Err yeah...but nobody even bothers thinking I'm fast anymore. I did however finish most of this before Breaking Dawn came out. I just never got around to posting it. There are probably a million things that need to be edited. I just really wanted to put this chapter up. For me, this chapter dragged the most. And is kind of a filler. Probably because it was mostly a filler chapter in Bella's POV too...
Yeah, and since its been so long you should probably read the chapter before this too.
Feedback is loved as always.
Chapter 7: Nightmare
I stared at Alice incredulously.
"You bought me a jet?"
Alice grinned wickedly.
"Technically, I've only ordered the jet. It should come in few weeks."
As if that made it any better.
"We're trying to fit in, Alice!"
Alice rolled her eyes, exasperated.
"How are we supposed to hide it?"
"Forget about that. What kind of jet did you get?"
Alice's eyes lit up.
"A Falcon 10. Sleek and lightweight. It's perfect for Edward."
I thought about it. The Falcon 10 was a nice jet…
"Consider it your birthday gift."
…but now was the worst time to appear ostentatious. I did not want Bella to be more suspicious of us than she already was.
"My birthday is in June."
"Fine, an early birthday gift then," Alice sighed.
We all know that you want Bella for your birthday, but…
I growled, and glanced at the overcast sky. The sun had disappeared Saturday evening and had not come back since. Clouds covered the sky giving the feeling that it might open up and any moment. It would be the perfect moment to visit Bella. Alice had even said that Bella was at her home, working on her English paper. The only problem was that she was still awake. I knew I wouldn't be able to resist talking to her if I were to "visit" her.
That would create problems I didn't want to bring up.
I ignored the raw ache in my chest that cried out for her.
Alice cried out in pain. Emmett raised his eyebrows in her direction.
"You're going to make me return the jet!"
I stared. A small smile crept onto my face.
"You saw yourself telling me to return the jet!" Alice said heatedly. "I cannot believe you would tell me to return the Falcon!"
Emmett furtively glanced towards our home. Rosalie was in the garage waiting for him to finally come in. Alice had not let us into the house yet. She had been too excited about the jet.
I wanted to enter the house too. I needed talk to Jasper. I felt my stomach drop at the thought of what I had to ask.
"So you aren't going to take the jet?"
Alice was still glowering at me. I shrugged.
"If you say so Alice…"
"Fine. I'll just go cancel the order now." Alice snapped, utterly anguished, and then turned away. But as she walked towards the house, I could see some amusement lingering in her thoughts. She knew I was going to refuse the jet before the conversation even began. I sighed, relieved.
I had almost fallen for Alice's anguish. Almost.
Emmett went off to see Rosalie in the garage and I went to find Jasper. I didn't actually need to "find" him; he was sitting in his office, just where I thought he would be. The baseball game was on TV.
"Hello Edward," Jasper said, without looking away from the television. The Mariners were losing. I suddenly grew nervous. I almost did not want to know what Jasper would say. Jasper sensed my nervousness and turned to face me.
What is it?
I took a deep breath and asked my question.
"Have you ever felt an immense amount of attraction towards one particular scent?"
Jasper looked at me curiously. Other than Alice's scent?
I thought for a moment, and then reworded my question.
"An immense amount of thirst for one human scent?"
Jasper stared ahead thoughtfully.
I don't think I have. Not for one human scent anyways. All human scents create an equally immense amount of thirst in my blood system.
I sighed in relief. I had suspected this much.
I have spent such a long time thirsting on human blood that the sudden with drawl I experienced was…difficult. Every human I scented after that sent my thirsty emotions on overdrive, increased by the fact that I chose not to quench my thirst.
All human scents appear the same to me.
I nodded sagely. I remembered when Jasper had first come with Alice and told us he was going to attempt our vegetarian way of life. He had the most difficult time adjusting to the new lifestyle because of his old lifestyle. He still has the most difficult time maintaining this way of life.
Relieved as I was, I was not completely appeased. The only person I had encountered with a somewhat similar situation to mine was Emmett, and the result of his situation was not very promising.
This has to do with…your human right? Have you talked to Emmett yet?
I looked away from Jasper, my body clenching painfully. Jasper face tightened, my pain and tension visible on his features.
I take it you have heard Emmett's story…or stories I should say…
My horror gave way to surprise.
"You know Emmett's stories?"
"Am I the only one that does not know that this happened to Emmett?" I asked, annoyed.
It was ironic; the one person that could read minds was the one person that did not know this had happened. I frowned.
"How on earth did I not find out?"
"You were not there the second time it happened. That is when everyone else found out," Emmett stated, finally entering the room. He had been listening to our conversation for sometime, and had been able to infer what we were discussing from my side of the conversation.
Emmett spoke out loud for Jasper's benefit.
"The first time it happened, Rosalie suggested we stay away for a longer time than expected. She knew that we wouldn't be able to hide our secret from you or Jasper. At first it seemed pointless. Alice would have seen what happened, and would have told the rest of the family. But when Rosalie called Alice, she had surprisingly not told anyone yet. Rosalie convinced her to not to tell anyone. She said that I would tell the family when the time was right."
"Edward was still a problem though. He would find out whether we wanted him to or not. That was the real reason we stayed away for so long. We wanted to put the whole ordeal out our minds. After two months, we finally decided to come back when Edward was out hunting. It only took two days to get back into the regular swing of things and put the entire situation behind us, to some extent. It was not easy."
I remembered the day clearly. Carlisle, Jasper, and I had returned early when Carlisle found out that Emmett and Rosalie had come home. Despite all the smiles and hugs they had given out, something had seemed out of place with Emmett and Rosalie.
And then it all clicked together. I had almost asked Emmett what was wrong, what his mind seemed insistent not to think about, when Alice stopped me. With just a small shake of her head she told me not to question what had happened during their honeymoon. Alice then left the house, without explaining any further. I had always assumed something had happened between Emmett and Rosalie's relationship. But even that didn't seem right at the time.
So it was on Alice's insistence that I didn't ask Emmett. Indirectly because of Alice, I never found out what happened. Off course Alice would have known about it. How had I not thought about asking Alice? Then I remembered – she had run away before that idea could pop up. Alice had been the mastermind behind the plan. I felt a small sense of betrayal.
Don't feel bad, Jasper thought, Alice was only keeping her promise Rosalie. She would have done the same for you, or anyone in the family. She really was doing you a favor. What good would it have done to tell you? You would not have wanted to know.
The small amount of resentment that had built up slowly dissipated. I sighed. Jasper was right; Alice had done what was best at the time. There was no point in holding a grudge.
"So what happened the second time?" I questioned.
Emmett continued his explanation with effort. The past memories reflected anguish and desperation in his eyes.
