Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or anything thus related to it. I do not own the Anita Blakeverse or plan on pretending that I do.
Edited by CajunMomma
I opened the door to find Jasper perched against the jam. He was tapping his toe impatiently and I was reminded of Alice. Jasper had the tendency to seem calm through everything. The only thing that ruffled his feathers involved Alice. He smirked at me, aware of my train of thought and shrugged. He turned away and motioned for me to follow.
We managed to make it to the living room before we ran into our siblings. It seemed that Alice and Rosalie had turned the living room into a palace of pink. I looked on with horror and envy. Alice was painting Rosalie's nails and giggling between whispers. I felt betrayed, as if my friendship didn't warrant such attention.
Alice looked up alarmed to find Jasper and I looking on. I was aware that Jasper, Rosalie, and Alice were watching me but I was unable to compose my face quickly enough. Rather than face my sisters I turned away and walked out the door. It was wrong of me to feel envious, had I not done the same thing to Rosalie? Did I expect Alice to spend all her time with me?
I could be honest enough with myself to realize that I wasn't jealous of the event only the rapport between them. I was her best friend, we shared that. It seemed petty and I hated myself for it. Jasper put his arm on my back, a consolation of sorts.
"Hey wait up guys."
A big bulk of a man came barreling towards us. If the voice hadn't warned us of his approach, the boulder headed for me surely did. I was startled by his tone of voice, Emmett sounded strained. None of the cheerful vitality he usually possessed. I watched him closely taking in the signs of stress and unhappiness.
"Emmett, are you okay?"
I spoke before I could think. I was too alarmed for his well-being to consider that it wasn't my place. I hadn't even considered that I might play a part in his unhappiness. My only concern was seeing my brother smile. He looked up, his eyes pained, and grunted. I frowned, something was wrong.
The three of us traveled swiftly, the light sound of our feet the only conversation. It was an awkward kind of silence that spoke more of what wasn't being said than what would be. I glanced over to Emmett often, trying to figure out what it was that was on his mind. Emmett's brow was crinkled, his eyes far away, and he was walking with a sense of instinct rather than direction.
I envied, just for a second that Emmett could move so gracefully even while his thoughts were so far away. Most of my life I had been incapable of grace. I walked between two giants of men, my head heavy with my thoughts. I decided to try a light subject for conversation, in the hopes of cheering Emmett.
"Who won at Guitar Hero?"
I got another grunt from Emmett and a vigorous shaking of the head from Jasper. Oh bugger, if Emmett wanted to stew than just let him. I walked with more authority, my annoyance causing a crunch with my every step. I managed a handful of steps before my guilt settled in. How could I be angry with Emmett? He was obviously bothered by something and if anything he needed my support.
"Some things never change."
"Um, excuse me Jasper?"
"You've spent this entire walk trying to figure out how to cheer up Emmett, when he annoyed you, instead of being upset with him you felt guilty for being annoyed."
"Yes, that would be a summary of the current events, what's your point?"
Jasper smirked again and shrugged, this time I grunted. Emmett snorted, the sound oddly echoing around us.
"The point Bells is that you're the least selfish person we know."
I looked up at Emmett, gladdened that he was smiling. I wasn't sure if he was making fun of me or genuine about his praise, it was sometimes hard to tell.
"Bella, he means it, stop doubting him."
Emmett's smile fell away and my heart ached. I should have just trusted that he meant it and let it be. Jasper shook his head and continued on. I followed him but my thoughts were circling. Was I really that selfless? Hadn't I, only moments ago, wanted my best friend to myself? Hadn't I caused this family to move, to change their lives for me? They had to be wrong I was plenty selfish. My head heavy with my thoughts, I followed my brothers as they wove through the forest.
"I thought our best course of action would be for both of us to work on our blood control. I could certainly do to have better control. I also thought that having more control over bloodlust would help you control the ardeur."
"But I don't have bloodlust Jasper."
This time both brothers laughed.
"Bells, why do you think you're constantly hunting or jumping Edward? You're not keeping up with your bloodlust."
