Hey lovies! How've the months been? Hopefully they didn't feel too long. I want to thank all of you for being so loving with me, and never scolding me for spelling errors or the long and unnecessary vacations I take from this story. I do so hope that this update makes up for my absence and if it doesn't entirely heal the wound, know I'm sorry and forgive me anyway.
The chairs scraped roughly against the hardwood floor. They sat for a period of time uncounted by either, but somewhere in the back of his mind, Edward heard Elvis slipping off into sleep. Seemingly in time with his stomach slipping and sliding higher in his body, until it was nestled snugly in his Adam's apple. There was a clammy feeling settled just behind it, and it made it borderline painful to swallow his fear in his suddenly cotton filled mouth.
Audrey was looking at him carefully, her face was passive, yet her heartbeat belied this seeming calm. His eyes closed, he let out the deepest of breaths to calm the waves in his stomach, and do what he had set out to do.
His fingers felt foreign in his pocket, the knuckles of his fingers brushed roughly against the inside fabric of his jeans. The corner was sharp still even though it was nearly a decade old, and had been removed and deposited from every pair of pants he had worn since acquiring it. He thought perhaps this told a different story, a more in depth look to his grief behind it, but it could be that it stayed this way because he had never wanted to ruin the one good thing he had left in his life.
A small white square. He held it with the utmost of care; she glanced at the small piece of paper, but almost immediately shot back up to his face. His expression, she thought, was meant to be blank, but his stiff upper lip and misting eyes told her that she could doubt the legitimacy of the act. He set the paper face down on the table, folding his hands over top of it. Her curiosity was slowly beginning to eat at her, but she felt as though he were building to something. Something that would satisfy the questions that pressed in, threatening to crush her heart. His fingers clicked back and forth quietly, a small half a second stick as he flexed his fingers. A motion of someone who used to crack their knuckles profusely. It was something she hadn't known about him, she of course understood that there had to be things she wouldn't know about him, but the idea still felt so foreign to her. She wanted to know everything there was to know about him, and she had every intention of making sure she learned everything about him. Starting with whatever he was going to reveal to her tonight.
Carefully, he removed his hands from the top of the paper, letting his fingertips rest on the corner of it before sliding it gently over to her. The paper rested there innocent and unassuming, begging her to take the barest of peeks. But there was something more important, she felt, she needed to establish first, "This doesn't change anything," Her voice was quiet and she tried to ensure that he was hearing her properly, "I will always see you the same."
There was a grin on his face, small and sad, and entirely self-loathing, "I should hope not." She wanted to shake her head, prove to him through intelligent argument that she was right. That he would always be Edward to her, no matter what he said to her in the next few minutes. But her father had taught her that actions speak louder than words. So she grasped the paper, tucking a nail under the corner as to avoid a fight with the inanimate object, which would no doubt stick with incredible suction to the lacquered surface of the table. She turned it slowly back over, and returned it to its original position face up. A family stared up at her, smiling wide, arms thrown around each other in joyous affection. A father holding an infant close, a mother with a boy and girl sitting on her lap, grasping hands as tightly as their mother held them to her chest. So much love. So much tenderness was captured in the moment, she wanted to cry. Because it was something she had never had, and it was something that was still missing from their world.
Her eyes cut to Edward. This wasn't his family, their skin was too dark, and as far as she knew, he didn't have a sister. But the fact that he carried it with him told her it was as important as a family should be. Though the reason for this, gave way for concern. The pause was unnecessarily long, and for a great moment, she stared at him confused by his stalling, until it hit her. His face was long and he eyed the door, not because he was wanting to bolt, it wasn't in his nature to run from a difficulty. But because he wanted her too. If she left now, he could not tell her. And she would see him as a coward, which he obviously found more desirable than the alternative. She didn't think it would make much difference to him if she tried to tell him she would look at him the same regardless of his past. So instead she pushed to picture back across the table towards him, in a way that bordered on defiance. Clasping her hands around one another and setting them lightly back on the table.
His smile returned, but there was a flash of disappointment, it disappeared as swiftly as it came and he nodded lastly spinning the family portrait around. Pointing slowly to the youngest of the group, "That's Liam, he was only eight months old when the outbreak started," He was clearing his throat carefully, trying, it seemed, it reach every part of his throat before he spoke again, "Annie and Alex, seven." Now that he had said it she saw a resemblance that went beyond any familial trait, those two had once been only one, "Marissa." His voice was threatening to break and Audrey was beginning to wish more than ever that she had taken the out he had offered. She would take the clawing curiosity as long as she never had to hear such a sound leave him again. His forefinger brushed over the shiny, smiling face, brushing off invisible specks of dust in the most loving of ways, and she felt her heart puncture, "James, he wasn't even forty."
