After The Twilight - Chapter 1: Interruptions

Here is my continuation of the incredible vampire/human love story called Twilight, and my story below begins right from the last page of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight novel. I just spontaneously had an idea that I could continue writing the story right from the last page, just for fun. And I couldn't stop writing. My Edward and Bella story takes place in the time between the end of Twilight and the beginning of the sequel, New Moon. It's Bella's summer with Edward. Bella's point of view. I haven't yet finished it, but for now here it is! Hope you enjoy, and comments are welcome.

I closed my eyes, Edward's sweet, delicious breath breezing across my face as he lifted his lips from my throat and sighed heavily. But I snuggled closer, not wanting any distance between us, however small. He quickly brushed his cold lips across my forehead, but then took my hands and eased me to my feet, his honey-gold eyes meeting mine as I gazed at his glorious face. His eyes did not leave mine as we walked, slowly, hand in hand, towards his silver Volvo, which was slightly glowing in the moonlight. Edward stared at me as he drove, and of course, I stared back, knowing that the intensity of his eyes would not release me until he looked away. He never did. His hand reached for mine, and he very gently squeezed my hand in his smooth, ice-cold grip.

"How are you?" Edward asked in a serious tone, golden eyes searching my face.

It took me a couple of heartbeats to gather my tangled thoughts to answer the question.

"Fine," I replied eventually. He smiled my favourite crooked smile, and then spoke again.

"What would you like to do tonight?"

"Um…"

"I'm sure Esme wouldn't mind cooking up some dinner for you, but if you'd rather me stay with you at yours…"

"Oh…can we go to your house?" I said in a rush, my eyes lighting up. Edward laughed, taking in my sudden excitement, "I said so, didn't I?"

We pulled up outside the large white Cullen mansion, and Edward scooped me up into his arms before he ascended the porch steps. He leaned his head down and whispered in my ear, "Oops, I think we may have an empty house on our hands…"

I giggled, lifting my face to press my lips to his. We ended up staying in the same spot outside on the porch for several minutes, Edward still holding me in his arms and kissing me so softly, so gently that I wondered how I still had an audible heartbeat. I knew I had to reluctantly pull away, for fear of collapsing right there in his arms. I turned my head, gasping. Both my hands were tangled in his bronze, tousled hair, and there was no way I was strong enough to push him away. Edward leaned back instantly, his eyes growing concerned, replacing the thrill and obvious lust that had widened them. Then he smiled, his perfect lips curving so beautifully that any male model would weep on his knees to have it. "Maybe we should hold back on the kisses…" He began.

"No!" I almost shouted. He laughed quietly as he unlocked the door in a split second and carried me inside.

He slowly unwrapped his arms from me and I slid to my feet, swaying slightly. I was still wearing the ridiculous stiletto Alice had forced me into for the Prom, and I bent down immediately to unsuccessfully yank it off, my walking cast on the other foot. The satin ribbons protested, and I almost stumbled onto the floor, only to be caught by Edward's iron grip. There was no sign of impatience at my extreme lack of coordination on his face, and he quickly and effortlessly untied my shoe, throwing it into a corner before he wrapped his arm around my waist. He led me towards the colossal staircase. Suddenly he lifted me over his shoulder and breezed up the stairs in less than half a second, and I only noticed where we were when I saw Edward's black leather sofa. He put me on my feet and I limped slightly as I went to the glass back wall and looked dreamily at the half moon and all the glittering stars. In the corner of my eye I saw Edward appear at my side. He held my hand.

"What are you thinking?" He asked me in a whisper. I didn't know why he needed to ask. I mean, he must know by now that I was always thinking about him. He was the centre of my world. He was my world, period. I wondered whether to bring up the subject of my mortality, but I refused to spoil the mood. So I lied instead. "I was just thinking about my mom…" I said, my voice so low it was barely audible – to me, anyway.

"You've been mentioning her in your sleep for the past few nights… is everything okay?" His eyes probed mine.

"Sure." I knew that wouldn't satisfy Edward, and his mouth opened to ask for more detail, but I spoke first, cutting him off. "She said in her email the other day that she's been worrying about me ever since she visited me at the hospital. I really miss her and Phil, but this is my home now." That wasn't a lie.

"Bella…" Edward began.

"No, I know that I belong here, with you. Nothing anyone says will change that." I said the words determinedly, and turned to look him full in the face.

"I love you, Edward. Don't ever doubt that. I will love you forever." The words pouring out of my mouth were so true, so certain, and even after all the time we'd been together, I still wanted Edward to say he felt the same way. I just couldn't grasp the possibility of somebody as surreal as Edward, as wonderful as Edward, to feel anything for a weak, human girl like me. Edward did more than voice his reciprocation of my feelings.

His eyes suddenly scorched in front of me, and he grabbed my face in his hands, unexpected tears welling up in my eyes. His lips, his cold, glass-smooth lips, crushed mine, and turned my mind numb. All I could feel was his impossibly soft hair in my hands as I ran them through it and pulled his head closer and closer to mine, shocked at his lack of restraint, that he was actually letting me get close enough to him to reach danger levels. Why wasn't he pushing me away? All I wanted was to kiss him forever, but I couldn't stop a tiny part of my brain from wondering why he wasn't stopping. One of his hands moved from my face to my curled hair and gently removed the little clips holding my hair in place.

