A Gay Retelling

An Endless Night

All rights reserved to the original creator, Stephenie Meyer. This work, and any that may follow, are a queer retelling for fanfiction purposes and to practice my own writing. I do not own any of the original characters that were established in the original saga.

This story will be similar to other queer retellings of The Twilight Saga, but with some different twist to characters and plots. As a reminder, the timeline for this story has been moved up from the mid two-thousands to around the mid two-thousand-and-tens (January, twenty-sixteen to be exact). Welcome back to my version of Forks. Thank you for reading, I do hope you each enjoy.


Letter from the author:

Hello lovely readers. I am thrilled to bring you the second installment of my gay retelling of the Twilight Saga. There are a few things I'd like to explain before any of you continuing reading onward. One, New Moon, which this installment will be based off of, is my least favorite in the original saga-as such I am excited to make my version one that I'd have liked to read. As I had done with "The Darkened Sun," I will be taking many liberties with the characters and plot of this story. Second, the most prevalent being the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob. I detest love triangles-for me they are senseless plot device in my opinion, and I will not be including that in this story. Statistically speaking, I think it highly unlikely that Jacob would gay or bi (and yes I am aware that this in FanFiction and Fantasy, but I am taking into account the statistic likelihood of Beau's perspective romantic options). As such, as was established in my first retelling, Beau and Jacob's relationship will play out as one of older and younger brother. I will also be incorporating Seth far more into this rendition, having made my version of his father the romantic interest of Beau's mother. I also love Seth, and don't believe he was given as much "page time," as he deserved-he too will become a surrogate younger brother for Beau. Also, having given Beau many of my own interest and much of my own personality, I will be making how he deals with Edward and the Cullen's departure from his life similar to how I, as someone with depression and anxiety, would have handled it at eighteen years of age. My version of Beau is intended to be stronger, more forceful character, a person who can stand their own against the supernatural world. I will tell you, as a warning, that I have already planned for a dramatic revelation to be explained as to who Beau is-it is a change I would have loved to have read in the original story, and as such I will be placing it here. I write this all, to warn you of the departures from the original tale, and welcome any and all feedback. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I will enjoy writing it. With my taking so many liberties, I cannot guarantee daily or even bi-daily updates. But I promise to have this completed as soon as I can. Thank you again.

~Boone


You used to captivate me by your resonating light—

Now, I'm bound by the life you left behind.

Your face it haunts my once pleasant dreams—

Your voice it chased away all the sanity in me.

These wounds won't seem to heal, this pain is just too real—

There's just too much that time cannot erase.

My Immortal~Evanescence


Preface

MY BODY WAS NOT MINE TO CONTROL, MY MIND A PRISONER TO MY OWN ANGUISH AND FEAR. I felt my vision grow hazy, clouded by the bright haze of exhaustion and excretion. It was as if I were once again trapped in one of my heinous nightmares, knowing that I was running out of time, but helpless to run closer to my destination. My legs were led, my lungs and heart begging for me to stop, my soul urging me onward, despite the knowledge of the possibilities that awaited me. My sprint was halted even further as I fought and shoved my way through the callous crowd, unbothered by their dirty looks, I ignored them with ease; the hands on the imposing clock tower would not slow. With relentless, uncaring, mocking force, they turned inexorably closer toward the end—the end of everything.

This was no dream, and, this was unlike the nightmares that had plagued me in recent months. I was not my life, nor my safety that I was running against the sands of time for; I was racing to save something infinitely more precious. Despite everything, regardless of how broken and worthless he had caused me to feel, uncaring for how he had left me, it was his life that mattered only to me, I would save him, even if the cost were my very breaths.

Alice had warned there was a good chance we would all die here today. Perhaps the outcome would be different if she weren't trapped by the brilliant sunlight; only I was free to run across this bright, crowded square.

And I just couldn't run fast enough.

The knowledge that were surrounded by our extraordinarily dangerous enemies mattered not to me. All that mattered was that I get to him, that I try my best to save him, for his family—and then he could once again be free of me as he wished. As the clock began to toll out the high noon-hour, echoing throughout the stone walls surrounded by the brilliant bells, vibrating under the soles of my sluggish feet, I knew I was too late—and the anger I felt pushed me forward, I refused to acknowledge that the hourglass was spent, or that something bloodthirsty waited for me in the wings. I would not fail. I was no longer helpless, no longer the damsel in distress. I would save him, or I would die trying.

The clock tolled once more, and the gloating, malevolent sun beat down from the exact center point of the sky.


CHAPTER ONE: AN UNHAPPY BIRTHDAY

I WAS NEARLY CERTAIN, I'D SUPPOSE IT WAS NEARLY NINTY-NINE-POINT-NINE PERCENT SURE THAT I WAS CURRENTLY TRAPPED WITHIN THE REALMS OF MY OWN DREAMINGS.

The reasons I was so certain were that, first, I found standing in a bright shaft of sunlight—the blinding sun, so clear and radiant, that I felt like I was standing on the shores of a tropical beach, rather in the drizzly town in Forks, Washington that had become my home—and second, I was looking at the grandfather I had never met. His name had been Beaufort Bishop, and he had been dead now for over eighteen years now. So, either I was dreaming, or I was having some type of out-of-body experience where the veil between the living and dead had thinned so entirely I could now visit with the man who had been my namesake.

My grandfather looked just as he had in the last photo my mother had of him, when she had been four month pregnant. His face was was just as it had been in the photo. The skin was soft and withered, but still young enough looking. He could pass for a man in his late forties, rather than his mid sixties. His hair was still thick and wavy, long patches of grey interwove themselves along the bands of light mahogany.

Our mouths—his a wizened, knowing picker—spread into the same surprised surprised, half-smile at just the same time. Apparently, he hadn't been expecting to see me, either.

I stared at him, bewildered. I had always wanted to meet him, my mother had mentioned on several occasions that I was very similar to him, in more than just appearances. There were so many questions I longed to ask him. What insane, ridiculous things had my mom and Billy gotten into as teenagers? What had my grandmother been like? Had they found each other on the other side? Was he pathetically clumsy as I was? What was he like? I was about to berate him with my insesive questioning—but he opened her mouth when I did, so I stopped to let him go first.

He paused then, too, and then we both just smiled at the little at one another, inspite of the awkwardness.

"Beau?"

I knew the voice that had called my name. Even though I had never heard my grandfather's voice, I knew it was not him who had called out my name. I would know that voice anywhere—know it, treasure it, sing out to it. Wherever his voice called, I would answer back, whether or not I were conscious. His voice, I knew, could call me back from death. His was the angelic voice I would travel through the gates of Hell for, just as Orpheus had done for Eurydice, only I would succeed in bringing him back into the light. My grandfather and I each turned to see the addition to our small reunion.

Standing across from where my grandfather and I stood in the meadow, concealed in the safety of the shadow cast down by the trees stood my angel. My Darling, my Edward. My heart leaped with joy at the sight of him, pulsing erratically within the confines of my chest. Even though I was always thrilled to see him—conscious or otherwise—and even though I was almost positive that I was dreaming, not actually in a between realm of the here and afterlife, nevertheless I panicked as Edward walked toward us through the glaring sunlight.

My cause for alarm came from the fact that my grandfather, whether a figment of my subconscious mind, or a corporal phantom, had no inkling that his grandson was hopelessly in love with a vampire—only a very select few members of the Quileute tribe were even aware of that, and of course Edward's family, all also vampires—so how was I supposed to explain the fact that the brilliant sunbeams that shimmered brilliantly, mesmerizingly off his skin into thousands of small, brilliant rainbow stars, as though he were made entirely of crystal and diamond?

Well, Grandfather, I suppose some introductions are in order. This is my boyfriend, Edward, hope you're alright with that, and you may have noticed that he shimmers in the sunlight…

But even in this strange trace of dream or afterworld, I could not understand. What was he doing? The whole reason he and his family lived in Forks, one of the rainiest places in the world, was so that they could fully live among us humans, none the wiser, posing no risk of exposing their secret. Yet here he was, strolling gracefully toward me—with the most captivating smile on his angelic face—as if I were the only one here.

