Thanks to SusanQ, Nicffwhisperer, Vampshavelaws, iambeagle, and Stephanie for all of their help pre-reading/betaing for me. I have so much love for these ladies. I tinker with my docs until right before posting, and any errors you see are mine.
Here's some more EPOV for you...
"Cullen baby on the way!"
"Cullen forced to marry Senator's pregnant daughter at gunpoint."
"Please, shut up."
"Senator Swan disowns daughter for shotgun wedding."
"Republican race heats up as Congressman Ryan gains ground on Senator Swan due to Cullen scandal."
"I swear to God, if you don't stop…"
"First Daughter to act as surrogate for Cullen and his new husband."
"Sweet Christ on a stick, would you shut the fuck up!" I roared, my fingers tangling my hair in a death grip.
Emmett snickered, snapping his laptop closed. I was two seconds away from shoving it so far up his ass he'd be speaking in binary code for the rest of his life
"She's going to find out anyway." Rose glared at me from the other side of the table, her arms crossed over her chest. "You should tell her. It would be better coming from you than her being blasted with it by her parents or some paparazzi."
We hadn't even been back in L.A. for an hour, and I wanted to escape again. Or at the very least abolish all phones, televisions, radios, computers—basically all forms of communication—and keep Bella in a bubble for the next six months.
I had a lot of money. I could make that happen.
Alice walked over and rubbed my shoulders. "You didn't really expect to keep it a secret for long, did you?"
I rubbed my face, trying to scrub some irritation away so I could think. Bella had been tired and cranky from the long travel home and had slipped upstairs to shower and nap after getting through the gauntlet of welcoming hugs when we'd arrived at the house. At least she hadn't heard about any of this madness yet.
"How the fuck did they find out?" I was going to wring somebody's neck, it was just a matter of figuring out who.
They all shrugged and said they didn't know. Even though they were wearing on my nerves, I knew it wasn't any of them. It could have been any number of people, from someone seeing us at one of Bella's medical appointments to someone spying on me or from one of the Senator's enemies. The list was endless.
"Does it really matter who it was?" Jasper asked. "It's out there and nothing will bottle it back up again."
My phone vibrated on the table in front of me. Aside from the hundreds of messages I still hadn't listened to from our week away, I was receiving calls and messages every minute or so from Jane, Paul, my parents, and even Garrett. Bella's phone was in my pocket, blowing up as much as mine.
"It matters to me. I want to know what fucker thought it was okay to hurt Bella." I pounded my fist on the table, hating what this was going to do to her. "You know she's going to feel guilty as hell now. I bet her parents are going to use this to manipulate her again."
It would have been just like them.
Just then the doorbell rang and all of us stared at each other, wondering who it could be. Not many people other than those already in the room even had access to get through the gates.
Jasper stood up. "I'll go see who it is."
I stood and followed him, hanging back around the corner of the entryway to listen.
Jasper opened the door. "How can I help you?"
"I'm here to see Isabella Swan… Cullen."
It sounded as if my name was said through clenched teeth and my body tensed, not only from the obvious disrespect, but also because I recognized the man's voice from somewhere. Before Jasper could answer, I walked around the corner.
It was that beady-eyed man who had been there when I first met Senator Swan. His campaign manager... Caius something. All I knew about him was that Bella was scared of him.
His eyes moved past Jasper and met mine. "I need to see Isabella."
"She's not available. I'll give her the message you stopped by."
"I know she's here."
I stepped up to him, standing a few inches taller and glaring down. "What part of she's not available do you not understand?"
"If you could get her now, this would go a lot faster. She would want to see me." He didn't back down, staring back just as defiantly, even when Emmett suddenly appeared next to me.
I snorted and shook my head. This guy had some balls, making demands in front of the three of us.
Or he was a dumb fucker.
"You need to get off my property. Ever heard of trespassing laws? The cops around here don't put up with that bullshit. How did you even get past the gates?" I glanced back at the two large men in black suits, standing next to their car and trying to be intimidating.
Caius sneered. "I have my ways."
When his eyes flitted behind me, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, I groaned knowing Bella was somewhere close. I turned my head to see her coming down the stairs, her face scrunched in confusion and her hair messed up from sleep.
