Before I put updating on hold to revise Chapter 2 for Twilighted, I wanted to give another update. I felt kinda bad for teasing you with the reveal and not the birthday surprise...

As always, special thanks to Capricorn75. Without her early support, it wouldn't be this good. (Well, good is subjective..so maybe it wouldn't be this readable.) I also want to give a special shout out to OhPleaseBiteMe...who came over from Twilighted to read more and came over to the forum and gave a shout out. And, to everyone who's been sticking with it...thanks. You know who you are and you better know how much I appreciate you. And if you don't...well..I APPRECIATE YOU! And, I can't remember if I've already thanked her publicly...but thanks to Pastiche Pen for reccing me in an A/N for If Love Could Light a Candle a few chapters ago. Gah. I just really want everyone to know that I absolutely love you all, even when I get too busy or tired to acknowledge you personally.

ANYWAY. Drop by the Twilighted forum for UKM. Drop by Twilighted to read revised Chapter 2 (which is really revised and extended EPOV from Chapter 1). Links are on my profile page.

I don't own Twilight or its characters--just the sass.


Chapter 8.

BPOV

There are two very important things to remember when you are working within the supernatural world. It becomes especially important when dealing with vampires. On one hand, supernatural beings follow a very strict set of rules within their species; present vampire company not excluded. On the other hand, when dealing with the unexplained it's safe to assume you will encounter the unexplainable.

Something—evolutionary, viral, supernatural, or divine—made Edward into the greatest predator the world has and will ever know. I'm supposed to be drawn to him. Or, lured, if you will. Everything about him was tailor made to draw me, and any other human, in. The sweet scent of his breath pulled me effortlessly closer to him. His velvety, low bravado called to me. Pale, pristine skin and carefully sculpted muscles caused me to lust after him. Allowing myself to be taken in by all these things, even if it was just a little, made me feel alive. Awakened. Years of training have taught me how to evade these predatory instincts. I put myself at incredible risk just by experiencing any of it.

That is where the unexplained comes in to play. I am not a predator. I have no idea how to catch a prey. Vampires come to me, not the other way around. Sure, I can stun one. With a little help, I can even kill one. But prey on one? Come on. Edward allowed my hands to move seductively up his arms. Edward didn't move my palm that rested on his thigh. There was not one single inclination that he was going to drain me right then. For a brief moment, the hunter was the hunted. Then, I freaked out.

He asked to see my mark. All the alarms my body was emanating became instantly louder. I could no longer ignore my own instinct: self preservation. Maybe I meant what I said; that I trusted him. It was why I trust him that finally allowed me to break free from his hypnotic hold on me. I have no idea. He looked eager, but remained patient, as I began to peel the bracelet from my arm. Then it hit me. That little thing called reason. And, there's one thing I can say about reason. It comes hard and fast; like I assumed Mike Newton would.

I pushed my bracelet back up to my mark and slid out of the booth. His face gave way to more emotions than an anime character as he finally settled on confusion. Pulling my jacket on, I held out my hand to him. Weary, probably from the energy that the last few minutes of touching had sapped from him, he ignored my hand. My arms crossed in front of me as he let himself out of the booth. You were dazzling me first, Cullen. I retreated to the door and he was several paces behind me. Maybe he had come to the same conclusion I did. Maybe he knows that we might just be the greatest danger the other has ever encountered. Yeah, right. Most likely, he feigned vulnerability. Best case scenario, he was incredibly full of himself. My already knowing his big secret was a blow to the ole vamp ego. I'm on to you, asshole.

He must have noticed the change in my demeanor, because he stopped once we got outside.

"Bella, have I done something to upset you?"

It would be easier if you would. Right now. Try to kill me. Hate humanity. Do something that tells me you are as arrogant as I want you to be. Anything.

"No," I sighed, "it was just getting intense."

"Were you afraid?"

"No," I turned to face him now.

"You should be."

"How do you know it's not you that should be afraid of me?" I told him I tracked vampires. Lured them with my scent. I alluded to witnessing vampire destruction. It was insulting for him to think I should be afraid of him.

"You said it yourself. You don't seek us to kill us," he raised his eyebrows in a way that made me feel small. That just pissed me off.

