This is my version of New Moon as told from Edward's point of view. I love the Twilight series and found Edward's telling in Midnight Sun to be fascinating. I know that the chances of Stephenie rewriting New Moon from Edward's perspective are highly unlikely, so I decided to attempt it for myself.

Disclaimer: I am NOT Stephenie Meyer and I don't own any of the Twilight series characters or stories. I borrowed the dialogue and storyline from New Moon, but the rest is my own take on the story, as seen through Edward's eyes.

Moonless Night


I held Bella in my arms while she slept. Her face was like that of an angel, so peaceful. I had spent many nights like this and cherished every moment that I embraced her. How had I been so fortunate to be given such a gift?

My thoughts drifted over the memories of the summer we had spent together. It was a summer filled with laughter and love; a summer full of long conversations, gentle caresses, and stolen kisses. Bella filled my life and my world with an unimaginable joy. My lips curved in a satisfied smile as I replayed the wonderful memories in my head.

She was beginning to stir. She mumbled softly while she dreamed. What I wouldn't give for even a brief glimpse into her mind. My only clues were the gentle disjointed words she uttered while she slept.

I waited until I was sure that she was again fast asleep and ever so gently released her from my hold. I lifted her from my chest, careful not to wake her. I turned to gaze at her sleeping figure once more. My sleeping beauty. My angel. My Bella.

Silently, I crept from her window and leapt to the ground below. The moon was still high in the sky as I made my way back home. The dark shadows cast in the moonlight were a blur as I ran past them. Alice was sitting on the steps waiting to greet me.

"Is the birthday girl ready to celebrate?" she asked with a gleam in her eyes.

I looked at her incredulously. She knew the answer to that question without needing my input. Bella didn't share Alice's enthusiasm for birthday celebrations. She shied away from anything that might make her the center of attention.

I, as well as my other family members, had been made aware of Bella's desire to avoid even the mention of her birthday. Of course, I knew that this was not only a result of her timid and selfless nature, but an effort to avoid the reminder that she would be eighteen while I remained forever frozen at the age of seventeen.

Her desire to be changed was fueled by the fear that she would age and wither while I remained eternally youthful. No matter how often I reminded her that she will always be beautiful to me, regardless of her age, she still dreams of becoming an immortal. She cannot fathom how I could still love her when, as she puts it, 'looks like my grandmother.' What a silly girl! Does she really believe my love for her to be so shallow that it would be deterred by something so trivial as physical appearance?

As much as I love Bella, I would be willing to give her anything and everything, except for that. I love her too much to risk her soul. That would be the single most selfish act I could fathom.

Alice danced past me, her thoughts giving her away.

"You know Bella will not be happy about this", I warned.

"Oh, Edward! Birthdays are important. Do you honestly think she would deny me the joy of celebrating with her?"

"Don't be disappointed when she doesn't share your enthusiasm."

Alice ignored me, bounding up the stairs to make preparations for the party she envisioned. I knew she was right. If Bella remained as resolute as she was to become a vampire, it would only be a matter of time before she found a way to achieve her goal, with or without my help. If she was that determined to give up her humanity, then I was just as determined to ensure that she didn't miss any of the important human experiences she would be sacrificing.

The party was imminent, although the difficult task of convincing Bella to attend still loomed. But Alice's persistence was not something to trifle with. She could annoy Bella into succumbing if that's what it took. If nothing else, Alice was skilled at getting her way.

I knew that Bella would be sore with me if I bought her a gift, but I wanted to give her something. Her logic still puzzled me. I had given her my whole heart and she felt that any other gifts I wanted to give her would throw off the balance. However, she failed to realize that I had already received the greater gift. She gave me her love, her life, and was willing to give her soul. What could be more precious than that? I was forever in her debt.

I slid onto the piano bench and lightly caressed the ivory keys as I considered my dilemma. The simple exercise always helped to calm my frazzled nerves. The sweet melody of Bella's lullaby filled the room. I closed my eyes and let the music wash over me. In that instant, I knew what her gift would be.

* * *

I casually leaned against my car as Alice anxiously shifted her weight on the balls of her feet. We could hear Bella's '53 Chevy truck getting closer and then saw her rumbling into the parking lot. My body tensed in preparation.

