Here are the teasers that have been submitted so far:
“I’m huge,” I whine, my stomach looking like it’s about to explode.
“Bella, you should be used to this by now,” Jessica teases.
I look down at the bloated stomach which is now lined with stretch marks and sigh. “I know. But they lie when they say third time’s a charm. There is nothing charming about this.”
“You look beautiful. And with Annie and Finnick being three and four now, I bet you’ll have an easier time with this one. They can help.”
“Finnick thinks babies hatch out of an egg and Annie is going through terrible trees. Neither of them care that there is a new baby on the way, Jess.” I run a hand through my hair and the other one over my belly, feeling all the dents and divots that now grace my skin.
“I bet that hot husband of yours cares, though.” She wiggles her eyebrows. “What was that part of his speech at your wedding again?”
His thoughts were broken as he heard his name called. Instantly, he thought it was an officer, that they had made a mistake by releasing him, because he knew for sure no one would be there to pick him up. His parents disowned him the day he entered Seattle prison. But there was no way he would ever go back in there now that he was out. So he started to run.
“Yo, Cullen,” someone called again. I know that voice, he thought as his steps slowed. Turning around, he saw his friend and ex-cellmate, Emmett McCarty.
“Emmett!” he yelled from across the parking lot as he jogged to one of his only friends in the world.
They did their manly handshake and one-armed hug as they greeted each other.
“Hop in,” Emmett said, gesturing to his truck. It was then that Edward realized what Emmett was standing next to—a run down, beat-up old F-150.
“What the fuck is that?” Edward asked as he pointed to it.
“It’s your fucking ride out of this hell hole. Now get the fuck in.” Emmett laughed.
As Edward got in, he noticed there were bags on the middle of the seat. Emmett had even thought to bring Edward clothes, knowing his clothes from five years ago would be a tight fit. “I’ve got smokes, soda, and every fucking junk food you can imagine, bro. Dig in. But tell me where we’re going first.”
Edward didn’t even think as he said Forks, but Emmett looked at him with concern on his face. “Are you sure?”
There was nothing Emmett wanted more than to take his friend where he wanted to go. But Forks. He’d told him all about Forks, and he didn’t want his friend to go there and be disappointed.
“Yep,” Edward said as he took a smoke from the packet.
“She hasn’t visited you in four and a half years, Eddie.”
“I’ll hitchhike like I was going to, if you won’t take me.”
Without another word, Emmett started his truck and headed out of the prison parking lot. They sat in comfortable silence for fifteen minutes as Edward chain-smoked, before Emmett broke the silence.
“I ahh… I’ll need you to tell me how to get there.”
Edward nodded as they once again fell into a comfortable silence. And as they traveled away from Edward’s home for the last five years, he couldn’t help but remember how he got there.
See You Again
by Romantic Medievalist
“Hey Izzy! Aren’t you awake yet?” I roll my eyes and shake my head in exasperation. Only Angela would be up this early on a Saturday. “Yeah, Ang. Give me a few minutes to get dressed and I’ll be right out. Can you feed London while you wait?”
I walk over to my closet after checking the weather on my iPhone. It’s going to be another overcast day, I think with a grin. “Sure, no problem. I swear on my eternal love for Damon Salvatore that that girl acts more dramatic than Katherine on her first day as a human when you feed her. One would think she hadn’t eaten in days!”
I chuckle to myself as I walk to the bathroom as the queen of drama accuses my cat of being dramatic. And again with the Vampire Diaries analogies…I swear that girl would watch it 24/7 if her body didn’t demand such menial tasks as eating and sleeping.
Like A Hurricane
Why do you love me? Is it rude to ask?
I don’t mean to be obnoxious. I just…I know me.
The me you can’t possibly know.
And if you knew me like I know me, you wouldn’t love me.
I know me.
And I don’t like me.
How could you love what I don’t like?
Klaus paused mid-step, lips pursing and eyes narrowing. There it was again. That twinge, that slight twist as though a dagger had pierced through his heart. But there was no such threat.
No, there was no such threat… but there was emotion.
Or the distinctive, telling lack thereof.
A comforting numb encompassed him for an entire minute before he could shake it off, could focus on why he was feeling such instead of be overcome by the sensation of it. The numb was a comfort, he could tell by the undertones of it; as though the person feeling it was relieved they could feel nothing.
Locking his jaw, the hybrid’s eyes flashed amber. Something, instinct perhaps, told this was no random encounter and nor was it by a witch’s hand.
This was the one he had been waiting for.
This was his mate.
A snarl built in his chest then, at the thought that his mate, the woman meant for him, was feeling so. Disappearing from the middle of Bourbon Street, he reappeared in the middle of the compound, calling his brother’s name with such naked emotion Elijah had not heard in centuries and the mated Original recognized it instantly.
He stalked past him, not stopping, his face twisted with fury. “Yes. We have to go—”
“Immediately. Niklaus, we—”
“Call the witch, Elijah. Then pack.”
Elijah paused, his lips pursing as he looked up at his brother already just a shadow on the wall of the second floor. “You wish for me to come with you?”
Klaus sighed. “I cannot do this alone,” he admitted, his voice low but louder, stronger, than a whisper.
Brown eyes narrowed at the words, surprised by the admission. But, recovering after a moment, he nodded, flashing to his brother’s side and gripping his shoulder. Even then, blue did not meet brown, and Elijah’s jaw locked.
“I will be ready within fifteen minutes, Niklaus. I will make sure the witch is here in half of that time.”
Then he disappeared, leaving his younger brother to close his eyes and give a silent exhalation of relief before his expression hardened once more and he whooshed away.
Sweet Sixteen (A Rest My Soul futuretake)
Dad’s always joked and called me a partier. Like it’s my fault I was born at closing time on the dot at 2:00 a.m. on November 2nd.
I’ve officially been sixteen for seven hours and six minutes, and I look exactly the same as I did last night. Not that I expected to become a B cup overnight, but I thought something would be different, that maybe I’d look older or smarter.
“Mack!” Mom’s voice carries down the hall. “Our appointment’s at 9:30. We need to go.”
Toby’s sitting at the kitchen table with my grandparents, eating Golden Grahams, and swiping the screen of his Kindle.
“Put that away.” I lean over and kiss the top of his head. “Talk to Nonnie and Paw. You can live five minutes without Five Night’s at Freddy’s.”
“Happy birthday,” Nonnie says. “Have some breakfast.”
I grab a muffin from the plastic container on the counter. “Thanks! I’ll have to take it with me. We’re getting our nails done before the party.”
Toby grumbles a “happy birthday,” turns off his tablet, and reaches for the bacon. Paw stands to give me a hug before we leave. “We’ll see you later,” he says. “Have fun.”
Mom leads the way through the house and out to her car. She avoids most of the traffic by taking Walnut Grove instead of Poplar, and we make it to Midtown with two minutes to spare. Bella’s in the waiting area already, makeup-free and nodding off in her seat.
The bell above the door wakes her, and she looks around. She’s not too tired to stand and walk across the room to wrap her arms around me. “Happy birthday.” She takes a step back to look at me and shakes her head. “Sweet sixteen. I can’t believe it.”
By: Fleet Sparrow
Damian Wayne stared at his bed and the large furry interloper upon it.
“Grayson. What. Is that.”
Dick grinned. “It’s a present! Bruce got me one of these when I got my first cast off, so I thought I’d continue the tradition!”
“I’ve broken an arm before,” Damian grumbled. He looked back at the giant bear sitting on his bed. It was taller than Father! “What am I supposed to do with it, Grayson?”
