Thank you so much to everyone who has read and reviewed. I am so glad that the response has been mostly positive to this story, and although this chapter is mostly fillerish, I hope the break in tension is welcome. Thank you to guests Araisen and Grimfwaters for reviewing
For a moment, I felt a wave of overwhelming relief. He was dead. He'd never come after my family again…but immediately I remembered the other issue. My mother. Why hadn't he even mentioned my mother!? "What about my mom?" I choked out, gripping Edward's sleeve. Edward put an arm around me, rubbing my shoulder and returning to his phone.
"Let me ask him." He murmured in the back of the cab, and I felt my heart start to race. If Jasper hadn't even mentioned her…what if he didn't want to tell me? Or what if they wanted to tell me in person? The cab driver glanced back at me and I rested my head against Edward's shoulder, closing my eyes.
Edward let out a breath suddenly, and I jerked upright, desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the screen. He turned it, showing me the words his brother had typed. 'Oh she wasn't with him…he was lying.'I felt myself slump against Edward once more, this time in relief, and he put his other arm around me, kissing my hair and grumbling something about Jasper and word choice.
"She's safe." I whispered, feeling my eyes burn. "He didn't have my mom…"
"Shh, it's okay." He told me softly, rocking me back and forth. "He didn't hurt your mom. It's okay, love. She's safe. She was never in any danger. He was just trying to get to you." If the cab driver was concerned at the suddenly sobbing girl in his back seat, he didn't say anything. Edward continued to rock me back and forth in the back of the small car for a long time as hot tears trailed down my cheeks, my fists clutched in his shirt. Closing my eyes, I leaned against him completely, and the next thing I knew, I was being shaken awake gently, his hand on my cheek. "Bella? We're here, love. Wake up."
I didn't remember falling asleep, but the cab driver was turned in his seat, looking at me expectantly. I must have missed what he said, because he spoke again in a language I didn't understand, and Edward responded, holding my hand and helping me out of the cramped back seat. Still strangely tired, I stumbled along, my eyes mostly closed, and Edward guided me gently along, and was speaking to someone in a foreign language once more. There was soft laughter and a fountain nearby…that was all I really registered before I was scooped up into his arms where I fell asleep once more, my body finally able to relax after worrying for what felt like days.
"What have you got?" I grinned over at Jasper who sat beside me in the stolen car as we made our way back to the airport. He'd called shotgun, making Rosalie roll her eyes, but she'd gone along with it. Everyone was in high spirits now that James was taken care of…too bad about that ballet studio though. I wondered how much pestering it would take to get Bella to dance for us…
"Nothing." I told my brother, who rolled his eyes, then shot a hand out, grabbing at my coat. Carlisle sighed behind us, chuckling a little when I batted my brother away none too gently. "Just go back to texting Edward. Quit! Jasper!"
"Do you two mind?" Alice snorted from the back seat, and Jasper finally managed to rip the side of my jacket, grabbing the tape I'd stashed there.
"Jazz! Easy!" Jasper chuckled, looking at the front of the tape.
"Hey, I bought him that!" Rosalie snapped, kicking his chair, and Alice elbowed her with a laugh.
"I'll replace it." His wife promised.
"You saved it?" He asked with a grin, reading the front. "Bella's first recital." I shrugged, laughing quietly, and saw Carlisle smile softly in the rearview mirror.
"Though she might want to see it…"
"You wanted to tease her." He argued.
"Hey! Blackmail is all part of being in the family." Rosalie kicked my seat and I snorted. "We barely got to watch any of it!"
"Emmett." Carlisle's warning was more of an amused sigh, and I grinned innocently at our father in the rearview mirror.
"You need some videos of our little sister! Catch up on her childhood and all that. We'll watch it at the hotel. Maybe we can snoop in her mom's house…find some photo albums."
