PIC TEASE Hard to Love Chapter 8
In Pursuit Chap 10:
“Cullen,” I bit out.
“Well, aren’t you a ray of sunshine this morning?”
“What, Al?” I sighed, having no patience for his cryptic bullshit.
He laughed at me. “I figured you’re missing your Oprah network. So I was letting you know the cable guy will be out Friday around noon.”
I grimaced at how far away that was, most of a week, ignoring his jibe at me, but said, “Fine. He’s been checked out, I assume?”
“Most definitely. He’s the only guy in the area, so you’ll just have to deal with his schedule. Welcome back to Forks, kid. Where the cable guy doubles as a local firefighter and the dog catcher or some shit, too.”
I snorted. “Right, right…got it. I’ll watch out for him. Is that all?”
Al was quiet for a second, but then asked, “You all right, son? Everything okay out there?”
“Everything’s…fine, Uncle Al,” I sighed, sitting down on the edge of the bed. “No problems. We’re all just…perfect,” I spat.
“Jasper’s okay? The girls?”
“We’re fine, Al. Promise. Everyone’s safe; everyone’s following the rules.”
“Good,” he said, probably not convinced from the tone of my voice, but he let it go. “Call me if you need anything, son. And I mean that.”
“Will do,” I stated and ended the phone call once he’d said goodbye.
TEASER… In Pursuit Chap 7… @JenRar
I couldn’t fucking sleep. The house was silent as I wandered slowly and quietly down the hallway. Though, it wasn’t as silent as Bella had been the last week and a half. That shit was not only quiet, but uncomfortable and hateful. She’d leave whatever room I entered, only talk to Jasper and Alice, and sink herself into whatever book she was reading or TV show she was watching, ignoring the fact that I existed.
It was my fault, but I couldn’t risk her making the kind of mistakes that she had with the neighbor. However, in the loss of my temper, I’d done the one thing I’d been trying to avoid all along – I’d left her alone. And it wasn’t like she had much interaction with her sister. Alice had pretty much turned completely to Jasper for everything – comfort, entertainment, safety.
As usual, I carefully opened the door to the girls’ room, making sure all was okay. Bella slept tangled up in the sheets, her brow furrowed even in her sleep. My eyes narrowed on the other side of the bed. It was empty.
I closed the door, turning to make my way down to the living room, but smirked when Jasper’s bedroom door cracked open and the tiny, raven-haired thing tiptoed out into the hall. Leaning against the wall, I folded my arms across my chest, waiting for Alice to turn around.
She gasped in surprise when she realized she was completely busted.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” I taunted, though I was a little pissed off.
Alice shuffled from one foot to the other as I glared at her, not moving from where I stood.
“Edward, I…” she whispered, but I held a hand up.
“Don’t bother. I get it,” I whispered back. “But let me ask you something.” She met my gaze, and I raised an eyebrow at her. “Do you blame your sister for this shit?” I asked, twirling a finger in midair.
“No, of course not,” she gasped, shaking her head.
“Do you know she blames herself?” Alice’s mouth gaped like a dying fish, but I didn’t wait for an answer. “She feels responsible for it all, Alice. She thinks every step that night rests on her shoulders. The murder, the cell phone, the guy at the bar…”
“She told you about Jake?”
“Is that his name?” I snorted, shrugging a shoulder. “Look, I don’t give a shit about him, but I do get the feeling she’s taken care of you your whole life. Maybe it’s time to return that favor… Hmm?” I waited until she nodded. “She hates me, so I’m no help, but you two are family…”
Alice snorted, rolling her eyes. “She doesn’t hate you.”
“Whatever. Just…go to bed. I need to talk to my partner,” I stated, pointing toward the door. “He’s obviously…up,” I said sarcastically, groaning at her smirk.
COMING SOON… Hard to Love…
SUMMARY: I didn’t know how to ask him if I was going to lose the one person that had loved me unconditionally my entire life. Bella Swan had been in every moment of my life since I was seven years old. Eighteen years. She was there for it all, and it wasn’t supposed to end like this. AH/Canon couples EPOV Rated M
TEASER — In Pursuit Chapter 6… @JenRar…
After another pose, I was done, and I said so to Alice. “I’m out. I’m going to go take my shower and get dressed.”
I left her to it and waved to Jasper as I passed him in the kitchen, where he was working on his crossword puzzle, same as he did almost every morning.
The room I was sharing with Alice was at the end of the hall, right across from Edward’s. When I got to my doorway, I heard a noise and turned to see what it was.
