CHAPTER NINE:
Damned by the light

Standing there by a broken tree,
Her hands were all twisted, she was pointing at me.
I was damned by the light coming out of her eyes.
She spoke with a voice that disrupted the sky.
She said "Walk on over yeah to the bit of shade,
I will wrap you in my arms and you'll know you've been saved."
-Let Me Sign (Rob Pattinson)

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Bella had a fantastic first day at work. Carlisle had been easy on her, and she enjoyed the time they spent together. They had begun they day doing a tour of the hospital, eventually working their way up to tending to less-urgent patients. Bella never felt a hint of bloodlust. Carlisle was incredibly proud of her extensive knowledge and her resistance. Bella felt like she was finally putting all of her long nights of studying to use.

The day went by fast. Carlisle and Bella drove to her apartment, where he helped her load all of her things into duffle bags that Esme had given them before work. Bella left behind the major pieces of furniture, and locked up the apartment. She would go back there eventually to deal with that stuff.

Bella felt completely at ease with Carlisle. She appreciated that he had not tried to bring up the subject of Edward. Now, seated in the car with Carlisle, surrounded by bags of her possessions, Bella was rather excited. She couldn't wait to move into their home. Bella was drumming her fingers on the window ledge in anticipation. They were pulling into the Cullen's long winding drive when Bella noticed Carlisle stiffen beside her. Bella moved her eyes from her hand to look out the front window. What she saw surprised her more than any other the other possibilities she had been considering would have. There, parked in front of them, sat an all too recognizable shiny silver Volvo. Carlisle pulled the car to a stop behind the Volvo. For a moment, neither of them moved.

"He's back?" Bella was frightened.

"I swear Bella, I didn't know." Carlisle said, shaking his head. She believed him. Bella pushed the bag that had been sitting on her lap to the floor, and reached for the door handle. She ripped it open and climbed out of the car, her bags forgotten. She didn't know why, but she felt the need to run to the house, to see if it really was him there. She walked up the steps of the porch, almost drunkenly.

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Edward had spent the day pacing the house. Esme had conveyed the message to him that Bella still cared about him, but warned him that she probably wouldn't be happy with him until he explained himself, and even then, she would still be hurt and shocked. Edward knew now, with the help of Esme's mind, that Bella was a vampire. He had watched the scene unfold in his head as Bella told Esme and Carlisle what had happened to her in the woods. He was disgusted with himself. He had been gone mere hours and she had been hurt. It was useless. He had left for no good reason. How could he possibly justify his actions to her now? Edward had told her that he didn't love her, and then she was attacked by Victoria. He wondered briefly if Bella thought it had been planned against her. No, he stopped himself. There was no way that Edward was going to let himself believe that. Absolutely not. She could never think that badly of him.. he hoped.

Edward's main concern was letting her see that he still loved her. He had lied to her so well that he now regretted it even more. He knew she probably wouldn't believe him, but he had to do it some how. Edward wasn't even sure she would still want him. He'd have to try.

Esme stood aside for the day, as she watched her son pace the house nervously, trying to come up with ways to solve his desperate problem. She knew he only had a few more hours left until Bella and Carlisle came home with her stuff. She hoped that this wouldn't cause Bella to want to leave. They only just got her back. Esme couldn't afford to lose one of her children again.

Alice had warned Esme not to get involved in the situation. She tried her best to stay out, only offering the bits of memory that Edward would undoubtedly be able to read whether she tried to block him out or not. She had never been the best at blocking him. The need to be honest with her son was too strong.

Esme hear the distant sound of a car approaching. Apparently, so had Alice, Jasper, Emmet, Rose, and Edward. From their positions scattered about the house, Esme heard them all stop, and make their ways towards the front of the house where they were most likely looking out the window for the approaching vehicle. Esme felt a gust of wind go by her and turned just in time to see Edward flee out the back door. She sighed. Apparently he wasn't quite ready for a reunion yet.

