A/N Long time no see! I know, I know! I could make excuses, and I have several, but the truth of the matter is that I've been busy with the various ups and downs of life, and the words just weren't there to be written. Instead of making my usual New Year's Resolution of dieting and exercising that I inevitably fail, I vowed to start writing again. And so far so good as I've churned out a chapter of this story and a one/shot for Twilover76's birthday that I posted on Friday. I'm going to do my darndest to post more frequently and wrap this up so I can get to the promised SC sequel and possibly expand the one/shot as my fantasy football gals have requested. Lots ahead writing wise this year, including my second novel coming out in June and 3rd to get writing as well. So the writing resolution is one I have to stick to. If you don't remember where we were: Charlie hates what Bella's become and disowned her and we found out Renee's a vamp. The mates have decided to find her and get some answers. Here's a step in that direction.
Fill Me with Your Poison Chapter 6
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Edward Cullen glanced at his mate as he navigated his Explorer through the deserted forest roads. He'd wanted to take his Bella home in true style, in his Vanquish, but upon discovering that the trip to La Push would be wet and muddy, he'd opted for substance over style.
"No," she admitted, knowing that he'd been listening to her thoughts on the matter the whole drive over. They'd been silent most of the trip, choosing to communicate in their new non-verbal ways that drove Edward's brothers to distraction at home. Jealous over the mates' ability to communicate with one another without saying a word, the boys' only retaliation was to think vile thoughts that forced the pair to verbalize their displeasure.
"Your father doesn't know we're coming, correct?"
Bella shook her head, the movement sending her sweet scent swirling in the car around them. Edward took a deep breath of it, finding just the smell of her enough to help with the tension that had crept into him every mile they got closer to their destination. His mate smiled and slipped her hand into his, running her thumb lightly over his skin.
"Billy swore he wouldn't tell him." She paused and studied Edward's handsome profile. "Or Jacob."
And there, that was the true cause of his tension. She felt his hand flex in hers at the mention of that name. Edward didn't fear Jacob, but he did fear losing control if he was confronted with the boy's sexual thoughts of Bella again. Not killing him had been the most difficult test of Edward's rather long life thus far and he was quite sure he would have failed said test had his brothers and Charlie Swan not been in the room.
"You can't kill him."
Edward jerked in surprise at the fear he heard in Bella's voice.
"I can't lose you, Edward. Nothing is worth that."
Before he registered the thought, Edward had the car pulled over and his mate in his arms. "You won't lose me, my beauty. Never. Why would you think that?"
She was shaking, fear overcoming her, despite his reassuring words. "I've lost everyone. I can't lose you. You're all I have left. All I want. Please."
He heard the unspoken plea, and his lips met hers as his hands rubbed the tension in her shoulders.
My love, you could never lose me. I'm with you for eternity. Nothing could ever separate us.
His lips, hands, and thoughts soothed her somewhat, and she pulled back, resting her forehead against his. "But if you lost control…"
Edward chuckled and stroked her cheek. "Bella, you're still thinking like a human."
That made her scowl and sit back. "Vampires have rules too, Edward- very well-defined ones that say-"
"That if we were to kill a human, a healthy human with no desire to die, that we forfeit our lives," Edward finished, smirking at his mate and admiring how she got even sexier when she was angry at him.
That thought had her huffing and crossing her arms over her chest. "Well? Why shouldn't I be worried, then? If you kill Jacob, they'll kill you." And I'll die, too, because I'm not going to live without you.
Edward's amusement fled at her final thought, and he understood why his mate was so upset, even though her fears were misplaced.
"You won't ever face that possibility," he vowed, taking her face in his hands, his eyes boring into hers. "I swear it to you."
Her hands came up to grip his arms. "Then why-"
Edward shook his head. "The rules, Bella, they're a joke. We put them in place to make humans feel more secure, but come on… How many vampires do you think we've actually killed for making an unsanctioned kill?"
Bella looked baffled. "How would I know?"
Edward smiled. "You wouldn't. Nor would any other human. We've made a show of killing a couple of vampires for breaking the rules, just to give the humans a sense of comfort. And in those rare cases where a newborn has killed people, we've killed their makers. Unless…"
"Unless their makers were important for some reason. Skilled in a way that is of value to us. Rich. Famous. A member of the family."
"What happens then?" she asked, looking surprised.
"Then we select a fall guy to take the blame and make the sacrifice." Edward shrugged.
"That's awful. Someone innocent dies?"