I took a moment to ponder this, had I really been suffering the all encompassing blood lust so oft spoken of? I had continually needed to either feed conventionally or by pulling my strength through Edward.
"Then why am I so, I don't know, lucid?"
While Jasper took a moment to collect his thoughts, Emmett jumped right in.
"I think you're pulling on Edwards strengths."
My head was rocked by the thought. Jasper looked equally impressed as we stared at Emmett.
"What I'm smart too, I just don't need to show it all the time."
Emmett puffed his chest out to emphasize his preference for show.
"What do you mean that I pull on Edward's strengths?"
"It makes sense Bella. We have all wondered how your connection would manifest itself. We have all noticed how remarkably well you've handled your new desires. It makes perfect sense that you've been drawing on your bond to do so."
"It's hard not to notice when they're constantly humping in front of us."
Jasper had the decency to hide his face before his laughter took him over. Emmett had no such concern for me as he laughed boisterously while looking at me.
"I can't help it, if I could control the ardeur I wouldn't choose to have sex in front of anyone."
"Yes, that brings us back to the task at hand. I'm going to have you do one of the first tests Carlisle has made for us. Once we've gotten a hand on this we'll move up, until eventually we'll both be working on our blood lust."
"I'm just here for the ride."
"Why couldn't Edward come?"
"Actually, Alice and he talked, whatever she saw encouraged him to stay home."
"Maybe she just saw that you wouldn't progress with Edward here, maybe you fell back onto that bond like a crutch. Then she would see that you make progress without him."
Jasper and I both looked at Emmett; I'm sure with the same look upon our faces.
"Nothing Emmett, you're just being rather astute today."
"Then tomorrow I'll be just a brute to make up for it."
I shook my head at them, boys.
"Let's do this then."
Emmett moved enthusiastically through the forest, obviously looking for something. They had yet to tell me what the test was, I was growing concerned. My brother's didn't need to communicate; they had an advanced form of silent communication. Emmett would grunt occasionally but almost all of their silent argument was hidden. Knowing Emmett as I do I could tell the change in each of his emotions by the puffing of his chest or the way he would cock his head to the side as a challenge. Had I not known them both as well, I wouldn't have realized they were arguing.
"Emmett is going to stay with you and guide you through the test. I'm going to go hunt, I'm not sure that I'm sated enough not to interfere with it."
My eyebrows rose in confusion, Emmett was arguing to get rid of Jasper. Hmm, interesting. I nodded to Jasper but knew that he understood my preoccupation. When Emmett raised his head his eyes were dark with something. I wished that I had Jasper's power to know a person sometimes more than they knew themselves.
I studied Emmett's body language, taking in the tight set of his shoulder's and the crease in his forehead. Vampires could wax poetically about their differences but when all else failed the human instincts in them rose. Whenever stressed or overwhelmed emotionally, the human always surfaced. I wanted to reach over and touch Emmett; it was an odd thing to realize.
Since the ardeur had overtaken my life, I found touch calmed me. Touch could do more than just satiate or pacify me, but I was learning that being connected to others wasn't what I had always feared. I had always kept my person separate from all others. I connected to my peers but only on a superficial level, we were young, we went to school, we were girls… It was never a connection of shared emotion's or deep thoughts. We were, therefore we had that in common.
Edward opened me, showed me that I could love and be loved deeply. Each day old fears fell away leaving room in that empty expanse of my heart to fill with more love for him. My family further opened me to a kind of love that I had always had but held in reserve. I loved my family as if they were a piece of me; they were limbs of my being, not separate people far from me.
I had loved my mother deeply, but had never felt that fully returned. My father was easier to read. He had a quiet way loving people. He couldn't find the courage to tell you, but by being there with you he was saying it. I missed his quiet strength. I found in my new life that I loved more and was loved more in return than I had ever had in life.
These thoughts were the reason that I wanted to ease Emmett's struggle. Before I would have ached more to know the cause of his thoughts, rather than how I could aid him. But I had grown and I had learned that some thoughts deserved to be buried in our minds, never to surface. I shook my head to clear my thoughts, before I headed to that dark corner of my mind.
