Kimberley Diamond Chapter 3
I've lived so much since the last time I posted a chapter of KD, which is hardly a fanfic of Meyer's Twilight at all. I'm thankful for the stories I can tell because of the good and the bad life threw at me; and because of the extraordinary community built around this Twiworld of fateful love. I'm sad that you had to wait for me for so long, but I'm glad I could be here to share my vision of life in Africa some little while ago. I hope you enjoy it. This chapter is dedicated to my FicSix, and Cared Cullen in particular – thank you for all that you do.
Please read the A/N at the bottom.
I am witness to Edward and Bella's first fight, and it is a sight to behold. The lad has truly met his match in his fiery wife.
"Why do you not listen to me?" he shouts. "There is no need for you to bloody your fingers mending a shirt I can as easily replace in the next order from Cape Town!"
The exasperation in Edward's tone is almost as amusing as the fury in Bella's.
"There may come a day, Mr Cullen, when the frugal wife you have taken will be regarded by you as a blessing, not a curse. Is my handiwork so poor as to be beneath your high class ways?"
"Don't twist my meaning like that! You have injured yourself for me, and I only wish to protect you, even if it's from yourself. At least allow Alice to finish the job."
"Why should Alice do my work? I am not so delicate as to regard a pin prick an excuse to stop performing my duties, as well you should know!"
If those flashing eyes were trained on me, I would cower like a baby; but my fool brother bursts into laughter.
"That's true," he says. "A much bigger prick than that hasn't stopped you."
I hold my breath, desperately wanting to laugh but waiting for the girl to settle on a response. Her face is an evening's entertainment in the space of moments. She turns from indignation to embarrassment, until a wicked glint in her eye gives way to a giggle she vainly attempts to hide. Before long she is almost choking on her laughter.
My brother's face softens into a look of adoration I haven't seen on him since our mother was alive.
"Come here, Bella."
He takes her hand, kissing it as she rises obediently from her chair, abandoning the offending shirt on the work table. He pulls her quietly out of the room, and silence settles in their wake.
I continue with my own work, totting up wages and other expenses in the ledger. The clock ticks quietly behind me, but the immediate vicinity is otherwise as still as Hades.
I am so damned lonely, it hurts.
No matter, there is plenty to be done. I slap my thighs, stand and head for the kitchen. I could start some mielie bread now, ready for the morning, if Alice hasn't already.
Emmett and Riley are already seated in the wagon as Jasper and I load the last of the rifles in the back. Riley gives me a sour look and hops off the bench seat into the covered area behind. He lies back and pulls his hat over his eyes while I take his place next to Emmet.
"What did I do?" I ask no one in particular, and no one answers me, either.
Jasper climbs up to sit next to me, pulling his shirt off his back to wipe the sweat away from his neck and face. I decide to do the same. Those boxes weigh a ton, and the early morning air is already heavy with heat.
"Jesus, Edward, what the hell is that?"
Jasper gestures at my bare shoulders, the disbelief in his tone reflected on his face. Emmett cranes around to look and guffaws with laughter.
"Did she bite you? Are those scratch marks? What the hell did you do to her?" Jasper can't let the matter go.
I flex my muscles, stiff with exercise and the marks my wife made there. I can't help my wide grin.
"None of your business, Jasper Cullen."
I laugh at the look of disgust he gives me.
"How is it not my business? You are my brother and you made Isabella my sister. I have a right to know why you look like the last soldier standing. What did you do? Did you hurt her?"
Emmet just laughs. I have a feeling he hears a lot more than Bella would be comfortable with. Em never was much good at sleeping. He won't say anything though.
I try to put Jasper's mind at ease.
"Of course I didn't hurt her. You saw her happily kiss me goodbye not fifteen minutes ago. Did that look like a kiss from a woman who's been hurt?"
"Well, no. That looked like a kiss from a woman well satisfied. But why are you covered in bites and scratches? What the hell do you two get up to?"
Riley scoffs from the back of the wagon. His jealousy is beginning to inflame my nerves.
"If you must know, Bella's a little wild." I smile broadly at Jasper's shock and Em's knowing expression. "In the morning I wake her up and she's soft and sweet and loving as a puppy; but at night sometimes – I don't know what to tell you. I don't want to tell you anything. We're happy. I couldn't have asked for more in a woman if I'd sat down, made her up in my imagination and asked the faeries for her."
