A/N: Better late than never. :) I really like this chapter, I enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it! I would love to hear your thoughts and always I appreciate the great reviews! Please keep them coming! This story is for you.
My head snapped up at the familiar voice. My body's instinctual flinch caused the book to fall from my lap to the floor but neither of us made a move to pick it up. My eyes widened when I looked at Edward who, for the first time since meeting him, was not hiding his face in the shadows.
I took it in even though I wanted nothing more than to turn away. The scars on his face marred his features but there was something about his eyes...something about the unnatural golden color that made me see the beauty underneath.
"Go on," Edward said as he stepped into the room. I tensed up as he approached but he stopped a few feet away from me. He towered over me and every instinct I had screamed at me to run away.
"Wh...What?" I asked, my voice barely above a whisper.
"I know you want to ask me about what you just saw. Go ahead. I won't lie to you."
His smooth voice sent involuntary shivers down my spine. I wanted to lean down to pick up the book but I couldn't move. It was like my body was frozen in some kind of trance and I knew that I wouldn't be able to look away from him if I tried.
"What...um, what do you mean?" God, could I sound any more like a coward?
"You know perfectly well what I mean." Edward took another step toward me and I flinched when he reached out one of his hands, but he only bent down to pick up the book at my feet. For the first time since he entered the library our eye contact was broken and I felt like I could think more clearly. I looked away from him and glanced at the door that felt miles away.
Edward seemed to pick up on my train of thought because he laughed softly and said, "Don't even think about it."
"I wasn't," I replied quickly but I'd never been much of a liar. He wouldn't do anything, would he? I could feel my heart rate pick up at the thought of what would happen if I tried to run.
"Aren't you going to ask me about the pictures? About what my family and I are doing in pictures taken more than a century ago?" he asked carefully. He held the book in his arms as though it was a small child. He even stroked the leather spine reverently.
"Um..." I began but for some reason the words wouldn't come. Asking him about what I just read felt irrelevant somehow. Did I need to hear confirmation of my suspicions? Did I want to? "Is...Is that you and your parents?"
He waited a few seconds before answering. I snuck a look at him again and met his eyes once more. How strange that he suddenly no longer felt the need to hide his face. I wondered why the sudden change but didn't dare ask him.
"It is. What you just saw is the complete and utter truth. Carlisle, Esme and I were all alive in 1829. Though some of us have been around even longer than that," he replied. He might as well have been talking about the weather for how casual he sounded. I couldn't get over his abrupt change of character.
"Even longer? By how long?" I asked before I could stop myself. I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans as I waited for his response.
"Before I answer that, I want you to understand something. And I want an honest answer," he said. He walked around me and sat down beside me. The close proximity sent new tendrils of fear down my spine. I knew he had to be angry with me for seeing Carlisle's journal. I was waiting for the outburst I knew was coming and I didn't want to be within hitting range should he feel the need. But I didn't want to face his wrath should I get up and put some distance between us. So I reluctantly stayed where I was and faced the man I was no longer sure even was a man.
"If I tell you these things about me, that's it. There's no going back. No human ever hears the stories of our kind for very long and that's the way it has to stay. I can't risk you going off and telling the world about us. It's bad enough you know as much as you do already." He turned so that he was facing me completely and I felt the need to do the same. So I did and forced myself to look into his eyes again.
"Whatever hope you're still holding on to about reuniting with your father must go if I tell you about me. About us. Do you understand?"
I sucked in a breath as I tried to wrap my brain around what he'd just said. I stared at him for a moment even though I knew doing so might be the end of me. I knew he couldn't be so comfortable with me looking at him so freely. But I had to know if he was telling the truth.
"So you're saying that...if you tell me the truth about you I can never leave." The question comes out sounding like a statement. I hate how defeated I sound. Edward's nod of reply doesn't really surprise me. And somehow I know that he's telling the truth.
"Never, Bella. We have rules just as humans do. If you want to ever return to your father, I suggest you leave the library and forget everything you just saw," he replied bluntly.
"Do I have to answer right away?" I asked, surprising myself. Why was my answer anything other than yes? Yes, I should leave and never ask Edward another question ever again. Yes, I should do whatever it takes to get away from him and back to Charlie. But I found myself wanting to know his secrets and that realization scared me. I didn't want to ruin my life based on a rash decision.
Edward seemed to think about it. He stared at me with such a deep stare that I wondered if he was trying to read my mind. The thought unsettled me, especially since it might not be so farfetched after all. I squirmed uncomfortably while waiting for his answer.
"I suppose not," he finally said with an edge to his voice. "But do not try my patience, Isabella. This does not mean I will just tell you anything you want to know if you decide you want to know. There are limits to my generosity. So if you do not want answers today I suggest you leave the library and go to your room."
His tone signaled the end of our conversation. He stood up and motioned for me to do the same. I swallowed heavily as I turned to leave, forcing myself not to run from the room as fast as my feet could carry me.
