Disclaimer: I don't own Bella or Edward or Chapter 13 – Confessions – of Twilight. The dialogue comes straight from Twilight, which Stephenie Meyer owns.
Today was, indubitably, the most incredible day of my life.
The meadow was an amazing place to spend sunny days. The sun restricted the places I could go, what with the whole sparkling thing, but the meadow was a private, beautiful area to soak up the sun. The beauty of the meadow, of course, was nothing compared to the angel sitting not a foot away from me.
If someone had told me just a few weeks ago that today I would be spending a sunny day with a human, whose blood called to me with unbearable strength, a human who knew my family's secret and still wanted to be here with me, I would never have believed them.
Warmth suddenly spread across my hand. I opened my eyes and saw that Bella was stroking the back of my hand with one finger. She was sitting, curled up with her chin on her knees, like she had been all afternoon. I was surprised that she was so close. Most people were repelled by us, their instincts telling them that we were dangerous, even if they didn't know it themselves. Bella was an exception.
She was an exception for most things. She was the one person, human or vampire, whose mind I couldn't read. She was the one person, human or vampire, who constantly took me by surprise. She was the one person, human or vampire, who I'd ever wanted to be with in a way other than as a brother or sister. She was extraordinary.
Her chocolate brown eyes flicked up to mine. I smiled.
"I don't scare you?" I asked, trying to sound casual, but some of the curiosity burning in me slipped out. Didn't Bella realize that I was a vampire, a soulless monster? That my self-control could slip and I could drain her sweet, warm, tantalizing blood from her body, ending her life? Did she even care?
"No more than usual." Bella replied. My smile grew. She was such a remarkable girl.
She uncurled her hand and moved it up my forearm, leaving a warm trail. I could hear her heart beating from where I lay and feel the blood gently pulse in her trembling fingertips. I closed my eyes, concentrating on blocking out the scent of her blood, but unable to stop enjoying the warmth that she generated.
"Do you mind?" Bella asked in a small voice.
"No. You can't imagine how that feels." I sighed contentedly as she continued to stroke my arm. I opened my eyes and watched her. She reached over with her other hand to turn over my hand. I flipped it up at a speed almost too fast for her to see. She froze and I realized that I had startled her.
"Sorry," I said quietly, closing my eyes again. "It's too easy to be myself with you."
Bella picked up my hand and examined it. She brought it closer to her face and I felt her warm breath on my palm. She seemed to be concentrating on something. I reached into her mind, seeking out a whisper of her voice. But just like the first day, her mind was absolutely silent.
"Tell me what you're thinking," I whispered. "It's still so strange for me, not knowing."
"You know, the rest of us feel that way all the time."
The rest of you are human. The rest of you have souls, futures. The rest of you are normal. Other than Bella, of course. She was far from normal.
"It's a hard life." I said regretfully. "But you didn't tell me." I reminded her.
"I was wishing I could know what you were thinking…" She paused.
"And?" I prompted.
"I was wishing that I could believe that you were real. And I was wishing that I wasn't afraid." Bella said quietly.
"I don't want you to be afraid." I told her gently. I didn't want her to have to be afraid, to have a cause of fear. But with a monster sitting so close to her, she had every reason to be afraid.
"Well, that's not exactly the fear I meant, though that's certainly something to think about."
What else was she frightened of? I propped myself up on my arm and found myself a few inches away from her. Her deep brown eyes widened in shock at my vicinity. "What are you afraid of then?" I asked.
Before I knew what she was doing, Bella leaned even closer, inhaling my scent.
The monster inside me erupted. If I closed the infinitesimal space between us, I could sink my teeth into her throat. I could already imagine how it would feel, the taste more delicious than anything in the world, sliding down my throat, quenching the burning thirst I felt…
I bolted into the trees, away from the cherubic creature with alluring blood.
Her expression was a frozen mask of hurt and shock. Her empty hand hadn't moved. "I'm…sorry…Edward." Bella whispered.
She was sorry? It wasn't her fault that her blood smelled so staggeringly mouthwatering.
