A/N: Just a little Halloween o/s written for Breath-of-Twilight's Countdown to Halloween Collab. Had a blast writing it, hope you have one reading it ^_^ Enjoy!


Murder at Masen Manor

BPOV

I hate horror movies.

I hate all things creepy, spooky, macabre, disturbing...

I pretty much hate anything and everything that can be associated with Halloween; spiders, ghosts, goblins, witches, ghouls, skeletons, gore, bats, webs, hockey masks, zombies, vampires, and last but not least...

Dense fog.

How the hell did I get roped into this?

"Edward," I whimpered, squeezing my boyfriend's hand tightly as he slowly navigated the truck through the overgrown path and fog that was so thick it hung like impenetrable curtains around us. The screeching of the branches scraping the sides and roof of the truck, as we pushed forward at a snail's pace, had chills running down my spine and gooseflesh permanently marking the skin over my entire body. "I hate this...you know I don't like spooky stuff. Do we have to do this?"

"Bella..." His laughing voice trailed off as he squeezed my hand back and shook his head at me. "It'll be fine. Emmett and I used to come here all the time. There's nothing to be afraid of."

Right...only the fact that the entire scene is something straight out of a psycho slasher film...if something comes after us I'm so tripping you and heading for the hills...

We've been together now for five months—after flirting and dancing around each other for nearly an entire year at every U-Dub campus function we'd both attended—and for two of those months, I'd been abhorrently dreading the arrival of October. From very early on in our relationship, I'd come to realize that Edward and his brother, Emmett, were Halloween fanatics. Their love of the holiday bordered on an unhealthy obsession, seriously. Even as far back as mid-June, they'd been searching websites and making itineraries so they could visit every haunted house, fright night, and spook-tacular event within a two hour radius of the campus.

Me, on the other hand, I'd spent the last few months making list upon list of excuses as to why I couldn't—or really wouldn't—be going with them.

And yet they still managed to sucker you into going with them to someplace even worse than a cheesy haunted house where the worst thing you really had to worry about was the hormone driven adolescent pervert dressed up as Dracula copping a cheap feel...dumbass...

"So...what's the story behind this place, again?"

Oh great...here we go. As if the first time I'd heard this story it hadn't given me nightmares for a solid week...Thanks, Angela...Traitor...

"When our parents were growing up, the story was that a rich man had bought and restored Masen Manor as a surprise for his wife on the day of their wedding, but after she learned of it, she didn't want to live in it because it was rumored to have been haunted...so it's been vacant ever since," Emmett chimed in with a creeptastic, secretive voice that made my skin crawl. I couldn't even gather the guts to turn around to see if his face matched his tone; I was positive it did.

"Haunted by who?" she asked, a slight tremor of fear making her quiet voice quiver.

"Not sure," Edward shrugged as I leaned further into his arm, practically wrapping myself around it. If he wasn't driving, I was pretty sure I'd be curled up in his lap with my hands over my ears singing, "LA LA LA LA LA LA" over and over again until the story was finished.

Ignoring my discomfort, he continued, "You see, no one's ever lived in Masen Manor for longer than two or three years, at most. According to town records, the estate was built in nineteen-oh-one, but the owner died mysteriously just before its completion. Some speculate it may be him that haunts the property, but others seem to think there was something there long before he died because the circumstances surrounding his death were...suspicious at best. Marcus Masen, the guy that owned both the property and the construction company that was building the house, was found floating face down in the greenhouse's water fountain by one of his foremen, when he arrived on site for work. Marcus had told his crew the night before that he was planning on spending the night on-site to finish moving all the plants into the greenhouse. He'd wanted to surprise his wife when she returned home from visiting her parents the following evening."

"That's horrible," Angela gasped as I shuddered.

Edward nodded and continued, "His wife, Dianna, couldn't bear to finish the house after his death, but she couldn't bear to part with it either because it had been his pride and joy. When she passed away fifteen years later, their son, William - who had been about ten or eleven at the time of his father's death, decided to finish the work his father had started so he could sell it for profit. A month into the job, William was crushed to death beneath a load of hardwood flooring planks, and no one could explain how it was possible for it to have tipped and for all three of the load securing straps to have snapped at the same time."

"Please stop...I can't listen to this," I pled, shaking my head and hiding my face in Edward's arm.

I hated the story behind the Manor. I'd only heard it once before, but once was more than enough for me. It reminded me of Stephen King's movie "Rose Red" that my best friend in high school made me watch. It was a horrific tale of a possessed house and its menacing spirited owner that killed any person who entered it.

"It's just a story, babe. Relax," Edward whispered, untwining our hands and wrapping his arm around my shoulders before kissing my forehead.

"This is where it really gets good," Emmett chuckled darkly.

Yep...so good that I might pee my pants, Emmett. Thanks, buddy. Never thought I'd be twenty-two and already requiring the use of adult diapers...Just focus on the glowing radio clock...there's nothing creepy about that...

"So the mansion was once again abandoned until about nineteen-twenty-four when a man by the name of John Walker stumbled upon it while hiking. Walker, having just recently moved to the area around that time, knew nothing of the house's history or why it had been left uncompleted. After asking around about it, and learning of its supposed haunted status, he waved it off and sought out the owner, William's younger brother Arthur—who was all too happy to sell the entire estate, land and all, for a steal of a price."

"Did he die, too?" Angela asked, her voice quivering from fear.

Nope, honey...he just went insane...and I think I might be joining him in that cozy asylum of his if they actually make me go in there...

"No," Emmett answered, and I could hear the wicked grin in his voice. "But three more men from the only construction company within a fifty mile radius did before it was complete. One fell from a scaffolding ladder, and upon investigation, it was found that the rope to his safety harness had been spliced...but all the ropes and harnesses had been triple checked that morning and none were found faulty. The second was struck in the head by the prongs of a hammer that had fallen off the ledge of the second floor banister, when not a single person had been within five feet of it at the time to have accidentally knocked it off. And the third was reportedly lynched, after somehow getting tangled up in an extension cord and falling over the same banister the hammer had been sitting upon."

"And he still moved into it after all that? Was he crazy?" Angela squeaked.

"Not at first he wasn't...at least I don't think he was," Edward took over as he navigated a hairpin turn in the trail. "Walker chocked it all up to coincidence and carelessness, and a week after the mansion was complete, he and his family—wife, two sons, and a daughter—moved into it. The first year they lived there, his eldest son became ill, but not a single doctor could diagnose what was wrong with him.

Because there wasn't anything wrong with him dum dum...not physically anyway...unless you count being haunted and possessed as a physical ailment like the flu...or chicken pox...or Typhoid fever or...

What the hell is that?

My head shot up, my spine stiffening, as something dark and shapeless moved in the periphery of my vision. Edward's grip on my shoulder instinctively tightened as he continued speaking.

