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Nightfall

….
He was trying to fight back, the look on his face
told me that much, but it just wasn't happening. He
couldn't look after both of us at the same time. The
tracker had it easy, he was just trying to get rid of
him so he could move on to the main course... to
me.
I tried to scream as a warning when I saw the
tracker's shiny white teeth, covered in my blood,
sinking into his skin and tearing. Up until that
moment I'd thought their skins were impenetrable.
Edward roared in pain, physical pain, but his eyes
widened when the tracker threw him on the floor
and grabbed his wounded flesh. Edward turned his
head to look at me, his eyes reflected so much
sorrow and regret they made me sob even harder.
I wanted to crawl to him, to hold him close and kiss
him for what I knew for sure now would be the last
time but I couldn't move. The only thing I could do
was lie there, in a pool of my own blood, and cry.
He looked at me and time stopped, all my pain
went away when he mouthed the words "I love
you." And then the moment was over. The tracker
smiled, grabbed another handful of Edward's
perfect skin, and pulled. And my whole world came
crashing down.
I sat up sobbing, screaming Edward's name,
shaking like a leaf and drenched in cold sweat.
A pair of iron strong arms circled me and pulled me
back down on the bed.
"Bella, sweetheart calm down! Shh my love, it was
a dream. It was only a dream."
His sweet breath and soothing words made my
screaming stop, I turned around in his arms,
wrapped myself strongly around his hard body and
buried my face in his cold chest. He had
successfully stopped the screaming, but not the
sobbing.
He pressed his cold lips to my forehead and took a
few deep breaths close to my nose. He knew his
smell soothed me and the actual proximity to his
face started to do the trick. After a few moments
the sobbing turned into silent tears. He kissed the
salty tracks on my cheeks, tasting those tears, and
hummed my lullaby softly.
The calming process happened in what seemed
like hours to me but in fact the time that elapsed
from my screaming fit to my quiet cries had been
almost nonexistent. I discovered this when Edward
suddenly went still and cursed under his breath.
Not a moment later I found myself alone in my bed.
I sat up, scared. "Edward!" I called out. I heard him
shushing me from somewhere in the room and
suddenly my door opened. Charlie ran in, wearing
a pair of plaid boxers and a white undershirt.
"Bella! Oh my god are you okay?"
"Dad!" I jumped, surprised. Sometimes it was easy
to forget I still slept in the same house as my
father.
"Honey what's wrong? Did something happen? I
heard you scream."
I sighed "I'm fine dad, I just had a nightmare." I
tried to sound reassuring and calm, anything to get
Charlie out of my room and Edward back in my
bed.
"Are you sure? You sounded terrified. Do you need
anything? A glass of water or a soda?" He hadn't
moved from under my door frame, thankfully he
still felt a little awkward around me and, most of
the time, stayed out of my room. I was really trying
to speed things along.
"I'm fine dad, really, I'm just lucky I didn't fall off
the bed." I didn't mention that it probably had
something to do with the fact that a strong,
graceful vampire had been resting under the
covers with me, clutching me to his strong chest.
Charlie looked relieved. He ran a hand through his
messy hair and sighed "well if you're sure you are
okay I think I'll go back to bed."
I smiled "I should probably do the same. I'll try not
to eat so much before bedtime tomorrow night."
Charlie smiled weakly "You do that Bells, you really
scared me there for a second."
As soon as my dad closed the door behind him, I
felt Edward's arms circling my waist again. I took a
deep breath and turned around to face him.
"So, same dream?" He whispered.
I nodded in the dark but I knew he could both feel
and see me so I didn't bother with a verbal reply.
He sighed, frustrated. He rested his cold cheek on
my forehead and rubbed my back "I never
should've separated myself from you that night."
I kissed his bare chest "It all turned out fine. If a
few nightmares are the prize I have to pay for
everyone I love making it out of that experience
alive then I'm glad to have them."
Edward mumbled something that sounded like
"silly girl" and stroked my hair. "Go back to sleep
Bella."
"Did you go home already?" I couldn't see if he was
wearing the same pants from that afternoon, and
he'd gotten the habit of taking off his shirt when he
joined me in bed, so I couldn't be sure.
He shook his head and I made a face. "Don't worry
my love, it's friday. You can go home with me in
the morning. I'll stay all night."
I smiled against his chest and reached up for a
kiss. His cold lips met mine, unmoving, for a few
seconds before he tucked me back under his arm
and pulled me closer.
Away from his worried stare I was free to think
about that hideous dream. I'd been having it on
and off for a few weeks now. Edward kept saying it
happened because of the trauma that being under
James's power had caused me and I'd agreed with
him, at first. However, the tracker of my dreams
looked nothing like James. Sure he was beautiful
and had almost transparent skin and the same
piercing stare that only vampires could accomplish,
but he was huge! Almost a foot taller than Edward.
And he looked way stronger, even more so than
Emmett. Of course by then I knew that looks had
nothing to do with the actual strength of a
vampire. Part of me knew, as Edward insisted on
repeating every time I talked about James, that if I
were ever attacked again, even by ten vampires at
the same time, my boyfriend would be able to
defend me on his own.
As it turned out, if push came to shove, Edward's
feelings for me made him almost invincible. His
instincts would take over and he would kill anyone
who even thought about going near me... or so he
said. That dream, however, had planted serious
doubts in me, even after he told me that was "not
how it worked", that it was way harder to kill one of
his kind.
By then Edward had gotten pretty good at
identifying the nightmare before it ended in a
screaming fit such as the one I threw that night.
Usually at the first sign of whimpering he'd be on
top of me, pressing his body gently against the
whole length of mine, whispering soothing words in
my ear and breathing steadily so I would know for
a fact that he was still alive... or at the very least
still kicking. He must have been distracted that
night, or maybe I hadn't made a warning sound.
Either way I knew he'd be paying much closer
attention in the next few days.
As I remembered the dream tears rolled down my
cheeks and into his arm again. He kissed the back
of my head and whispered "I love you Bella. You
are safe with me."
"I know I am, but what about you?"
He kissed my head again "I will always be fine, as
long as I'm with you."
I smiled against his arm and hoped against hope
that my nightmare was just that, a nightmare.
It was past ten when I woke up the next morning.
Edward had kept his promise, he was still holding
me close.
As soon as he sensed I was awake he kissed the
base of my neck. My heart raced as it always did
when he touched me, specially with his lips.
"Good morning beautiful."
I smiled and turned around to face him. "Mmm did
Charlie leave yet?"
My own, personal, greek god smiled "Hours ago.
But not before checking up on you a few times I
might add." He kissed my nose and I smiled. I
wrapped my hands around his neck and ran them
down his chest, where they came to rest next to
his unbeating heart. His eyes flashed with
something I'd been seeing a lot more lately.
Something I could only categorize as lust. Once
he'd gotten over his incredible hunger for me, after
he had tasted my blood and decided he could stop
himself from devouring me whole, his human
instincts resurfaced, way stronger than before.
We were both painfully aware of the fact that we
would not be able to do anything to satiate that
human need for as long as I myself remained
mortal, but that did not keep us from playing
around a little every morning.
Edward flipped me gently on my back and parted
my legs with his. He laid down on top of me and,
with a soft and playful growl, covered my soft lips
with his cold ones. I tried not to move too much
under him, he still tended to run far away from me
every time I'd let myself go and kissed him back
too forcefully, so I very slowly ran my hands up and
down his back while he caressed my face with his
cold fingertips, his lips never leaving my own.
After a few moments, however, I grimaced. He
frowned and pushed himself up on his elbows.
"What is it? Do I have morning breath?" He joked. I
rolled my eyes, if anyone had morning breath it
would have had to be me, but after a month of me
needing "human minutes" before kissing him every
morning he assured me my morning breath was
every bit as sweet and inviting to him as my "just
brushed" breath, so I stopped.
When I didn't answer for a few moments he grew
concerned. "Am I hurting you?" in a movement too
fast for me to catch he was standing next to my
bed.
"No, you did not hurt me, silly."
Edward's frowned deepened "then what's with the
face?"
I wrinkled my forehead and, in what I'm sure was a
very childlike voice, said "I have an itch."
Edward stared at me dumfounded for a moment
before laughter took over him. His musical
response which I loved so much, did nothing to
alleviate my problem. I sat up, threw the covers off
me and stared at the walking cast on my leg with
hatred. "I'm so glad you're coming off tomorrow" I
spoke to it as I reached for the pencil I kept in my
night stand. I jammed it down my cast and
scratched furiously, pissed at myself for ruining my
moment with Edward.
He sat by the window and smiled while I scratched
away. After a moment of furious jamming, my leg
felt better and Edward walked over to the bed,
lifted me into his arms, and took me to the kitchen.
"Feeding time for the human." He'd grown quite
fond of that phrase. He sat me down on a chair and
started making me a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich, one of the few things he could prepare
for me without worrying about how it tasted. I
gulped down my sandwich and a tall glass of milk
while he watched, then he carried me back upstairs
and into the bathroom. He produced a plastic bag
from his back pocket, which he proceeded to tie to
my casted leg.
"Can you shower on your own?" He asked as usual
and, as usual, I said yes. Alice had stopped going
to my place to help me shower ever since I'd
gotten the walking cast. I was able to do pretty
much everything on my own but that didn't keep
Edward from worrying.
He waited in my bedroom while I showered and
dried my hair. Then he carried me down the stairs
and into my truck, which he drove to his house as
fast as it would allow.
When we got to Edward's, Alice was waiting for us
by the front door. As soon as my truck pulled up
she smiled excitedly, jumped up and down a few
times and then ran away. I glanced suspiciously at
Edward.
"What's going on?" I asked.
He was by my door before I could turn my head
around. "What do you mean?"
I narrowed my eyes "I mean Alice just told you
something and I want to know what it is."
Edward smiled and cradled me to his chest. "It's a
surprise."
A million things ran through my head right then
"I'm not a big fan of surprises." I grumbled before
adding "and I'm perfectly capable of walking
around by myself you know? You don't have to
carry me all the time."
He smiled at my annoyed expression "If I let you
wobble around by yourself you'll probably break
your other leg, not to mention it'd take forever.
Besides, what would be the fun in that?"
I pouted while he carried me through the front
door, up the two flights of stairs, all the way down
to his bedroom door, which was closed. He placed
me on the ground gently and grabbed the
doorknob. "Close your eyes."
I did as I was told and resisted the urge to peek
while he opened the door. Suddenly I felt gentle
hands taking my own away from my face. I opened
my eyes and gasped.
The big couch that I had gotten so used to had
been pushed to the side of the room. In it's place
stood a magnificent four poster bed. It was tall and
huge, made out of dark wood. Edward picked me
up again and laid me down on the comforter. It was
so incredibly soft I felt like I was sinking into it. I
was so awed I couldn't speak.
Edward laid down next to me and watched me
struggle with words until finally I managed to
choke out "wow, it's beautiful." I looked hopefully
into his eyes "Why did you get a bed though?"
He took a strand of my hair between his fingers
and pulled it behind my ear. "Well, now that you're
getting your cast off I figured your dad would
probably let you come and spend the night here
with Alice every once in a while, considering he
loves her so much. Since we have plenty of
parental supervision I hope he won't mind much. I
just wanted you to feel more at home here."
My smile had frozen on my lips. Although it was a
very sweet gesture it wasn't exactly what I'd been
hoping for. I tried not to let him know that though,
it would probably just upset him. But in spite of my
best efforts he read right through me, as always.
"Bella, what's wrong?" He pushed himself up with
one elbow to look at me.
"Nothing. I love it. It was so sweet of you to think of
me this way." I tried to smile sincerely.
He wasn't buying it. "You're upset. No, wait, you're
disappointed. Were you expecting something
else?"
"No! Oh no no, it's perfect! Really, the bed is
amazing." No matter how convincing I tried to
sound he was having none of it.
"Bella, please tell me what's wrong."
I sighed, I could never say no to that penetrating
stare of his. "I just thought... I thought you'd
bought this bed for us to... share."
He frowned "I did."
I could feel myself blushing "no I mean... really
share."
His eyes widened in surprise "Bella! We've talked
about this. You know we can't..."
"I know" I interrupted.
"Then how..."
"Well I was hoping..."
He sat up so suddenly he startled me "You were
hoping what?"
I sighed again, we'd had this conversation what felt
like a million times before "I was hoping you'd
decided to turn me."
He growled in exasperation and let himself fall
back down on the bed. "I will not get into this with
you again Isabella."
Isabella... he really must have been mad.
"Edward! By now you should've realized I'm not
backing down on this."
"Well neither am I."
"This is my choice Edward, when are you going to
accept that?"
He rolled his eyes "Do not throw temper tantrums
with me Bella, I'm not your father."
My jaw fell to the floor with those words. For a
moment I felt hurt, then embarrassed, then just
plain mad. It took all the concentration I had left in
me to jump off the bed without killing myself in the
process.
"Bella, where are you going?" Edward's voice had
just a hint of regret in it.
"I'm gonna go throw my temper tantrums away
from you." I made my way out his bedroom and
into the bathroom at the end of the hall. I would've
liked to have gone further but without my crutches
there was only a certain length I could travel
without falling flat on my face.
I closed the bathroom door, locked it, and leaned
against it. I knew Edward was standing on the
other side of it even before he spoke.
"Bella. I'm sorry, I didn't mean that. Would you
please come out here so we can talk?"
I didn't answer.
"Bella? Don't make me break down this door."
I bit my lip and kept quiet. I knew he'd never even
try to push the door open by force if there was any
chance I could be leaning against it. And I knew he
knew exactly where I was standing.
"Isabella Cullen! If you don't open this door right
now..."
I froze. My hands quickly found the doorknob and I
unlocked it as fast as I could. I opened the door
slowly, my eyes wide.
Edward was standing on the other side, in his eyes
I could see a hint of shock and... was that
embarrassment?
"What did you just call me?" I whispered.
Edward had stopped breathing. With the little air
he still had in his lungs he whispered back "I'm
sorry."
I frowned "Don't be."
I raised my arms and he gratefully sank into my
waiting embrace. He buried his face in my hair and
whispered "I say your name like that in my head
sometimes, just to see how it'd sound. I guess I've
been talking to myself a little too much lately."
I smiled and leaned away from him to look into his
eyes. "Isabella Cullen... it has a nice ring to it
doesn't it?"
He laughed and lifted me by the waist. "Yes, yes it
does."
As he carried me back to his bedroom I forgot all
about our fight, for a while.
That night when Edward drove me back to my
house we discovered Billy's car parked on the
driveway.
Edward groaned as he undoubtedly listened to
both the thoughts and the conversation of the two
men inside my house.
"What's going on?" I asked him.
"Apparently Billy's finally had enough of his cryptic
warnings. He's telling Charlie that he should be
careful with you. He thinks you're... too far gone."
He said that last part with anger.
Edward's hands were shaking. I took them in mine
to calm him down. He didn't even look at me
though, he kept staring at the house as if he could
somehow see the two men sitting in my living
room. "He's telling Charlie what to watch for! If you
get paler than usual all of a sudden or if you stop
eating, if your mood changes or if... If you grow
fangs! That's ridiculous! We don't grow fangs!"
Edward was really mad, plus I could tell he was
offended by the whole fangs thing somehow.
I couldn't help myself, I had to giggle at his
expression.
"You think it's funny? The old man is in there trying
to convince your father to forbid you to see me!"
I smiled "And what exactly is Charlie thinking just
about now?"
Edward frowned, he concentrated a little and then
mumbled "He thinks it's ridiculous, he thinks the
old man is losing it."
I nodded, even thought I was upset with Billy for
sticking his nose in my business so often I knew my
dad had heard all that before, and I knew he'd
never buy it.
"I'm going inside. Stay close." I reached out to kiss
him gently.
He returned the light kiss "Always." He whispered.
In a blink he was lifting me out of the truck and
setting me down in front of my door. I opened it
and wobbled inside.
"Bella! I'm glad you're home. How was your
afternoon?" Charlie was clearly desperate for some
sane company.
"It was fine dad. Dr. Cullen is going to take my cast
off tomorrow. I'm starving."
Charlie stood up and almost ran to the kitchen.
"Let me get you something to eat for a change."
And just like that, I was stuck in the living room,
alone with Billy.
"Please stop what you're doing." I whispered to
him.
He turned around to face me "You took the words
right off my mouth."
I sighed "Please Billy, can't you give it a rest? They
are good people."
"I'm looking out for you Bella. I just want you to get
as far away from them as you possibly can before
you get sucked so far into their world you'll never
be able to leave."
I stared into Billy's soft eyes while I said "Oh Billy,
it's way too late for that." Then I turned around and
limped up the stairs. My dad reappeared when I
was halfway up.
"Bella, what about your dinner?"
"I suddenly lost my appetite dad. I think I'll take a
shower and go to bed."
I jumped on one foot all the way to the bathroom,
surprisingly without tripping. I got the tub filled
with scalding hot water, slipped some bubbles into
the mix, stripped down, wrapped my cast in plastic,
lit a candle, turned off the lights and got in.
Once I was settled and sure that every important
part of my body was well covered with bubbles I
whispered urgently into the darkness of the
bathroom "Edward!"
"That man can really get on my nerves." He was
sitting on the counter by the sink, as comfortable
as if he'd been sitting there all along.
I rubbed my forehead with my right hand. "I'm so
glad Charlie isn't into urban legends."
Edward stared at me for a second and was
suddenly kneeling next to the bathtub. "Are you
feeling okay?"
I frowned "Yeah, I just feel a headache coming."
He rubbed my forehead, looking concerned. "You
sure?"
I nodded. His beautiful face too close for me to
speak coherently. I was suddenly painfully aware of
the fact that I was completely naked under all
those bubbles.
I must have blushed because he laughed softly and
whispered in my ear "Don't worry my love, I won't
peek."
I turned tomato red and, holding my breath,
disappeared under the bubbles.
"Coud someode just kill me now pdease?" I was
sitting on Edward's living room, my head resting on
his lap and my now castless feet propped up on a
bunch of pillows. I was nursing the mother of all
colds, something Emmett found very amusing.
"Be careful what you wish for in a house full of
vampires Bella" He warned in a joking tone.
"Fine, could someone just Turn me now please?"
Emmett laughed wholeheartedly. Edward just
scowled, never taking his eyes off the TV. Alice
waltzed in just then, holding a box of tissues for
me.
"Thank you Alice! You're a lifesaver!" I accepted
the box gratefully and used one of the tissues to
stop the endless stream of snot. Jasper appeared
then and all of a sudden a sense of calm and
wellness filled me.
"And thanks to you too Jasper. Now stay here for
the rest of my illness." Jasper smiled. Edward
finally took pity on me and bent down to kiss my
burning forehead. He rested his cold cheek against
my warm skin and I sighed. I was as close to being
comfortable as I was going to get for a while.
"Here Bella, I made you some chicken soup." Esme
set a tray of food down in front of me. I was so
grateful to all of them, my adopted family. Carlisle
had checked up on me before leaving for the
hospital and Rosalie... well she hadn't said
anything. But then again, she hadn't said anything.
I was just lying there thinking about how good my
life was, in spite of the coughing, when suddenly it
hit me. Something was wrong, something was very,
very wrong.
Edward had stiffened. I looked up to see what had
caused his stillness and that's when I saw her. Alice
was standing next to the coffee table, her eyes
wide. Edward let out a yelp and covered his ears
with his hands "Alice! Stop yelling!" even though I
couldn't hear a sound.
She had stopped breathing, her wild eyes flickered
to mine for a fraction of a second. Edward sat me
up and wrapped his arms around me. He pulled me
to him with such force I was sure it was taking
every inch of control he had not to crush me to his
chest.
"What the hell is going on?" Emmett sat up straight
and stared from Edward to Alice and back to
Edward.
"Someone is coming." Edward answered simply.
Jasper ran to Alice's side. He'd gotten a pencil and
a piece of paper from somewhere. She took them
from him and her hand became a blur. She was
drawing while she talked. "A group, maybe eight.
They are still far away but they will come."
"Do they know we're here?" Esme asked.
"No, they are not coming here for us."
"Then why?" Rosalie had appeared out of thin air.
She was covered in oil but she still looked stunning
just standing there next to Emmett.
"One of them wants Bella." Edward answered for
Alice.
Rosalie frowned "what do you mean "wants
Bella"?"
Edward was mad, his lips trembled when he said "I
mean he wants her the way I want her. Or at least
he will as soon as he smells her."
Rosalie rolled her eyes, then she addressed me for
what might have been the first time ever "Honestly
girl, would it kill you to smell like everybody else?"
Edward growled deeply and Rosalie backed off. My
eyebrows shot up in surprise but I said nothing
while the vampires talked so quickly and quietly I
couldn't quite make out their words.
I did catch the end of the conversation "So he's not
hunting her yet?"
"No." Alice answered this time "But he will be
soon."
And then I froze. Time stopped for me, I forgot to
breathe, I forgot to think.
"Bella? Bella what's wrong?" Edward shook me
gently.
"That's him." I whispered.
"That's who?" Edward frowned.
I pointed at the picture Alice had just drawn. "The
tracker from my dreams. The one that kills us both.
It's him."
Edward glanced up at Alice. Even though I was too
terrified to think straight, I could still see her very
faint nod.
Alaska
I pointed at the picture Alice had just drawn. "The
tracker from my dreams, the one that kills us both.
It's him."
Edward glanced up at Alice. Even though I was too
terrified to think straight, I could still see her very
faint nod.
Everyone turned around to look at Edward then
and the room fell silent. He had closed his eyes and
was now standing there, unmoving. After a few
moments his hand went up to rub his eyes and he
yelled, "Will everyone please stop thinking for a
moment! I can't order my thoughts when you're all
talking to me at the same time! Ask her!"
I frowned as every pair of eyes except for Edward's
turned suddenly to stare at me. Finally Emmett
spoke "What dreams?"
I sat back down on the couch and whispered, "I've
been having this dream lately... Edward and I are
being attacked by that guy."
"And?" Carlisle prodded after I made a pause.
"And he wins." I said simply.
Silence fell over the Cullen's residency once again.
When Esme spoke, she did so in a whisper. "He
kills you both?"
I opened my mouth to say yes but stopped myself.
A confused look spread over my face. Even Edward
stared at me curiously when I didn't answer right
away.
"I don't know." I confessed.
"You don't know?" Edward repeated. He sounded
so mad his voice made me flinch.
"Well no, the dream always ends when he kills you
but I'm still alive."
"But you've been bitten." Emmett interrupted.
I nodded. That much I knew for sure. I had felt that
kind of fire only once before in my life.
"Wait, Wait!" Rosalie shook her head "So what if
she's had some weird dreams? We might be used
to Alice telling us about the future but let's all
remember this girl is just a human. It's just a silly
human dream of hers."
Her words felt like a slap to the face. She wouldn't
even say my name. I once again wondered why
she hated me so much. But then again, I
desperately wanted her to be right.
Alice sat down next to me and took my hand.
Edward was still standing. He had turned away
from me and covered his eyes with his hands. Alice
bit her lip "I don't know why she dreamed what she
did but Rosalie, if it was that exact guy... I don't
see them fighting, but I know it will get to that. He
wants her, but I don't know what he'll do to her. He
will kill you to get to her, Edward. There is only one
way out of this one."
"No!" Edward's voice sounded broken, "I will not
turn her." I could feel the pain in his voice even
thought I couldn't see his face. I stood up, walked
over to him and moved his hands away from his
eyes. When his gaze met mine he pulled me into a
fierce hug and buried his face on my shoulder.
"Why does this keep happening to us? Why do you
attract trouble like this, Bella? Why?"
Emmett whispered, as if not to interrupt his
brother's laments "Just do it Edward, she'll be safe
then."
"No!" Edward growled, "I will not end her life."
"You are right. I don't want you to turn me." The
room fell silent again at my words. He looked up
from my shoulder, a frown on his face. "What?" He
asked. He'd gotten so used to me begging for his
bite that it struck him as odd that I'd refuse all of a
sudden. He looked, to be honest, a little hurt.
"I don't want you to turn me like this. When it
happens, and it IS going to happen Edward, I want
it to be because we both decided it. I don't want
you to regret it or feel guilty about it, ever."
Edward stared at me in awe. He couldn't even find
the words to disagree with me.
"Well Bella, we're open to suggestions here."
Emmett threw his hands in the air at our
stubbornness.
"How long do you think we have before they go
through Forks?" I asked Alice, my eyes never
leaving Edward's.
"I don't know. They'll probably be here in a week.
They come from the south."
"Then let's go up." I told Edward.
"Up?" He asked.
"Yes, don't you have relatives in Alaska?"
Emmett let out a snort. I couldn't tell if it was
because of my use of the word "relatives" or
because he was once again amazed by the fact
that a simple human like me could come up with
an alternate plan.
"You and I can go up there for a week and wait for
them to leave. By the time they get here my scent
won't be so strong and they won't be able to follow
us. We can come back once we're sure they are
gone for good."
Carlisle smiled "You are forgetting one little thing."
I frowned "What?" "School's already started Bella,
how are you going to explain a week of absence to
your father?"
"We can get married. We'll elope and that will be
our honeymoon." Edward said simply.
My eyes widened "I won't marry you!"
He visibly flinched and moved away from me at my
harsh words. He looked more hurt than I had ever
seen him before. I spoke quickly to correct my
mistake. "I mean I will not marry you now. Edward,
it's the same thing as me being turned. The first
time we get married I want it to be because we
want to, not because I have to explain a week of
absence to Charlie! Besides, I refuse to marry you
until we can have a proper honeymoon, which
means you have to turn me first. Not to mention
I'm still a minor for another month and I can not
elope."
He'd started smiling in the middle of my speech. By
the time I was done talking he was grinning in spite
of himself "The first time we get married?"
"Yes well, who knows how may weddings we're
going have to have? I mean Emmett and Rosalie
have been alive for less than a century and how
many have they had? Six?"
"Just four actually." Rosalie answered.
"Let's get back to the matter at hand. If you two
won't get married and you can't just leave, what
are we going to tell your father?" Esme asked.
"We'll tell him Edward's birth father is very ill and
he wants to go meet him before he dies. We'll have
to go with parental supervision though." I looked
hopefully at Esme.
"I'll go with you. I've been wanting to visit our old
friends anyway." Carlisle offered. I could tell it
wasn't just the old friendships he craved. He
wanted to be there in case we ran into any trouble.
Emmett was staring at me "Kid, you never cease to
amaze me. You have a killer mind." He looked
awed. Rosalie slapped the back of his head.
Edward's worried frown had returned. "Alice, will
that work?" Alice closed her eyes for a moment
before answering, "It might. It's your best shot. But
Edward, if things change, if it seems like something
is going to go wrong..."
"If it comes to losing me or turning me he'll do it." I
answered for both of us. He closed his eyes and
trembled with the frustration that this situation
caused him but he didn't deny my statement.
Carlisle was already at the door when he said "Let's
go to Charlie, we leave tonight."
Edward waited in the car while Carlisle and I talked
to my father. He wasn't happy about me missing
school for a whole week but he seemed to
understand how important it was for Edward to
have me there when he visited his birth father.
Besides, he was incapable of denying anything to
Carlisle.
They waited downstairs while I packed. As soon as I
entered my room I discovered that Edward already
had most of my winter clothes in a suitcase.
"We are gonna have to go shopping somewhere in
Canada. If I take you to Alaska with only this things
we're not going to have to worry about killer
vampires."
I rolled my eyes and opened the drawer where I
kept my underwear only to find it empty. A wave of
embarrassment went through me then as I tried to
remember if I'd at least folded my plain, white
panties properly. Edward had his arms around me
in an instant.
"Don't be embarrassed Bella, you have beautiful
undergarments."
The heat spread through my whole body as I said
"You know, I'm perfectly capable of packing
everything myself." He kissed my cheek with his
cold lips and whispered "You can go through my
underwear drawer when we get back home if it
makes you feel better. They are just clothes Bella.
Besides, you have absolutely nothing to be
embarrassed about with me."
I sighed. He was right of course, but still...
As I looked at my open suitcase, a horrible feeling
in the pit of my stomach made me tremble. I sat
down on the bed and grabbed my pillow. "I should
probably take this right? I mean why would
vampires have pillows? It's not like I can't sleep
without one, I mean, you make a very nice pillow
but soft pillows are nice to have around." I was
rambling of course. I had suddenly realized that we
were in deep trouble, again. Plus, if my dreams
really were premonitions, Edward was in more
danger than ever.
Sensing my panic, he knelt down between my legs
and pulled me to him. I wrapped myself around
him and held him close. "I will never let anything
happen to you Bella. You are my life. I'd rather die
than see you suffer."
"That's exactly what bothers me." Desperate tears
filled my eyes "I can not exist without you Edward,
my life started when I met you and it will surely
end if you ever leave me. You don't know how
alone I felt before you."
He let out a chuckle that sounded more like a sob
"Oh yes my love, I do know." He took my cheeks
between his cold hands and pressed his hard lips
to mine. Tears rolled down my face and through his
fingers while he held me. I completely forgot to
breathe while our lips were touching. He noticed,
broke the kiss and gently shook me out of my
stupor. When I inhaled again, my head swimming,
he smiled gently and rested his cool forehead
against mine.
"Let's go, the sooner we get out of here the
better." He let go of me so fast I almost fell flat on
my face. When I turned around to look for him he
was already gone. I grabbed my suitcase, threw my
bag of toiletries and my sock full of money in it
before closing it and hurried down the stairs.
Carlisle and Charlie were sitting in the living room.
They both had cups of coffee in their hands, even
though Carlisle's was almost full. They stood as
soon as they saw me at the foot of the stairs.
Carlisle hurried to take my bag and went to put it
in the trunk while Charlie said goodbye to me.
"Take care of yourself Bells, stay safe." He stood a
few feet away from me, awkwardly trying to decide
whether to hug me or just let me go. I solved the
dilemma for him when I threw my arms around his
neck for an instant.
"I will dad." I was already halfway to the door when
I said that.
"Wait Bella." I stopped and cursed to myself "Take
this." He shoved a bunch of twenties into my
hands. "Buy yourself a heavier jacket. Canada can
be a very cold place."
I nodded and smiled. I was relieved to know
Carlisle hadn't told him where we were really
going. "Thanks dad."
"Hey, no problem"
"No, I mean, for being okay with this."
Charlie shrugged "That boy really loves you Bella,
he seems to depend on you." It looked like he was
still trying to decide if that was a good thing or not.
I gave him a tiny smile "I love him and depend on
him too dad." I admitted. It struck me as odd that I
didn't feel the tiniest bit embarrassed when I said
that.
He nodded "Dr. Cullen is waiting."
I kissed his cheek and ran out into the pouring rain,
closing the door behind me.
It took less than 30 seconds for Carlisle and
Edward to pack. Esme handed me a plastic bag
that contained an apple, a sandwich, a chocolate
and a soda. The Cullens had been nice enough to
keep some food in the house for me at all times. A
wave of love for all of them washed over me at the
gesture.
Alice pointed at a small suitcase by the door. "I
packed some of my winter things for you. Edward
should take you shopping anyway, since my shirts
and pants won't fit you, but the coats and gloves
should be fine."
I frowned "You own gloves?" I knew for a fact she
didn't need them. She flashed me a toothy smile
"Hey, gloves can be very 'in' every few decades." I
smiled for a moment but sobered up almost
instantly. "Alice, I need you to do something for
me."
She nodded. "Anything."
"I need you to tell me what's going on at all times.
Edward might try to keep some things from me. If
things seem to be getting too dangerous and it
looks like he might get hurt..."
Alice brushed a strand of hair away from my face
"Silly Bella, Edward can take care of himself. Try
not to worry."
I refused to give in "Promise me Alice." She sighed
in defeat and nodded. Then she held out her arms
and I walked into her cold embrace willingly. I
loved her like a sister. I was going to miss her a lot,
even if we were only going away for a week. For
some reason, I felt like I had to say my goodbyes
properly. She reached into her back pocket and
gave me a package of tissues. I laughed. I was so
worried I'd completely forgotten about my cold.
"Just take care of yourself Bella, I'll look after the
rest of us."
"And Charlie..."
"Charlie too."
I smiled and kissed her cheek. Her hand shot up to
the spot where my lips had been for a moment.
She seemed to be relishing in the warmth.
"No wonder Edward can't stay away from you, the
heat of humans does feel good."
I remembered she had no memory of ever being
touched by someone before becoming a vampire
and for an instant I really understood why Edward
refused to change me. But then the moment was
gone and I was once again filled with the constant
fear of not being with him forever.
I hugged Alice one last time before saying goodbye
to Esme. Emmett ruffled my hair and just said,
"Take good care of yourself kid. I kinda like having
you around."
Rosalie was nowhere to be seen but Jasper was
there. I smiled at him and said goodbye. He stuck
out his hand, as if he wanted to shake mine. I
offered my hand to him and he squeezed it
between both of his. Immediately I felt calmer and
very sleepy.
Edward flew down the stairs then, with Carlisle at
his heels. He lifted me into his strong arms and I
rested my head against his marble-like neck
without protest.
"She'll be out for a few hours." I heard Jasper
telling Edward.
"Thank you." His reply was the last thing I heard
before falling into the deepest of sleeps.
When I woke up screaming I was lying in the back
of Carlisle's Mercedes. Edward had pulled me into
his lap as soon as I opened my eyes and he started
rocking me back and forth to calm me down.
"It's okay my love, you're safe here with me. I'm
sorry, I'm sorry. You can relax now."
I couldn't understand what was happening. The
images of Edward's death were still too recent in
my mind for me to stop crying. He kept rocking me
and whispering loving words in a soothing voice
until I regained my bearings.
"Why are you sorry?" I asked him after I'd shaken
the horrible nightmare from my mind.
"Because I didn't wake you when you started to
dream." He kissed the top of my head and held me
a little closer.
"Why didn't you?" I wasn't upset, just curious.
"We need you to get as far into the dream as
possible so we can get some details. Bella I'm
going to walk you through your dream like we do
with Alice's visions okay?"
I hated the idea of reliving the nightmare but I
knew it was necessary so I nodded.
"Were we indoors or outdoors?"
I shook my head "I'm not sure, I don't think there
were walls around us but it didn't feel like we were
out in the open."
"Was it day or night?" Edward asked.
"I can't tell, it was either cloudy or we were
indoors... or maybe in the shade."
"Was it cold?"
"It's hard to tell, I couldn't feel anything over the
pain."
"Where was the pain coming from?"
"All over."
"Were you bleeding?"
"Profusely."
Edward closed his eyes and let out a shaky breath.
It took him a second to regain his composure.
"Where did he bite you? Was it a clean bite or did
he tear your skin?"
I frowned "I don't know."
"Well where was the pain coming from?"
"I told you, all over."
"But where did it originate?"
"I'm not sure."
"Bella, if he'd just sunk his teeth on you, you'd feel
the fire coming from there."
I rubbed my eyes with my hands. Tears of
desperation had started to form. I felt like I was
letting him down.
"Edward I don't know! I'm sorry I can't tell!"
Carlisle must have told Edward to calm down, or
maybe it'd been the high pitch of my voice.
Whatever the reason, Edward crushed me to his
chest and started rocking me again.
"I'm sorry Bella I'm sorry. I'm just trying to
understand."
"Well so am I." I replied.
He kissed me softly for a moment. "I love you, I
want to make you safe. Everything I do, I do it for
you."
I nodded "I know, I love you too."
"I think it's time for a break." Carlisle interrupted.
Edward agreed. "That's enough questioning for
now."
Carlisle parked the car in what I soon realized was
the underground parking lot of a mall. Edward
helped me out and wrapped his arm around my
waist, holding me up. My leg was stiff from being in
the car for so many hours, not to mention it was
still weak from the months it'd spent in a cast.
Looking back, it surprised me I'd been able to get
through the day pretty much on my own two feet.
"We won't" Edward answered Carlisle's mental
request for us to not take too long.
We walked through the mall as quickly as we could
without arising suspicion. It was hard to go around
unnoticed with Edward's inhuman beauty though.
He quickly took me into a crowded clothing store
and started grabbing as many warm garments as
he could find. I managed to look at the price tag of
one of the heavy coats he was carrying and my
eyes widened.
"Edward, I don't need all this things! We're just
going to be up there for a week! Besides, I don't
have nearly enough money..."
"Don't be silly Bella. Besides, we never know what
might happen. You might need them."
I scowled "Alice already leant me some coats
anyway." Edward stopped short so fast I would've
tripped over if he hadn't been holding me up with
one arm.
"Bella, please, will you just let me spoil you? Just
this once."
I sighed and rolled my eyes but didn't complain
again. If buying things for me made him happy for
the time being then I could deal. I'd talk to him
later about this habit his family had of getting me
expensive things.
He didn't even ask for my pants size when he
reached the rack. He just grabbed a handful of the
warmest ones he could find in an assortment of
colors and threw the whole bunch on the counter.
He slapped a credit card on top of the pile without
even allowing me to try anything on but somehow I
knew every single thing he'd chosen for me would
fit perfectly and look better on me than anything I
currently owned.
The girl behind the register had been staring at us
the whole time we'd been in the store and looked a
little surprised at our behavior. She would, no
doubt, be telling her girlfriends soon about the
incredibly handsome guy who walked into the store
with an average girl hanging from his arm and
spent exactly five minutes purchasing as many
clothes as he could for her.
Edward grabbed the bag with my new clothes and
guided me to the next store, where he proceeded
to buy thick warm booths in three different colors
and stiles. Three pair of boots were ridiculous, but
I'd agreed to keep my mouth shut for the time
being. However, when he waltzed me into a jewelry
store I had to put my foot down.
"Edward no. I'll let you buy me things that are at
least a little necessary but nothing as superfluous
as this."
He rolled his eyes at me but left the store
nevertheless. He guided me towards the food court
instead and got a hamburger, large fries and a
coke for me. He wanted me to eat it in the car but,
in spite of his best efforts, my leg was too tired to
walk any further at the moment. He would've
carried me back but the mall was so full of people
we were bound to attract even more attention to
ourselves. Besides, we had time.
He sat down next to me and observed me while I
ate. I gulped down a piece of cardboard tasting
hamburger and said. "Edward, can I ask you a
question?"
He nodded, so I continued, "Where did you get so
much money from?"
Edward chuckled "Well, you are aware of the fact
that we could rob a bank faster than the cashier
could blink?"
I stared at him with wide eyes, he laughed
wholeheartedly "Not that we'd ever have to resort
to that. My family has been around for centuries
Bella, or at least Carlisle has. And with the help of
Alice's abilities we've been able to do reasonably
well in the stock market."
I frowned "How well?"
"Well... we've pretty much owned a large piece of
almost every major company at some point or
another. We usually just buy at the right time, cash
in soon afterwards and place the money in an
offshore account. It helps us stay off the radar."
I tried not to let my jaw drop "An offshore
account?" I'd only heard of those in economy class.
He nodded "The best thing men could've invented
for us. It's made our lives so much easier. It's
incredibly less difficult to disappear when you have
unlimited resources."
I'd stopped eating all together sometime in the
middle of his story. There were still so many things
I didn't know about the Cullen's it amazed me.
"Bella, do you think you can walk now?"
I moved my leg around a little and grimaced.
Edward sighed, threw my half eaten food into a
brown paper bag, grabbed all our purchases in one
hand and lifted me up with the other one. He
wrapped his free arm around my waist and lifted
me less tan an inch off the ground.
"Try not to put any weight on it. I'll carry you." And
with that he dove into the crowd of people, walking
as fast as he could towards the parking lot.
"Is something wrong?" I asked him in a hushed
voice.
"Carlisle is just getting impatient. We really
shouldn't have taken this long."
I looked at his other hand, which was carrying way
more than a normal person could, and then down
at my tired feet which barely touched the ground.
One thing was for sure, being a vampire's girlfriend
did have it's perks.
After a very long ride, in which I was contempt with
just resting my head on Edward's lap and either
sleeping or staring at him, we stopped at a gas
station. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that
the consuming panic that had taken over me the
last time I'd been in a similar situation never came.
It probably had something to do with the fact that
my beautiful guardian angel was right there with
me instead of being off chasing the man who
wanted to kill me.
We'd stopped to refill a few times on the way and
I'd slept through most of them, but this time
Edward woke me up with a kiss.
"Bella, we need to buy some food for you. I doubt
our friends will have anything for humans in their
kitchen." I rubbed my sleep filled eyes with the
palms of my hands and sat up. We seemed to be in
a city. I'd fallen asleep while it was still dark, but it
looked like it was maybe 7 am. Had we been
traveling for that long? Or was it that little? I was
totally confused.
"What time is it?" I grunted. My watch said four,
probably a.m.
"It's early in the morning probably." Edward was
looking inside one of our shopping bags that he'd
dumped on the front seat at the mall. I frowned
"My watch says four"
Edward smiled "That would be four p.m. Bella.
Different time zones." I groaned. This was totally
going to screw up my sleeping patterns when we
got back home.
"Well, let's go buy myself some food." I opened the
car door on my side and closed it again almost
instantly. Edward was trying hard not to laugh at
the look on my face.
"Is something wrong honey?"
"It's cold!" I shuddered. He laughed and handed
me the long coat he'd taken from the plastic
shopping bag. "This is Alaska Bella."
"Yes, but it's september!" Edward laughed again.
He opened his door and was outside opening mine
before I could turn my head around. I stumbled
over my own feet and Edward steadied me, but
then he let go of my arm. I frowned.
"You coming?"
He looked up at the sky. It was clear. He was
standing safely in the shade next to the gas pump.
Carlisle was checking the front tires, he was also in
the shade. "Oh, right." I started walking again. It
was amazing how used I'd gotten to the constant
clouds of Forks.
A cold hand wrapped itself around my wrist,
stopping my advances and throwing off my
balance again. Edward handed me his credit card.
"Get as much food as you can carry." I slapped the
credit card back into his palm "Let me get my own
food."
He opened his mouth to protest but I interrupted
"Hey! You hunt your way, I hunt mine, and with my
own resources."
It looked like he wanted to fight me on that but I
stepped out of the shade quickly so he wouldn't be
able to follow and almost ran into the mini market.
There wasn't much to choose from. A few cans of
tuna, some canned fruits and vegetables, a pair of
sandwiches, cokes and an assortment of chips
were the only edible things I could get.
Edward was scowling when I got back to the car.
He was sitting on the passenger seat next to
Carlisle and didn't even look at me when I got in. I
sighed "Edward, are you mad because I wouldn't
let you pay for my food?"
"I want to take care of you Isabella." He grunted.
I rolled my eyes "Edward! Taking care of me has
noting to do with being the sole economical
provider of this relationship!"
"Well you're my girl, you shouldn't have to spend a
dime while you're with me."
I sighed, exasperated, and said without thinking
"God Edward, what are you? Eighty?"
"A hundred and four actually." He said between
gritted teeth.
I suddenly found myself at loss of words. I could
think of nothing to reply to that. The car fell silent
for a moment, until I noticed that Carlisle's
shoulders were shaking ever so slightly with
unexpressed laughter.
I started giggling and Edward smiled. Once the
tension was broken Carlisle started laughing so
hard it would've made it impossible for him to
drive. If he'd been human, that is. I'd never seen
him laugh like that, it was a beautiful thing to look
at.
"Oh you think our fights are funny don't you?"
Edward accused lightly.
"Well yes, I'd never had the privilege of observing a
vampire/human relationship before now. You two
would make a great sitcom."
"How are vampire vs vampire fights usually like?
Are those really that different?"
"Well there's a lot more yelling, a lot more
violence... and a lot more danger to anyone who
watches." Carlisle was still smiling "Hey Edward,
remember the time Emmett stared at some human
girl in the street and Rosalie hit him so hard he
went flying against a parked car?"
Edward roared with laughter "He left such a huge
dent, Alice had to go hit it with a baseball bat a few
times to cover the shape of his body on the side
door."
I was a little confused "Wait, why was Emmett
looking at another girl? It's not like there's
someone out there who could compare to Rosalie."
"He was hungry! Just because we're on a diet
doesn't mean we can't look at the menu right?"
Edward laughed. Just the fact that he could so
openly refer to humans as food in front of me
without worrying about my feelings proved how far
our relationship had advanced in the last few
months.
"Wow, but what did Rosalie hit him with?"
"Well she didn't really hit him, she shoved him
away from her. He normally wouldn't have gone
flying like that but she took him totally by
surprise." Carlisle answered.
"You should've seen them back at the house trying
to explain why there was an Emmett-shaped dent
on Mr. Smith's truck."
We all laughed again. When we'd settled down I
asked, "How far away are we?"
"Not far. Our friends live in a house just a few miles
away from this tiny town called Nenana. We're less
than 60 miles away." Carlisle couldn't sense my
sudden worry at his words, but Edward could. In an
instant he was sitting next to me, his arm around
my shoulder. "Don't worry Bella, they won't hurt
you."
"I know that, but will they like me?" I asked,
concerned.
Edward sighed, "I'd forgotten your annoying
tendency to worry about the stupid little things."
I settled my head on his shoulder and smiled "Oh
come on, you know you love me."
"Yes," he smiled against my hair "I do."
We'd gone off the highway about five minutes
before I could see the house, even with Carlisle at
the wheel, which meant it was pretty excluded.
Just like the Cullens' place, this huge house was
completely surrounded by tall pines. The house
itself was beautiful. It looked at least a hundred
years old, was painted white and had an amazing
looking porch with a swing. It looked like it had at
least twelve bedrooms. It reminded me of home.
When we drove up I saw an older man, maybe in
his sixties, although I doubted he was younger than
the house. He had short white hair and a very
handsome face. He was dressed elegantly but light
in black dress pants, a navy blue shirt and a black
coat. He didn't approach the car when it stopped,
in fact, he hadn't moved at all.
Edward helped me back into the heavy coat and
out of the car. He held my hand as we walked to
meet the older vampire. Once we were standing in
front of his elder, he wrapped his arms around my
waist from behind.
"Hello Edward, it's nice to see you again." The
man's voice was deep and smooth, the most
beautiful one I'd heard other than Edward's.
"Hello Jonathan. Thank you for having us. This is
Bella."
I reached out to shake his hand and he looked
pleasantly surprised. "You are very welcome here
my child. We are happy to have you." He smiled
and looked into my eyes with a hint of curiosity. "I
can see why Edward is so infatuated with you. You
are a brave and beautiful girl. Smart too."
I blushed and his smile grew, he was clearly
pleased. "Thank you so much for letting us stay
here." I had to work hard to keep my voice from
breaking. Even thought it was cold out my palms
were sweaty. I was very nervous.
"You must be hungry." Even though I had just
eaten in the car I nodded. I truly did feel hungry.
Edward stared at Jonathan warningly "Thank you
for your concern Jonathan, but she just ate."
The older vampire nodded wisely "I know that, I
just wanted to give you a chance to tell her more
about us, as I'm sure you haven't done so yet."
I looked from Edward to Jonathan and back to
Edward. "Bella, Jonathan can make you do
whatever he wants. That is his gift."
I frowned "You mean like Jasper?" Jonathan
answered "Well yes... and no. Jasper can make you
feel what he wants you to feel, and he does so with
his thoughts. I can make you do things, like eat
with gusto when you are not hungry, and I do so
with my words."
Edward smiled "Jonathan was very charismatic in
his other life." The older vampire nodded and said
"I wanted you to know this Bella because I believe
trust is based on truth, and staying in a house full
of vampires for a week requires a great deal of
trust."
"Jonathan doesn't use his gift much, he thinks it's
unethical." Carlisle was carrying an armload of
blankets and my suitcase.
"And after a while it can also get very boring. I'd
rather be surprised." Jonathan smiled at me.
"Come my child, let me give you a tour of the
house."
All my fears about meeting Edward's relatives had
faded away and I gladly followed Jonathan into his
warm house. I felt very welcome and wondered if it
had anything to do with him.
Edward walked next to me, his arm around my
shoulder. As soon as we stepped through the door
we met Ruth, Jonathan's partner. She too had a
head full of beautiful long white hair and looked
sophisticated and smart. I soon learned she had
the gift of learning and absorbed knowledge like a
sponge, every high school student's dream.
We met Ellen and Arthur in the dining room, which
featured a magnificent table that could
comfortably sit twelve. I wondered briefly why
vampires who couldn't dine would have such a
splendid thing. Then I figured if I never had to eat
sitting down again but I had the opportunity of
furnishing my own home, I'd buy a table too just
out of habit.
I was a little surprised, but pleasantly so, when
Ellen ran up to me, threw her arms around me and
kissed my cheek. She had the ability to love to the
extreme, which made it easy for her to be a
"vegetarian"
She and Arthur were both physically in their thirties
and looked every bit as sophisticated and cool as
the other two. "So Arthur," I called him by his first
name upon his request "what is your gift?"
"Actually, Arthur's gift is one of the rarest and most
desired ones." Jonathan smiled "He can change his
appearance at will."
I, who had turned away from Arthur when Jonathan
spoke, snapped my head around to gawk at him
and jumped out of my skin when I discovered two
Carlisles standing before me.
"How does that work? Do you actually change your
body?" I asked curiously. Arthur shrugged "We are
not sure. If I change and look in a mirror I see the
face of the person I became, but I don't know if I
really look like them or if I just somehow talk them
and myself into believing so."
I frowned "Well why don't you take a picture of
yourself? You can't manipulate a photograph's
mind." I finished my statement with a laugh. I had
just been trying to make conversation but I soon
realized the whole room was staring at me.
"Would that work?" Arthur asked Jonathan.
"It's worth a try."
My eyes widened "In all this years, you've never
taken a picture of yourself?"
"Not while I was pretending to be someone else."
Arthur looked somehow hopeful. I could tell it'd
been bothering him for many years, not knowing.
"Oh but it's so stupid, do you really think it'll
work?" I asked.
"Sometimes the easiest answer is the right one my
child." Jonathan smiled at me kindly "You were
right Carlisle, she is exceptional."
The other two members of the VanBeaullen clan
were Abraham and Mina. He, like Emmett, had
incredible strength. Mina had her compassion. I felt
a pang of longing for everyone back home. I hoped
with all my might that we'd be able to return soon.
Jonathan walked us to the room that Edward and I
would be sharing. It felt weird having someone who
looked like your grandfather escort you and your
boyfriend to a bedroom... with a bed in it... for you
to spend the night in.
The room was quite large. It had a nice stereo
system in a corner, a small brown leather couch
next to it, and a big four poster bed that faced a
huge window which overlooked the forest
surrounding the VanBeaullens' property. A nice big
private bathroom connected with the bedroom. It
had one of those classic white bathtubs with
golden legs and two sinks. We were all standing
around in the hallway once we were done with the
tour.
"Bella, if you need anything please don't hesitate
to ask." Ruth was looking at me with adoration in
her eyes. It made me a little uneasy.
I suddenly wrinkled my forehead and my nose
twitched. My upper lip trembled and I gasped.
Edward was in front of me in a flash "Bella, what's
wrong?" I didn't answer, my strange behavior
continued. "Isabella, are you alright?" He took me
by the shoulders and tried to shake me out of my
apparent trance.
I sneezed.
The room fell silent for a few moments, and then
everyone burst out laughing.
"Oh my dear, that was delightful." Mina clapped
her hands. Edward shook his head and handed me
a tissue. "Excuse them, they don't go out much."
He smiled at me to let me know he was teasing.
"Trying to stay away from temptation eh?" I asked
them lightly.
"Not exactly." Jonathan's answer was just as light,
but something in the way he said it made me feel
like there was something more to his statement.
Edward ushered me to the bathroom then, he
wanted me to take a hot bath to warm up before
my cold turned into pneumonia.
As I was lying in the tub I couldn't shake the feeling
that, as honest as the VanBeaullens had tried to be
with me, I was being kept in the dark about
something big.
Edward had left a fluffy bathrobe for me next to
the tub. I slipped into it and walked barefoot to the
room where my bag of toiletries was. I discovered
that Edward had already unpacked all my things,
old and new.
I took the bag back to the bathroom and opened it.
I stared into it for a moment and then groaned and
slapped my forehead.
"What's wrong?" I heard Edward's voice behind me.
When I turned around I found him leaning against
the bathroom door.
"I forgot my toothbrush." I said stupidly. "Could we
go to a drugstore in town or something?"
"I'd rather not leave the house. I wouldn't want
your cold to get worse." Something in the tone of
his voice made me frown.
"You can borrow mine if you don't mind." He
pointed at his electric toothbrush. Of course I didn't
mind but I still had a bit of a problem. I turned beet
red all of a sudden.
Edward frowned "Oh come on Bella, it's the same
as kissing!" He sounded very reluctant to drive into
town.
"No, it's not that. Your toothbrush is fine I just... I
need to get something else." If I'd turned any
redder I would've caught fire.
Edward stared at me for a moment before
understanding what I was trying to tell him. "Oh!"
He exclaimed. I was mortified about having to let
him know about my girl issues. He could see that
and rushed to my side. "Oh Bella, don't be
embarrassed." He enveloped me in a hug.
"Well, this is not exactly the kind of thing a normal
girl wants her boyfriend to know about." I mumbled
but Edward chuckled "I think this is exactly the
kind of thing a normal girl wants her boyfriend to
know about. It's more like a necessity really.
Besides, I always know."
I looked up in surprise "You do?"
"I'm a vampire Bella, of course I know." I shook my
head. I didn't want to think about what he'd just
said too much, it made me blush more than I'd
ever thought possible.
"Tell you what, you stay put and have a snack or
something. I'll go to Nenana and get you your
things." I refused to have him buy those things for
me, but he refused to take me with him, claiming it
was too cold outside. I finally gave in, figuring he'd
never take me if he didn't want to and I had no real
way of forcing him to.
I looked out our bedroom window to watch him go.
I discovered, annoyed, that the sky was packed
with clouds. I'd been planning on taking a walk in
the sun with Edward later. I could tell it was going
to start raining soon and I really wanted to have a
look around before it did, so I bundled up and
walked outside.
I half expected someone to meet me halfway to
the door and force me to stay inside, but no one
did. I tried not to go too deep into the forest. I was
amazed at the wonderful flora of Alaska, for some
reason I'd always thought of it as icy and bare.
While I walked I started thinking about the group of
vampires that were going to pass through Forks
sometime that week. I was worried about my
scent. Was a week really enough to get rid of it?
Maybe I should've taken all my clothes with me
instead of just my winter stuff.
To my dismay, I soon noticed I'd lost track of where
I was going. I turned around nervously and silently
cursed myself for being so distracted. I walked
around for about fifteen minutes. The forest had
been silent up until then but suddenly I could hear
something approaching me. Several somethings, in
fact.
I started to run away from the crunching noise
leafs and twigs made when they were stepped on. I
ran and ran, looking constantly over my shoulder.
My heart pounded in my chest and my leg hurt like
crazy. Suddenly the ground left me and I fell. I
expected to connect with the wet forest floor but
when I reached ground level I just kept falling. I
landed in a dirt hole with a soft thud.
I quickly checked myself for injuries and discovered
some sore spots, but nothing too bad. As I looked
up I saw a pair of almond shaped eyes staring at
me from above. To my surprise, they looked
human. The hole was just deep enough so I
couldn't get out on my own. It looked like a half
made trap.
"Excuse me, could you help me out?" The eyes
widened in surprise.
"I think she's human." The man told someone else.
I shuddered at the comment... human.
"Excuse me?" I asked again.
An older man, probably around my father's age,
with the same kind of almond shaped eyes and fair
skin peeked into the hole. "What are you doing in
the house of the damned?"
"The damned?" I repeated.
"Yes, the damned. We saw you leave their
grounds."
I rolled my eyes. The situation felt just a tad
familiar. "They are not damned, they are my
boyfriend's family."
The man frowned "But you're human."
"Yes." Evidently Mr. Watson.
"We should dispose of her before they turn her into
one of them." The older guy said.
My eyes widened. "Dispose of me?" That's when I
saw the bow and arrow he was carrying. He
pointed it at me and I cringed, waiting for the
impact, which never came.
I heard a yelp, a thud and something cracking.
When I opened my eyes again I was being stared
at by Edward, who was standing right next to me. I
shrieked both in surprise and at the look on his
face. I'd never seen him so angry.
"Did I not tell you to stay inside?" He wasn't yelling,
but something in the tone of his voice hurt my ears
just the same. He didn't wait for my answer,
instead he threw me over his shoulder and ran me
to the house.
Once we were inside he yelled for Carlisle and sat
me down on the dinning room table I'd been
admiring just hours before. Dr. Cullen was quickly
informed of how I'd fallen into a dirt hole. Edward
was giving him a murderous stare, probably mad
because he hadn't kept me from leaving.
Carlisle checked my legs. They were fine. Then
Edward took off my coat and lifted my shirt so the
doctor could look at my back. Edward hissed under
his breath, bruises were already starting to form.
Nothing seemed broken or displaced though, so
Carlisle let me go fairly quickly. The VanBullens
commented on how lucky I'd been, how if the dirt
had been well packed I probably would've broken
at least everything that had just healed recently.
Edward didn't even look at me again.
He carried me to the bathroom and made me take
another hot bath, then waited patiently while I got
dressed. When I walked back into the bedroom he
had some takeout Chinese food laid out on the
coffee table. He stared into space while I ate, then
sat down unmoving on the bed while I went to
brush my teeth. When I got back he folded the
covers, indicating he wanted me to lie down.
I did, obediently, even though it was barely dusk,
and he laid down next to me. Out of either habit or
concern he wrapped his arm around my waist.
After a few more minutes of unbearable silence, I
just had to ask in a very small voice. "Edward, are
you mad at me?"
"Go to sleep Bella." He grumbled. I took a deep
breath and tried to keep my emotions in check with
little success. It wasn't long before tears started
rolling down my cheeks.
"Are you crying?" He didn't sound concerned, just
surprised, which made me cry harder.
"I just hate it when you're mad at me."
He sighed and turned me around to face him. "Oh
Bella, I'm not mad at you! You know that's
impossible. I just wish you'd do as you're told every
once in a while. Don't you know by now that
everything I tell you is for your own good?"
I nodded but said under my breath "How parental
of you."
Of course he heard my statement and lifted my
chin with his cold finger. "As long as you're with
me, you're stuck in the middle of a very difficult
and dangerous situation. It amazes me how you
seem to forget that you're constantly in danger of
being killed. You have to listen when I tell you
things, I'm just trying to keep you safe."
I buried my face on his stone cold chest. "I'm
sorry."
Edward sighed again and held me close "I just
hated the way those villagers were looking at you,
the way they thought of you. They thought you
were a monster."
"They thought I was one of you." I corrected.
"Same thing."
"No, it's not the same thing!" I sat up on the bed
"It's not the same thing at all! Just because you are
immortal and have to hunt for your meals doesn't
make you a monster! Anyone would be lucky to be
one of you. I would be lucky to be one of you."
"You are, Bella."
"No, you know what I mean."
He groaned and turned away from me. "We are not
having this discussion again Isabella. I will not turn
you."
"Why? Give me one good reason why you won't do
it!"
"I've given you a thousand different reasons!"
"Well give them to me again!"
Edward sighed. He turned back around to face me
and ran his fingers from my cheek to my chin. I
closed my eyes and tried to keep my heart from
racing. I was sitting cross-legged on my side of the
bed by then and my feet tingled on response to his
caress.
"I don't think I could bear never seeing you blush
again, Bella."
"I could wear lots of makeup." My response was
quiet but forceful.
He rolled his eyes. "It's not just the color, it's the
warmth."
"You are being so selfish!" I gasped. His hand was
still on my cheek, making it impossible for me to
raise my voice. I had to concentrate hard just on
breathing.
"Vampires are selfish creatures by nature."
"So are humans."
Edward growled and took his hand away. He was
getting exasperated. Bad move on his part, as soon
as his touch left me, the fog in my brain started to
clear and I could think coherently again. "I can't do
this to you Bella! I can't let you lose your
humanity."
"Humanity is a noun, Edward. Humanitarian is an
adjective and it's not exclusive to humans!"
Edward scowled "You know what I mean."
"No, I don't know what you mean! Are you telling
me you won't love me anymore if my skin turns
cold? Will you love me less if my heart stops
beating? Will you be repulsed if I have to kill an
animal with my own teeth to feed? Does your love
for me depend on my human scent or my inability
to walk in a straight line without falling flat on my
face?"
I was yelling, I knew everyone could hear us
fighting in our bedroom, but Edward made me so
mad sometimes! He was pretty upset too, but he
managed to wrap his arms around me in a fierce
hug when he answered "Don't be ridiculous, Bella."
I closed my eyes and shed a few silent tears. "I
don't want to die."
"You're not going to, I'll protect you always."
"I don't mean right now, I mean ever. I would
gladly give up 60 years of walks in the sun and
comfortably getting my meals out of the fridge for
an eternity of twilights with you."
Edward shook his head "I refuse to condemn you
like that."
"You're not condemning me, you're giving me a
choice. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe
the reason why you can't fully come to terms with
who you are is that you weren't given a choice?"
Edward was shaking his head, but not in answer to
my question. I was getting to him. I took his hand
and placed it on my neck, over my racing pulse.
It was a bad move on my part. He freaked out and
leaped out of bed before I could really feel his
touch leaving me. In a flash he was by the door.
"The answer is no, Bella." And he left the room.
I sighed and got under the covers again. I'd pushed
him too far too fast but I could tell I was getting to
him. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little scared. The
idea of suffering for three days, the knowledge that
I'd have to lose contact with my parents before
they noticed that I looked like a seventeen year old
no matter how many years passed, the fact that I'd
never be able to truly satiate my hunger, it all
made me uneasy. However, it was nothing
compared to the way I felt when Edward wasn't
around, the inexplicable pain in my chest when he
left me for more than a couple of hours, the tingle
of fear that made it hard for me to breathe
whenever he went hunting.
There was a knock on the door then. I figured it
was probably Carlisle coming to see if I was okay.
Imagine my surprise when the door opened and
Edward walked back in.
"Bella, I don't want to fight you, especially not now.
I know it's easy to forget the troubles back home
when we're all the way up here but you are in
danger. I can't afford to have you mad at me."
I sat up again and patted the space on the bed
next to me. He sat down without a glance in my
direction.
"I don't want to fight any more than you do
Edward, but we've been dancing around this issue
for months! We need to agree on something here,
whether it's on doing it or not, or even agreeing to
disagree."
"I vote for that last one." He grumbled.
"No, if we agree to disagree then we have to set a
date for us to talk about this again. I'm not giving
up that easily, after all, time is in your favor. But
maybe if we do that we can stop dancing around
each other so much."
Edward still wasn't looking at me, but he gave me
a faint nod so I took his hands in mine and asked,
"Edward, what are you so afraid of?"
He closed his eyes and sighed in defeat. "It's taken
me almost a century to come to terms with what I
became the night Carlisle changed me. It's like
living on borrowed time, except you're not really
alive and time means absolutely nothing to you.
Humans have a purpose Bella! They are born, they
grow, reproduce and die like every other living
thing on this planet. We have no purpose! No
reason for being here, no hopes, no dreams, no
nothing. We just walk among the living knowing
everything we do means squat. We are here
merely to help with population control."
He finally turned around to look at me. I didn't
even realize I was crying until he reached up to dry
my tears with his cold fingers. "When I look at you
Bella, I see someone so full of life, full of dreams, of
purpose. I can not be the one to take that away
from you."
Minutes elapsed in complete silence. I could see a
little bit of triumph in his eyes, mixed with a lot of
sadness. He clearly thought he had me beat.
"Your life does have meaning Edward. You are my
purpose. You stayed alive for this long to save me
from a life of conformity and utter discontent. I
never really felt right until I met you. You are here
to show me what life is about, and it has nothing to
do with a beating heart. I'm convinced that I was
born to love you, and that I'm meant to die for you,
with you."
He stared at me with his beautiful intense eyes full
of love. I knew that if he could've cried he would
have, right then and there. "Well, you're right
about one thing Bella, you are my reason for being
here, you give meaning to my existence."
"Then let me exist with you forever."
I took his face in my hands and made him stare
into my eyes so he'd know I was being sincere. "I
don't want to grow old, I don't want to get gray
hairs or wrinkles. I don't want to spend my life
looking like Mrs. Robinson when I'm with you."