In that second, I wished that I was not the one exception to his mysterious talent; I usually felt grateful that I was the only person whose thoughts he couldn't hear just as clearly as if they were spoken aloud. But now I wished he could hear me, too, so that he could hear the warning I was screaming in my head, but also read the marvel I felt for him, know the true depth of my love.

I shot a panicked glance back at my grandfather, and saw that it was too late. He was just turning to stare back at me, his wide eyes as alarmed as mine.

Edward—still smiling so beautifully that my heart felt like at any moment it was going to swell up and burst through my chest—put his arm around my waist, and turned to face my grandfather. I wrapped my arm around his waist, breathing in deeply before turning to look back at my grandfather. My grandfather's expression surprised me. Instead of looking horrified, he was staring at me with the same mesmerized look I had for Edward, non afraid. Had he known about my relationship? Had he managed to watch over me from beyond? How much did he know? How much had he seen? I began to study my grandfather more closely. The more I looked, the less I understood. Why was he standing in such a strange position—one arm held awkwardly away from her body, stretched out and then curled around the air. Like he had his arm around someone I couldn't see, someone invisible...

Only then, as I looked at the bigger picture, did I notice the huge gilt frame that enclosed my grandmother's form. Uncomprehending, I raised the hand that wasn't wrapped around Edward's waist and reached out to touch him. He mimicked the movement exactly, mirrored it. But where our fingers should have met, there was nothing but cold glass...

With a dizzying jolt, my dream abruptly became a nightmare. The aged man in front of me was not my grandfather. The withering man was me. Me in a mirror. Me—far older, greying, my face clearly touched by decades of life and age. A horrified gasped escaped from my mouth, my reflection mimicking the terrified mask.

Edward stood beside me, casting no reflection, excruciatingly lovely and forever seventeen. He pressed his icy, perfect lips against my withering lips. "Happy birthday, my love," he whispered.

I woke with a start—my eyelids popping open wide—and gasped. I would have shot out of bed, but two freezing, cold arms held me in place. Dull gray light, the familiar light of an overcast morning, took the place of the blinding sun in my dream.

I closed my eyes tightly, shaking the dream from my memory. Just a dream, I told myself. It was only a dream. I took a deep breath, and then jumped again when my alarm went off, this time the arms that acted as a barricade finally releasing me. I grabbed my phone and shut off the alarm, before slamming it back down onto the bedside table. The day's date appeared on the lock screen, taunting me as to what event the date recognized. It was September thirteenth. Only a dream, but prophetic one at that. Today was my birthday. I was officially eighteen years old.

I'd been dreading this day for months.

Edward's arms wrapped around me, hugging me into his chilly side. A free hand ran through the length of my hair.

"What's wrong?" his musical voice asked while he looked on concerned.

I couldn't answer, not immediately at least. All throughout the perfect summer—the happiest summer I had ever had, the happiest, most blissful summer anyone in the history of time had ever had, and the rainiest summer in the history of the Olympic Peninsula—this dark date had lurked in ambush, waiting to spring.

And now that it was here, it was far worse than I'd had ever fathomed or feared it would be. I could feel it—I was older. Every day I grew more and more older, but this was different, worse, quantifiable. I was eighteen.

And Edward never would be. He would remain forever, a god among mortal men, picturesque and perfect—a living testimony to radiant, inhuman beauty. The frailties of humanity would never befall him.

Edward kissed my cheek, and I turned my head to meet his lips. In all the months we had been together, in all the hundreds of thousands of kisses we had shared, I had yet to grow accustomed to how his every kiss sent shockwaves of electricity and ecstasy throughout each nerve in my body. His hands entangled themselves into the hair that laid along the back of my head, pulling me deeper into his kiss. My nightmare forgotten, I yanked him from his spot on the bed, hoisting him into my lap. He chuckled, his kiss moving from my lips, down the length of my jaw, all the way down my neck, to my collarbone, down to the exposed parts of my chest.

I moaned in pleasure, my head craning back against my headboard. My hands traveled from the sharp edges of his shoulders, along the length of his back, cupping around his perfect backside. I smiled as I heard him moan as well.

Too soon, always too soon, he pulled away, smiling and panting, though unlike me he didn't need to breath, as he rested his forehead against mine. Over the course of our relationship, we had explored and tested the boundaries of Edward's self control with tremendous success. And while we still had yet to cross into the deeper and more taboo aspects of physical intimacy that I was all too ready to give to him, I was still thankful for what we had discovered that was tolerable for now.

"You need to get ready, Birthday Boy," he told me as he ran his hands down either side of my face.

I groaned, rolling my eyes. "Don't remind me." My voice thick with annoyance.

He laughed at me. "Love, you promised you'd be on your best behavior today."

I threw the covers over my face, shaking my head vigorously. "I don't wanna," I cried out like a petulant child. His musical laughter echoing throughout the room. His hands, stronger than anything that I could ever muster, pulled the covers from my face. I glared at him.

"Beau, you understand that most people enjoy their birthdays, right?"

"And you remember that I've never particularly cared for mine—childhood trauma and all, remember." Edward had inquired once, on our first hike to the meadow where he'd shown me the sun's effect on him, what my favorite birthday had been. My answer had surprised him. More than my father, Reed, never being a particularly good gift-giver, something wrong always seemed to happen on my birthday. From my father nearly burning down our house trying to bake a cake on my sixth birthday, my emergency appendectomy on my tenth, the disastrous thirteenth birthday I tried very hard to forget. Something always went wrong. Last year, still mentally and emotionally recovering from my near fatal assault at the hands of two former classmates, and the sham of the following trail, I had not been in the mood to even acknowledge the day. It was like like the day was cursed.

And now, to add insult to injury, I was officially, physically at least, a year older than him. We had, since the night of prom, rarely spoken about my desire to become an official member of the Cullen family. Edward was insistent that we wait until after high school—when we could explain my strange absence from the lives of my human family and friends on the intensity of college. Edward had explained, in an attempt to hinder my goal of becoming a vampire, that it would be unwise to ever see my mother again, or my father and his new family, Loretta and their baby, my brother, Hector. I had brushed his concern off, reminding him of my parents' fortunate genetics, of how they each appeared as though they were in their early to mid-thirties rather than approaching their fifties. By the time they'd grow concerned with my lack of aging, I would play if off to their aging minds, and would one day masquerade as their grandson if need be.

I had already planned for that, disregarding the thought of never seeing them again. My plan was reasonable—I'd move along with the Cullens, FaceTime and call regularly, visit once or twice a year, come up with further scripts to preform for them—until eventually they did succumb to the inevitability of remaining human. Everything in that regard was already planned, being a Virgo, Edward should have expected nothing less.

"I understand your past birthdays have not always been the most pleasant," he agreed, pulling me closer into him. "But I assure you, this one will be spectacular. Please trust me, Beau. And try to enjoy yourself. This may be the last human birthday you ever have."

At that I smiled. "I'm counting on that." I kissed him quickly, before he had time to rebuff my hope. "You should get going, you have to be back in an hour to pick me up."

Edward nodded, kissing me once more, gently caressing my face, before leaving through the window, faster than anyone could see.

I braced myself from what I knew awaited me just outside my room. I threw the comforter and sheets from off me, walked towards my dresser and taking out a pair of sweat short to slide on top of my underwear. My hand stuck to the old iron doorknob. I took in a deep breath, and then opened the door. Hanging along the top of the doorframe were shiny, thin strips of blue tassel. The smell of fresh coffee, bacon and french toast overwhelmed my olfactory senses. I sighed, cracking my neck on both sides, and stepping into the character I knew I would need to play throughout the day.

A perfect smile was on my face before I had even made it all the way down the stairs. I walked into the kitchen, where my mother was frantically working over the stove. She was already dressed for work. Prior to my permeant move here, my mother's life had been consumed by her desire to follow into the footsteps of the grandfather I'd never met, eventually leading her to become police chief of the town of Forks. Since I'd arrived, she had started to discover the right work-life balance for her too finally reap the benefits of her years of sacrifice and handwork. She had become lighter, younger almost, since I'd arrived, finding joy where there had previously been none. Of course, her very dedicated relationship with Sean Clearwater, a Quileute Elder, had certainly added to her happiness.

I leaned against the doorway of the kitchen, crossing my arms over my chest, as I watched her fuss about the food on the stove.

