AN: Thank you for all the reviews, story favorites and follows. I do want to clarify that while I have this story mapped out it that sometimes my imagination goes off in tangents, so from this point forward I'm not promising anything. I still you hope you enjoy the story, but if not there are so many other wonderful stories that you can enjoy.
Thank you to RFM86 for pre-reading and my Beta mauigirl60 for helping and supporting me as I write this story!
Disclaimer: Monsters do bad things. They will be horrible. I'm just warning you.
Chapter 11: Hi Ho, Hi Ho It's Off to Work We Go
This was her second home, but Bella's nerves were on high alert. When it was decided that she needed to hightail it to Aro, she was certain Edward would remain on the reservation. This was certainly the best decision in Jared's opinion, but the vicious look the man was giving Edward was enough for Harry to send Edward along with Bella. Bella was rethinking this decision as she sat in Edward's car, in front of the Volturi Home for Exceptional Misfits, as Laurent dubbed it. Bringing him here made her nervous.
"Bella, it's going to be just fine." Edward stroked her cheek lovingly.
She flinched away from him and admonished, "I need you to remember that famous kindergarten rule about keeping your hands to yourself, dude! Damn, what did I say about boundaries?"
He had been trying to touch Bella the whole ride back to Aro. He attempted a small caress on her hand. Edward then added a stroke onto her leg. Every once in a while he fingered a lock of her hair as he steered one-handed. Sure, she was affected by his touch, but it scared her too. Plus, she had a raging headache that bordered on a migraine. Fear and staying up all night would do that to a girl.
"I feel better with my hand on yo..." He reached for her hand.
"Come on!" Bella pushed the car door open and quickly got out, slamming it behind her.
Edward's eyes grew large as he took in the house. It was eclectic, to say the very least. He was used to growing up in a home with a manicured lawn and well-planned-out flower beds. This yard was filled with whimsical statues, and mobiles made out of steel and tin cans. The flowers were a myriad of wildflowers whose colors had no rhyme or reason, but complemented each other. Edward felt surprised at the waves of inspiration that flooded him from looking at such a sight.
Bella pushed inside the door, and Edward grabbed her arm. She turned to him and exclaimed, "What did I say?"
"You're going to just bust right in? That's rude, Bella..."
She rolled her eyes at him, and stated, "It's home."
Lidia stood on the other side of the door with her large grin and dancing eyes. She held her favorite wooden spoon in her hand and wore her lucky apron that was covered in four-leaf clovers. Her cropped hair was a snowy white and she looked like the perfect person to hug, which is what Bella immediately did. Bella allowed herself to be cuddled into the older woman's arms, which made her feel so safe and loved. It was an amazing feeling.
"My sweet girl, I am so sorry I wasn't able to tell you..." Lidia started to explain and then she pulled back to see the bandage on Bella's neck. It was healing rather quickly, but the wound was still slightly painful. "What happened, Bella?"
Bella inadvertently looked at Edward, making Lidia narrow her eyes. With one arm still around her precious girl, Lidia whacked him on the head with the wooden spoon. "You hurt one of my babies? What is wrong with you?"
"Lidia..." Bella tried to protest, even though seeing the woman, who had become her mother, instantly protecting her with a wooden spoon and fierce determination was both hilarious and heartwarming.
Aro came in with arms open wide. "My Li, stop bludgeoning the young man! He can't help that he's cursed. The good news is that our Bella was strong and could protect herself."
Lidia narrowed her eyes at Edward, but lowered her culinary weapon. "Fine, Papa...but I'm watching you, boy!"
"A curse?" Bella asked, in amazement as she went over to give Aro a hug. There it was again, that blissful warmth that the Volturi couple radiated. "Harry said he has a demon inside of him."
Aro started to lead Bella into the main family room where all of the 'misfits' had gathered. "Harry and the tribe have a gift of being overly-dramatic."
Bella could only smile, because Aro was the king of being overly-dramatic.
"Children," he declared, as they entered the room. "We have a dilemma that, as a family, we need to overcome. Mr. Cullen is an old friend of our Bella and needs our help. Mr. Whitlock, if you are going to remain and support our Alice, I ask that you have an open mind to the wondrous mystical abnormalities that will expand your horizons."