"When the outbreak started?" She asked, seemingly stupidly. But she had been struck with a sudden horrible thought came at her in a violent affront to an otherwise peaceful train of thought. He was shaking his head slowly at her, and the look on his face broke her heart. Before her sat a fractured soul, threatening to swallow a broken heart, he had seen too much hurt for his lifetime, even if he did end up living forever. She hoped that what she saw there was in some way an exaggeration of his true state, but she found it somehow too raw to be a fabrication.
A long pause, as he stared at those frozen faces, before he looked back up at her. His eyes were hard set now, and she realized he wouldn't be breaking, at least not tonight, "When I killed him."
A silence settled around them. The density of it was enough to strangle her, and the fact that he wouldn't stop staring at her was setting her heart on edge. He was listening to her heart, she could tell. Even though it hadn't been too long ago that they had discussed him listening on purpose. They had come to the conclusion that it was a gross invasion of her privacy to be listening to her heart and he would try to keep his ear off the ground, or her chest, so to speak. Now he was listening freely, daring her to say something, he didn't care at this point. He was begging for a reaction.
So, she would give him one, "Why?"
His expression softened, she was given the satisfaction of knowing it had all been a front, and now he had lost all of his gusto, "Because I was foolish. I thought I could wait out the bloodlust. As long as I didn't go near anyone, and I didn't drink, maybe the vampire part of me would simply starve and I could be human. And if it killed me completely, so be it. My life wasn't anything worth living without a beating heart."
Audrey watched him carefully, as he took the picture off the table and slid it back into his front pants pocket, out of sight though not out of mind. He rubbed tiredly at his temples, and fixed her with another look. She met his eyes, and moved to reach across the table for him, but he dropped his hands into his lap, and sat back from her.
"What are you doing?" His eyes were wide suddenly startled, and Audrey realized she had never before seen him surprised at anything, he heard every noise, knew every smell, could predict the weather by shifts in temperature. Nothing caught him off guard, except for her, it would seem.
Her face flushed, and she dropped her hand to the table, flustered at his reaction. He had never seemed opposed to her touching him before, "I was just...You looked...I just wanted to comfort you." She finished uneasily, they weren't discussing their feelings, and she couldn't be sure how many, if any lines this crossed.
His hand came up to rub his jaw, and his brow furrowed, "I just told you I killed a man, in cold blood. And you want to comfort me?"
Audrey rubbed the table absently with her pointer finger, she hadn't been thinking in those terms, just that Edward was in pain, and it shouldn't be happening while she did nothing, "That was a long time ago. You're different. Everyone makes mistakes."
Edward nodded, and shrugged his shoulders and incredulous look on his face. She almost felt bad, it seemed as though he had expected the story to scare her off, and clearly it hadn't. But now she found herself wondering, had he hoped it would work, or hand he simply needed to tell her. Her eyes came back to his face, and fear slid into her belly. She didn't want this to go wrong, she cared about him too much, needed him in her life, in Samuel's life.
"I trust you, Edward." Audrey said quietly. His eyes shot to hers harshly, but they softened when they did round on her face. He watched her fingers playing with his mother's necklace.
"Why?" He asked astonished.
She smiled at him brightly, and stood, crossing to his side of the table, "Because," she started quietly, "you're kind, and you're brave. You look out for Samuel when it would be easier to leave him to me, you're caring. You're intelligent and even though you are the very thing humans are afraid of, you've managed to win over so many already. You're good to me, and to Elvis, and to everyone you come in contact with, even those that mistreat you because of what you are. And you would have every right to tell them you never chose this that you never wanted it, "plucking the courage she reached down and covered his hand with hers," and you're warm."
At this he cracked a smile, and moved his chair to stand beside her, "Thank you." He said softly, to which she nodded.
They lapsed into silence, and suddenly Audrey took a breath in and her mind registered that they were standing nearer to each other than they had been in sometime, and that her hand was still covering his. For a moment she considered that she was very tired, and that she was to have a long day ahead of her, it would be wise to go to bed. The muscles in her arms had even tightened, preparing to move her hand, and bid him a good night. When his thumb twitched underneath her palm, and suddenly she was rooted to the spot.
