Chapter Four – The Dead Girl

CO-WRITTEN by edwardnbella4eva09

Beta'd by Lola84 (her main profile is on Twilighted).

Special thanks to Timunderwood9 for the amazing advice. =]

"Thirty minutes later, on the dot, the front door was opened..."f


CHAPTER Four

Bella's POV

The first person to walk through the doorway was a lean, attractive man with dark blonde hair and more mature features than the other two men who followed. I recognized the first to be the leader of the family, Carlisle Cullen. He was the most compassionate of all the family members, as well as the oldest. I remembered the first time I had heard him speak during my first few days of observing the family:

"Edward! How could you? Apart from Carlisle, you are the oldest of us all, and the most controlled. Look at what you did! How could you ever do such a thing? To us, to your family, even to those humans?!" Rosalie spat at Edward as soon as she had heard what happened.

"Rosalie, stop. He feels bad enough as it is without you going at him. Please, respect his feelings. I know what he did was upsetting and isn't easy to overlook, but you have to consider his feelings." Carlisle urged his eldest daughter.

Next inside was a wiry yet muscular boy with honey blond hair hanging over his eyes. I knew his features well, as I had watched the daily activities of him and his family for the past eight weeks. However, he had one feature I hadn't noticed before—at this distance, it stood out by far the most of everything about him. His skin was ravaged by scars all along his exposed neck and jaw. They looked like overlapping half-crescent moons covering his alabaster skin. The very sight of them made me tense up automatically, though I knew him to be a gentle man who would never harm me. Well, unless the Cullen men weren't so happy about me encroaching on their territory. Jasper was the empath; he was the one who could always feel my intruding emotions that he knew did not belong to any of his family—something that caused him to be endlessly confused. He was together with Alice.

Following Jasper was a bulky, muscular man with dark, curly brown hair. A large dimpled smile adorned his face. This burly, jolly one – his name was Emmett – was Rosalie's man. As far as I could tell, he didn't have a special gift, but he could always make people happy. That skill had been particularly useful over the last couple of months when, due to the bleakness of the situation, the family needed it most.

Nervously, I watched the group come in. I was pondering what to say to them and what they would say to me. Yes, the women accepted me and weren't angry—but what about the men? What if they get the girls to change their minds? What if they all hate me? What if they're angry with me for allI'vedone? Will they hurt me?

"Who's that?" Emmett asked, staring curiously at me. I noticed Carlisle pass a knowing look to Esme, but he himself looked timid and remorseful.

I took in a shaky breath, though the air did nothing. My dead heart was imaginarily beating rapidly, my nonexistent pulse quickening. My insides were full of butterflies and jello and it made me feel sick and wobbly.

"Emmett, Jasper, Carlisle—this is the newest addition to our family. Besides Carlisle, you both have met her before. Her name is Bella Swan." Esme smiled, placing a comforting hand on my shoulder.

"B-bella?" Emmett stuttered, "But, the only Bella Swan I've known died back when Edward....y'know..." He trailed off.

"Bella? Isabella Swan? The chief's daughter? But—how? Emmett and Alice were all there—she didn't make it...this must be someone else. I don't remember ever seeing this girl." Jasper answered carefully.

Esme looked unsurely at me, and I nodded my head in encouragement.

"Why don't we all go sit in the dining room to discuss this?" Esme asked, making her way to the large wooden table without waiting for reply.

"C'mon, Bella, Sit with me!" Alice exclaimed excitedly, dragging me quickly after Esme.

"Alice!" Rosalie hissed. "Let the poor girl go!"

Alice shot her a glare, her tone significant and her lip pouting at me, "She doesn't mind, do youBella?"

"No, that's, uh...fine." I smiled weakly, still panicking over what was going to happen next.

Carlisle, Emmett, and Jasper soon joined us at the table.

"Bella! Meet Jazzy, my husband!" Alice suddenly exclaimed, pushing her chair and motioning between us. "Jazzy, meet Bella!"

"Uh, hi..." I said hesitantly, giving him a small smile, which he returned.

"Hello." was his equally awkward reply.

To the right of me I felt Rosalie shift in her seat so I turned to look at her. "Bella, meet my husband Emmett. Emmett, this is my friend Bella." She smiled as we nodded to each other politely.

I hadn't expected to start out with introductions, but I found myself happy they were doing so, as it was nice to have some civil conversation with them before they forcibly tossed me from their lives forever.

A man cleared his throat, obviously an act to get our attention since it served no other purpose. It must have been a habit picked up from being around humans. I turned towards the sound, meeting the topaz eyes of the family's father figure.

"Hello, Bella. It's very nice to meet you, though I am eternally sorry for the circumstances under which we have been brought together..." He trailed off, giving me a meaningful gaze. "My name is Carlisle, and I'm the head of this family." He smiled.

"It's very nice to meet you, sir."

"No, please, call me Carlisle."

I smiled, repeating aloud the name—"Okay, Carlisle."

"Bella, would you like to tell them your story, or should I?" Esme asked sweetly. As much as I didn't want the men to have to hear the story, taking the risk that they would forever hate me, I knew I had to tell them myself.

"No, I think I can do it." My lips curved upwards weakly, but I gained confidence with the realization that Carlisle already knew at least a part of my story, as Esme had been on the phone with him and most likely explained her reasoning for asking Edward not to come straight home. I inferred this from the caring looks he was giving me and the knowing words he'd already said.

If it were really true—if Carlisle had already decided he approved of me, then how much harder would it be for Emmett and Jasper to do the same? Besides, Alice and Rosalie were married to them, so they should have some influence on their opinions. Or, at least, I hoped so.

Aren't they way too young to be married, though?!

