"I'm serious, Rosalie. This is very important to him."

Rosalie's eyes rolled, unable to keep in the annoyance that was bubbling over inside of her like hot tar. "Is it? I hadn't heard." Her voice came out flat and dry as kindling. As usual, there was a snap to it, a bite that she couldn't help and, in this case, didn't want to help. All she needed to do now was buff her nails on her blouse as if to fix a snag and her message would be clear: I. Don't. Care. And she didn't. She really just didn't.

It was the mark of how serious an occasion this was that Esme showed no sign of frustration at her sarcasm. She was too busy trying to make everything perfect for her precious Edward to even notice Rosalie's open annoyance. Or perhaps she was just taking a card from Edward's deck and ignoring her opinions on this completely.

Of course, Rosalie knew that this day was important to Edward. How could she fucking not? He had been speaking of nothing else for the last twenty-four hours. When you didn't sleep, twenty-four they could feel very, very long. He had been obsessive. An obnoxious obsessive over-the-hill teenager who's prattling had only been able to be tuned out when she was out in the car bay, or perhaps in the shower with the water on full blast covering her ears. It was like a fly buzzing around your head and yet unable to be swatted.

"We want a united front when we meet Bella, Rose," Carlisle added, backing up his mate. As if to make this clearer, he stepped up and placed his hands on Esme's shoulders, his face serious. Esme, for her part, seemed to settle in at his touch, some of her stress calming. Her face relaxed a bit, leaving only her eyebrows tense and hard.

Rosalie gave an annoyed scoff, looking away from their comfort and peace. "Because walking into a wall of vampires is not going to freak her out at all."

A slight breeze rustled her loose blonde hair as Alice appeared beside her. Her face scrunched into a thoughtful expression, her chin tilting as she looked at nothing in particular. "Nope," she pronounced. "She'll be okay."

"Well, whoop-de-do," Rosalie grumbled.

"Rose." Esme chided.

"Yes! United front. I got it."

"Thank you." Esme nodded, reached forward and squeezed Rosalie's arm.

This was ridiculous.

"They're coming!" Alice called in a completely unnecessarily singsong. They all could hear the sound of a clogged and clearly uncared for engine turning off the highway and onto the drive that would lead to the house.

Rosalie flinched. That was car abuse, that's what it was. That poor engine needed a thorough cleaning. She could hear the gunk clogging the engine, forcing it to work too hard, much like a heart preparing for a heart attack. She already had very good reason not to like this stupid human, and that had not won her any points. Car abuse was unacceptable. Not that there was anything this stupid girl could do to get on her good side. She was an intruder. She was an intrusion. This was a joke. How did her family not see that? The time to run had passed and they were trapped into waiting for the cards to fall where they may. It was just a matter of time now.

The roar of the truck grew louder. Rosalie clicked her tongue, looking away from anyone else to hide exactly how much this pissed her off.

Below her, Esme and Carlisle moved into their allotted positions, standing together at the base of the stairs while Alice and Jasper moved to theirs halfway down.

Esme had choreographed this like blocking in a play.

Rosalie's teeth grit, her back straight and tall - too stiff, too formal.

"Come on, babe." Beside her, Emmett gave her a playful shoulder bump. "Maybe she'll be nice. Maybe you'll like her."

She gave him a stiff smile that was equal to the polite, if not loving, 'fuck off' that she felt.

He chuckled.

In not quite an apology, she kissed him lightly, her hand rubbing his neck in affection.

It wasn't about whether or not she was nice. She did not care if she was nice. She just did not want her there. She did not want her forced into their lives, shoved down their throat. At this point, they should not be there. They should have cut their losses and run. She had no interest in liking her. She had no interest in knowing her.

The room grew silent as they all waited, listening to each pebble that crunched under the tires as the truck made its way closer and closer. No one moved, no one breathed; a house full of nervous vampires was a shockingly quiet thing.

She sniffed in disapproval as the truck hit some kind of a pothole and the engine wobbled. This girl had to hear that, right? It wasn't just her vampire hearing. This girl was irresponsible.

Below her, Esme's eye twitched.