"Give me a moment." I called, loud enough for her to hear me. Her scent was still vivid in my mind, my mouth still filled with an excess of venom. A light wind blew, free of Bella's aroma, clearing my thoughts. After a few seconds, I was able to go back to her. I walked with exaggerated slowness, careful not to frighten her again. I lowered myself to the ground a few feet away from her, looking into her wide brown eyes. I smiled.
"I am so very sorry." I apologized, trying to think of a way to lighten the atmosphere. "Would you understand what I meant if I said I was only human?" I attempted to joke.
Bella nodded, but the smile I loved didn't come onto her face. I smelled adrenaline begin coursing through her body. My comforting smile changed to a sardonic one.
"I'm the world's best predator aren't I? Everything about me invites you in – my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I need any of that!" I said disgustedly. I jumped up and sprinted around the meadow, returning before she could blink. "As if you could outrun me," I laughed humorlessly. I reached up to a spruce tree and tore a two-foot-thick limb from the trunk. After effortlessly balancing it in my hand for a second, I hurled it against another large tree, which quivered from the force. I dashed back to where she was frozen. "As if you could fight me off." I said more kindly.
Bella looked more frightened than I had ever seen her. More frightened than when she was about to be crushed by Tyler's van, more frightened than when she was being stalked by those miserable excuse for humans. Her deep chocolate eyes were full of nothing other than terror. Her already pallid face seemed to have gotten paler, if that was possible. She was frozen and seemed to be barely breathing at all.
"Don't be afraid," I murmured, filled with guilt for terrifying her. "I promise…" I stopped myself, looking for a more convincing word. "I swear not to hurt you. Don't be afraid." I stepped closer and sat down slowly so that I was a foot away from her.
"Please forgive me," I nearly begged. "I can control myself. You caught me off guard. But I'm on my best behavior now," I waited for her to say something, anything. Just a syllable would be fine. "I'm not thirsty today, honestly." I winked.
Bella laughed softly and unsteadily.
"Are you alright?" I asked gently, placing my cold hand back in her warm one, which hadn't moved since I previously left. Bella looked down at our hands, then into my eyes. She turned her gaze down. With one finger, she traced the creases in my hand. She looked up and smiled shyly. I grinned, relieved, and a slightly dreamy look came into her eyes.
"So, where were we, before I behaved so rudely?" I asked.
"I honestly can't remember." she whispered.
I smiled ruefully. "I think we were talking about why you were afraid, besides the obvious reason."
"Oh, right." she mumbled.
"Well?" I encouraged. Bella bent her head and traced light patterns on my palm. I waited, growing impatient as the seconds ticked by. She didn't seem to have any intention of answering. I tried reaching into her mind again. Was she trying to block me? Thinking of nothing, so I heard nothing? It was so exasperating, not knowing what was going on in her head. I sighed. "How easily frustrated I am."
"I was afraid…" she began, "because, for, well, obvious reasons, I can't stay with you. And I'm afraid that I'd like to stay with you, much more than I should." Bella didn't look up as she said this.
"Yes," I agreed. "That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me. That's really not in your best interest," Bella frowned. I sighed. "I should have left long ago. I should leave now. But I don't know if I can." She enthralled me. Leaving now wouldn't be in my best interest. Of course, it was the best way to ensure that she stayed alive.
"I don't want you to leave." she mumbled. I felt something course through me. Happiness? I shouldn't have been happy that Bella wanted me to stay with her. That would endanger her life. But as wrong as it probably was, I realized that I was happy – no, thrilled – that Bella wanted me.
"Which is exactly why I should," Her face fell slightly. "But don't sorry," I reassured her. "I'm essentially a selfish creature. I crave your company too much to do what I should."'
This fact seemed to brighten her mood. "I'm glad." Bella said.
"Don't be!" I took my hand away, wishing I had the warmth back once it was removed. "It's not only your company I crave! Never forget that. Never forget I am more dangerous to you that I am to anyone else." I stopped my rant, realizing that I just prompted a conversation I never wanted to start.
"I don't think I understand exactly what you mean – by that last part anyway." Bella said after thinking for a moment.
I smiled at her. "How do I explain? And without frightening you again…hmmmm." I unthinkingly put my hand back in hers and she squeezed it, warmth enveloping my hand again. "That's amazingly pleasant, the warmth." I sighed and continued to ponder over a way to explain the way her delectable blood called to me.
