Stephenie Meyer owns these characters but Edward in My Head is mine, all mine.
Hello: I am very sorry for leaving this story in limbo for such a long time. I won't bore you with my tired excuses; however, you do deserve a reminder of what has (more or less) recently come to pass:
"I'm thinking of having some kids over one night next week . . ."
"Like, a party?" Alice was eager.
. . . Sam Uley continued to stare with the same knowing and hostile black glare. As we passed out of his sight, I heard his voice in my head once more:
I know you, Cold One. I know what you are and I'm not afraid of you.
A World Alone – Lorde
Ocean Breathes Salty – Modest Mouse
"Yeah, thanks a lot. That was fun."
I'd been willing Mike and Jessica off the doorstep for what seemed like an age. Midnight was near and Chief Swan would be home soon, but I wanted them gone for selfish reasons. How I wished I could just encourage them.
"Have a good night, you two." Bella's hand tightened around the doorknob. Her voice was warm, though. Her patience knew no bounds. "Thanks for coming."
That's it . . . move along now . . .
"Oh! He-ey, Bell-a." To my displeasure, Jessica hadn't moved. My scowl was formidable but she paid it no heed. "Lauren and I are getting our nails done tomorrow. You want to come?"
"Um . . ."
I wouldn't say no to a manicure. Alice examined her fingertips: her nails, bitten to the quick in the asylum, of course never grew back after the change.
What? She wasn't intimidated by my scowl either. Oh relax, will you?
Meanwhile Bella fumbled for an excuse. She and I had other plans, but there was no way she could tell another human what they were. "Maybe another time? I-I should probably hit the library. Do some research for History."
Library, eh? Jessica smirked, and I didn't like what she was imagining. As if we'd ever behave so improperly. But she wasn't really disappointed; she hadn't expected Bella would say 'yes'. On the other hand, she'd completely forgotten about that History paper. She wondered if she could get an extension . . .
Mike tugged her elbow. No way he'd face her father's wrath for returning her home past curfew.
"O-kay!" she hissed. "Um, I'll talk to you Sunday, then?"
For the love of all that's holy! Be gone, will you?
"Sure. That'll be great." Bella was still smiling but little lines appeared at the corners of her mouth and a tendon tightened in her neck.
I had to look away for a second.
"Buh-bye," she said—a little too brightly—shutting the door and backing against it for good measure.
The three of us froze, as if fearing any movement might attract their attention and call them back. One car door slammed, and then the other. The engine revved, geared up, and finally faded into the distance. Finally, there was only the moist pitter-pat coming from the eaves.
Bella's gaze flitted between me and Alice, waiting. When I was sure they were out of range, I nodded.
Bella blew a wayward curl out of her eyes. "That went okay, right?" she asked, holding out an anxious hand.
"Of course it did." I pulled her close so I could feel her heartbeat—breathe the scent of her hair. She was mine again. All mine. "Your friends had a good time. And you"—I kissed the top of her head—"were the perfect hostess."
"Thanks to you. And Alice. I mean it," she stressed when Alice turned her eyes to the floor, murmuring that it was nothing.
We hadn't really known what to expect, but the party turned out to be familiar ground. The gulf between Alice and me and the human children persisted, just like at school, and in a way it was comforting. Our family expended a great deal of effort trying to be invisible, knowing that we stuck out like sore thumbs. Yet keeping quietly to ourselves only drew more of the inevitable attention that comes with being wealthy and preternaturally attractive. And of course, predators are always most fascinating to their prey.
"Actually . . . I'm kind of glad it's over," Bella admitted. "I don't really think I'm much of a party-person."
"Nor am I, my love." I brought her fingers to my lips. "Nor am I."
Alice grimaced. Ew, no PDA in front of family, please. "Any sign of the Chief?" she asked.
I shook my head. He wasn't in range.
"Good. Then why don't you get ready for bed, Bella? Edward and I can clean up for you."
There were some plastic cups and plates scattered about the living room but the guests hadn't exactly left a mess behind. They wouldn't have dared: not in the home of the Chief of Police.
