Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, quotes, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners and are simply used under 'fair use'. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. This story is written for the legally recognized adult population. According to the e-mail response I received from them, FF doesn't allow gratuitous descriptions of sex and extensive graphic violence.
Authors Note:Hey guys, hope you're all doing well. You guys know what's going on, this ended up being my most ironically named chapter. So in the months that I've been away my house was destroyed, my things damaged, lost most of my finances trying to fix that, had my fic plagiarized twice, got accused of plagiarizing my own fic ("you took Katherine Alexis Tyler's story", I am Katherine…!), and now I'm working extra and have no idea how I'm going to pay for school. Things are touch and go, but I have not and will not abandon my stories.
I want to send a huge thank you to TWCS and roxy112 for reporting the plagiarized fic. As always my girls awesomella and JustJJ rule my world. ArstyBitch and SapphireEyed-ValkyriePixie made gorgeous banners for this fic, big thanks to them both, you can see them on my blog. Happy Birthday to myimagination2012 for Friday. And I owe a huge amount of love and sincere thanks to my girls from Twitter and the blog Sabah, Mat, Jenny, Tami, Effy, Nicole, Dee, Jiiya, this list goes on forever, the rest of you know who you are, I appreciate everything. Thank you also to cutestkidsmom and evilnat for nominating Dine and Dash on The Lemonade Stand.
71 pages so please forgive any errors that we missed. I will not have a personal laptop from tomorrow and I have to wait to receive one from the company. Thank you, Dee and Tami, for helping me at such short notice!
Dine And Dash
Chapter Fourteen : Our Hidden Storm
"I know you would never do anything to hurt me, and perhaps that's why I feel such guilt. Because I know your heart belongs to me, but mine belongs to someone else." (JoAnne Golden)
I'm stuck in this time warp where everything is going wrong and I'm paralyzed with fear because I can't shake this paranoid feeling that it's going to get progressively worse, soon. Whatever made its presence known outside my front door last night feels like it was just the start…
I force myself to take a breath when my chest closes up in panic; nothing is right. My nightmare seemingly managed to manifest itself outside my dream and I sure as hell feel like I'm living it. All the same fears are swirling inside my body but this time awake…
It's not fun feeling this intense terror for my loved ones and now I desperately want to see them. Jake, Dad, Edward… all of them. I want to keep them safe and in my sight and stop whatever it is that's fucking with my mind.
I'm drained of any energy that had remained since the explosion last night. This wasn't supposed to happen. This is crazy. I'm crazy! On top of everything else there's now JC too…
He didn't even give me any clues that he cared about me in any other way than the rest of the Wolves. Did he think I'd guess it while he hung out with the guys at our areas? How could I!? It's not something I ever expected. Jared was not supposed to fall in love with me. I love him too. God, I'd die for him but it's always been like family, why did this have to get so messed up?
I wish I could stop his pain, I never wanted to hurt him but now he is hurt and he's gone and I don't know if I can bring him back. He's mad at me… and I can't take his anger nor can I accept his love… My head sinks down in defeat. How could I let this happen?
I fist my hair. Then again, I accepted Mike's stupid dare, fell in the lap of Edward Cullen, then I fell in love with him - despite him being my brother's enemy. Why wouldn't this happen? All I do know is that somehow and for some strange reason, Edward and I are bound. We couldn't fight this even if we wanted to, so I'm left to believe that as some sick karmic joke we were meant to be. And even though I love it, the fact remains that we're on two different sides of the coin. I fell in love with the rival gang leader of Jake's gang and that is colossally fucked up of me because they will not understand and it's selfish of me to expect them to, so I won't. I'll have to accept it for what it is, a disaster that fell into my lap that I didn't push away and I have to own up to it because now I have something else looming on the horizon, despite how much my dad tries to deny and play things down to me the truth is someone tried to hurt him last night…
My heart throbs painfully because the only proof I have that I'm still here: still lucid, still breathing - is that fear.
I'm sitting slumped against the cold brick where Jared shoved me. My body seems to be completely drained whereas my mind is spinning, over-thinking absolutely everything. It's still almost like a dreamlike state, I don't really have any control over the thoughts in my head, they make no sense and have no order…it's a random torrent, an evil storm that's churning venom in its waves. It just swirls around in my mind like a movie and I can't seem to make it stop. The pavement looks as inviting as my bed, the fatigue's set in and I really need to sleep.
My head doesn't get that memo though, and it keeps going, thought after thought, fuelling an excruciating headache. I was in a high speed car chase hours after getting out of hospital, while tricked into joining my brothers on an 'errand' where we boosted cars and we got shot at. My boyfriend that always has an otherworldly motive is always one step ahead of me. And by his actions, possessiveness, protectiveness, and persistence, shows me he loves me but didn't actually say he loves me back. And few seconds ago, I was thrown against a wall because my brother did fall in love with me. Oh my fucking God… enough.
A drowsy wave creeps up on me, my mind hazes, swallowing me whole. My lungs literally burn for air as if it's happening and I mentally try to get my head back out the water. I've barely won my struggle against that wave before I'm swept into raging swirl of a cross tide. I'm stuck between two gangs I love no matter how screwed up they both are and neither of them will ever give up the fight against each other. As my body tears between the conflicting waters I slowly feel the numbness taking over. I can no longer distinguish between reality and dream.
Seth hasn't seen my hand as yet, I look down to it and gingerly use my other hand to pull my sleeve over my palm. The bandage is re-soaked in blood and it hurts, so bad.
Mere minutes have passed since my encounter with JC and the sun is creeping up and beginning to paint the sky in wonderful colors… It's kind of funny because the horizon looks gloomy.
Just then, I hear a familiar sound across the street and see Jake pull up. Under the new light I hardly have time to register what's going on before he's out of the car and eyeing me speculatively. I turn toward him, every inch of my body protesting from pain and exhaustion, and start to trudge to him before he can come to me.
Someone's at my side as I get in with Jake. They take the back seat and we pull out quickly. I lean my head back and face the window as I pull on my seatbelt while my wrist protests against the action with blinding pain. I shut my eyes and when I open them again, through the side mirror I see Paul, Sam, and Embry pull up for the others.
"What's up?" The worry in Jake's voice is pulling me out my spinning thoughts.
"Nothing, are you okay?" I answer, turning to face him, only then realizing he was directing the question to the occupant of the back seat.
"Bullshit." Seth both answers Jakes question and dismisses my reply. "JC needs fucking handling."
"What the fuck happened?"
"Nothing," I respond, wanting them both to let it go. I watch Seth closely and he stares back at me for a while before he gives in to my silent begging. If Jake finds out about JC, it's just going to make a bad situation worse.
"Nothing," he answers, his voice icy. "Just pissed, he brought her." Then it's as if he remembers his initial anger from the morning when he first saw me with JC at the beach. "Fuck! What the fuck was he thinking?"
"I'll handle him." Jake responds, his voice like steel, the quasi-leader in him fighting his own anger to calm down Seth. He shoots his wary eyes to me, "You okay?"
"You still haven't answered me."
"I'm fine," he dismisses as if I'm joking. He's doing it to distract me and play things down and I'm so tired of everyone doing that. Do they think it's going to disappear from my memory if they act like it didn't happen? Do they assume I'll think it's my imagination?
Unfortunately, I'm just too tired to call him on it. "Fine?" I can't seem to put any force behind my words by they get across anyway. "Jake, they were shooting at us. How often do you guys go on 'errands' like that?"
He flinches. "Bella, it's not as bad as it looks."
"Not as bad as it looks?" I think my eyes actually try to jump out their sockets, they pop so fast. "Does it look better when they actually shoot us?"
"Bell's, it hardly ever happens like it did this morning."
By his cavalier answer I know he's lying through his teeth, but even though I'm trying to, I can't seem to will my mouth to open. I'm just exhausted. Simply exhausted.
"Bella? Come on, we're home." Someone taps me, but I don't want to wake up. "Bell's? Wake up." Now, I'm closer to waking up and I recognize Jake's voice.
He squeezes my hand lightly, not knowing of the injury below and I stir, quickly pulling it back to me. "I'm up."
I push the door open and walk to the house. "If no one's awake as yet could you grab the note off the fridge, I need to get some sleep."
"Sure," Jake calls back from the car just as I open the window and slip back into my room.
Shoes, socks, clothes on, I fall onto the bed and instantly feel sleep taking over. Then my window opens again.
"Wake up. Now." Jake demands, sliding in. His feet barely touch the ground before he's moving towards the bed, open window forgotten behind him.
"What? What's wrong?" I'm so groggy right now in my head I picture myself as Kermit the frog asking Cookie monster a question… Sleep is my cookie and monster Jake is stealing it. What. The. Fuck?
Jake brings his phone out and holds my face so that the light shines directly into my eyes, he doesn't move it. He looks worried so I hold still, hoping he'll get to my question when he's finished with whatever this is. He doesn't.
"There's blood on my car seat." He tugs my hood down and bunches it in his fist. "Fuck."
I close my eyes, wishing this wasn't happening. My brain slowly crawls through an explanation. Jake's probably more exhausted than I am. Lord, knows how much he had to do last night and this morning before they got to us.
"Uh, uh." He taps my face quickly. "Keep your eyes open. You need to stay awake." I let him check my head, assuming it isn't so bad, until his hand is in front of my face with blood coated fingers. He winces and looks crossed between extremely mad and extremely worried. He rubs his forehead and cusses. "Take the hoodie off, Bells."
"Jake, relax okay. I'm fine." The irony of my words is not lost to me.
He recognizes them as his earlier words to me as well. Neither of us says anything for a while. The air is heavy with a tension that's never existed between us before. My heart breaks as I feel the weight of what's happening, and acknowledge that it's real. The perfectly woven threads of lies that held so much of what we are together is now slowly breaking apart and taking with it the peacefully, childlike illusion that allowed us to exist so easily. Part of me is terrified of what will follow when it's all gone and we're left to face reality.
The apprehension and tiredness in his eyes tells me he can feel it too and he can see it just as clearly as looks at me.
He doesn't say anything and neither do I. Turning away from me, he walks out with the hoodie while I grab some tissue off my nightstand and try to wipe off the access blood from my head. My skin where I made contact with the wall is tender.
I can't blame him for anything. I don't want to hold anything against him. I'm as much to blame as he is.
"Let me help." Jake reenters with his mask perfectly in place, his voice tells me nothing is out of place and that everything that happened is all a part of my imagination. My smile is forced, there's uneasiness in my stomach… what are we doing to each other?
Jake dabs my head with a wet cloth and I sit quietly until he's done. He asks me what happened and I tell him I fell in the airport. He asks where the guys were and I say making sure we didn't get killed. He's pleased with our guys and upset at me for acknowledging what went down this morning simultaneously. He stays quiet after that and I'm okay with that.
He pulls the chair from my worktable and sits beside my bed with a pillow behind his head and his feet next to mine.
I revel in it, a lone moment where it isn't Jake and Bella, teens who constantly screw up… we're Jake and Bella, no complications, the big brother who's always there and the little sister who dotes on him… the two people who've always had each other's back. The way it used to be.
He sleeps there in my room with me, waking me up periodically and watching me for a concussion. Tears wet my pillow, I watch Jake asleep in the chair, send a quick prayer for my dad wherever he really is, and my last lucid thought is that I don't want to lose my family…
When I wake up next it's not because of Jake, he's not in the room anymore. It's just past 10 in the morning and there's pandemonium somewhere in the house. When I get out of the bed I freeze with pain. There isn't an inch of me that doesn't hurt. My cuts burn, my bruises throb, and the back of my head feels like hell. I reach up to touch it and stop with a cry. My wrist hurts so damn much. Where did all of this pain come from? It's like it set in the night.
The yells continue as I slip my hoodie sleeves down to cover up the nasty injuries along my arm and wince again when I mistakenly touch the bandage over my wrist. Following the arguing, I end up in the lounge where Sarah and Jake are.
"She can't go." Jake insists, his temper is not in his control.
"I can't go where?"
They both spin toward me as Sari is about to respond, though one is more agitated than the other.
"You're going to work today?" His voice is not calm even though it sounds it. He's got a front up for Sarah.
"Yeah." Royce's voice in my head makes me remember the text. Bring him as late as you can, Hood. "Later on. Why?"
