Summary: Edward Cullen is the heir-apparent to the most infamous crime families in Chicago. He was notorious for his time with his enemies, his many dates and his ruthless skill in the board room, the front for the illicit dealings of the Cullen Crime Consortium. However, to take over the family, his father reminded him about the stipulation that Edward needed to be married. Edward hated that stipulation, but he agreed to it and he had less than a year to make it a reality.
Isabella Swan is a struggling graduate student, working as a waitress in a local diner, The Swan Dive. On a chance meeting, Edward finds Bella to be enchanting and the perfect woman to marry. He makes an indecent proposal, suggesting marriage and paying for Bella’s tuition, and then some. Will Bella accept his proposal, with the possibility of having her dreams come true, but married to a sexy, enigmatic rich businessman? Or will she figure out the truth, that her future-husband is Married to the Mob?
Disclaimer: All things Twilight belong solely to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended
Married to the Mob
“Clean up on aisle six,” I deadpanned, looking at the poor schmoe that I’d offed. His brains were scattered along the back wall of the dingy warehouse. I’d found out that he was trying to skim off some of the profits from numerous gun sales in the city and selling to kids.
That’s a no-no.
Yes, I’m a part of the mob, but selling to kids was never a good thing.
“Jas, you got this?” I asked.
“I’ve got a crew on the way, boss,” he said, smiling widely. Jasper was my right-hand man/bodyguard. Not that I needed one. I was the best shot in my family. “You were awesome, Edward. Mid-sentence and then, bam! He never saw it coming.”
“Yeah, well,” I shrugged. “Make sure that this is cleaned up and I’ll see you back at the office. I need to work off some aggressions. His revelations pissed me off.” I said as I gestured to the mess on the floor. I stuffed my gun back into my holster, leaving the warehouse. I drove to one of my long-time fuck-buddies, Kate. I fucked her for an hour, losing myself in her tight pussy and her breathless moans. When I was done, I felt much calmer and could start my day.
My legit business.
Yeah, I lived a double life.
By day, I was a businessman, a multi-millionaire, a real-estate mogul and venture capitalist. It was the cover for my less-than-stellar, highly illegal night job as the heir-apparent for the Cullen Crime Consortium. We dabbled in a lot of things, but our main focus was selling guns and drugs. My father, Carlisle Cullen, was the head of the family. He took over after his father, and my namesake, Edward Cullen, Sr., was killed by Aro Volturi, our arch nemesis. We took revenge, killing Aro. His moronic grandson, Marcus, took over and things had not been the same for the Volturi since. However, we kept a close eye on their dealings. Marcus tended to partner with people smarter than him.
I stopped at my penthouse apartment, changing out of black clothing and showering. I put on a crisp grey suit, driving to Cullen Towers and riding up to my lavish penthouse office. Angela, my personal assistant, was waiting at the elevator. “Mr. Cullen, I’m so glad you’re here.” She handed me my coffee and walked with me. “We’ve had several offers on that large building on the near-north.”
“Any full-price offers?” I asked, tossing my briefcase onto the leather sofa.
“No, sir,” she said, wrinkling her nose. “The closest offer is almost two-hundred thousand dollars below asking price.”
“Let me see,” I said, taking the files from her hands. I read them, scanning the offers. “Counter the most expensive offer, meet them halfway and reach out to them about their business plan for this club they want to offer. See if they want an investor. The idea sounds intriguing.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, grinning. “You’ve got a ten o’clock meeting with a prospective client, wanting to sell their restaurant and relocate to a bigger, better location. Then, you have a late lunch with your father at one. He said you cannot cancel. It’s imperative you meet with him. His words, exactly.”
“Fuck,” I growled.
“You have a strict nonfraternization policy, Mr. Cullen,” Angela quipped. “And I’m married.”
“You’re hysterical, Ang,” I snorted. She smirked. “Anything after lunch with dear old dad?”
“A couple of showings, but I can reassign them to one of your junior associates,” Angela nodded.
“Do that, Angela. You know how I get after I meet with Daddy dearest,” I sighed. “Thanks.”
She gave me a curt smile, darting out of the office and I loaded up my laptop. I looked over several business plans, seeing if any of them had merit for me to provide capital as an investor. Shortly before ten, my clients came and I met with them. We discussed selling their current restaurant and purchasing a larger space to expand their business to include catering. They already had an offer on a building, but needed help selling their current location. I took them on as clients, sending them to the restaurant with my younger brother, Emmett.
“Edward, don’t forget your lunch with your father,” Angela called over the intercom. “It’s nearly one.”
“Thanks, Angela,” I said, grabbing my cell phone. I rode down to the basement, hopping into the limousine that was waiting for me. Inside the limo, sat my father. “Hello, Carlisle.”
“Edward,” he said, arching a brow. We kissed cheeks, settling into the leather seats. “I see that Angela got you to meet with me. You should give that girl a raise.”
“I pay her more than enough, Carlisle,” I said. “Now, what is so important that you have to schedule time with my personal assistant?”
“Let’s get to the restaurant. I’ve rented out Alinea so we could speak in private,” Carlisle said, smirking. I huffed out a breath, scowling like a sullen teenager, not the thirty-five-year-old man I was. Arriving at the restaurant, we were led into a private dining room. We didn’t order. My father must have already ordered for us. Once we sat down, a bottle of wine was delivered along with the first course. “Your mother wanted to come, but she was planning some charity event. Besides, I thought it would be best if we spoke privately.”
“What’s this about, Dad?” I asked, sipping my wine.
“To be blunt, I want to retire,” Carlisle said. “I’m not as young as I used to be. I’m exhausted of looking over my shoulder and I’m ready to pass on the reins to you. But, your great-grandfather said the leader of our family needed to be married. How is that going?”
