This story takes place after Flirting with Danger. Though I call this a sequel, it is really more of a continuation of the storyline. It does not deal with the same subject matter as Flirting. As a matter of fact, you don't need to read Flirting to be able to follow this one. I think I only refer to it once, and it won't interfere with your ability to keep up with what is going on.
Summary: As the time for Bella to join the Cullen family as a vampire draws near, Edward becomes convinced that allowing her to change would be a mistake. Out of options, he resorts to drastic measures to keep Bella human, ultimately forcing Carlisle to intervene, while Alice, as usual, seems to have her own agenda.
Rating: M for non-explicit adult themes, just to be on the safe side. Things might get a little hot, and possibly a little dark Edward (or dark Edward lite, depending on your definition of 'dark'). Goes AU after graduation. Mostly in character, but I suppose that like anything else, it depends on who you ask.
Disclaimer: I neither own, nor did I create, the characters and concepts of the Twilight Saga. They are the sole creation and property of Stephenie Meyer.
I had been sitting in the rocking chair for hours now, completely unmoving. It wasn't a hardship for us. Our muscles didn't tire, and we didn't get cramps; vampires could stay as still as statues, for days if need be, without feeling anything. Sitting or standing, it made no difference. We may as well have been carved out of stone. That is how hard and lifeless we were, and that is what Bella wanted to become; couldn't wait to become. A hard, cold, soulless creature.
She would suffer untold agonies while her body died over a period of days. Her soft, yielding flesh would harden to marble; her creamy skin, tinged with pink and fragrant with the scent of her blood would petrify and lose all hint of color. The warmth would leach slowly out of her, leaving a cold, lifeless body behind. Her heart would stop beating. Permanently. Never again would she blush at the drop of a hat, or her pulse quicken in response to my touch…
I stopped the thought dead in its tracks as a snarl threatened to rip from my throat. It was an outcome I couldn't even contemplate these days, when every second brought us closer to the day when she would ask Alice or Carlisle to make good on their promise and turn her into…this. I looked down at myself in loathing. If Alice didn't do it, Carlisle most definitely would.
And there was nothing I could do about it. My opinion on the matter was ignored by all.
I continued to watch her sleep. She was lying partially on her back, her face angled away from me, and her arm flung up beside her head. I didn't remember moving, but suddenly I was standing next to the bed, fingers hovering above the river of mahogany hair spilled on the pillow. Her body shifted slightly and a soft moan escaped her parted lips, almost as if she felt my proximity, and then she subsided again. I could feel the heat coming off her in waves, sweet, comforting and familiar. Closing my outstretched hand into a fist, I pulled it back without having touched her, focusing on her breathing while tying to ignore the susurration of her blood as it pulsed through her veins in counterpoint to her heartbeat. All these beloved sounds would be lost to me forever if she converted. When she converted. It seemed all but inevitable now. I backed away from her slowly, needing to put some distance between us.
It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to be around her. It had been days now since I had lain beside her as she slept. These days, I moved to the rocking chair as soon as she fell asleep, and didn't lie down next to her again until she began to wake up. It had nothing to do with her scent, though she was hard enough to resist on that score alone. No, it had become a great deal more than that.
Bella had blossomed. Since meeting me, she had walked though fire more than once and come through bolder; more confident and secure in what she wanted. Then there was love. It did beautiful things to a woman, and no woman was loved as much as she was. And she loved more passionately than anyone I had ever met. All of this made her more exquisite than I had believed it possible for one woman to be. Even that wasn't the whole problem though. It made things more difficult for me, but not impossible.
What made it hardest to be around her right now was my anger. I always had a problem with my temper, even as a mortal, and becoming a vampire had only made it that much worse. Bella was the happiest I had ever seen her; it infuriated me that her happiness was due to the fact that she had secured my family's promise that she would soon join them in this un-life of ours. She should not be happy about that, and I tried everything to make her see reason. I threatened, cajoled, and bribed. I painted vampires in the worst possible light, laid bare every dirty secret, shone a light in every dark corner of the vampire psyche, but Bella remained unfazed.
