Prologue: Unknown POV
I was thirsty. I had been running for god knows how long and hadn't stopped to feed. I had no idea where I was but the only thing on my mind was the scent of the mountain lion I had been stalking for what felt like miles. The ache in my throat was almost unbearable. I scrambled into the trees to stay above him, to keep the scent of the world's greatest predator from reaching his feline senses. Something spooked the wild cat and he took off running. Not wanting to give up on my well deserved and much needed meal, I dropped silently from my perch in the tree and took off after the cat. He was fast, amazing, and smelled too delicious to focus on anything else.
It was like I was a newborn again because I knew better than to not be wary of my surroundings. Just as I was about to pounce on the cat, a feral snarl reached my ears. I was confused for a moment because it didn't sound like any noise a mountain lion should be making. It was then that I collided with something fast and solid. Anything I ran into should have given way due to my harder than marble physique. But this was just as hard as I was and before I could blink, I was flat on my ass, staring into a face I thought I'd never see again. Which would have been fine, but the eyes were what was giving me trouble. Holy. shit. I can't handle this.
Chapter 1: I can't handle this
I got up early as usual and went downstairs to get my standard bowl of cereal. I was sick and tired of Jacob avoiding me. I was sick and tired of Billy's excuses. I was sick and tired of thinking about Edward. Basically, I was just sick and tired.
I knew I needed to get the hell over this. I was being just like the stupid, little gossipy twats that I had always silently laughed at in Phoenix and that I couldn't stand here in Forks. You know the ones. Those girls who that go completely googly eyed over a guy, then act like the world was ending when they lost the person who was supposed to be 'the one' at the ripe old age of 16 or 17. Who the hell was I kidding? I had convinced myself that since Edward was a supernatural creature that our love held no earthly bounds- that it couldn't be contained or reduced to a simple teenage romance. I had believed that our love was one for the ages.
Again, who the hell was I kidding?
I can't handle this. I need to pull up my big girl panties, say goodbye, and get the hell over it. Jacob and I had grown closer. In an alternate universe, one where I didn't feel guilty for using him to fill the supposed hole in my heart that Edward had cleaved out with what felt like a rusty spoon, I guess we could have been an item. He was every girl's dream. Loyal, attentive, always willing to shower attention and make you laugh at the same time. Kind of like a puppy, I guess.
Maybe I should get a dog?
No way in hell would I get a cat. They were too independent and let's face it, downright bitchy and just plain weird sometimes. And all that licking themselves? Yuck.
With that final thought, I put my cereal bowl in the sink and geared up for a solo hike in the woods. Jacob had taken me out a couple times, trying to help me find the meadow. I had been obsessed with finding that place and was too chicken to go alone. I wanted Jacob by my side to hold me together when I fell apart, like I figured I would. But, today I had other plans. After my Cheerios-induced epiphany about Edward, I shuffled through Charlie's junk drawer and found just what I was looking for. I locked up the house and jumped in my truck, slamming the door. The things I had figured out over breakfast irritated the hell out of me. It was the wake-up call I needed but realizing that I had been an idiot for the past six months still put me in a bad mood. I guess you could say, someone must have pissed in my Cheerios.
The drive to the trail-head was uneventful. I parked my truck, threw my backpack over my shoulder and set out in the direction that I just knew would take me to the meadow. It was a little creepy being in the woods alone, especially with all the warnings about the big, black, bear type thing was wandering the woods and picking off innocent hikers, kind of like myself. But hell, I figured death was coming for me anyway. It had only been stalled the day that Edward had stopped Tyler's van from crushing me that day. Of course, it would really suck to die on the day that I had finally decided to take my head out of my ass and start living, really living, again.
Before I knew it I had reached the Holy Grail of my journey. I walked into the meadow and it was nothing like the day Edward had taken me here. The flowers were no longer beautiful, they were stiff and brown. The grass had turned a light shade of tan and crackled under my feet. To tell you the truth, it looked just like the picture my new psyche had conjured up of Edward. Dried up and dead. I let out a snort at the thought. What the hell was I thinking? He was 108 years old and here I was all head over heals for his pasty white ass. Maybe Renee and Charlie were right. Maybe I did need to have my head examined. Shaking off that thought before I could run away with it, I stood up and pulled the item that I had taken from the kitchen out of my pocket. I flicked the wheel of the lighter I now held in my hand and was mesmerised by the flame for a few moments.
