Midnight Sun (13. Knowledge)
Enough, I ordered, though I was aching to feel the warmth of her rich skin. Enough.
When I reached the end of the drive I knew what to expect, though, the insults that continued at maximum capacity fissured my nerves.
Idiot! Jackass! Lunatic! I really hope you are happy! If I have to move again…, Rosalie was seething belligerence. The vivid image she thrust on my mind was my Vanquish being catastrophically driven off a ravine.
I sighed and shook my head trying to dispel her thoughts, but after living with her for this long I'd learned to hum a tune or ignore her internal muttering, even when she was screaming at the top of her mental lungs and making the visual pictures more devastating.
After watching all of the possible ways she would crash my car over and over in her head I realized that it didn't matter.
It was Bella who was ultimately significant now. Her silent thoughts �C how warm and trusting she is.
Ah, I thought gleefully. My mental distraction worked perfectly.
I sat in the car, my fingers still wrapped tightly on the steering wheel as I thought about going back. I inhaled deeply at her scent that was still lingering in the car. White hot knives cut down my throat, but I embraced it, content that I was satiated for the moment.
A thought disrupted my internal blitheness.
Boy, do you have some explaining to do.
"Emmett," I muttered, though I was grateful he had forgiven me of my actions so quickly. His low chuckle came from inside the house as he over took Jasper's knight in a game of chess.
I had to deal with this now. I couldn't go see her until my family was resolved, though, honestly, I should never go back. Her life would be the better for it �C she would have a life to live.
Carlisle's car was parked next to Rosalie's M3. I sighed in relief. If he was here, then maybe Rosalie would be on her best behavior.
More thoughts filled my mind bringing me back to the present. It was time to confront my family about the secrets that Bella logically pieced together.
I finally persuaded myself into going inside to speak with Carlisle.
Alice's thoughts interrupted my anxiety filled mind.
I hope you've reconsidered your plans for the weekend. I love her, too. Her internal cry was a lament.
I twitched slightly under the impact of the earlier vision. I tried to expunge her thoughts from my mind as my stomach began to twist in pain.
Absurd �C it was a lie, impossible. I would never hurt Bella…would I? Bella…in my arms…cold, white, dead… The thoughts were inconceivable. Alice was blind or confused somehow, the vision insurmountable.
The pain swiftly took me under – it felt like my body was burning from the inside out, almost as if the pain of her death would literally make me combust. I gave Alice a grave look.
"You're wrong." My tone was hollow.
Please, Edward! Alice begged.
I could feel every degree of love she had for her. She doesn't even know her �C her love was nonexistent compared to mine.
But doesn't everyone have that reaction to her? Hadn't I? Didn't I risk everything just to save her life so I could observe her; watch her sleep at night?
My need to speak with Carlisle was growing at an immense rate. He would have answers. He always knew what to do.
I marched past Alice where she was sitting on the stairs, her face rested on her hands, her lower lip jutting out slightly from her upper. I ignored her pouting, knowing it was because of her vision that was bringing her into this trepidation. And her vision was wrong.
I clenched my teeth together as I spoke, making my words almost incoherent "I'm strong."
I'm brave enough, I tried to convince myself.
"I won't hurt her, Alice. Your vision is impossible!"
I'm begging you, she continued to plead.
Her anguish was beginning to weigh on me. I shoved her mental insight from me viciously. How could I possibly bring death to her?
I wanted �C no �C I needed Bella. The necessity to hold her, my hunger…my thirst for her was exponentially growing at a sizable intensity. But, it wasn't my thirst that I was craving the most; I desired for her, longed for the face, the voice, that accompanied the fragrance.
I moved swiftly up the stairs so quick, in fact, a normal human wouldn't have seen me.
Slowly opening the door to my potential sentencing I entered Carlisle's office. His face was so close to the book he was reading that his nose was nearly touching the pages.
Association between PPI's and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis…His eyes moved up the page until they left the book flowing upward towards my face which was perfectly mirrored in his eyes. Guilt was resolutely displayed across my face.
I looked away.
Esme, joyfully flitting around the room, was re-organizing the bookshelves in effort to make room for new books Carlisle had just purchased. She caught my glance when I entered the room.
She didn't consciously think her name but to some extent of reasoning her mind was radiating the essence of Bella's presence that always accompanied me. The fond attachment she had formed for Bella, without ever meeting her, brought a hazardous new light upon being with her. If it were up to Esme, Bella would already be transformed into a vampire. My obvious love was enough for her to wish this often, though she would never voice her desires.
Each second I grew closer to Bella was another second that was being taken from her life. My thirst. My love for her. Which one was stronger? Would they intermingle and make her a vampire?
Risky. My thought was fleeting because I knew that I wouldn't leave her alone and that I wouldn't change her. What was the future, her fate? The internal struggle of her inevitable future began nagging at me almost as bad as Rosalie thought's that were now blaring in my head.
This wasn't something I could run from. Maybe Carlisle would have the answer. The strong desire for advice wasn't approaching quick enough. I was growing impatient at all the courtesies.
Hello Edward. His mental tone showed no inflection that he knew of Bella's knowledge.
Good; Rosalie kept her trap shut, another surprise on top of the already growing pile of shocking news that I seemed to be attracting. Would this news, this information, prove my malefaction?
Now that I was standing here, ready to concede my guilt to him, I didn't know what to say, speech wouldn't form. How do you tell someone you deeply care for, more than that, your creator…your father that you betrayed their family �C my family �C for a mere human girl?
But to me she wasn't just ahuman girl – she was thehuman girl, the only one that ever truly mattered.
Carlisle read my expression, his thoughts scattering in every direction, dancing in his mind before he settled on being alarmed at my facial expression. My calm fa?ade must have faded.
What is it Edward? What is wrong? Is Bella…his thoughts trailed off, but I knew the direction they were heading.
Luckily, his concern for that subject was unnecessary.
"Carlisle, I…she…" I hesitated, pausing.
I didn't know how to tell my family, those who loved me the most, that I was Judas made flesh. A betrayer.
Carlisle raised an eyebrow at my state of irresolution.
"Edward? Is everything all right?" he asked incredulously, bringing attention to our conversation.
Esme turned at his words, bringing her thoughts and concentration to the open dialog.
Ignoring their stares I continued to sway on the spot, standing there with my mouth halfway open like a gold fish out of water gasping for air. The words failed me.