My voice softened "I don't want to lose you. I don't
want to live without you. I don't want my life with
you to end in less than seven decades. I want you
forever. I'll want you always."
He sighed, "Bella, it's hell."
"It'll feel like the North Pole compared to what it'd
be like knowing my time with you is finite."
He was starting to look defeated. "You will never
be a part of society again."
"Society is highly overrated."
"You'll never have children."
"There's always adoption."
Edward looked like he was about to fight me on
that one so I interrupted. "I don't need anyone
besides you. We'll cross that bridge if and when we
ever get there."
He sighed, "You'll lose everyone you know."
"I'll still have you."
He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples.
"Don't you want this Edward?"
"Oh Bella, more than anything."
"Then please, please make me yours forever."
He took a deep breath and after a few minutes of
silence gave me an almost imperceptible nod. I let
out the breath I'd been holding and smiled.
I made him sit back on the bed, so his back was
resting against the headboard, then straddled his
hips and moved my hair to the side, exposing my
neck to him.
"No!" He shook his head.
"Edward..." my voice sounded tired.
"Bella, we have to plan this. We'll do it during the
Christmas break so you can spend some time
getting used to it before going back to school.
You'll be eighteen by then, you can move in with
me so I can watch over you at the beginning."
As much as I wanted to just do it then and get it
over with I knew he had a point, so I nodded and
rested my forehead on his shoulder. He wrapped
his arms around me again and held me as close as
humanly possible. I thought hopefully of the day, a
few months from then, when he wouldn't have to
hold back.
Phoenix
-
He wrapped his arms around me again and held
me as close as humanly possible. I thought
hopefully of the day, a few months from then,
when he wouldn't have to hold back.
After a few minutes of cuddling, Edward took me
downstairs —in my pajamas, no less— to talk to
Carlisle. He sat me down on a stool in the kitchen
and tossed me an apple for me to eat while he
explained to his "father" how and when he wanted
to transform me.
Carlisle glanced at me worriedly from time to time,
always looking away quickly. He seemed happy for
us though, and respected our decision. He even
volunteered to be on call in case something went
sideways and offered Edward a few tips.
After our little chat, Carlisle suggested we call Alice
to tell her the good news. Edward refused. I think
he was still worried about his decision. I really
wanted to talk to her though, so I insisted he let
me call.
A few moments of heated discussion later, he
agreed to let me use the cell phone as long as I
didn't tell her about me being turned. He claimed it
was still too early to be telling people about it.
I dialed Alice's number quickly and sat down to
wait for her answer. I was amazed when her voice
said "Hey Bella!" after just one ring.
"Alice! Hi, how are you?"
"I'm great! I miss you! Oh, wait! I'm glad you
called, I saw this thing in a magazine yesterday
that would be perfect for your hair! I really can't
wait for you to get back, I got so anxious yesterday
I went shopping and got you a great pair of shoes.
They have a bit of a heel, but I'm sure you'll be
okay. You have Edward at your side twenty four
hours a day anyway, I'm sure he'd never let you
fall on your face."
She made a pause to take an unnecessary breath. I
used that moment to interrupt "Wow Alice, that's
great. Although I am a little worried about those
shoes. To tell you the truth, I'm worried about you
guys buying stuff for me, period. I'm soon going to
start having a problem hiding the stuff from
Charlie, you know?"
"Well you can just keep a closet full of clothes here,
silly! It's not like you don't already have a few
things in Edward's drawers. Oh by the way, I threw
away those hideous pants you use in bed and
bought you a cute pair of pajamas. Don't worry, it's
not a skimpy little thing. My brother would kill me if
I made it any harder for him to behave while you
sleep."
I just had to smile. I really did miss Alice a lot. She
was the perfect girlfriend, even if she did tend to
rant a lot. "Well as long as it's comfortable and
covers enough skin. Oh hey Alice?"
"Yeah?"
"How is everyone?"
I could hear the pause in her voice "Everyone is
great, Bella."
"Alice?" I repeated.
I could hear her sigh before saying "There is no
sign of those guys. I haven't even had the vision
again. I don't know what's going on! I don't know if
you leaving changed their plans somehow or if my
vision isn't supposed to come true for several
months..."
"But I thought you knew when it was going to
happen."
"I did too, but now I have no clue. I think it would
be safer for you to stay up there for the rest of the
week as planned though. If anything changes I'll let
you know."
"Okay." I said reluctantly, not because I didn't want
to spend a week with my gorgeous boyfriend doing
absolutely nothing but stare at him, but because it
made me uneasy, not knowing.
"So anyway, about that hair thing. We might have
to cut some of it off, your hair is way too long for
the look I want to try on you."
"No! I mean... let's not change the length too
much. I like my hair long."
I hoped she hadn't caught the urgency on my
voice, but she had.
"Bella?" She asked.
"Yes?"
"Why don't you want me to cut your hair? It grows
back, you know?"
"I know! I just prefer it long. Besides, it'd take
forever to grow back."
She wasn't buying it. I could almost hear her smile
on the phone.
"Oh my God, you talked him into doing it, didn't
you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." I
answered, trying to sound clueless.
"Oh you did! I don't believe it!"
"Alice..." I started.
"I mean I see him doing it all the time! On my
visions I mean. But he somehow always manages
to resist. Oh this is great! When is he going to do
it?"
Edward walked into the living room where I was
sitting and stared at me pointedly. He had probably
heard my end of the conversation and wasn't too
happy about the direction it'd taken.
"Tell me!" Alice urged.
"I can't." I said through gritted teeth.
"Oh, Edward is standing right there isn't he?"
"I can hear you Alice!" Edward raised his voice.
Alice giggled on the phone. "Bye Edward! And don't
you think for a second I'm going to drop this one!"
She blew me a kiss and hung up.
I placed the cell phone on the coffee table and
glanced apologetically at Edward. "I tried to keep it
from her, I really did! But she started talking about
cutting my hair and it won't have a chance to grow
back..."
Edward moved to my side in the blink of an eye. He
stopped my rant by placing a cold finger to my lips.
I smiled against his perfect skin.
"What are you smiling about?" He asked, a hint of a
smile on his own face.
"I'm happy!" I kissed his finger and he gave me a
lopsided grin in return.
"Come on," he picked me up in his strong arms.
"Let's get you into bed."
That night he touched his lips to mine gently for
what seemed like ages. I breathed his scent
through my nose, which had cleared up thanks to
some cold medicine he'd grabbed for me in town,
and relished the feeling of his perfect, cold lips
against mine.
Before I fell asleep I asked, "Edward, why were
those two guys hunting me in the woods? They had
traps built around the VanBullens' land."
"Our friends had a bit of a problem when they first
moved here. Mina is a very recent addition to their
family, she was not at all used to being around
humans. Only her love for Abraham made her try
long and hard to adapt. She finally did. I'm talking
about many decades ago, but when she first came
here, she... ate someone."
I raised my eyebrows. "Don't be scared, she's
much better at this now. She felt really bad after
what happened. Besides, she'd never hurt you."
"I'm not scared. I was wondering how the
VanBullens have managed to stay in this house for
so many decades."
Edward chuckled, "Well, they don't go out much.
Anyway, the husband of the woman she fed from
swore to avenge her death, stupid little man.
Fortunately for us, no one ever believed the
vampire story. But that didn't stop the guy from
buying the surrounding land and patrolling it to
make sure it doesn't happen again."
Edward tucked me under his arm and continued his
story "I do kind of admire his efforts though,
specially since he'll never be able to do any harm. I
used to think he was just a sick and obsessed old
guy who couldn't move on with his life."
"You used to think? What changed?"
I could feel his smile against my forehead. "Well,
you. If something ever happened to you, I would
personally hunt the culprit down and torture him to
death."
"Well, after you change me, you won't have to
worry anymore."
"No, after I change you the culprit will be me."
I sighed. "We really need to work on your attitude
towards this whole thing."
"Look, just because I agreed to do it doesn't mean
I'm ever going to like it. I'm only doing it because it
seems to be what will make you happy, even if I
know you might regret it later. It just looks like
you'll never be satisfied unless I do it."
"Well you're right about that." I wiggled out of his
grasp so I could be face to face with him. "But you
are also wrong about one thing. I will never regret
it Edward, I'm fully aware of the consequences of
my actions. I'd never ask you to do it if I had any
doubts."
"I know, I know." He kissed my lips again. "Go to
sleep Bella."
That, I didn't argue.
I woke up once during the night, bathed in cold
sweat. Edward had recognized the nightmare early
enough to avoid any screams, but not the quiet
cries.
He rested his body over mine, lifting my shirt a
little to make sure my skin could come into contact
with his. His hands framed my face as he slowly
hummed my lullaby. It'd become a routine. He
rocked me back to sleep after the nightmare had
passed.
The sun was already rising when I woke up a few
hours later. I reached out to find Edward on his side
of the bed, but touched only cold sheets.
"Edward?" I asked groggily. When he didn't answer
I sat up. I saw him sitting on the couch by the
window, his face buried in his hands. The white
skin of his fingers was being lightly touched by
sunlight and it glowed, making him look like the
most beautiful of angels. Like an angel in pain.
"Edward?" I asked again and got no answer. I left
the bed, my bare feet touching the cold, wooden
floor and making me shiver. I approached him
slowly, and carefully placed my hand on his
shoulder. "Edward, what's wrong?"
He sighed and, without looking at me, answered,
"How can I take your life, Bella? The sole thing I
ever swore to protect."
I sat down on his lap. His hands left his face only to
circle my waist.
"I'm going to die eventually, and it will probably be
in an accident or from some painful disease. It will
catch me completely by surprise. I'd rather die on
my own terms and for a reason."
"I know." Edward buried his face on my neck "I do
know, it's just going to take time for me to adjust
to the idea."
I framed his face with my hands and kissed his lips
softly. "We have time, Edward. Just don't back out
on me."
He nodded. "I'll try."
I kissed him once more before running off to take a
shower.
As we walked down the stairs that morning, I could
smell something a lot like bacon coming from the
kitchen.
"Oh Bella! Good, go sit at the table. Your breakfast
is almost ready." Mina intercepted us at the foot of
the stairs and guided us towards the dinning room.
When we got there my jaw dropped. The table was
set for nine. Beautiful china adorned every place.
Candles had been lit, even though it was light out,
and in front of one of the places sat several
covered dishes.
Jonathan, Arthur, Abraham and Carlisle were
already sitting. They stood up smiling when I
walked in.
"What is all this?" I asked curiously.
"Well my dear, we don't get guests very often. In
fact, this table had never been used! We just
thought this would be a good time for all of us to
sit down and chat, like the old days." Ellen sounded
giddy. I smiled at her enthusiasm and sat down
with Edward by my side.
Ruth immediately started to fill my plate with eggs,
bacon and pancakes. They all sat down and
watched me carefully while I took the first bite. I
was amazed at how good it all tasted.
"Wow, this is great!" I said sincerely. Ruth clapped
her hands in delight. She'd probably studied a
whole cookbook the night before.
Suddenly, the unthinkable happened. I bit my
tongue, hard.
My hand flew to my mouth and my eyes widened in
both surprise and pain. "Bella, what's wrong?"
Edward asked. All conversation had stopped at my
sudden behavior.
"Oh I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" I said, my voice
muffled by my hand.
"What happened?" Edward asked again, even more
concerned.
"I bit my tongue and it's bleeding."
Edward sighed in relief, everyone at the table
chuckled.
"Don't worry, my child. We can handle a few drops
of blood." Jonathan smiled warmly at me.
I blushed at how stupid I'd probably looked.
"Just swallow really fast until it's all gone." Edward
requested. I could tell he'd stopped breathing. I
washed all the blood down with my orange juice.
"I thought blood made you faint." Edward teased
once it was all gone. I shrugged. "I didn't even
think about it. I was thinking about you. I hate
making things harder for you by being clumsy."
He smiled sweetly "You know, I'm going to miss
that clumsiness when it's gone."
"Yeah? Well I'll be glad to have something that can
even remotely be considered as balance."
Edward chuckled and leaned close to me to
whisper, "Eat quickly, there's something I want to
show you."
After I was done with my wonderful breakfast,
Edward took me back to our room and handed me
a small plastic bag.
I reached inside with a frown. My eyes widened
when I discovered a baby blue bikini.
"Edward, you do realize it's cold out don't you?"
He smiled "Just trust me. Go change into that and
wear your long coat over it."
I raised my eyebrows but did as I was told. The
bathing suit, surprise surprise, fit perfectly. It was a
halter top with thick straps and had little white
flowers embroidered on the sides. The bottom was
pretty too.
I wrapped the coat around myself. It was one of the
many Edward had gotten for me the day before. It
reached all the way down to my toes. I walked out
of the bathroom, barefoot, only to find Edward
waiting for me.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"You'll see." He lifted me into his strong arms and
carried me to the stairs without waiting for me to
throw on some shoes. I was more than a little
surprised when he walked up instead of down. He
took me to a large terrace on the top floor, it was
surrounded by tall, exotic plants.
As soon as he set a foot outside, his skin started to
glow like a million diamonds. I was mesmerized by
this, and silently thanked the heavens for the
sunny day.
He sat me down next to what I soon realized was a
steamy hot tub.
"Oh wow, this is beautiful." I managed to whisper.
"I know, the VanBeaullens really know how to
decorate."
"I was talking about you, but whatever."
Edward gave me a half smile and unbuttoned his
shirt slowly. My eyes followed his fingers, no
matter how hard I tried to look away. Every new
inch of revealed skin glowed brightly.
His pants went next. I was too embarrassed to look
while he took those off, even though he was
wearing his bathing suit underneath. Once he'd
ridded himself of all the excess clothing he jumped
into the hot tub and sighed in relaxation.
"Come on, Bella. You're getting cold."
He was right, of course, but I felt just a little self-
conscious about letting him see me with so little
on. He could, as always, read the look on my face
perfectly.
He got out of the jacuzzi, dripping wet, and
approached me. Any normal person would've
shivered, he was as comfortable as if it were a
hundred degrees out.
I would've probably tried to get away from his wet
body if he hadn't been staring at me with those
golden eyes that left me breathless. All I could do
was stand there and wait for him to reach me. He
walked slowly and, just as slowly, reached out to
touch the collar of my coat. He used both hands to
push the piece of clothing off my body gently. His
stare bathed my body with warmth as he looked
down to admire my exposed skin.
One of his hands reached out to trace a line from
my ear, down my side, to my belly button. I
shivered, but not from the cold. He wrapped his
arms around my waist and lifted me off the ground,
so I could stare into his eyes without having to look
up. I didn't even notice his icy, wet bathing suit
touching my legs. My skin was on fire from the
contact with his.
He walked over to the hot tub and sat me down on
the marble seat. The warm water, which was deep
enough to cover me from the neck down, felt good
around me, but not as good as Edward. As soon as
he sat down next to me, I climbed into his lap and
leaned against his chest. He smiled.
"Now this is what I call a perfect moment." He
whispered in my ear. I bit my lip when he ran
kisses from my lobe, to my chin and back again.
My lips tingled and ached to touch his, so I turned
around on his lap to face him.
When he kissed me, I had to concentrate hard on
behaving. I did allow myself to run my hands down
his shining arms, which were firmly holding me to
him. He placed one hand on the small of my back
to pull me closer and the other one on my cheek,
probably to make sure I didn't press too hard
against his lips.
He broke the kiss suddenly and with a frown.
"Bella?" Carlisle's voice scared the lights out of me.
I jumped and turned to find him standing above us,
right on the edge of the tub. I blushed scarlet
because of the position he'd found us in. Edward
hadn't moved an inch.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but Charlie is on the phone."
He handed me the small, silver cell phone. He'd
probably given Charlie the number while I packed. I
could tell he was worried.
"Dad? What's wrong?" I tried to keep the panic out
of my voice.
"Bells! Don't be scared, nothing's wrong. No, I
mean, something is... but it's not serious. You need
to call your mother."
"What happened?" If my mom had called Charlie,
something was seriously off.
"I'm not sure. She called here, looking for you. She
was in tears. I asked her if she was hurt and she
said no. Not physically anyway. She sounded bad
though, I told her I'd find you."
"Okay, thanks dad. I'll call her right now. I'll let you
know what's going on later."
"All right, take care Bella."
"I will dad."
When I hung up I was shaking. I dialed my mom's
number as fast as my fingers would allow. The
warm water suddenly felt like a brick of ice
surrounding me. I was still sitting on Edward's lap.
He tightened his grip around me but didn't say a
word.
"Hello?" My mom sounded terrible.
"Mom? What's wrong?"
"Oh Bella, where are you? Charlie said something
about Canada!" I could tell she'd been crying.
"Yeah. Mom, what's going on?"
"Oh sweetie, Phil and I got into a huge fight. I really
need you right now."
"I'm right here. Tell me what happened."
"No, I mean I need you to come home."
I was so surprised by this whole thing I stupidly
asked, "You're in Forks?"
"Of course not, I mean I want you home! To
Arizona!"
I literally stopped breathing for more than a few
seconds. It took me so long to answer, my mother
had to ask, "Bella? Are you still there?"
"Mom... I... what happened?"
"I caught him cheating on me! It was horrible! He
denied it, of course but I saw him! Bella... I think
we're getting a divorce. I really need you to come
home." She'd started crying again. I really hated
hearing her pain but I was left speechless. I just sat
there, on Edward's lap, and shivered.
Edward lifted me up and sat me down by his side.
Then he got out and grabbed a large towel from a
pile next to the tub.
"Mom, I'm sorry. I'm going to have to call you
back."
"Why?" She asked between sobs.
"I just... I'll call you in a few minutes okay?"
"Bella..."
I hung up just as Edward was lifting me up by my
arms. He wrapped the fluffy towel around me and
carried me to our room in record time. He sat me
down on our bed and started drying my legs while
he waited for me to say something.
"She wants me to go to her." I finally whispered.
"I heard." Edward toweled my hair dry and then
went over to the closet to get me some clothes. He
handed them to me and turned around
respectfully, waiting for me to get dressed.
I didn't even think twice about getting dressed with
Edward in the room. My mind was running a
thousand miles a minute. When he sensed I was
done he sat down on the bed, next to me.
"You should go, she needs you. It might do you
some good to be away from me for a while
anyway."
I turned my head slowly to look at him, my mouth
wide open. "Are you mad?" I shrieked, "I can't be
away from you! Who knows how long she'll want
me to stay! I can hardly stand not seeing you for
two days when you go hunting! How will I ever
survive without you for weeks?"
"Bella, it's for the best. Maybe this is a sign..."
I was so scared I started hyperventilating. "No
Edward, don't leave me! Don't make me go!" I
sounded like a child but I didn't care. Tears rolled
down my cheeks freely.
He quickly took me in his arms and sat me on his
lap. His wet suit soaked my jeans in seconds but I
didn't even notice. I clung to him for support as my
head started to swim.
"Bella calm down, I'm not making you go
anywhere. Please breathe, come on."
"I can't be away from you, I can't move back with
my mom."
"Okay, okay, it's your decision. But Bella, she
needs you!" He stroked my back soothingly.
"And you don't?" I tried hard not to sound hurt.
"Of course I need you. Hell, I don't think I can exist
without you, but she's your mother."
"I've been the parent in that house for too long.
I've always put her feelings and her needs before
mine. But I can't do it now. Not this time."
"Okay. Let's do something. Why don't you go to
your mom's for the rest of the week? Calm her
down. I'll go get you on Saturday and we'll take it
from there."
"Can't you come with me?" I knew I was being
selfish. In Arizona, he'd have to be indoors all day.
"I'll need to go hunting soon, I doubt there are
many places for me to do that there. Besides, I
really do want you to take a few days and think
things through, without me there."
I was still crying. The idea of not seeing him for a
whole week was inconceivable for me. I knew it
had to be done though, so I nodded.
He handed me the cell phone again and waited
while I called my mom back.
"Mom?"
"Isabella! What is going on?"
"Nothing. Look, hold on okay? I'll take the first
flight I can find. But mom, I'm only staying for a
week, then I have to go back."
"Bella..."
"We'll talk more when I get there, mom. Please,
just stay put and wait for me. I'll call you soon."
After I hung up Edward made me change my jeans
again while he packed the few clothes I'd be able
to wear in Phoenix. He barely gave me time to say
goodbye to the VanBeaullens. Carlisle had probably
informed them about my situation already,
because they all met me at the door and wished
me good luck.
I stared at my hands for most of the fast drive to
the nearest airport. Edward bought me a ticket and
checked my bags while I ate a sandwich that
tasted like cardboard. I doubt anything would've
tasted good right then.
I'd have to switch planes twice, which I hated. I sat,
unmoving, on an uncomfortable chair while we
waited for my flight to be announced. When it
finally was, I started crying again.
Edward surrounded me with his arms and kissed
my forehead repeatedly, whispering words of
comfort and love.
"I love you Bella, please try to stay away from
trouble. Call me as soon as you land."
I nodded but refused to let go of him. "Bella." He
pushed me gently away from him and held my face
in his hands. "Listen closely to me. I love you. You
are my life. Don't worry about me. I will be there in
a week to get you, no matter what. If you see
anything strange, anything out of the ordinary at
all, please let me know."
I nodded through my tears "I love you too."
He kissed me tenderly and then let me go. He
watched as I walked to my terminal. I felt like a
death row prisoner walking to the electric chair. I
got into the plane, with a sinking heart, without
looking back.
My mom threw her arms around me as soon as I
stepped foot out of the plane. She cried on my
shoulder and cursed Phil at the top of her lungs.
People were staring.
"Mom, can we go home? We'll talk there." I
convinced her quickly which was kind of surprising,
my mom can be the quite the drama queen. Don't
get me wrong, I love my mother and was very
happy to see her. I was secretly glad to have one
last chance to be with her before Edward turned
me. I couldn't help but feel like I'd rather be in that
amazing hot tub with him than in a stuffy airport
with my mother though.
I drove us to her house, a place I could no longer
think of as home. Home to me was wherever
Edward happened to be. She started telling me her
heart-breaking story as soon as we were alone in
the car. Apparently she'd stayed behind, when Phil
went to one of his games out of town, to get some
new furniture for the house. She'd seen something
that reminded her of him and had decided to
surprise him. When she got to the hotel where he
was staying, she saw some girl leaving his room.
There'd been lots of screaming and throwing of
clothes. Like I said, my mother likes her drama.
He'd tried to explain himself telling her that the
woman was just a friend, but she didn't believe
him. I just drove home, not saying much. I usually
prefer staying away from her guy troubles.
When we got to the house I got my bags out of the
trunk and went upstairs to unpack. My mom
followed me, of course. She was still ranting about
Phil when we got to my room. I stood at the door,
sighed, and looked around. The place looked
exactly like I'd left it. A few candles and a couple of
picture frames that I'd been too lazy to pack were
still sitting on the dresser. The bed was made, the
drawers still held my summer clothes which were
too light for Forks. A wave of melancholy hit me
like a ton of bricks. I dropped my bag on the floor
and went to sit on my bed.
My mom opened the suitcase and started to
unpack. I didn't even notice she was doing it until
she stopped talking for a moment.
"Bella? When did you get this?" She held up a cute
little blouse with thin straps. It was light green and
had a little lace at the top. It was beautiful, and
looked expensive. Edward had probably gotten it
for me at our little shopping trip without me
noticing.
I realized I hadn't once seen all the clothes he'd
bought. He had packed them himself, so I was
suddenly overwhelmed with love for him. I'd seen
him just a few hours ago, but I was already missing
him like crazy.
I knelt down next to the suitcase and sorted
through the clothes. "I went shopping in Seattle a
few weeks ago." I answered my mom's question.
Lying whenever Edward was concerned was now
second nature to me.
"But honey, this things look really expensive. How
did you afford all of this?" I found a new pair of
jeans, a few t-shirts and some socks. I couldn't
contain my laughter when my fingers found a little
black thong. I knew Edward had probably just
gotten it to tease me. I also knew he'd probably
packed it by mistake. What my mom grabbed from
the bag next took me completely by surprise. She
held up a large, white, button down shirt. It was
Edward's. That, he'd packed on purpose.
My mom raised an eyebrow. "Bella? What's going
on?"
"Nothing mom. I just found a really good sale." I
tried to play innocent.
"I'm talking about the shirt."
"Oh, that must be Charlie's."
She wasn't buying it. She sat down right there on
the floor and asked, straight out. "How are things
with that boyfriend of yours?"
I decided to answer sincerely, "Great, really great."
"Oh, well are you two planning on keeping a long
distance relationship? Because you know as well as
I do those hardly ever work."
I groaned inwardly. Apparently we were going to
have that conversation right then. I sat next to her
and looked at her straight in the eye so she would
know I wasn't kidding.
"I'm not staying here for long mom. I really do
need to go back at the end of the week."
My mom pushed her hair away from her face and
gave me her best mom-stare. "Isabella, this is not
open for discussion. I really hoped I wouldn't have
to set my foot down but honey, I'm home now.
You're staying here."
I sighed, "It's the middle of the school year mom, I
can't just pick up and leave everything! Besides, I
kinda like living with Charlie. He needs me."
"I need you!" She whined, "Bella, I don't think I can
make it through this without you."
"You can, and you will. I just... I can't stay."
"You've always hated Forks honey, I'm giving you
the chance of coming back to your life, your real
life."
I was getting exasperated "I have a real life there,
mom. I have real friends and real responsibilities."
"And a real boyfriend?" She asked. When I didn't
answer she rolled her eyes. "Isabella, you can't
change your life over a crush! You'll have other
boyfriends."
"I'm not only staying because of Edward." That
wasn't entirely a lie. I loved all of the Cullens.
"Honey, don't make the same mistakes I did. Don't
leave everything for a high school boyfriend. "
I saw no point in lying to her then. If I was going to
leave her alone I might as well give her a good
reason for it. "He's not just a high school boyfriend
mom. He's not some random guy I just happen to
be dating while I'm there. I love him."
I could see she was trying hard not to roll her eyes
again. That made me a little mad. Had I not
supported every crazy relationship she'd ever been
in? I'd always hoped she'd extend the same
courtesy to me.
"Bella, you are too young. You don't know what
love is."
I shook my head "You don't understand. Edward is
my life. I'm going to be with him forever. I can't live
without him! I can't stay here! I will not stay in
Phoenix!" Tears blurred my vision as I tried hard to
make her believe me.
My mom stood up and frowned "Isabella, you're
being a baby. You have to stay here and that's
final."
She walked out of my room and closed the door. I
sat on my bed and cried until the emotions of the
day and the jet lag caught up with me and I fell
asleep, clutching Edward's shirt to my chest.
When I woke up a few hours later, I realized how
incredibly childish I'd sounded. I figured my mom
was probably being such a pain about Edward
because of her own recent experience with men,
and me blabbing about my feelings for him
probably hadn't helped. I decided right then to let
the matter drop. I'd fight her on it again on
Saturday.
That afternoon I got up, walked downstairs and
apologized to my mom for being such an ass. She
asked me to forgive her for dismissing my feelings
so quickly, but made no reference to the living
arrangements, which was a relief.
We talked some more while I cooked dinner. I did
most of the listening, since the last thing she
seemed to want to hear was me talking about my
perfect boyfriend. Since Edward had basically
taken over my life, that didn't leave me with many
topics of conversation.
After dinner I suggested watching a movie, just so I
could get a couple of hours of peace and quiet.
While my mom stared intently at the television, I
thought about what would happen once I became a
vampire. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to upset
my mom and run away from home, that would give
me an excuse to not stay in touch with her much.
It'd make it easier for me to cut ties later on.
When the movie ended I went upstairs under the
pretext of being tired again. I took a relaxing hot
shower and then wrapped myself in a towel. When
I opened my bag of toiletries to get my hairbrush I
saw something that made me burst into tears.
Edward had packed his toothbrush instead of my
new one.
Some people might find it disgusting, using
someone else's toothbrush, but to me it was just
such an intimate, private thing. I was still crying
when I got to my room. I changed into a pair of
shorts and Edward's white shirt and climbed into
bed. I knew for sure I'd be unable to sleep without
him and I was right. The last time I saw my alarm
clock before exhaustion took over me, it read five
a.m.
An hour later a honk outside my window woke me
up. It was the neighbor's carpool. I didn't even try
to fall back to sleep after that. I sat on my bed and
listened to music until I heard my mom moving
around the house. I went downstairs to have
breakfast with her. She'd made some questionable-
looking pancakes, which would've probably been
hard to swallow even if I hadn't been carrying
around a lump the size of Texas on my throat.
"Honey, why don't you call some of your old friends
today? It might do you some good to reconnect."
My mom suggested. I had to try hard not to make a
face. Sure, I'd met some nice kids at school in
Phoenix. I'd even gone as far as to call them my
friends. Until the Cullens walked into my life, that
is. I just wasn't in the mood for small talk, and I
knew if I called my old acquaintances they'd want
to know about my new life. While I was away from
Edward, even thinking about his name could make
me tear up.
"Well mom, I thought maybe you and I could do
something together today."
My mom smiled widely "Oh that sounds wonderful
Bella, what would you like to do?"
"Well, how about we go grocery shopping first? The
fridge is almost empty. We can also buy loads of
junk food and maybe rent some movies. We can
have a sad movies marathon tonight and cry
ourselves to sleep." Since I was probably going to
do the crying thing anyway, I might as well turn it
into a bonding thing. My mother was thrilled.
So that's what we did, all day long. We ate, talked,
watched movies, and then talked some more. I was
exhausted by the time I got to bed that night, so I
only tossed and turned for a couple of hours before
sleep took over me.
That night it happened. To tell you the truth, I was
amazed it hadn't happened the night before. The
running, the bleeding, the goodbyes with Edward,
the hunter, the tears, the screams, the cold sweat.
My mom came running to me as soon as the
hysteria began, of course, but she wasn't Edward.
She had a very hard time calming me down after
the nightmare.
Minutes passed in a blur of tears. Before my mind
cleared up, I screamed Edward's name and
reached around the bed trying to find him. All I got
was my mother's soft, warm body. She was
terrified, almost as much as I was. She held my
head to her chest firmly and whispered for me to
calm down. It took a while, but my brain finally
understood that it had just been a nightmare.
"Mom, I'm okay. I'm sorry if I scared you." My voice
was muffled by my mother's chest. She let go of
me gently and placed her hand on my sweaty
forehead.
"Bella what was that? I thought you were being
murdered in your bed!" Satisfied with my
temperature, she sat back on the edge of my bed
and stared at me intently.
"It was just a nightmare. A very vivid one, but still
a nightmare." I took the sleeve of my shirt and
used it to dry my face. My mom's eyes widened
when I did that and I frowned. Then I looked down
at myself and blushed furiously when I saw why.
I was wearing Edward's shirt again, she hadn't seen
me in it the night before. "Is that Charlie's shirt?"
She asked, her eyes squinting.
"Yes." I tried to sound convincing, but of course she
wasn't buying it. However, she decided not to say
anything about it, and for that I was grateful.
"You were screaming." She stated the obvious.
"I was scared." I returned the favor.
"You were screaming your boyfriend's name. Was
he doing something to you?" She was trying hard
to sound calm. I admired her efforts.
"No mom, of course not. He was being hurt by
someone else."
Even though my mom was right there with me in
the room, even though I knew Edward could never
get hurt, I still felt alone and uneasy. I reached for
the phone on my nightstand and dialed his cell
phone number.
"What are you doing? It's four o'clock in the
morning!" My mom raised an eyebrow.
"He'll be up." I waited for the phone to ring, but he
answered before it did.
"Oh my love I'm sorry! I forgot about your
nightmares." He said before I could even greet
him.
"Edward." I whispered, grateful to hear his voice.
"I'm right here, I'm okay. I love you." His words
soothed me more than anything else in the world,
except for his touch.
I wanted to tell him how much I missed his body
next to mine, how I craved his presence in my bed,
how even though I had his shirt on and his smell
around me, I still needed his breath to feel safe.
Since my mom was right next to me, looking at me
as if I'd just grown a horn, all I could say was "I
miss you."
"I miss you too Bella. Now lie down again, hang up
and I'll call you from a landline."
"Okay." I whispered.
My mom was still staring. "You should not be
calling boys at this hour."
"I've had this nightmare a few times before. I can
never go back to sleep unless I know he's okay." I
was getting good at the whole half-truth thing.
"Well it's weird Bella." She stood up and crossed
her arms.
The phone rang then. "Can we talk about this in
the morning?" I asked her before answering.
She raised both eyebrows in surprise at my
rudeness but left my room anyway. I predicted
another monster fight during breakfast the next
day, but it didn't matter. As long as I got to talk to
Edward, I wouldn't mind having to fight a whole
army on it.
"Hello?" I answered the phone.
"Would you like me to hum for you?" His deep
voice filled my senses. I raised the collar of his shirt
so it would be closer to my face and laid down
under the covers. "How about if you tell me a story
instead?"
He snorted, but even that sounded graceful coming
from him.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing, I just felt like a grandfather all of a
sudden."
"Well, you're certainly old enough to be." I smiled.
"Are you complaining?" He said it lightly, but I
could tell he was waiting intently for my answer.
"Not at all, I like my men experienced."
He laughed wholeheartedly. "You know as well as I
do that if I tell you a story you'll hang on to every
word and won't get any sleep."
I shrugged, even though he couldn't see me.
"Yeah, you're right. Fine, hum me to sleep."
He started to, and I closed my eyes contently.
"Bella?" He asked after a minute.
"Yes?"
"I won't be able to answer your calls after tonight.
Will you be okay on your own until Saturday?"
I sighed. I wanted to ask why, I wanted to
complain, I wanted him to be with me every day,
all day long. Instead I whispered, "Yes, I'll be fine."
Not because I truly believed it, but because right
then, what I really needed was for him to keep
humming. I fell deeply asleep with that magical
sound and woke up hours later to the beat of the
dial tone.
The next morning was chaos. My mom woke me up
at seven a.m. by opening my curtains and flooding
my room with sunlight. I groaned and pressed the
pillow to my face.
"Isabella, get up. We need to talk." She sounded
mad. She probably hadn't slept, because I'd never
seen her up before nine unless she had work.
"Mom, can't this wait? It's ridiculously early!" Even
though I'd never be able to go back to sleep now, I
wanted to put off the inevitable for as long as I
could.
"Get up, get dressed and come downstairs. You
have five minutes." I took that as a no.
I dragged my feet to the bathroom. After brushing
my hair and changing into jeans and a t-shirt I
stood at the top of the stairs and took a deep
breath. I was going to have to fight her, hard. I
could see the war coming and it was going to be
epic.
She was sitting on the couch, two cups of coffee in
the table in front of her. I sat down next to her
without saying a word.
"Bella, something is very wrong here." That's my
mother, always right to the point.
"What do you mean mom?"
"You're behaving like a stranger. You are
disrespectful and childish and you want to stay in
Forks? It sounds like you've had a lobotomy!"
I covered my eyes with my hand so she wouldn't
see me rolling them. "You're overreacting mom.
Look, I know you're going through a very hard time
in your life. I know you thought Phil was the one
and now you're alone again but mom... I just can't
help you anymore. I can't keep putting my life on
hold for you."
"When have I ever asked you to do that?" She
raised her voice.
"Never, I've always done it on my own. I've always
cooked for you because you can't even make toast
without burning it. I clean after you because your
idea of housework is to sweep the room with a
glance. I wash our clothes because I got tired of
buying white underwear and ending up always
wearing pink. I moved to Forks so you could start
your new life with Phil without me being in the
way! And you know what? I did all of these things
gladly, because I wanted to make you happy. I
know how much you gave up by having me so
young, and I've spent most of my life trying to
make it up to you. I love you mom, I really do.
You're my best friend and the one person I can
always count on and trust, but you have to
understand. When I went to Forks, something
happened. I met the one person that would do all
of that, and anything else, for me. Edward makes
me feel safe, mom. He's just perfect."
"Everyone has flaws, Bella." Renee interrupted.
"Even his flaws are perfect. He's it for me. I know
I'm young, and I know he's my first boyfriend, but
that only means that I was lucky enough to find my
destiny at the first try. He is the man I'm going to
be with for the rest of my life. That's why I can't
stay here with you."
She took a sip of her coffee and got up. "Come on,
let's go."
"Where are we going?" I asked, a hint of hope in
my voice.
"To your old school, we need to get you back in
there soon or you'll end up missing too many
classes."
My heart sank. "Mom, didn't you hear a word I just
said?"
She sighed and stopped by the door. "Of course I
did, I just can't let you do it."
"Do what?"
"The same mistakes I did when I was your age."
I was too stunned to say anything, so I just sank
back down on the couch.
"Bella, when I met your father I thought he was it
for me too, I thought I'd be happy with him forever!
And then I got married. And then I got pregnant.
And that was it. You have so much potential Bella.
You can go to college and have a career. You could
travel the world! Why tie yourself down now?"
I shook my head. "It's different mom, I can't
explain why..." She was already walking to the door
again. I had to tell her something, anything.
"Mom wait!" She stopped, but didn't turn around.
"Give me a few days, just until the end of the
week. I'll make an effort to try to adjust."
"This is going to happen whether you want it to or
not." She didn't even look at me.
I groaned. She'd chosen the wrong time to be
parental. "I know. I just need time. Just a little bit of
time."
She sighed but dropped her keys on the coffee
table. "We will go on Monday."
I let out the breath I'd been holding. She'd left me
no other choice. I'd have to run away with Edward
on Saturday.
The rest of the week was stressful, to say the least.
I'd given up sleep altogether, knowing that the
nightmares would only make my mom more
determined to keep me in Phoenix. I was deeply
depressed and spent most of my time in front of
the tv. I could think of nothing but Edward. I ached
for his touch constantly. My mom walked around
the house looking worried but still sure of her
decision. She made many attempts at cheering me
up, but nothing worked. Part of me hoped that if
she saw me sad enough she'd take pity on me and
send me back home.
By Thursday I was going insane with loneliness. I
knew I had just two more days before I got to see
Edward, but that also meant I had less than 48
hours to be with my mother. That's why, when she
suggested going shopping for new school clothes, I
didn't object. I wanted to buy something nice to
surprise Edward with anyway.
We walked through the packed mall quickly. I was
heading straight to a little store where I'd seen
some cool clothes a few months back, but my mom
stirred me in the direction of a jewelry store near
the other end of the mall.
"Bella, you're turning eighteen soon. I want to buy
you something nice. Maybe a bracelet."
"Mom, seriously, I don't need jewelry. Why don't
you get me a shirt or something instead?"
My mom shook her head. "Your grandparents got
me a bracelet when I turned eighteen. I've always
treasured it and I plan on giving it to you someday,
but for your birthday I want you to have something
new. I've been saving up for this."
I sighed. It was a nice gesture. When we got to the
store we stood in front of the window and looked at
some necklaces through the glass.
"Maybe you can get something with a nice, little
stone in it. How about a garnet? I know it's your
favorite."
I was about to tell her I had a new favorite when
my eyes fell upon a pair of earrings made out of
large topaz stones. They looked just like his eyes.
The color was almost exact. I could feel my eyes
watering up. I wanted to fight back the tears, I
really did, but the pressure of the whole week, the
lack of sleep and my need for Edward just crashed
down on me at that moment.
I closed my eyes, but the salty tears rolled down
my cheeks anyway. "Bella? What's wrong? We can
get you something else!" My mom sounded
alarmed but I could barely hear her. My head was
swimming with thoughts of Edward, of his piercing
stare, his perfect face, his godlike complexion, his
smell.
I suddenly realized I was afraid, terrified in fact, of
never seeing him again. Insecurity combined with
stress made me thing that maybe he'd
reconsidered, maybe he'd decided not to be with a
simple human after all. Maybe he would leave me
for good, why else would he have asked me not to
call him anymore? It made me dizzy. I started
hyperventilating.
"Bella! What's wrong?" The tears turned into sobs. I
had to lean against the wall to keep myself from
falling. "Mom, I have to go back to Forks." I
managed to get out between cries.
"What? Bella, what does that have to do with
anything?"
"I have to see him again mom. I can't breathe
without him. I can't think, I can't eat. I haven't been
able to sleep in days! I need him mom! I need
him!" I was almost screaming. People were looking
over in alarm. A crowd was starting to form.
"Isabella calm down!" My mom hissed. My vision
was blurry, probably from the lack of oxygen.
"Breathe slowly, Bella, just breathe slowly!"
I couldn't stop the tears, no matter how hard I
tried. I hated making scenes, but the situation was
beyond my control.
Suddenly I caught a whiff of something familiar and
delicious. Something I craved more than life itself. I
looked up immediately, my eyes searching the
crowd. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him.
There was no mistake, he was standing just a few
feet away, dressed in black from head to toe, and
he was staring at me.
I started walking towards him, pushing my way
through the crowd without noticing. When I saw
him do the same I broke into a run. He met me
halfway. My body collided with his and he lifted me
into a fierce hug. I threw my arms around his neck
and hugged him back with all my strength. His
smell overwhelmed me, his cold skin pressed
against mine in the most delicious of ways. He set
me down, just so his hands could cup my face. I
stared deeply into those beautiful eyes I loved so
much.
"Edward." I whispered.
He silenced me with the most wonderful kiss.
Goodbyes and Welcomes
I started walking towards him, pushing my way
through the crowd without noticing. When I saw
him do the same I broke into a run. He met me
halfway. My body collided with his and he lifted me
into a fierce hug. I threw my arms around his neck
and hugged him back with all my strength. His
smell overwhelmed me, his cold skin pressed
against mine in the most delicious of ways. He set
me down, just so his hands could cup my face. I
stared deeply into those beautiful eyes I loved so
much.
"Edward." I whispered.
He silenced me with the most wonderful kiss.
I forgot about everything else. All that existed in
my world for a few moments were Edward and
myself. I felt like I was floating. And then, it was
over. Edward pulled away and frowned.
"Why did you stop?" I complained.
"Your heart stopped beating for a moment there."
He smiled and rested his forehead against mine. I
breathed in his scent, his delicious smell, his being.
"I missed you so much." I whispered.
"I missed you too, more than I ever thought
possible." He used his fingers to dry my tears. I'd
forgotten all about my panic attack.
"Not that I'm complaining, but what are you doing
here?" My lips were inches away from his own, just
so I could breathe in his breath.
He closed his eyes, which made me suspicious.
"Well..." he confessed, "I've been here all week."
"What?" I was so stunned I took a step away from
him.
"Come on Bella! You didn't honestly believe I'd
leave you all alone after what Alice saw a week ago
did you?"
My jaw dropped. I wanted to throw something at
him. "I was in pain! Physical pain, from being away
from you and you've been here all along?" I
shrieked.
"You think it was easy for me? Watching you toss
and turn all night long, hearing you scream for me
and not being able to go to you? Knowing you were
depriving yourself of food and sleep because of
me? It killed me Bella!"
"Then why did you do it?"
"I had to make sure." He lowered his voice.
"Make sure of what?"
He pulled me close to him and whispered in my ear
"Make sure I'm really what you want. I needed to
know that being with me wasn't something you
were going to regret later on. I had to be certain
that this is what you really need."
I looked up into his eyes "You wanted to know if I'll
miss my human life once you've change me." It
was a statement, not a question. He just nodded.
I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him
once more. Then I whispered. "Are you convinced
now?" He nodded again. Relief flooded my senses.
There was no question about it now, he would
change me during the winter break, and he'd do it
without regrets.
"Bella I was so scared when I saw that crowd
forming around you. What happened?" He placed
his cold hand on my cheek. It felt great, and I
noticed I was still sweating a little from my
breakdown.
"I saw a pair of earrings, the exact same color as
your eyes."
He chuckled and rested his forehead against mine
once more. "My beautiful Bella, what am I going to
do with you?"
"You can start by taking her home." Renee's voice
interrupted my little heaven. I closed my eyes and
prepared myself for the fit she was probably going
to throw. Then she continued, "Home to Forks."
I snapped my head around to stare at her "Mom..."
"Bella, I'm sorry. I've been imposing myself on you.
I thought I was saving you from some horrible fate
by keeping you here but the fact is, all those rash
decisions I took as a teenager did get me
something more than regrets, they got me you."
My eyes teared up once more. "I'm not saying you
should run off, get married and start a family right
now. In fact, I'll kill you with my own two hands if
you do. I just realize now that I won't be able to
keep you from doing what you want, what you
think is right. I should probably just trust your
decisions. After all, you've always been the adult at
our house."
"Oh mom!" I hugged her briefly. She then turned to
Edward. "Now you better take good care of my
little girl. If you ever lie, cheat or make her feel bad
about herself in any way, I'll chase you around with
a frying pan. Are we clear?"
Edward smiled "Very clear. Don't worry. I love your
daughter more than I do myself. I'd rather die than
hurt her."
My mom seemed satisfied. "Let's go home and get
you packed Bella. I'm sure you miss the clouds of
Forks already."
"But mom, what about you?"
Renee smiled at me, "I'll be fine." And right then, I
knew she would be.
My mom drove us back to the house so I could
pack my things. Edward said something about
needing to buy some books for his sisters and
stayed behind. I think he just wanted to give us
some space.
When we got home I went upstairs to pack. While I
was doing that, I heard my mom moving around in
the kitchen. Once I knew I'd be allowed to go back
to Forks, I felt a little bad about leaving her all
alone, so I went downstairs and found her sitting at
the kitchen table, a cup of coffee in front of her. I
sat down on the chair next to her.
"Hey Bells." She sounded really sad.
"How's the coffee?" I asked.
"Bitter." I could tell we weren't just talking about
the hot liquid anymore.
"Look Bella, I'm sorry for acting like such a..."
"Parent?" I interrupted.
She smiled a little "Well, yes."
"Mom it's okay. You're going through a very rough
time! I should've been more understanding."
She stared at her cup while she stirred "He's called,
you know?"
"Phil?"
"I had so many lost calls on my cell phone, I finally
just decided to turn it off."
I sighed and took her hand "Mom, maybe you
should talk to him. Hear his side of the story."
She shook her head "I can't go back to him. Once a
cheater, always a cheater. Right?"
"But you miss him mom! Besides, he says he didn't
do it."
She gave me a sideway glance "Do you honestly
think he'd admit it if he had?"
I shrugged. "I'm just saying you should hear what
he has to say. You don't have to go back to him,
but at least you could get some sense of closure."
She stared into space, lost in her own thoughts. I
would've left it at that, but I had a bit of
apologizing to do myself.
"Hey mom? I'm sorry too."
She frowned. "For what?"
"Well, this past week I've felt as if I were living in a
soap opera. I just got so scared when you told me
you weren't going to let me go back to Forks. I
tried talking you into letting me go by confessing
my feelings for Edward, which probably wasn't the
best idea considering your situation. I might have
sounded a tad..."
"Melodramatic?" She was laughing at me.
"Maybe just a little." I grumbled.
She giggled and looked back down at her coffee.
"You really love him, don't you?"
I nodded "I do."
"That much?"
I felt my face growing hot when I said "Well,
weren't you standing right next to me at the mall?"
She started laughing again. "Oh right! What
triggered that Oscar-winning performance
anyway?"
"I saw a pair of earrings the exact same color as his
eyes." I mumbled under my breath.
She snapped her head around to stare at me, her
mouth open. "Oh you are such a goner."
I laughed and covered my face with my hands. This
was the Renee I was used to, it felt good having
her back.
"You know mom, if you need me to stay I can
probably stick around for another week or so.
Maybe Edward can get a hotel room somewhere
close."
"No, that's alright. I need to start figuring things
out on my own. You're not going to be around
forever."
I bit my lip, trying hard not to let her know just how
right she was.
"I'm amazed Edward's parents let him run around
the country after you every time you decide to
leave." She commented.
I just shrugged. "The Cullens are really cool people,
you'd like them."
"Maybe I'll get a chance to get to know them better
sometime."
"Yeah, maybe."
She crossed her arms. "They're all awfully
beautiful. That girl, Alice, she's a knockout."
I laughed, "You haven't met Rosalie."
"Who's Rosalie?"
"Edward's other sister. She's just drop-dead
gorgeous."
My mom raised an eyebrow "I'm intrigued. Don't
you have like a picture or something?"
"No, but maybe Edward does."
"Why don't you invite him over for dinner?" She
was being nice, but I couldn't say yes to that. She
was bound to notice if he didn't eat at all.
"How about you and I go grab something at some
fancy restaurant by ourselves? We can have him
over for coffee afterwards."
She clapped her hands in excitement "Oh we can
get all dressed up and everything! I'm gonna go
take a shower."
I smiled as I watched her go. It felt good having my
best friend back.
"THAT is your sister?" My mother gawked openly at
the family picture Edward had just handed her. I
would've been embarrassed by her actions if I'd
never seen Rosalie myself. I knew, however, that
my mother's reaction was perfectly natural.
Edward chuckled "I think I have one of just her
around here somewhere." He fished around his
wallet until he came up with another little
photograph. My mom's eyes just about popped out
of her head when she saw the picture. It was a
close-up of Rosalie standing on the roof of their
house, she was looking over her shoulder at the
camera and smiling playfully, her hair flying all
over the place. No model could ever compare to
her radiating beauty.
"Our brother Jasper took that one. He has a bit of a
photographic eye. Or so he claims."
We were sitting in my mother's modest living
room. Renee and I had gone out to dinner early
and I'd called Edward as soon as we'd gotten
home. I hadn't even changed out of the little,
black, strapless number my mother had forced me
to wear to the restaurant. It'd taken me forever just
to talk her into letting me take my shoes off.
"Well Edward, your family seems very... nice."
Renee was trying to regain her calm. I could see
my vampire boyfriend trying hard to hold back
laughter. I could only guess it was because of
something my mother was thinking.
He handed her the rest of the pictures he carried
around in his wallet. He had one of us kissing in a
photo booth, that one was a little embarrassing. My
mother looked through them gleefully. She's a
photo junkie. She stopped and frowned at one of
the pictures. I had to lean over to see what she was
making faces at. It was a picture of Rosalie and
Emmett on the roof, probably taken by Jasper too.
In it, Rosalie had her legs wrapped around
Emmett's waist, it looked like he was swinging her
around. They were kissing.
It was a very beautiful photograph. I would have to
compliment Jasper later. However, I had neglected
to tell my mother about the relationships in
Edward's family.
I could see she was looking for something
diplomatic to say. Edward, who hadn't seen what
my mother was looking at, but could probably
guess from her thoughts, glanced over at me. He
silently asked me with his eyes whether I wanted
to tell her, or should he.
I cleared my throat. "That's Emmett. Rosalie's
boyfriend."
"I thought he was her brother." She let out a
nervous laugh.
"Well... he is. I mean all the Cullen children are
adopted. In fact, Rosalie and Jasper decided to
keep their last name, Hale." My mom raised an
eyebrow but said nothing.
"Alice and Jasper are also a couple." Edward
chipped in. He probably just wanted to get all the
surprises out of the way, or at least as many as we
could actually tell my mother.
"Oh my!" She giggled. "Well, that must be one
interesting household."
"It is," I smiled calmly at her, "There's a lot of love
in that house." Somehow, I doubt that sounded as
well as it had in my mind.
"We are all very grateful to be a part of our family.
The Cullens took us in when no one else would.
Emmett and Rosalie are of age, they probably
would've moved out already if we weren't all so
close."
My mom took a deep breath. Edward's soothing
voice and sincere words calmed her down slowly.
He gave me a smile, indicating she was probably a
little more at ease with the whole thing.
"Anything else I should know about?" She said this
in a joking tone, but I could tell she was a little
worried.
Well yes mom, Edward is a 104-year-old vampire
and he's going to kill me in December. "No, not
really" I smiled sincerely.
"Well, when are you two going back to Forks?"
"I was thinking about getting us tickets for
tomorrow night. Unless you two want to spend
some more time together. I can wait for as long as
you need." Edward spoke to me. I shook my head
to show him I was okay with leaving the next day.
"You two should probably get going. School is
waiting." I groaned. It was hard balancing a normal
life and the excitement of being involved with
mythological creatures.
"I should probably go to my hotel now. My dad
wanted me to call him tonight to let him know
about our plans." Edward got up. He turned to say
goodbye to my mother and she engulfed him in a
hug. Shock registered on his face, but he soon
regained his composure and hugged her back.
"It was nice seeing you again Edward. You'll take
good care of my little girl, won't you?" She
whispered.
"Always." He nodded.
I walked him to the door. He kissed me softly and
whispered, "I'll be waiting in your bed."
My heart fluttered at his words. I closed the door
behind him and went to help my mom in the
kitchen. She was washing the mugs we'd used.
"Don't you think it's a little weird? Brothers dating
sisters under the same roof?" She sounded
genuinely curious, not judgmental.
"They are not really related mom. Besides, if you
could see them... after you spend five minutes in
that house it starts to feel completely normal to
you. They all love each other very much."
She shrugged. "It's just a little too Woody Allen for
my taste."
I laughed wholeheartedly. "Mom, I'm kind of tired.
Do you mind if I go to bed?"
"Not at all honey. Sleep well."
"Oh I will." I said under my breath as I hurried
upstairs. I was in such a rush to get to my room
that I tripped on the last step. I was just about to
have a very close encounter with the floor when I
suddenly found myself floating in midair, my nose
inches away from the soft carpet.
"You should really be more careful. I'm not always
around twenty four hours a day, you know?"
"Well you can certainly try." I smiled.
Edward had one hand on my chest and the other
one just over my knees. He was holding me
horizontally, which was a good thing. It would've
probably been very painful if I'd banged my leg on
the step. He flipped me around in his arms
effortlessly and carried me to my room.
He sat me down gently on the bed and laid down
next to me. "Shoes!" I glared at his expensive
looking footwear. It took longer for the shoes to hit
the ground than it did for him to get them off.
I took his shirt, the one I'd been using for bed, out
of the drawer and was about to go change in the
bathroom when his cold hand on my bare shoulder
stopped me. "Let me help you with your dress." His
breath on my neck made me shiver. He took the
zipper in his gentle fingers and slowly pulled it
down to my mid-back. He moved my straight hair
away from the newly exposed skin with his
fingertips and placed a small kiss on the middle of
my back.
My heart raced, I worked on controlling my
breathing while he kissed every inch of my pale
skin he could reach. For a moment I thought he
was going to pull the zipper all the way down to my
waist, but he never did.
"You should probably go change now." He
whispered so close to my ear his breath tickled me.
"I don't think I can stand up." I'd closed my eyes
when he'd started the seducing process and I was
unable to open them yet.
He chuckled, his deep laugh made me catch my
breath. "Okay then." He lifted me into his arms,
careful not to move the dress even an inch lower,
and carried me to the bathroom. I changed into his
shirt and a pair of small shorts quickly and brushed
my teeth. I debated for a moment on whether to
wash my face or not. I decided against it, my mom
had done a great job with my makeup. I decided to
squeeze the hours of girly torture for all they were
worth.
When I walked back into my room, Edward was
resting comfortably on my bed, wearing just his
slacks. I stood at the door and smiled, leaning
against the doorway to hold myself up while I
admired his perfect form.
He turned his face around gracefully to look at me,
and his breath caught in his throat. Thank you
mom.
"Oh god, Isabella. You will be the death of me." He
took his eyes away from me and stared at the
ceiling. I could tell he'd stopped breathing. I smiled
and joined him in bed.
"Is something wrong Edward?" I asked innocently.
"Yes. God yes. No one should be allowed to look
that good." He bit his lip.
"Right back at you, love." I was surprisingly having
fun with this little torture game I'd just come up
with.
His eyes instantly fell on mine. I could almost see
the wheels turning in his head. I should've known
vampires couldn't take a little competition.
He flipped me on my back and covered my body
with his own. "You are playing with fire here,
beautiful."
I smiled. "I wish it'd burn me already."
He growled and buried his face on my neck.
Holding my hands above my head, he ran small
kisses all the way from my forehead, down my
nose, past my mouth to my throat. Then he used
his free hand to pull the fabric of the white shirt I
was wearing away from my lower neck. He undid
the top button and showered my skin with kisses.
My breathing became erratic. He let go of my
hands only so he could move lower. He surrounded
my waist with his arms and laid his head on my
chest. He was listening to my heart pounding.
"I win." He said against the material of the shirt.
"Well that's not fair, you have much better self
control." I grumbled.
"On the contrary, Bella. It takes a monumental
amount of effort to stop every time."
I smiled "Just think, in a few months you won't
have to."
He unwrapped his arms from around my waist and
laid down next to me, taking me into his embrace.
"I'm actually looking forward to it."
"Well you better be." I grinned. He gave me a
crooked smile in return.
"Sleep Bella, I know you haven't done that in days."
"If I have the nightmare again..."
"I'll wake you up." He kissed my forehead. "Don't
worry about a thing. You're safe with me."
I knew he was right, so I allowed my eyes to close.
"You know, I never pictured you as that kind of
guy." I crossed my ankles in the air as I rested
most of my weight on my stomach and elbows.
"What kind of guy?" Edward murmured. He was
slowly driving me insane by running his hands up
and down my back.
"The kind that keeps pictures in his wallet." I had
the small photographs spread in front of me on my
pillow, and I was looking at them carefully.
"Well it's important for me sometimes, having my
family close. It helps keep me sane."
I held up the picture of us. He smiled and tucked a
strand of hair behind my ear. "You are my family
now, Bella."
I smiled in contempt. "Speaking of families, what
was my mother thinking last night?"
"Well she was awed at first, Rosalie can have that
effect on people."
"It's not just Rosalie. You've been known to dazzle
a few people yourself."
Edward, who was lying on his back next to me,
leaned over to give me a kiss. "Yes, well that was
before she saw the passionate fraternal kiss."
I giggled. "How bad was it?"
Edward shrugged. "She was pretty freaked out at
first. She couldn't believe our parents would allow
that. She calmed down quickly, though."
I looked out the window. The sun was already
rising. Edward would have to leave soon.
Something suddenly occurred to me. "Hey
Edward?"
"Yes?"
"You've been here all week right?"
"Yes."
"And you were watching over me? All the time?"
"As much as the sun would allow, yes."
I blushed scarlet. He pushed himself up on his
elbows. "What?" He asked.
"You saw all the drama I pulled?" I was deeply
embarrassed. I must have sounded clingy and
obsessed.
He smiled. In a second, I found myself on top of
him. He was looking up at me through those
amazing eyelashes. "My temper tantrums were
way worse."
I frowned. "How come?"
"Well, every time I heard you fight with your
mother or cry I just had to punch something. I
knocked down a tree a couple of blocks from here."
My eyes widened. I'd seen that tree. It was huge!
"That was you?"
He gave me a crooked smile. "I told you mine was
worse." His face became serious "But at the mall, I
just couldn't take it. I was afraid you'd collapse
from the lack of oxygen."
I nodded "I probably would have if you hadn't
decided to reveal yourself to me."
He took my face in his hands. "Its too hard, trying
to stay away from you. I don't ever want to do it
again."
"And I don't want you to even try."
He captured my lips with his own for a brief
moment before his eyes shot open. "Oh crap!" I
heard him whisper under his breath and suddenly I
was all alone in my room.
The door creaked open slowly. "Bella? You're up?"
My mom stuck her head in. I frowned.
"Yeah, I am, but why are you awake?" I glanced
down at the pictures I'd been looking at, only to
discover they were no longer there. Edward could
be pretty handy in a crisis.
"Well I heard you talking. I thought you were on the
phone or something." Renee opened the door all
the way and walked in. She looked around
suspiciously.
"Nope, I was singing to myself."
"I could've sworn I heard a deeper voice." She
raised an eyebrow suspiciously.
"I was singing a duet." I mentally slapped myself
for my terrible lying skills. She said no more about
that though, and just sat down on the edge of my
bed.
"How did you hear me anyway? You were already
up weren't you?" I sat up and rested my back
against the headboard.
"I've been thinking a lot about Phil. I think I'll call
him tonight after dropping you off at the airport."
She curled her fingers around a loose thread on my
comforter.
"Don't you want to call him while I'm still here? I
could help you through it."
"No, it might get ugly. I'd rather do it alone." I felt
very proud of my mother right then.
I patted the space next to me on my bed, the one
Edward had just been lying on. My mom stretched
out beside me gratefully.
"I'm going to be fine, right?" She asked.
I was being sincere when I said, "Of course."
The phone rang then. My mother frowned as she
reached out to get it. "Hello?" She asked, confused
by the early caller. "Oh Charlie! Hi! Yes, I've been
leaving messages since yesterday for you. Oh, no
kidding? Sure, talk to her yourself."
My mom handed me the phone and I frowned
"Dad?"
"Bells! Are you alright? I just checked my
messages. What's going on?"
"Where are you?" I asked. He sounded very far
away.
"I'm fishing. I rented a cabin for a few days."
"Well I just wanted to let you know that I talked
things over with mom and I'd like to go back to
Forks, if that's okay with you."
"Really?" He sounded so hopeful my heart went out
to him. I'd never really noticed how lonely he could
get, living all by himself.
"Yes. I'll be there tonight or maybe early
tomorrow."
"Oh." He was disappointed.
"What's wrong?"
"Well, remember how I told you I rented a cabin?"
"Yes" I raised an eyebrow.
"Well, I'm a little far from Forks right now."
"How far?"
"At least three days away."
I opened my eyes wide in shock. "Why did you go
so far? It's not like there's no good fishing near
home!"
"I kinda didn't feel like being near home much."
I just had to smile. I was doing the right thing by
going back, not only for myself, but for him too.
"Is there any way you can stay there for a few
more days?" He asked worriedly.
"Well I think Edward already bought our plane
tickets."
The line was silent for so long I had to ask, "Dad?"
"Edward is there?"
"Yes, he came to get me."
"Yeah, he does that a lot doesn't he?" Charlie
murmured.
"Anyway, I can probably stay at the Cullens for a
couple of days. I'm dying to see Alice."
My father sighed. "Are Carlisle and Esme going to
be there?"
"I think so."
"I'll call them to make sure. If they say it's okay,
then you can stay there."
I smiled. A weekend at the Cullens, I could think of
nothing more relaxing.
Saying goodbye to my mother was more difficult
than I'd anticipated. She took an incredibly long
time letting me go when she hugged me, and I
wasn't so sure about leaving her there either. But
once I was finally seated on the plane next to
Edward I started to relax. I fell asleep with my head
on his lap after they turned off the seat-belt sign,
only to be woken up by him when I started having
the terrible nightmare again. I could tell he wanted
to comfort me properly and probably talk to me
about those dreams, but we couldn't call attention
to ourselves in a place as small and crowded as a
plane.
Once we landed, we found Carlisle and Esme
waiting for us at the airport. Alice had wanted to go
too, but Jasper needed to go hunting and she
decided to go with him instead. Esme assured me
that she'd be waiting at home for me though. I
really had missed her, and couldn't wait to see her
again.
The drive home was quick and quiet. Carlisle asked
about my mother and my stressful week. I
answered as wholeheartedly as I could, but I really
didn't feel like talking much.
It was already dark when we pulled up the
driveway. I was amazed at how right it felt, being
there. Alice was waiting for us on the porch. She
started jumping up and down excitedly when she
saw us, and had my door open before the car had
fully stopped.
"Careful Alice, she's human, she breaks." Edward
warned. He was probably just upset he hadn't
gotten to open the door for me himself. Or maybe
it was something else. I frowned at him.
"Oh shut up, you party pooper!" Alice pulled me
into a hug and started talking a mile a minute.
"Oh just wait until you see everything I got for you
this week. I figured if you're going to become a
vampire, you better start dressing as one. I started
making a list about all the things we need to do
before you join the cold side. We have to start by
growing your nails, you don't want them to look
like that for all eternity do you?" She stared at my
fingers. A week without Edward had made me
chew down every available inch. Some of my nails
even looked red, as if they'd been bleeding at
some point.
Alice was pulling me in the direction of the house,
but Edward stopped her by taking my arm. She felt
the tug and turned around.
"Could you give us a little alone time, sis?" He
asked politely.
Alice pouted. "But you've been with her all day!"
"Yes. But before last night, I hadn't been with the
love of my life for almost a week."
