This is the second outtake from The Night Before written for the lovely Amy and Amelia who bought me as part of the FGB. This takes place during the second and third chapters of the story.
Big thanks go to my beta, RedSummer.
As always, I own nothing.
The Hell After
At some point I shrugged on my shirt and managed to get my feet back into my shoes, but I never stopped running. Distantly, I wondered if a part of me thought that if I ran fast enough I could outrun what I'd done and the mess I'd left behind.
I continued running. Heading north, I crashed through the trees blindly. A glint of light to my left caught my attention and I turned in that direction. The gleam of the moon on the water gave the lake ahead of me an ethereal glow, but I ignored its beauty. Propelling myself off a rock on the bank, my body sliced through the water, drenching my clothes.
I still felt wicked and ashamed of myself though, the cleansing power of the water unable to wipe clean all of my sins.
Breathing out, I allowed the weight of my body to drag me down further until I was resting on the sand at the bottom of the lake. It was quiet here – no-one around, nobody's thoughts to disturb me. It was completely silent. Even the sounds of the birds, the leaves rustling and the wind through the trees were dimmed by the filter of water.
If it weren't for the cacophony of thoughts raging through my head, I would be quite content to remain in this peaceful underwater haven.
One thought wouldn't leave my mind though, no matter how hard I tried to banish it.
You raped Bella. You forced her to have sex with you. You raped her. You're a rapist.
You're a monster.
Endlessly, it repeated over and over, drilling into my consciousness until it was a part of me – inherent knowledge.
I had raped Bella. I was a monster. I couldn't go home.
I pictured my father; Carlisle had been the moral patriarch of our family for over ninety years, he was a good, strong, steady man. I imagined his face when he found out what I'd done – the inevitable disappointment, followed swiftly by disgust as he realised what his son had become.
He was my mentor, the one person I respected and admired the most. He had guided me through this life, showed me the way, helped me to be a better person than I was. I had almost managed to believe that I could one day be as good a man as he was, but in one fell swoop it was all destroyed. I had smashed every conviction he had ever held about me to pieces with one selfish decision.
She'd said please. One little word that had turned my head and made me forget my teachings. I had wanted her to say it, wanted her to take the decision out of my hands, and she had - absolutely beautifully.
I should have stood firm and denied her. I knew it was wrong, but I was so weak and she was so tempting.
I'd never believed people who claimed to be enthralled by their lust for another. It seemed like just another excuse to explain away their need to fulfil their carnal desires no matter the consequences to others. I would now never doubt them again.
To hold Bella in my arms, to feel her mouth pressed hot against my skin, to hear those breathy whimpers she made as I thrust into...
Oh yes, I understood it all now. The sins of the flesh certainly had a lot to answer for.
I shuddered at the memories of earlier in the night, and then shuddered again at my enjoyment in remembering. Not only had I committed a vulgar injustice against Bella, but I looked back on it with pleasure, and that was what truly disgusted me about my actions – that I could hurt someone like that, rape them, and like it.
Yes, staying here at the bottom of this lake where no-one could find me seemed like a very good idea.
Only someone could find me, my ears detecting a chattering voice before I registered that it was heading in this direction. In fact, not only was it heading in this direction, but it was specifically seeking me out.
"...honestly, Jasper. Did he have to come all the way into Canada? I've got better things to do than track him across half of North America."
I rolled my eyes. Of course, who else would decide to interrupt my solitude?
I could feel my sister and brother drawing closer, their mental voices growing louder and clearer as they approached, not that Alice was keeping her thoughts to herself.
"...only Edward could screw up like this..."
I froze at that remark. She knew. Of course she knew, Alice always knew. But until now it had never occurred to me that someone had witnessed my indiscretion. If Alice knew, that also meant that Jasper knew as well - the pair had no secrets between them.
Shame prickled along my skin and I slammed my eyes shut as I fought once more to stop the sensory memories of making love to Bella running through my head.
They knew what I had done and now I had no chance of going home.
"Oh, stop being so melodramatic and get up here." They were finally here, on the eastern edge of the lake if I wasn't mistaken.
Alice was busy muttering to herself about how stubborn I was being, ruining her plans for the night – her words a direct mirror of her thoughts. Jasper meanwhile was silent beside her, but I could feel and hear his amusement and bemusement that I had finally had sex with someone, and Bella Swan at that.
"Edward, get your ass out of that lake right now!" my sister demanded imperiously. "I'm not coming in after you."
I smiled at that. Alice wouldn't want to get her clothes dirty and wet; it was far more likely that she would send her long-suffering mate in here instead to drag me out. I had no intention of obliging though, I was going to stay down here and rot away with my sins.
Naturally, my intentions weren't greeted with acceptance and understanding though. Alice was tutting and I could already feel Jasper pushing out waves of annoyance in my direction as my sister turned on him.
"Well, there's nothing for it, he won't come out. You need to go and get him."
There's was silence for a moment and I presumed that they were communicating wordlessly, as they often did. A second later I heard Jasper finally speak.
Alice immediately began shrieking at him shrilly and I winced in pity at the tongue-lashing he was getting.
Come on, man. Give up and get out before she tosses me in after you. Jasper's pleading thoughts came to me just as Alice was threatening that very thing.
I swallowed hard, but nodded, the underwater movement sending nearly indiscernible ripples across the water.
Curling my feet underneath me, I pushed against the bed of the lake, propelling myself upwards. I broke the surface, wincing at the cacophony of sounds that now assaulted my ears after the muted quiet of the lake.
Alice was glaring at me, hands on her hips, green scarf streaming out behind her in the wind. Jasper was uncomfortably scratching the back of his neck, one eyebrow cocked at me.
"Well, it's about time."
Swimming to the edge of the lake, I waded back onto dry land, water streaming down my impermeable skin and dripping off the hems of my clothes. My sister's nose wrinkled up before she tossed a duffel bag at me.
"You can say thank you after you've changed into something less putrid smelling."
She pointed toward a small copse of bushes and I disappeared quickly behind them to change. Thoughtfully, she had also included a towel in the bag, so I didn't get the clean clothes damp. After giving my hair one final scrub with the towel to remove the last of the moisture, I threw it back in the duffel with the rest of my wet clothes. I took several deep breaths to compose myself before I stepped out to face Alice and Jasper once more.
Jasper looked relaxed, reclining against the trunk of a tree, his forearms propped up against his knees. He was curious about what had happened, but unconcerned about what it would mean. Alice, however, was not quite so calm. She paced frantically up and down in front of her mate – in the space of only five minutes, she had managed to wear a track through the soil that she pounded across.
I would've been amused, if I wasn't so worried about what they both thought of me, knowing the truth.
"What the hell were you doing?" Alice had finally noticed me standing there and turned her fury on me.
"I don't know." I spoke slowly, waiting for the rejection from my family that would surely come. "I didn't mean to; I didn't mean to hurt her. I just...wasn't thinking." I chanced a glance upwards to see that Alice had a puzzled look on her face.
I rushed to speak, to try and explain myself, before the pair of them disowned me forever. "I didn't know when I went there that what happened would happen. It was completely spontaneous; I don't even remember making the decision consciously. Bella said she was happy to carry on, she said 'don't stop', but she didn't mean it, she couldn't have meant it." I stumbled forward a few steps, trying to wipe the look of wide-eyed confusion off Alice's face. Jasper was shaking his head, his brow furrowed.
Why were they looking at me like that? I would much rather see the disgust splashed across their faces, than these bewildered expressions they were currently sporting.
