Chapter Summary: You know what's hard? Being with Rosalie. Fighting with her, all the time.

You know what's worse? Being without Rosalie.

That's really hard. I just didn't know hard it was... until now.

And now I know, don't I. So, what am I going to do about this?

'Here's how this is going to work,' Rosalie had said by the door before she disappeared.

And she told me how it was going to work, bit-by-excruciating-detail-bit.

I wasn't listening to her.

She hates this, I know, but really! I tsked at her and stamped my foot. I mean, honestly! I knew how to shave myself, for goodness sake!

"Just don't do anything stupid, please, Bella, for my sake?" Rosalie said.

That brought me up short. " fall in love with you?" I said in a small voice.

Rosalie didn't like that.

She looked away, her hand on the door. "Just ..." she said, "Just ... don't do anything stupid."

"But I am stupid," I said.

Rosalie grimaced.

"Don't say that," she said.

"No," I said, "you hear me." I said. "I am stupid. I'm stupid and I'm stubborn and I ..."

I stopped and swallowed. "And I love you."

It was obvious in Rosalie's whole posture that she wanted to be anywhere but here.

But then her back tightened with resolve. "Then don't do this."

"What?" I said.

"Don't do this," she said. She let go of the door and faced me. "If you love me, abandon this silly scheme of yours."

"No," I said. "It doesn't work that way."

Rosalie waved away my refusal dismissively, then, she became quiet for a moment, measuring me. "I'll make it worth your while."

I looked at her in confusion. "Huh?"

Rosalie stood for a moment, then she didn't waste words: she walked right to me.

Is there anything more terrifying than Rosalie Hale walking right up to you, full of purpose? I tried not to flinch away as she strode directly at me, cradled me in her arms and, pushed me against the back wall.


Then she kissed me.


And she didn't let me go.

It took me a moment to realize what had just happened, and where I fit in all this. Have you ever been kissed so hard you don't know what the hell is happening to you, and you don't know if you like it or hate it, want to kiss back or want to fight it? I struggled for space, but there was no space, neither behind me nor in front of me. I struggled to move, but I couldn't.

So I did the only thing I could do.

I kissed her back.

The kiss went on for a while. I knew mentally what she was doing. She was using me; she was using my body, and letting it think for my head.

I knew this.

But now, I didn't care. She was kissing me. I was kissing her back. Please let me be a little bit selfish and enjoy this. Let me not think how easily I play into her hands.

Let her kiss me, and let me kiss her back.


"God damn, Bella Swan," Rosalie purred, staring into my eyes. "You are such a good kisser."

I was floating – literally – my toes barely touched the floor as Rosalie cradled me in her tight embrace.

"Y'ain't so bad, yesself," I drawled contentedly.

There is nothing in the world like kissing Rosalie Hale. Her lips were two cold marble stones, unyielding, but, still, somehow soft, and oh-so-smooth. And holding her strong back, her soft, soft hair, just melted my insides, and I'd be jelly on the floor if she weren't holding me up.

And the taste of her ... God!

Rosalie smirked, pleased, and annoyed at my accents.

She was Rosalie Hale, after all.

"Don't do this," she said, almost asking, almost ... pleading.

"And do what, instead?" I asked back.

Rosalie regarded me levelly. She bit her lip, and she freed a hand to brush away an errant strand of my hair that had fallen over my face.

Hair can get a bit disheveled during a passionate kiss, come to find.

"Well," she said. "We could ..."

She stopped and she looked away.

"I could," Rosalie corrected herself and continued. "... carry you to the bed, rip off your dress, and fuck your sweet little brains out. What do you think of that?" she said her tone light, but serious.

And her eyes smoldered with a black fire, filled with passion.

"That sounds ..." I said, gasping in shock at her sudden forwardness, "... wonderful."

"Great!" she said, and hoisted me toward the bed.

"... after I shave." I finished.

We stopped, dead-center of the cabin.

Rosalie frowned. "Why?" she said, not letting me go.

Was it me, or did her grip on me tighten, just a little bit?

"Rosalie," I said, looking away in embarrassment, "I feel ... dirty! And..." Now it was my turn to bite my lip. "And ... I wouldn't ... it wouldn't feel ... right, you and me in the bed, with me all ..." I tried to wave at myself. I couldn't move my arms, pinned as they were to my sides by Rosalie's grip on me. "... all like this."

Rosalie regarded me, her lips twisting in displeasure. "That didn't seem to stop you from wanting exactly that last night," she said, disapproving of how the conversation turned away from what she wanted.

"Because I wasn't thinking about that last night," I said.

"And now you are?" Rosalie said; her frown darkening to a full-on scowl.

"And now I am," I said softly.

