Bonne Foi – BPOV – Chapters 22-24

For Amelia, who won this piece and requested this part of the story for her outtake. Sorry I was such a slowpoke, babe.

I thought confronting my boyfriend with my suspicions of vampirism would be the weirdest part of my day – the weirdest part of my life, actually – but apparently, I had become a magnet for weird.

Edward was a vampire. A vegetarian vampire. Who sparkled. And his creator and her psycho boyfriend had nearly run us off the road and could have very well eaten me alive.

By comparison, meeting the Cullens seemed like a wonderful reprieve. They were all so human by comparison. The town doctor and a bunch of high-schoolers? Yeah, not my worst nightmare come to life. Even Edward, whom I trusted with my life and loved beyond reason, had an edge about him that the Cullens lacked, a wall that kept him from the rest of the world. Meeting the Cullens would be a cake walk.

Or so I thought, until we were pulling up their driveway.

"Good lord." I felt the ridiculousness of my facial expression but couldn't change it. "I know it's a doctor's house, but…wow. Are all you vampires filthy rich or what?"

Edward gave his predictable, nonchalant shrug in response to my awe. "Immortality gives one a lot of time to make money, and very little to use it on."

I wondered for the thousandth time since I'd begun to suspect what he was if I might one day be so cool and unsurprised by the world if he made me like him. Could I ever be that comfortable in my own skin?

"I feel underdressed now," I sighed, knowing that I would feel even more ridiculous in a room full of vampires. With all their beauty and wealth and grace, surely they would find me absurd.

Edward just laughed. "You look overdressed to me." And I smiled because I could always count on him to say something inappropriate to distract me.

My car door opened suddenly, and I jumped, panicked scenarios flying through my mind – James and Victoria had found us, one of the Cullens wanted a snack after all – before I realized it was just Edward standing there.

"You're going to give me a heart attack one of these days," I complained, struggling out of the bucket seat; I really hated his car sometimes. Edward smirked and took my arm, compensating for my shaky legs as we headed for the porch. He was having way too much fun playing the vampire for me. Maybe I should have kept quiet and made him pretend to be human a bit longer.

Alice Cullen was waiting at the door for us. She hadn't changed a bit since I'd last seen her in May, and that surprised me, even though it shouldn't. Even her haircut was exactly the same. It struck me in that moment just how solidly unchanging vampires were. Decades could pass, and Alice Cullen would still look exactly like this, with crazy, spiky hair and a perfect, porcelain face. It was all the more amazing, given that thought, that Edward had changed so much since we'd met.

"Edward, Bella!" Alice cried. I half expected her to throw her arms around us. "I'm so sorry I didn't see it sooner. One minute, everything was fine, and the next, he was going after you. I have no idea what changed so suddenly…"

"He caught our scents," Edward said flatly. I glanced from his clenched jaw to Alice's wide eyes and gathered that this was indeed very unusual.

"From a moving vehicle?"

Edward nodded. "He could smell a vampire and a human together in a car, and that made him curious. He took it as a challenge and decided to try to get Bella away from me."

Though the conversation was significant, I couldn't get past my distraction at the way Edward and Alice interacted. It was odd to see the most important person in my life having a serious conversation with someone I'd gone to high school with as though they'd known each other for years. And yet, he knew Alice better after a few weeks than I did after a few years, and she understood him in a way that I simply couldn't while I was human. Any twinges of jealousy or loneliness that I felt at this revelation were restrained by how very surreal the moment was.

"Ugh, barbarians," Alice said, wrinkling her nose. It took me a moment to catch up with the conversation and realize she was talking about James and Victoria. "Bella, come on inside," she urged me. "I'm sure you've had quite a fright this evening."

"Just a little," I admitted. Alice grabbed my arm like it was the most natural thing in the world and towed me into the living room. I felt an unexpected pang of anxiety when I lost my grip on Edward's arm, but it was replaced by a different kind of anxiety when I saw the three vampires lounging on sofas.

Alice gestured at them. "You remember Emmett, Jasper, and Rosalie, of course." Jasper nodded at me and then returned to an eerie stillness. Rosalie and Emmett were on a loveseat together, inseparable, which was just as I remembered. Emmett grinned, all dimples, and Rosalie's cold beauty was as terrifying as ever, especially when she was glaring at my boyfriend like she wanted to douse him in acid. Well, maybe not acid – would acid have any effect on a vampire? They were sort of rock-like, and a strong acid could dissolve rocks –

Alice yanked me onward, through another door. We were entering a kitchen. "Carlisle is at the hospital, but his shift will be over soon. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to see you again. And this is Esme."

I knew I was staring, but I couldn't help it. Esme was the only one of the Cullens I hadn't seen before, and it took a moment to fully digest how impossible such beauty was. But with Esme, there was a little something else…she had that air about her, like the teacher who always got gifts from her students or the matron everyone went to for advice. That motherliness that made you want to spill your guts and have a good long hug.

