Stephenie Meyer owns all TWILIGHT characters.

Thank you to LightStarDusting who donated money to Alex's Lemonade Stand via The Fandom Gives Back for this story.


The first time Rosalie Hale saw the man with striking features and pale skin, she wanted him, more than anything she'd ever wanted before.

In the fading light of another plain day, she left a jewelry store on the arm of Royce King II. No new trinket adorned her skin, not this time, but she had watched Royce as he stood over a counter display of diamond rings. He hadn't said anything, had barely looked over at her, but her heart thudded in her chest in anticipation of wearing one of those rings on her finger.

As they walked down the street, Royce was distracted. His head turned every time someone walked by, a move that made Rosalie press closer to him with every step, as though she could make him return her attention. One time, when she followed his line of sight to another curvaceous blonde, her eyes narrowed then drifted off to the side.

Her breath hitched and she faltered in her steps.

He was beautiful; no other word could describe him. He was leaning against the side of a small men's shop, his body hidden slightly in the shadows of a green awning, and only streaks of his pale face were visible to her. As though he could sense her, he shifted and his face also fell into the shadows.

Clothes that were neat and tailored screamed a substantial amount of money in the face of the country's financial distress. Rosalie couldn't help but compare the unknown man to Royce. Where the stranger was tall with perfect lines that fell from his shoulders down to the length of his legs in a slate gray infused with thin white pinstripes, Royce looked almost drab in comparison in a dull brown double-breasted suit.

Yes, he was beautiful, and part of Rosalie longed to have her hand on the crook of his elbow.

His face turned again and Rosalie reeled back at the look he gave her. It was a piercing gaze and they seemed to flash in both want and warning. Her sudden halting of movement caused Royce to pause and look down at her. He raised his eyebrows at her in question though Rosalie saw annoyance lurking on his face.

"Do you know him?" she asked, curiosity infused in her voice. "I've never seen him before."

"And do you often look at other men, Rose?" At the sneer, Rosalie turned her face and tilted it up to look at Royce.

"Don't be foolish, Royce; I merely noticed him standing there."

After a moment during which Royce studied Rosalie's face, he spoke again, "Lespere. Edward Lespere."

Rosalie turned her head again but he was gone. "Edward," she said quietly. She raised her voice. "Is he new to town?"

The grip on Rosalie's arm tightened as Royce shook his head. "He moved here almost two years ago with his sister and her new husband. The Masens, I believe they are." His lip curled up in distaste. "They stay locked up in that house of theirs right outside town."

They began walking toward the restaurant where they were scheduled to meet with the Hales for dinner. "Do you know much about them?" She blinked long lashes up at Royce. "It's strange, isn't it, that I've never seen them?"

"They're up to no good, Rose."

"What do you mean?"

They arrived at the restaurant and Royce led her inside. "There's just something strange about them. They never come to town and they've never once tried to introduce themselves. What kind of people would hide all the time?" His face broke out into a smile, though it wasn't genuine, when Rosalie's parents approached them. "Don't think on them, Rose." He grabbed her left hand and brushed a thumb over her fourth finger. "Think on other things tonight."

Edward was on her mind all night, though. Her parents asked if she was unwell and Royce's hand on her knee kept her on edge but, still, all she could see was the sharp angle of Edward's jaw in partial shadow. The appearance of a small box jolted her out of her thoughts and she stared down at it.

"Rose?"

She looked up. Her parents were smiling at her. Her younger brothers, though they didn't know what was happening, stayed silent when they felt the mood at the table change. Royce stared at her, waiting for an answer that seemed to get stuck in her throat. As if she needed something to make her decision, Royce opened the box to reveal a solitaire diamond.

"Oh," she breathed as the lights hit the jewel and sent multicolored lights flashing against the white tablecloth. "This is..."

"Marry me, Rose." Royce's hand tightened on her knee.

"I..." She blinked and caught her parents' gazes, one of excitement and the other of suppressed sadness. "Yes, of course," Rosalie finally answered, smiling brightly though her eyes matched that of her father's. "I'd be honored to marry you, Royce."

The rest of the dinner went smoothly though Rosalie felt like she was on autopilot. She answered questions and shared in her mother's delight of the engagement but she suddenly felt tired. When the food was cleared and they stood in front of the restaurant, Rosalie was more than happy to accept Royce's kiss on her cheek and go home with her parents.

