Previously, in Chapter Thirty-Four...
"Are you ready to meet our children, Mr. Cullen?" I asked him quietly, leaning back in his arms and staring up into his pine-green eyes. They were lined with eagerness and worry. Reaching up, I stroked his cheek and he gave me a small smile.
"I'm ready for our family to finally be complete," he answered, pulling me back to his chest and kissing my forehead once again.
We left a few moments later, Edward's large, slightly sweaty hand clasped firmly around my much smaller, shaky one. The car rolled down the dark Tennessee roads as we made our way to the hospital; as we made our way to our future.
Even through the pain medication-induced fog that I drifted in and out of, I heard the muffled voices of the two best friends a girl could have.
"You're gonna let me in that room right now!" Tia hissed, her voice sounding muffled. Someone groaned to my right and I heard the sound of fabric shifting around.
"M'am, you're gonna have to calm down," a murmured voice scolded. "Now, I've done told you once, no one but family is allowed in that room! If you don't leave I'm gonna call security."
"You mean to tell me you're gonna kick me out of the damn women's hospital just because I want to see my friend?" Tia asked in a shrill voice. "This is public property!" I heard Carmen somewhere nearby muttering below her breath, trying to calm our angry friend down.
"No, I'm not kicking you out because you're here visiting your friend, I'm kicking you out because you're getting loud and disturbing my patients! You can visit Mrs. Cullen when she's transferred to a private room. Right now it's just family."
"Just family? Mrs. Cullen? I'll have you know she's not even married to that bastard! Her name is Bella Swan, not freaking Mrs. Cullen. He's no family to her! If you kick me out you better kick his ass out too!"
"Well, I have in my records that her name is Isabella Cullen. Even if she's not married, Mr. Cullen is the father of her children and that makes him family," the nurse argued.
"Allegedly," Tia grunted, loud enough for me to hear. "He's allegedly the father."
A heavy sigh and a muttered curse to my right caused me to struggle with opening my eyelids. When I finally pried them open, I turned my head and me the soft, gentle, green eyes of the man seated to the right of my hospital bed.
"Hey, baby," he whispered, reaching out and stroking my cheek. I gave him a small smile, but it probably looked more like a grimace. My body was sore from the cesarean I'd had just a couple of hours before.
"Where's the babies?" I asked, pushing myself up in a panic, wincing slightly at the pain.
Somehow the medication made me woozy and I'd fallen asleep. Still, I'd never forget the two, tiny angelic faces of my children as I held them in my arms before they were whisked away to the nursery.
"The doctor said they had to check their blood glucose, give them some eye ointment and some other stuff I know nothing about," he said with a chuckle. "Just routine stuff. My parents are in the waiting area with everyone else...well, everyone except Tia and Carmen, I guess. They've been standing outside that door for thirty minutes trying to get in."
"Why didn't you tell the nurse to let them in?" I asked, my eyebrows drawn up in confusion.
He gave me a shit-eating grin and whispered, "Because it's entertaining as hell listening to Tia get riled up."
I rolled my eyes but couldn't stop the chuckle that escaped my lips. There was the sound of a scuffle and loud voices outside the door before things finally became silent. Edward snickered as I shook my head in shame over the way he loved messing with Tia. A knock sounded at the door and a red-faced, gray-haired nurse in white scrubs stuck her her through the slightly open door.
"Are we ready to get out of here? I know there's a lot of people anxious to see you," the woman chirped in a fake-friendly voice. She sounded exactly like the voice of the woman arguing with Tia.
"Yes, m'am. I think we're ready to get out of the delivery room and into the private room now," Edward said, his eyes twinkling happily and he gave the lady a sweet smile.
"Okay, great. Just let me holler at the doctor for a minute and take y'all to the private room," she said, shooting Edward an old-lady, sexy grin that made me shudder. The woman was well into her sixties and reminded me of Paula Deen. What was it with old women flirting with Edward? The nurse left the room, pulling the door quietly behind her.
"What is it with you and old women?" I asked, rolling my eyes and crossing my arms over my chest. He shrugged in response and grabbed a styrofoam cup of water, practically forcing me to drink it.