"What's going on?"
I jogged up the stairs, meeting her halfway. "Nothing. Why don't you go lie back down and I'll be up in a minute?"
She tried to peek around me, but I kept shifting to block her view. "Who's here? I heard the bell ring. Did you get food?"
I laughed and wrapped my arms around her. She was fucking adorable, even if she was being a pain in my ass.
"It's nobody. Some neighborhood kid trying to sell cookies or some shit."
"Ooh, cookies? What kind?" She rubbed her belly, whispering. "I could go for some Thin Mints."
"I'll buy you a truckload of Thin Mints if you'll go back—"
"Isabella! I need to talk to you."
Her body tensed, and I tried to keep from running back down to throttle that prick.
"Why is he here?"
I squeezed her tighter. "I don't know. He just showed up. I'm going to get rid of him, though."
She was silent, so I pulled away to find her biting her lip. The sounds of arguing between Jasper, Caius, and Emmett kept getting louder.
"No worries. I'll have him gone in a second. Okay?"
Her eyes lifted to meet mine. "Maybe I should find out what he wants? He wouldn't be here if it wasn't important."
I started to panic. She had no idea about how the news of her pregnancy was leaked and that everyone and their mother was talking about it. The last thing I wanted was for this Caius fuck to be the one to tell her. He was probably here to ream us a new asshole for messing up the campaign or something.
"Whatever the fuck he wants can wait. We just got back and he shouldn't be here right now. It's uncouth."
She giggled. "Did you just say uncouth?"
I gripped her ass. "Yeah. I may not have your Ivy League education, but I know some of those fancy words."
A loud crash interrupted our moment, and I sighed. I needed to get back down there before Em or Jasper were the ones arrested for assault.
"Let me go handle this. You go back upstairs."
She shook her head. "No, I should go with you." She cupped my cheek, smiling at whatever expression was on my face. "Calm down. It'll be fine. I know you could handle it on your own, but I doubt he'll talk to you about whatever it is that he wants. I just know I'll sit here and worry more if I have to wait. I'd rather get it over with now."
When she put it that way, I started to relent. I didn't want her worrying about the unknown. She was the only person in the world who could talk me into doing things her way instead of mine.
"Okay, but there's something you need to know before we go down there."
I pressed my forehead to hers, hoping she wouldn't get too upset. "The pregnancy's been leaked. The media has it and the headlines aren't very… uh… complimentary."
She frowned, her eyes taking on a hard glint. "I can't believe…" She shook her head and pushed against me.
I loosened my grip, surprised when she stormed down the stairs toward the door. I trailed after her, my mouth falling open when she started jabbing Caius in the chest with her finger.
"What are you doing here?" she screamed. "What do you want?"
Em and Jasper both backed away, their faces set in shock, too. It wasn't every day when Bella went into hellcat mode.
In fact, this was the first time I'd seen it, and I had to admit it was sexy as hell. I wanted to strap some guns on her and call her Lara Croft.
Maybe we'd play that game later in the bedroom.
Caius narrowed his eyes at her, swiping her finger away.
I stepped in front of her and got back in his face. "You touch her one more time and we're going to have serious problems."
His beady eyes swept toward me. "She was touching me first."
What was this? Kindergarten?
"You're a grown-ass man… supposedly. Don't fucking touch her again. I don't care if she puts your balls in a vice, you don't lay a finger on her."
Bella nudged against me, trying to get me out of her way. "Tell me why you're here, Mr. Volturi."
His gaze fell on her again. "Perhaps we can take this inside? Talk privately."
She shook her head. "You're not coming in my house until I know why you're here, and anything you can say in front of me, you can say in front of them."
I moved to stand behind her, wrapping my arms around her waist and watching him closely over her head. He was clearly angry at her ultimatum, his lips set in a thin line and his eyes full of fire.
"I've been cleaning up your messes for the past several months, but this last week has made it almost impossible," he said, his voice hard. "There is no patching it up any longer. The only thing we can do now is damage control. Your father needs you and you owe it to him to help."