"Aw, brother! That is sweet. You are a gentleman, did you know that?" Emmet slaps me on the back before returning his focus to the road, a look of pride on his face.
I suppose he has no idea how unwarranted that sentiment is. We fall into silence, and I relive the scene in our bedroom last night in my head, covering my groin with my hat of necessity.
Riley and I arrive at the water hole at the same time, from different directions. We make light conversation as we strip off and splash around to rinse off the sweat of our evening labour. When he asks me about Bella, I find my body reacting like a seventeen-year-old's. It doesn't escape my attention that he gets hard too, which leads to some possessive posturing on my part, and consequent wrestling. By the time Riley gives in and I make it back to the house, it's quite dark.
I approach the bedroom from the veranda as I can see the lamps in there are lit. Often when I come upon Bella in the bedroom, she is so absorbed in what she is doing, I startle her. I love her angry reaction – her face flushes, her eyes flash, sometimes she throws whatever is in her hand at me. I know it's not very nice, but it is so tempting to provoke her.
My feet are bare and my shirt and trousers are unbuttoned. Water still drips from my head down my torso. I leave my clothing in disarray because I know that provokes a different reaction from my lusty wife - one we both enjoy. Clutching my boots and belt in my hand, I creep up to the French door and push it gently open.
The sight that meets my eyes is one I will never forget, not ever.
Bella has pulled her hair up into one of my hats, the formal one for Sundays and weddings and the like. Below that, she is wearing one of my shirts. Buttoned to the top, it never-the-less shows off her breasts, round as peaches, where the soft material clings to them. My Sunday waistcoat and jacket lie on the chair in front of her, and she is bent over, stepping carefully into my Sunday trousers and pulling them up her bare legs.
The trousers are very long, and ball up around her ankles like a clown's. She holds them up at the waist with one hand, and smooths them over her lovely pear-shaped rump with the other. My shirt is now pulled closely against her nipples, which stand erect like little fingers pointing at the dressing table mirror.
My boots slip out of my hand in my surprise, and fall with a clatter to the ground.
Bella lets out a shriek as she jumps. She drops her hold on the ridiculous outfit to clutch at her chest where her heart must be beating wildly. The trousers sink to the floor, exposing her legs again. I don't know what I must look like, but she turns away and tries to run from me, tripping over the cloth bunched at her feet and falling face first onto the rug.
I shout because I'm concerned she's hurt herself, but it only seems to frighten her more. She scrambles upright and heads towards the door, but she can't leave the room looking like that – what will my father think?
I run to catch her, and I'm faster and more nimble, so grasp her around the waist just before she makes it to the door. I pick her up and throw her over my shoulder, trying to ignore the blows she rains down on my back with her small fists. She tries to kick me too, and I deposit her quickly on the bed before she can damage me where it really hurts.
"Don't you hit me with that belt, Edward Cullen! I won't take it!"
She drags herself away from me, cowering into the corner next to the wall as she speaks. I wasn't even aware I was still carrying it in my hand. I throw it to the floor and hold my empty hands up, placating her.
"I'm not going to whip you, woman! What the hell do you think you are doing?" Well, I admit my tone is not placatory; but I'm shocked.
The shirt has ridden up her body, revealing the most seductive bare flesh. My hat must have fallen when she was upside down, and her hair's a mess, all soft tendrils around her beautiful face.
When she doesn't answer me, I lean forward and grasp her ankle, firmly pulling her in my direction. She fights me all the way, twisting and turning to escape my grip, but I am much bigger and stronger than she is.
When I finally have her pinned down in front of me, I pause. She is almost completely naked now, the material of my shirt bunched up above her breasts. Her chest heaves, but she stills otherwise. I follow her sharp gaze and find she is staring wide-eyed at my groin, where my cock is straining at the unbuttoned seam.
A wave of heat overcomes me. I push my trousers down and force Bella's legs as wide as they will go. She begins to fight me again, but this time she seems to be fighting to reach for me rather than pushing me away. I lean over her and hold her body down with mine, pushing my cock into her wet entrance in one deep thrust. She cries out and tangles her hands in my damp hair, pulling me closer as she presses her little hips up into mine.
