A/N: Thank you to my lovely pre-reader jansails
Chapter 7 –
When I woke up, I looked around the room, it took me several minutes to remember where I was. I moaned as I sat up, becoming aware of the pounding in my head. I knew going out last night wasn't a good idea. I still couldn't believe what had happened or how close I had come to dying. If those men hadn't been there, I dreaded to think where I would be waking up this morning, or if I would even be waking up.
I was annoyed with myself for getting into a situation like that, Charlie would be furious with me if he knew that I had walked off by myself. I hadn't even paid any attention to where I was going. I was only interested in seeing how drunk I could get. When things had started to go sour, I should have gone home.
I wished that I had gone home last night instead of coming here. I didn't even know what I planned to do about dating Edward, coming here was sending him mixed signals. What if I decided to end it? Don't get me wrong, he had been great with me last night. I don't think I could have felt any more protected and cared for. I had loved every second of it, but I still had this nagging feeling that something was off.
I jumped out of bed, I had to find him and tell him I was leaving. I would withhold the part about me being here was a mistake.
I needed time to process everything that had happened last night now that my mind was clear. I had to figure out who these guys were and what they wanted from me.
Maybe I should call Charlie. No, he would just over react and be on the first flight out here.
I pulled on the t-shirt and leggings Edward had laid out for me last night, along with the flats. He had told me they were his sisters, and she had left them here, but something about that didn't add up. I just happened to be the same size as his sister? Or were they from one of his conquests? Not that it mattered either way. I had nothing else to wear, and I had to get home.
When I was dressed, I headed out into the lobby. I jumped as I caught sight of a man standing in the corner; he was staring at me and had the most eerie brown eyes I had ever seen. I instinctively took a step back. "Who are you?" I asked. I hadn't expected to meet anyone, but Edward.
"I'm Laurent, I work for Mr. Cullen. He asked me to watch over you while he took care of a few work matters." He said, smiling, but the smile didn't reach his eyes.
"He didn't need to do that." I mumbled looking over at the lift. I wanted to make a run for it. There was something about this man that I didn't like, something that sent a shiver of fear down my spine. "I have to leave anyway." I took a step towards the lift.
Laurent stepped in my way. "Mr. Cullen asked me to keep you here until he has returned. He's worried about you and wants to make sure you're okay."
Alarm bells were sounding off in my head. Something wasn't right, something was most certainly wrong. I had to be smart if I wanted to get out of here. Why would Edward station someone outside the room to stop me from leaving?
I shook myself. I couldn't afford to think about that right now. I had to do everything I could to get out of here. I had to think of a plausible reason to leave, like an emergency. Think Bella.
"I'm afraid I can't stay." I took a step to go around him.
He moved in my path. My heart started racing so fast I thought it was going to beat out my chest. "Please, I must insist that you stay. We wouldn't want to disappoint Mr. Cullen."
What would happen if I disappointed him? I wasn't sure I wanted to find out.
"You don't understand. I left my inhaler at home, and I have to use it now." I didn't have asthma; in fact I didn't know the first thing about it. I only hoped that he was as clueless as I was.
"Can't it wait?" He growled.
"Only if you want to explain to Mr. Cullen why I'm lying on the floor dead, when he returns." I snapped.
He frowned. "I'll have to call him."
"There is no need. I'm sure we will be back before he comes home." Please, please don't call him. I had a feeling he wouldn't agree to me leaving.
He turned away from me and pulled the phone out his pocket. "Mr. Cullen… oh… Bella's awake."
I listened intently to the conversation.
"She said she needs to go home for her inhaler. I have no fucking clue." He stepped towards me, handing me the phone. "Jasper would like a word with you."
"Hello?" I said nervously.
"Hi, Bella", Jasper greeted me. "Edward's in a meeting right now. Laurent says you need to go home for your inhaler."
"Yes." I said, trying me best to sound convincing. "I have to take it every morning, especially after I've been out at night, all the smoke goes to my chest." I gave him a chesty chough.
"Okay I'll have Laurent take you over to your flat, and I'll meet you." Jasper informed me.
"There is really no need. We can go over and grab it and be back within half an hour." I suggested.
"It's no trouble. I'm sure that's what my brother will want."
I handed the phone back to Laurent and Jasper spoke with him for a few minutes longer.
This is not how I planned this to go down. Now I would have two of them watching over me. I didn't even know what I was going to do, but I knew I had to get away from them.
Who was Edward Cullen? It seems like a question I should have been asking a long time ago. Did he know about the men at the bar? Had I just played straight into his arms? I shuddered with fear. I wasn't sure if I wanted to find out.