"You need to drink to stay hydrated," he told me, the happy sparkle in his eyes gone as he stared at me stubbornly. "The doctor said so." Narrowing my eyes, I took the water from him and drank from the straw, purposely drinking the entire thing.
"I thought you'd stop monitoring my food and fluids once the twins were born," I muttered in disgust, handing him the empty cup. He smirked, taking the cup from my hands and dropping a kiss on my cheek while I glared up at him.
"I'll always take care of you baby," he whispered, grasping my hand in his. His eyes conveyed nothing but care and concern. The stubbornness and anger melted away as I stared deeply in his eyes. His fingers stroked circles around my palm.
We were interrupted by the gray-haired nurse again who pushed my bed through the back corridors of the women's hospital with Edward in tow. We arrived in a large, private room, already packed to the gills with flowers and balloons. Edward requested that the nurse fetch the twins and his parents. The nurse agreed, batting her eyes as she left.
A different nurse brought the twins in the room just moments later. They were swaddled in matching thin blankets, white, pink and light blue in color. They rested quietly in their bassinets, their skin slightly pink and their heads covered with pink, crocheted hats that I suspected Esme made herself. I smiled at the thought.
Esme and Calisle practically burst into the room just minutes later. Esme shooed the nurse off, shooting her a glare when the nurse offered to hand her one of the twins. Esme hovered over one bassinet and then the other, looking beautiful in her cream colored suit and matching pumps. How she looked so pulled together in the middle of the night was beyond me. She finally picked up one of the twins, carefully cradling her in her arms as Edward offered her his seat.
"This is Ms. Jasmine Harper Cullen," Esme said in a soft voice, as she examined the identification bracelet on Harper's tiny ankle.
Esme stared down at her grandchild with a hauntingly fragile expression on her face, and I wondered what was going through her mind. I wondered if her thoughts were with the baby that she lost so many years ago.
"So this must be Ms. Carlie over here," Carlisle said in a smooth voice, taking a step towards the bassinet where Carlie quietly rested. He was dressed in a smart, navy suit, but it was rumpled and his normally perfect blonde hair was somewhat disheveled. I smiled as it reminded me of Edward.
Carlise surprised me by reaching down and taking my daughter confidently in his hands, then cradling her against his left arm. Carlisle sat in one of the floral chairs, his body rocking slightly as he whispered to the tiny baby. A knot formed in my throat. I suddenly missed my father.
Esme noticed the way I stared at her husband and my daughter longingly. She suggested that the men grab some coffee while she helped me nurse the suddenly fretful Carlie. Edward took Carlie carefully from his father and I couldn't stop the smile that lit up my face. I remembered a time when Edward was terrified to hold Eric in my apartment, scared that he'd somehow break him. Edward held our daughter confidently in his arms, leaning down and offering her to me. I took Carlie and gave Edward a small kiss on the corner of his mouth before he and Carlisle shuffled from the room, quietly talking and and proudly beaming at one another.
"Should I call the nurse in to help me?" I asked nervously. It was the first time I'd breast fed one of the twins and, although the lactation nurse had explained the process in depth, she'd also instructed me to call her when the twins were ready to breast feed.
"No, I'll help you sweetie. I breast fed all three of my children," she boasted.
Esme lay the still sleeping Harper back in her basinet and spent the next several minutes showing me how to breast feed Carlie. It was strange and uncomfortable at first, but I eventually got the hang of it. I was slightly embarrassed for Edward's mother to see my bare chest, but she was very professional about it and even showed me how to hold the thin blanket to protect myself from any curious, wandering eyes.
"Are you thinking of your parents, Bella?" Esme asked softly as I stared down in wonder at the tiny baby in my arms.
"Yes," I whispered, remembering the thoughts I'd had as I watched Esme and Carlisle holding my children. How I wished my father were here...and my mother as well.
"Bella, I know Carlisle and I could never take the place of you parents, but you know that we love you as though you were one of own, right?" she asked, reaching out and squeezing my hand. I nodded, but never looked up from Carlie's content face as she continued to suckle.