Rosalie looked away from me, grimacing, then she set me now.

She looked back at me, "You are the most stubborn ..." and shook her head.

"But worth it?" I asked in a small voice.

Rosalie glanced at me at that, then looked away again. "You know," she said, "men would die to have me. Men did."

"Fancy yourself much?" I chided lightly.

Rosalie looked back at me. "Just stating the facts," she said coolly, "and stating the risks." She added this warning sourly.

"I know the facts," I said, "and the risks."

"And still you're going to proceed with this harebrained scheme?" Rosalie said.

"Don't," I said, "don't say that to me anymore." I looked away. "Please." I whispered.

Rosalie was quiet. We were both quiet.

"Bella Swan," she sighed. Then she took my chin in her hand, lowered her head to meet mine, and gave me the sweetest, gentlest kiss that there ever was.

I liked this kiss. I kissed her back, melting in her sweetness.

She broke the kiss all-too-soon, and regarded me steadily. I had no idea what was going through her head.

Finally, she said. "God damn," grudgingly.

She embraced me, quickly.

And then she left.


'Here's how this is going to work,' I thought to myself, standing in the tub, a most-wicked straightedge razor in my hand, and a promise on my lips that nothing would go wrong.

I won't cut myself, I promised.

I won't cut myself, I promised.

I won't cut myself, I promised one more time.

I had shaved myself, I don't know, hundreds of times? Okay, maybe not that much, but I knew what I was doing, and all of Rosalie's admonishments and instructions to me only annoyed me. I told her I knew what I was doing, and I meant it.

Why couldn't she get that? Oh, does every intelligent thought only come from her?

I tried not to make myself more angry, thinking about this.

It wasn't working.

Wash yourself again, Bella, she had said. The razor won't snag and cut into you if your skin is smooth from the soap and the water.

And I was like: Please! I know what I'm doing!

I do know what I'm doing. I'm an expert at this!

I put the razor to my skin – carefully! – and I started to shave.


It went ... pretty well. The razor and I have a ... special relationship. I treat her with respect, and she treats me the same. We just have to have this talk, this mutual understanding at the get-go, and then the constant conversation as I shave. I remind her that I respect her, and she reminds me to pay attention. With that we both get along fine, don't we?

Today's shave was special, because it had been, oh, ... a month? – since my last shave? God, this was embarrassing! I really was a gorilla, but life had been busy, and I had let things slide, so now I was paying for it.

Extra careful, Bella! Extra careful!

Rosalie warned me that the slightest cut and ...


I stopped, and held my breath.

A nick?

I looked down.

Do you know how, when you cut yourself, just a little, tiny cut, you look down at your legs, and it's like a lava flow from a God-damn erupting volcano? It's like, you try to tell yourself, oh, that isn't so bad, I barely felt anything, but when you look down, you see the end of the world.

I put the razor, carefully, on the tablet holding the washing basin and assessed the damage.

I sighed.

Rosalie was going to kill me.

I took the pitcher and poured water down and in between my legs. Smooth, clean, and now, a little red rivulet of blood flowing nicely down my inner thigh and turning the water in the tub a light rose.

How appropriate! I thought coolly, looking at the mess, trying to play it cool to myself, trying to stem the panic threatening to well up inside me and choke my throat closed.

Pouring water over the cut didn't seem to help, so I stopped that.

Cloth to stem the red tide?


I stepped out of the tub and pressed a hanky to the invisible cut. A spot darkened on it, ruining it forever. Rosalie would just love this for a gift, wouldn't she?

WHO'S BRILLIANT IDEA WAS THIS! I screamed at myself in my head.

I looked over to the triptych, my own reproachful eyes looked back at me.

Great. I thought. Just great. I can't even f-... I can't even shave myself now without it being a complete disaster!

Well, nothing for it. I held the hanky over the cut until the flow slowed then stopped. Checking three times, impatiently, didn't help, but eventually the blood stopped, and I had a nice, little red cut on my inner thigh.

I sighed, dropped the hanky on the floor, stepped carefully back into the tub and gave the water another chance to clean away the evidence.

I examined myself after another rinse.


Yeah. Kinda. Mostly. For me, that is.

God! I was going to catch hell from Rosalie, and for such a stupid little cut, too. I mean, accidents happen, right?


I picked up the razor and finished what was left of my legs.

I mean, the hair on my legs. No more cuts.

Now, the arms.


I was lucky. My arms got off easy today.

Question: why is it the legs get more cuts than the arms? Like: always? I mean, the legs are less complicated things than arms are, right? If you think about it? But the legs are always the ones to get at least a cut, and the arms always get off scot-free, and why?

I mean, sometimes the armpits get a nick or two. Not today, thank God! But the legs always seem to get at least a cut. Why is that?