"Need some help, there?" I asked with a sly grin on my face. My mother jumped, startled, not having heard me come down the stairs. When she turned she was beaming. She removed the pan from the burner, approaching me with her arms open and a bright smile on her face. She wrapped me tightly in her arms, shaking me gently.

"Happy Birthday," she nearly sang. My smile was more genuine now, it was difficult to not be happy and comfortable around my mother—generally her good moods had a positive sway on my own.

"Thanks, Mom." She relinquished me from her grasp, and moved to the other side of the kitchen, returning with three wrapped boxes in her hand. I gave her a disbarring glance. "I thought we'd discussed this, no presents."

"You discussed, I didn't listen," she retorted, placing the presents on top of the small kitchen table. I narrowed my eyes at her as I sat. "The top one is from me, the other two are from your father and Loretta," she explained as she fixed me a plate for breakfast.

I nodded. Might as well get this over with. I placed my mother's present towards my left, saving it for last. As I began to undo the shinny black wrapping paper, my mother placed a full plate of French Toast smothered in butter and syrup, scrambled eggs, fresh strawberries, and crisped bacon beside me. I had opened my father's gift first, sure it would be the hardest to pretend to like. I had been surprised when I opened the plain box that contained the gift. Inside, beneath a thin, sheer coating of tissue paper, was a beautiful sapphire knitted sweater. I grabbed the sweater appreciatively. It was the exact shade of blue that Edward was so fond on me.

Edward and I had gone to Westernville, California for two weeks in the summer to visit my father and his new family. Edward had explained a recent, none contagious skin condition that require oral antibiotics, making him extremely sensitive to direct sun. He'd stayed inside during the daytime, like a real vampire, joining us for dinners and movies at night. During the visit, my father had noticed my rather drastic change in wardrobe. When I had moved here from Arizona, I had taken to wear mostly black, but as I'd settled, made real friends, and began dating Edward, I had grown to incorporate more blues, purples and whites into my clothing selection.

The next present, from Loretta, was a set of professional grade watercolor pan paints. I had finally gotten back into my favorite hobby of painting once school had let out for the summer. I had dozens of paintings, of the various floral and fauna that I had seen throughout Forks or in Edward and I'd meadow. I had tried, on several occasions, to attempt creating a painted image of Edward, but I was never able to get close to replicating his splendor or beauty.

My mother sat beside, with wide, excited eyes, the same shade of mocha brown as mine, waiting for me to open her gift. I gave her a playful smile, turning my focus to the meal she had made. All of it, exceptionally well done, she had certainly learned a thing or two from me in the time that I had been living with her.

"This is delicious, Mom. Thank you," I said in between bites. She knew I was teasing. She smacked my hand playfully with her fork.

"Would you open my present please—I do have to get to work."

"I'm enjoying my birthday breakfast at the moment," I said taking another large bite of French Toast. "Besides, it's my birthday, don't I get to make up the rules?"

"If you remember it's your eighteenth birthday, which means it's no longer child abuse if I whoop you upside the head." She smiled playfully at me. I waved my hands as though I were afraid.

Not wanting to sully the fun moment, I picked up my mother's present. It was smaller than my father's and Loretta's had been, but heavy. I began to grow concerned. My mother rested her hands underneath her chin. I unwrapped the gift hesitantly. My hands began shaking when I noticed the familiar white box that was beneath the wrappings. It was the newest iPhone, the big one, in Rose Gold.

"Mom," I uttered in shock as I stared at the gift.

"Do you like it? I know you're a big fan of Apple."

"It's too much," I said looking at her, stunned but smiling.

"You only turn eighteen once, Sweetie. This is a big birthday—you're an adult now."

I laughed. "I can go to war, but I can't have a drink. I'm hardly a 'real' adult." We both laughed. "Thanks Mom, I love it. Really." I reached around to where she sat and hugged her. She patted the back of my head and kissed my cheek.

"You should just be able to transfer everything on your old phone to that one, at least that's what the guy at the store told me."

"I'll figure it out," I said still smiling, looking back at the gift.

"Hurry up and finish breakfast, Prince Charming will be here to whisk you away soon."

I rolled my eyes, but nodded my head. "Have a good day at work, Mom. Thank you. For breakfast and the phone, you really didn't need to do it."

"No, but I wanted to," she responded as she got up from her chair, shoving the last bit of food into her mouth before leaving the plate to soak in the sink. "Oh," she said snapping her fingers. "Don't forget Sean and I are taking you out for dinner before—," she cut herself off, realizing she'd nearly gave away what was supposed to be a surprise.

"Before what?" I asked suspiciously.

"I'm going to be late," she said, rushing towards the front door.

"Before what, Ma," I called back out, turning in my chair to look at her.

"Have a great day at school, Sweetie. Happy Birthday." She was out of the door before I could further question her.

"Shady Pines, Ma," I yelled out. Before what? I'd know about dinner, but that was all. What was happening after? Damn. I'd hoped that she and Sean weren't planning some surprise party. I wasn't sure I could take it.

And once I was alone, the wretched nightmare from the previous night rushed back into the forefront of my mind. The image of myself, so much older, withering away like a rose left in the burning sun plagued me. When I went to brush my teeth, I was honestly relieved that the face in the mirror hadn't changed. I analyzed my reflecting with scrutinizing eyes, looking for some sign of impending wrinkles on my ivory skin. The only creases were the ones on my forehead, though, and I knew that if I could manage to relax, they would disappear. I couldn't. My eyebrows stayed lodged in a worried line over my anxious brown eyes.

It was just a dream, I reminded myself again. Just a nightmare…a terrifying manifestation of my deepest fears.

I struggled to compose myself as I dressed for the day, not wanting to Edward to worry anymore than I was sure he already was. He was there, leaning against the passenger side of his bright, shimmering silver Volvo. His eyes were on me, bright gleaming pools of liquid topaz. In them I saw only devotion and love. His arms were held up at his sides, waiting for my embrace. Even after half-a-year with him, I still struggled to believe someone as wonderful, intelligent, kind and marvelous was for me. I rushed, unassumingly, to him after locking the door. He gripped me in his iron grasp, twirling me around as though it were nothing, despite our obvious height difference; I had grown two inches over the summer, now standing at a staggering six-foot-five-inches.

He kissed me tenderly on the lips, smiling into it.

"Well, it appears that Birthday Boy seems to be in a much more pleasant mood," he commented. I smack him on the arm playfully, he feigned a pained reaction.

"Ow," he said lightly. He smiled again, and set me down on the sidewalk before opening the door for me. He was in his seat before I had even started wrapping my seatbelt around my chest. His car's radio began playing the playlist him and I had created before school had let out, composed of each of our individual songs, love ballads of Broadway, songs that made us each think of the other, and of course the best love songs by Disney. Edward began singing along, his siren singing far outshining the vocals of the original singer.

"I know you—you're…you're shivering," he sang expectingly while looking at me.

"It's nothing they turned off my heat, and I'm just a little weak on my feet," I sang back to him, "would you light my candle? What are you staring at?"

"Nothing, your hair in the moonlight. It looks familiar—can you make it?" Edward began shifting his body and face as though he were acting in the production himself.

"Just haven't eaten much today, at least the room stop spinning anyway," I continued, playing along with him. My anxiety over the dream was gone; I was too caught up in the Edward and I'd little bubble of fun to have the ability to worry. We made it to the school parking lot by the time the song had ended—still he always drove like a madman, fortunately I had grown accustomed to it.

The parking lot was crowded, students gathered around their cars chatting away before the warning bell would ring. The ogles Edward and I had received in the first months of our relationship had disappeared, the student body now accustomed to the fact that I was the blessed one to have caught the eye of the elusive and desired Edward Cullen. Edward opened my door for me, holding out his awaiting hand. I wrapped my right hand around his, and let him hoist me from the seat.