"I found something perfect. You're rather difficult to do this for. Deer are perfect for this experiment but you don't like the taste of them. I think you thrill on the hunt, which means I can't just do this the easy way. Here's the deal, I'm going to go after that momma bear's cub that will enrage her. Once she's angry I'm going to open a wound on her. Your task is to stay here and not attack her."
"But the baby, it."
"Bella, I know it's sometimes hard for you to divorce yourself from the human in you, but that bear is an animal. How many babies did you eat as a human unknowingly because they were wrapped in plastic and frozen? That baby isn't likely to survive without its mother and consider what you would do without this test. If you don't gain control over your bloodlust you would be going after humans."
Reprimanded, I hung my head. He was right, but I hated that my life had to take anyone else's. But as a human I had done it without thought, because the packaging divorced me of what I was doing. At least now I was a vegetarian.
"I just stay here, there's nothing more to this test?"
"Bella, how was your eighteenth birthday?"
I was startled by the question; my first thought was the relevance of it. When I realized, rather quickly what he was saying, I was again reprimanded. I had no right to make fun of this process, or to take it too lightly. If I couldn't manage this, I would never manage controlling myself near a human. I imagined what my bite would do to the human, how one indiscretion might completely destroy the lives of those related to them. What if I took someone's Edward?
My silent heart throbbing with emotion and my head heavy with possibilities, I accepted the challenge. This may seem easy but it was just a stepping stone, I would not be the cause of such devastation to anyone.
Emmett moved quickly once I agreed. I watched with trepidation as he went for the cub. I couldn't help empathizing with the mother. Would I not destroy any threat against me or mine? There was a definite sense of strength from the black bear and her cub. As my brother moved around them, the smile on his face proof of his enjoyment, I realized something I had never seen before. Emmett was just muscle; he was the rock of our family. He was solid in his conviction, unmoving in his devotion, a bridge for us to lean on. But would he not destroy any threat that threatened him or his?
My thoughts were violently interrupted by the gushing of blood. The smell overwhelmed my senses. The aroma swelled in my nostrils and my mouth opened on its own accord. Venom dripped from my lips, coating my chin. The taste of blood coated my tongue and it was a sweet sort of torture. I could just take the kill and swallow all the blood for myself.
I imagined what a sweet desert the cub would be, once I satiated myself with his mother. I stepped forward, my body taut with awareness. I crouched ready to pounce. I swirled my tongue around in my mouth, taking in the richness of the bouquet. A thought clicked breaking me from my lust. Edward, he had endured this for me. What sweet torture it must have been for him to be near me, to want me so desperately, and only allow himself the smallest of tastes.
The venom spilling from my opened mouth made a gentle patter on the floor. I heard the splat against the leaf of grass. My eyes narrowed, a tint of threat surrounding my irises. The roar of the mother called to me. It was a siren's call to my need. I took another step. I seemed to be two people, one fighting to get closer, the other fighting to break free. Oh Edward.
I saw his face, the glow of love in his eyes. I stopped moving, holding myself rigid. The bear clawed at Emmett, missing him by inches. I saw Edward, his naked flesh under my nails as I wrestled him. I moaned. I couldn't say whether from the taste of the blood coating the air, or the vision of Edward. I heard his voice on the wind, whispering "you're mine."
The bear's neck was under my teeth in seconds. My jump was swift. I intercepted Emmett's next jostle with the bear and went straight for its jugular. I moaned deeply to feel the blood spill down my throat. I crushed the bear closer to me, the sound of breaking bones ringing in my ears. I drank deeply and more vigorously than I had before.
When I swallowed the last drop, I opened my eyes to the world. Emmett was smiling hugely and clapping his hands together.
"I knew you were a hunter. It's not just the blood that you don't like Bells; it's the type of animal. You need predators, simple prey won't sate you."
"If bear is this good, I can't imagine how great mountain lion must really be."
I wiped the venom from my mouth and chin, dirtying my shirt. It was relieving to be sated.
"You've gotta work them up, fight for your dinner. Plus you weren't with Edward this time, so you didn't have him to help you control yourself."