“Marriage? It’s not,” I snorted. “Dad, the last girlfriend I had was Maggie when I was in high school. And that wasn’t even that serious.”
“Edward, you are the strongest man I know, but I have to abide by the rules,” Carlisle said. “I want to retire within a year. If you’re not married by that time, Emmett will become the leader of the family, despite him being younger than you. He’s married to Rosalie.”
“Rosalie is a bitch,” I growled. “Their marriage isn’t a happy one.”
“It doesn’t have to be. All that matters is that our family line is protected. You being married would ensure the possibility of you having a child, Edward. We can’t have the Cullen line die with you,” Carlisle said. “And it doesn’t have to be a happy marriage. You just have to be married.”
“This isn’t the Victorian era where marriages are arranged. People can be happy without having someone else attached to them,” I snarled. “I’m happy with my life. I don’t want to be married.”
“I want you to lead this family, Edward Anthony. I named you after my father, a strong, good man. You were destined to lead us into a new era. The men look up to you, respect you,” Carlisle said. “Though, I don’t see how. You’re disrespectful to your elders. I am, for now, the boss of this family and your father. I should be followed, not snarled at, you insolent brat.”
“My apologies,” I said, glowering at my wine. “I just don’t see why being married is such a big deal. I could knock some woman up and you’d get your heir. Problem fucking solved.”
“That child wouldn’t bear your name. It would be a bastard,” Carlisle scoffed. “An illegitimate child. My half-brother, Stephan, who is older than me, never had a chance of being the leader of this family because of Papa’s indiscretion. I don’t want the same mistake to happen to you.” He tucked into his salad. “One year, Edward.”
“Just to be married?” I asked. “I don’t have to have a baby or anything?”
“Just married,” he replied. “And you can’t choose any of the Denali sisters. They’re too closely related to the Volturi.”
“They’re good in bed, but not for marriage,” I shuddered. “I have better taste than that.” I sullenly poked at my salad while Dad prattled on about the latest shipment of guns and ammo that were delivered from Russia, from his contact in the Russian Bratva. Then, he moved on to the charity event that my mother, Esme, was hosting for some politician. Our money was so entrenched in the corruption in Chicago that the police ignored our wrong-doings. We were fine upstanding citizens in their eyes, but the men in the Cullen family were anything but.
We were ruthless, cold-blooded killers. I had killed at least twenty men – all of them monsters, thieves and thugs – in my twenty years being an active member of the family. I had called for more than a hundred hits on other men who threatened my family. My father? Easily four times of what I had done, if not more. He’d personally taken it upon himself to assassinate Aro with his father’s own gun, making him suffer. Carlisle wasn’t only a killer, he was sadistic and cruel.
But, never to his family.
Well, maybe to his brother, Stephan. He was a douche. He was extremely bitter that he was passed over as leader of the family due to the whole illegitimate kid thing. None of us trusted him, but you know the old adage? Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer? Stephan fell into the enemy category.
“Edward, did you hear anything I said?” Carlisle asked, snapping in my face. “You space out and you’re dead.”
“Sorry. You drop this bombshell that I need to be married in a year. I’ve got a lot on my mind,” I hissed. Carlisle pursed his lips, glaring at me. “It’s true!”
“Regardless, you need to keep your head and mind sharp, Edward. I want you to lead this family. You’re strong, level-headed and exactly what we need for this family. Emmett, I love him, but he’s in no shape to head up this family. He’s not as cunning as you. He’s too soft,” Carlisle murmured.
I bit back a retort. Emmett was softer than me. He was molded into a respectable businessman. He could shoot a gun, kill a traitor, but he would be sick for days afterward. “I get it, Dad.”
“I know you do,” he sighed. “Look, you’ve got one year and then I’ll be passing along the reins to either you or your brother. I’d rather it be you because you have the stomach for this life.” He held up his hand, gesturing for the waitress, asking for the check. “As I was saying while you were spacing out, your mother expects you to be at this charity event. It’s two weeks from tomorrow. Black tie and bring a respectable date. Kate’s too stupid. Irina is not feminine enough and Tanya?”
“She’s a slut. I know,” I growled exasperatedly. “I’ll find someone. Maybe she’ll be my fiancée.” Carlisle made a face. “Kidding, Dad.” He paid for our meal. We went out and walked to the waiting limo, waiting for me. “I’m going to walk, Dad. I need some air.”
“That’s not smart, Edward. You’re not protected,” Carlisle frowned.
I pointed across the street. In a nondescript sedan, Jasper waved. “I’m covered.” With a hug and a kiss, we parted ways. The limo drove off and I turned on my heel, walking in the opposite direction to my favorite restaurant. Alinea was a total fancy restaurant, but left me starving. The servings were so tiny, and not for muscular men, like me. I wanted a steak, French fries and a milk shake. The only place that had all that in spades was The Swan Dive.
“You’re late, Swan,” barked Jimmy. He was my uncle and owned the family restaurant, The Swan Dive. “Just because you’re my niece doesn’t mean you get preferential treatment.”
“Sorry! I had to talk to one of my professors about an upcoming assignment, Uncle Jimmy. I’ll make up for at the end of my shift,” I said, throwing on an apron after I clocked in.
“Yeah, yeah,” he chuckled and giving me an indulgent grin, waving his metal tongs. “Vicky needs her break, Bella.”
I grumbled under my breath. “On it, Uncle Jimmy.” Vicky took more breaks than she worked. Vicky was Jimmy’s live-in girlfriend. She wanted to get married, but Jimmy saw what marriage did his older brother and my father, Charlie. When my dad died of cancer, Jimmy called it a blessing in disguise. My incubator couldn’t bleed him dry anymore from the divorce decree. Instead, she was trying to bleed me dry. That’s why I was stuck working in the diner so I could pay for my graduate degree, along with attorney fees since my mother was contesting my father’s will, even six years after he died.
