Evening Star: Edward's Story
Fan Fiction by Cassandra Lowery
Chapter One: The Prom
I held Bella on my lap, her head laid trustingly against my shoulder. The music from the prom sounded behind us, reminding me of why we were here, why I had insisted on taking Bella to this dance, knowing how much she would resist. Alice had been right: she never would have come if she had known about the prom beforehand. I gathered her to me more tightly as twilight morphed into night, a clear night—an unusual sight in Forks, with its constant cloud cover. As we sat under the madrone trees, not needing to speak, the stars slowly appeared, one by one, spreading across the sky in the beautiful patterns of their ancient myths. We watched, spellbound, by the majestic light show of a perfect, starry night, the evening stars seeming to wink at us personally. I could have stayed there, Bella curled in my lap, for eternity.
But soon I could hear couples slipping from the gym, looking for the privacy that we had sought, thus disturbing ours. A familiar giggle almost made me turn my head to glance over my shoulder, but I resisted the impulse to see what Jessica and Mike were up to as she led him toward another grouping of madrone trees.
Bella also noticed that we were no longer alone. Reluctantly she shifted in my arms, pulling her heavy plaster cast awkwardly over my leg and setting both feet on the grass. I heard her sigh softly, as if she, too, were loathe to let this moment go. But both Mike's and Jessica's thoughts and intentions were quite clear...and more than a little distracting. Rather than let her see what Mike and Jessica were doing in their semi-private area from which emanated the distinct sounds of lips moving together frantically and the crush of Jessica's silky dress against Mike's tux, I rose to my feet and, wrapping my arm firmly around Bella's waist to help her to her feet, started to lead her back to the gym. But as we stood, Bella's poor sense of balance, more of a problem than usual because of the cast on her leg as well as our long time sitting still, caused her to stumble forward. I immediately caught her, both my arms around her waist as she collided with my chest. She quickly took advantage of the situation, wrapped her arms around my neck, raising her face to mine in the starlight. Every thought of Mike and Jessica behind us disappeared as she smiled at me slyly, her chocolate eyes warm and melting.
"You did that on purpose," I accused softly, holding her even more closely against the pleated front of my tux.
Bella said nothing. She smiled up at me a little flirtatiously, and I found myself staring at her full lips. A hunger grew in me … not mere thirst at her incredible scent which still burned my throat with each breath I took … but the hunger to kiss Bella and never, never stop. As our eyes looked deeply into the others', I heard her breathing accelerate and her heart begin to race. I had to be so careful with her...so careful. Her human system reacted so strongly to my presence that I couldn't help feeling a slight chill run down my spine...a chill of fear. She was so delicate, so easily broken. I could kill her if I lost control for a split-second.
I could never lose control with her.
And it was so difficult as Bella constantly undermined that self-control. Here she was, smiling up at me, her eyes deep pools, inviting the kiss that I wanted to give her so badly. And how I wanted to kiss her, to crush her against me and kiss her as passionately as I could.
If I did, she would die. It was truly that simple.
All these thoughts flew through my mind in the split-second before Bella had twined her arms fully around my neck. She leaned into me, reading my hesitation, knowing well the reason for it. I could feel the indecision on my own face. And then I felt it fade as I bent my head and carefully, gently, touched my lips to hers. Her mouth was so soft, so warm, her breath so sweet. Her warmth permeated her delicate dress and my thin tuxedo shirt until I felt warm all through, as if I were a human man and not icy stone.
And then Bella pulled herself even closer, her heart pounding unevenly in a way that I should be used to by now but which still concerned me. Reluctantly I loosened my embrace and reached behind my neck to pull her arms away, stepping backward and breaking the kiss at the same time.
She wasn't the only one who was breathing more roughly than normal.
Taking a deep breath that burned my throat despite my hunting only last night, I forced myself to laugh gently at her pout, trying not to think of how close she came, each time we kissed, to the possibility of death. My mere existence put her at risk each and every day, much less allowing her to get so close to me, undermining what little self-control I had. I wanted her so badly, but it was not at all possible. I was not a human male, even if Bella made me feel more human than I had ever thought possible...
I reached a finger toward her, smiling down at her as I traced her pouting lips with the barest touch of my index finger. She stopped breathing. Immediately I dropped my hand to my side to find hers; relief flooded through me as she took a deep, steadying breath and gave me a weak smile.
"Shall we return to the dance?" I asked, tucking her hand into the crook of my elbow in the fashion of a century ago.
