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Best Laid Schemes

Summary:
Edward is desperate to keep Bella away from La Push and specifically away form Jacob Black. Much to Edward’s dismay, Bella made her move while he was busy hunting and went to see Jacob. Now Edward and Alice have devised a scheme that is sure to thwart Bella’s wayward travels in the future.


Notes:
On a whim and suffering from an acute case of writers block, I pulled one of my previously posted stories, The Best Laid Plans (available on Ramblings and Thoughts), off the shelf in my search for inspiration. What I found was Edward impatiently tapping his foot awaiting my return. It seems I had forgotten to include some details he wanted my readers to know about when I wrote the story originally. He demanded, as only Edward can, that I revise the tale to such an extent that I had to retitle it. The fact that I made omissions did not surprise me. I am, by nature, an impatient writer. My brain sees the stories much faster than my fingers can fly over the keyboard and some details get missed in my headlong rush to the end. (Just ask my betas.) I like to think of “Schemes” as a variation of the original story much like an artist may do multiple variations of a single subject. Most of the changes are subtle but there are some new scenes and significant details added to others. If you have read the original (it’s still available because I couldn’t bear to take it down) feel free to compare. If you have not read it and are desperate to find out how the story ends, well, I can’t stop you from “reading ahead” as it were but if you can, be patient, you will be rewarded with a stronger, richer story. Best Laid Schemes will be posted very quickly as it is finished. I hope you enjoy “Best Laid Schemes” as much as I enjoyed revisiting one of my personal favorites. Many thanks to Tennyo, my very patient beta. Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.


3. Chapter 3 ~ Roadblocks ~

Rating 3.5/5   Word Count 2032   Review this Chapter

Staying mad at Bella for very long was impossible. She knew how to get to me and knock the wind out of my sails. The irony was, she didn’t even seem to realize just how much power she had over me. When she accused me of being jealous, the realization of that awful truth hit me full in the face. If I had ever been jealous of Mike Newton or Tyler Crowley that had been nothing compared my jealousy of Jacob Black. She had not given either of those human boys a second thought, but that mangy mutt was another matter. He was in love with her, and she cared about him. I suspected that she might even love him but was afraid to admit it to herself, let alone to me. Her claim that she was neutral - Switzerland - made no sense. She was going to have to make a choice, whether she liked it or not. I could not abide sharing her with a mutant wolf, of all creatures, in any way, shape or form.

I had to find a way of preventing her from going back to La Push without her realizing that I was putting up roadblocks. “Out of sight, out of mind” as the old adage says. If she did not see Jacob Black, then the odds were better that she would get over him I reasoned. But we were talking about Bella here. The other saying was truer for her if history is any indicator; “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” She certainly had not gotten over me in my absence, so how could I possibly consider that she would get over Jacob? Still, I selectively chose to ignore that second adage.

Roadblocks. I thought about them all the way home from Bella’s. More often than not, they merely sent the traveler on a more circuitous rout. What I wanted was an obstacle that would prevent any means of passage to her desired destination. Any conceivable thing that would keep Bella from going to La Push was a happy distraction. If only they could all be as simple as disabling her truck had been. Sure, she had been mad at me. By all rights, she should have locked me out of her room that night, but she had quickly forgiven me my transgression. It was the only incident I had felt a twinge of guilt over since returning to Forks . . . until now. Of course, that paled in comparison to the guilt I harbored for abandoning Bella after her birthday, but her ability to forgive was beyond my comprehension. But, then again, there was so much I didn’t understand about her . . . especially the way I was irrevocably drawn to her. I had never needed anything, let alone anyone, as much as I needed her. I was incomplete without her. It was a wonder to me how one, seemingly insignificant human could hold so much command over me. Rational thought had no meaning where Bella was concerned.

My greater fear was not that Bella would not forgive me, but that the more she saw Jacob, the deeper she was going to become committed to him. She felt that she owed the fleabag something. Why couldn’t she just accept the help he had given her in my absence as an unconditional gift, no strings attached? Life was sure to become more complicated if she were to spend time with Jacob.

Alice was waiting for me when I pulled the Volvo into the garage. Her face was grim and her thoughts rapid. “Bella disappeared briefly right after you left Charlie’s” I felt the muscles in my neck and shoulders tighten. The urge to run back to Bella’s and demand an explanation was over whelming. “Bella is back in my sight now, Edward. She wasn’t gone for very long. I think she must have called Jacob.” Alice met my gaze before continuing, “She disappears again next Saturday.”

Leaving Forks on Saturday was suddenly no longer an option. I was, however, getting dangerously thirsty. I couldn’t afford to put off hunting for much longer. The truth was, I couldn’t put it off at all. The burn in my throat was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. Despite my resolve not to hurt Bella, I was putting her and every other human in a ten-mile radius at risk by not feeding as I should. “Alice, would Carlisle be able to rearrange his work schedule in order to move the trip to Lassen up by a couple of days? I don’t think that Emmett or Jasper will have a problem with that.”