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Edward flew out the back door and into the trees. He stopped when he was deep enough in the trees that he wasn't clearly visible from the house. He began to circle around toward the front of the house, staying under the cover of the dark forest. Edward stopped when he could see Carlisle's black Mercedes come to a stop behind his Volvo. Edward could only imagine what the two of them were thinking right then. Well, he could hear what Carlisle was thinking, but he couldn't hear what Bella was thinking, obviously. It was stupid of him to toy with the idea that maybe he would be able to now that she was different. While he didn't want to be able to hear her thoughts because he knew how she liked that privacy, he had to admit that it would come in handy during the inevitable argument that would soon happen.

He watched from the trees as Bella and Carlisle got out of the car. God, she was still so beautiful, even more so if that was even possible. He could see the anger contorting on her face and she stormed up the stairs. She was so graceful. Edward had to admit, not much had changed about her appearance. She still had that creamy, pale skin she always had, and her long brown hair. The only obvious differences were the way she held herself, and her eyes. They were no longer the deep brown they used to be, but were rather topaz like his. Well, he knew they would be topaz like his, right now they were black with anger.

Edward wanted to run to her, to hold her to him closely. He wanted to whisper in her ear that he was sorry. Edward couldn't stand to see her with that look of hurt on her face, but he understood. He would be hurt if she had done what he did. Edward felt compelled to fix this, and fast. Bella didn't deserve to be feeling like this, and he was determined to turn this around as soon as possible. The best he could hope for was that she would decide he was worthy of her. That was something he had always doubted, especially now.

He ran a shaky hand through his hair, making it stand on ends. Edward watched from the distance as she pulled the front door open, and slipped into the house, leaving the door open behind her for Carlisle, who was momentarily frozen in spot still, staring blankly at Edward's Volvo. Carlisle shook his head slowly, to himself, and looked up directly at the spot in the woods where Edward was hidden. He shook his head again, this time at Edward. There was a frown on his face, as he turned away and flew up the stairs and into the house, closing the door silently behind him. Edward hadn't gotten much from Carlisle's mind, but the general gist of it was frustration. He wasn't surprised. He had, once again, screwed up the family. Last time, he had forced them out of their home and away from a member of their family, this time, all he had to do was show up.

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Inside the house, it was pandemonium. Bella stood in the door way of the house, looking around at the members of her family. She was unsure if she should be angry with them for not giving her any notice, or be upset with herself for letting this happen. Bella wanted to see Edward, there was no doubt about that, but she had certainly not counted on it being this soon. She had barely had any time to re-associate herself with the rest of the family. Hell, she hadn't even brought her stuff in the house yet.

The fact that Edward was nowhere to be seen was a relief to her. The relief did not last long however, when she heard the back door of the house open and close loudly. Trust him to use the noise as a bit of warning for her. Or was he doing it to taunt her? It was obviously him, every other member of the family was standing around her, staring at her, unsure of what to do. Maybe he was trying to let her know that he was there so that she would leave him alone. After all, why would he want to be around her. He had told her how he felt those few years ago back in Forks, why should that have changed since?

Bella looked at her family. "Will someone help me bring in my stuff?" She looked at Alice, who replied immediately.

"I'm not getting involved in this. Don't ask me." She turned around and walked up stairs. Bella didn't understand but turned to Emmett and Jasper instead. They both looked at her and smiled cautiously, but happily.

"Of course, Bells." Jasper replied, filling the air with a more relaxed atmosphere, desperate to be rid of everyone's overwhelming feelings of anticipation. Alice seemed to be the only person who knew what was happening or what would happen, and she wouldn't help. Jasper figured he might as well do what he could until he was told not to.

Emmett and Jasper followed Bella outside to Carlisle's car, where she popped the trunk with the keys Carlisle had handed her, and began unloading her bags.

Emmett spoke up after a few minutes of silence, "Jee, Bells, you sure you needed our help? You're probably stronger and faster than we are since you're so young." He tried to make a joke, and Bella tried to laugh. The situation was obviously still tense, everyone in their own world, trying to figure out what to do next. Jasper sent another round of calming emotions. Bella hadn't really needed their help with her bags, there hadn't been that many, but she didn't want to be alone at the moment.

