No copyright intended. I do not own any recognizable entities herein.
This is an AU Twific. I hope you enjoy it!
This is the third and final installment of Persistent, a three part sequel to Stubborn.
It will start in Tyler's POV but we will most likely hear from Bella and Jake as well.
He stood in the bathroom off the room the Volturi kings put them in looking at his reflection. The red eyes really creeped Tyler out and his skin looked chalky. He was really wishing there was a lotion he could use even though he figured it wouldn't do anything. Pinching the skin of his arm, he realized it didn't hurt. He could feel the action, watch as the thick dermis plumped up and then flattened with the squeeze of his fingers, but there was no lack of bloodflow, no slow easing as if he were dehydrated...Nothing. Just a flattening of his skin back to its original shape.
Bella came in and wrapped her slender arms around his waist and laid her cheek on the center of his naked back. The silky soft feel of her skin against his calmed him and he leaned into her embrace. It was odd, the strength he had flowing through his body now. He wasn't weak for a human before but the unadulterated power that coursed through his veins stunned him.
"Are you doing okay?" Bella asked in her newly musical husky voice. She was always his favorite thing to listen to before but now, God. That voice did things to him beyond his wildest imagination.
Lying his large hand over her tiny ones that were gripped together on his abdomen, he chuckled. "I'm always good when you're near, babe." He said softly. His own voice still awed him as well. Before it was a rough tenor but now it had deepened some and sounded smooth like velvet. He cocked an eyebrow at himself in the mirror. "Yeah, I'm good." He repeated to reassure himself. Watching his lips move reassured him that it was indeed him looking back in the mirror and he pasted on a confident smile. "Let's go see Felix, eh?"
Dressed in a pair of dark jeans and a long sleeved shirt, he handed Bella a dark blue cardigan to cover herself. She had chosen a pale blue tank top over jeans, reveling in the fact that she didn't get cold anymore and loving the look of her body and while Tyler admired it as well, he didn't want anyone else to.
The girl had not chosen a bra. She glowered at him playfully as she put the sweater on and buttoned it to the center of her chest, leaving the top three buttons undone to test his patience. He growled at her and she giggled, darting away from his reaching hands. The speed in which they had now also rendered him dumb. They could reach one side of the room from the other in less than a split second. It was amazing to him.
He figured he'd rather like being a vampire. The blood tasted delicious even though it should've disgusted him and some deep part of him inside relished in the fear that crossed the faces of the humans as he tore into their necks. They'd only fed the one time -on numerous people- but the rush was unlike anything he'd ever felt before.
Felix spent the walk to what they learned was the Throne Room telling them about the guard members and different wings of the Volturi Castle. Tyler learned they were in Volterra, Italy; not far from Florence. He also learned that their parents thought they burned to death in a car accident on the way to prom. That broke his heart. He would never get a hug from his mom again, never get reprimanded for his cocky attitude by his dad. Bella's breath hitched when she thought of Charlie and he could plainly see the anguish on her face.
"The Cullens are inside." Felix said very quietly. So quietly that Tyler was sure no one else could hear him except Bella and himself. "Master Aro is holding court over Edward for interfering with the mate bond."
Not really knowing what that meant, Tyler nodded and kept his mouth shut. Bella did not. Keeping her voice just as quiet as their mentor, she spoke. "If he thought we were mates, why would he be held accountable for trying to interfere? I don't understand."
Tyler wrapped her in his arms and smiled into her hair as he looked at Felix. She was adorable when she was confused. Tyler didn't get it much either but he was big on 'hurry up and wait'. Content to see how the proceedings developed.
"Let's find out, shall we?" Felix made a show of opening the Throne Room doors loudly and put on a stoic face as they entered. Bella and Tyler followed him to the front and stopped where he directed them, right in front of Aro, Marcus and Caius. Thankfully, Tyler's mind could immediately place names with what Felix had told them.
The kings sat on their thrones, dressed to the nines in their elaborate black robes with white frilly shirts underneath them. None of them looked like they'd washed their hair in ages, the stringy strands hanging limply to their shoulders. The black slacks they wore were pressed to perfection and Tyler felt confused. Why go through so much trouble to starch your clothes if you couldn't even wash your damn hair? He thought.
