Chapter 21

"Did you know?" he asked the moment he was able to drag himself off the floor and find her in their bedroom, standing over opened luggage.

He walked over to her and shut it.

She only had a few items in there like some stockings he'd never seen her wear before, and two slips.

"No. I just found out. Rose told me," she said, sniffing.

She kept her eyes averted.

He sat down on the bed and dragged her down into his lap.

"Why does this feel almost more intimate and invasive than being trapped under you and being fucked into a stupor?" She swiped at a few stray tears on her cheeks.

"Because it's a place you know you can't hide from me," he said, kissing her cheek.

"How much do you want to know?" She stared at the wall.

He shifted her so she was sitting sideways across his lap. With one hand he stroked her bottom through the thin fabric, and with the other, he turned her head so she'd look at him.

"Everything—don't leave a word out," he breathed.

His chest was tight, but his touch on her was light.

That blood bath had soothed him in an odd way like nothing else ever had.

And even though he wanted to kill this dead man—or woman, as it happened to turn out—he was eerily calm again within moments.

He needed to be for her.

And he was glad she chose to tell him now when he could handle it better.

In a whirlwind, she blurted everything at once, rambling about how she was so furious with Rose she wanted to rip her hair out and then sell it to other whores for a nice wig, and how she wanted to spit in her food for making her change her name.

"Wait—what did you say about your last name? Why did she suggest you change it?"

"I said that wrong." She took a big breath and then shook her hair out behind her. A few droplets rained down on his thigh.

Little moments like this held him spellbound.

Her lips parted and her eyes went glassy. "She told us we should change our last name to my maiden name, rather than take on his last name, of Hale."

"What was the reasoning?" He caressed up and down her back, over the curve of her spine and back down her bottom.

So supple and warm down there. Next time he would prime her more. He needed in that hole, too.

"She said that those men that had shot their parents and killed them, would be looking for a Roman Hale, not a Roman Swan, and in our neighborhood, there were several Romans, so it seemed to be a logical choice to confuse them." She sounded far away, somewhere else in her mind.

"Why did Rose keep her last name then if it was so dangerous? And what about how they'd tracked down your family as well? You told me they'd pulled both your families out that night."

She nodded. "They did, but Rose and Roman both believed they did it to scare their family. If they made an example of my family, it would scare them into doing what they wanted. The Hales were the ones behind on their rent—not us. Not my family." She placed her palms on her thighs and her hands shook.

"I know this is painful, but please tell me as much as you can. I promise I'll take care of you after, sweet. I'll love you and hold you in my arms, singing you to sleep. You've been so brave for me today. Such a good girl," he cooed into her soft shoulder.

She curled her fingers into her flesh. "Things went wrong I suppose. I only told you bits of what had happened. They raised the gun on my dad, and I jumped in front of him. My dad tried to push me out of the way, and while that was happening my mother launched herself at the man holding the gun. The shots were fired, and his arms had jerked in the other direction, shooting a hole in Rose's father's neck. He was gasping for his life and I . . . I caused that," she sobbed.

"You did no such thing. You tried to save your own flesh and blood. There was nothing you could do otherwise," he said, kissing her arm with soft, butterfly flicks of his mouth.

"And her mom . . . She watched him die. She attacked the man, and she secured his gun, but instead of turning on the attacker, she shot herself in the temple, taking her own life. Rose and I saw it all, and Roman . . . He didn't know what happened. He went mad—shooting at all of them. That's when they ran. But it was all a mess . . . Blood everywhere. I spent the entire night cleaning it up on my own. I couldn't sleep—I couldn't face Rose the next day—the girl I didn't know, because I was the reason her parents were gone. That's why I'll always owe her." She sagged into his chest, curled into a ball and wept.

He lay down with her tucked up against him.

His murmurings of love and empathy saturated the air.

Eventually she fell asleep, and eventually he would be able to find a way to breathe without his heart bleeding for her and the horrors she'd seen.




Edward and Emmett worked through the day and night, calling all the papers, making sure the story was straight for Murray Hall.