"Oh, you don't have to-"
"We want to. It's only polite," she added, ignoring her frown. "This is the first party we've been invited to and we want to thank you."
Frankly I could've come up with many more interesting ways for us to spend an evening than socializing with our so-called peers, but Alice was right. Thanking our hostess was the proper thing to do.
"Go on, Bella. It won't take us long."
Darn right, it won't. Alice met my wink with a grin.
"Well . . . all right." My darling girl was stubborn but she knew better than to stand up to a united immortal front. She turned on her heel and headed upstairs.
We'd tidied up before she'd even turned on the shower. For once, I was glad to have Alice around. Her amusing inner chatter almost kept my mind off the thought of Bella stepping into the shower, warm water sluicing the soap down her smooth back . . . Almost.
Alice stood in the centre of the room, looking around shrewdly. Deciding that everything was a little too neat and tidy, she turned a picture frame a few millimeters askew and flattened the sofa cushions she'd just plumped.
I noted her quizzical look as I opened the window. "We could use some air in here," I explained.
"Hm. It is a little funky." Her dainty nostrils flared. "I'd always thought that was the smell of musty old school buildings, but it's them, isn't it?"
"Mm-hm. Dirty socks and cheap cologne." I pushed the sash a little higher.
"Oh, you're terrible!" But a look of horror passed over her face as she wondered what her own human scent must've been like at that age?
Really though, what hung in the room was almost like energy—phantoms of all those young bodies enclosed in a confined space. Traces of pheromones racing through untainted bloodstreams. For us, it was a little overwhelming.
"Alice, I'm sure your human scent was only the sweetest."
Oh, you're such a good brother . . . "Not so sweet, though, as our dear Bella's," she remarked.
I pressed my lips together. "She's one of a kind."
"She is indeed." And I knew she was studying my expression closely. "It still gets to you, doesn't it?"
"I can handle it." Why did my voice sound so sharp? And which of us, exactly, was I trying to convince?
I know you can. You're determined. She was quiet for a moment. "Did you enjoy yourself tonight?" she finally asked, to change the subject.
"It was fine."
She chuckled."You hated every minute of it."
She knew me well, though I'd tried hard to keep my misgivings to myself. She and Bella deserved to experience this and enjoy themselves; they didn't need to bolster me as well. But the fact was that I was old and set in my ways and had no business partying with modern human teenagers. Apart from being trapped in a seventeen-year-old's body, I had almost nothing in common with them.
And I'd been envious, too. I'd always believed that Bella and I were two fish out of water together. But watching her with her friends, I could see that in her own quiet way, she fit in now. And much as it pained me to think it, it was these young people she should be growing up and moving forward with. I would only ever hold her back.
My attitude might've been better if I'd got some time with Bella alone. But teenage girls travel in packs and gather like crows. She was surrounded by an impenetrable feminine wall from the get-go. Until the boys descended like flies. Flies that needed swatting.
So, I'd attempted to join in a harmless discussion about baseball. Sport is a universally safe topic of conversation after all. It was early in the season and the boys debating the Mariners' chances of making it to the World Series.
"They're going all the way this time." Eric had no doubt.
"All the way, baby!" Mike repeated gleefully.
"Not likely," I scoffed, causing four surprised and suspicious faces to turn my way.
I could've pulled out my loose tongue! Alice had predicted another losing season for the Mariners this year so we'd all planned our bets accordingly. There was no way I could justify what I'd just said, so I tried to backtrack:
"Oh. Well, if you look at stats over the past couple of years, they always tank at the end of the season."
A skeptical silence ensued; even some of the girls noticed it. If my body were still able to produce blood cells, my face would've turned as beet-red as Bella's did.
"He's right, you know," Ben finally pointed out.
"He is not."
"Yeah, 'cuz he follows the White Sox."
The Cubs, actually . . . And I breathed a sigh of relief as they resumed ignoring me.
So, did Bella's get-together compare with socials in my day? I don't remember, of course. And from what my journals tell me, my friends and I didn't get many chances to socialize with young ladies at the Latin Schooli.