"Well, as you already know, my name is Bella. Eight weeks ago was my first day of school. I had Biology after lunch—the same class as your son Edward. He seemed to be very attracted to my...uh...the scent of my blood....and he...well...you know that part of the story. After he...finished with the class, he bit me. He would have killed me, too, if Alice and Emmett hadn't come in right then." I paused, motioning to each of them in turn. "Emmett pulled him off of me and managed to keep him away. Alice checked for survivors, but I stopped breathing and closed my eyes because I didn't know what would happen if she knew. Most of my blood was gone then, so it would have seemed as if I'd died—there was too much going on for any of the three to realize my heart was still lightly beating." I paused, deciding what to say next. I noticed both Emmett's and Jasper's faces were filled with shock. Carlisle, too, was staring at me intently.

"I was taken to the hospital and declared dead when my heart stopped beating, though I was just acting. I was still so confused trying to figure out what I had become that I was able to use those feelings to override my powerful feelings of desire for their....their blood." I winced, thinking about the possibility of losing control and hurting Charlie—or anyone else, for that matter. "The doctors didn't understand my death; they said it was one of the strangest cases they'd ever seen. Instead of deteriorating, my body seemed to be improving. I lost my color and my pulse weakened, but my body became healthier. They thought the case seemed similar to that of someone who had died from the cold; their pulse slowly stops beating until the very end, when the blood suddenly bursts at their heart, sending a pulse of heat through their bodies before they die. Of course, there was no way I could have frozen to death. They discussed other theories, too, and wanted to do tests on me, but Charlie—my dad—was able to use his status as police chief to let me "rest peacefully". I was buried in Forks Cemetery, still alive—or whatever it is we are—and still acting. I broke out of my coffin during the night and crawled through the ground out into the forest. I went hunting and came across your family's scent, which I followed to your old home. I borrowed your car—I hope you don't mind—" I quickly added, worried that would upset them. My nerves increased as I realized I would have to relay my story of stalking them now.

Feeling an intense wave of calmness and confidence shoot through my body, I suddenly stopped fearing their reaction and felt myself begin to be able to tell my story fully without worry.

"I came here to Alaska, following your scent. I didn't know if you were good or bad; the first impression I received from you didn't exactly ease my worrying. I needed answers, but I didn't know if it would be dangerous to confront you. I listened in to your home to determine the character of your family, and learned that you're good people who made a mistake. Though, it took seven weeks of observation after my first week of becoming what we are to decide this. When you boys left for your hunting trip, I thought it was the best opportunity to confront your family with the least possibility for you to hurt me. And, well, now we're here." I ended my tale, smiling cautiously. I wondered where this sudden newfound confidence came from—not that I didn't like it.

That's when I remembered Jasper—he had the ability to influence other's emotions. That's probably what happened to me; I certainly wouldn't normally have that kind of confidence. I didn't exactly like my emotions being toyed with, but I suppose it was done with good intentions. I decided I should send Jasper a grateful smile, anyway.

When I looked up to do just that, I saw that both his and Emmett's faces were full of shock and sadness—Carlisle's too. Even Esme, Rose, and Alice looked sad and they had already heard my story once before.

No one said anything. The boys continued to look at me with the same expression; the girls were at a loss as to what to say. What do you really say to that? I decided it would be best if I talked next, taking the weight of what to say off of their shoulders.

"So, uh, Esme, Rose, and Alice offered for me to stay here. I hope you don't mind..." I trailed off nervously. They didn't seem mad, but people's moods can be unexpected.

Another wave of confidence shot through me, and I instantly looked up to meet Jasper's eyes. His gaze was remorseful, as though it were him who had done this to me, rather than his brother.

"It's not your fault, Jasper—and you couldn't have done anything about it. Even if you did feel his emotions, you trusted him enough not to do what he did. There's no reason to feel sorry for that. Yes, lives were lost, but there's nothing we can do about it now. It's not your fault you are what you are, and you shouldn't punish yourself for his slip up. Yes, you should definitely train yourself more before you're around humans again, or at least, he should, but really—you need to stop blaming yourself. I know you've been taking the guilt on yourself—everyone has been doing that, actually; blaming themselves for this. But the fact of the matter is we can't change the past—we can only change the future." I explained optimistically, ending my quiet speech to Jasper. However, it seemed he wasn't the only one listening. All six faces of those in the room were looking at me, eyes full of awe. I cringed away from the attention. Jasper noticed and calmed me; I sent him a wave of gratefulness—testing out his gift. He seemed to nod in acknowledgment.

--x--

The day passed comfortably after that. The Cullens gradually became more comfortable around me and acted less guilty. I was thankful I wasn't being pitied so much, as I found it more irritating than anything else, though I knew it was only from good intentions.

They tossed around random stories about things that had happened to each of them in their lives together so far and I found myself laughing uncontrollably with them. I hadn't felt so happy in so long—if ever. I never fit in anywhere; I was always the odd one out, but I finally felt at home.

Even though they were all very welcoming and gracious, I could still tell that they were still somewhat cautious around me. I had a feeling it was because they thought that I had yet come to terms with my new life and everything that I had lost: my family, my friends—few as there were—and just my normal, human life. But what they didn't realize was that I had already thought all of this through. I knew what I had lost, and I knew upon whose shoulders the blame should be placed, and it definitely wasn't any of these Cullens. Alice and Emmett had tried to stop Edward in biology. Alice saw what was going to happen through her visions, Emmett understood and followed her. They tried as hard as they could to stop it. If Rosalie had known, I had no doubt she would've tried to save me from this life, too. If Jasper hadn't been affected so deeply by the bloodlust, I'm sure when he felt Edward's emotions he would have come running as well. Esme already loves me dearly; she has already told me about what happened to her little baby and why she's so maternal now. I could never hate her for what happened to me. Carlisle, too, is a good man like the rest, and he has vowed never to change anyone who wasn't dying. This would go against everything he stands for. I know it's none of their faults; they're all good people.