"I know, Esme. It's just hard knowing that my father could be a part of my life, but chooses not to. My mother made her decision long ago when she took her own life. There's nothing anyone can do about that now. But my father is still alive and claimed just a few months ago that he's a changed man. But where is he? He never came for a visit like he promised. I'm not calling him, that's for sure."
"I'm sorry, honey. Just know that Carlisle and I will always be here for you," she whispered tenderly, stroking my hand. "And Edward will spend the rest of his life caring for you and your children. He loves you so much." I nodded and tried to hide the tears, but it didn't work. She searched the room until she found a box of tissues which she offered me. I cleaned my face with my one free hand and gave her a watery smile.
"Thank you," she whispered, gazing into my eyes in what I could only describe as awe.
"For what?" I questioned, wrinkling my forehead in confusion.
"For giving me two beautiful grandchildren, for saving my daughter in the store that night, for making my son happy for the first time in his life. Thank you, Bella, for everything that you've done," she said, breaking down into quiet sobs.
That in turn caused me to sob and when Edward and Carlisle returned to the room Carlie was resting contently in her bed, her belly full of milk, and Esme and I were clinging to each other for dear life, sniffling on my hospital bed.
"Uh, awkwarrrrdddd," I heard a familiar voice groan. Esme and I parted and I grinned at my big lug of a brother who stood awkwardly behind Edward and Carlisle.
"If y'all don't mind, put your hormones away for a few minutes. There's some folks here who want to see you," he said, finally breaking into a grin. He looked like a moron wearing a blue shirt that read 'World's Greatest Uncle'.
Rose, Alice, Tia, Carmen, Angie and Claire crept up behind them, peering anxiously around the men to the two bassinets. The room suddenly felt packed as everyone cooed and prattled over the two sleeping babies. For some reason Tia and Carmen wore kelly green scrubs, the legs of the scrubs so long on their petite bodies that the cuff was rolled up several times.
"Why are y'all wearing scrubs?" I asked, glancing at them in confusion. The two girls gave each other a sneaky glance. Tia rolled her eyes and Carmen burst into laughter.
"It was plan B," Carmen explained, as Tia huffed beside her. "Tia's idea...which didn't work, obviously. We stole some scrubs and tried to blend in. Security tried to escort us off the premises after old biddy of a nurse found us hiding beside the vending machines. Thankfully, Edward and Mr. Cullen saw them dragging us off and stopped them."
My face felt as though it were about to crack in half from the grin on my face over my two best friends foolishness, that is until I noticed my little Claire Bear standing in the corner of the room. Her face was a mask of sadness as her eyes peered over at the two sleeping babies.
"Hey, do y'all mind giving me and Claire Bear a minute?" I spoke up, momentarily interrupting everyone's babbling.
They all glanced at Claire, who had dropped her head upon hearing my voice. After giving each other knowing glances, everyone quietly shuffled out.
Edward kissed my cheek and told me he loved me, staring deeply into my eyes. He strolled across the room, his eyes lingering on our children for a moment before he shut the door softly behind him.
"Come here, Claire Bear," I told the Claire softly, patting the bed beside me.
She crossed the room hesitantly, shooting the twins a guarded glance. Once she made it to the bed she climbed in beside me, careful with her movements. She rested her head on my shoulder as I slowly stroked her soft, strawberry-blonde hair.
"You know you'll always be my girl, right?" I whispered. She turned her eyes up at me, staring at me dubiously.
"You will. You'll always be my girl," I assured her in a firm voice. "I love you like my own. You have a big responsibility now...you know that, right?" She shook her head in confusion, a frown on her face.
"Well, these girls will think of you as their cool, older cousin," I explained, watching as her eyes widened and darted to the bassinets. "They'll always look up to you, kind of like I always looked up to Jasper. They'll love you unconditionally and I know you'll love them back."
Claire played the the edge of the thin blanket that I lay under. I didn't think she'd speak. I'd only heard her hours earlier for the first time. I nearly fell out of the bed when she began openly talking.
"You won't forget me?" she asked in a soft whisper, her voice quiet and delicate. Tears formed in my eyes at the very thought of ever forgetting my little partner in crime.
