A/N: Well...this is it :( It is going to be a MONSTER epilogue! I'm going to keep writing until the end, and not keep you waiting so it will probably be the largest chapter I've written!
I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all so very much for supporting my story and encouraging me to keep going with it...not only with Midnight Sun but the rest of the entire series! Doing the rest of the series from Edward's point of view is a seriously big commitment and as much as I would love to do that, I am uncertain that I can commit the amount of time that it would take to do all three. (It took me 6 months to complete this as it is! LOL). But, down the track...well you never know, do you?
There are too many of you to thank, and I have individually thanked you in previous chapters...so here's what I would like to do. MWAH! MWAH! MWAH! XXX I'm sending out a million hugs and kisses to you all for reading my story. I feel truly humbled by your response to this and will never forget my first ever foray into writing a multi chapter story, nor will I forget my faithful readers and reviewers for joining me on this most enjoyable journey. You are so very special, each and every one of you, and I hope you continue to read my stories!
So, without further adieu, grab yourself a cuppa, sit back, relax and enjoy the final roller coaster ride that is Edward Anthony Cullen's version of Twilight from his very emotional and self-deprecating point of view, my fellow readers!
DEDICATION: THIS EPILOGUE IS DEDICATED TO MY FATHER. HE SURVIVED CANCER LAST YEAR, AND ENCOURAGED ME TO WRITE EVEN WHEN HE WAS SUFFERING THROUGH HIS OWN PAIN AND ILLNESS. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY DADDY!
Disclaimer: I do not own or claim to own characters of Twilight. However, Edward's thoughts of events in Midnight Sun are mine, at least from when he took Bella to the meadow! hehehehe
Things were...good. Let me rephrase. They were...remarkable. Stupendous. Glorious. Magnificent. No matter the adjective I conjured within my mind, no words could describe the way I felt right now. Events that had led up to this very point in time had been, suffice to say, life-changing to the utmost. Life-changing not only for Bella Swan, but her family, my family and I...and the events that had occurred thus far had forever left their indelible mark on us all, altering those involved beyond recognition. I, for example, had left behind the persona of a vampire who had thirsted for Bella's blood and craved to kill her, and emerged as a man who happened to be a vampire...and one who now knew unequivocally what he wanted in life.
The sun had finally set on this most recent of traumas, which had spawned a plethora of possibilities. Possibilities which were both exciting and frightening. Exciting, because we had all come through these events relatively unscathed, and frightening because we were now exploring unchartered territory, and the stakes were even higher because of that fact. But for all that, life had become not only bearable thanks to Isabella Marie Swan, but fruitful and bountiful...which was an entirely new experience for the likes of me, and as much as I knew I did not deserve to avail myself of these bounties, I was thankful for them nonetheless. I was a man in love, after all, and I could not imagine life affording me any more gifts than I had already had the honour of being blessed with. Ah yes, I was truly a lucky man.
My family had also been changed forever, this experience giving them the opportunity to love a human being, and to accept her into our cloistered world. Although I knew that some of my family were more accepting of Bella than others, none of their lives would ever be the same. Love had conquered all...in the truest sense of the word. Our strange worlds had collided and had resulted in our lives being irrecoverably changed.
Then, of course, there was the effect on Bella's family. Two days after Bella had first woken up in hospital, we had all arrived home safe and well after having bid a fond farewell to Renee, sending her back to her new and exciting life with Phil. She was saddened to leave her only daughter, but had reluctantly conceded defeat the day Bella woke in hospital. I had no doubt in my mind that she loved her daughter with all of her heart, but Renee respected the fact that Bella was a mature young woman who wished to make her own choices in life. For that, I was forever grateful. Grateful not only to Renee for allowing her daughter to return to Forks, but also to Bella for choosing to love me, to keep me in her life...to cherish me. As much as I did not believe that a higher power existed for the likes of me, I felt it deep within me, from blood to bones, that something beyond my control had been at work here.
Not only had the way been made clear for Bella to return home to Charlie, but it appeared that the immediate danger posed by Victoria was gone...for the foreseeable future anyway. Alice had assured us that she would keep watch for any decision that Victoria would make, and we were certain that any move she made to come back to town would be thwarted by Alice's visions and our ability to detect her familiar scent from a hundred miles away. We hoped that Victoria would never again return to darken our doorstep, and were pleased that Laurent had headed to Denali to pursue what we hoped would be a positive lifestyle change for himself. We had been in regular contact with the clan over these past weeks and though Laurent struggled to embrace their way of life, he made for a good companion to them nonetheless. That is, when he was not wandering from them as he sometimes did. Kate's explanation of his errant behaviour was that he felt guilty about his apparent inability to feed on animals and would therefore venture out and hunt alone, only to return and make futile attempts to make amends and adopt their way of life once more. Irina and Tanya did not know what to make of him, and for that reason I was uncertain as to how long he would continue to persist there, or how much longer the coven would tolerate his behaviour. Whatever the obstacles that may hamper them living in harmony I hoped that, for all concerned, things would somehow work out for them all.
Peace reigned supreme in the small town of Forks, Washington, and I had never felt so content...so relieved of that fact. Well, to be more succinct, peace reigned among its citizens, between my family and Bella and I. There was one person, however, that I still had to work very hard on to convince...a person that I had craved a relationship with since Bella had become a part of my life, and the last person who would ultimately accept me into his. Charlie Swan. Charlie had been occupied with Carlisle investigating the murders committed at the hand of Victoria, and though he worked closely with my father, things were still strained between us when we arrived home. I was fortunate in one respect. Charlie had finally acknowledged that I was part of his daughter's life and as much as he was wary of our relationship, he respected his daughter enough to allow her to make her own choices.
Of course, Charlie Swan blamed me for Bella's near-miss. How could he not? How could he feel anything but anger and contempt toward me? Though he was not privy to the facts behind the simple and very real truth behind Bella's state, since our return he had continued to blame me for her predicament. After all, if not for me, Bella would not have left home in the first place and I was not about to disagree with his conclusions, nor defy his wishes. He demanded penance, and penance he would have. I respected him for standing his ground and being a father to his daughter, and though his punishment included a strict regime of visiting hours for me and curfews for his daughter, it mattered not. Charlie Swan had laid down the law and I respectfully accepted his decision without argument. If I was in his position and Bella were my daughter, I honestly don't know if I would have made as many concessions as he had.
Over the ensuing weeks after our return to Forks, Charlie and I had begun to establish an unspoken understanding between us. We had briefly discussed the investigations and had mutually agreed to keep the murders a secret from Bella for her own protection, and now that Victoria had left town and the safety of the citizens of Forks had been restored, I was pleased with that decision.
During our discussions, we also agreed that as long as I followed his rules, he told me I would be permitted to continue to see Bella. I obeyed his rules to the letter, never allowing my visits to run over time nor allowing Bella's curfews to be broken. The tension, though still there, was then partnered with an emerging mutual respect, and I could not have been happier. I was allowed to be part of Bella's life and no matter the condition of that, I was happy for it regardless, and inch by agonising inch, I felt as though I was getting somewhere with Charlie, albeit slowly.