Ooh, she's here! Alice could barely contain herself.

A frown creased Bella's face when she caught sight of Alice and the silver package she held in her hands. I didn't need the ability to read her mind to know that she was irritated. I chuckled to myself and Alice looked back to glare at me before she skipped across the lot to greet Bella.

"Happy birthday, Bella!"

"Shh!" Bella's face flushed as she looked around to be sure no one had heard Alice's greeting.

Alice held out the small silver package. "Do you want to open your present now or later?"

"No presents," Bella huffed in discomfort.

"Okay…later then. Did you like the scrapbook your mom sent you? And the camera from Charlie?" I suppressed a smile as I observed the look of bewilderment that crossed Bella's face when Alice asked her questions. It was sometimes easy to forget Alice's talent.

"Yeah. They're great," Bella replied with lackluster enthusiasm, making her way toward me in an effort to escape Alice's excitement.

"I think it's a nice idea. You're only a senior once. Might as well document the experience."

Bella rolled her eyes. "How many times have you been a senior?"

"That's different."

I reached out for Bella's hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. The heat from her hand radiated through my own. Her heart skipped a beat and that brought a smile to my face. The involuntary responses her body gave in reaction to my touch reaffirmed that I still had the ability to 'dazzle' her. I gently caressed the edge of her lip with my finger, struggling silently to think of an appropriate greeting for this morning.

"So, as discussed, I am not allowed to wish you a happy birthday, is that correct?"

"Yes. That is correct." She nodded and smiled, happy that I was respecting her wishes.

"Just checking. You might have changed your mind. Most people seem to enjoy things like birthdays and gifts." In my heart, I had hoped that she would.

Alice decided to chime in, purposely directing the conversation to ease Bella into the idea of a party. "Of course you'll enjoy it. Everyone is supposed to be nice to you today and give you your way, Bella. What's the worst that could happen?"

Honestly, Alice! I could immediately see where this conversation was heading.

"Getting older," was Bella's reply. Sadness filled her eyes when she said these words. Yes, that did it.

"Shame on you, Alice!" I hissed under my breath so only she could hear. Alice shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes at me.


Bella looked to me, but I did not respond. I could not give her the one thing she truly wanted.

Alice sensed my mood but continued, "Eighteen isn't very old. Don't women usually wait 'til they're twenty-nine to get upset over birthdays?"

"It's older than Edward," she replied. She looked to me once again with pleading eyes and a sigh escaped my lips. I wanted this day to be a happy celebration for her and was determined not to let it turn into another argument over this issue. If Alice isn't careful…

Oh, Edward, just do it already! You would be so happy together!

The image of Bella with crimson eyes flashed into my mind. Alice had seen this vision many months ago, but I knew better than anyone how subjective her visions could be and was stubbornly opposed to allowing this particular future to come to fruition.

I shot a warning glare in Alice's direction. She knew very well how I felt about this. She hesitated for a brief second and turned her back to me, continuing to prod Bella along.

"Technically. Just by one little year, though." Alice's words seemed to fall on deaf ears. I could see Bella's mind working, even though I was unable to hear her thoughts. Her eyes glazed over as though she were looking past the present and into the future – a future where, I'm sure, she imagined herself old and gray, holding onto the arm of her forever seventeen soul mate.

Alice glanced quickly in my direction. Brace yourself. Here we go…

Alice eyed Bella cautiously. "What time will you be at the house?"

Bella's eyes widened and instantly narrowed into a glare as she realized what Alice was up to. "I didn't know I had plans to be there."

"Oh, be fair, Bella! You aren't going to ruin all our fun like that, are you?" Alice looked at Bella beseechingly, jutting out her bottom lip in disappointment.

"I thought my birthday was about what I want," Bella replied, exasperated.

I decided to interject. "I'll get her from Charlie's right after school." I gave Alice a meaningful glare, a warning. Alice, if you want her to go at all, don't push it.

"I have to work." Bella was going to use any excuse she could to get out of whatever Alice had in store.

Alice grinned slyly. "You don't actually. I already spoke to Mrs. Newton about it. She's trading your shifts. She said to tell you 'Happy Birthday.'"

