I don't own. Stephenie Meyer does.
Thank you, as always, to my dear friend and beta Sarahsumbrella.
This was written for the Countdown To Halloween II here on ffnet, and was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart". It is a one-shot, and as of right now I have NO plans to continue it as a multi-chapter story.
The amazing banner for this story was made by the talented MDealsWithIt - link is on my profile.
Thank you for reading!
I wasn't crazy.
At least, I didn't think I was. Perhaps I wasn't the best judge of my mental state, but didn't that thought in and of itself prove that I wasn't crazy?
It was the aroma coming from the apartment next door. If I wasn't crazy now, I would be soon. It teased and taunted me. It called to me like a lover tangled in smooth, white sheets. I hadn't smelled anything that fine, that compelling, in a very long time. Maybe I was crazy.
Oh, the scent…
The nights were the worst, even though my neighbor was something of a recluse and home during the daytime, going out only when necessary. It was the nights, when everything was still and quiet, that I began to lose the iron grip on my control if not my mind. It was the night, when I couldn't distract myself, when all I could think about was how good it would be, how utterly delightful and euphoric the taste would be on my tongue. It would ease the ferocious and constant ache in my throat, and, for one brief moment, I would be satisfied, sated, and at peace.
I stood in the center of the room, trying not to breathe, trying to hold myself utterly still for the next seven hours until the world woke and began moving, providing distractions once again. And like every night, it proved to be futile. I crept forward until I was at the door of my apartment. I turned the knob in my hand, slipping silently into the hall. In two quick steps I was in front of the door that barred me from such sweet satisfaction. I stood still once again, tempting fate, tempting myself, and as always the temptation proved to be too much. I set my hand on the metal of the doorknob, triggering the inadequate lock and twisting it smoothly so that the faint click was barely discernable, even to my sensitive ears. I eased the door open in minute increments, increments so small they would be undetectable to the human eye. I stepped inside my neighbor's room once it was open far enough to let me slip though, gliding silently but surely across the carpeted floors to the bedroom where my prey slept.
Moonlight fell across the pale, white face. I licked my lips and leaned slightly forward, my nostrils flaring, my eyes fluttering shut in ecstasy. The steady beating of the heart filled my ears as the scent of human blood filled my head. It spurred me on, a driving, mesmerizing cadence that hammered at the foundation of my will. My hands trembled with the desire to grab, to bring that bounty to my mouth and ease my desperate need. I took one slow step away from the enticement, and then another, until I was pressed against the wall that separated our apartments. I stood frozen in that position, just as I did every evening, panting and trembling, battling my instinct to feed. I might not be crazy, but I was certainly masochistic. I delighted in conquering my baser impulses if only for one more night. I reveled in prolonging the inevitable as I savored the anticipation of that rich, red blood coating my throat, bursting wet and hot in my mouth. I swallowed and tipped my head back with a stifled groan.
The body on the bed shifted with a soft snuffle. The rasp of warm, resilient flesh rubbing against cotton fabric was muted by the increasing volume of the beating heart. I wasn't sure if the steady cadence was actually getting louder or if it just seemed that way as my determination to prolong the game weakened. I was certain the tempo was increasing, signaling a rise toward wakefulness, and irrational anger flooded my body. How dare it wake up and ruin my nightly ritual? I was nowhere near ready to leave, nowhere near that fine edge I loved to balance upon – the edge of being able to walk away or give in to my instinct and feed on the delectable treat I taunted myself with. It was all part of the set-up for the game, and it wasn't quite ready to be played. I bared my teeth in frustration, and a low growl slipped from between my teeth.
The human on the bed froze quite suddenly. The steady heartbeat escalated into a fast, panicky thrumming, the blood rushing though veins and arteries. Sharp, sweet adrenaline mingled with the already alluring nectar. Air sloughed in and out of startled lungs, and I saw the form rise up suddenly in the bed.
"Wh-Who's there?" The voice was thin and shaky. I rolled my eyes but otherwise held myself perfectly still, knowing I couldn't be seen in the dark shadows. My foreign, predatory presence could be felt, of that I had no doubt. "Is anybody there?"
