CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN
As soon as we were outside of the Volturi headquarters and half way down a neighbouring street, I collapsed against Edward. He caught me, easily and lifted me into his arms, gazing down at me, adoringly. He glanced across at Elizabeth and I saw the concern in his eyes.
"She used a lot of power in there, Edward," said Elizabeth, softly. "Don't worry; Jacob is parked just round the corner. We can travel back to your villa together."
That was the last thing I heard before unconsciousness claimed me.
I awoke to broad sunlight, streaming through the window of our bedroom in the villa. There was a heavy weight on me, but I stopped myself from moving, as my eyes took in a tousle of bronze hair, resting on my chest.
"Edward," I murmured and he looked up at me, his golden-brown eyes alight with worry. He drew me up into his arms, holding me close to him, his lips brushing against my brow.
"Oh, my love," he said. "I am so angry with you."
But he didn't look angry, or sound angry; just weary and full of love.
"Why?" I asked, softly and now he glared, his eyes darkening a shade.
"Because you put yourself in danger back there! Do you think they would have hesitated to kill you if they had believed that story you told them?" His tone was sharp and I sighed.
"They nearly killed you, Edward," I breathed, as tears gathered in my eyes and his expression softened, as he embraced me again.
"But they didn't. You saved me." His tone became different, filled with awe and he sat me up so that he could look at me. "You were amazing, Bella. Just totally amazing!"
"I need to hunt," I said, as I became increasingly conscious of an all-consuming thirst.
"Yes," said Edward, softly. "Come, I will accompany you."
I pulled back slightly when I heard the voices of the others from below.
"Edward, I need to feed before we face them," I said, quietly. He nodded, understanding and then, with a glint in his eye, he opened the window and gathered me into his arms. He jumped down silently and then set me on my feet. I was a little wobbly to begin with, but as we entered the forestland, the animal part of me took over and all I cared about was finding prey, killing and feeding.
When my thirst was sated, Edward took me by the hand, intending to lead us back to the villa, but I stopped him, pulling him back towards me. Tilting my head to one side, I looked deep into his eyes, running one hand through his mess of hair, while the other cupped his cheek.
"Edward, my maker, my mate, my love," I said, softly, drawing him to me and kissing his lips, softly at first but then with increasing passion. He responded immediately and then groaned as we parted.
"God, Bella, you have no idea how much it turned me on seeing you toss that Volturi underling through the air and then giving demands to the rest of them," he murmured against my throat.
"Show me," I said, suggestively, bringing his hand up to cup my breast. I wanted to feel his hands on me; seal our love once again now that this ordeal was over. Edward stroked me through the fabric of my dress and then met my eyes forcibly.
"One thing you need to understand though, my love," he said, almost playfully. "I will always be the boss, however powerful you might become."
And as his skilful hands went to work, removing my dress and bringing me swiftly to the peak of ecstasy, I moaned against him.
"Yes, sir, Mr Cullen. You can be my boss whenever you want..."
"Bella!" Jacob rushed across the room and pulled me into his arms, spinning us round and round, as he held me tightly. I laughed and returned his embrace, holding him close when he set me back on my feet. "Bells, you look amazing!"
"Thanks," I said. "It is so good to see you, Jake!"
"I am so sorry we left you with that bastard! But I am impressed you killed him..."
"Forget it, Jake," I said, quietly, a little uncomfortable. I wanted to forget about Jonathan, move on from him and what he had done to us.
"Elizabeth told me about your deal with the Volturi," he said. "And I want you to know I am one hundred percent behind you. My pack is at your disposal and I will be talking to the other Alphas as soon as we get home. Did you know Sam has branched off on his own?"
"Sam?" I echoed, feeling a little worried but Jacob smiled broadly.
"He always had a bit of Alpha in him, Bells. I supported him wholeheartedly in setting up his own pack. We can keep an eye on the rogue wolves so much better with two packs operating the area instead of just one. And with your vision for our own headquarters; our own justice system, we can make life so much easier, so much better for our own kind."
