A/N... Goodness, I never thought I'd be here again...at least not with this set of characters. :) It's been 2 years since I finished An Angel's Promise and a year since I wrote the last outtake. O_o Wow! That's crazy. It so doesn't seem that long.
Okay, so I wanted to go over a few things before we start. Please. First, this has always been fun, lemony goodness, with splashes of music added, and that hasn't changed. This is also not going to be as long as the usual Angel stories. They averaged about 40-something chapters. This will probably be a little over half that. Okay?
Next, it's better if you've read the series and the outtakes because this will pick up right where the last outtake left off. I know for my new readers, that's a big deal and a lot of reading, but for those that have been following me since Broken Angel, this means nothing because they've reread it a million times (you know who you are...LOL).
And I'm not here to drag Angelward and his Bella through hell and back, so for some that are already nervous, just relax. Enjoy the ride. Yes, it says angst, but it's not what you're thinking. This is just a different type of plot for them. (A plot I have to really, truly thank JenRar for!) It'll have a dark theme to it merely due to the subject, but if you've read me before, then you know my rules for my fics – no cheating, no tragedy, and always HEA. Mm'kay?
Lastly... Oh, I know some of you have favorite characters that you're just itching to see. **cough** Kevin **cough** All of them will be back, though the family in Forks (Charlie, Sue...Jake and the wolves), they don't really play too prominently in this fic. But you'll hear about them eventually.
With that, I give you Haunted Angel... See me at the bottom.
"Sweet girl, would you please calm down?" Edward chuckled, shaking his head at me at the same time that he placed a hand on my thigh.
I grinned, tearing my gaze away from the car's window and landing on him. "I can't help it. I've missed them." I laughed softly, shrugging a shoulder. "They've been gone for months."
"I know, Bella," he sighed, wearing a patient smile below his warm butterscotch eyes, "but you're going to break the seatbelt."
I forced myself to sit back in the seat of his newly-acquired Volvo SUV. "Heaven forbid I harm your precious car..." I muttered with a teasing roll of my eyes, squeaking when the comforting hand on my leg suddenly attacked my side. "Okay, okay, okay," I conceded, smacking at him.
The signs for the Portland, Maine, airport came into view, and Edward cast me one more indulgent smile before turning off the highway. I opened my mouth to ask a question, but he beat me to it, having heard the question in my mind.
"Their flight is on time, love. I checked on my phone when we stopped for gas," he explained, again sounding more patient than he probably was at the moment.
Narrowing my eyes at him, I sighed. "I'm driving you crazy. I've been driving you crazy for the last two hundred miles."
He laughed. "Never," he said, but I was pretty damn sure he was lying. That thought only caused him to laugh harder. "I'm not lying. I promise." He pulled into a parking space in the garage, sighed, and gazed over at me. "I know you've missed them...missed all of them. You won't for long. Soon, you'll be complaining that there are too many of them in the house."
Grinning, I nodded, leaning into his hand that was now cupping my cheek. "Probably," I admitted with a giggle, kissing his lips before he got out to come to my door.
He was right. It happened all the time. We'd live together – all of us – drive each other crazy, and then we'd go off, do our own thing as couples for a few months, only to drift right back together as a family. But my family had been split apart for a few months, and I was ready to catch back up with them.
We hadn't lasted long at Rochester Academy. None of us could focus, so come spring break, Rose and Emmett had decided to pay a visit to the Denali clan as a show of goodwill. Kate and Irina were still mourning the loss of their sister, Tanya, despite all that had occurred in New York. Alice and Jasper, however, had decided to check out Mississippi and her past, visiting her hometown, her old house, and even the asylum in which she'd been committed all those years ago. Edward had said that Alice needed some sort of closure after her sire's death, so Jasper had taken her. None of us went back to school.
Edward and I had stayed with Esme and Carlisle to close up the last of our lives in New York because it was time to move on. It was decided by Carlisle, and we'd all agreed, that we needed someplace remote, someplace to take a break from schools and hospitals – though we all had a bet going to see how long Carlisle could last under a roof with all of us and not work. The stakes were incredibly high.
"He won't survive it," Edward whispered in my ear as we made our way through the airport to baggage claim.
Giggling, I gazed up at him. "No...no, you're probably right. He may decide that changing us was a huge mistake."
Edward laughed, drawing the attention of a group of women walking by because yeah, he was gloriously sexy when he laughed. Whatever their thoughts were only made him draw me closer and drop a kiss to the top of my head.
"Have they landed yet?" I asked, and Edward pulled out his phone.
"No," he said, shaking his head. "Carlisle said he'd call when they landed in Rome. I'm guessing another few hours. We'll be almost at the new house by then."
I snorted softly at the term "new." It wasn't a new house by any means. It was ancient, but it suited us perfectly. I'd seen pictures when Edward and Esme were searching for a home that could contain us all. It looked like a rundown castle, completely falling into disrepair, but that was what had drawn Esme to it. She wanted a new project, and everyone was going to help.
"Hey, it was built the same year I was born. Ancient," Edward scoffed, looking terribly affronted...and adorable as he pouted.
I laughed, covering my mouth. "Sorry, baby."
He pursed his lips at me, rolling his eyes, and sighed, crossing his arms across his chest.
Standing up on my toes, I kissed his cheek. "Funny, you don't look a day over seventeen, handsome," I teased him, kissing the corner of his now-upturning mouth. "And for a hundred and fifteen, you're really, really sexy, Edward..." I purred, running my fingers through his unruly hair and smiling against his jaw when he chuckled darkly.
"Don't start something you can't finish, Mrs. Cullen," he warned with a growl in my ear as he wrapped a strong arm around my waist. "We're about to be trapped in a car with Alice and Jasper – you know, the two siblings that can see and feel everything we do."
Pouting, I sighed in complete defeat because the conveyor belt next to us kicked on, which indicated that Alice and Jasper's flight had just landed. I suddenly realized that the reappearance of family meant the disappearance of Dirty Edward, who had been roaming pretty free the last few months – well, as long as Carlisle and Esme weren't around.
Edward barked one harsh laugh. "You just now realized this, my beautiful girl?"
