SOOOOOO....I'm not sure how exactly to say this...BUT WOW! OMG! THANK YOU SO MUCH. I can not tell you the great response my last chapter received. It was truly humbling and gah! THE PRESSURE!!! I hope I can live up to the hype. I need to give a HUGE thanks to Angst Goddess for the shout out on her epic fic Wide Awake. Her readers ran over and have given me so much support. And please know that Angst is the Oprah to my Gail. Sigh....I love her hard. And well she give me Darkward so all is good in my world.

Enough of that. Thanks Starshine for keeping me on track, DT for cracking me up, JDSK-soul mate, and OCD for well, being there to talk about Rob with me when i need a fix.

Couple of things:

Please note that the conversation about Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee....well i found this random blog with all this stuff and i literally cut and pasted the Jackie Chan stuff....sorry but it was too funny not to add in!

I hope this chapter is cool...I am still taking this slow. It is the natural flow so you guys are gonna have to hold on for a while. I've decided not to push the limits of my chapters and end them when it seems right. This seemed right to me.

Also, I don't have a specific song for this chapter but I am totally obsessed with Angels & Airwaves. Gah. They own me at the moment.

Enjoy!


EPOV

The word hung thickly in the air.

Lust.

Now mingled with confusion, repulsion, and fear.

I could see the words floating around his head as he picked them up from me. I was sure irritation would be on that list in a second.

Jasper and I were sitting across the room from one another. He was behind the desk, glancing down occasionally at the monitors, updating the system like I'd asked him to. I was across the room, as far away as possible, as though that made it less likely for him to read me.

The minutes ticked by and Jasper finally spoke. "Edward, it's not a big deal. Well, it is a big deal but not the way you're thinking. I mean you like her. She's cute and well, obviously not afraid of you," he said, breaking out into a huge grin, "which frankly makes her either the coolest girl you've ever met or the dumbest. I'm not sure yet." He glanced down again at the monitors and I could see her though his eyes, spraying down the furniture and cleaning up the mess she had made on the patio.

My shirt hung over her shoulders and her jaw was set. There was a look of something, determination, possibly, in her eyes. I wasn't sure. Again, the fact I couldn't hear her thoughts was distressing. I mean, really disturbing. This situation opened up a whole other equation I'd never considered. Lust? I began rubbing my hands back and forth across the top of my legs trying to squelch the feelings bubbling from inside.

Although I was confused, I was utterly intrigued. In all my years I truly had never experienced pure lust.

Not like this.

Every emotion I had felt, in this second life, was tainted by the thoughts around me. There was no such thing as privacy or true intimacy. Being in a relationship with a woman was difficult, although not impossible, and I'd tried in the past unsuccessfully.

The parts I desired, the wonders of sharing with another person, opening yourself up, spilling your secrets one by one, were elusive. The part of a relationship when two people grow and change together in their journey to become one was destroyed the minute I read their minds.

My gift annihilated the give and take, the mystery of first love. For me this was not possible. There was no mystery. So even when I had desired another, that desire or need was mingled with her thoughts, which inevitably complicated the situation. It was impossible to tune her mind out yet cave to my base emotions. Sex, while physically pleasurable, was mentally torturous.

But she was different. She was silent. Isabella Swan was a mystery.

Again, through Jasper's eyes I watched her come in the house and put up the cleaning supplies. She meticulously placed them in the cabinet before she fell out of range in the bathroom.

Staring down at my knees I finally broke. "What is she feeling?" I asked, barely above a whisper. He heard me of course.

He paused and I looked over at him. There was a tinge of a smirk on his face and he was blocking his thoughts.

"What?" I asked growing irritated quickly.

This dependency on others was becoming more and more obnoxious.

Jasper lifted his brow, and stretched back in his seat, placing his hands behind his head. He was clearly enjoying my discomfort.

"So you really can't hear her?" he asked me.

"No. Nothing. Tell me what she's feeling." I demanded.

"Interesting because, I can feel her and Alice can see her. Yet, you can't hear her." he mused, running his hand across his jaw.

I glared at him. "Yes. It's fascinating. Tell me."

He ignored me and continued, "Then to complicate matters her blood sings to you. And you desire her physically. So on one hand you want her. And on the other hand you want her."

His lips were tugging at the corners.

"So what's really going on here…is you like a girl." He taunted. "Edward likes a girl…"

In an instant I was up and over the desk, pinning him and the chair to the wall.

"Tell me you idiot. What. Is. She. Feeling?" I was going to kill him.

He pushed me off, his foot firmly placed against my chest, and I flew across the room, back over the desk and landed on the chair, shattering it under my weight.

I leapt to my feet but he was in front of me already, hands on his hips and a huge grin on his face.

