Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I'm simply borrowing her characters for the time being.
Chapter 13 - Part Two: Blessed By a Celestial Being
Two long seconds passed as Bella sat before me quietly, simply gazing at me vulnerably and waiting for me to respond to my blatant ignorance of her fragility. But how could I possibly respond? I'd been in a state of panic, combating my animalistic tendencies, compromising my judgment as I desperately fought to preserve her life. But in the end, I had succeeded in doing nothing but terribly frightening her. How could I possibly explain that to her? I couldn't. I simply couldn't.
"I am so very sorry," I eventually told her softly, the low volume of my voice concealing my inner turmoil. Even if she may not have known it, I was referring to so much more than recent events. I was apologizing for the terrible way I'd treated her over the past two months, for first loathing her when she'd done absolutely nothing wrong, for ignoring her after the van incident, for then involving her in the chaos that was my life when I didn't have the restraint to stay away, and for putting her in so much danger by being with her today. I was apologizing for the deeper aspects of myself that I despised, for my depraved existence as a vampire, for my sick obsession with her company, for the bloodlust that consumed me, and for my irreversible love for this angel on earth.
And, I soon found as I continued along that line of thought, not only was I apologizing to Bella, but to a more celestial being. I didn't consider myself religious, for despite Carlisle's assurances, how could a creature like me be deserving of any divinity's attention? But with Bella by my side, it was difficult to ignore how thoroughly I'd been blessed, despite my plentiful shortcomings, and to completely doubt that I had God looking down on me.
Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned. Give me strength and keep Bella safe.
I returned my attention to the still terrified girl in front of me, who was waiting for me to continue. In an attempt to ease the tension, I placed a pleasant smile on my face and playfully asked, "Would you understand what I meant if I said I was only human?"
This was not the proper question for lightening the atmosphere. Not only was it a disgustingly pathetic excuse for such a mistake, but Bella's reaction made it clear that it called unnecessary attention to just how inhuman I was. She slowly nodded once in acknowledgement, but rather than look comforted, she gazed at me with a strange sort of comprehension. Her dilated pupils and the smell of adrenaline spiking in her quickened blood made the gist of her realization clear.
This was the first time she'd truly thought of me as a vampire, a hunter, the first time she'd thought of herself as the prey. My previous thoughts mocking her ignorance returned, stronger than ever. My continual warnings hadn't affected her at all, hadn't prepared her for this revelation. What more could I expect? What concrete evidence had I shown her to make her believe I was dangerous? Before now, I hadn't revealed my true nature in anything but words. She'd been fooled by my outward appearances, just like every other human who had been entranced by a vampire's deceptive beauty. My daring rescue of her from Tyler's van had been nothing but that—a rescue, a superhero saving a damsel in distress. I'd done nothing but dart twenty feet in an eighth of a second, but now she understood, and was afraid.
Before I even realized how far gone I was, my smile changed, became dark, devilish, derisive. "I'm the world's best predator, aren't I?" a startlingly sinister side of me gloated. A crease formed between her eyebrows as she took in my mad state, no longer concealed behind a calm façade. "Everything about me invites you in—my voice, my face, even my smell," I listed in disgust, grinding my sickeningly sharp teeth in frustration. "As if I need any of that!"
Suddenly, those previous ridiculous ideas of possible ways to frighten her, which had merely been passing notions created by an unstable mental state, not to be seriously considered or acted on, were becoming reality.
As I shot to my feet and circled the meadow once, my leg muscles stretched and flexed, loosening the constantly careful, cautious, taut position they'd been locked in for the past several hours. It was a much needed release and fulfilled my raw need for exertion, even if only for a brief moment. Again I traced my path along the trees, pushing my limits, and on the third time around, a breeze wafted Bella's scent towards me again, reminding me that I had an audience.
I pulled to a stop, the grass digging out of the soil beneath my heels. "As if you could outrun me," I taunted maniacally, a strange laugh spilling out of my mouth at the thrill of exposing myself so starkly. Something like adrenaline blinded me to reason, deafened me to the muffled, but strident screams that were echoing somewhere in the back of my head, the urgent warnings drowning in the darkness before they completed the voyage to my ears.