Scowling, I pushed him back. "Shut it," I grumped. "Damn it, I'll miss him..."
I turned toward the doorway where the passengers were exiting, but I was pulled back against Edward's hard chest, his mouth right at my ear.
"He's not far, baby. I promise you," he whispered, his voice sounding like sin and thick, warm velvet. "He's merely laying low. He will come out when he needs to take care of what's...his."
The air in my lungs left in a heavy exhale because Edward knew what he was doing to me. It didn't help that his breath tickled the side of my neck just before his lips kissed the soft spot behind my ear. God, I just loved it when he talked like that, and he knew it, fed it, nurtured it. It didn't matter how long we'd been married, how much alone time we got to spend together, or even how deeply we were connected. There was nothing like the sound of prim and proper Edward telling me in every way possible how he was going to fuck me senseless. His foul mouth was the best-kept secret in the family. There was even a bet on whether or not Edward talked dirty. The ante was enormous – cars, houses, European vacations. Everyone was in on it, and Edward and I acted like we had no idea what they were going on about.
I spun to look at him, fighting like hell to keep my eyes from blackening in want of him. "Promise?" I asked, my voice barely there.
"I fucking swear it," he growled low, raising a deadly eyebrow at me. "I'd take you to the closest bathroom now and make you scream my name just so the entire state of Maine knows who you belong to, but they're here." He jerked his chin a little toward the gate, but his warm, sweet gaze swirled black for a brief moment, never leaving my own.
Edward grinned evilly, dragging his tongue along his bottom lip. I wanted to laugh, but I didn't. This was just us, just the teasing and flirting that we'd always done. And I loved it. I loved that the intensity hadn't faded, that we wanted each other with every breath, and that it only took us the blink of an eye to lose ourselves in the little bubble we always seemed to create around us.
"Not fair, baby," I murmured, stepping out of his embrace when I heard our names called. You so owe me, Edward Cullen, I thought to him before turning my attention Alice, who was making her way to us at barely a human pace.
"Gladly, Bella," Edward promised, unable to contain his chuckle.
"I missed you guys!" Alice squealed, beaming from ear to ear as Jasper dragged their things along behind him.
"Me, too," I said, hugging her fiercely.
Alice practically knocked the wind out of Edward when she hugged him, but I felt Jasper's arm drape heavily across my shoulders.
"You ready to get your construction on, Bella?" he drawled in my ear.
Rolling my eyes, I sighed. "Ugh, no. I think Esme bought the biggest, ugliest project she could find just to keep us all busy and under the same roof for a while," I told him. "And notice she's not starting it with us..."
He grinned, squeezing my shoulder, and said, "We've got this. Don't worry."
"Come on, love," Edward said, holding his hand out for mine. "If we get on the road now, we'll make it right on time to meet the realtor for the keys by morning."
"We'll make it," Alice said knowingly, turning to me. "And the house will be perfect when we're all finished. Besides, the newest members of the family must learn to appreciate hard work."
Edward, Jasper, and I laughed, shaking our heads.
"Poor Adrian. He'll have no idea how to contain the hurricane that is Kevin once decorating comes into the picture," I said sarcastically, but in all reality, we were all excited to finally have Kevin and Adrian join us.
They'd taken the year to allow Kevin to adjust to his immortality and Adrian to get used to the vegetarian diet. In fact, it was Carlisle and Esme that were picking them up in Italy. We were all meeting at the new house.
As we made it to the car and loaded Alice and Jasper's luggage into the back next to ours, I asked, "So...how was the south?"
The girls chatted endlessly in the back seat as I made my way back out onto the highway. Their thoughts were happy that they were reunited, which only caused Jasper to push that happiness back out into the car. Once they were deep into talk of sunshine, hot weather, and the fashion in Atlanta, Jasper turned to me.
"When are Rose and Em meeting us?"
"End of the week," I told him. "They want to drive. Something about hunting in Canada along the way."
"And the rest?"
"Carlisle reserved a private plane for next Monday...just as a precaution for Adrian and Kevin." I sighed, smirking over at his chuckle because his thoughts were along the same lines as Bella's had been. "Right. We get the enjoyable job of starting this thing. The realtor said we've got our work cut out for us because no one has lived in this house for over ten years. It'll have to be completely gutted in some rooms."
He laughed and groaned at the same time, his head falling back to the headrest. "Good thing we don't sleep."
"Exactly," I agreed.
It wasn't the first time that Esme had decided to completely redo a house. Though, this was the first time since my Bella had joined the family. It was tedious, dirty work. Our strength, speed, and – like Jasper had mentioned – lack of the need to sleep made the work go by quickly. However, this was an extremely large house, with several bedrooms, three floors, a rather large basement, an attic, and a back deck – all of which needed tending to. Esme had bought it at an estate sale, so there were things that were left inside from previous owners that needed to be thrown out. It also was located just outside a small town. Esme had put the four of us in charge of getting things started. I'd already ordered a construction dumpster to be delivered, had some supplies ready to be picked up, but there was still the matter of meeting the realtor, getting the keys, and starting the cleanup of whatever stuff had been left behind. Because we were starting right away, the utilities were already on.
"Mom said to salvage whatever original parts we could," I said, laughing when he groaned again.
"Of course she did," he sighed.
Despite our sarcasm and complaining, it didn't really take much for Esme to convince us to take on this project. It was a chance to take a break from the facade we put up for humans. The house was located just outside Caribou, Maine, and it was deep enough in the woods and far enough away from humans that we could relax for a few years, especially under the guise of not only renovating a home, but that all of the "kids" were being home-schooled – the latter part having been suggested by Bella. We could still play the part of the adopted and foster children of Carlisle and Esme Cullen, but we didn't have to lock ourselves down to the tedious schedule of high school. After a little research, we discovered that home-schooling was becoming a much more widely accepted form of education, not to mention extremely easy for us to fake work, tests, and participation.
The drive north through Maine was scattered with small towns, the occasional conversation, and plenty of music. By the time we crossed over into Caribou, the sun was rising to a fairly cloudy day – a large reason that we'd picked Maine. Caribou claimed that it had an average two hundred and nine overcast days a year. It was only behind Forks by a few days.