“You’re a good girl, Bella,” Jimmy smiled.
“I’m the shit,” I snorted. I relieved Vicky, who flounced into the office. I took over her tables, serving them with a smile and using my downtime to work on some of my reading assignments for my master’s degree in psychology. I wanted to work with kids. I spent time at local homeless shelters, providing assistance to kids who didn’t have that support structure. This was in addition to a full-time course load and working almost forty hours at The Swan Dive.
Sleep was a luxury that I didn’t have. The last full-night’s sleep I had was in 2012.
There was a jangle of the bells above the door. “Have a seat anywhere open,” I said, closing my textbook. I swiped a menu and saw one of the regulars, but he stuck out like a sore thumb. This man was always impeccably dressed, with a mess of bronze hair that looked like someone had ran their fingers through it while they fucked. His eyes were the most alluring shade of emerald green, shining against his pale skin. Vicky usually took care of him since she thought he was hot and he tipped well. Her loss was my gain. Sweet! “Welcome to The Swan Dive. I’m Bella, can I get you something to drink?” I asked as he sat at the counter.
“Stella Artois,” he answered, his voice smooth like velvet. It was deep and resonant, exuding a great deal of power. Not to mention, it made my panties wet. Damn. I got him his beer, pouring it into a glass. “Thank you, Bella.”
“You’re welcome,” I smiled. “Do you need some time or are you ready to order?”
He stared at me, a crooked grin ghosting over his handsome features. “I’m ready to order.” I took out my pad of paper, waiting expectantly for him to order from me. “You’re gorgeous, Bella.”
“Um, well, thank you, sir,” I stammered. “But, I’m not on the menu.”
“My name is Edward,” he said, sipping his beer. “Say it, Bella.”
“What would like to order, Edward?” I asked, compelled to try out his name on my lips. His smile widened and his entire face lit up. My heart fluttered against my ribs as I felt my face flush.
“You really are gorgeous, Bella. It’s a shame that you aren’t on the menu. I’d devour you,” he purred, his voice deepening and making me think naughty things about this sexy man. When was the last time you got laid, Bella? “When do you get off?”
Excuse me? “Not until midnight, Edward,” I chuckled, trying to keep it cool. “Order?”
“I’ll wait for you to finish your shift,” he beamed. “And I’ll take a sirloin with fries and a salad.”
“How do you want your steak cooked?” I asked, my face flaming at his attention. Guys like him don’t talk to girls like me. I’m as plain as they come and he’s a freaking Greek god in a thousand-dollar suit.
“Medium rare,” he smirked.
“Got it,” I said, trying to calm my blush. “What kind of dressing do you want on your salad?”
“Surprise me,” he said, handing me back the menu. “And I mean it about waiting.” His eyes swept over me, licking his lips. “I want to get to know you, beautiful.”
Before I could respond, Jimmy barked that an order was up. I smiled, darting to the window and traying up the meal for the family in the corner booth. I put their meals onto their table. I ordered Edward’s meal, watching as Vicky came out of the office and flirted with him relentlessly. He was stiff, trying to move away and if she cost me my tip, I was going to be pissed. I grabbed a salad, covering it with some ranch dressing. I put it in front of Edward. “Here you go,” I smiled.
“I told you that I was being taken care of, Vicky,” Edward said, his voice cold. “I want her to be my server.”
“Bella’s only part-time,” Vicky said, leaning forward.
“No, I’m not. I work more than you,” I snorted. “Vicky, stop trying to trade up. Uncle Jimmy loves you.”
“Not enough to marry me,” she snarled. “Ungrateful brat.” She sneered at me, stomping to the back office. I heard her and Uncle Jimmy screaming at each other in the kitchen. There was a loud bang and Uncle Jimmy yelled in frustration.
“Sorry about that,” I frowned.
“I’m definitely not leaving now,” he said, his voice not as cold, but still tinted with anger. Despite the tone of his voice, his eyes were soft and swirling with concern. “I want to talk to you. I know you don’t me from Adam, but …” he trailed off, reaching for my hand and taking it between his own. His skin was warm, soft. I felt an electric current travel through my body. I shuddered.
“Miss? Can we get some more ketchup?” asked the man in the corner booth.
“Be right there,” I replied. “Excuse me.” He wouldn’t let go of my hand. He kept his eyes locked on mine, his thumb caressing the underside of my wrist. “I need my hand, Edward.”
“I suppose,” he said, winking at me flirtatiously. He let go and I stumbled away. This man was dangerously sexy and I was definitely attracted to him. Looking at him as I put the ketchup on the table, I was turned on and intrigued by him. It was his deep, seductive voice, the lithe body underneath the expensive suit and the swirling green of his eyes.
Definitely attracted and intrigued.
I ate my steak, watching as the beautiful brunette, Bella, worked tirelessly in the diner. The redhead that had normally served me never came back. I was grateful for that. Vicky made me uncomfortable. She looked at me like I was her meal ticket. Everything about Vicky screamed whore, but Bella? She seemed smart, classy and sexy. Her thick chocolate colored hair was pulled into a demure ponytail, curled at the ends. Her eyes were the color of espresso beans and were very expressive. She was petite with curves in all the right places. If I stood up, she’d fit right underneath my chin. Her skin was translucent and had the most alluring blush.
Talk about going soft. You’re turning into a poet, describing this girl. Yes, she’s gorgeous, but you need her for this marriage arrangement.
