The Cotton Tail
Disclaimer: I do not own. Thank Stephenie Meyer and her brilliance.
Set in the 19th century. Bella is captured and taken to a brothel that belongs to the Cullen family. AU, vampires. Edward/Bella. Please review so I know whether to post more.
The sun was peeking hesitantly over the hills, slowly dragging with it the golden bronze of early morning. I pulled my knees closer to my chest, resting my head on them. It had been cold, but the sun was warming everything. I sighed, closing my eyes.
The year was 1836 and for the most part the country-side was relatively quiet. Some small skirmishes had made their way towards my family's ranch, but hardly ever did they last. We were happy, safe. I was seventeen that year, the year that my father had dubbed my 'age of blossoming'. My mother had left my father when I was younger, and she lived in Colorado, only a state away, but far too much of a distance to travel.
It didn't matter. I was happy with my father, even if he was trying to marry me off.
"Bella!" I cringed. That was him – calling for me. He'd probably just discovered my bed empty. I rose reluctantly, saying my farewell to the beautiful sunrise and the freedom it offered.
Our house was a small one, made of logs and nestled between two large hills. The large expanse of land around us never ceased to make me feel small. I pondered that as I stepped into the foyer. Charlie, my father, was sitting happily at the kitchen table, talking to someone that I was sure he'd want to introduce to me.
"Bells," he said cheerily, upon seeing me. "This is Mike Newton, you know, Arthur Newton's son?" I let my eyes roam over this 'Mike'. He was cute. Baby fat, blue eyes, dimples. He smiled happily and stood.
"Good to meet you, Bella," he said graciously, his cheeks growing pink. I muttered a hello, not meeting his eyes. Charlie narrowed his eyes.
"Bella, that's no way to greet a guest," he admonished.
"I'm not in the mood for guests," I retorted, but I leaned over and kissed Mike on the cheek. "Nice to meet you, Mike Newton," I said sweetly, eyeing my father. Mike tittered at the contact and Charlie sat back down, although his teeth were clenched. "May I go back outside?" I asked. Charlie laughed.
"Of course not. I want you to entertain Mike. I've got to go to town, anyway. Work is calling." He winked at Mike, and I frowned as he kissed my forehead. "Behave," he warned me, before exiting the front door. Mike Newton looked at me expectantly, silently. I smiled.
"My father is very naïve," I said. "It's nice meeting you." I turned to leave the room and Mike caught my arm.
"You're supposed to 'entertain' me, Bella," he said. I smiled up at him, ignoring the glint of lust in his eyes. It was amazing how his boyish features had twisted.
"Oh, how silly of me. Why don't you make yourself comfortable while I go change into something more suitable?" Mike's grip relaxed and his countenance slackened. I gave him one last reassuring smile before I gently pulled my arm away. "Have a seat. I'll make us some tea once I've changed and you can tell me about yourself." He nodded and took his seat, his fingers sliding away from my arm. I turned and went down the short hallway, entering my room. I knew he'd be listening, so I opened a drawer noisily. "It's going to be a minute. You know how these dresses are."
"Yeah," he agreed, and I smirked to myself as I slid open my window carefully. Quietly, I gathered my dress in my hands and put one leg out the window. Just as I was ducking under the wooden frame he peeped his head in.
"Hey, where does your dad keep the-" He froze, as did I. For a second we stared at each other, and then anger contorted his baby face. "Get the hell-" That was all I heard. I ducked out of the window and as soon as my feet touched the warm earth I ran. I ran as hard and as fast as I could. I wasn't just running from Mike – I was running from the idea of marriage. From the leering eyes of male suitors. From everything that my life was promised to be.