The ranks closed in, twenty of the Volturi guard, directly behind the couple as soon as they stopped moving. Demetri stood in front of the formation slightly as if he were their drill instructor. His white blonde, spiky hair stood out from his dark gray cloak. Facing forward again, Tyler let his eyes linger over the Cullens sitting in comfortable looking chairs that hadn't been there before.
Being a vampire himself now, he knew there was no need to sit. Their legs didn't tire, bloodflow didn't hinder or exhaust them. Why were the Cullens sitting down? Jasper was the only one who was standing and he looked more like a drill instructor than Demetri did. His back was straight and his gaze was hard as he stared forward unseeing. Alice sat directly in front of him, smiling nervously as she stared holes in the side of Bella's head. Edward, beside Alice, scowled at Tyler like a petulant child but his eyes held curiosity and confusion as he looked them over. Emmett sat beside Edward, his face heartbreakingly sad and Tyler felt for him. Losing your mate would have to render someone immobile. He wasn't sure how the large vampire could even hold himself upright. If anything happened to his beautiful Bella, Tyler was sure he would curl up and die on the spot.
Two people that Tyler didn't know sat beside Emmett. A caramel haired woman with kind but sad eyes and who he thought he could remember was Dr. Cullen. It made sense but his human memories were fuzzy and he'd only met him once. The blonde's gaze was sad as well as he stared at Bella.
Clearing his throat, Aro spoke from his seated position. "Isabella, Tyler; my dears! How are you finding your stay within the Volturi Castle, hmm? I hear from Felix that you've had quite the interesting evening." He said jovially and Edward growled lowly from his seat. Emmett didn't even look at him, he just laid a beefy hand on Edward's thigh and Tyler could see him squeeze. Edward winced but stopped growling at once.
Aro chuckled and Tyler knew then and there that the king would do anything to irritate the boy. He wondered why.
"Everything was wonderful, sir. Thank you so much for your hospitality." Bella said clearly as she stared forward. Her face was a mask of indifference, only smiling politely during her words before letting the mask slip back in place. He gripped her hand in his and gently entwined their fingers. She kept her eyes forward, her stance so similar to Jasper's it was almost uncanny.
"Wonderful! I suppose we all want to get this show on the road then?" Aro asked as he made a show of looking around. No one moved a muscle or made a sound. "Perfect." He clapped his hands together and stood fluidly. "Edward Cullen, please step forward." When the bronze haired boy stepped in front of his king, he touched his hand to Aro's and then dropped it back to his side, his whole body stiff. "You are being charged with two crimes, young Cullen. One; for killing a mated vampire without just cause. Two; for trying to keep another mated pair apart. How do you plead?"
"As if you didn't know." Edward muttered in a rough, raspy voice. He sounded horrible and Tyler felt a twinge of sympathy for him. "I plead not guilty, Master Aro. I was under the absolute impression that Bella was my mate so I wasn't aware that I was keeping her from anyone. Tyler, being a human -as was she- didn't think of her that way either as he knew nothing about any of it. So no one can claim that I kept them apart. Clearly, I did not.
"As for the first charge, I acted in defence of whom I thought was my mate. Rosalie Cullen notified the Volturi of a human with knowledge of our existence. Bella did not know of our existence as vampires and if she did, there was no way for us to know. She had not said anything to anyone and I cannot read her mind. Rosalie called you, dispatched you, and in a vision, Alice saw Bella die. Acting as a mated male, I avenged my supposed dead mate. So I repeat. Not. Guilty." He stated through clenched teeth.
Nodding placatingly, Aro waved toward the Cullen group. "Major Whitlock, please step forward."
Now, Tyler was confused as Jasper Hale stepped around his little mate and walked up to Aro, placing his hand in his just like Edward had before stepping back to stand beside his brother.
"Tell me, Major. Is Edward trying to pull the wool over my eyes, so to speak?" Aro asked in a solicitous tone. Tyler then realized that Aro already knew the answers to these questions he was asking -being a contact telepath- and it seemed he was only speaking aloud to announce things to the court.
Jasper shook his head. "No sir, Edward is telling the truth as he sees it. Though there was no spark when he and Miss Bella touched and the love he had for her was a scratch on the surface. Edward misinterpreted the feelings he had for deeper than what they were."
