Chapter Twenty-Two

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So, none of this is mine. I wrote the first chapter for a contest and now, I'm expanding it. What I own ... a condo and too many books. What I don't ... Twilight and all its characters.

We had some citrusy times. Edward and Bella got their swerve on. Bum-chicka-wow-wow. We also prepared for Edward's birthday, which will be celebrated in the next chapter, but got some troubling news and a reappearance of Royce, ugh. Anyway, we're going to celebrate Edward's birthday and have Bella's bridal shower. Plus, we're getting closer to the climax.

Chapter Twenty-Two

EPOV

I held Bella closely as we went to bed that night. The reappearance of Royce King and the information from Billy regarding Colin, his information about Stephan, Royce and Marcus's alliance, was incredibly troubling. War was coming. A massive war among rival families. Three families against one ... Volturi, Romani and King all against the Cullens.

Who would come out victorious?

Who would pay the ultimate price?

Fuck me.

I buried my nose into Bella's hair, inhaling its soft strawberry vanilla fragrance. She sighed, twining her fingers with mine. "Love you, Mobward," she mumbled, almost incoherently.

"Love doesn't even come close," I whispered, tightening my hold around her body. She snuggled closer and slid her leg between mine. I cradled her to my body and tried to get some sleep, but it eluded me. I'd be worthless today at work, but at least I was able to get some questions answered with Billy and about Royce. Also, in some weird way, I was relieved that Rosalie was still alive. Those pictures, photo shopped to look like Bella, were of Rosalie and I was terrified that Royce had killed her. I hated her guts, but she was, at one point, a member of our family.

A hated member, but still a member.

When my alarm went at o'dark thirty, Bella groaned and tried to burrow deeper in our covers. I hit the snooze and held her close, reveling in the perfection that was Isabella Swan. I idly traced her back, looking down at her slumbering face. Her lips were pouted and her face was completely relaxed, content. However, when the alarm went off again, her nose wrinkled. "That's the worst sound. Ever."

"Sorry, dolce," I said, kissing her forehead. Her eyes blinked open and they were glazed over, unfocused from being disturbed. "Someone's grumpy."

"Someone hasn't slept, either," she chided, tracing dark circles under my eyes. "You are ... you're going to worry yourself into an early grave, Edward. I kind of like having you around, bub. Don't go anywhere. I'm fine. Alice is fine. Jacob takes amazing care of us."

"I know he does, but I hate that it's been ... that we're forced to have you under protective guard, twenty-four/seven," I grumbled. "It shouldn't be that way. As chauvinistic as it sounds, the world of the mafia is very ... it's all about the men. Women are revered, protected and loved, not targeted."

"As you've said, numerous times," she said, sitting up and straddling my waist. She was wearing a button-down shirt, falling off her shoulder, revealing the swell of her breast. "This sucks. I get it. Royce, Stephan and Marcus? They're all fucktards. But, we can't let this force us how to live our life, Edward. You need to go to 'work,' taking over the city, one investment at a time."

"I know I want to make a deposit," I purred.

"Hmmm, what kind?" she asked, a sly grin spreading over her beautiful face.

"I think you know," I answered, unbuttoning the shirt and cupping her breasts. She kissed me hungrily while I tore her panties from her body and shimmied my boxer briefs over my hips. She sank over me, a choked whimper coming from her. Our bodies moved sinuously, sharing the love we had for each other. Her hands tangled in my hair as I whispered words of love, in Italian. She sobbed when her body reacted, clenching around me. "That's it, baby. You're so fucking beautiful when you come." Her orgasm triggered mine and I spilled my release deep within her. She slumped against me, her lower muscles still clinging around me. "I love you, Bella. You are ... you're everything to me."

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