Luminescence

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters contained herein. Except maybe one or two original characters, but nobody really wants them anyway.

x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x

Chapter 4

Victoria

Bella's home was nothing like I expected. After a week of constant observation, I'd noticed that my Firefly was a generally orderly person. She cooked, she cleaned, and she took care of her mother; who reminded me vaguely of some brightly colored, and easily distracted, bird I saw in the rainforest once.

When I got my first look, I was expecting mellow colors. Dark blues, cultured greens, vibrant purples. Instead, I was bombarded by the wallpaper equivalent of Renee. Bright cheerful yellow, baby blue, and cherry red. The walls were covered by abstract impressionist paintings with an odd Arizona landscape thrown into the mix every now and then. The front entrance opened immediately into the living room, which had no formal furniture besides a beaten up old couch. Otherwise it was littered with beanbag chairs in typical hippy fashion. Not that I was complaining, I was changed in 1964 so I could definitely appreciate the laid back atmosphere.

The open kitchen was directly to the right of the living room, it was small, and gave off an elegant and tidy impression. Granite countertops, redwood cabinets, and racks of carefully arranged steel cookware made for a sharp contrast to the careless disorder of the common room. The kitchen was obviously Bella's territory.

After throwing her book bag into a corner, Bella pulled me to the living room and began the arduous process of introducing me to her favorite movies. Six hours later, she'd managed to doze off against my shoulder. Not wanting to disturb her slumber, I pulled her into my lap so that she wouldn't have a horrible crick in her neck when she woke up. I barely remembered being human, but having watched and eaten them for so many years I'd learned that humans got aches and pains for almost everything. I found myself unable to resist stroking Bella's hair, the thin strands felt like gossamer against my fingertips. Each caress was executed with exaggerated care, for every sinew of my body held the power to end her life a million times over. Her head was tucked delicately under my chin, her breath wafted against my throat as she slept. If you'd asked me a month ago if I could picture myself enfolded in the arms of a human, I would have laughed.

Yet here I was, wrapped in an embrace with a glowing blood bag. Part of me, the vampire part, was disgusted with myself for not immediately indulging in Bella's frost and blueberry scent. The other, more human side of me was enjoying the simple pleasure of holding and being held by another person. I watched, entranced, as my Firefly stirred against the length of my cold marble body. Her heat was intoxicating. Decades of hunting had brought me into close contact with a countless number of mortals, but I'd never taken the time to savor their warmth, or the (often frantic) beating of their hearts. Too frequently, my thirst would not allow such uncomplicated luxuries.

However, it was a short lived enjoyment, for already I could feel the flames licking at my throat with every breath I took. The house was saturated with Bella's pheromones, not to mention the also pleasant, but not quite as appealing, wood-smoke scent of Renee. I needed to leave. Soon. Glancing at the clock, I noticed it was already ten pm, so I quietly gathered Bella into my arms and laid her to bed in her room.

Unlike most of the house, Bella's room was almost exactly as I'd imagined it would be. Her walls were a soft royal blue. Various trinkets and knick knacks lined the shelves behind her bed. An old dresser stood, nearly forgotten, in the corner.

Instead of being a tribute to a time or a theme, Bella's room was a tribute to her life and her love. Photo's, sketches, and seemingly random objects were hung or tacked to every available inch of wall space. Many of the pictures were of herself and her mother, or of an older man in a police uniform. While still others contained panoramic landscapes of the view behind her grandmother's ranch, the sky ablaze with color as the sun set behind the mountains. The sketches were a stunning composition of her grandmother's wrinkled face, an ocean faced by trees, and a young Native American boy whose eyes were alight with laughter. Each line and curve of her drawings was done with painstaking care and affection.

I wasn't prepared.

Every part of her room hit my vampiric senses like a freight train. I stood, frozen, under the weight of Bella's love. It was almost too much to bear. Something stirred within me as I gazed upon the girl whose soul was reflected on the walls around her. I couldn't place the sensation, but it made my chest clench tightly.

It was time to leave.

Renee still hadn't arrived home from her baseball game, so I was a little hesitant to leave Bella alone. I'd noticed she was very accident prone, and I didn't like the idea that she might trip and break her neck before I'd get my chance to turn her. My human was very troublesome. Still, it was a chance I had to take because another moment in her house would probably end with my teeth sunk deep into her throat. I didn't want that, and I'm sure my Firefly didn't want that, so it was for the best when I sped out the door to my Mustang.

