A/N: Okay, so I'm (LisaDawn75) totally sorry for the delay in this chapter. Gem and I had it finished a couple of weeks ago, but I had just started a new job and was not feeling up to going back through it (looooong story). So, the delay is all my fault, and hopefully, the next chapter will be up soon. Thanks to everyone who has reviewed and alerted! You guys are awesome!
Disclaimer: We own nothing related to Twilight except some books and movies. Everything else belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
It took all of Bella's strength to turn her truck around and head home through the pouring rain. Her eyes kept shifting to the rearview mirror until the white house vanished from her sight – always in the hope that Edward would once again return to her. He didn't, however, and Bella finally made it back to her empty home.
For almost a whole day, she did not move from her place on the couch. She didn't watch the television or listen to the radio, and she kept her cell phone plugged in, just in case Edward was to call her. She did not get any calls – apart from the school, once again. Bella told them that she was sick – far too sick to come into work. She knew that they were getting tired of her excuses, but she didn't care what they thought. They didn't understand what she was going through. They clearly didn't know what it was like to love something so much and then have it suddenly ripped away with no sign or notice.
The bread on the kitchen counter was stale, and the milk in the refrigerator had turned sour a few days before. Bella was fine with water. Although she knew that Edward would want her to eat, there was no way in hell that she could bring herself to even think about food.
Why wouldn't he take me with him? she thought. He even looked as though he was considering it for a little while, and then he ran off. He'd disappeared from her sight so fast that she'd not even gotten the chance to say goodbye. She had begged and pleaded with him to stay with her; she'd promised him that she didn't care what happened, just as long as they were together. Then he'd kissed her and left.
Kissing Edward had always been one of Bella's favorite things to do. The way his lips used to feel, warm, wet, and soft, pressed to hers had been something close to perfection. She used to think she'd never tire of kissing him. But when the new Edward kissed her, something had happened. A spark was lit between them which felt, to Bella, even more intense than before. Her lips and face, where he'd touched her, had tingled for hours afterwards, and she was almost hungry for his sweet scent and taste. It was like nothing she'd ever experienced. It was as if her feelings and sheer need for Edward had increased tenfold.
But she had begged him to take her – and he didn't. Bella wasn't sure what to make of it. When he'd shown up at the house, she was certain that he'd be back in her life for good, yet he gone as quickly as he'd arrived. And it had been twenty-one hours and sixteen minutes since he'd left her in the downpour. She'd not changed out of the clothes she had been wearing in fear that it would cause Edward to leave her further. Although they were now obviously dry from the rain, and they were not very comfortable, Bella was certain she could smell Edward all over her. She didn't want to lose that.
In Seattle, Edward sat as still as stone... just waiting. He hated himself for leaving Bella the way he did and detested himself even more so for not looking back as he ran from her. He smelled her salty tears even when he was a mile away from her. Her sobs sent shivers down his spine and tortured his mind. When he closed his eyes, the sounds of his love's sorrow tormented him.
He needed it to be over. He said the same silent prayer over and over, hoping that perhaps God would take pity on him, even though he was no longer one of his creations. Perhaps he'd take Bella and her feelings into consideration and hear him.
He wanted Emmett's plan to work. Alice had left several minutes before, and Edward knew that within an hour, she'd be in his true home, with Bella. The plan was that Alice would come back to their hideout in the city with items which belonged to Bella. They hoped that with Bella's scent all over them, Edward could use them to desensitize himself. It had to work. It just had to. He would work his hardest. Being around Bella at the Cullen house hadn't been terrible – and as delicious as she'd smelled to him, there was a part of him that knew he could not... no... did not want to hurt her in anyway. The burn in his throat had been immense, and the sound of her heartbeat caused his own body to thrum along in time – as though her body was in tune with his perfectly – and singing to him.
I think I can, I think I can, Edward thought, just like The Little Engine That Could. He closed his eyes and tried to fight the image of his precious Isabella on her knees, her arms wrapped around her chest as she sobbed. He tried to replace it with Bella from happier times – when her smile would light up a room. I know I can, I know I can.
