Demetri brought us into the bright reception area, where I had already been once today. The human, Gianna, was sitting at the counter and smiled at us as we walked in. I didn't even bother to listen to her simple mind.
Demetri warned us not to leave until dark, I nodded slightly, I just wished he would leave, so I could be with Bella...to comfort her, she looked mortified. I couldn't get over how beautiful she looked, even at a time like this, I can't believe I ever left her. She must be really afraid because she was shaking hard, I didn't think her small body was capable of such vibration.
"Are you all right?" I asked quietly, unable to conceal the anxiety in my voice.
"You'd better make her sit before she falls," Alice said. "She's going to pieces."
A strange expression crossed my Bella's face, I couldn't quite read it. God, I wish I could read her mind! Sobs started escaping her and they were loud, and she was still shaking violently.
"Shh, Bella, shh," I said as I pulled her over to the sofa on the other side of the room; Gianna was looking at us curiously. I wonder what happened to her... I pushed her thoughts from my mind, I didn't have time for them.
"I think she's having hysterics. Maybe you should slap her," Alice suggested.
I threw her a frantic look, slap her? Was she crazy? That would be like slapping an angel. I'm sorry... Alice thought. A look of understanding crossed Bella's face, I assumed that she realized what she was doing.
"It's all right, you're safe, it's all right," I repeated to her over and over. I just wanted her to calm down, her shaking was starting to scare me. I pulled her onto my lap and tucked my cloak around her, she was probably cold enough without having to touch my freezing skin, so maybe that would help a little. Her eyes were filled with tears, what was she thinking?
"All those people," she sobbed.
Oh. I understood now.
"I know," I whispered to her. I had tried to get her out of there before anything could be heard or witnessed, but my attempt had been unsuccessful.
"It's so horrible," she continued.
"Yes, it is. I wish you hadn't had to see that."
She laid her head against my chest and wiped her eyes with my cloak. She took several deep breaths, it looked as if she was trying to calm down, which was good. I could hear footsteps approaching, and Gianna's thoughts came into my mind. I've got to see this, she's lying in the arms of a vampire and she's freaking out over what she's just seen?
"Is there anything I can get you?" She asked as she leaned over my shoulder. I found this irritating, did she really need to be this nosy?
"No," I replied.
She nodded, and smiled at Bella. Poor thing she looks like she has just been hit by a train. If she didn't get out of here she was going know what it felt like to get hit with the force of a train. Finally she walked away. I could hear Bella's breathing become more controlled and even.
"Does she know what's going on here?" Bella suddenly demanded. Her voice was so hoarse, she kept it down.
"Yes. She knows everything," I answered.
"Does she know they are going to kill her someday?" She questioned.
"She knows it's a possibility." She seemed surprised by this. I said she knew everything, didn't I? I didn't know how to explain it really, it wasn't like Gianna wanted to be killed, but there were other options. "She's hoping they'll decide to keep her.
The warm blood left her face, the lovely color which I had missed so much.
"She wants to be one of them?"
I nodded once, watching intently for her reaction.
She shuddered in my arms. "How can she want that?" I wasn't sure if she was talking to me and looking for an answer, or if it was a rhetorical question to herself. "How can she watch those people file through to that hideous room and want to be a part of that?
This remark confused me, I thought Bella had wanted to be a vampire? My face twisted in confusion. I thought she wanted to be a part of our world? Or perhaps she had just been talking about the vampires with the human diet. I couldn't tell, yet again this was another time I wish I could read her mind.
She was staring at me, trying to read my expression I assumed. Her face was so perfect. I don't know how I had lived without it for so long, to think that I could've missed a lifetime of looking at her was unthinkable now that she was here in my arms.
"Oh, Edward," she suddenly cried, I had gotten lost in my thoughts about her. It killed me to see her sobbing like this.
"What's wrong?" I asked, my voice still heavy with anxiety. I didn't know what was wrong, so how could I help her? I tried to comfort her by rubbing her back slightly. She wrapped her arms around my neck, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Her touching me gave me some hope for forgiveness.
"Is it really sick for me to be happy right now?" her voice broke twice as she asked me. It was almost as if she had read my mind, which I knew was impossible.
"I know exactly what you mean," I whispered to her. "But we have lots of reasons to be happy. For one, we're alive." I could think of a million reasons to be happy, my main one was that she was here, in my arms, alive and warm.
"Yes," she agreed. "That's a good one."
I couldn't refrain from what I wanted to say, so I said it. "And together," I said quietly. A strange look crossed her face as she nodded. I kept going, "And, with any luck, we'll still be alive tomorrow."
"Hopefully," she said uneasily. I couldn't understand why. Did she know something I didn't? Was something going to happen?
