Behind Closed Doors – C15

DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.

-BCD-

Chapter 15: The White House Correspondents’ Dinner

“I’m going to go grab a drink. Do you want anything?” Emmett asks.

We are standing together, surveying the ballroom of the Washington Hilton, hosting our dinner this evening. It’s a black-tie event with plenty of tuxedos and sparkling, designer dresses as far as the eye can see.

“No. I need to locate Jacob. He texted me earlier to find him when I got here.”

Emmett nods and grabs my elbow before I go. “Hey, keep an open mind about Berlin. I think it may be the perfect opportunity for you and give you a chance to spread your wings without all the bullshit you deal with here.”

“I know. I’ll think about it. I promise.”

How can I forget? There’s an opening in our Berlin office they’re trying to fill, and Emmett recommended me for the job. I got a call a few days ago and did a telephone interview with the man who would be my new boss, Alistair Young. He’s Scottish and had me nearly swooning on his accent alone. It turns out he’s friends with Carlisle, who originally inquired on my behalf.

We hit it off, and I am tempted to say yes to his job offer, but my mind always goes back to Edward. I’m not sure where this thing between us is going even after almost a year. While everything is good, I don’t see anything changing our status, which makes me wonder how long we can continue in a relationship, solely behind closed doors.

It seems precarious at best, as if I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I feel myself falling for him a little more every day, but I don’t know how to proceed. We have made no declarations of love. And while I may be feeling it, I don’t think Edward is. The sex is great, but I’m at a point where I need more than I think he’s ready or willing to give.

Shelly’s warning isn’t far from my thoughts, as I know she’s always in Edward’s ear working against our relationship. It hasn’t been easy making this work between us, but it’s feeling like a dead end. Maybe it has run its course.

“Bella?”

“Sorry, I was thinking about my conversation with Alistair.”

“No problem. It’s a lot to consider. Let’s meet up at the table in a little while.”

“You got it, Boss.”

I greet a variety of honored guests, award and scholarship winners, and many of my fellow co-workers, as I work the room while trying to locate Jacob. Eventually, though, I give up and head for the bathroom before dinner is served.

As I walk down the deserted hallway, I notice two security guards standing outside a meeting room. They eye me carefully as I’m about to pass by, but I’m stopped in my tracks when I hear loud voices coming from inside the room.

There’s no mistaking who’s in there.

“You can’t make me do this!”

Leah. I wonder if she’s in trouble. Maybe I should go in and offer my help. I step toward the room.

The guards move together, creating a wall of muscle, preventing my advancement. “Miss, you need to move along. The bathrooms are that way.”

“Leah, keep your voice down,” Jacob tells her.

“I can, and I will.” That sounds like Harry. “You’re no longer allowed to leave the White House grounds until further notice. I forbid it, and you’re not getting divorced. You will focus on your marriage to Jacob. It will be your only job. Unfortunately, it has come to this, but you leave me no choice. Security will escort you back to the White House because I can no longer tolerate your disrespect this evening.”

Oh, no.

“Uh…” I point toward the door as I look between the huge guards and the room. “Jacob asked me to find him.”

One of them nods and directs me to a bench along the wall. “Wait there.”

I hear Sue next. “Leah, you and Jacob need to spend time together. You can’t do that if you’re never with him. I understand he works a lot and you’re lonely, but we’ll bring in a marriage counselor. It will help, and a baby will fill that void, too.”

I wonder what’s happened, but I have a good idea as I take a seat and wait for Jacob.

Billy’s deep voice speaks next. “We have to think about the re-election. We don’t need her behavior coming to light.”

“Billy, do you know what I think about your re-election plans? You can all go to hell. Then you’ll be where I’m at and understand how I feel. Every day here—my life is pure hell. And now you’re taking away my one bright spot and holding me what? Prisoner? I don’t think so. Dad, I hope you aren’t re-elected, then this nightmare will be over.”

“Leah.” Sue’s anguish is clear.

“No. Not once do you ever think about how all of this affects me. I’ll let you know when I’m pregnant, since apparently, that’s all I’m worth to you, and trust me, Jacob won’t be the father.”