"It is a good thing you have done, Bella," said Esme, quietly, crossing the room to fold me in her embrace. "I thought I would lose you both. I know you saved Edward's life and I can never ever repay you for that. If I had lost my son..." Her voice trailed away and Carlisle crossed the room, taking her from me, holding her close, as his golden-brown eyes swept over me, conveying his gratitude.
"This is all well and good, Miss Swann, but you are leaving me short a manager and a waitress," said Jasper, sternly. I looked across at him and felt a quake of the old nerves that had always accosted me in his presence, but then his face broke into a broad grin. "If you will permit me, ma'am, I believe that I could run the club for you both and still play a hand in your vision." To my shock, he suddenly pulled me to him and embraced me tenderly. "I am very proud of you, Bella."
"Thank you," I murmured, the praise meaning so much more because it came from him.
"Oh, Bella, I cannot believe you sent us away before all the action!" grumbled Rosalie, as she and Alice came forward and we embraced in a tight circle. Our heads pressed together as the three of us giggled.
"I'm sure there will be plenty of action to be had while we set up our own version of Volturi headquarters," said Alice, appeasingly. I gave her a sharp look and she just nodded. "Cross each bridge as you come to it, Bella."
I nodded; I wouldn't allow her visions to upset me, to upset this moment when we were all together again. Suddenly a pair of strong arms lifted me off my feet and I found myself in an Emmett-style bear hug as Rosalie's mate cuddled me close.
"I'm gonna miss protecting you from the drunks, Bells," he said. I rolled my eyes and Edward barked out a laugh.
"She doesn't need any protection, Emmett, trust me. You should have seen the number she did on Felix."
"Felix?" cried Esme, her eyes widening. Emmett laughed and set me back on my feet, punching my arm lightly.
"I taught her everything she knows," he said. And then Edward pulled me to him, his arm around my waist as he pulled me close.
"We should get back to America," he said. "We have a lot to do."
"With you all the way, man!" said Emmett, enthusiastically.
"We all are," said Carlisle, softly.
It was agreed that the family would each take a key role in the new Volturi of America. Edward and I would lead it, due to the powers we possessed. Alice would use her visions to help us prepare for any cases brought to us, while Jasper would mediate any discussions. Rosalie and Emmett primarily would take care of Twilight, but should we need extra muscle so to speak, they would be there. Carlisle took care of any medical needs and Esme ensured everything was well organised. She also took care of any new-borns, having a particular skill in keeping them calm and happy.
Jacob and Elizabeth played a key role in bringing the wolf packs to our side, until all but three had signed the treaties we had prepared between us. Elizabeth's powers came in very useful on the few occasions we hit a rogue vampire or wolf who could not be gently persuaded to our cause.
All in all, our version of the Volturi was proving to be successful and I was happy; truly happy. My powers were stronger even than they had been in Italy, as I learned to control them under Elizabeth's and Carlisle's tutelage. She did not lift the curse entirely from Edward, as she said that he had turned her curse into a gift; using the power and strength it gave him for good. Besides, she had said, with a twinkle in her eye, I needed at least one of our coven to be stronger than me.
Edward. My Edward.
Golden brown eyes swam before my vision, briefly before being replaced by a tousle of bronze hair. I tipped my head back to accommodate his lips on my throat and sighed contentedly. My hands found their way into his hair, tugging gently at his locks, determined to move his focus to my lips. With a crooked smile, he leaned up and kissed me so gently that I barely felt him, before he resumed the gentle caress on my throat. His lips vibrated as he chuckled against my skin and I breathed in deeply, inhaling his scent and felt an answering smile brighten my face.
"I love you, Isabella," he said, softly. "My Bella." The smile on my lips widened and if possible, my face became even brighter.
"I love you too, Edward."
And we kissed one another, as our love soared between us.
So we reached the end. If you have added the story as a favourite, but haven't reviewed, I would really appreciate some feedback :-). I hope everyone liked the ending. I have a new story in mind so watch this space.
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