Words to Die By ~ Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

July 18, 2017

Bella couldn’t stop looking at her ring. She had never seen anything quite as beautiful. Looking over at Edward, who was sound asleep, she wondered how she had gotten so lucky to find a man as loving and generous as he was. She could care less if he had money, hell she had more than enough to live nice and comfortable for the rest of her life. 

She was still reeling from the contents they had found in the box at the jewelry store. The pieces were exquisite, priceless, and she loved every one of them. Edward smiled at each piece, and she thought that he was imagining what his grandmother looked like wearing each piece. It was indeed a tremendous find for Edward, then he turned to her and gave her one of his crooked, devilish smiles and informed her that the entire collection was hers. He only wanted the pocket watch that had the Cullen Crest on the back and inside a picture of his grandparents. She had tried to argue that it was too much, but he called it his engagement present to the future Mrs. Cullen.

“If you don’t like it, I will buy you whatever ring you want,” Edward said, his voice raspy with sleep.

Bella startled at discovering that he was awake, and brought her ring to her chest, covering it with her other hand. “Oh, no. I love it.”

Edward reached out and pulled her towards him. “Do you know how much I love you?”

“Yes. I’m still numb with surprise and joy over the fact that it is happening so suddenly,” she explained.

“Why wait, I know what I want, and you are it for me,” Edward said as he ran his fingers down her arm.

She laid her head down on his chest and listened to the firm, steady beat of his heart. Her skin quivered from his touch, smiling that he was going to be hers forever. After they slowly indulged in the pleasures of the flesh, twice,  they got up and dressed to go back to the house. Edward had texted Emmett and Jasper, telling them what he needed them to accomplish today. He left the list of the locations where his grandfather had stashed items throughout Lake Como and the surrounding areas. 

Ben drove them to the house, and before they got out of the car, he checked the area to make sure it was safe. Today, he had planned to install some state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, enabling them to be better equipped to protect his Boss and Bella. He hadn’t been informed of anything from the boss this morning, but he had seen the stunning ring on Bella’s left hand. The way they were looking at each, it was obvious to anyone that they were in love. God, he wished he could find someone to share his life with, though he was going to wait until Aro Volturi was taken down. 

Edward wanted to check out the attic and basement today. He also wanted to secure the secret room before the renovations started. They walked up the steps to the attic and stopped at the landing. Using the skeleton key that they found yesterday, Edward turned the key in the lock and opened the door, its hinges creaking with age. Just like the rest of the house, everything was covered in thick sheets and dust. 

Bella looked around the large room and couldn’t wait to see what was hidden under the sheets.  Grinning from ear to ear in anticipation, she glanced over to Edward, “well, let’s get dirty.”

Wrapping his arm around her waist and grinding his semi-hard cock on her ass. “I love it when we get dirty.”

Bella turned around, her brown eyes blazing with desire met his. “I love getting dirty with you as well, but we have work to do, sir.”

“Fine,” he pouted. 

They began working together, removing the sheets, carefully trying not to disturb the years of dust that had collected on them. There were lots of finely made furniture pieces, cedar chests, and large metal chests. Edward had hoped the keys that he had found in the safe in the secret room would unlock the uncovered pieces. He didn’t want to damage any of the treasures they were uncovering.

Bella ran her hand over the wood and smiled. She loved every piece and could see them once again in the main part of the house, once the renovations were completed, and it had been brought back to its former glory. “What do you think of pieces?” She asked, wondering if he felt the same way as she did.

Edward studied her face before he answered. He loved them, but her feelings were more important than his. He could tell by the soft look in her eyes that she loved the furniture. Just another thing they had in common. Moving closer to her, he reached out and pulled her to him. “I love them, but I love you more, so you tell me, can you see these pieces placed throughout the house?”

Bella sighed and laid her head under his chin. “I love you more too, but to answer your question, these pieces are exquisite and pieces of your family’s heritage.  I think they should be moved downstairs once the renovations are done.” 

“Alright, let’s get started going through the chests. I hope these keys will work,” Edward said. 

One by one, they found the correlating keys that unlocked the chests.  When they were done, Edward began on inventorying the large metal chests, while Bella went through the contents of the wooden ones. He found a treasure trove of knives, guns, and gold coins.

Bella opened the nearest chest, sifting the items around and finding a box with a floral design on it. Pulling the box out, she sat it on another chest and opened the lid. There was tissue paper covering whatever was within the box, and after she lifted it out of the way, she gasped. It was a wedding gown. No, it was Edward’s grandmother’s wedding gown, and it was stunning. The top of the gown was lace, with long sleeves and a high neckline with the bottom in all lace over a satin base. Bella could see herself wearing it for her wedding to Edward. 

“Did you find anything?” Edward called out as he wiped down the barrel of one of the guns he found.

“Yes,” Bella murmured, closing the lid, waiting breathlessly for his reply. “I found something I really want. Do you mind?”

“As I have told you, what is mine is yours. What is it?” He asked, looking at the large box. He flashed a smile to her anxious face.

“Ah, a dress,” Bella hedged, hoping that it was still wearable and that it would fit her. She could almost see Edward’s expression when she walked towards him in the gown. 

“Can I see it?”

“I want to see if it is still intact. We passed a dry cleaner on the way here. I might have Ben take me there while you continue with your search,” Bella said. She wondered if Rose could come to meet her, then she remembered that they hadn’t told them. Fuck. 

“That is fine. I want to go through these two chests and see what is in there. I am going to have to have all these items shipped back to the states,” he advised waving his hand over the knives and guns he had out on the sheet. He had thought that he would have special cabinets commissioned in his study to hold them all. 

Bella stood and turned to Edward. “When do you want to tell everyone about our engagement?”

“Are you ready to do it, because I would have done it as soon as you said yes?” Edward smirked.

“Yes. We could do this evening. Maybe we could tell them at the villa and then take them out to dinner afterward,” Bella explained, her mind racing with the thoughts of the dress in the box.

“That sounds perfect,” Edward replied. He stood and came over to her. “I looked into what we needed to in order to get married here, and it isn’t very hard. The only issue will be with the church; however,  I think I might be able to convince a priest to do our service.”

“Convince?” Bella wondered.

Wrapping his arms around her. “As we already have seen, my grandfather’s name still has a lot of power and influence in this town, and I feel sure that it applies to the church as well.”

“I am confused. How?”

“Money, my love, money. I ran across a notation in grandfather’s journal that he made a contribution to Como Cathedral for some much-needed repairs and additions.”

Bella giggled. “It still amazes me that the church doesn’t refuse the money from a well-known mafia family.”

“Because they know that we keep their church coffers filled,” Edward replied, then bent down and captured her lips in an all-consuming kiss. He finally backed away, his chest heaving because of the lack of oxygen. “Go see what they can do with the dress.”

“Okay. I love you, and I will be right back,” Bella murmured, her eyes filling with emotion.

She carried the box down the stairs, and when she got to the ground floor, she found Ben installing a camera to one of the walls. 

He turned when he heard her footsteps and smiled. “Hello, Ms. Swan.”

“Ben, how many times do I have to tell you it is just Bella,” she urged.

“No can do, Ms. Swan,” he grinned.

“Fine. I need to go to a dry cleaner. I saw one on the way here,” Bella explained.

“Seth is on his way here now. We need to wait until he arrives before we can leave,” Ben disclosed.

