Part One: My Ancient, My Only
Chapter One: Promise
I guess I should have seen it coming. There sat Charlie, arms folded, sitting in the kitchen, staring me down. "Do you know what time it is, young lady?"
I blinked. Alright, to be fair, it was pretty late. But I was over eighteen now, and I was pretty sure that meant I didn't need a curfew anymore. Then again, you never could tell with Charlie. I blinked again. "Uh… sometime past one?" I guessed, shifting my eyes to try to see the clock on the wall.
"Two thirty!" rumbled Charlie. "Where have you been?!"
The meadow was fantastically beautiful. At that moment, I couldn't decide whether it looked better in the sunlight or the moonlight.
Edward was stretched out on the ground, propped up by his elbows. I laid in the grass next to him, my head on his shoulder. "I'm going to muss my dress," I warned passively, knowing that Alice would probably throw a fit if I returned covered in hayseeds and burrs.
"It's a nice dress," agreed Edward, making lazy patterns in the yellowed spring weeds with the toe of his dress shoe. It was a nice dress- Alice had picked it out for me. It was navy blue satin, backless and strapless with not a hint of sequin or embroidery; it traveled all the way down to my feet. Elegant, and just perfect for my senior prom. "It's my favorite color on you," added Edward quietly, his angelic voice crooning in my ear.
I blushed. "I know."
He finally took his attention from the star-speckled night above us and turned to face me. "You've finally graduated."
"Good observation," I responded dryly.
"Carlisle promised you—"
"Oh hush, you know I want you to do it."
He hesitated. "After we're married."
I rolled my eyes. "I know. After we're married." I mimicked his voice in a passable imitation.
He smiled, but his eyes were still serious. "You spend too much time with me."
"A hazard to my health?"
"You know me too well," he chuckled, sitting up and wrapping his arms around my waist. I laid my head back on his shoulder. I felt his topaz eyes burning holes in my skin, they were so intense. I shivered. "Cold?"
"No," I said weakly, suddenly finding his presence overwhelming. Breathe, I reminded myself.
"Just in case," said Edward, retrieving Rosalie's black cotton wrap from behind us and draping it around my shoulders. He kissed the top of my head. I held back another shiver.
One arm left my waist. I cocked my head and watched him dig into the inner pocket of his tux jacket. "What's that?"
"A promise," he responded mysteriously, pulling out a tiny velveteen box. There was something on the lid, something foreign I didn't understand.
"Edward, where did you get that?" I said, breathing in sharply. I pulled my head off his shoulder and stood up, aghast.
"That's something no man wants to hear," Edward joked as he stood up with me.
"Edward, I told you, I can't—"
"Hang on," he growled in irritation, dropping to one knee. "At least let me get this out before you reject me again."
"Isabella Marie Swann, will you be mine for all eternity? Will you marry me?" he asked slowly, as if savoring each word. He opened the box.
Inside was the biggest diamond ring I'd ever seen. Blinded by its glory, I squeezed my eyes shut. "Bella?" he asked, his voice ringing of worry.
My heart was going a thousand miles an hour, even though I had known that this would happen, sooner or later. Of course, I had counted on later, not sooner. Well, if marriage was the condition I was bound by, than marriage would be the hurdle to overcome. If I wanted eternity with Edward, I had to do things his way. As usual.
I opened my eyes. Edward's liquid butterscotch eyes were brimming with hope. The hope that he could dazzle me into this. It only took a moment for me to be hooked in those damn godly eyes. My breath hitched. "Yes, I'll marry you Edward Cullen," I said with a wry grin, "but God help me if I end up liking it."
"Good enough for me," laughed Edward, practically forcing the ring onto my finger.
"A bit ostentatious, isn't it?"
"Ostentatious?" repeated Edward, looking mortified.
"'The ring Rhett brought back from England was large indeed, so large it embarrassed Scarlett to wear it. She loved gaudy and expensive jewelry, but she had an uneasy feeling that everyone was saying, with perfect truth, that this ring was vulgar. The central stone was a four-carat diamond…It reached to the knuckle of her finger and gave her hand the appearance of being weighted down. Scarlett had a suspicion that Rhett had gone to great pains to have the ring made up and, for pure meanness, had ordered it made as ostentatious as possible.'Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell," I said with a completely straight face.
"I can't believe you just compared this lovely ring with..." began Edward with a whine. "I did not make it large out of meanness," he added weakly, realizing that this ring was actually quite similar to the one Ms. Mitchell described.
"It's garish and extravagant," I said, surprised Edward was playing along.
"It's flashy and showy."
"Tasteless and naughty," he said with a grin.
"Flamboyant and… improper." I was struggling for words now.
