Disclaimer: The original characters and plot of the Twilight Saga are the property of Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. The storyline of A Family like Ours is mine.
**WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEX/BDSM SCENES, LANGUAGE – STRICTLY NC-17!
A FAMILY LIKE OURS: A SEQUEL TO PEOPLE LIKE US
Bella woke up a couple of mornings later feeling excited and anxious. She showered and dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and quickly slipped on a pair of sandals before she finger dried her hair. It was going to be a very busy day in their household because all of the children were headed off in different directions. She had spent the past three days making sure that each child had what they needed for the various activities that had been planned. The previous day, Alice, Rosalie and Bella had taken their daughters, including the 'minis' to a day spa while the guys had spent a day 'working' on the ranch before they retired to the swimming pool. Jackson and Joshua had fired up the barbeque and Jasper and Emmett joined them for an impromptu family dinner.
Both Alice and Rose had commented that Bella looked happier and healthier. Bella had smiled and shrugged as she told them that she was working out.
She also had plans of her own and just thinking about it made her cheeks burn hot. She shook her head and pushed the tantalizing thoughts out of her head. Enough time for that later, Bella, she reprimanded herself sternly.
With a last look at herself in the mirror, Bella made her way downstairs to the kitchen where Eve was cooking up a storm for breakfast.
They chatted amicably as Bella helped to set the large table in the center of the open plan kitchen and she laughed as Evie called everyone to breakfast by sounding a god-awful alarm through the two way systems that went into each room.
Within minutes the kitchen was filled with four rumpled, sleepy and mostly grouchy teenagers and the three younger children.
Samuel glared at Eve as she put the coffee pot in front of him, "Seriously Eve, must you sound that darn thing every morning?" he grumbled.
Bella smirked as she snatched the coffee pot and topped her mug up, "Well, if you kids would go to sleep before the early hours of the morning, then you wouldn't be half dead in the morning." She quipped, causing Jackson to look at her suspiciously.
"You are very perky this morning Mom, what's got you so wide awake?" Sam asked almost accusingly.
Bella tried her best not to blush guiltily but the traitorous pink tinged her cheeks as she ducked her head to take a quick sip of coffee.
"Um, nothing really. I've got a couple of meetings in the city and I'm meeting Garrett and Kate for dinner." She said quickly.
That earned a laugh from Alexis, "Yeah, that and the fact that you are getting rid of all of us for a month!"
Jackson and Nicolas agreed with chuckles before they began to dish up. Bella listened to her children talking amongst themselves as they made plans and comments and she let out a sigh of contentment.
She loved having everyone home and she pushed away the thought that this year there would be another one less person at the table in the mornings when Nicholas left for college and they would only have another year with Sam at home before he left as well.
Bella made sure that she ate everything that she had dished up for herself. She spotted Jackson out of the corner of her eyes looking at her plate pointedly.
Bella and Edward had made a point of not keeping her anorexia a secret from her family. Over the years she had become disciplined in taking care of her body with exercise, diet and a general healthy lifestyle but she was always aware that anorexia could rear its ugly head at any time if she became too stressed or if she felt out of control.
As a submissive, Bella had become accustomed to relinquishing control of her body to Edward, but over the past few years, that had fallen once again on her shoulders and she was determined not to let herself fallen in old destructive habits. Her therapy sessions with Paul had helped as well.
She looked up and smiled at her oldest child to sooth the worry from his eyes. Her heart ached with just how much Jackson resembled Edward. He stared at her searchingly for a moment before he gave her a wink and a slight nod.
Bella let out a small sigh of relief. She was an awful liar and she prayed that no one called her out on her plans outright.
Breakfast was a languished, rowdy affair as appetites were appeased and plans discussed.
The seven young adults, Jackson, Tiffany, Alexis, Jared, Joshua, Nicholas and Christopher were leaving that morning for the family compound in Lake Tahoe for three weeks. Carlisle and Esme were already at the house and they would 'chaperone' the teenagers, who had all invited friends to go along.
The house where Bella and Edward had said their vows had grown over the years and now it was a compound for the entire family and their friends. Apart from the main house, there were another three houses, each of which had five bedrooms, four two-bedroom guest cottages as well as a Gatehouse that was home to the full time caretaker that took care of the property and his family.
Esme and Rosalie had spent months on every detail of each house and cottage so that while all the buildings were log cabins, each home was individual and unique.
Because of the size of their family, Carlisle and Esme had insisted that Edward and Bella take the main house, while the other three couples each had their own home with enough space for friends and visitors.
Bella was pleased that the teenagers were flying down so that she would not have to worry about them driving so far.
MC, Samuel and Daniel had all been selected to attend baseball camp at the University of Notre Dame and Bella listened as Sam spoke to Nicholas about the camp. Bella was already cringing at the thought of Sam going to Illinois for college, but it seemed that his mind was almost made up. He and both of his cousins were fantastic baseball players and several collage scouts had noticed them. Edward thought that it was a foregone conclusion that Sam would go to Notre Dame the following year, but Bella wasn't so sure.
Andrea, Elizabeth and Rebecca were going to an all girl's summer camp that was also on Lake Tahoe that catered to all of their interests.
Elizabeth loved to ride horses and there was a wonderful program for her to do that, whereas Andrea was on the swimming team and the camp had great swimming instructors. Little Rebecca wanted to do a little of everything and the program for children aged six to nine was such that there was a different activity for them to do every day. Alice and Jasper were going to be driving down with the girls the next day and Elizabeth and Andrea would be sleeping at Alice that night.