"At least it's bigger than Forks," my sweet girl muttered sarcastically from the back seat.
"But smaller than Rochester," Alice sighed, her mind already forlorn at the minimal shopping she'd be able to accomplish in Caribou. When I laughed, she slapped my shoulder. "Shut up, Edward!"
"Relax, darlin'," Jasper soothed, unable to hold back his snicker. "There's always New Brunswick," he suggested. "It's just across the border."
That seemed to placate Alice for the moment, but she was already making a list of websites that she needed to order from.
I continued through town, driving slowly enough that we could see it, but we were nearing the time that the realtor, Mrs. Delap, was to meet us at the house. I could see that Caribou was the typical smaller town. Strip malls, drug stores, and large chain discount stores were everywhere. There were a few bars, a movie theater, and plenty of fast food places. However, they became fewer and fewer as we neared the far side of town.
"She's already here," I told them as I pulled into the long driveway that could barely be seen just off the main road leading out of town. "Let's get this over with."
I pulled up next to a burgundy Ford Expedition and the construction dumpster that had already been delivered, turning off the engine. I had to chuckle at Bella's mind because she was kind of right. Up close, the house looked like a rundown castle. Its gray stone walls had ivy growing up one side, there were a few windows that needed to be replaced, and there was even a part of the attic that looked like damn tower.
"Come on, Rapunzel," I teased her, grinning when she scoffed at me. "You can let down your hair once we get the keys and do the walk-through."
She rolled her eyes, thinking she didn't fit Rapunzel, but Belle from Beauty and the Beast instead – something about the love of books and the color of their hair.
"Call me Beast, and you will pay, Isabella," I growled, which caused our siblings to roar into laughter. "I wasn't that bad when we met."
"Yes, you were," Jasper and Alice chanted together.
Bella fought her smile, glancing briefly over to the woman that was waiting for us at the front door. My girl held up her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart. "You were just a little cranky, baby. But I fell in love with you anyway."
I harrumphed, rolling my eyes and turning my attention to Mrs. Delap. She was eying us with way too much curiosity for my liking. She was an older woman, with graying hair and a round physique. Even from the driveway, I could smell the ketchup that had spilled from her lunch. She liked her fast food. Her mind – which had been going over her schedule for the rest of the day – was now taking in the "kids" that she'd been asked by Carlisle to meet. He'd told her that we'd be taking possession of the house in his place, as he was picking up two new foster children from overseas.
We fit the ages she'd had in mind, but she hadn't been prepared for our looks or our money. Our clothes and my car were one thing, but she was well aware that the house had been paid for in full. This particular house had been on the market prior to her even getting her realtor's license. The fact that it was bought sight unseen, paid for in full, and going to a large family was a shock to her.
"Mrs. Delap?" I asked, trying to read her mind while remembering my manners. When she nodded, I smiled, offering her my hand. "I'm Edward Cullen. I'm sorry if we're late."
"No, no," she replied with a chuckle, waving off the apology. "I was early. I wanted to make sure all the keys worked for you."
"Thank you. This Alice, Jasper, and Bella," I introduced.
Mrs. Delap was shocked at my manners, wondering why her own teenage daughter couldn't find a boy so well-behaved. But she smiled pleasantly, shaking my wife's and my siblings' hands all the same. Her mind was skirting just on the edge of thinking Alice and Jasper were more than just siblings when I interrupted her.
"My father asked us to do the final walk-through for him," I urged her, but it wasn't truly necessary. It didn't matter what was broken, in disrepair, or left behind. We would be taking care of all of it. Plus, I could see by Alice's mind that the woman wasn't going to let it slide.
"Well, let's get started, Edward," she said, taking out the keys and opening the door.
"Cree-py," Bella whispered just low enough the human didn't hear her, gazing around.
Jasper snorted, shoving her playfully. "Looks like Dracula's house," he egged her on.
"Emmett's gonna love this place," Alice added with a chuckle, her nose wrinkling in disgust. "He'll want to keep it just as it is."
Grinning, I nodded in agreement but followed Mrs. Delap around, playing the dutiful son. I nodded when she pointed out the older copper piping, the spots on the roof that needed repair, and even managed to steer her upstairs in order to get the walk-through finished. The more I saw, the more I started to agree with Bella. The house gave off a strange odor and an even stranger feel to it, though I tacked it up to being uninhabited for the last decade. There were leftover pieces of furniture, a few crooked doors, and just about every inch of the wood flooring would have to be either buffed or replaced.
Once we'd seen the second and third floors and the attic, we landed back down on the first floor to see Bella sliding open two doors to reveal a library.
"Oh, wow," she breathed, immediately stepping into the room. Edward totally should put the piano in here, she thought to herself.
Fighting my smile, I walked to the doorway, my eyebrows raising high. It was a large library with a high ceiling, complete with shelf upon shelf of aging books along three walls, an enormous fireplace, and tall, arch-topped windows facing the backyard, which included the woods surrounding us. My sweet girl was already lost in titles and authors as her small finger trailed spine after spine. She'd already found her favorite room, and we hadn't even moved in yet. The thought made me chuckle and fall just a little bit deeper in love with her.
"The books come with the house," Mrs. Delap said from behind me. "They simply get passed on every time someone moves. Though, I'm afraid some of them may be ruined from the harsh weather."
Bella frowned, looking like someone kicked a puppy in front of her, and then glanced over the shelves again. "That's a shame..."
The woman gestured toward the windows. "Well, couple years back, some windows were broken. We don't know if it was the blizzard that blew through here or rambunctious kids, but this room saw the worst of it. We sorted through them as best we could once the damage was repaired, but we may not have gotten it all."
My gaze snapped from Bella to Mrs. Delap when her mind skirted across the real reason most people thought the place had been damaged. The whole town considered this house to be haunted. At her own thoughts, the human's heart thudded just a touch harder, and her frame shuddered.
"Are you kids staying here alone?" she asked, suddenly concerned for our well-being.
"Yes, ma'am," Bella answered, joining us at the door and giving me a concerned look. Your face looks strange, baby. What's she thinking? Her thoughts were directed toward me, but her voice was soft and kind for Mrs. Delap. "We've got air mattresses and sleeping bags in the car. We'll be fine. Our parents will be here by the weekend." The lie rolled off her tongue smoothly, but she waited for my reply.