"Edward?" Her frightened voice snapped me out of my thoughts, and before I realized it I had lurched out of the chair, ready to battle whatever unseen danger threatened her.
She turned on the light on her nightstand and sat up, blinking sleepily. "Edward, what's wrong?"
"What do you mean?" I said, hedging.
"You look like you're about to kill someone. And why were you sitting all the way over there?" She yawned and scrubbed at her eyes with the heels of her hands.
I turned away from her. "I...I needed to think."
"About what?" She was suspicious; she knew me too well.
I evaded her question and took a step toward the window. "I should go. You need to get some sleep."
"No!" she cried, a note of panic in her voice. Throwing back the covers, she jumped out of the bed, threw herself in front of me, blocking my escape path, and placed her hot little hands on my chest. "Since when do you need to go so I can get sleep?" She was scared, but I could hear anger beneath the fear, and it was getting stronger with every word. "No. You have that same look on your face you did right before you left me. You're withdrawing from me, don't think I haven't noticed it. I have never been happier, and you…you seem like you are constantly in a bad mood. You're not leaving this room until you tell me what the problem is!"
By the end of her tirade she looked positively furious, the resulting flush intensifying her floral scent. She had crossed her arms over her chest, and had even stamped her foot on the word 'not'. If I weren't so enraged, I would have found it impossibly cute.
"How can I be happy when you are intent on ending your life? And how can you be happy about it?" I snarled through gritted teeth, feeling my grip on my temper loosen.
The anger melted from her face. "Not this again," she sighed wearily, tugging at me to come and sit by her on the bed. I refused to be moved. "Edward, please. Come and sit down. Be reasonable."
My temper flared, and my hand clamped around her jaw in less than a second. "Reasonable?" I growled, glaring at her. "I am the only one who is being reasonable! Aside from Rosalie, my entire family has taken leave of its senses!"
She reached up to grasp my wrist with both hands. "Edward, let go of me," she said firmly but kindly, tugging at my arm and trying to free her face from my iron grip.
I released her, my arm dropping to my side, fist clenched so hard it should have shattered. My palm still burned with the heat of her. Then it was her turn to put her hand to my face, gently forcing me to look at her. I let her turn my face to hers, distracted by the searing heat of her hand on my cheek and jaw, and the love glowing softly in her dark eyes.
"Edward…you know it's the only way," she said soothingly, like she was speaking to a fractious child. "You know that if it were possible, I would much rather you become human. But that isn't going to happen. I don't want to grow old while you stay young, so the only way is for me to join you. There is no other way. I love you, Edward Cullen, and I want to spend the rest of forever with you. Why can't you just accept that?"
I said nothing, keeping her pinned with an angry stare.
A stubborn look crept into her face, and she dropped her hand from my cheek. I nearly cried out at the loss. "I have made up my mind about this," she huffed, "and Carlisle has promised to do it, if you won't. It is going to happen whether you like it or not."
I lost it. I remembered to be as gentle as possible nanoseconds before I locked my hands around her upper arms, fingers digging into her. I was quaking with suppressed rage. "I absolutely forbid it, do you understand me?" I rasped, glaring daggers at her.
Anger suffused her face again, and she writhed in my grip, futilely trying to free herself. "You have no right to dictate to me!" she snapped. "This is the last time I'll say this: It's a done deal. Bullying me will not change anything!"
No. No, it wouldn't. When would I learn that? My fingers loosened, but I didn't let her go. "Bella…I need more time," I pleaded softly, cajolingly, trying not to beg, though I would, if necessary. "Please, Bella. Give me a few more years. I'll do anything, please just wait a few more years."
"No, Edward!" she cried, squirming, still trying to break the vice-like hold I had on her. "I have said all there is to say. This discussion is over!"
There was a wildness in her eyes that filled me with foreboding. I was afraid that if I pushed the issue, she would do something rash, try to force my hand in some way. The thought drew me up short, and I decided to switch tactics. I need to be careful how I handled her. If I couldn't browbeat her into giving in to me, maybe I could seduce her into submission. I released her arms, and caught her face with my hands very, very gently, unleashing a hundred years worth of accumulated skill in charming people on her.