It was raining – that was the first thing I noticed. The second thing was that it was dark – much darker in the thick woods. I'd run as far as I could, stopping only when I hit trees and brush too thick to traipse through. I'd sat down, closed my eyes to rest, and apparently fallen asleep. Now, I was soaked to the bone and shivering. I wrapped my arms around myself, pulled myself against the tree trunk I hadn't known was there. I was alone now, and away from my father and his 'requirements'. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of Charlie. He was probably frantic, pulling at his peppered hair. Maybe crying. Probably not. Charlie didn't show emotions that way. The tears spilled over as I imagined Charlie coming home and not finding me there. I shivered against the cold as the sobs wracked my chilled body. It was unfair that I'd had to run to escape. Charlie didn't understand. I didn't want to marry someone that I didn't care about. I wanted to marry for love. My thoughts were interrupted by a loud crunching noise – leaves under foot. I jumped, squinting into the wet darkness. I could see nothing against the sheets of rain. I stumbled to my feet, using the trunk for support. My dress clung to me like a second skin as I peered around the tree, searching for whatever I'd heard. I still saw nothing.
Suddenly something grabbed me from behind – strong, iron arms. I screamed, falling against my assailant. It was a person, that much I knew. I heard a low voice in my ear.
"Don't fight me," it ordered. I screamed louder, ignoring the voice's warning, and kicking at the legs behind me.
"Let me go!" I yelled hoarsely, choking on tears and rain. I couldn't move my arms – the grip was too tight. In fact, it was getting tighter and tighter. That last thing I thought was that I was going to die.
"Shh, you'll wake her."
"I don't care! You weren't supposed to bring any more! Carlisle-"
"Who cares what Carlisle says? He's not the boss!" I moaned, the voices swimming around me. I turned my head, my eyes still closed. I realized I was bound, and the hard surface against my back must be a table.
"She's awake. What are you going to do?" That was a female's voice, and she sounded irritated.
"Whatever I bloody well please!" said a male's voice, and he sounded more than irritated – irate. Probably because she was telling him what to do. I opened my eyes slowly, allowing the world to come to still focus. I was in a dark room, lit only by two lanterns in the far corner. The girl was standing closest to me. She had short spiky hair that contrasted strikingly against her pale skin. She was dressed in a long black coat and boots. Irregular for this day and age. "Jasper," she whispered, and I realized her eyes were on me. I gasped. Her eyes, despite her dark hair color, were brilliant topaz, and they glowed in the dark room. A man came into my view, with hair just as dark, eyes just as golden. They were… beautiful. The most beautiful people I had ever seen.
"Where am I?" I whispered. The man, Jasper, smiled.
"The Cotton Tail," he replied. "Welcome." There was a pause in which the girl tugged on the man called Jasper's arm.
"He's coming," she trembled. Jasper smiled.
"Let him, Alice. Let him." The girl, Alice, left the room quickly, seemingly afraid of something that was coming. I wondered if I should be afraid as well. In fact, I hadn't been afraid yet, though I had been captured and bound. Jasper approached me, leaning over my body. I cringed as his finger stroked my neck. It was as cold as ice. "So pure," he mumbled, before the door was slung open. It hit the wall with a loud bang and a man strode in. "Edward," Jasper said lithely. "So good of you to finally show your face. I was wondering when the smell of fresh blood would call you from your reading." Jasper's tone was light, playful. I pulled against the rope that bound me, moaning. Now I was afraid. The man he'd called Edward was angry. I could tell by his ragged breaths. His eyes, the same topaz, were blazing. My breath caught. His hair was bronze and tousled as if he'd just woken. When his eyes turned to me I closed my own. If I'd thought Jasper was beautiful, then Edward… Edward was perfection.
"Jasper," he said, his voice like molten lava, "what is she doing here?" Jasper started to respond, but Edward cut him off. "You weren't supposed to allow any more. Carlisle will-"
"Damn it, I don't care about what Carlisle says!" Jasper hissed. "I'm an adult and I want her." My heart thudded against my chest in fright. Edward turned to me again, and then approached me. He made a sound in his throat as he looked at me. I was soaked, still, and fighting against the ropes.
"Stop moving," he said softly. "You'll only hurt yourself." I slowly did as I was told, still whimpering. "She is beautiful," he murmured. "Carlisle will be down here shortly. Until then I'm untying her." Jasper made a sound that could only be described as a growl.
"No. I want-" Edward turned on Jasper, and from what I could see Jasper was afraid. He backed up a little. "Fine. You have her. I'll find a better one." With that, he left the room, slamming the door behind him.
