A/N: I'd like to thank my friend, katinki (author of the fabulously brilliant vampire fic, Dark Games & Twisted Minds, among others) for pre-reading and giving me ideas on fleshing this out from the original version written on the Twilight Gift Exchange. Also, special thanks to Irritable Grizzzly, my beta and friend with the twitchy red pen, and SavageWoman, my sometimes writing partner, and beta for helping me on this work in progress. Readers, these ladies deserve your many thanks for the beauty of my words as they are posted.
Summary: Bella's heart is so severely damaged from a lingering childhood illness. She has been told she will die, short of a heart transplant or a miracle. Edward is a vampire who struggles with abstaining from human blood, but encounters, in Bella, his Yuletide Canticle while Christmas shopping. What happens when hopelessness and hunger collide? How do you give life to the very one whose blood sings to you like no other?
"My sister, Alice, has the gift of seeing the future. My brother, Jasper, who is also Alice's mate, can manipulate and control the emotions of others. I can read minds."
"Wait, so if you can read minds, why didn't you just tell me what I was thinking a few minutes ago?" Her cheeks grew a dark pink at the prospect.
"Your mind is closed to me," he said as if he were quite pleased with that fact.
"Is there something wrong with me, I mean, besides the obvious?"
He chuckled. "I have confessed to you that I am a vampire and can read minds, and you think there's something wrong with you?"
"I have rheumatic heart disease, and my mind can't be read by my gifted vampire boyfriend. I find that kind of problematic," she said, chagrined.
He laughed outright then, and it was like music to her ears.
"So glad you find me amusing," she said with a playful smirk.
"Bella, I do find you amusing, but I also find you kind and compassionate, intriguing and brilliant, mysterious and exciting, and utterly delectable."
She was quiet for a few seconds. "Did you want to… kill me… when we first met?"
"Yes, I wanted your blood more than any I have encountered in all my years as a vampire."
"What stopped you?"
"Alice," he said simply, but she could see disappointment in himself on his face.
"She called you when we were in the exhibition hall at Les Salons Des Métiers D' Art. Now I remember."
"Alice convinced me that you were important to my future. That you are my future." He reached out and caressed her cheek with his cool hand.
Bella placed her warm hand over his. "I want to believe Alice. I want to believe that we have a future, but I know what the doctors have been telling me. Do you know of any vampire who has the power to heal humans?"
"As a rule, my kind is consumed with taking the lives of humans, not preserving them."