Darkward Vampfic Contest

Title: Born Like This

Penname: SavageWoman

Beta: pochacco906

Disclaimer: We all know who owns it! Unfortunately, it is not me. However, I do own this story and the four assholes.


Bella POV

Fear clawed across my skin leaving me cold and clammy in its wake. The harsh tinkling of glass resounded as a bottle skidded across the pavement sent my pulse rate skyrocketing as I nervously glanced behind me. The heavy darkness of the night sky seemed to weigh down on the dirty buildings spiraling upward in the inky blackness. Pulling my coat closer around me in an attempt to shield myself from the chilly wind's bite, everything around me took on a sinister aura.

"Get a hold of yourself, Bella. It's only three more blocks," I mumbled to myself.

Three, that's all I needed. I quickened my pace while trying to keep my panic down. Most nights were a little scary as I walked home from my job and not just because it was well past midnight. But tonight seemed to have a sense of foreboding, as if a demon from hell was watching, waiting…

As I passed the entrance to a dark alley, the shadows seemed to move, as if detaching themselves from the walls to roam free, spreading their darkness as they went. I shook my head in frustration at my overactive imagination and hurried past.

After pulling my knit cap further down to cover my ears, the unmistakable sound of footsteps echoed in my head. Their pace was casual and yet faster than mine. I nonchalantly looked over my shoulder and felt my heart jump at seeing the outlines of two large men following me.

As they passed through the dingy yellow light of a neon sign, one of the men leered at me, baring his teeth in an ugly smile. While his black greasy hair hung stringy around his shoulders, his partner's head was shaved clean save for the thin flesh colored strip of hair that ran from his forehead to his neck. Both wore clothes that had seen better days and too few washings. I quickly turned around, urging my legs to go faster. I hoped my clumsy nature would give me a break, just this once.

No such luck.

"Shit!" I cursed under my breath as I caught the toe of my shoe on the edge of a piece of uplifted concrete. I stumbled forward but didn't fall, thankfully. As I lifted my head to plow forward and put some distance between me and the slimy men behind me, two more men stepped out of the shadows at the entrance of a dark alley just shy of my apartment.

My heart jumped into my throat, throbbing painfully. I had been herded by the hounds to the hunters as I found myself surrounded, blocked with nowhere to go except for the depths of the dark alley to my right. Living just a half block away, I knew it was a dead end with me deceased at the end of this encounter.

The other two men chuckled at the apparent ease of their methods to entrap me and back me down the alley. My eyes hastily darted around trying to find a way out. I licked my dry lips nervously instantly regretting the move as I watched a stocky man grin in anticipation staring at my mouth.

There was no way that was going to touch me, so I decided to make a stand. Stupid, I know, but I didn't have many alternatives. I certainly wasn't going to hand it over on a silver platter. When I stopped my backward progression, their footsteps stuttered for a moment. That's when I decided to make my move, when they weren't sure what I was doing.

The gap between the stocky man and his lanky pock-faced friend was wider than that of the others, so I made a break for it.

"Grab her!" someone ordered as I darted between them.

Relief and a sense of hope flickered as I passed in between the men before they had time to react. Just as I was about to burst out of the alley onto the sidewalk, a large meaty hand clamped down on my shoulder, pulling me back.

"Nooommph!" I tried to scream as the other meaty hand clamped down over my mouth. I struggled, contorting my body in desperation as I tried to break free of the hold of my captor.

"Feisty. Even better," he mocked in my ear as he forcibly jerked me back down the alley.

"I love it when they fight," sneered the man with the mohawk.

Not ready to give up yet, I bit down into his flesh with all my might, breaking his skin.

"Fuck!" he spat as he released me. Momentarily stunned at finding myself free of his grasp, I didn't have time to react.

"You fucking whore!" he yelled as he backhanded me across the cheek with a loud crack sending me reeling to the ground. Pain shot through the side of my head from the impact. Before I could get a sense of my bearings, a different set of hands grabbed my upper arms from behind while another punched me in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me – rending me unable to fight or scream as I gasped for air.

