**For the Love of Bella won the NewCon 2009 Fanfiction Contest!! I am so excited!!**
A/N: First and for most, this story would not be if it weren't for my lovely beta and my muse, my darling Nicky (a.k.a n7of9)! She has been my driving force, my support and she designed the banner for the story. She is my catalyst, I merely brought the tools.
Disclaimer: Nicky and I do not own Twilight or any of its characters, we just like to play with them!
"I'm gonna have a good time tonight
Rock and roll music gonna play all night
Come on, baby, it won't take long
Only take a minute just to sing my song"
"Death By Stereo"
I sat in my chair staring across the empty bookstore. It was quiet now but I knew soon it would be teeming with readers who loved my books. Writing was my life and though it took a while to get here, all I really had was time. I couldn't help thinking about what brought me to this point in my life. It was a night that I would never be able to forget, one that changed my life forever, and when I say forever, I meant for all eternity. I could remember it all as if it just happened yesterday. Nothing could have prepared me for this or for all the pain that went along with what I had become. That stupid party, I should have never attended! I shook my head as I recollected the life altering events that made me what I am today.
I was only twenty, too young to drink and too stupid to think not to walk home at night alone. I really should have known better. My father was the Chief of Police back in my hometown of Forks, Washington. It was a little town but, nonetheless, I was forever being lectured about safety from my father. Alas, I was naive and always thought of the world as a good place. I was so wrong! Who would have thought monsters really existed.
I was in college at the University of Washington and I wanted to be a writer. It was my sophomore year and I had my whole life ahead of me. I let out a sigh as I recollected everything, the sights of the college campus, the smells of fall, and the beautiful colors of the red and orange leaves on the trees swaying in the breeze. I closed my eyes as everything came into view.
I was walking from my Creative Writing class on that Friday afternoon. It was October 31st of 1989. Halloween was one of my favorite times of the year and I was really excited about going to my first college party. I had managed to make friends with Jessica Stanley who belonged to one of the campus sororities. Our personalities were the complete opposite however we got along really well. There was a big Halloween party on Greek Row where all the sorority and fraternity houses were. I normally wouldn't have been invited but because of my friendship with Jessica, not going wasn't an option.
I was walking across the courtyard heading for my dormitory when I heard Jessica's voice call out among the crowd. "Bella!" I turned around but couldn't find her in the sea of students. "Bella…Isabella Swan!" Jessica's voice boomed. I finally saw her standing on a park bench waving her arms at me as if she were trying to flag down a ship. I couldn't help but smile as I walked over to her. She was so loud and boisterous. She was also a little too friendly with the guys but I didn't let that stand in the way of our friendship. Where I was shy, quiet, and plain, she was outgoing, loud, and pretty.
"Hey Jess. What's up?" I asked as she jumped down from the bench.
"You haven't forgotten about the party have you? You didn't change your mind did you?" She looked eager for my answer and I could tell she feared I wouldn't show.
I shook my head no as I replied, "No, I'll be there, costume and all."
"Awesome! Everyone will totally be there! I'm so excited!!" Jessica's voice went up a few octaves as she jumped around like a cheerleader. "It's about time you got out and had some fun! That new guy Mike Newton who transferred from Stanford is supposed to be there too! He's totally hot! I'd give it to him in a heartbeat!" Jessica flashed a bright smile and gave me a wink.
I couldn't help but blush as I looked down at my shoes and snickered. Jessica was always so brash and was liable to say anything. It was embarrassing but part of me wished I could be as outgoing as she was. If anyone could help me out of my shell, I was sure she could do it. I was really tired of being alone.
"I'm gonna go back to the dorm and get ready." I said as I glanced up at Jessica.
"Cool. See ya then!" Jessica quickly hugged me. My body went rigid as she embraced me, my arms were pinned to my side and I really didn't know how to react to her. It was over in seconds and she was off after another student. I stood there motionless for a moment as I watched her run off then shook my head as I heard her calling out to Angela. Tonight, I needed to try to be more open to people. I was never going to come out of my shell if I didn't at least try. Being in disguise is the best way to let go of your inhibitions, I reasoned with myself as I turned and made my way back to my dorm thinking about the costume I was going to wear to the party. It may be a little silly but I had always had a thing for vampires. There was something mysteriously romantic about them. I loved the old Dracula movies, especially the one with Bela Logusi. I always thought that I wanted to be a vampire. They were so beautiful and graceful, who needs sunlight anyway! The new vampires that Hollywood gave us were younger and sexier. Who wouldn't want to be bitten by them! "The Lost Boys" was on my current list of top favorites. Jason Patric made one hot vampire!