"The second time had been too close to home to avoid. This time, Alice called me, alarmed. I didn't pick up, I couldn't. Alice, out of fear, told the rest of the family what had happened. Rosalie instantly drove out to where I was. When she saw me her fear increased ten fold. That is what she said, anyway. I couldn't remember anything clearly. All I remembered was coming home and listening to Rosalie and Alice tell our family the entire story. All I could think was…"
Emmett abruptly stopped talking. He turned away, distraught. Jasper also turned away, already knowing what Emmett was trying to say. I stared directly at Emmett, barely masking shock.
Emmett had considered killing himself. I had often succumbed to those feelings, but Emmett, never. His justification did not successfully cover my shock. He had felt that our family would be better off without him. It had been well past the first newborn year, when killing humans was somewhat acceptable, even forgivable.
But Emmett thought that if, after all of this time, he still couldn't control his thirst, then he didn't deserve to stay with the family. Both times the females happened to be alone. What if, the next time, she was in a crowd and he couldn't control himself? He thought it would be better to leave than to put the family in danger of being discovered.
Emmett had almost killed himself, and I hadn't even found out about it. How could have such a big ordeal remained a secret from me? I couldn't even find a rational explanation. The shock and confusion were clouding my thoughts.
Rosalie quietly entered the room, and glared at me.
Why are you making him do this, Edward?
I could see what she was talking about. Emmett's entire body was clenched, his face unsuccessfully masking his anguish. Relieving his weakest moments was torture for him. But what could I tell Rosalie? I couldn't stop Emmett now; I still had not found out where I fit into the story. My curiosity was putting Emmett in pain. Another tally describing my selfishness.
I should be the one thrown out of this family.
And yet there I stood, not saying a word.
Rosalie's eyes found Emmett's and her features softened. He reached out to her and she went to him. As he held her, his body started to relax. I turned away. Rosalie was right. It was not fair for Emmett to relive his weakest moments. I would ask Jasper to explain the rest later.
I got up to leave Jasper's office
"You were in Alaska."
Emmett's voice was quiet, slightly less pained than before. I turned to face him. He was holding Rosalie and was still looking away. Jasper was also staring at Emmett, the game now in the back of his mind.
"You had left to go visit the Denali Clan, and came back a month and a half after the…the second killing had happened. Rosalie and I had asked the family not to tell you, or think about it. If you were going to find out, it was going to be from one of us."
"But when you finally came back, I had just started getting over what I had done. The last thing I wanted to do was revive those memories. The more I thought about it – though not when you were around Edward – the more it made sense. What good would it do to tell you? So we never ended up telling you. It wasn't done on purpose. It was a mere coincidence that you never found out."
It was certainly one large coincidence.
Jasper faced me directly.
My mind had already rejected what he was going to saying before he had fully formulated his thoughts.
"Edward…this…relationship you have formed with Bella. It has to stop."
Emmett curiously turned to Jasper. Even Rosalie's face was void of any gloating emotion. Her eyes were still on Emmett.
"What if the same thing happens with Bella? You know it will be worse than Emmett's situation. It will be close to home, so all of us will have to leave this town. And you will be the one suffering for Bella's death. So many problems will be avoided if you simply avoid the girl."
I did not even bother analyzing Jasper's reason. I had already considered my options after hearing Emmett's story the first time. And I could honestly say that I had considered letting Bella go, that she might be too hard for me to resist. But I had already resisted her for so long, hadn't I? Did that not increase my chances of resisting her mouthwatering scent next time? Or was my point contradicted by the fact that I considered a few months of resisting her "so long."
What would happen when I finally broke?
No, my conscience furiously rebutted. As long as I was around Bella, I would be human. That was the least I could do for her. After all, she was going to be forced to endure all that was me.
Was I even worth the endurance?
It was quite obvious that the answer was "no."
Alice cheerfully bounced into the room and asked if all of us wanted to go out, just us siblings. Carlisle was working all day today so that he would not have to go in on Monday or Tuesday, and Esme had declined Alice's offer.
"Do you have some place in mind?" Jasper asked.
"Anywhere, " Alice said in a gentle pleading voice. "Fresh air is the antidote to obtaining a clear mind."
Alice's homemade adage would have been humorous had it not been directed at Emmett. Alice had not been oblivious to the conversation that had been taking place in this office.
Jasper shrugged in assent; he would go wherever Alice wanted him to be. Rosalie was about to decline Alice's offer when Emmett interrupted. He insisted that Alice was right; the fresh air would clear his mind. What he actually was thinking was that the company of his siblings would distract him.
Rosalie and Emmett both agreed to go.
Alice then faced me.
"I'll stay here," I informed her. I needed to sort out my mind before I went anywhere near Bella, and fresh air was not exactly what I had in mind.
"Don't mope around too much," Alice said with an odd sense of truth in her joking tone. I rolled my eyes and walked out of the office. My siblings were right behind me. I watched them leave the house, laughing.
Maybe I should have just gone with them. Emmett was probably right. It would have been a good distraction from the miserable situation I was in. I couldn't even count the number of times that I had reconsidered my decision to visit Bella, to spend time with her, to continue this unreal friendship we shared.
Once again I stood at crossroads, still unable to decide what to do.
I sighed and glanced at the clock.
One thing was certain. I would visit Bella tonight. Her scent, her heart throbbing aura, would definitely soothe my troubled thoughts. Or would it simply allow me to continue living this delusion without questioning it?
As my brain racked for answers, my heart responded that it didn't matter. Whatever I ended up deciding, it would end up involving Bella. I could not let her go. It was too late. I had fallen in, and no longer had the option of getting back out.
Choosing to no longer dwell on this subject, I went downstairs into the living room. The piano had not been touched for nearly a week. I felt the familiar envelope of relaxation cover my body as my hands skimmed the keys.
I closed my eyes and played.
I played the first piece I had ever composed. It was light and flowery. My fingers flowed over the keys. It was Esme's favorite piece. I heard her thanks from upstairs as I played that song.
That piece then flowed into a much darker piece. It was raw and angry. A piece composed during my time of rebellion. Oddly enough, when I had bought my own apartment away from my family, I had also bought a piano. The piano had been my only touch with humanity at the time. It was a shame that the only pieces I had played were heated.
I watched my fingers flow inhumanly across the piano. If I had been human, my hands would have been bleeding. I continued to play faster and faster. It was a full-blown description of that phase in my life.
Was Bella just a phase in my life? Would I eventually realize the error in my ways, like I had during my period of killing? Putting this one human in danger was equivalent killing all those people back in my rebellion phase. Possibly even worse. After killing all of those people, and then realizing the error in my ways, I had still been able to come home and continue living with my family.
If I ever harmed Bella, I would never be able to live with myself. While all the people I had killed had probably deserved it, Bella was innocent. Sweet, innocent, and undeserving of this curse that she would become a part of if she were to continue befriending me.
As I thought of Bella, my fingers began to slow. The song that I had been playing became less about speed and more about depth. The song touched my core. It became sweeter, like honey. No, sweeter than honey. Like Bella. The song was for Bella, about Bella. It seemed to emphasize everything that was Bella.
