Note: Goddess divine Stephenie Meyer owns everything. I just borrow the characters. If I owned them, I'd never let Edward come out and play.
Chapter 6: Born Anew
All I felt was fire. Fire and Pain.
So much pain. It ravaged my body, leaving me too weak to understand anything else but how much it hurt.
Each cell twisted. Each muscle contracted. Oh, god. I felt like I was being turned inside out. Like my skin had been stripped by some horrible trick and I'd been plunged into a furnace after being doused with gasoline.
It would ebb and flow, but mostly it surged. It would climb to a point and then level off, making me think the pain had hit it's peak. But I was wrong. So very wrong. Just when I thought it was done climbing, it would thrust me forward to an even higher plateau of suffering.
My mind shrank back, unwilling to concede to the pain. All sense of myself had disconnected from the now shriveling body. The only thing I could still control was my voice, thankfully. This meant I could control my screaming. I refused to scream, not even the littlest bit. Gasping was tolerable, but the air leaving my lungs was superheated. Dragon-like almost.
In my more coherent moments, Edward's name and face flashed across my thoughts. I clung to it desperately, unwilling to let his perfection slip from my mind. My weak request to hear his voice brought forth the same honey, velvety voice I knew I'd love for the rest of time. My consciousness grasped at his words, letting them distract me from my raging body.
He spoke of so many wonderful things, or at least I think he did. My mind couldn't concentrate on them wholly, but instead heard only the tones. It didn't matter though because just his voice alone was enough to help.
The pain hit another plateau.
Edward stopped talking, but instead the glorious notes of my lullaby were there instead to lull me into unconsciousness. Blackness pulled me under, giving me no option but to give in.
I sunk deeper into the abyss, unaware of all time and place. But the one thing I did feel was pressure. So much pressure. I felt like my body was in a vice grip that was being cranked until it could be turned no more. Surely my bones were turning to dust. There was no way possible my body could withstand this kind of pressure.
Thud … thud … thud.
What was that? That sound was so distant, so drawn out. Was that my own heart beating? But something was wrong. The beats were coming too far apart. Impossibly far apart.
My last heartbeat. I had died.
I plunged deeper.
Suddenly, everything got so loud. Like the volume control had been turned up to the maximum setting. Every sound imaginable was hitting me with amazing force. I wanted to cover my ears to muffle the sounds, but my arms still felt weighed down. Or held back. I wasn't sure.
And the smells. Oh, god. The smells.
But one smell above all else stood out. The luscious scent that was Edward. I could pick his smell out from thousands, across oceans, over peaks and through valleys. His smell dominated, rising above all others.
The noise was unfamiliar. It sounded like my voice, but it was more delicate. Sweeter, I think. Like tinkling chimes or plucking harps.
"I'm right here, Bella. I'm right here," came the glorious reply.
Gasping, I shot up and sucked in one large, deep breathe. The pressure was gone and my lungs expanded unnecessarily. The feeling was completely foreign and somewhat unsettling.
At the same time, my eyelids suddenly flew open, revealing Edward's beautiful face. But it was different. Not bad 'different'. Definitely not bad in any way. Every curve, every indent, every detail was crystal clear. Like someone had cranked up the definition and everything was so much clearer.
My senses went into overload. It was so overwhelming to see everything, smell everything, hear everything. If this is what it was like to be a vampire, I would surely go mad in no time.
"Bella!" Edward exclaimed and wrapped me in his strong arms. I squeezed him back, suddenly able to feel every inch of his glorious body in it's total perfection. The most wondrous thing though was that he wasn't cold, hard marble anymore. His body was suddenly soft and supple under my long unused fingers. It responded to my touch, flexing under the pressure of my fingertips.
And he wasn't cold. No, it felt like his temperature had risen considerably.
"You feel like me!" I blurted out.
He didn't respond. He just buried his face in my hair, inhaling my scent. It gave me a chance to enjoy his own luscious scent, making my mouth water. An enhanced sense of smell was a gift at this moment. I wanted nothing more to sit and take him into me. It was that delicious.
I could feel his lips forming into a smile and I drew back from him to see the beautiful sight. Simply gorgeous. I wanted to see him smile every second of every day for the rest of time it was so stunning.
Without thinking, I crashed my lips into his. I devoured him. My body pressed against his, throwing him backwards onto his back on the bed. My lips covered every inch of exposed skin on his face and neck, not settling on any single spot long. I wanted more. I quickly ripped his shirt off and continued onto the smooth planes of his defined chest.
Oh, god. There wasn't enough of him. I couldn't move fast enough.
Edward's head fell back, and he groaned a deep throaty moan. The kind of moan I had only dreamed about for so long. His hands twined through my hair, pulling sharply. If I had been human, he would have ripped it out from the root, but not now with my newfound durability.
But before I could continue on my path to consume every inch of him with my mouth, his strong hands pulled me back up to his face. He kissed me deeply, much deeper than he had every been able to before.
Edward's tongue met my lips, seeking entrance to my mouth. As much as I wished to grant him this, it was my turn. I'd never been allowed in his mouth, and I definitely wanted in. I darted my own tongue out and before he could meet it with his own, it was exploring his mouth. I licked every crevice, every tooth.
