Title: Things That Go Bump in the Night – The Masen House
Summary: Second-shot from the "Things that Go Bump in the Night" story. Edward has searched out the supernatural for years, hoping to bring peace to his clients with the help of the Twilight Paranormal Group, but that drive was born out of his own experiences. Returning to Chicago and the scene of his own haunting, the team works to solve the mystery of the Masen house.
AN: This is a second shot from this story, requested by several readers after it was hinted at in the original. This was originally donated to the Fandom for Suicide Awareness charity, but now here it is as the final piece of this story. I hope you enjoy the spookiness, my beta mizzdee said this gave her chills. This story is Rated M for lemons, language, and subject matter that may bother some people. Both supernatural scenarios the past events (reference to kidnapping and child abuse death, though not detailed.) Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. 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.
"When are you going to talk to me about the house?" Bella asked from our bed in the W Chicago Lakeshore Hotel.
We'd checked in a day early, the team coming back from a few days off tomorrow so we could begin prep. I'd asked them not to research it until we were all together, because I wanted to be a part of every aspect of this investigation.
Even though Alice kept telling me that we were going to do the investigation, I fought it the entire time we were in Ohio doing our next investigation. It was Bella's worries about me that caused me to finally give in, as she spent half of a night talking in her sleep about me being safe.
I couldn't let my demons haunt her too. It was the reason I'd shied away from relationships for as long as I did, and now that I had Bella, I had to come to terms with what happened there.
"Can we please just wait until the team is here? I don't want to go through it twice," I asked, hoping she'd let it go for one more night.
"Yeah," she whispered. "I don't mean to push, but it seemed like every mile closer we got to Chicago was another weight that was added to you. I feel like I should call Alice and tell her to back off. You don't have to face this if you aren't ready to, you know that."
Shit, now she was starting to feel bad about wanting to help me move past this.
"Bella, come here." I held out a hand for her to take, and soon I had her pulled close to my chest. "I need this to be able to move on, but that doesn't mean it will be easy. It isn't just the haunting, but it was my parents' dismissal of my experiences. Not having the support of my family made everything so much worse and I want nothing more than to sell the house, but I can't do it knowing what I lived through there. That needs to be handled or controlled before I could do it."
"So we'll go through it together, but for tonight we can relax. What do you want to do?"
I felt the smirk creep across my face as she lay there innocently. "I'd really like for you to open the shutters that obscure my view of you in the shower, because that's a view I want to see."
"Why not join me?" she teased. "That way you can touch, feel, and taste me too?"
"I love how you think, Bella," I moaned, thoughts of my house forgotten.
I woke up with a start the next morning, waking Bella right along with me.
"What's wrong?" Bella questioned as she sat up beside me.
"It was just the dream I had…I was back in the house with the moaning and the pressure. You'll understand more when we do the walkthrough and I can tell you about the occurrences, but those feelings just eat at me."
Bella stood up, pulling me by the arm. "Come on, Edward, we'll get dressed and then go down to meet everyone for breakfast. Then we can get started."
I followed her over to the dressers so that we could get ready for the day, anxious all over again for what was coming in the next few hours.
We rode the elevator down to Wave, the hotel's restaurant, where everyone was waiting for us. Bella's hand squeezed mine as we sat down, joining the gang at the table. We made small talk and ordered our food, dancing around the reason we were in Chicago, the reason Alice was having a spa day so that she would be able to come in fresh tomorrow and see what she could using her gift.
When my omelet was no longer holding my interest and my appetite was long gone, I finally dove into my story.
"I always felt sick as a child. My mom would bring me to the doctor and nothing would be wrong. My father said I was trying to get out of school and forced my mother to bring me, but I couldn't shake it. The basement would scare the shit out of me and I'd experience a tightness or pressure in my chest right before I fell asleep, which meant that it took a lot longer to fall asleep. And the sounds…moaning and footsteps downstairs. They never believed me. So I stopped telling them, and then as soon as I was able to, I went to school and never turned back. I went home twice between when I started school and when they died, and I don't regret it."
Jasper reached over to pluck the check off the table and slip his credit card in before I could fight him. "We have the equipment ready to set up right after the walkthrough if you'd like to do that. You guys can canvas the neighborhood for a while in the afternoon while we prepare for dead time."
"That sounds like a plan," Carlisle said as he turned to me for approval.
"Sure, let's do it," I told them, already dreading it. That house was not a place I wanted to spend any more time than necessary.
Bella and I drove separately from the others, her hand once again in mine as the team followed me to the house. The quiet street opened up to the old brick house not too far from the water. It should have been peaceful, but that was killed by the memories that I had of living there.
