Chapter 1 – The Reason
Note to readers: This is my first chapter story. I'm uber-nervous, so I already wrote a few chapters to get a little head start. I'm planning to post them about once a week. I don't have a Beta, so any errors are mine and mine alone. Hope there aren't too many! I try to be careful.
Just playing with Ms. Meyer's characters a little.
"I have to go to Vancouver, BC," Edward announced out of the blue as I was about to take another bite of waffle. "I'll only be gone a day, maybe two."
"What? Why? What's in Vancouver?" I was taken aback at this sudden news, and instantly I started to panic. Too many things had happened already in too short a time frame and even though I'd just slept the whole night, I was still exhausted from it all. I didn't think there was any way possible to make me feel more exhausted, but it seemed Edward had managed to find something.
"It's nothing. I just need to go. It's a short trip. You'll hardly know I'm gone," Edward's reply softened as he stroked my arm in an attempt to calm me.
It took a minute to clear my mind. "How can you say it's nothing? You're talking about leaving me here while you go to Canada, right?"
He averted his eyes, but nodded.
As quickly as the panic had set in, it was replaced by anger. "Edward! I can't believe you would even consider leaving, especially right now, after all we just went through! You think a day or two counts as a 'short trip?' Right now, a trip to the bathroom seems like a too long for me to be away from you."
"Bella, it's no big deal. I just have to take care of some unfinished business," he replied a little too casually.
"What unfinished business could you possibly have in Canada? You don't really think you get to announce that you're leaving and I'm just going to sit here and smile while you drive off into the sunset, do you? If it's no big deal, then of course I'm coming with you."
"No, Bella. It's something I have to do alone." The look on his face told me he was planning to be firm on that point. I, however, had no trouble dealing with his stubbornness, and I would definitely NOT stand by as he walked away from me again. He promised he wouldn't, and I would hold him to it.
"Unless you're going there to hunt, you aren't leaving me behind," I replied matter-of-factly.
"Well, I am going there to hunt, sort of… and if all goes well, I'll be back by this time tomorrow."
"OK, first, what do you mean by sort of going there to hunt? And second…, if all goes well? What are you supposedly hunting that might not go well?" I was determined to pull the truth out of him.
Edward sighed rather dramatically. "Bella, yesterday, Victoria got too close. If Seth hadn't been there…" he trailed off, shaking his head at the memory. "This trip… well, it's the only loose end and another thing that is simply too dangerous. I'm not going to risk your life ever again, and certainly not two days in a row."
"Do you remember why I insisted you come with me to the campsite, away from the battle? I needed you with me. Not want, Edward… NEED. I was the most selfish I've ever been in my life! I took you away from your family when I'm sure they could have used your help with the fight, but I wasn't going to make it without you. Don't you see? I can't be away from you like that, especially after what happened yesterday… The things I saw…" I all but whispered as the memories of the day began to overwhelm me again.
He pulled me close, and if he could have cried, I think he would have. I was already tearing up enough for the both of us.
"Bella, love, I'm so sorry for what you had to endure. You were stronger than I could have ever imagined. And more than anything, I truly don't want to leave you right now. Not ever, for that matter. If there was something I could do… another way to make this right, I would do it in a heartbeat. It's just that… I inadvertently made a promise yesterday, and I have to fulfill it," he sighed again.
I slowly took a half step back and lifted my head to look directly into his eyes. My voice was tiny, but what I had to say was not. "Edward… is that promise more important than the one you made to me?"
His eyes widened and he looked like I'd slapped him with the strength of a newborn. "Of course not, Bella! You're more important to me than anything. You know that!"
"Then how could you consider leaving me now, after the most terrifying day of my life?"
"I don't know what to say. I don't want to leave you. I wish I could make you understand how much it pains me to think of leaving you, even for a day. But I have this one opportunity to fix something. If I don't do this in the next few hours, it's over. I should have left last night, but I couldn't. I couldn't bear to leave you then either, but time is running out. If I don't make this right, I may not ever have another chance," he explained, although not thoroughly enough for me.
