Disclaimer: All the Twilight stuff belongs to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. Special thanks goes out to toocute24, Jess2002, and Alice's White Rabbit. Any and all mistakes are owned by Weekitty and TeamAllTwilight.
I sign my name on the dotted line.
"Congratulations, Miss Swan. Here are the documents and keys. The blue key is for the main front door, and the red one is for the back door and fire exits. The green key is for the closets and cupboards, and the yellow key is for the utility room in the basement. I've addressed the envelopes floor two, floor three, and floor four. Each have the floor room keys in them. There is only one key per door. The blank envelope has the keys for the top floor. In the case that you would like more keys, you will need to have them copied."
I force a smile, nodding my head as I take the documents, envelopes, and keys from Mr. Jenks.
"Your insurance on the property is active as of noon tomorrow. Well, that's everything I have for you, Miss Swan. The only thing left for me to do is wish you good luck."
"Thank you, Mr. Jenks. Thank you for everything." I watch him give me a sad smile and a wink.
I walk out of the office, heading to my truck. I get in and drive towards my new home, which also doubles as my new business. Four months ago, my grandmother, Victoria Swan, passed away and left everything to me. I've found myself wondering who she was and what she was like. You see, I never met her.
Maybe it will be better for me to tell you a little about myself, first. My name is Isabella Maria Swan, and I have just turned twenty-one years old. I have no siblings, and my mother died from cancer a few months after my birth.
It was during her three month check-up that they found a lump in her breast. It was cancer, yet she refused to abort me or get treatment that could end my chance at life. She carried out the high risk pregnancy, paying the ultimate price of her life in the end.
They operates as soon as I was born, but it was too late — the cancer had spread. She died to give me life.
My father became a single parent and lived for me. At no point in my life did he make me feel like it was my fault. On my sixteenth birthday, he handed me a locket that belonged to my mother. She had it engraved and had put it aside for me when I reached the age of sixteen. The engraving was of five words, and was written in an elegant script. It reads: 'more than my own life.'
I was so touched by it that I've never taken it off since.
I was a real daddy's girl growing up. I loved my father very much. He was the chief of police in our small town of Forks, yet he always made time for me. He was good at his job, and had the youth of the town a little afraid of him, so they all respected him. Everyone knew he was hard, but he was also always fair. Some thought he was mean, but to me, he was nothing more than a teddy bear.
He was great at many things; sadly, cooking was not one of them. I often told him I would cook for us, but he never allowed me to. He said that was not my job, and I was too young. Most of our meals when I was younger were from the diner or the pizza delivery place.
When I was fifteen, I'd had enough of the unhealthy food, so I demanded that he allow me to cook. From then on, four days a week, I became the chef of the household. I had just started to become good at cooking when Charlie suffered from a heart attack. He died during open heart surgery, when I was only seventeen.
They never said that it was the greasy food that killed him, but I often wonder: if I had cooked earlier for us, would he still be alive today?
It was after his death that I first found out my father's mother was still alive. I was shocked to find that she was in prison for killing her husband, James. She had already served ten years of her fifteen year sentence at the time of Charlie's death.
When the Department of Children and Family Services declared that I had no family able to care for me, I was deemed a ward of the state for the next ten months.
I lived in a children's home, and was kicked out on my eighteenth birthday. That's when I found out that the house Charlie and I lived in was not ours; it belonged to the town of Forks, and was used to house the Chief of Police. The new Chief of Police was now staying there with his family. All I had was the small inheritance I got from Charlie's insurance after all the bills were paid. But really, how far will seven thousand dollars go?
I lived in my truck for the first few months while I looked for both a place to live, and a job. I wanted to be someone who would make my mom and dad proud.
After a short time, I found a job in the local diner. Mike, a boy from the local school, managed to talk his parents into giving the job to me. He then helped me find an apartment just outside of town. It wasn't very big, but I could afford it. There were only two rooms: a great room that housed my kitchen, bedroom, and living room, and then a bathroom. I paid fifty-five a week for rent, and utilities were included. I had to take it.
The years passed, and I pretty much worked and watched my friends all go to college. Mike became my boyfriend, and for a short while, things were good. Then at the beginning of this year, I found out that Mike had been seeing Jessica. He told me he didn't know how to break it off with me because he cared about me. He did say that he knew I wasn't the girl for him to marry, though, because he wanted someone who was going places — someone who had been to or was going to college.
Things were hard for the first few months because my friends where his and Jessica friends, too, so I slowly lost each one of them. Sadly, I had no choice but to keep working in his family's business, though. I hated listening to his mother go on about how great Jessica was, and that her son picked the right girl. I didn't think my life could get any worse, but I was wrong. My landlord came one day and gave me an eviction notice. The apartment building had been sold, and the new owners didn't want any tenants.
That was the day I first met Mr. Jenks. He came in and ordered a meal at the diner. After he came in a few times, he talked to me. On the fifth time, which happened to be my twenty-first birthday, he told me about my Grandmother Swan. She was released in March of this year. He then broke the news, telling me that she had sadly passed away two months ago in the Swan Hotel.
I was unsure what exactly he was telling me, or why he even felt the need. I kept listening to him, though, as he repeated that, as I'm the only remaining family member, she has left everything to me in her will.
Two weeks after that, I finished up at the diner, handed in my apartment keys, and made my way to Seattle. There was a ton of paperwork to go through before I was awarded anything, and I found myself, once again, living in my truck. It took another four weeks to complete the necessary paperwork. So here I am, on October the twenty-sixth — the new owner of a hotel — and I really have no idea how to run one.
I pull in to the hotel parking lot and look at the building. I've never been here before, but Mr. Jenks told me a little about it. The building construction was started in 1855, but work stopped on it briefly during a small war with an Indian tribe in the winter of 1856. It and the land were bought by my great-great-great grandfather in 1870. Construction began again, and the hotel was completed and opened for business in 1875.
It has a full basement, which has a large laundry area where there are six washing machines and six dryers. The electrical room is down there, too, along with some storage space. On the ground floor, Jenks said that the main door opens into a large reception area, with the reception desk facing the front doors.
Behind the desk is the main office; to the left of the reception desk are the stairs and elevator. The long hallway leads to the large dining and ballroom, with the kitchen at the back. The kitchen is very large and open, and has industrial ovens, stoves, and walk-in coolers.
There are another four floors. The first three each have thirty rooms: nine single rooms, fifteen double rooms, and six family suites that can hold up to six occupants. Each room or suite has its own bathroom. The top floor is the family living quarters for the hotel owners.
I take a deep breath and open the main door. I hear the click of the lock disengaging, but the door doesn't budge, so I bang it with my hip while pushing. After a few hits, it finally opens.
I'm stunned. The place is clearly very dusty. It looks as if no one has been in here in years; not the four months it's actually been. Even with all the dust, though, this place looks to be truly spectacular. I walk around the ground floor and smile at how beautiful the place looks. Or, will look after a good and very thorough cleaning.
The only thing wrong with the place so far, apart from the dirt and dust, is that it feels really cold. I wrap my jacket around me tightly and head down to the basement to turn on the pilot light for the heating and make sure the electricity is on.
I'm glad when I get down there, seeing that the heating unit and electrical box both have instructions. The electricity comes on without a problem, but the heater takes a bit longer. I suspected that Grandma Swan didn't turn it back on when she was here.
I grab my bags from my truck and head back into the hotel. I take the stairs so I can see each floor for myself. At the top, I open the door to my new living area. Again, I'm taken aback by how beautiful it is. After a quick look around, I notice that, unlike the rest of the hotel, these rooms seem to have less dust. I start to think that when she was released from the hospital, she just came up here, not bothering with the rest of the hotel. It's odd, but it almost feels like she came here to die. That thought saddens me — that anyone should ever have to feel that kind of loneliness.
I'm still unsure about what made Charlie stop speaking to her, or even talking about her. Knowing answers are impossible right now, I look around the rooms some more. I see that I have a living room, kitchen, three bedrooms, and a bathroom. I also notice a lot of pictures hanging on the walls. There's a tall man with dirty blond hair that is pulled back into a ponytail. The woman is tall, too, but has brownish-red hair. In between them, in a few of the photos, is a small boy. There are a lot more of my dad as a small boy. I can't help but smile at seeing him as a young child. I still miss him so much. There are other pictures, too, but I'm not sure who all is in them.
I dump my bags and grab my wallet before heading back out to the store. I buy everything I think I will need to get the place cleaned up, a few food items, and a few mixed CDs with various artists. I was happy when I went into the main kitchen and saw a boom box that looked to be in good working order.
It was really late by the time I got back to the hotel, and it's been one long day. I decide that it's best for me to call it an early night tonight, and start the cleaning first thing tomorrow. I wipe down the microwave and heat up my meal for one. I switch on the TV and listen to the news as I eat my dinner. As I feel my eyes close, I switch the TV to the sleep setting and let my drowsiness pull me under.
"AND NOW, ON WE GO TO ANNA FOR TODAY'S WEATHER REPORT," the TV sound blares out. I sit straight up and, grabbing the remote, I put the TV on mute. I rub my face, trying to wake myself up more. After a quick stretch, I head to the bathroom to wash up. I turn on the tap and watch as the water drips out. I turn the tap again, and the water stops completely. I try the other tap, and again, nothing happens.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
I jump back and reach to turn off both of the taps. Before I can, a dirty red sludge gushes out of both of the faucets, soaking me completely. I twist the knobs closed while screaming.
After a few attempts to try to turn the fuckers off, I give up and drop to the floor, looking under the sink for the mains.
"Where the hell are you?" I throw everything out of the cupboard, searching for the knobs. When I pull the last thing I see out of my way, I sigh. I reach in to turn the knob, only for the water to stop before I can shut off the main.
"That's just great! I mean, really! Could you not have done that earlier?" I flop to the floor, seeing the mess I just made, and close my eyes. "I'm supposed to be cleaning this place up, not making more messes!"
Bang. Bang. Bang.
My eyes open wide and I look at the pipes. "Okay. First things first — I'm turning you off for safety sake, and then I'm calling a plumber." I turn off the water supply using the righty-tighty saying in my head.
I put on my shoes and head downstairs into the office. I pick up the phone book and start to scan. "Plumbers, plumbers," I mumble as I find the page. I see there are a few to choose from. "Just start at the top and work your way down." I pick up the phone and dial the number for Cullen Plumbing and Heating. The phone book says Emmett Cullen is the owner. Hearing nothing on the other end, I tap the end call button on the desk phone. I let go and still hear nothing. I let out a sigh. "Okay, new first things first — find a working phone and have the phone line connected."
I grab my keys and wallet and head out to find a phone. As I walk around, I look at all the businesses, and I can't help but smile as I come across Cullen P.I.P.E.S. office. I walk over and head inside. Looking around, I see that the place is a little strange looking for a Plumbing and Heating office. It doesn't look much like a manual laborer's office at all.
"Hello! You've got the wrong Cullen, but it's all right. I can phone Emmett for you." I turn, wide-eyed, and look at the small woman that seemed to have just appeared from out of nowhere.
"I was out back; I just came through that door," she says, gesturing with her finger. I look to where she's pointing and nod my head. I turn back to her and look down. I thought I was small — I'm only five foot two — but I clearly have a few inches on her.
"I'm Alice. I'll just ring Emmett for you. Do you know what the problem is, or do you want him to have a look and give you an estimate?" I gape at her, still confused.
"How did you know that I was looking for Emmett?"
Alice lets out a laugh and dances around me. "You don't look like the kind of girl that does the whole wet t-shirt contest first thing on a Saturday morning." I'm really starting to think this Alice and I are having two different conversations.
"Your t-shirt is wet, and it is not raining. Which means (a) you having pluming problems or (b) you just took part in most boy's favorite fantasy and did the whole wet t-shirt contest thing. After taking in your whole look, you seem to be a nice girl. I'd even say you're a little shy maybe. Don't get me wrong, you have a nice body, and I'm sure you know how to have fun, but you don't look the type to do the whole cold wet t-shirt in a bar thing."
I feel a blush cover my face as I look down, realizing that I didn't change before leaving. "First thing should've been to get dressed for the day," I say to myself.
