Warning: Note, final scene has a glimpse into sex trade practices. We will NEVER describe the abuse directly. We only hope to shed light on the abuse and its victims.
This week's drink special!
1 part Absolut Ruby Red vodka
2 parts freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, slightly sweetened
1 part POM juice
Pour over ice, shake, pour into chilled martini glass.
Leaving on a Jet Plane
When Edward awoke the next morning, he had a strange smile on his face. His last memory from the night before was of Bella and his first one at six a.m. was also of her. Heading into the shower, he knew what he had to do. He needed to clear his desire for her from his mind and body. He only hoped that he would be successful for at least a few hours.
It had been several days since he had been with someone. His last encounter was with Victoria the night before he saw Bella in the Farm's cafeteria.
He tried to remember back to when he had gone "without" for so many days and he could only recall the times he visited family back in Chicago. His mother made sure that his family visits were slut free after an unfortunate incident 4 years ago.
When he was home for Christmas in 2005, a hot and handsy blonde drove him home from a bar. She insisted on walking him up to the door. But when he opened it, she quickly slipped inside the house and his pants. The rest of the story is a legend in the Cullen home.
It was a night Edward would never forget. He remembered the pain he saw in his mother's eyes and the disappointment he picked up in her thoughts as she witnessed him fucking the unknown blonde. Edward hadn't heard her come down the stairs until he her scream registered in his ears.
After he dismounted the blonde vixen, pulled up his trousers and moved away from the heirloom dining room table, he rushed after his mother.
Edward found her in the kitchen crying softly, and he promised to tame his wild ways. But even as he made his oath to Esme, he knew that he wouldn't be able to break his wanton habits. He never had to search for his pleasures. His needs were met by eager and capable women and he just couldn't turn down a willing hook-up.
Edward turned off the shower and slid his body against the cool tile wall. He closed his eyes to catch his breath as his arousal faded. He had hoped a release would ease his tension, but it was still there, lurking and resting heavily on his shoulders.
He quickly dressed for the day and moved to the kitchen for more coffee, needing to work a few hours before departing for the airport.
Edward turned on his computer to quickly check for any emails from TAT, hoping she would have more details about the Volturi's operations before he left. After opening his secured site, he logged on and saw TAT's email from late last night.
From: Tanya Denali
To: Edward Cullen
Sent: Thurs, March 19, 2010 11:30 pm
Subject: The V Assignment
Cullen, we intercepted some intelligence that confirms the depth of the Volturi's dealings.
They are definitely engaging in sex and slave trafficking. We believe their source comes from Bangkok.
Please inform Ms. Swan about this situation before you board the plane to Seattle.
You will need to infiltrate their circle slowly to avoid suspicion, but we do need to get to the heart of their organization as quickly as possible. It appears that they're increasing their smuggling quotas.
I would like to have a conference call with you and Ms. Swan at 8 am PST on Saturday.
After the call you can leave Seattle and proceed to Forks. I don't need to remind you that peoples' lives are resting on the success of this mission. So please keep your head in the game, and your hands off Ms. Swan.
Edward frowned as he read the email and realized the seriousness of their undertakings. He knew that Bella had worked closely with young women in Bangkok who were forced into sex slavery, but somehow escaped their shackles. He just hoped that she had the stomach and wits to keep their disguise up and her emotions in check.
One slip up could expose them as undercover agents, and then they would most likely be eliminated. Edward felt a surge of adrenaline when he thought about the potential danger they would be exposed to. Surprisingly, his thoughts were not centered on his own hide but focused on keeping Bella from harm.
Hastily Edward fired off a text to Bella, needing to reach her quickly.
From: Edward Cullen
Ms. Denali wants me to debrief you on new developments in our assignment.
Pick you up at 10 am sharp.
The phone chirped to signal an incoming text before he could even place it on his desk. He grinned as he read Bella's quick and short response.
From: Bella Swan
Will be ready at 10, sir.
Sir. She hasn't called me that yet. Maybe she's trying to get into character or be more formal. Either way, I like it – a lot!
Edward's phone rang and startled him from his thoughts. His caller ID showed Jasper's name and number.
Wonder what he wants this early in the morning?
"What the hell are you doing calling at this hour? I know what you think about mornings."
