A chance encounter in her local coffee shop brings Bella's life to a grinding halt. Who is this stranger that knows things about her, she had only dreamed of ever finding out? How do they cope when they face a common enemy?
5. Chapter 4: Sulpicia
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She had been walking across the field with a massive squared book under her arm and with her shoulders squared and her delicate neck elongated which made her head seem to be held high and made her seem taller than she really was. She was a tiny little thing, always had been, and she hated it.
Edward had noticed her when she was 30 yards away. He had been wandering about the compound, discussing strategies with Sgt Whitlock and trying to distance himself from his obnoxious bunkmates.
When she finally met up with the two wandering soldiers, she’d been completely occupied with her thoughts and subsequently her mission that she didn’t initially noticed the tall blond stranger standing slightly next to her brother. When she did notice him, her breath caught in her throat and she fumbled to form the words that had occupied her mind seconds before.
He had never seen her flustered. It was slightly disturbing yet mostly amusing to experience his otherwise omniscient and bright sister speechless.
Edward had goaded her at first, before she had collected herself and brought the severity of the situation down upon him. Sgt Whitlock did initially offer to go through with the mission – after all he was the more experienced of the two and was of a higher rank than Edward – but Alice, his sister, had insisted that Edward would be the one to go through with the mission.
When he had initially set eyes on the finished project of Alice’s drawing, he was speechless. The woman pictured before him was absolutely breath taking. He had shook off these ridiculous feelings, telling himself that the artistic beauty of the painting had overwhelmed him. The woman couldn’t possible be as beautiful as what he saw when he looked at the painting.
Boy had he been wrong!
She had clutched the paper tightly in her hand for ten minutes, before she had looked towards him.
He had tried to remain patient and let her go through everything he had told her in her mind in her own time. Frankly he had wanted to ask her how she was feeling and what she was thinking every other minute, but he had refrained. He was rather proud of himself.
“What’s going through your mind?” his smooth voice floated through the small distance between them, filling her ears and body with warmth. Oddly she had missed his voice in the short span of time where there had been complete silence between them.
She paused for a minute, trying to assemble some form of coherent thought she could relay to him. “Well, I’m shocked to be honest. I didn’t really believe this whole scene to be true. I still have a hard time trying to understand…everything, really.” She looked at him, her cheeks flaming a bright pink colour and her eyes shining with an emotion he couldn’t fathom.
“What made you change your mind?” he asked her.
“On what?” she replied, not understanding what he meant. She had expected many different kinds of questions and reactions from him to her admission, but not what he ended up asking her.
“You said you didn’t believe this all to be true – what made you change your mind and begin believing it?”
“You did,” she didn’t even hesitate before the words tumbled from her lips.
His head snapped towards hers in a rush, his stare burning her skin wherever it perused. Her cheeks were now flaming red, the blood pumping furiously beneath the surface of her delicate features and her heart was on a mission to jump out of her chest. “What about me convinced you?” He wondered. He hadn’t exactly been forthcoming with her, and honestly he was a little affronted that she so easily believed him. He could be all things evil for all she knew and the thought of her putting her trust so easily in him when she didn’t know him scared him.
“I don’t really know what about you made me change my mind.” She looked down into the sand, steeling herself before she revealed her intent on him. “It might sound crazy to you, heck it sounds crazy to me, but I feel connected to you. I still think this whole idea of you and I belonging to another world is wacky, but I do believe that you believe in it, and for some reason that makes my mind go: believe it.”
Bella briefly glanced towards him trying to gauge his reaction. He was scowling into the ground, his perfectly arched eyebrows knitted together. His right hand was curled tightly around his upper thigh, his knuckles turning a few shades brighter than the rest of his skin. She felt the disappointment all through her entire being. She hadn’t counted on him to be thrilled or even flattered by her comment, but she didn’t figure he would have such an obvious dislike to her attraction to him. The thought hurt more than she had anticipated.
She rose to a standing position, her knees slightly weak from sitting down so long and probably of the rejection floating through her. But as she stood before him, dusting of the sand on the back of her thighs, she embraced the feeling of worthlessness. She knew that feeling and she knew how to deal with the ramifications connected to this state of mind.