"But I did well staying put."
"Bells you managed a whole 30 seconds."
I felt crushed; I had thought I did well in the task. I didn't want to admit to Emmett that I wouldn't have even lasted that long without Edward invading my thoughts.
"Bells, don't worry that was your first time; my first time I punched Carlisle and took the animal from him, immediately after he had opened a wound. Edward had deer and he managed to eat half the herd before Carlisle exposed a wound on one. We all had to keep trying Bells."
I took this all in, imagining poor Carlisle dealing with both of them. He deserved sainthood. We started walking back towards the house. There was a comfortable silence now and the gnawing that I had ignored before was gone. I had been ignoring my needs too much. I needed to be more aware of myself and work harder and staying sated.
"Bells can I talk to you for a minute?"
Emmett turned from my side to lean against a tree. I tried to look at his face but he was hiding in the shadows.
"Sure Emmett, what's up?"
"I know I shouldn't say anything, Rose would kill me if she knew, but I can't be in the middle anymore. I hate having to choose sides. You're my sister and that means something, but she's my world. What would you do if Edward made you choose?"
"You mean between you and him?"
"Yes, what would you do?"
"Well, he's my everything; I would do anything for him. But having been left behind before, having had everyone choose someone else, I don't think I could do it. I would ask Edward not to make me choose and hope that his love for me would help him understand."
"Wow Bells and you're the baby of the family."
"You guys leaving changed me a lot."
"I know and I'm sorry about that. But that's just it, I can't do it again. I promised you and Edward that I would look out for you, I can't do that if my wife doesn't want me near you."
"Rose doesn't want us to hang out?"
"She's a little miffed at you right now, she thinks you're trying to replace her in the family and kick her out. She's being just a little unreasonable."
I was completely flabbergasted.
"But why, I mean, I know we fight sometimes but she's my sister, I would never do anything like that."
"I think she knows that too Bells."
"Wait a minute, what?"
"I think that she knows you're not trying to hurt her, I think she knows you would never try to kick her out, and I think she's run out of reasons in her mind to dislike you, so she's creating some."
"That's a little harsh, what have I done to her? This is old; I'm tired of constantly having to walk on eggshells around her."
Emmett sighed deeply, the sound bringing to mind the La Push shores. I shook my thoughts to focus myself. He turned to face me, the shadows know in his face, rather than hiding it.
"Have you ever put yourself in her shoes? Have you asked yourself just what it is about you that gets to her? She's deeply defensive when she's near you and is constantly expecting an attack. She's come to terms with your goodness but still doesn't trust it, don't you wonder why?"
"Well obviously. I've tried to understand her, to empathize with her, but I cannot. I don't know her well enough to understand why she detests me so. I'm tired of trying to please her."
"Bells, it's never been you. She said something the today that made it click for me. It's not you she hates, it's your innocence. You know what happened to her, but you don't know how that changed her. I imagine that before that moment she was a lot like you, except of course she knew what a beauty she was, you just ignore that fact. She made a choice, to trust her fiancé, it was a simple thing, a small one, but it ruined her. You were faced with the same choice, given everything she wasn't, because you could decide for yourself. The difference is you asked for it anyway. Your happiness with this life, that your choice worked for you, that your innocence wasn't just destroyed, it hurts her. She envies you more than she has envied anyone and she doesn't know what to do about it."
"Then what can I do about it?"
"Cut her some slack, try and invite her to things, instead of pushing her aside. Be yourself Bells, I don't know anyone who can keep from loving you."
I ducked my head, aware that I should be blushing. Emmett's laughter was coarse, the sound of his tension coating it. But he was laughing and that lifted my heart.
"I better get you back to Edward before he strangles me."
I laughed with him and it eased some of my heart ache. The least I could do with Rose is try and understand her. I may never know her, because I would never understand her secret truths, but I knew that they were there. It gave me a better way to understand her actions, one that I hadn't had before. Rose wasn't the mystery she liked to portray. She was a victim that rose from the ashes of her pain to be born of steel and wrath. I just had to find the heart under all the armor.
