Title: Dusk to Dawn (10/?)
Rating: PG for now.
Characters/Pairings: Edward/Bella, all characters
Summary: Post-New Moon. Bella and Edward deal with Jacob, Victoria, the issue of Bella's transformation, and...whatever else I decide to throw in.
Disclaimer: The whole fabulous world of Forks, WA belongs to Stephenie Meyer and whoever she sells it to. I, unfortunately, am not one of them; just taking it out for a test drive.
"Our problems aren't over, you know," Bella reminded me as she prepared dinner for her and Charlie – some spicy Mexican thing that made my nose itch.
"Believe me, I know," I responded, although I didn't care as much as I should in that moment. I was too absorbed in watching her as she chopped up a pepper and threw the pieces into a frying pan with the other cutting board victims.
"There's still the werewolves," she went on, dicing an onion now. I watched the knife flash nervously. She couldn't possibly do all this chopping without hurting herself. "I don't think they're going to give up just because I've convinced Charlie not to arrest you."
"No," I sighed. "I don't think they'll stop until they've broken the treaty completely. But worse things could happen. No one will truly believe them – or if anyone does, they'll be laughed off – and we'll simply leave and not come back."
Bella bit her bottom lip, and I realized her eyes were tearing. I hoped it was from the onion, but when she spoke, I knew it wasn't. "Never come back to Forks? Forever?"
I sighed, feeling her sadness. I didn't want to say goodbye to Forks, either…especially since I'd met Bella here. This place held so many memories. "Maybe not forever. A new generation of Quileutes might be more open to friendship. But for now…it would be for the best."
She dropped the knife on the cutting board and gripped the edges of the countertop. "Why is he doing this to me?" she asked quietly. "We were friends…"
I went to her, needing to comfort her. "I don't think friendship was ever going to be enough for him, Bella," I said as she turned into me and let me hold her against my chest. "He wants you, and he sees me and my family as the only thing keeping you from him. He won't be satisfied until we're gone."
"It's not fair. He knows I'll never stop loving you…he knows I can't…" she whispered, burrowing closer. I stroked along her warm neck, hoping to soothe her. She shivered against me.
"I don't think he really knows," I said, knowing exactly what Jacob thought, having heard it firsthand – he thought Bella had been getting over me, moving on while I was gone. Sometimes I wondered if she really knew herself that well…if perhaps she could move on. But I couldn't make myself leave her again to find out.
She snorted. "Well, he should!" she said angrily. "I was half out of my mind while you were gone…the motorcycles, the cliff diving…that's not me at all!"
I scowled at the reminder of her dangerous behavior while I was gone, and felt the simultaneous pang of anger and guilt – she had promised me she would take care of herself…but then, she only did it to hear my voice…if I'd only been there…
"Edward?" she said, looking up at me with concern. "You know that wasn't your fault."
I sighed and shook my head. "No, it was. But you're forgetting something, Bella. Jacob didn't really know you before that. I doubt he realized it was unusual behavior for you."
"I suppose you're right," she said miserably as she pulled away. "Why are you defending him, anyway? I'm trying to be angry, here!"
I chuckled ruefully. "I know what it's like to love you, Bella. I know what I would do to keep you…it's hard to blame him for trying, even if the thought makes me sick…"
"Edward," she said gently, stepping closer again. "You're not…you don't think I would leave you, do you?"
I met her eyes and forced a small smile. "I couldn't really blame you if you wanted to. I don't like the thought of – honestly, I hate the thought of you with anyone else, especially someone as dangerous as a werewolf, but if you would be happier –"
"Honestly, Edward!" she interrupted, eyes blazing. "You can be a complete idiot sometimes, do you know that? I would not be happier with Jacob, or anyone else! Even when I was sure you were never coming back, I never once really wanted anyone else. I thought about being with Jacob, because he obviously wanted it, but even the thought felt like a betrayal – not just to you, but to myself. And when Alice told me she'd seen you going to Italy, I knew. I knew I could never love anyone else, and even trying to was a lie. Don't doubt me now, Edward; we've been through too much –"
"Bella," I cut in, feeling guilty, but pleased, and even guiltier for feeling pleased. "I don't doubt you, not at all. But I do wonder if perhaps you underestimate yourself…your ability to move on, to love again."
Her reaction was a scowl. "I definitely do not want to find out. We know six months wasn't enough. It could be years, if ever…ugh, I don't think I could survive it. Maybe if I didn't know you loved me…but I do know now, and if you left, I would only wait for you."
"I just want you happy, Bella."
She rolled her eyes. "I don't know if you've noticed, Edward, but it's rare that I'm not deliriously happy when I'm with you."
"As long as it stays that way," I said.
"It will," she promised, and she kissed me lightly on the lips. It was a struggle, as always, not to do more. I made myself content to hold her, breathing in her scent…until I noticed something else.
"Yes?" she murmured dreamily.
"I think dinner is burning."
She let out a startled curse and flew to the stove as I chuckled behind her.
