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.

“Yes.”

“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.”

Words to Die By ~ Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

July 15, 2017

The early morning sun was shining through the windows. Edward moved and felt Bella’s naked body wrapped around him. The late-night activities came flooding back to him. He couldn’t believe how wonderful it felt to be deep inside of her. When he had awoken to find her hand wrapped his cock, he was shocked, but her soft hand stroking him caused him to relent and revel in the feelings. When she awoke, he thought for sure she would scream at him to leave; however, once again, she surprised him by demanding he make love to her. He was worried about her ribs, so he let her take the lead, something he never did, and God was it glorious. She rode him hard, raking her nails down the planes of his chest and abs. Rubbing his hand down his chest, he felt the welts from her nails and thought they were so erotic. Needing to touch her, he began to gently stroke his hand up and down her arm. 

Bella began to wake and smiled. She remembered every detail of last night, and she wanted more. She moved, and as soon as she did, the painful reminder of her injuries hit her. “Fuck.”

Edward looked down at her when she yelled out. She had tears in her eyes and pain etched all over her face. “Oh, my sweet girl, I’m sorry. Let me go get Rose.”

Bella didn’t want him to go, even though she would love some of those great drugs that Rose had. “Wait, please. I don’t want you to leave.”

“But it’s obvious that you are in severe pain,” Edward murmured as he wiped her tears that were now falling down her cheeks.

“Can’t you just call her?” She asked, putting out her bottom lip. 

“But we are naked,” he said, not wanting to cause her any embarrassment. 

Bella smirked. “So, she has already seen me naked.”

Edward was shocked. Rose had seen Bella naked. “When?”

“Last night, when she gave me a shot. I couldn’t undress by myself. She is definitely a real doctor because she has a great bedside manner?”

“Yes. She is a licensed Orthopedic Surgeon, but she had to leave her practice.  That is a story for her to tell you, not mine.”

“How did she become part of the family?” Bella asked, hoping Edward would let it slip that he was, in fact, part, hell, probably the fucking Don of the family.

Edward smiled, then placed a sweet kiss on her lips. “Always poking for information.” He turned and picked up his phone to send Rose a text.

Bella moved over a little, running her hand across the sheets, and under Edward’s pillow, it was then that she felt it. The cold metal of a gun. Her father had made sure she knew how to handle and shoot a weapon.  Grabbing hold of the handle, she pulled it out and grinned. “So, are you going to tell me about the family?”

Edward couldn’t believe that Bella was holding his gun. Fuck, he hadn’t even felt her hand under his pillow until it was too late. As he stared at her holding his gun, he became hard immediately. Here was the sexiest woman he had ever met, naked in his bed holding his Glock. He had died and went to heaven.  “Fine, but after you get some meds and food.”

“I want to know everything,” she said with a determined face.

“As much as I can without putting you in any more danger,” Edward agreed.

Suddenly his door flew open with a bounce against the wall, Emmett and Rose came strolling into the room. “Way to go, Eddie,” Emmett bombed as he saw the couple in bed. He could see Edward’s bare chest covered in scratch marks, and Bella’s tits were uncovered for all to see. Damn, they were a nice set, he thought. Suddenly he was hit behind the head by Rose. 

“Stop staring asshole, I saw them first,” Rose jokes. “Get you naked ass out of the bed, Edward, so that I can help Bella.”

Edward placed another kiss on Bella’s lips and took the gun from her hand. Sitting up and sliding his legs off the bed. “Rose, turn around, or you are going to see more of me than you ever have before.”

“Unless you have two dicks, it isn’t anything I haven’t seen before,” she boasted. 

Edward stood his long hard cock bouncing against his stomach and walked towards the bathroom, making sure to shake his ass towards everyone. 

Bella watches Edward until he disappears into the bathroom. Fuck, the man had a monster cock and fine tight ass as well. Hmm, maybe after she got some meds, she could ride him again. 

“Wipe that drool off your face, girl, and let me take a look at those ribs,” Rose smirked. “Emmett, stop staring at Bella’s tits and tell Maria to fix the love birds some breakfast.”

“Ah, Rosie, you know I only love your tits,” Emmett purred into her ear.

“I know, but she does have a nice set. Damn, she might even turn me,” Rose jokes. 

Emmett gasped as he left the room, with thoughts of his Rose and Bella together as he sat back and watched. Fuck, that would be hot. After Emmett left the room, Bella moved over on the bed so that Rose could check her ribs. 

Rose unwrapped Bella’s ribs and checked for any discoloration, then listened to her lungs to make sure no fluid was building up. “Your lungs sound clear, but you need to keep taking deep breaths even though it hurts. I don’t want the fluid to build-up. Now I am going to give you another shot of morphine, but a smaller dose. You need to try to stay awake today and walk around.”

“I will try. You are an excellent doctor, and I am happy that you were around to take care of me,” Bella said. 

“You are a cool chick, and I would love for us to become friends. There is too much testosterone in this house,” Rose declared. 

“Not many women here?” Bella asked.

“A few, Alice is a real firecracker in every way possible, Maria who is our housekeeper, chef, and Angela, who is Edward’s mother,” Rose explained.

Bella was curious about Angela and wondered where Edward’s father might be. 

Rose administered the shot. “There you go. I will give you another in four hours.”

“Thanks,” Bella said, then thought she had nothing to wear except for the clothes from last night. “Hey, Rose, do you have something I could wear?”

“I sure I do. I will have to confess that I have a small addiction,” Rose implied.

“Really?” Bella quizzed, wondering what it could be. Rose looked like the picture of health, not someone who was strung out.

“Shopping!” She exclaimed. “Emmett’s credit card is abused to the extreme at times.”

“Me too!” Bella declared. “Good damn thing I make shit piles of money writing my books.”

Rose looked toward the bathroom to make sure Edward was still in the shower, and when she heard the water, she smirked. “Edward has all your books and is a huge fan. He has often wondered which family you were a member of.”

Bella was shocked. She had hoped that she had written the stories that were believable even to people who were in the organizations. “I am excited that I wrote it correctly.”

“Let me go get those clothes. I can see you are getting a bit chilled,” Rose chuckled pointed at Bella’s nipples that were hard and taunt. 

“Bitch,” Bella quipped.

“Yes, and proud of it,” Rose said as she headed out the door.

Edward had to take another shower to get rid of his little, well colossal problem. After rubbing out another knee-buckling orgasm, he wrapped a towel around his waist and walked back into the room. As soon as he glanced towards the other side, his erection returned. Bella was standing by the window that overlooked the back of his property completely nude. She was utterly unashamed by the fact that anyone could walk in the room and would see all of her, or if anyone looked up at the window from outside, would be able to see her. 

Bella heard Edward came in and was disappointed to see that he covered up his beautiful cock, although she could see that it was hard once again. She watched as he stalked towards her, his green eyes blazing with passion. Placing his arms around her waist, he carefully pulled her towards him.

Nuzzling into her neck. “Do you know fucking bad I want to be buried inside of you?”

“Not as much as I want you to be,” she moaned.

Edward covered her mouth with his with an all-encompassing kiss. He wasn’t surprised when she demanded him to open his mouth to accept her tongue. Pulling back, Edward looked into her eyes. “What are you doing to me?”