Max would be attending a local 'peewee' day camp with Seth's children the following week, but Charlie and Sue were picking him up later that morning to take him and Seth and Jessie's two children, seven year old Casey and four year old Isabelle on a camping and fishing trip.
Max was so excited that it took all of Bella's patience to get him to eat.
All of the adults, including Sue, Charlie, Seth and Jessie would be joining Alice, Jasper, Esme and Carlisle in Tahoe for the month of July. Even though it was usually quite busy, everyone had agreed that the family needed a month in which to relax and bond with each other and so their various business interests were left in the hands of capable managers, cell phones were only switched on once a day and all business talk was left at home.
With almost forty people to cook for at any one time, the main house's kitchen had been updated to accommodate industrial sized appliances and all the women shared the cooking duties, although the men spent a fair amount of time barbequing for the one meal that everyone came together for each day.
Bella loved this time of year usually, but this year she was feeling anxious about the holidays. After breakfast was finished and everyone had helped to clean up their mess, Bella urged everyone upstairs to finish packing and she reminded them to strip their beds and to bring their laundry downstairs so that Evie could tackle the mountain of linen and laundry while everyone was away.
Bella took another mug of coffee and walked out to the back porch. She sat down and sighed softly as she heard the faint sounds of laughter and chatter from upstairs.
Things between Edward and her had been better for the last couple of days. He had made a point of calling her at least twice a day and she knew that he was talking to the children as well.
At first Bella wondered whether Edward knew what she had been up to, but he when he didn't say anything, she relaxed slightly. She could hear that something was different by the tender way that he spoke to her, but she didn't want to jinx it and pry into the reason why he was trying to reconnect with her. Every day Edward told her that he loved her and Bella felt her heart begin to thaw at his warm words.
Of course he wouldn't have any idea what she had been doing for the past few months! He trusted her!
Bella shook her head and pushed the feelings of guilt away. This was his fault, she reminded herself. If he hadn't given her reason to, there was no way that Bella would be doing what she was doing.
Her mind went to the contents of the envelope again. She really didn't know what to do about it and that was one of the reasons that she was driving to San Francisco.
She knew in her heart that Edward was not being unfaithful to her. They had gone through too much shit in the past for him to throw it away on some young singer–but on the other hand, the camera didn't lie!
The envelope was still lying on the kitchen counter the next morning and something warned Bella to open it in private. She took a cup of coffee and made her way to her office. Once the door was closed Bella opened the envelope carefully. She had learned a lot from Emmett's security team over the years and although both she and Eve had handled the envelope, Bella knew that fingerprints could be left behind.
Once she had slip it open, Bella let the contents fall onto her desk.
Her heart was hammering as she stared at the single folio sized photograph.
Bella gasped. The photograph showed the back of a man and a women entering what looked like a restaurant, but it was the second photograph that was set into the corner that made Bella gasp.
There was Edward and the younger blonde singer, Whitney Pryer and it was not that there was any display of affection or anything that tore through Bella's heart it was the sight of her husband looking happy, playful and flirty.
Bella looked at the twenty something blonde singer. She was attractive, but once again Bella looked at her face. She was smitten. It was written all over her–she was smitten and giddy.
Bella knew that feeling and she knew expressions, for fuck sake, she had been studying faces for most of her life! Capturing expressions was what she did best. She knew the look of 'first love' or perhaps, 'first lust'!
After she had spent a few minutes crying Bella wiped her tears away and squared her shoulders. She was not the same young and scared waif that Edward had married twenty years before, no way was she putting up with this shit! This made her feel so much better about the decision that she had made all those months ago.
She quickly reached for the phone and after checking the number she dialed it quickly . As expected it was answered on the second ring.
"Andy? Hey, it's Bella. I need to see you."
"Do you want me to come out to the ranch? Are you okay? Do you need Edward?"
"No! Don't come out and whatever you do. Do not tell ANYONE about this, especially not Edward. Please? I will come to you…"
After a moments silence, Anderson agreed to see her as soon as she could manage it.
He would do anything for Bella Cullen.
Bella was brought out of the memory by the sound of Sam calling her, "MOM! Where are my baseball mitts?"
Bella rolled her eyes and snorted as she stood up and picked up her mug.
Only a few hours of madness to go before she would leave to begin getting some answers.
Whoever had sent the photographs had no idea who they were dealing with, Bella thought with a determined glint in her eyes, they had no idea just how hard Isabella Cullen was prepared to fight for her husband and her family.
Isabella Cullen would not take this lying down.
Edward stared out of the window of his hotel room without feeling the usual thrill of being close to home again.
Only a handful of people knew that he was in San Francisco and his wife wasn't one of them. He knew that was why he felt so 'out of sorts'. He had very few secrets from Bella and the fact that there were secrets between them was unnerving to say the least.
But it seemed that he wasn't the only one to be keeping secrets. His gaze fell on the plain brown envelope on the table.
He ran his hand through his hair for what seemed like the hundredth time that morning.
Just then there was a knock at the door and he jumped, biting back a muttered curse but he hurried to answer it.
"Thanks for coming." He said opening the door to let the three men inside.
His eyebrows rose as he greeted Jasper, Garrett and Emmett.
Jasper patted his shoulder as he walked into the suite, "They are here to help."