"Oh, God, Aro..." Victoria scoffed from the chair she was lounging on. "Let's just stop the poetic ramblings."
"Victoria, darling, this is more than poetic ramblings. It's the safety of not only our family, but the members of our community." Aro gave her a sad look.
Jasper sat on the floor next to Alice's feet, his head resting on her knee. "Since Alice is going to be involved in this, then so am I."
"Involved in getting into Alice's pants," Bella retorted.
"Edward is here for you, so I should be here for Alice!" Jasper exclaimed, grabbing Alice's comforting hand.
"Edward isn't here for me," she said angrily, and held her hand up when Edward tried to disagree. "He's up to his eyebrows in this mess."
Laurent looked up from his tarot cards lying on the coffee table. Little Jane was napping fitfully, her head in his lap. "Bells, Jasper is okay. The cards never lie."
"Then do Edward's, Laurent, and then tell me what's the truth is," Bella scoffed, earning a giggle and thumbs up from Victoria.
Laurent ignored them and shuffled the cards. His face twisted in concentration and all of a sudden, his eyes became completely white. Instead of eyeballs, he had hard-boiled eggs. Bella shivered at the sight. Her life was a horror movie.
Shaking his head and his eyes going back to the color of warm bark, Laurent looked up at Edward in shock. "What are you?"
"He is cursed, my son," Aro explained quietly. "It is our job to break the spell..."
Laurent looked back at the cards and looked up, glaring at Edward. "Did you do that to her neck?"
"Well..." Edward started to explain, but really, was there any good way to explain what he had done?
"I'll kill you," Laurent muttered, so Jane wouldn't hear.
Victoria added, "Shit."
Laurent was normally a pussy cat.
"There will be no killing of anyone, dear one. The threat from the young man has been contained. We now need to work together. Teamwork is the name of the game." Aro grinned at the room ignoring Laurent's angry glare, but his face grew confused. He looked at Lidia and asked, "Mama, where did I stick the sword and the dagger? You know…the ones with the jewels and symbols?"
"I guess up in the attic, Papa. They could be in the cardboard box under my mother's quilts. The box is labeled 'dishes'. Of course, you could have hid them under all those old home improvement magazines in the plastic containers. Why you needed to store those 90s back-issues of This Old House in protective boxes, while my mother's handiwork is rotting in cardboard, is beyond me," Lidia complained. "Laurent, why don't you look for them?"
She knew good and well her dear child wouldn't be able to find them. Spells had the lovely advantage of keeping things secret.
"I'm not leaving this guy around Bella and the little girls!" he stated, his fingers brushing Jane's hair. He would always protect his Jane and sweet Charlotte. His maternal side was fierce.
"I'm not little," Charlotte complained, looking up from the tattered old copy of Sweet Valley High that Alice had given her. She had only been somewhat paying attention to the conversation as she sat reading on the floor, because the sisterly discord of Elizabeth and Jessica was far more interesting to a teenager. She gazed at Bella and Edward, her face going blank again. Then she smiled a brilliant smile. "Their colors still match! His is growing deeper though."
"That, darling, is because young Edward is cursed. The closest thing I can say to explain it is that he has similarities to the vampire..."
"Whoa now, this is Edward. If he's a vampire, then I'm Casper the Friendly Ghost," Jasper scoffed.
Alice leaned down and kissed him gently. "You don't have to stay."
"I'm never leaving you!" he cried out.
Before Aro could explain, Charlotte blurted out, "It's sunny out! Does he sparkle? Is he like in my books?"
Victoria rolled her eyes. "You should never let her read that fuckin' stupid teen vampire trash. Char's delusional enough as it is."
Laurent growled, "Watch your language, Trailer Trash! The kids are in here!"
"Charlotte's a teenager and has heard worse and little Jane is doing sleepy time, so shove it up your ass, Queen."
All this talk of the supernatural upset Victoria. To admit that, it would mean that her life wasn't what it seemed.
"If you don't want me to talk, la la la la la…then tie me up and gag me. I bet you would like that if I were a boy!"
"I wouldn't even have to tie you up, Trailer. I'll use duct tape and that will hurt like a B.I.T.C.H. to pull off!" Laurent exclaimed quietly, giving Victoria the finger.