Dick shrugged. “Cuddle it. Play with it. They’re really comfy for naps.”
Damian shook his head. “It’s ridiculous, Grayson.”
Dick just laughed and patted his shoulder. “Enjoy!”
Damian just glared at his brother as he left. Ridiculous.
He moved over to the bed, eyeing the stuffed bear suspiciously. It didn’t seem particularly dangerous. Grayson wasn’t one to play tricks, either, not malicious ones. So this thing was probably safe.
“Well, bear, I suppose now it’s my duty to name you.”
The bear just sat there, its head lolled to one side as if it was waiting to hear its new name.
Damian frowned in thought, absently scratching his arm the way he couldn’t in his cast. “You would never be much use in the field, so Bat-Bear is out of the question. You’re mostly useless, so I could call you ‘Drake’” — he smirked — “But I don’t really want any reminder of him.”
He reached up and grabbed the bear in a way that was definitely *not* a hug and tried to lift it off the bed to look at it closer. Unfortunately, it was only precariously balanced upright, so when he pushed to get a better grip, it fell backward, taking Damian with it.
EPOV of Part One of If This Then
By: Bled Dry/Louise Lefay
I know I should end things with Tan before I start anything with Bella, but… Just because we talked on the phone that one time, I don’t… I mean, I don’t know if she’s into me. I’ve never known her to have a boyfriend, but she’s so fucking cool. She isn’t going to look at a loser like me. She’s probably into college guys.
I may be acting like a creep. I can’t not sit close to her. When she’s standing, I’m beside her. Even when she steps away, I take another step to be near her. And that’s when Alice whisks her away.
Tan wanted to go home early. I should probably be pissed, but I’m happy because it means I get to see Bella at Alice’s tonight. I thought Jake would be mad, too, but he seemed just as happy to call it a night. So now I’m here, wondering where Alice has taken Bella to.
Tyler passes me his cherry brandy, and I take a swig, quickly following it with another. Garrett’s right; it tastes like fucking cough syrup, but I think I may need a little courage. Bella’s not really showing any interest in me. Maybe I need to make something resembling a move on her.
Ha! As If I know anything that would resemble a move.
The brandy makes its way around again. I take a bigger swig this time. It burns, but it’s going down a little easier. It’s helping me formulate a plan. I’m just going to go all in.
I’m going to kiss her at midnight.
Just One Chance
“Hi,” he says with a beautiful smile full of pearly white teeth.
He chuckles and runs a hand through his damp hair, showing off an impressive bicep under the sleeve of his blue t-shirt. “I’m sorry to bother you. I just wanted to say hello and see how you’re doing.”
“How I’m… doing? Is that a joke?”
His eyes dart to the empty wheelchair beside me. “No. I didn’t mean…” He swallows and glances to his left. “I’m Edward,” he says, thrusting a big hand toward me.
It’s warm and a little damp when I shake it, and I’m completely bewildered by this awkward conversation.
If it can be called that.
“Bella,” I tell him. He doesn’t release my hand right away, and I realize I’m still holding on tight, so I loosen my grip enough to let him know it’s time to let go.
“Right. Bella.” His disarming smile makes another appearance.
“Do you have veneers?” is my intelligent reply, having been dazzled and apparently rendered stupid by his row of shiny teeth.
A sweet laugh tumbles out of him. “No. Just good genes, I guess.”
“No shit,” I mutter.
“Look, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to bother you. It’s just… Would you, uh…” Edward palms the back of his neck and looks at his shoes with another soft laugh.
Alarmed green eyes find mine again. “What? No. No, I’m just a little nervous,” he says with a small frown that looks all wrong on his face.
What could this Grecian sculpture ever have to be nervous about?
A corner of his mouth tilts up, and those damn eyes actually sparkle at me. What the fuck?
“I always get kind of nervous when I ask a beautiful woman out.”
Several things happen in quick succession. A hot flush rushes over me, my mouth hangs open like a freaking sex doll, I blink and blink and blink at him, and then I turn my head away completely because I know I look like a moron, but… What the actual fuck did he just say?
My mind processes the shock and then moves on to suspicion as I notice several pairs of eyes watching our exchange, and I turn back to find him still standing there, hands stuffed into the pockets of his track pants.
“So, would you lik—”
“Did someone put you up to this?” I ask, cutting him off. “Because it’s not fucking funny. I don’t deserve to be ‘played’ or whatever the hell it is you’re doing.”
I’m shaking, and I want to cry, but I won’t. Not in front of him, because it’s probably exactly what he wants to see.
Edward shocks me by falling to his knees beside my machine. “No, Bella. What? I’m…” He rakes a hand through his hair again. “Do you really not recognize me? At all?”
“I’ll take that as a no,” he replies softly.
“Why would I recognize you? Are you a friend of Peter’s?”
“No,” he says with a shake of his head. “I was there, um… at your house? I was one of the first responders when you, uh…”
My face goes nuclear, and I drop it into my hands. “Oh, God,” I squeak. “You’ve seen me naked?”
I hungered for his touch, for the warmth of his hands, to feel his lips on the side of my neck. I craved him, even though I knew I shouldn’t. He wasn’t mine to have, but that didn’t stop me from wanting him.
“Are you okay, Isabella?” Aro asked, snapping me from my thoughts. I realized he had caught me daydreaming again. Thankfully, he didn’t know who or what I was dreaming about. I removed my hand from the crook of my neck. I had been ghosting my fingertips over my skin, remembering the last time his lips had grazed there.
“I’m fine,” I said, probably unconvincingly. I tried to remember what I had been in the middle of doing before I had gotten so lost in my thoughts. I looked down at my hand and realized I was holding my pearls. “Could you fasten these, please? I seem to be having trouble with the clasp.” Aro silently followed my request. He wasn’t a bad husband. He had been good to me, he had given me everything I could ever need and want. Everything, but his heart.
“I’m not sure how long my meeting will last,” he said, placing his hand on my shoulder when he was done, “but I thought we could meet for a late lunch afterward at the Aria?”
“Sounds good,” I said, turning to him and smiling. The Aria was my favorite restaurant in Atlanta, but I wasn’t smiling at the thought of the food. I was smiling because I would have at least two to three hours with my lover. It felt like it had been forever since I’d been in his arms. The thought alone caused my stomach to do somersaults.
The Ancestors worked a little bit as some sort of hive mind. She had long learned how to ‘tune out’, but she thought it would be wise to tune back in. Not that Kol needed a savior, no, he liked getting beaten up, she figured as much, but because should the Ancestors do anything to hurt the shunned witch that came to visit him, Bella could do something about it. Or try to, at least.
She had to scrape Kol up from the floor of St. Anne’s, and brought him back home where he could recuperate. Thanks to her goats, chickens and pigs, the other witches didn’t like to come to her place and Kol would be semi-safe. Unless he’d piss her off, then he’d have a problem. Bella pushed him onto the couch and lit a fire before leaving him to find him some alcohol to drink. He looked defeated and worried, and she didn’t particularly liked that look on his face. It always meant that there was going to be trouble. For who? It was likely to be for all of them.
“I have to admit,” Bella said as she handed Kol the bottle of bourbon. “She’s a crafty little witch, isn’t she?”
Kol sighed as he opened the bottle and took a swig. “It was great to see her again, she doesn’t even mind this face, how great is that!” He laughed and shook his head. “No one can resist this handsome face.”
“I can,” Bella countered with a flat tone of voice as she sat down in one of the arm chairs. “It has never been a problem to resist you.”
“So you keep saying,” he winked at her. “She came down here to tell me that she found a spell to bring me back and wanted me to look it over. Davina knew I was lying when I said it was a fake.”