"The outlook is quite good," Alice said. It was almost as if she had read my mind and was trying to comfort me. "I'll see Jasper in less than twenty-four hours," she added in a tone that made me somewhat jealous, she could rely on her visions, well most of the time.
Bella stared at me. I stared straight back at her. I studied her face, re-memorizing exactly how it looked. That was kind of a stupid thing to do though because her face was already burned into my mind for forever, and with any luck I wouldn't have to rely on my memory to see her face. Maybe she would allow me to stay with her, to see her again. Her big brown eyes, under which were dark circles, lack of sleep I guessed. Next was her perfect nose, which lead down to her plump ruby lips, God how I wanted to kiss them...
"You look so tired," I told her as I traced the dark circles.
"And you look thirsty," she whispered to me.
I didn't feel very thirsty, I just wanted to stay with her like this forever. "It's nothing," I shrugged.
"Are you sure? I could sit with Alice," she offered. Was she nuts? The last thing I want is for her to leave me, even to just sit three feet away. Besides, she almost was just devoured on several counts, I could hear exactly what every single one of those bloody thirsty vampires were thinking in that room. They all wanted her blood, not as much as I did but they all had been thirsty at the time. After that near death experience...
"Don't be ridiculous," I sighed, "I've never been in better control of that side of my nature than right now."
She looked at me like she was going to say something but then stopped. I wanted her to say everything that she was thinking, even if it was going to work against me. Whatever she was going to say, she didn't. She continued to stare at me, intently, almost like she was memorizing my face too.
Edward we need to decide how we're going to get home, Alice thought to me. I continued to stare at Bella while I talked quietly to Alice.
"Call Carlisle and tell him to get everyone together, to make up a story, we need to go back to Forks."
"Should I go get a car then? We can just get on the next plane for back home."
"Well, wait for dark, but yes we'll need a car."
We talked quietly for a bit longer, and the entire time my eyes never left Bella's face. I was such an idiot, to ever leave her. I didn't deserve to have her in my arms. But, here she sat, on her own free will, I think...
"What was all that talk about singers?" Alice asked.
"La tua cantante," I said.
"Yes, that," Alice said. Bella looked like she was concentrating on what we were saying.
I shrugged. "They have a name for someone who smells the way Bella does to me. They call her my singer-because her blood sings for me."
Bella looked so tired, I almost wished she would fall asleep just so she could feel better. As I talked to Alice I kept leaning down and kissing Bella. I would kiss her hair, her forehead, her nose. I couldn't resist the urge, each time my lips touched her it was like electricity was flowing through us, I loved it. I kissed just about every inch of her head, but never her lips. She was letting me touch the rest of her, but I wasn't sure if I had permission or the forgiveness for the touch of her lips against mine. I didn't want to ruin the calmness between us by testing my limits. After all I was the one who left, who was to say she hadn't moved on, maybe she even had a boyfriend. I shuddered at the thought of it. It's what I had wanted but not really, I wanted her to have a normal life, I wanted to be the one to give her a normal life but that could never be.
Alec's mind suddenly entered my head. There they are...
"You're free to leave now," Alec said in a friendly tone. She smells very good, too bad she's off limits and I just ate... "We ask that you don't linger in the city."
"That won't be a problem," I replied icily. How dare that bastard think about my Bella that way. You're damn right we won't linger in this city because if I did I might do something drastic. Like tear his head off.
Alec smiled at us, nodded, and then took off through a new pair of doors to our left.
I helped Bella to her feet. "Follow the right hallway around the corner to the first set of elevators," Gianna told us. "The lobby is two floors down, and exits to the street. Goodbye, now," she added pleasantly. She needs some sleep, poor thing, I know how those things go...
I pushed all minds out of my own mind for the moment. I needed a clear head. We needed to move now, and quickly. We left through the lobby and I stared straight ahead, I was focused on leaving. Outside the party was still going, but it was getting darker. My cloak did not draw any attention now because almost the adults were dressed in dark cloak, supporting the plastic fangs in their mouths.
"Ridiculous," I muttered. I looked at Alice and gave her the go-ahead to go steal a car, she disappeared instantly.
"Where's Alice?" Bella whispered almost as if she was panicked by Alice's absence.
"She went to retrieve your bags from where she stashed them this morning," I replied, wanting her to calm down.
"She's stealing a car, too, isn't she?" Bella questioned.
This made me grin, she had known our plan even though we hadn't told her. "Not until we're outside."
The entryway was quite a distance away, for Bella anyways. As we walked I wrapped my arm securely around her waist, and tried to support as
much of her weight without looking suspicious. I would have just carried her but that would have attracted too much attention, so this was the best I could do.