"Later," I answered her just low enough the woman couldn't hear me.
"Well, the temperature drops at night. You kids be careful with these old fireplaces."
"Yes, ma'am. We will," Bella and I both vowed.
"Good," she said with a tight smile. "Then let me show you the basement. We're just about done."
Yo, Ed. That woman really, really doesn't want to go down there, Jasper thought to me from the end of the hallway. Her fear is making her sweaty and jittery. In fact, it's only increased the longer she's been here.
I nodded once that I'd heard him because her thoughts were running along the same line. She didn't like dark, damp, closed tight spaces, and the basement was apparently all of those things. But she couldn't decide if she believed the old rumors about this place or not. A flashing thought of the prior tenants caught my attention, but it changed as quickly as it came.
"I think we'll be okay on our own with that, Mrs. Delap," I said smoothly, letting out a slow breath when Jasper pushed a little comfort her way. "The girls want something to eat after we unload the car, so we'd better get started," I lied, giving her a brief smile at the same time I gestured toward the car. "Let me see you out."
"Oh, thank you, Edward," she sighed, again noting my manners and then switching gears on me quickly. "Will you kids be starting at Caribou High this year?" she asked.
I smiled and shook my head. "No, ma'am. We're home-schooled. Our parents are scholars, so they prefer to teach us themselves. Our father is a doctor, though he's taking a little time off at the moment."
"Not for long," Jasper sang softly behind me, which made me want to laugh.
He was betting Carlisle didn't last until the end of the month. Bella and I were thinking closer to two months. Emmett and Rose were pushing for the end of our first week here with everyone under one roof. Even Esme was in on it. She was betting he ran screaming from the house by Thanksgiving. Only Alice knew the outcome, and at the moment, she was grinning widely as she translated Moby Dick into ancient Egyptian.
Mrs. Delap handed over the keys after telling me which ones were which – the front door, the back door, the garage, and the padlock on the outside basement door – once we were on the front porch.
I stepped back inside, glancing up to see Bella and my siblings waiting for me. "What?" I asked, tucking the set of keys into my pocket. I needed to have copies made for everyone.
"Well?" Bella laughed. "What had you staring at her like she had three heads?"
"Oh!" I chuckled. "She thinks – or at least the legend around here is – this place is haunted."
Jasper laughed, but Bella shrugged a shoulder, raising an eyebrow at me and saying, "You have to admit this place is creepy. I mean...all you need is the moat, and the Beast would have his castle."
Ignoring Alice and Jasper, who were now in hysterics, I bolted after Bella with a growl. She'd taken off at her top speed toward the back of the house. She dodged into the kitchen, yanking open the closest door, only to disappear into darkness.
"I'll show you beast, Bella," I taunted her, flying down the basement steps and laughing when I was jumped from behind.
Mmm, that is a beast, isn't it? Her thoughts were sensual and sexy.
Reaching back, I spun her around to my front and pressed her into the nearest wall. "Flattery won't save you this time." I chuckled, holding her tighter when she started to squirm in protest.
She squealed when I started to tickle her. "No, no!" she gasped, fighting uselessly against my hands. Her face was happy, silly, and just plain sweet. "Okay, okay...you weren't that cranky when we met."
I laughed. "Yes, I was," I sighed, bracing my hands on either side of her head and pressing my forehead to hers. "But you loved me anyway. You just said so," I told her, looking up at her through my eyelashes – a look I knew she couldn't resist.
She grinned, rolling her eyes, and cupped my face. "I did. Insanely enough, I did. I've never regretted a second of it, either."
I couldn't resist kissing her. I lived to see her happy, and for the last few months, she'd been absolutely blissful, despite missing our brothers and sisters. Even though we'd gone to a school that had required a uniform, she'd maintained her happiness. In fact, all through the fighting in New York with Tanya, she'd stayed perfectly content with me. She'd played, laughed, teased, and just been utterly blissful in her life with me. When I first met her, I'd never wanted to change her, but now, I couldn't imagine her any other way. She'd taken to this life better than any of us. And after a little over seven years of immortality, she was still embracing each and every day with open arms and a bright outlook.
Fingers slipped into my hair, hips pressed together and lined up perfectly, and tongues slipped languidly together as we fell into one another.
"Aw, guys... Really?" Jasper growled from the first floor.
Bella giggled against my lips, pulling back just a little, but her nose wrinkled. "God, this place smells funny."
Chuckling, I tugged her away from the wall, patting her bottom before setting her down. "Yeah, we need to air it out," I said, giving the basement a disdainful glance. "The smell is sharper down here."
The basement was brick, dark, and extremely damp. It also seemed to be almost half the size of the first floor. I could see the steps leading up to the outside at the far end, pipes running along the ceiling, and a few cracked bricks.
"We should check the fireplaces, too. The heat will take away the moisture out of the air," she suggested.
"Okay," I sighed, leading her back up to the kitchen, where Alice and Jasper were waiting for us. "Let's get started. Esme will owe us big for this."
I leaned in the doorway of the library and shook my head slowly as I rubbed my chest at Edward's absence. It was such a waste. There was almost an entire bookshelf filled with books that had to be thrown out. There were print dates that went all the way back to the 1800s. I hated it, but there wasn't anything that could've been done to save them. I'd left this room for last because the thought of getting rid of something so old, so rare bothered me to no end.
The rest of the house was almost completely empty of leftover furniture, garbage, and ruined doors and drywall. Every fireplace had been swept out and lit, and every window had been opened for the last few days. The funny smell that had permeated the house was slowly ebbing away. While the guys worked on the roof and some of the problems outside, Alice and I had tackled the inside. We'd stripped every room, scrubbed the floors, and wiped down the walls.