Following the stocky man, the two assholes who followed me in the first place hauled me further into the alley. Panic took over, further acerbating my already breathless state. Black spots started to appear in my vision and I felt my consciousness slipping. My back came in contact with something hard, and I found myself up against the wall, held prisoner by the same two assholes that dragged me here.

"Just for that, I'm going to make this really hurt," the stocky one growl in my ear as his hot breath oozed across my cheek making my stomach lurch in protest of the rancid smell. He reeked of body odor, stale beer, and cheap cologne. He grabbed the lapels of my coat, pulled me forward a bit before slamming my already limp body against the sharp brick walls of the alley. My knit cap offered some protection from the blow, but the brick still managed to scratch the back of my head.

The small whimper that escaped my lips seemed to excite him further and his lips curled into a sickening smile with a promise of vast amounts of cruelty. He tensed to make a move but stopped as something big and black flew past us, splintering a stack of wooden pallets, and slamming into the wall behind it.

Instinctively all of us ducked for cover from the flying debris. Seemingly stunned by the strange turn of events, my two captors didn't realize I was free as they fixated on what looked like a body sprawled in the middle of the broken pallets.

I slowly inched my way toward the entrance of the alley, hoping my retreat would go unnoticed. All was going well until my foot hit a piece of metal causing it to scrape, the narrow alleyway amplifying the noise.

"Where do you think you're going?" the man with the mohawk sneered as he grabbed my arm, pulling me flush against his body, his stench rolling off him in waves.

I coughed back a dry heave as I turned my head away from his face. I clenched my jaw in response to my failed attempt to escape, willing the threatening sob in my throat to go away. These men seemed to feed off fear and I needed to get mine under control if I wanted any hope of getting out of this in one piece.

"Jack! Get your ass over there and check that out. I've got to teach this bitch a lesson," the stocky man barked at the man with the greasy hair.

Jack scurried off as the stocky man approached. As he drew near me, the atmosphere in the alley changed. Every hair on my head felt as if it were standing on end, straining against the confines of my skin. A cold sweat broke out across my upper lip and gooseflesh spread across my arms and legs. If I thought I was in danger before, it was nothing compared to the menacing feeling emanating from the entrance of the alley.

The stocky man stopped his progression toward me as we all stiffened in unconscious alarm.

I felt a presence long before I saw what it was and every fiber of my being screamed for me to run. As my fight or flight instinct started to take hold, I let out a startled scream that was quickly muffled by man with the mohawk.

"Don't even think about biting me or I promise you'll regret it, bitch," he threatened in my ear pulling me tight against his body and grinding his erection into my back.

I shuttered in disgust and horror at what lay ahead of me this night.

"Hey! Asshole, who is it?" the stocky man bellowed at Jack.

"I think it's Craig. He's… he's dead!"

"What?" The stocky man strode over to inspect the body.

"What the fuck? It looks like his throat's cut, but there's no fucking blood. It's like he's been bled dry." Once again, the narrow walls of the alley amplified the sound, making Jack's words clear.

"Let's get the fuck out of here!" The stocky man turned on his heel and started to hurry away from the dead body at the end of the alley.

"What about her?" My captor thrust me forward.

"Who gives a flying fuck!" the stocky man growled. "Leave her."

The sudden gust of wind that blew past us was the only warning we had before he appeared out of thin air. Before I knew what was happening, I was freed once more as my captor flew up against the wall I had previously occupied. His body slid down the wall and slumped unconscious against the grungy pavement.

"How did you do that?" Jack gapped at me in astonishment. I just stared back at him in surprise. Did he honestly think I launched a fully-grown adult male into the air like that? Jack seemed to snap out of it rather quickly as he wrapped his hand around my throat slammed me up against the wall next to his unconscious accomplice.

A feral snarl filled the air just as the stocky man's body made contact with the wall on the opposite side of where we stood.

"Release her," a smooth low voice growled.

In that moment, all I could think was how sexy he sounded. Anyone else would be frightened of the situation, or feel relief at hearing those words. But not me. No, I, Bella Swan, thought this growling voice sounded sexy. Maybe my mind was refusing to come to grips with the horrific reality in front of me and had decided to take a dive off the proverbial cliff of insanity.