Bella seethed in my arms. "You don't know the first thing about my relationship with my fath—"
"I know everything!" he spat through clenched teeth. "You don't like me? Fine. I don't care. But we've worked too long and too hard to get your father the nomination for it all to come crashing down now. There are a lot of people with a lot of money invested in him and the party who you do not want as enemies. If you won't work with me for your father's sake, then do it for that kid you're carrying. Do you really want their future tainted by scandal?"
My hands clenched into fists. "Are you threatening her? Was that a threat?"
"It's not a threat. It's how it is. The best solution for everyone—you, your child, your father—is to suck it up and heed my advice. I'm not talking about a full-fledged campaign schedule for you, but a few key appearances, some interviews, and a solid show of support. Can you truly not find it in you to make a small effort for your own father?"
I could practically feel Bella's resolve crumbling without even seeing her face. I held her tighter, placing my lips next to her ear.
"You don't have to do anything you don't want to. He could be full of shit."
She was silent for a minute before finally speaking in a soft voice. "Does my father know you're here?"
Caius shook his head. "No."
She let out a sigh, relaxing against me a little. "Well, that's something at least."
"Are you going to let me in now so we can talk about what needs to be done?"
She stiffened again. "You know, you're here asking me for help. It really isn't the best tactic to be an asshole."
He rolled his eyes. "I'm paid to win. It doesn't mean I have to like everything I need to do to make it happen. Believe me, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't absolutely necessary for the campaign. I can tell you right now, if you don't help, your father's going to have a quick exit from this race and it'll be all on your shoulders."
I glared at him. "Watch it, dickwad."
He ignored me, his eyes on Bella. "What's it going to be?"
The tension in the air between the four of us on one side and him on the other could have been cut with a knife. Finally, Bella sighed and gave him a short nod.
"I got a very interesting call this morning."
I leaned back in my chair and exhaled loudly. "I imagine you did."
It was a day after our meeting with Caius, and I was back in my agent's office, staring across the conference table at Paul and Jane. The condition I requested when Bella agreed to help her father's campaign again was that I would be there, too.
No way in hell was she doing it all on her own. The last time that happened, they'd kept her away from me for a month.
Paul raised his eyebrow. "You're going to be shilling for Senator Swan now?"
"It appears so."
Jane sighed and focused on the scheduling tablet in her hand. "I've been in contact with the Senator's press secretary, and we've rearranged your schedule to accommodate these new appearances." She shook her head. "I have to tell you, though, this is going to be tight with all of the promo commitments we already had in place through the end of the year. You may not get any sleep until January."
"I can handle it."
Jane looked up at me. "And Bella? Can she handle it? Does she know exactly how much travel and time will be involved?"
I shook my head. "She won't have to come with me to everything, and even when she does travel, she can rest once we get there. She doesn't have to be at the interviews or press conferences or talk show appearances. She'll be okay."
"Why the sudden change?" Paul asked.
"You know why. The news of the pregnancy got out and sent a torpedo at the campaign. Caius Volturi made a visit yesterday and guilted Bella into helping again. She seems to agree it would be best for us and her father if we cooperate and pretend to be one big, happy fucking family. They want us to say, if asked, that we've been together for about a year now instead of meeting in May." I tapped my fingers on the table and sighed. "Who leaked it, anyway?"
"We don't know," Paul said. "We think the tabs just made the claim after the wedding announcement, but someone had to confirm for it to run everywhere. I don't know who it was."
Maybe Jasper was right. Maybe it didn't matter anymore who did it. We just had to get through this storm and everything would be okay. I would smile, hug her parents, act like I didn't hate their guts, and pretend to give a shit about the campaign. I would do it all to keep most of the burden off of Bella.
I could handle anything as long as she and our child weren't in the line of fire any more than they already were.
"Whatever," I said, waving my hand. "I guess it doesn't even matter. Well, it matters to me. If you find out who it was, you better tell me. But otherwise, I'm just going to go along with this charade and make Bella's life as easy as possible."
"At least your image didn't take a hit," Jane said.
I snorted. "It didn't?" How could it not?
