Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CBWR? Chapter 60

Author’s notes:
Chapter 60???   Can you believe that??
A great big giant shout out to Fourchette, who has been doing all the blog changes you have seen!  It is awesome, and I am graphically challenged, so there is no way I could do it on my own!
I am seriously behind in reviews, emails, PMs, etc.  Sorry about that.  I’m playing attention, really!  But I probably won’t be able to respond to very many of them before the weekend.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing. 

Chapter 60:
“Considering which end of the gun is pointing at you, I think your name is a little more important here.”  I sounded calm, even to myself, but inside I was a freaking wreck.  I had no idea who this guy was.  His voice wasn’t familiar, and I couldn’t see him in the dim light well enough to determine if I knew his face.  Normally, I might not have cared that much – I would have either shot him or taken the chance, solely dependent on my mood – but I couldn’t do that now.  Bella was inside, and if anything happened to me, she’d be on her own.
“My name is Lee Stephens,” he told me.  “I know you probably don’t know me, but we have a mutual friend.  Aro Volturi?  Well, I guess he’s an ex-friend.”
He laughed nervously.
“Um…seriously,” he continued.  “I was trying to work out a deal with you, through him, when he…well…”
His feet shuffled a little on the gravel drive.  I took a half step forward and touched the back of his neck with the barrel.  He went still.
“I just want to talk business, I swear.”
“You want to explain why you showed up here, to talk whatever business you want to talk about at this time of night?”
“I wasn’t really planning on talking to you tonight,” he said.  “I heard you were in the area, and thought I’d take a chance on finding you.  You know…to maybe talk about finishing the deal with you directly?  I should have been here hours ago, but I got lost and drove around forever.  I wasn’t even sure I had the right place, but when I saw a light on…”
His nervous laugh resurfaced.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing.  The thing that sucks about it is that you can’t use it before hand.
There were probably a dozen little alarms going off in my head.  I didn’t know why I didn’t pay them any heed.  Bella was far too distracting, and I really did seem to have a hard time thinking straight when every other thought was about her, even with my gun up to some idiot who practically snuck up on me in the middle of the night.  A thousand thoughts about her safety were going through my head – killing him would require either a cleanup crew of a big-ass hole in the ground, which I did not want to dig.  I didn’t want him to even see Bella, because even knowing I was here with someone could be a threat.  At the same time, someone probably knew he was here, so killing him wasn’t the best idea, either.  He could even have a collection of thugs on the other side of the hill.
If he was really just here for a quick deal…well…it would be a lot more suspicious for me not to talk to him than it would be for me to talk to him.  Besides, if I talked to him for a while I might get an idea of he was legit or not.  If he was, I could make nice with him, talk a little business and send him on his way.  If things got a little dicey…well, I’d deal with that as it comes along.
“I can leave…come back in the morning…”
There was sweat collecting on the back of his neck, so at least I knew he was genuinely worried.  I dropped the gun slightly, but still kept it aimed at him.
“Back of the house,” I said.  I followed behind him as we walked around the corner to the back patio.  I reached over and shut the door, not wanting Bella to wake up or be seen.  I motioned with the gun for him to sit in one of the chairs, and I sat next to him and finally got a good look.  He was a tall guy, kind of burly and maybe about twenty-five.  He kind of looked like one of those suburban gang members who desperately wanted to be a bad ass, but just couldn’t quite pull it off.
“Who are you again?” I asked.
“Lee Stephens,” he said.  “I’ve been kind of an admirer of yours, I guess you would say.  I’ve done a few deals – small time stuff only, nothing that would interfere with your business or anything.   I was hoping I might be able to start using you as a supplier, to be completely blunt.”
His nervous laugh was starting to annoy the shit out of me.
“And…um…”  His hand wiped the back of his neck.  “I tried to get an appointment with you, and I couldn’t.  So, I went through Aro.”
“Maybe you should still go through Aro.”  I kept my gaze steady and right on him.
“Is that a joke or something?” he asked.
“Am I laughing?”
“Um…no…” he mumbled.  His hand rubbed at his forehead.  “Aro’s who organization got taken over.  No one’s seen him, so I kind of figured he was out, you know?”
“No, I don’t,” I said.  “I’m on vacation.”
“Oh…yeah,” he stumbled over his words.  “Shit, I’m really sorry about that.  I just…wanted to meet you…you know, start up a business relationship?  I know you can get what my clients want, and I’d like to work with you.”
“How did you find this place?”
“Word gets around,” he said with a shrug.
I leveled the H&K with his face.
“Give me a better answer,”  I demanded.  This guy was either stupid or extremely amateur.  Maybe both.
“Shit…Uh…I heard from Harry Clearwater that you had a place around here.  I do some work with his son, Seth.  They said you were out of the country – out of the States, that is – and that you weren’t too far from where I had a warehouse.  I was here anyway, so I took the chance.”
“Not good enough.”  I stood up and took a step towards him.  His hands went in the air.
“I swear!” he cried.  “Shit – really!  I only wanted to meet you!  I tried to work through the Hales and a couple of the Pack guys, and they couldn’t get me an appointment with you!  I just want to buy some guns, I swear!”
I stared at him for a moment, making sure my calm and collected exterior remained and none of my internal thoughts and worries were displayed.  His story was plausible.  I didn’t tend to take appointments for new customers – I had enough business and I was pretty exclusive.  It was entirely possible a small times dealer like this guy obviously was would go through Aro, who would place a larger order for multiple clients.  I slowly lowered myself back into my chair.
His story fit.
But I didn’t like it.
The sliding door moved.
Ah, fuck no.
Bella stepped out, her bare legs sticking out of the short robe she had wrapped around her.
It was entirely possible that this guy – whoever he was – would recognize her for what she was.  Or rather, what she was supposed to be.  If he had done business with Aro in the past, he most certainly knew.  If he realized she was not a slave, he was going to be suspicious.  If he got suspicious, Bella was in danger.
And I really, really didn’t want to dig a giant-ass hole for his body.
Aside from that, there was no telling who knew he had come out here to find me, a group of buddies nearby or not.  Having him just disappear without understanding exactly who he was could be more deadly than killing him now.  If I could convince him we could have a business relationship – which he really seemed interested in having – I could avoid the whole mess, and keep Bella safe.
But only if she understood that she had to play along.
I looked up to her and our eyes met.  I found myself hoping she really could read my mind like she implied earlier, because I needed her to act like the slave she was supposed to be.  There was only one way I could think of, aside from actual telepathy, to cue her in on what I needed her to do.
“I don’t recall giving you permission to leave bed,” I snapped at her.  My eyes narrowed and I glared in her direction as her eyes went wide.  I placed my gun in my lap, pulled out a cigarette, and lit it.  “I thought you were supposed to come trained already.”
She was going to play along, right?

