I brushed Charlie's comment off, not wanting to react to it in front of him. "Missing hikers, huh?" I said, as nonchalantly as I could manage. "Where was this?"
"Just outside of town; there's a large clearing where they were last seen. It's pretty deep into a mountain path though. The hikers were in a group, two of them were able to get back to report the others missing." He stopped and continued eating.
I knew exactly where he was talking about. It was incredibly unlikely there were two clearings in the middle of the woods around here that would attract that kind of attention. The image was burned into my mind. The last time I had been in that clearing had been with the same enemy. Jane. It had been right after the battle with the newborns. A memory I'd prefer wasn't so vivid in my mind.
I smiled, hoping I could fool him into believing I thought nothing of this information. "Don't worry dad, they probably just got lost; they'll turn up. It's been ages since the wolf problem went away."
"I sure hope you're right, Bells." Charlie went back to eating; I'd missed how easy it was bringing him off topic. Put food in front of him and that did the trick just fine.
It was almost seven o'clock when we finally left Charlie's house. Edward and I used the excuse that we were tired from the drive. Charlie reluctantly let us leave. Married or not, he didn't find it easy knowing that Edward and I would be spending the night in the same bed. If he only knew that Edward had snuck into my bedroom since the first few months I'd known him. As we were leaving, I promised Charlie we'd visit again before we left town completely.
Jacob followed us out; making sure Charlie had shut the door behind us before speaking.
"You'll keep me updated on what's happening right?" he asked forcefully.
"Of course, Jake. Don't worry, and we'll hopefully know more soon. The suspense is killing me, too."
Jacob made a face at my last sentence; I grinned in response.
"Bye, Bells. Edward." He smiled at each of us, it reached his eyes. I was so glad to have my Jacob back, and fine with my being an immortal vampire, to boot.
We'd only been in the Volvo a minute, driving away from Charlie's house before Edward was on his cell phone to Alice, finding out if she and Jasper had found out anything new. Alice spoke loud enough that I was able to hear her answers through the speaker of the phone; though my vampire hearing helped considerably, as well.
"Alice." Edward said as she answered. "Did you two find anything?"
"Not yet, Edward. We've searched almost all the surrounding area. I'm not sure why we aren't able to catch their scent." I heard Alice answer through the line.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they we able to fully purge their scent from the area." Edward answered ruefully.
I wanted to tell Alice about what Charlie had told us. The more information she had, the more we'd know about before it happened. I looked at Edward and reached my arm towards him; he understood and handed me the phone.
"Hey Bella!" Alice's voice rang in my ear. Of course; Edward didn't even have to let her know he was giving the phone to me. I should have expected.
I smiled, "Hey Alice. Did you happen to go anywhere near where the battle with the newborns took place? Charlie had some interesting information for us. There have been a few missing hikers and I have a feeling it has something to do with a couple of thirsty vampires."
"We did actually, didn't catch anythi –" Alice went silent, but I could still hear noises on the other line; I knew it hadn't gone dead.
"Alice?" I asked; worried at what might have happened.
"Bella?" It was Jasper's voice on the other end now.
"Jasper, what happened to Alice?"
"She's seeing something. You guys had better meet us somewhere, go to the house now." Jasper answered bluntly, and hung up the phone.
I looked to Edward, about to tell him the new plans.
"I heard." He answered, before I was able to say anything.
The Volvo sped up and I watched the trees fly by on the way to the house.
Edward finally pulled to a stop in front of the house. I waited a moment before getting out of the car. I looked up at the house; again it felt like I'd been gone far longer than I actually had. I didn't want to get out just yet. I wasn't quite sure I wanted to hear what Alice had seen. It felt like I hadn't had a moment's peace since I'd been changed. I knew being a vampire was going to be different, but I hadn't imagined it could have changed my life this much.
Between all my conversations with Carlisle about being 'special', the trouble with Rosalie, then the Volturi, and now Jane and Alec; it was all getting to be a little too much to handle. I was after all, immortal or not, still only eighteen.
I felt Edward's hand rest on my leg. I hadn't realized how long I'd been staring off for.
"Bella, are you alright, love?" Edward's soothing voice brought me back to reality.
"Hmm? Oh, yea, I'm okay. Just a little… overwhelmed right now. It's all a lot to take in."
"I know. I'm sorry all of this had to happen at once." He sighed and reached across and cupped my cheek in his hand, turning my head to face him. "It will get easier, I promise. You will be able to live without worrying about yourself and everyone around you. Just give it time." He smiled, "Like I've always said. You attract danger like no one else." He leaned across the space between us, pulling my face towards him at the same time. Our lips met in the middle, I felt a little shock; like static electricity. His lips were soft and inviting, and soon I wanted more than anything to stay there with him forever; to never leave these doors into the threatening world beyond them. I love you, Bella. I heard in my head.
"I love you too, Edward." I said, smiling when we broke away.
He laughed, "Oh, did you hear that?"
I nodded; glad it felt almost normal that I'd heard his thoughts. I was sure nothing could shock me now.