"After hearing about the house's history through people in town, his wife became obsessed with the idea that her son wasn't sick...that it was something in the house harming him. She had a priest come out and cleanse and bless it, and everything seemed better afterward. Her son's health returned and nothing seemed out of the normal...but then other things started happening."

My eyes focused on the slowly approaching site where I'd sworn I'd just seen something move—but there was nothing there. Nothing but a sparse gap in the forest walls surrounding us.

Jesus...now my eyes are playing tricks on me...I wish they'd stop telling this damn story...clock, Bella...stare at the clock and stop listening...eight twenty two...twenty three...Christ I can still hear him jabbering away!...Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb...

"...inexplicable things like doors slamming in the middle of the night, lights going on and off all hours of the day on their own...things like that. And then, one day almost a year and a half after the house had been blessed, when John was at work and the kids were at school, his wife was cleaning their eldest son's bedroom and the bedroom door slammed shut, locking her in and as she fought to get out, she heard something growl her name...Eleanor."

BANG!

My head shot to the side and I damn near flew out of my seat as something smacked forcefully against my window, right as he growled her damn name. My breath seized in my chest, terror surging through my system, only to see it was a damn branch that had broken off a tree.

Stupid woods...stupid scary stories...that thing better fall off on its own because I'm not sticking myhand out the window to remove it...

"Relax, would you?" Edward laughed, tugging me back into his side.

"Shut up..." I grumbled, feeling dizzy from the adrenaline coursing through my veins. "That scared the crap out of me."

"Aww, my poor little baby," Edward teased, rubbing my arm as Emmett rolled his window down and half climbed out of it to pull the offending branch free from where it was caught in the side mirror. "I swear I won't let that tree branch bring you any harm."

"I hate you."

"No you don't...You love me and you know it," he chuckled, playfully shaking my shoulder.

"Not right now I don't," I grumbled, trying to calm my racing heart.

Okay, so that had been a complete lie. In the five months we'd been together, I'd fallen head over heels for Edward—which is a completely ridiculous phrase, by the way. I mean, isn't your head always over your heels? Mine is...well most of the time anyway...with the exception of when Edward throws my legs over his shoulders...

Mmm...now that's something quite lovely to think about right now, actually...

"You okay up there, Bella?" Emmett sniggered, tugging on a lock of my hair after rolling his window back up.

"I'm fine, thanks," I replied dryly, rolling my eyes. "Can you guys just hurry up and finish the story?"

"Alright, alright," Em sighed, no doubt calling me a party pooper in his head. "So after she finally escapes the room, Eleanor throws a bunch of clothes for her and the kids into garbage bags, right? And as soon as she has them filled with whatever she could grab quickly, she jumps in the car and heads to the kids' school and waits for them to be dismissed. Then disappears, not a one of them ever to be heard from again. Months go by and John exhausts every resource available, spends every last dime he owns trying to find them, before finally locking himself away in the house he can no longer afford, and no one in town thinks anything of it when he, too, disappears. That is..." Emmett's voice trailed off, I'm assuming for dramatic effect because he knows crap like that makes my skin crawl.

"Until the bank comes to slap a foreclosure notice on the door and the messenger spots John through the door's window, rocking back and forth on the foyer floor. He opens the door, but John doesn't acknowledge him...he just keeps rocking back and forth, mumbling over and over again "There's no way out...the Devil lives here...there's no way out...the Devil lives here..."

"Emmett!" I shrieked, slamming my hands over my ears to block out that creepy voice. Angela squealed and squirmed in the back while Edward burst out laughing.

"Bro, I swear you get better with that line every time we tell the story."

"Okay, Bells...no more creepy voice," Em guffawed, pulling at my hand. "I promise."

"You're a jerk," I huffed, swatting at him.

I'd been doing just fine at losing myself in thoughts of Edward and I in the sack, and all the magnificent things we could—and frequently did—do to each other before he'd broken out the voice he knew would creep me the hell out. He knew it because he'd used the same voice the first time they'd told me the story at a weekend kegger bonfire just a month or so prior. I couldn't sleep the entire night, and found myself sneaking back into Edward's dorm room at nearly two am, hoping and praying to everything holy that his idiot roommates wouldn't catch me entering or leaving again the following morning.

The obnoxious catcalls all the way down the halls of our co-ed building as you took the 'walk of shame'in the morning were beyond ridiculous. I swear they have a phone tree for whenever any girl spent the night with a guy in their room—known campus-wide to be that guy's exclusive girlfriend or not—because it never failed. No matter how quiet you tried while exiting the room in the wee hours of the morning, by the time you took a step away from it, resident idiots and all their friends would be standing outside their doors, acting like goons. It's like they all had alarm clocks that wailed "Sexed up vagina in the hall!", because half of those schmucks never even woke up early enough to make it to class on time, but they sure as hell were quick to rise and shine when opportunity knocked to mortify some poor girl just trying to get back to her own dorm room.

Thank God we're moving into an apartment before the spring semester...

"Is that the end of the story?" Angela whimpered. At least I wasn't the only one affected by the Masen Manor Tale of Terror.

"Almost," Edward chortled. "So after John is committed to an insane asylum, the house, again, goes abandoned for almost a decade, until some wealthy young woman dumps every dime of her inheritance into buying the estate from the bank, and no one tells her a word of anything that happened on the property. They all wanted to believe that it was their sharing of the information making the 'curse' a self-fulfilling prophecy...and that the place wasn't really haunted.

"She lived there for all of six months before someone from church noticed her missing from the service for the second Sunday in a row and goes to check on her...and finds her dead at the bottom of the stairwell. She was the last victim to be claimed before the house was purchased and restored by Edmund Masen, of no relation to the original owners, in nineteen-forty-one. He again, like its previous owner, had known nothing of its history, but the property, and especially the iron arch at the driveway entry bearing the name Masen Manor, had won him over entirely. His wife, Elizabeth, on the other hand, had known of its history and adamantly refused to even step foot on the property."

As we broke through the last of the scraping branches and into an open area, the manor sat looming and eerier than anything I'd ever seen before, bathed in moonlight and clouded with swirling fog. Edward's gaze locked on it, and he trailed off in a quieter voice, "It's sat here vacant since then."

"Oh no...no, no, no," I sputtered, shaking my head vigorously. "I'm not going in there...no way, no how, nah uh...nope...no sir-ee...not a chance."

My hair was standing on end as I trembled. The place was just too damn creepy. What windows weren't boarded up or covered with aluminum shutters, were busted out and black as pitch beyond the opening. Ivy had overgrown and engulfed the gazebo shaped side of the house, swallowing it whole before climbing and sprawling across the front of the Manor—its tendrils leafless and visually morose; a skeletal armor keeping anything living from trespassing beyond its threatening threshold.