The killing phase in my life had altered my outlook on life entirely. It changed my opinion on killing, on the way humans should be treated. It changed my way of handling life, and made not thirsting on humans a much more reasonable cause. Without that phase in my life, I might not have been able to stop myself from taking her blood.
Similarly, Bella had completely altered my life. Whether she was just a phase of my life or not, I would never be able to go back to time where there was no Bella. There would never be a time when I did not remember her scent or the smile on her lips, or the sound of her heart beat. She had moved an unmovable being. And it could never be moved back.
Suddenly I could no longer take the wait. The sky was still overcast and it was nearly 6 o'clock. It did not matter that Bella was awake. I had not seen her face in nearly three days. I had not heard her heart beat in nearly three days. I needed to see her right then. Hear her. Smell her.
I grabbed my jacket off of the coat rack for appearances – not that I would be seen – and left for Bella's house.
I arrived there in precisely three minutes and placed myself in a tree just outside of Bella's window. She was not in her room at the time. Charlie's thoughts were focused on his fishing trip that day and the meal that Bella might be able to make later that week from his catch. Bella, I presumed since I could not hear her 'voice', was downstairs making dinner.
I waited to hear Bella's voice.
Throughout Bella's entire cooking process, she didn't say one word. She did, however, manage to drop three spoons, a bowl, and a pan. Each time, both Charlie and I winced. Charlie, while watching the baseball game on television, and I, while sitting outside of Bella's bedroom and waiting.
While I sat outside on the tree waiting, I wondered when Bella would finally end up coming back into her room. And then another idea hit me. There was no need for me to patiently sit here and wait. I could always enter her room and wait for her. And then when I heard her coming, I could leave. I would even be able to slip downstairs and watch her eat with her father.
I climbed onto a higher branch and gently eased myself into Bella's bedroom. I made no noise, and the Swans did not notice the presence of another being in the house. I didn't bother to turn on the light. I didn't need it.
Once in Bella's room, I took a deep breath before getting ready to head to the bottom of the stairs where I could see Bella. I instantly froze, keeling over with the scent of the room.
In the process of getting in the room and planning my way into Bella's house, I seemed to have forgotten that I was in Bella's room. Bella's room that was filled with Bella's scent. Her room smelled like Heaven. And Hell.
Testing the dangerous waters I was traveling on, I took another deep breath. The same desirable sensation ran through me. My head jerked towards the top of the stairs, and I automatically crouched in a pouncing position. My senses had found the source of the scent downstairs in Bella's kitchen. The venom built up in my throat. I had not smelt Bella in nearly three days. My body seemed to forget that I had just hunted.
It did not matter. All that mattered that I had Bella's scent right here in front of me. Just downstairs, so easily accessible. Just one other human being between me and what I wanted. One weak human – so easily taken out. I would take my time on the girl, but not let the blood get cold. It would be my one moment of weakness. Two deaths would make no difference on my record.
I leaned forward, putting more pressure on my toes. Ready to pounce.
My mind fought my body as I was wrenched two different directions. I held on to my human-like senses long enough to stick my head out of the window. A few deep breaths helped clear the scent and my mind. I could no longer even think of going downstairs. I was in too much danger of harming Bella right now.
Tonight was worse than any other night in Bella's room had ever been. In the future, I would not be able to spend too much time away from Bella; time seemed to nullify all my efforts to stay humane around her scent. I had to immunize myself to the scent again – not that I would ever completely be immune. I was lucky that Bella was not in the room when I had first entered. If this was just my reaction to her items, then God only knows what my reaction to her would have been.
I gritted my teeth and let my head into the room again. I could control myself; I would control myself.
Warily, I took a normal breath. I felt my body clench and the venom in my throat build up, but this time I was able to hold back a full physical reaction. Hunting large game had helped a little bit. I wasn't completely thirsty anymore, even if my body still cried out for her.
Now somewhat in control of my emotions, I examined the room I was in.
I had never been in this room without Bella's presence. This was, after all, only the third night I had been here. The first night had been when I first discovered my jealousy; the second night was right before we had left for our hunting trip. I had needed to see Bella safe before I left for a few days.
I had never been able to clearly look at the room. Whenever Bella was in the room, my eyes automatically fell on her and never saw anything else.
Glancing at Bella's bed, I tentatively reached forward and picked up Bella's pillow. I held the pillow up to my face and took a whiff of it. It smelled like Bella and strawberries. I smiled.
"So I see you brought home enough fish to feed all of Forks?"
Ah, there was Bella's enchanting voice. It involuntarily reduced my immense thirst for her blood, or rather it increased my willpower to avoid reacting to it. Her voice let me concentrate more on her, rather than her scent. It was like a balm. It was her Savior, and mine too.
Charlie mumbled something in reply. Throughout the rest of the meal, they said little to nothing. I was satisfied with what I heard. I was content to even be hearing Bella's voice at all. It meant that she was still alive, and still very much real.
Bella mumbled that she was going to finish her English paper upstairs. Her footsteps on the stairs were my cue to leave. I winced on the tree outside of her room when I heard Bella fall on the stairs, again. She really needed to be protected from herself.
Bella came into her room and paused, as though something was out of place. I frowned. I was quite sure that I had put everything back exactly where I had found it. Then, to my surprise, Bella's eyes fell on the window. I shrunk back into the thick middle of the tree were it was impossible to be seen. After a second or so, Bella shrugged and began turning on her computer.
While Bella was working on her essay, I was left to examine her. She was wearing a pair of holey pajama bottoms and an old tee shirt. She looked ridiculously beautiful in it. Only Bella was able to pull off such a look of sweet innocence and utter beauty in an old pair of pajamas.
After Bella finished her essay, she put in a CD and turned up the music. My eyebrows rose when I heard the loud rock beat. Debussy to this? I smirked. Bella never failed to amaze me. I would probably end up going out and buying the CD later on. Just to see what Bella saw in the music.
Bella was asleep by 10 PM.
Once her heartbeat reached a normal level, and I was nearly positive that she was asleep, I quietly entered her room. I sat myself down on the rocking chair across from her bed and waited for Bella's voice.
I had to admit; making sure Bella stayed safe was not the only reason I was here. Bella said a great many things in her sleep, and what she said was fascinating. It was like getting the insight into her mind that I could never get while she was awake. I awaited it like a child awaited an ice cream truck.
"Green," Bella muttered as she tossed around.
I paused, a pleasant chill running through my body. I often found myself talking to Bella's sleep talk.
"What's green?" I murmured gently.
"Mom…it's too green here."
I sighed. She was talking about Forks again. And her mother. She missed both her mother and her home. A small sense of sadness crept through me. Although a large part of me knew it was best if Bella left back for Arizona, my heart still wanted her to make Forks her home. Arizona was much too sunny. And much too far away.
"It's too green," Bella mumbled again and then rolled over. The rain had started to downpour again. I glanced outside. Alice had said that it was going to be sunny tomorrow. The weather, thankfully, did not look very promising of that prediction.
Bella continued to toss and turn.
