This story picks up in Breaking Dawn after Edward and Bella have left Isle Esme, on the plane ride home.
Stephanie Meyers owns all things Twilight!
I swear something moved inside me just now.
Even just as an echo in my memory, Bella's words still burned right through me, a jagged blaze of shock and horror. This devastating, inescapable awareness that it was not a bad dream or a hideous mistake, but a monstrous reality, pierced through me as sharply now as it had the first time. Oh god, no. I felt a shudder rip through my body. I glanced quickly at Bella, but she was still staring silently out the airplane window. I didn't want to burden her with my fears, thinking she must be consumed by her own. I looked back forward for a moment, struggling to remain calm.
Time had dragged painfully during the endless flight home. I hated being trapped here in the sky, helpless, cursing the many miles that still lay in front of us. My initial reaction had been to just grab Bella, put her in the boat, and then run with her when we hit mainland. But it was a ridiculous, dangerous idea. So now we sat in the plane, as the minutes ticked by, and I felt I would go mad with worry and fear. I was terrified for Bella. Every second that went by felt like a lost moment to save her. We had no idea what this creature really was, and what it might be doing to her right now. What I yearned for now was to see Carlisle, and deliver Bella to his care.
Bella had been so quiet during the flight home, mostly looking out the window. I watched her carefully, and sometimes she would briefly turn towards me, her fathomless eyes meeting mine. Her face seemed cautious, with an expression I couldn't place. Was it fear? Anxiety? Horror at the idea of what I've done to her? But it didn't seem to be any of those things. There was an odd aura of calm in her expression, and that concerned me. Could she be in shock?
She gazed up at me now, and I leaned over and kissed her head, letting her warmth and scent fill my senses. Her fingers slid gently up my arm, creating a river of heat up to my shoulder. She rested her hand on my neck, soft, exquisite bliss against my hard skin. I reached my arm carefully around her slight body.
"Don't worry," I murmured, rubbing her back gently. "We're going to take care of this." Immediately, she stiffened and turned her head back to the window, pulling back her hand as my arm fall away. I froze, surprised, for a moment, and then leaned back against my seat. Maybe she doesn't even want to think about it. Who could blame her?
Several times, I saw her hand move down to touch her stomach, and dread hammered through me. In the back of my head I kept replaying what I had heard on Isle Esme. Morte. Dead. The mother did not live – the monster killed her from the inside out. The monster I created. Anger and guilt consumed me at this thought, vicious, unrelenting. I hated the thing inside her. I hated that it might be causing her any kind of pain. That it could kill her. But none of it compared to how much I hated myself. This was my fault. I had done this to her. I had cursed her with my monstrous existence. Was there nothing I could do with her, no part of me that didn't bring her pain? That didn't endanger her life?
Finally, we began our merciful descent towards the airport. As the wheels touched down on the airstrip, I reached out my mind, searching for Alice. I found her quickly, but the pain in her mind felt like a physical blow. What was wrong with her? She was trying to search for Bella's future, but the visions of Bella were blurry or nonexistent. I felt a new surge of panic. It was like something was blocking her vision of Bella. What? Why? The blurry images made my head swim, and I pulled my mind away from Alice's, the pain ebbing immediately.
When we were cleared to leave the plane, I reached over and brushed the hair back from Bella's face. Her eyes turned to me, filled with some sort of intense emotion. She was so lovely, and I ached to take her pain away, to make things right again. I leaned over and kissed her gently on her pale cheek.
"I love you," I whispered in her ear. I pulled back to look at her, and she nodded, her wide eyes searching my face.
"I know," she whispered, her first words in several hours.
I stood up and gently helped her to her feet. I placed my hand on her warm back, feeling her heart beat beneath my fingers, and helped guide her out of the plane. It took all my control not to send the foolish humans who kept bumping into her flying into the side of the plane. When we reached the terminal, I wrapped my arm around her, but she seemed to shrug it off. She resents me for this, I thought painfully. So, instead, I took her hand gently in mine and led her towards where I could sense my family was waiting.
My family's minds were very clear to me now. Everyone's thoughts were filled with worry and concern for Bella. Alice's head continued to be a jumble of blurry images of Bella, and pain. When I got close enough to see, her face was pinched and miserable. Jasper was concentrating on Alice. He was trying not to become consumed by everyone's anxiety, attempting to beat it back with calm so that he could try to help relieve her pain.