Alice growled but marched upstairs, mumbling
incoherent things all the way.
"Think whatever you like!" Edward called after her.
Okay, so maybe they were just incoherent to me.
He smiled at me and walked me to his room. His
smile was soft, which made me feel like he really
just wanted to spend time with me, although part
of me suspected there was something more.
He closed the door behind us and guided me to
what was now our bed. He lifted me by the waist
and placed me on the soft cover before joining me.
He laid down next to me, and then sat me on his
lap. I ended up straddling his waist.
"Edward?" I asked.
"Yes?"
"What's going on?"
He let out a soft laugh and sat up. His arms quickly
found their place around my waist and he kissed
my lips softly.
The door suddenly burst open. I glanced up in
surprise, but Edward just looked aggravated.
Emmett waltzed in and sat down on the brown
leather couch.
"So Bella, you're a girl right?" Not even a hello. He
was tossing a baseball up in the air and catching it
before his superhuman strength propelled it all the
way up to the roof. The movement was disturbingly
fast, all I could see was his arm blurring up and
down.
"Last time I checked." I tried to untangle my body
from Edward's, but he wouldn't let me.
"Hey Emmett, we were having a moment here."
Edward's cocky brother raised his eyebrows. "If you
wanted privacy you should've closed the door."
"I did." Edward pointed out. Emmett just shrugged.
"I have an emergency. I really need Bella's help.
It's a matter of life or death."
"What's wrong?" I was genuinely curious.
Emmett dropped the ball on the floor and stretched
out on the couch. He crossed his arms behind his
head and sighed. "Rosalie is mad at me. I need to
get her something."
Edward let out a frustrated growl. I just had to
chuckle. "Emmett, this is not exactly my area of
expertise. Have you tried the typical flowers?"
"Those won't work." It looked like he'd given it
some thought.
"Well why don't you ask Alice? I'm sure she can tell
you a lot more than me."
"Alice is off limits when they fight." Edward
sounded very bored by this whole thing, he'd
probably seen one too many of those fights to be
interested in any way.
"Why?" I frowned.
"Well she knows what will make Rosalie happy
again but SHE WON'T TELL ME!" Emmett raised his
voice on that last part. I could hear Alice's laughter
coming from somewhere a few doors down the
hall.
"So how do you know flowers won't work?"
"Ah! Well you see, she can't tell me what to get
Rosalie, but she can tell me what not to get her.
I've been pacing outside her room all day, thinking
of things for Rose. Every now and then I'll peek in
and Alice just shakes her head. It's driving me
insane."
"Well, how about cooking her dinner?" I asked
innocently. Emmett just raised an eyebrow. "Fine,
how about catching her dinner?" I corrected.
He sat up, thinking hard. "You mean like tying up a
bear for her? What would be the fun in that?"
"It's a romantic gesture. She might like it."
"Oh kid, you have a twisted mind. I love it!"
Emmett jumped up and ran out of the room so fast
I didn't even see him. I turned back around to face
Edward. He had a weird smile on his face.
"What?" I asked.
"A tied up wild animal for dinner? He's right. You
are twisted."
"You know my theory, the one about you guys
being in a better mood after you've eaten. It might
apply to her too."
From the floor below us, we suddenly heard a
whoop. "Oh Bella I love you!" Emmett yelled his
gratitude. Alice had obviously agreed with me.
"Hey!" Edward yelled back, but he wasn't the only
one. A girl's voice said that exact same thing
somewhere downstairs.
"Oh Rosalie, you know I didn't mean it like that!"
Emmett sounded repentant.
"Didn't you? You know what? Go be with her. GET
OUT OF MY ROOM!"
"It's Our room honey!"
"Who are you calling honey!" A door slammed shut.
"Kids! Do not slam those doors! Don't make me go
up there!" Esme yelled from the kitchen.
Edward rolled his eyes and threw a pillow at the
door. It closed with a bang.
"What did I just say?" I could faintly hear Esme
complaining.
I giggled. Edward tucked a strand of hair behind
my ears and frowned. "What are you laughing at?"
"Your family can be so normal sometimes. It's fun!"
He shook his head. "It gets old pretty quickly.
Those two squabble over the smallest things."
"Have they ever broken up?" I asked, surprised.
"Are you kidding? Of course not. They can't live
without each other. They just yell at each other for
hours and then have really great..." He stopped
suddenly.
I frowned. "Really great what?"
Edward sighed "Well, really great makeup sex." he
said matter-of-factly. I blushed a little. Other
people's sex life could make me uncomfortable
rather easily.
"Jasper don't you even dare!" Rosalie shrieked. I
could only guess what was going on one floor
below. Alice's graceful laughter waltzed up the
stairs towards us. She locked herself in somewhere
down the hall.
Edward pulled me closer to him once again and
tucked my head between the pillows and his own.
His cheek pressed against my ear successfully
blocked out all the noise. I closed my eyes and
breathed in his delicious scent. He traced circles on
my back while we cuddled.
After a few minutes he moved his head to rest it on
the pillow next to mine. We were so close our
noses touched. I could no longer hear any yelling,
although Edward assured me the arguing was still
going on, just in a much lower volume after Esme's
last warning.
Edward stared into my eyes as he ran his fingers
over my face. He traced my forehead, my nose, my
mouth, my cheeks. "I'm really glad you're here
Bella. I like not having to sneak around every once
in a while."
"I really like it here too. I feel more at home at your
place than I do at Charlie's." I was being honest.
The Cullen residence had become a safe heaven
for me. It was a place where I could be with Edward
without anyone staring or checking up on us.
Furthermore, it was the only place where he could
be himself, and that was something I loved
watching.
Edward kissed the tip of my nose. "I cleared
another drawer for you in my closet." I smiled at
the gesture. As grown up as that sounded, I
couldn't bring myself to be freaked out by how fast
things progressed with us.
"I'll have to get some clothes from home to fill it,
then."
Edward rolled his eyes. "Yeah, like Alice would let
that happen. That drawer is already full. Apparently
she had a lot of fun while we were away."
I shook my head "You guys have to stop spoiling
me."
"Try telling her!" He chuckled, but all of a sudden
he stiffened. I frowned.
"What's wrong?"
"How about a picnic? You must be starving."
Edward lifted me in his arms and ran to the door.
"Actually I'm fine, thanks." I was so surprised I
didn't even have time to come up with an
appropriate response to his sudden actions.
As we were flying down the stairs, I heard a
deafening bang that made me jump out of my
socks. Edward just gripped me tighter and ran
faster.
"Edward what was that? Are we under attack?" I
shrieked.
"That," Edward smiled, "was Rose and Emmett
making up."
I asked no more.
Esme had practically thrown a basket full of food
and a blanket at us as Edward ran past her. I
giggled, I would have to get used to Rosalie and
Emmett if I was going to start living there soon.
Once we were considerably far from the banging
noise, Edward sat me down on the cool grass and
spread the blanket for us to lie on. I looked around.
We were in what could be considered as his back
yard. The forest was just a few feet away.
"Well, that was... interesting."
Edward snorted in that graceful way that only he
could muster. He was looking inside the picnic
basket. He smiled when he handed me a tuna fish
sandwich and a box of apple juice.
"Esme bought juice boxes for me?" I was touched, I
really was, only I suddenly felt like the baby of the
house, which I was, in more ways than one.
"Well she just thought they'd be practical for
situations like this." Edward crawled over to where
I was sitting. His cat-like movement left me
breathless.
"You mean for whenever Rosalie and Emmett want
to have sex?" I asked once I regained my ability to
breathe in.
"Not just that. Just for whenever we have to go to a
place where stores might not be available." I raised
an eyebrow. In these day and age, where exactly
would that be? He chuckled. "Yeah, she'd just been
waiting for an excuse to buy those things for
decades. She thinks they're cute."
I laughed and nibbled at my sandwich. I was
suddenly aware of the fact that I could see my
food, even though there were no lights on. I looked
up and discovered a very bright full moon directly
above us.
"Oh wow." I laid down on my back and stared.
"Look at that! How long had it been since we'd
seen stars?" Edward lifted me up gently so he
could put his arm under my neck. I used his chest
as a pillow while I continued to stare at the sky.
"So, what does the rest of your family do while
those two make up?"
I could've sworn I could hear Edward's smile when
he said "They are not usually that loud, Bella.
Today, Jasper and Alice ran off into the woods. Who
knows what they're doing. Carlisle isn't due back
from the hospital for a few more hours, and Esme
is ironing. She'll finish soon, and will probably go
visit Carlisle."
I snuggled closer to him and chuckled. I took a bite
of my food and closed my eyes.
"Hey Edward?" I hated ruining the perfect moment,
but his actions from earlier were bothering me.
"Yes?"
"Is something wrong? You've been acting really
weird today."
"Everything is fine, Bella. Drink your juice." He
handed me the little box with the straw already
hanging out. I took a sip
"You've never been a good liar with me. Am I in
danger?"
"Aren't you always?"
"You know what I mean. Did Alice see something
more?"
Edward sighed. I knew he'd given up when he
started to spill. "No, the exact opposite actually.
She can't see any vampires coming anywhere near
here any time soon."
"Well that's good news. Exactly what is bothering
you?"
"Well..." he sighed, "It's your dreams."
I turned on my side to face him "Excuse me?"
"Well I'm no expert! I haven't had one of those in
almost a century, but it can't be normal for you to
dream the exact same thing almost every night,
can it?"
I shrugged. "Well I'm not sure. Do you think I can
see something that Alice can't?"
"No, not exactly. Alice is almost never wrong about
these things. She can sense where people's
decisions will take them even before they know
themselves. You know her gift is even more
sensitive to vampires. If she says she sees nothing,
then there's probably nothing."
I frowned. "Well if you trust Alice's visions so much,
why are you worried about my dreams?"
He sighed again. "Well I'm afraid... I'm afraid you
haven't completely gotten over the whole James
incident. You repress so much fear I'm starting to
believe it's manifesting itself through your
subconscious."
I rolled my eyes and turned over to rest on top of
the loving creature next to me. "Oh Edward, I don't
repress fear! I just don't experience it. I feel totally
and completely safe with you. My subconscious
can't manifest something I don't feel."
He surrounded me with his arms. "Well I hope
you're right, because this is not the kind of thing
you can tell a therapist about without getting
yourself committed."
I chuckled and kissed his forehead. "You worry too
much."
"Yeah, I probably do." He sat up, with me still on
his lap, so I crossed my ankles behind his back,
holding him as close as I could.
As I stared into the woods, I thought I saw a pair of
electric blue dots, like frozen eyes. But when I
looked again, I found nothing but darkness. I rolled
my eyes at my paranoia. Edward started kissing
my neck and I lost myself in his caresses,
completely forgetting about those blue spots in an
instant.
Birthday Girl
As I stared into the woods, I thought I saw a pair of
electric blue dots, like frozen eyes. But when I
looked again, I found nothing but darkness. I rolled
my eyes at my paranoia. Edward started kissing
my neck and I lost myself in his caresses,
completely forgetting about those blue spots in an
instant.
"Rise and shine, birthday girl." Edward whispered
in my ear. I just had to smile. With my eyes still
closed, I puckered my lips up for a kiss. He
chuckled and pressed his cold lips to mine. I sighed
in contempt against his mouth.
"That was the perfect birthday present." It had
been a few weeks since that night in Edward's back
yard. Things were back to normal, or at least as
normal as they were ever going to get.
"Oh, that was only one of the many gifts I have for
you today."
"Oh really?" I raised my eyebrows. In a flash,
Edward had me on my back and was hovering over
me, his weight supported by his elbows.
"Really." He touched his lips to my neck and I
shivered. He slowly formed a line of kisses from my
jaw to the opening of his white shirt, which I wore
to bed almost every night. He undid the top button
and kissed my exposed skin, then did the same
thing with the second one, and the third.
"Edward." My ragged whisper startled even myself.
He looked up with a smile on his lips, but I could
see his eyes were bright with desire.
"Just a few more months." I told him.
"Yeah." He laid down next to me and took my
hand. "It's a good thing time flies when you're
having fun."
I giggled and turned on my side to face him.
"Bella?"
"Yeah?"
"You are eighteen now."
I smiled. "I know."
"Do you know what that means?"
"That I can now legally drink in Mexico?"
He gave me a crooked smile. "Well yes, but you
can also move in with me now."
I laughed softly. "It's too soon, we need to give
Charlie some time to get used to the idea. If we
move in together right now, without any warning,
I'm afraid he might shoot you!"
Edward growled playfully and pulled me on top of
him. "Let him."
I bit my lip and stared at nothing, lost in thought.
He rolled his eyes. "You're wondering if a bullet
would hurt me, aren't you?"
"Well not exactly. I was more like wondering if it
would make a dent."
Edward roared with quiet laughter. "You should
check under your pillow." He said between laughs,
"I think you might find something there for you."
I grinned and hurried to lift the pillow. Underneath,
I found a long blue box with a white ribbon.
"Edward, what's this?"
"That, is your first present."
I opened the beautiful box only to find an even
more beautiful chain inside. It was long and really
thin, made out of white gold. I stared at it in awe.
"Edward..." I began.
"It's long so you can wear it under your clothes all
the time. If I could have it my way, I would've given
you something huge, maybe with lots of diamonds.
But we have to be discrete."
I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him. "I
love discrete."
Edward laughed and sat up, with me on his lap. He
turned me around so he could put the necklace on
me, and then sighed. "As much as I'd love to keep
you here with me all morning, Charlie wants to
have breakfast with you and he's making it himself.
You might want to get downstairs fast, he just
sprinkled paprika on your french toast."
I groaned and rolled out of bed. Just as I was
heading out the door Edward stopped me with a
sudden kiss. "I'll be waiting for you downstairs. Try
not to be late, school might actually be fun today."
I glared at him, getting the feeling that he knew
something I didn't.
Breakfast with my father was an enjoyable
experience, apart from the actual breakfast, of
course. He gave new tires for the truck as a
birthday present. I've got to admit, I loved them.
He also gave me a t-shirt, which was two sizes too
big and a rather weird shade of pink. I gave him an
awkward hug in thanks before waltzing back to my
room to get ready.
My mother called right before I left for school. I
asked her how things were going with Phil and she
admitted they'd been making some progress.
They'd been going to a marriage counselor for a
few days and that seemed to be helping.
When Edward rang the doorbell I said goodbye to
my mother. She asked to speak to Charlie, which
used to be a really weird thing, but she'd been
doing it ever since I'd gotten back from Phoenix.
Edward said she wanted to check up on me and
make sure things weren't getting too intense with
my "hunky boyfriend" as she referred to him.
I handed Charlie the phone and ran to the door to
meet Edward. He was holding a bunch of white and
yellow freesias.
"Oh wow." I stared dumfounded at the eighteen
beautiful flowers in his even more beautiful arms.
"Happy birthday my love." He whispered in my ear
and kissed my cheek.
"Good morning Edward. Good God, those are some
fine specimens." Charlie, who was balancing the
phone between his shoulder and ear, gawked at
the gift. My mother must've called his attention,
because he then said, "Flowers, Renee. Freesias I
think. No I do not know how much he spent on
them! Well what do I care?"
I giggled and took the flowers from him. I was
unsure of what to do with them. "I think I'll put
them in water."
"No, don't." Edward took my hand and guided me
to the car.
"Edward! They'll die!" I looked down at them. They
were so beautiful.
"They're already dead Bella. Why don't you enjoy
them while their beauty lasts, instead of keeping
them in your room in a vase."
I raised an eyebrow. "You want me to carry
eighteen flowers around all day?"
"No, not all of them." He opened the door of his car
for me and took the eighteen beauties from my
hands. He chose two and placed the rest on the
back seat. He handed me a white one and a yellow
one. "Here, take those."
It struck me as weird, but I smiled and took those
two anyway. We rode to school in silence. When we
got there, Edward opened the door for me and
helped me out. "Let's get to class. We don't want
to be late." The way he said that made me feel like
something was definitely off. I hoped he hadn't
planned some weird surprise for me in homeroom,
but when we got there, everything looked normal.
With his arm draped around my shoulder we
walked to our desks. I was about to sit when Mike
pushed his way into the classroom. He didn't have
homeroom with us, which was why he startled me
when he ran all the way over to where I was
standing and threw his arms around me.
I stood there, stiff as a stick, while he hugged me.
"Happy birthday Bella! You didn't think I'd forget
did you?"
I gave Edward a sideway glance. He was fuming.
His eyes narrowed and I could see he was debating
between pulling me away or tearing Mike to
shreds. When he let out a low growl I patted Mike
on the back lightly and gently pushed him away.
"Thanks Mike! I thought no one new!"
"Are you kidding? Of course we know! We have a
surprise for you, we'll give it to you at lunch."
"She will be with me at lunch, Newton." Edward's
voice sounded so dangerous even I shuddered.
"Well, ahem, our thing will only take a minute." The
poor kid looked uncomfortably at my imposing
boyfriend.
Edward gave him a murderous stare, but said
nothing.
"Well, I better get to class." Mike turned around
and left without another word.
"I didn't think he'd actually come in." Edward
muttered under his breath. So that was why he'd
rushed me to class.
"He was just being nice." I smiled at him.
"Well I don't like it when other people touch you. In
fact, I don't really like it when people get too close
to you at all. Your smell mixes with theirs."
He pulled me close to him and whispered in my
ear. "Your smell is far too superior to be mixing
with theirs."
I smiled against his chest "Well aren't you the
overprotective boyfriend."
Edward pushed me away gently by the arms,
looking worried. "Does that bother you? I can tone
it down." I could tell it took a great deal of self-
control to even say that to me.
"No, it doesn't bother me." I was being honest.
"Well good then." He let me go and sat down on
the desk next to mine. Then he pushed it until it
was right next to the one I was sitting on.
"Mister Cullen, would you mind explaining to me
why you're invading Miss Swan's personal space
like that?" The teacher, who had just arrived, asked
him.
"She's feeling a little faint today Mrs. Evans. I'm
just trying to prevent an accident."
His voice was so smooth even the sixty-year-old
teacher couldn't resist him. She went on with her
class. I smiled and rested my head on his shoulder,
I could get used to that.
Lunch arrived soon enough. Edward walked behind
me, his arms around my waist. When we got to the
cafeteria, Mike, Jessica and the rest of my former
lunch table buddies were waiting for me with a
chocolate cake in front of them. I smiled at the
gesture and turned around to let Edward know that
I wanted to go over there for a moment.
He let me go without a word and was about to go
sit at our usual table when I took his hand. "Come
with me." I whispered so only he could hear.
"Newton will be pissed."
"I don't care."
He smiled and turned around to follow me.
Moments later I heard a shriek coming from the
end of the hall.
"Bella!" Alice called out. The whole room turned to
watch as the petite beauty, who most of them had
never seen speak, let alone run, gracefully made
her way across the room to throw her arms around
my neck.
"Happy Birthday!" She kissed both my cheeks and
hugged me again. "Let's hope this is the last one."
She whispered in my ear. I giggled.
"Oh, I got you a present!" She handed me a big
box, which I'd somehow not seen before. I frowned
at her.
"Oh Alice, you didn't have to get me anything!"
"Are you kidding? It's your birthday! Besides, you
know I love spoiling you."
I smiled and tore through the paper. Inside the box
I found a tote bag that said Louis Vuitton on the
side. "Oh Alice, you shouldn't have!"
"Yes Alice, you really shouldn't" Edward was
glaring at his sister. "What did I tell you about
being discrete?"
"Oh suck it up Edward. Kids here already know we
have money, they've seen Rosalie's car."
Edward muttered something so fast I was sure he
only wanted Alice to hear. She made a face that let
me know she was answering his mutterings in her
head. His eyes widened and he whispered, loud
enough for me to hear "Oh you wouldn't dare!"
"Guys." I warned. Eric was approaching us quickly.
Edward growled again and stood behind me,
placing an arm over my shoulder and past my
chest to rest just over my hips. It was clear he
didn't want Eric to hug me like Mike had.
Eric noticed Edward's protective stand and stayed
back. "Happy birthday, Bella! We have a cake for
you."
"Oh I love chocolate!" I smiled at him and walked
over to the table, pulling Edward behind me.
Mike looked less than pleased when he saw him.
Edward smirked. Everyone sang happy birthday to
me and I blew out the candles. The girls were
admiring my new present (I could hear awed
whispers of how much the bag could've cost and
how lucky I was to have the Cullens as friends) and
oohed over the flowers I still carried around. Mike
smiled at me "Hey, why don't you join us for lunch
today?"
"Sorry Newton, we have plans." Edward's smile was
smug.
"We do?" I frowned.
"Yes." Edward moved aside and pointed to a table
on the far end of the cafeteria. "We do."
I stared, my mouth wide. The table was covered
with a white tablecloth. It was set with crystal
glasses and porcelain plates. As we approached, I
could see the plates filled with lasagna and some
kind of salad.
"Edward, what happened to discrete?" I asked him
once we were standing next to the table.
"I am being discrete! Otherwise we'd have a band
and some decent wine." He poured me some grape
juice and placed the napkin on my lap.
I kissed his hand when he set my glass down. He
smiled at me and took the seat across from mine.
"Everyone is staring." I pointed out.
"Oh Bella, people have been staring at us since the
day we first sat together." He had a point there.
"Here, I have your next present."
"There's more? Edward! You've given me enough!"
I rolled my eyes at him.
He took my hands in his and whispered, "Nothing
will ever be enough, my Bella." He then handed me
a small velvet box.
My breath caught in my throat when I saw it.
"What's this?" I asked.
"Well, open it!"
I did. Inside, I found the pair of earrings that had
caused my mental breakdown back at the mall in
Phoenix.
"Oh my god Edward. I love these!"
"I know." He kissed my hand and handed me my
fork. "Now eat please, before it gets cold and all
my hours of cooking go to waste."
"You did this?" I was truly surprised.
"Yes. And I paid some random guy twenty bucks to
taste it, so it's probably good."
I chuckled and picked up my fork. It was turning
out to be one of the best birthdays ever.
The last class of the day was gym. We were doing
track, which in our case - with the heavy rain and
all – basically meant twenty laps around the gym.
Edward had a blast. I stumbled over my own feet at
least seven times. He was right next to me all
along of course, so he managed to somehow keep
me on my feet. During the last lap, my laces came
undone and the boy running behind us stepped on
them, which sent me flying in the air without my
shoe. Edward caught me before I hit the ground,
steadied me and then went back to retrieve the
lost item.
He was laughing loudly when he caught up with
me. He knelt down and lifted my leg so I could slide
my sneaker back on. "What's so funny?" I asked,
deeply embarrassed.
"The teacher seems to think it's a good thing
you're going out with me. According to her, with
me at your side, the mortality rate of the class just
went down considerably."
I scowled as he tied my laces. I would've done it
myself but I was still too worked up to even notice
Edward was doing it for me. "Yeah well, what does
she know?"
"Apparently you had quite a few incidents last
semester. She thinks it's a wonder Newton is still
alive. Your clumsiness seems to be a legend
around here."
The teacher whistled then, signaling the end of
class. I turned around to storm to the locker room
and promptly fell forward. Edward caught me once
more. It was apparently becoming a habit.
"You twisted your ankle didn't you?" He looked
upset.
"I'm fine. Put me down." He did. I tried to put some
weight on my foot but found it impossible, so
instead I started limping.
Edward rolled his eyes, scooped me up and walked
me to the locker room.
"Girls! I'm coming in! I have my eyes closed!" He
announced at the door and proceeded to walk me
to a bench. A couple of girls shrieked, but most of
them were too surprised to say anything.
He sat me down right in front of my locker and
walked outside. As he was leaving he called after
himself "Try not to kill yourself while you're alone.
Yell for me once you're decent."
I didn't even stop to wonder how he knew which
locker was mine. I just wobbled over to the
showers, figuring he had something else planned
for that afternoon and not wanting to smell the
way I did for the rest of the day.
Once I was done I made my way to the hall. There
was no way I was going to yell for him, the girls
were already looking at me funny. When I got
outside he was nowhere to be seen. That struck me
as odd, but I just decided to go wait for him on the
parking lot. Out of nowhere, a pair of strong arms
lifted me in the air and carried me back inside
before I could even get to the door.
"Edward! What is going on?"
"Come with me, we have to wait until everyone
leaves." He carried me to an empty classroom and
sat me down on the teacher's desk.
"Why can't we just go home?" I grumbled.
"Well, because Alice would kill me. She's going to
be pissed enough as it is."
"Why?"
"Because of your ankle."
I asked no more. It was obvious he wasn't planning
on giving me straightforward answers. He sat next
to me and rubbed my ankle while we waited. I've
got to admit, his cold touch on my sore muscles
felt great.
"Okay, I think the coast is clear!" He grinned after
a few minutes and lifted me in the air once again.
He let me down once we got to the door and
covered my eyes.
"Okay Bella. I have another gift for you."
I groaned. "Edward, this is getting a little out of
hand."
He shushed me. "Just wait. Ready?" His hands
dropped to my waist. "Happy birthday."
At first I didn't see what he was trying to show me,
then the huge red bow hit me like a ton of bricks. It
was attached to a car.
My jaw dropped to the floor. The silver beauty was
parked right in front of us. It looked incredible, not
to mention expensive.
"You got me a car!" I shrieked.
"Not just any car. That is a Rinspeed Porsche 911
with leather interiors and doors that swing
upward."
"Doors that swing... Edward this is ridiculous!" I
turned around to face him. He was beaming.
"Thank you."
"No, Edward! I can't take this! I can't accept a car!
Specially not one that looks like it costs more than
my house!"
He placed his hands on my back and pulled me
close. "Bella, in a couple of months you are going
to become one of us. Once that happens, not only
will you have a true need for speed, but you'll also
get your very own credit card and access to all of
our accounts. So you see, the car is really nothing
in comparison."
I shook my head stubbornly. "I still can't accept
that car. What the hell happened to discrete?"
He rolled his eyes in frustration. "Fine, look at it
this way then. The car is mine. What's mine is
yours. You can just hold on to the keys." He
dangled those in front of my face and I scowled.
"It's too much."
"We'll keep it at my place of course. No one will
ever know you have it. You don't even have to
drive it until we move in together if you don't want
to." I was still scowling so he sighed. "Please Bella.
Just let me give this to you. You're giving up so
much by being with me, why won't you let me give
you something in return?"
"First of all, I'm not giving up anything to be with
you. And even if I were, you don't need to give me
expensive gifts to show me that you love me! I
don't need all these things! All I wanted for my
birthday was you, and I have you, so I'm already
happy."
He pulled me closer and kissed my forehead. "Fine.
I'll keep it in our garage for now. But once you
move in, it's yours."
"We will cross that bridge when we get there." I
smiled at him.
"You are absurdly stubborn." He picked me up and
sat me down on the passenger seat.
"Hey! Don't I get to drive?"
"You refused my gift!" He ripped off the bow and
sat on the driver's seat, "you don't get to drive it
until you accept it."
"I should have, just to keep you from killing us both
with your driving." I gripped the edge of the seat as
he practically flew out the student parking lot.
"Well, maybe you should have." He gave me a
lopsided grin.
"So, where are we going?" I asked eagerly.
"Home." Edward didn't even take his eyes off the
road, which was strange for him.
"Oh really? And what are we going to do there?" I
could sense the car had not been the last of his
gifts, and since each one seemed to be more
extravagant than the next, I was a little worried
about the rest of the day.
"I'm dropping you off."
"What?" I shrieked. "You're leaving me?"
"Bella, if I could have it my way I'd glue you to my
hip. Alice, however, wants a few hours alone with
you." He glanced at me apologetically and kept
driving. I scowled the rest of the way home. Once
we got there, we found Alice sitting gracefully on
the front lawn, waiting patiently for me.
The first words out of her mouth were, "I told you
she wouldn't keep the car." Her handsome brother
growled in her direction.
"Oh Edward, betting against Alice? Really?" I
wrinkled my forehead and he scowled.
"You are keeping it, Bella. I'm just going to store it
for you."
Alice just giggled. Edward bent down to kiss me
gently and caressed my face with his knuckles. My
heart raced. I was sure even Alice would notice.
"Have her back on time." Edward commanded, his
eyes never leaving mine.
"Yeah, yeah. Come on Bells." She pulled me away
from my personal god and into Edward's Volvo,
which was parked right next to us.
"Where are we going?"
She turned on the car and grinned at me. "The
spa!"
For the next three hours I was tugged, wrapped,
soaked and poked. Alice joined me for the mud
bath and the algae wrap, but not for the massage
or the manicure. My hair got trimmed and curled,
my toes were painted dark red and someone who
looked like an expert did my makeup.
When they were done with me, my skin felt softer
than it'd ever had and I looked... different.
"Alice, I look pretty!" I stared in wonder at the girl
in the mirror. It looked as if I weren't wearing any
makeup, although I was sure I had some of it on,
except for my lips. Those were a light shade of red.
I also looked radiant, glowing.
Alice smirked and handed me the two flowers I was
still carrying around. "You are always pretty, Bella.
Right now you look breathtaking. And I'm not even
done yet."
She drove back to her house at top speed,
muttering under her breath something about being
behind schedule and Edward getting pissed. When
we got there, she practically shoved me into her
bathroom.
"I am going to assume you have a dress for me to
wear." I rolled my eyes.
"Of course." She simply answered, looking around
her closet.
"If there is some kind of September prom that I am
no aware of, heads are going to roll."
She chuckled "Ah! There it is!" Out of her closet
came the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. It
was deep red, the color of fresh blood. It was a
halter with a small cleavage. Alice turned it around
so I could see it from every angle. It was backless,
ending in a deep v below the waist.
When I tried it on I discovered that it fit perfectly,
except for the length.
"Alice, it's too long!" The door to the bathroom flew
open and she gasped.
"Oh my God, Bella."
"I know! I'm going to fall on my face!"
"No, Bella... you look incredible!" She twisted me
around so I could see myself in her full-length
mirror. I just had to agree with her. The dress
hugged every inexistent curve, making me look
like I actually had a figure. My pale back, creamy
from all the treatments I'd gotten that day,
contrasted amazingly with the deep red of the
dress.
"Here, you're going to need these." She handed me
a pair of pumps. I just stared at her.
"Are you mad?"
She frowned. "Probably, why?"
"I'll kill myself if I wear that!"
She shrugged. "Ideally, you'd be barefoot. You
always were, in my visions. However, I don't think
your feet would like that very much."
Her statement confused me. What did she mean
about me being in her visions? What was going to
happen that night? I knew Edward wouldn't change
me yet, we had that all planned out! Unless
something had happened, unless there'd been a
change.
Alice could see I was starting to get nervous and
she smiled. "Don't worry Bella! You won't be doing
much walking today. Edward did ask me to put this
on you though." She produced a soft red blindfold
from her back pocket.
I raised an eyebrow. "This is starting to look kinkier
by the second."
She just laughed and tied me up.
She carried me to the car, that much I knew for
sure. We drove for a little while before she parked.
I was going to remove the blindfold, but she ran to
my door and stopped me before I could even get
my hand up. She lifted me in her arms, cradled me
like a baby and took off. I could tell we were
running by the way the wind tousled my hair. The
soft fabric of my dress swished against the wind.
She stopped after a couple of minutes and set me
down on squishy ground. She held on to me while I
regained my bearings, and then let go. I had a
pretty good idea of where we were, but I still felt
self-conscious about removing the blindfold
without her consent.
"Alice, can I look now?" When I heard no answer I
started to squirm.
"Alice?" Again, silence. I slowly peeled the red satin
off my eyes. What I saw next made me gasp and
drop the blindfold on the ground.
I couldn't believe my eyes. Our meadow, which was
usually beautiful on it's own, now looked like
something right out of a fairy tale. Millions of
candles illuminated every inch of the otherwise
dark clearing. There was a path of freesia-scented
candles leading from the place where I was
standing to the very center of the meadow, where
a table and two chairs waited for my arrival.
The table was beautifully set over an off-white
tablecloth. Two glasses of wine were already
served.
"Wow, Alice! This is incredible!" I turned around to
face her, only to find myself alone. I figured Edward
would be around soon, so I made my way over to
the table, careful not to let my dress catch on fire
with one of the candles. My sore ankle and the tall
heel made it a little difficult to walk, but I got there
miraculously unscratched.
I lifted a glass of what I assumed to be red wine.
"That one is mine." His melodious voice stopped
me in my tracks. I could then smell the contents of
the glass. I set it back down quickly and glanced
around, looking for him.
He was standing in the shadows, just out of reach
of the light provided by the candles. "Please
forgive me for taking the liberty of filling my cup
with that. I'm just hoping this will be an occasion
we'll want to toast to."
He took a couple of steps towards the light and my
breath caught in my throat. He hardly ever wore
black, even though it looked spectacular on him.
That day he was sporting a black suit and a white
shirt, unbuttoned at the top. The color of his chest
was almost the same as the expensive clothing
that covered it, and it reflected the candlelight in a
way that made me shiver. I had never in my life
imagined something as beautiful as what my eyes
were staring at right then.
"Bella." My name rolled off his tongue like butter.
He'd stopped a few feet away from where I stood. I
was speechless, so he continued. "Tonight, I want
to ask you something. I know you are too young. I
know it's too soon. But I just really want to ask. I
just need to remind you first, we have literally all
the time in the world."
I could've sworn time slowed down as he closed
the distance between us, but I can certify it
completely stopped when he knelt down in front of
me. Out of nowhere, he produced a black velvet
box.
"I love you, in a way I never dreamed could be
possible. You are my life. I am yours forever.
Isabella, will you marry me?"
Fallen Angels
I could've sworn time slowed down as he closed
the distance between us, but I can certify it
completely stopped when he knelt down in front of
me. Out of nowhere, he produced a black velvet
box.
"I love you, in a way I never dreamed could be
possible. You are my life. I am yours forever.
Isabella, will you marry me?"
On the outside, I looked merely shocked. On the
inside, however, my mind was racing. For what
seemed like an eternity, every possible thought
crossed my mind; I was barely eighteen years old, I
had never really considered getting married, let
alone doing it so soon! And what were my parents
going to say? But then I also thought, I had never
even dreamed I'd feel for someone half the things I
felt for Edward. He was the one and only person I
would ever want for me. To be quite honest, I
never really considered saying no.
My answer left my lips before I was even done
thinking.
"Yes." I whispered softly.
Edward's eyes widened in surprise. He stood up,
placed his hands on my waist and leaned forward
to look me straight in the eyes. "Yes?" He asked
excitedly.
"Yes" I said a little louder.
He let out the unnecessary breath he'd been
holding and lifted me up in the air. I laughed softly
at his reaction and allowed him to twirl me around
a few times. He soon let go of me and leaned his
forehead against mine. His trembling hands
reached for the ring, which he then proceeded to
slide up my finger.
I hadn't even looked at the beautiful piece of
jewelry before then. It was made out of white gold
and had little diamonds all around, with a larger
one in the middle. It was by far, the most beautiful
engagement ring I had ever seen.
"Oh Edward." I stared at my hand, which now
sported the promise of our future together. He took
my face between his strong hands and pressed his
cold lips to mine, allowing me to part them slightly
but never deepening the kiss.
When I came up for air, he took my right hand and
led me over to the table. Edward handed me my
glass of red wine and took his own, which was full
of blood.
"Do you mind if we toast? I know the smell of my
glass must be making you queasy." He placed a
hand on my cheek, as if to check for any sign of
faintness. I was feeling faint, but not from the
blood.
"I don't mind." And to prove it, I clinked my glass
rather forcefully against his. A few drops of blood
made their way into my drink. I fought the familiar
wooziness that I usually felt just by looking at the
dark red liquid. Surprisingly, I found myself winning
against the lightheadedness.
Edward looked shocked. "Bella, what are you
doing?" I smiled at him warmly. "The whole
tradition of clinking glasses began when people
used to poison other people's drinks. The whole
point of it is for a few drops of your glass to slip
into mine so I can taste what you're tasting."
"In case you hadn't noticed, my glass is filled with
human blood."
I choked on my reply. I had not even entertained
the possibility of it being human. For a moment I
stared at my red wine. Then, deciding that blood
was soon going to become my sole energy source
anyway, I raised my glass.
"To us." I simply said before taking a long drink.
All I could taste was the rich, dry flavor of the wine.
Edward took a sip from his own glass, but still
stared at me in shock. I couldn't help making a
face after I swallowed.
"I knew you shouldn't have done that." In a flash,
Edward had me sitting down on one of the chairs,
probably afraid I'd faint on him.
"I couldn't even taste the blood. I'm just not much
of a drinker." The understatement of the century. I
had probably tasted alcohol only a handful of times
in my life.
He sighed and looked away from me. He seemed...
angry?
"Edward?" I frowned.
"Give me a moment." He took a few deep breaths
to calm himself down.
"What's wrong?" I sat very still, afraid I'd done
something to make him feel uncomfortable.
"You drank blood." He said between gritted teeth.
I couldn't help rolling my eyes. "It was barely a
drop, diluted on alcohol!"
"I know I just..." He ran a frustrated hand through
his hair. "I just thought I'd have more time to get
used to the idea."
I stood up and slowly walked over to him. I touched
his back carefully and tried to lighten the mood.
"It's not like I'd never had any, you know? I think I
drank a few mouthfuls when James smashed me
against the mirrors."
Edward did not find my comment amusing. He
growled but didn't move away from me. I took that
as a good sign and gently turned him around to
face me.
"I did that to show you that I really am okay with
this whole thing. I will gladly give up fish, chicken
and stake for an eternity of bloody meals if it
means dining with you."
Edward reached out for my face. His touch was
light as a feather, but it still made my heart flutter.
"You are insane, Bella."
"So, what else is new?" I winked at him. He let out
a small laugh and guided me back to my chair.
Then, he knelt down in front of me once more and
took my hand. "We are engaged." He whispered so
quietly I wasn't sure he was talking to me.
"I know." I smiled and kissed him again. "Can I ask
you something?"
"Of course."
"Where did you get the blood?"
He gave me one of his amazing crooked smiles "It
took you longer than I expected."
"What?"
"That question."
"Oh. Well what's the answer?" I wasn't scared or
disgusted, just curious.
"We have a stash of it at home to celebrate on
special occasions such as this. Carlisle brings it
home from the hospital whenever they get some
that can't be used."
"Oh." It was a funny thing to think about. I was
secretly glad I'd never ran into the fridge where
they probably kept it. That would've been a shock.
Edward sat across from me and loaded my plate
with stake and vegetables.
"I don't know if I can eat. I'm too excited." I said
honestly.
He laughed wholeheartedly and touched my hand.
"Have whatever you like."
I picked up my fork and speared a broccoli. "So,
what do we do now? Do we set a date?"
Edward laughed again. "I think it might be a little
too soon for that. We should probably wait a few
years, at least until you're comfortable and used to
your future vampire self. Besides, we don't want
your eyes to look red in the wedding pictures do
we?"
That last statement confused me, but I said
nothing. Instead I shoved the vegetable into my
mouth and sighed in delight. "This is wonderful. Did
you cook all these?"
He smiled "I wish. I ordered it from a good
restaurant in Port Angeles."
I took another bite and looked down at my ring.
"What is Charlie going to say when he sees this?"
"Well I was thinking, we probably shouldn't tell him
yet. It will only make him nervous if you get
engaged while you're still in high school."
I looked up at Edward, disappointment written all
across my face. "You mean I have to take it off?"
"Well not exactly, that's what the chain I gave you
earlier is for." He reached across the table and
lifted the delicate, long chain from under my dress.
He undid it, took the ring from my finger and
placed it inside the chain.
The engagement ring rested between my breasts.
If I wore it under my clothes, no one would ever
notice.
"Clever." I smiled.
"Why, thank you." He returned the gesture and slid
the ring out of the chain. "I'd like you to wear it on
your finger when we're alone. I love the way it
looks on you."
I stared down at my hand, with the ring back in
place, and laced my fingers with his pale ones. "So
do I." I declared contentedly.
After dinner, he cradled me in his arms and ran us
to his car. I stared at him while he drove us out of
the woods. The full moon reflected on his perfect
features in such an amazing way he was leaving
me literally breathless. That's why it took me a few
minutes to realize we weren't diving to Charlie's.
"We're staying at your place tonight?" I frowned.
"Yes. I want us -well you- to sleep in our bed
tonight. Is that a problem?"
"No. But isn't Charlie expecting me back?"
Edward smiled at me and ruffled my hair. "Alice
and Jasper went over to your place a few hours ago
to get permission."
I frowned again. "Jasper? Why him?"
"Well according to Alice, you father wouldn't have
let you sleep over at our place tonight unless
Jasper were there to sooth his mind."
I was confused. "Why? He's never said no before."
Edward was smiling before he even answered.
"Well that's because he trusts Carlisle and Esme.
But today, he thinks they might make an exception
and let you sleep in my room, seeing as how you're
turning eighteen and don't really need parental
supervision anymore. Besides, my parents are not
really that old. Or so he thinks."
I rested back on the leather seat, lost in thought.
"No one in your house has ever objected to you
sleeping with a seventeen year old." I was just
thinking out loud, but Edward laughed and
answered. "Well, I am over a hundred years old,
Bella. I think I can make my own decisions and
take care of myself. Besides, it's not like we can
actually do anything yet."
I smiled up at him. "Yet being the key word in that
statement."
He smiled, but looked straight at the road.
"Exactly."
That night we had the house to ourselves. I fell
asleep under the white silk sheets with Edward's
hands around me while staring at my ring.
Pretending nothing monumental had happened the
next day at school turned out to be a bit of a
challenge, considering I couldn't wipe the idiotic
grin off my face.
It got easier with time. I got into the routine of
being the first or last one to change for gym so no
one would see my chain and wearing loose clothes
to prevent any lumps. Not that that would've been
difficult if Alice hadn't insisted on buying an
unnecessary amount of designer clothes for me. It
took a great deal of effort to convince her of letting
me wear my same old t-shirts to school.
The rest of September went by in a blur. By the
end of October I started toying with the idea of
telling Charlie about me moving in with Edward in
December. I figured it was probably best to tell him
at least a month before it happened, so he'd have
time to get used to the idea.
Edward, Alice and I started having almost daily
meetings to test out different plans. It took a
considerable amount of time deciding whether to
tell him about the engagement or just about the
move. In the end, Alice though that it'd be best if I
told him only about the living arrangements. She
also commented that things would go over better if
I told him by myself.
That started up a whole new argument with
Edward. He felt it would be impolite to not be there
when I told Charlie. The old fashioned vampire
refused to let me handle the whole burden of
telling my father on my own.
After many, many days of endless bickering
Edward gave in, with one condition. He made me
promise that I'd go with him to the Halloween
dance. He claimed he wanted me to have that last
human experience. I only agreed after Alice
informed me that the night of the dance would be
the best time to tell Charlie, although I'll never
know if she was telling the truth or if she just
wanted to dress me up.
The night of the dance I sat in my room, nervously
waiting for Edward. Earlier that day Alice had
curled my hair and painted my face. The makeup
was very neutral and light, it made my pale face
looked radiant and beautiful.
When she handed me the long, sleeveless, white
dress I frowned. "What am I supposed to be?"
"An angel, per Edward's request." I protested no
more.
The only problem was she'd given me no wings,
just a very sophisticated and expensive looking
halo. I sat in front of my mirror, applying a last
touch of lip-gloss, and wondered if that was what
Edward wanted. An angel with no wings, it seemed
oddly appropriate. Even though I was going to have
a hard time explaining my costume to everyone.
The doorbell rang then. I grabbed my high heels
and ran barefoot down the stairs, holding the hem
of my dress up. When I opened the door I was so
stunned I dropped the shoes.
Beneath the porch light stood the perfect image of
a dark angel. His black suit and black shirt
contrasted beautifully with his pale skin. His eyes
were almost black, a sure sign of his unwillingness
to leave me alone, even to go feed. His head hung
low, and he looked up at me from beneath his long
lashes. To top it all off, he was wearing the most
elaborated wings I had ever seen. Real black
feathers made up the majestic ornament,
completing the incredible costume.
I quivered on the spot.
"Are you ready to go, my angel?" He hadn't lifted
his chin; his stare still came from beneath his
incredible lashes. I was so bedazzled by him, I
crumbled.
His hands caught me before I hit the ground. He
steadied me by pressing my body firmly to his. His
deep laugh only made my heart race faster.
"You're going to kill me one of these days." I
gasped breathlessly.
"Well, that is the plan. Isn't it?" He joked.
"Oh my, that is one stunning costume Edward."
Charlie appeared behind us out of nowhere.
"Thank you, sir." He pushed me gently away from
his body, but didn't let go completely.
"What are you supposed to be, Bells? A bride?"
My hand automatically flew to my chest. I looked
down quickly to check if the ring was still
concealed under the dress. The plunging neckline
of it made it impossible for me to hide the chain,
but the ring remained thankfully out of sight.
"She's an angel too. I have her wings in the car."
Edward answered for me.
"Oh well, have fun tonight! Don't come home too
late."
"I'll bring her right back after the dance." Edward
was already walking me down the porch steps.
"I'll wait up." I couldn't tell if that was a warning or
just a comment. I shrieked in surprise when
Edward bent down and lifted me in his arms. So
was Charlie, I could tell from his sharp intake of
breath.
"She's not wearing her shoes." Edward explained
apologetically.
"Oh!" My father saw the high heels that I'd dropped
by the door and handed them to me. "Put those on
in the car Bella." That was definitely a warning.
"I will, dad."
Once we were a few blocks away from the house, I
looked down at the death traps Alice called
footwear and scowled.
"What's wrong?" I should've known Edward would
be staring at me.
"I don't like high heels."
"Then don't wear them."
In a move too fast for me to catch, Edward had
taken off his black shoes and socks and was
throwing them to the back seat. The car didn't
even slow down.
"Angels shouldn't wear shoes anyway." He winked
at me and parked the car. We were at the school
already.
When the Volvo stopped he undid my seat belt.
"Wait there." He instructed and popped the trunk
open. He produced a magnificent pair of white
wings, not unlike his own.
"How do I wear those?" I frowned.
"Here, turn around." He helped me out of the car
and stood me up on the car matt, which he'd
placed right beside the door. I hadn't even seen
him do it.
His hands caressed my arms and back while he
attached the wings miraculously to the back of my
dress. It was a corset, which probably helped
support the weight, but I was still amazed at how
the wings were held up without any straps on my
shoulders.
He read my confused look well. "What? You've
never heard of the term -light as a feather-?" When
I raised my eyebrows he laughed. "Alice spent
quite a bit of time making these so you'd be able to
wear them with the strapless dress."
I asked no more. He noticed I was getting cold, so
he cuddled me in his arms and carried me over to
the gym.
He pushed the doors open with his foot and walked
us in. At that exact moment, someone drove up to
the building. The headlights of the car illuminated
us from behind. It must have been a spectacular
entrance, because everyone at the party turned
around to stare at us.
I could understand why the sight would marvel
anyone. A dark angel, barefoot and gorgeous,
carrying a white angel surrounded by light. It was
all very symbolic.
The gym doors closed behind us and ever-so-slowly
people returned to their previous conversations. I
briefly noticed Mike and Jessica sitting across the
room. She continued whatever she'd been saying
before we walked in, but it seemed to take an
incredible amount of effort from Mike's part to turn
back to her.
Edward took me right to the center of the dance
floor before letting me down. And even then, my
feet never touched the ground. He maneuvered
around the wings with ease and held me up by my
waist. It was only after he started dancing that I
managed to take a look around the room. I saw
Alice -fittingly dressed as Tinkerbell- dancing with
Jasper, who looked very calm and collected, but I
could tell he felt just a tad uncomfortable in his
green, Peter Pan tights. Rosalie was dressed in a
huge pink gown. Emmet wore a suit.
"Hey, what are you two supposed to be?" I asked
Emmett when we waltzed by them.
"I'm Barbie." I was incredibly shocked when Rosalie
answered my question.
"I guess that makes you Ken." I smiled at her
partner's spray-painted blonde hair.
"I begged her to let me be the new surfer dude,
he's way cooler. But she refused."
Rosalie just shrugged. "Barbie and Ken should've
been together forever. What ever happened to true
love?"
"It's right here." Edward smiled at me and kissed
my forehead. Rosalie seemed to remember her
hate for me then. She scowled and led Emmett to
the other side of the dance floor.
After an hour of what could loosely be considered
dancing, I eyed the punch table with desire.
Edward noticed and guided me over to the
refreshments. I sat on a bench, happily sipping
away my punch, when the wind blew the gym
doors open. I was so startled by the noise, I
dropped the rest of the drink -which thankfully
wasn't much- on my white, satin dress.
"Oh my God!" I jumped up and promptly tripped on
the fabric that, thanks to my barefoot status,
pooled at my feet.
Edward sat me back down on the bench. "Stay
here, I'll go get some napkins."
I stared remorsefully at the four red drops. I was so
engrossed by my clumsiness that I didn't pay
attention to the person who sat down next to me
not a second later.
"Wow, that was fast Edward. Even for your va..." I
stopped cold in my tracks when I realized that the
man sitting next to me was not my boyfriend.
Jacob, wearing a black suit that looked just a little
too small for him, smiled down at me. "Hi Bella!"
"Jacob! Hi! Wow, it's been a long time!" I smiled
sincerely at him.
"Too long." He was even taller than the last time I'd
seen him. Somehow, he'd grown into that tallness
and now looked all grown up. His long hair was, as
always, tied back in a slick ponytail. I frowned
when I noticed his skin looked a lot paler.
"What are you dressed as?" I asked curiously.
"A vampire."
If I'd had any punch left, I would've surely choked
on it.
"Oh wow. Where are your fangs?" I tried to cover
my surprise.
"Who ever told you that vampires have fangs?" He
winked at me. I was so stunned by his reply my
palms started to sweat. I stared stupidly at him.
"Oh I'm just kidding." He reached into his coat
pocked and produced a pair of white, plastic fangs.
I let out a very nervous laugh and looked around
the crowd for Edward.
"Are you okay? You look a little... tense." Jacob
frowned.
"I'm fine. It's just that these stains are going to set
unless..." At that exact moment, Edward appeared
by my side with napkins and club soda.
"Here you go sweetie. Hello Jacob."
"Edward." Jacob nodded in his direction. For some
reason, he seemed to be a lot less uneasy around
my boyfriend.
"Well, I think I'll go look for my date." Jacob winked
at me again, said goodbye and left. Edward
growled.
"What the hell was that?" I wondered out loud.
"That was a little pubescent rebellion and a lot of
new found attitude." Edward growled again.
"It seemed like a lot more than that. He said..."
"I know what he said, I heard. You handled it well,
by the way." I couldn't tell if that had been a
compliment or just good old sarcasm.
"But how did he know about the fangs?"
"He didn't, he was just teasing you. It was a lucky
guess."
"But the way he looked at you. He used to be
intimidated by your mere presence!"
"Apparently, with adolescence comes invincibility."
I sighed. "I want to leave."
"Good." Edward lifted me in the air. "So do I."
I rested my head on his shoulder while he carried
me back to the car.
I cleaned my dress methodically on the drive back
home. My talk with Jacob had been stressful, but
the real kicker of the night was yet to come.
Edward wrapped a white shawl around my
shivering shoulders before carrying me to the door.
"I'll be waiting in your room." He whispered. I
kissed him for support and nodded before going
inside to tell my father the "good news".
Charlie was waiting for me on the couch, watching
TV.
"Hi dad." I greeted him.
"Oh hi Bells! Nice wings."
"Thanks." I'd forgotten to tell Edward to take them
off. There was no way I'd be able to do it myself
and I'd waste too much time in running upstairs to
change, so I sat down next to my dad -wings and
all- to talk to him. I just hoped the costume
wouldn't have any influence on his reaction.
"Dad, I have to talk to you about something."
I must have sounded serious, because he
immediately turned off the television.
"What's up?" I could hear the weariness in his
voice. He had reason to behave like that. After all,
any kind of real talk we'd ever had ended with me
leaving him for some reason. That night would be
no exception.
"Well, you know how I turned eighteen last
month?"
"I remember." His eyes narrowed. I'd prepared this
whole speech, but at that moment my mind went
blank.
"Well, Edward and I have been talking and..." I
decided to get it over with quickly, just like ripping
off a band-aid, "we've decided to move in
together."
Charlie sighed. "Bella, I know you really like him
and all but why don't you two try living in different
dorms for a while? Even if it is at the same college.
Don't you want to live on your own? Even if it's just
for the first semester?"
It took me a few seconds to understand what he
was talking about. "No dad, we're not waiting for
college. We're moving in together next month."
My father stared at me as if I'd grown a horn.
"Isabella, don't be ridiculous."
I sighed. "I'm going to get a job. He has a little
money saved up to get us started. We'll probably
live close to the Cullens, Edward prefers it that way
and so do I."
Charlie was shaking his head. "I won't let you do
this Bella."
I pushed my curled hair away from my face so he
could see my eyes clearly when I said, "I'm not
asking for your permission, Dad."
Different emotions crossed his face almost at once.
First, anger at my rudeness, then despair and
helplessness and finally, resignation. I could see
he'd realized there was nothing he could really do
to stop me if that was what I wanted to do.
"Bella, please think this through."
"I have, dad. I've been thinking about it for a very
long time. This is what I really want."
He ran a hand through his tousled hair and
groaned. "Renee is going to kill me. She warned
me this might happen. I thought she was being
ridiculous."
I couldn't tell if he was talking to me or not, but I
answered just in case. "I'll call her in the morning
to let her know."
When he looked at me again, his eyes were sad. I
wish there had been something I could've done to
prevent that, but I knew there was no other way of
doing things.
"When exactly are you moving out?" He sounded
as if he were waiting to wake up from an awful
nightmare.
"As soon as the winter break begins."
"What are you going to tell the kids in school?"
His question caught me off-guard. "Nothing,
probably."
"Why? Are you ashamed? You shouldn't do things
that make you feel ashamed."
"I am not ashamed, dad. I just think it's easier to
keep from people the things that they might not
understand."
He sighed again "Will you at least promise me
something?"
"What?" I asked wearily.
"Promise me you'll think about this some more." I
could hear the defeat in his voice.
"I promise, but I don't think I'll change my mind."
He stood up and walked over to the stairs, but
stopped before climbing up. With his back to me,
he whispered, "I know."
I sat on the couch in my white dress and wings,
and silently watched as he walked upstairs with his
head down.
I couldn't stop the few tears that fell on my dress
as I sat on my bed.
"There is something very wrong with this picture."
Edward's voice startled me, but I recovered
quickly.
"What?" I didn't lift my face to meet his gaze. His
fingers gently pulled my chin up so he could look at
me properly.
"Angels shouldn't cry." He kissed away the salty
tracks and sat down next to me. "Bella, if you're
having second thoughts..."
"I'm not." I cut him off, "I just hate seeing my
father so sad."
"He'll be okay." Edward kissed the top of my head
and pulled me to him. "He knows I love you, and he
knows I'll always take care of you."
I smiled gently at him and took in his appearance
for the first time since he'd appeared in my room.
He was still wearing the black suit and he was still
barefoot, but his wings were gone.
"Let me help you out of these things." It took him
less than five seconds to free me from the
featherly contraption. I sat very still while he
worked.
"Hey," he kissed my eyelids and stood up, "I want
to show you something."
He offered me his hand, which I took. Then he
guided me over to the window and wrapped my
discarded shawl around my shoulders once more.
When he opened the window I frowned, but I just
had to gasp when he took me in his arms and
climbed out.
I closed my eyes and grabbed on to his neck for
dear life. I could feel his gentle chuckle at my
actions but soon, way sooner than I expected, he
instructed me to open my eyes. We were on the
roof.
I frowned. "What did you want to show me?"
Edward sat down and pulled me into his lap. His
cold arms surrounded me and stroked my satin-
clad stomach. Blood boiled and raced through me,
as it always did when he caressed me like that. In
one quick move, he took the ring out of it's chain
and placed it on my finger.
Even though I was quite comfortable, I still couldn't
see what he wanted to show me. He took my chin
in his hand and tilted it up.
I gasped when my eyes fell upon the magnificent
full moon, surrounded by shining stars. "Oh wow."
Was all I could manage to say.
Edward pulled me closer and whispered in my ear,
referring to my talk with my father, "We are one
step closer to eternity."
I rested my head on his shoulder and looked up at
the silver moon. At that moment, eternity felt way
more than close.
Foreplay
Edward pulled me closer and whispered in my ear,
referring to my talk with my father, "We are one
step closer to eternity."
I rested my head on his shoulder and looked up at
the silver moon. At that moment, eternity felt way
more than close.
That night I had the awful nightmare again, but
Edward was right there to make me feel better. It
took me a long time to fall back to sleep after it,
though. I should've gotten used to the dream by
then, but for some reason it still chilled me to the
bone and flooded me with panic every time.
The next morning was, thankfully, a Saturday. I
yawned and stretched on my bed before glancing
sleepily out the window. The sky had stayed as
clear as it'd been the night before, and little rays of
light were already lighting up my bedroom.
When I turned around to face Edward, I realized he
wasn't in bed with me. I frowned and looked
around the room.
"I'm right here." His voice came from underneath
my bed. I was so startled I rolled to the side, got
myself all tangled up in the sheets, and fell.
Edward, who had just rolled out from under my
bed, caught me by the waist just inches away from
his face.
As he held me suspended in midair, our noses
almost touching, I frowned. "What were you doing
under my bed?"
He raised his eyebrows. "Honestly?"
I nodded. He folded his arms, letting my body fall
gently on top of his. He reached under the bed and
pulled out a pair of jeans.
"You lost these two weeks ago." He laughed at my
stunned face.
"You were picking up after me?" I could feel the
deep blush rising.
"Not really. I just saw you kick those under there a
long time ago and I wondered how long it would
take you to get them out. You were looking for
them yesterday, but couldn't seem to remember
where you'd left them."
"Well why didn't you tell me yesterday?" I sat up,
still tangled in the sheets.
"Because you look cute when you're frustrated." He
folded his arms behind his head, still lying on the
floor, and smiled teasingly.
I scowled and stood up. I'd gotten a little better at
picking up after myself ever since I'd stopped
sleeping alone; apparently I'd have to work harder.
I spun around to storm to the bathroom but my
feet got all twisted in the bed sheets. I flew
forward, hands outstretched to catch my fall.
Edward grabbed me by the waist and pulled me
back before I could smash my face against the
window, but even he wasn't fast enough to keep
me from grabbing on to the windowsill.
"Ouch!" I cringed and cradled my hand. "What?"
Edward asked in alarm.
"A splinter! A splinter in my finger!" He sat me
down on his lap and took my hand in both of his.
Sure enough, a huge wooden thing had made its
way into my thumb and it was way too close to my
nail. He tried to use his hands to get it out, but the
darn thing was too far in.
When I saw the splinter sticking out of my finger I
started feeling faint. "Oh God." I closed my eyes to
keep my head from spinning.
"Bella?" Edward frowned.
"Foreign bodies inside my own make me dizzy." I
mumbled. Edward sighed, "I need something sharp
to pull it out with."
"It hurts!" Everything around me started to swim.
My eyes must have glazed over, because he
immediately shook me, alarmed. "Bella? Honey,
stay with me."
"Get it out." I said between gritted teeth.
He ran a frustrated hand through his hair and
sighed. "Okay, Bella? Look at me! Bella! Do not
move an inch. Do you hear me? Not an inch!" I
somehow managed to nod.
He laid me down on the bed and knelt on the floor
next to me. He held my thumb firmly and slowly
lowered his mouth to it. I cringed as he took the
piece of wood between his sharp teeth and pulled. I
felt the splinter moving slowly out of my body.
Once it was over, I looked up.
Edward still held my hand in his. He was staring at
it. "Edward? Is everything okay?"
"Yes," he said softly, "you're okay." I looked down
at my finger. A tiny drop of blood was slowly
forming on it. Edward wiped it clean with his hand,
and then stared down at his blood-smeared thumb.
In a movement so fast I almost didn't catch, he
licked his finger clean.
His eyes closed and he gasped, as if he'd just
tasted a little piece of heaven. His whole body
tensed up and he sat, still as a stone, on the floor. I
slowly crawled away from him and his eyes -still
wild with hunger- snapped open regretfully.
"I'm sorry Bella. I didn't mean to scare you." His
jaw was so tense, he could barely get the words
out.
"You didn't. I'm just trying to make things easier for
you. I'll even hide my finger." I sat on my hand and
he smiled gratefully at me.
I stared at him thoughtfully for a moment before
saying, "Or I can not hide it, if you'd like."
He frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Well, I mean you can have some of my blood if
you want it."
Edward growled so loudly he scared me. "Isabella,
that is absurd! I will not use you as my personal
flask! And not just because of you. It's hard enough
resisting as it is! I shouldn't have tasted that drop.
Now get that finger away from me before I eat you
whole."
He sounded so mad I actually snapped my hand
back and sat on it again. Edward clenched his jaw
and closed his eyes. The sunlight that filtered
through my closed window bounced off his skin,
making him look like an angel in pain.
"I can leave if you want." My voice was barely
above a whisper.
"No, please. Just give me a moment. I can manage
this."
I sat perfectly still and waited while his body slowly
relaxed.
"I'm sorry. Please don't be mad at me." I finally
whispered after minutes of stressful silence.
"I'm not mad at you, Bella. I'm angry with myself.
That was incredibly stupid of me. Using my teeth,
what was I thinking? I could've... And tasting..."
I slowly moved closer to him and tentatively sat on
his lap. He embraced me, so I relaxed against him.
"Is it really that bad?" I asked in a small voice.
"Think of it this way. If you were alone, in the
middle of the desert, under the baking sun, literally
dying of thirst, and all of a sudden you found an
oasis but were forbidden to drink the water..." He
let his thoughts hanging for a moment while he
concentrated hard on something. When he
continued, he did so in such a small voice I was
almost sure he was talking to himself. "How crazy
it would make you, if you could have only a tiny
drop..."
I felt an incredible need to hold him close, to pull
his body against mine and kiss away his worried
frown. But I had to be careful, I had to give him
some space.
Edward sighed and kissed my hair. "You should go
downstairs and have some breakfast. Charlie left
really early today, but he left you a note saying he
won't be home for dinner tonight and asking you to
wait until he comes back to call your mother with
our news."
The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful.
That evening, Edward and I sat around my kitchen
table doing homework for a couple of hours. He, of
course, finished his in record time. I, however, had
to use a calculator for my math problems, which
meant it took me at least half an hour longer to get
through my homework.
Edward heated up some leftovers for me while I
struggled with my last equation. Math was one of
my best subjects, but I kept making mistakes while
punching the numbers into the calculator.
He grabbed the hot plate from the microwave and
placed it in front of me. I noticed his eyes looked
intense, as if he were concentrating on something.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Charlie is a few blocks away. He called Carlisle
today."
I dropped my fork in surprise. "He did? What for?"
"Well, from what I can tell, Charlie wanted to see if
Carlisle was aware of our plans. He wanted to see if
my father could talk me out of it."
"And what did Carlisle say?" I rushed my words. My
dad would probably walk through the door any
second.
"He told your dad that we'd talked to him already,
and that we seemed pretty determined. He also
pointed out that we didn't need their permission to
do anything and casually mentioned that I have
enough resources to support us both for a lifetime.
He told Charlie that he'd rather show some
support, because if he didn't we'd probably just run
off together, and that he was going to offer us the
little cabin behind our house so he could keep an
eye on us."
I raised an eyebrow. "There's a little cabin behind
your house?"
Edward smiled. "No."
"How did Charlie take Carlisle's reply?" The answer
to my question never came. In that exact moment
the front door burst open. I turned around in time
to see Charlie shaking off the rain. I glanced back
to where Edward had been standing less than a
second before. I found myself staring at an empty
kitchen.
"Hi dad!" I called out.
"Hello Bella. Did you get my note?" Charlie hung
his raincoat and took off his boots on the way to
the kitchen.
"Yes, I haven't called mom."
"Well, why don't you do that while I get out of
these soaking clothes?"
I nodded obediently and dialed my mother's
number. Charlie was already at the top of the stairs
when she answered.
"Hello?" Her breezy voice made me feel a pang of
longing for her.