He pulled away for a second and whispered, "I love you, Isabella Swan," before kissing me once more and taking away his other hand from my face to comb out my hair ever so carefully with his fingers. His face was inches from mine, and his scent sent me into an internal frenzy. He rested his chin on my shoulder for a moment, one hand sliding around me, the other still in my hair, winding it around his fingers and caressing it. Then he lifted his head back up and looked at me. "Why were you crying?" He demanded, his eyes directly in front of mine; I could do nothing but stare. When I had no answer, he pulled completely away and I was instantly dying for him to come back. I didn't want him to stop the perfect moment just because I couldn't control my tears! He took one step away. I shook my head, my eyes locked with his.

"You're upset about something, but I can't tell what it is. Bella, what is wrong?" His voice was so hard and demanding it disconcerted me.

"Nothing!" I squeaked. The tears were starting to leak again; I hadn't even noticed I was actually crying before. I blinked furiously.

"I can't read your mind, you have to tell me!"

"Edward! Honestly, nothing can possibly be wrong right now, you don't need to look so…so worried!"

'Worried' was a total understatement. In that moment, he looked…like a vampire. Only his eyes and mouth were moving, the rest of him was a statue.

"Bella…" His voice became cold. His burning gold eyes held mine fiercely.

"What?! Edward, what is the matter with you? I was crying because I was happy. But now you are seriously scaring me!"

He was breathing rapidly now, and I found it hard to believe that his heart was motionless. His eyes scalded me on the spot.

"Please, Edward… please don't look at me like that." My voice was shaking but pleading.

Edward sighed deeply and started to relax his rigid shoulders – but he did not relax completely, nowhere near. I honestly hadn't a clue what had gotten into him. I was genuinely frightened of him now. And I was never frightened of him. The front door slammed from below us, and considering we weren't directly above the ground floor, it was very loud. It suddenly dawned on me that it wasn't me alone who has fuelled Edward's sudden extreme mood swing. He must have heard something in someone's thoughts. Something bad. Very bad.

There was silence, and we still stared into each other's eyes. Who'd just slammed the door and come into the house?

"Edward?" He would know what I was referring to.

"It's Alice," he answered instantly, finally ripping his gaze from mine, glancing towards the door.

"She's coming up…Bella, there is no need to look so terrified."

Oh, you can talk! I thought suddenly – just a moment ago he'd looked like he was burning at the stake. What did he expect? I almost laughed at his words. Still, there were no footsteps approaching Edward's door…or so I'd thought. The three sudden raps on the door startled me, and I was relieved to be free of my stiletto. I would surely have toppled over, but I managed to steady myself with my other foot to Edward's surprise; his arms were out ready before his eyebrows twitched up. His arms returned to his sides.

"Yes, Alice, you can come in," He told her in a low voice, a voice no other human would have heard completely, but I was so used to listening for it, I managed to just about make

it out. He was staring at the door as it slowly opened. I caught sight of Alice's tiny frame and looked at her. I gasped. She looked…like a walking corpse – an inhumanly beautiful

corpse at that, but there was no life, no focus, in her midnight eyes. Dark purple shadows were below them. She was so thirsty, but it was more than that. She looked like there

was no hope at all in the world.

"Alice…" I mouthed, my voice deserting me. Oh God, what was going on? My vampire boyfriend had looked half-crazy just now, and now his sister looked like her whole family had

perished in front of her. I hadn't ever seen Alice like this, even when she was seeing into the future.

"No." Edward answered an unspoken question. His face looked carved from stone. He was staring straight into her eyes, his hard, focused expression contrasting with Alice's dazed

look. Edward nodded infinitesimally. I couldn't imagine what they were discussing. I waited anxiously, glancing back and forth at them during their silent exchange. I hated being

left in the dark.

"Bella, we're going to Charlie's. Now." He was sat my side in a flash. Suddenly he grabbed my arm and threw me onto his back. I was disoriented, not making a single protest.

Edward locked my dead arms around his neck, and I managed to secure my legs around him.

"No," he repeated under his breath, to Alice.

He spun and headed for the back wall. What? The wall was just pure glass – no opening in sight. Edward couldn't do that, with a fragile human like me on his back!

But no, I was wrong, as usual; there was indeed an opening. Edward pushed open the glass directly in the middle of the wall, and leaped out into the night. I gasped at the sudden

change in temperature and thrust of the cold air. I did not shut my eyes.

I tightened my chokehold on his neck. We landed with a light thud on the ground in a split second, the air slicing my face. And then we were running, me still on his back, breezing

through the forest, and my eyes were running wild, blurred greenness at every side. I didn't feel a single branch on my arms.

"Charlie's home so I'll meet you in your room," Edward murmured, voice steady as if he was standing stationary rather than running at superhuman speed.

"O…kay" I said breathlessly. My hair was blowing fiercely behind me and the only solid thing I could feel was Edward's cool marble body underneath me. We reached Charlie's in

about a minute. Edward released me on the porch and turned to face me. He took my quivering hands in his. Then he frowned. "Don't worry Bella. I can't stand to see you like this. Please don't stress, especially not over this. I'll be in your room." His voice was honey and velvet, and his eyes were scorching gold. He leaned down to kiss my forehead. Then he disappeared. I sighed and let myself in the unlocked door. I could hear the TV blaring as I trudged inside. I walked into the front room and stuck a fake smile on my face.

"Hey, Dad." I said to the sofa that Charlie was lounging on.

"Hey, Bells." His eyes remained on the TV screen as his turned his head slightly in my direction. "How was prom?"

"Um…not so bad. I'm pretty tired actually, I think I'll turn in." I did a yawn to prove my point.

