Pre-Edit Count: 5,325 words
Song I listened to for this chapter: Anthem of the Angels by Breaking Benjamin
After her declaration of her willingness to have them join her, Bella invites Alice and Edward inside as she gathers her things. She hesitates over her phone, not wanting to have to deal with Jacob if he calls back. Which, going by all the missed calls and texts she sees, is a very real possibility.
Noticing her hesitation, Edward glances over at her and asks, “Is there something wrong, Bella?” He knows she is trying to figure out whether she should take her phone or not, but she does not know they are aware of her issues with Jake, whoever Jake is. He is also surprised that her heart is still racing from the call earlier. Who is this Jake and why is she reacting like this? The only time Edward has ever heard of this phenomenon happening is when someone is either aroused or scared.
Bella looks up at him and can see the worry in his golden eyes. When did they go gold? She thinks and realizes that she needs to take the phone, running obviously hasn’t worked; Jacob is still in her life. She will just have to deal with him. Who knows, maybe Seth can make it up here.
Bella grabs her phone and tells them, “Nothing is wrong, well…” Bella stops herself from saying anything. Why is it so easy to open up to these people? I just met them! She finds herself wondering if she is finally breaking; if all that has happened since she moved to Washington is finally catching up to her.
She covers up her slip of the tongue by telling them, “Umm… well, you see I received an inheritance. That’s how I have this house. One of the provisions for keeping it is I have to pick out a new vehicle. A Mercedes.”
Alice and Edward can hear the reluctance clearly in her voice and both work to hide their grins. There is a reason she is getting one of those.
As soon as Bella gets her thoughts together, she continues, “Is there any way you guys can take me there? If not, then I will just drive myself and try to figure out how to get my truck back here.” Word vomit anyone? But at least she covered the hesitation, she hopes.
Alice smiles, the visions are coming more quickly since she is looking and the outcomes are becoming more positive. But, tonight is still not visible to her and Alice will not be happy until she figures out what is blocking her view of Bella. If she can’t track it down, she will be forced to call Carlisle. Bella is just too important to risk. Alice is determined that Bella will not be harmed and, in fact, she has already exposed Edward to her just to protect Bella better. Then she gets a vision of her, Edward, and Bella laughing together and it is hazy, but it looks like it could be today! Everything in her yearns for this, she will do what she can to encourage this vision, she wants her sister whom she has seen for the last 23 years! But Alice takes a deep breath and calms herself down. She catches Edward’s eyes, realizing he saw the same thing and it makes him just as happy. She answers Bella’s question, “Sure! Edward can drive us both. I would drive, but my Porsche can only hold 2 comfortably. Plus his has more room for shopping.” The pixie grins mischievously as she hears Edward groan. Teach you to snoop!
Bella can’t help it. These two could make a dead person laugh, much less her. Her peals of laughter ring out in her house, the first time it has heard such a joyful sound. It is the first time in a long time anyone has heard her genuine laughter in a very long time, in fact.
Edward and Alice smile; Bella’s laugh is a joy to hear, and looking at her face, he has a feeling that she hasn’t laughed in a long time. Such a shame, it is a wonderful, musical laugh. Carlisle will enjoy listening to that for the rest of their lives.
Alice walks over to her and loops her arm through Bella’s, enjoying the carefree moment. As Bella calms down, she imperiously declares, “Come, I can promise that we will have a blast, today. While Edward isn’t Rose, he knows quite a bit about cars. He should be able to help,” she glances at Edward and he smirks.
Bella looks down at the sprite next to her, “Rose knows about cars?” Rose, the beautiful woman? The Woman’s woman? The one who is so perfect knows about cars? What type of world is this? Next someone will tell her that her fascination, her guilty secret obsession is real! That would mean werewolves, unicorns and sprites are real too! Though Alice did remind one of a fairy…
Edward chuckles, well aware of Bella’s shock, everyone is shocked when they find out about Rose’s passion. “You could say it’s a hobby of hers. She is the one who maintains and upgrades our vehicles.” And she will be the one who will be maintaining your vehicle. He knows Rose wants to get her hands on Bella’s truck. She believes she can fix it up and both she and Emmett are looking forward to it.
Bella thinks for a second, Should I invite her along? I like her, but maybe she will be bored. God knows there are probably more interesting things to do than help me buy a car. Then she decides what the hell. She knows tonight is going to be bad, she just has a bad feeling. So why not have fun? And since her instincts had warned her away from Jacob and she didn’t listen, now she sees where that lead her, this mockery of a life she is leading. She needs to trust her instincts more, like she used to.
Bella looks up and asks, “Do you think Rose will come with us? I want to make sure I pick out something that will last. And to be frank, I’m quite nervous. I have never shopped for a vehicle before, and to make it worse, I am going to a Mercedes dealership. I honestly am… intimidated.” She fidgets some as she waits for them to answer. She hasn’t put herself out there like this for a long time.
Alice goes still as her visions change. Edward freezes as well. Then, they look at each other, amazed. Bella’s decision makes tonight safer for her as well as makes the future so much easier. She is beginning to trust them sooner than they thought she would. They look back at her and grin. She answers their grin with her own, but it is questioning, as if she is not sure why they are grinning at her.
