Halloween. A day for ghosts, goblins, witches...vampires. It figured that Alice would make us go to a masquerade party; as if our existence wasn't otherworldly enough.
"Edward, come on. I've seen it; you'll have a great time!" She pouted, and then abruptly began reciting multiplication tables in her head.
"Alice..." I growled at her. "What's going on?"
"You'll see..." she smiled cheekily. I dreamed of wrapping my hands around her little pixie neck, but my reverie was broken by Jasper's growl.
"Give things a chance, Edward. And please, if you're going to have fantasies like that, do it while you're alone." Jasper was only half kidding.
"Sorry, Jazz. Okay, I'll go, but I'm pretty sure l won't have a good time," I sighed in defeat. When Alice made up her mind, there was no sense fighting it. Vampires could be so single minded and unrelenting...
"Where is this party?" I queried.
"At that new club Breaking Dawn! Because by the time they close, dawn is breaking over the horizon..." Alice chirped excitedly. She would get all hopped up over something like that. I hated the club scene, so overwhelming to our vampire senses, especially mine since I could hear the thoughts of those around me.
The night of the party came all too soon. I decided to dress as Zorro; Alice approved. She dressed as a fairy (big surprise there!) and Jasper as a swashbuckling pirate. Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie and Emmett got to miss all the fun since they were away on a hunting trip. How convenient.
We arrived at Breaking Dawn to find a long line snaking around the building. The cacophony of all the minds was deafening: women wondering if they would meet 'Prince Charming' and thinking snarky thoughts about the other females around them, men wondering if they could nail some 'Little Bo Peep' by the end of the night, the bouncers deciding who to hassle and who to let through... It was going to be a long night.
"Chill, Edward; I already told you it's going to be a good night...after a little hiccup." Alice glared at me balefully.
"Hiccup, Alice?" I rolled my eyes. "What's going to happen?"
"Can't tell you, but it will all work out. You hunted recently, right?" She sounded a little uncertain.
"Yes, Alice, I always do when I'm going to be in a crowd this size. Why do you ask?" I was wary now, but she just shook her head, fairy wings bobbing gently. She really did look cute—for an annoying pixie that is.
"And how are you faring in this crowd, Jazz?" I asked, smirking.
"I'm good right now. Everyone in line is feeling a sense of excitement and hopefulness. It's later on when people are drunk or feeling rejected...ask me how I'm faring then." Jasper grinned. With his empathic gift, the feelings of others often invaded his personal space.
Eventually, we reached the doors where the bouncers were looking everyone over carefully. I was hoping that they wouldn't admit me and I could just go home, but it was not to be.
"Alice! Where you been, girl?" the bouncer bellowed. Obviously, Alice was a regular. Great.
"Hey there, Gary! I've been around." She batted her eyelashes. "This is my brother, Edward and my fiance, Jasper." Alice swept her hand towards us.
"Nice to meet anyone with Alice. Enjoy your night, guys!" The bouncer nodded and unclipped the velvet rope to let us through. Damn.
We entered the dark, smoky club. Our enhanced vampire vision allowed us to see clearly through the miasma, but I wondered about the human population. To prove my point, I saw a girl on the other side of the room stumble, almost falling; she was dressed in an ice-blue princess costume.
"Oooh, Cinderella tripped!" Alice covered her mouth with her hand chuckling. I gave her a strange look, and she pictured an intimate moment with Jasper to repel me from reading her thoughts.
"Ewwww, TMI, Alice. That was just...ewww." I shook it off as best I could. I really didn't want to witness a family frolic, and I wasn't sure why she was doing it, but I was deterred from trying to find out.
We found a table in a remote corner and watched the crowd for a while; the dance floor was packed, the lights dim, colored strobes making all the costumed dancers look surreal. Then the peace was shattered by Alice insisting we get out on the floor. I shook my head, but she wasn't taking no for an answer. Rolling my eyes I finally agreed, and we worked our way through the sea of bodies. The alcohol had been flowing for a while, and most of the people dancing were pleasantly buzzed which made it easier for me to be out there.
"Oh, my God! He is HOT!" A blond whispered to her dark-haired friend, who blushed shyly.
"Lauren!" she admonished.
"Well, he is, Angela! I'm going to dance with him," Lauren announced, very sure of herself. I picked up on her thoughts which were directed at Angela. 'You're just jealous that he would never dance with you, Miss Shy and Boring.'
This annoyed me. Angela seemed like a truly nice person; she had a kind mind to listen to—unlike the snarky bleached blond, so I decided a lesson was in order. I smirked to myself; I might as well have a little bit of fun tonight.
