What was I thinking? She would know. She would always recognize me. Even if it wasn't me.
So what was I doing at Carlisle's bank in Seattle, depositing twenty-thousand dollars into Bella's checking account?
Love was the first answer, but I swatted it away quickly. She shouldn't love a creature like me. I was bad for her, her worst enemy, an enemy she thought she loved.
But here I was, a dreary Christmas Eve morning, depositing mere pocket change into the savings account of Isabella Marie Swan, Fifteen Lakeshore Drive, Forks, Washington...
I still had her address memorized. Just like everything else I had memorized about her. Nothing in this world, or maybe the next, would change that.
I shuffled behind another man, dressed in a long black coat, toward the counter. Even if Carlisle owned half the stock of this bank, I would not make a scene over this. He had warned me no to, that this would just frustrate me. I told him I wouldn't.
I looked up to the clerk behind the counter. She was fair-skinned, with dark hazel eyes and cropped dark hair with a red streak. Her name tag read "Lily". Reminding me, yet again, of another fair-skinned human I recalled…
Oh my God, he's gorgeous!
I leaned on the counter and smiled seductively to the clerk.
"Yes, I am Isaac Randall and I would like to speak with the manager, please."
Isaac Randall? Isn't he the owner of the bank? Here, in my line?!
Her frantic thoughts ran as fast as her fingers, trying to dial the phone next to her, on the counter. I pretended to feign interest in anything else but her and her conversation with the manager on the phone. A moment later, she sighed again.
"The manager will be out shortly," she said, smoothing her back away from her face.
I didn't know he was so handsome. And young, too. If only I was under thirty, I would definitely NOT be sitting behind this counter much longer…
I shivered momentarily, as if the cold bothered me. She looked slightly alarmed.
"Can I get you a coffee or anything sir?"
"No, thank you," I said, courteously. No sense in making this harder than it should be.
I looked around the bank, waiting for the minutes to pass. What would Bella think when she received the money for college? I always wanted her to go; it would be the perfect reason for my plan to keep her human at all costs. Now, without me to interfere in her life, she could go away to college, have a life of her own. A family of her own. Something a creature like me could never, ever give my beautiful, warm Bella.
Turning around, I was met by a pleasant-looking, middle-aged man in a dark gray suit with a dark blue tie. He stuck out his hand for a greeting. I took it cautiously, shaking once. "David Fields. Can I help you, sir?"
"Yes, I was instructed by my father to set up a scholarship fund for graduating high school students who might otherwise be unable to attend college." There, that's easy enough. A straight, concise explanation.
He led me to a windowed room, facing the city, with a small plant on the large, oak desk. Brown leather couches cattycornered the room, along with a dozen or so plaques, blasting the great achievements of Pacific Northwest Trust.
"Yes, well, have a seat, Mr. Randall."
We sat and the man began again. "So you want to set up a college fund. Privately, I assume?"
"Yes," I said. "My father has done some research and found a lucky high school senior who has spectacular grades, but an unfortunate financial situation. He thought she would be the best candidate for this scholarship."
He smiled and shifted in his seat to begin working on the computer. "She has a bright future ahead, does she?"
She must be extremely lucky, too, receiving a scholarship like this.
I smiled, however saddened at the thought I was. "She does indeed have a bright future."
He shifted again and began typing. "Okay, Mr. Randall, I'll need specifics. Name and address, please."
"Isabella Swan, Fifteen Lakeshore Drive, Forks, Washington," I rattled off, from my months of memorization of everything that had to do with that precious human girl.
"Forks, huh? Nice town. Take the kids there on vacation in the mountains."
I nodded politely, but didn't really care. Families, other than my own, were of no consequence to me anymore.
The keys ticked away. He stopped every so often to ask for more information and I replied. When it came to the amounts to be deposited, his fingers stopped typing.
"Um, sir, not to be rude, but are sure of that amount? Will it be incremental or all at once?"
"Incremental. A twenty-thousand dollar deposit first, with five thousand each month until graduation."
He sighed. "Mr. Randall," he said, keeping his eyes on me. Trying to intimidate me, I supposed. I suppressed a snicker.
"I know your father is the founder of Pacific Trust Northwest, but this is a large sum."
David began shuffling papers on his desk, looking for figures and facts to back up his statement. "We'll need at least two weeks before any exchanges can be made, the account set up, written acceptance of the scholarship…"
Damn, I had forgotten about that. In all my planning, I had forgotten one, miniscule logistic.