"Look, Cullen. I may not have vampire strength. Or speed. Or telepathic powers. But, I am able to shield myself from the powers I lack. Years of training have given me fighting instincts that could probably anticipate your every move; even if I couldn't quite catch you. And I do have some slightly superhuman qualities about me," I was pouting. I'd gone from wise adult to stomping child in about five minutes. I hate what he does to me.

He checked the street we had stopped walking down. It was practically deserted. The drunken Friday night activities were probably in full swing. Before I could fully process what I was seeing, he jumped up and grabbed a street sign from the pole we stood next to. He slowly closed the gap between us, staring into my brown eyes with his tawny ones. Without breaking eye contact, he crushed the sign. Turning Main Street into dust.

"Is that supposed to scare me?" Really? Some little vampire party trick? Please.

"Could your skull withstand it?" His words were devoid of any emotion.

"Do you want to know why I'm not afraid of you?"

"Yes, please. Enlighten me," he raised his voice, but it still sounded so welcoming.

"You never know what I'm going to do next," I shrugged, and started walking towards the Port Angeles docks.

At first, I didn't hear him follow me. Probably stitching up his ego before he comes chasing after me to try and scare me some more. I didn't need any special powers to know he was going to follow me. He didn't understand me; and he didn't seem like the kind of guy who likes to be stumped. I was staring out over the water when I felt him behind me. Although he was very cold, emotionally and physically it seems, whenever he was around I could feel it. Not the coldness. Just warmth. Maybe it was just more of his dazzling ability. I'd never known a vampire who stuck around long enough to get to know me. And so far, the only ones that have ever been interested in understanding me were the Volturi. And that was only because they wanted me for themselves. I want Edward to want me for himself. Shaking the last thought from my mind, I finally spoke.

"I'm not trying to write you off. I know how dangerous you can be. I've seen someone I worked very closely with die at the hands of the Volturi. I've seen the human carnage laid to waste by attacks. My mother has disappeared for days and returned with wounds that made me sick," I didn't look up at him when I spoke.

"Then why do you do it," I could tell he wanted to scream, "why do you give a shit about any of us; our world?"

"I don't blame the lion for hunting the gazelle. Why should it be different for you?"

"Because, I've taken human lives! I wanted to take yours," he hissed.

"But you didn't. You probably could have. It took me all of lunch and the first part of Physics to figure out what you were," I was quiet.

"Doesn't that upset you? That we think so little of human life?"

"No," and with that simple answer, we locked eyes for the first time since he crushed the street sign. He sighed and took the place next to me. Looking down at me, he waited for an explanation.

"How can you care so little about your own kind?" He spoke quietly but firmly as I shifted uncomfortably next to him.

"Its natural selection, isn't it?" That was all I could muster as I turned back around to face the water, feeling ashamed.

"Who am I to decide who gets to live on? How can I pass judgment? How can you condone it?"

His accusatory tone made me blush. Who the fuck does he think he is? My embarrassment quickly turned to anger. The heat rose from my cheeks to my ears. My eyes felt hot and my vision blurred. I prayed to some deity I didn't believe in. Please don't let me cry.

"Who are you to judge me? " My voice and shoulder shook with anger. This night was taking a bad turn. Like old milk. Or 80s horror movies. Now, he shifted uncomfortably next to me. I took little solace in the idea that I could humiliate him.

"Why do you care about humans anyway? They way I see it; we're all going to destroy each other. Maybe vampires are the only ones that can stop us from annihilating ourselves."

"By doing all the work for you? I didn't kill you. And when I did take human lives—they were murderers and rapists. Sociopaths and psychopaths. Over the years I've spent with Carlisle, I've been able to retain some of my own morality. Other vampires aren't so moral. They don't all prey on the unjust and criminal. They hunt and kill girls like you. People like those hikers," he turned around and leaned over the guardrail I was resting my hands on.

Wait? DID take human lives?

"When you did take human lives? You don't anymore?" If he hadn't made me feel disgusted by myself for the entire conversation, I would have felt bad for the way my words spilled out.

"No. Not for a long time. Six or seven decades, at least. I live a vegetarian life style, have you never heard of this?" He lifted his upper body and turned to look at me. Vegetarian? Preying on the essential oils of plants? I shook my head.