It was in that moment that the dried up grass betrayed the presence of someone or something else here in the meadow behind me. I spun around and came face to face with one of the many people I thought I would never see again.
"Laurent!" I exclaimed. Ok, what the hell was he doing here? His eyes were red and he was looking at me like, well, like I was something to eat.
"Oh Bella, what a surprise seeing you here today." He chuckled darkly and eyed me up, from head to toe, breathing deeply the whole time. God, he was creepy.
I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say, but I didn't want to let him know that so I just muttered a weak, "Likewise." I cocked my head to the side in curiosity. He read my body language and continued.
"You see, I was on a hunt and can't help but think how lucky I am to have come across you today. You see, I am in the area on a favor for Victoria. However," insert another creepy, dark, chuckle, "she will not be happy with me at all. You see, I am really quite hungry and you smell deliciously mouthwatering."
Oh gross. Not to mention, I couldn't figure out what this favor for Victoria was. Well, I had a good guess, but the I-don't-want-to-die-today part of my brain was in denial. And that guess got me more infuriated with Edward removing his sparkly ass from my life. Stupid fucker left me here alone to deal with this shit? Great, just great.
He was stalking towards me slowly. I remembered the lighter I held in my hand. Knowing the only way to destroy a vampire was to tear them apart and burn them, I hoped against all hope that maybe his clothes were extra flammable. I had a can of bug spray in my backpack that would have made a nice little flamethrower, but I had dropped the damn thing at the edge of the meadow as soon as I had found it. He took the threat of the Bic I held in my hand very, very lightly and let out a boisterous laugh at my attempt to defend myself. In the blink of an eye he was standing close to me, too close. He ran his nose up and down the side of my throat and I cringed. I was hoping that he would remember his favor to Victoria, but as I caught his eye, taking note of how black they had turned, I knew that today was the day.
Today was the day I was going to die. I hate it when I jinx myself like that.
His teeth cut into my neck like a hot knife through butter. I felt the searing pain of the venom that coated his teeth. He had to have pushing some into me because the pain was just unbearable. He tore his mouth away, only to latch on in another spot a little lower. This time the sensation was different, and I could tell he was sucking. It didn't stop the burn though. But, in the next instant I heard a growl and felt more pain as he was ripped away from my throat. I collapsed on the ground to see something huge and furry and black dragging Laurent to the edge of the meadow. The pain shot through me, making it's way down my arm and across my chest slowly, agonizingly. I tried not to scream, tried not to draw attention to myself as that big black animal was still in the meadow fighting with Laurent.
Just as my mind and body were about to succumb to the pain that was spreading, I caught sight of four more of the creatures entering the clearing. Bleary eyed, I watched them as they too joined the fight. It was a blur of fur and Laurent's dark complexion. Occasionally I was able to get a better look at them and I realized what they were. They weren't bears. They were wolves. Huge, horse-sized wolves. Just then the burn surged and I lost all bits of coherence.
I ripped the beast off of Bella and threw him across the clearing. It didn't take long for us to get the upper hand on him once the rest of the pack showed up. I couldn't get over the speed of these things, but thankfully, this time, we were faster. We were stronger and better and in no time we had him burning to a pile of ash. I turned when I heard an agonized howl echo through the meadow. Jake was whimpering, hovering over Bella's writhing form. My heart sank to my stomach at the sight. We were just moments too late.
Jake phased back to human form and sobbed, unashamed of shedding unmanly tears. He loved her with everything he had. I could tell that she was changing. Her scent had began to take on a minute amount of the sweet vampire stench. I didn't know what to do. I knew we couldn't risk the safety of an entire area of people for one.
"Jacob, you know what we have to do." I didn't want to think of the possibility. Charlie was a well respected man and this would gut the entire area. Jacob snarled and rose to his feet, cradling Bella in his arms.