All public gatherings were banned after the Influenza hit.
And then of course, I died . . .
"What about you?" I asked Alice. "Did you enjoy your very first party?"
She shrugged, suddenly a little melancholy. "It was nice to see how the other half play. If only for just a little bit."
"Didn't it make you sad—seeing what you might've missed, back in the day?"
"I get the feeling that I didn't fit in back then, either. I don't think I was ever invited to join in. Not like this."
Yet she'd awoken to her vampire life unafraid, knowing that her future held love and companionship. She just had to wait for it to find her. She ended up waiting nearly thirty years.
"Bella belongs." I gestured gruffly at the empty space—indicating her absent friends. "With them. She deserves to have a life."
"Weren't you listening to what she said before? I don't think this is the life she wants."
Her vision of my beloved, radiantly immortal, came to the fore once again and for the hundredth time I was tantalized. But how could I condemn her to this living death?
"She's seventeen. She's too young to know what she wants."
We hadn't discussed Bella's mortality in weeks, but she wasn't surprised by my response. "You were seventeen, once," she reminded me.
And I'd had no idea of where my life was headed at that age, either. "My point, exactly."
Abruptly, she sighed and squeezed her eyes shut—massaged her forehead as if it throbbed.
"I still can't see where you're going tonight and it's driving me crazy."
Not that again! "Alice, I'm not going anywhere."
"Then, why can't I see-?"
"Just stop it, will you?"
"Is everything all right?"
Neither of us had been listening for Bella's approach.
"Yes!" I swung around, my smile a mask.
"Absolutely," Alice added.
Bella's hands were on her hips. "'Yes' is reassuring. 'Absolutely' is not."
The brilliant smile that Alice flashed didn't quite meet her eyes, either. "It's okay, Bella. Just brother and sister stuff."
Her lips pursed, leaving us no doubt that she was unconvinced.
Alice suddenly jumped off the couch, startling us both. "Well, would you look at the time? Your father will be home soon. We'd better make ourselves scarce."
Bella held out her hand. "Will you stay?"
"I'll stay 'til your father comes home. You shouldn't be alone."
She rolled her eyes. "Right. 'Cuz I might accidentally flush myself down the toilet or something."
"I'll take the car home," Alice offered. "Don't be gone too long, okay?" she entreated, touching my arm.
"I won't be," I promised. I could feel how worried she was.
Her eyes glazed—her racing visions nearly impossible to keep up with, changing by the nanosecond.
"No, you won't," she said finally, her shoulders slumping with relief. "That much is clear now."
"What was that all about?" Bella asked as Alice backed out of the driveway. She gave my sister a little wave as she closed the door.
"Oh, you know Alice: she thrives on drama."
"Really? I kind of thought you were the drama queen in the family."
I chuckled. "Time for bed, Bella."
"Come on, then."
I ended up staying long after her father came home. Too long, as it turned out.
It was either very late or very early. Chief Swan snored stridently across the hall, his date with the paramedic lost to dreams the moment his head hit the pillow.
Bella and I were wide awake, exploring touch and taste. She was exceptionally ticklish tonight. The barest, feather light touch at the crook of her elbow was all it took to set her off.
"Quit it!" she gasped between burbles.
"Quit what?" I wiggled my fingers above her upturned face.
"I'm not doing anything."
"Quit making me laugh." She grabbed fruitlessly at my hand. "My dad'll hear."
"Your dad's fast asleep," I said, and as if to prove it, the chief let out a raucous snore.
That sent her into paroxysms again—we were both laughing—and I let her catch my hand then. "Now I've got you!" she crowed. The heat of her warm little fingers, entwined in mine, was exquisite.
"You certainly do."
She folded both her hands around mine. "Okay, you've got to promise to be good."
"I'm always good."
"I swear, I'll be good."
"No more tickling?"
"No more tickling." For now . . .
"Will you kiss me some more?"
"Okay . . ."
And this is why I said that I stayed with her far too long that night. For just like last night and every time before that, the kissing deepened far past the point of safety. And just like last night, when my hand strayed to her waist and met the bare skin under her t-shirt, she grasped it. Only this time, she tried to bring it up to her chest.