Would this, of all things, break their faith in me? No one had so absolutely guessed our secret before, learned our truths. If my heart was alive, beating, I swear even a human would be able to hear it. There was only venom in my veins �C the one thing that would inevitably bring Bella to her death.
Death. No, this couldn't be the end. Her knowledge wouldn't condemn her, I refused. Would this be Carlisle's conclusion, just like it had been for the rest of the family? I would fight against them, if this is what they decided.
"Edward?" Esme prodded.
I had to tell them what she knew; no doubt Rosalie will make sure they were aware if I didn't confess this soon. It's better if they hear it from me, but still, the words wouldn't escape my lips. How do you confess a betrayal? It's much more difficult than I thought it would be.
Feeling guilty, Edward? Rosalie sneered mentally. What a surprise! I can't believe you. Once again I had to shove Rosalie's thoughts from my mind. The barrier was harder to put into place when my concentration was being pulled in so many directions.
Besides the aggressively hostile nature of Rosalie, everyone else was silent, the dead air making it evident that everyone was eavesdropping at this ultimate of pivotal moments, surely waiting to hear my betrayal, or ultimately deciding her fate for me. None of them dared to think it. Not now. Not after I had already fought so hard to keep her alive.
I inhaled a generous gulp of air.
Esme's anxious look continued to grow deeper.
What is it? Please tell us, she thought tentatively.
Only a brief second had passed before I finally bowed my head downward as if I were admitting a great shame and delivered the words I was terrified would hurt my family. Judas had nothing on me. I sunk into the nearest chair.
"Bella…well, she…she knows, Carlisle." I had never struggled with words like I did when Bella was involved.
His eyes grew wide, his thoughts in an uproar of intense confusion and concern.
Bella knows? About us? She knows about us? … "Edward, what is going on? Is everything okay? Should I be worried?" Carlisle's thoughts spilled from his mouth like a stream of water, so rapid I didn't have time to respond to one of them.
At the same time I brought my glance to his and he focused on my blameworthy expression. He observed my look and then reassured himself that I hadn't done something foolish. Boy was he wrong.
This all happened in a tenth of a second. My mind still hadn't fully comprehended all his thoughts.
Of course I shouldn't be worried, everything will be fine. Okay. Now, "what exactly does Bella know?" he asked, zealous.
I ignored his enthusiasm at the prospect of Bella knowing our secret. Was it an act? Surely my words would cut deeper in a minute. He hadn't really had time to settle on the thought.
"She knows everything about me!" About us, I amended internally. "She put the pieces together and I just…I couldn't keep lying to her." I figured the truth would be better than lies right now.
Honestly, I'm surprised he didn't tell her himself. Carlisle contemplated mentally. The way she has changed him…I can't describe it. She would be his perfect pairing. Why not change her? he murmured in thought.
Excellent, Esme beamed. Was she excited about this news too? Was this not the huge betrayal I thought it would be?
"She is the best thing that has ever happened to you, Edward." Carlisle cut into my thoughts. "I'm so glad she knows," he whispered softly to me. "It was to be expected. But now, maybe it's time to move to the next step."
My head snapped up.
Esme nodded in agreement.
"Next step?" I shouted. "Move to the next step?"
Was this the conclusion? An immortal life? I couldn't be responsible for such a brutal act. It felt like a brick was sliding down my throat into the pit of my stomach.
"You want me to what…ask her to die?" I shot up like a bottle rocket. "Ask her if she wished to be doomed to go to hell? Are you insane?"
The thought of her burning with the fiery thirst day by day or the first initial three days of begging for death as her veins burned with venom �C my venom �C nearly sent me over the edge.
I was hoping beyond hope that this would not come to some sort of vote like what nearly happened after I saved her from the van. To make her into the appalling creature that I am or bring on her early death…no, there is another option. There has to be.
I looked to Carlisle. If anyone's opinion mattered it would be his. He froze for just a fraction of a second and then sighed heavily. I studied him for a few seconds, apprehension etched into my face, easily reflected in his golden eyes. Also, I could see my face from two viewpoints perfectly. There it was, my pain jerking down the corners of my lips.
"I can't imagine hurting her, bringing her to her death."
"If it's a matter of self control…I can offer my services," Carlisle proposed.
"A vampire, forever frozen at seventeen…forever doomed to our existence." Carlisle flinched at my words. "I just can't…you can't! How can either of you possibly think her knowledge of our existence a good thing when this is the conclusion?" I shouted.
There were a few murmured agreements throughout the house. Jasper was quiet but thought the next step or death should be the only options. But, after Alice's request he seemed to try his best to keep his thoughts to himself.
"Who is to say she couldn't live out her mortal life?" I paused, chagrin obvious in my tone. "I haven't killed her." But I could. So easily.
But you haven't killed her, you even saved her life, I thought to myself, the little devil sitting on my shoulder. Not yet, I amended. The guilt was plainly splayed across my face.
Couldn't Carlisle tell I was scarcely clutching onto my humanity – just barely by my fingertips when I was around the sweet seduction of Bella's blood and her enticing pulse? Each second around her was like crawling through the desert and happening upon water that was poisonous. So seductive.
If being human is what you wish for her and you feel that you can't offer this…then maybe this is the time to leave. Carlisle offered as a choice. He saw me flinch and changed tact. I just don't want you to make a mistake by denying yourself your true mate by keeping her human. He spoke silently to me."If you wish to keep her human, then that is your decision. We will not demand her death, or her transformation." Carlisle added, trying to calm my frenzied nerves. At the same time he was letting everyone in the house know this was his final word. And they are to abide by it. No deaths, no transformations. The end. "You have amazing self control. I believe that you will make the right decision."
Shock. Yes, that was the emotion I was feeling; stunned, surprised, astonished…I looked up and stared at him incredulously.
Even if I did decide to change her, I wouldn't have the strength to stop myself from drinking her dry. Just thinking about the luscious taste on my lips sent a shiver of pleasure down my spine.
How could he possibly believe that this whole situation is a good idea? Dread flowed through my frozen veins as the thought of hurting the delicate flower of a girl, Bella, entered my mind. I tried to expunge the images that Alice had embossed into my brain, for they seemed to be coming to the surface at this conversation.
I wasn't the only one surprised and outraged by his responses to it all, how easily Carlisle just accepted this bit of news like he knew it was going to happen all along.