What he says next clues me in. Things must have finally weighed down and settled in because he's completely off equilibrium; his anger is fuelled by the fear of what could have happened last night. And today that's all he seems to care about. It's making him irrational because he seems to have forgotten that prior to this, he wanted me to go to work so Dad could see the Nell' Ombra like JC had hoped for. That doesn't seem to matter to him anymore though, because Jake's jaw is locked and his vein is ticking in his neck. "Your house blew the fuck up. That's why."
I think Sarah's eyes almost roll out. "Jacob Black! Watch that mouth! Is that how I raised you? Don't you talk to her or any woman like that! It was Charlie, that called this morning—"
This is news to me. Dad called this morning to confirm he'd be taking me to work? After our house blew up? Seriously? What the hell.
Then again, it's not rocket science. If I'm at work he figures I won't go to the house. This is just his attempt to keep me away. He knows me well enough to know that if I'm here I'll find a way to back to Forks and he won't be able to keep me from the house. If I'm at work however I'm obligated not to leave and after my shift I'm straight back home, in La Push… only to repeat the process in the days to come. He's trying to make sure I don't have free time to see the place.
"—the wiring caused the explosion," Sarah goes on, looking between me and Jake, "he checked it himself."
My breathing falters. He's at the house? No! My mind fast tracks to that cursed package and it feels like my heart's going to beat out my chest. I have to see him.
"I need to call dad."
Sarah senses my desperation, "He's on his way here, sweetheart. I wanted you to sleep a little more so I didn't wake you up. But you're up now, go change and I'll make us some breakfast. There's still sometime before he'll show up and you need to eat before taking your medication." Her small smile doesn't meet her eyes. She looks sick and pale, and despite her smiling face, concern overwhelms her exhausted eyes. "How are you feeling?"
I engulf her in my arms. Her body is still burning like it was yesterday and I'm starting to worry.
"Sari, are you okay?"
"Am I okay?" she laughs incredulously and pushes my hair out of my eyes. She doesn't touch the back but the hair rustling makes me antsy and with great effort I keep myself wincing.
It's then that Jake suddenly wears an expression I'm too used to. A head injury after being checked in a hospital? That will be very hard to explain without risking mentioning something about the run. He glances at my head quickly before Sari can see. I move away from her touch.
"I'm okay darling. Just last night… It's finally wearing down on me." She rubs her temple with her left hand, while her right wraps around her waist, "I used to feed you from the time you were this big," holds her hands a short space apart signaling the three year old she carried when its mother couldn't. "I can't stand anything happening to you, Bella." Sari hugs me close again as if she's double checking my presence isn't a part of her imagination. "Last night was scary for me too… the thoughts going through my head when they called home—" she shudders. "How are you feeling? Should I call a doctor?"
Jake is rigid. I know he's stuck between a rock and a hard place. And oh, fuck me. My head? Yeah, it's going to explode.
"I'm fine." I smile at her and Jake's tense shoulders relax. He doesn't make eye contact with me after that. "Did dad say anything else?"
"Just to tell you, everything's fine and he'll see you soon."
It's such bullshit and everyone knows it, yet here we are. They're lying to my face and I'm lying too, pretending that I buy it.
My main and only concern right now is my dad. He thinks he's protecting me by hiding the truth about the explosion. But who's protecting him? Someone made an attempt on his life - not mine - and that someone is still out there waiting for another opportunity for all I know. I was there when the house blew up. I'm already involved, he's my father and his life is in danger. The best defense is knowing the truth. At least then, I have some idea of what we're up against. Don't they see that? Come on! He's my father, if there's a threat on his life, don't I deserve to fucking know?
The fear for him feels like a weight pressing against my throat, and every time they lie to me about it, it only gets tighter. The amount of effort going into keeping me oblivious stresses to me how real this threat is. If it wasn't, dad wouldn't send me away from him.
Ignorance may be bliss, but we're not like the others. I learnt that ignorance is a dangerous thing. Out in the real world, what you know could save or end your life. Know your enemy.
Speaking of, right now, there's a gangster watching me from the couch and he's angry and worried. After the fiasco at home, he's more stressed than ever about me being in danger and evidently to the Wolves, danger to me in any sense would be the Shadow Fangs. I appreciate Jake's concern but I wish he knew there actually wasn't any need for it on that front. If only just for his peace of mind. But that isn't something he needs to hear right now, with everything else that's going on.
"You're not going," Jake says, the second Sarah is out the room.
"Jake, the house didn't catch on fire." I take his hand, hoping he'll hear me out. "It blew up. I know what an explosion is."
"Bells, you're stressing yourself for nothing." He switches on the TV, then turns back to me. "I called the Chief, right after you fell asleep. He said everything is under control. The wires must have set off a spark that started the fire."
It's all becoming infuriating now.
I can see it in his eyes that he's lying. He's not sure about that explanation either but he wants me away as much as my dad does so he goes with it on the surface, wanting me to buy that story and sit tight until they can visit the problem and figure it out themselves.
Jake is waiting around for the 'errand' to be over first. It's pointless calling him on it now though because remorseful Jake from this morning is gone and secretive-gang-one is back in play.
JC's insinuation that dad knows about Nell' Ombra complicates matters. I can't risk him going there without me to check it out.
"If I don't occupy my mind with something all I'm going to spend today doing is thinking about what's happened in the last twenty-four hours and I can't handle that… Jake, I'm going to work today…" I lock my eyes with his and feel the tension building between us again. "Just like how I know you're going to work today too…"
He stares back at me, not backing down and I know he's not going to deny it; he can't because it's true. He's going to go to The Den today because they have to finish the job they started. They're going to get the cars from Smokez, if they haven't already, and work on them before things get too hot on the circuit. Like clockwork, it's what they do… What he'll do before he can make some time to check what went wrong in Forks.
"I don't want anything to happen to you," he says.
My heart constricts tightly. "And I don't want anything to happen to you."
As I walk away to shower, it finally dawns on Jake that the reason I'm going today is him.
When I shower I can't escape the fact that even though I didn't dream about her, Renee had somehow been a black cloud that surrounded and haunted me through my sleep. I don't understand why I can't forget her. Let this go. It had been so easy for her. Why is it so hard for me? She's gone, so easily having left us behind in the cold and I'm still subconsciously torturing myself with riddling dreams and insane questions about her.
When I'm done showering, I put on jeans, a t-shirt and hoodie, pushing the sleeves down over my palms, desperately wanting to cover as much black, blue, and bruised inch of my body.
When I venture back out Jake is in his room with the door shut so I go to the kitchen alone. Sarah wasn't kidding. I'm force fed then medicated well before dad arrives. She watches me demolish the last bite before she lets me leave the table.
When dad's cruiser pulls up, I'm bolting down the drive before he can park. He holds me tight to him like there's no tomorrow when he gets out.
"How are you, kiddo?" He raises a hand to greet Billy over my shoulder and I hear Billy say he'll be down to meet him at the station later.
"I'm amazing. I'm more than amazing!" Happily, I feel his warm heart thump, thump, thump, in his chest against my bruised cheek. "Are you okay?"
He eyes said bruises on my face with worried eyes and fake smile. "Healthy as a horse."
Dad looks freshly showered but his eyes are red with bags under them meaning he hasn't slept.
In my peripheral vision I see Sarah walk onto the porch, closing the door behind her.
"Hi, Charlie," she calls back, wrapping her hand around her waist against the cold, looking between us anxiously as she asks, "Any luck?"
"Still on it, but the worst is over." He shakes his head and smiles down at me but I don't fucking buy it. "Ready to get to work?"
"Sure." I move to the other side.
Billy and Sarah wave us goodbye, and Sari doesn't take her eyes off me until we disappear around the corner of the street.
Heavy seconds tick by, neither dad or I say anything until we're out of La Push. By his face it's easy to see his mind is a million miles away.
I take a huge breath to fill the silence, plastering a smile on. "Whatcha thinking old man?"
Dad looks startled at being addressed, like he'd forgotten I was there. I feel so loved. I snort and he catches my mental sarcasm because he chuckles. There's the icebreaker we needed.
He signals I have his attention, coughing uncertainly. "I'm proud of you, Bells. You know… you do know righ—"
"I know, dad." His fears are quelled with a smile from me, "And I'm proud of you too."
He clears his throat awkwardly and gestures with his free hand that he's got more to say, conveniently avoiding his compliment. "I didn't even realize it," he shakes his head in wonder, "and then, there you were, a teenager. My little girl was gone." He's in wonder, thinking out loud, "You got your first job. You have outstanding grades. You're—just." He doesn't finish, we sit quietly again… "I'm just so proud of you, Bells."
There's guilt and regret layered in his voice and it's covered in a ball of fear and difficult to handle emotions. "It doesn't matter how old I get dad," I emphasize, "I'll always be your little girl, no matter what."
When he smiles his bushy mustache rises up like it's a living breathing creature, practically dancing on his face. "You're the most important thing in my life, I—I don't know if I tell you often enough— I don't tell you often enough… but I love you kid."
Tears cloud my vision, my voice is choked up and it takes some swallowing before I can get the words out.
"I love you too, dad." It comes out as a promise because he's so worried. It's heartbreaking seeing him look so lost, to see him second guess absolutely everything he's done. To see him question himself on how I must see him. He doesn't have to say it, it's all there on his face. "Thank you for sending me to Sarah, dad. I know you did it for me because I needed them in my life at that time." I don't need to mention Renee for her presence to loom over this conversation, "You made all these huge sacrifices for me and I appreciate all of them, I understand all of them, you don't know how proud I am to be your daughter."
It's true and I need him to understand it, I do understand how difficult it was for him, trying to keep his job, work double shifts, fight to save the house, find a way to be both my parents, only to eventually hand me over to his best friends family for long stretches of time so they could offer me what he couldn't; stability.
Our near death experience has scared the life out of him. Everything he says sounds like an apology, an explanation, a goodbye for last night when we would have died with so much left unsaid between us. It scares the shit out of me.
"I'm proud that I have a dad that's always put my happiness first, even when it wasn't what made him happy. You're the best father in the world."
"Bell, I…" Dad lets out a huge breath, his words seem to fail him again. I can't help feeling like he thinks he's failed me. He's defeated…
"I love Billy." This is not a lie. "But he's second. He'll always be second."
This is the most emotional conversation my father and I have ever had, his eyes are red rimmed. I discreetly use my thumb to swipe away the moisture in my ones and I see him do the same to his.
The rest of the journey is quiet but peaceful, the only words we exchange are directions, until dad and I are parked down the street from Nell' Ombra… Talk about coming full fucking circle, I think ruefully when I see the reflection of the cruiser in the window of the ice-cream parlor.
Dad's mood picks up as he swings open his door. "Right, let's go check this place out then."
I swallow bloody hard… fear setting in like a bitch, I can't seem to tear my eyes away from the reflection of the cruiser as I hop out. Looking to the sky I send a silent prayer. Royce, please have my back…
"So that's it." I say pointing down the road, much to his confusion, "Nell' Ombra. Pretty cool, huh?"
Dad does a double take.
My game face is on. I almost have myself fooled into thinking I'm excited about flaunting my criminal workplace to my cop father. What a joke. Adrenaline is apparently like crack. My inner Bella is doing her psycho laugh again… So, fucking scared. Dear, God, please, please let Royce have had enough time…
"Nell' Ombra?" There's too much interest in his voice. His eyes shoot over to where the building is to make sure it's what he heard. "You work there?"
"Yep," I follow his eyes across the area and start walking down toward it. Dad flanks me fast until he becomes the one leading the way.
Oh fuck me. Oh muthafucking fuck me.
"Why'd we park back there?" He asks, turning his head slightly so that he can still keep an eye on the restaurant.
Mask in place, I raise a brow at him and pretend to die, "Dad, I am not showing up at work in a cruiser."
Suddenly I burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?"
Oh shit, what the hell is wrong with me!? I'm doing my psycho laugh out loud. I mentally smack myself, get a grip Bella!
"Nothing." Except you know dad, a cruiser is exactly how I started working here in the first place. Funny, right?
Intelligently I leave that part out and face dad with an amused grin, pretending to play with a mustache as I shoot a look toward his cruiser.
He stares at me then his lip twitches and a loud robust laugh tears out his chest. Man, I thought my cop impersonation was awesome. My fake jovialness is fucking A but on the inside? I'm really starting to believe I'm experiencing a stroke. We begin walking across the street to enter Nell' Ombra's perimeter and dad says something that does nothing to help the situation, after he says it I'm sure I'm having a stroke!
"Hmmm, Bells," he says contemplatively. My skin crawls. "I got a call in, just yesterday, about this place."
My temper flares so fast it takes herculean strength for me to keep it from erupting like a damn volcano.
