Even though the time between school and the time of this sleepover was significant, I could not help feeling it was too soon. I was, for once, not ready.
And then, why the fuck had I said yes? Why had I agreed to do this? Had I not just decided that I was going to avoid the Cullens? How was this human girl able to convince me to stray of my chosen path?
I allowed a fraction of my attention to be given to the teachers of my classes while the rest of me was elsewhere. What was I going to do? I mean, for one thing I don't even sleep, so essentially, I would get to watch her sleep once talking was over… fun. And then, I understood she had questions, but couldn't I answer them over "dinner"? Why did it have to be a sleepover? What was her intention? Was she trying to get close to me? Didn't she understand the danger?
The day finally fell into night, various inanimate objects having barely survived my grip or unrefined actions while I pondered what might happen later. I sat with Charlie in the living room, trying to ignore the screen that had annoying changing pictures playing over it. I had found that watching videos, although better than when video first came out, it was still difficult to put the pictures into a fluid animation. Apparently for humans it looks as though the images are moving, but I could see what was actually happening. And it was frustrating. Audio was fine, more on the mechanical side, but understandable.
Charlie would occasionally cheer about certain accomplishments by the team he favored or grumble about the mistakes or "the fucking refs". I was not very concerned about his hollering but was intrigued by the fact that his heart rate was so elevated just because of watching the screen. It was a curious occurrence and it distracted me enough that I was startled when a car pulled into the driveway. I stood, my eyes trained on the front door, but I could feel Charlie's eyes on me.
"You girls play safe, ya hear?" he mumbled and I took my eyes off of the door just long enough to flash him a questioning glance. At first I thought he was playing with the idea that this was a sexual encounter and that we should "play safe" as some of my research into modern terminology had described, although that would require male genitalia, of which neither of us possessed, but he shrugged. "No pillow fights or anything. I don't need you sending her through the wall." I snorted, rolling my eyes as I walked at a human pace to the door, opening it after a moment's hesitation, my eyes locking with Carlisle's immediately, despite him being by the car and Alice being right in front of me. I heard him say "get to know her" before he slid back into the driver's seat and drove away.
"Hey, Miss Oblivious, I asked you how you are doing." I tilted my head down to stare at Alice, a tad puzzled. "You did not," I accused, taken aback by the idea that I might have actually been so distracted to have missed her speak. "True, but it almost looked like I could scream in your ear and you would not notice. You were staring daggers into Carlisle. What is going on between you?" I shook my head, dismissing the question. She shrugged, stepping passed me into the house. "I will get it out of you," she assured me. I stopped breathing for the brief moment of her passing and closed the door.
Alice and Charlie had their distant greetings before we headed up to my room. She fell onto my bed, lying on her back, her arms straight out, perpendicular to her body and her legs bent over the edge of the bed. She sighed, her eyes closing, but then a faint smile played over her lips. She just lay there, her chest rising with each intake of breath and falling at each release. I stood at the door, not yet willing to enter the room, to start the night. "Bella," Alice's voice was soft, almost too soft for human ears, "are you afraid?"
My body tensed, an automatic reaction to the question that took me by such surprise. "Of what?" I pushed for clarification, not sure what it was I was about to answer. "No, just afraid. Could be of anything."
"No." I spoke with hints of discomfort tingeing my voice, but there was also conviction, a need to convince her, and myself, that I was right. "See," she returned, a softness to her words that had unwarranted comforting affects, "I think you are afraid, of me, of Carlisle, of humans, of connection, of dropping roots. Can you really deny that?
"Well," I tried to put in, but she was determined to get her whole question out.
"I see your indecision and it all revolves around whether or not to stay in Forks, and whether or not to get close to me and my family. Do we scare you so much?"
"I think you are messing with the data here. I have no reason to fear you or your family. I am older than Carlisle by a significant amount. You are merely human and subsequently, the least threatening thing in my life." Even as I said this, I knew it wasn't the truth, or not wholly, anyway. That vulnerability thing? Yeah, she and her family were like a deathtrap in the world of emotional vulnerability. And what was it I was feeling towards all that?
That's right – Fear.
And then, while knowing it wasn't true, there was this tickle at the back of my brain, urging me to tell her exactly what I feared, to let her know why I could not settle. Maybe if she knew, she would stop pushing so hard and wake up to the fact that I was dangerous.
"Bella, I don't need my visions to see you struggling with indecision. Look at yourself – you have been standing there for ages, your brow bunching and your eyes unblinking." I forced myself to blink as I looked into her eyes, the concern she showed driving pins into my dead heart. "Just what do you have to fear?"
That wall I put up, that was holding back the flood crumbled. "Loss, alright! Every time I settle, every time I get close to a coven, begin to care about people, my past catches up with me. My past, or rather the people in it, have a desire to make me miserable. She kills everyone and I am helpless to stop her." Venom was welling up in my mouth as I gushed. My whole being seemed to be a torrent of emotional turmoil that had been confined, but now was free to run rampant. I stood entirely rigid, all motor function shut down.