"Bella . . ."
She didn't let go of my hand or stop trying to place it on my breast. "It's okay," she whispered against my cheek. She knew exactly what she was doing, moving against me like that. The heat of her body seared through me.
"My love, we can't." My protest was so feeble. It was all I could do to extricate my hand gently and smooth her shirt back down.
A moan escaped her throat. "Please, Edward."
"We can't. I'll only hurt you."
"I don't believe that."
I raised myself up on my elbows, disengaging from her gaze.
"We can try," she insisted, trying to turn my face back towards her. "Just like with the kissing."
"This isn't like kissing. This-this is totally different."
"Why?" She sat up like I did, determined.
Did she truly not see? One careless move and my hand could tear through her breastbone into her throbbing heart beneath, as easily as it could rend her flimsy cotton of t-shirt. How many times did I have to explain this?
"We've been through this. It's not possible while you're human."
"We thought real kissing wasn't possible," she reminded me.
"This is not the same. I can't . . . touch you like that."
"Because I'm too soft, too fragile," she recited, angry and petulant. Then she thought about what she'd just said. And clearly, I had no idea what she was thinking—not a clue.
"So, we'll have to wait until I'm like you?"
Were it not for my perfect recall, I'd have wondered if I'd heard her correctly. I recoiled, horrified yet tantalized at the thought of what she might be like as an immortal. It was wrong of me to want that! I would never let her become a monster!
Then suddenly l was livid at my sister. What had she said to her? "Has Alice been putting ideas in your head?"
"What?" Her hand flew to her mouth, genuinely shocked. "N-no! I mean . . . I know that I'm going to be like you. I feel it." All I could feel was the floor dropping from beneath me, crashing into an endless abyss. "Don't you, too? We're meant to be together." Her voice sounded as if it was coming from along way off. It was hard to breathe. I knew she'd thought about it, but not like this . . .
"Don't you?" The question hung in the air.
I swallowed harshly. "No."
"No, I don't want you to be like me."
It hurt to my core to say those words, but she had to understand it was impossible. But how could I convince her when I didn't even believe myself? I could see she was confused. She fingered her necklace—seven rings of friendship, each symbolizing a member of our family.
"Then why did you give this to me?"
I could see now that had been a mistake, but I'd never dream of taking it back now. My god, I was so ashamed to look at her then—to see the pain I'd caused. What could I say to make this right?
"Because I love you. Because you're perfect the way you are."
"Bella, please." Not again. I would not buy into this argument again.
Chief Swan's snores suddenly came to a halt and I could hear him stirring. Had he sensed that something was wrong? We waited, not daring to breathe, counting the seconds until he either crossed the hall or turned onto his other side.
His inhale was like a buzz saw.
Bella stared at her hands. Her face was pale, even in the wan moonlight peeking through the curtains.
"We're always going to fight about this, aren't we?" she whispered.
There was no denying it.
"Maybe I should go."
The ticking bedside clock was the only answer for a few seconds.
"Yes," she finally said, her voice dull.
It was the first thing we'd agreed on all night.
I don't remember leaping through her open window.
I just remember her wrenching sobs fading as I fled into the dark forest night.
What had I done?
I'd ruined everything, that's what I'd done. I'd been so cruel.
She had no idea how hard it was to keep control. None! Every moment of every day was a struggle. But it was worth it to be with her. I'd be content just to look at her if that's all I could do.
She'd always push for more. More and more, and I had nothing to give. Why couldn't she see that?
Because she is young . . . she needs to learn and grow . . .
I should go back. Apologize. Lie to her. Tell her that yes, we could try if we were very, very careful.
Instead, I ran. Kept on running until I barely knew where I was. Following the path, such as it was—a path for inhuman eyes only. It seemed to me I did a lot of running lately. Mostly, I ran from myself.
Alice always saw me run. She'd seen it this time, too. Hadn't she seen me argue with Bella? She loved her as well—why didn't she warn me? If I'd gone home with her instead, Bella and I would still be happy.
