Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chapter 41

Carlisle’s POV (One month later)

No one was in the house when I arrived; Esme wasn’t expecting me. I left my briefcase in my study and had to come back for it. I was all the way to the hos
pital before I realized, which really pissed me off. I was distracted by Bella again this morning. I was glad the weather was nice again; she wasn’t hidden from me in jeans and sweaters any longer. I never wanted to see her in jeans again. She should always be in dresses; the shorter the better as far as I was concerned. As soon as I made my plans known to her, I would rectify her clothing. I couldn’t believe the crap Edward was allowing her to wear lately. I wanted her back in the clothes she wore before. She was beautiful then; hints of her assets flirting with my imagination.


I took a moment to stand at the window in my study to look for Esme. Since she didn’t know I was here, it was an opportunity to verify she was where she was supposed to be; not that I worried about her any longer. She knew what would happen if she wasn’t. She was working in her garden, like always. I had to admit its size has grown over the years and yet she still managed to keep up with it. I never understood her dedication. They were just flowers; nothing special. I let her have the garden as a reward for her good behavior once I had her under complete control. I almost bulldozed it down as punishment when she helped Renee escape. Destroying her relationship with the boys, especially Edward, was much more effective. It also helped him finally grow up and start acting like a man instead of the momma’s boy he had become.


The entrance to my home is remotely monitored by my private security team. They don’t operate on the grounds because I refuse to risk someone befriending our women and deciding to help them escape. My father learned that the hard way years ago. He was madly in love with my mother, but she was nothing but a whore. She cheated on him with one of his guards when I was about six years old and they ran away together. My father went insane looking for her. It took my father almost a year to hunt them down and drag them back. My brother and I watched him pull the trigger, executing her lover in front of us all. After that he built a wall around our home and moved the security team outside. My mother never set foot outside that wall until the day she died. My father taught us how to hold a family together; you never gave her a way to leave.


I caught Esme several times in the beginning trying to run away after I started letting her out on her own. She never knew when she was being followed and certainly didn’t like the punishment she received if she was caught trying to escape. I smiled wickedly. It was so much fun keeping her off balance; I felt like a cat playing with my very own little mouse.


Then, of course, they needed to watch over Rosalie and Alice for the boys. Since they were both so well trained, they never tried to run. They were content to stay where they belonged and were treated well because they didn’t run.


Now they watched over Bella. Someone always watched the school during the day. It was the one place she could escape from and I wouldn’t allow that. She was worth too much for Edward to lose her. Edward was quick to agree with me after Bella’s one attempt at leaving the school. Now she knows she’s watched, so she keeps her ass inside the building until Edward arrives. I was pissed that Edward still refused to use the basement to punish her. Everything he needed was in there to do whatever he wanted with her; he knew this. It would also give me access to her that I’ve been denied thus far. I know he punished her that day because her eyes were still red and puffy when they came down to dinner, but I wanted more.


I was livid with Sam the day of the ice storm. He had a new guy watching her who left when it started sleeting. He was the reason for her illness. The idiot cared more about his precious car than his job. Needless to say, he no longer had that car; I had it destroyed. If he wanted to keep his job then my commands were priority over anything else.


I began to turn away from the window when I saw Esme look up and laugh at someone on the path. I followed where she was looking and saw them. I couldn’t hear their words, but he was listening intently while she gestured with her hands. My eyes narrowed as I saw him laugh at whatever she said. He picked her up and spun her around causing her to shriek. When he put her down she punched his arm.


I held my breath in anticipation for him to drag her back to the house to administer discipline. I would finally get to hear her screams again. I was angered that instead he reached to pluck a flower from the rosebush beside them and bowed before her extending the rose to her like an offering. She took the rose, smelling it as he straightened and stood on tiptoe to kiss him. I watched in disgust as he smiled, tucking a stray hair behind her ear before they continued down the path hand in hand.


I turned away and sat at my desk to brood. I knew Edward would want her. He was always drawn to her even as a child. It was the reason I gave Edward less than perfect candidates for his bride. I needed to drag out his selection process until I had Bella. I knew my son wouldn’t pick anything less than perfection, which was Bella. I just didn’t take into account how much he would want her. He was as obsessed with her as I was.


I closed my eyes and remembered back to when she first arrived. She was quiet and timid, as she should be. She didn’t cry or beg when I told her of my plans for her. Charlie was very good at stripping girls of the will to fight. They always did exactly what was expected, no complaint, no argument. They were perfect.


Well, I didn’t tell her everything. Edward wasn’t even aware of my plans yet. I shifted in my seat, my fists tightening as I remembered her bent over my desk and the feel of my fingers pumping her tight ass. I slammed my fist on my desk in frustration. Fuck, I needed to get in her. I can’t believe she’s been here all this time and I still haven’t been able to get her alone. Edward never left her alone; if he had things to do he took her with him. I told him repeatedly to leave her to no avail. Now she spends her afternoons at Emmett’s picking up the slack from Rosalie still needing to take it easy. At least Rosalie was finally earning her keep, giving me a grandson after the fiasco of her last two pregnancies.