My roommate was never home and today was no different. I was happy that I had the room to myself as I showered and dressed. I had purchased a cheap vampire cape, some fake teeth, and some Halloween face paint. I dressed in black boots, black tights, black denim mini skirt, and white shirt with a red cummerbund. It took me nearly an hour to get my makeup just right. I generally hated makeup but I felt it was required for effect. I was pale but not vampire pale.
Once I was done with the makeup, I put in my fake vampire teeth and tied on my cape. I took a long look in the mirror. I bared my fangs and hissed at myself a few times for affect before I giggled at how silly I looked. I picked up a tube of fake blood and dripped a little down the corner of my mouth. I then put on some jewelry and stood back to survey my finished look. "Bela Logusi would have been proud," I smiled as I tugged on my skirt. Satisfied with the job I had done, I grabbed my student ID and slid it in my back pocket. I didn't want to be caught walking around campus without it. Sometimes the security patrol could be difficult if you were caught without your ID and I was sure tonight they would be in full force.
I made my way across campus to Greek row. There were people running around everywhere dressed as everything from fairy princesses to zombies. I could hear the party that was underway at Alpha Kappa Gamma. The music was loud and I was nervous but excited at the same time. You can do this, I told myself.
As I entered the sorority house, I found Jessica right away. She was at the door handing out candy and beer to all of the party goers. She was dressed in a sleeveless tight red satin mini dress with red fishnet stockings, a devil's tail and had light-up devil horns on her head. I would never have the nerve or the body to pull something like that off.
"Bella!!" She screamed as she came running to me in her red high heeled shoes. It amazed me how she could run and not fall. I would have been face down on the floor already. She hugged me tightly as she shoved a wine cooler in my hand. "I was afraid you wouldn't show up!"
I wasn't much of a drinker but I didn't want to offend her. Besides, it's a party, right? I shrugged and took the bottle from Jessica. "I told you I would be here," I said as I took out my vampire teeth and took a sip of the wine cooler.
"Don't sip it silly, slam it!" Jessica yelled above the crowd and it instantly felt as if all eyes were on me. I felt the heat of my blush working its way up my neck as I swallowed hard.
"OK…OK," I smiled as I chugged the whole wine cooler down my throat.
"Whoooo!!" Jessica screamed as several party goers hooped and yelled at my downing the wine cooler. Jessica quickly replaced my empty bottle with a new one. "That's my girl!" she beamed as she ushered me into the house.
A couple of hours and many wine coolers later, I was completely intoxicated and was starting to get sleepy. I had danced around a little and talked to a few people but I wouldn't have called the night a success. I really just wanted to go back to the dorms. I stumbled around the house looking for Jessica and I finally found her in the kitchen. She was sitting on the kitchen counter with her legs wrapped around a tall blond haired guy that she was deeply kissing. Despite my drunken stupor, I was still shocked to see that Jessica would openly let this guy grab her breasts with all of the other people standing around. I closed my gaping mouth and started to walk away when I heard Jessica's voice.
"Oh…hey Bella," she said as I turned back toward her and the guy she was with. "This is Mike Newton." She winked at me, "Mike, this is my friend, Bella."
"Nice to meet you Bella," he smiled at me as he looked me up and down. I smiled back at him sheepishly as I darted my eyes to the ground feeling uncomfortable at the way Mike was looking at me. He was definitely a player and I made a mental note to talk to Jessica about it in the morning, if I even remembered.
"You too," I nodded at him and then looked back up at Jessica. "Um, Jess, I'm gonna go back to the dorm. If I don't go now, I'll end up passed out on the front lawn."
"OK hon, be careful and I will talk to you later." She winked at me again as she grinned. I smiled back and waved goodbye as I turned to leave.