Now that I'd agreed to marry Edward, and Victoria was out of the picture, and Charlie had approved, I was finding myself more and more eager for the day to come. I'd never thought about it much beforehand, knowing instinctively that I could not live without Edward and shouldn't try, but now I found myself wondering what it would be like to be Edward's wife…to be with him always, to know everything there was to know about him…
And always, always my mind wandered into the dangerous territory of imagining how our physical relationship would change, how I would one day soon know every part of his exquisite body. Someday soon I would know how he looked when he got out of the shower, what sort of underwear he wore, whether he would taste as good as he smelled…
Those thoughts were risky indeed. Once I'd found myself thinking them while staring at Edward, and when I realized what I was doing, naturally, I blushed deeply, causing him to ask questions – questions that I couldn't bring myself to answer. There was no way I was telling him which part of him I was thinking about.
It was with this shaky mindset that I let Alice drag me to Seattle to search for wedding dresses. I was overjoyed when Edward asked to come along, but rapidly disappointed to learn he would be doing some shopping of his own, and wouldn't be there to save me from Alice's obsessive tendencies.
"What are you shopping for?" I asked him as he slid into the driver's seat of the Volvo, having already helped me into the passenger's seat. Alice was already buckled up in the back, radiating energy like a young child on the way to McDonald's.
"That's my little secret for now," he said, flashing me a grin. Alice chuckled in the backseat, and though she refused to meet my eyes, I knew she knew.
I rolled my eyes at them. "Vampires," I muttered under my breath.
The drive to Seattle could take awhile, even with a crazy vampire behind the wheel, so I was glad for Edward's presence. Being away from him for a whole day could be excruciating, and it was even worse when I could do nothing but sit and wait for the ride to end. He held my hand as he drove and sang along to the CD he had playing, until Alice insisted, loudly, that he stop. I couldn't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to listen to Edward, but I supposed fifty years could make a lot of things irritating. I hoped I never became so inured to Edward.
Edward left us with the car at a small, chic boutique among Seattle's pricier stores. Even if he'd wanted to stay, Alice had forbidden him, just in case we found "the perfect dress" – but knowing Alice, that would take several trips.
After trying on at least twenty dresses, all of which were absolutely stunning and completely unsatisfactory to Alice, I demanded a break. She took me to get something to eat, and then to another store. I hoped Edward knew where to find us.
The afternoon passed much like the morning had, until I was slumped, exhausted in a chair outside the dressing rooms, while Alice tutted over the castoffs. "I think we may have to see about getting Vera to make you something."
"Vera?" I said, confused. Was this a vampire I'd yet to meet?
Alice looked at me in disbelief. "Very Wang, Bella! I'm sure she'd be happy to…she did Rosalie's last wedding…"
I blinked, about to question her more when the door opened and the saleswoman dropped a pile of hangers at what walked in. I turned around to find Edward, empty-handed, smirking at the entire scene.
"Seen anything you like, Bella?" he asked, striding over, ignoring the gawking saleswoman.
"Yes," I huffed, "Not that Alice will ever let me buy a dress."
Edward laughed and dragged me into a standing position. "I know it can be painful, but let Alice spoil you now. If you don't, she'll just have another way to guilt-trip you."
I sighed in mock-resignation, but any bad mood I'd been in had faded the minute he walked in the door. He looked so delightfully light-hearted that my own heart swelled. I wanted to keep him smiling that way forever.
"Come on, Alice," he said, tugging her away from the pile of dresses she was still fretting over. "It won't do us any good if Bella drops dead from exhaustion before the wedding."
Edward chuckled as he led me out the door at something I wasn't in on, Alice following behind us. I quirked an eyebrow in a silent request for answers.
"The clerk," he explained. "She wanted to kill you anyway, I'd reckon, because she had to assist you with half the store's stock and you didn't buy anything, but you turning out to be my fiancée was the last straw for her."
I glanced back through the plate-glass window in the door to find the saleswoman glaring after me. I flushed.
"It's Alice's fault, not mine," I complained as he held the car door open for me. "Why does everyone want to kill me?"
Edward shook his head. "No clue. If they had any sense, they'd want to keep you," he said, leaning over me to kiss me quickly on the forehead before he went around to the driver's side. My heart thrummed happily.
Alice was ignoring us, already in the backseat, with her cell phone out, having an intense conversation with someone. From the sounds of it, she was already hunting down a designer to make my dress. A part of me didn't mind. I wanted to be as beautiful as possible for Edward on that day, even if he would inevitably outshine me.
The drive home was quiet, pleasant, as Alice chattered away in the back, on a mission, and I watched Edward, whose eyes vacillated between me and the road.
Edward dropped Alice off at the road to their house before taking me home. I was still feeling buoyant and giddy, looking forward to spending a quiet evening with Edward…until he pulled up to my house, and what I saw there burst my bubble like a pin to a balloon.
Jacob's painstakingly built Rabbit was parked in our driveway, behind my truck, and he stood on the porch, with Charlie, speaking urgently.
"What's he doing?" I asked Edward, my stomach sinking with dread.
Edward's jaw was clenched when he turned to face me, angry. "His pack has planted evidence near the supposed crime scene – hairs, clothing scraps. Things that, with eyewitnesses, could be enough to subpoena us for DNA testing. He's come to tell Charlie what they 'found.'"
I felt the sickening sting of betrayal burn the back of my throat as I looked up and met Jacob's flat, emotionless eyes.