I won't bore you with introductions; you know plenty about me already. So just know that when I reached the cottage I wasn't at all sure what I was going to do. I just knew I couldn't let Jake hurt me – or anyone else – ever again.
As I ran towards it I turned over in my mind the options available to me. By the time I got there I knew which path I'd take, but I want you to know that I wasn't fully resolved until then. I didn't leave the house knowing what I was going to do. I knew what I wanted to do, but whether or not I could go through with it was a decision I didn't make until I'd given it some thought.
My Edward had given me a strong, virtually unbreakable body and my mind had always been tough enough to face most situations. So I knew, going into the cottage, that there was nothing Jake could do or say to me that was going to hurt more than the truth in that box already had.
How could he do that? How could someone profess to love another and plot and plan to do that to them? Even knowing my predilections for the rougher side of physical relationships there was nothing in that box – or in his basement either – that had anything to do with a relationship. And certainly nothing to do with the love he should've felt for me as his sister.
Wasn't it a brother's job to protect sisters? Edward did. Jasper did. Emmett did. I'd seen them do it and I'd heard them do it. They shielded the girls from things that could hurt them and they did it because they were a family.
I'd known Jake had a 'thing' for me since we were teenagers but I hoped that he'd find someone for himself and we could just be happy as brother and sister. And why couldn't I have that? Just like the Cullen's. Why was it impossible for Jake to see me as his sister? Our situation wasn't all that different to the Cullen's. They weren't related by blood either and yet they had perfectly normal brother/sister relationships. They had a healthy respect for one another and they treated each other's beliefs and opinions respectfully too.
Sure, I knew that Edward's attempts to get them to understand him hadn't exactly gone according to plan, and it had taken a long time for them to respect his choices, but since I'd been with them they'd supported and encouraged him. They'd come together as a group and had put aside all their differences, and their inability to understand, and had protected not only him but me too.
Why couldn't Jake do that for me? Instead of turning what I wanted into something sick he felt the need to protect me from it. Why couldn't he just accept who and what I was and support that? Why build a business, and spend your adult years running it, specifically to keep me lonely and unhappy? Who does that?
Edward had apologised to me for taking my humanity the day I woke up. But he was wrong. He didn't take anything from me at all. He gave me something. He gave me two brothers and two sisters, a pair of loving parents and over and above that he gave me the means to protect myself from Jake.
I knew I had a loving father of my own, and Charlie was loving in his own way, but the warmth and acceptance I'd found inside the Cullen family was what I'd been craving my whole life. I just hadn't realised it until I'd woken as one of them.
Charlie didn't like what I was, but he knew who I was. There was a distinction. He did understand me but he didn't like what I did in private. But he didn't let that cloud his opinion of who I was. I was his daughter and he loved me, just as Jakes mother had loved me before she died. So if it was possible I wanted to keep Charlie in my life. Edward had explained as much as he could about what I was now but he also told me it was my choice whether or not I just disappeared or whether I tried to include my dad in my new life.
I knew I wasn't ready to see him, but I had toyed with the idea of calling Charlie. I could do that. I could tell him that I'd been sent on a story and I'd be away for a few weeks. And then, after a few weeks, I could tell him that job had turned into another and I'd be away for a bit longer. I hoped that if I stayed in regular phone contact with him that he'd buy that and then, when I had my thirst under control, I could try and see him.
I wanted him to meet Edward, and the Cullen's, and I wanted him to see that I'd finally found the one. And Edward was the one. I'd known it in the club in Maine and I knew it when he was stood on my front porch with his sister seven days ago.
Edward thought he loved me because I was his singer but that wasn't completely true. He'd seen in me what he needed and I had wanted to be the one to give it to him. It really was that simple. I might have picked him up in that club but it wasn't quite as random as he believed it to be. I'd seen him before. I'd watched him pick up other women and it had hurt me. I didn't know him, or anything about him, but when I watched him charm those girls it hurt me. He was lost and I could see it in him. He might not have known what he was looking for, but I knew what I was looking for. I wanted to care for someone. I wanted to care for someone who could allow me to dominate them first, and then allow me the extreme privilege of caring for them afterwards. I sensed that he hadn't ever done what I needed him to do. He'd never allowed anyone to stand over him and he'd never given over control of his own pleasure to anyone else before either. But once he had I knew that he'd enjoyed it.
It took me the whole two weeks of my visit to Maine to get the courage up to approach him and it had changed my life.