"Edward," Alice was shaking her head at me, "what are you talking about?"
I frowned at her. "What do you mean? Bella, of course."
She waved a hand nonchalantly. "Well, Jasper and I already know all about that. We don't care about that – personally, I'm more concerned about your plans to disappear and never come back home."
"You don't care about that," I repeated numbly. "What do you mean you don't care about that? Are you really that hooked on the idea of your perfect family to not care that I've destroyed someone's life? Are you that fucking oblivious?" I was yelling now, angry at Alice for her lack of caring. I needed her to care. How was I ever going to redeem myself if everyone was happy to pretend ignorance?
"Hey!" Jasper rose up in protest.
Alice grabbed my arms and shook me lightly. "Edward, I have no idea what you're talking about."
I began to laugh manically, the hysteria finally cracking through the last of my restraint. Jasper flinched as my despair hit him and I saw him visibly contain himself, before he pushed calm towards me. The laughter disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.
"I raped Bella," I said bleakly. Alice gasped, one hand flying up to cover her mouth. "She didn't know what was happening to her and I thought she did, so I didn't stop..." My explanation petered out, the excuses sounding hollow to me.
I shut my eyes. I had said it. They now knew what I had done. I awaited my judgment, my anxiety rising with every moment.
I could hear their thoughts trying to assimilate what I had just said. Their inner voices were a confused jumble of images. Alice took a step towards me; I didn't see the swing she took at me, but the force of it sent me flying backwards, into a tree that unfortunately was unable to withstand the force of my body hitting it.
Rolling out of the way, I lay staring at the sky for a few seconds, before unsteadily making my way up onto my feet. I had expected my family's disgust and disapproval. I had expected them to be angry and to be upset. I had anticipated them disowning me, throwing me out of the family in dismay and disappointment. What I hadn't expected, however, was a physical attack.
Jasper was scratching the back of his neck uncomfortably, while Alice stood in front of me defiantly, hands on her hips, one foot tapping angrily. I lowered my head again.
Jasper coughed. "Edward, do you mind toning down the guilt a bit, it's starting to become overwhelming."
Just another thing I was doing wrong lately. I nodded, trying to get a hold on my emotions, but my mind was in too much turmoil for me to be successful.
"Edward!" Alice snapped. I didn't reply. "Edward!" She tried again, this time louder, and I glanced up. She no longer looked angry; instead her face was scrunched up as if she was going to cry. Jasper had moved forward and was now running one hand up and down her back, comforting her.
"You didn't rape her."
I didn't understand the words – couldn't understand the words. I knew what had happened, I had been there. I had seen the look of shock cross Bella's face before she had fainted. She hadn't wanted it to happen and I had forced myself on top of her. I had raped her.
"Damnit, Edward! You did not rape Bella Swan. Stop thinking like that!"
"Edward," this time she attempted to speak more gently. "I saw what happened. I saw her make the decisions – there was no hesitation and no deviation. She was willing, Edward, and you can't rape the willing."
"She thought she was asleep," I spat out.
Jasper unexpectedly burst into hysterics at that, letting go of Alice to wrap his arms around his waist as he tried to stop his mirth from spreading. I braced myself against the happy feelings beginning to relax me and glared at him.
"I'm sorry." He took several minutes to gather himself, one hand raised to explain himself. I couldn't read his thoughts to see what he found so amusing, but all of his focus was on regaining control. "It's just, Edward, if you're doing it right," he shared a look with Alice, "then there's no way she could've mistaken it for being asleep."
I scowled at him. "She didn't believe that it was real."
"She must have. At least on some level of her consciousness, she must have realised it was actually happening. And from what Alice said, she was the one who convinced you to go ahead with it." A mocking smile crossed his face. "I have to say, I never thought I'd see the day when you were finally browbeaten into having sex with someone."
I cringed at hearing him describe the experience so casually, like it didn't matter or mean anything.
"Edward," Alice tried to be more diplomatic, "what we're trying to say is that you didn't do anything wrong. Bella knew, somehow, what she was doing and you can only act according to what she tells you. You can't read her mind, Edward. Who knows what she was thinking?"
"But I hurt her," I protested.
"When did you hurt her, Edward? Cos as much as I hated seeing the whole deal, you looked like you were behaving incredibly carefully with her."
She didn't understand, but I felt tired, too tired to try and argue back.
"Look, Edward, even if you don't believe me about anything else, just believe me when I say that you didn't rape her. I can't believe you even thought that."
Something occurred to me in that moment. "Why are you here then? I thought you had come along to tell me not to return to Forks."
Alice huffed and even Jasper rolled his eyes at me. "Don't be so melodramatic. We followed you for the opposite reason – to make sure you didn't get it in your head to run off again."
Alice stepped forward and rested her hand on my arm, her expression sympathetic. "You need to come home, Edward, to see it all through if nothing else."
"What do you mean?" I couldn't understand – nothing was happening the way I had expected it to – not Bella, not my family's reactions...
"What I mean is that if you're going to leave, you need to come home and let us all know what's going on. What I mean is that Bella, asleep or not, is going to have a lot of questions tomorrow that only you can answer. You're not the only one who will probably be confused about what happened."
I shook my head, unable to talk, to even think of anything to say.
"Just come home with us, Edward." This time it was Jasper who attempted to reason with me. "We need to get back for school anyway, and that includes you, especially after what happened yesterday with the incident with the van. We all have our part to play in keeping our secret; we need you to let us know if anyone suspects what we are."
"Just come back with us, that's all we're asking."
Alice began to tug lightly at me and I let her guide me back in the direction I had come. She began to pick up her pace and I blindly followed, Jasper beside me, as we began to run back to Forks. I couldn't think straight, unable to reconcile what had happened in my head, but Alice was right. I owed my family an explanation, and I owed Bella Swan an apology.
Then, maybe if I was lucky, I would be forgiven. I could only pray that I would be forgiven.
Alice and Jasper's thoughts immediately turned towards what they were going to say when they got me back home.
"Did you tell anyone?" I stopped in my tracks at the thought and my siblings had to halt and spin around to see what had brought me to a standstill. "What I did, when you saw it...did you tell anyone?"
"No." Alice shook her head. "Only Jasper knows; he was with me when I saw the decisions being made and you take off for Canada. No-one else was in the house or saw us at the time."
"Do you mind not telling anyone?" I asked, knowing that I had no right to make such a request. "I'd like the chance to speak to Bella before the family finds out and Rosalie tries to kill me again." The joke was lame, but both my siblings smiled anyway.
"Of course," Jasper replied. "It's only our business if it compromises the family anyway. Anything else is your own affair."
It felt so good to hear them say that, to know that they wouldn't shun me or cast me aside. Their understanding just showed me what remarkable people they both were.
We reached the house just as the rest of the family returned from hunting. Luckily, due to my dive in the lake, any trace of Bella's scent was gone, so there were no awkward questions about what I had been up to. Everyone's thoughts merely noted that I must have met up with Alice and Jasper while I was out feeding. Esme's reflections increased my guilt when she was glad that I hadn't had to be alone tonight after the earlier argument at the house.
I showered and dressed ready for school, gathering up the homework I hadn't completed yet and threw it in my bag. I would finish it during first period – Mr Varner had learnt long ago that it was pointless trying to quiz me on math as I would inevitably know the correct answers.
The drive to school was almost painful. Rosalie was still angry at me for saving Bella the day before and Emmett was making wisecracks every five seconds in an effort to diffuse the tension that had fallen over us all. Alice and Jasper thankfully kept quiet, but on several occasions I felt Jasper moderate the emotions in the car to make himself more comfortable. I couldn't begrudge him that; I was no empath, but even my skin was crawling with all the hostility and guilt that surrounded me.
