A/N: Fifteenth chapter. This story feels like it's been going on forever...probably because it has been. It will be finished in, if not by, the summer.


It felt like I was complete after the kiss. No matter what we faced in the future, we would face it together. Edward and I, the two of us as one. I was on top of the world, blazing a bright path for myself, and nothing could stop me. Not even Victoria.

Which was the problem we faced.

Victoria had escaped and we had no idea where she went. Was she hiding out, tense and waiting to spring at us from the shadows? To me, it seemed she was everywhere: In the tense lines in Edward's face, in everyday thoughts, and no matter where I went, it was like she was watching us. Of course, Edward assured me that he couldn't hear her thoughts, so we were safe as we traveled back to the Cullens' house in Ithaca, New York.

None of us knew where she had gone after she escaped from Edward and I. Every time the subject came up, however, I stubbornly pushed back to the corners of my mind, telling myself I would deal with whatever would come later. But for me, later never came.

Furthermore, it scared me. Edward had this unhealthy "obsession" with hunting Victoria down. He said it was his duty to protect me and as long as she lived I was unsafe. The conversation came up as we had stopped to rest in a thick forest. Comfortable and peaceful, I leaned against Edward's strong chest as I traced circles on his palms.

"So," he started casually. I glanced up at him warily. He was too calm. His eyebrows rose into his hairline at my skeptical look. "What?"

I shook my head fiercely. "If this is about Victoria, then I don't want to hear it. Listen, Edward, we're fine. Alice would call you if she saw anything happening. Besides...if you haven't noticed, I'm a vampire now. You could easily call me indestructible. You're not the only Superman around."

He gave a resigned sigh. "Bella, I don't know what she's going to do. What if she went back to Laurent? What if she found a new coven? You never know with Victoria. When I was tracking her, it seemed she had a knack for avoiding trouble. It's almost as though that's her talent."

I hadn't heard him say this before. "A talent? Sort of like Alice's visions and your mind-reading?"

"Precisely. So, you see, it could be very dangerous."

I didn't say anything after that. The sun dipped below the horizon and cast luminous golds and oranges on everything in sight. I gasped in wonder and delight as my arm sent glittering diamonds in multiple directions. Sometimes being a vampire was truly amazing. I looked happily up at Edward to discover that he was gazing at me with awe in his topaz eyes. "You look lovely," he murmured as he pressed his lips against my skin. He was no longer cool to the touch; rather, he was the same body temperature. It felt natural.

No longer did I require sleep. It was pleasant to not be bothered by inconsequential things. However, I did need blood. It was one minor setback of being a vampire. As the thought crossed my mind, my throat flared up with a wild thirst. However, I didn't feel comfortable stating my dieting preferences to Edward. I made me feel ashamed. Taking a human life was so wrong and yet so necessary to me. I cleared my throat out of habit. His eyes were immediately drawn to my face. "Yes?" he questioned.

"Erm...I kind of need to hunt."

A realization dawned on him. It was like he was just recognizing me as a vampire in need of blood. "But of course. There's a herd of deer nearby; it'll be easy." Then he detected the hesitance in me. "What is it? Would you rather hunt elk? What about mountain lion? I'm sure would could find some. We'll get whatever you want."

I cast my gaze away from him, now looking at some very interesting tress. "You see...I don't hunt animals. I'm in my rebellious stage, per se." It wasn't possible I could have gotten any more embarrassed.

"Oh." That's simple word sent a wave a shame through me. Why couldn't I be like the Cullens? This was just one more reason I wasn't perfect. I bowed my head.

Soft fingers slipped under my chin and forced me to look at Edward. "Bella," he whispered with emotion, "it's okay. I know what it's like. Trust me. You could try it the vegetarian way, or stick with your way. Whichever you choose, I'm fine with it." In that moment I could've believed anything he said. I felt a million times better with his reassurance that I wasn't a bloodthirsty monster, and even more so that he wasn't bothered by it.

"Really?" I asked hopefully.

He smiled. "Really."

We ran through the forest side by side. The experience was so refreshing; it took my mind off the upcoming sin I was about to commit. Ever since I had been turned I had noticed all the little things in life that made the world beautiful.

In that time I decided I was going to try hunting vegetarian style. It was worth a shot.

I stopped abruptly in the middle of a clearing. The moist scent of the forest was making it hard to concentrate on an animal scent. "How do I do this exactly?"

A bemused smile played on Edward's lips. "I imagine you've been doing this for a while. Shouldn't you be experienced on this subject matter by now?" He smoothed out his face when he saw the humorless expression I was giving him. It was not funny at all! I was going to give this a legitimate try! "Well, close your eyes and let your instincts take over you." He shrugged. I did as I was told.

Then it hit me.

A hiker was nearby. His delicious smell blanketed my other senses. I felt Edward stiffen beside. My eyes opened, my nostrils flared, and my throat burned. Edward made a move to stop me but I darted out of his grasp, nimbly avoid an extra few seconds of torture by trying to escape from him; he hissed in frustration. "Bella!" he desperately cried as a last resort. I didn't respond, already breaking out into a sprint.