Sorry for my tirade. I'm just a little bit peeved right now, in case you hadn't noticed.

I put the razor down and started to work up the resolve to go out and give Rosalie my 'mostly okay' report.

You know what 'mostly okay' means to Rosalie, right?

As I put down the razor, I looked at the thick bush between my legs.


What to do?

See, we have a problem here. Rosalie has this little blond tuft of hair, almost translucent, down there, where the Sun shouldn't be shining, but me? 'Undergrowth'? That doesn't even begin to describe it. It's more like 'jungle' or 'forest thicket' down there.

Would Rosalie ... want me to be ... a little less bushy down there? I mean, she didn't say she did, but she didn't say she didn't, and hers was so ...

Hers was so pretty!

And mine was so ...


But the problem is this: if I cut myself there? What if I got nervous and I cut myself badly there, and I needed help? Who would I run to? Rosalie? Or ... how do you 'trim' yourself with a straightedge? What if I cut off too much, and I had a bald spot? Would I even it off with two bald spots? Like that wouldn't look ridiculous! Or, what if I cut off too much, trimming myself down there, and Rosalie liked my furry pelt? Or what if she didn't, and I didn't cut enough, and she wouldn't say anything, but ...

But maybe that's why she wouldn't touch me ... down there ... last night?

But what if I cut myself?


I shook my head, got out of the tub, sheathed the razor, and patted myself dry.

I breathed out a relieved, contented sigh.


I just felt so dirty, and now I felt so clean and so smooth. I felt better. I felt human again, for the first time in a long, long time. I reached out to the table by the tub, and put the choker back on.

Now to get dressed.

I mean: more dressed.


Trudge, trudge, trudge through the snow.

Then I stopped.

Utter and complete silence greeted me.

Rosalie was here, because nothing else was. Everything was scared to death of Rosalie Hale, even the forest, itself.

"Rosalie?" I called out tentatively.

Silence greeted me in response.


About twenty paces, right in front of me, Rosalie stepped out from the forest.

She didn't say one word. She just waited impassively.

I smiled, trying to be hopeful.

"It went pretty well," I reported. "Pretty good, actually. ... 'Well,' I mean." I corrected myself nervously.

So much for being cool about it.

Rosalie still waited, her golden eyes a mask, hinting at no emotion from her at all. Her chest didn't move at all. Nothing of her did.

"Yeah," I said. "No worries. There was just one little scratch on my inner thigh right here, ..."

I separated my legs and bent over, pointing to the spot I had nicked.

"But other than ..." I began

"But other than ..." I said, looking up

"But other than ..."

I said.

I was talking to the air.

Rosalie was gone.

Not the hill ahead of me, but the next hill beyond that, I saw a glint, a lightning flash of the Sun catching Rosalie as she ran, full speed, away from me.

"I don't ... believe it," I breathed, stunned.

But it was true.

Rosalie was gone.

"You ..." I gasped. "You ... you chicken!" I shouted after her. "What? Just one little scratch and you run?"

But there was no point. I don't even know if she heard me. I couldn't see her anymore, she had taken off so fast.

"Well," I huffed, "I never!"

I turned back toward the cabin, and started trudging back toward it.

"You'll be sorry!" I muttered, then, furious, I turned back around and shouted at the top of my lungs: "And some people say I'm a PRETTY GOOD KISSER, HUH? So, guess what you're MISSING OUT ON, ROSALIE HALE, HUH? You HAPPY? HUH?"

Nothing. Just the cold, cold still air, and the snow.

I got the feeling they were laughing at me.

That improved my mood. A lot.

I turned and muttered all the way back to the cabin.


I can do anything I want.

Do you know what hell is for me now?

It's this: I can do whatever I want.

And nobody cares.

Rosalie's gone.

And the thing I wanted so badly before: some space, some time to think – a chance to breathe, for God's sakes! – I had that now in spades.

And I hated it.

The hours crept by like the minutes: slower than a snail's pace, and I promised myself I wouldn't stare at the door, willing Rosalie to come back.

So, you know: I could give her a talking to, running off like that, like the little chicken she was, just because I had a little, tiny scratch on my leg.

So, I took it out on her. I plopped down on the bed, emptied out the book bag and read whatever I wanted.

That was great! I loved that! Finally! Getting to read again without anybody bugging me about what was I gonna do with my life, Bella Swan? And seriously? Why can't a girl just read in peace without everybody judging her a failure in life, but there it was: I didn't have a boyfriend, planning on getting married and having kids, so that made me the world's biggest loser in Carter County, like people from the middle of nowhere had any right to judge me.

God! What was I reading again?