"I think I'm with Bella," Angela murmured, her eyes wide and terrified as they darted around in every direction. "This...I don't even feelright out here."

Between the bone chilling tale behind the slumbering giant, and the ghastly and unwelcoming sight of the giant itself, it felt like we had unwittingly become the main characters a horror suspense novel authored by the master himself, Mr. S. King, entitled:

Murder at Masen Manor

Of course this won't come to be until we all die...between the four of us, I'm hoping for the hammer to the head. At least that guy never saw anything coming...

"Come on...it's just an old house," Emmett laughed, flicking on his Mag-Lite. "Edward and I used to throw parties here all the time in high school. It just looks worse for wear now because we haven't really been out here in a while to clear out the overgrowth."

He grabbed his book bag and hopped out as Edward grinned and clapped me on the shoulder, "C'mon...let's go. It'll be fun. I promise."

As soon as he shut the door behind him with a soft thud, my gaze shot to Angela in the backseat. "Okay, what's worse...going in there with them, or sitting out here alone?"

She looked around at the darkness and fog surrounding us, and as the guys got farther and farther away from the truck, her dark eyes shot back to mine, and we muttered the same thing simultaneously, "Forget this."

We scrambled out of the truck, as if someone had set it on fire, and took off running toward the guys, yelling for them to wait up. I had no idea what I was about to walk into, but I knew I wasn't about to be a sitting duck inside a truck with no keys. Edward turned around, laughing as he held one of his arms out for me. Emmett, the goon that he is, went running toward Angela with his flashlight beaming beneath his chin, laughing like a possessed psychopath. She screamed, her voice echoing in the dense air and bouncing off the surrounding trees, as he chased her around in circles before catching her and throwing her over his shoulder.

There ya go ya big brute...just scare the poor girl into letting you get in her pants. Good luck with that...

"Ready?" Edward asked, pausing on the front step after breaking the lifeless vines away from the doorway.

"No...I swear to God, Edward...if you let go of my hand for one second inside there, I'm snatching that flashlight and beating you to death with it...then I'm stealing your keys."

He just laughed under his breath and squeezed my hand tightly as he ducked down for a kiss. A moment later, he turned the knob and had to butt the door with his shoulder to force it open. The rusted hinges let out a stuttering groan as the door swung into the house. I held Edward's hand in a death grip between both of mine as he led me inside.

Nothing like announcing our arrival to whatever's waiting for us inside...

It smelled musty. Musty and stale; as if the place hadn't been aired out in over a century, and as Edward swept the area with the beam of his flashlight, all I saw was cobwebs and dust.

A colorless world of gray frozen in time...slumbering away, hidden deep within the forest...that is, until a bunch of brainless nimrods decide it'd be a good idea to try and wake it...if there's any mind-reading ghosts in here, I swear this wasn't my idea...please don't hurt me...

"See? Just a house," he said, his smirk teasing as he led me forward. A moment later, Emmett came up beside me. He dropped Angela down to her feet and hooked an arm around her.

"How's about a tour?"

As soon as he asked that, I swore I heard a floorboard creak above my head, and I jumped, "Did you hear that?"

I knew it...we've awoken whatever sinister force dwells within this place...Dear God...please don't let me die...I've always tried to be a good person...okay, so I didn't abstain from sex until marriage...but come on...I was the only virgin at my high school graduation...that's gotta count for something right?...

"Hear what? I didn't hear anything," Angela murmured, looking up to where I was—but for long seconds everything was perfectly still; nothing but dead silence in the air.

"It's all in your head, babe. C'mon...I wanna show you the greenhouse."

Edward tugged me along, more like dragged me behind him, as my gaze stayed fixed on that spot of the ceiling that I knew a sound had come from. It wasn't in my head. I'd heard it clear as day, and it made every inch of my skin prickle anew.

As we made our way through the house, Emmett must have been trying to freak Angela out because she kept yelping and then laughing, making me jump a foot in the air. My poor frantic heart nearly gave out each time, and for seconds afterwards, my pulse would thrum loudly, deafeningly, in my ears. Just as we were walking through the French doors, into the greenhouse, something poked the back of my thigh, and I nearly trampled Edward.

"Oh my God! Something touched me!" I screamed, jumping and pushing him through the doorway while practically climbing on his back as he stumbled forward. He caught himself with his palms on the concrete floor and grunted as his flashlight clattered and spun on the ground. When it came to a grinding halt on the rough concrete, it faced Emmett in all his hysterical glory, waving a long stick around in the air.

"Emmett, knock it off, man. I'd kind of like to keep my girl around for a while if you don't mind."

"You're an ass," I growled, pushing him with everything in me when he tried to hug me and apologize.

"Are you okay?" I asked as I turned back around, feeling horrible as I spotted Edward inspecting the palms of his hands with the light of his flashlight that he had tucked between his chin and chest. I took them in mine and wiped at the raw and lightly bleeding scrapes with the bottom of my sweater. "I'm sorry," I pouted, kissing his wrists because God only knew what was on that floor.

"It's okay. I've had worse, trust me," he laughed. He pocketed the flashlight and then brought his hands up and nudged my jaw with the backs of his fingers—the clean parts, thank Heavens.

When I tilted my head up, he smiled adoringly down at me and lowered his head to brush his lips against my own. The soft backs of his fingers caressed my cheeks tenderly as the tip of his tongue grazed my bottom lip. I wrapped my arms around his neck and tilted my head to the side to deepen the kiss. While I focused on the bliss of his taste and the feel of his tongue, his hands slid down over my breasts, pausing only momentarily to squeeze them gently before continuing to my sides and around to my back. His hands continued their unhurried journey until they were cupping and gripping the denim clad flesh of my ass, and he hoisted upward. I giggled into his mouth as my legs wrapped around his waist tightly.

Moments, or it could have been minutes, passed before his hands stilled, and he hummed as he pulled away. "Calmer now?"

"Much," I sighed, unlocking my ankles and returning my feet to the floor while wishing we could just leave and do a lot more of that.

And much more else...

"Bella! Come look at this," Angela's voice echoed within the glass structure. Edward wrapped his arm around my shoulders and led us toward where they were standing at the back of the greenhouse, and as we approached, I gasped.

Roses...

Blood red roses, thriving and abundant, swarmed the back corner.

"How? It's like forty degrees out and there isn't even a way for them to get water."

They were beautiful, but hauntingly eerie in their immaculately gorgeous, and theoretically impossible, existence.

"I have no idea," Edward chuckled incredulously. "They've never been here before."

"That's creepy..." Angela breathed as she shuddered. Her gaze met mine a moment later, "It makes it seem like the house is alive."