"I'm sure she'll love that." Our father said with some amusement, putting an arm around Esme. "Have you got the tickets, Jasper?" He asked, and my brother nodded. Our plans had changed several times on the way back from the ballet studio, and we'd finally settled on sending Alice and Jasper back to the house to check on the reservation, and Carlisle would join them in about a week. In the mean time, Rosalie, Esme, and I would be keeping an eye on Bella, and all of us, minus Edward, would be starting the search for Victoria. Edward would just be focusing on Bella, and keeping her happy and calm. She needed to rest after everything she'd been through….Carlisle was worried about all the stress that had been put on her. Not to mention her mother…Alice worried that she wouldn't be able to catch Victoria if she went after her.
I glanced in the rearview mirror at our father who met my eyes. Would he want to negotiate with her? Did he think the woman could be reasoned with? I hoped not…I wanted to kill her. She'd tried to hurt my sister…to hurt all of us. She wouldn't survive this if I had anything to say about it. All of us wanted her dead…surely Carlisle would listen to us. Especially if Esme was on our side.
"Why Bora Bora?" Esme wondered from the back seat, and Alice smiled from where she was crammed in next to Rosalie by the window.
"Edward just bought a bunch of tickets to random places and had her choose blindly. He wanted to make it as hard as possible for Victoria to find them." I nodded. I hated thinking about the possibility of the monster's mate finding my brother and sister before we could get there. Jasper glanced over at me, obviously feeling my surge of worry and anger at the very idea, and the feelings were immediately replaced with relief and calm. I managed a smile at my brother before focusing on the road to the airport once more. We just needed to drop off this car and get on the plane.
We all stood together in the airport after leaving the car where we'd found it in the garage. Thankfully it hadn't even been missed. Jasper and Alice were both hugged by Esme and Carlisle who cautioned them to be careful and to call if they needed anything. "It's going to be fine. I don't see her anywhere near the reservation, but I'll call Billy anyway and let him know that Bella is safe." Alice told them with a peaceful smile, probably looking forward to some alone time with Jasper. Honestly, the thought of having a nice, private hotel room with Rosalie wasn't sounding too bad either. I grabbed Alice in a bear hug at the last minute, trying to surprise her, but she only laughed, wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing my cheek.
"Be good. Don't tease Bella." She warned, and I dropped her, watching with a laugh as she landed easily on her toes. Jasper touched my shoulder and nodded, effectively stepping back when I went to hug him as well. I rolled my eyes, reaching out and ruffling his hair.
"You two be careful." I told them, seriously for a moment. "Just call us if you find Victoria…we'll be out there as soon as we can."
"Alice will see before anything happens. We'll be fine." Jasper told me peacefully, his arm finding its way around Alice's shoulders. "Bye Rose. Carlisle. Esme. See you, Em. Tell Bella hello for us." And with a final wave, Jasper and Alice left us in the airport, heading out to the parking garage to find a ride home. I had to wonder if they planned on stealing a car, or if they'd already made arrangements. Regardless, I put the question out of my mind, dropping the video tape of Bella into a suitcase that Carlisle had apparently bought at the airport shop, and pulled the ticket Jasper had given me out of my pocket. Thankfully, we were flying first class, but that didn't make the idea of cramming myself into an airplane with a hundred humans any more appealing. Rosalie took my hand, kissing my cheek suddenly as she pulled me along, and I chuckled, following her lead and resisting the urge to partake in some PDA in the airport. We had plenty of time for that later.
The flight was long. Even I had to admit, it was uncomfortable to be trapped in a small container with so many humans for such a long time…then again, I was also anxious to see my son and daughter again…to ensure that they were safe. Poor Bella had been through so much. She'd looked terrible when we'd parted at the airport, and Jasper and Alice had told me that she'd been sick only hours before. Barely able to sleep for fear of what would happen to her mother or to us, and unable to keep food down, it was no wonder she'd looked like a zombie. Still, she'd been terrified when she'd said goodbye, only to be pulled away by Edward and whisked off to an unknown place in the middle of the night…or morning for her. I hoped she could get some good rest and eat. The stress was making her ill, and she needed some time to recover. Not to mention, the worry over her mother. I was just grateful that James had been lying, as furious as I was that he'd done such a thing to lure her away from us. And it had nearly worked.