Bella shifted her weight uneasily knowing that she was quickly losing this battle. "I – I still can't come over." She was tripping over her words as she hastily thought of another excuse. "I, well, I haven't watched Romeo and Juliet yet for English."

"You have Romeo and Juliet memorized," Alice countered.

"But Mr. Berty said we needed to see if performed to fully appreciate it – that's how Shakespeare intended it to be presented."

She looked to me for help, but I rolled my eyes. Bella was grasping at straws. I knew that she had seen the movie already. Her hasty lies were unconvincing.

"You've already seen the movie," Alice continued, seeing right through Bella's attempted deception.

"But not the nineteen-sixties version. Mr. Berty said it was the best."

Alice was starting to lose her temper and glowered at me. Help me with this Edward! You know as well as I do how important this is. She will regret it later if she doesn't celebrate her birthday properly. Think how disappointed everyone will be. We haven't celebrated a real birthday in over half a century!

She tore her eyes from me and spoke in a biting tone, "This can be easy, or this can be hard, Bella, but one way or the other - "

I placed a calming hand on my sister's shoulder. There was no need for threats. "Relax, Alice. If Bella wants to watch a movie, then she can. It's her birthday."

Bella smirked. "So there."

I looked directly at Alice, purposely avoiding Bella's eyes. "I'll bring her over around seven." I could feel Bella's stare burning a hole right through me. "That will give you more time to set up." I smiled slightly and gave Alice a wink.

Alice clapped her hands together and laughed with glee, "Sounds good. See you tonight, Bella! It'll be fun, you'll see." She kissed Bella on the cheek and danced away before she could object.

Don't worry, Edward. She'll forgive you…and the party will be splendid!

Bella looked to me with pleading eyes, "Edward, please –"

I put my finger to her lips to silence her protest. "Let's discuss it later. We're going to be late for class." I took her hand once more. She hesitated briefly, but surrendered and followed me into the school.

I observed her throughout the day as she interacted with her friends. She smiled and laughed at all the right moments, but I could sense a sorrow that she kept well hidden. Because Bella's mind was the only one silent to me, I had grown quite adept at discerning her moods. Her silent mind was an enigma, a constant challenge that I gladly endured.

I studied her eyes, her facial expressions, her body language. Her face smiled, but her eyes betrayed her. Sadness crept into my heart. I was the cause of her grief. I struggled daily between the desire to make Bella happy and the need to keep her safe. She said that she wants this life; that she wants to be with me forever. I cannot deny that my heart yearns for the same, but I would not be responsible for taking her life. Her soul is much too precious.

I walked with Bella to her truck and opened the passenger door for her. She folded her arms and pouted, "It's my birthday, don't I get to drive?"

"I'm pretending it's not your birthday, just as you wished." A smirk made its way past the corners of my mouth as she shook her head in frustration.

"If it's not my birthday, then I don't have to go to your house tonight," she proclaimed smugly. She was determined to get her way.

"All right." I shut the passenger door and walked to the other side to open the driver's door for her, "Happy birthday."

"Shh," she shushed me, but reluctantly climbed into the truck.

I turned on the radio as we drove away from the school. The speakers hissed and sputtered with static. "Your radio has horrible reception," I noted, subtly hinting at the new stereo she would be receiving in a few short hours.

She frowned as her voice rose an octave, "You want a nice stereo? Drive your own car." Her brow creased in anger and her hands gripped the wheel tightly as she stared at the wet road before us. I knew that Alice's plans had put her in a foul mood, but I had to admit that she was adorable when she was angry. I suppressed a grin and resolved to cheer her up by whatever means necessary. She should not be so sour on a joyous occasion such as a birthday.

As she parked in front of her house, I reached over to her, gently cupping her face in my cold hands. She didn't recoil from my wintry touch. Looking deeply into her eyes, I whispered, "You should be in a good mood, today of all days."

"And if I don't want to be in a good mood?"

My eyes smoldered as I gazed at her intently. I could see her begin to melt beneath my stare. "Too bad." I leaned closer and pressed my lips to hers in an effort to distract her. The venom burned in my throat, but the sensation had become much easier to ignore. My love for Bella overruled the monster within that craved her blood. The warmth of her lips lit mine on fire, although it was not an undesirable feeling. Our lips moved in harmony with one another. I could taste her sweet breath on my tongue and the sensation made my head spin.