That was another problem I needed to address; Emmett’s attitude. He had become even more outspoken and belligerent in his behavior. He always was a wild card and impossible to control completely. I’d need to give some consideration soon how to get him back under control.


But back to Bella; I knew that trip to Phoenix was a mistake. She was perfect before they left. Now she was starting to develop an air of confidence that Edward was encouraging. She was changing him. All of my sons were beginning to change. I had complete control over my family before. If I’d known she was going to cause so many problems, I would have found another way.


Don’t get me wrong, I care about Esme. She’s still a beautiful woman and once I had her under control she became exactly what I wanted her to be. She was quiet and didn’t give me any trouble, but she wasn’t Renee. I wanted to kill her when Charlie showed up at the house with her in handcuffs. Charlie caught her trying to sneak out of his house after Renee drove away. It was obvious she encouraged Renee to run away. Renee would have never run without encouragement. I kept Esme strung up in the basement for a week releasing my anger and frustrations on her body. She received one small bottle of water and a protein drink each day, nothing else. At night she was chained to the wall. A week in the basement was a bit excessive, but she deserved every minute of it. She didn’t know just how much she had taken away from me.


I was in love with Renee in high school. She was the most beautiful girl in town. She had moved here during the summer before our freshman year. Charlie and I saw her at the same time. If I’d gotten to the gym 10 minutes earlier that first day I could have claimed her as mine. Instead I waited for Charlie like the great friend I was and we walked in at the same time. She was already dressed for her gym class in her little red shorts that hugged her ass and a tight white t-shirt that did nothing to hide her glorious breasts. Charlie and I both wanted her so we did the only thing we could to decide who would get their chance at her. We flipped a coin and I lost.


It was torture watching her with Charlie and then to see her walk down the aisle to him; forever out of my reach. My hatred of Charlie grew through the years watching him with Renee. He was so careless with her. He had the best girl in town but still slept around. He spent so much time down in La Push cheating on Renee that he didn’t keep a firm hand on her as she needed. Renee needed structure and guidance. She was too outspoken and rebellious. If only she had been mine. She would have wanted for nothing, I would have laid the world at her feet and she would have had no reason to fight me. She would have loved me and done anything to please me. When you love someone, you want to do anything for them. Of course, Charlie lost too in the end. He was such a fool to let her go and an even bigger fool to let her take Bella.


I felt no guilt giving Sam and Jacob the go ahead to eliminate Charlie. He was good at what he did but he was sloppy when it came to James. He never kept that damn boy under control. I already paid for one mistake with Alice, but if they had been successful in breaking through Bella’s hymen I would have killed Charlie myself. Edward was going to be the one to have that privilege, and then I planned to share her. She was made for Edward and me alone.


I planned everything from the moment Charlie told me Renee was pregnant again, this time with a girl. He hated that she had so much trouble getting pregnant and didn’t see any use for a girl. He had Renee longer than I had Esme yet I already had three sons. He would always only have the one. She wasn’t even supposed to get pregnant again after James. She had complications with James and was warned not to have more children. Charlie didn’t care; he wanted another son even if it killed her. He never cherished Renee the way I would have. I would have paid for the best specialists so that she could continue to give me my sons. Charlie was cheap and risked her life.


I was overjoyed at the news. If I couldn’t have Renee, then I would at least have her daughter, I knew she would understand. She would become my crown jewel. I knew she would grow into a beauty like her mother. She was supposed to have the added benefit of being trained from childhood. I had planned to have Charlie sell Bella to me when she turned 13 for one of my sons and complete her training myself. I would have paid any price he asked for her. I fought hard not to laugh when he told me how much he wanted for her. He really had no idea her real value. I set aside $1 million the day she was born just for her purchase. There was still over $300,000 in the account.


I unlocked my desk drawer and pulled out the file I kept. I knew where Renee went within a couple of weeks of her leaving; it wasn’t hard to guess she’d go back where she was from; she still had friends in the area. I never told Charlie; he didn’t deserve them and Bella was mine. It contained all the reports I received over the last ten years and the background check I ran on Renee’s new husband. I had to be certain he wouldn’t be a threat to Renee and Bella. Even though I couldn’t have Renee for my own I still loved her enough to watch over her. I had their wills naming his brother as guardian and trustee for Bella. Their wills were never filed, they were sent to me instead. It’s amazing how easy it was to convince a young attorney just starting out and in need of a wife to do you little favors. His wife was a freebie since I knew I would need to keep him in my pocket until I got Bella back. I even had the evidence Renee kept against Charlie. That had earned him a very nice honeymoon with his new bride.


