Rating/Disclaimer: M. This story is rated for lemons, language, and violence.
Summary Bella's entire life has been a lie built to keep her safe. But as the people her family had been after for her entire life become desperate, she becomes the pawn. Edward is the FBI agent trusted to keep her alive, but as the lines blur only one thing is certain. He'd stop at nothing to protect her.
A/N: This story was originally an entry into the Pick a Pic contest. After massive computer problems at the beginning of the summer, I forgot to post this and one of my charity pieces as I've been writing away. I've done a few more charities that I had mentioned earlier, which I'm now waiting for deadlines on to share the pieces with you, I've got a drabbler that's about ½ done that I want to post by the end of the year, a MASHward chapter with Mizzdee, and portions of many other things half done that I'm working on completing so that those projects can finally be marked complete. So expect to see a lot more of me this fall and thank you for your patience. Love to Mizzdee for hacking through the stacks of files I've been sending her and keeping me sane
Charlie Swan had asked to live a normal life with Bella. He wanted to take her away from the insanity of her mother's world after she had been killed. But that was no longer an option, so I'd have to step in.
The town of Forks was even more depressing than our surveillance had revealed, and as I drove down the winding road to the cemetery, I tried to think of how I'd convince Bella to come with me. I'd have to tell her something, but I wasn't sure the truth would be the best, at least for now.
When I joined the FBI, I didn't know what I expected, but after working as an agent for two years, my supervisor pulled me aside and asked me to work on a special detail. I had thought that it was going to be something exciting, but little did I know I was being put on babysitting duty.
For the past year, I'd sat in a surveillance room and watched Bella Swan go to and from classes, party with her friends, and make out with her boyfriend in the back seat of his car.
I never understood why she was important to the government's case against the Volturi crime family, but it was all made clear last week.
Our case was solid and Interpol had made the arrest, putting to bed a twenty-three year long investigation, but that seemed to be the catalyst to what happened in Washington and Phoenix.
Alec Morano and Felix Fortuno made their moves, Felix had been successful in killing Charlie as he slept in front of the TV in his living room, but Alec had slipped up, and the year he'd spent posing as Bella's loving boyfriend had been for nothing as he was taken down within minutes of news reaching us that Charlie had been killed.
Bella got the call about Charlie and dropped everything, making it out of Phoenix before I'd had a chance to finish interrogating Alec, so now I was playing catch up. My team was staying in Port Angeles monitoring the situation so they could be here quickly if needed, but my supervisor agreed that the funeral was the best time to make contact, so that was how I ended up pulling into the Forks Cemetery to see a rather large gathering for such a small town.
My suit didn't stick out too badly today, but I'd be conspicuous pretty soon, so I'd have to make her understand so that we could get her into a safe house.
I hung back, letting the crowd slowly file past Bella as she thanked them for coming to her father's funeral. When the last few people were talking to her, I strode over and for the first time, our eyes met.
"Thank you for coming," she said softly. "Did you know my father?"
"I knew of him, but we'd never had a chance to meet. But, Miss Swan, there is something I need to discuss with you involving Charlie. Is there somewhere we might be able to go?"
"Hey, Bells, is everything okay?" a muscular tanned-skin guy asked.
"I'm fine, Jacob," Bella said as she looked over to the road.
"Do you mind following me back to my house? I'm trying to avoid all the 'poor Bella' looks at the moment." Her eyes moved again in the direction of the street and I followed to see a group of women looking pityingly in our direction.
"Sure, lead the way."
I was a little annoyed that she was this trusting, but growing up in a town like this, I guessed it was easier to believe in the good in people.
We got on the road and I followed her the relatively short distance to the white house sitting up against the woods. The trees seemed to swallow you whole here, and I was amazed at how well manicured something that was that overgrown could look.
I got out of the car and Bella met me by the porch steps. "You're lucky you made it for the funeral, because I'm heading back to school tomorrow night, so you almost missed me."
"I would have gotten a hold of you down there, what I have to tell you is pretty urgent," I leveled with her.
"That sounds ominous. Do you want something to drink before you start?" I shook my head and she shrugged, almost walking into the living room before she stopped and turned back to the kitchen. She took a seat and motioned for me to join her.
"Okay, Bella, the first thing I need to know is how much Charlie ever told you about your -" My question was cut off by my phone vibrating in my pocket. I recognized the number's prefix as being one of the FBI's secure lines, so I answered it immediately. "Yes?"
"Thank God you're alive. Do you have the package?" My supervisor's voice was icy, putting me immediately on edge.
"Yes, but I haven't unwrapped it," I responded, letting him know I hadn't told Bella yet.
"You'll have to wait until you get back before you open it, don't forget you have a plane to catch." Shit, now he was telling me that I couldn't fly with Bella, how was I supposed to get her to go with me otherwise?
"Okay, I'm going to hang out here until tonight, I'll see you tomorrow."
"Safe flight," were the last words he said before the line went dead.