Edward hung his head and Tyler heard him sigh deeply. A lightbulb went off over Tyler's head and he couldn't contain his sharp intake of air, feeling infinitely sorry for Emmett. Edward's muscles tensed as Aro's eyes struck his and he cocked his eyebrow. "Tyler? Is there something you'd like to share?"
Knowing it wouldn't be beneficial to the court, Tyler shook his head slowly, trying to keep his face blank. Aro stepped up to him and held out his hand and Tyler sighed resignedly. He just hoped that the king wouldn't out his thoughts.
"Hmm, yes. You are right about that." Aro murmured in response to Tyler's innermost thoughts. "You're also right that it's not beneficial." He said in a sympathetic voice as he turned and let his eyes once again scan the room. Sitting back in his throne, Aro held his hands out, palm up on either side of him and his 'brothers' touched their fingers to his skin. Silently, a deliberation of sorts went on where Aro would shake his head or nod at something and continue having this conversation that only he could hear in his mind.
Well, Tyler supposed Edward could also hear it, being a range telepath.
Jake was pissed off. First, Sam orders him not to contact Bella who gets snatched by vamps before he can tell her he's a wolf. Before he can talk to her at all and let her know he's alive and well. Then, Sam tells him he can't tell Charlie what really happened to his daughter. The poor guy has been drinking himself to death. He loved Bella more than anything in this world.
Remembering the last few days of Bella's human life, he sat back into the pillows on his bed and scowled at the ceiling. "Bullshit." He muttered angrily.
He'd finally found a possible loophole to Sam's crappy order.
He was in his wolf form, roaming the forest when a thought occurred to him. He wasn't able to write her back and he wasn't allowed to get near her. Sam never said he couldn't sit outside her house. He always felt better when he was close to her and he just wanted to see her, even if she was afar. So he sat inside the treeline and watched her, listening to her.
Okay, he admitted he was probably being creepy but he was still trying to find out how he could talk to her without breaking the mighty alpha's order. He felt like Winnie the Pooh as he 'thought thought thought'.
"Yes, I'm telling you. Her address is…"
Jake's ears perked up as he heard the slight lisp of the tall blonde bitchvamp.
"Forks, Washington. She knows about us. I don't want our lives in danger because of some pitiful human." She continued on and Jake pinpointed her location enough to ease away silently.
This wasn't good.
He ran to Sam's to tell him the news and guess what happened? He dismissed him! Mother fu…! Jake was so angry he burst into his wolf form in the middle of Sam's kitchen, causing Emily to shriek in terror and Sam to shove him out the door. Sam didn't believe a word Jake said, even after hearing it in his mind though the link.
The tyrannical alpha ordered Jacob to stay on the reservation until otherwise told by Sam himself. He was not to tell anyone else of this situation nor was he allowed to try to find anymore loopholes to Sam's orders. He really covered all his bases that time.
The night that Bella and Tyler disappeared, Sam laughed and that was when Jake had had enough. The alpha's thoughts filtered through. He'd been on Rosalie's side! Neither liked Bella; Rosalie for endangering her family from the vampire enforcers and Sam for fear that Bella would give Jake the strength to become alpha as was his birthright. Sam figured if Jake was mourning the loss of Bella, he wouldn't be strong enough, therefore leaving Sam in charge.
Boy, didn't he have another thing coming. Jake was going to start the process. He was going to take back his pack. He'd found out that every wolf in the pack had an order on them of some sort, all so that Sam could keep them under his thumb. As far as Jacob was concerned, he would fight Sam Uley to the death if he had to.
He may have lost his friend to the vampires but he would not lose his pack or his heritage to a tyrannical alpha.
This was ridiculous. Poor Edward was on trial for some big misunderstanding and she was antsy. She wanted to talk to the Cullens but she wasn't sure if Emmett would let her near them. She wouldn't blame him, really. It was her fault after all that Rosalie was dead.
She watched with a mask of apathy, keeping her muscles loose so as not to show anyone how she felt. Bella didn't want to hurt Tyler by showing Edward sympathy but she really did feel for her friend. They'd become close over the months and though he'd made the mistake of thinking she was his mate and he actually killed another in retaliation for her supposed death, he didn't deserve her impassivity. She longed to comfort him as a friend would but she held herself in check.