"Excuse me. ladies," I cleared my throat, turning to Angela and Lauren. One blushed a deep red, while the other looked expectant and more than a little smug.
"Would you like to dance with me?" I addressed Angela, holding out my gloved hand.
"Sure, I'd love..." Lauren began, until she saw I was speaking to Angela. Her mouth dropped open; I could see it through Angela's eyes. Alice snorted with amusement, knowing what I was up to.
"Uh, me? S-sure," Angela stammered accepting my outstretched hand, while Lauren stood there, mouth opening and closing like a fish.
"You're going to catch flies, dear," Alice whispered to Lauren. I snickered and Lauren glared.
Angela and I moved off a ways, finding a pocket of space amongst the tightly pressed bodies.
'Oh, my God, I can't believe he picked me over Lauren! How did I get so lucky?' Angela thought to herself.
"Your friend is awfully sure of herself; I find that very unattractive," I answered her thought.
"How did you know what I was..." Angela began.
"I can read people pretty well; plus, it was written all over your face—and hers." I chuckled, and after a slight pause she joined in.
"I'm Edward, by the way," I introduced myself.
"Angela," she replied, blushing.
When the song was over, I thanked her for the dance and returned to Alice. Lauren was shooting us both dirty looks and thinking mean thoughts. Served her right.
"Edward Cullen, you should have dressed as a devil tonight!" Alice laughed. "If looks could kill..."
"Yeah, well, her head is a vile place to visit." I shivered.
"Aside from that, it was really nice of you to dance with that girl. I've just seen that you raised her confidence level enough that she is going to ask the guy she has a crush on to dance. He's been thinking she would never look his way, but now they'll get together. I love a happy ending!" Alice squealed in delight, clapping her hands together.
"Glad to make you happy, Tinker bell." I grinned.
I sat back down at the table for a while, just observing the ebb and flow of the crowd. At one point, I saw Angela head towards the guy Alice pointed out to me, and I scanned her mind quickly.
I'm just going to ask Ben to dance. If that sexy guy, Edward, wanted to dance with me instead of Lauren, maybe Ben will, too. What's the worst thing that could happen?
As she approached Ben, I scanned him. His heart rate increased exponentially the closer she came to him, and he looked down at his shoes shyly.
Oh. My. God. Here comes Angela! I wish she could be interested in a guy like me, she's so beautiful...
I tuned them out, smiling to myself as Angela reached him, not wanting to intrude. After a short conversation, Ben gently took Angela's hand and led her to the dance floor. The DJ chose that moment to slow things down, and I saw a deep blush creep into both of their faces. "Come on, all you couples! Out on the floor for a slooooooow dance," the DJ said in a low, sexy drawl.
Alice and Jasper headed out onto the floor, swaying together, their movements perfectly synchronized. I sighed to myself. Always, I had to watch my family together and I was the third wheel. Three nicely matched couples and...Edward. They never made me feel that way on purpose, but there it was just the same.
I decided to get some air, even though I had no physical need for it. All the happy couples; those just discovering each other, those who were hoping to connect...their thoughts combined just became too much for me. I headed out the side door into the alley where I leaned up against the wall. Breathing deeply of the cool night air, I could smell so many things that humans didn't. I picked up on a car burning oil, animals foraging in the dumpster for food, the tang of arousal from some of the couples making out just inside the door and the unwashed body of a homeless man shuffling by on the street. I kept rifling through the scents, naming them. It became a little game for me to play.
Suddenly, I smelled fear and right on it's heels the sweetest blood I have ever encountered. It pressed upon me in an almost physical way, as though I had been punched in the gut. My head snapped up, nostrils flaring, sniffing in the direction it was wafting from. Around the back of the club, deeper into the alley, I could hear a slight scuffling and what sounded like someone trying desperately to yell while their mouth was covered. No human ears could have picked this up, but my enhanced hearing heard it all and more. I could hear the rustle of fabric and heavy breathing—then the thoughts assaulted me.
Stupid bitch! Why won't she just stop fighting me? If she didn't want this, she shouldn't have thrown herself at me and then come outside hoping I would follow. Nobody can hear her anyway... She'll never be able to identify me because of the costume. I'll just knock her out when I'm done and leave her back here; serves the bitch right. Maybe someone else will want a turn.
