SM owns it, Dollybigmomma beta's my mess, we're sorry for taking so long, between my four kids home for spring break and her moving, we've become a tangled mess.

Chapter 27 – Bait and Switchblade

Once Grams left, Agent Brandon, or Alice as she insisted we call her, sat us down to let us in on her plan.

"I'm going to set up cameras in various living spaces, obviously not in your bathroom or your bedroom, but around the house, so when she enters your home, there'll be no question on what events took place." I was about to say there was no way I was going to let that bitch in my home or near my family when she stopped me. "If she comes here, we'll be notified before she arrives so we can be prepared. When that happens, I'll make sure the cameras are on and we're armed with any equivalent weapon she may have on her. My men will know what she's packing, and I brought a few items out of each of my weapons collections."

"Collections?"

"Yes, come with me." She led us back to her bedroom and pulled out her huge suitcase. It was as big as her, and I was sure it had her whole wardrobe in it, but when she opened it, she proved otherwise. "I've brought three of each weapon. Whether it's knives, brass knuckles, or stun guns, I'll have a set for you. I also brought various types of chains, pipes, billy clubs, mace, hatchets, and one-arm crossbows. I don't think she'd use a crossbow, though." She seemed to really consider it. "I went ahead and left my whips, staffs and nun-chucks at home, since they take a certain amount of skill that I know she doesn't possess. I also didn't want you to hurt yourself with them." She gave us that creepy grin, like having an arsenal big enough to defeat the underworld was a completely normal thing. Don't think I missed it when she said that she'd only brought a few of each collection, this wasn't even all of it.

"I don't want the baby to get into this stuff," Bella worried.

"I keep it locked up." She held up a little combinations lock and sealed up her case again. "The current combination is 'Renee' for now. I always change it to the suspect's name. It makes it easier to remember. I'd like to hold off on attacking her if possible. Obviously, if she comes in swinging, we'll have to take her down, but if she's feeling chatty, then I want her to keep digging her own prison grave." Again with the grin, I swear I shivered. There was no way in hell I'd ever willingly get on her bad side.

The way Alice watched me constantly made my skin crawl. I didn't like the way she looked at me or my girl. I was second guessing letting her stay here. I called Newton to double check if Renee was really in the area. She was, and Newton tried to reassure me that Alice hated all men, not just me.

I found that hard to believe. Jasper Whitlock had come to visit a few times, "just to go over prompts to get Renee to talk," at least that was Alice's story. I called bullshit. I would swear that little demon grew wings in Mr. Whitlock's presence, and him devil horns. The pair of them was a match made in hell.

I was glad to see the backside of that cock shifter. I didn't think that devil had less than three horns around Alice. The way they plotted with their heads together, one would think they were throwing Renee a surprise party.

The only good thing about having creepy Alice around the house was she gave my girl more time to rest. Bella actually went to bed early, while Alice took care of Jacob, and I worked on an assignment. Alice knew to bring my son to me when he was asleep. I had told her to, but I was still startled to find her behind me when I stretched in my chair. She was a sneaky little shit.

"He's asleep."

I glared at her, but she didn't flinch. "I see that." Once my eyes were off of her and focused on my boy's relaxed face, I settled down. I cuddled my son, nuzzling him on my shoulder. It always amazed me how tiny he was and yet at the same time, how much he had grown. He was so much bigger now than when he was born, but his little bum still fight right in the palm of my hand. He was such a sweet tiny thing. I tucked him into his bed and made sure the monitor was on. I was taking first shift tonight since I had to be up to work anyways.

I made my way into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee when that little demon of a woman cornered me. "Jesus, woman, aren't they missing you in hell yet?"

"You don't like me because I can see what you are."

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

"Think about it, Edward. It's pretty obvious you're an abuser."

"What?" I was ready to toss this nut job out the door.

"It's in Bella's nature to be drawn to abusers."

"I've never hurt her."

"You don't have to. You've set rules that she's not allow to break."

"I don't have rules."

"That I don't believe for one minute. If there are no rules, then why does Bella never leave the house unless accompanied by you?"

"It makes her nervous."

She shook her head at me, "I'm a federal agent, Edward. I'm trained to spot liars, rapist, abusers, and most importantly, victims. That woman in there is a victim."

"Of Phil's, not mine!" I yelled but quickly shut up, not wanting to wake the baby.

She hopped up on the kitchen island and crossed her legs. "She vacuumed yesterday."

"So, I've vacuumed since we've lived here, too. She's not my slave."

"No, but she is your prisoner. I saw how your eyes narrowed when she approached the front door. She was just getting the vacuum out of the closet by it, but you didn't know that, and you were getting ready to reprimand her."

"That's bullshit," I waved away her words that were the solid truth. I had been ready to shout at Bella and lock her in the back room if she moved for the doorknob.

"As I said, Edward, I'm trained to spot a liar." She slid off the counter and looked back before she exited the room. "You should know, I don't leave victims behind to be abused."

"You're not taking my girl!" I stormed up to her, and she didn't flinch one bit when we were toe to toe. I literally had a good foot of height over her, but she stood her ground, totally unnerving me. The bitch was crazy.

"That's where you're mistaken. Bella is her own girl. It's her choice."

I smiled, giddy; I knew my girl would never leave me. "Then let her make the choice. I know she'll stay here. She'd never leave me."

"I could make sure she's safe."

"You don't know how to keep her safe," I growled down at the little shit. "She can't handle herself around men. They don't listen to her, and she doesn't have the conviction to fight them. She stays with me, and I don't let her out of my sight to keep her safe. The last man that was left alone with her was trying to rape her, and I threw him out of her damn house! You can't keep her safe. Not the way I can. She can't leave. You can't take care of her the way she needs."

