A/N: January was the month of exams. Luckily I finished them all and got my final marks today. So that stress is over with. Thank you a million times for being to wonderfully patient with me. I know I drive you guys crazy with such long waits between updates, but it is never without reason.
I plan to have my other story done by the end of winter and this one to be finished shortly after, maybe even sooner if I write faster enough.
So many theories about Thomas McLinn and Bella's dream! Keep 'em coming! Here's the EPOV you ordered. Or partial EPOV.
On with Chapter TWENTY!!!
I woke up gasping, springing right up in bed. Once I realized I was in my room and not in early nineteenth century Ireland, I calmed down a bit.
What the hell just happened?
The room was still dark except for the bit of moonlight coming in from the window. I felt a hand on my back and remembered Edward was here with me.
"Bella? What's wrong? Did you have a bad dream?"
I turned back to look at him, his eyes concerned at the shocked and slightly frightened look in my eyes.
"I just saw Thomas McLinn," I whispered.
Chapter 20: Dream On - EPOV
Bella slept soundlessly that night.
It worried me.
I knew she needed to rest; so many things had happened just in the past few days and if I was feeling overwhelmed, I could not imagine what she was feeling. She rolled over, still not uttering a word, and I lightly brushed some hair away from her face. I supposed she was too tired to talk, though I thought her mind would have been working overtime and she would be speaking twice as much.
I rolled on to my back and stared at the ceiling. The silence in the room, except for the light sound of Bella's breathing, was like a thick blanket. I heard bits and pieces of Charlie's dream, nothing exciting. I picked up Bella's copy of Romeo and Juliet on her night side table and flipped through the pages, though my mind was not truly on the words. I wished I could look into Bella's dream.
There was something that had been lurking in the back of my mind for the past few days which I hoped to ask Bella, but with all that had happened, had not.
What did she see when she saw herself? Not figuratively, but literally. What were her numbers?
It was something I wanted to know and at the same time, did not. I did not want to think about the day she would die, for I knew it would happen eventually. I could prolong it as much as I could, but not forever.
No, I couldn't even entertain that thought. It wasn't an option.
I wanted to know at the same time because, well, what if it was sooner than one would think? Bella did not seem suicidal, but she certainly did not appear to be afraid of death. What if she knew something I didn't and was resigned to die? I couldn't let that happen.
My need grew with the discovery of Thomas McLinn. Indeed, Bella voiced a fear of mine; that she was destined to leave this world the same way he did. Abruptly and far too soon. I needed to know all I could to stop this from happening.
From the day I met her to now, she had become so much to me. At home, surrounded by so many happy couples and reading their thoughts, I believed I knew what romantic love was and though I did not find myself yearning for it, I did not find it unlikeable either.
Oh, how blind I truly was.
I could not even describe how I felt about Bella without coming up short. There were no words and I knew Bella would never be able to understand just how much I loved her because it was just impossible to convey adequately. I could do everything for her, and it still wouldn't be enough.
For vampires, emotions were amplified. We did not easily love, but when we did, it was strong and near unbreakable.
If only Bella was unbreakable.
But she wasn't. And that was the problem.
I ran my hand through my hair and sighed. I would do all I could to make sure Bella would live the happiest life she could, but I knew she would not live forever and someday, she would go some place I could not. I didn't even know if I could stay with her. As happy as I could try to make her, there were countless things I couldn't give her and though she didn't think this, I couldn't help but feel as if she was better off without me.
But I wasn't better off without her.
I shook my head. I couldn't think about that right now. I had to think about the present. Finding Thomas McLinn wasn't a coincidence. Alice's blurry visions and Bella's fears were telling us something. Something was coming, a threat of some kind. I just needed to find out what it was and eliminate it before it could touch any of us.
Bella started stirring and I frowned. It was still hours before she was supposed to wake up. Perhaps she was not sleeping as restfully as I had thought.
Suddenly, she shot up, gasping with wide eyes. She took a few deep breaths and seemed to calm slightly after her eyes swept across the room.
What had just happened? I put my hand on her back and said, "Bella? What's wrong? Did you have a bad dream?"
She turned around and I was surprised when her eyes met mine. They were filled with shock and fear.
"I just saw Thomas McLinn," she whispered.
A chill suddenly filled the room.
"What?" I said quietly, not fully understanding. She saw him?
Bella turned fully around and sat down with her knees tucked under her. She ran both of her hands through her tangled hair. Her breathing grew faster.
