11 Complications (cont…)
I watched Bella shift in ephemeral moments of sleeping and waking. I took great care to keep as deep in the shadows as I could. Discovering me in her room as she slumbered, after our discussion of my truths, would be enough to frighten even the strongest of humans. But, then, this was Bella. Bella who said it didn't matter that I wasn't human. Bella who claimed she wasn't afraid to be near me – a killer. Bella, sweet Bella, who cared for me – a monster. Perhaps I should want her to see me. I should walk into the middle of the room and wait for her to wake again. Knowing Bella, she probably wouldn't care that I'm a peeping Tom too. I was disgusted with myself. What was I doing here? Why was I dragging this beautiful, safe creature into my dark, dangerous world?
I knew what I was doing. I couldn't be away from her. I wanted so badly for it to be morning. I wanted her in my car, so I could begin asking her the countless questions that filled my head. How frustrating and mysterious was this girl, and how entirely intoxicating and intriguing.
She spoke my name in her sleep again. Her restlessness wasn't from nightmares tonight, though. I saw no anguish in her delicate features as she slept. When she woke, she only sighed and fell into a quite trance until she was asleep again. Did I really affect her this way? Could I presume that her dreams were in hopeful anticipation of seeing me in the morning? Could I presume that she wanted the night to be over as much as I did? I didn't dare to think it. I shouldn't want it. How conflicting everything was now!
She was sleeping again. How badly I wanted to touch her skin and feel her close to me. No. Control yourself. I began to think about the questions I would ask her. It would take years to ask them all. Which questions would I start with? How could I rate them in importance? What did I want to know first? It was impossible to decide.
I wanted to ask her if she liked the boys at school. Did she refuse them for me? No, those questions were not what I wanted to ask first. They were not about her as much as they were about them. I didn't care about them. I only cared about her. I wanted to know what she liked. Smells, tastes, colors. I wanted to know why she made the decisions she made. What innate set of rules did she follow? Did she follow the principles her parents taught her, or her own, or some combination thereof? I wanted…I wanted to know why. Why did she make the decisions she made? Why did she choose the things she chose?
I realized, in my pondering, that I knew exactly what I wanted to ask her.
I needed to know what made her happy.
It was all I wanted to do…to make her happy. For the first time, I thought about the possibility of causing this beautiful creature something other than hurt. I knew, then, which questions I would ask. I would ask what I wished I could hear in her silent, frustrating, beautiful head.
She finally fell into an exhausted sleep only hours before daybreak. She was silent. I lingered for a while longer, watching her hands as they lay quietly next to her pillow.
At the first hint of light I leapt from her window into the barely lit, dew-filled morning air. I was immediately aware of the absence of her burning, sweet scent and I wanted to run back to her side.
No, Edward. Go home, be patient. She will be near again soon enough. No mistakes. I slipped into the trees and turned for home when I heard Charlie wake.
One would never guess that there were five people living in this house that attended high school. Any normal home would have a hum of activity by this time in the morning. Everyone stirring, eating, and stepping on one another, as they tried to make themselves presentable for the day. But, the Cullen house was essentially still.
Rosalie was in her room, admiring her reflection. She had a new outfit that made her feel pretty. I didn't linger with her thoughts for very long.
Emmett was watching the television. "Watching the human again. Pathetic." I ignored him.
Esme smiled as she passed by me. "He seems different today…anxious? But still happy. As long as he's happy." I saw in her mind that Carlisle had already left for the hospital.
Alice and Jasper were upstairs in their room. Ah, a private moment. I quickly left them.
One hour. This could possibly be the longest hour of my life. I quickly changed my clothes and returned to the main floor of the house. Emmett had switched over to a video game, much to Rosalie's dismay. She had joined him on the couch, ready for him to shower her with praise about her beauty. I wondered if Rosalie would ever be capable of any other thought. I wondered if she even realized how shallow she was. I doubt she'd care.
I sat down at the piano and played the lullaby. Bella's lullaby - that sleeping doll that tempted my every fiber and entranced my every thought.
I sighed. Esme smiled at me.
I wondered if Bella's impatient sleep could mean that she would be ready for school earlier this morning. I could leave 15 minutes earlier. Maybe even 20. Would it be too forward to be waiting in the drive as soon as Charlie left for work? I didn't really care. I needed to be near her.
