N/A:Hey y'all. Thanks for reading. Reviews are ever so appreciated. All characters and the whole Twilight Universe belong to brilliant, talented Stephenie Meyer.
"Ok. Next subject: shoes."
I had been wrong all along. Restraining from drinking humans wasn't the highest form of torture. This was. Being subjected to a seemingly endless lecture of designers, fabrics, styles, make-overs, lingerie, and now, apparently shoes, made me wish for an apocalypse or sudden, merciful death. The scary part was that she seemed to actually think that I enjoyed this. Just because I didn't have enough courage to interrupt her endless chattering didn't mean I wouldn't have paid just about anything to escape.
I mean, I liked Alice – she was kind and funny and sweet – but she could be very intimidating when she wanted something. And this was really at least partially my own fault. I had asked her advice to distract myself from my ever present thirst. I didn't run into the human girl very often – I suspected she felt bad for making me uncomfortable – but her scent was everywhere.
I had once made the mistake of going into Edward's room to find something to read and was nearly thrown over by the smell that had completely saturated the air. I had run out of the room with my hand over my mouth and nose, all thoughts of reading forgotten. Fortunately, Jasper had sensed my agony and immediately took me to hunt into a forest nearby. Still, I couldn't help the feeling of failure. I decided to start fighting the thirst, instead of merely resisting it. And I needed help.
"Show me your feet." Alice's child-like voice pulled me back to present. I gawked at her incredulously.
"What? Why?" I clutched my legs protectively.
"I need to know your size!" she answered in a voice which clearly added mental "duh!" in the end of her sentence.
"But I don't wear shoes!"
"You're practically a Cullen now. And the Cullens do wear shoes, believe you me."
"They slow me down when I'm running," I resisted.
"Ask Edward how much his shoes slow him down! And you are being unnecessarily difficult about this," Alice chided at me. "Now – show me your feet!"
I sighed and stuck out my left leg. Alice retreated immediately; wrinkling her nose and making me regret that I didn't try this in the first place.
"Good God, Bree! That thing's disgusting!"
I suppose she was right. I hadn't worn shoes or socks in ages, after losing my only pair of boots on a nightly hunting trip with Diego months ago. My feet were dirty, to put it mildly, and although I didn't necessarily need to shower after becoming a vampire, I could see where she was coming from.
"Do me a favour and take a bath," Alice said, throwing a soft towel at me. "And don't worry about the water bill. If someone has ever needed a bath, it's you."
Feeling slightly insulted I took the towel and retreated into Alice's humongous bathroom.
Actually, getting rid of the ragged clothing I had worn since the last night of my human life was kind of nice. I stuck my head out of the bathroom door to ask Alice if she could borrow me a change of clothes, but before I had chance to open my mouth she thrust something soft and clean into my hands.
"Give me those," she ordered, gesturing to the pile of rags on the floor behind me. I obeyed wordlessly and then closed the door again.
I had never been into a hot tub before. I by never I mean never, even when I was human. Hell, if my dad could've afforded a hot tub I doubt I would ever ended up into the street in the first place. Or maybe I would've.
It was amazing how relaxing it was. As a vampire it didn't seem likely to have tense muscles or sore joints, but apparently being a blood-crazed newborn took its toll on you. I sighed in a rare contentment and leaned my head against the edge of the tub.
I soaked myself the good part of an hour finding it nearly impossible to tear myself from the soft caresses of water and the scented soaps and shampoos and bath salts. I had nearly forgotten how nice my hair felt fresh from the shower, and the fact that my skin wasn't the least bit wrinkled even after spending so much time in the water thrilled me to no end.
I pulled on the nice, clean clothes Alice had borrowed to me and relished the feel of soft fabric against my sensitive skin. I found myself wondering what Diego would have thought, had he seen me now. With a pang I realised how much I still missed him. In fact, the feeling was just as strong as it was when we said goodbye for the last time. I could still feel his lips on mine, so cold, but so soft and warm against my equally cold ones.
I touched my lips with my finger tips, lost in my thoughts.
Until I smelt her. Bella. She was close, much closer than usual and I suddenly became very aware of the fact that I hadn't hunted in twelve hours. Might've as well been twelve days, or weeks.
Like on a trance I grabbed the door handle and opened the door. I was instantly assaulted by Bella's strong, undiluted scent. Without allowing myself to step out from the bathroom, I fought the impossibly strong, instinctual urge to lunge. Drink. Drink. Kill.
"Bree," Bella breathed, looking both bewildered and alarmed at the same time. We were both excruciatingly aware of the fact that there was no one else in the room. No Jasper. No Alice. No Edward.
"I'm sorry...I thought Alice would be here." She explained. I really didn't care. My whole being was focused on the throbbing, blue artery beneath the frail skin of her neck. Drain. Drain. Kill.
From the back of my mind I heard Jasper's voice: hold your breath – but I was already too far gone. Small part of my mind managed to wonder why Bella was alone; where was Edward? And more importantly – why hadn't Alice foreseen this? Then that small part was silenced by the bigger part, the one that was now in charge. The blood-thirsty-newborn –part.
I registered the snarl that came from my throat and the way my muscles prepared for the jump, the way my nostrils flared as they took in every fine fibre of her scent.
And then I lunged. No! The shout was so loud it was hard to believe it only existed in my head.