I shook myself out of my thoughts. Vampires were making me go batty, clearly.

"I'm so pleased to meet you, Bella," Esme said, smiling benevolently from across the countertop. "I was just making some tea; would you like some?"

I blushed, realizing she wasn't 'just making' tea. This was all for my benefit, an act to make the human feel more comfortable. I wished they would just behave as usual; I'd feel much more comfortable acting like a human around them if they didn't call so much attention to it. But I wasn't about to say any of that, so when I opened my mouth, all that came out was, "That would be great, thanks."

"Why don't you come into the kitchen and sit for a spell? You must be rather shaken after tonight," Esme urged. I reached for Edward, missing the comfort of his hand and nervous because I didn't feel shaken and I worried it would all hit me at once. I needed him to anchor me, just in case.

"Are you all right?" Edward's quiet voice asked. I smiled a little, mostly at the look of concern he wore. Edward's feelings didn't often translate to facial expressions.

"Fine," I said, mostly convinced it was true.

"My brave little human," he whispered with a little smile, running his thumb over the edge of my hand. I ducked my head, still overwhelmed by the new level of affection Edward had begun to show since our temporary break-up.

"Please, have a seat," Esme said, pulling me back to the present, and we sat at the small kitchen table. The shiny finish was unmarred, and I imagined the table had rarely, if ever, been used.

Esme presented me with the cup of tea, and as I began to sip it, I realized how much I'd needed this, or something like it. A moment of calm and normalcy after this crazy day.

Edward sat quietly while I chatted with Esme. Talking to her was incredibly easy, and I was grateful that she didn't bring up any of the day's drama. I didn't think I was overly traumatized, necessarily, but my brain had been running at full speed for most of the day, and it needed the break.

After less than an hour, I felt my eyes begin to droop, and to my utter humiliation, I let out a huge yawn in mid-sentence. Evidently, the day was catching up with me.

"Is there somewhere she could sleep?" Edward asked for me. I decided I was too tired to put up a fight.

Alice appeared like a magical bedtime fairy godmother. "We have a room all ready for you two." Again, she took me by the hand and led me away. Maybe she was always this presumptuous with new acquaintances, being a psychic and all. Still, it was unsettling when, two flights of stairs later, she let us into a fully prepared room.

"Here you are," Alice tittered. My eyes traveled over the gigantic bed, a vanity lined with cosmetics, a closet with double doors. "I was expecting you both to visit, so we put this room together for you. There are clothes in the closet and the dresser, and the bathroom is stocked with everything you might need."

I shook my head, overwhelmed. "This is…too much…"

"This is just what she does. You may as well give in," Edward said indulgently. He found her antics amusing, I realized, and the way he looked at her could be something like brotherly affection. It wasn't something I was very familiar with as an only child, but the description fit.

"I like you; you learn fast," Alice grinned. "Well, I'll leave you to settle in."

"Thanks, Alice," I said as she breezed out of the room. Edward gave her a little nod, and it occurred to me to wonder if he was reacting to something thought rather than said. His world must be so different, hearing every thought in the vicinity. I felt a surge of gratitude and something like pride that my mind was silent to him, that I could offer some measure of peace, perhaps.

My sleepiness returned as the shock of our new bedroom wore off, and I went over to the dresser to find something to sleep in. I opened the top drawer first, not sure what I was expecting, but what I found certainly wasn't it. As soon as I realized what I was seeing – piles of scanty lingerie, some of which I wasn't even sure how to wear – I slammed the drawer shut.

"What is it?" Edward asked. I shook my head, too embarrassed to speak. Alice had bought all that for me, which implied a certain expectation of me putting it on, presumably for Edward, and that was just…no.

Edward eased the drawer open, and I saw the slow smile spread across his face. "You'd look good in the corset," he said, his eyes sweeping contemplatively over my body. I hid my face in my hands, thinking about all those vampires downstairs hearing this conversation.

"Perhaps just these? You will need underwear eventually," Edward said, and I reluctantly looked to see what he was holding. A silky bra and matching panties. They were tame in comparison to the rest of the drawer, but Edward's eyes held a hint of excitement, regardless. Normally, I loved that look on his face, but tonight, when we had an audience? Not a chance.

I took the underwear because he was right, I would need it, but that was where I drew the line. "Help me find something to sleep in, please?"

He shrugged compliantly and opened up the second drawer, from which he pulled out a relatively modest pajama set. I took them from him and made the quick decision to change in the bathroom. Getting naked in front of Edward was just asking for trouble.

"Where are you going?" he asked as I headed for the door, proving my point.

"To change in the bathroom," I told him. "I know what you'll want to do if I take off my clothes in here, and I'm not doing that with a bunch of vampires around to hear every little thing."

I could feel the disappointment pouring off him, but I stayed strong and barricaded myself in the bathroom. A ridiculously nice bathroom, I discovered, looking around. I could sort of see the need for a household of vampires to have a nice shower…but was a self-flushing toilet ever necessary?