I slowly made my way to the front of the house. There were people dancing and making out everywhere. The place was packed causing me to bump into people as I staggered out the front door. Part of me wanted to sit down and rest, the other part of me wanted my own bed. That part won out as I stumbled across the front lawn.
Somehow, I managed to wonder off of campus but hadn't realized I was lost until I looked up and saw I was no longer on the college grounds. I didn't recognize the neighborhood or the streets and I couldn't figure out how I had gotten so turned around. I began to feel a little panicked as I continued walking, trying to get my bearings straight. I heard some loud music a few streets over and decided to turn and head toward the sound. It has to be the party, I thought to myself, but to my dismay, the more I walked, the further away music seemed to get. I stopped walking once it occurred to me that I was following a car radio. "Idiot," I mumbled as I took another look at my surroundings.
I decided to turn left because it seemed to make sense to me at the time. My sense of direction was off due to my inebriation but I felt as though another left turn would take me back to where I came. When the road dead-ended, I decided it was time to turn around and try to retrace my steps. As I slowly turned and started walking back the way I came, I saw two people, one male, one female coming towards me. The male was tall with blond hair, wearing a leather biker jacket, dirty jeans and no shoes. The female had wild wavy strawberry blond hair with leaves and twigs stuck in it. She had on a shaggy fur wrap that was dirty with holey jeans and she, too, wore no shoes. Fear gripped my heart when I saw them but I couldn't figure out why. Something about them just seemed off. I could hear their laughter and it seemed to echo all around me, giving me chills down my spine.
My instincts told me to run so I ducked down a narrow alleyway and once they were out of my sight, I frantically took off running. I looked back and saw the male enter the opening of the alley. He stopped and just stood there watching me run. Waves of terror started to flood my body as I turned back toward the direction I was running. I could hear my boots hitting the pavement of the narrow alleyway. My heart raced and my breathing became heavy as I pushed myself to go faster. There was a faint swooshing sound that broke my concentration and made me look up. Just ahead of me, there stood the wild haired woman. I gasped as I nearly tripped trying to a stop. I frantically looked around, desperately trying to find a path of escape when I heard the male's laughter closing in behind me. I jumped toward the back of one of the abandoned buildings. There was nowhere else to run.
I saw a door that was padlocked but the wood appeared to be old and dry rotted. I ran to it, jerking furiously on the door. I was able to pull the door open just enough to squeeze through the opening. I scurried behind a wall and crouched in the corner trying to quiet my breathing. All traces of my early drunkenness had vanished as the prickling fear taunted my body. I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer, hoping that if there truly was a God, he would somehow save me. As I opened my eyes again, I let out a blood curdling scream. There, standing before me, were the man and the woman who had been chasing me.
"Look what we have here Victoria," the male's voice hissed. "A midnight snack!"
"No, please…don't hurt me." I pleaded. Something about the look in their eyes and the way they held their bodies reminded me of feral animals. Adrenaline and the terrorizing fear made my body shake as my eyes searched for an escape. My head began to swim as I felt faint and fought against the urge to vomit. I cold sweat broke across my forehead as my eyes moved wildly between the two people in front of me. I was so scared I couldn't believe this was really happening to me. I wanted my dad, I wanted to be back at that party, and I wanted to be back in my dorm room, anywhere but here.
"Did you hear that James?" Victoria asked as she crouched down in front of me. "The little tart is begging for you not to hurt her."
"I love it when they beg," James mused as he knelt down next to Victoria. I drew in a sharp breath as he finished his sentence, "It makes the blood that much sweeter."
What? Blood? Did he say blood? My mind continued to race as James leaned into me. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply through his nose as if he smelled the sweet fragrance of a rose. When his eyes opened, I sucked in a quick breath to scream but no sound came - his eyes were the color of blood!
I started to shake my head in disbelief as I tried to force my body further into the wall behind me. "No, no, please…no." I pleaded again as the tears began to spill over onto my cheeks.
James snatched up my arm so harshly I fell over to the ground. My head sharply hit the floor, shooting pain through my head and briefly stunning me. His hands were freezing cold and felt hard as they clasped my wrist. He was holding my arm out as a child would who was dragging a rag doll behind them.
