Twilight belongs to SMeyer
Thank you to ScarlettLetters and Spanglemaker9 for pre-reading, letting me know that I wasn't insane.
Also, much love to Cher for taking the time out of her busy schedule to beta this for me!
I hated having to take the back road to walk home from school as it meant that I had to pass the creepy Cullen Estate along the way. It always gave me the willies with its tall, imposing stone walls that reminded me of something out of a ghost story.
The recent storms in the area had left large pools of muddy water on the main roads into town, making it dangerous to travel by foot, carriage, or those new motorcars. Father told me that morning to take the longer route as it was drying out and posed less of a threat for getting hurt along the way to school.
In the morning it was fine as some of the other students walked with me, but in the afternoon I stayed behind to finish my math equations, so I was on my own to walk back to the main part of town.
The dirt and grass-flattened road had dried some more since the morning. The sky was turning back to a clear blue, and the birds were becoming more vocal as they returned to their daily lives. I took some comfort in their song as I rounded the path, leaving the safety of the schoolhouse.
As I neared the first corner of the vine-infested wall, I started to whistle along with the birds, hoping to scare off the scary thoughts in my head. Stories from childhood tried to wiggle their way into my head, most of them in the tone of Michael Newton's voice as he tried to scare us during lunch with tales about what lived behind those walls.
I countered with Father's words of the Cullen family being private people. That he had met them a few times in the general store or assisted with large deliveries to their estate. Feeling relieved, I started whistling again, walking swiftly along the road lined with trees on one side and the high wall on the other. My fear lessened as the last of the wall loomed ahead and the road meandered away from the unnaturally quiet area.
Sighing with relief, I practically skipped to the end but was caught up short when I heard a new sound. I froze where I stood, not sure what I was hearing, as it didn't sound like a bird.
The odd warbling noise was like nothing I had ever heard. It sounded as if it was coming from the vines. Without thinking, I stepped closer to the wall, pressing my ear to it, trying to get a better listen.
The noise suddenly stopped and everything went still again until I heard a masculine voice from above me.
Startled, I stepped back and looked up to find a young man sitting along the top of the wall watching me.
I stepped onto the road, backing away slowly, suddenly feeling how alone I was in the woods with the sudden appearance of the man.
The man jumped down on my side of the wall but stayed next to it, holding out an entreating hand towards me. "It's alright. I didn't mean to scare you, Miss."
I was able to get a better look at him and wasn't sure if what I was feeling was fear or awe at his appearance. He was very handsome, more so than any man I had ever met, including cousin Rose's husband Emmett. His hair had flecks of gold woven in with shades of auburn and copper, eyes that matched the green of the forest surrounding us, and a lean but muscular frame that spoke of strength.
"Please let me introduce myself. My name is Edward Cullen. May I have the pleasure of knowing your name?" he asked formally as he bowed at the waist, a smile playing at his lips.
Stunned, I stood rooted to the road unable to decide what to do.
Do I run? Father was adamant about not talking to strangers…but he's a Cullen. I had always wanted to meet one of them. I hadn't heard anything bad about them.
"Cat got your tongue?" Edward teased with a bewitching smile.
"I-I…" I started but was interrupted by hearing my name being called. I twisted around to see Michael Newton running along the road from town, bull-like in motion.
"Bella! Your father asked me to find you and escort you home," Michael said, slightly out of breath as he came to a stop next to me.
"Bella…" I heard Edward say reverently, catching both my and Michael's attention.
"Who are you?" Michael demanded harshly, pushing me behind him and puffing out his chest in his attempt to intimidate Edward. Michael was shorter in height, but he was much stockier and solid. I'd seen him in a fight when we were younger and knew how quick his temper was, not to mention how readily he would use his fists rather than reason.
A chill ran through me, feeling fear for my new acquaintance.
"Michael, it's nothing. Let's go back to town-" I cajoled in the most calming voice I could manage, trying not to give in to the dread I felt.
"I asked, who are you?" Michael repeated, moving closer to Edward.
"My name is Edward," he said without an ounce of fear, staring back at the shorter man.
"Edward? Well, Edward, what are you doing talking to my girl?" Michael demanded, now standing only two steps away from him with hands on his hips, fingers curling into fists.
Edward glanced at me at this news, asking me silently if it was true, but I was too scared to answer. I didn't want to see him hurt.
"Don't you look at her!" Michael yelled, now leaning forward with his face barely inches away from Edward's.
"No Michael. Please don't-" I pleaded.
"Shut up, I'm taking care of this!" Michael's fury flew at me briefly before he centered it back on Edward once again.
I looked to Edward, astonished by Michael's behavior.
"What are you dumb? Didn't I say not to look to her?" Michael yelled as he reached for Edward, grabbing his shoulders, and then slammed him against the stone wall.
"NO!" I screamed racing forward to try to intervene somehow, but what I saw next stopped me.
Edward placed his hands on Michael's face and pushed back. Michael shouted in agony and fell onto the road grabbing at his face.
I looked up at Edward to see his expression of shock as he watched Michael writhing in pain on the dirt road. His eyes slowly met mine as he noticed me watching him. They spoke of regret and longing. He whispered my name and then climbed back over the wall.
Was this a dream?
As if awakening from a deep sleep, I shook my head and looked down at Michael, who was still on the road, covering his hands with his face as his hollering settled into moans of deep pain. I knelt beside him, disregarding the possible ruin of my skirts and Mother's wrath, and tried to help him the best I could.
"Michael, let me see," I gently requested, taking hold of his wrists and trying to pry them away from his face. It took me a few tries, but when I did, I wasn't prepared for what I found.
Angry red burns with large blisters covered Michael's face and up into his hairline in the shape of two hand prints.
This will be a short story. Something I had to get out of my head or go mad.
If you haven't heard, Spanglemaker9 started her new story called It Happened One Night.