He roared and started to chase after me. No. Edward was too fast for me. "Listen to me, Bella! You're going to regret this!" Hands closed around one of my wrists and I spat in fury, writhing under his grasp, fighting with all I had. He was faster, yet I was stronger. Soon I had broken free, once again on the move.

The hiker was startled out of his mindless walking. "Lord, have mercy," he breathed, his heartbeat accelerating rapidly, and with that, his blood flow.

Blood. The word sent chills of pleasure down my spine. At least, the monster's.

I pounced.

"No!" Edward's voice rang loud and clear behind me. Something in my brain was trying to tell me this was a bad idea. What was it exactly? The rcih perfume was intoxicating me and I couldn't think straight.

Something ran into me like a bowling ball and I was thrown off the man whose wide, terrified eyes looked back up at me. I snarled, trying to break free of Edward's arms, now locked around me without the slightest hint of weakening this time. Again, I growled as I attempted to loosen myself, but to no avail.

"Edward," I said through clenched teeth, trying very hard to please the blood calling to me. The scent, however, was getting less and less prominent as the man ran away and I found that my mind became clearer and clearer with every step he took to increase the distance between us. My attempts became weaker while my guilt grew stronger.

A wail left my parted lips. "Get away from me! I'm a monster!" I shrieked at my one and only love, who just looked appalled that I would dare say such a thing.

"Bella, don't feel bad. I love you. This"--he gestured to the scene around us--"changes nothing. It is merely an incident in our unchanging lives that will fade into nothing more than a memory and cease to exist as an experience."

"I can't even control my own bloodlust. Doesn't that bother you?" I flinched as he brushed a stray lock of hair out of my crimson eyes.

"No."

I was shocked. "What? It doesn't bother you that your girlfriend"--I was unnerved at how brave I was for saying the word for the first time in months--"is a bloodsucking fiend that has no heart, no soul, no regret--"

Edward shook his head. "Bella, Bella, Bella. You do have regret, as you recently displayed. You have a soul. I may not, but I am absolutely certain that you do, Bella. And your heart is the biggest and purest and most magnificent I have ever come across in the ninety-some years of my life." He kissed me gently on the lips. "I love you. Don't ever fool yourself that I do not, for it is utter absurdity."

I snuggled into his strong arms. "So..." I started, running my hands through his perfectly soft hair that I so adored. "What happens now?"

He looked down at me with tenderness adorning his every feature. "Anything you want."

Our tinkling laughs were carried along the wind into the evening.


"So, what does happen now?" I asked as I lay on a grassy hilltop the next day. Edward and I had spent the rest of the night kissing and cuddling, and it was the best experience I had had since he had left. It made me feel complete and wonderful and everything a girl could possible feel when with her dream guy. Mike had no chance--ever--of competing with Edward. Nor did any of the other males that went to Forks High School.

Forks.

I missed that tiny little town that sat nestled in the rainy forests of the Olympic Peninsula. Everything that my life revolved around now happened there. Arizona had been good to me, but Forks had been better. And, if I had the chance, I would return. Except I couldn't because of my seemingly untamable craving for human blood.

Edward and I had decided we would work on it together. It helped the tiniest bit that Edward had experience of what it felt like to have no control. It was absolutely maddening.

Alice, meanwhile, had called Edward on his phone that he was currently answering. Every time he pulled it out, thought, there was a pang of remorse about breaking my own cell phone so generously donated to me from Alice.

Edward snapped his phone shut and stopped pacing for the umpteenth time that day. "Alice wants us to come home."

I sighed heavily. Ever since I had "collected" Edward, as Alice so gracefully put it, I hadn't brought him home to them (the Cullens) in Ithaca, New York. Apparently, that was part of the plan (the plan that I had supposedly known about and was following the whole time, according the psychic pixie by the name of Alice).

"And that was...how many times she's called today?" I asked with a wry grin.

Edward's forehead creased in deep thought. "I would take a guess that that was her...thirty-sixth call...this morning."

A low moan was heard--from both of us--as Edward's phone started buzzing in his pocket. "Make that thirty-seven," I corrected as he answered the call.

"Yes, Alice? I've told you thirty-six times, Bella and I will come back to good old New York whenever we feel like it. Right now, we obviously don't feel like it." He paused to listen to his sister's angry voice on the other line. "Victoria?" I could've sworn my face paled right then and there at the terrifying word coming out of Edward's mouth. "Right. I'll tell her." His voice was tense and that was when I knew something was wrong.

Just as he started to warn me, "Victoria's here," said person jumped out of a nearby tree. Her glowing red eyes matched my own as we started at each other in terse silence.

"I've come here to get Bella," she sneered in her high, bell-like voice at last.


A/N: I've been so stressed I literally think I've come close to crying a few times. I have a math "quest" and a French quiz tomorrow, to add to it. Plus, I don't get my science homework. Great. Sorry for the wait, but the last few months have been really stressful and I needed time to take a break and read rather than write. I hope you understand.

Reviews would help.

~etherealloveliness