We had even assigned rooms to every couple. Carlisle and Esme would be taking the master bedroom located on the first floor just on the opposite side of the living room. Alice wanted the room on the second floor because it had French doors that led out to a small balcony...and the biggest closet. They would share that floor with Kevin and Adrian because Jasper would be the most help to them once they were here. Emmett and Rose were getting the third floor bedroom, which left Edward and me the attic, and that was perfect because I loved that room. It was split-level, the raised portion of the room being the round part of the tower. It was surrounded by windows, and once the room was cleaned out, the windows cleaned, and the measurements taken to add a bathroom for us, I couldn't imagine taking any other room in the house – balcony or no balcony. The round part of the room was where the bed was going; it was a must. In fact, Edward had built us a pallet of blankets and sleeping bags right where I wanted our bed to go.
The only room none of us wanted to deal with was the basement. We were waiting for Emmett because not only did some of the bricks need to be replaced, but there were a few sections of the concrete floor that needed busting up and poured again. Knowing him, he could lift large sections of the floor without even straining. We all could, really, but we were saving it for him in paybacks for taking his sweet time joining us.
"You ready?" Alice asked, tugging the rolling garbage can behind her after taking it out to the dumpster.
"Yeah," I sighed, wrinkling my nose. "Open the windows, and I'll roll up this rug. Are the boys back yet?"
Alice rolled her eyes before wrenching up the windows. "No, but they're almost done at the hardware store. Edward's ordered your bathroom stuff. You trust him with that?"
Grinning, I shrugged a shoulder. "Yeah, he saw what I wanted," I told her, tapping my temple. "And he doesn't really care, so...there you go."
"Convenient," she teased with a giggle. "Now, imagine something shiny and expensive."
I laughed, picking up the rolled up rug. "I have plenty of shiny and expensive. Edward does really well in that department. Music?" I asked, slipping the smelly old rug into the garbage can.
"Definitely," she called over her shoulder as she began to pick up the trash.
After clearing off the mantel, I put my iPod up there with two speakers, setting the player to random. Once a fire was lit in the fireplace, I gazed around at the books on the shelves. It seemed the shelf closest to the window was the one I'd need to concentrate on. Even from across the room, I could see mold, swollen, broken spines, and ruined pages. Carrying the ladder and dragging the garbage can over, I started at the top.
"Poor guys, though," she continued, covering her mouth with her hand. "Esme just called them with a list of every color of paint known to man." She laughed, shaking her head. "Guess what we're doing tomorrow..."
"Oh, damn. You know," I growled, pointing a destroyed book at her, "I'm not so sure we haven't been set up. Everyone is taking their dear, sweet time getting here. By the time everyone arrives, this place will look perfect."
"No kidding," she agreed, laughing. "Esme's already ordered window treatments, rugs, bedding, and artwork. That'll all be here about the time everyone arrives, too."
I shook my head and went back to work, dancing a little to the music pouring out of my small speakers. I actually couldn't wait until we were all under one roof again – all the hard work aside. I wanted to know how our extended family was in Alaska, and Rose promised to tell us all about their time when they got here. I also wanted to know how everyone in Italy was doing. We hadn't seen Demitri and Carina since London. Marcus was still running the Volturi and doing an amazing, open-minded job. And then there was Kevin. When he'd finally called a couple of months ago to tell Carlisle that he and Adrian were ready to come back to the States, the girls and I had squealed with happiness over the phone. We missed him like crazy and had visited him over the year that he was gone, but it wasn't enough. He'd been changed under strange circumstances, but Adrian and he were, for all intents and purposes, our baby brothers. They also were the only male-male mates the immortal world had ever seen.
"You know...after this room and the boys polish the floors, we'll be ready for the movers," Alice noted, nodding once in a self-satisfied way. "I mean, we still have painting to do, but we can at least get our own shit in here."
I laughed, tossing a handful of old, outdated encyclopedias into the can at my feet. "Yeah, well, at least you have your own bathroom..."
"You will, too, in about..." Her eyes glazed over as she searched the future. "In about two days."
"Nice!" I grinned, shaking my head. "Until Em and Rose get here, we're using theirs."
"They'll be here by Saturday," she stated firmly.
Alice and I had gotten most of the shelves sorted, cleaned, and put back together by the time we were almost punch drunk with doing the same old thing. The floors were swept and then vacuumed, the garbage taken out to the dumpster, and the music was up as loud as we could get it. Pitbull was blaring throughout the entire house as Alice and I danced.
In order to understand the future,
We have to go back in time...
I loved this song. It was the throwback to old sixties music, which only reminded me of Dirty Dancing. I was standing on a ladder, swaying to the beat when the scent of honey and fresh, clean linen wafted over me. Grinning and shielding my thoughts, I swayed more to the music. I turned around for the chorus, slipping down one more step on the ladder so that I was towering over extremely handsome, amused, and sweet.
Baby, oh oh baby
My sweet baby
You're the one
Chuckling at Jasper's air guitar behind Edward, I wrapped my arms around my husband's neck. He looked too delicious for words, wearing faded, slightly-worn-in-the-knees jeans, a dark gray sweater with a white T-shirt underneath, and a black leather jacket. I wanted to kiss him stupid. It was the simple, innocent things about Edward that made him so sexy, so irresistible. Add in his crooked smile, his strong hands guiding me against him as I continued to dance, and his warm, sweet amber eyes, and I couldn't help but lean down and kiss him.
"Love you," I whispered against his lips.
"Love you, too, sweet girl." He chuckled softly. "Having fun?"
"No!" I laughed, looking at him like he was crazy, which caused a laugh to bark out of him. "I think we have cabin fever."
"Well, we have to make another run," Edward said, smirking a little. "You girls want to take a break and go with us? We'll make it the last thing of the night."
I was already nodding as Alice practically screamed, "Yes!"
"I need a shower, though," I sighed, smiling when Edward lifted me off the ladder and set me gently on the floor. "I think I smell like these old books."
"You do...and cleaner and dust and..." Edward teased, shooting a wink my way when I grimaced. "Go." He chuckled, popping me once on the behind. "I'll run your water in the top floor bathroom. Get your clothes."
Edward had shed his jacket temporarily, started a warm bubble bath, and was leaning against the bathroom vanity looking at his phone when I met him in there. "Em just checked in," he said softly, holding up his phone before pocketing it. "They're stopping in Montana."
"Bear," we said at the same time with a laugh.