I pulled out the stack of photos and started looking them over again for the thousandth time. I really enjoyed getting these over the years, seeing my precious jewel as she grew from a shy, awkward little girl with freckles into the beautiful woman she is now. I paid Sam’s cousin, Embry to relocate to Phoenix and keep tabs on Bella over the years. I knew who all of her friends were.Along with photos I had a copy of every one of her report cards. He monitored their internet activities and had installed several hidden cameras within the security system of their home. It was easy to see that Bella was everything I knew she would be.


I made several trips to Phoenix over the years to see her. I’d even been to a few of her softball games. I didn’t approve of her playing sports; too many risks for injury. I knew Bella’s appendix ruptured when she was 15. I told her surgeon I was Bella’s father and Renee wouldn’t let me see her if she knew I was there. After all, if things had worked out differently in high school, she would have been my daughter. She should have been mine. He convinced Renee to go home and rest so that I could spend the night with Bella. Renee never knew I was there.


I spent the last two years planning what to do with Bella. The original plan was to take Bella after she moved to college. Embry would take her from the campus of whatever school she attended on the first day. Out of my love for Renee, I wanted her to see Bella graduate high school and enroll in college as this would be the last memory she would ever have of Bella. I wouldn’t take this time away from my love.


Embry’s report over the summer indicated a boy had taken an interest in her and from all indications Renee was going to finally allow Bella to date. I moved up my plans for Embry to take her from school the day after her birthday. I wouldn’t take her on her birthday; that would be unfair to Renee, but I wouldn’t allow some boy to get to her before Edward either. It was going to be a risky move but I had to take her before it was too late.


I almost lost it when the call came that there had been a car accident with fatalities until I knew Bella was safe. I was saddened to learn of Renee’s death but it stopped me from doing something desperate. Their attorney came in handy, blocking her stepfather’s family from fighting for custody. He handled everything according to my wishes. As her biological father, and with a new will in place, she was sent to Charlie and ultimately me.


All my plans changed with Renee’s death. I wouldn’t need to take Bella now. I just needed to manipulate Charlie to bring her to me. I knew Charlie couldn’t resist the chance to have Bella back in his home. He hadn’t had any new girls to work with since Alice and was excited about the idea of keeping Bella permanently for himself and James. He really was a sick mother fucker. However, I knew Charlie loved money above all else and would be too greedy not to sell her to me once I planted the idea in his head that Edward wasn’t thrilled with his selections.


When Charlie brought Bella to the hospital that day, it was like looking at Renee at seventeen again. I enjoyed giving her the exam I knew was unnecessary. I had all of her medical records and knew she was a virgin. She was constantly watched and it had been verified at every annual exam since she started her cycles and reported to me. It helped that her doctor was an old fraternity brother who was extremely happy with his very young wife. Charlie never knew two of the girls he trained would be living in the same city as Renee and Bella.


He never was very bright. I had to lead him anywhere I wanted him to go. Every idea, every decision came from me. Charlie was nothing but a puppet and I was his puppet master. Before he died, I took great relish in explaining just how long I’d been planning this and the fact that I’ve known all these years where his wife was. I still managed to exact my revenge on Charlie for taking Renee from me even if it wasn’t how I’d planned. I had wanted Charlie to see me with Bella; how I would make her mine. The blank stare that widened with shock as everything became clear to him was a decent consolation.


His comments about Bella’s abilities and submissiveness proved that even though she got away for those ten years, her subconscious remembered Charlie. It remembered the few lessons he was able to teach her in her first seven years.


I have to fix the problem she is creating now. Edward is giving her too much freedom. She will only expect more. As she is now, she will fight me and I can’t have that. I need her complete submission for my plans. I want to openly share her, not hide my desire for her any longer. I would even love to have a son by her after she gave Edward a couple of sons. My life would finally be on track where it should have been since high school.


I saw my computer screen blink that I had a message from my brother. I put everything back in the file and locked it away again. I opened his email and skimmed through. My nephew, Demetri was ready for a wife but without Charlie, Marcus needed some guidance on procuring and training. I smiled. I knew exactly what to do to solve all our problems.


I picked up the phone and called Marcus as I turned back to the window. I watched her as my plan formed in my mind.


“Hello?”

**

“Hello Marcus. How would you and Demetri like to come for a visit? We can discuss his problem. It’s been a while since you’ve been down.”

**

“Sure, we have some time. Demetri and I can be there in a few days. He’s been working out of the office in Hong Kong the last couple of years and just got back last week,” he said. “We’ve depended so heavily on Charlie’s skills over the years that it didn’t occur to me until we were talking that I would need to make other arrangements.”

***

“That’s what I want to discuss with you. Is Demetri planning on working in Hong Kong or Alaska after he marries?” Worst case Alaska wasn’t too far to see her. I knew Demetri wouldn’t have a problem with my plans with the right incentive. I wouldn’t allow him to take her all the way to Hong Kong though. I wanted her accessible when I needed her.