“Why?” Bella questioned, her frown creased her forehead.

“One of us always has to be near the Boss,” he answered.

Fuck, why had she not thought of that? God, she was thankful for Seth, Ben, and all the other family members who were willing to give their own lives to protect the love of her life. “Thank you.”

“No need to thank us. We are honored to be part of the Cullen family,” Ben proclaimed, meaning every word. He knew without a doubt that he would be dead if it weren’t for Edward. He had found him in a vacant warehouse, where the Volturi had taken him when he refused to work from them. They had beat him to near death and left him to die on the cold, dirty, concrete floor. Just as he began to give up, a pair of shiny dress shoes appeared in front of him. With the last bit of strength he had left, he looked up and saw a young man in a dark suit, then the world went black. Not remembering what happened next, he had awoken in a clean bed, with his injuries bandaged. A monster of a man was in the room and proceeded to question him about who he was and why he was in the warehouse. Once he told the man, who he found out was Emmett, why he was there, Emmett informed him who had rescued him. At first, Ben was leary, but after he heard what Aro had done to Edward’s family, he knew that he wanted to be a member of the Cullen family. 

Ten minutes later, Seth came into the house, and Ben let him know what else needed to be done and where Edward was in the house. He helped Bella into the car and headed towards the dry cleaners. 

Once they arrived, Ben carried the box for Bella into the shop. They were met by a short, elderly woman with white hair, not grey, but snow white and crystal blue eyes. She was stunning, even at her advanced age. 

Buona giornata, signorina. Mi chiamo Aurora, come posso aiutarla? The lady greeted her with a warm smile. (Good day, Miss. My name is Aurora, how can I help you?)

Buona giornata, Aurora. Mi chiamon, Isabella e ho un vestito che speravo di pulire e vedere se può essere modificato se necessario? Bella advised as she took the box from Ben and laid it on the counter in front of the lady.  (Good day, Aurora. My name is Isabella, and I have a dress that I was hoping to get cleaned and see if it can be altered if needed?) 

Aurora opened the box and shook her head. She recognized this dress, but how did this young woman have it, because the last time she saw this dress, it was on Maria Cullenello on her wedding day. Maria had been a childhood friend of hers. They grew up together and played together every day. When they turned eighteen, Maria’s father informed her that he had arranged a marriage to Caius Cullenello. Maria and Aurora both were frightened. Everyone in Lake Como knew Caius and what he did for a living. Maria confided in Aurora about her concerns. But Maria’s doubts disappeared after she met Caius. The first time Maria and Caius laid eyes on each other, they fell in love. A grand wedding was planned with all the community invited. Maria could have had her dress made by the top designer of the time, but she wanted her friend to design and make her dress. 

Bella couldn’t understand the expression on Aurora’s face. It was almost like she saw a ghost. “Stai bene?”  (Are you okay?)

“Sì. Come sei arrivato in possesso di questo vestito?” Aurora asked. (Yes. How did you come in possession of this dress?)

Bella thought for a moment and wondered if she should tell her the truth or makeup something. There was something about Aurora that made her want to tell her. “My fiance is Edward Cullenello. He is the grandson of Caius Cullenello.”

Tears filled Aurora’s eyes. “Maria ed io eravamo amiche d’infanzia.” (Maria and I were childhood friends.) 

“Veramente?”  Bella exclaimed. (Really?)

“Sì e ho fatto questo vestito per lei.” Aurora declared. (Yes and I made this dress for her.)

Bella’s hand shot to her mouth. How was it even possible that the woman before her had made Edward’s grandmother’s dress? This had to be fate. “Pensi che l’abito possa essere riportato al suo antico splendore?” (Do you think the dress can be brought back from its former beauty?)Aurora took the dress out of the box and placed it on a hanger. Checking for signs of age and dry rot. Other than the fact that it had yellowed from being in storage, it was in excellent condition. “Sì e ti sembrerà bellissimo.” (Yes, and you will look beautiful in it.)

Words to Die By ~ Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven

July 17, 2017 – Found Treasures

Edward was holding his breath, waiting for Bella to answer his life altering question. She hadn’t moved a muscle or even blinked an eye, and she just stared at him with a shocked expression upon her face. His mind raced with the thought that she was going to deny him,  he knew that he would never find anyone like her. His heart belonged to her until its last beat. Then he felt her squeeze his hand.

“Yes,” she whispered as her voice cracked with the flood of emotions and the tears of joy that were flowing.

Edward jumped to his feet. “Yes?”

“Oh My God Edward, yes.”

Edward wrapped his arms around her, picked her up, and twirled her around the terrace. “I am luckiest, son of a bitch in the world.”

Bella groaned out, the pain from her injured ribs pulsated through her. 

Edward sat her down immediately, waving his hands around her ribcage frantically. “Shit, I forgot, my love,” he cried.

She wrapped her arm around her side as she tried to catch her breath. The pain was still excruciating, though she was able to deal with it. “I am better,” she moaned.

“NO, YOU ARE NOT!” Edward yelled, beating himself up for hurting her.  

“I can deal with the pain,” she began. “I just wish Rose was here to give me a shot.”

“I can do that,” Edward declared.

Bella raised an eyebrow to him. “Really?”

“Yeah. Rose gave all of us emergency first aid training, encase someone is injured, and she wasn’t around,” Edward explained, then leaned down and placed a sweet kiss on her lips. “I’ll go get her bag.”

Bella gently sat down on the chaise and leaned back. A few minutes later, Edward was back and began drawing out the morphine into the syringe. He opened an alcohol wipe, cleaning Bella’s skin before he carefully inserted the needle and pushed in the medicine. Once he had finished, he put the syringe in a special box so that Rose could dispose of it later, then he placed bandaid on the spot and kissed it. 

“Thank you,” she said with a smile.

“I would do anything for you, my love,” he proclaimed. 

Bella moved over and patted her hand beside her. Edward eased down and put his arm over her shoulder. She sighed and laid her head on the crook of his neck, allowing the morphine to do its job. Before long, the sharp pain was gone, leaving only the slight discomfort that she could deal with. “Edward, can I ask you a question?”

“Of course,” he replied.

Bella turned so she could see his face. “Why do you have to be married to be the head of the family?”

Edward thought for a moment. He didn’t have the honor of talking with his father in person to gain all the knowledge that he would need. He only had his father’s journals and now his grandfather’s, thanks to Bella. He remembered that in several entries, that his father had written that his marriage to Esme centered him, and caused him to become more level-headed. “I am not sure, but my father wrote that my mother made him a better man, and more capable leader. As you know, the men and women of our organization are not just members, but family, it is my responsibility as the head of the family to look out for all of them,” Edward said, then took her hand into his. “I need you to be my confidant, my conscious, the mother to our children, and the protector of my heart. I need you to tell me when I am being an asshole and need to calm down to evaluate the situation.”

Bella brought his hand up to her chest and placed it over her heart. “My heart is yours to protect as well, and I vow always to be what you need until my last breath. I do promise not only to look out for you and our children but also everyone who is part of the Cullen family.”

“Spoken like a true mafia wife, “Edward said. “But I can’t invoke the chain until I am married.”

Bella hadn’t thought of that when she agreed to marry him, though it did make sense. “So, are we going to get married as soon as we return?” She asked as her mind raced with all that she would need to do before the ceremony.

“I thought we could get married here,” Edward advised.

“Here? In Italy?” Bella asked. 