Then Edward realizes what has changed and glances at Alice telling her in a voice that Bella can’t hear, “It is because of the phone call. She is really scared of what is going to happen tonight.” He can still hear her heart beating faster than it should, even with her laughing. Laughter is normally a stress reliever but it did not help at all. He is more aware of her heart than anyone else will be, other than Carlisle. Alice’s plan to get him used to Bella’s scent has helped, but he finds that thinking of her as his sister, and hopefully his best friend is helping as well.
Alice nods and answers Bella, “I am sure she will have no problem. Carlisle loves Mercedes, so she is well versed in them. Why don’t we head on over and ask her? We need to pick up Edward’s car anyway.” She is trying to keep her expression from showing how happy she truly is. This may be a way to change tonight’s results.
Bella looks down at her phone, and with a sigh, puts it in her back pocket. If Jacob calls, she will deal with it. She hopes he doesn’t, but with her history with him, he seems to always ruin her days. And now that he is getting even more possessive than he used to be? She knows that it will be worse.
Bella and Alice head to the door as Edward moves past them to open it.
Bella stops and looks at the alarm system as a random thought crosses her mind. Even though she is going out, Seth’s warning replays in her head, you have an alarm on that house right? Set it and do not open the door. She unhooks her arm from Alice’s and heads back to the kitchen.
Alice is shocked that Bella has stopped and is now heading back further into the house. No! She needs to go out with us! Realizing she needs to take a second and calm herself, Alice closes her eyes. When she opens them again she looks at Bella and asks, “Bella?”
Bella comes back into the room with a piece of paper in her hand, “I need to set the alarm, and this will be the first time.” She is embarrassed, she wishes that the realtor had told her how to set the alarm instead of just leaving instructions. For that matter she wishes she had taken the time last night to try it!
Hearing her heart rate accelerate, Edward moves toward her, testing his control; he needs to help calm her down! When he finds that his worry over her supersedes his thirst, he relaxes a little bit. Alice’s plan of exposing me to her scent, and letting me learn of all that will come out of this if I can control my thirst, all this time is helping! Edward stands close to her and informs her, “I can help; it’s the same model as our house and the one in Alaska.” He moves closer, careful to watch his control, to her side and asks, “Do you have the code?” He can hear Alice cheering in her mind and he smiles.
Bella looks at him, noticing that his smile lightens the moodiness she senses from him, and nods as she reads the paper. Her head tilts to the side and her teeth worry her bottom lip, she can just hear her dad’s voice ask if she really trusts them enough to know the code, and she realizes she does. She trusts these strange people far more than she has ever trusted Jacob. Even when he was just Jake. Then she looks up at Alice and Edward and realizes that she is already letting them in. In for a penny, in for a pound. Her subconscious picks that moment to remind her she hasn’t told them about Jacob. I will… later.
Bella and Edward work on the alarm, he slowly moves closer to her as he teaches her how to use it and the extra features. When they start in on the extra features, Bella pointedly asks how to drop the steel shades. He glances at her, his worry showing more, but shows her how to activate them without asking why. Soon they are ready to activate it and he asks her, “You ready? I can set this after you walk out the door, that way you don’t have to worry.” He doesn’t want her hurt, if she falls and cuts herself, it may destroy the faith she is showing if he can’t control himself.
Bella thinks about his request and answers him, “Can I set it and you watch? I really need to make sure I understand how to use it.” Since Edward can’t be here that quick if she needs to set it tonight and there is a problem, at least this way she can make sure she has done it right at least once . Plus she really doesn’t want Jacob in her house when she comes home. Really doesn’t.
Edward catches the tone in her voice. He looks at her thoughtfully and then tells her, “You know you can talk to us, we can help. But yes, I will watch as you set it.” He wants her to finish opening up to them. He knows it is really too soon. But, if Alice can’t see tonight, and they think she will be in danger, they will have no choice, Carlisle will need to come.
Alice smiles as his comment shows Bella opening up to them… maybe today? She wishes that Edward could read Bella’s mind, it would help them understand what is going on. Then she sees something that worries her. Carlisle is thinking of coming early.
Edward glances at her as the vision comes through. He looks at Bella and asks, “Bella, I apologize. I forgot to call my brother. Can you please wait a second? I really am sorry, but I don’t want him to head out this way, which he may if he doesn’t hear from me.” Edward looks at her with his crooked grin. “I really am sorry…”
Bella looks puzzled but she tells him, “No, it’s not a problem. Please call him. I am sorry I borrowed your phone earlier and distracted you.” Bella is very confused, it seems like calling his brother is a big deal. Why?
Alice can see her puzzlement and answers, “Bella, Carlisle is very protective of all of us. Edward was probably supposed to call him when he and Rose got in earlier, I know Jasper had to call him when he got in. He just cares for us, no matter how many times we tell him that we’re fine. But what are big brothers for? Other than carrying all the shopping bags…” Edward shakes his head, not wanting to be reminded of his duties for the day.
Bella smiles and wistfully tells them, “I wish I had someone who cared about me like that. But then, Jake used to and…” She trails off, not wanting to say anything yet. Her conscience twinges, and she promises herself to come clean later.
Edward looks at her and debates. He finally tells her, “It may be too soon, but, I know Emmett feels as though you are as much his sister as Alice is. But saner. Much, much saner!” He ducks away from the pillow Alice lobs in his direction.
Bella grins at them and their antics; she shakes her head and chirps, “Emmie is just a big bear.”