"It's kitschy," he said, sure that he had beat me.
"Kitschy?" I repeated in disbelief. "That's a word?"
"Look it up," Edward retorted.
I shrugged in defeat. "Like I said, ostentatious."
"You repeated," accused Edward playfully. Then he kissed me.
"Bella," repeated Charlie, "where were you?"
I deliberately swathed Rosalie's wrap around my left hand, to hide Edward's engagement ring. "Celebrating with Edward," I admitted nervously. Charlie still hated my boyfriend… er, fiancé, and had only reluctantly allowed me to go to prom with him after my graduation this afternoon. "What are you doing up, anyway?" I said, turning the tables.
"I have to go out," said Charlie, eying my bedraggled appearance. Running on Edward's back to and from the meadow had taken the life out of my curls. "I was called twenty minutes ago about a sighting of those giant wolf things."
"More hikers dead?" I said, feeling my throat tighten. Victoria. And Edward and I had been easy game to her all night, alone in the meadow.
"No," he said, shaking his head. I wrinkled my brow, confused. If not Victoria, then who? Sam's pack certainly wouldn't be coming after the Cullens. They hadn't broken the treaty! "But the wolves have been seen tonight straying very close to Forks, on the border of La Push. They've never been seen this close to town before." I could tell Charlie was worried.
At that moment, however, I felt jealous of my father. Charlie only had a few wolves to worry about. Wolves who would never attack any of the small population of Forks. After all, the Quintile werewolves were there to protect people, not harm them. I, on the other hand, had quite a bit to worry about. I had to worry about my father, who would be going out into the middle of what could be a vampire attack. I had to worry about my vampire family, the Cullens, who might not know that danger was coming. And I had to worry about myself, though this worry was a small one.
"Do you have to go out tonight?" I asked, letting my worry betray me in my voice.
"I'll be fine, Bells," assured Charlie. "You go get some sleep now."
"G'night," I mumbled, pretending to be tired as I fake yawned and walked up the stairs. In truth, my heart was racing like a jackrabbit.
"Edward?" I whispered as I entered my bedroom. "Edward?" My heart beat a little faster, if that was even possible.
Oh, thank God. There was a note on the bed in Edward's curly antique handwriting.
Alice needed me for a moment. Be back in ten minutes.
I relaxed a little. If Alice had summoned Edward, then she knew that I would be safe without him. They were probably solving the mystery of the creeping werewolves right now.
I took out the eight trillion hairpins that held my updo in place and scattered them on my dresser. I had never seen so many bobby pins on one surface. I took a close look at myself in the mirror, sighing over each tiny scar and blemish on my face. I certainly wasn't even close to perfect, like Edward and his family were. And I would be nineteen in three months. That was way too old in my opinion, especially since now I was going to spend all eternity with a vampire who was forever seventeen.
I heard a small thump downstairs, and realized that Charlie had finally left the house. I waited to hear the squad car start, but the silence remained. There were small fits of nerves beginning to eat away at my stomach. I glanced at the clock. Two forty-five. Good. Edward would be back any minute now.
I took a second look at the ring before I sat down on my bed and clicked off the lamp light. A light, pleasant scent filled the room. Okay, I know it sounds strange, but I've always been able to smell vampires, and Edward was especially strong to me. He smelled like warm honey and musk.
"Edward," I said with a smile, standing up.
"Sorry, you don't win the million dollar prize after all," snarled a voice in the dark.
Victoria!! my mind screamed before the redhead stepped out of the darkness and into the streaming moonlight.
"You know," she said as her ruby eyes froze me into a statue, "killing you has turned out to be more difficult than I planned. You seem to always have the Swiss Guard around you, Queen Isabella," she smirked viciously.
She circled around me, as if looking for the best angle to take me down. Pure predator. Shaking, my mind began a familiar mantra: I love you Edward. I love you Edward. I love you Edward. Edward. Edward. Edward… and so on.
"What? No feeble outcry that Edward will save you?" asked Victoria, sounding disappointed. Her icy hands gripped my shoulders and she stared into my dead eyes, looking all the way down into my collapsing soul. With an almost casual shove, she threw me over my bed and into the wall with a resounding crash as bone crunched against plaster.
The pain was blinding, from my head to my toes. I love you Edward. I love you Edward. Edward. Edward… my mind persisted, resisting the hazy darkness that threatened to envelop my vision.
She dragged me by my feet to the foot of the bed and glared contemptuously at my mangled body. "You're not even worth it," she accused.
With a devastating strike from her foot to my jaw, I heard a sickening snap as my neck lolled to an impossible angle. With that, I was washed away into the merciful darkness.