"Alright then Bells. You sleep well, okay?" He then tore his eyes away from the screen and glanced up and down at me, looking a bit worried; my walking cast was of course very

much in place, prohibiting me of certain actions, but getting changed was something I could just about manage. Besides, Edward was going to be there if I tripped or something,

not that Charlie was in on that fact.

"Night, Dad." I turned and headed for the stairs before Charlie could say anything more. Edward appeared at my side a quarter of the way up the steps, and wrapped his cold iron

arm round my waist, lifting me so that I didn't have to walk.

My bed had already been made, and the clothes that had been lying on the floor were folded into a neat pile in a corner of the room. Edward set me carefully on my feet and pulled

me to the bed. I turned my body to face him as soon as we sat. My eyes hopefully demanded answers. Edward was holding my hand, looking at me until he glanced down at our

twining hands. His face was sombre. He looked up at me from under his impossibly long eyelashes.

"Bella…" he whispered, trailing off. He looked absolutely irresistible. I held his hand tighter.

"Yes?" I whispered as we gazed at each other. I could spend eternity staring into his seductive burning eyes, but he had something to tell me, and I wanted answers.

Suddenly, Edward's expression transformed. It became a mask of despair. His eyes tightened. He looked as if he was about to put his head in his hands and weep. Then his face abruptly became unreadable. His changing expressions left me a step behind, and I didn't have a clue what to think.

"Edward?" I whispered so my voice wouldn't break. He was still staring into my eyes, and I could feel that my face was not warm like it always was when he did this. What was he thinking? There was no way to tell. Edward appeared to be trying to read my thoughts too. Finally he sighed, looked down, and began.

"Alice has lost her visions. She can't see anymore. And now she can't function. My family and I, we rely on those visions to tell us everything – if possible danger is coming, any suspicions about what we are, whether you will be safe. My hearing people's thoughts may well reveal what is happening now, but what about tomorrow? What about the months afterward? Ever since we became a family, we have never lived without prior knowledge of the future." Edward hesitated, and I took the unexpected opportunity to speak, frozen on the spot. My mouth was open in shock. Alice…couldn't see? If she couldn't see…then neither could Edward. He saw those visions just as clearly as she did. I knew how Edward reacted if I was in the slightest danger…and if he didn't even know about possible danger, I could only guess at what he would do. My gaze travelled to the window and I stared at the one star in sight.

"Wh-when did that happen? I mean, was it at Prom? Or…" I stammered, frantically trying to gather my thoughts to form a coherent sentence. I avoided his eyes; I was afraid of

what I would see there.

"Alice told me in her thoughts that her sight disappeared when she left Prom…she ran away, panicking, desperately trying to get it back before she gave up and came to us. As

soon as she was in hearing distance…" He trailed off, eyes closing, his voice gradually quieting to a whisper; I could see from his expression that he was not going to say any more.

My body was stiff, and I attempted to relax one part of my body at a time. But my eyes became slightly unfocused, and my vision started to blur at the edges.

Edward swept a strand of hair from my face and tucked it behind my ear. My whole body tingled at his touch. The breath caught in my throat came out with a whoosh, trembling a shiny bronze strand of Edward's hair that was hanging over his forehead. He breathed in deeply and closed his eyes. He did not exhale. A crease appeared between his perfect brows. His thumb stopped caressing my hand. I spoke in a whisper.

"Edward, don't worry. Everything will be okay."

His eyes snapped open. "Of course it's not okay! It's up to me to protect you; how can I possibly do that now?" He closed his eyes again, releasing my hand. His head was bowed. I grabbed his hand back again and held it in both of mine. Cream and alabaster.

I leaned towards him, and put my forehead against the ice of his. I closed my eyes too. And there we sat for an immeasurable moment, until he pulled his face away. He once again took his hand away from my grasp and lifted my chin up to look at me.

"Bella, you must rest. Would you like me to stay here or sit away from you so you don't get too cold?"

"Stay. Stay next to me. Please." I whispered.

I lay awake for hours, eyes half closed and staring out the window, until I finally accepted that I couldn't sleep. So I turned to lay facing Edward, him lying on top of the covers, eyes closed, though of course he wasn't sleeping. It was pitch black outside; I glanced at the clock on my bedside table. Four twenty. I didn't mind that, because Edward was right

here next to me, serene and perfect.

My lips turned up into a small smile as I stared lovingly at his face. He didn't seem to register that I was awake. It didn't matter. I wanted to stroke his gorgeous shiny bronze hair,

which was its usual untidy self. Nothing was more beautiful than Edward lying so peacefully there with his head on my pillow right next to me.

My thoughts eventually wondered to my looming eighteenth birthday. I hated thinking about it, and I'd been pretending it didn't exist, but I knew it was inevitable. No longer

seventeen. No longer equal to Edward. Older. No! My forehead creased. Edward didn't stir. He was so calm that I actually wondered whether he could sleep after all. His breathing

was steady, even. If his heart was still beating I wondered whether it would react to me the same way mine always reacted to him. Probably not. I breathed in, and then out

silently, my eyes travelling up to the ceiling. Edward's mouth twitched. I stared at it, took in the smooth curve of his lips, and the perfection. I looked at the delicious pink colour,

utterly smooth.

His full lips parted, and I caught a glimpse of his gleaming white teeth, not dimmed in the slightest by the lack of light. The moon had long disappeared, but my curtains were open,

letting the remaining light seep in. I looked back at Edward's lips, and a sudden urge to kiss him overwhelmed me. My heart thumped with anticipation, and my palms started to

warm up. I was sure Edward had heard my heart rate rapidly speed. Should I do it? While he was seemingly unaware of my advances? The way he'd kissed me earlier tonight

suggested that he had perhaps altered his rules, his strict restrictions to keep me alive. But I knew he wouldn't give in so easily.