The house is not alive...this is not Rose Red...there has to be a reason they're here...think Bella, think...

While my mind tried to come up with a logical explanation, any believable explanation for the thriving roses when the entire rest of the greenhouse was covered in dead, drooping plants, out of nowhere the sound of trickling water suddenly emanated from behind us. We all spun at the same moment, the guys aiming their flashlights directly at the center of the room where a previously dormant fountain was lit up and spewing water out of the mouths of a trio of lion heads.

"Holy shit," I squeaked, slipping behind Edward's back and latching myself to him, half hiding myself from whatever the hell was in the room with us.

"No way," Emmett scoffed, lolling his head toward Edward. His expression screamed disbelieving skepticism. "Someone's here. I bet you someone rolled up after we came in and snuck in behind us."

"High or low?" Edward grinned, completely baffling Angela and I.

"Low...I took high last time."

"Okay, go," Edward laughed quietly, grabbing a hold of my hand as Emmett took a hold of Angela's and they began pulling us from the room.

"Edward...where are we going?"

Please say home...please say home...

"Shh. We're going to find the person messing with us," he whispered as we crossed the threshold back into the main house.

"Are you crazy?" I whisper yelled, tugging his arm, hard. "What if it's not someone, Edward? No. We should leave...this is insane."

"Babe...stop." He pulled me straight into his chest and wrapped his arms around me to stop me from dragging him out of the house. I was nearly in tears when he ducked his head down and started whispering in my ear. "It's fine. There's never been anything weird or strange happen any time we've been here in the past. When we were on the main road, someone passing by probably recognized my truck and knew where I was going. They're just trying to mess with me and Emmett. We used to do it to people all the time, so just relax and let's go find out who it is, okay?"

Friends, Bella...it's just their friends...it's not a ghost, or a demon, or a poltergeist, or whatever else along those lines you can think up...it's just their friends...right, that was so convincing...

"On one condition," I breathed, gripping the sides of his pullover fleece. "You let me pummel the ever living fluff out of them when we do."

"When did you get so violent?" he chuckled breathily before releasing me and grabbing my hand.

"Dad's a cop, remember? I knew how to throw a right hook before I knew what the terms puberty and hormones meant."

He paused at the doorway and turned back to look at me, "How about I let you take all your aggravation out on me in bed later tonight instead...?"

Even in just the faint glow of his flashlight beam reflecting off the floor, I could see his sexy smirk and playful eyebrow waggle; it made me laugh—and simultaneously wish it was "later" already.

"Deal."

Emmett and Angela were long gone by the time we hit the stairwell, but I could faintly hear them shuffling around and sniggering about something. We tried to make our footsteps as silent as possible as we ascended the stairs, but each step groaned and creaked beneath our weight, and I repeatedly flinched at how obnoxiously loud our movements were within the otherwise nearly silent house. We might as well have been a herd of elephants stampeding up the stairs for as botched as our attempt at stealth was.

When we made it to the top landing, a chill ran through me as I spotted the banister in Edward's beam of light and recalled the house's history. Fully aware of how ridiculous I was being as we navigated the hallway, I pressed my back against the wall, unwilling to get any closer to the railing than I absolutely had to.

Slowly, and as quietly as we could manage, Edward and I systematically scoped out each creepy room. The fixtures in each room were antique and the furniture was made of ornately carved hard woods, possibly mahogany or walnut. I couldn't tell, it was too dark and everything was covered in dust. One of the rooms even had an old black and white portrait above the bed, hung in a thick wooden frame, and the people in it were ghostly looking. It wigged me out because it felt like they were looking at me no matter where I stood within the room.

After clearing what I figured had been a library or an office at one time based on the numerous bookshelves lining the room, Edward tugged me toward the end of the hall to the last door. I'd been expecting another bedroom or possibly a bathroom, but when he opened it, it was a stairwell.

Oh no...not an attic...please not an attic...

I must have whimpered because Edward sniggered nearly silently; just short bursts of air through his nose, as he squeezed my hand and pressed forward. And again, each step creaked, moaned, and groaned beneath our weight. Halfway up, Edward dropped my hand as he stumbled back down a step and swatted around his head with both hands. He made a sputtering sound as he tried to dispel something from his mouth while wiping at his face as he turned toward me.

"Cobwebs...lots of 'em. I don't think anyone's been up here before us."

He hadn't even finished whispering to me before I was practically leaping back down the steps, perfectly content to get as far away from the attic as possible. He didn't have to convince me any.

Again, as we made our way back down the hall, I hugged myself closely to the wall as Edward walked fearlessly down the middle, laughing to himself over my chicken shit idiocy. By the time we hit the middle of the staircase on our descent, Angela and Emmett appeared at the bottom.

"We got nothing, you?" Edward asked quietly.

"Nope, not a thing," Emmett shook his head. "Bro...I don't think this is Mike or Tyler yanking our chains. They've never been this good at not getting caught. What if Marcus really does haunt this place?"

Edward's steps faltered, and mine completely missed the stair I'd been aiming for, when a loud bang rang out from one of the upstairs rooms. Angela's and my screams ripped through the air, but before I could even pull in a breath, Edward was hauling me upright, making me scramble to keep up with him as he tore back up the stairs. Emmett and Angela were hot on our heels, and the staircase shook with the force of our pounding footsteps.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are," Emmett sang, bypassing Edward and I and heading to the second doorway in the hall.

No, no...stay where you are Marcus...don't listen to the idiot, I never do...trust me, it never leads to anything good...even if you're already dead...

In and out of every room, we searched again; in every closet, under every bed—everywhere, but still, there was nothing. Edward and I had made it back into the stairwell to the attic for the second time when we heard heavy footsteps on the stairs and we saw Emmett taking off out of the office/library, dragging a stumbling and whimpering Angela behind him.

I don't want to play this game anymore...It's not a person...it can't be a person or we would have found them the first time we were up here...

When we hit the bottom of the stairs, three things happened simultaneously; what sounded like an old vinyl record scratched to life and began warbling a disjointed and hair raising piano tune, a door slammed at the back of the house, and the chandelier hanging high above the main foyer flickered twice before leaving us in the pitch blackness, once again, as Angela and I screamed holy terror. Emmett grabbed Angela and took off toward the music, and Edward pulled me, still screaming, behind him toward the back of the house.

We're gonna die...holy shit we're gonna die...please God...I swear I'll be virtuous from this day forward...I'll get an iron chastity belt if you just let me make it out of here alive...I'll give to the needy and live like a pauper, I'll go to church every day of the week...just please, I don't wanna die...

I was gasping and shaking from head to toe by the time he came to a short stop inside the greenhouse, and I crashed into his back. I'd been too busy praying and vowing to never let Edward touch me in an impure manner again until he'd made an honest woman of me to pay attention to anything else.