That night, as she stared up at the ceiling of her bedroom, Rosalie thought of him, of Edward. When her eyes began to feel heavy and fell, obscuring her vision, Rosalie remembered the way his eyes seemed to call to her. There was perfection in him that she couldn't explain but it demanded her attention. She shivered beneath her blanket.

Days and weeks passed. Rosalie wished he would reappear but he seemed to be nonexistent. She wanted to speak to him, wanted to say his name and ask if his French surname meant he flew over from Europe, and why. She wanted to give him her name so that his lips would say the three syllables. She wondered how it would sound.

It happened, one night, out of the blue. She was walking from a friend's home when she felt the sensation of someone watching her. No, not just watching, but also studying her. As discreetly as she could, Rosalie turned her head one way then the other. There was no one there and so she hurried her pace.

The streets were full for a Thursday night. The body she hit was solid, almost hard enough to bruise her, and Rosalie let out a gasp of surprise. Her face lifted and her eyes widened in surprise, jaw dropping at how close Edward stood.

"You," she gasped. His eyes, a burning color that reminded her of the persimmons she once ate while attending dinner at the King estate, stared at her unblinking. Rosalie felt herself getting lost in their unnatural hue. Without thought, she lifted a hand to his face, as though she wanted to capture the color on her fingertips.

His fingers were cold and unyielding as they trapped her wrist in a tight grip. Rosalie gasped. He brought her hand down from where it hovered near his face. "You've been searching for me." He said it blandly. Rosalie shook her head. "You have."

Eyes the color of the sky hardened and she lifted her chin. "So what if I was?"

A smirk played on Edward's lips. "Have you taken offense? I was merely stating a fact." Rosalie narrowed her eyes and made to turn but his grip on her wrist held her in place. "You have questions for me."

"If I do?"

"Ask and perhaps I'll answer." Edward's eyes glinted as though he was amused. "Unless you'd rather I leave you alone."

"No!" Rosalie's voice was loud in the near-empty street. "No," she repeated more quietly. "You don't come to town often." Edward shook his head once. "Why?"

"Are you sure that's the question you'd like to ask?" His words moved up and down, almost as though he was making a song, and his tone was teasing.

Rosalie twisted her wrist and felt him let go of her. She rubbed at her skin where the leather of his gloves had almost caressed her. "Is there a limit to my questions?"

Edward smirked again. His eyes – such an unusual mixed shade of deep gold and light brown – seemed to sparkle playfully. "Five," he told her.

"Five," she repeated slowly. "Then, yes, that is one of my questions."

He leaned down. A hand moved her hair from her ear, pushing the cascade of waves over her shoulder, to whisper, "No one in town has ever caught my attention." He let his hand drift over her coat. "Until now." He took a step away. "Until next time, Miss Hale."

Rosalie stared at him as he walked away from her. She wanted to call out to him, for him, but she was immobile, speechless and dazed from his words and his touch. By the time she was able to get her bearings again, he was gone and only the wind remained.

The interaction caused an imbalance in her life. She still played the part of the perfect fiancé and preened when her friends commented on her luck and beauty and love. At night, though, when she was alone in her bed, she remembered the color of his eyes, the cadence of his voice, the gentleness of his touch. She searched for him every time she walked alone at night but he didn't want to be found.

Snow fell during the month of February. Royce took her out on the 14th but it seemed like he did it out of obligation and not because he wanted to spend the night with her. Rosalie sat at the table of the small restaurant and felt invisible. Royce barely spoke to her but his hand was heavy on hers atop the table. Fingers stroked the back of her hand but gripped tightly whenever another man walked by the table as though he wanted everyone to know she was taken. After dinner, he walked her home and kissed her cheek, pausing before leaving more kisses on her skin until his mouth was on hers. She melted into his touch, believing the kiss to be more than it was. He left after a possessive touch over her waist and then she heard his voice.

"He's not who you think he is."

Rosalie turned and saw Edward leaning on the side of her house. Her brows furrowed as she walked slowly to him. "And what do you mean by that?"

Pushing off the brick wall, he took a step up to the small porch that ran along the front of the building. His hands – gloved again – curled around the banister. His smile was teasing but also a bit sinister. "Is that another of your questions?"

"You play games, sir, and I don't think I like them."

The smile vanished from Edward's face and he tipped an invisible hat. "My apologies, then." He lowered a foot to the ground.