"No…" she mumbled, agitated. I got up out of the rocking chair and knelt beside Bella. She had never been that anxious in her sleep.
"Edward," she cried out again. My breath caught. I felt more worry than thrill from hearing those words. She sounded like she was in pain. Maybe she had finally discovered what I was. I was, after all, the perfect creature to be found in her nightmares. My face hardened.
My presence right now was probably unconsciously bothering her. She would probably want to cancel our Seattle plans when she next saw me on Wednesday. In that case, I should not be in her room.
I got up from her bedside to leave when Bella cried out again.
Was I hurting her too? Pain shot through me. I knelt beside her earnestly.
"Bella, darling, love, I will never hurt you. For as long as I live, I will never harm a single hair on your head. I love you. I always will. You are my life, my soul, my eternity. I swear Bella, nothing will stop me from keeping you safe," I soothed, desperation dripping from my voice. The ache in my body increased with every word. I knew that I was trying to convince myself of these words more than I was trying to convince Bella's sleeping body.
I tentatively reached out and ran my fingers across Bella's forehead. The frown lines on her face smoothed out. She stopped tossing and turning and lay still. Assured that my skin was not somehow producing a negative reaction, I continued to stroke her forehead with my thumb. I gently moved her hair from her face.
"I love you," I continued to murmur, like a mantra.
After a few minutes, Bella was entirely peaceful in her sleep.
I smiled at her peaceful form. At least my presence was able to do something useful for her during her nightmare. Even if I was the main character of the nightmare. I was compelled to continue stroking her cheek and her face.
"Edward," Bella sighed out.
This time a pure thrill of life shot through my body. Her voice energized every part of me. I gently removed my fingers from her face. Her face scrunched for a minute before smoothing again. My body filled with unquenchable fire. I felt young and reckless and wildly in love.
Grinning, I sat back down in the rocking chair and watched Bella sleep the rest of her night dreamlessly.
Alice had been right. I swore. It was brilliantly sunny outside. This left me with no possibility to talk to Bella today. Unless I were to visit her later in the evening. But we weren't on close terms yet; it would be just a little bit odd for both her and her father if I showed up at her house in the evening without an explanation.
"Don't do it," Alice said.
I glanced at her from where I was sitting on the couch. Alice was on the carpet floor with her back pressed against the couch. She was painting her nails at an incredibly slow speed. It took all the fun out of painting nails, Alice said, if she did it at full speed. I didn't care; whatever suited her was fine with me. It wasn't like the acrid smell of nail polish that troubled some humans bothered me.
"It will be a very awkward situation for both of you. And you will end up giving her the wrong message if you just drop by today in the evening for a 'chat'," Alice continued. I looked at her coldly.
"I got the gist of that from your thoughts, but thanks you so much for repeating it out loud anyway," I muttered acidly. She really didn't have to say anything out loud, and she knew it. The more she said out loud, the more the rest of the family could hear. I got enough trouble from some members of the family without Alice telling them more than they needed to know.
When I came home early this morning, thrilled to the core, Alice had very inconveniently revealed that I had spent most of the night at Bella's house. Rosalie was repulsed and immediately left the room. Jasper was slightly shocked as he had been the other two nights, but one look from Alice silenced his thoughts. After that he simply shrugged and moved on.
Emmett perhaps had the worst reaction of all. When he realized what Alice was talking about, he catcalled loudly and then began making crude remarks. I told him several times that she was asleep the entire time I had been there – which really was not a significant lie, the only time I had been in Bella's room was when she was either asleep or not there – but that didn't seem to stop Emmett's persistent remarks. After awhile I simply stopped paying attention. Getting upset would only be fuel for the fire.
Predictably, Emmett entered the room to repeat Alice's words unnecessarily. I groaned inwardly. I almost wished that Emmett were still uncomfortable enough about my situation with Bella to not talk about it.
Emmett was grinning ear to ear.
No physical reaction, I reminded myself. No fuel for the fire.
"So you're planning on visiting Bella tonight?"
I said nothing.
"Actually," Alice quipped in, "the plan was to visit her in the evening so that he could actually talk to her."
"Talk, Edward? Now come on, was that really all you wanted to do?"
My entire body froze so that I sat like a statue. I would not fuel Emmett's little games.
Emmett laughed. My fists clenched. I didn't react to what he had said, but to what he was thinking. Bella was an innocent angel. A queen of virtue. No one would desecrate her virtue while I was still alive. Even in their mind. Especially if this desecration involved me.
Especially when the more human side of me longed for more.
I clenched my fists even more tightly and deliberately stared forward.
"Actually," Emmett added, "all he probably wants to do is talk. Talking is all Edward knows. A lack of experience would probably keep him from doing anything else. But hey, I've heard that guys without experience are more impassioned in…"
The love seat cushion smacked Emmett in the mouth, throwing him back against the wall.
Emmett had deliberately baited me, and I had taken the bait.
Emmett noisily dislodged himself from the wall and crouched with a menacing playfulness. I growled on the other side of the couch. My crouch was anything but playful. Emmett placed his palm upward and beckoned me with two fingers. I curled my teeth upward and snarled in a low tone.
Alice, who had been smiling cheekily earlier, took one at my expression and scowled.
"If you're going to fight, do it somewhere else. I'd rather not deal with dodging furniture while painting my nails."
"Shouldn't you be done by now?" I questioned angrily. I had finally snapped. I turned to face Emmett.
"And don't you have anything better to do? Or has your 'experience' come around as a negative and made you not 'impassioned' enough for Rosalie?"
"Whoa," Emmett said, surprised yet pleased that I was indulging his humor, "I didn't think you talked like that. And Rosalie is fixing her car right, by the way. But you know I can get her to stop if I wanted to." He winked playfully.
"Well don't let me get in the way," I muttered heatedly. The more I heard Emmett's chatter, the more annoyed I became. I fluidly got up to leave.
Emmett grinned and stretched himself out on the couch where I had just been sitting. Alice sighed.
He shouldn't have said the last comment…Rosalie heard him from the garage and she's not going to be too happy.
A quick check into Rosalie's mind confirmed Alice's thoughts.
I smirked slightly as I left the room. Rosalie would give him a hard time later. She had dignity too, and Emmett had just crossed the line. More importantly, it kept Emmett busy for a while and away from mocking my problems. I had enough to deal with without Emmett's comments on my love life – or lack of love life.
Making a split second decision, I stepped out of the house through the back door into the sunny backyard, where I could not be seen. Unlike many vampire myths that have been created, we did not actually burn in the sun; we glittered like thousands of diamonds. Burning or shinning, both were equally inconvenient.
I sighed and gave up not trying to think about Bella.
She would be at school by now, but not in any class yet.
I could see her in my mind, arriving a little late to school because had been too busy admiring the rare sun in Forks. Her hair would be tied in a ponytail hurriedly and her face would be flushed. My accented sense of smell tingled at the thought of the blood that would rush to her face while running to make it to class.
My heavenly vision continued.
