Chapter Seventeen—Case No.: 194 Part I


Case No.: 194

Date: May 1st, 2011

Client Name: Tyler and Rebecca Lawrence

Subject: There have been several incidents in the home, including moved furniture, bruises found on various members of the family, banging in the walls. More than once, they'd come home to find every mirror broken. They have a son and daughter, of eleven and seven years of age. The mother claims that since they moved into the home, their daughter has a new imaginary friend named Christopher.

Added note: May 3rd, 2011

Rebecca called and informed me that her daughter, Maggie, seemed to be losing blocks of time and is always tired. She will be taking her to see her doctor as I requested and have them run tests on her. She has continued to write into the journal as I suggested until the team could come out to investigate in June.


I sunk farther into my office chair, exhausted and sore. Bella was in the nesting phase of the pregnancy and I had spent most of the day rearranging the nursery. It took several hours for it to be just right. She had our fathers help with the paint, which I was grateful for, while she sat back and supervised. Which was good, since she fussed over me, when it should me doing it for her.

Though the pregnancy was uncomplicated and she was relatively healthy, she had bouts of sudden dizziness. According to the doctor, there was no other explanation other than hormones and exhaustion. However, we knew it had to do more with her gifts. She had cut down the number of outings to "help" spirits crossover.

Only the previous week, she'd gone out with Alice and Jasper due to a recurring dream of someone trying to contact her. I was unfortunately in the middle of something vital to finals for my students at the university and wasn't able to go with her. It had proved fruitful but at the cost of her sleeping for three days straight.

It had exhausted her that much.

To be safe, she was taking a week off again. It made me feel better that I had some time off soon, with finals around the corner and the end of the semester. I had declined to teach during the summer for the first time in years. My pregnant wife would need my full attention, despite her protests.

Angel-wise, there has been little activity. Before I would see at least a few angels a day, now it seemed to happen less frequently. I hadn't seen any in days. We weren't sure what that meant, but for the moment, we took that as good news. Jacob hadn't come around, even though Bella tried to summon him again. It suggested that he was once again out of reach, as in hell. We hoped not, but if it led to balancing out the war, then we'd do what we could.

The problem was that the Lawrence family needed us to come out as soon as possible. In most cases involving children, we would expedite our investigation to lessen the burden on such young minds. The psychological damage could be devastating and the children were at the age where they would remember everything for years to come. In two cases before, it had turned out to be one of the parents abusing the child. Whatever the case may be, we needed to go out there.

I looked over at the calendar, my eyes landing on the three days Bella blacked out. Everyone would take every precaution on those days to ensure that nothing would happen. A part of me thought that no matter what we did to prevent our deaths, if it was destined for us to die in the next two weeks there was little we could do to stop it. However, perhaps the information we had would help prevent it. We wouldn't dare all meet up. Bella thought it would increase the odds if we were together in one place.

"Hey," I heard her from down the hall. "What are you doing?" She walked over, offering me a soft but confused smile. "What are you still doing up?" Her hands, strong and sure, rubbed my shoulders, making them melt and loosen under her touch.

Taking her hand in mine, I kissed her fingers and looked up at her. "I should ask you the same thing."

She sighed, shrugging and dropping onto my lap as gently as possible. I hummed and ran my hand over her baby bump. At almost twenty weeks, she was starting to show more.

"Had a nightmare," she replied softly, nuzzling my shoulder with her lips and the tip of her nose. I kissed her temple, holding her close. Sometimes, it was through dreams that spirits communicated with her in our protected home.

"Do you remember what it was about?"

"A little girl jumping out of a window," she whispered, fingering one of the buttons of my plaid shirt. "She's a pretty little girl, too, with pale green eyes, mocha skin, tight brown curls. I think her name is Maggie."

It was hard to keep my reaction at bay, but I succeeded. With my free hand, I exited out of the client file, hoping that Bella was too preoccupied with telling me about her dream.

"She keeps saying something about flying. That someone told her she could fly if she tried."

I curled my hand over her stomach protectively and kissed her again. "I'm sure you'll figure it out."