Bella licked up his neck and took his ear lobe in her mouth and sucked. When she released it, she whispered in his ear. “Making you want me.”

Edward backed up to a chair, pulled the towel off, and sat down. Placing his hands on her hips, he guided her to straddle his lap. “I will be so fucking happy when your ribs are better, so I can fuck you anyway I can. We won’t leave this room for days,” he growled.

“I can’t wait,” Bella purred as she eased herself down on his cock. “Damn, I love your dick.” She began slowly riding him, but quickly increased her pace as her orgasm neared.

Edward’s head fell back, enjoying the immense pleasure that Bella was giving him. He had fucked a lot of girls but never had anyone brought him this much rapture. “Oh, Bella,” he moaned.

Bella’s orgasm came like a freight train causing her to scream out Edward’s name over and over again. As her muscles contracted around him, it caused his climax. When they were both spent, she leaned forward, placing her forehead on his. “You are one dangerous man, Edward Cullen.”

“Baby, I have nothing on you,” Edward murmured.

“Giddy up cowgirl,” Rose jeered. “Ride him hard and put him up wet.”

Edward looked around Bella. “Rose, get out!”

“Eddie, I am just admiring the moves my friend has,” she snickered and lay the clothes for Bella on the bed. “Maria has breakfast ready and you know how she gets if you let it cold.”

“Fine, we will be down in a moment,” Edward growled.

After Rose left, Bella moved off his lap. “I am going to clean up and get dressed.”

Edward reached out and grasped her hand. “Bella, we need to figure out what this is between us.”

“I know, but we need to talk about the family first, and I need to tell you everything that I know,” Bella informed. She leaned down, kissed him quickly.

While Bella got ready, Edward also dressed, pulling on a pair of pants, a button-down shirt, and a pair of Italian loafers. He might be overdressed, but he never knew when he might have to deal with a family issue. He went over the nightstand, pulled out his Glock, and placed it under his belt at his back. Bella already knew he had a gun and she would just have to get used to seeing him wearing one at all times. 

Bella cleaned up, brushed her teeth using Edward’s toothbrush, ran a brush through her hair, and got dressed. Rose had brought her a pair of capri pants and an open back red ruffle blouse. She couldn’t wear a bra, but that was a good thing because she didn’t know if she could reach around to clasp it. Slipping on a pair of ballet flats, she walked out to find Edward waiting for her. Damn, he looked just as yummy dressed as he did naked. He held out his hand, and she took it. 

“I hope you are hungry because I am sure Maria has cooked enough for an army,” Edward predicted.

“Starved, I worked up quite an appetite,” Bella smirked.

“You are going to be the death of me, but fuck what a way to go,” Edward resounded. He walked them down the hall, nodding as he passed Max. Later he would introduce everyone to Bella, but that would be after their talk. They walked down the stairs, and he took her to the kitchen. 

Bella took in everything and everyone she saw as they walked through his house. They had passed three massive men in suits, who were keeping guard. She noticed the bulge of their guns under their coats. When they walked into the kitchen, the delicious aroma flowed around the room. Her stomach growled loudly. 

“Eduardo, why are you starving this beautiful young dama?” Maria questioned.

“I’m not,” he replied, then placed a kiss on Maria’s cheek.  As most of all of his new family, Maria had been a victim of Aro Volturi’s cruelty. Aro killed her husband and son because they refused to go to work for him selling drugs. Maria lost everything after their deaths and ended up living on the streets homeless. This is where Edward found her, late one night in the freezing cold, trying to sleep in a cardboard box. He took her home that night, fed her, and gave her a place to sleep. The next morning he offered her a position in the household, and from that moment on, she had been a valuable member of the Cullen family.

Maria brought over two plates and sat them in front of Edward and Bella. They had a large texas omelet, fried potatoes, and mixed fruit. Cups of steaming coffee and juice were also brought to the table. Bella hummed with delight at the wonderful tasting food. 

“Maria, this is the best tasting omelet I have ever had,” she praised. 

“Thank you, dear. It is Eduardo’s favorite,” she said.

After breakfast was over, Bella followed Edward into the den. Emmett, Rose, and a dark-haired older woman that she thought might be his mother were already seated. Edward walked over and gave the woman a kiss on the cheek.

“Good morning, Mom. I would like to introduce you to Bella. Bella this is my Mom, Angela,” Edward beamed.

“Hello, Ms. Cullen. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Bella said.

Edward came back to Bella’s side. “Angela is not Ms. Cullen, but she has always been my Mom as long as I can remember. Please sit down and I will tell you everything.”

“Everything?” Emmett questioned with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes and Bella is going to tell us about how she came to know the Cullen name,” Edward informed. 

Bella sat down and Edward sat beside her. “Let me start,” Bella said. She told how she had been in Italy and had gone to the bookstore and found the hidden journal. Then Bella remembered that she had it with her. “Where is my messenger bag? I had it with me last night before the attack.”

“I found it on the ground next to the fucker,” Emmett said as he went over to the table, picked it up, and then took it to Bella. “I saw your initials on it and knew it was yours.”

“Thanks,” she exclaimed, then opened her bag and found the journal. “I found this in a bookstore in Pienza, Italy. It was hidden behind some books in the back of the store. When I started reading, I became aware of the significance of the information.  It was apparent that the family was part of the mafia organization, although I had never heard of their name before.”

Edward was looking down at the book in Bella’s hand and recognized the emblem on the front. It was the same one that was in his father’s journals. “May I?”

“Certainly,” Bella answered handing it to him. 

Edward took the journal and carefully opened it. It was his grandfather, Caius Cullen’s journal. After reading it for a few moments, he looked up at the eyes of his family members. “It is my grandfather’s journal.”

“Really?” Angela gasped.

“Yes,” Edward murmured.

“I reread it several times and just before I was going to leave Italy, I found a name for what I think is one of the family’s homes. Moving back my trip plans, I went in search of Villa del Cullenello in Lake Como. I lucked out finding the home,” Bella remarked.

“It is still standing?” Edward questioned.

“Oh, yes. It needs some major work, but it has great bones. I broke in, sorry by the way and looked around. It had a massive library with a grand fireplace. Then I found this,” Bella said pulling out the protective sleeve where she had placed the picture. Handing it over to Edward, she watched him for his reaction as he looked at it for the first time. 

His father had placed several photographs in his journals and the couple in this photo was of his grandparents. Bella had found their home. The need to know more overcame him. Looking up at Emmett. “Ready the plane, we are going to Italy.”

Words to Die By ~ Chapter Six

Chapter Six

July 15, 2017

Looking past her hero, she saw that she was in a mysterious bedroom. Where the hell was she and how did she get here? Moving to get up, she experienced a stabbing pain ripping through her side. Catching her breath as she tried to speak through the pain, she looked at the man before her and asked, “Who are you?”

“I guess you don’t remember last evening?” Edward asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I was attacked, but I got a few good blows in before the fucker stomped on my ribs,” Bella answered, thinking about the pain, then she remembered her green-eyed hero. “It was you, you saved me.”