When Aro had called Jasper to the stand, she almost choked on her tongue. Major Jasper Whitlock? She knew all about him from the Civil War. He was the youngest Major in the confederacy along side his Captain, Peter Higginbotham. She had traced her mother's heritage for a school project years ago and found that Peter was her fourth great grandfather on her mother's side and she learned all about him and his cavalry during the war. He had lost his life as a MIA shortly after Major Whitlock went missing, leaving a pregnant wife and toddler behind.
It had taken everything in her not to rush to him.
Aro spoke finally, bringing her back to the matter at hand. "We have discussed the situation and have come to a decision regarding the mind reader, young Edward Masen Cullen."
Bella watched through mock-bored eyes as Edward's shoulders slumped as if he were defeated. She couldn't let him die over something like this. It was all a terrible mistake. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to push her shield over him but it wouldn't budge. She needed to protect him and she couldn't! Tyler glanced at her, seeing her stress and tightened his grip on her hand. It seemed to be just the strength she needed because once she felt calm from his grip, her shield jumped outward and enveloped not only Edward but Jasper as well. She inhaled through her nose silently and exhaled slowly.
Who the hell was talking in her head?
Bella, it's me Edward.
How the fuck was this possible?
He's not going to sentence me to death, Bella. Apparently Edward could read her thoughts while he was in her shield. How was it he could project his as well? She wanted to breathe a sigh of relief after she heard his news but instead she kept her mask in place.
Holy shit, thank God. Edward, are you okay? She asked him.
I'm fine. A little heartbroken but I feel no mate attachment toward you now that your blood is gone. I'm so sorry but I think it was the singer's pull that made me think you were my mate. Aro thinks the same thing.
Bella smiled inwardly. Good, now I don't have to worry about Tyler being anymore possessive since you're here. She joked. Not that I mind it! She mused, happily.
She heard his mental snort and her lip twitched as she tried to keep her face stoic. Thoughts of her new life raced unbidden through her mind and Edward saw everything; her love for her mate, their escapades the last few hours, and more.
Just because I know you're not my mate doesn't mean I didn't harbor attraction for you, Bella. I still find you very appealing and am very jealous of Tyler.
A growl ringing through the Throne Room had her shield snapping back into place and all eyes landing on Tyler. His face contorted into pure rage as he crouched low and set his sights on Edward. The guard tensed but Demetri held them off with a raised fist. Bella gasped and grabbed at his bicep but he brushed her off easily, standing to his full height and pinning her with a deadly glare.
Using a tone she'd never heard from him before, she felt the command sing through her veins. "You stay right there and don't move. I will deal with you in a minute." His angry eyes turned back to Edward whose eyes were wide with shock, his hands up, palms out in a placating manner.
"Easy, Tyler. I was just explaining to her how I felt. That's all." Edward cooed softly.
Aro watched with mild amusement while everyone else looked confused. That was when Bella noticed his hand in Jasper's and the explanation was like a bucket of ice cold water dumping over her. Edward's projected thoughts inside her shield didn't just project to her. They projected to Tyler and Jasper too.
Impossible! And yet that's what seems to have happened with Tyler's reaction and Jasper's relaying to their king. She watched with wide eyes, her stoic mask completely dissipated as Edward tried to soothe her mate. She wanted to go to him, to tell him how she felt but the command he left on her rendered her useless. Felix sidled up to her with a smirk.
"Thus the alpha male commands his mate." He said with humor. Bella rolled her eyes. "Fear not. It's his first jealous rampage. The mind reader can handle himself." His deep laugh echoed through the chamber while everyone else looked on with interest.
Tyler jumped at Edward who leapt out of the way, jumping over Bella's mate and landing on the other side. Tyler's moves were sloppy and clumsy. He didn't know how to attack and rendering him still was simple as Edward wrapped his long fingers around Tyler's wrists like handcuffs and stretched his arms to their stopping point straight behind his back. He leaned down and whispered something in Tyler's ear and then they both relaxed.