We touched down soon enough, and were among the first to get off the plane, thanks to our first class tickets. We were all glad to be off of the plane and out in the fresh air, and took a moment outside of the airport under the shade of an awning to enjoy the clean air of Bora Bora, one of the most expensive vacation spots in the world. Edward, of course, had booked us all suites in a first class hotel, each on the top floor with private balconies and access to a pool for Bella, the ocean for the rest of us. It would be nice to take a few days and just relax while starting the search for Victoria. Hopefully Bella would enjoy a little vacation. Actually, she and Edward were welcome to stay for as long as they liked.
Emmett held his phone to his ear as I lifted my hand to hail a cab. It was surprisingly cloudy outside, but Alice had already warned us that we only had about two hours before it cleared up. Bella and Edward had been here for a few hours, and I hoped to find her sleeping comfortably in a nice bed with food waiting for her. If I knew Edward, that was exactly how we would find her. We all managed to squeeze into one cab comfortably enough for us…not so much for the poor driver who eyed Emmett, who sat in the front seat, nervously at twenty-second intervals. I knew it must look strange to see four inhuman looking people travelling together like this, especially with Emmett, who was large and dangerous looking…but I planned to tip him extra and hope he forgot all about us by the time his day was over. I chatted with him easily in Tahitian, which was obviously his native language, but occasionally he would switch to French and I switched with him easily enough. We all had a good command of both languages, except for Emmett whose French was just passable, and Tahitian nonexistent.
"My son neglects his studies, but the rest of us have come here often enough to communicate. He tends to stick with English." I explained, making my speech awkward and a bit broken when he asked how we knew the language.
He chuckled, glancing over at Emmett once more who only smiled a bit, looking wary and confused. Esme laughed softly, touching our son's arm, and even Rosalie smiled, shaking her head a bit. When he finally dropped us off at the hotel and I'd handed him a large bill and told him in his language to keep the change, I was confident that he would remember us only as the friendly tourists with the son that couldn't speak the language like a typical American.
The hotel was actually quite small, with several huts that were spread out across the beach. The main resort was only three stories, with private balconies on the top floor rooms where we would be staying. Emmett threw an arm around Rosalie as we approached the building, and I pulled out my wallet to show my ID, and gave the name for our reservations to the young woman sitting behind the desk who stood to greet us. If we made her nervous, she didn't show it, and she beckoned for a boy in an old fashioned hotel uniform to step forward and lead us to our rooms. Although we only had two suitcases, he insisted on taking them, and I pulled out a fifty to tip him.
As soon as we'd dropped off our bag in our room, I hurried over to the door where I could catch the scent of my other son, and found Emmett and Rosalie waiting for us there. With a small smile, I tapped on the door, and Edward's soft voice invited me in. As soon as I was in the door, Edward put his arms around me in a rare show of physical affection, his hands locking around my neck like a child, and I pulled him close, patting his back as Esme stepped forward, her lips against his hair. "Thank you." His soft-spoken words were packed with emotion, and I nodded, speaking aloud even if there was no need.
"You do not need to thank us, Edward, and you know that. We love you and Bella….we would never let anything harm either of you." He nodded against my shoulder, giving me a brief smile, then chuckling softly when Emmett pulled him into a bear hug. As he was greeted by Emmett and Rose, I made my way over to the small room off of the side of the luxurious resort bedroom, immediately finding a large bed and huge, open windows that let in warm sunlight and a slight breeze. A fan in the corner of the room regulated the temperature, and was set so that it blew only in the direction of the bed. In the giant, canopied bed, covered with mosquito netting to keep bugs off of her, was Bella; sound asleep in a pair of new smelling pajamas with only a sheet covering her. Folded at the foot of the bed was a white quilt, and I assumed it was there just in case Bella got cold in the night. She slept deeply, not speaking or stirring when I approached the bed, and only sighed a little when I sat down, touching her forehead.
