"At what point exactly are you going to tell me what's going on?" Bella was grouchy and getting worse because I was reluctant to tell her what she hadn't already guessed.
"I'm shocked that you haven't figured it out yet." I replied teasingly.
"I did mention that you looked very nice, didn't I?" she reiterated a statement she had made earlier.
"Yes," a couple of times, actually. Her reaction to my tuxedo had pleased me almost to embarrassment. I'd forgotten she'd never seen me in one, and the light in her eyes almost distracted me from the gorgeous things the dress that Alice had chosen for her did to Bella's complexion. She was perfection, and she was still saying 'yes' to me.
"I'm not coming over anymore if Alice is going to treat me like Guinea Pig Barbie when I do."
The phone in my pocket rang. It was Charlie, "Hello, Charlie."
"Um, yeah, Edward. There's a young man here, named Tyler Crowley looking for Bella, he says he's taking her to the Prom…" he remarked.
"You're kidding!" I was incredulous. Tyler Crowley just wasn't ever giving up, was he? I simply could not hide my inner smirk.
"What is it?" Bella was anxious, something else she was not aware of.
"Why don't you let me talk to him?" I suggested to Charlie, laughter in my voice. I was feeling absolutely downright giddy, so unbecoming a vampire but God it was fun.
"Sure," Charlie said not sure what to make of my reaction.
I waited while I listened to the phone being handed over.
"Hello?" Tyler's unmistakable voice came over the cell phone.
"Hello, Tyler, this is Edward Cullen. I'm sorry if there's been some kind of miscommunication, but Bella is unavailable tonight. 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 looked over at Bella as I put the cell phone away, I knew her well enough to suspect anger was the reason her eyes were welling up with tears… "Was that last part a bit too much? I didn't mean to offend you."
Her voice started out evenly, but built into a crescendo as she spurted out, "You're taking me to the prom!"
"Don't be difficult, Bella." Uh oh, trouble could be brewing. I needed to calm her.
"Why are you doing this to me?" I could hear the panic building.
"Honestly, Bella, what did you think we were doing?" The tears continued to build until they trickled down her cheek and I began to wonder if I had correctly assumed anger was the cause, "This is completely ridiculous. Why are you crying?"
"Because I'm mad!" she forced out at me.
It's a rite of passage! What? This is supposed to be a good thing. Well, at least I'd been right about one thing, she's angry. "Bella," I ventured gently.
"What?" she answered grudgingly.
"Humor me," I begged putting on my best dazzling smile and hoping the appeal of that and the tuxedo served some purpose in helping me to get my way.
"Fine," she pouted, "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 held up her perfect leg, topped off by the sexy high heel for my scrutiny. Ah, so lovely, "Hmmm, remind me to thank Alice for that tonight."
"Alice is going to be there?" she asked hopefully. I sensed a change.
"With Jasper, and Emmett… and Rosalie," I admitted.
"Is Charlie in on this?" she asked, her eyes narrowing.
Busted! "Of course, apparently Tyler wasn't though." It was difficult to understand how, after having spent so much time together, so publicly, anyone at school could possibly have doubted our relationship. The boy was an idiot. I pulled up next to Rose's BMW and turned the Vanquish off.
Bella seemed to politely waited for me to get her door, but sat there stubbornly, refusing to move once I'd opened it for her, "When someone wants to kill you, you're brave as a lion, and then when someone mentions dancing…" I shook my head, at a loss to understand her.
Then I heard her gulp, she was actually afraid! How could I be so insensitive, of course she was afraid of censure. "Bella, I won't let anything hurt you – not even yourself. I won't let go of you once, I promise." She looked up at me with genuine relief.
"There, now… it won't be so bad," I reassured her as I reached around her waist to lift her out of the car, and set her down gently next to me. I was going to enjoy that promise, her warm body against mine felt marvelous. We began our slow progress towards the Gym.
"This looks like a horror movie waiting to happen," she snickered looking at the decorations, the set-up and lighting.