Her eyes came to look down at their hands, as his thumb moved again, dragging a slow line across her palm, his nail tugging and catching on the creases of her hand print. Carefully he turned his hand over and their palms met for the first time since he had found her that morning in the vineyard, doing laundry. Her heart was twitching and skipping over crucial beats, and she thought she might pass out, if it hadn't been for her sheer will to be conscious for this moment.
His thumb came back running its way over her wrist and she closed her eyes, feeling his other hand gripping the curve of her hip and turning her body to face him fully. The thumb disappeared from her wrist, but his fingers were dragging a trail of icy heat up her arm, and his hand had moved from her hip to the narrow point of her waist. As his fingers came to a stop holding her neck, Audrey pried her eyes open to look up at him.
Glowing amber eyes were staring down at her, as his forehead dropped a fraction to touch hers. His eyes kept dropping to look at her lips, and she unconsciously licked at them each time, trying to recall if she had brushed recently. His breath was chilly as was rushing across her face; his hand was so cold it burned at the skin of her neck and waist. His fingers were toying with her hair, and she wished her would lean in already and they could get on with it.
"Audrey," His voice snapped her back into their moment, and she looked up at him, he had moved back a fraction, so his forehead was only brushing hers "Is this okay?" He breathed, and his eyes were panicked, because if she said no he was sure he would walk out into the sun as soon as it rose.
She beamed at him and nodded vehemently, noting for later to add chivalrous to her list of reasons for trusting him. His whole body relaxed and he pulled her tighter against him as he did, their foreheads touched once more, and his left hand moved from her waist to mirror its twin on her neck. He tilted her head a fraction upwards and stared down at her. Tonight was the night.
The night for deciding they understood the difference between right and wrong, and safety and danger, intellect and stupidity. It was also the night they decided they didn't care.
Because it was a horrible idea and they knew it, the sheer amount of stupidity being show by the two of them was astounding. It was dangerous and it was going to compromise his ability to reason in the face of other dangers, it shouldn't have gotten this far, he shouldn't even have let himself have feelings for her in the first place and this wouldn't have happened.
This was what ran through Edward's head, or rather it was. Until the pink tip of Audrey's tongue again made an appearance and his mind went blank. Well it would have, it had started too. But then there was the third heartbeat. Edward had been listening to Audrey's slamming so very near him, but he could hear faintly Elvis' beating at a crawl in the other room, and Samuel's down the hall. Only it wasn't down the hall anymore, it was beating just inside the doorway to the kitchen.
Moving back from her face, Audrey opened her eyes with panic and confusion clouding them, he dropped his hands from her face, and looked around her, spying Samuel who stood with his left pajama leg shoved up to his knee and his top on backwards, and large tears rolling silently down his cheeks. Turning to see what had caught his attention; Audrey gasped and came to his side.
"Sammy, honey," She said, opening her arms to him, and cradling the child who had stepped gratefully inside, "Nightmare?" She asked quietly in his ear.
His head moved in a fractional nod, before her arms came around her and his shoulders slumped, Audrey rubbed at his back, and smoothed down her hair. Her eyes flashed towards Edward who was backing quietly down the hall, she opened her mouth to say something to him, anything. But he moved to the staircase and was gone. Sighing, she lifted the child and move back towards his bedroom.
Edward stood just in the shadows of the stairs with his eyes closed so she couldn't see him, now that her heat was away from him, every thought came rushing back. This was a problem, his judgment was slipping, and he was becoming too comfortable around her and Sam. They had slept against him a week ago for Christ sake! His head hit the wall with a thud, and he relished as the last spot of heat, chilled. Opening his eyes he listened down the hall to Audrey's heartbeat, and moved a hand to his chest.
He let his fingers rest over where his heart should be beating beneath his skin, and blocked out everything he could, everything except the pounding of her heart. The slow and steady, familiar rhythm. Slowly his fingers began to tap, matching the rhythm of her heartbeat, tapping out a beat over a spot that once held life. He didn't know how long he had stood there for, listening to nothing but her life source until it came closer, moving back towards the kitchen, before he stole upstairs.
Tonight wasn't the night.
Are we sad? Because I'm sad, I thought tonight was the night dammit! What happened? We were doing so well, and then it all went kaput. I bet you're asking yourself right now, Ah, well. What can ya do? Well I am so very glad you asked. Review. That's what you can do, review no and then PM me at random intervals after several weeks, because I'm very forgetful.
In fact this particular chapter in dedicated to lolcentral101 who just recently review my story and I don't know whether it was the reminder I had left it, or actually looking at the words 6 months which pulled me out of my funk. But there you go, so now that you know you all have the power within you. Please use it wisely and review!