"Back off, asshole!" Jack spat as he pulled me in front of him as a shield.

I looked up and came face to face with the most dangerous man I'd ever beheld, and yet, I didn't fear him, at least not in the way the man behind me feared him. Before I could study him further, I saw the flash of light against metal. As quickly as it appeared, it disappeared followed by the sound of clanging steel on the ground.

As I tried to ascertain what was happening, I realized that the newcomer was no longer in front of me. In the blink of an eye, he was standing next to me and had his hand wrapped around the throat of my captor.

I shook my head a little to wrap my thoughts around what was happening. Maybe that hit to my head was a little harder than I thought. I watched with rapt fascination while this beautiful man used one hand to hurl the last captor across the alley from me. Unable to tear my eyes away, I wasn't aware I was gapping at him until his voice broke my trance.

"What's your name?" His voice caressed my ears, causing a thrill of dangerous excitement to ripple across my skin.

"B-Bel-la," I stuttered like an idiot, unable to control my tongue.

"Bella," he purred as he stepped closer.

I automatically stepped back as he advanced. Soon enough I found myself against the wall again, but this time it wasn't clear what kind of threat I was facing. The mixed signals raging through my body overwhelmed me.

"W-What are you?" I croaked out, desperately trying to hold my own with this gorgeous, menacing man.

Edward POV

Bella… Enjoying the sound of her name as it rolled off my lips, her query about my nature took me by surprise. I froze upon hearing that question, and in the dim light of the alley, I could see the awestruck look on her face.

What am I indeed.

I am what nightmares are made of. I am what goes bump in the dark, a creature of the night. I am the shiver of terror that runs up your spine and whispers in your ear to run for your life. I gave her a black scowl, causing her to shrink back. I expected her to scurry away like a frightened animal.

I waited for the rush of her unimaginative thoughts of what kind of man I was. Unexpectedly, I found nothing but a resounding silence. A part of me wanted to sigh in relief at finally finding a mind that didn't constantly bombard me with the vapid details of a human life. The other part of me found it unnerving. Having spent almost ninety years hearing the thoughts of everyone around me, I found the silence of her mind to be unsettling.

She stared at me with wide eyes, but didn't back down - not what I'd expected. Most humans instinctively backed away, their sense of self-preservation warning them of the danger. Enthralled, I watched as she bit her lower lip, her brow furrowing as she contemplated something.

"What's your name?" she whispered, her eyes still wide. When I didn't answer right away, she raised one eyebrow in a subtle challenge.

I smirked at her foolishness. Alright, little one. Let's see if you can handle it.

With the taste of my last kill still fresh in my mouth, I matched her look before giving her a wry smile. She really had no idea who or what she was dealing with. I resumed my slow advance on her position and was pleased to see she at least still had the wherewithal to back away. Not that she stood a chance.

"Edward," I revealed, but nothing more. I had no need for a last name. The life of a vampire was a solitary one. We took what we needed when we wanted. I had yet to meet a creature who could make a stand against a vampire and come out alive if the vampire wished it otherwise.

Besides, we had no children or families to pass on a family name to. In all my years, I'd met only one vampire who adhered to the human custom of surnames – my creator Carlisle, or Carlisle Cullen to be exact. After I left my creator, I used his last name for a time, but eventually abandoned it because I was no longer a member of his 'family.'

My smile widened when her back came in contact with the wall. She had nowhere left to go and didn't stand a chance against my speed and strength, not to mention my other skills. I continued my advance until I was almost pressed up against her, leaving a few inches of space in between us. If I said I wasn't enjoying toying with her, I'd be lying.

Up close she was quite lovely. Her dark brown eyes were flecked with gold and a hint of promise to yield up the secrets of her taciturn mind. I stared at her full lips, my own mouth begging to plunder her depths.