"No, Claire. Like I told you before, you're my girl. I love you so much. I can't imagine my life without you in it again," I replied, brush a tear from my face. She turned as I moved my arm, watching as I sniffed and dried my face with the back of my hand.
"Don't cry, Auntie Bella. I love you," she whispered, reaching up to catch one last tear that somehow got away.
"I love you too, baby girl. Forever and always," I said, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. She smiled contently, shut her eyes and eventually fell asleep in my arms.
It was early September and hot. The Tennessee sun beat down on a man seated on a park bench near an ancient blackjack tree. The heat made him uncomfortable, especially since he wore a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. He thumbed through the Memphis Daily News searching for the sports section, peering through his dark sunglasses, his dark cap tipped low on his head. As he flipped the black and white pages of the paper, he noticed a young family standing several yards away.
The young man he watched was tall with a slightly athletic frame. He was dressed casually in slacks and a white button-up shirt that was left unbuttoned near the top. His hair was the color of fire, turning more red than copper during the summertime. A blanket was clutched in his hands and the man on the bench watched as he spread the blanket across the grass beneath the low-lying branches of a shade tree.
A beautiful young woman with hair the color of mahogany smiled and laughed at something he said as she pushed a double-stroller beside the blanket. The young couple opened a wicker picnic basket that sat nearby, and the man watched as she fixed her beau a plate of good, homemade southern food. The man smiled appreciatively and the couple ate quietly, occasionally glancing at the babies who slept quietly in the double stroller. From time to time the young woman would look saucily at her beau through her long, thick lashes, giggling as he whispered into her ear, a sexy smirk on his handsome, chiseled face.
Two other couples and a child no more than ten-years old joined the couple, clutching picnic baskets of there own. One of the men was big and burly, but held a gentle smile on his dimpled face. A beautiful woman with the looks of a super model stood by his side, one arm wrapped around his waist and one arm resting on the shoulders of the child by her side. The beautiful woman's hair shone beneath the sunlight, casting a halo-like glow around her head. The child by her side was thin and small with a strawberry-blonde braid running down her back. Her face was spattered with freckles and she smiled happily at the couple sitting on the blanket, her mouth and arms moving frantically.
The man on the bench narrowed his eyes as they lingered on the other couple. The young man he glared at had shaggy blonde curls and deep blue eyes. He held a lazy smirk on his face...a trademark grin for the past several years. He wore a baby blue shirt and faded jeans. A pixie of a girl with short, raven hair stood in front of him, leaning against him as he wrapped his arms around her. She raised her head, staring back at him and they had some unspoken moment that made the man on the bench sick with disgust. There was no one the man on the bench hated more than Jasper Swan, except maybe Edward Cullen.
Apparently it was the little girl's birthday. As the couples spread out more blankets on the crisp grass, the shapely blonde beauty opened a large, plastic container holding a homemade chocolate cake. She strategically placed colorful candles along the top of the cake and Jasper lit each of them with a silver lighter. The all laughed, sang and clapped the birthday song to the little girl who beamed at them all happily. She blew out the candles and pressed her eyelids together, silently making a wish. The man chuckled to himself as he was sure she wasn't making the wish that she needed to make.
The family eventually abandoned their slices of chocolate birthday cake and were taking turns passing the infant twins around. The summer sun shone down on their heads and their copper-colored hair practically glowed beneath the sunlight. The man's eyes narrowed as his object of affection, the one person he'd loved his entire adult life, scooted next to her fiance and allowed him to pull her into his arms. She was still shapely from the baby weight and the man hoped she'd lose the extra pounds from her pregnancy. She didn't look right without her skinny arms and legs which, even with her short stature, seemed to go on for miles. He grunted in disgust at the couple, red-hot anger boiling inside of him. The girl was his. She'd always been his, since the age of ten. She was everything he'd ever dreamed of, but didn't allow herself to be. That would soon change, he thought to himself, an evil grin spreading across his face. If things go according to my plans.
Ah, yes, he thought to himself. Edward, Jasper, Emmett, Carlisle Cullen...they would all pay dearly for what they did to me. But Edward would pay first, because he had something that belonged to him.
