March 15, 2014
I paced outside Banner's office. Things were seriously fucked up in the VP house. It had taken all I had not to beat the pure shit out of Newton when Bella had told me what he'd said and done. He'd not only continued his disgusting behavior, but he'd had the audacity to touch her.
I knew there was no one inside that house that could be trusted. Leah was biased against Bella so much that she'd never listen to reason. The rest of the agents were long-time friends with Mike, so anything that I'd have said would've gone straight back to the slimy bastard.
No, this needed to go through the proper channels.
"Cullen, come in!" Banner said when he'd opened his door. "I was just about to head to the VP house."
That caused me to immediately be on guard. "Why?"
"Well, sit down. Let's talk." He sat down behind his desk, his hands folding together in front of him. "Why don't you tell me what's going on, son?"
I took a deep breath and told him about Newton, about Bella's constant defense against him, about his disrespectful behavior, and finally, the fact that he'd touched her against her will, resulting in her need to slap him. I explained the actions and personalities of my fellow agents – Leah included – and told him that this was the first opportunity I'd had to come to him with this issue. The only thing I left out was my true relationship with Bella.
Banner's face darkened with every word, and eventually, he got up and started to pace, glazing out the window.
"Edward, what's your relationship with Isabella Swan?" he asked softly and slowly, turning to face me.
My brow furrowed, but I said, "She's my charge, sir. But we get along very well. I'd consider her a friend, really. You were right, sir. You told me that she was easy to follow, and she is. Never gives us trouble. Ever."
"Try again, Cullen." He smirked, shaking his head. When I didn't say anything, he sighed deeply. "We have a problem, son. Mike Newton has gone to Charlie Swan with accusations that your relationship with Isabella is inappropriate." When I stood up abruptly, he held his hand up. "Sit. I'm not done." He sat on the edge of the front of his desk crossing his ankles. He sniffed once, studying my face. "I don't want to know. You know why? Because that girl is eighteen, and personally, I think Charlie Swan is an ass. But that's politics."
I snorted, but said nothing.
"Second?" he continued, shaking his head again. "Newton has been a pain in my ass since training. And before you ask...yes, I'm that old!" he snapped, smirking a little when I laughed. "Everywhere I've placed him, he's caused trouble. He's whiny and spiteful...and a damn bully, but..." Banner held up a finger, smiling ruefully. "He just fucked up for the last time. See, he should've come to me with that complaint, just like you are now, not the Vice President. Edward, I have no damn doubt that what you say is true. The problem we're having is that Charlie Swan now wants your head on a silver platter."
"Fuck," I hissed, leaning forward and gripping my hair in both hands.
"He can't have it," Banner stated firmly, and when my gaze snapped from the floor to his, he shrugged. "But I now have to go in there and clean house." He reached behind him and snatched up a stack of papers, thrusting them my way. "Before I do that, though, you're gonna put in for a transfer. Period. No arguments, kid, or I'll have to do something rash."
I stared down at the papers, my heart completely shattering, because this wasn't how shit was supposed to have gone. We only had a few more months before Bella was going to college.
I sniffed, hardened my expression, and met his gaze. "I need a temporary reassignment. After that, I'm handing in my badge."
The smile that crossed his face was wicked and wry. "Going to back to college, are you?"
"Sir," I said with a firm nod, but took the pen he was handing me.
"Good. That's what your dad wanted," he said with a chuckle, smacking my shoulder, but giving it a squeeze. "You're good at this job, Edward, but he didn't really want this life for you." When I nodded, he pointed to the papers. "Hurry, we're in a time-crunch."
I filled out the forms quickly, handing them back.
"Look at me, Edward," he ordered, and my gaze snapped to his. "You're not the first to fall for their charge. I'm pretty sure you won't be the last. Hell, I think one of Ford's daughters married hers." He shook his head and waved his hand. "Anyway, I have to get you out of that house to appease Swan. I have to remove Clearwater and Newton, simply because they didn't follow protocol. Newton will be unemployed before lunch." He said the last statement with such venom behind his voice that my eyebrows shot up.
"Leah didn't do anything, sir," I countered.
"Yeah, I know. And that's the fucking problem. She actually allowed that shit to continue even before you were assigned to the VP house."
"Right." He glanced up when a knock sounded on his door. "That would be replacements. Let's go, Edward."