“But hey, that’s great, she found a way to bring you back!”
Sighing again, he took another swig of the alcohol. “It’s a Strix spell. Now, back in the old days, my brother Elijah set up a secret society of the world’s greatest minds – all vampires, of course – and they’re a bunch of dicks. They have their own coven and they’re dangerous. The Strix and those witches. I don’t want her to be involved in that.”
“And let me guess… she won’t back down because she wants to bring you back?”
“Exactly and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Bella shrugged. “Just let it happen and then protect her when you’re out. Help her then. Kill the coven and satisfy your bloodlust. It’s not like you to be so afraid, Kol. Man up.”
Kol snorted. “Fine.”
“Don’t act as if you have a better offer, Kol. You want to return to your family, she’s providing the chance. It’ll be everything you want.”
“And I want you to come back with me.”
“Not this again,” she rolled her eyes at him and relaxed into the chair. She couldn’t wait for him to go away.
Chapter two of Exes and Ho’s
By: Robsmyyummy Cabanaboy
“Tired of fighting off the wolves. When are we gonna catch a break?”
Her head falls into my chest, her shoulders shaking while she muffles her laughter.
“I’m not kidding, Bella. The next time I find someone pulling an Anthony Weiner and texting you their dick, I’m gonna fucking lose it.”
“Alice apologized a hundred times for that. It was supposed to go into the Relay system for our records and she mistakenly sent it to my phone. Everything is coded for privacy. She highlighted the wrong code. Easy mistake to make, but I promise it was a one-time thing.”
I shake my head, seething at the monstrous image. “Yeah, well, Dirk Diggler better keep it in his pants.”
“I’m his doctor, honey.”
“Why can’t he see Whitlock?”
“Because it’s in my contract that I get all the porn stars.” She smiles obnoxiously and twists my hips back and forth. “Get over it, Edward. I don’t complain about all the tight tushies you get to ogle during evals and surgeries, do I?”
“I don’t ogle. I do my job.”
Her pointed stare softens me a bit. Both my pigheadedness and my dick. “Exactly. You’ve been listening to Emmett’s urban legends way too much. I’m sure he’s just jealous anyway.”
“Of Dirk Diggler or the tight tushies?”
She tips her head back, cackling. “Both, I’d imagine.”
Over the Brooklyn Bridge
It’s an odd sensation, being suspended above the river like this. The murky water is so far below it appears almost motionless, the cars zoom past – almost like a blur of white noise. Justin feels slightly off kilter, even though the pavement is firm beneath their feet. Like he could fall at any moment, yet he knows he won’t.
Justin squints into the bright sunlight towards the other end of the bridge, where the city looms like a beautiful painting, increasingly huge with every step they take.
Its pointed architectural edges seem to shimmer and melt, heaving in the early morning sun.
It’s times like this that he forgets he’s in New York City. Alone out here on this sweltering August morning, it feels like they’re somewhere remote.
He catches Brian’s hand as it swings by his side and entwines their fingers – their hands are sweaty and their rings rub together, but he doesn’t care.
Bad Moon Rising
by Meeko Tales
Gripping the stake in his hand, Kol fled the house instead. Sighing, Bella looked back over at Klaus and Rebekah. “Always placing your trust in the wrong people, Niklaus. When will you ever learn?”
“He was going to kill me!” Rebekah cried out, angry at her brother for letting the other leave.
Klaus smiled. “Well, then. I think you need a lesson in how to properly dagger a sibling.”
“Burn in hell,” she muttered, turning and leaving the house as her brother frowned, watching her.
Bella ran a hand through her hair, not knowing where to go. Kol was in the wind, and she was here with Klaus now. Whatever Kol had planned, she was sure that he wasn’t going to end well, and it wasn’t because of something he was going to do. She didn’t trust everyone else that was involved with searching for this mysterious cure many mentioned time and again. Deciding to stick with Klaus, she figured that eventually he might reveal something else that was going on, or lead her to something that would open up more of the larger picture of why she was feeling such a strong compulsion to be involved with their mess.
It was some time later when Klaus left the house that she followed. She wasn’t sure what he was up to as he walked up to the door of an unassuming house, but when the door opened to find the hunter boy that was with Damon and a girl, she glared at the vampire as he tried to talk them into taking the boy into his care. Eying the girl, the way she held herself, Bella had a bad feeling about her. She recognized a manipulative spark in her eyes that Alice Cullen held whenever she attempted to weave her lies.
When the teenagers closed the door on Klaus, and he walked away, frustrated at their stubbornness, she entered the house through the closed door. She quickly found the two in the kitchen with a familiar looking weapon between them. “You stupid idiots. This won’t end well for any of you,” Bella whispered to herself as they plotted to kill Kol to lift the compulsion on Damon.
Bella did not understand why she would be so drawn to the disastrous events unfolding in this small Virginia town. She tried to contemplate the multitude of reasons as she sought out Kol Mikaelson, even knowing that she was completely incapable of doing anything on her side of death. Instinctively, her mind cataloged through whatever spells she had memorized from when she was alive, believing that one day she might be able to give a hand to fixing whatever was set to occur.
New faces had randomly begun appearing as she made her way through the streets of Mystic Falls. Faces of the dead, she was sure, as they looked directly at her with judgmental scowls. Narrowing her eyes, she knew that her emotional sympathies to the vampire did not put her on friendly terms with the grand majority of the dead witches that were in that world of misery.
Pausing to take in just who was watching her, she also realized that she was beginning to see more vampires aimlessly wandering around. A pretty blond trailed after the other Salvatore vampire, complaining about Damon. Other supernatural beings roaming around much in the same way, or like her, observing but completely unaware of one another. It was something she had learned shortly after her death, the segregation of the magical where she lingered.
Shaking her head, clearing her thoughts of the dead she was now seeing, she set back on her path to locating Kol when she ghosted away from the street and found herself standing in a school hallway. Her eyes were cautious as she looked around at the darkened corridor when she heard the sound of something, or someone, being shoved against lockers nearby.
Bella turned around the corner in time to find the young witch subduing Kol. Balloons began popping including a set right next to her head that would have had the girl jumping in fright had she still been alive. Seeing and learning what she had over her years dead, she could easily tell the Bennett witch was unraveling in the dark magic she was exploring. Magic she was never meant to handle.
A small smile ghosted on the ghost’s lips as the witch ran off frightened by her own doing. Looking down on Kol, she let out a sigh as he pushed himself up, cursing everything about the teenagers in the bloody town. An irresponsible group, Bella agreed, for ones to claim to know better, to be doing the right thing.
It didn’t take long before the doppelganger girl initiated their plan, calling Kol to meet somewhere. She wished she had some way to let him know that it was a trap, his family’s overconfidence and his impatience would ultimately be his downfall. She could see this chapter ending one way.
“You’re still staring,” I accuse when he keeps watching me. It reminds me… It makes me want things I shouldn’t want. He used to just sit and look at me, tell me how pretty he thought I was. Or he would ask for a kiss, taking one before I could answer him. Or telling me he loved me.
It aches to remember, but at the same time, I don’t want to forget.
“I know.” He still doesn’t look away. It makes me nervous and excited at the same time.
He looks down. “You wouldn’t believe me.”
He looks up as our waiter arrives. Edward gestures for me to go first, picking up his menu for the first time.
My heart pounds as I order my brunch, barely getting out the words. I can’t take my eyes off him; the way he smiles as I put in my order, the way he licks his lips before he speaks, and the way his eyes keep falling back to me.