He grinned and hummed to himself, standing and tucking his newspaper beneath one arm as he made his way to the monorail as well, leaving the happy families behind. Whistling, he stood at the gate patiently waiting and boarded the large machine when it returned. He people watched for a while, noticing a familiar head of dark hair in a crowd nearby. He tilted his head, narrowing his eyes, trying to catch a glimpse of the man in the throng of people boarding the monorail, but the head of dark hair disappeared. James laughed to himself and shook his head. No, it couldn't be who he thought it was. He'd never be so stupid to return to Memphis again. Not after what James heard happened to him.
James spent the better part of the evening watching the picnic in the park. By the time he made it down Front Street the sun began to slowly sink in the distance, illuminating the dirty streets of Memphis with a gentle orange glow. He shoved his hands deep in his pants, cringing at the sight of his mangled skin as the action shoved the sleeves of his shirt up slightly.
He straightened them out, hiding his marred skin, internally cursing Bella for what she'd done to him. She was a very, very bad girl. He'd take his time punishing her for what she'd done to him, but he would eventually forgive her. It wasn't her fault, after all. The Cullen family lured her in, hook, line and sinker. They'd brainwashed her into becoming something she was not. She was not meant to be a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt. She was born to be a cold-hearted killer, just as he'd been. It'd take some time convincing her of the truth, but he had his ways of torturing someone to submit to his will. He was confident Bella would eventually break. He wouldn't stop until she did.
James sauntered down the sidewalk towards the parking garage where his old Chevy was stowed. It was a beat up piece of shit, but it was the best he could do considering the circumstances. He'd stolen it back in Mississippi, but the owner wouldn't mind.
People have no worries when they're dead, he thought to himself, chuckling as he pictured the face of the man he'd first murdered and then stole his vehicle. The man's face was rugged with a thick mustache and lined with years of mistakes and regrets. The fellow would never consume his time wondering what could have been. James took care of that for him.
The parking garage was dark and he'd parked the Chevy deep inside, in the only parking space he'd found available. Some kind of festival was happening on Beale Street and the only sounds in the parking garage was an occasional bark of drunken laughter or the squeal of happy teenage girl getting felt-up by her boyfriend.
A strange, eerie feeling crept over him as he walked further into the dim parking garage. His eyes darted around noticing that several of the lights were busted out.
Probably by a bunch of drunk kids, he thought to himself, shaking the feeling off and laughing at his absurdities. That's when she appeared.
A tiny woman wearing a drooping black robe and little else sauntered out from between his Chevy and the purple Impala that sat by it's side. The woman wore a black corset and tight, black leather pants beneath the robe. The hood encased her face in shadows, blocking his view of her face. He stood frozen as he watched her reach and pull the hood from where it draped over her forehead. She looked young, probably twenty-three or twenty-four years of age. Her face was pale like a vampire and she had shiny hazel eyes that stared solemnly at him. Her face was thin and narrow, her lips painted a bold red color, standing out strikingly against her pale face. James and the young woman stood there staring silently at one another for a long moment before she finally spoke.
"Are you ready for judgment day, James Hunter?" she asked in a low voice, tinged with a hint of a northern accent.
James hated northerners, but felt no disgust for this woman. No, he held nothing but fear in his heart. His mother told him stories about the grim reaper as a young boy. James's mother was Cajun, and a heavy believer in the supernatural. She'd educated him thoroughly on such subjects. He felt his spoiled arms tremble as the woman continued to watch him, her face void of emotion.
"Please," he whispered in a pleading tone, his voice sounding weak even to his own years. "Leave me be! Spare my life!"
The woman searched his face for a moment. Searching for what, he wasn't sure. Her red lips finally turned up in a menacing grin.
"Beg," she demanded. "On your knees."
James immediately fell to the concrete ground, his eyes glancing around the dark parking garage silently praying that someone would notice what was going on. But the garage was empty. There was no more drunken laughter. No, the people of this town were far too busy on Beale Street to worry with James Hunter. They were sitting in Blue's clubs, bars or buying dolls and incense at the Voodoo store. James Hunter was nothing but a ghost to them.
"Please spare me my life," he pleaded, placing his hands flat on the ground as he stared up at the woman. "Please, I'll do anything! Just spare me my life." The woman's grin turned even more spiteful, even more evil as she glowered down at him.