His sister Alice was standing across from where we had parked, leaning against her own black BMW, just as ostentatious as Rosalie's red convertible had been. She waved erratically at us, nearly skipping as she approached. Of course Edward and Alice weren't biologically related (in Forks the story was that all the Cullen siblings were adopted by Dr. Carlisle Culler and his wife, Esme, both plainly too young to have teenage children), but their skin was precisely the same pale shade, their eyes had the same strange golden tint, with the same deep, bruise-like shadows beneath them. Her face, like his, was also startlingly beautiful. To someone in the know—someone like me—these similarities marked them for what they were. More than that, they loved one another, just as much as any pair of biological siblings who had grown up together since birth. All of the Cullen children did, sometimes even fighting as siblings would be expected to. In the time I had spent with them all at Edward's house, I could feel how real and tangible their love for one another was—their bond forged out of a desire to discover peace and harmony that often evaded others of their kind.

The sight of Alice skipping toward me—her tawny eyes brilliant with excitement, and a small silver-wrapped square in her hands—made me laugh. I'd told Alice I didn't want anything, anything, not gifts or even attention, for my birthday. Obviously, my wishes were being ignored. But like my mother, it was near impossible to ever be cross with her—even without the supernatural gift of emotional manipulation of her husband, Jasper.

She wrapped her arms around me, instinctively I did the same, twirling her about. I put her back onto her feet, looking down at her pixie-like face.

"Happy birthday, Beau," she sang, holding out the shiny package in her hands.

"Louder, Alice, I don't think the city of Manhattan heard you," I said glancing around—awaiting the on cry of "happy birthdays," from my peers. None too excited for many more reminders of the dreaded day.

She scowled at me.

I groaned, then moved my fingers through the shinny wrapping paper. At first all I saw was a plain white gift box. I opened it tentatively—inside, placed on top of soft cotton wraps, was an old, iron antiqued key attached to a silver ring.

"It's a skeleton key," Alice explained, "Mother found it during the initial renovations of our house. I know how much you appreciate Victorian architecture and history, and I thought it would make a nice keychain."

I smiled as I picked up the key, examining it in the light.

"Alice, thank you. I really love it—homemade gifts are the best kind."

"I saw that you'd have no issue with this present."

"Of course you did," I said rolling my eyes. Alice was incredibly gifted, just as Edward was, though she could not read the thoughts of others as her brother did, she was able to see the future. Granted, her visions were subjective to change, she could only see the future as the person she was looking for decided in the moment, if said person were to change their minds, the vision would change, if not disappear altogether.

"Did you like the art supplies and sweater your father and step-mother sent you?" she asked. "What about your new phone?"

"I don't know, Alice, why don't you tell me?" Of course, she would have seen those as well.

She smiled. "You loved them, and were very touch. Especially the gift you got from your mother."

"I do. They're all very nice."

"Where's your new phone?" Edward inquired.

"At home still, I didn't have the time to begin transferring everything from my old phone this morning," I explained.

"I'll help you with that this afternoon."

Alice looked at her brother curiously. "Why haven't you given him your present yet?"

Edward shot her an annoyed look. "Thanks, Alice," he said in between his teeth.

My head turned to look down at Edward, eyebrows raised. "So, just like my mother, you elected to get me a present after I asked you not to?" I smiled at his face scrunched up to one of guilt, his free hand scratching the back of his head.

"I love you," he offered sheepishly as a defense.

I shook my head, smiling as I placed a kiss on the top of his head. "I love you, too. And I'm feeling benevolent, so you're forgiven." He smiled up at me, leaning his head up, his lips expecting. I kissed him lightly.

"I'll give it to you later."

I sighed.

The warning bell sounded out, summoning us all towards the school buildings. We walked together, Edward and I'd arms wrapped around the other's waist.

"Why aren't you a fan of your birthday?" Alice asked as walked to class.

"Something bad always happens on my birthday," I explained in annoyance. "Without fail. I'll be surprised if a meteorite doesn't come crashing down on my head, or maybe another van will try to run over me."

Edward growled lightly.

"Oh lighten up," I ordered. Alice laughed, and the sound was all silver, a wind chime. "Well nothing bad is going to happen today. Edward and I will see to that," she promised, though I was still pessimistic. "Anything else you don't like about it?" I shot her daggers, but she smiled.

"Getting older kinda sucks," I said acidly."

Eighteen isn't very old," Alice said. "Don't women usually wait till they're twenty-nine to get upset over birthdays?"

"It's older than Edward," I mumbled.

He sighed.

Alice laughed. "Only very technically," she said, keeping her tone light. "Just by one little year, though."

And she was right—only in the most technical meaning was I now older than Edward. It shouldn't be that big of a deal. Dad was nearly fifteen years older than Loretta, Sean five years older than my mother. And technically, Edward was almost a hundred years older than I was now. And my future was nearly set in stone, it wouldn't be that much longer until I was a vampire. So what was wrong with there being a year or two age difference physically between us?

The when was the key. Edward wanted me to stay human for as long as possible, to have as many authentic human experiences as I could. I'd tried to explain, on multiple occasions, that I could still have those first human experiences, even as an immortal.

An impasse, he called it.

Even with his explanation, I struggled greatly to see Edward's point of view. What was so great about mortality, or normalcy? Being a vampire never seemed to be a terrible thing—not the way the Cullens did it, that is.

"What time will you be at the house?" Alice continued, changing the subject. From her expression, she was up to exactly the kind of thing I'd been hoping to avoid. The "before what," my mother had been talking about.

I cocked my head to the side, eyes narrowed. "I didn't know I had plans to be there."

"Oh, yeah, well about that," Alice begin to explain. "It's nothing large, or too grand. Edward made me promise—just you and all of us celebrating together."

"All of you?" I asked wearily. "I thought Em and Rosalie were—,"

"They're home, they wanted to be here."

"They," I asked questionably. I felt Edward tense at my side.

"Rosalie will be on her best behavior," Alice vowed. I nodded my head, unbelieving. "Edward will pick you up from your dinner with your mother and Sean," Alice further explained the details for the evening. "I'll be dropping off some new clothes at your place after school." Now that perked me up. I had learned a great deal more about fashion from Alice, her, Edward, Esme and I having gone on several shopping excursions over the course of the summer. I was eternally grateful for the upgrade to my wardrobe, though I felt guilty whenever Edward or Alice had to purchase the clothing for me. I looked down at Edward.

"Well, sounds like I've got a booked afternoon. You and I still haven't watched Romeo and Juliet yet for our English assignment."

Alice snorted. "Beau, I know you have the entirety of Romeo and Juliet memorized. Mr. Berty is always calling on you to read aloud in class."

"Ahh—yes, but, he also instructed us to watch the full performance, to help us better understand how the renowned William Shakespeare intended it to be appreciated."

"Weren't you Romeo in one of your old high school productions?"

"No, we did the musical version of The Tempest. I was Prospero.

"And you expect me to believe that you've not seen an actual production of the play," Edward asked smiling. I stuck my tongue at him.

"That's beside the point. I've not seen the nineteen-sixties rendition. Mr. Berty assures that's the best version."

Edward groaned. "You're not seriously going to make us watch that one, are you?"

I laughed. "Hell no. The Leonardo DiCaprio version is truly the best," I assured. Edward looked relived.

Edward and I were at our first class.

"Just have him over by seven," she instructed her brother. Edward suddenly got a very serious look on his face and saluted his sister.

"Ma'am yes ma'am" he said earning an eye roll from Alice. I laughed once more, kissing his cheek.

Alice began walking away. "See you tonight, Beau! It'll be fun, you'll see," she called over her shoulder.

No one bothered to stare at us as we took our usual seats in the back of the classroom. Fortunately, Edward and I had just about every class together now—it was amazing the favors Edward could still get the female administrators to do for him. Again, no one gawked. Even MaKayla Newton, who had at one time held misplaced romantic feelings for me, and hadn't supported my dating Edward, didn't bother to give me the glum stare that used to make me feel a little guilty. She smiled now instead, still very content in her relationship with Tom Chambers.

I was grateful, as the day progressed, that none of my human friends were aware that it was my birthday. During the quiet hours of class, I speculated as to what Edward had gotten me as a birthday gift. There had been a reason that I'd asked him not to get me anything, though I hadn't truly expected him to comply, just as I hadn't expected my parents to either. I prided myself on being a very good gift-giver, but I was self-aware enough to admit that I was a very poor gift-receiver. Part of that stemmed from that fact that I'd always felt guilty for receiving gifts, whether it were for birthdays or Christmas. My father had always made a fairly decent salary, and while we had not been, by any means, rich—we had more than we needed. Since I'd been a small child, I was aware of the inequality of the world. I knew that there had been children who, unlike me, did not go to sleep in their own rooms, in their own beds. That knowledge had cemented in me. And even at that young age, I knew that I'd rather give to others rather than take from them.