"Just wondering how you are. You worried me last night. Did you go straight home? Or did you try to blow off some steam?"
"Well, I ended up talking to Bella last night. Actually, I saw her."
"What? You went to her house? Awfully late to be making an unannounced house call."
Edward hesitated at this point in the conversation. He didn't want to lie to Jasper, the one person that he was always truthful with. But he was sure that Jasper would be pissed if he knew the truth about using Bella's earrings to find her. For some reason, probably knowing that he was wrong, Edward decided to confess and spill his secret to Jasper.
"Actually, I drove her home from a bar in Alexandria." Edward braced himself, and continued. "You're going to kill me, but I can trace her whereabouts using GPS. And fuck Jazz, I just couldn't stop myself."
"Bullshit, Cullen. Didn't you listen to anything I said? So how did you explain your miraculous appearance?"
"I lied." Edward paused. "She was standing outside the bar. When I pulled up to her, I told her that I'd just dropped off a friend nearby."
"Tell me she turned and walked away."
"Not exactly. I ended up driving her home." Edward finished the sentence in almost a whisper.
"Dammit, Edward. I'm almost afraid to ask, but what happened in the car?"
"This is the only thing you'll like. Nothing. Absolutely. Fucking. Nothing."
"Really, not even one little slip of your hand or twirl of her hair?"
"Thatta boy, Edward. I'm stunned, but proud of you."
Jasper's remark, couched in his Texas accent, made Edward's mouth split into a grin.
"Well, at least one of us is happy. I'm as frustrated and tense as hell."
"I bet you are man. Abstinence and Edward Cullen have nothing in common."
"Another thing making me tense is our assignment out in Washington. Things out there could get really dangerous and I need my game face on."
"Dangerous in Washington? What's up? Remember I have the same security clearance, so nothing's confidential."
"There's a family smuggling in workers for domestic and commercial help. And TAT informed me that their trafficking includes sex and slave labor, too."
"No kidding. In a little town outside of Seattle, all that shit's going on?"
"It's hard to imagine, but TAT's informants are usually spot on."
"Listen, I have to offer my services. I'm calling TAT today. You're going to need someone to help profile these people. You're dealing with some deeply disturbed fuckers."
Edward felt a sense of relief when he thought about Jasper joining him out in Washington. Since they would be investigating dealings in Bangkok, TAT could include someone from the CIA. He needed his professional help to understand the sick minds of his suspects. He also needed his friend's advice, if he was going to work with Bella on a daily basis and try to remain a gentleman.
"Jazz, I have a feeling that I am going to need you in more ways than one."
"Consider it done, buddy."
"Hey, I need to run and get ready for the flight. Let me know what TAT says."
"Will do. Have a safe flight and keep your hands to yourself, got it?"
"Sure Jazz. Later." Edward laughed as he hung up.
Damn, I am feeling better.
At 6:30 a.m., Bella hit the alarm's snooze as it rang out, thumping it three times before dragging herself out of bed. She had stayed up late the night before packing and sorting through her possessions. She didn't have much here at Rosalie's but there was always room for weeding out unnecessary clutter.
Her mother had been the worst pat rack. After Renee's death, it had taken Bella almost two solid weeks to sort through all of her mother's junk. Since that experience, Bella swore that she would keep her belongs free of useless items.
It was an exhausting process trying to decide what to keep, pack, or throw out. Completely spent Bella finally collapsed into bed around 2:00 a.m.
As she was pouring her first cup of coffee, she heard her phone signal an incoming text. Great, it's from Edward.
After reading his text, she wondered what he needed to tell her about the assignment. She had a gut feeling that it was important, so she agreed to have him pick her up at 10:00 a.m.
It will save me the expense of the airport shuttle.
After finishing her coffee, she decided to take in a short run. The air outside was brisk and the sun was shining. It was going to be a beautiful spring day in Washington, DC.
Running relaxed Bella, and after getting her rhythm down she thought about her new partner, reflecting on his improved behavior last night when they were in his car. His sudden politeness caught her off guard.
He actually kept his hands and lips to himself, she thought. Maybe we can keep things professional on this assignment after all.
Bella was determined to show Edward, and the bureau, that she was up to the challenge waiting for them in Washington.
After returning from her run, she showered quickly and placed her suitcases near the door. She didn't have much time to meet Jacob and then return back before Edward arrived. But she had to see Jacob before she left.
