Disclaimer – I don't own Twilight. All rights go to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement intended.

A/N: I apologize for the delay. Outside of RL stuff I have no excuse. This chapter is shorter than usual and has not been run through my beta. I just wanted to get something posted ASAP. I am hoping to have another chapter by Monday but make no promises.

Story is non-cannon and rated for mature audiences only. ************************************************************

Chapter 9

-Garrett-

I understood Peter's reactions to Isa meeting with Aro. I knew it was just because he wanted what was best for his Angel. I could tolerate his concern. She had that affect on people. What I could not abide was his mistrust in my ability to protect her. "Now you listen Captain. I have more than a few things to say to you and you will remain silent until I am finished. If you cannot contain yourself, Isa and I will take our leave in the morning. Got it?"

It wasn't really a question. I would take Isa with me if I felt the Captain couldn't handle himself. He simply nodded his agreement. "As I said, we did not seek out Aro. I'm not fucking stupid Captain. When he found us it was tense to say the least. He wanted to know what I was doing escorting a human around the country. I had Isa behind me protecting her when the Whitlock crest caught the sunlight and reflected back in Aro's eye." I stared Peter down as I recounted the events of that day.

FLASHBACK

"Now Mr…" Aro's voice trailed indicating he wished to know my last name. "Richards." "Yes, Mr. Richards, would you care to explain how it is that you have exposed yourself to this…" His eyes darted to her neck area. I thought he was going to lunge at her. I pulled her closer to me and growled at the king.

"Tell me my dear, what is that you have around your neck?" He pointed at the shining Whitlock crest. Little One clutched it in her hand. "This?" Aro nodded. She placed her hand on my shoulder and went to move around me. I pulled her closer, pressing her flush against my back. "Oh Mr. Richards, I promise I mean the girl no harm… yet. Come here girl, let me see what it is you have there."

Again, Bella made to move around me. Instead I pulled her to my side so I could escape with her if needed. "This is the crest of my family sir." She held the pendant out for inspection. Aro's eyes flashed with curiosity. "You are part of the Whitlock family?" Little One was more than surprised that he knew of the Whitlock's. I knew the kings would know of Major Whitlock. All of the vampire race knew of the God of War.

"Yes. They saved me and accepted me into their family." I could tell she felt a great deal of sadness thinking of her family. Regardless of what happened with that jackass, she loved Peter and Charlotte. "Well that changes things my dear. We would never think of harming a Whitlock. You are planning on being changed yes?" Little One and I had already determined that there really was no alternative. To keep the Whitlock's safe she had to be changed. "Yes, I just wanted to see the world first."

I knew at that point things would be fine between Bella and the king. "Now my dear, why don't you tell me your name and we can become acquainted. I would also like to offer you an invitation to Volterra. You are welcome in our home any time."

END FLASHBACK

Peter looked sufficiently scolded. "I'm sorry Garrett. I know I overreacted but you gotta understand just how much we love that girl." The truth was, I did understand. Had I been in his shoes I would have reacted the same. "I know Captain, but you need to keep in mind that I love her just as much. She is my entire world and there is no way I would let harm come to her."

He exchanged an uncomfortable look with Char. "About that…" He rubbed the back of his neck, a nervous habit I noticed he had developed. "Are you two… erm… are you two together?" His complete lack of comfort with the situation made me smirk. Isa and I had not been together for nearly a year. "Captain, there are things she will tell you on her own. However, put your mind at ease, Isa and I are no longer 'an item' as they say these days."

His expression went from relief to worry all in a matter of milliseconds. "So you two were together at one point or another?" The old man was one protective brother. I sighed. I knew he'd overreact and Isa was extremely worried about it. I sat and motioned for him to do the same. "I'll tell you about it, but you need to listen and you cannot chastise Isa about it either."

FLASHBACK

"Thank you Aro for your hospitality." Little One had bonded quite well with the vampire king. Aro was just as protective of her as Peter, Char and I. The woman had a way of captivating the immortal race. She had all three Volturi kings wrapped around her finger. "You are most welcome Isabella. I wish you would stay longer but can understand your desire to see the world. I only ask you stay through Sunday so we may give you a proper farewell."

"That is completely unnecessary, but I know how you are Aro. Of course I will stay but only to keep you happy." He pulled her into a hug, laughing as he pulled her close. It was a sight to see the feared vampire king laughing, and with a human no less. "Thank you my darling Isabella! It means the world to your uncles and I."

"Yeah yeah now put me down before I get motion sick again!"