Three guesses who made that fucking call. I swear to God, if today jeopardizes Jake in any way, I am going to kill Jared.
"What, here?" I laugh, looping my hand through dad's arm. "You're kidding, right? The only thing wrong with this place are the prices." Complaining is a good way to go, it distracts him. I up my game and animatedly I follow up, "But the food is so worth it. It's to die for!" Heck, it's probably going to kill me today. "I'll swipe you something."
Dad snorts even though he doesn't look at all convinced about what he's saying himself. "You're not swiping your old man anything."
"Let's go check it out."
Just like that, I'm brought abruptly to the problem at hand. We're at the door now.
Putting all my faith in Royce to protect the Fangs, I step forward with dad, knowing full well I'm going to do everything in my power to protect Jake as well.
Dad's mind is working overtime as he walks into the building.
My body almost goes into shock when nothing happens. Really, I don't know what I expected? The restaurant to come to a standstill? Everyone to be suspended in time while gaping cause; Whoa, the Chief's in the house? Satan to run around with a flashing sign in front of Charlie reading 'Can you smell the unholy, cop? Can you smell the unholy!?'
It doesn't happen.
Everything is so normal as we step deeper. The waiters keep moving, running back and forth with their orders, the patrons go about their business and it's just a damn restaurant. I know better than to breathe a sigh of relief just yet though. My father is quiet, very quiet and it perturbs me. I have to force myself not to fidget. He scans it from wall to wall.
Stealthily my eyes search for anything that could hint towards the Shadow Fangs.
"So this is it, huh?"
This time I know for sure dad is not sold on this arrangement. Shrugging my shoulders, I point to the fish swimming in the table. "Pretty neat, right? I wait tables over here—"
"Isabella," his firm voice cuts me off. So much for dad being interested in my job then? "Who's the owner? I want to speak to him."
Remember how to breathe, Bella!
"Dad, please don't weird out the people I work with." I succeed at sounding embarrassed, even though it feels like life is literally being sucked from my body.
"I just want to talk to him." Dad assures me. His full blown appearance as a cop does nothing to backup that statement though.
He smells blood.
"About what? Everyone is going to think I'm this snot-nosed-brat, using her dad to brown nose the boss. Do you know how miserable working here is going to be after that?" School-girl whining. Something I've never done, but it comes out perfect given the circumstances. My father looks very confused by the foreign voice flowing out my mouth. I don't give him the opportunity to cut me off. "That's so uncool—"
"Bella, there you are." A man, I swear to God, I've never seen before, says walking up to me.
He's much older than me, tall, tan, with dark hair and dark eyes, dressed in a suit. He smiles at me looking very formal. "I need you to take over Gary's shift."
Sure dude… Gary who?
"Isabella?" Dad prompts me, unwittingly pulling me out my very important musings.
Thankfully, dad doesn't get to complete his question and I don't have to answer because the guy interrupts us.
"Ah," he tilts his head to the side, and holds out his hand to dad, "this one is yours?"
Dad looks from me to him and I wear the biggest damn smile of my life. Yeah, dad… me and this guy have the most amazing relationship, trust me! We're so tight!
"Yes," Dad, puts a hand on my shoulder, "my daughter."
"Chief Swan," the guy smiles like he recognizes him.
Dad looks at me, and my smile is even wider, I probably look bashful with how red my face is. Good thing dad doesn't read minds because by now muthafucker -I'm as confused as my old man is!
"I'm Jason Jenks." New guy smiles. Dad nods at him and I burn his name to memory, "the owner."
What the fuck!?
My jaw drops and I have the brainless urge to smack this guy for his stupidity. Does he want to die?! I search the area quickly, half expecting Edward to hop out and blow this guy's brains out in front of my father.
"You've got an excellent girl here. Isabella is a fine addition to the staff." He's so suave I almost believe I work and interact with him on a regular basis.
Dad looks at me again and I swear this damn smile is about to tear my face in half.
"You're the owner?" Dad presses, and there's no denying it now, Chief Swan is the man standing beside me. My father has left the building.
Jenks asks, his face doesn't falter once. "Haven't you mentioned me, Bella?"
"No—" Um, "no, sir. Nothing like that. I haven't had much chance to talk about work…" Fuck, I hope that didn't sound like a question.
"Yes, I caught the news last night. I'm very sorry. If there's anything I can do please let me know." Damn this guy is good. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine, sir. Looks worse than it is." I tried to do what I could with cover up. It looks better but I couldn't cover the band-aid or actual wounds.
"Good, good… If you feel you're not up to it, just take a break. No rush." He smiles and I nod back at him.
"Good, meeting you Mr. Swan." Jenks makes to leave but Dear Lord… dad has other plans.
"I hope this doesn't come across wrong…" Dad pauses, it's a tactic. "Jenks."
I'm not sure if it's a question or not but if Jenks is perturbed he doesn't let it show.
"Could I see the papers for this place? If you don't mind."
Jenks raises a brow, his stance very business-like, "Not at all. But you understand my right to question why, Chief Swan."
He doesn't seem intimidated for a man who's about to be fucked six ways to Sunday by the law. He's reminding my dad of the law too. My old man's got no warrant.
"Call it paranoia from a recently jolted father." Oh dad is smooth. Way to make me your excuse Chief. Dad catches the side-eye I'm giving him.
Jenks nods, "Sure, of course. Can't fault a man for worrying about his little one." He swings round and calls someone from the bar, "Gary!"
When I see the man that walks toward us it's difficult to stop myself from doing a double take…
Now, Gary, is a sight to behold… very strange looking waiter, how I missed his existence in this place is beyond my comprehension. He's tall, fair skinned, has hair a darker shade of mine, a beard and he's got a gigantic muscle physique like Emmett's, but he carries himself in a very mousey unsure way.
"Mr. J?" Even his voice is timid and he doesn't look at dad or me.
Jenks tosses him a set of keys. "Bring me the blue file."
Gary doesn't even use his voice this time round, he just nods and leaves, heading toward Edward's office.
When I look at Jenks though I get the feeling something is off, it must be my imagination though because when dad begins talking to him he's completely suave.
"Hey Felix," I wave him over when I see him exit the kitchen. I'm kind of relieved that I see him because with all the new faces here today I'm starting to wonder if I woke up in the twilight zone.
Rosalie isn't around, the Fangs aren't here either, there's a guy who claims to know me and be my boss, there's another guy who walked into Edward's office freely… today is not what I expected it to be at all… Then I see Tanya and I'm definitely in reality. She's at the bar and she's staring us down as she robotically wipes a glass, her expression is undecipherable.
"Yes, Bella?" Felix appears and cuts off my view of the evil blonde that's got her stare stuck on dad.
"Hi." I throw him a quick smile and he returns it even though he looks perturbed by all the new marks he sees on my skin. "Can you get me something quick off the menu?"
That apparently was not what he expected me to say next because he looks at me like I've grown a new head. "I can bring you a prepared order and have Marcus make a new one for the customer?" he says darting his eyes down to indicate the tray he's holding. Crock pot Italian beef sandwich, dad's heading back to the station so that's perfect. I could hug him!
"Anytime." He smiles down at me. I appreciate that he doesn't ask me about what happened or remind me of it. He tries to speak to me as he normally would. "Here or to go?"
He nods and disappears to bag it in the kitchen. When I turn back I see that Gary is around again and dad has a blue file in his grasp that sets my heart pounding. Please, I'm begging you… My prayer however is distracted by something I notice; while dad fingers through the paper work Jenks looks weird… like he's putting effort into keeping up his calm pretense but dad's not even looking at him so he has no reason to. I peek into the file and try to decipher if anything if off, it's too quick a glance to really make heads or tails of it - but what I do see is J. Jenks.
Dad looks up and smiles at Mr. Jenks. "Thanks for letting me run through that." Oh my God, dad is serious… those documents were real? Or were they forged remarkably? Who the fuck is Jenks and where is Edward?
"No problem. Find everything you need?" Jenks says, reclaiming the file.
Charlie chuckles, "It's a nice place you got here. Very different."
"We try to keep people interested, the atmosphere attracts a lot of customers." His smile is so genuine it almost fools me too, almost, but I remember how weirded out he was before and I doubt everything I see. He hands the file back to Gary… It's like Jenks is afraid of the waiter? What the hell? "We have a lot of families coming in."
"I had reports of gang activity—" dad intelligently and inconspicuously pauses here to get a spontaneous reaction, when he doesn't he goes on, "around the area."
My mind is working on over-time coming up with a series of ways to deflect attention from the Wolves if it comes up. I don't know who this Jenks guy is, for all I know to push attention away from the Fangs he could try to distract dad with information about his beloved best-friends son, a boy he cares about and has known since birth.
Jenks laughs from his gut, "Gangs, huh?" he shakes his head, "No, we're not that exciting. We have a lot of families, youngsters, some high-rollers that sort of crowd that comes in."
Families? Youngsters? High-rollers? That's one way to put it. All true though.
Dad's about to say something further when a priest walks up to Jenks.
"Sorry to interrupt." He pardons himself, adjusting his collar. He can't be very old, probably in his thirties, dark haired, has a beard and his skin is lightly tanned. "I just wanted to thank you. Everything was wonderful as usual, but I best be off now."
Jesus, forgive me for this… but the vibe I get from him is a lot like the one I get from Gary… It doesn't show on his face because dad is watching but I've got a nagging feeling that Jenks isn't calling the shots… it's like he's controlled by Gary and the priest. These guys remind me of Edward's crowd but I've never seen them before and apparently neither has dad.
"You leave too soon, Father." Jenks chuckles lightly patting the priest's hand when they shake. "Come back soon."
Felix comes up to me and hands me the bag and I'm suddenly wondering if this is still okay. I glance at the two-way-mirror that barricades the office from the bar and Edward's voice resonates in my head, "You can do whatever the fuck you want there."
God, I hope he's safe. Where are you Edward? Who the fuck are Jenks and these other guys?
"I should get going to Bells," Dad says.
What happened to the Great Swan Inquisition?
"Pleasure meeting you, Jason," he extends his hand to Jenks.
"Pleasure was all mine, Chief." Jenks offers back before turning and walking off with Gary.
"See that wasn't so bad?"
Huh? "Yeah," I nod disinterestedly at dad, who's facing me, before I remember to remain cool. "Here, I got you lunch."
"Bell's you didn't have to do that?" Dad's back in play, trying to tide things over because he thinks his behavior embarrassed me.
"Sure I did," I hug him around the waist real quick. "Be careful."
"Always am," He takes the bag from me without further complaint, "Call me as soon as you get to Billy's."
"Dad, why can't I stay with you? I have school tomorrow. It's impossible for you or Jake to drive me to and from school the entire week." Though, Jake would beg to disagree.
My father's mask slips momentarily; I see the anxiousness, its real trepidation. "No, Bell's a motel isn't right for you to be staying in."
Liar. I don't care. I want to stay with you. "Dad, please."
Dad's misunderstands my fear for him for fear for school. "I'll work out something out for school, don't worry. Now you get to work kiddo, I gotta do the same." He sends me one last smile and it's coated in real pride as he sees me standing there about to do my job.
"Love you, dad."
"Love you too, kiddo."
As soon as dad leaves I spin around, desperately needing to get my bearings. Tanya is glaring from where she is, she doesn't appear to have moved. The kitchen door swings open and Rose walks up to me. When Tanya sees this I swear her glare only intensifies, I've never seen so much hate locked in one person before, I'm surprised I'm not bursting into flames.
"Jesus Christ! You look terrible, Bella!"
She's got all the charm Jake works with I see. I want to respond with something funny but before I can she engulfs me in a hug, cautiously not squeezing too tight.
This morning, despite being unable to dream about her because Jake periodically broke my sleep, somehow, I felt Renee surround me. Her presence loomed over me every second in the dark of my room. I could feel her like I used to in the dream. Like she'd followed me out of the nightmare and even here away from home, I still feel it. I hug Rose back gratefully, seeking the reality check her presence provides me with.
"How are you? I tried calling but I got voicemail." She holds me at arm's length, her green eyes tinged with worry and sympathy.
"I'm fine Rose, really, few scratches but dad and I were far enough from the blast."
She nods her head, "That's good. Shit. Do you know what happened?"
Shaking my head slowly in the negative is all I can offer in response. Thinking about it makes me both scared and angry. "Sorry about the voicemail, I was so tired, I switched my phone off." Also my brother was in the room and it would be hard enough explaining a call from your cousin, let alone actually having his phone with me.
