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I had let him kiss me. I had let Edward Cullen kiss me. Edward Cullen had voluntarily kissed me.
I had woken up this morning with Edward gone, and a young maid with a glass of water at my bedside insisting I take the painkillers from the hospital.
Yet all I could think about was the situation of last night. I felt like I had betrayed myself, because no matter how much I wanted to deny it, Edward was very attractive and, even in his drunken state, had left me breathless with one sloppy kiss.
I hadn't even tried to push him away. He'd pulled away with a humourless chuckle, before passing out on the bed next to me. He'd played me completely, and I'd let him.
It would never happen again. That was certain. I would have to distance myself as much as possible from Edward from now on.
Whatever this marriage proposal scheme was, if it was somehow beneficial then our relationship would be purely professional. We would work together with mutual interests as our only connection.
And if I didn't agree with the Cullens plans, then I would have to wait until I was healed, bide my time, and escape properly. I had certainly learnt my lesson from last time that it would not be easy. Where would I go though? I had no one.
There was also the recurring problem of Angela. I couldn't seem to get her off of my mind. Where was she? Was she alive? I knew that realistically I would not be able to answer these questions without help, and asking my Uncle was out of the picture now.
Along with Angela, there was Jacob. It still hurt me deeply to think of his betrayal. We had been so close, and although I knew his intentions were mostly good, he had still turned his back on me. Yet I still wanted to see him. I wanted to make sure he was okay, because although I didn't return the 'love' he seemed to have for me, I loved him like a brother. It was impossible to lose that connection over night.
I had asked the guard who had bought me lunch if there was any possibility of seeing Jacob.
"Mr Cullen has specified that you be on full bed rest for two weeks." He replied in a stoic manner before leaving me again.
After asking another guard who came in to deliver water, I quickly realised that the guards would not cooperate or answer any of my questions.
On the plus side, the pills that the hospital had given me were working well. I felt weak and drained, and slightly achy, but there was no pain. That was something I was thankful for.
Lying in bed gave me a lot of time to think, and by the time Edward came into the room in time for the 6 o'clock news, I had concluded that I wanted to discuss the events of last night with him. I needed to make it clear that nothing like that would ever happen again. I felt as though if I told him that I deeply regretted it, it might save what was left of my dignity and pride.
"The guards say that you've been asking about the traitor." Edward greeted as he walked through the door, slipping off his suit jacket and throwing it over a chair.
"Jacob." I replied.
"What?" Edward questioned, obviously confused.
"His name is Jacob." I said slowly, feeling my anger rising at Edward's statement.
"I want to see him." I said after a few seconds of silence. Edward was busy inspecting some papers that were seeping out of his briefcase.
"You're on bed rest." Edward stated without even looking up from his papers. "Doctors orders." He justified.
"Maybe not today, but soon." I commented.
"We'll see." Edward replied. I hated how he had so easily taken control over the conversation, whereas I was expecting him to be secluded and embarrassed about his actions the night before. It was infuriating.
I decided to try and get a reaction out of him.
"Aren't you going to apologise about last night." I posed, raising an eyebrow.
I smirked as he stiffened. He looked up at me, his expression blank.
"Why should I be apologising?" He asked, his tone unwavering.
"You drunkenly assaulted me!" I protested.
"I wouldn't quite call it assault." He was smirking! How dare he. He should be blushing and embarrassed, but it was my cheeks that were going a light shade of pink.
"How is it not assault?" I questioned, sitting up in the bed even more. I was determined to unnerve him.
"Well, from what I recall, you hardly pushed me away."
"You're too heavy to push away, too much fat." I squeaked, but I knew he had me.
I was not expecting what happened next. He put down his papers and quickly pulled his collared shirt over his head, revealing his chiselled chest.
He stared down at it, sticking his lower lip out and raising his eyebrows as he expected himself.
He looked up to meet my blushing cheeks. "I don't see any fat." He paused. "Do you?"
I opened my mouth to snap at him but he held out his palm.
"Look, sweetheart, believe what you want about last night. I really couldn't care less. It won't happen again."
My jaw dropped slightly. How did he go from pretty much flirting with me, to suddenly the cold and stoic man that I knew so well?
He pulled his shirt back on over his head and slipped on his jacket.
"I left some papers at the office." He explained. "I'll be back late. Get an early night, my father wants to talk with you tomorrow regarding your future with us."
He left before I could ask anything else.
I gave a loud sigh, falling back onto the bed and staring up at the ceiling.
When I woke up the next morning I barely had 20 minutes to change and have something to eat before Edward insisted we go and meet with his Father.
Thus, I found myself sitting in Carlisle Cullen's office not even half an hour after waking up. I was pretty sure I still had bed hair and sleeping dust around my eyes.
Edward sat in an identical chair beside me, and Carlisle sat across his desk, sorting through some papers. He hadn't spoken since we had entered and his silence was unnerving.