Rosalie was out of the car the second I pulled it into a space in the school parking lot, muttering curses as she stormed off towards the school. Emmett, clearly puzzled by his wife's behaviour, offered me a helpless shrug before jogging to catch up with her.
I got out of the car more slowly, bracing myself for what was to come.
Jasper whispered something in Alice's ear before loping off to class. My sister stayed with me, coming to lean against the car next to me, watching me curiously. I was scanning the lot, trying to spot Bella's ancient truck amongst the vehicles turning into the school. She wasn't there yet. In fact, I wondered if she would even show up at all. She had been injured yesterday after the accident, hitting her head, and then I had been with her...
I swallowed hard. I just needed to check that she was unhurt, that I hadn't completely battered her beyond all recognition in my thoughtlessness.
"Hey." Alice nudged me. "Are you going to be ok?"
"Yeah, I just...I just want to see her, you know?"
"I know." She nodded agreeably. "It makes sense that you want to reassure yourself that she isn't hurt."
I turned to face her. "Does it? Make sense I mean?"
"Of course it does. You feel responsible for her now."
"What? Responsible?" I frowned at Alice.
"Of course. You saved her and now you've slept with her. You feel both responsible for her wellbeing and protective over her. It's only natural."
I recognised what Alice was saying, it made sense to me, it felt right in my bones. It couldn't be allowed.
"It's not natural, Alice. She's human and I should never have gone near her."
"Oh stop that. You know you care about her. If you didn't you wouldn't be stood here now, worrying whether she's alright or not."
I resumed my search for Bella, turning away from Alice, despite that I knew she had yet to arrive. She refused to accept the wordless dismissal though.
"I think you need to speak to Carlisle."
My eyes shot to her. "I don't think that would be a good idea."
Alice shrugged. "He's not going to judge you, Edward, so it won't hurt if you do. But I suppose it's your decision at the end of the day."
"Yes. It is."
"I'll see you later in class then." Alice diplomatically ignored my petulance and my guilt expanded two-fold at the thought that I had snapped at one of the people trying to help me. "Don't worry about it," she reassured me. "I can tell that you're on edge." Grabbing her books, she left me with one last parting comment. "Be gentle with her today, Edward. She's confused and the uncertainty is upsetting her."
I nodded. There really wasn't much else I could say.
It seemed like Bella was feeling much the same way as I was, only at least she was blameless in all of this.
As if my thoughts had drawn her towards me she appeared, surprisingly late for her, with only a few minutes to go before the school bell rang. She didn't get out of the truck when it stopped, which puzzled me; instead she sat frozen in her seat, clinging to the steering wheel.
I drank in her appearance. She was a little bit paler than usual, but I couldn't see any bruises or visible injuries which reassured me slightly. She was taking deep breaths; I could see the steady rise and fall of her chest...
...I could've slapped myself as my mind automatically flew to the memory of Bella's bare chest last night, and how beautiful she looked, like a goddess. Like my goddess.
Suddenly, she was looking at me dead on. A sheen of sweat appeared on her forehead and she gulped nervously. She was looking at me as if she had never seen me before, and – not for the last time – I wished that I could read her mind and tell what she was thinking.
The bell rang shrilly, breaking us out of the deadlock we had been in. Bella scrambled to gather her possessions and practically fell out of her truck as she hurried to get to class on time. I stayed where I was, keeping an eye on her as she crossed the parking lot, sighing in relief when she made it into the building safely, away from the dangers of rogues vehicles.
Maybe Alice was right; maybe I was just a little protective.
I listened in carefully during the morning at school. While most of the students were buzzing with the story of Bella's near escape yesterday, none of them seemed to be aware of what had actually happened. When my name was brought up it was only to note that I had been standing next to Bella and pulled her out of the way in time, not that I had sprinted halfway across the parking lot to do so. Bella had kept her promise; she hadn't told anyone.
It was only an overheard comment from Lauren Mallory that made me worry that Bella was not as unharmed as she appeared.
"Honestly, she's so jumpy today and won't answer anyone's questions about the accident. It's just rude really. She's just stalking around ignoring everyone, like she's better than us or something. And have you seen the bags under her eyes? She's acting like the van actually hit her...maybe it should have."
Ignoring Lauren's jealous vitriol, I picked up on the physical details of Bella's appearance. I had noticed her tiredness earlier when she had been sitting in the truck, but that wasn't unanticipated given what we had been up to the night before. What I worried about now was how her nerves were holding up. Had I terrified her so badly that she was now unable to be comfortable in the school?
I could feel my anticipation grow as lunch approached, even though I knew that for the sake of appearances, I wouldn't be able to speak to her there. No, for that I would have to wait until Biology after.
Alice walked with me to the cafeteria, watching me curiously from the corner of her eye. I could hear her interest in how I would behave in front of Bella, interest that she made no effort to block from me.
'Be careful, Edward. You don't want to cause a scene.'
I nodded, silently acknowledging Alice's warning and she took my hand, lightly squeezing it before letting go.
Grabbing our lunch, we made our way over to our normal table and waited for the arrival of the others. The lunchroom began to fill up with chattering students and my other siblings quickly appeared through the crowd and made their way over to us.
We sat in silence, as we always did, although Rosalie took great pleasure in silently hurling obscenities about me and questioning my sanity. As usual, she was mostly just thinking about how the whole situation affected her, and I was suddenly very glad that Alice and Jasper hadn't told the rest of the family what was going on. I could only imagine Rose's incensed reaction if she knew.
I went very still as Bella's scent hit me when she entered the cafeteria. I didn't turn to face her though, my concern would have been too obvious and my family would have grown curious by my attention. No – for now I had to pretend to only be concerned that she might expose us. Luckily, she didn't seem particularly inclined to talk. Instead she sat quietly, her head bowed over her food, as Jessica regaled the packed lunch table with the story of Bella's rescue.
I scowled as Jasper picked up her discomfort at the attention, and my mood blackened even further when I heard the thoughts of the human children. Half of the girls round the table were jealous of the attention Bella was now receiving, their thoughts black as they carefully kept painted smiles on their faces. The boys on the other hand, were distorting the events of yesterday, putting themselves in my place and imagining themselves as Bella's rescuers.
Mike Newton and Tyler Crowley in particular were getting on my nerves, and my fists involuntarily clenched as Newton began to fantasize about how Bella would reward him for his imaginary heroics.
Bella herself seemed incredibly uncomfortable with the attention she was getting. Her face appeared permanently flushed and she ducked her head, using her hair as a shield to ward off people's stares.
My family were listening intently to Jessica's second-hand ramblings of how I had saved Bella from having her brains leak out of her ears. If I hadn't been so on edge with tension then I would have found her interpretation of events very entertaining.
At that moment Bella turned her attention towards our table. Out of the corner of my eye I could see her studying us curiously, just as Jessica proclaimed that I had behaved in a manner similar to Bruce Willis. That got a reaction from my family. Alice and Jasper both snorted, fighting back smiles, and Emmett didn't even bother to hide his hysterics, laughing loudly and elbowing me in the ribs. I grimaced at the blow. Rosalie scowled again and reached up to smack the back of Emmett's head, hissing at him that he wasn't allowed to laugh – he wasn't even supposed to be able to hear what was going on at that table over the general cafeteria. He didn't even flinch, he just grinned cheerfully at his wife and we all settled back down into our positions of indifference.