He's told me it changed his too, but it wasn't random.
The fifty-six minutes we'd spent together in 6C had been the most wonderful of my young life. I saw how hard it was for him to leave me there that night. I watched him struggle with his conscience as he left the apartment. And I'll always regret letting him leave.
I'd been so certain that it would be easy to find him again because I'd given Jake his vehicle registration.
I'd been so certain that letting Edward leave and giving him a day or two to think about what we'd done would only help in the long run. He'd think about things, decide what he wanted and we could try to build something amazing. I'd even been willing to relocate to Maine if he wanted to try.
I'd been so sure that Jake would want to see me happy and that he'd help me find him.
I'd put my faith in the brother sister bond and I had believed, for all these years, that he had thrown away that piece of paper with the registration number on it.
I'd been a fool.
I hadn't seen what was right in front of my face. Jake was sick. He was obsessed with me and he'd plotted and planned to not only deny me happiness with Edward but also to deny me my freedom.
I may have forgiven the recording devices and being followed and watched. I might have been angry to learn about Jakes deception and I might have understood in time that he'd used his business to keep me alone. But I couldn't, and wouldn't, forgive the contents of that box.
He'd gone so far above simply invading my privacy. He'd defiled pictures of me and clothing I'd owned. He'd stolen personal items and had used them for his own sexual gratification and they were things I couldn't tolerate.
Leaving aside the dungeon he'd built, the contents of the box was enough to make me want to hurt him.
As a human I might have slapped him, or tried to punch him even though he was much bigger than me. I would've yelled and screamed and maybe gone to my dad and asked him to make sure Jake couldn't come near me ever again.
Even as a vampire, if I left aside the dungeon he'd built, I might have been able to rough him up a little and threaten him enough that he'd stay away from me of his own volition.
Edward had warned me that being near a human this close to my change was a risk. A big one. I hadn't smelled human blood yet and I trusted Edward enough to know that he was serious when he said it would be easy for me to 'slip'.
So had I only known about the box, even as a new vampire, I might have been able to have my say and then let him go.
But I did know about the dungeon. I did know about the hooks and chains and the trapdoor under his hinged bed. I knew all about the walls of pictures of both Edward and I and I knew all about the collar.
That fucking collar.
The collar had tipped the scales for me.
I might have taken a pet – Edward was so much more than that to me – but I had never been collared and Jake knew that I didn't want to be. I couldn't handle it, the thought of it had made me queasy as a human and it didn't do nice things to my stomach now I was a vampire either. It wasn't for me.
To know that Jake planned to collar me was the final straw. That he'd etched my name onto the leather made me hate him. For the first time I hated my own brother. And he'd forced me into it. He'd done everything he could to make me hate him and I wanted to punish him for it.
So I knew what I had to do. I had to clean up my mess so that Edward and I could have a fresh start. I had to untangle myself from Jake and all that was wrong about him. I had to bring myself to this new life with as little baggage as I could. I wanted to be right for Edward. I wanted to be worthy of what he'd already given me and I wanted to earn my place in the Cullen family. I wanted a life with Edward and I wanted to have that without interference from my brother.
I wanted my father to meet Edward, and the other Cullen's and I wanted him to know what a wonderful family I'd found to be a part of. I wanted to include Charlie in my happiness and give him a sense of family again now that he was alone himself.
But none of that could happen until I'd cleaned up my mess.
I won't ask your indulgence, Edward's dear readers, and I won't ask you to try and understand or forgive me for what I did in the cottage. It should matter to me what you think of me once you learn the details, but it doesn't. I did what I did for me. If you choose to hate me, or think that I've represented myself to Edward as something that I'm not because of the callousness of my actions, then so be it.
I did what I did for myself alone. Had Edward wanted to do it for himself, or for me, I'd have allowed that too, but I am glad, to this day, that it was me that cleaned up the mess. It was my first, and so far it has been my last.
Jakes human scent hit me hard as I flew down the path to the cottage. It actually made me stumble, which hadn't happened to me before. But it hit me in the throat on the wind and it knocked me for six. It was putrid because I knew it was Jakes scent, but it was delicious too because it was human.