When Edward let him go, Tyler turned and scowled at him. "Just watch it then." He warned. Edward just smirked in response and nodded once.
Everyone took their places and Aro gave the decision to the court. "Edward Cullen will serve 50 years for the wrongful death of a mated vampire, leaving behind a broken hearted male. Emmett McCarty Cullen, at this time you may decide whether you would like to live your existence in search of your true mate or you may choose to end your existence as it stands."
Emmett's heartbroken gaze was broken as he stared in disbelief at his king. "What?" His voice was barely a harsh whisper and he moved not a muscle, sitting there beside his matriarch. Esme gripped his hand tightly in hers, every Cullen's eyes were wide.
Marcus spoke, giving Emmett an understanding look. "Your bond with Rosalie Cullen was very strong, young one but your true mate is out there. I cannot see where she is but the direction is clear. I can point it out to you if you so choose."
The Cullens gaped at Marcus with open mouths and Emmett floundered for a moment before answering. "Not yet, sir. I'd like time to mourn my first love. Thank you for the hope though." He said softly with venomous tears in his eyes that were indeed ringed with hope.
Marcus nodded once, slowly. "My pleasure. Good luck."
Court was dismissed and Alice rushed to Bella, snatching her up in a big bear hug that should have been awkward for a girl her size but was surprisingly sturdy. It seemed it would take Bella a bit to get used to her new strength and power. Tyler came over and kissed her temple.
"I'm so sorry, beautiful Bella. I just lost my head for a minute there." He apologized, looking contrite. Bella gifted him with a sweet smile and a press of her lips to his which he tried to deepen until both Edward and Alice chuckled behind them.
"Oh Bella, I'm so glad you're alright! We've got so much to talk about." Alice's bell-like voice tinkled on and on as she talked Bella's ear off while they walked back up to the room that had been assigned to them.
Bella found herself immersed in a fantasy world with a fantasy mate in a fantasy castle but she knew that this was not a fantasy. This was her reality now and she was going to enjoy it. She felt the sorrow for her family back home, knowing she could never see them again but with Tyler by her side, she felt complete. When she stared into his newly red eyes, she felt as if her world was righted again.
Later on in the day -or maybe days had passed, she couldn't tell anymore- Jasper walked over to sit next to her on a maroon sofa. "You mind telling me what the recognition was when Aro said my name, Miss Bella?" Jasper asked curiously. With animation, Bella told him all she'd discovered and remembered while Jasper listened intently with no small amount of shock. "You've gotta be kidding me." He exclaimed at the end of her tale.
Shaking her head with a big smile, she hugged Jasper. "I'm just so happy to meet someone who knew my family!"
"Knows." He said quietly, watching for her reaction.
"What?" She tilted her head.
Handing her a thick leather wristband, he looked at Bella under his lashes. "If you'd like, I can take you to your great-grandpappy, Miss Bella." She turned the leather cuff over in her fingers as if she were touching a feather, like Felix had instructed. "After your stay here in Volterra, I would like to invite you to stay with my coven. You'll find Peter alive and well...in a manner of speaking of course."
Gasping, she touched her lips as she stared at the cuff and then into Jasper's eyes. "He's still alive?" She whispered.
Jasper nodded. "He doesn't remember his last name so he took mine. He's Peter Whitlock now." She'd told Jasper that his last name had been Higginbotham and Jasper's eyes had lit up with hope. Peter had always wondered if he'd had a family out there somewhere, not remembering much about his human life at all.
"You want me to be apart of the Cullens?" She asked, confused.
Jasper and Alice both chuckled and her best friend sat down on Jasper's lap, resting her dainty hand on Bella's knee. "No, Bella. We stay with the Cullens from time to time for a change in pace but our place is with Peter. Him and his mate, Charlotte. We would like to invite you and Tyler to join us."
She looked at Bella with such wide, hopeful eyes that Bella couldn't bear to say no. Making eye contact with Tyler, who nodded with a smile, she turned back to her new coven. "We'd love to!"
One Year Later:
Bella and Tyler stepped into the fire-warmed living room of Whitlock Manor in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The dark stained front door had a wrought iron grate inside of it at the center and allowed you to see inside. A large fireplace with a wrap around mantel greeted them first, with pendulum lamps hanging from above. Hardwood floors and minimal yet modern decorations kept it crisp and clean with an inviting feel.