"Edward, please...please, let's just go," I cried as he dropped to a crouch and swept the light across the floor.

I blinked the tears from my eyes as a sob ripped from my chest, and as my vision cleared, I saw a black form pass just beyond the wall of windows and disappear. I screamed bloody fucking murder. My ear piercing siren of a wail sent Edward colliding with the concrete floor, and I choked on my own air as I frantically pawed at him, trying to pull him up so we could run away.

It's coming for us...it's coming for us...it's coming for us...

"Bella! Calm down!" Edward laughed loudly, his voice echoing back from the walls of glass surrounding us. "Why are you screaming?"

"Someone...something...was...outside...the window."

I was a spluttering, jittery, jumpy, goddamn mess, practically jogging in spot while trying to get him to move.

"Breathe, baby. Just breathe." He wrapped me in his arms as he spoke, his voice all too amused by my terrified state.

"It was right outside the window, Edward! Ghosts don't need doors for shit's sake!"

"Bella calm down," he chuckled in my face, and I nearly hit him. "Do you trust me?"

It seemed like I was nodding, but I was merely wiping my messy face on the front of his pullover and secretly hoping it grossed him the hell out. It was the least he deserved for dragging me into this house of horrors, and if we made it out alive...

I'm gonna beat this motherfucker to death...

"I won't let anything happen to you, beautiful." He kissed my forehead as I clutched his waist with trembling hands.

"I don't like your friends...or this house...or you right now," I shook my head frantically, still spilling tears and snot all over my face. "I don't want to play this game, if it's even a game, anymore, Edward. I want to leave...please? Please can we leave?"

He sighed after lighting my face with the flashlight and taking a damn good look at it. "Let's go find Emmett and Angela."

I nodded again as he twined our fingers together and started to lead me back through the house. As we passed from room to room, he called out their names and occasionally we'd pause to see if we could hear anything—which we couldn't. The entire house was dead silent minus my occasional sniffle and hiccupping, stuttering breaths.

"I think they might be upstairs." He turned to look at me as he patted his pockets. A deep frown settled upon his lips and he eyed me cautiously. "I lost my phone somewhere. Think you can handle one more trip up there?"

"Can we go after that..." I trailed off, swallowing down the sob that wanted to tear out of me. "P...please?"

"Yeah," he nodded. "Let's go get 'em and get out of here."

We trekked our way back up the steps, and as soon as we hit the landing, we heard the shuffling footsteps above our heads. I tensed and swallowed thickly as Edward sighed and squeezed my hand. "They're in the attic."

"I'm not going...I'll just stand right here. Don't make me go up there...I don't wanna go up there..."

Hell over high water, I was not climbing those steps into the land of spiders and dusty webs...and whatever else might be lurking in the dark shadows.

"Okay, okay," he quieted my rambling as he held me tightly and rubbed my back. I wiped my face on his fleece once more before he handed me his flashlight and pulled a mini one out of his back pocket. "I'll be back in less than five minutes."

"I'll be here...right here," I promised, pecking his lips as he ducked his head.

As he disappeared into the stairwell, I slumped against the wall and began counting in my head to keep myself distracted and as calm as I could manage—which wasn't very. I was on the brink of either an anxiety induced heart attack, or a psychotic episode. I couldn't tell which any longer.

I'd only made it to sixty four when the faintest sound of something musical began playing from somewhere down the hall, but it wasn't old and haunting...it sounded like...

Garth Brooks...?

My breath caught in my throat and my heart seized when a loud clattering sound, followed by the banging of a door into a wall burst out of the library room. I took a hesitant step toward the noise, aiming the flashlight down the hall, its beam unsteady from the violent shaking of my entire body, but it was all over the moment I heard a deep groan come from the same room. I cried out in frantic sobs as I turned and flew down the stairs, looking behind me instead of where I was going, and at the bottom of the stairwell, I bounced off of something solid and large.

"Isabella..."

You didn't hear that...nope...just get up...GET UP! Now!...there's NOTHING there...just get the fuck up and RUN!...

My eyes shot open as something grabbed my shoulder when I tried to scamper away from the sound of my name being spoken by an unfamiliar voice that I was trying my damnedest to convince myself I hadn't really heard. When my head spun to the side, my gaze landed on the face of a middle aged man leaning over me, his face clearly visible for only a moment as the beam of my spinning flashlight on the floor illuminated him.

G...Gh...N...Fu...Gho...Marcus!...

The scream that ripped out of my lungs felt like it scorched my throat.

"Bella!" a chorus of voices shouted as the stairs shook beneath me. I'd heard and recognized Edward's voice over the rest, but it didn't stop the second scream from tearing out of me as the hulking man reached toward me again.

"Dad stop!"

Before I knew what was happening, Edward had slid down the last few remaining steps to land right beside me. Within an instant, he'd hauled me into his lap and surrounded me with his strong, safe arms.

"Shh...shh, it's okay," he soothed, rocking me as I sobbed uncontrollably. "It's okay, baby...it's okay."

No...it's not okay...it's so very not okay...nothing's okay right now...

"What the fuck happened?" Emmett demanded, his voice furious as Edward continued to try to console me.

"Uh...I think it might have been my fault," someone responded; a man, but that was all I could really comprehend. "When you sent me the text calling off the haunt, I was in the hidden stairwell in the library. Somehow the latch into the attic jammed and when I turned to head back down the stairs and out of the closet, my foot caught on something and I came out not so quietly. The uh...the hidden panel is broken by the way...and the closet doorknob is stuck in the wall."

"Fucking Hell, Jasper...I swear you have two left feet sometimes," Edward spat as a bunch of voices began squabbling.

"Edward, honey...bring her back to the main house," a soft warm and feminine voice spoke over the ruckus. "I think she's had enough of this place for one night."

How many ghosts are in this house? And why are they arguing?...I'm crazy...oh my god...I'm going to be shipped off to an insane asylum just like John Walker...

He sighed, and I felt him nod, his chin brushing against the top of my head. At least...I hoped it was his chin touching my head. "Wrap your arms around my neck, beautiful. We're going home."

"Hh...ho'me?" I stuttered through my hitching breaths, clinging to him with my eyes screwed shut tightly. I was too terrified to open them again.

"Yeah, baby...we're going to my parents' house, and I'll run you a hot bubble bath, and I'll wash your back and your hair just the way you like, and I'll be at your beck and call all night, okay?"

I sniffled and hiccupped all the way back out to the truck as Edward apologized over and over again. My mind was too chaotic to even make the slightest bit of sense out of any of what had just taken place, much less his sorrowful words.

"Ang...Emmett," I croaked as he placed me down in the passenger seat of the truck.

"They'll ride back with the others. It's okay, baby. Shhh, honey please just breathe and relax."