Oh, yeah, I was trying to remember where I read that Shakespeare-line that I had quoted back to Rosalie, but reading Shakespeare...?

It made me realize I had never read Shakespeare before. I mean, all the thees and thous and 'exeunts'?

What the hell is an exeunt? And okay, I figured it out pretty fast, but most of it made no sense to me whatsoever, and none of it triggered any memories of me reading it before, so ...

So how did I know that love isn't a 'feeling or a fancy; oh, no, it is an ever-fixéd mark'?

How did I know that?

I glared at the Shakespeare anthology and tossed it onto the book-pile on the floor, and fumed.

Then I sighed.

I could just see it: Rosalie, waltzing in right now and seeing the mess I made.

I huffed, arose, and started tidying up around the cabin.

My stomach growled.

Must be time for lunch.


Lunch was ...

God! Kill me now! Lunch was pathetic, okay? And why was it pathetic? I didn't taste one damned bite of food! I just ate, listlessly, glancing toward the door.

But Rosalie never waltzed through it.

When was she coming back?


That last thought caused all the food in my stomach to turn to stone, and suddenly I wanted to heave. I wasn't done with lunch that I had made for myself, thank you: there was still food on my plate, but I was done with lunch, if you know what I mean. I couldn't eat another bite.

I cleaned my plate into the trash and washed it, leaving it to dry on the rack.

Was this what love was like? You can't even think when ...

I can't even think when Rosalie's gone.

Why is that?

I mean, I'm furious with her when she was around (and, as she says: with good reason. I mean: really good reason! Lots of them, in fact), but despondent when she's gone?

And people sign up for this? Voluntarily? People actually want this?

I mean Shakespeare wrote sonnets about ... this?


I hate my life.

I stood in front of the now neatly-arrayed books. I would've killed Rosalie to get at these treasures yesterday, but now ...

I wrapped myself in my arms, suddenly realizing I was cold.

The fire's gone out.

Rosalie was right: the fire's gone out.

Why was she the only one who lit my fire?

I threw on a shawl and put on mittens and trudged out to the wood-pile, loading myself down with logs.

Leastways when she came back, the fire'd be going.

Whenever she got back.


The rest of the day was just like that. Supper: nothing.

I crawled into bed, having stoked the fire, then I glanced at the door.


I closed my eyes and meditated on my day.

So this was life without Rosalie Hale now. Nobody bugging me, and I can do whatever I want.

Just like I always wanted.

But now it was all different.

And I found out ... getting exactly what you've always thought you wanted?

Welcome to hell, Bella Swan, I thought to myself, and I slept.


Something, the thought swam to me from the fog of sleep. Something, I thought again.

Then I felt it. A presence, then: Rosalie.

I felt her lift the blanket and slip into the bed, gliding over me, then spooning into me.

"Rosalie!" I sighed, and I breathed in the sweetest scent of honeysuckle, perfumed with a wisp of rose.

I now knew that scent better than any other in the world, and it was comforting and intoxicating.

I opened my eyes, and looked into the darkness of the cabin. I had no idea what time it was. I started to turn in the bed, to face her, but then her hand held onto my shoulder, firm, and then she took my wrist and pinned it gently but immovably to the bed.

It was a silent command: stay.

I stayed.

And we stayed like this for a moment in time, and I breathed her in, and felt the coolness of her surrounding me.


Her left hand snaked under me, and her right hand let go of my wrist, and she began to unbutton my nighty.

I blinked twice, shocked. "Rosalie, what are you ... doing?"

Rosalie's hand came up and pressed itself over my mouth.

We stayed like this for a moment. I didn't struggle. I waited.

Then, she released my mouth and pressed the back of her hand against my cheek.

"Sss!" she hissed a quiet command.

I blinked.

She took my hand into hers, and she brought it up to the buttons of my nighty, and left it there.

I bit my lip.

I felt my blush start to burn my pillow.

"Oh," I said.

But I didn't do anything.

"Won't you ..." I said, gulping, "won't you say just even ... 'hello' or something first before I ... uh, before we ... you know?"

Rosalie's chest wasn't moving against my back.

She brought her finger to my lips, and pressed it in the universal shushing sign.

I didn't understand.

I mean, I knew she wanted me to be quiet, I guess. I guess she wasn't speaking because she wasn't daring to breathe, but then why would she want to have her way with me under these circumstances?

Was she the kinda chick that liked the thrill of danger while she ... you know?

I didn't see that in her.

So I didn't understand.

"I don't understand, Rosalie," I said humbly.

And I asked myself: would I do it with Rosalie now, confused, silent, and hurt by her silence?

I guess ... yes.

I just thought, you know, that it would be different, is all. I just didn't know how it would be different ... I guess I thought it would be ... special ... somehow.