Bella heard foot steps from behind her as picked up another bag. She froze where she was. His scent announced it was him. She vaguely registered Jasper and Emmett leaving her there alone, and walking into the house. Bella was afraid to look. She knew Edward would look physically the same, but what would he do when he saw her? She figured that he already knew she was different, but what if he didn't want her to be here? What if he made her family leave her again? Her last thought made her extremely angry. She would not allow him to do that again. What the hell did he want to talk to her about? Hadn't he already hurt he enough? Slowly, she turned around to face him.

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Bella was pulling suitcases out of the back of Carlisle's car with the help of Emmett and Jasper when Edward came out of the house. He took a few steps towards the car and stopped. Emmett and Jasper seemed to get the hint from the look he was giving them, and then quickly took the bags they had unloaded into the house, leaving the rest for later. Bella threw the bag she was holding down as she turned to glare at him. Anger was apparent on her face.

"Can we talk Bella? Please.." Edward was begging her. He seemed to know his attempt was fruitless, but he had to try either way.

"What is there to talk about, Edward?" She sneered his name. Pent up emotions suddenly began to flow out of her. Bella felt like the inner wall that she has used to hide away her feelings had suddenly burst like a faulty damn. "You left me. You LEFT me alone and fucking broken." He didn't reply. "After everything, after all the promises you made me, you still left." She really, really wanted to hit him, almost as much as she wanted to cry.

Edward answered hesitantly, "I thought if I left you would be safe."

Bella laughed bitterly. "Well, you were fucking wrong, Edward. Victoria still found me! Look at me! I always wanted to be like this," she gestured to her body, "But never at the hands of anyone but you." Bella turned away from him, not wanting him to see the hurt on her face. Then again, he deserved this anger. She had spent months angry at him, why not let him finally see it? He needed to know what he had done to her. From the corner of her eye, she saw him cringe in pain. It looked as if someone had punched him in the gut. She knew it was a low blow to bring out Victoria, but at the moment she didn't care.

"I still want you, Bella," he replied gloomily.

"And how the hell am I supposed to know that I can trust you? You lied to me once, how am I supposed to know that you aren't lying to me now?" She was irritated. How dare he believe that he could merely walk back into her life and expect her to take him back? "You expect way too much of me, Edward." He didn't reply again, and chose to simply stare at her instead, allowing her the chance to let out her feelings. "My life revolved around you. You took away my life when you left me in the woods, not to mention my family," she finished bitterly. Bella spun on her heel, heading into the woods. "Don't fucking follow me," she yelled when she heard him begin to follow her. Edward stopped dead in his tracks, and let her go, watching her slender figure disappear into the shadows of the trees.

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Emmett and Jasper were standing in the living room when Edward came back into the house. You alright, man? I'm getting a lot of mixed emotions off of you right now...Jasper thought, looking at Edward sympathetically. He shook his head, and brushed past Jasper, walking up the stairs to his bedroom, shutting the door tightly behind him. Even here he couldn't get away from her. Her scent lingered from the night before when she spent the night crying on his couch. Edward hadn't been back in his room since he came back. He hardly used this room anyway. Most of his time had been spent on the road. Edward walked over to the stereo and pressed play without thinking about what would was in the stereo. As Debussy's music filled the room, he wondered briefly if she had been listening to it last night.

Alice knocked lightly on his door, and opened it slowly, peering through the crack. "Edward?" He looked up. She slid over to the couch and silently sat down next to her brother. She hadn't been close with him since he forced them to leave Forks. Alice held a grudge against him for making her leave her best friend, but she could not help but feel bad for him now, in this situation. Alice knew how much he cared about Bella, and she knew how much Bella cared about him. The part that killed her was that if she did anything to try and help them through this, it wouldn't work out. The vision she had had was confusing, but lead her to believe that if she interfered and played messenger for them, things would be misunderstood and it would only become worse. Alice wouldn't risk letting her family be torn apart again when it was so close to being sewn back together. She placed a hand lightly on Edward's back and rubbed it up and down slowly. "Give her time, Edward. You need to be more patient," she said.

Edward groaned beside her. "What do you see, Alice? Will she ever forgive me?" He hung his head in his hands, his voice barely above a whisper. He was begging for answers, for confirmation that this would work out and that he would somehow get his Bella back.

"I can't help you, Edward. If I interfere, it will not be good. That's all I can tell you." She stood slowly, giving him a pitiful look, and walked away, calling behind her, "You'll figure it out."