Alice chuckles into the phone. "Hey, Emmett," she stops laughing and rolls her eyes. "Edward, my favorite brother!" I turn away from her and take a look around the office.
"He is, too," I hear Alice growl, which makes me turn back to her. "I am the only sister you have. You have no choice but to have me as your favorite." She stops again and rolls her eyes. "Emmett, we can finish this later, I have a girl here." Alice's face changes to a look of disgust. "Emmett, that is not okay. I am your sister and you are married. Besides, she's a little young for me." Alice turns to look me up and down. "She's cute. Nice body, good set of tits. She looks to be around twenty-one." Alice looks into my eyes and hers widen when she realizes for the first time that I can hear everything she's saying.
"Anyway, Emmett, she needs her plumbing looked at." Alice slaps her forehead. "Not that plumbing, Emmett. What is your address?"
I look at her and she points to me.
"Yes, your address." I shake my head and shrug my shoulders. She gives me a puzzled look. I mean, really…who the hell doesn't know their own address? Besides me, that is.
"I just moved in last night. I haven't really been in town long. It's the hotel just down the road from here, across from the park."
Alice looks at me questioningly. "Seattle Swan Hotel?"
I nod my head at her.
"Thank you, Emmett. I'll let her know." She hangs up and walks back to me. "He'll be there at noon. So, do you want to call the phone company before you go?"
I look at her. "How did you know my phone wasn't working?"
She chuckles again. "Well, you're here, you're wet, and you're in your pajamas. It wasn't hard to work it all out." I nod my head and then use the phone.
I find out that I will need to wait a week before they can have the phone switched on. I let out a sigh after hanging up. "Where is the nearest ATM from here?"
Alice looks at me and smiles. "At the end of the block."
"Well, thank you, Alice — for calling Emmett and for letting me use your phone." I put my hand out for her to shake.
"No problem …" She trails off and I nod my head.
"Bella. Bella Swan," I tell her.
"Bella Swan. Feel free to drop in anytime. I'll even read your tea leaves for free. Hey, before you go ..." she walks into the back and comes back a few seconds later with a sweater in her hand. "Take this and put it on. Your top is still really wet. You can just give it to Emmett when he comes by."
I give her a smile. "Thank you again, Alice."
I put the sweater on and give Alice a wave as I head out the door and down to where the ATM is. I slide my card and then put in my pin. Then I hit the button for the balance to appear on screen. I do a mental dance when I see my available balance to be twenty-four thousand five hundred and sixty-five dollars. I'm so happy that the inheritance check I received last week has finally cleared.
I withdraw some cash, buy some cheap bottled water, and then head back to the hotel. As soon as I arrive, I head upstairs to get changed. After getting dressed, I grab the boom box out of the main floor kitchen and move it into the reception area. I put in my Evanescence CD. I heat some of the bottled water, and after mixing it with cleaner, I spray the counter and begin to clean.
"Wake me up," I sing out along with Amy Lee.
"Wake me up inside. I can't wake —"
I feel a hand clamp down on my shoulder. "AHHH-UP!" The word 'up' came out along with a scream. I turn to face the intruder.
"Hey…hey, no worries small fry, I come in peace. No need to clean me."
I look to the bear of a man that's standing in front of me with his hands in the air, one of which is pointing at the cleaner in my hand.
"I'm Emmett Cullen. My sister, Alice, said that you wanted an estimate?"
I nod my head as I feel a blush spreading across my face. Putting the cleaner spray and dish cloth down, I wipe my hands on my top and put my right hand out.
"Yes. I'm Bella."
Emmett smiles and shakes my hand. "Hello, Bella."
As I look up at him, my neck starts to hurt. This guy must be at least six foot seven. "Shit, you're huge!"
Emmett chuckles and then grins at me. "Why, thank you," he says with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
Again, I feel my face blush, and I hold up one finger. "Okay, backtrack and let me put it this way. Shit, you're really tall!"
Emmett let out another chuckle. "I think we're gonna be friends, Little B. So tell me what the problem is, and then I'll have a look at the hotel's pipes for you."
I walk Emmett upstairs to my bathroom, showing him the water that came out.
"The pipes are quite old, and from what you've told me, and what I know of this place, they haven't been used in thirteen or fourteen years. I could fix these pipes up for you, but it won't last very long. I would recommend that you get new ones put in."
I rub my head while looking at him. "How much would that cost?"
Emmett nods his head to the sitting room. "It could cost a whole lot, but there's a way to cut the price down. I can take a look at the rooms you have, work out how much pipe I'll need, and determine how long the job will take to complete." I nod my head at him.
"I'll just get you the keys for the rooms." I jump up, grabbing the envelopes with the keys in them.
"Bella, if you don't mind me asking, how did you come by this place? I mean, I grew up here. Well, not here-here, but just down the road. This place has been closed for almost fifteen years."
I look up at him. "It was my grandmother's hotel. She passed away a few months ago, and she left it to me in her will. I never knew about this place until a few months ago. Hell, I didn't even know her; I never met her. I'm not sure why she left it to me."
Emmett nods his head at me. "Okay, Bella. I'm going to have a look around."
I give him a smile. "I'll be downstairs cleaning if you need me." I walk him out, leaving him on the third floor.
I put the music back on and look around for the spray. I don't see it anywhere, and it most certainly isn't where I thought I left it. I must have carried it upstairs, so I head back up to get it.
I look down the hallway but see nothing.
I frown. "Emmett, are you all right?" I call out, but don't hear anything in response, so I move down the hallway.
"Bella, please hurry!"
I run towards the sound of the voice. "Emmett, where are you?" I look around to where I thought I heard the voice coming from. As my eyes catch the mirror, I notice a figure standing behind me. I quickly turn around, but there's nothing there.
"Bella…Bella…" the voice calls again, and I notice now it sounds strange — almost scratchy.
"Emmett, this is not funny! Where are you?"
"Bella, come and play with me." I look to the door where the voice seems to be coming from now. I put my hand on the door knob and turn it, but find that the door is locked.
"Emmett, are you in there?" I knock on the door. "Emmett, can you hear me?" I knock on the door again, louder this time.
"Who is Emmett?" I look at the door and step back. When I hear a click, I feel myself freeze.
It sounds as if someone is turning the knob when a hand taps my shoulder. I let out the loudest scream and turn, hitting the person now in front of me.
"Hey, Bella, what's wrong? I heard you were calling my name." I feel hands gripping mine, and I look up at Emmett.
I glance at the closed door and then to him again. "What? Emmett, weren't you just in that room? You had to be! I mean…you were calling my name."
Emmett shakes his head at me. "No, Bella; I was still upstairs. I only just started on the third floor. I know I work pretty fast, but not that fast."
"No. You were calling my name — asking me to come play with you. You were in that room," I say, pointing to the door. "I even heard you unlock it before you touched my shoulder."
Emmett looks at me strangely and shakes his head. He moves around me then and twists the knob. "The door is still locked, Bella."
I rub my head. "I must be hearing things. Sorry. I haven't had much sleep these past few weeks. I wouldn't recommend sleeping in a truck; it's not comfy at all."
Emmett gives me half a smile. "Why were you sleeping in a truck?"
I look at him a chuckle. "I was kind of homeless and penniless. The paperwork for this place took a lot longer than I thought it would. While I may still be penniless, at least I'm not homeless anymore."
Emmett frowns. "Why didn't you stay with the 'rents?"
I bit my lip, turned, and started to walk back toward the reception area. "They've both passed away. Don't worry; I have a little money to get this place off the ground. I'm just hoping that what I have is enough."
Emmett walks back up the stairs with me, stopping on the third floor. "Bella, I really will try and do this as cheap as I can for you. If I do the work myself, that will cut down on costs, but it may take a little longer."
I shake my head at him. "No, Emmett, please. I don't want you to feel sorry for me. I'm planning to get a job, so I'll be making more money soon. I just wanted to have a good start on this place first."
Emmett shakes his head. "Right. Well, then, you better stop talking to me and start working, because you've got a lot to do."
I watch Emmett walk back down the hallway, whistling to himself. I head up another flight of steps and into the living room. I'm still unable to find the cleaning spray anywhere, though. I let out a sigh and head back downstairs to the kitchen to get a new spray bottle.
As I pass the reception desk, I see the spray bottle I was using sitting right there, where I swear I already looked. "Girl, you're really beginning to lose your mind. And, talking out loud to oneself is another clue to prove that. Yes, this girl has cracked and needs a gag apparently. Wait; why the hell am I talking about myself in third person? Never mind; please don't answer that."
I pick up the spray bottle and notice that it was sitting on an old guest registry.
"I think I'll look at you later," I say before I start cleaning again. As I move around the room, I clean the walls and floor. Suddenly I begin to feel cold again, so I grab the sweater that I brought down earlier and put it on.
"Hey, Bella. This place is really cold isn't it? I'm glad you haven't turned on the heat, though. If you had, it would've burst a lot of your pipes."
I turn and look at Emmett. "I did turn on the heat. Well, I turned on the pilot light yesterday after I arrived."
Emmett nods his head. "All right, I was heading down there anyway; I'll turn it off. I'll come back tomorrow and fix it so you have hot water in your living area."
I give him a smile "Thanks, Emmett."
"I'll give my brother a call, too, and have him bring some electric heaters for you. This place is really cold. At this rate, you'd be better off staying outside; it would be warmer."
I give him a big smile. "Well, that's nice. You do that and I'll cook you up a great lunch. I'll even bake you a cake as a thank you."
Emmett's eyes widen and I see him beginning to drool. I chuckle, watching him shake his head as he walks away. When he's gone, I start singing, dancing, and cleaning again.
I set the radio on the stairs so that I can mop the floor. I use the mop as a dance partner, lifting it up and down as I twirl around.
"It's raining men, hallelujah! It's raining men, amen! I'm gonna go out, I'm gonna let myself get absolutely soaking wet."
I turn and bang right into what I think is a wall. I chuckle as I feel myself blush. I look up, assuming it's Emmett, since walls don't move. "Sorry, Emm — Wait, you're not Emmett." I look up at the face of the guy I just danced into, and he's staring down at me.
I clear my throat as I step back. "Hi, I'm Bella. Are you looking for something? I mean…we're not open, as you can see." I stop, noticing the dark shades he has on. Oh, fuck! Please, this man can't be blind; I just crashed into him. "You can see, right?" I keep my eyes on the guy and see one of his eyebrows raise up above his shades. My eyes drop to his leg as I look for signs of a white stick.
I hear him chuckle. "You realize that you got me soaked when you banged into me, right?"
I give him a puzzled look and let out a stupid sounding, "huh?"
He points down to his thigh and I see a large damp spot where the mop must have hit him.
I blush as I slap my forehead. "I'm really sorry." I turn and run over to the reception desk, placing the mop down and picking up some paper towels. I head back over to him, and go to wipe at the damp patch.
"Hey, Sweetheart, I don't let a girl do that 'til the second date." I immediately stop my hand mid-reach and blush. I hear the guy chuckle again as he takes the paper towels. "You sure blush a lot."
I close my eyes, then open one and grin at him. "So, not blind then?"
He shakes his head, taking off the shades and putting them so they hang on the pocket inside his jacket. "No, I'm not. I'm Edward. My brother asked me to bring over some heaters."
I smile at him, sticking my hand out for him to shake. Edward takes my hand, smiling.
I look up at him and see that he is really tall, too. I'd say about six-four. "Wow, you and your brother sure are tall. You're just not as big as your brother is."
The boom of laughter coming from behind me cuts me off. "No, B, remember I'm huge, and no one is as big as me." I feel myself blush as I turn to see Emmett coming towards us. "Hey, Ed. I see you met my new best friend, Bella."
Edward looks at me, smiling brightly. "Yes, we were just introducing ourselves."
Emmett chuckles. "I bet you were, Little Boy. Now, if you can let go of Bella's hand, we can get the heaters in here and running before she freezes."
I drop my eyes from Edward's face and pull my hand from his. I hear a slap and a chuckle as they both head out the door.
"This is no time to get googly-eyed for a boy. Well, he's actually a man — a HOT man, not a boy." I close my eyes, moving away from the door. "That is so not the point and you really need to stop talking to yourself!"
