Jenny: Yay for our second story! Thanks for coming back on the crazy train with me, Deb. :D
Deb: LOL I'm not sure we ever get off that train. But I love that we have a new story! :)
Jenny: Hah! Me, too. :) I know they want to get right on with the story, so we'll try to keep this brief...but we hope you guys fall in love with Marshalward like you did Sarge. Deb & I did, right?
Deb: Oh hell yes... Marshalward... O.o Wait...what was I saying? Oh, right... This will be a little different than Sarge...maybe a bit harsher, but as usual (and if you're used to me) there will be language and adults doing adult things and action. :) We totally need to give a BIG thanks to our beta (mskathy) & prereaders (Cara, inkedupmom, GooberLou, & Jules Twifanwesomesox), as well as Bethany & Mimi for the gorgeous banner.
So let's see. Notes on the new story...
1: Like Coming Home, Jenny wrote Bella's POV, while Deb wrote Edward's.
2: Unlike Coming Home, there will be both POVs combined in each chapter.
3: We'll be posting once a week on Sundays. No, begging & whining won't mean we post faster. ;) But reviews may mean teasers on Facebook & Twitter! ;)
4: We don't know anything more than what we've read online about the Witness Security Program and how that and the U.S. Marshal's Service works. And all we know about the law & court procedures, we got from reading & watching TV. So if you think we got something wrong, feel free to tell us...but it won't change anything with the story. We did the best we could trying to make it ALL plausible.
5: Yes, the story starts out with Marie & Mary, but if you can't figure it out, that is Bella & Alice. You'll see why in a few chapters.
6: Because we only want to state this once: We don't own Edward (unfortunately!), Bella, or the other usual cast of characters, but we do own the plot, the story, and a few random people throughout.
"Oh, my God," Mary gasped, her hand over her heart as she laughed. "That guy was hot! How could you stand leaving him sitting there like you did?"
I laughed, looping my arm through hers. "You know me, sweetie. He was only interested in what I was looking for – a quick romp in the storeroom in the back of the bar and a wave goodbye."
My sister smiled, although it had dimmed somewhat from a moment before.
I hated disappointing Mary, hated to see her upset, but it was what it was. I'd had a fantastic thirty minutes with Jacob – "Call me Jake," he'd said with a sexy smirk – back at the bar. He was a friend of the owner, a guy named Sam, both of them obviously Native American. Jacob was sexy, in a blue-collar sort of way – muscles and callouses from real work, not just the gym, straight dark hair that fell around his shoulders, and dark eyes. He'd been behind the bar when we got there and flirted as he served our drinks. Sam had finally told him to take a break, and Jacob had jumped at the chance to get me out on the dance floor. When he'd asked me to dance, I'd taken him up on the offer immediately.
By the time he pulled me into the back room, I'd been ready for anything he could give me – starting with his dick, which I'd promptly dropped to my knees to take into my mouth. He'd finally pulled me up before he came then and there, only to take me right up against the door, pounding into me hard until I came, screaming his name. He'd followed right behind, grunting out his orgasm with a weird noise that would have made me giggle if I hadn't just had the shit fucked out of me.
I wasn't necessarily any happier than I had been, but for another night, I'd kept my mind off Mike and phrases like boring, staid, uptight, and my personal favorite: frigid.
Mary finally spoke, pulling me out of my thoughts. "Well, you look like you had fun," she chirped, trying to sound upbeat as we walked down the block to the nearest subway station.
I smiled and squeezed her arm gently, telling her without words that I loved her.
It was late Friday night, closer to eleven o'clock instead of ten, and instead of heading home, we were heading to my office. On our way to the bar a couple of hours earlier, I'd realized I didn't have my cell phone with me. So Mary had said she didn't mind going to my office first before going home.
Mary and I shared a two bedroom loft apartment in Manhattan, just a few blocks from Columbia University. It wasn't huge, but it was in a great neighborhood and an easy ride on the subway to both the accounting firm where I worked and Mary's dance studio. We'd had many discussions about whether or not it was time for one of us to move out and find our own place, but we were both currently single, we enjoyed living together and seeing each other all the time outside of work, and it saved us money splitting the rent, so for now, we were staying put.
A shove to my shoulder pulled me out of my thoughts again. "Sorry," I said, laughing.
"'S okay. But you have to wake up. Our stop's next."
I smiled, nodding that I'd heard her, and watched the walls of the subway tunnel pass by at fifty miles-per-hour.
When the subway slowed to a stop, the doors hissed open, and Mary and I were on our feet and out onto the platform within seconds. There was still a surprising number of people out and about at the late hour – then again, New York City never seemed to sleep, so I shouldn't really have been surprised.
"Want to stop for a coffee for me, tea for you after we get your phone?" Mary asked, matching me step for step as we climbed the stairs that would take us outside, pulling our jackets tighter around ourselves to ward off the chill from the spring air.