With each lecherous thought from this Neanderthal, I grew angrier. The scent of the fear and blood had to be coming from the woman he was attacking. The sweet scent that weakened my knees couldn't possibly come from one as vile as him. I pressed my fist against my lips as venom pooled in my mouth, flowing down my scorched throat. I smelled human blood every day, but never in a century had I smelled anything so tempting. I wanted to drain every drop of that blood, slowly and sensuously, like the finest wine, savoring it as it rolled around on my tongue.
I had to get a hold of myself! I was angry at the thoughts from him, but what I was contemplating was just as awful! My head hung in shame. Then it occurred to me; she must be my singer! Her blood called to me; it was almost a physical pulling. Now, I understood why Emmett hadn't been able to control himself when he encountered his singer. He was still wracked with guilt over his mistake and sent anonymous donations to her family, even though everyone who knew her was long dead now.
Another feeling crept over me as I listened to their struggle. Protectiveness. Possessiveness. MINE! Mine, mine, mine! It was like a litany repeating over and over in my mind. He was touching what was MINE.
Pushing off the wall, I slipped around the corner of the building with vampire speed, standing before them silently. He was a gargantuan man, dressed as a wizard, his gloved hand pressed hard against her mouth. I could see the edges of the ice-blue princess dress, and I knew it was her—the one I had seen trip from across the room. That was when Alice had, again, hid her thoughts from me, so she must have seen this coming. Silently, I cursed the pixie for not warning me that I was about to meet my singer. Was she so sure I had that much self control?
There was a metallic sound as his zipper was pulled down, followed by a tearing as he started ripping the dress out of his way, still unaware of my presence in the dark. The sight brought out that protective impulse again, and a feral growl rumbled in my chest. Startled, he pushed back, banging her head against the concrete wall with a crack! in the process. The girl appeared to be dazed, barely conscious. My growl grew louder, deeper, angrier.
The fiend turned toward me and cowered, hands held up in self defense; being in such close proximity to an angry vampire usually brought out the survival instincts in most humans. They knew instinctively that we were something other, unnatural.
"H-h-ey. You can have her, man; I'll j-just be going." He started backing away from her.
What the hell IS he? Feels like being in the presence of an animal that might tear me apart...
"You aren't far off, Wizard," I bit out. His eyes widened in fear.
"B-but I didn't—" he stuttered.
"Didn't speak out loud—yes, I know. Well, you don't have to, Gordon. I see all; know all," I intoned. His eyes opened wider in shock at my use of his name. "She is mine."
"I'll just be going now; sorry. I didn't know she was yours—take her please," he offered, backing away.
Quicker than his eyes could register, my hard, cold hand flashed out against his chest, stopping him in his tracks. I furrowed my brow, then realized that I'd said, 'She is mine,' out loud.
Leaning into his face, our eyes met behind our respective masks. "Remember me, Gordon. I know who you are—what you are—you sick fuck. I'll be watching, and if you ever harm a hair on another woman's head, I'll be back for you. I'll make a meal of you," I whispered all of this to him, but he heard every word as though it blared from a bullhorn. I let him get a look at my razor sharp teeth. The smell of fresh urine hit my nose a moment later and I grinned as it trickled down Gordon's leg. "Go clean yourself up, you pathetic loser. Now get out of my sight before I change my mind."
Tossing him away from me across the alley, as though batting away a fly, I heard the snap as his left arm fractured. He opened his mouth to yelp, but I took a few strides in his direction. "Silence," I warned, putting a finger to my lips. He got up and ran, not looking back. Reading his thoughts, I had the feeling that he would never do anything like this again.
"Mmmmmmm...my head," the girl spoke quietly, and I turned to look at her fully for the first time.
She was breathtaking, but not in a traditional way. Her auburn hair cascaded in gentle waves down over her bare shoulders, she had delectably pouty red lips, pale creamy skin and expressive brown doe eyes. Looking into the pools of her eyes, I realized that she was silent to me; I couldn't hear her thoughts at all.
Confused, I said, "Are you okay?" listening carefully for the sound of her mind. Nothing.
"I - I am now. Thank you," she breathed, her mind still silent. The mystery of her silence was beginning to override my desire to drink her, to drain her dry.
She stepped away from the wall, rubbing the back of her head and straightening out her clothing. Stumbling, she lost her balance and, instinctively, I caught her to me. She fit right into my arms, leaning her head against my chest. Did she have no sense of self preservation? Being so close to me should have been repellent to her, but with a soft sigh she snuggled in even closer. I held her carefully, like the finest china, unsure what to do next. It was growing more difficult with her being this close to me; the blood lust reared its monstrous head. I pushed her away from me gently, setting her on her feet and stepping back.