The entire drive back to the VP house, I was terrified, not because I had to change assignments, but about what Bella's reaction would be. What I didn't expect was that the house was now in utter chaos when I walked in, followed by Banner and three replacement agents.
"Isabella, sit down!" Charlie Swan snapped, pointing to the living room sofa.
"No! I won't allow it, Dad! Edward's done nothing wrong, and you're listening to this pig?! He's the one that was inappropriate. Not Edward!"
Leah snorted, but said nothing as she stood at the French doors leading out to the pool. Newton, however, had the fucking audacity to look shocked at Bella's accusations.
Bella's eyes caught sight of me, and I could see her fighting everything not to run to me. But her father beat her to it. I was slammed into the wall behind me, my shirt balled up in his fists.
"You stupid bastard! How dare you touch her!" he snarled in my face.
"I love her, sir," I stated calmly low enough that only he heard me, but I didn't fight him. I looked him straight in the eye. "Nothing that happens today will change that. You should know that right now. And she's free to make that decision on her own."
He slammed me into the wall again, but everyone came to a standstill when Banner's voice rang out with authority.
"Mr. Vice President, please unhand my agent," he ordered and then pointed to Newton and Leah. "You two, front and center."
"Dad! Let him go!" Bella's voice was a whisper, but it was as if she'd slapped her father. "Let him go."
Charles Swan looked like he couldn't decide whether to kill me or throw up. His skin took on a sickly green tint to it, but his eyes were dark, hate-filled, and foul. He shoved me back into the wall once more before letting go of my shirt. The hate on his face grew when his daughter stepped between us.
"I should kill you," he stated.
"But you won't," Banner stated calmly. He turned to one of the replacements. "Check the security footage of the fourteenth of this month. You're looking for the workout room."
The guy nodded once and stepped out of the room.
At that command, Mike's face paled to a chalky white. Bella smiled smugly, folding her arms across her chest. Charlie Swan, however, just looked a little confused.
Banner turned to Swan. "I'm replacing Isabella's agents. All three. As of now."
"No!" Bella argued, stepping to Banner. "Please! Edward didn't do anything wrong!"
"Mr. Cullen has put in for a transfer, Miss Swan," Banner explained, shooting a glance my way before looking over at the returning agent he'd sent to check security footage. When the man nodded, Banner did, too. "I thought so," he muttered, turning to Newton. "Newton, gather your things and meet me right back here. You'll turn in your badge and gun. You're officially released from duty. If you're lucky, I won't have you arrested for assault on the daughter of the vice president." He looked up to Leah. "Did you know?" When she hesitated to answer him, he sighed. "You, too, then. Go get your things. You're being reassigned elsewhere." He turned to Bella. "Isabella, these are your new guards. Zafrina and Carmen."
Banner had assigned Bella women agents on purpose. It would shut Charlie Swan up, but it would also keep Bella from asshole agents like Newton. I'd been in training with Carmen. She was fair and smart. She would treat Bella well. I didn't know Zafrina, but she seemed calm and collected, despite all that was going on.
"I don't want new guards. Edward didn't do anything wrong," Bella stated firmly, but she rounded on me. "You didn't put in for a transfer, did you? Tell me he's lying."
"I had no choice, love," I whispered, stopping her before she rounded on Banner. "Bella, you made me a promise on your eighteenth birthday, you remember?" I hissed in her ear.
"Do you remember?" I asked urgently, raising my eyebrow at her. When she nodded, I said, "Good. Don't you dare forget that promise to me." Her eyes welled up with tears. "Don't you cry, either, love. This isn't over," I vowed in a whisper.
"Oh yes, it is," Swan snapped, pointing to me. "I'll have a restraining order put out on you. You won't be able to come within fifty feet of her."
"You can't, Dad," Bella sighed and sniffled at the same time. "I'm eighteen."
"You're still under my roof, and if I don't want someone near you, then Secret Service must follow those orders," he argued belligerently.
Banner sighed, looking to me. "That part's true. Edward, go ahead and get your things."
I caught Carmen's eye just before she rolled it when Swan yelled, "If that asshole comes anywhere near my daughter, shoot him."
But Bella'd had enough. She rounded on her father, her eyes matching his blazing dark ones. "No. You'll leave him alone. You remember how to do that, right? You've certainly done it enough to me over the years. You and Mom..."