I understood what Edward had tried to tell me then. It wasn't that I was thirsty, because I hadn't been before approaching the cottage; it was just the sheer attraction of the scent itself. I'd describe it to you as if you were an alcoholic and you've stayed off the stuff for three months. You've had a healthy dinner and a good strong coffee, you're not bored or depressed and then someone offers you a scotch. It doesn't matter that you aren't thirsty. It doesn't matter that you've sworn off it. You want it. You just want it because it smells so good and because you know it'll taste good too.
That was what Jake's blood smelled like to me. I hadn't ever tasted human blood and I didn't want to, but my brain and my body wanted it.
Edward would come. I didn't doubt that for a second. But he was downwind from me if he came from the house, and I knew he would, so his scent wouldn't hit me until he actually arrived. Until then it was just me, Jake and the forest.
I slowed to a jog when the place came into sight. It was tiny and hidden by a covering of branches and leaves borne from years of isolation and a lack of maintenance.
There was no sound from where I stood, at a distance of about thirty feet, and I panicked a little at the thought of Jake having perished before I had a chance to send him on his way myself.
So I moved a little closer and stood stock still outside the door and tried to do what Edward had taught me the day I'd awoken. I tried to isolate the sounds around me. I picked out and discarded the forest sounds. Deer, birds and insects all had specific sounds so I set those sounds aside. The traffic noise was minimal this deep in the woods so the tiny rumble way off in the distance I ignored too. I couldn't smell anything other than Jake and normal forest scents so I knew the rest of the family weren't near either.
The only sound after all else had been accounted for was the shallow sound of breathing and the erratic heartbeat of a monster. He was still alive, though quite possibly barely, and I remember feeling elated about that.
I hadn't tested my strength on anything other than deer since I'd woken a vampire. I'd run as fast as I could, I'd hunted and had slaked my thirst, but I'd never pitted myself against anything or anyone else. So it was a bit of a surprise when I put my shoulder to the front door of the cottage that it splintered as though it were made of paper.
Jake screamed as I burst into the place and I remember liking that too. I wanted him afraid. I wanted him afraid of me.
My venom was a lake in my mouth by that point. I had to suck it back just to be able to speak without drowning the pathetic lump who sat bound to a kitchen chair in the middle of a totally empty house.
His scent wasn't the only thing that stank either. He'd sat in his own excrement for days, probably since the day we'd fought in my kitchen. His cheeks were hollow and his eyes were dull and flat. He sat slumped; his chin to his chest, and it was an effort to raise his head to see me even though he'd managed to find the energy to scream.
"Oh Jesus, thank Christ it's you Bella," he mumbled. "Get me the hell out of here," he begged.
He thought I was there to rescue him? I just smiled at him. "Oh, how sweet. You want my help," I laughed. I circled the chair twice then got down on my knees in front of him so he could see my face. "I begged you for help for four years Jake. I begged you to help me find Edward and you said you'd tried everything you could and I believed you," I hissed.
He raised his head and I saw the rage in his eyes. There was fight left in him yet. "This again?" he sneered. "I told you he was a liar and not right for you and you're still pissed at me for keeping you apart?"
I got up off my knees and laughed at him then. Really laughed. I threw my head back and just let rip. It was comical. His faith in his own ability to persuade me was funny.
"I think I might have gone a little ways passed pissed, Jake," I whispered as I approached him again. I put a finger under his chin and made him look up at me. "Take a look at me Jake, a really good look. See anything different?" I asked casually.
I knew when he spotted my bright red irises because his eyes widened and his heart rate doubled. "What the fuck did they do to you?" he asked shakily.
"Oh, how nice, brotherly concern," I chuckled. "They didn't do anything to me, Edward did. He made me strong enough to do what I need to do."
He stared at me a little longer and his voice cracked when he spoke, "What do you need to do?"
I didn't bother answering, he'd work it out for himself soon enough and I was out of time. I could hear Edward's footfalls as he jogged – quite slowly which made me think he wasn't wholly opposed to what I was going to do – down the path towards us.
I slit the cords at Jakes wrists and then those that were holding his ankles to the chair. He let out a sigh of relief as he flexed his arms and put his shaking legs out in front of himself to get the circulation moving.
It heightened his scent, as he moved, and I swallowed another gob of venom down as I watched him. It took him three tries to stand, but he did eventually. He was unsteady and reached for me to lean against but I didn't want him touching me so I stepped aside and let him flounder. He righted himself then stood staring at me intently.
