Chapter 7 of Infinity Claims

Over the next several months, Bella slowly began to accept her life without her Mama and her Dada.  Louise and Brad were kind and very patient with her.  The worst time was at night, when she was lying in her little bed, clinging onto her Eddie Lamb and thinking about not only her parents, but Edward.  She wondered if the bad people had hurt him or his parents.  Louise had asked if her lamb had a name and Bella said no.  She had to protect Edward, like her father said many times.


“Lizzy Bell, you are part of a very large family, and, as a member, you have to protect the family and respect them with everything you have.”


Bella didn’t know what was happening with her extended family, but she remembered what Caius had told her, and would pretend to be Bree as long as she needed to do so.


Louise and Brad showed her how to take care of the many animals on the farm.  Bella especially enjoyed the horses.  Brad began teaching her how to ride on a small spotted pony named Lilly.  At first, she just sat in the saddle while Brad lead them around the corral, then, over time, she became comfortable riding without his help.  After showing Brad she could control Lilly with ease, he moved her up to a filly named Grace.  She was a much bigger horse, but was a gentle, well trained animal, and seemed to form a special bond with Bella.


All summer, Bella rode Grace, and helped take care of the other animals on the farm.  Louise and Brad introduced her to people as their grand-niece, whose parents who had passed away in a car accident.


When September rolled around, it was time for Bella to begin school.  They used the fake documents that Caius had giving them and enrolled her.  She was old enough to be in first grade, and was placed in Ms. Thomas’ class.


There were only ten students in the class, and Ms. Thomas was able to get a feel of each student’s academic level and was quick to notice how extremely bright Bella was.  After talking with Louise and Brad, it was determined that Bella be giving an aptitude test to see if she needed to be placed in a class that would challenge her.  When test results returned, it was just as Ms. Thomas suspected.  Bella was reading at a fourth grade level, and her math skills were at the sixth grade level.  After talking to Louise and Brad, they planned for her to remain in Ms. Thomas’ class, but would also have some one on one instruction from Mrs. McCarty.


Mrs. McCarty was only a part-time teacher, who specialized in children that were gifted.  She was married to Emmett McCarty, an ex-NFL player who retired after eight seasons.  He wanted to enjoy life with his lovely wife, while he was still injury-free.  They purchased a home in the small town of Youngstown, and planned on starting a family.   After several years of not becoming pregnant, they went to the top OB/GYNs in the country.   They determined that Emmett, not Rosalie was the reason they were struggling with fertility.  They had a one in a million shot of ever becoming pregnant naturally.  Heartbroken over the news, they decided to take some time and let fate take its course.  Rosalie began teaching the gifted students at the local school, and Emmett opened a small law office, using the degree that he had earned before joining the NFL.


Bella was taken to Mrs McCarty’s classroom.  “Bree, this is Mrs. McCarty, she is going to be your special teacher every day.”  Ms. Thomas said.


Rosalie came over to them, and bent down to Bella’s level.  “Hello, Bree.  I think we are going to be good friends.”


Bella smiled and nodded her head.


“Ms. Thomas, I think we are okay here.  Thanks for bringing her; when we are finished, I will take her lunch to meet back up with the rest of the class.”


Rosalie offered Bella her hand. Bella looked up into the crystal blue eyes of Mrs. McCarty, and, for a moment, she thought she could see a little bit of her father.   Placing her tiny hand into Rosalie’s, they walked over to the desk, and began to work.


Bella loved going to work with Mrs. Rosalie, as she had told her to call her.  She enjoyed the work, but also enjoyed spending time with her.  Some days they would go outside and have class under one of the large shade trees by the school.  Their time together was about learning, but also they talked about themselves.  Rosalie noticed that Bree was very guarded with her emotions and about talking about her family.  Before Bree came to her for the first time, she had read her file about how her family had died and was living with relatives that she didn’t know well.  But Rosalie felt there was something more.