“I would like to if we could. If we married back in Chicago, I worry that someone in the clerk’s office would be on the take,” Edward said.

Bella thought for a moment, and she hadn’t thought of that. Maybe that is how Aro found out that she was asking about the Cullen name. “Edward, I think you are right. I went to the clerk’s office to ask about the Cullen family, and the girl there said there was no record of that name. She looked surprised when I asked. Damn, I didn’t even think that she might be the one that told Aro.”

“Shit, you are probably right. Do you remember her name?” Edward questioned. 

Bella thought for a moment. “Tonya, I think. She was the Clerk of the Records Department in Chicago. A little taller than me, with red hair, and a horrible boob job.”

Edward laughed. “How do you know she had a boob job?”

“Because they were two different sizes,” Bella said, placing her hands under her breasts. “I am so fucking happy that I have a nice set.”

Edward reached out, stroked her breast, as he rubbed his thumb over her nipple, causing it to become hard. “I think they are perfect, and I am one lucky bastard to be able to worship them for the rest of my life.”

Bella was about to take off her shirt when she heard the front door open and Emmett’s loud voice. “Edward, can we keep our engagement to ourselves for just a little while?”

“Why?” Edward wondered.

“I want to be able to celebrate just the two of us, and I know once Rose finds out, she will be full-on wedding planning,” Bella explained.

“You are so right. Alright, we will keep it between us, but we will research whether or not  it is possible for us to get married here. Okay?”

Leaning up, she placed her hands on his cheeks. “I love you, Edward Cullen, and I can’t wait to marry you.” She put her lips onto his, to show him just how much she loved him. Just as his tongue began to stroke hers, Rose whistled.

“Stop checking each other’s tonsils,” Rose groaned.

Edward continued to kiss Bella, but lifted his middle finger and flipped her off. He broke away and smiled at Bella. “I love you,” he whispered then turned towards the group who was gawking at them. “Haven’t you ever seen two people kissing before?”

“Yeah, but it looked like you were both turning blue from the lack of air,” Jasper joked.

“Fuck you,” Edward growled.

“Oh Bella, you should have come with us,” Rose gushed. “The shoes, bags, dresses.”

“Yeah, my poor credit card is crying,” Emmett grumbled.

“Ed, there is also an Armani shop and Bvlgari,” Jasper disclosed with a smile.

Edward’s eyes sparkled. He did love Armani and Bvlgari. “Bella and I will go tomorrow after we finish up at the house.”

“Finish up?” Emmett asked.

“Yeah, we hired a contractor to come in and bring the house back to its glory,” Edward advised.

“We?” It is your house, Edward, not hers,” Alice growled as she glared at Bella.

“Alice,” Edward said with a voice that was cold and deadly. “You will respect her as you do me.”

Alice looked at Edward. “How the fuck can you trust her? You know nothing about her. Hell, she could be working for Aro for all we know.”

Bella jumped to her feet. “I am no fucking spy, bitch. I love Edward, and he loves me. So you need to get off your high horse and accept me because I’m not going anywhere.”

Alice wanted to slap the bitch, but she knew Edward would go nuts. She decided she needed to walk away, but she would keep her eye on Bella. She was going to trip up, and once she did, she would take her out. No one hurts her family. Alice huffed and walked back through the villa and out the door.

“I will talk to her, Edward,” Jasper said. He didn’t know what was wrong with Alice, but if she didn’t start treating Bella right, Edward was going to do something drastic. 

“One more time, Jasper,” Edward hissed.

“Yes, Boss, I understand.”

“Did you find anything else today?” Emmett asked, hoping to break the tension in the room. 

“We found another journal from grandfather. It has a lot of information,” Edward explained.

“Cool,” Emmett chimed.

“Bella and I have a dinner reservation, so we are going to go get ready,” Edward explained.

“Bella, do you need another shot,” Rose asked.

“No, Edward had to give one earlier,” Bella explained and pointed towards the bag.

“Well, I am glad he remembered how to do it. I will leave a syringe in your room so he can give it to you when you return home,” Rose said.

“Thanks, Rose. I do sleep better with the shot, though I will be glad when these damn ribs heal,” Bella groaned. 

Rose turned to Emmett and smiled. “How about we go back to our room, and I will model what I purchased.”

Emmett licked his lips. “I know just which package I want to see.”

Rose giggled and wrapped her arm around Emmett. They walked out the door, whispering and laughing. 

As Rose and Emmett left, Edward grasped Bella’s hand and took her into their bedroom. 

“It is a little early, but I thought we could go looking at a few shops before our reservation,” Edward explained.

“I love that idea. I’m going to go get ready,” Bella instructed then place a kiss on his lips.

“You go ahead. I’m going to read a little bit more because I don’t need a lot of time to get ready,” Edward explained.

Bella went into the bathroom, while Edward sat down in one of the chairs and began reading more of his grandfather’s journal. Like his father’s journals, there were locations all over Lake Como where he had stored his rainy day fund. Even though all the rival families had come into an agreement not to destroy another family completely, he didn’t want to chance discovery just yet. One of the locations stood out, a jewelry shop. He wondered what was stored there. Taking out his phone he saw that it wasn’t too far from the restaurant, so he decided they would go find out. As he was closing the journal, Bella walked back in, only wearing a tiny thong and a pair of sky-high heels. 

“FUCK ME!” Edward groaned.

“I will when we get back,” Bella said over her shoulder. 

Edward got up and went to her. “I am going to be hard all night, knowing what you have under that dress.”

She laughed out loud. “Well, we both will be in pain then.”

Edward shook his head at the comment. “Fine, I am going to get ready. I found a shop I want to go to before dinner.”

Bella opened the closet and pulled out the little black dress that she had packed for the trip. It was short with a low neckline. It was classic with a little bit of naughty. Edward was going to love it and hate it, which made her smile. 

She had just finished putting on her earrings when Edward walked out of the bathroom dressed in a black Armani suit, black silk tie, and Aubercy Diamond dress shoes. He looked like he had just stepped off the runway. “FUCK ME!!” Bella moaned, rubbing her legs together to get some friction.

Edward gave her one his crooked smile and winked. “When we get back from dinner, I promise that you will become hoarse from screaming my name.”

Bella’s mouth gaped open. He was a very dangerous man, and she was counting the lucky stars that he was hers. 

He offered his arm to her, and once she wrapped her arm around it, they walked out of the villa and to the car that was parked in front. Once they got into the back, Ben went around to the driver’s door and started towards their first destination. 

Ben stopped as close as he could since the shop was down a narrow alley. Edward took Bella’s hand as they walked down the cobblestone street towards Gioielleria Lopez Jewelers. He had informed Bella that his grandfather had written about the shop in his journal. The shop was halfway down the alley, surrounded by other shops that looked like time had stood still for at least a century. They arrived at the door, which was a massive oak door that looked like it had been the original. Edward turned the brass knob pushing the heavy door open, as he did the bell chimed. It was a small shop with dark wood showcases with aged tinted glass. Inside of them were black velvet jewelry holders with sparkling jewels draped over them. Behind one of the cases was an elderly man, who looked like he had to be at least a hundred years old.

“Ciao,” the old man said with a warm smile.

“Ciao,” Edward answered. He had a code sentence he had to recite to gain entrance to the safe. Caius had specified which location needed what code. Edward only hoped the man still remembered, because it would not make any sense. “La mia umberalla è bagnata dal sole.” My umbrella is wet from the sun.