He had been shocked when she stood from her position next to him, her actions bringing him away from the dark road his thoughts were spiralling down. She shouldn’t be feeling safe with him when he weren’t safe.
“Where are you going?” he implored of her, getting ready to stand up as well and follow her.
“Relax Edward,” she breathed deeply through her lips and looked towards him remaining seated in the sand she’d just vacated. “I’m just going to take a walk along the shore. I’ll try and read the letter from the book as well. See if I learn anything useful in that.”
This was the first time she had called him by his name when referring to him, and the warm feeling it sent through her was surprising. She felt the tension leave her shoulders and the feeling of worthlessness slightly ebbed away. She shook herself of the unfamiliarity with this new bubbling warmth shooting through her body and tried welcoming the feeling of worthlessness. That one was secure, that one she knew.
She had wandered farther down the beach than she’d meant to. He could barely catch a glimpse of her delicate figure, slightly zigzagging through the sand. He was preparing to stand and catch up to her, when she stopped her mindless wandering and gracelessly settled her bottom into the sand once again.
The breeze was slightly stronger where she now sat closer to the water. Her hair was whipping furiously around the delicate features of her face and she was constantly repositioning locks of hair that had fallen astray from their place in her bun.
She was looking out over the water, the high waves of the waterfront turning more subdued the farther away from the coast she looked.
“Might as well get it over with,” she mumbled quietly to herself, retrieving the letter from her jacket pocket.
She turned the squared object back and front a couple of times before she breathed deeply and wondered of her own cowardice and opened the offending object. Hadn’t she just this morning thought of a newfound feeling of adventure blooming deeply in her belly and slowly touching every corner of her being? Where had that courage and sense of adventure gone?
‘No matter,’ she thought and swiftly opened the letter and removing the sheets of paper from inside. She unfolded the papers and began reading.
My dearest daughter Isabella,
I can only imagine your despair and I deeply regret bringing those feeling forth with you. Please understand that was never my intention and that my love for you stems deeply within my very being.
I was sad to have to give you up for someone else to raise, but you will come to understand the motivation behind my choice to do so soon.
A teardrop hit the page she was clutching between her fingers, shocking her with the blatant display of emotion. She truly was coming apart by the seams, and it scared her, making her bones turn cold within her body and freezing her movement.
She felt stupid only for a second, before she pushed the tears and fears aside and continued reading. She would deal with whatever feelings she might have on a late time.
You were born on an unusually warm September night, a ray of sunlight filling the lives of your father and I. The word of your birth filled our kingdom like wildfire, and before we knew it, a man who shouldn’t very well know of your being knew. We had to do what we could to ensure your survival, whatever the consequences might be.
It was around this time I sought the help from a wise man. He told me of a place where you’d be guaranteed peace and security. So obviously I jumped at the opportunity to bring you what every mother will their child – safety – and discussed this with your father.
He was furious and couldn’t believe how I could willingly renounce you, but you have to understand, as I made him understand, that I did what I had to do to save you. Hopefully you’ll come to understand why some day.
The breeze from the water had decreased slightly. He was still observing her. She had been reading the same page for five minutes now, and he was growing restless.
It didn’t sit well with him that she had felt the need to distance herself this far away from him. He had become addicted to her proximity and longed for the sparks her touch ignited within him.
“Fuck this,” he loudly exclaimed and threw his hands up into the air for dramatic effect. He began to stand from his sitting position and lightly brushed on the sand that had stuck to the back of his pants. He briefly recollected stealing a glance when she had been doing the same minutes prior, and he felt a tightening deep in his gut. The image of her small fingers brushing lightly against the tight denim fabric stretched against the skin of her firm thighs brought a devilish smile onto his face, and his entire being came alive with a new and very welcomed feeling.
It warmed him up from the inside out, and he had a sudden urge to be as near to her as he possible could. Without thinking further on where his thoughts stemmed from, he rose gracefully to his full height and strolled down the beach towards where she was still reading the paper she had collected from the letter.