"What others, Edward?" I wailed, flinging my arm toward the direction of the haunted house from Hell. "There are no others! The place is crawling with ghosts! One of them grabbed me! Grabbed me, Edward!"

"Baby...sweetie," he sighed, grasping my face and wiping my streaming tears away from my cheeks with his thumbs. "There are no ghosts in there. That was my father at the bottom of the stairs...he was trying to help you up."

"But...but what about the big crash when you...were in the attic?" I blubbered, "And the footsteps on the stairs...and the thing outside the windows? And the music..."

"Jasper, my brother in-law, fell down the hidden stairs in the library, the footsteps and music were either from my sister Alice, or my mother, and the person you saw outside, I'm pretty sure was my father. There were no ghosts, honey. I'm sorry...I know you said you don't like spooky stuff, but I really didn't think you'd freak out this bad."

Slowly, ever so slowly, the pieces began coming together in my head, and understanding began to dawn on me. It had all been a prank, just a rouse created by a bunch of people lurking around in the dark—and I could do nothing but laugh.

Hysterical, insanity driven maniacal laughter bubbled out of me.

"You're scaring me, babe."

"Oh, you should be scared, Cullen," I chuckled humorlessly, my voice hoarse from screaming. I jabbed my finger into his chest and glared as fiercely as I could. "You are in some serious fucking trouble, Mister."

"I'm sorry," he sighed as he dropped his head into the crook of my shoulder and rubbed my thighs on either side of his legs. His lips began trailing a path up and down the side of my throat, from the corner of my jaw to the collar of my thick sweater as he spoke, "What can I do, Bella?"

His voice was silk and honey; seductively smooth and sickeningly sweet, the warmth of his breath caressing my skin with each kiss he planted upon my skin. "Tell me what to do to make it up to you...I'll do anything, I swear."

His lips latched onto the lobe of my ear and his teeth grazed the sensitive skin, making my eyes roll back as I mewled softly. I gasped as he moved from my ear and twirled his tongue against my neck, softly sucking the skin between his lips. "That's...helping."

He hummed a chuckle and murmured teasingly, "Is it, now."

As much as I wanted to continue, and I really did want him to keep going because it was about the only thing in that moment saving me from suffering permanent psychosis, the woods and the house surrounding us were still creeping me the hell out. Ghosts or no stupid ghosts.

Plus I was severely pissed.

"Yeah..." I trailed off, catching his hands as his thumbs brushed against the jean clad apex between my thighs. "But not enough. I mean it, Edward. You're in serious shit. You've got a lot of explaining to do."

He sighed deeply, but nodded into my shoulder before pulling back and kissing the center of my forehead. I turned in the seat when he stepped back to shut the door and crossed my arms over my chest. Through the fog, I could just make out the headlights of two cars coming from around the back of the house as he hopped into the driver's seat.

"So your whole family was here, huh?"

My lips pursed as he slumped in his seat after starting the truck, and I looked over to see him nod in the glow of the dash lights. His eyes were downcast, hesitant and weary of meeting my heated gaze.

"That's awesome, Edward," I grumbled, turning my head forward as we began moving. "Most people introduce their significant other to their family over...oh, I don't know, dinner maybe? They probably all think I'm a spastic idiot. Nice, thanks."

This ought to be an enlightening experience...oh hi, Mr. Cullen...sorry about that whole mistaking you for a century old ghost out to murder me. I hope your eardrums didn't suffer any permanent damage...yeah right...

"Bella, that's ridiculous. They'll love you," he argued as he reached over to take my hand in his. "If anything, they're all shitting bricks right now thinking you'll hate them after this."

"How did you even get them all to agree to playing along? Or is this how you've introduced all of your past girlfriends to your family?"

"It was all Emmett's friggen idea," he muttered. "And it wasn't supposed to go down the way it did. The plan was for you to actually meet them after we left here. That's the whole reason I brought you down here...to meet my family...but then Jasper fell and you screamed loud enough that we all heard you from the attic, and...it just got all messed up. I tried to call it off when you really started getting freaked out. I'm sorry."

"And for the record," he said, bringing my hand up to his lips and kissing my knuckles, "You're the first girlfriend I've ever willingly brought home to meet the fam'. The last girlfriend I brought home was when I was in high school, and it was a requirement just so I could take her out on a date. Her parents wouldn't let her go out with me until they'd met my parents, so my mother invited them all over for dinner."

"Did you all pretend your house was haunted? Assnut," I grumped and he laughed.

"No, but we probably should have. It would have saved me a year of headaches if we'd have run her off from the get'go."

"She was that bad?" I sniggered, feeling my anger subside slightly.

"You have no idea," he grinned, amused. "Ask Emmett about Crazy Katie someday when you want a good laugh."

"I'll remember to do that...though, I can't say you probably didn't deserve whatever she did to you..." I trailed off as my eyes caught sight of the back of an enormous house, the entire back made of glass and glowing from the lights within. "Are you shitting me?"

We'd only been driving down the other side of the path for a few minutes, at most, and I could see the headlights of cars passing on the main road in the distance through the trees. "Why the hell did it take us so long to get back there when the road is right there?"

"We took the long way. Again, Emmett's idea. He wanted to set the mood by telling the bogus tale on the way up." Edward pulled up along the front of the house and cut the engine as I gawked, unsure if it was because of the gorgeous mansion before us, or because of his answer.

"Wait...bogus? The story isn't real?"

"Not a bit of it...well except the name. It was Masen Manor at one point, between the mid eighteen fifties and early nineteen hundreds, but in the early twenties our great-grandfather, Marcus, built this house," he said, pointing at the mansion we were sitting in front of, "And they used the old Manor as the staff's quarters for the gardeners, servants and what not, until sometime in the late fifties, I believe."

"Our family...our birth parents, I mean...had been working on repairing it until they passed away and Esme and Carlisle moved us into the main house with them. The old estate has fallen further into disrepair since then."

"Your family?" I asked, completely incapable of keeping up.

"Yep. Emmett and I are Masens by birth, as is our mother...well aunt, really," he shrugged, "Are you ready? They seem to be anxiously waiting for you to get out of the truck."

My head snapped back toward the front of the house to see a group of people standing on the steps to the front porch. A tall sandy haired man with his arms around the waist of a petite brunette, who I knew to be Alice, Edward and Emmett's older sister/cousin. The man I'd mistaken as the ghost of Marcus, who I could now deduce was their father, was standing beside a stunningly beautiful woman, who I assumed was their mother, at the bottom of the steps. And finally, Emmett and Angela at the very top.

"Edward, before we get out of this truck...I need you to answer one question for me," I turned my head to look at him. "If I break up with you the minute we get back on campus...would you regret introducing me to your parents?"