Rosalie, working on her car, had thrown a wrench down and walked away, muttering choice swear words under her breath. Jasper coughed – something a vampire would never need to do – while breaking part of the chess piece he was holding. He knew of the danger this could possibly cause us all.
Then there were those two thoughts that were unsurprised, actually elated. Alice, for obvious reasons, predicted this future. She loved Bella, human or vampire. Esme, who didn't care if Bella had four fingers and crossed eyes, was smiling at me. Her thoughts were content, pleased at this news, even though a sturdier Bella, in her mind, would be the better choice.
There was only one neutral thought. "Next time we'll use your chess set," Emmett muttered to Jasper. Though, I knew if it came to sides, he would choose Rosalie's.
Before I responded to Carlisle's words Esme's thoughts protruded into my head. I wonder when I can meet her.
I turned and gave Esme a withering look.
"Why are you guys doing this to me?" Derision was obvious in my voice. "If I stay with her…" I needed to leave her alone. She needs to live a mortal life, one that I can not offer her. "I could kill her." My face screwed up in pain at the word kill.
It's been months, Edward. She's still alive. You can do this, I have faith in you, Carlisle thought.
My hands were trembling slightly as fear pulsed through me. Faith, I scoffed. Esme approached me swiftly and embraced me, all fear flooded from my body at her gentle touch.
Carlisle approached me and Esme let go as he placed his hand on my shoulder and thought sympathetically; everything will be all right, son.
It was silent for a minute, as everyone let the news sink in.
"So, what did you tell Bella?" Carlisle asked, intrigued now. Our previous conversation was now in the distant past.
Everything I was doing seemed so human lately. I sank lower into the chair as if it were my only support after being deflated.
"I didn't tell her, Carlisle, she guessed. She guessed everything, even my little talent of reading minds!"
Carlisle's thoughts were incoherent with surprise; his words spiraled together and were muddled so I continued.
"I only filled in the blanks, which were not many. She is much more perceptive than I realized…" My voice trailed off and I slumped even lower into the chair. I had made so many mistakes.
I then remembered what she had told me about her trip to First Beach.
"Then her little friend Jacob Black…"
Before I could get another word out Carlisle already knew exactly what had happen.
Jacob…Black. Oh! "The Quileute's?"
Oh… I see. He chuckled."I never thought it would be their side to break the treaty! Oh, of course, I know it couldn't have been meant like that, surely he doesn't think the stories are true." he shook is head.
This house became silent, not a word or thought formed for several spiraling seconds. When the curtain of silent thoughts became louder then thoughts themselves, I finally looked up to try to interpret Carlisle's face since his mind had become nothing more than a bewildered mental humming. The astonishment on his alabaster face was humorous.
Before I could make my mouth move to ask the question I seemed to be asking more and more lately, what are you thinking, Carlisle began to chuckle at full volume. He was truly taken aback, but this news hadn't bothered him at all. His mind was stunned into silence as flashes of Bella went through – all from that almost tragic day with the van.
I couldn't take the ever-growing silence emanating off the walls.
"What?" I asked with irritation.
Carlisle shot Esme a look.
Go on,Esme thought while nodding to Carlisle to continue, as if he could read her thoughts. He finally spoke.
"How did she react?"
"She said, 'it doesn't matter' what I am," my teeth gritted at the memory, and then my expression softened when I remembered the tears that welled up in her eyes at my reaction. Another mistake.
"She won't tell anyone?" he asked.
"No. I trust her." At my look, he accepted my answer without a doubt.
"Edward, this cannot be a coincidence. There is a real change happening here." Carlisle chuckled once more.
Esme put her arm around Carlisle and a large grin gradually spread across her face. My parents were… happy, excessively, even. I hadn't predicted the conversation going in this direction at all.
I was given the impression that everything was happening very fast. The monster in me began backing into the darkest corners of my mind, gradually dissipating as I was becoming more and more human the more familiar I became with Bella.
What should I do? I know what I should do; it was a matter of what I was going to do.I knew what the answer should be. I need to leave her alone. Even if I can cage the monster for the time, it is not likely I can keep him caged forever. Yes, I have my family for support, but that won't stop me from accidently hurting her. I had to leave, as Carlisle suggested.
I placed my hand over my eyes and slouched even deeper in the chair. If I sunk down any lower I'd fall right off of it.
Then thought of her deep chocolate brown eyes looking at me with tears as I said goodbye made my un-beating heart ache. The memory of her tear stained face flashed across my mind.
Would she cry? If I left, would she even care? She shouldn't. I sighed. She really does embrace danger, or maybe the right word was Entice.
I thought about Alice's vision. I pinched the bridge of my nose at the recollection. The more I thought about it the harder it was for me to imagine being alone with her without breaking or damaging her. Why did Alice put these thoughts in my head? I don't want to hurt Bella, but I don't know how much more I could take!
Being in Bella's presence with the aroma, her warmth…so brave and trusting… not touching her was going to become a problem. Her skin – so soft…electric. I started imaging her warm and cradled comfortably in my arms – lightly touching her face and pulling my hands through her hair. Before I could get too deep into that daydream I had to make a decision and fast.
Regardless of what my decision should be, I was a selfish creature and refused to go. Leaving the girl isn't an option, I decided. She was a danger to herself and she needed me to protect her, I lied effortlessly.
I shook my head as I ultimately determined I was still going to take her to the meadow. I will give her the chance to see me for who I am, I promised myself. Maybe she would finally learn how dangerous I am and run away screaming.
I won't kill her, though. I love her. I tried to convince myself that love was enough. The love I felt for her was so exquisite it was nearly pain because I knew there were only two options left for her now.
No, those won't be her only options. I will make this work. Three options. She could grow old and live out her life, but with me in tow.
Only a few seconds had passed during my reprieve. Carlisle and Esme looked fixedly at me. Their confidence in me was overwhelming. They honestly believed in me, trusted that I wouldn't hurt her. Maybe Judas did have the corner on the betrayal market.
As I saw the conviction in their faces, something deep inside of me settled. I stood up, surveyed their loving faces and the inner workings of my brain and my non-beating heart finally accepted her fate. Option three.
She will live, I'll look after her and she will live, I determined. As long as I was around, no one would ever harm her because I would break them limb from limb if they even attempted, or even if they possibly thought it. Her vampire protector. Forever.