"Mom? Hi!"
"Oh hi sweetie! How are you?"
I sat down on a chair and threw my head back. I
could feel a headache coming. "I'm great mom.
Better than great actually."
There was a long pause on the other side of the
line before my mother let out a strained "Really?" I
knew she could predict the general direction our
conversation was going to take.
"Yes, really. As a matter of fact, I'm calling to tell
you something really exciting!"
"Isabella Swan I swear! If you eloped..."
"No mom! I did not elope! And I'm not pregnant
either" I could almost hear the relief when she
sighed. "I'm just moving in with Edward next
month."
She was silent for so long I soon feared she'd
passed out. "Mom?" I asked tentatively.
"You're... moving in with your boyfriend?" It
must've taken her a superhuman amount of effort
not to yell hysterically.
"Yes." I answered simply. After another enormous
pause, she sighed. "Are you sure that's what you
want to do Bella? What about college? What
about... I don't know, teen age!"
"Mom, I've thought the whole thing through. This is
what I want. It's what I need to be really happy."
She exhaled loudly before saying in a defeated
voice. "Well honey, I hope you know what you're
doing. If moving in with that hunk boyfriend of
yours is going to make you happy, then I'm happy."
I rubbed the back of my neck to release some of
the stress that had accumulated there during the
past couple of days and smiled. "Thank you, mom."
"You're welcome sweetie. Now, could you put
Charlie on the phone for a sec?"
The stress hit me again like a ton of bricks. "Oh
come on mom! He has nothing to do with this!
Don't go off on him!"
"I just want to talk to him honey! I haven't checked
in with him in a while!" She was lying, of course,
but I knew she would end up yelling at Charlie
whether I wanted to or not, so I just called out.
"Dad! Mom wants to talk to you!"
He could've answered from the phone in his room,
but instead, he dragged his feet all the way to the
kitchen and took the cordless from me. "Finish your
dinner, Bella." He instructed before going upstairs
to his room and locking his door.
I was too upset to eat, so instead I walked over to
the dark living room. I sat alone on the couch and
whispered into the empty darkness, "I want to
know what he's saying."
Edward's soft voice came from the far left corner of
the room. "What did you expect me to do, Renee?
She's eighteen, she can do whatever she wants
now... And how am I supposed to do that?... Cut
her off? When was the last time you gave her any
spending money? She can get a job, she's in a
public school... Rent will not be a problem for them,
his father offered to help them. Plus, from what I
can see, he's loaded... We can not stop her, Renee.
If this is what she wants to do, then all we can do is
give her our support. If we go against her, we will
lose her forever. I do not doubt she'll run away with
this boy if we forbid her to see him. After all, she IS
your daughter." Edward's voice had turned into a
whisper as the conversation went on. When he said
that last part, he sat down next to me on the couch
and opened his arms for me to lean against him.
"I feel like a ten year old going through a divorce." I
rolled my eyes, "except this really is my fault."
"Well..." Edward ruffled my hair in a tender
gesture. "Yeah, yes it is your fault."
I stared up at him with wide eyes. I had not been
expecting that answer from him. "Excuse me?"
"What? You expected me to disagree? You're the
one begging me to turn you!" He smiled and
brushed his lips against my ear, making me shiver
and forget for a moment about our little argument.
"Oh, like you don't want to change me."
Edward's face changed from playful to serious in
two seconds flat. He took my face between his
hands and stared into my eyes. "Unfortunately,
there is nothing I want more in this world than to
spend forever with you."
I frowned "Unfortunately?" I sounded more than a
little hurt.
Edward leaned closer to my face and whispered
against my lips "Yes, unfortunately for you."
I sort of understood what he meant, but his breath
was driving me so crazy I couldn't even thing about
a decent comeback. Instead, I closed my eyes and
leaned in for a kiss only to find my lips connecting
with thin air.
That was when I heard Charlie, warily walking
down the stairs.
"Bella? What are you doing in the living room?"
"I was... thinking."
"Oh." I expected him to ask me about that, but he
just said. "Did you finish your dinner?"
"I'm not very hungry." I answered truthfully.
"Well, then you should go to bed. It's getting late."
Even thought it was barely ten, the tone of his
voice left no room for arguments. I got up and
started walking to the kitchen.
"Where are you going?" Charlie asked.
"To clean the dishes. The kitchen is a mess..."
"Leave it. I'll do it myself. It's my turn to do the
dishes anyway."
I nodded, went upstairs and closed my bedroom
door behind me.
"He's upset." I sighed.
"Well, his little encounter with your mother's wrath
was not a pleasant one." Edward's voice came from
my bed, so I sat down next to him in the dark.
"I hate doing this to them." I whispered.
Edward sat, cross-legged, next to me and took my
hand. "I'm sorry."
I turned around to tell him it wasn't his fault when I
caught a glimpse of him. The light from the moon
coming through my window bounced off his bare,
stone hard chest. He was wearing only his slacks.
My eyes roamed his body all the way down to his
feet. Funny, I'd never really seen those.
"You have perfect feet." I thought out loud. My
comment obviously caught him by surprise,
because he let out a deep laugh. "Excuse me?"
I uncrossed his leg and took his cold ankle between
my hands. "Your fingers are perfectly proportioned
and the nail is so round..."
He lifted his eyebrows "I never figured you for a girl
with a foot fetish."
"It's not a fetish, I just can't believe everything
about you is so perfect!"
He lifted me by the arms and laid me down on the
bed. Then he crawled down my body and unlaced
my sneakers.
"What are you doing?" I sat up but he pushed me
right back down.
"I'm looking at your feet." He took off my shoes
and socks. I quickly tried to remember when had
been the last time I'd cut my nails. A jolt of
electricity went through me when I felt his lips
against my big toe.
"What are you doing?" I shrieked and took my legs
away from him. I leaned up quickly and sat on
them.
He smiled. "I'm kissing the foot of an angel."
"Well it's creepy, even for you."
He lowered his head and looked up at me through
his eyelashes. "What's that supposed to mean?" He
shifted his whole body slowly. I'd seen him take
that position once before.
"Edward! Don't even think..." But my statement
came too late. I suddenly found myself flying
backwards. He slammed me down on the bed, his
body completely covering mine. His hands formed
steel handcuffs around my wrists as he held them
above my head.
"Edward..." I started to say, but he rested his cheek
against my shoulder and inhaled deeply, pressing
his nose against my throat.
All coherent thoughts left me when he ran his lips
all across my face, paying special attention to my
closed eyelids. He kissed me then, slowly and
sweetly.
The kiss ended too soon, as always. He looked
down at the V-neck of my shirt and pulled it down a
little lower, so he could rest his cheek against the
bare skin just below my neck. He slowly lifted the
chain in which my engagement ring rested and
gently ran the piece of jewelry through his fingers.
I reached behind me to take the chain off so I could
put the ring in my finger, but Edward stopped me.
"Wait, please. Don't move."
"Why?" I frowned.
"I want to feel your heartbeat for a little while." I
nodded and laid back down against the pillows.
We stayed like that for so long I fell asleep. The
next morning I found myself under the covers, but
still fully dressed.
"Good morning, gorgeous." Edward whispered in
my ear.
"Oh," I groaned, "why didn't you wake me up last
night? I'm all stiff from sleeping in jeans."
"You looked like you needed your rest. I thought
about changing you myself, but I figured you might
not like that very much."
I thought about that for a second. Edward taking
my pants off while I slept and getting to see my
plain white underwear? And my legs that hadn't
been shaved in a week? Hell no.
"You were right. Next time just wake me up."
He smiled and sat up. "Bella? I need to go hunting
today." I took a closer look at him. His eyes were
almost black.
"Are you going far?"
"Nah, I can't bare being away from you for long. I'll
be back tomorrow morning to pick you up for
school okay?"
As much as it pained me to let him go, I knew I had
to. So I just nodded. He stood up and bent down to
kiss the side of my neck. "I'll take a cell phone. Call
me if something happens."
I nodded again. He kissed me briefly and then
brushed his lips against my forehead in the most
tender of gestures. Then he was gone.
I spent the rest of the day reading on the living
room couch and catching up on homework. I had
dinner by myself and went to bed well before my
father arrived. I tossed and turned all night long,
surprised at how much I actually needed Edward to
sleep.
I got up early Monday morning and took a shower.
By the time I went downstairs for breakfast my dad
had already left. Edward rang the doorbell just a
few minutes later. I practically ran to answer it.
"Hey!" I said as soon as I got the door open.
Edward ran to me in that super human way of his
and enveloped me in a hug. "Hey, I missed you."
I inhaled his heavenly scent and sighed, "I missed
you too."
He kissed me tenderly, but pulled back quickly.
"Come on, we're going to be late for school." His
eyes roamed my body while I walked over to the
coffee table to get my bag. He was searching for
something.
"You're looking for some kind of injury, aren't you?"
I smiled at his obvious concern.
"The fact that you managed to spend a whole day
on your own and not get a single scratch on you
amazes me." He grinned cockily.
"Well I did manage to stay relatively unharmed for
over seventeen years before meeting you."
Edward snorted and, with his hand on the small of
my back, guided me over to the car. "Oh you don't
fool me. I'm sure you were a regular patient at
some hospital back in Phoenix."
He was right, of course, so I just leaned back
against the leather seat and scowled.
As Edward drove us to school I realized something
was off. I wasn't sure what, but something was
definitely not right. I looked around the car, trying
to find something out of place that could justify my
feeling. Everything looked the same.
I glanced down at myself. Shoes, socks, jeans,
underwear, t-shirt, raincoat, engagement ring,
everything was there. I stared at Edward next. He
was the picture of perfection, as always.
I finally decided to glance at the speedometer. I
gasped so loudly Edward snapped his head around
to look at me.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
"You're driving so... slow!" For the first time since
I'd met him, he was driving well below the speed
limit.
He growled, disgusted. "I know. Your dad has some
rookie cop following us. I'd lose him, but it might
look suspicious. "
"Charlie is having us followed?" I wasn't as shocked
as I should've been. It sounded exactly like
something he would do, checking up on me in that
passive aggressive way.
Edward parked the car in front of the cafeteria and
walked over to my side. I was so shocked by seeing
him walking like a normal person I didn't even
attempt to open the door myself. He helped me out
of the car and closed the door behind me.
With his head, he pointed at the entrance of the
school parking lot. I could see a cop car parked
there. "He's not even good at the whole stakeout
business!" The fact that my father thought I'd
never notice a police officer following my every
step was more than a little insulting.
"Maybe Charlie wants you to know he's there."
Edward answered my thoughts as if he could hear
them.
"Let's just get to class."
The rest of the day, the rest of the week in fact,
went by relatively quickly. The only thing that had
been bugging me, other than the annoying escort,
was that Charlie had not been home in time for
dinner all week.
On Friday, for the sixth night in a row, Edward kept
me company while I ate. My father had called
around five to say that he was going to be late,
again. I couldn't help but worry about him.
Edward stared at me while I pushed my uneaten
vegetables around my plate.
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair in the
way he only did when he felt frustrated or
preoccupied about something. "You should talk to
Charlie." He finally whispered in a reluctant tone.
"What for?" I didn't even look up from my
untouched dinner.
"He thinks you're moving out because you can't
stand living with him."
That caught my attention. "What? How long has he
been feeling that way?"
"Pretty much since you told him about the move."
I pushed my plate away, almost knocking down the
glass of milk in the process. Edward caught it
before even a drop was spilled.
"Oh god, why would he think that?"
"Well, you've got to admit he has reasons to draw
that conclusion."
Now that Edward mentioned it, it did seem
painfully obvious. I'd actually yelled just how much
I hated the current living arrangements right at his
face a few months before. "Why didn't you tell me
about this sooner?" I reproached.
"Because it's a good thing for him to pull away
from you. I just can't bare seeing you so
preoccupied anymore."
I sighed. "I know I should leave things the way they
are, but I just can't."
Edward knelt down next to my chair and took both
my hands in his. "Like I said, you should talk to
Charlie."
I sat in the living room and waited for my dad until
almost midnight. When I heard him unlock the door
I got up. Edward ran upstairs to wait for me.
"Dad!" I said as soon as I saw him.
"Bella! You scared the lights out of me! What are
you doing up?"
"I was wondering if we could talk."
Charlie eyed me suspiciously. He undoubtedly
thought I was going to spring some bad news on
him, maybe a pregnancy or a drug problem.
Nevertheless, he sat down next to me.
"Dad, you know how I'm moving in with Edward
next month?"
"Yes." He stared at me through narrowed eyes.
"Well I just wanted to tell you..." I sighed, "It's not
your fault."
Charlie frowned. "Excuse me?"
"What I mean is, I'm not moving away because of
you, or because of something you did."
My father sighed. "Bella I don't..."
"No, please. Let me finish." I interrupted. "I love
being here, dad. I really enjoy living with you and
cooking for you. You're so easy to spend the time
with! You and I are so much alike, I feel quite
comfortable here."
"Then why are you moving with Edward?" He'd
forgotten all about denying his feelings.
"Because I love him, dad." I shrugged. "It's really
that simple. I can't wait to start my life with him."
Charlie sighed. "Can't you wait to start that adult
life until you're like... thirty?"
I giggled. "This is what I want to do dad, and it has
nothing to do with you!" I leaned close to him and
whispered in a playful way, "you are a superb
roomie."
My dad laughed softly. "It's just that... I just got you
back, I can't believe I'm going to lose you again so
soon."
"Don't worry dad, it's not like we're never going to
see each other again. I'm only moving a few
minutes away! I can still come around for dinner
sometimes."
"Are you sure you're not just tired of me?"
"I'm positive!"
Charlie smiled and stood up. "Well in that case, we
should both go to bed."
"Okay." I stood up too.
"Hey Bells?" He stopped at the bottom of the stairs.
"Yeah dad?"
"Would you like to go out to dinner tomorrow
night?"
I smiled sincerely. "I would love to."
The rest of November went by so fast it scared me.
Soon, we had only one week left of classes. One
week before it happened. Seven days before
Edward made me his forever. One hundred and
sixty eight hours before I became a vampire.
Alice had the whole week planned for us. She
wanted to get me ready for my "vampirization" as
she liked to call it. That last Monday of school, I
was sitting in the kitchen eating a bowl of cereal
when Charlie walked in. He stopped in his tracks
and stared pointedly at my hands.
"What happened to your fingers?" He asked
worriedly.
I looked down at the ten digits, each of which
sported a pink Barbie band-aid around the
fingernail. "Alice happened to my fingers." I replied
grumpily. "She's trying to get me to stop biting my
nails." Her exact words had been, "Are you sure
you want to spend eternity with your hands looking
like THAT?" but I couldn't tell him that.
Charlie chuckled. "And you're going to school with
those things?"
I shrugged. "I have no choice. She'll tie my hands
behind my back if I don't. She already tried
painting my nails with garlic-smelling nail polish.
Unfortunately, I found the extra flavor quite
appealing."
My father laughed wholeheartedly. "Well, good luck
with that!"
Edward rang the doorbell then. I ran my dishes to
the sink and waltzed out of the kitchen. "Bye dad!
See you tonight!"
I ran out the door before he even had a chance to
see Edward. Charlie understood why I wanted to
move in with my boyfriend and had even started to
accept my decision, but that didn't make him hate
Edward any less. According to my mind-reading
boyfriend, in Charlie's eyes he was still the monster
who was going to take his baby girl away.
"Here." Edward handed me a large cup full of some
hot liquid.
"Well, good morning to you too!" I joked.
He kissed my neck gently and whispered in my ear
"We said good morning in bed, remember?" For
some reason, his comment made me feel like a
naughty teenager.
I smiled at him, and then looked down at the
steamy cup. "What's this?"
"Gourmet coffee. It's supposed to be really good."
I took a sip while we walked over to the car. It
tasted amazing. "Wow Edward, where did you get
it?"
"Port Angeles."
I was so surprised I almost sprayed his leather
interiors with the delicious drink. "You drove all the
way to Port Angeles to get me coffee?"
Edward ran over to his side of the car and got in.
"Yes. It doesn't take me as long as it takes you.
Remember?"
"Yeah but still... why did you go through all the
trouble?"
He caressed my cheek with the back of his hand.
"Because I wanted to, and because this is probably
your last Monday as a human. I want you to taste,
experience and try as many human things as
possible."
I rolled my eyes and groaned. "You're gonna make
me eat like a thousand times a day, aren't you?"
"And take many, many naps." He admitted.
I turned around in my seat to face him and placed
my hand over the one he was using to change
shifts. "You don't have to do this you know? I'm
completely convinced of my decision."
He let go of my hand to stroke my cheek once
more. "Just because you're willing to die for me,
doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the earthly
pleasures while you still can."
We were already at school when I grumbled out a
"fine." He was going to do it anyway, whether I
cooperated or not.
We had a final test before lunch. Out of the corner
of my eye I saw Edward's hand flying over the
piece of paper. He finished his test in less than five
minutes and spent the rest of the hour staring at
me intently while I tried to concentrate.
"Don't do that." I hissed.
"Do what?" He whispered back with a laugh.
"Stare at me. It's hard enough to concentrate as it
is."
Edward's smile widened "It's hard to concentrate?"
"With you sitting right next to me? Always." Even
as I said those words, my cheeks filled with blood,
making them all warm and pink. Edward let out a
cocky laugh.
The teacher might have been oblivious to our little
chat, but Edward's vocal reaction caught her
attention. "Eyes on your paper Mr. Cullen."
"Oh, I'm done." Edward sat back on his chair and
raised his test for her to take. As she walked past
me I heard her mumble under her breath, "Of
course you are."
Edward's smile just widened.
He was telling me what he'd heard in our teacher's
mind while we walked to the cafeteria. After so
many months of dating Edward, I'd gotten used to
the stares we tended to get. That day was no
exception.
I can't blame people, though. If I'd seen someone
as beautiful as Edward guiding a simple girl around
the lunch tables with a hand on the small of her
back and his lips very close to her ear while she
giggled uncontrollably at whatever he was saying,
I'd stare too.
We sat down with the rest of the family. They all
looked up when they heard us approaching.
"What's so funny?" Emmett was already smiling.
Edward whispered the strand of lustful and envious
thoughts that had emanated from our English
teacher earlier. Emmett roared with carefree
laughter and even Jasper chuckled. Alice rolled her
eyes. "I swear, they can be seventeen or three
hundred years old it makes no difference. Boys
never change."
Rosalie stared intently at her uneaten salad. She
was picking up the leaves with her hands and
tearing them to shreds. When she caught me
staring, she picked up a piece of tomato and
squeezed it between her fingers with such force it
squirted red liquid powerfully in the direction of my
face.
I closed my eyes to avoid the spray, but the
wetness never came. When I opened them up
again, Edward had his hand in front of my face. He
looked furious.
"Do that again, and I'll cut your hair when you're
not looking."
Rosalie opened her mouth to reply but thought
better of it. She stood up, shoved her tray into the
garbage can with a little more force than she
probably should have, and stormed out of the
cafeteria.
Emmett gave Edward an exasperated look. "Dude,
was that really necessary? I'm the one she's going
to take it out on!" And with that, he got up and left
after his wife.
I was mortified. My face had turned beet red and
my palms were sweaty. "I hate fights." I whispered.
"Forget about it and eat your lunch." Edward
wrapped an arm around my shoulders to comfort
me.
"Okay." I started to get up, but Edward applied
pressure on my shoulders to make me sit back
down.
"Where are you going?"
I looked up at him, surprised. "To get some food?"
It sounded more like a question than an answer.
"I have food for you."
Alice smiled and produced from under the table
three tupperwares. One of them had pasta, the
other one contained meatballs and the third some
Caesar's salad.
I groaned. "You're going to do this all week long,
aren't you?"
Edward smiled. "I thought we'd already discussed
this."
"Yes but still... Won't it look weird if I suddenly eat
lunches brought from home every day? Hot
lunches, to top it all."
He just shrugged. "People bring their own food all
the time, Bella. Besides, do you really want your
last lunches to be cafeteria food?"
I raised my eyebrows. "Well, what do you know?
Maybe the food here is great."
Edward rolled his eyes. "The food here is barely
edible."
"How do you know? You've never tasted it!" I was
smiling when I said that, I was trying to keep things
light so he wouldn't feel offended.
"Cafeteria food has had a reputation of tasting like
cardboard for many, many years." Edward winked
at me and I pouted. "Well, if you'd rather eat stale
pizza..."
He took the spaghetti away from me. "No!" I
shrieked a little louder than I intended.
Edward smiled and handed me back the container.
"Good girl."
After school, Alice took me to get a haircut. I
insisted on keeping the same length, so they didn't
do much. My hair had no real style, the guy at the
mall tried to talk me into some new, layered cut. I
refused. I'd rather spend all eternity with plain hair
thank you very much.
Edward tagged along, which surprised me a little.
He usually stayed far away from the whole girl
thing. I figured he probably wanted to spend as
much time with my human self as he could.
That night, my dad arrived while Edward was still
helping me study for Tuesday's final. He invited
him to stay for dinner. Unfortunately, Edward
couldn't say no. Charlie looked like he wanted him
there, which scared me a little.
As soon as the three of us were sitting around the
table with steak and potatoes on our plates, my
father attacked Edward.
"So, Edward, have you thought about what you're
going to do with your life?"
I almost choked on my milk, but Edward smiled and
answered, "I'm thinking about becoming a doctor
like my father."
"Oh really? Medicine eh? Won't it take you like ten
years before you can really start practicing?"
"Well... yes, and no. But we're not in a hurry, are
we Bella?" I couldn't even grasp how he'd dragged
me into that conversation. It took me forever to
figure out whether I was supposed to nod or shake
my head.
"Hmp." Charlie grumbled. "A decade is a very long
time, Edward. What if you want to start a family
and have no way of supporting them?" My head
was spinning so fast I was almost dizzy. How had
the conversation gone so wrong?
"Rest assured, Mr. Swan, Bella won't go hungry
next to me. I'm a hard worker, and I have plenty of
savings." Edward noticed my suffering and took my
hand under the table to reassure me everything
was fine.
"Oh yes, your father mentioned something about
you having money. Where did that come from by
the way?"
"Dad!" I finally interrupted. Even though I knew
Edward was okay with all the prodding, I was
mortified.
"It's all right Bella. It's natural for your father to be
curious. If I were in his place I'd do the same
thing." Edward smiled at me and turned back to
my dad. "My birth mother died when I was very
young, that's how I came to be a Cullen. She was
alone and had no family, but she did have quite a
bit of money. She made a trust fund for me before
passing away. My birth father also left everything
to me, and Carlisle opened bank accounts for all of
us kids when we turned fifteen. I own some stock
and a few small properties all over the country."
Charlie was impressed, no doubt. He probably
hadn't expected Edward to have that much money,
or be that well organized. The speechlessness,
much to my dismay, lasted only a few seconds.
"Just because people have been kind enough to
give you so much doesn't mean you know how to
handle it." It was probably his last defense.
"I know. I try to be as careful with my assets as
possible, though. Plus, Bella is great with
numbers." Edward winked at me. My dad just
sighed.
"Well kids, it sounds like you have it all figured
out."
"For the most part, yeah." I smiled at my dad.
He shoved a piece of meat into his mouth and
chewed silently. "When do you want to move?" He
asked after he'd swallowed.
"Sat..." I started to say, but Edward interrupted me.
"Actually, Bella. I have a little surprise for you. I
want to take you on a cruise for the first two weeks
of December."
I lifted my eyebrows and went along with his new
story. "Oh really? Wow Edward, that's amazing!" I
got up from my chair and leaned down to hug him
where he sat. Edward laughed and hugged me
back.
"A cruise?" I whispered in his ear.
"In case you didn't notice, your father was about to
offer his help with the move. I'd rather just keep
him away from you for a few weeks after your
transformation."
"Ahem." Charlie reminded us of his presence. I sat
back down on my chair to finish my meal.
"Well kids, I really hope everything works out for
you."
To my surprise, Charlie sounded really sincere.
When I looked up I thought I saw his eyes shining a
little.
"Thank you Chief Swan." Edward forced down some
potatoes.
"Oh please, call me Charlie." My dad couldn't help
but wrinkle his forehead when he said. "After all,
we're practically family."
I laid down on my bed and made room for Edward,
but he just stood there.
"Are you going to join me, or do you plan to stand
there all night?" I teased.
"Actually, I need to leave for a few minutes."
I frowned and sat up. "Why?"
"Because I have a stomach full of meat and
potatoes." He said that with such a disgusted look
on his face I started giggling.
"Oh you think it's funny, don't you?" He grimaced.
"No, I don't. I'm really, really sorry." I got up and
went to hug him, but he stopped me.
"I'd rather go get rid of it before anything else
happens." If he could've, he would've turned green.
"Go." I encouraged him.
"Thank you!" He sighed, relieved, and dashed out
the window.
I was already half asleep when he returned. He
pulled me close to his body and rested a cold hand
on my stomach. I slept with a smile on my face.
On Tuesday, Edward made me eat blueberry
muffins and hot chocolate for breakfast, a gourmet
hamburger with french fries for lunch and a
thousand different snacks in between.
I was lying face down on his bed that afternoon
while he tried to talk me into another piece of
chocolate.
"Seriously, Edward. If you shove one more piece of
candy down my throat you're going to get a glance
at everything you've made me eat today when I
send it flying all over your carpet." The pillow I was
pressing to my face muffled my voice.
Edward laughed and tossed the chocolate bar
aside. "Fine, I'll give you a rest. But only until
dinner time."
I groaned and rolled on my side. "You're like the
witch in Hansel and Gretel."
"Well, so what if I like my meals well stuffed?"
I threw him my pillow playfully and he caught it
easily before it hit him in the face.
"Did you just throw this at me?" He tried to look
outraged.
"Well did you just call me your meal? Please try to
keep your cravings to yourself."
He lifted his eyebrows in a playful manner "Oh I'll
show you my real cravings." He pounced on me
and pinned me down on the bed, one of his hands
holding me down while the other one snuck under
my shirt and tickled my sides.
I laughed and trashed around, trying to get him to
stop. When he finally did, he held himself up above
me. His eyes stared at my messed up hair and
flushed cheeks. I was breathing hard and could feel
my heart racing under my skin. I knew he could
feel that too.
My shirt was all crumpled up, leaving my abdomen
bare. He let go of my wrists and caressed my
exposed skin lightly. Slowly, he lowered his face
and traced the contours of my mouth with his
bottom lip. Then, he whispered against my lips
"This is what I crave." And he kissed me, slowly
and sweetly.
I ran my hands through his hair, gently pressing
him closer to me. He stilled for a moment, waiting
to see if I was going to attack him like I used to. I
didn't, but not because he'd ceased to affect me
that way, I'd just gotten better at controlling my
impulses around him.
When he sensed I needed to breathe, he rolled off
me and laid down on his side. "Bella, we should
talk about some things."
"Like what?"
"Like... at what time would you like me to change
you? Early in the morning? Late at night?"
I shrugged. "It doesn't matter, as long as you stay
with me."
He caressed my face with his fingertips. "That's a
given. Carlisle and I will watch over you. Don't
worry."
I shifted uncomfortably and he frowned. "What's
wrong?"
"Well... I was kind of hoping we could do this by
ourselves. I want it to be ours."
Edward sighed. "Bella, there is nothing romantic or
glamorous about you trashing in pain for three
days."
"No, I know. But still, it's something I want us to go
through just the two of us." I loved all the Cullens
to death, but the idea of them sitting there
uncomfortably, staring at me while I sobbed and
screamed was not very appealing.
Edward kissed the tip of my nose and smiled. "If
that's what you want, then okay."
"Good. I'd also like it to happen in our meadow."
Edward sat up so fast he startled me. "Are you
mad? You want to lie on the hard ground in a
humid forest for three days? What if it rains? It's
December, it's very cold outside!"
I shrugged. "What's the cold going to do? Kill me?
Besides, judging by my last experience, I think the
cold air might be refreshing."
"Why do you want to do it there?"
"Because that's the place where I really met you,
the first time you were completely yourself around
me. That was when I first realized I'm in love with
you. My life started when I met you, I'd like to
come full circle."
Edward smiled and held my chin between his
fingers. "How can I say no to that adorable
speech?"
I blushed scarlet. "Yeah, well, you bring out my
corny side."
Edward laughed and pulled me on top of him. "Oh
trust me, that's nothing compared to what goes
through my mind every moment I'm with you."
I rolled my eyes. "Come on, what can be cornier
than me telling you my life started when I met
you?"
He had both his hands on my waist, so he ran them
up the length of my body all the way to my cheeks.
He framed my face, just inches away from his.
"Bella, you are my life. I live solely for you."
His eyes were hypnotizing me. I had to clear my
throat before being able to say "You were alive for
many years before I came along."
"Pfft, that hardly counts. I existed, but I wasn't
really living."
His words, his lips, his eyes, they were all leaving
me breathless. "That wasn't corny." I whispered,
out of breath.
"Well, neither was your speech."
He lowered my lips to his. I felt the familiar tingle
going through me, starting were my mouth met his
and ending at the tip of my toes. It took all my
willpower to concentrate on something other than
the intense kiss. Ever so slowly, I reached for the
pillow next to us.
I sat up in a flash, leaving Edward so startled he
never saw the soft object coming. I hit him square
in the face.
"Oh you want to play dirty Miss Swan?" He growled
playfully. I leaped out of his arms and ran for the
door.
I practically flew down a flight of stairs, giggling all
the way. When I got to the second floor I started
walking backwards, away from the staircase. I was
amazed he'd let me get that far, and at the same
time a little nervous because it meant he probably
had a plan.
When I walked past Alice's bedroom I saw
something so mesmerizing, it made me forget our
game completely. Alice was lying down on the bed
with her head hanging over the edge. Jasper was
sitting on the floor, right in front of her, gently
caressing her short strands of hair while kissing her
upside down.
I had never seen those two having a romantic
moment and it suddenly struck me how incredibly
attractive they both were, how beautiful they
looked together and how much they loved each
other.
"You better keep running Bella." Alice's voice
startled me.
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to sneak up on you guys
like this!" I apologized quickly.
"Bella, you keep forgetting, you can't sneak up on
us. I smelled you coming the moment you opened
Edward's door." Jasper murmured against Alice's
mouth.
"Down the hall, to the left. Quickly." Alice urged.
I took her advice and ran down the hall, figuring
she'd seen Edward's plan in her mind and was
trying to give me some leverage. I opened the door
on the left and ran in, closing it behind me. The
room seemed small, like maybe a closet, and it
was pitch black. I giggled uncontrollably, knowing
my efforts to hide from Edward were useless, but
still enjoying the pursuit.
"And what are you giggling about?"
Edward's voice startled me so much I yelped. He
lifted me by the waist and wrapped my legs around
his middle in one swift move. Then he gently
pressed me against the wall and leaned his body
against mine.
I felt heat rising in every place where his body
came into contact with mine, so basically
everywhere. He leaned in, pressing his body even
harder against my own, and traced my jaw with his
nose. He took a deep breath, taking in my scent,
and kissed my throat gently.
I shuddered and became pudding in his arms when
he started tracing kisses all over my face. He
placed his lips against my cheek. I could feel him
smiling. Then, he whispered.
"I win."
I'd have to kill Alice later.
That night, I had the nightmare again. Edward
fighting that vampire Alice had seen in her visions
months before, to keep him from getting to me.
The pain of a vampire bite burning my body whole,
my blood spilled all around, Edward about to be
killed, saying goodbye. But that night, it was
different. That night, the dream went a little
further. For a few moments, just when the other
vampire was about to tear Edward to pieces, I saw
brightness, lots of it, all around me.
I woke up, a little shaken up and bathed in cold
sweat, but silently. Unlike every other time I'd had
the nightmare, I didn't need Edward there to calm
me down. It was as if the dream had reached its
end.
"Edward?" I whispered into the darkness.
"I'm right here." His answer came from the rocking
chair, but before I could even register that, he was
sitting on the bed next to me.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah." I frowned.
"You were starting to get a little restless, I was
about to come over here and wake you up." He
tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. "You're
clammy, are you sure you're all right?"
"I'm okay."
His frown matched my own. "Did you have a
nightmare?"
I looked up at him -confusion written all over my
face- and answered sincerely
"I don't know."
Foreplay 2
His frown matched my own. "Did you have a
nightmare?"
I looked up at him, confusion written all over my
face, and answered sincerely
"I don't know."
Edward dismissed my dream quickly. He told me it
probably meant nothing and reminded me of how
tired I'd been before going to bed that night. He
took me in his arms and stroked my hair until I fell
asleep.
As I was drifting off, I heard him sigh. Apparently, I
wasn't the only one who thought there was more to
the dream.
I woke up the next morning and felt even more
groggy than usual. I'd been playing the dream over
and over in my head for most of the night until
exhaustion took over. I still couldn't figure out what
was bugging me so much about it.
The space next to me in bed was empty. I sat up
and rubbed my sleepy eyes with the back of my
hands, expecting to find Edward sitting on the
rocking chair, but he wasn't there.
I looked around the room and whispered, feeling
quite idiotic, "Edward?" No answer. As I was getting
up, my hand brushed against a folded piece of
paper that had been placed next to my pillow. It
had my name on it, written in Edward's beautiful
handwriting. Inside I found a small message.
"I'll explain later. Don't worry about your first class.
Be safe."
Needless to say, I was confused. I was still trying to
decipher the message when my eyes caught sight
of the clock next to my bed. It read nine am.
"Oh my god!" I scrambled out of bed and tore off
my pajamas, seriously hoping Edward wasn't
lurking around somewhere because I had no time
to be modest. I raced down the stairs brushing my
teeth, combing my hair and kicking my shoes in
front of me, all at the same time, almost killing
myself in the process. I rinsed my mouth in the
kitchen sink, grabbed a stale granola bar and a half
empty carton of milk and practically flew to the
door, frantically searching for my car keys on the
way.
I threw the door open and instantly stopped in my
tracks. I was so stunned I almost had a heart
attack. My hand flew to my chest, dropping the
carton of milk in the process. A graceful, white
hand reached out and caught the container before
it hit the ground.
"Alice?" I frowned at my sister-to-be.
"Hi Bella! You're riding with me today."
My heart calmed down slowly. "Where's Edward?"
"He went hunting with Carlisle." Alice stared down
at the milk she was holding and made a face. She
threw the carton behind her back. It landed in the
garbage can several feet away. She pointed at the
trunk of the Volvo. I could see a cup of something -
probably chocolate or coffee - and a piece of pie
waiting for me on top of it.
I shook my head to clear it. "Edward went hunting
again?" He'd gone just a few days before.
"This time they went looking for something a little
bit more filling than deer."
"Why?" I asked.
"Well sweetie, if Edward is going to spend his
Saturday sucking the life out of you, he better be
full enough to resist slurping you dry."
I should've been scared, or at the very least
insulted by being referred to as something as
edible as a milkshake, but instead I just shrugged.
"Makes sense."
"Yeah." Alice nodded enthusiastically before
getting in the car.
During the ride to school, Alice confessed she'd
mentioned to Edward that I was going to be late for
school if he didn't set the alarm for me before
leaving. I hadn't used the alarm clock in months.
After all, who wants to wake up to an annoying
beep when you can have a delicious kiss instead?
Besides, Edward was way more reliable than any
alarm clock... when he happened to be there,
anyway.
He had apparently chosen to let me sleep in, and
Alice was more than happy to skip her first class in
order to wait for me.
That morning I sat alone during Math. Mike noticed
and sat down next to me, much to Jessica's
dismay, I noticed.
"Hey Bella! How are you?"
"I'm good Mike, how are you?" I answered politely.
"I'm great! Where's Cullen today?" So he'd noticed.
"Edward is sick today. He has a stomach virus, the
poor guy."
Mike straddled the chair he was sitting on and
rested his chin against his arms. I looked around
nervously for the teacher, but she was nowhere to
be found. I'd been so caught up in my own
thoughts I hadn't even noticed she'd left the room
until then.
"He seems to do that a lot, doesn't he?"
"Uh?" I tried to focus on my conversation with
Mike.
"Cullen. He's been sick quite a bit lately."
I thought about that. He'd had the flu last week,
and a cold a couple of weeks before that. Not to
mention chicken pox the month before thanks to a
streak of good weather that had made me hate the
sun for the first time in my life.
"Well he helps his dad out at the hospital
sometimes. Some people there can be pretty
contagious." I was amazed at my ability to lie.
"Oh." Mike had nothing else to say, thank
goodness.
Jessica, who had probably been overhearing the
whole conversation, waltzed over to us and flashed
me a toothy smile "Hi Bella! Are you going to the
winter dance on Saturday?"
Mike's head snapped up in attention. He seemed
almost hopeful. Jessica, however, had the whole
thing planned. She knew I probably wasn't going to
go because I'd told her repeatedly about my
feelings towards dancing. She also knew for a fact
that, should I decide to go, I'd obviously be hanging
from the arm of my boyfriend. It sounded to me
like she just wanted to get me out of Mike's head.
I thought about that Saturday, and about what I'd
be doing while the kids in school waltzed around
the gym. "No, I'm not going to the dance. You know
how I hate those things. I swear, Edward will not
talk me into this one."
Mike looked disappointed, and so did Taylor - who
was sitting a couple of desks away - the silly,
delusional idiot.
The bell rang then. I shot up from my seat and
started gathering my things. I thought about
enduring the stares and questions of my high
school friends over lunch and stiffened a groan. I
was in no mood to deal with Jessica's jealousy or
Mike's blindness, but Edward had left me alone, so
apparently I was stuck.
At that moment, Alice danced into the classroom
and called my name. "Come on Bella! You take
forever! Jasper will be so upset if he gets to the
cafeteria before me."
Everyone in the room stared while she gracefully
jumped over backpacks and books to get to me.
She took my hand in hers, grabbed my backpack
and hurried out the room, practically dragging me
along and chatting over her shoulder. "I want to
run an idea by you. You can say no, of course, and
Edward would probably kill me for even suggesting
it."
We were already in the cafeteria by then. Alice half
ran over to our usual table and sank down
gracefully next to Jasper, who was looking a bit
anxious. I could've sworn I saw her nodding slightly
in his direction before he took a long breath and
relaxed. I sat down next to Emmett. Rosalie
ignored me, as usual.
"So Bella, there's something I would like to do
before Edward turns you." Alice's eyes were
shining with excitement.
I frowned. "What?"
"Just remember, I'm suggesting this for your own
good. I don't want you to miss out on anything and
this is something I'm sure you haven't done.
Something you won't be able to do once you
become one of us."
I was starting to get suspicious. "What?"
"I want to get you drunk!"
"What!" I was outraged. Emmett's eyes snapped
open like saucers. He glanced at Alice, then at me
and back at her before bursting out laughing.
"Please, don't get me wrong. I love how you've
never gotten around to doing such a thing. I just
think there is a very big difference between
knowing about something and actually doing it. I
want you to have that experience."
I scowled. Losing control of myself had never
appealed to me. "But Alice, what if Edward comes
home? I can't afford to lose my inhibitions around
him while I'm still human. It takes all of my restrain
not to throw myself at him every time he's near!" I
admitted with embarrassment.
Alice smiled. "You'll probably be back to normal
long before he gets home. And even if you aren't,
I'm sure he has enough restrain for both of you. I
just want you to know what it's like, and maybe
once you've been through it you can describe it
properly for me."
"Oh no no, do not play the "I have no human
memories" card." I shook my head.
Alice made a face that reminded me of a scared
little deer and pouted. "Pleeease Bella! I promise
it'll be fun!"
I sighed. "When he was human, did Edward ever..."
"No." Alice answered sincerely. I gave her a sad
smile.
"Okay."
"Yes?" She shrieked in excitement.
"If you promise to take care of me, and not let me
get too drunk, then yes."
Emmett whooped and Alice giggled. "I promise to
try."
I took a bite of the salad she shoved in my
direction and smiled. "So, you knew I'd say yes all
along.
"Obviously. Yeah."
"And I'm sure you already bought the alcohol."
She gave me a sheepish smile.
I sighed. "So, what am I drinking?"
Her eyes lit up. "Tequila!"
I dialed my father's number while Alice jumped up
and down eagerly.
"Hello?"
"Dad? Hi! Erm... I was calling because... well,
Edward is out of town today."
Charlie was quiet for a moment. Then he said,
"Oh."
"Yeah, anyway, Alice wants to have a slumber
party tonight."
"Tell him it's a farewell party for your human side.
Or for your virginity, which ever works." Alice
whispered. I tried to get as far away from her as
the cord of the phone would allow.
"Are the Cullens going to be there?" Charlie asked
his usual question.
It was ridiculous, really. I was going to move in with
my boyfriend in just three days and he was asking
if Alice and I were going to be supervised by an
adult that night. I decided not to say anything and
let him enjoy his parental moment. "Yes dad, Esme
is going to be here all night."
"Well, okay then. But don't stay up too late, Bells.
It's a school night."
"Okay dad. See you tomorrow."
"Good night Bella."
I hung up the phone and turned around, planning
to choke Alice until I remembered I couldn't kill her
by depriving her of oxygen.
"Alice, you are terrible." I grumbled.
"Thank you!" She laughed and took my hand,
pulling me towards the living room where Emmett
and Jasper were waiting with the bottle.
I sat down in front of the shot glass and lemons
they had for me. "So what? Am I supposed to just
start drinking this thing?"
The three young looking vampires stared at me.
"Well, yeah." Emmett shrugged.
Jasper poured a healthy amount of liquid into the
glass. Even he looked eager to find out what would
happen. I took a deep breath, grabbed the glass
firmly and placed it against my lips. The alcohol
burned my nostrils before I even drank it.
"Hum, guys? I don't think I can do this."
Alice sighed, but Emmett jumped in "Okay, how
about a game?"
"A game?" I frowned.
"Yes, a drinking game."
My frown deepened. "Well that's not fair, you guys
can't drink!"
Jasper shrugged "Technically, we can. We won't get
drunk but trust me, it will be every bit as
uncomfortable for us as it's going to be for you."
"Oh no come on, I don't want you guys to do
something you don't want to do!"
Emmett raised an eyebrow. "Isn't that kind of what
we're doing to you?"
I gave him a crooked smile "You do have a point
there. Are you three willing to ingest this thing for
me?"
The three vampires nodded eagerly.
I shrugged. "So, what are we playing?"
"Okay, this next game is called "I've never" and it
goes like this. We will each say something that
we've never done, and anyone who has done it
takes a drink." Emmett seemed to know way too
much about drinking games.
After a stupid game that required hand
coordination, one that required verbal abilities and
one that I still don't really get, we were finally
going to play something that I could beat them at.
"Well I'm game but you should know, I haven't
done much in my life." I warned.
"Oh really? I'll start. I've never fallen in love with a
human." Jasper smiled smugly.
"Well I'm sorry Jasper, but the only one who would
drink to that is Edward." I pointed out with a grin.
"Fine then, I've never fallen in love with a vampire
while being a human."
I sighed and drowned my glass. The burning
sensation I'd felt during the first five shots was long
gone by then. It took me longer than it should have
to put the glass back on the table. By then, I'd lost
sensibility in my arms and legs.
"Dude!" Emmett groaned. He drank his shot and
made a hideous face.
"Oh come on! Really?" Jasper rolled his eyes.
"What can I say? It was love at first sight."
Emmett's smile was contagious. I found myself
grinning too.
"I've got one!" I called out "I've never fallen in love
with a vampire while being a vampire."
Alice and Jasper smiled at each other while they
drank. Then it was Alice's turn.
"I've never gotten a bikini wax... that I know of."
I didn't drink, but Emmett did.
"Oh god, what is wrong with you?" Jasper teased
him. I'd never seen him act so carefree.
"You don't wanna know." Emmett shook his head,
probably repressing terrible memories.
I giggled. Emmett went next. "I've never worn
women's underwear."
Jasper looked insulted "I am never telling you
anything again! It was one time! And it was her
fault!" He pointed at Alice. She smiled up at him in
a very private way. Jasper smiled back and said
under his breath. "The experience did have one
positive outcome."
"And what an enjoyable experience it was." Alice
whispered.
I flushed tomato red, feeling like an intruder in
their private talk. Jasper finally looked away from
his wife. His eyes shone with the idea of revenge.
"I've never gone skinny dipping."
"Oh yes, you have." Alice pointed out, a sexy look
in her eyes.
"Not in a lake full of piranhas."
"Oh so what? It's not like they can hurt me!"
Emmett looked embarrassed though. I figured
there was more to that story but I didn't ask and
they didn't tell me.
I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt. "Turn me?
I mean, my turn? Fine. I've never had sex."
Emmett frowned "Really? Oh you're in for a treat,
little girl!" Jasper and Alice both gave him weird
looks. "Wait... that didn't come out right..."
"You know what?" Alice smiled. "I think we should
do something different. I think we should dance!"
She was across the room, fiddling with the stereo
before I could protest.
Loud, electronic music filled the room. Alice pulled
me up, ignoring my complaints, and twirled
around, jumping up and down. She looked like a
graceful ballerina. I looked like a sack of potatoes
bouncing around in the back of a truck.
"Alice stop." I groaned. A sudden wave of euphoria
hit me, but that was probably Jasper's doing.
"Yes Alice, please do. You call that dancing?"
Emmett changed the music to something I
recognized from my father's collection. "This, is
dancing!"
He grabbed me by the waist and lifted me up in the
air. Emmett shook around, taking me with him, and
twirled all around the room. My feet never even
touched the ground.
When he shoved me under his spread legs and
threw me in the air, it happened. I closed my eyes
and welded my lips shut.
"Emmett... I think you better put her down." Alice
warned.
"Oh come on! This is fun!" He kept throwing me in
the air. I wasn't going to be able to hold on much
longer.
"Emmett! Put her down!" His eyes went wide as
realization hit him. I clamped my hand over my
mouth and made a run for the bathroom as soon as
my feet touched the floor.
I groaned loudly. The echo inside the toilet bowl
made my voice sound even more pained. "Alice I
swear, if you weren't already dead..." Another
wave of nausea hit me then, and I was unable to
finish my threat.
A guilty looking Alice held my hair back while I
emptied my stomach.
"Jasper, can't you do something?" She asked in
desperation.
Jasper, who was leaning against the doorframe
with his arms crossed over his chest, answered. "I
can change her mood, but not her blood alcohol
level." He actually sounded amused.
I moaned and leaned against the cold porcelain. "I
want Edward."
"He's not here Bells. He'll be home tomorrow."
Alice explained for the thousandth time. She
sounded anxious, almost hopeful.
Emmett, who was having the most fun with my
situation, grinned when I let go of the toilet and
slipped to the floor. "This is better than TV!"
"You're being mean." I pouted.
"Aww come on Bella! It's been decades since I've
seen someone this plastered! You remind me of my
youth. I went to some good parties back in the
days."
"Why am I not surprised?" I mumbled.
"Uh oh." Alice stood very straight, her eyes wide.
"What?" I asked.
"Edward's back." She whispered. She'd probably
seen him on his way home hours before, but had
been hoping the future would shift.
Emmett let out a low whistle. "You are on your own
sis." He disappeared from the room in record time.
"Bella, quick! Try to look sober." I gave Alice a
queasy look. She rolled her eyes. "Nah, don't even
bother. He can probably smell you from the
driveway." She walked out of the bathroom with
Jasper and closed the door behind her.
I wanted to leap up and run to meet Edward. I
craved his arms desperately. Unfortunately, I was
unable to sit up straight, let alone move.
I didn't even hear him approach. All of a sudden,
his voice sounded loud and clear in the hall.
"What happened?" He asked someone, probably
Alice.
"Don't be mad Edward, I did it for her own good."
"Did what for her own good? Do not shut me out of
your mind! What's going on?" He sounded really
mad.
"She's okay Edward! It just got a little out of hand."
Alice pleaded.
He sniffed. "You got her drunk." It wasn't a
question.
"I don't want her to miss out on anything!"
"Well you should've waited for me!" He slammed
the bathroom door open. The noise made me jump,
but he had his arms around me in a second.
"Bella? Honey, are you okay?" I looked up at his
beautiful, concerned features.
"I am now." I whispered at my wonderful angel.
He lifted my chin with his hand and looked me
over. I blushed deeply, suddenly aware of my
wrinkled clothes and sweaty hair, not to mention
the fact that I'd spent the better part of the
evening with my head inside a toilet bowl.
Edward kissed my forehead and asked, "How are
you feeling?"
I took a deep breath, inhaling his heavenly scent.
"Much better now that you're here."
He cradled me to his chest and lifted me up. "Hey!
Where are you taking me?" I protested.
"To our bed." He answered simply.
"I'm not sure I'm done here, you know?" I
mumbled, embarrassed.
"It doesn't matter. You need to lie down." He was
halfway to his room by then, even though he was
walking way slower than usual for my benefit.
"But what if I throw up all over the bed?"
He moved my hair away from my forehead with his
cheek and kissed me "Then I'll change the sheets
in the morning."
He set me down carefully on his side of the bed
and then walked around to pull the sheets back on
my side. Then, he tucked me in gently.
"Can you at least get me a trash can or
something?" He placed an elegant wastepaper
basket next to me before I was even done asking.
Without saying a word, he opened one of my
drawers and pulled out a pair of pajamas that Alice
had bought for me a few months before. He
handed me the silk pants and asked, "Can you
change on your own or do you want me to help?"
"I think I can do it myself." I took the pajamas from
his hands and he turned around respectfully. I
pulled off my jeans without getting up and
maneuvered my way into the loose pants. Then I
took off my sweat-soaked top and slipped my arms
into the soft shirt. The buttons, however, proved to
be too much of a challenge for me.
Edward must have heard my fiddling, because he
peeked over his shoulder and then sat down next
to me on the bed. He pulled my hands away from
the shirt and stared at me with a gentle smile on
his face. "I think you missed a few holes, beautiful."
His cold fingers undid the buttons again. Edward,
always the gentleman, was very careful not to
expose too much of my skin while he worked. He
couldn't stop himself, however, from gently tracing
the small line of exposed skin that went from my
throat to my waist with his cold fingers. I shivered,
but not from the temperature of his hands. It's
amazing I managed to keep myself calm.
He took a shaky breath and got me properly
dressed quickly. Then he stood up to get himself
ready for bed.
I stared at him while he took off his shoes and
unbuttoned his shirt. He joined me in bed
immediately afterwards and pulled me towards
him.
"You look very clean." I mentioned.
He frowned at my statement "Why, thank you."
"No, I mean... you went hunting, didn't you?"
"Yes."
"Well, shouldn't you be covered in dirt or blood or
something?"
He raised an eyebrow "Do you get food all over
your clothes every time you eat?"
"Depends on what I eat."
He smiled "Well, I'm careful when I dine out."
I glared incredulously at him.
"And I like to take my shirt off when I hunt." He
admitted with a laugh.
I smiled weakly at him "That's a nice mental
image."
His face fell. Had I not been so used to his mood
swings, I would've been surprised. "It's not a pretty
picture, Bella."
"I know. But anything that involves you without
your shirt on can't be that bad."
He looked like he wanted to contradict me but
thought better of it. Instead he mentioned, "You
sound oddly eloquent for someone with so much
alcohol in her blood stream."
I shrugged "I carry my drunkenness well."
"So it appears." He held me close. I pressed my
warm face against his chest and sighed in content.
Then I closed my eyes.
"Oh god!" I moaned.
"What?" He asked in alarm.
"The room is spinning."
Edward laughed and shifted us around, so I could
be a little closer to the edge of the bed. "Put your
foot on the ground. It will help."
I did what he said and closed my eyes again. It did
help a little.
"Better?"
"Kinda."
"Good. Now go to sleep." He turned off the bedside
lamp and kissed the top of my head.
"Edward?"
"Yes?"
"I love you so much."
I felt his breath on my face before he kissed my
lips tenderly. "I love you too my beautiful,
intoxicated soul mate."
I fell asleep with a smile on my lips.
I moaned while seriously considering drowning
myself in the tub. The bathroom was dark except
for a couple of candles that Edward had gotten for
me. I'd felt incredibly relieved upon discovering
they weren't scented.
Edward walked in noiselessly as usual. He had a
glass full of something red in his hand.
"Here, drink this. It'll make you feel better." He
knelt down next to the bathtub and handed me the
glass. I looked down quickly to make sure my body
was completely covered by the bubbles before
taking a sip.
It tasted worse than what I'd thrown up the night
before.
"Oh my god, Edward! What is in this thing?"
"Don't ask." He was trying very hard not to look
amused. "You know, you can stay home today if
you want to. School is going to be hell for you."
"As much as I would love to stay, I can't. I have...
Oh crap!" I sat up so fast I slipped and slid
backwards at tremendous speed. Edward caught
the back of my head just before I cracked it open
with the edge of the tub.
"What's wrong?" He asked, alarmed.
"We have a test! I forgot the test!" I started to
panic.
"The global studies test? It's easy Bella." He
dismissed my concern.
"Easy for you! I needed to study for that!" My
headache suddenly caught up with me and I had to
rest my head back.
"Bella, calm down. There are more important
things in life than a test. You're getting killed the
day after tomorrow, do you seriously care about a
high school class?"
I opened my mouth to reply but realized quickly
that he was right. "Well I still have to take it." I
grumbled.
"In that case we better get going. We're going to
be late."
I waited for him to leave so I could get out of the
tub, but he never did. He unfolded a towel and held
it open for me to step into it like a little child
getting out of the pool.
I raised my eyebrows and he rolled his eyes. "Bella,
do you have a headache?"
"Yes." I answered
"Are you a little dizzy?"
"A little."
"Does the room spin around when you close your
eyes?"
I pouted. "Just a bit."
"Then I'm not leaving you alone in a slippery
bathroom. Now come on, I'll close my eyes."
I blushed deep red. He sighed. "Would you like me
to go get Alice?"
"I'm not crippled Edward! I can get out of the tub!"
I crossed my arms stubbornly.
"Please, Bella. I would really like to avoid a trip to
the ER this morning. I swear I won't peek."
I knew he wouldn't, of course, so I mumbled a fine.
He closed his eyes obediently and I stood up,
carefully getting out. His hand shot out to steady
me when I stumbled.
"Hey!" I shrieked.
"I did not peek, Bella." He wrapped the towel
around me. His cool fingers touched my warm
arms and my wet throat. His eyes were still closed.
"Then how did you know that I was about to fall?" I
asked in a whisper, my voice quivered in response
to his touch.
"I feel you, Bella. I don't need to see you or smell
you to know you're there. I know when you're
around me. I can feel what you're doing. I can
sense your every move."
I walked over to the nearest wall and leaned
against it, dragging Edward along by the hand. I
slid down to the floor, taking him with me, and
pulled his head close to my chest. His eyes were
still closed, so I lowered the towel just a tiny bit,
enough for his cheek to rest over my heart.
He seemed surprise by my behavior, but also
deeply grateful. I knew how much he was going to
miss my heartbeat after the change. He leaned his
forehead against my neck and sighed in content.
"See? You might be able to sense my moves, but
you can't predict them." I whispered playfully into
his hair.
He chuckled against my sensitive skin, making me
shiver. "I don't think even Alice can be one
hundred percent accurate when it comes to you."
He lifted me from the cold floor and sat me down
on his lap, his head leaving the curve of my neck
only for a moment. I noticed he had not opened his
eyes once.
"Even though I still have my fears and doubts
about changing you, I can honestly say I can't wait
until you're indestructible."
His nose traced a line from my neck to the top of
my hair. He pulled my head down to his chest and
rested his cheek against my forehead. I felt so at
ease in his arms, I forgot all about my headache.
"You mean you'll be glad when you don't feel the
need to spend every minute with me?"
He chuckled again. "Don't be ridiculous, Bella. I'm
still going to be the overprotective, extremely
jealous boyfriend that you're used to. I'll just feel...
better. More at ease." He brushed back a piece of
stray hair from my forehead. "You make me
nervous."
I frowned. "I do?"
"Of course. I worry about you every second of
every day. When I'm with you I'm scared that I
might forget myself for a moment and crush you to
death. When I'm without you it terrifies me,
because I know you can get into so much trouble
on your own."
I sat up, took his face between my hands, and
gently slid his eyelids open. He looked down at me
with such love and devotion he almost made me
cry. My heart started beating wildly when his
knuckles traced the contours of my face. I'd
forgotten to pull my towel up, which meant I was
sporting a rather plunging neckline, but at that
moment I didn't even notice.
He closed his eyes once again and leaned in closer
to my face. When he was so close our lips were
almost touching, he blew cold air gently over my
burning skin. I concentrated hard on not doing two
things, attacking him and passing out.
I bit my lip to help with my restrain and took in as
much of his scent as my lungs would allow. Edward
noticed and leaned in even closer. Our lips were so
close to touching. All I had to do was press against
him.
A loud knock on the door made me jump up in
surprise. Edward slammed his head back so fast to
avoid the otherwise inevitable collision with mine,
that he punched a hole through the bathroom wall
with the back of his head. Bits of plaster showered
us instantly.
"Oops. I'm sorry, guys." Emmett's voice was a
cross between amusement and regret. "Esme
wanted me to tell you that you're going to be late
for school."
"Oh my god Edward! Are you okay?" Instincts took
over when I pulled his head down to examine it.
"Of course I'm okay Bella." He answered gently.
"We'll be right there, Emmett. And you're fixing the
hole in the wall!" Edward replied to his brother in a
normal, but clearly annoyed voice.
"No wonder Alice told me not to knock." Emmett
mumbled to himself.
I chuckled and stood up, brushing bits of plaster
away from my hair with my left hand while holding
my towel up with my right one. As soon as I was
completely vertical though, my hangover
resurfaced with a vengeance.
"Oh." I groaned and closed my eyes.
"Here." Edward handed me a pair of jeans, an
expensive looking shirt, a tight little brown
sweater, pink socks and underwear. "You better
change quickly. We're so late, even I might not be
able to get us to school on time."
He turned around but didn't leave the bathroom. I
sighed and pulled on the clothes. It'd take me too
much time and effort to fight him for the privacy I
wasn't even sure I wanted.
I had never in my life been so grateful for Fork's
rainy weather. Even though the sky was as clouded
as it could get, the small amount of light that
managed to seep through hurt my eyes. Edward
handed me a pair of very expensive looking
shades.
"Here, they're Alice's. Keep them on indoors too,
the fluorescent light will hurt worse than the sun." I
gratefully accepted the sunglasses and got out of
the car. Edward was by my side in a second,
guiding me towards our classroom.
He was right about the lights, they were hell. He
pushed me down gently into my seat and took the
one next to mine. I rested my head over my folded
arms and moaned softly.
"Stay right here, I'm going to go find you an
aspirin." He walked out the door and left me there
to suffer.
"Hi Bella!" Mike's voice was too loud and way too
cheerful for me right then.
"Hi Mike." I mumbled.
"You don't look so hot. Are you okay?" He sounded
genuinely concerned, which is why I made the
mistake of looking up.
"Not really..." But he wasn't listening anymore. He
was staring at the sunglasses.
"Wow, nice shades!" He reached out and took them
right off my face. The white light hit me like
lightning.
"Oh Mike! Give those back!" I moaned and covered
my eyes with my hands.
"Hi Mike! Hi Bella! What's going on?" Jess
approached us quickly. Her voice was even more
annoying than his.
"Look at Bella's sunglasses. Cool eh?" Mike showed
them off proudly.
"Mike, they are just sunglasses. Please give them
back." I still couldn't look up.
"Wow, great knockoff! They look just like the real
thing Bella! Where did you get these?" Jessica
smiled appreciatively.
"Those are original and they belong to my sister.
Please give them back to Bella, Newton."
I hadn't even looked at the glasses closely, but
something told me they were worth more than my
car. Both human teenagers blushed deeply. I was
way too hungover to blush, so I just slipped the
glasses back on and watched as Mike and Jess left
to find their seats.
"Here sweetheart. Take this." He handed me an
aspirin the size of a suppository.
"What exactly do you want me to do with it?" I
raised my eyebrows.
"Swallow it, of course. It is just aspirin, Bella."
The pill was too big and too wide for me to even
consider it. "I can't. I have a really hard time
swallowing pills. Besides, this isn't a pill, it's a
baseball!"
Edward handed me a bottle of water and sighed. "I
can help you."
"How? By swallowing it for me?" I shrieked.
He rolled his eyes. "Do you trust me?"
"Of course." I answered immediately.
"Okay then. Lean your head back."
He supported the back of my head with one hand
and opened my mouth gently with the other.
"Mr. Cullen. What exactly are you doing to Miss
Swan?" The teacher interrupted us.
"She has a terrible migraine. I have to give her this
pill and I have to help her get it down her throat.
She's in severe pain right now." Edward's voice
oozed truth. The teacher could do nothing except
nod and allow him to continue.
He held my head back and took the pill between
his thumb and index fingers. He gently lowered the
aspirin into my mouth but didn't drop it.
"Bella, try to relax your throat okay?" I nodded. He
massaged my neck and breathed very close to me
to keep me calm. Then, he placed the pill at the
very back of my throat and gave me a sip of water.
It went down easily.
"There you go!" He continued to massage my
throat gently. "You'll feel better in no time."
I concentrated on his cool fingers touching my neck
lovingly and sighed. "I already do."
I sat during our global studies class, still nursing
the mother of all hangovers, and tried hard not to
look nervous.
When the teacher handed out the tests I groaned. I
had not paid even an ounce of attention the whole
semester. I mean really, with Edward sitting a foot
away, who would?
I stared down hopelessly at the sheet of paper and
tried to come up with answers that weren't too far
fetched but I was having a hard time reading the
questions. I tried to focus my eyes on the first one
with little success.
I felt a light breeze coming from Edward's direction
and looked up. He was smiling at me. I smiled
back, looked down at my paper and gasped.
The test was completely answered and in my
handwriting! In the bottom right corner of the page
Edward had scribbled a note.
"This is a one time thing. For your next test you will
have to study! I just love you too much to sit here
and watch that confused look on your face. And if
you're wondering how I got so good at imitating
your handwriting, know that I study everything you
do. Love, E."
I smiled gratefully at him and erased the little
message quickly. Then I just had to wait half an
hour for the class to be over. I propped my head on
my folded arms and stared at my beautiful
boyfriend.
"What?" He mouthed.
"I love you." I mouthed back.
He gave me a very cocky smile, "I know."
That afternoon, Alice forced me into a spa once
again. I declined her invitation politely the first
time she asked, but she refused to get no for an
answer.
Edward drove quietly, his hand holding mine all the
way. I was surprised when he announced he
wanted to tag along. He was probably still a bit
nervous about leaving me alone with Alice.
"Hum, Alice? What are we going to do here?" I
asked when we arrived.
"You're getting waxed!" She announced cheerfully.
I stared at her, my mouth wide open. "Drive us
back home please." I didn't even bother with a
reply for my over excited sister-to-be.
"No Bella wait! Do you want to spend the rest of
eternity as a hairy beauty or as a well waxed one?"
My face turned tomato red instantly. Edward
looked away to lessen my discomfort, but
squeezed my hand supportively.
"Come on Bella! Just think, this is the only time
you're going to have to do it... ever! You'll thank
me later!" Alice dragged me out of the car.
Even though I was still against it, a part of me
knew she was right, so I dragged my feet but made
no other comment.
"This whole "getting me ready to die" thing is
making me uncomfortable." I mumbled. Edward
heard me, of course, and rubbed my back gently.
"Bella, if you're having second thoughts we can
push things back until you feel ready..."
"I'm not having second thoughts, Edward. I said it's
making me uncomfortable. In the last week I've
been intoxicated, stuffed, pulled poked and
prodded like never before. Now I'm not
complaining! I'm just saying I'll be glad when it's
over."
"You'll rest when you're dead, Bella. For now, let's
go!" Alice pulled me into a room and closed the
door behind her. Edward stood on the other side of
the door and whispered a "Be safe!" just as Alice
pushed me behind a screen and handed me a red
silk robe.
I changed slowly, dreading the inevitable. I laid
down where Alice indicated me to and waited
nervously while a lady heated up the yellow wax.