"Man, I'm impressed. You cleared the desk. I was sure you were going to take out the computer." He said as he picked up the leg of the chair and flipped it in his hands.

I laughed and walked across the room to get a trash can. We bent down to clean up the pieces of smashed leather and wood scattered across the floor. "I know. I wasn't sure if I could make it either. At the last minute I twisted a little."

Together we cleaned up the mess and put all of the debris in the bin. Jasper, apparently done tormenting me for the day, opened his mind and gave me what I'd asked for.

She's pissed Edward. Like really, really, pissed. Her feelings range from bitterness to rage. Oh, and I'm picking up on a little bit of smugness since she ruined your shirt and she knew it would make you mad. But she's definitely going to quit.

I nodded. I knew this was for the best even though I wasn't sure it was what I wanted anymore. But I never got what I wanted anyway, this was nothing new. My life had been about sacrifice and discipline, especially the last 15 years. Isabella Swan was just another sacrifice I had to make.

BPOV

I looked in the mirror and took in my flushed face and grimy hands. I took a finger and rubbed at a swipe of dirt that was smudged across my face. All that did was make a red mark on my already red skin.

I sighed. I was disgusting. My hands and feet were black with dirt from being outside and I was still sweating.

Nice.

And I definitely ruined his shirt. It was splotchy with bleach and smeared with grime.

Good.

I didn't feel bad. He deserved it.

I had two hours left before the end of the day, but I was done. I was going to leave Mr. Cullen my pre-written letter of resignation on my desk where he could find it when he came by for my daily report.

Here's your daily report: I quit.

The thought of leaving that note and the look of confusion on his perfectly featured face made me smile for the first time that day. Part of me wanted to go out in flames but the other needed to salvage a scrap of dignity so my regular notice would have to do.

I gathered my things, still barefoot, and walked to my desk, placing the letter on the corner where he would see it.

I had my bag and my shoes and I needed to stop in the kitchen to remove my food and other items. I wanted to leave Mr. Cullen's home the way I found it and remove every trace of my presence.

It would be like I never existed. A blip on the screen. Two weeks of disturbance in his routine and stagnant existence.

To my absolute horror just as I walked in the room he came down the back stairs.

There went my scrap of dignity.

Mr. Cullen was standing at the bottom of the steps and I noticed his hands were full of trash and behind him I could see an tall, lanky man carrying an arm load of what appeared to be parts of a chair. Mr. Cullen wore the normal, pained grimace on his face that I'd come to expect when he saw me.

We stood for a moment in silence while his eyes traveled down my body, taking in his t-shirt. I held my breath for a moment waiting to see what he would say. The absurdity of my behavior was dawning on me.

My boss was completely neurotic and anal retentive and I was standing in front of him in his shirt.

His shirt that I had all but destroyed.

And I was currently wearing it in an act of defiance.

The fact that he was overwhelmingly gorgeous when he was mad only made the situation worse.

Or better? I had no idea. I lost all sense of rationality when he looked at me.

I felt the heat rush to my face as I realized he could call the police and have me escorted off the property and press charges against me.

Hmmm…maybe I hadn't thought this all the way through.

I heard a stifled cough from behind Mr. Cullen and looked up at the other man who was staring at me with the slightest hint of amusement in his amber eyes.

And who could blame him? I was standing in the middle of the kitchen, my arms piled with my belongings, barefoot, wearing my bosses enormous shirt, covered in dirt, and smelling like a sweaty pig in front of the two most gorgeous men I have ever laid eyes on.

Best day ever.

Apparently deciding to take the high road, Mr. Cullen walked past me out the garage door without a word. The other man followed but gave me a wide smile and nod of encouragement, leaving me alone in the kitchen.

I silently watched the tall blonde man amble pass me and close the back door with a sharp click. I let out a deep breath…realizing at that moment, I'd been holding it for some time.

That, I decided, as I cleared out the refrigerator and gathered my belongings for the final time, was my signal to leave.

Xxx

My shoes kept slipping off the foot rest on barstool I was perched on.

I hated wearing heels.

The music thumped around us and the lights were low, I'm assuming for ambiance or something. But it was all lost on me as I swallowed the last of my drink. I peered into the bottom of the glass hoping a refill would magically appear.

Where was that waitress?

I slumped back in my seat, dreaming of my couch and comfy clothes. I'd had to scrub myself clean when I came home from work to rid myself of the filth that covered my entire body. I was hoping it would remove some of the horror and humiliation I'd experienced as well but sadly soap didn't take care of that.

My bad mood was lingering as I sat between Angela and Tyler and pretended to be interested in their conversation. I'd never quit a job before and left on bad terms. I also felt terrible ruining Mr. Cullen's shirt. Sure he was an ass but it was immature and I was embarrassed by my behavior.