She watched me carefully, her mind a complete mystery to my probing; had I been able to feel pain, I would have given myself a headache trying to read her. Amazing that in the same night I find the one person who sings so sweetly to me, yet is completely silent. When I thought about what that deviant was about to do to her, I clenched my jaw, getting angry all over again. Her eyes grew large as she studied my face.
"Y-your eyes... they just turned black. You look angry; have I done something?" She seemed concerned, but not scared. It boggled my mind.
I looked down at her in disbelief. She was the innocent here. Gordon did wrong; I did wrong. "I'm angry at the man who hurt you. I want to rip him to pieces," I growled. I was surprised how easily the truth just slipped out.
Before I knew what was happening, she stepped forward, coming within inches of me. Tentatively, she reached her delicate little hand up and touched my cheek. I gasped, feeling as though my marble skin was on fire. Unable to stop myself, I leaned into her touch—I had never felt anything so tender. I allowed my eyes to drift closed as I breathed in her heavenly scent.
Coming to my senses, I grasped her wrist, removing her hand from my face, missing it as soon as it was gone. "That's not a good idea."
"What's your name?" she asked, seemingly undisturbed by my words and actions. She looked up at me with those doe eyes and I fell under her spell.
"Bella. Nice to meet you." She smiled. "Uh, you're still holding my wrist, Edward." I let go of her wrist, quickly stepping back from her. Hearing my name fall from her lips did strange things to my insides.
"Bella," I said softly, not having meant to say it out loud. It felt like home; I almost felt warmth inside my cold, dead body. When I spoke her name, she shivered involuntarily, closing her eyes. It wasn't in a frightened way; it was almost intimate. Did she like the way I said her name? Did she feel the same thing I was feeling?
"What are you, Edward?" Bella asked quietly, looking up into my eyes. I drew back in shock.
"Zorro, at your service." I bowed to her, trying to keep it light.
"No, Edward." She shook her head slowly, her eyes never leaving mine. "What are you? I saw how fast you move; I heard you growl at him, saw you throw him away like a rag doll, saw your eyes change color. He pissed his pants for heaven's sake—and he was a lot bigger than you." She moved closer to me; I involuntarily stepped back.
Bella continued forward until I backed into the wall. With nowhere to go, I suddenly felt afraid of this frail human—as though she could lay bare all my secrets—that I wouldn't be able to stop myself from spilling them.
Bella reached up and touched my cheek again with her dainty hand. I felt helpless and weak, unsure what to do next. If my family could see me right now, I would never live this down. Being backed into a wall by a human female? Utterly ridiculous! Still, here I was, transfixed; unable to move—and finding myself not really wanting to.
"You smell like sugar cookies," she said with a smile, inhaling deeply. She ran her index finger along my lips gently, drawing a line of fire across marble.
"You don't want to do that, Bella. I'm a monster... you would be wise to step back from me," I warned.
She laughed—Laughed!—continued to rub her finger along my lips and said, "Oh, no; you're no monster, Edward. The guy you tossed out of here—he was a monster. Anyone who would save a stranger the way you just did, can only be good. But I still want to know what you are because you aren't human, are you?"
"No, I'm not human, Bella, but make no mistake—I am a monster—the most dangerous of predators."
Bella continued to shake her head, looking almost amused. She was so sure, but I had to make the little fool understand.
I grasped both of her wrists and walked her back against the wall, pinning them on either side of her body, gently but firmly. Looking down into her eyes, what I saw gazing back at me wasn't what I expected; there was no fear there, just a vague longing. Growling low in my throat, I decided she needed a scare, but it was me who was surprised. Bella exhaled, and the scent of her washed over me, rendering me completely immobile for a moment. Trying to shake it off, I leaned in, intending to do my best monster impression, but instead, my lips brushed hers. It felt like an electric current passed between us. Bella responded instantly, kissing me back. The instinct that she was mine suddenly prevalent, I deepened the kiss. Our lips moved together as though they were made for each other. My mind reeled, not sure what I thought I was doing, but I couldn't stop myself, even though alarms were going off in my head.
Letting go of her wrists, I tried to pull back. Immediately, her hands wound around my neck, and she pressed her body to mine. "Edward," she whispered, softly.
"Bella, please, I don't want to hurt you. You have to stop this." I was sure she could hear the strain evident in my voice.