"You're lucky you're mother isn't here to see this."
"Yeah, real lucky, Dad. Neither of you are ever here."
"So that's what this is about? Bella, you've been given more opportunity than most kids."
Most of us started to clear the room, but Bella started to follow me.
"Isabella, this conversation isn't over," Charlie yelled.
"It is for now."
We got to the hallway, and I turned to face her. "Love, do not make waves with your father. Understand me?"
"But you're leaving me!" she hissed back, and the tears and emotions that she been fighting broke free.
Tears coursed down her face, and I pulled her to me. "I'll never, ever fucking leave you. Remember that promise, Bella." I bent to her ear. "I love you...so damn much. That won't change. I swear to you. Look at me and tell me you know that."
"I love you, Edward," she sobbed into my shirt. When she pulled back, nodding and swiping at her tears, her words stumbled out of her. "When will we...how will I...I don't want you to go!"
"You'll know, sweet girl. We just...have to be apart for a bit, okay?" I held her face in my hands until she nodded. "Now, what's that promise you made me on your birthday?"
She sniffled, licking her lips, and sighed, "That I trusted you, and that I know that you love me and being away from me won't change that. You knew this would happen."
Taking a deep breath, I let it out, dropping a kiss to her forehead. "It was always a possibility, Bella. Always. Wait for me, love."
She nodded, but rolled her eyes when Charlie called her back into the living room. I quickly packed my things, shouldered my bag, and left the house. I couldn't look back; the urge to run away with her was way too fucking strong.
May 25, 2014
"I'm supposed to shoot you, you know," Carmen muttered sarcastically from behind the pole on which I was leaning.
I chuckled, giving the mall a long slow gaze. "Yeah, I'm sure that order is still in effect."
"No, not really." She snorted, rolling on her shoulder until she was standing next to me. "Actually, Swan would give just about anything for his daughter to stop being mad at him. The wife, however, is worried."
I glanced down at Carmen. "Why?"
"It seems you made a decent impression on her mom. She likes you. She's upset that you two went so far, but she kinda gets it. She's the only thing keeping Swan in check. That...and well, the fact that those two are never around."
Nodding, I understood that, though the support from Renee was a shock to me. "How is she?"
"Cried for a month after you left. Broke my heart, really. She's a sweet girl." She chuckled. "How'd you get a message to her?"
I grinned. "She told you?"
"No, but I could tell by that silly-ass smile on her face that she'd heard from you. And I'm damn sure her little friend visiting from Seattle knows all about it."
"Random email. Words with Friends," I told her, shifting my prop backpack and grinning she laughed.
"Fine, fine. You'll have about an hour with her, Cullen. That's about all I can probably give you. But if you're gonna do this, the window of opportunity is now."
She stepped away at the same time that Bella and Jessica walked out of the store they'd been shopping in. Jessica gave Bella a glance, pointing toward the restrooms across the way. Bella pointed to a set of elevators. They were splitting up on Zafrina and Carmen on purpose. Carmen ordered Zafrina to watch Jessica, while I made my move toward the elevator. Carmen specifically moved slow, Bella moved too fast, but I slipped into the elevator just before the doors closed us in. Alone.
"Bella," I breathed, suddenly able to feel my heart beating again.
"Edward!" she gasped, launching herself into my arms. "I thought...you said..."
I kissed her hard, but briefly, whispering, "Shh, not here. Just wait."
She nodded, but wrapped her arms completely around me as I punched a different level on the elevator. I couldn't help but kiss the top of her head, inhaling the scent that I'd missed the last two months.
"Love, do you trust me?" I asked her just before the elevators opened.
"Of course," she scoffed.
"Good, 'cause we won't have long, but I really needed to see you," I told her, linking our fingers together and tugging her out into the open.
With a couple of turns and a few stairs, I loaded her onto the next rail car. Once we fell down into a seat side by side along the window, we both glanced behind us. So far, the coast was clear. There were a few people in the seats up front, but no one around us. As soon as the railcar's doors slid closed, I turned and kissed the absolute living shit out of her.
Weaving my hands into her hair, I claimed her mouth, my tongue slipping alongside hers. Moaning at just how much I'd missed her, I cupped her face, pulling back to look her in the eye.
"Fuck, I've missed you," I sighed, dropping my forehead to hers and closing my eyes.