Chapter End Notes:
Oh Bella…can you play nice for Eddie?   Will she be willing, even if she does realize what he’s trying to do, or is she still too pissed off at him to care?
I probably would have cracked my chin open on the keyboard if anyone had actually guessed the name of the guy who came to visit them.  Actually, just knowing that name is some pretty Twi-serious trivia.  No googling!  Do you remember who Lee Stephens is in the books?
More tomorrow!

CBWR? Chapter 59

Author’s notes:
I do have a little more info on the updates.  Basically, if I’m reading everything right, you’ll get one email update per day, regardless s of how many updates I do.  I set it to send out between 7-9:00pm Eastern US time (GMT – 5).  At this point, that’s all I got.  I tried another setting that *might* send you additional ones, but I won’t know until I post this.  Ha!
And now…on to the evilness!
A moment later, blinding headlights from a car coming up the drive burned into my retinas.

Chapter 59:
I dropped down in the plastic seat on the porch and reached out to the ground where my pack of cigarettes and lighter lay next to the brick wall.  I glanced at my watch to verify it was two minutes after midnight before I lit one and brought it to my lips.  I let the smoke into my lungs, and then blew it back out again with a big sigh.
I’d obviously fucked up again, big time.
What else was new?
I put my hand over my face and closed my eyes, thinking back to what had transpired just a couple of hours ago, and what the hell I could have done differently to make it any better.  Not surprisingly, I didn’t know what else I should have done.  If I had rejected her outright, we’d probably still be in this same situation right now.  If I had taken her to bed…
Fuck, what if I had?
I’d probably be laying there right now, with Bella in my arms, in the most intense post-coital bliss imaginable, that’s what.
I flipped the cigarette into my left hand and took another puff.  In the darkness, I could just barely see the glint off the gold band around my third finger. 
What the fuck did that mean, anyway?
I never thought I would be married, even under the circumstances that had necessitated this farce of a marriage.  As soon as Bella was safe she would go home to her parents and we’d get it all annulled or whatever.  I didn’t really even know what the whole institution of marriage was supposed to mean.  I was never going to have kids – no way in hell.  I wasn’t about to bring some kid into my fucked up life.  No one deserved that.
Bella was just a kid, really.  I’d brought her into my life, and look where that got her?  She was trying to seduce the asshole who bought her for sex, and I probably would have let her if she had just asked one more time.  If it had been anyone else in the world, I probably would have just rolled her over and fucked her on the couch.  Then I would have gotten up and left.  Maybe I would have called her again later.
Probably not.
She hadn’t even finished high school.
I wondered again why that was.
I leaned back in the chair a bit, and my fingers rubbed deep into my eyes, like maybe if I shoved my fingers into my eye sockets hard enough I’d stop thinking about all of this.  Thinking about it didn’t seem to help any, and it just left me feeling confused, stupid and useless.  My hand dropped, and I looked up into the clear fall sky.  All the stars were out, and this remote location had almost no light pollution at all, so I could see every point of light clearly.  As I stared, little flecks of light shot across the sky – tiny specks of dust blazing into a big fiery ball as it hit the atmosphere.
A moment later, blinding headlights from a car coming up the drive burned into my retinas.
The cigarette forgotten, I pulled open the patio door, grabbed the H&K and checked the clip before trying to shove it into the elastic waistband of the lounge pants, which of course didn’t work. 
Shit.  Shit.  Shit.  
I pulled my jacket out of the closet, slipped the gun into the pocket, and went back out the patio door, leaving it open as I went and silently cursing myself for being so unprepared.  A couple months of non-violence and I had already lost my touch.
The car was pulling up alongside the rental we’d brought from Heidelberg.  I watched from around the corner as the engine turned off, the dome light went on, and the driver’s side door opened.  There didn’t appear to be anyone else in the car, just a single guy who pushed himself out of the car and looked towards the house.  The light was still on in the kitchen, and he cocked his head to one side to peer in.
I moved around the edge of the house, coming up silently behind him as he walked towards the door.  I lifted the gun up and aimed at the back of his neck.
“Don’t move,” I told him.  His steps halted, but he had enough sense to not turn around.  “Put your hands up on your head and tell me who the fuck you are and what the fuck you are doing here.”
He moved slowly, holding his hands out to the side as he brought them up over his head and laced his fingers together on the top.  I couldn’t see his face, and could only tell he was a tall guy and pretty big in general.   He took a long breath, held it a second, and then breathed back out.  My fingers tensed on the trigger. 
“Edward Cullen, I presume?”
Him knowing my name wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, right?

Chapter end notes:
Ohh…yeah…evil cliffie.  Who do youthink this guy is?
He waited until past midnight to smoke!  Good Doofus!
I’ll try to update again this evening.