"You won't hurt me, Edward." She sounded so certain. Pressing herself further into me, she reached up a bit more aggressively and touched her lips to mine. Lost, I was drowning in the sensation of her hot, cherry-red lips on my cool, marble ones. We moved together as though we had done this before—there was no awkwardness. The sparks flew; electricity humming anywhere our skin met.
Giving in, I pushed my hands deep into her mahogany hair, bunching it at the nape of her neck. I pulled her head back to gain better access to her lips. Eyes closed, I enjoyed the kiss, allowing myself to just feel for once. Our mouths glided together hungrily, and I felt her tongue lick along my bottom lip. I groaned and whispered her name, "Bella."
"Mmmmm, Edward." She nibbled at my bottom lip, and it was all that was needed for my instincts to kick into overdrive. I hardened my grip in her hair, my tongue darted out to meet hers and she opened her rosebud mouth to me. Eyes rolling back in my head in ecstasy, I was completely enamored. Our tongues caressed, dancing against each other. My cold, dead body was on fire and melting in a pool of molten liquid.
Bella moaned my name again, and I suddenly reared back looking deeply into her eyes. "You are mine," I stated possessively. I could hear Bella's breath catch, and she seemed the slightest bit scared now. Pulling back on her hair, I laid bare her neck, running my nose along her jaw, finally nestling it under her ear. She sighed as I laid cool kisses on her neck.
"Mine," I growled, unable to stop myself.
"Yours," she conceded.
Hearing Bella say she was mine was like an aphrodisiac. I continued kissing her neck, licking at her carotid artery, feeling her pulse under my tongue, tasting her salty skin. I could smell her arousal, and then her blood was suddenly too much for me. As I scraped my teeth along her carotid artery lightly, she moaned softly. Something overtook me, and I forgot how fragile she was, how thin the barrier was between her skin and her blood. I began to suckle on her neck, and then it happened—a ruby red drop of blood oozed to the surface of her skin. I flicked it with my tongue. The taste! Like nothing I had ever experienced or fantasized about.
The predator in me taking over, I bared my teeth and was about to latch on to her neck. "Oh, Edward." Her soft moan brought me out of the trance I was in, and I lifted my head in horror. I was about to bite her, end her life! I was the worst kind of monster.
"Edward, no!" I heard the scuffle of feet, and then Alice was in front of me, Jasper right behind her. I immediately felt a blanket of calm from Jasper envelope me.
"Let her go, Edward," Alice coaxed.
I hugged Bella to my chest. "No. She's mine."
"Yes, she is, but not this way, Edward. Please; I've seen it. She's your mate, your other half."
"But she's human," Jasper said with distaste.
"Be that as it may, I've seen it. She's Edward's mate," Alice stated with certainty.
Bella's head was again on my chest, and she seemed eerily calm. "Aren't you afraid, Bella?" I asked her softly.
"No. She's right; I can feel it. I belong with you, to you." Raising her head, she looked deeply into my eyes.
"Alice, get her out of here before I hurt her, please," I begged, pushing Bella away.
"No! Don't you feel it, Edward? Tell me you do!" Bella cried grabbing my cloak in her fists.
"Yes, love, I feel it. But..." I began, but was unable to finish. Alice took over.
"Bella, sweetie, there's a lot you don't understand. He just isn't ready for you—not yet. He will be though; I promise." Her bell chime voice filled with sincerity lulled Bella, and she allowed Alice to lead her a few feet away.
"Let me take you home now, before this gets worse for him. It's painful for him to be near you right now, to smell your scent," Alice explained gently.
"Vampire," Bella whispered, understanding dawning.
I turned away in shame, unable to stand knowing she would now look at me like the monster that I was. After a moment I felt a light tugging on my sleeve and a delicate little hand reached up to my cheek. Shocked, I looked down into her eyes, and what I saw there was acceptance.
"Edward, I don't care what you are; I care who you are. Please don't turn away from me, from us," she implored.
"Bella, are you sure about this? If it's your wish, I will never darken your doorstep again." It caused me an almost physical pain to say this, but I meant it.
"No; promise me you won't do that. If you need time, I'll give you that, but I need to see you again." Tears stood in her eyes; one spilled over, rolling down her cheek. I kissed it away gently, reveling in the salty taste on my tongue.
"I promise, Bella. If you want me, I'm yours."
"Yes, Edward, I want that very much." She went up on tiptoe and kissed my lips one last time, and then allowed Alice to lead her down the alley where they exchanged information so we could contact each other.
Turning one last time before disappearing into the night, Bella whispered, "I'll be waiting for you, Edward Cullen."
"Not as long as I've waited for you, Bella Swan," I whispered.