Bella's voice cut through my thoughts, her hand running up and down my arm. "Edward, breathe. Any point, if you want to back off, we will. You are the client here, you're running this."
Nodding, we got out and met the team on the porch. I unlocked the door and began the tour. "I'm starting with the room that I can't be in and then moving to the more active rooms.
"The basement is this way." I walked to the door and pointed. "It isn't a fun playroom kind of hangout, its storage and a furnace and laundry area, which I've never used. I'm saying this from the top of the stairs because I refuse to go in there. I hate that I'm forcing any of you down there, but I can't show you around."
"So you haven't had any episodes in the basement?" Rosalie asked.
"I can only make it to the fourth step before I panic. The moaning I hear in my room sounds distant, so I don't know if the basement is the origin and that's why it bothers me so much, but you couldn't pay me to go down there when I was young."
"Okay, we can make a quick trip down there," Esme said, leaving Carlisle to babysit me.
True to their word, three minutes later they were back up the stairs and we were moving up to the second floor.
"The rest of the incidents were up here. My bedroom was the worst, but there was varying degrees of the same experiences in all the rooms on this floor, so let's just go to my bedroom and we can discuss it there."
"Please describe the exact feelings you experienced during the episodes." Bella had her notebook poised in her hand as she asked the question.
"The sickness in the morning was like a bad cold. I'd feel feverish, but I never had a fever, I'd cough, and I felt sluggish. At night, the first thing would be the tightness in my chest. It was my lungs more than my heart, but the pressure would build."
"And the moaning and the footsteps, you heard it in bed as well?" Bella asked sadly.
"Yeah, I'd hear it in the upstairs rooms at night and when I tried to go into the basement I'd hear it behind me. Other parts of the house don't seem to be as effected as those two floors." With the final explanation, we headed back outside and split up.
Jasper and Rosalie stayed behind to set up tech while Bella and I took one side of the block and Carlisle, Esme, and Emmett took the other. We started knocking on doors, many people reluctant to talk to us, even after I explained that I lived in the house in question and was trying to learn a little history on it. We were halfway down the block when we got our first positive response.
"Yeah, I remember that place," the man in his late fifties told us. "When we were kids my parents used to always tell us to stay away from it. Never knew why they didn't want us playing there, but it wasn't the people living there because they didn't change their opinion of it after it was sold. That house hasn't been owned for more than a decade since the forties. I really don't have more information than that. The people who owned the house over the years were all nice enough; I can give you their names if you'd like to see if you can contact them. Sometimes you just get a feeling, one you don't question."
"I understand that, and thank you for the names," I said as he wrote down the three names that could help shed some light on this mystery.
Moving down the street, we got more of the same, vague memories and bad feelings, until Bella's phone rang, Esme telling us to come meet them at the opposite side of the block. When we got there, there was a younger woman sitting on her porch with a woman I assumed was at least her grandmother. Both women were Hispanic and the elderly woman was speaking very fast, her tone was alarmed.
Esme pulled me aside to whisper to me. "Antonia and her great-grandmother, Bia, seem to have a lot of information. She's lived here since the twenties and her parents owned it since nearly the turn of the century."
"This is the man who owns the house now?" Antonia asked.
"Yes, I'm Edward Masen; my family has owned the house for thirty years now."
"Os céticos, eu me lembro deles," Bia said. The words were spoken slowly and with a little anger to them, but I still had no idea what she'd said.
"She said that she remembers your parents, they were skeptics." Antonia chuckled. "My great-grandmother is very traditional and very Catholic. She believes your house is haunted, and she thinks you do as well."
"I do," I admitted. "Did my friends tell you what we do?"
"They did explain it, but Bia wants to explain something to you." Antonia turned to her great-grandmother and urged her to continue. The two of them talked for a few minutes before Bia started to repeat the same phrase over and over.
"What is she saying?" Bella asked.
"Um diabo vivia ali," Antonia repeated. "A devil lived there. The owners that bought the house in 1920 bought it from the bank. She's too young to know what happened to the previous owner, but her mother and sisters always told her to be careful at that house, because what happened there still lingered."
"Does she know how long before 1920 it was?" Emmett asked.
Antonia relayed the question to Bia before she shook her head. "She was a small child, but I would look into the years before and see how the house came to be the banks property in the first place. The owners that sold it in the early sixties were looking into it as well, so they would be good people to contact about what could have happened there."
"Thank you so much for the help, and anything I find out as far as making the house less hostile I will gladly pass on," I told them earning a smile from Antonia.
"She'll like to know that the house has closure, so thank you for that." Antonia led her great-grandmother back inside, leaving us to return to the house and check on their progress.