"I'll have to get used to that." He kissed me lightly on the nose before sitting up straight. "You ready to go out there?"
Alice and Jasper were waiting in the living room for us. Everything looked exactly the same, save for being slightly emptier than it used to be. We didn't bring much with us to Alaska so it definitely still felt like home, here. I appreciated it more than the others did, I was sure.
As soon as Edward and I had walked into the room, Alice's head whipped to look at me. She didn't look as worried as I'd expected; which I appreciated.
"What did you see, Alice?" Edward asked, only for me of course. He'd already heard in Alice's thoughts what she had seen, and no doubt she'd already shared it with Jasper as well. He sat down on the couch across from her; I followed closely behind, sitting next to him.
"Well, they're here alright, though they'll stop looking for Bella fairly soon. They're about to find something else to occupy their time." She stared at me, her eyes intense.
Something flickered in my mind and suddenly I was no longer in the Cullen house. This vision wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as the last one had been. It was almost, normal. Suddenly I realized what I was looking at.
Jane and Alec. I couldn't be quite sure where they were, they were floating gracefully through a wooded area, somewhere around Forks, I assumed. Alec glanced up swiftly, I followed his gaze. His eyes rested for a moment on the full moon towering about us in the dark sky. It glowed brightly, lighting up the night considerably.
He looked down again and back at Jane. Her tiny figure glowed in the moonlight the beamed through a gap in the tall fir trees. She had stopped in her tracks and her eyes swept the forest floor. She sniffed lightly and a deep growl erupted from her chest.
"What is that putrid scent?" she growled angrily; her soft voice taking on an entirely new tone.
Alec moved towards her slowly and sniffed the air for himself. "I've never smelled anything like it." He answered gruffly. "It's something… important. I can feel it."
"We must find the source of this." Jane responded flatly. I noticed her eyes for the first time; they glowed a bright, terrifying red.
She turned away from Alec and began to walk through the forest again, not a run, but much faster now. Periodically, she sniffed the air and changed her direction. Her eyes took on a murderous glare, her tiny figure suddenly terrifyingly intense.
Then, without any warning, after they'd traveled only a short ways through the dense trees. Both Jane and Alec disappeared.
I blinked, the sudden artificial light getting my attention. I was back in the Cullen living room, and seemed to be staring aimlessly at a wall. I turned to face Alice; she caught my eye and nodded grimly. She'd had the same vision, I was sure of that.
I glanced around the room, my eyes resting briefly on Edward and Jasper; they both looked at me intently. They understood what had happened as well.
"How do you know when they're coming, Alice? You mentioned this hadn't happened just yet." I asked.
"Didn't you notice the full moon? That's not for another few days. The full moon is on the fifth, it's only the first today."
"Oh." I stated simply; I'd noticed it, but had never thought to use it as a way to explain what day it was taking place on. Convenient. I thought to myself.
"We'll have to prepare." Jasper said after a moment of silence had passed through the room.
"We need to let the wolves know." I said silently, I'd understood that part of the vision clear enough.
"We can do all that tomorrow; tonight, I think we all need to hunt. It's been too long, and we plan on being quite close to humans in the coming days, I believe." Jasper answered.
Edward looked at me, concern evident in his eyes. "Are you sure that's alright, Bella? I don't mind staying with you." He said affectionately as he stood by the front door. It had taken ages, but I was sure I'd almost managed to convince him to go without me. He hid it well but I knew he needed to hunt tonight. His eyes were getting incredibly black, and I didn't mind. I was surprised, though, that I didn't feel any desire at all to feed. It had still only been once that I'd tasted blood.
Some newborn I was, that's for sure.
"Of course, Edward. I don't mind at all." I reached up to him and quickly kissed his marble lips, smiling as broke away. "You have a good time."
"Love you." His perfect, crooked smile made my breath catch in my throat.
"I love you too, of course. I'll see you later."
He squeezed my hand lightly before bounding gracefully out the door to where Alice and Jasper waited for him. Alice had known I'd insist upon his going. I smiled to myself.
It would be nice, being alone for a little while. Of course I'd prefer to be with Edward. I always preferred to be with Edward. But still, it would be nice to relax; to try not to think about what might be coming. I knew, of course, that that idea probably wouldn't really pan out.
I ran lithely up the stairs to Edward's and my bedroom at the end of the long hallway. I opened the door slowly; half afraid something would jump out at me. Not that it would have been much of a problem. Sometimes I still forgot what I was now; what I could do if I needed to.
The room looked almost the same, save for being just a little bit emptier than it had been the last time. The bed was still made, and looked incredibly inviting; even if it wasn't for sleeping purposes. I crossed the room in one smooth motion; smiling to myself at how graceful I'd become.
I'd only been lying down for a few minutes when my mind began to wander. I wasn't surprised when it turned immediately to running the past few weeks through my head. I started to analyze everything that had happened; maybe I would be able to come to some new conclusion about the vampire I'd become. Why I was so different than everyone else. Why I had the potential to become something else entirely.
The first thing that came to my mind was what Carlisle had told me about James. I hadn't really had much of a chance to really think about what I'd learned that afternoon, with Carlisle and Tanya.