Jacob was waiting outside the Bittersweet café when Bella arrived, leaning against the brick storefront while reading his paper. He looked so relaxed and at ease, and now resembled the person she had dated for several months, and not the hot head who tried to punch Edward the previous day.
Bella felt a rush of affection for him as he looked up and their eyes meet. She couldn't help the smile that formed on her lips. His face quickly reflected her smile, and to Bella's surprise, Jacob gave her an abrupt hug. Feeling awkward in his embrace, Bella immediately pulled away.
"Jacob…" she started.
He interrupted her, "Bells, I know we to need talk, but can we go inside and sit down first?"
After breakfast and coffee had been ordered, Bella started to explain.
"Jacob these last few days have been crazy for me, for both of us. I'm sorry for Mr. Cullen's behavior yesterday and for my own, too." Bella watched Jacob as she spoke. His eyes showed the hurt that had been building up since graduation day.
"I never intended to hurt you, Jake. It's that last thing I want to do. I can't even imagine my time here in D.C. without you. You have been such a great friend to me…and that's what I want…I want our friendship. With all the changes in my life right now, I just can't offer you much more. I think you want more, but…." Bella was unable to finish.
Reaching into the pocket of her black hoodie, Bella took out a box and placed it on the table. She glanced up at Jacob and saw the hurt and pain in his eyes. It almost dissolved her resolve to break things off – almost. She steeled herself for the pain she knew her next few words would bring.
"Jake, these earrings you gave me…I can't keep them. It just doesn't feel right."
Jacob squeezed his eyes shut and sadly shook his head. Just as he opened his mouth to respond, the waitress came back with their order stacked on her tray.
"Blueberry pancakes, bacon, and two eggs sunny side up," she said as she placed the plate in front of Jacob.
"Poached egg with lemon-dill hollandaise sauce and whole grain toast and grapefruit juice for you," she said placing it in front of Bella. "I'll be right back to top off your coffee. Can I get you anything else?" They both shook their heads no.
Bella leaned over to say a quick prayer of thanks for her food and for a safe trip on the plane. She was dreading the flight.
When she raised her head, Jacob was looking at her and she realized that the earrings were still sitting on the table. She tried to hand them over to Jacob, but he gently pushed her hand away.
"No Bella. Keep them. Please. I bought them for you and no one else. The last few days have been hard for me, and like it or not, I've been forced to do a lot of thinking – about us. You're special to me. It's been that way since we met." Jacob stopped and sipped his coffee, silently gathering his thoughts.
"But I have to face reality. I don't think you feel the same about me. It's a hard thing to admit, but I want more from you. More than you can give. I just need to be man enough to realize that our feelings are not the same. At least not now.
"I've seen the way you look and respond to your new partner. And it's hard as fucking hell to admit, but you've never looked at me that way."
He held up his hand as Bella started to protest. "Bella, I don't think he's good enough for you. He's such an arrogant son of a bitch, but he wants you – badly. I can see it in his eyes and the way he looks and moves around you."
Jake saw Bella's surprised expression and recognized the disbelief on her face.
"Jake, you're right about one thing, Edward Cullen is an SOB."
"Bella, promise me you'll be careful around him. Everything about your new partner screams player."
"Jake, listen, I have no romantic feelings towards Edward." But even as she spoke these words, she knew that they were a lie. Especially after she realized that she called him Edward for the first time.
"Okay, Bells, all I am saying is be careful and know that I am a plane flight away." He grinned and Bella thought this is how it should be with Jacob – an easy friendship.
"Now can we please talk about other stuff?" He gave her another quick grin before he scooped a bite of pancakes in his mouth.
Bella grinned back. "Abso-fucking-lutely"
She laughed at the surprised expression on his face, and breathed a sigh of relief. The discussion with Jake had gone better than she had imagined, especially after his actions yesterday.
Realizing that Edward would be picking her up in twenty minutes, she told Jacob that she needed to return home.
"I have someone coming by the condo in a few minutes. They're taking me to the airport and I can't be late."
"I have my car, Bells. Finish your breakfast and I'll drive you back."
Jacob quickly finished his breakfast and paid for their meal, ignoring Bella's protest to pay for her food.
They walked together to his truck and Jacob opened her door. "You've always been a gentleman, Jacob."