Rosalie's mind caught me off guard. She was feeling very intense about something, but her thoughts were wild and unclear. It was hard to distinguish her emotions – was she angry? Images of Bella filled her head several times and my thoughts blackened. Why was she feeling so strongly about Bella? Was she jealous of the pregnancy? It would be like her to make this about herself. I had an irrational fear that Rosalie might try to attack Bella, right here in the airport. But that was ridiculous – what would be her motivation? I tried to shut out the self-centered workings of Rosalie's mind.
"Is your family here?" Bella asked quietly, breaking into my contemplation. I glanced down, surprised, but of course her human eyes couldn't see what mine did.
"Yes, right over there." I gestured, and her eyes squinted in that direction.
"All of them?" she breathed.
"Yes, they are all here," I said. Her heartbeat picked up. She's anxious to see Alice, I thought. And Carlisle, of course. To hear from him that everything would be OK. She would trust his reassurances over mine, as she rightly should. Unlike me, Carlisle had never done anything to harm her. I paused, reaching out to take her other hand, and pulled her to me, cradling her hands against my chest. This would be our last few moments alone, and I was filled with a strange sense of foreboding. Bella took her hands out of mine and reached up to my face, her warm fingers caressing my skin. I cherished her touch, aching with the feelings of happiness and despair that dueled inside me.
"Edward," she whispered. "I…" She trailed off, the words seeming to get stuck in her throat. She searched my face, looking for something. She seemed to be struggling to figure something out, to make a decision. What did she want?
"It's okay, love," I said. "In a few hours this will all be a bad dream." Bella froze, and something flashed in her eyes before she closed them and looked away. Her shoulders seemed to hunch over a little.
"Let's go," she said in a quiet, rough voice, pulling away from me and starting to walk again. I took her hand, confused by her reaction. I couldn't think clearly on this anymore. I needed Carlisle.
I searched Carlisle's mind, seeing it filled with thoughts about the surgical room he had begun to set up in his office at home, and the equipment he had brought from the hospital. There were bags of blood in the refrigerator, just in case Bella needed them. He was working through all the possible scenarios of how the procedure might go. His final thought sent a piercing jolt of shock through me. If all else went wrong, Carlisle planned to change her. He would do it himself if I wouldn't – to save Bella if he couldn't stop the bleeding, or to allow the venom to kill the thing inside her if he couldn't get it out. He was agonizing over it, trying to envision the best spots to bite in order to make the transformation quicker. How to get the most venom into her bloodstream. His mind filled with an image of himself, kneeling by a sleeping Bella, her arm in his grip, as his mouth rested against her wrist. He remembered how he would fight the bloodlust, how he had in the past. He remembered the scent of her blood.
I froze on the spot. Even when Carlisle had agreed to change Bella after graduation, he had never let his thoughts get this far. The horror of this image, of Bella, helpless, Carlisle's teeth about to pierce her fragile skin, filled me with a sickness and despair that tore at my brain. My emotions halted coherent thought, and an intense feeling of fury at Carlisle began to overtake me. I didn't move, fighting against the overwhelming urge to throw myself at him, to attack him, to protect my love. We were about 15 feet away and I locked eyes with Carlisle. He realized I had seen what he was thinking, and I knew he had not meant for me to see those images in his mind. His face was anguished. It may be the only way, Edward, he thought. You need to accept that.
No, I screamed inside my head. Not like this. Bella was tugging on my arm and I felt her fingers twist out of mine. I glanced over to see her flying across the open space towards my family, her long brown hair cascading out behind her. We all watched her, statues, except for Alice. Holding her fingers pressed against her eyes she took a step forward, as if to meet her.
But Bella flew by Alice and, in a flash, was swept into Rosalie's arms. Rosalie? I was too dumbstruck to move. And then, suddenly, like the boom of thunder, Rosalie's thoughts finally broke free and crashed down on me. The baby. Save the baby. Her baby. Mine. I won't let them hurt it. Anger flooded my brain and I roared back to life. In a fraction of a second, I was at Bella's side, the rest of my family still frozen. Rosalie's arms were around Bella, steel vices, and Bella was sobbing into her chest. I put my hands on Bella's shoulders.
"Let her go, Rose," I said, my voice deadly. She just stared back at me grimly. I searched her mind, trying to get a hold on her plans. There was a resolve, a plan to protect the baby at all costs. And an aching desire she couldn't hide to have that baby as her own. Anger and hate clouded my vision momentarily. I wanted to rip her head off.
