A/N… WOW! What a huge welcome back for Mercward and Sweetness! Thank you!

Again, I do urge you to read the first four stories in this series before attempting this one. Just sayin'… ;) I'll let you get to it…


Chapter 2


Sammy may have had my more bookish personality, but he was truly a physical clone of his father. It was so obvious when he walked with Edward across the street to the little barber shop we used in Forks. The two of them walked the same, held their shoulders the same, and pushed their hair from their foreheads the same. Hell, they even smiled at the barber the damn same – all crooked, with a slight tilt to their heads.

Bethy and I sat down at a table in the little park across from them, sharing an ice cream sundae. Abby was with us, sitting down next to Bethy with her own small bowl. The two girls had grown so much. Abby was still the quieter of the two, but they were becoming beautiful girls. They were still very similar like they'd been when they'd met at Mrs. Cope's Pre-K, with their petite figures, big smiles, and long, dark-brown hair. The biggest difference between the two was that Abby had dark-brown, almost black eyes, and Bethy's were green like Edward's.

"So, we're all going to Aunt Kate's?" Abby asked excitedly.

"Yeah, that's what Dad said," Bethy told her, licking her spoon. "Sammy and I are supposed to stay with Gamma and Poppy for a few days first."

Abby grinned. "I love Poppy. He takes us to the best places."

"Do you want to go, Abby?" I asked her with a chuckle. "I think Caleb is going, too. The only one who won't be there is Kaitlyn. She's already with Aunt Kate and Obie in Alaska. They went early."

"What about Aunt Mickey?" Bethy asked, scraping the fudge off the side of the bowl but laughed when I knocked her spoon away.

"She's still here. She was going to work up until we all left," I explained.

"Yeah, I'll go," Abby answered my question with a smile and nod.

"So…" Bethy started, her eyes gleaming with curiosity. "What kinda case are you takin'?"

And there was the part of me in Bethy that came shining through occasionally. It was her mischievous curiosity, her teasing manner, and she was probably way too smart for her own good, but she'd always been in and out of Gravity's office, so she saw cases and how we'd research things. I saw the twelve-year-old me who wanted to work for the FBI, and part of me worried for her about that, but part of me was so damned proud of the person she was growing up to be.

"We're not sure yet. I've got to talk to your dad and Aunt Rose when we get back to the office."

Shadows fell across the table after a few moments of the girls chatting about Seattle and Poppy and Aunt Kate's, not to mention a few soft whispers about the infamous Colin at school. The latter made me smirk. "The boy with the stutter" as Edward deemed him was a handsome boy, truly. And he did indeed still have his stutter, which endeared him to Bethy because of her father's speech impediment, which only showed up occasionally. Though, Bethy outgrew her stutter, so there may have been a touch of sympathy there, too. Again, there was a piece of me that my daughter had inherited from me – the ability to accept people as they were without reservation.

Edward straddled the table bench on my left side, and Sammy took a seat on my right. Both had ice cream cones, and as usual, Edward had an extra scoop I'd be willing to bet didn't cost him a damn dime, because the girl who ran the ice cream shop had been crushing on him way before I came into the picture.

"I see Paula scooped yours," I pointed out, snorting when Edward grinned evilly, now devastatingly handsome with his trimmed haircut. "Shameless, Edward."

"Wanna talk about grocery boy now?"

"No, I don't." I turned to my son, raking my fingers through the shorter locks on top. "Much better, buddy. I can see your eyes again."

Sammy smiled and nodded, focusing on the scoop of chocolate he was annihilating. "Can we go home now? Aunt Alice said she was working on somethin' for me."

Smirking at the fact that Alice spoiled all her "minions" relentlessly, I kissed the side of his head. "When you're finished. How was school?"

He shrugged, but it was Bethy who scoffed, her brow furrowing and her face darkening. "I told you to tell them."

"Leave it alone, Bethy!" he snapped, shaking his head.

"Okay, everyone settle down. Tell us what, little sweetness?" Edward asked, popping the last of his cone into his mouth. How he didn't get an ice cream headache was a miracle. He leaned an elbow on the table, glancing between our kids. "Someone better start talking…"

"It's nothing, Dad!"

Bethy tsked, rolled her eyes, and then pointed to her brother, but her voice was fierce as she answered Edward. "There's a kid at school runnin' around picking on the first and second graders. Lindsey."

