A/N: I would just like to let all of my readers know that this story GENTLE TOUCHES is the very same as author ANIMAL8. As I adopted it from her earlier on this year, most of the chapters that ANIMAL8 had already created are being posted the same as I do not want to ruin the amazing work she has worked so hard on. I will be setting up a link to ANIMAL8 page so it will be accessible to new and old readers. I do hope that I can do this story as much justice as ANIMAL8 and I do hope that you enjoy the old and new chapters of GENTLE TOUCHES.
Disclaimer: I Own Nothing Twilight
Chapter 1 – Little Girl Lost (EPOV)
The blood ran hot down my throat, the sweet substance not completely satiating the burning of the flesh there, but quenching it to bearable levels. Slowly, as the creature became lifeless, the flow of life fluid stemmed and came to a stop.
I sighed and released the now still and stiff carcass of the deer, turning to find my brothers waiting in the shadows of the nearby trees.
"Are you finished?" Jasper asked; one eyebrow rose in question. I nodded and prepared to run with them back to the house.
Normally, we would avoid any frequented human campsites, but something seemed to be drawing me away from the others, begging me to investigate. I came to a stop and sniffed tentatively at the air.
Emmett ran back to my side, eyeing me cautiously. Dude, what's up? He thought to me. I responded with a shrug, distracted as the breeze changed direction, carrying a recent scent of…something.
"What is that?" Emmett frowned, tensing slightly.
"I don't know," I murmured back to him as I bolted towards the source, keeping the scent in my nose at all times. Edward, what's going on? Jasper was demanding as he followed me some way behind.
An old, abandoned cabin lay ahead. The wood was clearly rotting and the roof of the shelter had partially collapsed. My feet stilled as I took in the detail and waited for my brothers to catch up.
Jasper was the first to reach my side, tense and alert, scanning the area with both eyes and nose. "The scent must be coming from inside," he noted. I nodded, but made no move to approach.
"So, what are we doing standing here?" Emmett asked, his thoughts showing his eagerness to investigate whatever this was. He led the way over to the cabin, me and Jasper following after exchanging a shrug.
Inside, the state of the cabin was no better. The floors were filthy and the place smelled strongly of damp and mildew; not ideal conditions for anyone to be living in. "Whoa, this place is a mess," Emmett stated bluntly.
"Nicely observed, Emmett," Jasper said dryly. He was heading to one of the doors and started poking around in the room there, Emmett and I mimicked his actions with the other doors. "What brought you here, Edward?" Jasper asked, "This place is empty".
"I'm not so sure about that," Emmett whispered before I could have a chance to answer his question. We both looked over to him and he waved his arm as if sensing our hesitation.
He stepped out of the doorway to allow us to peer in and we simultaneously let out a breath at what we saw. Curled into the far corner of the room, on her side with her arms and legs bundled together tightly, eyes shut, was a young girl. I couldn't guess her age because of the state she was in, but I would say she was no older than seventeen or eighteen.
She was obviously in a poor way, from here with my enhanced eyesight I could see her ribs standing out despite the loose clothing that hung to her frame and she looked very weak. "What do we do with her?" Emmett asked in a whisper.
"We can't leave her here," I said firmly, not moving my gaze from the innocent, helpless form that was now shuddering further into the corner.
Neither of them argued, but Jasper added, "What do we do then?"
I knew she needed help and that we should probably take her to the hospital, but I didn't feel that was the right thing to do; to just take her away only to dump her in some other foreign place. "We take her to Carlisle," I said decisively.
"You'll have to carry her," Jasper said, thinking about the risk of having her blood so close to them, knowing I had the best restraint. "Careful though, she's very afraid, I think she's aware that we're here".
I took note of his warning, also seeing that despite what she knew she had made no move to get away from us. Cautiously, I took a step forward. When the girl didn't react I moved again until I was crouched next to her. This movement, however, caused her to cringe away and her trembling increased as she tried to force herself deeper into the corner, though she still refused to open her eyes.
Long dark brown hair, only slightly dirty, partially hid her features so I couldn't get a clear look at her. I reached my hand out to lightly brush it back from her face, she jerked away from the contact and I gasped in surprise at how beautiful she was, despite how hollow her face looked.
As if it had a mind of its own, my hand reached out to her again and softly brushed against her cheek. She pulled away again, emitting a sharp growl which startled all of us. "She's wild, that one," Emmett chuckled, amused at the girl's behaviour.
I twisted to glare at him and when I turned back to the girl, I was shocked to find that she was staring back at me warily, her deep brown eyes conveying her emotions of fear and caution and a small crease forming between her brows. "It's okay," I soothed quietly; "We don't want to hurt you". When I tried to take her forearm she pulled it away, tucking it out of reach behind her legs and glared at me.