"So Bella, now that you're..." Alice stared pointedly
at the white dressed lady, "having a new birthday,
have you thought about how you want it to
happen?"
I frowned "You mean the birthday?"
"No."
"The wedding?"
"Not exactly."
"Oh." I concentrated hard on deciphering her
mischievous look. Realization came fast enough.
"Oh!" I exclaimed. Heat rushed to my cheeks,
making me look the same color as the robe I was
wearing.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to embarrass you. I'm just
trying to make conversation." Alice explained
apologetically.
"No, it's okay. To tell you the truth, I haven't given
it much thought. Right now I'm just trying to get
through my... birthday."
"Oh, well I just figured since you two have been
together for a few months now, and you're
engaged and everything... I thought it might've
come up."
"Just that once when he explained things to me
and told me we'd have to wait."
I had to keep reminding myself that there was a
woman in the room with us. It was hard talking
about our lives in code.
"To tell you the truth," I confessed, "that's one
event I don't want to plan. It'll happen when it
happens, when the time is right."
Alice smiled. "But you've waited this long, don't
you want it to be special?"
"It will be special, no matter how or when it
happens." She was grinning now, it looked like I'd
just given her the answer she'd been hoping for.
"I know exactly what you mean."
"Was Jasper your first?"
"As far as I know, yes."
"Oh. And did it take you guys long to..."
"It was different for us, Bella. I knew I was in love
with him long before I met him in person, and he
knew that the second he saw me. We "ran into
each other" when he was leaving a motel, freshly
showered and wearing a black, button down shirt
and black pants. He was carrying an old copy of
War and Peace. "
She was lost in her story, and I gladly listened. "We
met at the bottom of the stairs, the sun had just
gone down. I walked up to him and said, "You are
the love of my life. Can you feel it?" He stared at
me for what seemed like ages before answering,
"Yes, I can." We spent the rest of the night talking,
about ourselves, our lives, about what I'd seen for
us and what we wanted. It happened that same
night, but we were already very much in love. We
knew it was forever."
I'd gotten so caught up in Alice's memories that I
hadn't even noticed the hot, sticky paste that the
lady had been spreading on my legs. I did,
however, notice when she pulled it off.
"Ouch!" I sat up and grabbed my marred leg.
"Bella?" Edward's alarmed voice sounded right
outside the door.
"Don't you dare come in here Edward Cullen!" Alice
threatened. I could hear his heavy sigh, indicating
he was trying to calm down. "Bella, are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I'm being tortured, but I'm fine."
"Brace yourself honey, here comes the other leg!"
The lady smiled cheerfully. I groaned and laid my
head back.
I walked into the house with a pained look on my
face and my legs spread wide as if I'd been riding a
horse for hours.
Rosalie, who was watching TV on the living room
couch, glanced at me briefly from the corner of her
eye and chuckled. "You could've just shaved, you
know?" I would've been surprise by her
acknowledgment of my presence had she not
sounded so smug.
I turned towards Alice, my eyes wide. "I could've
shaved?"
"It's not the same!" She defended herself.
"It's exactly the same." Rosalie hadn't turned her
eyes away from the television again.
"Well maybe. But you'd never gotten a wax
before!" Alice smiled apologetically.
I was about to reply when Edward wrapped his
arms around my waist and pulled me to him. "Let's
get you home, Bella. It's getting late, I don't want
Charlie to worry."
I mumbled a fine and mentioned to Alice while
Edward carried me out the door. "I know you want
me to try new things, but could we please stay
away from the painful ones?"
I heard Alice chuckle just before Edward closed the
door behind us. "I'll try!"
Charlie and I were enjoying a quiet dinner of meat
loaf and peas when the topic came up.
"So Bells, you're going on that trip with Edward?"
His voice sounded strained. It took him a lot of
effort to try to sound cool with it. He failed
miserably.
"Yeah. We're leaving on Saturday morning." I
shoved a forkful of peas into my mouth and
chewed slowly.
"And when are you coming back?"
"I don't know, but way before school starts again."
"And you're moving out the day after tomorrow or
until you get back?"
"I'll probably just take all my clothes with me on
Saturday, but that's all I'm taking." I crammed a
huge piece of meat into my mouth, trying to put an
end to the conversation. My father was relentless,
though.
"You don't want to take other things? Like your bed
or your computer?"
I shook my head and swallowed as quickly as I
could. "We'll buy new things. Besides, I want to
leave my room intact."
Charlie sighed. He was silent for so long I thought I
was home free.
"Bella, are you sure he's not forcing you into this? If
he's making you do things you don't want to do
just tell me."
I almost spat my peas all over the kitchen table.
Instead I swallowed them all and almost choked to
death. It took three big gulps of milk to get them
all down. "No dad! He's not forcing me into
anything! I'm doing this because we both want to.
It's important to us, to me."
Charlie nodded and continued to eat. Without
looking at me, he mentioned. "I want you to know
your mother and I are no okay with this. We
understand it's your choice and we respect your
decision, but we think you're making a mistake."
I took a deep breath and sighed. "I know, dad."
"Let the record show, I don't like it."
"Duly noted."
My dad picked up his fork again. I just sat there
and left the rest of my dinner untouched.
"Aren't you going to finish that, Bells?" He frowned.
"Erm, no. May I be excused? I think I have a pea
lodged in the back of my throat."
Charlie gave me a half smile. "Of course, honey."
I went to the sink to wash my dishes but he
stopped me. "You look tired, Bella. Why don't you
go to bed and let me clean the kitchen?"
I smiled gratefully at him, thanked him and
escaped to my room. Edward was waiting for me
on my bed.
"Intense." He commented as soon as I stepped
through the door.
"Tell me about it." I mumbled. I looked around for
my pajamas and found them folded on top of my
bed. Edward smiled and handed them to me.
"Come join me." He made room for me and patted
the space beside him.
"Erm, can I have a human minute first? I'm all
sticky from the wax." I couldn't help the blush that
turned my cheeks crimson when I talked about our
hairy afternoon.
Edward smiled, clearly delighted by my
embarrassment, and in a flash got up from the bed
to cup my face with his long hands.
"Take as many as you want." He gave me one
chaste kiss before returning to his statuesque
position on my bed.
I washed my teeth quickly, but it took forever to
get all the remaining wax off my legs. By the time
I'd gotten rid of most of it, my skin was red and
itchy from my furious scrubbing.
My face must've reflected my pain, because as
soon as I walked back into my room, Edward flew
to me, lifted me off the floor and laid me back on
the bed.
"Bella? What's wrong?"
I rolled my pajama bottoms up to my knees and
showed him my legs. "The wax really sticks." I
mumbled.
"Oh, Bella." He ran his cold hands gently up and
down my legs. "I'm going to kill Alice." He growled.
"She just wants me to try everything." I rolled my
eyes. "Not unlike you, I might add."
"And on that note." He reached into his coat pocket
and handed me a chocolate bar.
I groaned and covered my face with my hands.
"You've got to be kidding me. If I eat one more
Butterfinger, chocolate is going to start flowing out
of my ears. If you don't stop feeding me like this,
I'm going to end up a very heavy vampire."
Edward rolled his eyes. "You won't be able to eat
anything during your transformation. Just think of
this as making reserves. Besides, girls nowadays
are too skinny." My 104-year-old boyfriend, ladies
and gentlemen.
"Fine." I took the candy bar from him and chewed
on it slowly. My head was resting on the pillow and
I stared at the ceiling while I ate.
Edward knelt down on the foot of the bed and
rolled my pants up once more to look at my
irritated legs. He took my left ankle in his hands,
lifted up my leg and kissed the inside of my calf
gently. His cold lips made me shiver.
"You, ahem, you're going to kiss that and make it
better?" I pointed at my legs. I was trying to be a
little flirty, I admit, but I didn't have high hopes for
my attempt. I felt ridiculous for even trying.
He did smile, but not in a mocking way. He kissed
the inside of my knee and my whole body shook
under his lips. Even though he was touching my
skin with his very cold hands to soothe it, every
inch he touched burned up under his fingertips.
He dropped my legs softly and climbed up to cover
my body with his own. He took the long forgotten
chocolate that I'd dropped on my pillow and placed
it on the nightstand. With one hand on my waist
and the other one being used to support his
weight, he leaned down and ran a line with his lips
from my forehead to my collarbone and back up.
He lingered, mere inches away from my own lips,
and waited for me to do something about it.
I wrapped my hands around his neck and carefully,
so he'd know I was still in control of myself, I pulled
him to me. We shared a soft, romantic kiss for a
few seconds before he broke it off.
Edward sighed, rolled off me and pulled me on top
of him. I rested my head against his stone-hard
chest and sighed in content. In a movement too
fast for me to catch, he unlocked the chain around
my neck and pulled the ring out.
I gave him my left hand so he could put the
engagement ring on my finger. We both stared at
it, mesmerized.
"In a few days I'll be able to wear it a bit more
often." I commented.
"In a few days we'll have a lot more time to admire
it. Right now you need your sleep."
"In a few days we're going to be spending a lot less
time in bed." I sighed. I was really going to miss
our pre-bedtime chats.
"Or a lot more, just not asleep." Edward winked at
me and I laughed quietly.
We laid there, silently, for a few moments before
something occurred to me.
"Oh my God!" I rolled off him and sat up.
Edward turned on his side to look at me. "What?
Was my comment inappropriate? Because I didn't
mean anything by it..."
"No, no. It's just that... Charlie must think we're
having sex!"
He smiled in a teasing manner "You mean right
now?"
"No, just in general. I mean, think about it! We're
moving in together the day after tomorrow! Who
moves in with someone without having had sex
with that person first? Other than roommates of
course." I rambled.
Edward let out a quiet laugh. "Well, think about it
this way. If it weren't for my... condition, we
probably would have an active sex life."
I blushed deeply just thinking about it. "Would we?"
"Bella, we can hardly keep our hands off each
other as it is!" Even though I was incredibly
embarrassed by the conversation, I managed to
joke. "Oh, aren't you the confident one?"
Edward wrapped his arm around my waist and
pulled me close. "Hey! You were the one who
brought the subject up the first time. And during
our second date, if I remember correctly."
I gasped. "I was just asking a question!"
"Which means a part of you wanted me that way!"
I rolled on my side. I was blushing so much I was
sure he could feel the shift in my body
temperature.
"Don't you?" He asked.
"Don't I what?"
"Want me that way?" He tried to make it sound as
if he were joking, as if he already knew the answer.
But underneath all that cockiness, I detected some
real uncertainty.
I turned back around to face him and placed my
warm hand on his cheek. "Of course I do. I love
you. I'm engaged to you! Heck, I can hardly kiss
you without attacking you! That means I do want to
have that with you someday."
His cocky smiled returned. "At least you won't be
able to pass out on me when it happens."
"Do not underestimate you bedazzling
capabilities."
"Oh, I will bedazzle you, you just won't pass out
from lack of oxygen."
"Smart-ass" I giggled.
"You know you love me."
I rolled myself back on top of him and smiled.
"Yeah, I do."
I woke up on Friday, the last day of school that I
would ever have as a human, and found Edward
staring at me intently.
My good morning came out more like a grunt,
which made him laugh. I cleared my throat and
tried again. "Good morning."
He caressed my exposed neck with his fingertips
and whispered. "Yes, it is."
I frowned at his strange comment. He sighed
before explaining. "You look so beautiful when you
wake up. When you open your eyes and squint at
the light coming through your window. When you
rub your eyes with the back of your hands and
yawn... you look so stunning, so profoundly
perfect."
I smiled gently. "I'll try to look drowsy and
disoriented every once in a while after you change
me, I promise."
He laughed and kissed my lips. "Come on, you
don't want to be late for your last day of school, do
you?"
"No, I guess not." I grumpily got out of bed and
went to the bathroom to change.
Edward drove us to school after a breakfast that
consisted of an omelet, strawberries, orange juice,
toast, pancakes, milk and bacon. During classes I
tried to pay special attention to little details, like
the people around me and the decorations in the
room. I wanted to see everything, really see, one
last time before the change. I was curious to know
if I'd perceive things differently.
Jessica passed me a note during third period. I
opened it gingerly, not knowing what to expect. It
simply said that the girls were going to Port
Angeles that afternoon to look for dresses for the
dance on Saturday and they wanted to know if I'd
like to join them.
The bell rang before I could send the note back and
she hurried over to where I was standing to ask me
in person.
"So, can you come? We had a good time the last
time, didn't we?" She asked eagerly.
"Erm, sure! We did have a nice time. Only I don't
know if today..."
"You should go, Bella." Edward placed his hand on
the small of my back protectively.
I blinked in disbelief. "I should?" I'd thought he
would've wanted to spend that afternoon with me.
"Sure. It sounds like fun! Besides, I have some
errands to run today. We can see each other
tonight." I couldn't believe he was letting me go!
Jessica looked giddy. I was still tempted to say no,
until I saw Angela's face. She was standing right
behind her short friend with a pleading look in her
eyes.
"Erm... okay.
"Good! We're leaving after school. I'll see you in
the parking lot later!" Jess took her books and
walked out of the classroom. Angela just smiled at
me gratefully.
"Thank you. They've been talking about a
makeover for me. Lauren has been chatting non-
stop about highlights and low cut dresses. Maybe
you can help me talk some sense into them."
I knew how pushy Lauren could be, so I was glad
I'd agreed to go. We walked together to the
cafeteria, even though as soon as she noticed
Edward's presence, Angela became as quiet as a
mouse. She waved goodbye to us and went to sit
at her table.
"What are you doing this afternoon?" I asked
Edward as soon as we were seated.
"Well, Alice says it won't rain tonight or tomorrow,
so I'm going to the meadow to get things ready."
He didn't look like he wanted me to ask any more
questions, so I concentrated hard on my gourmet
lunch and decided to let him surprise me.
I started dreading my afternoon without Edward as
soon as the final bell rang. He walked me over to
Jessica's car, whispering all the way. "You better be
careful, Bella. Please watch your step and stay
clear of anything that might fall on your head. Stay
on the sidewalks and cross the streets very
carefully. If you use the escalators, tie your
shoelaces first."
The warnings became more and more bizarre as
we approached the girls. I finally stopped him when
he asked me to check for puddles in the bathroom.
"Edward, I'll be okay. I promise I won't go
anywhere alone and I swear I'll be very careful." I
wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged
him. He stood very still for a moment before his
arms lifted me up a few inches in a crushing
embrace.
"I should send Alice with you." He mumbled.
"Edward, I will be alright. I'll be back soon."
"I don't want anything to happen to you. If I can
keep you alive for the next four days, we're home
free! But you going away from me for a whole day
is making me uneasy."
"You were the one who wanted me to go!" I
reminded him.
He buried his nose in my hair and inhaled deeply,
committing my scent to memory. Then he placed
me on the ground gently. "Come back to me in one
piece."
"I'll try." I gave him a quick kiss and turned around
to join the girls. His hand on my arm stopped me.
"What?" I smiled. He reached into his back pocket
and handed me his credit card.
I stared down at the platinum card in my hand.
"What's this for?" I asked, confused.
"Well, if I remember correctly, you wanted your
transformation to be an elegant affair. I want you
to buy yourself a dress."
I rolled my eyes and tried to give him back the
card. "Don't be ridiculous, Edward."
He shook his head and threw his hands up in the
air. "You have two choices here, beautiful. You can
either find a dress that you like and want to wear
that day, or you can wear whatever Alice buys for
you. Make no mistake, her choice will be a
thousand times more uncomfortable than anything
you get."
I made a face. "Well, I think it'll be too
uncomfortable for me to wear a dress for three
days while I toss and turn in pain, don't you?"
Edward's expression became instantly serious and,
with great regret in his voice, he whispered, "Bella,
you'll be in too much pain to even notice what
you're wearing."
I sighed and placed my hand on his grieving face.
"Fine, I'll get a dress, but I'll pay for it myself."
He shook his head, a hint of a smile appearing on
his lips. "You need to wrap your head around the
fact that this is our money, not mine, but ours. And
there is a lot of it and we are never going to run
out. Even if we did, we don't need money to
survive, it means noting to us. Just enjoy the nice
things that money can buy."
I frowned. "I still don't like it."
"Please." Edward closed my hand around the
plastic card and threw the whole power of his gaze
at me, "for me."
I gulped and nodded. There was nothing I could
deny him when he looked at me like that. He gave
me a lopsided grin that made my heart jump and
whispered, "You better get going. The kids are
waiting."
The three girls standing by Jessica's car stared at
us. Angela had a soft smile on her face, she looked
happy for us. Jess's smile was different. She looked
like she wanted me to spill some dirty secrets to
her later. Lauren seemed impatient and more than
a little jealous.
I nodded at Edward and turned around to leave,
but his hand stopped me once again. "Hey!" I
glanced back at him. "I love you."
I smiled. "I love you too."
He pulled me in for a quick kiss before finally
letting me go.
The girls had seen the credit card when Edward
handed it to me and they ogled it all the way to
Port Angeles.
"I can't believe he gave you his credit card!"
Jessica shrieked for the thousandth time.
"We're going to a wedding with his family soon and
he wants to pay for my dress, since he feels like
he's forcing me to go." I lied easily.
"What's your spending limit?" Lauren asked
without glancing in my direction.
"Humm... I guess I don't have one. Actually, he
probably wants me to get something really nice,
but I hate spending his money." I answered
sincerely with a little bit more information than
necessary simply to bug Lauren. She'd been
making snappy remarks the whole ride and I was
getting a little tired of her.
"That makes sense. He's worried about what his
family will think of you." I had not seen that one
backfiring.
"Nah, he doesn't really care about what I wear. But
his sister, Alice, is obsessed with buying me
expensive clothes! So if I don't get something nice,
she'll just go out and buy me something different."
"I've never seen you in that kind of clothes at
school." She smirked.
"You should see what she makes me put on under
my raincoat."
Lauren didn't reply, instead she changed the
subject to Angela's hair, which sucked for her but I
was glad to have Lauren off my back.
When we got to the store I started feeling bad
about my comments, so I asked the girls to help
me find a cute, but not very expensive, dress.
The choices, however, were very limited. I talked
Jessica into a long blue dress with a matching coat.
Angela decided, much to Lauren's dismay, to wear
the same pink dress she'd gotten last time since
she couldn't use the shoes with anything else.
Lauren bought a short black number that I was
sure she was going to freeze in.
I, however, found nothing. Everything was too big
or too tight, too low or too puffy. Of course I only
had like six choices so I shouldn't have been
surprised.
I plopped down on the floor, still wearing the pale
pink dress that resembled a tutu and sighed. "Is
there anywhere else we can go?"
"Well, there is another store a few blocks down
that we could try. They sell all kinds of clothes
there, but the dresses are kind of expensive."
Jessica shrugged.
"Well we can go and try things on just for kicks!"
Angela suggested. "You know, like when we were
younger?"
I hesitated. I didn't want to spend too much money.
Plus I really wanted to get home to Edward.
"Come on, Bella. You might find something nice on
sale!" Angela pleaded.
"Well, I'm game." I finally agreed.
"Let's go!"
The store was way too cool for Port Angeles, if you
ask me. Trendy clothes, shoes and accessories
adorned every inch of the brightly lit
establishment. Colorful posters and funky furniture
surrounded the part where the dresses were
located.
Angela helped me pick out a few while the other
girls strolled over to a shelf full of screened t-shirts.
We somehow managed to find five garments that
looked like they might fit me and weren't too
expensive. I went to try them on by myself.
The changing rooms had no doors, only shiny blue
curtains that overflowed into the bright, pink
carpet. I went behind curtain number two and
stripped down to my underwear.
The first dress was way too puffy. The second one
itched. The third one was green and it contrasted
horribly with my skin. The fourth one made me look
like a popcorn. I was pulling up the straps of the
very last dress, light pink and backless, when I
heard the curtain slide open.
In the moments that followed I thought about two
possibilities. It could either be Angela with more
dresses, or Edward and his overprotective
tendency to follow me everywhere. I was rooting
for the second one.
I heard the embarrassed gasp before I even turned
around, but once I did, I found myself face to face
with Jacob Black.
"Oh my god!" I clutched the dress to my chest,
grateful that I'd pulled it on before he walked in.
Jacob swore, stumbled backwards and fell over a
rail of unwanted clothes. The rail fell on his head
with a dull thud.
"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! I thought this was the
men's... oh I'm sorry." He rubbed the back of his
head, which I could barely see under all the clothes
that had fallen on him.
"It's okay Jacob, they're coed." I knelt down next to
him.
He removed a halter-top size 15 from the top of his
head and looked up at me. "Bella?" He turned so
red his face matched the satin skirt he'd somehow
managed to tangle himself up in.
"Hi there. Nice fall." I stood up and offered him a
hand. He took it gratefully.
"I'm so sorry I barged in like that... the lady said
the second stall was empty and I didn't even think
about checking..."
"It's okay. I was fully clothed, no harm done." I
squeezed his shoulder and he blushed all over
again.
"Hey, you look really nice! Are you getting that for
the dance?"
In all the commotion, I'd forgotten to look at myself
in a mirror. I turned to face the full length one by
the door and grinned. The dress fit perfectly. It had
a low back and a high, square front. The straps
were thick. The top hugged my non-existing curves
nicely. It flared out right below the waist, reaching
all the way down to my toes. The light pink fabric
was really soft. All in all, the dress was surprisingly
comfortable.
"No, I'm getting it for something else. What are you
doing here anyway?"
"I'm buying a new shirt for the big day."
I frowned. "The big day?"
"Yeah, tomorrow."
My frown deepened. It wasn't the first time Jacob's
comments had made me feel uncomfortable.
Flashes of the Halloween dance and his teasing but
insightful chitchat about vampires flooded me with
uncertainty. "Hum... tomorrow?"
"Yeah! The dance. My white shirt has a huge
grease stain on it, so I can't wear it anymore."
I took a deep breath. Relax, Bella. You're being
paranoid. I told myself. I turned away from Jacob so
he wouldn't sense my discomfort and made a big
deal out of checking the dress I was wearing for
any imperfections. But when I caught my reflection
in the mirror again, all my worries faded away. I
found myself thinking only one thing. That was the
dress I'd be wearing the day I died.
I was unusually quiet during the ride home. Jessica
and Lauren were chatting loudly and singing along
to the radio. I just rested my head against the cool
window and sighed. That was probably the last
time I'd be able to hang out with friends who
weren't part of my family. But I wasn't sad. I was
confused. Confused because I didn't feel bad or
weird about it. I wanted nothing more than to go
home and spend some time in Edward's arms,
maybe even show Alice my new dress. But wasn't I
supposed to want more friends? Wasn't I supposed
to feel sad about leaving everything behind?
Angela interrupted my thoughts. "Bella? Are you
okay? You've barely said a word since we left the
store!" Leave it to Angela to be perceptive.
"I'm fine, I'm just tired and really glad school is
over."
"Hey you know what? A bunch of us are going
camping next week, you should come!"
The lie that I told next came out as a reflex. I'd
been repeating it to my parents for so long I
blurted it out without thinking. "I can't, I'm going
on a cruise with Edward."
"What?" Jessica turned around completely to stare
at me, a difficult task since I was sitting right
behind her.
"Jessica, look out!" Lauren's warning came too late.
Jess tried to avoid the huge branch in the middle of
the road but she couldn't, not completely. The back
tire on the left side smashed against the wood. We
heard a loud snap and the car swerved out of
control. Everyone screamed. Jessica hit the breaks
just as the car went off the road. I got thrown
sideways and slammed my head painfully against
the window.
Then, it was over. The four of us sat there,
unmoving and breathing heavily, for what seemed
like an eternity. Finally, Angela unbuckled her
seatbelt and asked urgently.
"Is everyone alright?"
We all grumbled affirmative answers. My head hurt
terribly, and I could smell the coppery scent of the
few drops of blood that were oozing out of a small
cut on my forehead. I wiped the wetness with the
back of my hand and got out of the car quickly to
get some fresh air.
The rest of the girls followed me gingerly. Jessica
and Lauren tried to use their cell phones, but
couldn't get a signal. I inspected the car and
discovered with relief that it seemed relatively
unharmed, except for a flat tire.
"Damn it!" Jessica, who was shaking from the
shock, threw her cell phone against a tree and
buried her face in her hands. "My parents are going
to kill me."
"Jess it's okay," I tried to make her feel better.
"No, it's not. It's already dark, we don't have a car,
we can't call for help and no one ever uses this
road!" Lauren was just as panicked as her friend.
"No, it's fine. It's just a flat tire, I think. Jess, do you
have a spare?"
She nodded and wiped away the tears of
frustration that had rolled down her cheeks. "In the
trunk."
The girls helped me get everything out. I knelt
down next to the damaged wheel and took the lug
wrench between my cold hands.
"Are you sure you know how to do this?" Angela,
who was holding the flashlight, asked.
"In theory. I've seen it done a few times." I tried to
loosen the lug nuts, but the sleeve of my jacket got
caught between the lug nut and the lug wrench. I
groaned and pulled my jacket up, past my elbows.
I got one of the lug nuts unscrewed, but my jacket
got caught again when I tried the next one.
Grumbling, I took my jacket off and threw it over a
rock in frustration.
"Hey look! Someone's coming." Lauren pointed at a
car, slowly driving up the road.
My heart swelled with hope for a moment. I was
hoping for my knight in shining armor, of course,
but instead, the person who got off the car was
none other than Jacob Black.
"Hey, you guys need some help?" He asked Lauren
and Jessica.
"Actually, yes. Your vehicle expertise could come in
handy." I was still kneeling in front of the tire, so he
hadn't seen me.
"Bella?" He stared at me, clearly startled.
"We seem to be running into each other a lot
today." I smiled at him from my crouched position.
"No kidding. Let me take a look." He took the jack
from Angela and joined me.
He whistled softly. "This is bad."
"The tire?"
"Yes and no. Yes because you can't really replace a
flat tire with one just as flat." He pointed at the
spare we'd leaned against the car. It was as flat as
a pancake.
"How did I not notice that before?" I blushed
scarlet. Way to go, Bella.
"I have one in my car that'll fit, but the tire is the
least of your problems. It seems to me like your car
and that tree got into a nasty fight. I'm sorry to
say, the tree won."
I was just about to ask him to explain when Jessica
spoke. "Hey! Someone else is coming."
I looked up. The headlights were approaching us at
an unbelievable speed. I stood up, knowing full well
who'd be getting out of that car.
He jumped out before the Volvo had completely
stopped.
"Bella?" I could tell how much effort it cost him to
run to me at a human speed.
"Edward." My chest fluttered with relief. As soon as
I saw him I felt safe and calm once again.
When he reached me, he wrapped his arms around
me and pulled me in for a fierce hug. "Oh god,
Bella are you okay? God, oh god I was so scared. I
never should've let you go alone." He mumbled
against my hair.
"I'm fine. It looks worse than it is."
He held me away from him, his hands framing my
face. "You're bleeding."
I noticed he'd stopped breathing. I could tell he
was having a hard time with my open wound
because of the way his eyes seemed to jump from
hungry and desperate to remorseful. I shivered
under his gaze.
"Look at you. You're freezing!" He took of his coat
and slipped it on me in one fluid movement. I was
about to tell him that I had a jacket around there
somewhere when I caught a whiff of his coat.
Edward's wonderful, mouth watering scent
surrounded me completely, so I kept my mouth
shut.
He was still struggling with himself. He pulled me
to him again and closed his eyes.
"Are you okay?" I whispered against his chest.
"Give me a moment."
After a few seconds he pushed me back gently and
tore a piece of his shirt off. My eyes widened in
surprise.
"The cut is not deep. In fact, it's stopped bleeding."
He held the piece of his shirt up to my mouth.
"Lick, please."
"Excuse me?" I frowned.
"Lick this so I can clean the blood off."
"That's disgusting." I wrinkled my nose. "Can't you
lick it?"
"No." He stared at me pointedly. "Please, Bella. Just
do it."
I understood then. It had taken me way too long to
do so. Maybe I'd hit my head harder than I'd
originally thought.
I used my saliva to wet the fabric and then tried to
take it from Edward's hand. "Here, let me do it."
"No, it's okay." He lifted my chin with one hand and
cleaned my forehead with the other. "I want to do
this. It's good practice for tomorrow anyway." I
smiled up at him. He lowered his hand, the one
cleaning my skin, and gazed into my eyes.
"Alice told me. I was so scared." He whispered.
"I know, but I'm okay. We just bounced around a
little."
He framed my face with his hands and pulled me in
for a hard, passionate kiss. He pressed his lips
against mine harder than he ever had. His hands
trembled against my skin and I finally realized just
how worried he'd been. His breath comforted me
like nothing else could, and my heart pounded like
it always did when he was around.
"Hum, guys? I hate to interrupt, but can the car be
fixed?" Jessica blushed profusely when she asked.
"Nope." Jacob wiped his grease-covered hands on a
rag and stood up. Edward seemed momentarily
startled to see him there, but he recovered quickly.
Jacob proceeded to tell us exactly why the car
needed to be towed. I, of course, understood none
of it, but Edward seemed to agree with him.
"Jacob, are you going into town?" Edward asked.
Jacob flinched a little. Edward's deep voice had
somehow sounded incredibly harsh.
"Well, I wasn't planning to, but I could..."
"No, don't bother. I'll take the girls home." Edward
threw the tire and tools carelessly into Jessica's
trunk and turned to my three nervous-looking
friends.
"Come on. We can call someone from the road."
"Bye Bella!" Jacob waved enthusiastically.
"Bye." I got into the car and Edward closed the
door behind me. The girls got in quietly.
Edward started the car. I placed my hand on top of
his before he could switch to first gear. "Can I ask
you a favor?"
"Anything." Edward's stare was still hard. He was
angry, just not with me.
"Can you drive under the speed limit? We're all
pretty shaken up."
He gave me a look in protest. "I'll drive slower than
usual, but not that slow. I want to get you home as
soon as possible."
"We'll get there soon enough." I pleaded, but he
just shook his head. "I want Carlisle to take a look
at you."
I felt all warm inside when he expressed his
concern like that, but he was making too big a deal
out of the incident.
"You know I'm okay." You've been through med
school twice I wanted to say.
"Can you please just let my father examine you?"
He stared pointedly at me, reminding me of our
audience in the back seat.
"Fine. Just drive slow."
"Yes ma'am."
Once we dropped everyone off, he turned the car
around to drive to his house.
"Hum, Edward? I think I want to go to Charlie's."
"You promised you'd let Carlisle check you over."
He reminded me without taking his eyes off the
road.
"I know but I'm not even bleeding anymore."
"You could have internal wounds."
"From that? Edward, it wasn't that bad!"
He finally turned to face me. His hand caressed my
cheek tenderly. "I can never be too careful with
you."
"Well, can't you check me over? You've gone to
med school."
He sighed in defeat. "Fine, but if I find anything
suspicious I'm taking you to Carlisle."
I agreed quickly, glad I'd won that one. It wasn't
that I didn't want his paternal figure to look at me. I
just wanted to have dinner with my father one last
time.
We parked in front of the quiet house. "I'll go
upstairs after dinner. You can do all the prodding
you want then."
"Oh no, no, no. You go in, explain to your father
that you had some car trouble, then go upstairs to
take a shower. I'll be waiting in the bathroom."
"Edward..."
"No, it's either that or I drive us home right now."
It did not escape me, the way he wanted us to go
home, to his house.
"Fine." I knew he meant it, so I saw no point in
arguing. He kissed me softly and sent me on my
way.
The door was unlocked, but I walked in noisily to
make my presence known.
"Bella? Is that you?"
"Yes dad." I walked into the kitchen where he
stood, drinking a glass of soda. His eyes widened
and the glass slipped from his hands when he saw
me.
"Oh my God, Bella! Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, dad." He rushed over to me and reached
out as if to touch my face, but thought better of it
and leaned back uncomfortably.
"What happened?"
"A flat tire, driving back from Port Angeles. I just
bumped my head, that's all."
"You bumped your head? Were you wearing a
seatbelt?"
"Yes dad." Why had he acted so surprised when I
told him about the head injury? I leaned down to
check my reflection in the oven door and gasped. I
was completely covered in mud, my hair had twigs
tangled in it, I was wearing Edward's jacket, which
looked huge on me and, to top it all off, I realized
I'd left my own raincoat in the middle of nowhere.
"Oh, well we tried to change the tire ourselves.
Lucky for us, Jacob and Edward drove by."
"Why don't you go clean up? We can talk about this
over dinner. I'll heat up some leftovers for us."
I smiled at him gratefully and rushed up the stairs.
My feet hadn't even touched the last step when
Edward's strong arms were already sweeping me
up.
"What took you so long? I was about to go down
there and get you myself."
He sat me down by the sink and removed my
shoes and socks before I could protest.
"Well, I look worse than I originally thought. Of
course Charlie had questions."
"Of course." Edward mumbled. "Raise your arms."
"Excuse me?" I frowned.
"Raise your arms please." I reluctantly did as I was
told. To my surprise, it hurt.
Edward lifted up my shirt. My arms shot out to stop
him without thinking.
"Bella," he sighed, "I need to look at your ribs. Can
you please cooperate? Or if it makes you too
uncomfortable I can go get..."
"No, it's fine. It was a reflex" Edward nodded and
took a hold of my shirt again. I could've taken it off
myself, but the effort did hurt a little.
His cold fingers grazed the tender skin of my
abdomen, making me shiver. He removed the
piece of clothing gently, with great care.
Once he'd freed me from the clothes, he flinched
visibly.
I looked down at myself, trying not to blush too
hard considering I was wearing only a plain, white
bra. A big, purple bruise was already starting to
form where the seatbelt had been.
"Bella, I'm going to have to touch you." His warm
voice washed calm over me. I nodded and closed
my eyes.
He ran his fingers over the bruise. That felt nice,
until he pressed down. I stiffened a moan. His
breath caught in his throat. "I'm sorry, Bella. I'm so
sorry." He kept apologizing while his hands
checked me over.
Finally, he exhaled exhaustedly, not from physical
exertion, of course, but from emotional distress.
"Nothing's broken." He announced triumphantly.
"Would it have mattered?"
"What?"
I tucked my hair behind my ear. "If something had
been broken? It's all going to be over tomorrow
anyway."
Edward turned around and started filling the tub. "I
don't think you're fully aware of what's going to
happen tomorrow."
"What makes you say that?"
"You're too calm. I don't think it's sunk in yet."
I didn't reply because I knew he was probably right.
Once the tub was full of hot, bubbly water, he
asked; "Would you like me to leave?"
"No, you can stay. Just turn around while I get in."
He did so, respectfully.
I allowed the hot water to cover and relax me. I
leaned my head back and closed my eyes. After a
moment, Edward started cleaning my face with a
wet cloth.
"Bella?"
"Hmm?"
"We need to talk."
I opened my eyes wearily. "About what?"
"About what's going to happen, about how we're
going to handle it. But not right now. Your father is
coming up the stairs." He placed a cold finger on
my lips to silence my reply.
"Bella? Are you okay in there?" Charlie knocked
twice.
"I'm fine, dad."
"Good. Just checking. Hurry up, dinner is getting
cold."
I took a deep breath and submerged myself in the
bubbles. It was time to say goodbye to my father.
"Dad?"
"Yes, Bells?" He picked up another slice of pizza
and dropped it on his plate. The leftovers had not
been good enough, apparently.
"I'm leaving tomorrow morning." He nodded. "Do
you know where your passport is?"
"Yes. I have it all ready."
"Have you packed?"
"Erm... Not exactly."
"Do you want any help?"
"No, I can do it."
He nodded again before devouring half a slice in
one bite. "I want you to know, Bella." He
interrupted the silence, "that you can always come
back home. Your room will be here, in case you
ever want it back."
"Thanks dad." I felt deeply touched by his support.
"Shouldn't you go pack or something?" He tried to
lighten the mood.
"Yeah." I rinsed my plate and turned around to
leave, but something stopped me.
"Dad?"
"Yes, Bella?"
"I love you."
His face softened visibly when he turned to me and
said. "I love you too, kiddo."
Saying goodbye to my mother was an entirely
different thing. Especially since it was done over
the phone, while Edward packed my clothes.
My mom gave me all kinds of crazy advice.
Somewhere between the "take matches with you
to the bathroom" and the "rub some sunscreen
behind your ears" she asked me to be careful,
extra careful. I could tell she wasn't just talking
about my clumsiness, which made me turn tomato
red, even more than usual because Edward was
listening to every word. She also asked something
of me that I would not be able to give. Right before
we hung up, she said. "Try to come back in one
piece, and alive" She'd been joking, of course, but
nevertheless I had a hard time saying yes.
Edward was sitting on the foot of the bed when I
hung up. "Bella?"
"Yes?"
"Come here for a moment. I need to talk to you."
I frowned, but walked over to him and sat down on
his lap anyway. "What is it?"
"There is something that I don't think you've
considered yet."
"What?"
He tucked a strand of my hair behind my ear
before continuing. "Well, remember all those
months ago, when I was explaining how the whole
blood lust thing works?"
"Yeah?"
"That night, I told you a very big truth. Everyone
falls off the wagon." My frown deepened. "What I
mean is, at some point you might slip up, you have
to be aware of that fact. You have to live with the
idea that you might someday kill someone. Are you
aware? Prepared? Can you bear the possibility of
someday taking human life?"
The way he said those things made me feel like
he'd been carrying that doubt around for a while.
To be quite honest, I had not thought about that at
all, it hadn't even occurred to me! The sole idea of
one day being put in that position terrified me.
I froze on his lap, more scared than I let on, and
tried to rationalize the situation. I calmed myself
down quickly. If I showed any doubt, he would
probably refuse to change me. So instead, I said, "I
can kill people while still being human. Just driving
a car means I could potentially crush anyone who
crosses my path. Accidents happen to humans
too."
Edward shook his head and smiled sadly. "You
know it's not the same thing."
"Yes, it is." I replied stubbornly.
"Fine, I just wanted you to know that the possibility
exists."
He laid down on the bed, with me still on top of
him, and kissed me. "You should sleep."
"Can I ask you something first?"
"Of course." He shifted us around so the bed
sheets covered us. I rested my cheek on his stone
chest.
"When you showed up today to rescue me," He
grinned and interrupted, "As always."
"As always." I agreed. "You seemed genuinely
surprised to see Jacob there."
"That child bugs me. I hate it when he's that close
to you. To be honest, I was a little startled to see
him there. No one was thinking about him."
"What do you mean?"
"Well I was desperate to see if you were okay, but
the three stupid girls could only think about what
their parents were going to say. Eventually, Angela
saw you bleeding, which only scared me more. But
no one paid much attention to Jacob."
"Couldn't you read his thoughts?"
"Once I realized he was there, sure. I was just too
preoccupied with you to pay attention. I was really
worried Bella... I felt..."
I sat up and leaned closer to his face. "What?"
"I was so scared, terrified that you were really hurt,
that I could lose you." To my complete surprise, he
started to shake.
"Edward?"
"I just wanted to give you one last day with your
friends, one last afternoon to be human. But it was
stupid of me. I should've followed you. We're so
close, so close and I could've lost you!"
I hadn't realized before then just how worried he'd
been. "Hey, Edward hey!" I straddled his chest and
undid the top button of the white shirt that I wore
to bed every day. I took his hand and placed it over
my racing heart. "I'm okay! I'm alive! I'm right here
with you and I am never going to leave you."
He sat up. I readjusted myself to sit on his lap.
"Can you promise me that, Bella?"
"I will if you promise the same thing."
He wrapped his arms around me and pressed me
close to his chest. "I swear I will never leave you."
"I swear I'll be with you forever." I realized as I
spoke, that tears were slowly rolling down my
cheeks.
"Who needs wedding vows?" He joked and I
laughed quietly.
"Come on. You really should sleep." He laid us
down once again.
"Wait, I want to try something new."
"Okay." He frowned.
"If this is going to be the last time I sleep with you."
I motioned for him to sit up, which he did with a
confused look on his face. I took the hem of his
sweater between my hands and pulled it slowly off
him. He stared at me in complete awe but didn't
protest when I unzipped his slacks.
I was blushing profusely, of course, but still
managed to get the pants off with his help. He sat
there, on my bed, in all his glorious godlikeness,
wearing only his dark blue boxers.
"Could you... hum... close your eyes?" It took me
an enormous amount of effort to stop staring at
him long enough to ask that. He covered his eyes
with one hand and I quickly stripped down to my
underwear. I'd worn a sports bra to bed that night,
in anticipation for that moment.
I crawled under the covers before letting him know
it was okay to look again. I pulled him on top of me
slowly, not wanting to make any sudden moves.
"Oh Bella." He whispered against my lips. "I'm not
sure this is a good idea."
"I just want to feel your skin against mine." I
whispered back.
He kissed me then, gently, passionately and
lovingly. I poured my heart and soul into that one
kiss. When we broke apart, he rolled on his side
next to me and hugged me to his body tightly. My
legs intertwined with his. He took a deep breath,
taking in my scent, and placed one of his hands on
my neck, feeling my strong pulse with his
fingertips.
"Hum to me, Edward."
He kissed my forehead tenderly before humming
my lullaby.
I woke up hours before sunrise. Something wasn't
right. I sat up and allowed myself a few seconds to
adjust to the darkness. I didn't see him at first,
sitting still as a stone on my rocking chair, but once
my sleep clouded eyes cleared, I was able to see
the outline of his body.
I noticed even his shadow looked anguished.
"You're having doubts." It wasn't a question. My
statement sounded rough from being the first
words to leave my throat in hours. He didn't
answer. It was bound to happen. I'd been expecting
it all day.
I got out of bed slowly, throwing his shirt over my
almost bare body before climbing into his lap. His
arms automatically wrapped themselves around
my waist. "There is nothing I can say to reassure
you that I haven't already said before. This is what
I want. It's what we need, Edward."
"I know." He finally answered. "It's just that, as I
was watching you sleep for the last time I started
wondering if this is really what's best for you."
"You know it is."
"Do I? Think about it, Bella. You'll never eat, drink
or sleep again. You'll never blush, you'll never have
another human minute."
I rested my head on his chest. After a few minutes
of silence, I said, "I've been thinking about all of
this myself and I've come to a simple conclusion."
"Oh really? What is that?"
"I don't think I was ever meant to stay human."
I could feel Edward's body tensing up beneath me.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I'm the only mind you can't ready and the
only person that can resist Jasper's gift as far as we
know. I'm not even sure Alice can really see my
future unless it's tied to someone else's."
Edward pulled back to look at my face, confusion
written all over him. "Remember the whole James
thing? I decided hours before leaving for the airport
exactly how I was going to get away from Alice and
Jasper. I formed a plan the moment I knew where
you'd be arriving and yet, Alice could only see me
in the ballet studio, where my decisions combined
with James's."
Edward frowned. "Have you noticed anything
else?"
I shrugged "Just that I've never formed part of the
human world and that I feel much more at ease
when I'm surrounded by blood sucking vampires,
which I'd consider a huge sign on it's own."
Edward sighed. He lifted me up and crawled back
into bed with me. "Sleep, Bella. You'll need your
rest for tomorrow."
I tossed the shirt to the ground again and snuggled
against him. "I love you." I whispered.
"I exist for you." Edward's reply was the last thing I
heard before drifting back to sleep.
I opened my eyes again when I felt little butterfly
kisses on the nape of my neck. I shivered
uncontrollably.
"I'm sorry, am I making you uncomfortable?" His
deep, enticing voice made me tingle.
"Quite the opposite." I admitted, which encouraged
him to continue. He planted kisses down my back
and turned me gently on my stomach. He caressed
my spine with his fingertips, provoking another
wave of shivers.
"I'm going to miss the warmth." He whispered.
I turned on my back to look at him. "Well, think of
what you'll be gaining. A girlfriend that doesn't
break."
He smiled at me. "It does have its advantages."
I suddenly noticed that he'd pulled the sheets down
to my waist, which left my abdomen and sports bra
completely exposed to him. I flushed tomato red
instantly.
He laughed. "I'm going to miss that too."
"I'm not." I mumbled.
"Hey, the sleeping in undergarments was your
idea, remember?"
"It sounded a lot more reasonable when it was
pitch black in here."
I looked around for his shirt, but never got a
chance to put it on. Out of nowhere, I found myself
on my back, with the covers on top of me.
Edward was nowhere to be seen.
"Edwa..."
"Shh, lie down!" His voice came from somewhere
unknown. I barely had time to close my eyes
before the door swung open.
Charlie walked over to me and placed a hand on
my shoulder. "Bella? Sweetie?"
"Yes dad?" I mumbled as if he'd just woken me up.
"I'm leaving for work. I just wanted to say
goodbye."
"Oh..." I wanted to get up and say goodbye to him
properly, but I was lying there in my underwear!
"Well, goodbye. Take care, Bella. Try not to fall
overboard."
I smiled at him. He stood there, uncomfortably, for
a few moments before turning around to leave.
"Dad?"
"Yes Bella?"
I raised my arms like a little kid and he willingly sat
down on the bed and hugged me without forcing
me to sit up. "Goodbye, Dad."
"Goodbye, Bella."
Tears filled my eyes as I watched him walk away.
Once he'd left, I wrapped the bed sheet around my
body and got up to look for something to wear. His
cold arms around me stopped me in my tracks.
"Hey, are you okay?"
I leaned back against his body and sighed, "I will
be."
"Good." He turned me around to face him and
slipped the chain off my neck. Gently, he placed
the engagement ring on my finger. "Wear it today
okay?"
"Okay." I smiled up at him.
I grabbed my toiletries and headed for the
bathroom, but Edward stopped me once again.
"Bella?"
"Yes?"
"May I be with you while you get ready today?"
One look at his deep, pleading eyes and he had me
convinced. "Sure." I knew it was something he
really wanted to do. More than that, it was
something that he needed.
He followed me to the bathroom and adjusted the
temperature of the shower while I brushed my
teeth. Then, he turned away while I undressed and
hopped in. Once the curtain was properly drawn,
he sat down next to the sink and watched my
shadow while I washed my hair.
"Will I lose consciousness?" I asked out of the blue.
"From the pain? No."
It made no sense to me. Didn't people usually faint
when they experienced too much pain? Edward
answered as if he'd been reading my thoughts.
"The venom keeps you awake."
"Why?"
"Fear makes the blood taste sweeter."
I tried to repress my shudder, but I'm sure he
caught it. We were silent for the rest of my shower.
I wrapped a towel around my body and stepped
out. Edward was right there to catch me when I
slipped.
I brushed my hair methodically while trying to think
of something to say. "Hey, I haven't had that
nightmare in days!" I commented.
"And you'll never have the chance to have it
again."
"You say that like it's a bad thing."
Edward took the brush from my hand and took
over. I stood there while he untangled each strand
of hair.
Once I was tangle-free, I went into my room to
change. I sat down on the bed and grabbed a pair
of jeans, but Edward stopped me before I could pull
them on. He pushed me back gently until my head
hit the soft pillow and covered my body with his
own.
"Edward, what..."
"Shh..." He silenced me. He closed his eyes and
pressed his cheek against my chest. "Can we stay
like this for a few minutes? One last time."
I nodded and ran my hands through his hair in the
way I knew he loved. We laid there, in each other's
arms until my stomach decided to growl. Laughing,
he sat up and allowed me to get dressed before
carrying me downstairs.
For my last meal, I had a little bit of everything.
Eggs, toast, pastries, chicken, beef, fish, pie, soda,
milk, juice... I took a single bite from every dish
and ended up stuffed like a turkey. Edward stared
at me intently while I ate, committing to memory
every detail of my face.
Once we were done with the food I went to use the
bathroom while he finished packing my clothes. He
met me downstairs a little before noon.
"Are you ready?" He stood outside, next to his car,
and extended his hand towards me. I looked back
into the empty house and closed the door behind
me, leaving the key under the eaves.
"Yes." I took his hand and let him guide me over to
the car. "I am ready."
We went to his house, our house I guess, to drop
off my things. I changed into my dress in Alice's
bathroom while she chatted non-stop about all the
things we'd do after my transformation. When I
emerged wearing the pink dress she smiled and
kissed both my cheeks. "You're definitely getting
better at the shopping thing."
I rolled my eyes "Will you help me with my
makeup?"
"Don't wear any. You look perfect just like that."
I stared at myself in the mirror. My hair was
straight and shiny, my face clear and clean. I was
barefoot and the soft fabric of the dress pooled
around my feet.
"I look... wild." I said without thinking. Alice came
to stand behind me and smiled "You look free."
I smiled up at her. "Fine, let's go then."
She handed me a matching jacket and some shoes
for the ride before hugging me goodbye. "Jasper,
Rosalie, Emmett and I are going hunting. We'll go
far, because it's not safe to hunt in the woods while
you camp out in the meadow. Esme and Carlisle
will be here in case you need them."
She pulled me closer and whispered in my ear
"Everything will go as planned. I'll see you on the
other side, sis."
I was too choked up to speak, so instead I hugged
her tighter.
Jasper shook my hand before leaving. As close as
we'd gotten over the past few months, he still
found it hard to be around me. Emmett lifted me in
the air and gave me a big bear hug. Rosalie
nodded in my direction before walking out the
door, which was way more than I expected from
her.
I waved at them, my family, from the porch.
Edward wrapped his arms around my waist and
whispered. "It's time."
I said my goodbyes to Esme, who reminded us
she'd be on call 24/7. Carlisle gave us three cell
phones, in case the batteries ran out. He stared at
Edward for a few seconds, probably giving him
some last minute instructions. Edward nodded
before placing his hand on the small of my back
and guiding me out the door.
We drove to the meadow in silence. Once we got
there, he ran over to my side of the car and
opened the door for me. As soon as I got out, he
wrapped a blanket around me and lifted me up,
cradling me to his chest like a princess.
"Edward?"
"We have to run. I don't want you to get cold."
I hid my face in his neck and allowed him to run us
to our meadow. I opened my eyes when I felt him
lowering me into something soft. It was a bed, a
huge bed surrounded by trees and snow. It looked
like something out of a fairytale.
"Wow, Edward..."
He tucked me in carefully. "Did I tell you that you
look beautiful today?"
I shook my head. He took off the coat of his dark
suit and rolled up the sleeves of his blue shirt. "You
look more beautiful than ever."
I blushed scarlet, which made him smile. His smile
reflected so much sorrow, though, so much pain
and sadness that it almost made me back out.
Almost, but not quite.
He sat me up to help me out of my coat. Then laid
me back down again and started explaining. "We're
not exactly sure of how this works, but we believe
the faster the venom gets to your heart, the faster
the transformation. I'm going to bite your neck and
your wrists. Hopefully, things will go a little
quicker."
I gulped and nodded, my throat felt too dry to
speak. "Don't be afraid." He whispered. "I will be
able to stop." I could tell he was trying to convince
himself just as much as he was trying to convince
me.
"I am not afraid." I finally managed to say. "I'm
ready."
He leaned down and kissed me softly. I kissed him
back with as much intensity as the situation would
allow. In spite of myself, tears rolled down my
cheeks.
He brushed them away with his fingertips. "Bella,
we don't have to do this."
"We have to and we want to. I'm ready Edward."
He nodded and kissed me again. This time, there
was no point in holding back. For the first time
ever, I felt his tongue lightly grazing my lips. I gave
him entrance and gasped. Sensations that had
never gone through my body before filled me,
making me dizzy from the love and intensity of
that one kiss.
When we finally parted, his body was shaking with
emotion. He laid down next to me and placed his
lips over the tender skin of my neck.
"I love you." He whispered.
"I can tell."
I felt his sad smile against my skin moments before
his teeth touched my throat in one deadly kiss.
Death Bed
WARNING: THIS CHAPTER IS RATED T FOR
VIOLENCE
He nodded. His body shook with emotion. He laid
down next to me and placed his lips over the
tender skin of my neck.
"I love you." He whispered
"I can tell."
I felt his sad smile against my skin moments before
his teeth grazed my throat with one deadly kiss.
The bite itself wasn't as painful as I thought it
would be. His teeth were so sharp he slid through
my skin like butter. What I felt next was something
so strange, so amazingly different I can't really
describe it. When he touched his lips to my throat
and drank from me I felt connected to him in a way
I never had before. It was as if I were becoming a
part of him. As if I were giving myself up to him
completely and willingly, which I was, in a way. My
life, or rather my death, was completely in his
hands from that point on.
I felt his tongue against my small wound; drinking
me so fast I didn't even get a chance to smell the
blood. I started to feel weak, lifeless. I must admit
a very tiny part of me was afraid he wouldn't be
able to stop.
I could feel his struggle. I could sense him, battling
against all instincts. After just a few moments, he
pulled away from me. He roared in pain and
frustration. His eyes rolled to the back of his head
when he threw his face upwards in an attempt to
regain some control.
"Edward." I whispered.
My voice seemed to help. He looked down on me
with fear in his wild eyes. I lifted my wrist towards
him weakly and, in a very small voice, said,
"Hurry."
Shaking from pain and fear, he took my delicate
arm in his strong hands and caressed my veins
with his lips. That time I was able to see him when
he used his teeth to slide my wrist open.
He kept his eyes on me while he drank. Even
though he was slowly draining the life out of me,
and even though from the corner of his mouth I
could see a drop of blood threatening to fall on my
brand new dress, he was still the most beautiful
creature I had ever seen. In fact at that moment
when his instincts collided with his humanity, he
looked more enchanting than ever before.
I had never seen him like that, so in battle with
himself, so powerfully determined to stay calm. His
eyes were starting to change. I saw it happen. They
slowly went from the warm color I was so used to,
to the vibrant burgundy I'd seen only a couple of
times in my life.
When his teeth left my skin, I reached up with my
other hand to wipe away the small drop of my
blood on his bottom lip. My hand never reached
him, for at that precise moment, the burning
began.
At first, I felt as if someone had skinned me alive
and poured salt all over me. It was a pain so sharp,
so intense, I lost all control of my body. My back
arched, lifting me from the bed against my will.
With every thump of my heart, the scorching
sensation spread further. I'd told myself
repeatedly, before the whole thing started, that I
would try to keep myself from screaming so
Edward wouldn't feel too bad. It was a promise I
could not keep.
I heard loud sobs and terrifying screams long
before I realized they were coming from me. I
barely noticed when Edward bit my other wrist. I
did, however, see the expression on his face when
he pulled me close to him under the covers. He
was scared. What's even worse, his eyes were full
of self-loathing.
Through my pain, I somehow managed to whisper
to him "I love you."
His tearless sob broke my heart.
The feeling of thousands of pricking needles that
coursed through my bloodstream only got worse as
the hours went by. I was so consumed by the fire in
me that I threw away the heavy quilts that Edward
had wrapped me in to keep me warm.
Snow had started to fall. The tree that Edward had
located the bed under provided enough shelter to
keep us dry. He kept trying to get me back under
the covers, whispering almost incoherently about
me getting sick. I couldn't find my voice to remind
him it didn't matter anymore.
My bare feet were curled, my toes pointing in all
directions. It was as if one huge cramp had taken
over my body from the moment the venom started
to spread. With my back painfully arched, I fisted
my hands on the blankets without noticing. Edward
had my feet between his hands. He was trying to
relax them. But no amount of rubbing would ever
be enough to soften my muscles while the
transformation was going on and he knew that.
A seizure hit me then. Those scared Edward the
most. He covered my body with his own and
pressed my face to his chest. My body shook so
hard I bit my tongue.
He smelled the blood instantly. He pushed me
away from his body slightly and used his finger to
open my mouth gently. I bit down on his rock hard
skin uncontrollably, but he didn't even flinch. He
was probably afraid I'd chip a tooth.
When the seizure passed I threw my sweat soaked
face against the pillow, exhausted. He rubbed his
cold finger over my bleeding tongue, soothing it a
little. My throat was closing up from the tension in
my muscles, making it impossible for me to
swallow. Edward somehow noticed this and pulled
me gently to the edge of the bed. I coughed and
spat out all the blood that had accumulated in my
mouth.
Embarrassment, fear and excruciating pain caused
and endless stream of tears to roll down my
cheeks. I was sobbing so hard my whole body
shook as if I were having another seizure. Edward
steadied my face with his hands and pressed his
forehead against mine.
"It's okay, my love. You're going to pull through
this. It will all be over soon. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I
love you so much." His broken voice filled me with
despair. I wanted nothing more than to hold him to
me and whisper words of comfort but it was as if
my mind had detached from my body. I was locked
inside a cocoon of pain and could do nothing more
than twist in agony.
I got my voice back the next morning, but I had no
control over the words streaming out of my mouth.
"Burns! It burns! Make it stop!" I yelled over and
over. Edward spent most of the morning running
fistfuls of snow all over my body. I could feel
nothing but the heat, the burning, scalding heat.
The snow only provided momentary relief.
Edward realized this after hours of my endless
screaming. With a determined look on his face he
struggled to get me out of my dress. Once he'd
gotten rid of my clothes and his, he lifted me in his
arms and carried me to a nearby stream.
The water was icy cold, but not frozen. He walked
right into it, allowing the chilled release to cover
me from the neck down. Even though it did nothing
to alleviate the pain, I could feel the heat of my
body decreasing. My muscles relaxed in cold
comfort. Edward held me to him with one hand and
used the other one to pour water on my face and
stroke my hair.
By the time the sun went down I felt so exhausted I
couldn't even lift my head up. Edward carried my
limp body back to our bed. He dressed me with
care, never taking his eyes away from my face.
Once we were fully clothed, he pulled me to him on
the bed and wrapped his arms around me, creating
an iron cage that made it impossible for me to
even shiver. With his lips pressed against my
forehead, he softly hummed my lullaby.
On the second morning, Edward had to restrain
me, because I was in so much pain I started pulling
my hair out in desperation. I trashed around,
fighting against his hands and screaming
incoherently.
He held my wrists over my head with one hand and
used the other one to press my chest to the
mattress. He tried as hard as he could to keep me
from hurting myself, but I somehow managed to hit
my head against the tree trunk serving as a
headboard. I must've hit it pretty hard, because I
stopped trashing around even though the pain
grew exponentially.
When he realized I wasn't going to move as much
anymore, Edward took a water bottle from a bag at
the foot of the bed and lifted me up gently. He
gave me very small sips, just enough for me to wet
my lips.
I could feel the pain spreading, my cells hardening.
By the last night of my transformation I'd lost most
of my motor functions. I couldn't move, I could
barely breathe and what little breath I had left was
used for screaming. That was the first time in my
life I ever wished for everything to end. I stared at
Edward, my eyes being the only part of my body I
had control over, and silently begged him to kill
me, to drain me, to finish me off.
He couldn't read my mind, but he could interpret
my stare. He crushed me to him and lifted my face
roughly so my eyes could meet his. His voice broke
when he whispered, "You're pulling through this,
Isabella. We've come this far. Listen to me! I love
you! I need you! If you die on me, I'll find a way to
follow you."
My eyes filled with the last of my tears and they
slowly spilled down my cheeks. He kissed the salty
tracks. I knew then that I would never cry again.
I could feel my transformation coming to an end.
Through the pain I noticed how my heart slowed
down considerably every passing second. I was
barely aware of the sun shining on my last human
moments.
Edward, his body stiff from stress, rocked me back
and forth when my screams turned into tearless
sobs. His tortured eyes stared into mine. Only his
beauty, his perfection and his smell kept me from
losing my mind.
He could feel my heart. He knew it was going to
end soon.
"Bella..." He whispered.
Two things happened at once. Edward's head
snapped up, his eyes wide with fear, and one of the
cell phones that Carlisle had given us started to
ring loudly.
He got up in one swift move, leaving me on the
bed.
It happened so fast I'm amazed my eyes were able
to see the whole thing. A huge body was running at
lightning speed towards me. Edward ran right into
it. The sound of the crash was deafening.
Edward jumped to his feet but the stranger was
faster. When I saw his face a fear so strong it made
the pain pale in comparison, overtook me.
I'd seen that face and that huge body before,
hundreds of times. The wild, red eyes. The messy
hair. He was the vampire from my nightmares, the
one who would eventually kill us both.
Edward's roar startled me. He tackled the stranger
from behind and threw him to the ground, but the
strong vampire shrugged him off, lifted him by the
neck and threw him.
I could hear Edward's body slamming against a
tree trunk. He was by my side again in a fraction of
a second, but not before the other vampire had a
chance to lift me up and bite into my stomach.
I felt the bite on top of everything else. He wasn't
gentle, the way Edward had been. His teeth tore
my flesh apart, provoking even more pain than I
ever thought possible.
I tossed my head back and screamed the first two
coherent words to leave my throat in two days.
"Edward, go!"
I wanted him to leave me there and save himself. I
could feel the blood flowing freely, soaking my
dress and the bed underneath me. I knew how it
was all going to end.
Edward probably didn't even hear me. He was
already fighting the bigger vampire off me. He
succeeded, momentarily. The vampire dropped
me. I bounced off the edge of the bed and fell face
first into the snowy ground. The snow around me
got tainted with my blood. The redness spread fast,
too fast.
I could see them fighting in front of me.
Thunderous punches and snapping noises filled the
air while the two males tore each other apart. I
shook with fear and shock, unable to do anything.
Edward was trying really hard, I could see it in his
eyes. But he was fighting two monsters, the one in
front of him and the one inside of him. His eyes
were wild with thirst but filled with love and fear for
my life. The other vampire had it easy, he was not
only bigger and stronger, but he was only fighting
Edward to get to me.
No matter how many times Edward pushed him
away from me, he always bounced right back and
lounged for me again. Edward couldn't keep him
down.
Eventually, the red-eyed rival realized he had to
neutralize Edward in order to get to me. The next
time Edward snapped at him, he grabbed his neck
and threw him down on the ground.
I tried to scream, to warn him, when the vampire's
teeth, still covered in my blood, tore open Edward's
bare chest.
It was happening, my nightmare was coming true
right in front of my eyes and there was nothing I
could do to stop it.
Edward roared in pain and fear for me. He turned
around to look at me when the other vampire
grabbed a fistful of his wounded flesh.
"I love you." Edward mouthed.
I was still sobbing uncontrollably, lying helpless on
the ground, when something amazing happened. I
saw light all around me, brightness coming from
everywhere. When I looked down I realized it was
coming from me. It was then that I noticed the
small ray of sun filtering through the trees and
bouncing off my skin. My transformation was
almost over; my muscles were already inhumanly
strong. Only the pain kept me on the ground.
I was not going to let that one vampire deprive me
of my life with Edward. I was not going to sit there
and watch while he destroyed the love of my life.
With the excruciating pain still present in my body I
got up. Determination and love forced me to crawl
towards the two vampires. Once I got close
enough, I stood up. The pain multiplied by a
million, my body refused to cooperate but
somehow I managed to walk up behind the enemy.
Edward's eyes were wide with surprise. "No, Bella!"
He yelled.
The red-eyed beast in front of me turned around,
clearly startled by my presence.
I threw myself at him, catching him by surprise and
sending us both flying backwards.
Something strong lifted me off him and tossed me
to the side. My body was so exhausted I couldn't
even breathe.
From the corner of my eye I saw Carlisle and Esme
cornering the intruder. Edward was lying just a few
feet away from me.
"Edward." I whispered urgently. He turned his face
around to look at me, but I could tell he was still in
too much pain to move.
"I'm dying." I mumbled.
His eyes flew open. He crawled to me, his pain
forgotten, and pulled me into his lap.
"It's okay, my love. It's almost over. Let go, you're
safe now. I'll be right here when you come around."
And then he gave me my last human kiss.
My head rolled limply to the side. During the few
moments it took for my heart to stop, I saw a pair
of blue eyes staring at us from the edge of the
forest. I'd seen those blue orbs only once before.
If you believe, like I do, that eyes can smile, then
trust me when I tell you those eyes were not
smiling. They were grinning.

Changes
"Edward." I whispered urgently. He turned his face
around to look at me, but I could tell he was still in
too much pain to move.
"I'm dying." I mumbled.
His eyes flew open. He crawled to me, his pain
forgotten, and pulled me into his lap.
"It's okay, my love. It's almost over. Let go, you're
safe now. I'll be right here when you come
around." And then he gave me my last human kiss.
My head rolled limply to the side. During the few
moments it took for my heart to stop, I saw a pair
of blue eyes staring at us from the edge of the
forest. I'd seen those blue orbs only once before.