"Yeah, sure." I stepped around a small group of girls in their late teens before continuing. "That diner down the street from the office would be good."
She cheered playfully. "Good. I want a piece of their blueberry pie."
"Mmm, pie..." I moaned, thinking of the tart and sweet blueberries that Jack's Diner used in their pies.
We were still talking about the goodies we'd have after as we walked up to the small office building that housed the accounting firm of Denali and Associates. My boss, Eleazar Denali, had hired me right out of school. He wasn't a bad guy – he seemed rather boring most of the time – and I liked his wife Carmen, but their daughters, Tanya, Kate, and Irina, were all spoiled, pampered rich bitches. I avoided them at all costs when they came to visit "Daddy" at work.
As I let us in the back door to the building – it was closer to my office than the front door – I noticed a strange black SUV in the small parking lot. When I went to turn off the security alarm to the building, I noticed the light was already green, so I figured Eleazar was there late with a client.
"I think El is here," I whispered to Mary. "So let's stay quiet. I don't want to get roped into any work this weekend if I can avoid it."
She nodded, her eyes twinkling. Both of us knew how likely that possibility was if Eleazar caught me unaware... It had happened more than once over the last couple of years.
The sconces on the wall were on as we moved down the hall to my office, but the lights overhead were off. I saw a light through the crack under the door to Eleazar's office and nodded my head in that direction, holding my finger to my lips for Mary. She nodded again and waited quietly as I slid my key into my office door, opening it silently.
We had just stepped into the office when I heard raised voices coming from down the hall. I stopped, listening for a moment. I couldn't make out everything they were yelling, but I could clearly hear Eleazar's voice. Worried, I started to head out, but Mary grabbed my arm, shaking her head.
"No, wait," she whispered, pulling me farther into the dark office.
Just as I was about to shake her off, I heard two muted bangs in rapid succession. Having grown up with a policeman for a father, I recognized the sound right away.
There was a dull thud, like something heavy had fallen to the carpeted floor, and then another bang.
I could barely see Mary – the only light source at the moment was the moon shining through the window of my office and the lights coming in from the hall – but her eyes were wide with fright. Freaking out inside, I quickly but quietly closed my office door, holding the knob so it didn't click. Whoever had fired those shots would have seen my closed office door when they'd arrived, and if they exited the other office and saw it open, they would know we were there.
Once the door was closed, I grabbed Mary and we moved up to the window that looked out into the hall. Luckily, it was covered in blinds that were already closed. Each of us pulled two of the slats apart, just barely enough that we could see out.
Only a couple of minutes later, I heard the door down the hall open. Mary must have heard it, too, because she froze, squeezing my hand tightly in hers. We watched as two men passed in front of my window, neither glancing in our direction.
One was older, maybe in his early fifties, while the other was in his late thirties at most. The older man was tall with dark hair sprinkled with gray, and he was wearing a dark suit. The younger one was much bigger than the first, with dark, short-cropped hair and a big nose, and he was also wearing a suit.
I watched as the older man held up a gun; from the quick glance I got, it was a .45 of some kind, but whether it was a Colt, Glock, H&K, or something else, I couldn't tell.
"Get rid of this," the man ordered as he handed the gun to the muscle beside him – because that's what the younger man reminded me of.
"Yes, sir," Muscle-man said, taking the gun and sticking it into his inner jacket pocket.
I held my breath as they turned the corner and disappeared from my sight.
Finally, I looked over at Mary and saw that she had tears rolling down her cheeks. Gathering her into my arms, I held her tight. "Shh, Pix," I whispered, using the nickname I'd given her as a teenager – the shortened version of Pixie. It was something I hadn't called her in a while, and it pulled her out of wherever she was in her head. "We're okay. I'm right here."
It was only as I felt her hair dampen under my cheek that I realized I was crying, as well.
We were quiet for over ten minutes, neither of us moving. Finally, I knew we had to do something. What if Eleazar was still alive down the hall? What if the guys came back? I didn't want to be there if that happened.
"Come on," I said quietly. "We've got to go check on Eleazar."
Still looking frightened, Mary nodded, gripping my hand as I led her to my desk, where my phone was sitting right where I'd left it, and then over to the door, opening it as quietly as possible. I didn't bother shutting it behind us. If the guys from before came back, we were already caught, so them seeing my open door wouldn't make a bit of difference.
The heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach got even heavier the closer to Eleazar's office we got. I could smell the distinctive scent of a recently fired gun, and even though I knew it was probably my imagination, I could literally smell the blood. The air had a salty, rusty taste to it on the back of my tongue as I breathed in, nearly making me gag. And when we stepped into the doorway of my poor boss's office, I did gag, barely holding in the three drinks I'd had at the club.
Eleazar Denali was lying on his back in a pool of blood. The front of his white dress shirt was covered in blood from what looked like two gunshots, and there was a dark, bloody hole in the middle of his forehead. His eyes were wide and his mouth was open, like he'd seen death coming and tried to scream.