"Bella…" I murmured, my voice low, soft, and persuasive, velvet, silk and satin all rolled into one. I let every ounce of my love, need, and possessiveness show in my eyes, igniting them.
Her pupils dilated and she gasped. Her heart skipped a beat.
"Bella," I breathed hypnotically. I let my hand wander along her jaw, threading my splayed fingers into her hair to cup the back of her head. My other hand drifted down her throat, over her breast - sending a jolt through her body and drawing a sharp cry from between her lips - and around to the small of her back. I pulled her against me, molding her scalding body to mine. Moving in slowly, my eyes going from her mouth to her eyes and back again, I let the tension build in her. Her heartbeat accelerated, and her eyelids fluttered closed. I brushed my lips lightly, sensuously against hers, inviting her to part them for me. Her tongue traced a trail of wet fire along my lower lip, and next thing I knew, she was devouring me, setting the inside of my mouth ablaze. I kissed her until she moaned, and sagged in my arms. Assuming that her legs had just failed her, I broke the kiss, looking down at her with very masculine pride.
"Oh, Edward!" she gasped, breathing heavily, her eyes twinkling up at me.
I let her catch her breath for a moment, the sweetness of her exhalations washing over me, and with a soft growl, caught her mouth with mine again. This time, I didn't linger there long.
Somewhere along the line I had lost track of my goal of seducing her into acceding to my request for a postponement, and had gotten lost in her instead. Before long, my mouth drifted away of its own accord, skimming along the line of her jaw and then down the slope of her neck. I tightened my fingers in her hair, and carefully angled her head away from me, exposing the creamy column of her throat. My lips lingered over the pulse there, feeling the blood thrumming in the vein, with every thump of her heart. Such nectar, flowing beneath such a fragile barrier. I breathed her intoxicating, maddening scent in through my mouth and nose, already tasting her. My mouth watered suddenly, and I scraped my teeth along her throat, preparing to bite.
She whimpered, and it saved her life.
I threw myself back against the wall so hard that it shook. The sound was like a thunder clap, and it woke Charlie with a start. Snapping back into myself, I held my finger to my lips. Understanding immediately, Bella quickly scrambled under the covers, just in case. I heard Charlie sit up, unsure as to what had woken him, and listen for the sound again. Hearing nothing else, he dropped back onto the pillows with an indistinct mumble.
I nodded at Bella, letting her know we were in the clear.
Both apparently unsure of what to say or do next, we stared at each other for a moment. Her level gaze angered me. She looked so calm and composed, when she should be screaming for help. Any normal person would, but Bella had no sense of self-preservation.
"I nearly killed you," I hissed accusingly, as if it were her fault.
"I know," she said quietly.
"You know." I took a step toward her, my hands clenching into fists. "You know?" I repeated dangerously. "Why didn't you scream?"
She looked at me like I was a half-wit. "And bring Charlie crashing through the door? Are you crazy? What would I tell him?"
I started shaking. "Tell him you had a nightmare! Better that, than just letting me kill you!" I was having trouble keeping my voice down, and Charlie stirred again.
"Edward," she said quietly, patting the mattress beside her, inviting me to sit down. I glared at her, unmoving. She looked at me sadly, and continued. "What just happened here is a perfect example of why we have no choice. I have to be changed. How long can you live on the knife edge of control? You are suffering! Because of me! I can't stand to see you struggle like that!" Her voice broke, and she paused, visibly battling with her emotions. "And how long before you make a mistake? I'm not willing to have a chaste relationship with you; I want more, a lot more. As a mortal, I'll get hurt, possibly killed, eventually. You can't maintain such rigid control forever. I have to become like you."
The casual way in which she discussed her death angered me all over again. A ruthlessly suppressed part of me saw the logic of her words, but the rest of me refused to see reason. Not that it mattered. She would not change her mind, or even compromise, and Carlisle would keep his promise to her, no matter what I said or did. Together, they had me between a rock and a hard place.
But a cornered vampire is a dangerous vampire, and this dangerous vampire had just had the first glimmerings of an idea.
To be continued…