"Ladies first," he hissed as he offered my arm to Victoria, pulling me across the hard concrete floor. I tried to struggle as I felt my arm being passed off to Victoria. She grabbed my arm with a quick snap.
"Thank you my sweet," her voice seethed between her teeth as she smiled at him but, once she turned to look at me, her smile turned into a snarl as her teeth clamped down on my wrist. Hard.
I screamed as the pain instantly shot up my arm and at the shock of what was happening to me held me in panic. The pain melted into an intense burning that began radiating from my wrist and up my arm as Victoria's teeth sunk deep into my flesh. James wrapped his hands across my face and grabbed my mouth, trying to hush my screams. He forced my face to the side as his teeth bit through the skin on my neck. I felt the same searing heat begin to scorch through my veins. The pain was quickly becoming unbearable as the liquid fire began weaving its way through my body. My veins felt as if they were splitting open, each passing second became more excruciating than the last. Eventually, my screaming stopped and my mind began to slip into darkness as the devouring inferno began to consume my body.
I heard some scuffling as my body was jerked up and then dropped. My head hit the floor again and I faded in and out of consciousness feeling like I was walking a thin line between life and death but the fiery attack on my body never ceased. When I would surface, I thought I could hear whispers, but the agony of the torment and pain that dominated my existence, would always pull me back under. I felt as if my body was drifting through a sea of flames and yet it didn't feel as though my skin was burning. I couldn't scream, I couldn't move, I was just silently suffering, burning. My mind began to believe that I had died and I was descending into a lake of fire but, I couldn't image or remember what I would have done to land myself in Hell. Maybe my sins were too great. Maybe it was because I didn't ask for forgiveness before I died. I tried to think of something else but I had been burning too long. If it were a physical burn my body would have gone numb by now and I would be nothing but ash. Hell was the only thing I could come up with. It was the only thing that made sense. I felt paralyzed. I was alone in my darkness and the only constant was the intensity of the burning flames. Even though I never saw the fire, I could feel it blazing just under my skin; it was all inside of me.
I was frightened but somehow calm. I couldn't make a sound and yet in my mind I was screaming. I could still hear the whispering of voices and I could feel a presence around me but I was unable to open my eyes to see who it was. Maybe I was at my funeral and the presence I felt were the mourners paying their last respects. I pushed that thought away because I was still burning so my soul couldn't be with my body, could it? And, why was my mind still thinking?
At some point I felt my thoughts began to get clearer. Though I hadn't made a single sound, it seemed as if I had been screaming in Hell forever. I began to realize that the pain was fading from my fingers and toes. The fire continued to fade slowly up my lower legs and arms but where I felt relief, the pain concentrated in the center of my body. I no longer felt my brain was on fire and I could hear everything around me. There was a soft sound I imagined to be the air blowing through a vent, it was the only way I could describe it and a hum, some kind of hum…the hum of…electricity? Maybe I was still more confused than I thought, but I could definitely make out the shuffle of feet, and I could still hear the whispering, always the whispering.
The pain continually faded from my extremities but pulled inwardly toward my chest. There were parts of my body that felt completely free from the fire and the relief felt so good, but other parts that had not passed through to the relief and were still burning with a white hot intensity. I could feel my heart beating loudly in my ears and the pain there was like a red hot poker impaling my chest cavity. I started gasping for air as my heart pounded hard against my ribcage and my chest felt as if it were going to combust.
"It won't be long now," I heard the tinkling little voice of a female. "I can't wait for her to wake up."
"Shhh!" I heard a male voice whisper. My mind flashed to my last memories of being awake. What if I was hearing James and Victoria? What if they brought me back to a dungeon and planned on torturing me some more? What had they done to me to cause me to burn? My heart was straining against my chest as the pain sucked closer to it.
"She's panicking." The little voice warned.
My heart was racing so fast it sounded like the thundering of a thousand horses' hooves as my lungs continued to gasp for air. The pain was stabbing all around it. If I wasn't dead, I was definitely going into cardiac arrest. My heart was going to explode! The squeezing pain suddenly shot through my heart as I drew in one last fighting breath. There were two loud thuds and then it was silent. I felt all the air collapse out of my lungs as a single tear escaped out of the corner of my eye. I knew that I was finally dead.
"Why isn't she waking up?" the little voice asked impatiently.
