Disclaimer: Twilight ain't mine.

Summary: Edward Cullen: telepath, vampire, and psychologist. When a new patient ignites unfamiliar feelings in his soul, can he reconcile his past with his future? Warnings: Violence, lots of character death, and the usual. A la Midnight Sun and Pre-Twilight. Dark. Sometimes funny. But mostly dark. AU.

I had many inspirations for this story, but I'd like to thank some folks... gallantcorkscrews, Angel/Edwardzuckorocks, americnxidiot, houroflead, and smellyia for doing some pre-reading and nodding on with me about the mischaracterization of Edward in the fandom. An huber thanks to angstgoddess003 for making m'super banner art (see my LJ) and pimpin' m'shit, and finally, a big fat slobbery kiss of funny grossness to Jfly/Thallium81 for being SUPERBETA! and encouraging me to make good use of my "brain hole."


Chapter One: If Love Could Light a Candle


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February 3, 1928 - Chicago, Illinois

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If Anne whips up her beef casserole, then the bank ain't closed tonight! She always makes that when she's all…

1539 or 1527 Mable Road? Both properties need new plumbing. The amount of dough to even get a John working in one of them would run me at least…

Eleanor only wore that checkered pea coat because I wore my ducky new chiffon at the Christmas party! I don't care if she has a peachy complexion—or if Richard laid lines on her twice today—no South side flapper has ever beat a Hill Park…

Horse shit everywhere! Late for dinner. Late for Bridge. Late for... I should never have married Paul, him and his hoity-toity mother—that woman high-hats me every single…

Sex. Jealousy.
Hunger. Business.
A long piss.
Sex.
Hate.

The inane pondering of the average human failed to interest Edward Cullen as he stalked Chicago's frozen streets, nor did the thoughts of the good, humorous, or well-intentioned bear any attraction to him.

Edward hunted evil.

He had put this hunt off. He should have hunted over the weekend, but he had been preoccupied with perfecting Ravel's Jeux d'eau on the grand and hence, loathe to leave his apartments. His fast being as long as it was, Edward's throat burned, and his eyes flicked from red to black, black to red every time a human passed by.

The scents swam around him, a dark man in the overcoat breezing past the barber shop to the east—briny and zesty like sardines in aspic or stuffed pimientos. On the far end of the street a man pungent with the smells of asparagus and peppercorn wrestled with his chocolate Labrador. The dog kept whimpering with its tail down and pulling on its leash to round the corner. The animal did not like Edward's proximity. Next, a thick potion of sunflower oil and talcum, an older matron clumped her way down the street in front of him. The old broad was obese, irritable, and puffing away on her cigarette while she flushed out her mental tirade on the topic of her husband complaining over the eggs that morning:

"I like them soft, dear," she mentally mimicked. "SOFT." Soft. I'll tell you what else is always soft you limp-dicked ingrate—you worthless…

Her thoughts trailed off once she spied Edward's face.

Bet he's not soft.

Edward suppressed a chuckle and continued on.

As he walked, his mind hopped from one human to the next, searching. He cringed when he found the latest.

Three blocks over a bum lay on the back steps of a brick post office. He was dying. The worming feeling had been growing in the man's chest for some hours, pain coming from one new corner after the next—from depths in his body that the man'd never felt before. Now, not even the discarded canister of backyard moonshine at his side provided any relief from the aches or the growing sense of finality.

Edward felt aligned with the bum—derelicts, prodigals—they both were. Only, Edward could not die. The bum could. Edward envied him that. But he did not envy him his pain.

Edward had to censor the fleeting thought to put the companionless man out of his misery. The bum was neither a rabid dog nor a lamed horse. He was a man—unlike Edward, and taking away his pain would be stealing a sliver of his humanity. No matter how flimsy the sliver may be, Edward would not despoil a drop of his mortal blood.

Still, though, Edward was thirsty, and there were real monsters for him to hunt, so he pushed the bum out of his mind and stalked on.

He wended his way through the streets for some hours until he came to one of his usual haunts, a murky, old church cemetery. As a rule, Edward was fond of cemeteries. They gave him a sense of contentment. The rows of stones marked endpoints in an otherwise endless world. In this particular graveyard, both the gilded and the ragged Catholics of Chicago found their final resting places. The hill held a wide sweep of headstones, crosses, simple plaques, and the odd sepulcher, all labeled with a mix of German, Irish, Italian, Polish, and French surnames.