"You mean to tell me that you've been immersed in the vampire world and don't know any vegetarians?"

I crossed my arms and looked at him. He was beautiful in the moonlight. The water below us gave him an ethereal quality. His alabaster skin was practically glowing; I wanted to touch him.

"Honestly, Edward, it's not like all my friends are vampires. I have a relationship based on loyalty and fear with the Volturi, who are very much still killing humans. Other vampires I've met have either feared me or tried to kill me. I don't get to know that many," I shrugged.

"I feed on the blood of animals. My entire family does. There are a few other families like ours."

I hadn't really considered his words too much. I was stuck on the way he called his coven a family. For every aggressive word and hostile movement he made, there was something else. Something more. And he wants to share it with me. I think. The giddy school girl returned for a second. I wiped away any trace of her as I began walking down the docks. While Edward stayed behind, I realized that the air was incredibly cold. Part of me needed him to come after me. I'd made it maybe fifteen feet without him when I shivered. Come on Edward, just follow! I had to take matters into my own hands.

"Come on and take me home. I'll show you my mark," I rolled my eyes. I just folded my winning hand. He slowly made his way to me and we walked back downtown. I slid my bracelet off and slipped it into Edward's jacket pocket. No matter what happens, there will always be this moment. When the walls came down and we bore what we could to each other. I wanted him to remember tonight.

We stopped under a streetlight close to where the silver Volvo was parked while he gingerly inspected my right arm. He ran his hand over my birthmark and my knees went weak. For the first time tonight, I wasn't in control of our contact. I stumbled forward and he caught me with his other hand. Stumbling into Edward's arms as he poured over the most private thing about me made me feel naked. Like I had just stripped off my dress in front of downtown Port Angeles. And I should swing from this street light in front of me. He steadied me then opened the hand that held my wrist. Quickly, I moved both my hands behind my back.

"Happy now?" I snorted. Ass.

"Will you let my father take a look at it?" He still hadn't moved.

"Taking me home to meet the parents? Isn't it a little early for that?" I was going for sexily sarcastic, but landed on utterly pathetic. Did he just call Carlisle his father?

"Please?"

I reached for my cell phone I had silenced when Edward picked me up. It was after eleven. Renee had sent me boundless texts. Probably tossing empty threats of discipline out. She sends me here to track vampires but wants me to be home by midnight. Renee is a woman I will never understand. Before I could get too annoyed with my mother for being over protective about my curfew, I realized I hadn't said anything aloud to Edward's request.

"I need to be home by midnight." I wanted to be indignant about the whole thing. How dare he say please to me when he spent the last hour telling me how inhuman I was for a human. But, his touch still had me reeling. My words came out shy, almost sad. Not quite the effect I was going for.

"Please, Bella," he scoffed at me, "I can have you home by midnight. I am exceedingly fast."

His arrogant attitude was what broke the spell our contact had over me. I stepped away from him, since he still hadn't backed up after he caught my stumble. Putting my hands on my hips, I glared at him. Maybe I didn't want to share this ugly thing with Carlisle. It was supposed to be a special moment between Edward and me. The arrogant sneer on his face turned into some kind of pleading pout. Petulance does not suit you, Edward Cullen.

"I don't think you can push that silver little bullet past 110," my hands were still at my hips.

"There are a few more cars in the Cullen garage," he laughed at me.

Wait? More cars? Fast ones?

"Are they fast?"

"My other car is an Aston Martin Vanquish," he said it like everyone has a second car. And they are all as cool as the Vanquish.

"Alright, but I have one condition," I replied, dropping my hands from my hips and returning to the space right in front of him. He smiled then quickly clenched his jaw.

"Let me drive the Vanquish."

"Absolutely not," he looked completely disgusted.

"Edward," I whined, "I've been driving that beat up Chevy for over a month. Let me drive the Vanquish."

"There is no way I would let you behind the wheel of the Aston Martin."

"Fine. Maybe one of those men from the bar will give me a ride home, then," I was so lost in my tantrum; I almost stuck my tongue out as I turned around and started walking.

"The Volvo," he sighed, "you can drive the Volvo."