"Give her time," I heard a soothing male voice say. I was confused. I wasn't burning any more so I couldn't be in Hell, I was hyper aware of everything around me, and I couldn't be dead because I could hear people talking. Maybe I went to Heaven after all and everything I had felt was my body dying. I could try to open my eyes but I couldn't deny that I was still scared. I finally made the decision to try and began to blink as my eyes fluttered open. I saw that I wasn't in Heaven; I was in a room, just a plain old room like any other. Relief flood over me as I began to realize that I wasn't in Hell. I squinted as I looked at the ceiling and moved my head to look around the room. There were books lined up on the wall next to me. My fear had somehow left me when I saw the books. I turned my head in the other direction and saw a tall, attractive, blond haired man in a lab coat and a short dark haired girl standing next to him. They both were smiling at me. If this was Heaven, they could be angels, but why the lab coat? I didn't feel threatened and somehow I knew that they were not going to hurt me. I smiled back but grimaced quickly as the tension in my face felt strange. I sat up and swung my legs around as I hooped off the table. I half expected my legs to buckle but I felt light as a feather and stood quite easily.
I tried to speak but there was a burning in my throat. I brought my hand up to feel the fire but all I felt was my cool skin. My throat felt as if I had been without water for days. "Thirsty." I whispered.
"We'll take care of that in a minute. There are some things we need to discuss. What do you remember?" The man in the lab coat asked. He was a stunningly handsome man. His face was pale and his eyes were a golden brown. He looked like a god and I felt reassured as he smiled at me.
"I…I remember," I paused and tried to swallow to relieve the burn. "I remember being attacked but that's all. Please, may I have some water?"
"Hi Bella! I'm Alice!" The little dark hair girl beamed as she burst forward and gave me a hug. She was beyond beautiful! She had creamy white skin and the same golden brown eyes as the man with her did. Maybe I was in Heaven after all and she was an angel. She certainly looked and sounded like one, so much so that I thought about looking behind her for her wings as she hugged me.
I smiled at her as she broke away from me and then my smile faded. "How did you know my name?"
"We found the student ID in your pocket," the man spoke as he came close to me. "I'm Dr. Carlisle Cullen," he smiled as he extended a hand to me. Doctor? It was time to drop the Heaven and Angels dream, I didn't think they would have doctors and ID cards in Heaven. So I tried to gather my senses and looked at the gorgeous blond man directly.
"Dr. Cullen." I nodded as I shook his hand. "Am I going to be OK?"
"You're going to be fine, and please, call me Carlisle," he smiled and then a more professional look fell across his face as he led me to the couch in the corner. "Bella, I need to tell you some things and I need you to keep an open mind."
Alice walked over to me and placed a hand on my arm. "It'll be OK Bella. I promise. We are here to help you and we won't leave you alone. The people that hurt you are gone." She smiled at me but the smile didn't meet her eyes.
I listened in disbelief as Carlisle began to tell me what had happened to me. He had tried to say it in 5 different ways but they all ended up with the same outcome, I was now a vampire. I actually laughed after the first time he said it and started to recite my favorite lines from "The Lost Boys". I sat up all serious and said in a deep voice, "'Now you know what we are; now you know what you are. You'll never grow old, Michael, and you'll never die. But you must feed!' " I noticed the serious look that passed between Carlisle and Alice. I quickly apologized as I tried to stop my nonsense. I started to chuckle again as I waved my hands around, "No…wait, I've got it!" I paused to get the giggling under control and poise a more serious look, "'Death by stereo!'" I burst out laughing. Even Alice and Carlisle chuckled with me.
"I think she's going into hysterics. I'll go get Jasper." I heard Alice whisper to Carlisle as she disappeared out the door.
"'Vampires my friend, vampires,'" I giggled to myself as I watched Alice leave the room. "I was just kidding," I called after her. She returned quickly with a tall slender blond man who looked slightly younger than Carlisle but was every bit as handsome. What was with all the gorgeous people?
"Bella, this is my husband, Jasper." Alice said as she introduced us.
"It's a pleasure to meet you." Jasper said and suddenly, I felt relaxed.
"You too," I smiled as waves of soothing calm flooded over me.