"Bella, that's exactly what a woman like you deserves."
Blushing as she climbed into the truck, Bella knew that Jacob was right. Then why am I attracted to such a bad boy? It's his looks – he's so damn hot. That's all.
As they pulled up to the condo, Jacob once again opened Bella's door. He stopped her as she started to move towards the walkway, pulling her into another hug.
"Please stay in touch," he whispered in her ear.
Bella held him a little longer. Saying good-bye to Jacob was tough. He had helped her so much over the last several months. Bella wasn't sure if she would have made it through recruitment training without his support.
"I will, Jacob. I'll stay in touch. Take care of yourself and watch out for Rosalie." She pulled back and grinned at him and turned as she heard a car pull up by them.
Damn, he's early. And he's in a limo.
Bella and Jacob stared at the vehicle and watched Edward step out of from the back passenger door.
"I see who it is, Bella. Don't worry, I'm leaving."
Jacob scrambled back into the driver's seat. Bella waved good bye to him and slowly turned to meet the piercing green eyes of Edward Cullen as he leaned against the limo's door. She gasped as a now familiar feeling crept through her innermost parts causing her limbs to weaken.
As she approached him, Edward placed his hands in his pockets. She could almost feel the tension radiating from him.
"Hello, Mr. Cullen. You're early."
"You mean, I was early. It's now 10:00 a.m., Ms. Swan."
Bella blushed at his reprimand. Damn him. I had such high hopes after last night.
"Wait here. I'll be right back with my luggage. Just need to say goodbye to Rose."
Walking up the path to the condo's door, Bella silently wished that Edward hadn't seen her with Jacob. She didn't owe Edward an explanation, but judging by his gaze, he was searching for an answer.
She opened the front door and walked inside. Rosalie was standing in the kitchen by the coffee maker.
"Hey gorgeous. How ya feeling?" Bella asked.
"In desperate need of some caffeine." Rosalie turned and filled her cup with the steaming liquid.
"So how did it go with Jacob today? Does he still need a good ass kicking?"
"Hey, be gentle with him. He's a decent guy. Who wouldn't go all apeshit with Edward provoking him?"
"So you and Jake are officially over?"
"Yes, we're over."
"So how did he take it?"
"Surprisingly well. We really had a good conversation."
Rosalie looked at Bella with an eyebrow raised and an unasked question on her lips.
"Yeah, I'm as surprised as you. I thought it'd really be difficult. I prepared for a long argument, but after we hashed out our feelings, we both agreed that what we have between us is a friendship, nothing more. He'll always be my friend – as I'll always be his. So Rose, no ass-kicking. Alright?"
"Sure girl… but you know, all you have to do is ask – I'll be ready.
So what time is the shuttle picking you up?"
"Oh no shuttle. Mr. Cullen is outside waiting for me right now. We have to go over a few things before the flight, so he's picking me up."
"Shit, he's outside?" Rosalie moved over to the window and parted the blinds. She saw an impatient Edward pacing the length of the car.
"Damn, he's taking you to the airport in a fucking limo. Where does he get the money? Surely, he can't afford all this on an FBI salary."
"Who knows? Could be family money. He seems to have that polished private school thing, don't you think?"
"Polished, my ass. Let me walk you out. These your bags by the door?"
"Yes. Thanks Rose."
Each of them took a suitcase and walked out to the meet Edward.
"Listen, Bella," Rosalie spoke to Bella as the carried the luggage to the car. "I'm going to miss you – I'm a selfish bitch and hate to see you leave. But, I know that this is what you want – need – to do. So please be careful – with the assignment and with the shithead looking at you right now."
Bella turned towards Rose as they lugged her bags. "I'm going to miss you, Rose. And don't worry about Mr. Cullen., I think I can handle him. Remember, my secret weapon. 'Knee say hello to groin.'"
They were giggling as they approached Edward.
"Good morning Rosalie. Bella is this everything?"
"Yes. Just these two suitcases."
The chauffeur moved to load the luggage into the trunk. Edward turned toward the door.
"I'll let you two say your goodbyes." Edward backed away from the girls to give them a private moment.
"Bella – I'm so going to miss you. Promise me you'll be safe – and you'll keep in touch – weekly if not daily. I'll be worried if I don't hear from you."