I played the lullaby again as I shuffled the questions I wanted to ask her in my mind. I couldn't decide which to ask first. I conceded to allow myself to be spontaneous about it. I'd ask the first question I thought of when I saw her. Well, the first question that was appropriate at this juncture. Yes, Edward. Keep it light.
I sighed again.
54 minutes. How human I felt: so incredibly bound by time.
I continued in this fashion until I counted down to 25 minutes. I'd have to be careful. Charlie might not have left yet. But, I couldn't wait any longer. I rose from the piano and strode out to my car. Rosalie was already standing next to her red, disgustingly vain car. But I couldn't complain, could I? It was my doing. I wasn't really giving the other's a choice. I wouldn't be driving them to school anymore.
"Oh good, he's leaving."
She buffed the car to a blinding sheen and then looked at herself in the reflection. "I'm so glad those myths about not seeing our reflections aren't true. How unbearable that would be." She played with her hair.
Maybe shallow wasn't the best term. Was there something lower than shallow? I smiled to myself. I was immediately reminded of Bella. She was the exact opposite of Rosalie. Of course, Bella was far more beautiful to me than Rose could ever be, but Bella would never admit to this. I wondered if she even knew how intoxicating she was?
I pulled out of the drive, glad to be rid of Rosalie's thoughts, and raced toward the silence of Bella's mind. Today, I would learn a few of her secrets.
I had to wait down the road a few moments until Charlie pulled away, but within seconds of his departure, I was parked in his spot in front of the Swan house. I watched in anticipation. Would she be ready early? Will she be unnerved that I'm already in her driveway?
She interrupted my thoughts when I saw her peek through the window. I heard her hurry down the stairs. If my heart could've leapt, I'm sure it would've. Could she be excited to see me? I wanted to run to her.
I needed to stay calm. Patience, Edward. Don't attack the poor girl.
I stayed still as she appeared in the door of the house and walked toward my car. I wondered if her hair was as soft as it looked.
She hesitantly got in the car, but she didn't seem scared. I smiled at her despite the burning pain in my throat.
Ah, there it was. The blush, the smile. Those 42 minutes were worth the wait.
"Good morning." I said, calmly, not wanting to ruin the moment. "How are you today?" Yes Bella. Tell me absolutely everything. Why was it her mind I couldn't read? Of all the minds in the whole world and all of time…why did it have to be hers?
"Good, thank you." Her voice was like a song.
"You look tired." I told her, studying the darkened circles around her eyes. I didn't state it as a question. I didn't need to. Of course, she didn't know that.
"I couldn't sleep," She said quietly, moving her hair. Her scent enveloped me. Keep it together, Edward.
"Neither could I," I quipped and started the engine.
She laughed. Was it possible for her to sound any sweeter? "I guess that's right. I suppose I slept just a little bit more than you did."
"I'd wager you did." I looked teasingly at her. Not much more though, I thought.
"So what did you do last night?" She quickly asked. Oh Bella, if you only knew.
"Not a chance. It's my day to ask questions." I laughed, glad to have the excuse to not answer her. Oh, the same thing I do every night, I was just sitting in your bedroom, watching you sleep.
"Oh, that's right. What do you want to know?" She seemed annoyed. I realized I could have fun with this. I remembered my decision to ask the first question that came to mind. All I could think of was how much I loved the faint pink in her cheeks. Ah, there was my question.
"What's your favorite color?" I acted serious. Inquiring minds want to know, after all.
She rolled her eyes at me. It was fun. "It changes from day to day."
Oh, no, Bella. You're answering these questions.
"What's your favorite color today?"
"Probably brown." She answered plainly.
I snorted. She was wearing brown. She was trying to avoid the question. "Brown?" I called her bluff.
"Sure. Brown is warm. I miss brown. Everything that's supposed to be brown — tree trunks, rocks, dirt — is all covered up with squashy green stuff here."
Did I just hear her complain about plants? Was she being serious? I studied her, unable to understand how she could desire the plainness of dirt and tree bark over the vibrant green of the vegetation that grew all around Forks. Phoenix. Right, of course. She's used to brown. Forks was very different than what she was used to. She was homesick.
Maybe this question and answer thing would work. Maybe I could actually figure her out.
"You're right," I said. "Brown is warm." I couldn't stand it any longer. All the talk about brown made me think of her hair - that sweet scented hair that tempted me. How soft and warm it must be. I reached and lightly moved a strand of hair on her shoulder.