Divine. Simply divine. He tasted heavenly.
Edward pulled away suddenly, making me whimper at this loss. His eyes opened and searched for mine.
"Bella, love. As much as I want to continue this, the family wants to see you. They're very anxious," he managed to get out between gasps.
I heard footsteps in the hallway, no longer muffled by the thick carpeting.
I huffed at this, knowing full well that even though I wanted to see them, I wanted Edward more.
"Okay, you're right. Later though? Can we?" my eyes went wide, fishing for the answer I wanted above all else.
Edward leaned in close to my ear and whispered in a deep voice, "Anything, Bella. Anything you want at all."
It was the voice that did it to me. It was always the voice. That deep, velvety voice that was wrapped in sensuality. If I hadn't been on the bed, my legs would have definitely become jelly instantly. Good thing I was on the bed.
The door flew open, revealing our family members.
"Told you the first thing they'd do was go at it. Pay up the 100, Jasper," Emmett's voice boomed with laughter.
Edward growled deep within his chest at his brother.
"Owwww!" Rosalie smacked Emmett on the back of the head hard, making me giggle at the sight.
Emmett's comment had made me painfully aware of our position on the bed, so I climbed off Edward's lap. If I'm sure if could blush, I would have been the shade of a hothouse tomato.
"Bella, dear? How are you doing?" Carlisle's said, his steady voice resonating in the room.
I thought for a second, considering his question. Everything felt okay, but my throat was starting to itch rather uncontrollably. Like a bug had flown in there and was flapping it's wings in an attempt to escape.
"Well, I guess I'm fine. But my throat kind of itches a lot."
"That's the thirst. You need to hunt. Rather quickly too before it becomes overwhelming," he responded.
I nodded, understanding him clearly. I had always wanted to see Edward when he hunted. I'd pictured it a hundred different times, each time more amazing than the last.
"Anything else?" Carlisle asked again.
"Nope, I think that's about it," I said. I stretched my fingers, clenching and unclenching them.
Before I knew what hit me, I was pinned on the bed by someone with feminine arms and shoots of spiky black hair. Alice.
"Bella! This is so exciting! I'm so glad you're okay. I was so worried for you, even though I knew you'd come out fine!" she exclaimed. Her enthusiasm was definitely catching. I couldn't help but grin ear to ear, even with her on top of me.
"Alice? I know you're excited, dear, but Bella really does need to hunt," Carlisle reminded her.
Alice withdrew, embarrassment written on her face.
"We will be downstairs waiting for you two when you're ready," Carlisle said. He turned and left, the rest of the family closely following them before closing the door.
Edward retrieved a pair of jeans and a clean shirt for me from the closet before turning around to let me change. Always the gentleman.
I changed quickly, not wanting to waste any time. The sooner the hunt was over, the sooner we could resume what had been interrupted earlier.
"Ready!" I proclaimed after pulling on a pair of tennis shoes.
Edward pulled on a new shirt, leaving the one I'd torn open lying in a heap on the floor. I smiled, remembering the way his skin had tasted under my tongue. Mouthwatering.
We quickly joined the family downstairs before going outside. Once there, Edward turned to me, tightening his grip on my hand that he held.
"Bella, everybody is going to run ahead and look out for people. You stay close to my side and we'll meet them. Okay?" he asked, his eyes imploring me.
I gulped and nodded. I had never liked running that much, even after I got over my initial queasy response to it.
"Edward, you know where to meet us. Take your time. We'll be all around, making sure it's safe," Carlisle stated.
With that, everybody took off in a blur of motion. They ran off in all directions, flanking us and scouting ahead. I knew what they were scouting for and the thought scared me. This was the unsavory part. The part I feared most.
"Edward, I'm scared. What if I do something horrible, like take off and massacre the entire town?" I gulped.
Edward turned again and pulled me in for a tight hug.
He whispered in my ear, "That's why I'm here. I'd never let you do that. I'd never forgive myself if I let you do that. The whole family is here for you."
Relief washed over me. Edward would keep me safe. I knew that. He'd keep me from doing horrible things. He would never break a promise like that. I was still scared though.
I sighed. "Okay, let's get this over with. I trust you."
"Just start running, love. Then move a little faster. Don't worry; it will come naturally."
Edward held my hand, squeezing it to assure me. We started to run, slowly at first and then gradually increasing our pace.
He was right. It did come naturally. When I had run with Edward before, everything had whizzed by in a blur. Nothing had been distinguishable. But now, I could make out every tree, every branch, every leaf. It was almost as clear as if I was walking. I could hear every sound of the forest. Frogs croaking, birds chirping, leaves rustling. Each sound was separate and distinct.
Around us, I heard the rest of the family running along side us. I made out Rosalie up ahead on the left, Emmett on the right. Alice was on Edward's left and Jasper was staying close to me on my left, probably in case I took off after something more delicious than their normal prey. Carlisle and Esme had swung around behind and were trailing us, pulling up the rear.
Finally we slowed, apparently coming to the place that had been agreed upon.
It was finally time. My first hunt. My first kill.
