Isla de Cascadas Hermosas
I must have ended up falling asleep after Jasper started lightly humming. I remember him whispering for me to rest, that they were going to keep me safe, but nothing else after he started humming.
The next thing I knew, soft male voices were whispering. Though I could feel dry heat, it felt like I was snuggled into a pair of cool arms. I shifted my head toward the voices, but sleepily met Carlisle's face smiling softly. “You are safe, my Darling. There is no need to be alarmed. We have landed in Rio, and it is just past sunset. Would you like to meet Eleazar?”
I smiled as I rubbed my eyes, then nodded, “We've landed? How long was I asleep?”
He chuckled while kissing my forehead, “Only about 3 hours, but you look like you could use several more. I promise that once you are settled, you can rest peacefully.”
When Carlisle lifted his head to smile at someone, my eyes followed the direction, where I found a very handsome male smiling back. He was taller than Carlisle, had a slight olive pallor to his skin, short dark brown/almost black hair that had a little curl to it, and the lightest golden eyes I've ever seen. Not one set of Cullen eyes had ever been that light around me... not even Carlisle's, and that was saying something. They were absolutely brilliant, and oddly enough, the diamond stud in his left ear made him look all the more sexy.
I held out one of my hands while still in Carlisle's arms, berating myself for my suddenly taboo thoughts, to offer with what I hoped was a smile, “Hi. I'm Bella.”
His smile brightened, making my heart flip-flop slightly, then he replied as he took my hand and placed a kiss to the back of it, “Eleazar. It is a pleasure to finally meet you, Poco Paloma .” (Translation: little dove)
I caught Carlisle giving Eleazar a raised eyebrow at whatever he had just said, but Eleazar just smiled as he righted himself to say, “Are you ready to depart? We should be off soon, if we want to reach our destination before the hour becomes later than it already is. I'm sure you'd like to be able to view your new surroundings when we arrive.”
I nodded as Eleazar went to load several suitcases into a boat. Carlisle let me down gently before tipping my chin up to look at me. “You are safe with Eleazar, my daughter. I have known him for many years, and he is a good man. I trust him to protect you for me. Please try to make the best of the situation. I know it's not ideal, but it is to keep you safe. You will hear from us soon, but if you need to talk, all of our numbers are in your contact list. Jasper took the liberty of getting everyone untraceable cell phones. Either of you can contact us whenever you need, as I’ve already explained to Eleazar. Please keep it on you and charged at all times, unless you are in the water, in case something were to happen.”
I nodded as tears filled my eyes, then hugged him tight to me. After a few moments, I hugged him even tighter, then choked out, “I love you all. Please tell them for me… and don't let Esme worry about me too much. I'll be okay with Eleazar's help, plus we'll see each other soon, right?”
Carlisle let out a watery chuckle, then kissed the top of my head as he said, “We will always worry, Isabella, but I will try. We love you immensely, and will see you again the moment it is safe to do so. That I promise you.”
He pulled back enough to look at me again, then cooed as he wiped my cheeks, “Oh, my sweet girl. Please do not cry.”
I shook my head, then whispered, “I'm okay, just sad. I didn't get to spend time with any of you before we had to split up. I hate not knowing when I'll see all of you again.”
Eleazar chose that moment to come back to us, holding his hand out to me. I took it without hesitation, then gave Carlisle a teary smile before Eleazar helped me into the sleek speedboat. Once he led me to the seat next to the Captain's chair, he turned to shake Carlisle's hand over the railing, then said something to him in what sounded like a dialect of Spanish. Carlisle nodded, blew me a kiss, then started undoing the ties of the boat for Eleazar as he responded in the same language.
I watched Carlisle stand at the end of the dock as we maneuvered out of the slip, with venom-filled eyes and a slight smile on his face, then waved to him sadly as we started turning toward deeper water. I saw him wave back for a few seconds, then he was gone faster than I could track.
I let out a shaky breath before looking to Eleazar, who gave me an understanding smile as he turned his head toward me. “Not to worry, Poco Paloma. You will be reunited before you know it. You'll see.”
I nodded, wiped my cheeks, then whispered softly, “I know... and thank you.”
We must have been on open water for just over an hour and a half when I thought I saw a flicker of pale light. I looked to Eleazar, who smiled, “Can you see it, yet?”
I started getting a bit excited, grinning in response, “The flicker? Is that where we are going?”
He agreed, “Yes, Bella. We should arrive in less than 15 minutes now. Are you ready to see your home for the next little while?”