But ...

I was so confused.

Rosalie's hand cupped mine into me, and she hugged me, hard and long, and I took strength from that. Maybe she was saying to me that she understood my confusion, maybe she was trying to give me strength.

If she were, then I took it. And I still didn't know what was going on, but I tried to trust her.

Isn't that what love is? That you trust somebody, even if you don't understand?

I don't know. I felt slightly used that I had to trust her, and she could do whatever she wanted, and now I had to be okay with it and not fight her.

Was this a test? Was she testing my love for her?

I really felt used now. Why couldn't she trust me back and respect me, too? Why did my trust have to be one-way?

Rosalie pulled my hand away from me and put it back onto the bed.

Then she resumed unbuttoning my top.

I bit my lip hard, and tried not to feel ... anything: betrayed, used. I tried to let her do what she was doing, and I hoped what she was doing ...

She wasn't going to hurt me, was she?

I blinked twice, and I felt myself tearing up.

So, instead, I remembered my whole day without Rosalie, wanting her to be back.

And she was back now, and she was doing what I wanted her to do to me last night, wasn't she?

Why was I sad? Why was I such a ... girl! Wanting something so badly one moment, then fighting exactly that same thing in the next?

I swallowed as she finished unbuttoning me, then, businesslike, pulled my nighty over my shoulder then taking it off, tossed it onto the floor.

"I missed you," I said into the silence.

Rosalie's right hand – her fingertips, actually – started to trace my upper body, starting from my forehead, and trace down to my neck, lingering on my choker for a second, then proceeding down to my shoulders, ... then chest.

A feather's touch were her fingertips, the coolest breeze on my exposed flesh.

And everywhere she touched, my skin tightened up, like it burned, on fire.

"All day," I continued, "I ... did whatever I wanted, and ..."

I swallowed.

"And all I wanted was you," I said. "And you weren't there."

Her tracing fingertips went to my sides, and I tensed way up.

I'm ... kinda ticklish.

And her fingertips knew that.

Damn them.

But she didn't take advantage of me.

Not in that way, anyway.

Her examination of me, my body, continued onto my hips.

"What does it mean, Rosalie?" I asked. "I ached for you," I accused, "and ..."

And you weren't there, my thought completed what I didn't say.

Rosalie's hand reversed itself as it traced its way down my leg, and I felt her fingernails slide down my leg like a ... like a five-fingered comb, the lightest of touch sliding along my now smooth, smooth leg.

And I was on fire. I burned with touching me, and burned with the desire, wanting her to touch me more, harder, there, everywhere.

Her gentleness was turning me into a beast, and I wanted to turn on her and grab her and have my way with her, but her left arm kept me pinioned against her.

I could squirm, but that's all I could do.

My legs shifted against each other, restlessly, under Rosalie's intense examination.

Rosalie's hand reversed direction on my leg, and now I felt her soft, soft fingertips trace back up my leg, and it was painful, her soft touch, it was like the stinging of bees, or five distinct lines of fire, burning their way up along the side of my leg.

And – God! – how I wanted it! I wanted the burn, and I wanted to burn up in her embrace.

Rosalie was ... Rosalie was the potter and I was a clump of clay in her hands, and she could mold me into anything she wanted me to be.

And I so wanted her to do just that.

I was biting my lip so hard I was scared I might draw blood.

That might be bad. I forced myself to swallow.

Rosalie's hand flattened itself against my thigh, and she pushed against my leg, scissoring them open...

For her.

I let this happen.

I was scared out of my mind, and I wanted this, too.

Her fingernails traced over my bush, then traced them down my inner thigh of my left leg, and it was just her, me, and the bed, and the rest of the world was nothing to us in this moment.

Her fingers traced their way back up my leg, and up, and up, and ... up.

And they rested, delicately, floating over my mound, I felt the softest breath of them, hovering over my bush, a touch of her fingertips, electrifying the hair there, the only thing between me and her now.

And suddenly I was extremely embarrassed with myself. Did I make the wrong decision, I wondered.

I gulped. "I ... I didn't shave ... there," I whispered guiltily. "I ... didn't know ..."

I bit my lip and said in a rush: "I didn't know what you wanted me to do there."

Rosalie said nothing. Her fingers hovered over me, one second, two seconds, ... the pain of her there, so close, was agonizing.

I wanted her so badly to have me, however she wanted to.

Yet I was so scared of what she was going to do.

Her fingers 'V'-ed then traced up my outer lips, then ... then ...

A finger traced itself down, just ... just inside, but not, but ...

I held my breath the whole time.

Then her questing fingers left me, continuing down the inner thigh of my right leg.

And then they stopped.