Several times, Bree had been asked to put her name on a piece of work and she had written Isabella instead of Bree.   Rosalie questioned if that was her middle name; she quickly erased it and wrote Bree.  The other thing was the necklace that Bree wore all the time; it had an infinity symbol on it.  Rosalie could tell that it was not a cheap necklace; it was either made of white gold or platinum.  She had known the Mathers since moving into Youngstown, and could tell that they did not have the money to buy such an expensive necklace.


Rosalie told Emmett all about the curious things about young Bree, and he was also sure that there something else that wasn’t being said about her.  He had gotten to know Brad from purchasing vegetables that they grew on the farm.  Brad and Louise both worked hard on the farm, and he had seen them out working in the wee hours of the morning and until the twilight end of the day.  Hearing that their great niece was wearing such an expensive necklace, he wondered why, then, would Bree’s family not leave an inheritance to Brad and Louise to take care of her.


As fall became winter, the area was hit with one snowstorm after another, but the people of Youngstown were used to it.  A foot of snow was dealt with, and the everyday work went on as usual.  One cold snowy afternoon, Emmett was sitting in his office, which was a small building that was on his property.  The chiming of the bells that Rosalie had attached to the door to make him aware when someone walked in.  He hadn’t been expecting anyone, and so, he was dressed in jeans and a turtleneck with a bulky red checked flannel shirt over it.  Walking out of his office into the small front reception area, he was surprised to see Brad Masters standing there.


“Brad, what a surprise to see you.  What are you doing out in this cold snowy day?”


“I was wondering if you could write up my will?”  Brad explained.


“I sure can.  Come in and let’s see what we can come up with.”


As they sat down, Brad explained what he wanted.  “If anything should happen to me, I want everything to go to Louise, but, if by some chance that both Louise and I both die at the same time, I want everything to go to Bree.”


Emmett wasn’t shocked by Brad’s request.  From what he had seen and heard from Rosalie, he knew that he loved Bree.


“Make sure you put all my property.”  Brad incited.


“I have the house and property.”  Emmett assured him.


Brad had thought long and hard on what he should do with the money that Caius gave to him, to take care of Bree.  After watching her for several weeks, he went against his wishes and did some looking around, and, after awhile, he found the information that shook his very soul.  It was an obituary for Elizabeth and Isabella Cullen, the wife and daughter of the head of the Cullen crime family.  He was convinced it was Bree’s family, when he saw a photograph of Carlisle Cullen standing by the coffins at the graveyard. In the background was Caius. After that, he knew that something was wrong and knew it was only time before someone would come and try to take Bree, or Isabella, and would get rid of all those who knew her.


He had not stopped there, he continued to look into Carlisle Cullen; every picture of him with his family showed a devoted husband and a loving father.  He might be the head of a crime family, but there was no doubt that he was also a good man.  Brad had thought about trying to contact him, but he was unsure who to trust.


“Emmett, I have a security box at the bank.  Make sure you list that.”


Emmett was shocked to hear that he had a security box.  The more he thought about it, he wondered why it was so important to him.


The next thing Brad wanted to talk to Emmett about was something he thought and prayed about.  He was not naive to the fact that both Louise and himself were getting up in age.  He wanted to make sure that someone that Bree knew would take care of her if something happened to them.  She talked all the time about Rosalie and Brad knew that Emmett and Rosalie were on a list for adoption.  There was no one else he could think of that would love and take care of Bree.


“I have one more request that I want to put out there.”  Brad said, hoping that Emmett would agree.


“What is it?”


“If, by chance, something would happen to Louise and me before Bree is eighteen, we were hoping that Rosalie and you would take care of her.”


Emmett couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but the look on Brad’s face showed that he was serious.  There was something more that Brad wasn’t telling him, and, before he agreed to the arrangement, he would have to know all the secrets that Brad was keeping.

Chapter 4 of Defiance Friends or Not?

After talking to Esme and Melinda about her painting, Melinda recommend that she should purchase her own easel and paints, and set up an area in the house for her to work on her painting.


“Maria, you have a gift, and it would be a shame if you didn’t let all that out.  I can’t wait to see what you have inside of you.”  Melinda said.


“Are you sure?”  Esme asked, still not believing that she had painted the picture.


“Oh my God, yes.  I have never seen anything like this in all my life and I have been around well-known artists for years.  You owe it to yourself to continue with this gift.”