"Wait, no," Rosalie called to him. His body reappeared. "Yes, count that as another question. What do you mean by that statement?"

Tension passed between them before Edward brushed his fingers over an exposed part of Rosalie's neck. "He sees you as a trinket, a bauble he can show off to his friends. You're starting to believe him."

"I'm not a trinket," Rosalie said, anger infused in the words.

He cupped her face with the palm of his hand. "I know that. You may be beautiful but there is more to you than meets the eye. Perhaps you should remind your family and friends of that."

Again, he left her and again, Rosalie thought of him for days. He knew more than he should, understood her like no one else had before, and it unnerved her. The words he said made her more curious and made her want to ask him more questions. She barely slept at night, instead choosing to think of Edward and his mysterious façade, and those around her began to notice.

It was her mother who asked first, commenting on the dark shadows beneath her eyes. Rosalie tried to brush it off as stress about the upcoming wedding but her mother merely stared at her for a few minutes before reminding her that outward appearances were of the utmost importance. That night, when Royce came to visit with the heavy stench of tobacco on his clothes and breath, he asked if she was unwell. When she shook her head, he requested that she sleep a bit more so she looked more refreshed when they went out with his friends.

She took the criticism quietly but, inside, she fumed.

Edward appeared the evening after Royce's request. She stood outside the bank where Royce was beginning to take over his father's work. The sun had already set but the sky still had hues of lightness. Rosalie turned her head and caught Edward's gaze. After a moment to make sure no one was paying attention, she walked over to where he stood and stared in the same direction as him.

"They don't care enough," he said simply. As he stood unwavering, he plucked at the fingers of his left glove, until he could free his hand from the confines of the fabric. He did the same to his right hand and Rosalie stared, mesmerized, at the paleness of his skin.

His words penetrated her brain. "Or perhaps they care too much," she argued.

"Do they?" Edward questioned. Long fingers tucked the gloves inside a coat pocket. "Have they asked about your health? Have they tried to speak to you about what's on your mind?" Rosalie remained silent. "Or do they just ask if you're getting enough sleep? Perhaps they merely comment on the lack of perfection in your looks."

"How dare you," she began but she fell silent when Edward turned his gaze on her. His eyes were darker than normal, almost an unearthly shade of black. "Your eyes," she said softly.

"Tell me, Rosalie, is it my presence that is causing your lack of sleep? Shall I leave you to your dreams of a perfect life and your hopes that everything will fall as they should?" Again, she said nothing so Edward nodded his head and turned away.

"You're on my mind constantly," she said quietly. "I don't know you but I want to understand you." Edward slowly turned to face her again. "I feel as though you already know me somehow."

His fingers moved a blond curl from her face but didn't touch her skin. "I know the important parts of you, Rosalie, the parts that no one sees, the parts you often hide."

"How?" she breathed. The unmistakable feeling of dread curled in her stomach. "How do you know?"

"You're using up your questions."

"Rose!" Royce's voice called to her and Rosalie spun quickly to see her fiancé walking quickly to her. "Who were you talking to?" he demanded.

Rosalie glanced surreptitiously over her shoulder but saw no one. "What do you mean?" she asked sweetly. Royce glanced around but there was no one around them. "Are you feeling well?" He didn't answer her; he only led her down the street, glancing over his shoulder every few minutes.

That night, Rosalie sat in bed, twisting her fingers. A phone call had come earlier to tell her that one of her closest friends had safely given birth to a baby boy. Rosalie's heart felt full at the thought of seeing Vera's newborn – Henry, she had said on the phone. A wind blew through her hair and caught her attention; Rosalie gasped when she saw Edward standing outside her window.

"How did you –" She ran to the window and Edward stepped to the side. The roof of the porch was solid beneath his feet and a ladder leaned against its side. "What are you doing here?" Realizing she was only in a nightgown, Rosalie stepped back into her room and brought her blanket around her. Her dressing robe was on the other side of the room and she didn't want him to see any more of her than he should.

"I know who you are because I pay attention," Edward said softly. "I watch you and I see the little things no one else does." Rosalie stared at him, her mouth slightly open. "You touch everything you can reach as though you want to learn more about their textures and what makes them the way they are. You tilt your head to one side when you're listening to the conversations around you so that you don't miss any bit of news. You look at the world around you like you want more than what you've been given."