"How's it going in here," I asked Rosalie as she checked the monitors.
"The basement is all set. Jasper's got the motion sensors in the hall and the cameras set up on the entire second floor, now he's just setting up the microphones up there. We should be ready to go in an hour if you guys want to head back and get something to eat and nap now."
"Okay, what time are we meeting back here?" I asked.
"Edward, you're the client, we need to be impartial the first night, but we'll fill you in on everything tomorrow," Carlisle spoke and I didn't respond.
I knew it was likely that they wouldn't let me participate, especially in the first dead time, but it didn't make staying behind any easier to deal with.
Everyone piled into my SUV and we drove to the W, each going our separate ways once we got in the elevator. I took Bella into our room and we immediately ordered room service. With her safely seated beside me on the couch, I held her close.
"Please be careful tonight, I don't like that you're going in there alone."
"Edward, the camp was a fluke. Nothing has happened on our last two jobs, and besides, I won't be alone. Rose and I are both going to be in the basement." Bella tried to appease me, but I wouldn't be happy until she was back early tomorrow morning.
"Wake me up when you get back, because I'll sleep better knowing you're safe," I told her.
"If it means you'll relax; then I will," she told me, kissing me on the cheek before going to change for bed.
I did the same and then we relaxed until room service came. We ate dinner together, though towards the end I only picked at it, knowing what was coming soon. Bella wordlessly led me to the bed and we curled up together, quickly drifting off to sleep.
I was sound asleep when smalls hand shook me awake. I looked up into Bella's tearful eyes and I was suddenly wide awake.
"Bella? What happened?" I asked, begging her to answer me.
"I'm sorry, nothing major happened…I mean, we had activity, but we're all fine- " Her rambling wasn't getting either of us anywhere, so I interrupted her to get the answer to the most important question floating around in my head.
"Bella, if you're all fine, then why are you so upset?"
"Because," she wailed. "I spent two hours there and it was too much. I can't imagine growing up in that house. That oppressive energy, and you can feel the presence in the basement. The creaking we heard that even Jasper picked up on from tech…you lived that. Edward, if your parents were still alive I'd beat the shit of them for not only being too dense to feel it, but to not believe you when you were struggling. I'm just so glad you got out of there and were able to find people to support you."
"We'll figure out what is causing this and take back the house, even if it's only so I can sell it and be rid of it once and for all," I told her.
"I promise, Edward. Carlisle has never been this intent on solving a problem and you have the whole team behind you. Now, let's get some sleep. Tomorrow will be a long day."
Bella settled into my arms and we were once again drifting off to sleep.
Bella was curled up on the couch when I woke up at nine-thirty, her laptop resting on the arm as she typed away.
"You're up early?" I said as I got up and flipped through the room service menu.
"I'm motivated, and I've found some information already," Bella said as she gestured to the door. "I ordered the same breakfast as we got the first day, since I knew you liked it. It should be here any minute."
"You don't want to get pulled away from your work?" I questioned.
"We're going to be doing heavy research starting at eleven, and I wanted to be prepared. We have to learn what happened in that house. I've already found the information on the last three owners before your parents. The two previous sets of owners are deceased, so I'm ready to make some phone calls a little later. Now I'm trying to find information on what happened there before 1920, but its slow going. The only really notable thing is the Spanish Influenza outbreak in 1918, which could be part of it. I mean, it's a sick feeling, and if the entire family died and there were no one for the house to go to, then it would eventually become the property of whoever owned the mortgage. But that doesn't seem like enough. Everyone believes there was something malicious there, even if it didn't present itself like other spirits have."
"I agree, but that time frame is accurate. Maybe when we get to the library we can find something." The knock at the door put a hold on our conversation, at least for the moment.
After breakfast, Alice called, asking me to meet her so we could do the walkthrough. This was one of the things I'd been dreading most about this case, but with a kiss from Bella, I was on my way.
Alice was waiting in the lobby when I got out of the elevator, so we went to the valet to get the car. "Everything will be all right, Edward."
"Is this a vision, or a platitude?" I teased.
"A little of both, now let's go see your house." The valet opened her door, allowing her to slip in while I walked around to the driver's side. We didn't talk on the ride over, but as soon as I put the key in the lock, she stopped me.
"This wasn't just the flu," she whispered.
I didn't respond as she walked into the house. The main entryway was where she started, going through the hall and back to the kitchen. "There's something smoky and a little putrid smelling here, it's very faint, but…
"He paced a lot, thinking about who he'd choose before going into the room. He thought he was saving them and this was their payment. And he was a master at hiding his actions." Alice looked at me and took my hand. "Let's go into the basement."
