Many thanks to TwilightMomofTwo's tireless beta efforts and your continued patience.
***THIS CHAPTER STARTS BACK AT THE VERY BEGINNING AFTER BELLA WAS CHANGED AND READS EDWARD'S LETTER***
Setting Edward's note down, I looked around the room. It was a shock just how clear everything in the room was, and how small things I had never paid attention to were now visible in the air around me. Even in the dim light, the minute pattern of the grain in the wood of the bed frame, the thread in the sheets, even the individual strands of my hair as it fell over my shoulder stood out in minute detail.
I noted there was an immediate, steady thump-thump in the room but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. It was a new sound that I was not readily able to identify.
Fire burned down my throat, but it was somehow different from the agony of the last few days. I inhaled, and the burn was all-consuming. Looking around, I noticed one of the maids in my room was sleeping quietly, her form slumped in a chair. The thump-thump sound was coming from her; I realized it was her heart.
Testing the air again, I knew I could smell her, and this startled me. She smelled…warm. Rusty.
I was out of the bed, moving too fast, and while my mind noted this, I was too focused on her to care. Before she could awaken, I was upon her, and before I knew what I was doing, my lips were at her throat; that creamy column of skin was torn as easy as lace. Blood gushed, warm and dark, onto my tongue.
I sucked greedily from her, but the blood gushed so fast from her, making a mess of my gown and her dress. When the flow of the blood trickled and then stilled, I stood back from her, shocked at what I had done.
She was dead, her form slumped in the chair as she had when asleep but her heart was still. Despair and anxiety gripped me as I tried to cry, but it was only dry sobs that choked from my throat.
I have killed someone, taken her life away as if it mattered nothing to me. What have I become?
What if someone comes in and finds me and her this way?
And already that dull ache of burning thirst was returning to my throat.
Tearing the nightgown off me, as well as my underclothing, I stood naked and panting in the middle of the room. I caught my reflection in the long mirror on the side of the room and gasped. My body was the same but different, subtle changes that I could tell were not there before. I looked stronger, sturdier but the feminine curve of my body seemed more alluring. The most frightening change was my eyes. I moved closer to the mirror, horror lancing through me at the horrible bright red of my irises.
I tensed as my ears picked up footsteps coming up the stairs and making their way down the hall. It was as if the world had slowed down and I had been sped up as I moved around the room.
Remembering the valise I had packed in the event I would run away with Edward, I pulled it out from the bottom of the wardrobe and sat it on the bed. Returning to wardrobe, I grabbed for a black dress mother had made for me last year when my grandfather died.
I grabbed for the dress and while struggling to slip it over my head, heard some the seams rip. I tried to be careful and dressed as quickly as I could. The doorknob started to turn and I grabbed for the valise and Edward's note from the nightstand. Not bothering with shoes, I made my way towards the window, which seemed to be my only means of escape.
The door was opening now, and I quickly unlocked the window and jumped, hoping a bush would break my fall below. Somehow, I landed gracefully on my feet in a fall that should have at least broken my legs. I didn't have long to register this in my mind as I took off at a run that was faster than any stride a human could achieve.
The streets were familiar enough, even in darkness. My eyes could see almost as if it were daylight as I traveled the cobblestones, trying to put as much distance between myself and my father's house. The newness of my body, the initial experiences of this new life were both perplexing and haunting, and I wasn't sure what to make of it all. The shame of the murder I had committed weighed heavily on my mind, but it was overshadowed by the frightening newness of what I had become.
I had no money, and Edward was gone. The burning in my throat was growing more intense as the seconds pulsed by. I found a darkened alley and hid in it, hoping no one would see me or find me. I could not stay here forever, but the magnitude of everything started to crush me from within.
I was dead for all intents and purposes.
I was a murderer and would never see my family again.
And I had no way of reaching Edward.
Just then, the whisper of a footstep caught my attention, and I shrank back into the shadows. The steps were cautious and I tried to keep as quiet as possible. A scent whispered to me on the breeze, and somehow it was slightly familiar.
That voice, it was like the sun had come up and lit the dark place I found myself in.
"Edward?" My voice was a strange sound and I barely recognized it as my own. I dropped my bag and started forward. My eyes found him in the darkness, and my cautious footsteps were a leap toward him. Arms wrapped around me, his lips found mine, and his hands roamed over my body. Safe, I was safe because I was in these arms that knew me.
Our lips parted briefly, and his lips touched my cheek, my ear.
"Mein Engelchen, how I have missed you. I am so sorry I was away from you for so long. I came back to find you. I knew you would be awake soon."
"Edward…I killed somebody. A maid."
His hand ran stroked my cheek. "It's alright. Don't worry yourself over it. We've all made our mistakes in this life. I will teach you how to control your urges."
The guilt was still overwhelming, even at his attempt to soothe me. "Take me away from this place, Edward. Take me away…please." The last was said in a pleading whimper as I remembered the maid's opened neck with both horror and greed.
His hand stroked through my hair. "I have a carriage waiting. Although running on foot would most certainly be faster, the carriage will be far more conventional. I have a place I can take you. Come."