"I can spell," Charlotte mumbled.
Bella gave a deep sigh, as Edward took her hand. She let him. It was overwhelming enough for her without the need to drink O-negative or AB-positive. She was pretty certain Edward was a mess.
"Calm down, Vic."
"Are you fucking him? I see you holding his hand. Did he get chompy during his orgasm?" She flipped upside down in the chair, her long red curls hitting the carpet. "Look, Bella, I'm a vampire bat like your creepy buddy."
Bella was about to yell at her when Aro held up his hand and stated sternly, "That is enough children! Apologize, Victoria."
Like an acrobat, Victoria tumbled off the chair. Standing, she glared at the occupants of the room. "Fuck this! I have enough on my plate. My meds stopped working and they won't stop talking to me and showing me their ugly faces!"
"Sweetheart, I think we can gather that they aren't in your head," Aro gently told her, his arm going around her. "They have things to tell you."
Bella tried to help. "Vic, I know this is crazy, but there are giant wolves with foaming mouths and..."
"I can't do this!" Victoria fled the room.
"Mama, let me help you fix breakfast for the troops," he suggested and patted Bella's shoulder. "Go talk to our angry one. You have always been able to get through to her."
Bella looked at Edward. "She needs me. Don't eat anyone while I'm gone."
"Let me come!" he begged in desperation.
She squeezed his hand. "I need to do this alone. Be good."
She walked up the stairs, feeling Edward's eyes on her back, and was surprised that she didn't want to leave him either.
Victoria was stomping around her room, throwing clothing into a tattered grey suitcase that she had decorated with peace signs using a magic marker. This was her lucky suitcase and it always led her to safety.
The whole situation was ridiculous. Her delusions were real? That had to be the stupidest thing she had ever heard. She just needed to increase her dosage of meds. It had to be the answer.
When Victoria was a small child, she'd always had imaginary friends telling her things she shouldn't know. It was the old woman who, with grandmotherly affection, had helped the child continue to thrive, although no one else could see her. How their small, derelict house was filling up with carbon monoxide and how the young child was told the way to get the trashed occupants out. When the heat was going to be cut off, the elderly woman had told her where the drug money was that had been hidden by her mother, and the ten-year-old had used it to pay the bill and get some much-needed food into her starving belly.
Victoria's mother, with her drug-addled mind, had never cared about her daughter seeing invisible people. It kept the brat from getting into her hair, until her daughter had started seeing things that chilled the now teenager to her bone.
The first time Victoria had seen the little girl was at the park. She had been hanging out with a rough crowd, smoking and skipping school. If her mother didn't care, then why should Victoria? It was early dusk and she had decided it would be fun to swing on the rusty swing set and was startled to see a young child staring at her. The girl wore a pinafore dress and Victoria wondered if she had wandered away from a costume party. It was October, after all.
"Shouldn't you be at home, kid? It's late. I'll take you back to your Mom and Dad."
The girl gave a large grin that bordered on frightening. She swung her jump rope and started skipping and chanting, "Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posy. Daddy said Sadie had it coming. Ashes, ashes, down comes Sadie's head!"
The girl's head plopped down and rolled next to Victoria's feet. Her screams filled the playground and her friends just laughed from the picnic benches.' Shrooms would do that to a girl.
Victoria had tried telling her mother about the gruesome ones that were following her around, but the woman had just pushed cocaine on her daughter to numb her brain. It wasn't until Victoria had seen her mangled father crawling toward her, after he had perished in a car accident, that the older woman tossed her daughter out of the house and into the dark world of prostitution. She would have killed herself if it weren't for the loving embrace of Aro and Lidia. She was really going to miss them.
Bella popped her head in the door. "What'cha doing, Strawberry Shortcake?"
"Go away, Bella! I need to pack."
Ignoring her, Bella plopped down onto Victoria's bed. "No, you aren't. I was just a tasty treat for my ex-boyfriend, in the most gross and non-sexual way, so you aren't leaving me. We are friends for life. I'm here for you."
"I have a creepy little headless girl hanging out and staring at me over there!" Victoria pointed in the corner of her bedroom. "Stick your damned head on, kid! It's annoying and supposedly, you're real and I'm not schizophrenic, so get out!"