Edward spent the remainder of the night in that position on the couch, patiently waiting, the best he could, for Bella to come back. Edward began to worry for her safety when she had not returned and it was nearing dawn. He eventually moved downstairs to brood on the couch there. He considered leaving the house and looking for Bella in the forest. However, he did not allow himself to give in and go after Alice had calming walked past him, shaking her head and frowning at him. He laughed cynically to himself. Alice had probably seen the further damage he would have done if he went looking for her. He would just have to wait.

A few more hours passed and Edward finally caught a hint of Bella's scent outside the house. He stood from his seat as she entered the front door. Bella strode towards the stairs with a determined look on her face. She stopped and turned towards Edward before she reached the bottom of the staircase. Emotions flickered in both their eyes and they looked deeply into one an others, but it did not last long. Both had remained silent, but Bella eventually broke the exchange, looking down at the floor momentarily and shaking her head slowly. She turned her body away from Edward's and went upstairs in a flash.

Twenty minutes passed and Edward was still frozen in his place when Bella came back down the stairs, in a fresh outfit. This time however, she did not return his gaze, but rather ignored his presence altogether, and walked straight out of the house to meet Carlisle at the car. Edward was still staring at nothing when he heard the car turn around and pull out of the drive.

Esme came to stand next to Edward, taking his hand in hers. She did not speak aloud, but rather in her mind to him. They will be back this evening, they've just gone to work. I'm going upstairs to work as well. He nodded to her, without looking her in the eyes. Esme sighed and dropped his hand, heading up the stairs to finish her latest project for work.

Edward eventually found his way back to the couch. Rosalie and Emmett announced that they were going out for the day to hunt and spend time together. The two felt uncomfortable in the house with Edward when he was acting like this. Jasper too, was unable to feel at ease. Edward's mixed emotions were too much for him. Alice took this as an opportunity to escape the house with Jasper. The temptation to tell Edward what to say to Bella was becoming too strong, so she needed to get out before she did something she shouldn't do. Vision or not, it was still their problem to sort out and it would be best if no one else got involved.

The day would undoubtedly be long. Edward had already spent the entire night considering what he would say her her when she got back. Now he just needed to work up the nerve to talk to her again. Since Edward already knew that Bella still loved him, he was a bit more confident. However, he still needed to get through to her and make her see that he still loved her as well, despite what he had told her when he left her alone in the forest back in Forks. He wanted Bella to see that he was sorry for what he did, that he wanted nothing more than to fix it and have her back in his life. He couldn't imagine spending the rest of eternity without her by his side. The last few years had been hard enough.

Edward spent the afternoon at the piano. It had been a while since he played anything. The last time had been for Bella back at the house in Forks. He wished that she was there next to him, leaning lightly against him like she used to when he would play for her. He could imagine the way her hair smelt against his shoulder, and the way her lips turned up into a smile when she closed her eyes and let herself dive into his music. Edward could almost hear her heart beat, acting as a makeshift metronome for him as his fingers danced across the keys. He had his eyes closed now, fueling the memory, but not impeding his playing. Edward smoothly transitioned the song from Esme's favorite into Bella's Lullaby. If he could cry, he would.

He was so absorbed in the music that he did not hear Esme come up behind him. Edward only noticed her presence when she played her hand lightly on his shoulder. Her gentle touch surprised him, but her thoughts let him know it was only Esme. Not quite who he had hoped.

I truly hope this works out for you, Edward. I have a feeling that Bella will come around. Give her time, son. He whispered a response, "Thanks Esme." He felt her kiss the top of his head. His fingers hadn't stopped once. He felt Esme slowly remove her hand from his shoulder and somewhere behind him heard her retreat back upstairs.

Time seemed to pass too slowly for Edward. He felt a sort of weird relief when he noticed the sky outside had gradually began to darken. The hour on the clock told him that Bella would be back soon. Also as if his thoughts had summoned her home, he heard the distant sound of Carlisle's car tires crunching along the drive. Edward transitioned once again into Bella's Lullaby, anticipating her arrival. He wasn't sure what to do with himself as he heard her footsteps along side Carlisle's slowly travelling up the porch. He stayed where he was at the piano, playing her song. The way the piano was positioned in the room, it left his back exposed to the front door, so Edward missed the look of pain that fluttered across Bella's face when she came to a stop in the doorway. He vaguely heard Carlisle direct his thoughts to Edward, saying something along the lines of leaving the house with Esme for a few hours to give them privacy.