I was more than relieved that we had begun to return to a more human life and routine. We had all returned to school, and though Bella's leg was in a cast, she had managed to return earlier than expected, with me aiding her. In a matter of a week, and with the assistance of her friends and me, she had also caught up with her schoolwork, to the delight of her father. Her friends were all very supportive, and even Jessica's thoughts had softened somewhat after Mike had begun to pay her a little more attention.
I was standing in the forest, hunting with Alice, pondering all that had happened thus far, smiling broadly as I did so.
"You know, Edward. You just missed a huge buck over there. What's the matter with you?" she asked as she dropped the body of her second kill of the hunt and disposed of the lifeless corpse, slowly rising out of her crouched position.
"Oh, nothing. I'm just a little distracted. I still can't believe how things have turned out, Alice."
"Yeh, yeh I know. You're in love...life's perfect...blah blah blah," she said as she rolled her eyes but at the same time gave me a small smile, my only hunting companion causing me to break into a roar of laughter. I also knew that the rest of the family were hesitant to hunt with me because of my sickeningly happy demeanour. Right now they did not know what to make of it, and at times it made them feel quite uncomfortable.
Alice, as always, was the only person who could tolerate me for the most part. Jasper avoided me like the plague, his frustration that I would somehow descend into my usual melancholia causing him to become confused. He had never seen me quite like this...quite so buoyant...so human.
Emmett and Rose, on the other hand, I avoided as much as possible...Emmett because of his constant teasing and his inappropriately vulgar thoughts of what Bella and I should be doing, and Rose because well, she did not support my relationship with Bella at all. There was a glimmer of hope however. At one point after our arrival back home, I smelled Rose's scent near the truck as I arrived to watch Bella sleep, and realised that she had replaced the spark plugs and given the dinosaur a quick once over. Although she never admitted having done anything and had been careful to conceal her thoughts around me, I knew anyway. Rose did surprise me at times, and though she would never acknowledge it, I was certain that she was softening her stance in regards to Bella, in her own obtuse way.
Carlisle and Esme were nothing but supportive, but left me to deal with things as a mature young man should. Carlisle had finished his work with Charlie, and had whispered words of praise and encouragement to him as they worked, championing my cause on my behalf, and for that I was indebted to Carlisle. I did not think that I would have been allowed back in Bella's life so easily if it weren't for his efforts. Carlisle had also sat down with me and we conversed at length about my changed response to Bella's scent, and he was fascinated by my ever-evolving reaction to it.
"Come on, Edward, hurry up! I'd like to get home before we have to stay another night," Alice complained, bringing me back from my reverie.
"Fine, Alice," I said abruptly as a familiar scent crossed my sensitive nose and found its way to my tongue, causing the mild burn in my throat to intensify somewhat, but not where it was uncomfortable. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, sensing that it was moving to the north of where I stood, its slow steady movements leading me to believe that it too was on the hunt.
I darted through the forest and finally came upon the sight of my favourite of all prey. Not in the mood for any tactical manoeuvres nor grandstanding, I took down the huge mountain lion quickly, sinking my teeth through his fur, drinking of him with little feeling of satisfaction, his blood nowhere near what I had tasted...once. As I quickly buried his lifeless corpse, I pondered further. Ever since returning to Forks, the blood of animals had been particularly hard to take after...Bella. As much as I hated to admit my weakness, there it was, and though I had nearly become immune to the smell of Bella's scent and blood, its taste had ruined my palate for the blood of anything else, leaving me so dissatisfied that I wondered if I would ever recover. It was just as well I found my favourite prey today of all days...that small mercy somehow making it easier to will myself to return to my vegetarian way of life, and I hoped that it would be the beginning of the long arduous process of becoming what I once was.
And then I thought about the present, and how we had returned to our lives and how the routine seemed to slip back in place as if nothing had occurred. Of course, recent events proved otherwise, but in some ways, it was as if we had never left. Fond memories of our time at Forks High School and my pivotal discovery of Bella's existence whirled through my mind, the ensuing thoughts and feelings flooding my body as I remembered EVERY SINGLE MOMENT that Bella and I had been together, from when we first met, to our tumultuous moments leading up to my revealing who I was, all through each night I spent with her, watching her as she slept, holding her, kissing her...to the trauma of James' arrival and subsequent impact upon our lives...and beyond that to the bliss that was our life now. My thoughts ended right up to the very last time I had been with Bella less than twenty four hours earlier, when I had accompanied my love to her classes all morning, relishing each and every moment with her, only to be forced to leave early and go hunting with Alice. I smiled as I recollected our last moments together, where I farewelled her outside the cafeteria, the two of us happy and in love and as devil-may-care as any other couple. I was enamoured by her, trapped in our own world where only the two of us existed, and had been especially oblivious to everything and everyone else except Bella since our return. Until now. I gasped in realisation as I recalled the poster that adorned the wall above the doorway to the cafeteria, just as Alice caught up with me.
"Of course! The prom! I will ask her upon my return," I exclaimed out loud, not caring that Alice was privy to my thoughts. Ah yes, the prom. The rite of passage that every human teen male and female is obligated to experience if they wish to have something to reminisce about of their school lives. A rite that I suspected Bella did not want any part of, but an experience that I was determined to give her, even under protest. I did not want my Bella to regret anything in life, for she stood to regret so much already. Meeting me would be something that I knew she would someday regret, so for now, I wanted to give her everything I possibly could to compensate for those things I would never be able to offer her. In short, I wanted her to be as human as possible for as long as was possible...to have as many human experiences as life could offer...and all before it was too late.
Alice's eyes suddenly glazed over with yet another of many visions that she had experienced since our return. All of Alice's visions had been nothing but pleasing of late, which made for an unusual but nonetheless welcome change.
"You can't tell her. She won't agree if you ask her now," Alice said after the vision played through her mind, one of Bella and I arguing about attending whilst standing near her truck. "You know she hates dancing."
"Well, this will require further thought," I said, my mind filled with confusion.
"It would be so much easier if she'd just co-operate. Silly Bella! She has no idea what she will be missing!" she complained in frustration.
"I agree. I don't want her to miss this, Alice. It won't be something she will get another chance to experience."
"Well just pick her up and drag her there...she won't be able to fight you," Alice said, laughing at the notion of me behaving like a Neanderthal.
"I am not going to make Bella do anything against her will," I answered seriously, frowning in disapproval at my sister's suggestion.
"Well, then just don't tell her until the last minute. Then she'll find it harder to say no," Alice suggested, pouting as she spoke and as her idea made its way through my mind, the vision began to change.
"It appears that you may be correct, Alice. I will have to keep Bella guessing as to where she will be going," I said, watching the vision blur and become difficult to see. I suddenly realised that I would also need to discuss this with Charlie in hopes that he would agree to lift Bella's curfew. "I will have to discuss this with Charlie." Finally, a clear picture of me going to the Police station and talking to Charlie flashed through Alice's mind, solidifying my plans.