Fucking hindsight.

I fingered the paper coasters on the table and pretended to listen to Tyler and his friend Ben argue who was the better martial artist, Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee.

I groaned internally and looked around the table for a sharp object to gouge my eye out with, but came up empty.

What I did see was Angela making sex eyes at Ben and pretending this was the most fascinating conversation ever, which I knew for a fact, it wasn't. She caught my eye and raised an eyebrow at me, motioning with her own mouth for me to smile. I rolled my eyes at her but plastered a smile on my face and returned my attention to Tyler.

I knew I wasn't being fair. It wasn't his fault my boss was a douche. I appraised Tyler, noticing how he looked nice in a blue shirt that matched his dark eyes. He really was cute and nice. The problem was he was a bit boring. At the moment he was animatedly informing Ben the reasons Bruce Lee was superior to Jackie Chan. "Jackie exaggerates often by adding wild stunts and a lot of wire work. If you watch Jackie fight, you will be entertained but when you watch Bruce, you might learn something. The end. And the win goes to ….Bruce Lee!"

I watched with mild interest as Ben took a deep breath and said, "Since you wish to point out past history, let's get a more complete view. In Fist of Fury, Bruce Lee kicked Jackie Chan off a twenty foot ledge onto an unforgiving cement floor. Yet Jackie Chan survived. Then in Enter the Dragon, he not only suffered the indignity you so much relish, but also was conked on the head with an errant nunchucka swing from Mr. Lee. Yet Jackie Chan survived. Then in their third encounter... well, there wasn't any third encounter. And there is a good reason for that - Bruce Lee was DEAD before there was a third encounter. Jackie Chan went on to become the next big Asian action movie star. Coincidence? I don't think so."

Ben leaned back in his seat and took a long, smug, pull from his beer. He and Tyler eyed one another trying to determine where to take this next. I had to admit I was impressed. Not so much from this conversation but from the fact people actually knew this much random information about something I cared so little about.

The waitress came over and took our order for another round of beer and when Tyler introduced the next topic of who would win a death match, Webster vs. Gary Coleman. At this, I excused myself to the restroom.

At the sink I pulled out my hair brush and was attempting to tame my thick mop of hair when a woman next to me washing her hands said, "Wow, your perfume is amazing, what kind is it?"

I laughed and said, "Oh, I don't wear perfume. It gives me a headache. It must be someone else."

In the mirror I watched as she smiled and ran her fingers down her long, curly, red hair. Her skin was pale. Flawless. Completely smooth. She had on large, rose tinted glasses and was wearing a tight black dress.

Unscrewing the cap to my lip gloss I said, "I love your glasses, I could never pull off something so dramatic."

She flashed me an ultra white smile, that kind of gave me the creeps. "Thanks. I have sensitive eyes so I wear them all the time. So I saw you out there with that guy…are you here on a date?"

I sat back against the sink. "Ugh yes. I mean, he's cute and all, but boring. You would not believe the argument he and his friend have been having all night. And what is worse, my friend has hit it off with his friend so I'm doomed for the evening."

She threw her head back and laughed, her red curls bouncing behind her head. She was really beautiful; interesting looking, like a model. "Yeah doomed. Well, you come find me if you need an escape. My boyfriend is supposed to meet me later but he can be unreliable."

I put my brush and make up away and followed her to the door. Stopping just before she pushed the door open to the thumping beat of the outside music she turned and said, "By the way, my name is Victoria."

EPOV

With my props in place I was able to successfully stake out the corner of the business district on this busy Friday night.

I'd been here for about an hour, my coffee now cold and my newspaper thoroughly read, color coded Post-its in place. Everything was as it should be.

Except the lingering scent on my clothes.

And the memory of the sight of her skin, creamy and white.

And the fact I apparently wasn't just hungry but behaving like a typical, horny seventeen year old.

Other than that it was a regular day in the life of a 111 year old vampire.

I couldn't believe it when I came down the stairs to find Bella in the kitchen. I'd held my breath when I left my rooms and attempted to ignore her thumping heart. With Jasper there I was doing fine until I stepped into the room and saw her standing there flushed and red. She was so small, draped in my decimated shirt. I stood still and fought the urge to reach out and rub my finger over smudge of dirt on her face.

Jasper felt the atmospheric change and nudged me in the back, bringing me back to the moment where I took my leave.

Annoyed with these thoughts I picked up my trash and threw it in the receptacle by the curb. I made a stop at my car to put the newspapers in since I'd decided to patrol a bit before returning home. I didn't expect to find the vampire tonight. I was sure of my pattern and we were not in the right location or timing for one of his attacks.