My lips curved upward, but that was the only movement I allowed myself to make as I eagerly waited for the next step in our little drama to unfold. We faced each other in the dark, but only I was aware of that fact. Neither of us had moved a muscle since my neighbor had sat upright in bed. The breathing grew more agitated, the beating of the heart drumming, pounding, egging me on, calling to me, urging me into action before I was ready. The human was prey, and this fact made itself known, moving from the subconscious to the conscious awareness at my continued presence so very, very close. A low whimper escaped, and I exulted in the noise. It signaled the next step in the game. I felt something akin to pity as I realized it was trying to rationalize away its fears, trying to convince itself that it was alone in the room, because its mind could not begin the fathom the form of Death that lingered in the shadows.
The clouds covering the moon shifted, and I could see the human perfectly. My unnaturally sharp eyesight picked out the fluttering pulse in the smooth, white neck. I couldn't force my eyes away from that tantalizing movement as venom filled my mouth and bloodlust once again threatened to overwhelm my resolve to draw this out another night. The heartbeat increased, pounding, pulsing, forcing blood through the arteries and veins quicker and quicker as fear engulfed and overwhelmed. No, I may not be crazy, but the rhythm was driving me mad, driving me toward that edge, until I knew there was no way I could draw this out any longer. And why should I? I hadn't eaten properly in weeks, wanting to enjoy the challenge, attempting to lighten the never-ending boredom of eternity. It was a game to be played, and I was only just learning to play it well.
The human began panting in terror, knowing something horrible and terribly, terribly wrong waited for it in the dark. I rested the back of my head against the wall and inhaled the warm, rich, alluring scent. I clenched my fists in denial, fighting the urge to ravage and feed, but I was too quickly at the edge. I knew I would not last another night, another hour, much less another moment. I was hungry, and the scent was delicious, a banquet to my preternatural senses.
In an instant I was on the bed, next to the sweet meal. There was a loud, sharp cry of terror, and then nothing as breath strangled in a constricting throat. Humans were so delightfully silly in their parasympathetic responses – especially in reaction to fear. There was a faint chime, and I realized with humorous irony that it was the stroke of midnight on All Hollow's Eve – Halloween. How atrociously fitting.
"The storybooks were right," I murmured as bulging, terrified eyes met mine and air was drawn in for another attempt at a scream. "There are such things as monsters after all."
I wrapped my hand in soft, dark hair and sank my teeth deep into resilient, life-giving flesh. Ecstasy flowed sweet and hot down my throat, slaking the unholy burn and flowing into my belly, through my limbs, into my head. I fed ravenously, dimly realizing that I had waited too long, had gone too far over that delightful edge. I couldn't be careful, I couldn't be neat, I could only feed and drink and glut.
I snarled in anger, blood spraying in a thin, wide arc as the seal of my lips broke when I hit bottom, drawing no more sustenance from the veins. I wanted more! I knew I had gone slightly crazy as I ravaged the neck of my victim, seeking every last, glorious drop. I thrust the body away from me in disgust when it could no longer give me what I desired, what I needed and craved. The thudding smack brought me back to my senses as it hit the opposite wall. I scowled at the broken, crumpled form lying on the floor – and the rather large hole in the wall from the impact. I seethed in frustration and anger as I stood, attempting to gather my rioting emotions. I shook my head and brought it back into the game. I'd have to be thorough and clever and take care of this, or I would surely find myself in a precarious position due to my carelessness. I frowned. Oh, how I hated to lose!
I stood over the body, my own perfectly still as I contemplated how best to dispose of the evidence. There were certain rules that must be adhered to, and I scowled as I realized the problem my greed had caused. I had pushed my limits too far, had gone too long before feeding this time. Oh well. I mentally sighed. I had no choice but to deal with the current circumstances and do my best.
I was struck with inspiration as I eyed the hole in the wall.
The next morning I performed the distasteful task of cleaning my shower, a necessary chore. I had to be certain there were no traces of my neighbor's blood or gore left after scrubbing the incriminating evidence from my hard skin, or plaster and paint debris from my impromptu repairs last night. It had gotten a little…messy after I realized that even though the body was small, it wouldn't fit in the hole it had made in the drywall – at least, not in one piece. Pieces, however, had worked out just fine, though it had been untidy.