"Oh, the prom! You're taking Bella to the prom!" she squealed excitedly, clapping her hands as I saw Bella, a vision of loveliness dressed in blue, smiling as I helped her out of my car.
"I guess I am," I replied, smiling widely but at the same time bemused, wondering how I was going to go about achieving the very difficult feat of keeping Bella guessing about where she was going.
"Oh don't worry. We're vampires. Of course we can keep Bella in the dark. We can all meet you there! Now, you'd better get going if you want to talk to Charlie before he gets home from work," Alice said, smiling like a giddy schoolgirl, knowing that she would be helping Bella dress for the event.
The vision meeting with my approval, I took off and ran, heading south and back towards town. "And don't forget...you have to keep this a secret from Bella!" she shrieked as her voice and thoughts faded in the distance. Joy coursed through me unbound, and I pushed through the soft earth beneath me, smiling as I ran. I was excited by the prospect of giving Bella another human experience, one which she would not get another chance to be part of and one that I would be privy to watching her experience.
I arrived at Forks Police Station in record time, elated by the thought that I would be escorting my love to the prom, and opened the door, walking toward Charlie's desk with a sense of trepidation. There he sat, on the phone to Bella, letting her know that he would be home shortly. He gave me a quizzical stare, and I shook my head and waved my hands, silently letting him know that I did not want Bella to know that I was there.
"Well I'll be home in around an hour honey. Bye," he said as he hung up.
"Edward," he said in his usual curt manner as he raised an eyebrow at me, absentmindedly shuffling papers on his desk.
"Sir," I replied, nodding my head respectfully.
"What can I do for you?" he asked impatiently as he cleared his throat. "I'm a little busy at the moment." He did not offer me a seat, and I sensed that he wished me to leave as soon as possible. I had not thought about how I would ask him what I was going to ask, but decided that it mattered not. Like ripping off a bandage quickly, I suspected that getting this over with as expeditiously as possible would be best.
"Sir, with your permission, I would like to accompany Bella to the prom," I said with reverence, my request causing him to cough a little louder this time. As I tried to read his tenor, I realised that his thoughts were beyond possessive.
"Of course you do," he said sarcastically, frowning at me in disapproval.
Ignoring his expression, I pressed on to argue my point further. "I was hoping that you would lift Bella's curfew so that I may escort her, and that you would be so kind as to not tell her of my intentions."
"Not tell her?" he asked, his eyes widened in surprise, focusing on the latter part of my request. "Don't you think that we've been keeping too many secrets from Bella lately?" I nodded quickly, agreeing with his opinion, but wanting more than anything to get Bella to the dance any way I could.
"Yes I do. I don't wish to lie to her any more than you do, but I know that Bella does not like to dance. I also suspect that if I ask her in advance, she may say yes, and then change her mind at the last moment."
"Oh, yes, right," Charlie replied, giving me an amused smile as he nodded his head. He, more than most, knew of Bella's aversion to dancing. "I see your dilemma."
"Yes, sir," I whispered, contrite, waiting for him to decide what to do.
He sighed heavily, his thoughts expressing defeat mixed with a little compassion and irritation, and his smile disappeared. "Edward, I can't say I've been altogether happy about your...attachment to Bella, and what your presence in her life has caused. It's concerning that someone her age to be this involved with one person. I want Bella to experience being a teenage girl in every way possible. You know, to spend time with her friends as well..."
"As do I," I interrupted, sensing his weakening resolve. "All I've ever wanted is to make Bella happy, sir, and for her to have a normal, teenage life. It's what she deserves..." I said, staring over his shoulder at the blank wall behind him briefly, wistfully.
My words and expressive tone of voice made me sound every one of my hundred plus years of age, but I only realised that after they had left my lips. He stared at me with a sense of confusion, my facade dropping enough to make him see me a little more clearly than I was comfortable with. "Well as with all of us teenagers, Bella's friends are important to her just as mine are to me. And of course all of her friends will be attending as well," I added, hoping it made me come off a little more teen-like, the attendance of Bella's friends being a valid argument.
"Well if you'd let me finish, I was about to say that as much as I find your relationship...intense, I know that you only have good intentions, even though they're sometimes a little misguided. You know, Carlisle can be very persuasive when he wants to be," he said, frowning as if he felt like he had been conned.
"I appreciate that, sir," I said as I silently thanked Carlisle once more for him championing my cause.
"Okay, now remember you can call me Charlie," he said softly, smiling at me, his thoughts ones of reluctant acceptance.
"Of course, as you wish Charlie. So does that mean you give your permission?" I asked, unable to hide my mixed emotions of exuberance combined with fear.
"Yes, I give my permission. And thank you for coming to me about this, I appreciate it. You're alright kid," he said as he stood to his feet.
"No, thank you, Charlie. You have no idea what this means to me, and what it will mean to Bella," I said humbly as the plans for the prom began to formulate in my head. As much as Alice's predictions had shown that I would in fact accompany Bella to the prom, I was still elated that I had managed to get Charlie's permission to escort her. Barriers were slowly breaking down between us, and today seemed to help that to occur. I could not be more pleased about that fact. I also noted that he seemed to be more accepting of me and my presence in his daughter's life, and that if I kept working on my relationship with Charlie, things would only improve from here for all concerned.
"Oh, and Edward. Good luck with trying to keep Bella in the dark about this and getting her to the prom," Charlie said, snickering as he picked the paperwork up from his desk.
"I'm sure I will manage something," I said, my mind going into overdrive as I considered exactly how I would achieve such a feat.
"Now if you'll excuse me, I have to finish this paperwork," he said dismissively shuffling the pages in his hands as he waited for me to leave.
"Yes of course. Thank you again, Charlie," I said as I smiled at him and turned toward the door and walked outside, as rain suddenly fell, washing me clean of all my troubles.
Within hours of arriving home from hunting Alice had purchased an Armani tuxedo for me to wear and had selected a stunning dark blue dress for Bella. Every time I saw the vision of Bella in her prom dress, feelings that were foreign to me welled within, threatening to erupt and bring me undone. Feelings that were a mixture of elation, reverence, desire...so many rolled into one that no words could describe them were now a part of my everyday existence...and I was quickly becoming addicted to them. Things were, indeed, falling into place.
Time passed quickly, and no sooner had I secured Charlie's permission to escort his only daughter to the prom, than the day had arrived. Alice had brought Bella to our home, somehow convincing her to come over so that she could help Bella get ready. Of course, she had told Bella that what was happening today was a special occasion, but one that was a surprise. Alice had assured Bella that she had seen visions of today's events and that Bella would be pleased with what was to come. I was quite shocked that Alice had managed to convince Bella to comply with every request she made of her so easily, causing me to wonder what was going on in that confounding mind of hers. I had spent the week wondering what did she thought was going on, and as she had not given any indication to Alice as to what indeed she thought the surprise was, I was at a loss. It didn't stop her from attempting to extract information from me, however, her interrogations becoming more determined, more frustrating as the time wore on.
