused his smirk to leave and a frown to form. He let his mother go and reached into the pocket of his suit jacket to answer it.
"This better be important," he said in a steely tone, when he recognized the caller as being one of his men. His mother's eyes met his over Bella's head letting him know that she understood who was on the other end of the line.
"Fine I'll be there in twenty minutes," he answered coldly before ending the call. He sighed running his hand through his unruly hair before glancing down at Bella indecision of not wanting to leave her warring inside of him.
His mother gave him an easy way out. "If it's about the business Mio figlio(My son) You must go. Do not worry about your fiancée' I will take care of her."
"Thank you, mamma," he said then leaned down to kiss Bella lightly on the cheek. "I am sorry to have to do this but I must go…something has come up and I need to deal with it." He tried to smile but it came more like a forced grimace.
"It is okay, Anthony I understand." Bella answered her voice sounded sad.
"I'll see that she gets back home after the fireworks are over," Esme said.
He nodded then kissed Bella one last time before he forced himself to turn and walk away. There were certain times in his life that he hated his job and what he was and in that moment this was one of those times.
In another part of the city
James smirked evilly as he fingered the pendant hanging around his neck, once more appreciating the power he felt with it in his possession. Though it would be useful to him, he still understood it would not provide him complete protection from Cullen if he were to fail in his plan for revenge.
He recently acquired new information that Cullen was engaged to the Swan woman, thanks to his mole. Though at the time he felt jealous and angry, he now had to admit that this vital information would help him, he thought remembering his conversation with his mole.
"You better have the information I asked for," James said as soon as he answered his phone.
"Yeah I do, but it will be awhile before I can give you any more information."
"What do you mean?"
"Cullen suspects there is a rat in the ranks, he went off the deep end three weeks ago after the failed kidnapping of his girl. He pulled rank on Alistair and had everyone interrogated including me."
"WHAT," James bellowed. Anger consuming him if this asshole ratted him out he would kill him.
"I think I convinced them that I am not the rat…but I am not sure."
"You're not sure, how the fucking not sure are you," James demanded.
"I didn't break if that answers your question."
"How bad are you?"
"They roughed me up pretty good along with a lot of others."
"Fucking hell…does he suspect me?"
"I think so, Embry squealed before they killed him."
"Damn it, I knew letting Jacob in charge of kidnapping the Swan woman would be nothing but trouble."
"Yeah, you should have let me take care of it being I am so close to them."
"You think," James, snorted.
"There is something else you need to know that has shocked the mafia world."
"What is it," James snapped.
"Edward has just become engaged to Isabella, and there engagement will be announced at the Mobster's Ball."
"What," James bellowed as his hand fisted around his phone. He was so angry he was shaking. No he fucking did not…she was his.
"Look I got to go someone's coming; I can't guarantee I will be able to contact you anytime soon."
Before James could reply, he ended the call.
Coming out of his thoughts, James shook his head a sadistic laugh echoing through the room. Since the phone call, a white-hot jealous rage consumed him. Cullen did not deserve such a woman as Isabella Swan. She was the picture of innocence and she needed to be with someone that could corrupt her, someone like…him. James was not sure when this new interest in Isabella started but recently he seemed consumed by thoughts of her. He was beginning to see her as already being his woman, and they would rule the Cullen Empire together. To think of the fun he would have to have his way with her, and convince her that he was the only man in her life, and not that fucking stepbrother of his.
It would be fucking hilarious to watch the most feared mob boss lose his shit knowing his woman was now his enemies. Edward would stop at nothing to end him to get his woman back, and knew their dear father would not come to his rescue, for he had made it clear to him from a young age that he meant little to him.Knowing that Edward would be out for blood was not going to stop him until he got what he wanted, and now that was not only the Cullen Empire but Isabella Swan.
Having the Stanley woman brought here today in hopes to see his scheme through would be worth it. If the information his mole Volturi shared with him was indeed correct, and the Stanley woman's feelings for Cullen were strong as he said; then a little persuasion on his part was all he needed to have her right where he wanted her. The dumb bitch would have no clue as to what she was actually getting herself into, and as soon as she served her purpose, he would get rid of her.