Everyone helped themselves to coffee and Edward smirked as Emmett almost fell on the covered dish that was filled with pastries.
"Hungry" was all he mumbled by way of explanation.
Once they were seated around the small dining room table, Jasper spoke.
"Where is the photograph?"
Edward pushed the envelope across the table but Emmett intercepted it.
"Have you kept it in the plastic?"
Edward nodded impatiently, "Of course! I'm not dumb!"
Emmett cocked an eyebrow, "That remains to be seen."
Jasper shook the photographs out of the envelope and Edward felt his heart contract painfully as the images landed on the table. Even though he had spent hours staring at them, he felt gutted every time that he saw them.
Edward had spent most of the night that he phoned Paul sleepless and sitting on the balcony sipping a watery scotch.
Paul had listened to him before he had first scolded him for taking so long to talk to someone and then he had scolded him for pushing Bella away.
After an hour, Edward promised to try to clear his calendar so that he could go and see Paul on his way home.
As dawn began to break, Edward walked inside to take a shower and spotted the envelope on a side table.
With a frown he turned the plain brown envelope over.
For some reason his heart began to pound as he slit the flap open and gingerly shook out the contents.
"What the fuck?!" He exclaimed roughly as the glass fell out of his hand unnoticed.
Edward clutched his heart as he stared at the black and white photos. Although he had not seen Bella in a submissive pose in a long time, he knew his wife.
His eyes filled with tears as his heart beat wildly.
"Isabella–please tell me this isn't true, baby." He whispered.
The first picture was fairly simple and although it was obviously a still taken from a video camera, it was surprisingly clear.
Edward could not make out much of the background in the room, but it looked as if there were dark walls and a wooden floor.
Bella was in a prefect submissive kneeling pose, her back straight, and her legs wide apart. Her eyes were closed and her face was downcast.
Edward frowned as he stared at the picture but when his eyes caught the date and time in the corner, Edward felt his heart begin to tear into pieces.
The date was a month before. He remembered the date because Bella had been on edge until she had left for a 'meeting' in the city. He had offered to drive her and he had even tried to convince her to spend the night with him in a hotel.
Bella had refused and it seemed that she couldn't get away from him fast enough.
Now he knew why.
The other photograph was a candid shot of Bella presumably as she left wherever she had been. She looked tired, nervous but breathtakingly beautiful.
Edward sat down abruptly. His legs were shaking as his fists clenched in his hair.
What was he going to do? He had allowed his own stupid fears and anxiety to push her away for so long that she had stopped waiting for him to get his shit together.
It was obvious that Bella had found herself another Dom.
He knew this because of the distinct marks on her back and shoulders from being whipped.
Edward felt his world unravel and he barely made it to the toilet and emptied the contents of his stomach.
Hours later, he reached for his phone and hit a number.
"Ed? What's up?"
"I've lost her." He croaked out.
"What? What the fuck are you talking about?"
"Bella. I've lost her. She…" he closed his eyes as the image on the photograph swam before his eyes, "she has chosen another Dom."
Jasper motioned for the sound engineer to carry on as he almost ran out of the room and into his and Edward's office. He shut the door and leaned against it.
"Edward, what the fuck are you talking about? Are you drunk? High?" he demanded impatiently.
Edward's laugh sounded like a sob, "I wish I was drunk or high. No my friend, I have the evidence in black and white right in front of me. There is a picture of Bella in submission. It's dated – remember when I told you that I was worried because Bella was acting strangely? Well it was that day. Jazz, I am so fucking stupid! I have been so scared to 'hurt' her or 'damage' her that I have pushed her into another Dominant's arms! What the fuck am I going to do?"
Jasper waited until Edward stopped crying before he spoke up, "You are going to get your shit together, once and for all! I have been telling you for ages, Ali had been telling you, fuck, your entire family as well as your fucking therapist has been telling you that Bella is not her mother! She is not going to have a psychotic episode or a nervous breakdown! It's only you and Charlie that listened to that quack that treated Bella after she had her operation. He fed you with such misinformation that it was criminal!"
Jasper didn't wait for Edward to speak before he went on.
"We have tried to tell you both that Bella is stronger now than she had ever been, but you and Charlie just continue to think that she is a piece of glass! I told you that your wife is a born submissive, Edward! Even Paul told you that and we warned you – if you are not going to meet her submissive needs then you need to expect her to either change or find someone who is not afraid to be her Master!"
Edward growled, "Fuck you! I am her Master!"
"Then start acting like it! Now, get up and go and shower. Clear you head out. There are two things at play here; one is that Bella may be scening with someone else or two and this is important – someone else knows what she is and in turn what you are, are you hearing me? Someone else knows that you are a Dominant or at least that you are in this lifestyle. We need to find out who it is and we need to shut them down before this entire fucked up mess come crashing down around our ears!"
The two men were silent for a long time as the ramifications of this sunk in.
"Jasper, what if the kids find out? Bella will never forgive me if this drives them away."
Jasper's eyes fell on the wall opposite. Photographs of their families crowded on wall. Neither he nor Edward cared about the awards, platinum, silver and gold records or even the four Oscars that they had amassed.
No, their family was their prized possessions and Jasper knew that this could destroy all of them.
He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, "We are never going to let anything happen to any of them, Edward. Now, pull yourself together and finish up this album today and then get your ass to San Francisco. Don't tell Bella or anyone that you are leaving Los Angeles. We will meet you in your suite at the W at 9 a.m. Don't be late. Ali and I are driving the girls down to Tahoe and we need to meet before we leave. I am calling in reinforcements."