I should've been glad that we had reached the school, so that I could open the door and free myself from this torture…but I didn't want to free myself. I wanted to sit and breathe her in forever. I parked and turned to her, making no move to get out of the car.
"What music is in your CD player right now?" Another spontaneous question. She sheepishly named a band that surprised me. I smiled and pulled out the CD she mentioned from my collection in the car. I handed it to her. Could we possibly have things in common?
"Debussy to this?" I questioned. She didn't look up at me.
Was she intrigued by this commonality too? I remembered how surprised she seemed the day she fainted in Biology and heard my claim that I was listening to music in the car. She sensed how different I was, even then. I chuckled under my breath. I wonder what other recordings we have in common? I'd have to investigate that further the next time I was in her room.
I continued to ask her questions throughout the day. Anything I could think of that could give me some idea of what made her happy. Anything to help me understand that quiet mind. I suspected that she loved reading as much as I did, and my suspicions were confirmed with my questioning. I wanted to know every book she had read and if she had liked it. What did she think of the characters? Did she favor one author over another, or was it the stories that caught her attention? I'd read every one of the books she mentioned, a thousand times over. How intriguing to see how fresh eyes react to stories I was intimately familiar with. How curious it was that her passion made me feel excited for stories and characters that had long been bored afterthoughts in my mind.
I found that I asked a question now and then that seemed simple and casual enough, until I saw her blush scarlet at the thought of answering. My intense curiosity (and perhaps a selfish desire to watch her blush again) kept me asking questions along the same lines.
I asked her what her favorite gemstone was. Simple question, I thought. So many girls were fascinated by things that shimmered and sparkled. But not Bella. She didn't seem fazed by those things. So, what would she choose? Something simple and uncomplicated? A pearl perhaps? Or an opal?
"Topaz," she blushed. Another brown thing, interesting.
Was it because it was brown, like Arizona? Could I be so bold as to think that it was because my eyes were the same color? I couldn't help myself and I began asking her for the reason why she chose that gemstone. I had to know. I had to know everything.
My prodding didn't warrant a response, so I resorted to demanding an answer. "Tell me."
She reluctantly confirmed my quiet desires.
"It's the color of your eyes today," She sighed and played with her hair. "I suppose if you asked me in two weeks I'd say onyx."
Oh. She did choose it because of my eyes. Did she really find my strange eyes beautiful? Or was it just a quick response? Topaz eyes staring at her, so she chooses topaz? My gut twisted.
Keep moving, Edward. Keep it together.
I quickly asked another question to keep from revealing my obsessive thoughts about her.
"What kinds of flowers do you prefer?"
I watched her sigh in relief. Her heart slowed to a pace closer to normal.
Oh good. It worked. She doesn't think I'm a freak…any more than I already am, that is.
I was so engrossed in asking her questions, I was actually surprised by Mr. Banner's entrance into Biology. He was pushing the TV cart again.
Oh god. I'd never survive this again. I'd surely ravish her before the end of class, (I only briefly thought of the other possibility before chasing it from my mind).
Fate had it in for me. She was beautiful; she smelled so good; she wanted to me near me as much as I wanted to be near her; and she sat so close to me. It was too blasted easy! Did seventy years of good behavior count for nothing? This one, small girl would be the undoing of a near century of discipline!
I wouldn't let it happen. Mr. Banner turned off the light and I moved my chair away from Bella, when all I really wanted to do was devour her. I ignored the hot pain in my throat and held my breath.
Ugh. I hated high school. To sit in those dull classes was bad enough, but the torture of sitting next to this perfect creature? Agony. Sweet, horrible, intoxicating agony.
I paid no attention to the movie. I was sure I'd heard it all before anyway. I only studied Bella. What was she thinking? Was she thinking of me? Her rapid, irregular heartbeat told me she wasn't paying much attention to the movie. How I longed to reach out and touch her.
The hour passed far too slowly.
The light could not have come back on at a better moment. I was nearly ready to give up and accept all that Hell had to offer me. At least I knew it would be sweet.
I studied her as we rose to leave class. She finally looked up at me. Do you have any idea how much I want to hold you and kiss you and …
When we reached the gymnasium, I knew I had to leave her. I knew the irony in it. An hour with her was torture, as was an hour apart. I knew I couldn't speak – oh the things that would come out of my mouth…..