"I'm sorry, but I don't think you told me your name," Bella said, catching my attention. I looked around and grabbed a magnetic pad, quickly jotting a note and handing it to her.
I will tell you my name in a minute, but first I need you to understand you can't say anything out loud. Do you understand?
Bella nodded and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Good, my name is Edward Cullen and I'm in the FBI.
Her eyes went wide as she read that, but she didn't ask any questions.
Your father was killed because of a link you both have to a case that I'm working on. It is extremely important that that you trust me.
Bella lifted her hand to tell me okay before she took my pen.
Will you explain this to me soon?
I nodded and then wrote my response.
You said you were leaving tomorrow, are you packed already, because we need to get out of here ASAP.
She pointed to the suitcase that sat beside the stairs, asking for the pen, I handed it to her and she scribbled one last request.
Can I have a few minutes to grab a couple of things, because this sounds like I may not make it back here anytime soon?
I nodded but wasn't sure what I could allow her to take, if we were on the run, she couldn't keep these things with her long, but maybe we could mail them off somewhere and she could get them eventually. I'd have to see. Just as we made it back into the main room, there was a knock at the door. Bella went to answer it, but I grabbed her arm and stopped her, reaching down to my calf to take out my gun, I was about to look out the peephole when I heard the voice of the guy at the cemetery call out.
"Bells, you in there?"
Confirming that it was him, I hid my gun in the waistband of my pants and opened the door.
"Jake, get in here," she whisper-yelled as she pulled him inside and let me close the door.
"What the hell is going on, Bella?" he asked, looking between the two of us.
"I'm not sure, but I need to ask you a favor." Bella looked to me and whispered in my ear, "Will we need a car that can't be tied to the two of us?"
"It would help," I whispered back.
She began speaking silently to Jacob, his eyes watching me the entire time before he pulled back.
"Let's go," he said and Bella ran to get her things.
I walked out to my car and grabbed my 'go' bag and my briefcase out of the trunk and then ran back up to the house to see Bella coming downstairs with a box. I watched her throw some pictures and things in it and then bent down to grab her suitcase, opening it long enough to throw some flannel shirts in and then zip it up again. I took her suitcase and threw and my bag in the flatbed of his truck, her box sliding in beside it before we climbed in and Jacob drove off. We were a few minutes down the road when I chucked my phone out the window and into the woods.
"Give me your cell phone," I told Bella.
"You aren't going to break it, are you?" she asked, but I simply held out my hand and waited for her to give it over. I opened up her settings and checked to see where her data was saved. When it was clear that she had her contacts and data saved to the SD card and not the phones internal memory, I popped out the card and put it in a protective case that I pulled out of my briefcase, slipping it into one of the inside pockets.
"Power it down, all of your information is on the card, so you can get rid of that and not lose your information," I explained.
"Jacob, can I have the Rabbit?" she asked out of nowhere, confusing the shit out of me.
"It isn't registered and I don't have any plates on it. I just got it running a couple of days ago," he told her.
"That won't be a problem," I added, realizing she was talking about a car.
"Someone better explain to me -" Jacob started, but Bella cut him off.
"I can't tell you what I don't know, but I need you to do this for Charlie," she said, which got him to concede.
"Fine, but I'm going to need some way to know you're okay," Jacob told her.
"Don't believe anyone, Jacob," I said. "If someone tells you she's dead, act like you do, but know it's a lie. If something happens for real, you'll know."
"You'll keep her safe?" he asked.
"That was my oath, and I'll keep it until my dying breath," I replied solemnly, and I meant it too.
We turned off onto a gravel road and made our way towards the water. There was a small red house to the right of the road, and Jacob pulled off there.
"Jake, can you keep the box for me. I'll come get it from you, or ask you to send it once this is all over," Bella asked and Jake nodded.
After two minutes, Jacob had the car pulled around and I made quick work of attaching the plates that were part of the kit that I'd been given in case this was compromised. Inside of it was identification for Bella and me, license plates to use on the car I was driving, and five thousand dollars cash. I knew I'd need to keep receipts so that I wouldn't have to pay that money back when I got back to DC, but I did have another option thankfully.
I loaded our bags in the car and after a tearful goodbye with Jacob, and another warning not to tell a soul about this, we were off.
Bella sat silently for the longest time, but it seemed that her curiosity finally won out.
"What were you going to tell me this morning?" she asked, looking directly at me.
"First, I need to know what Charlie told you about your mother," I told her and she frowned.
"She died giving birth to me. He said that it was painful to think about her, so he never really told me anything about her. He said someday I would understand."
I hated this part of my job, because to keep her safe, I was going to be shattering her world. "Bella, your mother was an FBI agent, and she was very good at what she did," I started, but Bella interrupted me.
"Is she alive? Is that what this is about?" Bella asked and I shook my head.
