Taking her finger she outlined the tattoo over his heart. He had not forgotten her; he was here and alive. “When did you get this?”
“As soon as I could do it without Carlisle’s knowing about it. He kept a very close eye on me for the first few years and made me do things that I am ashamed to admit.”
“Oh Tony, I mean Edward. Shit, I am never going to get that right.” She grumbled.
Edward placed his hand on her cheek. “Don’t worry about it. I have been called worse.”
“Why don’t you just kill the fucker, save Esme, and fucking leave?”
Edward had thought about doing that exact thing hundreds of times, but he knew that if he killed Carlisle and didn’t take his place as the leader, that someone else would. They would make sure he was hunted down and killed. There was no getting out of the family, no matter how much he wanted to. “Bella, I can’t just leave the family. I plan on killing Carlisle, but when I do, I have to take over, because it is the only way Mom and you will be safe.”
“I have all this money, we can go somewhere they can’t find us.”
“Mom tried that once, remember, and it failed. Next time they won’t just bring us back because whoever took control of the family will want us dead. But they will also take out anyone else who knew us, which mean you and your family. I can’t lose you.”
Bella had not considered that. She had seen stuff on tv and on the movies about the mob, but she never believed that was how they truly were and as she was thinking about it, it hit her. “Have you killed anyone?”
Edward nightmares were coming true. He grasped her hand brought it back up to his chest, hoping that she would feel his heart beating, beating just for her. As he stared deep into her eyes, he finally found the nerve to say it. “Yes.”
Bella gasped. Her Tony had killed someone. She began to pull her hand from his grip, but he held on tighter. “Let me go.” She pleaded, wanting to get some space between them.
Edward was determined not to let her go. He had lost her once before and even though they still had a lot to talk about, he never wanted to lose her again. “Bella, please let me explain.”
“How many?” She asked, needing to know.
“I have lost count.” He whispered. The look of horror draped over her face when he said that and he knew she was about to run. “Please let me explain. After Carlisle found us, he had wanted to start my training. I either did as he bidded or he would cause even more harm to mom. He even said he would come after you and I couldn’t let that happen. That first night, he pushed and pushed until I pulled the trigger. I didn’t know the man, but after the sound of the blast died down to a deadly silence, I looked at the man lying there on the concrete floor, bleeding from the wound to his head, a piece of me died with him as well. But Carlisle didn’t stop with just one that night and by the time he allowed me to stop I was broken into a thousand pieces and knew I could never be the same. But as broken as I am, I would do it again if it meant that you were safe.”
Bella couldn’t help but weep. She cried for those who lost their lives, but cried even more for her Tony who had been subjected to such a vile, horrendous act. Was she disturbed with the information? Yes. Was she afraid of what her Tony or Edward had done? Deep in her heart and head, she knew the answer which was no. Taking her other hand she brought it up to the side of Edward’s face and stroked it lovingly. “I am so sorry you had to endure that. I am not going anywhere unless you asked me to.”
Edward couldn’t help but smile and feel relieved. So many times he had dreamt this conversation and each time, she left breaking him even more. But even though he was relieved that she was going anywhere, he needed to know why she had started the profession that she had. “Bella, please tell me why you operate an escort service. You have all the money from the life insurance policies why would you sell yourself to strangers.”
Bella knew it was her time to lay out all her cards on the table. “When your house blew up in a million pieces, so did my heart. I had a garden built where the house once was and I would sit for hours, thinking about every moment we shared together. Even though it wasn’t damaged, I couldn’t make myself go into our playhouse. Over time I knew that I had to leave Forks because I needed to let you go and I couldn’t do it where I was reminded of you in everything I saw or touched. I paid off the Principle to take the GED test on my eighteenth birthday and purchased a car. Telling my parents was of course hard, but they knew that I was suffering. I traveled across the country, experiencing life outside of Forks and without you. I promised myself that I would never hurt like that again, so I decided to never allow anyone never my heart. Everywhere I stopped, it didn’t seem right, however, as soon as I arrived in Chicago I left a connection. I guess now it was because you were here as well. I played the stock market and gave away a shit pile of money to the arts, but I needed something to do. My company is a high-end escort service. We do more business in just being intelligent, good-looking arm candy, than just being a place to purchase sex. Our clients are professional men and women who need to have someone on their arms, like the event tonight. If sex is requested, the escort has to agree to it and the client has to pass an extensive physical and drug screening.”