I trip over the bucket and land on my ass. "Okay, no more walking with your eyes closed either!"
Static suddenly sounds loudly from the boom box, so I turn to look at it. I get up and move toward it as I hear the static changing — almost as if someone is changing the channel. It stops, and I can hear low singing, so I move even closer to it.
"Ring a round the rosy, a pocket full of posies. Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down!" I look to the radio, as the song begins again. "Ring a round the rosy, a pocket full of posies. Ashes!"
I bend my head down to see that it hasn't changed channels, "Ashes! We all…"
I put my hand out to change it to another channel, but before I can touch it… "This is Steven Martin with the two o'clock news," blasts out at me from the speakers. I jump back, startled from the broadcaster's loud voice.
"Hey, Bella, are you all right? You're looking a little pale."
I turn to see Emmett as he carries in two heaters. Edward comes in right behind him, carrying one.
"This one gives out the most heat. Show me where you're sleeping and I'll put it there."
I look at Edward and nod my head.
"Jesus Christ, Edward! You only just met the girl and you're already demanding to see her bedroom?"
I bite my lip, looking at Emmett and then at Edward, who is sending his brother a death glare.
I clear my throat. "My room is up on the top floor. I haven't gotten the elevator switched on yet, so we'll need to take the stairs. I mean, you can leave it down here if you want, and I can carry it up later."
Edward shakes his head at me. "No, Bella, it's fine. I can carry it upstairs for you. Please ignore Emmett. I think our mom dropped him on his head a few times when he was a baby, and his head has been in the gutter ever since."
I chuckle, hearing Emmett agree with the comment.
"How many times do you go up and down these stairs?" he asks as we make our way to the top floor.
I look at Edward and frown. "I only moved in yesterday. It sure has been a lot so far today, though. I guess it's one sure way to keep me fit and out of the gym."
Edward's eyes scan me and I blush, looking anywhere but at him. "I can take a look at it. I'm sure I'll be able to get it working for you — the elevator, that is."
I shake my head at him. "No, I couldn't ask you to do that."
Edward smiles at me. "You didn't ask me, I offered."
I walk a little in front of him, opening the door. "This is me here," I say before walking into the room.
Edward walks in behind me and sets the heater down. "Wow, it's really big in here. Do your quarters take up the whole floor?"
I start to nod, but then stop to think about his question. I end up shrugging my shoulders. "I'm not really sure, to be honest. I think it may be smaller because…" I stop and chuckle. "I — well, you know, I really don't know. I've really only been in this room, the bathroom, and the kitchen."
Edward nods his head at me again and then smiles. "Do you want to take a look now? I'd love to see it." I watch as he bounces on the balls of his feet, looking really excited.
"Sure. Well, this is the living room. As you can see, this is where I slept last night." Edward smiles and follows me as I head to the kitchen. "This is the kitchen. I love it. There's so much room in here, and I love to cook. The main one downstairs is even better."
Edward smiles as he looks around it. "My mom would love this. In fact, she would kill for a kitchen like this. And, if the one downstairs is really better than this, well, you better watch out because she would kill you to have it." He gives me a wide grin to let me know that he's only kidding.
I show him the bathroom and the other bedrooms. We come to a door and I unlock it, but just like the main one was at first, it's stuck. I bang it with my hip but still it won't budge.
"Bella, may I try?" I look at Edward and nod my head at him.
"Sure, bang away at it."
Edward gives me a look and chuckles.
I shake my head and blush slightly. "Ah, thank God Emmett wasn't here to come up with a dirty comeback, huh?"
Edward grins, nodding his head at me as he uses his shoulder to force the door open. It opens to reveal a hallway, so we make our way down. When we open the first door, we find that there's a pool.
"Wow! Jenks never told me about this."
Edward turns his head to look at me. "Jenks?"
I keep eye contact with Edward as we walk around the pool. "He's the lawyer that dealt with my grandmother's estate; he did all the paperwork."
Edward nods his head as we walk out and head down the hallway again. "This kind of excites me. You know, the whole— what's behind door number two?"
I smile, noticing that we're now standing outside the second door. I wave my hand in front of me for Edward to proceed, and when he opens it, and we see what looks like a gym. We make our way around, finding that there are another four rooms connected to it. There's a large changing room that's sectioned off: one side for women and one for men. Each side has lockers, showers, and toilets. The second room has a boxing ring and a bunch of boxing equipment. The third room is a sauna and steam room, and the last room houses one of the largest Jacuzzis I've ever seen. Edward looks impressed and gives me the whole 'wow' look.
We walk out and head further down the hallway to the next room. It looks like an office with a rather large library that still has loads of books in it.
"Two rooms left," I say as I smile, opening the next door. We walk in to see what appears to be a game room. There are several pool tables, some slot machines, a Black Jack table, poker table, roulette table, and a long bar across the back wall.
"Why did Jenks not know all this was up here?" I ask out loud, knowing no one can answer that.
Edward shrugs his shoulders as we head for the last room. He opens the double doors and we go in. I see what looks like a second dining room. We walk into the room more, and hear a whining sound. I look at Edward, who pulls a device from his jacket pocket that's making the loud noise.
"What is that?" I ask, pointing to the strange device. Edward frowns, looking at me.
"It's an EMF detector."
I give him a look that says 'it's a what?' He sighs deeply. "It's an electromagnetic field detector. It picks up paranormal activity."
I give him a confused look, and then check out the machine again; it's still whining.
"What does that sound mean?"
Edward walks around the room, holding the device up at different angles. "It means that there could be paranormal activity in here."
I look at him and then around the room. "What do mean? Are you saying that there's something here? Like…a ghost?"
Edward looks at me sadly and takes out another device. "This is a wireless digital weather station. It lets me know if there is a sudden temperature drop." He hands it to me and brings out a third device. "This is an infrared camera. It can pick up images that are in a specific spectrum of light, which the human eye can't see." I give him a look as if to ask, 'are you nuts?'
Edward turns to look right at me. "I know that you more than likely now think that I'm a nut job, but yes, I believe in ghosts, spirits, entities, and the paranormal. It's actually what I do, I investigate paranormal activity."
I let out a little chuckle. "You're a ghost hunter? And you think there's a ghost in this room with us right now?" Edward sighs but nods his head.
I can't help but shake mine. "All right, Bella, no spooky films for you tonight."
Edward frowns at me so I roll my eyes at him. "You don't get it. You hunt ghosts, I talk to myself in the third person, and I actually think that kind of makes us equally crazy."
Edward chuckles but stops and frowns when the whining stops. He hits the device with the palm of his hand. I look at him and then down at the device that is now quiet. "What does that mean? Is it gone?" Edward shakes his head, looks up at me, and then looks over each of the devices.
"No; it picks up residue, as well. So even if the ghost left, the readings would get lower but not stop completely." Edward frowns as he puts each of the devices back in his jacket pockets. "Bella, do me a favor, don't come in here again, okay? I'll come back tomorrow with more of my equipment to see if I can get to the bottom of this."
Edward looks right in my eyes, and I'm stunned not only by how green they are, but how they are pleading with me to agree with his request.
"Bella, I know you don't believe me, but could you at least humor me?"
I nod my head as I watch Edward smile at me, whispering a soft 'thank you'. We walk out the door together, and Edward locks it, putting the key in his pocket. I look around the wall to see that there is still another door.
"There's one more door. Why don't we check it out, and then we can head back down to Emmett?"
Edward frowns at me, looking at the wall. "What door?" I look at him before shaking my head.
"That door." I point directly at it. Edward's gaze moves to where I'm pointing and then back at me, but he still looks confused. I roll my eyes, step forward, and push on the door, causing it to opens. I peek in and see stairs, and Edward follows me as we walk down them.
"Bella, how did you know that was a door? There was no knob there, and it blended in with the wall."
I turn to look at him. "I saw the light come out from the gap. Didn't you see it?" Edward shakes his head, but I just shrug my shoulders. We look to see that we've come to yet another door. Edward steps in front of me, pushing it open, and we walk into the downstairs dining room.
"This must be how people got up and down without going through the living quarters."
We walk out and head back to Emmett, who is sitting on a chair while talking on his cell phone.
"I swear, Jazz; he took her up there with the heater, and it's been fifty minutes."
I look at Edward as he shakes his head.
"I'm not going up there. I really don't want to see my brother fucking some chick, even if she's a really hot chick."
Edward begins moving faster toward Emmett as Emmett lets out a laugh. "Yeah, I don't think he could last five — never mind." Emmett is cut off when Edward pulls the phone from his ear.
"Jazz, I have to say that I'm surprised at you. I will give you fair warning, though. A little bird is going to talk to Carlisle about Alice having a new boyfriend," Edward chuckles. "Oh, but I can, and I will." He snaps the cell closed and looks at Emmett.
Emmett holds up his hand and quickly stands up. "Come on, Ed, it was a joke. I mean, really, though! What have you two been doing?" Emmett chuckles.
Edward rolls his eyes. "Really, Emmett? She's going to be a client of yours."
Emmett wiggles his eyebrows at Edward and Edward sighs and pulls on his hair. "She was showing me around; we were in one of the rooms when I picked up some paranormal activity. I told her I'm coming back tomorrow. You can help me load my van."
Emmett looks between us and then shakes his head. "Was that the room you heard the voice in earlier today?"
Edward turns and looks at me. "What voice? What room?"
I glare at Emmett before looking back at Edward. "Look, I've had a bad few weeks and haven't slept much…"
Emmett chuckles, cutting me off. "Yeah, she was sleeping in her truck."
Edward steps in front of me. "You were sleeping in your truck? In Seattle?"
I roll my eyes at him. "Yes, I was sleeping in my truck, in Seattle. I didn't have enough money to stay in a hotel for four weeks. The money that I inherited just cleared the bank today. My only choices were to sleep on the street or in my truck. So, he's right, I really haven't had much sleep. As for the voice I thought I heard, I was heading back upstairs because I thought that I'd left the cleaning spray up there. I was on the second floor when I heard my name being called. I thought it was Emmett and went to look for him. I followed the voice to a room, but the door was locked. I knocked on it and called to Emmett, but the voice I heard asked who Emmett was, and then I heard the door unlock. I jumped back and Emmett touched my shoulder."
"Did it say anything else, anything at all?"
I look between Edward and Emmett. "I thought I heard it asking me to come and play."
Edward pulls his eyebrows together. "Has anything else happened?" I rub my head and chuckle a little.
"I saw someone standing behind me. It was when I glanced in a mirror earlier, and I swear I saw someone there. When I turned around, though, the room was empty."
"Could you make out if it was a man or wo…"
I cut Edward off before he can finish his question. "I didn't get a good look. It was dark, and I only got a glimpse of whatever it is I thought I saw."
Edward closes his eyes. "Can you show me where you saw — or thought you saw — this happen?"
I nod and head towards the stairs, with Emmett and Edward walking a few feet behind me. I show them the mirror, and Edward takes a few photos of it using the infrared camera. He then places both hands on it and closes his eyes. I glance at Emmett to ask what he's doing, but he puts his finger to his mouth to shush me.
Edward frowns, looking at the mirror in confusion. He gives me a look as if to say 'keep walking'. "I have what's known as ESP — Extra Sensory Perception. I can sense things with my mind like a sixth sense, gut instinct, or a hunch, which is usually right. I have some telepathy powers, too."
"It was this room," I say, pointing toward the door. Edward looks at me and then at Emmett.
"Can I have the key?" Emmett hands Edward all the keys. Edward rolls his eyes before looking for the one that will unlock this room. He opens the door, and once he does, the whining starts again.
Edward steps into the room and stands right in the middle of it. He takes out what looks like a tape recorder.
"Who are you?" I frown, looking around the room but not seeing anything.
"What do you want?" I wait to see if there's a reply, but there isn't one.
"Do you know that you're dead?"
Again there is no reply. The whining gets quieter, and Edward looks at me.
"I don't want to scare you, Bella, but there's something here. Maybe even a few things. I can't get a clear reading on it, though. I'll run this tonight and tell you if I get anything." I cross my arms over my chest.
"Well, you're officially scaring me. What do you mean 'get anything'? Nothing happened." Edward shakes his head, walking out and locking the door behind him.