I followed her, and she immediately started telling me about the way the room had been, the beds that had lined the front and back walls of the house. Eight beds, though there were never that many kept down here. Her speech was jumbled, it came too fast and I tried to process what she was saying. Then her eyes focused on the area to the left of the stairs.
"This is where they were taken after he killed them, the girls saw it all…they knew there was no hope, but he spared the boys that pain. They were kept upstairs."
She started walking upstairs and I followed her, ready to leave the room. Once we made it to the second floor, she started pointing to the rooms. "These were the rooms he kept the boys in. The one that was his undoing had been kept in your room."
"I didn't tell you which one was my room," I said and she smiled.
"Your fear lingers there too, Edward, it's left its imprint on this house." Alice's words weighed on me as she moved to the master bedroom. "This was where he slept, where he was killed. It's amazing that your parents didn't experience anything."
"If they did, they didn't say a word to me," I told her as we turned to head back downstairs.
"We better call them and tell them to meet us at the library. Bella will need to use her librarian skills to get us the rest of the information we need."
I escorted her out and was just about to lock the door when my phone rang. I saw Bella's face smiling up at me, so I answered quickly. "We just finished up here, Bella. Alice wants you all to meet us at the library because she said you'll need it."
"We're already there, Edward. One of the former owners had a great deal of information for us and I'm following up on it. I'm in the periodicals room. I'll see you both soon."
"Okay, love, see you there," I responded as I hung up. "They're already there, she got a tip from one of the former owners and now she's researching it."
The drive to the library took almost a half an hour in the Chicago traffic, but finally we were walking into the periodicals room where Carlisle and Esme were both on their laptops. "Where's everyone else?"
Carlisle looked up from his screen to answer us. "Jasper and Rosalie are at the hotel going over the audio and video from last night to see if anything was captured and Bella's over there at the microfilm machine searching for something."
"She said that one of the home owners knew something?" I asked and Esme was the one to answer this time.
"Out of the three she was able to contact, one knew nothing, but did admit to some of the things you experience, one hung up as soon as she mentioned the address, and the last one told her she'd done some research before selling the house, but that she stopped looking into it soon after she found what she believed to be the cause. She confirmed to Bella that she was headed in the right direction when it came to the Spanish Influenza outbreak, so Bella searched the microform database for any articles from 1918 and 1919 that mention your address. We're searching for your address in the police reports database to see if we can get a case number if the police were involved."
"I'm going to check with her; hopefully we can find the answers." I moved to the back of the room where Bella was sitting at an old looking computer, turning knobs and peering into the old viewfinder. "You should wear your glasses more often."
"You just say that because you have a naughty librarian fantasy," Bella teased as she moved aside slightly so I could pull a chair alongside her.
"It's such good luck that my girlfriend went to school for library sciences," I teased, just as she let a curse slip from her lips. "What is it, Bella?"
"It's worse than we imagined. Let me print this one and keep looking, that way we can read them once their printed."
She sat there for another twenty minutes, muttering as she printed several articles before she retrieved the stack and signed off the machine. The two of us walked back to the table where Alice, Esme, and Carlisle were sitting as she put the printed articles on the table top, sliding in beside Alice.
"Look for Lonnie Brooks, date of arrest December 19, 1918. His police file will be the one we need."
She passed us all different articles to read while Esme looked for his record, and what we found was shocking.
Lonnie Brooks worked at the crematorium for the city morgue. He would pick up bodies from the hospital and take them to be burned. During the fall of 1918, he started kidnapping children whose parents had been killed by the disease, and bringing them back to his house…my house. The boys were bound and kept in beds in the upper bedrooms, while the girls were bound to cots in the basement. They could see that there was room for more if he found them, and they saw the bodies after he smothered them with their pillows.
They were gagged so they couldn't scream, but when Brooks missed work for three days because the illness made him weaker as he tried to restrain them, his boss sent the police to check in on him. They heard the noise coming from upstairs and broke down the door, finding a young boy in one of the upper bedrooms. Brooks opened the door of his room only to see the cops and reached for his knife. They shot him dead in the doorway, and upon further inspection of the house they found a girl alive in the basement, as well as the body of another boy , that he would have taken with him to work when he went next.
The papers said that the children were always separated like that, and the three that survived admitted that he kept the girls below and the boys above, and that there had been more before them. The exact number of his victims was never known.
"I hope he's burning in hell," Bella whispered as we finished reading the articles, the horrors that had occurred in my house were now laid out plainly before us.
"I think we should head back to the hotel and find out what they have from last night's dead time. We can link that to what we discovered and make our plan for tomorrow night," Carlisle said.