“Leah, the bloodline,” Harry warns.

“You and your damn bloodline. So, whose sperm is acceptable? It sounds like I need a list of who to do and who to don’t. Is it only Quileute? Or will any Native American suffice? What about Sam? Would he be acceptable? You probably already know we’ve been fucking for Emily’s entire pregnancy.”

“Leah! She’s your cousin,” Sue scolds.

“Surprised? You shouldn’t be. I had him first, and she stole him from me. I’ll never forgive her. What about Collin, the intern from Sam’s office? He was fun and easy. Should I go back for more with him? Can we use your desk in the Oval Office, Dad? Or, I know, Brady. He’s another one of those rising stars in the party you like so much. The things he can do with his—”

“Leah, stop this!” Harry demands.

“Heard enough? Well, I’m just getting started. I’m about to be your worst nightmare. You should have left me alone and not interfered in my life. Buckle up and get your paternity tests ready. This is going to be a wild ride. Remember, you asked for this.”

“Leah, you’re leaving us with no other choice,” Sue pleads.

Voices are lowered, and I can’t hear what’s being said.

A voice I don’t recognize takes over. “Hold her. I’ve got her arm.”

“Ow! What are you doing? Let me go. What is that?” Leah’s voice is muffled for a moment. “Fuck that hurt. What did you give me? Let me go, asshole.”

“This is for the best, Leah,” Harry reminds her.

She doesn’t see me when she shoves open the door, barreling down the hallway with her security detail barely able to keep up.

With the door wide open, I can see Sue next to Jacob opposite Billy and Harry.

“I’m sorry, Jacob. We had no idea how bad it was. It will get better. Trust me.”

Billy wonders. “Maybe we should send her back to Washington or somewhere else out of sight? She needs to be contained, and the reservation could be the perfect spot.”

Harry’s anger boils over. “She needs to learn her place in this family. I will not accept this behavior. We will contain her here and allow Jacob to do his job.”

Billy checks his watch. “Let’s table this discussion for another time. We need to get you to the ballroom for dinner.”

“Okay, but this is far from over.” Harry straightens his tie and refastens his jacket.

“I agree.” Billy wheels himself from the room with Jacob following closely behind.

I jump up and get his attention. “Jacob!”

He turns toward my voice. “Hey, Bella. Dad, I’ll meet you in there.”

Billy nods. “Hello, Bella. You look lovely this evening.”

“Thank you, Billy. You’re looking very handsome yourself.”

“See you in a bit, Dad. Let’s go this way.” Jacob points in the opposite direction and guides us toward the women’s bathroom. “Thanks for finding me.”

He pushes open the door and checks to find the room empty, locking the door behind us.

We’re staring at each other for a while, and I’m not sure who should speak first, but I can’t hold back.

“Holy shit, Jacob. What happened?” I point beyond the door.

“Just now? Or earlier?”

“Maybe you should start with earlier.”

“This conversation can’t leave this room. Got it?”

“Yes.”

“This is all so messed up. Harry caught Leah with one of her guards. They were in a limo together. I’m positive he’s out of a job now.”

“Wait. You didn’t ride here with her?”

“No. I rode over with Dad,” Jacob explains. “Harry and Sue were waiting in their limo to exit when there was concern that no one knew where Leah was or could locate her limo. It caused a bit of panic since we all left the White House at close to the same time.”

“Oh, no.”

Jacob nods. “We were walking toward the back entrance when they found her limo occupied in the garage. I think Harry suspected something and refused to go inside without her. They ushered him to her limo where he opened the backdoor to find her naked with the guard.”

“Oh my God. They were—”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry, Jacob.”

“I told you she was cheating. I knew it, but Dad and Harry won’t let either of us out of this marriage until after the re-election at least, which is still years away. I doubt even then, if I know them. Regardless, Leah won’t be able to outrun them and their demands.”

“Can they do that? It doesn’t seem right.”