It was the scariest thing I'd ever laid eyes on.
Mary screamed, dropping my hand and backing up until her back hit the wall behind us.
I turned and pulled her into my arms, turning us so neither of us was facing the nightmare inside the large office. Using one hand, I dialed 9-1-1 before putting the phone to my ear and waiting for the operator to answer. If I'd been thinking clearly, I'd have called them after the men left...before checking on Eleazar...but they were gone and he was dead – whether I'd called then or now, it wouldn't have mattered.
Waiting for the police to arrive was nerve-wracking. The 9-1-1 dispatcher had instructed me to stay on the phone with her and to go back to my office with Mary in case the men came back. They had advised us not to touch anything else so we'd carefully moved back down the hall, touching only what we had to in order to get inside the office and sit down. The woman on the phone with me did the best she could to keep us calm, but Mary and I both had the shakes, and I felt like at any moment, I was going to throw up.
Finally, I heard the sirens outside, getting louder and louder until they cut off with a whine, leaving the window to the outside flashing in blue and red through the blinds.
"Th-They're here," I said into the phone. "I see the lights of the police cars."
"Good," she soothed. "Stay on the phone with me until they get to you, Marie. You ladies are doing fine. Just stay with me for another minute."
Mary gripped my hand as we heard movement outside my office, and then the dispatcher said, "Okay, Marie, the police are right outside the office door. Hang up the phone and then slowly open the door, okay? They have to follow protocol, so until they know you're unarmed, don't be scared or shocked that they'll have their weapons out. They won't hurt you. Okay?"
"Y-Yeah," I replied, my voice still shaky. "Th-Thanks."
Hanging up the phone, I slid it into my pocket and looked at Mary. "It'll be okay. Just do as she said and stay calm."
She nodded, so we stepped apart slightly and moved to the door.
"I-I'm going to open the door now," I said loud enough for anyone out in the hall to hear. "That's what the lady on the phone said to do."
"Come out slowly with your hands up," a voice called from the other side. "Do either of you have any weapons on you?"
"No," I answered quickly, shaking my head even though he couldn't see me yet.
Slowly, I turned the knob, and with my free hand over my head, I opened the door just enough that I could pull it open farther with my foot and then raised my other hand up to join the first. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a trembling Mary with her hands raised, too.
"New York City Police Department," one uniformed officer said as he and another officer – a shorter woman with a blond ponytail sticking out from under her cap – stepped up to us, leaving two other officers with their guns drawn. "Step out here and face the wall. My partner needs to frisk you, just to make sure we can clear you."
My face flaming, I moved across the hall and put my hands out, palm flat against the surface, and spread my legs slightly. I'd never had to do this before, but I'd read enough books and seen enough movies and TV to know the score.
After a quick but thorough pat-down by the female officer, the man who had spoken before nodded. The two officers with their guns still out turned and headed back to the outside doors. One split left to go to the front, while the other continued down the hall to the back door that Mary and I had come in through.
"My name's Officer Carter," the man said, his voice much softer now. "This is my partner, Officer Sanders. Would you like to go back into your office to wait for the detectives?"
Glancing at my sister and then down the hall to Eleazar's office, I swallowed hard, nodding. "Yes, please."
Once we were seated back in my office, with the two officers playing sentry at the door, Mary asked with a shaky voice, "H-He's d-dead, isn't he?"
Officer Carter nodded with a frown. "I'm afraid so."
"Oh, God..." Mary moaned softly, squeezing her eyes closed. "I knew he was. There was so much blood."
She suddenly retched, her hands over her mouth. I grabbed for my trashcan, holding it out in front of her just in time for her to lose the contents of her stomach until she had nothing left to give. When she sat back up, Officer Sanders held out the box of tissues she'd grabbed from my desk.
"Thanks," Mary muttered, taking it from her and pulling a few out to wipe her mouth.
Over the next few minutes, we watched as the hallway filled with more people. I saw men and women in black jackets with letters identifying them as the crime scene unit in yellow on the back. Then there were what I could only presume were the detectives – a few men and a woman in suits, rather than police uniforms.
There was a constant low murmur from down the hall, too quiet for me to make out any words, but my office was silent except for Mary's crying. My own tears had stopped. I felt too numb to cry, like I was hovering outside my body, watching everything from above. I knew it would hit me later, but for now, I just kept reminding myself to breathe.
A few minutes later, a voice broke into my thoughts, startling me.
"Marie and Mary Brandon?"
I looked up and saw a tall, slender woman with dark skin, dark hair, and warm, dark eyes standing in the doorway. She was wearing a black pantsuit with a white shirt, and her hair was pulled back into a bun low at the base of her neck. In her hands was a small notepad and pen.
Nodding, I tried to speak and found my throat was too dry. Swallowing a few times, I was finally able to squeak out, "I'm Marie. This is my sister, Mary."