If you believe, like I do, that eyes can smile, then
trust me when I tell you those eyes were not
smiling. They were grinning.
When I opened my eyes again I felt perfect. I was
neither hot nor cold. I wasn't tired or drowsy. I
didn't feel disoriented or dizzy. I looked up at
Edward, who was still holding me close, and
wondered how much time had passed.
My eyesight seemed to be a thousand times better.
I could perfectly distinguish every inch of his
concerned face. I could also hear everything. If I
focused, I could hear the stream as if I were
standing in it. I was aware of what felt like every
cell of my body. I could genuinely feel everything
touching my skin and distinguish it for what it was.
The dirt, the snow, the grass, Edward...
The sunlight bounced off his godlike skin. When I
reached out to touch his face I realized my skin
glistened just as much as his. I could see his eyes
intently analyzing me.
"Bella? Are you okay?" He sounded so worried.
I wanted to say yes, I wanted to tell him everything
was just perfect, but I soon realized something was
missing. I frowned.
"What's wrong?" Edward asked in alarm.
"I feel weird."
He raised his eyebrows. "Well... you're dead."
I rolled my eyes, "No, I know but... I don't know,
something is missing."
We sat there in silence for a few seconds. Edward
studied me closely. Then he smiled, leaned down
towards me and whispered, "Breathe, Bella."
I inhaled deeply. Suddenly I was flooded with his
heavenly scent in such a powerful way that, had I
been human, I surely would've fainted. I could also
smell everything else, the trees, the flowers, the
snow.
"Thank you."
He was laughing when he answered "Any time."
I took another deep breath and smelled smoke,
plus something that made my insides turn. I
smelled my own, dried blood.
I was suddenly stunned with a thirst so strong it
made my hand fly to my throat. The muscles on
the back of my mouth clenched. I couldn't think
straight. I couldn't even swallow.
Out of nowhere, Edward's strong hand covered my
nose and my mouth. "Hold your breath, Bella. I'll
get you out of here soon enough."
It was then that I remembered his injuries. With
alarm I turned to him and ran my hands over his
previously wounded chest. I found nothing but
smooth skin.
"I heal quickly." He answered my unspoken
question. Carlisle and Esme walked up to us before
I could reply.
Carlisle took one look at me, lifted me from
Edward's arms and started walking into the woods.
"Come on, we need to get you out of here. I'll
explain everything in the car."
"I can walk." I told him, while still holding my
breath, with the little air I had left in my lungs.
"I know you can. But I'm not sure you're ready to
handle your instincts. If a human happens to walk
by..." He didn't finish his sentence. I instantly
stopped struggling and allowed him to encase me
in his arms.
"I'll carry her." Edward's voice was a little shaky. I
turned around in time to see him painfully getting
himself up from the ground. Apparently he was
only externally healed.
"Edward..."
"No," He walked over to us and held out his arms
for me, "She's my wife."
I raised my eyebrows in surprise at his words. He
smiled and clarified, "Or she will be soon, anyway."
Carlisle smiled and handed me over. When
Edward's skin came into contact with mine, I felt a
jolt of electricity going through me just like that
day, months ago, in the biology lab.
"I will take care of you." He promised. I covered my
nose with my hand and allowed him to take me
home.
Once I was safely locked in the car, Carlisle began
his story.
"Alice called. She had a vision of you two being
attacked. She had it maybe an hour ago, but she
couldn't get a signal for a few minutes. When she
got through to me, we were afraid we'd be too
late..."
"I knew the guy." I stated.
Esme and Carlisle both turned around to stare at
me, the road completely forgotten. Edward, who
was sitting on the back seat with me, simply
gasped with understanding.
"What do you mean you knew him sweetie?"
Esme's concerned voice matched her expression.
"Well, I didn't know him, know him. He was the
vampire of my nightmares, the one that Alice saw
in a vision a few months back, before we went to
Alaska."
"The one with the coven that Alice saw attacking
us back in September? The ones who never
showed?" Carlisle was intrigued.
"No wonder the guy was so relentless. You
appealed to him the way that you do to me."
Edward's brow was furrowed in concentration. "He
was a young vampire, I could see it in his eyes. He
had no control over his hunger."
We'd reached the house by then. Edward opened
the door, took my hand and pulled me out of the
car gently. "The others are on their way back. They
should be home tonight." I nodded at Carlisle and
followed Edward inside.
"Bella?" His voice stopped me. "I just wanted to tell
you how proud we are. We admire you for what
you did, overcoming your pain to save the man you
love." Had I been human, I would've blushed at his
words.
"Letting him kill us was not an option." I simply
stated. He nodded reverently.
"What my husband is trying to say," Esme walked
up to me and opened her arms, "is welcome to our
family, my child."
With my mouth wide open and my heart filled by
her kindness, I walked into Esme's motherly hug.
When Edward opened the door for me, I had to
gasp. The living room was, for the first time since
I'd met Edward, cluttered.
I wasn't a disorganized clutter. The many boxes
that took up much of the floor-space were
surprisingly clean and well labeled. Some of them
were records, others were marked simply with a
name. Most of them said Alice or Carlisle. But the
boxes were not what caught my attention. The
rather large machines next to the piano were the
ones holding my interest.
"What is all this?" I asked Edward.
"The contents of our basement. We cleared it out
so you and I can spend some time locked in there."
His hand on the small of my back made me
shudder with pleasure. Some things never change,
I guess.
"Doing what?" I frowned. Not that the idea of
spending any amount of time locked in a room with
Edward displeased me in any way.
"I guess you could call it training." He was guiding
me over to the basement. I opened the door
curiously. "Training for what?"
"For the human world." He answered simply.
"What do you mean?" My frown deepened.
He gave me one of his perfect crooked smiles and
pointed at my hand, the one holding the doorknob.
I glanced down, still confused.
I gasped and released the cool metal as if it'd
burned me. The shape of my fingers stayed
perfectly imprinted on the handle. I'd dented the
metal without even noticing.
"You have to learn to mind your strength, Bella."
He explained casually while he stirred me in the
direction of the basement stairs.
"Wait." I stopped.
"What is it?"
"Could I take a vampire minute first?"
His relieved laughter was music to my ears. "Of
course." He took my hand again and walked with
me up the stairs. "But let me prepare the bath for
you. If you turn the water on, I'll probably spend
the rest of the day fixing the pipes."
He took me to Alice's bathroom, the closest one he
could find. While he prepared the water for me, I
took the chance to look at myself in the mirror for
the first time in over three days. My reflection
startled me.
My face looked a lot like it used to, only my
features seemed a little more refined, as if I'd lost
the extra weight around my cheeks. My arms were
toned, firm and pearly white. The pink dress that
I'd been wearing since Saturday showed clear signs
of the struggle. It was ripped where the vampire's
teeth had slashed my now rock-hard abdomen. The
skirt was torn from one side, exposing most of my
slightly muscular right leg. My hair was a complete
mess. That, apparently, hadn't changed. I
untangled a leaf from my long strands and tossed
it to the floor. It landed next to my bare feet. I
looked beautiful and wild and, somehow, a little
dangerous.
But what startled me the most were my eyes.
They'd turned a vibrant shade of red.
"Thank the twenty first century for contact lenses."
Edward caught me staring at myself, "When I went
through it I had to fake blindness for a year."
"Why did this happen?" I leaned closer to my
reflection.
"All the blood in your body makes your eyes turn
red. Thanks to that impertinent vampire, you'll
probably only have those for a few months." His
voice sounded strained when he talked about my
attacker.
I leaned back against Edward's chiseled chest and
stared in wonder at our reflection in the mirror. His
arms went around my waist instantly, pulling me
closer. He rested his chin on my shoulder and
smiled at the picture of us. We looked absolutely
perfect.
"I still can't believe you did this." He thought out
loud.
"Did what?"
"This! You died for me, Bella."
I turned around in his arms to face him. "No,
actually, I died for us. I had my own selfish
reasons."
He smiled at me and rested his forehead against
mine. "Take your vampire minute, my love. I'll be
waiting for you downstairs. There is much to talk
about." He kissed the top of my head and released
me. As soon as my body lost contact with his I felt
wrong, disconnected somehow.
"Oh and Bella?" He added before leaving.
"Yeah?"
"Try not to break anything."
The hand soap that I threw at him punched a hole
through the wall.
I dressed in the comfortable sweats Edward left for
me on Alice's bed and walked downstairs, careful
not to hold on to anything. Carlisle, Edward and
Esme were talking in hushed voices, but I could
hear every single word from where I was standing
at the top of the stairs.
"Should we be worried?" Esme asked.
"No, I see no connection between the two." Carlisle
answered her.
"I'd rather just go..."
"Go where?" I asked Edward. He froze for a
moment, but smiled immediately after. "I'm not
used to you being so quiet! You actually startled
me!"
"Couldn't you smell me?" In all the confusion, I'd
forgotten to ask him about my smell.
"Yes, I could." He smiled at me but said nothing
else. I guessed that was a conversation he wanted
to save for when we were alone.
"So where are we going?" I asked again.
"To the basement. Carlisle and Esme have some
things they want to discuss with us."
I nodded and followed them downstairs. The
basement was almost empty except for a large
table with matching chairs, a huge leather couch, a
few boxes and a pool table. The walls were really
thick, probably soundproof.
Carlisle sat down at the table and we all did the
same. As soon as we were settled, he turned to
me.
"So, Bella, how are you feeling?"
"Much better." Anything was better than the pain
I'd felt for the past three days, and the burning
thirst on the back of my throat had dissolved into a
dull throb since we'd left the forest.
"Good. Look, Edward will explain to you the
changes and precautions that you'll have to take.
Esme and I want to discuss your options so we can
get to work on that while you're down here."
"My options?" I frowned.
"Yours and Edward's. You see, it's not safe for you
here. The best thing for you to do is to go
someplace new, somewhere were no one will
recognize you and notice a change. We can easily
fake your death so your parents won't get
suspicious."
I momentarily panicked. I wasn't ready to say
goodbye to my parents yet. I knew things would
have to change, but I never expected to cut myself
from their lives like that so soon. The panic,
however, lasted only a second. My mind
immediately came up with a better solution to our
problem.
"Actually, I think it might be better for me if we
stay here for a while. At least a couple of years."
"No, Bella. Carlisle is right." Edward interrupted me
but I cut him off.
"Not really. If my reaction to my own spilled blood
today is any indication, I'm going to have a hell of a
time overcoming my thirst. I think I might need
some sort of external motivation. And what better
motivation than keeping safe the people that I care
about?"
Edward was shaking his head, but Esme and
Carlisle seemed to understand my idea.
"Think about it, Edward! It's going to be a thousand
times easier to resist if the only ones that I can kill
are people that I know. If we go someplace new, I
won't have those emotional attachments to help
me."
"Bella, it's too dangerous." He took my hand and I
squeezed it.
"Look, my main reason for staying on the wagon
will always be you... well that and my respect for
mankind. And I know that being with you will keep
me strong. But can't we just stay here for a little
while?"
"She's right, Edward. This might make things easier
for her."
Edward's eyes snapped up to stare at his father.
"Don't worry." Carlisle looked intently at him. I
could tell he was speaking to Edward in his mind.
"You have plenty of time to take her everywhere.
Give her some time to get used to this life." I knew
he spoke aloud only for my benefit, but it
comforted me to know how he felt about my
decision.
"Fine." Edward finally gave in. He turned to me and
shrugged, "But since you're such a genius, you
better come up with a plan so Charlie won't notice
the differences in you."
"I'll think of something" I promised. He stared into
my eyes for the longest moment before leaning in
and touching his nose to mine. "You better."
"We'll take that as our cue to leave." Esme stood
up, taking Carlisle with her. I barely noticed when
they closed the door behind them.
"So, how do we start my training?" I smiled at my
godlike boyfriend.
"Come." He took me over to the large couch and
laid down, taking me with him. He wrapped his
arms around my waist and pulled me close, with
more force than ever before.
"Mmm, I like it already." I teased.
He rewarded me with a wide smile. "I thought we
could talk for a while before we begin."
"Okay." I immediately thought of the hundreds of
questions that I had for him and wondered how to
start.
"I know you have a lot of questions, so go ahead.
Ask me."
I stared at him in shock and asked, in a joking
manner. "Can you read my thoughts now?"
His loud laugh made me smile. "Trust me, Bella. I
would've told you that right away. I probably
would've kneeled over from the shock first, though.
Any more questions."
"How do I smell?" In any other context, that
would've been a really gross question to ask.
He knew that one was coming, and he had his
answer ready. He brushed a strand of hair away
from my face. "The same, only different. It's still
the same exceedingly luscious, mouth watering
floral scent that you've always had. In fact, it's
even stronger than before. Only it doesn't make
my mouth water anymore. Does that make sense?"
"Sort of." I frowned, struggling to understand.
"Think of it this way. How did I smell to you when
you were human?"
"Inhumanly delicious."
"And did that make you want to eat me?"
"Not exactly."
"Well, it's exactly like that."
I grinned. "So maybe if the roles had been
reversed, if I'd been a vampire first, I would've
lusted for your blood the way you did for mine?"
His gentle smile illuminated his face. "Maybe I
would've been your brand of heroin."
"You already are." I pointed out, "I'm hopelessly
addicted to you."
His smile widened. He ran his fingers along my
spine until he reached my neck. I shivered from his
touch, which made him smile even more. He
cupped my cheeks with his hands and pulled me in
for a kiss.
When his lips touched mine, the emotions that ran
through made me feel like crying. It was so perfect,
so delicious and right that I never wanted it to end.
My lips parted against his and for a moment he
froze, until he remembered he had no reason to
hold back now.
His lips moved against mine in a gentle but
passionate kiss. His tongue lightly traced the
contours of my cold lips. Everything about him, the
smell of his breath, the feel of his body, it was all
driving me insane. I ran my hands over his firm
chest and he deepened the kiss. One of his hands
moved down to my hips.
And then we heard them. Carlisle and Esme were
talking to Edward's siblings. Alice was running for
the door. Even through the soundproof walls I knew
exactly where she was even before she knocked.
"Bella!" She threw the door open before we even
responded. I wanted to sit up and greet her, but
Edward wouldn't let me go. He pressed me more
firmly against his chest and buried his face in my
hair.
"Bella! Oh thank god! You look so beautiful! I can't
believe this happened! I'm so sorry, I couldn't
see..."
"Alice, calm down." Edward finally said. He pointed
to a chair in front of the couch and commanded.
"Sit, tell us what happened." He allowed me to turn
around in his arms to face his sister, but he still
wouldn't let me sit.
"I'm not exactly sure of what happened, but from
what I could see, I think this is the story. The coven
that we saw passing through forks back in
September never came here because you two
weren't here. I believe they were going back south
now. I'm not sure how that guy ended up alone,
but the other ones are waiting for him a few towns
away. When he doesn't show up, they'll just think
he deserted them. They will not come looking for
him. The guy was just running by, he wasn't even
close to you guys, but he found something."
"What?" I asked, intrigued.
"A jacket. Your raincoat I think. He picked up your
scent and forgot about everything else. He wanted
you so badly, Bella! Just as much as Edward does...
or did, I guess."
I slapped my forehead. "My raincoat! I left it on our
way home on Friday. I took it off while I tried to
change the flat tire after Jessica's accident."
"And that's what started all this? You really are a
trouble magnet." Edward ruffled my hair playfully.
Now that he knew I couldn't easily get hurt, he was
much more comfortable talking about my
accidents.
"Yeah. Well I'm glad everything is fine now. I do
feel a little sorry for the other guy, though. He had
no control over himself." Alice shrugged. "There
was no other way of getting him off you, though.
So..." She let her words hang. I stared
uncomfortably at my hands.
"Well, I guess I'll leave you two lovebirds alone.
Come find me when you're done here." Alice
winked at me. Had I been human, I surely would've
turned crimson.
Edward sighed. "We should probably start. I want
to finish this as soon as possible so I can take you
hunting."
"Did you do this when you became a vampire?" I
asked him.
"No. Carlisle helped me through the first years but I
never had anything like this. I'm just trying to
make things easier for you."
I sat up and gave him a peck on the lips. "I
appreciate that."
He gave me a crooked smile and lifted me by the
arm. "Okay, let's see. First things first, do you see,
hear or feel anything strange?"
I laughed. "If you're asking if I can read people's
thoughts, have visions or control emotions the
answer is no." I shrugged. "I feel different, but not
that different."
His smile widened. "Good to know. Now, your
speed is easy to control. Run around the room."
I frowned and ran around the room once. I did so at
normal running speed. I didn't trip, which was the
only major change, and I didn't get tired, but other
than that nothing happened.
"Okay," He took my hand when I stood next to him.
"Now run with me and try to keep up."
We zipped around the room in half a second. When
I felt him pulling me I pushed myself to catch up
and discovered with pleasure that it required no
extra effort from me.
"You see," Edward explained once we were
standing by the couch again. "Walking and talking
do not depend on how fast you can do it, but on
how fast you usually do it. You talk so people can
understand you, but right now, if you wanted, you
could speak too fast to be heard by humans. Same
with the walking. Just be careful when you're
excited or scared and always mind your actions."
I nodded at him. We ran around a few more times.
He tested me to see how fast I could run. He was
still faster than me, but I did fine. Edward was
pleased.
"Your strength, on the other hand, is a lot harder to
manage. With the amount of force that you used to
apply to something like the door handle to get it
open, you can now crush it." Edward reached into a
box and produced a water balloon. He tossed it my
way. My hand immediately reached out to catch it.
It exploded between my fingers.
"Mind your strength, Bella." He tossed me another
one and again, I crushed it.
After almost twenty balloons I managed to keep
one intact. I was so surprised I squeezed it. Edward
rolled his eyes.
"Let's try some solids." He walked up to me and
held out a piece of wood. He asked me to put my
thumb underneath it and my index finger on top. I
did as he told me, barely touching the board.
"Okay, now press it between your fingers a little." I
concentrated on the task. He let go of the wood
and I found myself holding a long, heavy board
with just two fingers. I couldn't even feel the
weight.
"Press down a little harder and see what happens."
The wood shrunk like a sponge. I rubbed the corner
of the board between my fingers and watched it
dissolve like a sugar cube.
"Wow" I whispered.
"Wow would be correct." Edward, who was
standing right behind me, rested his chin on my
shoulder.
"Oh Edward, I'm so sorry!" I suddenly apologized.
He frowned in confusion. "For what?"
"All those times I recklessly threw myself at you or
made sudden moves... It must have been so hard
on you!"
Edward rolled his eyes. "You are absurd. You're
apologizing because I could've crushed you to
death in an instant?"
"Yes." I wrapped my arms around his neck and
pulled myself up to kiss him gently.
He sighed against my lips. "If I got this for
controlling my strength, I can't wait until we get to
the blood part."
I slapped his chest playfully and he pulled me in for
another breathtaking kiss. When we parted, I
asked. "What now?"
"Now," his eyes glistened with excitement, "we
shoot some pool."
It proved to be harder than I ever imagined. Before
my transformation I lacked the coordination to play
something as elaborate as pool. Now, I lacked the
restrain. The first time I tried it I broke the stick,
chipped the ball and made a hole on the table.
Edward laughed at me uncontrollably.
"This is not funny, Edward." I scowled.
"Of course it is, my love. Here, let me help." He
stood behind me, wrapping his arms around my
body to cover my hands with his own. I closed my
eyes and concentrated on breathing. He was so
close I felt tingly all over.
"Now shoot." He ordered.
I missed the ball by a mile.
"I see this is going to take some time." He kissed
my cheek and I sighed.
"More than some, if you keep that up."
He laughed against my ear, "Keep practicing, Bella.
You'll be an expert before you know it."
He was right, of course. After a while I was able to
handle my strength pretty well. When he was
finally satisfied with my progress, he sat me down
on the couch again.
"Bella, this is going to be the hardest part of this so
called training." He looked so serious I could do
nothing except gulp and nod.
He walked up the stairs. Alice was waiting by the
door with a small fridge. I knew what was in it
immediately. Blood. Human blood.
The back of my throat tightened. My mouth
overflowed with venom. My stomach shook with a
hunger so deep I felt as if I hadn't eaten in days.
With a startled gasp, I realized I actually hadn't.
I remained seated, very still and very frightened,
while Edward opened the fridge. Inside, there was
a syringe full of blood. I closed my eyes and
stopped my breathing in an attempt to shut the
craving out. I felt so weird and so wrong. How
could I crave something that I'd despised my whole
life?
"Just so you know." Edward stopped breathing too
when he squeezed a small drop of blood on the
table. "I will never let you taste this."
I launched myself at the red liquid before my mind
fully understood what was happening. Just before
my outstretched hands reached their destination, a
powerful pair of arms held me back. I growled,
roared and snapped at the person behind me.
Every fiber in my being wanted to reach out and
lick the blood off the flat surface of the table. I
wanted nothing more than to satiate the thirst.
When I realized I couldn't disentangle myself from
the person behind me, I started listening to the
noise he was making. It took some time for me to
calm down enough to hear him. Edward was
talking to me, he was saying the same thing over
and over again.
"Bella, think! Think! Think about what you're doing!
Use your brain and your sense to overcome your
instinct. Think Bella!"
I calmed down enough to stop breathing again. The
coppery smell wasn't as strong then. My body
relaxed a little.
"Edward?" I whispered.
The arm around my waist tightened, but the one
diagonally covering my chest slid down a little so
Edward could caress my exposed collarbone. "Yes,
my love?"
"I'm scared."
He lifted me in the air and carried me to the couch,
where he laid me down and rested his weight on
top of mine. "You need to breathe, Bella. It will get
easier, I promise. But you need to breathe if you're
going to get used to the smell."
I took a deep breath and growled again. I tried to
sit up but Edward held me down. He pressed me
against the couch while I trashed around until I
stopped.
My growls became soft moans, which then turned
into whimpers. He held me the whole time,
caressing my hair and whispering words of
encouragement. Days and nights went by while we
laid on the couch.
When Edward decided I could handle it, he sat up. I
sat with him, staring at the syringe on the table,
inhaling the salty smell of dried blood. I lost all
track of time.
After a while he pulled me up. We took small steps
towards the table, stopping several times along the
way to let me adjust. It took us an eternity to get
there. When the blood was within reach, Edward
squeezed it all out on the table. I stood, perfectly
still, next to the blood. The need that I had to reach
out and taste it was unbelievable. Never in my life
had I felt something so strong. I was in physical
pain, standing so close to my craving.
I battled with myself. I wondered how it would feel
to taste it, what it would be like to take just one
sip. I tried to talk myself into believing I could
handle tasting it once. Just like a recovering
alcoholic, it was a battle of wills, my wills.
The rational part of me eventually won. I crumbled
to the ground in surrender, completely determined
never to taste human blood. Edward sat on the
floor with me and pulled me into his lap. I grabbed
on to his shirt and allowed a few tearless sobs to
leave me.
"I'm sorry, Bella. I'm sorry for putting you through
this." He whispered against my hair.
"All in all, I consider this a pretty effective training."
I said between sobs. He let out a chuckle and
pulled me closer.
"I meant for changing you, for forcing this way of
life on you."
"Edward?"
"Yes?"
"If you say you forced me into this one more time,
I'll konk you on the head with a toilet seat."
He stared at me, stunned, before erupting in
laughter. "Why a toilet seat?"
"Because I could hit you with anything and it
wouldn't hurt. At least a toilet seat has that gross
factor."
"Come on." He stood up and unnecessarily offered
me his hand.
"Where are we going?"
"I think we're done here, and I have a present for
you."
I stood in the living room, staring through the glass
at the vast back yard, my eyebrows pulled
together in a deep frown.
"Do you like it?" Edward asked.
"It's a cow." I stared at the spotted animal with
confusion.
"No, it's a dinosaur. Yes it's a cow, Bella."
"It has a bow around its neck." I stated.
"Consider this takeout." Edward wrapped an arm
around me and I raised my eyebrows.
"You want me to eat it?"
Edward rolled his eyes. "No, Bella. I want you to
throw a stick and see if it gets it back to you."
"Feeling a little sarcastic today, are we?"
"Just a tad."
I never took my eyes away from the large animal
that seemed to be staring at me through the glass.
It mooed.
"Come on." Edward guided me towards the door. I
followed reluctantly.
As soon as the cow spotted us, it mooed loudly and
tried to run away, only to be pulled back by the
chain around its neck.
"I think I just became a vegetarian." I announced
over the animal's loud complains.
"Bella, my love, you already are."
I knew he was right, of course. I took a step closer
to the cow and started to feel the thirst. It was
nowhere near as strong as what I'd felt from
smelling just a drop of human blood, but it was
there.
"I thought this would make the transition easier.
You ate stake all the time when you were human."
Edward reminded me.
"Okay, how do I do this?"
He walked up to me, brushed my hair away from
my face and kissed me. "Just let go, Bella. Let your
instincts take over. You're safe here, and I'll be
right behind you to help keep you in control."
I nodded and turned towards the animal. It was still
a few hundred feet away. I closed my eyes, took a
deep breath and paid attention to the thirst.
My tongue started feeling heavy and dry as I
walked closer to the panicking animal. I felt
something inside of me pulling me towards it,
taking over my movements.
I was still several feet away when I pounced. My
teeth sank down on the first thing I could reach. I
couldn't even hear the animal anymore while I tore
at its stomach and gratefully drank the warm liquid
emanating from the wound.
It tasted good, so unbelievably good, like a big
glass of cold coke in a hot day only a million times
better. I could feel the pricking on the back of my
throat slowly dissipating, leaving nothing but a
welcomed sense of calm.
When there was nothing left to take, I looked up.
Edward was right there, next to me. He looked sad
but also excited, and not just in the euphoric sense
of the word. His eyes shone with muted passion
and desire. I stood up and waited for him as he
walked over to me very slowly.
His hand reached out to touch my face. It was only
then that I realized I had smeared blood all over
myself. I stared at my shoes feeling a little
ashamed.
"Table manners come with time, my love." Edward
licked his fingers clean. I had to close my eyes. The
image of him was just too beautiful.
"I would like to get cleaned up." I mentioned. He
nodded and took me upstairs to his bathroom. He
sat on the bed and watched while I got some
clothes from my drawer.
"Stay." I told him. He became a statue before my
very eyes. Then, the statue spoke.
"I should probably make more room for you in the
closet."
"Fine, do that. But don't leave."
"Yes ma'am."
I smiled on my way to the bathroom.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover I didn't have
to think too much about not denting everything I
touched. It was as if my sense of touch had
adjusted already.
The water cascaded down my back. I could feel
every individual drop as it bounced off my hard
shoulders. I stared at the pile of bloody clothes I'd
peeled off me moments before and held back a
shudder. It would get easier. I knew it would.
I scrubbed my body furiously with Edward's
sponge, getting rid of all traces of blood. I took a
moment then to examine my body more closely.
My stomach had always been flat, but it had never
looked toned or muscular. It was certainly hard
now. I ran my fingertips over the strong muscles in
awe.
When the water ran cold I turned it off out of habit.
I wrapped a fluffy, white towel around myself and
used Edward's hairbrush to untangle my long
mane. I dressed casually in jeans and a light shirt
before leaving the room.
Edward was resting on the bed, his arms behind his
head. I sat down next to him and reached out to
touch his chiseled face. He smiled against my
fingers.
"Come here." He pulled me down next to him and
tucked me under his arm, pressing me gently
against his chest.
"Edward?"
"Yes?"
"Can I ask you a question?"
"You can ask me as many as you want."
"What happened outside, while I was... eating.
What did you feel?"
He pressed me closer and mumbled. "Not that
one."
"You said I could ask anything!" My voice was
muffled by his chest.
"Ask me something else. I'll answer that one some
other time."
"Okay. When you regret changing me -because I
know it happens sometimes, I can see it in your
eyes- why do you feel that way?"
He pushed me away a little to stare into my eyes.
"Were you not there this past weeks? Did you not
see everything I've put you through?"
"Yeah, but that's all over now. Small price to pay
for an eternity with you. Even if the love factor
wasn't involved, humans have searched for
immortality since the beginning of time. What
makes you think what you gave me is anything but
a gift? Something people have killed in vain to
obtain?"
"The ones who search for immortality are mortals."
He stated.
I swallowed my sarcastic remark at his redundant
comment and waited for him to continue. "No one
who searches for immortality has ever tried it
before. They don't know what they're asking."
"But you gave it to me."
"Because I love you and I'm selfish. And you
bugged me about it too much." He ruffled my wet
hair playfully before pulling me close again. While
he showered my face with kisses I couldn't help but
feel like there was something he wasn't telling me.
"Edward!" Alice danced into the room without
bothering to knock. Both Edward and I had heard
her coming, so it wasn't entirely a surprise. But
that didn't keep Edward from complaining.
"Doesn't anybody knock anymore? We could've
been indisposed." My eyes shot wide open at his
words and I slapped his shoulder gently.
"Oh please, like I wouldn't see that one coming."
Alice sat down on the leather couch, facing us.
Even though I couldn't blush anymore, I was so
embarrassed by the blunt discussion of my still
non-existent sexual life I begged the earth to
swallow me whole.
"We're all going hunting tonight. Do you want to
come with us?" She asked.
Edward shook his head, "I want to take her alone.
But first, we have some stuff to take care of here."
"You haven't hunted in weeks, Edward." Alice
reminded him and I silently wondered how much
time had passed since my transformation.
"I'll have a deer tonight. Don't worry, Alice." I
muffled a laugh. That would sound so strange if it
were taken out of context.
She rolled her eyes and got up in one graceful
movement. "Fine." She danced out.
"What is it that we have to do here?" I asked.
"First, you should call your father."
I frowned and sat up. "Exactly how long has it been
since I left his house?"
"Sixteen days."
My jaw dropped to the floor. "What? How?"
Edward touched my face gently. "The days tend to
blend together when you don't sleep. Don't worry
about it."
He handed me the phone and waited patiently
while I dialed.
"Hello?" My dad's voice sounded loud and clear, as
if he were standing right next to me. That threw
me off for a moment.
"Hello?" He repeated.
"Dad?" My voice came out shaky. I wondered why I
felt so nervous.
"Bella? Are you okay?"
"Calm down." Edward whispered to me. I took a
deep breath and tried again.
"Yeah dad, it's me. We're back from our cruise and
I was just checking in."
"How was it?"
"Very nice. We saw tons of cool places." I was glad
when he didn't ask me anything else about the trip,
but freaked out at his next words.
"Lets have dinner tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? Dinner?" My eyes shot wide open.
"Yeah, you, me and Edward. We can go to a nice
restaurant."
Edward shook his head. "No crowds." He mouthed.
"Erm, well why don't we have dinner at your place
instead? So we can talk and all..."
"Okay, great. I'll see you two tomorrow at seven.
I'll cook!" I cringed at the thought but agreed
quickly.
"Okay dad, see you tomorrow."
Edward was staring at me. "What?" I asked.
"Dinner should be interesting" He replied
cryptically.
"Do you think I'm ready?" I tried to bite my nails
until I remembered I couldn't anymore.
"Lets find out." He stood up and offered me his
hand. I hesitated only for a second before getting
up.
As we drove into town I started to get nervous.
What if I couldn't do it? What if I wasn't ready to be
around people? But then I realized Edward would
never let me hurt anyone and I started to relax.
I realized it was still very early. Only a few people
walked down the sidewalks.
As we got closer to them, the dull tingling in the
back of my throat got worse, a million times worse.
I felt the now familiar churning of my stomach and
the dryness of my mouth before we even passed
next to anyone. I stopped breathing. That helped.
"You need to breathe, Bella." Edward scolded me.
"You need to get used to this."
I nodded and took a few small breaths. Mind over
matter. I repeated Edward's mantra over and over
again in my head. He took my hand and squeezed
it. We could do this. I could do this.
We drove around for an hour until we ran out of
gas. By that time, I felt a little more confident
about my restrain. Edward stopped for gas and got
out of the Volvo. I waited patiently for him, sitting
on my hands and staring into space.
I got bored soon and decided to people watch.
Something strange caught my eye and I frowned.
Edward, who was done filling the tank, asked.
"What's wrong?"
"Men are staring at me." I mumbled.
Edward understood every word, of course, and he
smiled. "Well, my love, you are now... how should I
put it... universally beautiful. There is not a single
person on this earth who wouldn't find you
attractive. You better get used to the stares."
"I thought you'd be upset about this." I watched
him close the door and start the car.
"Oh, don't get me wrong. The fact that other men
are looking at you like that makes my blood boil.
Figuratively speaking of cour..." Edward stopped
cold. I followed his gaze to a man sitting on the bus
stop.
"What's wrong?"
"The thoughts of that guy... he's thinking about all
the horribly depraved things he could do to you."
Edward's hands were gripping the steering wheel
with such force I was afraid he'd break it.
Suddenly, his eyes shot wide open. "Oh that little
pervert!" He looked offended. I had to laugh,
specially when he made a disgusted face and
whispered, "That's one sick little mind."
I giggled, "Poor guy, he probably has nothing more
in his life than his fantasies." Edward shook his
head. "He is pretty sick, but I wasn't talking about
him anymore. I was talking about that teenager
over there. He's done some pretty awful things in
his life. And so has that other guy by that tree..."
I frowned. "Let's get out of here, Edward."
He sped off without needing further
encouragement.
"Does that happen often?" I asked him.
"You mean, do I run into so many sick men thinking
hideous things about my girlfriend? No."
He drove in silence for a few minutes and then
turned around to look at me with surprised eyes.
"What?" I asked self-consciously.
"Maybe that's your gift."
"What gift?"
"The trait you bring with you from your other life."
I frowned, "What is my gift?"
"That! Attracting trouble! You used to do a lot of
that, remember?"
I stared at him in shock. "Oh that's just great!
That's peachy."
Edward took my hand and rubbed his fingers
against my palm. "Aww Bella, it's a powerful gift!"
My jaw dropped to the floor. "I thought you of all
people would be upset by this!"
"People can't hurt you anymore, Bella. It might
come in handy sometime, who knows? I'm not
saying I like it. To be honest it bothers me a little,
but at least it's something we can handle."
"What do you mean?"
"Not everyone's gifts work to their advantage,
Bella." He left it at that and I could tell he didn't
want to discuss it any further, so I just sat there
and sulked.
"Well I hate it. Why do the rest of you get the cool
gifts? Why can't I see the future or read minds?
Turn left."
I said that last part out of the blue and for no
apparent reason. Edward was surprised. "What?"
He asked.
"Turn left!" I took the wheel and forced him to turn.
We were going over 100 miles an hour, if Edward
hadn't had vampire reflexes, we would've turned
the volvo into pudding.
"Bella, what the hell is the matter?" Suddenly, a
police officer drove by the street we'd just been if.
If I hadn't forced Edward to turn, we would've
driven right by him. Edward seemed awestruck.
"How weird, there are never cops on this street at
this hour."
"No, but the dinner on Oak Street is closed today,
we drove by it a few minutes ago. A police officer
needs his coffee this early in the morning. He
drove by the dinner, saw it was closed and had no
choice but to drive up to the 7/11."
Edward was staring at me like I'd grown horns.
"Why didn't I hear him coming?"
"You were busy listening to my rant."
"Bella... how did you know all these?"
I shrugged, "Common sense."
Edward's smile was slowly growing. "Well maybe
that is your gift, common sense."
"What are you talking about? There's nothing
common about her sense! Most of the time she
makes no sense at all!" Emmett crossed his arms
and plopped down on the couch next to Carlisle.
"I'm not really sure that's it. Don't get me wrong.
You were an intuitive person, Bella. That probably
got intensified after the change. But something
tells me there's more to it." Carlisle leaned back on
the couch, lost in thought.
"Like what?" Edward asked his father.
"I guess we'll find out, eventually."
"Emmett!" Bella heard Rosalie yelling from
somewhere outside.
"Uh oh." Emmett stood up in a flash. "Drove her
car. Didn't clean. Got to go."
He dashed out the back door before I could even
comprehend his concern. Rosalie materialized next
to us wearing an oily but somehow fashionable
overall. Strands of her hair had escaped the tight
bun on top of her head. They were framing her
face in the most beautiful of ways.
She pushed the hair back with the back of her
hand, smearing oil on her cheek and not caring in
the least. "Where is he?"
Edward pointed at the back door and she flew
through it. I just stared after them.
Carlisle chuckled. "Edward, I'm sorry to bring this
up but if you're going to visit Bella's father
tomorrow, you should have a snack."
Alice came in then, holding several bags in her tiny
hands. "You really have to, Edward." She joined the
conversation. "I'll look after Bella."
"Do you want to come with me?" He asked me
politely, but I knew he really didn't want me to go.
He was probably afraid I'd lose control and attack
someone if we were too close to town.
"I just had a cow this morning, I'm good." I smiled
up at him. He smiled back gratefully. "Would you
do something for me?"
"What?" I asked.
"Can you wait in the basement until I come back?"
I rolled my eyes. "Edward, I'm fine."
"The basement is the safest place in the house.
Please?"
"Fine." I agreed quickly. The sooner he left the
sooner I'd have him all to myself again.
He took me in his arms and kissed my forehead.
"I'll take you downstairs."
I walked over to the basement door but stopped
dead in my tracks. There was nothing there.
"What the..."
"Look closely, Bella." He guided me over to the wall
and took my hand in his. My whole body tingled
with sensations as he placed his hand on top of
mine and gently guided my fingers over the
smooth wall.
I focused hard, scanning every inch, and finally
found what I was looking for. A tiny, invisible crack.
I stepped back and realized the crack was actually
the outline of a rectangle.
"Press the top right corner gently." Edward
instructed in my ear.
I did as I was told and gasped when the wall sank
backwards a few inches before sliding away. I
ended up right in front of the basement door. I
pulled it open only to discover a huge iron wall
behind it.
I raised my eyebrows, which made Edward chuckle.
"Slide your fingers underneath and lift it up."
The wall didn't quite reach the ground, so I hooked
my fingers underneath it and prepared myself for
the effort it would cost me to lift up an iron wall. It
was, of course, light as a feather.
Once I got that open we were finally able to step
into the now familiar basement.
"Nice security." I complimented.
"We try."
"I'll stay with you, Bella! We can talk and stuff!"
Alice made her way into the room and plopped
down on the couch.
"I'll be back in a few hours." Edward whispered. It
suddenly hit me. He was leaving. We hadn't been
separated in weeks!
He must've seen the despair on my face because
he pressed me against his chest, lifting me up a
few inches. Had I been human, he surely would've
broken some ribs. I wrapped my arms around his
neck and inhaled deeply the heavenly scent that
irradiated from his body.
"Hurry back." I whispered against his shoulder.
He broke our embrace only to take my face firmly
between his hands and press his lips furiously
against mine. I returned his forceful kiss with as
much passion and need, but it lasted only a
second.
"Be safe." He whispered before leaving.
I stood there at the bottom of the staircase staring
after him until Alice wrapped her arm around my
shoulder. "What do you say we have some fun?"
"What did you have in..." I turned around to face
her and stopped. "Alice, what is all this?"
The previously empty room was now full of stuff. I
recognized a few boxes and large machines.
They'd been in the living room when Edward first
took me home after the transformation. I'd
forgotten to ask about it.
"Ah just some old stuff. Forged documents, the old
things we used to forge them. Some souvenirs and
old memories..." She stared longingly at one of the
boxes.
"What's in there?" I asked her and she smiled.
"My wedding dress." Her eyes shone bright with
emotion, as if she were remembering the greatest
day of her life. I wondered if I looked like that every
time I thought about Edward.
"So anyway, how about that fun?"
I learned one thing that night. Never play scrabble,
cards or dominos with someone who can see the
future. I had a great strategy, but here's just no
way you can beat someone who knows where all
the vowels are. She offered to find the Twister, but
I decided not to test my balance just yet.
"Well if you don't want to play, what do you want
to do?"
I grinned, a plan slowly forming in my mind. "I have
an interesting idea."
"Bella?" Edward called from outside Alice's
bathroom.
"We're in here!" I answered.
"I know you're in there, but what are you doing?"
"Getting ready for tomorrow!"
Edward sighed, clearly aggravated. "May I come
in?"
I looked down at myself. My body was completely
covered by the bubbles. Only my plastic-wrapped
head stayed clear from the water.
"Sure!" I shrugged.
He swung the door open in a blink. His startled
expression sent us girls into a fit of giggles.
"What are you doing?" He asked again.
"We're painting her hair black." Alice, who was
sitting by the tub, tried to read her brother. "Don't
worry, it's not permanent."
"But why are you doing this?" He was confused
and, I noticed with surprise, a little upset.
"Charlie might not notice my new, more refined
look if there's something more obvious for him to
stare at." I explained. "You told me to come up with
something, so I did."
Edward's frown slowly turned into a smile. "And it'll
definitely come off?"
"In less than a month." Alice answered.
"Well, aren't you the smart girl?" He leaned down
and kissed the tip of my nose. I couldn't help
myself, I buried my hands in his hair and pulled
him to me for a kiss.
"Do you two want some alone time?" Alice's voice
broke my trance and I giggled.
"I have a better idea." Edward said before leaning
close to my ear. He didn't exactly whisper, it was
more like he mouthed the words and I understood
them because of the way the air vibrated against
my skin.
"I'll wait for you in our bedroom."
I was still shivering after he left.
I walked into our room wearing a fluffy pink
bathrobe that Alice had gotten for me weeks
before. He was listening to music, a female vocalist
singing a melancholic song. He was on the bed,
barefoot and shirtless, and he was waiting for me.
As soon as my wet feet touched the carpet, his
arms reached out for me.
"Can I get dressed first?" I asked in a small voice.
His eyes snapped open and he took in my
appearance. The bathrobe was long and thick, but I
could tell he was surprised to know I wasn't
wearing something underneath. He stared at my
well-manicured toes, past the floppy fabric and up
to my face. His breath caught in his throat.
I'd seen myself in the mirror, I knew why he
reacted the way he did. The black hair contrasted
magnificently against my white skin. It was as dark
as Alice's, only mine was long enough to frame my
face and shoulders. I wasn't wearing the contacts
that Alice had gotten for me, but the bright red
eyes only made me look more... intense, not at all
scary like I'd been expecting.
He was standing in front of me before I could even
blink. His hand reached out gently to touch my
neck, still wet and a little warm from the bath. He
pushed the robe slightly away from my collarbone
with his fingertips. I stopped breathing not because
I wanted to, but because my body refused to
function like it was supposed to.
I would've crumpled to the floor from the emotion
of the moment if he hadn't handed me a pair of
blue pajamas right then. "You change, I'll wait."
He went back to his position on the bed and I
somehow regained enough control to make it to
the bathroom.
I took a few deep breaths to calm myself while I
brushed my teeth and hair. I went through the
motions of preparing for bed automatically, not
really paying attention to the fact that I could no
longer sleep.
I dashed back into the room so fast I had a hard
time stopping in front of the bed. Edward was still
waiting for me, with his arms wide open and
inviting. I snuggled against him and he pulled me
close, pressing my face against his chest in a
protective manner.
"Bella?" He ran his hands down to my waist,
caressing the small of my back with his fingertips.
"Yeah?" I replied shakily.
He flipped me on my back and lifted my shirt up a
little to stare at my navel. His cool fingers traced a
line from my bellybutton to the waist of my pants
and up again. I shivered uncontrollably and he
never took his eyes away from my face.
"You are the most beautiful creature to ever walk
this earth." He rested his head against my
stomach. I ran my fingers through his heavenly
hair.
"I guess death becomes me."
"No, my love. You've been this beautiful from the
moment you came into this world."
I cupped his cheek and pulled him up gently. He
covered my body with his own and leaned down to
press his perfect lips against mine.
"Hey guys!" Emmett's voice surprised me so much
I pushed Edward away with a little too much force.
He flew off me and landed with a thud on the floor
next to the bed.
"Oh God! Edward I'm so sorry!" Before I could even
finish my apology he was back on the bed, his
arms wrapped firmly around me.
"People are going to have to learn how to knock."
Edward stared pointedly at his brother who paid no
attention at all.
"I just wanted to let you guys know that we're
leaving. We're going hunting, all of us, all night.
You'll have the house to yourselves. There will be
no one around to hear you in case you turn out to
be a screamer."
Edward growled deeply. "Shut up, Emmett, before I
tell Rosalie all about how you scratched her car."
"I did no such thing!" He crossed his huge arms
over his chest. "The paint job is intact!"
"Well, you didn't exactly scratch it from the top
now, did you?"
"What?" Rosalie's outraged voice had some sort of
Doppler effect as she ran down the stairs and into
the garage.
"I thought you guys never had any accidents." I
teased.
"Oh, it wasn't an accident." Edward rumpled my
nearly dry hair, "Emmett and Jasper were playing
flying bumps."
"Flying bumps?" I frowned.
"Yeah. They go over a speed bump as fast as they
can and the one who flies the furthest wins."
"Well Jasper won't let me play with my car!"
Emmett defended himself. "He says it's too tall!"
"Hey! Leave me out of this!" Jasper's voice
sounded loud and clear even though he was
downstairs.
Rosalie's enraged roar could be heard all through
the house.
"Dude, are you trying to get me killed?" Emmett
complained to Edward.
"Well, are you trying to make me mad?"
"No, I was trying to get you laid!"
"Rosalie!" Edward's yell wasn't fast enough to
cover Emmett's comment. I couldn't help but
giggle at the whole situation, grateful that I could
no longer blush.
Alice appeared out of nowhere. She dragged
Emmett away with her, yelling over her shoulder.
"We won't go too far! Have fun and call if you need
anything!"
"Yes mom!" Edward rolled his eyes.
"Hey!" Esme complained.
I laughed and buried my face in Edward's chest
once more. I could get used to having a big family.
We stayed in bed for hours after everyone left.
While he stroked my hair I ran Emmett's words
over and over in my head. Was Edward expecting
something? Of course he was, we'd waited long
enough. But was I ready for it? I knew I wanted it to
happen, I just didn't know how to go about it.
"What are you thinking?" Edward interrupted my
musings.
"Erm... nothing much." My embarrassed eyes
alerted him, and he sat up with a sigh.
"I'm going to kill Emmett." He mumbled under his
breath.
"No, Edward. It's not... I mean it is, but I'm not..." I
stumbled over my words in an effort to express my
worries.
"Bella, listen to me." He pulled me up by the
shoulders and took my face between his hands.
"We have an eternity to be together. Don't stress
over this, don't rush it. When you're ready, you'll
know. And I'll be right here waiting for you."
I nodded "I want this to happen, I just..."
He placed a cool finger over my equally cold lips.
"Lets take your mind off this."
"What do you suggest?" I asked against his hand.
He gave me one of his boyish grins. "A walk."
We walked along the creek behind the house,
going deep into the forest surrounded by the cold
snow and the faint smell of animal blood. After
walking for half an hour I was pleased to realize I
wasn't tired or bored. Plus, I hadn't fallen once.
Edward squeezed my hand when we reached some
rock formations. I looked up into his penetrating
stare.
"Can you smell that?" He whispered.
"What?" I panicked for a moment, immediately
afraid we'd ran into something dangerous like an
unexpected human with a scrape.
"The rain, Bella." He tried not to laugh at my
reaction.
"What rain?" I frowned. At that precise moment,
the sky opened and buckets of water came
crashing down on us.
Edward pulled on my hand. "Let's run back."
Before I could even protest he was guiding me
back at a blinding speed. I followed him, matching
every step with my own. I saw the trees way before
we reached them, turned to avoid them even
before he pulled me away. My feet had a mind of
their own, they jumped over fallen branches and
rocks without any effort from my part.
Faster than I could've thought possible, we were
standing in front of the house again, but even the
dense forest couldn't keep us dry. By the time we
stopped in the clearing of Edward's back yard, we
were soaked through.
Instead of running inside, like I'd expected him to,
Edward placed his arms around my waist and
pulled me to him roughly. He pressed his nose
against my hair and inhaled. A purr escaped his
gorgeous throat.
"You smell so good in the rain." He growled at me.
"Still?" I looked up at him hopefully.
"More than ever before." He answered, "Only now
it's a good thing, and only a good thing."
I had to blink fast to keep the rain out of my eyes,
but when I caught sight of his face I froze, unable
to do so much as breathe. He was looking down at
me, his usually unruly hair clinging to his beautiful
forehead. His warm eyes, full of love and devotion,
were returning my stare. I looked past his chiseled
cheeks to his mouth. Rain ran down his face and
accumulated in the space between his perfect lips.
I couldn't help myself, I stood on my toes and
gently pressed my lips against his. My tongue
darted out to catch the moisture there. He tangled
his hands in my hair and pressed me against him,
deepening the kiss and pulling me even closer.
We stood there, kissing in the rain, until the storm
picked up. When the lightning started he didn't
even break our embrace, he just lifted me up by
the waist and carried me back inside. I wrapped my
legs around his waist, allowing him to take us back
to our room.
He sat me down on the bed, but to my immediate
disappointment he moved away. I reached out for
him, hoping for his arms once more, but he
remained at arm's length. He kept his eyes on me
while he reached into his drawer for flannel
pajamas. He took off his shit, making me
breathless at the sight, and then pushed down his
pants and replaced them with the pajama bottoms.
Never in all the time I'd been sharing a bed with
him had I seen him wear anything remotely like
that. He did walk up to me then, lifting me up to
stand next to him. I knew what he wanted to do, so
I lifted my arms and closed my eyes. He took the
hem of my shirt in his hands and pulled the
garment off me. I opened my eyes then, he was
holding out the shirt that matched the pants he
was wearing. I helped him pull it on me but let him
button me up. When that was done, he reached for
the button of my jeans. I bit my lip and
concentrated on my breathing while he pushed the
clingy fabric off me in one swift move.
He lifted me up again and laid me down over the
covers. Then he walked into the bathroom. I used
the few moments of privacy to remove my soaking
bra and toss it under the bed. He returned with a
hairbrush in his hands.
Edward turned me on my stomach and moved my
face to the side so he could brush my hair against
the pillow. My body tingled with the sensations that
created, from the top of my head down my spine to
my toes I shivered from the pleasure.
He noticed, of course, and discarded the brush
after a while. He reached underneath me and,
without turning me around to face him, unbuttoned
the top buttons of the shirt. He then pulled the
shirt down, exposing almost my whole back to him.
His feather-like touch against the small of my back
would've given me a heart attack if I'd been human
still.
He caressed me gently, not leaving an inch of my
exposed skin untouched. I was in heaven, more
than that, I was in Edward's bed. After hours of his
careful exploring I regained the ability to speak.
"Edward?"
My voice startled him after so many hours of
silence and he froze. "Yes?"
"Don't you think this is all... too easy?"
"We can slow down if you want..."
"No!" I quickly explained. "I don't mean this, I
mean... the whole thing."
I couldn't see him frown, but I could feel his
hesitation. "Meaning?"
"Meaning sure, I was in pain for three days, we got
attacked, we survived. I became a vampire, we
came here, I learned to control myself. Everything
seems to be going well, I seem strong enough to
resist human blood..."
"So what's the problem?" Edward asked.
"Exactly! I just thought this would be... well...
harder."
His hands left my back, much to my regret. But I
soon forgot about that when I felt his bare chest
pressed against my skin while he whispered. "You
will have to live forever craving something that you
can never have. You will no longer grow. You will
not get pregnant or be a mother. You will witness
the eventual death of everyone you care about
because of your immortality."
"Not everyone." I replied.
The only acknowledgment to my comment was a
kiss in the back of my neck. "What I mean is, the
hard part will catch up with you eventually. The
day will come when you regret becoming what you
are now."
"Lucky for me, you'll be right there to remind me of
why I did it." I pulled the shirt up so I could turn
around to face him. He lingered on top of me,
supporting his weight with his arms.
"Lucky for me." He mumbled before kissing me
passionately.
"Can I ask you something else?"
"Sure."
"You never answered my question before. What
happened when you saw me eating?"
He kissed me right behind my ear and whispered.
"When you see me hunt, you'll know."
We were still kissing gently when the others
returned. Edward shifted us, pulling the covers
over our bodies before Alice knocked.
"Guys, can I come in?" I knew she knew we weren't
doing anything, otherwise she never would've
interrupted.
"Sure." Edward answered. The door swung open
slowly and she danced right in, plopping down by
the foot of the bed.
"Is everything okay?" Edward and I sat up to look
into her light eyes.
"Oh yeah, the hunt went great. Lots of big animals.
Emmett had a blast with this huge bear. Esme
keeps telling him not to play with his food..."
"Alice!" Edward interrupted and looked down at
himself. We were completely covered, but we
weren't exactly properly dressed.
Alice glanced from her brother wearing pajama
bottoms to me wearing the top and laughed. "I'm
sorry. I just came here to tell you it's mid
afternoon. You might want to get ready for dinner."
I groaned, remembering our plans with my father.
Edward stared at Alice for a moment. She gave him
an almost imperceptible nod.
"Get ready, Bella. I want to take a drive around
town before locking you in with your father for an
hour."
I nodded and got out of bed. Alice left the room
gracefully while I looked for something to wear.
"Put on something you wouldn't normally wear!"
She said.
Edward frowned and I explained. "Extra distraction
from my vampire features."
He smiled "Of course."
I took a short brown skirt, a green blouse and a
sweater that matched. I dressed in the bathroom
by myself. Edward walked in while I was trying to
put on my contacts.
"Here." He lifted my chin and squeezed a couple of
drops into each eye. The lens slid right in.
"Keep these with you. You're going to need them."
He handed me the drops and caressed my strands
of black hair while I looked around for the chain
that my engagement ring usually rested in. I found
it in a jewelry box by the sink.
"So Alice thinks everything is going to be fine
tonight?" I asked him.
"You noticed." It wasn't a question.
"Of course." I simply responded.
"Yes, she sees you father safely in bed after our
dinner."
It was certainly comforting. I'd been pretty nervous
about it up until that point. Alice's certainty relaxed
me. Edward took my hand and I looked down at our
intertwined fingers. With great regret I took the
engagement ring off and looped the silver chain
around it. Edward helped me get it on. "The time
will come for everyone to see it on your finger" He
whispered.
"I know." I hid it underneath my clothes and
Edward took my hand.
"Come on." He handed me a pair of high-heeled
brown boots that I normally wouldn't even think
about wearing. "I don't want us to be late."
We drove around town for an hour. Edward
carefully watched my every move whenever we
drove by houses or stores. I felt the pull, the thirst,
the need, but I controlled it.
Edward pulled up my father's driveway, clearly
proud of my self-control.
"Bella, breathe as little as possible. If I see things
are getting too hard for you I'll pull you away. Now
the food, that's going to be a problem. Don't worry,
I'll help you get it out later."
I nodded, panic starting to bubble in the surface.
He ran the back of his hand over my cold cheek
and leaned close. "Stay calm, Bella, and everything
will turn out fine."
I nodded again and he kissed me gently before
running around the car in the downpour to get my
door open.
We huddled together by the door, trying to get
away from the rain while I knocked. It felt so weird
to do that.
Charlie must've been waiting in the living room for
us, because the door opened less than a second
later.
"Dad!" I greeted him enthusiastically.
"Bella!" He moved closer to hug me but then did a
double take. He took in my appearance, the
straight black hair and sophisticated clothes.
"You look... you look really nice!" He did hug me
then. I tensed up, holding my breath and getting
the now familiar pang of hunger instantly. Edward
touched the small of my back, reminding me of his
presence.
When the hug was over, I breathed again. "Alice
used me as a guinea pig." I rolled my eyes to make
it convincing. My dad laughed and ushered us in.
"Why are we standing in the rain? Come in! I have
dinner ready!"
Edward shook hands with him. Charlie even
managed to look a little happy to see him.
"So," Charlie asked as soon as we were seated,
"How was the cruise?"
"Rocky" I smiled pointedly at Edward. "But really
good at the end."
"I'm guessing you had fun."
"Tons."
My dad served us fried fish and chips. I got up to
help him with the drinks. Once we were all settled
he dropped the bomb.
"So, how are you liking this roommate
arrangement you two have going on?"
Edward, who had just picked up his fork, coughed. I
stared at my father in alarm.
"It's going great, dad." I made a face and he
shrugged.
"Well, I'm happy for you, sweetie." You could've cut
the tension with a knife right then.
To mask my discomfort, I took a bite of my fish.
When my teeth made contact with the disgusting
piece of so called food the fish dissolved instantly,
pulverized in a second. I hadn't been expecting my
teeth to be so sharp, so I bit down with the
normally required force, which resulted in my teeth
sliding past the food and grinding against each
other.
It was like nails on a chalkboard multiplied by a
million.
"Oh God!" I yelled, pushing my chair back and
covering my mouth with my hands.
"Bella?" My dad stood up as well, clearly
concerned.
Edward was by my side in an instant, pressing my
face to his chest while unpleasant shivers still ran
all over my body. "I think she bit her tongue."
I somehow managed to agree with his lie.
"Let me take you to the bathroom so we can take a
better look." He guided me out of the kitchen,
leaving my distressed father behind.
Once we were locked in the small room I let out a
little yelp. "You should've warned me about the
biting! The taste I was expecting, but the teeth..."
"Here," Edward opened my mouth and placed one
of his fingers in between my teeth. "Bite down on
that, it'll take away the nasty sensation."
I bit his rock-hard skin tentatively, relieved when it
didn't pulverize like the fish had. It did feel good to
bite.
"I'm sorry, Bella." His shoulders shook with
laughter. I wasn't ready to open my mouth yet, so I
slapped his arm gently, making him laugh even
harder.
"Okay, tell your dad you got a nasty cut in your
tongue and pretend you can't eat anymore
because it burns. In about fifteen minutes fake a
headache and I'll get us out of here."
I nodded. He opened the door and removed his
finger.
"Edward? How do you do it? How can you swallow
normal food?"
He grinned at me "Practice, my love."
We drove away, waving at my father who was
watching us from the door.
"Well, that was interesting." Edward mumbled.
Charlie had relaxed a little, but that didn't make
the air any less tense in the small kitchen.
"Just tell me how I'm going to get rid of that piece
of fish and the absurd amount of water Charlie
forced me to swallow." I could feel everything
sloshing around inside, a sensation I don't
recommend to anyone.
Edward laughed exuberantly but stopped abruptly
when something weird happened.
The Volvo sputtered, shook and died.
His eyes widened in alarm. With the momentum we
had from his fast driving we made it into a gas
station. He frowned, his perfect eyebrows pulled
together in concentration. Finally, realization hit
him.
"Rosalie, she was messing with my car. I wonder
what she did..." He got out and slammed the door
shut. I got out too and met him by the hood.
"Go back inside, Bella. There are too many people
around." He pointed at the little store behind the
pumps. I could smell them, all of them, so I
obediently returned to my seat.
He got one look at the engine and closed the hood.
I rolled down the window to hear him better. "I
need to go inside for a moment. It's nothing major
and I'm fairly sure I can find it here. Will you be
okay on your own for a minute?"
"Yeah." I nodded. He kissed my forehead and left. I
closed the windows and locked the doors.
I stared at his godlike figure while he talked to the
bored looking kid behind the counter. He told him
they had what he was looking for in the back and
the two of them went into the storage room.
I was so concentrated on staring at Edward that I
never noticed the dark figure standing next to my
window. The sound of knuckles against glass
startled me to no end.
I jumped, a hand flew to my throat in surprise. But
my fear soon changed into confusion.
"Jacob?" I frowned.
"Bella! Hi!" He motioned enthusiastically for me to
roll my window down.
It would've been too rude to say no, so I held my
breath and did as he asked.
"Hi there! How have you been? I've been looking
for you."
"You have?" My frown deepened, but his smile only
widened.
"Yeah! You are one hard girl to track down. I have
something for you."
"You do?" I asked wearily.
"Yeah, come with me! It's in my car. Oh, did I tell
you I finished my car?"
"Erm... no you didn't, but Edward should be out any
minute and we really should get home..."
"Oh come on! That's my car right over there! I
swear this will just take a second." He pointed at a
small car just on the other side of the road, near
the woods.
Jacob sounded too enthusiastic for me to say no, so
I reluctantly got out of the car and followed him. He
placed his hand on my elbow to guide me towards
his car. His skin felt so soft and deliciously warm
against my cold arm.
It was such a pleasant feeling that I freaked and
snapped my arm away in one blinding move. Jacob
froze and so did I. For a few endless seconds we
stared at each other. "I'm sorry." He finally broke
my eye contact. His skin turned scarlet and I got
hit with a wave of thirst.
"No, I'm sorry Jacob. I don't really like to be
touched. It was a reflex."
"You have fast reflexes." He mumbled under his
breath.
I took a quick breath, just to get enough air in so I
could speak. "You know, Jacob, this is really not the
best idea... Edward..."
"I just want to give something back to you. I swear
it will only take a second." I sighed but kept
walking next to him.
"What is it?" I asked a little more harshly than
necessary.
"You're not going to believe this, but a couple of
days after that car crash I was driving into town
and saw something black being blown away by the
wind. It got stuck on a tree. I stopped out of
curiosity."
We were by his car then. He opened the trunk and
retrieved something.
"My rain coat!" I exclaimed.
"I took it to your house, but Charlie told me you
were away on vacation and that you no longer live
there..."
"Thank you, Jacob. That was nice of you."
"You're welcome." He stared at his feet and kicked
a stone around with his toes.
I sensed there was something he wasn't telling me.
"What is it, Jacob?" I asked.
"Could I... could I talk to you for a moment?" He
looked nervous, fidgety. I'd seen him like that once
before, at prom.
"You have another message from Billy." It wasn't a
question.
He sighed. "Could we sit down?" He pointed at a
fallen tree trunk a few feet away in the woods.
I sat as far away from him as the tree trunk would
allow, but I could still smell him. I could still hear
his heartbeat and almost see the blood rushing
through the veins of his exposed neck.
"So, what was that thing you had to tell me,
Jacob?" It was getting hard to concentrate. I knew I
had to get away from him soon. No time for small
talk.
He stared at me, studying me in detail. I wanted so
badly to stop breathing completely but his
scrutinizing gaze forced me to act normal. I caught
a hint of something that looked like regret in his
eyes when he answered.
"I really do like you, Bella." I smiled at him, but
really I was just hoping the conversation wouldn't
go the way I thought it was going to.
Suddenly, an acid but appealing smell filled my
nostrils. I had smelled that once before, in a cow. It
was fear.
"I'm sorry, Bella."
I barely had time to frown before I saw the sharp
piece of glass in his hand. For a moment I went
back to my human ways and covered my face with
my arms. It took me a while to remember that he
couldn't hurt me, but what really made me take my
arms down was the sudden smell of human blood. I
looked up in time to see Jacob slashing his throat
open.
The Prophecy
DISCLAIMER: After reading New Moon by the
wonderful Stephenie Meyer I realized I was going
to have a hard time writing my story because there
are a lot of things that no longer fit, but also a lot
of little details (crucial to my story) that resemble
New Moon in a lot of ways. After thinking about it
for a while I decided that I will continue this story
exactly as it was planned almost five months ago.
Nightfall does not contain spoilers to New Moon.
Any resemblance to the book's story line is entirely
coincidental.
"I'm sorry, Bella."
I barely had time to frown before I saw the sharp
piece of glass in his hand. For a moment I went
back to my human ways and covered my face with
my arms. It took me a while to remember that he
couldn't hurt me, but what really made me take
my arms down was the sudden smell of human
blood. I looked up in time to see Jacob slashing his
throat open.
I lost myself. The second his scent hit my nostrils I
became somebody else. Something else. I threw
myself at him, unable to stop and think about what
was going on.
The taste of human blood, Jacob's human blood,
was overpowering. Never in my life had I felt such
a deep and overwhelming pleasure as the one I got
from the warm, red liquid as it filled my mouth and
traveled down my throat. The taste was wild, so
filling, so consuming. I was barely aware of my
teeth sinking into his already slashed throat.
Out of nowhere a strong, irresistible force pulled
me backwards, away from Jacob's limp body. I
heard the growls and the snapping sounds fill the
air. It took me a while to realize they were coming
from me. Edward was yelling my name, holding me
back. In spite of all the love I felt for him, I wanted
to hurt him, to cripple him so he'd let me go, so I
could get back to that taste.