He disliked the church next door, though. Not in the usual vampire sense. As undead killing machines, vampires derided human religion. "Christ dead and resurrected in three days—me, too!" was the usual joke. Edward hated that joke—but that wasn't why he ill-favored churches. He avoided churches because of the intensity of emotion there: love, self-righteousness, blind joy, fear, and loss concentrated in the vaulted chambers. Humanity at its best and worst.

Yet Edward stopped, sighing just for the sake of it, and began scanning the thoughts and prayers of parishioners inside: soft, whispered, fearful, hopeful thoughts. A dying mother. Something in Polish. He hadn't learned Polish—he should work on that. A plea for a new job. A child on tenterhooks for his aunt to finish up with her rosary—only twenty-three Hail Marys more! A deep interest in who was going to get cut from the choir on Thursday night. And then, from a confessional…

"... mortal sins to confess, my child?"

The young priest's voice quivered on the last word. He barely had enough facial hair to justify not being called a child himself. His vestments did not fit him, drooping in the shoulders. His long, over-starched stole poked into the back of his neck. In contrast, the man sitting opposite behind the gilded screen had a thick, mahogany beard, and when he spoke, he spoke with certainty, his words cutting like daggers and punctuating like stabs.

"I have taken a life, Father. I have murdered. I am… a murderer." Threw her body in the river, slit her throat while she shivered...

The priest paused for a long moment as his brain seemed to process the confession. When the priest spoke, he meant to keep his voice in a practiced tone. Unfortunately, his voice failed him in his reply. "My child, as sinners, we are not our acts but our godly potential. Would you tell me what happ—happened?"His voice went high on the last bit, and Edward noted that curiosity fought against training in the words of the young priest. He had never dealt with anything like this before.

"I hurt her because she didn't want me." Fucked her, raped her, couldn't soothe me, so I shaked her.

The man kept his eyes lowered as he confessed, but internally he waited impatiently. The priest took a long moment before answering him.

"Do regret your actions, my son?"This was in the priest's education. Seek contrition—counsel the penitent.

"I do, father." I do. She should have said to me: I do. And I maybe wouldn't have done her. Maybe not. Maybe so. I don't know. I don't know.

"Do you wish to reconcile your actions? To do penance? To reject Satan?" More words from his training. The young priest raised a trembling hand to wipe a layer of sweat from his brow.

"I do, father." Wouldn't do it again. Promise. Promises. Put flowers on her grave. Daffodils. Bulbs sprout in the springtime...

"Would you consider turning yourself in, my son?" The priest's voice broke into a crackle at the end of the question. He could see the sheen of the man's eyes through the filter of the screen. The eyes looked… alien.

"I am afraid, father." Prison not the place. A cliff, a pistol, perhaps, but not a jail cell thrall.

The priest felt to be at a complete loss. He heard neither fear nor remorse in the man's tone—but yet how could he know what was in his heart? Surely… He took a deep breath before continuing. "You have harmed a sister of Christ, a sister of your own. Do you not wish to make amends, my son?"

"I do, father."

But Edward knew he didn't. Meanwhile, the priest was trying to regain control of the situation. He knew there were many things he should be saying, questions he should be asking, but instead, the young priest sat in a cold sweat behind the divider. He did not believe the man was absolved, but knew that he ought to be in control and directing the course of the sacrament. But he wasn't in control. Thus, he spoke without thought."I want you to pray about this, my son."

Edward swore out a string of oaths. He wanted to slap the imbecilic sap for his incompetence.

The murderer gave a lazy nod as he leaned back on the small kneeler. "Am I absolved, father?" If I'm absolved, I can have one drink. One only. A glass to mourn the departed...

The priest spoke again in his not so steady voice. "God forgives all—Why don't you light a candle?—Consider turning yourself in?" The young priest smoothed his stole and reminded himself that it was the penitent's intentions—not the tone of voice—that made the reconciliation hold true.

On the other side of the divider, the murderer sat preoccupied with his choice of wine for the evening. "I will do what you ask, Father." Champagne seems wrong, better something Italian—or fuck, skip straight to Johnny's stash...

The priest gave a sigh of relief, the ordeal over. He bowed his head and took peace in chanting the rites of absolution. "Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate…"

An absolution and an Act of Contrition later, the false penitent left the confessional. The priest, knowing better but failing in stopping himself, sneaked a glance through the latticework. He only saw the back of the man's long wool coat. He did not recognize him.

In a dim alcove in the back of the church, the murderer knelt in front of the table of glowing, red candles. He reached into his well-tailored pocket and pulled out a finger-smudged dollar to slide into the coin slot of the battered oak box. He grabbed a candle from the slat on the edge and proceeded to light three candles.