I inched closer to her face, turning on the 'vampire charm.' Everything about me invited her in, hypnotized her, and drew her into my web of deceit until it was too late. The human race considered themselves the top of the food chain. But those who fell victim to my kind, knew in the last moments of their lives the error of their ways. I was the ultimate predator and she was the object of my hunger.

She let out a small gasp and I chuckled lightly, recognizing that even if her mind was immune to my abilities, her body was not. I trapped her with the intensity of my stare. It was then that I used the next weapon in my arsenal. I gently blew my breath across her face.

The effects were almost immediate. Her heart fluttered, her lips parted, her knees shook, and she inhaled deeply. When her eyes dilated, it signaled that she was lost, completely under my power and my throat burst into flames while my mouth filled with venom at the thought.

A light breeze fluttered past, lifting the strands of her soft mahogany hair spilling out from underneath her knit hat. My body tensed as the full power of her scent slammed into me with the force of a wrecking ball. I almost cried at the pleasure it brought me. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, reveling in the aroma. Another rush of venom filled my mouth and the predator smiled. The smell of her blood as it ran through her body, glowing and pulsating under her gossamer skin, overpowered the reeking odor in this crevice of the city. I opened my eyes and gave her a crooked smile.

Her heart beat thundered and I caught a tantalizing whiff of her arousal. The male in me rejoiced that she was responding so well to my enticements. Pushing for more, I placed my hands on the wall behind her with a hand on either side of her head, effectively trapping her.

A feeling of excitement started to grow in my lower abdomen. I held her gaze as I slowly leaned my face into hers. When her eyes closed, I grinned. But before I tasted her luscious mouth, I wanted to bath my senses in her smell. So I lowered my head to the side of her face and let my nose skim her jaw line back to her ear, inhaling as I went. A shudder swept through her body, but she never pulled away leading me to believe she enjoyed this intimate gesture.

Wanting more, I dropped my hand down her neck and tugged the collar of her coat aside as I followed the blissful trails of blood throbbing under the skin of her neck – her jugular. My body yearned for it.

"Thank-you for saving me, Edward." The sound of her breathless whisper caused me to pause.

I gave her a dark laugh. "Who said anything about saving you?" I purred.

Her response was not what I expected. The subtle threat was there. She felt fear; I was sure. I could smell it, but over-powering the fear was her excitement. Didn't her body register the danger of her predicament?

When my nose finally reached the desired spot on her neck, I finally gave into the urge to taste her skin. As soon as my cold lips came in contact with the hot flesh of her neck, there was an instant where I felt a jolt and something changed inside me, forging a connection with this human, this woman.

A low moan vibrated in her throat and my eyes nearly rolled into the back of my head in response to the pleasure that simple sound gave me. She gripped my arms – either in a feeble attempt to hold on to me or hold herself up.

Checking to be sure that my control was firmly in place, I parted my lips and flicked my tongue out to sample her smooth skin. The tantalizing heat of her body spread through mine, warming it slightly.

She gasped when she felt my tongue slide across her neck and gripped my arms even tighter while her heart crashed against her chest.

A warm blush spread across her skin. I growled in response, her flesh ripe with the taste of her blood, causing my resolve to slip. I pulled my other hand away from the wall and gripped the other side of her neck, bringing her closer still. As our connection deepened, an electrical current pulsed through me and suddenly I felt every cell in her body sing for me.

She was mine! Mine to claim, body and soul. Mine to possess.

While venom flowed down the back of my parched throat, her scent twisted around in my head and screwed with my mind. Her blood was just millimeters away from my mouth overpowering my will, and I felt my control slip even further. A low growl rumbled in my throat.

"Just one taste," I justified out loud to myself.

I felt the nod of her head giving me permission to do just that. A warm shiver rushed through her body, and I knew then her thoughts of tasting were of a carnal nature. The prospect of taking her as a lover was intoxicating.

I pulled my lips back to expose my teeth to her skin. I just needed a taste and I would be sure to refrain from forcing my venom into the wound. I could stop before I killed her… I could stop… I would stop… I wanted to take my time with this one. The animal in me didn't like the idea of stopping whereas the man in me did.