I tried to ignore Bella's presence, tried to turn away and pretend she wasn't there, just to regain some semblance of calm. Her heart rate was gradually speeding up though, where she sat surrounded by a crowd of students. I could feel her watching me, a sixth sense alerting me to her scrutiny.
I couldn't bear it any longer. Twisting in my seat, I stared at her, catching her eye, even though she was still using her hair as a barrier between us. She shifted in her seat and it was that tiny movement that told me that she was aware of my attention.
I couldn't tear my eyes away from her. I wanted to know everything about her – what she was thinking, what she was feeling, what her reaction would be towards me when we faced each other next hour in Biology.
Bella abruptly stood up, breaking the eye contact between us. I felt the loss keenly. She muttered something about going to class, and Alice immediately began silently screaming at me that this was my chance to talk to her. I nodded imperceptibly and was halfway out the cafeteria as Mike and Tyler jumped up, both harbouring thoughts of accompanying Bella to class. Only I, and perhaps Alice, knew how relieved I felt when she shot them down and stormed out of the lunchroom.
I sped along to the science labs, wanting to be seated and waiting for her by the time she got to the classroom. I heard her heavy, uneven footsteps approach and sat up straighter, words running through my head as I tried to decide how I was going to explain my behaviour to her, how I was going to beg for her forgiveness.
What I didn't realise was that while I had been so tangled up in my own thoughts and my desire to make things right with Bella, Alice had followed me out of the cafeteria. I heard the soft thud as Bella blindly walked into my sister and stumbled back. I didn't hear her fall though and could see from Alice's thoughts that she had managed to steady Bella's balance so that she remained on her feet.
"What are you doing?" I muttered angrily. Alice didn't bump into anyone, like the rest of us she was far to alert and agile to have such a collision and I realised that this coincidence must have been staged deliberately. My sister chose to ignore me, hiding her thoughts while cheerfully asking if Bella was alright from her near accident.
Watching carefully through her eyes, I could see the bewildered look that Bella gave her, before tentatively reaching out to accept a plastic tub that Alice handed her.
"What are you up to, Alice? What's in that tub?"
She still didn't answer me, instead choosing to address Bella's inquisitive look. "I'm sure we'll be great friends in the future. You should use that on the bruises. Trust me, it'll help."
My sister's thoughts floated along the corridor to where I sat numbly, horror-struck. 'I'm sorry, Edward. I didn't want to tell you before in case you didn't come back home. Don't worry though, she's not badly...'
I tuned out any further explanation, my fists clenching and my eyes slamming shut. All of my worst fears had now been confirmed. I had hurt Bella; more importantly, I had hurt her badly enough that Alice felt the need to intervene. My body started shaking.
...monster monster monster monster...
That word ran on repeat through my mind, taunting me.
A shuffle near the door shook me out of my misery. Bella was here and I needed to act normally; I needed to apologise to her and I needed to be forgiven. I just wasn't sure anymore if I was going to be able to speak to her. How dare I address such an angel after what I had done?
She was smiling as she turned the corner, through the door and into the classroom. She looked so happy, despite the fact that she must have realised that what I did to her last night was real and not a dream. I had expected her anger and her disgust. Instead, she flushed prettily before ducking her head and heading towards me.
I didn't understand. She was supposed to be traumatised, upset; I had violated her after all – didn't she know what I had done to her? She wasn't supposed to boldly walk towards me offering me a shy smile.
Everything I had thought to say was stuck in my throat, held back by the inevitable wave of venom that rose as she approached me. How could she be so kind to me? How could she be so kind and smell so good and make me just want to...?
I nodded at her. I was worried that if I tried to speak, a growl would be the only sound to emerge.
Evidently, my silence displeased Bella more than if I'd spoken to her, as she hissed at me, a curiously vampiric sound, before tossing her bag heavily onto the desk that we shared. She slammed the tub of what looked like lotion down next to it, and the sound reverberated around me like a death knell, reminding me exactly of why she needed such a thing in the first place.
I needed to know how bad it was, to see how badly I had hurt her, only she seemed to have dressed to hide that very thing, her long-sleeved shirt left only her untouched hands and face bare.
My hand reached out to grasp her wrist as she sat down, holding it firmly as I slid her sleeve upwards, baring her forearm to my gaze.
Bruises. Bruises covering even more bruises. Her entire arm was almost completely blackened and I couldn't stop my cry of dismay that I could have injured her so badly.
I had known that I had hurt her - Alice had just confirmed it, but this...
How could I have been so careless? What had happened to my carefully won control? I didn't even exert the kind of force to do this much damage on my kills. If this was what her arm looked like, I couldn't even imagine how battered the rest of her must be. And I was still touching her, still gripping her tightly when I knew I had no right.
Thoroughly shaken, I let go of her abruptly, gripping the soft wooden table under my fingers as I allowed myself to give into my grief at my actions. Bella was staring at her arm as if she hadn't seen it before, and noticing my fixation, she tugged the cotton of her top back down over it, hiding the bruises from my sight once more. I did the only thing I could at this point – apologise.
"I'm so sorry. God, I'm so sorry, Bella."
It was meagre consolation for the grievous injustice I had bestowed upon her.
To my surprise however, Bella took it upon herself to console me. "I'm fine, Edward. Really. This is nothing. I'm not hurt. Some of them are from the accident yesterday, not... not last night, Edward. You didn't hurt me last night."
Pretty words. Pretty lies.
Bella was a good person, a kind person; it made sense that she would want to make me feel better about the whole thing, but I knew the truth. Those bruises hadn't been caused by the accident – I had been careful of her then, and I had taken note of every inch of her body yesterday when she had been laid out so delectably bare in front of me. I remembered everything from last night, but I didn't remember seeing any bruises.
She had to understand that I knew I had hurt her. Pretending I hadn't didn't make anything better. And even if she hadn't felt any pain at the time, or so she claimed, I knew that she had to be hurting now, and lying to me didn't change that fact.
"But I hurt you before, Bella. Even if you're not in pain right now, I hurt you."
She shook her head, denying my words. Completely unexpectedly, she grabbed my hand, trying to uncurl my fingers from their tight grip on the table. I resisted for a moment before relenting to her touch, allowing her to entwine our hands. I was enthralled by the sight of our clasped hands.
She cared. She shouldn't, but she did. Her next words only confirmed this.
"It's not your fault, Edward, you couldn't help it. You're just strong. Accidents like that will happen."
I stared at her in amazement, overcome by her consideration. She had a look of utter conviction upon her face. Bella really believed what she was saying; she honestly didn't blame me for her injuries.
"Bella." I let go of her hand and cupped her cheek and her eyes fluttered shut at the contact. "You don't know..."
Mr Banner entered the room then, his thoughts preoccupied with the experiment he was going to set in today's class. I quickly dropped the hand that was touching Bella, not wanting either of us to get into trouble for inappropriate behaviour.
Bella whimpered as I let go of her and I wondered if she truly felt the same kind of strong connection that I did. I didn't have the opportunity to ask her though as the rest of the class filed in. It was probably best that I couldn't ask her; I would only want to do something stupid like proclaim my undying devotion to her, and she was better off without someone like me in her life.
The touches, her warm smile – I didn't deserve any of it. I needed to remember that, and I needed Bella to remember that.
"Bella," I whispered in her ear, breathing in the rich scent of her skin and that precious blood underneath, "I know you have a lot of questions, but please believe me when I say that you shouldn't want to..." I had to stop and take a deep breath to get the next words out, so great was my desire not to say them. "It's best if we're not friends. It's best if I stay away from you."