"Well, there are more than enough vampires present," I agreed joining her in her little repartee. We hadn't entered the main room, but I could already see my siblings enjoying themselves on the dance floor already.
"Do you want me to bolt the doors so you can massacre the unsuspecting townsfolk?" she jibed.
"And where do you fit into that scheme?" I asked her teasingly as if I didn't know.
"Oh, I'm with the vampires, of course," she winked at me.
"Anything to get out of dancing," I laughed at her antics.
"Anything," she agreed.
"I've got all night."
I tried to be as patient as possible, allowing her to watch Alice and Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett, twirling expertly around the floor. But, perhaps that was making her more nervous as she watched them smoothly canvas the gym floor effortlessly. I was anxious to try it with Bella myself, so when I couldn't stand the anticipation anymore, I towed her out towards them.
"Edward," she choked, "I honestly can't dance!" Her heart rate was increasing rapidly. Poor dear, she was really scared.
"Don't worry, silly, I can." I put her arms around my neck and lifted her by her waist off the floor slightly, putting her down on the tops of my feet. Then, I began to sway with the beat, gently at first. I retrieved her right hand from my neck with my left and began a modified waltz to the love song they were playing. God, it was heavenly! For the first time in my existence, I actually felt like a teenage boy with the girl of my dreams in my arms dancing at my first school prom. I suddenly realized that it was my rite of passage, too. Not that I would ever admit it, but only because Emmett would never live me live it down. Thank goodness I was the mind reader in the family. Only Carlisle and maybe Alice would suspect how much I was enjoying this, but they would keep my secret.
She smiled up at me shyly. "I feel like I'm five years old," she giggled.
"You don't look five," I murmured in her ear as I squeezed her gently, lifting her for an instant to emphasize my point.
Hey bro! You two look stunning, of course! Alice was smiling at Bella, admiring her handiwork.
"Okay, this isn't half bad." I heard Bella admit.
But I was already preoccupied by the thoughts I heard at the entryway.
I can't believe I'm actually going to do this for $20. Bella's going to think we're all out of our minds. I wouldn't blame her if she never speaks to me again. I really need that master cylinder… but this is outrageous. Maybe I won't even be able to find her, look at all the people here. Wow, there she is dancing, damn she's pretty all dressed up! I wonder…Jacob Black was quickly making his way towards us.
"What is it?" Bella felt my body tense at his approach. She soon saw what I was looking at and reacted slightly surprised. I was torn between my loathing to relinquish Bella to Jacob Black and my wish to remain civil at a very civil occasion. The battle within me resulted in a snarl I couldn't conceal from her.
"Behave!" she hissed at me.
So, I would have to relinquish her…break my promise to her for a DOG DESCENDANT. Damn. "He wants to chat with you," I whispered in her ear.
"Hey, Bella, I was hoping you would be here," Jacob said as he approached my Bella.
"Hi, Jacob. What's up?" she looked at him curiously.
He looked at me for the first time since entering the room, "Can I cut in?"
I lifted her off my toes and bowed to her slightly, as I silently let her go.
"Thanks." Jacob said, already intent on Bella's face.
Every fiber in my body screamed in rebellion, as I turned away to walk in the other direction before I could do anything violent. That didn't prevent me from listening carefully to their conversation, however.
"Wow, Jake, how tall are you now?" she seemed impressed. Was she? Why did this seem to bother me so much?
She noticed! "Six-two" Bella likes that I'm tall, too. She's so pretty, oh yeah.
"So, how did you end up here tonight?" Bella asked him.
"Can you believe my dad paid me twenty bucks to come to your prom?" Crazy old man.
"Yes, I can. Well, I hope you're enjoying yourself, at least. Seen anything you like?"
His eyes never strayed from her face, and I never let him out of my sight. "Yeah, but she's taken." Gosh, Bella I wish I could tell you how good you feel next to me like this. "You look really pretty, by they way."
He was severely testing the boundaries of my self control. I struggled to continue walking away from them.
"Um, thanks. So why did Billy pay you to come here?" she went back to the conversation.