As I walked, I cleared my head and listened to the crowds. It was a typical Friday night and most people were having a good time. Humans act foolish, though, in their quest for fun. The excessive drinking, suggestive behavior, or questionable acts always caused more pain than they expected. It all begins as fun in the minds of young people but tends to spiral out of control quickly.

There was section of this area was full of popular bars and restaurants. I wandered around for a while, waiting and listening.

Wow, I wonder if Amanda saw Robert, he looks really hot tonight…Finally, Friday night! TGIF!...Why did I wear these shoes they are killing me…Now, where did I put my car keys…or my car…

I found him after a moment of searching and followed the voice, the one looking for his keys. Even his thoughts were blurry, intoxicated and incoherent. I found him stumbling in a parking lot across the street when I approached him.

"Hey, let me call you a cab." I said, and watched him struggle to find his keys in his pocket. I stood by and watched as he fished them out and promptly dropped them on the ground. It was easy to help intoxicated people since they were not clear enough to notice the speed or strength you possess or the coolness of your touch.

I quickly picked them up and held onto them. "Who the fuck are you? Gimmie my keys." He stuttered, swiping a meaty hand towards me. I stepped back, grimacing. This guy was getting on my nerves and I really didn't want his dirty hands on me.

I left him for a moment, struggling to maintain his balance and walked to the curb, waving down one of the many cabs trolling the area. "Come here. Get in the cab." I directed, rolling my eyes at his asinine behavior. Assisting him to the vehicle I shoved him inside and gave the driver more than enough cash to cover the fare.

The driver nodded and pulled away from the sidewalk. I watched the tail lights as they trailed down the dark road. I took a deep breath and continued my patrolling of the bar district.

I can't believe he was looking at the waitress that way…asshole….spilling his drink on my new dress…I wonder if she'll give me her number…those murders are freaking me out...stupid manager making us park in the back of the lot…

I honed in on the last one and watched a girl, dressed in a uniform from a local restaurant, dart to her car in the shadowy corner of the parking lot. She was safe from vampires tonight but I kept an eye on her to make sure there were no drunken frat boys around.

As usual I wondered why she chose to go alone. Why she didn't bring a co-worker into the dark night. The danger people put themselves in was usually their own fault. Avoidable.

My mind flashed to Ms. Swan and I wondered if she took risks like this. All humans do, but some were worse than others. My stomach recoiled at the thought of her alone in the dark, unprotected.

The waitress drove away and I turned behind the businesses, to the edge of the dark alley clustered between the old buildings. It smelled like garbage and the constant wetness gave the whole area a funky, bad odor. I held my breath to keep the disgusting scents at bay.

The night was fairly quiet, as I'd expected, and I realized for the millionth time the absurdity of my policing this area. Why was I, a monster, a murderer, wandering the dark streets helping people to their cars and shoving them into cabs?

Why did I leave the comforts of my home and my family to comb the beer-soaked alleys of the inner city? I knew why, and tracking the blonde vampire steeled my resolve.

For countless years I'd lived in my own world, focused on myself and my needs.

Mastering our alternative lifestyle.

Quenching my thirst through the hunt.

Gaining knowledge through books and countless degrees.

Collecting bits of history to prove I was there.

Living with my family, and coping with their thoughts and love.

Those were the things I consumed myself with. They were trivial. Self absorbed. I spent more than 50 years striving to be…nothing.

But when I decided to go on my own I focused on what I could do with my abilities and as I roamed the dark nights of the city, alone for the first time in many years, I found a person in need. And I helped them. Finally, I had a sense of purpose.

Then I noticed the trends of rogue vampires that hovered on the edge of cities. Their kills were less noticeable to the authorities but fairly easy for me to identify. The deaths appeared random, products of living in an urban area. I determined to claim this city as my own, keeping the citizens safe. So every night I walked the streets of the city, helping those I stumbled on and tracked the far more dangerous members of my kind.

As the years passed I honed my gift and vampire abilities. I finally listened to people instead of tuning out their voices. I learned how to pick up on the subtle differences in their tone, determining what was fear and what was not. At first I was terrible at tracking and was unable to follow the scent or clues left by those I hunted. Eventually I developed a system of physical skills and research that was unparallel to others of my kind. I used the money I'd earned over the years to fund my mission and with the help of my family I was able to help more people and save more lives. I was faster and better prepared than those I sought out.

The one compromise I made to my family when I left was to continue the tradition of immersing myself into human culture by acting as the CEO of The Pacific Northwest Trust. It was the only thing that kept me in regular contact with people, which allowed me to hold on to a thread of my humanity as well.

So I stood now, on this warm Friday night in a dank back alley waiting to help the next poor soul that crossed my path when in need.


Hope you like it...and can hold on with me for a while...come chat on the twilighted(dot)net thread and leave me a little note in a review. But only if you wanna! Thanks!~angel