My racing heart told me to go for it. I breathed absolutely silently and then slowly raised my head from the pillow. Then I leaned in, closer and closer…

My face was now less than an inch from his, and I stopped breathing for a second. He would feel my body heat, and know my proximity. But I continued.

My lips touched his. Amazingly, Edward still didn't move. I leaned further in, my lips shaping around his. My heart was leaping, bursting, and pumping wonderful butterflies around

my stomach. I pressed my lips gently against his and kissed him once, then pulled back a bit to gauge his reaction. His fire eyes were half open, staring straight at me, seeing

directly into my soul. His breath came audibly, and it blew my hair away from my face. I couldn't work out his expression, but my guess was that he wanted more. His eyes…they

were so seductive…they were impossible to resist.

"Again…" he breathed, closing his eyes again.

I obeyed. I was slow, gentle, careful. I just wanted to let go and kiss him with all my strength and lock my arms around his neck, but I didn't want to push him too far. That was

the last thing I wanted. Edward was impossible to predict. And here I'd thought I wouldn't even make it to his lips before he pushed me away. I didn't need him to kiss me back.

I brushed my lips against his eyelids and both his cheeks. Edward's hand was suddenly in my hair, and I thought he would finally pull me back, but he pulled my head down to his

mouth, which was now closed.

He was stroking and tangling his hand in my hair, and I could feel the refreshing coolness there. I continued to kiss him very lightly, my lips barely touching his.

"Aren't you…tired?" He breathed.

"What do you think?" I murmured, and kissed him again. Both my hands were in his hair now, and one of his was in mine. When I stopped and opened my eyes, his eyes were

closed and there was a crease between his eyebrows as he groaned and put his face back to mine, kissing me now. I let him, not kissing back; he wanted his turn now.

His kisses were incredibly sweet, barely touching my lips. He tilted his head even more to get closer to my face. The world disappeared. It was just Edward and I. No one else

mattered right now. Nothing else mattered now. Time made no sense.

Then he pulled away and opened his eyes.

"Charlie's waking up," He said in a murmur.

"Huh?" It was four something the last time I checked. To my astonishment, dim orange-pink light was pouring through my window. It was now five forty three. Charlie had told me of his plans to go fishing with Billy Black today, and encouraged me to meet up with friends and go out.

"Don't go!" I cried, tugging on to him unnecessarily; he hadn't left my side.

"I'm not going anywhere, Bella." He reassured me, stroking my cheek. "What would you like to do today?" he asked.

"Hmmm…I know. Let's visit our meadow." I suggested.

"I'm not sure that's absolutely safe…" he began.

"But I'll be with you, won't I? Unless you don't want to go…" I murmured that last sentence, thinking of how much I wanted to lie on the grass next to him again. And then I suddenly remembered that Alice wouldn't be able to warn Edward of any danger... she couldn't see. A lump started forming in my throat.

"That's what you want, so you shall have it." Edward said with determination in his velvet voice. His words made me feel spoilt. I didn't intend to be like that, not one bit. I ran my hand through my hair. It did not feel good. Holy crow, what did I look like?

"I need a human minute," I muttered. I didn't want a second away from him, but I really needed to sort myself out.

"Of course," Edward said, pulling away so I could emerge from my bed. He held the door open for me.

"Thanks," I told him.

The shower was hot and even though I didn't sleep, it woke me up. Sooner or later I was going to get very tired, very quickly, but for the moment I couldn't have been more alert. I wrapped a towel around me and looked into the mirror. My hair was dripping down my back. It looked black as night, contrasting with my pale skin. My face was sallow, and dark circles were under my eyes. I grabbed the hand towel and scrubbed at the ends to stop the dripping. Because I hadn't brought any clothes into the bathroom I had to go back to my room and face Edward the way I looked now. I sighed. I brushed my teeth thoroughly and used some mouthwash. I put the toilet lid down and sat precariously on the edge of the seat, looking at my hands. I was surprisingly shy to go back to Edward.

Bella, he loves you however you look a voice reminded me. I sat there, glancing around the little bathroom, pondering whether to sit there like a lemon or go get dressed. I stayed like that for several minutes. I didn't actually know what I was worrying about. Edward had seen me at my best and worst, and everything in between. And yet I still doubted he would accept how plain and ordinary I looked, plus the drowned rat look I was sporting. A light knock on the door pulled me out of my reverie.

"Bella? Bella, is everything okay?" Edward sounded slightly panicked, and a swirl of adoration pulsed in my stomach.

"I'm fine," I shouted so he could hear through the door. Then I remembered that he would be able to hear me if I'd just spoken normally.

"Just a sec," I said, and stood up, glancing at my reflection in the mirror anxiously before unlocking the door and opening it to see Edward smiling at me, teeth sparkling like diamonds. He sighed.

"You are so beautiful." He whispered. I blushed deeply.

"Charlie…" I panicked, thinking he was within hearing distance, and also wanting to change the subject. "He's outside on the porch. You were in there for a good half hour." He grinned.

"Oh…well, I guess I'd better get dressed…um…" I mumbled, and stepped around him, clutching my towel with my life.

He appeared at my door to hold it open for me again, gentleman that he was.

"Thank you," I smiled up at him. He was still grinning. I loved looking at his face when he smiled. Well, I loved looking at his face, period.

