Blood & Glory by Drotuno
The definition of a mercenary is a soldier for hire. His crew are trained fighting machines. Hers are smart PIs. What happens when they need each other to survive? Canon couples. AH/AU. Rated M for lots of reasons, including violence and lemons. Rated: Fiction M
Reviewed by: Jenrar
There are many “—wards” to Edward Cullen: Daddyward, Copward, Vampward, Mobward, Geekward, and Tattward among others... But if you utter the name Mercward around a good number of Twi Fic readers, their hearts will skip a beat, their eyelashes will flutter, and they'll need to change a certain article of clothing. Why? Because to those readers, in which I count myself, Mercward means the Edward from Drotuno's Gravity series. Blood & Glory is fic number one in that series, and it's the story that I fell in love with my first mercenary Edward. He is tough—almost hardened by life—but he is loyal and smart and sexy-as all-hell. And underneath that tough exterior lies a vulnerable man who wants to be loved for something other than what's on the outside. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Here's the summary: The definition of a mercenary is a soldier for hire. His crew are trained fighting machines. Hers are smart PIs. What happens when they need each other to survive?
That last one is the perfect line to describe not only the story, but the whole Gravity series, as well. Edward has become disenchanted with his life as a former soldier turned mercenary. He's become hard to the point that no one but his team and his father can get close—and even those relationships aren't perfect. But when he meets Bella, she becomes a balm to his soul and helps him realize there is something inside him that is worth getting to know and love. As for Bella, she goes through something so horrendous and so scary that it nearly breaks her. Edward, her rescuer, is the one she turns to and the only one that can help her heal. Of course, their relationship isn't always smooth sailing. They both have tempers and can get under each other's skin like no one's business, but underneath it all, even at the beginning, there's attraction and fire. Take this, one of my favorite scenes:
We threw ourselves into running down each flight, and we both came to a standstill when we heard a door slam above us.
"Why'd you take your earpiece out?" I snapped, looking up the stairs and then back down to her.
"I couldn't hear Marshall telling me about the case, Edward. I'm sorry," she panted from our trek down the first five floors, looking up at me.
"Well, maybe if you weren't flirting with every man in there..." I snapped, knowing that was wrong but pushing her to keep going when we heard another door slam above us. "Just...go!"
"Fuck you, Edward," she snapped, turning the corner. "Make sure you tell Tanya hello from me when you call her."
"I'm not calling her," I said in shock but grimaced when Bella's hand grabbed my wrist, pulling our hands up between us. Tanya's slip of paper was still crushed in my grip.
"I heard Jasper," she snorted, rolling her eyes.
I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't take that look of disgust when I didn't deserve it. I pushed her against the wall, panting above her. "Really? Do you want to go there, Isabella?" I sneered, reaching into the pocket that Liam had so kindly tucked his business card in.
Bella gasped when my hand reached inside of her pocket, and I pulled out the card and held it between our faces.
"He gives me work," she whispered, but it didn't quite sound convincing to me. "He uses Gravity for divorce cases..."
"Try again," I growled low, stepping closer. "You're a single girl now. Jake's gone..."
"No," she groaned, shaking her head. "It's not like that, Edward. Sometimes, a woman has to flirt in the business world. Unlike you, where you'd take a second look at anything that smiles your way."
Bella's eyes were dark with her temper, and it didn't help that I was in her face. Her fists were balled up at her sides.
I held up Tanya's phone number, shredding it into a dozen pieces and letting them flutter to the stairwell floor. "I wasn't going to call her."
"I don't care," Bella growled, trying to push past me, but I held firm. "Do what you want."
What I wanted was to kiss Bella senseless. What I wanted was to run the fuck away from her as quickly as possible. What I wanted was to breathe in that sweet and floral scent that wafted in through my bedroom window at the beach house. There was a pull that I was feeling, and it wasn't deniable any more. I wanted her.
"You think you have me figured out, Bella. You don't," I whispered, stepping even closer to her so that our bodies were flush. "If you're the jealous one, just say it," I purred, leaning even closer so that my nose grazed across her cheek.
Bella's breathing sped up, but she didn't move. "I'm not jealous," she said, but it sounded awfully weak to me.
"Liar," I growled, pulling back to look her in the eyes, but she was staring at the wall behind me. "I'll admit that I've had my needs, and they've been taken care of, but I wasn't going to call Tanya..."
"I so don't fucking care," Bella snapped, but she stood her ground, looking up at me. "What's the matter? Tall, busty, blondes aren't your type, pretty boy?"
"Actually, they aren't," I seethed, slamming my palms against the wall on either side of her head. "You drive me crazy, Bella. Why can't you do what you're told? Why can't you follow the plan?"
"I couldn't hear the lawyer. It wasn't out of malice...and I don't answer to you. No one controls me," she growled, placing her hands against my chest, but I wouldn't budge.
"While I'm responsible for your safety, you do fucking answer to me. Hell, you could use some control," I told her with a voice that sounded husky and needy, and I hated it. "Your buddy Liam is more than willing to try. Loved your ass, he did – stared at it the whole time you walked in front of him."
"I can't help it if they look," she hissed, pushing at me. "Tell me, does it make you feel like a god when you get ogled, Edward? Does it build your ego when you've got Mickey jealous, Makenna staring, and Tanya licking her chops for just a taste of you?"
I closed my eyes and shook my head because I just hadn't seen any of that shit. How had she?
"How does your head fit through the door, GI Joe?" Bella asked, pushing at me, but I wasn't moving.