"No, Bella. Charlie didn't lie to you, Renee Dwyer died the day you were born, only she was killed by someone working for the people she'd been working to put in jail. You were taken from the hospital you were born at and relocated to another one in Maryland -"
"Maryland, but my birth certificate says that I was born in Seattle?" Bella interrupted me again.
"The FBI can easily make those kinds of changes when a person's life is at stake, and the bureau wanted to keep you safe."
"Did my dad know what my mom did for a living? Is that why he never talked about her?"
I sighed. "Charlie knew that's why he took you away, so you could have a chance at a normal life. But that's not the biggest thing, Bella. I don't know how to say this, other than to just tell you. Charlie isn't your father, he's your uncle. Phil Dwyer is your father and he's very much alive."
All the color drained from Bella's face and she gripped the door. "Edward, stop the car."
"Bella, I can't let you -" I tried to say, but she quickly turned on me.
"I'm going to be sick, pull the goddamn car over, Edward!"
I did as she asked, and as soon as the car stopped, she was out the door and leaning over the guard rail, getting sick. I followed her, trying to rub soothing circles on her back as she gasped for air between dry heaves.
"Are you okay?" I asked and she shook her head, and then walked back over to the car. She pulled a bottle of water from her purse and rinsed her mouth before taking a drink, her legs still hanging out of the car.
"I need you to tell me everything," she demanded and I proceeded to tell her everything I could as we got back on the road.
In little over an hour she knew about her real parents, her uncle Charlie, who'd taken in his niece as his own with the stipulation that she be allowed to live for as long as possible away from the world that had killed his baby sister. I finished up by telling her that her boyfriend Alec Woods was actually Alec Morano, the cousin of crime boss Aro Volturi, the man that had just been arrested off of her father's work.
She didn't say another word for the rest of the afternoon, but as it got close to dinner time, I tried to get her to talk. "Are you hungry? I'm going to pick up a few things for us at the Wal-Mart in Hood River, so we can grab a bite at a diner somewhere before we continue on to find a hotel for the night."
"I guess," was her only response, so I turned off at the exit and pulled into the first diner I saw.
The meal passed by in even more silence, but Bella ate, so I was mollified for the time being. After paying the check, I drove to Wal-Mart and asked Bella if there was anything she needed. She mumbled something about toiletries, so I walked with her while she picked out a few things, grabbing some of my own while we were there.
I knew I would need clothes sooner rather than later, but I decided to wait, because Bella would need some as well and I knew she wasn't ready to think about how long we were going to be in hiding together. Hell, I had no idea how long we'd be in hiding together.
I did buy a duffle bag that would no doubt come in handy later, and then we headed back to electronics. There I picked up two pre-paid Smartphone and got two forty-five dollar unlimited plans. The lady behind the counter rang us up and then we continued to the grocery section so that we could get some food.
Bella seemed to become a little more responsive there, as she picked up snacks and food that were easy to microwave. We finally grabbed a giant cooler to fill with the perishable stuff, and a few bags of ice to help it keep and then I pushed the cart up to the register to pay.
My eyes kept flickering to the sliding doors as Bella unloaded our items onto the conveyer belt. The girl at the register started ringing up the food, and Bella used the cooler to pack the things that needed to be kept cool and then continued to bag the rest of our items. I paid for the purchases with some of the cash from the bureau, and then I pushed the cart over to an ATM.
"Can you use a debit card without someone being able to track it?" Bella asked in a hushed whisper.
"It's a prepaid card under a name that no one would know to look for me under. It was a gift from my sister before I left to begin my surveillance detail. She said that she had a feeling," I said by a way of explanation.
"A feeling?" Bella asked.
"That's Alice, but now I'm glad because I don't know how long we may be out here, and the extra money will make a lot of difference."
Bella got quiet again and after I took out the maximum of $600, we went to the car. After looking around the parking lot again, we loaded the back seat and drove off. I knew we had been lucky to make it out of Forks without anyone knowing, but I refused to let my guard down. I'd left without telling my team and I knew that by now they had to know that something was up.
We hadn't set up any equipment at Charlie's house, because we knew that he'd find it. Instead, we'd tracked him using the GPS on his phone and had both of his phones tapped. It was that decision, made by the leader of the team watching Charlie, which led to him being killed. They hadn't had a close enough eye on him, or they didn't want one.
I thought about the seven men sitting in the hotel in Port Angeles, the four that had been on Charlie's detail, and the three that had worked with me. Was one of them the leak? Had someone been compromised within our unit, or did the information come from someone in DC, snooping so they could deliver information. Either way, I was paranoid.
I couldn't keep tabs on it from where I was, so I was flying blind. I couldn't risk powering up my laptop, or making another call to my supervisor, so I just had to stay on course.
Thankfully, when my supervisor gave me this assignment, he also told me of a town to go to if we were compromised. He and I were the only ones who knew about it, and I was banking on it being the case. I needed someone to know where we were if things got bad, and they were certainly turning that way.
