Her voice was mousy, shy. She hated it. She hated it because she knew that whatever followed her opening interrogative would result in something negative. It would also end up being Rosalie's fault, whatever 'it' was. Not that Rosalie wasn't willing to take the fall for something she did wrong, she just might not be happy about it. Bella had a way of pointing out her faults, intentionally or not, and Rosalie was not one to be faulted often. She supposed that was something she'd just have to get used to. Not that she minded all that much since Bella was involved.
"Yes?" she asked, turning around and facing the brunette.
Bella had fallen behind and was staring downward at the sand, watching as she buried her toes under it, only to have the waves carry it away. It was a windy, rainy day and they had decided to take a trip to Seattle again. Much to Rosalie's surprise, Bella had allowed her to take her out for more than a hotdog for lunch and they spent hours browsing the antique bookstore and a few other shops, though nothing piqued their fancy this time.
Rosalie couldn't deny that Bella looked beautiful, standing there in that strained reserve, with the wind blowing against her reddened cheeks. Bella's cheeks were also glistening with rain. At least, Rosalie prayed that it was rain. In three long strides Rosalie was next to Bella's side again and she laid their shoes on the ground, bringing her free hands up to grasp at the human's shoulders.
"What's wrong?" she asked Bella as their eyes met.
Bella sniffed and shrugged, looking out to the waves. Rosalie decided to wait on saying anything, as she could see Bella's mind toiling behind her eyes. Instead of speaking, she decided to brace herself for whatever Bella was about to say. No doubt it wasn't going to be pleasant, for Bella was never very good at hiding her emotions. And the poor girl looked as if she wanted to go cliff diving at the moment. Rosalie looked around, noting that the part of the beach they were currently occupying was scattered with only a handful of people so far away that they probably looked like specks to Bella. At least she wouldn't have to worry about either of them making a scene. They probably wouldn't be heard over the weather.
"I…I know that we agreed that you needed time. And, really, I'm okay with that," Bella began, lowering her head to the raging wind and rain that had started to increased.
Rosalie side stepped to where she was blocking Bella as best as she could from the weather and Bella lifted her head, smiling just a bit, although it was somber.
"But…it's been a few months now. I—we've skipped our first semester of college to get closer and I guess I just wanted some rea—
Bella's voice broke off and Rosalie watched her eyes focus on something in the distance. There was fear in Bella's eyes and instinctively Rosalie felt a low growl emanating from her chest as she followed the human's eyes to see a flash of red. The growl grew louder as Rosalie stepped in front of Bella, refusing to let her rage become irrational. Her sharp eyes locked onto the red and as a woman came into focus, it took only one glance for Rosalie to realize that this woman was just another face in the crowd, not the particular one the Cullens and Bella were after. The one they had defeated long ago, with a swift strike and a roll of the head.
"It's not Victoria," Rosalie said calmly. "Victoria's dead." Rosalie took a deep breath and closed herself for a moment, ashamed that she had to remind herself of that fact.
Bella's breathing didn't seem to relax and Rosalie turned quickly.
The air left Rosalie's body and she felt her insides starting to shake, as if any moment they would break apart and she would be washed out to see. She imagined herself being carried away by the waves, immobile, with Bella standing on the shore, watching apathetically as she disappeared in the fog. Taking a regretful step back, Rosalie stared at Bella, waiting for what she seemed was the inevitable 'talk.'
She had failed. She had failed herself and she had failed Bella. All that she had wanted was for Bella not to be afraid. And that flinch had said more than any words or even Bella's eyes could. It was all coming into place now. Rosalie closed her eyes and wondered if she would be able to weasel Edward's location out of her family, for Bella would no doubt want to see him again and tell him of her harrowing tales with one of the most beautiful and feared vampires in the world. Bella continued to stay silent and Rosalie found that she couldn't take it anymore.
"I'm sorry, Bella. I don't know what else to say."
"You were growling. And I thought for sure that it was Victoria, since you were so…"
Bella lowered her head and Rosalie nodded. "You still think I'm frightening after all this time."
"It's not that, Rosalie."
"Then what is it?"
Bella's chin began to quiver and Rosalie could see her eyes beginning to redden. She was two steps away from crying and she was doing nothing but furthering her pain. However, despite this, Rosalie was not going to leave Bella's side. She was going to stick by her until Bella herself told her that she wasn't needed. Only then would she leave. Bella deserved better than assumptions.
Tentatively, Rosalie outstretched her hand to see if Bella would take it. For a moment Bella didn't see it, but the moment her eyes saw that sculpted palm reaching out for her, she fell forward into Rosalie's chest and collapsed. The vampire was all too quick to catch her and hold her in place, closing her eyes as she reveled in Bella's touch for what may be the last time.
"I—I saw you turn and growl. And I thought for sure that Victoria, or someone, was back. And I thought we were outnumbered. And I thought of losing you and by the time you turned around to tell me there was no one there, I thought you were gone. In my head I…I don't know."
"I will never leave you, Bella."
"Not intentionally. But…if we were outnumbered, or if you got distracted or—
Rosalie held Bella tighter, trying to hide the smile from her face. "That's not going to happen, Bella."
"How do you know?"
"Because it's simple. I protect the people I love. And no one really can get in the way of that, can they?"
She heard Bella inhale, as if she was about to give a response, then her body went rigid with revelation. Bella lifted her head and eyed Rosalie unsurely. The vampire lifted her eyebrows, waiting for Bella to come to terms. It took her a moment to finally be confident with her finding, but once she was, she smiled.
"Hey…" she half whined, narrowing her eyes at Rosalie. "You thought you were being clever, didn't you?"
"I thought it was very clever. It took you a moment to grasp, didn't it?"
"Because I was shocked."
"Yeah, sure," Bella laughed, before straightening up to kiss Rosalie sweetly.
"So, what now?" Bella asked as she pulled away.
"That's entirely up to you," Rosalie said simply, with hard eyes that meant she was extremely grounded in that decision.
"You mean you don't get a say in the matter at all?"
"No. You've dealt with me for this long. Now it's all about you." Rosalie lifted Bella's hand and kissed it softly, bringing her fingers to press along Bella's artery. "And I'm serious."
Bella's eyes widened and she looked from her wrist to Rosalie's eyes, and found no lies in either of them. This was it. Bella was getting the chance to make the decision she had always wanted. She smiled at Rosalie, who returned it easily and squeezed her hand. Bella then closed her eyes and thought for a moment. It was quiet then except for the weather. Rosalie watched Bella intently, more than willing to do what Bella was most likely going to ask of her but also thinking about whatever else Bella was going to choose. Rosalie almost chuckled to herself. She was planning out her life. Now eight plus years old, she was planning out her life.
Bella's eyes opened and she greeted Rosalie with a smile, who returned it.
"You know, you were telling me about how beautiful Dartmouth looked in the fall…. Perhaps we could take this entire year off, and see how school suits me."
Rosalie looked thoroughly surprised and Bella couldn't contain her chuckle.
"You're absolutely certain?" Rosalie inquired, as she began leading Bella down the beach back towards her car.
"For the moment I am. Besides, it'll be an interesting character study of one another, don't you think?" Bella answered as she wrapped her arms around Rosalie, squeezing her tightly.
"It'll be something to say the least."
"I love you."
"I love you, too. But don't push it."