"You know how everyone enjoys different flavors? Some people love chocolate ice cream, others prefer strawberry." Bella nodded eagerly. "Sorry about the food analogy – I couldn't think of another way to explain." She smiled at me and I smiled back.
"You see, every person smells different, has a different essence. If you locked an alcoholic in a room full of stale beer, he'd gladly drink it. But he could resist, if he wished to, if he were a recovering alcoholic," A recovering alcoholic. What a nice way to describe a vegetarian vampire. "Now let's say you placed in that room a glass of hundred-year old brandy, the rarest, finest cognac – and filled the room with its warm aroma – how do you think he would fare then?" She didn't respond, but instead stared into my eyes.
"Maybe that's not the right comparison. Maybe it would be too easy to turn down the brandy. Perhaps I should have made our alcoholic a heroin addict instead."
"So what you're saying is, I'm your brand of heroin?" she teased.
I grinned. "Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin."
"Does that happen often?" she wondered aloud.
I looked out into the forest, trying to think of a way to word my response. "I spoke to my brothers about it. To Jasper, every one of you is much the same. He's the most recent to join our family. It's a struggle for him to abstain at all. He hasn't had time to grow sensitive to the differences in smell, in flavor," I turned to her, contrite. "Sorry." How odd it must be for her, listening to a vampire talk about the flavor of other people.
"I don't mind. Please don't worry about offending me, or frightening me, or whichever. That's the way you think. I can understand, or I can try to at least. Just explain however you can."
I was incredulous. She doesn't mind? She doesn't mind if a bloodsucking vampire describes how he's lusting for her blood? Bella will never cease to amaze me.
I took a deep breath – something not quite necessary, but habit all the same – and continued. "So Jasper wasn't sure if he'd ever come across someone who was as-" I paused, looking for a word that wouldn't frighten her. Even if she said she didn't mind, she was still human. "-appealing as you are to me. Which makes me think not. Emmett has been on the wagon longer, so to speak, and he understood what I meant. He says twice, for him, once stronger than the other."
"And for you?"
"What did Emmett do?" I tensed, my hands clenching into fists. This was not something I wanted her to ask. I looked away from her questioning face.
"I guess I know." Bella murmured.
I looked back to her. "Even the strongest of us fall off the wagon, don't we?" I whispered uncomfortably.
"What are you asking? My permission? I mean, is there no hope, then?"
"No, no! Of course there's hope!" If there was no hope I wouldn't have taken such a risk. If there was no hope for her to keep living with me in the region, my family and I would be long gone. "I mean, of course I won't…" I decided not to finish my sentence. "It's different for us. Emmett…these were strangers he happened across. It was a long time ago, and he wasn't as…practiced, as careful, as he is now." I became quiet and watched Bella closely as she thought about this.
"So if we'd met…oh, in a dark alley or something…"
My jaw clenched. "It took everything I had not to jump up in the middle of that class full of children and-" I broke off, ashamed. "When you walked past me, I could have ruined everything Carlisle has built for us, right then and there. If I hadn't been denying my thirst for the last, well," I caught myself before I told her how long I'd been alive. Finding out that the boy next to her who looked 17 was over 100 years old might be too much for her to handle. "Too many years, I wouldn't have been able to stop myself." I scowled at the forest, remembering the fear in her eyes. "You must have thought I was possessed."
"I couldn't understand why. How you could hate me so quickly…"
"To me, it was like you were some kind of demon, summoned straight from my own personal hell to ruin me…" I replayed memories to her of that fateful day, my trip to Alaska, my family's reactions, her nearly being crushed by Tyler's van, the weeks after that.
"And for all that," I concluded. "I'd have fared better if I had exposed us all at that first moment, than if now, here – with no witnesses and nothing to stop me – if I were to hurt you."
Bella seemed confused by this. "Why?" she asked.
"Isabella," I reached over and ruffled her hair. She seemed surprised by this casual touch. I was surprised with myself. "Bella, I couldn't live with myself if I ever hurt you. You don't know how it's tortured me. The thought of you still, white, cold… to never see you blush scarlet again, to never see that flash of intuition in your eyes when you see through my pretenses…it would be unendurable," I had already seen her like that in Alice's visions. The mere thought was painful, let alone the feeling that would crash down on me if I actually acted the way Alice saw it. "You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever."