She had been carrying the book with her, her tiny frame almost toppled over from the excessive weight the book carried. She wouldn’t normally be caught within a good twenty feet of the leather-bound bastards, and this one especially annoyed her. If she could have, she would have tossed it far, far away by now – but she knew he would need it where he where going and also, The Queen herself had ordered her to make sure the soldier she would choose, were to bring this family heirloom along.
He had offered to carry the dead weight she’d been carrying around, but she’d annoyingly refused, and he knew better than to press her on the matter. She would in her own time bring up the subject of the book and he would just have to be patient until then.
As he was strolling towards the small figure sitting 15 yards ahead, he wondered of how often the women around him forced him to be patient and wait for whatever outcome they decided upon. And frankly he was fed up with waiting around. He wanted to take action, to be slightly reckless and throw caution to the wind.
Although he could have told himself a hundred times why it was a bad idea to disturb the petite brunette, when she had requested space and patience from him, his mind chose to ignore the warning signs blaring in his head when he got closer to her sitting body.
At first she didn’t notice his arrival and was initially spooked when a shadow fell over her. That was until she looked up into bright emerald eyes, goading her to make a fuss about his obvious dismissal of her one wish.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“Oh that hurt princess. Aren’t I allowed to sit here, perfectly still, next to you while you please those curious brain cells darting back and forth under that pretty head of yours?” he was smirking at her, every cell in his body tuned into her every movement. When her pinkie twitched he noticed and when her back stiffened infinitesimally he saw. But when her eyes came alight with aggravation he knew – he was in for an earful.
“As a matter of fact, no you aren’t! I thought I made it perfectly clear that I wished for you to leave me alone while I thought things through and read the letter. How can you misunderstand that?” She was fuming, her nostrils flaring and her blush back at full force. It slightly disarmed him whenever she turned that beautiful shade of pink and he couldn’t help himself wondering how far down the blush spread.
A tightening in his groin made him grunt slightly and the air between them transformed within seconds. It was sizzling with electricity once again, and she felt the pull he had on her stronger than ever. The leash that had been connected to her hips was now metaphorically tugging at the base of her throat, making her breathing burst forth in rapid spurts.
He was feeling the pull as well, walking closer to her sitting body, before surrendering to the need to be even closer to her, and letting his body settle down on his knees before her. He dug his hands into the sand on both sides of her bottom, slightly bending across her curled legs and leaning over her.
She should have been intimidated by his closeness, but her body had long since taken over her rationale and it made her lean slightly forward so there only remained a couple of inches between their faces. His eyes were intoxicating on her. The moss green colour was turning darker for every second that went past, and her stomach curled in delight by the expression her own found in them. He mesmerized her.
Her entire being was alight with need for him, for him to be closer still, even though barely an inch remained between them now, their noses practically touching. She could feel the physical attraction he seemed to have on her, but what shocked her most about this entire display were her mind’s cravings for every last bit of him. She wanted to know everything she could learn about him, and not only that, but she also felt a need to memorize every little detail about him. To remember the angle of his jaw, the fullness of his burgundy lips and the depths of his forest green eyes.
She sighed and an almost silent groan passed through her lips. He was completely captivated by her features and the expressiveness of her eyes before she took him by surprise when she made that noise. The amount of pleasure it sent through his body could have filled him from there and to the end of the world.
An answering groan from him sent her mind spiralling. The deep monotone sound at the back of his throat overwhelmed her, and when he leaned in removing the remaining inch between them, she snapped back into reality and retreated hurriedly, almost missing his advance.
Their lips had met briefly before she had reacted, sending tingles from where he touched her down her entire being, and they seemed to concentrate toward the apex of her thighs, sending the burning sensation on a rush down into her legs and making her toes curl from the sheer sensation the tingles created.
He was stunned! He was no stranger to kissing girls, but something about their brief meeting of skin had seemed completely foreign to him. But in the best way possible. The warmth from her brief touch had filled his lips and body and her slight moan when his skin had made contact with hers had sent his mind reeling into the gutter, imagining all the different ways he could touch her to make her deliver that utterly sinful sound again.