As midnight neared, Bella gave me my bill. I’d ordered my milkshake and some pecan pie that Bella said she’d made. She could bake, that was for certain. I paid cash, giving her an amazing tip. “You didn’t have to wait for me, Edward,” Bella said, hanging up her apron.
“It’s late, beautiful,” I said. “It looks like Jimmy left and I don’t want you to be walking the streets by yourself. He’s your Dad?”
“Uncle,” she said, a frown gracing her features. “My dad died from cancer just before I graduated from high school. Uncle Jimmy took me in when my incubator decided to be trouble.” She put on a fleece, grabbing a backpack and book from underneath the counter. I took the backpack from her, slinging it over my shoulder. “Edward, I can carry my own bag.”
“Not with me,” I said, taking the book from her hands. “Adolescent psychology? In college?”
“Graduate degree. I’m getting my masters,” she explained. “I want to work with kids. You can only do so much with an undergraduate degree. To move ahead, I need to get my masters. Once I get settled, I’ll get my doctorate. I need money to do that. I’m up to my ears in debt. My dad’s life insurance policy paid for undergrad, but …” She trailed off. “I don’t know why I’m telling you my troubles. I’m sorry. I’ll shut up.”
“Don’t censor yourself, Bella,” I smiled, guiding her out of the diner. She locked the front door and pulled down the metal gate, locking it. Parked on the street was my Aston Martin. I’d sent a text to Jasper, asking him to drop it off while I waited for her. “I’ll drive you home.”
“Is this yours?” she breathed, her eyes wide, staring at my midnight blue, that almost appeared black, car.
“A birthday present,” I chuckled, helping her into the passenger seat with my hand lingering in hers longer than polite. I put her bag into the trunk, jogging to the driver’s side. “Where to, Miss Bella?”
“I’m afraid that your car may get pinched in my neighborhood,” she said, shooting me a sheepish smile. “Don’t worry about it. Just drive me to the el.”
“Full service, Bella. To your door,” I said, arching a brow. “I want to get to know you.”
“I’m a nobody,” she deadpanned. “I’m a poor graduate student. You’re obviously important with the expensive car and a suit worth more than my tuition.”
“You’re not a nobody,” I said, pulling away from the curb and reaching over the console, taking her tiny hand in mine. I twined my fingers with hers and it felt nice. It had been forever since I held a woman’s hand. I was more comfortable dismantling a gun or shooting enemies and asking questions later. Bella, much to my surprise, traced the veins on the top of my hand as I drove to her apartment. She didn’t live in the safest neighborhood and my hackles went up. “Why don’t you still live with your uncle?”
“Because I’m twenty-four and I didn’t want a reminder that he’s getting laid more than me,” she said, giving me a wry grin. “He and Vicky aren’t exactly quiet.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, squeezing her hand.
“This was all I could afford, but it’s mine,” she blushed. I parked my car, helping Bella out of the car. We walked up the rickety stairs and I tried to hide my distaste. “I know it’s not much. You don’t have to do this.”
“Oh, yes. I do,” I said, looking down at her. Hidden behind her eyes was shame at her situation, but she was dealing with it as best as she could. I traced my finger down her cheek. She leaned into my palm, her eyes fluttering shut. With a sigh, she pulled away and unlocked her door. Inside, it was homey and an extension of Bella’s personality, colorful and funky. Well, an extension of the personality I’d seen while I watched her for the six hours I was at the diner. She was friendly, quick with a smile and open to her customers, teasing with her uncle and flirtatious with me. But, it wasn’t an overt flirtatiousness. It was subtle, with a smile or extra attention. “I like it.”
“Thank you,” she said, tossing her bag onto the couch. “Do you want something to drink? Another Stella? Some wine?”
“I’d like to take you out on a date,” I said, sitting down and crossing my legs at the ankles. “And you don’t need to serve me, Bella. Sit, please?”
“I’m going to get some water,” she spluttered, her cheeks turning the most delicious pink. I heard her puttering in the kitchen, coming back a few moments later and curling up next to me. “Before I agree to a date, Edward … a few questions.”
“Anything, beautiful. I’m an open book,” I said. Well, mostly.
“First off, what’s your last name?” she giggled.
“Cullen,” I said, moving her closer and idly playing with her fingers. “I work at Cullen Industries, where we have a lucrative real estate agency and investment group. I’m the CEO.”
“A CEO,” she said slowly. “Wow.”
“Not really,” I smirked. “I work hard, but the company runs itself. My great-grandfather started it all.” I raised her hand, kissing her wrist. She bit her lip, squirming on the couch. “You okay?”
“You are quite the flirt, Mr. Cullen,” she said. “Do you woo all of your women this way?”
“Nope. Only you, beautiful,” I answered honestly. I would never act this way with the Denali sisters. They served one purpose. Something about Bella intrigued me, made me want to get to know her. To protect her.
My pocket vibrated and I slipped out my phone. One of our guys was found dead. We found the doer, we need you ~ Em. I quickly responded before putting it back into my pocket. “I would love to stay, Bella, but I need to go. Before I do, I need to know … can I take you out on a date?”
“Yes,” she said. I leaned forward, brushing my lips with hers. She gasped and I felt something travel through me. “When?”
“Tomorrow night,” I said, cupping her face and running my thumb along her plump lip. “Wear something sexy.”
“I don’t sleep with men on the first date,” she said, nipping at my thumb. “As tempting as you are, we’re not having sex.”
I smiled crookedly, happy to hear that. “I just want to see you in something other than that apron and jeans, beautiful,” I purred, kissing her tempting lips. “I have to go. Tomorrow. Seven?”
“Kay,” she breathed, her mouth centimeters from mine. She leaned forward, kissing me and I bit back a groan. I pulled away, standing up and kissing her palm. “Be safe, Edward.”