I rummaged through my clothes while Edward supposedly waited outside. God, there was barely anything decent to wear. I wasn't going anywhere particularly formal or anything so I didn't know why I was taking so long. I decided to dry my hair first, and eventually threw on my blue blouse, along with dark jeans. I tugged my comb through my hair and

tied it into a half ponytail. I sighed as I scrutinised my reflection in the mirror. I looked okay enough.

Then there were three quiet raps on my bedroom door.

"Come in," I said, turning to the door.

Edward entered slowly, appraising my outfit and hairstyle. He was looking at me like…he loved me. He couldn't seem to take his eyes off me, and I flushed a deep red again. My whole body became hot and tingly.

Stop looking at me! I begged in my head. Edward approached me silently, gracefully, like he was gliding rather than walking.

"Hi," I said, smiling weakly at his chest rather than his face.

"I'm very partial to that colour on you," Edward complimented, referring to my blue blouse like he had done before, nearer to when we'd first met.

"You have such a lovely blush." He told me, his lips curving up into a half smile, his eyes on my face. The least I could do was thank him, and yet I stood there blushing furiously like an idiot! Talk to him, Bella the voice in my head spoke again.

"Thanks, Edward. You know I'm actually dying of embarrassment here, right?"

"I sincerely hope you're not." He said seriously, but he smiled anyway. He stepped closer, and stroked my hair very gently. "Let's go," he suggested.

Since I didn't have time for breakfast, I grabbed a granola bar from the kitchen on the way out. When we reached the front door, I realized far too late that Edward hadn't gotten rid of his Volvo in the driveway. Charlie!

I glanced around as we stepped outside, but there was no sign of it. Edward must have driven it away this morning. It shouldn't surprise me. He was a vampire after all. Edward ran us to the meadow, and the sky was white, no sign of the sun. I didn't care. As long as I was here in the meadow with him, I was happy. We lay back on the cold grass.

"So is there anything at all I can get you for your birthday?" Edward laughed, knowing my answer before I said it. "Nope." I said. Why would I want anything when I already had him? He was better than an eternity's worth of birthday gifts, and more. I didn't want us to be even more out of balance than we already were. My birthday wasn't even here yet.

Well, it was kind of close now. Only a couple of months. A lot could happen in that time. Would Victoria have found me by then? I stifled a shudder. I refused to let that thought interrupt my afternoon with Edward. But it continued to play on my mind, picking, and then digging, deeper and deeper. No. Charlie would be safe, and so would my other future family, my vampire family.

"I will make sure I get you something. It's going to be your special day, your eighteenth birthday. Aren't people supposed to be counting down the days until that time? Edward was smiling, genuinely curious as to the reasons behind my stubborn refusal to be enthusiastic. I couldn't find anything about my birthday to be pleased about. I know it was only a year older than Edward, but I hated it just the same. "I'm going to be older than you, and I don't want that." I mumbled like a sulky child.

"That's the way it's supposed to be. Sweetheart, why are you worrying so? I may be physically seventeen forever, but you must not let that ruin your life. I don't want you to ever be sad, especially not about this." Edward's voice was strong and concerned, and he was frowning.

"My birthday's months away, why are you bringing it up?" I moaned. My voice was petulant. I pulled myself together as soon as I spoke the words.

"I'm sorry, ignore that. How do you put up with me?" I giggled; chagrin causing a blush, but I felt mortified at my ill manners.

"I don't know. But whatever the reason, I can't live without it." He smiled gently.

"Yeah, right." I muttered. Edward sighed.

"I have to hunt tomorrow. Jasper and Emmett are coming too. But I won't go as far as the others and I'll be back within twenty four hours, I promise." He looked up and down my face before his gaze rested on my lips. "Okay. Well, enjoy yourself. I know I'll miss you like crazy no matter how long you're away." I smiled at him sadly.

"I know, Bella. Believe me, I know. I'll be thinking of you every second I'm away. But try to have fun yourself; don't waste time thinking about me. I'm already taking up too much of your life as it is."

"Thinking about you is all I ever do! Of course it's not a waste of time. Ha, I'll be the judge of that." He leaned towards me, and I leaned in slowly in response to press my lips to his. He kissed me softly once, and I wondered how much he was holding back, how much I was missing out on by being fragilely human while he was so much stronger. He was amazing, and I was ordinary. But there was something that gave me happiness. He loved me, even with all my human flaws. And he didn't even see them as flaws, but as things he simply could not live without. I could understand that, sort of.

We lay and talked for what must have been hours, and I made sure I made the most of today before he left tomorrow. Eventually thick grey clouds began to approach and Edward knew that I was thinking about home; he knew my face well. A drop of rain fell on my forehead.

"Perhaps we should be getting back…" He laughed gently, and added, "I don't want to leave any more than you do, Bella."

I smiled and got to my feet. Edward stood and swung me effortlessly over his back. I nestled my face into his cold, hard neck. Instead of heading for Charlie's like I expected, we ended up at Edward's majestic mansion. He unlocked my arms from around his neck, took my hand, and opened the front door. Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper were sitting on the cream sofa, watching TV, though I doubted they were paying real attention to it. Rosalie glanced at me, looked me up and down, and then stared back at the screen. But Emmett and Jasper jumped up, instantly acknowledging our entrance.

"Yo, what's up Bella? Fall down today?" Emmett's booming laugh almost shook the house. I actually didn't trip or otherwise incapacitate myself at all today. I looked down at my knees; there were grass stains on my jeans. Nothing gets past a vampire. Emmett punched Edward's shoulder in a brotherly way and wiggled his eyebrows up and down at me. I almost stuck my tongue out at him like a five year old and told him to shut up, but I wasn't sure how he would react. So I stayed blushing like an idiot. Edward didn't play along with Emmett, who then threw himself back on the sofa next to Rosalie. She was still staring at the TV.