"Edward, just tell me what you feel you have to do! If you would stop being so cryptic and just say it…"
He paused, obviously contemplating how much, if anything, to tell me. "There's someone I have to see. I'm the only one who can find him because I will be able to hear his thoughts. He's going to need my specific knowledge and insight. It could very well mean life or death to him, and he's… well, he's important to someone who helped us yesterday. Unfortunately, he would be especially dangerous to you."
I looked at him with suspicion now that he was slowly revealing more of the story. "Who is he, who is he important to, and why, exactly, would he be especially dangerous… to me?"
"Bella," he said, showing signs of exasperation. "You have so many questions and I know I'm not helping with that, but I just don't think it would be wise to explain all of this to you. Right now, I'm the only one who knows about this person, and it would be safer for everyone if that remained the case."
"How would anyone find out that I knew? You can't read my mind. Aro can't even read my mind. And you KNOW I can keep a secret," I laughed rather loudly. "Anyway, your attempt at secrecy doesn't really matter, because I'm sure Alice has already seen the whole thing, considering about five minutes ago you made a decision to go to Canada. And if she knows, she'll tell Jasper, and if what you're doing is dangerous, they'll tell Carlisle and Esme. And it would just be a matter of time before Emmett and Rosalie found out. The cat's already out of the bag, or did you forget who your family is…?" I added with an eye roll for emphasis.
Edward looked flustered. He knew I was right about how news travelled through his family, and he would have to intercept it before it made the circuit. "I need to find Alice and Jasper right now."
"I believe that's my cue," Alice smirked as she stepped into the kitchen with Jasper on her heels. I hadn't even heard them come in. "Bella, Edward is right. It's too dangerous for you. Unless…" she paused, waiting.
"NO." Edward's voice sounded almost vicious, especially when he added a snarl or two.
"Take it easy, man," Jasper murmured as a sense of calm washed over us. "And don't growl at my wife. I tend to take that a little personally."
"Sorry… It's just that this is very serious. Alice, now that you know who I'm going to see, you have to agree it's a bad idea to take Bella along," Edward half-apologized, half-rationalized.
"If it was just the two of you, yes. But if Jasper and I came with you…" Alice added, pausing again.
Edward started whispering furiously, inciting Jasper and Alice to do the same. Every so often, one of them would gesture at me, and I struggled to listen, but it was nothing more than a buzz to my ears.
"Umm, people. Standing right here," I reminded them. "You could just talk TO me instead of ABOUT me."
The three of them stopped immediately. Alice stepped forward, looking a little sheepish. "Sorry, Bella. That was rude. It's just that there's more to the situation than Edward knew and now we have some other decisions to make. Edward does need to go, but not for the same reasons he thought he did. "
"I'm going to assume this is related to me," I huffed. "If it's about me, all the more reason for me to be involved. Now, tell me what's going on! In the past minute, the circumstances already changed drastically and I didn't even know what they were in the first place!"
"Well, here's the problem," Alice began, cautiously looking to Edward for approval. When he finally nodded, she continued. "When Edward decided to go to Canada, curiosity got the better of me, so I looked at who he was thinking about. He has your scent, Bella. He hasn't decided whether or not to pursue it, but part of him wants to. Your blood calls to him, almost like it does to Edward, and he thinks about it more than he should."
Something didn't make sense to me. "But you've seen him in your vision, right? So now that you know who he is, you'd be able to see if he was coming for me, right? Can't you just watch for him to make a decision, and then intercept him if he gets too close?"
Alice again looked to Edward for approval, which he reluctantly gave with another nod. "I would be able to see him, yes. But I wouldn't be able to see him."
"Alice, you're not making sense!" I was in no mood for riddles.
"Bella," Edward answered as he took my hands in his, "He… this vampire, has a gift. He can make himself invisible to people if he doesn't want to be seen. I'm pretty sure, based on Alice's vision, that I'll be able to hear him, even if I can't see him. And now that I know he may be interested in you, he's a threat."
"But I thought you were just going to talk to him. What happened to you imparting your vast wisdom or whatever?" I hadn't intended to sound so sarcastic…
"That was my plan, but now that Alice has seen him thinking about your blood, the plan has changed. Before, I was mostly going to tell him the rules of vampire life, but now everything has become much, much more serious." Edward's tone was ominous.