I felt her shock as if it had hit me. Bella had gone completely still, almost as still as one of us, but I resolutely kept my eyes facing the front of the class, leaning away from her slightly, putting some distance between us. I couldn't give into my baser instincts, which even now were screaming at me to grab hold of Bella and whisk her away from school, take her into the forest, lay her down and...
I swallowed hard.
"Edward, why...?" Bella began to protest, but luckily for me was interrupted by Banner. I took advantage of the busy class to distract me from Bella's presence next to me, shooting out of my seat and heading out of the school the second the bell rang. Bella would barely have had a chance to blink before I was out of the building.
I was for the best. If I had stayed, she would have had the opportunity to speak to me, and I wasn't sure that I could have resisted her if she had asked me to stay.
So much for my apology.
I left the keys to the Volvo in the car, knowing that Alice would see them and know where to find them to get home. I chose to run, trying to futilely burn off some of the rush I felt. Being in Bella's presence seemed to energise me like nothing I had experienced before; but that remarkable trait didn't discount the fact that I had wanted to kill her or that I had hurt her and stolen her virginity.
The house came into view and I powered through the door and up the stairs, pausing to pant heavily, even though the exertion had no true physical effect on me.
I spun wildly to my left, barely resisting sinking into a defensive crouch at the intrusion. Carlisle stood at the door to his office.
"Are you ok, son?" He took a step forward and I struggled to think.
"You're back early." It was inane, but it was the only thing I could think of to say.
Carlisle nodded and leaned back against the frame. "They insisted I come home and get some rest at the hospital. Since there were no major surgeries scheduled today, I agreed."
I nodded and we stood in silence for several minutes. It took me a while to realise that Carlisle was surreptitiously studying me as I struggled to gain control of my wildly fluctuating thoughts. Then I remembered what Alice had said.
"Carlisle...may I speak with you?"
My father looked puzzled, but nodded. "Come and sit down in the office." Strolling into the room, he took a seat in the winged-back armchair that was positioned in front of the fire. I couldn't make myself sit down, so chose to pace up and down in front of him. He watched me cautiously, but didn't interrupt.
I cracked. "Do you remember Bella Swan?"
"Bella Swan whom you saved yesterday? Yes."
"I..." There was that speech impediment again. Before last night I had never had any problems expressing myself and now I could barely talk. "Last night, after we all talked... I went to see Bella."
"You went to see her," he repeated, a frown now etched upon his face.
"Yes. No. I didn't mean to." I didn't know what I was trying to say. "But I did, and now I think I need to go and see her again."
"I see," he said, although I wasn't sure what exactly it was that he saw. "Is that wise?"
I laughed, the noise sounding hysterical even to my ears. "Probably not."
Carlisle nodded, but offered no judgment which prompted me to continue. "I owe it to her to go back and talk to her again."
At this, Carlisle finally stood and clasped my shoulder. "Edward, I don't know what's going on between you and Isabella Swan and I'm not convinced that you even know what you're doing, but please try and remember that you need to tread carefully, for all our sakes."
"You don't trust me," I stated, shrugging off his grip.
"I don't know whether to trust what you're doing," he corrected, "especially seeing as you don't appear to be certain of what you're doing in the first place. Just...be careful."
His thoughts matched his words, expressing nothing but concern for all of us, including Bella.
"I'll try," I agreed shakily. "I just... Can I speak to you later about it? I really need to speak to Bella first, but can I talk to you about it later?"
His frown hadn't disappeared, but he nodded reluctantly. He was worried about me and so he should be, he didn't know what a devil I'd become. I turned to leave the room but he called me back before I could disappear again.
"Edward, I don't pretend to understand what's going on, but remember that I am always here to talk to and I will always love you no matter what you do."
His words touched me and I only wished I could validate his feelings of pride in me.
"And it might be an idea to hunt before you see Bella Swan again. If she's truly your singer then you won't want to see her when you're this highly strung. Far better to quench your thirst first."
It was sensible advice. "I will... Thank you." As I bolted out of the house once more, I could hear his troubled thoughts follow behind me and I ran even faster.
I was experiencing acute déjà vu.
Just like last night I had gorged myself to the brim with blood to take the edge off my nerves and was now following the increasingly familiar path towards Bella's house. I took a deep breath before scaling the wall and entering her room again through the window.
She lay on her bed, wearing the same clothes as yesterday, and my nose flared at the leftover traces of our mixed scents on the fabric. One of her hands was tracing over a large black bruise on her neck, a small smile touching her lips, and I shuddered as I remembered the pleasure of leaving my mark so prominently on her body. I shouldn't even have been thinking like that, but it was as if seeing her broke down all my barriers and I could only remember the fervour I had felt when I was sucking on the skin over her jugular – feeling all that blood pumping away beneath my mouth.
A sharp gust of wind blew through the open window and Bella frowned as the chill struck her. I had forgotten to close the window behind me. She bolted upright and gasped at the sight of me and I immediately felt bad for the shock I had given her. What had I been thinking, storming into her room like this...again? She had every right to feel scared by my presence given what I had done to her.
I couldn't stay away though, and being here, in this room, just made me want to touch her.
She watched, wide-eyed, as I walked towards her, but she didn't move away from me and she didn't tell me to stop. Acceptance and need showed on her face and I knelt on the bed, leaning towards her. Before I touched her though, I needed her to know my regrets for the way I had behaved.
"I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry."
Reaching out, I swept her tousled hair back from her face, using my grip on it to tilt her head to one side, baring the mark on her neck to me. It filled me with both a deep sense of pride that she wore my imprint so beautifully and shame that I must have hurt her so badly to leave this dark and deep a bruise. I gently kissed the mark, silently apologising for my inconsideration and then rested our foreheads together so I could gaze into her eyes. Curiously, it felt more intimate than anything else we had done so far.
I could feel Bella trembling underneath my hands, her body quivering with either fear or excitement, I couldn't tell which. Her heart was pounding heavily in her chest and I felt the need to reassure her.
"I tried to stay away. I really did... and I'm so sorry that I'm weak. But I couldn't. I just couldn't. I needed to be here with you. Please forgive me."
Bella didn't answer. Instead, she nuzzled me gently before pressing her lips to mine. I was completely dumbfounded; surely she should have been pushing me away from her and telling me to get out, rather than wrapping her arms around me to press us closer together. I couldn't help myself. I kissed her back.
This was bliss, to have this warm, loving person accept me like this, to have her want to continue touching me like this.
She threw her head back to gasp for air and as her mouth was torn from mine, I was shocked back into reality.
I was repeating my mistakes, wanting her when I shouldn't, allowing my body to control my actions instead of my head.
Bella seemed oblivious to all this. Her eyes were half-closed and her cheeks flushed as she moved close to me again. I had to stop her, placing my hands on her shoulders and pushing her back.
Bella looked like she was going to protest so I held up a hand to stop her.
"Bella, I think we need to talk."
Bella seemed stunned by my pronouncement, so I took the opportunity to move her back so that she was resting against the headboard of her bed while I sat at the bottom. It was good to put some distance between us. That way I could think more clearly.
I knew that I had some explaining to do, but I couldn't think where to start. My hand came up to rake through my hair as I deliberated what to say.
"You'll pull it all out if you keep doing that?"
Bella's voice broke into my musings and I spun to face her. "What?"
She looked embarrassed to have spoken in the first place. "Your hair. Um, if you keep running your hands through it like that it'll fall out... and you'll be... bald."