I stretched my hand out again and placed it gently on her upper arm this time. She flinched and whimpered, her eyes boring into mine pleadingly. I wished I knew what she wanted, but at the same time I was determined to try and help her.
Slowly, I edged closer to her, keeping my hand steady on her, her growling came again, more frantically than last time and at the same time more desperate. I gathered that she really didn't want me anywhere near her, but she was too weak to do anything about it.
When I was practically hovering over her I extended my other arm and gently slid it under her slender form so I could pull her into my arms. She tensed visibly at this new contact and I waited for her to relax before picking her up carefully.
She let out a whimpering growl at the change in position and started to squirm, trying to find a weakness in my grip where there was none. Her thrashing didn't last long until she collapsed exhausted in my arms.
I stayed still, watching her, but her eyes were clenched shut once more and her whole body held tense. Holding her, I could feel how light she was and I worried about how underfed she had been. Leaving her weight in my elbows, I lifted my hand to tenderly touch one of her fisted hands, moving to her cheek when she snatched that away from me.
"I'm not going to hurt you," I whispered to her, unknowing if she could even understand what I was telling her, just needing to try something to pass across that message. She hesitantly opened her eyes and stared up at me with a piercing, yet still fearful expression, holding my gaze as if she was searching for something.
She must have found it because with a soft sigh she closed her eyes and turned her head marginally into me. I took this for consent or at the least her relenting, and carried her smoothly out of the dilapidated cabin. The light must have startled her as we walked into the daylight because she jerked violently in my arms again and I had to tighten my hold so as not to drop her.
"Dude, how long was she in there?" Emmett wondered aloud at her reaction.
It was a good question, one that I would have considered had I not been too preoccupied by the angel in my arms. "Her smell hadn't fully permeated the place, so I don't think she could have been there long," Jasper broke through my musing, "A few days at most".
"She's in a lot worse condition than spending a few days out here," Emmett stupidly pointed out.
Jasper rolled his eyes. "I said she's only been here a few days," he stressed, "God knows where she was before that".
A strangled noise from the bundle I held alerted Jasper to her growing distress. We should move, I don't know how much longer it will be safe to keep her like that, Jasper thought, seeing her trying to wriggle away again.
I nodded and started running back having to use vampire speed if we hoped to get back before sun down. We weren't using full speed, but she still yelped as we dashed into the woods. I grimaced at the sound and then had to wonder how she knew we were moving like that when she hadn't opened her eyes again.
Careful, Edward, she's not going to like the sight of the house, Alice thought to me as soon as I came into range of her. Sure enough when we slowed in front of the house, the angel opened her eyes and immediately balked at the sight of the white building in front of us.
My fingers brushed her cheek as I murmured quietly, "Its okay, this is my home; we're going to look after you". I don't know if she knew what I meant but she stopped struggling though she was tenser than ever.
Inside the house, I heard Carlisle waiting for us, having been alerted by Alice, and Rosalie, who was seething at me in her mind, waiting with Esme and Alice elsewhere in the house.
"Edward," Carlisle greeted me when I entered and he approached slowly, unthreateningly. His efforts were wasted though for the girl was no more comfortable with him than she was with me, flinching away from his touch and hissing quietly when he made a grab for her wrist.
Follow me up to the medical room, he thought. The medical room was something Carlisle had decided to have set up in case there were any incidents with humans; he liked to take his work home with him. In this case, it was probably very useful to actually have it.
The angel had started shivering heavily during this trip. It was making it difficult for me to be the one to inflict this on her, when she was clearly in no state to be capable of dealing with it. "Just put her here," Carlisle said softly, indicating the hospital bed he had acquired.
As soon as she was out of my arms, she curled herself into as tight a ball as she could get and she was trembling frantically, hiding her face with her eyes closed. It was a pitiful sight, really, to see this vulnerable girl reduced to this. I used my hand to comfortingly stroke her exposed cheek and she flinched at the initial contact but otherwise remained still. I was pleased to see that some of her shaking subsided.
Carlisle was already making notes on her behaviour and watching me interact with her. "Has she spoken at all?" he asked. I shook my head, no. "I'm going to need to look at her. Do you think you could hold her still?"
My father gently held her shoulder with one hand, to which she cringed away from, her shivering increasing, and used his other to turn her onto her back. She struggled when she realised what he was doing, arching her back up against him and I came to help him by holding down her shoulders. Her eyes screamed her betrayal when she looked at me and I winced at it.
He began to give a cursory examination and I was relieved to see in his mind that there were only a few minor lacerations and some older bruising. That relief swiftly morphed into horror when I saw him spot her injured wrists, the long sleeves that had covered them were now pulled up. At first I thought that explained her reluctance to let anyone touch them, but then I saw what had caused them.