It was eight o'clock when we pulled into the Rodeway Inn in Boardman, Oregon. I was tired from the day that we'd had, and I just wanted to get us settled in. I pulled up under the large awning and ran inside, booking us one of the vacant rooms. Thankfully there weren't many guests, so I was able to get us a room with two queen beds. When I told the guy at the counter I'd be paying cash, he charged me up front, but I didn't care, it would make check out easier in the morning.
With the key in hand I drove the thirty feet to the parking spot straight in front of us and then I walked Bella to the corner room.
She took the cooler, and I grabbed a bunch of the food bags and went with her to unlock the room. Leaving her with the food, I returned for our bags and then double locked the door and drew the ugly looking blackout shades.
"Bella, I know that today has been difficult, but I need to explain some things to you. If I'm going to succeed in keeping you safe, I need you to work with me. You can't go out on your own, you can't draw attention to yourself, and you can't look up things about you or your family. I will give you all the answers I can, and what I'm not able to tell you now, I will before I return you to your normal life."
"How much money do you have on that prepaid card?" she asked, sidestepping my request that she listen to me.
"She put the limit on it, which is $10,000. So I can keep pulling out $600 a day, until I reach the end of that. I'll never do it in a town we're staying in, just in case there's a chance that someone does link it back to my sister or me, but I doubt they will. She's almost as good at making things look unrelated as I am."
Bella sat the groceries on the long dresser, but didn't bother to take them out of the bags, she sat the cooler in front of it and then she opened her suitcase and pulled out some clothes and took the bag of toiletries from Wal-Mart before walking to the bathroom.
I heard the shower start up and thinking back over the day's events made me realize that I was fucked. I needed Bella to trust me, but how do you make someone trust you, when everyone she's ever trusted before has lied to her.
I used her time in the shower to change, deciding to shower in the morning. When she came out in her shorts and t-shirt a little while later, I turned on the TV and tossed her the remote, hoping it would get her to relax a little.
She found reruns of Friends and climbed under the covers, giving me a chance to check my gun and slide it under the pillow beside me.
"Edward?" Bella called, getting my attention. "How long were you doing surveillance on me and Charlie?"
"I wasn't part of the team watching Charlie, but I was asked to head up the team in Phoenix almost a year ago."
"Where is the rest of your team, and the one that had been monitoring Charlie?" she asked, testing how much I would tell her.
"They were staying in Port Angeles, which is why we came south; I wasn't going to chance bringing you near them if one of them is the leak."
"The leak?" she asked.
I nodded, "Someone has turned and is giving us misinformation on the people who are after you, and telling them what we know. That's why we ran."
After a long moment, she asked, "You said that Alec is related to this Aro guy, and that he was dating me just to keep tabs on me. How was he able to get so close without someone knowing who he was?"
I sighed; this was one of the things I'd wanted to know. "That I don't know. He was checked out by one of the others and they knew he was your boyfriend, but his file was all fake. They were looking into how that was possible, which is where I think my supervisor noticed that things weren't matching up. Felix shouldn't have gotten within 100 miles of Forks, and Alec should have been discovered immediately, instead, I was listening to his call that night when I heard him talking in Italian. He's never done it before and it set off a red flag. I tackled him outside of your dorm with a gun, the silencer already attached. They're hoping to draw Phil out into the open because he's the one who's heading up the case for the FBI. They think if they can get him then they'll somehow be able to beat this, or at the very least, get Aro out of prison and safely tucked away in any of a dozen countries that won't extradite him."
Bella stared at me for a long minute. "I won't do anything foolish. And as long as you're honest with me, I'll do the same for you."
I decided to get it all out in the open now and face her wrath now. "There's one other thing I need to tell you, your ID's were done up with a picture of you, but they altered it so it would be easy to disguise you. My name is James Browning. Here's your license," I said as I threw the wallet onto her bed.
She flipped open the wallet and groaned. "Victoria Sutter … they made me a red head?"
"I have the wig in my bag; you'll need to wear it when we leave tomorrow. There's a cap or something that will hold your hair under the wig properly. Or at least that's what I was told; I don't know anything about that kind of thing."
Bella giggled at that before saying, "Thank you. You don't have to keep me in the loop, but you're choosing to. That means a lot to me."
"I do better when I talk things out, so having someone else know is helpful," I told her truthfully.
The silence enveloped us again, and for once, it wasn't awkward. I drifted off for a while, but my internal clock had me up at sunrise. I showered and changed into another pair of slacks and a dress shirt. Using the in-suite coffeemaker, I made what was sure to be awful coffee and then opened one of the boxes of cereal we'd bought yesterday.
Bella slept until seven and then she made herself some breakfast as well before she shuffled to change into shorts and a tank top. We packed up our belongings, and I returned the room key by 8:15.
Our second day on the road was much like the first. Another ATM stop and a diner for lunch, and then we crossed from Oregon to Idaho, stopping at the Burley Budget Motel. I had one of the local Chinese restaurants deliver to the motel, and we once again found mindless TV to fill the silence.
