Oh crap oh crap oh crap. Bella was just standing there, like she was comatose or in shock or something. And Edward von Creepenstein was leering at her with what he thought was an innocent expression- all grinning and wide-eyed, but I could spot the predator behind his smile. Whatever the hell he did, I hoped he would at least keep his mouth shut about the imprint, though that didn't seem quite likely. I saw his smile broaden as he listened to my mental freak-out. Shit. What I needed to do was phase back human so I could do damage control. I focused my energy, thought calming thoughts, and…. And that asshole took a step toward my emotionally frozen imprint. Crap. There was no way my wolf was going to let me phase human with my natural enemy this close to my mate. I was trapped. And Edward was still looking at Bella like she was something to eat… which of course is exactly what she is to him. And Bella. Bella was just staring, dumbfounded at Edward's perfect sparkly face. Man how I wanted to rip that sparkly face off.
Come on! Could this really be happening? I glanced from Bella to Edward and back again. She stared at him with such a blank expression I wondered if he were pulling her back to him somehow, if this was all it would take for her to go running back to "her vampire family" as she had referred to them. The pack had sometimes wondered what would happen if the Cullens ever returned to Forks; whether Bella would remain with us or if she would get sucked back into her old life. Leah had been the most cruel about it. "Once a vamp-whore, always a vamp-whore. Isn't that the saying?" Jacob had attacked her for it at the time so I hadn't bothered to try and run her down, but now I was beginning to wonder. If he said the word, would she go running? Back to them? Away from me? While I was trapped in this fucking fur suit and couldn't do shit about it? Come on!
"Bella." Edward's voice grated at my wolf ears, too high, too sharp. Bella just kept staring. "Bella, my love… you look positively statue-like. So beautiful and pale, so radiant. I can imagine you are experiencing quite a shock. Your heartbeat sounds like an army of butterfly wings, my dear. It's okay. Calm down. I'm right here for you."
My legs began to shake as Bella took two slow steps toward Edward, her arm reaching out as if to caress his face. I couldn't help it: a low whine involuntarily escaped my muzzle, a warning, a pathetic sound to my own ears. Bella spared me a glance and then returned her gaze to him, she only had eyes for him and I felt like I was dying. Physical pain began to rip through my body as I watched her move closer to the vampire. Her hand finally reached his face and she grazing his cheekbone with crushing familiarity. "Am I dreaming?" Bella wondered aloud in a small voice, almost as if to herself. "I have got to be dreaming. " My heart sank. This is what she dreamed about? About him? After all this time? "You look just the same," she mused. "After all this time, you haven't changed a bit, have you?"
"No, Bella. You're not dreaming. I really am here. Finally I am here, and I haven't changed at all, Love. I never will." His voice was sing-song and soothing.
"Yep. That's exactly what I thought, you ass-hat." Bella replied flatly, and slapped Edward across his stone face. And just like that my Bella was back. And she was pissed. And funny as hell. Damn, she probably cracked a few bones in her hand with that one, but knowing her, she'd say it was well worth it. I tried to bite back a wolfy laugh, but failed as my nervous energy got the better of me.
"Bella, my dear," Edward's face was frozen in a mask of horror "What has happened to you? The Bella I loved would have never used such language or stooped to the use of physical violence. Is it because you have been living with these creatures? I must say, Bella I had worried about how your scent would affect me after being away from you for so long, but I find it very much altered, indeed. Your scent is quite like these dogs who you insist on befriending with such absurd regularity and complete disregard for your own safety."
"What happened to me?", Bella fumed. "What happened to me was I grew up! The 'Bella you loved' was a person who never existed. The person who was so afraid to say anything for fear of falling short of your unattainable expectations, the person who blindly followed, who constantly allowed herself to be talked into what she didn't want and out of what was most important, that Bella grew up. And I'm what is left. Just this." Bella shrieked, arms out, gesturing toward herself.
"And the fact that you feel that you have the right to comment on how I smell… that just …did no one ever teach you any manners? You are exactly like a seventeen year old boy! Maybe you are a hundred year old seventeen year old boy, but you are still just a boy."
"Bella, my dear. I know that it might seem like these years make a difference to you right now, but I assure you, once you are back with our family, once you have become like us you will see how these few years we have been apart really are nothing, they mean nothing at all. "
Bella stepped back, looking at Edward in a completely new light. "You want me to come back with you? Back to the family?"
"Of course, my Bella. Of course. That's why I came all this way. You don't belong in an establishment like this, sharing rooms with a dangerous creature like the one before us. Your life should be with me. I can give you everything, anything you could ask for."
And he was right. He could. I'd seen the bank account of money he'd given to her already. That was just petty cash.
Bella looked up at him with an unreadable expression. "Everything I could ask for, but nothing I wanted. You could give me anything I could ask for, but I never wanted any of it, and what I did ask you for, those few things, you denied me and shamed me for wanting in the first place."
"Really, Bella! I wanted to give you things, beautiful things! I wanted you to have clothes that suited you, a car that was safe and lovely, I want you to have a beautiful life, a home that.."