She shook her head. "No. The media is basically in love with you and Bella, at least when you aren't trying to punch any of them or run them over." She gave me a pointed look over the top of her papers before speaking again. "I think that strategy of blitzing them with photo ops before your wedding really worked. Nobody in show business gives a crap when you two got pregnant, all they want are more pictures of you two in love. The tabs put out some headlines for shock value, but for the most part, all the publicity has been on your side."
"And what about Bella's image?"
She pursed her lips. "On the positive side, show business loves her. I can't even tell you how many interview requests I've gotten over the past few weeks to talk to Hollywood's new darling." Her smile faded a little. "As for the political media, that's a bit sketchier, and I'm still trying to navigate through all of it. I was on the phone with the Senator's press secretary, and she's talking about the left and the right, and I'm not sure if she's speaking political lingo or giving me directions on where to get off on the 405." Her head drooped, her next words coming out as a mutter. "I'm studying up for whatever's coming."
Paul stared at me for a moment. "Have you even thought about what it's going to be like if he's actually elected President?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you're going to have a fortress around you. If you thought your protection was bad now, it'll be ten times worse if he wins."
I was used to isolation, but at least in this scenario, Bella would be isolated with me.
"What do you want me to say?" I threw up my hands. "The only thing that's important to me is her. I'm not giving her up, so I'll take anything that comes along with having her next to me. Even if it is her shithead of a father and the Fort Knox that comes with him. I don't care."
A knock on the door had us all turning our heads.
"Come in," Paul said.
Embry stuck his head in. "The doc's here."
"Thank you, Embry." Paul met my eyes again after his son shut the door. "I did want to mention we've been notified all of Bella's accounts have been unblocked, including those for Rosalie and Jasper. Apparently, her agreement to help with the campaign halted any attempts by her mother's lawyers to contest her grandfather's will."
I rolled my eyes. "That woman is a psychotic bitch. Eleazar should have her ass on a couch somewhere instead of me." I paused and thought about what he said. "Wait a minute. Caius told us yesterday her father didn't know he was even here. How could her mother have known what was happening?"
Paul shrugged. "I'm not sure. All I know is I was told by the lawyers we'd hired that her accounts were cleared. Jenks is sending some forms today he needs Bella and the others to sign, but other than that, the will investigation should be complete."
I had a feeling one—or both—of her parents was actually pulling the strings here instead of that weasel, Caius.
I stood up. "I'm done with this for now. I'm going to go talk to Eleazar and we'll get together again in the next couple of days."
Jane smiled at me. "Don't worry. Everything will work out. I'll be going to Japan with you next week and will be there through the Australia and Europe legs. Heidi will take point for a week once you hit Canada and New York, before I'm back with you again. This is the last Shade hurrah, so they're really doing it up at all of these premieres."
I rolled my eyes. "Terrific." The thought of Kate hanging all over me made me shudder. "I just want to get it over with and move on to the Deadly Night promo. That will be much more fun."
Paul walked over and patted my shoulder. "At least you'll have a few political rallies interspersed throughout for variety."
I scowled at him. "Fuck you."
He laughed and escorted me down to his office where Eleazar was waiting inside. Eleazar stood when I entered, shaking my hand and waving for me to have a seat on the couch. I plopped down and took a deep breath, ready for the mind probing to begin.
Eleazar calmly watched me, his face set in an expressionless mask. "I guess I should start out with some congratulations for you. Married and a baby on the way. You definitely got your girl."
I raked my hands through my hair. "What? Did this news make it onto the Golf Channel?"
He smirked. "Yeah, they have a ticker just for you." He clasped his hands on his knee, the picture of patience. "So tell me how you're feeling."
"About what? Bella? The baby? The whole world knowing—or thinking they know—every detail about my life? The fact I'm going to have to wave pom-poms for a man I detest and pretend to like a woman who may very well be the Antichrist? Which feeling do you want to hear about?"
"All of them."
I groaned and gripped my hair. "You know it's exhausting talking to you sometimes, right?"
He laughed. "I know, but you always feel better afterwards. Right?"
"I guess so."
"Then start talking."