He finally cleared his throat and looked up at us. From the corner of my eye I noticed Edward sitting up straighter and meet his Father's eyes.
"You look slightly better than the last time I saw you Isabella." Carlisle noted as his eyes roamed over me. I forced myself not too quiver under his inspection, simply nodded.
"Your injuries, they are healing well?" He questioned.
I nodded again.
Carlisle nodded in response. "I've read through your doctor's notes, it seems that you were very lucky. You will of course tread carefully for the next weeks and keep taking the medication. Head injuries can turn nasty very quickly."
I nodded again.
"As I'm sure you're aware, the purpose of this meeting was not solely about your injuries."
"I'm not marrying him." I blurted out before I could stop myself.
Edward chuckled slightly. I didn't even bless him with a frosty glare.
"You haven't even read the contract, or listened to my proposal." Carlisle responded, his voice calm.
He reached out for a small folder on his desk, and handed it to me. "The first page is a summary. Read it now." Carlisle added.
I took a deep breath before opening up the folder.
I could feel Edward staring at me, waiting for my reaction to the proposed offer. After a few minutes of reading it was clear what the Cullen's wanted.
The page summarised that Edward and I would 'marry' in all senses and very publically. The humiliation of a Voltura marrying a Cullen would anger my Uncle, and he was very likely to strike out.
To be truthful, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I would be financially supported in excess for as long as it took to draw my Uncle out, and when it was all over, I would have to publically stay with Edward for a year, before we would part 'amicably'. From then on I could choose where I wanted to go in the world, and would be financially supported for the rest of my life.
"I know it's a lot to take in, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask." Carlisle explained.
I paused for a few seconds. "Here" I said, pointing to the paper "you don't mention what will happen to my families' wealth. I want it written into this that I will get everything. After all, if my Uncle is dead, then I will be the only remaining blood tie."
"You honestly can't expect to just walk away with all the money, when we would be doing all the work to secure it." Edward scoffed from beside me.
"I don't remember asking your opinion. And what right do you have to that money." I retorted.
"Children." Carlisle soothed "Don't start bickering."
"I'm 24, hardly a child." Edward scoffed.
"Well then don't act like a child." Carlisle dismissed, his tone darkening slightly, warning Edward not to push it.
He turned to me. "I don't know how familiar you are with how your family makes its money, and us Cullen's are by no means Samaritans, but your family has made millions through trafficking and the sex trade. I think its right that some of the money goes towards helping the people who have been hurt by your family. Furthermore, I have been left with the widows and children of my men who have been killed by your family. I think its fair that some, not all, of the money goes towards them."
I was both angry and hurt. "I know my family have done disgusting things, but what about you? You can't be much better. What about the families of the men that work for my family? Some of the men are actually decent people, and to take down Aro you will have to kill some of them."
I took a shaky breath before continuing. "Furthermore, what about when this is over, and I want to move on. I want to be able to protect myself in the future, and if I have a family, I deserve to be able to protect them which costs money."
Carlisle didn't understand that some of the money earnt by my family was through trusts and savings that had nothing to do with the dirty money that was introduced primarily by my Uncles in the past 20 years.
I knew that my family history was very complicated, and extremely tarnished, but I didn't want to want to sign away everything.
Carlisle rubbed his stubble in thought. "The money aspect of this we can sort out at a later date." He paused. "I think the best plan now is for you to take the contract back to your room, read it thoroughly, and then we will meet tomorrow to finalise everything."
"That sounds like a g-."
"I'll run through anymore questions Isabella has regarding the contract." Edward interrupted, standing up.
I turned and glared at him. He didn't speak throughout the majority of the meeting, and then decides to pipe up at the end and interrupt me.
Carlisle nodded at Edward before standing as well.
Edward escorted me back to our room before telling the guard that I was to return to bed. He disappeared shortly after.
I was left alone for three days, confined to the room. I didn't see or hear from anyone, not even Edward. The only contact I was with the trusty guard who stood outside my door all day. He only came in to deliver food or pain medication.
It did give me a lot of time to draw up a list of queries about the contract.
On the fourth day Charles, the doctor, came to my room.
After a long examination he announced that I needed another head scan in a week. He also gave me a long list of exercises for my shoulder, as he was worried it was getting stiff. The rope burn around my waist was almost completely healed thanks to a bottle of cream.
"Doctor, have you treated my friend, Jacob? He's being held in the cells." I asked as he packed up his medical bag.
Charles looked up from his bag. "He had gunshot wounds to the legs?" He asked.
I nodded, eager for news.
"I treated him earlier this morning, made him comfortable for the flight."
"What flight?" I asked hectically.
Charles paused for a second. "Bella, you see the Cullens have a unique way of dealing with those who betray them, or anger them. Instead of killing them off, like I know lots of these other crime families do, they send them away."
