Blood. Bottles and bottles or thick, red blood. I could sense him watching me out of the corner of his eye, gauging my reaction to the hideous sight before me. It wasn't the blood that was the part that was horrifying me- it was the wonder at how they had put it in the bottle in the first place. The girls around me leaned forward in their seats, watching Esme roll the table towards him.
"Master, which would you prefer tonight," Esme asked. I looked closer at the bottles as saw that they each had paper labels around their necks with what I recognised as writing on them.
"I think in honour of Bella, I'll take this bottle," Edward reached into the middle of the bottles and plucked out a rather thin but tall one. The blood sloshed around inside of it, my stomach copied the motion it was going in. Esme simply nodded her head and looked at me.
"Dinner will be served shortly," she spoke softly to me and quietly departed the room. Edward stood and poured a glass for himself and then made his way around the table to fill the glass of the vampires around me. As he did this he spoke.
"As you may know Bella, this is not the usual way that we feed; we prefer a more… fresh approach. But since this was your first night, it's a special occasion and so it called for a more refined way to having our usual sustenance." My stomach rolled but as he looked up I gave him a queasy smile.
"And so with this, I'd like to make a small toast: To Bella!" he simply said and raised his glass. The girls followed. The humans and I lifted the glasses of bubbly wine that had already been provided as well. I looked towards them but they all smiled as if they were used to this sight and looked back at me with ease. Edward sat back down and took my hand.
"I really do hope that you're happy here." He raised the glass to his lips and the girls took it as a lead to drink too. Kate and the other blonde girls next to her drained their glasses quickly but the others took their time and treated as if it was a normal drink. Esme tottered in with the food for us. It was a rare piece of piece of meat. It made my stomach churn even more but I forced myself to have a bite.
To deflect the attention away from me Alice started up a conversation and quickly everyone was joining in. I placed my fork and knife on the plate; I couldn't stomach another bite. I looked up to see Kate watching me curiously but she quickly turned her head away before I could anything else on her face.
"Tell about your home Bella," Edward's voice coaxed me back to him.
"Um, I had a mother and a father and two sisters. We lived on a dairy farm." I almost whispered. The pain of talking about my family made my voice go dry.
"Ah yes, so you must be Charlie Swans daughter?" he asked, but it made my blood chill and my body tense.
"Yes that's right" I looked down at my hands. How did he know that about me? Did he know me from the hunts he had done in my town? Did he research me when I came here? Did he already know who I was?
"I must admit that your father really does make the finest cheese, or so I'm told," he smirked. He wouldn't eat it himself; it must have been what he gave to us that weren't turned yet.
"Yes he does." I simply stated.
"He also has some wonderful genes to make a daughter as beautiful as you." I blushed at his words and looked back up at him as he quickly switched the conversation. His eyes smouldered and I couldn't help but gaze at them back. I was snapped out of the trance by the high pitched giggle that came from someone down the table. I cleared my throat to speak.
"Jessica, my older sister is the prettiest, that's what the people say. She is set to marry the mayor's son, Mike Newton." I told him. He looked intrigued.
"I am surprised about that. Surely your beauty captured this Newton's fancy?" he raised his eyebrow and took another sip of his drink. I tried not the watching the blood slosh in the glass as he brought it back down.
"No, he and my sister started courting when she came of age and he asked for her hand a month ago."
"If he was to be her betrothed then surely he could provide for your family and you wouldn't have had to come here? And with your fathers farm running well then money should not have been a problem." I froze trying to think of a way to get myself out of the scenario he had created. I had told him too much and now I had to lie. If he knew the truth, it would make me an embarrassment and a laughing stock in front of these girls.
"The cows aren't making enough milk for us to make enough money and with the extra… feedings from our village my father has been asked to lead the neighbourhood watch to help defend the village and so can't work at much. And my sisters dowry took a hit to the families earnings." He nodded his head like he understood and I let out a small breath. But something looked to be troubling him.
"What is it?" I asked nervously.
"These extra attacks on your village, when have these happened?" he called what I called feedings the real name for them which left me puzzled. Surely he must know about them, he's the one doing them and so shouldn't see them as attacks?