"Dun dun dun," I sang the foreboding melody in my deepest voice, trying to break the tension a little, although even I didn't think it was particularly funny. Not when we were talking about matters of life and death… my life and death, or worse yet, Edward's.
Edward tried to humor me with a little smirk, but it looked a lot more like a grimace. "Bella, this is why you can't go with me. He's a newborn, and he's going to be stronger than me. If he caught your scent, he would most definitely try to get to you. I don't know that I could stop him, even though I would die trying. And before you say it, yes, I could probably take him down first, but 'probably' isn't good enough for me. Not when it comes to you and your safety," he said as he stroked my cheek softly.
"OK, but I don't have to be with you when you meet him. I could just go along, so I wouldn't have to be here alone, worried. Not right now. Just thinking about it makes me feel sick to my stomach."
Edward started to respond, but Alice quickly interrupted. "Edward, I already told you that you can't go alone. It doesn't go well."
"Alice!" Edward exclaimed a little too late.
"What do you mean it doesn't go well?" I asked. Whatever it was, it didn't sound good.
Edward glared at Alice and it appeared she was going to modify her answer, but she blurted out, "I don't see him coming back."
"That's not going to happen. There's no need to worry Bella over speculation. I'm just going to talk to the guy. It'll be fine," Edward insisted.
"You know better than to bet against Alice," Jasper shot back.
"Jasper and Edward could go together, but…" Alice said as she looked down at the floor.
"But what?" I demanded.
"Well, it's complicated," Alice continued, suddenly trying to avoid answering. I tapped my foot impatiently, and she knew I wasn't going to let it go. "It's just that…"
"Oh, Alice. Just say it!" I was getting to the end of my rope.
"I hate to have to tell you this, but if Edward leaves you today, your relationship will never recover. It won't happen right away, and you'll try to forgive and forget, but you'll never fully trust him again. Eventually it will tear the two of you apart," she answered quickly, like saying it fast would make it less painful.
Everyone froze as I took a long moment to digest that information. As much as I wanted to deny the possibility, it could happen that way. I knew without trust, I could never even hope to forge a lasting relationship with anyone, let alone a vampire. It had been difficult enough to trust him again after he left me the first time. I wasn't sure I would survive another breach of faith. In my heart, I knew it didn't matter that it was just for a day. The mere fact that he would leave me again, breaking his promise twice, might be the death of 'us.'
"And what if he doesn't go at all?" I asked, hopeful that this entire thing could be avoided.
"The vampire may seek you out, or he might not. He hasn't decided. His mind is going back and forth on the subject. He's also curious to find out more about us, the ones he calls the 'yellow eyes.' I think he's trying to figure out some way to rationalize a stopover in Forks, because as he thinks about his future, his interest in us and desire for your blood are getting stronger," Alice warned.
Now, one might think I would eventually become quite accustomed to the idea of vampires desperately wanting my blood, since it happened so often now, but it was just one of those things that never became routine. I turned back to Alice. "OK, so what do we do? How will this work?"
Alice closed her eyes to concentrate. She began carefully. "Well, the only course of action that appears to have a good outcome all around is if the four of us go together. Unless something changes, we'll find this vampire, talk to him, set him straight, and be on our way home before rush hour."
"OK, then. That's the plan. Are we all in?" I asked, looking at Edward, just daring him to oppose me.
Jasper, Alice, and Edward shared a knowing glance that didn't escape my attention. I was about to ask what it was about when Edward nodded. "I don't like it, but… it's a plan."
Relieved, I started thinking of logistics. "What about Carlisle and Esme? Aren't they going to wonder where we're going and why?"
"Edward calls them to explain, and at first they want to go, too, especially Emmett, but then he tells them why that won't work and they understand it would be better if it's just the four of us," Alice replied like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Maybe someone can explain to ME why it's better if it's just the four of us," I thought out loud. The three vampires shared another meaningful glance. "OK, what's up? What am I missing?"
Jasper jumped in. "Alice saw that having too many of us there would scare him off. The three of us may overwhelm him a little as it is."
That made sense, but it still felt like an incomplete answer. I decided to let it go, for now. I needed a lot of answers, so I would just add this to the growing list in my head. There was only one thing I needed to know right now…
"Edward, who did you make a promise to that's taking us up to British Columbia?"
His answer startled me. "Bree."