"Gimme the keys," I squealed, turning back around. I wanted to hug him. I felt like one of those girls from My Super Sweet Sixteen whose daddy bought them a brand new car. It reminded me of the day Aro gave me my car. My car.

"Not there! You have no idea where I live. You can drive us back."

My face fell, but I followed him back to his car. I got in after he opened my door. Part of me knew he wasn't really going to let me drive home, but the part of me that wanted to spend more time with him didn't care. I sat in the passenger seat and scowled the entire drive to the Cullen house. Which actually turned out to be the Cullen Mansion. The brightly lit foyer and an entire wall of glass lit up the trees near the front of the house. Edward's door slammed and he had my door opened before I could unbuckle myself.

"Nice place," was all my awe allowed me to say.

Probably in means of compromise, he led me through the garage instead of the front door. It was like the smallest, most expensive showroom I'd ever been in. Not that I am some kind of car aficionada. I just like them to be pretty and fast. These cars were definitely pretty and probably fast. I spotted the Vanquish first. I recognized the little Porsche from school. My fingers glided down the hood of a Mercedes as we reached the door to the house. Before he turned the knob, he cast a look over his shoulder at me. I only noticed it out of the corner of my eye.

"I'm sorry. I'm easily distracted by pretty, shiny things." Like Aston Martin Vanquishes and Edward Cullens. He rolled his eyes at my innuendo and opened the door.

"Bella!" Alice bounded out of nowhere and practically knocked me over with an enthusiastic hug.

"Hey, Alice," I half heartedly returned her hug and eyed her suspiciously.

"We've been waiting for you," she sighed. She was going to get on my nerves with all this cryptic talk.

"Here I am," I threw my hands up in pretend excitement.

"Are you sure you want him to look at her? I don't think you're going to like what he sees," Alice clicked her tongue and stared at Edward.

"What did you see?" He placed himself between Alice and me and I wasn't sure which one of us he was protecting.

"Just that you weren't happy about what he sees," she stood on her toes and smiled at me over his shoulder.

Edward pushed forward and dragged me behind him. Their home was gorgeous. There were so many windows and white walls that it must be breathtaking during the daytime. We were halfway up the stairs when a woman walked out from the living room and smiled at us. Who the hell is this?

"Bella, it's so nice to finally meet you," she called up to me. Her voice every bit as musical and inviting as Alice and Edward's. I wouldn't call this a meeting. Edward continued to pull me up the stairs, growing impatient with my human pace.

"Who's that?" I finally had a moment to ask before we barged into Carlisle's room.

"Esme, my mother."

Mother?

He flung open the door in front of us and Carlisle looked up from his desk. There were books everywhere. So many books. Two small desk lamps illuminated the room, making it hard to see little else but the shelves around us. I did notice some old looking art on the back of the door.

"Bella," he spoke as he rose from his seat, "so nice to see you again."

"Can we just cut to the chase?" I was tired of their pretty voices and knowing glances.

Edward crossed his arms and leaned against the door behind us. Carlisle motioned for me to lay my arm under a lamp for easier investigation. I wanted to check the time again and see how many times my mother had called me. Suddenly, I started to feel like I really would turn into a pumpkin at midnight. I so don't want to spontaneously combust all over the Cullens' nice house. The air around me changed and I looked up at Carlisle. Edward and he were having a private conversation. Either it was too low for me to hear or entirely inside their minds. Edward's eyes widened at me. Carlisle was the first to break the tension.

"Your mother will be here soon," he soothed. I didn't know what I was supposed to be worked up mother's presence?

"You don't know what it is either, do you?" I sighed and brought my marked hand up to rest my chin on.

"We had better wait for your mother to get here," he smiled. How does she even know where the hell I am? Edward held the door open for me, his eyes still wide, and waited for me to leave.

"Can I see your Edward-cave before my mother nags me to death?" Suddenly, I was really interested to see where Edward spent his time when he wasn't out doing vampire things and pretending to be a moody teenager. I'm pretty sure the moodiness isn't pretend.

"Again with the superhero allusions," he chuckled, "I don't think I'm the hero here."

"I don't think you're the bad guy, either," I shrugged. Just show me your room so I have a new setting for my dirty thoughts, damn it.