I continued to kiss her. She wrapped her arms around my neck, twining her fingers through my hair, and I could sense that she was going to push this a little farther than I was willing to go. She knew very well that I could not allow myself to lose control, no matter how strong the desire.

Unwillingly, I moved my hands from her face and tenderly removed her hands from my neck. "Be good please," I whispered. I kissed her lightly once more before placing her hands on her lap. Her cheeks flushed and I could hear her heart beating rapidly.

"Do you think I'll ever get better at this? That my heart might someday stop trying to jump out of my chest whenever you touch me?"

I started to grin, "I really hope not." I could not deny that I enjoyed her involuntary reactions. It was one of the few indicators that demonstrated to me how she really felt.

She opened her door and leaned out. "Let's go watch the Capulets and the Montagues hack each other up, all right?"

"Your wish is my command," I smiled.

I lay on the couch while she sat on the edge in front of me, fast-forwarding through the opening credits of the movie. I wrapped my arms around her waist and drew her to my chest. Her skin was soft and warm. I closed my eyes and sighed, breathing in her sweet aroma.

"You know, I've never had much patience with Romeo," I said.

"What's wrong with Romeo?" she asked in an affronted tone. In all our conversations, I knew that Romeo was one of her favorite romantic characters.

"Well, first of all, he's in love with this Rosaline – don't you think it makes him seem a little fickle? And then, a few minutes after their wedding, he kills Juliet's cousin. That's not very brilliant. Mistake after mistake. Could he have destroyed his own happiness any more thoroughly?"

I could sense her impatience, "Do you want me to watch this alone?" she teased.

"No, I'll mostly be watching you, anyway." This was not a lie. I could spend an eternity watching her, speculating her thoughts, her dreams. I softly ran my finger down her arm. The path left a trail of goose bumps. Whether a reaction to the coolness of my skin or the pleasure of my touch, I couldn't be sure.

"Will you cry?" I asked absentmindedly.

"Probably," she confessed, "if I'm paying attention."

"I won't distract you then." I leaned close and held her tighter.

As we watched, I whispered Romeo's lines in her ear in my velvet voice she loved so much. I was intrigued when I saw a few lone tears meander down her cheeks. I tenderly wiped them away.

"I'll admit, I do sort of envy him here," I murmured.

"She's very pretty."

I looked at her appalled, "I don't envy him the girl – just the ease of suicide. You humans have it so easy! All you have to do is throw down one tiny vial of plant extracts…"

"What?" I could hear the shock in her voice.

Oops…that's probably not a pleasant topic of conversation when trying to cheer someone up. I will need to watch my words more carefully. I tried my best to sound casual.

"It's something I had to think about once, and I knew from Carlisle's experience that it wouldn't be simple. I'm not even sure how many ways Carlisle tried to kill himself in the beginning… after he realized what he'd become…And he's clearly still in excellent health."

She turned to face me and I could see the concern in her eyes, "What are you talking about? What do you mean, this is something you had to think about once?"

I struggled to find the words, "Last spring, when you were…nearly killed…" I closed my eyes and thought back to that time so many months ago when I feared I had lost her. James had lured my Bella away and nearly killed her. I barely made it to her in time and still blame myself for letting any harm come to her. She traced the scar on her arm, the constant reminder of that terrible day.

I forced the thoughts from my head, "Of course I was trying to focus on finding you alive, but part of my mind was making contingency plans. Like I said, it's not as easy for me as it is for a human."

"Contingency plans?" she repeated, her eyes searching mine.

Like most things, she's taking this far too seriously.

"Well, I wasn't going to live without you. But I wasn't sure how to do it – I knew Emmett and Jasper would never help…so I was thinking maybe I would go to Italy and do something to provoke the Volturi." I tried to force my voice to sound nonchalant. She did not need to dwell on such things.

Bella looked to me with a despondency that completely overwhelmed her and then her eyes flashed with fury. "What is a Volturi?" she demanded.

"The Volturi are a family," I explained. "A very old, very powerful family of our kind. They are the closest thing our world has to a royal family, I suppose. Carlisle lived with them briefly in his early years, in Italy, before he settled in America – do you remember the story?"