She nodded, pressing her lips along my neck. With a little hum, she started to nibble on my ear. "Any chance you want to make love to me tonight?"

I smiled down at her and couldn't resist kissing the tip of her nose. Bright brown eyes nearly melted as she tugged my head down for a full on kiss. It was true what they said about how a woman in pregnancy glowed; my wife certainly did.

"Again," I said, hoarse and rough enough that I had to clear my throat. She winked at me as she stood up and held out her hand. Ignoring the file that would undoubtedly cause nightmares of my own, I followed her to our bedroom.

Under the minimal light of a new moon that streamed through our windows, I kissed her again. Within minutes, our hands gripped harder than usual, desperation usually hit before now. I knew it had to do with the time, and with the sword that loomed over our heads, we tried to make the most of every night and day. It made us urgent, desperate to share as much love as possible.

I lay open-mouthed kisses across her shoulders, the back of her neck, savoring her taste and the feel of her tucked so intimately against me. She urged me with words, as talented with them as she was with her art. They made me burn, want, and grunt.

"I love you," I groaned, lost to the pleasure and warmth that surrounded me.

"I-I love you, too," she gasped, arching her back and guiding my hand from her breast to between her thighs. I cursed against her shoulder, nibbled as I stroked inside her. "Please stay with me."

If the choice was truly up to me, she knew I'd never leave her. "I love you," was the only thing I could say. Determined to make her forget, even for a little while, I kissed her a little deeper.

Almost an hour later, we resurfaced and I chased her into the kitchen. There, she sat as I cooked us up some simple sandwiches and soup, famished from our lovemaking. We kept our conversations light, but I knew the time would come that the sword overhead may strike.

~oOo~

A few days later, we had a visitor. "Edward!" I heard Bella scream from the kitchen. I ran toward her voice, with Emmett and Eric right behind me. We'd been discussing possible cases for the following month in my office for the last hour.

"Bella," I called out for her and felt the familiar presence of something other than human in the air. I ran inside and found her in the center alone, her hands clasped together, watching me with wary and wide eyes. "What is it?"

The startled look disappeared, soon replaced by tears as she ran into my arms. "Don't you see him?"

"Who?" I asked, deeply concerned. Her heart was racing so hard, I could feel it beat against my chest. "What's going on, sweetheart?"

"Holy fuck," Emmett said. I turned to look at my friend, to find him tugging on his hair and his eyes on something behind Bella. "Are you telling me you can't see him anymore, but I can?"

Bella stiffened in my arms, pulling away. That caught in headlights look returned, but quickly morphed as she spun around.

"Jacob," she said softly. "What does Emmett mean?"

"Jacob's here?" I said urgently, pulling her arm to get her attention again.

"Yes," she said with caution. "Eric? Do you see him, too?" Eric, whom had been in my crew for years, was a dear friend and colleague solemnly nodded. "Jacob, are you trying to tell me that for some reason Edward will not die with the rest of the team?"

Eric and Emmett groaned.

"I don't like being out of the conversation," I stated firmly. "What's going on? What did he say?"

"Sorry," a disembodied voice said from my right. "Can you hear me now?" Despite the dire situation, Jacob decided to show some of his personality, chuckling at his own joke.

"That was terrible, Jake," Bella hissed, punching the air between us. "He changed the frequency of his voice so you could hear him, honey."

Jacob added, "But you still can't see me."

Some confusion still lingered, but something was a little clearer. The future was not set in stone. "Which means for whatever reason, I won't die along with my crew."

"It appears that way," Jacob said, though his last word was drawn out, as if wasn't sure.

The others seemed concerned, looking at the space beside me. I had to get used to the situation and the fact that I would not always see what Bella did. It made things difficult, but at the very least, I wanted to know what was going on in my own house.

I said as such.

"He's not allowed to give us details, remember?" Bella said, wincing. "They're trying to pull him back onto another plane to stop him. Jake has more control of himself to prevent it. Sorry, he can't do the voice thing again so you can listen."

"I think I got it," Jacob said again. "Sorry. Almost limitless power, but I still can get grounded for my actions."