Edward nodded, "Thanks Bro."
Jasper sighed, "Sometimes you make it difficult to love you, man, but you are welcome."
Edward's green eyes looked almost black as he stood in the shower. He was not going to lose his family or his wife. Or his submissive! Jasper was right; it was time to fight back.
He smiled grimly, he almost felt sorry for the fucker who had meddled in their lives. Almost.
Emmett gasped as he looked at the pictures. His eyes looked over at his brother and he winced at the pain that he saw etched there. He wanted to offer him some comfort but he had no idea what to say.
Jasper stared at the pictures analytically before he looked up at Edward.
"I asked Garrett to come with us because of his connections."
Edward nodded, "Of course." Edward cringed – did he want to know who Bella's new lover was?
It was then that they realized that Garrett hadn't said a word. The three men looked at him.
Garrett was more than a little uncomfortable. Bella had put him in an impossible situation! Kate had warned him that this could happen and that it would jeopardize the lifelong friendship that he had with Edward and with Jasper – it could ruin everything, but at the time, he had only been trying to help Bella.
He understood her pain and he wanted to help her. Fuck! He should have listened to his wife. He cringed; Kate was going to have his balls!
He realized that he couldn't protect Bella any longer and he sighed.
"Edward, um, this is really difficult, but," Garrett began, only to be interrupted by Edward's angry voice.
Edward frowned as he felt anger cruise through his veins, "What do you know, Garrett?"
"These photographs were taken at my club."
After helping Sam to finish packing, Bella walked into Andrea's bedroom and frowned. If it was at all possible, the room was even messier than it had been.
"Andrea, you need to clean up before Aunt Alice arrives to fetch you." Bella said as she began to strip the sheets off the bed.
Andrea sighed dramatically, "This is all Aunt Alice's fault you know Mom! She has given me too many choices! There is no way that I'm going to survive with just two bags! I need that just for my shoes!"
Bella shook her head; it would serve Alice right if she allowed her ten year old to have more luggage than herself!
"Okay, Coco Chanel, let's slow down here." Andrea giggled at the nickname, "You are going to camp, not a fashion show and no matter what your aunt says," Andrea opened her mouth but shut it as Bella gave her a warning look.
"You do not need to take a pair of shoes for each day! Now, you are going for a month and Nana and Pops are just across the lake if you really need something or I'm sure that your aunt won't mind driving to you. Now pack again and this time, can you please stick to the list that we made?"
Andrea rolled her eyes as she allowed her mother to cuddle next to her for a moment, "Sure Mom."
Bella went thought the bathroom and into Elizabeth's room. It was like stepping into a different world, Bella thought.
The preteen's stipulated two bags were next to her bedroom door. The double bed was stripped down and there was not a thing out of place in the room as Elizabeth flittered around her room, checking that all of her electronics were unplugged and that her already spotless room was even more spotless.
"Hey baby. Are you done?" Bella asked from the doorway.
Elizabeth pushed her hair over her shoulders as she looked around her room. Bella could feel the anxiety rolling off her as she bit her lip and shrugged.
Of all of her children, Elizabeth was the most like her and it worried Bella, even though Edward insisted that she would grow out of it.
Timid, shy and insecure, Elizabeth was uncomfortable around strangers and in strange environments. She loved her room. It was her safe haven. Elizabeth looked at her sisters and cousins in awe. They were all so outspoken and courageous and she was afraid to do almost anything!
She loved to spend time with animals rather than people and she had already asked her Pops to research the best schools to study to become a Vet.
Beth smiled at her mother and she readily went to sit down as Bella began to brush and then braided her long hair down her back.
"You know, Beth, this camp is supposed to have one of the best riding instructors in the country." Bella said calmly as she finished securing the braid.
She leaned forward and spoke quietly, "And I know that Pops has arranged for you to spend every second Saturday helping Doc Wheaton at the Animal shelter when we get back home."
Bella laughed as Beth shot off her chair and she clung to her mother, "What? Oh gosh, mom, that's AMAZING!"
Bella laughed again, "Better than Justin Bieber tickets for your birthday?" she teased.
Elizabeth's mouth popped opened again and Bella held up a hand, "Daddy doesn't know for sure yet, okay? But you did put it onto your list and he is working on it."
"I LOVE YOU!" Elizabeth squealed as Andrea ran in her room, "What happened?" she asked in a panic.
As the older of the two, Andrea was extremely protective of her younger, shy sister.
Bella pointed to the post of the young singer and Andrea rolled her eyes, "Seriously? Well, if I have to go to a 'beeb' concert, then you have to go with me to see my birthday group!"
Elizabeth scrunched up her nose daintily, "The Smashing Pumpkins? I thought that Daddy said you were too young to see them, why not One Direction?"
Bella could just see an argument starting and she moved away to hold up her hands, "Okay you two, that's enough. There is plenty of time to talk about this, but right now, Andrea Rose Cullen, you have to clean up that room before Uncle Jazz gets here."
Andrea sighed and walked towards her room, "Aunty Ali is fetching us because Uncle Jasper had to go to the city for a meeting this morning."
Bella looked up in alarm, "Really? He didn't say anything to me yesterday."
Andrea shrugged, "I heard Daniel telling Sam that his dad couldn't take them to the airport, so Uncle Seth is taking them."