"Of course I remember."

"Anyway, you don't irritate the Volturi. Not unless you want to die – or whatever it is we do." My mind wandered briefly to the many discussions Carlisle and I had shared on this issue. He believed fervently that there was a path to redemption for our kind, but I did not share his outlook, although, his blind faith was difficult to doubt. I could see in his thoughts that his faith did not waver; he believed completely in the possibility of an existence after this one.

A look of sheer terror twisted her face and she grasped my cheeks with her hands. "You must never, never, never think of anything like that again! No matter what might ever happen to me, you are not allowed to hurt yourself!" Her voice started to break as tears welled up in her eyes.

I placed my hands on hers and replied, "I'll never put you in danger again, so it's a moot point." Honestly, I should have forced her to go to Florida with her mother when the opportunity arose in the hospital, but I am such a selfish creature. Every moment I spent with her, I put her in danger, yet I could not imagine trading any of the blissful moments we shared together.

"Put me in danger! I thought we'd established that all the bad luck is my fault? How dare you even think like that?" Her body trembled with rage.

Oh, Bella, Bella… I shook my head.

"What would you do, if the situation were reversed?" I asked her.

"That's not the same thing."

I snickered as she continued to shake with anger. She was disturbed by my cavalier attitude regarding my own demise.

"What if something did happen to you? Would you want me to go off myself?" she asked.

I winced at the notion that she would even conceive of doing such a thing. She was clever to turn the question around, knowing that I would have to disagree with her, thus shattering my own argument.

"I guess I see your point…a little," I confessed. "But what would I do without you?"

She shrugged, "Whatever you were doing before I came along and complicated your existence."

I thought back to my life before Bella had come into it. I was alone. I had been alone for nearly a hundred years and although others had shown their interest in me, I ignored them. I had no desire for companionship other than that of my family. Esme expressed her concerns for me many times and longed that I would find a mate, my other half. And I have. The moment that I met Bella, I knew my life would be changed. Her silent mind intrigued me and her blood called to me. It was as if I was under a spell, powerless to ignore. When she spoke my name in her sleep, I was smitten. In that instant, I realized that I loved this fragile creature and that knowledge permanently changed me.

"You make that sound so easy," I replied.

"It should be. I'm not that interesting." She was wrong about that; to me she was fascinating.

"Moot point," I repeated. I could hear the light rumbling of Charlie's cruiser drawing near. I straightened up and shifted away from Bella.

"Charlie?" she guessed.

I smiled at her as the sound of crunching gravel outside the door confirmed her speculation. She reached over and took my hand.

"Hey kids." Charlie greeted, looking from me to Bella and back to me again. If you know what's good for you…I suppressed a grin at Charlie's overprotective thoughts.

"I thought you'd like a break from cooking and washing dishes for your birthday. Hungry?" The scent of hot pizza wafted into the room.

"Sure. Thanks, Dad."

I sat with Bella as she nibbled at a slice of pepperoni, hoping that Charlie wouldn't notice my lack of appetite. I could join in the meal if it was necessary to keep up the charade, but the thought of consuming human food made my stomach turn.

As the meal was ending, I spoke up, "Do you mind if I borrow Bella for the evening?"

Charlie hesitated, glancing quickly at Bella. Should I have planned something? Maybe I should have gotten a cake. Her mother was always the one to plan for these things. She would probably be bored silly sitting here with me all night. A look of relief washed over his face.

"That's fine – the Mariners are playing the Sox tonight. So, I won't be any kind of company…Here." He picked up the camera he had given Bella for her birthday and lightly tossed it to her. She missed and the camera tumbled downward. I reached out and grabbed it before it could collide with the floor.

"Nice save," Charlie exclaimed. "If they're doing something fun at the Cullens' tonight, Bella, you should take some pictures. You know how your mother gets – she'll be wanting to see the pictures faster than you can take them."

"Good idea, Charlie," I said as I handed the camera to Bella.

She turned the camera on me and I was briefly blinded by the flash. "It works," she declared.

Charlie turned to her, "That's good. Hey, say hi to Alice for me. She hasn't been over in a while." I really miss that girl. She was so sweet to take care of Bella when she broke her leg. I don't know what I would have done without her. I grinned at Charlie's unspoken words. I wished he thought as well of me as he did my sister.