Edward chuckled. "As innocent as we can be, my love." He ran his fingers through her hair. "The truth is, you could wipe out the entire town of La Push in a bloodthirsty rage, and I'd get some other newborn and their maker to take the fall. Nobody will ever touch either one of us."
Bella studied her mate for a long moment. "That should bother me."
He chuckled. "Does it?"
"On one level."
That wasn't the level that interested him. "But on the other?"
She shook her head, not willing to say it, so Edward brushed a thumb across her nipple, making her moan. "Come on, baby, say it for me."
His lips started a slow treck along her neck and she buried her fingers in his hair and gave him what he wanted. "On the other, it sort of excites me."
He laughed darkly as he nipped at her flesh. "Power. You feel powerful, knowing that you answer to nobody."
"All my life. Charlie. Jacob. My friends. I've always done what they wanted. Now I can do what I want." What we want.
"And what do you want to do, Beauty? Shall we kill an entire town?" If she wanted to, he would do it without a thought. Making her happy, thrilling her, exciting her, was his number one priority for eternity.
Bella snorted out a laugh and shook her head. "No."
Edward felt a slight pang of disappointment, but he wasn't surprised that she wasn't going to go for it. His disappointment didn't last long, though.
"I want you."
And really, there was nothing better than that. "I'm all yours."
"Yes, all mine." And she hauled him in the back seat and made him hers all over again.
"Who knew you found power to be so intoxicating?" Edward asked an hour later as he entered the outskirts of La Push.
"You did," Bella replied, straightening her top.
It was true. She'd spent the past week, when they weren't in bed or feeding, watching Edward interact with his brothers and the rest of the staff at the club. Though there was definite love between Edward and his brothers, it was clear that they also were subservient to him, and what Edward wanted eclipsed anything that they desired. Any order given was fulfilled immediately and without question, even from Emmett, although he and Jasper could get away with talking back to Edward while doing whatever he asked. The rest didn't even attempt it.
"I need to take you to Volterra sooner rather than later." At Bella's blank look, Edward continued. "If you think I'm powerful here, you should see me there."
She had no doubt what that would do to her. Already, she dragged him off at any available opportunity, and she'd nearly come undone when Edward had dealt with an unruly vampire causing trouble in the club one night. He'd been so calm and collected, and yet, with merely a few words, he'd had the troublemaker quaking in his boots. She'd never seen anything sexier.
Edward chuckled at her thoughts. "I'll have to threaten to dismember more people around you, my beauty."
She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, save it for the club, Your Highness." She squeezed his hand as he stopped the car. "Billy's helping us out, and he doesn't have to," she reminded him.
"I'm not going to kill him for siring the son of a bitch," Edward muttered. Though if he could go back in time and kill him before Jacob came along, he'd do it. Bella wouldn't miss that which she'd never known.
Bella shook her head. "That's all I ask."
They got out and headed toward the house that had seen better days. Paint was peeling, some of the wood was rotting away, and the foundation seemed to be sagging.
"Good thing we're indestructible," Edward observed, getting an elbow to the gut as they walked up to the porch. "What? Doesn't the asshole live here? He could fix this place up for his father, couldn't he?" It was an affront to Edward, who would have done anything for his parents if he could have, to think of a son allowing a father to live like this.
"They don't have much money," Bella whispered. "Be polite."
Like I was going to insult him? Give me some credit please.
Bella just smiled at his thoughts and raised a hand to knock on the door. "Billy. We're here."
"Come in," a gruff voice called, accompanied by a squeaking sound that the pair knew was his wheelchair.
Bella pushed open the door, as comfortable here as she'd ever been in her own home, and led her mate down the hallway into a living room that would have had Edward's lip curling in distaste were he not wary of invoking his Bella's wrath. She had a healthy temper that he had no problem igniting when they were alone, but he knew if he did so in front of Billy, there'd be hell to pay.
Billy Black sat in his chair, deep black eyes assessing the pair with no hint of animosity. Bella tugged her hand from Edward's and walked slowly over to the old man when he held out his hands to her. She took them and squeezed them gently.
"Is that all I get?" he asked, a smile breaking out over his face.
Edward heard the happiness in his mate's thoughts that Billy wasn't afraid of her, that he accepted her for whom she now was as she bent and brushed her lips over his cheek. He was nearly as grateful as Bella was that someone from her old life seemed to support her.
"Is that better?" she asked, straightening and beaming down at the man whom she'd always considered a second father, even after she'd dismissed the notion of a future with his son.