He was in no condition to fight me off should I choose to attack him, or to protect himself from me, and I found that I couldn't quite bring myself to care. I remember wondering if it was unfair that I wasn't human anymore and I found that I didn't really care about that either. He was a bastard and I was a vampire. We both came to the table with flaws.
Without balance and strength there was nothing he could try but words. He made a valiant effort to coerce me but by that stage I was immune to his brand of bullshit.
Once he was a little steadier he rose to his full height he towered over me. But I wasn't afraid anymore. He couldn't hurt me, even at full strength there was nothing he could do to me that would hurt. But he didn't know that, so he reverted to type.
"I kept you away from him because he's evil, Bella," he said condescendingly. "You're a woman living on your own and you think you love him, but he's evil. He's kept me here all this time and he'll hurt you too one day. I was just trying to protect my little sister from that."
I could smell Edward now. He was just outside the cottage. He hadn't barged in and begged me to show compassion so I ignored his presence as best I could.
"Edward isn't evil, Jake. And he'll never hurt me. Nobody will ever hurt me again," I told him vaguely. He couldn't know what I meant and he wasn't going to live long enough to make sense of it, so I said it for Edward's sake, not Jakes. "And I do love him. I don't think I do, I know I do. Because he's accepted me for who I am and because we make each other happy. He's everything I've ever wanted and you would've seen that in him if you truly knew me." I began to circle him again then. I wasn't going to show any weaknesses because I didn't have any anymore. He followed me with his eyes as I did it and he must have noticed how fluidly I moved now because his heart rate rose again. "But you are right about one thing, Jake. He did keep you here. He kept you here for me. So that I could be the one to decide what to do about you. He made sure you'd be here when I woke because he knows me so well. He knew I'd want to finish this for myself. He knows the rules about being a dominant and he knows that what I start I need to finish."
Despite the fact that he'd been held prisoner for a week, was covered in his own piss and shit and he hadn't had the use of his extremities for the whole time he did his best to intimidate me. I could smell the fear pouring off him, but he tried all the same.
"You can try, Bella, but you're no match for me," he sneered. "I'll have you incapacitated in seconds and then I'll take you home and teach you some manners."
I had to laugh at that. He couldn't know anyone had found his dungeon set up but it was funny to think that he believed he could just take me there. Even as a human I'd have fought like a stuck pig but as a vampire he just had no hope of ever achieving that.
"Manners?" I chuckled. "You want to each me some manners? Wow. I thought you hated the lifestyle Jake? You've told me for years how sordid it is, how disgusting you find all that. But now you want to teach me some manners like a submissive? Sorry Jake, I don't do submissive."
"Fucking whore," he mumbled under his breath but I heard it. This new hearing might be weird but it was fucking handy. "I'm leaving Bella. I'm going to walk right out that door and you're coming with me whether you want to or not," he sneered.
"I don't think so Jake," I told him casually. "I've promised my mate I'd clean up my mess and that's what I'm going to do, so I won't be going anywhere with you and you won't be leaving."
If Edward was going to stop me he had his chance to do it. But he didn't. He stood in what was left of the doorway and he watched me stalk my brother. Jake was utterly terrified and I found I liked that. I wanted him scared, I wanted him to know who was going to kill him and I wanted him to know why.
So as I closed the distance between us I told him why. I held him up by his throat, his feet dangling and kicking, and I told him why I was killing him.
He couldn't speak because I was squeezing his windpipe and he coughed and choked when I let him go. I gave him just enough time to take in some oxygen and then I grabbed him again. I threw him up against a wall and I told him exactly what I'd learned about him. I tossed him against the opposite wall and when he'd recovered enough from that fall I threw him against another. And all the while I told him why.
When he lay crumpled at my feet, bleeding from his nose and his mouth, I told him that I was a vampire and that even I couldn't tolerate the scent of his evil blood.
He lay gasping up at me, shocked and beaten, appalled and terrified and as I reached for him for the last time he begged me to let him live.
So I gave in.
I let him live.
I spared his evil, wasted life.
For another four seconds.
And then I tore his body in two and threw the pieces to the floor.
"And now, Jake, you really are half the man I thought you were before," I spat and walked calmly towards the front door.
I was covered in blood and had pieces of my dead human brother under my fingernails but Edward still reached for me the instant I was close enough to him.
I kissed him hard on his mouth, just once, and then I took his hand and led him home.
My mess was cleaned up and I had a future with a mate to plan.
A/N: Well. She did it. Let the complaining begin ;)
Thank you for reading.