I fuck her so hard the bed groans against the wooden floor in a lewd rhythm.
"What - the hell - were you doing – in my clothes – Isabella - Marie - Cullen?"
She ignores my staccato question, responding only with her own little mantra, "More! Yes! More! Yes!" until she screams out her release, her hands tearing at the flesh on my back under my loose clothing.
I am not finished with her yet, though. I shift in position until we are both upright and she rests her head on my shoulder, pressing her breasts hard against my chest. I grip her behind with one hand and push the other between our bodies to rub fiercely at her button. She is soaking wet. I thrust upwards as hard as I can, as though I can teach her a lesson that way. Lord knows what the lesson is, because she bites me so hard I can feel the pain resonate throughout my body. I can hold out no longer, and growl as I shoot my release deep inside of her.
I collapse backwards onto the mattress, keeping Bella pulled tight against me. She is still making little keening noises. I stroke her neck and back, trying to sooth her. She turns her head into my chest and kisses me above my heart.
"Are you alright? Did I hurt you?" I don't think I did, but I'm relieved when she shakes her head.
"Did I hurt you?" Her voice shakes slightly.
"Yes, you did. Little minx." I slap her behind, but only gently.
"Are you going to tell me what that was all about?" I ask.
She buries her face even further into my chest.
"Bella?" My voice holds a warning tone.
"I just wanted to know what it felt like to be a man." She says this so quickly and quietly, I don't think she wants me to hear.
"You wanted to know what it felt like to wear trousers?"
"Not just that. I wanted to know – well, I just wanted to dress up in your clothes. I didn't expect you back so soon."
I have to laugh. "No, you were certainly surprised when you saw me in the doorway."
"You frightened me. You were holding up your belt, I thought you were going to give me a hiding with it."
"Have I ever given cause to make you believe I would do that, Isabella?" I can't help it, her fear of me makes me angry, which probably makes her fear me more. "I've been beaten enough times to know that's no way to treat a woman, especially one I love."
She squeezes me with her whole body.
"Do you love me, Edward?"
"Of course I do. And I'll tell you something else."
She shifts against me and looks up into my eyes. "What else?"
"You can try my clothes on as often as you desire, but only if you let me watch."
She snorts with laughter. Silly girl. So sexy, wearing my shirt.
By the time I emerge from my reverie, we are close to the mine. I stiffen at the sight of what appears to be a whole regiment of soldiers casually patrolling the claims, as does Jasper beside me.
"You had better take the wagon away with you, Emmet. Just drop Edward and I off and stock up on supplies. We'll meet you at the tavern later," he says, concern laced through his tone.
Dumisa and a few of the other men we employ drop their tools and make their way over to us as we jump down and wave Emmet off. They look angry.
Normally, we are greeted at the claims with an embrace, and handshakes, and good cheer. Jasper and I are popular amongst the workers who come down from the hills to do the back breaking work that the white mine owners rarely tackle themselves – once they've found a diamond or two, that is. Until that point they tend to slave away as hard as the employees they aspire to hiring.
The workers don't do it for money, they do it for weapons. The Cullens, with our Irish roots, respect a man's need to protect his land and family, so we have no difficulty with our consciences when it comes to supplying them. Felix and Carlisle worked out a nice little deal. We import rifles directly from London and exchange them for labour. Dumisa has been with us for some time now, but the rest of the men come and go.
Of course, the government is not happy with our arrangement. It doesn't help matters that the diamond claims are being bought up by a couple of competing families. Jasper and I debated joining the race to expand, but neither of us is comfortable being in this game for very long. We have other plans, and the time could be coming to make good on them sooner rather than later.
"What are the soldiers doing here, my friend?" I ask in a low voice, as the whole area is unusually quiet.
"A few boys were accused of stealing. They brought the soldiers in and arrested them, and they haven't left. They are watching us. If they do not leave, we will. Do you have them?"
He is referring to the rifles. We both nod, signaling our understanding of the situation as well as our response to his question.
"Not here. Later. Let's continue working the claims, act as normal; we'll find a way to get them to you, and get you safely out of here."
He clicks his tongue and the workers drift back to their tools. Jasper agrees to find the senior officer and strike up a conversation. He's better at that kind of thing than I am.
I'd rather get my hands dirty than my tongue.