"Is this the only key for this room?" I nod my head at him and he puts it in his pocket.
"I take it you want me to stay out of that room, too?" Edward smiles at me.
"That would be best, at least 'til I run the tape back to see what their answers were."
"What? They answered you?"
Edward shakes his head. "Whoever was in that room definitely answered me. I couldn't make it all out, though. Most people can't pick up on what they say, but this can." Edward holds up his tape recorder. "I'd like to bring Alice with me tomorrow. Alice is our sister, and she has the 'sight' ability. Sight is a form of precognition that allows her to 'see' things happen. She has a stronger ability to talk to ghosts, too. When I say stronger, I only mean they are always more willing to talk with her than with me. Also, when I'm not the one doing the questioning, I can pick up on a lot more. Alice can be a little…" Edward pauses, trying to find the right word.
I nod my head at him and fight a small smile. "Yes, I know exactly what you're trying to say, because well, I met her this morning."
Edward looks at me and gives me a half smile. He waves his hand in front of us, indicating that we should walk back downstairs.
"I'll be here first thing tomorrow. Here's my card in case you need to call me before then." I take the card and look at it. Edward Cullen, Paranormal Intentional Psychic Examination of Seattle. I shake my head. 'P.I.P.E.S.' I let out a chuckle as Emmett and Edward both turn to me, raising their eyebrows.
"I saw your office and thought it was for Emmett because I read it as pipes."
They both roll their eyes at me. "Yes, we get that a lot."
I walk them to the door, laughing slightly.
"Remember, Bella, I'll be here first thing in the morning."
I look to Edward, nodding my head.
"Bella, I should tell you that Edward's first thing in the morning is sunrise, so he'll be here at the ass crack of dawn." I look to Edward, who looks somewhat sheepish.
"Fine, I'll see you bright and early. What do you guys like for breakfast?" They both look at me like I'm silly. "Well, if you're both coming that early, I can make you breakfast. What would you like? If you don't tell me, then I'll make a bunch of different stuff."
Edward chuckles as Emmett lick his lips. "Oh, pancakes! Can you make real homemade pancakes?" I nod my head at Emmett as Edward roll his eyes.
"Bella, maybe you should give me your cell number or the number for here, just in case."
I shake my head at Edward. "The phone line here isn't working yet, but my cell number is…" I get my cell out and get my number from it. "206-555-0913."
Edward taps it into his phone and mine begins to ring. I frown, looking at Edward. "I just want to make sure that you have my number, too. Is that one of those pay as you go cells?" I nod my head. "Do you have time on it right now?"
I shake my head this time. "No. I meant to fill it today, but didn't get a chance, so I'll head to the store and do that now." I walk over to the reception desk, grabbing my wallet and keys for the front door and the truck. I walk back over to where Edward and Emmett are still standing.
"You left your wallet there? This is Seattle, Sweetheart. You can't go around leaving things like that out in plain sight." I close the main door and lock it. "You don't have any security here, do you?"
I shake my head at Edward's question. "That's on my to-do list after my phone is working."
"It's fine. I'll have Jazz come over tomorrow. He'll give you the best deal."
I stop at my truck and look at Edward. "Jazz?"
Edward smiles at me, opening my truck door. He holds it open as I get in. "He's a friend of ours, and he's sort of seeing our sister. He owns a security company; he has the best there is here in Seattle. I use his stuff for my own home and business, and so does Emmett." Emmett nods his head.
"Yep, he even supplied the governor's house with one of his security systems."
I look between them. "I don't think I can afford something like that. I've got twenty thousand dollars to get this place up and running, and another three to cover the utilities and stuff until I turn a profit."
They both look at me and shake their heads. "Jazz will give you a great deal; I swear he will."
Edward closes my truck door and walks with his brother to where two vans are parked. They stand and talk to each other as I drive away. I see Edward pulling at his hair and frowning at the hotel.
I sit straight up, gasping for air. The dream that woke me scared the breath right from me. I grab my cell, turning off my alarm since I'm wide awake. I look outside and see the pre-dawn on the horizon, so I get up and boil some water so I can wash up. I get dressed for the day and head downstairs when I'm done. I reach the ground floor at the same time as the front doorbell sounds.
I open the door to see Edward standing there. When I look behind him, though, I don't see Emmett.
"Good morning, Bella. Emmett had an emergency call during the night. He'll be here around ten." I nod my head at Edward and follow him to his van.
"Good morning, Edward," I finally reply as he opens the door.
Edward turns and smiles at me. "Did you get a better night's sleep?"
"Kind of. It took me a long time to fall asleep, and then I had some strange dreams. I think it was all because someone said that there were ghosts here and I was by myself."
Edward hands me some cameras before taking a cart out and loading it up. "I didn't want to lie to you, Bella. You don't need to worry yourself, though. You won't be here alone tonight anymore."
I look at him as he starts to push the cart into the hotel.
"What? What do you mean I won't be alone? Is that some kind of a joke? Wait, let me guess…I won't be alone because I have a load of scary-ass ghosts staying with me?"
Edward stops abruptly and looks at me. "Is that how that sounded?" I widen my eyes and nod my head while Edward pulls at his hair. "That's not what I meant. I meant I'm going to be here. I plan on staying here with you. That is, if you're comfortable with me being here, anyway."
I feel a blush flooding my face. "That would be fine, Edward, and I'm sorry for snapping at you."
Edward looks at me, shaking his head. "It's fine, Bella. Really, I should've worded it better than that."
Edward walks over to the elevator. "First, I'm going to get this working. I looked it up, and it's not really going to be hard at all." I look at all the stuff he has with him, and know that using the elevator will be a lot easier, so I nod my head, giving him permission to continue.
"I'll go start breakfast," I say and then walk away. I head to the kitchen and turn on the grill so it can heat up. Next, I walk over to the fridge and get out the bacon, eggs, bread, milk, and everything that I think I'll need. After placing it down on the butcher block, I head to the pantry to gather the ingredients for the pancakes. I glance around the pantry and notice that it looks pretty full. I'm so glad that I did a good job with the shopping last night. More so now that I know Edward will be staying here with me. I really can't let the guy go hungry.
I start mixing the batter while I have the bacon cooking, and the eggs are ready to go on the griddle. I make the pancakes and then cook the eggs last. I put everything on separate plates and then glance at everything I've made, trying to work out what I might have missed. I remember I still need to make coffee, so I walk back over to the pantry. As I go in, I feel myself get cold suddenly.
When I look at the shelves, I immediately notice that everything is different. All the cans and boxes have their labels facing the same way now. Everything is neat and orderly, with labels facing front. It's no longer in the jumbled mess I put it away in yesterday.
I walk backward and let out a breath which I can see in front of me because it's so cold. When I finally turn around, I notice that all the cupboard doors are open. I try to shout Edward's name, but nothing comes out. I hear a bang behind me, and look to the pantry to see the can of coffee rolling toward me. I run out of the kitchen as fast as I can, screaming Edward's name.
"Edward!" I look around the reception area, not seeing him anywhere. I start to feel myself shake as I call his name again and head for the basement, hoping that's where he is. As I run down the stairs, I smack right in to someone.
"Bella, what's wrong? What happened?"
I try to speak but can't seem to get anything out.
"Wow, you're shaking pretty bad." I feel myself being lifted and carried back upstairs. I try to stop myself from shaking as Edward puts his jacket around me and rubs his hands up and down my arms.
I look up at him to find him staring into my eyes. "There you are. Just take deep breaths, Bella. I've got you." I watch his breath by the rise and fall of his chest, and see that it's very controlled and slow. I follow the pattern, and breathe at the same time as him.
"Can you tell me what happened now?
I close my eyes and then open them again, looking at him. "Its crazy. I mean…"
Edward raises his eyebrows at me, so I nod my head. "I was just finishing breakfast when I remembered that I still had to make coffee. I went into the pantry, but it was really cold. I mean, really cold. So cold I could see my breath. As I looked around, I noticed that everything was different. The groceries — they were all in order and all facing the same way. That's not how I put them away yesterday, and not how they were when I got out the stuff for the pancakes twenty minutes before. I walked back into the kitchen, only to find that all the cupboards were open. I tried to call for you, but nothing came out. Then there was a bang on the floor, and when I looked down, the can of coffee was rolling towards me. I ran out of there immediately and came to look for you."
Edward nods his head at me, picks up a few devices, and head towards the kitchen. He slowly walks in, and I hear a whining sound again. I can't stop myself from grabbing Edward's arm.
"Is this the same thing that was in the room upstairs?"
Edward shakes his head no. "This is different."
I look at him. "So I have more than one ghost?"
Edward nods his head. "Yes, there a few here, I'd say. I'm not sure why they haven't moved on. I've never felt as many in one place before. Something must be keeping them here. That's what I'm truly worried about."
I watch him as he walks around the room. "He didn't mean to scare you; he was trying to help. I think he may have been an old chef that worked here." Edward picks up the serving plates, nodding his head to the dining room. I nod, pick up the tray with the table settings and cups of juice on it, and follow him out.
"I'm going to play this for you. Please don't get scared. I'm here, and I'm going to help them and you." I nod my head at him and he plays the tape.
"Who are you?" I hear Edward's voice comes out loud and clear from the tape recorder.
"Me Katy." The voice is strange and sounds very young.
"What do you want?" I look at Edward and then to the tape recorder. "Bella play with me."
"Do you know that you're dead?"
"No, please, I'm sorry. No, Mommy!" The girl screams out, then there's a faint sob, and then it's silent.
"What was that at the end?" I ask as I look up to Edward, who's already looking at me.
"I don't know. Whatever it was, the ghost Katy is afraid of it." I rub my face, trying hard not to run out of here screaming.
When I begin eating, Edward follows suit but keeps his eyes on me. "You'll stay, right? Until this is all sorted out, I mean. You'll stay with me? Like in the same room as me, unless you're in the bathroom, right?"
Edward opens his mouth and closes it several times before speaking. "I'm staying here with you. If you would feel better sharing a room at night, then I'm sure we can work something out. I'm going to put up CVT cameras so even if I'm not in the room with you, I can still see you and come to you if you need me."
The day goes by pretty quickly. Emmett came over around ten, like Edward said he would, and has fixed some of the plumbing. Emmett said that it was best to just replace all the lines; most of them were rotten anyway. Instead of having to come up with the almost twelve grand it would have cost at once, I have a payment plan. Now he can fix everything quickly, and it will still be easy on my pocketbook. I'm sure the labor rates have been discounted, but at least I know the parts weren't. Either way, the total bill has been spread out over three years.
Alice and Jasper are coming by tomorrow at lunchtime. Alice is taking some time to get in the right mood to do what she needs to do. Edward has set up all his equipment, and I've almost completed the ground floor cleaning.
It's bedtime, and just like he said, Edward is sharing a room with me. I look over to where his bed is, and notice that he's already asleep. I close my eyes and try to relax. When I roll over, my covers get pulled away, making the cold air touch my skin. I pull them back and up to my neck, only to have them yanked away again.
"Edward, it's really cold. You have you own covers; leave mine alone."
"NO!" a voice yells sharply before the covers are pulled completely off me. I groan and sit up.
"Edward, what the hell?" I ask, thinking it was him. I stop dead when I see that Edward is still in his bed asleep. "What? Ed —" I'm cut off by a hand covering my mouth as another pushes me back down onto the bed. I move my eyes, trying to see who it is, but I can't see anything. I feel as if someone has climbed on top of me and is now sitting on my chest.
I close my eyes as I feel a cold breath touch my face, and it feels as if someone has just licked my cheek. When I feel a hand touch my breast, a sob rips from my chest.
Then, just as suddenly as I felt it appear, it vanishes. I open my eyes to see Edward looking down at me. Another sob escapes me, and Edward drops something on the floor before pulling me into his arms. I feel him pick me up and carry me out of the room and into the living room.
"Shh, Bella. I've got you now, Sweetheart. I've got you." I hear him talk softly into my ear.
Edward slowly lays us down on the sofa; with one hand, he grabs something and pulls it over us. His other arm stays wrapped securely around me. I feel Edward gently stroking my arm as I slowly fall asleep.