The gender of the body was not something they could hide, but they could make sure Hall's connections to Rose and her sister, Ramona, posing as Roman, would not be discovered.

Roman had known about Hall and that's where the idea had come from.

Hall had successfully fooled people for years—why couldn't Roman do it, too?

Only, Hall had power and money. Roman did not.

Isabella was in a state, worrying this would ruin Edward's and Emmett's credibility and they would lose their businesses.

She should have known better than that.

Edward was a master at covering up information. It's what he always did.

"You're sure it says exactly what I told you?" Edward repeated on the phone.

"Yes, Mr. Masen. I have it down the way you specified," Mr. Bryant replied.

"Read it to me once more," Edward said, grabbing the paper from the Times that was about to go to print.

He wanted all the stories across town to match.

"Murray Hall Shocks Those Who Knew Him. He is survived by a wife, a daughter and no other kin," Bryant read. "His friends are in a state of mourning; his assets are all to go to his daughter, and no charges to be made against his wife for aiding him in this criminal activity." Then he prattled off the laws and how it protected his family from any recrimination.

Edward's back rolled into his cushioned seat. "Good. Send it to print."

He ended the call and stared at Rose who was glaring at the judge across from her.

"Make it disappear," she told him.

"I already have. No one will ever know Hall changed her last name from Hale, that she was your aunt and that is why those men came after your family. Secrets like that are difficult to hide, but I've buried it for good." The judge pulled out a cigar and lit it.

"I don't want Isabella to know either. She's been through enough," Edward said.

A soft gasp came from the door.

He turned to find a pale Isabella, clutching at her throat and eyes watering.

"Rose!" she shouted. "How could you?"

"I didn't . . . I had to!" Rose stood and moved toward her sister-in-law.

Right when Edward expected Isabella to run off, she stomped toward Rose and her hand flew.

"I don't owe you anything else!" Isabella yelled. "Nothing—do you hear me? And don't you ever say you were selling your body because you liked it!"

"I hated it," Rose broke down and whimpered. "I did it so I could blackmail men like him—" she pointed at the judge "—and others that knew my family's secrets. I had no choice."

"I . . . You should have told me." Isabella collapsed into Rose's arms.

"You've been so disgusted with me," Rose said, her eyes red from crying. "You told me to get rid of my baby—that's how vile you think me."

"I didn't know—not until I carried my own babe. I would have never suggested such a thing had I known what it was like. I realize now you could never do that, and neither could I."

They cried on each other's shoulders, apologizing for many past misdeeds. Rose told her about she had rid herself of her laudanum addiction thanks to Emmett's help and her doctor's.

They both promised to always be there for each other for the rest of their days no matter what.




April 20, 1900

Isabella's back ached like it had been pounded with a sledge hammer. But that was nothing compared to her throbbing headache.

She rubbed her temples and concentrated on her paper before her.

Today was the first day her paper was up and running.

Today was the beginning of something big.

Her employees were smiling even if she wasn't.

The noise was constant, and she longed to have a moment's peace so she could think straight.

"Pardon me, Mrs. Masen," the man poked his head in.

"Yes?" She barely lifted her head and her eyes drooped.

"We need you to come and inspect what we've done then sign the work log," the construction worker said.

Somehow her staff worked tirelessly around the crew fixing the last two beams at the edge of her office.

"Certainly—I'll be right there." She rubbed her belly for a moment then heaved herself up.

Her legs were sluggish as she roamed over to the door.

"I don't care who hired you—you're not to be around my wife!" she heard a familiar voice holler.

"Edward—what are you doing here?" She groaned and rolled her eyes.

First day and already he was meddling.

"Did you know he was in your building?" Edward pointed at Stanford and glared at her.

"Yes, I knew. He's been in charge of renovations for weeks now." She stretched her neck from side to side to work the cricks out.

"Unbelievable!" He pulled her into her office, closed the door and circled around her, a low growl building in his chest.

"This is my paper, correct?"

"It is, and my one stipulation was to keep yourself and my baby safe," he said, his jaw twitching it was so tense.

"I am more than safe." She yawned and stretched.