Edward was in the middle of exercising, apparently. He was currently doing sit-ups, with his feet hooked under the bed. His back was to me, but there was a large mirror on the other side of the room, so I was able to see his profile. His eyes were closed, so I was able to stand there for a minute and admire the way his muscles flexed and rolled under his skin every time he pulled himself up.
He had discarded his shirt, so it was the first time I’d see his bare back, and the sight of the tattoo stretched across his upper back and shoulders nearly made me weak in the knees. It was some sort of tribal design or something, in green and black, with swirls and angles and knots. I’d seen the angel on his forearm before, of course – when he wore just a T-shirt, it showed. But this was the first time I was able to completely see the second tatt on his upper arm. Most of it was usually covered by his sleeve. In the reflection of the mirror, I saw enough to tell it was the scales of justice with some blade-looking things surrounding it.
Before he could catch me staring, I turned and continued on to my bedroom, grabbing the stuff I needed for my shower. If I was lucky, by the time I came out to the kitchen, no one would be able to tell how much the sight of him had affected me.
TEASER… In Pursuit Chapter 5… @JenRar …
I was so caught up in how I was feeling that it barely registered when Edward came walking through the front door, locking it behind him. I saw him look at me sideways for a moment, and then he took a few steps toward me. I shook my head, not even turning to look at him, before curling further in on myself.
Edward cursed quietly and then walked through the living room. I heard him speaking in low tones to Jasper, and then there was a loud bang, like something had hit the wall. It made me flinch, but I stayed where I was, staring at the smooth surface of the wall opposite me.
A few minutes later, Edward came back into the living room and took a seat across from me on the coffee table, forcing me to either look at him or turn my head away. When my eyes met his, I was surprised at the storm of emotions swirling through them. I could clearly see guilt and sadness, but I also saw a strength and determination.
“I won’t lie to you and tell you this will be easy, Marie. It’s not. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. You’ll have to give up your identity, your job…and yes, your pictures. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do to change that.”
I looked down to my lap, where my fingers were twisting themselves into what felt like knots. “I don’t know if I can do this,” I admitted aloud for the first time.
“Marie…” Edward’s voice was pained.
“I don’t know if I’m strong enough.”
Edward slapped his hands down on the coffee table and stood with a huff. When he spoke again, his growling tone made me flinch like I’d been slapped. “What’s the alternative, then? Huh? Tell me, Marie. Let Caius Volturi go free? You want that on your conscience? Can you live with letting Eleazar Denali’s killer get away with it? The man behind the death of Angela and Ben’s little boy?”
“Don’t throw that at me!” I hissed, my stomach churning. “I see Eleazar in my head every time I close my eyes. The thud of his body as it hits the floor echoes in my nightmares. And the cold eyes of Caius Volturi as he orders the other man, Felix, to get rid of the gun will haunt me to my dying day. So don’t you dare throw that little boy’s murder on top of all that. Don’t. You. Dare!” Fisting my hands at my sides to prevent myself from striking out at him, I growled, “Leave me alone, Mr. Cullen. Just…leave me alone.”
I sank down to the couch, barely hearing Edward as he stalked away.
TEASER: In Pursuit Chapter 4… @JenRar
When I walked in, Angela met me in the hallway. “The girls are going to take the master bedroom.”
“Together?” I asked her. “They don’t have…”
“We’re used to it,” Marie interrupted from the other end of the hall with a large, sleepy yawn. She waved a hand. “You guys…just…”
Nodding, I followed her into the master bedroom without argument, setting their bags on the floor. It didn’t matter to me whether they shared a room. Marie sat on the edge of the bed, looking up at me.
“One of us will be in the living room at all times, okay?” I asked her, and she nodded, tucking her dark hair behind her ears. “And see this?” I walked to the window, flipped the lock, and cracked it. The beep from before echoed from down the hall. “If you hear that, you hide. Stay down, stay low, stay quiet. Those are only on the windows. If you hear that, then someone’s trying to get in.”
She nodded, still gazing bleary-eyed up at me. “Okay,” she whispered, and for the first time, I noticed just how beautiful those dark eyes really were. They weren’t just brown; they had flecks of gold toward the center, and they revealed everything she was feeling all at once – fear, anger, guilt, and weariness.
It was that last thing that made me move. Once I’d locked the window back, I left her to her room, meeting Jasper in the hallway.
“What the hell? You couldn’t grab my shit, too?” he asked with a laugh, lifting his duffel for emphasis.
“Do I look like your fucking mother, Jazz?” I retorted, rolling my eyes at his laugh.