**

“His plans are to work here for the first couple of years or so,” he laughed. “You know, make sure the bugs are worked out. He hasn’t decided past that yet. Why do you ask?

**

I laughed with him. The first couple of years were always the hardest until they were completely broken in. “How do you think he would feel about settling in Alaska permanently if I let him take over all future training needs? I can teach both of you Charlie’s methods and we can find Demetri a girl from the center here. I financially support the center to keep the trustees complacent. They’re just overjoyed that all the girls Charlie took under his wing landed on their feet in good marriages. You may want to consider becoming a supporter after this if you continue to use them. They usually have a wide range of choices since it’s the only center for female runaways within 100 miles. I give all the girls their physicals when they arrive so I already have a file of prospects to choose from. Plus you won’t have the added headache of her knowing the area when you get back.”


I thought internally; if I ended up letting Demetri have Bella, she would never leave the walls of Marcus’ compound ever. That would be part of the agreement. I wanted her kept under constant guard so that she was always protected and kept safe for me. I’d even send Jacob or Embry to be her bodyguard so she’d never escape or be hurt. I knew they were dependable.

**

“That actually sounds like a great idea. I’ll have Demetri email you his preferences when he gets in tonight. I think I can speak for my son and say he would be honored to take over training for the family. Thank you for thinking of him.”

**

“Yes, well I had thought Edward would take the role, but he’s proving to be a disappointment in that area. I know Demetri won’t let the family down.” I had planned that if Edward got to handle all the training then he wouldn’t mind so much letting me have Bella on occasion. He’d be plenty happy.

**

“What’s up with Edward? He has always worked so hard to earn your respect. I’m surprised that would change. I always thought of your boys he was the most like you.”

**

“Yes, well we have a little problem with his selection that he doesn’t seem to be able to handle. That’s part of why I want Demetri to come. It’s been too long since Edward has had a challenge and I think this may be just the thing to get his head back in the game.”

**

He laughed, “So do I tell Demetri before we get there what the challenge is so he’s prepared?”

**

”No. This time I think it will be obvious when he sees her.”

**

“What if he decides he wants her? Are you going to let me buy her? You know I don’t want my son to be disappointed,” he warned.

**

“I want Edward to keep her, but he’s not to know that. He’s going to have to earn her now. I’ll pick an alternate for Demetri if things work out with Edward. If it doesn’t then we’ll negotiate something for her. I know once Demetri sees her he will want her so I’ll be sure the alternate selections are among the best so he isn’t disappointed,” I assured him. “But we’ll talk more when you arrive. Have Demetri email his behavioral checklist tonight and call me when you know your flight.”

**

“Alright, I’ll call you later tonight. Goodbye.”


I hung up the phone and finished formulating my plan. I heard a door slam somewhere in the house and two sets of footsteps running up the stairs.


“Bella, you’re going to pay for that!” Edward was yelling at her.


“No! Edward, please!” she shrieked. “I’m sorry! I swear!”


I smiled. It was about time. I stood and went quietly to the door to watch unobserved. I saw Bella get to the landing a few steps ahead of Edward on her way up to their room. She kept turning back to see how close he was to her. I saw the expression on her face and felt my blood pressure rise. Instead of the fear I expected to see at the punishment she obviously knew was coming, she was laughing as she turned up the next flight of stairs to the third floor.


I saw Edward; his hair and shirt were dripping water. He leaped across the landing at her and caught her, making her scream again. He threw her over his shoulder and continued on to their room.


“I got you now. There’s no escape for you. I’m going to tickle you until you can’t breathe and then I’m going to see how much you like a cold shower, you wicked girl,” he laughed.


“Uncle! Uncle! I give up!” she screamed, laughing. She was hitting his back, hanging upside down. “Please don’t, I need to pee.”


I watched in disgust as he set her down at the top of their landing, laughing at her. “Okay, no tickling. What about a kiss until you can’t breathe instead?”


She bit her bottom lip in that sexy way she does and tilted her face up to him as he leaned down. She shoved him back and took off again to their room. “You have to catch me first!”


Edward growled and took off after her. I heard their door slam twice and then her giggling before silence.


I picked up my briefcase and headed down to my car smiling. That type of juvenile behavior was about to end. I could feel control coming back within my grasp already. I whistled all the way to the hospital. It was going to be a great day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chapter 40

C POV


I tossed aside the wilted and dying bundle of flowers as I laid my bouquet of red roses on the grave. I stared at the tombstone of the woman I’d loved for so many years. I hated the picture on the stone; her face filled with joy and love for a man that should have been me.

I didn’t bother to turn around as I heard footsteps crunch on the gravel path toward me.

“I still can’t believe she’s gone. If I’d only claimed her back in school, she’d still be here with me,” I told the person next to me. “Bella would have been my daughter. I would have spoiled them both rotten. Renee would have been my queen and Bella, I would have raised as a princess,” I said bitterly. He waited silently for me to continue. “How did it go?”