“Signore Cullenello, Benvenuto,” he greeted. “Mi chiamo, Stefano Lopez.” Staring at the young man before him he could see Caius Cullenello in his features. He had kept the box safe for all these years knowing that one day someone would come in and give the secret code. It felt like only yesterday when the well known Caius Cullenello had walked into his shop, though it had not been the first time. Caius was a regular customer spending large amounts of money on jewelry for his lovely wife. On this rainy day in May, Caius walked in and asked if they could speak privately. Stefano took him to his office in the back and offered him a glass of whiskey. Once the small talk was over, Caius got down to business. He requested that Stefano house a safe box for him and not to allow anyone to know of its existence until a special phrase was uttered. He of course agreed and was awarded enough money that he would never have to worry about selling another piece of jewelry again in his life. Over the years he wondered what Caius was up to since he had left Italy for the United States, but he had never heard anything out of him or any of his family, until today. Holding up a finger, he rushed into the back, retrieved the box, and then handed it to the young man. Stefano went over to the front door, locked it, flipped the sign to Closed, and went into the back to give the couple privacy.

“Grazie,” Edward said then looked over at Bella. “Let’s see what grandfather left us.”

Bella wanted to say something about the “us” but she knew she just needed to get used to all this. Edward had made it plain that all that he had was now hers as well. He opened the large box and inside were multiple velvet jewelry boxes, some large and some small.

Edward smiled as he saw what the box held. From the photographs of his grandmother that Angela had managed to save, he knew that his grandfather had given her lots of jewels and since he hadn’t found any in the house or in the locations that his father had hidden items, he wondered where they might be. Taking out all the boxes, he placed them on the glass case. The first box he opened contained a long pearl necklace and matching earrings. The next was a large sapphire and diamond necklace, which had to be at least three carats. Box after box of exquisite jewelry was unveiled from the depths of the safe box. Edward waited to open the box with the family crest on it last. Bella was still looking at all the other pieces and wasn’t paying any attention to him. He opened the box and inside, nestled upon the royal blue velvet,  was a stunning diamond and sapphire ring. It was flawless. Taking it out of the box he inspected it and when he looked on the inside of the band where he saw the Cullenello crest. His heart knew that this was the ring that would reside on Bella’s finger forever. 

He turned towards Bella, taking her hand into his, and dropped down onto one knee. “You have already agreed to be my wife and I want to give you this ring as a symbol of my love and devotion.” He slipped the ring on her delicate finger and it fit like it had been made just for her. 

Bella’s eyes filled with tears. Edward stood and she brought her hand up so she could look at the ring. It was everything a woman could want in an engagement ring. It was perfect, just like the man who was now her fiancé. She couldn’t wait for them to start their lives together. 

Words to Die By ~ Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

July 17, 2017 ~ Surprise Discoveries

Edward couldn’t believe what was before him. Mentally thanking Angela for making him learn Italian, he read the document with ease. His mind was racing over the fact that the rival families had come together at one time to sign and pledge with their blood to uphold the rules of the mutual agreement.

“What is this?” Jasper asked, stepping over to Edward.

“It is a Giuramento di sangue delle famiglie unificate. Damn, I had heard tales of this, but never thought they were true,” Edward said. His father had mentioned them briefly in his journals. Maybe it was something he needed to tell him face to face. 

“What does that mean?” Alice asked.

“It is in Italian, which translates as Blood Oath of the Unified Families,” Bella replied.

“Parli italiano?” Edward quizzed. 

“Sì,” Bella answered with a smirk licking her lips. She loved hearing Edward speak Italian. His voice was raspy as it pronounced the long vowels, and it caused a serious case of arousal where she was concerned, and by the look in his eyes, she knew she was having the same effect.  “I have a talented tongue.”

Fuck, could she be any more perfect for him. He would have her speak Italian when he makes love to her or to enjoy her talented tongue. Oh, the possibilities. But he had to be mindful of their current company, and keep his thoughts focused on the information in front of him for now. 

“It is an agreement between all the mafia families that they would abide by this set of rules, however, if someone breaks the rules, they will be brought before the families, in the form of a tribunal, to face their punishment,” Edward explained. “Killing of women and children are forbidden, especially wives and young heirs, or as it is written, Principi or Princes. Older male children are bound by their grandfather’s oath and are subject to the prescribed punishments once they reach the accountable age of eighteen.”

“So are you telling me, that the other mafia families will come together to make Aro pay for what he did to your family?” Emmett asked.


“But why hadn’t they done this when it happened?” Jasper wondered.

“A member of the family who was wronged has to step forward and register a denuncia, a complaint. Since everyone thought everyone in the Cullenello family was dead, the other families didn’t have a surviving family member to request justice,” Edward said.

“What makes you think Aro is going to comply with this contract?” Alice asked.

Edward pointed down to the paper. “Every family signed the contract and placed a blood print beside their name. This right here is Aro’s grandfather’s name.”

“HOLY SHIT!” Emmett boomed.

“How do we get the other families involved?” Bella questioned.

“I have to send out the code to the first family listed on this oath, they, in turn, will send it to the next, and so on. A conclave will be called and Aro will have to attend, where the families will hold him accountable for his actions,” Edward smirked.

“What is the code word?” Bella inquired.

Edward read more of the document which explained the rules, the purposes, and how to enact a conclave and register the denuncia. He found the word and smiled. It was perfect. “Traditore, which is traitor in Italian.”

“Fucking perfect!” Jasper gushed.

“What will be the penalty for Aro?” Rose asked.

“Blood for blood,” Edward growled. For the last few years, he had been picking away at Aro’s hold on the city. It would take him years to be strong enough to challenge Aro and there would be bloodshed on both sides. He needed to keep all those who had joined his family safe. He hoped that the other families would allow him to pass judgment against Aro. Over the years he had imagined killing Aro and how he would do it, now he might have a chance to do so.

“What about his family members?” Emmett quizzed.

“I don’t know. I am sure I will find out more once I make contact with the first family to invoke the conclave. I’ve never met any other mafia leaders and of course, they don’t know that I am alive,” Edward hypothesized. 

“They are going to be surprised,” Rose laughed.

“I know you are Edward Cullen, the only child of Carlisle Cullen, and the only remaining member of the Cullenello family, but they think you are dead. How are you going to convince them?” Bella probed.

“I have my father’s ring, all the documentation that my father hid all over the city, and now this. The other families will recognize this immediately and know that Caius Cullenello was the protector of the document,” Edward explained. “I am going to wait until we get back to the States to start the process. This house still might hold some other details that might be helpful and I really want to spend more time in it. You don’t have to stay, go enjoy Italy.”

Bella took hold of his hand. “I’m staying with you.”

Edward smiled. He knew that even before she said it. She was as curious as he was about what they might find. “I thought you might.”

After some prodding, Emmett, Rose, Jasper, and Alice agreed they would leave to enjoy the sites. Edward wondered if the electricity to the house still worked. He called the local utility company and found out the documentation they would need to restore service. Thankfully his grandfather had set up a trust that kept the taxes paid on the house and land, so they only needed identification and the title of the home. 

Bella found the title in the safe along with the information for the law firm that handled the trust, and another journal which she handed to Edward. She knew he would read every word of it this evening and she couldn’t blame him. It held details of his family that he had never been able to receive from his father personally, all because of Aro. Fuck she wanted to kill the man for hurting Edward so badly.