“Always, beautiful,” I said, leaving her in the apartment. Emmett sent me a text with an address. I sped off. I switched cars and changed into something less formal. Getting blood stains out of suits raised too many questions. Wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt and a black leather jacket, I drove to the abandoned warehouse. I parked next to Emmett’s Jeep and swiped my favorite gun, my Desert Eagle. Inside I found Emmett, Jasper and Emmett’s bodyguard, Seth. Handcuffed to a chair was a snarling kid. “Who did he get?” I asked.
“Lewis,” Seth replied. “Got him as he was sealing a deal with one of the south side gangs. This punk won’t say anything. He just keeps growling like a rabid dog.”
“He’s just a kid, Ed,” Emmett whispered. “Barely eighteen.”
“He killed Lewis,” I said, walking over to him and glowering at him. “You killed one of my best guys.” I tugged on his greasy hair, forcing him to look at me. “What am I going to do with you?”
“Fuck you,” the kid said, spitting in my face.
“You think you’re all tough?” I asked, standing up and cracking my knuckles. I backhanded him, breaking his nose. He cursed. “Do you think we’re going to let you get away with killing Lewis?”
“He was getting in my turf,” he spat.
“And who’s turf is that?” I asked, taking out my gun and releasing the safety.
“I’m not answering you, asshole,” he said. Pulling my gun out, I shot him in the knee. He screamed. “God damn it! That was my knee!”
“Wow, you’re a fucking genius. And I’ve got thirteen more bullets,” I said, cocking the gun again, pointing at his other knee. “Who’s turf?”
“Edward,” Emmett hissed.
“Shut up, Em,” I snarled. “You can stay alive if you tell me who’s turf.”
“Why should I believe you? You’re a monster,” the kid panted.
“Says the punk-ass who killed Lewis,” I said calmly. Leveling my arm, I shot him in the other knee. He screamed again, even louder and the bitter stench of urine filled the room. I pounced on him, grabbing his face. “Do you want to live, asshole?”
“Yes,” he sobbed. “I’ll tell you.”
“I’m waiting. I’m not a patient man,” I said, glaring. I held my gun between his eyes. “Tell me!”
“I don’t know exactly, but I do know that … that …” he stammered. I cocked the hammer, my patience wearing thin.
“Edward, he’s just a kid,” Emmett growled.
“Shut the fuck up, Emmett,” I spat, shooting my brother a sneer. “A name and you get to live to see another day.”
“I don’t know! I get orders from my older brother,” the kid cried. “He told me to kill your guy because his boss told him to.”
“What’s your brother’s name?” I asked, narrowing my eyes. The punk was crying. “I need to know in case you don’t survive.”
“Embry,” he sobbed. “My brother’s name is Embry. Embry Call.”
“And what’s your name?”
“Quil,” he groaned, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Please? Please, I don’t want to die.”
“You should have thought about that before you killed Lewis,” I said, shooting my gun between his eyes. Quil’s head fell back and his sniveling stopped. I stepped back, putting my gun back into the holster. Emmett was looking away. I walked over to my brother, who was larger than me, but clearly not destined to be the leader of this family. I took his face and forced him to look at Quil. “If we’d let him live, things would have gotten a lot worse. He could have gone to the cops. He was a liability, Emmett.”
“He was a kid,” Emmett said, glaring at me.
“He was also a murderer,” I hissed.
“So are you,” Emmett snapped. “You killed a boy.”
“You’ve killed, too, Emmett,” I yelled. “We’re in one of largest mafia families. Killing is a part of our lives.” Emmett clenched his jaw, his hands in rigid fists. “I love you, Em, but this is our life. Where do you think Dad went when he had those ‘late-night meetings’?”
“I know!” he said, stepping away from me and throwing his fist into a rotting wood post. It disintegrated on impact. “I know.” He left the warehouse.
I nodded to Seth to follow him. Looking at Jasper, I sighed. “Find his brother. Bring him in and find out who is encroaching on our turf. Send our condolences for the loss of his brother. And don’t forget a cleanup crew.”
“Got it, boss,” Jasper nodded. “And Edward, you were right in killing him. If you had let him go, he could have identified you and I like you. You’re a good boss.” He took out his cell phone, tapping on the screen.
“What would Alice think?” I teased. His wife was our doctor. If we had something go wrong, Alice Whitlock would personally take care of it. “Does she know about your little man crush?”
“She does and she fully supports our bromance. She even hinted on taking the bromance a step further,” Jasper snickered. I gave him a look. He grinned goofily. “Kidding … I’m kidding. Boss, you get out of here. You look dead on your feet. When was the last time you slept?”
“Awhile. Thanks, Jas,” I said, slapping his shoulder. I blew out a breath as I looked back at Quil, seeing his dead body and blood seeping onto the ground. I said a prayer for him before ducking out. Emmett’s Jeep was still there and I saw him talking to Seth. I started to walk over to them, but Seth shook his head. Seth, like Jasper, was as close to Emmett as I was to Jasper. They had their own bromance. Emmett needed time to calm down.
I’d give him that.
I slid into my car, driving away and to my penthouse at The Pinnacle. I tossed my keys to the valet and rode up to the top floor. Stripping out of my clothes, I scoured my body before collapsing in my king-sized bed. I sent a text to Angela before I crashed, asking to make reservations at a romantic restaurant for two at seven. I also told her that I was not coming into the office.
I was exhausted. I needed to fucking sleep.
As my I drifted asleep, my mind didn’t replay the brutal murder of Quil, but of the beautiful woman that had captured my attention. Her deep, espresso-colored eyes and her mahogany tresses, remembering the soft innocent kisses. It was a better memory than snuffing the life of a teenager.