"It seems I can't stay away from her." I grimaced, but deep inside I was glowing.
I don't want him to stay away from her; he's been a different person since she came into his life,Esme thought cheerfully.
Carlisle grinned, his thoughts in sync with Esme.
I sighed, but the sound wasn't as pained as before. It was almost…joyous.
Striding swiftly from the room I realized it was no longer silent in the house. I could hear faint mutterings from Rosalie. Instantly I shoved her constant jeering from my mind.
Deep down, Rosalie's problem with Bella really was pure jealousy. She hated that Bella was human because she wanted to be human. But I thought her warm, trusting humanness was Bella's best quality.
Edward!Alice bellowed from her head while skipping up the stairs towards me.
The cloudy, blurry vision from earlier today was instantly clear. No longer did she see Bella's lifeless form lying in the bracken of the forest floor. My eyes no longer glowed that ominous red.
When she reached me at the top of the stairs she grinned widely while practically jumping on me to wrap her tiny arms around my neck.
"Thank you, Edward!" Alice was jubilant.
I nodded and returned her hug, releasing her quickly because I was on a mission.
Have fun at Bella's. I suppose you won't tell her hi for me, will you?
For the first time since I entered the house this afternoon, my lips twitched up into a smile, completely opposite from my previous grimace. My stomach was doing back flips at the thought of being with her again.
I couldn't stand being away from her any longer.
I dashed through the forest towards her house as if someone was lighting a fire beneath my feet. As I took off I heard faded thoughts from Alice.
I wonder what happened to change the vision? I hope Edward starts letting me hang out with her. Just two more days…She was counting down. Then I saw images of her dressing a blushing Bella up and playing with her hair like she was a doll.
I rolled my eyes, but instantly craved for this to come true.
I was sitting in the rocking chair in Bella's room. Her warm delicious scent was swirling around me and I was sucking it slowly into my lungs with each breath. I was willing myself to stay away from her. A feat much harder than one would realize.
Tonight, she was not sleeping soundly. I watched as she tangled herself into the blankets early on in the evening.
I stood. Realizing I was unable to help her, I sat. The chair was my prison, holding me in my seat. She was the dessert across the table from a kid who had to eat broccoli. The temptation would never go away, yet each second I grew stronger against my will to rush over and hold her. I couldn't allow myself to do something so foolish. It was about her now. What she wants, what she needs. I had to toss my selfishness away as best I could, even though my presence was selfish enough.
She tossed again. I got up once more, my hands reaching out like I could help. My touch was too cold…wrong. I seated myself back into my prison.
I sighed. With the quick intake of air the burning persisted in my dry throat. Each breath brought me pleasure and torture. Mainly torture, though her scent reminded me of how alive she is.
"Edward…" she mumbled in her sleep.
This was not the first time this evening that she murmured my name in her sweet magical voice. Each sound or movement was watched by me as she continued to tangle herself in the sheets.
I couldn't help but worry that she wasn't having a good dream. I was a monster after all.
She woke a few times in the night, startled from her dream �C or nightmare �C but I was stealthy enough to hide. She never caught me but I wondered what she would think if she did. Would she finally scream? Would she shriek at the sight of the peeping tom that I had become? Would she turn her deep gaze towards me and beg me to leave and never come back?Anguish fell over me at the thought. This must be why I continued to hide every time I saw her eyes flutter.
She tossed again, holding her pillow tightly while a small sigh escaped her lips.
Once again my heart leapt at the sound of my name on her breath.
As the night progressed she settled into a deeper sleep, finally calm and unmoving. In the earlier hours of the morning I saw her shudder and watched as goose bumps arose on her skin.
Without thought I was standing, walking over to her, leaning down, hand out stretched before my mind finally caught up with my actions. Indecision was deep in my thoughts.
More fiery thirst.
I wasn't sure if it was the monster or my protective side, but without thinking I reached out to unravel her blanket to cover her. As I slowly moved the blanket over her I accidently touched her arm. Or was it an accident?
It was if a million little electrodes sent pleasant shocks down my spine. I closed me eyes to take in her aroma.
She was soft…warm.
I quickly held my breath but realized that if I were going to stay with her that I had to overcome my thirst, my ever growing desire to crush her to my body and dig my teeth deep into her neck.
My mouth was instantly full of venom. The monster inside of me was clawing at my chest bones, trying to break free of my body and drink the most delicious blood that ever existed. I grabbed at my chest trying to push the monster back in when suddenly I felt something vibrate. It was my phone.
Alice. I swallowed the pool of venom pouring into my mouth.
Leaping out of her window I answered the phone. I opened my mouth to speak but before I could say hello Alice began pleading in her bell voice.
My hand automatically met the bridge of my nose. She was my favorite and the most irritating of my family.
She continued without pause.
"I keep getting flashes of you killing Bella! If you kill her I will be very upset. I haven't even had the opportunity to talk to her," her voice was petulant.
I gritted my teeth and breathed in the light morning air around me. The fresh air cleared my head making the monster retreat. How had I let things get out of hand? Why did I have to put my hand in the cookie jar?
"Alice," I breathed.
"Please, just be careful, Edward! Your future has been changing erratically…I never know what is going to happen with you anymore." I could almost hear her pout.
I sighed because she was right. The easy flow of my future had taken a wild spin and even I couldn't tell her what my plans were from day to day anymore.
"I won't hurt her, Alice," I said with chagrin.
"You better not!" It was a command. "I'll see you soon." She hung up the phone.
I groaned. Was I really that close? I didn't think I was. Looking back up at her window I decided it was okay for me to check on her �C just one more time �C tonight.
Her small chest was moving up and down evenly along with her steady breath. She was still sound asleep. Safe. Her protector kept her free from danger.
But didn't protect her from himself, I growled internally. I was going to have to work on that.
The light of a new day began to peak over the tops of the trees, sending blue tints across the grey clouds that accompanied the sky.
My mind was racing around with what this new day would bring me as I was soaring through the forest at a ferocious velocity back towards home. The questions I would ask her…the responses I would receive. To just dive in and understand her mind, to know what she was thinking.
My thirst instantly became secondary to her knowing mind. My curiosity was aching like a thirst.
Thirst, I thought warily.
I needed to hunt. I needed more blood to help dilute the intense sensations that came over when I was around Bella. I'd do it now, while I was out �C one more time �C just in case it wasn't true after all, that my ravenous desire to have her was second to her.