"Ok. And you …" as she whipped around to face Edward, "you better keep her safe. She's like a sister to me – heck, she IS my sister – and if anything, anything at all happens to her, I will come to Washington and have you cursing the day you were born."
Edward took in the scene before him and was smart enough to know that to make light with Rosalie's feelings at this particular moment would be bad for his health – very bad – hospital level bad. He knew. He read her mind.
"I promise, Rosalie. I'll watch her back." And other body part that she'll let me see, he thought as he inwardly smirked.
Bella and Edward climbed into the back seat, sitting on opposite sides of the car. Edward placed some papers between. He turned his head and quietly spoke her name
Her eyes sought his and she waited for him to continue. But Edward was briefly lost as he gazed at her.
Damn, she's so fucking beautiful. And I'm feeling that pull again. Shit. Edward moved his eyes down to the papers, hoping to break the magnetic draw he felt towards her.
"We need go over some new developments on our assignment. All the players remain the same, but they're delving in areas that are rather dark." He finally regained eye contact with her and held his breath.
"Dark? What do you mean?"
"We've confirmed that the Volturi organization is involved in sex and slave trafficking. Direct from Bangkok. It's going to get sticky and we need to put on a tight front."
Bella blushed after his last sentence, but realized that they were facing a dangerous foe. The serious tone in Edward's voice was palatable.
"We're going to spend the weekend preparing for our first meeting with Aro Volturi. Tanya has scheduled a conference call for tomorrow morning, too."
"Okay. It sounds like I have some catching up to do."
"I know that you worked in Bangkok, so you probably have a good idea what we're up against. But I have some articles for you to read over. It explains how the sick bastards smuggle these women out of Thailand."
Edward handed her the papers he had placed in the seat between them. Bella took them and he noticed the tremor in her hand.
Fuck, she's scared.
Bella sat in silence as she processed the words that Edward spoke to her. She felt a nauseous wave hit her, and she closed her eyes.
Dear God, help me here. I can do this right?
When she opened her eyes, she saw the limo pulling up the terminal's curb. She realized that there was no turning back once she got on that plane.
They checked in at a special booth after walking through an unmarked door. Edward pulled out some official looking documents and they were ushered through a dimly lit tunnel bypassing the usual security lines. She had to admit that being an FBI agent did come with some privileges.
"We get to bypass all the usual security?" she asked Edward, trying to keep pace with him.
"Yes, stick with me kid." He said winking at her.
Bella couldn't help the smile that spread across her lips. And when she noticed Edward's grin, she started to laugh.
"I needed that Mr. Cullen. This morning has been a little heavy."
"I know. Don't worry Ms. Swan." Edward gently rubbed her shoulder and quickly pushed his hand back into his pant's pocket.
No touching. He thought.
The hall they were walking down led them to a guarded door. Edward showed their credentials again. Then he opened the door and they walked into the terminal.
"Our luggage? How does it get on the right plane?" Bella realized that they didn't carry their bags in with them.
"No worries. I gave our driver special security tags. He just had to drop them off at the Skycap. And believe me they won't get lost."
Their gate was ahead a few feet and Edward signaled for Bella to follow him through a door close to the gate's entrance.
Another secret door, Bella thought as she smiled at Edward.
Edward returned the smile and ushered her onto the walkway towards the plane's passenger door.
"We get to board first, Ms. Swan. Our seats are 4 A and B. After you."
The flight attendant greeted Bella, but quickly lost interest as she saw Edward.
Oh, he has the same effect on me, lady. Bella rolled her eyes and walked to her seat.
Settling herself into her first-class seat, she prepared herself for the long five-hour flight to Seattle.
Edward sank in next to her and ordered a scotch with water.
"Ms. Swan, would you care for something?"
"A glass of red wine would be nice. Thanks."
This flight was Bella's first experience in first class. She loved the extra seat and leg room and she relaxed back into the seat.
"Comfortable wouldn't you agree, Ms. Swan?"
"Very, Mr. Cullen."
A tired feeling came over her as she finished her wine. She thought about taking a quick nap, since she had so little sleep the night before.
"Do you think they might have a spare blanket? I could use a little rest. It's been a busy few days."
Edward motioned to the flight attendant, who quickly made it to his side, smiling seductively at him.
