A/N: Disclaimer: All rights to Twilight belong to SM. Your comments, reviews, and or questions are always welcome.
May 11, 2013, Saturday
Being used as a psychotic vampire's chew toy isn't as fun as the supernatural romance novels out there claim it is, mainly because where there is one rabid monster there is another waiting in the wings to finish the job. I didn't even make it out of the hospital in Phoenix before Victoria showed up and tried to make a midnight snack out of my throat.
That was a mess. It was a suicide mission and she knew it. The Cullens never left the hospital. There was always two of them hanging around either in my room, out in the hall, or down in the waiting area when it came time for me to be examined or during potty time for Bella. As is my luck, her attack coincided during the latter. What exactly are you supposed to do when you're sitting on the toilet in one of those lame hospital frocks with your panties around your ankles? There wasn't anywhere to run. I couldn't scream, because if I did then nurses or orderlies would become collateral damage.
I think I confused her with my mild panic attack at first and then quiet acceptance after. I was tired, tripped out on painkillers, and frankly the idea of checking out was appealing. Morphine makes you do some really freaky things to your mind; I highly recommend you avoid it if at all possible.
At least she let me put on a robe before leaping from the third story window with me in tow. Edward and Emmett were close behind, but not really close enough. Victoria's knew she could have her life or her revenge, but not both. Guess which one won out?
That was ten years ago – well, ten and a couple of months.
These days I was living in Seattle for the most part. I still looked like a teenager even though technically I was twenty-six. Victoria's venom filled me out a little, fluffed up my previously dark and stringy hair, and aged me about a year if I'm being generous. What I'm trying to say is that I looked healthy for the first time in a handful of years, which is saying something since my heart stopped beating so long ago.
A few months spent with the Cullens brought nothing but heartache. Charlie was shot in the line of duty by a meth addict. Jacob and the rest of the Quileutes banished me from the reservation. I later came to find out they were a bunch of wolves. I don't know why I was surprised; vampires existed, why not werewolves? Edward and I were never the same. There was too much pain involved in our relationship; especially since it turns out we were never mates. That was a depressing conversation.
Alice took Charlie's insurance money left over from after all the bills were paid and turned it into a tidy sum. She still tinkers with it to this day. One moment I'm worth about a half-million dollars and the next there's five point three million in my portfolio. By the fifth anniversary of being bitten by Victoria I was worth a little over seventeen million. Today it's edging on twenty-three because of my writing. Alice called it her penance for encouraging Edward and me; I called it guilt money, and it's not like she had to work really hard to accomplish it anyway; see vision of lucrative IPO, invest, reap rewards, sell stock, and deposit it in my account. The whole process probably took an hour of actual work at human speed.
I tried the vegetarian way; I really did, but I couldn't do it. The taste was simply horrible. It's difficult to eat when you're constantly gagging and wasting half your meal from stomach convulsions. Carlisle eventually found a compromise. Once every three months I had a delivery of bagged blood, the aged stuff that hospitals and donation centers can't hold onto anymore because of Federal regulations. Who would have thought that so much blood was going to waste? Old blood or new made no difference in the taste, just as long as it was human. I thought it tasted even better cold. Maybe it's because I used to love a good iced Frappuccino. Needless to say, my eyes are crimson colored.
The Cullens stay in contact, mostly. At least once a month I receive a call from Esme. She's still the sweet person she was before, and quite annoyed that I don't live with them. She's come out of her Mom of the Year shell with me over the phone since I'm not constantly around. About once every couple of months she pops up and we make a day of it. I get to hear about how Edward is somewhere in South America, sulking – still. About how Alice really misses me, but understands why I left. And I also hear about how Carlisle never lets Esme out of the missionary position in bed.
Seriously? Do I really need to know this about the guy I once considered a potential father-in-law?
If I didn't know any better I think she's going through some sort of vampire mid-life crisis. She wants more out of life than to be Carlisle's trophy wife. She wants excitement, adventure, a really long weekend of nothing but sexual debauchery doing things she's never done before – and then doing them all over again just to make sure which ones she wants to make note of with future lovers.