I finished the task and became aware of a disturbance out on the street. Two cars had pulled up in front of the building and I went still, listening carefully, tasting the air, scenting the aroma of…law officials. I allowed a small frown to cross my features and then I was in motion, moving at vampire speed. I dressed and then headed for my neighbor's apartment to check one last time for anything I might have missed. The faint tang of blood was still in the air, the scent of my neighbor filtering through both of our apartments, but no human would be able to detect it with their inferior senses. The plaster was still slightly damp over the hole that hid the evidence of last night's meal, but again, I was fairly confident it wouldn't be noticeable to human eyes. I was back in my apartment in mere seconds, before the men had even made it to the front door of the building.
I waited. There were four of them, talking quietly amongst themselves as they came up in the elevator. A delicious, persuasive, wondrous scent was emanating from one of them, and I smiled as I inhaled the fragrance and licked my lips. The men went directly to my neighbor's apartment. I heard them knocking and calling, and then one went back down in the elevator while two of the others went to the apartment on the other side. The fourth, the source of that mouthwatering, familiar scent, stayed in front of my neighbor's door until the other returned with the building manager. I heard the jingle of keys and then the sound of them entering the residence. After the manager left, the two officers did an initial cursory exploration through the rooms and then a slightly more in depth search. I could hear the other two in the apartment down the hall, questioning the elderly lady that had obviously reported the disturbance the previous evening. Damn it, I knew I had pushed myself too far. My hunger-induced fit of frustration had been the cause of very sloppy mistakes on my part, and I was disappointed in myself. Oh, well, at least it made the game more interesting.
I sensed one of the men leave my neighbor's rooms and approach mine. The bell rang, and a professional knock sounded on the old wood an instant later. I set a benign expression on my face and pulled open the door. The next level in the game was about to begin.
A tall, well-muscled, swarthy man stood in the hall. "Good morning," he said pleasantly, glancing down at his notebook before addressing me by name and verifying who I was. "I'm Detective Black with the Port Angeles Police Department." He produced his badge and identification with professional flair. I appreciated flair, and my estimation of Detective Black grew slightly.
"The police department? How can I help you?"
"We had a report of a disturbance in your neighbor's apartment. Were you home last night?"
"Yes," I said slowly, frowning for effect.
"Did you hear anything unusual coming from the apartment next door?"
"Unusual? No…" I let my voice trail off thoughtfully. "I did hear some thumping around, and some noises, but I just assumed it was the television. I don't recall anything that seemed alarming or really that unusual."
"Have you seen or heard anyone coming or going from next door in the past twelve hours or so?"
"No. To be honest, I haven't been paying that much attention. I haven't heard anyone coming or going at all, come to think of it."
He jotted down some notes in his pad and smiled at me. "Okay, well…thank you. We're going to have a look around." His eyes flicked behind me, into my apartment. "Will you be available later if I have any further questions?"
"Of course. I hope nothing's wrong." It was expected of me to show some concern, and I actually did feel a small twinge of the emotion. Why would it take four members of law enforcement to look into strange noises coming from the apartment of someone living alone? Curiouser and curiouser…
"Thanks for your help." He gave me another professional smile and returned to the apartment next to mine.
I shut the door and moved to stand in the middle of the room, following their movements and actions with my senses. I had detected no suspicion in Detective Black's demeanor, only routine questioning. They did another search of my neighbor's home, lingering in the bedroom and then heading in different directions to talk to other residents of the building. Eventually all four men came back to my floor, speaking once again with the nosy little tattletale at the other end of the hall before heading for my apartment.
That wonderful scent, which had been apparent and lingering even at a distance, hit me like a freight train as it approached. Lust, longing, and avarice shot through me, venom bloomed in my mouth, and I actually gasped. It was so very close and so very delicious, calling to me on a primal level. It was the scent that would be my undoing if I wasn't careful. I brought myself under icy control as the bell rang and prepared to be engulfed in this distracting presence as I opened the door.