To my surprise, Uncle Jimmy didn’t give me any shit about taking tomorrow evening off. “I’m glad you have a date, Bella. You work too much. You’re too young to deal with this, sweetie,” he said. “And I could tell that the guy had stars in his eyes for you.”
“He was very charming,” I whispered. “But, I don’t know what to wear, Uncle Jimmy.”
“Wear that dress you wore to your college graduation. The navy-blue thing,” he chuckled. “Blue’s your signature color.”
“Uncle Jimmy, really?” I snickered.
“What? You looked great!” he laughed.
“Okay, I’ll wear the navy-blue cocktail dress. Have you heard from Vicky?” I asked.
“She texted me, all huffy,” he scoffed. “But, don’t worry about my nonsense. You have fun tonight, but be safe. Call me if something happens or if you don’t feel safe. I’ll have my cell phone on me at all times.”
“Thanks, Uncle Jimmy,” I whispered. “Love you.”
“Love you, too, kid,” he replied.
I hung up the phone and turned back to my paper, finishing the outline. Saving my work, I went to shower and I took care to curl my hair and apply my makeup. As I was putting on my earrings, a pair of sapphire studs that Jimmy gave me for my eighteenth birthday, there was a knock on my door. Slipping my feet into a pair of nude heels, I teetered to the door and opened it up, seeing Edward standing on my doorstep. He was holding a bouquet of lavender roses, grinning seductively. “Oh my, flowers,” I breathed. “They’re gorgeous.”
“Not as lovely as you,” he said, cupping my cheek and brushing lips against mine. My heart stammered, just like yesterday evening. Such a simple show of affection set me aflame more than any of my last boyfriends combined. He pulled back, laughing quietly. “We match.”
I looked down and saw that he was dressed in a navy suit. “We do,” I giggled. “Though, your suit probably cost more than my dress. Walmart special.”
“Regardless, it’s perfect on you, beautiful,” he said. “Do you have a jacket or a wrap? It’s quite chilly out tonight.”
I nodded, reaching for a silver pashmina and draping it over my shoulders. I swiped my purse after I put the flowers on my cocktail table. Edward twined our fingers together and led me down to his waiting car. It was a black Mercedes, complete with a driver. “Whoa.”
“Jasper is one of my closest friends and quasi-bodyguard,” he said. “There was a situation earlier today and he felt that we needed some extra protection. He’s for your safety, as well as mine.” He helped me into the backseat, sitting next to me and taking my hand, kissing my wrist. “What did you do today, Bella?”
“I had class in the morning and then I spent some time at one of the local homeless shelters, checking on my kids,” I replied. Edward’s brows shot to his hairline. “They’re not my kids, but I feel like they are my responsibility.” I blushed, biting my lip. “I can’t divulge too much, but these kids don’t have anyone. I’m there for them, as much as I can be. What about you? What did you do?”
“I took some personal time,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that our date tonight was perfect. It’s been a long time since I felt this way about a woman.”
“Why? You’re a handsome, successful man,” I said, looking at him. I knew he was older than me. I was shocked that he didn’t have a beautiful wife.
“With success, comes women who don’t want to be with me for the right reasons,” he said, his nose wrinkled. “Either they’re with me because they want a slice from the gravy train or they want the prestige of being my girlfriend. Suffice it to say, I’ve had casual relationships, but nothing serious since I was in high school, which was a long time ago.”
“And you don’t think that I’m with you for those reasons?” I asked.
“No, I don’t. I saw how you worked in the diner, how you cared for each customer, giving them the time of day,” he said, his green eyes sparkling. “You made them feel special. You certainly made my day.”
“And you made mine,” I said, reaching into my purse and pulling out most the tip he’d given me. “Normally, customers give twenty percent for excellent service. If my math is correct, this is more like two thousand percent.”
“You deserve, beautiful,” he murmured, closing my fingers around the bundle of bills. “I want to spoil you. In more ways than two.”
We arrived at Celeste, and were seated on the deck. It was heated and filled with twinkling lights. We were the only two people there. Bella was clearly shocked that we had the whole space to ourselves, but it gave us a chance to talk and to really get to know each other. She was everything that I had hoped she’d be and more. We bonded on a level that I never anticipated. I almost hated to ruin the evening with my indecent proposal.
Would it be ruined?
After we shared some dessert, I moved us to one of the overstuffed couches that overlooked the city’s skyline. “If you had one wish, what would it be, beautiful?” I asked.
“To see my dad again,” she whispered, sipping her coffee. “He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and taken too soon.”
“I’m so sorry,” I frowned. She bit her lip, crossing her legs. “And your uncle is your dad’s brother?”
“Yeah. I don’t really associate with my mom,” she shrugged. “For obvious reasons. You want to talk about a gold-digger? That would be Renee Swan. My dad wasn’t rich, but he was comfortable. She asked for a divorce when I was in sixth grade and she fought him for alimony, child support, even though I was living with him and all other nonsense. Upon my father’s death, all his worldly goods were left to me, along with his life-insurance policy. My mother contested the will and I’m still fighting that battle. If I could, I’d give her what she wanted, but I can’t. I don’t have that kind of money.”
“What if I could help you?” I suggested.
“No. She’ll keep asking for more,” Bella said, shaking her head. “I don’t want that.”
“Not with your mom, but with everything else,” I said, my own cheeks flaming. I shot a look at the door. Jasper, who had been close by, locked the doors to ensure our privacy. “Bella, what I’m going to tell you needs to stay between us. Jasper suggested that you should sign an NDA, but I trust you.”
“Okay, this is freaking me the fuck out,” she tittered.