The detective came into the room and gave us a small smile. "I'm Detective Angela Cheney. My husband, Detective Ben Cheney, will be along any minute. You can call me Angela if you'd like...to avoid confusion," she said softly.
Before she could say anything else, a man walked in, looking first at her and then at Mary and me. He was at least six inches shorter than she was, lighter-skinned, with straight, dark hair, obviously of Asian descent. I wouldn't have put him as the other Detective Cheney until he glanced at Angela, and I could just tell they were husband and wife.
"Get them up to speed on names, Ang?" he asked, smiling wryly.
She turned back to us and said, "Marie and Mary Brandon,"—pointing to each of us in turn—"this is Detective Cheney. Call him Ben."
"Hello," Mary and I echoed, and I had to stop myself from cringing when she squeezed my hand.
"If you don't mind, I'd like Angela to take one of you to an empty room in another part of the office so we can get your statements while it's all fresh on your minds," Detective Cheney – Ben – said, pulling out his own pen and notepad from his inside jacket pocket.
Mary and I nodded, and I said, "I can go with you if umm, Angela wants to stay in here with Mary."
They both nodded, and Ben stepped out into the hallway to wait for me.
Looking over at Mary, I could tell she was scared to death. I was just as frightened, but I swallowed back my nerves and tried to smile. "I'll be right back, okay?"
She nodded and released my hand, immediately clasping her other hand in her lap.
"Follow me," Detective Cheney said as I stepped out into the hall.
I was followed out of the office by the two officers that had stayed with us until the detectives arrived. I hadn't taken two steps when my office door closed gently behind us. Officer Carter positioned himself in front of the closed door, while Officer Sanders followed behind Detective Cheney and me.
Winding through hallways, the detective led me to an empty conference room on the other side of the building. He ushered me inside and then closed the door behind us, leaving Officer Sanders to guard the door.
"Have a seat, Ms. Brandon," the detective said gently. Once I was seated, he pulled up a chair and sat down beside me, angling his chair so he was facing me. "I'm going to ask you to go through everything that happened tonight, and if at any point you need to take a break, just let me know, okay?"
I nodded, swallowing back the bile that threatened to rise.
"Mary and I went to the club tonight – umm, Aria, on twenty-first – and on our way there, I realized I'd left my cell phone at the office, so we decided to stop by here and get it on our way home."
"Do you have keys to the building?" Detective Cheney interrupted to ask. "What about the alarm code?"
I nodded, picking at my fingernail, which I knew was a sure sign of my nerves. "I do have a key, yes, and I know the alarm code...but the alarm was off when we got here."
He wrote that down in his notepad and then said, "Okay, so you left the club and came here. What time did you arrive?"
After thinking a moment, I frowned. "I checked my watch after we left the bar, and it wasn't quite eleven. So maybe around ten forty-five or so? About fifteen minutes before I called the police."
Detective Cheney nodded. "That sounds about right. The call came in at five minutes after eleven. Okay, so what happened when you got here to the building?"
I explained that we'd come in the back door because it was closer to my office. "Oh, and there was a black SUV in the parking lot when we got here," I told him. I'd nearly forgotten about the strange vehicle.
He looked up sharply. "Did you see the license plate or anything that could help us identify it?" He was busy scribbling away as he spoke.
I shook my head with a frown. "No, sorry. We saw the side of it, not the back, and it was dark, so all I can tell you is that it was black – or maybe dark blue? – and I think it looked like one of those bigger Ford Explorers or Expedition or something like that. I remember looking back at Mary for a moment before I opened the door, and I think it was a Ford logo on the front."
Nodding, he continued writing for a moment before looking up again. "Okay, so you unlocked the door and then what?"
I told him that the alarm light had been green when I went to punch the code in. "I figured that combined with the strange SUV outside meant Eleazar was with a client."
"Does he do that often?" he asked quickly. "Meet with clients that late, I mean."
Shrugging, I answered, "Occasionally, but not often that I know of."
He scribbled more and then nodded for me to go on.
I explained about being quiet because I didn't want to get roped into working on the weekend, about hearing the arguing and hiding in the dark, closed office, the sounds of the gunshots and the thud of what I guessed was Eleazar's body as he fell to the floor. Throughout my recounting of all of that, he interjected a few questions but mainly stayed quiet and wrote down everything I told him.
"We had been peeking out the blinds of my office to watch the hall, so I watched as two men passed my office and then moved out of sight," I said wearily, running a hand over my face.
Detective Cheney sat up, looking eager. "You saw the men? Can you describe them?"
I nodded, closing my eyes for a moment. With them still closed, I started describing the younger man first, telling the detective about his bulbous nose, short, dark hair, and dark suit. When I described the older man, telling him about his smooth, deep voice as he told the other guy to get rid of the gun, Detective Cheney cursed and stood abruptly.
My eyes flew open, and I saw that he was beginning to pace.
"What? What's going on?"
"Give me a minute, please, Ms. Brandon," he said, his hand on the door knob. "I'll be right back."