Alice gave me a wink as she closed her eyes, and then her expression became distant and dreamy. In moments a smile graced her lips, and then it turned into a grin. “Carlisle will be able to change his schedule, and Emmett and Jasper are fine with moving the date up. Your plan is going to work as well.” Alice’s eyes were sparkling with mischief now. “Bella won’t be happy about it though. You might want to be prepared for a grizzly when you return, but she will forgive you. Just one thing: no one will go along with kidnapping her if they know about this. It will only work if everyone thinks that Bella was in on the planning.”

“Hmm,” a growl rumbled in my chest as I mulled this over. I was grateful that Alice was not speaking her side of the conversation as I regarded her. Keeping secrets was usually not a good idea, or even accepted within our family but this was one plan we had to conceal. I would do it for the assurance that Bella would be safe. “You don’t seem to have a problem with this.”

“Oh no, it will keep Bella safely away from La Push. Once she gets over the initial shock, we’re going to have a great time! I’ll persuade Esme to call Charlie to make everything look legitimate.” Alice was practically dancing now. “I’ve always wanted to have a slumber party! I’ll give her a pedicure. Maybe I’ll even take her on a run down to LA in the Porsche,” Alice’s thoughts chirped with glee.

My voice was thick with suspicion. “What Porsche?”

“Why, the yellow 911 you’re going to give me for babysitting Bella every time you need to leave, Silly.” Alice could barely contain her excitement. Her vision was so clear it could not questioned.

I obviously had some shopping to do.

Carlisle, Emmett and Jasper were surprisingly sympathetic when I approached them about moving the trip up to Thursday. I explained to them that it would be easier on Bella, because this way she would not have as much free time to fill. It was reasonable that school and work would take up most of the slack in time during my absence and Alice would happily distract her for the remaining hours. By all appearances, the plan seemed perfectly reasonable and most importantly, innocent.

Thursday found me as nervous as a cat. Being away from Bella was always nerve-shattering. This time was even worse than usual. There was so much at stake, and many more miles than had been between us since our return from Italy.

When I dropped Bella off at Newton’s after school, I was careful not to promise to see her later. I hoped that she didn’t detect the desperation in my kiss before she got out of the car. The warmth of her lips pressed to mine would have to sustain me until I returned. It took every ounce of self-control I had not to kiss her with the full passion I usually did before I went hunting. It was necessary to keep appearances casual, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I could not risk her detecting anything unusual. We were leaving as soon as I got home.

Emmett just shook his head when I insisted that we take two cars. My explanation was probably the only honest thing I’d told my father and brothers since they’d agreed to move the trip up. I wanted to be able to get home fast if I needed to, without making them cut their hunting trip short.

It was good being able to drive the Aston Martin again. Its velvety ride was a pleasure I did not get to enjoy as often as I would have liked. I left the Volvo behind for Alice to use in my absence. She had wanted to drive the shiny yellow Porsche 911 I’d gotten her as a thank you for her help, but there was a stipulation: that she not drive it around Forks. Both of us were relieved when the rest of the family had presumed that it was a very early Christmas present. They all knew about the promise I had made to Alice when we returned from Italy.

Carlisle insisted that Jasper ride with me to help settle my nerves while he and Emmett rode in the Jeep. On most trips Emmett and I usually enjoyed traveling together, but I was actually glad not to be with him for the long drive. He would have only been ribbing me the whole 668 miles to the area just beyond Mount Lassen that we were going to.

Jasper’s calming affect kept me in check. My confidence in the plan rose - thanks in part to his presence, even though he did not know the particular details. I was confident that Alice would have Bella well under control and most importantly, safe. There was still the usual anxiety of separation, but at least it was well restrained.

* * * * *

Separation, always too long, but the reunions were sweet. What would it be like this time when Bella awoke?

Bella finally turned in her sleep. Quickly, I shed my sodden shirt and replaced it with a soft sweater before reaching for her. No sense in exacerbating her anger by waking her prematurely. Exercising more than the usual caution, I gently lifted her from the couch and eased her onto the bed. Under normal circumstances I would not have been overly concerned about my icy skin touching hers, but there would be nothing normal about this reunion. It was obvious even as she slumbered that she was exhausted. I longed to feel her warm body pressed against mine, the fire of her fingers running through my hair. I wanted to melt into her embrace. Would that I could feel her embrace again. To be held again in her smoldering arms was now a distant fancy.

The room was in deep shadow again. The clouds had reclaimed the portion of the sky that the moon had inhabited. The darkness fit my mood. I had been so certain of my place in Bella’s life until now. It had become painfully obvious that Jacob Black had a place there too. The very notion of sharing her was reprehensible, but the alternative was even worse. I now understood that she would not, maybe even could not, abandon her affections for Jacob willingly. She had every right to leave me over of what I had done. I should never have kidnapped her.

Bella’s quiet breathing had a soothing affect on my frayed nerves after the agony of being away from her for the last two days. As I continued to contemplate everything that had happened, everything that had gone wrong, I began to see that I had greatly underestimated her. I had been so focused on my needs; my wants and even my own insecurities, that I had forgotten that she had similar issues. She had done what she needed to do. She had found a way to be with Jacob Black. It had never been within my rights to prevent her. Carlisle, Jasper and Emmett had made that point very clear to me.

I was beginning, only just beginning, to understand my place in the life of this beautiful, complex woman.