"No, that's good," she shakes her head and squeezes my hand, unfortunately she grabs the wrong one and it hurts like a bitch, "I can't even imagine…"
Inconspicuously, I pull my hand back to me. "Honestly, neither can I… It was so unreal… it was so…" scary.
She seems to get it without me having to say it, a small rueful smile graces her model face and she rubs my back. "Tor wanted to see you but she's stuck at the shop, she'll visit you soon though. We're just happy you're fine." She emphasizes 'you're fine' like its future tense. "He hasn't slept since last night. They've been working on it since they got back. Trust me Bella, he's never going to let this go."
"Is he?" No, he can't be here? That's insane. Dad was here.
She nudges her head toward the office, I see James there at the door, holding it open. He sends me a signature smirk but it has touches of what I saw when they came to see me at the house; anger and tiny almost ghost-like traces of concern. We're in no way close though so he hides it well and doesn't dwell on it. "Go on," Rose tells me.
Not needing to be told twice, I send her a smile and head to the office.
"Hey," My voice isn't as completely unsure as it used to be when I speak to him and he seems to notice it too.
"La sirena." James nods in return and smirks. As I walk in, he rolls his eyes and I hear him say in veiled warning, "Let it fucking go."
I can only imagine that he's talking to Tanya. Is that crazy chick still watching me? I forget her soon. My eyes zero in on Edward but I'm very self-conscious when I notice the other occupants of the room. James is behind me closing the door and Jasper is to my side leaning against the wall and blowing smoke. I find it oddly comforting that they're so close to me because Gary is there and he has lost his waiter pretense altogether - timid and mousey are far from the words I'd use to describe him now. Jenks is no longer cool and suave, he looks as uncomfortable as I'd assumed he was. And Royce King is across the room, leaning against the desk with Edward. They're so similar in their naturally menacing and beautiful aura that it's like looking at mirror images of one person. But the one who startles me most however is Emmett, he's in complete gang mode and his angry eyes are stuck on me.
Edward's body language is completely aloof but his almost black eyes dart sharply to Jasper, who must get whatever he's saying, because he mirrors his cousin stance and nods once. Pushing off the wall he swings the door open. Guess I'm not wrong about Emmett's animosity after all…
"Gents," Jasper jabs his head outside. He's cool and uncaring but his gaze sticks to Emmett a little longer than needed. There's a silent threat behind his detached and exaggerated smile that says without words, lets fuck off, shall we. He watches Jenks - who is sweating in waterfalls- leave and raises a brow at Emmett. Muscle-man takes a look toward Edward and reconsiders his decision to stay put. Wisely, he follows Jasper's advice and leaves. "Sit tight," Jasper laughs under his breath when I try to leave too, he sidesteps and blocks my path, tips an imaginary hat, and with a wink he disappears with James - shutting the door behind him.
Royce looks like he's biting back his chuckle. So glad he feels better then? His other nephew beside him sniggers.
Edward walks across the floor until he's in front of me. He holds out his hand and I take it, eagerly seeking the safety he's offering. He holds me until I'm molded into him, "C'mon." He kisses my temple and winks. His signature smirk telling me I have nothing to be bothered about.
He clearly does not see what I see. Rolling his eyes he laughs under his breath and turns, walking us both forward until we're at his desk, too close to Gary for my liking.
"Gary. Bella, my girl." My man of many words introduces us.
The not-so-waiter, grins and gives me an upwards nod. He too is clearly a big talker. Wow, I wish these guys would shut up, they're such parrots… Gary looks to be about Royce's age and with how naturally menacing he appears now I can't believe I ever used the word timid in a sentence about him. Gary is not one to be fucked with and he's really good at hiding it when he wants to.
"Nice catching up kid." He bumps his fist to Edward's and sends a salute with two fingers to Royce before heading out the door. "Anything crops up, drop us a line."
Royce gives him a nod of understanding and Gary slips off his jacket as he walks to the door. Then I see it. Gary turns and as his shirt moves, I catch the metallic gold shine on the skin of his neck, then I see the chain. It's a set of dogtags like Edward's. When he sees me looking at it Gary smirks before leaving.
My train of thought is cut off by a whistle behind me, I spin back and see that I've become the focus of Royce King's green and black eyes. "La tua ragazza sembra fottuto malmenata, bambino, lei non lavora oggi? (Your girl looks fucking roughed up kid, she isn't working today?)"
"No." Edward shakes his head. "Tengo d'occhio lei fino a quando so cosa cazzo sta succedento. (No. Keeping an eye on her until I can figure out what the fuck is going on.)"
"Giusto." Royce nods, "I ragazzi stanno tuttora cercando? (Good. Boys still looking?)"
"Si," Edward finishes off his beer and places the bottle on the table beside him. "James, Jazz, e Caius riprovano cazzo che abbiamo fatto ieri. Forse troveremo qualcosa che Tyler non c'e riuscito. Partiro presto per dare un sguardo al posto. (Yes. James, Jazz, and Caius are running through the shit we went over yesterday. Maybe we'll find something Tyler missed. I'm heading out in a bit to check the place out.)"
Royce chuckles. With his head still lowered Edward's eyes dart to him like a cobra, moving no other part of his body.
"Pensavi che ho cazzeggiato, nipote?" Royce's eyes are intense and serious as he watches Edward, hints of amusement flash in them, then he looks at me, "Vuoi molto bene a lei. E lei, vero? (Thought I was fucking around huh, nephew? You care about her. She's your one, yeah?)" He sniggers.
"Leri sera l'ho potuta perdere. Non c'e cazzo modo che lascio perdere. (I could have lost her last night. There's no motherfucking way I'm letting that go.)" Edward licks his lips and it sounds like he's cussing.
Royce smirks, "Non lasceremo. Ci vediamo a casa mia. (Then we won't. I'll see you back at my place.)" He looks at me, "Ti prendi cura delle cose qui veloce e lasci. Chiaro? (Take care of things here, quick, and head out. Clear?)"
Edward nods his head firmly. "Chiaro. (Clear.)"
"Holding it together nicely, Hood." I think Royce compliments me but his face is neutral. His eyes, like another Italian's I know. Roy sees right through me. "How are you?"
Seeing how I can't bullshit him, I answer honestly. "Keeping it together."
I'm surprised when he smiles. "Mi piace lei, nipote. (I like her, nephew.)" I think Royce looks at me but it happens very fast so it could be my imagination. "Cappuccetto Rosso (Little Red Riding Hood.)"
"Si? (Yeah?)" They both share some hidden joke. "Anche a me, Roy. (Me too, Roy.)"
Watching them interact is different for me than when I saw him at his warehouse. I'm literally looking at the man who's responsible for my Shadow's birth, it's surreal and I'm overwhelmed with how much gratitude I feel towards him.
"Thank you," I butt in without thinking, gaining the attention of them both once again. I'm nervous as hell because not only am I addressing Royce King head on, but it was me that initiated the conversation. I take a big breath. "For what you did today… I—You don't know how much you helped ease my life… Everything is so complicated."
He nods and I appreciate it because he says so much by saying so little. Somehow I get the feeling Royce gets it - he understands what I mean and everything I'm facing mentally after yesterday. It's not hard to see where Edward gets it from. There's so much in common between them, they've got such a strong bond.
"Take it easy, Hood. When you stress you don't see things clearly…" Royce is looking at Edward instead of me, then turns back and sends me a crooked grin. "I need to split. Edward?"
"I'll be there." Edward nods, lighting up a cigarette with little interest.
Royce nods and sends me a cow-boyish one too, his attitude similar to that day in the forest when he pocketed my cigarettes, before he leaves. I find myself giggling because it puts me at ease somehow.
When he's gone, I turn toward Shadow. "You—" I don't get to finish because Edward's tongue assaults my mouth, swallowing my words whole. His lips devour and caress at once, it's an act of desperation but he keeps himself in check, treating my body like it's made of glass. He's careful around my cuts and the scrapes across my cheek. His tongue curls around mine, warm and wet, coaxing it into his mouth. I oblige happily and he growls into the kiss when I bite his lip hard and lick away the sting.
"Edward," I'm panting rapidly.
"Yeah," he breathes against my lips. He pulls away, "Fuck, I'm sorry baby."
Shaking my head, I swallow in lungful's of air not because I can't breathe but because it feels as if I can breathe after such a long time. I want as much as I can get. "No—I just."
"You okay?" He asks, scanning my skin as if the scars offend him.
"Perfect." I wrap my arms around his waist and he lets me hold him.
Enveloped in his broad arms, his scent cocoons me and I feel truly safe… I feel light… I feel alive again. Keep me breathing Shadow… I'm sinking so fast, it's scaring me. Keep me above the water.
My fingers ghost over the light scruff on his face, down his throat, over his heart, to the hard contours of his body till I reach his jeans and curl my fingers through its loops, anchoring myself to him.
He licks his lips and watches me with his head lowered so he catches my gaze. Stray strands of his hair fall into his eyes, and he's never looked so beautiful to me as he does then… a beautiful disaster, the bad guy who just so happens to be good for me.
"Rose said you didn't sleep all night."
"That's what she said, huh?" It doesn't sound like a question, it's a dismissal. He's back in his element now that he's seen me.
"Yes," I fiddle with my thumbs, still keeping my index fingers wound round his belt loops. We're quiet for a bit, he traces the larger of the bruises on my forehead, then something strikes me. "You were here the whole time! The whole fucking time? What if my dad saw you!?"
He smirks with amusement because we're fighting. Again.
"Which is exactly why I wasn't outside the whole fucking time." He bites back using my words sarcastically, grinning crooked and condescending like the usual bastard he is.
Exasperated I let out a sigh, and laugh into his chest, "Shadow, you're going to be the death of me!"
He stances shifts and his eyes are a cold, hard, threatening jade and black. "Death wouldn't fucking dare."
His voice is a soft hiss, but it's so deadly that if I didn't know him like I do now, I'd be running out of here so fast there'd be a Bella shaped whole in the wall. Jesus, help the one who crosses him.
"Sorry," I look away because it's too intense, I can see it hidden in his eyes - yesterday affected him in ways he'd never expected.
"Fuck," he cusses into my hair, his is body taut with frustration. "You don't have anything to be sorry for."
"Who was that guy?"
He lifts me up to his table. It feels good to be off my legs and it feels even better when he stands between them so we're at eye level.
"What guy?" He reaches into back pocket and retrieves a phone like the one I had. Shadow places it on the table beside my inked thigh and jerks his head toward it. "It's programmed."
"Thank you," I thread my fingers through his and squeeze. He rubs circles across my palm with his thumb and I remember the fingerprints JC left on my wrist. Panicking slightly, I remind myself to keep my long sleeves over my palms to be on the safe side. "So who was he?"
"Jenks?" Edward asks, scowling at the series of scrapes on my cheek. "Fuck, babe…"
I give him a shrug which pisses him off some more so I quickly undo it. "Sarah made sure I took some painkillers before I left home." Edward nods in response and I figure he doesn't have much better to offer about Jake's mom. "And yes, him. Who's Jenks?"
Shadow smirks, with mirth in his eyes, "Former owner of Nell' Ombra."
Christ. "He has the papers?" My brows furrow.
"And yet, I own the place?" Edward completes for me, this time thorough amusement in his condescending grin.
He keeps watching me, waiting for me to figure it out. He's so patient until it clicks and then his smirk grows with approval.
I gasp and gape at him, "You let him keep the papers! How much does he owe you?"
"Too much for him to be able to pay back," he replies openly, it doesn't really matter to him. "Nell' Ombra was his bargaining chip. It's either this or he digs himself a grave."
"Wait?" I stutter, "He's paying for protection?"
Edward shakes his head and lights up a cigarette. He lets the smoke out through his teeth before answering, "Yes. Among other shit." He takes another hit. "Jenks owes me big. Fucking champion. He screwed up and pissed off the wrong people all on the same night. I keep them off his ass."
"And he pays off that protection and the money he owes to you at once with Nell' Ombra." This is huge and very illegal. I'm internally shocked. He has every reason to hide it from me yet he doesn't, he says the words out loud as if it's nothing big that he's admitting it to me… I'm overwhelmed for a second by his honesty.
It makes sense that the documents contain Jenks name because even on a forged document, had Edward's name been on it, the liquor license would have come into question. Curiosity getting the better of me, I press on, "Why didn't you put it under your uncle's name?"