He was on her in the next second, crushing her to his chest.

Her belly was barely noticeable to others, but this close—she could feel how round it was and how it got in the way.

"You are not to work near him. I won't allow it." He stared in her eyes.

"Fine. I'll just go right out there and tell his wife she can't work here either." She swung away from him, opened the door and called out, "Mary! I need to see you, please . . ."

A woman that looked like she could be Isabella's sister waltzed right in.

The women hugged and chatted for a moment about how hard it was to pregnant, and how it was only going to get worse when the heat hit.

"Excuse me?" Edward cleared his throat. "I believe introductions are in order."

Isabella batted her lashes at him, goading him. "This is Mary Stanford, and she is married to Arnold Stanford. They have two daughters together. She left because she thought he was being untrue. I tracked her down through letters, we corresponded, and I set things right."

He swallowed and his palms sweated. "I beat that man because he was trying to take you to bed against your will," he said low, but loud enough Mary would hopefully hear it.

"He was drunk. He regrets that every day of his life. He has apologized to me a thousand times. And since I could not afford to fix the supports for this building, and I was the one that found his wife and helped them reconcile, he begged me to work on this construction for free." Isabella stepped over to her husband and grabbed his hand then squeezed it in hers. "You'd already paid him six months of salary, so it was the least he could do for us." She kissed his cheek.

Mary beamed at them. "He truly is a wonderful man. I'm an awfully jealous wife, and I was too young to realize that just because women flirted with him, it did not mean he reciprocated or did anything unseemly. He actually remained true to me while I was away."

Edward scowled at Mary.

"Oh, well, he did slip up a few times, but he always went to confession after and then avoided that woman." Mary flushed. "He told me that the night he burned your apartment down, was the night he realized what a demon he'd become. He hasn't touched liquor since then, and he's been very attentive to our girls."

"And now that you're home, working here for me, we're all great friends." Isabella placed her head on Edward's shoulder and sighed.

"You may go now," Edward told Mary.

"But Mrs. Masen wanted to see me," Mary replied.

"She's done with you. Leave, and shut the door on your way out—make sure to lock it," Edward said, his voice tight and edgy.

The woman obeyed and Edward went about closing the curtains on her windows.

"I believe you are up to mischief making of some sort." Isabella smirked.

"I came here to give you a welcoming gift, sweet wife, and now you shall receive it with delight and gratitude." He prowled after her, taking his time.

"Is it a camera?"

"No." His eyes darkened and his lips parted.

They were moist. She could tell from where she stood, his mouth was flooding for her.

"Is it a motorcar parked out front?"

"Heavens, woman, if you ever said yes, I would buy you one without further delay," he said, shaking his head, grinning. "Try again."

"Is it a straight razor, so we can baptize my desk in blood and come?" Her voice broke as her breath hitched.

She leaned up against her wobbly desk and it skidded a little from her weight.

"Closer. Very close, and you're wet—very wet for me. I can tell by the way you're watching me," he said, his tone darker than his look.

"I don't need to guess anymore because I know you're about to spill your secret," she said, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Is that so?"

"It is a fact well known that Mr. Masen cannot stand to withhold anything from his bitch of a wife. Or so I am told." She shrugged by lifting her right shoulder.

"I believe your wound has healed from our session three months ago. That there's not a single mark on your pure-white skin. How is that possible? Is it that you're so adept at cutting yourself that you're an expert, or is it because we need to try harder?" He stood right in front of her, his legs on the outside of hers.

His prominent erection jutting out, taking her attention.

She stared at it.

"Is your surprise down your pants? I think you could hide anything down there and I would fail to notice since your cock takes all my notice."

He stroked himself then took her hand and had her do it for him.

"Your gift, sweet, is something very small. Very sharp and tempting as sin." He pulled out a small needle with a little knob on the end of it out of his suit coat pocket.

"What is that?"

"It's from China. I paid for a set of these," he said.

"Why?" Her nose wrinkled up.