Running into the main building, she would then stop by at her locker, and no doubt drop a few books while attempting to open it. Then she would barely make it to class on time. Barely, but she would still be there. Flushed and entrancing to all who saw her.
I sighed. This break from Bella was becoming impossible to handle.
But did I really need to take a break from Bella?
The more I thought about it the less absurd it seemed. There were a good ten minutes before the first bell was supposed to ring, and there were plenty of trees around the school. I should easily be able to make myself unnoticeable among the dense group of trees near the front of the school.
And if that didn't work I could always run back and forth at a constant high speed. Vampires ran at such high speeds that they became nearly invisible to the human eye. As long as no one was directly staring in my general direction, I would be out of sight to the naked eye even in a clearing.
Moreover, I could detect suspicion of anything unusual in any human's mind. I would be able to leave the area if anyone's suspicion increased too much. All except for Bella of course. But I had grown so attuned and attached to Bella's heartbeat that I could detect any significant increase in her heartbeat, which might be caused by unusual suspicion.
The eager recklessness that I had fought to dissipate last night had worked itself back into my body. I was going to see Bella before nightfall.
The only thing left for me to do was to see where Bella actually was in school. I did not want to waste any time searching for her when there was another better option available.
My enthusiasm increased my speed as I sprinted back into the house to find Alice. Alice knew what my thoughts were before I had even entered the house.
She arrived at school early, so she decided to sit on a picnic bench on the south side of the cafeteria and check math problems. Be careful not to be seen Edward.
Taking Alice's advice, I left home and ran to school to see Bella.
I arrived there with five minutes to spare. The entire school had become fairly populated within that time. Luckily, the park bench in Alice's vision was right in front of the woods behind the high school. I would easily be able to cover myself in the thicket of trees.
Being a few hundred feet from Bella did nothing to change my vision of her. Her lips were pursed and her eyes were focused on the paper in front of her. Her legs were slightly crossed and her hair was blowing in the light breeze.
The rest of the student body disappeared in front of my eyes. All I could see was the angel in front of me.
Mike Newton abruptly ruined the picturesque moment.
"Bella!" Mike called out. Bella's head jerked up instantly. She looked surprised but happy. The sun lit up her face more than a thousand diamonds could ever light up my body.
"Hey Mike!" Bella called back, waving enthusiastically.
The happiness that had entered my body when seeing Bella instantly disappeared. Horror and revulsion replaced it. Did something happen at that beach trip while I was away?
Mike sat on the bench next to Bella. She smiled at him and he shifted close to her. Despair racked through my body. Painful as it was to watch them, I could not look away.
"I never noticed before – your hair has red in it," he commented, putting a strand of her hair behind her ear. This time I had to look away. Some time ago, I had agreed to let Bella chose whoever she desired, but Mike Newton? Mind blowing pain filled my body as logic fought a battle against my heart.
"Only in the sun," Bella replied, subtly angling herself away from Mike.
I gazed at her again, confused. There was something off about the way she turned away from him. I dared to hope.
Mike's body language and thoughts were unperturbed.
"Great day, isn't it?"
"My kind of day," Bella echoed.
"What did you do yesterday?" Mike demanded, propriety ringing in every syllable. The voice sounded too demanding. She better not have been with Jacob Black!
I smiled smugly. Hope had fully returned. Mike Newton was in the exact same position with Bella as he had been before the beach trip. Nowhere near her heart. Not that I was anywhere near her heart either, but at least I knew that it wasn't because my efforts weren't sincere. I just wasn't allowed to show any efforts. Bella could not be tied down to this black hole that was my life.
Jacob Black was not a worry yet. He was just a child. True, a child that came from werewolves, but a child nonetheless.
"I mostly worked on my essay," Bella said hesitantly.
Mike hit his forehead with the heel of his hand. I willed him to continue slapping his forehead with his hand. Or on second thoughts, he probably shouldn't. He didn't have very many brain cells to spare.
"Oh yeah!" Mike exclaimed. "That's due Thursday, right?"
"Um Wednesday, I think."
"Wednesday?" He forced himself to frown. In his mind, he was jumping up and down like a child; he was just happy to be making small talk with Bella. How I could have possibly thought Mike and Bella were together?
"That's not good…What are you writing yours on?"
"Whether Shakespeare's treatment of female characters is misogynistic." Her eyes lit up confidently. I chuckled quietly; Bella would choose an opinionated topic like that. She understood her subject matter. Mike on the other hand…
He had an entirely blank expression. Even his thoughts were silent.
"I guess I'll have to get to work on that tonight," he said still slightly confused. He then brightened. "I was going to ask if you wanted to go out."
He had asked the question so suddenly that it took a moment to react. But when I finally reacted, it hit as hard as it hit the first time. Rage boiled over in my body. Fire ran through my veins. Anger took over my body. Jealousy consumed me. I found my body shaking, blurring the outline of my body.
I clenched my teeth.
With much effort, I controlled the physical reaction. The emotional rage, however, could not be suppressed.
I snarled quietly.
"Oh," Bella mumbled awkwardly.
"Well, we could go to dinner or something…and I could work on it later," Mike continued hopefully. Jealousy was truly an odd emotion. Even though I knew Bella was going to reject him, the anger still appeared ten fold. Every fiber in my being longed to tear through him, launch at his throat, and suffocate his ungrateful self.
I pinched the bridge in my nose to control my anger and frustration.
"Mike…" Bella sighed, a clear indication of rejection, "I don't think that would be the best idea."
Mike's face instantly fell. I felt no pity for him.
"Why?" Mike questioned suspiciously. His thoughts came out sounding like a whine. I bet it's because of Edward Cullen. I was half expecting him to show up to La Push on Saturday. Thank goodness he chickened out. He has every single girl following him…why does he have to talk to the girl I want to be with…
I was surprised to hear my name, although I shouldn't have been. Our small conversation at lunch seemed to have become a historic moment throughout the junior and senior classes of Forks High School.
Bella took a moment to word her thoughts.
"I think…" Bella began hesitantly and then added in an undertone, "and if you ever repeat what I'm saying right now I will cheerfully beat you to death, but I think that would hurt Jessica's feelings."
Jessica again. Jessica had annoyed me back when she was obsessed with me, and her name now was causing trouble too. And worry. Was Bella only rejecting Mike because of Jessica? What if Jessica were out of the picture?
For a split second I was thankful that Jessica was around. And then I remembered all the trouble she had caused and all the gossip she made out of Bella's life. From what I saw in Jessica's mind, she wasn't in a good mood today either.
Mike seemed even more confused than before. How dense could he be?
He had forgotten about Jessica. Poor Jessica didn't even deserve a fool like him.
"Really, Mike, are you blind?"
Mike seemed relieved. He too thought that Bella was only rejecting him because of Jessica. I grew more frustrated with every passing second.
"Oh," he exhaled gratefully.
"It's time for class, and I can't be late again," Bella said hurriedly, attempting to cover the awkward situation, and they walked off to class. Away from me.