Bella's cell rang loudly which caused her to jump slightly and grabbed it with both hands, looking at the illuminated screen. Charlie. She hit ignore. She didn't want to deal with her father again. She knew that he meant well and that he was only checking up on her, but she didn't want to talk to anyone at that moment.
She waited with baited breath for him to try her again or call her on the landline, but she continued to wait.
Bella wasn't sure how long she sat there, but she was startled when the doorbell rang.
Charlie... dammit, she thought; she wished that everyone would just leave her alone. She contemplated just sitting on the couch and ignoring the door, but the persistent ringing wouldn't stop. She whipped her blanket off and grumbled all the way to the door.
"I'm coming," she yelled, hoping her father would stop ringing the damn bell.
Through the frosted glass, she could see that it certainly was not her father standing on the other side.
Who the hell? Bella wondered, seeing a small woman with dark, spiky hair. Please, not a sales call. She opened the door. "Can I help you?" she asked coldly. She was pulled out of her cocoon for this?
The tiny female on her doorstep smiled widely at her ad began bouncing on the heels of her feet. "Hi, Bella!" she said energetically.
"H-how do you know my name?" Bella blurted out.
The small woman just grinned at her, bright white teeth shining. Her eyes were a strange golden-butterscotch color. "I'm Alice!" she announced.
"Do I know you?"
"Not yet, but you will," she said cryptically.
Bella frowned, not understanding.
"Edward sent me."
Bella felt as if she'd been punched in the stomach. "You know Edward?" she whispered.
Alice nodded. "Yes, he lives with us now. He sent me here to help."
"How are you going to help us?" Bella asked, confused. "Where is Edward?"
Alice glided past Bella into the house. She reminded Bella of a ballerina, although Alice moved with a grace that would put most ballerinas to shame. She stared at Alice, feeling her mouth drop open at Alice's comfort level around her.
Alice giggled. "He's at home in Seattle, moping."
"Sounds like him," Bella muttered. "So, are you a... a...?" Bella couldn't make the word escape her mouth.
"Yep, I'm a vampire, just like Edward is now," she said lightly. She didn't seem to have any problem with the word. "I'm actually the one that changed him," she added quietly.
"Y-you?" Bella whispered.
Suddenly, Alice became serious. "Yes, I did but only to save him. I would never have done it if there had been another way."
"What happened to him?" Bella asked.
Alice chewed on her lip for a moment and looked as though she were contemplating something. "He... he had an accident, Bella. He was walking in the woods, and he tripped and fell."
Bella still did not understand what in the hell Edward had been doing deep in the woods, all alone.
"He was so close to death... the only thing I could do was to save him – to make him like me and my family. I saw something in him. Something special. I saw you, too, Bella. I can still see you now, you and Edward, our family.
"See me doing what?" Bella asked, still confused. "Why was he out there anyway?"
"Bella, maybe you should sit down," Alice suggested, picking up on her increased heart rate and respirations.
Bella nodded numbly and stumbled back to the couch. She picked up her blanket and wound it around her body, almost as protection. "Alice? Tell me what you know. Please?"
Of course, Alice knew the real reason as to what Edward had been doing in the forest all alone. She knew that he had been looking for the perfect spot to ask Bella to marry him. Obviously, Bella wasn't aware of this, and Alice didn't even know how deep that the couple had discussed their future, so she had to get a way around not telling her the truth but without lying to the poor girl.
"Well, there are some things that Edward needs to tell you, but I found him – smelled him – out in the forest. He had fallen and was in such bad shape that I knew he would die before I was able to get help for him. And I had a vision; I have these visions, see, about the future, and I saw Edward as part of our family. So, I had to change him. I'd never done it before, but I just couldn't leave him there."
Bella blinked several times. Visions... "Like, you can see the future?" she asked as she tried to get her head around everything. "Like Edward can hear thoughts, you can see the future?"