“I did, but I should have been there a bit sooner and I am sorry for that,” he said as he rubbed his hand down her face. He had allowed her to be hurt and he would never forgive himself for that.

Bella leaned into his touch. It was so warm, so comforting, and for some reason, even though she was in pain, she found herself wanting him to touch her everywhere. “You said your name was Edward Cullen, is that true?”

“Yes, but it is very dangerous for you to know that,” Edward advised. 

“How is this possible? Everywhere I went and asked about the Cullen family I was told there was no such family, however, I knew better.” Bella explained.

“I will tell you everything you want to know, however, I must know how you came by the knowledge of the Cullen family name?” Edward quizzed. 

“I found a journal in a little shop in Italy,” Bella answered, but as soon as she moved to get comfortable another stabbing pain shot through her. “HOLY FUCK!” 

“Broken ribs are a bitch. Let me get Rosalie and she can give you something for the pain,” Edward said.

Bella didn’t know who this Rosalie was, but she became bewildered by the fact that she felt a twinge of jealousy hearing Edward say another woman’s name, but she did. “Who the fuck is Rosalie?” She snarled.

Edward chuckled. “I never met a woman who curses more than I do. Rosalie is my best friend’s wife and my family’s doctor.”

“Your family doctor or The Family doctor?” Bella asked emphasizing each word because she knew how people in the mafia talked.

Edward arched his eyebrow at her. Hell, she was not only sexy as fuck, but also smart and courageous. “Bella, we need to talk, but you need to get some drugs for those ribs. But I do promise to tell you everything I can about me and my family.”

“But,” Bella began, but Edward put his finger up to her lips.

“Let me take care of you, please,” Edward pleaded.

Bella looked into his green eyes,  her heart skipping a beat from its currently thumping rhythm. “Fine, but I have thousands of questions, just giving you fair warning.”

Edward nodded and walked out of the room to find Rose. He didn’t talk about his family to strangers, but there was something about Bella that made him trust her. He found Rose in the den sitting on the couch with Emmett’s large arm draped over her shoulders as they watched a show on t.v. “Rose, Bella is awake and in pain.”

Rose kissed Emmett on the cheek and stood up. “I’ll take care of her.”

After Rose walked out, Emmett turned towards Edward. “So, did you find out how she knew the Cullen name?”

“Sort of, but I’m hoping to get more information tomorrow,” Edward answered smiling, remembering how she cussed so much, how soft her skin was, and how fucking sexy she was when she questioned him about Rose.

“You got it bad,” Emmett joked.

“I don’t,” Edward growled.

“Yeah, yeah. Keep lying to yourself, but I know that look,” Emmett advised. “It was the one I had when I fell in love with my Rosie.”

“I don’t love Bella, hell I hardly know her.  Not to mention that I don’t have the time for that stuff anyway,” Edward scoffed.

Emmett knew not to push Edward, but he couldn’t wait to sit back and watch. “Alright. I increased the guard presence around the perimeter.”

Edward just nodded his head in acknowledgment. “Have you heard from Jacob?”

“No, but I am sure Aro is pissed off right now and Jacob needs to be careful,” Emmett advised.

Pacing back and forth, rubbing the back of his neck, Edward was still beating himself up because he had allowed Bella to get hurt. The image of the foot powering its way down on her side, made him want to kill Aro with his bare hands. 

“Ed, you saved her,” Emmett said knowing that Edward was beating himself up. “She will heal, however, she is not out of danger until that fucker is dead.”

Rose had picked up her bag of medical supplies and went straight to Edward’s bedroom. She smiled at that fact. 

When Edward had burst through the front door earlier, he held Bella protectively in his arms. As they walked upstairs, Rose turned to go to one of the guest bedrooms, however, Edward turned in the opposite direction. He walked to his bedroom door, opened it, and carefully placed Bella on the bed. Before stepping away to allow Rose to assist in fixing Bella’s injuries, he gently stroked her cheek. The look in his eyes was that of a man in love and Rose couldn’t wait until he admitted to himself.

Opening the door she found Bella sitting on the side of the bed holding her side while wearing a painful grimace. “Hello, Bella.”

Bella looked and saw a stunning woman with long, brunette hair and striking hazel eyes. Damn, she would almost make her want to change sides. “Rosalie?”

“Yes, but my friends call me Rose. I can see that you are in some serious pain.”

“Fuck, yeah,” Bella groaned. “But I have got to use the bathroom.”

“Come let me help you,” Rose offered, assisting Bella to her feet and helping her into the bathroom. “I’ll get you something comfortable to wear and get you out of those tight clothes.”

“God that sounds great,” Bella said as she undid her pants and slowly pulled them off, however, getting her top off was causing her too much pain. Rose came into the bathroom carrying a man’s t-shirt.

“Do you need some help?” Rose asked. 

“Yeah.”

Rose helped Bella remove her top and unhooked her bra. Bella turned around, not the least bit shy of her nakedness. She certainly had a rocking body and Edward was going to go nuts. “Do you work out?” She asked.

“Yeah,” Bella answered as Rose helped her pull the t-shirt over her head. It fell about mid-thigh. 

“That is good news because you have a tight core which will help the healing process. But I have some good drugs to help with the pain,” Rose said with a smirk. She helped Bella back in the bed.

Bella took another look around the room, seeing the richness and masculinity of the furnishing. In the one corner, was a bookshelf full of books, but something caused her to stop and stare more intently. On the shelf were all her books. “Whose room is this?”

Rose pulled up the sleeve of the t-shirt, wiped the skin with an alcohol wipe, then stuck the needle in and pushing the morphine into Bella’s arm. “It is Edward’s. He wanted you to be safe and this room is the safest in the house.”

Bella needed to know. “He is part of the mafia, isn’t he?”

Rose knew that look, it was the same when she asked Emmett the same question. Even though it was frightening discovering the truth, it comforted her just the same, because she knew that the family would one day make Caius pay for killing her parents. “Bella, I can’t answer your question, but know that Edward will give his own life to protect you from Aro.”

Bella was shocked by that news. Edward had just met her and he was willing to die for her, why?  This made no sense.

“Get some rest,” Rose said as she began to walk out of the room. “If you need anything else, just ask.” 

The morphine was doing its job and Bella rolled over on her good side, falling asleep quickly with a vision of dangerous green eyes and full pouty lips waiting to be kissed.

Rose put her bag back in her room before went back downstairs. She found her loving husband where she’d left him on the couch, with his foot propped up on the table and Edward standing near the window with a glass in his hand. As soon as she stepped onto the hardwood floor, Edward’s head whipped around.

“How is she?” He asked, his voice full of concern.

“Sleeping by now. I gave her some morphine. She is doing good otherwise and will make a quick recovery,” Rose explained.

Edward down the rest of his whiskey and sat his glass down on the table. “Emmett, post two extra guards down here and one in the hallway upstairs.”

“Okay, and where will you be?” Emmett asked.

“My room,” Edward said as he began to leave the room.

“Edward,” Rose called out.

“Yes,” he answered.

“You can thank me later,” she said with a wicked smile.