Edward smiles his crooked grin at her and then he indicates her breakfast nook with his head, “Can I just go in there and callÉ Carlisle will probably have a few words to say to me, I would rather not have you hear until you get to meet him. He is probably worried.” When he gets Bella’s approval he goes into the room, knowing Alice will keep Bella occupied. He quickly dials Carlisle’s number.
The phone barely rings once before he hears Carlisle answer. “Edward?” Edward can hear the faint surprise in his voice and wonders what’s going on.
Edward talks quickly, but quietly, “Carlisle, you need to stay there for now. We may need you here, but please stay there for a little longer.” He is keeping his attention on Alice’s mind, ready to act on any visions that will harm what they are trying to do.
Carlisle is standing in his study in the Alaska house. Per Alice’s instructions, he is dressed in a pair of light jeans with a dark blue long sleeve shirt. He has to admit, he likes these clothes, they are much more comfortable than his normal attire, and they let him move more easily in the forest… and make it easier for him to get there faster. He has been debating with himself for the last hour and a half and cannot stand the pull he is feeling that is coming from the south. He had just decided to find out what is going on when his phone rang.
The fact that Edward is calling is making him angry and he is not sure why. Carlisle frowns and he says pointedly, “Edward, if I want to come there, I will.” That is as polite as he can make it, he feels as though Edward is challenging him. What is coming over me?
Edward pinches the bridge of his nose as he turns to face the windows. He chooses his words carefully, “Carlisle, do you trust Alice?” He can understand the mating pull, and the fact that it will make Carlisle a little more territorial than normal is going to be tricky. Once he has mated, it will be permanent. He will not only be alpha of a large coven, but he will also be protecting what is his. And Carlisle has not been one to let things be without completely asserting his authority. Jasper had helped bring that to the fore, telling him it will make it so that others will not mess with them. Carlisle will do whatever it takes to make them all safe.
Carlisle is squelching the urge to growl. He can’t explain it, but he really feels the pull to leave. But does he trust Alice? She has never done anything to hurt the family, and she wouldn’t do anything unless it was to their benefit. That decides him, but he is not happy with the decision. This feeling will drive him crazy if he does not answer it! He answers his first companion with the duality of his decision evident in his voice, “Yes.”
Edward can hear the frustration. “Carlisle, what is wrong? Why are you heading here early?” Maybe if they find out why, it may help Alice’s visions and they can help out Carlisle.
Carlisle sighs. He turns towards the south and tells Edward, “I can’t explain it. I feel like I need to be there. I feel this strong pull to be there. An hour and a half ago, it was intense. It has calmed slightly, but I have to be there. It is getting painful, Edward. What are you hiding from me?” He decides to calmly ask, but soon he will be demanding. What is going on?
Edward is floored. What Carlisle is describing is the mating bond. And the time frame he gave is when Bella got upset. But what is he going to do? If he tells Carlisle, he may be coming here without even acknowledging it. If he doesn’t tell him, Carlisle may order him to. And as his Alpha, Edward will have to comply.
Alice is sitting there talking to Bella, and is thinking as fast as she can, trying to see what outcome will be the best. But the darkness of Bella’s night is frightening her. She finally tells Edward, Tell him. But tell him what happens if he doesn’t listen and tell him about tonight, too. I can’t chance it Edward. She is frightened, but she hopes Carlisle will listen.
Edward closes his eyes and pleads with Carlisle. “Please listen to everything I have to say. If you don’t, you will lose what you have been waiting for, for almost 400 years. Please?” He knows he will need to tell Carlisle about the visions.
Carlisle’s breathing picks up, knowing this is the answer he has been waiting on. “Go on, Edward.”
Edward opens his eyes and tells him, “Carlisle. Alice has seen your mate. She has seen her since she met you, but never knew her name or anything else. She has seen her by your side. Twenty-three years ago the visions started coming in more detail. Alice has done nothing but guide us all towards making the best of the situation. She delayed us coming out here, to not only give your mate time to age and mature, but to make sure we can all deal with her. She has done all this and more to make it be the best outcome for you two to meet.” He waits to see if Carlisle can handle just this. Then he relaxes as Alice’s visions show him still standing there talking to Edward.
Carlisle stands there frozen in shock. His MATE! He closes his eyes as he asks, “What is wrong, Edward? What issues are there?” He is trying to do as Edward wishes, knowing Alice is the one guiding the group. But his body and instincts are screaming for him to leave. And his soul… his soul is ecstatic knowing it’s other half is here, within a few hours drive, or even better, an hour of him running.
Edward smiles, knowing his friend is thrilled, then he remembers why Carlisle is learning of this now. “She is human. And, before I tell you this, know that Alice and the rest are guarding her more than you can imagine. But she is my singer.” He needs to lay it all on the line for Carlisle. He does not want to go through Carlisle’s reaction when he arrives. As it is, this is the biggest hardship they could see before they got here and found out about this Jake.
Carlisle jerks and he starts to move before he can think about it. Edward’s singer! He gasps, “Edward. If you…” He is not even aware of what he started to say until it comes out of his mouth. But this is his Mate! His other half!