"It gets rid of headaches," he stroked the rounded end of it over her temple, "it has erotic uses, and best of all," he stuck the sharp end into the back of his hand, "it feels amazing. There's very little blood, but enough to curb my appetites. And maybe yours, too."

"Is it safe?"

"The use of this healing medium predates history." He twisted it into his skin deeper and then let go. The pin stayed in place, and dammit everything she knew about sensuality—it was the sexiest thing she'd ever seen.

"Does it hurt?" Her throat constricted at the thought of taking it out and lapping up his droplets of his potent red elixir.

She'd forgotten how much she craved this.

He'd been so busy setting up a nursery for their baby as she went about getting her newspaper company running.

"If it truly hurt, it would not have been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for so long. It's a wonderful way to send energy rushing to the areas that need it."

He grabbed her wrist and licked across her pulse point then pulled out another tiny needle and tickled it across a blue vein on her inner arm. "There is no cutting allowed. I talked to your "doctor." He said you're too advanced now in your pregnancy to do that."

"You talked to Carlisle?" Her eyes went wide and her lips thinned as she pressed them together.

"I did." He nipped at delicate bones on the side of her wrist and then pulled away. "God you smell good. Do you know what this scent does to me?" He licked her again.

"Why did you speak to him when I know you dislike him so much?"

"We had a nice long chat. He told me all that you've said to him, and it seems he thinks I've been too soft on you, that you want me to push you further. And you know . . . I hate to admit it, but I believe he's right. He told me how I can take you in hand in a more effective way—bring you to your knees instead of the other way around. I'm rather sweet on the idea of you being down there. Places your mouth right where I need it and keeps it busy so you'll be more apt to listen, and less apt to talk. That's what you want isn't it? To suck me, then for me to fuck you hard? Right now—it's what you crave."

Her right leg shook as she tried to pull her thighs together to quell the throbbing there.

She'd be damned if she let him fuck her in here on her first day opening the office up for business.

"What's the matter, sweet? Don't like me talking to that man? Finding out more of your deviant desires? Things you were maybe too afraid to tell me . . ."

"I was merely collecting information so I could be what you need and we could both fulfill our desires." She lifted her chin. "He knows what he's doing," she said, her spine stiffening.

"Does he now? Seems to me delivering babies isn't something he does very often, but knowing how to tie women up, gag them and fuck them senseless is his specialty." He rolled the pin across the heel of her palm.

Her fingers twitched at the sensation. It was erotic—it was torture—it was bliss.

Within seconds her shoulders were sagging, and her body was rounding toward him. "Okay, yes—I went to him because he told me he had odd sexual appetites like we do. I thought he'd understand, and I thought you'd like that I had someone I could ask my odd, slightly embarrassing questions to. Are you upset with me?"

"Why, heavens, no. Sweet girl, I asked him my own questions as well—seeing as how he's as old as I am, and has been dealing with his urges for the same amount time as I have. Only, he's not interested blood like we are." He pulled her skirt up enough he could put his hands up inside.

She gasped when his chilly fingers brushed across her inner thighs.

"He's into strangling—controlling how and when a woman breathes." Edward rolled his fingers across her clitoris until he was pinching.

"What did you think of his proclivities?" she said, under her breath. She tried to keep from panting, but it was useless.

Her nipples tightened, and her legs spread wider.

"I told him that was sick, but not as sick as what we want to do to each other. I want to eat your come, drink your blood, and fuck your ass," he leaned in and whispered.

She heard something squish, and then he turned her over, had her chest on the desk, and her bottom exposed.

"I love these round cheeks, and you know how much I love your powder-white skin, but you hid this from me." His teeth clicked as his jaw slammed shut. "No more of me being too soft on you."


A light paddling on her cheek made her jump.

"You're spanking me?" She swallowed and a rush shot from her throat, through her gut and down to her puss.

"Yes, you deserve it."


His fingers squeezed where he'd smacked her.

"Oh, it's red already, and I used hardly any pressure at all." He leaned over, sucked at the spots that tingled with heat from his swats.

The next thing she knew, there was something prodding at her anus.

Her cheeks clenched.

"Relax. Or I'll help you to," he said.