"I love you," she vowed over and over, covering my face in kisses until I chuckled. She grinned, biting her bottom lip. But her smile fell quickly. "Edward, I—"
"Wait. I know. We have to talk. Just not here. Not yet. Let me look at you, okay?" I pleaded, leaning my head back to the window and just gazing at my beautiful girl. Reaching up, I toyed with a lock of her hair.
It had been a long fucking two months without her. I'd been given temporary guard duties on visiting dignitaries, but nothing major. Banner had reassigned Leah to the U.S. Treasury to sort out fake money. Mike Newton was now unemployed. He wasn't even offered pension or the chance to retire. He was, however, punched repeatedly just outside a bar near his house. He hadn't call the police, and my knuckles were still sore.
The train came to the next stop, and I stood us up, linking our fingers together. Another set of stairs, and two blocks later, we entered a hotel, and I guided her straight to the elevator.
Once inside the room ten stories up, I smiled when Bella launched herself at me again. Scooping her up, I dropped her into the middle of the bed.
"Love, stop. We can't. Believe me, I want to, but we don't have time," I told her, but failed keeping my lips from hers.
We melted together, hands everywhere and legs tangling. Instantly, I was hard for her, which wasn't a surprise; she'd always made me that way.
"Bella," I panted, my eyes squeezing closed.
"Edward, please, I've missed you so much."
"I know, love. Me, too, but we really don't have time," I explained, sitting up and bringing her with me so that we stayed eye to eye.
I shrugged out of my backpack, but Bella gripped my shirt.
"Edward, you don't understand. I'm leaving in like three weeks," she urged, her eyes frantic.
"Harvard. I know," I told her with a smile. "Congratulations, Snow White."
"But early," she said, looking at me like I was going to disappear into a puff of smoke.
"I know, Bella," I said with a chuckle. "Summer courses. Would you please relax?"
My girl sagged in defeat and into an adorable pout as I rummaged around in my bag.
"I had to get out of that house, Edward," she murmured. "But it's Boston. We'll be even farther apart."
"That's why I stole you away, Bella," I told her, handing her an envelope. "I needed to show you this. I needed to make sure that you know I'd kept my promise, too, love."
She eyed the envelope, but a slow smile curled up on her lips. "Really?!" she squealed, crawling up into my lap. I welcomed her with open arms, and heavy kisses.
"Look at me, love," I told her. "Just a bit longer. Can you hang in there for me?"
She nodded, grinning beautifully. "I love you."
"Love you, too, Bella," I sighed, wanting to kiss her, but my phone went off, making us jump. "I hate this shit, but we gotta get you back."
She nodded reluctantly, but allowed me to stand us up. Immediately – like damn magnets – we were back in each other's arms, lips connecting, teeth colliding, and tongues meshing. I couldn't, however, ignore the second ring of my phone.
September 2, 2014
Hitching my backpack up higher onto my shoulder, my eyes scanned the room. Smirking when I caught Carmen's gaze at the door, I stepped into the classroom. She shook her head at me, rolling her eyes, but then jerked her chin toward the side aisle of seats. Zafrina chuckled at me, but said nothing, because there was nothing they could do anymore. Charlie Swan's restrictions had evaporated the moment the two agents moved Bella to Boston.
Thanks to my mother for pulling some strings, I'd been able to follow my girl. My parents were actually happy that school had become a priority again.
I slowly slid into the seat next to the stunning brunette currently doodling on her notebook. She grinned, her cheeks blushing a sweet pink, before meeting my gaze.
"Hey," she sighed, biting down on the bottom lip.
"Hey yourself," I said, just taking her in. "How were summer classes?"
"Boring," she answered immediately, leaning on her hand and letting her eyes rake all over me. "But this new fall term looks...interesting."
Laughing softly, I shook my head. "Not just fall, love."
Her smile was slow, warm, and sexy and held amazing promises for the next time we were alone, but also for our future in general.
"I'm looking forward to it, Edward."
I picked up her hand as students filed in around us. Kissing her knuckles, I said, "Me, too, Bella."
A/N: That's it, guys. We want to thank everyone for joining us on this quick ride. Another big smooch from us both to Bethany for her birthday and a huge thanks for all the work that she does for us. We'll see you tomorrow for IP's update. Until then... Mooches, Deb. :)