“Still a fan of pancakes and bacon?”
“I know what I like.” I shrug, my double meaning lingering between us. I almost take it back but decide not to. Let him think what he wants.
I take another drink and chance a look at him. He’s rubbing the back of his neck, his gaze on the table in front of him. It’s something he used to do when nervous, and I love that I can still see part of the old Edward in him.
“I like that your tastes haven’t changed.” He’s fighting a smile, and the faintest of blushes lingers on his cheeks.
His words hit where they’re meant to, and as much as I want to reply, I can’t.
When Hunter was seven years old, he had a panic attack.
He hadn’t known what it was at the time. When he looks back on it now, all he can remember is that the sound of his heart had pounded in his ears and his breath came out in short painful gasps as he looked down at his father, bleeding and almost unconscious on the floor.
“Son of a bitch,” his mother had muttered, words slurred with the liquor she had drank just half an hour before, “Comin’ in here like he can take better care of you. Bigger junkie than I’ll ever be.”
He hadn’t looked at her when she said that. The broken bottle with the jagged edges grasped loosely in her hand was the only thing he could focus on.
He remembers thinking the man was dead, which he still can’t figure out if he had been sad about or not. He probably wasn’t, just like he wasn’t the next time or the time after that when his father had close brushes with death.
That hadn’t been the case this time though. Within a couple of minutes, his father had gotten up on shaky feet, cursed out his mother, and stumbled out of the rundown house with not even a second glance at Hunter. The whole ordeal must have lasted ten minutes tops.
His panic attack had lasted two hours.
He had tried to calm down in his room, away from his mother and the broken bottle. He may have been young but he has never been stupid. He heard how the neighbors talked. About his mother. About him. About his tattered clothes, sometimes stained when his mom disappeared on a bender near laundry day.
But no one ever did anything about it. No one ever really cared if he was okay or not. No one ever really wanted him.
His father said he had wanted him that night but Hunter knew that he wanted the check that he could get from the state more. Even then, Hunter had been glad his dad didn’t make him leave. He still doesn’t think that his sperm donor would have offered anything better than he had been getting, at that point in time and for the years that came after. Hunter has never felt anything for him. He never really got a chance to.
So when he was 13 and his mother had stabbed the guy with a long carving knife she had bought off of QVC, he hadn’t really felt much at all. It had been easy at that point. From seeing his mom’s fuck buddies beat on her to getting screwed by middle aged men just so she could buy a bottle of pills, he had become skilled in convincing himself that he felt nothing when it happened. That he needed no one. The only hint of fear Hunter could sense when his dad wouldn’t stop bleeding was the sweating of his palms and a slight increase in his pulse, nothing more. He had been more afraid when he eventually realized that he needed to call an ambulance. He figured it would bring questions and eventually get him placed with the state. He was right.
All it had taken was a nice social worker, Logan, a friendly guy straight out of college who seemed to genuinely care about his well-being and future, to make him run. It made Hunter almost believe he deserved better.
Truth is, he had resented Logan for even trying to convince him that a foster home, a loving one with two parents and a dog or whatever the fuck, was the best short-term option for him.
“Just until your mother gets herself help, goes through a short sentence, and becomes sober,” Logan had soothed, “After that, we can reevaluate.”
But the idea of going somewhere that might come off as decent? With parental figures smiling at him and helping him with his homework, urging him to reach towards his goals? Only to go back to the bitch who brought him in the world to use him for profit?
That seemed like hell. And what cemented that feeling was that those smiling parents probably wouldn’t give two shits about him deep down. At least his mom was upfront about it.
He had known he was better off on his own and took off first chance he got. And you know what? He had made more money than he ever made when he was giving up his ass for his mom’s friends. He had a choice now and could turn down the guys who made his skin crawl. Living on the streets wasn’t ideal but he made some friends. Damien, who was kicked out at 15 for being gay. Miguel, who peddled his ass on the streets to support his habit. They cared and that had been almost unheard of when it came to the people in Hunter’s life. But he stuck by them because they all knew the deal. Trust no one. Fend only for yourself.
It was really hard to keep up with that rule when he met Ben Bruckner.
Bella takes a deep breath, steeling herself for an unpleasant, judgmental interaction with the stranger. She looks up to face the man and is taken aback by his demeanor. He is unquestionably handsome, with messy bronze hair, intense green eyes, and a strong jawline. What gives Bella pause, though, is his expression. It doesn’t hold judgment or disdain for her seemingly abysmal parenting skills. In fact, it is the complete lack of judgment combined with the genuine concern etched in the lines of his furrowed brow that strike her momentarily speechless.
“Are you okay?” he asks gently.
She nods. “Yeah, I’m okay, thank you.”
“You, um, have some blood on your lip,” he says, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket and holding it out to her. He takes a few slow steps forward, acting as if she’s a skittish horse ready to bolt.
“Oh!” Wiping her finger across the tender spot on her lip, she pulls it away only to confirm his observation. “I guess I do. Thank you.” She accepts his offering and presses the cloth lightly to the cut.
“So, that seemed pretty intense,” he says tentatively. “You’re sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I will be.” She glances over her shoulder and notes that Alec is watching the interaction intently through the van window. She’s certain he can hear at least part of the conversation even though the window is closed.
When Bella turns back to meet the man’s eyes, his gaze slides slowly to Alec’s window then back to her.
“Could I talk to you for a moment over here?” he asks, gesturing to a spot behind her van.
“Sure, of course,” she replies, stepping forward quickly and brushing past him to reach the place he suggested. She’s had conversations with “helpful” people before and just wants to get it over with. In her experience, these conversations are never actually helpful.
“Look, my son—”
“I don’t mean to intrude—“
They talk over each other, then stop, tossing awkward smiles toward one another.
“I’m sorry. Go ahead,” he says.
“Right. Um, so my son has some behavior issues . . . clearly. He’s seeing someone and we’re helping him learn the skills he needs to better manage his anger. I know this looks bad and I’m sorry if it was upsetting to you—”
“Upsetting to me?” the man interrupts, his tone full of disbelief. “I didn’t come over here because I’m upset. I came over because I want to make sure you’re okay.” He dips his head, coming eye level with Bella, and lowers his voice. “Listen, I saw that he landed some good hits on you. Along with your lip, I see the welts on your arm and what looks to be a bite mark. Frankly, miss, if he was a bit older or any bigger, anyone who saw what happened could rightfully call the police. I don’t know what challenges your son has, but I do know there’s a name for what I just saw, and that’s ‘assault’.”
The man’s gentle demeanor and his frankly spoken truth is nearly Bella’s undoing. She looks down at her feet, blinking rapidly to hold back the tears welling in her eyes.
“I’m not here to judge you as a parent,” he continues. “Or to judge your son. I’m just here as another human being who wants to make sure you both are safe.”
Bella garners the courage to look him in the eye.
“Snakes are the least of your worries up here.”
“Is that right? And what is the most of my worries?”
“Black bears, definitely. And moose are a very close second.”
He smiled that easy, confident, one-with-nature smile that looked so damn good on him. “Don’t worry, Bella. I’ll protect you.”
As unenlightened as my response might have been, I could not deny my swoon for the whole chest-beating Tarzan thing he had going on. Sue me. Not that I was about to let Edward see it.
“Oh yeah? Who’s protecting you? You don’t have a gun in that backpack, do you?”
“God, no. I could never shoot a living creature. It’s all about respecting the animals.”
“Respect the animal while he’s tearing you limb from limb?”