I closed my eyes, letting my nose take over.
Deer, I groaned. Ugh.
I still raced towards it and quenched my ever burning throat, letting the warm blood soak into my dry and frozen throat. Gluttonous. That is what I had become. If I shook myself you might even hear the blood slosh around in me.
But, there was no blood that would ease this ache…this hollow yearning. I pushed the animal off of me with disgust and realized my need for a shower and fresh clothes.
When I arrived at home I ran into Rosalie in the garage.
Great, I thought. Exactly what I need.
"You know this is going to cause problems, Edward," she hissed my name.
"Not now, Rosalie." I growled back.
"You are so self-centered, haven't you thought about what this will do to our family?" she bit back at me.
Of course I had thought about it. Wasn't it obvious that it was eating at me, every second of every day? It was only earlier that I admitted my betrayal.
She must be bored �C this argument was getting old.
"Rosalie, go jump off a cliff," I snapped back at her, not like that would do much to her; maybe ruffle her hair and clothes – that should piss her off.
I chuckled at my internal thought.
Ignoring her jibes and muttering I continued to walk inside. Everyone else was pointedly ignoring me. It was apparent that they were all acting busy. I saw through the pretense but I was relieved they were leaving me alone.
I was swiftly dressed and back at Bella's before Charlie left, parking my car around the block so it would be out of sight. I raced towards her house, hoping to hear something new today.
Lurking in the shadows outside her house, the feeling of being a stalker came over me again. Was this how I would forever live my life �C being a crazy vampire stalker?
Catching the tail end of their conversation I reprimanded myself for letting Rosalie distract me, taking away a considerable amount of my time. My stalking time, I laughed mirthlessly at myself.
Feeling a little belligerence because I failed to get back before her thoughts were being spoken, I listened with more effort….eavesdropping on their conversation more tentatively.
"I'm not going to the dance, Dad." I heard the stubbornness in Bella's tone as I imagined her vulnerable face creasing with anger. Her kitten anger.
Today seemed to be a mostly silent thought day for Charlie, but the tenor of his mind was still leaking out. Fear raged through him at the possibility that none of the boys liked her at school. What was wrong with his daughter? These thoughts were more pointless than he realized. If only he knew what all the males at school thought about her…
Even worse – what she liked: a vampire.
"Didn't anyone ask you?" Charlie asked, concerned.
"It's a girl's choice." Bella's voice was exultant with smugness.
I could almost hear the triumph in her voice as she realized she won this argument. Once again I imagined her face; her chin jutting out, her lips pursing.
Oh, how light my heart felt every second I was around her.
"Oh." Charlie huffed, disappointed.
His thoughts turned a different direction while he contemplated why she didn't like anyone at school.
She did like someone though…me. My heart leapt, my desires raced, my body ached to hold her. Enough, I ordered. Hadn't I gone too far already today?
The clattering of dishes rang out into the yard before Charlie emerged from the house. I watched as he waved, saying goodbye to Bella. I raced towards my car.
As soon as Charlie drove off I was in the driveway waiting for her, anxious that one day she will walk out of the house, see me waiting for her and then will deny me her company.
It pained me to think like this but I was still not completely sure of her feelings. Her hidden thoughts make things more interesting, I sighed, but they also drive me insane.
Bella came out of the house with a slight skip in her step as she turned around to lock the door, leaving the main dead bolt unlocked. I noticed everything about her, even the inconsequential.
As I watched her carefully, I almost exited the car to give her a hand, worried she might fall at her pace but she slowed when she saw the silver Volvo waiting for her in the drive. I felt a quick sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Well, I should remain in the car; she obviously was considering her options at this point.
More pain, my burning desire feared to be extinguished.
She continued her unhurried pace in my direction. What was she thinking? Did she not want to ride with me today?
She stopped with her hand on the door, wavering. Aggravation flooded me in waves I'd never felt before, not at Bella, but the fact that I didn't know what she was thinking. I tried to probe her mind once again, and reached a solid and impermeable wall.
My light mood quickly faded at my new fear.
Her hand reached out to grab the handle. I exhaled heavily at the relief that now flooded me.
Finally, she decided to ride with me, I hoped, considering she was now opening the door. Her head ducked under the roof of the car and I greeted her with a smile while I waited for her scent to assault me.
She finally sat in the passenger seat and shut the door, sending a hot wave of freesia in my direction.
Daggers, white hot knives…burning. I took in a large breath, closing my eyes.
Her scent did exactly what I expected. The warmth of her body and her pulse emitted the loveliest smell and the scent wrapped around me as it scorched down my throat. I opened my eyes to see the particles of air swirling around me that were now doused with her aroma.
My eyes finally met hers.
"Good Morning," I said after swallowing my thirst. "How are you today?"
How was she? What were her dreams about? Did she miss me? There were countless quantities of things I wanted to inquire about. My questions distracted me from my thirst more than anything else.
I suppressed a sigh.
"Good, thank you," she smiled.
Smiling, that was good. I surveyed her face and could tell she didn't sleep well because she had large circles under her eyes. And I stayed in her room all night as she tossed in her sleep, I added mentally. No need to inform her of my nightly visits, though.
Once again I became frustrated because I couldn't hear her knowing mind. What kept her up at night? What made her toss and turn and say my name? It never appeared like she was having a nightmare, or maybe I was just trying to convince myself of this. What else could possibly be making her so restless if not scary monsters that actually exist?Maybe I was just fooling myself.
"You look tired," I pointed out to continue her talking.
I took in another breath and was instantly intoxicated by her scent. My mouth watered, I was nearly salivating.
No mistakes, I ordered.
"I couldn't sleep." She looked like she was confessing to something and then hid behind her curtain of hair.
Keep it light.
"Neither could I," I teased as I turned the key to start the engine.
She laughed and the sound was harmonious.
"I guess that's right. I suppose I slept just a little bit more than you did."
"I wager you did," I returned her smile; relieved the conversation was going so well.
Another �C deeper �C breath soared down my throat this time and I bit down hard on my cheek. The tantalizing smell was luxurious, painfully pleasurable…a rich profusion, opulent. The elaborate mix of her enticing scent was the only thing I ever wanted to breathe in, though, at the same time I craved the fresh air outside…just to clear my mind. I could literally stick my tongue out and taste her on the air; it was so saturated with her aroma.