"What did she do?" Edward asked and held up his hand to Bethy. "Sammy?"

"Nothin'!" Sammy's answer was quick and embarrassed, but his father's raised eyebrow made him break. He sighed deeply. "She's just dumb."

"As a rock," Bethy muttered wryly, and I had to fight my smile.

"Bethy," Edward warned, though he was fighting his amusement too, and he looked to me for help.

"Sammy? What happened?" I asked him, again raking my fingers through his hair.

"She was picking on Lainey…you know, the girl in my class?" he started softly, and his brow furrowed in anger.

Lainey Lancaster was a really sweet girl in Sammy's class. She walked with a bit of a limp due to a car accident when she was a toddler. She and Sammy got along well, along with another boy in the class, Jonathan Boyer.

Abby scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Lindsey is a troll."

Bethy nodded, her face dark, and I swear she looked like her father made over when she was angry.

"Lindsey was kicking the bottom of Lainey's foot from behind. I told her to stop when she almost fell," Sammy concluded. "She got mad and pushed me."

"Did you tell someone?" Edward asked him.

"Nah," Sammy said, giving his ice cream a lick. "She stopped when me and Jonathan stood between her and Lainey."

"Don't push back, Sammy," Edward told him. "Just walk away."

"I did."

"That's so not cool," Bethy said through a deep sigh, folding her arms on the table. "She can push, but he can't do nothin' because he's a boy."

"Oh, boy," Edward muttered, shaking his head as he smirked at the fierce little faces at the table.

If Caleb had been there, the tight band of kids would've been complete, and if Emmett and Rose's little boy had gone to the same school as Bethy and Sammy, there would have been after-school detention for them all daily. All the kids had essentially grown up together, so they were as close as family. They'd been that way since the beginning. Esme called them Musketeers, because to mess with one was to mess with them all.

"Guys, school is almost out, so just avoid her, or tell someone," I instructed them all, waiting until I received a nod from all three kids. "You've only got until the end of the week. Okay?"

"Okay," Bethy answered, but I knew my girl; she'd now watch out for Sammy for the rest of the week – siblings or not, they were protective of each other.

"Okay, Aunt Bella," Abby replied.

I nudged my quiet boy, whispering, "Okay?"

He smiled my way. "Yeah," he said in his usual soft, slow way as he finished his cone.

"C'mon, we'll head home," I told them all, taking Edward's hand when he stood up and offered it.

"Sweetness, remember that joke when Sammy was born about getting called to the school daily?" he whispered to me through laughter. "Five bucks…before the end of the school year. Those three will always protect the weakest."

I chuckled, nodding against the laughing kiss he pressed to the side of my head. "It'll be our oldest, Edward. She's too much like us."

"Both of us." He grimaced, but there was such a bright spark of pride in those green eyes of his that I couldn't stop the smile.



"That might be the coolest shit I've ever fucking seen," Jasper muttered, shaking his head at his wife and my son.

Grinning, I nodded a little. Sammy had gotten a drone last Christmas; Alice had just made it a hundred times better. She'd essentially made him a military-style recon drone. It was a radio-controlled car, but it could fly, too, and it was smaller than a microwave. On top of all that shit, it was a fully operational camera with access through a smart phone.

The damn thing flew silently around the entire office, and then he set it down onto the conference table to zoom it from one end to the other. Sammy loved his gadgets and computers, but he was all boy, too, because he took the drone outside to race it against Lock and Load.

"You know, I'm gonna have to frisk him for that thing every damn time we leave the house," Bella told Alice with a grin. "Good thing school is almost over."

"How come we don't use shit like that? You have any idea how fucking easy spying on cheaters would be with that motherfucker?" Emmett asked, grinning when she set an identical one down in front of him on the table. "Hot damn!"

Alice rolled her eyes my way when he shot out of the office, calling for his son and mine. I shot her a wink. "Nice job, pixie."

"I try, I try, I try," she chanted softly. "Sammy's drone gave me the idea, and he let me mess with it. Once I got that one perfect, I made one for us to use on jobs."

"You know how awesome that would be not to have pose as a man-whore!?" Jasper practically screech-whispered in my face, which made me laugh, and even Bella and Rose shot him an amused glance while they went over which cases we were taking next.