Color me freaked out when I realized Esme and Carlisle weren't actual mates. It felt exactly like the time when I was four years old and caught Renée banging Santa Clause in the living room and watching her tell him that she's been a really naughty girl this year. I was traumatized for four years straight. Every time I saw the Salvation Army Santa ringing his bell in front of Wal-Mart, I broke down in tears, because I didn't want to be a naughty girl and have Santa do that to me in the living room.
Needless to say, the day care teachers and school counselors didn't know what to think of me at the time.
I seriously digress.
Anyway, Alice only interacts with me through my bank account. Jasper… well, he's with Alice, 'nuff said there. Carlisle calls to invite me to Christmas (shudder) and New Year celebrations, but I always beg off for one reason or another. Rose keeps Emmett under wraps and well away from me, because apparently I'm a bad influence.
Hot tubs are excellent tools to use when bringing up the temperature of vampire bodies. Contrary to popular belief, our skin is not made of granite; it's just so dense that it feels that way to humans. Color me all kinds of embarrassed when as a human I weighed a nice healthy hundred and thirty pounds, and when I wake the day after my lava bath I weigh over two hundred. Seriously, it's dense. The point I'm trying to make is that it warms up easily enough and stays that way for good number of hours if I'm not sitting right under the air conditioner vent or standing outside in cold weather. That's why spending time in bed with someone special – or not so special, as the case may be – isn't that big of a deal.
"God," Katie Marshall said as she was still out of breath after our last round with me in control of the situation. "You're like this relentless sexual machine."
Oh yeah, I'm gay now – well, bisexual really, but I don't practice on the other side of the fence anymore. Needless to say Edward is really sulking about that one. Emmett reminds him constantly, according to Esme, that he was that awful of a boyfriend, so bad that he turned me gay. He really wasn't. Fate just hates me with a searing passion. Case in point: Katie Marshall.
You may remember her as one of the many faceless students of Forks High School. Envy ran through her veins like venom through mine. She hated the idea I moved to Forks, but it wasn't because I attracted all the boys in school. It was because she was also attracted to me, and I wasn't a flaming lesbian back then, plus she was still in the closet, so she couldn't do anything about the situation. Fast forward, nine years later and a casual crossing of paths at the local Starbucks, where I purchased a daily coffee to keep my hands warm, and so I can appear like I'm doing human things.
She compliments my supposed colored contacts and whatever I've done to my hair to make it bounce and shine so well. The next thing I know she's actually acting like a normal person and not a faceless drone. Well, that and I can smell her arousal like it's right in front of my face.
Katie has really full lips and a firm nose, not to mention she had that little piece of skin underneath her tongue clipped and an added tongue piercing as well. These things are important to me seeing as that's mainly how I get any sort of satisfaction anymore. Her breasts have grown considerably since high school which tells me someone's been under the knife.
Things led to things and we've been dating here and there for the last eight months. It's nothing serious, at least on my side. We met up once or twice a week and satiate each other's hunger for a few hours. The thing is Katie is starting to get clingy and there is simply no way I'm bringing her over to my life. She's too… submissive, I guess.
You're probably laughing right now. Me, Bella Swan, complaining because the person I'm dating is too much of a pushover. I think I wrote the book on being submissive to Edward. Things have changed, obviously. Something about being a vampire automatically makes you more aggressive. That's probably why I'm not the way I was when I was meek little Bella who bit her bottom lip and blushed cutely when someone made a sexual reference.
"Have you thought anymore on what I said on Saturday?" Katie asked as she snuggled up and whispered to me.
Her warm breath tickled right behind my ear. It was a highly erogenous place for me and she knew it, but that was Katie. Using sex to get what she wants.
I tightened my arm around her waist and squeezed her hip slightly. "You know I'm not into committed relationships. They never last."
She was prepared for that. I could tell, because she didn't even flinch like she normally does when I give her bad news.
"I'm not saying we have to get married or anything. I could just move in and take care of you."
That announcement made me snap my eyes open. "I'm sorry, what?"
She tweaked my nipple and swiped her tongue along the shell of my ear. "I'll take care of you. You know, like make sure your condo is clean and your bed is warm."