"Beg better," she whispered, closing her eyes dramatically and pulling the hood back over her head.
She raised her hands in front of her and the action terrified James. What sort of wicked spell was she about to cast? James began begging with all he had, pleading for his life and sobbing as he lay his face against the cold, concrete ground. Eventually his voice faded away as he became overcome with exhaustion. The only sounds were the echoes of his sobs in the building. Suddenly, a new, unfamiliar female voice rang out in the large room.
"Okay, that's enough of this shit," the voice said, causing his racing heart to gallop in his chest. "We let you do your grim reaper bullshit, Carmen. Are you happy now?"
"Yes, Tia. I'm super happy," the voice of the grim reaper said in a perky tone.
"I don't know why you wanted to wear that damn robe anyway," the girl named Tia huffed, aggravated.
"It's for dramatical effects, bitch," Carmen snapped.
"Dramatical is not even a word," Tia groaned.
James chanced a look up and saw a petite black woman with short hair now standing next to the grim reaper. She wore a shirt with an anime cartoon character on the front, dark washed jeans, and a terrifying grimace on her face. As she stared down at James in hate, he realized that he was suddenly more afraid of this woman than he was the grim reaper.
"What's up you dickless bastard?" the girl asked with a raised eyebrow. "Carmen giving you a hard time? Not that you don't deserve it you child molester!"
"Pervert!" Carmen suddenly screamed, kicking him in the ribs with her high-heeled boot. James winced in pain, but secretly knew that he had the upper hand with these two strange females.
"Pedophile," Tia accused, shaking her head in distaste.
She had a huge blue and red Icee in her hand that she promptly dumped right on his head. He cringed as the sweetly flavored ice poured over his new crew-cut, a hairstyle he'd adapted to prevent anyone from identifying him by his previously long hair.
"Sexual deviant," Carmen piped up, her hazel eyes sparkling mischievously.
"Bitch, a sexual deviant has sex with trees and shit," Tia argued, placing her hands on her hips and glaring at the girl. "I mean, he's a pedophile and a child rapist, but I don't think he's a sexual deviant."
"No, a sexual deviant likes sexual things that are considered abnormal. Child rape and molestation would be two of those things," Carmen argued with her friend.
"I'm pretty sure it means he likes to get down with horses and goats," Tia argued back.
"No, that's bestiality," Carmen corrected, holding her chin high as her friend glowered at her.
As the two girls continued to bicker amongst themselves, James stood up, brushing the crushed ice from his body. The two girls paid him no attention as an evil smirk crossed his face. He took a step forward, images of what he planned on doing to them creeping through his mind. His boot didn't even touch the floor when he felt the cool metal muzzle of a gun pressed against the back of his skull.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," a familiar male voice drawled. "These gals get pretty ornery when you step on their toes."
James slowly turned and stared in horror at the man wielding the gun to his head. It was G, a one time member of the militia that James spent an intricate amount of time in. James never liked G. He was a hothead and cocky as hell, always thinking he was a little smarter than everyone else around him. James narrowed his eyes at his old acquaintance who simply grinned in response. A cigarette hang from his lips and G took a deep drag before spitting it out and blowing the smoke in James's face.
"Where's Leah at, James?" G asked, the cocky grin slowly fading away as he stared into his cold, dead eyes. "Where's my adoptive sister?"
"Leah? Leah's in prison!" James said, his eyes wide with surprise. "I thought you knew that, G. I thought everyone knew that."
"You expect me to believe that you pulled yourself from a burning cabin without any help?" G asked, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.
"Yes, G! I swear it! I got loose and pulled myself from the cabin! Don't shoot me G! Please don't shoot me!"
G tilted his head to the side, slowly searching the man's face for any falsity in his statement. He grunted when he found none, cocking the gun and pressing it firmly to his forehead. James's eyes widened in horror. He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by the sound of gunfire. The two girls yelped as the back of his head blew off, spraying the nearby Impala with blood and brain matter. James stood there for a second, his eyes still wide as they stared at a smirking G. His body suddenly went limp as a noodle and he slumped to the ground in a bloody heap.