His gaze fell, and he slumped slightly as he picked at the steering wheel cover. When a heavy breath escaped his lips and he deflated, he turned his gaze back to me, "No, I'd never regret letting them meet the only woman I've ever fallen in love with...but I would regret the last few hours of this night for the rest of my life if you did."

I felt bad seeing the glimmer of unshed tears in his eyes as he cleared his throat and twined our fingers together. "Please don't. I really am sorry."

"You're lucky I'm in love with you, too, but don't ever do that shit to me again. I mean it, Edward."

"I won't, I swear on my life I won't," he shook his head, leaning toward me and grasping the back of my head. His fingers thread into my hair and massaged my scalp as he pulled my lips to his and kissed me softly, reverently, lovingly.

When Edward hopped out of the truck and walked around the front of it, I tried to shed my anger and steel myself to face his family. He opened my door, and I took a deep breath as I grasped his hand and slid out of the seat. I could feel the scorching heat of embarrassment crawling up my neck from beneath my sweater as we approached them. I had no idea how to not seem like the crazy person I must have looked like just a short while before.

Here goes nothing...When in doubt, aim for humor, right?...

"Call off the patty-wagons. The straightjacket won't be necessary," I laughed, aiming for teasing but apparently only hitting the target of obvious anxiety as they all looked at me remorsefully.

Well...that went swell, hm?...

"Mom, Dad, Alice, Jasper...this is my girlfriend Bella. Please refrain from making any disembodied noises and messing with lights, electronics, or fountains," Edward joked tensely as his mother stepped forward. "For I fear one more prank tonight will leave me a single man once again."

"Oh, sweetie," his mother crooned as she and her husband stepped forward. "We're so sorry we frightened you so horribly."

"It's fine, really...no permanent harm done, at least I don't think," I smiled as best I could. "It's nice to finally meet you."

My nerves were a wreck. I couldn't tell one way or the other if my anxiety was just residual from being scared out of my wits, or if my already frazzled state was just being compounded by the whole "meet the parents" moment I was standing in.

She tsk-ed and frowned as she wrapped an arm around my shoulders, "Your voice is so hoarse...your poor throat must be sore. Come, I'll make you some tea for your throat and then you can rest. I promise we'll try to make a better impression in the morning."

The inside of the house was...breathtaking, just as I'd expected it to be after seeing just the outside of it. The tea Esme served was delicious, though it did little for my throat or my voice. The gathering, however, that I'd thought would be tense and uncomfortable based on the night's earlier events and my lingering anger, was surprisingly...comfortable and entertaining.

I'd never laughed so hard in my entire life as I did for the short hour and a half Edward and I had spent with his family before retiring to his room on the third floor. After a solid twenty minutes of heartfelt apologies, my nerves and anger had settled enough that I was capable of truly seeing the humor in what had transpired. I saw the humor in it, but I was nowhere near being appreciative of them having done it to me—especially not after finding out Angela had been in on it the whole time, as well.

Stinkin' traitor...whatever happened to the loyalties of sorority sisterhood?...

At the end of the night, as much as I'd wished I'd met them under drastically different circumstances, I really was glad to have finally met them. His parents, his sister, and even her husband, were all wonderfully kind and charming people. After many a laugh at my expense, they'd even managed to persuade me into helping them with their approaching nightly haunts. It turns out that years ago, when Edward and Emmett had been roughly twelve and ten, respectively, Esme had wanted to have the old Manor torn down, and in its spot create a manmade lake, but the boys and Carlisle convinced her into letting them turn it into a haunted house attraction for the area's Halloween thrill seekers.

For the last eleven years, they'd been "haunting" the old Manor and grounds while doing just enough maintenance to keep the structure safe during the rest of the year, and adding remote activated tricks to the fright factor. I hadn't even lasted long enough to experience their most recent installation—a projector system that casts flickering ghostly apparitions that seem to walk straight into walls.

I would have shit myself. Literally; not metaphorically.

The following night, October first, was scheduled to be the opening night for the season, and I was oddly stoked to be part of scaring the bejeesus out of other unsuspecting people—at least on every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night until the second of November. Call it retribution, or revenge...whatever. Someone was going to come as close to pissing themselves as I did if I could help it.

True to his word, when we'd gotten upstairs, Edward ran me the most luxurious bubble bath my eyes had ever laid eyes on. The giant claw foot tub had been surrounded by flickering, aromatic candles, and scattered atop the mounding bubbles had been beautiful rose petals. Blood red rose petals—from Esme's heated greenhouse. After washing my hair for me, and massaging every tense muscle in my shoulders, neck, and back, Edward departed the bathroom, leaving me to unwind in the soothing water, calming scents, and relaxing Jazz music floating in from the bedroom. It had been utterly fabulous, and by the time I'd stepped out to dry and dress, I was pruned from head to toe.

"You, my dear usually sweet and delightfully considerate boyfriend," I chided mockingly as I crawled across the bed, and settled myself astride Edward's hips. "Have been one naughty, naughty boy tonight."

As I hovered above him, smirking devilishly, his hands glided up my thighs and slipped beneath his UW Huskies t-shirt that I'd stolen the first time we'd ever spent the night together. His bottom lip that he had caught between his teeth as he grinned amusedly, was released suddenly the moment his fingers passed over my hips on their way to my sides—and he realized I wasn't wearing any panties. I giggled at the look on his face, but ended up moaning when he bucked his hips toward me.

"And you call me naughty," he teased after rolling us so I was beneath him.

He smelled the same as he did every other night I'd ever spent with him; an intoxicating mix of earth and late summer rain and just a hint of cologne, and I moaned as I was engulfed in it, in him. His narrow hips fit perfectly in the cradle formed by the parting of my legs, pinning me to the bed as his toned, muscular arms caged me in. There was no way I could move, no way I could escape—but escaping was the absolute last thing I could have desired in that moment while he was laving a swirling path up my neck.

"You are," I shrieked with laughter, squirming beneath him. His gentle touch, as his fingers trailed up my side like the caress of a feather, had my muscles quivering with ticklish spasms. His breathy chuckle against the dampened skin of my neck had me pinning my ear to my shoulder and slamming my hand down over his just as he covered my breast with it.

"Devilishly so." My snigger was met with a salacious smirk and hungry, desire filled forest green eyes.

"Baby...you're about to see just how wicked I can be."

He punctuated his statement with a thrust of his hips that had me arching into him. My head pressed deep into the pillow as I moaned at the ceiling.

Dear Lord, do you see now why I'm no longer a virgin? I might have made it to marriage if you hadn't created such an irresistibly tempting and delicious specimen of man...It's all your fault he burned my V-card on our first date...