Alice, who once again clearly did not get the gist of me being dangerous, moved closer, the palms of her hands coming to rest on my cheeks, while her fingers wrapped around, behind my neck. I could feel her efforts to force my face toward hers and although she could not move me, somehow I had enough sense to oblige. Her eyes took mine in, trapping them, holding them steadily.
"Who is she, Bella?" I blinked again, confused. "She! You condensed everything from your "past" down to "she". Who is she?"
I had just been jabbering, gushing. Had I really said that much? "She's- no, it's nothing. Nobody. She's nobody." Oh yes, that was convincing.
"Bella, you said she kills everyone. She can't be nobody." Her thumbs started to rub circles over my temples, soothing my nerves, but bringing my attention to how close she really was. "You can tell me. It is alright to be scared – that's why you have friends. And family! They are always there for you, to help you get through those moments when you are too scared to think."
For some reason, that moment brought back memories of how my heart used to skip a beat when I was flustered. That feeling of my chest squeezing and my face heating up. And how I used to never be able to form words because my brain shut down, overloaded.
It hit me like a slap to the face, granted I was not a vampire and the one hitting me was. I had already become attached, like what those silly novelists write about love at first sight. By even considering the idea of being a part of Carlisle's family, I had allowed the seed to be planted and now it was too late. This tree was already growing. And she was the seed, the one I dropped into the soil by accident. She pulled me in, made me want to stay. Fuck, of all the people I had been with, all the covens I had joined, I had never found my fated "soul mate", so how could this human be the one drawing me in, making me throw down ties even while knowing the danger.
But she is human – how could she possibly be my soul mate or whatever? I mean, I have slept with girls before, for fun, for something different, but I have never been really attracted to them. Well, no that I think about it, I have never really been attracted to anyone since my years as a human. Not entirely, anyway.
Alice is so close, her breath tickling my neck and I am totally captivated by her watery blue eyes. Such a great contrast to her hair, they pop, shimmering up at me. Her skin looks so soft, silky and flawless. I just want to touch it, to feel her warmth beneath my fingers. And her aroma, the scent of her is breathtaking, flooring. I want to be closer to her, to drink in her scent, to let it send me into a high.
"Bella," oh her voice, her harmonic, bell like voice, that I wish I could place on my Ipod thingy and put on repeat, just have her keep saying my name. "Please, move, say something, do something. C'mon." A different flavor is added to the air I breathe in – anxiety, she is unsettled, and I can smell it on her. It is strangely appetizing, appealing to the hunter in me, the animal. I lose all knowledge of where I am, what we are doing, it is just me and her, standing close together, her living body radiating fear pheromones and there, yes, her heartbeat was elevated and driving my head crazy.
"Bella!" Snap! Back to reality and I realized just how close I was to going over the edge. My hand slammed, a little harder than I meant, into her chest, giving her a little lift, sending her flying through the air and thankfully landing on my bed. One more breath and I would have, well, I don't know what I would have done. Would I have bitten her, after having avoided human blood for centuries? Shit!
"Bella," I hear Alice choke out from the bed. She is staring at me so intently, but there is hesitance in her eyes, muddying the pretty blue. She did not know whether to approach me.
"Alice, I know you say you are aware of the outcomes of your decisions and perhaps mine, but decisions are not made when instinct takes over. You cannot make this a casual thing; you cannot randomly get close to me. You asked me before if you smell good, taste good – well, you do, more than you can imagine. I cannot even fathom how Carlisle and Esme live with you. And I mean that in the best of ways, but," a growl escaped from deep within my gut, resonating in my chest, causing my whole being to vibrate. "I do not know how long I can keep myself from attacking you if you keep standing so damn close.
"Please, be careful, put in the same effort I put in to keep you safe." My words, or perhaps just the fact that I spoke, seemed to soothe her nerves. Not entirely, but she seemed to relax.
She was back to being in control of the room. "Bella, I don't want to be careful. Can't a girl live on the edge some times?" A glare was all she received in response. "Oh, come on, you can't live life always watching out for all the bad that could happen." She sighed, maneuvering herself into a sitting position. "Look, I don't know why, but I feel like I am being pulled towards you, like you're the magnet that attracts my very being. I have this sense, and let me tell you I am rarely wrong about these things," she says with a grin, "that you and I are meant to be close. I mean, the moment I saw you, I just knew we had to be friends."
Okay, I could not help but laugh. Here I am, in a panic cause I am terrified that I might be attracted to this girl alone, and she "just knows we are going to be friends". So basically, she is going to make every effort to make my keeping my head out of the gutter a whole lot harder than I need it to be. Although, my gutter and the gutter of which most would refer is a little different, since mine is more of a "how do I make her my eternal soul mate", biting fantasy, with lust being an side dish, where most of you are a lustful entrée type of gutter.