"I'm not going to let you act out your sick fantasies on my wife," I hissed at Rosalie, too low for Bella to hear. She narrowed her eyes at me and sent a thought in my direction. A memory of a phone call from Bella. You have to help me, Rosalie. I want this baby. Help me protect him. Bella's words. Bella's intentions.
You blind fool, Rosalie sneered in her head. I stared at Bella, mortified. She called it a baby? My mind processed this with horror. She imagined a baby in there, and she wanted it. Did she not appreciate, not understand, that it was a monster I had created inside her? A monster that would kill her. I felt a sickly dread crawl under my skin, and begin to work its way through my entire body.
Bella's eyes were shining up at me, full of tears. And now, I finally named the expression in them. Resolve. Commitment. Not to me this time, but to the thing inside her. Rosalie was right. I was a blind fool. Then Bella moved her hand slowly down to her stomach, and her expression changed. A blush appeared on her perfect face. It wasn't fear, or discomfort. It was love. Love for the monster inside her. Oh god. Oh god, oh god, oh god. What had already been a nightmare worsened, shifted. Became a horror story within a nightmare.
My family finally unfroze. Carlisle stepped quickly over next to us, and Emmett put his arm protectively around Rose.
"What's going on?" Carlisle asked in a low voice. Rosalie stared at him, her glare just as hard as it had been for me.
"No one is going to hurt this baby," she hissed at him. Carlisle stared in shock, and then horror slowly dawned on his face. Alice groaned behind him, and it looked like she might fall to the floor. Jasper steadied her.
I was reeling from the revelation of Bella's feelings. Love for the thing inside her, the monster that would take her life? What madness was this?
"Bella, sweetheart," I said in a low, gentle voice. "Love, let go of her. Come to me." I tugged on her shoulders gently. Her eyes left mine and looked up at Rosalie, who shook her head minutely. When she looked back at me they had changed again. They flickered with distrust and she shook her head. I seethed with hatred for Rosalie.
"Bella," I said, and tugged more forcefully. I could feel my fingers pressing too hard into her soft body. I let go and grabbed Rosalie's wrist, twisting it. I wondered if I could snap it off without making too much of a scene. She hissed and Emmett took a step towards me. Carlisle's hands were on the both of us in a flash.
"Stop it," he ordered quietly. "Not here." All around us humans were coming and going from various flights. I let go of Rosalie's hand in disgust, and she wrapped it back around Bella. My mind scorched with anger.
"Bella?" I asked. I tried to keep my voice steady.
Bella looked at me, her face worried, but her deep, brown eyes glowing with passion. "Edward," she said, in a low, pleading voice. "I want to keep this baby. When I heard what you and Carlisle were planning, I didn't know if you would listen to me, let me explain. If I could stop you. So I called Rosalie." Her face fell miserably, and she looked down at the ground. I stared at her, trying to comprehend, and then slowly, painfully, realization crept into my mind. She did not want to end this monstrous pregnancy. Suddenly, I was gripped by a fierce resolve. She was right to worry, because I would not let anything, including her misplaced emotions, stand in the way of saving her life. I would not let her get hurt.
"Let's discuss this at home," murmured Carlisle. He was looking at me, concerned about the expression on my face. Rosalie turned and started walking, her arm wrapped protectively around Bella. I stayed pressed to Bella's side, Emmett flanking Rosalie on the other side, continually glancing at me. Carlisle walked right behind us, his hand on my shoulder. We drew some odd looks, walking in this tight group, everyone refusing to give up their position. Esme, Alice and Jasper walked a little ways behind.
They had brought Carlisle's car, as well as my Volvo. I tugged on Bella, to bring her to the Volvo.
"You're getting in a car with her over my dead body," hissed Rosalie.
"That's the plan," I growled back.
"No Edward," said Bella. "I think it's best if I ride with Rosalie." I looked at her, shocked. She was looking down, unable to meet my eyes. Instinctively, I reached out to lift her face to mine, but then let my hand drop. Rosalie gave me a smug look and pulled Bella over to Carlisle's car.
"Come Edward," said Carlisle. "I'll drive." I followed him silently. Alice and Jasper came with us, and Esme rode with Rosalie, Bella and Emmett. Alice paused by the car, putting her hand on my arm.