As we got ready to leave Burley the next morning, Bella looked over my outfit with a frown. "Don't you have anything that isn't a suit? Because you stick out like a sore thumb dressed like that in small towns, I should know, I thought you were a lawyer or something when you walked up to me."
"Well, it's good to know you aren't so completely trusting of strangers," I teased and then looked down at my clothes. "We'll go shopping when we stop for lunch, I'll get you more clothes as well, that way we'll both blend in."
With a sweet smile on her face, Bella walked past me towards the door but I stopped her. "What? I wasn't going to walk out until you did your secret agent sweep of the outside. I was just moving my suitcase closer to yours."
"Sorry, I just don't want anything to happen to you." It was the truth too. Though we barely knew each other, Bella was the type of girl I used to date, before I became focused on my work. But I knew better than to get a bodyguard-complex going.
We were on the road early, and it was nearly one when we pulled into the Dillard's department store, hoping that it would have what we needed. I went into the men's department and picked out jeans and shirts, getting a nice variety of t-shirts and button-downs. With a pair of sneakers and some underwear and socks, I walked over and used Alice's card for this. It would help if it wasn't all withdrawals, and we were still far enough away from our destination to not draw anyone to us.
From there, we moved over to the women's department and Bella got herself plenty of clothes. She grumbled as I paid, but she understood that I had to, just like she silently dealt with the wig that I was sure was uncomfortable.
Our last stop was to the area they had outerwear in, where Bella picked out a jean jacket and she dug through the leather jackets until she found one she liked for me. "You'll look so badass in this, you have to get it, please."
Her plea set something off inside me that was very dangerous. I'd get us both killed if I gave into that tiny part of me that wanted to kiss that adorable pout right off of her lips. She was the job, she was my responsibility.
"Sure, let's get these and get back on the road. We've killed too much time here."
Our bags were loaded into the trunk and after hitting a fast-food drive thru on the way out of town, we were once again headed east.
Rawlins, Wyoming, one of the most depressing towns I'd ever see, had a Days Inn that was calling my name after a long day on the road. I was looking forward to staying put, even if it was only for a few days, because we would be able to relax a little, and not spend the entire time in the car.
The news in the hotel that night didn't give me any clue as to what was going on in our world. Aro was still in custody awaiting trial, and there was no story that would hint at what was happening with us. I had just begun to search for a sitcom when Bella walked out of the bathroom. Her wig was in her hand, but it was the hair on her head that startled me. "You cut your hair?"
"I needed to get some of the weight off, I was dying with this on all day, plus, if it's dark out you can't tell if my hair is red or brown, so it gives me options."
I nodded, because it made sense, but the idiot that I was had liked her long hair, because it would give me something to tug on while I … I shook my head to clear my thoughts and then turned back to the TV. "We're about two days from where we'll be stopping for a while, so we'll have to get used to using our aliases in public, think we can try that tomorrow?"
"Sure, James, I think we can do it," she teased before sitting her wig on the dresser and climbing into bed.
I woke up early, taking the tags off of all our purchases and arranging them. I fit all of my things in my 'go' bag and Bella's suitcase, and gave her the duffle bag I'd bought for all of her things. It would be easier for her to handle and if I ever had to send her off running, she'd only need the one bag.
I opened her wallet and put two grand in there, which was all the cash I'd taken off of Alice's card, plus a little of the money from my supervisor so she could run if she needed to. It made me feel better to know that if I failed her, she could get away quickly.
Bella was all smiles again as she woke up, and after we were on the road I learned why. She called me 'James' every time she talked, using it as a tag on the end of every sentence, and I couldn't help but laugh at her. Victoria was a little too stuffy for her, so I chose Vicky, and it didn't take much for me to assume the role.
As we put Rawlins behind us, I noticed that after three days together, Bella was comfortable around me. She put up with my hyper-vigilant actions, never fighting when I'd pull her back when something caught my attention, or tensing when I handled my gun. Maybe it was having guns around her whole life with Charlie being a cop, or maybe it made her feel safe that I was always on the lookout, but it felt good either way.
We stopped for lunch in Bennett, Colorado and Bella continued to play her part. I whispered for her to cool it a little with how often she used my alias, because we didn't want to be memorable at all.
After our meal we kept on moving, but now Bella was trying to get to know me better.
"So how long have you been with the FBI?"
"Two and a half years. I was with the bureau for eighteen months before they put me on your case," I explained.
"What, was I some kind of punishment?" she joked, but she seemed upset by that idea.
"No, you were a lesson," I told her. "We all need to know how to do surveillance, and with the case about to get serious and you going off to college in another state, they wanted a team to be assigned to you. They needed someone who could blend in with the student body, plus I'd performed well enough to get on my supervisor's radar, so he gave me the assignment. I just wish I knew who it was that turned on us, because it had to be someone on our teams."
