All hail the great Stephenie Meyer . . . I just can't get enought of these wonderful characters.

A/N: This is the final chapter of Love and War. The Epilogue will be next but brief compared to the other chapters. It will just begin to set things up for my next story which is untitled but will continue to bring in the characters you love of Twilight . . . that is right people I am not done yet. Can't tell you when that story will begin to be posted so please add me to your alert list cause I will be having some one shots in the mean time. Thanks to all my fateful readers and reviewers.

Chapter 17

Coming to Grips

My shadow grew to three times it normal size as Bella and Alice flanked my every move.

The family had gathered originally in the living room, dead silent. Everyone's thoughts were on the events that Bella and I relayed about Riley and his gift to mirror other vampire's power. Carlisle was fascinated with the idea, silently wishing that Riley could have been more of an ally than and enemy.

As I listened to the internal musing of my family, I rubbed the shoulder that had only recently been reattached. The venom Carlisle used to reset the limb was burning with no sign of relief ahead. Carlisle assured me I would not suffer for three days as I had with my original transformation but limb reattachment did usually take 24 to 36 hours to completely heal. At least it got me out of the fight with Emmett that he was already planning for Carlisle and Jasper.

Emmett was envious of the fact that Seth and Jacob finished what Riley had started. Emmett was sometimes too much to follow: one moment he was a giant kid running around playing practical jokes, and the next he was a dangerous weapon looking for someone to unload on. The angry thoughts he was mulling over now were funnier than anything else.

Bella pulled me back to attention as she messaged the throbbing pain of my right arm. The cooling touch of her hand was soothing the burn of my arm as her silky voice did for my body on the days of my transformation. When I felt that I couldn't handle the burn anymore she would speak my name, forcing the fire back some. Her touch had the same affect on me even now. Everything about Bella was calming to my body. Her loving eyes calmed the feeling of disappointment in my mind as well. Staring into her orbs as we stayed in constant connection made me forget we were still surrounded by our family, who were spread across the living room still discussing the earlier events. Carlisle brought our "meeting" to order.

"Despite the trying events of the morning," Carlisle glanced at Bella and me still lying in each other's arms, "we need to discuss a lot, starting with what to tell Charlie. Bella, Edward, you two only have about two weeks remaining on your . . . honeymoon." Carlisle rose from his location on the love seat beside Esme and leaned against the arm rest, still holding Esme's hand in his.

As I looked around the room I noticed everyone was in one intimate embrace of one kind or another.

"I'm surprised Charlie hasn't called lately," I began the conversation.

"Oh yeah, that's my doing," Alice chimed in. "I've been sending him post cards from your 'various destinations,'" Alice said raising her eyebrow at the lie. "I figured it couldn't hurt after the hospital ordeal."

"Good ol' Alice; thinking of everything," Bella said poking her pixie sister in her side, sending Alice into giggles.

"That's all great, but what are we going to do now?" Rosalie's thoughts of Charlie's safety convinced me that she didn't mean for the statement to sound as snide as it had. "We hadn't even been here two years. We can't move already."

"Rosalie is right," Esme looked into Carlisle's eyes. The silence, both mentally and physically was loud. I wasn't as skilled as everyone else was at creating elaborate lies but it never occurred to me that they too would be at a lost for words.

"Why don't we just say Bella and Edward got some great information about a house in Alaska and they had to head there sooner than originally planned?" Everyone's attention was on Emmett. "We will have Tanya call Charlie on three-way so that an Alaskan zip code comes over his Caller ID. Edward will explain the whole thing over the phone and promise to keep in touch."

Everyone was mulling over the idea, as well as shocked into hearing the suggestion come from Emmett.

"Charlie is going to want to see me at some point," I interjected.

"Dude you are a newly wed, freshman, college student! Charlie is going to allow for a little space. Plus you said that Charlie has a serious issue with flying. He isn't going to be hoping on some plane unannounced, and trust me no body likes the drive to Alaska. That gives us at least until December to figure the rest out. We'll get you an Alaskan cell phone just for calls to Charlie."

Emmett explained the idea with such an audacity as if it was the simplest thing in the world. Emmett liked to play like he wasn't keeping up but I knew he was on his toes more that he let on.

Emmett's idea was making more and more sense. Everyone's thoughts kept trying to find holes in the story but were coming up blank. As the idea was definitely sinking into my own head, Alice's eyes displayed the usual characteristic of a vision appearing. I watched with her as her eyes glazed over revealing the image in perfect clarity. Charlie was going to believe the ploy and not demand to see me until the week of Christmas.

"It's going to work," Alice and I said together. Everyone looked at us and fell into a fit of laughter at our very sibling like response.

It was settled, we would make the call tomorrow to explain the situation to Charlie. We would also have the Denali coven send an Alaskan cell phone within the week. There was no worry in running into Charlie in town as I was being sequestered to the main house and/or cottage to avoid any blood slips; Bella would be keeping me company. Bella would no doubt keep me happy and busy with her newlywed love but I was also thinking of other hobbies to take on as it had been explained to me that everyone one had something (other than their mates) to help past the time and sleepless nights. I decided to take up my piano playing again. Given my new speed, still expanding mind, and love for all things musical, I figured I could take on some of the more intimidating pieces I seen in my human days. I also decided I would learn a few languages. Maybe I could woo Bella with some French?