I nodded, my excitement growing, then he chuckled, “It is called Isla de Cascadas Hermosas, or translated to English, the Island of Beautiful Waterfalls. It is not on any map, and is privately owned by me. No one else knows of its location, so we will be quite safe... not even Carlisle, for as long as we've known each other. We each have private locations that no one knows of for emergencies.”
I looked at him curiously for a long moment, then couldn't hold in my question for any longer. “You... this is your private place? Yet you brought me here?”
He ran his free hand through his hair as he ducked his head with a slight smile. I could have sworn that he would have blushed, if it were possible for vampires, then he lifted only his eyes to mine with a soft, “Yes. It will be nice to finally share it with someone. When Carlisle explained to me what had happened in Italy -what you went through and why he was calling- I knew the island was the place to bring you. I know that may not make sense to you, Poco Paloma, but you will understand once are able to settle in and spend time here.”
The action, along with his words, endeared me to him immediately, causing me to want to find other ways to bring out that reaction in him.
When the flickering lights on the water morphed into something more, my breath hitched audibly as my eyes widened in awe. Though it was getting much darker out, Eleazar took a turn around the whole island at a leisurely speed. I was already spotting several places I wanted to explore. He gave me a beautiful smile, which I couldn't help but return as he pulled up to the boathouse.
The boathouse was clearly lit up inside, while the dock between it and shore was lit with what looked like handmade tiki torches. I was in pure awe of my surroundings, that much was certain.
As Eleazar tied off the boat, he watched my reactions as I looked around. He chuckled lightly at something, so when my eyes snapped to his, he offered, “You won't get the full impact until morning, Bella. Tonight, though, I believe you will have fun exploring the house and its immediate surroundings. Give me just another minute to secure the boat, Sweetheart, then I promise to show you around.”
I blushed slightly that my excitement of my new surroundings was so evident in light of the situation, but he finished tying off the boat before coming to brush the backs of his fingers tenderly along my cheek, offering, “Beautiful, but you need never be embarrassed with me, Isabella.”
Eleazar then took both of my hands in his, turned them one at a time to kiss my palms, then whispered with a sexy smirk, “Come, Sweetheart. Let me show you my private world.”
Eleazar carefully lifted me onto the dock, then a split second later, he was next to me holding out his free hand while carrying all of my luggage with his other. I took his hand automatically, then he offered as we walked up the torch-lit dock together, “There are both clearings and jungle to be explored, along with the many various pools, caves, and waterfalls. Though I have not stayed here in quite a while, I check often to make sure the island has plentiful hunting options for me. For that reason, as well as the current situation, I ask that you not wander alone. Some of the animals are predators. I would hate for you to be harmed while in my care.”
I fully understood, so I nodded my agreement. “Of course. I'm not known to be very steady on my feet when the ground is uneven, and though that has gotten better after my injuries through physical therapy, I wouldn't go out alone anyway.”
He lifted my hand in his to kiss my fingertips, then we continued walking from the dock to a well-trodden path up the beach. “Thank you, Bella. I promise to take you to explore all of the island's wonders during the light of day, since we won't need to worry about exposure out here on our own. We can play in the sun or on the beach all we want without worry. I hope Alice packed you a few bathing suits, because the ocean and waterfalls feel amazing during the day, plus the pool is the perfect way to cool off after sundown.”
I tensed slightly at the thought of his words, but tried to give him a smile in response. It must not have worked, though, because he stopped and set down my luggage, then turned to cup my face between his hands. “What is it, Sweetheart? What did I say?”
I let out a heavy breath, then shook my head, “You'll find out soon anyway, since Alice most likely didn't pack a bunch of modest clothing with the temperatures here. Can I tell you once we're comfortable at the house please? It's a long story, and by what you said, Carlisle must not have told you everything.”
He nodded with a look of concern in his eyes, retaking my hand before picking my luggage back up in his other one.
Eleazar led me from the beach to a worn path through the dense trees. Within minutes, we broke through them into a well-lit area. I gasped at my new surroundings, taking in everything I could see as I whispered in awe, “Eleazar, this... this is incredible! I don't think I'd ever want to leave here, if this were mine. It's breathtaking!”
Before me was a Spanish/Mediterranean masterpiece, hidden completely in a small clearing among the surrounding vegetation of the island. Palm trees and vibrantly colored flowers dotted the small manicured clearing. As Eleazar guided me up the front steps to the large wood front doors, he lifted and kissed my fingers, chuckling, “Welcome, Poco Paloma. I'm pleased you like it.”