Within moments my t-shirt had been tossed aside and Edward's body covered mine, the heat radiating from his skin keeping the chill in the room from reaching me. His lips caught mine in a passionate kiss; hot, moist, and soft yet alternately rough, and in an instant, I was drowning in desire. I could taste it on his tongue, feel it in his touch as he caressed, kneaded, and gripped—and thrust.

"Oh God," I cried out, ripping my mouth from his as his cloth covered erection pressed and rubbed against my clit. It was too much and not enough simultaneously. As I panted and his lips descended down my neck toward my collarbone, I tried snaking a hand between us but he grunted a muffled admonishment against my skin and grabbed it. In one hand, he held my wrists just above my head as he continued his delicious torture upon my body.

Across my collarbone and into the valley between my breasts his lips and tongue and teeth traveled, raising gooseflesh in their path as the cool air touched the wetness he left behind. No matter which way I writhed, trying to guide him, he wouldn't bring his luscious mouth to my breasts—or anywhere else that I wanted them. Over and under, to the sides and down the curve of my ribs they went, his free hand kneading the flesh of my inner thigh, hip, and side, but again, not going to where I wanted him most.

I should have been embarrassed by the sounds I was making, or at least concerned that someone else in the monstrous mansion would hear me, but I wasn't. And apparently neither was he.

"Ungh," he groaned, ramming his hips and steel erection against me. "I love hearing you like this...I may have to tease you more often."

Please God, no...yes...no...YES! Right there! Fuck!

"Right where, Bella? Here?" he asked, his tone amused as he tweaked and rolled my nipple between his fingers.

Did I...?...No, I didn't yell that out...did I?...

"Yes, there! Shit!" I cried out as he sucked my pebbled nipple into his mouth, his teeth grazing the supple flesh as his tongue circled and lapped at the puckered tip.

He let go of my wrists and in an instant they were buried deep in his hair, pressing him further into my chest. I whimpered like a scolded child when his mouth abruptly released my breast and my hands were wrenched from his hair. Above my head he placed them again, holding them there with both his hands as he lifted his hips away from mine. I wriggled beneath him, searching for friction, any friction, as he smirked devilishly down at me.

"Naughty, naughty," he chuckled and then blew a chilled breath against my perked, moist nipple, making it harden to a painful degree. "I can go slower if you can't behave. Can you be a good girl my Bella?"

I nodded frantically, panting and trying not to squirm under his lustful gaze. "I can...please, don't stop...faster...I'll be good."

His gaze softened, and he lowered his head down to mine. "You're better than good, baby," he breathed across my lips as he pressed himself against the most intimate area of my body that he, and only he, had ever filled. "You're amazing...always."

Outside the wind howled, answering me call for call as Edward brought me just to the brink of ecstasy over and over again with nothing more than his lips on my breasts, hands gliding over my skin, and rock hard erection grinding against my swollen clit. My fingers had fused to the iron bars of the headboard and throbbed painfully from the force with which I gripped them to deny their desire to let go and touch him the way he was touching me; to drive him insane with wanton desire the way he was me.

And then he shifted.

Down, down, down, his lips and hands went, crossing the soft flesh of my belly and further still.

His eyes, deep green with flecks of shimmering gold, smoldered up at me; mischievous, lustful, sinful eyes.

"Such a good girl," he purred, that devious smirk still upon his lips as he dragged his nose slowly from side to side, just above the thin strip of peach fuzz he'd once so brazenly told me he enjoyed.

"Such a wicked boy," I moaned breathily, his fingers gliding up and down between my slick folds making it hard for me to think of anything other than what he was doing to me.

Nestled between my quivering thighs, Edward watched as he slipped two fingers slowly into me. The tips of his fingers curled, brushing against the spot he knew would make my back arch and the air to rush out of me in a keening, breathless wail. When my back fell back down to the bed, his fingertips resumed their circuitous pattern.

Up...circle my detonator...once, twice...down...in...curl...out...up...

"Please!" I cried, nearly sobbing with my need to tumble off the precipice he had me teetering on for longer than I could have ever imagined possible. "Please...I have to come...I can't...oh God..."

My arms were shaking as I tried to fight off the urge to let go of the bars and touch myself, touch him, touch anything of slick flesh or warm muscle. He laughed darkly, all too amused by my frenzied wanton state.

"Tell me you forgive me for earlier."

Oh you dirty evil little bugger...of all the underhanded, shady things to do...

I lifted my head and glared at him, with my still damp hair sticking to the sides of my face, but he did nothing more than grin like the evil demon he knew he was in that moment as his fingers made another pass; up, circle, down, in, curl, out, up...

"Fuck," I moaned, my eyes rolling back in my head. "I forgive you, I for...something...Edward, please!" I sobbed, my whole body jerking violently as I literally threw a fit when his fingers slipped into me again...just as agonizingly slow as every other time.

My back arched when he curled his fingers within me, and his hot mouth descended roughly upon my sex; his tongue licking, swirling around, pressing against, and flicking at my over-stimulated clit. His teeth grazed and pinched as his lips sucked and his fingers fucked and my world shattered into a billion pieces. My vision went black before exploding into dizzying bursts of blinding color.

When I came to, he was hovering over me; his expression a mix of boyish humor and self-satisfied delight.

"You're wicked," I breathed a laugh, my hand pressed between my breasts.

"That I am," he chuckled with a slight nod, his smug smirk spreading.

"I can be wicked, too, ya know," I smirked and he quirked a brow at me.

"Really, now. Can you?"

Oh you have no idea, Cullen...You're about to learn a lesson I doubt you'll ever forget...Don't. Mess. With. The Bella...

It took everything in me not to laugh as he rolled off me and "assumed the position"; flat on his back, boxers shed and tossed to the side, and hands gripping the iron bars of the headboard with an expectant smile on his face.

"Yup," I grinned evilly, turning and pecking his lips before pulling my shirt from beneath him, tossing it on, and flipping onto my opposite side.

"I said I forgave you, not that I forgot what you did...payback's a bitch. Goodnight, Edward."

I had to mash my lips together to keep from laughing as a choking, gurgling sound sputtered from his throat behind me while I reached over to turn the bedside lamp off. And as I nestled myself into the pillow and hiked up the covers, still trying not to laugh, the bed began to shake and his deafening guffaw ripped through the air.

"You evil little witch!"

That'll teach you to scare me half to death for shits and giggles...Murder at Masen Manor, my ass...more like Cockblock at Cullen Castle...

"Love you," I sniggered into my pillow as I felt him shift to pull his boxers back on. A moment later he was curled behind me, his raging hard on and massive set of blue balls pressed firmly against my backside. He nipped my shoulder and pulled me tight against his chest, his final words of the night coming out in a sighing chuckle while I giggled quietly.

"Love you, too, She-Devil, more than life itself."