Up until today, I had spent the entire time playing a game of evasion as she questioned me persistently, and when she became too difficult I would simply tell her I loved her and would kiss her. That, so it seemed, would distract her enough that she would cease her line of questioning and as much as I did not condone the purposeful use of my vampiric talents to manipulate my love, under the circumstances, I saw no other alternative. Charlie had also assured Bella during the entire time in unison with Alice, my family and I, that all was well, so she had no option but to agree to go along with our wishes.
I had spent the morning hunting, during which time Alice had picked up Bella and brought her to our home. With but an hour to pass before we were due to leave, I began pacing back and forth in my room as I listened to music, distracted by the fact that Bella was in the house but not being permitted to see her, less I wanted to feel the wrath of my sister. No matter what I did, nothing soothed me, and what little patience I did possess seemed to be vanishing with rapidity. Nothing would comfort me nor calm me until I had Bella Swan's arm looped in mine as I escorted her to the prom.
"Hey, man, stop with the pacing," Emmett said as he walked through the front door and blurred upstairs until he stood in the doorway of my room. "You're gonna wear a hole in the floor. Rose and I just got back, but the others are all still out." And then, he lowered his voice and whispered under his breath, "I'll try to keep Rose away from the house. She's not exactly jazzed that Bella's here, so I'll keep her in the garage working on the Jeep until you guys leave."
I nodded once, silently thanking him for keeping Rosalie at a distance. My muscles were tense and I literally ached for the next hour to pass. As much as I appreciated the family going hunting to give us some quiet time and to allow us to get ready, it did not relieve the tension that I now felt. I felt my lips curve into a small smile for a brief moment as I realised that any human boy would probably be going through the exact same experiences as he prepared to meet his date for the prom.
"Hey look at you! Anyone would think you're human with how nervous you are now," he said as if he had read my mind.
"Well we all know that's impossible Emmett. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get ready," I growled, and as he turned and headed downstairs, his final thoughts only served to irritate me further.
Yeesh dude, maybe you need to seal the deal with Bella. Then maybe you won't be so uptight and jumpy all the time!
I chose to ignore Emmett's comments, and instead continued to pace as I listened for any sound of Bella's voice or heartbeat. Alice, so it seemed, was keeping Bella extremely quiet, her voice the only one emanating from the bathroom, occasionally punctuated by Bella's moans of complaint and her elevated heartbeat. Whenever Bella protested, Alice would simply tell her that she had no memories of being human, and asked Bella not to ruin her vicarious fun. My sympathies were with my love. This was the first time she had experienced Alice dressing her like a doll, and as Bella was the first human that Alice had gotten her hands on to do so, she was no doubt overwhelmed by the entire experience.
Edward, it's time for you to get dressed and head downstairs. Bella will be ready in ten minutes. Finally!
I sighed heavily, relieved that I was moments away from being reunited with Bella and in a flash, I put on my tuxedo and tied my tie, staring at myself in the mirror as I did so. I brushed off an errant piece of lint from the jacket, and contemplated what had happened up until this very moment. "Thank you," I whispered under my breath as my eyes briefly glanced toward the heavens before I picked up the flowers and pins that Alice had placed on my dresser and turned to leave my room.
I took in a deep gasp and I basked in the glow of her as I watched her walk down the stairs...the goddess before me sent directly from the heavens. She was lovely in the blue off the shoulder dress, the wisps of chiffon and silk accentuating her perfect body, the blue highlighting the glorious tone of her skin and eyes. I had never seen more of her bare skin as I did now, Alice's visions not doing the vision of seeing her in the flesh justice. I swallowed thickly, lost for words as I waited for her to join me, my eyes grazing every inch of her beautiful form. She drew a small breath in surprise and stared seriously at me in return, her puzzled expression slowly turning into an angry stare of suspicion as she said under her breath, "You look nice." I knew why she was upset, but chose to ignore it as I took the flowers and pinned them into her beautiful, elaborately curled hair that ran down her back and over her shoulders in rivulets.
"Oh Bella...word cannot describe...you're breathtaking," I whispered into her ear in broken sentences as I saw the blush creep up over her face, the makeup that she wore unable to hide her reaction. I found myself spellbound by her beauty, and I silently stepped back and took her in, briefly glancing over her bare shoulder as I sensed Alice's presence.
"Thank you," I whispered lowly under my breath as I caught a glimpse of an extremely chuffed Alice, who stood at the top of the stairs staring proudly at the results of all her hard work.
You're welcome. We'll see you there. I have to get ready!
I nodded once and took Bella's warm hand in mine, bringing her arm to loop through my own as I slowly escorted her outside and down the stairs. Though her cast and Alice's choice of shoe hindered her speed, I didn't care. I was so elated that she was in my company now, and that I had gotten her this far, that not even her angered expression was going to dampen my mood.
As I opened the door to the car and helped Bella in, I secretly smiled to myself, knowing that my plan was falling into place. I also realised that it was finally time to reveal the surprise, and the nervous anticipation I now felt was nearly crippling me. I closed the door and took in a deep breath while I blurred to the driver's side. Bella had still not offered a word of question, her anger now rolling off her in waves, and as I started the car and headed down the driveway, she finally opened her beautiful red lips and spoke.
"At what point exactly are you going to tell me what's going on?" she huffed grumpily.
"I'm surprised that you haven't figured it out yet," I said, giving her a mocking smile. In response, her breath caught in her throat. I was pleased that she was no longer keeping her thoughts to herself, and was more than amused that I had confounded her thus far.
"I did mention that you looked very nice, didn't I?" she asked distractedly as it dawned on me that my scent and demeanour had momentarily diverted her attention from her purpose.
"Yes," I said, grinning as I felt her eyes flow over my body. I was in heaven. There was no doubt in my mind about it. I glanced at her, and as her heart began to race, her expression became nervous.
"I'm not coming over anymore if Alice is going to treat me like Guinea Pig Barbie when I do," she complained.
Just as she spoke, my phone rang. I reached inside my jacket pocket and retrieved it, looking briefly at the caller ID before answering. I was somewhat surprised that Charlie was calling and prayed that all was well.
"Hello, Charlie," I said warily as I waited for him to speak.
"Charlie?" Bella said, frowning.
"Edward, I just thought I'd let you know that a boy named Tyler has arrived to take Bella to the prom," he said, his voice filled with confusion.
I felt my eyes widen with disbelief, and a grin spread across my face in realisation.
"You're kidding!" I said, suddenly roaring with laughter.
"Does it sound like I'm kidding?" Charlie replied, and I sensed that he was suppressing a laugh.
Bella's face was suddenly filled with panic and confusion as she demanded, "What is it?"
Oh this was just too perfect. My day was getting better by the minute. After weeks of Bella and I outwardly showing the rest of the school that we were in fact together, that boy still had the nerve to assume that because he did not give Bella the opportunity to say no to him, he was still her date for the prom?
"Why don't you let me talk to him?" I suggested with pleasure. I could not wait to give this boy a piece of my mind, and confirm to him that Bella Swan was indeed mine.
"Okay, sure. I'll put him on the phone," Charlie said as I heard the smile in his voice, then waited for a few seconds for Tyler to speak.