However, that couldn't be said about everyone in their family. No, I knew who was to blame for this half-life. It was the one Cullen who, as of this moment, was nowhere to be seen. Edward Cullen.

It was with all of these thoughts running through my mind that I didn't seem to realize I was quickly closing in on the marble staircase that led down to the main floor. For some reason, even with all the extra space in my head, it just didn't register. Thus, before I could snap out of my musings, I suddenly found myself falling face first down the stairs, landing flat on my stomach with a huge boom! at the bottom. Figures; I become insanely beautiful, nearly indestructible, and yet I still manage to be a klutz.

That's when I heard the loudest, most booming laughter I'd ever heard in my life. I was positive that if I were human I would have gone deaf from its volume.

I looked up from where I was laying idly on the floor to see Emmett's massive body hovering over me.

"OH. MY. WORD." he exclaimed in between his fits of laughter. "How in the WORLD did you manage to do that? I have never ONCE seen a vampire even stumble. Yet you manage to fall down a whole flight of stairs!" He laughed rambunctiously, the roaring sound bursting from his mouth vociferously, deeming him unable to continue his taunting speech.

Embarrassed as I was, I couldn't help but feel elated by Emmett's laughter. Even he had been cautious around me over these past few days, and it felt good to see him so carefree in my presence.

I swiftly rose from the floor and realized I had some kind of white powder all over myself. Emmett seemed to notice this at the same time as me. I watched as he looked up towards the stairs and was sent into yet another fit of laughter. I curiously followed his gaze. My body fell rigid in horror as I realized two things… one, there were huge chunks missing from various sections of the stairs; two, the white dust that I was covered in was those missing parts, ground into fine powder-like particles under my strength. Esme was going to kill me. If I can even be killed. I was really beginning to like it here, too.

I was about ready to die from terror, shock and embarrassment. Emmett, of course, couldn't stop himself from making it even worse.

"Hey, look everyone! I found the only clumsy vampire in existence!" he boomed, grinning boisterously. My anger flared up, but just I was about to pounce, his next words stopped me. "It's okay, sis, we all knew you were a little special from the get-go."

Sis. He had called me sis. I felt the prickle behind my eyes of the tears that would never fall at that one, little word. I would have expected it from Alice, or even Rosalie, but to hear it come from Emmett made me feel like I belonged even more. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to connect with the male Cullens the way I had with the girls. I then realized that I just had to appeal to their different styles.

Well, I thought to myself, one down, two to go. Let's just hope this stairs incident doesn't do any damage to my relationship with Esme.

I decided that I could really use some alone time in my new room. I passed by the bathroom on my way, and I began to wonder something. Why do they have toilets in their bathrooms? It's not like they need them. How often do humans really come over? I suppose if they did want to resell it, potential buyers would be a little confused as to how a house could be lacking toilets. Grand Alaskan home, large three story with five+ bedrooms and five bathrooms—no toilets.

Speaking of toilets, why haven't I had my period yet? I'm, well, six weeks late. And I know I'm not pregnant—I'm still a virgin! Maybe vampires give birth differently? Hopefully however it happens for them, it's a lot less painful. Those pregnancy videos they showed in school have scarred me for life. Though, I'm not sure if I wanted kids anyways.

"Hey, Bella! Come on! Let's play dress up! I just have to see what colors look best on you!" I heard Alice's voice carry down easily from the floor above me. And I had thought I was going to be getting some quiet time; perhaps I should have been more forceful when I had said I wanted to be alone. Somehow, I think the pixie of a girl would've disregarded what I said and done what she wanted to do, anyways.

After yet another round of "Bella Barbie" I walked back down to the main level alongside Alice. She had decided that sapphire was my best color, so I donned a dark blue baby tee and a pair of light blue skinny jeans. My feet, too, received a new covering; vinyl flats the same shade as the ill-fitting top. Since when is clothing supposed to look like a second skin? All in all, my finished ensemble made me look like one giant blueberry. I thought about telling her that, but I didn't. I wouldn't want to hurt her feelings. Strangely, she seemed to know what I had been thinking as she passed me an icy glare, stating "That juicy couture tee is beautiful. Don't you dare insult it! You look amazing in it, and I've taken courses in fashion so I know this!"

Rolling my eyes with my back turned, I ignored the outburst. Though I did have to wonder where she fit in the fashion course with school, but I suppose with our intelligence she could have fit in online classes or night school easily.

"Bella, dear, how would like to help me with some painting? I'd like to make some pieces for our home to make it homier and personalized." She smiled fondly.

"Oh, I don't think I can paint," was my honest response. Painting or drawing has never been my forte. Reading and writing have always been more my thing.

"It really isn't very difficult. I feel like some abstract pieces would really accent the kitchen's west wall by the table. I was thinking that three portraits would be nice. All you really have to do is dip your brush into the paint and make any sort of design that inspires you." Esme smiled lovingly. I couldn't help but beam back and eagerly accept her offer—even if I thought my painting would be the worst piece of art she had ever seen in her life.

In no time, Esme and I were lying on the basement floor, a large piece of white cloth beneath us, splashing paint on canvas and laughing like there's no tomorrow. They say children laugh on average four hundred times a day, but adults only fifteen. We need more fun in our lives! My painting was a slop of black paint spread thinly across the page as a large circle. I had a few squiggles of red on two of the sides, and slashed white paint in one corner. Six bright orange dots colored the dark page, illuminating it. I had thin wiry lines of green and brown coiling around the edges and proceeding to the centre like vines. It wasn't looking half bad, though I couldn't say it looked like much. Perhaps with Esme's house I could get better at art.

"So, Esme, how did you become...what we are?" I questioned hesitantly, unsure if this was an appropriate question to ask.