Oh yeah, that's my girl!
Bummer. Isn't there some way to prolong this dance and just skip the reason that brought me here? No, she's ready to skip to the chase already, no avoiding it, I guess. "He said it was a 'safe' place to talk to you. I swear the old man is losing his mind."
They laughed together softly. Okay I did not like that either. Not at all.
"Anyway, he said that if I told you something, he would get me that master cylinder I need."
"Tell me then. I want you to get your car finished," she encouraged, not having any idea what he was up to.
"Don't get mad, okay?" he was concerned about someone getting upset with him.
Too late, I was already furious for the interruption of our evening.
"There's no way I'll be mad at you, Jacob," she replied, "I won't even be mad at Billy. Just say what you have to."
"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 shook his head in disgust obviously not believing in his family heritage.
"He's still superstitious?" she asked incredulously.
"Yeah. He was… kind of over the top when you got hurt down in Phoenix. He didn't believe…" but he hesitated at the thought.
"I fell…" she finished for him.
"I know that." At least he believed her.
"He thinks Edward had something to do with me getting hurt." I could hear her barely contained anger, and that pleased me a bit. "Look, Jacob, I know Billy probably won't believe this, but just so you know… Edward really did save my life. If it weren't for Edward and his father, I'd be dead."
"Hey, I'm sorry you had to come do this, Jacob. At any rate, you get your parts, right?"
"There's more?" she asked looking at his expression.
"Forget it, I'll get a job and save the money myself."
"Just spit it out, Jacob," she commanded.
"It's so bad," he cringed at the thought of what he was supposed to say now.
"I don't care. Tell me." She wanted to help him get what he wanted so she would listen to the ramblings of an old man to help her friend.
"Okay… but, geez, this sounds bad. He said to tell you, no, to warn you, that – and this is his plural, not mine – 'We'll be watching'."
She laughed at him, "Sorry you had to do this, Jake."
"I don't mind that much." Now that's over and I'm still on the dance floor with you, the prettiest girl at the prom. "So, should I tell him you said to butt the hell out?"
"No. Tell him I said thanks. I know he means well," she answered ever my gracious Bella.
"Do you want to dance again? Or can I help you get somewhere?"
Fat chance, dog. "That's all right, Jacob. I'll take it from here." Even Bella was startled at my sudden appearance.
"Hey, I didn't see you there,." He was still a little off balance - good. "I guess I'll see you around, Bella." I hope.
"Yeah, I'll see you later," she answered back dismissively, not realizing how much he wished that were really true.
"Sorry," Jacob finally backed away.
"Feeling better?" she teased me.
I was still in a foul mood from the interruption. "Not really."
"Don't be mad at Billy. He just worries about me for Charlie's sake. It's nothing personal." She was misinterpreting my foul mood.
"I'm not mad at Billy, but his son is irritating me."
"Why?" She just never would understand her power over the male sex.
"First of all, he made me break my promise." She gave me a quizzical look, "I promised I wouldn't let go of you tonight."
"Oh, well, I forgive you."
"Thanks. But there's something else." Most of which I didn't want her to know, but I had to tell her something, "He called you pretty," and he's got a crush on you. "That's practically an insult, the way you look right now. You're much more than beautiful."
She laughed, "You might be a little biased."
"I don't think that's it. Besides, I have excellent eyesight." I gathered her to me and began to enjoy moving with the music, her body against mine. It was magic and I allowed it to take me away from all irritations… I allowed myself to be happy again.
"So are you going to explain the reason for all this?" she asked me.
I wasn't sure what she meant at first, but as she pointed to her surroundings with her eyes, I realized she wanted a private conversation. Reluctant to end the dance, I merely changed our direction and danced to the exit. We walked. Well, I walked (she hobbled) until I was certain no eyes followed us. Then I swung her up into my arms and headed for a nice spot under a stand of madrone trees.
"The point?" she quizzed after we had settled ourselves on a conveniently placed bench.
I sighed reluctantly, "Twilight, again. No matter how perfect the day is, it always has to end."