We stood, and Edward took my hand and lifted my valise for me. He led me out of the alleyway and down the street, squeezing my hand reassuringly. The noises of people sleeping, their soft snores and breathing keeping a steady pace with their moist heartbeats set my throat on fire.
At the end of the street stood a carriage pulled by matching gray horses. Edward opened the door and helped me inside before following me. He shouted to the driver who quickly set the carriage into motion. Settling beside me, his arms wound around me, and the violent need racking through me dissipated slightly.
"You are exquisite, Bella. I am sorry I could not be there for your waking. Did you get my note?"
When I nodded, he continued. "I know you are only just new, and that everything will seem strange at first, but you will get used to it."
"Where are we going?"
"I have a place not far from here; I thought it would be wise to separate ourselves from the rest of humanity until you are acclimated."
The thirst in my throat burned, and the smell of the carriage driver, the horses, and all around us was building me to a fever pitch. Edward's nearness, his presence, his smell soothed me. His hands caressed over my body, and I felt safe in the knowledge that so long as we were together, I had nothing to fear.
And we would be together. Forever.
Emotion ran through me, fiercely, and the foggy memory of love from just three days ago seemed weak in comparison. Looking into Edward's golden eyes now, I knew nothing else bound me to this earth but him.
He was mine and I was his, and I wanted nothing more than to be with him for every dawn and dusk until the end of time.
Desire for him, for a taste of the pleasure he had given me before combined with the glory of my new-found emotions coursed through me. It was thick, like liquid fire running through my veins, channeling every want or need to him.
I angled my head towards his, and my mouth touched his lips, testing. I had never made the first move before, had never initiated any of our contact. Growing bolder, I pressed my lips to his. When my tongue caressed his, he took over, his hands cupping my chin, his thumbs moving over my cheekbones. I tried to get closer to him, needing to feel him against me.
I tried to move, but my dress made it far too difficult. I grew more frustrated, and tried to move again but my legs were only further entangled in the fabric. Edward's lips parted from mine, and I made a small sound of protest.
Edward must have read the look in my eyes, or perhaps it went deeper than that. His nostrils flared, his golden eyes turned wild, and I quickly found myself shoved against the opposite seat, my skirt and petticoat at my hips, my underclothing dragged from my body.
The darker side of me welcomed this, and I reveled in the feel of his hands on my newly sensitive skin. The way they slid up from my calves, hitching my legs to his hips sent new waves of pleasure through me.
His teeth grazed my throat, before moving up the column of my neck, over my chin, to my mouth. When he kissed it me, it was rough and should have been bruising. Our teeth clashed more than once as we kissed deeper, and my hands tore his shirt open revealing the expanse of his sculpted torso to me. I had thought he was beautiful before, but my human eyes did him no justice. As my hands ran over him, his muscles bunched and flexed. My lips parted as he kissed my neck again, and I opened my legs wider, needing more of him.
His hands deftly undid the fastening of his trousers, and he surged forward, plunging inside me. I threw my head back, and the noise that escaped me could only be described as animalistic.
I vaguely heard wood cracking, and Edward's soft chuckle in my ear.
"Easy. Channel your strength towards me. We don't want to break the carriage and frighten the driver."
I couldn't answer him as his lips claimed mine once again. I dimly noted the nervous whinnying of the horses and the answering shout of the driver but the rhythm of Edward's body moving against mine sent me into a blinding ecstasy, shutting out the rest of the world. It was frightening how much I needed. It was all too much; it consumed me and Edward must have realized it, must have felt it in the tautness of my body and the feral look in my eyes. Release claimed me, but my body was only temporarily satisfied, and deep need clawed through me again even as I felt Edward collapse on top of me.
I wanted whatever would quench the violent thirst inside me. The problem was I didn't know if it was Edward's body, or the blood of the man driving the coach outside that called to me most.
Distantly, I heard Edward mutter to himself about the carriage being a bad idea. He adjusted his clothes, and then my own.
"What are you doing?" My eyes searched his face, and for a moment I was afraid he was going to leave me. His mouth was tense but his eyes gentled as they met mine.
"We are far enough away from the city. We can go on foot from here and be a lot faster. Can I trust you to stay with me and not run off?" At my nod, he rapped sharply on the carriage roof, and it came to a halt.
Edward opened the door, and alighted from the carriage with my valise. Setting it on the ground, he turned to me and held his hands out. I stepped forward, trying not inhale the delicious scent of the driver or the horses. Once on solid ground, I watched as Edward pulled money from inside his coat and handed it to the driver, thanking him. The driver nodded curtly and turned the carriage around before speeding off into the night. The burn in my throat begged me to follow him. I stopped breathing, and it helped, if only a little.
I looked to Edward who grinned at me.
"We're far away enough from the town, so long as you can follow me we can run from here. How do you feel?"
I mentally cataloged the feeling in my throat, but the ache to be close to him was more. I nodded at him. "I'm fine."
He winked at me then. "Hope you can keep up!" I watched as he took off into the woods. An invisible cord seemed to link us, and I ran after him. Again that sensation washed over me from before: that I was moving far too fast than my human legs would have allowed. I lifted my skirt to give my legs more freedom and followed the scented trail Edward left behind. Night shadows that would have frightened me seemed alive and alight even in the darkness.