"When I was sixteen I climbed up a tree, but I fell out. My parents rushed me to the hospital and I was treated by Carlisle—well, Dr. Cullen at the time. It was his last month in town, though, so I didn't get to see him again." She sighed, but continued. "When I was a few years older—when all of my friends were married—my father pressured me to get married to his friend's son. My father thought the man had a good future ahead of him, but I never actually loved the man. His name was Charles Evenson. When we were married, though, I learned that he was much different at home than in public. He began to abuse me. When he left to fight in the army I was overjoyed, but all too soon he came home. Shortly after that I found out I was pregnant; I decided to run away. I didn't want my baby to have to live the same way I was living. Unfortunately, my little boy died just a few days after he was born of a lung infection. He was all I had left. I jumped off the cliff outside town. Carlisle was there, though, and he remembered me from years before when he had treated me. He didn't want me to die, so he saved me. I've never been happier." Esme grinned.

I sat stunned. How could I think my life was bad just because I had to grow up fast, had little friends, and my family was split up? This poor woman! Pretty much forced to marry, then abused, and finally run away with her child only to have him die on her. How could she deal with that?! I unconsciously stretched over, immediately pulling her into a firm grasp. Her petite body clung to mine as we embraced.

"I still miss him, you know. I wonder what his first word would have been. When he'd take his first steps, when he'd grow out of his cloth diapers. I wondered if his hair would be curly or straight and if he'd prefer reading or arithmetic. I wonder if he'd ever ask about his father. I wondered if his father would ever meet him—or my parents, for that matter. I wondered what his hobbies and pastimes would be, what types of mischief he'd get into, who the first girl he liked would be, who he'd marry, if I'd have grandchildren—and if I did, what they would look like. Oh, Bella, I miss him so much! I can't believe all of that could be just taken from him, from me, just like that! Life isn't fair." She whispered sadly, her body wracking in sobs on my shoulder. I tried to comfort her best I could. I wanted to ask her why she and Carlisle hadn't had kids, but I didn't think now was an appropriate time for such a question. Instead, I settled for soothing the woman who was so quickly becoming a maternal figure to me—more so than Renée ever was. What did she look like again? Brown hair, brown eyes, right? My thoughts on her seem rather hazy….I wonder why? Shouldn't they be getting stronger since I have this improved mind?

Esme pushed herself off of me quickly. "I'm so sorry, dear. I never meant to get like that on you." She told me embarrassedly, her eyes cast downward.

"Nonsense, Esme. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, or someone to talk to, I'm here for you."

She smiled back—one of those true smiles that you know comes from the heart. "Thank you, Bella. You know, I already love you like a daughter. I was never able to have kids of my own, but those in this house I consider my own blood—and you're one of them."

Her expression was true and meaningful; my body filled with warmth. She wanted me, she loved me—already! I couldn't wipe the beam off my face.

So, she mustn't be able to have children. There must have been complications after birthing her first child. She could always have adopted, however. Though I suppose that might be hard if we're temped by human blood. What about adopting vampire children? I haven't seen any yet, but they're obviously out there. But—if vampires have children, are they vampires? Or are they human since they have yet to be bitten? I'll have to remember to ask about that later.

"BELLIE!! Come hunting with your big brother Emmie now!!" A voice boomed down the stairs, not bothering to lower it even though our hearing was perfect and I could have heard him, in his normal voice, much farther away from his position on the half-crushed stairs.

Wait….they're fine now. Did they really fix it so quickly? I completely forgot about that! Esme wasn't even upset! What did I ever do to deserve such a wonderful family? I'll have to find a way to repay them somehow.

One day, when my thirst is finally under control—like Carlisle's—I'll visit my parents once again and tell them all about my family. What will I tell them, though, to hide what I've become? Why I left them? Why I look like I do now? I'm sure one of the Cullens will have some ideas. I just have to ask.

--x--

After I got home from hunting, I realized that I had yet to talk, and I mean really talk, to Jasper. We exchanged a few pleasantries here and there, but other than those rare occasions he was always so quiet and reserved. He tended to blend into the background compared to the others' eccentric behavior. He truly reminded me of myself – shy and introverted.

As I passed the living room on my way into the house I saw Jasper sitting on the couch reading; I saw my chance and went for it. I was nervous to speak to him—all of those scars were intimidating— but I was determined not to let that show through.

I should have known that, of course, it would be impossible to keep my feelings from Jasper.

"What's going on, Bella? Why are you so nervous?" he asked, looking up from his book.

I slowly made my way over and sat down next to him on the couch. No turning back now.

"Well, I, uhm, was just thinking about how we haven't really had much of a chance to talk..." I trailed off. I looked down to the book that was now closed and resting on his lap. Pride and Prejudice. It was one of my favorite books from when I was human.

"You like Jane Austen?" I asked, shocked.

"It's alright. I prefer books on war, but she isn't half bad." he laughed.

Pulled in by his comment, I plopped myself down for some more conversation. Hours later, I found myself still in Jasper's study surrounded by his enormous reading collection.

"How about this one?" he asked, holding up a near brand-new copy of a book I knew well; though my copy was much more battered.

"Oh, I love Wuthering Heights! It's one of my all-time favorites!" I gushed, staring at the beautiful piece of reading material. It was one of the few items in this large house that actually screamed home at me.

"Really? You like this book? It was horrible!" Jasper cringed, staring at me in horror.

"Yes! How could you possibly not like it?!" I demanded crossly. Jasper and I had been discussing books for hours ever since Emmett and my hunting trip—which was rather interesting. I swear he knocked down a whole sector of the forest trying to show off—and goofing around. At least it made the stairs incident look less horrible.

It was fun hunting with him, though. Much better than doing it alone. I also didn't have to worry about accidently coming across a human as I had before, because I knew Emmett and his massive muscles could easily stop my weak figure. Yes, I was much stronger now than as a human, but nothing compared to Emmett. Especially now that the small amount of human blood left in me after the change had nearly all been used. So much for incredible 'newborn' strength.