I leveled my gaze at him, dropping my voice slightly and doing what I did best.
"Mr. Fields, her acceptance will not be a problem. My father has already spoken with the young woman's parents and they are thrilled. They signed for her. She's under eighteen."
What the…? What was I saying again? Oh yes, the figures… Wait, that's not right.
David raised an eyebrow. "Mr. Randall, I understand that your father owns this bank, but there are regulations that must be upheld—"
I silenced him quickly with a glare. "I assure you, Mr. Fields, that my father has insisted on this scholarship and I am making it my directive to ensure his wishes are carried out."
David turned a little pale, but otherwise stared back at the screen. Somewhere, I felt like I should have apologized for that. On the one hand, why should I? He had questioned his customer and I was simply enforcing my right as his customer.
But, unfortunately, and much my own dismay, Bella had an more of an effect on me than I realized. I felt like I was becoming human again, those strange, powerful emotions of jealousy, hate, remorse, rage, and… love… were resurfacing. It's too late for that now, I thought to myself. You told her you would stay out of her life for good.
The tapping of the keys ceased and David turned again, watching the printer spit out the documents I needed. He tapped them lightly on the table, stapling them together and swiftly signing each page at the bottom, adding his full signature in the back. He pushed the document to me, letting me read.
I sure hope I don't get into trouble for this. There are so many rules…
I know what you mean. Rules and ethics are more stringent in my vocabulary, too. I read slowly, making gestures and shifting my weight, appearing to be human. Once, Mr. Fields got up to get coffee, asking if I cared for any. I said no. It took nearly ten minutes, but I finished the document at a relatively human pace. He came back just as I looked up from signing Isaac Randall's name to the last of the pages.
"So, Mr. Randall, are we all set?" he asked, his eyes glancing briefly to the black leather case I had with me. I nodded, whipping the case atop his desk, clicking the locks on either side with a flick of my fingers.
Oh my… Really? Does he mean for all of this to be deposited immediately?
"I would like this amount to be deposited immediately into the account," I said, showing a forced smile. When I noticed he paled a little more, I quickly added. "Of course, this will be incremental. No college student should be without the proper amount for each semester no matter where she goes."
He smiled, finally, like a great relief had been lifted off his shoulders. Glad to see someone appreciates the hard-working student. I'll make sure this Isabella Swan is notified immediately of her acceptance.
I handed the briefcase to him, while he called in an accountant to help transport the cash to the vault. I stared nonchalantly out the window of the office, into the busy bank. People milled about everywhere. Bank tellers behind their counters, handling customers. Mothers keeping their children quiet and in line. Business men and women sighing and glancing at their watches and cell phones.
I wonder what Bella would be doing for Christmas. Would she celebrate, as I had hoped, happily with Charlie? Would she spend it with Reneé in Florida? Would she be happy… at all?
I prayed, however futile it would be for God to hear me, that she would have a merry Christmas. I, however, would not be spending it with my family, as we had every year Emmett had joined. Always a celebration of family and love. But not this year. Not for me. My love was gone, so it made sense that celebrating it would only make matters worse. I was spending it in Brazil, far from everyone. I had tickets in my breast pocket for a late evening flight to Rio de Janeiro. Nothing in this world could cure me of her absence. I desperately wished there was an afterlife for my kind. Something from this hellish day-to-day existence I lived now.
A light tap on my shoulder caused me to stiffen slightly, and I turned, slowly to avoid scaring him.
"Mr. Randall, everything is set," he said, smiling. I forced a smile back and shook his hand.
"Merry Christmas to you, sir," his hazel eyes warm.
"Merry Christmas, to you, too," I said, somewhat icily. A strange look crossed his face, but before he could think of anything the telephone rang. I walked quickly from the stuffy office, breathing in deep lungful of fresh air as I walked back outside. Snow had just started to fall and was lightly covering the ground.
I made my way to my car, got in and started the engine. Hopefully, somewhere, I thought, it will be a merry Christmas for someone. For her.
I allowed myself, as brief as possible, the memory of her lovely face glistening in the meadow, this past summer. My pale, sparkling hand tracing her cheeks lightly. She blushed that luscious color and I felt that deep yearning again. Not the monstrous yearning, but the human one. The one where, no matter if I lived an eternity, I would love her until the day I would die. That memory kept me going as I sped past the swirling snow and the streets of Seattle disappearing behind me.