"It's been three days, Dad," Bella replied in a patronizing tone. "I'll tell her."

Charlie cleared his throat and pushed away from the table, "Okay, you kids have fun tonight." He turned and lumbered over to the couch, where he would undoubtedly remain for the duration of the evening.

I took Bella's hand and led her out of the kitchen. We strolled to her truck and I opened the passenger door for her. I was surprised that she was no longer putting up a fight.

We drove along the dark and winding roads. I wished that Bella would allow me to give her a faster car. The speeds her truck was capable of were excruciatingly slow. I pushed the pedal to its limit and the ancient engine groaned in protest.

I could walk faster than this.

"Take it easy," she murmured.

"You know what you would love? A nice little Audi coupe. Very quiet, lots of power…"

She cut me off. "There's nothing wrong with my truck. And speaking of expensive nonessentials, if you know what's good for you, you didn't spend any money on birthday presents."

"Not a dime," I winked at her, not wanting to give anything away.

She rolled her eyes, "Good."

"Can you do me a favor?" My tone was earnest.

"That depends on what it is."

I took my focus from the road for a brief moment. I gazed into her curious eyes, pleading with my own. "Bella, the last real birthday any of us had was Emmett in 1935. Cut us a little slack, and don't be too difficult tonight. They're all very excited."

She sighed, "Fine, I'll behave…"

"I should probably warn you…"

"Please do."

"When I say they're all excited…I do mean all of them."

A slight gasp escaped her lips, "Everyone?" She paused, "I thought Emmett and Rosalie were in Africa."

"Emmett wanted to be here." I wish I could say the same for my sister.

Her lips quivered, "But…Rosalie?"

I furrowed my brow as I thought about how poorly my sister treated Bella. She was civil, at least in my presence, because she knew it hurt me to know that she did not accept Bella as willingly as the rest of the family.

"I know, Bella. Don't worry, she'll be on her best behavior." If she knows what's good for her.

I could see Bella's thoughts drifting. She couldn't stand to be the cause of tension in our family. I quickly changed the subject, "So, if you won't let me get you the Audi, isn't there anything that you'd like for your birthday?"

"You know what I want," she whispered, knowing what my reaction would be.

I instantly regretted asking the question. I could feel the agony burning in my chest. Why did she have to test me like this? My will was not ironclad.

"Not tonight, Bella. Please," I begged.

Her lips curved at the corners and I could see mischief in her eyes. "Well, maybe Alice will give me what I want."

I felt the rumble in my chest as a low growl escaped my lips. "This isn't going to be your last birthday, Bella."

"That's not fair!" She crossed her arms and pouted like a child who was not getting her way. I clenched my teeth, determined not to let the argument proceed.

As we pulled up to the house, I heard a soft groan. Alice had outdone herself, as usual. There were Japanese lanterns adorning the house and bowls of pink roses lining the steps.

She's here! She's here! I could hear Alice's anxious thoughts as we pulled to a stop. There was a shuffling inside the house as everyone prepared to greet us.

"This is a party. Try to be a good sport."

"Sure," she responded half-heartedly.

Although clearly agitated, she smiled at me warmly, putting on her bravest face. No matter how uncomfortable Bella was, I could always count on her to do her best to make others happy. Her altruistic nature was one of her most endearing qualities.

I opened her door and took her hand. "I have a question," she paused and looked down ashamed, blood rushing to her cheeks. I gently ran the back of my hand along her jaw line and waited patiently.

She hesitated. "If I develop this film, will you show up in the picture?"

I could not hold back the laughter that burst from my mouth. I doubled over, my frame shaking as I continued to chortle. The laughter was even more difficult to contain when I could hear similar expressions of amusement coming from inside the house.

She looked on with mild amusement at my reaction, her cheeks flushing a deeper shade of red. She shifted her weight in embarrassment as I composed myself and took her hand in mine. She was constantly surprising me. I continued to chuckle as I led her up the stairs.