"Right," he agreed, taking my clothes from me and setting them aside. "Here, sweet girl, lift up," he commanded softly, reaching for the hem of my T-shirt. With gentle hands, he helped me undress and settle into the bathtub after I twisted my hair up out of the way.
Pushing his sleeves up his strong forearms, he asked me to lean forward. It was moments like this that made me love him all the more, made me feel not only taken care of, but completely and utterly cherished. Talented fingers massaged every inch of me as he washed my back, both my legs, and my arms. I smirked up at him when I realized his eyes had blackened.
"Maybe I should finish, or there'll be no going out, baby," I suggested with a giggle.
"Too beautiful," was all he murmured with a crooked smile and a shake of his head as I quickly finished up in the tub.
When I stood up, he wrapped a towel around me, setting me down in front of him. Edward, maybe... I thought to him, and his eyes locked with mine. Maybe when we get back, we can just...I don't know...hang out in here tonight. Just the two of us. We can paint tomorrow.
"I was going to suggest that, but...I knew you missed Alice and Jasper," he said so softly, leaning in to trail his nose from my collarbone, up my neck, to my ear, dropping slow, wet, open-mouthed kisses along the way.
"I missed them, but maybe I feel like being selfish for a few hours," I whispered back, tilting my head so that his kisses to my skin would continue.
"Mm, I like you selfish," he purred, his teeth dragging across the place where my pulse once would've been pounding. "I like you warm and fresh out of the bath, too," he continued, his voice vibrating straight to my core, making my breath hitch a little. Inhaling deeply, he pulled back, licking his lips dangerously. "You smell good enough to...eat," he growled low, leaning on the last word for emphasis.
"Edward," I warned, wanting more than anything to take this where it always went, but I could already hear Alice's threats from two floors down. She wanted to go out.
Grinning sexily, he shrugged, kissed my lips quickly, and sighed. "Later, then."
"Please," I said simply, sidestepping him for my clothes, which I put on in a hurry so as to not tempt ourselves any further. I tugged my hair down, applied a little makeup, and put on my sneakers before walking back up to our room to see Edward holding out my jacket. "Thanks," I said, letting him help me into it.
"Ready, love?" he asked but paused for a moment. "Oh, I got you something."
"What?" I asked, smiling up at him.
"You'll see. I'll give it to you when we get back up here, okay?" he asked, tucking my hair behind my ear and kissing my forehead.
The house creaked, the settling noises of an old house echoing around us, and I linked my fingers with Edward's. "Come on. Let's go," I told him. "Even the hardware store will be a nice change from this place until our stuff gets here."
Edward laughed and led me down the stairs.
"That was fun..." Bella chuckled sarcastically from across the room. "I guess the town really does think this place is haunted. Their faces were...interesting when they found out where we'd moved to."
I grinned, shaking my head, and continued to light candles. There wasn't a lot of light in the attic, something that would change once Emmett and Rose arrived because with their help, we could get mine and Bella's bathroom built, check out the electric, and finish the last of the floors.
"That's sad, baby," I teased her with a chuckle. "We went to the hardware store and a drug store. You can't be that hard up for human activities. We just left New York." I ignored the haunted house statement because it wasn't exactly a bad thing that humans were wary of coming up here.
She giggled. "No, it's not that," she said, walking toward me, and I wanted to groan at the sight of her. She was only in the dark red, long-sleeved shirt she'd worn into town and a black pair of cotton boyshorts. "We've been in this house for going on four days, Edward. The walls were closing in with all the cleaning we've been doing."
That I could understand, and I nodded as I kicked out of my socks and shoes. Tugging off my shirts, I draped them across our luggage. I really needed to get to work in here...if only for her. I picked up a brown paper bag and set it in the middle of our make-shift bed.
"Where's the shoebox, love?" I asked her, smirking when her head snapped up from her phone to meet my gaze. Her mind was filled with why. "Just tell me, silly girl."
"That suitcase over there," she said softly, pointing toward the corner of the room.
I found the box I was looking for and toted it back to the pile of blankets. Sitting between her and the wall, I set both the shoebox and the paper bag in front of her.
"I thought this might be better than my old Nike box, Bella," I told her, inching the bag closer.
I knew for a fact that Bella never moved without that box in her own personal possession. She didn't trust her brothers not to snoop, and she never wanted it to get lost by movers, either. It was every letter I'd ever written her. From the ones I'd penned while away from her for two years that I'd never had the courage to send, to the ones I'd passed her in every class, they were all in one tightly-packed box. And I'd be willing to bet they were in some sort of order.
Bella's beautiful brow wrinkled before she opened the bag. She pulled out the hand-carved wooden box I'd found at a shop in town. I'd needed to have keys made for every member of the family, and there had been a small shop downtown that not only made keys, but specialized in woodworking. The old man that owned the shop had been kind enough to engrave Cullen underneath an intricate design of hearts and music notes. It seemed fitting for her.
"Oh, it's perfect," she gushed, leaning forward to kiss me quickly before starting to transfer every letter over. Once the task was finished, she tossed my old Nike box to the side and set the wooden box next to the bed with an almost reverent look on her beautiful face. "You spoil me," she whispered, wearing the sweetest of smiles as she climbed into my lap.
"I try," I teased, placing my hands on her hips to pull her closer as I leaned back against the wall. I loved that she appreciated the simple things, though through the years, she'd gotten better at accepting the big things.
The electricity that seemed to always be around us crackled into a sparkling surge. It was there to remind us just how connected we were, just how perfect she was for me. Bella was my mate, my wife, my best friend...but she was also my completi l'anima – my complete soul. We were connected in a way that was so very rare, even among mated immortals. We couldn't be apart, or the pain would wreck us. Too far or too long apart, and we literally ached for one another. And apparently, my brief travels into town the last few days had tested that connection. It was a fact of our relationship that we'd had to come to terms with, had to learn to manage just like our thirst. Most of the time, we succeeded, but when we didn't, our connection pulled us to one another, which would explain the last few hours when I couldn't keep my hands off of her – in the tub, in the car, even in the drug store while picking up candles.
"Did you hurt today?" I asked her, raking my fingers through her hair.
"I didn't pay it any attention." Her voice was soft, her mind honest, but her eyes were warm when they traveled over my face as her fingers traced my eyebrows, nose, lips, and jaw line. "We were busy, and you had things to do. You?"