"Why did you come to tell us in the first place?" Emmett said. "For the most part, nothing has changed. Edward can't see you, but we still can. So that painting Bella made could still come true. It only shows the van and Edward's truck, but not him."

"Can you think of anything that would pull Edward away from the crew?" Jacob asked softly.

"The only thing that could stop me from attending an investigation is Bella or family."

"That's what I was afraid of," Jacob said.

I groaned, rubbing a hand over my face. "I'm starting to think we're better off not knowing. As much as it sickens me to leave Bella, even in death, looking over our shoulders and waiting for it to happen is too stressful."

"He's right,' Bella said, taking my hand. Her eyes started to fill with tears. "I'd rather not know."

"Same here," Eric said, shrugging as he stuffed his hands in his pockets. "I don't regret you telling us before. It helped put some things in perspective and taught us to live life to the fullest, but they're right. I'd rather not know."

"I'm with the rest of these guys," Emmett said. "When and if it happens, it happens. I just hope heaven is able to handle all of this." He lifted both of his arms, flexing his biceps and kissing each one.

Bella started to giggle.

"That's good to know," Jacob stated. "I came to see each of you on the last day of April. None of you saw me, then suddenly, as of May first, you could again, except for Edward. Something in the last few days changed things again. Be careful. We need you all for the battle that's to come."

"What are we supposed to do?" Emmett said, Eric echoing him. "She's the one with the gifts."

"She'll need all the support she can get."

With that, only a single gray feather that fell signaled his departure. It lay between us on the floor, at least a foot long. It was grey, but the tips of it were white. From what I remembered in the rare instances he allowed us to see his wings, he never had white in his wings before.

"Does that mean he's advancing?" Bella shook her head, carefully picking it up with a pair of tongs from the drawer. She dropped it into the sink to dispose of later. "Okay. So what changed on the first?" she asked me. "Something tells me that my dream and whatever you were hiding on your computer the other night has to do with it."

I kept my face neutral, even though I knew it was no use. She knew me too well and was too smart and observant for her own good.

"We'll discuss this later." It was all I could give her now as we faced an uncertain future, concerning our friends.

"The question is, do we tell the others?" Eric asked, rubbing his mouth with his hand. A nervous tic he'd developed in the last few weeks.

"I don't expect you to keep things from your loved ones. You spoke on everyone's behalf," I stated, shaking my head. "Though I feel the same, it's better not to know." I had no idea how to say what I wanted. "I'm not afraid to die, only because I know that Hayley will be there waiting for me in the end. I do fear leaving Bella alone."

Bella wrapped her arms around me, nuzzling my chest. "I know what you're saying. I'm still scared, probably always will be." She looked up at me. There was concern and fear easily found in her eyes. "I would feel better knowing you'll be reunited. That doesn't mean I want to know when our time will be up. It could be tomorrow or years from now, and the timing of it shouldn't determine how we live our lives now."

I gave her a small smile, squeezing her hand in mine. "In other words, no matter when it happens, live each day to the fullest."

Emmett clapped his hands loudly, once, rubbing them together. "Life's too short anyway. So I'm out of here, I'm going to see my girl and the kids."

"Same here," Eric said, clasping my hand to shake. "I'll call the group together and get some research started on that property you asked for."

I nodded. "Let's shoot to meet on Friday. Hopefully that will give you the time you need."

"Um, can you make it Skype instead?" Bella asked warily. I cocked an eyebrow. "Sorry, Friday is still too close." I understood, old habits were hard to break.

I nodded and kissed her before leading the others out into the foyer. "We'll Skype, set it up with the others. I need the information fast."

"Will do, boss," Eric said, grabbing his coat and heading out the door. Emmett took a hold of Bella and whispered something in her ear.

"I won't," she said softly, rolling her eyes. "Though he deserves it."

"He's only looking out for you, doll face," he said and left.

I closed the door and proceeded to lock up for the night. "What do I deserve?"

"A firm hand," Bella deadpanned, making me smile a little. "Joking aside, you know better than to hide things from me."

"I do, but this might be too much, even for you."

"What's the name of the family?"