And that is why I'd asked for no gifts, especially from Edward. Edward, each of the Cullens, had a lot of money—I didn't even want to think what actual amount was—I was sure that it was too grand for my mind to even appreciate. Money meant nothing to them. It wasn't their fault, it was just another fact of their existence. Their fortune had so much to do with the fact that it had surmounted due in part to their unlimited time, and a sister and daughter who had the uncanny ability to predict trends in the stock market. Edward didn't seem to understand why I objected to him spending money on me—why it made me uncomfortable when he took me to an expensive restaurant in Seattle

I'd be perfectly content cooking for myself, or ordering pizza and watching a movie. He'd begged to know why I was adamant that he not buy me a car that could reach speeds of over two-hundred. He'd begged me to let him pay of college, hoping I would at least agree to one year of it before changing, and each time I'd tried to explain the guilt I felt over the thought of such gifts. I already had more than I'd needed, more than I knew that I'd wanted. I was beyond content. And what could I give him in return? He who could have the very best of what there was to have? There was nothing I could give him—save for my heart.

But I could feel the hurt each time I denied him the opportunity to give me something. And I recognized that had so much to do with how he had grown up while human. Traditional, old-fashioned rules of courtship were what he knew. And, though he claimed he remembered so little of his human life, I was sure he remembered the traditions of the time. Edward had been unable to court anyone while human. He swore he hadn't ever wanted to, because I had not yet been born. But I felt even more guilt at denying him such simple pleasures. And so, I resided with myself, that I would graciously accept what his gift would be. Relationships were about compromise after all.

As the day went on, neither Edward nor Alice brought my birthday up again, and I began to relax a little. We sat at our usual table for lunch. A strange sense of a truce had been established at the lunch table my human friends more frequently claimed. The three of us—Edward, Alice, and I—sat on the extreme southern end of the table, though. Now that the "older" and somewhat more intimidating Cullen siblings had graduated, though how anyone could find Emmett intimidating was beyond me, beneath the mighty muscles was only a teddy bear, too found of practical jokes and good humor to ever be frightening, Alice and Edward did not seem quite so unapproachable. My mortal friends, MaKayla, Luke, Ben, Erica, along with my two human best friends, Jessica and Angela, Conner, Tyler, and Lauren (the last three did not quantify as friends, rather they best fit in the term "frenemy") all sat at the same table, on the other side of an invisible line. That line dissolved on sunny days when Edward and Alice always skipped school, and then the conversation would swell out effortlessly to include me.

Edward and Alice didn't find the minor ostracism odd or hurtful the way I did. I was quite indignant that my human friends still had not warmed up to Edward or Alice the way I so easily had—why it was so difficult was beyond me. My boyfriend and his sister barely noticed. Edward had explained once before that most humans always felt strangely ill at ease when they were around the Cullens, almost afraid for some reason they couldn't explain for themselves. I was the extremely outlier to that rule. Once, so long ago it seemed, that fact had bothered Edward, how comfortable I was around him and his family. As the summer had progressed, I slowly felt is uncomfortability dwindle to something of peace. Now, the Cullens' Victorian manor, was merely my second home.

The afternoon passed quickly. School ended, and Edward walked me to his car. Always the gentleman, he held the door open for me, guiding me to the seat. He was always grateful that I'd let him drive me to and from school. He loathed having to ever ride or drive my truck, The Thing, I had named it—a testament to classic Chevys. The playlist from this morning resumed and we continued with the same goofy acting and singing we'd had earlier. Edward parked in his usual spot in front of the house. He reached over to take my face in his hands. He handled me very carefully, he stroked the backs of his fingers softly against my flushed cheeks, before moving to my jawline. He had once held me so carefully, as though I were a doll made of fine China, easily breakable. But after he had saved me from the tracker, once he finally stopped listening to Hyde, he'd found the strength to hold me in the same manner as though he were human.

"Did you have a good day, my Love?" he asked as he cocked his head to look at me lovingly. I felt the blush in my face growing deeper.

"Everyday spent with you is a wonderful day, my Darling," I responded, taking his right hand in mine. He leaned in closer, pressing his blissful, addicting lips to mine. He kissed me, fiercely, passionately, as if our time were running out. I was still unused to this—always having to remind myself to breathe. This tongue ran across my lips, my mouth opened, inviting it in further. He smiled into the kiss—entangling one of his hands strongly in the back of my hair. A low growl escaped from my throat—always I longed for more of him.

We continued to make out in his car, until the windows grew foggy. Finally, he pulled away, panting. I was catching my breath, smiling, very smitten.

"Perhaps we," I started between breaths, gazing at the fogged windows, "should take this somewhere more comfortable?"

"Whatever the Birthday Boy wishes," Edward breathed. The passenger side door was open before I realized. Edward hastily unbuckled me from the car, carrying me to my front door bridal style, my laugher echoing throughout the trees and few houses that were left on the street.

With a precision and speed that still baffled me, Edward plucked the spare key hidden under the eve and unlocked the door before I could feel any jolt in his movements. We were on the couch in the next instant. I felt his body shuffle as his lips attacked mine, freezing skin altered me that his shirt was off. I moaned as my hands danced around the bare skin of his back.

Edward began to kiss me, right between the bottom of my ear and neck; the spot I was most sensitive to. My hands scratched evidentlessly down his back, clutching his backside, pulling him closer to me. His response was immediate. I felt my arms raise above my head, the sheer fabric of my shirt nearly torn off. My body reacted pleasingly to the frigidness of his as our chests fell against one another. His lips trailed from the base of jaw downward, trailing to my collarbones, then chest, moving steadily downward. I gripped the pillows that decorated the couch as he moved down to my stomach, my arosual growing more and more obvious beneath my jeans. Somewhere, my brain recognized the pleasing sound of Edward's prideful laugh.

I moved, pushing his hips deeper into mine, feeling his own arosual. I leaned up, kissing his lips, jaw and neck, before forcing him to sit up as to kiss each plane of his perfect chest and stomach. I growled as I heard his own pleasing cry.

"Love," he moaned, gripping tightly on my hair.

"Darling," I returned. I felt his grip on my hair grow tighter as I continued kissing his body, until I felt him slowly loosen his grip. We'd reach the point of his tolerance. Knowingly, I forced my lips off of his cool skin, laying my head back on the sofa's pillow. I met Edward's eyes, he smiled guiltily.

"I know," I said comfortingly. "Go put your shirt on, we have a movie to watch." Edward nodded as he dismounted me. He returned to me, handing my shirt back as he put on his own.

When we were dressed Edward sprawled on top of me on his side on the couch while I started the movie, fast-forwarding through the opening credits, thankful that I'd already bought the movie years ago.

I wrapped my arms around him, pulling him as tight as I could into me—even with him pressed against me as close as possible, there was still somehow, too much space between us. His cold, marble like body had somehow never felt uncomfortable to me—it was a pleasant chilling thrill that excited each nerve in my body.

The movie began, but as soon as it started, we began quoting the lines as the characters spoke them.

"You know, I've never had much patience with Romeo," he commented as the movie went on.

"What's wrong with Romeo?" I asked, a little offended. "You've been quoting all his lines." Romeo was one of my favorite fictional characters. Until I'd met Edward, I'd sort of had a thing for him, especially Leo's version…

"Well, first of all, he's in love with this Rosaline—don't you think it makes him seem a little fickle?"

Ahh, like how your father had'd hoped you fall for Rosalie, I thought to myself.

"And then, a few minutes after their wedding, he kills Juliet's cousin. That's not very brilliant. Mistake after mistake. Could he have destroyed his own happiness any more thoroughly?"

I sighed, slapping his shoulder. "Do you want me to watch this alone?"

"No, I'll mostly be watching you, anyway." His fingers traced patterns across the skin of my arm, raising goose bumps. "You are the perfect, Juliet."

"Why am I always the female character?" I asked while laughing. "With Wicked I'm Elphaba, you're Fiyero, West Side Story I'm Maria and you're Tony, Rent I'm Mimi and your Rodger—Titanic I'm Rose and you're Jack."

