Much love and appreciation to Sarahsumbrella, who, to her credit, did not flail and scream and refuse to be my friend when I asked her "can you beta this by, like, tomorrow?" Love you, darlin'.

This was written for the Scene Stealers - I had my moments when reading the books that I thought Edward should just eat her or sleep with her already.


Everything would have been fine if I hadn't run into her in the office. I was trying to get out of Biology class – trying to get away from her.

The irony of the situation wasn't lost on me.

I'd convinced myself that I could handle the unholy lure of her blood if I just didn't have to sit so close to her. Of course I could. I'd just been taken by surprise in class, that was all. Nothing could make me betray the vow that I had made to myself and to Carlisle. I would never again drink human blood, never take a human life simply for my own selfish purposes, especially not this insignificant little girl in this insignificant little town, in the middle of insignificant nowhere. I couldn't think of anything more selfish than killing an innocent child just because her blood was like a drug, and I was an addict.

But then Bella Swan entered the office. I had my back to the entrance and didn't realize it was her; I couldn't hear her thoughts. I thought whoever it was had opened the door, but left when they saw me standing at the counter talking to Mrs. Cope. Oh, if that had only been the case! The door opened and shut again a few seconds later, allowing a gust of wind to blow through the room. The Swan girl's scent permeated the air, twined around me, immobilized me, seeped into my pores, into my bones, into the depths of my being.

I couldn't bear it. It was just as devastating as it had been the first time, annihilating my will, my judgment, my reason.

I somehow managed to leave her alive. I made it to my car and ignored my siblings' questions as I drove them home, dropping them off at the end of the long driveway that led to our house. The fragrance of her blood clung to me, to my clothes, my hair. It was driving me mad, and the only thing I could think about was getting more, getting all of it, every beautiful, delicious drop.

"Edward, don't, please," Alice begged softly, standing in the open car door. Visions flashed through her head as confusion, longing, and desire consumed me – the horror of my eyes glowing deep, dark red, the Swan girl's body hanging limp and lifeless in my arms; Carlisle's car speeding through the night with me behind the wheel, on my way to…Alaska? Bella in the kitchen of her house, standing across the room from me as we talked warily, curiosity on her face, mine contorted in pain as I tried not to breathe. The vision reverted back to my red eyes and snarling, bloodstained lips as Alice reached for me.

"I can't tell what's going to happen," she whispered, looking miserable. "I don't know what you're going to do. Please, Edward, let me go with you. Or Jasper. Go to Alaska. Just don't -"

I hit the gas and the door slammed shut of its own accord as I sped away. My resolve wavered as I made my way out of town at speeds that would have been dangerous if I was human. But I was not; I was more monster than anything else in that moment. I tried to fight it, but the faint, beguiling scent emanated from my jacket as I shifted in my seat.

It was my undoing.

I wrenched the wheel violently, sending the vehicle into a spin as I changed my course, heading toward the small, white house on the edge of the woods where Bella Swan would be in approximately eight minutes. I could make it in ten.

-0-

I parked the car on the other side of town and made my way through the woods, knowing I would end up in the Swan's backyard. Silence engulfed me as the woodland creatures recognized my monstrous nature, sensed I was on the hunt, and fell into a terrified silence. I told myself I just wanted to smell her, that I could handle it, that my self-control was strong enough to resist. I was certain nothing could make me harm a human. I emerged at the edge of the trees ringing the house, and the sound of her blood rushing through her veins, the lush, wet beating of her heart slammed into me, enticing me beyond reason. The next thing I knew I was standing on her back porch, listening intently. I could hear her physical movements, but still nothing of her mind. I was going to have to do this old-school, and my excitement rose at the new challenge.

Inside the house her fragrance was undiluted in its richness. I had only an instant to realize I had grossly miscalculated its impact before my mind was no longer my own. Instinct took over, and I had no other purpose than hunting and feeding, slaking my thirst, easing the burn in my chest and throat with her marvelous blood. My eyes shut, and when I opened them the monster – that superior predator – had full control. I released my consciousness to the hunt, and her scent drew me forward on silent feet to where she stood in the kitchen, preparing dinner for her and her father.

She never knew I was there. I was on her in an instant, the amazing, drugging essence of her invading my being, shattering my reason and any pretense I had of being human. Nothing mattered but getting her blood inside me, having it flow over my tongue, fill my mouth, my chest, my belly, my dry, scorching veins. It was a light, a flame, the brightest point in my entire existence. I grabbed her tight and closed my mouth over her neck from behind. My teeth slid through her skin, sliced through muscle and tendon to get to the bounty that her body offered. One of my hands clamped over her mouth, wrenching her neck to the side while my other held her immobile against me, crushing her to my hard form, and I drank.

My knees buckled as an intense rush of ecstasy roared through me. I staggered, but managed to keep us upright. I moaned, but it was a muffled, gurgling sound. Nothing could stop me from drinking and drinking and drinking, gorging myself on the sublime taste of her, the silky, glorious sensation of her blood. I lit up from the inside as it hit my system, glowing brighter and brighter, until I was incandescent with joy. I hadn't realized I had sunk to the floor, holding her to me like a lover – and I did love her in that moment, purely and completely. She was my whole existence.