I caught up to him and he smiled at me, unadulterated joy on his face as he took my hand and we ran together. A sense of freedom I had never known before washed through me, and although the feral need still pulsed in my mind and body, it was numbed again slightly by Edward's presence.
Time seemed immeasurable as we ran; I didn't know if it was for minutes or hours or seconds but soon, we were nearing an old stone house in the middle of an estate. A long, winding driveway disappeared into the tall trees that lined the front of the estate.
Time seemed to have taken its toll on the old house, but the smell of a fire burning somewhere caught my attention. There was no life inside, nor any surrounding us but the creatures who inhabited the forest behind us.
We were well and truly alone out here.
Edward spent the next few months weaning me off human blood and teaching me to hunt animals. Edward was patient with me, always willing to explain or answer any question that I had. He told me of his life before we had met, about his immortal father, Carlisle. The house we stayed in had been a gift from Carlisle to him many years ago, an old piece of property passed from father to son.
As time passed, the horrible red of my eyes changed to a warm amber and then finally a buttery gold. I learned the capabilities of my new body and my new life. Before, in my old world, it was at my parent's bidding that I lived. When to eat, when to sleep, where to go, how to dress, how to act.
With Edward, he merely guided me, and I was allowed to be myself. The constant need I had experienced began to ebb; Edward explained this was because my newborn instincts were wearing off. I was frightened at first, unsure if I was ready to let go of what I had grown accustomed to.
I bore those changes only because the love between us did not dim. It did not sputter. It seemed to be brighter with each passing day, the wick never reaching the end.
Once the newborn in me had quieted, Edward took me traveling. We moved across borders and into countries I had only read about. The whole world was at our feet, an endless supply of fascinating places to explore and I enjoyed it all the more because I was with Edward.
One night, while in Florence we had been to see an opera and left early. Whether it was the story or the darkness or just spontaneous want, neither of us could sit still without touching the other.
He took my hand and we ran out into the cool night. The air was damp and heavy, the moon obscured behind clouds. Edward pulled me down an alleyway and pressed himself against me, his desire for me evident. His lips were at my throat, and he growled against my skin.
"I don't think I could have kept from doing this another minute."
My fingers in his hair, I gasped as he bit my earlobe but tensed when he abruptly stopped.
"Sh. Someone's coming."
He turned his back to me, and his stance became defensive.
I looked down the alley from where we had come, but it was clear, a streetlamp flickering in the night.
But at the other end, I heard the distinct sound of a footstep and the rustle of clothing. We were not alone.
And then they were upon us.
"Secure that one; it's only Cullen that we want. Kill her if you must."
Unable to comprehend what was happening, I screamed as Edward was wrenched away from me. Strong arms pulled me into an unbreakable hold that threatened to break my head from my body. I watched as he fought against six of them, who were dressed in long dark robes. A hand clamped over my mouth, and my arm was twisted violently behind me,. Although it did not hurt, the disturbing sound of the my arm starting to unhinge from my body stilled me.
I tried to snap at the hand covering my mouth; I tried to kick but my attempts were futile. Cruel words were whispered into my ear.
"Do not try to follow us or we will kill him and you. This is your only warning."
And as quickly as they were there, they were gone.
And I was alone.
"Carlisle, he should be back by now. He should have returned!"
I was pacing the study while Carlisle calmly sat at his desk, his studies laid out before him.
"Have patience, Bella. He will return soon. Someone may have stopped him on his way and asked for his help."
No, something was wrong. I don't know how or why, I just knew something was not right. It was more than just a feeling, it was a tightening sensation that worked its way through me, filling me with dread.
I continued to wear a path in Carlisle's study for another two hours. When the clock struck six in the morning, I knew I was going out after him. I grabbed my shawl from the bedroom and was just about to open the door when a sharp knock sounded from the other side.
I opened the door, and there stood a frightened looking boy of no more than fourteen. His trembling hand held a note out for me to take, and I retrieved a coin from the table in the hallway for him.
I nearly ripped the fine paper in my haste to read the note, which was written in Edward's hand.
They have come for me again. I realize I cannot live with you any longer. Please do not come after me.
I ran out of the door, vaguely hearing Carlisle shout after me. The morning sun was just about to peek over the horizon. We were not to go out in sunlight, or mortals would see we were different from them.
I did not care. Edward was my only focus. The words in that note were false, they were designed to keep me from getting hurt or away in general. He had to have known I would come after him.
I can imagine the threats they had used and Edward afraid for me, had gone with them.
I tried searching for his scent, tracking him to the spot where he was taken. By the time I found it, the sun was strong enough to shoot prisms of light over my skin, and I knew I must get inside soon. Judging by the amount of footsteps on the ground, and the different scents that lingered, there had been at least a dozen of them, with who knew what powers. Some of the scents were familiar, some were not.
I looked in the direction they had gone, but knew I would be too late to catch them and would end up tracking them back to Italy alone.
Rage built inside me, anger so fierce my body seemed to shiver and vibrate with it.
This was not over. I would bide my time and take back what was mine.
Thank you for reading.