"So your girlfriend didn't mind that you were sitting in a hotel room watching a college girl for a year?" Bella asked, trying to be smooth. It was cute, really.
"I haven't had a girlfriend in years. And before you ask, I just turned twenty-five."
She blushed a deep red and her eyes went to the scenery again. I had no idea what she was planning, but she was definitely up to something.
The radio kept going in and out as we got out of range for the stations we had settled on, and as I went to find a new station, Bella did the same and our hands met. I felt the pulse of energy pass between us and tried to will it down; I couldn't go there with her, not now.
I turned off the highway a little while after we got into Kansas, hoping to find a place to stay for the night. We were lucky enough to find a small motel that was completely vacant. It only had twenty rooms, so it wasn't terribly surprising, but I was happy that we would know if something was up in the middle of the night.
After checking in, Bella and I headed down the road to a little Mexican restaurant and enjoyed the meal in a charged silence, already worrying me for what might be coming.
After returning to the hotel, Bella slipped off her wig and took out her notebook, scribbling away furiously. I watched the Rockies game on ESPN, enjoying the chance to catch some sports when Bella's voice pulled me out of my thoughts.
"Edward, can we go to the pool?"
"You can't swim with your wig on, Bella," I told her, but she smirked at me.
"The wig is a deep red and my hairs the same length, no one would know, even if there was someone to see. Please, it will probably be my only chance to enjoy one of the motel pools."
Wanting to give her what I could, I nodded and tucked my gun in the front of my shorts, making sure my shirt covered it. We walked outside and I took a seat on one of the loungers that faced the street, my eyes drifting to where Bella was taking off her shirt beside me. Jesus, that bikini was small.
Bella danced her way into the water, hissing and saying it was cold, before she sank down up to her shoulders. "You're not joining me?"
"No, I don't have a suit. You just enjoy your swim," I said as I continued to survey the entrance, trying to keep my eyes off the water.
Bella swam for a little while before I heard the gentle splashing coming from the steps at the edge of the pool. She was dripping wet as she walked closer to me, and just before she reached me her hands reached up to pull the halter strap of her bra over her head, revealing her perky breasts to me, her nipples tight from the cold water.
"James," she whispered, moving impossibly closer, so close that I could just lean forward and take her breast into my mouth. But I couldn't do it.
"No … stop," I said in a low but firm voice, but my point was made.
Bella's hands flew up to replace her top and she dug her room key out of her shoes, slipping them on and covering herself with her shirt. I followed her, giving her a moment before I entered the room, the sound of the shower starting up gave me the answer I needed. Bella would clean up and then we could talk.
Sliding my gun into the nightstand drawer, I locked up and then waited for Bella to return. As she walked out, I could see that I had a problem. Her eyes were puffy and she watched the ground as she walked to her bed and climbed under the covers.
"Bella, I need you to look at me," I started, but she cut me off.
"No, I get it. It was stupid and I'll never do it again," she whispered. "I don't know what I expected … my entire life has been a lie, the only guy to ever show interest was just waiting for the order to off me, and the kind of guy I should be with can't stand the sight of me, except that it's his job to protect me."
"Don't you dare say that." I almost growled at her as I sat down beside her. "Alec was a lucky SOB to get the assignment he did, and if I wasn't protecting you, if this was a real road trip with just the two of us on the road together, then we'd never need a room with two beds. But it isn't. My job is to keep you alive, and if I start muddying the waters, it could get you killed. And that I won't allow."
"But if you see me that way, wouldn't it be better to act on it, then to have those thoughts running through your head as an added distraction," Bella asked her question, the hope in her voice was killing me.
"You always have an answer," I told her.
"I'm an English major, we always have plenty of words," she teased me. "Please, Edward."
In that moment, my resolve was lost. My lips touched hers and the world exploded. Clothes were discarded and we consumed each other in a flurry of arms and legs and soon, I was right where I needed to be. I was about to ask Bella if she was sure when I felt her push up, taking me into her.
I took my time with her, kissing her and showing her how special she was. My thrusts were slow and steady as I used her reactions as my guide. When Bella begged me to go harder and faster, I did, feeling her clench around me and milk my cock as we came together.
It was the most amazing sexual experience of my life, and as Bella came down under me, I kissed her forehead and then rolled off of the bed to dispose of the condom.
Instead of waiting for me, Bella joined me in the bathroom, taking the washcloth I had prepared for her and cleaning up in private. I packed our things up for the most part, so we could make a quick escape in the morning.
My need to be constantly prepared had me throwing on some underwear, and Bella did the same when she returned before she looked between the two beds. Sensing her unspoken question, I pulled back the covers and took out my gun, slipping it under the pillow closest to the door, so it would be within easy reach and then gestured for her to slide in on my left. With the blankets wrapped around us and my left arm around her shoulders, Bella and I fell asleep very quickly.