"-I have a home, Edward! I have a home! And I didn't want your expensive clothes and fast cars, but you couldn't understand what I wanted!"
"Yes, I know very well what you wanted. You wanted sexual satisfaction, and you couldn't comprehend why I was unwilling to sully your reputation because of the immoral times in which you live." Edward's face was tight and controlled, but the look of disgust on his face was impossible to miss.
"Sexual satisfaction? Damn, Edward! What do you think of me? I was looking for physical affection and you made me out to be a whore…. A view that has clearly not changed much. Believe it or not, you can be affectionate without 'fornicating' as you loved to put it."
"I'll have to take your word for it, Bella, as you seem to now be the expert on such matters," Edward sneered.
"Holy crap, Edward! What did you expect? You left me. You LEFT ME! You told me you never loved me, that I should live my life… did you expect me to live a life of chastity I never believed in to satisfy the memory of a boy who never loved me?" Bella was shaking her head, disbelief clear on her face. I could understand that. The vamp had some nerve.
"Bella, I never stopped loving you. You must believe me, my love, you must! When I spoke those words to you, it was the blackest of lies. It hurt to see just how easily you could believe that lie when I had uttered the true words of my love so many times before. Just the one lie was so much easier for you to swallow than the truth. I wanted you to live life. Without me, without the supernatural element haunting your every step. I see now that I was wrong to ever leave you, that you've gone and associated yourself with the very worst type of monsters. You must come with me Bella, I beg you. I beg you to let me make everything right."
"You left me… because you love me? And you still love me? Wow. Wow. That just….. sucks for you. I mean, you never change, right? And when we were together, when I was begging you to change me, I would have been frozen in time forever in love with you. But you wouldn't listen to me. You completely disregarded my feelings, my opinions. I was just a human. I couldn't possibly know what was best, right? Well… now I have grown, and changed. I have a new family. And apparently a disgusting new scent to go with it. It looks like you really blew it, Edward. I mean, I'm sorry. It sucks to think that you are stuck being in love with a girl who no longer exists, but that was your choice, and you have no one to blame for it but yourself."
Finally, Bella turned and walked toward me, burying her hands in the scruff around my neck. "Come on, Seth. I'm exhausted. And apparently I stink, so maybe I'll go grab a quick shower before bed." And just like that, Bella turned her back on Edward and walked away. I enjoyed her hands buried in my fur too much to let her walk away from me, so I followed along like the hopelessly lost puppy that I am. I did spare a glance over my shoulder for Edward, but all I saw was a slightly silvered blur in the moonlight heading away toward the dessert. Just like that he was gone. Hopefully this time he would stay that way.
Bella led me back into the motel room and headed for the shower, Meanwhile I phased back human and dug out some non-shredded clothing to wear. I was too jazzed from the crazy events of tonight to go to sleep yet and figured Bella was probably just as wired. As she came out of the bathroom all steamy damp dressed in fresh PJ's she yawned and climbed onto the bed next to me.
"That was some weird shit, tonight Seth."
I laughed at her simple understatement. "You think so?"
"I guess we know why you were sleep-phasing, now. That's good. I was worried it was like a wolfy equivalent of a wet dream or something gross like that," Bella said, doubling over with laughter. "Like maybe you were dreaming there was a deer running through the woods and you just couldn't wait to sink your teeth into it." There were tears sliding down her face now. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm just feeling a little punchy. You know. Stress, lack of sleep, unexpected sighting of undead ex-boyfriend." Bella started cackling again. She was so goofy when she got like this.
"You know what was really weird, though Seth?" Bella asked, becoming serious again. I couldn't imagine what in this situation wasn't weird and said as much.
"Was there one bit of weirdness that stuck out to you more than the just regular weirdness of the night?"
Bella hit me with a pillow, which I grabbed from her hand and stuffed behind my back after flashing a big grin.
"You know that thing Edward said, about how I smell bad?"
"Bella, you do not smell bad. You smell fantastic. You smell just as great as you always have. You just happen to hang out with a lot of werewolves." I jumped in to reassure her before she could start to worry about something crazy. But of course, Bella surprised me like Bella always seemed to.
"Well, the weird thing is, Jacob said something really similar to me not to long ago. It just seems odd because I would have thought it was just from hanging around you guys too, but then why would Jacob notice?"
"I don't know, Bella. What did he say?" Shit shit shit shit…. I knew where this was headed…
"He said I smelled kind of like a wolf, but not like a real full wolf. And not like wolf scent rubbing off on my clothes from our laundry in the same hamper or something. He said it smelled almost like I was mated to him or something, but that he couldn't really get why that would be because that's usually just something that happens with imprints… That their natural scent changes somewhat to attract both the wolf and the man. And I'm obviously not Jacob's imprint" She looked up at me then, brown eyes all wide and confused. And beautiful. No, she was sooo not Jacob's imprint, I thought as I stared back at her questioning face.
"Obviously." I answered