Even though Edward had assured her that everyone would be understanding, Bella was still concerned. She wasn’t ashamed of being part of the community or being a submissive. However, she didn’t know if the family would assume that all Dominants were like “him”, and his abuse was a normal practice, which was not the case. She took a deep breath and squeezed Edward’s hand as they walked into the den.
As soon as the family saw movement at the entrance of the den, their heads shot up, their eyes filled with concern. Esme stood and rushed over to Bella, pulling her into a warm embrace. She hated seeing Bella so broken, because she had seen evidence to the contrary. She knew what a strong woman she was. Pulling back from their embrace, Esme gave Bella a smile and wiped the tears from her cheek. “Stay strong, my sweet girl, we are here for you.”
With a sob threatening to escape, Bella reached out and grasped Esme’s arm. “Thanks, mom.”
Esme nodded and turned away, walking back to Carlisle, who wrapped his arm around her shoulders. He was afraid of what was about to be said and if it was as bad as his imaginings; he needed to be strong.
Edward led Bella over to the loveseat which faced their family. Once they were seated, he placed his hand on her knee, willing her to feel all the strength, compassion, and love he had for her through his touch. He looked up. “I know you all have lots of questions and we are going to answer as many as we can. As all of you know, I own several clubs throughout the US and Europe which cater to people who are part of the BDSM community. Rose and Emmett recently experienced a firsthand look at my newest addition and the atmosphere of the club. Mom, Dad, I know I haven’t availed to you the opportunity to fully explain the intricacies concerning the community, but today, if you agree, I will answer any questions you may have.”
“Thank you, but what does this have to do with Bella’s condo being broken into?” Carlisle asked. After Edward carried Bella from the room, they were all concerned about the way she looked. Her face was void of all emotions. They had looked to Rose for answers, but she said she couldn’t say anything without Bella’s permission.
Edward looked down at Bella, and she gave him a weak smile. “I have been a practicing submissive for almost four years. I went to an open house to research the practices more and as soon as I entered the doors, I knew I belonged there. Taking the steps to become a submissive, I became educated in the concepts, the expectations, and the rules of practice. I also became aware that being a submissive didn’t mean that you, as a person, were weak. Hell, I never felt so empowered. I joined a club which had a clear set of stringent rules and regulations for both their Dominants and submissives. When I had completed my training, there was a Dominant that took an interest in me. After interviewing and a trial period, we signed a three-month contract. We enjoyed the time we spent together, though there was no emotional connection. So at the end of the three-month contract, we separated. A few months later, I once again signed a contract with another Dominant. I learned a great deal from him. However, at the end of the contract, we both agreed to go our separate ways. I took about six months off from the community before entering another contract,” Bella said as she shivered over the thoughts of “him”.
Edward could feel her beginning to shake. This was going to be very difficult for her, so he wrapped his arm around her, pulled her closer, then placed a kiss on her temple. “I’m here, my love,” he whispered in her ear.
She closed her eyes and took a moment to calm down before telling the next part. “At first, “he” was very attentive and followed the rules dictated in the contract we had signed.”
“Rules?” Esme asked. They had known that Edward had become Dominant and many of his clubs were BDSM. She didn’t know what BDSM meant until she had done some research. At first, she was shocked and scared by what her son had gotten involved in. However, she continued her study, not taking just one person's opinion on the subject. Once she thought she had a grasp on the basics, she contacted the local club and asked to speak to one of the Dominants. It took several weeks before someone called her back and agreed to talk with her. She invited them to the house for the discussion. Late one afternoon, she welcomed a tall, dark-haired man to her house. He introduced himself as Garrett and after they got to know each other better, he was able to answer her questions, and he explained he was Edward’s roommate in college and the person who introduced him to the community.