Edward gave her a curious look but turned quickly and went up the stairs. He made it to his door and opened it slowly. Stepping in the room as quietly as he could, he looked towards the bed to find Bella laying on her side, her long silky hair laying across the pillow. Watching her for several minutes, he could see she was sleeping deeply. Mentally thanking Rose, he entered the bathroom and turned on the shower. He needed to wash away the previous days’ stress. Stripping off his clothes, he placed them in the laundry basket, then walked into the shower. Allowing the multiple shower heads beat against his body to release his tight muscles, he finally began to wash, scrubbing the soap down each arm, across his chest, down each leg and finally along the length of his cock and balls. He was thinking of Bella, which instantly hardened his cock. He was stunned at just how fucking quick and hard he became. Over the years he had been with several women who were able enough to scratch his itch, but they were only a means to an end. He didn’t lie to them, promising them a future with him, because none of them held any interest past their bedroom antics, or a place in his heart. He wanted what his parents had, what his father wrote about in his journals, an all-encompassing love. 

He lathered up his hand with soap, grasping his cock. Placing his other hand on the wall, and began to stroke, beginning slow and steady.  Images of Bella with her hand in place of his, soon had his strokes becoming faster. Images of her naked body danced in his mind as he imagined the pounding of frantic fucking, as she called out his name in pure ecstasy.  Feeling the phantom pulses of his imagination as she clamped down on his cock with her orgasm, caused him to shoot streams of cum on the shower walls. It was intense, that he felt a little light headed. Turning off the water, he dried off and walking naked back into the bedroom. Looking once again at Bella, he noticed that she had not moved. Normally he sleeps in the nude, but he didn’t want to frighten Bella, so he pulled on a pair of boxers. Walking over to the bed he opened the nightstand and took out the Glock that he kept there at all times and put it under his pillow for quick access. He didn’t think anyone would get into his bedroom, but with Bella here he wasn’t going to take any chances. Pulling back the cover he gasped when he saw that Bella was wearing one of his t-shirts. It had inched up and her perfect ass was in plain view. 

“Fuck,” he groaned as his cock once again came to life. She was going to be the death of him. Climbing into bed, he turned off the light and pulled up the covers. Laying as close as he could without touching her, he willed his cock to calm down. He fell asleep with a smile, as he dreamed of Bella.

Bella was having the best dream. She currently dreaming of being on top of her green-eyed hero, riding his cock as it thrust deep inside of her. Never had any man filled her as he did and the deep tightening within her pussy was about to explode. Just as she began to come, she heard a deep voice moaning pulling her out of her sleep. Opening her eyes, she saw Edward, his face glowing in pure pleasure and her hand is down his underwear wrapped around his thick, pulsing cock. Knowing she should pull away and demand to know why the hell he was in her bed, she abandoned that though as her muscles began clenching and tightening. 

“Edward,” she whispered.

“Oh, Bella, my sweet, sexy Bella,” he moaned.

Removing her hand, she turned and leaned in to place a passionate kiss upon his lips. Her ribs still hurt, but she wanted, no, needed him inside of her. Pulling back she looked into his eyes, they were blazing with need.

“I need you inside of me,” she groaned.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said.

“Fuck my ribs, my pussy is hurting worse,” she demanded, pushing down his underwear allowing his cock free. 

He placed his hands on her hips and helped her as she slowly took him into her. Throwing back her head and groaning out loud. Edward had dreamed of what it would feel like to be deep inside of her, but it was nowhere near how fucking good it actually felt. “Bella you are so fucking wet and tight.”

“Edward, your cock is glorious, filling me up as no other has,” she murmured as she continued to ride up and down. 

He wanted to come, but he needed her to come first, so he reached down between them a pinched her clit hard, sending her over the edge.

“EDWARD!!!” She screamed as her orgasm overtook her, then she felt his orgasm following as he shot streams of release into her. When they finally came down from the sexual high, Bella looked at Edward. “Why are you in my bed?”

Edward pulled her down and placed a kiss on her lips. “You are in my bed and I’m thinking that this is where you are going to stay.”

In a Heartbeat ~ Chapter Fourteen

It was just before twelve o’clock when Edward finally arrived at the family’s Cape Charles home. He had only stopped to get something to eat and get gas. The weather in Cape Charles was warm and humid, being located so close to the water. Pulling up at the house, he opened the door and let out a deep cleansing sigh. It hadn’t changed at all. His parents had a cleaning lady that came in once a week to take care of the cleaning, even though no one lived there. Emmett, Jasper, Rose, and Alice came to visit often, enjoying the peaceful tranquility of the house. There had been a conversation by the family to have a vacation together this summer and Elizabeth was excited to see the house and spend time on the water.

Deciding he needed a shower, he walked upstairs to the master bedroom. Stripping off his clothes, he turned on the water and stepped inside. Placing his hands on the wall, ducking his head, he turned on the faucet to the hottest setting; allowing the hot water to beat down on his back. He felt so drained; emotionally, physically, and mentally.  To say he was confused, was a massive understatement. Why had fate allowed this to happen? The odds of this occurring were astronomical, yet here he was, facing a situation that was one in a billion. Shutting off the water, he dried off and walked back into the bedroom. Searching the drawers he found a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that was his father’s. Forgoing underwear, he slipped them on and went back downstairs. As he walked around the family room, he could see all the family touches that his mother had added over the years. Pictures of him and the family, each of the couples, too many of Elizabeth; the room was full of memories. Walking around, he looked at each one, and then he came upon one that took him by surprise. It was of Bella. She was nestled in between his brothers, and they were laughing at something. Next to that picture was one of Bella with his parents. She looked like she was part of his family, intertwined in all their lives. How had he not seen or known about this?

Looking out the window, he gazed at the water, the sun glistening upon its waves. It was glorious, and he wondered if Bella would appreciate the serenity of it. He had come to know so much about her, and one of those things was her love of the water. She had expressed how she loved to water ski but hadn’t had a chance to do so for years. Was it because of her illness? He could only assume that was probably the case.

Running his hand through his hair in frustration, he again questioned as to why she did not tell him about her surgery. They had talked for hours, but she never once said anything about it. Fuck, if he hadn’t seen her taking her meds, would she have ever told him. There is no way she would have been able to hide it.  Him being a doctor, she had to know he would have figured it out. Walking over to the sectional, he sat down and decided to watch a little television, mindlessly flipping channels until he found a game on. Stretching out on the sofa, he settled in to watch the game, however before he knew it, he was fast asleep and began to dream.

He was all alone on a boat, but as he looked around he saw it was in fact a ferry. Just like the one he was on when he first met Maggie. As it moved across the choppy water an eerie fog began to float closer to where he was sitting. Staring into the gloomy fog a sudden lightness began to emerge.  Quickly, the light intensified, until finally, a bright light burst through causing the darkness to melt away. Suddenly Maggie was standing in front of him. She was beautiful, just as he remembered her from when they first met.

“Maggie?” Edward gasped.

“Yes, sweetheart,” she said with an angelic smile.

“How is this possible?”

“I don’t know, but I am here to set your mind to rest, and possibly beat some sense into that thick head of yours. I can’t believe that you are even considering letting Bella go. Damn it, Edward, I sent her to you so you could go on with your life and what do you do, you screw it up,” Maggie growls.

“I don’t know how to deal with the fact that she has your heart,” Edward explained, grasping the hair on his head.