I heard a soft snort from the other end of the conference table, and I chuckled at Dean's curious expression. Alice had sat him down with the usual paperwork and then opted to show him a few basic cases to introduce him to how we worked as a team. She had IGOR up and running with the case files for him to study.

"It's subtle undercover shit," I told him, shrugging a shoulder. "We've all done it, but he's right. It gets old, especially when, at the end of the day, someone's marriage may be over. It's not our favorite type of case to take. The girls are better at it."

Rose laughed, flipping me off. Bella rolled her eyes, shaking her head and picking up the stack of folders. She set them down onto the table next to me.

"Okay, so we have a few options for this week. If we're spending time with Carlisle in Seattle before heading to Aunt Kate's for a couple weeks, then we could essentially work while the kids are with Poppy." She smiled at the chuckles around the room, but everyone took a chair to listen to her.

"So all of these are Seattle jobs?" I asked, pulling the folders closer to me.

"Yeah, I figured it would be easier that way."

"Okay, sweetness, what'cha got?"

"First one," she started, holding up the first file. "Cold case. Missing person. About ten years old. Seventeen-year-old Reese Robins went missing somewhere between her high school and her home. Nothing ever turned up – no note, no body, not a single witness. The police waved the case away as a runaway, but her brother thinks differently, so he's asking if we could investigate it."

Bella set that folder to the middle of the table, and Jasper and Alec pulled it closer to thumb through it together. "Next," she continued, opening the second file, "a protection detail. Carlisle called to say he's got an overseas businessman coming into Seattle next week. He needs extra security while moving throughout the city, not to mention guards for meetings. On a side note, it'll be Jacob who you'll be escorting with this guy, so…if you can't keep your mouth shut, then its best you don't take this one…Edward." She gazed dangerously over at me with a raised eyebrow.

Grinning down at the table, I merely nodded. It was no secret I had zero patience for Bella's ex-boyfriend. However, the eager expressions around the table meant we all would be willing to give Jake some shit for a fair amount of time.

Alice laughed, leaning to Dean to explain just who Jake was. When she was done, he shook his head and fought his smile.

"Finally, another protection detail," Bella said, lifting the last file. "This one would be a quick one. Another one of Carlisle's requests. One of the upper management of Twi Tech is going through a nasty divorce. She fears the soon-to-be ex-husband will do something drastic prior to the papers being signed. This would require computer work as well as physical protection. We can't have him raid their bank accounts before the judge says so, and we can't have him threatening her before she's free of him."

"We can take the cold case when we get back from Aunt Kate's," Jasper suggested. "Those old missing person files take a long time to work through."

"I agree." Bella took the file and slid it down to the end of the table to Rose. "We'll let the brother know it'll be a few weeks. Give him the option to find someone else to work it or wait until we can truly dedicate ourselves to it."

"Okay, I'll call him," Rose said, jotting a note down on the file folder. "So one of Carlisle's protection details?"

Chuckling, I pulled the phone closer, dialing my dad's office on speaker.

"Carlisle Cullen's office. This is Angela."

"Hey, Ang. It's Edward."

"Hey! He's in. I'll let him know it's you."

The phone rang once, and Dad picked up, asking, "Is school out yet? I need my trip to the zoo."

"I'm fine, asshole, thanks for asking." I shook my head at the chuckles around the room and over the phone line. "And no, you'll have to wait until the end of the week."

"And you're getting Caleb and Abby, too," Bella added with a laugh.

"All my kids?! Well, hell, that's worth waiting for," he practically sang over the phone. "So what has you calling me?"

"This protection detail…actually both of them," I answered him, pulling both folders my way. "Which one is the priority?"

"Considering Olivia had an order of protection and her husband violated that last night and went to county lock-up, then I'd say the Cho Jin-Sang job," he answered immediately.

Rose rolled her eyes, took the file for the divorcing couple, and tossed it behind her to her desk. "Guess we have our answer," she muttered sarcastically.

Immediately, Alice and Makenna got to work on their computers as my dad explained the job.