“At the beginning of any relationship between a Dominant and a submissive, there is a list of “Limits” that is reviewed by each party, before the contract is signed, that specifies of what we agree would or would not be done in the playroom,” Bella answered. “I never, at any point, saw the evil in “him”, other than he was quick to lose his temper and was jealous, until it was too late.” She stopped and steady herself for what she was going to say next. “It was during one of our regular nights of play, everything was going fine until “he” pulled out a knife.”
“Shit,” Emmett muttered.
“Were you hurt?” Carlisle asked.
Bella went to tell him, but the words wouldn’t come out. The pain of the evening invaded every part of her.
Edward leaned in and whispered into her ear. “Do you want me to tell them instead?”
He looked up and glanced at each of their faces. “He” used the knife and cut her on her chest and breast. Some cuts were deeper than others, but most of them had to be stitched up. She used her safe word to force “him” to stop, but “he” didn’t. The safe word is a word chosen between a Dominant and submissive. If either of them uses the word, all play stops immediately. That night, “he” broke the two most sacred rules of the community. The first, not obeying a safe word and the second, was not following the contract. Bella was able to get herself out of the playroom and secure herself in another room. She called 911 and was taken to the hospital. She had to be stitched up and given a transfusion of blood. Once she was stitched up, she made a call to the police to report the incident. The cops came, but nothing happened after that.”
“What?” Carlisle exclaimed, upset over what he had just heard. How could anyone want to hurt a beautiful soul like Bella?
“She was visited in the hospital by the attorney of the family of the man who attacked her. He told her that the cops would not charge “him” with any crime and she better keep her mouth closed or they would release some pretty explicit pictures of her. To those people who are not part of the community, they would portray her as someone who asked for this injustice. They made her sign an NDA and gave her a lump sum of money to remain quiet,” Edward said.
“Who the fuck is this guy’s family?” Esme growled. She would destroy this family, even if it took every penny of her inheritance. Only members of the family knew the extent of her own personal wealth.
“Mom, I can’t say without getting into trouble,” Bella said.
“Fuck the NDA, we will get the best attorney you can buy to fight it,” Esme declared.
“Mom, it is something we will look into, but until that time, we have to be careful,” Edward said.
“We are family. Do you think we would say anything to anybody?” Emmett asked.
“Well, the look in mom’s eyes scares me a little,” Edward said with a grin.
“You should be afraid, because when I find out who this asshole's family is, I will destroy them. By the time I get through with them, they won’t have a pot to piss in,” Esme growled. At that statement, everyone, including Bella, laughed. After a few moments, even Esme giggled.
When they calmed down, Edward spoke up again. “Tomorrow, we have to go to the police station, and since Billy is in jail, we need an attorney. And not just any attorney, but a cutthroat attorney, someone who will play hardball.”
“Well, that levels out my attorney,” Carlisle said. “Wayland is great with money, but not what you need.”
“Neither is mine,” Emmett declared. “Eleazar is also good with money, but too much of a pussy to play hardball.”
“Emmett,” Rose exclaimed, slapping him on the arm.
“Hey, don’t beat me, woman,” he laughed. “Just wait until you meet him and you will say the same thing.”
They all sat around, silently trying to think of someone who would be tough enough to go against Bella’s attacker's family. Suddenly, Edward remembered an attorney he had met at the club. He was a Dominant, which would be a bonus since they wouldn’t have to school him on the aspects of being both a Dominant and submissive. “Dad, do you know Nahuel Pardo?”
“Yeah, I met him at a conference a few years back. He had just won a big case, in which a woman was being tormented by her ex-professor.”
“He is a Dominant and a member of my clubs,” Edward said and pulled out his phone. Logging into the club’s membership database, he looked over Nahuel's file. His membership was in good standing, with dues paid, a recent clean background check, drug screening, and an up-to-date limits list. He is in between subs and the letters from past submissive were raving. Most wanted another chance to scene with him.
Bella looked over and saw what Edward was researching. He had told her about the database, but had not seen it herself. “Is that the club's membership database?”
“Yes. I’ll get you a login since you will be working with me at the new club,” he said nonchalantly.