"Bella, love. I know you're nervous and scared, but it's okay. We're right here," Edward's soothing voice was steady and calmed my nerves. I felt another wave of calm followed by a surge in confidence, probably Jasper's doing.
"Thanks, Jasper," I said.
"No problem. Everything will be fine," he replied timidly.
Edward turned to me again, taking my face between his smooth palms. He looked me right in the eye and I saw crimson ringing the edges of his golden eyes, no doubt from the remnants of my blood.
"Just let your instincts take over. I'll be right here if you need me," he said soothingly.
He let me go, pushing me forward a bit. I turned around to look at him, unsure of what I should do.
"Edward?" I said nervously.
"Just breath in deeply. There's a family of deer around here and I want to see if you can find it."
I turned back and closed my eyes. Breathing in sharply, I smelled it. It was warm and inviting. I could almost taste it already. The itch in my throat roared and turned into a full-fledged burning.
Without realizing it, I was off running to follow the scent. My eyes glazed over and I let my thirst consume me. I saw them before they saw me. Darting around the trees, I pounced on the biggest one, the mother probably.
Swiftly, I wrestled it to the ground, breaking it's neck in the process. I could practically see the neck veins throbbing. I could hear the pulse of it's heart under my sensitive hands. I couldn't last any longer.
I sunk my mouth into it's neck, swallowing hard. The thick, vicious liquid was warm and sticky. Like melting honey, but infinitely better. It ran down my throat, soothing the burning.
I didn't finish drinking until there was nothing left. I wasn't done though, not by far.
The rest of the family of deer had taken off when I'd pounced on the largest one, so I jumped up to follow them. They didn't get far before I found them, taking down two in the process.
Slowly, the burning ebbed. It was still there, but it was tolerable.
Once finished, I stood up and finally acknowledged the grim scene in front of me. If I'd been human, I would have immediately turned around and retched everywhere. Gladly I wasn't because vomiting was one of my least favorite things to do.
Edward caught up with me then, pulling me into another hug. I broke down sobbing against his chest with the realization of what I'd just done. I'd killed innocent animals. I hated the idea, but a part of me knew it was necessary.
"Ssssshh, love. It's alright. It gets better, I promise. And trust me, it's better than the … alternative," he cooed, rubbing my hair.
He let me cry it all out, even if no tears were flowing. Dry sobs worked just as well for this.
The family was drawing up around us in a circle. They kept their distance though, obviously seeing my reaction to my first hunt.
I looked up at Edward's face, still recovering from my sobs.
"C-can we …. can we go home now?" I hiccupped.
"Anything, Bella. Anything."
The run back to the house was quiet; Edward allowing me to process what had just happened.
Once inside the house, Emmett collapsed on the couch sending a reverberation through the floor.
"That was fun! I forgot how much fun newborn hunting was!" he exclaimed, his eyes alight with enjoyment.
I hiccupped again, not fully recovered.
"Emmett! Hush!" Esme scolded him. "Bella, we all understand the first hunt. It's rough for everyone. It's okay, dear. Don't let it get you down." Her soothing voice was gentle.
I nodded before turning to Edward, who was holding my hand tightly next to me.
"Edward, can we go upstairs please?" I said timidly. I wanted to be alone with him. I still needed to get used to the idea of all of this. It was all so much, so fast.
We climbed the stairs slowly, much slower than we probably could. Making our way into our bedroom, Edward closed the door behind us.
I went over and sat on the edge of the bed, fumbling with my hands. They seemed so much stronger than they ever had, so much more capable.
Edward came over to me and kneeled down in front of me. His eyes locked with mine, looking straight into my very being.
"Bella?" he said, sounding scared.
"I'm okay. It's just … a lot to digest at once," I replied.
He sighed in response and pulled my hands into his own. He lifted them to his lips, slowly kissing each of my fingers that were wrapped through his own.
"You know I love you, don't you?" his voice was low and reverent.
"Oh, Edward. Of course I know. And I love you too. So much more than words could ever describe. I just need time. I'll get used to it; I really will."
He looked back up at my face, sadness tugging on the corners of his eyes.
I moved forward and kissed each corner, trying to rid his glorious face of the sadness I knew he felt. Pulling back, I saw his eyes closed and a pleasant smile on his face.
"What?" I asked, curious where his sudden mood swing had come from.
He opened his eyes and they were no longer filled with the sadness from just a moment previous.
"That's the beauty, Bella. We have all the time in the world. We have eternity. Eternity together," he whispered.
I threw myself around him, pressing into his body with all my might.
In that moment, I knew I'd made the right choice. There really had been no other choice. Everything would be alright. Any problem, we would face it head on together. Any struggle, we would overcome together.
Edward was my life; he was my death. He was my past, my present and my future. He was my gift, my husband, my mate. He was my choice, but he was also so much more. The choice was made for me long ago. That very first day in biology and from then on.
He was mine and I was his. For all of eternity.
A/N: I know you all want me to continue, but I think I'm going to end the story here. There may be one-shots to follow this, but I feel this particular story is complete.
Please review. I love hearing all of your comments! It warms my heart! Thanks so much for the support.