"How long?" I wondered quietly.
"A few hours." The others came to stand in the doorway, and Edward joined me on the bed, stroking her hair gently from her face. "She hasn't even been talking…she was exhausted. She didn't look around the room…she just managed to change and fall into bed." I nodded, resting a hand against her forehead for a moment.
"No fever, thankfully. She may be a little dehydrated, but nothing to worry about. We'll let her sleep until she wakes up, and then make her something to eat." I leaned over, kissing her hair quickly, then let Esme do the same before we left them alone, shutting their door behind me and heading to my own room. As soon as Esme had shut the door, I had my arms around her, managing to lock the door and, picking her up in my arms, her legs locking around my waist, I backed up to the bed. This vacation wasn't just for Bella.
It was cold….no, not quite cold. Just not warm anymore. I curled up on my side, trying to pull the thin sheet around me more tightly, the feel of silk against my skin both luxurious and useless against the chill. After a moment, something a little heavier settled over me, and I was wrapped in warmth once more. I tried to thank whoever had covered me, but I was so tired…it came out as a mumble, and a soft chuckle reached my ears just as someone wrapped me in their arms, a kiss pressed against the side of my head. I managed to smile a bit and move closer to them before dropping off once more.
I dreamed about running…running through an airport, desperate to find something…someone…I tried to cry out for them, for anyone to help me. In the strange way of dreams, it didn't matter that I didn't know exactly what I was looking for. A gentle hand moved back and forth against my shoulders and back, mumbling reassurances to me, and I let myself be comforted. The only person that held me in my sleep was Edward…surely I was safe with him. My dream faded away, seeming to vanish, and was replaced with the sound of waves and comfort.
When I finally woke, it was to light touching my eyes. I rolled over, awake, but still a little tired and wanting to keep resting, and snuggled my head against a hard, familiar chest. "Are you awake?" Edward asked, rubbing my back, and I hummed, unsure of the answer myself. "You were so tired…you can keep sleeping if you want." He sounded a little concerned and I moved closer to him.
This wasn't my bed…this wasn't any bed I was familiar with. That thought alone made me open my eyes, and I found myself looking at a net and white curtains. "What?" I asked, glancing around at what looked to be a canopy bed.
"We're at a hotel in Bora Bora." Edward told me, rubbing my back and smiling softly. "Do you remember what happened?" It took me a long moment to try and remember what exactly he was talking about, and then it hit me…James and Victoria. My mom…the ballet studio. Jasper at the airport….and then the text.
"He didn't have my mom." He kissed my forehead with a gentle smile at my relieved tone, holding me more tightly. "They killed him…what about the girl?" I asked, looking up at him as he placed his head in his hand, resting on his elbow to look down at me.
"We're going to find her. Don't worry…that's part of why we're here. I made sure we weren't followed, and Emmett, Rose, Carlisle, and Esme are all here too…Jasper and Alice decided to go back to the house to check on the reservation and start searching for her."
"We haven't contacted her, but according to Alice, she's fine…Victoria hasn't gone near her. Alice is watching…she's pretty sure that she'll catch it if Victoria goes after your mother, but it would help if you called her…maybe even made plans…intertwined her future with yours somehow." I nodded…I was anxious to speak with my mother. But before I could ask for a cellphone…or where my things were, my stomach growled angrily. Lifting an eyebrow, Edward glanced down at my stomach, and I felt my cheeks redden. "Let's get you something to eat first, and then we'll get you a phone to call your mom, okay?" I nodded, ravenously hungry for some reason.
"How long did I sleep?"
"Nearly a whole day…the sun's just coming up. It's only 6:30…you don't have to get up yet." I sat up, looking down at my clothing and the silk sheets, impressed despite myself. "I bought them at the airport…I thought you would want something comfortable to sleep in."