He sniggers like I've asked something cute. Resisting the urge to scowl I wait for him to answer after taking another smoke. "As much as possible, Cappuccinetto, we need things to be fucking untraceable. Nothing leads back to us. Documents would be a bitch to deny. Unnecessary bullshit."
I do a face palm in my mind. What a stupid question? Imagine the cops rolling in and seeing documents with Royce's name on it. It must be the meds, they're dumbing me down. "Dumb question, sorry."
He chuckles under his breath, "You're stressed piccola, calm down."
Jenks can't go to the police without being pinned to criminal activities himself. In fact, Edward doesn't even run a risk of Jenks claiming this place as his own because if he had to, there'd go his protection and his ass is well and truly dead. It's surreal how foolproof this is… it's so simple that's it's scary because Edward's so good at being bad naturally… he's genius at it…
I swallow hard. "You're a dick." I don't mean to say it out loud and Edward knows it too because he bursts out laughing at the mild awe in my too breathy voice.
"When did I say I wasn't?" he cocks a teasing brow.
"You're a real dick." I deadpan at his patronizing majesty.
"Really into my dick today, huh, baby?"
I blush six ways to Sunday and he sniggers, tracing the red across my cheek. His gaze shifts to pain when he reaches the bruises beneath the cover up, that I'd managed to cover up because they weren't open wounds. "I'm never going to let anything happen to you, Bella." He promises not taking his eyes away from it. "I don't want the martyr," he calls me on my bullshit, seeing right through the act. He shoves his bandana into the glass of water sitting on his desk and uses his colors to wipe clean my wounds. "I don't need you to be strong for me, ever baby… all I want is you."
His words are so simple but the impact it has on me is enough to obliterate the walls I have up. In a second I feel completely naked and vulnerable and I hate it but the floodgates have broken and there's no stopping the disaster from showing now. I feel it all… feeling truly open… safe… seen. Tears prick my eyes and everything that's happened finally begins to weigh down on me.
I bury myself inside him and he holds me protected and silently in his arms, "I'm so scared, Shadow." I admit, pathetically. "I'm so scared. They're trying to kill him, Edward. I'm sure of it."
He doesn't say anything but I know he can feel my tears as they leak down my cheek and drip onto his skin. He doesn't let me go.
"Everyone keeps telling me it was the wiring. But it wasn't." I'm so tired of not being heard, no one wants to take me seriously. "I swear, it's not my imagination." I clutch him tighter, clawing to get inside him, desperate for him to know I'm not lying, begging him to hear me. "There was an explosion not a spark, or fire, it didn't spread gradually. There was a loud bang," my body shudders as I hear it again in my head. The scream that followed the explosion threatens to escape my lips on instinct. I swallow it back with some effort. "The house shook and I could feel the heat from the flames so fast. I swear, Edward it was an explosion. There's nothing that flammable in the house—"
"Piccola." Edward's in front of me, shushing me, with gentle hands brushing back my hair. "Calm down." He looks me in the eye. "I believe you."
I shake my head, still unsure.
"Look at me," he says forcefully. His jaw is set and his eyes are hard, he never breaks his stare. "I believe you. There's no need to convince me."
When I finally meet his eyes I can see that he's serious and hope flares in the pit of my stomach. I thought I was going crazy!
"Will you take me home?" I fist his hoodie sleeve and feel something other than skin beneath it. I can't tell what it is though.
He shakes his head and before I can interrupt he continues, "Trust me, Bella. I've been on this okay… we can't get to the house just yet, the feds are all over the place. We did a quick run on the streets and came up blank, but I got Forge and Berkshire feeding us info. You're right, someone fucked with the place and I'm going to find out who babe -but there's too much heat on the house for us to get in yet. When there's a window I promise we'll check it out."
"I'm not— "
"Do this for me Bella." Edward's not in the mood to oblige, the firm shake of his head in the negative lets me know it's best not to fucking argue. He's in a generally pissed off mood today. "I'll take you to the house. But you let me check it out first."
What? Edward just told me someone caused my house to explode and it's crawling with police and now he thinks I want him there? "Are you insane?"
He chuckles and cocks a brow, "You've got to stop doubting my sanity."
I shake my head slightly. "It's not safe."
"I've handled feds all my life." He kisses my forehead, "We know what to do. You trust me, yeah?"
He dips his head so he's looking me in the eye and it causes my fingers to slip under his hoodie, I feel a familiar texture on my fingertips.
I furrow my brows but nod in acquiesce to what he's saying. He licks his lips and kisses both eyes.
"Good girl." He says, absentmindedly running his thumbs under my eyes, pushing away the moisture. "I got Waylon and Berkshire still on it." He informs me, it soothes me. He isn't in any more danger than he is on a regular day. "They've been keeping me in the loop with the station."
"Do they know what happened last night?"
"Something I'm never going to let happen again anima gemella." His face is burning with fierce sincerity. It's a threat and promise all in one. "Stay here for today, okay. And don't a thing - I've got you covered," he jabs his head to the window and I see Stef at the bar. "Just go through your shift then go home. You can hang with Rosalie. How are you going home?"
"Family." I say and he nods, for once not saying anything even though I know he wants to.
He wet's his lip and his teeth set together in a barely there sneer. He lights up again, and nods at me. "Call me as soon as you get home, yeah? I'll get you from school tomorrow if you want to check out the place." He tells me as I settle my hands around his neck. He steps further between my legs, and my breath instinctively falters when his dick presses against my pussy through two pairs of denim, he doesn't seem to realize how difficult paying attention is right now because he continues speaking. "Depending on what I find at the house." He looks into my eyes and smirks. He drops his hands to my legs and wrap around his waist, they automatically tighten pulling him closer. He shuts his eyes tightly and cusses a string of profanities. He's holding himself back.
"Muthafuck." His breath fans out across my forehead. He lowers his head to mine, pressing our foreheads together as his crooked finger brings my chin up. Shadow licks a line across my bottom lip, tracing it slowly, and carefully.
He follows the cuts along my arms softly with his fingertips all the way up to the ones on my forehead. "Your body won't handle it, baby." He whispers looking me in the eye to gauge my reaction, and chuckles a little under his breath when my face falls but he's quite serious about what he's saying. He won't give in.
He holds me close and pushes his face into my neck, sucking the skin, while pushing his hand under my hoodie. Lightly touching my tits and circling the taut nipples once, on his way to my heart.
"Soon." He promises coming back up to look me in the eye. "I'm going to fuck you good and hard baby. I need to be inside you." He promises.
My body reacts instinctively and I grind into the thick hardness straining in his jeans to get to me. It's a small movement because my body aches but my head is screaming for a distraction, begging for the mind-numbing bliss his body can provide me with. He growls angrily, not liking that I'm teasing him.
I giggle feeling carefree, the frustration on his face is amusing. I keep rubbing against him and he presses into me so that I'll have enough contact to satisfy me without having to strain myself.
"Stop it." He hisses. He takes a breath to calm himself and cusses under his breath. "Fuck it Bella, your clothes are going to irritate your skin."
His thumb traces small circles between my breasts, over my heart and we stay like that for a while. Neither speaking, our foreheads together and our breaths mixing.
"How are you feeling, Cappuccinetto?"
I feel a smile tug on my lips and I look him in the eye, "Safe…"
He watches me with a torrent of emotions flashing through his eyes and nods once.
I run my fingertips upward slowly under his hoodie, up his abs until and they are met with the feel of gauze. What?
I pull back a little so I can pull his hoodie off. He raises his arms to oblige and then watches me scan his naked torso. I gasp when I see he's taped up on his arm and the left underside of his chest. Transfixed, my fingers trace his ribs, gently over the material. He watches closely with deep concentration, his Adams-apple bobs when he swallows. He takes another heavy hit from his demon stick and looks at me offering no explanation. His sincere 'don't care' attitude tells me he's not hurt but his stance is a forced calm. His fierce eyes betray the storm he's fighting beneath the surface.
He didn't sleep all night… I hear Rosalie's voice remind me in my head. He stayed up, pissed off, worried, and waiting for Waylon to give him some indication as to where he could direct it… Edward wants blood, he's too angry. Nothing can calm him down, not me, not the law, not him.
"You didn't say it back." I whisper to him after a little while, my eyes stay fixed on the gold dog-tags that hang from his neck and rest over his heart.
His attention snaps to me like blinding lightning but nothing else changes. His thumb traces over my heart, and he can feel the pulse as it picks up. He looks at me curiously but doesn't stop his soothing ministration, the circles continue and I'm no longer sure if he's doing it to calm me down or him.
He sniggers condescendingly, "You think I don't love you?"
I'm quiet for a while before softly asking, "Why'd you say 'say it'…?"
He turns my head up to him and smirks down at me, his brow cocks up sharply. "What's the matter, piccola?" He taunts bracing his arms on either side of me on the desk and locking me in. "Scared it's not the same for me?"
When I look away and slide off the table, I feel his eyes on me. He doesn't stop me as I walk away, he waits 'til I get to the door and then he says two words, "Lock it."
I halt at the firmness in his voice. I turn and watch him warily because he's not playing anymore. He says it almost like a dare. I know him better, it's a veiled threat… His eyes are calculating and piercing - if I run I know he's not going to let me go far.
"Lock. It. Isabella." He repeats himself, and I die a little when he uses my full name.
I do what he asks and turn to face him. I want to wring my hands but I can't twist the wrist JC got to this morning. I'm looking - everywhere but him - I can't meet his eyes. I don't need to… right now, what I need to do is not fidget. I cross my arms to prevent their movements.
"I was curious." The way he says it is so deceptively calm that it makes me very uneasy…
"About what?" I'm nervous for the answer because I suspect this is a part of the reason for his mood today aside from the explosion.
His eyes don't leave me, I can feel him on my skin… it's a slow warm burn that leaves me whole and incomplete at once. He watches me closely.
"Why you texted me?" From the way he says it I know it's not actually a question.
"It was late?" Irony, here my statement turns into a question. "Early…in the morning. Didn't want to disturb you. Why, did you want me to call?"
He sniggers, and is quiet for a beat. My heart speeds up knowing he doesn't buy that bullshit. "Figured something was wrong. You know, like you couldn't talk." I cringe inwardly when he says that… I know he knows something is off but he's going to play stupid until I tell him. "Where were you?"
Shit… he knew I texted because I couldn't speak…
"With my brother, I promise I was safe…" I close my eyes, feeling a headache coming on. "I just didn't want to sleep."
I think it clicks in Edward's head immediately because he wears the same expression he wore when he witnessed the aftereffects of my nightmare at his house. I see a million questions swirling in his dark green eyes but we're interrupted when someone pounds on the door.
"Yo, Ed!" James shouts from the other side.
"Yeah." Edward calls placing me on my feet and turning to the door as it opens. His eyes have turned sharp and cold and it's no longer my boyfriend -it's the leader of the Shadow Fangs.
"Forge called in." James strides in, tossing a phone quickly at Edward.
He catches it out the air not bothering to check it.
James continues as Edward brings the phone to his ear, "We got a shot at the crib."
"Caius," Edward pauses absorbing the info he's being fed like a sponge when Caius responds. Whatever the other guy says is good enough for Edward because he nods confirming something silently with James and cuts the call without so much as a 'later' between him and Caius.
"You're going alone?"
"Caius, Laurent, and Tyler are rolling with me." He says distractedly dismissing the concern. "You sit your pretty tight ass here until you have to get home. I'll get you from school tomorrow."
I nod at him and hug him around his waist. "You're gonna be safe baby, the boys got you covered here."
"It's not me I'm worried about."
He smirks and picks me up carefully so that when he stands up I'm eye to eye with him with my legs wrapped around his waist. "I'm right here, anima gemella. Always." He kisses me softly and sets me down to pull on his shirt and jacket. I eye his hoodie and he laughs softly handing it to me. I pull it over my head grateful to the warmth. When my head pokes out he brushes the hair out my eyes. "Take care of my girl for me."
I think he's talking to James but he isn't, James is gone. He's talking to me and it makes me smile… "Watch my boy for me."
Shadow smirks but looks confused by the way I'm looking at him. "What are you thinking?"
I wrap my arms around his neck and he dips his chin down to his chest so I can kiss him. "I kind of fucking love you."
His lips turn up at the corner and he gives me a crooked smile, looking down at me with burning green. "Good, because I've always fucking loved you…"
He presses his lips to mine once, quick, just before he disappears out the door… leaving me standing there with a heart that's beating so violently for him in such a short space of time that it's crazy yet simultaneously makes perfect sense...