Carlisle and Esme glided down the stairs hand in hand. There was no sign of Alice. I immediately panicked, remembering what she had looked like the last time I'd seen her. Where was she? And if she was away, wouldn't Jasper be with her? I didn't get it.

"Bella, sweetheart! How wonderful to see you again." Esme's warm smile and welcome relaxed me, and my confidence returned. Carlisle was smiling too.

"Hi Esme and Carlisle, it's great to see you too. How are you?" I smiled at them; I felt so pleased to see their faces again. Edward squeezed my hand, and I could see him smiling at me from the corner of my eye.

"We are fine thank you. Please make yourself at home." said Carlisle, beaming. I could see Jasper hovering at the foot of the stairs, behind Carlisle and Esme. He was standing motionlessly, utterly stiff. I knew why. My scent; the most recent member of the Cullen family found it harder than the others to be around me because of it. And without a doubt, Alice's absence was the main factor. I was seriously getting worried. After the way she had looked last night, anything could have happened. She could be absolutely fine, just out hunting somewhere…

No. It didn't satisfy me. I had to ask, to find out.

"Where's Alice?" I asked Carlisle. I saw Edward glance at me from the corner of my eye. It was a glare. I ignored it. I wondered if Carlisle or Esme would lie to me. It didn't seem likely. Edward was still glaring at me. It felt as if his eyes were burning through my face. I hated making him angry, absolutely hated it. But I had to know. Carlisle's smile faded very slightly, but he answered my question.

"Alice has been absent since yesterday night. She needed to leave to clear her thoughts." His voice was calm, informative, controlled, like the medical professional he was. I knew he wouldn't say any more. That was fine; I'd found out what I needed to know. Edward's livid glare tore from me and ended up on Carlisle, who did not meet his eyes. Why was Edward so angry?

I slowly walked over towards the TV, a couple of steps away from where Rosalie was sitting. Baseball was on. I wondered if Charlie knew he was missing a game. It wasn't like him to go out when one was on.

I glanced in the corner of my eye at Rosalie, beautiful Rosalie. The only Cullen who took an intense dislike to me the moment she'd heard about Edward and I. Her blonde waves flowed over her shoulders and down the back of the sofa. I picked up a strand of my own hair; it was poker straight. I examined it for a second before I let it tumble out of my fingers. I sighed. I suddenly felt tears welling up. I furiously wiped my hand across my eyes before they could reach full flow. I blinked and swallowed hard. I had to keep it together better. I was almost eighteen, for goodness' sake.

"Bella." Edward's voice in my ear made me jump. I turned to him, desperation on my face. He took my hand, looking at our hands as he did so.

But for the first time ever, to my utter astonishment and disgust, I didn't want to hold his hand. Edward had done nothing wrong and yet my sudden miserable mood had not made an exception for him - that had never happened before.

I gently tugged away my hand from his cold grasp. Edward released me immediately and looked into my eyes; hurt stared back at me from his now dark honey irises-but only I could decipher that hidden emotion in his controlled, hard expression. Fury at myself hit me like a slap in the face. I stepped sideways, turned and walked to the glass back wall, staring out at the meadow ahead. The tears spilled over. I just let them fall, not bothering to wipe them away. A low sob suddenly broke out from my throat. Then all my fears crashed down on me. Alice had gone, her visions lost, and I didn't know when she would come back. I just prayed it would be soon. My own life meant little to me but my family's lives were another story. If I got hurt because of some unknown danger, it would hurt Edward, and if he wasn't happy, then his family would never be. I stood there motionlessly for a minute.

Suddenly I noticed that the TV was switched off. Silence. I spun around. The room was empty. Not even Edward was there.

I listened out for footsteps, anything at all to prove I was not abandoned. My heartbeat was normal, not reacting, and then suddenly it was thumping in my ears.

I heard a distant humming. I took three brisk steps toward the sound, my bad leg protesting. My cast would be ready to come off after another week. But forcing it to let my leg take quicker steps than normal didn't help when it wasn't completely healed. My tears were gone; I was completely distracted. I listened closer now, unmoving. The humming continued. I stopped breathing for a second to strain my ears.

Then the door opened. In walked Alice, Edward in tow, Jasper on her other side holding her hand and smiling widely – his teeth seemed to light up the entire room.

"Alice!" I wailed, hurrying as quickly as my walking cast would allow. I couldn't get there fast enough. I hurled myself into Alice's open arms; I threw mine around her. She held me close but she seemed a little stiff. She sniffed. "Um, Bella, I haven't had a chance to hunt yet…" she began. Her voice was perfect and bell-like.

"Oh, sorry!" I set her free immediately. I could tell that the life was back in her face, the focus returned. The relief that washed over me then was profound.

I knew instantly that I wanted to apologize to Edward. I was still disgusted that I could just walk away from him like that with no explanation.

I took three steps and grabbed his hands. I struggled to stretch on my tiptoes. I couldn't manage it. I lost my balance and fell into his arms. He moved his hands to my waist and lifted me up. He spun me around, laughing quietly in his musical voice. Before I knew it, I was laughing with him, and he was no longer stressed, but gazing at me again with the scorching eyes. I couldn't see anyone but him; the rest of the room was a blur. Edward cuddled me to his chest. He kissed the top of my head and placed me carefully onto my feet. He placed his hand on my cheek. It burned despite the icy temperature of his hard, smooth skin. Edward smiled his crooked smile at my blush. I stared just like I had the very first time I'd seen it. My stomach rumbled as I gawked. I giggled, embarrassed.