Still, after I changed, I was grateful to find the drawers stocked with toiletries. While I brushed my teeth, my thoughts tentatively turned to the situation with James and Victoria. The encounter had been terrifying enough, watching Edward fight for me, especially when they moved too fast for me to tell what was happening. But the trouble was hardly over, and I realized my shoulders were tense with fear. They would come for us, and I had a feeling they'd be more than happy to take out anyone in their way, human or vampire. It was bad enough they were in town at all, but what if they went after my dad? What if any of the Cullens got hurt trying to help us? What if Edward…?

The worst part was, it was my fault. I had insisted on coming to Forks. If I we had stayed put like Edward wanted, we wouldn't be in this mess. The most important people in my life wouldn't be in danger right now.

I pushed away that thought and rinsed out my mouth. I couldn't, wouldn't, let Edward be hurt.

I headed back to our room, more than ready to curl up with Edward and pretend everything was fine. When I walked in, however, I found him standing by the dresser with a change of clothes. He pulled his shirt off like he'd been waiting on me, and I felt a surge of annoyance.

"You totally could have changed in half the time it took me," I pointed out, doing my best to ignore his well-defined torso.

Edward shrugged, popping the button on his jeans. "You didn't want to tempt me, but you never said I couldn't tempt you." He pushed his jeans and boxers to the floor, presenting himself to me in all his naked glory. I turned away abruptly.

"You're incorrigible." I climbed into bed, curling up on my side and wishing just a little that he could read my mind right now and see what I needed from him.

All of the sudden, he was there, dressed and spooned against my back. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."

Upsetting me. I snorted. "So basically, you're not sorry for trying to persuade me into sex; you're just sorry it didn't work."

"Basically," he said, his typical blunt self. "Do you really expect me to apologize for wanting you? I thought that was something you were usually pretty happy about."

I hated when he was right. "It just feels wrong to even think about sex right now."

"Why?" he asked. He really didn't know.

"Because, Edward," I explained, "people are in danger…you, me, my dad, the Cullens…the whole town! You were right; we shouldn't have come. I couldn't help after all; I've only made things worse."

Edward sighed into my hair. "Bella, you know this isn't your fault. You couldn't see what would happen; even the psychic didn't see it." He paused. "Maybe it's my fault for telling you the vampires were headed here. You'd be sleeping peacefully tonight if I hadn't."

"And you'd be in a whole world of trouble when I found out you'd kept it hidden from me," I argued, realizing we were both having private pity parties tonight. "I just wish there was a way to undo it all. I don't even want to think about what happens now, but I have to. They're going to come after us, aren't they?"

"Not here, they won't," he said darkly. "They're outnumbered, even if the third decides to side with them. They would never risk attacking a house full of vampires."

That only made me feel marginally better. "But we can't stay here forever…what happens on Sunday when we have to leave?"

Edward's arm tightened around my middle. "We're not leaving one second before it's safe for you; your life is more important than your classes or your job." I scowled. "But even so, we'll come up with a plan, some way to resolve this quickly."

"And you'll do that while I'm asleep, I suppose," I grumped.

"Bella, this is –"

"Don't, please." I turned to look him in the eye, needing him to take me seriously. "I know you're going to say something about this being more important than my need for independence, but I have to help somehow. You said that vampire wants to hurt us both – you can't ask me to sit at home and cross-stitch while you're trying to protect me. I love you too much to do that."

He looked back at me with uncharacteristically tender eyes. "I wish I could give you what you want, but Bella, this isn't some backward fairytale. No amount of willpower is going to make it possible for you to ride in and save the day. You simply don't have the necessary weapons…you don't even have the slightest defense against them…"

He was right, again. I was nothing but a weak little human.

"But I could…" I argued, thinking aloud. "I could have those things…if you changed me, made me like you. Then I would be strong and fast, and the vampire would have no reason to touch me."

I was right, I knew I was. James was after me for my blood; he'd have to give up once that was gone. And if it kept the people I loved safe, then it was a worthwhile sacrifice.

Edward pulled back, and my heart hurt with the sudden sting of rejection. "Bella…you don't know what you're asking."

"Then explain it to me. Don't you want me to be like you?" After everything, could he still be so unsure of me?

Edward sat up, running his fingers through his hair. It hurt even more to see him so frustrated, so undecided.

"What I want is irrelevant," he said slowly. "If you truly wanted to be a vampire, then I wouldn't deny you. But not now. You're afraid and you're not thinking clearly. Do you realize what you'll have to give up with your humanity? You'll no longer be able to see your human friends, your family. Even if you can conquer your bloodlust, they will see the difference. Eventually, they will realize you're not aging. You will have to let them go…and they will all die, while you live on. I know you don't see children in your future, but even the option to adopt would be gone once you were a vampire. If you chose this life, Bella…everything would change for you."