I knew I was ready to listen now. I no longer found the situation funny as I realized that what Carlisle was trying to tell me was the truth. We talked for what seemed like hours and I asked every question I could think of, sometimes twice. He showed me the scar on my wrist and proved to me that I no longer had a heart beat. That was a little hard to take to say the least! He opened the blinds in his office and showed me that sunlight wouldn't hurt me but explained to me that I still had to steer clear of walking in its rays. He put his hand in the light and I almost expected to see it burst into flames. Instead I saw the rays reflect off his skin and a multitude of colors dance across the ceiling and walls. It was more beautiful in that little room for those 10 seconds than anything I had ever seen. It was as if a rainbow had landed on us and was filling the room with sunshine and brightness. He explained to me about being a "newborn" and my need for human blood. Unfortunately, that was the one vampire myth that was true. I tried as hard as I could to show him and Alice that I wasn't a coward when they mentioned killing. I was more than a little relieved when Carlisle told me about the alternate lifestyle that he and his family lived, feasting only on animal blood and calling themselves "vegetarians". I giggled at this and this time they both joined me. We had been talking for quite some time and we had all started to relax.
Carlisle explained to me about the night I was attacked and how he and his family had found me. I listened intently and after he explained everything to me, he opened the door to our little room, and I met the rest of his family.
They pretty much took me in, no questions asked, that is no questions from them! I had a million questions and asked each and every one of them. Everyone was kind to me, for the most part, and went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. Carlisle, who I found acted as the patriarch of the family, had a deep compassion for saving lives. His wife Esme was very loving and motherly. Alice could see the future and her husband Jasper could control emotions. Rosalie had the gift of beauty and her husband Emmett had the most strength out of all of us, well except for me because I was a newborn. They all assume the role of Carlisle and Esme's adopted children when they are in the human eye and even though they were married to their mates, they often claimed to be only dating because they were usually enrolled in school. I usually didn't participate in the high school façade. I took college courses and worked on my writing.
It took little effort to adapt to the Cullen family lifestyle. Carlisle thought it was because I was already a vegetarian in my human life. One thing I was happy to see fade were my dreadful red eyes. Every time I looked in the mirror I was reminded of James and Victoria. But thankfully within a year I had the same golden eyes as the rest of the family and I was once again 100% bona fide vegetarian. My looks had changed too. When I looked at my reflection, I saw a beautiful image, not the plain girl I used to be.
Alice and I quickly became the best of friends whereas Rosalie and I barely tolerated each other. I didn't mind her really but, it seemed that she didn't like me much so I made sure I left her alone. Emmett and Jasper were the perfect big brothers and Carlisle and his wife Esme became my "adopted" parents as well. I eventually even took on their last name as the years passed. It was just easier for every reason to become a Cullen especially once I started going out in public. It made sense. I was now a part of their family, their coven. They all helped me through grieving for my human family and the life I left behind, the boys enjoyed showing me how to hunt for food, and it didn't take long to settle into my new life. I felt resentment at first, resentment for all the things I had lost, but now I couldn't imagine being any other way or living without a single one of them. Even Rose would be missed. Her snide remarks to me over the years had dissipated, but she was always up for a fight when she was bored.
Now, as I sat in the bookstore, it didn't surprise me that all these memories came flooding back to me. Being in the same town where it all began was sure to spark old memories. I had already ventured on to the college campus. It hadn't changed much in 20 years. I even found the alleyway where my life had changed forever. Seattle definitely held some bittersweet memories for me.
"Are you ready Ms. Cullen?" the owner of the bookstore asked me.
"Yes," I nodded and focused my eyes on the door as the manager made her way to open up. It was my first book signing and I felt a little nervous. Alice had already told me everything would be OK. Her ability to see the future really came in handy. Still, there was something odd by the way she said it today and I replayed her words from this morning in my mind.
"Everything will be wonderful. Don't worry, it will all work out." Alice was smiling when she said it and she seemed overly cheerful. I thought it was odd at first but after all, this was Alice, so I quickly dismissed it as me being nervous and tried to push it out of my mind.
I heard the locks turn on the door and I snapped to attention. The doors opened, and people started flooding in.
"Moment of truth," I whispered under my breath as I picked up the black sharpie and forced a smile on my face.