Rosalie's lower lip trembled. For the first time, someone paid attention to her, not just the blond hair and blue eyes and full lips and curves of a body. Edward was suddenly kneeling at her bedside, careful not to touch her or the blanket that wrapped around her. Instead, his palms lay flat on the bed on either side of her legs.

"There is more to you than your looks. You know it as much as I do; yet, you allow those who claim to love you to belittle your mind."

"They just don't know," Rosalie tried to explain.

"They don't look," he argued. He brought a hand up to her neck and she shivered involuntarily. "I see you the way you should be seen."

Her eyes shone in the dark of her room. "I'm glad you do."

An invisible thread pulsed between them. Rosalie could feel the way her body responded to his every move. Edward tried to ignore the siren song of her blood. Their faces moved closer to each other, hers in want and his in need.

"Tell me you feel it, too."

Edward's fingers pressed at her pulse. The skin of her neck turned white and her breath caught.

"I feel it. I shouldn't but I do."

She leaned her head down and Edward dipped his face to her neck. The warmth of her blood flowed beneath her skin. At the press of his mouth, Edward could feel the river that claimed him, wanted to make him wild.

"I can't do this."

"Why not?"

"Is that your fourth question?"

Rosalie said nothing so Edward leaned on her shoulder, bare except for the thick strap of her nightgown. The blanket had fallen to the crook of her elbow on her left side. He breathed her in and waited.

"No," she finally said.

"Good," he said. "There are things I can't tell you." He left a kiss on the steady beat of her pulse before he stood and looked down at her. "You're a beautiful person, Rosalie Hale, inside and out." His stare was intense. "Don't let the beauty outside take over who you really are."

He was halfway out the window when she spoke up. "When will I see you again?"

"Soon," he promised though his face was sad. "Soon."

Rosalie tried not to think about the look on Edward's face for the week that followed his late-night visit. As she sat in Vera's living room cradling Henry, she blocked the haunting gold from her mind and focused on the clear blue eyes that stared past her face to the ceiling. Henry was adorable with round cheeks and a smattering of brown curls atop his head. He barely cried and Rosalie reveled in the smooth softness of his skin.

"He's so wonderful," Rosalie told Vera in a quiet voice.

Her friend looked at her fondly. Rosalie had changed since they last saw each other. Instead of the hair tosses and fluttering lashes, Rosalie spoke her thoughts to anyone who would listen. More than once, Vera had noticed the stoniness in Royce's eyes when Rosalie seemed to speak too much for his liking.

"Soon the child in your arms will be your own," Vera said. She laid a hand on Rosalie's shoulder and felt the muscles beneath her palm tense. "Or is that not something Royce wants?" Before Rosalie could answer, the front door opened and Vera's husband walked in. Rosalie watched as Vera tilted her head for a kiss on the cheek and handed the baby to his father.

"I should go," she said softly.

Vera turned her gaze from her family to Rosalie. "You don't have to," she insisted. "Stay for a while longer."

Rosalie gave her a smile. "That's alright. I'll see you soon?" Vera nodded and helped Rosalie into her coat. They hugged by the door and Rosalie stepped out into the darkening night. She felt his presence as soon as she reached the sidewalk in front of Vera's house. Rosalie couldn't help the smile that graced her lips as she remembered Edward's lips against her neck.

"It's been a while," she said lowly. She looked up and her eyes moved to check the surroundings. "You shouldn't be seen with me. People have been talking."

"Let them talk," Edward said. There was mirth in his voice; it made her body warm from the inside out. "I'm merely a young man walking a friend home after-hours."

Rosalie smiled again and they walked in silence. Though a part of her was worried that word would reach Royce, she didn't care. Her fiancé had become strict with her and it unnerved her. For one night, even if it was only for a few short minutes, she wanted to walk without worry, speak without consequence. She felt happier and lighter than she had felt in a while. Edward, who seemed to know what she needed, walked at her side. Henry's eyes were still in her mind, the sweet child's tiny puckered mouth sending love pulsing through her limbs.

"Do you like children?" Edward's question broke the comfortable silence between them.

Her head lifted in surprise. "How do you always know?" she couldn't help but ask. When Edward merely tilted his head, she continued, "You always seem to know what's on my mind."

"Do I?" A little smirk formed on his face, a quirk of his mouth that made Rosalie stare. "I just thought it would make good conversation." His eyes glanced across the street where a couple walked. The woman pushed a stroller in front of her.

