A huge thanks goes out to my beta Emilie Fauve, my fellow Target-ite!
All of the good stuff belongs to Stephenie Meyer. Maybe Santa will bring me Edward for Christmas....
"What have you done Carlisle?" The acid in my voice was palatable. I couldn't hide my disgust after seeing him hovering over the blonde woman, his teeth scrupulously sunk into her bruised neck. What was he thinking?
Esme and I had just returned from hunting, expecting to meet up with Carlisle after a long shift at the hospital, but instead we walked in on him…transforming her.
I instantly scanned his thoughts, all the while holding Esme's hand.
Too much waste.
"A waste? Humans die every day!" I blurted out in response to the most prevalent thought that permeated his mind.
No, Edward. She's special. She didn't deserve to die that way.
I hissed at him in disagreement, shaking my head violently. How could he?
Try to see my side. Please? Look at her. How could I have left her on the road like that? Too horrible, too much waste.
Carlisle shifted slightly, finally turning to look at us. His eyes were mournful and somewhat penitent. I couldn't look away as he continued to plead with me.
Don't you remember her? Rosalie Hale. You know her family.
I nodded ever so slightly in acknowledgement. Of course I knew her. Everyone in Rochester knew who she was; the Hale's only daughter, the shining angel of western New York. Her status made Carlisle's choice even more dangerous. How could he do such a thing?
Esme squeezed my hand tightly.
"Carlisle." She didn't need to say anything more. He was instantly away from Rosalie, moving quickly to Esme's side. He reached up to cup her face as he pleaded with her.
"I…I couldn't leave her like this. Broken…" he trailed off again, his full attention on Esme. I watched the silent communication transpire between them, desperately trying to shut out their most private thoughts, but I was too late.
She deserves more.
No woman should have to suffer from an act as horrendous as that.
We can help her – make right of the situation.
A daughter. Someone for Edward.
I flinched at Esme's last thought, completely disgusted as I saw images dance through her mind of Rosalie and I, arm in arm, smiling at one another adoringly. Why would she think such insane thoughts about us together; a girl she didn't know?
Because she didn't know Rosalie. Not the true person that resided inside of her stunning body. However, I did.
I quickly realized that was the root of my immediate resentment. I had met Rosalie only twice before; both times casually and only in passing. Rochester was small enough that we were bound to bump into one another eventually, even if we never mingled in the same social circles.
Our first acquaintance occurred at a hospital fundraiser. I remember having heard her thoughts before I actually laid eyes on her. Every thought had been about herself; how the men viewed her, how she compared to the other girls in attendance. She was continuously sizing herself up to her dismal competition, like it was some sort of game. I mistakenly glanced at her briefly to see what sort of creature could be so self-possessed, and that's when she saw me.
I had to admit, she was astounding. Absolutely flawless. Breathtaking. Physically, that was. But beneath the perfection on the surface, I could actually feel the waves of self-doubt rolling off her as she met my gaze. It was well hidden beneath a very brazen façade of self-assurance and confidence, but I could still detect it, even without my special ability.
We appraised one another for quite some time, eyeing one another up like horse breeders studying brood mares at an auction. At first her thoughts matched her expression.
That must be Mrs. Cullen's brother. My mother was right – he is very attractive. But he also looks…arrogant.
I held my breath as this thought raced through her mind. Did I really look arrogant? If she thought I was arrogant, who else thought I was something that I wasn't?
I stared at her more intently, as though attempting to burrow out this misinterpretation like some sort of deeply-rooted weed in a garden. As she held my gaze, I was rocked again by her thoughts.
He looks almost – lonely. How could someone so handsome be lonely? Did some girl break his heart? Whoever she is, she obviously made a mistake. He's arrogant, but not outwardly unkind. There's something in those amber eyes...but what does it matter, as long as he's watching me?
Her last thought jolted me out of her spell. Of course every intuitive thought would eventually lead back to herself. I blinked back her words, refusing to acknowledge any truth that resonated in them. She was exactly the type of gorgeous human that I detested – utterly vain through and through. Not worth a second thought.
I quickly evaded her incisive look and found my way back to Esme and Carlisle. My first meeting with Rosalie Hale was slightly curious, but not concerning. I couldn't say the same about the second.
Esme had asked me to run to the post office to pick up a package for her. As I walked inside that overcast day, I nearly walked right into Rosalie.
"Excuse me," she said softly as she looked over her shoulder to meet my gaze.
I froze reflexively - obviously we recognized one another. My mind reverted immediately to our last near-confrontation. Yet another part of me was surprised by her tone - it was warm and welcoming. Almost the same tone Esme used when she spoke to me affectionately. I wasn't used to hearing such things from humans.
Edward again. Strange that I haven't seen him until now. Handsome as ever.