She resented this. That's what it came down to. She resented this new and aggravating thing in her life.

Esme's hands clasped in front of her when truck pulled up. It idled at top volume for a painful moment and then was turned off with a wheeze.

Involuntarily, she let out a small growl.

Emmett chuckled beside her, his arms crossed comfortably over his large chest. "Maybe she'll let you fix it up for her."

She ignored him, tossing her sheet of blonde hair over her shoulder. As if she would take the time to —

The words cut off in her head as suddenly as if they had been sliced with a knife. Her body went rigid, still and taut as stone.

Outside the truck's door opened. Feet that could only be Edward's had gotten out, and was moving slowly around to the other side to let his passenger out.

There it was again. Eyes unmoving, frozen in concentration, she sought it out, looking for the source. She could feel it again, that thing. And again, there was that smell, less of a smell and more like a sensation in her nose, in her head, something too light to smell as much as to be felt. It was like the scent of jasmine on the breeze in spring, barely there and yet enough to flavor the day.

She had smelled it, or maybe felt it was more accurate, a few weeks before. She had walked onto campus one morning, as she did every morning without note, and it had been there. Stopping her in her tracks in the middle of the lot, making her unaware of blocking traffic until Emmett had begun to tease. It had haunted her while on campus, pulling her attention no matter how much she tried to ignore it. And she had, uninterested, unwilling.

What could it, what was it possibly doing here now?

Feet hit the gravel as the passenger climbed out of the car. All around the house, the trees began to shift and sway, caught in the fall wind. That smell… that smell that was more of a feeling than a smell… that was more of a sense than a feeling… that was more…

She blinked once and in that half of a millisecond, she understood.

Her body tensed, spasmed.

Nooooo… No!

Her teeth ground. Her hands balled into fists.

No. This couldn't be happening. This could not be happening. There was no way. She refused to believe it. It was not — it would not — No!

Through the front window of the house, Rosalie watched the girl shift nervously at Edward's side, her face turned up to give him a dewy look as they walked. She sniffed and looked away, the sniff only filling her senses with more and making her regret it. A scent that wasn't a scent, that was a calling… how many times had Carlisle said that? She had never really listened before. It had sounded like nothing more than poetry, idiotic, stupid poetry.

No. She refused to accept it. She was wrong. She was simply wrong. This would not — could not —

The scent that was more of a feeling seemed to be mocking her. It was all warmed milk chocolate and lavender. It was a mix that should have been repugnant to her, human food was repugnant, and yet it wasn't. Perhaps because the chocolate wasn't that of a Hershey's bar but instead of ground cocoa beans fresh from the fire and ground against a chill stone slab, the lavender not a sprig but a sunlit field where bushes swayed. She could smell the coldness of the stone under the cocoa beans, could smell the scent of the warm summer sun filtering through the leaves of the tree where the beans had grown, the rich earth below it. She could feel that sun on her face as she breathed.

Yet there was more, something less definable. Something that, when breathed in, calmed her by its familiarity even though it was overall, entirely unfamiliar to her. She could feel it settling on her like a mist, welcoming her.

It was unprecedented and uninvited.

She had been aware of this at school, where it was muddied amongst Axe body spray and teenage hormones, but here approaching their house which was so clean of human scent, suddenly she knew.

Rosalie couldn't help but sneer. This hadn't already been bad enough? Her stupid brother hadn't already been putting them at risk for, what? This girl, this thing was nothing to him, nothing but the passing fancy, a lust that needed to be fulfilled. This – girl was like a glass of aged wine, delicious yes, but worth ruining everything? Enough to drive them from their home? And now...

"Uh, babe?" Emmett's soft voice interrupted her building panic.


His eyebrows shot up. It was rare that he was offended or even surprised by her hostility but the bite in her voice just then had been enough to burn anything too close.


His eyes shifted to her hand.

Her teeth ground and, without acknowledgment, she pulled her fingers out of the wood of the banister which had yielded to her like no more than putty. She dropped the splintered wood, her chin high and arrogant. Below her, she saw Esme frown. Damage to her house always a sore spot.

She wanted to rip, to pull it from the wall… this… this was unfair.