"I can't wait to have a family," Rosalie confessed. Her voice was soft as though she was telling him a secret. "Babies are so beautiful, so innocent." She paused. "Royce never speaks about starting a family. I don't know what the wants." Edward stayed silent. "What about you?"

"Me?" He placed a hand on her back and guided her to the left once they reached the corner of the street. He spoke slowly, as though he was telling her a secret. "I never really thought of having children before."

"What do you think now?"

He glanced at her quickly. "There's no point in discussing it now." Rosalie's eyebrows drew in until something seemed to click in her mind. In her mind, she went through the few ailments she knew might cause sterility. "You understand why I don't often think about them now?"

"Yes," she answered in a tiny voice. "I apologize. I didn't know."

"No harm done."

They continued walking. As Rosalie looked around, she realized they were walking further from her house. They were, in fact, walking in the opposite direction, toward the borders of town. Her heart sped up momentarily.

"I wanted to show you something," Edward told her. "I hope you don't mind the slight detour."

"N-no," she stammered. She trusted him. After so many weeks and months spent in easy companionship, she trusted him to not hurt her and to keep her safe, but her mind warned her to be careful. "What is it?"

He said nothing, only guided her forward. After a few more minutes of silence, they were in a small open field, a patch of grass that was rare in this part of town. The sounds of the main part of town were still present; laughter and loud voices filled the air around them but, for the most part, they were alone.

"Look up," Edward said quietly. As she lifted her face, Edward brought a hand to the smooth column of her neck. His fingertips brushed against her skin and she shivered. "The sky here – it's beautiful, isn't it?"

Rosalie silently agreed. A natural painting, the sky above them was a stormy shade of violet. Streaked across its dark expanse were filters of mellow blues and deep pinks. As she stared, she wondered if she would ever feel that beautiful, if Royce would ever make her feel like she was as untouchable as the canvas of the stars.

"He should," Edward whispered. He was dangerously close to her ear, his mouth almost touching her skin. "If he knew what was good for him, he would think all of that and more."

He knows, she thought. He hears.

"I do," he confessed. "You make me do things I shouldn't, Rosalie." He inhaled deeply. His nose skimmed the plane behind her ear, down her jaw, and to the smooth column of her neck. "You make me want things I've tried to stay away from."

Distract him.

"Yes," he hissed into the harsh beating of her pulse. "Distract me."

"Am I beautiful to you?" she blurted out. It was the first thing she could think to say, the words she often asked Royce when she wanted him to pay attention to her. She felt Edward's mouth curve into a smile; her body shivered as his teeth were bared slightly from the motion. "People tell me I'm pretty but sometimes," she paused for a moment, "sometimes I don't believe them."

"Why is that?" His left hand rose to settle on the opposite side of her neck. His fingers, touching the curve of her face, tilted her head so that he could see her neck stretched for him, could see the sinuous veins that corded beneath her skin.

Rosalie's eyes shut. "They talk of my physical attributes only."

"Is that not what you're asking?" His mouth made a dotted trail of kisses up and down her neck. Her blood called to him. The venom fought its way to his mouth but Edward swallowed it down. He wouldn't. He couldn't.

"You know it's not." Rosalie brought a hand up and touched the back of Edward's wrist. He was so cold. "You always know."

Edward lifted his head from her neck. Slowly, carefully, he turned her head so they faced each other. In her eyes, Edward saw Rosalie's wishes. Her thoughts were a myriad of fears and misunderstandings and yearnings but her eyes – so blue, so clear – told him what she wanted. His fingers pressed against her cheek.

"You belong to another."

I don't want it. I thought I did but I don't.

"I can't take you to be mine."

Just once, Edward.

A hunger rose inside of him at her words but the venom stayed clear of his mouth. Desire burst through him as she looked at him, wanting him despite the unknown.

"You ask too much," he said lowly.

She brazenly stared at him. "I ask for what I want. Will you give it?"

His mouth fell on hers, a bruise of cold and warmth. Rosalie gasped at the sudden kiss and Edward tasted her, brushed his tongue inside the heat of her mouth. He felt the pull of his shirt as Rosalie grasped the fabric between weak hands. The sound of her blood roared in his ears. Her heart raced against his empty chest. He wanted. He took.