She's been bound, Carlisle thought in horror and disgust. The angel's writhing had been reduced into her lying still, breathing rapid, ragged breaths and staring blankly at the ceiling. It concerned me how quickly she had given up her fight; further evidence of her poor physical state.
She surprised me again, though, when my father lifted her arm to inspect the damage and she suddenly exploded into ferocious thrashing. "Shh," I hushed, "Shh, Angel, you're okay; we're not here to hurt you". Carlisle had kept hold of her arm and she wouldn't settle at my soothing.
"I need to bandage these, Edward," he said, "Can you keep her as still as you can while I do it?" I hesitated, looking down at her tortured face, her eyes screwed shut as she twisted and turned. "I know it hurts, son, but it needs to be done, sooner rather than later".
I nodded haltingly, letting go of her shoulders. He left to get the supplies ready and the instant he released her, she recoiled her hand and rolled on her side to return to her ball around her arms, trembling like an avalanche.
Feeling awful for what would be a trauma to her, I trailed my fingertips down her spine, tracing the ridges that were visible there. She flinched, but I expected that and didn't halt my actions. There were tears in her eyes when she opened them to stare at me helplessly and her shaking hadn't eased any by the time Carlisle returned.
She looked up when he drew near but immediately curled tighter, turning her face away into the pillow beneath her. I had a feeling that grabbing her wrist like that crossed some line with her, because she didn't do this to me and I had heeded her warnings about her arms and had carefully avoided coming into contact with them once I got the hint.
"She really doesn't like her wrists being touched," I warned him.
He nodded sadly and met my eye. I have a feeling it's because of her always being restrained, he thought, she would always associate the two actions of taking her arms and being bound. I sighed harshly and the noise made her jump again, her trembling faltering.
"It's okay," I whispered again, repeating the same thing I had been telling her. My fingers came over her shoulders causing her to shudder, and I lightly dragged the backs of them across her cheek.
Edward. I raised my head to look at him and nodded when I saw he was prepared. "I'm sorry, Angel," I murmured. Her eyes flashed with alarm as I took careful hold of her, manoeuvring her back onto her back. She growled harshly as Carlisle reached for her arm, but she wasn't strong enough to prevent him, even if she had had her full strength.
It was worse when he started applying ointment onto the sensitive skin, making her yelp and twitch which, upon her finding her movement restricted, ended up with her having her head half buried in the pillow and whimpering softly. He wrapped it tightly afterwards with a clean white bandage and relinquished his hold.
This was repeated with her other side and after she was so drained that she simply lay there limply, while he inspected her feet that I had failed to previously notice were actually bare. Some sores were present there, which he treated by dabbing with some antiseptic, but left them uncovered.
"Put her in your bedroom, Edward," Alice spoke quietly through the door, "She'll be more comfortable there".
"Come on, Angel," I said softly. She barely flinched when I scooped her up, but I saw her open her eyes to give me a distrustful look that was bled with her exhaustion. My heart clenched at the sight.
Her eyes had closed again by the time we reached my room and she was still trembling softly. I lay her gently on the bed, having drawn back the covers, and she curled into herself again as I pulled the comforter up to cover her with.
I sat down next to her, perched on the side of the bed. She jumped as it dipped beneath her and started growling again when I tried to reach out to her. Her eyes were open again and she was plainly glaring at me.
My heart ached as I came to the conclusion that whatever trust I had gained with her was now lost despite the limited time I had known her. She understandingly wouldn't trust me after I had, in her mind, betrayed her like that even though I was only trying to help.
"Leave her alone for tonight, Edward," Alice called softly from the doorway again. I wanted to refuse so I could stay with this fragile girl but she was insistent. "She won't sleep with you in there," she argued.
I sighed. It wasn't surprising that she didn't trust me so much anymore; in her mind, I had restrained her against her will and allowed pain to be inflicted upon her. I doubted that she understood that we had just been trying to help her.
Silently, I got up and walked to the door, glancing back one last time to see her closely following my every move. I slipped out and quietly closed the door behind me. Alice was standing there smiling at me sympathetically.
"She'll understand, Edward, just leave her alone for now," she said, "You can see her tomorrow, when she's calmed down some. You can regain her trust".
Despite her assurances, I couldn't help but remember the girl's hate filled looks as I had held her down and her pained, strangled whimpering. I let out another sigh and walked after my sister as she went downstairs.
It will be fine, brother. She soothed. You'll still have a chance to earn her trust, but you need to be patient. It has to be at her pace.
A/N: I make no promises as to when I post new chapters…but I will do my best to make them as closed together as possible. Please remember to review as more reviews will get a faster posting of the next chapter.