A/ N: Enjoy reading please. :)
Thank you to itsange and AnthroBug from Project Team Beta for editing this chapter. They are my permanent betas!
State of Grace
After having gone through tech equipment with Emmett, Edward and Isabella are ready to go. They are well equipped and confident in their ability to take down Aro Volturi and the twins.
"Excited about your meeting?" she asks him as they begin to depart. Edward is going back to his place to get ready for his meeting with the twins, whereas Isabella will be going home.
"I wouldn't really call it excitement," he replies.
"Of course, love." He flashes her a grin and winks at her playfully.
She chuckles at his charm.
"Where are you off to?" he asks her. After his meeting with the twins, he plans to give Tanya a call to go over the mission. He knows he should let Bella in on whatever transpires during his meeting with Alec and Jane, but they didn't make any plans to work afterward.
"Home," she replies. She actually has a date with Jacob Black, the man who she's been casually seeing for two months, but she isn't going to tell Edward that.
"Ah, I see. Well, have a nice time at home. I hope you enjoy your evening, Bella." He bends down and swiftly kisses her gently on her cheek. It's inappropriate, but he doesn't care.
When Isabella arrives at her house, she immediately gets ready for her dinner date with Jacob. She's happy to go out with him because she rarely gets a night to herself to do as she pleases.
Jacob Black is am amateur athlete. He runs in marathons and sprints in the local area, and he likes to rock climb. He has a day job as a waiter, and bartends sometimes, too. Isabella previously met him when she and Jessica were bar-hopping after work a couple months ago. Jacob was immediately attracted to Isabella, and she liked him enough to go out with him.
To be honest, Isabella doesn't see things with Jacob becoming serious. She likes him a little, he is fun, but she doesn't want to be with him all the time. He is a nice distraction from her day-to-day job.
Even though Jacob isn't the love of her life, she still dresses up to see him. After all, it's a date, and she enjoys the process of looking pretty. It's the process of getting ready that excites her. Jacob is a normal guy, and he offers her a nice, calming distraction amongst the chaos that her career brings to her life.
That night, Isabella meets Jacob at a famous, local steakhouse. She arrives after he does- intentionally late. She does this every time they go out: meets him at a restaurant or bar and never arrives before he does.
"Hi, Isabella," he says in greeting. He gives her a kiss on her cheek, and for some reason, she notices that this kiss doesn't make her feel butterflies in her stomach the way Edward Masen's kisses do, even if Edward's only kissed her on the cheek.
Isabella shakes off these thoughts. It is inappropriate to even think such thoughts when she's on a date with a man who isn't Edward Masen.
"Hello, Jacob," she replies with a smile.
He helps her into her chair and waits until she is seated before he takes his seat.
Jacob launches into an account of his day. He talks while they look at their menus and only pauses when their server stops to ask them what they would like to drink. His day sounds so mundane to Isabella. She remembers the boring account of his day used to entertain her.
He goes on and on, talking all through dinner. He asks her a few questions about herself and how she is doing, and she answers them with a few words. As far as dates go, this one is a dud. But as Isabella sits back to enjoy her molten chocolate cake dessert, she wonders if Jacob has always been this self-centered and boring. Did he always drone on and on, or was she imagining it? The more she listens and studies him, the more annoyed she is with him. She frowns when this negative thought creeps into her head
Jacob Black is annoying, but that's not why she's frowning. She's frowning because she's just discovered that now. Had it really taken her two whole months to figure this out? Sure, she likes to date. It helps her keep her private life personal and apart from her professional career. She likes dating, but she cannot stand how uninteresting this guy is. Since when did she resort to this?
After Isabella finishes her dessert, she wipes her mouth before interrupting Jacob.
"I've had a nice time tonight," she starts.
"So have I," he says with a smile.
She smiles too, but her eyes look a little sad. She knows he's way more invested in their dating relationship than she is. He's a nice guy, really, but it isn't working out for her. Dating is a casual thing for her, but she simply cannot date someone who can't hold her interest. He deserves better, and frankly, so does she.
She decides to be blunt with him. "I think it's best if we stop seeing each other."
He blinks a couple of times before he opens his mouth and then closes it. Finally, he gathers himself. "I thought you said you had a nice time tonight."
"I did. But we've been dating some time now, and I really think this isn't going to work," she says truthfully.
"But why?" he asks, looking dumbfounded.
She almost feels sad for him. Right now, he kind of resembles a sad looking puppy. His eyes are downcast, and he's pouting.
"Because I don't like you as much as you like me," she states firmly. She knows that if she's even a little nice, he might have a false sense of hope. She needs him to understand so that they can both move on nicely.
"Oh," he says, defeated.
She wants to say she's sorry, but that will only console him. It is better if she makes a nice, clean break from this altogether.
Isabella offers to pay for her half of the meal before she quietly slips away
Leaving Jacob like that isn't her best moment, but it is necessary. She finally realizes that dating Jacob wasn't wise. Dating to just date is useless. It's like doing the same shit everyday, but without purpose. In her professional life, she does everything with a purpose. There is always something meaningful about her job, but it seems her private life is ridiculous. She wants to change that, and tonight, she's starting over.
A part of her feels good about ending things with Jacob. He's a good guy with a good heart, and she knows he will find the right girl for him one day. She knows deep in her heart that she isn't right for him and vice versa. Isabella needs someone who can keep up with her intellectually; she needs someone who can challenge her. Edward Masen is a challenge, but she won't allow herself to even think about him like that.