Rosalie couldn't breathe. He consumed her, dulled all of her senses until she could only smell him, could only taste the sweet mint of his mouth, could only hear the growls from the back of his throat. She wanted more and tried to pull the shirt from his body but his coat was in the way and then his fingers grasped her wrists.

"No," he said forcefully.

"Please." She didn't care if she sounded desperate. "I want this."

"You don't know what you want." Yet, as Edward said the words, he left kisses across her cheek, by her ear, and down her neck. His cool fingers pushed aside her coat so he could taste the skin usually hidden by her clothing. The blood rose to the surface of her skin, a pretty flush that spread over her body. His nearness made her warm, made her body heat up to a level she'd never known. As quickly as he'd begun kissing her, Edward pulled away. He covered his mouth and nose with his hand, breathing in the small space that only held his scent. It was too close. She was too close.

"Edward?"

"I have to go."

"What? No!" Rosalie shook her head, covered herself, and reached for him. She winced when he backed away. "I'm sorry. I'm not... I'm not usually like this."

She spoke but Edward could only see the blood fading from her skin. The skin that covered the pulse in her neck rose and fell quickly, too quickly for anyone but his kind to notice. It teased him, called to the monster inside of him, the one he had only tamed again a few years before.

"I have to go," he repeated. Rosalie's eyes fell, embarrassed and uncertain. He wanted to reassure her that it wasn't her fault, wanted to tell her that he had no control, but the words stayed in his throat. "I'm sorry."

Rosalie watched him turn and run, away from her, away from what she offered. For the first time in years, she felt like a little girl. Her heart pounded and tears begged to be released but she took a deep, shaky breath. Without Edward next to her, the night seemed too quiet, too restricting. With another deep breath, she turned and walked toward town, hoping she remembered the path they had taken.

The lights of the main street soon came into view. Rosalie felt blinded by the brightness and every sound she heard was too loud. She took a moment to collect herself and, after a brief moment, she shook her head and began walking down the street toward her parents' house. There were less people out now and she silently cursed Edward for leaving her alone this late.

"Rose! Rosalie!"

She turned and saw Royce, her husband-to-be in such a short amount of time, and she walked to him, feeling the air grow colder around her with every step. He was standing outside a house a few streets away but she could feel his intense gaze on her. The streetlight above him was broken and, as she drew closer, she saw the group of men standing around him.

"Here's my Rose!" She smelled the alcohol on his breath and forced herself to mask the grimace that threatened to cover her face. His arm went around her waist and pulled her body close to his. "You're late," he said in broken, rambling words. "We're cold; you've kept us waiting so long."

Laughter filled the now-tense air. Rosalie glanced around furtively but the only people around ignored the raucous group of boys. Royce's grip was too tight and threatened to cut off her breathing. She struggled to get away but his hand was like a shackle on her waist. There were words, boisterous words and mocking words, but Rosalie couldn't hear. It was like an ocean was crashing over her.

His hands ripped open her coat and tore her hat from her hair. Hands that were too warm slid over her skin and it was wrong, all wrong. She wanted Edward's cold, especially now, needed him to save her from what she knew was the end of her innocence. The world spun around her and then she was in unfamiliar arms that grabbed too roughly and pushed too hard. She let out a strangled cry but a large hand covered her hand.

"Let him see," Royce rasped in her ear. "Let them all see."

Help me. Please. She begged for him to come, dared not say his name aloud, but she knew he could hear her thoughts somehow. Edward, please.

He didn't come.

Instead, Rosalie closed her eyes and hoped for peace in her mind as her body was ravaged, taken without permission, used for pleasure. The cold of the night seeped into her skin. Her body was mostly bare, only covered by threads of fabric that clung to the sweat that accumulated on her. She barely noticed when it was over. Royce stood above her and held her chin tightly.

"Not a word, Rose," he slurred. She shivered at the staleness of his breath, the grip of his fingers. "I can still call off the wedding."

The wedding was in a week, just a week, but Rosalie no longer wanted it. She accepted the engagement for her family and for her own status but, after tonight, she'd rather die than give herself to the Kings. As Royce's shadow disappeared from above her, Rosalie stared up at the sky. Even with the lights cutting through the natural beauty, she could see the colors and stars as Edward might have shown her.

Minutes passed and the cold crept over her. She couldn't move, too sore to attempt it and too hurt to care. The deep colors above her swirled until her eyes began to shut. Briefly, she wondered why it was so cold in April but she welcomed it, the iciness that suddenly felt like embracing arms.