He dragged me backwards. I kicked and screamed
the whole way but the more he pulled me away the
easier it became for me to control myself. Finally I
couldn't smell Jacob anymore, and reality sank in.
"Oh God." I mumbled.
As soon as he heard me speak coherently, Edward
threw me over his back and ran home.
The whole Cullen clan was standing in the living
room when Edward burst in. Alice took one worried
look at me and sighed. "I was hoping it hadn't
happened yet." She mumbled.
I was trembling, the reality of what I'd done slowly
sinking in. My super human mind processed the
facts quickly. I drank Jacob's blood, that fact
repulsed me and made me loath myself. But he
hurt himself, why would he do that
He'd known about me, I was sure of it. He'd known
and he'd done it on purpose. But what was he
trying to do? And why? Did Billy have something to
do with it? Would he really sacrifice his son? And
for what?
Questions clouded my mind while Edward filled
everyone in. I didn't listen to his side of the story, I
was busy looking for answers in my head. What I
did hear was Rosalie's harsh voice.
"I told you it was a bad idea! I told you she'd bring
nothing but trouble to this family!" Rosalie growled
in anger.
Edward roared right back at her, then turned to
Alice. "Why didn't you see it coming? I could've
taken her away! I should've taken her away."
Alice threw her arms in the air. "I don't know! It
wasn't supposed to happen like this!"
The shock I'd felt slowly started to ware off.
Something else was filling my head now, intense
guilt, dread and panic.
"We have to leave, right now before he's found."
Carlisle looked about to dash over to his car but
Alice stopped him.
"It's too late. They know."
Edward cursed under his breath. "I left the Volvo in
the gas station. We'll be linked to this sooner or
later."
Rosalie stared at me with such hatred she made
me wince. "You just had to go and eat the young
son of an elder for supper didn't you?"
I couldn't look at her. I had taken Jacob's blood, just
not his life. Somehow, the feelings that consumed
me had formed a knot on my throat that prevented
me from telling her this.
"That's not how it happened, Rosalie." I managed
to mumble through the knot.
Edward ran a hand through his tousled hair in
frustration and then pulled me close to him. His
strong arms around my body comforted me for a
moment. "It doesn't matter how it happened.
We've all fallen off the wagon at some point. We
just need to get out of here and fast."
I could tell from the tone of his voice that he
blamed himself for everything. It broke my heart.
"We had a good thing going here for us you stupid
little girl." Rosalie spat out.
"Rosalie that's enough!" Carlisle told her firmly.
"Now everyone go pack. I want you all ready to
leave in thirty seconds." He yelled out his
instructions and everyone ran off to carry them
out.
"I'll go check the gas in the cars." I offered and ran
to the garage before anyone could object.
I'd never felt something quite like the guilt that
weighted me down right then. I had taken a life, an
actual human life. My stomach tightened painfully
and the panic consumed me so fully I had to stop
on the porch and lean on the doorframe for
support. I had been a part of Edward's family for
less than a month and already I was putting them
all in danger. Something wasn't right, Jacob's
strange actions made me feel like something
bigger than myself had been set in motion and I
had the feeling I wouldn't be able to stop it.
I closed my eyes and tried to think about the worst
case scenario. The police would probably look for
us. No, that wasn't the source of my bad feeling.
The Cullens knew how to start over. So what was it
then?
I couldn't answer the question, but the irrational
fear that I had for Edward's safety continued to
press down on me. It came to me then. I knew
what I had to do.
When I got to the renovated barn I just kept going.
I flew into the woods, running as fast as I could
towards Jacob's body.
I still didn't know exactly what was going on, but
there was one thing I did know. Billy was behind
the whole thing. He was probably trying to expose
me, or maybe he just wanted me and the Cullens
as far away from Forks as possible. And yet it
seemed like too much, sacrificing a child just to
bully us into leaving.
I stopped a few yards away, just enough so the
scent of Jacob's blood couldn't reach me if I held
my breath. I could hear lots of people already at
the scene. The truth of what I had done hadn't fully
sunk in yet, so I was able to stand calmly away
from everybody to plan my next move. I hid behind
a tree. The thin clouds covering the sun shielded
me from the rays, but I still hung around the
shadows of the forest, waiting for my moment.
I walked closer, careful not to make any noise. I
could see cops surrounding Jacob's body. The one
camera crew in Forks had already arrived. I spotted
Billy sitting in his chair under a tree. Another
Quileute elder stood next to him, I remembered the
man from my childhood. He was Billy's brother.
The somewhat younger man was trying to comfort
his sibling by gently placing a hand on his
shoulder. His bright blue eyes contrasted
wonderfully with his dark skin and his hair blew in
the wind, making him look imposing and wise. One
of the cops called his name and he left Billy alone
to go answer. The long hair, already tainted with
white, flew around his face, making the elder even
more magnificent.
I got closer to Billy. He wasn't near the body, which
made my job somewhat easier. I placed my cold
hand on his shoulder and he stiffened instantly.
"Isabella." He said my name without even turning
around to see me.
Staring at the broken man in front of me crumbled
my defenses. "I'm so sorry Billy." My voice cracked
with pent up emotion. "I still don't fully understand
what happened but..."
"I asked you to stay away, Bella. Why didn't you
listen to me?" His voice was so full of sorrow it
made me shudder with sadness. His eyes were
focused on something. Following his gaze I
discovered he was staring at his son's body. If I
could've cried I would've broken down right then.
As it was, my body could only shake with the silent
sobs that overtook me.
"Her! She was in the car too!" I heard someone yell
from the road. The two cops interviewing the guy
who worked at the gas station turned around to
stare at me. I guessed they had made the
connection with Edward's abandoned car after all.
"Look, Billy." I knelt down next to him, "I will go
with you. I'll go quietly. You can do anything you
want with me, just leave the Cullens alone."
Billy shook his head sadly. "This isn't about you,
Bella. It's not even really about them. You have
started a war, one that was announced by our
people a long time ago. You fit the description
perfectly. You were meant to kill my son."
The two officers were approaching quickly. One of
them grabbed my arm and pulled me up. "You
need to come with me miss Swan. We need you to
answer some questions."
"Billy, I didn't kill him." I didn't resist the officer, I
had to be careful with my strength. "He did it
himself, Billy!" I yelled while they half dragged me
away. His sad eyes were still focused on Jacob, but
he looked up suddenly to stare at me. His brother
walked up to him and placed a supporting hand on
his shoulder. He glared at me and I found myself
unable to look away from his penetrating gaze.
Then the officer yanked on my arm and the spell
was suddenly broken.
I wanted to study Billy's reaction to my words more
carefully, but at that moment I saw something that
made my heart sink. Chief Swan had arrived.
"What are you doing with my daughter? Let her go,
Hanson!" He barked at the young police officer
holding my arm. His demand was so strong that
Hanson not only dropped my arm, but he stepped
away from me quickly.
"We found the Cullen boy's car abandoned in the
gas station." Hanson tried to explain himself.
Charlie glanced at Jacob's body once and flinched
with pain. "Bella, do you know anything about
this?"
I opened my mouth to speak but for once I couldn't
come up with a decent lie, so I just closed it again.
"Did Edward have something to do with this?"
Charlie's hands shook, so he shoved them into his
jacket pockets.
"No, dad." I shook my head.
He sighed. "Where is he?"
"I don't know."
His next words surprised me. "Take her downtown.
I'll interrogate her when I'm done here."
"Dad?" I frowned.
"Keep a close watch on her until I figure this all
out."
I sighed. He was afraid Edward had done
something to Jacob. But he was even more afraid
I'd try to skip town with him.
As we approached the road, leaving the forest
behind us, I saw that a small group of camera
crews had already arrived at the scene. I wondered
where they came from while Hanson escorted me
to the car.
I also wondered what I was going to tell everyone. I
couldn't escape, not if it meant putting the Cullens
at risk. I'd been good at coming up with stories
even since I started dating Edward, but this one
was going to require some serious imagination.
Something, other than my sudden arrest, was
troubling me. What had Billy meant when he said
I'd started a war? What did they want? A sacrifice?
Well there I was for them to take. I would've done
anything to keep Edward and his family safe.
Standing in the shadow of a huge tree I discovered,
much to my dismay, that the thin clouds had
parted. The sun shone, opaque but clear, on the
road. A good 20 feet of sunshine separated me
from the squad car. I sighed, resigned. The chief
was going to find out about me after all.
I heard him then, well, not him exactly, more like
the gush of wind the fast pace of his body left
behind. I saw him running towards me, his face
determined. He ran faster than I'd ever seen him
run before.
No, Edward stop! My mind yelled at him. Did he
know he was about to run by a camera at a
hundred miles per hour? Stop Edward! Stop! I'd
stopped walking so I could stare at him. He
couldn't read my mind but maybe he'd be able to
read my face.
Stop Edward! I was getting desperate and he was
getting closer.
Edward, STOP!
He froze, his body rigid. He stared at me with wild
eyes while he stood, unmoving, in the middle of
the road.
His body burst into a million diamonds as the sun
hit him. His glowing face started at me with panic.
What the hell are you doing? Run! My mind yelled
at him. He moved so fast I almost missed him. He
crashed into me, the sound booming all around us.
He didn't even stop, he just lifted me in his arms
and kept running away from the cops, away from
Billy, away from the camera crew.
My superhuman ear allowed me to hear one of the
reporters exclaim, "What the hell was that?"
He kept running and didn't stop until we were in
the woods close to his house. He placed me gently
on the ground, and then started yelling at me.
"Isabella what were you thinking!" His hands shook
my shoulders. I stared at him with wide eyes. His
face was hard, he was obviously frustrated by my
actions.
For a moment I thought he was talking about what
I'd been thinking when he froze in the middle of the
road, so I answered with a weak, "I don't know..."
"Bella, my god, do you know what you almost did?
Do you realize the kind of danger you almost put
yourself in!" He shook me again. Apparently he
was taking advantage of the fact that I was no
longer breakable. The tight hold he had of my
shoulders was gentle but firm. He wanted to get his
point across, no matter what. Only his point didn't
really make sense to me.
"I... what danger?"
"What danger? Bella, what were you going to do?
March up to your father and say: "hey dad, I guess
I should tell you, I'm a vampire! Watch me
glitter!"? We have laws, Bella!" His deep voice
rumbled in his chest.
"You're yelling at me because I tried to turn myself
in." Realization hit me slowly.
"Of course I'm yelling at you for that! You were
about to step into the sun!"
"But you walked right into it! Further more, you
stopped right in the middle of it, IN FRONT OF A
CAMERA!" I started shaking on my own. He took
one look at my trembling body and pulled me close
to him, embracing me forcefully.
I buried my face in his chest and tried to stop my
tearless sobs. His hands framed my face as he
leaned down to kiss me. His lips were hard against
mine. It was a desperate kiss. He poured all his
worry and frustration into it. I buried my fingers in
his hair and pulled him to me, desperate to taste
him, to feel some sort of comfort.
He broke the kiss abruptly, pushing me gently
away so he could stare into my eyes. "Don't worry
about me, Bella. I can take care of myself. I'll
handle the exposure. I just want you to be safe
okay?"
"What do you mean you can take care of yourself?"
I frowned when I heard him sigh.
"We need to keep moving. I'll explain everything to
you later." He let go of me and took my hand. He
tried to pull me along but I didn't move.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
"It was my fault." I replied in a small voice.
"It was your absurd sense of right and wrong, but it
wasn't your fault. I should've known better, I
should've kept you close to me..."
"No, not that. I mean that too, but that's not what I
was talking about."
Edward dropped my hand to frame my face with
his long fingers once again. "Bella, what's going
on?"
"Why did you stop running? Right in front of that
reporter, why did you do it?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. I froze up. It was like I
couldn't move."
"Don't you think that's a little weird?" I asked
hysterically.
"Bella, we don't have time to think about this right
now. We have to get out of here! It was probably
fear for your safety! Or your sanity, either way..."
I couldn't hold his gaze. He finally noticed my guilty
face and stopped short. "You did it?" He asked in
amazement.
"I'm not sure. I was yelling at you in my head for
you to stop and..."
"Wait." Edward shushed me with his hand, "Not
here. We can talk on the way." He led me deeper
into the forest and took my hand. "Run with me,
Alice hid your car for us."
"My car?" I immediately thought of my old, red
truck. I loved it to death, but the poor thing would
never be able to handle Edward's desperate
driving.
"Your birthday present, remember?"
We stopped running right in front of my long
forgotten Porsche 911.
"Get in." He commanded. For once, I didn't argue.
He drove north, that was all I knew. In the darkness
of the car I was finally able to think. So many
things had happened in the last few hours I felt as
if I'd dreamed it all. I retraced my steps slowly,
trying to make sense of everything.
I'd gone for a walk with Jacob, we talked, he asked
for forgiveness and then killed himself. I
remembered the taste of his blood, it was clearer
in my mind than anything else. Just the thought of
it made my insides churn with hunger. The truth
started to sink in then. Jacob Black was dead, and
I'd attacked his mangled body like an animal.
I didn't even realize I was shaking until Edward
covered my hand with his own. He was staring at
me with concern. "You look terrible, Bella. Are you
alright?"
"Jake is dead." I whispered.
Edward sighed. "I'm so sorry, Bella." I detected
something in his words, some ancient sadness that
I'd never heard before. I also sensed guilt, worry,
but most of all, regret.
"You're sorry you gave into my pleas and changed
me into a vampire." I whispered.
"Yes, there's that. But I'm more sorry for not taking
you away like I should have. I just thought we had
more time, I thought we'd see it coming."
It was almost as if he were speaking to himself. I
analyzed his words carefully. What Alice had said
just a few hours ago came to my mind then. It
wasn't supposed to happen like this.
"You knew." It wasn't a question, it was a fact.
Edward just kept driving.
"How?" I asked. It took him so long to answer I was
almost convinced he wasn't going to. "They had
legends. When we first met them, they told us.
They didn't want us in their land not because they
thought we posed a threat to them, even if they
didn't really believe we could restrain ourselves,
but because they knew you were coming."
I stared at him, confused and waiting to hear the
rest of the story. He continued in a whisper. "They
had one legend in particular, a prophecy if you will,
about a human girl being turned into a vampire out
of love. Something about facing an accidental
death and being saved by a cold one who couldn't
bear watching her die. That human would start the
war between the cold ones and the wolves, they
said."
He wasn't making much sense. He must've seen
my confused look because he let go of the wheel to
caress my cheek. "You've got to understand, what
they described is pretty rare. In case of an
accident, blood would most likely be spilled. There
are not many vampires out there who would be
able to resist the bloodlust in order to turn
someone. The love would have to be deep, selfless,
more powerful than the lust. That's incredibly
uncommon, in fact, I've only seen it happen once
before you."
"Rosalie and Emmett…" I whispered under my
breath.
Edward nodded "Only in their legends it had to be
a girl. You fit perfectly."
"If you knew this was going to happen, why didn't
you tell me? Was this why you refused to change
me for so long?"
He took a deep breath. "The burden of destiny can
be pretty heavy. Bella, at first I thought I could
protect you! Keep you safe as a human, away from
any harm. It soon became clear to me that you'd
have no problem getting killed in an accident.
Bella, if it ever came down to changing you or
losing you," He took my face in his hand again,
forcing me to look at him. "I'd change you in an
instant. I'm too selfish to watch you die. I would
have loved to see you live a long and happy life as
a human, but if you were to die at such young
age..."
He closed his eyes before continuing, "I thought if
you were changed by choice that you wouldn't... I
mean you no longer..." I'd never seen him struggle
for words like that. "Besides, I guess I never really
believed their legends. Who would've thought
you'd actually kill an elder's son."
His last words sent me into a shaking fit again. He
wrapped his arm around me and pulled me close.
"So you see, it's all my fault. I'm so sorry, Bella. I'm
disgusted with myself for not being strong enough,
for not doing what was best for you. If you want to
leave me for not telling you everything, I
understand. I see now I shouldn't have kept such a
thing from you. I just thought I was looking out for
you, giving you a chance at happiness."
"There is only one problem with your story,
Edward." I whispered.
"Oh?" He tightened his hold of me.
"I did not kill Jacob Black. He slid his own throat
with a sharp glass. Once the blood started flowing,
I couldn't hold myself back. Somehow, I think he
knew the reaction I'd have to his blood."
He let go of me so fast if I hadn't been a vampire I
would've fallen sideways. In a flash, his tiny silver
cell phone was at his ear.
"Alice. We were set up."
I looked out the window then, as if some invisible
force were pulling my eyes to the side of the road.
A huge, wild, furry animal sat a few feet away from
the highway. Its sheer size made me cringe with
fear. It stared at us as we drove by with its
powerful blue eyes.
Answers
THIS CHAPTER IS RATED STONG T FOR VIOLENCE,
SEXUAL SITUATIONS AND MATURE THEMES
(it's nowhere near M so don't get too excited, but
either way, you have been warned)
He let go of me so fast if I hadn't been a vampire I
would've fallen sideways. In a flash, his tiny silver
cell phone was at his ear.
"Alice. We were set up."
I looked out the window then, as if some invisible
force were pulling my eyes to the side of the road.
A huge, wild, furry animal sat a few feet away from
the highway. Its sheer size made me cringe with
fear. It stared at us as we drove by with its
powerful blue eyes.
I could hear Alice yelling over the phone,
screaming about the news and the danger and god
knows what else. Edward tried to calm her down
long enough to speak. After a minute of yelling
back and forth Alice told him to go to some hotel.
They got off the phone and Edward slammed his
feet on the gas pedal. The forest flew past us in a
blur. I kept thinking about the huge beast I'd just
seen on the side of the road. "Edward, there was
an animal..."
"I know." He answered, but offered no more
information. I noticed his clenched jaw and tight
hold on the steering wheel and decided to stay
quiet until he calmed down.
I tried to order my thoughts. I'd seen those
powerful eyes before, more than once now that I
thought about it. I'd seen them in the woods near
Edward's house a while ago. I'd seen them in the
meadow at the end of my transformation. But I'd
also seen them recently, just a few minutes before
in fact. Not many eyes could have that pull, that
kind of gravity.
Realization hit me like lightning. The huge animal
had the eyes of Billy Black's brother, the Quilute
elder.
"What the hell is going on here?" I shrieked.
"I thought you would've figured it out by now."
Edward murmured.
"That was a wolf!"
"Good girl. You're halfway there."
"But... wait, what?" I stuttered. "Are you trying to
tell me that beast was actually Billy's brother?"
Edward raised his eyebrows at me. "Yes, that
makes sense."
"How does that make any sense?" Nothing made
much sense to me.
"Wolves and vampires have been enemies for a
long time." Edward offered.
I remembered a conversation I'd had a while ago,
with the very person I'd eaten for lunch that
afternoon. "The Quilutes turn into wolves?"
Edward nodded once. I raised my eyebrows.
"That's like... physically impossible!"
"You are a walking, talking, crystallized, immortal
being and you're talking to me about physical
impossibilities?" Edward let out a strained laugh.
"But how do they even do it? I mean, where do
they keep all the fur?"
Edward turned to stare at me like I was losing my
mind and shook his head. "You're focusing on all
the wrong things. You see, Bella, those wolves are
the only creatures out there capable of hurting a
vampire. We had a treaty, one that you broke
today when you bit Jacob."
Even thought his gaze wasn't accusing me of
anything, I hung my head in shame. "What do they
want? Will they follow us? Hunt us down for
revenge?"
"You're missing the big picture, my love. They are
not the only pack of wolves in the world. They're
not even the only one in the country! Any vampire
that runs into wolf territory will be hunted. As soon
as the word gets out that wolves are on the prowl
the vampires will attack. We are quite defensive in
nature."
I stared at him, my eyes wide as saucers.
"Bella." He cupped my face with his hand. His eyes
were sad, remorseful even. "You have started the
war."
Edward guided me up the stairs of a hotel
somewhere in Canada without even bothering to
ask for the room number. He'd gone off the road to
cross the border and he refused to take the
elevator. I guessed he was keeping something from
me.
He pushed the door of a suite open and dragged
me in. Emmett was sitting on a couch with Rosalie.
She looked pissed, he seemed weary. Alice was
pacing with her eyes closed, her head rolling from
side to side. Jasper stood leaning against a wall
close to the door with his arms crossed. Esme,
sitting on the edge of the bed, looked profoundly
worried. Carlisle was staring at the television, even
though it wasn't on. He was holding the remote
control.
No one moved when we walked in. Esme let out a
relieved sigh and Carlisle, his gaze troubled, turned
on the T.V.
"... is still unknown. Experts studying this tape
believe it was probably a light effect, even though
they haven't been able to..."
He switched the channel without a word.
"... is the angel of death! The time has come for
the final..."
Switch
"... are coming to get us! Don't let the government
tell you lies! The aliens are here!"
Switch
"... will try to contact the spirit again. The troubled
soul..."
Carlisle turned it off again. "Lucky for us, no one
knows that vampires glitter. Even though I doubt
the Volturi will see it that way."
"The what?" I frowned but Alice interrupted before I
could get my answer.
"If the Quileutes are really setting us up they might
leak the story."
"Can't you tell what their plans are?" Rosalie asked
her.
"Do you think we'd be in this mess if I could?" Alice
snapped.
"Calm down, girls. This is not the time to lose our
tempers." Esme scolded them.
"I'm just saying, something like this must've taken
some serious planning. I never saw it coming."
Alice shrugged. "I'm guessing you didn't either."
She spoke to Edward.
He shook his head. "The boy let me see what he
wanted me to see. He must've known about us
from the beginning. He set the whole thing in
motion."
"Explain." Emmett leaned forward.
"He was the one who told Bella about us. He also
told her about the wolves, probably as a warning."
"Too bad she wasn't smart enough to pick that part
up." Rosalie mumbled. Edward growled in her
direction.
"How did he get you to go with him into the
woods?" Carlisle asked me.
"He was returning my jacket. The one I lost the day
before my transformation."
"The one that lead the other vampire to you?" Alice
asked.
I shrugged "Yeah, I guess."
"So that's how they got around it." Edward
smacked his forehead. "The other vampire bit you
before you were fully transformed. If you hadn't
been halfway into becoming a vampire, you
would've been killed. Their legends said you had to
be changed because of an accident... I guess that
fits, but it's a huge stretch."
"But why would the Quileutes want to set us up like
this? Why start a war?" I was on the verge of a
freakout. Edward noticed and wrapped his arms
around me.
"Vampires kill people, lots of them, on a regular
basis. They want to rid the wolrd of vampires, you
were just the excuse. Think of this as our kind
being terrorists and the wolves being the
government."
I opened my mouth and then closed it again. It
made sense, too much sense.
"It doesn't matter how it happened or why. We
have to deal with the consequences and we have
to do so quickly. I have a plan but we'll have to
wait until tonight to carry it out. While we're
waiting, would you like to explain why you froze in
front of a camera on broad daylight?" Carlisle
asked. He wasn't scolding Edward, the way an
angry father would, he sounded merely curious.
"Well, we think we found Bella's gift." Edward
answered.
"That was your doing?" Rosalie shrieked.
"Rosalie, please. Bella, would you explain?"
Everyone stared at me, which made it hard for me
to be coherent. "Hum... well... Edward was running
towards me, he was about to fly past the camera. I
wanted him to stop so badly and then all of a
sudden... he did."
Everyone was silent for the longest time. Finally
Carlisle spoke.
"Emmett, please stand up."
Edward's burly brother jumped off the couch
gracefully.
"Bella, try to make him sit."
"I don't exactly know how to control this." I
protested.
"Just try, please."
I couldn't say no to Carlisle. Edward gave my hand
a gentle squeeze and then let go of me. I tried to
concentrate, thinking to myself sit Emmet. Sit
down. Sit. Nothing happened.
"Maybe if you said it out loud." Carlisle suggested.
I nodded. "Emmett, sit."
"Great, what am I? A poodle?" Emmet folded his
arms but remained standing.
"Why isn't it working?" I frowned.
"Well, maybe that's not how your gift works. Or
maybe you're not trying the right way. Bella, do
you really want Emmett to sit?" Carlisle asked.
"Well, if he wants to, then sure." I fidgeted.
"That's your problem right there. Bella, you have to
want him to do what you say, regardless of what
he wants. That's probably why we hadn't seen your
gift before, you don't like forcing people's hand."
I sighed. "How do I make myself want to sit him
down?"
Carlisle leaned against the window. "That, I don't
know. Try once more."
I nodded and closed my eyes. I could tell everyone
was waiting for something to happen.
Sit down Emmett. Sit on that couch. Sit! I repeated
over and over.
"Visualize it." Edward's deep voice breathed in my
ear.
I squeezed my eyes shut and concentrated on
picturing him already sitting. Sit, Emmett. Damn it,
SIT!
I opened my eyes in time to see him drop on the
couch with such force it sent him and Rosalie flying
backwards. They both jumped to their feet before
the couch even hit the ground and immediately
turned to stare at me.
Edward was beaming proudly, Alice's jaw was on
the floor. Even Jasper looked excited. But when my
eyes met Carlisle's, my face fell.
He was staring at me, just like everyone else, only
his eyes were grave with worry. "My God, Bella.
You can control people."
"Apparently so." I answered, still confused by his
reaction. "Is that a bad thing?"
"No one, that I know of, has ever had that gift.
There are some that can control your feelings like
Jasper or some that can talk you into doing things,
like Jonathan, but physical actions? Never."
"There's a first time for everything, I guess. Don't
worry, I don't think I'll use it much."
"That's not what worries me."
Suddenly Edward's eyes shot wide open. He
wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me
against his body in a very protective manner, even
though there was nothing that could hurt me.
"Bella, some vampires would kill to have that
power. Others would kill the one who has it. The
Volturi will most likely go with the second option."
I froze in Edward's arms. Even though the Volturi
name meant nothing to me, I figured it wasn't
something to be taken lightly. "Why would they
want that?"
"Imagine being a very old, very powerful vampire
and discovering that there is a girl out there who
can make you do anything she wants. They might
try to talk you into joining them, but I'm not sure.
Your gift is too powerful, if you turned against
them..."
Edward roared. "I'd rather die than watch them
take her!"
"Well thanks to her, you probably will. Lets not
forget, they're looking for you." Rosalie, who was
perched on the couch again, froze me with her
stare.
"Why are they looking for you? And who the hell
are they?" I asked in a small voice.
"The Volturi are the most powerful family of our
kind. They're the oldest, that we know of, and they
all live together. You've seen them, the heads of
the family. The three 'brothers'." Edward explained.
"The painting in Carlisle's study." I remembered.
Edward just nodded.
"You see, Bella, we have rules -laws, if you will-
that we're forced to follow." Carlisle went to sit by
Esme.
"There are only three. The first one is that we're
not to intrude in other vampire's territory. A lot of
fights result from this law being broken. The
second one is never to kill or put one of your kind
in harm's way unless they've broken one of the
rules. Now there's something you've got to
understand here. The Volturi don't usually enforce
these two laws. To be quite honest, they don't
care. They only made them to protect their family."
"So what's the third law?" I asked.
"The third one is the only one they'll do anything to
enforce. It's quite simple, really."
I understood then. Fear washed over me as I
whispered. "Stay hidden."
Carlisle nodded. "Never, ever expose what we are
to the humans. Edward not only broke that one,
but they have it on tape."
"Not to mention he'll also be blamed for the war
with the werewolves." Rosalie snapped.
I felt my world crumbling. I'd done this. I'd forced
Edward to put himself in mortal danger to save
me.
"I think she's having a panic attack." Alice rushed
over to my side. Edward was already there, holding
me steady. "Bella? Calm down! It's going to be
fine." He tried to soothe me. I was glad
hyperventilation could no longer hurt me.
"Jasper." Edward asked for him. I saw Alice's
husband approaching me with his hand
outstretched. At first I considered fighting the wave
of calmness that he was about to shoot through my
body, but then I realized I had to stay calm so I
could think things through and come up with a
plan.
I welcomed his touch on my shoulder, but no one
expected what happened next. A calmness so
profound it was almost lethargy slammed into us,
all of us. Alice and Edward staggered backwards,
dropping to the floor looking dazzled and confused.
I crumbled next to them, feeling like I'd just been
twirled around in the air for an hour.
Jasper pulled his hand back instantly and
everything went back to normal. Edward, Alice and
I picked ourselves up from the floor. Carlisle and
Esme, who had slumped down on the bed, jumped
to their feet too.
Jasper stared at his hand and then at me. "What
the hell was that?"
"Jasper, what did you do?" Esme shook her head,
probably trying to clear it.
"I didn't do anything different! I tried to calm Bella
down and then... I don't know, I felt utterly out of
control. It was as if my abilities had a life of their
own!" Alice ran to him, placing her hand on his arm
to comfort him.
"Maybe Bella can't be affected the way she used
to." She offered as an explanation.
"Try to see something about me, Alice." My voice
shook when I asked.
She closed her eyes and concentrated, then shook
her head. "It's all normal. Exactly the same as
before."
"Maybe it wasn't me, I think I felt the same way
you all did." I must've sounded worried, because
Edward wrapped his arms around me and pulled
me close.
"I guess only time will tell." Carlisle commented. He
was lost in thought, clearly trying to figure it all
out.
Edward glanced down at me and bit his lip. He
looked so adorable it mesmerized me. "You need to
rest." He whispered to me.
"Of course I don't." I protested. It was a ridiculous
thing for him to even suggest.
"I don't mean physically, I mean emotionally.
You've had too many surprises for one day. You
need time to digest the information before some
other unexplainable event occurs."
Carlisle nodded in Edward's direction and tossed
him a key. "The sun is about to rise. We'll meet
back here after twilight."
Edward nodded and placed his hand on the small
of my back, guiding me to the door and down the
hall to a separate room.
I staggered in, trying to make sense of everything
I'd learned in one day. It was so much it didn't feel
real. I was almost sure I'd end up waking up in my
bed at Charlie's any second.
Edward closed the door behind us and placed the
key on the coffee table. I could see a few pink rays
of light leaking through the gap of the curtains. I
stood by the window, pulling the shades back
slightly to glance outside. A ray of sunlight
reflected off my cold skin and bounced away in
every direction. Edward wrapped his arms around
me and pulled me away from the window gently.
"You can take a shower if you want. It might do you
good to get cleaned up."
For the first time since the whole mess started I
looked down at myself. I gasped, I was wearing the
skirt and booths Alice had dressed me in the day
before. My knees were caked with dirt, the skirt
was so wrinkled it rode up to expose my thighs.
The most shocking was my shirt, though. It had dry
splotches of blood all over. My hands were black
with mud and my nails looked as if I'd been
dragged around the forest floor.
"Yeah, I think a shower would be good." I nodded.
Edward laid down on the bed while I turned the
water on.
I turned it as hot as it could go. The scalding hot
water felt good against my perpetually cold skin. I
allowed the steam to relax me a little before
washing my dirty hair with hotel shampoo. When I
felt clean again I turned the water off and wrapped
myself in a fluffy white towel.
Edward was still on the bed when I left the
bathroom. He was staring at the ceiling, lost in
thought. He caught me staring at him with worry
and turned on the TV just so he could have
something to look at. I dropped my messy clothes
on a chair and glanced around for my bag. It wasn't
there, so I settled for the next best thing.
I sat down on the bed next to him and started
unbuttoning his shirt. His eyes were glued to the
TV, the news were on. He sat up so I could take his
shirt, kissing my wrist gently when I reached over
him to tug the fabric away from his body, and then
laid back down while I went into the bathroom to
change.
When I finished buttoning up the shirt I joined him
again. The woman on screen was talking about
several people who'd gone missing in Washington
after the mysterious death of a teenage boy.
Apparently vampires were already looking for us,
and they were getting some takeout while they
were at it.
"How bad is it?" My voice trembled slightly.
"I'll manage." Was his answer, which didn't
convince me at all.
"Who exactly is looking for us?" I sat down on the
edge of the bed.
"I told you, the Volturi are looking for me." He
answered.
I crawled over to him and framed his face with my
hands, forcing his eyes away from the television.
"Don't lie to me, Edward."
He sighed, then sat up. "I don't want you to worry,
but I'm going to tell you so you can understand
what I have to do next."
His tone scared me. I sat up a little straighter.
"The truth is, Bella, every vampire out there is
looking for me. Well, maybe not every single one,
but most of them."
I froze. Fear consumed me as I asked. "Why?
Because you broke some law?"
Edward shook his head "Because of the reward."
"What reward?"
"My head has a price now. I broke the most
important rule in the most obvious of ways. My
guess is, anyone who takes me back to the Volturi,
dead or alive, will earn a place in the family."
Panic, despair, dread and doubt all spread over me
like a cancer. But something he said before
terrified me even more than what I'd just learned.
"Why are you telling me this?" I whispered.
He closed his eyes. Pain masked his face for a brief
second before he pulled himself together. When he
looked at me again, his eyes were cold. "Because I
have to leave you."
Five words and my world crumbled. And the fear
meant nothing, and the guilt meant nothing and all
I could think about was how easily I had given up
the option of killing myself when I became a
vampire. Before I could fully process, before I could
even start to panic, determination took over.
"No." I wasn't begging, I was simply stating a fact.
"Bella, I have to. It's too dangerous..."
"No. If you leave us you'll get killed in no time. At
least if we stick together we have a fighting
chance."
"I won't put you at risk like that. If they kill me at
least I'll know you're safe."
"No." I said again, a little louder this time. I backed
off the bed, getting away from him so his
smothering gaze couldn't waver my resolve.
"Bella..."
"No. No I will not let you get yourself killed."
His perfect brow wrinkled. "I am not asking for your
permission, Bella. I am keeping you safe no matter
what."
I crossed my arms over my chest stubbornly and
then dropped the bomb. "If you leave me, I'll go to
the Volturi and tell them it was my fault."
He was standing in front of me before I could even
blink. "Isabella don't you dare. They will not care
either way, it's me they have on tape. If you go to
them, they'll think you're doing it to keep me safe
and they'll let you go."
"I will make them believe me." I stared into his
eyes, forcing him to remember my new found gift.
He took me roughly by the arm, shaking me
slightly. "Isabella, why are you doing this?"
"Because I love you too much to exist without you."
He grabbed both of my arms, fury written all over
his face, and then he kissed me.
His lips pressed roughly against mine. I pressed
back, needing to feel him close to me. He let go of
my arms and took my waist, pulling me to him. I
tangled my fingers in his hair, holding him closer.
He was rough, desperate, more than he'd even
been before. He lifted me into his arms and then
threw me on the bed, covering my body with his
own. I welcomed the feel of his hard muscles
against mine. He captured my lower lip between
his teeth and bit down gently. I closed my eyes and
let out a shaky breath. He kissed the side of my
mouth and then nipped his way down to my throat.
My breathing accelerated, I clutched his bare back
to me. A sigh escaped my lips and I murmured his
name.
Everything stopped suddenly. I could still feel his
body over mine, but his lips were no longer against
my skin. I opened my eyes and found his face
inches away from my own, crumpled in pain.
"Edward?" I whispered.
"I can't... I can't lose you, Bella." He was shaking. I
wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him
down, hugging him close.
"You're not going to lose me. We'll find a way to
get through this."
His panicked breathing slowed down gradually. He
pressed his forehead against mine, intoxicating me
with his sweet breath. "I swear to you, Bella, I will
not let them touch you."
"I know." I whispered back. "I believe you. I trust
you."
I felt a growl deep in his chest as he covered my
mouth with his own once again. Our hands danced
together, touching every inch of exposed skin they
could find. I felt his smooth touch against my bare
tights and shivered.
As we kissed I forgot all about our troubles. It was a
perfect moment where only the two of us existed. I
needed this. I craved the feeling of his body, the
touch of his skin. His caresses helped me forget the
past twenty four hours of our hectic lives.
His gentle fingers traced my collarbone, making
me gasp from the sensation. I felt him reach for the
top button of my shirt. I bit my lip, placing my hand
over his to encourage his movements.
His eyes met mine. They were dark with passion
and need, but he still managed to look doubtful.
"Bella... this is not how I imagined we'd..."
I silenced him by placing my cold finger against his
lips. Trying hard to keep a steady voice, I
whispered. "We might never get another chance."
He stared into my soul and discovered how much I
needed him right then. Without another word, he
met my waiting lips with his own once again.
As he removed the rest of our clothes I was
pleased to discover I felt no embarrassment as I
thought I would. Many months of being careful and
dancing around each other exploded into
perfection that night. While the day moved on all I
could think of was how lucky I was to have found
my soulmate, even if we were only meant to be
together for a fleeting moment.
His hard chest rose and fell with every breath he
took. I had my ear over his unbeating heart, and
his fingers played with the strands of my hair that
covered his body.
"Bella?" He broke the silence with a determined
tone.
"Hmh?" I murmured.
"I need you to promise me something."
"Anything." I whispered lazily against his skin,
turning my head to gently kiss his side.
"I need you to swear to me that, no matter what
happens, you will never use your gift in front of the
Volturi."
I sat up, hugging the bed sheet to my chest.
"What?"
"You have to promise me." He sat too, his eyes
glowed with the strength of his words. "They can
never ever find out."
"Edward..."
"Promise me!" He took my chin in his hand when I
tried to look away. "No matter what, Bella. Swear
to me they'll never find out."
"I promise." I whispered. My mind was clouded by
fear as I thought of the reason behind his request.
"No matter what." His whisper shook me to the
core.
"I swear." I repeated.
He sighed in relief, apparently convinced of the
truth behind my promise. He wrapped his arms
around me and pulled me against his chest. We
laid back down, and I hugged him closer to me.
"I wish we could just stay here forever." I
whispered.
He kissed the top of my head and, with great
regret, said, "It's twilight. We should get dressed."
"I need to go get my bag."
Edward shook his head. "Open the door." I frowned
and got up, taking the sheet with me. When I
opened the door, the paper bag that had been
leaning against it fell forward.
I took it back to the bed and looked inside. My
fingers grazed the uneven texture of fishnet
stockings. "Edward, what's this?" I asked as I raised
an impossibly short black skirt to his face.
He made a face when he answered "Our evening
wear."
I tugged my skirt down and my shirt up with no
success. I still had more uncovered skin than I'd
ever dared to have before in public. Even my
bathing suits must've had more fabric than that.
Edward looked down at me and smiled mockingly. I
made a face, so he threw an arm around my
shoulder to comfort me.
"Don't move her!" Alice, who was kneeling in front
of me in the wide limousine, shrieked.
"Or what? You'll poke her eye out?" Rosalie rolled
her eyes.
"I'll smudge." Alice growled and kept fussing over
me with the black eyeliner. She leaned closer to
me, nudging my knees apart. The black leather
skirt I was wearing over my fishnets rode up almost
to my waist. Edward shot a warning glare at
Emmett's wandering eyes. He looked away
instantly, concentrating instead on his equally
scandalous wife.
"Could someone please explain to me why we're
dressed like this?" I looked down at my tiny
strapless top, held together by thin straps that
crossed over my back.
"We're going to see the only vampire who's ever
defied the secrecy rule and still lives to tell the
tale." Carlisle explained. "He's... one of the most
peculiar vampires I've ever met."
"Why?" I frowned.
"Well, for one he was "born" with a special gift...
one that most of our kind would consider a defect."
I leaned forward, causing Alice to gasp and run a
finger under my ruined mascara.
"His venom is innocuous"
I raised my eyebrows in surprise. Alice gave up,
throwing her hands in the air, and went to sit by
Jasper.
"So he can bite people and not turn them? ... So
what? The venom is not the dangerous part of
this."
"Oh but it was for Edward and you when you were
still human, wasn't it?" Carlisle smiled.
"Are you trying to tell me he has a human mate?" I
smiled at the impossibility. I thought we'd been the
only ones.
"No, not one. He is a very curious creature. He has
the ability of getting anyone to tell him anything.
He likes knowledge. He likes the little, mundane
details. That's why he loves humans, they keep
him entertained. He's trained himself to... not kill."
I twisted the fake blue strands of hair Alice had
gotten me into around my fingers. He certainly
sounded interesting.
"Bella, when we get there we're going to rely
heavily on your gift to get us in." Edward took my
hand. I looked up at his heavenly face, the purple
bruises around his eyes were darkened with
eyeliner. Even the fake piercings on his eyebrow
and lip looked incredible on him.
"What do you mean?"
"We're about to walk into a crowd. We can't be
noticed." He stared pointedly at me and I nodded.
"Jasper will help you as much as he can, but he can
only do so much."
Edward caressed my bare shoulders gently. I
looked down at my high heels and hoped being a
vampire would help me walk in them. "Help me
practice."
Alice, who was sitting in front of me, unhooked her
sleeves from her fingers and held up her hands. I
concentrated on forcing her fingers down, one by
one.
"We're here." Carlisle, looking like a 20 year old
with his hair up in spikes and his black, ripped
pants, helped an equally young looking Esme out
of the limo. It had surprised me, seeing Esme in
tiny black shorts and a black, ripped up tank top
that fell past her shoulders. The makeup, the
braids in her hair and the nose-ring made her look
like a rebellious teenager. I was so used to her
motherly role I sometimes forgot she was
physically in her early twenties.
Jasper and Alice went next. They looked beautiful
and dangerous beyond belief. As soon as Jasper
glanced at the crowd lined up in front of the trendy
club, the roar went down a notch and everyone
seemed to be suddenly tired and distracted.
The bouncer glanced our way curiously. We had,
after all, arrived in a limousine and were planning
on skipping the line. Every single member of our
family was so unbelievably beautiful the guy would
never dream of stopping us.
The chain was already off by the time Carlisle and
Esme walked past him. I glanced nervously around,
panic overcoming me quickly. There were too
many people here, any one of them could
recognize Edward.
"Are you ready?" He held his and out for me. I
nodded. I had to be ready, there was no time for
doubts.
He helped me out and guided me to the door while
I concentrated with my eyes closed.
Do not look at us. Look down. I ordered the
bouncer with my mind.
Edward helped me down a staircase. He sighed in
relief, so I opened my eyes. We were inside,
unharmed and unrecognized. So far so good.
I heard Emmett groaning behind me. Apparently he
wasn't really into the whole goth scene. "What's
the theme of this party? Syphilis?" He stared at the
group of latex covered people grinding against
each other in the dance floor.
My giggles were suddenly interrupted when the
smell of the crowd hit me. The place was packed.
Sweaty, moving bodies filled up every inch of
available space. Edward dragged me along behind
him, parting the crowd for me. That didn't keep my
stomach from clenching or my mouth from
watering. I stopped breathing, the smell was
almost unbearable. Edward tightened his hold on
me and pulled me closer. I tried to focus on
something else, anything else. "You never told me
what this guy did to break the law."
Carlisle had approached a human girl that seemed
to be wearing even less than us. "We are here to
see Lestat."
My eyes shot up to meet Edward's and he nodded.
I frowned "But I thought the interview was given
by..."
"Yes well, he's not completely suicidal." Edward
mumbled under his breath but I could hear him
perfectly over the loud thumping music.
"Why are we going to see him?" I questioned.
"He traffics information. That's how he stays alive.
Well... that, and the fact that he was part of the
Volturi guard at some point. Aro finds him
fascinating. When the story first came out he
defended himself by saying that he was merely
reinforcing the false ideas that people have of us."
"Take the stairs up. First door on the right." The girl
who'd been guiding us spoke in a normal voice,
which confused me. No human would ever be able
to hear her in that place.
Carlisle led the way. He opened the heavy wooden
door and pushed aside the black drapes in front of
him. The sight revealed made me gasp.
A young man in his early twenties sat on a chair.
His long black hair was pulled back in a tight
ponytail. His features, so beautiful it hurt to watch,
were twisted in pleasure. In his lap sat a blond
human girl in her underwear. But that wasn't what
scandalized me, it was the fact that he was
drinking from her wrist.
The animal in me recognized the smell instantly. I
moved towards them against my will. Powerful
arms held me back and Edward's hand, clamped
over my mouth and lips, helped lessen the urge
but not the hunger.
"Ah! Carlisle! It's been too long!" Lestat's velvety
voice was not loud enough to deafen the roar in my
ears that the hunger caused.
"Get her out of here." Edward stared at the blond,
who seemed perfectly comfortable with having
someone sucking blood out of her wrist.
Lestat glanced at me once and nodded. The girl
stood, but the black haired vampire caught her
hand before she could leave. He took a crystal
glass from the expensive looking table next to him
and pulled the girl's wrist up to his lips again. With
his teeth, he opened a small would on her arm. The
cut bled into the cup.
My eyes went wild with thirst. It took both Edward
and Emmett to hold me back. Somewhere in my
mind I registered the fact that Jasper had left the
room.
"Enough!" Carlisle raised his voice. Lestat looked
up at him in surprise and waved the girl away. She
left with a smile on her face, nursing her bleeding
arm.
"Carlisle, my friend. I don't believe I had ever heard
you raise your voice." He smiled and placed the
cup on the table.
"I can not stand to see my family get hurt or
ridiculed." Carlisle answered protectively.
"The girl is a new vampire. It's not ridiculous for
her to have this urges. It's not something to be
ashamed of."
Cold blood didn't have nearly the same effect on
me as a beating heart, so I stopped struggling
against the powerful arms. Emmett moved away,
but Edward kept an arm around me just in case.
His chest rumbled with slow growls.
"I admire you, Edward. To love a human that way...
and to wait so long before turning her... I heard she
smelled quite appetizing."
Edward growled again, even though the stranger
could not harm me.
"I admire you too... Bella, I presume." My eyes
widened when he mentioned my name. "To
restrain yourself, so early in the game. It's not an
easy task."
He walked back to the table, took the blood-filled
glass in his hands, and placed it on the low coffee
table right in front of me. "I don't hurt the humans,
I only take what they give me willingly. Don't be
repulsed by this blood, it's a gift."
I stared at the red liquid, my eyes still burned with
the thirst. Edward let go of me, letting me move
forward to take the glass. He knew the intensity of
the thirst. He knew how much I needed that drink.
I walked up to the table and took a deep breath.
The bloody scent nearly drove me into a frenzy. I
clenched my jaw and stared at Lestat. Without
taking my eyes off him, I kicked the glass. It
shattered on the floor, scattering blood
everywhere. Lestat sighed.
"What do you do to this kids, Carlisle? You make
them so irrational."
I could see Edward's parents were trying hard not
to look smug. Edward didn't even try to hide it. He
pulled me back against him and kissed my
forehead.
"Can we get down to business please?" Rosalie's
impatient voice startled us all.
"Yes, certainly, I assume you're here because of
the videotape." Lestat sat down again.
"Among other things." Carlisle nodded.
The long haired vampire smiled. "Take a seat, my
old friends, we have much to talk about."
I still didn't understand how talking to Lestat was
going to help us, but I sat down on Edward's lap
and kept my mouth shut while he talked.
"I'm afraid I don't have good news for you. The
guard is moving out, the Volturi plan to take
matters into their own hands."
"We knew that much." Alice commented.
"Ah, of course, Alice." Lestat nodded. "An old friend
of yours stopped by a while ago. Laurent told me
about Carlisle's exceptional family. I'd heard about
you before, of course, a family as large as yours is
rather difficult to hide, but he gave me some useful
details."
Lestat nodded in my direction. "It was hard for me
to believe that your boy could love a human girl so
much. I can see now that Laurent was right."
Edward tightened his hold of me. Something wasn't
quite right, I could feel it.
"So!" Lestat sat up straight and smiled. "I'm
guessing you want to know where they're looking
for you and how many happen to be out there. This
is a tricky one, Carlisle."
Emmett leaned forward. "We need to know what
we're up against."
Lestat nodded "I can tell you the gifts of everyone
who is currently in the guard, but information
comes with a price."
"What price?" Edward asked.
The black haired vampire turned his burgundy eyes
on me "I want to know what her gift is."
Everyone fell quiet at that. Edward's arm around
my waist tightened so much that, had I not been a
vampire, he would've snapped me like a twig.
"You would trade the secrets of the whole guard for
one of our own?" Carlisle asked.
"Yes, I'm simply curious."
"No." Edward stated. "Ask for something else, that
is just out of the question."
Lestat's eyes brightened with delight "It's that good
eh? I wish I could make her tell me, but I can only
extract information concerning the person I'm
forcing it out of and I'm guessing my gift works as
little on her as yours do."
Edward tried not to register any surprise on his
face with little success "How do you know about
her immunity?"
Lestat rolled his eyes. "I traffic information for a
living young man. There is little in this world I do
not know about."
It hit me then, that off feeling I'd been having.
Lestat knew things about us that no one else did,
not even Laurent. I bit my lip trying to figure out
who else knew about us.
"Well I'm sorry, but that's one piece of information
that we refuse to bargain with."
"Then I'm sorry too." Lestat looked truly sorry when
he pointed at the door. "Please let yourselves out.
If you refuse to pay the price then I can not help
you."
Edward got up, pulling me with him. The rest of the
family followed him.
"I should tell you, though, your friends in Alaska
were killed last night."
"What?" Carlisle whispered.
Lestat shrugged "The guard went there looking for
you. They refused to tell them anything. Eventually
someone cracked and told them where you were
staying and that you were planning on going up to
meet them. The Volturi killed them all after that.
So, I'd stay away from Alaska if I were you."
Carlisle was shaking, and Esme ran to his side. I
thought Edward was shaking too, but soon realized
the tremors were coming from me. I didn't believe
it at first, but then I finally remembered, the
VanBeaullens were the only ones who knew about
my immunity to Edward's gift.
A whole family was dead, not to mention all the
missing people in Washington, and it was all
because of me and my stupidity.
Edward pressed me against his chest and guided
me out the door without another glance in Lestat's
direction, but the vampire's voice stopped us once
again.
"Carlisle! I think very highly of you and for that I'm
going to give you a small piece of free advice."
"What's that?" Carlisle's jaw was clenched. I had
never seen him look so upset.
"Stay away from the little guy. You'll know what I
mean when the time comes."
Edward pulled me out and guided me through the
crowd. Tearless sobs were still shaking me like a
leaf.
As soon as we were outside Carlisle lead the way to
the parking lot. He turned around quickly to toss
small silver cell phones to Edward, Emmett and
Jasper. Everyone took off in a different direction.
Before I knew what was going on Edward had
dragged me towards a black BMW.
"Edward, what's going on?" I could see Jasper
behind the wheel of some other fancy looking car
and Rosalie close behind, shifting an Audi to first
gear, with Emmett next to her. Carlisle and Esme
were already on their way out of the parking lot.
"Get in." Edward had gotten the door open. He
picked me up, sat me down on the passenger's
seat and bent down to hot-wire the car.
"Okay I don't know much about running away, but
won't someone notice if four cars are stolen from
Lestat's club? That's like leaving a sign that says
"The Cullens were here."
"Bella, at this point there's not much we can do to
stay hidden. They already know where we are. We
need to get away from here as fast as possible."
He was driving so fast even the BMW''s engine
complained loudly. I stared down at my hands and
tried to order my thoughts. So many things had
happened in the last 48 hours, each one worse
than the next. Except for those precious moments
I'd had with Edward back at the hotel.
I looked up at my safe harbor. Edward felt my gaze
and turned to face me. His hand reached out to
cup my face and I leaned against him for support.
"Bella," he pulled me against his side. I sighed and
buried my face against his granite neck, "none of
this is your fault. Don't you dare blame yourself."
"But how can I not? Seriously, how can I? The
VanBeaullens are dead, Edward." I sighed knowing
that if I could've cried real tears his shirt would've
been soaked by then.
Edward gritted his teeth, even he didn't have
anything comforting to say to me after that. After a
long pause he pushed me gently away from him
only to lift my chin with his index finger. I stared
into his golden eyes and closed my violet ones
when his lips descended upon my own. He
captured me in a deep kiss, my mourning body
giving him full access to my mouth.
I let out a shaky breath against him and he
stiffened.
"Wha..."
Edward threw himself at me, forgetting all about
the steering wheel. As I flew backwards, confused
as hell, I saw the immense animal jumping in front
of our car.
The beast landed on the hood with such force it
sent the car flying in the air. I cringed against
Edward's chest, so scared that I couldn't even
conjure up a descent scream.
FIGHT OR FLIGHT
I let out a shaky breath against him and he
stiffened.
"Wha..."
Edward threw himself at me, forgetting all about
the steering wheel. As I flew backwards, confused
as hell, I saw the immense animal jumping in front
of our car.
The beast landed on the hood with such force it
sent the car flying in the air. I cringed against
Edward's chest, so scared that I couldn't even
conjure up a descent scream.
The car landed on its back, bounced twice and then
crashed loudly against a tree before finally settling,
rubber side up. Edward stared down at me, his
amber eyes alarmed and weary. He gave me a
onceover, checking for injuries. An old habit, I
guess. My shirt was ripped from the bottom and I
had lost my shoes at some point, but other than
that I was perfectly fine.
"Edward, what..."
"Stay in the car!" He barked and then crawled his
way out the side window. I saw his legs as he stood
up, and then I saw nothing. I frowned, he wasn't
running, my vampire eyes would've seen him take
off, so where...
My question was answered with a loud crash over
my head and a deep growl. I screamed, cowering
against the door. The windows had exploded on
impact, so I could hear the battle going on right
outside. I tried to locate the silver cell phone, but
there were too many pieces of glass. Too big a
mess.
Then I heard it, a sickening thud and the creaking
that could only mean a tree had been knocked
over. But the sound that made me race out of the
car was the terrifying moan emanating from
Edward's chest.
I crawled out, the cell phone instantly forgotten.
The wolf had Edward against the fallen tree, his jaw
clenched around my lover's middle. I screamed and
launched myself at the beast.
"Bella! Stay back!" Edward yelled before I could
reach them and with great effort, he lifted his foot
and kicked the animal away from him. The beast
stood there for a moment, growling at Edward, but
it suddenly froze and then turned around to stare
at me. Its eyes widened, as if it could recognize
me, and then it launched itself in my direction.
It happened so fast I didn't even have time to fear
for my life. Edward threw himself on top of the wolf
and did something I'd never seen him do before.
He bit it, tearing the beast's neck with his razor
sharp teeth.
The wolf fell on its side, blood spilling all over the
place. Edward didn't drink the blood, like I
expected him to, instead he left the animal on the
ground, stood up and spat before kicking the wolf's
neck and snapping it in two. It was then that I
smelled the hot liquid. It smelled weird, like sour
milk almost.
I stared at the immense animal as it slowly started
to shrink, turning back into a russet skinned, naked
young man. My eyes were still transfixed on the
man when Edward reached me. He pressed my
face against his chest and sighed. "I'm sorry Bella,
I'm so sorry" He whispered over and over again
against my hair.
I looked up at his dishevelled appearance and
quickly ran my hands all over his chest and back,
looking for bite marks. Edward shook his head. "I'm
fine, I need to get you out of here." He started
pulling me towards the road.
"Edward, the man..." I shook on the spot.
"He was dead the moment I bit him. Our venom is
lethal to them. Bella we have to go." He lifted me
into his arms and walked away quickly, but before
we could even reach the road he swore under his
breath. He placed me on the wet grass and took
my face between his hands "Run, Bella."
I looked up behind him and gasped, the rest of the
pack had arrived.
"Edward..." I whispered.
"Go, find Alice." He shoved me gently away from
the wolves before turning around to face them.
I stood there, frozen. I knew he was right, Alice had
probably seen this coming and she was probably
on her way back. I saw the wolves emerging from
the woods, I counted at least six. We were going to
need the whole family; I had to guide them to
Edward. And yet, I couldn't make my legs move. I
couldn't even close my eyes when the animals
attacked. I watched them as they overpowered
Edward, watched helplessly as he struggled to get
them off of him. They didn't even seem to notice
me there, watching by the side of the road, a silent
scream stuck in my throat.
His unbelievable strength helped him; he threw the
beasts away from him, using his arms and teeth to
injure them. He didn't see the biggest wolf coming
behind him, and I was too terrified to even yell a
warning. It got him on the side, lifting him in the
air. Edward groaned in pain. My own head felt like
it was going to explode from the pain of watching
his.
Then I remembered my gift, my power. I closed my
eyes and concentrated hard, bending down, folding
into myself. Let him go! Let him go! I thought over
and over again but the beast was huge, it didn't
seem all that affected by me. Or maybe it was
watching Edward struggle that kept me from truly
focusing.
RELEASE HIM! I yelled in my mind, concentrating
so hard my head hurt.
"Bella! No!" Edward yelled. The wolf dropped him,
cowering away from me. I wondered if he knew it
had been me.
I used my mind to make him step away from
Edward. "Isabella! Stop it!" He yelled again. The
sound of my full name made me lose focus. Then I
noticed all the wolves were retreating. I had only a
second to frown before something incredible
happened.
The biggest wolf burst into flames.
I stared in muted horror as the stench of burnt hair
and the horrific yelps of pain filled me to the core.
Edward was by my side in an instant, hiding me
against his chest to once again shield me from the
horrors.
"Stop!" He yelled to no one in particular it seemed.
"What? I thought you would like some roasted wolf
as your last meal." A deep, yet childlike voice
answered behind us, making me jump. I turned
around to face the beautiful boy who slowly walked
towards us, followed by five other men.
"Leave the beast alone. It will take us weeks to get
off of us as it is." One of the men protested. The
boy glared at him and he instantly became quiet. It
was easy to see who had the upper hand in that
group.
I looked up at Edward, searching for answers in his
stone cold face.
"Alec." Edward greeted the boy with a sneer.
"Edward. Bella. Nice night for a funeral eh?" Alec
smiled wickedly. Edward just growled.
I understood then. They were the guard, they were
there to finish Edward off.
"Bella, go wait by the side of the road." Edward
instructed me.
I stared at him, shocked at what he was asking
from me. I threw my arms around his waist in an
unbreakable grasp "I'm not leaving you!" I
mumbled against his chest.
"Awww, how sweet! Not a problem, I can kill you
both if you'd like." Alec gave us a sympathetic fake
smile that made me want to knock his teeth out.
"Isabella, go find Alice." Edward told me for the
second time that night. He tried to break away
from me, pulling on my arms. I silently thanked my
vampire strength as the hysteria started to take
over.
"No, Edward no. I won't go." I whispered.
"Bella, please." I made the mistake of looking into
his eyes. He was pleading, begging me to leave
him there. There was so much pain, so much worry
for me written all over his face that I almost
agreed. I shook my head to clear it.
"I'll go with you quietly if you spare her." Edward
told Alec. The boy laughed.
"Oh Edward, I don't need you to 'come quietly'. I'm
not taking you anywhere! I've been told to finish
you off, not take you back!"
I was still shaking my head. I wasn't going to let
them take Edward. I still didn't quite understand
how that wolf had spontaneously combusted, but
something told me it had a lot to do with the
vampire child in front of us. I could stop him, I
knew I could.
As if he could read my mind, Edward said,
"Isabella, you promised." He whispered so gently in
my ear that even I had a hard time hearing him.
Yes, I had promised to him that I wouldn't use my
powers in front of the Volturi. It was a promise I
intended to break if it meant keeping him alive.
"Look, I don't have a lot of time and I'm not really
into drama, so I'm going to get this over with." Alec
shrugged.
Edward shoved me away from him. I was so
shocked I fell, landing in slippery mud. I turned to
look at him and his eyes locked into mine. "Bella"
He mouthed, before his body was engulfed by
flames.
"Edward!" I screamed hysterically. He closed his
eyes and clenched his mouth to keep from yelling. I
couldn't believe that was going to be the end. I
couldn't conceive the idea of him leaving me so
suddenly, so permanently, not after I finally had
him for eternity. I was so desperate, so mad and
irrational, that I threw myself at Alec.
I ran towards the small vampire so fast his guard
didn't even have time to react. I wanted him to
stop torturing Edward. To stop the fire before it
consumed him, but I also wanted revenge.
My hands reached out to tackle the boy. When my
skin made contact with his I felt a surge of heat
going through me. For a moment I thought I was
burning too, which suited me fine. If Edward was
going to die I might as well go with him. But then I
realized that the heat wasn't coming from me.
I opened my eyes and was so taken aback I yelped.
Alec's whole body was bubbling, melting with his
own heat. It was then that the fog of despair
cleared. I suddenly noticed the sounds around me.
Screams of pain, trashing, running and crackling of
burning wood.
I looked around, stunned and confused. The five
vampires that had been standing behind Alec were
on the ground, almost completely consumed by the
fire that seemed to emanate from their bodies. I
stared at my hands, still holding on to Alec's
charred body, and let go.
As soon as I stopped touching him, the flames died.
"Edward!" I turned to where I'd last seen him. He
was lying on the ground, curled on his side. He
seemed to be mostly unscratched. The remains of
his charred clothes still burned a few feet away. I
was at his side in an instant.
"Edward!" I rolled him on his back and he groaned.
I searched his body for injuries but the few I found
were already disappearing. He opened his eyes
wearily, still in obvious pain.
"Edward, are you okay? Please talk to me!" I
dropped to my knees next to him and touched his
face with my cold hands.
"You promised." He whispered.
I was so relieved at hearing him speak that I
ignored his anger and threw my arms around his
neck. He pulled me into his lap, crushing me to his
chest. I sobbed tearlessly against his shoulder.
"It's over, it's all over." He whispered over and over
again.
"Over? How exactly is this over? I really don't think
this was their last attempt at taking your life." I
mumbled against his skin. Someone threw a coat
over Edward's shoulders. I looked up to see Carlisle
looking around at the remains of the battle. The
rest of the family was close behind.
"Come on, we need to move." Alice tried to pull me
off Edward but I held on for dear life. I couldn't let
go of him, not yet.
Edward lifted an arm to stop her. He stood up,
accepting Carlisle's help, with me still in his arms.
He carried me to the car silently, the only sound
was the fabric of the trench coat he was wearing as
it flapped around us.
I settled in his lap while Carlisle drove us away
from the horrific scene. I heard him apologizing to
Edward for something, but I was still too stunned to
pay any attention to the words being said.
We drove for hours, until the sun appeared, and
then Carlisle parked in front of an old motel. I
heard the gist of that conversation. Carlisle wanted
us to get together in one room, Edward however,
wanted to be alone with me.
Edward won. He carried me to an empty room and
immediately headed for the bathroom. He sat me
down next to the sink and ran his hands up my
legs. Lifting me up by the waist, he pulled down
the fishnet stockings I'd been wearing and threw
them in the trash can. I looked down at the tiny
skirt as he pulled that off as well. I was brown and
green all over, covered in mud and grass stains. I
lifted my arms so he could slip off my shirt and
then watched as he turned on the water and
finished undressing us both.
The pain and shock of almost losing him was still
so fresh that I didn't even protest when he pulled
me into the shower. He used the hotel shampoo to
clean my hair and body. I stared at the floor and
watched the brown water fall.
His fingers lifted my chin so I could look into his
eyes. "Bella?" He whispered. The water cascading
down my face made it hard to see, almost as if I
were crying.
"I almost lost you tonight." I spoke for the first time
in hours.
"And I, you. You shouldn't have done that Bella, it
was so stupid of you." His dark eyes were
infuriated and soft at the same time. Only his
complex eyes could ever accomplish such a thing.
"I couldn't just stand there and watch you get
yourself killed." I shuddered.
"You should have. At least you would've been safe
then." His tortured voice made me take his face
between my hands. "Don't say that, don't ever say
that! I would never be safe without you."
Edward rolled his eyes "There's not much that can
hurt you now. Not much that I can protect you from
anyway." He said with self loathing.
"I can be quite a danger to myself if you're not
around." I threatened.
It was Edward's turn to take my face in his hands.
"Don't be ridiculous."
"Then don't leave me." I challenged.
He sighed and pulled me against his body, pressing
my cold skin against his. "I wish we could go back
to our old life, to when things were normal." He
whispered against my hair.
"Things with us have never been normal." I teased
lightly and he smiled.
"Yes, well, I never thought I'd say this but
everything was a lot easier when you were
human."
I sighed. "I'm starting to miss sleep right about
now. That was my favorite time of day."
"When you were asleep? I thought that was my
favorite time." Edward smiled again.