"Hello?" he said, his voice filled with confusion.
"Hello, Tyler, this is Edward Cullen," I said in my most friendly tone, all the while tinging it with menace. As I spoke his name, I saw Bella stare at herself, her eyes studying her dress.
"Oh, hi Edward. What's doing?" he asked nervously as he tried but failed to remain calm.
"I'm sorry if there's been some kind of miscommunication, but Bella is unavailable tonight," I said, dropping my friendly facade.
"Oh really?" he replied, bristling at my manner, trying to push through his nerves with arrogance.
I reacted to his response, wanting nothing more than to make things crystal clear, and to ensure that he understood that his pursuit of Bella, tonight or any other night was unacceptable from this day forward. "To be perfectly honest, she'll be unavailable every night as far as anyone besides myself is concerned. No offense. And I'm sorry about your evening," I said, my voice venomous and devoid of one bit of sympathy as I snapped the phone shut without bothering to listen to another word from that foolish boy. Unable to suppress my satisfied smirk, I put my phone back in my pocket and drove on.
And then, Bella's scent hit me hard as her heart raced and as I turned to look at her, her face and neck flushed, and her eyes suddenly filled with tears. I stared at her with a look of surprise, concerned that I had gone overboard with my tirade towards Tyler, and had upset her.
"Was that last part a bit too much? I didn't mean to offend you."
"You're taking me to the PROM?" she yelled, ignoring my statement. Ah, finally! The penny had dropped! Though I knew she would be upset, I did not predict the force of her reaction, nor had Alice. In fact, Tyler must have decided at the last minute to go to her house, as Alice had not seen him making an appearance there at all. Be that as it may, I was determined to get Bella to the prom and in response I pressed my lips together and narrowed my eyes.
"Don't be difficult, Bella," I said as Bella's eyes flashed to the window, no doubt realising that our journey half way done already. I pressed my foot on the accelerator, errant thoughts of her opening the door and rolling out crossing my mind.
"Why are you doing this to me?" she asked in horror as if she were being tortured. And then, I wondered. What EXACTLY did she think we were going to do?
I gestured my hand to my tuxedo and said, "Honestly, Bella, what did you think we were doing?"
Her faced was filled with mortification and her heart raced. Her blush continued to remain on her face, and the angry tears which brimmed in her eyes finally spilled down her beautiful cheeks. Why wouldn't she tell me what she was thinking? She wiped her tears away quickly before I had the chance to respond, and my patience was wearing thin at the same time.
"This is completely ridiculous. Why are you crying?" I demanded in frustration.
"Because I'm MAD!" she snapped. Oh, how I wished I possessed Jasper's talents instead of my own!
"Bella," I said, turning my glance into an intense stare, willing Bella to calm herself.
"What?" she muttered, suddenly distracted by my talents.
"Humour me," I insisted as I watched for further signs of distress. Instead, to my relief, her heart rate slowed and the fury in her moistened eyes began to subside. I was a manipulative person, there was no doubt about it, but it was important that she calm down.
"Fine," she said, pouting, her adorable face making me want to take her in my arms. I was more than relieved, and felt that the worst was over. "I'll go quietly. But you'll see, I'm way overdue for more bad luck. I'll probably break my other leg. Look at this shoe! It's a death trap!" she whined as she moved her beautiful leg toward me. And as I stared at her leg, my eyes followed the smooth planes of her calf muscle down to the high heeled shoe which had ribbons on the top that wound their way around her slender ankle.
"Hmmm," I moaned. "Remind me to thank Alice for that tonight." My thoughts were digressing as I imagined removing her shoe, taking her foot into one hand and massaging there, while my other hand traced its way up her smooth silken leg...
"Alice is going to be there?" she questioned, surprising me as she so often did, grateful that the subject of our conversation had shifted once more.
"With Jasper, and Emmett...and Rosalie," I admitted, hesitating as I watched for her response to my admission. She shifted in her seat and appeared nervous, but instead of acknowledging my mention of Rosalie's name, she kept the conversation civil and pressed on with another question.
"Is Charlie in on this?" she asked of me, her tone filled with suspicion. Indeed, Charlie was, for without his assistance neither I nor Alice saw this glorious night ever coming about. I hoped that Bella would forgive her father, his role pivotal in the success of this particular evening.
"Of course," I said, grinning at her and then chuckling, trying to keep the conversation light. "Apparently Tyler wasn't, though," I added, attempting to use humour to distract her.
Without a word, Bella gritted her teeth in response and as our journey came to an end, the sun setting through the thinning clouds told me that tonight was just beginning. I could not be more excited.
I killed the engine and got out of the car, approaching her door as quickly as was humanly acceptable, nearly jumping out of skin in anticipation. I held my hand out to take hers and in response, she sat stubbornly in her seat, arms folded, her expression suddenly smug. She knew that I could not forcibly remove her from the car. Not without attracting unwanted attention, as I noticed that the lot was filled with potential witnesses. I could not lose this battle of will. Not here. Not now. Not when I was so close to achieving my goal.
I sighed and said, "When someone wants to kill you, you're brave as a lion – and then when someone mentions dancing..." I said as I shook my head and waited for her to give in.
She swallowed heavily in response, and I that knew that she was still nervous, so I tried to reassure her. "Bella, I won't let anything hurt you – not even yourself. I won't let go of you once, I promise."
I watched her face closely as she considered my statement, and then, to my relief, all the worry seemed to drift from her face as if it were never there in the first place.
"There now," I said gently, "it won't be so bad." I leaned down and wrapped one arm around her waist, taking her hand and lifting her from the car, keeping her securely in my grasp. We were here, and she was a willing participant now, and I could not be a happier man.
I kept my arm tightly around her, supporting her as she slowly limped toward the school and through to the gym. Thoughts of every student invaded my mind as we approached the doorway to heaven, and as we entered, more than one male's thoughts were directed toward how breathtaking Bella was. I fought the urge to react to them, for I knew that I was the luckiest man here, without a doubt, and reasoned that those boys could not help but admire my Bella.
When we got inside, Bella giggled as she took in the sight of the room, the balloon arches and twisted garlands of pastel crepe paper on the walls somehow amusing her, and she remained oblivious to the envious stares of half of the population of the school, while the other half whispered thoughts of lust for her.
"This looks like a horror movie waiting to happen," she said, snickering.
"Well," I muttered as we slowly approached the ticket table. "There are MORE than enough vampires present," I said as my siblings' thoughts invaded my mind all at once.
Well alright Edward! Bella's looking hot! Emmett chimed in. Hope you're prepared for a big night there bro!
Hmmm...well she does scrub up well for an insignificant little human. Rosalie's thoughts were as venomous as ever.
Oh Bella, we're going to be such great friends! I can't wait to dress her again! Alice, as always, was her usual exuberant self.
Well, well, Edward. Your girl is a might pretty one now ain't she? Jasper's drawl was always at its thickest when in the presence of a beautiful girl.