"You're a fucking genius," he said aloud, to the empty room a smug smile playing about his handsome face, realizing just how devious of a plan he had thought up, to bring his dear half-brother down.
By Midnight dragged forcefully into his office protesting the whole way was Jessica Stanley.
"Let me go," Jessica's panicked voice echoed in the room. She was not sure what was going on and hoped that Edward had not decided to make his threats come true, though she had tried to do what he had asked by staying away from him after her last attempt seducing him failed.
Her captor had a tight grip on her upper arm, and pulled her along, not a care in the world that he was hurting her. Moreover, that was one thing that she was getting tired of, men treating her badly.
"I said let me go," she cried out angrily again trying to fight this brute of a man by pulling her arm free.
"Keep moving, bitch," he said his grip tightened, becoming painful.
In seconds she felt the weight of the man's hands on her shoulders forcing her to sit down on a chair facing a huge wooden desk. She had been so agitated that she had not noticed the man whom sat behind it until he had turned to stare upon her with cold, calculating blue eyes.
"I see that you were able to find her, wasn't too much trouble was she?" The man asked in a dark, steely voice.
Jessica met the hard, ice, blue eyes of the man and gasped, at the evil way he was leering at her, fear went through her at the evilness that seemed to be rolling off him in waves. She could not help think that he reminded her of someone though she could not place where she had seen him before.
"Who-who are you," she stuttered out frightened.
"I'll be your worst nightmare if you choose not to cooperate with me," he said darkly. "So your Cullen's whore?"
Her eyes widened, and she wondered how he knew that information.
"Answer him bitch the boss doesn't like to be kept waiting." Her captor growled from behind her.
"Yes-yes," she stuttered.
The man behind the desk nodded his head, "Good…" was the only word he uttered as he sat there glaring at her with those cold steely eyes.
"Why-why am I here?" she asked.
Before she could blink, he was out of his chair around his desk and leaning over her in a threatening manner. "You're here because I want you here. I would advise you to shut the fuck up, and listen to what I am about to tell you."
"But I don't understand-"
Her abductor reached out and grabbed her throat cutting her words off in mid-sentence, Jessica's eyes widened in horror that he was going to kill her.
"What did I just say?" he snarled. "I have been keeping my eyes on you for a while now, Jessica. I know that you and Cullen have had a sexual relationship for a long time…that is until recently."
He chuckled when Jessica's eyes widened in shock.
"You see Jessica, I know about how he treated you the last time you were in his presence, how he dismissed you from his life as if you meant nothing to him." He said as he removed his hand from her throat and took a few steps away from her.
He watched her eyes moisten with unshed tears, and anger cross her face from the reminder of Edward's last rejection.
"I can see that you are not happy with that outcome," James drawled.
Jessica looked away from him not happy to be reminded of Edward's rejection.
"What-what does that have anything to do with me being brought here?" she asked bitterness sounding in her voice.
James laughed darkly, before letting go of her neck and took a step back, "You are going to help me bring Edward Cullen down."
Jessica's heart jumped in her chest at the implications of his words.
Had she just heard him correctly? Did he say he wanted to bring Edward down? Why would she want to do that when she was still in love with him? Yes, she hated him in that moment for his rejection of her, but to help bring the man she loved down…no she could not do it, no matter how deplorable Edward had treated her.
"No…I will not hurt him." Jessica cried.
"Then you're a fool," James laughed mockingly at her. He turned and walked back to his desk and sat down. "Are you aware that he is now engaged?"
Jessica's head snapped up her face showing shock and disbelief, "Engaged?"
"Yes, and he is going to announce it at the Mobster's Ball in October."
Jessica shook her head in denial, "No I do not believe you."
"Oh but it's true."
Edward was engaged…her Edward was engaged to a woman that was not her, no it was not true…he was hers as she was his. It was supposed to be she that was to marry him. There was no way that this jerk was telling her the truth.
"I can see that you do not believe me," James said leaning forward and opening a drawer on his desk retrieving an envelope. He opened it pulling out a few papers then held up what looked like a picture staring hard at it for a moment, before his eyes connected with hers.
"Is this enough proof," he said turning the picture around so she could look upon it, and what she saw made her gasp in shock and anger. There pictured was Edward and a plain looking woman her ring finger blatantly flashing a diamond ring toward the camera while they both gazed lovingly into each other's eyes.