"No Sam, I won't let you do this! She doesn't have to die!"
I went to put my hand on his shoulder but he pulled away, snarling. "Jacob, she's already as good as dead. She will be one of them. There is nothing we can do to help her now. We can't risk the tribe, or Forks. I know you love her, but we have to do what our destiny says is best for our people. And what about Charlie? What if she kills him? Would you risk him?" This was killing me to say this. Our job as protectors up to this point had been so impersonal. We patrolled, we chased this dark-skinned, dred-headed fuck and his crazy red haired cohort. We made sure the hikers those monsters were feeding on had their bodies found so they could receive a proper burial and closure for their families. But it had never hit home like it was this afternoon.
"No, absolutely not. I'll take care of her. I'll take her away from here. I'll teach her the Cullen's way of life. Sam, you know I'm strong enough to control her. She might be different. I can help her!"
The look in his eyes was enough to make anyone cave. We had always thought of vampires as soulless monsters. They were to be killed on sight, no questions asked, just to rid the world of the filthy parasites. I had never though that at one time, they were all people. Every vampire was possibly someone's mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, or friend. And yet, we were expected to be judge and jury on the creatures they are now, not the people they once were. Bella Swan was a good person. She didn't deserve this fate, but she didn't deserve to be killed by our hands either. I had my answer. I sighed and shook my head, rubbing the back of my neck to try to relieve the tension. As I looked around at the rest of the pack, I could tell they agreed with Jacob.
"Alright, fine. I can't believe I'm doing this, but she is family, and we take care our own. Emily's uncle had a cabin in the woods up north. He died last year, but the family still owns it, they just don't do anything with it. You'll have to bring her there and keep her there. There's nothing around, but you need to make sure that she does not kill a human. If you say you'll teach her the Cullen's way of life, then she better only be feeding on animals. Jacob, you have no idea what you are taking on."
At that point, Quill and Embry stepped forward. "We'll help him."
"No, I can't have the res abandoned like that. We still need to try to catch the red head." I couldn't believe that I was suggesting this.
"Those of you who want to help with this can take shifts. We'll see how it goes having one at a time with her. I'm sure it's going to take her some time to get used to this new life. I've heard that new vampires are crazed and difficult. Jacob, if this is what you want, you better be committed to it."
He looked at me with relief shining from every inch of his face. "I am and I will."
"Well, come on then, I'll show you to the cabin. It's quite a run from here but we need to get there soon." Bella was screaming in pain and we needed to get out of here. I took her bloody jacket off so we could stage her death. I guess an animal attack was as good an excuse as any.
Things had been rough since Bella's birthday. She had told me that she didn't blame me, but I could feel it. I could feel it from all of them. It was only a matter of time before the one that mattered started to verbalize it. From there, it got ugly, really ugly. But I stayed, like the good little puppy she had trained me to be. It became unbearable at times, but I didn't know what else I could do. Over the years she had metaphorically ripped off my balls and kept them tied up with a pretty pink, Prada of course, bow. Then the vision hit that would be her downfall. There were actually two, and by the time she got them we were all powerless to change the outcome.
As I walked through the corridors that led to the exit of the castle, I found it strange that though my brain was telling me I should feel guilty, my heart couldn't grasp the emotion. The family had not taken this decision lightly. We had tried everything we knew of to help her, but to no avail. Carlisle tried every trick he had up his scrub sleeves, but nothing worked. I guess vampire venom can't cure everything and there are some conditions that come back three-fold. I stayed up until this point out of obligation for the years of love she had given me, right up until that fateful day. Her ramblings when things went downhill hinted to the fact that this was all a sham, that our marriage had never been more than an empty shell. I didn't know what to believe. She could have been right and the more I thought about it, I realized she was. The family didn't want to believe it either. They were another obligation that I felt. But now that this was taken care of, that she was no longer a danger, I had no obligations. For the first time in decades I felt more free than when I had pulled myself out from under Maria's evil thumb. I was free, and I had no idea what to do with myself.
I don't think I can handle this.