I almost stuttered out an inappropriate response, but quickly reigned myself in.
"I apologize, miss." I quickly stepped around her to the counter, averting my eyes. Inwardly, I cringed slightly at the thought that a mortal had forced me to look away. What was wrong with me?
Maybe I was wrong. Arrogant, yes, but rude as well – how could he turn his back on me like that?
Her eyes bore into my back. It took all of my strength not to whip around and face her. But why? Why was this shallow girl so intriguing?
Royce. Royce wouldn't do this to me. He wouldn't look away…would he?
She was thinking of her fiancée. I had heard the talk around town, so I knew of their impending nuptials. I also knew he was just one small step above scum - all of the money in the world would never make him a better human being. My opinion of Rosalie slipped another notch as I realized she must be marrying him for the money. Obviously she was perceptive enough to get a fairly accurate gauge of me. How could she not see the same of her fiancée?
What a waste of natural beauty. If not for his superciliousness, he'd surely make someone happy.
The sting of her words was somewhat diminished by her impressive vocabulary. I found myself pleasantly surprised in a very peculiar way. Maybe Rosalie Hale wasn't quite as predictable as I thought.
I gathered Esme's package and exited the post office as quickly as I dared. For us to maintain our life of discretion in Rochester, I had to refrain from unneccesary contact with the residents and do my best to maintain a low profile. Despite the bizarre events of the afternoon, Rosalie Hale soon drifted out of my mind.
"Someone kill me, please!"
I turned back towards her as she began to cry out. A small part of my frozen heart began to ache as I realized the torment she was beginning to go through.
"Dr. Cullen!" she begged. Her eyes remained closed and her breath was terribly shallow. Carlisle had left the room with Esme to explain his actions in more detail. I was left alone to watch her suffer.
Rosalie suddenly screamed in agony, the venom now fully surging through her veins. Despite all of her prior ill-willed thoughts of me, I couldn't help but flinch as she cried out for relief.
"Someone, please – stop the burning!"
I took a step towards her, though I wasn't sure why. I vividly remembered my own birth into immortality, and I knew there was no reprieve for this poor girl. Poor girl. What was happening to me? Why was I feeling sympathy for such a shallow creature?
Then suddenly her eyes opened, and she was staring at me in complete terror.
"Edward! Help me, please!" She screamed again and reached for me. I was helpless to retreat.
I grasped her hand, letting her squeeze the last of her human life into me. I could only imagine how cold and hard I felt to her. I quickly scanned her mind to see if she had figured out that her fate was something other then a mortal death.
Please, help me! I want to die. There's nothing left here for me.
The memories of her rape began to trickle into my mind, and I groaned inwardly. Despite the bruises and shredded clothes, I hadn't put two and two together until now. How could someone do something to a woman, to her like this? Suddenly I understood Carlisle's actions, Esme's response. They were trying to right the wrongs of Esme's prior life. Was it the right thing to do? I couldn't possibly be the judge of that, but I could begin to empathize with my family's choices. I was beginning to feel remorse for the girl that just days before had seemed so incredibly superficial and vain.
"It'll be okay," I muttered quietly. I couldn't think of anything else to say to her to ease her suffering. She withered in front of me from the burn of the venom, her grasp on my hand growing increasingly stronger and more urgent.
Her body suddenly buckled against the pain as her thoughts thoroughly assaulted me.
I can't take it – kill me! Please, I know you can…do it. DO IT!
I knew exactly the pain she was experiencing, both physically and internally. Did she realize yet what was happening? I could hear enough of her thoughts that I knew, instinctively, she'd never survive as one of us, let alone be happy. This had to stop – even if it meant killing her.
"CARLISLE!" I yelled as loudly as I dared. Despite the impending death playing out before me, I couldn't help but think of shattering her eardrums when I cried for help.
Carlisle rushed into the room and to the bed.
Edward, what's wrong?
I turned towards him, speaking softly enough that Rosalie couldn't hear me. "She wants us to kill her."
That's the venom. You know how it is.
"No Carlisle. She won't be happy after the transformation. It's better if we kill her outright."
You're wrong Edward.
"I can hear it in her mind. She can't handle this." I tried to keep my tone even, but my frustration was mounting at Carlisle's blind thoughts.
"Fine," I spat as I released Rosalie's hand and marched out of the room. "You comfort her. After all, you made her." I knew it was wrong, that we would all regret this decision of his. I gritted my teeth in aggravation from the thought of Carlisle being so unusually selfish. He was doing this for himself, and Esme was foolishly supporting him as she continued to focus on creating the perfect family. But did he not remember my regret and struggle into this unnatural life?
I knew Rosalie was going to hate it, and consequently hate all of us. As if my own personal hell of contrition and torment wasn't enough, I'd now have to bear the weight of hers as well.