“You’ve heard of Cullen Industries, but it’s all a guise for …” I gulped, “for the Cullen Crime Consortium. I didn’t come up with the name.” I hated it.
“What?” she asked, her nose wrinkled. “Isn’t that one of the mafia families?”
“Yes,” I said, gazing into her eyes. She narrowed her espresso-colored orbs, but didn’t respond. “Over a hundred-fifty years ago, my great-great grandfather, Antonio Masoni immigrated to the United States. Once he arrived here, he changed his name to Anthony Cullen because Italians were not well-regarded. He worked for a mafia family as an errand boy, but he worked his way up to become consigliere of the American contingent Volturi crime family. However, he wasn’t happy with how things were run. He broke away with the help of several other families, creating the Cullen Crime Consortium. His son, Edward Anthony Cullen Sr., my great grandfather moved to Chicago and we began our hold here. We opened up Cullen Industries and dabbled our hands in both legal and illegal dealings.”
“So, you’re a criminal?” she asked, her voice hard.
“Technically, yes,” I answered. “But, we do as much good as we do other things.”
“I can’t believe this,” she growled, shooting up and starting to walk away. I ran after her, stopping her. She ripped her arms from my hands. “Don’t touch me.”
“Bella, I’m sorry,” I whispered.
“I knew that you asking me out was too good to be true,” she sneered. “You expect me to lift my skirt and let you fuck me? That I’m supposed to cream my panties because you’re some huge mafia don?”
“Not yet,” I deadpanned.
“What do you mean?”
“My father, Carlisle Cullen, is still the head of the family. I’m the heir apparent, being the oldest son,” I said. “However, for me to take over as the head of the family, I have to be married.”
“So, get married,” she scoffed as she tried to move closer to the door.
“That’s where you come in,” I said, stopping her in her tracks. She eyed me dubiously. “I know that it’s our first date.”
“Our only date,” she growled.
“Bella, you are everything that I’m looking for in a wife. You’re smart, funny, sexy, and can handle my ass,” I smirked. She slugged my arm. “See?” Her eyes narrowed. “It doesn’t have to be forever. I promise you that if you do this for me, that I’ll pay for the rest of your schooling and anything else that you could ever want or need!”
“And that doesn’t scream whore,” she snapped.
“Never once did I say that you should fuck me,” I snapped back. She looked abashed, her eyes gazing at my black tie. “I’m sorry. I have a horrible temper, but I must be strong in my line of work. You show weakness and you’re fucked.”
“Surely you know someone else, someone who is familiar with your work that could do this for you,” she said, blinking back up at me. “I’m not a fucking criminal. Hell, my dad used to be a detective for Chicago PD. I value the law. I’ve never even gotten a speeding ticket.”
I’d known that. I ran a thorough background check on Isabella Swan. I knew all about her and I knew that she was the one for me. “Bella, beautiful …” I whispered, moving closer and reaching for her face. She backed away, glowering at me. “I’m not a monster.” Yes, you are. “I know that this is not what you expected.”
“No, it wasn’t,” she said.
“All that I need is for you to marry me, stay married to me for one year and then I’ll walk out of your life,” I said. “You get everything your heart desires and I’m the leader of my family.”
“Edward, you’re good-looking and incredibly charming, but I can’t accept,” she said. “I can’t.” She tossed her shawl around her shoulders and shivered. “Can I just go?”
I was dejected, but I wasn’t going to hold her against her will. “Of course. Jasper can take you home.” I reached into my jacket and handed her a card. “This has my home and cell phone number and email address. If you should reconsider …”
“I won’t,” she snapped, but she tucked the card into her purse. She stomped away and Jasper guided her away from me. My heart was shattered. This was supposed to be a simple business transaction. Why did I feel so torn?
A week passed since my date with Edward. Despite his proposal and my anger about said proposal, I couldn’t get him off my mind. I researched him, only finding information about his business dealings. Of course, his illegal activities wouldn’t be broadcast on the world-wide web. You can’t google that shit. Cullen Industries did a lot of good for the city, but I couldn’t look past what it hid.
I was walking across the quad, heading to a study group for one of my research classes. It was just past six in the evening and the campus was dim, dark. I was listening to some music on my iPod. I was almost to the library when I felt my bag being tugged. I fell back with a sharp yell. “Fuck!”
A man in a dark jacket, with dark eyes and dark hair stood over me. I felt something pressed against my neck. “You know Cullen?” he snarled.
“Who?” I asked, squirming and trying to get away. He picked me up easily, pressing me against the brick wall of one of the buildings. “Don’t hurt me!”
He glared at me, smacking my face and sending me flying. “Cullen! Edward Cullen! Do you know him?”
“Casually. He’s come into a local diner where I work,” I rambled. I was hit again, this time in the stomach. “That’s all! I swear!”
“You lie, bitch,” he snapped, pushing me against the wall and cupping my face with his hand. “I saw you get into his armored car. I followed that pussy. Tell me everything about him.”
“I don’t know anything,” I sobbed as he dug his fingers into my face. “Please! I don’t know what you want.” He growled, punching me and causing me to slump onto the ground. I saw stars, my head throbbing. Shaking my head, I got up and ran away. I caught a cab, going back to my apartment. I was barely keeping it together. Using the money that Edward had paid me as tip, I got out of the cab and went up to my apartment, seeing that the door had been busted open. My apartment had been trashed. “No! No! This …” I reached into my pocket and took out my cell phone. I wanted to call Uncle Jimmy, but this was too much. I dialed the number I’d programmed into my phone, but I never thought I’d use.
“Cullen,” he said brusquely.
“Edward,” I sobbed. “I …”
“I’m on my way, dolce,” he purred. “I’m on my way.”