I digested his words, realizing he'd probably thought about this much more than I had. I'd considered only the positive ramifications, but he saw everything. He was thinking of what was best for me. What he hadn't said was what he wanted, though, and that was what I most wanted to know.

"You're right," I admitted. "I wasn't thinking about the consequences. But you didn't answer my question, Edward. Do you want me to be a vampire?"

He closed his eyes, and I waited breathless for his answer. I wanted forever with him. Did he want it, too?

"Bella…I don't know. I…love you as you are, and I would love you as a vampire. That's all I know."

I could feel the effort it took for him to say that much. Edward was still new to love, to caring about another person at all, and I was leaping too far ahead. Just because he'd grown so much didn't mean he had caught up yet. As impatient as I was to have it all, right now, I had to give him time to catch up.

I drew myself up behind him and wrapped my arms around his shoulders, knowing he would understand the physical gesture more than anything I could say right now.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I'm pushing again, aren't I?"

He pulled me effortlessly into his lap. "You shouldn't have to apologize for that."

I shook my head, sensing how much he wanted to be on the same page as I was, and I kissed the nearest part of him, the edge of his jaw. "But it doesn't matter now, right? Everything will be fine, and we'll have plenty of time to think about this later."

"That's right. We'll have plenty of time when this is over." He needed convincing as much as I did. It was easy for me to get lost in his stoic confidence, but I knew better by now, or at least I should. I'd been so busy worrying that I hadn't stopped to think he might be as scared as I was underneath the stone façade. Perhaps he'd needed comfort from me all along and hadn't known any way to reach for it other than coaxing me into sex.

I kissed him soundly, my beautiful, emotionally stunted vampire. "Plenty of time," I reassured us both in a whisper against his mouth. I moved my lips urgently, pushing my tongue against his lower lip, needing to be what he needed. His arms were tight around me, and I knew a kiss wouldn't be enough.

I pulled back with difficulty, meeting his eyes. "I think I changed my mind."

"About what?" Edward asked, obviously not at all on the same wavelength.

I tensed. This was the last chance to turn back. No, I was going to do this, vampires downstairs be damned. Steeling myself, I pulled my pajama top over my head. The way his eyes raked over me made me feel bold.

"I need to feel close to you, and I don't care who's listening." Just let those vampires stick that in their pipe and smoke it.

"Come here," Edward said, low and gravelly, but he came to me, throwing me back to the bed. Dazedly, I registered the burn of his lips on mine, the tingle-inducing brush of his cotton T-shirt against my taut nipples. The rest of the world faded away, and I scrambled to pull away his shirt, needing his skin. He yanked it off quickly, and then his lips were on my neck, teasing all the sensitive places. He kissed his way down to my breasts, and my clit throbbed painfully as he sucked a nipple into his mouth. Then he was instantly at my other breast, circling the tip with his tongue. My body went weak, and I struggled to understand how he could still do this to me, how I never grew desensitized.

"Take – take your clothes off." The demand came more from my body than my head. "I need to feel you."

He groaned and was up and naked and back in the space of one breath. I reached out to touch his solid abdomen, a quick stop on the way to his rigid cock, but he slipped away too fast. Settling back at my feet, he pulled away first the pajama bottoms, then the panties I'd put on mere minutes ago.

"You should really consider wearing more of that lingerie." He ran his hands up my legs, setting off electric currents. "It's so much fun to take off."

I laughed, more out of giddiness than amusement. My brain was barely functioning. "What's the point of wearing lingerie if I'll never be able to keep it on?"

"To drive me crazy." His lips ran up the inside of my left thigh. I trembled. "And make me want you more than I can stand…"

"Well, I wouldn't want – oh!" The point of his tongue touched my clit, a quick spark, and I lost whatever thought I was working on. "Never mind. I do want."

He chuckled, a purr of vibration against my tender skin. His tongue swirled around my clit, making me weak and hot through every party of my body – every part except my sex, where I was tight and swollen and aching. He slipped two fingers inside me, and I let out the moan I'd been holding in. He was there only a moment before he crawled up my body instead.

"C'mere," I breathed, so ready to have him. I placed my hands on his face and urged him to me. Our mouths joined, open and searching, and he pressed inside of me. I gasped, always shocked at the feel of him, thick and long and cold inside of me. My body welcomed him eagerly, clutching, coaxing him deeper.

"Bella," he moaned, rocking slightly against me, pulling away only enough to make the return blissfully sweet. His face relaxed with pleasure, and his eyes roamed over me half-closed.

"Yes, Edward." I wrapped my arms around him, needing more contact. "Closer…deeper."

Edward nuzzled my shoulder and slid his hands beneath me, holding me to him. I couldn't remember a time when we'd been this close making love. The feel of so much of his skin on mine was intense. He took me in shallow thrusts, pressing again and again at the deepest part of me. I floated in a hot haze while my orgasm built slowly and powerfully. I clutched my arms and legs around him as if I could somehow get him any closer. I lost myself in the feel of him and the smell of him, pressing my face into his hair, sliding my hands over the ridges and planes of his back.