With the question of Riley and the mysterious power revealed and the lie perfectly formulated for Charlie, everyone began to drift into their own conversations. I tried to block out the thoughts of my family as much as possible, trying to focus on the lack of thoughts coming from Bella. I longed as usual for the serenity of our cottage but Esme had already made it mentally clear to me that she would not be allowing Bella and I to return to our home for a few days. I smiled at her as that though came through. I was fairly certain all the danger had passed but it was going to make Esme joyful for us to stay. I wasn't going to argue with her happiness. Carlisle's thoughts were for me as well.

"Edward, we still need to address your personal issues. Why don't we retire to my study?"

I gave Carlisle our well rehearsed nod of acceptance of his mental voice. Carlisle quickly kissed Esme on her forehead, and than her hand which laid in his, silently communicating his love for her. Carlisle began to walk towards the stair case at a human pace.

I placed a subtle kiss on Bella's hair, inhaling deeply to carry her scent with me. I moved her legs from my lap as I gave her a reassuring smile and followed Carlisle. I could see through Esme's thoughts that Bella was going to follow but was quickly halted by her mother. Esme stood at Bella's side with her hands gently on Bella's arms as they watched Carlisle and I ascend the stairs. As we reached the top landing, Esme pulled Bella back to the couch, having her take a seat, and moving her hand to Bella's knee. Esme sat smiling lovingly at her first daughter as Bella's eyes remained on the empty stair case.

I wasn't quite sure why Carlisle suggested we talk in his study. We were in a house filled with vampires who could hear us loud and clear for at least a mile. Carlisle entered the office behind me and closed the door; another pointless gesture. Every person in the house could break down the door in a fraction of a second. I attributed Carlisle's behavior to his constant surrounding by unsuspecting humans; such behaviors followed him home.

Carlisle took his seat behind this desk, sitting with is hands clasped on top of the frame. Neither one of us spoke. I really didn't know how to begin such a discussion. How do I explain to a man who was essentially my new father that he made a mistake in changing me, as I was a monster unworthy of his family's love, especially his daughter. I tried to find some hint of were to begin in his thoughts, but he only thought about how proud he was of me. That confused me even more.

"Carlisle, you shouldn't be proud of me. I didn't do anything so worthy of your thoughts," I cast my eyes down at my hands in disgust. They were covered in the death of all the lives I had taken. They were the hands of a monster.

"Edward, why do you question your love for Bella?" Carlisle's question was a little off topic.

I've never questioned rather I loved Bella or not. It was something I knew immediately when I saw her for the first time. Although I had never been in love before, I could feel the change that took place in me that day. My devotion for Bella was the one thing I was certain of. My eyes were closed until the day I met her. When I stood before our family and friends and declared myself hers always I felt complete, whole, in always. I would never question what we had.

"I don't question it, Carlisle. What do you mean?"

"Well, if you loved Bella undoubtedly, you would see all the good you've done for her. I struggled with Bella's change, thinking maybe she was too young. I worried she would never find someone to complete her like the rest of us had. Bella was probably the easiest of them all when she was a newborn but it wasn't her blood lust that worried me. Bella was isolated, lonely, and withdrawn until the day she met you. Instantly I saw a change in her." Carlisle smiled as I saw his thoughts of Bella before and after our union. There was a noticeable difference in the light of her eyes. It made me proud to think I caused her untouchable happiness.

"Edward, you were protecting your family. You did what every good husband would have done." Carlisle stood and walked to the other side of his desk, sitting on the corner end. His humanisms were almost comical.

I went to speak, to protest his kind words as I felt he was only saying them to make me feel better, but Carlisle stopped me before I uttered a single syllable.

"Edward, listen to me. Riley was a threat not only to you and Bella, but to us all. You eliminated that threat by protecting us. You saved Esme, and for that I will be in your debt, as I am sure Emmett and Jasper would say the same for seeing to it that their better half were spared as well. I hate that you had to even experience it. I, too, am against the lost of any life, but this is a part of not only this world, but making hard decisions is a part of being an adult and a husband. We often times have to take care of what no one else can do, unable to do, and unwilling to do."

I contemplated Carlisle's words as he spoke. Taking a life was mentally draining me, but I felt just as much physical anger thinking of Bella in danger. Venom pooled in my mouth just knowing of the danger Bella was in just hours ago. I never wanted to take another life but I would if it meant that Bella would be safe.

"Just don't be too hard on yourself. We live in a world of danger and usually we hide away from it well because of the choice we made to live amongst humans, but it is still there. Embrace all sides of this life, Edward. There is a balance; we all took our time to find it, as you will also."

Carlisle placed his hand on my shoulder as his thoughts continued to show me pictures of how proud he was of me. Carlisle's eyes were physical display of his loving and kind thoughts. For the first time in the last twenty four hours, I was letting my mind relax on the idea. I wasn't completely convinced that the hideous acts were excusable but they no longer felt like a heavy load to bear. I was beginning to reconcile the fact that protecting Bella, my heart, may require a monster every now and then. Until the time would come that it was absolutely needed, I would cage the monster and my issues away.