While Isabella frees herself from Jacob Black, Edward Masen is sitting inside a swanky hotel waiting for Alec and Jane to arrive. He waits for a short time until he sees a petite, thin, young woman walking determinedly his way.
Jane is a walking contradiction. She looks sweet and innocent, but she isn't. She's more sadistic and evil than her brother. Edward has never liked her on a personal level, but he tolerates her. As a thief, he can almost appreciate her work, but as a human being, he just can't.
"Edward!" she joyfully gushes as she wraps her little arms around his middle. Jane likes to mess with him. She knows Edward doesn't particularly like her, so she uses that to piss him off. Admittedly, she likes looking at him. He is, after all, a fine specimen to behold.
"Jane," he says politely. He subtly extricates himself from her arms. The more physical distance he has from her the better.
Her tinkling laugh nauseates him, but he masks it well. Jane's blue eyes dance around as she sizes him up. Her silent perusal of him doesn't make him feel good. She's like a little devil, but this is a small price he has to pay in order to do his job.
"It's been too long," she says.
He nods but says nothing in reply.
"Alec is upstairs. He wanted to be the one to get you, but I practically begged him to let me. I haven't seen you in so long. Since Prague, yes?"
The job in Prague was the last time he had seen the twins. After that final steal in which the twins escaped authorities and Edward did a little stint in prison, he vowed to never work with them again. It was their unnecessary recklessness that got them into trouble.
"Yes, it's been a long time," he says. Edward decides he has to turn on the charm again. Jane was always a fan of his charming ways.
He gives her a small, dazzling smile and asks if they could continue their little catch up with Alec. Jane agrees, and the two of them head upstairs.
A few minutes later, they enter a hotel room. Jane leads him inside the lavish room, where Alec is waiting.
"Look who I found," she sings.
"Masen. Glad you made it tonight." Alec gives him a handshake before gesturing for him to sit down.
The meeting begins, and Edward takes on a different persona. When he's undercover, he puts on a mask and plays a part. This is his reality for the duration of the job. His cover is everything, and there is no differentiating from Edward the MI6 agent to Edward the elusive art thief. They are one and the same.
Alec goes over the items they are supposed to steal. These particular art pieces are going to be unveiled at the museum's debut event. Jane wants to hit them that very night, but Edward doesn't. He thinks it is too soon, but Jane likes going for the theatrics. Stealing it that night will be epic and she loves the attention. The notoriety they will get if they pull it off will be amazing.
In the end, Edward agrees with what the twins want to do. He manages to fine tune their plan, though. Seriously, if he left the planning up to them, they'd be in jail again.
The plan is fairly simple. The three of them will attend the event, looking glamorous and sophisticated. They will scope out the room and cause a diversion in order to steal the art. Edward will give Jane to the security pass codes so that she can rig the security cameras and alarms. The museum's security will then evacuate the patrons. During all the chaos, Alec will meet Edward in the enclosed area where the art is being displayed. They will make a switch and go out through the back, where Jane will have a car waiting.
This isn't rocket science. They've all done this before and have been successful. Edward is confident that everything will go like he plans. Because what the twins don't know is that he's got a much more smart and capable accomplice: Bella. She will be briefed on this plan and will be hiding out in the back to catch him and the twins in the act. Work is completed. Mission is accomplished.
"I have missed you, Edward. You always were such a great tactician," Jane states.
Edward inwardly smiles. Since their departure in Prague, the twins have only done small jobs here and there. It is a wonder how they are able to work this big of a hit.
"Why are you working for Volturi?" he asks.
The twins prefer bluntness to subtlety. Skirting around the Volturi topic would only aggravate them.
"Do you remember Prague?" Alec asks.
Edward nods yes.
"We made it out of Prague successfully, but we got caught in Sweden. We stayed with the Swiss police for four days before Aro Volturi got us out," Alec explains.
"He only got us out for one reason," Jane says softly.
Edward looks at her. He is surprised to see that she looks almost sad. Jane never lets anything get to her. But right now, she seems vulnerable.
He doesn't press for any explanation. There is no need. Jane will either tell him or she won't.
"Jane," Alec says warningly.
Her blue eyes flicker to her brother. She ignores his steely look. "Aro got us out because he wanted us to work for him. He has some very powerful friends; he's connected to some dangerous people. He claimed that he would provide us with all the necessary tools to complete our jobs for him."
She goes on to tell Edward that over the past five years, she and Alec have done minor work for him. He is training them to be the thieves that he needs. They are already experienced and ambitious, but now they have a permanent residence with Aro. From what Jane tells him, he thinks the twins want out. Because what good is it being an art thief if you're working for someone else? The goods go to that employer. You don't get to keep it. In the past, Edward would only do jobs like that if he got a generous cut in return. Something tells him that Alec and Jane aren't getting anything in return.
"Why are you working for him?" Edward asks finally.
"Because we owe him," Alec states grimly.
When Edward asks if Volturi knows that he is helping them, Jane says he is aware, and that he has no problem with the extra man on the job.
"In fact, he would like to formally meet you after this. We are going back to Italy to meet with him," Jane says.
This is what Edward needs. If he can get to Aro, then this assignment will be in the bag.
"I look forward to it," he says with a smile.
A/N: Jacob is a good guy. He's a nice character, too. Haven't you ever gone out with a nice guy and it just wasn't working? Dating happens. Sometimes it is hit or miss.
And the plot thickens. Well, the on the twins end that is.
Happy new year!
Thanks for reading!