"Tomorrow night?" I asked, wondering why we were delaying this.
"I think we need more planning time, it seems that we're dealing with the feelings trapped within the house, not the spirit of Lonnie Brooks, but it is still a lot to take in. I say that we go over what we discovered last night, and see if there is anything else we can learn about the victims. Alice, if you could find something that will help release the house of those feelings, I think that will be the biggest thing we can do moving forward."
"That's fair," I agreed before turning to Bella. "Do you have everything you need from here, or will you need more time with the microfilms?"
"No, after the articles on the victims were published, there doesn't seem to be much else on it, so I would have to go by police records, which I can do from the hotel as easily as here. We can head back."
Collecting our things, we drove back to the W and headed to Jasper and Alice's room where he already had the laptops set up to show us what he and Rosalie had discovered.
"There wasn't as much on the tapes as we would have hoped. We watched them and dissected the footage, along with the audio collected and it made the experiences subjective, not objective."
"What do you mean?" I asked, a little annoyed that he couldn't find proof.
"There wasn't any actual movement, we all felt things, and heard things, and not all of it was supernatural. The tightness that we experienced and the issues we felt, those were real, and the moaning was unexplainable…but the footsteps were the house." Rosalie watched me as she made the final statement.
"And you can prove that?" Bella asked, sensing that I wasn't taking it well.
"Yes we can," she responded. "When we amplified the sound of the creaking, we heard the softer tones that showed it was one long noise of the house settling in the chill of the night, as old houses do, but it wasn't separate sounds like you would hear with footsteps. We even went back and took recordings of actual footsteps in the house and compared them. Even walking slowly and stepping in different ways, it couldn't be recreated. But comparing it to the sound of a house at night that we had on file, it was the closest match."
"Where is Emmett? Did he go with you to the house to perform the test?" Alice inquired as there was a thump low on the door.
"He went to pick up pizza from down the street," Jasper said as he let Emmett in.
"How'd they take the news?" Emmett asked.
"I'm dealing, but we're not going in again tonight, so hopefully whatever we find tomorrow night will be enough."
"Edward, there is something there, no one is questioning that," Alice insisted. "I'm going to look for the right cleansing ritual to help free what is trapped in the house."
"I'm sorry," I told them, "I don't mean to be a little bitch about this, but its part of the reason I was resisting having you do the investigation on my house, knowing what happened there, it makes it a lot more difficult to deal with my own experiences."
"What did your research uncover?" Jasper asked, reminding us that we had a long story to tell them.
"A man named Lonnie Brooks owned the house, he worked for the morgue in1918 when the Spanish Influenza outbreak hit," Bella started the story, holding my hand tightly as she continued. "As he would load up the bodies to bring them to be cremated, he noticed children that were left behind by dead and dying parents.
"He managed to convince them using his authority as someone working within the hospital that he was bringing them to a house that was offering temporary housing until they could be helped back on their feet. Once they got there, they were chained to the beds, the boys in the upstairs and the girls on cots in the basement. There's no evidence that he sexually assaulted them from the articles, not that I'd expect it to be printed back then, but he would spend time with them before returning to his room for the night.
"When one of the kids would become too weak, he'd smother them with a pillow, bring them into the basement and then bring them along on his rounds collecting the dead the following day, destroying the evidence along with the body. There is no idea how many victims he had, but when he missed work for three days, his boss became worried and sent the police to check on him. They arrived and heard the noise coming from upstairs and assumed it was Brooks having difficulty. They broke in and found the teen boy that was being held in Edward's room. Lonnie confronted the police and was killed before a search of the house revealed a young girl in the basement and the body of another boy. All the information they had was based on what these children had learned, mainly the girl because she witnessed a lot more in the basement."
"Jesus, talk about a grim reaper," Emmett shook his head; as if it would erase the story we had just been told.
"Why don't we eat dinner and then we can show you the footage we got," Rosalie offered and we all agreed.
Dinner was a little tense, but after viewing the reactions that my team had, questioning each other about sounds they heard, or the low moan that we had ruled out as being electrical produced by anything normal we decided that there wasn't more we could do with the footage tonight.
We parted for the night, and Bella took me back to our room, telling me to take a hot shower to relax. The spray did wonders to loosen my muscles as I tried to forget for the rest of the night. I got out of the shower and wrapped a towel around my waist, entering the bedroom only to hear Bella's voice coming from the short hallway behind me, right by the door to the room.
"You just have to keep breaking the rules, don't you?" she said.