"Well, no. I guess it's not the actual sleep I miss,
but the time we had together every night. Those
uninterrupted, unsupervised hours of alone time."
"We're not being supervised now." Edward winked
at me and reached behind me to turn off the water.
He wrapped us both in towels and then carried me
to the bed. Pulling back the covers, he laid me
down and got in behind me, pulling me close
against his body. The delicious contact made me
shiver.
Edward rolled me on my stomach and ran his
hands through my hair, from the top of my head to
my waist.
"Edward?" I murmured.
"Mmmh?" He mumbled.
"You do know I don't regret you making me like
you? Not for a second."
"Not even when I made you a killer? When you bit
Jacob? When you watched me kill those other
boys? When you saw a man burning to death?"
Edward's intense whisper made my stomach
tighten.
"No. I feel bad about that, excruciatingly so, but I
don't regret what I am. It brought me closer to
you."
"It brought you closer to death. You already had
me close, as close as I could ever possibly be."
I turned around and pulled him on top of me. "No,
you weren't." I whispered.
"So it was all about sex for you?" He smiled to let
me know he was teasing.
"No." I smiled back, "It's about eternity. And I will
spend eternity with you, Edward. I will not let them
take you away."
I pressed my lips against his before he could
respond. The fighting, the explanations, the
decisions, they could all wait until nightfall. Thanks
to the sun, we had the whole day for ourselves and
I fully intended to take advantage of those
uninterrupted, unsupervised hours.
We all sat in absolute silence for what seemed like
an eternity to me. Alice had her eyes closed and
we were all watching her, waiting for some kind of
news. She shook her head and opened her eyes
almost unwillingly.
"I just can't see it. There's too much going on. The
Volturi know what happened to Alec though. That
can't be good."
"What did happen to Alec anyway, Bella?" Emmett
asked me.
"I don't know, I just... I grabbed him..." I'd been
wondering about that too.
"I have a theory." Carlisle spoke up. "I think that
maybe you can amplify other vampires' gifts and
redirect them at will."
I shook my head "I thought we'd already found my
gift. The whole getting-people-to-do-what-I-want
thing seemed right on target."
"Well maybe this is part of that too. Maybe you're
just more powerful than we originally thought."
Edward groaned. "And the Volturi know this now."
"How do they know?" I asked.
"Just because a vampire is on fire doesn't
necessarily means he's dead." Alice explained.
"We should've finished them off." Emmet growled.
"Bad timing, more of them were coming. We had to
get out of there." Alice sighed.
"It seems to me like Bella can take them all out by
herself. I say let her try." Rosalie snapped.
Edward glared at her. I held up my hand to stop
him from yelling at her.
"I think Rosalie is right." I whispered. Seven pairs of
eyes snapped around to stare at me.
"Are you insane?" Edward roared. I took his hand in
mine and begged him with my eyes to listen.
"I can obviously take care of myself. If I can
redirect any of their powers I could just go to the
Volturi and..."
"No!" He took my face in his hands and forced me
to look at him. "If you keep talking like that I'll turn
myself over to them. It ends with me."
"This is not a contest of who can be the biggest
martyr. Let's try to be reasonable here." Alice
glared at us.
"Well I just don't see another way out of this. Do
you?" I asked her.
She opened her mouth then closed it again. She
glanced apologetically at Edward before answering.
"No, not really. There are just too many of them."
Edward growled so loudly that his chest vibrated
against my back.
"We don't even know how your gift really works,
Bella." Esme's soft voice calmed us all down.
"I agree, it's too risky for you to go alone." Carlisle
nodded.
"But now that the Volturi know about you, you are
just as much a target as Edward is." Jasper pointed
out.
"We need to hide you, get you away from all of this
as quickly as we can." Edward said matter of factly.
"I doubt there's a place on earth where they won't
find us. Besides, it's not me I'm worried about." My
mind was running a mile a minute. I needed to
come up with a plan to keep everyone safe. That
night had been a really close call. I had to keep
Edward away from the whole mess, solve it on my
own somehow.
I had a feeling that no one was saying exactly what
they were thinking. I needed every fact, every
opinion to form a reasonable plan. I decided to test
my gift, so I reached for Edward's hand. He took
my smaller hand in his without a second thought
and I closed my eyes, willing his thoughts into my
head.
The flood of thoughts was so loud and intense it
made me flinch. Every voice of every person inside
the cheap hotel rushed into my mind. Edward
glanced worriedly at me, blissfully unaware of what
I was taking from him. The look on my face
probably seemed like anxiety to him, because he
wrapped his arms around my shoulders.
I sorted through the voices, there were so many. I
didn't have the decades of practice that Edward
had in tuning thoughts. I tried blocking everything
first, concentrating until the voices became a dull
roar. Eventually I tried focusing on the vampires in
the room.
I tuned Alice first. Her mind was chaotic. Images of
people, places and different scenarios came and
went in irregular intervals. It was too much for me
and I secretly thanked a higher power for a gift
that didn't invade my mind. I could tell Alice was
worried, no scenario seemed to change the
outcome and she kept seeing us all dead. When an
image of Edward being torn to pieces flashed
through her mind I tuned her out.
Emmett had murder in his mind, no surprise there.
Esme was deeply worried about us all. Carlisle was
complicated. He knew I had a better chance of
getting the Volturi off our backs than the rest of
them put together and yet he didn't even conceive
the idea of letting me go alone. It simply didn't
cross his mind.
I focused on Jasper then. He could sense the
tension in the room, and probably the stress
coming from me too. He was thinking about me,
wondering about the sudden spike of panic. His
thoughts shifted suddenly and the direction that
they turned surprised me. He was thinking about
how to help us, how to fight the other vampires off,
but he was also making contingency plans, not for
himself, but for Alice. He was trying to figure out a
way of taking her out of the fight and wondering if
his gift was strong enough to induce some sort of
comma so he could keep her hidden. He knew
she'd never leave us willingly. I understood how he
felt; I wanted the same thing for Edward after all.
I turned around to stare at my lover. He was deep
in thought. His thoughts scared me, I had to work
very hard on keeping my breathing under control
and the panic below the surface when I realized
what he was planning. He was going to turn
himself over to the Volturi. He had already decided,
his mind was completely made up. The next time
we left the hotel he was going to lose me somehow
and go to Italy by himself.
"I know what you're doing" I heard Rosalie's voice
so clearly I thought she'd spoken out loud. I turned
to face her. Her eyes bore holes into mine and her
mind was completely blank. I frowned at her and
her eyes flickered to Edward. I understood, if she
thought about what I was doing, Edward would
surely find out. She was being careful.
"You have to do it" She thought. "We're all going to
die" I nodded, I knew she was right. "Help me,
please. I'm begging you, spare Emmett." Her cry
for help was so desperate, so filled with emotions,
that it made both Jasper and Edward aware of the
situation. Alice gasped and Edward released me at
once.
He stared at me, now completely aware of what I'd
been doing. At once he understood Rosalie was not
talking to him, but to me. Knowing that I knew his
plans. Alice was staring at me too, her eyes
panicked. Her visions had probably shifted; I'd
already made up my mind. It was time to put
Jasper's theory to the test. I crossed the room in a
millisecond. I turned to Edward, my eyes filled with
love and determination.
"I love you." I whispered and then grabbed Jasper's
arm.
The final stand
He stared at me, completely aware of what I'd
been doing. Knowing that I knew his plans. Alice
was staring at me too, her eyes panicked. Her
visions had probably shifted – I'd already made up
my mind. It was time to put Jasper's theory to the
test. I crossed the room in a millisecond. I turned
to Edward, my eyes filled with love and
determination.
"I love you." I whispered and then grabbed Jasper's
arm.
It took every ounce of concentration I had to pull
Jasper's power from him and redirect it to the
vampires in the room. I could feel the energy
soaring through me as the members of my family
dropped to the floor. All but one. Rosalie.
She stared at me with wide eyes. "Give me their
credit cards, passports and money. It won't stop
them but it'll certainly slow them down." My voice
sounded hoarse from the effort of channeling
Jasper's power.
Rosalie nodded. She ran around the room and
collected what I'd asked for. I stared at Edward's
unmoving face. His eyes were closed and he
seemed unnaturally still. I wondered if he could
hear me, or if the lethargy I was sending his way
was strong enough to interfere with his hearing as
well.
Rosalie dropped the money and documents in her
purse and handed it to me, placing her credit card
at the top.
"What's your pin number?" I asked but she was
already scribbling it on the back of my hand with
the hotel pen.
I took a deep breath "I don't know what will happen
when I let go of Jasper. I'm not sure I'll be able to
hold the effect..."
"I'll stall them as much as I can." Rosalie
whispered.
I nodded "Are you ready?"
It was her turn to nod. As I closed my eyes to
concentrate she stopped me.
"Bella?"
"Yes?"
"Thank you."
I opened my eyes to find her inches away from me.
She threw her arms awkwardly around my
shoulders and I tried to hug her back without
letting go of Jasper's arm. With Rosalie's arms
around me I felt powerful, beautiful, invincible.
"Come back alive, sister." She whispered
"I will try my best," I whispered back. "Please tell
him I love him and I'm sorry."
She nodded and took a step back. It took me only a
moment of concentration to knock her down too.
With Rosalie lying on the floor along side the rest
of my family, I focused on retaining Jasper's energy
and then swiftly let go.
Stay where you are. Stay where you are. I repeated
those words like a mantra while I ran out the room
and down the stairs. It was then that I realized I
couldn't really tell whether I was using Jasper's
powers or my own. Whichever the case, it had the
desired result. No one seemed to be following me
for the time being.
I drove recklessly, faster than I ever had before. I
stopped at the ATM and got as much money as I
could from Rosalie's credit card. I called the airlines
and bought a ticket for the first available flight to
Italy. I had an hour before my flight, so I kept
driving until I reached the club.
I jumped out of the car before it had completely
stopped. I threw the keys at the valet so hard he
flinched. When I got to the chain the guy looked
me up and down. I was certainly rich and beautiful,
but I was also wearing jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt
from the hotel gift shop. "Let me pass" I ordered
him and he relinquished at once.
I moved through the mass of dancing people
without even holding my breath. I was too
determined, too focused to even worry about
eating someone. I threw the curtains of Lestat's
room aside and let myself in.
The girl sitting on his lap jumped, startled. Lestat
just smiled. "Bella! What a surprise! I must say,
you seem to be the only one who can keep me on
my toes!"
"I'm going to the Volturi." I growled.
"I gathered as much. What do you want from me?"
He asked.
"Advice." I answered simply.
"And what do I get in return?"
"What do you want?"
He scratched his chin, deep in thought. I danced on
the balls of my feet.
"I'm not sure." He finally answered.
I groaned. "How about this? You can either tell me
yourself or I can make you tell me."
He gave me a teasing smile. "Well I guess now we
know what your power is, don't we? How about you
just owe me one?"
I was in too much of a hurry to care anymore. It
was unlikely I would survive to pay him back
anyway. "Fine. What do you have for me?"
He motioned to the chair in front of him. I shook
my head furiously. He whispered instructions to the
girl next to him in a language I couldn't
comprehend and the girl left.
"No matter what you do or say, they will not spare
Edward's life." He told me with a note of regret.
"What do you mean? There has to be something I
can do!"
Lestat shook his head "Edward broke the rules in
such a blunt way, there's just no way they can let
him live. It would make them seem weak."
"I can force them to leave him alone! I have to do
something!" I said desperately but Lestat kept
shaking his head, only infuriating me further.
"The Volturi's power is greatly based on
intimidation. If they let him live it sends out a
message of weakness! Without their invincibility
they have nothing! They'd rather go to war than
lose control of our race. I am sorry Bella –there is
just no way."
I felt the unnecessary air leave my lungs in a
gesture of despair. I turned to leave.
"Bella?"
"Yes?"
"You're going to Italy anyway aren't you?"
"Yes."
"You'll need this."
The girl walked back in carrying a large crystal
pitcher filled with what my senses told me was
blood. I shook my head.
"You're a newborn vampire. You need blood. You
won't stand a chance without it."
Instinctually I knew he was right. Hunger and
reason quickly wavered my resolve. I took the
crystal container from the girl and brought it to my
lips.
I drank the warm liquid. Only once in my life had I
tasted something as sweet and wonderful as that
blood, it was what had started the whole mess. It
filled me, satiating the eternal thirst that I'd fought
to become accustomed to.
As I licked the last drops like an animal I turned to
the girl. She saw murder in my eyes and cowered,
moving to the dark recesses of the room.
"Isabella!" Lestat's voice startled me, placating the
monster in me long enough for me to regain my
sanity.
"You must go now. And remember, if they know
about you, and by now I'm sure they do, they will
want you dead just as much as they want him.
When you get to Italy... grab the girl. "
I nodded, figuring his cryptic advice would make
sense eventually, and ran out of the club as fast as
humanly possible.
I sat on the plane with my stomach twisted in fear
and dread until we took off. I had checked every
airline in the area. My flight was the first one since
I'd left my family at the hotel. If Edward wasn't on
this plane it meant I was still one step ahead of
them.
The waiting gave me time to form a game plan.
The maps of Italy I'd acquired at the airport were
the last things I'd been able to buy with the credit
cards. I knew the second the Cullens found out
what I'd done Edward would call to cancel the
cards hoping I'd be left stranded. I'd pulverized the
plastic rectangles in my hands and tossed the
remains in a trashcan on my way to the gate.
As I sat alone in the half empty plane I memorized
the maps and studied the roads I needed to take
once I landed. I just hoped the cash I had would be
enough to rent a car because, even though I'd
considered stealing one, I knew absolutely nothing
about hot-wiring a vehicle.
I was bouncing in my seat by the time the plane
landed. The blood I'd gulped down at the club,
though necessary, had made the flight especially
excruciating. The constant lure of human blood
was intoxicating. I hadn't taken a breath since I'd
set foot in the airport and it was getting extremely
uncomfortable. Sheer determination had kept me
from eating every passenger for dinner.
I scrambled out of the plane and made my way
through the airport as fast as I could. When I got to
the car rental counter my heart dropped. The
requirements, translated to English, Spanish and
German, clearly stated that I needed three things I
did not have. Twenty-four years of age, a driver's
license and a credit card.
I groaned into my hands. For a moment I felt weak,
helpless... human. Then, as I took a deep breath in
the crowded room, I remembered myself. I stood
up straight, walked to the parking lot with
confidence and approached a young boy that was
just about to climb into his little Audi.
"Do you speak English?" I asked him. I wasn't sure
my gift would work in different languages.
The boy turned around, stared at my pretty face
and my tousled airplane hair and nodded.
"Do you live here?" I asked again and, again, he
nodded.
"I need to borrow your car." I held out my hand and
he dropped his keys into it.
"Write me down your address and I'll make sure
you get it back."
With a shaky hand he took a pen from his jacket
pocket and scribbled down his address on a spare
piece of paper he had in the car. I took it from him
and then instructed him, "Go straight home. Tell no
one about this and, if anyone asks where your car
is, tell them it broke down and you're getting it
fixed."
He nodded again. I climbed into the car, closed the
door and sped off. The desperation and the need to
save Edward's life were making me brave to the
point of recklessness. I drove the curves that led to
Volterra like a bat out of hell. I had to get there
before Edward did. I had to get there and talk the
Volturi into sparing his life.
I thought of several possibilities, different
scenarios. I considered exchanging my life for his. I
considered selling myself to them, working for
them forever if that meant keeping my family safe.
All plans had a fault of course. Edward and his
twisted sense of chivalry would never let it slide.
He'd fight for me, even die for me, the fool. He
didn't understand how important, how essential it
was for me to keep him alive. I could face death
knowing I hadn't deprived the world of his beauty.
When I drove up to the gates of the city there was
a line of cars waiting to get in. I growled, desperate
to get things over with before the Cullens had a
chance to catch up. As the cars moved closer to
the gates something occurred to me. I had
absolutely no idea where to find the Volturi. Then I
realized it didn't matter. I was sure that as soon as
I crossed that gate they'd know. It was a clear,
sunny day, so walking around waiting for them to
grab me was out of the question. I'd have to drive
around.
I was so lost in thought that I didn't see the dark
hooded figure walking up to the car. I heard a
startling crunch and my car door swung open. I
shrieked as a hand pulled me out of the car and
into the deep shadow cast by the city's walls.
"Let me go!" I yelled and the strong hands dropped
my arms at once.
"Shhh, Bella, calm down." The voice, though oddly
familiar, was not one that I expected.
"Who are you?" I wracked my brain trying to
remember that voice. The man in front of me
pulled back his hood and I gasped.
"Arthur?"
The man was a mess, only a shadow of the
vampire I'd met in Alaska months before. The
purple bruises under his eyes were so deep he
looked as if he'd been punched. His skin, paler than
usual, seemed almost clammy. He was filthy, his
hooded sweatshirt covered in dust, his black pants
ripped in several places. His irises were as dark as
midnight. But what startled me the most was the
look in his eyes. He looked devastated, broken,
inconsolable. And yet, all I managed to choke out
was, "I thought you were dead."
He took a shaky breath and mumbled, "I wish".
"But how?" I stuttered
"I wasn't in the house when it happened. I'd gone
hunting down south."
"And Ellen?" I asked urgently for his wife.
"She stayed behind. She was in the house, helping
Ruth with some Christmas decorations when the
Volturi..."
And then, I did the most impractical thing I could. I
broke down in sobs.
"Arthur I'm sorry! I am so so sorry! This is all my
fault. I never thought... I mean, I didn't..."
The older man pulled me to his chest, whether to
comfort me or muffle my cries I wasn't sure. "Bella,
it's not your fault. None of this is your fault. You
were just in the wrong place and, undeniably, at
the wrong time."
I couldn't believe the man was consoling me when I
was the reason his whole family was dead. I shook
against him, crying tearlessly at the awfulness of
the situation I found myself in.
"I deserve to die." I whispered against his chest
between sobs. I'd caused so much death and
mayhem that there was nothing left for me to do
except turn myself in, ask to be killed and hope it'd
end there.
"You came here to die?" Arthur asked me, "Well
that makes two of us. But tonight, only one death
will be necessary."
I nodded in fervent agreement. "I'll go see them
right now. Maybe I can leave Edward a letter
asking him to turn away. If I explain things to him
he might not try to avenge my death..."
Arthur grabbed my shoulders and shook me,
breaking my crying spell. "Isabella don't be stupid.
You need to stay alive for him, for everyone! You
were the one unfortunate enough to start this war.
And if what I've heard about you is true you're the
only one powerful enough to stop it. You have to
remember, this goes beyond us. Beyond revenge
or guilt."
I stared into his shallow, lifeless eyes, trying to
comprehend what he was telling me. "But what can
I do? I'm just a kid! I never asked for this! All I can
do is turn myself in! Hope to death everything will
end with me."
Arthur shook his head. "If what you want is for
Edward to be left alone, no amount of selflessness
on your part will do the job. If you want to punish
yourself for sins that are not yours to confess,
you'll be taking thousands of lives with you. Is that
what you want?"
I opened my mouth to reply but closed it again at
once. He was being so cryptic and I was too torn
inside to make sense of his messages. "What do
you mean?" I asked him desperately.
"The war Bella! The poor teenage boys who are
fighting as werewolves against powerful vampires
who will most likely destroy them! And the many
vampires being killed while fighting a battle that is
not theirs to fight! The thousands of innocents that
have turned into collateral damage! No one can
get the two sides to make a truce, except maybe
you. And even that is a big maybe."
"But what can I do?"
Arthur leaned me against the stone wall and held
on to my shoulders "Edward needs to be killed, so
that you can then use your power to bargain for
humanity, and not for him."
I'd started shaking my head at the mention of
Edward's name. "No, I can't do that Arthur! I'm
sorry, I really am but I need to try and save him!
Even if it's a lost battle I can't not try!"
He was shaking his head as well "No Bella, you
don't understand." Right in front of my eyes,
Arthur's features shifted. In the blink of an eye I
was no longer staring into the black eyes of a
family friend, but into the topaz pools of my lover. I
gasped; it took me longer than it should have to
remember that Arthur could change his
appearance at will. He now looked exactly like
Edward. Even though I knew I was still talking to
Arthur I couldn't help but admire Edward's angel
like features. I had to admit that the chance to
glance upon his timeless beauty was a small gift –
a final goodbye.
"Edward needs to be killed." Even his voice
sounded the same.
I shook my head fervently, my chest heaved with
the sobs that shook my body once again. "No,
Arthur I can't let you do this! I'm already
responsible for your family's death I can't let you
sacrifice yourself..."
"Bella..." he smiled kindly at me "I want to die.
There is nothing left for me on this earth. I came
here to be killed. Running into you was just an
added bonus. Now, if my plan works, maybe the
death of my family won't be in vain."
I was still shaking my head so he pulled me into a
fierce hug once more. I cried against him, I felt so
sorry, so guilty, so helpless. No matter how many
times people told me I'd been set up, that what
happened was not my fault, I just couldn't justify so
many deaths.
"Bella, listen to me. We're going to have to do this
soon. I need you to help me. You have to keep the
illusion going until they've burned my body,
otherwise this will all have been for nothing. "
I looked up into Edward's eyes and tried to make
sense of what Arthur was asking of me. "You mean,
you need me to..."
"Keep my power going, even after they've killed
me."
I panicked "I'm not sure I can do that! I've never
done it. I don't even really know how my gift
works! I don't know how..."
"You can, Bella. You have to. This is your only
chance." He was pulling me towards the car, which
was still running. He pushed me gently into the
driver's seat.
"Find the clock tower. Next to it there is an alley. I
will wait for them there but you'll have to follow me
to wherever they take me. You have to make sure
they see Edward when they kill me. They know
what you can do, so stay out of sight. Only show
yourself after I've been burned. Find a way to make
them leave you alone then figure out how to stop
this carnage."
I stared at him, my eyes wide as saucers. "That's
the plan? Get you killed and then wing it? I can't do
this! I can't watch you die! Besides, won't they
know I'm here as soon as I enter the city?"
"As far as I know they don't know about you and
they're not expecting you. There is no such thing
as a vampire-radar, Bella. Just drive slow and stay
away from the sun."
He knelt down in front of me, taking my face in his
hands the way Edward did when he was trying to
make me understand something vital. "Bella, listen
to me, this is your only chance to save Edward. You
will know what to do. I trust you."
And with that he turned around, pulled his hood up
and walked right through the gates of Volterra.
My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I drove
through the narrow streets. A part of me refused to
believe I'd be able to sacrifice Arthur like that, but
deep down I knew I'd do anything, anything to
keep Edward alive.
I parked the car a block away from the tower and
waited for Arthur. I spotted him a few minutes
later, leaning against the wall concealed by the
shadows. I knew I was looking at Arthur, but I
couldn't keep that fact straight in my mind. All I
saw was Edward, standing in the dark, waiting to
be killed.
Anxiety combined with stress was making it
difficult for me to focus. I wondered how long it
would take for him to be spotted and secretly
wished that they'd never notice him. My hopes
vanished a second later, when a tall man dressed
entirely in black walked up to Arthur and took his
shoulder. The man said something to him, but I
was too far away to hear through the noisy street.
A second vampire dressed in black joined them. He
was shorter than Arthur, but seemed larger
somehow. There was something about him, not
muscles exactly, but a dark menace to his posture
and stride that made him look... powerful.
I got out of the car as I watched Arthur nod. He
said something back to the tall vampire and
started walking deeper into the shadows. I
remained exactly one block behind them as the
two guards guided him to the wall that surrounded
the city. Taking a quick look around, the tallest of
the three glanced at the short vampire. He nodded
slowly, and the tall man jumped, grabbed on to the
wall and went over it quickly.
Arthur followed him and, with another quick glance
to make sure no one was watching, the third
vampire jumped too. I followed them quietly,
glancing up at the wall before trying to jump. I bent
my knees and jumped, but I couldn't reach the top.
I moaned in frustration. If I took too long they were
going to leave and then what would I do? I tried to
focus on my vampire energy, on jumping higher,
on grabbing on to anything.
I jumped again and somehow managed to grab on
to the ledge. I took a peek to see where they'd
gone and found the three hidden in the shadows of
a large tree.
"I just want to make this clear. My family is to be
left alone." Arthur said with Edward's voice.
"No problem, Ed." The small vampire smiled
wickedly at him.
"That includes Bella." Arthur's stare was
murderous. I knew he was restraining himself,
keeping from attacking his wife's killers for the
"greater good". I had never admired anyone more.
"We can't promise that." The tallest one shook his
head.
"Felix, there is no reason..."
"Ah but there is, isn't there, Edward?" Felix wasn't
smiling. In fact, he looked furious. "Besides, you
are in no position to bargain with us. This must end
now."
Arthur took a deep breath and nodded. "I did
wrong. I broke our laws and I must be punished for
that. But know this: If there is a hell, I will come
back from it to make you pay for what you've done
to the people I love."
Felix snorted. "Like I haven't heard that one
before." And with that, he jumped on Arthur,
tearing his skin with nails and teeth. I was so
shocked I couldn't even scream, something I was
deeply thankful for. I kept myself hidden as the
other vampire joined in. Arthur didn't put up a
fight.
I was horrified, grasping at the last bits of my
sanity as I struggled to remember it wasn't Edward
being killed down there, not that that made it hurt
any less. My body shook with sobs as I tried to
concentrate on keeping the illusion going. I didn't
know how long it'd take for them to kill Arthur.
He groaned and twisted around to face me. His
eyes were imploring mine, asking me to keep
fighting the battle he no longer could. Begging me
to keep going.
And then, it was over. His body lay lifeless and still
on the hard ground. I couldn't tear my eyes away
from the blank, empty eyes that I knew so well. I
bit my lip so hard to keep from crying out I almost
broke through my own skin. I kept imagining that
was really Edward, dead and motionless on the
grounds of Volterra. That alone kept me quiet and
still, that alone helped me concentrate. I thought
about nothing except keeping Arthur's body as
Edward's.
I watched as Felix got to his feet, reached inside
his black robe and pulled out a small container with
a liquid that smelled strongly of gasoline. He
poured it all over the remains of Arthur's body. The
other vampire lit the match.
I maintained the illusion for as long as it took. Once
the remains were charred beyond recognition and
both men turned back towards the wall I shifted my
mind into remaining hidden.
I felt daring, in desperate need to test the full
power of my gift. So, instead of hiding from
Arthur's killers, I stood up to face them and
thought to myself "Don't see me".
Both vampires walked by me without a second
glance. I could feel myself, stronger and surer of
myself than ever before as I walked behind them
into an alley of the city. I kept my eyes open for
any sign of the real Edward or Alice or anyone that
could interfere with my plans. I knew what I
needed to do then, and I knew I had to do it alone.
As the two men disappeared into a tall building I
followed, forcing everyone who glanced my way to
turn around, not notice me, not see me. I walked
voluntarily into what could very well be the last
building I'd ever set foot in.
I had no plan, no course of action. I just kept my
back pressed against the wall and kept thinking
over and over in my head "Don't notice me" hoping
it'd stick. The two vampires walked silently past
the front desk, nodding at the girl behind it in
greetings. I felt like crying with relief as the girl
looked right past me to greet them back.
They reached a set of elevators and climbed into
one. I didn't feel like pushing my luck so much by
joining them, so I waited until the elevator left and
watched anxiously until it stopped on the seventh
floor, then I headed for the stairs.
As I climbed the steps two at a time I wondered
what I'd find when I pushed open the door. Part of
me expected dark, gloomy walls with skeletons
chained to them, but the reasonable part of me
knew it would probably be a normal hallway, with
normal furniture and normal bloodthirsty vampires
milling around.
I was so absorbed by my own thoughts and so sure
of my abilities to control people that I didn't even
pause by the door, I just pushed it open and
walked right into a sunlit hall pretty much as I had
imagined it, only I was immediately surrounded by
vampires. They had been expecting me.
My first instincts told me to run, to fly down the
stairs as fast as my legs could take me, but I was
strangely rooted to the spot. I tried to move my
limbs but nothing happened, it seemed like
someone there was keeping me still with their
mind. I briefly wondered why thatgift worked on
me when most of them didn't.
"Well, it's nice to know even you can't order
technology around." A fragile looking man with
long black hair wearing a dark brown cloak walked
up to me. I gasped when I recognized him from one
of the paintings in Carlisle's study. "I must admit,
when Caius insisted on adding electronic
surveillance to the building I thought it was pure
rubbish. I stand corrected."
Even though I was surrounded and quickly
panicking, I tried to keep myself together and
occupied my eyes, the only part of my body I could
move, on locating my captor. I found a tall,
beautiful woman standing behind a row of powerful
looking men. She seemed to be concentrating
hard.
"Let me go." I said through gritted teeth. I hadn't
thought I'd be able to speak out loud, but the
second the words left my mouth I found myself
able to move around again.
I took a step back. The beautiful woman looked
around horrified. The initial shock at my subtle
movement wore off quickly though, and every
vampire in the room leaned forward as if to leap on
me.
Before anyone could so much as blink I yelled;
"Stop!"
All of them stopped in their tracks unwillingly.
Taking a deep breath I mustered up all my courage
before continuing. "Do not move. We are going to
have a little chat."
I could see in their eyes the fear and the anger of
being forced into submission against their will. The
man who'd spoken to me first was the only one
who seemed more curious than upset.
"You have killed the man who wronged you. I came
here to ask to be left alone now. Stop following my
family, stop the hunt. You have what you wanted
now leave us be."
"Enough." A voice behind me startled me. I turned
around to see a black haired man walking up the
stairs. I raised my hand to stop him in his tracks
but before I could even think of ordering him to be
still he raised his own hands.
"The mind games won't be necessary, Isabella." He
kept walking. I wondered briefly if I should talk to
him. Maybe try to reason with him. He certainly
seemed like the most reasonable of the bunch.
Before I could make up my mind he'd walked past
me to join his motionless friends. "My name is
Marcus. I, along with this man," he pointed to the
other brown cloaked fellow, "and Caius run the
Volturi family. We have been keeping an eye on
you."
"Why?" The word left my mouth on impulse.
"You are a very special girl, very special indeed.
We have been observing you since before you
became a vampire. Even as a human you had a...
talent that intrigued us."
"A talent?"
"Yes, well it intrigued Aro here more than the rest
of us, but we kept an eye on you nevertheless.
That proved to be a smart move. We knew you
were... immune to certain vampire gifts and we
wanted to know why, or at the very least know
what would become of you once you were
changed."
"But how did you...?"
Marcus raised a hand to interrupt me. "Lestat can
be useful from time to time. There was a vampire
who met you in passing and went to stay with your
family friends in Alaska for a while."
"Laurent." I whispered. Marcus nodded "He sold
you out. Quite literally too, he exchanged
information about you for protection. He seemed to
think your Edward would eventually run into him
and finish him off. I don't really know why, I never
asked."
I wondered what Laurent had done, or what he was
planning to do that would make Edward want to
hunt him down.
"But Laurent is not what's important here, Bella.
What's important is, we knew about you, we've
known about you all along. We knew the
werewolves were going to set you up. We wanted
them to, the wolf that set this in motion, one of the
tribe elders, was reckless. He couldn't see he was
planning a lost battle. They are in no way ready to
fight our race. Not in strategy, not in numbers."
"Then why did you let it happen? If you knew what
I was going to do, why didn't you stop me?" I
pleaded with the man who stared at me with cold
eyes.
"In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte: Never
interrupt your enemy when he's making a
mistake."
I couldn't believe my ears. I'd been played from the
very beginning by both sides of a battle that was
not my own. They had all known I was going to
murder an innocent teenage boy and they had let
me. I shook under the weight of my destiny and
asked in a whisper. "Why are you telling me this?"
Marcus smiled a sick, contorted smile. "I'm making
time, actually. As we speak, the rest of the guard is
climbing the stairs. You might be able to hold back
twenty vampires at once, but I doubt even you can
concentrate strongly enough to keep us all at bay.
There will be no truce tonight, Isabella. Your job is
done, it's time for you to join your precious
Edward."
At that moment I heard them, at least fifty pairs of
feet flying up the stairs. I looked around in panic
trying to find a way out, a window I could jump out
of or some other possible escape but I was
trapped. The long hall had only small windows that
I couldn't possibly fit through. I was considering
trying to knock down a wall when my eyes came to
rest on a small figure standing next to Marcus. She
was a girl, tiny and statuesque. She didn't look a
day older than twelve but her eyes screamed
murder. As I watched, she started blinking quickly,
and I realized that, in my panic, I'd forgotten to
keep my power going.
As I heard the light steps coming closer I acted on
impulse. Remembering Lestat's last advice I threw
myself at the girl, grabbed her around the neck
and held her small back to my chest.
"Nobody move!" I yelled again and every single
occupant of the room, even the newcomers,
stopped and stared at me.
I knew I wasn't forcing them to stand still and I
desperately wondered what amazingly dangerous
power the girl I was holding must posses to make
them all stare in shock and fear.
"You should be very careful, Bella." The man
named Aro waved a hand at me.
"No, you know what? You should be careful
because I'm getting very pissed." I tried to imitate
Edward's growl. It sounded ridiculous to my ears,
but it made the vampires back away a few steps.
The little girl in my arms was squirming, trying to
get away from my grasp. I held her tight. She
looked up at me with fire in her eyes.
"No, Jane. Don't." A third, brown-cloaked man who I
assumed to be Caius instructed the girl. It was then
I realized she'd tried to use her gift against me.
Thankfully, that one apparently didn't work on me.
Feeling more daring that I had ever felt I turned to
the girl and said. "You really shouldn't do that. I
tend to amplify other people's powers when they
least expect it."
"You don't want to do that, Bella. If you do, we all
die, you included." Aro's voice was low but
powerful.
"I don't mind dying if I get to take you all with me."
I replied honestly. At least that way Edward would
finally be safe. I was ready to die, ready and willing
to kill us all right then. It even sounded like a good
idea. If they were all dead, Edward would have no
one to fight anymore. The world would finally be
free of the Italian murderers. The war with the
werewolves would end. Dying for the greater good.
It sounded heroic, really.
"Stop!" Aro shook his head. "Stop! This is
ridiculous. There is no reason for us to kill each
other. We can work this out like civilized people."
"But we're not civilized people, are we? What
exactly do you want to work out? You killed my
friends, the love of my life and God knows how
many others. You turned me into a monster!"
"Ah but we didn't do that, did we sweetheart?" Aro
smiled at me. That only infuriated me further. "You
decided to become one of us. You choseto become
a so-called monster. You and you alone decided to
join our world and by doing so, you were then
forced to accept our rules. The secrecy law is there
for our protection, as well as for the protection of
thousands of humans. Or would you like a repeat of
the Inquisition? If you break the law, you get
punished. I didn't see you trying to kill your
President over the death penalty when you were a
human. How is this different?"
I opened my mouth to reply and then closed it
again. I was having a harder time than I should
have with that argument. "The Vanbeaullens had
nothing to do with that, you still killed them!" I
finally answered.
"That was most unfortunate, but we are in the
middle of a war here and some casualties are to be
expected."
I shook my head. "That doesn't give you the
right..."
"Look, Bella, it's over. What's done is done. I'm
going to make you an offer." Aro's smile turned
kind, something I wasn't expecting. "I'm offering
you a place here in our family. Join us and help us
protect ourselves and others."
Caius looked outraged. Marcus threw his hands in
the air, apparently done with the conversation as if
we were discussing curtains. He turned around,
grazed Aro's arm with his own, and walked away,
down the hall and through a wooden door at the
end. The rest of the vampires shared a look of
confusion.
I was so shocked I couldn't even respond for a
while. "I... no, thank you. I'd rather not."
Aro shrugged, "Fine then, just go."
"Aro!" Caius hissed. "We can't just let her go!"
"Would you rather be killed today, brother? She is
ready to die for her family, she will not hesitate in
taking us all with her. I believe we can live at
peace for a while longer." Aro turned to me. "We
will undoubtedly meet again, more than likely
under unpleasant circumstances, but I see no need
for any more deaths today."
I couldn't believe my ears. I blinked rapidly,
wondering if I had fallen asleep on the plane and
was dreaming the whole ordeal. Only when I
remembered I could no longer sleep did I realize he
was being serious.
"You're letting me go?"
"Yes." Aro nodded.
"And you'll leave my family alone?" I narrowed my
eyes, it all sounded too good to be true.
"For now. The time will come for us to have this
argument again. Right now, we have other
problems to focus on."
"The war with the wolves. That too needs to be
stopped..." I started but Aro raised a hand to
silence me.
"That fight is not your own. Walk away from it. It
will be over soon."
"But how can I let you continue killing all those
men?"
Aro smiled at me like a teacher smiles at a student
who asks an idealistic question. "You are not letting
us do anything, Bella. Remember, it was not us
who struck first. The werewolves started this fight.
We're merely taking advantage of their stupidity. If
you want to stop the war, you're barking up the
wrong tree."
For a moment I considered doing the right thing.
Amplifying whatever power the little girl I was
holding possessed and killing us all. I knew that by
letting them live I was giving them time to prepare.
Time to seek me out later and finish me off with
some clever plan I'd never see coming. And yet, I
couldn't bring myself to do it.
What I wanted more than anything in the whole
world right then was to go home, to fly back to my
own country and find Edward. To tell him things
were finally okay. To start my life with him.
And so, I released Jane.
Felix jumped on me before I could stop him. He laid
a solid blow to my head with his elbow. The blow
hurt more than it should have and it sent me
staggering backwards into the wall of vampires
that had formed behind me, blocking my path to
the staircase.
"No, Felix!" Aro commanded. Felix stopped in his
tracks and turned around to glance at his master.
"I meant what I said. We will let her free for now.
The vampires I'd fallen against steadied me and
then stepped away. Aro waved his hand and the
crowd cleared a path towards the stairs.
"I am a man of my word. If you leave now I promise
you a safe path out of Volterra. We will get
together and have a chat one of these days. For
now, just stay out of our way and we will do the
same."
I nodded at Aro. It all felt strangely surreal as I
turned my back on him and walked down the
stairs. I felt like running as fast as my legs could
take me, but my muscles seemed to finally be
catching up to the fear I'd been feeling. I was
shaking all over and had to hold on to the wall for
support as I descended.
While I walked I made excuses for myself, excuses
I knew to be true. I could've killed us all that day
and eventually, if I had to, I'd be able to do it again.
I could borrow Alice's power from time to time and
try to see if the Volturi were planning a visit. If that
were ever the case, I'd go back to meet them in
Volterra by myself. I'd never expose Edward to that
danger.
As I reached the first floor I was filled with
something I hadn't felt in a while -hope. The hope
of seeing Edward again, of finally being happy.
I left the building. The girl behind the front desk
stared at me curiously but didn't ask any
questions. I walked back to where I'd parked the
borrowed car. My thoughts drifted towards the
werewolves and their participation in the war. As
resentful as I felt towards the race in general for
putting me in such a position I couldn't help but
feel guilty about their imminent death.
A pair of hands grabbed my shoulders and pulled
me into a dark alley. I screamed in fright before the
hands twisted me around. I came face to face with
a very angry Edward.
"What are you doing here, Bella?" He pushed me
against a wall and shook me. He shook me so hard
my teeth rattled.
"Edward!" I shrieked. As glad as I was to see him
again, I found myself pushing him away, trying to
get him further into the shadows. "You can't be
here!"
"I can't be here? I CAN'T BE HERE!" He yelled and
continued to shake me. "You can't be here! What
are you doing? What did you come here to do?" He
was so mad, so furious, that for a moment I
thought he was going to slap me.
"I came here to save your life!" I hissed at him.
"And so far I'm doing a pretty damn good job!" I
pushed him away from me so hard that he
released me and fell backwards against the
opposite wall of the alley.
We stared at each other, panting and furious, and
then we collided. I threw myself at him and he
caught me by the waist, lifting me up so my mouth
could meet his. He assaulted me with his kisses,
biting my lip and growling against my mouth. He
pushed me against the wall and I wrapped my legs
around his waist, holding him as close to me as
possible. I lost myself in his arms and for a moment
that felt like hours, I forgot where we were
standing.
Reality kicked in as we came up for unnecessary
air. I pressed my forehead against his, breathing
hard. "We need to get you out of here." I whispered
fervently. I untangled myself from him and started
pulling him towards the car.
"No, Bella." He resisted "I need you to go. I have to
keep going."
"Keep going where?" I dragged him with me. "It's
over! It's all over. Please just come with me and I'll
explain to you later."
Edward shook his head and, at the same time,
shook off my hand. "No Bella. It won't be over until
I turn myself in. I have to go to them, it's the only
way you'll be safe."
"Oh, Edward." I grabbed his hands and forced him
to look into my eyes. "Edward, you are already
dead." I could tell he couldn't understand what I
was telling him, but I took advantage of his
confusion to drag him to the car and push him in.
"Stay there!" I told him forcefully. He obeyed
against his will.
"Where is the rest of the family?" I asked him once
we were both safely in the car.
"I lost them at the airport. I stole a gun from a
police officer, placed it in the pocket of a jacket
Emmett was carrying and then tipped off airport
security. Hopefully that's stalled them long enough
for you to explain what the hell is going on."
"I will explain if you duck down, keep out of sight
and let me drive." I commanded.
Seeing as how he had no choice, Edward did as I
told him and, while I drove away from the
nightmare that was Volterra, I started to explain.
Two weeks later I sat on my hands as Edward
drove us back to the green town we knew so well.
He wasn't happy about it, but I needed to go back.
I'd thought about just calling Charlie, leaving a
message on his answering machine or something,
but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I had to see with
my own eyes that he was doing okay. I knew
talking to him in person was out of the question
-he'd never let me leave with Edward. It would do
more damage to him than good. But I still had to
go home. There were things I needed to finish.
I stared out the window as he drove. I felt him take
my hand and I turned to face him. "Bella, are you
sure you're ready for this?" Edward asked me for
the tenth time. I nodded but couldn't find my voice.
He sighed and stepped on the gas pedal. We sped
by the "Welcome to Forks" sign.
He knew where I wanted to stop first so he parked
the new Mercedes by the side of the road and
turned to me. "Do you want me to come with you?"
I'd already told him I wanted to go alone and he
hadn't liked the idea from the start.
"No Edward. Can you just... wait for me?" I got out
of the car and he followed me but made no
movement to go after me once I'd retrieved the
flowers from the back seat. He leaned against the
side door looking around sourly. I knew he was
scanning the place for werewolves but something
in my gut told me we'd find none that day.
I pulled my raincoat around me tightly in a very
human gesture as I walked slowly to the fallen log
on the side of the road. Mud splashed all around
my ankles as I walked but I barely noticed.
I reached the log and sat down, pulling my raincoat
down and allowing the rain to soak me through.
The water felt neither cold nor warm, a testament
to what I'd become. I glanced down at the white
and yellow freesias in my hands.
"I didn't want to bring you flowers. It feels like such
a waste to get you something that will eventually
die. Then I realized, as Edward once pointed out to
me, that they are already dead." I smiled sadly at
the delicate petals. "He told me to enjoy the
beauty of flowers while it lasted. I realized that
-even though the flowers are dead, I can remember
their beauty."
I looked down at the empty space next to me and
sighed. "I will always remember your beauty,
Jacob." My voice broke and I was overcome with
tearless sobs. There were many things I still
couldn't understand, like why he'd done what he
did or if he'd known what it would cause, but I
couldn't deny to myself the fact that he'd been a
wonderful boy. A boy that could no longer laugh
contagiously or take care of his father. A boy that
would never go to college, or get married or have
children. And it was because of something I'd done.
Or, at the very least, because of what I'd become.
"Bella?" Edward's voice startled me. I looked up
into his sad eyes. "We need to keep going, love.
Before somebody notices us."
I nodded and stood up, placing the flowers on the
log and smiling sadly. Edward wrapped his arm
around my drenched shoulders and held me as I
continued to stare at the empty space that had
once been occupied by a childhood friend.
"He didn't deserve this," I whispered.
"Neither did you." Edward's tortured voice made
my insides clench. He sounded so remorseful.
"I wish I could talk to him one last time. Ask him..."
"Why he killed himself?" Edward filled in.
I shook my head. "Ask him for forgiveness."
As we stood there I realized it'd stopped raining. I
looked up at the sky just in time to see the first
perfect white snowflake falling down towards us.
Edward looked up too, and in no time we were
surrounded by powdery white snow. He looked
down into my eyes and smiled. "If I were you, I'd
take this as an answer to your question."
I smiled back at him and allowed him to guide me
back to the car. We still had other stops to make.
Charlie wasn't home. I hadn't expected him to be
and I was glad for his absence. I walked through
the house, saying my final goodbyes too the yellow
cupboards and the mismatched kitchen chairs. I
smiled at the school photos that adorned the living
room. I had been so embarrassed by them a year
ago. Now all I could think about was how I wished
I'd left Charlie with more.
I felt like I'd aged fifty years in the past month
alone. I'd seen so many atrocities, so many deaths.
In the few weeks I'd been away from that house I'd
lost all innocence. I was sure if my father were to
see me again, he wouldn't recognize me. I was no
longer the daughter he once knew.
My still heart had twisted in my chest when I'd
seen the dozens of newspapers scattered around
the living room floor. Charlie had moved my
computer downstairs and it sat on a desk next to
the TV, surrounded by empty coffee mugs. The
VCR was recording something. I guessed it was
probably the news.
He'd been looking for me. I'd been expecting that.
I stared at myself in the living room mirror. My
drenched hair looked darker, which made me seem
even paler than I normally did. The purple shadows
under my eyes accentuated the burgundy edge
that peeked out from beneath my brown contacts. I
was wearing simple clothes, a pair of jeans and a
brown sweater that was so wet it clung to me.
I felt so out of place in my father's house that I
didn't dare linger around any longer. I felt like an
intruder to his misery. I clutched the letter I'd
written for him to my chest. Thanks to Alice's
suggestion I'd wrapped the envelope in a plastic
bag before stuffing it in my back pocket.
I unwrapped it then and took it to the kitchen
where I fastened it to the fridge with a magnet. The
envelope read one simple word: Dad.
I turned around and walked away from the house,
hand in hand with Edward who had remained quiet
through the whole ordeal. I had explained as much
as I could in the letter and I hoped it would bring
my father some peace. I figured he'd show the
letter to Renee. I knew they'd never get over losing
me, but I hoped desperately that they'd eventually
accept that I was gone for good and move on with
their lives.
We got in the car and drove away. I never looked
back. We had one more stop to make.
We parked in front of the huge white house that
was more our home than anywhere else in the
world right then.
"There are not many things left in the house. I
need to get Carlisle's cross and a few of his books."
Edward handed me a list of titles. "Would you go
up to the study and grab those for me while I pack
up the basement?"
I nodded. Edward kissed my forehead and grazed
my cheeks with his knuckles. "Some of your clothes
are still in our drawers in case you feel like
changing into something dry."
I nodded again and he guided me into the house.
As soon as he opened the door he stiffened. I
stopped too, wondering what had made him stand
so still. Only after I took a breath did I realize, it
smelled like warm, human blood.
"Who's here?" I whispered fervently.
Then I heard the squeak of wheels moving around
in the kitchen. I frowned and walked forward but
Edward caught me by the wrist and held me back.
"Let me go first." He whispered back. I nodded and
followed him as we crossed the living room. I
already knew what was waiting for us, but I didn't
really believe it until I saw it with my own eyes.
"Billy?" I frowned.
The older man looked downright miserable -several
pounds lighter than the last time we'd seen him.
His skin seemed to hang off his bones, which only
accentuated his grave expression. He sat on his
chair, unshaven and unkempt, and looked up at us.
"Bella. I've been waiting for you."
"How did you know we'd..." But Billy interrupted
me with a shake of his head.
"That's not important now. I need to talk to you."
He sounded so... old. His usually young eyes
seemed ancient now, as if he were carrying the
weight of the world on his shoulders.
"Billy..." I couldn't think of anything to say to him,
so I just hung my head in shame and whispered so
low I wasn't sure he'd hear me. "I'm so sorry."
Edward placed his hand on the small of my back. I
took comfort in his touch.
"Bella, that's what I came here to talk to you about.
I think you deserve to know."
"Know what?" I asked.
"That this whole mess was not your fault." I tried to
keep myself from snorting. I'd been hearing that
line so much lately it'd started making me feel
worse instead of better. But then, Billy surprised
me. Staring down at his hands he said, "It was
mine."
That made me look up. I was about to reply when
Edward beat me to it. "What do you mean?"
Billy sighed and motioned to the kitchen chairs
next to his wheelchair. Edward looked
apprehensive, but I sat down and he followed.
"Many years ago, my brother lost his son. Ephraim
was only five years old when he became the victim
of a vampire attack. It was quite random. The
whole family was camping up north, Ephraim
wandered off on his own when my brother was
asleep. He found him, hours later. He went looking
for the vampire who did it but he couldn't... there
were no werewolves in the tribe at the time. When
the Cullens," he nodded in Edward's direction,
"moved to town he was so mad he left. He wanted
more than anything to start the war, to avenge his
son's death. I wouldn't let him, I knew he was doing
it for the wrong reasons."
Billy paused to take a shaky breath. I could feel a
knot in my stomach, tightening at the thought of
losing a son at the hands of your mortal enemy.
"He came back last year. I knew he hadn't
accepted your presence, but I never thought...
Jacob was very taken to him, as my brother was to
my boy. They spent most of their time together,
supposedly taking long walks on the beach or
hiking, things that I couldn't do with them. After
Jacob..." Billy swallowed back tears. I felt a burning
in the back of my throat that had nothing to do
with thirst. "After what happened, I got suspicious.
My brother all but confirmed my awful theory."
Edward leaned forward on his seat and took my
hand. It was only then that I noticed I was holding
on to the counter so hard I was denting the wood.
"My brother was so consumed by his grief that I
believe he convinced Jacob of the "evilness" of
your kind. I think he brainwashed him into thinking
that the war needed to happen, that it was all for
the greater good. They must've planned it for
months, researched all the legends, figuring out a
way to make it all fit. The doctors confirmed the
original cut in Jake's throat was made by a piece of
glass."
Billy's watery eyes stared right into my own. "He
killed himself, didn't he, Bella?"
"He cut his own throat, yes." I whispered.
Billy sighed and stared at his hands. "I don't blame
you, Bella. But at the same time I can't forgive you.
I did warn you, begged you even, to not become..."
He broke off. I stared down at my own hands and
squeezed Edward's fingers.
Billy was silent for a long time. When he spoke
again his voice was calm, under control. "I came
here to ask you for a favor, Bella."
Edward tensed next to me and became very still.
Whatever Billy was about to say, I knew Edward
wasn't going to like it.
"I need you to stop this. To stop my brother before
it ends in even more tragedy."
I sighed. Somehow I'd seen that one coming.
"Billy... I don't know if there's anything I can do." I
started but Billy interrupted.
"There is something about you, Bella. Something
about you that makes me feel like you're the only
one who can end the war."
Why did people keep telling me that? Why didn't
anyone understand that I was just a kid! In the end,
I was just an eighteen year old girl who had
randomly ended up in the middle of a conflict. It
could've happened to anyone!
"Billy, I tried already. I talked to people, I made the
effort. It's out of my hands. It was never in my
hands to begin with!"
"I know you didn't sign up for this exactly, but
there must be something you can..."
"Billy," Edward interrupted for the first time. "I'm
sorry. I really am, but this really has nothing to do
with her, with us. As much as we'd like to help...
you can't ask her to put herself in danger to undo
something your brother caused. I'm sorry, but
she's in enough danger as it is."
Edward was right. Even though my safety wasn't
the reason why I couldn't help Billy, it was part of
the reason why I couldn't even try. If I were to take
sides, either with the vampires or the wolves,
Edward would join me. I couldn't have him that
close to a battlefield. Not when I had just gotten
him back. Not when he would surely be killed if he
were recognized.
Billy sighed and closed his eyes. He looked so
defeated, so small. Remorse crept up on me once
again. I'd done that, I'd broken him. His whole race
was going to become extinct because of my
moment of weakness.
I bit my lip so hard it hurt and then I whispered. "I'll
talk to your brother."
"Bella..." Edward started to object but I shook my
head. "I won't join the fight. I won't put myself in
danger. I will talk to the pack of Quileute wolves,
explain the situation to them. It's all I can do."
Billy shook his head. "They didn't listen to me. Why
would they listen to a young vampire like
yourself?"
"Because I can make them listen."
Edward wasn't happy about it. Which wasn't new.
He'd wanted to call the others, to make things
more even, but I knew the wolves wouldn't be able
to resist attacking us if they saw a coven as large
as ours. Plus, I wasn't sure I could keep everyone in
check. Emmett at least was bound to make an
impulsive move that could get him hurt.
We walked, hand in hand, deep into the forest and
waited to cross paths with the werewolf scent. We
were trying to get as deep into the woods as we
could. As far away from human collateral as
possible.
It didn't take long. Edward, who knew the woods
much better than I did, was guiding me towards a
small clearing when he stiffened.
"They're close." He heard their thoughts before I
could smell them. Their scent was powerful. It
overshadowed the other smells of the forest.
Before long I could hear the soft steps of many feet
running towards us at top speed. In the near dark I
managed to get a glimpse of several pairs of eyes,
hurrying in our direction. It was a surprisingly clear
night. The light from the moon helped me see my
targets -something I was grateful for, considering
I'd never tested my powers in the dark-.
A pair of excited blue eyes were in the lead. The
enormous wolf was growling before he even came
into view. I could feel the rumbling of the ground as
the pack got closer. The rumble of their chests, the
snapping of their teeth, it made me nervous. My
whole body tensed for the attack. Edward sank into
a crouch in front of me, growling just as hard as
the beasts.
Once they were close enough for me to see them
completely I held up my hand.
"Stop." I whispered.
The whole pack stopped in their tracks, some
falling sideways, unable to maintain their balance
after such an abrupt command. Billy's brother
came to a screeching halt a couple of yards away
from me.
I exhaled in relief, glad my gift worked as well on
them as it did on everybody else.
"Sit." I commanded and the ten or so werewolves
sat on the ground immediately. It would've been
funny if the situation hadn't been so tense. "We are
going to have a little chat."
Edward relaxed. He stood up straight, his eyes
calm but guarded, and he went to stand beside
me. He placed his hand on the small of my back,
slipping it under my shirt to touch my bare skin. My
breath caught in my throat. If I'd been human my
heart would've been racing erratically. I tried to
suppress the embarrassing reactions I normally
had to his touch. That was neither the time nor the
place to go all lovey dovey.
I thought he was just placing his hand on my back
to give me moral support, but when my eyes finally
met his he was staring at me with intensity, trying
to communicate some sort of message. I finally
realized what he wanted, mentally slapping myself
for being so slow in a time of crisis.
I concentrated on tapping into Edward's power so I
could communicate with the werewolves. At once,
ten different voices flooded my mind, and they
were all cursing like truckers.
I winced and Edward stared at me apologetically.
"I need you to hear me out for a moment. I swear if
we can behave like the civilized... creatures that
we are, no one will get hurt."
The swearing only got louder. Edward dropped his
hand and stared at the wolves. "If you people can't
behave yourselves, we are going to be here for a
long time. You might have realized by now, she can
keep you all here for as long as she wants. Hell,
she can even make you tap-dance if she gets
bored. Just hear what she has to say and we will be
on our way." He gave them a menacing look that
would've made me recoil if it'd been directed at
me. He waited for a minute and then touched my
skin again.
They weren't swearing anymore. I took that as a
good sign.
"Listen. I know you all think you're fighting a fair
fight. I know you believe you can finish off the
vampires of the world. Get rid of the threat, have a
normal, happy life. I'm here to tell you that's not
going to happen."
The swearing started again. They were all yelling at
me at the same time, I couldn't understand a thing.
Edward tried to remove his hand again but I shook
my head.
"I can't understand you when you all speak to me
at the same time. Please, only one at a time." It
was a request, not an order. Something told me
that forcing them to be quiet would put a serious
damper on the negotiations. They seemed startled
when I spoke to them directly. It took me a second
to realize they didn't know I could read their
thoughts.
"We can and we will finish you off, bloodsucker.
Along with your whole race!" It was Billy's brother
who finally "spoke", the biggest wolf, the leader.
"Really? Because right now it doesn't look like you
can do much of anything." I snapped. The wolves
were immobile, but I could still read the confusion
in their eyes when I responded directly to their
leader's thoughts.
"This thing that I can do? Bend your free will, force
you to do what I want. That's just the tip of the
iceberg. Your numbers are already down and you
haven't even fought the hard fights. You've been
battling against bounty hunters, vampires with no
special talents that were looking for a reward. Most
of them were not even aware of what was going
on!"
There was a murmur among the pack as the
wolves started to consider the truth in my words. I
couldn't hear every conversation. I could make out
a few phrases like "you told us the worst was over"
and "I thought we were near the end. "
"I came here today to let you know that there are a
lot more vampires than you think. They outnumber
you. Not only that, but a lot of them have talents
like mine. They can burn you alive, they can read
your thoughts." I nodded my head in the direction
of Edward, who was still staring coldly at them all.
He could probably catch every single conversation
going on. He had decades of practice on me.
"The vampires will use their talents to kill you. And
if you make them come all the way over here to do
it they will probably get rid of your whole families
too!"
"We can protect ourselves!" The blue eyes pierced
through mine with such fury I almost flinched.
The other wolves weren't as sure as their leader. I
could tell most of them had never heard of our
special gifts. Many of them feared for their families.
"You can end this now. You can choose not to fight
anymore. Declare a truce, do it now while you still
can and you might be able to save your race." I
pleaded.
Only the leader remained convinced of his cause
by then. The others began to doubt.
"I'm going to let you go now." I said. Edward's arm
tightened around me in disapproval but I gave him
a look. How could we expect the wolves to trust us
if we didn't show them trust in return?
And so I relinquished my control on their minds. No
one moved for a moment, and then the wolves
slowly started to get up. They stood around us, not
getting closer but not leaving either.
"I can put you in contact with the vampires in
charge, but you have to promise me you'll only
contact them to make peace. I will not put you in
more danger, if you were to try and fight them...
well it would be suicide. I can't promise you they'll
take a truce, but I'm sure it's your only fighting
chance."
I was pretty sure Aro would find a truce with the
werewolves "interesting" at the very least. Either
way it was the most I could do for them. If it didn't
work... well they were as good as dead anyway, it
was only a matter of time.
I let go of Edward and took a step forward. I didn't
want to hear the voices of the werewolves
anymore. They were too many, it was too
confusing. Edward growled and tried to yank me
back but I shook my head. I knew what I was doing.
Edward took a deep breath and gave me a look
that clearly told me he was not happy with the
risks I was taking.
"If you're willing to try and make a truce, please sit
down." I tried to keep my voice from shaking with
little success. Minutes passed in absolute stillness.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, a small
black wolf sank down to the ground. One by one,
the rest of the pack followed until only their leader
remained standing.
I turned to him, determined to make him
understand. "I am very sorry for your loss, for
everything that my species has taken away from
you. But you have to understand, you'll lose a lot
more if you keep this up."
He stared at me with hatred, and I could tell he
wasn't going to give up.
"You can't fight without an army." I pointed out.
His eyes blazed with fury and for a moment I was
afraid he was going to take a snap at me. I had my
arms halfway up to protect myself when he turned
around and ran, dashing into the woods so fast I
didn't even have time to react.
He ran away from us, away from his home once
again. I stood there and listened to his footsteps
until he was too far away for me to hear.
I closed my eyes and felt Edward as he encircled
me in his arms. I leaned back against his chest
before turning to the rest of the wolves and saying.
"Okay, I'm going to need a pen."
The tiny rays of light that indicated the beginning
of a new day started to peek through our white
curtains. I buried my face in a fluffy pillow that
smelled strongly of Edward and smiled. Gentle
fingers caressed my exposed back and I just had to
grin. Life couldn't possibly get any better than that.
"Bella?" Edward whispered against my shoulder.
I smiled and answered "Hm?"
"Are you asleep?"
I chuckled at his little joke. "Yes, as a matter of fact
I am. I'm dreaming of fried fish and chocolate
pudding."
Edward grinned against my skin. "You just looked
so... peaceful."
"I feel peaceful. In fact, I feel perfect."
Edward slid the bedsheet lower down my back and
kissed my exposed skin. "You are perfect."
I stretched and pretended to yawn. Edward
laughed softly.
"What were you thinking?" Edward's velvet voice
interrupted my musings.
"That I don't ever want to leave this bed." I turned
my head to the side so I could see his gorgeous
features.
Edward's smile widened and he leaned down to
kiss me. "That can be arranged."
"You think we could get some room service? Maybe
a cow or two?" I joked and he growled, tickling me
gently.
I laughed and turned on my back. He rolled on top
of me and pinned me down, taking both my hands
in one of his and trapping them above my head. He
nuzzled my neck and I gasped, amazed at how
alive he made me feel, how his touch seemed to
ignite my cold skin.
"I love you so much I'd starve for you." He
whispered against my collarbone.
"Oh yeah? Well I love you so much I'd eat tofu for
you." I answered and he laughed. His beautiful,
heartbreaking smile made me weak in the knees.
I glanced out the window. It was the beginning of a
whole new day in our own private heaven. The
little piece of island that we, along with the rest of
the Cullens, had rented out in the Caribbean
sparkled with the morning sun.
"Where's the rest of the family?" I asked Edward.
"If you're worried about the noise, they've gone
hiking. Emmett wanted to explore the local fauna.
They won't hear us even if you want to be as loud
as you were the other night."
I squirmed with embarrassment. I might not be
able to blush anymore, but as it turns out
embarrassment can be shown in a lot of different
ways. Edward laughed, lifting my chin with his
index finger and placing a delicate kiss on my lips.
"You know what?" I asked when he finally let me
go.
"What?" He kissed my cheek, my chin, my nose.
"I want to see the sunrise."
Edward lifted himself off me, all smiles. He loved
watching me sparkle in the sun. He rose from the
bed and looked around for the pants he'd been
wearing the day before. I wrapped the white bed
sheet around myself and walked out the little
cottage hand in hand with him.
We reached the edge of the sand. The warm blue
water touched our toes as Edward stood behind
me, his arms around my waist. He rested his chin
on my shoulder as we both watched the sun slowly
coloring the horizon.
I felt a strong vibration coming from his pants and
frowned. A second later his jeans started to sing.
Edward reached into his pocket and pulled out a
small, silver cell phone. Frowning, he lifted it to his
ear.
"Hello?" He answered. His frown deepened as he
handed the phone to me.
"Hello?" I answered with hesitation.
"Bella! My dear!" It was a voice I recognized, and
not one that I expected to hear again anytime
soon.
"Lestat?" I was very confused.
"Yes dear, how are you? I've been trying to track
you down for ages! Listen, I need to ask you, where
the hell are you?"
"I'm... what... how did you get this number?" I
stared at Edward and he shrugged his shoulders.
Apparently he'd never given it to him.
"Oh that's not important. What is important is you
dear! Where on earth did you sneak off to? I've
been getting endless calls about you! Not knowing
where you are is certainly not doing wonders to my
reputation."
"Wonders to your... what?" I was so confused.
"Everyone is talking about you dear! I've gotten
endless calls and visits. So many people want to
join your family! You know, this awesome power of
yours... it's bound to stir up some controversy.
Everyone wants you!"
"Me?" I shrieked.
"I've been toying around with a few names for you
guys. Some people are calling you The Other
Family, but that's just putting unnecessary
pressure on you guys. Even though Vampire Queen
has also been thrown around and that's not exactly
setting low expectations. I was thinking something
along the lines of 'New World Family', that way the
Volturi can remain the 'Old World Family', maybe
that won't make them as mad. They can be so
European, the snobs. This way if we ever get
another vampire prodigy from, let's say, Asia, they
can be the 'Asian family'! But that would make you
the 'American family' and that sounds too much
like a sitcom..."
I snapped the phone shut, groaning in despair.
"This sounds like trouble." I said to Edward.
The phone rang again. Edward took it from me and
threw it into the ocean before answering, "Oh
Bella, with you, everything is always trouble."
He kissed my neck and I smiled as the sun rose on
my new, and probably complicated life.
THE END