“Their trip went well. There was only one scare early on, but Edward caught her before I had to reveal myself,” he said.

“Damn it! I told that boy to keep a close eye on her. Did she see you?” I asked.

“No, she didn’t. I know how to blend into the background and she never has been that observant.” He smirked, “I could have been right behind her and she wouldn’t notice.” He shrugged, “and Edward has never met me.”

“What about at the house? I know that old lady next door is a world class busybody. Did she see you? You’re supposed to be in China after all,” I said, turning to Embry.

“I rented a dark sedan and fortunately they only went to the house a couple of times.” He chuckled. “They spent most of their time at the hotel or sightseeing around Phoenix. You’d be proud though, if you heard how Edward told off that old biddy when they met. She definitely had him pegged. She never did like me much. In ten years I couldn’t convince her.”

“You’ve done well. Head home. I have a flight to catch. I need to arrive at the conference before Edward gets there. He can’t know I made a stop along the way. I’m not ready to reveal everything to him yet.”

He shook my hand and followed me back to where the cars were waiting. I left for the airport, dreaming again of what could never be. I’d never have the woman I loved, but I would have her daughter to take her place.


B POV

I yelled ‘bye’ to my friends as I got into Emmett’s jeep. I was surprised to see Rose was with him.

“Hey Rose. I thought the doctor told you to stay off your feet a little longer,” I asked.

She found out while we were gone that her pregnancy was going well, but to be safe the doctor wanted her on bed rest for another few weeks. Emmett was beside himself when the sonogram showed they were having a boy.

“Don’t you start too. I can’t help it. The baby wants a chili dog and a chocolate milkshake,” Rose grumbled. She shuddered. “I hate hot dogs. They have chicken lips in them.”

Emmett reached over and rubbed her swollen belly. “I’m gonna have to have another talk with my son. He’s upsetting his mother again.” Emmett tried to console her. “But baby, I don’t think chickens have lips. They’re called beaks and I don’t think they really put them in hot dogs.”

Rose glared at him from her seat and slapped his hand away. “You. You don’t talk to me. You did this to me. Your son is just mean and wants to torture me with his disgusting food preferences.”

“Rosie, baby, please don’t be mad at me or our son. I’m taking you to eat your chili dog aren’t I? Did you want something else? Do you want ice cream? We can go anywhere you want. I’m sure Bella doesn’t mind not going home yet.” He glanced back at me. “Do you, Bella?”

“No I don’t mind. Edward won’t be home for another couple of hours. I’d love a chili dog.”

Rose started crying. “I knew it. You think I’m fat, don’t you?”

Emmett glanced back at me in the rearview mirror. I was trying so hard not to laugh at the exasperated expression on his face. Lately he just couldn’t win with Rose. No matter what he did or said he was wrong.

It was amazing the changes taking place in him. He was so sweet to her and did everything in his power to keep her comfortable and happy. Rosalie was still afraid of how Emmett would want to raise their son. Emmett was changing and becoming a better man, but four years of marriage and how they started had left their mark and she was still afraid.

“Rosalie Cullen,” he stated firmly, “you know I think you’re the most beautiful woman on earth. I could never think you’re fat. You’re carrying my son. If anything that makes you even more beautiful to me. You know I love you. You’ll feel a lot better once you get your milkshake and hot dog.”

Rose reached to pull his hand up to kiss, then turned in her seat to look at me. She smiled at me and sighed. “Isn’t he just wonderful?” she breathed.

I smiled and agreed with her. Emmett had certainly changed for the better. Seeing her eyes shining with love for Emmett reminded me how much I loved and missed Edward. I couldn’t wait to see him this evening.

Our room was lonely at night without him there. Esme and I took full advantage of this time without Carlisle in the house. We stayed up late eating ice cream in the family room and talking or watching sitcoms on TV. Just controlling the remote control was a luxury. We laughed, tossing the remote between us to switch channels.

Esme taught me how to make Edward’s favorite cookies, oatmeal raisin pecan. We even had them for dinner with large glasses of milk. We talked more about our life and expectations when I expressed my surprise that Carlisle would leave us alone to go to a conference.

“Esme,” I started hesitantly, “wouldn’t this be the perfect time for you to leave? While he’s out of town he can’t stop you?”

She shook her head at me. “Bella, you’re forgetting one important fact. The gate is guarded. He made sure I did my shopping early so there would be no reason for me to leave the grounds while he’s gone.”

“But wouldn’t Emmett or Jasper help you leave if you wanted?” I asked. I just wanted her to get away from Carlisle. She deserved to find some kind of peace in life.

“Bella sweetheart, you’re young and still so na├»ve. From the first moment I found out I was pregnant with Emmett, I knew I could never leave. Carlisle would never let me take my son and I would never leave without him. Now,” she stroked my head and smiled at me. “Now, I have another beautiful daughter; the daughter of my very best friend no less, and a grandson on the way. I like to think that my staying helped teach my sons how to love even if they all forgot for a while.”