I would not be able to see Bella anymore, or hear her "voice" for that matter, but I would be able to read the people's minds around her to see what she was up to. I had originally intended to simply see Bella before school and then leave, but her presence was like a drug. I was hooked onto it and now couldn't leave.
Besides, what else was there to do? Go home and listen to Emmett?
But no matter how much reasoning I made for staying here, I couldn't deny that I was partially here to see what Mike was going to do. For now it seemed like one rejection a day was his limit, but who knew what was really going through his mind.
I chuckled at that. Of course I knew exactly what was going through his mind. I could, after all, see the inside of his head. And that was why I was staying here. I may not be able to do anything about Mike, but at least I could see what was going on.
I buried myself further into the woods behind the school, and carefully made sure I was out of the sun.
A second passed in almost silence.
Sighing in resignation, I let go of all the energy that it had taken to ignore the several voices of the high school. The gates opened and the flood of voices came in.
High school clamor was significantly nauseating. It might actually be better for half of these students to stop thinking. They might just make smarter decisions. Closing my eyes, I sorted through all the voices until I narrowed down a few voices that I was sure would interact with Bella. The voices were made up of Jessica, Angela, Lauren, and unfortunately Mike Newton and Tyler Crowley.
Fixing my mind on the first human, I delved into Jessica's mind.
It began unoriginally and selfishly as most human minds did. She was thinking about her image in her small compact mirror. She thought her hair was too dry; she would have to put some conditioner in it today. Bella turned to Jessica and asked a question. Jessica smiled and cheerfully answered the question. Her inner thoughts, however, were anything but pleasant.
Look at her. She looks like she just rolled out of bed. Why do guys like her so much? Is the 'rolled out of bed' look the new thing? Whatever it is, it looks stupid. I bet I can pull off a much better look that can impress Mike more than Bella would ever be able to. After all, Mike did ask me to the dance, not Bella…
Annoyed, I stopped focusing in on Jessica. I didn't want to hear Jessica's insulting thoughts on Bella or her rant about Mike Newton. The urge to protect Bella and spite Jessica rose in my chest. The worst injuries come from those that are closest to you. And right now, Jessica was Bella's closest human friend. I now knew how irrational jealousy could be and therefore knew what havoc Jessica could wreak based on that sole feeling.
That jealousy had been there since the day she had met Bella. I might have acted upon her emotions earlier if I hadn't thought that Bella could handle this situation on her own.
Even when Bella was with her human friends, she appeared to be slightly unattached from the group. It was like she knew that the most that Jessica could do to her was take away her friendship, and it wasn't worth that much to begin with in the first place.
That left my protectiveness over Bella without a justification.
I shook my head. I was over thinking things again.
Instead of looking at individual children's minds - which was beginning to become unbearable, I decided that I would look at the school's atmosphere as a whole. After sometime of mulling around in the minds of the general student body – a tedious affair – I discovered the general "talk" going around the school.
Mike had carried Jessica's books for her in order to make Bella jealous, and Jessica was ecstatic. Fully assured that Mike Newton was hers, she enthusiastically invited Bella to go dress shopping with her, Angela, and Lauren in Port Angeles. She pitied Bella. Bella said she would ask her father.
I frowned. Unless Bella went with them after the sun went down, I would not be able to keep an eye on her. I grew slightly worried. Port Angeles was only a small step above Forks regarding danger level, but knowing Bella, she would find herself in some sort of trouble. And this time I wouldn't be able to save her.
Fear poured into my system. What if Bella got separated from the group and went out alone? What if someone else found her?
I shook my head. There wasn't any reason for her to leave the group of girls while shopping. No reason at all. No reason to be worried.
My worry did not extinguish.
Lauren Mallory's nasally "voice" churned out my name in the school's cafeteria during lunch.
There she goes again. Staring at the Cullen table looking all depressed. I bet she's looking for Edward Cullen. Who does she think she is anyway? Why would Edward Cullen be interested her in the first place? So he talked to her once, big deal. I've talked to him too! She's not nearly good enough for him. I growled automatically. Besides what's she doing staring at the Cullen table when she's supposed to be going to Prom with Tyler? How could Tyler do that to me? How dare she…
I pulled away, bemused. Prom? With Tyler? Was he still delusional? Turning away from Lauren, I found Tyler's voice right next to hers.
Wow. Lauren looks hot, even when she's pissed off. And I'm the guy taking her to the Spring Dance or whatever that is. And I'm going to Prom with Bella, and she's got that innocent cute look going for her. It's a double hitter that only I could have pulled off…
I could see a blurry visual through Tyler's mind. He was talking animatedly with Lauren, and then suddenly turned away when Lauren turned away to talk to Jessica. Tyler grinned widely at Bella, and Bella looked taken aback. She smiled uncertainly back at him, and then frowned when he winked. The frown became hazy and then was somehow converted into a wink back at him. Smirking smugly in his thoughts, he continued to praise his ability to get the two best-looking girls in the junior class.
Tyler's situation would have been laughable had it not been with Bella. While earlier it had been funny to see Tyler get rejected, I was now partly responsible for the dilemma I had put Bella in. The child was delusional and was imagining that Bella was flirting with him, which was not the case. From experience, I had learned how to tell when someone was lying in their thoughts. I had no doubt that Bella's wink was a made up fantasy. That only fueled my idea that Tyler was mentally unbalanced and should be nowhere near Bella.
Tyler was a hopeless case. My only fear was that Bella would go with him to avoid further embarrassing him. She would do something sweet and selfless like that. We truly were polar opposites. She was a human, breakable, and selfless, and now bound to Forks. I was a vampire, unbreakable, and selfish. I was inhumanly fast and could go anywhere I desired.
Oh God, then what was I doing here? Did I really just spend the last few hours looking at high school students' minds just so that I might get a small glimpse of Bella? Had I lost my mind? Was I really that desperate?
Jessica began absentmindedly daydreaming.
If only Mike were more like Edward. Oh Edward Cullen. If only those perfect lips would press against mine, if only that perfect body would…
No, I was not that desperate yet.
Now fully repulsed, I pulled my energy back into ignoring the voices mulling in my head. There was no more reason to stay. I had had more than my dose of useless teenager garble for one day. Confirming one last time that Bella was safe – other than some hormonal teenage boys – I left the high school grounds as quickly as possible.
I would find Bella later and catch a glimpse of her before she left for Port Angeles that day. Then the moment the sun disappeared, I would be behind her, tracing her footsteps, acting as her silent protector.
I couldn't help but wonder when the protector would become the predator.
Shaking those dangerous thoughts, I entered my home. I had some time to kill before I could visit Bella's house and see what her plans were.
Everyone at home was occupied in his or her own tasks. Alice and Jasper were outside, spending some quality time together. Rosalie was stubbornly fixing her car, refusing to listen to Emmett, while Emmett was desperately planning ways to make it up to Rosalie. Esme was tending to her backyard garden, and Carlisle was in his office.