Right on the nick, that wasn't even hardly there anymore. It had been all day. I had healed. I was fine now.

Her fingers, resting around the cut-not-cut, didn't agree. They traced a very careful circle around it, then one finger traced the nick itself.

I swallowed, waiting to see what she would do.

She found what she was looking for. Sadly, it wasn't me, it was my stupid, little cut.

She opened her hand and rested her palm on my inner thigh, right over the top of my cut, and we stayed, just like that for a minute, me, burning for her so badly, and her, still, silent, ... a stone.

Until the burn in me died down to embers, and then to nothing, and all that was left in me was a sad echo of me wanting her.

That's when Rosalie wrapped me up in the blanket, and I was as snug as a bug in a rug, and she pulled the bundled up me into her, and she held me, just like that.

And that was that.

I bit my lip, and swallowed hard, and tried so hard not to cry. From the terror of what might've just now happened to the let-down of this nothing's happening and isn't that just great?

I tried so hard not to cry.

Two tears stained the sheets.

"Don't ... cry," a ghost of a whisper from Rosalie.

Didn't that just help!

I sobbed silently, and suddenly I was crying, held into Rosalie, and pressing into her, too.

"I...I'm sorry!" I wailed as I sobbed. "It's just that ..." I gasped. "It's just that ..."

I couldn't say anything for a while, so I just cried myself out.

And Rosalie let me.


I sniffled and tried to wipe my nose, but I couldn't until Rosalie loosened her death-grip on me, just a little, so I could press my blanky to my face.

Great, Bella Swan: 'blanky'? That's just so grown-up.

And now I had wet blanky, which Rosalie immediately folded away from my face.

She's so thoughtful that way.

I blew out a long, ragged sigh.

"You know," I said, "I shaved for this, and ..."

I swallowed. I couldn't continue.

"I know," Rosalie whispered, a sound so soft the soundless air outside was louder.

A log in the stove popped and hissed.

"I stoked the fire," I said hopefully, brightening, just a little bit.

At least there was something I could do right.

Rosalie said nothing, but she squeezed me, hard.

Utterly exhausted, I slept.


I woke to agony.

The Sun hurt my eyes, my throat was parched, and apparently I sweat a lot last night, because the blanket against me was soaked from head to toe. It was disgustingly cold and clammy against me.

I struggled out of that damned thing and sat up in bed, putting my heavy, throbbing head into my hands, and just tried to see through the red-glaze of my eyes.

That didn't work out so well, so I shut my eyes hard, which only hurt my head more.

I wiped my eyes and lifted my head, carefully peering out through interlaced fingers.

What I saw ...

If I felt like hell, Rosalie looked worse.

I mean, Greek god come down to Earth in her marble perfection, but I could see the difference down between when she was in top form, and ... now.

There were dark circles under her eyes, and her posture had a forced erectness to it, and her perfect hair was disheveled.

It looked like she had been through the wringer last night.

"Ugh!" I groaned, which translated into something like 'hello'? I don't know. So I tried again. "Tough night for you, too?"

Rosalie just stared at me, across the cabin, looking slightly put out.

"Sorry," I mumbled, and started to rise.

Rosalie's hand flashed out, staying me.

I blinked, and looked at her puzzled. "Okay?"

Her staying hand turned into an imperious finger, pointing at me, down on the bed.

That Rosalie Hale, so subtle, isn't she?

I sighed. "Okay, I got it. I'll stay right here, okay?"

Rosalie glared at me. I mean it! her glare said.

My throbbing head wasn't helping my patience any. I glared right back.

Rosalie just stayed there, glaring at me with her beautiful, hard, harsh golden eyes.

Then ... she took a breath.

Her eyes flashed black, and she crumpled onto the floor.

"Oh, God!" she spat.

"Rosalie!" I cried, shocked, rising from the bed, forgetting everything, my own discomfort, everything!

"Ahhhh!" she shrieked, then she shouted at me angrily: "Stay there!"

I froze. "Okay," I said sadly.

Rosalie was in a little ball on the floor, utterly helpless, in obvious agony, and I hated that, and I hated myself that I was helpless to help her in any way, and, worse, that I was the one who was causing this agony.

"F-fuck!" she shouted, and then hacked, dry-heaving onto the floor.

It was ... okay, it was pitiable watching her be sick like that. It was so not her. And me? watching her? not helping her? That was so not me.

Why did this have to be like this? Why couldn't it be different than this?

Rosalie actually spat onto the floor, not just once, but three times, and it was like a river of drool was coming out of her mouth. The terrible thing was, it looked awful, but instead of smelling bad, it was just the opposite: it was like her whole body was producing this wonderful scent that was just oozing out of her, and calling me to her.

And it was damn near working, too.