"Did…did I change…?" I asked, my cheeks turning pink despite myself, and he snorted, standing and holding out a hand to me, then pulled me up so that I was standing in front of him.
"Yes, you changed yourself." He informed me, catching me when I, of course, stumbled a bit upon standing. My eyes widened in surprise when my feet touched the strange, mat floors, and I looked around the room properly for the first time, reminded of the Cullen's house by all of the white and beige tones, the sparse, modern but comfortable furniture, and the vase of brightly colored flowers on one table. "The kitchen is right through here." He told me pointing to the doorway where he began to back away. "Rosalie got you some clothes and everything else you should need…they're in a suitcase in the bathroom. Come out whenever you're ready." With one last kiss to the top of my head, he was gone, and I found myself alone in the beautiful room with an amazing view of the ocean that I suddenly noticed. Walking out to the balcony, I noticed the high walls on either side, creating a small, private space with two thickly cushioned lounge chairs and a few towels folded on a corner table. Leaning forward onto the wooden railing, I watched for a minute as the sun peeked over the ocean.
"Nice, huh?" I jumped in surprise, whirling around, and was only saved from falling into the chair by two thick, cold arms around me, followed by a deep chuckle. "Hey, kid." In the next second, I was throwing my arms around my big brother, comforted once more. I'd known that he was okay…the thought of anyone actually doing any damage to Emmett was almost laughable. But it was a relief to see him…to actually put my arms around him. He returned the hug, lifting me a little. "It's good to see you too. So what do you think? It's pretty nice…haven't been here before?"
"I'm glad you're okay." I whispered instead of answering, knowing that I was being stupid but not caring.
"Of course I'm okay." He laughed, ruffling my hair and turning us toward the sunrise, his arm heavy and comforting around my shoulder.
"It's beautiful." I finally answered, leaning my head against his shoulder. He held me against his side and was quiet for a long moment. After a minute, I looked up and found him looking down at me, a strange look on his face.
"I'm sorry about all this." He told me suddenly, looking truly sad for a moment. It wasn't like him…Emmett was the least serious of all of them, and I forced a smile.
"Hey, it's all worth it if this is where we're hiding." He chuckled, ruffling my hair once more.
"Come on. You'd better get dressed…Edward's getting worried, and you need to eat something."
"What about you?"
"Edward's gonna go to the Australia later to hunt…I think Australia's the closest...we'll take turns going this week." He told me with a shrug as he pushed me back towards the door and leapt on top of the wall dividing our balcony from what I assumed was his. "See you later."
I didn't wait for him to leap over to his balcony. Instead, I shut the sliding glass door, heading into the bathroom where I found a huge shower that took up an entire corner of the room, with more shower heads than I could count. Turning them all on, I closed my eyes, letting the hot water pound against my body and wake me up fully. After what felt like an hour of just enjoying the hot water, there was a knock on the bathroom door. "Bella? Are you okay?" Suddenly I realized that I should probably wash my hair…and maybe shave.
"Yeah…sorry. This shower is amazing!" He chuckled, and I heard his footsteps fade and then heard other faint voices. Suddenly remembering that Carlisle and Esme were here too, I hurriedly washed up and reluctantly shut off the shower, wrapping my hair in a towel and drying off. Quickly finding jeans and a blouse in the suitcase, I dressed, not paying much attention to the clothes, and headed to the kitchen.
I had barely stepped out of the bathroom when I found myself in Esme's arms, her lips against my hair as she held me close. I squeezed her as tightly as I could, knowing it wouldn't hurt, and she rocked me back and forth. It was like being held by my mother…only better. As much as I loved my own mother, I also loved Esme…already she'd done a better job at taking care of me and making me feel safe and loved than my own family. After a moment, another pair of arms came around us, and I bit the inside of my lip as I recognized Carlisle. My mom and dad were here…they were safe and they'd made sure I was safe and everything was okay.