The following days seemed to pass quickly. The castle was buzzing with activity in preparation for her farewell ball. I had spent little time with Bella with all the preparations. It seemed she was always being whisked off by one vampire or another. I found her sitting in the courtyard watching the leaves blowing in the breeze. She seemed to be lost in her own thoughts. I took a few moments to just watch her. She was truly the most captivating woman I had seen in all my long years. Over the past few months we had grown rather close. I confided in her things I would never share with another soul. "You know Gar, staring is a bit too stalkerish for ya."

I laughed at her comment. "So you have eyes in the back of your head now huh Little One?" I moved toward her and took my place by her side. "No, but I can sense when you are near. It's a strange sensation. I know when you're close and have a general idea of how you are feeling." I understood what she was talking about completely. I had the same sensation when she was near and I could always tell how she was feeling. We could have whole conversations without ever talking. We were connected in a way I couldn't entirely explain.

At one point I had sat down to ask Marcus about our bond. He said while it ran very deep, we were not mates. I had known that before even asking but I still held out hope that we were and it just wasn't as evident because she was human. Marcus managed to destroy that hope. Spending so much time with Bella made it easy to love her. And in truth that is exactly what happened. I had fallen in love with Peter's 'Angel', my 'Little One'. She leaned on my shoulder and sighed deeply. "Like now, I can feel how much you care about me Gar. I feel how much you long for more."

"I do sweetheart, but I also know you've been through hell and back. I only want what is best for you. If we remain just friends or take this to another level, either way I am happy because you are part of my life. The fact of the matter is, we are not mates Isa. I've checked with Marcus. I cannot promise myself for eternity. If your mate comes along, or mine, we will go with them. I don't want to hurt you like that. All I can offer you is my undying friendship and devotion and my love until either of us meets our mate." I wanted her, there was no denying that, but eventually one of us would find our mate and it'd be over. "I don't want to lose you Isa. I want you in my life forever, in whatever capacity."

She sat in silent contemplation for what seemed like hours. Without saying another word she turned to me and stared deep into my eyes. Her eyes were mesmerizing. I could get lost in them for days. She leaned forward ever so slowly, never taking her eyes from mine. I felt her lips brush mine and heard her heart accelerate. I tentatively wrapped my arms around her pulling her closer. The kiss was sweet at first, hesitant but soon turned passionate. Her hands were wound in my hair and the most amazing noises escaped her throat.

Too soon for my liking she broke the kiss to breathe. "Gar, I've never been kissed like that." She panted through her words. I could feel her lust spiking through our bond. "Shall we retire to our quarters Isa?" She looked at me puzzled. "Just for some more privacy sweetheart." She shook her head. "I wasn't worried about that Gar. I know you aren't rejecting me, I can feel it. I'm just curious as to the reason for the new nickname."

"Ahh, yes well I can't very well call you Little One when you kiss me like that or when I'm thinking less than pure thoughts about you." I winked at her and her lust spiked yet again. "Now come on, before I'm tempted to defile you right here where anyone can see."

END FLASHBACK

"She felt horrible for weeks afterward, always worried what you two would think. It was awful. Our relationship was nothing to be ashamed of, but she wanted your approval and was so terrified of your reaction she couldn't ask." Peter still looked slightly angry at all I had divulged. Char, ever the peacekeeper decided to break the tension. "So you only call her 'Isa' when you're thinking naughty thoughts of our girl then Gar?" She asked in a semi-playful tone, adding a wink for good measure.

I laughed outright. While it had originated that way, as she grew as a person it became my favorite name for the 'new' Bella. "No Char, it's since just become one of my many names for her. I love calling her Isabella, but the kings are really the only ones who get away with it. Bella, while also beautiful is her common nickname. I wanted something special. She'll always be Little One to me, but as she healed I could see such a strong person. I felt she deserved a strong name. Isa has stuck since."

Peter had finally calmed enough to enter the conversation. "So you two are no longer an item then?" I couldn't figure out why he was having such a hard time wrapping his head around the idea that we were no longer involved. "No Peter, we are not. Why can't you believe me?" He glanced toward the stairs. "Because Garrett, she asked you to come to bed with her."

-Bella-

Vampires were funny creatures. Their very law required they have some ability to be covert, but they could rarely keep their conversations private. I heard everything Garrett told Peter and Char, as well as their reactions. I knew he could tell I was listening. He could feel me as much as I could feel him. It was the strangest bond really. I knew Garrett wouldn't answer Peter. My sleeping problems were my own little secret; he would never divulge my deeper issues without my consent. I slowly left my room and looked over the loft railing. "Because Peter, I can't sleep on my own. No I'm not going to get into it with you tonight, maybe someday, but not now. Now that you know the gritty details, may I please have my ice pillow? I'm tired."