"Ew, you got blood on me, G," Carmen muttered, wiping the red droplets of blood from her face with the long sleeve of her robe.
"I'm sorry darlin'. I'll make it up to you later," he told her with a grin, causing her to giggle and her cheeks to turn red.
"God, get a room. Sick freaks," Tia muttered, kicking James with the toe of her sneaker. "Are you sure he's dead? This is usually the part of the story where the supposedly dead guy pops up and says 'Aghhhhhh!'"
The three of them stood there for a moment, staring down at the dead man who had yet to move. The blood pooled up from beneath his head, trailing over to where the girls stood. They both stepped back to prevent getting their shoes any dirtier than they already were.
"Nah, he's dead," G proclaimed, glancing around the parking garage and then at his watch. Just as scheduled, a dark car pulled into the garage, quickly heading in their direction. A large muscular man with brown eyes and dark hair stepped out of the car, shooting Tia a wink and popping the trunk. She smiled in response and leaned against the Chevy watching as G and Sam quickly tossed the body in the back of the car on top of a tarp.
"Call me later, T," Sam said with a sparkling smile. "I just got the new Naruto movie in the mail. I ordered it just for you."
"Fanfuckingtabulous," Tia smirked, giving me a smile that matched his own.
"Are we done killing folks now?" Carmen asked the boys, removing her robe and fluffing her matted-down hair.
"Almost," G responded, removing a bottle of bleach from the trunk where James stared blankly at him.
G unscrewed the cap and poured it over the puddle of blood on the concrete. He gestured for Carmen to hand him her robe and she did so. He threw it over the puddle, bending down and mopping up the mess. When he was convinced he'd left little evidence, he tossed the robe in a garbage bag he'd removed from the trunk.
"What do you mean 'almost'?" Carmen asked, her face twisted thoughtfully.
"I'm not sure Leah's really in prison," G responded, shrugging.
"Well, that's easy enough to find out. I'll just look it up on the internet. The state department of corrections website shows all the pictures and information on the inmates," Carmen replied, pulling her cell from her pocket.
"Appearances can be deceiving, when you know the right people," G muttered, slamming the trunk and lighting another cigarette. "Things can be arranged. People can be made to look like they're in places where they're really not."
The smell of bleach and smoke wafted around the group who was surprisingly in no hurry to vacate the area. And why should they be? G and Sam made damn sure to destroy any video footage of the area. Months of G following James had finally paid off. And the sad part of it all was that Bella would never know. She'd never know what her small group of friends had done for her, what risks they'd taken on their lives.
"Wait. Is Leah the bitch with the sword and whip?" Tia asked, remembering the unbelievable story that Bella once told her of the home invasion.
"That's her," G confirmed, taking a deep drag of his cigarette, his eyes suddenly thoughtful and serious.
"Oh, hell no. I don't mess with swords and whips. Y'all are on your on with that hussy. I'm out. Call me Sam...when y'all get rid of the peen-less prick."
"Sexual deviant," Carmen muttered, following closely behind her friend. The two disappeared into the darkness leaving Sam and G behind, shaking their heads and chuckling at their two girls.
Sam slid into the dark car and G casually followed, joining him in the passenger side. G tossed the filter of his cigarette out of the window as the two slowly rolled out of the parking garage and into the night. His eyes lingered on an apartment building that they passed nearby; an apartment building where a young woman once lived, believing that she was effectively hiding from the world.
"Leah is in prison," Sam spoke up, breaking the silence between the two men. "Edward and Carlisle had it checked out. Edward is very thorough with everything, especially when it comes to Bella."
"Oh, yeah. Edward's just perfect, isn't he?" G smirked sarcastically, sliding his eyes to meet Sam's. "That's why he lied to Bella about the girl Bree causing a scene at his office? When the truth is that I was the one there causing the scene?"
Sam grimaced, remembering the day he stared into Bella's eyes and told her a bold-faced lie. G showed up at Edward's office that day, demanding to speak to him. Sam and Ben left Edward and Bella's house under the guise of helping their boss remove a girl from the building. Bella should have known better. It doesn't take three grown men to remove a ninety-five pound girl from a building.