Oh, who cares about the pain, she was here with me and that was all I wanted, I told myself.
I took in a few more gulps of air while the monster clawed angrily at my throat. He was so close to the edge that I was using all my concentration now to fight him back.
"So what did you do last night?" she asked, intrigued.
She instantly scared the monster back into the darkness with just the sound of her voice.
She's clever…but not clever enough, it was my turn to ask the questions �C as I had made clear the day before. There were so many questions that were left unanswered and I had to know.
A smile broke across my face and I chuckled.
"Not a chance. It's my day to ask questions," I said enthusiastically.
"Oh, that's right. What do you want to know?" her forehead creased.
What was going on in her mind? She looked worried and I almost reached out to press my finger in between her eyebrows to smooth out the worry lines.
Keep it simple, light.
"What's your favorite color?"
That was simple enough.
She rolled her eyes.
Maybe too simple.
"It changes from day to day," she smiled.
I knew I was going to have to drag everything out of her, no surprise there.
"What's your favorite color today?" I asked gruffly.
"Probably brown," she said, looking down at her brown shirt.
Really? I had to stop myself from snorting and instantly dropped my serious gaze, the pretense no longer needed.
"Brown?" I asked skeptically.
"Sure. Brown is warm. I miss brown. Everything that's supposed to be brown �C tree trunks, rocks, dirt �C is all covered up with squashy green stuff here," she complained.
At her answer, I was able to add another thing to my list: she was self-effacing. She wasn't easily led by other people, choosing her color because of what she liked, not what the populace agreed upon.
Suddenly I remembered her muttering, "It's too green," when she was sleeping one evening and tried not to chuckle aloud.
"You're right," I decided, excitement racing through me at all the thoughts I would unlock today. Even learning this little thing about her made me reel with glee.
Okay, back to business. I was abruptly serious again.
"Brown is warm."
Brown was in fact one of my favorite colors, too. I don't know why it took me so long to become aware of this; her deep brown eyes and long brown hair. I hesitated for an instant, not wanting to spoil the moment, but feelings I had never felt before I met Bella were surfacing.
My hand twitched, wanting to reach over and pull her hair from her face, so I could see the beauty that lied beneath. To just lift her chin slightly, turning it in my direction so I could try to read the deep depths of her eyes… Enough.
It would be wrong for me to do it, to place her warm face in my cold hands. The warmth. If I just slightly raised her chin, I could meet her half way…place my lips to hers.
Enough, I ordered again, but it was too late. My hand was out stretched, reaching towards her as I pulled her hair behind her shoulder, gently. Some of the lose strands spilled over my hand. Enough!
I dropped my hand instantly.
I could feel the warmth coming off of her skin, her fragrance was enveloping, and her hair was soft like silk. My urge to press my cold hard lips to her delicate soft ones had not evaded me.
Stop there, I scolded myself. No more errors. You mustn't be so selfish, I reprimanded.
We pulled into the school parking lot but this didn't mean that my questioning was over…that my desires were gone.
Keep it light, I reminded myself.
"What music is in your CD player right now?" I asked.
She thought for a moment, her eyes un-focusing, looking up.
"Linkin Park." Her eyes met mine again.
Hum, interesting choice. I reached into a compartment under my CD player and after rummaging through the debris I pulled out the same exact CD.
"Debussy to this?" I raised an eyebrow.
She just grinned at me. It was infectious. I returned her smile.
It was time for school to start and we had to part ways. Luckily I could locate her no matter where she was, jumping from mind to mind. I was listing questions to ask her while I waited for the hours away from her to pass. Purgatory had now become a small slice of heaven.
Watching her interact with other humans only added more questions to my ever growing list. I wanted to know everything about her. Was her responses what she was really thinking or was she replying with what they wanted to hear?
My list grew. I made sure to meet up with her in between every class and stroll along side her while she talked; absorbing the information like a snake soaks up the heat from the sun.
During our short walks I was able to unleash some of the questions from my ever growing list. Her every expression, body language, and replies were all-encompassing and intriguing. I was gradually learning each of her little quirks and thoughts.
As I continued to unlock the mystery that was Isabella Swan, I learned something new. She wasn't just good; she was virtuous…above me. I looked at the crowd in the hallway. Above them all.
The day when I could question her nonstop had finally arrived and I was entirely full of a bright glowing light. As each moment passed I was deeply afraid she would realize I was below her, insignificant compared to her greatness.
She still ate with me at lunch, or she ate, I questioned. Sometimes, I got so excited with the information being spilled from her that I began spitting out the questions so fast that she was almost breathless trying to respond to them all. It was hard to control myself.
It was like someone switched on the computer and I was accessing her hard drive, absorbing the knowledge of her mind that she kept locked up nice and secure.
Then, something miraculous happened. Or, by my standards it was miraculous. Because who could possibly like a vampire? During our questioning I asked her what her favorite gemstone was and she blurted out topaz immediately and then her skin turned an appetizing color of red. Automatically, I breathed in a gluttonous amount of air and sighed. Why was she blushing? I begged her to enlighten me as to why she was embarrassed by her answer.
"Tell me," I begged.
"It's the color of your eyes today," she sighed and I watched her look down while the blush on her cheeks became a brilliant red again.
She loved me, too. Like I said �C a miracle. Another thing to add to my list: she was passionate. Joy rushed me; almost flipping me over my seat at the feelings of deep affection that warmed me, almost making me feel human. Almost.
I suddenly thanked whatever force brought her to me.
And then, surprising me even more, she elaborated on her answer.
"I suppose if you ask me in two weeks I'd say onyx." Her face turned even a darker shade of pink. I ignored the thirst, easily wiping it away like a bug on my windshield.
Was she finally opening up? I could feel the spring in my step, the instant craving to bound over the table and bring her into my arms…to kiss her warm lips.
She gave me a face like she was bracing for something.
Was she waiting for the fury that radiated off of me when I realized how engrossed she was with a vampire and the fact that she just didn't care? I'd forever hate myself for my poor reactions in Port Angeles…for making her cry.
When the lunch break was over we walked to Biology class. I wanted to reach out and seize her hand…her warm �C inviting �C hand looked very welcoming to my own. She was next to me but I was feeling detached, like our fingers should forever be interlocked.
Stop it, I thought. No mistakes. And holding her would be a mistake.