My crazed gaze lifted to the spruce tree on my left. Unthinkingly, I lifted my arm to the spruce to my left and ripped a thick limb from the tree, leaving a jagged, bleeding wound where it once grew. How easy this was, I observed darkly, balancing the enormous bough in my palm as if it was a twig. How effortless, how strangely satisfying, how natural this destruction was. These hands were made to ruin, to devastate…to kill. It was absurd to ever have thought that they could be used for more humane purposes.
I flung the length of wood at an enormous, ancient trunk, where it shattered, showering the ground with droplets of sap and shards of bark. The tree receiving the impact shuddered violently, leaves snapping off of their branches and flurried to the grass to join the sawdust below. "As if you could fight me off."
I shot to her, planting myself two feet away and intending to demand whether she was afraid of me now, whether she knew what a monster I was now, whether she realized she could never love someone like me now, whether she was going to run screaming now, like I'd been waiting for her to do all day.
But as our gazes locked, spinning yellow with wide brown, this crazed desire for her to be afraid of me began to drain. Her gaze reminded me of an unsteady legged fawn, innocent, vulnerable, and terrified. For now she was terrified, and I was sickened, disgusted, repulsed by myself. Guilt exploded up my back like a trite Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. How had I let myself turn into such a vile, despicable, sadistic creature? Had my years on my own taught me no ethics? Had I not learned a thing from my caring parents, especially Esme, who wouldn't voluntarily scare a fly? I had to fix this, had to somehow regain her trust, had to prove to her that I could be a gentleman.
"Don't be afraid," I whispered, my voice hovering over the line of pleading. But to my intense horror, her pulse only accelerated. "I promise—" But I hesitated. For what could I possibly promise her? Certainly not that I wouldn't frighten her again. As a vampire, I was crafted to both entice my prey and scare it into immobility. So I would promise to try not to frighten her. But how pathetic that sounded! It didn't matter what one tried to do. One's actions were far more important. With such an easy loophole, the demon rattling in my chest was sure to escape. I didn't need Alice to see the dire consequences of such an empty promise. If she's dead, you can't frighten her. A shudder rolled down my spine while the crimson-eyed fiend grinned, flames licking with renewed fervor at the walls of my throat.
Struggling to concentrate, I reworded to formulate a more binding oath. "I swear not to hurt you," I vowed, meeting her eyes and attempting to make my own soft, gentle, trusting, a tall order for such alien irises. But, remarkably, her fingers, squeezed into fists, though I doubted she even realized it, loosened and her shoulders relaxed. "Don't be afraid," I repeated softly, stepping forward experimentally, making sure to form each motion slowly and deliberately. And just as alertly and cautiously as I had made my way towards her after fleeing from her scent just minutes ago, I seated myself a mere foot away, closer than I'd been since she'd exposed her throat to me so fearlessly.
And how magnificent she smelled.
I swallowed the venom gathering with troubling quickness under my tongue. "Please forgive me," I requested, nerves resurrecting my early twentieth century formality. "I can control myself. You caught me off guard," I explained, ducking my head a bit, ashamed. "But I'm on my best behavior now."
Bella continued to gaze at me expectantly. Whether she was waiting for me to do something or for her ability to speak to return, I wasn't quite sure. My proximity didn't seem to be affecting her in a negative way, but I leaned back ever so slightly, just in case. I continued waiting for her to respond, verbally or nonverbally, either was acceptable. But she simply continued staring with a faintly troubled brow. What an inconvenience my inability to hear her thoughts was.
"I'm not thirsty today, honestly," I joked and winked in an attempt to lighten the mood, even though there were few days when my throat had been less scorched raw than it was now. Belatedly, I realized that the last time this had happened, I'd made a joke about my humanity, and that had turned out horribly. What had I done? Was I really so terrible at learning from my mistakes?
But instead of the tell tale warning of quickening breath and pounding pulse, I heard the most beautiful sound in the world: my angel's laugh.
Kay, next part edited. I was vacationing in Portland for a bit, so I found the time to finish this. Goodness. A month between updates. I'm quite slow, eh?