"Two nights ago five people went missing and were found dead in the woods near the children's school. Before that, three nights previous, two people went missing and were found at the steps of the church. All of them were drained of blood." He rubbed his face in confusion.
"These were not done by us. It looks like we have company on our feeding grounds." The table grew silent as they heard the end of his sentence.
"What do you mean company?" the blonde opposite Alice spoke quietly.
"Bella has just informed me that more attacks have been happening in the village that she used to preside in. Now, none of you girls would have anything to do with this would you?" he looked sternly down the table.
"You know the rules; we feed when I say we do. We don't do anymore because we don't want an uprising on our hands. We have lived far too long in understanding with the humans and I will not stand any of you messing that up. So come forward now if you know something. And you know that you cannot hide anything from me. I realise that hunger can sometimes be uncontrollable but we cannot let this happen." None of the girls said a word and instead looked down at the table in submission.
"Fine if that is the way it is to be then I will find out for myself. And if I find out that any of you have something to do with it, you will be dealt with." He picked up and drained his glass before flouncing out of the room. I sat there shocked that our dinner had come to such an abrupt end. Slowly the girls turned to look at me.
"What happened, Isabella?" one of Kate's friends asked me.
"I-I don't know," stammered. My eyes flew back to the door, expecting him to come back but he didn't.
"Be quiet Irina," snapped the girl that sat next to me.
"Don't you dare talk to me like that," Irina almost shrieked which made me jump. All manners of standing up for myself were lost, now that it seemed that I has spoiled the night by angering him.
"Ladies!" Alice said calmly, "I suggest that it has been more than enough excitement for one day, poor Bella looks ready to drop." I hadn't realised that I must be looking tired.
"Just because you're his little pet doesn't mean you can tell us what to do Alice. Maybe Bella wants to stay and play; we haven't even started the fun yet." Kate purred and I could feel my blood drain from my face.
"Enough Kate, leave her alone," The blonde next to Kate said. I looked at her and she had a small smile on her face. "We can have fun with her later." She smirked and stood to leave. All the other started to walk out except for Alice and her friend who waited till I joined them. As we walked out into the hallway his voiced boomed from his study.
"Tanya, come in here I would like to speak to you." All the girls paused and watched as Tanya calmly undid the lace at the top of her bust. Her breasts become more prominent and she sauntered into the room and shut the door behind her. Kate rolled her eyes and whispered something under her breath before she started to climb the stairs. I was frozen watching the door to the study and Alice had to nudge me.
"Is everything ok, Bella?" she asked worriedly looking between me and the door.
"What…What are they doing in there?" I asked. Alice's friend rolled her eyes.
"You can't be that naïve Bella," She started up the stairs and me and Alice brought up the rear of the group. I looked at Alice in the hope of an explanation.
"They're lovers Bella, most of the girls are," She tugged me so that I started walking up the stairs.
"But I thought that vampires mated for life, that's what confuses me, why does he need so much…company?"
"Well it is true that we mate for life as a breed but that doesn't mean that we can't have fun while we're at it." She winked at me like it was all some joke. But I hadn't come to get used to this idea yet, even though this is the lifestyle that I had handed myself over to.
"So he's never had a mate?"
"No. he had someone, when he was human…" Alice suddenly caught herself like she had said too much. "That's a story for the master to tell you." We had reached the top of the stairs and the other girl was waiting for us. Alice continued walking to her room as she held me back with her hand. She waited until everyone had left until she talked.
"I haven't introduced myself, my name is Rosalie," she gave me small smile. I continued to look at her as she seemed like she wanted to say more.
"Look Bella, this is not a lifestyle that anyone would choose to come into willingly, which is why I don't believe your story. I'm not asking you to tell me, I wouldn't expect you to tell me. But I will offer you some advice. Don't keeps secrets in this house, because the girls will use anything against you, and trust me the consequences are too great." A pained look struck across her face. Before I could ask what she meant, she walked towards the middle of the corridor and walked into her room. I turned in the opposite direction and headed to my room.
I opened my door and froze and the figures sat on my bed.
"Come in Bella, we have a lot to talk about.