Bella wrinkled her nose at the thought, then nodded. As we turned to walk back to the gym, I felt Mike's eyes on us and felt his flare of anger. I had not noticed that while my thoughts were consumed with Bella—her lips, her warmth, my waning control—Mike had been watching us over Jessica's shoulder. I had hoped that now that Mike and Jessica were together, he would let go of his obsession with Bella. And he did … most of the time. But upon occasion—and this was one of them—he betrayed his thoughts all too clearly. I had to admit that I couldn't blame him tonight: Bella looked incredibly beautiful. As I helped to support her as she limped along with her cast, I looked down in admiration at Bella's slender figure wrapped in the gorgeous blue dress—French in design—that Alice had provided for her, her un-casted calf shapely with the height of her stiletto heel. As we walked, she seemed to sense my stare and glanced up at me shyly, my favorite blush coloring her delicate cheekbones a deep rose, almost causing the few freckles across her nose to disappear entirely. Her lips parted slightly as she drew in a deep breath, her eyes searching mine.
"What?" she hissed at me.
I couldn't resist making her blush even more deeply … even if I had to reign my control in tighter than ever … not the self-control of physical attraction but the control of the outlandishly provocative scent of her blood.
"You are undoubtedly the most beautiful girl in this room," I told her as I lifted her slightly over the threshold of the gym doorway and we entered the thronging prom crowd. My stare was more than admiring; it was captivated. And she knew it.
She snorted indelicately, and I laughed, swinging her into my arms and lifting her so that her feet were atop mine. Once again, we swirled with the music, and her eyes were alight with enjoyment.
"I told you it was all in the leading," I teased.
Pulling herself closer to me, she laughed softly. "I admit it...you were right." She frowned slightly. "You're always right."
I smiled down at her. "But of course," I whispered. She fisted her small hand and struck at my shoulder in mock anger. "Be careful," I warned her, laughing, "you could break more bones..."
She nodded in agreement. "You're right." She groaned softly. "Again."
I laughed again and whirled her expertly through the crowded dance floor. We didn't speak for a little while. She seemed to be intent on enjoying her prom despite her vociferous objections, and I was thrilled to see her gaining another human experience, another human memory. This prom was a rite of passage for humans, and I wanted her to enjoy her human life. And I was happy to be part of her life, part of every part of her life—despite the unavoidable danger my presence put her in, directly or indirectly.
We twirled past Alice and Jasper who were dancing beautifully together. Bella threw them a smile over my shoulder, but I froze so suddenly that she almost fell. Only my arm flying round her waist to steady her kept her from falling flat.
"What is it?" she asked anxiously, her eyes scanning mine.
"Nothing," I murmured, starting to dance again. But as I turned Bella expertly to the beat of the music, I glared daggers at Jasper, and he knew why. He had caught Bella's scent and had allowed his imagination full rein. It was bad enough, dealing with the often admiring and sometimes impure thoughts the human males directed toward Bella—hardly a boy here had failed to note how unbearably beautiful she was this evening—but thirsting for her blood in the middle of the dance floor? It was too much for anyone to bear without objection.
Besides that, it simply wasn't safe.
Jasper's control was poor. I had worried incessantly about her safety with Jasper while we tracked James weeks ago. I couldn't call her on my cell to check in because James would have heard us, so while the vast majority of my mind was devoted to the capture—the failed capture—of James across the wilds of Canada, part of my mind was imagining horrors untold of Bella's close proximity and sweet scent causing Jasper to lose control, his injuring or killing her. I had tortured myself, imagining her death over and over. Or worse than her death: her transformation into an immortal being, a monster without a soul, without a hope for heaven. My imagination had run wild constantly, and fear had gripped me so thoroughly that I had found concentrating on the pursuit of James difficult. And then to finally arrive in Phoenix and discover her missing... Swallowing hard, I pushed the thoughts from my mind and attempted to smile down at Bella's confused expression.
"Sorry, Edward," Jasper thought towards me. "It just...caught me unawares. I wasn't expecting it." I lifted my eyes from Bella's and gave him a hard glance, then deliberately danced away from Jasper and Alice, putting half the gym floor between us in only a few seconds. Over Bella's shoulder I saw Alice with both hands on Jasper's face, trying to soothe him, and Jasper's unhappy expression gave me a stab of guilt. Just a small stab, though. Bella's safety was of the utmost importance. It was my job to protect her now...from danger, from her own attraction to that danger, from her regrettable bad luck, from Jasper, and...yes, even from myself.
"Edward?" Bella whispered.
With great effort, I managed to smile down at her, watching the crease across her forehead relax, seeing the worried light fade from her eyes which again became warm and inviting. And lovely. I could lose myself in their brown depths...and did, completely and absolutely. We continued to dance, her feet on mine, her arms wrapped around my neck and mine around her waist, and time seemed to melt away as we lost ourselves in each others' gaze...