"It's so frustrating! Catherine and Heathcliff should've just gotten together rather than have all the drama happen and making their lives, and everyone's lives around them, miserable. As unkind as Edgar was to Heathcliff, I would rather Catherine have been with him and happy—even if it meant making Heathcliff unhappy. At least then she could make one of the men who loved her pleased. But, no, she chose social ambition over her true love, thus causing nothing but problems. Who would want to read a book like that?" He asked incredulously.

"Well, at least it's realistic. Most books and their fairy-tale happy ending are anything but." I muttered lowly.

Jasper looked as though he were about to reply when his face suddenly lit up. "Oh! Have you read 1984?" He eagerly asked.

I sighed; from what I had learned over the past few hours, Jasper was a major history junkie. If there was anything that could force his hand to pick up a book, it would be a history-related title. Truly, I swear he thought he lived through the last couple centuries of history by the heated way he'd talk about different events. He seemed to have a strong patriotism for the confederates—when I told him I was 100% for the Yankees, I swear if the phrase "if looks could kill" were true, it would even kill an already-dead vampire—and that's saying something.

"Are you guys going to be discussing that forever, or will one of you find the time to join us?" A voice rang from the doorway.

"Nope, Bella will be by your side in about 24.7 seconds." The other voice sang.

"What would you like, Rosalie?" I asked the first voice, who was still out of view from my position in Jasper's alcove containing his small library and study area.

"I was wondering if you'd like to look at the cars with me and just hang out. You've been with Jasper in there for nearly a day!" Her voice called.

Had it really been that long? It seemed so much shorter! Though I do remember the sun falling, and then rising again. Shouldn't I have at least noticed the time pass? It seemed so much longer just a few days ago that I had never set foot in this house.

"I'm sorry! I didn't realize! Of course I'll join you!" I called, quickly jumping up to join her. "See you, Jasper! That was a lot of fun—we should do it again sometime!" I beamed, following Rose towards the garage. However, I noticed one of us was missing.

"Hey, Alice, aren't you coming?" I called to her.

"No…you've kept Jazzy from me for much too long…" she smiled coyly. From the ornate fluorescent light I could see her shadow pounce towards the direction where Jasper would be. I walked quicker with Rosalie towards the garage.

Beside me, a chime-like laugh broke me out of my thoughts. "You look live you've seen a ghost, Bella!" Rosalie choked.

I frowned unhappily. Did she have to laugh at my expense? "I, uh, I didn't, I mean…it's not, or, I don't—" I stuttered, trying to form a coherent sentence. She waved me off.

"No, it's alright, but you'll have to get used to it. You can't be modest about sex in a house full of vampires. Especially with Emmett and I in it, I'd say we're the most vocal, and the roughest…." She trailed off proudly, winking ostentatiously. My cheeks burned crimson.

…or, I thought they did. Then I learned it was my imagination creating false images—but, same idea, right?

"Well, that's, uh…that's…nice?" I stated questionably. How does someone reply to that?

"Yeah, it certainly is nice…" Her husky voice breathed alluringly, causing my eyes to widen like a sick puppy.

Her hands shot up placatingly, "Fine, fine, I'll stop."

I decided to switch the subject quickly. Though she told me she wouldn't continue, the amused smirk on her face told me otherwise. "So, Rosalie, what are we going to be doing in the garage?"

She huffed, "You can stop calling me Rosalie! That's much too long of a name—well, unless you're Edward—he can choke on it. But you can call me Rose; it's much shorter, and—well—warmer." She smiled charmingly.

"Ok… Rose." I chimed, though what she just said kept replaying in my mind. 'Well, unless you're Edward—he can choke on it.'

We quickly reached the garage and Rose began working on the Volvo; apparently, they decided to fix it up since it was here; now that they know who exactly it belonged to and what happened to it, they thought there was no better time than the present to use it again.

According to Rose, this was Edward's car.

She was showing me how to tune the engine, replace tires, and all that fancy stuff that made cars run like a knife on butter. Unfortunately, even with my vampire capabilities, everything seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Perhaps because I had absolutely no idea anything about cars. Or, more likely, because I had an aversion to this certain car. My mind was plagued with memories of a hazy Edward, glaring at me. Murdering my classmates. Trying to kill me.

"Uhm, Rosalie…" I began hesitantly. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to ask, but I knew I had a lot of questions. I didn't know who better to ask than Rosalie.

She shot me a glare.

"Oh, I mean, Rose, sorry!" I corrected myself.

She smiled sweetly, "Yes Bella?"

"I was just, uh, just wondering…what is Edward normally like? Is he nice? Or really mean? Has he killed like that before? Does he even follow your diet? Does he really care about humans? Is he a family person, or does he always keep to himself? I know I've been watching you guys, but from your view—what has he been like since the incident back in Forks? Does he ever plan on doing something to make up for what he did—if it's even possible? What would he do if he knew he didn't kill me—that I'm still alive? Would he be angry? Do you think he'll try to hurt me? Is he normally aggressive?" I questioned quickly, the questions shooting off my tongue like rounds from a .44 caliber gun.

"Slow down, there!" She exclaimed. "Well, I'll tell you all you want to know. When I was first changed—after my fiancé and his friends raped me and left me for death—" she growled angrily, and I sucked in a gasp. How could I ever possibly think my life had been—is—nothing but a walk in the park! I can't believe it—Rosalie! How could someone ever do that?!

"Edward was already there. Carlisle changed him because of some flu." She spat. "Esme was already with him. Carlisle hoped that I'd make a good mate for Edward. Of course, the first time I met him all he'd do is glare at me and say but a word. He showed absolutely no interest in me—no man had ever done that to me before—and he treated me like I was worthless." She growled.