Could have, should have, would have . . .
An owl called as it took wing, and countless stealthy feet fled at her warning. The woods were full of voices these days. But I wasn't listening. Tonight, I heard only my own remorse. Anger and regret. I should go back. I should!
The sharp smell of sea salt pulled me up short. How far had I come? I was still in the woods but unmistakably, I was nearing the coast. I changed course, moving towards the water so I could regain my bearings. The last thing I needed was to cross accidentally onto Quileute land.
As the topography changed, giving way to smaller trees and shrubs, I could tell by the curve of the land where I was. The trail of moonlight along the bay confirmed that I'd run further than I thought. Straight across the peninsula to Neah Bay. I was on Makah land. We had no quarrel with them.
I travelled some distance, parallel to the coast—torturing myself with remorseful thoughts, but too weak of heart to turn back. It wasn't long before I caught scent. Humans. Charcoal. Scent came before sound. Drumming. Lights and voices. There was a gathering further up the beach.
Soon enough I picked out the flickering light of a campfire, and what appeared to be torches pounded into the foreshore. Cautiously, I drew further back into the brush, though curious, I crept forward.
It turned out to be an extensive gathering—a group of thirty or more. I was still too far away to hear distinct thoughts, but the closer I got, the more I felt a weight of sadness on the group. The voices I'd heard were keening.
Two long shapes in the centre of the group, pointed out to sea, soon revealed themselves to be canoes. One was empty, rigged to the other beside it. Something large was bundled inside that one. As I got closer, I could see from the flickering light of the fire that it was bound, wrapped in straw by the smell of it. I also smelled decay.
The drumming and keening continued, picking up pace until abruptly, they stopped short after three percussive beats. An older man, robed in white stepped forward, chanting. A middle-aged man and women left the group to stand with him. I was still about half a mile away, but it was close enough for the sea breeze to blow the scent of rotting human flesh towards me.
Of course: this was a funeral. For the man who'd died behind the old mill outside Forks. He'd been killed by an animal, though there were some in town who didn't believe it. He'd been running with gangs and there'd been disputes over drugs and territory recently.
The robed man was obviously a shaman. He continued to chant, circling the fire, waving an outstretched hand in which he held a branch. It began to smoke and it wasn't long before I caught the sharp, clean scent of cedar. He waved it over the heads of the man and woman who stood with him. They bowed their heads and the man took the smoldering branch in his hands.
It was then I realized that there were others attending this ritual. The wind brought with it a malodorous human scent that was only too familiar. It looked like most of the band council from La Push was there. I didn't really stop to wonder why because the Quileutes and the Makah tribes were closely associated. The dead man might even have been related to one or more of them.
Now the man bearing the smoldering cedar branch turned and held out his arms, beckoning one of the Quileutes forward. I was surprised it was Sam Uley and not one of the elders; I hadn't noticed him until now. He approached the couple slowly, falling on his knees just before them. The woman took the blanket she'd been wearing off her shoulders and wrapped it around him. The man waved the cedar branch over him, as if in absolution. Then he gave it to him.
Sam's shoulders shook. The man and woman moved in, laying their hands on his head, his shoulders. He wept openly now and I did not know what to make of it.
The keening crowd gathered around these three for some moments, until the holy man signaled for the drum to beat again. Then it parted in a semi-circle and Sam rose from his knees. Head still bowed, he walked to the canoe bearing the body and lit a torch on the bow with the smoldering cedar branch. He then lit the torch on the bow of other.
As he returned to stand with his own people, the Makah moved forward as one to push the canoes into the water. Some helped the shaman and the parents of the dead man board the empty canoe. The woman was in the front, the two men in the back, and all three took paddles. Makah and Quileute kept watch as the canoes jumped the surf breaking on the beach. They watched torch lights on the canoes wink and go out amongst the ocean swells.
They would watch and wait until one of the canoes returned from the island in the strait where the Makah bury their dead.
It was as good a time as any to make my exit. This was a private ceremony and I had no business being here. As I turned to leave, sadness engulfed me once more. I should go back to Forks. But how could I mend things with Bella after what I'd said to her?