Edward took a deep breath as he realized that this young woman had not been his first.

Doris. Amelia. Caroline.

The man remembered each of the women.

Fat lips, small waists, lips stretched wide, screaming, screaming...

Edward waited on the wrought iron park bench across from the churchyard. His thoughts left his quarry only for a moment when he perceived with a grimace that the bum had met his end on the concrete steps a half mile away. Edward couldn't see this, but the thread of thoughts and sensation had ebbed and halted, so Edward knew. That space of the world lay silent now.

The frozen winds from Lake Michigan were bone-chilling at this time of night, and he had sat long enough that the tips of his bronze hair had started to freeze. He gave his head a shake when the tall figure started down the church steps. His prey skipped in high spirits: Barnaby's juice joint'll probably have a good crowd tonight. Chester finger up his ass and piss on fire as usual—Manny with a free drink or two if I flirt—pisses off Val—a pissed off Val'll piss all over a fine night—fucking pill. Erica's due a lick or two anyway. Juicy, little cunt'd better play nice. Lucky the little bird has gams like Sheba. Don't give a fuck or a half about her pussy problems…

Edward fell into step behind the tall figure, observing with satisfaction that they were gliding along the cemetery now. To Edward, the shadows, cracked marble, and terse memorials were simple, pure features. He found sweetness in the engraved titles: "beloved mother," or "devoted friend." Even the morbid sepulchers, raised tombs, and pagan carvings seemed beautiful, and he liked the patterns of family stones in their special sections, mapping the genealogy of the parishnothing more than signs of the final stage of a normal human life.

But then again, vampires saw through the shadowsdeath was their daylight. Edward could see the individual lines in each blade of dulled grass and the subtle glint of frost on the edges of every grave. It all seemed fairly regular to him.

But to his prey, it did not.

Edward knew this from the uptake in his breath, the extra hop in his step, the stiff arc of his neck, and the stench of adrenaline and the perspiration leaking from his lower back and underarms. The man could hear Edward's steps. He knew he was being stalked. And yet his prey was accustomed to being the predator. Thus, at the corner of the cemetery fence his quarry spun on his heel and faced Edward, ready to reverse roles, ready to regain his usual place of dominance.

Instead the man found himself cowering in fear. Edward did not stop walking. He walked up and stared at man. He stared with red eyes and smiled with inhumanly white teeth, a face as pale as death.

"What?" the man demanded. His voice didn't shake.

Edward paused for only a second before he stepped forward, speaking the names aloud.

"Doris."

Pause.

"Amelia."

Pause.

"Caroline."

The man's eyes widened though he tried to hide his fear. He looked pitiable, Edward thought. An unaware passerby might think him a nice-looking man in an unfortunate set of circumstances.

Edward flung him against the fence with a snap of his hand. A bent rail hit the kidney. The man let out an agonized scream. That had hurt.

Not as much as he had hurt Doris.

Edward replayed the man's memory in his head. He had cornered her in a sitting room, found a crowbar and…

Edward punched him in the kneecap. He heard the crackling bits of bone and cartilage.

Broken, pulverized.

Wailing—squealing, like the unearthly sound of a deer being ripped alive in the jaws of a lion—screeching like a rabbit in the talons of a hawk—making noise like an animal makes noise when it accepts that silence will no longer hide it from pain or death.

Amelia had wailed. She had made those noises at the end. The savage in front of him had enjoyed those noises. Edward did not enjoy them.

Edward sacked him between the legs next.

He had…the hot poker… Edward did not want to replay what he had done to Caroline.

Down the road, two men had heard the howling-shrieking-wailing cacophony and had joined together to come investigate. Neither man had wanted to come alone. Edward rolled his eyes at their weak attempt at bravery—a nuisance, but Edward did not feel the need to drag out this affair, anyway. The man was still shrieking, however, so Edward clamped a hand over the mouth and leaped with him over the fence, running into the shadowy recesses of the cemetery.

Edward pressed him against a strangled looking elm and bit just under the jaw. He drank, pulling in the bittersweet stream, sweet like blood always was, but bitter from the adrenaline—a reason to kill quickly, even if Edward's mission demanded that he punish. Edward drank, losing himself as the thrilling waves rolled down his body, his throat loose and lackadaisical as the blood coated it like sweet aloe. He barely noticed the thrashing limbs slowly weakening or the piercing wails cutting off in a gurgling croak.