I opened the door and we were greeted by a raucous refrain of "Happy birthday, Bella!" Bella shuffled in, looking down with discomfort. Alice really had outdone herself. Every surface of the room was covered in pink roses. At one end of the room there was a table ornamented with a pink cake, a stack of glass plates, a small stack of silver wrapped presents, and more roses. I wrapped my arms around Bella, giving her a supportive squeeze, and kissed her lightly on the head.

Esme and Carlisle were the first to greet Bella. They hugged and kissed her like a daughter, as though she had been a member of the family for years. I heard Carlisle whisper, "Sorry about this, Bella. We couldn't rein Alice in."

Emmett sprang across the room, "You haven't changed at all. I expected a perceptible difference, but here you are, red-faced just like always," he cackled.

"Thanks a lot, Emmett." Bella paid no heed to his jeering.

"I have to step out for a second. Don't do anything funny while I'm gone." Emmett grinned, showing all his teeth and winked at Alice before darting out of the room.

"I'll try." Bella shifted uneasily.

Don't let her near the windows, Edward. Remember, this is supposed to be a surprise.

Alice was beaming as she glided across the room, "Time to open presents." She dragged Bella over to the table holding the gifts and Bella did her best not to show her unease.

"Alice, I know I told you I didn't want anything - " she protested.

Alice smirked, "But I didn't listen. Open it!" She took Bella's camera and shoved a large silver box at her.

Bella seemed confused by the size of the box and disproportionate weight. She carefully tore the paper and gazed at the box, trying to determine what it was. She opened the box and it was empty. Her face was puzzled, "Um…thanks." I smiled at her in amusement and let out a quiet chuckle.

Rosalie snickered under her breath at Bella's obvious confusion and Jasper smiled as he explained, "It's a stereo for your truck. Emmett's installing it right now so you can't return it."

See Edward, there's more than one way to skin a cat, Alice teased.

"Thanks, Jasper, Rosalie," Bella's voice wavered as she expressed her gratitude.

"Thanks Emmett!" she yelled and we could hear his laughing response from her truck.

"Open mine and Edward's next," Alice encouraged.

Emmett sprinted through the door.

"Just in time!"

Everyone inched closer to get a better view, anxious to see Bella's reaction.

"I didn't spend a dime," I promised her, smiling. I brushed the hair from her face and felt her tremble slightly.

Bella turned to Alice and held out her hand, "Give it to me." Collective laughter filled the room and Bella's cheeks flushed once again.

She's going to love it, Edward!

Bella glared at me, as if to say 'You're in trouble.' I smiled and watched intently as she slid her finger under the tape.

I could smell the blood before the word "shoot" escaped her lips. The next few moments seemed to go in slow motion. She pulled out her finger to inspect it and I could see a single drop of blood exude from the tiny cut. The mood in the room immediately shifted. I could hear the ravenous monsters within salivating at the scent.

My eyes shifted to Jasper as I sensed his thoughts. She's mine! His body tensed and he crouched, ready to pounce.

Jasper, No! Alice's shocked face reflected in my eyes.

Jasper's mind focused on the kill. He was no longer my brother, he was a predator and his sights were set on Bella. My Bella! All reason drained from him. He strategized the best way to subdue the competition and seize his prize. I saw all the scenarios flash through his mind, all resulting in the lifeless body of my love clutched in his arms. Fear and fury raged through me like a wildfire.

"No!" I growled and threw myself in front of Bella, protecting her from Jasper's grasping hands. Bella's face was white with shock as we fell to the ground, colliding with the table; sending the cake, presents, and flowers crashing to the floor in a shower of shattered crystal. Jasper's body slammed into mine as he snarled and reached for her. The sound, like crashing boulders, echoed throughout the house. I held him back with one arm and arched my body protectively around Bella.

Everyone looked on in shock, but quickly sprang into action.

Oh, no you don't! Emmett seized Jasper from behind, locking his arms around his chest so that he couldn't break free. Jasper continued to struggle, baring his teeth and staring intently on his prey. Let me go! She's mine! She's mine! So sweet, so mouth-watering! Let me go! There was no reasoning with him. The monster had taken over completely.

The scent of her blood saturated the room and I could see a small pool of the red liquid forming under her arm where she lay on the broken crystal. She winced in pain and blinked her eyes, as though trying to force herself to awaken from a nightmare.