My orgasm came out of nowhere, sneaking up so suddenly that I only had time to bury my face in Edward's shoulder before my body seized with pleasure. I muffled my cry in his shoulder, and I was still shuddering against him when he came with a long moan.

He was very still afterward, continuing to hold me against him. Usually he was quicker to recover than I, so I relished the moment, running my fingers through his rumpled hair. It was still hard to believe he was really mine.

After a few minutes, he let out a soft breath and rolled onto his back with what looked like great effort.

"Maybe you needed that more than I did after all," I laughed. The space between his arm and his body was open for me, as usual, and I nestled into his side happily. Without hesitation, he pulled the covers over me, and I sank into the familiar comfort.

"I think you're right," Edward agreed, sounding tired for the first time since we'd met.

"I love you," I said, hoping the coming events wouldn't cause him to pull away. "Remember that."

He was quiet, unresponsive, but I decided not to let it get to me. He had a lot on his mind.

"Mmm, okay. Now I'm really tired," I yawned, way too tired to keep thinking about anything. "It's been…one long day."

I felt Edward nod. "Yes…yes, it has."

It took only minutes for me to fall asleep.

When I woke, it was still dark, and I was alone. That alone didn't worry me; I'd expected Edward to spend my sleeping hours with the Cullens. As I became aware of my surroundings, however, I heard voices conversing downstairs, and not all of them were familiar.

Curious, and admittedly a little uneasy away from Edward, I put my pajamas back on and crept down the two flights of stairs to the living room. Getting closer, I thought the new voices sounded somewhat familiar, almost like…Jacob Black? But there was no way he could be visiting the Cullens at this hour.

At the bottom of the stairs, I saw Edward, and only Edward, because he was blocking the view of the rest of the living room. But the vibe here was definitely tense.

"Edward?" I ventured. "What's going on? I thought I heard –"

Edward erupted in a sudden flurry of movement, sinking into a defensive crouch before me, and over his head, I saw the visitors.

There were four of them, all barefoot, and the three boys were shirtless. But that wasn't the weirdest part.

"Jake? I thought I heard your voice. Leah, Seth? Sam? What are you doing here?" It was like a Quileute tribal meeting in the Cullens' living room. Had someone been hurt on the reservation? One of Charlie's friends? …Had the vampires attacked there?

"What are you doing here?" Jake asked, and I got the distinct feeling this wasn't an emergency, especially given the way every single person in the room stared at me.

"You know them?" Edward asked, urgent, and it finally occurred to me to wonder why he'd moved as if to protect me when I'd walked in. Wait, why hadn't any of the visitors reacted to Edward's speed? The only explanation was that he believed the reservation rumors that the Cullens were somehow dangerous and supernatural. I'd thought they were all crazy until recently.

"Well, yeah. My dad is friends with practically everyone down at La Push…"

No one was answering me, and I began to get frustrated. Something was definitely amiss. "Seriously, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? Is someone hurt or something?"

"It's a long story," Jake said, and he took a step toward me. All the vampires, save Carlisle and Esme, seemed to go on high-alert at his movement. Edward stood tense as a guitar string in front of me. What was going on?

Jacob was either unaware of or unconcerned by the severe tension in the room. "Does Charlie know you're here?"

What? All this, and Jacob's main focus was whether my dad knew of my whereabouts?

"No," I snapped, "he does not, nor does he need to. I am a legal adult."

Jacob stepped toward me again, which struck me as a stupid move, given the initial reaction to his approach. This time it was twice as bad, with all the vampires in the room orienting around me – like they needed to protect me from him. Edward even nudged me back a step.

"Edward? What's going on here?" I asked.

"The boy thinks you're not safe here." His voice was a low rumble, revealing the anger bubbling beneath his cool exterior. And just like that, I was angry, too.

"Jacob! I thought you knew better than to go along with your father's stupid prejudices!"

"Stupid prejudices?" Jacob said, his voice menacing, and I felt a tingle of fear down my spine. "If you knew what they were –"

"If you knew what they really were, you'd realize how wrong you are!" I retorted. How dare he insult the Cullens in their own home, especially when they'd done nothing but help this town?

The next few moments were more surreal than anything else I'd encountered today.

Before my eyes, Jacob began to shake, thoroughly vibrating where he stood, and I knew something was very, very wrong. This wasn't something medical, not a seizure. This could only be supernatural.

"Get back," Edward ordered me, sinking in front of me again, snarling like an enraged, wild animal. I'd never seen him this way before, but I wasn't afraid, not when he was the one thing standing between me and whatever was going on with Jake.

There was a sudden burst of color. I saw scraps of denim go flying, and then…then, where Jacob had stood less than a full second ago, a gigantic wolf appeared, its huge teeth bared at Edward and me.