After greasing the palm of the local utility manager, power was turned back on along with the water. Edward then contacted a local contractor who generously came out on such short notice, well after an envelope of money was stuffed in his pocket, to ensure that wiring and pipes could be used without the threat of fire or bursting. He informed Edward they were okay for now, though the wiring and pipes would need to be updated soon. Edward asked how much it would cost to bring the house back to its former glory. Bella’s mouth fell open after hearing the amount, but Edward reached in his pocket and pulled out one-third of the amount, signed the contract, and shook hands on the rest of the deal. The contractor left with a huge smile on his face but knew he better not try anything shady with Edward. He was a Cullenello after all; and though he hadn’t seen or heard of one around for many years, he knew the stories.

Edward stood in the middle of the living room and smiled. He couldn’t wait to see his grandfather’s home brought back to life. He could see his family coming over for years to come enjoying the home. Looking over he saw Bella standing by one of the large windows that led out to a terrace that overlooked the backyard. God, she was beautiful. Then an image came to him that hit him like a brick wall. He had imagined her standing here after the house was done and round with his child. Where had that thought come from? Wherever it was, he couldn’t think of anyone else he would want to carry his children. Bella Swan was it for him and he could only hope that she felt the same way. 

“Edward. Edward. EDWARD!” She yelled after he didn’t answer her the first two times. What was wrong with him? He was standing in the middle of the room with a strange look on his face, like he was trying to solve the world’s problems.

“What?” He jumped.

“I wondered if you wanted to take a look around and see what else we can find, now that the lights are on?” She asked.

“I think that is a grand idea. Come on, let’s go see how my grandparents lived,” Edward smiled reaching out for her to take his hand. 

When they walked into the kitchen, Edward turned to Bella. “What would you like to do here?”

“It is your home,” she replied confused by the question. As much as she would love to have a say in the remodel, she didn’t feel it was her place.  Bella was totally clueless as to the importance she held with Edward and thought of herself as only a person that he had saved.

Edward wrapped his arms around her. “I know that this is too soon, but as my father wrote in his journal, your heart knows when you find the right one and I think your heart knows as well. Bella, I want you here, fuck, no I want you with me everywhere. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and not have you by my side. I want to laugh with you, cry with you, fight with you, so we can have make-up sex. As scared as I am that this world is too dangerous for you, I can’t let you go. I promise to be faithful to you always. Please say you want the same thing.”

Bella couldn’t believe what she was hearing, but the look in Edward’s eyes told her that he meant every word. Was she scared? Yes. But could she walk away from this man and never return? NO. He was her destiny.  She was as sure of this as anything in her life. As she researched his family, read the journal, discovered this house, she had felt a connection to this family. She just didn’t realize the degree of importance until Edward had rescued her.  So even with the knowledge of the machinations of the family business, she was going to endure the good, the bad, and the ugly of this side of his life and stand beside him. “Never in my life did I think I would be standing beside a man like you. Everything about you screams danger and to run far away. I am not naive to the fact that you have killed people in the past and you will continue to do so.”

Edward’s heart fell hearing her comments. He knew she was about to tell him she was leaving and never coming back. 

Bella saw the look of defeat in his eyes. “And even after knowing all of that, I couldn’t see myself anywhere but here in your arms for the rest of my life. I love you, Edward Cullen, son of Carlisle Cullen, grandson of Caius Cullenello with all my heart and soul.”

A smile broke out across his face and passion took hold of him. “Oh, I love you too, Bella.” Leaning down, he captured her mouth in a kiss, that attempted to convey all his feelings to her. His tongue swept inside of her sweet mouth, stroking her tongue with his, then he heard her moan. Finally breaking away, both were breathing hard. “I would love nothing more than make love to you now, but I don’t want to get dust all over us. When we get back to the villa, I plan to show you how much I love you.”

“I love that idea,” she murmured.

“Come, we need to make some plans for what WE are going to do with the house,” Edward said with a smirk.

As they went from room to room, Bella took photos of each, so when they sat down they could decide on what they wanted. Uncovering the furniture, they decided that they wanted to try to save as much as possible in certain rooms. Couches and chairs could be reupholstered, while all wood pieces needed a good cleaning and polishing. When they walked into the master bedroom, they both gasped. The piece of furniture that stood out was the massive bed. It was a solid wood canopy bed with two posts at the foot with a pedestal and a large wood vase on top of it. The head of the bed had the Cullenello crest engraved into it. It was the most gorgeous bed either of them had ever seen.

“Oh my God Edward. I have read about a bed like this. In Italian tradition, the groom commissions the building of the wedding bed. The wealthier the family, the extravagant and ornate the bed.”

“ You are a wealth of information,” he said smiling down at her.

“I have done extensive research for my books,” Bella explained.

“Well I am impressed and we are keeping this bed,” Edward declared.

“Agreed,” Bella confirmed as she thought of her and Edward making love in it. 

After exploring the rest of the rooms on the second floor, they decided they would come back tomorrow and look around in the attic. Leaving the house, Edward made a mental note that the first thing to be done would be changing the locks and securing the house. When they got in the car, they realized how dirty they were and chuckled over the fact. There wasn’t an inch of their body that wasn’t covered in dust. Bella’s long dark hair, looked like it had gone grey. 

When they got back to the villa, no one was around. They went to their bedroom, stripped the dirty, grimy clothes off and stepped into the shower together. After the shower, they wrapped towels around each other and went back into the bedroom. 

“How do you feel about going out to dinner tonight?” Edward asked.

“I would love that,” Bella answered.

“Great. Why don’t we get a snack and read some of that journal we found?” Edward quizzed.

“Sounds like a plan. You go relax on the terrace and I will be out in a few minutes,” Bella instructed.  After throwing on a relaxing outfit, she went into the small kitchen, made a couple of sandwiches, sliced up some fruit, and grabbed a couple of bottles of water. She took the food to the terrace where Edward had gone. After they ate, she was tired and her ribs were killing her. “I am going to stretch out for a while. Let me know if you find anything surprising.”

“I don’t have to start reading this,” Edward said pointing to the journal. “We could go inside and we could lie down on the bed.”

“No, I am fine. The sun is very relaxing,” she declared.

“All right,” he stated as he began reading the journal. He had thought it would be more about the life of his grandparents, though it wasn’t. It was the Cullenello family rules on running the family and business. Most of the information was stuff he already knew until he got to the section about the requirements to be the Leader of the Cullenello family. As he read each one, he mentally checked off that he had completed it, then he read a requirement that caused his breath to hitch. To be recognized as the leader of the Cullenello family, he had to be married. “HOLY FUCK!”

Bella jumped up, grabbing her side when the pain stabbed through. “What is it, what’s wrong?” She winced out.

Edward looked at Bella and shook his head. How was he going to tell her what he just read? “I just read something that shocked me.”

Bella came over and looked down at the journal, but before she could see what shocked him, he closed the book. “Edward, what is the matter?”

He stood up and began pacing and running his hands through his hair. Why was this a requirement? He couldn’t understand why it was so important that he was married.

Bella watched him pace back and forth, mumbling to himself. She had to know what had upset him, so she opened the journal and began to read, then she saw it the rule concerning marriage, she too yelled out, “HOLY FUCK!”

