*peeks head out of hole* Um. Hello there. In case you were wondering, I do realize it's been 5 months since I've written anything for my stories. And no, I'm not dead. I'll just let you read this update, and you can suffer through my nice long A/N at the end of this chapter.
PS: this story is still unbeta'd (I did it myself for now) so I'm sorry if there are many typos :|
Alice was waiting for me as I made my way though the trees near the house. When she saw me, I was immediately assaulted with a graphic vision from her mind. Bella's face flashed before me, her skin bathed in moonlight, her head thrown back in ecstasy. I heard her moan in my head, her lithe body writhing beneath me in the supple grass of the clearing.
The vision abruptly ended and I had to lean back against the nearest tree, panting. The image seemed to play over and over again in my head and I couldn't get it out.
"Oh, Edward! I am so sorry! It came on when I saw you! I'm so sorry you had to see that before I could warn you." Alice was rushing to me now, her small hands pressed softly to my face. I closed my eyes to inhale deeply, steady my unnecessarily breaths. I tried to think about anything except the vivid image of the beautiful and tortured woman I had just encountered. I needed to not let it thrill me as much as it did.
"I'm fine, Alice." I took a slow breath to finally steady myself. "It's fine."
Alice looked me over a moment longer before she pulled her hands away and smiled coyly at me. "She's very beautiful, Edward."
I made a face at her. "Is this why you called me away? To tell me she was beautiful? I noticed that on my own, Alice, thank you." I wondered if I turned back now, if I could find her before she got too far away.
She cocked an eyebrow at me before responding. "Don't even think about it, she's already out of the country. She will be back tomorrow night, though. And no, I didn't call you away just to tell you that." Her mind seemed guarded, and I didn't even try to pry.
She huffed, clearly wanting to be dramatic.
"Something horrible has happened to her. I can't figure out what, exactly, but she is quite damaged. All I can see is flashes of her in pain." I saw these flashes of Bella, bound, crying out in pain; her lovely face contorted in anguish. "I called when I did for her best interest," she continued, her eyes distant, seeing the same images I was. "If you had stayed much longer, I saw her having a sort of panic attack. I wanted to make sure she would see you again." Alice looked at me and let the images fill my head.
I saw Bella, her flawless face contorted in fear as she cowered away from me in terror. I cringed, physical pain actually shooting through my body at the sight her fear, being caused by me. I saw her running from me, disappearing into the woods.
"She wouldn't come back," Alice stated sadly. I nodded, understanding. I wanted her to come back, and Alice understood as well. She looked up at me once again, her smile devilish.
"It seems you are going to be very glad that you listened to me and came home. You seemed to look happy in that vision before." She was giggling at me.
I groaned and turned to go back to the house. Alice was still laughing, showing me more images of Bella and I together, laughing in the clearing, laying together under the stars. I had to smile to myself; I certainly did look happier than I had been in a long time.
What makes her different? How can you stand to be so happy with her?
Alice's thoughts were gentle, as she trailed behind me. Her thoughts also held a slightly jealous tone to them. I stopped in my tracks and turned to face her.
"I can't hear her," I replied, feeling the peace wash over me at the memory of being near her in complete silence. But it was short lived as Alice's mind began to reel at the implication.
I had an idea of why, the shield she had mentioned was perhaps the reason, but I chose not to betray her every confidence within five minutes of being with Alice. I shrugged my shoulders.
"I really don't know and I welcome it at this point."
Alice didn't say anything else as we walked back to the house together. I knew she wanted to ask and prod me for more information, but she chose not to rupture my happiness, knowing just how fragile my emotions tended to be. She was ecstatic for me, but I really couldn't see why she was as happy as she was. I had only just met her tonight. Who knows if she would actually come back tomorrow night? She could change her mind between now and then and I would never see her again. A pain pulled in my chest at the thought of never seeing her lovely face again; of being the presence of this creature and being at complete ease with myself. A more primal part of me mourned the loss of seeing her in the throes of passion beneath me.
I shook my head to clear those thoughts. I couldn't be sure they would ever happen and there was no use dwelling on them. I wanted to know her, to know her thoughts and hopes and dreams the way a normal person learned. I wanted her to be too shy to tell me something and feel the frustration of not knowing why she wouldn't tell me. I wanted to learn everything about her.