“Thank you.  I think I would like to see what I can do.  Do you have any recommendations?”  Esme asked.


“Why don’t we go to craft store, and I will help you pick out what you will need.  Then, after you pick up Tony, I will come over, and we will find the best place in your house for you to set up.”  Melinda proposed.


“I think that is a great plan.  I would love to help, even though I have no clue what to do, but I can be there to help carry and move things around if needed.”  Renee offered.


After Melinda showed them how to clean their brushes, they took off the smocks, and went to the craft store to pick up the art supplies that Esme would need.  Melinda wished they carried a better selection but she couldn’t expect much from a craft store in Forks.  She would just order from an art supplier in California.  She couldn’t wait to show her friend what Maria painted.  There was no doubt in her mind that there were going to be people who would love to have a painting, and she would be able to set her own price for them.


The day went quickly, and soon it was time for Renee and Esme to go pick up Bella and Edward.  Esme thought the day would drag by, but she was surprised by how quickly it passed.  As they waited at the sidewalk beside the school, they watched for them to emerge from the school.  The school bell rang, and the kids busted out the doors, and ran to either awaiting parents or the school buses lined up.  Edward and Bella came out the door with smiles on their faces, but, as soon as they saw their moms, they took off running and wrapped their arms around their legs.


“Mom, I had the best time.”  Bella exclaimed.  “I almost got lost, but Tony kept his promise, and didn’t leave me alone.”


“Mommy, what is on your hands?”  Edward asked.


Esme looked, and saw that she hadn’t gotten all the paint off her hands.  “Well, while you were in school,  Miss Renee and I also went to school and took a class in painting.”


“Cool.  We had art today.  We made a chicken out of macaroni and mine was the best in the whole class.”  Edward boasted.


“Was not, mine was so much better than yours.”  Bella chimed in.


“Was not.”  Edward argued.


“Was too.”  Bella said, then proceed to stick out her tongue at Edward.  “I will go home and show my daddy, and I know he will think it is the best picture ever.”


Edward thought about what Bella had said.  She was going to show it to her daddy. That was the one person he couldn’t show it to, because his daddy was dead.


“ISABELLA MARIE!!”  Renee yelled.  “You tell Tony you are sorry this minute.”  Renee was shocked at how insensitive Bella was being.  They’d had had several conversations about the fact that Tony didn’t have a father, and how important it was not to point the fact out.


“Well, it is the truth, and you always told me to tell the truth.”  Bella pointed out.


“Maria, Tony, I am sorry.  We are going to go home now and have a long conversation about this.”  Renee said, feeling horrible when she looked upon Tony’s sad face.


“Thank you, Renee, we will be okay.  I will call you later.”  Esme proclaimed as she took Edward’s hand, and walked up the steps of their house.  Once inside, Edward burst out in tears.  Esme wrapped her arms around him, and allowed him to cry it out.  Over the years he had asked about his father, and understood that he was no longer alive.  The secret of the true identity of his father would be always locked away in her, because she could never allow him to know anything about the monster who was his father.


After he had cried himself out of tears, Esme pulled back, and took his little tear stained face into her hands.  “Tony, I want you to know that I love you enough for both a father and a mother, and it grows every minute of every day.”


“You do?”


“Yes.  You are so special, and I am so proud to be your mother.”


“I love you.”  Tony said, wrapping his arms around her neck, and giving her a strong hug.


As they sat in the floor holding onto each other, there was a knock on the back door.  Esme got up and walked over, and looked through the peephole to find a sad looking Renee.


When she opened the door, she saw Bella standing behind Renee’s legs.


“Maria, Bella would like to talk to Tony.”


“Tony, Bella is here to talk to you.”


Edward walked over, and held his head down, and shuffled his feet.  He didn’t want Bella to see that he had been crying.  Boys were not supposed to cry, but he couldn’t help it today.


Renee stepped to the side to reveal a sad Bella, who had also been crying.  “Bella, do you have something to say to Tony?”


“Ah, hmm.”  She stammered.


