Chapter 17 – Bella's Story

Bella's POV

"I was born in San Francisco in 1937, just before the depression ended. My parents were Charlie and Rene Swan – Charlie was a police officer and Rene was a teacher. Unfortunately, I can't remember most of my childhood.

"When I was 16 years old, in 1953, my parents went to visit Rene's parents in the mid-west. They died in a plane crash on the way there and I was orphaned. The records show that I went to live in foster care, but I can't remember what happened during that time. I do remember 1955. I had been in foster care for just over a year when I was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. Not much was known about cancer in the fifties, and even still, none of it could have helped me. The disease was far to progressed.

"This was how Carlisle found me – dying in the hospital. I could tell at once when I saw him that he was something other than human. I was only seventeen at the time and loathe to die so young. I begged him to save me, to do whatever he could to keep death at bay. I was terrified to die.

"Carlisle took me home that night. I met Esme, his wife, and Rosalie and Emmett, his children. They were all like him. I learned that he had… he had made Esme when he found her dying, also in the hospital. She had fallen from a cliff. When they found that they couldn't have children, Carlisle started looking for another to change. He would never take the life of someone who was healthy, and has only ever changed four of us. We were all on the brink of death.

"Carlisle found what he was looking for not long after he created Esme. While out on a walk one night, he found Rosalie Hale, a girl from the town that they had been living in. She had been attacked by a gang and lay dying in the street. He took her home and turned changed her, saving her life. Rosalie was never happy as a vampire, though.

"Emmett was changed third. Rosalie found him one day while she was out hunting. He had been mauled by a bear and was barely alive. There was something in his eyes that compelled her to save him, and she took him back to Carlisle, afraid that she wouldn't be able to change him on her own.

"They answered my questions when I asked them, and explained what they were. They explained to me about how they hunt animals instead of humans in an attempt to preserve their humanity. It seemed to me to be very effective. For all their odd, faintly non-human quirks, they were more human than many people I had met in my short life.

"That night, before I fell asleep, exhausted from the exertion, I made Carlisle promise that he would change me. Rosalie tried her hardest to convince me that it would be better to die than to become one of them, but I was just as stubborn as she was. She pleaded with Carlisle not to comply with my request, but he insisted that it was my choice, not hers.

"That night, I went into cardiac arrest. My body had been so weakened by my disease that my heart could not support it anymore. Carlisle changed me then and their, in his house.

"Days later, the change was completed and I woke up." Here I took the liberty of editing a bit: I left out the burning pain of the change and the three days of torture, my years as a newborn, and the innocents that I had accidentally killed. I picked up a few years after the change had taken place, when I was more in control.

"We moved from town to town, leaving when the people became suspicious of us. A few years later, Alice and Jasper joined us. Alice had a special… talent, I suppose, that had allowed her to find us. She could glimpse the future, and had seen us. Jasper too had a special talent; he can influence the emotions of those around him. Alice had seen our family and taken a special interest in our… diet. Her and Jasper decided to stay with us, and hunt as we do.

"When I met you, Edward, I had no idea how much of a challenge you would pose for me. We… we have a very acute sense of smell, and I could… well, I could smell your blood. It was so strong, so potent, and more appealing than anything I had ever come across. I -"

I broke off there. There wasn't much more I could say, without truly terrifying him. Or revealing those feelings that I wasn't even sure I was feeling.

Absentmindedly, I scratched moss from the rock that I was sitting on. Edward was watching me, I could feel his gaze.

An arrow of doubt suddenly shot through my chest. Had I been right in telling him this? My breath froze in my chest.

Slowly, I raised my head to meet his gaze.

Note: I'm going to tell you all a very sad and very true story now.

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