For nearly ten minutes, I worried the hell out of my bottom lip, chewing on it and my cuticles, trying not to go insane wondering what was going on. My nerves were shot, I still felt sick to my stomach, and I was nervous about Mary being without me. She'd been so frightened and sick, even with me beside her.
When the door opened, both detectives stepped into the room and then closed the door behind them.
I repeated my question from a few minutes before. "What the hell is going on?"
Detective Cheney – Ben – laid a folder down on the table in front of me. "I have two sets of photos here. I'd like you to take a look at each one and see if you recognize either of the men from earlier tonight, okay?"
Nodding somewhat reluctantly, I pulled my lower lip between my teeth again as he slid one page of mug shots out from the folder. On it were six men, all with similar features. My eyes moved from one to another, from left to right, top row to bottom. When I got to picture number five, the bottom middle, I gasped.
"That's him! That's the big nose guy!"
Detective Cheney asked, "Are you positive?"
I shuddered. "Definitely."
He slid the page back into the folder and then looked up at me. "Okay, same thing with this one. If you see either of the men, point them out."
This time when he pulled the sheet of pictures out, it took me no time at all. The first man on the page was the older man I'd seen in the hallway, the one that had given the other guy the gun and told him to get rid of it.
Immediately, I pointed to his picture. "This is him," I said firmly. "I recognize his hair, although it isn't as gray in this picture as it is now, and his eyes." Swallowing hard, I said, "He has cruel eyes." For the rest of my life, I would never forget his eyes as he turned to look at the other man in the hallway. There had been no warmth there, no spark of kindness – just flat, cruel, pure evil.
There was a flurry of activity, and the other detective left the room, folder with the pictures in hand. Detective Cheney cursed again, pulling his phone off his belt and flipping it open.
"What the hell is going on?" I growled, scared shitless because of how frantic and nervous they both seemed. "Who is that man?"
Before he could press a key on the phone, Detective Cheney paused, running a hand through his hair and then looking up at me with a worried frown on his face.
"That's Caius Volturi."
I shook my head, not knowing the name. "Who?"
"Head of the Volturi family," Detective Cheney answered quietly.
At my blank stare, he finally said the words that I knew would change our lives forever.
"Heavy misfortunes have befallen us, but let us only cling closer to what remains and transfer our love for those whom we have lost to those who yet live." – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
"Fuck," I hissed, sitting up on the side of the bed and holding my head in my hands.
I squeezed my eyes closed to get the pounding under control as an ambulance siren blared by outside, but glancing at the hotel's nightstand, I could see the cause of my trouble: the almost-empty bottle of Jack staring back at me, mocking me.
"You're an asshole, Mr. Daniels," I murmured, flipping the bottle off with my middle finger, only to pick it up and take a long draw on it.
Remembering where I was, I gave the room a long, slow gaze, casting a glance over my shoulder to see skin and legs and blond hair. Smirking at how she'd been all over my dick at the bar, I scrubbed my face with my hand once more, trying to recall her name. Sarah...no, Sherry... Sasha. That was it. It wasn't like I needed to remember. We'd both scratched an itch the night before, and she'd be gone on the first flight back to Germany in a few hours. Or was it Norway? It didn't matter, but her accent had been fuck-hot, as had her tits and ass as they'd rubbed up against me on the dance floor. All of it had looked even better once I'd gotten her back to her hotel room, where she'd let me fuck her six ways from Sunday.
"Damn," I snorted, shaking my head and scratching my jaw. I needed a shave and a shower, that was for sure. I smelled like booze, cigarettes, and sex.
My phone buzzed across the nightstand, and I tugged my jeans on, stepping out onto the balcony and lighting a cigarette. Thinking it was Jazz needing an out from that little redhead he'd hit up last night, I smiled when I answered, not bothering to look at the Caller ID.
"You need a ride, Jazz?"
"Edward?" the voice on the other end asked.
Glancing down at the phone, I saw who it really was. "Ben, man. Sorry. It's awfully early in the Big Apple, yeah?"
He chuckled, but that shit sounded tight and forced. "A little, Ed. Sorry if I woke you."
"I'm good. But what's got you calling me this late? Ang okay? You didn't fuck shit up with my girl, right? 'Cause if you did, I'm coming to get her," I teased him, grinning through smoke when he laughed.
I'd known Ben and Angela Cheney since grade school. We'd been good friends in the small-ass town of Forks, all of us looking into law enforcement after graduation. What pretty Angela saw in Ben's short, scrawny ass, I'd never know, but they were perfect for one another. They'd moved to New York, immediately applying for the NYPD. My road had taken a little longer. Four years at UW, one year training in southern Georgia, and finally – thanks to Uncle Al – I'd been placed back home at the U.S. Marshal's office in Seattle. I'd been there ever since – almost three years, actually. I hadn't wanted to just be a cop; I'd wanted to be the cop – the top of the food chain, so to speak.