I suppressed a smirk at their combined thoughts, and then made a decision. I would make a concerted effort to push all the white noise into the background of my mind, my intention to spend the rest of the evening focusing all my attention on Bella. I focused on blocking every thought in the room and creating our own little world once more, just as I had done in these past weeks with Bella. I watched Bella as she watched my siblings twirling on the dance floor, and waited for her to speak.
"Do you want me to bolt the doors so you can massacre the unsuspecting townsfolk?" she whispered conspiratorially.
"And where do you fit into that scheme?" I replied, glaring at her in accusation, knowing that she was attempting to find a way to distract me.
"Oh, I'm with the vampires, of course," she said.
"Anything to get out of dancing," I said, smiling reluctantly.
"Anything," she said as I bought our tickets and faced her toward the dance floor, feeling her feet dragging as we approached.
"I've got all night," I warned.
Losing patience, I eventually dragged her to the middle of the dance floor near where my siblings were, Bella watching them in horror as her insecurities about her lack of dancing prowess were written across her glorious face. "Edward. I HONESTLY can't dance!" she said in a whispered panic.
"Don't worry, silly. I CAN," I said reassuringly as I took her arms and put them around my neck, while at the same time I lifted her to slide my feet underneath hers. And then, I felt a rush of exultation as we danced together, the world slipping away as I waltzed with my love around the dance floor. I closed my eyes briefly, imagining that Bella and I were dancing at my prom, in my time, and that my mother was chaperoning us, watching us with pride as we glided across the dance floor...
"I feel like a five year old," she said after a few minutes of silence, laughing in exuberance, breaking through my flights of fancy.
"You don't look five," I said as I clutched her body to mine for a brief moment, the length of her body pressed against me. I let out a low groan in response, luckily so low that Bella would be unable to hear. Of course, someone heard me.
Edward...we are in a public place. Alice caught my eye and smiled at Bella, her thoughts somehow piercing my blockade, causing me to ease Bella back into her previous more publicly acceptable position. Bella smiled at my sister in return...appearing as though she was enjoying our dance. I was elated by that very thought.
"Okay, this isn't half bad," she admitted and just as everything was going wonderfully well, thoughts invaded my mind...thoughts that I did not welcome, but that screamed for my attention. Jacob Black was here, and he was not intending to leave until he had spoken to Bella, his thoughts filled with a tinge of lust as well as embarrassment for being sent here.
Well if you'd been paying attention, you would have seen my vision! But it was very blurred...
"Shutup Alice," I muttered in a low voice.
"What is it?" Bella asked as Jacob appeared in the doorway and headed our way.
I snarled under my breath, trying to remain in control as Jacob approached.
"BEHAVE!" Bella hissed.
I can't believe he's making me talk to Bella. What am I supposed to say? Wow, Bella looks hot! God, what I wouldn't give to...
"He wants to chat with you," I said scathingly as I heard his thoughts digress, hoping that if I spoke out loud he would not continue with them.
"Hey Bella, I was hoping you would be here," he said as he smiled at her and blushed under his darkened skin.
"Hi, Jacob. What's up?" Bella replied warmly as she tried to welcome him.
Well, guess I'd better get this over with. Why on earth did I agree with dad that I would do this? Oh yeh that's right. For a master cylinder!
"Can I cut in?" Jacob asked as he stared directly at me, and I noted that he had grown to my height now after having grown an incredible amount of inches.
I kept my composure, realising that if I did not concede now, that Jacob would only continue to seek out Bella until he had said his piece.
I carefully set Bella on her feet, and took a step back, allowing Jacob his request.
"Thanks," Jacob said amiably. I nodded in response, staring at Bella intently before I turned to walk away, my entire focus on the conversation that was about to take place.
Who the hell is that moving in on my brother's girl?
Who does he think he is? Mauling my best friend like that!
It seems you've got a bit of competition there, Edward. She looks good with a human, doesn't she?
I know that if it was Alice, no way no how would I EVER let that boy near her!
The thoughts of my siblings rocketed through my head, and I chose to push them back once more, closing my eyes briefly and focusing on Bella and Jacob as if they were the only two people in the room.
My fists clenched as I opened my eyes, finding that Jacob had put his hands around Bella's waist, while she reached up and placed her hands on his shoulders. As much as I knew that what they were doing was innocent and more than publicly acceptable, I could not help but feel pangs of jealousy radiate through my body. I truly felt helpless in this situation.
"Wow, Jake, how tall are you now?"
"Six two," he said smugly. As tall as him, Bella.
I watched their body movements, and as they stood in one spot, swaying to the music, I realised that Bella was trying to keep an acceptable distance from him, all the while trying to be civil.
"So, how did you end up here tonight?" she asked him, her tone indicating that she already suspected why.
"Can you believe my dad paid me twenty bucks to come to your prom?" he admitted. Sheesh is all this humiliation worth it?
"Yes, I can," she muttered, confirming that she knew the gist of his visit. "Well, I hope you're enjoying yourself, at least. Seen anything you like?" Bella teased, nodding toward a group of girls lined up against the wall.
Wow, and here's me thinking I was obvious!
"Yeh," he sighed. "But she's taken."
He glanced down to meet Bella's gaze and then they both looked away at the same time, Bella's blush evidence that she knew to whom he was referring. My blood began to boil, and though I knew of Jacob's misguided but genuine feelings for Bella, his expressing them to her out loud made this particular situation all too real...all too difficult to deal with.
She's so hot!
"You look really pretty by the way," he said more sedately. Pretty? Bella was far more than pretty. This boy had the charm and expressive language of a gnat! I inhaled deeply, trying to remain composed as I continued to block out the thoughts of others.
Bella's blush deepened, if that were even possible, causing me to lick my lips with desire. I mentally berated myself from such distractions, focusing once more on their conversation. "Um, thanks. So why did Billy pay you to come here?" she said quickly, no doubt trying to change the subject.
Oh, yeh. THAT. She's gonna think I'm insane, but here goes. He looked away, his eyes briefly glancing at me, before he took a breath and spoke further.
"He said it was a 'safe' place to talk to you. I swear the old man is losing his mind." They both laughed weakly at his statement, and that caused me to tense. As much as I loved Bella, a friendship with Jacob could only complicate things, considering the treaty.
"Anyway, he said that if I told you something, he would get me that master cylinder I need," he said with a sheepish grin.
"Tell me then. I want you to get your car finished," Bella said, grinning at him, her selfless nature never ceasing to amaze me. My body coiled tightly in anticipation of exactly how much Jacob was going to say, but the potential to reveal too much and therefore cause him embarrassment was something that I hoped would work in my favour. I kept my expression serene as I slumped against the wall, and waited. Bella's glance caught mine at that moment as I stared at her beautiful face with intent, her expression one of awkward embarrassment.
"Don't get mad, okay?"
"There's no way I'll be mad at you Jacob," she assured him. "I won't even be mad at Billy. Just say what you have to."
Oh I get it. Say what you have to and leave me alone. Why did I agree to do this? This sucks rocks!
"Well – this is so stupid – I'm sorry Bella – he wants you to break up with your boyfriend. He asked me to tell you 'please'," he said, shaking his head in obvious disgust, irritated that his father had put him up to this.