We would be continuing the movie in Biology class today which I wasn't thrilled about. Yesterday the electricity in the room was encompassing us. I wasn't sure I would be able to not touch her while she sat so close to me in the dark room where the electricity flowed freely between us. Each little zing practically making me automatically reach out towards her.
We took our seats beside each other and I knew the warm room would soon fill with Bella's scent. The heater turned on and I was waiting to embrace it, to bring it deeper into my lungs so I could revel in the delicious scent, let it intoxicate me. I've never been drunk, but if I had to guess, I'd say her scent made me quite tipsy.
Every moment that passed by when I was with Bella was the most painful and pleasant. Though the fire I felt in my throat didn't dissipate, her aroma was something I continued to embrace. Over time her scent had become less over powering which helped the monster stay securely caged in my chest. Or maybe being around her all the time helped? Had my constant presence in her life helped to make the thirst dissipate? Each moment, the thirst was becoming more manageable with my familiarity with her scent.
The lights dimmed for the movie and I moved my chair a little farther away from hers this time. I saw her eye my movement with sadness, but it was better if I don't entice my senses too much, even though the space didn't matter much to these new feelings I had.
The need to reach out and hold her hand, or maybe put my arm around her was nearly overwhelming.
No mistakes, I fought internally.
She would probably be repulsed by how cold my skin is. She would feel the hardness of my body and maybe then she would realize the monster I am. Would she be terrified then?
No matter how far away I moved from Bella in this warm little room I could sense her and feel the current in the air around us. I watched her as she leaned forward, folding her arms on the desk and resting her chin on them. Not once did I look away from Bella. I watched as she twitched occasionally and wondered what was bothering her.
Did she want to touch me too?
If she did, it would only make it that much more difficult for me to not give her what she wants �C to bring her into my arms and hold her securely to my chest like I did the day I saved her from the van.
Hah! He moved away from her. Mike sneered in our direction. Guess things aren't going so well in Cullen land after all.
This enraged me beyond belief and made it that much more difficult to keep my hands off Bella. I wanted to protect her from his thoughts; I wanted to show him that she was mine. But again, I had to remind myself of what a horrible mistake I was about to make as my arm twitched in her direction.
I folded my arms securely across my chest attempting to keep the monster caged and trying to hold my hands at bay. If I were not a vampire, I would have crushed my own bones from crossing my arms so tightly. I was trying to hold back my other desires, now, as they burned and begged for me to just reach over and grab her up into my arms. The fantasy was beginning to spin wildly out of control.
When the movie was over I saw her sit up. She was gripping the desk so hard that I saw her fingers go from white to pink as the blood rushed back into them. I watched as the blood swirled under her clear skin. I was internally struggling, trying not to caress her, hoping she hadn't hurt herself by her deathly grip on the desk.
The class was dismissed and I stood up and waited for her to get to her feet. I grabbed her books and walked her to gym. What was she thinking now? The questions burning inside me were not the questions I was going to raise today.
Do you love me too? came to mind. I sighed as my curiosity was beginning to burn as hot as the thirst in my throat.
As I was walking with her I was fighting the urge to reach out and hold her hand, again. The urge was becoming unbearable. My thirst was now second to my new desires.
I was walking at her pace hoping I could convince myself that all of my cravings had to take a backseat to Bella's needs. She is so frail and breakable. The internal conflict was becoming regular.
When we finally reached the gym I still hadn't completely made up my mind. I was totally and utterly unsure of my path. When she turned to look at me with her deep communicative eyes any commitment I had crumbled to pieces.
She looked so glorious that my arm was raised, hand out, and caressing her face from her temple down to her jaw without my consent. A deep fervor brought new sensations down my spine. A tingling feeling rushed through my veins, entering my heart, expanding it with just the thought of my affection. As soon as I realized what I was doing I dropped my hand, turned around and staggered away.
Any semblance of my good nature persona was probably crushed at my rude goodbye. Heck, I didn't even say goodbye.
What in the world were you thinking? I thought angrily at myself. She didn't seem to mind though. She might have even leaned a little into my touch, the devilish side of me thought.
Wow, her instincts were backwards. Who would want to be touched by something so cold?
As I was walking I started peeking into peoples' minds in her gym class. After what happened last time in gym class I had to admit I was slightly anxious that she might injure herself again. To imagine her warmth dissipating nearly crippled me.
I wanted to stay out of Mikes mind but he was always paying so much attention to Bella. As much as I hated him, I appreciated him for always paying attention, but loathed him for unlocking some of her secrets before I did.
Reaching class I sat next to Emmett.
I really hate Cullen, he is such a freak. Mike was thinking in irritation. What does she see in him? He's such a tool. Mike thought scathingly while playing badminton. Well, things did seem a little cool between them in Biology.
At his thoughts I almost shot out of my seat in anger. He was mentally picturing fighting with me and winning Bella's affections. Suddenly, the thought of this feeble human trying to fight me was comical and I was trying very hard to suppress laughter.
Emmett stared at me as he watched the many expressions flicker across my face. I ignored him because I was busy watching Bella in gym.
Mike and Bella didn't speak, and I had to admit it was rather delightful to see him sweat over it. I really didn't like the way he thought about her, or the way he fantasized about being with her. I started to imagine all the ways I could torture him. I smiled at the wistful thought but I needed to banish that idea from my mind quickly before that daydream got too out of control.
What is so funny? Emmett was staring at me, smiling.
It was clear he wanted to know what was going on by his raised eyebrow, no mind reading necessary. I knew he was having a hard time with my situation with Bella. It wasn't because he cared, it was because of Rosalie. She was being difficult. If anything, he was having an enjoyable time with the situation minus Rosalie. Emmett was learning to love humans because he thought they were so hilarious.
I grinned at him and whispered too low for human ears to hear.
"Mike is thinking of fighting me," I chuckled low.
Emmett's eyes grew tight as his smile widened. Now he was trying to stifle a laugh. Emmett always loved a fight, but that one would be too easy.
We could just put him in a room with Rosalie. She has been very irritated lately, Emmett couldn't stop from laughing this time.
He pictured Rosalie in a room with Mike. In this image, Mike was pathetically trying to fight off a very powerful and pissed off Rosalie. Mike wouldn't stand a chance. I grinned widely at the thought, another chuckle escaping my lips.
Ms. Goff looked for the culprit of the laughing and passed over us quickly. Just like the other teachers, they all thought us to be perfect students.