"In a dream. It was so strange. This didn't feel like a normal dream. It almost felt as if I was watching a movie. Of him. God, I need... I need to do something. Was it real or am I just making things up? Let me look this up. Maybe there's something-"
"Bella." I stopped her from climbing off the bed and grasped her shoulders. "Calm down."
She looked into my eyes and took a few deep breaths. She finally relaxed.
"Okay, sorry. I spazzed for a second."
"I dreamed about Thomas. I don't know if it's just a dream or the big man up there is sending me messages, but I saw him. He was a little boy and he saved his baby sister from dying and his mother asked him how he knew she was going to die and he told her about his Sight and she warned him not to tell anyone else and-"
"Bella. You're doing it again." As concerned as I was, she was adorable like this.
"Just tell me, slowly, exactly what happened."
She described her dream to me, about a young McLinn whose mother found out about his ability after he saved his sister. Instead of not believing him, she simply told him not to tell anyone else. It was not hard to know why. I couldn't imagine what would have happened to the boy if he spread the news of his power.
When she was done, she collapsed against my chest, seeming exhausted.
"It was probably just my over-active imagination," Bella said. "But there's something telling me that there's more truth to the dream than we think."
"Maybe his mother did truly know about his ability and kept it a secret from everyone else."
"She believed him."
"Perhaps she knew more about it than she let on."
"I guess we'll never know." She sighed and nuzzled her nose deeper into my chest. I rubbed soothing circles on her back. "So what do we do now?" she asked. "I guess there's nothing we really can do, is there?"
I was silent for a moment. "There really isn't. We don't know if this was just a dream or not. If it wasn't, something strange is definitely happening to you." I clutched her tighter for a second. "I do think we should tell Carlisle. I'm not sure of what he could do, if there is anything, but we shouldn't keep it from him."
"Do you want to go now or tomorrow?" I asked her.
She lifted her head and raised an eyebrow. "Are you saying we should skip school again, truant?"
I chuckled. "It won't affect me at all. If you don't want to, we won't. We can talk to him after school."
She shrugged. "I won't be able to concentrate in school after this anyway. But we need to go the day after. I don't think I can skip more than two days without Charlie getting suspicious."
It was shortly after Charlie left for work that I jumped on Edward's back and we breezed over to the Cullen mansion.
Charlie couldn't help but notice I was slightly jittery this morning. I passed it off as a bad dream, which wasn't that big of a lie.
When we reached the Cullens, they didn't seem very surprised to see me, though I guess Alice saw me coming. Her visions were fuzzy lately, but she wasn't blind to everything.
I retold my dream to Carlisle in his study and the furrow between his eyebrows grew deeper and deeper with every sentence that came out of my mouth. He was looking at his desk, his face in deep concentration. When I was done, he was silent. I fidgeted in my seat, not knowing what to say now.
Finally, Alice broke the silence. "Well, I'm stumped," she said.
"Thank you, Alice," Edward said, rolling his eyes.
"As if you have any ideas."
Edward was just about to retort when Carlisle looked up.
"None of your bickering. Please spare us this morning," he said. He then turned to me. "Frankly Bella, I'm stuck on this too. It could have been just a dream or it could have been more. If it is more, that just opens up more questions. Who's sending them to you? Is anyone sending them to you in the first place, or is it perhaps, an ability? There's only one thing we can do for now."
I looked at him questioningly.
"Wait," he said. "It's not the best of methods, but all we can do is wait. If you have more in the following nights, that will give us more insight into just how coincidental these dreams are."
Something he said alarmed me. "Do you actually think someone is giving me these dreams?" I asked.
Carlisle paused. "I don't know, Bella."
We left Carlisle's study, still pretty much in the dark. I didn't blame him though for not knowing - no one did.
We went into the living room where Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper were, playing Modern Warfare 2 on their Xbox 360.
"Shouldn't you be at school, kids?" Emmett said, not even looking up from the television screen.
"Shouldn't you?" I retorted and followed Edward, sitting down on the love seat.
Jasper handed his controller to Rosalie and turned to us, Alice settling down beside him. "So why did you come over, Bella?"
"You heard the entire thing," Alice said, leaning into his shoulder.
He smirked. "Just being polite." He then turned serious. "So do you think you'll have another dream like that tonight, Bella?"
"I don't know," I answered honestly.
"Do you want to have another dream tonight?"
I gently bit my lip. "Yes and no. Yes, because it will give me so many more answers than doing any research can. So little is written about his life and this will give me an inside look to it. No, because if I do get more dreams, then that could possibly mean they're not just me and the thought that someone is messing with my dreams at night, or that this is some new found ability, well, it freaks me out. Especially if it's someone messing around. Not just the fact that it's happening, but why is he or she doing it?"