"A-away? Where?" I questioned.
"They have work camps around the world, but they're mainly based in Russia. Carlisle has links within the Russian government, so the authorities out there turn a blind eye. They send these guys out to these work camps. They work there for a certain amount of years, then get allowed freedom on probation terms. It actually works quite well." Carlisle explained.
I suddenly couldn't breath. The knowledge that Jacob was only a few floors below had been calmed me for the past few days. Despite his betrayal I had known him for years. He knew me, unlike the many strangers I'd met in the past few days.
But now he was gone. And he would be gone for years from the sound of it.
I let out a small groan as the world span. I felt Charles gently grab by shoulders and sit me down on the bed.
"Bella you need to calm down." He soothed. "Deep breaths."
Eventually Charles gave me a pill to settle me down, and informed the guard on the door that I was not to be allowed out of bed until the morning after I'd eaten breakfast.
"Everything will be alright." Charles promised as he left, after also promising to talk to one of the Cullen men about Jacob's situation and possibly bringing him back.
After my breakfast in the morning, I was shocked for Carlisle Cullen to make his way into the room. He appeared to me as a man who summoned you to him, and not the kind to make personal visits.
"I hear you're feeling rather unwell." He commented on arrival.
I nodded. "I think all my injuries are starting to properly take their toll."
"It's to be expected, although Charles seems confident that you'll make a full recovery."
I sat up in bed and tried to make myself more presentable as Carlisle stood by the bed.
"I know you've only had a few days to think about it, but I need to know how you're feeling about the contract." Carlisle explained.
"I understand." If he wanted his plan to succeed we had to act fast.
"Do you have any more concerns?" He asked.
"I certainly have a few questions."
"Go on then." He prompted.
"I've read the contract in full, but it's all very legal. What exactly do Edward and I need to do?" I asked.
"You will appear as engaged. Mainly we will use media interviews and paparazzi photographs to anger your Uncle."
I nodded. "I also want to track down a friend. She was there during the attack, and I need to know if she's alive or not."
"That can easily be arranged." Carlisle drew another copy of the contract out of a briefcase. "I've also added in a section regarding finance."
He handed me the contract. "You will receive the majority of your families wealth. I will take over all of your families assets, i.e Houses, cars etc. In total my accountants believe that you will get around 95% of your families total wealth. It's a fair deal."
I was surprised Carlisle had taken into account my words from the previous meeting.
"Thank you." I replied. "My friend Jacob, I also want him returned home." I asked.
Carlisle stiffened slightly. "He was the one we had on the inside right? Mr Black?"
"Yes" I replied.
"Isabella you have to understand that he tried to help you escape, and effectively betrayed my trust. He will not return home until he has served his punishment. You don't have to fear for his welfare though. The conditions are perfectly sanitary, and he will not do any manual labour until the medical teams out there deem him fit enough."
I paused for a second. My Uncle Caius had once told me to pick my arguments, and I felt like this was certainly one of those moments.
"I want to have contact with him." I stated. I needed him to reassure me that he was okay.
"I'll allow that."
We were both silent for a second before Carlisle spoke. "Do you have any more questions."
I shook my head.
"I know this feels like a big decision for you Isabella, but in reality you have no other option, and time is of the essence. I would greatly appreciate it if you could sign the contract today."
I stared down at the pile of paper in front of me, and turned to the final page. More precisely, the doted line next to my name.
"If I sign, what happens next?" I asked.
"We start to attract media attention. The first hospital visit from Edward has sparked massive interest, we'll make sure that he takes you for the scan, and you're seen leaving together. Then your PR team will organise a magazine interview, not from you directly. We will start with the idea of some privacy, and then as the wedding gets closer, you and Edward will take a much bigger role in your media profiling."
I nodded, trying to take it all in.
"Have you got a pen?" I asked. Carlisle was right; I didn't have any other options.
He smiled as I signed on the dotted line. "You're doing the right thing."
I hope so. I thought.
"Charles has organised a brain scan for tomorrow, he's getting more concerned after your dizzy spell. I'd also like for you to see our family physiatrist."
"I'm not seeing a shrink." I protested, imagining myself lying on a couch with some old smelly man asking me about my problems.
"Alice is very insightful and helpful. We live very stressful lives, and for you the events of the past few weeks have been traumatic. You need to talk to someone about them. I can assure you Alice takes patient confidentiality very seriously."
I just nodded. Carlisle's tone of voice told me that I wouldn't win.
After a few more minutes of small talk and finalities Carlisle left for another meeting.
I spent the remainder of the day resting, bed bound by a migraine. It wasn't until I was settling into bed that I remembered that I was still in Edward's room.
I had completely forgotten to specify for my own room.
I just hoped Edward stayed away for the night.
He would just add to my migraine.