Edward feels the jab, but he reminds himself that this is Carlisle’s mate and of course he will be this way. “Alice has been stealing her shirts and such for me to get used to her scent. We have all been getting used to it. We were careful for you to never smell it, since Alice said that would set you off, and you would be gone without even thinking it through. She is safe from me. Beyond safe. Carlisle, she is your mate! You think I would even risk her?” He closes his eyes as he remembers the past. It wasn’t all Carlisle’s fault!
Carlisle feels shame wash through him, hearing Edward’s anguish. He tells his friend, “I am sorry, Edward. I have no idea why I even…I am sorry.” He fights with himself, bringing the legendary control of his into play. He will get a handle on himself!
Edward nods and tells him, “I don’t blame you. But, here is the problem. If you come here, right now, you will not be able to help yourself. You will possess Bella. And she can’t take it right now. She is broken somehow and you will break her even more. I am only relaying Alice’s visions to you, you know that they will continue unless someone makes another decision. Carlisle, you will lose your mate when you take her.” Edward pauses, and then tells him the reason that they are even taking this risk, “Carlisle, there is something out here that is blocking Alice. I am ready to tear apart this person, and everyone else is feeling the same for what he has done to our sister. We are protecting her, but Alice’s vision is going blank tonight. She can’t see her. She exposed Bella to me early to make sure I can track her. But you cannot come yet.” Edward prays he has said enough.
Carlisle is standing there torn, literally. His instincts and soul are crying out for him to go there, to make her safe. His mate will be safe before anything else. He finally chokes out, “When?”
Alice hears and sees Carlisle. She wishes she could cry for her Alpha. The pure torture he must be feeling. She tries harder and asks Edward, Ask how strong he thinks he can be. Tell him he must decide, he will understand. She sits there and hopes against anything that he can do this, that he can decide and, knowing Carlisle, whatever he decides, he will stick to it.
Faithfully Edward asks, “Alice asks how strong can you be? And she said you must decide, that you would understand what she means.” Edward is watching Alice’s thoughts, hoping against hope that his father, his Sire can do what is needed to help himself.
Carlisle takes the time to think about it. He needs to be there. Now. The pull he has been feeling has multiplied to an extreme tug. But, once he is there, can he stand not taking Bella as his? He thinks of what could happen if he is not there. He will have his mate. Can he wait for her while being close to her? “Edward, how close is she?” He needs to know how much torture he will be in. Paradoxically, while it will make it harder to not claim her as his mate, it will ease the pain of being separated from her.
Edward smiles and answers, “Next door.” He knows what Carlisle is doing, he is making it so he can make a decision and know he can stick with it. He is going to do it!
Carlisle closes his eyes and tells him, “I can be strong enough not to take her, but I will need to see her. She cannot see me, Edward. That will start the mating process. I will not be able to stop at that point.” He needs to see her, needs to confirm with his senses that she is okay. If not, he will then need to get with the rest of the family and do what it takes to make her better.
Alice is still talking with Bella, but she smiles. Tell him yes. And that if she is in danger, then all bets are of course off! Neither she nor any of their family will blame him, and will help deal with the fallout.
Edward does not hesitate, “Come, Carlisle. That will work. I and everyone else will help. You will not be able to start work until next week.” He is warning him that he will be holed up in the house until then, and possibly be hiding if Bella comes over. But Edward is happy he is coming; Edward has never been good at tracking, but Carlisle? He can track and do much more if it is his mate that he is tracking! He will be unstoppable, and the rest of the coven will be right behind him. No one messes with them.
Carlisle releases the breath he had unconsciously been holding. He may not need to breathe, but he has acted as a human for so long, it is an ingrained habit. He tells Edward, “I will be driving, but if you need me there sooner, I will ditch the car.” Nothing is more important than his mate. He hangs up on Edward and starts to gather everything together. He will be there shortly and will find out from Alice directly what the plan is. He will do everything in his considerable power to make this work, for him to claim his mate.
Edward hangs up the phone and grins. He can hear Jasper asking him, Edward? What has happened? Bella is happier, you and Alice are ecstatic! Edward keeps himself from laughing as he can see in Alice’s vision that it will all work out. Now they just need to find out what is going on with Bella, and who this Jake is that has her so terrorized.
Alice stands up with Bella as Edward walks back into the room. They glance at each other, overjoyed, but hiding it from Bella. Edward moves towards them, and asks Bella, “Are you ready? If we want to get everything done, and believe me Alice is a force to be reckoned, we need to get moving.” Before Carlisle gets here. The thought makes him grin and he lifts an eyebrow at Bella, waiting for her answer.
Bella nods and moves with him to set the alarm and the three of them hurry out the door. She grins as she realizes she made it out without tripping. One accomplishment for today! She will take the small victories; not much else is left to her these days.
They move to the Cullen’s house through the gate in the wall. Edward goes to get his car while Alice and Bella continue into the house to get Rose. Both Edward and Alice grin as they realize the family is blurring, trying to get to whomever so they can find out what is going on.
Alice walks in the door as she calls out, “Rose! Bella needs your expertise!” She tries not to laugh as she watches Rose blur into the living room and sit on the couch as though she has been there the whole time.
The rest of the family is hearing from Edward and passing it on that Carlisle is on his way. The mood of the house lifts, no one wants to fail in keeping Bella safe, but they know if Carlisle is there, then there is less of a chance of Bella being hurt. If nothing else, Carlisle can turn her.