Jasper nodded, understanding. Edward took my hand.
I leaned back, resting against the back of the love seat. "I hate waiting."
Edward looked amused. "Then let's go find something to pass the time."
Emmett snorted. "Something..."
Edward ignored him and pulled me out of the room. Esme poked her head out of the kitchen and smiled at us. "Did you want something to eat, Bella?"
"No, but thank you for offering," I answered, smiling back. My stomach was too knotted up to eat. If this was how I was now, I couldn't imagine what trying to go to sleep will be like. I followed Edward into his music room and he sat down on the bench in front of his piano. He patted the spot next to him.
"Are you going to play something for me?" I asked hopefully. I only just heard his playing yesterday and I was eager for more.
"If you want me to," he replied. "But first, I'm going to teach you how to play."
"What?" I heard been lightly running my fingers over the tops of the keys and quickly took them off, as if the keys were on fire. "Not a good idea, Edward. I tried as a kid and I think I scarred the piano teacher for life."
"You can't be that bad," he said, moving his face closer to mine. Knowing what he was trying to do, I moved mine away.
"You have no idea. I'd rather just listen."
"Do you know any songs?"
"Um," I bit my lip, thinking. "I know how to play Mary had a Little Lamb with one finger, but that's it."
He laughed. "That's all you remember from your lessons?"
"I told you I was bad."
Edward placed his hand on the keys and a gentle melody started, which reminded me of flowers dancing in the breeze. I found my eyes drooping, but quickly opened them again. After waking up last night, it took a while to go back to sleep and by the time I did, it was only another hour until I had to get up again.
"You should take a nap," Edward said. I shook my head.
"I won't be able to sleep tonight if I do."
"Do you need help staying awake?"
I nodded and he stopped playing, making me frown, though I knew it was better that he stop. Before I could say anything, he was pulling me away again by the hand.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"Outside," he replied simply. As soon as we reached the back patio, Edward carefully, yet swiftly, threw me on his back and started running top speed towards the surrounding trees. I let out a yelp, unable to speak from the breakneck speed, and hid my eyes in Edward's neck.
He was going to run into a tree! I thought you loved me, traitor!
Instead of feeling impact, like I was expecting, we started moving upwards. I almost felt like we were being pushed like a rocket. I opened my eyes to find Edward climbing up the tree. He laughed, knowing exactly the source of my anxiety.
"Do you really have no faith in me, Bella?" he asked. I shook my head, still unable to talk.
The tree was taller than I thought and we just kept going up and up and up. Finally, he stopped. We weren't at the very top, but close. In any normal circumstance, I would have been screaming my ass off from being this high off the ground, but Edward held me tight, keeping me safe.
"Oh my God," I said, finally finding my voice. "This is amazing!" The view was indescribable. Water and trees and mountains - it was all there, like a painting. I had never seen anything like it, at least not with my own eyes. These were the kind of views you only saw on TV or in magazines.
Edward grinned and kissed my nose. "Are you wide awake now?" I just stuck out my tongue in response, unable to take my eyes away from the scene before me.
"Do you do this often?" I asked.
"Not too often, or it takes away the awe," he said. "I knew you'd like it."
Wind blew past us, causing me to shiver. Edward's voice immediately turned concerned.
"I'm sorry, you must be freezing up here."
I shook my head in protest, though my body was telling me differently. "I'm fine."
Unfortunately, Edward kept nagging at me and I finally agreed to come down if he promised to bring me back up soon.
With nothing else to do, we returned to school for the afternoon. I avoided any questions by simply saying I wasn't feeling well. After a while Jessica finally gave up with a huff and stopped with the inquisition. Mike kept shooting dirty looks at Edward during Biology. I guess he noticed the two of us had been away at the same time.
* * *
"Do you really think I'll dream about him again tonight?"
"I don't know, love. Even if you do, it doesn't necessarily mean anything." Edward smoothed my hair and stroked my arm. "Go to sleep."
"I don't know if I can," I sighed, but closed my eyes and tried to relax. I felt feather light kisses on my face and smiled. "You're only distracting me, Cullen," I scolded, but made no move to stop him. He pulled away after a few more seconds.
"Shall I hum to you?"
I nodded and he started humming the beautiful melody he had played for me on the piano yesterday. The one that wasn't yet finished. I immediately felt lulled my the music, different but still just as lovely coming from his voice instead of the piano, and felt myself drifting off much faster than I thought I would.
* * *
Thomas was older now, maybe twelve or thirteen. Though his face had matured and he had grown taller, he was still the serious, skinny boy he was from my dream the night before.