“No, respect the animal so it doesn’t come to that.” He finished the last bite of his sandwich and brushed off his hands on his shorts, which was mildly amusing considering how dirty his shorts were. “Say a bear appears over there on that crest. What do you do?”
“That depends . . . how fast can you run?”
He gave me his stern expression again. It was hot. “Nowhere near as quick as a bear but fast enough to outrun you. Try again.”
I was 19 when I fell in love with Edward Cullen. I was young and stupid and naïve and everything else a nineteen-year-old girl can be when she falls so ridiculously and desperately in love with a boy four years older. That first night was the beginning of five years of falling in love, heartache and tears, bright smiles and the two of us trying to run from each other while holding on for dear life.
She was leaning up against the bar, waiting on a drink, when she heard, “So are you purposely ignoring me?” whispered in her ear, sending shivers down her spine. She spun around, only to come face to face with Edward. He placed his hands on the bar on either side of her, pinning her in.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she mumbled, trying not to moan as he traced his fingers over her arm.
“Let’s go back to my place; I miss you,” he said quietly. Bella looked over his shoulder to see Rose standing by the pool tables, watching her.
“I can’t,” Bella whispered, not sure if she was speaking more to Edward or to Rose, who was shaking her head in disbelief.
“Can’t or won’t?” Edward asked, leaning in to drop tiny kisses on her shoulder. Bella whimpered at the feel of his lips on her skin. Edward didn’t even wait for an answer, just grabbed her hand and led her to the door, not even bothering to say goodbye to their friends. As soon as they arrived at his car, he pushed her up against the door, kissing her fiercely. She raised her hands to his head, grasping his hair as she always did while he reached for her ass, pulling her hard against him as he always did.
“Let’s go,” Edward mumbled against her lips, pulling away to help her into the car.
I’m so stupid, Bella thought as they drove away.
I’ve been drifting in and out. Now I’m wide-awake again. I sit up in bed, straining my eyes to adjust to the darkness. I need to get out of here. I need to burn off this delirious tension that’s fizzing through my body.
I lace up my sneakers, making double knots. Precise and sure, my movements are slow, measured, despite the overwhelming speed at which I’ve dressed into my running gear. I locate my iPod from my desk and slide it into my arm strap. My earbuds go in, my watch gets reset, and I’m on my way.
A long, drawn out groan.
A gasp of relief.
While I’ve just run a personal best, those weird noises aren’t mine. I make my way toward the stairs to go up to my apartment, my breathing leveling out, my heart slowing. Mist swirls in the air, the result of my warm breath being released into the frigid chill of the apartment lobby.
My heart doesn’t slow for long. It quickens with my pace as I approach the top of the stairs, taking in the glorious figure there. Long, lean form standing back against his apartment door. Wifebeater, baggy shorts, backward cap. Sweaty, slightly flushed face, labored breathing. Long fingers wrapped around a water bottle. Adam’s apple bobbing as he chugs the cool liquid, recovering from the set of press-ups he always does after his run. Why he can’t go inside his apartment and do them is beyond me. But hey, I’m not complaining about the delicious sight of him all sweaty and sexy.
A Question of Time
“I knew this was a shitty idea,” Mallory mumbled as she shook her head and chewed on her already bitten-down nails.
Edward was still adjusting to the fact that she was sitting not two feet away from him dressed in clothes that were a mish-mash of worn jeans and what looked like a man’s fleece with heavy make-up. After all the pleading, the calls, the searching for the last few months, she was here and she was still making him feel things that he wasn’t use to feeling for anyone.
He knew that if this meeting went wrong, it would be all over. She would disappear again, and she would make sure that it would stay that way. She had proven that all of his money meant nothing if she didn’t want to be found. She was clever, more so than he had originally given her credit for, and that was part of her appeal.
Maybe if he got her to a more private place, he could find out why she sought him out, fix the way things ended when they were last together, and perhaps, just perhaps convince her to stick around awhile longer.
He turned to find her watching him. A spark of that thing they had moved between them, giving him the boost of confidence he needed to speak.
“Look, there’s a hotel just across the avenue. We can start over.”
“Fuck you,” she told him without hesitation; anger written all over her face.
“We can finish what we barely started,” Edward continued, not letting her immediate response deter him. “There are two hotels, in fact. We have a choice.”
Mallory gave him one last look of defiance before she rose and moved towards the exit.
Suddenly I was free, having cut ties with the criminal world. Leaving the cafe, I felt like high-fiving the first person I saw. When I reached the bus terminal and saw the next bus was going to Jacksonville, it felt like a good omen—a city big enough to hide me while I found an honest job.
Bella would be proud of me, but I couldn’t risk telling her. It was better no one knew where I had gone.
I slept for a while on the bus and dreamed of Bella holding me in her arms. I woke up feeling the weight of her loss. Now I wished I had opened up to Bella and Emmett, my only good friends in the world, so they wouldn’t remember me as just some two-bit criminal. Even as the miles distanced us physically, they were still in my head, encouraging me to make something of my life, and I felt that should happen before I contacted them again. I owed them that much.
The old RV park had trailers you could rent by the month. It wasn’t much different from living in the Caravan. During the first few days in Jacksonville, I checked the paper for any news of the raid and found nothing. I bought the cheapest phone I could find and called the resort. Bella answered, not in her usual sunny voice, but she was still there working and okay, thank God. As soon as I heard her irritated sigh, I hung up, feeling so lonely and isolated I wanted to give up and go back.
My optimism started to fade. Jobs were scarce, and those available to someone like me paid minimum wage. Bar work would add tips, but I hadn’t found a single vacancy. With no chance of sending money home, it felt like I’d stagnate until someone made me an offer of easy money I couldn’t refuse.
Just as I was thinking of going home to Chicago and begging forgiveness, I saw the sign for a commercial diving school.
What had the barman on the island said? Unbelievable money, no qualifications required.
Be My Memory
The loud hum of the engine going full throttle between my legs was oddly comforting as I pushed my bike to go faster, harder as I made my way down the highway, dangerously passing in between cars and trucks. I looked back, taking notice of the other bikes behind me, my brothers who haven’t left my side in the last few years. There was Emmett and Jasper that were coming up to my right side, with Carlisle coming up to my left. We’d been riding for days, all the way up from Texas, and now we were just an hour outside of Seattle.
Closer to her.
The last time I saw her, I was twenty-nine, done being a prospect, and had just been fully taken into my MC’s fold, The Rebels, when I first walked into Charlie’s pub and set my eyes on her long legs, great ass and heart shaped face that held eyes that were as dark as the deepest chasm.
She hated me instantly. The way she narrowed her eyes at me, bit her lip and turned around to walk way, made me that much more certain that I was to make her mine.
Culprit was a street artist who became visible in the local urban art scene about three years ago. According to the Wiki entry, the artist’s tag had been seen in areas in and around Paris and Madrid, where they created semi-large pieces of limited color palettes. They were beautiful visual poems, Bella thought, and wondered if it all worked together or stood alone as singular pieces.
The article described the art as symbols of lost love, with an inkling of hope in its imagery. Doves, anatomical hearts, and lone figures standing in shadows. Bella scrolled through the photographs of the pieces found in the article. Yes. They were certainly beautiful, and according to what she knew about urban art, was very in tune with European sensibilities. She was in love with the colors, the compositions, the feelings the works engraved on her soul.
The article followed Culprit to Clark City, where it stated that it was unclear why Culprit would’ve chosen the urban town in the first place. It theorized that perhaps it was a personal decision to return to their hometown, although no one was sure if Clark City was their home to begin with. Bella closed her laptop with more questions than answers. Why was Culprit here? Why had they chosen her little community center as their departure from anonymity?