"Rosalie?" Someone called her but she couldn't tell who it was. The voice was unfamiliar but it felt safe somehow. Her vision blinked in and out. "Rosalie, hold on. It will be okay."

Arms scooped her up and she almost screamed in fear and pain but he continued to speak to her. His lips were cold against her ear and cheek; it felt so much like Edward's touch. The lights of town disappeared after only a few seconds. A familiar scent crashed over her and she briefly wondered if Edward was nearby. Her thought was interrupted and the sudden rough feeling of tree bark at her back exacerbated her pain. She made a sound that felt like a question but it was chased away by a searing pain at her neck and wrists.

The cold disappeared. An all-consuming fire lit her body from the inside out. For the first time all night, Rosalie screamed, unable to hide the pain. The arms gathered her again and the world blurred around her. Her screams continued until she couldn't hear anything else but a single note screeched from her own mouth.

Carlisle looked down at Rosalie, this girl who had fascinated Edward for weeks now, and wondered if his decision would help or hurt the man he'd come to know as his son. Blood burst into the air around him, from the wounds he inflicted but also from the area between her legs, and he knew Edward would demand to know what happened. Shaking the thoughts from his mind, he ran as quickly as he could to their house outside of town. Knowing Edward was still hunting, he silently called out for him, needing him to be at the house when he arrived.

Minutes later, the front door slammed open to admit Carlisle into the house. Edward stared from his position on the staircase. His eyes were mixtures of tiny golden-orange flames. His skin was flushed from his recent feed but his senses were heightened. Rosalie's blood filled the air, not its usual sweetness but an acrid taste that made him grimace.

"Carlisle," Edward said his name lowly, almost painfully. "Carlisle, what have you done?"

Perfectly amber eyes merely glanced at Edward.

She's taken away your loneliness, Edward.

"No." The words made their way into Edward's mind and flowed inside his body like ribbons. "Carlisle, what have you done?" he repeated.

She was in pain. They hurt her. It was the only way.

Images filled his mind, not from Carlisle, but from Rosalie. Broken pictures told her story, a torn tale of the base animalistic urges of humans. Interspersed with the flickering images was his own face; the sight made his insides churn. He saw himself the way Rosalie must have seen him moments before the kiss. His eyes glowed unnaturally as he looked upon her face. A rare smile covered his lips.

"Carlisle." His voice cracked.

"Edward, I need to put her down."

"My room," Edward said quietly. He moved to let Carlisle pass him and shut his eyes tightly, turning his head to the side, as her blood beckoned him closer.

Carlisle hesitated once he was on the second floor. "Edward," he began.

"My room."

It took him a few minutes to control himself. He knew he should leave the house – Esme already had – but silent screams from Rosalie's mind made him stay. With slow steps, he made his way to the room he had claimed as his own, a spacious room that was mostly empty despite their time in the area.

"Edward," Carlisle said his name again. "She is... She could be perfect for you."

"We're too different," he said quietly. The kiss had confirmed that for him. She was beautiful, both in mind and body though her upbringing had made her care only for the body, but there was something missing when their lips came together. There was tenderness but sparks were lost, faded into the air between them.

On the bed, Rosalie shook in pain. Her body twisted against the unused sheets as low moans of pain filled the room. "Edward," she murmured. "Sa - e. - need - elp." Her words were broken, tiny pieces of glass that cut through her pain.

Edward turned to Carlisle. "What do you know?"

At the sound of his voice, Rosalie's body stilled, almost as though she felt safer with him near. Cautiously, Edward edged toward her, sitting on the bed and reaching a hand out to the torn pieces of clothing strewn across her body. Her skin was pale and beautiful, even against his own hand, and he listened to the silent story Carlisle told him of finding Rosalie in an alley and saving her.

"I know you cared for her," he said aloud.

Her hands clenched into fists, only loosening when Edward pried her fingers loose and pressed his palms into hers. "Yes," he said quietly. "Yes, I did. I do."

"She –"

"You should go to Esme," Edward interrupted him. He barely glanced away from Rosalie's trembling body, her bare skin where bruises in the shapes of fingers marred her. "I'll stay."

There was a pause. "Will you be okay?"

"I will," he responded. "Go. Please."