She clenched her cheeks again when he probed once more.

He set the needle down he'd had before, right in front of her face on the desk.

"There's a place I can stick this needle in your skin, and it will send vibrations to your puss, making you forget I'm invading your ass. Would you like that, my little mite?" He chuckled with a sinister sound.

Chills raced down her back.

"Yes. I want you to lick the blood on the pin as you insert it. If any gushes out, I want you to have it on your tongue," she said, her belly heavy and her puss throbbing.

The pulse at the juncture of her thighs was racing.

She'd never felt anything like that before.

"Tell me what you mean to me—little miss," he said, changing his tone of voice.

It went from taunting, to stern.

"Tell me why I wasn't informed Stanford was here, and how you saved that man and his wife." He paused and gripped her ass with one hand, and then something was sliding into her tight, puckered hole.

She gasped but then told herself he would never hurt her. Ever.

He never had, and never would.

It slowly eased in further then twisted for a moment and seated itself there.

She breathed slow and deep, closing her eyes to concentrate.

"Hmm . . . Why didn't you tell me? Didn't you think I would trust you after you explained why you thought it a good idea to be near him?" His finger pulsed with tiny movements inside her.

"I . . . I didn't think it would matter . . . And I was busy."

She sucked in a gasp when his cock was suddenly at her other hole, slipping across the slit.

"If you don't tell me why, I may change course, and my cock might decide it wants to try and take the place of my finger. I don't think you're ready for that—my favorite slut—so for now, why don't you confess. Tell me all your sins."

She huffed and blew a few stray hairs off her face.

"All right! I knew you'd be jealous. I knew you'd tell me it was a poor idea, and I didn't need you pissing on my plans. I was going to prove I could do this on my own without your influence or money." Her chest ached when she heard how calloused she sounded.

"Oh, I see, and I don't matter? As your husband, I don't get any say? You've earned this, love. Don't you think I won't take what's mine, and if that man ever comes near you and does anything at all unsavory, you will tell me." He slipped another finger inside her. It was well lubricated, that wasn't the problem.

What worried her was how she loved that stinging burning sensation. Something inside her—something deep in her core, snapped, and she begged, "Please, please, fuck my ass! Please, darling. I need it!"

A wanton, voracious moan ripped out of her, and the next thing she knew, he was easing his cock inside her.

Tight, gripping yelps tore out of her chest as he gripped her hair by the handful at the nape, whispered in her ear, "I've never fucked a slut this way before. They never earned it. But you—my wife—the woman I die for—are worth it."

He grunted, slipped deeper inside her, and that burning, pulsing pain turned into the most exquisite sensation.

It rocked through her groin, making her puss clench and drip.

"So good . . . I . . . I can . . . It's forbidden, and I . . . There are people in the other room—hearing you take me," she stammered.

She went up on tiptoes, arching and her ass pleaded for more.

He was moving so slow, so controlled, it was driving her mad.

Didn't this feel good to him?

He was being so silent.

Too careful.

"You wait until I hit it hard," he hissed at her ear.

There was a prick at the base of her spine, and this odd heat traveled down her left ass cheek and then lingered there for a moment.

She sucked in her bottom lip and concentrated on the feel of his bulging cock head, delving deeper inside her—in places decent men were not to travel.

She was dirty—in this moment—more so than when her blood swirled around her all those weeks ago.

When he'd lost himself in her.

But now she was losing her mind.

Another prick.

This time the sensation was on the other cheek.

Her bottom went a little numb, and she whined, "I want to feel it. You took that away."

"I have a mean streak in me when you test me this way. I allow you only so much—there's only so much I can bear. And I cannot tolerate men working here, thinking you are going to give them your undivided attention. I get that—me!"

He pulled out of her ass, and what had been without feeling, suddenly flared.

She pushed two fingers inside her mouth and bit down to keep from yelling and screaming for his cock to get back in there.

He dropped to his knees behind her, and his tongue was pushing inside her anus.

"You gape—for me," he said with a hungry, predatory sound.