"Years passed without him giving me a second glance. Alice and Jasper luckily joined and provided me some more people to actually talk to—Edward has always been cold and brooding. He thinks of himself as a monster because of what he is," she laughed; a cold, shrill laugh. "He's only a monster because he makes himself that way." Her eyes flashed and I instinctively moved backwards. "I found Emmett being mauled by a bear—nearly dead—and carried him to Carlisle. I knew I couldn't do it myself, though how I managed to carry him all the way to help with his blood smelling so strong is a puzzle to me. I guess it must be because of what I saw him as; he had the same curly hair and dimples as my friend's son had. I always wanted the perfect little family with the gorgeous husband, rich house, large, exclusive social circle, and beautiful little children running around. Royce never gave me that—I killed him before he ever had the chance to give children to anyone. But, seeing Emmett, all I could think of was my friend's son and how much I wanted her life; a loving husband, a sweet little son. Something I never got." She growled. "I never wanted to be a vampire. No one ever game me the option. Sometimes, I just hate what we are so much. Is it so horrible to just want normalcy?" She sighed.

"I was happy with Emmett—am happy with him. He's the best thing that ever happened to me." Her smile grew wistful and I enjoyed being able to watch her happily reminisce. "Oh—right—Edward." She chided herself, coming back to present.

"He loves the family and is very loyal to us. He uses his gift—which, he can read minds—and—" she began, but I lost track when she said 'he can read minds'. Could he read my mind? What would he think of everything that's been going on in my head since the first day I saw him? Why didn't he tell his family I was out there, and changed? Could he really despise me that much? Or was his attention elsewhere with him 'moping', as Rose would say?

"—apparently a little while after he first changed he became rebellious and killed many people—but they were all bad; murderers, rapists and such. He read their thoughts and killed only the guilty ones. Still, he has the most blood on his hands of all us, besides Jasper." I quirked my eyebrow confusedly. Jasper's worse than Edward? I'll have to ask him about that.

"He realized murdering is wrong, no matter what kind of people you do it too, and he came back to the family. Apparently he couldn't upset Carlisle so he adjusted to our diet." She stated bitterly, wrinkling her nose. "He isn't really very interesting. He likes to play morbid, angry, and morose music on his piano. He's short tempered and I swear he's bipolar. He sometimes reads, but not as much as Jasper or Carlisle do. He gets along with Emmett and Alice best out of everyone, though I don't understand how they can tolerate him." She growled, putting extra strength into flattening out a dent, causing a bigger one to form in the opposite direction.

"He usually keeps to himself. He smiles occasionally, and laughs once in a blue moon. He never talks about his human life, and he rarely says anything about his feelings now. It's irritating, but I'd rather that than to hear his voice more than I already have to." She grumbled. "Oh, and did you see him in school that first day? All the girls think he's God's gift to man. Oh, please. They just like him because he's the only one of us who's still single. And, mind you, he plans on staying that way. I swear he believes cooties are real or something by the way he avoids any woman he's ever met. Well, besides those in his family. You should've seen Tanya! She lives here—actually; I think she visited within the last eight weeks, maybe you heard her? Anyways, she's gorgeous. Not as much as me, of course, but still. Long, voluminous strawberry-blonde hair, a pretty face, and not a bad body…she practically throws herself at him and he completely ignores her. I swear if he's not gay he has some disease or mental problem that prevents him from having proper male hormones." She scoffed. "I wonder if he'll ignore you…" Rose began to ponder. "I doubt it. You'd never throw yourself at him—not that excuse of a man! If anything, you should be there screaming your lungs off at him than falling in love with his oh-so-perfect looks," she finished sarcastically.

"He won't be able to avoid you—I'm sure you'll be the one avoiding him. I hope you give him hell—the idiot deserves it. Killing a whole class of humans! Can you believe it?! Sure, maybe one I could understand—if out of the public eye—but a whole class, in the middle of a populated school? That boy is mad! I swear if Carlisle and Esme weren't watching over him like a hawk I'd knock his pitiful body all the way from here to Italy!" She vowed angrily under her breath. "Then again, even if I did he wouldn't care. The boy's got the whole "oh-woe-is-me-I'm-such-a-monster" attitude going on."

Her wrench smashed the tire, popping it. A curse slipped lowly from her lips. "How could he, you know? He forced our entire family to move when we still had two years left there; we can't go back there for a long time because our family will be remembered for their sudden fleeing of the scene, and how Edward just so happened to survive the massacre yet no one has seen him since. Now it'll be centuries before we can return—and I really liked Forks. Plus, the Volturi may hear about it! Can you imagine?! I suppose you don't know what they are, but they're basically our government. We have our own rules—or, well, one really: don't expose what we are. Edward broke that rule. He put our whole family in danger of the Volturi wrath! And don't even get me started on all the lives lost! Yes, they might have just been humans, but they were still lives! And look at you—forced to become one of us!" She popped another tire. "I swear, the minute he steps his foot into this—"

"ROSALIE! You will not attack Edward! STOP THINKING ABOUT THAT!" A pixie voice yelled from upstairs. I gaped at Rosalie.

"Attack? You'd attack your own brother?" I gasped.

"He deserves it." She muttered. What if I screw up? Will she want to hurt me too? "Serves him right for being such a—"

"ROSE! BELLA! COME ON! FOOTBALL!" a loud voice boomed from the house. I turned my face questionably towards Rose, whose face lit up.

"Em, Jazz and I keep track of the humans' football games. It's actually pretty interesting—Alice normally comes, too, but she reads her fashion magazines. Carlisle and Esme usually have some alone time together, and, well, Edward used to watch. He was never as into it as Em, Jazz or I though." She shrugged, gracefully lifting herself up off the cement floor, gesturing for me to follow.