He ushered me down the hall. I began to notice that their house looked lived in without actually being lived in. Tons of antique furniture and prints filled the upstairs. There were strange personal touches; little mementos of years spent together as a family unit. He placed a hand on the small of my back and I shivered. I knew I wasn't cold, but in case I tried to tell myself I was, I still had my coat on.

His room was a lot like him. Strange and full of surprises. A power struggle between modernity and antiquity. Beautiful. The smell of leather wafted around me and I realized he had a leather chaise close to the windows. Instead of the shelves of books I saw in Carlisle's room, Edward had shelves of music. LPs and CDs. Vintage vinyl. The majority of his record collection was jazz and classical; at least what I could see. I did, however, see a large collection of 60s and 70s psychedelic rock.

"What's with all the acid music?"

"You don't like it?"

"I don't mind it, I guess. Not really my thing. I like heavy music, mostly. But I dig some blues and post modern classical pieces," I shrugged my jacket off and traced my fingers down the rows; noticing lots of indie stuff and bands that flew off the radar a long time ago.

"I listen to it when I want to feel human—the acid rock," he whispered.

He was sitting across from me in the chaise when I turned around. His face was the only thing I could see. I couldn't decide whether or not he looked human. There was sadness in his eyes that only heartbreak and disappointment can bring. Can you break a vampire's un-beating heart? His hands clasped together and he looked up at me.

"Why does it make you feel human?" I couldn't hear the words but I knew he did. How did this conversation go from normal musical debate back to the fucking twilight zone? He dropped his gaze and shifted himself so he was lying down. I wanted to lay with him.

"It's stupid."

"It's not stupid, Edward. Tell me."

Before I had a chance to reconsider, I knelt down beside him. My hand covered his. He looked at me.

"Do you know how many drugs they were doing back then? I could walk out into the desert and sparkle like Tiffany's and no one would think twice about it. I sat in a circle and waxed philosophical with Jim Morrison. Grace Slick got inspired to write "White Rabbit" after a long night of hallucinogenics and talking about Alice joining the family. I'd rather not get into what happened at Woodstock. Their minds, though strange, were easier to be around. They accepted me for who I was, even though they thought I was close to insanity," he looked away, but grasped my hand in his. My spine tingled with excitement. Lots of excitement. Behave, Bella.

"I accept you for who you are," I swallowed. I didn't know what that meant or how I felt about Edward. He was new and strange and beautiful. He's also moody, arrogant, conflicted and too old for you.

I've been told I was born into a destiny. I didn't choose it. Sometimes I'm angry about it. Usually, I'm just apathetic. I dance dangerously close to the line of self-destruction. Not reckless. Just uncaring. There's a good chance I won't make it through the day. Or the next. Or the one after that. It's just the way it is. How it's always supposed to be. I'm not on some kind of kamikaze mission. I'm just Isabella Swan. I do what I have to. Mortality and immortality hang in the balance; and eventually I will choose where my loyalties lie and hope I made the right choice.

But today, I'm just me. And he's just Edward. And together, we're a force all our own.

Suddenly, there was a shift. My stars realigned, my moons circled Jupiter or Aquarius was right where it should be. I don't know what happened—but that arrogant son of a bitch holding my hand became a part of me. Right there in his bedroom the night before my birthday.

Maybe we won't see each other again. Maybe we'll fall in love. Maybe he'll become my greatest enemy. None of that mattered. After today, I knew I was capable of falling out of line and falling into something that was all my own. And Edward was something that was just mine.

"Your mother is here," he sat up and dropped my hand.

It was just like my mother to ruin a perfectly good moment of clarity. I was already waiting in the Cullens' living room when she barged in without even bothering to knock. The clock on the wall said quarter to midnight. Renee's eyes were wide as she took a mental inventory of me. No extra appendages. No missing ones, either. Yep, still pretty much just me. She was out of breath, but she opened her mouth anyway.

"Carlisle, "she started, but he descended the stairs and finished her sentence.

"We have to tell her," he sighed.

Edward placed his hands on my shoulders. Not out of comfort or support; just to remind me of his presence. Like I could forget. I was confused and worried. Between my moment with Edward upstairs and his hands on my bare shoulders, everything blurred. And I was sitting down before my mom suggested I should.

