“Mr. Cullen, your father is on line two,” Angela chirped over the intercom. “He’s calling to confirm plans for Christmas.”
“Thanks, Angela,” I said, saving my work on my laptop. I picked up the phone, closing the computer lid. “Dad? What’s up?”
“I’m fine, Edward. It’s so nice of you to ask,” Carlisle deadpanned.
“Busy. I’m very busy. I’m taking the holidays off and giving the office off until after the new year. We’ve got a shit-ton of crap to get finished before we close everything down for the next ten days,” I said, narrowing my eyes.
“You’re taking a vacation?”
“Not a vacation, per se. I’m giving my employees a vacation. I’ll probably still end up working, but doing it from home with Bella,” I said.
“You’re worried, aren’t you?” he whispered. “About this threat?”
“For the first time in my life, I’m terrified, Dad,” I whispered, worried he’d see me as weak. “If one of the Denali sisters was threatened, I’d shrug and move on with life. But, with Bella? I’m so scared that Uncle Stephan is going to take her away from me. I’m in love, Dad. For the first time in my thirty-five years, I’m in love and I have something to lose.”
“I understand your fear. I’m just as scared,” Carlisle sighed. “My brother … he always was miffed that I was made the leader of the family, even though he was older …”
“But his mother wasn’t Nonni,” I offered. “This is why he wasn’t made the leader of the family. He was a bastard.”
“So, was my father,” Carlisle deadpanned. “Not in the parental sense. I mean in the attitude. He was a bastard with a bad attitude. He made a lot of enemies and it would appear his oldest son is the biggest one and he’s going to make our lives hell until he’s either killed or captured.”
“Have you heard from him?” I asked.
“Nope. Normally, if I called Stephan to discuss business, he’d return the call within a day,” Carlisle muttered. “Now? It’s been radio silence since Halloween. He’s … he’s preparing for war, Edward. And we need to be ready for it. All of us.”
“I’m still the head of the family. My guess is that Stephan is probably going to go after you, either by hurting Bella or directly going after you,” Carlisle said. “I know you put more protection on Bella, but you need some as well. I’m transferring Seth to you. Emmett doesn’t trust him because of his inadvertent assistance to his wife in having an affair, or rather, affairs. However, I know that Seth is trustworthy.”
“Who is going to work with Emmett?” I questioned, leaning forward and pinching my nose.
“There are a few new recruits that I trust. Liam, Garrett and Nahuel are all on my short list,” Carlisle said. “Emmett is going to interview them tomorrow. So, he’ll be off in the afternoon, Edward. He’ll also be meeting with Jenks.”
“Moving forward with the divorce?” I asked.
“Gathering information,” Carlisle chuckled. “Though, I can tell you that he’s moved out of the bedroom and is staying in a guest room. Rose is doing everything to try and win him back, confused by the sudden rejection.”
“Has he spilled the beans that we know?”
“Not that I’m aware of, but he’s pissed at her. I think he’s going with the ruse that he’s ashamed of her disrespect of you and Bella,” Carlisle explained.
Uncle Stephan Romani