“But you could be happy,” I stressed. “Alice has Jasper. Rose has Emmett and I even have my Edward now. Besides all of us, what do you have?”

She laughed softly to me and stood walking over to the family room window that overlooked her garden. It was night so there was only the soft illumination of the full moon; her reflection like a mirror in the window pane. I was surprised at the expression reflected back to me. Her gaze was full of love as she stared out into the darkness.

“Bella, I have my children and my garden. It may not seem possible to you, but I am happy. Would I be happier if Carlisle fell off the face of the earth or decided one day to let me go with no repercussions? Of course.”

She turned back to me, her expression fierce. “No one knows better than I the monster I married. You can’t begin to imagine the horrors that man has put me through, put my children through while teaching them how to be men.” She made air quotes with her fingers at the word ‘men’. “But I’ve made my peace with life. I’ve learned what it takes to survive and along the way I found a way to be happy.” Her voice cracked at the end.

“Esme, I’m sorry.” I ran to her wrapping my arms around her to comfort her. “I didn’t mean to upset you. I love you and I just wanted to help.”

I wanted to change the subject because it was obvious our current conversation was upsetting her. I realized again she brought up her garden. I had to ask.

“Esme, what’s the secret to your garden? You always say it makes you happy but there has to be more to it than just growing flowers.”

She shook her head at me. “Not now. You don’t need my secret. You have Edward now.” She smiled brightly at me. “And so do I. I have my baby back finally, thanks to you. Now why don’t we put some of these cookies in a container you can hide in your room as a surprise when he gets home tomorrow?”

I laughed and agreed with her, effectively ending our serious talk.

****

The only downside to my time apart from Edward was my nightmares were back. Last night had been so vivid it woke me up in the middle of the night. I hated nights that I dreamed of Carlisle. I hated that Edward wasn’t there to hold me through them. I felt silly, but I had to tuck his pillow against my back to fake myself out that he was curled against me in my sleep.

I’d spent the last couple of days arguing with everyone but Esme. The arguments fed my insecurities and brought back my nightmares. Jasper and Alice had told me I needed to go back to wearing my ‘normal’ clothes when Edward and Carlisle got back. They told me not to forget myself around him and that I would need to continue to pretend until Jasper, Emmett and Edward could talk about how to unite against him. I got angry and yelled at Jasper, shocking everyone into silence.

“I will not be Bella Barbie!” I yelled. “Drop it!”

Everyone stared at me in disbelief. I’d never raised my voice to Jasper or Emmett.

“Bella, we’re only trying to help,” Jasper assured me.

I shook my head at him and started crying. I couldn’t do it and I didn’t have to. They couldn’t make me. “You don’t understand,” I stressed. “Edward promised me. I don’t have to pretend anymore!” My voice got steadily louder again.

“Bella. That’s enough,” Emmett admonished. “No one is attacking you. All Jasper is saying is to wait until Edward and you have a moment alone to talk.”

“You’ll see. Edward doesn’t want me to act like that anymore. He said I could be myself.”

I prayed I was right. I guess time would tell.

***

I stood in the kitchen fixing dinner for Edward’s homecoming. He called from the airport and told me he’d be home soon. I wasn’t very hungry after eating my chili dog but I knew he would be. Edward didn’t like airline food. I wanted our reunion to be perfect. I also wanted to prove to everyone that he didn’t expect me to pretend any longer which is why I was in jeans, a t-shirt and barefoot. I trusted Edward to keep his promise.

I screamed as I felt arms slip around my waist. I spun around to my Edward’s laughing face.

“Did I scare you?” He laughed.

“You’re home!” I squealed.

I jumped into his arms wrapping my legs around his waist. He quickly caught me and moved me away from the stove to sit me on the counter. Our lips connected instantly in a heated kiss born of longing and need. I raked my fingers through his hair and moaned into his mouth as he pulled me to the edge of the counter so I was pressed tight against his waist. Our lips finally broke apart so we could catch our breaths and I cupped his cheeks in my hands. I preceded to rain kisses all over his face much to Edward’s amusement.

“I…take…it you…missed…me,” he stated between kisses.

I giggled at him and wrapped my arms around his shoulders, hugging him close.

“Of course I missed you, silly.” I responded lightly. I’ve spent the last few days thinking about how much I was falling in love with Edward. Knowing this and not being with him was hard. I just needed to be near him.

“What the hell is going on in here?” a harsh voice demanded.

I looked over Edward’s shoulder as he turned to see Carlisle and Esme standing in the doorway. I glanced at Esme to see a wistful smile on her face as she looked at Edward. Carlisle’s face was full of disgust. He pointed an accusing finger at me.

“You will clean this entire kitchen and disinfect it. Food is prepared in this room. Edward, take her to your room if you need a release. I don’t want to see that in here ever,” he sneered.