But then she stilled herself and stayed that way on the floor for a long, long time.

"Rosalie?" I whispered.

She rose and faced me, her eyes pure black. I don't know if she could even see me or not, as she was looking at me but not seeing me, looking right through me.

"Bathe!" she snarled, and turned, walking straight for the door.

"Rosalie," I called as she reached for the door handle.

Her hand stayed there.

"Please say you'll come back. Please," I said. "Please don't just ... please don't let today be like yesterday." I swallowed. "Please."

Rosalie opened the door and left without one word, closing the door firmly behind her.


I looked at the door for a long time.

"Great," I said to the empty cabin. "Just ..."

I shook my head and got up from the bed.

I had to bathe, after all.

Didn't I.

This is what I wanted, huh? This was love that I chose. That Rosalie actually has to leave the damned place because she can't handle being around me, and I signed up for this?

I could just see it: this was gonna be the rest of my damned life, and the funny thing about it all? I chose this.

Fantastic. Some fairy tale ending this was: 'And they lived happily ever after.'

This was my happily ever after.

I shook my head, and thought bitterly: day one of the rest of my life. I grabbed a towel, removed the choker, carefully setting aside on the end table by the bed, and prepared my bath.

The end.


It was ... afternoon? Yes. It was afternoon. I had had lunch and stoked the fire, and tried not to miss Rosalie too much, and had settled down in bed to read, grabbing the Shakespeare part out of duty, part out of curiosity.

That damned curiosity that got me here in the first place!

But I did need to know how I knew that damned quote.

I was saying 'damned' a lot recently, I noticed. I have to amend that in my thinking. Don't need to be cursing like a sailor in my head and accidentally let that slip out when Rosalie was around.

I also brought my Jane Austen, because ... you know, she was a pretty good writer. Sense and Sensibility didn't hold itself together as well as I remembered it, but Pride and Prejudice... Now there was some amazing writing! You lost yourself in it. And I actually did. I fell asleep, reading that, or at least ways I think that's what happened.

And I woke, mid-afternoon, the Sun still shining brightly outside.

And Rosalie was there. With me. In bed.

I gasped.

She was on top of the covers, and I was snuggled in them, but still.

"Rosalie!" I breathed out, and my voice sounded weird.

It sounded happy.

Rosalie was silent, holding me into her.

"Are you ... better?" I asked.

"No," she said curtly.

I snorted at that.

Her 'no' meant that yes, she was in fact better, and I read into it that she was miffed that she was.

She so loves her drama.

"Rosalie," I tried changing the topic, "If you could have anything in the world right now, what would you have?"

"What I have is before me now," Rosalie said coolly. "I deal in reality, Bella, not whimsy."

Oh, my God! I thought to myself, that just worked so well! "Just ... humor me, Rosalie," I pushed past my gritted teeth.

"I wish ..." she said, "What I want, what I really want, is to see my children with their children, and they're ... happy, and I'm so proud of them."

Rosalie paused, thoughtful. "That's what I want. That moment, that I will never have. That."

We were quiet.

"You?" she asked into the silence.

"This," I said.

Rosalie chuckled. "Humor me?" she said.

"I am," I said. "I mean it: I want exactly this, waking up, finding you here with me. I couldn't be happier than I am right now. Okay, maybe if you were happy, too, so I'll work on that next, I guess."

Rosalie sighed.

"Read to me, huh?" I commanded, pointing to the books splayed in front of me.

"So I'm your mother now?" she demanded.

I bit my lip. "I wish."

"Do you now?" she asked, a bit of surprise creeping into her voice.

I looked away.

Rosalie took my non-answer as an answer and selected my beloved Jane Austen.

"Rosalie," I said.

"Yes?" she responded distractedly, flipping through the anthology.

"I love you," I said.

"Mm-hm." She was a million miles away.

"You know that, don't you?" I asked.

Now Rosalie didn't answer me for a while. "I know that ..." she answered haltingly, "you think that you know that you do, yes."

"Well," I said, miffed at her answer, but pleased, at least, that she heard me out.

"But that's not what you were planning to say to me, was it?" she said.

I wasn't happy with her seeing through me, either.

"Well, I do love you, but ..." I said.

"'But'?" she asked, settling on a page.

I glowered. "But, ... you said I know Shakespeare, but I don't know how I know that line."

"'Is love a fancy or a feeling'?" she quoted for me.

"Yes," I said, "that, and I looked everywhere in the Shakespeare book, but I couldn't find it."

"Because it's not there," Rosalie said.

"Beg pardon?"

I felt Rosalie's smile. "Because it's not there, it's here."