But when he leaned in once again trying to recapture her lips did she have the reaction she would have imagined to have in the first place.
“What are you doing?!” It wasn’t so much a question, but a chance for her to get him to distance him from her, so she could crawl out from underneath him and stand. She stood in the sand with her hands firmly planted on her hips and a frown on her face, shooting daggers towards the man kneeling before her. Her reactions to him had been completely foreign to her usual nature and standing now in the fresh air allowed her a moment to clear her head. He had had some kind of spell on her when he uttered the first groan and she was frightened by the ramifications her actions might bring with them if she hadn’t retreated when she did, and allowed him to kiss her fully.
He was slightly disoriented, not used to being dejected by the opposite sex. The disappointment he felt from her retrieval was soon replaced by rejection. “I… I-I don’t know…” The words stumbled out of his mouth, his eyes firmly glued to the sand in front of him. “Could we just pretend that never happened? That wasn’t supposed to happen…”
The desperate tone in his voice was meant to tell her how sorry he truly was that she had retreated, and how much he wished their second kiss would have come to fruition. But she interpreted his words and tone slightly different. Obviously he hadn’t meant to try and kiss her – she couldn’t possibly be his type – and this was just a fluke, a mistake, that weren’t to be repeated. The weight of disappointment and rejection that landed on her shoulders by his words made her frame curl slightly in on it self and the hot sting of tears pressed behind her eyelids as she blinked rapidly to avoid them falling against her cheeks.
Instead she gathered the rest of her wits about her and gave a small, timid “yeah, sure we can forget that ever happened.”
He saw the quick show of disappointment in her chocolate eyes before she turned on her heals and walked a few feet away from his slouched body and sat down into the sand. He wanted to fill the uncomfortable silence with comforting words. Somehow this awkward tension between them felt like his fault, and he dearly wished to remedy that, but he didn’t know how. Instead he moved slightly closer to her, trying to maintain a safe distance from her, since she seemed uncomfortable having him too close. ‘She must be truly disgusted by my actions,’ he thought.
“I don’t understand what you mean for me to do exactly Alice. How am I supposed to find someone by a simple drawing – how will I know if the one I find is the right person?” He was truly bewildered by her request.
Normally he wouldn’t hesitate to do what she asked of him. She had an uncanny sense to know how things would pan out, and she had truly been a godsend most of his life, but what she was asking of him know seemed not only reckless, but plain stupid.
“Relax brother. You will know you’ve found the right person when you first lay your eyes on her. I’ve seen it,” she said, referring to that ability of hers that she had always mastered. If it hadn’t been for the fact that they resembled each other in facial features, he would have thought her to be a witch. “And you’ll find the right person and bring her back here to reunite the kingdoms. The Queen is placing her trust in you to locate her daughter and bring her back to us.”
He wished that he could simply trust her word for good credit, but the entire prospect of him leaving on a wild goose chase after some spoiled princess didn’t sit well with him. He was a soldier, and a darn good one at that! He had been summoned for the military when he reached the age of 16, and had yet to fail on one single battlefield.
She could see him doubt her. She didn’t fault him for his mistrust on her. She had seen him not believing her, and that was what the book was for. She handed him the offending leather-clad object and said: “Here, take this with you. Store it someplace safe until you’ve found her and when you do bring her to it. This-” she pointed to the book “-will tell both you and her of what actions to take next.”
He looked doubtfully into her sparkling green eyes and felt torn as he glanced between the cover of the book and her. It didn’t say anything on the leather front; only an indentation in the shape of a zero sign marred the smooth surface of the book. But the missing title wasn’t what transfixed him the most. What concerned him the most were the completely blank pages the book contained when he opened it.
“Why is it empty? There’s no writing, no nothing, on the pages?” he enquired of her.
She was staring off into space and her eyes had a faraway expression in them. He was quite familiar with this expression of hers; she was seeing something. When she finally broke away, she was frowning, but before he could enquire her about what she had seen that disturbed her so, she interrupted him and said: “The girl will have an object that will present itself as a key to the book. The key will unlock every feature the book might have to offer, and from there you’ll both learn what steps to take next.”