I stepped in through the doors before Eleazar, who was turning out to be quite the gentleman, then my breath hitched again. The rich colors from outside had been brought in -mixing seamlessly with the décor of the home. It was such a contrast from the muted pale color scheme that I associated with vampires, that I was momentarily speechless. Tall arched ceilings, marble floors and columns, as well as rich colors were everywhere I turned, yet everything had such a beautifully melded Spanish flare.
I was brought out of my silent gazing by a cool hand sliding against the back of my waist. I looked up to meet the curious gaze of my new protector, smiling genuinely as I whispered, “It's stunning, Eleazar. Not at all what I was expecting, but it's a very pleasant surprise. The rich colors remind me of Arizona in a way. I've missed the warmth of the sun and bold colors of the flowers since I moved to Forks, so I think I'll feel extremely comfortable here.”
He grinned like he knew a secret, then offered, “Yes, Carlisle told me of you living previously in Arizona, during one of our talks of you. When he asked me to shelter and protect you, I knew you would want to be somewhere comforting. The fact that you lived in Arizona most of your life factored into my bringing you here, along with the other reasons I stated earlier. Did I do well in my choice?”
I couldn't help it. He had such an adorably hopeful look in his eyes, that it just happened. I chuckled, then popped up onto my toes without a thought, kissing his cheek while whispering, “You did amazingly well. I love it, truly. I may just never want to leave, if the rest of the island is this incredible.”
He laughed happily, holding me a bit tighter around the waist, then hummed, “Seeing you in my private world, looking so beautiful and adventurous, I may just decide that I never want you to leave.”
He kissed my cheek, squeezed my hip gently, then backed up with a smile before my brain could re-engage. “Come, Poco Paloma. Let's get your things up to your room, then I will show you around.”
My suite turned out to be the only one on the second floor, just off the stairs. It looked like a mini master suite, had a double-door entry, its own private balcony, as well as a full bath with large soaking tub and separate shower. It was elegant but completely relaxing. I think I let out a sigh of content before smiling at Eleazar, then I remembered what was about to happen.
I knew it was time to tell him everything, and the best way to do that was to get it all out there for him to see while I told him. I needed a few minutes to gather my thoughts, though, so I said, “Thank you. It's perfect. I'm a bit sticky from the boat ride here, so can we do the tour and explanation in about 15 minutes? I'd like to freshen up just a bit.”
With a kiss to my fingertips and a brush to my cheek, he nodded, “Of course, Bella. Take all the time you need. Would you like me to prepare you a snack while I wait? When was the last time you ate?”
I thought for only a second before I said, “I won't be able to keep any solid food down until after we talk, but am fine for now, because Esme prepared something for me on the plane before my nap. Something to drink would be lovely, though, if you don't mind.”
I really didn't want to go through this more than once today, but as I showered, I knew I would have to. I washed away the journey here, body make-up included, my decision becoming even firmer. I would not be able to cover all of my scars and marks while in bikinis. With Eleazar being the only other one here, asking him to cover them was a bit ridiculous. I sighed as nervousness swirled in the pit of my stomach, but forced myself to leave the shower to dry off.
I walked back into the bedroom with just my towel wrapped around me, going directly to the suitcases Alice had packed for me. I opened all of them, noticing that most looked relaxed and comfortable, but I knew looks could be deceiving. With a resigned breath, I chose to put on a pink striped halter bikini with a ruched Brazilian bottom, along with a semi-sheer fringed pink sarong that laid underneath it. I tied the sarong on my left hip, went back into the bathroom, then pulled my hair into a loose french braid, leaving the stray curls alone around my face.
My nervousness picked up as I walked down the stairs... so much so, that I almost chickened out and dashed back to my room. I knew it was useless, so I continued to pad barefoot through the house until I found Eleazar, who was stacking back the sliding doors out onto the back patio in the family room.
He turned to me, but after his eyes widened minutely, he gave me a genuine smile while taking my hands. “You look magnificent, Bella. Will you have a glass of wine with me?”
I looked at him curiously, because I knew he saw my scars. He just leaned in to kiss one along my jaw before whispering, “Beautiful and strong. I'll explain more in a bit, but you have absolutely no reason to feel anything less than breathtaking.”
He leaned over to the side table after giving me another smile. Just then, his previous words caught up with me. My eyes widened as he went to hand me a glass of deep burgundy wine, but I took it as he picked up his own. “Wait... are you actually going to drink that?”
He chuckled, kissed my temple, then whispered in my ear, “Fear not, Querida. Vampires can -and often do- consume alcohol. I will not be needing to purge this later, if that was your thought.”