Peter Higginbotham Whitlock stood in the center of the living room, staring at his fourth great granddaughter through a veil of venomous tears. He'd heard all about her through his Major and had spent months searching for the perfect place to fit the entire coven.
They were finally whole.
Bella stared at the exact likeness of her grandpa Geoffrey. His hair was longer, a sandy blonde, but that didn't take away from his features at all. Peter was a vision and she darted to him, embracing him as tightly as he held her. She still had family left. She could even see some of him in Charlie if her fuzzy human memories weren't deceiving her.
After the initial, emotional meet and greet where Bella was also introduced to Charlotte, whom she loved immediately, they convened on the back redstone covered patio. There was a ten foot high privacy fence and thick netting acting as a sun protecting awning, keeping their sparkling skin from the city's view. A mismatched stone top coffee table split up the deep red cushioned patio set and everyone sat around getting to know each other.
"...And then the bastard just chomps her head off and tosses it at me!" Everyone laughed at Peter's animated description of Maria's death.
Tyler had his arms around Bella's hips as he held her in his lap, rubbing his nose up and down her throat. They'd grown closer than he ever thought possible in their year in Volterra. The kings had taught Bella how to perfect her shield -which she could use easily at will whenever she wanted- and he learned that he had the gift of persuasion. He merely suggested something and everyone was instantly agreeable. It had taken an inordinate amount of training for him to stifle the urge to make everyone agree with him about every little thing. The power had almost gone to Tyler's head.
But with Bella near him, he knew he could get over anything...Including a power trip.
Leaving the castle had been bittersweet. They were anxious to get out and see the world but they loved their new family. They'd met so many interesting vampires and even a reservation of pumas had dropped in their laps. The pumas were much more lenient with vampires than the Quileute shifters and Aro was excited to have more allies.
After much discussion it was decided that, when needed, the Volturi could call on the Whitlock coven for missions and emergencies. Tyler had requested at least twenty years off first to experience the world with his mate which Aro granted reluctantly. He counter offered that they get twenty years off unless an emergency arises to which Tyler stated it must be life or death; such as the Romanians uprising. Aro agreed and they parted good friends.
During the newborn year, Alice had delivered the sad news that Charlie had succumbed to his broken heart. He drank himself to oblivion, letting the house fall apart around him. She'd learned that Sam Uley was to blame for the wolfpack not helping him and Bella vowed to get her revenge on the mutt for killing her father.
Edward and Tyler had become quite good friends as well, much to Bella's amusement. She refused to shield him and share thoughts with anyone ever again though. Once she'd learned that with Edward under her shield, his power was amplified and could be reversed, she decided not to bother. There was no need for him to know what she was thinking nor was there a need for him to speak to her privately like that. Although, it would come in handy on missions when they needed to be completely silent, as Edward was a high ranking guard member for the next 50 years.
She was thankful that her mate was so trusting as to allow her to stay friends with the mind reader, even after his confession of being jealous of the dark skinned man. Edward never pushed his boundaries and Bella had faith that he would find himself a mate before too long.
Speaking of mates, Emmett held no grudges with Bella, which surprised her immensely.
"You're my baby sis. Even if we didn't know each other well and my wife hated you, I always felt a connection with you. When I finally find my true mate, I'll come visit so you can meet her." He'd told her with a wide grin. He'd mourned the loss of Rosalie for about eight months and then asked Marcus to point him in the right direction. He was still out searching, following the tug but she was proving to be evasive, much to his chagrin.
Tyler wanted to get her alone so he could show her again how much he loved her but Jasper and he had orchestrated a surprise for her first with Peter and Char. Alice had kept in touch with the leader of the wolfpack, Jacob Black, after finding out what happened to Bella's father. Jake had been in the midst of training privately to challenge his alpha, Sam but once Charlie died, five months after the news of Bella's death, Jake decided enough was enough. He defeated Sam, leaving him hanging on by a thread and demoted him to omega in the pack. Sam had finally learned a little empathy but he would get no sympathy from anyone...except maybe his imprint, Emily.