Rose is shocked to hear that Carlisle is coming, but to find out that Bella wants her? She, like everyone else, is more than ready to befriend Bella. She gets up and moves into the foyer asking, “While I have no problem sharing my expertise with Bella, what expertise are you talking about, you evil Tinkerbell?”
Bella laughs. Now that she has decided to trust her instincts, it feels as though a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. She is unsure why, but she trusts the Cullens. Well the ones she has met any way, which reminds her…
Alice chirps to Rose, “Bella is buying a Mercedes and would like some help. She asked for yours when she found out you are our go to person for vehicles. You wanna join us for a fun day of shopping?” She is grinning, knowing that Rose will go.
Rose shakes her head as she looks to Bella, “Are you sure you’re ready for her? You know what? Never mind. I will go to at least try to reign in the munchkin. Edward won’t be good for that, he can never say no to her,” she walks over and grabs her purse.
Alice is laughing at Rose, but she can’t help it. While tonight might be a turning point, which each vision of afterwards is showing, the more of the Cullens Bella is exposed to, the more favorable the outcome is. Plus, with Carlisle being here, there is less of a chance of anyone hurting Bella. But they really need to find out more about Jake. Alice is of the same opinion as the rest of the family, she wants to hurt whoever is hurting her sister.
The three head outside to where Edward has pulled his Volvo to the front. He is leaning against the passenger side with all the doors open for them. As Bella comes closer, he stands up and gestures for her to seat herself in the front as Rose and Alice move to the back.
Bella stops and stares at him. She really doesn’t want to lead him on, she doesn’t need another Jacob. While she is more comfortable with all of them, it still doesn’t feel right.
Edward watches her. “You’re the guest. Nothing more than that, Bella. Please.” He can see the reluctance she has to get in the front seat. He wants to reassure her, really do anything to get her to come with them.
Bella nods and gets in the car. Alice and Rose are chatting away at her as Edward walks around and gets in. Bella can’t believe how normal this feels. She has never had this type of friendship, not since Jake chased away Angela.
During a lull in the conversation, Bella turns to Edward and asks, “I thought you were not supposed to be here with… Carlisle is it? Until later.” She is genuinely curious, Edward’s call earlier had reminded her of what she had been told before.
Edward looks over briefly and his eyes flick to his sisters as he answers, “You are correct, but Jasper couldn’t stay away from Alice any longer. Carlisle is used to driving by himself and had some work to finish before he could be here. I didn’t feel comfortable letting Rose drive here by herself, so I followed.” He glances at Bella and cracks a smile as he asks her, “You’ve seen Emmett, can you just imagine if something happened to Rose? I don’t think there would be pieces of me left anywhere.” He is interested in why she is asking about Carlisle. Her interest is jut like her mate’s. Bella can’t help but smile, but then without thinking it through she asks, “Why would you get hurt and not Carlisle?”
Bella can’t help but smile, but then without thinking it through she asks, “Why would you get hurt and not Carlisle?” Why am I asking about someone I haven’t even met? She is puzzled, but her curiosity is piqued and she feels comfortable enough with them to ask.
Alice hides a grin as she answers when she leans forward, “Carlisle is the oldest of us. He has practically raised us and there is no way any of us would do anything to him. We owe him way too much.”
Bella is intrigued, but Rose starts asking her questions about the purchase of her car.
Edward and Alice share a look. What is going on? It seems like innocent questions until you see her face: It was a little too intense. Edward was reminded of his telephone conversation with Carlisle and his insistence.
Alice thought to Edward, Jasper said her emotions were all over the place. She is worried that she has made a mistake in allowing Carlisle to come down…
Too low and quick for Bella to hear, Edward answers her, “He thought that she is in the middle of mating, but how can that be? Carlisle said they had to see each other to have it start.”
Rose keeps up the conversation with Bella, but she answers them in the same tone, “Who has ever heard of a Human/Vampire mating? Mating is compelled… If you are anywhere close to your mate, you feel a pull towards them.” She remembers how she found Emmett, she had followed the pull and found him barely in time.
Edward frowns and says, “Carlisle has mentioned and thought about a pull he has felt for the last 23 years…”
Alice turns and she asks, “Why haven’t you said anything?” This is a piece of information that she was not aware of. She checks her visions and relaxes as she finds nothing has changed.
Edward shakes his head minutely and answers her, “It was instant with my mate and I. I wouldn’t know about the pull. Nobody has said anything for me to know.”
Rose blinks and says, “I thought you knew that is how I found Emmett.”
Edward just looks her in the eyes and shakes his head.
Bella sees Edward shake his head and asks, “Is there something wrong?”
Edward looks over at her, “No, I was just thinking of how bad I feel for you. You have Rose for buying a car and then Alice for shopping. I will try to hold them back for you, but I can’t promise anything.”
Bella stares at him and then hesitantly smiles at him. The look on her face is one of confusion but before Edward can ask, they were at the dealership.
Bella looks at the cars and sighs. How the heck can she just get a vehicle? If it had not been a requirement, she would have been happy with her truck. The years of dealing with Jacob have begun to wear on her, and the truck’s reminders of her father’s generosity are being buried under Jacob’s reminders of how he has kept it running for her. Maybe it is time for a new beginning?
Edward pulls into a parking spot and gets out, opening the door for Rose and then Alice as he makes his way to Bella’s side of the car. But before he can get there, she has opened the door and stood up. Carlisle is going to have fun with this one! Edward can’t help but smirk. Bella will be in for quite an experience.