"Much. Now introduce me to your boyfriend."
Edward wanted to scoff as such a minor term being applied to him, for he was so much more than a mere boyfriend, but he found himself straightening his posture under that sharp black gaze as Billy wheeled over to where he stood.
"Billy, this is Edward." Bella returned to his side and slipped an arm around his waist. "He's my everything."
That satisfied Edward more than anything else she could have possibly said, and he saw her lips twitch a little in answer to his thrill at her words.
"Edward, this is Billy Black."
"It's an honor to meet you," Edward told him, shaking a hand that was surprisingly strong in such a frail body.
"I'd say the same, but it seems your presence has caused quite a lot of commotion around here."
Edward raised an eyebrow. "I'd apologize, but I wouldn't mean it."
The old man surprised him by tipping back his head and letting out a bark of laughter. "I can see why like him," he told Bella. "You tell it like it is, don't you?"
Edward nodded. "I have no reason not to."
"Good. Keep it that way." Billy rolled over to the wooden coffee table and gestured to the couch. "Please, have a seat."
Bella took the seat closest to him, and Edward sat next to her, sinking into the lumpy sofa without complaint.
Thank you for being nice, Edward.
He smirked. Of course I'll be nice, unless he gives me reason not to be.
Bella gave a slight shake of her head before turning back to Billy. "Thank you for seeing us."
Billy smiled sadly. "Your father and I have been friends for too many years to count, but that doesn't mean that I have to support him when he's being a stubborn jackass." He patted Bella's knee lightly. "I'm sorry to say that he won't listen to me. I've tried but…" He broke off and shrugged. "There are just too many old wounds there. He won't listen to reason."
"Billy, what happened back then? When my mother left?" Her voice broke as she asked the question, and Edward ran a soothing hand over her back. Bella leaned into him and breathed in his scent, finding it calmed her and kept those memories of her father's angry words from stinging too much.
Billy closed his eyes and unknowingly took them both back to the day Charlie showed up at his house, young Bella in tow, half out of his mind because Renee had disappeared. "He was incomprehensible, really." He wasn't exaggerating. Charlie had been filled with panic. She'd left a note, but he couldn't fathom how or why she could leave. He refused to sit and talk about it, just told Billy he had to go after her and asked him to watch Bella.
Billy took them through the scene verbally, with no idea that they saw it in his memories as if they'd been there. Bella had been, but she'd been sent to Jake's room to play, which she'd done hesitantly, knowing her father was upset, but not why, and her questions to him remained unanswered until he'd returned home and fed her his version of the truth.
"He was gone for a week, and you were good as gold." Billy smiled fondly at Bella. "You fit right in here, part of the family. It wasn't a hardship to take care of you. Jacob worshipped the ground you walked on." Billy didn't miss the tensing of Edward's posture at those words, the way that his arm tightened around his mate.
"Don't worry, son. Unlike Charlie, I never thought the kids belonged together. Jake had a crush, and Bella tolerated him." He patted her knee again. "Could have knocked me over with a feather when you actually started dating him, but I knew it wouldn't last."
"You did?" The shock in Bella's voice was obvious.
"You still just tolerated him. Charlie and Jake wore you down until you thought you wanted what they wanted. I hoped in time you'd go after what you were meant to, and it seems that you have."
Bella leaned her head against Edward's shoulder. "I have."
"I'm glad. You don't know how many battles your father and I had over letting you go away to school. He was completely against it, and had you not gotten a scholarship, he'd have made damn sure you stayed in Forks and married my son." Billy shook his head. "Don't get me wrong… I want Jacob to be happy, but I knew your heart wasn't with him. You'd have both been unhappy if you'd gone ahead and gotten married."
"You're right. I didn't know what true happiness was until I laid eyes on Edward. Then everything just clicked into place."
Edward brought her left hand to his lips. "I could say the exact same thing."
Billy smiled fondly at the pair. "That's how it was for my wife and me. That's what I wanted for you. I'm grateful you've found it." His eyes narrowed at Edward. "That's not to say that I won't come after you if you ever hurt her. Vampire or no, I'll find a way to kill you if you give her one moment's unhappiness."
Edward found himself liking the old man and wondering how on earth a fool like Jacob could be his son. "If I do, I'll let you, because hurting Bella is the one thing I'd never let myself do."
The two men held each other's gazes, finding a mutual understanding and respect.