"What does she want?" Bella emptied Victoria's suitcase onto the floor and looked at the empty corner.
"She wants me to find her killer." Victoria tried to fill her suitcase and avoid Bella's kicking feet at her head. "Cut it out! You're as annoying as that Indian kid who wants my help."
Bella froze. Could it be? "Did the Indian kid give his name?"
"Jake or Little No Shirt, I have no clue. He's annoying and wears cut-off jeans. Always wants to tell me about wolf stories. Vodka usually shuts him up. He poofs with a disapproving look. What a tool."
"That's my Jake...is he here?" Bella asked and grabbed Victoria's hand.
"No." She looked at Bella's face and knew instantly it was true. "Oh, shit...Bella, what are we going to do?"
Bella hugged her tightly. "We stay together, Vic. That's all we can really do."
It had been a long day and Garrett was spent. Heidi and Peter had been at each other's throats all day and the cappuccino machine was on the fritz. He had received one short text from Bella stating that she was okay, but he had a bad feeling that was far from the truth.
He wiped down the counters to prepare for the late night crowd, when the lovely Kate Scott walked in. Actually, walk wouldn't be an appropriate description, but sauntered fit perfectly. Her dress was red and tight, displaying her cleavage. It was more appropriate for a night out on the town then a college town coffee shop. He felt confused at her change of demeanor.
"Hello, Garrett, how are you this lovely evening?" she crooned and stroked his hand.
He moved away slightly, and removed his hand from her touch. Something didn't feel right about the way Kate was acting. "Good, good...it's been a busy night."
The shop was practically empty. Kate looked around with a smirk.
Garrett continued, "Can I get you a coffee? The cappuccino machine is busted, but the repair..."
"I want you."
Garrett's eyes grew wide. "What?"
"Can I talk to you in the back, honey?" she asked with a purr.
"I have customers."
Her eyes narrowed. "I think the boy's got it."
Peter didn't even look up from his cell phone. "Go ahead, man. I got this."
Reluctantly, Garrett led Kate to his storeroom office. She wouldn't stop rubbing his arm, and if he was pretty sure, the woman was sniffing him.
He sat her down on the couch and quickly backed away to perch on the edge of his desk. Kate would have none of it. She stood and unzipped her dress and stood before him clad in only black lace underwear. To most men, this would be a fantasy come true, but Garrett wasn't most men. He was a romantic and wanted to woo his intended. It was his thought that Kate was the same way, but he must have been mistaken, as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Kate, I really do think you're great, but I like to take things slow. Let's get some dinner and talk." He tried to reason with her.
One arm slipped down and she unzipped his pants, Kate's hand rubbing his dick quickly. "That sounds terrific. I want so many things from you, sugar."
"Then, let's cool things down," he started to say. She only gripped him tighter and pushed her lips on his. Her kiss was amazing, but also frightening. He pushed his mouth away, but she still had him in her strong embrace.
"If that's what you wish, Garrett. I guess no happy ending for you. Emmett wants to make sure you stay away from his Bella," she whispered ominously. "I'm going to eat you, baby. I like my man's blood for dinner."
She pushed him down onto his desk and, with lightning speed, her sharp teeth latched onto his neck. Garrett let out a scream and somehow pushed her off him and into a file cabinet. He ran to the door, his hand pressing down on the rip in his neck, as she yelled at him from where she'd landed on the floor.
Quickly, he shut the door and scrambled for his keys. Holding the banging door closed, he locked it from the outside. He'd always thought that a lock on the outside of his office was stupid when he bought the place, but now it seemed to be the best idea ever.
"Wow, you got yourself a wildcat in there!" Peter exclaimed, looking at the disheveled Garrett. Garrett was quickly zipping up his pants with bloody hands.
"Shut the hell up, Pete," he grumbled. He grabbed the phone and dialed quickly. "Bella, I have a woman locked in my office who was sent by Edward's brother to bite me... I need to call the pol...right...she bit me. Fuck! Just get here soon!"
As the banging continued in the storeroom, the day faded into night.
Garrett wondered if monsters were real. He clutched a dish rag to the bleeding wound on his neck and wished this nightmare would end.