The small town has an unsettled feeling to it. As I pull the wagon up next to the cooperative I spy army officers parading around with a gaggle of excited mine owners. They are all too busy puffing up their own chests to pay us any heed. Riley rolls his eyes at them and we head into the store to stock up on ironmongery and timber.
We take our sweet time, stopping for tea and koeksusters, pastries so sticky with syrup they make my teeth ache. We load the wagon slowly, pretending to be lethargic in the heat. When we run out of work, Riley amuses himself with unique ways to kill the flies that irritate him, while I fuss over the livestock.
The self-important gentlemen emerge from the little church on the other side of the street, now accompanied by a small group of women in pretty dresses. They make the invasion of soldiers in our usually peaceful community look like a Sunday picnic, with their parasols and ribbons. I recognise the mother and wife of one of the mine families, but the other two are strange to me. From my vantage point across the street, it seems the young ladies receive more attention from me than from the foolish men at their sides.
One of the officers feels my stare and looks my way. He's an ugly bastard with piggy eyes, a weak chin and a nose it would be hard to break, it's so small. From this distance there's a cruel look about him. I imagine him rising through the army ranks by violent means, and take an instant dislike to him, based on nothing but my own ignorance.
Drawn by the challenge in my stance, the officer begins to cross the street, the rest of the group trailing after him like sheep. Riley spits in the dirt before coming to stand by my side, our arms folded across our chests, our broad shoulders almost touching.
When the group draws close we follow the rituals of politeness, tipping hats at the ladies, nodding curtly at the men. Names are exchanged. Captain Royce King is the only name I'm particularly in need of. Up close, he's uglier and more despicable looking than I thought him before.
The pretty girl is his fiancée. What she's doing following him around the country before he's put an actual ring upon her hand, I'll never know. The young are getting younger, as Pa always says, and have less sense to show for themselves than rabbits. Miss Hale doesn't look a day over the age of fifteen. The woman with her is introduced as her companion. Mrs Esme Platt has the wary appearance of a widow – old before her time, anxious, tired. A second glance proves her rather attractive underneath the emotion.
We quickly run out of polite conversation. Captain King feels no compunction against breaking the uneasy silence with an obnoxious request.
"Mind if I take a look in your wagon?"
Riley stiffens beside me, but keeps quiet.
"Do you have a reason for looking in my wagon, Captain?" I ask, calm as the still blue sky.
The men in the group sense an altercation brewing, and square up around their gang leader, pushing the women back a little way from us.
"I believe I do, Mr Cullen," King sneers at me.
I reply in a much softer tone, but no less confident. "Then by all means, be my guest Sir." I gesture towards the back of the wagon, throwing Riley a quick, reassuring wink.
One look in the back and the lily-livered Captain is defeated by the quantity of supplies he'll have to shift to find anything. He turns to look at his corporal, then changes his mind.
"You'll need to unload it Mr Cullen."
What a surprise. "You want us to unload our wagon? The whole thing – all the supplies we just purchased?"
He nods, grinning sinisterly at me. What a baboon.
"Oh, why not," I sigh. "Nothing better to do, is there Riley?"
Riley does not look as sanguine, but he keeps his mouth shut. We unfasten the back and begin slowly unloading the contents. The small crowd soon grow thirsty in their boredom, and head inside for tea.
Riley and I begin to discuss each item we remove, slowing the proceedings down substantially.
"Are you certain these nails are long enough, Em? You don't think we ought to swap 'em for the other kind?" Riley's tongue is firm in his cheek.
"You're the expert, son. Why don't you try one out? See how far it goes."
"That's a fine idea, Em. Where's that mallet?"
We horse around so long, the group inside the store must have drunk all the tea and got their teeth stuck together on the syrup. They wander off to the tavern, leaving a weary corporal and a suspicious captain to their fate.
Finally we pull out the last crate and set it gingerly on the dusty street.
"Open it," orders King.
"No Sir. That crate does not belong to me," I say.
"Well who does it belong to?" Sarcasm floods his tone.
"It's a box sent up for my sister-in-law. Mrs Isabella Cullen."
"Then why are you scared to open it?"
I smile at Riley, who winks back at me.
"You have not met my sister, Captain King. When you have, you can ask me that question again."
"Are you scared of a woman, Mr Cullen?" His voice is so full of contempt for me he might choke on it.