“Edward, is it only  her heart that you love?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No,” he answered.

“Then what is it about Bella, what draws you to her, what do you love about her?”

“Oh Maggie,” he smiles.  “It’s her smile, and the way she is with Elizabeth, the way she chews her bottom lip as she is trying to figure something out, and the way she moves as she dances, the way she says my name,” he whispers then again ran his hand through his hair. “Damn it, I love everything about her. But Mags, I didn’t mean to fall in love. Maggie, please understand, she burst into my world, lighting up the darkness that I had been in since losing you.  At first, I tried not to notice her, but I couldn’t help it.”

“Edward, it’s alright.  Sweetheart, did you think I would want you and Elizabeth to be alone for the rest of your lives?  Bella feels the same way about you, you know,” Maggie smirked. “She is a perfect match for you and her love for Elizabeth is beyond measure.  Elizabeth deserves a mother, Edward. It’s time.”

“But,” Edward started.

“NO MORE BUTS!!!!” Maggie yelled. “Edward, I know you will always love me, however, it is time to give your whole heart to Bella.  Not many people get second chances, Edward. Are you going to throw that away because of some notion you have that she has my heart?  She possesses the organ, Edward, but the love she feels for you and Elizabeth is hers.”

Tears formed in his eyes. “I do still love you so much, Maggie.  But you are right. I can’t throw away the chance I have been given for Elizabeth and me to be loved again.  I promise you, I will stop being so thick-headed.”

“Great,” she said as she looked over her shoulder. “It is time for me to leave.”

“Will, I ever see you again?” Edward asked.

“I will never be far and know that I am always looking out for you and Elizabeth. Give her a kiss and a hug for me, my love,” Maggie said as she blew him a kiss and disappeared.

Edward awoke sometime later feeling better than he had in a long time. Had it only been a dream or had Maggie really come to him? Either way, he knew in both his head and heart that he loved all of Bella. Fuck, he had been such a fool. Getting up he looked outside and saw that the sun was starting to set. It was his favorite time of the day here. 

Walking out the back door, he walked down the dock and stared out across the water. Taking a deep breath, he allowed the sight before him to infuse into every cell of his body.

*****IAH****

Bella finally arrived in Cape Charles. After she had left Carlisle and Esme’s house, she ran home and changed into a sundress and sandals. Esme had warned her how hot it was in Cape Charles. Before leaving, she picked up her pill bottles, just in case it went the way she hoped and prayed it would. She contemplated and rehearsed her reasonings the entire trip.  She just needed to get Edward to see that although she had Maggie’s heart, it was her love she was offering.

GPS directed her to the house and she parked in the driveway beside Edward’s car. Taking a deep cleansing breath, she got out of the car and looked around. The house was absolutely the most stunning home she had ever seen. It looked like it had been dropped out of a history book. Then she smelled it, the salty brine of the ocean and she smiled. Glancing around she noticed that the ocean was behind the house and she didn’t know what pulled her towards it, but she felt the need to go behind the house.

Walking around the corner of the house she saw that the sun was setting. The warm glow of orange and red danced across the water. It was mesmerizing. Then she saw movement to her right, as she turned her head, she saw Edward. He was standing at the end of the dock. Saying a small prayer that she would be able to stay strong and fight for the love she felt for him, she started towards the dock.

Crossing the backyard, she continued walking until she reached the dock, walking towards Edward. He still had not turned around and she was able to walk right up to him. Steeling her nerves for a moment, she reached out and touched his bare forearm. 

Edward felt a touch on his arm and turned, clearly shocked to see Bella standing there with him; or was he imagining her. “Bella?”

“Yes,” she answered.

“Is it really you or am I dreaming again?”

“No dream, it’s me in the flesh and I need to say something to you,” she started.

“Bella, I,” Edward began but was cut off by Bella.

“Keep quiet and listen to me until I am finished, please.” She paused to take a breath before continuing, “I didn’t know who my donor was and now I know that it was Maggie, but for me, that didn’t change anything. I am still the woman that I was yesterday and the day before. Last night when we made love, it was me, all of me and not just a heart. When I told you I loved you, I meant it. I know that you loved Maggie, but as horrible as it might be, she is no longer alive, and damn it, Edward, I am.” Bella fumed, but she wasn’t finished yet. “But I not only love you, I love Elizabeth as if she were my own child. Should I have told you about the surgery sooner, yeah looking back I should have. But I didn’t know how you would take it that I could possibly never be able to have a baby. For so long I cried over this fact, but now I am fine with it because Elizabeth is in my life.”

“But,” Edward interrupted.

“NO MORE BUTS!!!” Bella yelled, however, instead of shock on Edward’s face she saw him smile.

“What are you smiling about?” She growled. “I am trying to fight for us and you think it is funny.”

Edward reached out and pulled her into his arms. “That is the second time today I have heard, no more buts. Bella, I was so wrong to run out on you. I overreacted and I am so sorry that I hurt you. I needed some time to work out the information, but with the help of a dream I had, I know what I want.”

Bella pulled back and looked up into his sparkling green eyes. “What is that?”

“I want you. I love your soul, I love your laughter, I love the way you dance, I love how you love Elizabeth, and I love YOUR heart. It is yours, all yours,” Edward proclaimed.

“Oh Edward, I love you too, so much,” Bella replied.

Edward leaned down and sealed their confessions with a kiss that was filled with their love. Finally breaking away, he looked down into her eyes. “When I first met you, you had me In a Heartbeat and you still make my heart Skip a Beat.”

Skip a Beat

Book Two: Heartbeat Series

Coming Soon

In a Heartbeat ~ Chapter Thirteen

Edward’s mind was racing as he got in the car. Bella received her heart the same day that Maggie donated hers. What were the odds? Slight for sure, but somewhere deep inside, there was something about her that was familiar. Looking at the time, he knew it was too early to wake his father, and he needed time to calm down. Scanning the area, he was shocked to see he was close to the park where he had taken Bella and Elizabeth. How strange is that? He thought. 

Parking the car, he walked to the water’s edge and sat on one of the benches. Leaning over, placing his elbows on his knees, he allowed the tears to fall. Letting the rippling sounds of the water ease his confused mind and over-sensitive feelings. Why had Bella not told him that she was a heart transplant recipient? Fuck, he was a damn cardiothoracic surgeon for pete’s sake. She knew that! It wasn’t like he would think or feel differently about her because of it. Then he wondered what caused her to need a transplant and how had his dad become her doctor. 

His mind then went back to the day that Maggie died, and Elizabeth was born. Remembering that his mother told him that his father wanted to come, but he had a patient who needed him. Had that been Bella? How sick had she become before she received her transplant? Was that the reason why she was no longer dancing professionally?

Not realizing how long he had sat there, he noticed the sun began to rise over the water. It was so beautiful, and his first thought was that he wished that Bella could be here with him to see it. However, he didn’t know where the relationship was headed, especially if she had Maggie’s heart. 

“Maggie, I need your help?” He cried out to the rising sun. “Is it your heart in Bella, and if so, how can I live with that knowledge?” 