Edward buried the man in the fresh grave. The cemetery was convenient.

And then he went back to the darkened church.

He walked into the same alcove flickering with crimson candlelight that he had seen through the murder's mind. He shoved a handful of bills and several coins into the small wooden box—probably over fifty dollars—he didn't care to count. It had been the contents of the man's wallet. Edward picked up the long stick of wax and dipped the wick into a ready flame. The threads of the wick ignited, and Edward brought the flame to a dusty candle in the back row.

Edward knelt and said a short prayer. The prayer was for the bum.

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December 18, 2004 - Forks, Washington

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Carlisle handed him the sheet, and Edward scanned it, furrowing his brows as his eyes considered and logged the names on the roster.

"I can't do all of these."

"You can help these people," Carlisle insisted.

Edward shook his head. "Not all of them." He pointed at the list. "I am not touching these. No schizophrenia, eating disorders, or any extreme personality disorders. Those thoughts… I might as well scramble my brain."

"Eating disorders scramble your brain?" Carlisle asked with a quirked brow.

"They do. Teenage girls' lack of self-esteem has yet to humble their x-rated imaginations—and well—I'd rather not—high school is one thing—but doctor fantasies—besides, they'd be better treated by someone with a modicum of understanding, preferably a human female."

Carlisle nodded with a bemused smile, his curiosity spiking for an instant over the "doctor fantasies," but then he suppressed his pondering and focused on the task at hand. "But Edward, as far as the personality disorders are concerned, Ulon and Farraway both have split personality disorder, you could—"

"Quinn Ulon is an attention-seeking fraud, and Mary Farraway has some sort of physio-chemical problem that could use medication. I heard their minds when I visited you at the office."

"But Edward," Carlisle said, his golden eyes widening, "You must see it! That information is in itself groundbreaking. Psychologists and psychiatrists are titled as doctors, but we treat people with mental illness the way a veterinarian treats animals—we are well-intentioned, but we're lost, Edward. Lost. But you…" he looked down at his son.

"I can help. I know." Edward thumped his head back into the upholstered armchair for no other purpose than to plainly exhibit his frustration.

"You said you wanted to do this, Edward," Carlisle urged.

"I made a passing comment about wanting to make amends."

"It wasn't a passing comment," Carlisle stated. His gold eyes looked squarely into Edward's matching gold.

"Who's pretending to be the mind reader now?"

"You still play that song," Carlisle reminded him, sitting on the couch opposite him.

Edward decided to redirect the conversation. Carlisle's earnestness could be trying, to say the least. "But Carlisle, no one's going to believe I'm old enough to be a clinical psychologist. I'm physically seventeen for chris—"

"—yes, they will," Alice chimed knowingly, cheerfully, and annoyingly as she pranced into the room.

Jasper followed in step behind her—quit yer bellyachin'—was his thought as he sent a wave of calm to Edward. The calm caused Edward's growl to cut off, though it didn't entirely smother his irritation as Alice shoved a pair of square frames onto the bridge of his nose.

"You'll need to wear these to look older, and you're tall enough, so your patients will assume you're simply blessed with boyish good looks. No worries, I'll be dressing you." Alice winked at him.

Edward turned back to Carlisle. "I'm starting to think high school might be preferable," he stated in a flat tone.

In response, Carlisle smile vanished, and he gave a despondent look at the stack of case files.

"Edward," Jasper drawled with more twang than usual as he grabbed the remote and started flipping through the channels. "Let's just put an end to yer peacocking about and give old sawbones' idea a shot—you know you want to." Edward frowned at his "brother," who had changed the channel on the wide screen to The History Channel. "I know you want to." Jasper tapped a finger against his temple.

Edward shook his head at Jasper."Shut it, Secesh."

Jasper laughed. He liked it when Edward threw his era's slang back at him. His laughter cut short, though, as he paused to analyze Edward's emotional state. "You require employment," and a good screw, Edward. "You need a break from yer normal round of mental hernia—even if that means jawing with a few cuddly housewives over the death of their goldfish."

Carlisle frowned at Jasper's derogation of clinical psychology. Edward was frowning, too, but it was due to Jasper's crass side thought more than his commentary.

Alice, forestalling a possible argument, cut in, "Jasper's right. I've seen it," Alice insisted, taking a file from Carlisle and peering through the pages.

"Know-it-alls," Edward muttered under his breath.

Carlisle gave a fake cough. The resulting laughter broke the tension.