"He's still superstitious, eh?" she asked with curiosity, trying to force a smile.
"Yeah. He was...kind of over the top when you got hurt down in Phoenix. He didn't believe..."
He didn't believe that trumped up story that you all concocted!
Bella's eyes narrowed in challenge as she said, "I fell."
"I know that," he replied all too quickly, dismissively.
"He thinks Edward had something to do with me getting hurt," she said angrily.
Yeh, and he's been trying ever since to convince me it's true.
Jacob looked everywhere but into Bella's eyes, his awkward embarrassment obvious.
"Look, Jacob, I know Billy probably won't believe this, but just so you know," she said, causing Jacob to look at her, responding to Bella's earnest voice. "Edward really did save my life. If it weren't for Edward and his father, I'd be dead."
"I know," he claimed, his expression still awkward. I hope you're telling the truth, Bella.
"Hey I'm sorry you had to come do this, Jacob," Bella said apologetically. "At any rate, you get your parts, right?"
After I tell you the rest.
"Yeah," he muttered, now upset with what he still needed to tell her.
She picked up on this fact and asked in disbelief, "There's more?"
This is nuts! I can't do this!
"Forget it," he mumbled. "I'll get a job and save the money myself." This was like watching a bad movie or soap opera, and more than anything I wanted to rush to Bella, push that BOY away and take her in my arms.
Bella glared at Jacob, no doubt as fed up as I was with this situation. "Just spit it out, Jacob."
"It's so bad."
"I don't care. Tell me," she insisted.
"Okay...but, geez, this sounds bad," he said, shaking his head. "He said to tell you, no to WARN you, that – and this is his plural, not mine." He lifted one hand from Bella's waist and made quotation marks in the air, and quoted his father verbatim. "'We'll be watching.'" He watched Bella warily for a reaction.
She laughed out loud, her response surprising both Jacob and myself. Oh great. Now she'll take me real seriously!
"Sorry you had to do this, Jake," she snickered.
"I don't mind THAT much," he said, grinning in relief as his eyes raked quickly over her dress. Wow she's the prettiest girl in this room! "So, should I tell him you said to butt the hell out?" he asked hopefully. I knew he was hopeful for more than a positive answer that particular question. He held out hope that she would not only acquiesce with his father's request and break up with me, but also fall under his spell. I hissed lowly under my breath, staring at him with such jealousy that I suddenly fantasised about picking him up and throwing him against the wall, breaking every bone in his six foot two body.
Of course, I remained where I was, knowing that Bella would handle things diplomatically, recalling how well she dealt with members of the Black family last time she encountered them.
"No," she sighed. "Tell him I said thanks. I know he means well," she said as the song ended and she dropped her arms from his shoulders, her actions cueing them to end their conversation. I could not be more relieved that she would be in my arms once more.
Oh, not already! I want to...
His hands stayed on her waist, creating yet another awkward moment. He glanced at Bella's injured leg and said, "Do you want to dance again? Or can I help you get somewhere?"
That was the final straw. I was immediately by her side, needing to hold her once more...needing him to release her. "That's all right, Jacob. I'll take it from here," I said, holding my tongue, wanting more than anything to say so much more.
Jacob flinched in response and stared wide-eyed at me.
"Hey, I didn't see you there," he mumbled. Great. The hero returns. I'm out of here! "I guess I'll see you around, Bella," he said, conceding defeat. He stepped back and waved half-heartedly, causing Bella to smile.
"Yeah, I'll see you later."
"Sorry," he reiterated, apologising to Bella again for the situation he had placed himself in. He turned for the door, his thoughts still digressing to a ridiculous level as he berated himself for showing his face here.
I wound my arms around Bella as the next song started, and I slow danced with my love to an up-tempo song. I didn't care. We were in our own world once more, and nothing else existed except her warm skin, her scent and her beating heart.
"Feeling better?" she teased.
"Not really," I said tersely, the tension still coiled within me.
"Don't be mad at Billy," she sighed. "He just worries about me for Charlie's sake. It's nothing personal." Indeed. Though what she said was correct, I knew that young Jacob Black would very much like to make things...personal.
"I'm not mad at Billy," I corrected in a clipped voice. "But his son is irritating me."
Bella pulled back to look at me, and her eyes took in my serious expression as we suddenly stopped dancing.
"Why?" Why indeed.
"First of all, he made me break my promise."
She stared at me in confusion. She was impervious to his advances, I realised, and that caused me to smile. "I promised I wouldn't let go of you tonight," I explained.
"Oh. Well I forgive you."
"Thanks. But there's something else," I said as I felt my brow crease. I did not want to reveal all of Jacob's errant thoughts, but there WAS something that I needed to correct, so that Bella would know the truth about how truly striking she looked tonight.
"He called you PRETTY," I said, my frown deepening. "That's practically an insult, the way you look right now. You're much more than beautiful."
She laughed in response and said, "You might be a little biased."
"I don't think that's it. Besides, I have excellent eyesight." And I knew that even now, Bella was being watched, adored by more than one male in the room, and though Mike was on the arm of Jessica, his thoughts were still filled with lust toward my Bella. It would seem that Jacob Black and Mike Newton were competing to win first prize to be the most irritating teenage boys in history.
I held Bella and twirled her as we began to dance again, her feet on mine as I held her close, showing Mike in no uncertain terms, that SHE WAS MINE.
"So are you going to explain the reason for all of this?" she asked.
I looked down at my love, searching the depths of her eyes, confused. I needed to be alone with Bella, thoughts of those around me including my siblings pushing through my head once more. We danced past Jessica and Mike, their curious expressions and thoughts filled with lust and jealousy. Jessica waved at Bella, and she smiled at her in return. I realised that those two particular people thoroughly deserved one another. Angela, the only girl among Bella's friends that was truly genuine and kind, looked blissfully happy in the arms of Ben Cheney. I was so happy that Emmett and I had played a small part in getting those two together. We danced past the others, and my siblings all smiled as we twirled past them, and I was so desperate to have Bella alone with me that I danced a little faster than was humanly possible. No-one appeared to notice, to my relief.
And then we were outside in the cool, dim light of the fading sunset, leaving the din of the hoards behind us. As soon as I was certain we were alone, I swung Bella up into my arms and carried her across the dark grounds until I reached a bench beneath the shadow of the madrone trees. I sat down and cradled her to my chest, longing for this day to never end. The moon had already risen, visible through the clouds, and I felt a sudden sadness, my mouth hardening as I looked skyward.
"The point?" she asked, prompting me softly.
I continued to stare at the moon, the sadness overwhelming me now as I realised that every day, Bella would be one step closer to death, one step closer to taking her away from me...until eventually she would leave me behind to spend the rest of eternity living out my existence as if it were hell on earth.
"Twilight again," I said in frustration as reality hit, time suddenly my new enemy, knowing of the sacrifices she would be making to be with me. "Another ending. No matter how perfect the day is, it always has to end."
"Some things don't have to end," she muttered through clenched teeth.