I wanted to laugh at the completely random statement, but it just emphasized the differences between us. In Bella's human world, losing your hair probably was a concern, but not in mine. Bella was now staring intently at her legs and I realised that the longer I took to answer, the worse she probably felt.
"My hair won't fall out."
"What?" Ok, so she hadn't been thinking about what she had just said. It made me wish, not for the first time, that I knew what was going on in her head.
"My hair won't fall out."
The tension was building between us and we both spoke to break it at the same time.
I stopped to allow her to speak, but she remained quiet so I took the opportunity to say my piece.
"Bella, I know you said not to earlier, but please allow me to apologise for what I did to you last night." The need to pull her towards me and cradle her in my arms was overwhelming, but I managed to resist, settling for grasping her hand between mine. "Not just for the bruises, although those are bad enough, but for what I did last night... the way I acted. Please believe me that I never meant to take advantage of you like that."
Bella stared at me and I hurried to explain myself.
"I mean, breaking into your room like that and then... Please understand that I would never have assented to such actions if I hadn't believed that you were fully in possession of your faculties. I should have never allowed it to happen anyway. The damage I could have caused. The damage I did cause." I released the grip I had on her hands to gesture towards her bruised body. Bella still looked unconvinced by my apology and I struggled to convince her of my sincerity. "Don't worry though, I won't let it happen again. I won't come near you again." I would keep that promise, even though it hurt to stay away from her. "Please accept my apologies for any harm caused."
Bella didn't look happy at my announcement that I would keep away from her. In fact she looked incredibly angry.
"How dare you?" she hissed. "If I want you to go away I'll say. I don't regret what happened last night. You didn't take advantage of me, Edward."
I was confused. She wanted me to stay near her? She didn't regret anything?
"Bella, you weren't able to make conscious decisions last night. You thought you were asleep. I took advantage of you."
She didn't get it. She was too forgiving.
I jerked away from her and began pacing up and down the room, gripping my hair tightly in my fists to stop me from waving my arms around and doing even more damage.
She didn't understand. Bella thought that she had had a choice in this, she thought that it was ok. It wasn't ok. I had violated her, why couldn't she understand that? I had hurt her; I had forced her. I was no better that a rapist.
"Stop it. Just stop it," she suddenly screamed.
Her yell stopped me in my tracks and I watched her carefully, wondering if she was going to shout again, keeping an ear out to make sure her father hadn't been disturbed. She was studying me intently, a frown upon her brow, her lip once again caught between her teeth.
What was she thinking? What did she see when she looked at me?
My fingers twitched, but I restrained myself from reaching out to her. God, I wanted to touch her.
As if she could feel my want, Bella closed her eyes briefly and took a deep breath. Keeping eye contact with me, she steadily raised her arm up, holding her hand out to me. I didn't understand. How could she want me to touch her?
"Come here." She beckoned me forward, but I shook my head. If I went near her now then I would be lost. She whispered to me, tempting me closer. "Please. Please come to me."
I lurched forward, taking one juddering, hesitant step forward, lost in her chocolate eyes which called me forward. She took my hand, trying to pull me forward with both of hers. I resisted – my last stand, which promptly crumbled under her next words.
She led me forward to sit next to her on the bed, my hands still clasped within hers. Very tenderly, she brushed my hair back and I nearly purred as her fingers settled on the back of my neck and scratched lightly.
"Edward," she murmured huskily, "I'm going to say something now and I need you to listen to me, ok?"
I hummed, content to sit there and listen as long as she kept touching me like this.
Bella took another deep breath. "Ok. First of all, please do not in any way compare yourself to a rapist. You didn't attack me; I'm not your victim. I was awake when we...had sex."
She stumbled over the words and I nearly corrected her by saying that we made love, but I knew that I had behaved badly so I kept my mouth shut and let her speak.
"I may have thought that I was dreaming, but that wouldn't have changed my actions. I made exactly the same decisions that night as I would have made if I knew that I was awake. I wanted it, I wanted... you. You didn't take advantage of me in any way, shape or form."
What she was saying was just too good to be true. Too good. She shouldn't be making excuses for me like that. I knew what I had done. She shouldn't be trying to take all of this upon herself.
She interrupted me, cupping my cheek and turning my face so I was forced to meet her eyes. "Edward, you did not take advantage of me. You did not rape me. Please don't try to turn what happened last night into something horrible. It wasn't horrible. It was beautiful. Please... you're not a monster."
She didn't know how wrong she was about me. Even if she could forgive me for the night before, she would still never truly know the depths of my depravity – the evils I had done, the people I had killed.
Tears leaked from the corners of Bella's eyes and I could have wept myself at the thought that she was crying for me and my broken soul. Cupping her face, I brushed away the evidence of her distress, wishing I could wipe away the past just as easily.
I had to tell her the truth. I needed her to understand why she should stay away from me, no matter that I wanted to cling to her. "Bella... Bella, you don't know what I am, what I've done. You don't know. If you did you'd see that I am a monster...and what I did to you just proves it."
"No, Edward..." she began to protest.
"It proves it. I mean, look at you. Look what I've done to you. Those bruises, those marks... they aren't the kind of marks left by someone good, Bella. And I haven't just hurt you physically either, I've irreparably damaged your reputation as well. Trust me, Bella, I am a monster and you'd do well to stay away from me in the future."
I needed to take my own advice now and get away from her. Pushing her arms away from me, I went to stand up, only to be stopped in my tracks when she suddenly threw herself forward, locking her arms around my neck and clinging to me tightly.
She buried her face in the crook of my neck and I shuddered at the feel of her hot breath on my skin as she pleaded with me not to go.
"Please don't go. You're not a monster. You're not. You're not, you're not, you're not." She sounded so broken as she sobbed into my neck.
I didn't know what to do. I couldn't leave without hurting her, and hurting her more was the last thing that I wanted to do. A small part of me rejoiced when I realised that I would have to stay until she calmed down.
Lifting her slender body up, I slid down the bed to that I was sat in her earlier position, against the headboard, and swung her legs around so that she was sitting across my lap. I could only hope that I hadn't put her in an incredibly uncomfortable position. Bella didn't seem to notice though, still holding tightly onto me as she continued to whisper her mantra.
"You're not a monster, Edward. You're not, you're just not."
I wish I had half the faith in myself that Bella seemed to have. As it was, her continued assurances were beginning to make me believe that maybe I wasn't truly bad. It gave me comfort anyway and staying with her was the least I could do to return it.
I breathed in the sweet scent of her blood before quickly kissing the crown of her head. I didn't have much experience in calming down hysterical females, so I settled for holding Bella closer to me and rocking her gently from side to side as you would a child.
"Shhh, Bella, it's alright. Please be calm. Please don't be upset over me. It will all be alright."
Bella calmed slightly, getting her breathing back under control. "You're not... a monster," she insisted through her gasps. "You're not. You didn't hurt me."
That was a ridiculous statement.
"Bella, how can you say that? I've seen your arms. How can you say I didn't hurt you? I bet the rest of your body is just as bad."
She should have fought against me, should have slapped me for the harm I had caused. Instead, Bella snuggled closer to me, brushing her mouth against my jaw.
"Edward, I have bruises, but you didn't hurt me. You didn't hurt me then and you're not hurting me now. Please understand that. I bruise easily. Please don't go away. This could have happened regardless of how strong you seem to be... which by the way, you've never got around to explaining to me."