"The moment I wake up, before I put on my makeup." I begin to stir, hearing my alarm go off. I try to get up to turn it off, but Edward's arms have me in a tight grip.
"I say a little prayer for you." I stretch my arm out, trying to grab my cell. "While combing my hair now."
"Is that what you wake up to every morning?" Edward asks as his arms loosen, causing me to tumble off the sofa and onto the floor with my cell.
"And wondering what dress to wear now?"
I switch off the alarm, seeing Edward's surprised face as he looks down at me.
"Sorry, Bella," he says.
I shake my head and chuckle as I look at Edward, whose face turns to shock as he returns my gaze.
"I know I look bad in the morning, but surely I don't look that bad, do I?"
Edward's eyes meet mine and he shakes his head. "Shit, Bella, I didn't know it hurt you that badly last night."
I look up at Edward, confused as to what he's talking about. As he looks back at me, I slowly recall the events of last night.
"That really happened? I didn't dream it?"
Edward looks at me with worry and sadness in his eyes. "I'm sorry I didn't wake up earlier. I'm sorry that he had a chance to hurt you."
I blink slowly before speaking. "Who was he? What did he want? I mean, did you see him?"
Edward shakes his head. "No, I sensed something was in the room, which is what woke me up. When I looked over at you, there was a dark aura above you. I heard you let out a whimper, and I jumped up as fast as I could to get it away from you."
Edward puts his hand on my shoulder, and a sharp pain makes me wince. I can feel his light touch, but there is a tender spot on my skin. I look down to see a large bruise in the shape of a handprint there.
"Oh, wow! How can a ghost bruise someone?"
Edward takes his hand away and grabs his bag.
"Some ghosts learn how to touch things or objects. Like, some draw pictures…" I watch as he takes out some cream from his bag and pulls me toward him. "I'd say most use things like TVs and radios to talk to their loved ones, or people they come in contact with." As Edward talks, he rubs the cream on my shoulder. "Sometimes, a spirit gets upset if they feel the person they're talking to is ignoring them, and — like children — they lash out and the person gets hurt. Most spirits don't mean to harm anyone, but sometimes it just happens. However, there are a few that do it on purpose; they take enjoyment from it. The bad or violent spirits normally were not very good people when they were alive."
"What did you do to make him leave?" Edward gets up and then helps me to stand.
"I have an iron cross, which is also a knife." Edward walks back to the bedroom. As he walks in, I take a look around the room. Edward stops at the bed I was sleeping in, and bends down to pick something up.
"I stabbed him — or it — with this." I look at what he has in his hand, and see a large, solid cross. Edward presses the center of it, and a blade comes out the bottom. I jump back a little and look up at him.
"It's the combination of the iron and the cross; that makes the spirit temporarily disappear. It also helps that I've had it blessed, and I make sure to cleanse it after dealing with a spirit — which I should do right now."
I look at him and then down at the cross again. "Is that something I can see…er, um, I mean, watch you do?" Edward looks at me and smiles, nodding his head.
I watch Edward as he uses different things to cleanse the cross. He kisses both sides before putting it in a leather case.
"Wow; that was something else. I'm gonna take a bath really quick, and then I'll make breakfast."
Edward shakes his head at me. "No; go take a long bath, Bella. Relax for a while, and I'll make breakfast for us."
I look at him sadly for a minute before my eyes fall to the floor. "Is that your nice way of saying that I smell bad or can't cook?"
Edward gasps at my words. "What? No! You smell great — really nice, actually. I just know Alice and Rose take the longest baths, and I know that you've been without a bath for a while. As for cooking? Best ever homemade pancakes is all I have to say about that."
I can't stop the chuckle that comes out, hearing Edward try to find the right things to say.
He stares at me, and then gives me a soft smile. "Sweetheart, take your time, alright? I'm a big boy. I can cook up a meal for us. Now, I may not be as good as my mom or you, but it will still be edible."
I nod my head at him and smile before making my way to the bathroom. I run the bath, even adding in some salted bath balls. As the water fills the tub, I shave my legs and arm pits. Once I feel hair-free, I slip into the tub. I wash my hair and then recline back in the water to relax. I feel the pain and aches in my bones slowly ease as the hot water relaxes my tense body.
After quite some time relaxing, I decide to wet my hair again. I close my eyes and then put my head under the water. I feel someone watching me, so with my head under water, I open my eyes and see a dark shadowy figure looking at me. I shoot up out of the water, only to have his hand grab my neck.
With pressure on my throat and his other hand on my chest, he pushes me back under. I struggle against him as he slowly becomes clearer to me. My hands try to push his off of me, and my legs kick out. As I slowly run out of oxygen, I can hear him humming a song, but I can't quite make out what it is. My frantic movements slowly weaken as my body runs out of energy and oxygen.
Just as my eyes feel like they need to close, they catch Edward's worried face. I'm in complete darkness as the hands leave my body and are replaced by new ones pulling me out of the water.
"Fuck! Sweetheart, I've got you. I need help in here now! I'm going to take you out of the bath, all right, Sweetheart?" Edward picks me up and holds me against his body. "Grab a towel, Alice," he shouts as he walks us out of the bathroom.
"Sweetheart, look at me; look right at me. I am so fucking sorry that he hurt you again. So sorry. I promise I won't leave your side from now on. I'll be where ever you are," he says shakily as he rubs the towel up and down my body.
He drops the towel and puts something over my head. "Sweetheart, you need to talk to me, please. I need to hear your voice, even if you want to yell at me. Please…"
I frown at him. "Why would I yell at you? You saved me again." Edward stops rubbing my legs with the towel.
"Because I failed you, and he hurt you again." I shake my head at him.
"That's not your fault, Edward, but do you know why he keeps hurting me? Is he trying to tell me something?"
Edward shakes his head. "No; I think whatever that was last night and today, is just plain evil. I don't know why he's taken such a strong dislike to you. When I saved you last night, it made it more fun for him. He wants you. And my being here — well, that's made it into a game for him." I look at Edward as he talks.
"He allowed me to read him before he left. He wanted me to know that, even if you left here, he would come after you. I am so sorry. I blame myself for causing you this extra pain. I won't let him hurt you again. I'll find out who he is, and I will get him. I promise you this: he will not take you, he won't win."
I feel my eyes tearing up. Edward pulls me into his arms. "Bella, we — Alice and I — we are the best there is at this. We've made many friends over the years, and have a lot of favors we can call in. I'll use every one of them if I have to. Trust me. I have never not gotten my ghost. Never."
I nod my head at Edward, leaning into his chest. I feel his lips touch my skin and linger there before he pulls back to look at me. He then looks over my head. "Bella, you remember Alice, right? The guy here with her is Jasper. I call him Jazz. Do you remember from yesterday?"
I nod at him and turn around to see Alice looking at me sadly. The guy, Jasper, looks really tall standing next to Alice, but he's nowhere near the height of Emmett or Edward. He's maybe around five-foot-eleven. When I look at his face, I notice that he looks really uncomfortable, like he has really bad cramps or something.
As Edward and Alice burst out laughing, I look between them for a moment before settling my eyes on Edward.
"Jasper is empathetic. That means he can feel the emotions of spirits, rooms, and sometimes, if strong enough, people. He usually knows if someone is being truthful or not. This is one of the reasons why his security business is doing as well as it is."
"He looks like he's in pain or having cramps or something," I blurt out without thinking. My eyes widen as a deep blush covers my face. I now know that Alice and Edward were laughing because I must have said what I was thinking out loud the first time, and have just repeated it.
"The spirit — the one that was here — was full of anger and hate. Jasper doesn't like feeling those things, and right now, he has to hold on to them, reflecting them toward himself so he can deal with them. It causes him a little discomfort, but he'll be all right."
I look at Jasper and see that he's trying to smile at me, but it's coming off all wrong. He actually looks kinda scary right now. I glance back at Edward, and then to Jasper again. "There's a gym and a boxing ring with weight bags you could use, you know, if you need to relieve the built-up tension. I mean, you can't use Edward as your punching bag, and you look like you just really need to hit something."
Jasper chuckles and gives a little nod, but still looks very sinister. "That sounds great, and if you're sure, I'll take a look at the gym."
I nod my head at him. "I'm not sure if it's all in good working order, but I'm sure there's some stuff you can use."
I look back at Edward and he smiles at me. "Why don't we all have a look? I just need to get changed into something dry, and you, Sweetheart, need to put some bottoms on."
I look down at myself to see that I'm wearing a large t-shirt but nothing else. I pull at the t-shirt, wondering where it came from.
"It's mine, Sweetheart. Keep it on, it looks good on you."
I look up at Edward to see that he's standing with his hand out, offering it to me. I take it and he pulls me up. Then we walk together to another bedroom — different than the one we shared last night.
"How long have you been a ghost hunter?" Edward sets our bags on the bed, and both of us start looking for clothes to put on.
"Just about seven years."
I look at him. "What made you start? I mean, is this something you always wanted to do?"
Edward let out a soft sigh. I turn to say that he doesn't need to answer, but stop before saying a word because of the look on his face.
"I've always been different. I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Both Alice and I have always shared a certain kind of uniqueness. We're twins. Even from a young age, Alice would have dreams or feelings about what was going to happen. She never told anyone, but I knew what she could do. I sensed it, you know?
"I could do stuff, too. It was almost like I could read people's minds. I could tell, and still can, if they're being dishonest with me. Teachers would call my name to answer questions, and most of the time I wouldn't know what the question was, but could see the answer in my mind.
"One day, I pulled Alice aside and told her what I felt I could do. We'd both had times when we could see shapes or figures around us. We were too young to understand that they were spirits at the time, though.
"As the years passed, Emmett picked up on it, and then our parents did, too. We never thought about using our gifts to make a profit. Alice wanted to do something with fashion, and I wanted to be a doctor like my father.
"Back when we were both in college, Alice was dating my best friend, Garrett. Garrett was great; a really amazing, all-around guy. Before he dated Alice, he had been dating a girl named Tanya. She wasn't a nice person; she was completely self-centered. She often used Garrett, and twisted things around so she could get what she wanted. She cheated on him with every guy around; even hit on me several times. When Garrett would leave her, she would call him, saying that she loved him and was going to kill herself.
"The first time she called, Garrett didn't believe her. She cut her wrists, and was in the hospital for a week. She blamed Garrett, and told him that she couldn't be without him; she said she loved him. After that, every time she called threatening to harm herself, he would run to her and take her back.
"This went on for a year, but he slowly started falling for Alice. When Alice told him she loved him too, she told him she wouldn't be the other women, or allow him to become a cheater. He finally dumped Tanya for good. Tanya started calling him every hour the night he broke up with her. She called so much that he called the police and her parents. He explained that he cared for her, but no longer loved her, and couldn't help her.
"A few months passed, and Garrett asked Alice to marry him. Of course, Alice said yes. The night of their engagement, Tanya stood on the roof of our building. She screamed that if he didn't dump Alice and take her back, she would jump. Garrett refused her again, so she stared screaming at him, telling him he was useless and she was going to ruin his life.
"What happened next was not part of Tanya's plan. You see, her foot slipped as she tried to get back inside. She was so busy screaming at Garrett, she didn't see the bird until it was in front of her. She got startled and lost her balance. When her foot slipped, she fell to her death.
"Tanya was the first spirit that Alice and I both saw and knew what it was. It was then that we realized what we had been seeing was ghosts and spirits of those who have died but not passed over. Tanya did ruin Garrett's life; she haunted him for the next two weeks. She was the reason he crashed his car. He died that day. Needless to say, Alice was heartbroken. That's what made both of us get into this business. We knew we couldn't help Garrett, but could learn to help others."
He wiped away my tears as I placed my hand on his arm.
"Jasper is the first guy Alice has dated since. She never allowed herself to get close to anyone again, until now." I swallow, looking at the bedroom door.
"She's been scared, too. She saw Garrett's death even before Tanya died. She tried so hard to stop it, but wasn't successful. Maybe if I knew then what I know now, I could have saved him, and I could have saved her from all the heartbreak."
"You can't beat yourself up, Edward. Don't do the whole 'what if' game. Believe me, it won't help; it won't change anything."
Edward frowns at me. "It's a game I play a lot."