I let out a surprised chuckle, then grinned at him while asking, “Can you feel the effects? Does it work differently for you than humans?”
After I took a sip and hummed at the deep flavor, Eleazar took my hand to lead me out to the comfortable looking sitting area on the patio by the pool. The ocean breeze was wafting gently out here, so I smiled as I sat down near him on a couch. I turned toward him, only for him to give me a sexy grin as he said, “Yes. Though it takes quite a bit more for a vampire to feel the effects, we can become just as intoxicated as a human. We can not die from alcohol poisoning, though, and different combinations work in different ways, just as with you.”
I nodded, thinking about that, then said, “You mean like how some people get frisky when drinking tequila, while others get violent?”
Eleazar nodded, so I smirked, “Hmm... a drunk vampire. I may have to try charming you, just so I can witness that.”
His eyes went wide, but at my teasing smirk, he chuckled, “You are a feisty little beauty, aren't you? I have no doubt that you could charm just about anything from me, Isabella, but that is for another time.”
I sighed, then gave him a long look. “You've seen them now... obviously.”
He nodded, “They were very well hidden.”
I gave him a sad smile, “Waterproof body makeup. I would have been able to conceal all of my front while here, but not being a contortionist, I wouldn't have been able to conceal most of my back. With the weather being this warm, along with the pool and beaches, there was really no way of getting around you seeing them. I figured now was the best time to get the worst of it over with. Did Carlisle tell you anything about Victoria or why she is after me?”
Eleazar's eyes darkened, then he shook his head before offering, “Yes. The she devil needs to be dealt with quickly. He explained to me all of the story you had told him, except for your injuries and the resulting wounds. He only explained that you were healing still, and that I was to contact him right away if something went wrong with your recovery.”
I nodded, already knowing Carlisle would never divulge personal things about someone. “She found me in the woods, the day Edward left me. She was brutal, while I was shaken, confused, and brokenhearted. Edward said some seriously hurtful things when he left me there, but I foolishly tried to follow him, to get him to explain to me. He was long gone, with me still searching in my dazed and confused state, when she made her move.”
I took a long sip of my wine, then continued. “She taunted me... pushed me mentally... making it so that I couldn't find my way out of the forest. I kept getting spun around, and I know she was most likely leading me further into the forest. When I would trip or feel like giving up, she would scratch or bite me. I wouldn't even register it until the woosh of air passed. It was like she wanted me to have hope, just so she could rip it away from me. That's when it got worse. The more I bled, the more evil and hateful she became. The pack that the Cullens have a treaty with... they showed up right as I was sure I was taking my last breath. She was ready to finish draining me, but they caught her off guard. They weren't able to kill her, though, as they were trying to save me. I told Carlisle that she seems to have a gift of getting herself out of sticky situations, because no matter what they tried, they were never able to catch her, only keep her away from me.”
Eleazar took one of my hands as he leaned further into the back cushion, then asked, “How were you not changed?”
I shrugged, then said, “With the way she was biting on the fly and scratching me, I figured she was letting more blood out of me than sinking venom in. Something isn't right, though, because these wounds aren't healing like the bite from James did. That one was scarred over but raw the next day. These are months old now, but barely look like I've gotten the stitches removed.”
Eleazar nodded, then offered, “Without a vampire licking the wounds, as Edward did to seal closed the bite from James, they take much longer to heal.”
He took my hand, then rubbed his thumb gently over my wrist, where James' bite mark now resided. His voice was soft but sure as he said, “Though you weren't mates, I can assure you of one thing. Edward loved you, Bella. He wouldn't have been able to seal this wound, let alone suck the venom-tainted blood from your system, if he hadn't loved you fiercely. Only strong companions or true mates can heal each other's wounds in this manner.”
I nodded, then said seriously, “I was barely alive when the wolves carried me to the ambulance, which they had called for to meet us out at the road nearest to where I was found. I was in and out of consciousness a lot at first, in intensive care at the hospital. Then I needed physical therapy once I was able to go home, because I could barely move I hurt so much. It's taken me all this time just to get to where I am, both physically and mentally. The pack has helped me a lot, with more than just protecting me ever since that day. She's not done with me, Eleazar. I don't know what resources she has, but she made it quite clear that she wouldn't stop until I was dead.”
A/N: The middle button below is a link to the page with the house pictures. I didn't want to bog down the chapter page with them, in case some of you are on mobile devices. Hope you enjoyed the chapter, and don't forget to check out the house. It's truly beautiful.