After dinner, we drive to Les Davis Pier taking a walk around and looking out onto Commencement Bay. Bella is snuggled into my chest as, the warm June breeze tickle our skin.
“Have you ever had any close calls since you’ve been in the department?” she asks quietly, and I feel her body shiver.
“I’ve had two incidents since I joined when I was eighteen; both resulting in short hospital stays.” I take a deep breath because I know what I’m asking, “Baby, if you can’t do this with me, I understand. It’s only our first date, and although it will be hard, if you want, I can walk away before we get too involved.”
She looks up at me; one of her hands cups my cheek, her fingers running through my day old stubble. My heart rate increases, the warmth in my chest expanding to take over my entire damn being.
“Do you feel this thing between us?” she asks, her eyes never leaving mine.
I lean down placing my forehead against hers, “God, yes, baby. I feel it.”
“I’m already involved, Edward, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.” She stands up kissing my lips softly.
I pull her into me, my hands gripping her ass obscenely. I know we’ve only known each other a few hours, but it seems like a lifetime.
Staring into her eyes, I give her a crooked grin, “Let’s get you home.”
We drive to her apartment, our fingers never untwining. I bring her hand to my lips several times, the need to kiss her as strong as my need to breathe.
Once we are in her apartment, Bella cuts me a slice of pie she made, and we drink coffee talking well into the night.
Her feet are on my lap, and she’s now wearing a pair of yoga pants and a UDub T-shirt. She’s even more beautiful without makeup.
“When was your last relationship?” She asks sipping on her water.
I take a deep breath and lean my head back. “Six months ago, I had been dating Tanya for a year. She wanted more from me, but I wasn’t as invested in the relationship as she was.”
“Oh? Was it just Tanya or is it relationships in general?”
“If I weren’t interested in relationships, I wouldn’t be sitting here massaging your aching feet.” I bend down and kiss her big toe.
“This could be foreplay for you,” she wiggles her cute little toes.
I take her hand and pull her until she’s straddling my lap. One of my hands grip the back of her neck, and I lean in ghosting my lips over hers.
“This is foreplay, baby.” I take her lips in mine.
Bella and I had slowly begun talking about taking our relationship to the next level, and after all that time together, finally moving her into my house. At first, I thought that was the explanation behind her odd behavior, but when I’d inquired with her about it, and even gave her the option to change her mind, she insisted that wasn’t the case.
We’d both been hesitant about taking the plunge into marriage again since the dissolution of our prior ones, our trust shattered by our previous spouses. Each of us had felt the bitter sting of infidelity, but I was at least fortunate to have never borne witness to the act of it. Sasha had at least given me that much consideration for the fifteen years of our marriage of telling me that she’d found someone else, rather than leaving me to find out for myself through other means. Bella had to find out the hard way, in her own house when she came home early from work one day because she was ill. She had told me many times over the course of our relationship that she’d all but given up on men altogether, and was so glad I came into her life and changed her mind. But was this too much, too soon? With things going so well and both of us happy, should I have left well enough alone?
I began to think that was the case when I stopped by her apartment one Friday night to pick up another load of boxes to take over to my house. I walked up to her door, fiddling with my keys to find the one she’d given me to let myself in, only to find it already unlocked. Since Bella had told me that she would be busy that evening when she called to cancel our usual Saturday night date, I hadn’t expected her to be home. Perhaps she had a project she was working on that she could do from home? Or had someone possibly broken in? My guard went up as I slowly pushed the door open, bracing myself for just about anything—except what met my ears after my first step inside.
Edward leans over the center console of his truck, and pulls Bella into a kiss as soon as she shuts the door. It isn’t soft and sweet like he was in front of their families at the church. It’s need filled and demanding. Wiping the corners of his mouth as he pulls back he winks at her and starts to drive them home.
“My dad was insisting you wanted his help moving us this weekend, but I assured him we are fine. Can you believe he was trying to come move boxes right now?” Bella asks as she unpins the veil from her hair.
Edward starts to chuckle. “That’d be my fault, sorry. I told everyone I was in a hurry to get us moved this evening so that we wouldn’t have to suffer in the heat tomorrow.”
“We live in Texas. Is it ever not hot?”
“Not really, but they fell for it all the same.” Edward shrugs and grabs her hand.
“So why do they think we are?”
“Because we’ve waited long enough and I couldn’t think of a polite way to tell your dad I couldn’t wait to have sex with you any longer.”
“Oh, thank God! You had me scared for a minute. Moving boxes instead of making love to my husband sounded like torture,” she says seductively as she leans over and places her hand on his thigh.
I stood on his small balcony of his high rise apartment looking at the city beneath me. The cars moved like blood vessels in thick concrete veins. Headlights, brake lights, the city of Rojo Panoply pumped around me and I was at the heart of it with Seph.
I had rummaged through his wallet and pockets for address and keys, bringing him home away from the abattoir that was the Corazon Mission where he worked. I knew already what I was going to do next. Before the questions, the answers, and the empty phrases that would suck my precious time at his side away.
Maybe I don’t exist here.
I let myself think it and then I made myself let that play out, running scenarios in my head. There were no pictures of me or us in his apartment. That was new. We were one in every world except mine.
Maybe I could stay here with him.
As if in answer to this foolish thought I saw a shooting star cut through the light pollution above the city, shining hot and bright as it landed miles south of my current position. My hands tightened on the railing. Lakshmi laughed again, shaking me a little less for the time passed since I had used her stolen light. Another couple of hours and she would be back to just another voice in the din of my brain.
The Ma’at have found you, she sing songed in my brain. Heath is coming. The railing creaked under my hand.
Not yet, I told the smug hitchhiker. Not yet, there is still time.
The next day, when I duck outside in Charlie’s borrowed raincoat, I catch another glimpse of the boy next door.
His hair’s darker somehow. Longer on top and cut short on the sides, entirely different from the all-over shaggy mess of bronze I saw last night. He walks out of the house and onto his porch the same time I step onto mine. He pauses in front of his door, peering at me through the sheet of rain.
Charlie joins me outside, and I’m jolted from the boy’s intense stare. Pulling the hood of the raincoat over my head, I step into the rain, sloshing my way through the puddles before climbing into the cruiser.
“You think you coulda avoided those puddles, Bella?” Charlie closes the cruiser door behind him and frowns at the water dripping from my boots.
“I guess I coulda.” I peer at the boy. His face is a blur past the rivets of rain traveling down the passenger-side window. “Someone moved in next door.”
“Really?” Charlie stares at the neighboring house. “Huh, how d’ya know?”
“There’s a kid my age on the porch. See?” But even as I touch the glass window with the tip of my finger, pointing him out, he’s gone. “Nevermind. Must have ducked back inside.”
“Guess he’ll be going to school with ya, huh? Introduce yourself. Be friendly.” His voice takes on a bitter tone, and he backs out of the drive. “Everyone needs a friend.”
“I don’t.” I’m still touching the cold glass.
He lifted his arm, rubbing the back of his neck. Dust billowed around his head from the movement, and he grimaced. “I should go wait outside.”
I stood up, panicked. “No!”
His eyes widened. “I’m dirty, Bella. I’ll get dust all over the place.” He looked around with a frown. “I don’t belong here.”
I rushed around the counter, grabbing one of the towels I’d been folding and a bottle of water. “Wait!”
He froze in place as I twisted the lid off the water and poured it over the towel. I stopped in front of him, reaching up and rubbing the wet cloth over his skin. “It’s just a little dust, Edward. It’s fine.” I pulled the towel down. “See? I got it! You’re fine.”