Then he notices her expression: she is not comfortable with this. Knowing why she is here, the real reason he looks at Alice. Alice has a sad look on her face but she looks at Edward and tells him, She needs to do this. If she doesn’t have this, she will have an accident tomorrow. Even if you drive her then, I see that she is going to have problems. Plus you think Carlisle will allow her to keep driving her truck? Edward narrows his eyes in thought and sighs. No, Carlisle would not let her drive the truck any more.
Rose looks at Bella and her posture straightens. She looks at Edward and tells him silently, I will take care of this. She will NOT walk out of here with something she won’t like.
Bella is staring at the lot, feeling so out of place. How is she going to get through this? She has no idea what to look for, how to find something that won’t be too much for her to handle.
Then she feels an arm around her shoulder and Rose tells her, “Hey, Chica. Did you think I would just sit here looking pretty? Let’s get you a new vehicle. Look on the bright side. How many times do you think people get to walk onto a Mercedes car lot and be able to get anything they want? So tell me. What do you like about your truck?” She smiles down at Bella, trying to put her little sister at ease.
Edward is impressed with Rose and her ability to help calm Bella. This is what they need to do, Bella loves the truck. So, get her something that will help remind her of it.
Bella looks at Rose, noticing that while her arm and body are cold, she herself is warm towards Bella. She answers her, “It was a gift. But it fit with me and how clumsy I am, it will survive whatever I can do to it, without costing me a fortune to fix or to keep up. I hav— had a mechanic that would work on it for free.”
Rose caught the change of tense and stores it for later. “Since we are neighbors, I will help keep it up. Plus you get free service with a Mercedes. But tell me, did you like it as a truck? Would you have felt the same way if it had been any old car?”
Bella thinks and tells her, “I like sitting high. I am short enough that I don’t need to be in a car.”
Rose thinks and looks around the lot. She then shoots Edward a look and tells him, “Stall the sales guy.” She then leads Bella away as Edward chuckles.
Edward moves to block the sales person as he watches Rose handle Bella with kid gloves. He is happy Rose has taken to Bella; she had been one of loudest against bringing her into the family. But she knew that if Carlisle mates with her, there will not be much of a choice.
Bella is surprised when Rose takes her over by the SUV’s. She looks up at Rose and asks, “SUV?”
Rose answers her as she looks them over, “They will seat you higher. They are also very safe and will be close to your truck. I was just undecided between a crossover or a SUV. When you said you wanted to sit high, I realized this is what you want.” Then her eye lit upon the vehicle she thinks is a match for Bella and leads her to it.
Bella looks over the vehicle that Rose taking her to and smiles. While it is somewhat obviously a Mercedes, it still looks like the other SUV’s on the road so it won’t bring attention to her. She tells Rose, “Oh, you’re good. Very, very good.”
Rose laughs at Bella’s comment as she watches Bella look over the vehicle. She asks her, “Is this what you want?” When Bella nods, Rose asks her, amused, “How about test driving it?”
Bella stops and looks at her, arching an eyebrow. “Rose, I drive an old truck. Are you telling me this could be worse than that?”
Rose is surprised and starts to laugh. She grins at Bella and tells her, “Damn girl. You have spunk! I can’t recall the last time someone talked to me that way who wasn’t family. We will get along just fine.” She will be a perfect match for Carlisle, if they can just get whatever is bothering her out of the way.
Bella grins back at her, feeling completely at ease. Which she finds is getting to be the norm around this family.
Rose looks over at her brother and sister and lets them know to let the sales guy through. She asks Bella, “Do you mind if I handle this?” At Bella’s grateful look, she answers herself. “Obviously not. Go stand by Edward and let me handle this.”
Bella hesitates and then bluntly tells Rose, “Rose, I am not looking for love. Love is just a huge problem that I can’t deal with right now… and even if I wanted to, I can’t.” The last was said so softly that if it was not for Rose’s enhanced hearing, she would have never heard it.
Rose quickly answers her, trying to calm her, “Edward is already taken. He isn’t looking for love in that way. I just figure you will be more comfortable over there, no one will ask you any questions, and if they do, Edward can answer without them thinking twice.” But in her mind, she is shrieking at Edward, Edward, someone has hurt her, or she is suffering. What have we done?
Edward looks at Bella and hopes that it is not too late. But then Alice’s vision slams into his head and he see her happy. He relaxes and watches Bella to find out what she will do.
Bella sighs, feeling more relaxed. She looks over at Edward and he smiles at her and bows slightly. She feels her smile grow and she moves to him. He puts an arm around her, and leans down to her, “I am taken, but it flatters me to know you were interested.”
Bella quickly glances up at him and can see that he is teasing her. She quips back, “It’s the hair. It draws us in. We want to know how you do it.”
Edward laughs and pulls her into a one arm hug. “Bella, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. If you don’t mind?” His blood lust doesn’t even bother him. He can’t think of her as anything but his sister.
Bella laughs up at him and she replies, “I have no problem, but I think there is a certain someone who resembles Tinkerbell that may have one.”
They both look up at Alice who is standing there tapping her foot. She arches one eyebrow at the two of them and asks, “Well?”