I don't know if it was Bella's repeated assurances, but this time I truly heard what she was saying. Bella didn't see herself as my victim, and if she didn't believe it, when she was the injured party, then perhaps neither should I. I knew the bruises had to hurt though, now at least if not at the time, but Bella wanted me to listen to her. She had clung to me, refusing to let me leave to get me to hear what she had to say. Maybe I should start taking it all on board... even if her version of events was so different from my own.
The only thing I was unable to address though, was the secret of what we were and how I had stopped the truck. I had promised my family that I would protect our secret and I meant to keep that promise. I couldn't break it, not even for her.
"Bella, can we just... I'm sorry, but it's not... It's not something I can just tell you... Please – it's not my secret to tell. Please don't ask me. I can't tell you. I won't tell you."
The more I talked the stronger my resolve became - even though it felt like it could easily fall at one snap of Bella's fingers. What I had to remember was that to tell Bella what we were would put her in even more danger than she was already in. It couldn't be done; I wouldn't let our secret destroy her.
Bella wasn't perturbed by my rebuttal of her need for answers. Twisting round to face me, she moved her legs so that she was now straddling me, the cradle of her hips temptingly close to my groin which was beginning to stir at her close proximity.
Gripping her hips, I slid her back towards my knees, away from my erection. That didn't deter her though, and she immediately leaned forward to press her chest to mine, brushing my cheek with her own. From this new position I could see the mark on her neck that I had made and dropped another kiss over the blackened skin in silent apology for my roughness. Bella shivered under my mouth and this time I was fairly certain that the involuntary movement came from her increasing arousal. Her skin was beginning to warm up, her heart slowly picking up pace and her scent changing ever to so slightly.
"Edward," she whispered into my ear, "what did you mean when you said that you'd hurt my reputation as well as my body?"
Once again she had managed to surprise me, veering off on a tangent that I couldn't have predicted. I didn't know how to answer her though. Reputation wasn't really a modern concept and I knew that I would struggle to explain it to her. Most people these days placed so little value on morality. Bella was a good person though, so maybe she would be able to see where I was coming from.
"Edward?" she prompted.
"I... My family is very traditional. I was brought up to respect... young ladies, such as yourself. What happened last night..."
"When we had sex." Her bald assessment threw me and I found myself wanting to correct her.
"When we... made love," I corrected. "That is the kind of thing I was brought up to believe should only happen between two people who mutually love and respect each other."
"Oh." Bella was disappointed by my explanation, and I suddenly realised just how dismissive of her I had sounded.
"Not that I don't respect you, Bella. I do. I just..." I couldn't explain myself properly. "God, I'm making a mess of this."
"No," Bella rushed to reassure me. "It's alright. I understand what you mean exactly." Her words sounded too much like a platitude though.
"I don't think you do. We've only known each other a short while, Bella. We've had exactly three conversations. I just think..."
I didn't know what I thought. I knew what I wanted from Bella, but I also know that I had no right to want it.
"What? What do you think?"
I relented. "I just think that this situation would be less... would be more... proper...if we had had a relationship first. Please understand, I was brought up believing that people should only engage in sexual relations after they are married. I feel like I've dishonoured you."
Bella shook her head, but didn't say anything. After a minute of silence, she quickly pressed a kiss to my neck. The feel of her mouth on such a sensitive area made me gasp, which seemed to please her. Encouraged by my reaction, she then began to dot a row of kisses up my throat and along to my ear where she whispered my name. I hummed in pleasure at the sensations she was causing.
"Trust me, I don't feel dishonoured."
I immediately began to protest at that, because I knew that I had done her a grave injustice even she didn't see it herself, but she stopped me in my tracks by pressing her fingers to my lips. I swallowed heavily.
"I don't feel dishonoured," she repeated. "Do you want to know how I really felt last night?"
The memories were beginning to overwhelm me, stirring up my arousal as I pictured us together in my mind, her body moving perfectly with mine.
"How did you feel last night?" I asked, recognising the need in her eyes that mirrored my own.
"I felt amazing..." She kissed the corner of my mouth. "...and perfect..." She kissed the other side and I locked all my muscles to keep myself from clutching her to me too tightly. "...and beautiful..." She licked my lip and I couldn't prevent the growl that rumbled from my chest at the action. Bella didn't seem to mind. Instead the sound only seemed to stimulate her as her hips began to move against me in a tantalisingly slow rhythm.
All of my good intentions flew out the window and all I wanted was to be as close to Bella as possible. There was one thing I needed her to know first though.
I poured every ounce of truth and sincerity into my words. "You are beautiful." I couldn't believe that she would ever think otherwise.
She searched my face, searching for the truth, and she found it there. "Edward..."
I lunged forward, capturing her lips with mine and kissing her with as much passion as I could imbue in the action. Bella wasn't put off by my fervour, rather meeting it with her own and moaning deliciously into my mouth.
Bella's fingers raked through my hair, tugging sharply at the strands and drawing a groan from me as she rocked against me, searching for friction. I could feel her breathing stutter and broke away from her lips to allow her to get some air.
This was incredible. Being here with Bella was the most mind-blowing experience of my life.
But I knew it couldn't last.
I knew the differences between us and the secrets I had to keep, not to mention the harm I could do, would only come between us and it was better for Bella if I stayed away.
The shredded remnants of my honour demanded that I tell Bella this now, before I let this go any further tonight...no matter if it would end what we had just started.
Bella was eyeing me with some trepidation now and it struck me that her caution was well-advised. She knew that I was going to pull back, I could see it in her eyes.
I gathered my courage, closing my eyes to protect me from her beseeching look. "Bella... you realise that we can't take this any further. I can't have you near me... I'm no good for you. Please just let me go without causing any more damage."
I could feel her shake her head. "I don't care... I don't. Please Edward... even if you have to go away after... please let me have this. I need to feel you inside me."
My unneeded breath caught in my throat. Such a bold statement of intent both shocked and aroused me to an almost painful level. My need was only increased as Bella slid as close to me as humanly possible and hooked her legs around my waist, locking us together.
I opened my eyes to look at her. She wanted this, she really did. One of my hands slid up her back to cradle her neck. I briefly glanced towards the window, my only chance of escape.
I didn't want to leave. "I'm going to hell."
She took my words for the accession they were and fused her mouth to mine.
As much as I loved kissing Bella, at the first opportunity my mouth trailed down to her neck and I lavished attention on the mark I had left there last night. Something primal in me revelled in the sight of her bearing my mark and I felt the demon within me stir at the thought that she was mine.
There was so much more skin to explore just below her neck and gripping the hem of her shirt, I whipped it over her head leaving her just in her bra, and began to kiss and lick all over her deliciously soft skin. Bella's fingers brushed against my chest, scorching me, as she fumbled to undo the buttons on my shirt. She smiled when she finally succeeded and pushed the shirt off my shoulders. I shrugged it off my arms blindly as my mouth moved ever closer to Bella's breast, hidden underneath the silky fabric of her bra.
I couldn't have that. I needed to feel her skin beneath me. I showed no restraint as I took advantage of my superior strength and shredded all of the remaining clothes that hid Bella's body from my sight. Her nipples puckered in the cool air and I immediately latched onto one, sucking it into my mouth and flicking it with my tongue. Moving to the other, I covered my teeth with my lips and bit down lightly on the swollen flesh.
Bella slid her arms over my shoulders, holding me to her as she began to move rhythmically against my erection. The feel of her writhing against my cock sent a growl ripping out of my chest again. Instead of scaring her, the feral sound seemed to heighten her arousal as her movements became more frantic and small gasps escaped her throat. I didn't know if she was aware of it, but she was whimpering in time with her grinding, every push of her hips forward eliciting a small grunt.