Bella nodded and walked out of the bedroom.
Andrea stared after her mother before she looked back at her twin, "I wonder what that was about?"
Elizabeth shrugged, "I dunno. Hey, Drea? Do you think people will laugh at me if I take Dingle with me?"
Dingle was one of a pair of stuffed Pinto horses that Jasper had given the girls when they were born. They had been born one month to the day that the first Pinto foals were born on the ranch for that year and each child had received a foal as a gift.
Stuffed Dingle was Elizabeth's most prized possession after the real live version that had the same name.
Andrea turned to her sister with a frown, "No one is going to make fun of you, Twin, I promise."
They shared a smile.
"Hey, do you need some help cleaning up your room?"
Andrea rolled her eyes as Elizabeth giggle and threw an arm across her sister's shoulder, "I heard what Mom said, come on, it won't take us long at all."
Andrea laughed, "You haven't seen my room, yet!"
Bella walked into her oldest son's room and smiled. Jackson was filling a large bag with CD's and movies.
"Have you packed any clothes?" she asked.
Jackson looked up and grinned, "A couple of pairs of jeans, cut offs, tees, toothbrush – done!" he teased.
Bella rolled her eyes and walked further into the room.
"You're not packing any deodorant or undies?" Jacksons shook his head playfully as Bella raised her eyebrows.
"Wow the girls are in for a treat this summer! You'd better stay downwind, kiddo!"
Jackson barked out a laugh, "Nice to know that you think so highly of me!"
Bella reached out and ran her hand through Jackson's wild hair, "You need a haircut." She murmured.
Jackson leaned down and kissed her cheek before he stepped away and walked over to his closet to check that he had everything, "Nonsense, Ma, the chicks love my 'sex hair'!"
Bella huffed as she bit back a smile, "Spoken like a true 'Dean's List' candidate!"
Jack nodded, "Why don't you go and bug your other sons, you know, the 'player' and the other one, who is probably making some deal or another." He shook his head ruefully.
Nick was always negotiating or cutting a deal with someone. From his teachers to his coaches to his siblings and cousins, he was the smartest man that Jackson knew and after his 'uncle' Aro, Nicholas was the shrewdest!
Jackson watched his mother walked down the hallway and his smile faded. Nicholas was also the one that shared his secret and now there were two of them.
This time he was going to take matters into his own hands and he was going to tell someone. He had to and he hoped that Nick would do the same.
With a sigh, he pushed his dark thoughts to one side as he quickly picked up his bags and carried them downstairs.
Bella stuck her head around Max's door and saw her oldest daughter sitting on the floor with Max nestled in her lap as she folded his little T-shirts into the backpack that he was taking camping with Grumpy Charlie or 'G' as the kids called him nowadays.
"Hey you two, I was wondering where you were."
Alexis smiled and she hugged her baby brother, "We are just finishing up, because Grumps called to say that he is on his way."
Max wiggled until Lexi let him go and he scrambled to his feet, "I'm ready Ma!" he said as he held his arms out to show Bella that he was 'presentable'.
Bella felt her heart swell as the adorable child grinned at her and spun in a clumsy circle before he stumbled and fell against his older sister.
He laughed easily and gripped Alexis' shoulder in his baby-chubby fingers, "Oopsie daisy! Sorry Lex!"
Alexis steadied him before she stood up, "No harm, no foul, Max."
Bella smiled, "Max, do you want to go and hurry the twins up? Aunty Alice is on her way over."
Max grinned; he loved any opportunity to boss his older sisters around.
He ran out the room and began to yell, "You gals better be weddy or else Ali's gonna leave wifout you!" He laughed gleefully as his sisters began to squeal in protest.
Bella shook her head and she shared a smiled with her daughter, "Thanks, for helping him Hon. I know that he probably wanted to pack everything!"
Alexis laughed and nodded, "I had to bring Nick in to negotiate with the little tyke! Thank heavens Nick's got mad skills when it comes to reasoning with him or else G would end up having to take a U Haul with for the trip!"
Bella suddenly thought about the cross-country trip that she and Edward had taken years before.
"What are you thinking about?" Alexis asked curiously.
Bella blushed as she smiled, "I was thinking about an amazing trip that Dad and I took in this incredible bus many years ago." She sighed softly.
Alexis shuddered at the thought of what her parents did on their trip! Even now, they could hardly keep their hands off each other, but she had seen the pictures, at least the 'R' rated ones that hung on a couple of walls and still others that were in one of the many, many albums that they had and Alexis remembered seeing the raw desire and need in her parents young faces.
"Okay! Enough of that, Mom, thank you! Now, I'm going to find one of my strong brothers to take Max and my stuff downstairs."
She brushed her hands over her jeans and walked out of Max's room.
Bella hardly heard her go because she was lost in memories of another time… and then the bell rang and immediately the house was filled with loud voices, laughter and her sister in law calling her name.
Bella shook her head to clear it and made her way downstairs.
Alice grinned up at Bella before she pulled her into a hug.
"Hey Twister! What's with the hug? I saw you yesterday!" Bella half protested.
"I know, but I'm not going to see you for the next three weeks, so I wanted to get an extra hug in!"
"Mom, that is so corny!" Daniel said and he greeted Bella with a quick kiss to her cheek and took off up the stairs.
The two friends shook their heads as they listened to the noise on the first floor.