My presence was only vaguely acknowledged when I got home. Emmett sought me out to apologize.
"Look Edward, you know I was joking around, right?"
I smirked. Yeah, right.
"Are you sure about that?"
Emmett grinned back.
"Okay, I wasn't completely joking. But the things I said about Rosalie, for example, were jokes." He spoke to the floor rather than to me, knowing that Rosalie would hear it in the garage.
"She's ignoring you, you know."
"I know," Emmett sighed.
Carlisle's 'voice' came as a surprise when he called Emmett and me upstairs into his office. He wasn't specific about it.
"Carlisle wants to talk to all of us?" Emmett asked curiously when I told him. I shrugged and both of us ascended the stairs to his office. Alice, Jasper, and Esme were already upstairs in his office. Jasper was intently staring at Alice whose eyes were closed. Esme was standing beside Carlisle, who was more apprehensive than usual. I could see why.
"They're coming this week?" I abruptly blurted out when I entered the room. Emmett looked at me, confused.
"Yes," Carlisle replied. "Alice has informed me that our three nomadic human blood sucking vampires are coming this week – more likely this weekend than during the week."
I glanced back at Alice. It now became obvious that she was trying to have another vision about these new vampires.
"I thought we would have more time to prepare for this," Esme stated, somewhat surprised.
"Does it matter? You know we can take them down," Emmett said confidently – a grin plastered on his face. This would be a break from the monotone for him. Carlisle sighed.
"They're not looking to fight us. They want to become friends and stay with us for a while. I have a feeling that they do not know about our lifestyle yet. They will not like it."
A conversation ensued from there. There were several areas we needed to take into account. We could not afford to alienate them because they might become angry and hunt in this area. We could not afford to keep them here for long either because they would need to hunt. Hunting here might reveal us for what we are.
My main concern was Bella's safety. If Bella were in Forks when these vampires arrived, she would be in danger of being harmed. It was bad enough that I was in the picture. Vampires that drank human blood would be a thousand times worse; they had no sense of control of their bloodthirsty systems. Under no circumstances would I allow Bella near these vampires.
I wondered if I could convince Bella to stay with me this entire weekend. She was going to spend all of Saturday with me in Seattle; perhaps I could convince her to spend Sunday with me too.
Two days alone with Bella. I wasn't so sure that it was even a better option. That would be the ultimate test of my control. I couldn't afford to fail. I would be intoxicated for two days straight. What if I simply never brought her back?
But she was telling her father right? If she never came home, her father would certainly notice. And if he knew that she was coming with me, I would be the primary suspect. That might just be enough incentive to bring Bella back home.
I struggled to find another option that would keep Bella safe – meaning away from all bloodthirsty vampires – yet still have someone that could keep her out of trouble watching over her. I came up with nothing else.
I would have to keep her with me for the weekend. I would have to keep her away from all that wanted to hurt her.
Guilt arose instantly. I was planning to abandon my family when they needed me. But did they really need me, my heart argued back. There was more than enough manpower here without me.
In the end, logic won. I wasn't needed here for manpower. I would be needed to keep tabs on their minds, to make sure that they were satiated enough to not think about hunting humans. I would play a key role in keeping the Forks community safe.
But what about Bella's safety?
If only there was some way to keep Bella with me and stay with my family at the same time…
Edward, Esme's voice said gently. What is on your mind?
I shrugged as nonchalantly as possible while my mind raged on. Esme looked at me curiously and then impulsively spoke up.
"What about Bella?" she said softly. The words came out of her mouth the instant she thought them.
The entire family turned to face her, including me.
"What about Bella?" Carlisle asked, mildly surprised.
"Yes, what about Bella?" Rosalie sneered. I growled. Esme ignored her.
"What are we going to do with Bella when these vampires come?" Esme looked pointedly in my direction. I smiled at her gratefully. She was treating Bella with special care, which is exactly what I wanted to do.
"I don't see why we need to do anything," Rosalie scoffed. "She should be treated like every other human in this town."
"But she's not like every other human in this town," Alice said reasonably. "At least not to Edward anyway."
"Yes," Esme added keenly.
Edward loves her so much…if he loses her…
It was unspoken what would happen to me if Bella were gone. A cold shiver ran down my spine. I wasn't even going to consider it.
"That is a good point," Carlisle said thoughtfully. He turned to me.
What do you think?
"Well," I began, unsure of what exactly my plan was. "I was considering staying with Bella for the weekend. I am already staying with her all of Saturday. I don't think it will be too much effort to stay the night with her, without her knowing of course, and then convince her to spend Sunday with me too."
"Edward," Jasper said hesitantly, "Do you think it's really wise…"
"There isn't another option. I can't see Bella get hurt, not when there is something I can do to prevent it!" I said heatedly.
"And what about us," Rosalie added coldly. "Bella's not the only one that needs you either. It would be a damper on our effort to save the Forks community if the one person who could read their minds is missing. Are you really going to risk this entire town for one human?"
"There will be no risk to the entire town, "I promised. "Alice will be able to tell beforehand when they are coming. When she finds out when they are coming, she can call me and I'll drop Bella home and be wherever you need me to be before those vampires show up. That way Bella will be safe because we'll know where the nomadic vampires are; not near Bella. At the same time, I'll be able to be with the family to put up a united front."
My family was silent.
"That sounds like a decent plan," Emmett finally responded.
"If you think that will work," Jasper shrugged.
"That's perfect!" Alice chirped in happily, breaking the mood of silence.
The discussion regarding the new vampires continued.
I sat back, relieved. Bella would be safe from the new vampires, for now.
But how would I make her safe from me?
The rest of Monday passed uneventfully. I visited Bella's house in the shadows after school and discovered that her Port Angeles plans had been postponed until the next day. Could it really be true? Was my luck really turning for the better? Hopefully it wouldn't be sunny tomorrow, notwithstanding what Alice predicted.
Because I could not hear Bella's 'voice', I could not tell exactly what she was doing. In order to do that, I would have to enter sunlight – not even an option. I, however, heard a steel pan drop, a pencil break, and a machine loudly whir on. From that, I easily took that Bella had prepared dinner, did some writing – probably homework, and went on the computer.
To my pleasant surprise, Bella then came outside where I could see her and brought out an old quilt and a compilation of Jane Austen works with her. She placed the blanket in the shade, lay on top of it and tried to select a novel to read. Apparently she could not find anything she wanted to read at that moment because, after furiously flipping through the book a few times, she put it aside altogether. Then she rolled over onto her back and lay there, soaking in the sun.
In a few minutes she was fast asleep.
I watched Bella avidly. This sleep was much quieter, less disturbed by Bella's sleep talk. Although it was slightly disappointing to not hear my name on Bella's lips, I was happy that she was able to sleep undisturbed for the first time since her arrival.
For once, I sat down in the thicket of trees I was in and relaxed. I let my mind float away into a trance-like state that was the closest we could achieve to sleeping. As I watched Bella in her sleep I knew that all was well. Before Bella, my life had no purpose. Now my life was filled with meaning, with a cause.