Rosalie read from Sense and Sensibility:

Marianne: "'Is love a fancy or a feeling? No. It is an ever fixéd mark...' It's too bad Edward has no passion for poetry."
Elinor, surprised: "Hmm?"

Rosalie became quiet, looking at the page.

"Oh," I said.

I thought about that for a while. "Do you have no passion for poetry, too?" I asked.

"Actually, I was going to sing a German lied at my wedding," Rosalie said.

"Oh," I said, and cleared my throat. "A German ... what?"

Rosalie chuckled quietly. "A poem," she explained.

"Oh," I said.

We were quiet.

"Why do you think I don't love you?" I said.

"I said you think you know that you love me," Rosalie disagreed.

"Yeah," I said, "that. I don't think nothing. I know that I love you, but you don't accept that. Why?"

Rosalie asked quietly, "Do you love the stove?"

"Uh, what?" I said.

Rosalie smiled in my hair. "I am nothing more than a machine now. A killing machine. You could love me no more than you could love the stove. You think that you love a person. I am not a person. I am fire, and I burn, but that's all I am now, and that's all I'll ever do."

I closed my eyes for a second. How can you talk to somebody who's just so wrong about everything?

I tried: "The fire keeps me warm."

"And if you get too close to it, it will kill you," she countered. "Sooner or later, Bella, you'll get burnt."

I sighed. Why did I even bother?

"I love you," I said simply.

Rosalie sighed.

"Do you love me?" I ventured.

Rosalie was quiet.

"Do you ... want me ... anymore ... still?" I asked.

Now the quiet was filled with something else: shame.

I didn't expect that feeling coming from her.

Rosalie Hale was ashamed of herself.

For wanting me.

That actually gave me a little bit of hope.

"Would you want that I ... want you, Bella?" Rosalie's voice was so tentative.

I snuggled into her.

"Do you want me right now?" I said, just ... wondering.

Rosalie didn't say anything.

I sighed: "Read to me?"

"Yes," she said, and opened up the book again.

I put my hand over the page.

"You're not gonna keep leading me on and then do nothing about it, are you, Rosalie?" I said seriously. "I don't ... think I can ... handle that. I don't think my body can take that, you know, Rosalie? Okay?"

"I don't think I can, either," Rosalie admitted.

"Good," I said, forcefully ignoring the regret I heard in her voice.

What the hell did she know what was good for her, anyway? Up to now, she's always been wrong.

"It's just that ..." Rosalie started, but then she broke off.

I waited.

"I'm scared," she whispered.

I breathed quietly. "I know," I said.

"Do you ..." Rosalie said.

"What?" I pressed.

"Never mind," she said.

I tsked, annoyed. "Rosalie Hale," I exclaimed, "you love me. You just don't know it yet, do you!"

Rosalie was silent at that.

I pressed into her.

"You're not going to give up on this, are you?" Rosalie said resignedly.

"Nope," I said.

"Stubborn," Rosalie said, annoyed.

"Yep," I said.

I thought about that. "Takes one to know one, doesn't it?"

Rosalie growled at that.

Ooh! So scary! I thought. Actually, she was, kinda.

I ignored her o-so-scary posturing, though. Best policy was ignoring her little tiffs, I've found.

"So, uh ... later, um ... do you wanna ..." I said.

I tried to be bold, but I just ended up sounding foolish, and blushing furiously, to boot.

"You are just too sweet for words, Bella Swan," Rosalie said, a smirk in her voice.

"So is that a 'yes'?" I pressed.

"I don't ... I don't know, Bella," Rosalie said. "I don't know."

"Scared, huh?" I teased.

Rosalie didn't take that well.

"I'm not," I said. "I'm not scared, Rosalie. I trust you."

"That's what scares me, Bella," Rosalie said sadly.

"Then trust ME!" I shouted.


I had no idea where that came from.

But, suddenly, it fit.

Rosalie didn't trust me.

No, more than that.

"That's it!" I said. "You've never trusted anybody, have you."

Rosalie didn't answer.

"Trust me, Rosalie," I said. "You can do that. I can't hurt you. I won't."

"And when I hurt you?" she countered.

"You won't," I said confidently.

"But I will," she said regretfully.

I sighed.

"This gonna be like this forever?" I asked.

"No," Rosalie said.

"Good!" I said.

"... because someday you'll die."

I rolled my eyes.

"Then ..." I said, "okay, then ... why waste time now, Rosalie, huh?"

"Because ..."

"Don't answer that!" I cut in.

I was tired of listening to her moralizing crap.

"Read to me," I commanded.

"Yes," Rosalie said.

I snuggled into her. "I love you."

Rosalie sighed.


She stopped, shaking her head. Then she picked up the book and started to read.

I fell asleep in Rosalie's arms, her dulcet tones lulling me to sleep.