Edward raised his head, and looked at his friend, and, when he did, she broke out in tears.  “Tony, I am so sorry.  Please, please, please say you are still my friend.”


“Of course.”


Bella ran over, and kissed him on the lips.  Edward was shocked at first, then quickly wiped off his lips.  “Yuck, Bella, why did you do that?”


“Because I wanted to.  Hey you want to go play in the treehouse?”


Edward looked up at Esme.  “Can I?”


“Yes, I will call you for dinner.  I was thinking maybe pizza tonight, and Bella could stay for dinner, if it is okay with her mom.”


“Can she Miss Renee?”  Edward asked.


“Yes, she can, but afterwards she has a list of chores she needs to get started on.”  Renee explained.  After a long conversation with Bella about her behavior toward Tony, she had told Bella that she needed to clean her room and help pickup around the house as punishment.


“Thank you, Mommy.  Come on, Tony, let’s go.”  Bella said, smiling brightly that she had not lost her very best friend.


After the kids had taken off across the yard and up the ladder to the treehouse, Renee and Esme sat down at the breakfast bar, and enjoyed a cup of tea, and talked about how children were always so forgiving of their misdeeds.   They finally decided to make the sunroom Esme’s art room, because of all the natural light, but they would have extra lighting installed so she could work in the evening after Edward had gone to bed.


After the incident between Edward and Bella, their friendship seemed to grow stronger, and, with each year that past, they were inseparable.  They would spend every evening hanging out with each other, and, on the weekends, they were always doing something together.


Esme threw herself into her painting, and was happy surprised by how good they actually were.  Melinda had sent a few pieces to her friend who owned an art gallery in San Francisco; he was immediately interested in any and all work that she painted.  He placed the pieces in the gallery, and, within a few days, they were sold.  He wanted to do a showing of her works, and, after weeks of convincing her that her talent needed to be shared, she agreed.  After starting on the collection, each piece seemed to flow out of her.  Naming the collection Defiance was her own secret way of ridding herself of all her feelings she had kept bottled up over the years.  The collection was complete and the show was booked.


Edward was turning fifteen in a few weeks. It was planned that Charlie, Renee, and Bella would join Esme and Edward in San Francisco for the show.  This was the first time since moving to Washington that she had left the state.  She was not only nervous about the show, but also nervous about leaving her protective hiding place.  But, after thinking about the fact that she wouldn’t see Carlisle or any of his men at an art gallery in California, she finally relaxed.  The Swans would not only be supporting Esme’s show, but they would be celebrating Edward’s birthday.


Over the last few months, Edward had been confused by the feelings he had toward Bella.  Of course, she was his best friend, but, one morning as they were walking to school the sun broke through the trees and the warm glow shined upon her face. In that moment, he felt something else for her.  For days after that, he tried to figure it out, but, instead of it going away, it only grew.  Each time he saw her, he wanted to take her into his arms and kiss her.


Listening to the guys in the locker room as they dressed for gym, he overheard Michael Newton talk about how he had asked Jessica to become his girlfriend.  Hearing how Michael talked about Jessica, Edward knew that he didn’t want to be only Bella’s best friend, he wanted her to be his girlfriend.  But how did he do that? He didn’t want to mess up their friendship.  Could he have both with her?




Defiance Chapter 3

Painting a New Future


It took several years before Esme stopped looking over her shoulder whenever she walked down the street.  She had become to love the tiny little town that had welcomed her and Edward so much.  Charlie and Renee had become more like family than close friends, and Bella and Edward formed a close bond with each other.  They celebrated birthdays, played in the park, went fishing with Charlie, and learned how to ride bikes together.  Before you could blink an eye, it was time for them to start kindergarten. Esme and Renee walked them to the school, which was only a few blocks from home.


“Tony, be a good boy for Miss Stanley.”  Esme said, as she tried to hold back the tears.


“I will, Momma.”  He proclaimed, trying to be brave like Ironman.


Bella began to cry, and latched onto Renee’s legs.  “But, what if I get lost or no one will play with me?”  She cried.


Edward saw Bella crying, and walk over, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a child-sized handkerchief.   Charlie always carried one, and Edward, one day, asked him why.