"I can't wait for the remodel to be done so that we can get the cottage ready." Bella said.
"Although, it's not Jackson and Nicholas that make the noise or the mess, but still they are old enough now to have a separate place."
Jackson and Nicholas had approached her and Edward a few months before and Jack had asked if he and Nicholas could move outside of the family home. They promised that when they were home and not studying or 'entertaining' friends, that they would be in the main house, but they also needed their space.
At first Bella was more than a little skeptical and suspicious but Edward had reasoned with her until she agreed to have a two bedroom, two bathroom cottage built behind their home. It was set a little way back from the main house and so the boys would have their privacy, but it was still near enough to walk from one house to another.
Edward had agreed to their suggestions and he had even agreed to add a 'dining room/kitchen' in the attic area, with the bedrooms and bathrooms on the first floor and a sitting room/den/games room on the ground floor with a separate room that was to be a small gym and work out room. Jackson had been training in Martial Arts for over fifteen years and he worked out every day to stay in shape. Nicholas preferred to run to relieve his stress and sometimes Bella joined him for a morning run.
Alice looked at Bella closely, "Are you okay? You look kind of flushed."
Bella could feel heat color her cheeks as she ducked her head, "Of course! Do you want a cup of coffee or something before you take the girls? Thanks by the way for taking them. I'm so pleased that the guys are taking the time off, it's been a crazy year, right?"
Alice was frowning as she followed Bella into the kitchen. Something was up. Bella only really babbled when she was nervous or trying to hide something because she was the world's worst liar… Hmmm.
Bella stopped talking and looked at her friend with wide alarmed eyes. She knew if Alice pried too much, she was going to cave in and tell her everything and as much as she loved her sister in law, she didn't want to put another marriage under strain.
She already felt guilty because Garrett had insisted on helping her and Kate had made it very clear that she didn't agree with Garrett's decision. Kate believed in honest and open communication. Bella frowned, but then again Kate was still Garrett's submissive and the two had a very active lifestyle, in spite of being parents.
Alice sighed, "I know that something is up with you and that you don't want to talk about it, but I just want to say that I am here for you. You are my best friend and my sister and you know that I will always be on your side. Whatever you are doing suites you. You are more sassy and spirited than ever and I like the fact that you've got some color in your cheeks."
Bella put her hand over Alice's, "I appreciate your support Ali. This isn't something that you can take my side on. If you do then it's going to cause major problems with Jasper and the rest of the family."
Bella looked at Alice beseechingly, "Please drop it. All you have to know is that I am fine and I am being safe."
Alive frowned, "Safe? What are you doing that you need to be safe? Bella, I don't like the sound of this…"
They were interrupted as Charlie and Sue walked into the kitchen.
"Hey Alice, hello Bells. Are you thinking of skydiving again Bella?" Charlie said with a twitch of his moustache.
Bella grinned as she hugged Sue and then her father. Even though he was 65, Charlie Swan looked years younger. Retirement, marriage and sobriety had done that for him.
Charlie loved his life. He spent his days in the garden or volunteering down at the police station when he wasn't travelling with one of the Cullen children.
The best part of all was that he had Sue by his side every day and he couldn't wait to spend his night loving on her. He smirked as he remembered how he had 'ambushed' that morning as she sorted out the laundry. She had tried to berate him, but he reasoned it wasn't his fault that she looked so damn enticing as she bent over the washing machine.
"Dad? What are you smirking about?" Bella's voice brought him out of his daydream and his eyes cut across to his wife who glared at him as her tanned cheeks burned.
"Stop it!" she hissed and Bella covered her mouth as she bumped shoulders with Alice.
"Why Charlie Swan, you little pervert!" Alice laughed, causing Charlie to blush bright red, much to the amusement of the three women.
"Okay, okay! I'm going to go and find my grandson." He grumbled as he hurried from the room.
Bella looked at her step-mother. Sue was staring after Charlie with an amused and decidedly goofy look on her face.
"Are you two going to be able to keep your hands to yourselves for the next four days?" Bella teased.
Sue grinned as her dark brown eyes twinkled, "We are taking an extra tent – just in case of um, 'emergencies'."
Sue laughed, "You went there first, kid and let's face it it's not like there are any secrets in this family are there?"
Bella willed herself not to flinch and she must have passed because the next thing Alice and Sue were discussing the new restaurant in town and Bella let out a sigh of relief.
An hour later, Bella waved as the loaded minivan and the trailing jeep that was loaded with the rest of the luggage, closed the front door and she leaned her forehead against it. The house was silent.
Bella could hear her own breathing and she took a few moments to simply appreciate the quiet.
Seth had arrived earlier and he had dropped the older kids at the private airport, before he drove Sam, Daniel and MC to San Francisco International to catch their commercial flight to O' Hare where they would be met by one of the camp directors. Because MC was still a minor, the boys would be escorted onto their flight, by airline personnel and they would be 'handed over' to the person that was meeting them. Of course the boys had protested vehemently but Emmett had ended the argument when he stated that they either accepted the help or they didn't go at all.
With a quick look at her watch, Bella run upstairs. She took a long shower and made sure that she took time to shave and check for any stray hairs. When she was satisfied that her legs, underarms and pubic area was clean, she rinse the conditioner out of her hair and stepped out of the shower.