I can tell that Edward is about to ask me why, but I really don't want to talk about my mom and dad right now, so I evade with my own question. "How old are you? I mean, you look young, but you said seven years ago you were in college."
Edward understands that I don't want to talk about it and thankfully doesn't push me. "Alice and I just turned twenty-nine. How old are you, Bella?"
I smile at him "I'm still a young thing; just barely turned twenty-one."
Edward returns the smile I just gave him. "Well, then, youngster, if you're ready, we should head back out to Alice and Jasper." I nod my head and start to walk. Edward walks next to me with his hand on the small of my back.
Jasper and Edward had a good workout, and by the end of it, Jasper seems a lot more relaxed and focused. Right now, we're all walking around the hotel. Alice and Edward try to communicate with the different spirits that are here. I listen to Alice as she asks different questions. Sometimes Edward will look at her, and she'll know what he wants, so she will ask a question that seems like a completely strange thing to ask. Right now, the two of them are locked in a stare down. Neither one of them has blinked in the last five minutes.
I hear Jasper chuckle and I turn to him. "Alice has just won, but of course Edward is being stubborn. It will be over in a few seconds.
I watch as Edward rolls his eyes. "Fine, Alice, but if it doesn't work, which it won't, we do things my way." Alice nods her head, smiling.
I look between them before resting my eyes on Edward; he slowly walks toward me. "Alice wants to use a Ouija board to help the spirits communicate with us better."
I look up at him, feeling really unsure about this. "But aren't they evil or bad? I mean, I've watched plenty of movies, and everything gets worse after they use one of those things." Edward keeps his eyes on me while tilting his head to the side.
I hear Alice and Jasper's faint goodbye; they're going to pick up take-out dinner for all of us. I offered to cook, but they insisted on some Chinese from the best place in the world down the street. After they leave, it's just Edward and I.
"Now can you explain this to me?"
"It's not like the movies, Bella. Some films get bits and pieces right, but the things they say and do are mostly wrong. The Ouija board is like a spirit phone. They use it to get a message to this side. It can't bring on or summon a spirit. You need a lot more than a Ouija board for that."
Edward tugs at his hair and then touches my arm, pulling me to the sofa to sit.
"Imagine that you and I don't speak the same language. We're both in the same room and see the same stuff, but to each other, we're a little out of focus. It's like those mirrors at carnivals — the ones that change the way your shape reflects."
I nod my head at him, indicating that I understand what he means.
"It's like I need to tell you something, but you can't hear me clearly, and don't understand what I'm saying. The Ouija board gives you a resourceful way of communicating. You see, where our spoken words will sound differently, the written words are the same."
As I look at him, I feel myself relax more. "But you don't think it will work? I mean, you looked upset that Alice even suggested it?"
"It's not because I think it's a bad idea. It's just…it's hard to explain. For some reason, I don't think it will work. Alice and I use the Ouija board to help spirits move on. But, between the emotions Jasper picked up from this guy and the feelings he leaves me with — I just don't know. To me, it seems like he doesn't want to move on; he's happy here doing what he's been doing.
"He's also good at hiding, because I didn't pick up on him 'til I was in the upstairs dining room, and even then, it was faint. I think he may use the Ouija board to scare you even more than you already are, and it's your fear that he's getting his enjoyment from. I think he feeds on it."
I nod my head at him. "So what can I do to become less afraid of him?"
"There are some things that might help. I'll teach you tonight. We'll be doing the Ouija board tomorrow at midnight."
"Why not today and why so late?" Edward lets out a sigh.
"The Ouija takes a lot out of Alice, Jasper, and I, as well as anyone else who is present. When done correctly, it leaves you physically and emotionally exhausted, which is why most people who see it done correctly are afraid of it. The other reason we can't do it tonight is because I need to train you enough for you to get through it with us." I look to him in shock.
"You mean to say that you want me there?"
Edward frowns but nods his head. "Yes, of course you'll be there. For one thing, I told you that I won't leave your side, and I need to be there. This thing, and some of the other spirits, are connected to this hotel, and therefore, to you and your family. There needs to be five of us doing the Ouija. The five of us will consist of: Alice, Jasper, you, me and another friend of mine."
I look at Edward and wait for him to keep going. "His name is Jacob Black. During the 1850's, when the white man first came to settle here, there was a tribe of Indians. Their tribal leader was Ephraim Black. Jacob is his great, great, great grandson.
"There was a small war between some of the settlers and the Indian tribe, which caused a few deaths on both sides. The deaths in the Indian tribe lead to their shaman to put curses on some places — mainly where the deaths took place. Your hotel just happens to be one of those places. That's why he'll be the fifth member; he can lift the curses. Alice is hoping that may be enough to have some of the ghosts choose to pass on to the other side. If one does pass over, the others will see the white light more clearly, and it should draw them to it. As for the time, there's another reason we use midnight, besides the tiring process.
"Midnight is an in-between time. It's where one day is ending and another one is beginning. Supernatural things are stronger then, and easier to contact. Anything that's in an in-between time or place, or has the in-between abilities, always has a stronger hold on the paranormal."
I rub my head, trying to work all this out. "Is it the Indian curse that's keeping the spirits here?"
Edward shakes his head. "No; there must be something else, but the curse could be why this thing is so strong." Edward looks me in the eye and he takes my hand in his. "I swear, Bella, I will do everything I can. Come on, let's start your training."
Edward walks me back upstairs and we start my quick ass training on the Ouija board. When Alice and Jasper come back, we all eat, and then they help with my lessons. Around nine, they leave. Emmett calls about ten minutes later to let us know he'll be by tomorrow to do some more work.
As Edward and I head into the bedroom, I look at him, unsure of how to ask him to share a bed. There's no way I'll be sleeping by myself any time soon. I see him chuckling at me. "Bella, I'm sure we can share a bed with no problem, and I don't mind. As a matter of fact, sleeping with you on the sofa last night was the best sleep I've had in more than ten years."
I smile as I meet his gaze. I watch him climb in the bed and pat the empty space beside his body. I finish getting changed, walk over to the bed, and climb in beside him.
I soon find myself fast asleep.
I'm sitting at the table in the kitchen. There's a small boy about five years old sitting across from me. He looks at me, tilting his head to the side. He gives me a big smile — a smile that I know well. It's my father's smile. I smile back at the young boy and give him a little wave.
He waves back at me. "Hello, I'm Charlie."
I bring my eyebrows together before smiling again. "Hello, Charlie. I'm Bella."
He shakes his head at me. "That can't be your name, because that's the name of one of the princesses."
I chuckle at him, but stop when I see him stiffen. "Charlie, what's wrong?" Charlie is no longer looking at me, but is looking into the living room.
"Your boy is in there talking to himself again. I swear he's really a girl. Aren't you, little girl. You're nothing but a whiny little girl."
I turn to look at the man that came in. I recognize him as James, my grandfather, Charlie's dad. James walks around the table and grabs Charlie's face, pulling him up. "I asked you a question. Answer me! Tell me you're nothing but a whiny little girl!"
I can see the tears in Charlie's eyes as he tries hard not to let them fall. Meanwhile, James raises his other hand, which he brings down on Charlie's face full force. I jump and run around the table.
"Hey, let him go! He's just a little boy!"
Charlie's eye flicker to me then back to James again.
"Vicky, pick who gets the punishment tonight: you or your little girl!" I look around to see a woman standing there. She looks at Charlie and then to the floor.
"Ah…the little girl it is, then."
Charlie whimpers, and James yanks him out of the kitchen.
I run behind them, but stop to look at her. It's my grandmother, Vicky. "What are you doing? Why aren't you going to stop him? How can you stand here and allow that monster to hurt him? He's only a little boy — a child!"
She shakes her head at me. "It doesn't change anything. I love James. He's all I know. I didn't want a child. Having him ruined what we had. It's really better this way."
I just look at her for a minute in pure disgust. I run to the door that James took Charlie through. I can hear each time James hits him and Charlie's resounding but quiet sobs.
"Stop it! Let him go!" I scream, banging on the door. I look at Vicky, who is now sitting there smoking a cigarette.
"It will be over soon. His bosses are coming over tonight for game night. You know, James was supposed to be head of security by now, but lost out because we had Charlie."
I look at her as if she has lost it. "You chose to have a child! You should be protecting him, not allowing some fucked up bully to hurt him! He's your son!"
"I did stop it — the first few times he hit Charlie — but he was so much worse to me. James actually thought that I loved Charlie more than him. I know that one day Charlie will leave and make a life for himself. If I choose him over James, then I'll be all alone. Because I'm choosing James and letting him do what he needs to do, he stays with me so I won't be alone."
I shake my head at her. "I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you died alone because it's clear to me you chose that monster one too many times. Charlie had a family; he was a great husband, and a great dad. Nothing like that man in there."
I feel myself get cold before I feel the cold breath on my neck. I turn to see James looking down at me.
"What about you, Bella? Are you a good child? Your mother died because of you! My boy, Charlie, is dead because of you! It's all your fault and they hate you! Did you know that? They sent you here to me. They all want me to have you, and have you I shall!"
James grips my arm, pulling toward him. He presses his lips hard against mine as he pushes me against the wall. I push and hit him as hard as I can, but that just makes him grip my wrists and move them above my head. I feel his other hand sliding down my body as he touches my breast.
I shout out, sitting straight up and looking around. I'm in the bedroom. I look to my side and see Edward sleeping soundly. I let out a breath and try to calm myself.
"It was just a dream; nothing but a dream."
"YOU ARE MINE, BELLA!" I look up to find James standing over me. I start to move away, but James' hand smacks me hard across my face. I kick him as hard as I can and try to move over to Edward, but James grabs my legs and pulls me off the bed. He quickly straddles my body and hits me hard again. I feel blood dripping down my chin and neck.
"Oh, it's going feel so good to have you. They want to save you, but you're mine!" he screams at me.
I feel myself jerk up. I close my eyes, realizing that I must have still been asleep, having a dream within a dream. I feel someone touching my arm and I finch away.
"Sweetheart, it's Edward." I look at him and his eyes go wide. "Fucking shit!" he says, moving away from me and switching on the bedroom light.
"That's a nasty cut you have there, Bella. Can you tell me what happened?"
I feel a whimper escape as I shrug my shoulders.
Edward grabs his first aid kit. "Bella, you need to tell me, because nothing was in this room with us. I heard you talking in your sleep, and I was trying to wake you up, but nothing worked. Then you went flying off the bed like you were pulled by your feet. I don't get it. He wasn't here. I swear I didn't see or sense him at all."
Edward fixes up my lip and I tell him about my dreams — both of them. "It sounds like you might have some psychic abilities yourself. You seem to have the ability to read memories. James must have gotten into your dream state. That's how he could hurt you without being in the same room as you."
I shake my head at him. "I thought you couldn't feel pain in your dreams; that you couldn't get hurt."
Edward sighs, gripping his hair. "James made it real. He's getting more and more powerful, and you've only been here four days. I wasn't going to tell you this, but after what you've been through, I don't think I have a choice. I think he's the one keeping the spirits here. He's stronger than most I've come across. This is evolving into something new — something really evil."
"He said that you won't be able to save me. That I'm his."
Edward closes his eyes, pulling me into his arms. "No. I won't allow him to win. I will save you, Bella. I promise that I will. I can't lose you. I won't lose you to him." As Edward speaks, I feel that, as much as he tries to make me believe him, he's trying to make himself believe it, too.
Edward holds me in a tight grip the rest of the night. I'm not able to fall into a good sleep, so I just lay here and think about the dream and Edward's words. I know that Edward is awake most of the night, too, but we don't talk.
Edward and I get up a little after six, knowing that there's little point in us continuing to stay in bed. I'm in desperate need of a shower, and am so glad when Edward stays inside the bathroom with me so I can take one. It's a little uncomfortable, but I put it aside, knowing that I can't be in here by myself. Edward makes it easier on me by turning his back to me. He talks to me about his gift and his childhood while I wash up. It's quite interesting to learn about Edward's past. I'm hoping that once this whole this is over, Edward will still keep in contact with me.