I sighed, knowing her thoughts without having to read her mind, her frustration rolling off her. I pulled my gaze away from the haunting moon and looked into her soulful eyes.
"I brought you to the prom," I said slowly, finally answering her question, "because I don't want you to miss anything. I don't want my presence to take anything away from you, if I can help it. I want you to be HUMAN. I want your life to continue as it would have if I'd died in nineteen-eighteen like I should have," I said wistfully, my words causing Bella to shudder.
"In what strange parallel dimension would I EVER have gone to prom of my own free will? If you weren't a thousand times stronger than me, I would never have let you get away with this," she argued.
I forced a smile, but was anything but happy. "It wasn't so bad, you said so yourself."
"That's because I was with you," she said, her voice honey-like in its tone.
We were quiet for a moment, and I stared at the moon once more, searching every crater for an answer to our situation, feeling Bella's eyes bore into me as I recalled that I had not found out what she thought we were actually going to be doing tonight.
"Will you tell me something?" I asked finally, glancing down at the love of my life with a smile.
"Don't I always?"
"Just promise you'll tell me," I insisted, now grinning at her.
"Fine," she huffed.
"You seem honestly surprised when you figured out that I was taking you here," I began.
"I WAS," she interjected.
"Exactly," I agreed. "But you must have had some other theory...I'm curious – what did you THINK I was dressing you up for?"
She pursed her lips, hesitating, and said finally, "I don't want to tell you."
"You promised," I objected.
"What's the problem?" I said as I stared at her face, searching for an answer.
"I think it will make you mad – or sad," she answered with embarrassment, her blush an incredible shade under the evolving moonlight.
My brows pulled together in worry as I thought. What on earth could have her so concerned that she could not answer my question?
"I still want to know. Please?"
She sighed, and I waited for her answer. "Well...I assumed it was some kind of...occasion. But I didn't think it would be some trite human thing...prom!" she scoffed.
"Human?" I asked flatly. What on earth? And then before I could say anything further, she opened her mouth, effectively silencing me.
"Okay," she confessed in a rush. "So I was hoping that you might have changed your mind...that you were going to change ME, after all."
A dozen emotions invaded me, anger...pain...confusion and from Bella's expression I knew that she sensed what I was feeling. I knew that I had to get a handle on my emotions, so I decided to treat her confession with levity, rather than address it for the serious subject that it was.
"You thought that would be a black tie occasion, did you?" I teased as I touched the lapel of my jacket and grinned.
Bella scowled in response, but her deepening blush showed me her true feelings. "I don't know how these things work. To me, at least, it seems more rational than prom does." I couldn't help but grin further. "It's not funny," she said, those three words bringing me back to reality.
"No, you're right, it's not," I agreed as I felt my smile fade. "I'd rather treat it as a joke, though, than believe you're serious."
"But I am serious," she said. And as misguided as her feelings were, I knew that she was telling me nothing but the truth. Ever since Phoenix, she had not stopped with her line of questioning, constantly asking me why I had not let the venom spread. Realising that it was getting her nowhere, her arguments went from that incident to those of a far more disturbing nature. She would confess that one lifetime was not enough for her to spend with me, her words inviting me to behave in the most deplorable, most selfish manner and change her.
I sighed deeply in response. "I know. And you're really that willing?" I asked as the pain tore through me. Though I knew that she sensed my pain, she just bit her lip and nodded slowly.
"So ready for this to be the end," I murmured to myself, "for this to be the twilight of your life, though your life has barely started. You're ready to give up everything." I knew that no matter what I said now, it mattered not. She had a determined look in her eye, and this saddened me. Why would one such as Bella Swan, with everything in the world to live for, want to sacrifice everything from her life to her soul?
"It's not the end, it's the beginning," she disagreed under her breath. Oh when would she see how wrong she was?
"I'm not worth it," I said sadly.
"Do you remember when you told me that I didn't see myself very clearly?" she asked, raising her eyebrows. "You obviously have the same blindness."
"I know what I am," I said truthfully, and I did not want Bella to become like me, no matter how much my selfish nature desired it.
She sighed in response, our impasse rearing its ugly head once more, causing me to look at her, pursing my lips, my eyes probing the depths of hers. Though I knew it to be a risk, I wanted to hear her say the words, to placate the selfish side of my nature and to see exactly how serious she was.
"You're ready right now, then?" I asked, challenging her to answer truthfully.
"Um." She gulped. "Yes?"
I smiled, knowing that she was no more ready for this than I was in truth, and inclined my head slowly until my cold lips brushed against the skin against the corner of her jaw, her scent calling to me, sending the delicious burn down my throat, a sensation that I knew I would never get my fill of. "Right now," I said as I breathed against her tempting skin, causing her to shiver. Her body then went rigid and her heart raced and her breathing became erratic. Her physical reactions told me in no uncertain terms that she was in fact, not ready.
I chuckled darkly in response and looked at her, a strange feeling of relief combined with disappointment overwhelming me as my heart argued with my mind.
"You can't really believe that I would give in so easily," I said mockingly.
"A girl can dream," she said, causing me to raise my eyebrows in shock.
"Is that what you dream about? Becoming a monster?"
"Not exactly," she said, frowning at me in return. "Mostly I dream about being with you forever," she whispered, and I did not miss the ache, the longing in her voice, for being with Bella forever brought out the exact same feelings within me.
"Bella," I said as I reached up and lightly traced the shape of her beautiful, kissable lips, the ache to touch her too much to bear. "I WILL stay with you – isn't that enough?"
She smiled at me under the touch of my fingertips, her hot sweet breath covering my skin. "Enough for now," she said.
I frowned at her tenacity, realising that neither one of us was going to surrender tonight. I exhaled, letting out a small growl in frustration as I held her closely, wishing more than anything that we could stay like this, here, forever, without the weight of the world upon our shoulders.
Bella reached up and touched my face in return, her eyes filled with so much passion, so much love that it flooded through me as if she had somehow briefly allowed me into her very soul. "I love you more than everything else in the world combined. Isn't that enough?"
"Yes, it is enough," I answered, smiling at my beautiful girl. My Bella. My one reason for existing. My only reason for living. I stared into the depths of those mesmerising chocolate eyes, wanting to lose myself in them for the rest of eternity. "Enough for forever," I murmured as I leaned down and pressed my lips to her warm soft ones, the freesias overwhelming me as I trailed kisses down her glorious throat, our impasse still standing tall between us as I inhaled deeply and lost myself within the love of my existence...
A/N: Well! That was certainly a cathartic experience! Was it good for you too? If I smoked, I think I'd light one up right now LOL! I would really love for you to show me the love, particularly on this chapter, and especially if you've read the whole story to the end WITHOUT REVIEWING! So before you press the X button and leave, please press the review button and let me know what you think. I'd really appreciate it!
ONCE AGAIN, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO SHARE A LITTLE BIT OF MY SOUL WITH YOU ALL. YOU'RE COMMENTS AND SUPPORT HAVE BEEN SECOND TO NONE!
UNTIL NEXT TIME XXXX LISA.