No, no, no, it could not be true, he was hers, Jessica thought vehemently, as she continued to stare at the picture a jealous rage building inside of her; though deep down she knew it to be real because Edward would never willingly have a picture taken of him unless it was for personal satisfaction.
"What do you want from me?" she spat angrily.
He made a sound, shaking his head at her in mock sympathy. "You are going to help me get what I want, and by doing so you will get what you desire most."
Jessica just stared at him trying to figure out what his angle was.
"I want my revenge against Cullen, and I also want his woman. You will help me with this."
What was it about this woman that had two very bad men panting after her, she thought.
"And if I don't," she asked wondering where she got the nerve to push her luck.
"Then I will kill you, and no one would be the wiser," he snarled.
A chill ran down Jessica's spine as she took this man for his word, he struck her as the type of man to do just that. Then her eyes fell upon the picture again; fear instantly replaced with bitter, jealous, rage, and in that moment she made her choice.
"What do you want me to do?"
"You will seduce Cullen, and once Miss Swan gets word of it, it will end their engagement.
"Seduce him, are you crazy he wants nothing to do with me," Jessica cried.
"Oh but you see Jessica, what I have in mind will have him very willing to be with you. You will just have to play you're part well for it to work…and believe me it will."
"And how's that?" she asked.
"You are going to sleep with him, which in turn will cause Miss Swan to become heartbroken, soon ending the engagement. Edward will try to win her back but you will blackmail him by holding what transpires between the two of you over his head. I will be there for Bella when she falls, and when he loses everything he held dear to him including Bella."
"I still do not see where that is going to make a difference in breaking them up. It will be my word against his."
"Oh it will if should say something occur from your night together." He said.
Jessica gasped as dawning struck, "You don't mean?"
His harsh evil laughter was her answer, and Jessica shook her head desperately trying to find a way to back out of this.
"Why can't you get someone else to help you?" Jessica asked uncertainly.
He glared at her his cold blue eyes boring into her own a predatory smile formed across his handsome face, "Because you know him better than most, and are perfect for the job."
"And when exactly am I supposed to do this," she cried.
"At the Mobster's Ball of course," he laughed at the look upon her face, "Do not worry your pretty little head. Everything will work to our advantage."
"How am I even going to get into the ball, Edward has made it clear I am not a part of his world any longer?"
"You'll go with someone he trusts."
Jessica raised an eyebrow, "And who would that be?"
"Marcus," she cried aghast. Edward's cousin…no he was known for treating women badly, and besides why would he pick Marcus of all people.
"Yes." he answered.
"No the way he treats women is terrible. Why does it have to be Marcus?"
"Edward will not question you being with his cousin…giving your preference's for liking it rough in the bedroom."
"But I do not understand…why-."
"Enough questions, why does not concern you; do as I say or pay the consequences. It is that simple." he snarled in anger.
Jessica just stared at him and wondered how in the world he thought they would be able to pull off anything at the Ball with hundreds of people and mobsters around was just crazy. Edward was a very smart ruthless man…if she was found out, caught there would be no turning back. Though sitting here at the mercy of this man she knew she had no choice but to do what he asked even if the consequences would be horrible. But in the end if it worked, she would have her Edward back and to her that's all that mattered.
"It's settled then you will have the next three months to prepare, I suggest you be ready. I will expect you to check in with me up until the night of the ball. If you cooperate and do what I say everything will go well for you…but if you defy me," he paused letting his words sink in, "Edward will be the least of your concerns." James nodded to the man standing behind her; he moved forward and took hold of her arm roughly pulling her up to stand. "My man will escort you back to your home."
"You never told me who you are."
As the man pulled her toward the door, his voice called to her, "Do not run Jessica, because I will hunt you down and kill you if you try to get out of this."
Jessica swallowed fear running through her body at the implication of his words, but at the same time she was smiling on the inside because this was her last chance to get the man that she loved, and when a woman was desperate she would do just about anything to get what she wanted…even if it was twisted.
"The names James Lucas," James said right before she was pulled through the doorway.
Her face paled as the dawning of just who this man was registered.