"You are Elphaba," Edward purred as he pressed a kiss to my neck. "I've fallen completely and utterly under your spell."

Before I could say anything, he flung himself off of me, kneeling on the floor and shivering.

"'No, don't say your goodbyes, Beau. Don't you do it. Don't do it."

"I'm so cold," I responded, paying along, forcing my body to shiver.

"You're going to get out of this...you're going to go on and you're going to have babies and watch them grow and you're going to die an old man, warm in your bed. Not here...Not this night. Do you understand me?"

His words pierced me like a dagger. Old man…my own fear of his words penetrating the lines that came next.

"I can't feel my body."

"Never let go, Beau." Edward's word had meant to be playful, but he could not hide their true intent from me. I had always been able to read people, to feel their emotions as my own. And in that moment, I could feel the truth behind his words: never let go, Beau. A part of him, not quite as strong as the selfish part I pled to, longed for me to choose to remain human. He would never admit this aloud, never would he tell me that his true desire was that I decide to stay mortal, to wither and decay—for it was such a small part of him, but a part that screamed the loudest. It was the dreaded, detestable Hyde. The part of him that lied and schemed, that constantly told him he was a monster, that yelled that by being with me, he was endangering my life, that he was robbing me of the wonders of being human. I worked desperately with him, to help him silence that part of him, and ninety-percent of the time, it worked. But ever now and then Hyde would break through. Oh how I longed to silence that aspect of him for all eternity.

"I promise. I will never let go, Edward. I'll never let go." I replied, no longer playing along. I prayed that he could hear the sincerity in my voice. Why couldn't he read my mind? If he could, I knew Hyde would be silenced forever.

Edward, seemingly hearing the conviction in my words stood, his eyes momentarily clouded with guilt, returned to laying on my chest, in silence we watched the movie conclude.

The movie eventually captured my interest, thanks in large part to Edward's continued whispering of Romeo's lines in my ear—his irresistible, velvet voice made Leo's voice sound weak and coarse by comparison. And I did cry, to his amusement, when Juliet woke and found her new husband dead. I had continued quoting her lines.

"I'll admit, I do sort of envy him here," Edward said, drying the tears with a gentle caress of his finger tips.

"Well, I didn't think girls were your thing. But, I'll admit Claire is very beautiful."

He made a disgusted sound. "Love, I don't envy him over the her—just the ease of the suicide," he clarified in a teasing tone. "You humans have it so easy! All you have to do is throw down one tiny vial of plant extracts..."

My body rose from where it had laid, Edward rising in response.

"What?" I gasped.

"It's something I had to think about once, and I knew from my father's experience that it wouldn't be simple. I'm not even sure how many ways Dad tried to kill himself in the beginning... after he realized what he'd become..." His voice, which had grown serious, turned light again. "And he's clearly still in excellent health."

My mouth twisted into something that resembled a snarl. "What are you talking about?" I demanded. "What do you mean, this something you had to think about once?"

"Last spring, when you were... nearly killed..." He paused to take a deep breath, snuggling to return to his teasing tone, his face slightly apologetic. "Of course I was trying to focus on finding you alive, but part of my mind was making contingency plans. Like I said, it's not as easy for me as it is for a human."

For one second, the memory of my last trip to Phoenix washed through my head and made me feel dizzy. I could see it all so clearly—the blinding sun, the heat waves coming off the concrete as I ran with desperate haste to find the sadistic vampire who wanted to torture me to death. The tracker, waiting in the community theater of my youth with my mother, father and newborn baby brother as his hostages—or so I'd thought. I hadn't known it was all a ruse. Just as the tracker hadn't known that Edward was racing to save me; Edward rescued me in just the nick of time. Unthinkingly, my fingers traced the crescent-shaped scar on my hand that was always just a few degrees cooler than the rest of my skin.

I shook my head—as if I could shake away the traumatic memories—and tried to grasp what Edward meant. My stomach plunged uncomfortably. "Contingency plans?" I repeated.

"Well, I wasn't going to live without you." He rolled his eyes as if that fact were painfully obvious. "But I wasn't sure how to do it—I knew Emmett and Jasper would never help... so I was thinking maybe I would go to Italy and do something to provoke the Volturi."

I didn't want to believe he was serious, but his golden eyes were brooding, focused on something far away in the distance as he contemplated ways to end his own life. Abruptly, I was furious.

"The Volturi?" I demanded.

"The Volturi are a family," he explained, his eyes still remote. "A very old, very powerful family of our kind. They are the closest thing our world has to a royalty, I suppose. Dad lived with them briefly in his early years, in Italy, before he settled in America—do you remember the story?"

"Of course I remember."

I would never forget the first time I'd gone to his home, the huge white Victorian manor buried deep in the forest beside the river, or the room where Carlisle—Edward's father in so many real ways—kept a wall of paintings that illustrated his personal history. The most vivid, most wildly colorful canvas there, the largest, was from Carlisle's time in Italy. Of course I remembered the calm quartet of men, each with the exquisite face of a seraph, painted into the highest balcony overlooking the swirling mayhem of color. Though the painting was centuries old, Carlisle—the blond angel—remained unchanged.

And I remembered the three others, Carlisle's early acquaintances.

Edward had never used the name Volturi for the beautiful trio, two black-haired, one snow white. He'd called them Aro, Caius, and Marcus, nighttime patrons of the arts...

"Anyway, you don't irritate the Volturi," Edward went on, interrupting ray reverie. "Not unless you want to die—or whatever it is we do." His voice was so calm, it made him sound almost bored by the prospect.

My anger turned to horror. I took his marble face between my hands and held it very tightly.

"Edward Anthony Masen-Cullen," I said using his absolute full name, indicating how serious I was, "I never, ever, never want you to think of anything like that again!" I ordered. "No matter what might ever happen to me, you are not allowed to hurt yourself!"

"I'll never put you in danger again, and you'll be immortal soon enough, so it's a moot point."

"Put me in danger! I thought we'd established that all the bad luck is my fault?" I was getting angrier. "How dare you even think like that? I've told you, time and time again, Hyde is a liar. You've never put me in danger. I've always drawn danger towards me. Need I remind you of Alex and Jericho?"

Edward flinched in anger. Alex MaCoy and Jericho Melendez, the two human monsters who had nearly killed me my sophomore year of high school. I'd been unfortunate to walk in on them making out at the cast party of The Tempest. They'd lured me to the school theater, under the guise of concern for outing them, where'd they'd nearly beaten me to death. They'd gotten away with it for sometime, Alex's father being a high profile defense attorney—working alongside with a corrupt judge with whom he'd won many cases, had gotten my assaults off. I had been painted as the predator, but after the tracker's attack, the Cullen (through illegal discovery) had found evidence of the truth. The one Cullen who I was sure wanted me dead, Rosalie, had hand delivered the evidence to the Phoenix DA—each member of the guilty party had been arrested, and were currently awaiting trial.

The idea of Edward ceasing to exist, even if I were dead, was impossibly painful. Especially at my own pitiful expense.

"What would you do, if the situation were reversed?" he asked.

I paused, the though having occurred to me during his hunt for the tracker. I knew what I'd have done—I who had been so willing to meet Death in exchange for the lives of those I loved. "That's not the same thing."

He didn't seem to understand the difference. He chuckled.

"What if something did happen to you?" I blanched at the thought. "Would you want me to go kill myself?"

A trace of pain touched his perfect features. "I guess I see your point... a little," he admitted. "But what would I do without you?"

"I don't know? Whatever you were doing before I came along and complicated your existence."

He sighed. "You make that sound so easy. After all this time—how do you not still see yourself the way I do? I've told you, Beaufort Montgomery Swan, you've altered me in ways that cannot be reversed. I've never know a love like this until you."

"Going on without me shouldn't be too difficult," I replied, blushing and not totally believing his words. 'I'm not really not all that interesting."

He was about to argue, but then he let it go. "Moot point," he reminded me, bopping my nose. "You'll be one of the undead before you know it." Abruptly, he pulled himself up into a more formal posture, shifting me to the side so that we were no longer touching.

"Mom?" I guessed.

