Once upon a time, in a faraway land, Edward Cullen lived with his foster parents, Carlisle and Esme, and his foster siblings, Emmett, Rosalie, Alice, and Jasper, in a shining mansion. Although the Cullens gave him everything his heart desired, Edward was spoiled, selfish, and unkind.

But then, one winter's night, an old beggar woman came to the mansion, and offered him a golden watch in return for a sample of blood to save her dying son. Repulsed by her disgusting wish, Edward sneered at the gift, and turned the old woman away. But she warned him not to be deceived, for needs do not define a person. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman's helplessness melted away, to reveal a beautiful and terrifying vampire. Edward tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart, and as punishment, she transformed him into a monstrous vampire, as well as all who lived there. Ashamed of his hideous thirst, Edward concealed himself in a lonely house in the rainiest town in the continental U.S. with his now psychic sister Alice as his only window to the outside world.

The watch she had offered would tick until his twenty-first year as a vampire. If he could learn to love another, and earn their love in return, by the time the last tick-tock sounded, then, his thirst would cease. If not, he would be doomed to attack humans or let the thirst burn him for all time.

As the years passed, he fell into despair, and lost all hope. For who could ever learn to love a vampire?