Thankfully, my cell chose that moment to ring Tinkerbell's Song, letting me know that Alice was attempting to get ahold of me. Seeing as how she very rarely calls me, I was either broke from a bad investment or she had a vision. Both were usually bad news, but part of me hoped it was the former. Alice's visions where I am concerned tend to involve life or death situations if she's contacting me.
"You're answering that… now?" Katie almost whined.
"It's important," I replied and hit the green button. "Tell me this isn't bad news."
"It's not bad news," Alice replied happily.
Wonderful; she was in her Manic Pixie Dream Girl mode. Isn't it odd that I have a friend that fits a movie trope? Actually, I have a lot of friends that fit movie tropes. What does that say about me?
"You remember Tanya Denali?"
Of course I did; I was a vampire. We were never formally introduced, but I was briefed about all the vampires that roamed the North American continent, at least all the ones that Carlisle knew anyway. Any respectable coven leader does this to protect those that are under his purview as it were. This way in case I run across them I know who's a friend, who's a foe, and generally who really fits somewhere in-between.
I'm not big on the whole fighting thing. Jasper and Emmett took it upon themselves to teach me several basic moves just in case, but seriously, I knew more from summers with Charlie.
"Alaska, yes, I remember."
"Good, she's going to Seattle."
I closed my eyes and let out a little groan. "Alice, I really don't have time for guests. I'm on a deadline with the current manuscript. I'm sure she can find her way around just fine."
"She's not going to your place." Alice stopped and I heard her sigh slightly. "She met her singer and things didn't go so well."
Katie chose then to roll over out of bed and retreat to the restroom. I watched her very cute behind shift back and forth before the door closed and I brought my attention back to the phone.
"That sucks. What am I supposed to do?"
"She'll be at the park tomorrow – the one you always go to when you write on a day it's not raining. I don't know the name of it."
"Is she violent or something?" I still didn't get what I was supposed to do.
Alice huffed. "No, she's not violent, she's depressed."
Buddha save me from Emo vampires. "I'm not really the one…"
"Bella," she said in exasperation. "I think I liked you better when you weren't so jaded. I'm telling you this, because you'll blow the whole thing with your stupid 'I am a rock' attitude. I normally don't interfere, because, you know… fate and everything. Everything in the world will happen in its own time, but you're being difficult."
With a shake of my head I stood off the bed and walked to the window to look out over the Puget Sound. "Pardon me for not wanting to protect my interests. Get to the point, Alice, I have a hot strawberry-blonde in my bed and I'd like to get back to her."
"Chat her up."
I glanced at the phone for a moment. "Chat her up? Since when did you turn British?"
"Please, Bella? I've had several very long visions about the two of you, and I think it would be in your best interests to not walk away when you spot this particular vampire tomorrow."
With a sigh I thought it over. "Is this regarding my business or personal life."
"Bella, I know I don't have a great track record concerning my visions and your personal life, but you'll make a huge mistake if you walk away."
"A life and death mistake?"
"Well, no, but…"
Cutting her off was probably in my best interests. "Alice, I love you; really, I do, but I've asked you not to mess about in my personal life. Setting me up on what amounts to a blind date is messing with my personal life."
"Jasper! Make her listen to me!" she whined.
The phone switched hands and I heard Katie exiting the bathroom. "Hello, Bella."
"Hi, Jasper. Alice is meddling again."
"I know. I tried to talk her out of calling, but when she explained the situation to me, including the full extent of her visions even I think you should listen to her in this instance."
Katie's arms slid around from behind and I felt her lips roaming my back and heading south while her fingers danced over my body.
"That's usually the time that I should run away at high rates of speed."
He chuckled and I heard Alice growling in the background. "I'll tell you what; how about you go to this park of yours and spy her from a distance. If you don't like what you see then walk away."
Someone was clapping in the background and I heard Alice's soft giggle right about the time that I felt pressure from Katie's hand on my back easing me forward. I glanced over my shoulder and saw her wearing something that is usually reserved for my use alone. I raised an eyebrow at her, but she just smiled. I went ahead and made the decision to let her have some fun and I leaned over and braced myself on the window sill.
"Fine, I'll spy on this person."
"Oh! Bella! Not while we're on the phone! Eww!"