Alice, Jasper, Emmett and some girl show up while we're eating breakfast. Emmett introduces me to his wife, Rose. I'm a little scared of her; she reminds me so much of Lauren and Jessica — the bitches of Forks. I soon realize that Rose is nothing like them. She's really friendly, and tells me that she works in a bedroom furniture shop. She offers to give me a massive discount on anything that I need from there, I just have to ask for her.
After everyone is settled, we spilt into groups. Edward wanted to cleanse each room before tonight's event. Rose and Emmett take the basement and ground floor, while Alice and Jasper take the first and second floors.
Edward and I are doing the third and top floors. Edward wants to be the one to cleanse the top floor because that's where most of James' activities have taken place. It's also where we will be doing the Ouija board later.
"So, how does cleansing the rooms help?"
Edward turns to me as we make our way to the next room. "It works in different ways. Part of the stuff we're using helps to get rid of negative energy, and the other part brings in positive energy. The words that I have been saying are spilt into two phases. The first is kind of the last rights for the spirits. 'Capti sunt ex parte animae hic invenire viam vobis auxilium peto. Viam invenient domum ad ibi carorum, qui dicuntur, expectent reverteris. Quaero in nomine Jesu Christi filii tui. Amen.' It's Latin, and roughly translates to: 'On behalf of the souls that are trapped here, I ask that you help them find their way to you. Find their way home to their loved ones, who are waiting their return. I ask this in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.'
"The second is a blessing to the room. 'Benedicat Dominus Huius cubiculi hoc hotel, adjuva nos perducat vos diligunt ad eam. Edward i auxilium tutum Domino famulantes Isabella ne quaeras filium vestrum in nomine Jesu. Amen.' That loosely translates into: 'The Lord bless this room in this hotel. Help us bring your love to it. Help keep Isabella safe. I, Edward, who serve the Lord, ask this of you in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.'"
I nod my head, and am glad he's explained this to me.
"We do each room individually, and invite God in so that he can help show them the way to pass over. Then, after it's all done, I'll cleanse and re-bless each room with holy water."
I look at him, almost taken aback at how much of this stuff is centered around God. He stops and looks at me; as always, he seems to read my mind.
"I believe in God, Bella. How can I not? I've seen many things in my seven years of service. Most of them have been just trapped spirits wanting to go home. However, there have been a few evil ones. If I can see and feel the evil, I can feel and see the good, too. I like you; you're a good person, Bella. I know you don't think so, though, and you don't always see it. You feel a lot of guilt, but as a whole, you are good. One of the first things I saw about you is the good within. People like you, Jasper, and Alice are what make me so sure that there is a God. Because, if not, then where did you all come from?"
I feel myself blush and drop my head as I open the next door.
The cleansing and blessings take up much of the day. It's early evening now, and we're all sitting down eating dinner together when the doorbell rings.
"Ah, great. The dog is here!"
I look at Rose, who looks less than pleased.
I stand up and walk to the door with Edward. "Rose and Jacob don't get along — not even a little bit. They fight like cats and dogs, actually."
I nod my head at Edward, who opens the door. I see, yet again, another extremely tall guy.
"Hey, Ed, my man! How's tricks?"
I look between them, seeing Edward roll his eyes at him. "I see you got my message about this thing we're doing tonight."
Jacob nods his head and looks at me. His smile turns into a grin as his looks me up and down. Edward moves to my side and puts his hand on my back, almost possessively.
"Hey, I'm Jake. You must be Bella. I'm surprised to see that you're as beautiful as Edward said you were. Normally he talks out his ass, but I see that he really didn't do you justice."
I feel a blush work across my face.
"You better work fast, Ed. Three weeks tops, then she's fair game."
Edward chuckles. "Good thing I won't need it, nor will I wait that long. Sorry, Pal; I'll be doing everything I can to keep a hold of her."
I look between them, somewhat confused as to what they're talking about now.
Jake lets out a chuckle and sets down a couple of large bags that he was carrying. "Well, I better start doing the blessings. See you soon, Bella." Jake gives me a wink before moving off. I turn and look at Edward, who has a grin on his face. I shake my head and walk back into the dining room.
"He seems nice. Who's the girl that he's going after in three weeks? I mean, I thought he was your friend. Isn't there some man-code saying you don't go after your friend's crush?"
Edward looks at me and chuckles. "Jake doesn't really have a code. He just says it the way it is. But when she's mine, and she will be, he backs away. He'd never hit on another guy's girl — no matter how much he liked her."
I nod my head at him, still confused. I know it can't be me, right? I mean, really, why would Edward want me? Come on, Bella! It's not like he would like some stupid little girl who's never going to amount to anything. I never even made it into college. Besides, I couldn't even keep Mike happy, and he wasn't that smart, or picky. You'll never keep a guy that went to school to be a doctor! Edward would never be happy with the likes of you. I push my plate away from me. I feel a little sad, knowing that he would never be interested me.
"Sweetheart, are you all right?" I turn to look at Edward, who looks worried.
I nod my head at him and lie. "Yeah, I'm just nervous about tonight. Do you think it would be alright for me to sit outside? I mean, will I be okay by myself for a little bit?" Edward looks at me and then to the others at the table.
"I'll come with you, Bella. I'd rather you weren't left on your own."
I look at his plate and see that he's still not done. I shake my head at him. "It's fine; I can stay here. I think I'll just go sit by the window right there," I say, pointing to the window seat. I get up from the table and head to the window at the other end of the room, opening the small side window to feel the cool air on my face. I close my eyes, trying to stop those stupid feelings from surfacing.
"Bella, you need to snap out of this. He was never yours to lose, so this sadness is stupid. Just take his friendship if he offers it to you; be happy to have someone to talk to again," I mumble quietly to myself.
I think back to all the times my dad would allow me to stay up and talk. He was not just my father, he was my best friend. I was able to tell him anything. It's been so long since I felt like that. I close my eyes, trying to stop myself from falling apart.
"Dad, I wish you were here. I miss you so much. I'm so sorry about what your father — what James did to you. I'm sorry no one protected you."
"Bella, Sweetheart, please tell me what's wrong."
I turn to see Edward's worried face. It becomes more of a pained look when he sees that I've been crying.
I shake my head at him. "I'm fine. I think I'm just overly tired. Really, I'm fine…"
Edward frowns at me. "Sweetheart, I know we just met, but you can trust me. I don't know what you went through before you came here, but I'm here for you. You can talk to me about anything, okay?"
I look into Edward's eyes as he looks into mine. He steps forward, wiping away my fallen tears. "I swear I'm here for you. I will always be here for you — always." He cups my face and strokes my cheek with his thumb.
RING – RING – RING.
I step away from him and look toward the bar.
RING – RING – RING.
I frown because the phone on the bar is ringing.
RING – RING – RING.
"Aren't you going to get that?" Rose asks.
I look at her and move toward the phone.
RING – RING – RING.
I pick it up, still frowning. "Hello," I say pensively.
"I TOLD YOU, YOU ARE MINE! I WILL HAVE TO PUNISH YOU NOW!" click.
"Bella?" I hear Edward question.
I look at the mirror on the wall of the bar as it explodes. Edward pulls me to the ground and covers me as the glass flies over us.
BANG – BANG – BANG.
I cover my ears as more things explode around us. Edward pulls me up to my feet and toward the dining room exit. The whole time, he keeps me covered. Once we're out of the dining room, everything goes quiet again. I look at everyone, making sure no one was hurt.
"What the hell just happened?" I look up to see Jake running towards us.
"He was on the phone. He said that I was his, and that now I need to be punished."
Everyone looks at me. "My phone isn't even connected yet. He wants me so much. He's going to end up hurting one of you to get to me." I feel my heart rate pick up and my breathing become harsh.
"She's having a panic attack," Edward says as he pulls me back to his chest and wraps his arms around me. "Breathe with me, Bella." I feel the rise and fall of his chest and try to follow it. Slowly, I get in sync with him. "There you go, Sweetheart, that's my girl. Keep in time with me."
I feel my legs weakening, and Edward slowly lowers us to the floor. I'm on his lap, with my back flush against his front.
"Easy does it, Sweetheart, I've got you." Edward breathes even slower, and I slow mine to match his once again. I can feel Edward breathing next to my neck as he keeps talking to me. The last thing I hear before everything goes dark is Edward. "You're not his. You'll never be his. I will save you, even if it's the last thing I do. I will save you."
I slowly wake up and feel Edward's arms still around me.
"Edward, this is the strongest thing you've been up against. I don't feel comfortable leaving you and Alice here. Please, can't I stay?"
"Emmett, I love you, and I am glad you care, but you can't. You know that he will turn on you or Rose. Don't worry about us, we'll be fine. We'll win against this, I swear we will."
I turn, looking up at Edward's face as he looks down at me. His hands move my hair from my face. "Hey there, Sweetheart. How are you feeling now?"
I look around to see that everyone is looking tired and scared. "Worried about you and your family. Maybe I should just let him take me. Then none of you will get hurt. I won't be able to deal with it if one of you gets hurt because of me."
Edward looks to be in pain again. "I can't lose you, Sweetheart. Please don't let him win; don't let him take you. Please…"
I look at him, unsure of what he's saying. I feel like there's more behind it. "But you have your family, and then there;s that girl you like…"
Edward places his hand over my mouth. "Shh, Bella. I'm staying, okay? That's all there is to it. Come on, we need to get everything set up."
The next few hours fly by. Soon, Emmett and Rose have to leave. They're both very unhappy, but they go anyway.
We're all sitting in the bedroom where James first attacked me. I'm sitting with Edward on my left and Jake on my right. Jasper and Alice complete the circle. We all put our finger on the small cross Edward uses for protection. Alice starts to ask questions, and we all look around, but nothing happens. Without warning, it's like someone flips a switch and the room gets cold. As I breathe out, I can clearly see my breath.
"They're here." I look to Alice. "What are your names and why are you still here?"
"Katy, me Katy. I can't find my mommy. She said that if I stay, she would come back, but she hasn't. Where's my mommy?"
I look to see a young girl standing behind Alice.
"Do you have a message for us?" I look over at Edward, but he looks confused. "I want my mommy."
Edward's voice cuts her off, but I can't make out what he's saying. "Do you know where my mommy is, Bella?"
"No, I'm sorry, Katy. I don't know. Do you remember what happened to you? How you died?"
Katy dances around the table, putting her hand out to me. "I'll show you." I look at her and then back to the others, who are looking at me strangely.
"What do you mean, show her?" Edward's hand shoots out to me, but Alice pulls his arm back before he can touch me.
"I'll show you what happened to me, and what happened to the others." Again, she holds her hand out. I take a deep breath and take it.
As I touch her hand, everything goes fuzzy, and when it stops, the room is different.
"This way, Bella." I follow her and see that we're in the living room. Vicky is sitting on the sofa holding a picture of Charlie. The door suddenly bursts open, and James comes in holding a screaming Katy.
"Please, James, don't hurt my baby. Do whatever you want to me, just let her be!"
James lets out a chuckle. "Oh, believe me, I'll be having a lot of fun with you." He sneers at Katy before setting her down. "This hag is all saggy now; she's been fucked too many times."
With that, James walks over to Vicky and slaps her, taking the picture from her hand.
"He's gone, Vicky. I told you he didn't give a fuck about you. After him hitting me, I just couldn't let that go. I had to kill him, you know that." He strokes her hair and kisses her head. I shake my head, confused, because James died years before Charlie did, according to the paperwork I've read.
"Vicky, make sure she doesn't go anywhere. Do you think you can do that?" I bite back a growl and the urge to hit the fucker. James drags Katy's mother away. Vicky starts to hum Ring a Round the Rosy as she rocks Katy.
Everything speeds up, and I see Vicky and Katy asleep. Not long after, Katy wakes up and calls out for her mom. I watch as Katy walks out of the living room, and then I follow. We come to the door of the upstairs dining room. The door is open a little, so we look inside and see Katy's mom lying on the floor. As Katy sees her, she lets out a whimper and a small scream, but Vicky's hand clasps over her mouth.
"Hush, child, or you'll get me into trouble." She begins singing the song again but doesn't let go of Katy's mouth. The more Katy fights, the more force Vicky uses.
"Vicky, what are you doing?" I jump back, seeing James looking down at Vicky.