“How many men have you slept with?” Edward asked.
“Not as many as you might think and to be honest I have slept with more men who haven’t paid me than did. It was nothing more than just sex. As I said before, my heart was never part of it. But what about you, how many women have you slept with?”
“Too many, but like you, it was just sex. I guess hearing you explain it, I owe you an apology for calling you a whore.”
“I accept and I apologize for letting my temper get the best of me.” She said with a smirk.
“Fuck, I am still in a little pain from it. Your self-defense instructor is really good.”
“Thanks, I will tell Jake then next time I see him.”
“Jake? Do you mean Jacob Black?” Edward asked.
“Yes. He is my training instructor.”
Edward burst out into laughter. Then he remembered the conversation he had with him yesterday. “You are the one that put him on his ass yesterday.”
“Yeah. How did you know that?”
“He was whining about it before I put him on his ass in the ring.”
“That was you.” Bella said with a huge smile. “I came back to get my keys I forgot and saw you in the ring. When I saw you I did check out your ass.”
“You did? Did you like?” Edward flirted.
“Very much so.” She purred.
Edward and hoped the day that they were reunited that they would fall into each other’s arms, where they would stay until the last dying breath. So many things out of the control had come between them, yet here they were alone and together. He realized that they both had done things that they normally wouldn’t have done just to survive. However, he knew that he needed to let go his anger and embrace the opportunity to be with his soulmate, they only woman who had the ultimate claim on his heart. “Bella, I have been a fool. Instead of being excited to finally have you so close, I have let my insecurities to rule my mouth. Please say you will give this idiot a chance to make it right.”
Bella was torn. She loved this man with all that she had inside of her, but the pain that she had been living with would just go away in a blink of an eye. “I want too, I really do, but I am so afraid.”
“What are you afraid of?” He asked.
“That you will disappear again and if you do, there is no way I will be able to survive it this time.”
“Bella, I can’t tell you that there is no chance that something might go wrong, but now that you are here, I have something to work for. Carlisle is going to go down and I will take over the family with you by my side, well that is if you will have me again.”
“Can we take this slow? I need to get to know this new you.”
“I can do that, as long as you don’t run away. Like you I don’t know if I could survive if you are not around.”
“But can I at least kiss you just one time?” He asked.
Bella nodded her head. He took his hand and rubbed it softly against her cheek. Leaning in, he licked his lips and softly placed them on her silky soft lips. Heaven on earth is what it felt like. All the past nightmares drifted away and they were replaced with this new memory. As much as he wanted to deepen the kiss, he knew he must have restraint. He would take it at her pace, no matter how long it took.
When his lips touched hers, she thought her heart would tear its way out of her chest. The warm euphoric feeling filled up her cold hollow soul. It had been so empty with the thought that she would never see, hear, or touch him again, but that had all changed. As he pulled back she could see his eyes filled with unshed tears, much like her own. “Thank you.”
“No, my love, thank you.” He cooed.
After a few minutes of enjoying being close to each other, Edward remembered something from the evening. “Does Alice work for you?”
Bella smiled. “Yes she does. Is Jasper part of the family?”
Edward chuckled. “Yeah, actually he will be my right-hand man when I take over. I trust him with my life. He doesn’t know that she is an escort. Hell, he thinks she works in a boutique.”
“Haha. All my people do look like they could walk a fashion show runway, it is all part of the illusion.”
“Bella, do you go out with a lot of your clients?”
She knew where he was going with this. “Actually no. Tonight was the first time in a long time I have done this. I promise you that, while we are building our relationship back I will not go out with any clients. Does that sound okay to you?”
“Yes. Thank you. I know I won’t and don’t want to be with any other woman. You are the only woman I want to be with.”
“However, we have to be careful. Carlisle is a suspicious bastard and if he thinks we are together, he will try to break us apart. I hoping whatever the information that Esme has will be something I can use as leverage with the family. Carlisle has a loyal following, but over the last few years, I have heard more and more grumblings. When I decide to take over, it is going to be very dangerous and bloody.”
Bella became very worried. She had just got her love back and he was about to go into battle that could take him away again.