Bella's eyes widened when I announced this. She looked down at our hands. I waited for her to respond.
"You already know how I feel, of course," she said finally. "I'm here…which roughly translated means I would rather die than stay away from you," Bella's full lips pulled down into a frown. "I'm an idiot."
I had to laugh at that. "You are an idiot." I agreed and she laughed as well.
"And so they lion fell in love with the lamb…" I murmured, feeling an odd sensation go through me as I said this. Bella's lips twitched and she ducked her head, seeming to have a similar reaction.
"What a stupid lamb." she sighed.
"What a sick, masochistic lion." I stared into the forest. The lion and the lamb. The vampire and the human. What odd and inconceivable pairings.
"Why…" Bella began, pulling me out of thought. I looked at her and smiled.
"Tell me why you ran from me before."
My smile dropped. "You know why." I said darkly.
"No, I mean exactly what did I do wrong? I'll have to be on my guard, you see, so I better start learning what I shouldn't do. This, for example," Bella stroked the back of my hand, "seems to be alright."
My smile came back. She was worrying over something that she had no control over – how edible she smelled to a vampire. "You didn't do anything wrong, Bella. It was my fault."
"But I want to help, if I can," she insisted, "to not make this harder for you."
"Well…" I thought about this for a moment. "It was just how close you were. Most humans instinctively shy away from us, repelled by our alienness…I wasn't expecting you to come so close. And the smell of your throat." I stopped myself, sure that this would have upset her.
"Okay, then." Bella ducked her head. "No throat exposure."
I laughed. She was so adorable. "No, really, it was more the surprise than anything else," I placed my hand on the side of her neck. "You see? Perfectly fine," Her blood thudded in her veins and her heart fluttered erratically. Blood stained her cheeks. "The blush on your cheeks is lovely," I whispered. I took my hand out of hers and they fell into her lap. I stroked her cheek and held her lovely, warm face in my hands. Her heartbeat sped up. "Be very still." I whispered.
Slowly, keeping my eyes locked on hers, I leaned toward her. I rested my head against the base of her throat. My hands slowly moved down the sides of her neck and to her shoulders. She trembled. My head turned to the side and I pressed my ear against her heart.
"Ah." I sighed.
It was a strange sensation, having her heart a few small inches away. It sped up at first, her sweet blood pulsing at an alarming rate, tempting the red-eyed monster inside me. My throat burned with thirst and my mouth was coated with venom. Eventually though, it slowed, pulsing at a steady speed.
We both knew that at any point, her maddening aroma could overcome me and I kill her quite easily. But, as I grew accustomed to the beat of her heart, a sound never heard in my house, it became more comfortable to just sit there, listening to it.
Tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump…
After some time, I released her. "It won't be so hard again." I said, pleased with myself. Carlisle would be proud of my self-control.
"Was it very hard for you?" Bella asked.
"Not nearly as bad as I imagined it would be," Surprisingly, it was pleasant. "And you?" I asked politely.
"No, it wasn't bad…for me."
I smiled. "You know what I mean." She smiled back.
"Here," I picked up Bella's hand and placed it against my cheek. "Do you feel how warm it is?" I asked, slightly excited by this trivial fact. She seemed distracted, not really listening.
"Don't move." she whispered. I closed my eyes and became a statue.
Bella's warm fingers slowly skimmed across my cheek, trailing over my eyelid and brushing underneath my eye, leaving an invisible trail of heat. She slid her finger down my nose then, ever so lightly, traced the shape of my lips. They parted beneath her fingertips and I inhaled her unique, ever so sweet, mouthwatering scent. My head swirled.
I was a vampire and I wanted her blood. But this was not just a girl with amazingly delicious blood. This was Bella and I loved her. I, as Edward, didn't want her blood, didn't want her to die because of me – didn't want her to die at all. But I was a vampire. And as a vampire, I wanted her blood. Badly.
