Chapter 20

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A/N: Thanks so much for reading/reviewing last chapter! Warms my little heart (although, it's plenty warm here in IL. Too warm for me)! I've just started writing the second to last chapter. There will be 24 chapters to this story, so we're slowly getting there.

As always, a huge thanks to my beta for unwavering patience and dealing with my dislike of commas.

We'd spent the past three days in Praia, Cape Verde, waiting for a new research vessel. Aro had been furious that the Akkiris had been severely damaged and unable to function properly. He'd spent thirty minutes, screaming at Jasper about how much this was going to cost him, and then he'd screamed about how the French government was going to be pissed. Wisely, Jasper didn't mention that the French were already upset about us not handing over the Treasured Heart and then losing it.

Aro had also demanded that we leave the site for now and return back to Miami with the artifacts and research in hand.

"Wait! He wants us to quit! But, we still have so much work to do?" Dr. T protested, and I agreed with her.

"Aro is flying in someone from the French government and is going to let them look at all the artifacts and our research. Ultimately, it will be the decision of the French on whether or not we are allowed to continue to excavate. After all, they are the ones footing the bill."

There was a flurry of protest at Jasper's words, and inside, I was fuming. It felt like Aro was blaming us for the ships catching on fire, and even though it wasn't our fault, he was still going to punish us for it.

"This is bullshit!" Emmett snarled, his hands clenched into fists. "How do we know that some other research team isn't going to come along and steal our dig site?"

"Legally, it's ours," Jasper said, trying to sound patient, but I could tell he was fighting to stay calm as he continued to answer questions that were being asked.

"Guys!" he finally yelled over all the talking. "Arguing about this isn't going to do us any good. Let's just make sure that the artifacts are packed properly and have proper documentation. We're leaving for Miami in two days."

......................

"Jesus Christ! I never thought we'd get out of there!" Emmett grumbled once we were finally through customs. We'd spent almost two hours dealing with customs and verifying all of our paperwork for the artifacts. It had been a fucking nightmare, and dealing with that after being on a plane for what felt like years, had left all of us in a bad mood.

"No kidding," Rose muttered, and I agreed with her.

"Meeting at the office in thirty," Jasper told us, and we all groaned. No rest for the weary, I guess.

"I know that we're all exhausted, but we've got work to do. We need to get these crates back to the office and catalogue them before Aro gets even more pissed," he said.

"Can we at least get something to eat first?" Emmett asked, rubbing his stomach as it rumbled loudly.

"We'll order in once we get to the office," Jasper promised.

Jasper took possession of all the crates carrying the artifacts, and we helped him load them into the van that he'd rented.

With a wave to us from both Alice and him, he took off, and the rest of us dragged our tired selves toward the area where cabs were waiting to pick up fares.

Edward, Jessica, and I grabbed a cab and were soon on our way to the office, none of us speaking much.

Technically, Edward didn't have to go to Poseidon with us since he wasn't a member of the research team, but he'd opted to go with. He was just as invested in the Sirène as the rest of us, and as far as I was concerned, he was a member of our team and just as important as the rest of us.

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