Edward sighed, casting a glance over at Alice who was grinning. She'd foreseen his decision-making down to the second. "Who's the first to get shrunk?" he asked with an extra dose of misery to his voice.

Carlisle picked up the roster and scanned down the list until he settled on a name. He picked up the corresponding manila file, opened it, and read, "Seventeen year-old female. New living situation. Moving from Phoenix, AZ to Forks to live with her father. Symptoms include possible depression, reclusiveness, and maladjustment. Simple enough, with your power you should be able to get her to open up." Carlisle nodded to himself and then handed the file to Edward.

Alice snatched it before Edward could grasp it.

The visions playing through Alice's brain had stopped him short: A young woman, simply dressed, walks into his consult room. Edward, sitting at his desk, looks up in surprise when she enters, but then, it happens. He catches the scent, stiffens, pounces. The young woman falls to the floor, drained and lifeless, seventy-three seconds later.

And then another flash…

Edward sitting next to her on the chaise, eyes still gold, complaining to the young woman about bad novels. His hand is on her knee…

When the image cut off, Edward found himself staring into Jasper's smiling eyes.

"Well, Copperhead, I ain't the only loose link any more, huh?" Jasper baited him. He had sensed Edward's blood lust from the vision. Edward didn't think Jasper had focused on the other feeling—the sense of comfort in the second vision.

"It's not what you think…" Edward stopped short, finding himself in the unusual position of being at a loss for words.

"Her name is Bella—not Isabella!" Alice pronounced, reading through the chart labeled "Swan, Isabella M." Carlisle moved to peer over Alice's shoulder at the dossier.

"I can't do this," Edward groaned to himself. Risking the life of an innocent was not why he'd signed up for this. His counseling was supposed to help people, not put them under the threat of his predations.

"Yes, you can," Alice replied, handing the chart over to Carlisle and standing up.

"No."

"Yes."

"Alice, arguing like this is childish," Edward snapped.

"Well, then, don't argue with me," Alice sang with blithe dismissal, not looking up from the file.

"Fine, but I'm not doing this."

"Yes, you are," Alice returned confidently. "I've seen it."

Edward shrugged and started to leave the room.

But Alice's thoughts stopped him.

You'll get over it, Edward. You won't kill her. You have my visions. You know better now.

Edward stood for only a minute longer before making his way down the hall. He slid onto the heavy oak bench which Esme had gifted him nearly two decades earlier. He stared at the keys for a few moments and then started picking at the lines of black and white, waiting for inspiration to strike. He smiled to himself when his fingers hit a particular set of notes, and then he went full blast into "Where is My Mind?"

The Pixies held a special place in the fuck-you corner of Edward's psyche.

As soon as the melody picked up, Jasper yelled at him from down the hall. "Aid-werrrd…!" he hollered, twang at full throttle. Edward cringed though he ignored him, so Jasper began to decry the great decline and fall of American music from the couch.

Apparently, Edward's playing was interrupting Jasper's viewing of "The Engineering of an Empire." Edward shook his head and continued playing. As far as he was concerned, Jasper listened to Toby Keith, so he could go and fuck himself. A minute later, Jasper sent a wave of fatigue at him. Edward felt it rolling up his spine but disregarded it, focusing solely on the patterns of black and white and the melody filling his mind and filtering out all external thought. But then, Jasper's throaty roll of the "The South Will Rise Again" came echoing down the hall.

Edward stopped playing. He would not taint the Pixies with such antebellum gaggery. Therefore, he waited patiently for Jasper to finish his hee-hawing. With Jasper's final note finished, Edward gingerly placed his fingers on the keys.

He played "Yankee Doodle" with atypical gusto.

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January 17, 2005 - Forks, Washington

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Edward spent a week in reconnaissance to scout out the personalities of his new patients.

On Monday, Edward found himself observing a well-tended house just off main street in Forks. All seemed pleasant and quiet with the household. In the kitchen, Lisa Cheney was spinning salad greens while chicken cutlets seared on the stove. In an upstairs bedroom, Ben Cheney sat with his best friend Connor. The two of them were working on a Trigonometry assignment. They were supposed to be converting polar coordinates.

Ben was eying his pencil in boredom. "Hey, you want to watch I, Robot once we're done?"

"Why isn't my calculator working?" Connor asked, still focused on his page.

"Did you set it to radians?"

"That would be the problem."

"So, yeah, I got the DVD."

"What DVD?"

"I told you, I, Robot."

"Oh, cool, but we need to finish this first."

