Bella closed her textbook. Her last course of the night was: Pleasure, Power and Profit: Race and Sexualities in a Global Era. In the last four years since becoming a vampire she'd already earned her bachelor's degree in English Literature and she'd recently started working on getting her Masters. The class wasn't her favorite, in truth she preferred reading and studying the classics, but she found her professor to be fascinating and it was her love for the subject matter which had worked its way into Bella's interest.
When she made it to her car twilight was already shying into a crisp autumnal evening. The foliage blurred red and orange under the ocher streetlamps and she could smell the hint of rain in the air. Several of her classmates liked to unwind at the library or grab a beer after class but most days all she wanted to do was get home to her husband, Edward Cullen, and her daughter, Renesmee. The drive from Port Angeles Community College to their home in Forks took a human a little over an hour, but Bella could easily do it in half that time.
The drive was uneventful, the landscape eerie in its stillness. The roads unwinding out before her like unfurling black ribbons.
When she pulled into the long driveway up to the Cullen house she was greeted by Esme, who was arranging flower baskets on the porch.
"They look nice," Bella commented.
Esme smiled. "I love the way they look in the moonlight. How were your classes today?"
Bella told her they were fine and left her to continue her decorating. Esme was currently taking an online course on interior design.
Once inside she was met with semi-silence. With her vampiric hearing she could tell that Carlisle was working upstairs in his study. The sound of his inhuman typing was like the drumming sound of rain.
Her siblings, Alice, Jasper, Rosalie, and Emmett were out on a hunt. Just thinking about it made her mouth water and her throat burn. She'd need to hunt soon; she'd gone too long already.
She found what she was looking for in the kitchen. Edward had his back to her while he washed dishes at the sink. When she came up behind him, she slid her arms around his abdomen, sliding them down his front, and inhaling his rich scent.
"I've been waiting all day for that," she confessed. Swiping her nose along his shirt.
Edward let the dishes sink quietly into the soapy water and covered her hands where she touched him. He let his head fall back against her. "Me too."
She felt electrified where he touched her, and she felt herself burn with need.
"What are you up to?" She asked, attempting to distract herself from her own need.
She could hear the smile in his voice. His thoughts had taken him to the same place, and she knew it. "Cleaning Nessie's lunch pail."
Although it had only been four years since Bella had given birth to their daughter she already had the appearance of a twelve-year-old, and after years of begging, Bella and Edward had only recently agreed to allow her to attend the local Forks elementary school as a 6th grader.
The adjustment had been especially hard for Bella. She still, and would always, maintain the appearance of her human age, and visually, she was too young to publicly claim to be Renesmee's mother. On her daughter's transcripts she was labeled as a sister and legal guardian, not a biological mother.
"Where is Ness, by the way?" she asked.
Edward shrugged. "Back at the cottage. She wanted to take a nap."
Bella raised her eyebrow. "A nap…?" Initially, she'd been concerned that the public-school atmosphere would be too overstimulating for her daughter and her inherited gifts.
Bella lowered her shield and allowed her husband to read her thoughts.
The intimacy of this action always made Edward shiver. "I don't think it's that. She didn't seem upset or overwhelmed, just tired."
The guilt she felt at being away from her daughter for so much of the day while she was in school had been overpowering most days, but she was always put at ease that Edward was always close by.
Bella chewed on her thumbnail. "I'm going to go check on her."
The walk to the cottage was done in under a minute with her vampire abilities. When she reached the entryway she paused, knowing Edward was just a few steps behind her. He reached out for her instinctually, and she held his hand in return.
The cottage was quiet. Edward had lit a fire earlier and it crackled hypnotically in the hearth. The spines in the bookcases glistened in the natural light.
Bella and Edward made their way to the back of the cottage where their daughters' room was. Upon opening the door, they were greeted by darkness, but Bella didn't need light to see or find the sleeping form of her daughter in the bed.
"Sweetheart, are you okay?" she stroked her palm across her daughter's damp forehead.
Renesmee mumbled, "your cold hand fells so nice."
Although Bella could feel her daughter's warmth and life blood, she had difficulty gauging temperatures with her preternaturally cold skin.
Edward sat on the other side of their daughters' bed and felt her forehead as well.
"Baby," he asked his daughter, "are you feeling alright?"
Renesmee mumbled an incoherent response.
"Bella," Edward looked at her, she could see the concern in her husband's eyes. "Can you go get the thermometer, please?"
Where was it? Bella knew they had at one point had one in the cottage. She made short work of searching the kitchen drawers – nothing. She checked the hall closet – again, nothing. As she began her search of the master bathroom, she could hear the frightening sound of her daughter's teeth chattering from the other room.
"Carlisle, Bella." Edward's voice was frantic. "Get Carlisle."
As Bella ran, a hazy blur of supernatural movement, passing her daughters doorway she could see Edward holding Renesmee down as her body started to convulse.