“Drive. Faster,” I hissed to Jasper.
“We’re less than a minute away, boss,” Jasper whispered.
We came a screeching halt in front of Bella’s apartment building. I ran up the stairs, frantically looking for Bella. Her apartment door had been obliterated and when I stepped inside, I saw that the homey apartment had been torn to shreds. The flowers I’d purchased her, crushed on the ground and the Waterford vase smashed. I heard sobs and I walked into her bedroom, seeing Bella curled up on a mess of clothes. Her ponytail was disheveled. I saw red when I looked at her face. She had a black eye and blood coming out of her nose. I also saw a hand mark around her neck. “Dolce,” I whispered, approaching her slowly. She looked up at me, fear still lacing her gaze. “I won’t hurt you.”
“Some guy … he …” she cried. “He was asking questions about you. He …” She pressed a hand to her cheek.
I bent down, scooping her into my arms and she threw her arms around my neck. “I’ve got you, Bella,” I said, holding her close to my body. I carried her out of the apartment, catching Jasper’s eye. He nodded, saying that he’d clean up the mess. However, if I had my say, she would not be in the apartment any more. I carried her down the stairs and put her in the passenger seat. I drove away from her apartment as Seth, Emmett’s body guard and his contact at the Chicago Police Department arrived. Bella didn’t say anything to me. She was curled up in a tiny ball in the front seat, her body wracked with shivers. I pulled into the garage of my condo. “Dolce,” I said, reaching across the console. She jumped when my hand took hers. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for startling you. We’re here.”
“Where’s here?” she asked, looking at me dully.
“My home,” I said. “Please, come with me?” She nodded. I opened her door and wrapped her in my arms. She melted against me, her body still trembling. Up in my condo, Alice was waiting for us. “I don’t know what happened.”
“She got the snot beat out of her,” Alice griped. Bella shied away from her. “I’m sorry. I’m Alice. I’m your doctor for the evening. Come with me.” The two of them went back to one of the guest rooms and I busied myself in the kitchen, making hot tea and trying not to pull my hair out as I heard Bella cry. Alice came back out, putting her black doctor bag on the counter. “She’s got a mild concussion and some bruised ribs. She took a bath and then I wrapped her ribs. I swiped one of your shirts and some boxers. I also gave her a mild sedative.”
“Was she …?” I asked. “Was she raped?”
“No. Just the physical marks,” she shrugged. “Whoever did this was fucking huge and not gentle.” Alice gave me a tender smile. “You like her.”
“I do,” I murmured.
“Good. She’s a better fit for you than the Denali skanks,” she snorted. “I’ll send you my bill.”
After Alice left, I took the tea and went into the guest room. Bella was curled up in a tiny ball. She wasn’t shivering anymore. Now, she was staring blankly out the window. “Dolce?” I asked. She blinked and looked at me. “I have some tea for you.” She sat up, moving slowly. I handed it to her and she sipped it, humming in appreciation. “I have to ask. Why did you call me, Bella? You said …”
“The guy asked about you,” she said, her voice hollow. “I don’t … I couldn’t call Uncle Jimmy. I …” Tears tracked down her cheeks. I sat down, tenderly wiping them away. “I was taught that a man should never hit a woman. He hit me.”
“I know and I’m so sorry. When we find him, he will pay for what he did to you,” I said, trying to keep my voice even.
“Are you going to kill him?” she asked.
Yes. “If that’s what you want,” I answered.
“No one should die because of me,” she frowned. She yawned. “The medication that Alice gave me. It’s making me exhausted.”
“Sleep, dolce. I’ll make sure that you’re safe,” I said. She finished her tea and fell asleep. I sat next to her, brushing my fingers through her hair and wishing that I could take her pain away.
Around one in the morning, Jasper texted me and said that they found hairs, fibers and finger prints. Seth’s detective friend, Claire, was going to process it for us. Whoever broke into Bella’s apartment was sloppy. I climbed into bed with her, laying on top of the comforter. She had nightmares, crying in pain. I eventually held her in my arms until she settled. I stayed there, drifting off with this sweet, innocent girl who had been beaten up because of her association with me.
You are a fucking monster, Cullen. She’s blameless and look what happened?
Early the next morning, I woke up with a start. Bella was sitting in front of me. The bruises on her face looked worse. She was idly playing with my fingers and tracing scars that I’d had on my knuckles from various fights. “Talk to me, Bella,” I whispered.
“How many people have you killed?” she asked.
“Twenty-two,” I answered. “All of them very bad people, murderers, rapists and …”
“Have you ever killed someone who didn’t deserve it?”
“No,” I replied.
“Can you protect me? Protect my family?” she asked, her eyes looking up at me. “I don’t want to feel what I felt last night. That fear. I don’t want Uncle Jimmy to …”
“I’d die for you, Bella,” I said honestly.
“One year,” she murmured. “Married for one year.”
“After an engagement, of course,” I chuckled. “I’m the oldest son and my mom wants to plan a wedding.”
With a sigh, she eyed me and made a face. “It looks like I’m marrying into the mob.”
A/N: For those of you who read the We <3 Mobward contest entries, this was my submission and it is the first chapter in a multi-chapter story. I haven’t decided if the following chapters will be like this first chapter, in both POVs or staying with one POV per chapter. Since we ended with Edward, we’re going to switch to Bella at the start of the next chapter.
Pictures of the characters, Edward’s penthouse, his cars and his gun, along with Bella’s apartment (before it was trashed) are on my blog. You can find the link for that on my profile. I’m also on Facebook: Tufano79’s Twilight Fanfiction Appreciation. I’m also on twitter, too: tufano79.
Thanks for reading and for voting!