They finished the problems in record time after that, mostly because Connor assiduously moved from problem to problem, while Ben figured them out. They were about to sit down to watch the movie, when they heard the front door open. Both boys looked at each other.

"Ben!" his father's voice boomed from downstairs.

"I guess I'll catch you later, man." Connor patted his friend on the shoulder, and then they both skipped down the steps.

Walter Cheney gave the two boys a nod when they reached the bottom of the steps. After Connor had left, Ben turned to face his dad. "Your trip ended early?" he asked.

His father ignored him. "Were you playing more video games?" I don't know how he expects to get ahead in the world when he wastes his intellect on that crap.

"No." Here we go again…

Yeah, right. His father arched his brow. "What were you doing then?"

Ben's mother entered the room. She had been listening from the kitchen and had made sure to enter at exactly this moment. "Walter, you're home early!" She embraced her husband.

"They broke down and decided to settle."

"Oh, that's wonderful." You'd think he'd be in a better mood with that…

Ben was eying the steps. Maybe if I just run up now, he'll stop with the nagging.

His foot had just hit the first step, when his mom spoke, "Nah-ah-ah, dinner's ready. In the kitchen. The both of you!" she swatted at her husband.

Smiling back at her, his father followed her into the kitchen.

Ben waited a second longer in the foyer. Well, at least he doesn't hate every member of his family…

On Tuesday, Edward needed only a second to hunt down the thoughts of his next patient, for "John" began the morning by yelling. "I am SICK and TIRED of the Salvadorans hi-JACK-ing the fucking PIZZA in this TOWN!" John Vernon was a middle-aged, gay, and bombastic editor at Northwest Travels magazine in Port Angeles. He was prone to uncalled-for tantrums.

When Esteban, a Salvadoran in fact, stepped up to defend his home country, John stared at him in surprise, insisting he had meant no offense and that the Latinos' ability to make fine Seattle coffee—not that weak drool in other cities—trumped all other possible considerations of Esteban's countrymen.

Such guileless illogic left Esteban speechless. He thought about filing a complaint with H.R., but then decided that certain people were not worth the trouble—besides, he'd heard that Mark had forced John to go to work-mandated therapy.

On Wednesday, Edward took a mental break.

On Thursday, Margaret Upton, 45, recently widowed, and depressed, did almost nothing. When she woke up at 11:07 AM, she fed the cat and grabbed a box of cereal. She sat on the couch with the TV on, though she didn't watch it, and she did what she'd done every morning for the past month: replayed her final moments with her Henry. She had been angry with him when he died. Henry wasn't like other men—never a fighter—always the sweet one—and he had stayed that way at the end, even when she had wished he wouldn't be. She hadn't forgiven herself for that. Thus, she sat on the couch, eating cereal, doing nothing, and letting her mind knot itself in insult and recrimination and regret.

Edward realized that she wouldn't come to her appointment unless he did something.

He knocked on the door.

She took her time coming, but when she answered, her mouth fell open in astonishment. Her hands clutched her robe across her chest. Mercy me!—delivery boys didn't look this way in my day—too handsome, almost... not from PeaPod for sure—a lawyer, perhaps? "Er, hello?" she asked through the crack in the door.

Edward held out his gloved hand. "Edward Cullen, I wanted to introduce myself."

She blinked in astonishment. "Cullen. Oh! Carlisle's family! You'll be my…" Why is he here? Oh—Lisa. Lisa. Lisa. She set that appointment up before she headed back to Philly, didn't she? "Seeing Dr. Cullen was the highlight of your day! Why not an appointment with his office?" I wasn't really up for protesting much of anything at the time, and he's certainly got the good genes like Dr. Carlisle…

"I know this isn't standard, but I wanted to introduce myself before our appointments," Edward explained in his most controlled tone.

"Oh," she fluttered. "Would you like to come inside?" But oh, shit, the dishes, and the trashcans, I—

"Thank you, but I'm short on time, actually. I was in the area, and I thought I'd stop by." Edward gave her a reassuring smile.

Margaret continued to blink at him. Her mind was blank.

"Well, it was nice meeting you, Margaret. I'll see you at our appointment, then." Edward dipped his head to indicate his farewell.

She gave a slow nod.

After Edward left, Margaret scolded herself for a few minutes about having thoughts about a younger man—especially her therapist—it didn't matter how handsome he was. And it wasn't fair to Henry. How would she have felt if Henry had thoughts like that but about a younger woman?

But then she stopped.