Edward turned when he heard Bella scream. Glancing down he saw that she had opened the journal. Rushing back to her he took her hand in his. Looking down, he saw how perfect her hand fit in his. She loved him and he loved her, then there was no reason why they couldn’t get married. Getting down on one knee, he looked up at her angelic face. “You know that I love you and I would be honored if you would agree to be my wife.”

Tears filled Bella’s eyes. This was too quick. No one agrees to marry a man that she had just met. Looking down at Edward through her tears, she knew there was only one answer that she could give to his question.

Words to Die By ~ Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

July 17, 2017

Bella awoke early, and after watching Edward sleep for several minutes, she decided to get out of bed. Putting on her robe, she slipped out of the room and walked out onto the terrace. The sun was rising across the lake, the golden rays dancing across the ripples of water. It was glorious here. She could see herself purchasing a home here. “Hmm, I wonder if Edward would come with me?” she thought. 

Edward Cullen came into her life as her green-eyed hero but quickly became so much more. There was this invisible pull between the two of them. Every time he touched her, it set her heart and soul ablaze. Never had any man touched her heart as Edward had, why was that? She had researched men in the mafia, meeting a few low members of a few mafia families across the states. But she had never met a leader, a Don of the family, well until now. Edward was the epitome of a Mafia Don. He exuded power and confidence with every action and decision he made. She noticed his demeanor changed every time Aro’s name was mentioned, and she couldn’t blame him. His entire family, both blood and mafia, were murdered. Bella was so happy that Angela had protected and loved him. He grew into a man with compassion and purpose. 

Edward awoke and reached for Bella, but the bed was empty. Sitting up, he looked around but didn’t see her. Getting out of bed and putting on his dress pants from the night before, he went to find her. He needed her in his arms, soaking in her warmth deep into his dark soul. She was a beacon of light, and he was never letting her go. His father had written in his journal about what it felt like when he had met his mother. When he had first read it, he couldn’t understand how anyone could make you feel lighter, then Bella came along, and he knew. God, he wished his parents were still alive to meet Bella. From everything he had read and what Angela had told him, they would have loved her as much as he did. What? Love? No, it was too soon.

He walked into the living room, looked out the window, and saw her on the terrace. She was a goddess in white standing by the railing. A breeze was blowing her chestnut brown hair, and the morning sun’s rays were shining down on her. She was a vision. Stepping out on the terrace, he looked to the right and saw Seth standing guard, after nodding to him, he walked towards Bella. Stepping in behind her, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close.

“Good morning, my sweet,” Edward whispered in her ear.

“Good morning. I awoke early and wanted to take in the sunrise,” she murmured. “It is so beautiful here.”

“Not as beautiful as you are,” he said as he nuzzled her neck and placed hot kisses onto it.

Bella turned, looked into his sparkling green eyes. “I hope we find some more information about your family today. You deserve to know everything about your family history and to take back what they worked hard to build. I’m not going anywhere. I know your goal is the reinstatement of your family and their honor, so I am telling you now, you do what you need to do.  I will be here beside you, I don’t think I could live without seeing your face.”

“I am a dangerous man,” Edward disclosed. “And while I cannot stand the thought of you in any type of danger, I don’t think I could let you go.”

Bella reached up, placing her arms around his neck and pulled him down. She claimed his lips pouring all her feelings into it. When they finally pulled away, Edward laid his forehead on hers. 

“As much as I want to take you back to bed, we need to get ready to go,” Edward said.

They walked back towards the terrace, and at the point, Bella noticed Seth. “How long has he been there?” Bella asked.

“He has been on since five, Ben had the night shift,” he explained.

“Do you expect problems?”

“No, but I am always on guard,” Edward confined. “I will never let what happened to my parents happen again. I’ve learned from their mistakes and my family is made stronger because of their deaths.”

“You are a great leader,” Bella praised.

“I want to be a leader that my father would be proud of,” Edward declared.

“I am sure he is.”

They went to their room, showered and dressed, even if it took all their self-control not to say “fuck the world” and get lost in each other for the rest of the day. Bella dressed in a pair of jeans, that hugged her curves, an off the shoulder blouse, and a pair of ballet flats. She wanted to be comfortable as they explored Edward’s family home. She was in the bathroom applying her makeup and fixing her hair in the mirror beside Edward; who was beside her at the other mirror shaving. To anyone who might walk in, it would appear that they were an old married couple. 

After Edward had finished shaving and brushing his teeth, he placed a kiss on Bella’s cheek and sauntered out into the bedroom to dress. He normally didn’t wear jeans, though he figured that the house was going to be dusty and dirty and didn’t want to ruin another suit. Selecting a button-down shirt, dark-wash jeans, and a pair of Italian loafers, he looked at himself in the mirror. He might be dressed down, but he still gave off an air of danger and the authority of his position in the family. 

Bella came out of the bathroom and took a deep breath. “Fuck,” she gasped. Edward dressed in a suit was enough to make her heart flip-flop but in jeans, her heart stuttered. 

Edward turned when he heard her gasp. She was standing with her mouth open and panting. Closing the distance between them, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. “Now you know how I feel, every time I gaze upon you and I make my solemn pledge that I will make you scream in ecstasy tonight.”

“I will keep you to your pledge,” she groaned. 

Placing a quick kiss on her lips, he took her hand and led her out of the room. He heard the talking and laughing come from the dining area of the villa. As they entered the room they saw everyone sitting around the table eating breakfast. Grabbing their plates, they filled up with the food that had been delivered and sat down. Edward sat his plate down and pulled out the chair for Bella, which was to the right of his seat at the head of the table. Once he was seated he looked at each one of his family members at the table. Without saying a word, and positioning her beside him, he had made a statement of Bella’s importance to him. 

After breakfast, Rose checked Bella’s ribs and gave her another shot. Even though the ribs were still broken, they were healing slowly. Rose was impressed by Bella’s pain tolerance.

“Is everyone ready for today?” Edward asked.

“Yes. How long will it take to get there, Bella?” Jasper asked.

“About twenty minutes,” she answered.

“Then let us get going,” Edward exclaimed.

Bella and Edward were in the front car so that Bella could give directions on how to get to Villa del Cullenello. When they reached their destination, Edward helped Bella out of the car and walked over to the hidden plaque. Pulling back the vines, she showed Edward.

“Damn, I can’t believe I am seeing this,” Edward murmured.

As Bella started to go through the gate, Edward stopped her. “We don’t know if anyone else happened to find this place. Let me go first, just in case we run into danger.”

Edward followed by Emmett and Jasper, with the guns drawn and ready to shoot, pushed their way through the vine-covered gate, then began surveying the area. There was no evidence that anyone had been around. 

“It is safe,” Edward called out. Bella, Rose, and Alice joined them and they proceeded to the front of the house, fighting through the vines and weeds. When Edward got to the door, he noticed the ornate plaque on the door, which he knew as his family’s crest. Tracing his finger over it, he relished the sensation. Before he met Bella he never thought he would find anything else about his family, but here he was touching a piece of his history. 

Bella stepped up beside him and placed her hand on his arm. “I thought it was lovely when I first saw it.”

“It is,” he said with a small smile. He then took hold of the doorknob and began to turn it. It didn’t move right away but with a little more force it turned, unlatching the lock. Placing his shoulder on the door, he gave it a push, opening it up. The room was just like Bella had described. “Alright, let us go look around and see what we can find. Just be careful, because we don’t know how unstable the structure might be.”