Edward smiled. After a moment, I heard the sound of the police cruiser pulling into the driveway. I reached out and took his hand firmly. My mother could deal with that much. She about nearly jumped with as much joy as Edward's mother had whenever she saw us together. It made her happy to see me so happy. She was a better mom than I deserved.

My mom entered the home with a smile, always so happy to see Edward.

"Hey, Edward," she greeted as she undid her high ponytail and unhooked her gun belt.

"I'm here, too,"I reminded her.

"How was y'all's day at school?"

"Wonderful, Charley," Edward answered, smiling up at my mother. I swore I heard her breath catch in her throat. My mother adored Edward, he was welcome anytime, though she was painfully unaware that he spent nearly every night wrapped in my arms in my bed. My mother entered the living room, ruffling both my hair and Edward's before taking a seat in her chair.

"Will you be joining us for dinner, Edward?" she asked.

"No, ma'am," Edward answered too politely. "Alice needs help setting up."

My mother looked at me knowingly. "Ahh, so he knows?" she asked as though I weren't in the room. I scoffed. Edward laughed.

"I thought it would be best to warn him."

"Probably for the best. Wouldn't want him to faint at his own party," my mother responded smiling at me.

"Shady Pines, Ma," I cried out. She ignored me, as usual. Edward's lyrical laugher grew louder.

"Precisely. Are you sure you and Sean can't join us?"

"Beau would murder us. And he's watched enough true crime documentaries to get away with it," my mother responded.

I groaned, my growing embarrassment accumulating. Edward removed himself from where he sat, pretending to stretch his body.

"I should be heading out," he said in a sigh. I looked at him painfully, concealing the puppy dog face from my mother.

"Already," I sighed.

"I'll see you later," he responded with a smile. I pushed myself from off the couch, our bodies close together, me standing above him. From the corner of my eye I saw my mother analyzing our stance.

"I'll walk you to your car," I responded extending my elbow to him. Edward wrapped his arm around the crook of mine.

"How kind," he said with a smile.

My mother laughed. "Tell Esme I say 'hi,'" she ordered. Edward nodded his head.

"Yes ma'am."

My mother waved a goodbye to Edward as I escorted him to the doorway. I walked Edward towards his car, jumping at the chance to be th classic gentleman. I opened the driver side door to his car, smiling. He smiled and kissed me.

"Have fun at dinner," he instructed. I rolled my eyes.

"I'm sure it will be riveting."

"You may be surprised," he answered, I could hear the tone of knowing in his voice.

"What do you know that I don't?" I asked accusingly.

Edward smiled his crooked smile, shrugging his shoulders. "I've the faintest idea what you're talking about," he replied.

"You wanna spend the night alone for two weeks?" I challenged. His eyes widened for a moment, before returning to normal.

"You wouldn't," he smiled, calling my bluff.

"Try me," I smirked.

Edward gazed at me for a moment, his lips curling in on themselves. I could feel his internal battle, on whether or not to allude me in on what he already knew. Edward, to me at least, was too easy to read. I had always been able to read people, to sense what they concealed behind their actions, but Edward was my open book. I could read each emotion, understand every thought, could conclude his every motivation and emotion.

"Sean is going to ask my what my thoughts are on him proposing to my mother, isn't he?" I asked with a knowing smile.

Edward looked at me in bewilderment. "How'd you…are you sure you can't read my mind?"

"No," I answered with a laugh. "But you know I can read you. Besides, Sean has been less relaxed when he's been over. I can read him too."

"You're going to be an interesting immortal," Edward murmured.

"Oh, you think I'll get a superpower too?" I answered while wrapping my arms around him, pulling him into me.

He nodded. "Yes. You're almost as in tune to people as Jasper is. I wonder if your powers will be the same?"

"Wonderful," I laughed. "I'll be able to roofie people's minds."

He laughed at my words, nodding. I kissed him, sweetly.

"I'll see you later," I said after the kiss.

"Not soon enough, my Love."

I kissed him again, closing his car's door only after he was seated. I waved at him through the window as he drove away, standing on the side of the road until his car vanished.

Dinner with my mother and Sean had been very nice. They'd taken me to the nicest restaurant in town, The Lodge. It wasn't by any means fine dining, but it was as close as one could get in Forks. Throughout dinner, Sean had looked over at my mother multiple times. It was impossible to deny how much he loved her. His eyes swelled at the sight of her. He looked, to me at least, so similar to Edward when he looked at me. It was clear that her loved her, and I was sure in a way that my father had unable to love her. The way her looked at her…how could I ever deny him a blessing?

It had been when my mother had excused herself to the bathroom when Sean had turned to me. His brown eyes filled with trepidation. He opened his mouth, his voice caught in his throat.

"Yes," I'd said with a smile. Sean gaped at me, unsure, shaking his head. "I give you my blessing. And I'm sure she'll say 'yes'."

"How did—,"

"You've been easy to read," I offered as an explanation. "And I'm very excited for you to join our family. You make my mom happy. And for that I am grateful. Just don't hurt her," I warned with a smile as I took a sip from my diet soda.

Sean laughed, relieved. "I won't let you down, Pititchu. I love her. And I love you, I'm sorry if that sounds weird—but I think of you as one of mine, Beau."

"That doesn't sound weird," I encouraged. "It sounds right."

Sean sighed, relived.

"And thank you," I said, taking another sip of my drink. Sean looked at me confused.

"For what?"

"For keeping the secret. I've never told you that. But it means a lot, and your support."

Sean nodded knowingly. "The Cullens are not the monsters my people make them out to be."

"And yet, they do. But you, you choose to see them as they are." I said raising my glass to him.

"And as you will be," he responded knowingly. I wondered how long he had know that'd been my plan.

My mother returned, smiling. "What are you boys talking about?"

Sean provided her a promising lie, and our dinner continued without incident. I had been presented by the waitstaff with a small cupcake with a star shaped candle. I closed my eyes, and thought of my wish: I wish for Edward to love himself the way I do, and then blew the flame out.

Once the dinner concluded, I hugged my mother, thanking her again for a wonderful birthday. I hugged Sean next, whispering in his ear that I was glad he'd entered our lives. Edward's car was waiting for me. My mother wished me a happy night.

Edward drove north through Forks, uncaring for the law's speed limits.

"Can you do me a favor?" He asked as we turned into the three mile driveway of his home.

"That depends on what it is."

He smiled, his lovely face serious. "Love, the last real birthday any of us had was Emmett's in 1935. Cut us a little slack, and don't be too difficult tonight. They're all very excited."

"I promise to not be difficult. I'm touched, that they would even care about this."

"Of course they care," he answered. It always startled me a little when he brought up things like that. "You're apart of the family. They love you. Just not as much as I do."

"I'd hope," I laughed. Until this morning, I had been under the assumption that Emmett and Rosalie, just as the rest of Forks was under the impression, that the older Cullens had gone off to college this year, to Dartmouth; only I had been made privy to the truth."Everyone?" I choked.

"Alice and I'd promised, Rosalie will be on her best behavior."

I felt horribly guilty about the present situation, guessing that Rosalie and Emmett's prolonged absence was my fault, despite how hard she'd tired to bare my existence.

We were pulling up to the house now. Bright light shined from every window on the first two floors of the glorious three story Victorian manor. A long line of glowing Japanese lanterns hung from the porch eaves, reflecting a soft radiance on the huge cedars that surrounded the house. Big bowls of flowers—lavender and white roses—lined the wide stairs up to the front doors.

I could not help but smile.

As he parked the car Edward took a few deep breaths to calm himself. He was nervous, apprehensive. He looked towards me, his topaz eyes glistening.

"I know you said no presents," he began, looking ashamed.

"And I know you've already gotten me one," I answered back scowling playfully.

He nodded, looking down at his lap. "It's more sentimental than anything," he began, "just something to act as a physical manifestation of my love for you."

"You didn't need to get me anything to show that," I told him.

He smiled. "I know. But I wanted to. Promise you won't laugh," he begged.

"I wouldn't dream of it," I promised.

He was at the passenger side door before I could blink, opening it for me. His waiting hand extended as an invitation for me to grab it. I wrapped my hand around his and let him pull me from the seat. He held my hands in his, his eyes looking up at me, innocently and exposed, and then his hands were resting on either side of my face for a moment more.