"All sensible men are scared of a strong woman, King. Your little fiancée might not say boo to a goose right now, but give her a year or two..."
"Rubbish. What's really in that box? I want to see."
"If you want to look at a girl's private underclothes, there's plenty at the tavern who'll show you for a penny," says Riley, a little shudder of disgust running through him at the idea.
"Poppycock. Open the fucking crate if you don't want me to shoot it open myself."
He pulls out his pistol, aiming at the crate but with the clear intention of showing us who's boss.
"Alright, alright, put your dick away." I pry the nailed-shut lid off of the crate. I truly have no idea what is in here. Whatever it is has been wrapped tightly in strong cloth.
I make a face at Riley and he snorts with laughter.
"No Sir, I will not. If you want to put your grubby hands on my sister's delicates, be my guest. I will be sure to tell her where the smudges came from." I gesture invitingly at the crate.
The soldier narrows his tiny eyes, and drops to his knee in front of the crate, fairly ripping at the cloth to reveal a layer of cream lace. The back of his neck gets considerably more red. Rather than digging around, he presses down on the material. Apparently finding nothing suspicious, he stands up again and brushes the dust off his trousers.
"Alright, you can load back up again Cullen. Don't let me catch you..." King trails off, embarrassed at having spent so long harassing innocent men, I'll wager.
"Catch me what, Captain?"
"Just watch yourselves. I don't trust you further than I can throw you."
"Well now, that feeling is mutual. Enjoy the rest of your day, Captain King."
The soldiers walk smartly off as Riley spits in the dust again. The sun has sunk on the horizon, so we must be about in the clear. We can re-load smartly and find the boys. Edward's been managing the mine while Jasper's been handing out the rifles at the back of the store.
"Rosalie, Darling, I really think we ought to go back to the house. These men are in no fit state to entertain us. This tavern is no place for a young lady at the best of times."
Esme looks as frightened as I feel, which makes my heart sink to the bottom of my boots.
"I know, Esme, but he won't let me go. He told me no, I can't ask him again."
She sighs dramatically. "He's not your husband yet my dear. Look, wait until he's distracted and we'll slip out together. If he notices, tell him you need a powder room. We will walk back to the house together."
"But Esme, it's dark! What if there are lions about, or kidnappers?"
"Darling heart, there is more danger in this room than in the wildest part of Africa. When we make it back to Grahamstown in one piece, I will give your father such a talking to he will wish I was a lion he was facing. I cannot fathom how he persuaded you this was a good idea, or myself for that matter. What was the man thinking, sending you off with that brute?"
When Esme begins talking to herself, there is no stopping her. She doesn't know why I am here, but I do. Daddy committed a crime, and rather than be punished, he gave me away to the soldier who caught him red handed. Royce tells everyone I am his fiancée, but I don't believe he intends to marry me. Sometimes he looks at me as though he hates me. I think he wants to keep Esme away from me so that he can kill me, but she won't leave my side. I know there was some kind of disgrace when her husband died, and she was grateful to be away from it – she took up the role of companion to me with alacrity – but we have come to love and depend on one another. Without Esme, I would truly have no hope.
Royce stands up suddenly, knocking into the table and almost toppling the drinks loaded on it. He's seen something on the other side of the tavern – or someone – and begins to weave his way around the crowd, away from us.
"Now," says Esme, gripping my hand tightly and easing herself quietly from her seat.
I stand too, and we back away to the rear entrance. No one takes the blindest bit of notice, and we are out of the door in the fresh night air before anyone can stop us. The relief of being free makes us giggle.
"We did it! Now, which way? The main street is this way, so we'll walk along behind the buildings until we find a safe path through."
Even though it's dark, the moon and stars are so bright we find our way quite easily. Giddy with relief, we talk and laugh as though we are not in danger of losing our lives. As soon as I hear a footfall behind me, I know. In all the gothic novels I ever read, the heroine falls as soon as she drops her guard. I know my laughter is at an end, and I will not live to see the night through. It's as though I've known it forever.
Royce captures me by the scruff of my neck. His filthy nails dig into my bare skin and bring me to a sudden halt. I can't move my head to see, but I can sense that Esme is held tightly in the grip of one of the soldiers that worship the ground their captain walks on. She doesn't make a sound, and neither do I.