I was so wrapped up in my anticipation, I completely missed the awaking minds of the three men I'd incapacitated earlier. The impact of the blow to my back barely registered, but the crack that echoed off the walls of the alley left little doubt as to their presence.

Their sickening stench tainted the air as did their malicious thoughts and I stilled my movements. I slowly pulled away from Bella and straightened to my full height.

"Hey, motherfucker. It's time you learned who you're dealing with!" The voice belonged to the stocky man, matching the gruffness of his thoughts - Ted. His name came to me in the thoughts of one of his companions.

"You took something of ours and we want it back," Jack's voice sneered as his mind flashed with images of Bella. My anger rose and my expression turned hard. I started planning the ways in which these men would pay. Coming between a vampire and the object of his desire was not a wise choice. Clearly these men were imbeciles.

A twisted smile spread across my face, fully baring my teeth as I contemplated ripping 'Ted' limb from limb, while impaling the freak with the mohawk. But I had a special place in my cold black heart for Jack. He would pay the most.

Bella's heart startled, a sound I recognized as fear. I looked at her face and saw confusion. Her breathing was rapid, her hands tightly clenched into tiny fists. But this look was not the same one she wore in her confrontation with these men earlier. This reaction was to me.

I slowly turned to face the three soon-to-be-dead men, my face full of malevolence as I placed myself in front of Bella. I stood still, like only a vampire could and waited for them to make their move.

Her life was mine to take, not theirs.

Jack trained his eyes on Bella and ogled her in a filthy way, his thoughts full of the violent acts he intended to perform on her. He turned and sneered at me as the other two men took a step forward, raising their weapons. Their continued thoughts enraged the beast in me that desired her for more than just her blood and I let out a deafening roar. Bella instinctively covered her ears.

My impatience to deal with these men once and for all got the better of me as I began my assault at vampire speed. I rushed past Ted, tossing Jack and the freak aside. Before they even hit the ground, I appeared in front of Ted and snapped his neck like a toothpick, the sharp crack hung in the air. Without a second thought, the need to take his life-giving essence overwhelmed me, and with a growl, I suck my teeth into his flesh, sucking the blood from his body.

The hot liquid slid down my throat, soothing the burn and sating my thirst. Even as I drank from this man, enjoying the taste of his vital fluid, I knew there was one whose blood would put all others to shame. Part of me wanted nothing more than to turn around and do the same thing to the woman behind me, and these fucking humans were getting the way of that.

When I'd pulled the last drop from him, I released his lifeless body, threw back my head, and let out a feral snarl.

I was at war with the men around me, at war with the intoxicating blood behind me and at war with myself as I tried to resist my fascination with her. Was the strange pull she had on me something more than just a desire to drink her blood? Recalling the connection that was made when I touched her skin and I knew… I would never leave her.

Barely aware of the dead body landing with a thud at my feet, all my thoughts turned to Bella – the part that wanted to kill her now and the part that wanted to save her for later. Her sharp intake of air made me realize what she'd just witnessed me do.

Now she knows what she's dealing with.

I tried to relax, but the part of me that was ready for a fight did not want to relinquish control. Checking to see that the other two men were still dazed, I turned to face her. She met my eyes briefly, her face full of confusion, before she fixated on my lips. Aware that they were wet with blood, I slowly licked them clean before giving her a mocking smile. There was no hiding it now. I was a demon, a soulless creature that killed humans for blood. Anything about me that invited her in was gone now as I watched her face, waiting for her reaction.

Frozen with fear, she stared at me in horror. I slowly stepped closer to her. As I neared her, the smell of her anxiety filled the air and I knew she was finally ready to have the reaction she should have had when she first saw me.

But she knows too much. She knows what you are. Yours for the taking… She can't live with that knowledge. Drain her…

I could feel my thoughts growing wild at the prospect of draining her body of her sweet nectar to eliminate the danger of the knowledge that she possessed. In full predator mode, I knew my smile was menacing as I circled her. My mind battled against itself, against instinct and I fought for control.

The need to touch her skin again won out. Wrapping one arm around her waist, I pulled her flush against the hard length of my body. Even with her coat on, I felt her heat burn through me.