My life was filled with love. Unfulfilled love it would always remain, but it was better to love and be tortured by it than to not have loved at all.
Bella's lips parted in her sleep. I smiled
Yes, it was better to have loved.
In the warmth of the sun and the warmth of my sun, I lost track of time. I only realized how late it had become – for humans – when Charlie's cruiser was heard coming down the lane. I abruptly sat up and moved farther back into the trees.
When Charlie's cruiser entered the driveway, Bella woke up. She stared frantically around her for a moment, before realizing where she was. She turned and stared back into the trees and for a moment I thought she had seen me. But she then shook her head and then sprinted into the house, apologizing for the lateness of dinner.
"Don't worry about it," Charlie said. "I wanted to catch the score on the game, anyway."
The poor girl works so hard. Something is not right with the picture – my daughter's cooking while I'm watching the game. Am I doing enough around the house? I almost feel like she's the parent and I am the child.
Guilt filled his thoughts. He thought he wasn't being a good enough father.
Because of this, Charlie decided that after dinner they would bond over some TV. He knew that Bella did not like watching baseball, so he switched to a sitcom hoping she would enjoy that.
She doesn't seem to like this show either. Oh well, at least we are spending some time together.
That thought happily got him through the sitcom. Until Bella interrupted.
"Dad, Jessica and Angela are going to look at dresses for the dance tomorrow night in Port Angeles, and they wanted me to help them choose…do you mind if I go with them?"
"Jessica Stanley?" Charlie questioned. She's a decent girl – comes from a good family.
"And Angela Weber," Bella sighed. I could see the small town frustration painted on her features. Charlie was confused.
"But you're not going to the dance, right?" Maybe she is going. I hope she is – she needs to get out more. Maybe she's going with a boy, that's why she didn't tell me before. It could be that Mike Newton. He comes from a good family too…
I growled quietly. Why was it always Mike Newton?
"No Dad," she sighed again. "But I'm helping them find dresses – you know, giving them constructive criticism."
"Well, okay," he shrugged. "It's a school night, though."
"We'll leave right after school, so we can get back early. You'll be okay for dinner, right?" Dinner. That meant that Bella would be still out while it was dark. I would be able to follow her.
"Bells, I fed myself for seventeen years before you got here." Although the food was no good. God knows what I'm going to do when Bella leaves again…
I clenched the branch in front of me in a moment of instant fear. It crumbled. I mechanically shuffled the brown powder from the branch into the dirt with my foot. Hiding the evidence. I knew what had caused that reaction.
"I don't know how you survived," Bella muttered, and then promised her father to leave cold cuts in the fridge. I scrunched my nose in disgust. Processed meat. Of all foods, cold cuts were one of the worst.
It was almost dawn, almost when the sun was out, when my phone went off in my pocket. Swearing quietly, I pulled it out of my pocket and jumped out of Bella's window so I would not disturb her.
"Alice?" I asked, confused. The new vampires weren't supposed to be coming until much later this week. Were they already…
"It's Jasper," a much deeper voice answered. "You should come home."
The phone went dead.
My question had never been answered. I sprinted off into the semi-darkness.
When I did get my answer, however, I could have punched Jasper.
"You have a phone call," Jasper grinned. I scowled.
"You called me, told me I needed to come home, just to inform me that someone called me!"
"Her voice sounded urgent," Jasper smirked, handing me the phone. Emmett barely muffled a laugh on the other side of the living room.
Tanya. I suppressed a groan. Of course Jasper would be amused. Anything that had to do with her seemed to amuse my brothers after she had declared love for me. I had declined her in a gentleman like manner because – although she was pretty – there had been no spark between us, no thrill in my body when she spoke, nothing whatsoever. She was a good friend, but I did not love her in that way.
Still, it was hard to avoid the longing in her voice whenever she spoke to me. I was not the only one that noticed it.
Emmett cleared his throat, and pointed to the phone. He winked.
I rolled my eyes. Emmett had always argued that I could not know that I wasn't in love with Tanya. After all, I had never been in love before. At least he could no longer argue that point.
I brought the phone to my ear.
"Hello Tanya," I said politely.
"Edward!" Tanya exclaimed happily. Neither Jasper nor Emmett was pretending to watch the television anymore. Both were staring at me with identical grins. I scowled.
At least she was trying to make me comfortable. It wasn't her fault that she couldn't control her tone or her thoughts at every single moment.
"Yes, It's Edward," I said gently, attempting to keep the scowl out of my tone.
"How are you?" she asked sweetly.
"Quite well," I replied sincerely. Bella had not had any nightmares last night. I mentally noted that a lack of rain led to a lack of nightmares.
"That is good to hear. We have all been worried about you – your last visit hear left all of us a little bit concerned."
I winced. The last time I had visited them I had been trying to escape the horrendously wonderful smell of Bella.
"I am truly sorry about that. I did not mean to worry all of you," I said regretfully.
"It's quite alright. That is actually why I called. We really wanted to make sure you were fine. You have not spoken to us since that visit."
Emmett smirked. Are you sure that by "we" and "us" she doesn't mean "I" and "me"?
I angrily motioned for him to leave the room. He shook his head, still grinning. It wouldn't matter; I would still be able to hear you and sweet Tanya.
I rolled my eyes and left the room instead.
"I am sorry about that," I spoke into the phone quietly, "I should have called. There was no excuse for that – especially when you let me stay in your home without any advance notice."
"It was nothing, Edward. After all, our home is your home."
Emmett chuckled. Damn him for twisting everything the wrong way.
There was an awkward pause.
"What were you so upset about that day?" Tanya asked curiously.
I froze for a second and then lied smoothly.
"I hadn't hunted for awhile, and the scent was just getting to me. Somebody brushed up against me and I nearly lost it. After that I just walked out of school and the next thing I knew I was in Alaska." I laughed forcefully.
"I guess I just overreacted a little bit."
Tanya laughed on the other end.
"You do tend to do that."
"Sometimes," I quickly agreed, relieved that she bought my story.
We made some more small talk, until there was nothing left to talk about. Conversation became awkward and broken, but it would be impolite to simply hang up. I realized that I would need an excuse to get out of further conversation. Jasper and Alice were also in the room and I silently asked for some help. Jasper grinned and shook his head.
She wants to talk to you, not me.
I glared. I would get him for that later.
Alice gave a pitying smile and held out her hand for the phone.
I smiled at her gratefully.
The day went on. School was just ending, and Alice had promised to keep tabs on Bella for me. I saw Alice's eyes glaze over and saw the vision in her mind.
Bella, Jessica and Angela were in a car, laughing amiably, while driving off into the distance. The Unknown.
I clenched my teeth in an automatic reaction to negate the irrational fear. There were only a few hours until the sun disappeared. Only a few hours before I would follow her. Become her Protector. Her Savior.
Her worst nightmare.