The couples teamed up together and went in separate directions. Bella showed Edward where she had found the picture of his grandparents. The room was exactly as she had left it. They began looking around the room and removing the sheets that covered the furniture and windows. The sun shined in glistening against the dust particles that were floating throughout the room. Other than a good cleaning, the room seemed to be in perfect shape. 

“The house seems to be sturdy,” Edward advised as he ran his hand down the walls. 

“I agree. With a little love and some minor repairs, this place could be brought back to its grand heritage,” Bella said.

Edward began to look at the books on the shelves and could almost picture his grandparents sitting in their chairs, with a fire in the fireplace, as they read from a book on these shelves. As he stepped over to the shelf on the opposite wall of the fireplace, he began to read some of the titles on the spines. He stopped when he saw the title of one of the books, Omertà. Placing his fingers on the top of the spine he pulled it forward and when he did, the shelf next to it sprang open. 

“Bella, look,” he exclaimed.

“How did you do that?” She asked. 

“It was triggered by the book. EVERYONE COME TO THE LIBRARY! He yelled.

They came running, thinking that something was wrong, once they got to the room they saw that they were fine, but were excited over something. “What is it, Boss?” Jasper asked.

“A hidden room. Come let’s see what is in there,” Edward said as he took Bella’s hand and with a flashlight in the other went through the opening. It was a small passageway, the floor covered in dust and a musty smell. 

At the end of the passageway was a door that Edward opened with a little force. They stepped into a large windowless room. As he flashed the light around it, he noticed several lanterns positioned around. Taking out his lighter, he lit one. “Jasper, Emmett light the rest of them.”

Once the lanterns were lit, the room came to life. On the walls were pictures and plaques with different symbols on each one. As the group looked at each one trying to figure out who they were. Bella examined several of them and a memory from her research surfaced. It couldn’t be right though, there was no way that they would have come together in one place. “Edward, I know this is going to sound crazy, but these are other Mafia families.”

“What?” He gasped as he looked around again. “Why would their picture be here? They were rivals of each other.”

Bella moved over the mantle where a picture of Caius hung. He looked so regal in his black suit. He reminded her of Edward. Suddenly something caught her eye. The frame of the picture was not straight and when she pushed to fix it, she saw that there was something behind it. “Edward, look,” she exclaimed.

Edward came over and helped her take the picture down. On the wall behind where the picture had hung was a safe. “Damn, I wonder what is in that?”

“Without the combination, we may never know,” Emmett exclaimed. 

Edward stared at the lock cylinder and wondered what the combination could be. Thinking back on all the journals he had read from his father, then he remembered the journal that Bella had found. “Bella, do you remember anything in the journal you found that had a sequence of numbers.”

Bella closed her eyes and thought about everything she had read in the journal. She didn’t have a photographic memory, though she was great about remembering just about everything she read. There were dates of births, deaths, and weddings. There was nothing strange about any of them and unexpectedly she remembered a footnote on one of the pages. She had wondered what it was when she had first seen it. Could it really be what was needed to open the safe? “24 35 31.”

Edward began turning the lock knob first to twenty-four, then the opposite direction to thirty-five, then back to thirty-one. Once he had he heard the lock disengage. Pulling down the handle, he pulled the door open. Pointing the flashlight into the safe, inside he saw it was full of money, a few guns, and a parchment paper rolled up. Picking the parchment up he took it over to the desk. There was a wax seal that was his family’s crest. Breaking the seal he unrolled it and began reading.  What he discovered shocked him. 

“What is it?” Rose asked.

Edward looked up and smiled. “A weapon that will bring about the total annihilation of Aro.”

Words to Die By ~ Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

July 16, 2017

Aro paced his office like a caged wild beast. How the hell had his men allowed Isabella Swan to escape? Damn, she was a fucking split tail for God’s sake and wasn’t good for anything except spreading her fucking legs. 

He had built his empire on the dead bodies of the Cullen family. Whenever he heard of someone that remembered Carlisle Cullen or any of his family members, they were quickly taken out. In the beginning, several people asked about the Cullens, but over the years, the name had been forgotten. Aro was so proud of the fact he was able to eliminate an entire family, hell he had even rubbed out their past. The day of the attack was almost perfect. The only thing that had gone wrong was he had not known that the Cullen mansion had been rigged with explosives. Thankfully he had just arrived and hadn’t gone inside to get a look at the mighty Carlisle Cullen dead. Even though he didn’t know about the explosive device that brought down the majestic mansion on the hill, it proved to be helpful to remove even more evidence of the Cullens existence from this earth.

The Volturi became the most powerful crime family in Chicago with the Cullen family’s demise. Other crime families had tried over the years to come in and take territory away from him, but Aro quickly thwarted their attempts. Well, except for the pesty fucker who had been stealing his guns, money, and drug shipments of late. It had started five years ago, with small shipments, then bigger loads came up missing, and his men began disappearing. Whomever, it was a slippery sucker because he never left any fucking evidence. Even his paid pigs didn’t have any clue who was doing it. 

Now, Isabella Swan was asking about the Cullen family. How the hell had she learned about the Cullen’s? She thought she was a crime novel author, but her books were a bunch of bullshit. 

“Boss,” Quil said as he walked in the office. 

“Quil, tell me you have some news,” Aro growled.

“We looked everywhere, and there is no sign of Paul,” Quil advised. “And,” he began but stopped, not wanting to tell Aro more bad news. 

“And what?” Aro asked, his face vacant of emotions.

“The cargo ship bringing in the newest shipment of guns was hijacked.”

“How many did they get?” Aro snarled.

“All,” Quil whispered.

Aro turned his back to Quil, picked up his gun, turned, and put a bullet in between his eyes. “I fucking hate the bearer of bad news,” he spat. Picking up his phone, he called his second in command. “Get in here and clean this shit up.”

A few minutes later, James Hunter, Aro’s second in command, came strolling into his boss’s office. Glancing down at the floor, he saw Quil’s dead body crumbled on the new Italian rug. Shit, he liked this one. “Boss,” James said as he stood in front of the desk.

“Get the team to clean up that piece of shit,” Aro hissed.

James looked back and saw that the rug was soaked in blood. “The rug also?”

“Yes,” Aro bellowed, gripping the edge of the desk. “Why can’t someone tell me who is stealing from me?”

“Whoever it is, they are below the radar,” James disclosed. He had been trying since the thefts and deaths began, to figure out who the fucker was messing with their business,  but it was like nailing jello to a wall. Before, it didn’t even affect Aro’s empire, but in the past year, they were losing more than they were bringing in. Also, they had lost over twenty-five percent of their workforce, and no trace of them had been found. James knew that if they didn’t figure out who it was soon, there was a real good chance that they could take over. Despite the fact that it could happen, he would never tell Aro his thoughts on the matter. Aro was too hot-headed and trigger-happy, never listening to anyone who didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. Quil’s dead body on the rug was proof of that. 

Aro was sick and tired of this shit. He hadn’t worked this hard building his empire to have it stolen away by a ghost in the night. He would find out who they were and snuff them out like he had the Cullens. 

Edward was sitting on the couch on his jet for its final leg of the flight. Bella had fallen asleep with her head on his lap. She was still recouping from the broken ribs, but he had never met a woman as strong as she was or as curious, until after he had called for the jet to be prepared to go to Italy. 