I had only time to gasp before the room exploded in motion again. Alice appeared beside me. Carlisle and Jasper were no longer where they stood a moment ago. And then I heard it, a resounding crash like thunder, just before I saw Edward locked in a death-hold with the wolf.

Panic swelled inside me at the horrific sounds their fighting made – screeching like nails on a chalk board, vicious growls, floorboards breaking. This couldn't be happening. Not Edward. Nothing could happen to Edward. I wouldn't survive it.

As suddenly as the fight began, it stopped. Carlisle and Jasper held Edward away from the furious beast, and where Sam, Seth, and Leah had been, now three more wolves stood, herding the first out of the house. Four wolves were four humans had been, and one of them tried to attack me.

"Edward?" It was the only word I could find, but it worked magic. He was there instantly, holding me in a tight embrace, and I could feel that he was solid and whole. He was safe, and I was safe, and now, if I could just find out what was going on, I would be okay.

"Edward, what just happened?" I ran it over in my mind, and couldn't believe my own conclusions. "Are they – are they werewolves?"

"…Yes," he answered, confusion in his voice. "Perhaps someone else should explain? I'm not very familiar with them."

And so I stood clinging to Edward while Carlisle informed me that Charlie's buddies down at the Rez really were wolf-warriors built to protect their tribe from vampires. As a matter of fact, they got a real kick out of it.

"They won't – they won't try to hurt Edward, will they?" Of course, he was my first thought. My fingers sort of hurt from how hard I was holding onto him, but I couldn't stop myself. He pulled me in closer.

"The wolves have never harmed any of our guests, even those friends of ours who do not share our diet," Carlisle said, and even after all the medical diagnoses he'd offered me, I was not immune to his calm and soothing voice. "As long as we stay on our side of the boundary line, they will keep the peace. Incidents like the one we've had tonight are…rare."

Rare, but not impossible. "And if one of them loses it again?" I asked, remembering the way Jacob had snapped, like someone had flipped a switch. He was terrifying, and he'd attacked Edward. "What then?"

"Bella, I'm the last person you should be worried about," Edward said, altogether too calm considering what had transpired. "I can handle a little werewolf."

I gaped at him. "Little? That thing was huge! Did you see his teeth?"

"And have you felt my skin?" Edward chuckled. His confidence was annoying. Didn't he see how important this was?

"Relax, Bella," he urged. "I'm the last thing you should worry about right now."

He kept saying that, but didn't he realize he was the only thing I worried about? First psycho vampires had set their creepy red eyes on him, and now there were vampire-eating werewolves in the mix, too? But then, there were vampires around that needed to be eaten. …That was why the wolves had come, I realized. They would only voluntarily seek out the Cullens, whom they evidently despised, if they felt their territory was at risk. So they must know about the other vampires; the question was, would they do anything about it?

I voiced my question to Carlisle.

"Perhaps," he said. "If the vampires wander into their territory, then they will certainly act to protect their land…they aren't allowed to hunt on our territory, typically, but perhaps we could come to an arrangement. Their aid would be beneficial."

"The leader is coming back," Edward chimed in, annoyed. "He wants your word that you'll keep me in line."

Rosalie, whom I hadn't heard say a word all night, let out a snort. "It would help if the mutt could control his litter."

"Rosalie, hostility won't help matters," Carlisle chided. I felt a surge of gratitude for his presence. If anyone could help us through this huge mess, it was Dr. Cullen.

Heavy footsteps announced Sam's return. We all watched him carefully, on guard.

"I apologize for Jacob's outburst," he said to Carlisle, his eyes flickering briefly to me. "He is still young and inexperienced in dealing with…your kind."

"Of course," Carlisle said diplomatically. "No one was hurt; no harm done. Have the new vampires encroached upon your territory?"

"They have. We wanted to make sure they weren't uninformed friends of yours before we attacked…but now that you have confirmed the danger, we will not hesitate to hunt them."

I only vaguely listened to the rest of the conversation, considering all the obstacles we faced. James wanted me, my blood. Victoria would help him – and I'd gotten the distinct impression that she had designs on Edward, even though he obviously hadn't meant much to her when she'd changed him and abandoned him. All of that made James jealous, which meant he'd be eager to get rid of Edward. Then there was a third vampire that had been with them; who knew what he was doing at this moment. And now there were werewolves – werewolves, for goodness' sake – who might help or who might go nuts and try to kill the love of my life.

Sam and Carlisle exchanged their goodbyes, and Carlisle turned back to us with a grave face.

"The wolves' aid may be useful in coping with this threat, but I am not confident in their ability to handle these particular vampires. We will still need a plan of our own to ensure Bella's safety."

"And Edward's," I insisted. "James wants him dead, too."

"Bella's safety first," Edward said. "I can handle the male."

I wanted to argue that he shouldn't try, but Jasper spoke before I could.

"We need to get her out of this area. As long as she's in Forks, her father is in danger, too. We can't devote all our resources to the problem at hand as long as we have to protect her father, too."