"Esme…" Edward called, somewhat projecting his voice. She appeared silently beside him in a split second. "Yes, Edward dear. Oh Bella, darling, you must be starving, what would you like to eat?" Esme touched my arm lightly as she spoke. I smiled at her.

"I don't mind. Don't put yourself out because of me; I don't want to be a burden."

"Bella, we have plenty to eat, don't worry about that."

"Um, a sandwich would be fine. Thank you, Esme."

Edward rolled his eyes.

"I'll make something, Esme. I won't be long, Bella." He disappeared as soon as he spoke the words. Esme raised her eyebrows at me, then smiled and disappeared after him. My stomach was really rumbling now. I sat on the edge of the sofa and waited while Edward made my lunch. I didn't have to wait long.

He returned with a steaming bowl of freshly made pasta and tomato; it looked absolutely mouth-watering. He sat with me while I ate and switched on the TV. I finished in just under five minutes, and started to ease myself up to return my bowl to the kitchen. Of course, Edward stopped me and took it away for me, returning in under half a second. I didn't even have time to look at his departure he was so fast. I felt all warm and satisfied, completely content. "Thank you Edward, that was delicious." I grinned.

"You're welcome." He replied.

Edward drove me home around half past five, and Charlie still wasn't home. His cruiser was nowhere to be seen and the house lights were off. Was he still fishing with Billy? I looked at Edward as he opened the car door and lifted me out. He didn't seem to acknowledge the question in my eyes. Perhaps my thoughts weren't so obvious on my face after all.

"Do you know when Charlie is coming home – I thought he would be back by now." I asked. Understanding entered Edward's expression, and he answered in his lovely velvet voice.

"When he's near you'll be the first to know. Don't worry, love." Now that was cleared up, I wanted some answers about Alice. What had happened to make her happy again? Edward looked at me. Curiosity burned in his eyes, and that familiar hint of frustration I'd seen that very first day was present again. I didn't say anything about it until we were up in my room. Edward lay on my bed, arms folded casually behind his head. I sat down cautiously on the edge of the mattress. Taking in my body language, Edward sat up and was sitting right beside me in an instant.

"Did you want to tell me something?" He asked gently, though his eyes yearned to know every detail.

"I just wanted to ask something actually…" I trailed off, trying to find the best way to bring it up, and not doing a good job of it. We ended up sitting in silence until Edward prompted me to continue.

"Tell me," He begged.

"Well, I wondered what happened with Alice – I mean, did her sight come back? When I saw her today, she was fine, but yesterday…" I couldn't find the words to describe the way she'd looked last night, didn't want to think about it. Edward responded straight away. "Alice has managed to recover her visions, yes. Neither of us knows what happened…that's a mystery…" Edward looked down, voice lowering as he said the last words. He didn't look up and a little crease appeared between his eyebrows.

I felt a wash of relief at his words. But no one knew why she couldn't see yesterday… Despite this mystery, I relaxed and placed my focus entirely on Edward, who was still frowning at the floor.

Suddenly his head snapped up, and he stared straight ahead.

"Charlie's almost home. I'll be back within five minutes, I promise." He took my hands, squeezing them very gently before kissing me lightly on the top of my head and disappearing out the open window before I could speak. Then I remembered that his Volvo was in the driveway so it figured he would have to get rid of it before Charlie came home and started asking questions.

I decided to start the dinner, and was putting some leftover lasagne into the oven when Charlie arrived home about two minutes later. He greeted me cheerfully, and asked me how my day was before he switched on the TV like any other day. He hadn't had dinner when he'd gone to Billy's after their fishing trip, and once I'd started the timer on the stove, I finally made my way upstairs very, very slowly so I wouldn't trip as I so often did.

But Edward wasn't in my room when I went in. I glanced around me, frowning as I rushed to the window to look. No sign. Had it even been five minutes? I started to turn, sighing at my impatience.

"Oh!" I gasped, jumping out of my skin. Edward was in front of me, grinning mischievously. My heart thumped wildly at the surprise and his proximity.

"Did I scare you?" He seemed pleased with himself at the prospect; obviously he had.

"Almost," I breathed, the shock wearing off by the second.

"Almost!" He scoffed, his smile widening, and his dazzlingly white teeth had me mesmerized to the point of insanity. I stared, mouth slightly open.

Suddenly he disappeared again and reappeared in my rocking chair, lying right back.

He reached out for me. I started to make my way over, but then Edward's head suddenly turned to the door and he dropped his arms. So I stopped in my tracks and waited.

"Charlie's coming. Someone wants to talk to you on the phone." He was still looking at the door, and before I knew it my face was in his hands and he was kissing my forehead.

"I'll be back soon," He murmured, and his expression told me the last thing he wanted to do was leave, even if it was just for a few minutes.

"Who's on the phone?" I asked, clutching him; I didn't want him to go at all.

"You'll see," He whispered.

I almost fell forwards when I was suddenly holding thin air. Then there were four knocks on the door. Charlie didn't wait for an answer, and I waited as the door creaked open.

"Hey Bells – Jacob's on the phone wanting to talk. Sounds real eager."

"Jacob? Oh." Why would Jacob want to talk to me? Maybe he just wanted a chat. Nothing wrong with that, was there? I stood still, thinking.

"Quick, Bells, before he hangs up." Charlie looked… well, thrilled. He was obviously glad that someone that wasn't a Cullen was calling the Swan household to talk to me.

I hurried to the kitchen and grabbed the receiver.