He moved away from me, walking towards the back seat of his car and opening it. He reached in, and when he returned her held a large package, wrapped in black matte paper. He held it out to me, his face unsure.

"You'll need to be careful opening it," he warned.

Ahh something fragile.

I nodded, taking the gift, heavier than I'd hopped, from his heads and placing it on the hood of the car. I saw Edward looking at me expectingly, apprehensively, nervous and exposed. I tore the black paper open, finding a white gift box similar to the one Alice's gift had been in, only taller.

I did not look at Edward, forcing my eyes to focus on only what was in front of me. I lifted the lid of the box, and peered inside. I felt my breath catch in my throat. In the box, the lights from the Cullen house and the decorations that alined them, clearly illumining the gift that was housed inside. It was a rose, its stem and the edges of each of the petals coated in a coat of sheer gold, its burgundy petals left perfectly brilliant. It was encased in a sealed bell jar. I lifted it from out of the box, In the glimmering light, I examined it further, the gold sparkling in the light. I noticed, engraved in golden letters on the base of the wooden stand the bell jar was sealed to were the words, "For who could ever learn to love a beast."

I turned my eyes away from the rose, glistening wet with tears.

"Darling," I gasped.

"It's a Forever Rose. I know how much you love Beauty and the Beast. I wanted you to have your own enchanted rose, to remind you of how you have enchanted me—to remind you how you saved me from my own curse."

I sat the rose and jar on the hood of the car. I gripped either side of his head with my hands, pressing my forehead to his. I kissed his lips.

"This is the best gift, next to having you, that I've ever received," I whispered. A part of me barely registered that his body shifted slightly.

Suddenly a familiar tone began to play. He ripped himself from me, placing his phone next to the rose on the hood of his car. Edward looked at me coyly. "May I have this dance," he asked, bowing.

I smiled, bowing in return. Edward embraced me, placing one hand on my hip, the other in my hand that he held upward. I mimicked him.

"Tale as old as time," the song began to play as our waltz began. Under the brilliant moon and stars above, Edward and I moved gracefully. I followed his lead, twisting and turning as his dance called for. I did not care that this family, with their added abilities could hear, could see, only that for now it was him and I, dancing in the dark twilight of night. The song continued, our waltz playing out in similar fashion to the one animated in the movie. Edward gripped me, raising me off my feet, twirling me around. My eyes refusing to leave his brilliant face as he waltzed me around.

"Tale as old as time," Edward sang along to the song.

"Song as old as rhyme," I sang back.

"Beauty and the Beast," we sang together.

As the song concluded, we kissed, tenderly, smiling into it.

Edward pulled my head down to rest on his forehead. "They're waiting for us."

"Let them wait," I answered. Edward shook his head.

"They'll come out here."

I groaned but receded.

He held my waist as he led me to the door. They were all waiting in the huge white living room; when I walked through the door, they greeted me with a loud chorus of "Happy birthday, Beau!" while I blushed and looked down. Alice, I assumed, had covered every flat surface with red candles and dozens of crystal bowls filled with hundreds of roses. There was a table with a white cloth draped over it next to Edward's grand piano, holding a black birthday cake, more roses, a stack of glass plates, and a small pile of silver-wrapped presents.

It was a hundred times worse than I'd imagined, and yet, all the more sweet. I could not help but be immensely touched and grateful that they'd gone through all this trouble for just me. Edward, sensing my self consciousness, kept his arm wrapped around my waist encouragingly, leaning up to kiss my cheek. Edward's parents, Carlisle and Esme—impossibly youthful and lovely as ever—were the closest to the door.

Esme hugged me carefully, her soft, caramel-colored hair brushing against my shoulder as she leaned up to place a kiss on my other cheek.

"Happy Birthday, my sweet Beau," she whispered. I hugged her back. Carlisle ruffled my hair, smiling.

"Sorry about this, Beau," he stage-whispered. "We couldn't rein Alice in."

"Oh I'm sure you couldn't," I responded with a light chuckle.

Rosalie and Emmett stood behind them. Rosalie tried to smile, but like the last time, she looked as though the gesture caused her pain. Emmett's face was stretched into a huge, honest grin. It had been a month since I'd seen them; I'd forgotten how gloriously beautiful Rosalie was—still it caused me pain to look at her. But Emmett, the lovable teddy bear that I remembered waited expectingly.

"Don't you have a hug for your favorite big brother?" He asked, arms outstretched. I tore myself away from Edward and Esme's grasps, moving to embrace Emmett. He returned the hug, twirling me around in the air, laughing "You haven't changed at all," he said with mock disappointment. "I expected a perceptible difference, but here you are, red-faced just like always."

"I've missed you too, Emmett," I said, blushing deeper.

He laughed, "I'll miss making you blush once you're one of us. It's too easy. Have you fallen down recently?"

I slapped his arm, hurting my hand as he let me down. "No, thankfully."

"Promise me you won't do anything funny whenever I'm gone."

"I'll do my best."

Alice let go of Jasper's hand and skipped forward, all her teeth sparkling in the bright light. Jasper smiled, too, but kept his distance. He leaned, long and blond, against the post at the foot of the stairs. During the days we'd had to spend cooped up together in Phoenix, I'd thought he'd gotten over his aversion to me. But he'd gone back to exactly how he'd acted before—avoiding me as much as possible—the moment he was free from that temporary obligation to protect me. I knew it wasn't personal, just a precaution, and I tried not to be overly sensitive about it. Jasper had more trouble sticking to the Cullens' diet than the rest of them; the scent of human blood was much harder for him to resist than the others—he hadn't been trying as long.

"Time to open presents," Alice declared. She put her cool hands in mine and towed me to the table with the cake and the shiny packages.

I put on my best martyr face. "Alice, I know I told you I didn't want anything—"

"But we didn't listen," she interrupted, smug. "Open it." She took my hands from here, replacing them with a big, square silver box.

The box was so light that it felt empty. The tag on top said that it was from Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper. Self-consciously, I tore the paper off and then stared at the box it concealed. It was something electrical, with lots of numbers in the name. I opened the box, hoping for further illumination. But the box was empty.

"Um... thanks What is it?."

Rosalie actually laughed, the sound hypnotic. Jasper laughed as well. "It's a stereo for your truck," he explained. "Emmett's already installed it so you can't return it."

Alice was always one step ahead of me. "Thank you, I appreciate it. Lord knows The Thing needed one," I told them, grinning as I remembered Edward's complaints about my radio all summer—all a setup, apparently.

"Open mine and Mother and Father's next," Alice said, so excited her voice was a high-pitched trill. She held a small, flat square in her hand.

I turned to give Edward's parents a kind smile. "You two shouldn't have."

"But we wanted to," Esme answered, her voice ringing with joy, "You've brought so much light into our lives. This isn't even enough to demonstrate my gratitude towards you."

I blushed, smiling as I looked down at the wrapped gift in my hand. I sighed. Emmett chuckled with delight.

I stuck my finger under the edge of the paper and jerked it under the tape.

I felt a sharp jab slice on my finger tip. "Shit," I muttered as I registered that the paper sliced my finger; I pulled it out to examine the damage. A single drop of blood oozed from the tiny cut. "Paper cut," I explained offhandedly.

It all happened very quickly then. "No!" Edward roared.

He threw himself at me, flinging me back across the table. I felt my body sore backwards through the air. I crashed against the wall and then the table, it fell, as I did, scattering the cake and the presents, the flowers and the plates. I landed in the mess of shattered crystal, my body only beginning to register the pain of the sharp jagged crystals wedged into my skin—blood began to pool around me, into the hardware floor. Jasper slammed into Edward, and the sound was like the crash of boulders in a rock slide. There was another noise, a grisly snarling that seemed to be coming from deep in Jasper's chest. Jasper tried to shove past Edward, snapping his teeth just inches from Edward's face.

Emmett grabbed Jasper from behind in the next second, locking him into his massive steel grip, but Jasper struggled on, his wild, empty eyes focused only on me.

Beyond the shock, the pain grew worse. I could feel the searing, during, stinging pain that ran from my waist to the crease inside my elbow.

Dazed and disoriented, I looked up from the bright red blood pulsing out of my arm—into the fevered eyes of the six suddenly ravenous vampires.