"Cho Jin-Sang is South Korean. He has contracts through Twi Tech for several things, many to do with technologies that he can really only get from us – GPS chips, which Alice is completely familiar with, some camera technology for defense weaponry, and of course nickel from Norilsk for coins." He sighed wearily. "The protection detail is two-fold, son. Jacob and I have several meetings with Cho over the course of his stay in Seattle. He's bringing with him his own security, though minimal, and his daughter – Cho Seong. She's college age, looking to attend here in the States, not to mention apply for an internship at Twi Tech in the marketing department. Apparently, she's quite the artist."

IGOR immediately sent up his holographic monitors in the middle of the conference table. An older gentleman and a young woman. Alice started to compile a background check on both.

"So…are we guarding her or him?"

"Both…and really, I think you're there for Jake and myself."

My eyes narrowed onto the speakerphone. "What aren't you telling me?"

"I've known Cho for years. Jin-Sang and I have done business together a long time, even back when Charlie ran Twi Tech. It was for weapons and defense against the North Koreans. However, I don't know everyone in his security, nor do I know all his business partners. That's a rather touchy area over there, and while I understand why it's touchy, I personally would rather have you guys on this than Twi Tech's security. With you, I get experience, better research, and the ability to assess a situation better than anyone else."

I let my gaze drag from the phone to Alec, whose brow was furrowed, and then Jasper, who simply shrugged. Finally, I met my wife's gaze.

"You're the boss, sweetness," I teased her, smirking at her eye-roll my way. "This actually isn't a bad case to take to train Dean…number one. And number two, it's right inside Twi Tech, so not a bad commute if we stay there."

Bella grinned, shaking her head. "Can you behave with Jake?"

"No, probably not, but…business before pleasure." I blinked and smiled innocently up at her as she stood up from the table.

Alec cracked the fuck up. "I'll keep him in line, Bellisima."

Bella snorted, shaking her head. "Fine. When do we need to be there?"

"Monday," Dad answered her over the phone. "And if you want to come early, you can all go to the zoo with us."

"I'm really not sure who is looking forward to the zoo more…Sammy or Poppy," Bella mumbled under her breath.

"I heard that," he called out with a laugh. "Oh, and Bella? Will you be on duty? Or Mickey? Because I think with Seong, a woman guard might be appreciated."

"Mickey and I can share it," she told him. "If not work together."

"Excellent. Cho will be here for approximately a week, give or take. I'll be needed for a few meetings, so for those days, Esme will stay with the kids. Okay?"

"Ten-four. We'll call you when we're heading your way. We'll fly in," I replied, reaching to end the call.

"Good. Tell Bethy to keep her horizon level," he said with a laugh, but there was mostly pride there.

"Pfft. Who's teaching her, old man?" I taunted him, ending the call, which cut his laughter off.

Bella was quiet for a moment, flipping through the file as she rubbed her temple. "I'd like everyone in on this."

That caught everyone's attention, and it was Jasper who asked what we were all wondering.

"Why, B?"

"I dunno," she whispered, her brow wrinkling a little. Her eyes met mine. "But I'd feel better if we could all be in on this one. Rotating shifts, double up where we would normally run with two, and the penthouse is to remain a safe house."

I studied my wife's face, and just like I never underestimated Alice, I also trusted my wife's gut instinct. "You heard her. Call everyone in."


The next two days were filled with research and calling Mickey, Ben, and Eleazar. Once we'd gone over the next case with them, we started to work out a schedule.

Eleazar gave Alice access to information on Korea. There were faces and names on Homeland Security's watch list, and she and Mack got with Angela as to just exactly who Cho was bringing with him. Dean was sitting in the computer room for most of that, because he was familiar with the nuances of North and South Korea.

Bella, however, was researching Cho Seong with Mickey, since they'd be guarding her the majority of their time in Seattle. The young girl was extremely talented, it seemed, because she'd won various awards and contests, not to mention had a few pieces in museums. That background was squeaky clean, which wasn't a surprise considering her age.

Alec was currently on the phone with Twi Tech's main security, going over what our presence would mean inside that building, and they'd already been alerted by my dad.

The weapons, schedules, and worst-case scenarios came down to Jasper, Emmett, and myself. We'd been given a fairly detailed itinerary for Cho so we'd know what rooms, buildings, or driving routes we'd need to map out and secure.

Everyone would wear an ear piece. Everyone would be armed. And everyone would stay connected to Alice and IGOR, because we all had to stay informed as to who or what was around us on a minute-to-minute basis.