That brought a smirk to my face until I felt Katie pushing into me. "Mmm, let me let you go. My strawberry-blonde wants attention."
"Tell Katie I said hi!" Alice yelled while Jasper said, "Have a nice night, Bella."
I just thumbed off the call and dropped the cell on the window sill, so I could enjoy the moment.
"You're so freaking tight, Bella. Don't you ever use this on yourself?"
With a pleasant sigh I pushed back and felt her hips meet mine. "Just pull my hair and fuck me, Katie."
Between Piers 57 and 59 sets Waterfront Park. It's not so much an actual park as it is a very minor tourist attraction during the right season. The north side is taken up mostly by the Seattle Aquarium and the south side has restaurants and an arcade. In the middle is an artsy boardwalk with benches, picnic tables, artsy stuff, a few potted trees and that's about it. If I wanted to see actual grass then I was in the wrong part of town. This one was a few blocks from me in Belltown, where my condo was on the northwest side of downtown Seattle.
The place wasn't quiet, seeing as how the Alaskan Way Viaduct was only about fifty yards behind the park. There was plenty of traffic and more than enough exhaust filling the air to let me know I was in the middle of a major city. However, I felt comfortable being able to look out over the Sound watching the ferries go back and forth and the occasional tanker pass by. Also, nobody bothered me.
Usually I filled a Seahawks travel mug with blood and spent the morning with my laptop writing away. This particular morning I was fairly satiated from Katie exhausting herself with my favorite toy the night previous. It's really difficult for me to let myself go in situations like that for fear of hurting her, but I was able to achieve a measure of release. That was one of the downsides of dating a human.
I never understood Edward's reluctance with me, physically I mean. I've never so much as bruised a human lover. Granted, I've only had three over the last eight years, but still. Once I got over the initial nervousness and figured out sex was actually fun and not life defining, I enjoyed myself and things worked out fine. Perhaps guy vampires had it harder or something; I never asked and frankly I really don't care. Guys aren't part of my life anymore, definitely not of the vampire variety. It's kind of difficult to avoid them altogether, but that's one of the perks of being a vampire. One cold glare is enough to send most of them on their way.
That morning I measured the wind direction and set up on Pier 57, the south side. Dawn was barely breaking and Fisherman's had hours before they'd be opening for lunch. I would usually be long gone by then. The smell of fresh fried fish was seriously nauseating, so I made it a point to be out of the area when they turned the fryers on around ten-thirty.
Choosing to be downwind of Pier 59 was calculated. I'd smell Tanya long before I saw her. That would give me time to have a look, leave, and call Alice to tell her thanks but no thanks. My obligation would be taken care of and she couldn't say that I didn't at least give her blind date a try.
My editor was already making inquiries as to my progress with my third book. At least that's what I saw when I opened up my email that morning. Who would have thought that my life story would be so successful in the publishing world? The names and facts were changed so as not to implicate myself to the Volturi. I could be any number of supernatural romance authors out there. The only thing that stayed the same was the basic plot. Girl moves to new town, meets up with sexy vampire boy, romance ensues, danger happens, danger is resolved, and the story is left open ended for another sequel.
The first story originally sold fifty-thousand copies. The second sold a half million, and the first went into reprints. They're still waiting for a third, and I was only three-quarters of the way finished. I had the cliché love triangle working between my heroine, the sexy vampire boy, and a sexy French werepanther – obviously, I'm not a big fan of wolves – when I decided to scrap the whole thing and have her fall in love with the sexy vixen vampire girl that waltzed into town to stir up trouble. It would piss off the Team Edgar and Team Jacque fans, but what the hell? There was never a good enough ending to that relationship triangle that would satisfy the fans well enough.
It amused me to no end to see the legions of sex starved middle-aged women and preteen girls that sported all the Nightfall paraphernalia in Seattle. The message boards online were filled with speculation about where I lived in Washington. I made sure to have my bio picture half in and half out of the shadows, showing only the bottom half of my nose down to my waist. They'd wear their shirts and buttons in hopes that I'd stop one of them on the street to sign one. To this day I still haven't. I value my privacy.