Her thoughts.

The realization of her need to flee sliced through the red haze of anger, broiling it into panic. She had to control her thoughts. This could not be heard. She would not accept this being heard.

She glanced back at the happy couple approaching the front stairsjust in time to see Edward, exultant, lean down and place a soft kiss on Bella's head.

That was it. She was done. This could not be heard.

She turned and fled.


Rosalie heard Esme call from behind her, but she was down the hallway and out the window in less than a second, her feet hitting the soft forest floor before Esme had finished her name.

"Go after her." Carlisle gave the soft command and footsteps began to chase her, down the stairs and toward the backdoor in the blink of an eye.

Mind blank, keep your mind blank, she chanted internally. She paused just under the window. Her feet flicked one after another, sending her high heels flying. She cringed. They were beautiful shoes and now were in the dirt. Her toes dug into the soft earth and she took off like a bullet before the others had even left the stairs.

She wasn't the fastest in the family, but right now she had no problem reaching top speed in seconds. The house disappeared behind her at a rapid pace.

Despite her super hearing, Emmet's voice was far away when she heard him speak. "It looks like she doesn't want to be caught. I got this."

Rosalie was pushed harder although she knew Emmett would not follow but instead would wait in the forest until she came back on her own terms.

Rosalie's shouting mind flicked back to her and she snarled, her pace quickening, kicking up sods of earth with the force of her passage.

Bella. Blushing, babbling, Isabella. Though the name was, in its own right, beautiful. It was badly matched. She was nothing. She was pathetic, a swooning, simpering teenager. Rosalie hadn't even noticed her before Edward had shoved her in their faces. True the smell, that misted scent had been following her everywhere as she went about town. She would pick up a trail of it here or there. But the girl, she was... she was... she was ordinary. There was nothing about her to catch the eye and yet, now…

She wanted to go back. That was the worst part of this, she fucking wanted to go back.

Rosalie hated her. She resented her for learning their secret. She had no respect for her as she seemed willing to do anything for Rosalie's brother. She was a weak, sniveling, human.

Rosalie let out a roar, coming to an earth ripping stop. Hands closed on the nearest tree and she began to tear. She raged, screaming and tearing through the meat of the tree as if it were cotton.

This was not happening.

She would - not - allow - it.

She would not.

She had Emmett. She loved him. He was good to her. He was her best friend… her very best friend. She had never needed one, never felt the desire to be owned that way. She didn't need it, didn't want it, didn't, didn't, didn't.

She screamed, her throat ripping painlessly, and like a marionette with severed strings, she dropped to the forest floor, the fight going out of her.

No, no, no, no.

She opened her hands, only just fully realizing what she had done. She looked at the kindling and felt a stab of remorse. She was sure it had been a beautiful tree. She hadn't meant to do that. Her clothes were ripped and dirty and yet her skin remained as unblemished as marble. She looked away from it, disgusted by its perfection.

Her brother, her stupid idiot brother whom their father of sorts had meant for her. He was so sure that he had finally been mated, that he had found his true other half.

Rosalie's shoulders slumped. Her hands went out, digging into the muddy earth below her, seeking some type of grounding, something solid that would stop the mental spinning.

"God, no," she begged nothing, pleading for this not to be true, not to happen.

What was she going to do now?

She couldn't tell him. She wouldn't tell him that he was wrong.

And he was.


She knew it as well as she knew her own name. She knew it because it wasn't just a scent, it was also a feeling. It was a feeling as if all of the pain she held inside could now be soothed if she simply extended her hand to her, of simple and uncomplicated connection. It wasn't grand. It wasn't the earth moving as Edward said it was, it wasn't the stars realigning. Instead, it was just a fact. An answer to a question she had never known she needed, that she hadn't asked. It just was. It simply was there as the sun was there in the day and the moon at night. She knew because even as she stood there somewhere in the mountains so far north that snow dusted the ground, she was in her mind, a new flavor that she had a feeling would not leave.

Edward thought he had found his mate and yet Rosalie knew he was wrong. He hadn't found his mate.

Instead, he had found hers.

And she hated it.