He'd always watched those Angelina movies—even the stupid, sappy ones. She gave a huff and went into the kitchen. She picked up a plate and turned on the hot water. She was going to do the dishes. After all, you never knew when company might pop by.

Down the street, Edward turned on the Volvo. He drove home.

Today, it was the first time to see her—Bella—in person, so Jasper had one arm. Emmett had the other. Jasper forced a constant blanket of calm, comfort, and satisfaction upon Edward—it was partially working. Edward's eyes remained black, his mind was half-logical, and his throat seared in agony.

Edward took his first half-a-dozen breaths on a timed cue from Jasper.

Jasper would say, "Now."

Edward would take the breath, then gasp, growl, and start to lunge.

Jasper and Emmett would push him back down. "Stop breathing!" Emmett would yell.

Edward would stop breathing.

His control had gotten better as the day had progressed, but nevertheless, it was taking a half century's worth of self-restraint, his brothers' strength, Jasper's power, and every ounce of devotion to his family not to rush into the house and drain every last delectable drop of that honey-sweet blood.

And yet, he thought, there was another factor aiding his restraint—Bella, herself. After he had been able to clear his head, Edward had been shocked to realize that even though he could hear Bella and her father talking, he could not hear their thoughts.

The three vampires had concealed themselves in the line of woods behind the Swan residence. Inside, ground chuck, salt, and onions sizzled in a cast iron pan while Bella and her father, the local police chief, exchanged a few words over the day's paper.

"Wouldn't you guess, dad, more rain tomorrow?" Bella announced. She seemed to be putting unnecessary cheer into her voice. Edward imagined that she was sad. She had arrived from Phoenix the day before. Today had been her first day of school.

"Four inches expected tomorrow, more than usual."

Edward could sense Charlie's worry over his daughter's tone, and yet he did nothing to acknowledge it. He felt unsure, lost for a solution—Edward felt his longing and regret from some past memory: something vague, yellow and too bright to stay. And yet, Charlie said nothing to verbalize the sentiment.

Edward heard a faint sigh from Bella. She stirred the meat in the pan.

The conversation was over.

Emmett turned to Edward. "Still nothing?"

Edward shook head. Bella's mind was closed to him.

"But you've been around the Chief before?" Emmett prodded.

"Once or twice at the Newton's, but I never really paid much attention to him..." Edward paused to consider this. He'd thought Charlie to be stupid, but that was not the case. "I don't hear his thoughts, but I do get the gist—he was doing calculations before with the inches of rain, then worrying about Bella—oh, and he's quite hungry."

Jasper nodded. "I picked up the same thang. Huh, it's like you ain't hearin' his thoughts—just his bare emotions."

Edward frowned at Jasper, being limited to emotions was not something to which Edward was accustomed.

Emmett spoke again, "I want to know how they do that…" He almost looked indignant.

"I don't know," Edward sighed.

"And the girly still smells like milk and honey?"

Edward fixed his unchanging black eyes on Emmett. He rolled them.

Jasper was studying Edward. "The blood lust comin' from you is just unreal."

Edward nodded. "If you two weren't here—that scent—I don't know if I'd be able to stay away. It's beyond the scope of… I've never been so uncontrolled before."

"Happened to me," Emmett said. "I was on that errand for Rosalie, and the breeze carried the scent, apple blossoms and white linen. I didn't even think about resisting. I attacked."

Edward groaned, Emmett's memory of the taste had caused his already aching throat to burst into pain again. Jasper's calming influence had little effect.

"She smell like that?" Emmett pried.

"Better. Much better."

"La tua cantante," Jasper whispered.

"Your singer?" Edward translated the words.

Jasper inclined his head. "The Volturi call 'em sangers.'" He pointed to the house. "The girl, her blood sangs to you."

As if on cue, Bella came shooting out the front door, humming, her scent flowing out across the yard. Jasper and Emmett kept their hands gripped on Edward's shoulders. But Edward sat in rigid control, not breathing, his attention rapt in watching Bella.

Bella must have run outside for a short trip, for though the air was chill, she had not bothered to put on a jacket and was wearing navy cotton shorts and flip-flops. Her keys jingled in her hand as she walked quickly to the old Chevy truck parked in the drive.

Edward found himself in the odd position of being puzzled. Bella hadn't told her father that she was going out to her truck. She hadn't seen the need, he supposed. Edward also noticed that she took her steps very carefully. When Bella leaned in to grab a book from the seat, her shirt rode up, showing her small waist and displaying a full view of her very small shorts… But Edward's thoughts stopped short when he heard his brother's thoughts.