Alice's gentle thought interrupted my musings.
Carlisle feels horrible, Edward. You should go talk to him when you get into the house. You know he means well.
I heaved a sigh and nodded at her. The past few years had been like this with Carlisle and I. He was always trying to protect me, and sometimes it was overbearing. I guess that's what made him so much of a parent to me. I didn't always agree with what was best for me.
He had been my companion for 20 years when I was first changed. We had developed a special bond, like father and son, but so much different than that. He was a brother to me, a best friend, and a confidant when I needed one. There was nothing we didn't tell each other in those early years. For him, I was a respite from the loneliness he had faced for centuries. For me, he was the only other one of our kind I had known. Esme came along and the dynamic changed, but Carlisle and I were still very much the same.
But as things began to change with me, when I began to resent my gift, things changed between Carlisle and I. I started to avoid him, to be angry with him. I saw the pity and pain he felt when he saw my own pain. It killed me inside and was almost the worst thing to endure when I was with my family. After a while, I began to hate him. I blamed him for everything that went wrong with me. I blamed him for changing me, for sentencing me to an eternity of pain and suffering and blood lust. I blamed him for being so educated and still unable to help me. I accused him of not caring enough about me, and of caring too much at the same time.
Fights like the one we had earlier were very common in the recent months. I snapped at everything he said to me, and he tended to get angry with me for everything I did that might strain my fragile hold on myself. I felt smothered and lashed out at him, only to regret it later and apologize.
We were almost at the house when Alice placed a hand on my arm. I turned and found her smiling softly at me.
I want you to bring her clean clothes. She looked like she had been traveling in that dress for ages. Will you do that?
I smiled and nodded. I wanted to do anything I could for the seemingly helpless creature. I wanted to ease her suffering and make her feel safe again. She was like a frightened kitten.
I entered the house and Alice flitted up the stairs to find Jasper, I assumed. I was just turning to make my way towards Carlisle's study, I heard him call my name from the day room.
Edward, I'm in here if you'd like to talk.
I resisted the urge to sigh. Carlisle was always trying to make things easier on me and most of the time, I was grateful. Other times, I just felt patronized. At least he was using his thoughts to communicate with me. That was an improvement.
I entered the day room to find Carlisle sitting in the high backed chair in front of the large bay windows that faced south, a book in his hand. This room was mostly windows and was by far the loveliest room in the house. I often felt most relaxed here, and I suspected that's why Carlisle had come here for this conversation.
I sat down on the window seat in front of him and I looked at him, waiting for him to make the first move. I was feeling stubborn and was not going to fold first.
I would like to apologize to you, but I'm sure Alice has already told you that.
A small smile crept on his face as he glanced at me. I simply nodded.
"Edward, I shouldn't treat you like you are made of glass. But I do. I can't always help it. You are the first and therefore you will always be different to me. You know me better than the others and I just feel like it's my job to watch over you, now more than ever. You don't understand the extent of the guilt I feel. I brought this upon you..."
He looked at me, desperate and visibly upset.
"Please stop beating yourself up about this. It's in the past and irreversible. I've long since forgiven you. I haven't resented you for this for a long time, Carlisle. I just need some sort of...respect, I guess is the word. I've learned to cope with this as much as I can. I know what I can and cannot take, and when I can't, I remove myself. I know there are times where I push myself, and times where it's harder for me, but I'm trying to improve. I'm trying to make it better. I can't live like this forever, Carlisle. I have to relearn how to be around the family if I want to stay. I do want to stay, please understand that."
He looked at me and nodded.
"No more hiding things until we explode at each other?"
I grinned. He was my best friend again.
"Of course. I'll tell you when you start to piss me off next time."
He rolled his eyes and went back to reading the book in his lap.
I stood and patted him on the shoulder before I escaped to my room to pass the hours until I saw Bella again.
The sun had set hours ago when Alice came and knocked on my door.
I had been whiling away the hours listening to music and just trying to get my brain to shut off. It was hard, being as excited as I was to see Bella again. I felt like a young boy for the first time in over a century. It scared me, quite frankly, to have my happiness so invested in someone I had just met and had only spoken to for a short time.