“Edward, I need to go to my house and pack,” Bella advised.

“No,” he replied. There was no way in hell she was ever going back to the house until Aro and his entire family were dead. 

“Excuse me, did you tell me no?” Bella demanded, her jaw clenched tight. 

Edward brought up his hand and stroked her jaw. “Bella, love, it is not safe, and I can’t have you in danger.”

“I can take care of myself,” Bella said. 

“Under normal circumstances, yes, but my world is very dangerous, and you are now in the middle of it,” Edward explained.

“I need clothes and my laptop,” Bella told him. 

“I will send a crew in to retrieve your items.”

“A crew?” Bella questioned.

“Yes. I am sure Aro is watching your house, and we need to have a divergent. We will go in as exterminators,” Edward confided. “While they are there, they will search for any bugs or video cameras that have been covertly placed there, but we will also place some of our own. If Aro is watching, he won’t see anything suspicious. My guys have done this many times.”

“Thank you,” Bella said with a smile. “If I make a list with the location of each item, would that be helpful?”

“It would,” Edward replied.

A few hours later, Bella had all the items that she had wanted. She hoped she hadn’t forgotten anything, but Edward assured her that if she had that they could buy it when they got to Italy. 

Edward helped Bella onto the plane and guided her onto one of the plush couches. Emmett, Rose, Jasper, Alice, along with Seth and Ben boarded behind them. After everyone had settled, Edward introduced Bella to Jasper and Alice. Jasper, the charmer he was, kissed her hand, which caused a bolt of jealousy through Edward. Bella was his now and forever. When she turned to Alice, Alice didn’t say anything to her, always wary of any strangers who came close to her family. 

Once they were in the air, Edward began telling Bella all that he knew about his family. 

“How do you know so much?” Bella asked.

“My father kept journals, just like my grandfather had. When Angela escaped with me on that horrible day, my parents made sure that she took the information to find all the stuff that was hidden all over the city. Over the next year, she collected all of it and placed it in a secure location until I reached an age where I would be able to understand,” he explained, then rubbed his father’s ring.

“Is that your father’s ring?” Bella wondered.

Suddenly Alice stood up and looked at Bella with daggers in her eyes. “Why the fuck do you need to know so much? I am not going to allow you to write anything about my family in your skanky books.”

Bella jumped to her feet, ignoring the pain on her side, and took the few steps until she was face to face with Alice. “I’ll have you know Shorty, that I would never do anything to harm Edward. He saved my life, and I will forever be indebted for that.”

“Don’t call me Shorty,” Alice sneered.

“Don’t call my books skanky,” Bella growled as she fisted her hands. The bitch better back the fuck off, or she was going to regret it, broken ribs and all.

Edward saw Bella begin to ball up her hands and knew he needed to stop this before someone got hurt. Alice might look like she couldn’t hurt a flea, but she was one of his deadliest assassins. “Alice, back off,” he commanded. 

Alice took her eyes off Bella and looked at Edward. She could tell by the look on his face that he meant business. Damn, she really wanted to put this bitch in her place, but she wouldn’t go against her boss’ command. Looking back at Bella, she sneered. “I have my eye on you, and you better not try to fuck up my family.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that,” Bella snapped.

Edward had stood and come up behind Bella, wrapping his arm carefully around her waist. Leaning down to her ear, he whispered. “I know you won’t hurt the family or me.”

Bella stared at Alice for a few more seconds before turning and wrapping her arms around Edward’s neck. “Never,” she confirmed with all her heart. 

Edward leaned down and captured her mouth. Seeing her toe to toe with Alice had turned him on. Fuck anything she did seemed to turn him on.

“Mr. Cullen we are beginning our descent, everyone please take a seat and buckle up,” Seth advised. 

“Thank you, Seth,” Edward replied helping Bella to their seat. Bending over Bella’s lap, he picked up the two ends of the seatbelt and clicked them together. Looking up at her through his long lashes he whispered. “Hmm, I like you like this, what do you think about that?”

Bella brought her bottom lip between her teeth. Thinking about Edward tying her up as he thrust his thick, long cock into her, made her move her hips to gain some friction. “Please,” she begged.

Dipping his mouth towards her, he took her bottom lip in between his teeth and tugged it into his mouth. As he began to suck on her lip, he heard a deep throaty moan coming from her. Pulling back he looked at her. “Your wish is my command.”

Bella smiled. This man was dangerous in more ways than one, and she loved it.

They touched down at the Lugano Airport and taxied to terminal two. Once they were stopped at the terminal, Seth and Ben exited the plane first. Surveying the area for any dangers and when they felt it was safe, they directed everyone off the plane. Two dark-tinted windowed limos were waiting from them, once they got through security. Edward had to smirk because everyone’s fake passports worked like a charm, even Bella’s. It had been a rush job, but he wanted to make sure that Aro couldn’t take her. His man, Jay Jenkins, was a master of making perfect fake documents, that would fool anyone in the world.

Edward, Bella, and Seth were in one limo, while everyone else got in the other. Once they were on their way, Bella turned to Edward. “What is up with Alice?”

“Well, she is a bit of a hothead, but she is one of the smartest people I have met when it comes to explosives. I found her setting a bomb at one of Aro residences. She had been living on the streets since she was thirteen after her parents had been murdered by Aro. It took her several months before she trusted me enough to tell me that she had in fact witnessed their murders and that it was Aro who had been the one that pulled the trigger,” Edward explained.

“Wow. I am sorry she had to go through that, but I just don’t like anyone getting in my face and accusing me of wanting to hurt you,” Bella said. 

“Bella, she will come around, I promise,” Edward sighed wrapping his arm around her, pulling her close. He loved the way she felt against his body.

It took over an hour to get to Lake Como and they pulled up in front of the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Seth and Ben once again made sure that no one was around to harm their boss. Seth nodded and Edward stepped out of the car, offering his hand to Bella. Once she took his arm, they walked through the double glass doors and across the marble floor of the lobby. As they passed, people openly gawked at the regal couple. The woman behind the counter smiled. “Benvenuti al Mandarin Oriental Hotel.” Welcome to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

“Abbiamo una prenotazione con il nome di Cullen,” Edward advised. We have a reservation under the name Cullen

“Mr. & Mrs. Cullen, ti stavamo aspettando. Le tue ville sono pronte e ti preghiamo di farci sapere se hai bisogno di qualcos’altro,” she said with a smile handing over the door lock cards. Mr. & Mrs. Cullen we have been expecting you. Your villas are ready and please let us know if you need anything else.

Edward accepted the cards and gave one to Jasper and one of the hotel staff showed them the way to their villas. Once Edward and Bella were in their room, Edward handed the man a large tip and told him they were not to be disturbed.

Bella looked around the room in awe of its splendor. It had floor-to-ceiling windows that looked over Lake Como. There was a private kitchen, with a separate dining area, living room, and a library with a fireplace on the ground floor. When they walked up to the first floor, there were two ensuite bedrooms with lake view terrace. The terrace led out to a lush green yard with a fence that separated it from the lake. The place was magical. “Edward I love this place.”

“I am glad you like it,” he said with a husky voice. “Why don’t we take a nap before dinner.”

Licking her lips and thinking back to his comment on the plane about tying her up, she smiled and began pushing off his jacket. Untying his tie she held it up. “I hope you remember all your rope tying skills.”

Taking the tie from her hand he smirked. “Always prepared, my love.”