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"Have you always stayed with Carlisle, then?" Bella asked.

"Almost always." I pulled her with me down the hall, hoping she wouldn't press for more details, but I knew Bella wouldn't be satisfied with half-truths.


How much should I tell her? How much could her fragile human mind comprehend of my choices? How long till she ran away from me with real terror in her eyes. "Well, I had a typical bout of rebellious adolescence" I wanted, needed, to save others from his disgusting appetite, "about ten years after I was…" stolen from death's door, "born…created, whatever you want to call it. I wasn't sold on this life of abstinence, and I resented him for curbing my appetite." Resented wasn't quite the correct term for the hatred I had for him and his "lifestyle" that he had burdened me with. Carlisle couldn't hear his thoughts, Carlisle didn't see the images that ran thru his mind. "So I went off on my own for a time."

I became a murderer of murderers.

"Really?" She was incredulous. Her eyes full of wonder instead of fear as we headed up the stairs.

"That doesn't repulse you?" I cocked an eyebrow at her, unnerved at her calm stature.


"Why not?" I just told her that I had hunted humans, her kind, drank their blood, and she wasn't the least bit upset? She was truly the most interesting creature I had ever met.

"I guess…it sounds reasonable"

I laughed out loud at her ridiculous thought process. There is nothing reasonable about killing, natural though it may be for us, it is still unacceptable. "From the time of my new birth I had the advantage of knowing what everyone around me was thinking, both human and non-human alike." She smirked at me, knowing I couldn't hear everyone. "That's why it took me ten years to defy Carlisle. I could read his perfect sincerity, understand exactly why he lived the way he did." I wished he could've understood why I needed to break his rules.

"It took me only a few years to return to Carlisle and recommit to his vision." I had missed my family more than I thought possible. I had a new appreciation for all those lonely years Carlisle suffered through. It was absolutely painful to be so utterly alone. "I thought I would be exempt from the depression that accompanies a conscience," since my prey seemed to have no conscience themselves. "Because I knew the thoughts of my prey, I could pass over the innocent and pursue only the evil. If I followed a murderer down a dark alley where he stalked a young girl, if I saved her, then surely I wasn't so terrible."

I thought of sweet Dorothy walking home from her job at the diner; of Roy and his sick, twisted thoughts of her white dress, his hand on her thigh, of taking away her innocence. I thought of the sweet taste of his blood as I sucked out his life at the end of the dark street while Dorothy stood in shock at her doorway, still thinking of the ghost who had taken away the monster who had licked her cheek as he ran his hand up the back of her dress. I had stolen him away, too fast for human eyes to see, ending his life before the thought registered in his brain. She dreamed of me for many weeks, her "ghost protector".

How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.

"But as time went on, I began to see the monster in my eyes. I couldn't escape the debt of so much human life taken, no matter how justified." All a man's affairs become diseased when he wishes to cure evil by evil. "And I went back to Carlisle and Esme. They welcomed me back like the prodigal. It was more that I deserved." My crimson eyes disgusted me, but Carlisle would have none of my self-loathing. Esme held me tight and let her love infuse me. Even Rosalie was happy to have me home.

Coming home was easy. Giving up human blood wasn't.

Is there anything worse than to be longing for something, when you know it is within reach and you are forbidden from having it?

The irony was not lost on me.

"My room" I opened the door and watched her as she took in her surroundings. I had just confessed my murderous past to her and she was contemplating my stereo equipment. Her heart was back its normal pace and her breathing was perfectly normal. She was neither frightened of me nor concerned for her safety.

"Good acoustics?" I laughed, of course. Bella and her thought processes were astounding. I turned on my stereo and instantly the sounds of "Round About Midnight" by Thelonious Monk drifted through the air. His compositions and improvisations were full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and were impossible to separate from his unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations.

His music was fantastic.

"How do you have these organized?"

"Ummm, by year, and then by personal preference within that frame" Why isn't she screaming? Nothing about me seemed to bother her, except my performance in the meadow. My confession was so cleansing, so honest; I had laid my sins on the table, ready for her to judge and sentence me. She loved me and trusted me, and yet I was always anticipating the reaction that never came. I wasn't deserving or worthy of her love, and yet she gave it freely to me. Her wide eyes regarded me as I stared at her.

"What?" She asked.

"I was prepared to feel…relieved." The weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders. "Having you know about everything, not needing to keep secrets from you. But I didn't expect to feel more than that. I like it. It makes me happy." Happy wasn't a good enough descriptor for the healing I felt in her knowing all my secrets, but it was an easy enough way to convey my feelings without overwhelming her.

"I'm glad" And there was no lie in her eyes. I waited with bated breath. Fear and loathing, I didn't want to see them and yet I did; I also wanted to kiss her lips and crush my body to hers, to feel the heat from her blood coursing thru her veins. I took a deep, steadying, burning breath. Always the crashing of the two wants. It was difficult to discern my needs from my wants.

"Your still waiting for the running and the screaming, aren't you?" she said. "I hate to burst your bubble, but you're really not as scary as you think you are. I don't find you scary at all, actually." She pretended to be brave, but I saw through her façade. She was lying, and I knew it.

I knew exactly what to do. I smiled wryly at her and cocked my eyebrow.