I reached up and touched her face with the back of my hand. Warm. So warm. I began breathing heavily, letting the flames of her scent lick my throat. I wanted to absorb as much of her as was possible to sustain me while we were apart.
My hand broke contact with her soft skin and I knew I had to walk away. Just for a little while, Bella.
I glided down the hallway, completely unaware of the people around me. I was focused on the people around Bella, watching the blood rush to her face as she watched me walk away. I couldn't decide if I wanted to watch her in gym again or ponder the next round of questions I was going to ask. It was so unlike me to be so indecisive. How was it that this girl affected me in such a way?
Emmett had pummeled me with mind chatter the whole hour in Spanish class. As class dismissed, I rushed out to meet Bella. I heard him think, "crazy," and I knew it was directed at me. Maybe I am crazy, but I don't care. I've never felt anything like this in all of my existence.
She nearly fell out of the gym door, a wide smile spreading across her face when she saw me. I smiled back, happy to be in her presence again. I resumed the battery of questions as we walked to the car, focusing on Arizona. In my many years, I found that people who were intimately connected to a place, a thing, or a person…those people gave the most intricate descriptions of the subject. I was addicted to her eyes; her point of view. I wanted so badly to see through those eyes and the world the way she did. She brought new life into me and I could feel again.
When we reached her house, we sat in the car and talked for hours. Her voice, her smell, her blush…they were all amplified by the echo of the rain that fell outside the protection of the car – as was the burning in my throat. I listened as she described places I'd never seen and people I didn't know. Her hands spoke in signs as she tried to describe what she couldn't find the words to say. I found myself wishing I could have been there with her, in all of her memories, experiencing them with her. Even as she described the clutter in her bedroom in Phoenix, her voice sounded like warm, humming bells.
Huh. Bella. Bells. How perfect was her name? A beautiful bell.
She was looking at me, silent. I broke out of my reverie to realize the time. How ironic that the entire day had been so confined to time, when I was so completely not bound by time.
"Are you finished?" She finally said. Had I heard a hint of relief?
"Not even close — but your father will be home soon." I reluctantly added the last part. Bella, I could sit here with you forever.
"Charlie!" She exclaimed quickly, finally breaking out of her own daze. Could it be that she was as intoxicated as I was? No, it was not possible. "How late is it?" She looked at the clock.
"It's twilight," I answered as I studied the lingering sunset. I turned and gazed at her, not wanting to break away from the deep brown of her eyes. More brown, fascinating.
"It's the safest time of day for us, the easiest time. But also the saddest, in a way… the end of another day, the return of the night. Darkness is so predictable, don't you think?" I said, ending on a lighter note, realizing my deep thoughts had been spoken aloud. Careful, Edward. Stay in control.
"I like the night. Without the dark, we'd never see the stars. Not that you see them here much." A frown. More homesickness.
I didn't want our day to end on a sad note so I let myself laugh and smiled at her. "Charlie will be here in a few minutes. So, unless you want to tell him that you'll be with me Saturday…" I teased her, but wondered if she would take the bait. I wished she would.
"Thanks, but no thanks." She began gathering her things. I could see her muscles tense and relax. She was stiff from all the sitting. I needed to remember that she was human and needed to move now and then. "So is it my turn tomorrow, then?"
"Certainly not!" Sneaky girl! I stared at her in playful disbelief. "I told you I wasn't done, didn't I?"
"What more is there?" Oh, so much more Bella.
"You'll find out tomorrow." I said and I dared to reach across the car to open her door. Her warmth was so close to me – a fiery storm blasted me in waves. It was overwhelming. I wanted to turn and touch her again, but I was suddenly assaulted with another, new tempest. Ah, always a complication.
"What is it?" she sounded worried now. I looked up at her soft, perfect face and opened the door.
"Another complication," I moved away quickly, hoping she'd understand it was time to say goodbye for now.
She seemed confused and hurt. Oh, please don't be hurt. It must be this way, Bella. She soon saw the headlights though, and looked at me, understanding.
"Charlie's around the corner," I warned her, but I was staring toward the other vehicle that had pulled up in front of Bella's house. I heard Bella exit the car while I studied the visitors for another moment. I knew them, if only by association. Quileutes. You will not keep me from my Bella. Knowing that Bella was safely clear of the car, I backed from the drive and hit the gas, making eye contact with the unwanted visitors as I sped past them.