Edward and Bella look at each other and laugh. Bella lifts one arm in an obvious gesture for Alice to join them and Alice skips over and wraps her arm around Bella’s waist. She looks at both of them and tells them, “I don’t have a choice with Edward, he is my brother. But Bella, you are supposed to be my best friend!” She is so happy, her vision from earlier wasn’t of the far future, it was of today!
Bella looks at her and asks without even thinking, “But I will be, or even better, we will be just like sisters?”
Alice’s eyes widen and she squeals, “Yes! Edward, you owe me!”
Bella gives her a puzzled look mixed with amusement. Alice explains, “When Edward and Rose pulled into the driveway yesterday, I ran out to them to tell them that I have a new sister. They laughed at me! Me!”
Bella couldn’t help it and lost it at Alice’s face. If it wasn’t for Edward and Alice holding her up, she would have fallen to her knees laughing. And she wasn’t the only one, both Edward and Rose are laughing with her.
Soon, they hear someone clearing their throat and Bella looks up at a man in a suit who is looking at her with disapproval. He then turns to Rose and asks, “How may I help you?”
Edward and Alice help Bella stand up, then Edward bends down to Bella and tells her softly, “Well he got a point in not asking me, but he lost a lot of them with that look at you. Watch and enjoy. By the way, you know what color you want right?”
Bella nods and answers in the same soft voice, “Black. Simple.” Maybe it will not make her stand out anymore…
Edward nods and calls out to Rose, “Opposite of the absence of light.” Rose nods.
That starts a short afternoon of entertainment. Rose basically breaks the man, all the while getting what Bella wants. She keeps in mind the details that Bella had told her about the deal, while mentally shaking her head at the sneakiness of Alice. She understands, Carlisle will be calmer knowing Bella is driving this instead of the truck, but she knows to beware the fairy and her manipulations in the future.
By the time they are done, Rose has managed to get Bella a fully decked out vehicle with tons of add-ons thrown in for free, while knocking the price down to below a stock vehicle. She also makes sure to get a Lo-Jack on the vehicle, knowing Jasper can break into the site and they will be sure to track Bella that way too. She is already dedicated to her sister’s safety. Bella had hugged her without any sign of withdrawal. She accepted Rose without question. That was all it took for her to go to bat for her sister. She also made sure to add tint, Carlisle and the rest of them will need it, just in case.
Bella is chuckling at the man’s face as Rose gets ready to close the deal. He has no idea what hit him. But then he is floored and visibly cringes when they go inside to sign the papers and he realizes that the person he snubbed is the person who is buying the vehicle.
Edward and Alice just smile at him as they stand behind Bella and Rose. The two of them are overjoyed, Alice’s visions are steadily getting so much better. And even though tonight is showing clips versus the complete blackout of earlier, they are still worried.
After the paperwork is filled out, Bella is promised the vehicle, as per Rose’s deal, on Monday. Edward assures her that one of them, or someone from the Cullen family will be happy to bring her back to pick it up. It is a very different dynamic of people who get in the car to go shopping. They are all laughing and joking. Bella even comments on it, “Never thought buying a car would ever be a bonding experience.”
Alice bounces in her seat and tells her, “Now come on, did you seriously think you wouldn’t have fun with us?”
Bella looks back at her and answers with a straight face. “Yes.”
They all start laughing. The time they have been enjoying is too much fun, too easy for them for it to last. And sure enough it is shattered by Bella’s phone ringing: Werewolves in London. Bella freezes and her face shows her fear. Her masks are down and she doesn’t have time to hide her fear from them.
Edward sees it and quickly pulls into a parking lot. He stops the car and turns to her as he asks, “Bella, do you trust us?”
Bella looks at him and the two girls and nods. She is unable to do anything else, she knows this will be ugly.
He leans over and puts his hands on her shoulders. He makes a decision and watches Alice’s face. She frowns and then nods. But, then she tells him, I can’t see who is calling or what will happen right now. But I see her shopping with us, her laughing. So it will somehow work out.
Edward nods and he looks into Bella’s brown eyes. “Answer the phone. Don’t worry about putting it on speaker phone, we will hear it. We will protect you. After you get off the phone, I will explain how and why. Just don’t say anything about us, and trust us.” He pleads with her, knowing the cards are going to fall. But he has no other choice, not with Bella being so frightened in front of him.
Bella nods and staring at them, she answers the phone, “Jake.” Her heart rate accelerates as she waits for the fallout.
The vampires wince as they hear the other person roar at Bella, “Where the hell have you been? Why is your house locked? And why the fuck are you not here?”
Before Edward can snarl, Rose screams at him in her mind, Edward! And he barely restrains himself in time, not wanting to scare Bella.
Bella is embarrassed, knowing that the three people in the vehicle are hearing this, how could they not with him screaming, and her temper ignites as she yells back, “I am not your girlfriend nor do I answer to you! And why are you at my house? How did you get the address?” And that question shows the three how frightened she is by that one fact more than anything else.
Rose clenches her hands, no one should frighten anyone like that, much less Bella.
Jake snarls at her, “Bella, get your ass here now. We need to talk and we are going to set some rules. I have given you enough time.”
Bella’s face goes white, but she gives as good as she gets, staring into Edward’s black eyes, and clasping Alice’s hand when it comes to her. “Jacob Black. Leave. Now. I never want to see you again.” As he starts to yell, she hangs up on him. Then she breaks down.