The next morning we grabbed some breakfast and headed out, Bella's hand in mine the entire time. I had this awful feeling of dread nagging at me, but as there was nothing I could do, I simply settled in and got us on our way to Pratt, Kansas where we would wait for more information.
We were on the road when Bella happened to dig through her purse for some chapstick, but what she found was her loaded wallet.
"What is this?" she asked.
"Your wallet." I tried to play it off.
"Don't be smart, I mean why do you have so much cash in here?"
"I needed you to be prepared in case you have to make a run for it," I told her.
"I'm not going anywhere without you." Her voice was defiant, causing me to turn to her.
"Bella, I know that you feel different about us after last night, but my primary goal is to keep you safe. Now more than ever. So if I tell you to go, or if you feel like something is wrong, you get out of here. If there isn't anything wrong, I'll call you and meet you, but I need to know you're safe."
I saw the tears well up in her eyes, but she nodded and held out her hand, which I immediately took and gave it a reassuring squeeze. I think she knew that we were talking about a last resort.
As we drove the four hours to Pratt, I could see why this was the place he sent us. It was a small enough town to be off of anyone's radar, but it wasn't so small that we'd stand out. I booked us a room at the Comfort Suites for a week and we settled in.
The front desk clerk gave me some local menus, and after eating diner food and takeout, I was excited by the Uptown Café, which seemed to have decent steakhouse and restaurant quality food for a decent price.
After we figured out what we wanted, I called in the order and drove to pick it up, telling Bella to wait at the hotel. We were running low on supplies, but we would be able to go to Wal-Mart in a day or two if we needed it.
For three days, we laid low in Pratt. And for three days, we didn't hear a thing.
I was beginning to wonder what the hell was taking him so long, knowing that if he didn't contact me in two days, we'd be going rogue. I couldn't risk Bella's safety by waiting around any longer than that.
It was that afternoon that she begged me to let her go shopping to pick us up some food and get us ready in case we had to start moving again. I didn't know where we would go, but I was thinking that we could head to Florida, simply because it would give us more road to travel on.
Bella changed into her green top and white athletic shorts, and we headed down the road to Wal-Mart. We started going through the grocery aisles, and soon I was giving Bella my leather jacket because the AC made her cold. We were almost done picking out our food when Bella stopped me.
"Edward, I need to get a couple of new bras and some socks, do you mind if we run back there and look?"
"You go ahead; I'll pay for this and meet you after I've got the car packed. Just wait in the dressing room and I'll come get you."
"Okay, see you in a few," she said, kissing my cheek before she ran off toward the back of the store.
It took me ten minutes to pay, pack the car, and head back into the store, but it seemed it was eleven minutes too long. My phone vibrated and I pulled it out to see a text from Bella.
You shouldn't have left me alone, Agent. Now you'll never see me again.
My blood ran cold as I ran to the back of the store, scaring the shit out of the fitting room attendant.
"Excuse me; did you see a young woman with chin-length red hair leave this area?" I asked, already knowing that it could be too late.
"Yes, she left with a short blonde woman; they headed in the direction of the bathroom." The middle-aged woman pointed to the corner of the store and I ran to the corner, seeing the door beside it that led to the back room.
I ran through and saw her wig on the ground headed towards the loading docks, so I continued to run, my gun drawn as I checked out trailer after trailer until I saw the last person I ever expected to see.
Standing in front of me was my supervisor, Marcus Frank.
"Mr. Frank, what are you doing here? Have you figured out the leak?"
"I always knew who the leak was, it was you, Cullen," Marcus said as I felt a sharp impact to the back of my head and everything went blurry. "Get him in our trailer, we have work to do."
I woke up to a massive headache and tightness in my limbs and I quickly realized it was because I was tied up. I struggled against my restraints until I heard a whimper, drawing my attention to the pallet on the floor of the truck that held a bound Bella. Her eyes were red and puffy and she was marked up, like they'd roughed her up just because they could.
Marcus was standing in the back of the trailer, talking to the short blonde that had lured her out of the dressing area, both of them looking up and noticing that I was awake.
"So, this patsy is the man that captured my brother?" the woman spoke in a heavy Italian accent.
"He's a skilled agent, someone we were lucky to have, but also someone who we can easily create a paper trail proving that he was bought and paid for by the Volturi family. Phil Dwyer will arrive demanding for someone to explain how his brother-in-law and daughter were killed under our protection, as all of those who were believed to be involved in running operations are sitting in a cell somewhere, and we'll take him out. The evidence will be compromised or destroyed before it is ever processed, and your family will be set free," Marcus explained it as if he was reading a manual, but I knew that he'd seriously lost it if he thought that would all happen without a hitch.
"It'll never happen, and there are people out there who know that you set this up, this will fall back on you."
"No one will know where to find me if they begin to suspect that you had help higher up. I'm on vacation and I don't think I'll be catching my return flight to Washington DC," Marcus sneered.
"Give me his gun," the woman spoke, but Marcus tried to stop her.