"I'm sorry to disturb you again, but I wondered if we might ask you a couple more questions?" Detective Black stood in front of the group of four men. Their forms made the narrow hallway look even smaller.
My attention moved past the trio in the doorway to the tall figure standing slightly behind them. My thoughts stuttered as I met the dark, deep gaze of my past, my future, my present, and the source of that wondrous aroma. I was instantly and completely enthralled. Those marvelous eyes narrowed imperceptibly in acknowledgement, in humor, in playfulness. Ah, the game was afoot, and this was a truly worthy opponent.
"This is Detective Clearwater and Detective Call. This is Special Agent Masen of the FBI. Gentleman, this is Ms. Isabella Swan." Detective Black introduced his colleagues.
"How do you do," I murmured, not making a move toward them. I certainly wasn't about to offer my hand. My eyes met his once again and held. "Special Agent Masen, did you say?" I tipped my head coquettishly, a smile curving my lips.
"Yes, ma'am," he said in a smooth, honeyed voice. "It's a pleasure to meet you…is it Miss Swan?"
I beamed at him. "It is for now," I said truthfully.
He grinned, and the other men shifted uncomfortably at the instant and blatant sexual tension that sprang up between us. I reluctantly turned my attention to the lesser creatures that accompanied him. "May I get you gentleman a drink?" I stood back, inviting them into my apartment.
"No, thank you," Detective Black answered.
"Special Agent Masen? A drink?" I arched a brow.
He slowly shook his head, never taking his smiling eyes from mine. "No, Miss Swan. I can wait. Thank you."
I tipped my head, moving closer to his intoxicatingly sweet and compelling scent. I barely controlled the wrinkling of my nose as I had to wade through the annoying stench of the three humans standing between us. I was drawn to him, like a moth to the proverbial flame, and knew he would ease my burn like no other creature on this earth. I caught myself, realizing I was staring at his handsome, mesmerizing face.
"Would you like to sit?" I gestured at the wide sofa and chairs. "You said you had some additional questions? Is everything all right with Mr. Smith next door?"
"Have you seen Mr. Smith in the past couple of days, Ms. Swan?"
"Isabella," I corrected, settling back in one of the chairs as Detective Black and Call sat on the sofa.
Detective Clearwater wandered over to the door that lead to my bedroom, glancing in with what would appear to a human to be casual, fleeting interest. I knew better. Special Agent Masen walked over to the bay window that overlooked the street and examined the lone Halloween decoration I had put up in a moment of boredom to amuse myself. It was a white sheet thrown over a small globe, so that it resembled a short ghost. I'd even taken to calling him Gus in my head. Boredom was such a chore when you dealt in terms of eternity. I'd further dressed him up last night in my neighbor's reading glasses, as a tribute to the classic John Carpenter movie Halloween. He needed some personality.
I pretended to give Detective Black's question serious consideration. "I think the last time I saw my neighbor was sometime on Thursday." That had been two days prior. "We passed in the hall, said hello, that sort of thing. I never did see much of him – he rarely left this apartment. Kept to himself for the most part. I understand he was afraid of the outside world." I hid a smile. Little did he know the biggest threat to his life would come from within this building.
"How do you know that?" Detective Black asked, writing in his notebook.
"I met his niece when I first moved in to my apartment. She was visiting and stopped to say hello. She told me a little about her uncle. I felt badly for him and tried to help when I could."
Detective Black looked up sharply at this. "Help him? Have you been inside his apartment recently?"
I considered his question. I knew my hard, perfect body would leave no evidence. I wouldn't leave a stray hair, shed skin cells, or leave any traces of DNA.
"No," I lied easily.
"Have you ever been inside his apartment?"
I paused, as if I was trying to remember, as if my memory wasn't perfect in every detail and recall. "I have, on a couple of occasions. Mostly just to check on him, to say hello. Being neighborly, you know?" I felt Special Agent Masen's eyes on me, and looked over at him. His regard was knowing and slightly smug as he stood next to Gus the Ghost. He was regarding me with self-satisfied amusement, his hands clasped behind his back. I instantly reviewed everything I had just said, trying to think if I'd let anything slip.
