Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Stephenie Meyer, Twilight, New Moon, etc, or the wonderful world that she has created, in which vampires don't have fangs and glitter like diamond dust. I can dream though, and "borrow" her characters and drag them into my own plot creations, since she's nice enough to allow me to do so. Hopefully they all make it through relatively intact!

A/N: This particular piece of fan-fiction takes place between the last chapter of New Moon and the Epilogue. It DOES contain spoilers, and any rating increase will be due to language and a certain hunting scene. Other than that though, I won't right about anything that will cause you to blush or feel the need to close the screen. I promise. At this point in time, "Dusk" is going through both the writing and the editing process. My new goal is to increase the length of the chapters (hopefully to an average of two pages a piece, in Word) and to make everything flow a little better. Be on the watch for new, sporadic additions!

Chapter One- To Deceive

It was days later, and I still caught him glancing at me from the corners of his eyes, as if to make sure that I was still there, and still his Bella. It must have worried him that I had become quieter since our separation. Questions didn't fall from my mouth as they once did: a new hesitancy had entered my demeanor, and try as I might, I sometimes caught myself guarding against a second departure, even if I knew it would never come. But tonight, standing there in the dusky twilight of my backyard, it was easy to make believe that everything had always been this way. So quiet, so still. A perfectly calm night, with stars gleaming brightly in the midnight blue sky, fiercely defying the clouds that were beginning to roll on, blotting them out. And I was whole again, though the ghost of the chasm that had resided in my chest for so long still came back to haunt me in the depths of the night.

But for now, Edward was there, standing close behind me, with his cheek pressed tenderly against mine. I could feel the muscles move along his jaw line as he sang softly, feel the soft caress of his breath against my warm skin, the cold chill of his body. His arms were wrapped around my torso in a fierce, securing embrace. Every time I inhaled I could feel the weight of his limbs against the bottom of my ribcage, but I was oddly grateful for it: He was holding me together, like the thick bands of steel that wrap around a wooden barrel.

The tip of his nose grazed side of my face as he bent his head to kiss the hollow beneath my ear lightly. I shivered in delight: I had not realized how much I missed our closeness, that feeling that it was alright for me to be just Bella when I was with him: I had no need of excuses, no need to watch over someone else. I could indulge in just being myself and let all the other cares go.

"A penny for your thoughts?"

His voice was still that of an archangel, golden velvet laid over a steel frame. Sometimes that steel could be so very cold, worse than the most biting winter gale, but now it glowed with a gentle warmth. Slowly, I turned in his arms, placing my hands on his smooth, glacially cold chest. A soft, small smile crept over my lips, and I couldn't restrain it. I watched as the corners of his eyes lifted, but no smile ever touched his lips: Instead, a tinge of frustration formed his expression. It still bothered him that he was dependent on my voice to tell him what it was that I was thinking. I wondered if he thought that I didn't trust him enough to tell him the complete truth: He knew that I always gave him honest answers when he asked about my thoughts, but also that they were never complete. How could he know that I didn't tell him everything because I didn't want him to berate himself, weight himself down with guilt? I simply couldn't hurt him that way. He'd already done too much damage to himself for my sake. And I would do everything in my limited power to prevent himself from further doing so.

Even through my reverie, I could see the beginnings of impatience creeping into the set of his mouth, so I answered quickly, forcing a playful tone into my voice.

"It's daring to be this close together when Charlie has to be sitting at the kitchen window watching us."

It wasn't a lie. Not completely. I had learned to be cautious in the last few days: My father watched me constantly, and glowered at Edward every time he dared show his face. Consequently, Charlie and his reluctance to see me with Edward was always on my mind. Just not at the forefront.

Edward chuckled softly. "I think he'll survive his disappointment. Even a cop can only do so much in cases like these."

"Mmm. You don't know Charlie very well. Where do you think I got my stubborn streak from?"

He laughed softly, the sound echoing in his chest until it took a bell-like tone that reminded me of some ancient Greek god. My heart thrilled to hear it: I hadn't heard him laugh in so long.

The glow of the kitchen light caught my attention as I peeked around Edward's shoulder. He turned suddenly, loosing one arm from around my waist, a chuckle reverberating in his throat.

"Eight fifty-five" he said, the laugh still lingering in his voice. "I suppose it is time for me to give you up to your jailor."

I frowned as I looked into the window. Sure enough, I could see the silhouette of my father through the worn curtains. Edward smiled at the grimace on my face and planted a chaste kiss upon my cheek as he led me towards the door. Charlie was one step ahead of him, holding it ajar already, letting the light spill out across the grass. Edward shifted his grasp to my hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. My eyes found his: I knew he could read there my reluctance to let him leave. The soft smile that he returned me I took as a promise: I would not have to spend this night alone.

"Good night Bella," he whispered, his voice dwelling tenderly on my name.

"Good night Edward," I returned softly as his hand left mine. Somehow the limb seemed even more chilled without his reassuring grasp.

"Good-bye, Chief Swan," Edward said merrily, and louder this time. Charlie's frown deepened: he clearly thought that Edward was mocking him. I stood there in the dark for a moment, alone, watching my father with a guarded expression. I heard the soft purr of the Volvo as he turned the key in the ignition, saw the headlights light the living-room from the driveway as I stepped into the house and illuminated the living room.

And Charlie. He was not looking pleased.