"Thank you, Carlisle," I said standing to my feet, "for everything."

Carlisle gave his best knowing nod.

"Now, if you would excuse me I am being summoned by an old friend."

"The wolves?" Carlisle assumed.

"Well, sort of. It's Jacob but he is in human form. Alone."

Without saying another word, Carlisle understood that this meeting was not between a vampire and a wolf but between two estranged brothers. He immediately halted his idea for me to take Jasper and Emmett along.

Carlisle nodded his head and I was off to address the next issue.

I was shocked by Jacob's appearance at the house. I had every intention on contacting him to have the talk he sought out this very morning but I was going to suggest the meadow, something neutral. More than his appearance at the house, I was shocked that he came alone and in human form. I hadn't seen human Jacob since the day following my wedding and it was very brief. At that moment, nothing separated us but a ditch. Even with that fact, I felt closer to him than I had in a really long time. My long lost brother stood before me in the tattered tan cargo shorts with his arms folded across his bare chest.

Given that he was in human form, I was going to leap the distance of the ditch but was halted by Jacob's actions.

Jacob took six steps backwards and took a running leap over the gorge. He landed steady on the ball of his feet only six feet from where I stood, his back facing me. Jacob slowly turned to face me, putting his back to a house of seven other blood suckers, as he would call us. I knew then he had developed a level of trust that we had once always had.

"I would have crossed," I said folding my arms and quirking my eyebrows at the half naked man in front of me. I couldn't help but grin at the familiar friend that stood before me. We had shared no words officially but I knew it was my best friend I was talking to and not my worst enemy.

"I had to teach you how it's done. I know you're new to all of this." His cockiness knew no bounds.

We didn't say anything for a few seconds before we started to bow in laughter at one another. I could see through the mental mirrors of my family that had collected at the patio door just how comfortable Jacob and I looked.

Jacob began to walk closer to where I stood and humbly bowed his head. "Edward, I wanted to apologize for all that happened. I should have never question who I knew you to be as a person, as a man, and more importantly as my brother. If you're a part of this family," Jacob jerked his thumb towards the house behind him, "they can't be all bad." We shared a smirk between us. "Thank you for protecting my family, my pack, when I couldn't."

"Jacob, I will always stand up with you. I know it will take some getting used to," I waved my hand in front of my nose, making my own joke.

The smile that was on Jacob's face was wiped away but I knew he wasn't angry or mad. Jacob could always take a good ripping. I had to laugh at his expense.

"Not funny leech, you don't smell too hot yourself," Jacob nudged my shoulder with his flaming hand.

I didn't let the derogatory term that so easily rolled of Jacob's lips effect me. His "leech" simply replaced "Eddie," a word I equally hated.

We kept laughing at one another as I extended my right hand to him.

"Brothers?" I need to hear the words aloud.

"Always." Jacob grabbed my hand with his and shock with a force that threaten to remove the appendage from its recently reunited place.

My face must have displayed the pain and need for carefulness as Jacob apologized and quickly removed his death grip. Just as we released hands, I caught a glimpse of something Jacob was trying to hide in his mind.

"What about a gold rope?" I questioned.

Questioning, shock, understanding, anger, and annoyance played out across Jacob's face over a three second time period.

"Your little freaky ability is getting old," Jacob pointed his finger in my direction as I tried not to laugh.

"Tell me about it," Emmett roared from the patio some thirty feet away.

Emmett and Jasper had exited the house unnoticed by Jacob or myself. I worried about Jacob suddenly being surrounded by vampires, only just now given his acceptance, but his thoughts were cool and mellow. Emmett and Jasper began to approach. Alice, Rosalie, and my Bella took the guys place on the patio.

"On behalf of my pack and myself I wanted to apologize for accusing you, all of you of doing anything to us yesterday." Jacob wore humble very well.

Jasper wouldn't hear of an apology, simply raising his hand to Jacob and saying, "No need... let's put the last few days behind us. Start a new." Jasper extended his hand.

Jacob didn't even blink before accepting Jasper's gesture and extending it as well to Emmett. That wasn't enough for Em. As he wrapped his huge hand around Jacob's, Emmett pulled Jacob into a mighty bear hug.

"Hey, you're family now! A bro of Eddie's is a bro of ours," Emmett finally dropped Jacob leaving him slightly unsettled on his feet.

Rosalie and I both dropped our head. I at the mention of my repulsive nickname and Rosalie at the goofy nature of her husband.

"Well... okay then." Even Jacob's thoughts were at a lost for words.

The four of us stayed at the end of the yard and talked like old friends. Eventually the three ladies joined us. Rosalie was immediately intrigued when Jacob mention that he was working as a mechanic. Though she kept a distant from him, they conversed openly over the joys of horse power.

Jasper beamed at the happiness of the joined group. A new circle of friends was created for the Cullen siblings.

My circle was simply mended; held by love and made stronger after war.

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