The truth, the cold, hard truth was that G arrived at Edward's office that day to pass on some important information. Word among his tight-knit circle of friends was that James never died in that fire. Somehow he escaped, with or without the assistance of someone else remained a mystery.
Rumor had it that Jacob Black hired Leah after James approached Jacob, offering to help him kill Edward Cullen. Jacob hired Leah to help kidnap Bella and murder Edward. What no one planned on was Jacob and Leah secretly falling in love.
Once Leah found out that Edward murdered her lover, she made it her personal mission to take away the one thing Edward cherished the most. Bella Swan. Garrett didn't believe Leah was really in prison. No, he believed Leah was hiding in those woods near the burning cabin, waiting and watching. She was there for her revenge.
"I hope she really is in prison, Sam old boy," Garrett drawled, pulling his cell from his pocket and turning it on.
He stared down at the slack-faced person whose's inmate photo glowed from the screen. The picture told him everything he needed to know. It told him that Leah was, indeed, locked up in a Georgia prison. Twenty-five to life for an old homicide that she committed, but didn't commit on her own. A knot of guilt formed in his belly but he quickly brushed it aside as he turned the cell off and shoved it deep in his pocket.
"Are the kids cute?" he asked out of the blue, staring into Sam's startled brown eyes. Sam nodded slowly, a small, fond smile on his face.
"Yeah, they're good-looking kids. They have Edward's hair, but they look like Bella."
Garrett nodded thoughtfully as Sam pulled up at the seedy motel Garrett spent the last few months living in. They parted ways, both of them nodding quietly to one another as Sam pulled back onto the dark Tennessee road.
As he stood there he mused over the fact that Bella and Edward's children would have a childhood that Garrett, nor Bella, ever dreamed of. They'd never worry about being beaten or abused or going to bed hungry at night. Bella was the perfect mother; sweet, nurturing and dysfunctional enough to keep things interesting, yet safe. Edward would defend Bella and his children with his life. He was protective to the point of overbearing, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing, at least, not in this situation.
But still, Garrett decided it was better to be safe than sorry. The sounds of Gladys Knight crooning 'Midnight Train to Georgia' drifted through the broken windows of a nearby dilapidated home. He smiled to himself, thinking it possibly an omen...maybe karma. Who knows? He shrugged, not knowing exactly what he believed in anymore. There was only one person he'd been able to rely on in his lifetime; himself.
Garrett stood there for a moment before removing his cell once more, scrolling down his list of many contacts until he found the number he needed. He pressed his thumb over the number and held the phone to his ear, his eyes scanning the empty street in front of him.
"Amtrak. How can I help you?" a bored feminine voiced asked with a yawn.
"I need to purchase a train ticket," Garrett muttered, placing a cigarette between his lips and lighting it. "One way."
"Well, sir, we'll be happy to help you. Where are you traveling to?" the voice inquired, suddenly perky with the prospect of business.
"Georgia," Garrett drawled with a wistful smile, taking a deep drag of the cigarette and blowing the stinging smoke through his nose. "I'm going to see an old friend in Georgia."
Sequel? Yes or no? Let me know in your review! Honestly, it's already written...in my head. But it's awesome, I swear. Okay, don't forget to follow me. I'm about to post my new WIP Dirty South Drug Wars as soon as I post this epi so be sure to check it out! I even put on my big girl britches and got me an awesome beta named AliCat0623 :)
People I want to thank: my readers/reviewers of course. My RL Tia and Carmen for allowing me to take their little quirks and blow them up into completely ridiculous epic proportions. My mother (LOL) who will never read this (thank God) for being a crazy person who loved dragging their little girl all over the dangerous, dirty streets of Memphis every time she became bored. I swear I breathed in more weed smoke from concerts before I turned twelve than anyone.
If y'all are ever in the Memphis area, holler at me:) We can hang on Beale, get drunk on Chocolate Thunder at Wet Willie's, hang out at BB King's Blues Club and of course there's Memphis in May (AKA Beale Street Music Festival); three days of watching drunken southerners make complete fools out of themselves while rocking out to some awesome bands.
I love you all! :)