God, Charlie. How could I for one second have forgotten the danger this posed to him? If Edward and I were the targets of James' twisted game, then Charlie might become an unlucky pawn, whether I was near him or not.

"What's to stop him from going after Charlie anyway? What if he decides to…take him hostage or something?"

Jasper scowled. "Then we need to make sure he thinks he can't use your father against you."

"Is that really necessary?" Edward looked unhappy. "If she damages her relationship with her father –"

"Wait, what? What are you talking about?" How had we gone from protecting my dad to a ruined relationship?

"The male needs to think your father means nothing to you, that you couldn't be persuaded into action by a threat to him. And he will only believe that if he sees you cutting ties with your father firsthand," Edward explained.

"No! This isn't my dad's fault…he shouldn't have to suffer because of me. There has to be a better way," I insisted. I waited, breathless, for them to come up with another option. Surely seven vampires could think of a way to get out of this mess.

"What if we use the wolves to protect Charlie?" Alice said. I could have kissed her. "He's friends with people on the reservation, right? Let's convince one of them to invite him for an extended stay…come up with some excuse important enough that Charlie would be willing to put aside his other responsibilities to stay there."

I didn't have to wait for further reaction. Jasper was immediately smiling. "Of course. Brilliant, as always."

"I'll make the call," Carlisle announced, out of the room before he finished speaking. I let out a breath now that I knew Charlie would be all right, but there were still a lot of problems left to solve.

"What next, then?" I asked the room at large. "Can we stay here, if Charlie is taken care of…?"

One look at Jasper's face told me it wouldn't be that simple. "It would still be better to draw them away from this area…at least deeper into isolation. If any of the townspeople get caught in the crossfire…it could be very bad for us. Might even draw the attention of the Volturi."

The whole town, massacred because of me? When had this gotten so out of control?

"Where do we go, then?"

"North, I suppose," Jasper shrugged. "If we move into the wilderness, it might be easier to split them up, take them down individually… With humans around, it's too easy for them to escape. How do you feel about camping, Bella?"

Camping? Out in the woods? With vampires?

Edward tucked me closer into his body. "Is that a good idea? If she's near this at all –"

"She has to be," Jasper said, and I began to feel uncomfortably like a prop. "The male will follow her trail, and he won't be fooled by any attempts to throw him off it."

"He's right," Alice said quietly, which only made Edward tenser. "What you were planning, Edward…it wouldn't work. This is the best chance."

It took a moment to realize I was gnawing my lip. We were going out in the woods in the hopes of luring in some hungry vampires. That sounded like a recipe for disaster to me.

Esme stepped forward, smiling gently. "Don't worry, Bella – we'll take care of you." She turned around. "Rosalie, won't you come and help me get together the camping supplies?"

They left wordlessly. Something was weird about Rosalie's attitude, and I made a note to ask Edward about it later, since most of her dirty looks ended up in his direction.

Carlisle returned, and he, Edward, and Jasper sorted out the final plans. I listened helplessly, knowing there wasn't really anything I could do to help, as much as I wanted to. I was the bait, nothing more.

Hours later, I found myself ensconced in a tent in the middle of nowhere, a clearing in the woods. Edward sat inside with me while Alice stood guard outside. The rest of the Cullens were out there somewhere, searching for the vampires that had every intention of ruining my life, maybe even ending it.

I'd slept off and on, kept warm by a space heater and a sleeping bag, but I woke at the sound of Edward's voice. Even though he spoke low and fast, the tone urged me awake, as though my subconscious was trained to react to him.

"What's going on?" I asked him, unable to gather anything from the low hum that was his conversation with Alice.

"Alice heard something close by," Edward said. He lay beside me, seemingly relaxed, but I doubted that was the case. "It's probably nothing, but she went to go check it out."

"Should she be going off alone?" I wondered, trying to imagine tiny Alice going up against James and Victoria. As much as I didn't want to underestimate Alice, it didn't seem favorable.

"Probably not," Edward sighed, inwardly as worried as I was. "But it was her choice, and I couldn't leave you here alone to go with her. I'm sure she'll be fine. The others are close enough that they'll hear if there's trouble, I think."

"I hope so." I scooted closer to him, seeking the comfort that I wasn't getting from his words. I wished we were truly alone; I was woman enough to admit that I could use a more extensive form of physical comfort. "How much longer do you think we'll be out here?"

"Could be a few days," Edward said, and I winced. I wasn't much of a camper. "Looks like Alice brought plenty of food for you, though. That girl's more prepared than a Boy Scout."

I could just imagine her in the uniform. "She's very…exuberant, that's for sure." And she was gone, for the moment…I studied Edward's face. His skin was so smooth. "Will she be gone very long?"

Edward gave me the trying-to-read-my-mind face. "Probably not. Why do you ask?"

My face heated up, and Edward let out a surprised laugh. "You wanted to have sex out here?"