Alice nodded. "Yes. They change, depending on what people decide, so if I had decided not to change Edward, I wouldn't have seen him with our family. But I also saw you..."
"Me?" Bella asked, surprise in her voice. Was Alice here to change her into a vampire, too? She might as well, as Bella already felt like the walking dead. If it meant she could be with Edward again, she'd gladly let Alice do... whatever she needed to do. "Are you here to change me?"
Alice looked taken aback. "What? Why would you think that?"
Bella hung her head. "You said you were here to help us. I thought that maybe you were going to change me, so Edward and I could be together again. H-he told me how painful it was for him to be around me – how it made his throat burn. How else could we be together?"
Alice patted her hand softly, and Bella was shocked at how cold and hard her skin felt. It just made the situation all the more real. "Did he tell you what he's been doing? That will also make it harder for him."
Bella shook her head. "No, he just said that he was living with your family."
Alice was unsure how much Edward wanted her to tell Bella. If she told her that he'd been feeding on humans in Seattle, would that push Bella over the edge?
Bella was scrutinizing Alice's face closely. "I can see how the two of you are alike, but your eyes… His were bright red and yours are more gold. Why is that?" she asked, shuddering at the memory of Edward in the clearing, his crimson eyes burning holes through her.
Alice stilled. She decided to just tell a partial truth. "Mine are this color because I feed only on animals. But at the beginning, the eyes are red because the person's blood remains in their body until it's all absorbed."
"So, Edward's eyes will turn to that color?" she asked, feeling relieved. She had to admit to herself that the red eyes freaked her out a bit. But the thought of never seeing those beautiful, emerald green eyes was almost painful and threatened to rip her open yet again.
"Yes, if he sticks to what we call our vegetarian diet," Alice alluded.
"You said you were here to help us. If you're not here to change me, then what else can I do to be with Edward again?"
"Well, we've talked about it. Edward is miserable without you, by the way."
Bella felt her eyes well up with tears. "I'm the same way," she whispered. "I feel as if I've been torn in two and not put back together correctly." She wasn't sure why, but she was sharing more with Alice than she'd ever shared with anyone since Edward's disappearance.
Alice nodded sympathetically.
She took a deep, shuddering breath. "What do I need to do?"
Alice smiled brightly. "I have a plan... well, actually, my brother, Emmett, had the plan – which is a miracle in itself because he never has plans... but I'm babbling... I'll get straight to the point."
Bella waited, trying to keep calm. She didn't want to piss off a clearly very highly strung vampire.
"Well, it could take some time, but I am convinced that it will work. I've seen the two of you happy and together again. The idea is that we will get Edward used to your scent. Your blood sings to him, Bella. He needs to be around you more to de-sensitize... but without being around you to start with."
Bella nodded. "So, how can I help?"
"I need to take something – or a number of things of yours – back to the house, something highly scented. That sweater, for example, is perfect. And perhaps your towel? Something that's not been washed too recently. Can you do that?"
Bella unzipped her hoodie and handed it over. She sniffed it and scrunched her nose up. It did smell rather funky.
Alice giggled. "To Edward, you would smell very good like that. Your scent is more enhanced. He won't find it disgusting, I promise."
Bella blushed and nodded.
"Why don't you go ahead and wrap it up in a bag; that way I won't get too much of my scent on it. What else do you have?"
"I have a towel; it might be damp... is that…?"
Bella thought for a moment. "How about my pillow? Would that work?"
Alice made her jump when she began to jump up and down on the spot and clapped her hands. "Bella, that is a genius idea! Why didn't I think of that?"
Bella bit her lip and blushed again. "I'll just... go grab that... then." She made her way carefully up the stairs, trying not to trip. She retrieved her own pillow and put it into her messenger bag, along with the old towel from the bathroom. Alice was standing patiently, waiting for her. Bella handed the bag over to the petite vampire.
Alice shrugged her shoulders sadly. "That, I can't see. But I know it will happen. This will work, Bella. Trust me."