Foreword:

The Pandemic has made me super nostalgic (Stephanie Meyer's release of Midnight Sun didn't help). I find myself thinking sickness has made monsters of us all; in one way or another, we became something else other than what we were. I find myself dreaming of simpler, sillier times, where the worries were much smaller. I started writing this story over 10 years ago, inspired by the song "Monster" by Imagine Dragons, from which I would eventually steal its title. I revisited it in 2020 when something in my soul craved it. The story is set in a world with no Covid-19. The tone of writing may be inconsistent. I am not quite the same person at the end of this story, as I was at the beginning. It happens. I hope you enjoy it, I hope you are healthy, and I hope you embrace who you are.


Chapter 1: Common Courtesy

"Dr. Cullen?"

Carlisle looked up from his desk to see one of Forks General's nurses at his door.

"Jeff?"

"I'm on my way up to Psych, but Kathleen wanted you to know you have a call on line two. She's having trouble with keeping up with patients. Must be the full moon."

Carlisle smiled as Jeff left. Esme, he thought, feeling warmth flood through him. She called every night on his break, like clockwork. Why she chose tonight to call the hospital, instead of his cellphone, was something he'd just have to ask.

He picked up the phone.

"Sweetheart," he crooned.

Sharp laughter. "Oh, Carlisle, I had no idea…" A male voice, definitely not Esme, cooed in return. Carlisle nearly crushed the phone in surprise.

"Edward?"

"Sorry to disappoint."

Carlisle's heart leapt; he hadn't heard from his first born in almost a century. He'd often blamed himself for Edward's hasty departure and prayed for his son's safe return, but year after year, Edward remained away. Life moved on, even for immortals, and Carlisle couldn't spend forever praying for a son that apparently no longer needed a father. The realization that he'd never see Edward again had nearly killed him and now, hearing Edward's voice, he was dying to see his son again.

"Edward, where the hell have you been? Are you okay? How did you know where to… Are you here?"

"I've been traveling. I'm fine. I made a friend. We were passing through town and the storm chased us off the road and into the closest motel… I caught your scent passing through a school zone. I thought a courtesy call was in order."

"A courtesy call?" Carlisle's heart started to sink.

"I realize your family's grown… I didn't want anyone bothered by my presence. Don't worry, I'm not hunting here. I'm not staying. I'm just passing through."

"Come home." Carlisle's plea sounded desperate to his own ears. He tried to soften his desire. "Please, Esme would love to see you. You don't need to waste money at a motel. Come stay with my family… With your family."

"Carlisle, I don't think that's a very smart idea."

"I don't care if you're living more traditionally, Edward. It's been ninety three years. Surely you can give us a night out of your life?"

"It's not that-"

"If you're worried about meeting a group, don't… They'll all be welcoming, Edward. Esme's told them all about you, she misses you, I miss you-"

"I'm traveling with a human."

Carlisle frowned at the new information. Did that mean Edward was eating animals again? Or did he take his meals on the go?

"I don't feel comfortable about taking her into a house full of vampires."

Not a meal then.

"How much does she know?"

"Not enough to get me in trouble… More than enough to get herself in trouble."

Carlisle wasn't letting Edward get away so easily.

"I'll send everyone hunting. She'll be safe, Edward, I swear it. Don't tell me you're so close to us and we don't even get to see you…" Carlisle's voice caught in his throat. "I'm sorry… I am sorry for how we left things."

Edward flinched at the memory.

"That was never your fault. That was mine." He let out a sigh as he gave in. "You make sure the family's fed and we'll be there."

The phone disconnected. Carlisle stared vacantly at the receiver. He didn't even have time to give Edward directions to the new house; knowing Edward he'd already seen the new house in someone else's head. Carlisle set the phone down and wondered about the Human Her. Who was she? More importantly, who was she to him?

Carlisle's cell phone vibrated, roving across his desktop. He didn't look at the caller ID; what were the odds Edward would surprise him twice?

"Esme? You're never going to believe this…"


Edward rubbed his face with the palm of his hand. What the hell did I just agree to? Carlisle had sounded so… sad. He couldn't say no. He didn't want to put her at risk, but realistically speaking, Bella was hardly helpless. Besides, any room, even one with vampires in it, had to be safer than the dark hole where they were currently staying. Dingy wallpaper and dirty blankets and the faint scent of blood emitting from the carpet.

He leaned against the bathroom door and tried to concentrate on her smell, amplified by steam, masked in generic shampoo. Her sounds were muffled by the door, but quietly and uniquely her.

"Bella? How do you feel about a change of plans? I just called… I spoke to my father." There was a crash of plastic - bottles being tipped and a bar of soap skidded across a bathroom floor. "He wants us to stay at his place for the night, while we plan our next move. A real kitchen, clean beds, no neighbors…"

The door opened an inch. One towel was wrapped around her torso, her bare shoulders shining with dampness, another held her hair beehive-like on her head. His eyes searched her face, saw the confusion there, and didn't know how to explain himself.

"Your father?"

"Technically, we'd be staying with the whole family."

"Are you kidding me?"

"No."

Bella just stared, waiting for an explanation he wasn't willing to offer. Finally, she shrugged.

"Anything's better than this dump."

My thoughts exactly, Edward nodded.