I was surprised when Edward shrugged his shoulders at Carlisle.

“As you wish,” he responded nonchalantly. He then scooped me up from the counter causing me to squeal again. He walked to the doorway carrying me to where Carlisle and Esme were standing and leaned to kiss her on the cheek. “Hello mother.” He then turned to Carlisle, “If you’ll excuse us. I’m taking you up on your advice. We’ll be in our room.”

Carlisle stepped aside stunned into silence as Edward carried me down the hall to the staircase. Edward carried me up the stairs and to our room.

“Care to do the honors?” he said as we got to our room.

I reached down and turned the knob, pushing the door open for him. He kicked the door shut behind him and carried me to our bedroom. He tossed me onto the bed and lay down on top of me.

“Now where were we before we were so rudely interrupted?” he breathed against my lips.

“Mmm, I don’t know. Why don’t you remind me,” I whispered back just has Edward brushed his lips with mine.

He was trying to be sweet, but I wasn’t having that. I missed him too much with my newfound knowledge of love. I raked my fingers through his hair and pulled his lips closer to mine. He moaned as our tongues collided, our kiss becoming more impassioned.

“God I missed you,” he groaned breaking our kiss.

“I missed you too,” I whispered in return. I saw the tiredness in his eyes and decided to do something about it.

“Let me up a minute,” I asked.

He stared down at me in worry. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he moved away from me.

I leaned over him and kissed his nose smiling.

“Nothing,” I grinned. “Roll over.”

“Why?” he asked suspiciously, quirking his eyebrow at me. I could see the smile playing at the corner of his mouth.

I put my fists on my hips and pouted. “Just do it,” I huffed.

He rolled over onto his stomach and pulled the pillow into his chest curling his arms around it. I hiked one leg over his waist so I was straddling him and sat down. I massaged his back in long soothing strokes. Edward groaned in appreciation so I increased the pressure of my strokes earning even deeper groans.

“God, Bella. You have no idea how good that feels,” he moaned.

I smiled knowing I was making him feel good and I wasn’t doing anything I didn’t want to. After a few moments I started feeling a little playful, so I started writing words on his back. I wrote “Bella loves Edward” before he caught onto what I was doing.

“Are you writing on me?” he demanded playfully. He rose up to look at me over his shoulder.

I put on my innocent face.

“Who me?” I grinned.

He caught me off guard by quickly rolling over, effectively pinning me beneath him. I screamed as he began to tickle my sides. He continued to tickle me as I screamed until I was breathless.

He relented long enough for me to catch my breath as I stared into his eyes. I held his gaze as my hands moved to stroke his face and the hair hanging in his eyes. For the first time I recognized the look in his eyes. It was the same look I’d been seeing in the mirror the last few days. Edward loved me. He wasn’t seeing Bella Barbie, he was seeing me. And he loved me! I was safe with him and always would be. I loved him and he loved me. I would tell him soon about his father. I didn’t want to break the mood right now. I was surrounded in love and I wanted to stay buried safe in my cocoon a little while longer.

He lowered his face to mine so our lips barely touched and whispered, “I love you, Bella.”

Before I could utter any type of response our lips fused in a heated kiss. After several moments his lips covered my eyelids and then the corner of my mouth before trailing my jaw down my neck to that sensitive spot that only he knew at the juncture of my throat and shoulder. He tugged the neck of my t-shirt to the side to give him more access but couldn’t get where he wanted to be. He rose up and looked at me, his silent question in his eyes.

I smiled gently and nodded. His lips crashed with mine again as I felt his hand at the hem of my shirt. He gently raised it, breaking our kiss only long enough to get it over my head before tossing my shirt on the floor. My bra quickly followed. Edward stared down at me his eyes darkening to a deep forest green at the sight of me. He slowly lowered his mouth to my aching flesh. I needed him so badly. I wanted everything but knew it would be a mistake this soon.

He gently suckled my breast while his fingers stroked and tweaked my other nipple. He rose up and blew on my wet nipple causing it to pebble even harder under his attention. My fingers left his hair to stroke along his shoulders. I waited what seemed an eternity while he continued to tease me. He would stroke my nipple with his tongue before blowing his breath on it to cause it to pucker before moving to the other to do the same. I was moaning and arching my back trying to show him I wanted more. He was driving me crazy until I couldn’t take it any longer. When he came down to my breast again I grabbed his head and held him there.

“Please,” I whispered.

I felt more than heard his chuckle against my breast.

“Do you want something?” he asked.

“Please don’t tease,” I begged.

His response was to suckle my breast deeply into his mouth, gently biting my nipple. He lathed attention to my breasts as I became more heated with need. I knew where everything was leading and struggled with myself. I was torn between want and need. I needed Edward. I needed him to make love to me. My body was crying out for his. I needed the security of knowing I was safe from Carlisle before I could give herself to him completely. I whimpered when I felt his hand undo the button of my jeans. I was so torn, because I knew it wouldn’t be pleasant denying him after I allowed him to get this worked up, but there was nothing for it. I had to stop him. I moved to stay his hand from my zipper with my own and felt him tense.