"Bella, honey. I haven't quite been honest with you," she kneeled in front of me and took my hand. Carlisle moved behind her and Esme quickly took a spot beside him. I began to feel sick. Alice and Jasper sat at the top of the stairs. If my life turns into an episode of Jerry Springer, I am so out of here. Edward's head snapped up.

"You can't, Jasper, so don't," he growled. Jasper quickly retreated and Alice lingered only a second more. I wondered why Edward stayed. Maybe he was afraid to leave me to take whatever was coming by myself. He thinks I can't handle it. I wanted to tell him I didn't need him to protect me, but my mother started to talk again.

"There's a reason why I'm—we're—so concerned about midnight. It has everything to do with this mark. I guess it has even more to do with my own cowardice," she laughed and Edward tensed. He probably knows how bad this gets.

"When you were young, probably about eight years old, I did a very reckless thing," she coughed and I was relieved. At least she wasn't about to tell me that Carlisle was my father. "You see, I was going through a very rough time in my life. I was having some kind of early mid-life crisis. Maybe I was just tired of putting my work with the Keepers ahead of myself. A lot of it had to do with wanting more from life than what I had." Only Renee could find a life of hide and seek with vampires to be too little.

"Just spit it out, mom," I was growing impatient and nauseated. She grasped my marked wrist. I could barely feel it.

"I fell in love. Or, rather, I became infatuated with a vampire," please tell me it wasn't Edward or Carlisle, "his name was James. He was dangerous and worldly. Powerful and absolutely feral. It was exciting. I never felt so alive in my life, Bella. He was amazing. Well, I'm sure he's still amazing."

"Damn it. Get to the fucking point, Renee," my head was throbbing and my vision was blurring. I was having an anxiety attack.

"We had a fight. There was another woman, a vampire, and she wanted him. I could have killed her and fought for him. Maybe let him change me. But he was just for fun, you know? There was a battle. Several other Keepers were involved. One of them died and one of them had to be changed. Unfortunately, James hit me where it hurt the most. You," she sighed.

"What the fuck does that mean," I think I was screaming, but I couldn't tell.

"He bit you, Bella. Alice saw it and she told me I had to go and help you. When I got there, it was almost too late," Carlisle offered.

"But, I couldn't just let you change at eight. The Volturi, they'd destroy you. I couldn't lose you. I wasn't ever a good mother but I've always loved you, Bella. Carlisle came and sucked the venom out of you. But he couldn't get it all. You were too small," she was starting to cry. Fucking crocodile tears, Renee. Crocodile fucking tears.

"A little venom isn't harmful to a human," Carlisle began, "but you've never quite been human. Well, you weren't always going to be human. Eventually you'd come into full powers—you know the story."

I certainly did know the story. Every last god damn word of it. Isabella Swan. Keeper. Shield. Having an active power in youth commonly leads to greater power in adulthood. That's what they say. I've known telekinetics and astral projectors. Even a Keeper who could teleport. They didn't get these powers until they turned 18. All I could do was keep vampires out of my head, and suddenly I was the god damn golden child. Everyone acted like I was going to inherit the fucking Earth. I'm gonna puke.

"We don't know what happens when your blood mutates and hits the venom," Carlisle whispered, "Alice can't see you."

"Of course not."

"She's been able to see you so far," Edward started.

"Not my future," I stood up, ripping myself from Edward's body.

"I didn't know how to tell you," Renee tried to hug me but I pushed her away. I looked at the clock, zero hour was fast approaching. "I sent you here because I thought it would be best, I knew the Cullens were here. And when James came looking for you, I wanted you to have more backup than I could offer you."

My heart was beating out of my chest. It was like one of my bad dreams, where everything is in tunnel vision. Only, the tunnel was getting smaller. I thought I felt my limbs shaking. Acid rose up my in throat while my stomach clenched and flipped. I knew I was going to pass out. Something was wrong, I could feel it. This wasn't just an anxiety attack. I wasn't just in shock because my mother had lied to me for almost ten years. No. This was something else. Way, way worse. This wasn't Jerry Springer, this was sci-fi channel.

"Wait? James is coming for me?"

I'm pretty sure I puked all over the Cullens' nice hardwood floors before I blacked out.

I'm pretty sure Carlisle deserved it.