I opened my eyes. "I wish," I whispered, " I wish you could feel…the complexity…the confusion…I feel. That you could understand." I reached over to brush her hair across her face.
"I don't think I can. I've told you, on one hand, the hunger – the thirst – that, deplorable creature that I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent. Though," I pulled one corner of my lips up in an attempt at a smile, "as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can't empathize completely. But…" I reached over and touched her lips, feeling her shiver. "There are other hungers. Hungers I don't even understand, that are foreign to me."
"I may understand that better than you think." Bella said.
"I'm not used to feeling so human," I dared say. Human? Me? Hah! "Is it always like this?" I asked curiously.
"For me? No, never. Never before this."
I took her delicate hands in mine. "I don't know how to be close to you," I confessed. "I don't know if I can."
Bella leaned forward and pressed her face against my chest. "This is enough." she sighed, closing her eyes. I wrapped my arms around her small frame and ducked my face in her hair. Underneath the sweet tang of her blood, I could smell strawberries. I smiled.
"You're better at this than you give yourself credit for." Bella told me. I was filled with pride.
"I have human instincts – they may be buried deep, but they're there."
She sat in my arms for a few moments, then her eyes drifted to the lowering sun and she sighed.
"You have to go." I said, masking the regret I felt at this incredible day coming to an end.
"I thought you couldn't read my mind." she said accusingly.
I grinned. "It's getting clearer."
She leaned back and I placed my hand on her shoulders. "Can I show you something?" I asked excitedly, an idea suddenly coming to me. This would be fun.
"Show me what?" Bella asked cautiously.
"I'll show you how I travel in the forest." She looked at me warily. "Don't worry, you'll be very safe, and we'll get to your truck much faster." I smiled crookedly and a dreamy look came into her eyes. Her heart skipped a beat, then started up again, faster.
"Will you turn into a bat?" She asked, a hesitant expression still on her face.
I laughed, the sound booming through the meadow. "Like I haven't heard that one before!"
"Right, I'm sure you get that all the time." Bella said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Come on, little coward, climb onto my back." She looked at me as if she fully expected me to laugh and say that I was kidding. I smiled and reached over to pick her up and sling her onto my back. Her heart thudded, surprisingly loud for such a small girl. She tightened her arms and legs around me, sending an unfamiliar, warm, tingling sensation running through my body.
"I'm a bit heavier than your average backpack." she warned, teasingly.
"Hah!" I took her hand and deeply inhaled the scent of her palm. "Easier all the time." I murmured. Then I took off through the forest.
Running was something I always enjoyed. Out of my family, I was the fastest and probably the one who relished it the most. As I sped through the woods with an angel on my back, my mind wandered.
The feeling of her fingertips tracing my lips wasn't enough for the red-eyed monster to take control. Having her lips on mine wouldn't be such a huge difference would it? It would take a great deal of self-control, but after being with her for so many hours, I had become amazingly good at restraining myself from biting her.
And I knew that, from being able to hear the thought of the humans around me, kissing a girl wasn't a scandal, as it was when I was alive. I doubted that she would dislike the idea. Judging from the way most girls reacted when I was in the room, I could guess that she would enjoy it. But Bella was different from most girls and she knew that I was a vampire. Would she really want to kiss a vampire, a monster who thirsted for her blood?
Hmm…There was only one way to find out.
"Exhilarating, isn't it?" I asked elatedly when we reached her truck. She didn't move or speak. "Bella?" I asked nervously.
"I think I need to lie down." Bella whispered breathlessly.
"Oh, sorry." I waited for her to climb down.
"I think I need some help." I chuckled and pulled her off my back, cradling her in my arms. I held her for a moment, enjoying the heat, before setting her down.
"How do you feel?" I asked worriedly.
"Dizzy, I think." She looked so confused that I nearly laughed.
"Put your head between your knees." I suggested. She ducked her head and slowly breathed in and out a few times. I had to repress a smile. I didn't know that running would have such a dramatic effect on her. After a few moments she raised her head and blinked a few times, clearing her head.
"I guess that wasn't the best idea."
"No, it was very interesting." Bella said in a very breathless voice, her face paler than usual.
I let out a laugh. "You're as white as a ghost – no, you're as white as me!"