I knew it was important for me to play nice until I had my moment to escape. I couldn't let them know that I suspected anything other than they were taking care of me for Edward.
Laurent led me to the car. Fear gripped me when he didn't bother to ask where I lived, and started to drive in the right direction. Why did this stranger know where I lived?
When we pulled up outside I grabbed my purse. "I'll be back in a minute."
Laurent grabbed my wrist as I made a dive to leave the car. "We wait for Jasper."
I leaned back in my seat, and I bit my lip to keep me from screaming. Did they do this for a living? They seemed to have every angle covered or maybe I was too easy to read.
A few minutes later there was a knock on my window. I jumped at the sound. Jasper was standing outside. I recognized him from the night at the bar. He opened the door for me, and I slid out.
I smiled at him pleasantly. "It's nice to see you again Jasper."
He placed a kiss on my cheek. "The pleasure is all mine." He smiled and motioned for me to lead the way.
They followed me upstairs to the flat. I unlocked the door and headed straight in. "It's in my bedroom." I called as I headed in that direction. I dumped my bag in the hall and then went to my bedside and sat with my back towards the door, pretending to look through the drawer and then take the inhaler, making the sounds. I hoped I was fooling them.
"Hey, do you mind if I jump in a quick shower while we're here?" I called out after placing my pretend inhaler back in the drawer.
Jasper poked his head into the room. He looked at me for a minute and then sighed. "Be quick."
"Thank you." I smiled.
When he walked away, I closed the bedroom door and went into the en-suite turning the shower on. I quickly and quietly changed my clothes into sneakers, jeans and a hoodie. I didn't want them to know what I was wearing, it would be harder for them to spot me that way.
Then I went over to the bed and pulled out my keepsake box out from under it, at the bottom of the box I found my emergency money, it was only a few hundred dollars, but it would have to do. I also grabbed the spare car key and then slid the box back into place.
My heart was racing as I thought about what I was going to do next and the possible consequences if I were caught. I pulled the hood over my head and tucked my hair inside. Then I crept over to the window and gently slid it up and climbed out onto the fire escape.
I ran down the stairs as fast as I could, not looking back once. I was too scared they were following me. I climbed down the ladder and sprinted towards my car, which was parked outside in the street.
By the time I got in the car I was breathless and feeling sick, but I couldn't afford a minute to stop.
I started the car and pulled out into the street, almost knocking into a car coming along the street, their horn blared at me. I stuck my foot down on the clutch, terrified that they would look out the window when they heard the horn and realize I was gone.
I ditched the car after I drove a few streets. I kept wondering if they were tracking the car. Was I being paranoid?
I could always go back and get the car if I was wrong. I walked the rest of the way to Broadway library; there was something I needed to search. Something I probably should have searched in the beginning.
The library was empty; I choose a computer up the back end of the hall, with a good view of the door. My Dad's training was starting to kick in. I clicked on the internet and typed 'Edward Cullen' into Google. It brought up a lot of news results, none of them good.
The first result read:
Cullen case tossed out of court
A woman who dares to cooperate with the FBI in the fight against the dread Cullen Mob is murdered, her body was dumped in a barrel of acid in the countryside near Buckingham.
I shook my head, that couldn't be him. I tried another link.
Crime Boss Dead
Raymond Cullen dies aged 73. Organized Crime boss whose exploits covered more than half century and helped define New York's history of police corruption and reform died Wednesday morning. His family, (seen in the picture below) mourn his death as they await the new mob boss to be announced.
I looked at the picture and gasped. It was Edward, there was no denying it. He was a few year younger, but it was him. I recognized his brothers, as well.
In the background, I caught the face of someone else I knew as well, my stalker.
All the pieces were coming together, and I didn't like what I saw.
I sat for a moment staring at the screen. What had I got myself into? What did I do now?
I had to get out of New York, but it wasn't safe to go to my father. Where could I go?
I jumped out of the seat and hurried out the library and into the street, towards Steinway station. I was eager to get off and stay off the streets. I knew they would be looking for me.
I got the bus to Greyhound station on 8th Ave. I wasn't really sure where I would go after that. I guess I would know when I saw the list of destinations.
When I arrived at the station, I saw a bus to Seattle listed of one of the buses due to depart. I still didn't know my plan, but I figured if I got close to home then there would maybe be someone from my past who I could get in contact with. At least I hoped there was.
I went to the ticket office and bought my ticket. I just had enough money to cover the cost as long as I didn't want to eat for the three days it would take to get there.
I only started to relax when the bus pulled away from the station, and we made our way out of the city.
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