"You really shouldn't have said that." This was going to be fun. I could hear Alice laughing her tinkling laughter as she no doubt saw my next action in her visions. Don't scare the human too much, Edward. Esme will be mad if she has a heart-attack. Alice's thoughts were all too easy to read.

I crouched and growled, softly so as not to scare her…too much. I coiled my muscles and calculated the exact distance and angle at which to jump and catch. I locked my eyes on my target, and reminded myself to be extremely gentile with my fragile girl. Her eyes were full of shock and dismay as she backed away from me timidly.

"You wouldn't" she breathed. And I did.

The movement was so swift and agile, any vampire would have been jealous. I lept up into the air and towards my intended target. I caught her before she had a chance to finish her breath. I locked my arms around her soft body and gently cradled her warm frame to mine. I could feel every inch of her in my embrace as we collided with the couch unharmed. Her heart rate accelerated as did her breathing.

"You were saying?" I stifled a laugh as she gasped for air and tried to right herself. This was much more fun than I thought it would be.

"That you are a very, very terrifying monster"

"Much better" Bella was being funny.

"Um, can I get up now?" She asked. I thought about it for a half second but decided I was much more comfortable with her on my lap, especially now that Jasper was headed our way. Don't worry about Jasper, he'll be on his best behavior. He won't hurt her. Alice quickly showed me her vision before she lightly knocked on the door.

"Can we come in?" Alice spoke aloud for Bella to hear. I'll be good, Edward, I won't smell her or touch her or anything.

"Go ahead" As if I could stop Alice from coming in. She would pout and stomp around outside my door, threatening to redecorate my room if I didn't let her in.

"It sounded like you were having Bella for lunch, and we came to see if you would share" As if this little thing even has enough for you, Alice thought.

How can you stand to be so close to her? The smell, her throat. I think I'll stay by the door. Jasper leaned against my door frame, steeling himself against the strong perfume of Bella's presence.

"Sorry, I don't believe I have enough to spare" I held Bella close, and smiled deviantly at Alice and her awful attempt at humor

"Actually, Alice says there's going to be a real storm tonight, and Emmett wants to play ball. Are you game?" Jasper said. Images of the last game flying thru his mind…Emmett rigging the game by filling the baseballs with paintballs, gluing them back together with rubber cement, and then throwing said balls at Jasper when he wasn't looking. The balls broke apart easily, splattering paint all over Jasper. He laughed, but Alice was livid that he had ruined one of her favorite Jasper outfits. She was also mad that he had kept his thoughts so well hidden. A first for Emmett. She spent the next week booby-trapping his Jeep, with Rosalie's help, with paint-ball propelling devices, special ordered and extra small to hide in various spots. When he started up his prize possession, he got pummeled in the head with a hundred paint balls from all different angles.

He was not happy about getting paint in his Jeep.

I couldn't wait to play baseball.

My obligation to Bella overshadowed my joy in an instant. I couldn't leave her alone with unknown vampires roaming about.

"Of course you should bring Bella" She'll be safer with all of us than at her house, in case one of them tries something. Jasper will be more than happy to use his techniques on them. Alice thought.

Jasper was momentarily shocked, and unsure if he was ready for Bella being in such close contact with him. Alice looked at him and winked.

"Do you want to go?" My excitement palpable. I could see the curiosity burning in her eyes.

"Sure! Um, where are we going?" She asked with wide eyes.

"We have to wait for thunder to play ball, you'll see why" I would show her soon enough in person why the thunder was necessary. I wondered, idly, if I should get her some earplugs. We did get a bit loud as the game wore on. I hoped she wouldn't be put off by our boisterous play. Emmett would have to be warned about the colorful way he liked to talk during a game.

"Will I need an umbrella?" All at once, three vampires were laughing uncontrollably.

"Will she?" Jasper asked a still laughing Alice.

"No. The storm will hit over town. It should be dry enough in the clearing." I scanned her thoughts. Her vision was perfectly clear. We would be safe and dry during the storm. We would have about four hours of play before the storm passed and the thunder would be over.

"Good, then." I felt myself getting more and more excited about the prospects of a game. Jasper's thoughts were excited, and only a little worried about Bella and her closeness. He decided to play in the outfield, so as not to be to close to her during the game.

"Let's go see if Carlisle will come." Alice chimed. Her thoughts already showed he would.

"Like you don't know" Jasper teased as Alice lopped off in front of him, smiling and happy to have Bella coming along.

"What will we be playing?" Bella asked after they had left my room.

"You will be watching. We will be playing baseball." She would put us all in danger just being in close proximity to a ball, we didn't need to chance her getting near a bat. I shuddered at the thought of her at bat, and how she would likely hit herself in the head, causing a concussion, or giving herself an open wound.

"Vampires like baseball?" She asked as if I were completely out of my head.

"It's the American pastime" I said innocently.

Chapter notes

"How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened." Thomas Jefferson

"All a man's affairs become diseased when he wishes to cure evils by evils." Sophocles

"Is there anything better than to be longing for something, when you know it is within reach?" Greta Garbo

Thelonious Sphere Monk (October 10, 1917-February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist and composer. One of five jazz musicians to be featured on the cover of Time magazine.

.com/watch?v=OMmeNsmQaFw&feature=related to listen to "round about midnight"

A/N: That is it! The end….for now….I am working on another story, and will be posting it soon! So stay tuned!!!