The second I was outside, I took a deep breath to clear my senses of Bella's lingering scent. Lately I'd discovered that although Bella's fragrance didn't immediately scream for me to kill her, if I went without feeding for too long, her heartbeat began to seem deliciously appetizing. It wouldn't do to kill my future companion prematurely.

With a muted purr, I started the engine of my car and drove to downtown Phoenix. Since I was going to be staying in the area for a while, I would need to be extra careful not to rouse suspicion. Being near the border helped, because I could easily slip back and forth to avoid law enforcement, but I'd learned the hard way not to shit were you eat. Or was that shit where you sleep? Sometimes it was hard to remember old human sayings. In any case, if law enforcement suddenly got wind of a slew of local murders they'd make getting to know Bella harder. I resolved to try and eat only those that society wouldn't be likely to miss, even if they didn't taste as good.

When I finally got tired of driving around, I parked my Mustang in an out of the way location and walked to the nearest bar. Inebriated human wasn't my favorite, but it would get rid of my hunger and that's what mattered. Normally I'd play with my food, tease or entice them until I got just the right amount of pheromones to make the taste that much sweeter. Did you know that fear has a taste? It's slightly bitter, but with just the right amount of tang to excite the senses. What about lust? Like the human equivalent of chocolate, to a vampire it makes the blood thick and rich. Most human's think that blood is all the same, but it's not, a scent can make or break a meal for a vampire.

So I waited, I waited in the empty parking lot for my prey to come stumbling out of the bar. He's drunk, impaired, obviously not thinking strait enough to know that you don't talk to strangers; especially beautiful strangers with sly grins and scarlet eyes. But he came anyway, with his cowboy boots and wrangler jeans, leering as he drank in my body with the same enthusiasm with which he's drunk his scotch. I smiled; my eye's half lidded and seductive as he walked closer.

"Hey Beautiful," He slurred, swaying a little as he rambled over. "Wanna spend a night with me?"

"That depends." I purred as I pulled him against my body. My smirk grew wider when I felt him shudder at the chill of my touch. "You gonna hold me first?" I pretended to pout and he grinned drunkenly.

Moron.

Courting his own death.

"Sure, I'd love to hold a sweet little thing like you." He whispered in my ear as he wrapped his arms around my back. I could smell him. Sweat, whisky, and stale desire. Nothing savory. He's no Bella, but he'll still taste better than any dish I ever had as a human. I entangled my leg with his, one of my hands fisted in his shirt as the other entwined itself in his hair. It's a lovers embrace; nothing sinister here. Until of course, my fangs sank into his jugular, severing his windpipe with practiced ease so that his scream came out as nothing more than an inarticulate gurgle. The spurt of arterial blood was caught firmly by my mouth. Carefully, I drained him dry. Like a cat, I delicately lapped up every drop of the precious liquid. I made sure none escaped. Unlike many nomads, I was not a messy eater. Self preservation helped ensure my habits. Being covered in dried blood tended to make human's nervous.

Discretely disposing of my meal in a nearby dumpster, I began the walk back to my car. Halfway there, I caught wind of a scent that gave me pause.

Vampires.

Two of them.

I tensed, but continued my stroll. Hopefully they wouldn't show aggression, but if they did I knew my talent would ensure my escape. Evasion may not have been the most powerful gift a vampire could possess, but it'd kept me alive through the decades and I was more than happy to have it.

Sure enough, when I came within sight of my Mustang; I spotted two vampires leaning against its hood, admiring its finish as they waited. The first one was short, probably no more than 4'10 with short white blond hair that curled around her shoulders. Her eyes, like those of the male beside her, were a deep cherry red. As soon as she caught a glimpse of me, her mouth turned upwards in a friendly smile. I could detect no deceit in her eyes or body language. The man, who had his arms wrapped protectively around her waist, was of medium build. He had the same muscled perfection as most vampires, but other than that he seemed unremarkable. His hair was black, and slicked back in a style popular in the 1940's, but was now widely considered to be the stereotype for men in the Italian mafia. His expression, while not hostile, could only be described as reserved.

As I approached I smiled playfully, obviously if they meant any harm they would have attacked as soon as I was within their field of perception. Perhaps they merely wished to interact with another vampire, if I was any indication, it could have been decades since their last encounter with our species.