Once Carlisle was gone, Edward took his time taking the ripped pieces of fabric from Rosalie's body. She wouldn't want them on her, not if the memories racing through her mind were true, and he refused to make her suffer more after she woke up. He found an old shirt of his, a white one with buttons down the front, and set it on a chair to clothe her once two days had passed. There was no point in dressing her at the moment but he covered her with a thin sheet in a show of modesty.

For 48 hours, Edward sat at Rosalie's side, brushing cool hands over her quaking body, moving sweat-soaked skin away from her face. His fingers lingered at the corners of her eyes and he was saddened to realize he would never see the color of cornflowers again, not in her gaze. He felt helpless when her back arched away from the bed, when her fingers twisted in the sheets.

Guilt assuaged him. He hadn't been around during Esme's change so he never knew of the thoughts and memories and dreams that whipped through a person's mind during their final moments as a mortal. He knew what Rosalie longed to have – a love that was real, a happy family – and what memories were most important to her. As each moving picture played in her mind, he felt the pain deeply.

He knew he'd be the one to tell her of all she'd forget and all she couldn't have.

On her final day of transforming, Edward watched the bruises fade from Rosalie's skin; he only hoped the memory of what caused them would disappear just as easily. He wiped the thin sheen of sweat from her body with a damp towel, slowly and methodically. Rearranging her limbs, Edward sat behind her and detangled her hair with his fingers.

"Edward," she whispered his name again. He didn't answer. The beat of her heart, which had been steadily slowing down for the past two days, was now speeding up again, racing to the point that Edward swore he could feel it against his own chest. "Edward."

"Shh," he hushed her. His fingers continued smoothing out her hair. Bending his head to her ear, he whispered secrets of her new life, of what he'd do to protect her, of what he wished he could have done to save her from this change.

Still, the images in her mind sped by.

He promised to help her as much as he could.

She remembered the way her younger brothers had looked at her with adoration in their eyes and how she would kiss them at night before they gave in to the temptations of sleep.

He told her he would protect her as long as she allowed it.

She dreamt of a young girl with pale, blond ringlets. When the child lifted her face, Edward saw light brown eyes that almost matched his vampire ones.

He whispered his apologies at leaving her to the night, for being the reason she was alone and a victim of her own fiancé.

She remembered the first time she saw him. He was leaning against a building, hiding in the shadows as the final rays of the sun bore down on the streets of Rochester. She had been intrigued, then, and she had seared the shape of his face into her mind.

Edward slipped his shirt over her body. He would no longer feel cold to her touch. He laid her back down and stood by the window, the farthest he'd been since Carlisle had left them alone. He stared out the window as the beat of her heart pounded in his ears. Faster and faster it went until Edward thought he might scream.

And then nothing.

His fingers gripped the windowsill as the silence stretched. The wood splintered in his hold, the sound crackling loudly in the room. Edward kept his eyes closed, not wanting to see her reflection through the window.

The sheets shifted.

"Edward."

Her voice was different. He knew it would be different but it was still strange to hear the slight rise of timbre.

"Edward?"

Confusion laced the two syllables she spoke. She sat up in the bed too fast and steadied herself by grabbing the sheets. The rip caused by her nails was loud and Edward cringed slightly, uncertain of her reaction.

"What?"

Edward turned slowly, opening his eyes as he spun.

She was beautiful, even more than before.

"Edward," she said his name again. "Your name is Edward."

"It is," he said cautiously. He remembered the confusion that clouded his mind when he first woke up, remembered it only because Carlisle had told him about it. "How do you feel?"

The images assaulted him. Frame after frame of her final night as a human clicked in her mind. Edward felt sick as he saw Royce's smile, the way he called Rosalie over to him, the way he passed her on to his friends. She didn't have a chance at escaping the greedy hands that burned love from her heart and stole innocence from her skin.

"Kill me," she said in a desperate tone. As the memory overtook her senses, Rosalie reached an arm out toward Edward. "Kill me. Please."

As if a string stretched between their bodies, Edward lifted his own arm to her. He wanted to go to her, wanted to comfort her, but found himself frozen by the window. Again and again, she begged for her death, for a way to escape the one memory that Edward had wanted her to forget.

"Please," she sobbed dryly. "I don't want this. I don't want to remember. I just... I want to die. Kill me."

Edward's fingers reached out but still, he couldn't move. When he spoke, there was a tightness in his throat, a pain that started in the pit of his stomach and burst out of his mouth.

"I can't."


Thank you to Jill for the beta work.