I was so lost in the bliss of finally satisfying my bloodlust that I didn't hear Jasper until he was on top of me. He grabbed the girl's body and wrenched it away with a forlorn growl. I instinctively jumped to my feet in a crouch to protect myself and my meal, but Jasper already had his back to me, hovering over her. His face was stark with grief, shock, and pain as he turned his head to stare at me.

"Edward," he choked. "Edward…"

I glanced down at the limp, drained body and saw his hand at the wound on her throat, feeling for a pulse. He lifted it slowly and fisted it over her face, and then slowly placed his palm on her head, bending his in sorrow. Horror slowly began to replace euphoria as I realized what I had done.

"Jasper…" I stumbled forward, and then spun around as Emmett and Rosalie appeared in the hall leading from the back door.

"Did you get to him in time?" They froze when they spotted Bella Swan's lifeless body. Both of their nostrils flared, and they turned to stare at me, stunned. Emmett's gaze was touched with sympathy, Rosalie's with a certain kind of triumph.

"Holy shit," Emmett uttered softly. "Alice was right. Oh, crap."

The reality of what I had done came crashing down on me, and I recoiled from the body lying on the floor. My back hit the wall, rattling the dishes in the cabinets, and I sank down on my haunches, my knees rising under my chin. I wrapped my arms around them as I tried to make sense of what had just happened. I had killed an innocent girl, a child, really. I knew why – her taste still lingered on my tongue, warmed my stomach, drifted in the air around us – but I couldn't understand how. How I could let myself take a human life, especially one as innocent and beautiful as this young girl's?

"Alice went to delay Chief Swan," Emmett said. "She didn't think we'd get here in time." I was dimly aware of the tone of their thoughts, their shock and disbelief. They stood with their hands on their hips, staring down at the body. "Now what?"

Jasper turned to me. "Edward," he said softly. "Edward, no one blames you." Rose made a scoffing sound, but quieted when Jasper cast her a stern look. "We all know what she smelled like, what it did to you. No one could resist that. No one. Edward?" he took a step toward me when I didn't respond.

"Um, Edward's gone bye-bye, Jasper," Emmett said with a meaningful eye roll toward where I sat. I pulled my knees to my chest and stared blankly at the fine, red droplets that fanned across the cheerful yellow cabinets. "He's not going to be much help."

Rosalie knelt down in front of me, but I kept my eyes focused on that damning blood splatter. She snapped her fingers in front of my face, snorting when I didn't bother to react. She rose to her feet and moved out of my field of view. I could certainly still hear her, and she knew it. "Yeah, great. Make us clean up your mess," she said in disgust.

"Leave him alone for a sec, Rosie," Emmett murmured. He knew I was torturing myself with what I had done, but he didn't blame me, not one bit. His mind filled with the memory of the time he, too, had encountered a human whose blood was irresistible to him…his singer? He knew the helplessness, the compulsion, the remorse. My eyes blinked, the only reaction I allowed myself as I read his tormented, delectable thoughts.

My guilt swelled, and not just because I'd murdered an innocent girl. I was guilty because my body still thrummed and swelled with inexplicable delight, with pleasure, with the pure, unadulterated deliciousness that was her blood. Despite the absolute horror of what I had done, the vow I had broken, the disappointment and grief I had caused, I still wanted more. I wanted to grab the girl's body up off the floor and…lick it. It was taking every last ounce of my strength not to grab her lifeless form and ravage it, make sure, absolutely, unequivocally sure, that there was not one drop of blood left. The urge to defend my kill from my siblings – my family – rose again and was almost uncontrollable. Shame battled with desire, and with the potent human blood racing through my veins, I wasn't sure I'd be able to stop myself. I locked down, the only defense I had against those primal, feral urges.

"Well, what are we going to do with the body?" Emmett asked. I would have winced if I was still human, but I wasn't, as evidenced by the current predicament – the predicament that was wholly my fault.

"Body?" Rosalie gave a short, humorless laugh. "The body's the easy part. What are we going to do about Charlie Swan?"

They all looked at each other and then at me. I didn't move, although my guilt multiplied as I thought of her father. This girl, his daughter, was his only family. I hadn't thought it possible to feel worse, but I was proven wrong. Outwardly, however, I was still and cold as stone.

"Right," Emmett sighed. "Her father. Chief Swan. Chief of Police Swan."

"We're going to have to tell Carlisle," Jasper said softly, the first words he'd spoken since he had cried out in shock and – he couldn't hide it from me, no, not the mind reader – desire. He'd ripped the girl from my greedy mouth, but he couldn't suppress the yearning he'd felt to bury his own face in her neck, or thigh, or arm, and let the rich, intoxicating nectar flow down his scorching throat…Oh, God. I wanted to moan. "We can't keep this from him. Besides, he'll have an idea of what we should do."