"Where do you think you're going, my girl? I told you to stay put. Did you deliberately humiliate me by disobeying a direct order, hmm?" His breath is hot against my ear, and reeks of alcohol. "You are going to get such a thrashing."
He spins me around to face him, roughly taking hold of my upper arms and squeezing them so hard I know they'll bruise, if they get the chance to.
I don't drop my eyes from his face. If he's going to hurt me, let him see the person he'll damage. His eyes burn with excitement. He can't keep the joy he feels at my expense from turning the corners of his mouth up into an eerie smile.
There are three men behind him, all army, none of the townsfolk have followed him out. A fourth man holds Esme tightly against his body. She is not struggling, but his hold remains very hard.
Royce deliberately lifts his arm high above my face so I can see the slap coming. Esme screams as his hand descends but the sound cuts off when the white blinding pain sears one side of my face and head. I stumble, but the hand that still grips my arm holds me steady.
I am shocked. No one has ever hit me before – I had no idea what pain was until this minute. My ears ring with it.
Royce looks so pleased. He reaches down into his boot and draws out a knife. I am frozen with horror. I can hear Esme struggling, her protests are muffled against a thick hand but loud nevertheless. I don't make a sound; I don't even close my eyes as the blade reaches my neck.
He doesn't pierce my flesh, but draws the knife down against my frock, ripping the material away and exposing my thin slip. I can hear the men cheering him on, but they sound strange, as though we are under water.
My hands come up to hide my shame of their own volition, but it is not allowed. Royce gestures to another man, Marcus I think his name is, who moves forward and pins my arms behind my back. My leg moves itself to kick him, but he easily evades, laughing when I stumble again.
Before I know it all the meagre protection is ripped away from my skin. I can feel their disgusting, dirty eyes on my bare flesh. I think I will die of shame, there is no greater pain these men can inflict upon me. I do not take my eyes off of Royce King, king of swine and filth and vileness. He does not take his eyes off of me, bare and vulnerable and weak. So both of us are surprised by the scuffle that breaks out around us.
"Rosalie, Rosalie, Rosalie, my darling, darling girl, Rosalie my sweet..."
Esme and I are in each other's arms in the dirt. She is crying and calling out my name, and I have no idea how I got here.
I look over her shoulder where I see a bear of a man kicking Royce's prone torso viciously. Two of the soldiers are either unconscious or dead, including Marcus; and two of them kneel at the feet of three tall, strong men who could be angels for all I know.
I stroke Esme's hair and watch as two of the angels force the bear-man to stop. Royce is still alive, because he moves his head and groans pitifully. One of the unconscious men begins to sit up, perhaps he was just pretending to be out cold. The angels and the bear make him get up along with the two kneeling bastards. They are forced to lift Royce and Marcus, and take them away. We watch as they slowly disappear from sight. Esme is still crying on my breast.
The bear removes his shirt from his broad, broad shoulders before stooping down to pick up his hat. He comes to squat down in front of me. His eyes are very kind.
"Miss? I'm going to take you somewhere safe. Do you trust me? I won't hurt you."
I nod. I have no words – I am not sure whether I will ever speak again – but I know in my heart I was meant to die here in this place tonight. If this bear has saved me, he'll have to keep me. Isn't that how it works?
He gently pulls Esme away from me and hands me his shirt. When I look confused, he delicately lifts my hand, pushing it through a bunched sleeve. He does the same to the other hand, dressing me like a small child. He buttons me up all the way down, covering the scraps of material that still cling to my body.
"I'm going to lift you now. Hold on tight, little miss."
He draws me up into his arms as though I weigh nothing more than the shirt that protects me. As I gaze up into his beautiful face it occurs to me that I am incredibly lucky.
"I am going to live, aren't I?" I ask aloud, able to find my voice after all.
My bear's eyes twinkle. "Yes, Miss. In fact, if I have anything to do with it, you will live a long and happy life. Is that enough for you?"
I nod seriously. "Yes Sir. I do believe it is."
Today is a day to stand against domestic and gender-related violence. It is also a day to stand for domestic safety, which everyone of us has a right to. If someone is hurting you, it's not your fault. You deserve to be safe in your home. If you know someone is being hurt, it's okay to intervene – there is always a way, but stay safe.
Love you, G&G