I'm highly appreciative of James and Jasper - they remain in the restaurant but go about their business with a guy at the bar - while Rose and I hang out at the tables near the door because I'm having a difficult time breathing. I'm not allowed to work and I'm very grateful for it. I can't see me wiping down any tables or glasses, or twisting open any bottles today because my hand still aches whenever I move it.
My hair flies across my face and irritates my nose making me sneeze. I push it off my face and wait for Rose to get back from the kitchen. I push it over my shoulder and sneeze again; the sudden head jerk does not go over well with the gash I received from the wall this morning. I touch the tender skin that's hidden beneath my hair at the back of my head and wince. Crap that hurt. Damn it JC…
I move my head from side to side testing out what hurts so I can avoid aggravating it. While doing that I end up seeing a girl… she's wagging her finger at the empty seat beside her and… scolding it. What the fuck? Christ JC, how hard did you hit my head against that wall?!
I blink rapidly, rub my eyes and look again but she's still doing it.
Slowly I rise up and walk toward her hoping no one else is seeing this but its apparent some have and they're just as baffled. The couple at the bar eyes her warily from across the restaurant and the people at a table closer to her stare on with amusement. As I get closer I'm amused too because she isn't speaking to herself, she's conversing with a small baby in a carrier placed on the seat.
She looks up and appears startled at first when she notices the eyes on her from around the floor. Her cheeks go a little red and she points to the seat quickly, 'Baby,' she says to the couple at the bar who also appear embarrassed at having been caught staring. She groans realizing her voice can't reach them with the distance and the music in the background and goes about it again.
I laugh unable to hold it and she turns toward me. She's Disney, her short dark hair sticks out in every direction giving her an animated look.
"Sister?" I ask to ease her tension.
She relaxes and shakes her head easily forgetting what happened with a fuck-it attitude that mirrors mine. She strikes me as the not giving a fuck type. I like her already.
"Neighbor," she smirks, "the babysitting comes with a fancy meal on her mom's tab so I came here. I can never afford to eat here again."
I laugh at that. These things are steep.
She looks around, "Not sure that was such a good idea now though."
"Please, a few more shots and they won't even remember you're here." I pass on the astute advice Bree passed down to me when I started here.
She smiles widely, bobbing her head and making her spiky hair fly out again. I only then recognize her as the girl from the hospital.
"I'm Alice," she sticks out her hand.
"Bella. I saw you at the hospital?"
"Shit!" She stares at me wide eyed when it hits her how we've met before and I think for a second she's going to swallow her gum but instead she pops it. "Sorry for adding to your injuries."
"Don't worry about it I was high on meds."
She snorts and grins. I take a seat across from her when she gestures to it. Rose emerges from the kitchen and looks around, I wave to attract her attention and when she spots me she signals me with her hand that she's got a call, so I nod and face Alice who looks pretty fucking grateful for the company.
"Were you visiting?"
"Yeah," she shrugs, watching the baby again as an excuse, "my grandmother got bad."
"It's okay," she shrugs again. "She's been having a hard time, I don't want her suffering ya know?" she looks at me as if trying to see if I really do understand and then she laughs uncomfortably realizing that's some deep info for two strangers. "Anyway! Sorry, totally weird conversation."
"No, it's cool." I add quickly. She clearly needed to get something off her chest, even if it was to a stranger, poor girl. "I'm totally weird, end of."
She returns my grin and laughs right out loud. "Yeah? We're gonna be fucking fun."
"You transfer to a school here?"
"Yeah, Forks High." Alice's stunning huge cartoon looking eyes fill with dread, "I've been in boarding school for so long I don't even remember what public school is like…"
Boarding school? No wonder she's stressed out about being the new kid.
"I'm pretty sure it sucks the same as boarding school. I go there so you'll know at least one person."
Upon hearing that her smile is so brilliant it could swear that's the best news she's had all day and I immediately feel shitty for her.
"You seriously have no idea how fucking much you made my life easier." She cusses often. I think I like this girl, she's cool.
"Relax. Forks High is a joke. Think of the upside, you'll have a ton more freedom here." I wink at her and she grins blowing a bubble through the tiny gaps between her set teeth.
"Not to mention there are guys here."
"No way!" I gasp and start laughing. "All girl's school?!"
She nods making a sour face. "The nearest school with guys in it was about a mile out." Her hair bounces and then goes back to its original spot as she swings back from the baby, it's fascinating. What does she use on her hair? "But we used to sneak out."
I smile back at her just as mischievously. Yeah Alice -you and me- are going to get along just fine. I know that station well. Note where I am.
The baby screams and Alice starts like she's been electrocuted.
"Wow," I watch her pick up the wailing child and try to calm her down but she screams louder, when Alice puts the bottle in her mouth. "Baby girl has some lungs."
Alice bounces the kid on her hip trying to calm her down because this is loud. "Shhh baby. Please sshhh baby." I look around like she does, noticing the eyes that are moving back to us from the nearby tables.
"Maybe I should take her outside." Alice fumbles trying to grab the baby bag and her bottle. It's messy to do while attempting to calm the very distressed baby.
Running after the bottle that falls and rolls away, I shake my head in the negative. "No— it's raining. Does she need to be changed or something?"
She shakes her head, beginning to look as distressed as the baby as she rocks her.
"Shit." I cover my mouth quickly. What a thing to say in front of a baby.
"Wouldn't that be so much easier!" she exclaims.
I'd seriously laugh but the baby 'waah's' and Alice 'whoa's'…starting to really panic. "I should call her mom, she's in a meeting just down the block. She said she won't be long." She checks her watch. "She's fucking long!"
"Yeah, sure." I'm too busy trying to fish her phone out her bag for her to notice that she's moving towards me.
"Can you just—," is all she says before there's a crying bundled up baby in my hands. Oh my God!
My eyes must be the size of saucers because Rosalie honestly fucking trips when she comes out the kitchen and catches sight of me bouncing a baby on my hip while it screams bloody murder. She grips onto the swinging door to steady herself just in time.
"Uh—Alice?" Rocking the baby, I try to get her attention. "Alice!" It works that time.
"I'm sorry." She looks at me, and empties the contents of her bag on the table, finally finding her phone. "I promise I won't be one second!"
Alice starts dialing and Rosalie, who's finally managed to recompose herself, walks over to us. She picks up some stuff that fell to the floor from Alice's bag while watching her hit redial.
I look at the little red faced girl in my hands and feel so bad. Why isn't her mom picking up?! Poor thing is not happy.
Pressing my cheek to her forehead, I hold her close trying to shush her. She isn't soothed by the rocking but being this close to her skin I notice her temperature against my face. She's warm. She's so damn tiny, being sick can't be any kind of fun.
"Poor, baby." She wails some more, her lips set in a plump red-lipped pout. I smile at her, noticing from the corner of my eye that Alice is looking at me like I've lost it… but I haven't, I really haven't. I stick my finger into Alice's water then stick them into baby girl's mouth. She latches onto it instantly and starts gum munching my cold finger. It's slimy and weird but the kid is happy.
"Oh thank, God!" Alice exclaims relieved. She puts the phone down and brushes the baby's tears away. Worriedly touching her skin and noticing the temperature as well.
"What's her name?"
"Tia." Alice checks her temperature with her palm, "What's up with her?"
"She's teething." I dip my fingers in the water again and laugh as the baby bites down on it enthusiastically.
Rosalie gets it, she smiles and grabs some of the stuff on the table and Alice follows her cue. "Let's go to the bar."
We follow her and perch ourselves by the counter, my eyes grow wide when she grabs a bottle. "Rose, great as that seems," because man, could I use a drink, "I don't think babies need expensive whiskey… or any whiskey."
She laughs and hands the Chivas Regal Royal Salute 50 year old bottle to Stef. "They're gone." I think she means Gary and Royce. "Put that in the back and bring out the 21 year."
"Should I still try to call her mom?" Alice asks, taking Tia from me as Rose goes behind the bar and speaks to Tanya.
"No, I think she'll be fine." Rose reappears with a bowl and a spoon.
Seconds later Tanya shows up and dumps some ice into the bowl. She's looking at me when I look up and she's so furious and I have no fucking clue why.
Rose scrapes the ice and feeds the shavings to Tia.
Alice looks both relieved and put out when the baby devours the ice happily. "Her mom did not tell me she was teething. She just said she needs me to watch her for an hour and where to contact her. Some fucking contact number." Pissed off, she shoves her phone into her bag.
"Her mom sucks." Rose coo's at Tia then makes a duck face much to baby's amusement.
She starts to get crabby when Rose pulls out the spoon to scrape the ice again. For some unexplainable reason to stop her from wailing again I start singing. What do I know about singing!? But I do it softly to her. I sing what I heard in my head that helped keep me lucid in the kitchen after the explosion.
Tia stares at me curiously, no longer crying for the spoon from Rose and I smile at her. As Alice hands her to me, over her head I see James and Jasper stride towards Laurent and disappear to the back room. There's a problem and it's a person, I know because I've seen that look on the Wolves faces before when they've had to deal with difficult customers. The three Fangs must be headed to the alley because Jasper sends Rose a sharp nod of his head to tell us we need to move our show to the office. Before he turns away he sends me an exaggerated shocked look and snickers, playing it off with a callous smirk and cold eyes too similar to his cousins before he leaves. I find myself laughing in return and start singing to Tia again when I notice that Tanya has had her eyes on the entire exchange. How the fuck did I offend this girl today?!
"Living child. Nightmares in the garden…" I repeat the lullaby and baby Tia really smiles this time. The girls squeal wildly in response. Rose disappears to get a smaller spoon while she's distracted by the lullaby. I decide against going into the back room because I can't take Alice inside Edward's office and Tia is slowly and tiredly closing her wet eyes. "A garden full of roses. Strawberry kisses. Angel breath whispers, sleep baby, s—"
"Shut the fuck up! Just be fucking quiet!"
Alice and I look up in alarm. Tanya is visibly shaking with her burning gaze on me as she stalks forward. She honestly looks murderous… she's seething. I don't even think she realizes she just blew up at me in front of everyone.
Tia starts to frown. I whisper through my teeth while trying to calm her down by rocking her slowly. "Could you shut up. She's falling asleep." Seriously, what the fuck is her problem? You'd think she'd store away the bitch-claws considering the child in our presence, but we're wrong and Alice quickly takes Tia out my arms when Tanya comes around the counter.
Rose's brows are arched high but as if she's in some sort of trance Tanya pushes aside her fear while Rose is on the other side of the bar.
"And why the fuck should I shut up?"
I swear, couple more seconds and this bitch is going to start frothing at the mouth. Does she not realize how ridiculous this looks? Apparently not.
"I'm not the one that doesn't belong here. You're not wanted." She barks, she means every single word. "Why can't that just fucking sink in?"
"Tanya, back the fuck off." Rosalie appears next me trying to get between but I get in front of her blocking the attempt. She moves to my side and the vindictive and intimidating Rose that was bitching out Waylon at Royce's house makes her appearance known, loud and clear. "You know what E will do to you if you touch her." She looks bored by Tanya and her antics. Her threat is done so effortlessly that it even scares me.
I can't believe it but Psycho blond is so far gone right now that she isn't listening to anything.
It appears all her pent up anger is finally unleashing itself and she's blinded by it.
Whatever Rose sees in me makes her wordlessly let me step closer to Tanya when she starts getting louder.
"I saw the news." Tanya takes in every scratch on my face with scathing hate. "You're house went up in fucking flames but here you are." She laughs with no mirth, her words and smirk bitchy as fuck. She gestures sarcastically around Nell' Ombra.
"You don't know anything," I hiss, keeping my own voice down when I really want to scream my lungs breathless.
"Why won't you stay away?! You have everything in a world far off from here but you can't miss a chance to soak up more attention can you. You're a sick, greedy bitch!"
Her voice turns into a shriek at the end. Tia's ears must hurt from the sound because she wakes up and bursts into tears. Alice begins her attempts to calm her down again, bouncing her on her hip.
"You know what I thought when I saw it?" She's stepping closer, goading me. Her face is void of any emotion as she speaks hateful words of a hellion bitch. "It would have been so fucking perfect if only the rest of your fucking family was in there to blow up with your miserable father and y—"
My fist connects with her face and she screams in pain, recoiling fast from me.
Every single thing I've been holding back since last night unleashes itself at once on the bitch in front of me. A release of control, a release of pretenses and false assurances that I'm fucking okay… I'm not okay and she fucking isn't going to be either.