She moaned, propped one knee up on the desk, and in the next breath, he was back up, his cock back inside her ass.

He gripped her hip with one hand, and with the other, twisted one of the needles inside her back.

A hoarse, guttural sound emanated out of him, and she knew what he wanted.

"Pull it out . . . Lick the blood off. Get your dose of me," she said, pushing her bottom even further up in the air, arching her back deeper.

There was a tingle, a release on the right side of her lower spine, and then she could hear him licking, slurping at the needle. He made this pleasured, agonized sound, and his thrusts deepened.

But it wasn't until he bent over her, said, "Tongue. Out. Now!"

That her head went hazy. She was flying—floating.

He swiped the needle across her tongue, then ran the wetness over her cheek, and before she could blink, she'd heard something in the distance, like a knocking, and him growling in her ear to come and wet his cock.

"Goddammit, I can't last any longer—I said come on me!"

He was inside her puss, his hands gripped into her shoulders, and he was ramming himself furiously inside her.

A finger of his slipped inside her mouth, she bit down, and he convulsed, coming inside her.

She tasted for blood, and instead of finding that, she found the tip of a needle. It had been in between his two fingers, and she'd hit the end of it.

He cried out with an erotic gasp, and she crumbled—climaxing and slamming her fist onto her desk.

Papers rained down off the edges, he bit her shoulder through her dress and made this high pitched whining sound.

"Fuck—you're going to get a visit from me every day, and I'll keep those needles on me at all times," he said. "Along with my lubricant."

Her lips spread into a lazy grin. "I think I can work you into my printing schedule and give you my undivided attention, Mr. Masen. You're an important client to this slut."

He squeezed her left butt cheek and then slowly pulled out of her.

His hand flew between her legs, and he had a cloth in it.

He caught their come, wiped her real good, and stuffed it in his pocket. "For later—I might get lonely." He sniffed at his hands and then licked across his needle still sticking out.

He pulled it out and stared at the small mark from the needle.

His tongue washed over it.

The knocking sound was back.

It wasn't until they both could stand straight, had fixed their appearances, she was brave enough to open the door so he could leave.

When she peeked out, no one seemed aware anything had gone at all.

Stanford it seemed, had been hammering so loud at a beam he'd already fixed, it had drowned out everything they'd done.

Isabella walked calmly over to the construction worker she'd talked to earlier, asked for the work log to sign, grabbed a pen and put her mark on the paper.

Her hand went up and touched the one Edward had left on her shoulder, hidden under her clothes.

He was watching her, standing by the exit.

She waved and he winked.

And when he left, she knew Mr. Masen would be back. A good employee always wanted to receive their just due—and wages wasn't all she would give him.



Blog post today with more information about Murray Hall and what her real name was. I can't tell you how much fun it was to insert this real character into the story and watch it unfold. So fun!

Thanks for reading. I appreciate all your reviews with honest feedback. Thank you to my beta—Anakinsmom. She did a fabulous job and I threw this all at her last minute and begged her to make sure I didn't leave any gaping holes. There are very few gaping holes I like, and story holes—not something I enjoy. ;D

Also, still looking for ARC readers for my stories Sleeves and Knotsboth to be published next month. I can barely believe it! Let me know if you're interested. All you have to do is write up an honest review, post it on Goodreads and then once the story's published, put it on Amazon as well.

I'll be finishing A Clean Slate now and Omega of Black, and unfortunately, DOOGS has to come down. It'll be entirely too obvious to extended family that this is me once I publish, and I really can't have that. And I don't have time to finish it up. I'm so sorry to do that, so go ahead and flag fic if you want. I don't mind at all. Maybe some day down the line I'll change it completely so it's not so obvious who wrote it. I'll be taking it down in a few days… Sorry about that.

The good news is though I already have a few more fan fic stories taking up portions of my brain I'll be writing in a few weeks. Until then, hopefully you'll take a "chanse" on my published stories. I swear they aren't corny like this last sentence was. :O They'll be on Amazon exclusively for the first 3 months so I can have free promo days, and then after that they'll be up on Barnes and Noble. Thanks again for all your support!