He was standing in the main room of his home, standing close to the door leading to his parents' bedroom. I heard voices from beyond the door. One I recognized as his mother's, Mairead. The other was a deeper, distinctly male voice. His father? Sean, I recalled.
I stepped closer so I could hear better. I ended up standing directly across from Thomas, almost right in front of him. He didn't notice, of course. I was invisible.
"Something's the matter with that boy, Mairead. He's not normal," I heard the man say. From the way Thomas was concentrating so intently, he knew they were talking about him.
"Oh, leave him alone, Sean. He's just different."
"You're lucky I let you speak to me like that," Sean said, in a lower voice. He continued, a little louder, "He stays inside and draws all day. There's work to be done and he's no longer a child. And you're not helping by encouraging him."
"He's still just a boy and he's good at his drawing. The Lord gave him a gift, why shouldn't he use it?"
"Women stay inside. Girls stay inside. Thomas should be out with the rest of us doing work! He is thirteen years old, Mairead. You cannot protect and coddle him for the rest of his life. And what is this I hear about him wanting paints? Paints, Mairead!"
"Don't take away the one thing he truly cares about. Please, Sean, he's still young."
"Boys his age shouldn't be playing with drawings and paints."
"You can't change him to be what you want!"
"Not another word out of you!" Sean thundered. "If the Lord decided to give out gifts, why could he not have given me a son who isn't useless!"
Footsteps came louder and louder and Thomas and I moved away from the door at the same time. Thomas hurried and picked up some firewood from the pile to look as if he had been bringing more in. The door burst open and a tall, black-haired man emerged, his face stormy. He slammed the door behind him and spotted Thomas by the wood pile.
"You," he said, pointing to him. "If I catch you with another one of your drawings, I'll whip you sore, boy. Understand?"
Thomas simply stared at him, as if in a daze, before snapping out of it and giving a single nod.
Just as Sean started heading for the front door, it burst open, two giggling little girls running in. They each held flowers in their hands and looked to be about six years old, maybe a year of two older.
"Daddy!" one of the girls said. She looked a lot like Thomas, her black hair in a braid and her blue eyes shining. She must have been Thomas's sister, Rosie. The other little girl had bright red hair, freckles, and round apple cheeks. She saw Thomas and immediately came up to him.
"These are for you," she said, blushing and offering him her flowers. Thomas, obviously embarrassed and slightly annoyed by the girls, accepted the flowers and muttered his thanks.
"Not right now, Rosie," Sean said to his daughter, who was trying to give him her flowers. "Catherine O'Caroll, shouldn't you be at home with your mam? Come now, I'll take you home," he said to the little red-headed girl.
Catherine O'Caroll? As in Thomas's wife?
Or rather, I thought, Future wife.
Little Catherine said a quick goodbye before hurrying out after Sean. Rosie put her flowers on the table and turned to Thomas.
"Is Mammy sleeping?" She nodded towards the closed bedroom door.
Thomas shrugged. "I'll wake her up," he said, though he knew his mother wasn't actually sleeping. He softly knocked on the door before opening it.
"Mam?" he said. He stepped inside and I quickly followed before he could close the door again. Mairead was sitting on the bed, lightly sniffling. She looked up and quickly wiped her eyes.
"Oh. Tom. What is it?"
"Rosie wanted me to check on you..." It was only a half-lie. Thomas didn't seem comfortable with openly expressing concern, even for his own mother.
"Oh, I'm fine. But I should be starting the supper now." Mairead stood and smoothed her apron. She was about to leave the room when Thomas's voice stopped her.
"I heard what Da said about me."
Her eyes softened. "Tom, don't listen to what he says. Your da has only one way of thinking. He doesn't understand."
"That I'm different?"
There was something in his voice, perhaps the hollowness, that caused Mairead to hurry to her son's side and grasp his face in her hands. At thirteen, he was taller than her by a couple of inches.
"Different is not a bad thing, my love, and do not let anyone tell you it is. You and I both know how special you are. When your da comes back home, we'll show him how good your drawings are. He'll see."
"No, he won't."
"And what makes you so sure of that?"
"Because he won't be coming home, Mam. He'll be dead."
A/N: Do any of you talk in your sleep? I don't, as far as anyone's told me anyway, but my father and brother do. When I was small, I used to share a room with my brother and he'd say the strangest things ;)
I'm sorry if you don't like POV changes in a single chapter. This is more Bella's story than it is Edward's and we couldn't stay away from her for a whole chapter. Next chapter will be out much sooner since exams are done for the semester. Review!
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