After she dried herself and blow-dried her hair Bella got dressed in a pair of white jeans, a black v-neck T-shirt and her black leather jacket. Her makeup was light and after looking at herself to make sure that she wouldn't stick out in a crowd. Bella pushed a pair of sunglasses on top of her head and nodded with approval.
She quickly threw a couple of pairs of undergarments into an overnight bag, along with a couple of changes of clothing and a T-shirt of Edward's that she could sleep in and a small bag of toiletries.
Her heart was hammering as she walked into the annex and she quickly punched the code into the locked door.
As soon as she walked into the playroom, she felt that someone else had been in there recently.
Bella felt her skin prickle with fear.
"What the fuck is going on?" Bella said aloud. She frowned; it seemed impossible that someone else had been into this room. Only she and Edward knew the combination code and he hadn't been home in almost a month.
Bella laughed at her own nervousness, "You are being ridiculous, Isabella, this is just your wishful thinking!"
She quickly made her selections and with one last look around, she closed the door once again.
She packed everything into the bag and closed it and with another glance at her watch, she went downstairs and phoned over to Eve's house.
"Hey Evie, I'm leaving for the city. Yeah, well, I may stay with in San Francisco for an extra night and then meet up with Edward who is flying in on Sunday, but I will call you, okay? Bye."
She felt like running to her car but forced herself to walk casually across to the garages. For once she wasn't driving her SUV or minivan and she grinned as she pulled the keys for her special 'baby' off the wall and walked over to the Mini Cooper that Edward had bought her for her fortieth birthday.
Of course, he had made sure that it was absolutely the top of the range with every single luxury feature installed as well as the latest emergency GPS and alarm system that every car that any of the family drove was fitted with.
After what had happened to Bella when the twins and Nicholas were babies, no one was prepared to take any chances and so similar devices were installed in every car.
Bella grinned as she relaxed for the first time that day. Music blared from the speakers and she waved to the security guard at the gate as she drove away from the ranch.
She was anguish about her meeting with Anderson, but she was also excited about the night to come. Once every two weeks wasn't nearly enough, but it was the best that she could manage without arousing suspicion at home.
She was disappointed that she would not be able to have any lasting marks because Edward was due to arrive home in a couple of days and she couldn't take that risk, but she could still have some fun.
"WHAT? WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN? YOU KNEW THAT SHE WAS CHEATING ON ME? THIS WAS TAKEN AT YOUR CLUB?" Emmett was surprised that the windows didn't shatter as Edward bellowed his questions into Garrett's face as his fist pulled back.
Luckily Emmett still had good reflexes and he managed to pull Edward back before he could smash a fist into his mentor's face.
"NO! She's not cheating on you!"
"BULLSHIT! LOOK AT HER BACK!" Edward screamed and he lunged at Garrett again.
Emmett tackled him to the floor and held him down.
After long moments of scuffling Edward finally lay on his back on the ground and didn't try to free himself from his brother.
"Okay, get off me!" he growled.
Emmett stared down at him, his hands still holding Edward pinned to the ground. "Are you sure? You are going to behave?"
Edward nodded impatiently and he slowly sat up. Garrett hadn't moved and he sat staring solemnly at Edward.
Edward struggled to control the rage and hurt that he felt at his friend's betrayal.
Garrett waited for a couple of minutes until he could see that Edward was calmer.
"Edward, Bella is not cheating on you." Edward opened his mouth but Garrett held up his hand, "I promise you – this is not what it seems to be! Yes, there has been a grievous breach of security, and I agree with Jasper and Emmett that the perpetrator must be found immediately because if this gets out, your family will suffer greatly."
Edward glared at him, "And so will your reputation! Imagine your 'clients' finding out that their anonymity," Edward curled his fingers to form air quotes, "was in jeopardy – you would be finished in this business and your reputation would be ruined, so you have just as much to lose as me!"
Garrett shook his head, "E; I don't give a rat's ass about my reputation; this is not about me or the clubs; this is about you and Isabella. I know that I should have told you and I have begged Bella to tell you herself and she has been getting better. She promised me that she was going to talk to you when you got home."
The two men looked at each other. Edward could see that Garrett was telling him the truth and he could also see that Bella had put Edward into an almost impossible situation.
"I am sorry, Edward, but Bella has been hurting and I had to help her. I glad that she came to me first. She made a safe decision and I promise you, no one has violated or touched her."
There was silence before Edward nodded and he stood up and picked up his chair.
Emmett and Jasper joined them at the table again.
"First order of business is to find out how this fucker is hacking into your system, Gar." Emmett said, all at once he was no longer the big easygoing teddy bear, but he was alert, capable and slightly frightening.
"I need to get our IT guys onto this ASAP, also, we need to dust these to check for fingerprints or saliva." He grinned grimly, "People like this like to hide behind being a bully anonymously, so let's sees if we can draw them out into the open. This asshole is messing with the wrong family! I need to make some calls." Emmett got up and walked into Edward's bedroom.
Jasper and Garrett looked at each other and then at Edward.
"Edward, I know that looking at these photos is painful, but let's be honest here; you have fucked up big time." Garrett said quietly.
"You have been a Dominant for almost half of your life and this is not the way that you have been taught to treat your submissive, never mind the fact that she happens to be one of the most amazing woman that I know and the mother of your seven children. Bella is generous to a fault and when she first came to see me about six months ago she was a mess."
Edward swallowed heavily as he felt regret and remorse settle in his stomach.
"But Bella has been so – so fragile since Max was born…" Edward said.