She let out a huff and shook her head like she didn't hear a damn word I'd said. I was ready to toss the little beast out the damn window. "I know you think you're doing the right thing, but you're not. I just hope the shrink you're seeing can get both your heads straight."

I was a tense mess with Dr. Rogers during our next visit. I worried that he saw me as a threat to Bella as well, so much so that the first words out of my mouth were, "You can't take her."

"Who are you talking about?"

"You know who. You can't take Bella from me. She needs me."

"I believe you're right. From what I gathered at our last session together, she seemed to lean on you quite a bit for strength." He looked at my girl who was sitting beside me. She hadn't said a word when I demanded he not take her. She just curled into my side, hiding her face. I ran my fingers through her hair, hoping to calm her.

"I hope she'll become more comfortable with me during your session so that she can handle visiting with me alone during her session. It's important that she be able to talk to me. If she can't handle being in my presence, I can always get one of my female colleagues to take her on instead."

I frowned; Dr. Rogers seemed to understand our dynamic better than anyone else. I didn't want any anti-man chic filling her head with shit. "No, I think you'll do fine," I kissed the top of my girl's head.

"Alright, now that that's settled, on to the good stuff. What did you pick up from the dads milling around you? Anything fun to report?" He gave me that excited creepy grin only he could pull off.

"Yeah, I guess. I watched a show, and the dad on it was letting his kids do whatever they wanted. I didn't like it."

"Good, good, tell me what bugged you the most about it."

"He didn't seem to care about all the trouble they got into, and even though he helped them get out of it, I think he could've stopped it all before the kids had to go through all that mess."

"You're probably right. Fathers have a much stronger influence over their children than society gives them credit for. Generally, the idea is that the child only needs the mother, and a father plays only a minimal role, but that's not true at all. You're very important in little Jacob's life, Edward, always remember that."

I nodded, feeling the weight of his words, but it was a good weight.

"Now, did you see anything you liked?"

"Yeah, this guy at the grocery store was pushing his kid in the cart. He was asking him what he wanted, and he started talking to him about how veggies grew big muscles. He started flexing and had his little boy flex. He said, 'Let's grow them super big together and pick out something fun to eat,' and then he let his son pick out a head of broccoli."

"That's great, not only was he nurturing his son's self-esteem, he was teaching him about nutrition. That's so important nowadays with obesity running rampant in children."

"Yeah, I thought so. I also saw this guy buckling his kid into his car seat. The kid was losing it, fighting like it was the electric chair."

"That's a very common response for children. Most hate car seats, but one, it's against the law for them to be out of one, and two, they're more liable to distract the driver being out of their seat and cause a collision that would most likely be fatal. How do you think that situation should be handled?"

"I don't know. How do you get a kid to stop crying? When Jacob fusses, I just pass him to Bella." I looked down at my girl. She had her eyes closed and was breathing softly. I was pretty sure she was asleep.

"Sometimes as a father, we have to do things that'll upset our kids to keep them safe. They may not like it and be angry with us for a short time, but the fact that they're alive should be worth the fuss. With time, they'll come to realize that you were doing it because you loved them, not because you were being mean."

"Man, that sucks."

He chuckled, "Yeah, it does. I gained my kids' trust by telling them not to do something, but letting them do it anyways. Nothing too dangerous, obviously, but enough to see that I was telling them no because I love them. After a few lessons, your son will learn to trust you when you tell him no. You have a while before that happens. Right now, you get to help your son through some milestones. He'll start talking soon, and no is often one of the few first words a child picks up. It's important to teach him the meaning of no. The way to do that is respect him when he says it, if it's possible. If he doesn't want one food, offer him a second choice. If he wants down instead of up, put him down. Once you teach him the meaning of no, you can use it yourself."

"No sucks."

"It does, but it's a parent's most important word next to the phrase, 'I love you.' How often did you hear the words 'no' and 'I love you' from your parents?"

I turned my nose into my girl's hair; the damn doctor was making sense. My parents very seldom talked to me, let alone told me no. I couldn't even remember the last time they'd said, "I love you."

"You came here because you wanted to be a better father. I can see those wheels turning in your head."

"I can't remember them saying 'I love you.' My parents were always telling me I was a troublemaker, but they never said no. They were never around for me to ask them anything."

"You plan to be around, though?"

"Yeah."

"Then that's where you're different, and that's a very good thing. Your homework this time is to think of ways you want to be different. Think of things you wish your parents had said. You mentioned before that the father on the TV should've stepped in before the child had to go through that trail. I want you to think of a few examples in your own life and how you wished your parents had reacted differently. I think you know what a good father is, you're just having a hard time pinpointing it."

I nodded, I think he was right.

"Now, let's see if Ms. Swan is ready for her appointment."

I had thought Bella was asleep, but she peeked over at the doctor when he said her name.

"Would you like Edward to stay, or do you want to try a session on your own? Edward will be on the other side of that door. And when I say other side, I mean literally. I usually don't allow people to sit that close, because that position will give away a raised voice, but I think it's a good place to start. If you talk in a regular voice, he won't be able to hear you, but if you call for him, he can be in here in a heartbeat. Does that sound alright to the both of you?"

I nodded yes, and my girl looked up at me, took a deep breath, and pulled away, letting me go. The doctor led me to the door and pointed out a chair that looked to be moved there just for me, because it seemed to partially block the hallway. He then opened the door wider, showing Bella where I was sitting. I had to admit, this Dr. Rogers dude was pretty cool.

Bella's session must have gone smoothly because she never called for me and came out with a smile. I was relieved that things seemed to be alright with her. It was just another way to prove that crazy Alice was full of bullshit. I knew I was good for my girl, no matter what that demented freak said.