I'm sorry, she thought. I just can't see anything clearly. I didn't know what was happening.
"Rosalie?" I choked out quietly. "What is she…?"
She's there, but everything keeps blurring out. It's not hard to understand why she would help Bella with this. You have to understand for her… Her thoughts trailed off as I turned away, blocking her out. I could not understand this.
I searched the thoughts in the car in front of us as we drove home. Bella was crying quietly, and Rosalie was comforting her. She knew I was listening. I'm not letting her go for a second, dear brother. She was prepared to protect the thing inside Bella at all costs. She wanted it, wanted it to live. And if Bella wavered she was prepared to try to convince her to keep carrying it. The risk to Bella meant nothing to her – she couldn't hide that from me. I gripped the car door in rage, trying not to rip it off completely.
Edward, I heard from Carlisle. I looked over at him, and he had a grim look on his face. He gripped the steering wheel tightly, looking straight ahead. You need to talk to Bella. Alone. Make her understand. If you see the chance to get her away from Rose, take it. I'll be prepared. I stared at him, a little shocked. This had been my exact thought, but I did not expect to hear it from Carlisle. The fact that he was saying it terrified me. His fear for Bella's life was more intense than what I had read before in his thoughts. He saw very little hope for Bella, if we didn't end this as planned.
I had been so blind. All those hours flying home, I had tragically misjudged what was going on in Bella's head. And now, that precious time alone was lost. Time to stop this insanity, before she became resolved. I would have pleaded with her, begged her on my knees for hours, to let us save her life. Instead, I had delivered her into the arms of the worst possible person, the only person twisted enough to encourage her resolve in this deadly matter. I felt a consuming panic. Bella was so stubborn, what if I couldn't get her to see reason? And it would be even more impossible with Rosalie there, feeding the madness. I needed to get her away from Rosalie, as soon as possible. And I was willing to go to extremes to accomplish it.
We pulled into the driveway. Rosalie, Emmett and Bella were already standing on the front porch. Rosalie only had one hand on Bella. Her other hand was on Emmett's face, and she was speaking intently to him. He was upset. I was gripped with a sudden terror that I had to act fast, or another opportunity might not come. I had to get Bella alone, to convince her, before it was too late. Do it now, I thought. I made my move. I tore from the car and flew at them.
"No Edward," cried Esme. Emmett's head snapped around and he launched himself at me. We slammed into each other on the porch steps, just feet from Rose and Bella. Our arms locked.
"Stop it!" screamed Bella.
Emmett thought that I was attacking Rosalie. Idiot, I thought. This had nothing to do with Rosalie, other than trying to get Bella away from her poisonous influence. Although, I wouldn't hesitate to take out some of my anger at her if she stood between us.
"Quit it, Emmett," I snarled through gritted teeth. "I just want to talk to Bella alone." But Emmett could see the wild look in my eyes, and he wanted me away from Rose until I calmed down. I glanced at Rosalie as we struggled. She had her arms tight around Bella now. If I got past Emmett, could I still get Bella out of Rosalie's arms? And if I was able to get Bella away, into the woods, could Carlisle convince Rosalie not to follow? Give me the time I needed to talk to her? I tensed, searching Emmett's mind for his next move.
No Edward, stop! Alice's desperate voice was loud in my head. You will hurt her! And my mind filled with Alice's blurry vision of Bella being crushed in a struggle between Rosalie and me. Dammit. I dropped my arms from Emmett and he shoved me off the stairs. I flew backwards and slammed into the car, shattering a window.
"Edward!" Bella screamed, horror flooding her face. I straightened up quickly. Of course I was fine. Emmett held his protective stance in front of Rosalie, and I stayed at the car. Carlisle ran up the stairs and put his hands on Emmett's arms.
Rosalie glared at me, fury and determination on her face. She didn't trust me to be alone with Bella, especially now. My eyes met Bella's for a moment. They were still concerned, but I also saw a flash of fear. Fear of me? I wondered grimly. She looked away, too quickly.
Patience, Edward, thought Alice. We have to choose our moment wisely. I glanced at her, and took grim satisfaction in her words. Alice would help me. We stood together, our love for Bella binding us. She leaned over and murmured something to Jasper and he nodded. Jasper would help as well. Along with Carlisle, it was all I needed. I would wait for the right moment. I would save Bella from this deadly fate. Carlisle was moving Emmett into the house, and we all followed.