He shook his head, lifting his hand and touching his cheek. “I’m dirty everywhere, Bella. I’ve been working in the mud and heat all day. I don’t think that towel will cover it.”
My blush started at my feet and burned its way through my body. It bloomed under my skin, flushing my chest and face. Images of his naked body, wet and glistening under the spray of a hot shower, dirt swirling and disappearing down the drain, filled my head. I swallowed heavily. “I…I…”
He stared at me. “Good God, Bella. You have no idea what that blush of yours does to me.”
“It…it does something?”
“My thoughts…”he shook his head. “I can’t even begin to express them to you, girl.”
I shiver ran down my spine at the huskiness of his voice. The way he said “girl,” his mouth wrapping around the word in a low-sounding purr—it made me want to hear him say it again.
He lowered his voice. “I want to touch you. But I can’t. My hands are calloused and hard. My fingernails are dirty. I’m dirty.”
Bravely, I grabbed his hand and pressed it to my face. His skin was rough, but his long fingers stroked my face with a gentleness that almost brought tears to my eyes.
“I don’t care.”
He stared at me, his fingers rubbing circles on my face. “You are so pretty.”
I blushed harder at his direct words.
He bent lower. “I’ve been watching you for over a month. Every smile, every laugh with your friends made me want you even more. I want your smiles. Your laughter.” He dropped his voice. “I want to have breakfast with you—in my bed—not with the crew I work with.”
My eyes widened.
He stood up, easing back, staring down at me. “Do you…do you think you might want that, too?”
Crooked Smiles & Kiss Thieves
The other side of Grant Me A Smile.
Once the makeup artist announces her to be a picture of perfection, she thanks him and walks out of the makeup room only to be met by Lauren again.
“Ms. Swan,” she says, sounding more reserved than before. “Mr. King would like for you to meet him before the camera starts rolling.”
“Okay,” she responds and starts to make her way to the direction Lauren pointed to her.
Just as she reaches the open door to what she presumes is Royce’s room, she runs into a solid wall, smacking her head on it.
With her eyes closed to block out the impact, she feels a pair of arms wrap around her before pulling her away. And that’s when she realizes that it’s a person she just ran into.
As she opens her eyes and looks up at the owner of the arms currently holding her, she feels her breath catch in her throat. A mop of chaotic bronze colored hair and bright green eyes greet her in welcome, making her heart beat pick up.
For a moment, all she can do is stare back at the depth of those eyes as they look at her with a mixture of concern and what seems like awe. Until …
“Ah! Isa, you’re here!”
The sound of Royce’s voice jolts her back from the train of thoughts and she lets her eyes fleet away toward the producer.
Gently, she pushes away from the green-eyed man. Trying not to sound impolite, she responds in a soft voice, “It’s Isabella, Mr. King. And you said to be here now, so I’m here.”
A smile comes over Royce’s face and he nods contentedly. “See, Cullen?” He addresses the other man. “What did I tell you? She’s a professional.”
That’s when she recognizes the man in front of her as the award-winning actor, Edward Cullen.
Edward doesn’t seem to bother to answer Royce as he faces her fully and holds a hand out for her to shake. “Hi, I’m Edward Cullen,” he says, a smile coming over his full lips.
She tries not to notice how one corner of his lips rise a little higher than the other making his smile look a little crooked and that much enticing as she lets her eyes fall on his outstretched hand. “I know,” she murmurs after a moment of silence before turning her eyes on Royce. “Are we ready for the shoot?”
Free Fallin’: There are two sides to every story. This one has a third.
I approached the driver’s side of my car, unlocked it with the fob, sending a text with my other hand. Forks wasn’t well-known for its sunny days, so my friends and I were heading to the beach at La Push to hang out. Ang was working, though; hence the text.
We’re down at the beach when you get off work. – E
Ang and I met our Junior year, when she’d literally run into me in the cafeteria. We’d been inseparable since. That was about to change, though, because college was fast approaching. I was going to Harvard, and all our friends were going to be relatively close to me, too. Ang was staying behind, but I didn’t want to think about that now.
“So, how pissed were you at Ang?” Rose asked, while the others were in the water.
I looked at her. “I’m not sure I get what you mean.”
She opened her mouth then closed it, only to huff out a breath. “She didn’t tell you?”
“Tell me what, Rose?”
“I’m sorry.” She shook her head. “I… Edward, I can’t. She promised me she was going to tell you. If she doesn’t tell you tonight, you come see me tomorrow.” She got up and joined the others in the water, leaving me sitting there, wondering what the fuck just happened.
I closed my eyes, willing my body to relax. Unbidden, the images from the dream I’d had this morning swirled in my mind.
You know how sometimes you have such a beautiful dream that, when you’re about to wake, you cling to the fading remnants of unconsciousness, just so that you could stay in that world for a little while longer . . . how you try to linger in that mysterious state between sleep and wakefulness for a few more minutes to hold on to those wonderful figments of your imagination . . . how, even once you’re awake, you close your eyes and lie in bed, unable to let those images go so soon?
That’s what’d happened to me.
I was lying in Edward’s arms, the heat of his naked body seeping into mine and his sandalwood scent mingling with my own to create a heady aroma that I knew I could never tire of.
All I wanted in that moment was to stay there forever.
But was it all too good to be true?
Could I ever have that with him . . . with anyone?
I opened my eyes with a sigh, dismissing my dream world and picked up my phone to peek at the display.
Three hours and thirty minutes to go.
Life Goes On
“Can’t she just live with us?” Mom pleaded.
“No. Mom, all freshman have to live on campus at least one year,” I said.
She pouted again.
We made our way over to NYU, and I saw all the people moving into their dorms.
“Holy shit,” I said.
“Wow, look at all these people,” Dad said.
I made my way to the front desk, and the girl at the desk gave me a huge smile.
“Name?” she asked.
“Isabella Swan,” I said.
She searched on her computer and smiled.
She handed me a paper to go and get my ID, and then my room assignment.
“Other hall, room 254. Two roommates, and you can get your key at the front desk of you dormitory,” she said smiling.
I smiled and had Mom and Dad follow me.
When I got to the hall, all I could think was … wow.
“It’s big, huh,” Mom said.
“Ginormous. So much different then Forks,” I said.
When my phone chimes with another text, I knock it to the floor in my attempt to grab it off the table. Giggling, I reach for it while trying to remain on the couch. Angela ends up holding onto my jeans to prevent me from face-planting into the rug. She hands me my refilled wineglass and I take a big gulp – we’re past the point of sipping now – as I read the latest text.
Cute pics and vid 🙂 Not sure what you meant with your last text…
Confused, I scroll up, only to groan in embarrassment. Angela takes notice and grabs the phone from me, eager to read what has me so worked up.
“I nailed you? Are you serious, Bella?”
“It’s the stupid autocorrect,” I grumble, taking the phone back.
Typing out a response may take me several tries due to my inebriated state, but I finally manage to save face. Hopefully.
Sorry, that was meant to say I e-mailed you. Which you obviously received. I’ll go drown my sorrow over that fail now. Bye.
I put the phone down again, resigned never to hear from Edward again after that.
Hearing someone trying to unlock it, he grabbed a plastic bat that had been forgotten from Gus’s last visit. He eyed his weapon of choice, realizing he couldn’t scare anyone with a squeaky, rubber bat, and chucked it away in disgust.
Instead of shouting at the robber to leave, or at least calling the police, Brian pulled the door open,ready to kick the person’s ass down the stairs.
“Get lost, you fuc…Justin?” He gasped. “Fuck! What’s wrong?” Brian wrapped an arm around a pale-looking Justin’s shoulder, hustling him inside.