She swallowed hard before shivering involuntarily, and I smirked at the way I could effect her even in the midst of her fear of me.

My mind closed around the rapid beating of her heart and the incredible blush under her skin. Her blood was so close. I brought my free hand up and gently pressed my palm against the side of her jaw, splaying out my fingers and covering half of her face. I slowly pushed her head to the side, extending and exposing her neck to me, drawing her flesh taut. Her skin palpitated with the rapid beating of her heart. I lowered my nose to her neck again and inhaled deeply. Even though I'd just fed, my throat felt raw with thirst. I needed to taste her.

"Mm. Bella. Beautiful." My voice vibrated against her skin as I resumed skimming my nose down her neck. Her warmth was the most pleasant sensation and I ran my hand up her neck, pushing her head back again. I followed the path of my hand with my nose as I massaged her skin and blood upward,.

I pulled back and released her head so she could look into my eyes. This time my expression invited her in again. And yet, I started to feel as though I was the prey when her warm brown eyes captured mine.

"May I have that taste now?" As I asked the question again, I stared into her eyes and watched as she studied me, her mind working through everything she'd witnessed at my hands. My anticipation fed my impatience for her blood and I started to lower my head to her neck.

"Are you born like this?" Her sudden outburst stopped me cold in my tracks. It awakened a part of me that I thought was long dead. I was human once, born of a flesh and blood woman just like her. The last of my fuzzy human memories of my life before my eternal night flashed through my mind with a painful clarity.

Had I still been human, the inner turmoil I faced as I struggled to leave her alive would never exist. The thought of killing someone, a woman, would have never been a part of the man I should have become.

As tantalizing as her blood smelled, she was still an innocent. It was how I justified my existence, by feeding on the evil dregs of society – one monster feeding on another. And by doing this, my twisted logic exonerated itself with the knowledge that I was doing humans a vigilante-like service.

I never fed on innocents, but the presence of her aroma in the alley overwhelmed me allowing the monster within to take over. The only reason I hadn't killed her was because the dark creature in me wanted to prolong my time with her appealing bouquet. I didn't want to waste this precious gift by going too fast, but instead to savor… every… last… drop…

It angered me, my jaw tensing and my body stiffening in response. I could no longer look into her eyes. I struggled with the silent battle within me. I was no longer made of flesh and blood. Surely any humanity I once held was dead and buried. And yet, I wanted this human woman in ways that had nothing to do with food. I just wanted her. The vampire in me grew angry with her for having this control over me, for making me want her, for usurping my ability to know which path was the right one.

While I waged my quiet battle, she gazed at my face, studying, watching. The head lights of a car pulling out of the alley across the street flashed across my face, illuminating my features. I watched her face as, for the first time, she got a good look at me. Her eyes lit up and I felt hope until she spied my crimson irises.

It only took a split second for her mind to recognize the warning. I knew the look well. Her mind screamed for her to run. She may still have a few lingering doubts as to the specifics of what I was, but now it was obvious that she knew she was in danger.

Her sharp inhale of breath, her racing heart, and the contraction of her pupils told me everything I needed to know. And yet, she still didn't run. I narrowed my eyes. My decision was made. The only question was, would the predator in me go along with it.

At the same time, I caught the thoughts of the two remaining assholes in the alley as they attempted to sneak up on me. The crunching of broken glass told me exactly where they were positioned. It was time for Bella to leave so I could deal with these men once and for all.

With great restraint, I slowly leaned into her ear, causing her heart to jump. My ire started to boil over – anger at the men behind me, anger at Bella for finally fearing me when I didn't want her to, anger at the denial of her blood, anger at her inability to see danger staring her in the face. I felt the predator feeding off the rage, becoming stronger. I could turn all of these emotions on the men preparing to attack and let it all out. But if she remained, I feared she would become a victim of collateral damage.

"My beautiful Bella…run." I tried to make my voice as calm as possible, but the sudden snarl that exploded out of my chest negated the entire effort.

She gaped at me in shock, but still refused to move. I shook my head in frustration.