“How will she know what object is the key?” he muttered towards his older sibling and looked imploringly at her, trying to convey how displeased he was with this new development on his participation in the wars.
“It will be the only object with which she will always carry on her body. It is in her locket.”
She had noticed his slight advance on her, but decided she wouldn’t bother telling him off by disrespecting her wishes once again. If she were to be honest to herself she found his proximity to be comforting, and as she sat there in the sand, the breeze once again picking up and flaring her hair around, she felt the need to be comforted.
It took a while her for to gather her thoughts enough to focus on the letter she’d deposed back into her pocket and resume reading it.
You see Isabella, our kingdom – your kingdom – have been plagued by evil for centuries. Many of our subjects know not of the true reason behind the wars, and even though many in the royal court would disagree with me, I believe you deserve to know of it.
You deserve to know of why your father and I decided to temporarily disown you.
God, that sounds horrible, but I’m worried that is honestly how you and many others see it. And you deserve to know why we don’t see it that way. Why we saved you.
The story you’ve hopefully read by now is the beginning of all bad happening in our kingdom. Your father’s father was a gentle and loving king. And his queen did fell horribly ill early in their marriage. She’d barely given birth to your father when her being was sickened by an evil witchcraft. She didn’t make it and her sickness brought dead and destruction with it.
You see, your uncle was left to rule the country when the old king embarked on an adventure to find the cure or help required to save the queen. And your uncle felt deep resentment towards the king for abandoning him to handle everything by himself.
He had fallen in love shortly before the queen fell ill and when the king demanded he took over ruling, the king forbade him seeing his love. He was devastated. You father told me the story behind your uncle’s action, and though I feel resentment for what he caused, I must admit I do feel where he’s coming from. He was heartbroken and felt the world turned against him.
When he left the kingdom – according to some, in search for his lost love – the king ordered an arrest for him. The king thought him to be going rogue and feared he would overtake the kingdom. He practically disowned him, and a feud between the two men escalated into the wars we are surrounded by today.
A legend speaks of a young woman of blue blood standing against the forces that cause havoc in the kingdoms and making all fighting come to an end. I – well your father and I – believe you to be that woman. That’s why we feared for your safety my girl.
I was told the origin of the legend originates from a woman named Sulpicia. I’ve spent every hour apart from you searching for this person, but have yet had any luck.
I need you to track down this woman and hear her what she has meant by the phrase. I need you to save your kingdom. I need you to return.
The letter was signed in scribbles she couldn’t decipher. An uppercase ‘R’ was the only typography she could make out as she sat there studying the tangled letters.
“So what do we do?” she asked, disturbing the tense silence that remained between the two.
“What do you mean?”
She looked briefly towards him to see him gazing questioningly at her. He was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t initially shut him out. “She didn’t really tell what step to take next,” she said as she stretched out her left arm and handed him the letter.
He looked towards her briefly before snatching up the letter and greedily reading the words written on the pages in half the time it took her to read it. “Huh,” he stated once he’d finished. “I don’t know.”
“Well that’s very helpful of you. Thanks for stating the obvious.” She looked at him with annoyance in her bright brown eyes. He wasn’t annoying her anymore per se, but he wasn’t helping his case either.
“It’s not my fault you know?” As fate would have it he was getting annoyed by her. It wasn’t his fault her parents chose to give her up. ‘So bad’ he thought, and stated as much before he thought more about the ramifications such a statement might have.
He was prepared for her rage, and was deeply disturbed when she recoiled from him and scooted away in the sand. She turned her body in the other direction from him and tucked her chin into her chest. And when she began shaking slightly he became truly concerned for her.
He sprang to his feet, slightly sprinting to the other side of her and falling yet again to his knees before her. This time without the sexual tension.
She refused to look at him and when her body began shaking badly with soundless sobs, he forced her chin from its placed locked into her chest. He looked at her with horror and disgust at his own words towards her as he witnessed a tear escaping from the corner of her beautiful brown eyes and travelling south down her chin until it hit the sand beneath them and blending into the ground.