Do they know? I thought. How could they know? Had I made an error somewhere?
I held his gaze, and he nodded imperceptibly.
Damn you, Edward. I forced my expression to remain unperturbed. His face grew even more smug. Stupid, mind-reading vampire. God, how I loved him.
The game was over, and he had won. I'd been caught somehow, and I was sure he'd be only delighted to tell me how. Well, damn. That put him up five games to two so far this year. He'd be gloating for weeks until it was his turn again.
How? I thought irritably. He rocked back on his heels, purely for effect, and casually reached out to lay his hand on Gus the Ghost's head. One long finger reached out with lazy slowness to brush along the frame of the glasses. My neighbor's glasses, the glasses he kept on his bedside table, next to the old family photograph that showed him wearing them. The glasses he was never without. It was an utterly stupid, vain, and careless mistake. The irritation I had been feeling swelled and grew, but this time it was all for myself. I had so much to learn.
"But not today?" Detective Black pressed, leaning forward, his expression eager. He'd never make a good player, I thought. He had way too many tells.
I turned the full focus of my attention on him, dropping my mask of civility, the cloak that made me appear more human. I was aware of Edward moving behind the two men.
"I think it's time for all of us to come clean, don't you, Detective Black? Lies become none of us."
He shot to his feet, his face paling slightly as he reacted to the threat I presented, the threat he didn't fully understand, not quite yet. The other detective jumped up as well, trying to evaluate what had alarmed the man in charge.
"You know as well I as that I was not only in Mr. Smith's apartment this morning, but last night as well." I hadn't moved from my deceptively relaxed position in my chair. I saw his hand twitch toward his gun, but not grab it…no, not yet. His subconscious recognized me for the threat I was, but his mind still could not quite fit me, a woman, into the role of murderer – especially the kind of murder that had taken place last night.
His hands fumbled for his cuffs, and I smiled, showing my teeth. The fumbling got worse at the expression on my face. "Ms. Swan, I'm going to have to ask you to come with us to the station."
"No, I don't think so, Detective Black," I said smoothly, kindly. His eyes widened in surprise and he managed to get a hold of the handcuffs. Detective Call reached for his pistol as Detective Clearwater stepped quickly back into the main room.
Edward sighed. As the winner in our little game, he was entitled to two of the three humans. I watched in admiration, in lust, in awe as he moved with sleek efficiency, taking a quick bite of Detective Black's arm as he passed, and then sinking his teeth deep into Detective Call's neck, draining him before either man even realized what had happened. He was behind Detective Clearwater instantly, holding his head in one hand while the other clamped around his neck, cutting off his scream and holding him off his feet. The young man's eyes rolled and bulged as Edward brought him up against his chest in a hold that was almost caressing.
"Feed, darling," he crooned, running his nose along the smooth, silken skin of the human's neck. "I know you're hungry. That measly old man you had last night couldn't have done much for satisfying your appetite, not after abstaining for so long. And this one is so young, so fresh, so…frightened." His tongue slid out and lapped across succulent flesh.
Venom slicked across my own tongue, in response to both my desire to feed and my desire for him. His dark eyes danced devilishly as he opened his mouth threateningly over the neck, teasing me. I growled low in my throat and pounced.
Edward brought him to my mouth and held the body still as I fed. He kept one hand on the neck, and his other came up to cradle my cheek, sliding around to the back of my head and holding my face tightly to my meal. He released me to throw off his jacket and open his shirt, returning quickly to bring me and the human up against his bare chest and holding us close. Blood overflowed from my mouth, bathing his pale skin in glistening ruby red.
"Suck harder." His voice was soft and insidious in my ear, and I did. The blood filled my mouth and my body, and his scent filled my nostrils and my lungs. I moaned, and he reacted as I drained the boy. His hands fell away as I reached out to bury my face in the now lifeless neck, trying to get every last, delicious drop. I heard the rustle of fabric as the emptied body was torn from me and tossed carelessly across the room. I looked up to see that Edward had loosened his pants. I licked my lips, and he grinned, putting his hand on my shoulder to urge me down.