"What are you…" my words died as I saw her standing in front of me in a skirt and a frilly button up blouse, a pair of high heels on her feet and a pencil holding her hair in a messy bun and her glasses sitting on her perfect nose. "Fuck, Bella."
"That's Miss Swan to you, Mr. Masen." She crossed the space between us, an extra bit of sway in her hips as she moved. "No matter what I tell you to do, you always do the opposite. I tell you that you have to be quiet and you yell, I tell you about the proper treatment of the library's property and you misuse everything you touch. You can't even follow the dress code we require. I don't know what I should do with you."
"Maybe you should punish me?" I offered, hoping to god she would.
"Then who would punish me? Because as hard as it is for me to try to get you to follow the rules, it is even harder to not break the rules along with you, you make it look so satisfying," she purred.
"It feels so good, Miss Swan. Break the rules with me, I promise to make it feel good," I whispered.
Bella took off her glasses, letting the temple of her glasses trace down her neck and collarbone before it rested between her breasts. "I'm sure you will."
"I have rules too, Miss Swan, and these can't be broken," I said in preparation. "Number one, the heels and glasses stay on, and number two, we're going to be disrespecting several surfaces in this room and I want to hear you scream as we do. If we're doing this, we're breaking every one of the rules that you cling to while you're working."
Her glasses slipped back up to her face as she reached forward to yank at my towel, dropping it to the floor. "Deal."
I practically lunged forward, finding the zipper of her skirt and pushing it down her legs, my cock instantly coming into contact with her naked flesh. "Look at you, naughty girl, not wearing any underwear."
"I was planning on having to yell at you today, you never let me down," she moaned as the fingers that had been unbuttoning her shirt purposely glided over her chest as I pushed it off her shoulders and onto the floor.
With only her bra between us, I quickly got rid of it and then lifted her, pressing her against the wall and then reaching between us to line myself up to her core before I pushed into her.
The moan that echoed off the wall behind her put a cocky smile on my face as I pulled out and slammed back in. "This isn't going to be gentle, Baby."
I slammed into her repeatedly, listening to the sounds Bella made and using them as a guide. Her heels dug into my ass, as her whispered pleas for more kept me going. Lifting her again, I walked over to the table by the window and laid her down, her feet instantly finding the edge of the desk, but her heels slipped off the surface.
"I think it's time we get rid of these, because I want you pushing back, and you need to be louder," I growled as I slipped her heels off and leaned over her.
"Oh god, Edward, that feels amazing. Make me scream," she moaned and I used the change in the angle to drive her to the peak.
The noise in the room grew louder as I felt Bella tighten around me, letting me know that we were quickly approaching her climax. Doubling my efforts, I watched in pure joy as Bella arched off the table, her eyes rolling into the back of her head as she screamed my name. The feeling of her gripping me from within sent me over the edge; Bella's name joined her cries as I came hard inside her.
Knowing the table wasn't very comfortable for her, I waited until my strength returned and carried Bella into the bathroom so we could both shower quickly before falling into bed.
"Thank you, Bella. You have no idea how much I needed that."
"I had some idea, and anytime you need me, I'm here for you, Edward."
And with those sweet words we drifted off to sleep.
We slept in again the next morning, but when we did wake up, Alice was quick to claim me for a shopping trip, barely letting me finish breakfast before we left.
"Where are you taking me?" I asked as we rode the elevator down.
"I figured you'd be the best person to help me find these little stores around here, so I kidnapped you. I found the perfect ritual to try and release all of the energy and any spirits that may be lingering. But I need supplies and I think it will help you to be a part of the whole experience," Alice explained as we exited the elevator and made our way to the valet once more.
"Thank you, Alice. I know I was a dick yesterday-"
"You were a client and the boss at the same time, and you can't be both of those things. Let Carlisle run the show as he has been and everything will work out a lot better. Now, onto the shopping." Alice giggled as she climbed into the waiting car.
It took us a few hours, buying candles, incense, smudges in three different varieties for the ritual. I knew the importance of a sage smudge, or a bundle of sage wrapped tightly and burned during a ritual, but the cedar and sweetgrass were lost on me. As we returned to the hotel, we met up with the group, but Carlisle told us he was still working on which rooms we'd be in tonight, so I was left alone to try and prepare for tonight with Bella.
Knowing me as she now does, Bella ordered us a late lunch and then we hung out, watching TV before taking a nap. It was still so amazing to me that we'd been together only six weeks, but we were already so attuned to one another. This house and the things I experienced there made me the man that founded this group and brought us together, but they also made me the man that almost pushed her away. With a strengthened resolve, I fell asleep ready to put an end to this.