For some reason I pitied her. I watched her carefully as I untied the ropes that held her. She trembled, her large doe-like eyes watching me, frightened. Despite my personal feelings, Jasper was right. She was beautiful. Not in a conventional way – her face was heart-shaped and pale, sprinkled with fawn colored freckles - her hair a thick tangled mess of chocolate. I watched her sit up, watched her hands flit around her face trying to wipe away the tears that had already dried.
"Stand," I ordered. I wanted to see her in stature – see just why Jasper had gone to the lengths he had. She did as she was told, still trembling, her eyes wide. My breath caught as her soaked dress fell around her. She was shorter than me by almost a foot, but her figure was well formed, with a small waist, and ample bosom. I could see her nipples through the dress, taut from the cold. I sucked in a breath, imagining all the things I could do to her – all the things she could do to me. I turned away, then.
"Why am I here?" she asked in a small voice. I strode to the corner of the room and retrieved a woolen cloth. I handed it to her, trying to ignore the way her lips trembled just slightly as she spoke.
"Do you not know what a brothel is?" I asked. Her eyes grew wider, fearful.
"B-Brothel?" she stuttered, tears gathering. She took the cloth gingerly, wrapping it around her small body. I nodded.
"The Cotton Tail?" I questioned. Everyone had heard of it. My family had founded it almost centuries ago. She shook her head, shivering still. Something inside me stirred, and I realized I wanted to go to her, comfort her. Instead I laughed. "Well, as Jasper said, welcome. You're our newest girl." I left her there then, unsure of what to do or say. One thing was for sure, this new one would be a hit.
I'd started to feel a bit warmer until Edward had told me where I was. Of course I'd known what a brothel was, I just couldn't believe that I'd been brought to one. I knew what the girls were supposed to do, and that idea frightened me. The Cotton Tail… I thought hard. I'd heard Charlie mention it before. One of his friends visited it on a regular basis. Of course, he was single, and very ugly. I groaned, tears dripping down my chin. I'd run away to escape men and their raunchy ways.
"I should have stayed home," I whispered, sinking to the floor. In despair, I covered my eyes, sobbing again. Where was Charlie? Maybe he'd come after me? I doubted he'd even know where to look. With that thought I sobbed harder, allowing them to rip through my chest, hurting my throat.
"Calm, now," came a soothing voice, and my head jerked up. I hadn't heard anyone come in, but there he was – a handsome man with blonde hair and those same topaz eyes. I wondered if all the men I'd seen were related.
"Take me home!" I croaked, choking. "Please, please take me home!" I buried my head again.
"Calm, please, Bella. That will make this all easier." At the sound of my name I cringed.
"How do you know my name?" I whimpered. He didn't answer. He simply approached me, grabbing my arm softly. He pulled me to my feet.
"Are you still cold?" he asked. I nodded, hiccupping.
"Are you going to take me home?" I asked hopefully. The man shook his head sympathetically. Somehow it seemed that it saddened him to say no, but I knew that wasn't true as he told his name.
"My name is Carlisle. I'm going to take you to your room. You can get washed up and put on warm clothes." I tried to pull away from him.
"No!" I shouted. "I want my father! Let me go!" Carlisle didn't fight against me. His cold hand held me easily.
"Stop struggling," he said gently. "You'll only hurt yourself. Trust me, this isn't that bad. Aren't you hungry, Bella?" I shook my head, crying.
"No, no, no…" I said over and over, but allowed Carlisle to lead me out of the room. We went into a long hallway that was even darker than the room. There was a candle about every five feet. The light from them licked at the walls and ceiling, creating a scarier atmosphere. I shrank against the wall, looking behind me.
"Why me?" I whispered, unsure if he would hear me. He did.
"I'm not sure. That was Jasper's doing. I suppose we'll find out."
"I don't understand," I cried, and Carlisle chuckled.
"That makes two of us."
The room that he called mine was not far from the room I'd been in. It was bigger, though, and it was home to six identical beds. When he opened the door four girls greeted him. They all smiled, big fake smiles, and touched his arm.
"Carlisle," one cooed, "we missed you." He smiled, brushing them off.
"Girls, this is Bella. I'm sure you'll make her feel at home?" They all nodded hastily, their eyes burning with curiosity, roving my body. I hid behind Carlisle until he shoved me forward, and without another word, slammed and locked the door behind him.