"Good morning, sweetheart." Esme greeted, pulling away and smoothing my hair. My relief was so strong it almost choked me…I had tried so hard not to think about my mother and father in danger…it suddenly hit me what they'd been doing while they were away…while I was sleeping on an airplane with Edward.
"We're fine, Bella." Carlisle assured me, putting a hand on my shoulder and guiding me over to the counter where Edward was already sitting, an omelet sitting on a plate complete with juice and a bowl of perfectly cubed fruit that looked like an advertisement for the perfect breakfast. "You need to eat something. And drink something…you've been asleep for a long time." He steered me to the counter, then provided an arm up onto the barstool. While I sat, looking for a moment at the food and taking a long drink of orange juice, they moved to the other side of the counter, pulling up stools to sit across from us. Although Edward didn't take my hand or interfere with my ability to eat, he did move closer, his shoulder touching mine, his knee against mine, and I wondered what he'd done while I'd slept for a whole day.
"It looks like Edward found us the nicest hotel on the island." Esme remarked with a smile, looking around the beautiful kitchen, equipped with some of the most state of the art amenities and appliances I'd ever seen, but also sparse and simple, making the room look bigger and more inviting. There was a dining table in another room, and off of the kitchen was a huge living room complete with sofas, a television that hung on the wall, and a few small tables.
"It's beautiful." I agreed, noticing a phone on one of the tables and reminding myself once more to call my mother soon. I wondered if Jasper and Alice would be going to follow her and keep her safe, or if we would invite her here. I was sure my mother could use a vacation, and surely Phil would enjoy himself. We could get them a room here…at least then we'd know they were safe.
"There's plenty to do here…swimming, the beach, snorkeling, if you're interested. On the main island, there are more restaurants and shops. You can get some more clothes." Carlisle informed me as I swallowed a bite of omelet.
"But…isn't it sunny out? I mean…can you guys…"
"We can't go out in public during the day, no. That is where the private balconies are useful. We don't often vacation unless we go to our own private islands." He chuckled when my eyes widened. "We only have two…the one I gave Esme as an anniversary gift and one that Alice bought. Both have plenty of room and houses for us to stay in, and we can use the beach and go hiking in the forests. We enjoy them…but Edward thought it would be best to hide you somewhere more public. If you wish to go swimming or to the beach during the day, you can go alone. We will be keeping an eye on you…we can get to you quickly from here if we need to. Otherwise, we'll all go at night. There are several shops and restaurants open all night here." I nodded…that sounded fine to me.
"And my mom?" He hesitated, seeming to think for a moment.
"We were going to leave that, in part, to you." He answered carefully, glancing at Esme. "Originally we were going to have you call her and maybe make future plans. However, it might be best to have her join us." I nodded. However I felt about spending time with my mother…especially since I hadn't seen her since my father…regardless, my mom would be safer if she was here, a family of vampires ready to protect her.
"I'll invite her." I told him simply. He nodded, reaching out and taking my hand.
"I believe that's best." Edward put an arm around me, pulling me gently to his side, and Carlisle squeezed my hand. "If you'll call her, I'll speak to her and arrange her flight." Nodding, I took another bite of my omelet, trying not to dwell too hard on the fact that my mother would be living in the same building as me, my new family, and my boyfriend…all of whom were vampires…along with her new husband. What could possibly go wrong?
Thank you all for reading! I hope you enjoyed the chapter.
**A quick side note**
I am beta-ing a story for Pixiestick-cc called 'Finding the Light,' a sequal to 'Beyond the Darkness.' They are both wonderful stories, and I favorited her long before I started helping with her stories. Her writing is just getting better and better, and the story is really fantastic. It is a Jasper/Bella story, which is something I never read, but her summary drew me in, and I cannot recommend these stories enough. Please, everyone go and read them! And then review and tell her how wonderful they are. Seriously. They're good!