"Run!" I growled forcibly this time as I felt my eyes darken. I gripped my hair, agitated that I had to plead for her to obey me.

A sob rose up in her throat as she took in the menacing sneer on my face. She quickly turned and ran for the entrance of the alley. I knew I'd see her again. I had found my mate in a human woman and nothing would keep me from her.

Jack's voice called me out of my daze and my sneer grew wider with my need to kill. At vampire speed, I drove the freak's metal rod, his own makeshift weapon, through his skull, killing him instantly. The crunching of bones was the only warning Jack received before I was on top of him, wrapping the chain he wielded around his neck. "There's a special place in hell for you, Jack." His agonized screams filled the night as I slowly tore off his arms. Unable to resist the flow of fresh blood, I feasted off him before dumping all four bodies in a nearby dumpster.

I took a breath, waiting for my blood lust to calm before I went in search of her. I could not deny the way she held me. In all my years, I never thought I'd need someone. But a human? The possibilities started to take shape – being with her as a human would be incredible, having her warmth wrapped around me, rejoicing in her aroma as we made love, exploring every inch of her warm body, burying myself in her, and exploring her silent mind.

And as appealing as that was, even more so was the prospect of how she'd be once I turned her. There was no question that she would be mine. I marveled at the prospect of being with her forever, at running with her side-by-side at vampire speed, feeding together, and enjoying each other on a primal level.

No longer able to stay away, I inhaled the air and detected her scent, following her trail of breadcrumbs, as it were.

I knew she was close. Her heart was a flutter in her haste to escape the alley and I could hear the clink of keys hitting the ground, being picked up and forcibly ground into a lock. I rounded the corner and caught a glimpse of her as she stumbled through a door, slamming it behind her.

Bell POV

Stumbling as I rounded the corner to the entrance of the alley. I barely got my hands out in time to break my fall. My hands came in contact with the grimy cold hardness of the concrete sidewalk. Barely aware of my stinging palms, I scrambled up and bolted to the front of my six-story walk-up.

I sprinted up the five steps to the old wooden door set with an oval pane of glass. The adrenaline coursing through my veins washed through my muscles, leaving them weak and spent.

Almost there!

Concentrating on getting into the building, my vision narrowed and I lost track of my surroundings. My hands shook so badly, I dropped my keys three times trying to find the one that would grant me access to my safe haven.

Finding the right key, I gripped it with both hands and jammed it into the doorknob. Turning the key to the left, I pushed the door open and stumbled into the tiny foyer of the building which consisted of nothing but mailboxes set into the wall, a staircase and the super's door. I slammed the door to the building with more force than necessary, causing the glass to quiver. I breathed out a sigh of relief. I was safe. And yet I knew I wasn't really.

I inched closer to the door to see if anyone followed. Was my avenging angel waiting just outside? Did he see my flight to safety? I peered out through the glass smudged with dirt and fingerprints, but saw nothing – just the cynical outline of the city laughing back as if to say, "You don't belong here."

I shook it off and released the breath I was holding. I turned and bent down to pick up my knit hat that must have fallen off in my haste to get inside. As I straightened up and started for the stairs, I glanced at the window in the door. I let out a startled scream and fell against the newel post at the bottom of the wooden staircase of the walk-up.

Edward was there with the palm of his hand pressed against the glass, his bright crimson eyes burning a hole through the window as he stared at me with a wild intensity. I found myself unable to look away from his magnificence. His bronze hair swirled around his head in an angry halo and his skin glowed like polished alabaster.

My eyes were instantly drawn to the spot of blood slowly dripping from the corner of his mouth. Completely mesmerized, I watched his lips part and his tongue slip out, slowly lapping up the stray drop of blood.

I gasped as unadulterated lust shot through my body. This man, this avenging angel, this demon was the most ethereal creature I'd ever seen.

I wanted him.

My face reddened with my blush at the thought of his hands and tongue exploring my body, of him pulsating inside me as I screamed his name.