I drifted between the first large trees at the edge of the forest, not knowing which way I'd go. I picked my way through the undergrowth for a while, trying to come to a decision. The next gulley: at the next gulley, I'd decide.
I paused, one foot on the trunk of a downed giant, gradually becoming aware of approaching noise. Some rabbits raced by, skittering around the log at the last moment, fleeing an unseen predator.
Unseen, but not unheard. Presently, I became aware of something crashing through in the underbrush, coming from the direction of the beach.
"Get outta here!" the someone yelled.
How in the hell had Sam Uley covered that much ground so quickly? He couldn't have seen me from the beach. How had he known I'd been watching?
I crossed my arms defensively. Stood my ground. "How is it you know me, Sam Uley?"
"I'd know your stench anywhere."
He was revolted, but he was not afraid of me. He came right up to my face. At close quarters for the first time, I realized how big he was. He was taller than me. And broad. Massive through the shoulders. Had he grown since I'd seen him the other day?
"You'd better leave now, if you know what's good for you." ´Even his breath was rank. It reeked of rotten meat.
I shouldn't have antagonized him; I should have just left peacefully. "This is not your land. You have no authority here."
"This is Makah land and you're not welcome here."
"I'm just passing through."
"Liar! You were watching. You like to watch don't you, Cullen?"
I didn't know what he was getting at. "I mean no harm." If I backed away a step, he'd perceive weakness. He was angry and he'd attack. I didn't want to harm him.
"It doesn't matter. You're evil—you and your family. You brought evil to this place. Like your kind always does."
His mind seethed with the Old Ones' legends. Bloody wraiths fleeing into the mist. I saw bodies at a campsite in Yellowstone. Then I saw the violent death of the Makah man he'd just helped to bury. And that was not all I saw.
"And I know where you go at night. What you do. We all know you stalk our kin!"
Of course they knew. The Quileutes had been guardians of this place since Raven'sii time. In my arrogance, I'd sorely underestimated these people.
"You'd make her like you but it won't happen. I could kill you. I-ugh! Agh!" He was shivering violently. "I'll kill you, fucker!"
His shivers became convulsions. He shrieked—his whole body out of control.
This time I did back away. And watched Sam Uley explode before my eyes. It was a sight I never believed I'd see again. The enormous black wolf left in his place snarled, bracing on its haunches, preparing to spring. I braced too.
To kill or be killed.
The creature's forepaws left the ground. I was poised on the balls of my feet, when-
"Enough of this! Stand down, Sam Uley!"
The ancient voice pierced the darkness, stopping the wolf in mid-leap. Old Quil Ateara stepped from the shadows, placing himself between me and the unbelievable slavering creature.
"We cannot harm this one," he said. "We owe his father too much."
The wolf's brow furrowed, as if it understood. If I hadn't known better, I could've sworn it looked . . . disappointed.
Quil said something to the beast in their tongue that seemed to calm it. He turned to me, one hand still upraised to keep it at bay. If I'd expected to see mercy in his eyes, I would've been disappointed.
"Leave while you can, Edward Cullen," he ordered. "Go back to the one who made you."
"Go," he repeated, his harsh voice shocking me out of my stupor. "Now!"
Thank you very much for reading. Your comments and feedback are welcome, as always.
i Giselle-LX's fanon has become my canon here. In her story, Stregoni Benefici, 1918 Edward was a student at the Chicago Latin School, where girls were first admitted as students in 1913.
ii Many legends of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific North West feature Raven as the creator of the world. One story is particularly well-depicted in a sculpture by Haida artist Bill Reid. See: upload . wikimedia commons / b / ba / Raven-and-the-first-men . jpg
A/N: My thanks to the readers who PMd to make sure I was still alive over the last few months (you know who you are). And I'm forever grateful for the input of my wonderful pre-readers, Malianani and Miaokuancha. It's no secret that I hit the writing wall in the last year or so. These dear friends helped me get over that wall—and myself—and get back to writing. They are fan fiction authors as well, and you can check out their stories via my favourites.
Until next time ~W