Who is interrupting my class? What could possibly be so funny? She thought angrily.
I arrived outside the gym before Bella had exited, practically bouncing on the balls of my feet. My desires started flaring up again when she finally walked through the doors and her eyes met mine. A smile crept up her elegant face. She was happy to see me, too.
I don't deserve her.
I couldn't help but smile back. It was all I could do to not grab her up into my arms and hug her.
No mistakes. Especially after the one I made before her gym class.
Her scent enveloped me, and the monster reared up, but the desire to hold her over powered the monster and he was pushed into the dark again. Just another stupid bug on my windshield. My body was taking charge without my permission when it came to acquiring what I desired most with Bella.
To preoccupy my time I decided to start my questioning again.
I drove her to her house while unlocking the mysteries of her mind the whole all way there. I parked in her driveway while our conversation continued. We were so engrossed in our exchange that Bella didn't seem to notice we had stopped.
After sitting in the car for quite some time I noticed that she never tried to exit. I was bathing in her aroma and letting the hollow yearn in my stomach and the dry dull ache of my throat remind myself of the monster that I am.
I started asking her questions about her past and I became instantly terrified. Did I really want to know what was lurking in her past? Was there another boy? Someone she had to leave behind? Someone who could hold her, embrace her, care for her without having the desire to drink her dry of life? The fear behind this thought nearly crippled me so I decided I would ask her later about previous boys she dated.
Skipping over the subject I asked her why she loved Arizona. She explained it to me in great detail, excited to answer this one. The way she talked about the place was almost like she loved it, just like I loved her. She used her hands to describe things. It was like I unlocked her voice box. Her thoughts were finally being freed from her mind.
When she was done answering I already had another question in mind. I asked her what her room was like and she began telling me about it in detail. Of course I already knew exactly what it looked like; dotted with shoes, tangles of covers on her bed, closet lacking jumbles of clothes, piles of books and an old computer that at first glance you wouldn't think would work. I couldn't help myself. I had to be near her and asking the inconsequential seemed to be the best way. I felt so alone without her around.
When did she become my life? How did she become my life?
"Are you finished?" she asked with relief in her voice when I didn't spit out another query.
Finished? "Not even close �C your father will be home soon." It was more of a reminder for me, not for her.
She looked out the window quickly like she was wondering where the sun went.
"How late is it?" she asked, a little panic in her voice.
She glanced at the clock and surprise crossed her face.
"It's twilight," I answered.
I looked out the windshield and realized another day was over.
"It's the safest time of day for us. The easiest time. But also the saddest, in a way… the end of another day, the return of the night. Darkness is so predictable, don't you think?" I grinned at her, trying to remind myself to keep it light.
"I like the night" she announced. "Without the dark we would never see the stars," she frowned and looked out the window. "Not that you see them here much," she finished sarcastically.
Her tone caught me off guard and I laughed.
Crap, her father. I heard Charlie a few streets away.
"Charlie will be here in a few minutes. So, unless you want to tell him you will be with me Saturday…" I raised an eyebrow teasingly.
I wanted her to tell him because it would give me a reason to bring her back. It would keep my new desires in check…my thirst, my ever growing need to kidnap her and never bring her home again.
"Thanks but no thanks," she replied airily. There she went again, embracing danger.
She began gathering her books, looking a little uncomfortable. Did I say something wrong? Was it the look on my face?She turned and looked at me.
"So, is it my turn tomorrow, then?" she asked.
She still wanted to see me tomorrow! I rejoiced.
"Certainly not!" I said in mock rage.
It felt so good to be light and teasing around her. She made my skin sing.
"What more is there?" she said, perplexed.
There was everything more. I wanted to know everything about this girl, every detail of her life.
"You'll find out tomorrow." I teased.
I reached across her �C before thinking about it �C to open her door. Her warmth washed over me and it took every bit of my brain to concentrate on not leaning over and letting my desires take control. I heard her heart start to beat rapidly. It skipped a few beats and I felt her breath on me. I ached…I yearned for her.
How much could I take before I did something I regretted?
A thought startled me back into reality.
I hope Charlie is home. I'm ready to watch the game. It sure has been a while since I've seen him, hope he's not still mad at me.
I froze with my hand on the door handle.
"Not good," I muttered.
I clenched my teeth together; it was Billy Black.
"What is it?" She stared at me trying to read my face.
Well, I knew I was going to have to let her out of the car eventually, but not while the Blacks were here. I wanted to take her and run. What other kind of stories could they fill her mind with?
"Another complication." I said glumly.
I grabbed the door handle and pushed it open. The air outside blew swiftly into the car and brought her scent with it. I was instantly ravenous and moved quickly away from her, trying to shove the monster back in my chest with the movement.
Stay Bella I wanted to beg but she really did need to just leave me alone. I knew I wouldn't let her leave me alone though, not after discovering that she was the most astounding creature I had ever known. I suppressed a sigh as the Blacks headlights flashed across her gorgeous face.
"Charlie's around the corner," I warned her.
She got out at once. Sheets of rain were pelting down on my windshield. Odd, I didn't notice it was raining until she opened the door. I could see her squinting through it towards the Black's car. She must not know who it is. I stared right through the headlights seeing very clearly. I could hear Jacob Blacks thoughts now and he was irritating me immediately.
Oh, it's Bella! I wonder if there is something wrong with her truck. I should take a look at it, maybe make something up that would take me a long time to fix so I could spend more time with her. Man, she is so pretty. I wonder what she thinks of me…Who is that? He stared in my direction but he didn't recognize me.
I had to get out of there. I squealed my tires and drove away more quickly than necessary. As I drove away I was struggling with myself about spying on her some more. Would the Blacks convince her to stay away from me? I was not oblivious to Billy's thoughts, I had heard his opinion many times in the past and he loathed me.
But Bella was still alive, and she was still with me. She said it didn't matter to her that I was a vampire. I wonder what it will finally be, the thing that scares her away, I pondered. The thoughts of leaving her alone started to become fewer and farther between.
What was her fate now? I was still worried about our trip to the meadow. I remembered Alice's vision before my resolve but they are so skewed that they could change the instant I decide to take a bite.
Would I kill her? Would I take her into my arms, press my lips to her neck and sink my teeth into her, making her an immortal? I couldn't even imagine being able to stop.
Would I ask Carlisle?
No, she didn't deserve my fate. I would never take her soul.