Her hands come up to cup her nose, and then she's flying at me like a banshee, with blood dripping down into her mouth in a waterfall and staining her teeth. She goes straight for my neck. I grip her hair and pull fucking hard.
I'm not in control of my body and neither is she of hers because she has no choice but to follow me or her hair's getting ripped out in fucking chunks.
She's walking backwards but in my anger-blinded haste I don't fucking care. I care about absolutely fucking nothing. It's only when the cold hits me that I realize we're outside, far away from where Tia can be bothered by us, and I let the psycho bitch go.
"Understand that I am just humoring you. Born and raised by Wolves bitch, say one more fucking word against my family and I will lay your bulimic ass out."
Tanya screams and lunges at me. I sidestep quickly so I can swing around and lock her head in my good arm. My body aches but I'm too fucking pissed off to care.
I can hear James and Jasper speaking to Rosalie at the door, but they don't move toward us. Instead they lean against the wall and block Rosalie's way, letting me have this fight.
I remember the explosion and the fear that ran through me when I thought I was going to lose my dad, and then I hear her words in my head. Below the belt. Way below the belt. The image she painted of my entire family being in there, suffering in those agonizing flames… fucking dying, hits me so hard and I hit her hard too, choking the bitch. There's so much anger in me it's like everything is happening in a bubble and I'm watching from the outside. She screams from pain when I tighten my hold and I hiss into her ear, meaning every single word I say.
"One fucking word out your slut mouth about my fucking family ever again and I really hope you have a good relationship with Jesus bitch because you're gonna fucking meet him." It's an oath. I throw her to the ground and she lands painfully at my feet, bracing herself with her hands to stop her face from colliding with the tarmac.
She remains where she is. Her mouth open and her eyes unblinking. And I'm the same, I remain standing over her, panting heavily. We're both in shock… adrenaline pumping wildly in us.
As my anger subsides, hers roars to life.
She's snaps out of her trance first and I see her scramble quickly to grab something from the ground. It's a bottle. Her hands are shaking so badly with anger though I'm surprised it stays in her grasp. She slams it to the floor by the neck and holds the broken shard up to me.
"Bitch seriously?" I cock an unimpressed brow, watching her get up. "You're going to stab me? Haven't you figured it out by now? I can take you on my fucking worst day." My body aches, and I'm exhausted from the exertion. Case and fucking point.
She bares her teeth at me in all her blood faced glory and throws her hand forward, elbow bent. The glass shimmers from the light as it moves at me. I'm about to grab her wrist but James and Jasper cut her off so fast it's insane. Jasper's body has lost its cool manner and drips with disturbing menace that visible on his face. An even scarier looking James is slowly advancing on Tanya.
Seeing them in their colors seems to snap her out of the harpy trance she's been in because she looks at the Fangs with pure, unadulterated fear, a look I've only ever seen her wear once before after she bitched me out in Edward's office.
"The fuck you think, Tan?" James laughs, there's no humor behind it. I suspect he's not excited about having her try to sneak up the second they had shit to take care of. "We'd leave her alone?"
Jasper sniggers appreciating the humor. "How far did you think we were?" Tanya doesn't answer but Jasper wasn't really interested in the answer. "Get her pretty mug the fuck out of here Laurent, I think that's enough schooling for one day."
Dreadlocks doesn't have to do much. With her stare raptly fixed on the two Fangs between us, Tanya takes a step back from me, then another, and another.
"Clean yourself up Tanya. You look like fucking shit." I hear Rose say from far off.
"La sirena." Jasper mutters. He and James turn back to me with a lazy smirk. A shiver runs down my spine because they're still in gang mode. Impish mischief plays in their eyes like it did when I got my ink done for their boy. "Feeling better?" he whistles.
Rosalie joins us, standing at my side with her arms folded and small smirk playing on her lips that makes her look so much like her cousins.
I respond to the three honestly, because I suddenly have tremendously less pain in my mind. "Loads…"
Rach showed up to pick me up from work and I'm currently waiting for her in the car outside the 7-Eleven while she picks up some tampons. I'm staying at her place so that I can get to school tomorrow. I tried calling dad to find out how he is but the line is busy. So is Jake's… I tried calling him to let him know he's in the clear with Charlie about his involvement with the Wolves but I think he's still upset with me, because after my second attempt to call, he switched his phone off completely…
"Are you okay?" Rach asks slipping back into the car. She drops her tampons on my lap and starts the car.
"I'm great. What's all the stuff in the back?"
She groans, "I spent all of today helping Mrs. Claus pack and move stuff for Goodwill. That woman has accumulated a lot over the years. I was there since 6am -no fucking lie."
"I would my little Wolfy wonder but you look pretty fucked already." She sniggers when I flip her the bird. "Kidding babydoll. But yeah, how are you feeling? Those things don't look any better than they did yesterday, at least it's scabbing nicely though."
I stretch out my arm reflexively, "You know how when you work out and you feel okay but then you go to sleep and it's like the ache in your muscles sets through the night and when you wake up the next morning you hurt everywhere?"
"It's like that." I lean my head back against the seat. The scab that's formed there irritates my scalp, it feels uncomfortable whenever my hair moves. I adjust my hoodie and sit at the right angle so it's no longer touching the seat.
"I wish it didn't happen…" Rach's whisper prompts me to look at her and I immediately regret opening my mouth because her eyes are brimmed with tears as she stares at the road.
"Fuck. I'm okay Rach," We reach a light and she reaches across and hugs me softly because she doesn't know which parts of me are injured. I snort. "You're just pissed 'cause your life size Barbie got damaged."
She laughs and snorts out her nose. "Puh-lease no one can damage my barbie. We did too much work on you when you were younger. Our handiwork is undamagable."
"Undamagable?" My brow cocks itself, I'm so confused.
Rach shrugs straight-faced, a moment passes and we're quiet, then we make eye contact and erupt in psycho giggles.
"Let's get home fast, I'm starving." Rach chews her lip contemplatively as we zip through the traffic and then she wiggles in her seat to get her hand in her pocket, and tosses me her phone.
She doesn't have to tell me anything. We laugh silently as I order a pizza because if Rachel's cooking doesn't kill us, mine will.
She snorts "Imagine surviving the house only to succumb to my culinary skills the next day… talk about tragedy."
We laugh so hard we're crying by the time she pulls up to her apartment building.
I stuff her tampons into my hoodie and grab one of the boxes for her when she opens the backseat.
The thing weighs a ton! My hand throbs but I keep it together, stupid fucking wrist. "Fuck Rach, what breed of obese midget did you kill?"
She laughs then heaves like I am when she lifts hers. It's no laughing matter. Shutting the door with her ass, she leans against the car trying to balance the big box and catch her breath.
"Damn, you arrrre a bitch." She curses the brown cardboard pirate style.
We struggle up the stairs and drop the boxes with breathless relief outside her door. Her neighbor is dueling in a very loud game of Assassins Creed, but the boxes are loud when they hit the ground so he still hears it through his open door. We wave when he sees us. He waves back then returns to his game and bitches out his TV because he's being attacked by a guard.
"I thought you said she was taking stuff to fucking Goodwill?" I gripe.
She nods and sucks in a deep breath. "She did." She says still breathless, she pants and goes on. "But I'm a strong believer that charity starts at home - and this is mine." She jabs her head at the door.
I double over laughing with her. Then Rach tosses me her keys, panting heavily. I don't blame her as I eye the boxes, these bitches left us winded.
"Shove these inside for me, I'm gonna go grab the last one." She heads back to the stairs.
"That one is huge, let me drop these inside and I'll come down and help you out Rach."
She nods making her ponytail bounce as she walks down the flight like the living dead.
I open the door, and attempt to shove one box in with my foot while carrying the other but I fail, toppling both when I see figures inside.
"Aah!" My scream comes out sounding like a bleating goat. "What the hell!"
Jake and Paul swing their heads around and laugh at me robustly. They are surrounded by smoke and they look so far from right… it's like they're high but it's different?
"Hey, Paul." I look at him weird. Why does he look like that? "What are you guys doing?"
"Relaxing." Paul answers again.
Jake isn't speaking… Paul notices my face fall and follows my eyes to Jake. I think he kicks him but I'm not sure. Jake still doesn't talk, he starts trying to move some stuff from the small table but I can't see what it is with the couch blocking.
"You're so banged up, Bell." Paul's mood does a 180, attracting my attention again because he's very angry. Did he not see the marks when I walked in? He's looking at it as if he's just noticed them. He hasn't seen me since the incident at the house though so I ignore it. "I'm going to fucking kill them. All of them."
Whoa! "Who?" I ask with my hands up.
"Anyone little sister." Paul growls, his eyes wide and wild, he's alert but he doesn't look it, he looks sleepy. What's going on? "Your electrician. Your power guy. Fucking anyone responsible. Look at you sis!" he insists. "Look at her Jake! She's torn up. She bled."
Paul is furious. His words affect Jake in some way because his jaw clenches but he still doesn't speak to me and I don't like the silent treatment.
"Why aren't you talking to me?"
"I'm not, not talking to you." Jake is articulate today? "We're talking now."
"Yeah but you weren't saying anything before."
"Why would I say anything? You're a big girl now sis. You can make your own decisions." His tone and insinuation cuts me to the bone…
My heart pounds against my ribcage. "I had to go, Jake. I didn't want dad to find out about you and the Wolves. He didn't by the way."
Jakes abnormal looking eyes shoot to me sharply, "I don't care! Let him find out! I just don't want you there anymore. Don't you get it! I've looked out for you all your fucking life and look at you," he glares at my scarred body with a mixture of horror and terror, "my kid sister is fucked up! Do you know what it's like knowing you're in danger, that I fucked up as your brother? And after that you think I want you anywhere near a rival gang? I'm fucking paranoid now! I almost had a fucking heart attack last night when I got that call from them in the hospital. And this morning I had to watch you cry in your sleep because you were in so much fucking pain and scared out your fucking mind. You didn't even let go of my hand! Do you even know that? You cried in your sleep from pain the entire time! In your fucking sleep!"
His words are slurring and his eyes are drooping but he's so angry and he cares so much. I can't do this to him, my eyes well up. I can't do this to him.
"Jake," I try explain that I have the same fears for his life as he does for mine. That's why I had to go...for him and for Charlie because I had wanted to see the house if I had the chance. But he's not listening to me.
"Not once have you gone against something I've said. Not once." He shakes his head and turns around, resting his head against the couch like Paul is. "But you're old enough to make your own decisions now. You decide," he scoffs, "that you want to go and big brother has no say. What the fuck do I know? It's not like I should be the one looking out for you because that's my job. No, my kid sister is grown. So fucking grown that she wakes up one day and decides she wants to go out and protect me. You always listen, Bella. Always. What the fuck is going on? Nothing is right. The house is going up. Charlie is God knows where. I don't order you around but when I used to tell you stuff, you used to listen. What the fuck. It's not right. It's not—" His voice slurs so much that I can't catch the rest.
My feet move rapidly forward, "Jake, I'm sorry." I sob into my sleeve. "I'm so sorry. I didn't—"
"Quit." He says one word like that's all he can manage and I don't know if he means my apologies or my job. My feet freeze in place. I can't lie to him. I can't put him through this. He needs to know I'm not in any danger.
But I'm not focused on that solely anymore because Jake and Paul are seriously high as a kite, like really high as a kite and I don't know why it irks me more than usual - but it does. Something isn't right with them. Jake callously turns away from me again to rest his head, dismissing me completely like nothing I have to say is important because he's spoken and that's that. I'm suddenly angry because this is bullshit. He's taking some other frustration out on me, something that I suspect has nothing to do with me at all.
I'm done. I know it. Anyone who knows me can see it too. I won't back down, it's not a request. "Give me something real."
The reply is harsh, biting and deadly, intended to silence, intended to second guess, "Real like fucking what, Bella?"
I don't flinch. I don't care, fuck it all. We're all bullshit. My look matches the voice, meeting it head on -venomous and unyielding. "The fucking truth."
"Bella, get your ass to bed, you have school tomorrow." Jake dismisses me, from his eyes alone I can tell he's going to give me nothing.
It feels like the room is spinning. Rage boils up in my body and my hands fist at my sides. I'm incapable of speaking for a long moment. The fog from their chain smoking is heavy in the air, it fills my lungs with every angry heavy breath I pull in. Seconds tick to minutes and Jake still doesn't say anything. Something in me finally snaps the fuck off. I walk forward and see Jake falling asleep. Paul is already out cold.