"Hell, no, Cullen! You stay away from Angela. You get enough pussy, I'm sure." He laughed, but again, it fell away quickly. "She's fine. In fact, she's the one that said that I should call you. I've got... I may need your help, man. Seriously."
My brow furrowed, and I leaned on the balcony railing, letting the cool air sober my ass up as I gazed out over the Seattle skyline. It was the middle of the fucking night, so the city sparkled with every color light imaginable.
"What's up?" I asked him, frowning because Ben never asked for anything.
He sighed wearily. "I've got this case, Ed. And it's... Well, I have a feeling I can't trust anyone. But I can trust...you. I've got these two witnesses, and I'm not sure I can keep them here in New York."
That got my attention, and suddenly, the whiskey in my system practically evaporated. I stood up straight, running a hand through my hair. "Witnesses to what?"
"Homicide," he stated. When I started to open my mouth to speak, he went on. "And not just any homicide. A mob hit."
"Oh, hell. Italian or Russian?" I asked, knowing it didn't really make a difference in the danger level, but Russians could be ruthless, while Italians were fucking sneaky. That also explained why he was calling me; I had zero tolerance for organized crime. And for good fucking reason.
"Italian." He was quiet for a moment. "Edward, what are the possibilities of getting you over here to take them into protection?"
"It doesn't work like that, Ben," I sighed, leaning a hip against the railing. "I can't just march into my lieutenant's office, demanding to take a case across the country. There's a Marshal's office in New York..."
"Right now, I don't trust anyone but Angela in this city," he growled. "I'm not stupid, Cullen. I know you've got some pull..."
I pursed my lips, stubbing out my smoke on the railing. "Not a lot."
He huffed, frustrated. "I might need you. I don't think I can keep these girls here."
My head fell back with a groan. "Girls?"
"Yeah, sisters. They heard arguing, gun shots, and then saw two shooters leave the room. This is big. Like bigger than big. I can manipulate things here, but I really think I need your help." He paused for a beat. "Edward...they saw Caius Volturi."
"Aw, fuck." I scrubbed my face, shaking my head.
That was a seriously fucked-up individual. Caius had his fingers in a shit-ton of things, spreading throughout the country. The rumor was he was running things from coast to coast.
"Ben, I can't promise anything, but if you feel you can't handle it, call me back. Have you even gotten clearance from the D.A. to put them into WitSec?" I asked him.
"Not yet. Seeing them today. And I'll be pushing for real protection."
I nodded, noting to myself that I had a little time before I'd be needed in New York – if I could even convince my boss to take the case. "Call me back once you do."
"Edward, come back to bed," a sexy voice said from behind me, which Ben heard as well as I did.
"Like I said, don't touch Angela," he chortled.
I chuckled, ignoring Sasha for the moment, though it was damned difficult when she was lying naked in bed, looking at me like I was her next meal. "I'm just waiting for you to fuck up, man. Then I'm gonna show her how she should be treated..." I told him with a grin, but he cut me off.
"She'd beat the shit out of you," he snorted.
Grinning, I huffed a laugh. "That's very true. Tell her hello, and you two be careful. I'm not making you promises, but I'll try if you can't deal with it."
"At this point, I'll take anything," he said and then ended the call.
I pocketed my phone, leaning in the balcony doorway. "I gotta go," I told Sasha, happy that I had an out. I needed some sleep before I had to be across town later that afternoon, and I probably needed to talk to Jasper as well before I even mentioned Ben's call to my lieutenant.
"We have time before my flight..."
"Can't, babe. Sorry," I told her with a shake of my head. It sounded colder than I expected, but Sasha didn't bat an eye.
I walked to the bed, sitting down on the edge to put on my socks and shoes. Reaching for my shield and gun on the nightstand, I felt fingers on the skin of my back. I could feel her fingertip trace along the tattoo across my back – every twist, turn, and swirl of ink.
"So pretty," she whispered, dropping a kiss to a spot between my shoulder blades. "What's it mean? And this one?" she asked, trailing a finger across the ink on my inner forearm.
"Nothing. It doesn't mean anything. It's just ink," I lied, standing up and away from her touch.
I knew my face was wearing an expression that scared her, because she flinched back, tugging the sheet up around her. To her credit, though, she didn't ask again, which was a good thing because I wasn't going to tell her. Quickly, I pulled my shirt on, covering up all my tatts.
Leaning down, I kissed her cheek. "Thanks for last night."
She smiled, trailed another finger down the buttons of my shirt, and toyed with the zipper of my jeans. "You know, I'm flying back in a few months. We should do it again, Edward..."
I smirked, raising an eyebrow up at her. "We'll see," I told her, making no promises.
It was fucking tempting to let her keep rubbing, keep touching the outside of my jeans, because she was causing my cock to stand at attention, and her mouth looked even more enticing; instead, I clipped my gun to my jeans and took her hands in mine. "Have a safe flight home, Sasha."