And I did. I rattled on for what seemed like hours, telling him how happy I was to have Bella, but that I was leery about letting her parents back in even a little. I understood Bella's reasoning for agreeing to help—and I completely backed her up—but I wondered if at the end she would only be hurt by them again. She had promised me she was going into this with her eyes wide open, and doing it for us, for our child, and not necessarily for her father.
I wasn't sure if I believed that. I think she still held her grandfather's words to heart about her father being a good man underneath his slick exterior. But I understood her desire to make the best of merging our two worlds: the political realm, which was impossible for her to entirely break free from, and the Hollywood side, which came along with me in this package.
"Can I suggest something?" he asked when I paused for a breath.
"Outside of Bella, who do you consider to be the most supportive in your life? Who do you trust the most and turn to for advice."
He nodded. "Yes, exactly. You have a built-in support system that Bella never had. It's time to use it, not shut them out. Talk with them about all of this. They will be there for you if you ask. I'm sure of it."
Of course they would, but…
I chuckled. "I'm not sure how good of an idea it would be to put my mother in the same room as Renee Swan again. The last time it happened, they were brawling like Ali and Foreman."
He laughed, trying to cover it up with a cough. "Perhaps you could stress to your mother that you need all the help you can get for the show you've signed up to put on. Not only that, but I think Bella would be grateful to have more people around who truly have her back, not just in front of cameras."
I leaned back and thought about it. It wouldn't be too bad having my parents along with us on the promo tour. They had accompanied me occasionally in the past, so they knew the routine. Em and Alice were already on board, they always were, and I knew Jasper and Rose were also planning to come. I supposed it wouldn't take too much maneuvering to have Jane ensure another room was tagged onto our current entourage at all the stops.
I nodded to him. "I'll ask them after I talk to Bella. Maybe you should prescribe me some tranquilizers for my mom… just in case."
"I could do that."
For a minute, I wasn't sure whether he was kidding or not.
"Quit poking me!"
"If you would scoot your fat ass over a little and give me some room, I wouldn't have my elbow in your ribcage."
"My ass isn't fat!"
I breathed through my nose, counting down from ten.
"It is fat!"
"No, it's not!"
I didn't get to seven before Bella rubbed my hand. She probably realized I was about to lose it as I glared at my siblings, who were fighting in the limo seat across from us. Luckily for everyone in the car, her calming techniques worked much better for me than anything Eleazar had advised. I closed my eyes, breathed in the scent of her hair, and tried to relax.
It was a week after my meetings with Paul, Jane, and Eleazar, and we were on our way to the airport.
The whole fucking motley crew of us.
And I was already on edge before we'd even begun. This trip was going to be a disaster if I didn't get it together. I should have stuck Frick and Frack in the other car with our parents and the luggage.
Bella nuzzled my neck. "Deep breath."
"Are you sure you want to bring them all?"
She giggled. "Yes. It'll be okay. If not, we can push them out of the plane."
That was an excellent idea. This was going to be a long thirty hours anyway. Instead of us flying west to Japan from L.A., we were going east first. We agreed to make a short stop in Florida to be at a rally for her father before heading out for Tokyo.
The fucking Faith and Freedom Coalition.
What a crock of shit. I had no faith or freedom, and my acting skills were really going to be tested when I had to put on a smile for all these right wing fuckheads.
Maybe I'd push myself out of the plane.
Bella interrupted my mental tirade, sliding her hand up my cheek and turning my head toward her. When she laid a whopper of kiss on me, with plenty of tongue, I reminded myself any torture I would be going through in the next few months was worth it.
She was worth it.
Soon we were at the airport, security tight around us as we went through the checkpoints, got our luggage checked, were chased by rabid fans, downed a few drinks at the terminal lounge, and finally boarded the plane. All the calm I'd stocked up on in the car was completely gone by the time we were strapped in our seats and in the air. Our group took up most of first class, but even surrounded by familiar faces, my anxiety was back to being sky high.
Bella reached over from the seat next to me, gripping my thigh to try and stop my bouncing knee. "Do you want another drink?"
"No, I probably shouldn't be wasted when we show up to this thing. It will be hard enough controlling my mouth without adding alcohol to the mix."