“Tony, I carry just in case someone needs it.”


“So, it is not for me to blow my boogers on it?”


“No, Tony, it is for someone who is sad, and needs to know that someone cares enough about them to give them a handkerchief to dry their tears.”  Charlie explained.


Edward thought about what Charlie said; if someone as cool as Charlie said it was a good idea, then he needed to do it as well.


Running home, he told his mother that he wanted to carry a handkerchief like Charlie, and that, when he was all grown up, he was going to be a policeman, too.


Esme smiled, and said that was a good goal to have, but, deep inside, she chuckled that the son of the ruthless Don of the Cullen family wanted to be a cop.  Carlisle would have a fit if he had heard that, because his grand plan was to groom Edward to take over the family, and to be as ruthless and deadly as he was.  Thankfully, she had been able to escape with Edward.


Bella took the handkerchief, and wiped her eyes.


“Bella, I will with you all day.”  Edward proclaimed.   “I promise to not to let you get lost.”


“You promise?”


“Yep.”  Edward said, holding out his hand.  Bella looked up at her Mom, and smiled, and then took his hand.  They walked down the sidewalk toward the door, and, when they reached it, they turned and waved.


Once they were inside, Renee and Esme stood for a few moments, willing themselves not to cry.  Each was feeling both happy and sad at the large milestone.


“Maria, come on, let’s go get a cup of coffee, and decide what we are going to do while they are in school.”  Renee said, linking her arm around Esme’s.


“Your house or mine?”  Esme asked.


“Why don’t we go over to Jack’s?”


Esme smiled, and nodded.  She loved Jack’s coffee and pastries.  Jack and his wife, Melinda, had moved from San Francisco about two years ago.  They had wanted a quieter and slower pace than the big city.  Jack opened Jack n’ Beans coffee shop, while Melinda opened an art studio, and offered art and pottery classes.  They were expecting their first child in a few months, and were super happy about it.


Renee and Esme walked and the door, and were met by a smiling Jack.


“Renee, Maria, it is so good to see you.  Did you get the Tony and Bella off to their first day of school?”


“Yes, we did, and I am proud to say we didn’t cry.”  Renee said as she looked over to Esme.  “Well, not much.”


“Come in, and have a seat, I just made a batch of fresh blueberry muffins, using blueberries that I picked this morning, and two cups of my finest brew.”  Jack explained.


“Actually, Jack, can we get it to go? We would love to go over, and say hi to Melinda.”  Renee said.


Jack quickly got Renee and Esme’s coffee ready, and also fixed a cup of peach blossom white tea for Melinda.  She had been going through some morning sickness, and they had found that the white tea had helped.  He placed three muffins in a bag, and took it back over to them.  Esme reached into her purse for some cash to pay for it.  But Jack held up his hand, and shook his head.


“This is on me today.  Call it a first day of school gift.”


“Thank you.”  Esme exclaimed.


After taking the bag and drink holder, they proceed across the street to Melinda’s shop.  When they opened the door, they were welcomed by Melinda with a large smile.


“Hello, it is so good to see you again.”  She greeted, wearing a smock that was covered in different colors of paint.  Melinda was a striking beautiful woman with long red curly hair and mossy green eyes and a smile that could light up a room.  “Oh, I see my darling man has been busy.”


“Yes, he has, and he sent you a cup of tea and a muffin.”  Esme replied.


Melinda took them over to a small sitting area next to the window, where they sat down and enjoyed their refreshments.  Once finished, Renee turned to Esme.


“Maria, I have a confession.”  Renee said.


“What do you mean?”


“I signed us up to take some art classes with Melinda to get you out of the house while Tony is in school.”  She confessed.


“You didn’t need to do that; I had planned on picking up around the house and doing some cleaning while he was in school.”  Esme explained.


“For pete’s sakes, Maria, the damn mice that came from your house had to be hospitalized for starvation.  I doubt there is one spec of dust on any surface in the entire house, and that includes those upper shelves on your bookcases.”  Renee joked.  “Please take the classes with me.”


Esme looked into Renee’s pitiful eyes.  “Fine, but I doubt I will be any good at it.”  Esme huffed.