"Good Evening," I spoke, trying to be polite "Out for a midnight stroll? Might want to be careful, I hear there are dangerous characters around this area at night." I punctuated my remark with a wink in the females' direction and was rewarded with a small tinkling laugh.

"I'll be sure to keep that in mind." She replied, with a swift glance at her mate. "But Peter here will keep me safe from anything that might prowl the streets. Isn't that right Peter?" His only response was a loving smile that spoke volumes of his devotion to the woman held in his arms. After a moment, the female seemed to remember where she was, because she flashed me an apologetic expression and extended her hand in greeting.

"Forgive me; I've completely forgotten to introduce myself. My name is Charlotte and this here," she said motioning to Peter. "Is my mate Peter. We were just on our way back from Guadalajara when we came across your scent and decided to say Hi. We don't come across other nomads often, so we thought it would be nice to meet a new face." I couldn't contain the grin that spread across my face as I reached out to clasp her arm.

"Victoria," I purred, turning on the charm. "It's a pleasure to meet you both; it's been such a long time since I've seen another vampire. You'll have to excuse my caution, my last encounter wasn't nearly so pleasant." Her face seemed to fall in sympathy, so I rushed on, not wanting to evoke her pity. "So are you two staying long in Phoenix? If so I would be glad to accompany you on a hunt or two." At this point Peter deemed fit to add his two cents in.

"I'm afraid we can't, we've already made plans to meet up with some friends in Washington. Perhaps you've met them before? The Cullen's are somewhat famous among our kind." I merely shook my head.

"I can't say that I have. Are they a large coven?"

"Why yes, they are. I believe the last time we visited, they were numbered at seven. Our dearest friend Jasper is a part of their family. Their home is quite lovely."

I couldn't contain my shock. Seven vampires all living together? How did they manage the exposure? Seven corpses a week is nothing to laugh at, a permanent residence with those numbers seemed impossible.

"A permanent residence? How is that possible? The human's would surely notice." Peter's smirk grew.

"They're vegetarians of a sort. They survive by drinking the blood of animals. They really are a self sacrificing bunch, but apparently it allows them to live in one place for years on end. It also does strange things to their eyes. They've become a molten gold, due to their unique diet."

I was floored. It had never occurred to me to try living off of the blood of animals. When I was young and still affected by a human conscious, I might have jumped at the chance, but after decades of decadent feeding I couldn't imagine drinking animal vitae.

"I never knew that was possible." I murmured, completely fascinated by the idea, despite its initial repugnance.

"Yes, well," Charlotte began. "If you ever feel the sudden urge to try your hand at animals. I'm sure the Cullens would welcome you with open arms. Just, don't feed on their territory. They have the habit of destroying vampires that threaten their way of life."

I didn't so much as bat an eye at that pronouncement. It was the way of vampire's to destroy what threatened our desires. I didn't really expect these 'vegetarians' to be any different.

"Well," I exclaimed "It's been nice meeting you both, but since you can't stay long enough for a hunt or two, I think I'll say my goodbye's here." Charlotte seemed disappointed, but I could tell she understood because she gave her mate a significant look.

"Alright. It was fun talking Victoria, I hope we can meet again soon." And with that, they were both gone. Their movements were so fast; a human would have thought they'd simply flickered out of existence.

I stood by my car for a long time, thinking about a clan of golden eyed vampires.

x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x

A/N: Just a brief intro of the Cullens. Not the actual Cullens obviously, but i needed to introduce the IDEA of them to Victoria in the future for plot purposes. It also took me a while to settle on which vampires to introduce in this chapter. I needed them to be nomads, but not vegetarians like the Cullens. Originally i was going to go for James or Laurent, but then i remembered that they knew nothing of the Cullen's lifestyle when they first met in the clearing. So that was out. Plus, i don't want to introduce James for another chapter or two at least. Then i discovered Peter and Charlotte, and they were perfect. Nomads, non-vegetarian, and with friendly connections to the Cullens.

I wonder how many of you can guess what's going to happen next...

Anyway, despite my research it was hard to get any kind of description on Charlotte, and Peter seems to have no physical description at all. So i was forced to make one up. I hope they were to everyone's liking.

Let me know what you guys think. Remember.

Reviews are love.