"A little," I sighed, shrugging a shoulder. "Maybe that's why I bought you something. I needed..."
"To be closer?" she offered, and I nodded. "I knew you'd be right back. And Alice was there. She kept me talking. Maybe she knew."
"Maybe," I said with a grin. "She usually does." Allowing my mind to stretch out into the rest of the house, I found that mine and Bella's feelings had pushed Jasper too far. We weren't alone in the amorous emotions swirling around the house.
"Well, thank you again," she told me, scooting closer, which caused a moan to erupt from her because she could feel I was already hard for her.
"You're so very welcome, my sweet, beautiful girl," I told her, but I couldn't stop myself from kissing her if I'd tried.
Our kiss was almost harsh but slowed down into something soft, languid. Hands were in hair, tongues swirled, and my low growl mixed with her sweet whimper as she rolled her hips heavily over me. I was so hard that it made my breathing stop, but I gripped her hips to do it again because she always felt so good. With a quick shift, I pressed her back into the blankets, grasping at her shirt and causing it to ride up. Skin, hands, and legs – that's all I was aware of at the moment.
I rolled her onto her stomach because I needed to feel every inch of her – under her shirt, the outside of her thighs, and biting kisses over the soft cotton of her underwear. Lifting her up, I pulled her back to my chest, and her bottom rolled sensually against my erection.
"Fuck," I hissed in her ear, which caused her to gasp because she never wanted my language to reach anyone outside of our relationship. "They're busy, baby. Trust me. God, do that again," I ordered her as her ass ground against me again. One of my hands shot underneath her shirt to find her breasts bare for me while the other flattened against her stomach to slip into her underwear. "Mmm, so wet, sweet girl," I whispered, nipping at the soft spot behind her ear. "So wet, so fast, love..."
She didn't have a verbal answer for me, though her mind blamed our connection for making her so ready, so wet. I gripped the side of her shirt, dragging it upwards as she rode my fingers, trying her damnedest to get me closer, deeper, harder.
"Uh uh," I chided in her ear. "Not yet, baby. I just want you that much wetter when I taste you."
I reached for the outside of her shirt, yanking it up and over her head. It landed somewhere in the middle of blankets and sleeping bags beside us. Bella fell forward, rolling quickly and pulling me down over her. Strong legs wrapped around my hips, but her kisses were deep, slow, and so sweet as her mind showed me that she wanted to watch what I was going to do to her.
"Like this?" I asked, my eyes never leaving hers as I bent to take her nipple into my mouth. I purred low against her skin when she arch up at the feel of my teeth.
Bella's eyes were black as her feet rubbed the outside of my jeans. A wicked smile crooked up the corners of her mouth. So hard, Edward. Looks like I'm not the only one...suffering. She bit her bottom lip, and through her mind, I could see she loved the look on my face when she tried to make me lose control.
Grasping the outside of her panties, I drew them down her legs and off her. "I can wait for mine," I growled, nipping at the inside of her knee, "but I can't wait for this." I licked my lips at the same time my fingers slipped through wet, hot, and swollen.
Slithering down her body, I dropped open-mouthed kisses along her stomach, each hip bone, and finally, her mound. The scent of her wanting me was the most perfect combination of flowers and sugar and an earthy fragrance that was all Bella. Not giving her a choice, I spread her legs wide, dying to feast on her. And feast I did. Long, slow kisses to her core – the source of my favorite flavor – and suckles to the bundle of nerves that always caused her to cry out my name. Her thighs surrounded my head, her feet dug into my back, and I gave her what she wanted – deeper, harder, faster.
"More," she added. "God, Edward...more."
Her hips rose up off the pallet, and I slipped two fingers deep inside her, curling them just right to send her over the edge. She came with stiff legs, hands gripping the blankets, and with the most stunning face I'd ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I loved that I was the only one that had ever seen or caused that face – that open-mouthed, breath hitching, eyes rolling back face. She was never more beautiful than when she came for me. I'd seen plenty of men fantasize about it, but not one mind came even close to the beauty of Bella in full orgasm. Not one.
"Mm," I purred, crawling up her body and burying my face in her neck. "Who does that sweet, sweet pussy belong to, my love?"
"You," she panted, threading her fingers into my hair. "Only you. I want you, Edward," she stated, pulling at me until I loomed over her, my hands braced on either side of her head. "Just like this."
Both of us reached for my jeans, shoving them down. I kicked out of them, locking gazes when my heavy, almost painfully-hard cock landed on her stomach.
Without having to beg her, she reached for me, gliding her hands up and down my shaft with the perfect amount of pressure, gathering what was leaking from me with her thumb. As she guided me to her entrance, I locked eyes with her.
"Inside, Edward," she ordered. "Make love to me."
There was the command I was waiting for – something that had been swirling over and over in her mind. It was a request I'd never denied her once I'd come back into her life, even when she was human. I couldn't. When I'd returned to her, I had finally accepted that she was my mate, my only one. And there wasn't anything that could've taken me from her again.
"You own me, Bella," I admitted softly as I slid home inside her.
"I love you," she whispered in reply against my lips, her hips rolling in order to take me in even farther.
Dropping to my elbows, I pulled out just to thrust deeply back inside of her. We'd been together for so long now, made love every way imaginable, but face to face was important. I often thought it was due to our being apart for so long because I lived to watch her under me. I needed to see her face just as much as she needed to see mine. Watching her eyes that she kept a deep brown just for me swirl into black wanton need was something that would never grow old.
Lifting her leg to the crook of my arm, I took her slow and deep, with swiveling hips and angles to the spot that always made her come hard. Smothering our cries out into each other's mouths, we lost ourselves to just the feel, sound, and sight of where we were connected.
"Come for me again, sweet girl," I begged her, pressing my forehead to hers. "Let me feel it. Tell me when you're coming."
The shadows of flickering candles danced across her skin, her face, the rise and fall of her breasts as I pushed up onto my hands. My Bella was beautiful in any light – sparkling in the sun, ethereal in shadows, but unbelievably stunning in the low light of a candle.