James had bit me; that much I knew. But was what Carlisle said really right? Was I always meant to become a vampire, one way or another? It seemed a little far-fetched.
My life as a human had been normal, hadn't it? There had been nothing there to hint that I had a very odd, underlying secret; I didn't think so, at least. I was normal, maybe a little pale; but normal, none the less. I thought harder, did that hint at it maybe? Just a little bit? The fact that I'd lived in Phoenix most of my life and most everyone there was at least five shades more tanned than I had been? I always chalked it up to genetics, but maybe that wasn't the whole story.
No, no, that's ridiculous; just because I was a fairly pale human meant nothing.
I searched my brain for some other more concrete piece of evidence that it was always meant to be. Maybe there was something else about my vampire qualities that could help me link it to my human ones.
First, I'd have to face the truth; I was definitely different for a vampire. Tonight had proved it once more, why did I have no desire to feed?
That's definitely something I felt quite strongly about as a human. I'd always been incredibly squeamish about blood, almost to an extreme. I remembered one of the first times I actually had any sort of conversation with Edward. Blood-typing day in Biology; he'd been shocked about how strong my aversion to blood had been. Not to mention the fact that I could smell it. I didn't fully understand it then, but I guess that sounded pretty odd to him; that a human could smell blood.
Okay, so as a human I could smell blood. That's not too out of the ordinary. I didn't want to think so at least.
"Bella, really, you have to snap out of this. Denying it isn't going to make anything any easier." I said to myself, out loud. I really had to get over the fact that this was all happening. I promised myself right there that I wouldn't try to get myself out of it once more. I. Was. Special. I reiterated to myself.
As soon as I made the promise it seemed to hit a little harder. Maybe the fact that I had been so pale and that I could smell blood as a human was a little more significant than I'd thought. Maybe it did say something about the inevitability of my becoming a vampire.
Then there was Edward, which of course, said a lot about my potential. Our love had been far more intense than any human-teenage love before it. I'd never been afraid of what he was; more intrigued than anything else. From the beginning I'd wanted to be one of them. A vampire. Immortal, so I could be with Edward forever. Maybe my love for Edward had something to do with the inevitability.
That thought brought on another clue to this new life I was leading. This one a little more obvious, I'm sure it had to have crossed my mind before. La tua cantante. What Aro had said about me being Edward's 'singer'; my blood called to him more than anyone else's.
Edward was a big clue, that's for sure; and that was one I didn't even want to deny. Edward's and my love had been the key to my future. I liked that idea quite a bit. I smiled to myself as I thought about it.
I was a little more content with the idea of my destiny being that of a vampire at that point. If it meant that Edward's and my love had even more meaning that I already regarded it with, then I was happy.
James on the other hand, was still a mystery. How could I not have known? Had there been no signs at all that what James did had more of an effect than it seemed? I thought back over the past year; there had to have been some sign that James had altered me irreparably.
Carlisle had told me how it had happened. James' bite had stayed dormant, and when I lost all that blood in the crash; I was changed. So, had I ever lost that much blood before? Or even close to that? Would a loss of blood, however serious, have a different feeling to me after the bite? I tried to remember all the times I'd bled since James had bitten me. Normally this wouldn't be incredibly difficult, given how accident prone I tended to be as a human; however since I'd gotten involved with a vampire, blood loss had meant something a little more serious. There had only been two times that I had ever bled more than a tiny bit since the event in Phoenix.
The first time had been my birthday, when I'd crashed into a broken glass plate. That night had ultimately led to the most painful few months of my life. I blocked that part of the memory out, focusing on how I'd felt at the time only. I definitely remembered pain initially, but I also remembered that that faded quite quickly. It was replaced with a numb, dead sort of feeling. I wondered if that was normal? Could the dead feeling in my arm have anything to do with the fact that I was relatively close to being changed into a vampire all because of that wound?
The other time I'd bled a lot was slightly less memorable. It was with Jacob, when I'd first crashed my motorcycle. The head wound I'd gotten had required quite a few stitches. Normally, blood tended to make me incredibly squeamish and uncomfortable. This time, I hardly even noticed it, though it had been bleeding relatively profusely. I'd barely even felt the pain; that was a little different from the numb, dead feeling; but it was odd none the less. I wondered if that had anything to do with the lack of contact I'd had with the Cullen's, or any vampires at all, at that point. Could my reaction have been different if Edward had stayed? Would I have gotten the same feeling as on my birthday?
A/N: Hey everyone, sorry this one took so long, I've been super busy. As I mentioned before, though I've done it a little differently, you'll have probably noticed Bella's little reflection on everything. Those points link events and instances in the three books to where my storyline has progressed to. I wanted to get that across to everyone. Anyways I hope you all enjoyed it, I hope to get the next one out soon but… I'm going to Forks this weekend! So I know I won't be working too hard : )
Enjoy! And tell me what you think! (P.S. I'd really love to gain some more new readers, and we all know how fast new stories go into past pages on this site, so please review lots! I figure the more reviews, the more likely people are to give it a chance! Thanks)