The stewardess walked by again, asking if we needed anything. I glared at her, and Bella told her we were fine.
"Get up," Bella said suddenly, unbuckling her seat belt and standing.
She bent over, clicking my seat belt open. "Get up. Come with me."
"Where the fuck are we going? To take a stroll through coach?"
She hovered over me, leaning in close enough our noses touched. "My panties are coming off in thirty seconds. Are you coming or not?"
I shot up out of my seat, following behind her and opening the bathroom door she'd just disappeared behind. It was tiny as hell in there with two people, but we could make it work. She was bent over, already tugging her panties down her legs, her ass swaying in that tight skirt.
I shook my head to clear it. "What?"
She stood back up straight, looking over her shoulder at me with a smile. "What do you want to do to me, Mr. Cullen?"
I gulped. There were many answers to that question, and most of them involved my cock.
Actually all of them did.
She turned around to face me, her hands sliding up my chest. "That sink counter looks like the perfect height."
"Yeah." I nodded, turning us and perching her up there. I spread her knees apart, stepping between them and pushing her skirt up higher.
She had on those thigh high things, and I groaned when my fingers reached the top of them.
"I thought you'd like those." She pulled me forward by my tie, kissing me hard as her fingers moved to unfasten my pants. "We have to be fast."
I panted, the location and tension and everything about her already had me halfway there. My eyes closed and I sucked on her neck when she pulled me out, her hand sliding up and down and driving me crazy.
"I think I've been a bad influence on you."
She giggled. "I'm the one who brought you in here. Maybe I'm the bad influence."
"You are bad." I gripped her hips, positioning where I wanted before burying myself inside her with a groan. My lips brushed her ear. "No screaming now."
She wrapped her arms around my neck, holding on as I pumped away. "You're the loud one."
That sounded like a challenge to me, and I pushed into her faster and deeper. Her little grunts when our bodies met echoed in the tiny space, turning me on even more.
I already felt myself getting close, and slipped my hand down between us to rub her clit. She moaned loudly, and I covered her mouth with mine. Her body was almost as familiar to me as my own by this point, and I could tell by the way her legs trembled and her hands clenched that she was close. When she clamped down around me, I let go, driving in as deep as I could and spilling inside her.
We clung to each other for a few minutes, breathing heavily and coming down from our highs. I could practically feel every one of my muscles relaxing from the release.
She was fucking talented at getting my ass calmed down.
"Was this a pregnancy hormone thing?" I asked, breaking the silence.
She shook her head. "No, it was a tension relief thing. I didn't want you taking anybody's head off."
I did feel a lot better, although we'd probably never hear the end of it from the others. "I can't believe we did this with the whole family out there."
She laughed. "It was actually your mother who suggested I bring you in here."
I groaned, burying my face in her hair. "I really didn't need to know that." I slipped out of her and helped her off the counter.
She started cleaning herself up, while I buttoned my pants back up and straightened my clothes.
"Ugh," she muttered to herself, shaking her head.
"What's the problem?"
"You shouldn't have done that inside me. I'll probably be leaking your stuff for the rest of the flight."
"That's fucking hot."
She lifted her head, her eyes narrowing at me. "It's not hot. This skirt will likely be ruined, and I don't know how we'll explain the upholstery on my seat."
I shrugged. "Consider it leaving them an Edward Cullen surprise. They should actually be paying us for it."
She snorted and rolled her eyes. "Now that is uncouth."
I threw my head back and laughed, hugging her to me. "You love me, though, uncouth and all." I kissed her pouty lips until she smiled. "I love you, too. Thank you."
She grinned up at me, her eyes bright. "Anytime."
I liked the sound of that.
AN: Did Bella make the right decision in helping out the campaign? Will she and Edward survive the busy coming months? Will there be another Renee/Esme brawl?
Thank you all so much for reading, reviewing, and letting me know your thoughts. I read and enjoy every single one.
Find me on facebook at Twilover Seven-six or on twitter at twilover76
What I Did For Love by SueBee0619
Kimberley Diamond by Gingerandgreen
The Gap by capitalab
Shelter by Marvar - Happy Birthday to Cosmogirl7481!