With that I turned and headed straight for my bed. Before I even managed to set foot in my room, Garrett was laying in his pajama pants on my bed. "Come here Isa, you need your rest." I smiled and took my place by his side, wrapped in his arms. "You know I love you Gar. I'm glad we were lovers once. I'm glad you were my first and I'll always treasure what we had." His fingers combed through my hair. "I know Isa, I know. It was just never meant to be for us. I'll always treasure our time together, but we both knew it was only temporary. Now sleep my darling. Tomorrow will be another long day." I sighed and snuggled deeper into his chest. He was right, I would have much explaining to do in the morning. With memories of our adventures I drifted into a very deep sleep.

-Jasper-

I was pacing up and down the long road to my Houston estate. The drive was just over two miles and I had run it several times over the past five hours. Peter promised to call as soon as it was safe. We were all worried my Isabella would run again. None of us wanted her to flee from her own home a second time.

Finally! "Peter. How is she? Did you explain things? When can I see her?" The questions were out of my mouth before he had time to speak. "Calm down brother. She is doing very well. She's grown a lot as a person. There are things you are not goin to be happy with, but she's safe and sound. Nothing to worry about there." He was hiding something, I didn't need to be an empath to sense his hesitation. "And…"

Sure enough, he sighed on the other end. "And she hasn't given us a chance to explain things yet. She's up in her room sleeping." He was still hiding something. "Captain." It was one word that held such a threat. He knew I wanted the whole truth, not half-truths. "Garrett came with her." Of course he did, we knew he was accompanying her. "He's up in her room with her right now."

I let loose a growl that would scare any vampire. My mate was currently in her bed alone with another male. This was completely unacceptable. I vaguely remember hearing Peter shout something through the phone as I began running. It would not take long to reach Montana from Texas at full run speed. I would be back at home ripping apart the male who dare touch my mate before morning.

-Peter-

We were so fucked. I was a fucking idiot telling Major that in such a manner. What the fuck was I thinking? "Char, we need to meet him part way. If he comes stormin' up here without warning Angel we'll have one hell of a battle on our hands." I didn't want Angel to find out she was his mate by him dismembering Garrett right before her eyes.

My mate and I raced toward Texas. Somewhere in Utah we literally ran into Major Whitlock. We tackled him to the ground. I had his arms pinned while Char sat on his legs. It wasn't the first time we had to subdue the fucker. "Calm the fuck down Major. You didn't let me finish on the phone. Now either you can calm your ass down or I'll take your arms and legs from ya."

"Let me go Captain. If Char were in bed with another male you would rip him apart too!" He roared at me. The thought of Char with another male caused me to growl in his face. "No. You will listen and then if you still want to ruin your chances at happiness with your mate, we'll let ya go." He struggled for a moment longer but eventually calmed enough to listen. "Garrett is with her, but not for the reason you think. They were lovers at one time, but now it's more of a best friend kindred spirit relationship. He cares for her and she relies on him. You cannot go bursting in there and take the only security she has away from her. You will lose her if you do anything to Garrett."

"Trust us brother, we only want what's best for Angel and for you." My mate spoke quietly to him letting the information take hold in his brain. "She's fine sugar. Things will work out, but you must give it time. Let us explain things to her before you crash back into her life. You hurt her badly the last time she saw you." Char was right, we needed to be the ones to bring the topic about with Angel.

We sat on him for hours before he started speaking again. "Fine. I will not go running into the house scaring her. She doesn't deserve that. You will however explain everything to her tomorrow. Once you're finished, call and update me. I will be home within three days regardless." It was all we could ask of him. Keeping him from Angel was just cruel. If anyone had tried to keep me from my mate I would have torn them apart and asked questions later.

"Very well Major. Now if I let you go will ya play nice?" My brother nodded. I let Char move first so she'd be safe if he were to attack. I backed up off him and into Char, never turning my back. He was one dangerous vampire without being provoked. I feared he may actually rip us apart for interfering. Instead he simply nodded, turned around and headed back to Texas.

"Come on sugar, we should get home before Angel wakes." My mate had placed her hand on my shoulder to help calm me. "Come now Peter. If we leave now we'll have enough time for a quick hunt before she comes looking for us." Hunting with my mate was always a treat. Usually hunts were followed with bedroom activities. Hell yeah.