Everything happened so quickly that even my vampire mind had a hard time comprehending it. In one moment I was flying through the air, my sole purpose to drain the human in front of me, and the next I was frozen mid-air, unable to move a muscle.
Before I had the chance to really do anything I smashed to the floor, onto the feet of horror-struck Bella Swan. I quickly closed my mouth, not daring to even exhale and shook my head violently trying to understand what just happened.
All of a sudden the house was full of voices: shouts, cries and footsteps as three dishevelled and furious vampires rushed into the room. On top of everything was Edward's desperate yell: "BELLA!" Then he had swiped her in his arms, frantically checking her for injuries.
Jasper grabbed my shoulder, rather roughly I might add, and shook me like a ragdoll.
"What just happened here?"
He was asking me?
"I-I don't know!" I cried in desperation and then promptly closed my mouth to keep myself from breathing.
"Why didn't you see this, Alice?" Edward was demanding, clutching Bella to his chest.
"I don't know – they didn't plan this!" she answered and I could tell that had she been able to shed tears, she would have been bawling by now. "Bella didn't decide to come into my room, until the second she actually did and Bree – well, she was beyond any planning the moment she smelled Bella!"
"That's not good enough!" Edward yelled. "Why did you leave her alone in the first place?" Again, they were talking like I wasn't there.
"I'm sorry," I offered lamely. "I'm so, so sorry!"
They completely ignored me.
"Why isn't anyone asking what just happened here?" Jasper raised his voice, throwing a warning glare towards his brother, who was still beside himself.
The room fell silent. I carefully lifted my head from the floor to look around me – and saw only worried, or in Edward's case, frantic faces of my new family. Carlisle was standing by my side, the fact that had gone unnoticed by me. Esme stood by the door, resting her hand on Edward's shoulder. Alice was standing between Jasper and Edward, her golden eyes huge and seemingly ready to tear up any minute. Except, they wouldn't.
"Ask Bree," the mind-reader said quietly. "She's the one who did it."
"Look, I said I'm sorry-," I started, but got interrupted immediately.
"Did what, exactly?" Carlisle asked narrowing his eyes.
"Remember what I said about her talent? Looks like she just had her first taste of it." Edward let out a bitter laugh. "And of course Bella had to be the one to witness the occasion."
"What's that supposed to mean?" she grumbled at him.
"Danger loves you, remember?" he answered.
"Hey!" I said loudly, annoyed how they had again seemingly forgotten my presence. "What was that about my talent? I thought you only made it up to save my butt from the crazy Italian girl."
"I didn't make it up," redhead answered shortly. "I could see that in your mind, but because you were unaware of it yourself at the moment, I didn't know what it was."
I suppose that made sense.
"So . Now that I have obviously found it – would you mind telling me what it is?" Of course, asking for direct answer was stupid. He answered with another question.
"Tell me – what did you think right before you – attacked?" I could see him shuddering at the thought. Bella pressed her hand on his cheek.
"I didn't really think anything . Just focused on my – excuse me –prey." After thinking half a second, I added as an afterthought: " When I was already in the air, I remember thinking "NO" very forcefully – although it was more like a subconscious thing." I had used all the air left in my lungs.
Thankfully, Edward seemed happy for my answer.
"When you thought NO, that stopped you mid-jump, right?" I nodded mutely. "Well, it stopped us too. Literally, I could hear your thoughts and was about to run up the stairs, but found that I couldn't."
I listened, stunned out of my mind.
"But I felt nothing," Bella said shyly. "I saw what happened to Bree, but ..."
"I'm really not surprised. Your mind is closed to my and Jane's and Aro's gifts as well."
I had about a thousand questions running through my brains, but I didn't have any air left. And then I remembered the mind-reader.
But what is it? My gift – what does it actually do?"
"I don't know yet. I suppose we'll find out its full potential in time – although I hope my fiancé is in a safe distance from you when that happens." Edward's answering tone was dry.
We were all startled by Esme's joyous cry: "Edward! Fiance – did you and Bella-? Oh this is wonderful! "
"And I get to plan the wedding!" Alice shouted.
Carlisle took one long stride across the floor to Edward who was now beaming from ear to ear. Bella was bright red on her face and I lowered my gaze quickly.
"That's marvellous news, Son!" he exclaimed. "And Bella – of course you already are nothing less than a daughter to me!"
I rolled my eyes at the rather unexpected turn of the atmosphere. No one seemed to be interested in my supposedly staggering talent anymore – whatever the hell that was – and even Jasper left my side to join the well-wishers, who had effectively blocked the happy couple out of my sight.
He was actually engaged to her – as in engaged to be married? And was Bella going to remain human until the wedding? And what about the...consummation part? Assuming of course that they hadn't already taken care of that...
I was mortified when I realized that Edward, although still enveloped in the group hug, could most likely hear my inappropriate thoughts as clearly as I'd shouted them for everybody to hear. Thankfully he chose to ignore them.
I mean, clearly they were in love. That was kind of hard to miss with all the doey-eyes and gooey words they exchanged whether or not they had an audience. And clearly Edward had some kind of, well, inhuman self control, as he spent nearly every night in her room. Doing Lord knows what.
Ok. Not going there.
But still – how could someone go so much against their nature that actually fell in love with their natural prey? From what I'd heard, Bella actually smelled especially alluring to him – more potent for him than anyone else. And he had actually tasted her blood...
Oops. Not going there either.