“Tribal membership is a tricky thing, as many tribes keep lowering the qualifications. Harry and Dad have been demanding for us to have children—full-blooded Quileute children—or they will take matters into their own hands. We’re the next leaders of the tribe, and Leah is foolish to go up against them.”

“What do you mean ‘take matters in their own hands’?”

“There are sacred fertility rituals which will force her into compliance until she is pregnant. She’ll be watched over by our aunts through the entire pregnancy until she gives birth to full-blooded Quileute babies. The cycle will continue until the elders believe she’s honored the tribe by fulfilling her duty.”

“What if she can’t have kids? Has anyone considered that a possibility?”

“They won’t consider it until they’ve exhausted all other possibilities. I’ve been tested. So, we know I’m okay. They’re going to—”

“They’re going to what?”

“We’ll be monitored from here on out.”

“What does that mean? Like a chaperone?”

“Sort of. Leah will be confined to our room and only granted freedom to other areas of the private residence if she consents to marital relations. And those will be witnessed by three elders until she becomes pregnant.”

“Holy shit.”

Jacob nods and whispers, “Every night.”

“Billy?”

“No. Not Harry either. Um, ‘Old Quil’ who is Quil’s grandfather is one. Sam’s father, Joshua, is another, and Sam’s Uncle Thomas will also be here. They’ve been chosen to oversee everything.”

“What if she doesn’t consent?”

“They will begin a course of ‘medications’ to make her more compliant. She received her first injection before she left.”

“They’re drugging her? Oh my God, Jacob.” I am stunned speechless for a moment. “Wait! They were planning this anyway, weren’t they?”

“Her actions today sped up the timetable. Leah doesn’t realize how valuable she is. Other tribes could plot to kidnap her for this purpose under much worse, harsher conditions.”

“Jacob, this is all sorts of levels of wrong. How can you take part in something like this?”

“I don’t have a choice, Bella, and neither does she. They’ve given us plenty of time to meet their expectations on our own and we’ve failed them. We both knew what was expected going into this marriage. Not that we had much choice about that either, but I hoped they would allow us a divorce when they saw it wasn’t working. And now Leah has forced their hand.”

“Has she been using birth control?”

“Yeah, condoms, I think, but they’ll bring in a doctor to monitor her health and be certain she is clean and isn’t pregnant from any prior partners.”

“And if she is pregnant?”

“They’ll abort it.”

“Jacob, she has rights.”

“If she wasn’t a full-blooded Quileute, I would agree with you, but we aren’t working under normal tribal laws. They’re different—spoken and unspoken expectations exist for all members.”

“And the federal government…”

“Isn’t going to step in when it comes to tribal lands and their people, especially with her father overseeing the preservation of our tribe, and now, all jurisdictions—federal included.”

“But this would happen here in D.C.” I shake my head, not believing what I’m hearing.

“Look, I don’t care if she loves me or not, and it isn’t like we haven’t had sex before. Hell, she’s having sex with anyone and everyone. The two of us—we need to do this and move on. It’s our responsibility to our heritage, especially when I’m expected to take over leading our tribe one day. We’ll have kids, then she’ll be free to do whatever she wants. Everyone will be off our backs and I’ll hire a nanny to help raise our kids if she wants nothing to do with them.”

My mind sifts through the implications for other members of their tribe. “Your sister, Rachel?”

“And Paul, have similar pressures. She’s not pregnant yet, but I know they’re trying, and at least they love each other.”

“What about Rebecca?”

“She left after Mom died and married a man in Hawaii. Trust me. The elders aren’t happy about it. They’ve talked about forcing her to return.”

“But she’s married.”

“Which presents another issue.”

“Leah was right. This is a nightmare. And if you have daughters?”

“Their marriages will be arranged just like any sons we have. Most people don’t get it. I don’t expect you to understand either.”

“You would force your daughter or son to have sex repeatedly with someone under the watchful eyes of tribe members for the sake of bloodlines?”

I know Jacob can see my resolution to do something to help Leah when it passes over my face, because he’s quick to issue a warning.