Pain and guilt ripped at my already ravaged conscience. Carlisle. My father. He'd be horrified and disappointed, but that wouldn't be the worst of it. The worst part was he'd forgive me. He'd forgive me because he was my father, because he loved me, in the same manner that this girl's father loved her. Searing pain cut though any residual delight still lingering in my system from her glorious blood, finally causing an outward reaction. I fell over on my side, still clutching my knees to my chest.

My three siblings looked over at me, startled at the sudden motion when I had been unresponsive for so long. When I made no other movement, they turned back to the business at hand. My eyes blinked open, and I realized I was looking directly at Bella Swan's lifeless body. I wanted to shut my eyes. I wanted to shut them so badly. I didn't want to see the child's body, the pitiful evidence of my monstrous mistake. I wanted this all to be a bad dream, just one of Alice's visions, something that could happen, but hadn't yet. I wanted it more than anything in this world, other than…more of her blood. The air escaped my lungs at this realization, but I forced my eyes to remain on her body lying broken and drained on the worn linoleum floor.

"We can take the body out into the wilderness, somewhere in Canada, get rid of it. No one would find it," Emmett was saying. "After a few days with the animals, there wouldn't be anything left to find."

"Her father might think she ran away," Rosalie added. "Didn't she just move out here? Wasn't there something about her not wanting to live with her mother, or not being able to anymore, that's why she came to Washington? If she wasn't happy here, it's a perfect reason for running away. And we all know the dangers out in the world, especially for a young woman alone." Her voice was bitter at the end.

"I still think we should talk to Carlisle first," Jasper said dubiously. He was thinking of Carlisle's disappointment, wanting to avoid his silent censure at all costs.

"Her father will be home any minute," Rosalie reminded them. They all glanced at my huddled body, used to me being the early warning system, particularly when Alice wasn't around. When I didn't respond to their thoughts, they dismissed me as useless, which I was, and went back to their plotting. "We've got to get the body out of here before it's discovered, or talking to Carlisle will be pointless."

I wanted to protest – about what, I had no idea, but the urge was there. I wanted to protest against the situation, the undeniable lure of her blood, of my unnatural existence. I wanted to protest this wasn't me, this wasn't what I wanted, but the lingering and unholy scent of her blood made that a lie. I wanted more, and I couldn't deny it. I wanted to crawl across the floor, hold her body in my arms, and cry in horror, in sorrow, in thwarted desire. I stared at long, brown hair pooling on the floor, swirling around her deathly pale face. Her mouth was slightly parted, her eyes mercifully closed instead of wide with the terror she must have felt when I buried my teeth in her soft, white neck and glutted myself on her blood.

Her blood

I unfolded my body, unable to resist the lingering compulsion to go to her, even now, even emptied of what I still so desperately desired. Rosalie went searching for cleaning products; even though I had left minimal evidence as far as blood was concerned, she wanted to be certain we covered our tracks completely. There were those fine droplets on the cabinet doors from that first incredible puncture of delicate skin, the initial sweet, shocking mouthful…

Jasper and Emmett bent over Bella Swan's body, and I realized they were going to take her from me. A furious snarl broke from my chest as I lunged to my feet. They spun toward the sound, shock apparent on both of their faces.

No! Wait!

Alice's voice in my head distracted me, and in that fraction of a second Emmett grabbed hold of one of my arms while Jasper wrestled with the other. Rosalie was back in the kitchen instantly, ready to face the unknown threat, and her face went comically blank with shock when she realized the threat was me.

"Edward, you need to get it together," she said, noting that Emmett and Jasper had a good grip on my arms. She turned to the girl's body. "It's your mistake we're trying to fix, you know."

I snarled again as I read her intent to take the body and be gone, to get a head start while my brothers held me immobile for as long as they could. I struggled, searching their thoughts, waiting for a lapse in their attention, a weakness in their grip.

No!

Alice's voice ripped through my head, and I realized it wasn't in regards to my actions, but Rosalie's. I went limp with astonishment as her vision flooded my mind, and then shouted in horror. "No!"

"What -" Jasper's thought was interrupted when they heard the light pounding of Alice's feet as she raced toward us. She appeared in the doorway seconds later, her distressed gaze taking in the scene in the Swan's kitchen. Jasper and Emmett grappled with me as I fought to get to Bella Swan, but not because I wanted her blood. Rosalie bent over her motionless form – motionless, but not completely still. There was a flutter, a stirring, deep inside her body. We all froze as we realized what that sluggish ebb and flow meant.

Alice's eyes met mine in sympathy, in dismay, in excitement. My body jerked with the force of her visions…and the content. I gasped, something I hadn't done in over ninety years. "You got just enough venom inside her before Jasper…before Jasper…stopped you," she told me.

I once again held Bella Swan's future in my hands. I had another impossible choice to make and little time to make it. It was a choice very similar to the one I had just wrestled with – wrestled with and lost.

I had to make the choice between the mortal death of her body…or the immortal death of her soul.