The alarm went off at ten, and Bella ordered our dinner while I got dressed, giving her a chance to get herself ready before we sat down to our room service. The meal was quiet before I finally asked her about the research she did this afternoon.
"There wasn't much more. The two kids still alive when everything was discovered were able to give an idea of how many children he'd had while they were being held, but a true number was never known. Angela, the young girl who was in the basement gave them a majority of the information they had to go on, and the only other mention of them I could find was through genealogy. Ben Cheney, the boy who had been in your room asked Angela to marry him about a year and a half after they were released from the hospital and lived a happy life. It seems they were bonded by what they lived through and found that having their partner understand it made things easier to handle."
"I'm glad they got a happy ending, I just hope we can solve this so that I can sell this house with a clear conscience," I told her, at which she reached over to take my hand.
"You will, I promise." her eyes burned with such intensity that I didn't want to question her, so I let it go for the moment.
All too soon, we had to head down to the suite that Carlisle and Esme were staying in so we could talk ourselves through the plan for the night.
"Okay," Carlisle said as he closed the door behind us. "Now that we're all here, let's go over our room assignments so we can head out and do our tech setups and get dead time underway."
Esme looked down at the pad in front of her, giving out our assignments. "Rose and Jasper are going to have tech set up in the dining room again, Alice will be in the living room, trying to get contact from anything, Emmett will be back in Edward's room, I'll be in the master bedroom, Carlisle will be in the room that Edward Sr. turned into his office, and Bella and Edward will be in the basement."
"You're making him face the basement during dead time?" Bella yelled. "He isn't ready to go in there during the daytime and you're sticking him down here when we're actively trying to provoke whatever is lingering in that house?"
"Bella," I whispered before Carlisle could try to explain, "I need this."
Her shocked face spun to look me in the eyes as she tried to argue, "There is no need to force it."
"I'm not forcing it. I'm setting myself free," I explained. "I'm okay, and if I get to the point where I'm not, I'll switch with one of the others."
"Good," Carlisle said, happy that I wasn't fighting it. "Let's get over to the house and prepare for our final dead time."
We got to my house faster than I would have liked, and the mics were attached and the cameras and lights were tested before the majority of the group headed upstairs. Jasper and Rose settled in the dining room and Bella and I walked downstairs, Alice paced above us so we'd know what it sounded like if she started to roam around.
We had our flashlights on and Bella and I were sitting with our backs against the front wall, looking towards the back of the house. It gave us the best vantage point of the stairs and the cellar door that led to the outside.
The overhead light was still on, but I knew that in a few minutes Rosalie would turn it off and we'd be plunged into near darkness, only the flashlights and the night-vision camera setting giving us the ability to see.
We heard the last bit of movement before Rosalie radioed that the light would go out. With the loss of that light source, Carlisle called for the start of dead time.
"We know that this is the room where all of the girls were held, are any of you with us tonight?" Bella spoke clearly out into the room, engaging whatever might still be here. "None of us want to hurt you. The only thing we want is for you to move on. You've spent nearly a century trapped in this house and it is time that you rest."
Finding my voice, I spoke out. "I know what it's like, to try and get help and have no one notice what's happening…that's what growing up in this house was like for me. I could feel you, hear you, I sensed your presence but my parents were skeptical about it and thought I wanted attention. I walked away from them, but I also walked away from you, and I'm sorry for that. But you need to let go."
A low humming moan caught my attention as I began to feel the pressure. Whether it was the pressure that the flu caused with the fluid buildup, or the suffocation they experienced when he'd kill them, I wasn't sure, but the panic bubbled to the surface.
"Edward, breathe." Bella's voice was right in my ear as she whispered to me. "I know you're scared, but we're going to get through this." I heard her voice change as she held me close. "Do you see him? He feels your pain, we all feel it, which is why you need to let it go. You can find peace now, we know what happened here and you aren't trapped anymore. We set you free."
The crackle of the radios were jumbling the other's voices, they seemed to be making similar pleas. The tightness grew worse before it receded. The heavy pounding of footsteps and the blinding overhead light let us know that they'd ended dead time and we were almost ready to close this case.
"I think I know how to make this ritual work," Alice said as she knelt in front of me. "That was a long and intense session, but it was worth it."
"Long?" I asked, because it felt like it had been cut short.
"We were down her for almost two hours, Edward," Bella told me and I shivered.
"Can we get out of here?" I asked and Bella helped me up, leading me up the stairs and out to the car.
"How are you feeling, Edward?" Carlisle asked as he came over to give me a one-armed hug.
"Tired, but a little bit better actually."
"Good. Tomorrow, we'll be able to work toward your resolution." His words held hope, so I clung to them as we drove to the hotel.