Butt, butt, butt, butt, butt, butt... Emmett had fixated. Emmett was an ass man, and it seemed that Bella's behind had met his standards.

To his left, Jasper had also noticed the appeal of Bella's scent, although it smelled less poignant to him.

Edward tried to smack both of them—which they took as a sign for him trying to attack. "What are you doing?" Edward hissed, as they pushed him into the mossy undergrowth.

Both of them stopped and stared.

"Preventing you from eating your future patient," Emmett replied, looking confused.

Edward rolled his eyes. "I hit you because YOU," he pointed at Emmett, "were ogling her ass, and because YOU," he pointed at Jasper, "wanted to eat her, too."

Jasper's jaw hung open. This ain't just blood lust. It's also—

"—common morals," Edward spat, cutting him off.

Jasper shook his head, a sly grin stretching across his face. Hey, now, Edward, yer gittin' all territorial over yer little human, and it aint' just 'cause she's tasty.

Emmett broke the silent exchange. "She does have a nice butt," he assured in mock solemnity. Emmett tended to resort to simple crudeness when his family's mental antics tested his unlengthy patience.

"Shut it, Emmett," Edward muttered.

"Aw, acknowledge the corn, brother, and Em, Ed was checkin' her out, too." Jasper wiggled his eyebrows as he smirked at Edward.

Emmett's face flattened into a wide grin, and he turned back toward the house where Bella was opening the front door. "I mean, I'm not saying that there's an ass in the world that could compete with my Rosie's, but for a human, Bella's is upscale, and those, I might say, are a fine pairs of legs—" His words cut off when Edward tackled him.

Jasper joined in the fray with every sense of brotherly duty.

They had to halt the mêlée a minute later. Edward had managed to dodge both Emmett and Jasper's pounces and had got in a swipe that had sent Emmett into the trunk of the full leafed walnut, severing the tree halfway from its top, causing a shower of leaves and nuts to rain down on a laughing Emmett. But the shuddering crack had been loud.

They all tensed when they heard the creak and whine of a window opening. Bella's pale face peered out through a second story window in the house. Her soft brown eyes scanned the yard and the forest, pausing when they rested upon the newly cleared spot in the tree line. She stared for a minute before shaking her head as if to reprove herself. Then, she stepped back into her room.

The three vampires lay silent until the window squeaked shut again.

As they ran back home, Edward tried and failed to sort out the turmoil brewing in his chest. He couldn't name it. He didn't know if it was the silence of her mind, her enticing perfume, the fragility in her step, or Alice's visions playing tricks on him, but he did know this:

He was anxious for her first appointment.


Chapter End Notes:

1. 20's era slang:

Bank's Closed - no kissing or making out
Dough– money
John– toilet
Ducky– good
Line- Insincere flattery
Flapper - A stylish, brash, hedonistic young woman with short skirts & shorter hair
High-Hat- To snub
Aspic – savory gelatin. Today, it's used to glaze show pieces in food competitions to make the food glisten, but its original use was to prolong the shelf life of food. Glazing the entire item cut off the oxygen supply to the food, preventing bacteria within from multiplying. (Yes, this horrifies me.)
Juice Joint - a speakeasy, illegal Prohibition Era bar
Sheba- an attractive lady. (Sheik for a male.)
Gams - nice legs

2. Prayers by the acting priest, e.g. the absolution, in the sacrament of reconciliation would have been said in Latin pre-Vatican II. In the Catholic sacrament of Penance, all confessions are absolutely confidential under the Seal of Confession. Should a priest violate the seal, he would be excommunicated and most certainly, no longer a priest. A reader made a note to me that excommunication does not mean that one is irrevocably damned to hell. This is true, but excommunication is the church's way of warning someone that they are doomed if they don't repent, so it's a pretty big deal.

3. Catholic consecrated candles for the dead: I couldn't find an entry on this, but it's common practice in a Catholic parish to have a table of candles in the back (the candles are typically made by the nuns) as a way to pray for the dead. You have the option to give alms when you choose to claim a candle for a deceased, and you say a prayer as the candle burns for the departed.

4. Jasper's Civil War slang:
Bellyache - complain
Peacock About - strut around
Copperhead- Northern person with Southern, anti-Union sympathies; a common North-American poisonous snake
Jawing - talking
Sawbones - surgeon
Secesh - derogatory term for Confederates and Southerners: secessionists
Acknowledge the Corn - to admit the truth, to confess a lie, or acknowledge an obvious personal shortcoming