Cautiously, Bella walked towards Edward's turned back. As if he knew what she was doing, he slid down to one side of the piano bench, leaving her enough space to take her usual spot next to him. Neither of them looked at each other as she sat down. Edward continued playing, simply restarting the song when it finished. He played the song once through, both of them remaining silent. When it finished, Edward turned slowly to look at Bella. She kept her eyes directed at the piano.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "Will you please let me explain myself?"

She turned to look at him. He could tell she was trying to hide her emotions, but they bled out of her every pore. She spoke hesitantly, "Yes." There was a pregnant pause. "I had a lot to think about last night... I think I'm ready to hear what you have to say now." Edward nodded in reply, and slowly stood up, warily reaching out for her hand. He was unsure of how she would react. Bella froze for a moment, questioning his hand, but calmed herself quickly and took it, allowing him to gently pull her to her feet. The touch of their hands allowed them both to feel the familiar electricity that used to course between them. Their eyes met and they both struggled to hide a small smile at the feel of the attraction between them.

They walked hand in hand up the stairs to Edward's room. He held open the door for her, and closed it behind her when they were in the room. They were alone in the house, but Edward still didn't feel like the living room was the right place to have this conversation.

Edward turned away from her, finally dropping her hand. He ran his own through his hair, leaving it standing on end. "I don't know what to say to you, Bella." He paced the room nervously, as her eyes followed his every move.

"Tell me," she began. "Did you mean it?" Bella did not have to clarify what she meant. Edward already knew that she was talking about what happened in the forest back in Forks.

"I lied to you, Bella," he spewed urgently as the pacing stopped. He rushed forward to her but left enough room between them. He didn't want to push his luck. She may have allowed him to hold her hand, but she wasn't necessarily going to be jumping into his arms any time soon. "I thought, if I got away from you that you would be safe." The pacing resumed. "It was stupid of me, I know. I should have realized that by leaving you, you would get into even worse situations. I should have known that Victoria would some day come back." He gave her a wry smile. "You always have been a magnet for danger, Bella."

Something had shifted in Bella. The anger that she had held for him initially, had dissipated over the course of the day, when she realized she couldn't hate him. She needed an explanation, yes, but she couldn't act hostile towards him anymore. He understood that he had hurt her, that had to have been enough. Bella felt comforted to know that he wanted her back. Carlisle and the rest of the family had been vague on the details, insisting it wasn't their story to tell, but they did tell her that Edward's love for her had never once died. It explained his absence from the family. They were one of the worst reminders of her for him.

So now, as she stood in front of Edward, as she listened to him stumble over his words, she couldn't help but feel relief. He still wanted her, and that was what really mattered to her.

"I know what I did was wrong, Bella. Had I stayed with you, you wouldn't be a vampire. I would have caught that bitch and torn her to pieces before she could lay a finger on you." Edward paused, stopping his pacing at the same time. He walked slowly up towards her, keeping his distance again. "I'm in a trap of my own actions here, Bella. I don't know what to do. I need us to be happy together. Fuck, I just need us." He hesitantly reached out to place a hand on her arm. When she didn't shrug it off, he took it as a good sign and continued. "I still love you, Bella, I always have. If you don't want to ever see me again, I understand. I'll leave right away if you ask me to. I won't pull you away from the family anymore. It was wrong of me to do. You deserve to be with them much more than I do..." he said honestly. Edward had nothing left to say. He hung his head defeated, awaiting any sort of response from her. Bella seemed almost as nervous as he was.

"So," she began, unsure of the reaction she would get, "you... you still love me?" She rang her hands together anxiously.

"Yes," he whispered, looking her in the eyes. The topaz color suited her.

"You're sure?"

"Positive."

Bella took a step forward, and placed her hand to the side of his face. She looked him in the eyes and let out a steady breath, that she didn't know she was holding. "You know, I never really gave up on you," she whispered, "part of me hoped you would someday come back to me."

