Her laughter filled the car, echoing through the air even after it had finished. My head was misty from its melodious tenor. I just smiled down at the girl beside me, taking in her beautiful features.
I was driving Bella home after a very successful day. The house that had so long stood in silence was now blooming with life, the residents dancing around with a permanent smile plastered on their faces. Mine was beaming with more than just a smile - I was sure my ecstasy was clear for everyone to see. Ever since Bella had finally agreed to marry me, bliss was my constant state of mind. She didn't seem to notice the joy she had brought our household, and was oblivious to the sudden change of atmosphere whenever she entered the room, the change that was especially evident in my own behavior. Alice often complained about how my mood swayed from one extreme to the other. Frankly, I didn't care. I would gladly accept all the petulance I went through when Bella was absent, as long as she returned. And she did.
The day that we'd spent under Alice's command had been perfect. Bella had hurried from one room to the other, letting me shadow her while she performed little tasks out of Alice's orders. Though Bella didn't want to admit it, I could tell she had enjoyed the day nearly as much as I had.
The invitations had all been written today by me and a very irritated Bella. She'd been very tolerant with Alice from the beginning, not even complaining about the tacky paper my sister had chosen for the invites. Bella had just bitten her lip and picked up the pile that was meant for her to sign. After playfully having whined about the ink and pens Alice had shoved in her hand ("Oh please, Alice. Can't this be done on the computer? It's not like we're living in the 19th century."), my angel had flexed her fingers and we'd both begun to write.
She had written three. I had finished thirty-nine.
I still had to chuckle at the look on her face when she'd put down her pen. ("Nobody wants to see my scrawl, anyway") I'd only given her a light kiss on the lips, but it had removed all her frustration in an instant. My Bella and her mood swings! I loved her tiny fits of annoyance, and the way I could affect them so fast.
"And did you see those flower arrangements? The guests will be too busy staring at them to enjoy the reception! Maybe that's a good thing, though. They won't see me tripping all over the place."
Bella and her pessimism. "I will catch you before any of the guests see your fall."
Once again, a simple sentence was enough to make her heart skip a beat. It was amazing how the thudding and her steady breathing seemed to play in harmony with each other, creating a song like no other.
I pulled over at the driveway of the little house. While stepping out the car to open Bella's door for her, I concentrated on Charlie's thoughts that were flooding my head from inside:
Good, she's back. Is Edward with her? At least she didn't ask to stay the night there. What could I have said? 'You're not allowed to sleep with your husband-to-be?' Oh why does she have to do this now! Why not in ten years with someone who hasn't hurt her? Hey, isn't that one game on TV right now…?
Inertly sighing at the dislike of my fiancée's father, I helped Bella out of the car. She wobbled a little when I put her down on her feet, which made me focus my attention entirely on her. My hand around her waist, we walked into the house.
It didn't take long for Charlie to drag himself from in front of the TV to the entrance.
Bella deserves so much better than him… I thought this was just a high school romance, but no! She has to marry him, too. How could she forgive him after he devastated her so completely?
I quickly drew my hand back from around Bella's delicate figure. I did not object to Charlie's impoliteness and dislike towards me. After all, it was justified. I was the one who left Bella here, crushing her with my foolish notions of right and wrong, momentarily ruining her animated personality. I still screamed mentally every time I remembered the condition I had left her in.
Our missing contact disturbed me exceedingly, so I took Bella's hand and gripped it as tightly as I could without hurting her. "Good afternoon, Charlie. I hope you don't mind me spending some time here at your place for a while?"
Do I mind? The hell I mind! He shouldn't be here at all, that heart-breaking, manipulative… "Sure. But you'll have to leave before Bella goes to bed."
Thankfully, Charlie's restrictions had relieved once he had heard about our wedding. Speaking more to Bella than me, he continued, "How was the day? Did you get everything done?"
"It was great! I mean, some of the things Alice has come up with are downright hilarious, but we had a lot of fun. Alice was practically bouncing up and down with excitement," my angel answered with her usual, happy voice. Her attitude towards the wedding had improved tremendously, or then she was doing an excellent job in hiding her reluctance.
"Great. So… not too late, all right?" We took it as his dismissal and started ascending the stairs to Bella's bedroom.
They'd better behave up there… Should I go up and check at some point? But what if I catch them while… oh, goodness!
Smiling at Charlie's worried thoughts, I scooped Bella up in my arms and ran the rest of the stairs as soon as he wasn't looking. She gasped at my sudden gesture, but then settled back to her content self. I set her on the bed and sat myself beside her.
Bella rested her head on my hard shoulder. I wondered briefly if it was uncomfortable, leaning against a cold rock like me. But she seemed satisfied enough, so I didn't comment. The feeling of her heat against my skin was just too enjoyable. Her scent filled my nostrils, but I was able to suppress the bloodlust easily. It was always there, the thirst that could so effortlessly end her precious life, haunting me every second I was around my angel. It was a high price to pay, but absolutely just. I threw the writhing monster into its familiar cage in my head - a cage that kept me from killing my dearest every day.