With that said, I left the room, heading toward the elevators. My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I chuckled at the fact that this time, it was Jasper.
"Cullen," I stated, stepping into the elevator.
"Pick me the fuck up, Ed," he growled.
I laughed. "Yeah, yeah... On my way."
"Get the fuck up!" I growled, kicking my sofa to wake up Jasper. "We're gonna be late. And I don't want to hear Rose's mouth."
Jasper grinned, not bothering to open his eyes. "You'd think you'd mellow the hell out once you got laid, Ed."
"You'd think." I snorted, walking into the kitchen to practically inhale a cup of coffee. "Get up!" I yelled. I did not want to catch hell from my sister.
"Okay, okay... You're right. Your sister's fucking scary when she's pissed," he groaned, rousing from the couch and thumping into the bathroom.
I nodded, sipping my coffee, even though he couldn't see me. Rosalie Cullen, now McCarty, could scare the shit out of anyone. Her temper was not to be tested. I loved her, but she could be a real bitch.
Once Jasper was showered, dressed, and barely awake, I shoved him out the door and toward my car.
"What's wrong with the bike?" he asked, pointing at my garage, where most of the parts to my motorcycle were strewn everywhere.
"She wasn't firing properly," I explained, pulling out onto the street. "I took her apart just before Hendricks ran but haven't had the chance to put her back together."
He nodded, accepting that answer because we'd been busy. In fact, last night was the first chance Jazz and I had been able to blow off some steam. The last job we'd been on had taken us all over the damn state on a manhunt for an escaped convict. Clayton Hendricks had tricked everyone into thinking he was ill and then bolted from the hospital. We'd found him, though, holed up in a hotel just outside of Tacoma. Jasper and I had been the ones to locate him, really give him something to need a hospital for, and bring him back into custody. His bullet wounds were healing nicely in an upstate Washington prison. However, he'd taken me away from working on my bike.
Jasper stayed quiet on the drive out of the city and into the suburbs. We didn't need to talk much. It was what I liked about him. I'd met Jasper Whitlock almost four years ago in Georgia at the U.S. Marshal training facility. We'd pushed each other, competed against each other out in the field and in the classroom, and that competition had resulted in high scores. When it came time for placement, I'd told my uncle about him, and Jasper had been sent to Seattle at the same time I was.
Pulling into the driveway, I chuckled at Emmett's put-out expression as he peeked around from the backyard. The fact that the big bastard was wearing an apron just made me laugh all the harder. Emmett McCarty was one of Seattle's finest, and a detective, at that. He was about six-foot-two, weighing in just about the same as he had when he'd played football in high school as a defensive lineman. In fact, he was probably in better shape now. How he put up with my sister, I'd never understand, but his demeanor seemed to be built perfectly to take it.
"You're late," my brother-in-law huffed, rolling his eyes, and Jasper just groaned.
"Ten minutes!" I argued, walking through the side gate and handing him the beer he'd requested.
He grinned, shrugging a huge shoulder. "Just sayin'. Just warning you, too. She's in rare form this morning. The hormones are kickin' my ass."
"It's my hormones!" I heard from the sliding glass door. "And you're late!"
Rosalie stood in the doorway, looking as beautiful as ever, even with her harsh expression aimed my way. She was a stunning, long-legged blonde that caused me more fights in school than I was willing to admit. Teen boys didn't know when enough was enough, and some liked to push the flirting and teasing too far, past her comfort zone. It never mattered that Rose and I weren't blood related... I'd kick anyone's ass for her.
"Aw, Rose, just ten minutes," I whined, rolling my eyes. I walked to her, kissing her cheek. "It's not like you're ready to eat. He's still got the coals burning."
"You look like shit, Edward," Rose said, eyeing me and then Jasper. "Both of you. What was her name? Do you even remember?"
"No," Jasper cracked up from across the back deck.
"No, but she remembers mine...as do the people in the next hotel room over," I told her with a wink and a grin, just to see her scoff and then laugh. I reached out, rubbing the little bump on her stomach. "How's my nephew treating you?"
She smacked at my hands, but she was wearing a smile. "I told you...we're waiting to find out what the sex is. It could be a girl, you know."
"Remind me to buy a shotgun," I said with a growl in my voice.
She laughed. "You sound like Em," she said, reaching up to run her fingers through my hair. "You gotta stop partying, brother." She sighed, her blue eyes raking over me. "You'll grow old before your time."
I rolled my eyes at her again. "I'm in my best shape, Ro."
"Hmph," she scoffed, tugging me into the house. "Here, take these to Emmett."
I took the plate of burgers from her and started to head back outside.
I turned to face her again.
"One day...someone will come along, and you'll want to remember her name. Not all of us girls are like Maggie." She smirked, but the darkness in her eyes showed her hatred of the woman she'd just mentioned.
