AN: Wow, two updates within 6 days of each other….how responsible of me. I suppose reading NM boosted my motivation some.
So I know a few of you pointed out to me that I had a few canon contradictions in the chapter where Bella is changed (the color of her eyes, the fact that she was fed animal blood while changing, etc). I do plan to go back and fix these things, but I don't know when I will be able to, so forgive me. Please continue to let me know if you discover canon or continuity errors (as well as others)…there are a lot of details to keep up with when it comes to Stephenie Meyer's vampires, and I know will be making constant mistakes. So thanks. :)
And another huge thank you to all you wonderful reviewers! You've made a tough week much more pleasant. So thanks again.
The ride in the puddle jumper we took from Anchorage had more than its fair share of turbulence, but the staggering scenery below us was enough to distract me. It took some getting used to, the idea that even if this so-called plane hit the ground at top speed, I'd be able to walk away unscathed. So in spite of my newly acquired immortality, I still squeezed Edward's hand a little harder every time the plane gave a little shake.
"Look at those mountains," sighed Alice, who was sitting in the row behind us. I gazed down at the mountains with her, mesmerized by the snow-tipped peaks that stretched above the clouds below us.
"Fantastic," I agreed, pressing my nose against the plastic window in an effort to see more.
As I preoccupied myself with the landscape, I realized I was avoiding the questions I needed to ask Edward. He sat beside me peacefully, his golden-tipped lashes lightly brushing his white cheeks as he rested his eyes. The cold fingers of our hands laced together on the armrest, and I gave him a little squeeze.
"Mmm?" He replied, his eyes remaining closed.
I started with the question that had been nagging at me ever since I learned we were slipping away to Alaska. "Where we're going…will there be others? Like us, I mean?" For some reason, the word 'vampire' was still difficult to say, even now that I was one.
He set his amber eyes on me, his gaze reassuring. "Just us. It is true that there are covens here, because of the abundant darkness in the winter time, but most of them, but most of them are settled north of the Arctic Circle, where it is dark twenty-four hours a day. Besides, there are very few that follow our diet."
I absorbed this, admittedly relieved. The idea of living with strange vampires before I even knew how to be one myself did not appeal to me at all.
"Speaking of diets," I pressed on. "I haven't exactly felt…hungry yet. Is that – I mean – is that right?"
Edward nodded, brushing his lips over my knuckles. "Quite right. You'll be full of human blood for some time, so we won't need to worry about feeding you for a few weeks. You'll know when you're ready. It's unmistakable."
I accepted his answer with a nod, falling silent for a few moments before a new question crossed my mind. "Rosalie and Emmett – "
"Carlisle extended an invitation to her. Against my will, I'd like to add. So far, she is to ashamed to speak to any of us, but Emmett is with her."
After that, Edward's jaw went tense with anger, and I didn't try to ask any more questions.
Despite my misgivings, the plane landed safely as scheduled in a tiny local airport a few miles away from the house Carlisle had purchased. In spite of the fact that I had lived in Seattle for more than a year, Alaska was cold. It was not unexpected, of course, but I was surprised at how little it affected me. I lived for the searing dry heat of Arizona, but somehow the thirty-degree late October weather in Homer was now just as comfortable.
It took three cabs to haul the six of us and our belongings to our new home, as Carlisle had not arranged for the cars to be flown with us to Alaska. For the Cullens, it was easier to simply buy new ones.
I couldn't get over how absolutely stunning this town was. Despite its unassuming name, the more I saw the lower my jaw dropped. The road we took ran along the shore, allowing us a spectacular view. Massive snow-covered mountains distantly bordered the dark blue waters of the bay, and I was entirely captivated. There was something about the place that reassured me, that promised we would find happiness here.
"Oh, Edward," I murmured, giving his hard thigh a light squeeze. "It's incredible."
He smiled. "It is rather picturesque, isn't it?" he commented, his fingers idly stroking the nape of my neck. "We might have to go for a swim tomorrow. Carlisle says our new house comes with a private beach, and I want to see the sun on your skin."
"Swimming?" I hissed, lest the driver overhear. "Have you completely lost it?"