When I reached the scene where my vampire vixen was inches away from biting my heroine the scent of black cherries lit up the air. That was an interesting scent for a vampire. The flesh of a black cherry is somewhat bitter and sharp tasting, but the scent is mouthwatering. Don't eat the seeds though because once ground between your teeth they release hydrogen cyanide. One might not do you in unless you have an allergic reaction, but any more and you'll be tempting fate with your life on the line. Like I said, interesting considering the carrier of that scent is a female vampire.
I scanned the area along the road front and then followed up the side until I finally spotted her walking human speed along Pier 59 to the edge of the railing. The sun was well in the sky, but it was hidden behind thick cloud cover.
She was shorter than me and very curvy, being very plentiful in all the fun places. I frowned at that. Since I've entered into the happy field of lesbianism I've also taken a firm liking in being the top in the relationship for however short a span of time that might be. With that in mind, I like to be the taller of the two; that doesn't really play out in real life all that well since I stand at five-four. They say the average woman is five-five. Apparently, they don't measure the women in Seattle, because every time I go out in the city everyone towers above me. It's mostly because of their high heels, but still.
So why was I frowning?
She was short and curvy, two attributes I look for in my bed partners. The third was red hair. It could be anywhere along the spectrum, from strawberry-blonde to dark auburn and everywhere else between. I just like it; it's sexy.
Tanya's was obviously recently bottle fed since it was blood red and I'm not talking about the dark red of under-oxygenated blood, I mean the bright red of the over-oxygenated kind. Contrasting with her very pale white skin made me close my thighs to quell an itch that Katie could never quite scratch the previous night.
"Dammit, Alice," I whispered.
I don't know how she knew my particular type, but Tanya ticked every single one of my radio boxes for the perfect physical girl. Her hair was even curly and hung just below the middle of her back. I may be tomboyish in my manner of dress, but the women I choose are almost always overly feminine.
If she had the right personality then Tanya would be virtually perfect. That raised all sorts of red flags in my head. I hated relationships these days. Growing up in a broken home soured me on them. Renée knocked them and always encouraged me to stay free even when she wound up married again later in life. My stint with Edward pretty much killed any desire I ever had to spend more than a day or two with any one person. It's why I brushed off Katie's suggestion so quickly.
We'd never work out. She'd move in, be the little woman, and annoy me to Hell and back. That doesn't even include what I'd have to do if she found out about the vampire side of my life. There was no way I was going to turn her. Sure, she's pretty decent in bed. That goes a long way in my book, but having her by my side for a century while she adapts to the lifestyle? I'd rather break my hand off and throw myself in a volcano.
But Tanya – that body alone might get me to reconsider my attitude toward having a constant companion around. That's why I was so annoyed with Alice.
Why couldn't she just keep her cute little pixie nose to herself?
I closed down my laptop and slid it in its padded case before grabbing my travel mug and heading out of the park. Of course I'd have to walk right past Tanya on my way out unless I wanted to take the long way around. Screw it. This was my city. No other vampires were allowed. When I came across one I made damn sure they knew that its citizens were off limits and they could take their sparkly ass up to Canada if they wanted free eats.
My cell rang Tinkerbelle's Song and I stopped dead in my tracks at the base of Pier 59, ready to give this Alaskan a piece of my mind about her intruding on my territory, but the woman spun around at the sound of my cell going off.
"Shit," I muttered.
Of course she's beautiful. She's a vampire and nobody makes ugly vampires unless you're the guy that bit Aro Volturi. I made a grab for my cell and noticed Alice had hung up – the bitch. She did that on purpose. I seriously needed to quit making decisions, but life gets kind of kooky when you do things like that. The problem was that she wasn't just beautiful, she was over the top.
I always compared beauty to supermodels, or movie stars of bygone years. Rosalie was by far the closest to the standards of perfection that most people had, so naturally I always compared women to her. Except she was too damn tall; barefoot she was five-five, but she always wore four inch heels, never anything less anywhere she went, so she might as well been five-nine. Therefore, she never made it to my list of ideal women.
The moment I received a full frontal of Tanya Denali I developed a new standard of perfection, and that perfect woman was walking my way.