I shook my head, but I didn't have anything to say to that. Despite my sister's tough demeanor, she was a softy underneath. I handed Emmett the plate, then grabbed a cold beer, plopping down in the chair. Though, if it weren't for my sister, I wouldn't be where I was right then. Starting in high school, she'd bailed me out of trouble more times than I could count, cleaned me up, lectured me, and sent me back out into the world. Without her, I would probably be no better than the assholes I chased every damn day. In college, I'd been even worse – drinking, partying, the wrong crowd...and yeah, Maggie.
Sighing, I tried to force her name out of my mind as Emmett and Jasper talked about the Hendricks case, but it didn't work. The girl had stomped on my heart. She'd been the last long-term relationship I'd tried to have. Well, not really...I'd tried but never truly given them my trust, which inevitably screwed shit up every time.
I was snapped out of my musings when Emmett kicked the leg of my chair, almost sending me flying out of it. He was lucky my beer was almost empty. If I'd spilled it, I would have kicked his ass – or tried to, anyway.
"What?!" I snapped.
"I said, your dad called looking for you," he said with an amused chuckle. "You haven't been in touch since you found Hendricks?"
"Nah, I'll call Mom later," I sighed, shrugging my shoulder. "I've been busy."
Damn, was this "pick on Edward" day or what? I scowled out over Emmett's backyard. Calling my dad would only end in a disagreement, which would cause my mother worry. And that I couldn't have. I didn't exactly live my life in a way that met up to Carlisle Cullen's standards.
I gazed down at the ink on my forearm – a blatant reminder that Carlisle wasn't my real father. I trailed my thumb over the dark wings of the angel, shaking my head. She was the exact same as the angel that adorned my birth father's tombstone. I'd taken the picture of it to a friend, who'd drawn it out for me.
Edward Masen had been killed in his law office in Port Angeles when I was a year and a half old. He'd been working on a trial against the Bennetti crime family. From the old case file, he'd been threatened to drop the charges, but he hadn't, which resulted in his assassination. I'd been named after him...or had been until my mother married Carlisle, who then adopted me. Carlisle's first wife had been killed in a car accident that same year, leaving him with an almost two and a half-year-old little girl – Rose. My mom had met my stepfather at a daycare in the small town of Forks, and the rest was history.
I had to give credit to Carlisle. He did his best, but we were completely different people. Where my dad was calm, cool, and collected, I wasn't. At all. I had a quick temper and had never really measured up to what he wanted from me. He'd wanted me to follow in his footsteps, become a doctor, like him, but that wasn't me. As I got older, moving into high school, I'd never felt like I fit in. I still didn't. When I found out I wasn't Carlisle's biological son, everything kind of slid into place as to why I'd felt the way I did growing up. In some ways, it made things easier, but in others, it made them harder. Once I found out about my real father and his death, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life, and only my mother understood it. She'd said I'd inherited Edward Masen's nose for trouble and his tenacious desire to right wrongs.
Thinking about Forks reminded me of Ben's phone call, so I looked over at Rose. "Ben Cheney called me at like four in the morning."
Her eyebrows raised up high. "Are he and Angela still in New York?"
"Yeah." I nodded, getting up to grab another beer and handing one to Jasper. "He asked me to take on a couple of witnesses. You know, ask for the case."
Jasper frowned, sitting forward with his elbows resting on his knees and his beer in his hands. "Just like that? And all the way in New York?"
"That's what I asked, but apparently, these two witnessed a mob hit." I sighed, sitting back. "He says he doesn't trust anyone to take it over there. It's Caius Volturi."
"Oh, damn," Jasper murmured, his brow furrowing. "No wonder he doesn't trust anyone."
"Call Uncle Al," Rose stated firmly with a shrug of her shoulder and a rub to her growing belly. "He'll understand. He'll remember Ben from barbecues and shit."
I grinned. That was true. Alistair Chambers was my lieutenant, but he was also Carlisle's former roommate in college. Rose and I had known him our whole lives as Uncle Al. He was also the reason I'd wanted to be a U.S. Marshal. Without him, I'd have never known the steps I'd needed to take. He'd threatened, cajoled, and urged me to keep going, even when I didn't think I could.
"Get your grub on," Emmett boomed, setting the plate of now-grilled burgers onto the table. "Then you can call Uncle Al."
Laughing, I nodded, grabbing a paper plate. "Nah, I'll just go up to the office after we eat."
Jasper hummed in agreement, already chewing a mouthful of potato salad. Once he swallowed, he said, "Cool, I'll go with you."
A/N #2: So there ya have it. Chapter 1! Marie & Mary (as in Isabella Marie & Mary Alice from the books, in case you forgot about that little fact! ;) ) sort of witnessed the murder of her boss, Ben and Angela Cheney are friends with Edward and have put Edward on notice that they want him assigned when it probably turns into a Witness Security case, and our favorite couple has some issues they'll need to work through in terms of relationships and sex...
We'll see you next Sunday for Chapter 2! :D
- Jenny & Deb