"Can we have a blanket, please?"
"Absolutely, is there anything else you might need, sir?"
"No that's all." Edward avoided eye contact with the attendant, wishing that he could block her thoughts.
Shit, does every flight attendant specialize in mile-high fuckery?
Edward unfolded the blanket and gingerly tucked it around Bella, being careful to avoid too much contact.
No touching. He silently chanted
"Thanks. Please wake me if I start to snore." Bella chuckled as she snuggled into her blanket.
About 15 minutes later, Edward felt something on his shoulder. He raised his eyes from his papers and glanced sideways to find Bella's head gently resting against him.
He observed her tranquil face and smiled, feeling that undeniable attraction stirring deep inside him. Pleased that she was resting peacefully, he watched her chest slowly rise and fall with each breath.
"What I wouldn't give to know what you're thinking?" Edward muttered in a hushed voice, not wanting to wake Bella from her sleep.
Stirring against his shoulder, Bella started to murmur softly. Edward stiffened in his seat hoping that he didn't disturb her. He noticed that her eyes were tightly shut, and relaxed feeling relieved.
Is she talking in her sleep? Edward raised his brow as he contemplated the possibilities.
If I touch her, I might be able read her thoughts.
He remembered Jasper's word from earlier this morning and found them echoing in his head. Keep your hands to yourself.
But has Jazz ever felt like this? Tethered to someone?
Glancing down, Edward saw her hand resting outside of her blanket just inches away from his right hand. Her thoughts were just a touch away. When he heard Bella quietly slur his name, he leaned his head back while closing his eyes.
Fuck. What should I do?
Bangkok: The Wharf
As the trucks rumbled toward the pier, the girl slowly became aware of her surroundings. Twenty young girls were crammed into the now putrid smelling truck. They looked to be about the girl's age, but one seemed significantly younger.
The girl saw the fear on the younger ones' face. The young girl's breathing seemed exaggerated and was going to cause her to pass out. Scooting over to the older girl whispered in her ear in their native language.
"Tell me your name?"
The younger girl looked at her with brown eyes full of fear.
She gently placed a reassuring hand on her arm and the youngster flinched, but didn't move away from her.
"What's your name?" She tried again "My name is Tan. I'm from Klong Teir. My father sold me to become a nanny for some foreigners. I think it'll be alright. We'll get to the America and have a better life. I am sure of it."
Even as she was speaking to the young child, she tried to believe the hope she was breathing into this girl's ear.
The truck came to a sudden halt and they were all thrown back against the side walls.
The doors were unlocked and thrown open, she breathed in deeply the air that was fresher than in the truck. For once the stench of the piers seemed like perfumed air.
"Damn, who was sick in here?" The men spoke Taiwanese. She looked over to the young girl, taking in the younger girl's huge eyes against her ashen face.
"It was me." The older girl tried to look sheepish and guilty.
"You're fucking lucky you've been bought already or I'd beat the shit out of you." He sneered at her.
At that moment an older woman appeared at the back of the truck. Slapping the man away, she spoke softly to the girls.
"You don't have to be afraid. Come on and get off. We have some warm tea and rice."
The girls slowly moved off the truck, shocked at the kind words spoken to them. As they exited the truck, it became apparent who had vomited and peed on themselves.
The older woman pointed to the young girl and before she could scream or yelp she was dragged off by the man who had been screaming at them earlier.
Oh, God where are you now she thought.
She had been given some pamphlets in the slum by a foreigner, and her brother had read them to her. It spoke about God's love for her.
Where was he now? She thought bitterly.
There was a loud, shrill cry and then silence. The girls inched closer together in fear.
"Now don't worry. Come, follow me." The older woman led them to a shack that had holes for windows. Inside candles were lit, and there was a hotplate in the corner.
The elder woman poured out the tea into tiny cups and passed around small bowls filled with rice.
The girl drank the tea and ate the rice with her hands, thankful for the smallest of kindnesses, the only kindness that she had received since being sold by her father. With each sip of tea, however, her mind entered deeper into a fog, her eye-lids dropped further, and she quickly lost consciousness.
I've been drugged. She had no energy left to care or be scared, and strangely thankful for the escape from this hell of a reality she now found herself in.
A/N: We would liked to thank our Special Agents…..Betas Elizabethan and Aquariumjenn