“You did accept the position at E.A.C.,” he answered with a smirk, remembering their time in the back of the car. Fuck, they needed to do that again really soon, because it was hot.
A bright bloom of blush broke out across her cheeks. “I forgot about that.”
Edward leaned close and whispered in her ear. “We’ll discuss the finer points tonight in bed, naked.”
Esme couldn’t help but smile. Love poured off Edward and Bella in waves. “Did Nahuel check out?”
“Yes, let me find his number and I will call him,” Edward said. Looking at the database, he found the number and dialed it.
Nahuel Pardo was sitting on his couch in his home, watching the news. He had been shocked to see Billy Black arrested during an event at Edward Cullen’s home. He had always wanted to work with Edward, not just because of his keen business adventures, but because he was also a member of the community. A few years earlier, he had been at a munch at the club and he observed a scene in which Dominant Edward was using his expertise in Shibari. Nahuel was so impressed he signed up for a training class on the proper use of rope play in the playroom. His phone rang and when he looked at the screen, he almost dropped his phone. Taking a deep breath, he answered. “Hello.”
“Nahuel Pardo, this is Edward Cullen.”
“Mr. Cullen, good evening.”
“Mr. Pardo, as I am sure you are aware by now, I am without legal representation because of Mr. Black’s indiscretions. I was wondering if you would be willing to come to our home tomorrow morning for a meeting.”
Even if he was busy, there was no way he was going to miss meeting Mr. Cullen. “Certainly, sir. What time would you like to meet?”
“Actually, you will be meeting with both me and my wife.”
“Wife? Sorry, I wasn’t aware that you were married,” Nahuel said. The last time he heard, Edward Cullen only had short-term submissives.
“We were married this morning. However, my wife has an issue from the past that has reappeared. Would eight o’clock be too early for you?” Edward asked.
“I can certainly be there at eight,” Nahuel answered as his mind raced. “Is there anything specific which I can research before I arrive?”
“Yes. We need to know of all possible avenues in rendering an NDA null and void,” Edward stated.
“Okay. I will do what I can to get the information together before I meet you in the morning.”
“Wonderful. You will need to show your ID at the gate in order to gain entrance into the compound,” Edward advised. “We will see you in the morning.”
“Yes, yes sir. Congratulations on your nuptials and have a great evening,” Nahuel said before Edward disconnected the call. He stared at the phone in pure shock. Edward Cullen called him for legal help. This was huge and he needed to do everything in his power to break the NDA. From the tone of Edward’s voice, he would do whatever it took to ensure his wife’s safety. Thinking back, he had seen an ET story a few nights ago about a new woman on Edward Cullen’s arm. He thought then that she was beautiful, and they made a lovely couple. This was his big chance, and he was going to make the best impression he could.
After hanging up with Nahuel, Edward needed to lighten the mood. “He will be here tomorrow morning, so I think we need to get back to celebrating. Why don’t we watch the ceremony DVD?” Edward asked, looking around the room at his family. He hated the asshole who had interrupted their celebration.
Bella reached out and grasped his hand, giving it a tight squeeze. “That is a lovely idea.”
Pulling up the DVD from the file that Sam had sent him, Edward pushed play. Everyone watched the screen and every so often he heard his mom oh or ah. At the end of the video, Edward pulled up the file with the pictures that Felix took and started playing them as a slideshow. As he looked at each image, he could see the love they had for each other in each one. People would say they were crazy. Many would think Bella was a gold digger. However, once they saw these pictures, they would see how much they loved each other.
At the end of the slideshow, Esme wiped the tears from her eyes. “Oh, those were stunning. I hope you will share those with me.”
“Of course, mom,” Bella replied.
“I think we also need to put out a press release before our marriage gets leaked,” Edward said. He had seen it many times when couples tried to hide a huge event in their lives and the press caught wind of it.
“Really?” Bella asked, nervous about the world learning about their marriage.