"My suggestion is to run as deep a background check as you can on everyone Jin-Sang has traveling with him. You're looking for any connection to North Korea – anyone who escaped, still has family on that side, and even if they were born there. You'll want to know. They have a tendency to sneak…well, spies, for a lack of a better word, over into the South and even through China. They use family to threaten or coerce people into giving up information. That civil war will never end."

I glanced over at Dean, who shrugged, adding, "Better safe than sorry."

"No, you're good, man. It's what we do around here. Everyone in this room, and some not here, bring some hefty shit to the table," I told him, pointing to Alec. "Alec, here, specializes in black ops, silent entry, and ground attacks. Emmett…our in-house weapons specialist and bomb expert. Jasper over there…sniper." I placed a hand on my chest. "Chopper pilot, black ops." Grinning a little, I shifted to the ladies. "Now, here's where shit gets interesting. Alice over there – certified genius, member of Mensa, carries an eidetic memory, and the best hacker on the goddamn planet. Don't trade stock on Wall Street. She hacked that shit at twelve years old. Two-point-three million dollars disappeared into the wind. Poof!"

I leaned back in my chair with a smile at Dean's shock. "Pixie! Where's the money?"

"What money?" she called back with a laugh.

"No fucking trace," I muttered, pointing to Makenna, who smirked my way. "Makenna – also extremely good with computers and technology – has a unique talent of being able to remember and draw to photo-like quality any face…of anyone."

Dean's eyes drifted to my wife, Mickey, and Rose.

I barked a laugh. "They're beautiful. They're deadly. All three. Mickey can open any door, lock, safe, or car without even breaking a sweat, but she's deadly with weapons and stealth. Bella – trained FBI, martial arts, and a fucking phenomenal shot. Best aim I've ever fucking seen, and that's not because she's my wife. That's the truth. Ask anyone. Rose keeps us on the straight and narrow, keeps us from running over each other and from killing one another."

Dean chuckled, giving a respective nod my way. "Definitely more than a PI job."

"You have no fucking idea."

He sat forward. "So…who's not here?"

"My stepmother's brother is CIA. And we've got a good friend Ben in the FBI. They help when they can."

I specifically avoided mentioning Wes. He and Makenna had parted ways about six months before. He'd started teaching at Quantico, and Mack hadn't wanted to move. She considered us her family, and the long-distance relationship hadn't survived it. I gave her a quick glance, and she smiled a little. She was still nursing some heavy-hearted wounds, and we all watched over her like mother hens.

Alice set IGOR on those exact background checks and sat back to wait. She flipped her screen over to her study of the mass shootings. She'd started compiling lists of the ones that didn't quite fit into the average terrorist agenda. Some seemed to be aimed at a specific type of location – open areas, shopping malls, and global businesses. It wouldn't shock me if she came up with some sort of pattern.

The phones rang, but Rose answered it immediately. She put them on hold.

"Um, Edward…Bella? You're needed at the school. There's been a fight," she explained, and I could tell she wasn't quite sure whether to laugh or duck.

"Oh, I fucking knew it," Bella sighed deeply, bracing her arms on Rose's desk. She turned her head to me. "I owe you five bucks, right?"

I snorted, shaking my head. "C'mon, sweetness. Let's go bail out my mini-me."

"Laugh it up. She's in deep trouble, mister," she practically growled at me as she picked up the keys to the SUV.

Turning to Alec, I said, "We'll pick up Abby, too."

He held up his phone, shaking his head. "No, she's with them, so I guess I gotta go, too."

Emmett cracked the fuck up. "You know, we were considering putting Caleb in Forks next year."

"Shut up," I told him, pointing to the back table. "Get all the equipment ready to go, and we'll be back in a few."

"Roger that," Jasper answered for him, muttering, "And that's why we didn't have kids."


A/N… I don't think there are questions yet. I do want to thank you guys for all the love. Some of you are really excited you get to read this as a WIP this time around, but you're worried the suspense will kill you. LOL I want to thank all my readers that are following the Spanish translation (you'll find the link on my profile)… This is a first for you guys too. :)

I think that's it. I'll see you guys next week for the teaser and then Sunday for the update. Until then… Mooches, Deb ;)