It was always harder to shut off when my family was home. Emmett and Jasper had been playing an intense game of Texas Hold 'Em all afternoon, in which Jasper was cheating mercilessly, inciting Emmett into extreme confidence in his hand. Alice had been playing dealer, which really was unfair, but Emmett seemed to hold his own, surprisingly winning five hands. They were playing loudly and I was borderline in agony at their game. The only thing keeping me together was the promise of refuge in Bella's presence.
I turned off the sound system when Alice knocked and called her into my room. She entered carrying a blanket.
I wrapped a new dress for her in this blanket. I figured no one would ask questions about why you were leaving the house with women's clothing if they couldn't see it.
She looked at me and snorted, a vision of me in a yellow, floor length dress standing in the living room while Emmett stared in horror.
I growled at her and she laughed louder, dancing out of my reach as I lunged playfully at her. She jumped gracefully onto the bed and smiled at me, her hands on her hips.
I sat down and looked up at her, letting my nerves get the better of me.
"I'm nervous, Alice."
She smiled and sat down next to me.
I know you are. It will be okay though, Edward. Just be yourself, she will want to know you for who you are. And you will get to know her for who she is, not just who she is based on her thoughts. Enjoy it.
I smiled at the thought. "I'm looking forward to that the most." A thought struck me. "Does Jasper know?"
She looked at me and sighed.
I didn't tell him, but he knows something is different. He told me he could feel your ease and happiness more strongly than he can feel your despair and unhappiness when you came home today. He also can tell I'm keeping something from him, but that's hardly anything new, to be honest. I don't think he's putting the two together, so he hasn't asked me what's going on. He will though, especially as your moods begin to change.
I nodded, knowing that I would have to disclose Bella's existence at some point, if we ever got that far. I was terrified to let myself hope I would ever get to that point.
I took a deep breath to settle myself and stood.
"I should probably get going. I'm going out of my mind at this point and I just need to get outside."
She nodded and walked to the door, picking up a red plaid blanked that was folded tightly. She handed it to me, smiling and then winking.
I picked a color that I thought you would like on her. That blue dress she was wearing seemed to...excite you, so I stuck with blue.
I rolled my eyes at her but smiled.
"Thank you. I will see you when I get home."
I would suggest that you leave through the window, just to avoid any questions.
I smiled. "Thank you."
I tucked the blanket under my arm and walked to the window, sliding it open and turning back to Alice once more, grinning.
"Oh, and try not to call and interrupt this time."
It was just nine o'clock when I broke through the tree line of the clearing. I had run quickly in order to get there before her, wanting to relish the quiet of my sanctuary before she arrived.
I unfolded the blanket that Alice had sent me with and found a soft blue dress laying in the center of it. I smiled and picked it up gingerly, placing it at the corner. I stretched out on the soft flannel fabric, sighing contentedly at the stars above me. My nerves had calmed somewhat and I was trying to calm the giddy eagerness that now threatened to consume me. I pictured her face in my head, smiling at me. Even though I hated myself, I let my mind picture Alice's vision of us, writhing in my meadow, Bella's lips parted in a cry of pleasure as I groaned into her throat.
I groaned out loud softly at my thoughts, knowing that now was not the time to be indulging in those fantasies. Bella could be here at any moment, and the last thing I needed was to be aroused when she showed up.
I sat up and ran my hands over my face, trying to regain some composure. When I'd finally calmed down, I noticed the soft, flowery scent that I knew was Bella start to permeate my senses. I smiled and closed my eyes, relishing once more in the silence of her presence. I looked around the clearing eagerly, waiting for her to emerge from the trees. I was about to turn and look behind me when I saw her step out from behind a tree to my left.
She caught my eye and smiled, ducking her head and walking at a human pace toward me. Her long hair was pulled into a messy braid that hung over her shoulder, and her hands twisted in the end of the plait as she walked toward me. Her long, blue, linen dress shifted against her legs as she approached me, and I noticed a few rips along the hem. Alice had been right about giving her a new dress. Her eyes were a little less red, I noticed as she got closer, and I wondered when she had hunted last.