He cocked his head slightly as his brow frowned in a curious manner before easing into a small crooked smile that formed on his full lips. A low growl seemed to vibrate the glass as he looked at me though hooded eyes.

The skin of my neck burned as if recalling the cellular memory of his touch. I closed my eyes trying to quell the strange feelings raging through my body, telling myself that everything that happened tonight was nothing but a vision, a figment. But just as quickly, I opened them because my mind rebelled at not seeing him.

He was gone!

Before I could stop myself, my legs propelled me back to the door, searching the street outside. Was he real or an apparition tormenting my mind in my moment of stress? I pressed my palm against the cold glass where his hand had been. Where did he go? If I could just see him again. I felt an almost involuntary pull to this being and I needed to find him.

The blaring horn of a passing taxi brought me out of my hypnotic trance and I looked down to see my hand on the handle of the door.

What am I doing?

I released the knob and stepped away as if to retreat from a burning flame, glad my sense of self-preservation kicked in at the last moment. Whether he was flesh and blood, a dream, or a nightmare, it didn't matter and I mentally chastised myself. Opening the door would be suicide as my mind flooded with images of what I'd witnessed in the alley just moments before. I quickly retreated up the stairs, never taking my eyes off the door until it was out of sight.

My skittish nerves had me looking behind me every few steps and pausing every so often to listen for the footfalls of a potential pursuer. When I finally reached the fourth floor, I felt a sense of relief. I quickly opened the door to my two-bedroom apartment and slipped inside, securing the three dead bolts.

Only then did I allow myself to relax, my knees giving out. I slid down the door as a broken sob escaped my throat. I slumped over onto my side letting the terror and anguish of the attack and my confusing rescue overtake me for a few moments. I let it out as if to purge my body of its poison.

After gaining tentative control over my emotions, I hoisted my body off the floor, turned on all the lights, and made my way into the bathroom. Peering into the slightly tarnished mirror of my medicine cabinet over the sink, I took in my haggard appearance. My brown eyes were tired and red from crying and the welt on my cheek stung a bit. My wavy shoulder-length hair twisted in a haphazard mess of brown haze around my pale face. I licked my dry quivering lips and took a deep breath to calm myself.

I went to the kitchen to grab a glass of wine needing the calming effects of a little liquid courage. I returned to the bathroom, lit a few candles, dimmed the lights, and filled my antique claw tub with hot water.

I let out a groan of pleasure when I let my naked body slip into the tub. The almost too hot water coaxed my tense muscles into releasing their knots of stress. I slipped my head under the water in an attempt to wash the last of tonight's violent encounter from my skin.

Taking a deep breath as I resurfaced, I pushed my hair back from my face, leaned my head back against the tub, and closed my eyes. Images of the attack flooded my mind, but instead of shying away from it, I welcomed it as I tried to remember every aspect of my demon savior - Edward. I felt drawn to him, as if he alone possessed his own gravitational pull.

I wanted to relish in his image, his sound, his smell, his touch, his taste… I shivered at that last one. He denied me that single sensory experience during our brief encounter, and I did want to taste him.

Fantasies of having this creature buried inside me started to take hold while my hands started to caress my body. My lips parted as my arousal grew and my breathing picked up. A soft moan escaped my mouth. A soft growl answered from across the room and my arousal heightened exponentially as fear and excitement jumped in my veins.

I slowly opened my eyes to see my savior standing in the doorway, his red eyes darkening to maroon as our eyes locked. I didn't stop my ministrations to my body while holding the gaze of the object of my fantasy.

He growled again, louder this time causing a gasp of pleasure from me as lust shot through my body. Our eyes never left each other as he slowly stalked toward me. I was his prey and I welcomed the idea.

He knelt down next to the tub and gave me a searing kiss that shot straight to my core and caused my hips to buck automatically in response. He tasted even better than I imagined as his tongue dove into the depths of my mouth, plundering and taking what he wanted without permission. He pulled away from our kiss just as his hands slipped under the water to join mine and his eyes turned black with desire. In the short amount of time since he appeared in my apartment, he went from savior to predator to lover and I felt my body ache for all three.

That was the first night he came to me.