“GREAT!”  Renee screamed, clapping her hands in glee.


“Well, since that is settled, come over and let us begin our first project.  I have two canvases ready.”  Melinda stated.


Renee and Esme followed Melinda over to the easels. Melinda handed them both a smock for them to put on.  After they had put on their bright yellow and blue smocks, they sat down on the stool in front of the easel holding the blank canvas.  To the right was a tray with tubes of paints, a palette, and several different brushes.  Melinda explained about the paint, and what each type of brush could be used for, and that just because it was mainly used for one type of brush stoke, didn’t mean that was the only thing it could do.  At the end of the training section, she walked over, and unveiled a sculpture of a mother and child.


“I want you to paint what you feel when you look at the sculpture.  Now don’t fret over your technique or colors; just paint what you feel.”  Melinda explained.


Esme placed the paint on the palette, and picked up the first brush.  Looking at the image, she was overcome with emotion at the lines of the sculpture and how the artist had captivated the emotion of motherly love.  Esme took what Melinda said, and began letting each stroke come from deep inside.  She was so immersed in her painting, she didn’t hear or see Melinda and Renee walk over to her.

“Oh my God, that is so beautiful.”  Renee cried.


Esme laid her brush down, stood up, and backed up from the painting.  When she looked at the canvas, she couldn’t believe she had been the one who painted it.  The feelings she had gotten when she first looked at the sculpture were the same, or even greater, looking at the painting she had done.


“Maria, are you sure you never painted before?”  Melinda asked, shocked by the painting before her.  She had never seen anything so beautiful and full of emotion in her entire life.


“No.”  Esme whispered as she continued to look at the painting.  When she escaped from Carlisle she felt a little bit lighter.  After years of happiness and freedom here in Forks she felt even more lighter, but, looking at this image, she finally felt free of the emotional pain that she had carried for all these years.








Infinity Claims Chapter 6

Carlisle was barking out orders to all guard and family members around.  Everyone in the family was either on the phone or on the road, trying to find Elizabeth and Isabella.   As his men did everything they could, Carlisle paced around the docks and continued to call Elizabeth’s phone.  He rounded the building and came back upon Angelo’s body. In that moment, he thought of poor Esme and Edward.   This was a duty as Leader of the family that he had always done.  He felt that if a member of his family gave up their life for the family, then he should be the one to be one to notify their loved ones of the tragedy.   Calling Elizabeth’s phone one last time, and still getting no answer, he called Garrett to meet him where Angelo’s body was.  Ben didn’t have any immediate family.  His father and mother had been killed in a horrible house fire a few years back.   Ben had been a low man on the street with no ambition, but, after their death, Carlisle had a long conversation with him, and convinced Ben that he needed to strive harder, and to become someone that his parents would have been proud of.


Garrett quickly found Carlisle, because he wanted to do anything possible to help him find his family.  However, as the time ticked by, he had a horrible gut feeling that something bad had happened to them.


“Garrett, any news?”  Carlisle asked.


“No, Boss.  We are tracking every lead that we find.”


“Fuck.  Keep on it.  I want them safe and home.”  Carlisle said,  then looked down at Angelo’s body.  “I am going to go break the bad news to Esme.”


“Carlisle, let me do it.  We need to keep you safe, in case this is a rival family trying to make a move on us.”


“I will fucking kill every one of the motherfuckers.  This is my job, and I am going to do it.”


“Boss, at least take some extra guards with you.”  Garrett pleaded.


“No.  Everyone needs to be looking for my family.  I will be vigilant, but I need to do this.  You know how much Lizzy Bell likes Edward.”


“I do.  Call if you see anything out of the ordinary.”


Carlisle nodded, and started walking toward his car.  As he began to get in behind the wheel, he looked up and saw his brother standing by the building and the look on his face was not of concern for Elizabeth and Lizzy Bell, but that of enjoyment.  Fuck.  Surely he wasn’t part of this.