--x--

The game was alright; I'd never found sports overly interesting—it was always Charlie's forté. Charlie, the father I barely got to know and might never see again…

Emmett and Rosalie were hilarious, though. Whenever the team they were rooting for scored, they jumped up from the couch and burst into applause. They'd yell at the screen if it were losing. I swear a meteor could hit the house and they wouldn't have even noticed. Jasper wasn't quite as rambunctious as the other two, but he did carry a huge grin when the team was doing well and a large scowl when it wasn't.

I didn't get to see the end, though, as Alice excitedly told me that my laptop was in. Apparently, it was supposed to be in the day before but there were slight problems, and the company was dreadfully sorry. They offered to absolutely anything to make it up the Cullens. I couldn't help but wonder what kind of connections these people had in order to get the company to react like that, but Jasper's smug expression seemed to say plenty.

It was a lime green inspiron—Alice told me I'd be happiest with that color and make. From what I know so far, you never bet against Alice, so I suppose she's right.

She gave me a pile of iTunes cards, along with an iPod, and told me to go crazy. She changed my desktop background to a picture of three Louis Vutton models showing off their new line, changed the color theme of the computer to pink, made Vogue my homepage, and then continued to change miscellaneous details—I was becoming unsure whether the computer was more for me or for her. I definitely didn't mind, though. It was way too much for them to buy me an iPod, let alone a whole computer!

Alice and I continued to play on it all night until the sun came up. I tried out msn for the first time in my life—it was fascinating! Truly, I've never cared much for computers, but when you're not allowed in school and have nothing better to do, it's actually rather fun. I even found a website where I could read books online—though Alice said reading a book from a screen would drive her crazy. I didn't mind it.

I researched the Forks newspaper—the massacre from eight weeks ago is still in the headlines. Checking the vast collection of newspapers over the weeks, it seems there hasn't been a week it wasn't on the front page. The most recent theory is this, "A junior attending the high school is thought to be the reason for the killings. He, along with his four other adopted siblings, left class that same day before EMTs arrived. Their whole family fled the state before they could be questioned. Carlisle Cullen, local doctor, reportedly told the hospital he was offered a job in Las Angeles that he couldn't pass up. He left in such a rush that he only managed a scrawled note before his entire family disappeared from public eye. After extensive research into LA hospitals, it seems Cullen was lying. More is to be looked at as to why exactly the family would do such a thing, but many think that their outcast status could be a major cause for it—"

I flipped through the article, and another, and another. Most were alike, though many had different theories. I noticed that a good friend of my dad's—Billy Black—had some rather unpleasant things to say about the Cullens. It's understandable, though, given the legends they have about our kind. It was no surprise that the Cullens were plastered in every newspaper—their fleeing did look mighty suspicious.

The articles also had quotes and excerpts from families of the deceased—Mike Newton, Angela Weber—both murdered. Their families are devastated. I'm with Rosalie on this—how could Edward do that?!

If I ever thought I could forgive him, I was wrong. Edward Cullen is a lousy waste of space who doesn't deserve to set foot on this planet.

--x--

It has been three days since I first introduced myself to this family, but it seems much longer. Already they're my surrogate family and I love them to pieces. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise what happened that horrible day eight weeks ago…

Could something so bad really be good, though? I lost everything to have nothing, and start life over pretty much without anyone. Now I'm doing okay, but am I really doing and better than I would've if this whole incident didn't happen? There's nothing but a pile of endless questions.

"Bella?" A voice called from the other room. I quickly followed it.

"Yes, Carlisle?"

"I had a few questions for you, and I was wondering if right now might be an all right time?"

"Sure—Alice was just showing me Dolce & Gabbana's newest collection of sunglasses, but I don't mind leaving." I smiled widely. I think my pair of sunglasses back home were picked up at the dollar store…

We walked together to his office, passing pleasantries between each other. As we made our way into his office and I got the full view of it for the first time, the comment I was about to say on my last hunting trip got stuck in my throat.

It was amazing. The back wall was a complete ceiling-to-floor window, just like all of the back walls in the rest of the house. The walls to my left and right were completely covered with shelves that were loaded with hundreds and hundreds of books, and by the looks of it most of them were extremely old. As Carlisle closed the door behind us, I turned to face him and saw that the entire wall facing me was strewn with beautiful paintings that I knew I could stare at for hours and still not get tired of their exquisiteness.

Carlisle walked past me and sat on top of an elegant wood desk, motioning for me to take a seat in one of the matching chairs that were scattered in front of him.

"So, Bella," he began, " I wanted to ask you something; it won't take very long. I know Emmett's bouncing off the walls waiting for you to play video games with him. But, I was wondering—some vampires have special gifts. You already know Alice can see the future, Jasper can feel and influence emotions, and Edward can read minds. When someone becomes a vampire, certain traits are intensified, and other abilities may arise. Esme's maternal instinct intensified, my compassion, Emmett's strength, Rosalie's tenaciousness, and Edward's musical ability. Alice's, Jasper's, and Edward's special abilities came from human traits, as well. Alice had premonitions as a human, Jasper was very charismatic, and Edward was always good at reading people. Now, have you noticed any special abilities?" He questioned.

I began to think. "I'm stronger, faster, and have more room to think…" I listed, but he informed me those were all traits vampires generically had. "I, um, well I…" I stuttered. I really had no idea.

"What were you good at as a human?" He prodded.

"Well…not much, really. I was good at cooking, I liked to read…." I trailed, racking my brain for ideas. "People said I was mature, perceptive, and responsible…I don't know how accurate those are…" I backtracked. I didn't really know if they were all true, and I certainly didn't want to seem pompous. Luckily, Carlisle just shook his head solemnly, pondering ideas.