It wasn't until I was back in my room, collapsed on my bed, that I realized I might have just blown the one chance I had of going home.
There had to be a way of finding Edward's secrets out without him knowing. Just because he might be immortal didn't mean he was all knowing. Esme told me he would be out for the rest of the afternoon so I took the opportunity to do a little digging.
As far as I knew Carlisle was away as well. Esme seemingly disappeared after lunch and I couldn't hear her anywhere. I didn't let myself hope that I was here alone. Esme had to be here somewhere. If she wasn't then Edward probably set some kind of trap for me.
I didn't want to think about what would happen if he found out I was still looking into it. Being the daughter of a police chief, I had the desire to find out as much as possible. I couldn't let a mystery sit around unsolved. Despite the warnings Edward had given me and the possible danger that awaited me on the other side, I had to know what he was hiding. What this whole family was hiding.
But it wasn't easy, as it turns out. The Cullens hid their secrets very well. It was a wonder I'd found Carlisle's journal in the library, though when I went back for it later that day I was unsurprised to find that it was no longer there. Edward must have moved it the second I'd left the library.
A sudden thought occurred to me and I chastised myself for not thinking of it sooner. It would require finding Esme since I didn't want to risk being caught searching her house with her unaware of it. Especially now when I didn't think she was human.
Finding her proved to be easy, however. She was in a large room on the first floor talking on a cell phone. She had her back to me and was facing a large window looking out at the front garden. I tried to make my steps as quiet as possible but she turned around as soon as I moved. I froze in place but all she did was offer a warm smile.
"I'll call you back," she said to whoever was on the other line and abruptly hung up. Her smile, if possible, grew even wider. "What can I do for you, Bella?"
"Um..." I really needed to get over this fear of Esme. Carlisle and Edward were one thing, but it seemed irrational to be afraid of a woman who could look at me as warmly as she did. "I was just wondering..."
"Yes?" she encouraged.
"Well...I was just wondering if you had a...a computer I could use," I muttered, averting my gaze to my feet.
Esme laughed. It wasn't a mocking laugh. It was soft and sounded both amused and relieved. "Yes, dear. You can use a computer any time you want." Then the smile disappeared slightly from her face as she took a deep look at me. It felt like she was trying to see right to the core of my being. "Did my son...did he not treat you well? While you were with him?"
The question took me off guard and for what felt like minutes I could only stand there staring at her. I wasn't sure what to make of her question. Edward didn't necessarily treat me horribly, but there were times when I'd been petrified by the very sight of him. There were times when I was still afraid of him, though I had to admit that the fear had lessened somewhat since coming here. But I wasn't sure if I could admit all that to Esme. She seemed to love her son and I didn't think she could stand to hear it if he was doing something to disappoint her somehow.
"It's all right, Bella." Esme saved me from having to answer, though she seemed to find all the answer she needed in my silence. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. There's a computer in my living room. I'll show you."
She stood up, her dress flowing in an elegant way that reminded me of a ballerina. She had such grace. I couldn't help the sudden jealousy that rose up and I did my best to suppress it.
I forced a smile as she walked by me to lead the way. I wanted to thank her but the words didn't want to come. Once again I silently berated myself for showing fear in front of her. Esme didn't warrant irrational fear, though to my mind apparently she did. I even stayed three steps away from her as she led me out of the room she was in and down the wide hallway to an open room at the very end.
This room-Esme's living room-was as beautiful as she was. The walls were painted a soft yellow that reminded me of afternoon sunlight. Several paintings depicting nature hung on the walls. On the farthest wall housed a giant bookcase with what appeared to be thousands of books stuffed on the shelves. I didn't see how there could be any more books after the treasure trove that was the Cullen library. There was a plush white sofa that was wide enough for four people to sit on comfortably, as well as a matching armchair, glass coffee table settled between them, a 72" plasma TV, and right underneath the window was a desk with a closed MacBook Pro.
Esme walked in and opened the MacBook for me. I hovered near the doorway, hardly able to believe to had been this easy. Did she not think I would use the internet to call attention to myself? I could always leave a message on Charlie's Facebook account. He hardly ever checked it, but at least he would know I was alive. Alice and Angela were on at least fifty times a day...
"Bella?" Esme's voice interrupted my reverie.
I looked up into her smiling face. When did this woman not smile? The computer was open and ready to use. She gestured for me to take a seat. I did so and when she did not leave immediately I became worried. Was she going to watch me in case I tried to make contact with my father? I hadn't thought of that before but it seemed like something Edward would make her do. I inwardly cursed my stupidity. How did I not see that coming?
She showed me briefly what all the symbols meant, as if I had never used a computer before. More than once I felt like interrupting her and telling her I knew all this already but I didn't want to appear rude. When she was finished I thanked her, and her golden eyes lit up.
"Any time. I want you to feel like a guest here, so if you ever want to come in here to use the computer, watch TV, or read, you can. And you don't have to ask. I want you to feel like this is a room you can come to whenever you want. Okay?" she asked. For what felt like the millionth time since meeting her, I couldn't believe this woman's kindness.