Realizing he needed to talk to his father, he stood and walked to his car. When he started the car, his hands free option notified him that he had three missed calls and two unread texts from Bella. Shaking his head, he couldn’t listen to her voice or read the text. Not now, and he didn’t know when.

The streets were beginning to fill with the early morning commuters, but he was able to get to his parent’s house quickly. After he parked in the driveway, he used his key and walked in the back door, knowing by this time of the morning, his father would be in the kitchen with a cup of coffee and the newspaper.

 As soon as Edward walked in the room, Carlisle raised eyes and smiled, however as soon as he got a better look at his son, he knew something was horribly wrong. He had not seen a look like that since the day they were at the funeral home. Jumping to his feet. “What is wrong?”

“Whose heart did you give Bella?” Edward asked as he gripped the top of one of the chairs. He needed something to help him from collapsing on the floor.

Carlisle thought for a moment. “I never looked, to be honest. Edward, she was on death’s door when we received the news that a heart had been located for her.”

“Dad, is there any possible way that it could be Maggie’s?” Edward asked.

Carlisle’s mouth fell open. He had never thought about it, but there was a very slim possibility. “Maybe, but it would be like a one in a million chance.”

“Dad, I need to know,” Edward cried. 

“Okay, let me dress, and we will check. But has something happened to Bella?”

Edward raked his fingers through his messy hair. “I didn’t know she had had a heart transplant, and when I found out that it was performed on the day of Maggie’s death, I couldn’t think of anything but that it was hers.”

Carlisle laid his hand on Edward’s arm. “Bella never asked about the donor, and I never told her. I know she has been worried about telling you because there is a chance that she can’t have children.”

“That is no reason to keep something like this from me,” Edward growled. “I don’t give a damn about that as long as she is healthy.”

“Give me a few minutes,” Carlisle said as he rushed out of the room. Five minutes later, he came back in dressed with his office keys. Even though he wasn’t practicing on a daily basis, he was still a partner of the practice. 

They walked out of the house and Edward rushed to the driver’s side of his car. The ride to the office was quiet and full of tension. Edward’s mind was all over the place. Suddenly, his phone went off again.

Bella Swan is calling you, would you like to answer? The voice through the car asked.

“No,” Edward said.

“Edward, what are you doing? You can’t just shut her out,” Carlisle implored.

“I’m not, I just don’t know what to say. Dad, if it is Maggie’s heart, I wouldn’t know if I was in love with Bella or Maggie’s heart,” Edward explained.

“It is Bella’s heart. It is part of her,” Carlisle urged.

Edward didn’t respond to his father. Ten minutes later, they pulled into the parking lot of the hospital. Edward walked quickly, and Carlisle had to almost run to keep up with him. He finally caught up with him at the office door. Unlocking it, they went inside and to the back where the office files were kept. Searching down the cabinet until he found Bella’s thick file. Edward looked at it and gasped.

“Is that all her file?” Edward questioned.

“Yes. She collapsed on stage during a performance, luckily I was in the audience that night. As I told you, she only had days to live before her new heart was found. I really thought she was going to die,” Carlisle shared. Taking the file to the desk, he opened it up and began looking for the donor information paperwork. Finally finding it, Carlisle read it, and his heart dropped. Maggie was the donor. Taking a deep breath, he handed the file, turned to the donor information page, to Edward. He didn’t think he could find his voice at the moment.

Edward closed his eyes for a moment and said a silent prayer that it wasn’t Maggie’s heart. He, Bella, and Elizabeth could go on with life together. Opening his eyes, he looked on the paper, and as soon as he read the name, his knees collapsed. “NO!” He wailed. “No, no, no, it can’t be.”

Carlisle got down and wrapped his arm around Edward. “I’m sorry, Son, however, it doesn’t change the fact that it is all Bella that you love.”

Wiping his eyes. “How can you say that? She has Maggie’s heart.”

“Edward, think rationally. It is just an organ, a piece of skin, muscle, and blood.”

“FUCK IT IS! IT WAS MAGGIE’S!” Edward screamed as he pushed off Carlisle’s arm. Getting to his feet, he ran from the office. He needed to get away; he couldn’t breathe in here. He heard his father call out to him, but he didn’t stop until he got to the car. Starting it up, he gunned the engine and peeled out of the parking lot. He needed space to think, and there was only one place he could think of. As he hit the interstate, he remembered he needed to take care of Elizabeth. He decided he would send a text because he would not be able to explain everything.

Mom, I can’t explain, but I need you to watch Elizabeth until I get back. Edward

A few minutes later, she responded to the text.

Of course, but what is happening. Your father just called to say you ran out of the hospital, leaving him to catch a cab home. Whatever it is, we can work through this as a family. Mom

Edward didn’t respond; instead, he turned off his phone. He needed time.

******IAH******

Bella had gotten off the floor. She knew that this was going to happen. Calling and texting Edward several times, and he never responded. It was over. The dream she had been living where she, Edward, and Elizabeth were a family, was over. She loved both of them with all her heart and soul. But Edward didn’t return the feelings. Not wanting to hurt Elizabeth’s delicate feelings, she wondered how she could step away quietly. Maybe it was time to move away from Baltimore. The New York Ballet Company had been after her to come to teach, and this would give her the distance she would need. 

After a long hot shower, she dressed and decided to talk to her parents about her decision. As she was getting ready to walk out the door when her phone rang. Rushing to answer it, thinking it might be Edward, she sighed when it wasn’t.

“Bella, dear, are you okay?” Esme asked worriedly.

“No. Have you seen Edward?”

“No, but dear, can you come over here? There is something we need to talk about,” Esme asked.

“Why? Has something happened to Edward or Elizabeth?”

“They are both fine, but something has come up, and Carlisle would like to talk to you about it face to face,” Esme explained.

“Edward doesn’t want to see me, and I don’t think it is a good idea to be anywhere he might walk in,” Bella murmured, hoping her voice didn’t deceive her. 

Esme didn’t know what to say. What was going on with the two of them? She had never heard Bella sound so heartbroken, even when she was about to die. “Bella, dear, I can assure you that Edward won’t interrupt our conversation. Please just come over.”

“But what about Elizabeth? I don’t think Edward would want me to be around her at this point,” Bella said as her heart broke a little more muttering the words.

“Bella, you would crush Elizabeth if you just stopped seeing her. She loves you dearly,” Esme explained.

Bella thought for a moment and finally agreed. She needed to find out why Carlisle needed to see her and possibly say her goodbyes to Elizabeth. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she walked out of her house and got in her car. She drove in silence, not wanting to listen to the radio, just revisiting her memories of her time with Edward. That is all she will have of him from now on. Arriving at Esme and Carlisle’s home, she tried to fix her face in the mirror before going in. Giving up because there was no way she hid her red swollen eyes, she collected her purse and walked up the door. As soon as she rang the bell, Esme opened the door and pulled her into a warm, comforting hug. 

“Oh, Bella,” Esme cried. “It will all work out.”

“I don’t think so,” Bella whispered, willing herself not to break down. 

Esme pulled back and looked into Bella’s hauntingly sad eyes. She could see the pain and heartbreak in them. “Don’t give up on him, please.” Taking Bella’s hand, she led her into the house and into the den. “Elizabeth is playing next door with a friend. She doesn’t know you were coming over.”