"Lawrence," I said, shrugging. "Why? Are you getting more impressions of the little girl?"

"There are children involved?" I nodded in response. "I'm only getting things about a little girl named Maggie. She looks familiar, though." She sat in the living room, closing her eyes and clasping the small coin that protected us from spiritual influence.

I started to read after she said nothing for several minutes. It was best to leave her be and allow the process to happen naturally. As much as I wanted to keep her out of this case, I couldn't stand by and allow something to happen to a child. The prospect of Maggie jumping out of a window had me nervous and jumpy since she mentioned it.

"Oh my God," Bella gasped suddenly.

I sat beside her immediately, taking a hold of her hand. "What is it?"

"Becky," she moaned, laying her head on my shoulder. "Baby Mags. Rebecca Lawrence is Jacob's sister."

"Shit," I said, standing up and heading toward the office. "I'll grab the file."

"Please," she whispered, already grabbing the items she needed to summon Jacob.

~oOo~

"I hate this," I expressed for what felt like the hundredth time.

"I know you do," Bella said from the passenger seat. "But if we go now, and I get a sense of things along with Jacob, we can call the demonologists you know to come out along with you and the crew."

I sighed, knowing she was partially right. "Do you have your necklace?"

"Yes, and two coins on me, two bracelets, and even my underwear have the protection spell on them."

"And she's under our protection," a voice said from behind me, causing me to weave on the road.

"Asshole!" I growled and looked over my shoulder to find no one there. "You could've warned me." My heart pounded in my chest, as Bella laid her hand on my shoulder to soothe me.

"That was not cool, Garrett," she hissed, rolling her eyes. "Where's Jake?"

"He hasn't left his sister's house since you warned him," Garrett said, sighing, "Ignoring his other duties, not that I blame him."

"What's wrong?" I asked. I wasn't able to see him, but I could hear the concern in his voice.

"It's probably a trap."

I pulled over immediately, turning to look where I thought his voice came from. "For who?"

"Jacob."

Bella whistled. "I hadn't thought of that."

"Demons are able to mask their signatures from us," Garrett stated, nearly hissing. "A recent development, so we won't be able to detect it. But you can, Bella."

"The moment you do, we're leaving," I stated firmly, looking at her. "Agreed?"

She stared for a moment too long, making me question the truth in her answer, "Yes."

I knew her as well as she knew me. "You're lying."

"I need to see, Maggie," she said.

"Fine, but the second there is an ounce of physical activity, we're leaving." She said nothing. "I mean it, Bella. I will drag you out of the damn house if I have to."

"And I will help," Garrett offered. "You're too important to risk, Bella. Not to mention you have the baby to consider."

"I can agree to that."

Somewhat satisfied with her answer, I pulled back onto the road when it was safe. Bypassing the Potomac, I watched as Bella stared toward that road.

"Can you see her?"

"Yes," she whispered. "She's so angry at me. I need to put an end to her senseless destruction."

The week before, there was a four-car pileup on that road that killed three people, one only thirteen years old. The authorities blamed it on the weather, but Bella had dreamed about the accident, with the spirit as a guide, as it was happening.

She was right. We had to find a way to stop that vengeful spirit.

We pulled up to the Lawrence home twenty minutes later. I wondered what had taken the family so long to reach out for help. Then again, considering the possibility of supernatural forces behind the incidents, it would make most question their own sanity.

Bella looked toward the two-story house with yellow siding and cedar roof. It was simple, built in the 1970's and had been remodeled several times since. The most recent was the attic that allowed the family to have another bedroom when they had visitors. Massive grey clouds parted enough to allow some of the sun to light up the perfectly manicured lawn in front.

"Call the demonologists," Bella said gravely. She looked over her shoulder to where Garrett's voice had come from. "Do you feel it?"

"Yes," he replied.

"What is it?" I turned off the ignition and waited for an answer.

"There's a gateway." Her voice was grave, hoarse even, but so very soft. Almost of is she was afraid to say the words.

I feared the answer, all too aware of what could scare her that way. "A gateway," I repeated in question.

Garrett's grave voice answered, "A gateway to hell, Edward."