"Edward, come on, we have to get up. Jasper and them have finished tearing down tech and after brunch we're meeting them for the ritual." Bella's shaking finally jarred me enough that I opened my eyes.
"You let me sleep in?" I asked.
"You needed it, now we have a plan for today and tonight."
"Tonight?" I questioned, because the cleansing was supposed to be the end of it.
"Yes, if everything goes well today, then you and I will spend the night in your old room to see if you can spend the night without experiencing an episode. If you can, then you can sell it with a clear conscience," Bella explained.
"Okay," I agreed. "Let's get this started."
After showers, breakfast and some heavy petting, we drove to meet everyone at my house. Letting ourselves in, we discovered them in the master bedroom. Alice clasped her hands tightly, smiling reassuringly at me as she spoke. "Perfect timing, now we can begin. For the first part, I will go alone using the three smudges to cleanse the house passively, allowing the herbs the chance to start what we will finish as we go from room to room."
Alice took the sage smudge and began her circuit of the house, speaking the blessing as she went through the house. She returned twice, switching out the sage smudge for the cedar, and then cedar for sweetgrass, before returning to begin the second phase.
"The water in this bowl is signifies water in all of its forms." Lifting a spoon, she slowly poured the tiny white crystals into the water. "Salt is of the earth, but the two work side by side on this planet to bring life. The smudges represent the air we breathe and the things it carries, and this candle is fire, the life force of so many things."
Alice lit the candle and handed it to me, passing something to each of the girls before giving Carlisle the bowl with the salt water as she started to walk forward, each couple following behind her in pairs with Bella and I in the rear.
"Spirits that remain here, you are set free. Darkness that lingers, come into the light. All that is negative shall leave this day and allow for better things to come. We release you, we command you, be gone."
Alice repeated this chant in every room, Carlisle sprinkling the water on the floor as we walked through each room, Alice lingering in my room longer than the others on the floor. We continued downstairs and made the rounds before coming to stop at the basement. Centering ourselves, we descended into the room that held the most anger and activity, allowing Alice to work her spell until we had done a lap of the room. She turned to the cellar door and told Jasper to open it, all of us walking out into the sunlight as we stood in the side yard at the end of the driveway.
"We release you, we command you, be gone." Alice took the bowl from Carlisle and dumped the remaining water in a young plant sitting in a planter before she snuffed the candle and took it from me. "Edward, each of us girls had a pair of medals on a short chain, one is an Archangel Gabriel medal, and the other is Saint Michael. I thought you'd appreciate the sentiment. There are four holes in the corners of your property that we dug so that we could bury the medals to help protect the house and the property. Is that all right?"
"That's perfect, Alice, thank you."
The four couples split up and as Bella and I got to the front left corner of the property, she dropped the medal in the hole and I picked up the shovel, filling the hole back in and tamping it down. When the work was done, Bella looked up at me with a hopeful smile. "How do you feel?"
"Relieved," I admitted. "I really think this made a difference."
Later that night, we drove up to the house and parked the car in the driveway, entering through the front door and for once not feeling anything strange. We'd eaten with everyone, relaxing until it was time to come here and hopefully get some sleep, but I wasn't going to hold my breath.
The one saving grace was that as a tall teenager, my parents got me a full bed because the twin wasn't cutting it, so it gave Bella and I room to cuddle together. We used the bathroom and then made the bed, climbing and talking about everything and nothing, just hoping to pass the time. It was a little after midnight when we fell asleep, all without any disturbance, and as my eyes opened the following morning, I smiled triumphantly.
"Are you okay?" Bella asked as she stretched beside me.
"I'm more than okay, that's the first time I've ever slept through the night without waking up," I told her.
"That's amazing, baby, I'm so happy for you."
"It did bring something very important to mind, though." I left the thought vague as she stared at me a little perplexed.
"What is it?"
"Most guys think about this a lot as teens and twenties, but the thought didn't enter my head until late last night. But now that it seems that the house is finally free of whatever had a hold on it, I think it's time I make up for lost time."
"What are you talking about?" she asked, a little annoyed at my vagueness, I assumed.
"Every guy dreams of having their girlfriend in their childhood bed, and the only thing I need to make it happen is a few misplaced garments."
Bella giggled as I pounced on her, my lips finding her neck as my hands worked to remove her shorts and underwear. "You're impossible."
"That's what you love about me," I teased as her fingers moved to remove a few of my offending articles of clothing.
"It's one of the many things, actually."
Joking with Bella in my bedroom thinking about normal things for once, I was relieved that I had finally been able to put this behind me and could move on with the woman I loved.