I nodded once and met her eyes. "Okay. Thanks."
She smiled once more and then, to my immense relief and surprise, she left me alone.
Immediately I had the internet up and debated what I wanted to do first. I was still curious about the Cullens but didn't want to pass this opportunity up. I quickly logged into my Facebook account and nearly cried out in relief when the familiar page opened.
The first thing I noticed were the trillions of messages from Alice and Angela demanding to know where I was. The comments grew more heated as they went, until the very last ones which bordered on hysterical mania.
Alice: WHERE THE F***KING HELL ARE U?
Angela: This isn't cool, you know? Why won't you answer your phone? Do you have ANY IDEA how worried we are?
There were plenty more of them and my guilt grew after reading each one. Like I could help getting kidnapped by a madman? Or whatever Edward Cullen was?
I quickly typed a plea for help to both my friends, assuring them I was okay but that my phone was mysteriously not working. I told them I was in Portland and to tell my dad if he didn't already know.
Then I typed a message on Charlie's page, which resembled my previous ones except they were more emotional. Neither of us really showed our affection for each other in the traditional father/daughter ways but I couldn't help the tears that flowed freely down my cheeks as I gave my father as detailed of an account as possible about what had happened since that fateful night.
Finally I pressed send and instant relief flowed through me. It felt like a thousand pound weight had just been lifted off my shoulders.
I didn't want to log off Facebook, mostly because I was hopeful I would get a reply back from someone. But none came. I had no idea how long I sat there but neither Angela, Alice, or Charlie logged on.
Then, just as I was about to log off, an IM appeared. It was from Alice.
Alice: Bella? Is that you?
Bella: Yeah, it's me.
Alice: Where have you been? Ang and I have been worried sick!
Bella: I know, and I'm sorry. I was kidnapped.
A long pause followed. Then she finally replied.
Alice: What do you mean kidnapped? By who? Where are you?!
Bella: I can't really explain it here right now. But I'm in Portland. Please tell my dad. I know he's gotta be out of his mind.
Alice: You're in Portland? Do you still have your cell phone? Maybe Charlie can track it or something. I've seen it on TV.
Bella: It probably won't work. It's been dead ever since...
Alice: But he's going to need more to go on. What's your kidnapper's name?
Bella: Edward Cullen. He brought me to his parents' house. Their names are Carlisle and Es
Suddenly my right shoulder was jerked painfully behind me, cutting me off mid-sentence. The person behind me tugged again, this time harder and I fell from the desk chair to the ground.
I winced and bit my lip to keep myself from crying out in pain. When I looked up I saw that Edward had taken his seat where I'd been previously and was quick in logging out of my Facebook page. I knew it was irrational and crazy to think, but I couldn't help but be surprised that he knew how. He'd never really struck me as technology-savvy.
"The next time I find you on this computer, I'll lock you in your room until we go back to Forks," Edward growled in a dangerously low voice.
"I DON'T CARE WHAT ESME SAID!" Edward roared, turning on me so fast his entire profile blurred.
I gasped and flinched away from him and winced when I put pressure on my now sore shoulder.
"You will not contact anyone from your old life again, Isabella. Do I make myself clear? NEVER!" Edward snapped. I saw intense fury in his eyes that I had never seen before. "You belong to me, Isabella. Don't ever forget that!"
He stood up, towering over me, and I was suddenly afraid that he would hit me. But he didn't. Instead he grabbed my arms and pulled me to my feet. I wobbled on my unsteady legs but thankfully did not crumple to the floor as I wanted to.
"Go to your room. I'll get you when it's time for dinner. And when I come get you, you better be there."
Then he pointed to the doorway as if I were a scolded child. Seeing no other option I turned around and started to make my way out of the living room. I didn't dare say or do anything that might trigger more of his anger. I didn't dare argue that Esme told me I could use the computer. I had a feeling that would only make things worse for me.
The walk up to my room was awkward and seemed to drag on forever. Edward followed me the whole way and kept his watchful eye on me until I had closed my bedroom door behind me. I half expected him to lock me in but he didn't. I didn't hear his retreating footsteps but assumed he'd left. I hoped he did.
I had no idea how long it would be until dinner was ready but I suddenly no longer felt any need to leave this room. Leaving this room would only get me in trouble and I didn't need to set Edward's anger off any more than I already did. I didn't need to give him any reason to think I was more trouble than I was worth and that killing me would be his best option.
I laid on the bed and expected the tears to come. But they didn't. All I could think about was the short conversation I'd had with Alice. She knew I was in Portland. She knew Edward's name and Carlisle's name. It would be enough for my dad to track down. With any luck he'd be here by tomorrow morning.
I smiled to myself as I pictured our reunion. It would be tearful and emotional but we'd forgive ourselves for it. Charlie would arrest Edward and Carlisle and I would be back in Forks as if nothing had ever happened.
I didn't really believe it, but I couldn't let go of the hope it filled inside of me.