“I’m so sorry,” he stressed, wiping any other tears that escaped from her. “I didn’t mean to be-” he paused, not sure how to express truly how sorry he where for hurting her. “I’m an ass. I truly didn’t mean to say that, I don’t believe that!” He was stressing each words as her tears seemed to flow more freely down her cheeks, most of them caught by his awaiting thumbs, but some escaping through their connected flesh and hitting the sand where the first dropped landed.
She sniffed and felt embarrassed by her open display of emotions. She weren’t usually this open, and she definitely used to contain her deepest feelings better hidden away. But when he had discredited her, her own fears of the truth behind the words had hit her full force, and she had barely had a second to gain control of the feelings swirling around in her belly. She recognized the most obvious of the emotions to be fear and disappointment.
He saw the resignation in her eyes before her features stiffened into a cold mask of indifference. This scared him even more than her tears. “Come on Isabella, you can’t possible believe that I believe that do you? I’m so sorry if I made you feel that way, just – please, don’t shut yourself off like that…” he closed his eyes tightly, the pain of what he caused her to feel surging through him. He leaned in close to her body, both of his hands clasped tightly around her head and his forehead resting against hers and he opened his eyes and willed her to see the sincere regret he felt for causing her such pain that she felt the need to close herself off.
She gazed deeply into his bright green eyes, and saw a myriad of feelings flowing through them and she had the distinct feeling that every single one of them were reflected in her own. “I believe you,” she decided she didn’t fault him for getting frustrated by her and gave into the conviction he felt through his statement and expression.
He noticed with sadness that she hadn’t exactly denied her conviction of the truth to his thoughtless words, but decided to settle for this small agreement between them. He smiled a sad smile at her, not quite able to shake the disturbing feeling of doom settling over him.
They were still sitting in the same position, her head cradled carefully between his warm hands, his fingers tangling into the hair at the back of her head and their foreheads connected. As they resumed looking into each other’s eyes, they were both overwhelmed by the proximity of their heads.
The light shining back at her in his emerald eyes enthralled her, and she briefly wet her lips trying to moisturize her mouth as it had gone dry from her panting.
He had noticed her huffing breath hitting every inch of his facial skin and he had loved the feeling of the warm air heating his skin. But when her tiny, pink tongue peeked out for just a second between her red lips he lost it. A barely audible groan slipped through his lips as he grasped the hair he already had gathered between his fingers tightly and drew her head into his until their lips clashed together in the middle.
She moaned loudly. The feeling of his lips roughly caressing hers was utterly euphoric and she longed to taste him. The butterflies in her stomach turned into a wild stepping fire as it burned through every inch of her being and seemed specifically focused on her low abdomen.
Her sounds of pleasure spurred him on and her angled her head slightly to the left to deepen their kiss further. Just as his tongue swiped across her lower lip, begging her to open up to him and grant him a taste of her, did the ground beneath where she sat and he kneeled begin to crumble.
The sand folded violently over their bodies, burying them in the heavy material as they spiralled downwards.
Their kiss had broken apart as soon as the sand started disappearing from underneath them and she had squeaked in fright by the ground disappearing beneath them. They fell through the soft ground, their fall slowed only by him grasping tightly onto her upper arms and trying to grasp at anything that would anchor them to the surface. The ground had become like quicksand, sucking them into its depths and soon his grasp on her faltered in the midst of the action going on.
He became terrified, his only thoughts centring on location Bella and keep her as close to him as possible. She had been pulled under the surfaced and he dived in after her in desperation, his breathing frantic and every molecule of his being focused on locating her.
Edward’s hands fumbled through the sand finally stumbling upon the fabric of her shirt, and he grasped it roughly beneath his fingers. When he was satisfied with the grip he had on her, he willed every muscle in his body to cooperate as he pulled her towards him.
As soon as she was within reaching distance did he enclose her tightly in an embrace and tucked her head into the crook between his chin and chest. Her breathing was soft against the flesh of his neck, and every muscle in his body ached from having to fight against their inevitable decline further into the earth, and he caved to the exhaustion briefly closing his eyes, and tucking his chin into her neck and infinitesimally tightening his hold on her as they continued further down.
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