"All right then. You came to get something of Renee's." He turned to Bella. "I'm afraid I don't have much. Your father wanted to erase every memory of her." He shifted and pulled something out of his shirt pocket. "This was all I was able to get of hers to hold on to for you. I had to argue until I was blue in the face." He held out a silver locket.
Bella took it and closed her fingers around it. "I remember this." Her mind filled with images of her mother smiling and laughing, showing her the picture of herself inside. "There was a picture of me as a baby." Her fingers fumbled with the clasp, and Edward, sensing the rising hysteria in his mate, took it from her and flipped it open, fearing she'd destroy it as her anxiety increased.
Sure enough, there was a picture of a baby Bella inside, smiling a wide gummy smile and showing two baby teeth. Something tugged down deep inside him as he looked at that picture, and for the first time in his long life, he wondered what it would be like to have a child of his own, a child with his Bella that looked just like this picture in front of him. He wondered if she regretted the fact that it wasn't possible, but before the thought got very far, she shook her head.
Don't. Don't you dare. You're what I want. The only thing. If I can't have your baby, then I don't want one. Do you understand me?
Edward nodded imperceptibly.
"I told your father that you at least deserved that piece of her and a picture of yourself as a baby. You were a gorgeous child."
"She was." Edward closed the locket gently. "Thank you, Billy. This will help immensely."
"Do you really think you can find her?" he asked.
"I know I can." He would search heaven and earth to give his Bella back her mother.
"Charlie didn't tell me much, just that he found her somewhere up north and that she didn't want to come home. It never made sense to me, but it was the only story I had. It wasn't until several years later, when the world found out about your kind, that he told me what she'd become." His withered old face looked impossibly sad. "The hate had built up inside him for years, and he transferred it to all vampires."
"Yeah, I knew he'd be angry when he found out about Edward and me, but he surprised me with just how upset he was. He hates me now."
"No, no. He hates what you are, but not who you are. He could never hate the real you, and I hope in time, he'll remember that you're not just a vampire; you're his daughter and the girl that we both love beyond words."
She was up and hugging Billy the moment he stopped talking. "I love you, too. Thank you," she whispered over and over while he patted her back softly.
"You're welcome. You let me know if you need anything, and I promise I'll work on your father, if I have to hit him over the head with my useless cane and run him over with this chair. He's not the only stubborn one around here."
Bella laughed softly and kissed his wrinkled cheek. "My money's on you any day."
"I'm a good bet."
"Seems that way," Edward murmured, holding out a hand and shaking Billy's. "It was a pleasure meeting you, and thank you for looking out for my Bella."
"I've been doing it all her life, and I'll continue to do so until I take my last breath. I'll expect you to continue on after that. You have a longer shelf life."
"I can assure you that I will protect her for eternity. Her wants and needs will forever be the only thing that matters to me, even beyond my own. I'll give her the world."
"All I want is you," Bella said, making both men smile.
Billy studied Edward for a long moment. "Then allow me, in her father's stead, to welcome you to the family, such as it is, son.
For the first time in longer than he could remember, the word "son" touched something deep down inside Edward. "Thank you."
"When you find Renee, after, will you tell me what she had to say? I've never understood it. She loved Bella and Charlie so much. It never made sense."
It was the least he could do. He was going to do more than that. The man who loved his Bella, who'd cared for her when her own father had run off and after he'd thrown her away, wouldn't live like this if Edward had any say in it. "We'll be in touch, I promise."
"No, thank you." Edward turned to Bella. "Ready to go, love?"
"Yes." She gave Billy another gentle hug and kiss. "Thanks, Billy, for everything."
"Anytime, sweet girl. You call me soon, and don't be a stranger."
They said their goodbyes and walked to the car hand in hand. Edward opened the door for Bella and brushed her hair away from her face, kissing her softly.
"What was that for?"
"I love you. And I'm glad one of us has a family member that's worth a damn."
She heard what he didn't say, his hatred for Aro coming through loud and clear. "He liked you."
Edward shook off the anger and smiled at her. "Imagine that, huh? I never thought I'd want a father's approval, but his…" He broke off and jerked his right shoulder. "It meant something."
She cupped his cheek. "It meant the world to me, too. The stuff my father said, it was so awful. Even though I sort of understand why he feels the way he does, there was no excuse for it. I'm not my mother, and we don't even know what she was thinking and feeling. Do you think Billy was right? Did she love me as much as he said she did?"
"Of course she did, baby." Edward hugged Bella to him and held her tightly. "Let's go find her, and we can prove it, okay?"
She pulled back, the smile illuminating her face and making her more beautiful than ever. "Okay."