Her eyes were fluttering as she fought to reach her peak and I slid my hands down her chest, gently pinching her nipples on the way down, enjoying the small squeaks she made as I did. My fingers moved even lower and I brushed them against her swollen clit tentatively, wanting to check that she wasn't too sore from last night before increasing the pressure.
She was so close. "Come for me."
She came. Burying her face in my neck, I felt every inch of her body tense, her nails scratching at my shoulders, before she suddenly relaxed, her body going limp in my arms.
Not willing to lose momentum and wanting to send her over the edge yet again, I slid two fingers inside her, her walls fluttering weakly against my digits. As if those fingers had given her an electric jolt, Bella came to life again, her body surging upwards and rocking into my hand. She deftly undid my belt and tried to force my jeans down, whimpering when they got stuck between our bodies and settling for rubbing her palm over me.
I groaned at the pressure she was exerting, then realised I could feel that touch on my bare skin if only I could get my pants off.
Sliding my fingers out of her body, but unwilling to let her juices go to waste, I stuck them in my mouth, my eyes rolling back at the taste of her. I wrapped an arm around her waist and hoisted her up easily – she weighed nothing and felt amazingly delicate in my arms. With her wriggling ass off my lap, I was able to swiftly remove my jeans using one hand whilst she did her best to distract me, covering my chest and shoulders with kisses.
Once I was undressed, our frantic fumblings began to slow as we found a more relaxed rhythm, and I lifted Bella's face so that I had access to those pouting lips once more as I began to lower her on top of me, hoping that she would find the new position more comfortable than last night.
It didn't work, as she whimpered when I finally began to enter her, and I froze, unsure if I should lift her off me and forget about the whole thing.
"I'm fine, Edward," she breathed, "just go slowly, ok?"
"Of course," I whispered, capturing her bottom lip between mine and tugging lightly.
I lowered her onto me almost painfully slowly and we both sighed in relief once I was fully seated inside her. Bliss, scorching, unbelievable bliss.
I dotted kisses over Bella's face as I waited for her to adjust to my intrusion once more. She bucked her hips slightly, encouraging me to move, and I used the arm around her waist to begin to slide her up and down.
She felt so good, so tight and wet and warm.
Bella sped up our movements together, using her hands on my shoulders to increase our momentum so we were practically slamming against each other. She was panting heavily and her hair was beginning to stick to her hot face, but she had a small smile on her face as she rode me, her eyes tightly shut and her mouth babbling exclamations of delight.
I was breathing her name, every exclamation a devotion to her.
Bella's orgasm hit her hard and from out of nowhere, and she threw her head back and screamed my name loudly, her nails digging ineffectually into my back. I replied with hers, shuddering as my release pulsed through me in response.
I felt incredibly disconnected, like I was having an out of body experience, and in that instant, I wished that I could be like any other human male, holding my lover as we drifted off to sleep entwined together. Bella slumped against me, humming contently, and I stroked her back, soothing her as she came down from her high.
I wanted to stay like this forever, just lost in the afterglow of having Bella surrounding me, of making love to her, of having her show me her love – whatever kind it was. Sitting quietly with Bella was like nothing I had experienced before. For once, I was able to be in the presence of another, be close to them, and yet still be able to sit in peaceful quiet. I wished I could stay in this moment for the rest of my life...but I knew that it wasn't going to happen.
Dropping a gentle kiss onto the top of Bella's head, I lifted her up and off me, eliciting a hiss from her as I did so.
Oh God. I had hurt her again. Mentally kicking myself, I began to apologise yet again when she interrupted me.
"If you dare apologise, I'm going to hurt you... badly. I'm fine, I'm not in pain, so don't you dare ruin this for me."
She knew me better than I thought and I was going to have to learn to trust that she meant what she said and accept that she wasn't in any pain. Her threat though was completely adorable and I laughed at it.
"I'll try my best not to," I agreed.
I lay Bella down so she was reclined next to me, stretching out her cramped legs and massaging the sore muscles as I took the opportunity to surreptitiously gaze at her naked body spread out before me. I damped down those thoughts before my body stirred again, so easily aroused by this strange human girl.
Bella didn't accept my distance though, tugging on my arm until I lay down beside her, my hands trailing over her soft skin as she snuggled into me.
I wanted to stay like this, here with Bella... Which meant I had to leave.
I couldn't bring her into my world or ask her to accept it. It wouldn't be fair. And even now I was a danger to her; the scent of her blood was too tantalisingly close to be ignored.
I may not have been able to read Bella's mind, but it seemed that she was adept at reading mine.
"You have to go."
"Yes." Even though I didn't want to.
Sighing, she propped herself up on her elbow and stared down at me. "But can't we at least be friends?"
I wanted to be friends with Bella, but then, I wasn't sure that I would ever be able to cope with just being friends with her, not after this, not after what I had experienced here. I cupped her cheeks, memorising her face, so I would never forget this moment, even after I let her go.
"Never mind." Bella knew the answer and now she was putting distance between us herself, rolling over and turning her back to me.
"Bella," I began, and then stopped because I didn't know what I could say to make this better for her. Sighing, I got up off the bed, my hand raking through my hair as I tried to decide what to do. "Bella..."
No. It was no good. Better I get dressed and leave instead of try to make more excuses for myself. I had behaved badly towards Bella, both tonight and last night. It should never have happened and that was that.
I got dressed, retrieving my clothes from where they had been tossed around the room, and shrugged back into them.
A single tear leaked from beneath Bella's tightly closed eyes. I couldn't leave her like this, but I didn't see what else I could do.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the tub Alice had given her earlier – the lotion to help heal the bruises on her skin from last night. This was something I could do; I couldn't leave with her thinking that I didn't care at all.
Scooping some of the cream out, I began to smooth it over the skin of Bella's back, making sure I covered every inch. Bella sobbed as I worked, her body shaking and small gasps coming from her throat as she tried to cry quietly.
After working on her arms and legs, I hesitated and then rolled her over, before beginning on her front. I tried to make my touch as comforting as I could; this wasn't about arousal, this was about healing. Bella gradually relaxed under my touch, her body sinking further into the bed as she began to blink drowsily.
When I reached her neck, I could no longer remain impartial. I covered every inch which the lotion except for the mark I had left the night before. I liked the look of it on her and Bella made no move to object to my not wanting to heal it in a hurry.
After I was finished, I put the lotion back down and sat on the end of her bed, watching as Bella lost her battle with sleep. As her eyes fluttered shut one last time, there was something I needed to say, just so she knew how I felt about her, even if I couldn't tell her when she was awake.
"You're perfect to me, Bella."
She sighed in her sleep and rolled over, mumbling happily.
I stayed where I was for about an hour, watching Bella as she slept. She appeared content enough, snuffling into her pillow adorably on occasion, but as her sleep was undisturbed, I felt happy to leave her alone. The last thing I wanted was to abandon her without making sure she was alright first.
Sending one last glance longingly her way, I jumped out of the window and headed home, dreading the conversation that I would have to have with my father now. I had behaved so erratically earlier that I was sure he would demand to know what was going on between Bella and I.
What I hadn't anticipated, was that Carlisle would be waiting for me to arrive on the back porch, before I had a chance to shower and wash Bella's scent off me. His nostrils flared as I approached and I saw his disappointment in me flash across his face, before his thoughts registered it.
I ducked my head, thoroughly ashamed as I slowed my walk up to him.
"I think it's time we had that talk now, don't you, Edward?"