My thoughts stumbled through scenarios that would aid me in getting closer to my sister. It was frustrating to still have to work so hard to get close to her. Didn't she feel the ache of not being close? Emmett bumped into me and I awoke from my thoughts, again.
"You okay, I'm not trying to put this all on you. But I know your goodness will prevail, if anyone can get through to her it's you. I promised I would be there for you and I will."
"I'm okay, just a little stumped but you know I could never just write her off. She is my sister and I'd like for her to know that."
"Okay, now that I've just laid all that on you, I should do that brother thing and help you with something. What do you need fixin'?"
I smiled; Emmett had the very essence of brother to me. He would be my protector just because that was what he was. He had no airs about himself or his relationship with others. Emmett was honest and open about himself and his thoughts about you. He was a breath of fresh air.
"You want the ardeur; it's really cramping my style?"
I tried for light, not wanting to see the crease in his forehead again. It worked because his laughter shook the trees. My heart was lightened to see the stress easing from his face and shoulders. I imagined that it wouldn't be gone while things remained as they were between Rose and me, but at least I could ease some of his burden.
"Who wouldn't want the ardeur, all that great sex? It's a great excuse to get laid whenever or wherever you want. I could have fun with it. But I wouldn't be trying to control it so I could stop it. Nope, I'd want to control it so I could shoot it at random people like a sex gun. I would get Jasper all the time. It'd been funny to do to Carlisle. Imagine at school, get bored with class and shoot the teacher with a little sex."
"That wasn't what I meant."
"Yeah, you're a prude I get it. You want to get rid of the ardeur so you can only have sex once a week with white sheets."
"What do the sheets have to do with it?"
"I don't know that's what prudes do."
I shook my head at him, the smile tugging at my mouth.
"I'm not trying to get rid of the ardeur so I never have sex. I just want to be able to make love to my husband the way I want to. Imagine if every time you wanted to touch Rose a certain way, the ability to do so was taken from you. I just want to love him and be with him in the ways that are right for us."
"Did you ever think that you're going about this all wrong? Maybe you shouldn't be trying to stop the ardeur but make it work for you. Try fighting it while you're in it, like if you wanna do it on the bed not in front of the family, you fight the ardeur until you can. You need to make little changes, show the ardeur that you're not holding it back but just doing it in a way you enjoy more. I'm sure if you're happier the ardeur will be happy."
I'm sure that startled look was back on my face, because Emmett took one look at me and laughed.
"I've been married for longer than you've been alive, compromise happens."
"Or you sleep on the couch."
I couldn't help poking at him, but he took it as the jest it was.
"Stop trying to be all or nothing with the ardeur, try to work with it and make it part of you. Then you and the succubus in you will be happy."
"That's really good advice."
"That's what I'm here for, to keep sex in business."
I giggled as I moved back to the house. Emmett gave me a lot to think on, more than he even realized. It felt like I had a great weight on me. I had so many relationships to set right, so many emotions to juggle, that I felt there was no time to just be happy.
"There you are."
Edward's voice broke my revelry; I was wrapped in his arms before I finished looking up.
"I miss you."
He attacked my neck with his lovely kisses before speaking.
"Don't leave me for that long again, it was pure agony."
"You guys are disgusting; it was just a few hours, stop acting all lovey."
"Emmett, if you don't leave, I'm going to tell Rose how much you like the idea of my wife and Alice spending time together."
"Well it'd be better if my Rosie where there too."
"I'm going, stupid lovebirds."
"Now where were we love?"
"Mmm, I believe you were kissing me and telling me of your devotion."
"Oh yes, I do recall that I owe you a few whispered affections."
My smile grew wide. Okay, there was time for happiness. I may have felt overwhelmed trying to juggle the hearts of my family, but every one of them was worth it.
I haven't given up on this story. My husband is currently deployed to a dangerous place. It's harder for me to write when I'm heavily emotional. This story is about love and happiness and unfortunately my darker emotions keep bleeding into whatever I write. But I will continue this story. I hope to have this story updated soon. Thank you all.