Please Buddha, don't let her have Rosalie's personality! That would kill it for me.
I put up with a lot of flaws if a person has a nice personality. Katie, for instance; she's overly submissive for my tastes, but she's got a really cute face and a very nice body. It's her eagerness to please me and her carefree attitude that keeps her in my bed even after so long.
When Tanya was within ten feet of me I finally registered the fact that I lost a little time fantasizing about holding her wrists in my grasp while I had her trapped against the wall as I plunged my favorite toy into her from behind. Her hair was free and thrashing all over the front of my body as she shook her head screaming my name.
"My apologies," she said. "I wasn't aware that I was treading on your territory. Last time I was through here Seattle hadn't been claimed."
You can have it, I almost said. "I'm Bella."
Her head tilted slightly and her brows twitched. "Bella Swan of the Cullen Family?"
"I'm not a Cullen. I left them six months after I was turned."
Her head moved in acknowledgement of my status. "My name is Tanya."
I nodded. "Denali."
Tanya's lips tightened slightly like I'd struck a nerve. "No longer. I've left the family to my sister, Katrina. I'm a nomad now, so the name Tanya will suffice."
Her eyes were the color of burned orange, most definitely in transition from vegetarian to human drinker, or the other way around. I suppose her singer took care of that dietary choice not too long ago.
Motioning behind me I said. "I have a condo just a few blocks down if you'd like to refresh yourself, a shower, wash your clothes, blood; it's no trouble."
Tanya's eyes dropped to my mug. It was sealed fairly well and with the wind blowing she probably didn't pick up on it right away. "You drink human blood in a cup?"
I smiled and almost laughed. "It's bagged blood from hospitals, blood drives and the like. I don't hunt humans. I don't spend any more than I used to on human groceries and it's better than drinking animals. I couldn't keep theirs down. Carlisle suggested this as an alternative, and it works."
She looked to the right appearing as if she was trying to make a decision and then gave me a perfunctory smile. "I would like to freshen up. I'll take you up on your offer."
We walked the first block without any other conversation before she noticed something. "You don't avert your eyes from the humans?"
"What?" I said. I normally didn't have to explain myself to anyone, so it took me off guard. "Why bother? It's in vogue to wear odd colored contacts. In the last week I've seen three women with violet eyes, two with fluorescent green, and a guy with white. Red is just another color."
She grinned. "Yes, but yours are black with just the barest hint of red. Are you by chance hungry?"
Thank Kali I couldn't blush anymore. I'd been caught out thinking about bedding Tanya. The old Bella would have definitely blushed, but she died ten years ago.
"Nope." I raised the cup to show that it was empty. "You're just that beautiful and I haven't had a satisfying lover in years. Vampire hormones in action. I just find you really attractive and my mind wanders. Don't worry; I think I can control myself… for a while at least."
Amazingly enough, my forwardness didn't seem to discourage her from matching my pace toward the condo. Most people, when introduced to my recent lack of mouth filter, tend to break stride or falter slightly when they realize I'm frankly talking about sex. As I said before, the shy retiring Bella was left in Phoenix along with her hopes and dreams of a normal relationship.
Tanya's grin slid away into a mild smirk as she brought her attention around to where she was walking. "You didn't mention my eye color. Should I take it someone called ahead and alerted you that I'd be in the area?"
From what I remembered from Carlisle's briefing, Tanya and her sisters were right around the thousand year mark in age. People don't live that long by not being wise and seeing a situation for what it is.
"Alice," I replied. "Ever since I left the family, she does this to me on a semi-regular basis."
I nodded. "Sets me up with someone that's from out of town. Either that or just general poking into my personal life. I've told her to keep her visions to herself, but she feels guilty or something about me becoming a vampire, so she pokes with good intentions."
"Hmm, so this is Alice's version of a blind date?"
Glancing over at her I shrugged. "Don't worry. I won't be throwing myself at you or anything. Well, not for at least another couple of hours."
Her gaze drifted down my body and then back up again, only the color was receding and rapidly turning blacker by the second.
Willpower, it's a thing. Actually, it's a thing that's definitely going to straining at the seams if this flirting keeps up.
Ah, well, even Alice has to get it right every once in a while.