Inhaling Bella's mouthwatering aroma, I mentally thanked the girl beside me for her existence. The smell of freesia filled my lungs, and only I could fully enjoy it. There was no competition, no enemies, no -
"What's that?" Bella unexpectedly asked, and lifted her head to gaze across the room at her desk. My eyes followed hers, quickly detecting the reason for her question.
A red rose was placed in a little vase next to the computer.
My angel stood up and walked over to the flower. "A card, too!"
I followed Bella to the table, and gazed at the objects on it. The card was scarlet, with elegant, silver letters adorning the front. Bella picked it up, unfolded it, and read the contents out loud.
"My dearest Isabella…
No words can describe how I feel when I see your ivory skin in the daylight. Your face, so subtle and kind, dazzles me with its glory. Your eyes, with all their hidden wisdom and faith, escort my daydreams and make my heart swell. Your figure holds me in its grip while I gaze at you from the distance. At night, while I lay in bed, I picture you in the moonlight. How do the moonbeams melt into your skin? How do your eyes reflect the gentle light?
Do accept this simple gift from me - a red rose, to symbolize the love I feel for you. My heart throbs for your presence!
May your beauty never fade.
Bella stared at the card for a long time before finally looking up at me. An affectionate smile spread across her face. "Aw, Edward, you shouldn't have! The flower is beautiful!"
I didn't say anything at first. My angel had already put her arms around me before I found the right words to speak, hoping they wouldn't cause her any anxiety. "Bella... It isn't from me."
She froze. "What?"
"I didn't get you a flower or write you a card. Those are from someone else."
The emotions I was sensing were confusing. One feeling that overshadowed all the others was one I was newly quite acquainted with - jealousy. It flared up in my chest, poisoning my already cursed body with its toxin. I struggled to compose my face. Bella loved me, she had repeated that countless times. And she knew I loved her back with equal vigor. This new man, whoever it was, could not damage the bond we shared.
No, that was not the reason for my envy. What really irritated me was the fact that he had given Bella something. I had never bought my angel flowers, thinking she would throw a fit if I spent any money on her. In the few seconds before my words, I had seen the delight in Bella's eyes, heard her thank me for something I was not responsible for. She had been pleased, and I had not been the reason for her happiness.
I wanted - needed - to be that reason.
But as yet, Bella seemed a little insecure, still enfolding me with her tender arms. That was the cause of another emotion - fear. I feared that someone was after my angel, someone who wanted her harm. Bella attracted unhealthy creatures like a magnet; it would not surprise me if she was now being harassed by a stalker. Why had I not heard anyone enter her room? The man must have been here while we were both gone. The scent was still there; the smell of foreign blood lingered in the air, blended into Bella's floral fragrance.
Bella pulled back from her frozen embrace, and looked me in the eye. "You're not serious, are you? It's not funny."
To my great surprise, or rather ignorance of my selfishness, relief washed through me when I noticed that her expression was no longer pleased. "I'm not joking around. Someone was in here; I can smell it. A human."
Bella's mouth dropped open. She tossed the card on the floor, a look of pure horror and confusion visible on her angelic face. I took her in my arms, trying to soothe her with my touch. She shuddered a little - either an effect of my cold temperature or the mysterious gift, I could not tell - and brought her arms up to my neck. I tried to lighten up her suddenly disgruntled mood, simultaneously struggling with my own indignation. "It looks like you have a secret admirer. Understandable, I would say."
I could feel the shake of Bella's head against my chest, and hoped she hadn't banged it on my iron flesh. Her mumble was stiffened by my shirt. "Not understandable. Doesn't this guy know I'm with you? Does he seriously think a silly card can stop me from loving you?"
"You don't like the flower?" I was careful not to let any hope color my voice. Bella mustn't know how ridiculously jealous I was.
"No. I think it's a little creepy."
The sound clashing against my true feelings, I laughed at the insanity of her statement. "Creepy? May I remind you that you intend to marry a lethal vampire? A little card shouldn't disturb you."
She didn't answer that, but tightened her hold around me.
Even with my chuckle and Bella's obvious disapproval of the inexplicable present, I couldn't help but fear two things.
If my angel was in danger from this man, I would not let her out my sight for a minute.
But the man, whoever he was, appeared to be a hopeless romantic, very much like me. Would that be enough to win her heart over? The sensible part of me knew it was nonsense. This lady was mine to keep, for eternity. My irrational thoughts corrupted the kind intentions of the one woman who held my heart in her possession, blessing me with joy I had never hoped to experience.
It was my duty to take care of her, to elate her with presents and adoring words.
This admirer was treading on my land.