"I'm not sure. It doesn't seem like you have special abilities, or else you would have noticed by now. However, I think the traits you listed were most likely all intensified. From your story of what happened after you were changed, and your thoughts on observing my family, you seem very intuitive, observant, and perceptive. That seems to be your most intensified traits, but I'm sure there's more." He smiled friendlily.

"Okay, well thank you." I replied graciously.

"So, Bella, what have you been thinking about life as a vampire, and of my family?" He questioned. However, Emmett's shouts to 'hurry up and get your butts down here to play' broke us out of our conversation. Chuckling lightly to ourselves, we made our way to the family room where the rest of the group was already seated.

I realized I hadn't changed my outfit in days—between talking to Jasper the entire first night, then hanging out with Alice and being dragged away by Carlisle before she had a chance to dress me, I hadn't had an opportunity to change. The clothes didn't look or smell dirty, though, and I found myself exceptionally happy that Alice hadn't had a chance to really look me over to observe my lack of care for my physical appearance.

Emmett had Nintendo 64 hooked up—apparently, it was one of his favorite game systems out there. We were all teaming up to play a round of Mario Party, though Carlisle had to leave for work. I was surprised he wasn't hanging low after such an event happened in Washington and that he wasn't scared of being recognized, but I suppose if he heard of people noticing the similarities the family would just move elsewhere.

Esme and I were on a team, opposing Alice's and Jasper's side as well as Rose's and Emmett's.

It was a great time for bonding; a really fun time in general—until Alice kept begging me to go upstairs to change.

"Hey, Bella, you really need to change now. I mean, really! What, are those clothes three days old now? Come on, Bella, hurry, we have to go! Actually, let's go hunting, and then you can get changed. If you're going to ruin the clothes you may as well as do it now before you put new ones on. Or, how about we go hunting and then go shopping out of state! I know a place run by vampires that we could go to! It'd be safe for you there! Please, please Bella, now!" She begged, tugging on my arm in attempt to drag me upstairs. Her small figure mixed with my still existent—yet minimal—newborn strength couldn't compare. I continued to oppose her, saying after the game I would change. Even though I didn't want to…

Yet, for some reason, she wouldn't stop trying to make me leave the room! I swear it was almost as though she just wanted me to leave. She almost seemed more interested in just getting me out of the house—or at least this section of it—than be actually changing, or hunting. "Bella, seriously, there's something I have to show you out back…" she begged, using all her strength to pull me, shooting the others pleading glances. They all looked undecided—about what, I don't know. Her begging grew more insistent. I was just about ready to give in to her pleas when I noticed a new scent.

I turned my head in the direction it was coming from. It seemed vaguely familiar, something I had smelled around the house and in the car for quite some time now. A hooded figure slowly walked through the door, sullenly stalking towards us. I watched, curiously, as Alice's pulling suddenly went slack. The figure seemed to get within a certain range of me and then in a flash it's head snapped up and it's black eyes pierced mine. They were the same cold, black eyes that penetrated mine right before my life was taken.

Edward Cullen.


A/N:

-----please check out my profile - i have a poll on there about which story of mine you're enjoying most, out of curiousity's sake! :)

.*.I changed this story so that Jasper wasn't helping get Edward out of Bio during the massacre. I realized that he'd be too tempted to drink the slaughtered humans than to get Edward out of there, especially since the blood lust Edward was feeling would overpower him. I tried to change all the parts in the story about Jasper being in that scene, but if I missed something, please let me know!

.*. You might be wondering about this line— "Esme was going to kill me. If I can even be killed. I was really beginning to like it here, too." Bella does not know vampires are immortal at this point. She assumes they die naturally, but from her body's transformations she's unsure if she can be killed, or if the only way for their kind to die is the way humans do naturally with old age.

.*. You might think that everything is peachy keen with Bella and the Cullens right now (exc Edward). That is not true. Bella is just adjusting to finally being accepted by them; she still has a lot to think about. Just because she seems to fit in with them now and everything going perfect does not mean it will remain that way.

.*. The volturi's rule is that you cannot expose yourselves. No one has come to the conclusion that the Cullens are vampires. Of course, this incident gives them a bad rep, but doesn't necessarily call volturi attention. Though the Cullens might want to do some more damage control...

Okay guys! So, this story is now being co-authored by my beta (former beta for this story, but she's still doing my others) edwardnbella4eva09. In place of her beta-ing this, someone new has stepped on the scene! Lola84 beta'd this; I met her over at Twilighted. She did an amazing job editing this (:

Attention MONSTER FROM MY NIGHTMARES and BLUE SKIES & WILTED DAFFODILS readers: I have not forgotten about you. Here's the low-down on what's happening:

MfmN: I am currently in the process of rewriting chapters 3 and 4, as they are way too close to SMs Twilight and it really does need to be changed. Ch.3 is rewritten, but I still have most of ch 4 to go. I have about 1000 words down for chapter 8, but I'd like to get rewriting/editing done first. Also, when those two chapters are done being rewritten, I have to change the dream sequence in chapter 7 to accommodate them. I promise you I will get this done quickly! I really want to have chapter eight out to you asap, so I'd say that I'll hopefully get editing done this week and chapter eight out next weekend [hopefully]. Thank you so much for you patience, guys! Something interesting (in my opinion) is happening in the next chapter, and it's also from EPOV – as I've had four readers ask for that, though I told a couple of them I wouldn't, I decided I will. (I already have credit going out to them in the a/n for that story).

BSWD: No, I have not forgotten about this story. I actually asked my beta to co-author TDG so I'd have more time to work on this. The whole chapter is planned, including what will happen in each of the remaining chapters, it's just a matter of getting it all down—especially since it's kind of a s low part of the story right now, mostly with fluff and build-up. Chapter 27 will be written before I post my next chapter of TDG (this story).Yes, I have started writing it. No, it isn't near ready to be posted yet. Though, any input would be amazing. I love discussing plot with people.