"Hey Jacob, what's up?" I sounded a little impatient but otherwise, calm.

"Hey there, Bella. Nothing much. Um…" he seemed nervous to continue. I prompted him, smiling a little.

"Yes?"

"Well… did Charlie say anything to you about Edward?" The words came out in a rush. Edward? Charlie hadn't mentioned him at all. Well, I hadn't seen much of my dad today - I'd

been with Edward.

"No - what is it?" Obviously nothing that serious; I was only with him a minute ago.

"At home I heard my dad telling Charlie… that he should try to keep you away from Edward. He told me to call you…" His voice was husky, and he spoke slowly.

I was silent for a few seconds. This was almost a repeat of what he said at Prom yesterday. Telling me that his dad wanted me to leave Edward. Why was Jacob telling me this again?

"Jacob you told me this before…um, I don't get it. What's new?" I was wary, and to be honest a little irritated. Why did this matter so much to Billy? Getting his son to tell me this again instead of just telling me himself?

"Oh, yeah, sorry Bella. I know I sorta told you this before, but my dad said that it would be safer for you if you don't have vampires in your life, and that he will talk to Edward for you if you don't say something…so…um. Yeah. Don't ask me why. I don't actually see why he can't just leave it alone. Please don't be mad, I'm just the messenger here. I'm sorry." I couldn't doubt his sincerity at his apology. Now I was angry, but not at Jacob. Billy was getting on my nerves. Seriously getting on my nerves. What, he was going to get Edward to break up with me? No way. No way was I just going to accept that. My voice was strained when I spoke again. I struggled to keep it level, calm.

"Well, tell your dad to mind his own business, and that I thank him for his concern but I refuse to end my relationship because of his prejudices. And I will know if he speaks to Edward, because Edward has the decency to tell me face to face what I need to know. Jacob, I didn't want to say that to you, so I'm sorry, but pass on the message for me. I can't deal with this anymore."

"Sure, sure. Sorry again. I'll try to make him see your side, but… Oh well. I've gotta go, see ya later Bella."

"Bye Jacob." He hung up before I finished speaking. I sighed and put down the phone. The TV suddenly became louder, as if Charlie was listening and suddenly realised he might be caught out.

I took two deep breaths, and breathed out slowly. I sat down in the living room to distract myself by watching the baseball my dad appeared to be engrossed in. Charlie wasn't one to show his feelings openly, and I was usually pretty glad about that, especially now. I would definitely bet he was listening in. I suddenly wondered if Edward was waiting for me upstairs. He would have seen in Charlie's thoughts that I had sat here. I wanted to be calm when I saw him; he would instantly know if I wasn't. I stared at the screen, not seeing anything. I was almost motionless, only my chest moving gently up and down. My thoughts took over, and my eyelids started to get sore and heavy. As the sky dimmed, the darkness swept over me. And the dreams began.

When I woke up I was in my bed, Edward lying next to me on top of the duvet, and I could feel his cool temperature giving me goose bumps. He was gazing curiously at my face, eyes a lovely golden shade. He must have left and hunted – his eyes were more honey-brown than gold yesterday. How long must I have been sleeping? I frowned, trying to work out the hours in my head. But I knew it was Monday morning; that I was absolutely certain. I'd missed dinner last night. My stomach growled.

"How are you today?" Edward asked in a serious tone. But he had a tiny smile playing on the edge of his lips. Sometimes, I just wished I knew what he was thinking.

"What time is it?" I asked, ignoring his question and trying to sit up a little.

"It's just gone six; you fell asleep rather early, I have to say. You must have been tired. But you didn't answer my question." Edward said, his beautiful smile gradually growing more pronounced.

"I'm fine. Did Charlie bring me in here or you? When did you leave to hunt?" My voice was weak; I was feeling confused and not looking forward to the long day of school ahead. Well, at least I had biology class with Edward today…

Edward's eyebrows lifted infinitesimally and his smile faded slightly.

"Bella, do you really think Charlie would be too happy about me appearing out of nowhere to bring you to bed?" He laughed, and the glorious music rang in my ears. I sighed quietly as I listened, memorising it.

"Well, anyway, I'd better go get ready for school-"

"Bella…there's no school…" Edward interjected gently. I frowned, confused. Then the obvious slowly dawned on me.

"Oh…" I breathed. Of course… it was summer! My memory was starting to scare me. I decided to get up anyway, get busy. I got up so abruptly I stumbled on my way out of bed, and in the corner of my eye, Edward twitched.

When I hurriedly washed, dressed and emerged from the bathroom, Edward was there, smiling, hand held out for mine. He looked like he was hiding some secret he knew nobody would ever dream of finding out.

But he stayed silent, still smiling. Then he took my hand, gently tugging me in the direction of the stairs.

"Hey, where are we going?" I giggled, excited by his grin. Edward didn't answer, scooping me up into his arms in one swift movement. And then we flew down the stairs. Before I knew it we were out the front door and the unusually mild breeze washed the smell of fresh leaves across my face. My hair danced over my cheeks. Edward pulled me around to his back. Instinctively I locked my arms in a chokehold around his neck. And then we were hurtling through the forest. My hair whipped back furiously and I gasped, not in shock, but pure thrill. Edward was breathing steadily, and I leaned down into his cold neck. The wondrous, exquisite scent of him overwhelmed my senses and I inhaled slowly while my lips curved up into a small content smile.

"Hold on!" Edward chuckled happily.

I laughed, kissing his neck very lightly. He sighed quietly. And Edward continued to glide through the trees. I never wanted him to stop.