Bella felt better, knowing that she wouldn’t be seeing Elizabeth right away. She looked around and found Carlisle standing in the middle of the room, looking uncharacteristic disheveled. He smiled, but she could tell it was forced. “What is wrong?” She asked.

“Bella, have a seat, please,” Carlisle instructed. Once she sat down on the couch, he came over and sat down beside her. Taking her hand, he took in a deep breath. “When I found out that a donor had been found for you, I was too overwhelmed. Edward’s wife had just died, and I needed to get my mind straight to do your delicate surgery. Afterward, once you were out of danger, I left to go to New York. I never once looked to see who your donor was, and I am guessing you never asked,” Carlisle explained.

“No, I didn’t. I figure it was hard on a family to have to say goodbye to their loved one and didn’t want to be reminded of it by the person who was living because of them. I know that is strange, but that is how I would feel. I am so grateful for the donation, and daily, I thank them,” Bella said.

“There is no easy way to say this, so I am just going to come right out and do it. This morning I looked at your file to find your donor name, and it was Maggie Cullen,” Carlisle stated. He waited and watched for Bella to respond.

Bella closed her eyes and shook her head. This had to be a nightmare. The person who had saved her was Edward’s wife, Elizabeth’s mother, the one woman who Edward loved with all his heart. Standing up, she began to pace the room, trying to make sense of the fact that she had Maggie’s heart. Then it hit her. “Does Edward know?”

“Yes. He was the one who came to me and asked. He figured it out when he found out that you had a heart transplant, and the date was the same as Maggie’s death,” Carlisle responded.

“So, that was the reason he walked out this morning?” Bella asked.

“Yes. Bella, Edward, is very confused at the moment. We know that he loves you, it is very evident, but this is a huge shock,” Carlisle said.

“I never met this person, hell, I don’t know even know what Maggie looked like,” Bella groaned.

Esme got up, open a drawer, and pulled out a frame. Walking over to Bella, she handed it to her. “This was Maggie.”

Bella looked at the woman in the picture and gasped. This couldn’t be. This was the woman who had come to her in her dreams right before she woke up from her surgery.  She remembers what the woman had told her. Take care of them, love them with all your soul, and with all the heart that I am giving you. How could that be, but somehow Bella knew that it was, in fact, Maggie’s spirit. At that moment, she knew she had to fight for their love. Maggie wanted her to take care of Edward and Elizabeth, to love them with all her heart and soul, and damn it, she was going to do it.

“Where is Edward?” Bella asked with a determined look on her face.

Esme had been thinking about the answer to that question since she had gotten the text message from him. Then it hit her. “He has to be at Cape Charles.”

“Give me the address, because I am going after him,” Bella declared.

In a Heartbeat ~ Chapter Twelve

Edward spread a blanket on the ground under a large oak tree. Sitting down they looked over the park and just soaked in the ambiance of the view. Since it was a beautiful day, the park was full of families and friends enjoying the weather. 

“Bella would you push me on the swing, please?” Elizabeth asked eyeing the large swing set. 

“Of course,” Bella answered with a genuine smile, then looked at Edward. “Are you coming with us?”

“No, I am going to stay here and protect the basket from the ants,” he joked.

Bella stood, offering her hand to Elizabeth who took it as she led her small charge towards the swings. Edward couldn’t tear his eyes away from them. Elizabeth was chatting away and Bella was intently listening to her. Once they got to the swings, Bella bent down, picked up Elizabeth and placed her on the seat. She walked behind her and carefully began to push. He couldn’t hear Elizabeth, but he could see the joy on her face. As he looked at Bella, she had a similar expression. They appeared perfect together, just like they were meant to be. After a while, Bella slowed Elizabeth down and when she finally came to a stop, she assisted her off. Elizabeth took off running towards him, with Bella jogging behind her. Their ponytails swishing with each step. 

“DADDY!” Elizabeth yelled as she got closer. “Did you see how high I went?”

Edward opened his arms and she jumped in. “I did. I bet you could almost touch the sun.”

“Uh-huh. Bella is the most bestest pusher,” Elizabeth gushed. 

Bella sat down and rubbed her hand down Elizabeth back. She was the most delightful child. In all her dreams, if she could have had a child, it would have been just like her. 

“Are you hungry, Ladybug?” Edward asked.

“YES!” Elizabeth bubbled.

Bella moved over and helped Edward retrieve the food and plates from the basket. Taking one of the plates, she placed one of the sandwiches on it, then cut it in half diagonally. Putting some pasta salad and strawberries on the plate, she placed it in front of Elizabeth. Bella then poured Elizabeth’s juice in a cup with a lid, handing it to her. 

Edward watched in awe on how Bella was taking care of Elizabeth. Even going as far as to cut her sandwich into halves. She was a natural mother, there was no doubt and he allowed his mind to wander, with her holding their child in her arms. It would look like her with dark mahogany hair and brown eyes with little flakes of gold.

“Edward, are you okay?” Bella asked.

“I couldn’t be better, sweetheart,” he said leaning over placing a kiss on her cheek.

“Ohdaddekissyou,” Elizabeth murmured her mouth full of food.

“Elizabeth, sweetie, it is not ladylike to talk with food in your mouth,” Bella instructed.

Elizabeth chewed and chewed, then when her mouth was empty, she said. “Sorry, Miss Bella.”

Bella moved over and placed her arm around her. “It is okay, sweetie and please call me Bella when we are out of dance studio.”

“Really? I would like that,” Elizabeth exclaimed.

After lunch, Edward took the basket back to the car and they took a walk around the park hand in hand. Many people stopped and complimented on how lovely they were. More than once, Bella had been told that Elizabeth looked just like her and she must be a very proud mother. Each time Bella thanked each person for their wonderful comment, but not once did she deny that Elizabeth wasn’t her child. It was just one more thing that he loved about her. He wasn’t going to deny it, he was in love with Bella Swan and soon he would ask her to join his family as the missing pieces, a wife and a mother.

****************IAH******************

Over the next two weeks, Edward and Bella spent every available moment together. Bella and Elizabeth had gone to a ballet performance, in which Elizabeth requested that they would dress in similar outfits. Several of Bella’s friends that she hadn’t seen in years were shocked that they didn’t know that she had had a child. She might not have given birth to Elizabeth but she thought of her as her own. 

Elizabeth was getting excited about her upcoming birthday. It was a joyous day, the day of her birth, but it was hard to forget that it was also the day of Maggie’s death. Edward and his parents were planning a party for her. She had invited all her new friends from the dance studio. Elizabeth wanted a ballerina theme party and Esme was making it happen with help from Bella, Rose, and Alice.

 Normally Bella’s parents would be planning a grand party for her rebirth, however, she had gone to them after she realized that she was in love with both Edward and Elizabeth, asking them not to plan anything. They had been thrilled that she had found someone to love.

“What did he say when you told him about your surgery and the chance that you wouldn’t have children?” Renee asked.

“I haven’t told him yet, but he is coming over tonight for dinner and I plan to tell him everything,” Bella admitted then sighed deeply. “I just hope it doesn’t change our relationship.”