"Shut up," I barked, shaking my head at her. "You don't know anything..."
"Make me, or let's go, Edward," she challenged, and I was done.
I was done because she was fucking panting and pissed off. She was gorgeous and practically shocking me with her hands on my chest. She was shaking and breathless, and she smelled like fucking heaven – like flowers and sugar and all fucking warm, sexy girl.
My mouth dove for hers, and it was angry and commanding, but as soon as I felt her relax into the kiss, I knew it was all over. I'd thought that pulling her out of that fucking dungeon had ruined me, but actually tasting her was a different level of torture altogether. She slipped her hands up my chest, gripping my hair hard, and I couldn't stop the groan that rumbled through my body.
My own hands, which were completely out of my control, pushed off the wall and grabbed her. One shot to her waist, pulling her hips flush to mine, and the other moved to the base of her neck, turning her head to finally let me slide my tongue in.
A whimper gushed against my cheek out of Bella, and she grasped my hair harder. I found myself leaning into her, pressing her into the wall of that stairwell, completely and stupidly oblivious that we should be getting our asses out of that goddamn building.
I massaged her tongue with mine, knowing I was most likely going to regret this action, but I couldn't stop myself. She was so fucking frustrating and beautiful and wild, and I wanted to tame her, but I was slipping ever-so-much more away from what was right and falling right into what I wanted. And her body fit against mine so perfectly that I was about to lose my mind completely.
The door on the level above us slammed, and we both jumped. I took two quick steps away from her, running a hand through my hair nervously.
"Feel better?" she whispered, diving for the stairs quickly.
"Shut you up, didn't it?" I snarked back, shaking my head to clear it.
"Fuck you, Edward," she spit out, taking the next level down.
"You wish, sweetness," I growled, rolling my eyes.
But one of the things I love most about all of Drotuno's stories, including Blood & Glory, is the way she writes her side characters—not only the other “Cullens,” but her original characters, as well. They are so well-rounded, interesting, and there's always something just different enough from anything else I've ever read that I can't help but fall in love. Take Alice, from Blood & Glory. She's a genius with computers, hyper, and loyal and loving to a fault. Here's the first real introduction to Alice (which I loved) in this story:
With a few touches to the screen, he made a call that was loud and clear on speakerphone. It rang a few times before a mumbling but rather fast-talking girl answered.
"Bells, don't you dare renege on an early weekend, you cow! Mack said you gave us today off," she said quickly, shuffling around on the other end of the line.
"Alice, I'm sorry, but it's not Isabella. This is Carlisle Cullen," he said.
There was a squeak and a loud thump on the other end. "Shit, Mr. Cullen, I'm sorry...hey, this is Bella's phone," she growled. "What the hell?"
"I need your help, Alice," my father said, trying to keep a calm voice. "I was supposed to meet Bella, but all I found was a note to call you..."
"Oh-shit, oh-shit, oh-shit," she chanted, and it sounded like she was running. "Give me a sec. Tell me, Mr. Cullen...was her phone taken apart when you got there?"
"Yes, and her gun," he told her, looking around the room. "And call me Carlisle. I have a feeling we're gonna be talking a lot."
"Fuck, fuck, fuck," she chanted. "If she took apart her phone, then she's wearing the GPS chip I gave her..."
"Thank fuck," I growled, thinking that we may be finding Bella sooner than I'd expected after seeing the room.
"Not so fast," she sighed, typing furiously on the other end. "I have to decrypt it and then take the passwords off of it. You'll have to give me time. I'm not at the office."
"We don't have time," Carlisle growled. "She's been taken, Alice."
"Oh, damn! The first twenty-four to forty-eight hours are critical. I know, I know, I know... Ninety-five percent of kidnappers kill their targets within that time frame," she muttered, but it wasn't like she was talking to us; it was like she was just quoting facts to keep her mind focused. "I need...a few hours. Please."
Alice is just one of the great characters in this story. All of Drotuno's characters are fun in their own ways, from the downright scary and creepy to the sweet and innocent.
I urge you, if you haven't read this series, to start with Blood & Glory and read until you've finished them all. Whether you're a fan of all-human stories or not, this one will grab you from minute one, and by the end, you'll love it just as much as I do. Once you finish Blood & Glory, don't forget to check out the others in the series, as well: Sin & Innocence and Smoke & Mirrors. As Drotuno's friend and beta, I may be biased, but her Gravity series has everything you could want in an all-human fic: drama, angst, fluff, lemons, love, swoony-romance, humor... Please, take a minute and try it out. I promise, you won't be sorry.
Conversations Over Coffee by Cosmogirl7481
Conversations over coffee. Sometimes when you meet "the one," falling is easy – as simple as talking. Effortless. You just have to find the words. AH Rated: Fiction M
Dreams past, circumstance and sacrifice... young Edward and Bella bravely smile through the tears on life's complicated path. A short journey of pure and true devotion... of choosing love above all else. EPOV M for Language & Lemons Rated: Fiction M
The Real Life of E A Masen by Vancouver-Canuck-Girl
Edward Cullen - to most, he's a boring book editor but he's really an elusive romance novelist with an erotic flair. When he's not writing porn, I mean romance, he's just a guy who's married to his high school sweetheart and father of three teens. Rated: M
Isabella's life was nothing more than a series of unfortunate events since the day she was born. For her, monsters are real, love is the fantasy, and fate is a cruel mistress. The future's not ours, to see...what will be, will be. AH ExB Rated: Fiction M