Edward opens the door, and noticing no one is looking, blurs to her side and opens the door. He pulls her into his arms and soon his sisters are there, hugging her. He looks into Alice’s eyes, willing her to look for Carlisle. If he felt her before, what the hell is happening now?
Alice looks and her eyes fly to Edward’s, He is going to be calling in a couple of minutes. He is fighting with himself, but he needs to know Edward.
Edward nods and he will deal with that as soon as they get Bella calm, Carlisle won’t hesitate if he hears her upset, he won’t be thinking then.
Bella lets loose all the feelings she has bottled up and feels like she is going to die. She realizes Jake has lost it and she can’t let these three get hurt by him. When they drop her off tonight, she will tell them her last goodbye. Because there is no way Jake will leave her; she will do what she has to do.
The three lock their eyes on each other, Edward murmurs, “Alice, she needs him, I am going to tell him when he calls to come.”
Alice shakes her head and tells him, not yet. Carlisle can’t come, she has not been told what we are! He will help, but will claim her as his mate!
Edward seethes inside, he knows Alice is trying for the best scenario, but the situation, while it was looking up earlier and it gives hope for the future, doesn’t cover the fact that Bella is falling apart. And if that is what she has had to deal with, there is no surprise she hasn’t already.
Bella finally calms down and looks up at the three siblings holding her. Then she looks around and realizes they are at a rest stop.
Edward looks down and wipes her tears from her face. He tells her, “I am so sorry, Bella. Nobody should be treated like that. I will make you a deal. I will tell you about us, and in return you will tell us about you. No holding back on either side. Okay?” This is important, this will make or break the immediate future. If Carlisle will have his mate soon whole, or broken.
Bella sucks in a breath, shuddering, and then Rose tells her, “Bella, please. Once you have our secret, you will see that we can deal with Jacob. We care for you more than you can imagine, just please let us tell you why.”
Alice is on her phone. as she hangs up she looks at them and says, “They will be here shortly. Jasper said to start.” She also told them in that voice, “Carlisle is on his way, we need to get this over with, he is not waiting.”
Edward nods and he picks Bella up easily and carries her to the picnic tables. His sisters arrange themselves around, making sure no one can get to Bella except through the three of them. He rubs the back of his neck and looks at Alice.
Alice verbalizes for Bella’s benefit. “Go ahead. But hurry Edward. Our afternoon just went blank.”
Edward nods and turns back to Bella. “Bella, what I am going to tell you will sound fantastical, but I swear I am telling you the truth. Have you noticed that we are different?” When she nods, he asks her, “Please, tell me what you have noticed.”
Bella watches the three of them and she sees nothing but the same people she had been joking around with, that she feels comfortable with, feels like herself and safe with. Realizing that, she relaxes and answers him, “You are all beautiful. Pale. Have golden eyes. From what I noticed in the car, when you get emotional, they turn black. You can hear things you shouldn’t. You are all cold. Your skin is hard and when you relax, you lose the current slang and speak differently.” She is done, she will trust them. Bella is ready to just give up, everything is going so wrong. So she stores her hope and trust in them.
The three look shocked and then Rose says, “Well, she is observant.”
Edward nods in agreement, not taking his eyes away from Bella. He asks, “Are you willing to guess?”
Bella thinks back to her summer with Jake. When he was the fun Jake that she loved as a brother. And then she remembers;
It was a cold summer day, she and Jacob were talking:
“Do you like scary stories?” he asked ominously.
“I love them,” I enthused.
Jacob strolled to a nearby driftwood tree that had its roots sticking out like the attenuated legs of a huge, pale spider. He perched lightly on one of the twisted roots while she sat beneath him on the body of the tree. He stared down at the rocks, a smile hovering around the edges of his broad lips. She could see he was going to try to make this good.
“Do you know any of our old stories, about where we came from — the Quileutes, I mean?”
“Not really,” Bella admitted.
“Well, there are lots of legends, some of them claiming to date back to the Flood — supposedly, the ancient Quileutes tied their canoes to the tops of the tallest trees on the mountain to survive like Noah and the ark.” He smiled, to show her how little stock he put in the histories. “Another legend claims that we descended from wolves — and that the wolves are our brothers still. It’s against tribal law to kill them.”
“Then there are the stories about the cold ones.” His voice had dropped a little lower.
“The cold ones?” Bella asked, not faking her intrigue now.
“The cold ones are traditionally our enemies,” He winked at her.
“And what are they?” Bella finally asked. “What are the cold ones?”
He smiled darkly.
“Blood drinkers,” he replied in a chilling voice. “Your people call them vampires.”
She stared out at the rough surf after he answered, not sure what her face was exposing.
“You have goose bumps,” he laughed delightedly.
“You’re a good storyteller,” Bella complimented him, still staring into the waves.
“Pretty crazy stuff, though, isn’t it? No wonder my dad doesn’t want us to talk about it to anyone.”
She couldn’t control her expression enough to look at him yet. “Don’t worry, I won’t give you away.”*
Bella looks up at them. What she just listed and what the Cullen’s confirmed as correct, matches what Jacob had told her and what she had found out later. For some reason she had been and still is obsessed with vampires. She wonders why she didn’t realize it from the beginning as she looks up at them and answers, “Vampire.”
Final count: 9,545 Words