I dropped to my knees and eagerly took him into my mouth, thrilling to the sound of his grunt of pleasure. It had been too long since we'd been together, and I savored the taste of him, the feel of his smooth, vital hardness on my tongue. "Suck harder." He repeated his previous words, and I shivered in delight.
Oh, I'd suck harder, all right…
An annoying whimper distracted me from my pleasurable task. I realized that Detective Black was writhing on the floor behind me, and opened my eyes to glance up at Edward. His gaze was intense on my face as he watched me take him in and out of my mouth. His brows twitched in annoyance, and his eyes flickered to the man's seizing form.
His fingers brushed my cheek tenderly. "I gave him just enough venom to incapacitate him," he said. I sat back on my heels, letting him slip from between my lips. I rose back up on my knees, licking at the trail of blood that snaked down the exposed skin of his chest. An involuntary whine left my throat – I was still hungry.
"Come here, my love." Edward tore the shirt off my shoulders, settling me back on the floor. My jeans followed in the same manner, and I lay bare before him as he stood over me. He slowly shrugged his shirt off and lowered his pants the rest of the way, removing his socks and shoes before stepping out of them. He was gloriously naked, the weak sunlight coming through the window sparking off his perfect form. I licked my lips and arched up off the floor, wanting him desperately.
He stepped forward and pushed my knees apart with his foot, staring down at me. I realized the sounds I was making and the undulations of my body were very similar to the convulsions shaking Detective Black. I grinned at Edward, and an answering smirk curved his mouth as he read my thoughts. His eyes flickered to the human before coming back to me, and he finally lowered himself between my legs.
"You are so much more enticing," he murmured.
His fingers swept across my flesh, preparing me for his possession. He kept his eyes locked on mine as he entered me, and my body bowed with the searing, consuming pleasure. I absorbed him, the feel of his smooth skin under my fingertips, the rub of his thighs against mine, the press of his hipbones against my stomach, the full, heavy, stroking friction of him inside me. This was another hunger I had not fed in much too long. I felt his mouth on my breast, his arms around me, and wanted to weep with the joy of our union.
Detective Black's whimpers turned into sharp cries as Edward's venom moved through his system, burning and scorching as it infiltrated his bloodstream. Edward rose up on his arms, his hips keeping perfect, steady rhythm, and reached out with one hand to grasp the human and pull him to us. He never stopped his deep strokes as he ruthlessly stripped the coat and shirt from the warm body.
"Drink," he murmured, positioning the form next to us so the neck was near our mouths.
"But…" I tensed, pushing up against him as he hit a particularly sensitive spot. "Edward…"
"Drink," he insisted, slowing his thrusts.
"But…" I tried again. "That one…he's yours."
"I'll share." He smiled, and I caught my breath at his beauty.
"So close," I breathed, gripping his arms, pulling myself up against him. "Edward, please. So close."
He bent his head, pressing his weight down so he went deeper into me. I wrapped my legs around his upper thighs and held on as he brought the human closer, holding him easily despite the thrashing limbs and shuddering body. I opened my mouth to scream and instead sank my razor sharp teeth into one side of the throbbing, pulsing throat. I both felt and heard Edward doing the same on the other side, and pleasure exploded from my body as I came. It exploded into my body as well when the blood flowed – hot, wet, and intoxicating – down my throat.
We were both growling and sucking and feeding as our mutual orgasms shuddered through us. The ecstasy doubled when I realized we were both taking sustenance from the body of Detective Black at the same time. I felt blood washing over my chin and pooling on my chest as I couldn't quite get my mouth to seal over the pulsing wound due to my odd angle. Edward broke away first, gasping, and let me finish with great, dragging pulls that were in perfect synchronization with the contractions of my orgasm. Shudders rolled through me and lingered as I felt Edward's tongue licking and lapping the spilled nectar on my flesh.
"That was…" Amazing. Delicious. Sublime. Fun…
He nodded as each word flitted through my head and into his.
"I love you, Edward Cullen," I murmured, brushing my fingertips through his thick, messy hair.
"I love you, Bella Cullen," he returned, and kissed me.
This is what made eternity bearable. This man. His mind, his body…his love.
Who needed games?