“By releasing our story, it prevents the speculations of the wild imagination of the press,” Edward explained.
“I agree son, I think that is the way to go,” Carlisle said. “How about after you meet with Nahuel, we call a press conference at your office?”
Edward was considering the suggestion when Bella spoke. “No, not at the office building, we need to hold it here at our home. If we have it at the office, it will look like a business arrangement, but here we can show them we went into this marriage as two people in love.”
He couldn’t help but break out with a massive smile. His heart was so full of admiration for his intelligent wife.
“Damn, Edward, I think I know who is the smarter one in this relationship,” Emmett chuckled.
Wrapping his arm around Bella, Edward pulled her closer. “You are right, Emmett. Now if you don’t mind, I would like to take my wife to our room for the rest of the night.”
A bright bloom of red broke out across Bella’s face. “Edward.”
“Honey, we just got married today, so it is no surprise we are going to make love all night long,” he muttered, moving closer to her ear. “And tomorrow your Master is going to fuck you so hard you won’t be able to walk straight.”
Carlisle stood and offered his hand to Esme. “Enjoy your evening and we will come over in the morning. After you speak with Nahuel, we can also get his opinion on the press conference. Then we will go with you to the police station.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Bella said. She didn’t want them to feel they had to be there for her problems.
“Sweetie, that is what family does. We all will be there as a united front,” Carlisle said. “Esme, dear, let's head home and allow these two to start trying to make our grandchildren.”
“DAD!” Edward gasped.
“Son, we expect at least three, but would love to see many more,” Esme said with a smile. Then turned to where Emmett and Rose were sitting. “And that goes for you two as well.”
Carlisle wrapped his arm around his wife and they walked out of the house. Once they were outside, he kissed Esme’s neck. “Let’s go home and go to bed.”
“Yes, please,” she replied, giving him a flirtatious wink.
Once their parents left, Edward nodded his head to his brother, while Bella gave Rose a hug. “I am thrilled for you, Bella,” Rose said.
“Thank you. I’m sorry we sprung it on you, but we knew there was no way we could wait,” Bella disclosed as she felt Edward’s hand on her lower back. She turned to him, looking up into his eyes, to find them full of desire. “We will see you in the morning.”
Linking their hands, they walked up the stairs and to their bedroom. When they walked in, they both were surprised. The room was covered in the warm glow of the candles which were on every surface. The bedding had been changed from the dark black and grays, to crisp white. A tray was in the center with another bottle of the 1959 Don Perignon with two crystal champagne flutes.
“Who did this?” Bella asked, looking around the room.
“I think I know, but look, there is a box,” Edward said, pointing to a box at the foot of the bed.
Bella stepped over to the box and picked up the tag, which had her name on it. Opening up the envelope, she pulled out the card. “It is from Maggie and Richard.”
“Read it,” Edward urged.
“We knew the moment we met you that this day was going to come. I went out that very day and purchased this gift. The tub is filled and ready for the two of you to relax. Richard and I are happy to have you as part of the family. May your love grow even more each day and we can’t wait to hear the pitter patter of little feet. Love Maggie & Richard.”
“I swear she is psychic,” Edward said with a laugh. “Open the box and see what she got you.”
Untying the ribbon, she lifted off the lid, pushing back the tissue paper to find a stunning sheer lace short nightgown, with a bow under breast and a pair of tiny lace thongs. “It’s beautiful.”
“Fuck, I might have to take Maggie with me when I pick out lingerie for you.”
“NO YOU WON’T,” Bella gasped.
“Don’t worry, my love, I have great taste in lingerie. Now let’s get naked and enjoy the bath they prepared for us. Then I want to see you in the nightgown, even though it will end up on the floor pretty quickly.”
“That sounds like a great idea,” Bella cooed, lifting her dress over her head. She hadn’t put her underwear or bra on when they left the playroom. She giggled and took off towards the bathroom.
“Fuck me,” Edward growled and took off after her. He was one lucky bastard.