She shuddered as we went through the stone archway. I could hear Alice's mind and she was telling me that she was in the dark car to the right of the gate. I pulled Bella over to the car and climbed into the backseat with her. Normally, I would have insisted on driving, but I had been away from Bella for far too long. I wanted to be with her, holding her, every moment I could.
"I'm sorry," Alice apologized as she motioned to the dashboard. It's kind of a junker... "There wasn't much to choose from."
Alice and her cars, the thought made me grin. "It's fine, Alice. They can't all be 911 Turbos."
"I may have to acquire one of those legally," she sighed. "It was fabulous."
"I'll get you one for Christmas," I promised her.
She turned to me and grinned, which seemed to worry Bella, most likely because we were speeding, it was dark, and the road was curvy. "Yellow," Alice told me and I nodded.
I kept my arms tight around Bella, and my cloak securely around her. She looked spent, I wanted her to sleep. Then again, I didn't. If she was sleeping I couldn't gaze into her big, brown eyes. "You can sleep now, Bella," I whispered to her. "It's over." She swallowed hard, maybe at what I had said? I wanted to know what she was thinking.
"I don't want to sleep. I'm not tired," she told me. She stared up at me. I knew the second part was a lie, but I wasn't sure about the first. Maybe she didn't want to miss any time with me? Maybe I was forgiven after all?
I put my lips to the hollow under her ear, I love how warm she felt. "Try," I encouraged her.
She shook her head at me. Persistent little Bella. I sighed.
"You're still just as stubborn." She didn't reply to that, she must have known I was right. I watched her struggle through the whole car ride to stay awake, and she succeeded. Finally, we got to the airport. Alice had bought me new clothes, and I threw my other ones away. Bella was happy that she got a fresh change of clothes and a chance to brush her teeth. Next, we flew to Rome, then we would go to Atlanta. Bella must have known, it was going to be a long trip, for she ordered a coke on the plane.
"Bella," I said disapprovingly. She had no tolerance for caffeine, and that coke was going to be packed with it.
I don't want to sleep," she reminded me. "If I close my eyes now, I'll see things I don't want to see. I'll have nightmares." The thought of her having a nightmare, did not please me, so I didn't bother to argue with her.
Alice sat on the phone with Jasper for quite sometime, I caught bits and pieces of their phone conversation, and from what I heard from Alice's mind, I didn't want to hear the rest of the conversation.
Bella kept looking like she was going to say something, but held her tongue everytime. I wanted her to say whatever it was that she was thinking, but I also didn't want to start a conversation while there was hope that she would fall asleep and get some rest. Whatever hope there was of her falling asleep was diminished though, as she kept drinking soda. I held her in my arms and traced her face over and over again. She touched mine in return. I couldn't stop myself from kissing her, everywhere, but still never her lips.
Finally, we reached the airport in Atlanta. Surprisingly, Bella was still awake. We had spent most of the plane ride in silence, we just stared at each other.
As we walked into the airport, Jasper, Carlisle, and Esme were all waiting. From what I got from Carlisle's mind, Emmett and Rosalie were waiting out in the car. Bella seemed genuinely surprised by everyone being there. Alice ran right to Jasper as soon as he came into view, I already knew what was coming so I shut them out of my mind almost right away. Carlisle and Esme were in a corner, and we walked over to them, me still supporting a lot of Bella's weight.
Esme reached for Bella right away, she tried to hug her but I refused to let go of my Bella so she gave her a somewhat awkward hug.
"Thank you so much," she said quietly to Bella. Next she turned on me, and threw her arms around me. You're so lucky I can't cry Edward Anthony... "You will never put me through that again," she practically growled.
The sudden change of emotions from her mind to her mouth almost made me laugh. "Sorry, Mom," I grinned, trying to sound as repentant as possible.
"Thank you, Bella," Carlisle spoke up. "We owe you." What if she hadn't gotten there in time? What if... I pushed his thoughts from my mind, I didn't want to think of the mistake I had almost made.
"Hardly," Bella mumbled back. She looked as if she was about to pass out, and I felt her go a little more limp in my arms.
"She's dead on her feet," Esme scolded me as if it was my fault. I had told her to sleep hadn't I? Then again, if I hadn't gone to kill myself she would never had missed three days sleep. "Let's get her home," Esme said.
Esme and I then practically dragged Bella out of the airport, one on each side of her. Esme talked to me in her mind as we made our way out to the cars. Rosalie is out there Edward, just so you know. Please try not to kill her...
Even though Esme had warned me Rosalie was out there waiting, I still couldn't help form stiffening when I saw her wretched face.
Oh, God here he goes... "Don't," Esme whispered to me. "She feels awful."