"Jane, I -" His comment was cut off by her stare as one of the two men who were standing on either side of the trailer between Bella and I, and took my gun from him.
Jane walked over and pulled Bella up by her hair, the gun resting against her temple when the tractor trailer swerved hard, knocking everyone off their feet and me onto my side. The next few things happened very quickly.
Bella rolled onto her knees and managed to bend her body so that she could get her bound arms past her ass and then tucked forward to get her feet through, bringing her hands around to the front of her body.
Jane had just recovered the weapon, but Bella slammed into her and pushed at the gun, managing to aim it at one of the guards right as Jane pulled the trigger.
It wasn't a killing blow, but another solid hit to her arms, and the extra few inches gave Bella the advantage as the truck tipped over as it ran off the road.
A sickening crack echoed through the space as the force of the truck falling caused my bound arm to break as it hit the side of the trailer. I couldn't see the next few shots, but I heard them as three shots were fired and then the awkward sound of Bella trying to hop over to where I was lying.
"Edward, are you okay?" she asked, panicked as she tugged and struggled against the ropes that were around my wrist.
"Besides a broken arm and a bump on the head, I'll be okay. How about you?"
She managed to untie one of my hands and then the other so that I could start to work on hers. "What the hell happened to the truck?"
"I don't know, but we better get ourselves free before anything -"
Before I could even finish my sentence, the back off the truck opened up and the familiar sounds of an FBI team filled the space.
"FBI, don't move," echoed around the space and soon there were several men surrounding us.
"Freeze, Cullen," one of the agents said and I did as he asked, but Bella covered my body with hers.
"Don't hurt him. He was set up by the man over there; I think they said his name was Marcus."
"Bella!" A voice I'd only ever heard on tape roared as a man that had Bella's nose and smile bent down to look her over.
"Phil?" she whispered.
"Yes, do you know who I am?" he asked, hesitant.
"You're my birth father; you're also FBI, like Edward."
"Edward was FBI, but after this stunt -"
"It wasn't a stunt. From the moment I've met him, he's been honest with me. And I heard Marcus talking today, as well as the one-sided conversation between the two of them back in Forks that caused us to leave. He was set up, Phil, you have to believe me."
He looked between the two of us and then ran his hand through his hair. "We have a lot to straighten out, but first, let's get you two checked out."
My legs were cut free from the chair, and Bella and I were loaded into the same ambulance, much to Phil's annoyance.
By the end of the day, we were released from the hospital, me with a cast on my left forearm, and Bella with nothing more than some stitches.
Then the fun began.
We learned that my team hadn't been compromised, but instead, Marcus led me to believe so in order to separate Bella and me from the group. When they suspected something was amiss, they made a call to Interpol, because they didn't know who the rat was.
It took time to get everything coordinated and to get Phil into the country, but once he was in Washington, Jacob finally opened up to the man who had proof that he was connected to Bella and Charlie.
Jacob had told him that he had lo-jack installed in the car, but hadn't turned it on because of the fact that he knew who had it. With that information, and my cell phone, which Jacob had helped Phil's team locate, they knew who my last call had come from. It took some convincing before they realized that I truly had been set up, but we'd have to appear at Marcus' trial.
I was truly petrified until I was told I was free to go, but my first order of business was to go with Bella and Phil to clear out my office. I'd been cleared of any wrong-doing, but in the end I knew I'd never be able to trust completely when it came to my coworkers, and after I'd failed so miserably in protecting Bella, I couldn't trust myself with an assignment that put someone else's life on the line.
With no idea what to do with my life, I packed up my life and decided to return to Chicago and be closer to my family. The only thing that didn't surprise me was who invited herself along.
"You're not getting rid of me that easy," she told me as she threw her bags into the back of my SUV.
"I thought you were hanging around to spend some time with Phil?" Since my release, I'd barely seen her, as she was trying to connect with the only family she had left.
"He's leaving tomorrow, but he said once this last wrinkle is ironed out, he'll come visit me wherever I land. So, I thought I could pack up my storage space in Phoenix and transfer to a school in Chicago. It would give us a chance to get to know each other better."
"You'd change your whole life around for me?" I asked her seriously.
"You're the reason I have a life to change. You gave me a reason to fight when I could have lie down and let them win. I'd like to give us a chance, but I don't want to pressure you into anything you don't want." She added the last part quickly, but I was already tugging her into my arms.
"I remember telling you that if we were taking a road trip and it wasn't strictly business, that we'd only need one bed. And this time, we're upgrading hotels."
Her laugh rang out as she looked in the back of my truck. "How is this everything you own?"
"I lived in a furnished apartment, and I didn't have enough time at home to clutter it up. Think we can fit your stuff in there too?"
"What we can't fit, we'll ship to Chicago. I'm ready to start the next chapter of my life, and I'm glad to have you with me."
"Same here, I don't know what the future holds, but as long as I have you, we'll survive."