"Now, baby," she gasped, her eyes rolling back. "Fuck," she hissed long and low as her head arched back, but the feel of her tight, wet heat contracting around me was too much. It seemed I'd been hard for her for hours, so there was no staving off my climax.
"God, baby...you feel so fucking good," I told her, burying my face in her neck as my impending orgasm finally caused me to spill deep inside of her. I wasn't finished with her by any means because I planned on keeping her in that make-shift bed at least until morning.
Trying to ignore our siblings, I pulled out of her, turning us so that I was leaning against a pile of pillows. Bella curled into me, resting her head on my chest. Her thoughts were calm, happy, and content. She pulled the covers up around us, looking up at me.
We didn't say anything. We didn't have to. I could see her mind, which she left open for me more times than not. Tucking her hair behind her ear, I smiled as the warm brown in her eyes slowly came back.
"We have a lot to do tomorrow," she said softly, trailing her finger across my bottom lip. "Don't we?"
"If you want this room, then yes," I answered with a chuckle, wrapping my arm tighter around her as I wound a lock of her hair around my finger. "Em and Rose will be here by tomorrow night. With their knowledge of wiring and plumbing, we should be able to start the closet and the bathroom."
"'Kay," she sighed happily. "Guess that means Alice and I are caulking windows and painting walls."
I chuckled again, kissing her forehead. "If you want to leave each room so that its occupants have to paint it, I don't blame you one bit, Bella." I grinned at her giggle because she truly was debating it. "The rest of them will be here after the weekend. In four days, there'll be enough help in here to finish up the majority of the work and to unpack the moving truck. After that, Esme's on her own for decorating."
Bella laughed, burying her nose into my chest. "Paybacks for all of this?"
"Absolutely!" I cracked up, pulling her on top of me so that I could graze my fingers down her smooth, silky back, only to cup her bottom. I wanted her again, and it really wasn't a secret.
I leaned in to kiss her smiling lips but froze at the sound of an unfamiliar mind.
More... More monsters are coming? No...can't. Must...out...blood...
That last word caused me to roll Bella off me.
"Edward, what's wrong?"
"Someone's here," I breathed, quickly tugging on my jeans and pulling my T-shirt on over my head. "Get dressed, love," I told her, but she was already zipping up her own jeans and putting on a shirt. "Jasper! Alice!" I hissed as we both met the stairs barefooted.
They both emerged from their room dressed haphazardly like Bella and I were.
"What'd did you hear, Ed?" Jasper asked, frowning because he hadn't felt a single thing.
What worried me the most was that Alice hadn't seen anyone make a decision to come near the house.
"It was strange," I breathed as we made it to the back door of the kitchen. "It was like...a radio with a bad frequency. Not clear – at all. Spread out. All of you. Bella, lift that shield. I want to hear you."
They knew the drill to search for scents, track for footprints, even rely on each other's talents. Jasper took off toward the driveway. Alice and Bella went off to the left and right of the backyard, and I headed straight into the woods at the back.
But there was nothing. No footprints, no scent, no...anything. The mind was so quiet that I couldn't have said whether or not that it had been human or immortal. I could see through everyone's minds that they hadn't found anything, either, and Alice's mind showed no more than us going back inside completely frustrated.
By the time we'd searched the entire perimeter almost a mile radius from the house, we met back on the deck.
"I swear I heard someone," I vowed, shaking my head.
"Okay," Jasper drawled out, frowning as he gazed around the yard. "Maybe it was a car passing on the street."
"No," I growled, shaking my head. "No, this wasn't like that. Whoever it was called us monsters. There was so much fear there. You didn't feel it?"
"No, man. I swear," he vowed, "but I'll keep a watch out."
I nodded, running a hand through my hair. I looked to Alice, who had been really quiet through all of this. Her face was angry – totally and completely pissed off. She didn't like missing anything, especially if it meant protecting her family.
"Don't worry, Alice," I sighed. "Maybe... Maybe it was just someone passing through like Jasper said," I told her, not believing a word of it.
"I don't like that explanation," she huffed, crossing her arms across her chest. "But I don't see anyone else coming into our path until Emmett and Rose tomorrow night."
I nodded and let out a deep breath. "That's fine. Go back inside. I want to stay out here for a minute."
Alice and Jasper went in, but Bella stepped closer to me.
"You no more believe it was a passing car than the man on the moon, Edward. Talk to me," she whispered, forcing my gaze to hers.
"I...I don't know who it was," I admitted, shrugging a shoulder. "But it was real. I know it. And..."
"And they were scared," I told her, frowning at the thought. "Of us."
She sighed and took a long look around the yard just like Jasper had; only this time, I saw through her mind as she sent her shield out. She was searching, pushing, trying to find anything that she could, but she came up empty.
"Nothing," I stated.
She shook her head no, frowning at the thought. "Don't worry. We'll figure it out."
"I really did hear it," I reiterated.
She smiled softly, not doubting me a single bit. "I know, Edward. I believe you." She linked her fingers with mine, tugging me gently. "Come back inside. We'll take another look in the morning. Okay?"
Knowing she was placating me a little, I did as she asked after one more glance around the yard. I sighed, letting it go for now, and nodded. "Okay," I said, following her back into the stone house.
A/N... Okay, a few things you should know. The main thing is... Yes, Caribou, Maine, actually exists, and it's in the northern part of the state. However, their name and their weather is the only true things in this fic. I've completely made up anything you read about it – places, people, landmarks. Even the creepy house they just moved into.
And second, I will be speeding through the renovation process – just like I imagine these guys would do. They don't sleep, and they're incredibly fast and strong. Everything they need to do will be glossed over just a little.
Lastly, I will be posting pics and teasers, so look me up on Twitter (Drotuno) and FB (Deb Drotuno Rotuno).
This is betad by the beautiful JenRar, who I'm convinced I can't live without anymore. And my pre-readers are GooberLou and inkedupmom... I'm thanking all three of my girls now in advance. And I'll probably snot-sob thank them again when this is complete. LOL XD
Anyway, I hope you're glad Angelward is back. I wasn't aware just how much I've missed him until I started writing this. It was like slipping into a favorite pair of pajamas. :) See you next Wednesday... Mooches, Deb. :)