"She should," I replied rather loudly, and it worked, Rosalie heard me.
Oh man, he really is pissed. I can't even begin to say how sorry I am Edward...
Bella spoke then, in a garbled mess, "It's not her fault."
Well, atleast Bella is listening to me... "Let her make amends," Esme pleaded with me. "We'll ride with Alice and Jasper."
I couldn't help but glower at Rosalie. All the rage I had in me, I tried to focus through my eyes into her head. How I wished she would just disappear, forever.
Bella must have seen me glaring at Rosalie because she spoke up then, "Please, Edward." She must not want to ride with Rosalie any more than I did. So I sighed and pulled her to the car.
Edward, please don't kill my wife, ha, well you'd have to get through me first, but still. She really is sorry... Emmett thought to me, as he got into the car with Rosalie. I continued to listen to Rosalie and Emmetts' thoughts. Emmett thought to me, while Rosalie just thought about me, and being sorry. Bella laid her head against my chest, finally closing her eyes.
"Edward," Rosalie started
I didn't want to listen to her, I had already heard her excuses. "I know."
She then turned to Bella. "Bella?"
Bella opened her eyes and a look of surprise crossed her face, from Rosalie actually talking to her I imagined. "Yes, Rosalie?"
Rosalie's words flowed quickly then. "I'm so very sorry, Bella. I feel wretched about every part of this, and so grateful that you were brave enough to go save my brother after what I did. Please say you'll forgive me."
Surprisingly, her words seemed sincere.
"Of course, Rosalie," Bella mumbled back. "It's not your fault at all. I'm the one who jumped off the damn cliff. Of course I forgive you."
It was all a bunch of mush. I even had difficulty deciphering what she said.
Emmett chuckled. "It doesn't count until she's conscious, Rose."
"I'm conscious," Bella tried to say. She was so tired, all of this could have waited until later.
"Let her sleep," I said.
Finally Bella drifted off into sleep as we drove. She looked like an angel laying there in my arms. I stared at her the whole way home, and tracing her perfect lips with my fingers. I wanted to press mine to hers, but that would be wrong. She was sleeping after all. It didn't take long to get home, Emmett drove almost as fast as I did. Charlie was the only part I was worried about. I couldn't think up a story to tell him. Finally we reached Bella's house, and there was Charlie.
I can't believe that kid is here, wait till I get my hands on him... Charlie thought. "Bella!" Charlie shouted to us from across the street in the doorway.
"Charlie," Bella tried to respond.
"Shh," I whispered to her. She was still so tired. "It's okay; you're home and safe. Just sleep."
Charlie was pissed. Downright pissed. "I can't believe you have the nerve to show your face here," Charlie screamed at me as he ran to meet us in the yard.
"Stop it, Dad," Bella mumbled, but Charlie ignored her.
"What's wrong with her?" Charlie demanded.
I tried to keep my voice as quiet as possible. "She's just very tired, Charlie. Please let her rest."
What did he just say? Did he just tell me what to do?... "Don't tell me what to do!" Charlie yelled at me. "Give her to me. Get your hands off her!" How dare he touch her...
I didn't want to make him even more mad, so I tried to give Bella to him, but she clung tightly to me. Charlie yanked on her arm to try and get her to let go.
"Cut it out, Dad," Bella said more loudly than before. She opened her bloodshot eyes and looked at Charlie. "Be mad at me."
Did she really think I wouldn't be? She must be crazy... "You bet I will be," Charlie promised her. "Get inside."
"'Kay. Let me down," she sighed.
I set her so she was standing. She took a step and her head was headed straight for the sidewalk. I quickly caught her before her face and the concrete made contact.
"Just let me get her upstairs," I told Charlie. "Then I'll leave."
"No," Bella cried. For some reason this made my dead heart flutter. She didn't want me to leave? I loved the thought of it.
"I won't be far," I promised her. I said it so low into her ear so that Charlie wouldn't hear, that I wasn't sure if she even did. She seemed to have calmed down a little bit, so I guessed she had.
Charlie glared at me as I walked into his house. He thinks he can just walk into my house and then just leave again, ha, he's got another thing coming to him...
I carried Bella up the stairs and into her room. She was clinging so tightly to me, that when I set her on the bed I had to pry her fingers from my shirt. It was a good thing I hqad lots of strength, because that probably would have been an extremely tough job if I had been human.
Charlie was waiting for me as soon as I got to the bottom of the stairs. "What are you doing back here? Do have any idea what you put her through? How those months after you left were? No, you don't. You have no right to come back into her life after how you left her. Get out of my house and don't ever walk through my doorway again!" Charlie screamed at me.
All I could do was nod and walk out the door.