"I think I should have closed my eyes." she whispered.
"Remember that next time." I advised.
"Next time!" she moaned, burying her head in her hands. I was unable to stop myself from laughing. "Show-off." she muttered, irritated.
I knelt next to her. "Open your eyes, Bella." I whispered. Bella opened her eyes. They widened, and then a dazed look came into them. "I was thinking, while I was running…" I hesitated, trying to think of a way to word my desire to kiss her.
"About not hitting the trees, I hope."
The idea of me ramming into trees was so ridiculous that I chuckled. "Silly Bella. Running is second nature to me, it's not something I have to think about."
"Show-off." she repeated. I smiled.
"No, I was thinking there was something I wanted to try." I took her beautiful, fragile face in my hands. Her pretty dark brown eyes widened. I hesitated for one moment before pressing my lips to her warm, full ones.
I wasn't anywhere close to ready for her reaction.
Bella gasped and twisted her fingers in my hair. She parted her lips and a wave of her luscious, breathtaking scent crashed into me.
The vampire part of me roared, demanding for me to sink my teeth into her, yearning to taste the blood impossibly close to my mouth. It would be easy to break her neck, relatively quick to end her life. It wouldn't be a painful death for her and I would be able to satiate the thirst exploding in the back of my mouth. I could feel her blood sliding down my throat already. It was like the first day I met her all over again.
I froze as the rational part of me screamed refusal to this act. Bella. My Bella, with her wide, innocent eyes, long, dark hair, full, red lips, incredible personality. I couldn't kill her – wouldn't kill her, wouldn't let the monster I had been trying to repress all day be the end of her. Her death would not be in my hands.
I pushed her face back.
"Oops." she whispered, the smell of her breath making my head swirl.
"That's an understatement." The understatement of the century, of the millennium.
"Should I…?" She tried to pull away, but I held her in place. If I was going to spend any more time with her, I would need to control myself.
"No, it's tolerable. Wait for a moment, please." I said politely.
She watched me as I grew more comfortable with her proximity and the red-eyed monster sank further away. Now that I was in control and Bella's life wasn't on the edge, I could afford to remember how her lips felt on mine. I grinned.
"Tolerable?" she asked.
I laughed. "I'm stronger than I thought. It's nice to know."
She looked crestfallen. "I wish I could say the same. I'm sorry."
"You are only human, after all."
"Thanks so much." she said bitterly.
I stood up and offered my hand to her. She seemed slightly surprised by this, but reached out and I pulled her up. She wobbled slightly and put most of her weight on my hand.
"Are you still faint from the run? Or was it was kissing expertise?" I asked, feeling happier than I had been for a while.
"I can't be sure, I'm still woozy. I think it's some of both, though." Bella smiled.
"Maybe you should let me drive." I suggested.
Her forehead creased. "Are you insane?" she objected.
"I can drive better than you on your best day," I teased. "You have much slower reflexes."
"I'm sure that's true, but I don't think my nerves, or my truck, could take it." she teased back.
"Some trust, please, Bella." She pursed her lips as she thought about this, then shook her head with a thin smile.
"Nope. Not a chance." I raised my eyebrows. Was she serious? She started walking to her truck when she wobbled. There was no way I was letting her drive when she couldn't stand up properly. I snaked my arm around her waist.
"Bella," I sighed. "I've already expended a great deal of personal effort at this point to keep you alive. I'm not about to let you behind the wheel of a vehicle when you can't even walk straight. Besides, friends don't let friends drive drunk." I chuckled as I remembered this quote.
"Drunk?" she protested.
I grinned. "You're intoxicated by my very presence."
"I can't argue with that," Bella admitted. She held her key in the air then dropped it. I reached swiftly out to catch it. "Take it easy – my truck is a senior citizen."
"Very sensible." I noted.
"And are you not affected at all? By my presence?" she asked, sounding annoyed.
I bent my face to hers and trailed my lips across her jaw. She shivered.
"Regardless," I eventually whispered. "I have better reflexes."
Author's Note:Well, there you go! I know, it was super long – I'm amazed if you actually got this far. So, did you love it? Hate it? Want more? Just press that little purplish-bluish button and review to let me know!