He glanced quickly at the cabby, then leaned over to whisper in my ear, "Not in the least. You forget that subzero water temperatures don't effect you anymore."
"Oh. Right," I muttered, pleased with the realization.
"Skinny-dipping, perhaps? I hear the cold does marvelous things to certain…bits."
I gasped, feeling the blood rush to my face. "Stop it! What has gotten into you?"
He eyed me slyly and leaned over to whisper again. "Do you know how badly I've longed to touch you without fear? I mean, as long as what's done is done, you can't possibly blame me for enjoying it…" He let his sentence trail off, his fingers tracing the shell of my ear and leaving me gaping at him.
"Behave yourself," I finally commanded, pretending rather unconvincingly to be offended.
He relented with a cocksure grin, and the remaining fifteen minutes to the house went by in his amused silence. I sat quietly, feeling a new, odd sort of thrill pulsing over me as I envisioned the bridle that held his ardor in check slipping away, leaving nothing but him, me, and whatever love held in store for us now. My frozen heart stirred at the idea.
A moment later the cabs turned off the paved road, and we traveled well into the woods, turning onto a stylishly cobbled driveway that led up to the main house, of which I could only make out the roof.
Once our things were unpacked and we were left to our own devices by the cabbies, we all turned to face the house, as if greeting it. I felt a stab of guilt at the idea that I was the reason the Cullens had to leave their old home at all. They would never say it aloud, but all the same, I was responsible for uprooting them. I decided right then that I would do everything I could to make this work, because I knew I wouldn't be able to bear it if they ever regretted their decision to accept me into their family.
"It's…small," commented Alice, looking skeptically at the modest Craftsman-style house that stood before us.
I begged to differ. To me, the place was huge – and beautiful. A large front porch extended from the front, supported by large, stone-based pillars. But it was the backdrop of jagged white mountains that made me certain that I would fall in love with this place. The house was nestled a little ways into the trees, but not so far in that you couldn't see the magnificent stretch of sea beyond it. The withering purples and reds of the sunset glittered across the surface of the water, the waves flashing warmly as they lapped lazily at the rocky shore.
"There are seven bedrooms, Alice, and everyone has their own bathroom. Not to mention the thirty acres of land the house sits on. We'll be able to hunt without ever leaving our property," comforted Carlisle, leading the way up the broad stone steps that led to the front door.
"It's fantastic," I muttered softly to Edward, slipping my hand into his. He grinned at my enthusiasm.
"I like it too," he agreed, giving my hand a brief squeeze. We followed the others inside, and I was surprised to find the house already furnished. I noticed that it wasn't exactly in the Cullen's typical style.
"How quaint," remarked Jasper, reaching up to test the authenticity of the gigantic gaping fish that had been mounted above the front door.
Esme laughed. "We'll redecorate, of course. But I don't know…the whole hunting lodge look could grow on me."
"No way!" protested Alice, shooting Esme a horrified look before realizing that she was being teased.
"Humans," muttered Edward, shaking his head fondly. "How appallingly barbaric, mounting animal carcasses to the wall."
"More barbaric than bloodsucking?" I inquired slyly, hoping my humor wasn't overstepping my bounds.
Edward chuckled. "Touché," he conceded. "C'mon. Let's check out the second floor." He pulled on my hand as he started upstairs.
The first door we came to led to a spacious bedroom with a vaulted ceiling and a boastful floor-to-ceiling window that framed the magnificent view. Strangely enough, I found myself looking longingly at the bed. How wonderful it would feel to be able to sleep after such an ordeal! My mind had a hard time comprehending the idea that I would never be able to sleep again.
"I miss sleep," murmured Edward, seeming to read my mind. His voice was distant, as if he was lost in his own thoughts. "Being able to simply turn off my thoughts for a few hours. I hardly remember…" He seemed to suddenly remember I was there. "Sorry. There are certain things one misses."
I nodded silently, feeling that tiny, empty pang in my stomach that I used to get when the plane took of for Seattle at the beginning of every summer and I knew that I could no longer choose to go back, and that I would be in Forks for what had seemed like a very long time. I was stuck, and there was nowhere to go but forward.
I hoped like hell that I was strong enough.