When she reached the blanket where I lay, she stopped and smiled softly before kneeling at the far edge of it, near the dress Alice had sent.
"Bella." I greeted her, my voice soft. She was more beautiful that I remembered.
She glanced at me quickly, a shy smile touching her face as she averted her eyes. Her eyes landed on the dress that lay next to her and she looked up at me curiously.
"I brought that for you. I wasn't sure how long you had been traveling or anything like that, and I thought that you might need a new dress."
"You brought this for me?" Her voice held utter disbelief.
"Of course. I just thought maybe you would want something to change into. I'm sorry if I offended you or anything."
"No!" she seemed to startle herself with her tone and she started again in a softer volume. "No. I just, no one has ever given me anything before." She looked at me and her eyes held gratitude. Then they turned skeptical.
"How did you know what size to bring?"
"Uh. I guessed?"
Her eyes narrowed and then widened. "You told someone."
My mouth fell open. I didn't want to lie, but I was worried to break her confidence. I hadn't really had a choice in telling Alice.
"I promised I wouldn't say anything about you. Actually, my family is more than a little concerned that I'm actually leaving the house to wear that dress."
She looked at me for a moment before a laugh bubbled out of her mouth. My still heart soared at the sound, her genuine laugh lighting up her face.
She reached out and pulled the dress toward her, fingering the material fondly. There was a delicate beading along the bodice which I hadn't noticed. I couldn't wait until I could see her wearing it.
"Thank you, Edward."
"It will look lovely against your skin." I complimented, immediately wondering how she would react.
She ducked her head, clutching the dress to her chest.
"Tell me about your family," she requested softly after a moment, still not looking at me.
I moved slightly toward her, wanting to be nearer to her.
"What do you want to know?"
She finally glanced at me, her clear red eyes boring in to me.
"Just tell me about them, please? I haven't had a family since I was human."
I was itching to ask her about her human life and everything about her, but I refrained, knowing that she wouldn't answer. Not now.
"Well, my...sire I guess you would call him, is named Carlisle. He's my best friend and my closest companion since my change in 1918. He has a wife, named Esme, whom Carlisle saved about a decade after myself. I have two brothers, Emmett and Jasper, and two sisters, Rosalie and Alice. Emmett and Rose have been married since the 40's I think and Alice and Jasper have been married since the 50's."
"Married? Why aren't you married if you have been around longer than your brothers and sisters?"
I ducked my head. This had been a question many had asked me. In all my years of immortality to date, few understood my resistance to a mate. Even nomadic vampires at least had that. I was an oddity.
"I just never found anyone I wanted in over ninety years of this existence," I stated quietly. I knew her question had been innocent, but it still struck me inside. I had never really felt lonely, often seeking to be alone. I only felt lonely now that she had asked.
She was silent for a moment. "I'm sorry. Have I offended you? I was just curious, I didn't..."
"It's all right. I get asked often, no offense taken." I smiled to assure her I wasn't upset. She seemed to eager to apologize at all times, always afraid to have angered or offended me. "I quite like being alone, in all honesty. Except now, when I am with you. Your presence here with me is most welcome." I smiled a bit wider as she ducked her head in embarrassment at my shameless flirting.
"It's been so long since I've been around one of my kind." She had a sense of longing in her voice, but it was quickly gone. I knew from her behavior and lifestyle that her exile was now her own choice, a necessity. I understood that more than she knew.
"May I ask, where you have come from? When you were human." I clarified my question so she didn't get upset. I wanted her to tell me about her humanity. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about her, and I hoped she would tell me the facets of her mind.
She didn't answer for a long moment. Her eyes fell once more the dress in her lap, her fingers twirling around the delicate straps. I stared at her straight nose, her soft white skin which held a hint of freckles she had as a human. There was a gentle breeze in the clearing, and a few strands of hair that had come loose from her braid swirled around her neck in the most inviting fashion.
"I was born in England in 1877 and changed in 1894, here in America, in Northern New York. I don't remember much of my human life at this point, but I lived on a farm with my father and mother. I had a younger brother named Alexander. We were here on a bit of a holiday when..." She stopped abruptly and stared at me, the breath seeming to leave her lungs. Her body began to shake and she stared at me pleadingly, but I was at a loss for what to do.