She scowls at me, perhaps slightly offended by a misinterpreted laugh, which now that I think about it, sounded like I was laughing at her power of knowing. No, see, what she did not get was that, if we were going to be close, I, Bella Swann, do nothing half assed. If I were going to be a part of her life, there was no way I would settle for just being a friend, not if she was truly my soul mate.
"oh, sorry, I was just-" I could not come up with a fitting lie and just let the excuse hang in the air. Finally, "It's just, you were really cute there, trying to sound all tough and on the edge." A grin tugged at my lips and I found that a pillow was flying my way, which of course I caught with ease.
"Gah, that's not fair! How am I supposed to express my frustration when I can't actually hit you with the pillow?" Now she had me laughing even harder, especially because Charlie had warned against pillow fights earlier. When I looked at her again, she was smiling warmly. "There you go. I finally got you to loosen up." I gawped at her for a few moments, totally thrown by the idea that she might have played me in that moment, but then we were both laughing together, care being thrown to the wind. It felt good, that moment of release, where I finally used those almost forgotten laughing muscles, my mind abuzz only with how easy the motion was. It was always so easy to laugh, once you got into it and I had avoided anything that might allow it for so long.
Just as I was beginning to feel alive, my nose picked up an unfamiliar scent, one that was definitely not human. No, it was not just one – it was three, all not human. And they were getting mighty close, probably having caught my scent. Fuck. But that is my life for you. They weren't anyone I knew, but I was not going to take chances. Jane had people everywhere, ready to report my whereabouts.
The abrupt halt in my laughing and sudden turn towards the window had Alice saying my name again, anxious again. I may be old, but three vampires against myself is not a gamble I was willing to take, not if I was going to protect Alice and Charlie. I could run, but there is the possibility of them not following and focusing only on human targets. Shit! I needed help – I needed Carlisle. I did not have time to hesitate; they were moving quickly, following my scent right to me.
We needed to move. In a flash, I was scooping Alice's tiny body up into my arms and then not a second later I was downstairs, standing beside Charlie's couch, cringing as Alice vomited on the floor, while still in my arms. Charlie bellowed when he noticed me, and the vomit, startled by our abrupt entrance. "Bella-"
"Get in the car, now." He was up on his feet, just as I had trained him, knowing to do exactly as I instructed. Alice began to sputter and mumble, but then went limp, just as she had when I witnessed her have her vision. Well, at least for that moment she would not need to be herded. I zipped out to Charlie's cruiser, carefully placing her in the back. Charlie soon followed at a human run, hopping into the passenger seat, knowing full well that there was no way I was not driving.
The car was started before he even had his seatbelt on and I was pulling it out of his drive. I got the car going a max speed most of the way, my focus split between the road, the whereabouts of this new threat, and coming up with the most suitable plan for keeping my vampirism a secret from the rest of Alice's human family. Well, I came up with nothing on that end, but it seemed the new arrivals were headed to the house first.
I heard Alice gasp in the back seat and sit up. "Bella, Bella! He- He is horrifying!" She was breathing heavily and her heart rate was through the roof.
"Alice, you need to calm down. Relax. I am here and nothing will happen to you with me here. Just relax." She whimpered and I so wished I was in the back seat so that I could hold her and protect her. Be close to her, smell her- Shit! Thoughts, get your asses back in line!
The tires squealed as I pulled into Carlisle's drive. The group had not even reached the house when they started to change direction. They had caught us faster than I had expected. Perhaps they had a tracker among them, in which case, I was liking this all far less. Carlisle and Esme met us out in the driveway, concern plastered over their faces.
I carried Alice, who seemed too queasy to walk on her own still, while Charlie ran for the house. "There is a group in town. They followed my scent," I explained quickly. "It was too dangerous for me to protect Alice and Charlie alone, if they are hostile, which is pretty likely. It also seems they have a tracker among them."
Carlisle walked close to my side, eying Alice. "She's fine," I informed him. "Just not used to moving as fast as I moved. I forgot to hold back in the moment." Alice huffed, but clutched my neck firmly.
"You could have given me a heads up," she stated. "God, I made a mess of your floor, didn't I?"
I chuckled. "That is the least of my worries," I assured. To Carlisle I said, "Whoever they are, I will meet them away from here. If things get violent, I would have a much easier time without having to babysit humans."
He nodded, a thoughtful expression on his face. "I will go with you." I glared at him, but then he said, "this is my home and I will meet the people who threaten my family. Esme can look after everyone." Esme backed up Carlisle's statement by taking Alice from me and leading Charlie to the kitchen.
"Fine, you'll come with."