"Like you've never wanted to have sex in inappropriate situations!" I retorted, feeling defensive. I even slapped at his chest, as useless as that gesture was. "I just…with the stress of everything, I feel very…needy right now. I need to feel close to you."

"Would it help if I joined you in the sleeping bag?" he asked.

"Yes, please," I agreed readily, and I wonder why I'd been embarrassed. Edward was the king of inappropriately timed sexual propositions.

I lowered the zipper, and Edward slipped in with a ridiculous amount of grace. I had to wriggle around like a fish on land to get into this thing. We were squashed together in the small space.

"Much better," I sighed. Edward shifted a bit, and I found myself half on top of him. I moved my thigh up a bit, knowing what I'd find.

"Bella," Edward hissed.

"What?" We both knew exactly what, but I liked to provoke him.

He pursed his lips, and just like that, I was pinned underneath him with his hips between my legs. Yes, this was a good arrangement. I gripped him by the hair, hoping to coax him down for a kiss.

"You'd better be quiet," he warned, though the way he groped at my chest really contradicted his message. "We wouldn't want to draw any unwelcome attention."

"If you kiss me, it'll make me keep quiet," I pointed out, displeased at the reminder of the danger we were in. The whole point of this was to forget.

Edward lowered his head and let me kiss him. He was obviously preoccupied with what his hands were up to, but I didn't mind, because his hands were doing wonderful, wonderful things. I amused myself nibbling at his lips while his hands snuck under my pajamas – one heading north, the other, south. When he found my clit and my right nipple at the same time, I gasped into his mouth.

His slid two fingers inside me, exploring tender skin, while his thumb circled my clitoris. Floating in his touch, I kissed him and kissed him. What we were doing felt shockingly intimate, though it was arguably the least intimate thing we'd ever done. It was the way he touched me, I think. Like my body was something important he had to study and learn by heart.

I was reaching my peak fast. I tugged at Edward's hair, trying to hold on longer and prolong the feeling. Still, my hips arched up, struggling to get more. When I felt the wave cresting, I moved my mouth to Edward's neck, knowing I would need to muffle my reaction.

And there it was. My body seized with the initial explosion of heat and light. I sank my teeth into Edward's neck, at least as much as anything could sink into his skin. I loosened my death-grip on him, feeling soft and fuzzy around the edges.

Edward pulled away, making a weird, laughing, groaning sound. My cozy feeling of satiation flipped right back to lust while I watched him lick his long fingers clean. Now that was just indecent. He simply shouldn't be allowed to do such things.

"Are you practicing to be a vampire or something?" he asked, clearly amused, touching the spot I'd bitten. Of course, there wasn't even an indentation.

"It was the only way I could keep from making noise," I defended. Looking down between our bodies, I noticed two things – one, his shirt had ridden up, and two, he was sporting one serious erection. Was it really sick of me to want him here, now? I put my hands on the exposed sliver of his back and drifted upward. It wasn't that sick, I decided.

"Has Alice returned yet?" I wondered.

"No." Edward's voice was tight.

I bit my lip. One of my hands grazed his crotch to tempt him, even though I seriously doubted he would refuse me, and anyway, my seductive skills were so pitiful as to be pointless. "Do you think we have time to…?" Maybe I could live with Alice coming back and hearing us. I'm sure she'd seen and heard it all before.

Edward sucked in a breath. "We shouldn't, but…I need you too badly to ignore."

"Good." I unbuttoned his jeans. There was no time to waste on pleasantries here. Anyway, we'd already taken care of the foreplay. A great deal of squirming ensued while he tried to get my bottom half naked, and I worked on freeing enough of him from his clothing.

"Finally," I sighed, getting my hand around him. He groaned into my neck, a vibration that shuddered across my skin.

"Do you think you're ready…?" He was unbuttoning my top. I almost laughed. I was so ready.

"Yes," was all I said, shivering when the air hit my breasts. "But if I'm going shirtless, you are, too." Fair was fair, after all. He didn't protest.

"Now?" he asked, holding himself above me.

"Now," I confirmed, already wrapping my legs around his hips. I wanted him close, and I wanted him in me. That didn't seem like much to ask.

I let out a contented hum when he slid inside me. These days, it felt more natural to have him in me than not.

Edward held his body close to mine. My skin had its own private conversation with his. He moved quickly, the speed of his hips belying the otherwise relaxed mood. His slow kisses came in contrast to our urgency.

"I'm close," I admitted after what could only have been a minute or less.

"Me too." He shifted a little, causing his pelvis to hit my clit, and given the pace he had set, it became a constant pressure that grew rapidly.

"Fuck," I cursed.

It took me suddenly, and he followed almost instantly.

Just like that, it was over. I struggled to catch my breath, to regain some level of function. I wished I could stay here in this moment just a little longer, with his body in and on mine. Just the two of us, no worries, no fears.

This bit will eventually be incorporated into the full BPoV, if I decided to go all the way through with it. For now, I hope you enjoyed another peek into Bella's mind.