“Stupid key. I couldn’t see which one…Sorry if I woke you.”
“Jesus Christ! You look terrible.”
“That’s why I’m here. I couldn’t be alone…”
“We failed.” She replied near delirious, her fingers slackening on the hilt of the sword. She felt her knees hit the ice hard as her eyes fell on the battlefield once more. Her cousins, her father… her friends… all gone and she was the only one standing of the Company. “There is no more hope.”
“There is always hope.” Legolas gasped as he fell to his knees beside her, leaning heavily on her shoulder as the pain began to recede leaving numbness in its wake. He knew he was dying. There was no use in denying it. “I am glad to have you as a friend, SwiftStrike.”
“And I, too, am glad to have you as a friend, Greenleaf.” She replied, her vision dimming as her fingers and body grew cold. She knew that she was fading, either due to the wounds from the blades or from her own grief. “I forever name you Dwarf-friend.”
Legolas laughed slightly as he lay back in the snow, pulling her with him as they watched the sky darken and the eagles fall one by one. His arm wrapped around her tightly, unwilling to be alone. “And you shall always be an elf-friend.”
“Mukhuh mabaddakhi ya bunmû Mahal, Greenleaf.” Bella breathed out, dragging her arm up slowly and holding the sword to her chest. “I’ll be joining Mahal’s guard soon.”
“If only our kings were not prideful.” Legolas chuckled before coughing, red blood splattering on his ashen face. “Bella? Bella! No, we were not yet meant to go!” Legolas cried as he saw his friend’s still body, blood pooling into the snow.
Bella did not reply, her unseeing eyes already dulled, but she heard the words before the world went dark and she too couldn’t help but think that if things were different then they would have survived this. They would have won. But things had failed; the enemy’s army too great, their numbers too few, and one by one they began to fall; starting with poor Ori, his brothers soon following him and now she was the last. It was unfair.
All shall be well again my stone-daughter; you can change the fate of the world… A voice whispered in her mind. It reminded her of her father’s before he was injured.
You must save them, prepare them for the darkness young Stone Maiden… it must be you…let your heart guide you… An older voice rasped, but she could hear the youth and power behind it, a sound that reminded her of her grandfather before he too passed.
Behind them, still standing at the gravesite, Felix crossed his arms as he watched after them. “The brunette knows.”
Demetri hummed abensetly, not really hearing what Felix said. He was still watching after Jade, the information he had long sought after finally being found. She looked like a fucking carbon copy of his lost love; even smelled like he remembered. It was crisper, clearer, but it was hers.
Felix glanced at his partner, his brow raising. “You’re not just going to drop it and walk away, are you?” When Demetri slowly shook his head, Felix sighed. “And you’re not going to tell me what’s going on with you, are you?” Once again, all he saw was Demetri shake his head, so he nodded. “Alright, how true do you think her theory is?”
Cocking his head to the side as the girls rounded the corner and left their line of sight, Demetri snorted; “Even with as little as I remember of my mother, it’s entirely plausible. She was a self-entitled bitch that only associated with those that could do something for her. The only problem with that girl’s theory is the murder would be motivated by vengeance, not grief. You must care about someone to grieve their loss.”
The corner of Felix’s lip curled. “But why vengeance?”
With a sigh, Demetri started towards the exit, Felix falling in step. “I was Mother’s only son. I would always belong to her. She would have thought Alexandria stole me from her. I never thought too far into the way Alexandria might have died; not after seeing her reaction to hearing I had. I had been curious, but I never asked.”
Felix nodded, clasping his hands behind his back. “And now that you know? Clearly, there’s something about this girl that has you on needle points.”
Pausing once they left the cemetery, Demetri glanced the way the girls went. “I’m not sure.” Looking back at Felix, “But, there will be plenty of time to figure it out.”
A black cab rounds the corner of the narrow block; a block so narrow that Emmett has our SUV parked halfway over the curb to make room for passing traffic. It’s a two-way street, but it’s one of those typical English suburban streets where there’s no way in hell two normal-sized cars will ever be able to bypass each other going in opposite directions.
Nevertheless, the cab doesn’t try to pass us. It parks a few feet behind the SUV on the opposite side, in front of 452.
Emmett’s eyes meet mine, and he grips my shoulder hard. “Are you ready for this, buddy?”
Out of my periphery, I see the back door of the cab open. I turn my head just in time to catch Bella stepping out. She looks…breathtakingly beautiful, haggard, and absolutely exhausted. There’s an edge of agitation surrounding her as well. My hand instinctively moves to the door handle.
Her head whips around, and I follow her trajectory to another car now parking behind the cab. The second it stops, the driver jumps out. My top lip curls into a sneer when I recognize the blond she calls her best friend: Rosalie – the lying, deceitful bi-
The voice, as well as the giggle that follows, distracts me. Searching for the source, I turn once again, this time resting my eyes on a little girl who emerges from 452 with her arms outstretched as she runs forward. I assume she’s running to the blond, to Bella’s friend, as she blurs by, her long hair waving in the wind and small mouth pulled up into a wide grin. As I watch her go, my heart gives two painful and inexplicable lurches. She looks familiar. For a couple of seconds, I can swear I’ve seen her before, and in those same two seconds, I can’t for the life of me imagine where.
As it turns out, she doesn’t run to the blond. Instead, she ends up cradled in Bella’s arms. Bella, who picks up the child and swings her in the air before pulling her in tightly; who runs her hand through the child’s long, reddish-brown hair. Bella, who ran in a panic from my house back at Oyster Bay. Bella, who’s just been addressed as ‘Mummy.’
“Keep it calm, Edward.”
Only vaguely registering Emmett’s words of caution, I step out of the car.
“Hey, Ed, it’s closing time,” said the huge bartender, Frank. “Can you drive? You’ve been drinking like a fish all night.”
“I’m good,” I said, slamming back my shot. I didn’t drive here in the first place. I don’t think I could get a ticket for flying while drunk. I could get a slap on the wrist from the Big Guy upstairs, but he was kind of pissed at me at the moment.
Or sixty some-odd years.
Whatever. I reached into my wallet and pulled out some cash, tossing it onto the bar. “See you tomorrow, Frank.”
“Don’t you work?” Frank asked, arching a brow.
“When I want to,” I shrugged, waving at him as I slipped out of the bar. I lit up a cigarette, inhaling deeply. I understood why humans enjoyed this, even though it was deadly to them. It was strangely calming, feeling the nicotine fill my lungs, the burn making me feel alive even though I wasn’t really alive, but I wasn’t dead either. I was just here.
I finished my cigarette, stomping it with my foot. I walked toward a dilapidated old car and toward the woods behind the bar. Once I was out of sight, I rolled my back and felt my cramped wings unfurl, poking through the holes I had in my jacket. “Sorry, boys. I can’t exactly walk around with you guys out,” I quipped to my wings. I stretched them as far as they could go, about ten feet, reveling in being able to keep them out. But, I really couldn’t walk around with them on display. “It might attract attention.”
I’m talking to my wings. You are a fucking mess.
Shaking my head at my own stupidity, I crouched down, pushing off the ground and took off to my home in the woods of Forks, Washington. I smiled as the cool, humid air that covered my face and I flew freely through the thick cloud cover, twisting, turning and doing loop-de-loops. Nothing was as freeing as flying. I loved flying.
But, how can I fly?
Right. You don’t know why.
My name is Edward Cullen and I’m an angel.
A fallen angel.
One mistake and you’re banished to earth for all eternity.
That just sucks.