“Edward, stop. Please,” I whispered. I was afraid of his response.

I was shocked when his only response was to roll off of me and throw his arm over his face. I couldn’t see his eyes, but I heard his jagged breath. My eyes traveled down to the heavy rise and fall of his chest and smooth abdomen. My eyes traveled further unbidden and could see the bulge that spoke what our activity was doing to him.

I was so torn in that moment. I wasn’t ready to resume everything we had done before, but I wanted to give him something, anything to show him I loved him and appreciated how patient he was being with me. I just didn’t know what. What could I give him that would be something just for him but wouldn’t require me doing ‘that’. I smiled as I finally had my answer. Edward’s breathing was slowing down so I sat up on my knees.

The shift in the mattress alerted him to my movement. He moved his arm staring at me in confusion.

“What’s wrong Bella?” he asked.

“Nothing. Close your eyes,” I replied.

I pulled his shirt up and kissed his chest causing him to suck in his breath.

“Bella, don’t,” he whispered. “I can’t promise I’ll be able to stop.”

“Let me do this for you,” I asked.

It felt so different this time. I was asking because it was what I wanted to do. I wasn’t being manipulated or forced to pretend. I wanted to make him happy. I unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans, his erection standing out proudly within his boxers. I slipped my hand inside his boxers and stroked his penis as I resumed kissing his neck and chest. I gently bit his nipples causing him to moan as I continued to stroke him, playing with the slit and using the precum on the tip to lube my hand.

“God, Baby that feels so good,” he groaned.

I smiled that I was doing this to him. I was making him feel good on my terms, which was making me happy in return. This was what my mother always tried to get me to understand when talking about sex and relationships. This is what had been lacking in our intimacy before. Love. True love is what was missing. The fact that I loved Edward is why this time was different. I realized this was on my terms whatever I chose to do in this moment. He wasn’t manipulating me or forcing me. In fact, one arm was fisted in the sheets and the hand stroking my back wasn’t pulling me down to him. He really was leaving all of this up to me.

I leaned up and kissed him deeply again. When our lips broke apart, he stared up at me with smoldering eyes and I smiled at him trying to show him the love I couldn’t yet say.

“Close your eyes and just feel,” I softly ordered.

He groaned but closed his eyes. I sat up and stared at his massive erection that I was stroking, precum leaking steadily from the tip. I clenched my teeth in determination. I was going to do this on my terms. I felt empowered as I lowered my lips to the tip of his penis. I engulfed the tip as I heard Edward’s sharp intake of breath.

“Bella, no, don’t,” he groaned. “You don’t have to do this. I know you don’t like it.”

I smirked as I took him deeper into my mouth. His mouth told me ‘no’, but the hand gently stroking my hair told me ‘yes’. I sucked him down as far as I could, relaxing my throat to take him deeper. As I came back up I kissed the tip and then kissed and sucked down the sides before taking him back into my mouth. I continued to bob up and down as I stroked his balls, gently squeezing and pulling on them. When I felt him begin to twitch in my mouth, I rose up and resumed pumping him with my fist until he came all over my hand and his stomach. Edward voiced his release by shouting my name.

He opened his eyes to me. They shone with love and gratitude. He’d liked the release I’d given him, even if I didn’t swallow his semen. I smiled shyly back at him. He pulled me gently to lay with him again.

“Bella, that was more than I ever expected. Thank you.” He tilted my chin to look up at him. “You do know you didn’t have to do that though right?”

I smiled at him and answered softly, “I know. It was my choice. I wanted to make you feel good.”

“Well,” he started, looking down at the mess on his stomach. “I guess I need a shower now,” he laughed.

I sat up with him and watched as he left the bed and headed toward the bathroom. I smiled at his gorgeous back and ass. I couldn’t resist as I climbed out of the bed.

“Want company?” I asked.

He laughed and held out a hand to me. “Always, if it’s you.”

***

After our shower we headed downstairs. I figured Esme and Carlisle would have already eaten as it was after his strict meal schedule.

“You do know your dinner is ruined now,” I reminded him as we walked into the kitchen. “I'll have to find us something else to eat.”

The kitchen was clean but when I looked in the oven there were two plates covered in foil. I smiled at Esme’s thoughtfulness.

“Never mind. It looks like Esme took care of us,” I told him.

“Remind me to thank her later,” he stated. “Why don’t you put the plates on the table and I’ll grab some glasses.”

I grabbed two mitts and pulled the plates out setting them on the table as Edward poured two glasses of tea. He held out my chair for me and I kissed his cheek in thanks.

“Thank you,” I said.

“You’re welcome,” he answered.

I smiled as I looked down to place my napkin in my lap. He’d remembered. He treated me like a lady.