“Nah, you’re prettier,” he snorted, trying to pinch my cheek, but I smacked his hand away. “Mother Whitlock…not so much…”
I shook my head, but for a quick second, I thought I heard a giggle as I walked into the other room across from the master suite. I tossed my bag onto the bed and then went back out into the kitchen where Ben and Angela were waiting. I opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water, downing most of it.
The house was quiet, comfortable, almost like my sister’s. It was clean, with natural wood furniture and calm, easy colors. There was nothing too loud or bright, which I hoped would keep the girls calm while we were there.
“We’re gonna get out of your hair, Edward,” Angela said, walking to me. She grinned, ruffling my hair. “It’s good to see you. You don’t know what it means that you’re here.”
I met her gaze as I leaned against the island counter. “You’d do this for me,” I stated without pause, shrugging a shoulder.
“That’s true,” Ben agreed, reaching out to shake my hand. “But it seems you’re coming to us more than we can return the favor.”
I blew off that last sentence, saying, “If those two can put away Daniel’s killer, then I’ll make sure they get there. Volturi may not have been directly involved, but he damn well paid the asshole that pulled the fucking trigger.”
“I know,” Angela said with a touch of emotion to her voice. She hugged me tightly, then kissed my cheek, only to cup my face in both hands. “They’re brave girls, Edward. Don’t scare the shit out of them.”
IN PURSUIT CHAPTER 3 TEASER: @JenRar #Marshalward
“And people say Seattle is gloomy,” Jasper muttered, giving the damp night a scathing glare as we made our way to the car we’d rented. It was well past two in the morning, New York time.
I grinned, shaking my head and tucking the file folder under my arm. “Whatever. You drive. I still want to look through this file.”
“We had eight hours on that plane. You should have it memorized,” he argued, though he still walked to the driver’s side door.
“I do,” was all I said, tossing my bags into the trunk and falling into the passenger seat.
Jasper merely snickered at me and cranked the car and made his way out of the parking lot. Cracking open the file, I perused it again. Eleazar Denali was working late at his office. He was found with three bullets – two to the pump and one to the head. Typical hit. Marie Brandon, who worked for Denali, had shown up at the wrong time with her sister Mary. According to the girls’ statements, they’d seen not only Caius Volturi, but his right-hand asshole, Felix, walk out, discussing getting rid of the murder weapon.
From what I could put together from all the records from Denali’s office, the man had been fudging numbers for Volturi for years. He’d been laundering money – taking in dirty funds and sending them out into the world to have it all come back squeaky clean. And no one had been the wiser. Not even Ms. Brandon.
I shut the file and slipped it under my seat, turning to Jasper. “We’re going to have serious problems with vengeful goons,” I stated, smirking at his chuckle. “Seriously. Volturi is still in holding until first appearance tomorrow. If his lawyer asks for bail, then he’ll send out everyone he fucking knows to find those girls. Every bastard that’s ever owed him anything will be called in.”
“All true, Ed,” Jasper agreed. “Wonder what the accountant did to set him off?”
“I can’t tell,” I replied, gazing out the window, finally giving in and cracking it so that I could smoke. “Maybe he was skimming for himself off the top.”
“That’d do it.”
In Pursuit Chapter 2 TEASER
A noise from somewhere in the apartment woke me, and I sat up, my heart trying to beat its way out of my chest. Looking at the clock in the darkness, I saw that it was nearly two in the morning. Mary and I had slept until mid-afternoon on Saturday, then spent the rest of the day curled up on the couch, watching mindless movies and sipping cocoa and tea. We had gone to bed again a few hours before, although she was still in my bed, as neither of us felt comfortable enough on our own yet.
The noise sounded again, just a short scratching followed by metal rattling, but it was enough that I could tell it was the screen on the window by the fire escape in the dining area beside the kitchen.
“Fuck!”I hissed, the sound barely audible in the quiet bedroom.
Mary stirred beside me, and I quickly leaned down and put a hand over her mouth.
“Don’t say anything. Someone’s trying to break in. Call Angela,” I breathed before silently climbing over her as she nodded and reached for the bedside table.
On sock-covered feet, I made my way to the closet, thankful I never remembered to close the sliding door, which had a tendency to make noise as I pulled it open. I could hear Mary’s whispered conversation as I reached up to the box on the top shelf of the closet. Grabbing our father’s old nine millimeter, I used the moonlight coming in from the window to check that it was loaded, and then I released the safety, slowly making my way to the side of the bed.
“Get in the closet,” I told my sister, although it was so quiet, I’m not sure she heard me.
When she didn’t move, I pulled on her T-shirt until she was on her feet and then gently pushed her toward the closet. She must have understood because she silently slipped behind the other side of the door, perfectly concealed in the darkness.