But I have to do this now, I can't wait anymore. I go up and tap Jakes face, he opens his groggy eyes but they threaten to close again. "Fine lie to my fucking face. I'll buy it Jake." He still doesn't answer me, he doesn't see me cry because he's lowered his head to his chest. "I'll buy all of it, if it makes you feel any better. But I won't be a part of it. I'm done with this bullshit. So I'll be honest with you brother because I really can't see you upset. I appreciate everything you've done for me. Every single thing. And I care about you just as much. I don't want you to get hurt either! Why would I? Jake, we're family, and when you're in danger it affects me too! Just as strongly! And I don't like you worried either… and I don't want to add to it. So here, I'll be fucking honest on behalf of the both of us. You don't have to worry about me at the restaurant because the Shadow Fangs won't hurt me," I take a huge shaky breath, strengthening my resolve because I'm now shit fucking scared. "Because Ed— Cullen won't let them… he really won't." I'm feeling unshakable fear as I speak the words that could change everything, "I don't think he's so bad. Jake, in fact I'm sure of it because… I'm dating him."
Jake grunts and I realize he's asleep. I go to tap him awake again because I have to tell him this tonight but a voice explodes from a completely different direction.
"What. The. Fuck!?"
I look up to the door quickly, Rach drops the box she's brought up on the others… but it's not the weight she pissed with right now.
"Isabella, the fuck!" She's using my full name and standing there wide eyed and fucking furious. "Get in the fucking room."
She doesn't even pause, she stalks forward and grabs my hand pushing me behind her - which is weird because her room is the other way - but makes sure I stay behind her as we walk, keeping me there until we're closer to her room when she sees the guys passed out on the couch. The relief on her face is immense. Rachel was scared?
She shoves me into the room and as she closes the door, from the new angle I see what Jake must have been pushing off the table. I see a couple of things but I don't have time to think about it. Rach slides open the window to the fire-escape, grabs Jake and Paul's jackets from her dresser, and climbs out, closing the window behind her when we're outside.
"Bella, Jake is not in that gang alone!" She explodes, desperate and crazed, like she'll slap me if that's what it takes for me to listen. It's cold out now and I left Edward's hoodie with Rosalie because it was messed with Tanya's blood. Rach shoves Jake's jacket in my hand and puts on Paul's one. "That is a gang, Bella! They will kill you! Even if it's not literally, you will not like the outcome."
I shake my head. What? "No matter how angry Jake is he would never—"
"You've never seen him angry, Bella!" She yells sitting on a step. I follow her cue. The metal is cold under my ass. "He's never showed you that side! He keeps you far away from real Wolf dealings so that you don't see him like that. You've never seen him pissed. You've never pissed him off either because you always do as told! Bella, trust me," she grabs my hand and holds onto it, swinging around to face me, "do not under any circumstances open your mouth about that fucking again."
I pull my hand back, "I don't want to lie to Jake."
She breathes out in disbelief, throwing both hands in her hair and opening her ponytail. "Then leave Edward!"
"Rach, he's important. I can't explain it right."
Rach really doesn't seem interested in fighting me. She's back to her original issue. "Bella, swear to me that you will never try a stunt like tonight again. Swear it."
I take her hand in mine this time. "Rach, Jake—"
She must see where I'm going because she cuts me off angrily again. "He may be your brother Bella, but don't forget he's my cousin. And there are more eyes on the Wolves than just our boys. They will crush you and you will never have any freedom again. You can't go announcing shit like that on your fucking own."
"He's worried for nothing Rach... You should have seen him in there." She shuts her mouth tightly, biting her tongue. "Rach, I do not want to lie to him."
"He lies to you every day, Bella. They all do! To all of us! It's just how it is Bella, we're not like everyone else. And it's that way for a reason babe. Be smart Bella, we can't tell each other everything. We hide things from each other for a very good reason." She says meaningfully. "Did you tell Edward you're going to tell Jake?"
Fuck. I shake my head.
"Fucking hell, Bella. You want to tell Jake, then you make fucking sure Edward is right there with you. Do you understand me?" Rach isn't playing and her fear makes everything clearer to me too. I should be scared to.
"What if he finds out?"
"Then we lie through our teeth." She doesn't even think about it. Her answer is determined and she makes sure I'm getting her loud and clear. "We say anything we have to. Just like they do. Besides, Edward isn't sloppy. If Jake has to find out he'll make sure he's there to take the brunt." She's so nervous she's thinking out loud.
"This is messed up."
"We're all messed up." She scoffs.
I look at her closely for a spell and she knows what I'm doing because she looks away. "Wait. I don't get it tho'. Why are you so... neutral about the Edward thing...shouldn't you be breathing fucking fire?"
Rach's leg bounces up and down and she shakes her head from side to side in the negative, turning to look at me. "How long have I known you Bella? I know you're not an idiot. This is serious for you. God, you went to tell Jake! You're in this thing deep."
She breathes out and huffs repeatedly fishing out cigarettes she stole from Paul's jacket. She looks down but starts speaking to me with her hair blowing in her face, it's to keep a barrier between us so she can pretend she didn't actually say anything to me. She's slower when starts speaking now.
"Last night, in the blink of eye, your entire life could have ended. That's how it is every day for us. We've got to live… And if I say no, it's not going to matter. You'll find a way to sneak around with him anyway and I won't able to look out for you. I went against my parents… moved out, to be with Paul. I'd be such a hypocrite…"
She shakes her head and screams to relieve her tension. Her voice carries through the night. "I don't want you to do what I did… I didn't see them for so long afterward… and we're just never going to be the same even though we speak now…"
I take her hand, "I'm sorry Rach." She squeezes mine back and smiles shaking her head.
"There's no win. But you want him. So I'm telling you this is your lesser of two evil options."
I don't say anything. I look at the cars passing by below. I follow the lights across the street.
"You've been around the gang more than we have," she laughs. "Honestly, it took you this long to get involved with a bad boy."
Rachel means what she's saying but there's also an act behind it. I gasp when I realize what's going on behind her humor… "Oh, my fucking god! You like him don't you!?"
"Don't be fucking ridiculous, Bella!" She shouts then lowers her voice. "The fumes must have fucked with your head. I do not like him."
"Then why no fight for me to end it with him? It can't just be faith in my sense, Rach."
She growls, ignited with frustration. "I used to know him when he was friends with the Wolves."
Excuse me? What?!
Her eyes grow too big with alarm for her small face. "Shit. Fuck. Fuck!"
"Rach, repeat that?"
She shakes her head but I grab her hand to stop her from leaving. She looks between me and the window panicking, "Bella, I shouldn't."
"Tell me! Rach, please. I'm so sick of being lied to. At least you don't do it to me!" If this is true, then this is a lie I was fed for years.
"Oh, Bella. Don't look at me like that. I'm not like—" she groans and sits back down pushing her head between her legs and breathing. I think I gave her panic attack. Shit! I rub her back and when she's ready she straightens up after a moment and there's regret and passiveness painted all over her features. All traits that are just not Rachel. "They knew him, okay. And there was a fallout…and it's been bad ever since."
"Knew him how?" I press, grabbing her cigarettes and lighting up. It's getting colder outside, the frigid temperature is numbing my cheeks.
"It was a long time ago, Bella. It doesn't even matter." Her face tells me it matters, to her it does. "The Grey Wolves were just coming up and so were the Shadow Fangs. They weren't even fully established yet, so you know; with numbers came strength…" She's reluctant to go on again. A moment passes and I don't know what she thinks of but it makes her continue. "They were meant to pull a job together, a big one."
"Meant to?" What went wrong?
She nods, reading my mind. "Meant to. Things didn't go as planned…"
"They got caught?" Jake was never arrested,was he? I'd remember something like that.
I don't like the sound of her voice when she continues. "The Shadow Fangs did." She turns to face me, her face imploring me to understand what she's saying. "The boys, our boys, set them up to take the fall."
What? No! I don't realize I've actually said the words until she responds to it by nodding her head and taking the cigarette from me.
She takes a long drag. "They were supposed to use the money they were getting to buy off this building in Forks. They were supposed to be partners and open a garage up, but that was about the same time Sam was trying to get The Den."
"So they took the money and the Shadow Fangs were out of the way because they got the heat for it...?" My stomach turns and Rach's expression tells me my guess is accurate.
"Cullen's cousin got time for it. Juvi."
I shut my eyes tightly. Oh my fucking God… Jasper.
"But what the boys weren't counting on was that the others would manage to get away… Or that Edward would get rid of R-fucking-D and get the territory. The feud between them was on ever since and it's very dangerous. They hate each other." She says emphatically.
"This is—I mean… No… Really? What the fuck?"
"I want to meet him."
"Edward." She says meaning business, "I want to see him or I'm not helping you."
I nod but she still doesn't make sense. "Rach, you just told me how badly our boys hate them and how fucking pissed they are at our side… Why do you trust him?"
She takes a breath, followed by a long pull from the cigarette and looks out at the twinkling lights in the cold night. "Because Edward saved me once. From a guy outside my job at Call-A-Bargain… and that was after the fallout. I didn't even really know him but he did it even though I was Paul's girlfriend. Edward is not a saint but he's no more a sinner than our guys."
Edward didn't tell me any of that. Then I hear his voice in my head all of the times when he insinuated I didn't know as much about them as I thought I did. But why didn't he just tell me. He's always honest with me. I bite down on my fist to stop my gasp. He didn't want to ruin the image I have of my world for me even though he hates Jake.
"We've got immeasurably fucked up lives Bella. It isn't fair but it is what it is, and it's what we've got to work with. Jacob is in this and he can't get out. None of them can. Even us. They play their parts and they stay at the forefront of power in La Push because if they don't Bella, this shit is real, they'll be dead and opening a way for another gang faster than any of us can comprehend." She isn't lying. This is a cold reality that I know for sure. Be the baddest or fall off. "But the truth is for this to happen, they're the baddest in La Push. And Bella, the good and the bad... we're family." Now that I know the truth Rach is reminding me there's no walking away from that. It's true. I nod at her and we wake up. It's cold as a witch's tit outside. It's probably going to snow soon.
"Hmm." She says sliding the window open.
I tug on Paul's jacket, so she turns around. "Thank you."
She looks at me baffled and laughs quietly. "For what?"
I stuff my hand into Jakes jacket to keep warm and feel something in his pocket. I pull it out and smile at her. "Telling me the truth."
She sobers immediately and nods at me. "You're welcome… But Bella promise me…"
Her voice drowns out in my mind when I see the tiny packet in my hand and the white residue in the bottom corners. I fist it in my palm not giving a fuck that it's the one JC hurt and it hurts like hell. My head rapidly starts making sense of what I saw… Jake's irritable behavior, his depressed and random rambling, and his tiredness… He wasn't high… Jake was crashing… The coke wore off.
"There's a lot you don't know, Bella." Rach repeats with meaning, watching the reality dawn on me. This time I believe her and hear what she's really saying. Through my eyes she can see it dawning on me. "We know who they are but don't forget what they are. He's a good brother, they are, but they are bad gangsters just like the Shadow Fangs. Bella, promise me you won't tell them anything, and that you won't try anything stupid by yourself like that again?"
I look her in the eyes and see the seriousness in them… coupled with the fear... as she waits for me to promise, and this time I have no idea what to say...?
~.~.~ Thank you for reading. Share your thoughts, love or hate. Hope all of you are well xoxo Kat;)~.~.~
Prompt Status CH14: Full chapter posted here.
Authors Note: Again, if we missed any errors please forgive me for this chap, it was rushed because I had to hand in my personal laptop. Mentioned at the start that answers will come as the plot allows or the fic will be over in one chapter, this chap offered some of them, and there'll be more to come, I promise;) Chap 15 will have more of the nice stuff for you, I'll let you know on Twitter when the teaser is up (atKittyTylz), I won't have a laptop for a while sorry. Dine and Dash was nominated on The Lemonade Stand with a whole host of brilliant stories, thank you, it made my year, the site is amazing so be sure to browse and show them love.
I was asked for fic recs while I was on hiatus so here's some I love: Flirting With Death by PunkPrincessPixie, Possessward/Hoboward/Gangward/Inkward/Inkella, it's got all things sexy and it knocked my socks off, and You Took It All Away by DullyBeautiful04, Darkward/Mobward/Reformward/Brokenella, by the last chap I was breathless. Two fantastic stories from two fantastic authors. Be warned though, both have dark themes (different ones) at some point or the other, but they are brilliant. Enjoy your week, take care and be safe, much love, Katie;)