"I was asleep, and she was sleeping. She must have been sleepwalking; I'm taking her back now." Vicky lets go of Katy's mouth. I look at Katy's body and see that she is lying limply in her arms.
"Vicky, you killed her, you stupid bitch." James slaps Vicky hard as I hear screaming come toward us. Katy's mom drops to the floor, crying over Katy's body.
"He killed so many people — so many. He hurt her, changed her, but she could never leave him. Charlie understands that now. James had too much power over her — over all of us. We want to leave, but he makes us stay here." I turn to see that Katy's spirit is once again next to me.
Everything goes strange again, and when it clears up, Katy and I are in the basement of the hotel. I look around to see the old coal-burning furnace. "This is where he brings our bodies to get rid of them."
I look down and place my hand over my mouth, trying to hold back the sobs. Things go strange again, and we're back in the living room. I watch as James walks out. A moment later, I hear the front door and watch Katy's mom coming in. James walks into the living room again, and I hear a gunshot ringing out. James looks surprised before falling to the ground.
Katy's mom drops the gun to the ground as Vicky runs out into the living room. Vicky picks it up and fires it, but misses Katy's mom. She fires again, and Irina falls dead to the floor.
Everything moves at normal speed again, and we're back in the basement. I watch Vicky walk in with an urn and place it on top of the furnace.
"They will always be yours; they can never escape you now."
Everything fades, and I look around, seeing an anxious Edward who's speaking, but I can't make out what he's saying.
"Fuck! Please, Bella, come back to me. Please!"
I sob as I come out of the trance-like state I was in. As I launch myself into Edward arms, my entire body shakes.
"Oh, thank God, Sweetheart. Tell me what happened. One minute you're standing next to me, and then you're gone. You were all over this hotel."
Edward helps to calm me, and I stay on his lap as I tell them everything that I saw. They them tell me what happened form their point of view. They said that I appeared to be sleepwalking, but when time sped up for me, I would move like a flash. They said my movements were strange; almost as if I was detached from my body.
"If the urn is still there, we need to get it buried in holy ground." I glance at Edward as he looks at the rest of them.
"Well, let's get a move on, then." We all get up, and Edward takes my hand as we make our way down to the basement.
As we get there, we see a wall where the furnace should be. Edward looks at it and frowns.
"This is newer than the other walls. Maybe James didn't want people finding out where the bodies were?"
Jake looks at all of us and holds up a finger. "I'll be back," he says before running up the stairs. I look at Edward, but he shrugs his shoulders. A few minutes later, Jake comes back with a sledgehammer.
"Cool. Give it to me!" I look to see Edward's eyes light up as he takes it.
"James got me pissed in a good way. It's time to get rid of my anger."
I nod my head at him, and he begins hitting the wall. It takes a few good shots, but part of the wall finally crumbles to the ground. We each take turns going inside. As the light comes on, we see the furnace and the urn on top. As we make our way to it, I notice all of the pictures on the wall.
"These must be all the people he killed," Alice says in a small voice.
"You need to hurry, he's coming!" I look at Katy, who has just appeared.
"Edward, Katy's here." I keep my eyes on Katy as Edward moves to me.
"I know. I can hear her, but I can't see her. Where is she?"
I point to her, and Katy begins to shake. "Alice, Jasper, take the urn to the cemetery. Jake, you go back them up in case he comes after them. I'll stay here with Bella and try to get the others to cross over."
I look to see the others nodding their heads before leaving with the urn.
"Katy, I'm Edward. I'm here to help you. Can you see a light anywhere?"
She looks at me and then at Edward. "He's funny."
I smile at her, nodding my head. I hear Edward chuckle a little and I look at him.
"I have my moments, Katy, but I need to know if you can see a light?"
She shakes her head at me and looks sad.
"Have you ever seen a light anywhere in the hotel?" I ask as I shake my head at Edward to give him Katy's answer.
She nods her head at me but looks afraid. "It's over by the reception desk, but he said that was the gate to the fires of hell."
Edward pulls my arm. "That's our light. Let's go."
I hold my hand out to Katy. She takes it, and we run up to the reception area.
"Bella, I'm scared. I want my mom."
Unsure of what to say to her, I squeeze her hand.
We get to the reception desk, and Edward stops. "Katy, you need to cross over; that light is for you. It's your time to go. I swear, you'll be alright. It's safe to go into that light."
Katy nods her head and walks away from me.
"NO! NO!" The loud, thundering voice makes all three of us jump. Katy begins to whimper.
"Katy, run! Go into the light. He can't hurt you if you go into the light. Right, Edward?"
"Yes, that's right, Bella. Run, Katy, go! He won't hurt you if you're in the light."
Everything starts to shake. I grab hold of Edward as the lights flicker on and off.
Bang – Bang – Bang.
Mirrors begin to explode, and the pictures and paintings on the wall start to flying across the room.
"SHE BELONGS TO ME! THEY'RE ALL MINE!"
I feel someone grabbing my hair, pulling backwards. I'm flung against the wall and held up as James appears in front of me. He's flickering in and out of my view like a mirage.
I feel his hands all over by body as he hits me. I let out screams of pain as I see Edward trying to make his way to me.
I'm dropped to the ground as Edward swings his hand that is holding the cross around, making contact with James.
I watch as Edward fights with James. James keeps flickering in and out of view, which makes it harder for Edward to make contact with him.
"She's mine. You failed her, just like you did Garrett! She belongs to me. You are a weak fool if you think you can beat me!"
I try unsuccessfully to stand when I see that James has pinned Edward against the wall. Instead, I crawl along the floor, trying to get James to look at me.
"They are all mine. Their souls belong to me. They work for me!"
I look around to see many more ghosts here watching us.
"He can't win against all of you! Help us! Help us set you free. Please! There's the light; it's for you. You need to go into it. He can't hurt you once you're there."
I look at all of them; they still look unsure and scared.
I glance back to see James chuckling as Edward's face begins to pale.
"Please, help us! Please! Dad, I need you to help me! Please show them the way!" I close my eyes and move toward James and Edward. I see Edward's cross on the floor, so I pick it up and slowly stand. Using the last of my energy, I stab the cross into James' chest.
James turns sharply to me, dropping a gasping Edward to the floor. I feel James wrap his hand around my neck. He holds me in the air before flinging me across the floor. When my body makes contact with the wall, I crash to the ground, only to have James pick me up and throw me again.
"NO, STOP!" James' eyes go wide as he turns to Katy, who is now standing over me.
"Move away, child, or you'll never see your mommy again."
Katy stands straight up. "NO! I don't believe a word you say. You're a bad man."
James chuckles at her. "You're a stupid child. What can you do to me?"
Katy looks at me and whispers 'thank you', before looking back at James. "I can't fight you, but I can go into the light." With that, Katy disappears.
"NO!" James screams, trying to stop her.
I watch Katy reappear, looking toward something as her face lights up.
"MOMMY!" She runs toward it and slowly disappears again. I scan the room and see the other ghosts gasping and mumbling names, and I watch as they make their way to where Katy went.
"NO, YOU CANT LEAVE! NO!" James screams. I don't turn around, because I can now see the bright light as the ghosts start passing through it.
"What did you do? You made them leave; they were all mine!" James looks down at me and I close my eyes.
"Do NOT touch her!" I open them once more to see Edward fighting James again. This time, Edward seems to have more strength.
"You will not win. You can't defeat me," James tells Edward. I watch as James picks Edward up and then drops him to the floor, holding onto his neck while choking the life from him.
"No, he can't, but I can." I look up to see a new ghost.
"Dad?" Edward looks at Charlie, and then at me.
"You're nothing but a bully. I always took the beatings you gave me, but I will not allow you to hurt my child."
James laughs at Charlie. "Come on, Little Girl. Renee died because of her. It's all her fault."
Charlie grabs hold of James, throwing him against the wall.
"No! Renee gave her life up for her; She loved her child unconditionally and chose to give her life. I love her. How could I not — she's my child. I'm so proud of Bella; I loved her and will always love her. I will always be watching out for her," Charlie yells into the face of his abusive father.
"Bella, I meant every word of that. I love you and always have. Your mother loved you and wanted you to have a happy life. It's not your fault that she died. She's happy, and has always been happy to watch over you from above," he says, smiling at me.
"I love you, too, Dad."
"Hey, boy, do your stuff," Charlie says to Edward.
I look at Edward, who nods his head and begins chanting more things in Latin.
I watch stunned as James starts to weaken. I then hear the sound of horses before four men in black robes appear, grabbing onto James. James lets out one more scream, and then he and the four cloaked men disappear.
I look between Charlie and Edward. Edward jumps up and limps over to me.
I look up at Charlie and smile.
"You've turned into such a beautiful young woman. Your mom and I love and miss you, but your life is just beginning. You're not alone anymore, Bells." I feel his hand touch my cheek as he looks at Edward.
"Take care of my baby girl for me."
Edward nods his head "Always and forever."
Charlie walks toward the light.
"I love you and Mom, too. Hug her for me," I say.
He turns, smiles, and blows me a kiss that I feel caress my cheek. I feel him disappear, and then I feel nothing at all and I know he's gone.
Edward wraps his arms around me, and I feel him pressing his lips to my head. I look around the reception area, noticing that it's trashed. I let out a sigh and lay back.
"So this is what you do?" I ask with a shaky voice.
Edward looks at me and frowns. "Yep, but it's not always this much fun."
I chuckle, wiping my hand across my face. I glance at my watch, noticing that it's close to six in the morning. When my eye catches the date, I chuckle again. I feel Edward stroke my face. "Happy Halloween," I say.
Edward looks at me and I show him today's date on my watch. "Happy Halloween, Sweetheart. What are your plans for tonight?"
I shrug my shoulders. "Not sure. Every time I clean up this place, it just gets messier."
"Well, I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner with me."
I look at Edward and frown. "Edward, we've been eating dinner together for the past few days."
Edward chuckles. "Yes, I know, but I meant more like a date."
My eyes widen as I look at him. "Edward, my dad didn't mean for you to date me. And besides…I thought you already like a girl. Just so you know — girls don't like it if you tell them you like them and then go out on dates with other girls."
Edward shakes his head at me. "You really didn't pick up on it at all, did you?"
I look at him and give him the 'pick up on what?' look.
He chuckles again. "I was talking about you! You're the girl I seem to have crush on."
I feel a blush come across my face.
"And seriously, Sweetheart, that right there is one of the biggest reasons for it — that cute as hell, innocent blush. So what do you say, Sweetheart? Will you let me take you on some dates?"
I glance up at him with my chin still tucked against my chest. "Dates? As in, more than one?" I whisper.
Edward chuckles. "I have a feeling that once I take you out, I'll never want to stop. What's it going to be, Bella?"
I nod my head. "Yeah, I'd like that."
I feel Edward kiss my head again before he pulls me into a hug.
"But, Edward, will we be safe to go out tonight? With it being Halloween and all? I mean, I don't think I could handle anymore ghosts today."
"We'll be fine. I feel tonight we will only have to worry about Emmett."
I chuckle but stop as I hear the others coming back in.
Edward helps me stand, and we walk over to where the light was.
"I love you, Dad and Mom. I miss you both, so much," I say once more to where my father disappeared.
I look over to see my new friends talking. Edward looks at me, giving me a wink.
For the first time in four years, I don't feel alone.
Hope you all made through it!
I am just going take a few minutes to let all of you know what is going on with WeeKittyAndTAT. We have Jane's point of view (from HCV/EHCV) done and with our great beta team. I WeeKitty (Nikky) am working on Seth's point of view for (HCV/EHCV) and about half way through it. TeamAllTwilight is currently co-writting and story with Jess2002. If you don't already know, go check it out it's under the author name JessAndTAT, the story is called Bases Loaded. Summary: Spending summer vacation traveling with the St. Louis Cardinals isn't every teen girl's idea of fun. What happens when the teen daughter of the team doc falls for one of the players? Can they find love or will life get in the way?
TeamAllTwilight (Kasi) and I are also writing a BDSM story with an older Edward. So lots of things going on and coming your way!
When reviewing please let us know if you have saw a ghost or have any good ghost stories. We'd love to hear them. Kasi has promised to share with reviewers about the house she lived in that unexplainable things happened in.