A knock on the door brought Tyler out of his musings and Bella perked up in his lap. The conversation had flowed around him but he'd heard none of it. He shifted her weight so that he could concentrate and she grinned at him.
"Someone wanna let me in or what?" A voice called. "I'm lonely out here!" A fist banged on the front door, the deep bass carrying easily through the grate and house.
Gasping, Bella stood as Peter leaned back in his chair with a wide smile, waving his arm toward the front door. "Go ahead, sugar. Let 'em in!" He said with his thick southern accent.
Needing no further direction, Bella raced to the door and squealed as she opened it, getting enveloped immediately in a pair of thick, hot arms. "Jake! Jake, Jake, Jake!" She cried as he spun her around and kissed her forehead before dropping her on her toes where she proceeded to bounce around him, laughing happily.
The rest of the coven entered the living room from the patio, all wearing matching smiles with a fondness in their eyes that Bella knew was just for her. Her family loved her.
"I missed you so much Bells." He said with a smile before turning serious and pausing her bouncing with a firm hand on her shoulder. "I'm so sorry about Charlie." Bella knew the situation and she didn't want him feeling guilty. She would get her revenge on Sam someday. She wouldn't tell anyone except her coven though. No need to keep the pack on high alert. She kept her face smooth and impassive, frankly it freaked Jacob out.
"Thank you, Jake. I know you would've helped if you'd been able to." She said softly.
Nodding eagerly, he had tears in his eyes when he spoke. "We all would have. We were all under his thumb." Suddenly, he broke into a smile again and Bella quirked an eyebrow. "Not anymore though!"
Back to bouncing, Bella squealed again much to the delight of everyone there. It was good to see her so excited. "You're alpha!? That's amazing!" She said at his nod. She fingered his long hair and sighed wistfully. "I'm so glad you're growing it out." She'd always loved his hair.
"So is Trish." He said with a wistful smile. Trish was his adorable little native imprint. He took a phone from his jeans pocket and held up a photo of her to which Bella cooed and awed.
"She's so cute, Jake! When will you get married?" She asked, excited to possibly attend her friend's wedding.
Scoffing, Jake rolled his eyes. "I'm barely 18, Bells! You want me to get married now? Give us like 5 or 10 years, please!" He said at length, feigning horror at the idea of settling down so quickly. Truth was, he would marry her tomorrow but her parents nor she would like that idea. He would bide his time and woo her to the best of his abilities.
Bella smiled beatifically at Jake. "You've got your girl, Jake and I've got my man and my family and you! I just wish Charlie was here to see it all." She sighed, a little sentimental.
Jake was staying with them for two days before he had to go home and relieve Embry of his beta duties. There'd been no nomads in the area for a long time and the Cullens who remained in Forks -Carlisle and Esme- the last year had been helping patrol their side of the boundary but he didn't want to take any chances.
The coven and the wolf spent the next two days catching up and telling anecdotes of the last year, making sure to keep the mood light. Every time Jake overindulged on the fantastic food of New Orleans, he would pass out and the couples would take that time to themselves.
Tyler spent hours worshipping his tiny mate, relishing in her silky smooth skin and her long soft hair. He loved to wrap her hair in his fist and bring her mouth to his, listening to her moan with desire. Having Jasper around was a definite plus, ramping the lust in the house and spreading it too and from, leaving the couples completely sated by morning. Poor Jake woke up with a problem a time or two but he took their ribbing all in good fun.
Bella waved goodbye to her friend, promising to keep in touch and leaned back into Tyler's strong arms. She sighed happily. "I feel so complete, Ty. Like this is how everything should've been. I know things could've gone different, maybe better? But this is good. Us. Where we're at. You know?" She asked as she stared into the space Jake had disappeared, unseeing.
Tyler hummed into her hair, his fingers dancing over the skin of her arms. "I know, beautiful Bella. I do too. Like we're boundless now. Infinite somehow." He agreed softly.
She nodded, her hair tickling his nose and he smiled. "I love you so much." Bella twisted in his arms and hugged him to her tightly, pressing her cheek to the center of his chest.
Tyler's smile grew wider as his dead heart filled with joy. "I love you too, babe. Literally forever."
Bella snorted. "You're so corny." She laughed.