Jasper hit his hand on the table as he leaned forward and glared at his brother in law. "That is where you are so wrong, Edward! Only you think that Bella is this broken, fragile little doll that is going to break, but dude, she is so fucking strong it is scary! Once again you have decided that Bella couldn't handle going into the playroom and so you just–stopped. Do you know how much that must have hurt her? She is a submissive! That is who she is! Did she ever once tell you that she wanted to leave the lifestyle?"
Edward shook his head. "No."
Garrett nodded, "That's right, she has never said that and you gave her one chance and when she safe worded, you decided that she had had her one chance and that was that."
Garrett sat back and crossed his arms over his chest. Edward felt himself color at the look of disappointment and sadness in Garrett's eyes. He had been Edward and Jasper's mentor for so long and he was the one person that Edward trusted implicitly in the BDSM community.
"This is not my story to tell, and so I am going to just point you in the right direction with one condition: You have to promise to look, listen and above all stay calm until Isabella has explained herself. If I do this, and you and Isabella decide to move forward as Dom and sub, I expect to see you change and put a shitload more dedication into this relationship than you have been."
Edward felt shame wash over him. How had he fucked up so badly? How had he walked away from the one person that he loved and adored? He had let so many people down and he didn't know if he was going to be able to put this right.
Jasper sat forward, "Ed, we are going to make some changes at RHR as well. You need to take some time off, man. You need to spend time with your family and I'm not just talking about Bella. The kids are growing up so fast. They have been home for a month already and you have been gone for three weeks out of the past four. That's bullshit and it has to stop. You can't keep running away from your problems. Do you even know what's going on with them?"
Edward frowned, "What do you mean?"
Jasper sighed, "You need to talk to them and find out what's happening in their lives. I think that you will be surprised to say the least. We are all busy, but remember when we started this?"
"Do you remember why we started this business and why we moved out of the city?"
Edward rubbed his hand over his face, "Yeah, we did it so that we could have a good quality family life."
Jasper nodded, "Time is not on our side, Bro. One of these days they are going to be grown and gone and if you are not careful, you aren't even going to know them."
"Did something happen?" Edward was beginning to panic.
Jasper sighed, "Look man, I just think that there are things going on with Nicholas and maybe Jack. I don't know for sure, it's just a couple of things that I've overheard."
"Drugs? Booze? What?"
"No! Nothing like that, thank God." Jasper looked torn for a moment. "Just talk to them."
Edward knew that he wasn't going to get any more out of him. Jasper was amazing at keeping secrets and confidences.
Edward nodded slowly, "Okay." He looked at Garrett, "I agree to your conditions, Garrett. Please, just tell me what I have to do?"
Garrett stared at Edward for a long moment. He would know if Edward was just blowing smoke up his ass.
"Okay, come to the club at seven o'clock tonight. It is Masquerade Ball night so I've got a mask and cloak for you downstairs." He handed Edward a green wristband. "This means that you are not to be approached. Isabella will be wearing a similar one. Go straight to my office and I will take you to the observation room."
Edward felt sweat run down his forehead, "What then?" his voice sound rough and wheezy.
"You will be able to observe for an hour. Observe only, Edward. No matter what you see, you will not disturb her, do you understand?"
Edward's tongue felt as if it was stuck to the roof of his mouth. He felt as if he was going to pass out.
He reminded himself that this was not about him. This was about Bella and what she needed. She needed this.
"Will," his throat constricted and he felt tears burn behind his eyelids. "Will she be with someone?"
He felt as if his heart was being ripped out of his chest.
Garrett's eyes filled with compassion, "Edward, Bella does not have another Dom, man or woman."
Edward frowned, "But you can see the marks Garrett!"
Garrett raised his eyebrows and Edward gasped as comprehension dawned.
"She did that herself?" he pointed at the photograph.
Garrett sighed, "Just come tonight."
Emmett came back into the room. "Okay, so my IT team is on their way to the club. Can we meet them there? Also, I have to get these pictures over to the lab."
Jasper and Garrett stood up, "I need to get back home. I told Alice that I had a meeting in the city this morning but she is going to have her hands full with the three girls. We are leaving in the morning."
Edward shook hands with his three closest confidants. "Thank you for doing this."
Emmett summed it up quite eloquently as always when he pulled Edward into a tight hug, "Just don't fuck it up, Bro. If you hurt her again, I will kick your ass."
A/N: Okay so we are into the second chapter of our story and we are getting a little more comfortable with everything, right?
I just want to thank each and every one of you that have read and reviewed the last chapter. I am completely blown away by the response that this story has received from FFN and TWCS.
I have received tons of questions and comments and although you know that I'm not going to spill the beans, I just want to say that this Bella isn't weak or pathetic. She is amazing and real. She isn't perfect and this Edward was NEVER designed to be perfect, either as a Dom, a husband, friend, lover or father. This is a journey of self-discovery for our characters and for me. I have a plan and no it's not just going to be mindless sex scenes, chapter after chapter, either.
To my readers on FFN, I wanted you all to know that I post my chapters with pictures over on TWCS every now and again because I am something of a visual writer so if you want to see what kind of things or people I imagine during this story, take a look on that site.
I am technically challenged so posting to a blog or even setting up a blog is a complete mystery and impossibility for me!
I also want to thank my wonderful friend and beta, Fiorella for her hard work to make this chapter acceptable – love you stax and more, chickadee.
Till next time,