"Some things don't have to end," she muttered.
It wasn't hard to catch her intent. I sighed, "I brought you to the prom 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 felt her 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."
"It wasn't so bad, you said so yourself," I smiled down at her.
"That's because I was with you."
We sat together in silence for a while, both of us grateful to be together. I stared up at the moon wondering, hating to break the silence, but I had to ask her, "Will you tell me something?"
"Don't I always?"
"Just promise you'll tell me," I loved teasing her like this, her expressions were always priceless.
"You seemed honestly surprised when you figured out that I was taking you here."
"Exactly. But you must have had some other theory… I'm curious – what did you think I was dressing up for?"
"I don't want to tell you," She hedged, almost seeming embarrassed.
I already knew that, "You promised."
"I know," she sighed.
"What's the problem?" I asked really not understanding her reactions now. God I wish I could just read her mind.
"I think it will make you mad – or sad."
"I still want to know. Please?" At this point I was desperate to know. Her mind is so elusive and so unpredictable.
"Well… I assumed it was some kind of …. occasion. But I didn't think it would be some trite human thing… prom!"
She fidgeted with her dress nervously with downcast eyes for a moment. "Okay," she began in a resigned tone, "So I was hoping that you might have changed your mind… that you were going to change me, after all."
She what? She thought I might change my mind about damning her for all eternity? Thought I might have a moment of overwhelming self pity and condemn her to night for all time, did she? I looked again at her disappointed face. No, that's not what she thought at all. Of course not, she thinks only of me, not of the consequences. So selfless, so beautiful, so very young and innocent. "You thought that would be a black tie occasion, did you?" I decided to tease her.
Predictably, the blush brightened her face, "I don't know how these things work. To me, at least, it seems more rational than prom does." I couldn't stifle my amusement. "It's not funny."
But, of course it was… and it wasn't. "No, you're right, it's not, I'd rather treat it like a joke, though, than believe you're serious."
"But, I am serious," she insisted.
Yes, I knew she was. "I know. And you're really that willing?" She looked up at me, so trusting, the depths of those chocolate pools unbearably willing to shed her life for my sake, "So ready for this to be the end, for this to be the twilight of your life, though your life has barely started. You're ready to give up everything."
"It's not the end, it's the beginning."
"I'm not worth it," I countered.
"Do you remember when you told me that I didn't see myself very clearly? You obviously have the same blindness."
"I know what I am." Walking death, the bloody monster, night stalker, take your pick. She sighed at me. "You're ready now, then?" I couldn't help but test this resolve of hers. Prove to her she was wrong.
"Um, Yes?" It was more of a question than a statement of resolute fact.
Good, I moved my body against hers, brushing my lips across the stretched silk of her chin, touching the tip of my nose just below the hollow behind her ear, "Right now?" I whispered against her lovely skin. She shivered as I bent her backward, exposing her exquisite neckline, making her vulnerable.
Obstinate to the core, she was stiff as a board in anticipation of the pain, her body feared what her mind refused to acknowledge. I kissed the lovely neck before me, tenderly caressing her, lingering until her body relaxed again. I felt her disappointment as I held her there. I chuckled as I straightened us both up once more, "You can't really believe that I would give in so easily."
"A girl can dream."
"Is that what you dream about? Being a monster?"
She frowned at me, "Not exactly. Mostly I dream about being with you forever."
"Bella, I will stay with you – isn't that enough?" Perhaps she's fallen into the lure of immortality?
"Enough for now," she responded quietly.
I sighed, sorry for what I was doing to her, sorry for what I was, sorry for depriving her of a real human partner in life.
"Look, I love you more than everything else in the world combined. Isn't that enough?" she sounded exasperated.
"Yes, it is enough." I felt the venom flowing easily as I bent down to linger against her beautiful neck once more, "Enough for forever…"
A/N: Thank you for reading! I really appreciate each and every one of you that have stuck through this story with me and I hope you will continue to read my other efforts! Once again, it's time to use the "Review This Chapter" Button below! THANKS AGAIN! KC