I reacted in an effort to soothe her. I moved forward and pulled her shaking frame into my arms, cradling her head to my shoulder as she sobbed. I realized about a second too late that this probably hadn't been the best course of action, given her fragile trust, but she didn't pull away. Her arms came around me and she clung to me, burying her face deeper into my shoulder.
I lost track of how long I held her before her body settled. She pulled back to look at me, her eyes fearful and full of remorse. I stopped her before she even started.
"Don't apologize. It's my fault for asking; I should have known better. I'm sorry. Please don't feel any sort of guilt for anything you have done in my company. Ever." My voice was gentle, but firm. She nodded at me and pulled back to extract herself from my embrace. I was reluctant to let her go, having not been able to fully appreciate the feel of her against me in her moments of anguish.
She didn't move far, however, she simply pulled back to rest in front of me, her knee brushing against mine as she pulled her knees to her chest.
We were silent for a long time. I began to star gaze and point out the constellations to her, even if she wasn't listening to me. I wanted her to know that I wasn't going to hurt her or become angry with her, like the people she had known in her frightening past.
After a long stretch of silence, her soft voice broke through the air.
I turned and gazed down at her face. Her eyes were deep and lovely, even in their unsettling red color. Her skin looked creamy and soft, not hard and cold like it should be. I wanted to feel her skin. I wanted to her know her skin.
She looked at me, seemingly lost in her own explorations of my own face before she spoke again.
"Can we really survive without drinking from humans?"
Her eyes were eager and hopeful at the prospect.
"Yes,. I've lived this way for about eighty years."
She seemed confused.
"Eighty? I thought you said you had been a vampire for ninety years."
I closed my eyes and ran a hand through my hair, before gazing out into the moonlit clearing.
"I, well." I paused. "I lived a...more traditional vampiric lifestyle for about a decade after my change. It's often referred to as 'the Edwardian Rebellion' in my family." I glanced sideways at her and she was grinning at me, clearly amused by the nickname of that era in my life.
"Why? Is drinking from animals awful?"
I smiled and shook my head. "No, that's not why. I just felt as if I was denying my true nature; denying what I really am. I tried to do good with what I had, though, I killed the scum of the earth, the murders and thieves of the world."
"Why did you stop?"
I turned to look at her, shrugging. "I realized there was a better way. It wasn't the first choice of our kind, but it was the best alternative. I struggled for a long time with what I am, and living this way is the easiest way for me to live happily. Or as happily as I can manage."
She glanced down once more as she digested the information. I wondered how she would react to this kind of revelation about her existence. I felt as if I was missing a limb with my inability to hear what she was thinking. I loved it.
Her eyes moved back up to my face and she took a deep breath.
"Will you teach me? How to hunt animals?"
Her question startled me. She wanted to try this already?
"Are you sure? You don't have to do this now, Bella. I don't want you to think you have to change anything to please me or have me spend time with you."
She shook her head at me, her eyes sad. "I don't want to be a monster anymore. I want to become more than what I was forced to be."
I wanted to pull her into my arms again; wanted to kiss her beautiful face. But I didn't. I took the opportunity to spend even more time with her and her quiet mind.
"How does now sound?" I asked with a smile.
Hi. Read Me.
Ok, so it's been a really long while and I sincerely hope that I haven't lost all of my readers at this point. Just quickly, I had a car accident the day I last updated Rock Bottom and I just have had a pretty intense writers block since then. I told myself I would take a one month break to heal, and one month turned into five. I've started to get a few emails and PMs from people wondering where I've been and it's actually been really encouraging to know that people missed my stories. So, here I am. Rock Bottom is not dead, I promise. My inspiration for that story kind of... ahem... broke up, so I've been at a loss of how to possibly continue it. I know how the story goes and ends, but it's still like "Wow, fml" kind of thing. I hope to have that updated before the New Year. This story is going to be a little more regular, I've had a recent jolt of inspiration for it, so I've been just trying to go with it.
So, again, I hope that you all don't hate me, and that you still want to read my stories. Just drop me a review to let me know if you hate me or not, lol.
Thank you so much,