“Has he told you that he loves you?” Renee questioned.

“No, but he calls me his love and Mom I can see it in his eyes,” Bella cried.

“He is a good man and I know that if anyone should understand, he of all people would understand about your surgery and possible limitations,” Renee said.

“I truly hope so,” Bella whispered.

*************IAH********

Edward was nervously excited about the dinner tonight. He was going to tell Bella that he loved her. Many times over the last two weeks he almost said it, but it seemed like every time he was about to say something, someone would interrupt them. Elizabeth had told him that she really loved Bella and that she would make a great mommy. This just solidified within his heart that Bella was perfect for them. He was dressed in a pair of dress pants and a blue button-down shirt. Elizabeth was spending the night with his parents because he didn’t want to worry about getting home early.

He arrived at her house with a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. Using his pinky finger, he pushed her doorbell. A few moments later Bella answered the door. She looked like an angel in a flowy white dress, her wavy hair was down across her delicate shoulders, and when he looked down she was barefoot.

“Edward,” she sighed.

Edward leaned in and brushed his lips across hers. Pulling back he handed her the flowers and held up the wine. 

“Oh, Edward you didn’t need to bring me flowers. My house is looking like a floral shop as it is,” she giggled.

“I saw them and thought of you, my sweet. And I thought we could have the wine with dinner,” he said.

They walked in and he followed her into the kitchen. She had given him and Elizabeth the grand tour one day. He loved all the homey touches of the place and when he saw the king-size canopy bed in her bedroom he almost lost it. Thoughts of them making love in that bed remained with him all hours of the day or night. 

“How was your day?” Bella asked as she stirred whatever it was in the pot. 

“Busy. And you?” 

“Nuts. But I hired two new instructors so hopefully, this will free me up,” she wheezed. “Hey, tonight is about us. Why don’t you open that bottle of wine? Dinner is ready.”

“Your wish is my command,” he joked. 

Once the wine was opened and poured, Bella finished bringing dinner to the table. She had made her favorite chicken marsala, almond green beans, and rolls. A homemade cheesecake was in the fridge for dessert. 

 As they ate, the conversation between the two of them flowed. Edward helped her clear the table once they were finished. He went back to the dining room to get a bowl and returned to the kitchen to find Bella bent down putting dishes in the dishwasher. The sight made him breathless. Putting the bowl down on the table he stepped in behind her, so when she stood and turned, she was right up against his chest. Taking his hand he ran it down her from her shoulder down her arm. 

“Bella,” he murmured. “I have been trying for a while now to tell you something.”

“What?” She whispered her breath heavy.

“I never thought I would love another person again in my life. However, you twirled into my life and heart. You have repaired my fractured heart and for the first time in a long time, I am genuinely happy,” he declared. Cupping her face in his hands and looking deep into her gorgeous eyes. “Bella Swan, I love you.”

Bella’s eyes teared up and a small whimper escaped her mouth. “Oh Edward, I love you too, so much.”

Edward leaned down and captured her soft lips into a kiss of promise and love. He wrapped his arms around her, as she wrapped her willowy arms around his neck, sealing their declarations with a kiss. When they were both out of breath they pulled apart, gazing into each others lust-filled eyes. “Bella,” he breathed.

“Make me yours,” Bella begged.

Edward looked at her trying to find any speck of doubt, but the only thing he saw was love for him. Picking her up, he carried her to the bedroom. The room was lit in the soft glow of a lamp that was beside the large bed. Placing her down on her feet he once again began kissing her. 

They slowly removed each other’s clothes, laying in the middle of her bed, exploring each other’s bodies. Edward wanted to memorize each inch of her beautiful body. As he kissed down her delicate neck to her perfect breasts he stopped. There was a scar that ran the length of her breastbone. What had happened? Was she okay? “Bella?” He asked.

“I am fine, now. I promise,” she advised. “Please make love to me.”

Edward wanted to know what had happened but they had forever to learn everything about each other. He placed tender soft kisses down the scar. Cupping one breast softly as his tongue lavished her tight pink nipple. She tasted like heaven.

“Please stop the torture,” she cried.

Edward ran his finger along her jaw as he looked into the deep dark pools of her eyes; so full of want and need. Lining himself to enter her wet folds, he slowly entered her allowing her to adjust to the penetration. “God you are so tight and wet,” he groaned. “Are you okay?”

“I have never been better,” Bella moaned.

They naturally began a steady rhythm to this age-old dance. Edward continue to lavish her breasts as he picked his movements, responding to the sounds and movements Bella was making.  It was not long before Edward felt her orgasm, causing his to quickly follow. Not wanting to lose the connection just yet, he remained inside her while he caught his breath. “I love you so much, Bella.”

“I love you with all my heart,” Bella wept. 

Finally pulling away from her, he rolled to her side, pulling her with him. Her head laid on his chest as he rubbed his finger up and down her spine. That is how they fell asleep, wrapped in each other’s arms.

Around four in the morning Bella awoke with a start, realizing that she had forgotten to her meds. Easing out of Edward’s arms she got out of bed, slipping on her robe, and made her way to the kitchen. She couldn’t help but smile as she took her bottles from the cabinet. She never experienced such a deep connection during sex before. Popping the pills in her mouth she washed them down with water. Smiling as she recalled each second of their time together.

Edward awoke and felt for Bella, but the bed was empty. He waited for a few minutes to see if she might be in the bathroom, however, when she didn’t return, he got up and slipped on his underwear and pants, to go find her. There was a light on in the kitchen, so he walked towards it. Bella was standing next to the island with a smile and dreamy look on her face. Quietly walking over, he noticed the pill bottles on the counter. She had not moved so he stepped up beside her and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. 

“Edward,” she squealed. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I woke up alone. What are you doing up at this hour?” He asked.

“I forgot something,” Bella stammered as she glanced down at her bottles.

Edward looked down and picked up the bottle. Reading the script, he knew right away what it was for. “You had a transplant?”

“Yes,” Bella whispered. “I was going to tell you, but it was never the right time.”

“I’m not mad, just a little upset that I didn’t know. Are you doing okay?”

“Oh, yes, I am doing great,” Bella confirmed.

Edward smiled then saw the calendar on the refrigerator with a date marked with rebirth. It was the same day as Elizabeth’s birthday. “Rebirth day, what is that?”

“Oh, it was the day I got my heart,” Bella answered. “I know it is the same day as Elizabeth’s birthday. I think it is wonderful that she and my life with my new heart are the same age.”

Edward’s heart stopped. He looked at Bella, back the calendar, then back to Bella. There was no way this could be true, none. Grabbing the counter he had to ask. “Bella who did your surgery and do you know your donor’s name?”

“Oh, Edward, I never asked who my donor was, but I thought you knew that Carlisle did the surgery,” Bella answered, but as she looked at his face she knew something was wrong.

Edward needed to know the answer and he needed to know it now. He rushed back to the bedroom, grabbing his shirt and shoes and ran towards the door.

“Edward, what is wrong?” Bella cried, trying to figure out what had happened.

Edward turned with tears in his eyes. “Bella, I’m sorry.” He opened the door and left.

Bella fell to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably Edward knew she was damaged goods and he didn’t want her.