“Bella, I know this is so beyond fucked up, but don’t be a hero on this one. Leah will be fine. You need to let it go. Women have babies all the time. Don’t think they won’t come after you if you try to interfere, and I want nothing to happen to you. You’re my friend and I trust you to keep this quiet.”

He waits, but I’m speechless, and my only reply is a small nod of my agreement to a code of silence against my better judgment.

-BCD-

After my discussion with Jacob about Leah’s future, my appetite is gone and I can barely focus on the small talk at our table. This dinner is a fundraiser with awards and scholarships being presented, but I feel like I’m going through the motions while trying to keep a polite smile on my face the entire time and clap in all the right places.

Emmett knows something is up, but I’ve shrugged off his questioning looks. Our dishes are cleared and I’m sipping on a cup of coffee, when I get the feeling of being watched.

I keep my eyes down and focus on the cup as my hand trembles when I bring it to my lips. I’m worried one glance will find Harry, Billy, or someone else more sinister, watching me closer than they should.

This is part of the problem with knowing too much. Paranoia sets in and I find myself second-guessing everything and everyone. When I do find the gumption to look up, a familiar set of green eyes is watching me—a picture of concern.

I avert my eyes and my body sags with relief when I realize it’s him. I had no idea he would be here this evening since he said nothing about attending. But then I didn’t tell him I would be here either.

While I would love to find comfort in his arms right now, we can’t both stand and leave, as we’re in a room full of bloodhounds. Everyone would know our departure wasn’t anything coincidental.

I hear my phone vibrate in my purse then the room erupts in applause and everyone stands as Harry moves to speak. I remove my phone from my purse before sitting back down and hold it under the table to read the message.

You look beautiful.

A smile immediately forms on my lips.

Thank you.

I barely press send before another text arrives.

The first real smile I’ve seen from you all night.

I wish you were my date this evening.

I have no idea how to answer that, but the texts don’t stop. His words feel like a life preserver, and I want to grab onto them with both hands to save me from drowning.

Are you going to any after-parties?

We could sneak off and find a closet or something. 😉

Dread fills my stomach at the thought of him sneaking off with someone else at one of those parties once he hears my answer, but despite the gossip, I try to believe he wouldn’t do that after we agreed to be exclusive almost a year ago. I cringe, thinking about the fallout from his attendance at any of the after-parties around the area tonight. I’m positive all cameras will be trained on him with tongues wagging in every direction.

No. I’m going to call it an early night.

Are you feeling okay?

I can make an excuse and see you home.

I’m fine. Go. Have fun.

I have a job to do. Don’t forget that.

I don’t reply that he always seems to enjoy his job a little more than he should because I know he won’t turn down a photo with a fan or any opportunity to make new connections that may further his career.

I do, too.

My mind immediately wanders to Leah and my heart breaks at what went down this evening, knowing she’s trapped and feeling helpless or probably medically numb at this point. I have no idea if she’s ever wanted children, but it’s a crime to force her into being a breeder. Perhaps, a surrogate would be a better answer, but then her family would force the harvest of her eggs to make that happen, which gives me chills at the thought. My stomach churns again as my phone vibrates.

Text me once you’re home.

I will.

I close my phone and slide it back into my purse, then chance a glance in his direction to find him laughing at something someone said at his table. I don’t look over there again, since I don’t want to give us away, but focus on Harry who is busy poking fun at himself, as he has the room in stitches and hanging on his every word.

If only they knew what he’s putting his daughter through. Another dirty little secret. This room is overflowing with them.

A/N: Huge thank yous to LizziePaige, Honeymoon Edward, purpleC305, and Midnight Cougar for their help with this story. xx

If Bella was wearing any rose-colored glasses in regards to Harry, Sue, and the tribe members, it’s safe to say they are no longer in place. This chapter is also a gentle reminder that this story isn’t and won’t be a fluffy read. Life can be unfair, difficult, and brutal at times. I understand if you find it not to be your cup of tea. While I am willing to read any and everything, I know that everyone isn’t of the same beliefs and only you can make that call as to whether or not you wish to continue. Next chapter, we will be back to the point in time of the one shot where Bella is on Edward’s show and learn what was going on behind the scenes.