"I'm so sorry, Bella," he whispered back. He looked her in the eyes, feeling a renewed urgency to explain himself further. "I've missed you so much. There hasn't been a single day, not even an hour, that I haven't thought of you. I should have never left you. It's all my fault that you're like this, Bella. I should have been there to-"

Bella pressed her finger to his lips, effectively silencing him. "Stop it Edward, please."

"No, Bella." He gently took her hand from his lips, holding it tightly in his own hand. "I need to know... are you sure you still want me? You're sure that there is no one else? You're sure that I'm the one for you?" he trailed off, his face filled with worry. He really didn't want to lose her, but he still felt that after all he had done, he didn't deserve her.

"It was always you," Bella cried suddenly. She startled him by throwing her arms around his neck abruptly, closing the gap between their bodies. Edward snaked his arms around her waist, pulling her tightly to him. He relished in the feel of her body against his. It was as if their bodies had been carved out of stone, designed perfectly to fit one another. He took in a deep breath of her scent as their lips finally met in a bittersweet reunion, gentle, but intense. Bella's hands found their way into Edward's hair, as he rubbed his hands up and down the small of her back. He pulled her even closer, filling their equal desire to be as close as possible. Their kisses grew deeper and more intense, and Bella moaned into Edward's mouth, sending him over the edge. He lifted her up, letting her wrap her legs around his waist as he grabbed onto her bottom to hold her up. Their touches became more intimate as Edward slid a hand up the back of her shirt, caressing her smooth skin. Bella moaned again.

Edward took a few steps forward, pressing Bella's back into the wall. He made a deep throaty noise when he felt her tug at the bottom of his shirt. He broke away from her just long enough to pull it off quickly, allowing her hands to roam his chest while he attacked her neck with kisses.

They were drowning in each other's scents now. Bella was relishing in the feel of his skin on hers. She had felt it before, of course, but never quite so intimately, and it had never felt like this. He had always been so cool to her, whereas now his skin was warm and felt even more perfect, if that were possible.

The feel of his lips on her neck drove her mad. Bella slipped a hand into his hair, pulling his face back up to meet hers, allowing their lips to crash together with undeniable urgency. She wanted to feel every inch of him. He slid his tongue across her bottom lip, begging for entrance. She allowed it.

Bella felt a hand on her butt, gently supporting her weight but also rubbing her thigh at the same time. She moaned into Edward's mouth again, and pulled her head away, diving to attack his neck. Somewhere along the way Bella had lost her shirt, revealing her black bra, and Edward's hands were becoming more and more adventurous. The two found their way over to Edward's couch, where Edward laid down and Bella sat down on top of him, legs on either side of his waist. Her eyes and hands were traveling over his exposed chest. His eyes roam hers and she felt momentarily uncomfortable. In their relationship before he left, Edward had never seen her this exposed. His eyes traveled back up to her face.

"You're so beautiful," he whispered to her, grabbing her arm and pulling her back down on top of him to kiss her gently. Their pace had slowed down, their kisses had become less urgent, although they still held the same desire and passion.

Edward grabbed her face, stopping her, and looked her in the eyes. "You really should hate me for what I've done to you, Bella," he sighed sadly.

"I can't. I tried, remember?" She paused, laughing slightly, and stared deeply into his topaz eyes. "Promise me one thing, Edward." Her expression was serious again.

He stiffened slightly, only moving to stroke her hair in response. "What is it, love?"

"Promise you won't ever leave me again," she said, her voice barely audible.

Edward smiled. "I promise," and pulled her face down again to meet his in a passionate kiss. Bella smiled against his mouth, relieved. She knew she would be able to trust him this time, but that was something to think about later. Right now, Bella wanted to feel every inch of Edward. She wanted to become reconnected with him. She needed to be. Bella pulled her face away from his a fraction of an inch to speak.

"Make love to me, Edward," Bella whispered just millimetres from his lips, her cool breath mingling with his. She didn't need to say it twice.

A/N: Sorry this one took so long to post. I've been pretty busy, and had a few migraines. Believe me, it's impossible to write or even THINK about writing when you have one of those. Also, sorry if you wanted Lemons, but I don't write that stuff. haha