During the drive to Angelo and Esme’s home, Carlisle couldn’t get the look on Aro’s face out of his mind.  He knew that his brother had resented him, because he was older and was the leader of the family, but he never had one thought that he would do something to Elizabeth and Lizzy Bell.  Surely, this was just the stress of the day.  Before he knew it, he was pulling into Angelo’s driveway. Before getting out of the car, he tried Elizabeth’s phone once again, but still just rang and rang.


He exited the car and walked up to the door.  Taking a deep cleansing breath, he rang the bell.  He heard the running of little feet, and Edward yelling out that he would get it.


Edward opened the door to find Mr. Carlisle standing there.  “Mr. Carlisle.”


“Edward.  How are you?”


“Great.  Mommy found this old video game, and I am beating it.”


“That is wonderful.”  Carlisle praised Edward, and Esme walked around the corner, drying her hands on the edge of her apron.


“Edward, what have I told you about opening the door?”


“But it is Mr. Carlisle.  Oh, wait, is Bella with you?”  Edward asked, looking around him.


“No, Edward, she is out with her mommy today.”


“Well, truck.”  Edward grumbled.


“EDWARD!!!”  Esme yelled.   She had been telling Angelo to watch his language around Edward, but he continued to say “fuck” all the time.  Looking up, she was once again mesmerized by Carlisle Cullen, but, as she looked deeper into his eyes, she could tell there was something wrong.


“Mr. Cullen please come in.”


“Thank you.”


Esme lead them into the living room, and offered Carlisle a seat.  “Edward, why don’t you go play your game some more before dinner.  Don’t you think I am forgetting your colorful language, mister.  We will have a discussion about it.”


“Ah, Mom.”


After Edward had left the room, Esme turned to Carlisle.  “Something has happened?”  She asked, knowing that Carlisle wouldn’t be at their house like this.


“Esme, there is no good way to say this, but Angelo has been shot down at the docks. I am sorry to say that he has died.”


Esme just looked at Carlisle in shock.  Her husband was dead.  Time ticked by; with each passing second, she couldn’t bring herself to tears.  She cared for Angelo, but she didn’t love him.  The visions of another man was what got her through her wifely duties, and even find some enjoyment.  Looking up at Carlisle, her cheeks bloomed. She was never so glad that he couldn’t read her mind.


“Are you okay?  You look really flushed.”  Carlisle asked.


“I am fine.”


“The family will, of course, pay for any arrangements you make for Angelo.”


Esme nodded and then began to think what she and Edward was going to do for money.  She had a degree in art, but never used it, and she’d never worked.  They, of course, had a life insurance policy, but that would only go so far.


“I am sorry; I was just thinking about what we are going to do for money.  This house is paid for, but I don’t have a job.”  Esme declared.


Carlisle reached forward, and took Esme’s hand into his.  The moment they touched, he was shocked by the warm, comforting feeling that washed through his body.  “Esme, you both are family, and we take care of own.  An account will be set up and there will be deposits made each month.  Edward’s education will be paid for by the family, and that includes college.”


“Really?  I had no clue.  Are you sure that the family can afford to do that?  I mean I could get a job somewhere.”


Carlisle chuckled by her statement.  Angelo must have kept secret the amount of money that he only brought into the family, which didn’t include all of their other lucrative businesses.  “I can assure you that we have more than enough.”


“Oh, okay, thank you.”  Esme said, then the doorbell rang.  “I wonder who that can be?  Please excuse me.”  She got up and went to the door; when she opened it, she found Garrett standing there.  She had met him a few times, but really didn’t know him.


“Hello, I am here to talk to Carlisle.”  Garrett declared.


“He is in the living room, please come in.”


Esme walked ahead of Garrett to the living room. As soon as Carlisle heard footsteps, he glanced up and immediately stood when he saw Garrett.


“Garrett, what has happened?”


Garrett walked over to Carlisle. With tears in his eyes, he placed a hand on Carlisle’s arm.  “We found them.”  He choked.


Carlisle looked at his friend, confidant that something was wrong.  “Please tell me they are unharmed?” More like a question than a statement.


Not being able to get the words out, Garrett shook his head no.


Carlisle’s world went black, because his wife, and, the joy of his life, his Lizzy Bell, were gone forever.