"Ouch. Paper cut," I said quietly to Edward while I stared at my bleeding finger. A drop of blood fell onto to carpet.
I looked up and saw Jasper on the other side of the room, his expression thirsty.
Then, before I could think of this, Edward pushed me. I flew through the air and landed on a table, cutting my arm. I winced at the stinging pain as I rolled off of it.
"Jaz, Jaz, shh! It's okay. It's only a little..." Alice was saying to Jasper, who was being held back by Emmett and Carlisle.
There was a pause before she whispered, "...blood."
All of the Cullens, except Carlisle, turned to me and stared at my now bloody arm. Their eyes were turning black. I gazed at them in fear. This was the second time I was really afraid of vampires.
Edward and his family-well, mainly Alice-had thrown a party for me to celebrate my eighteenth birthday. I didn't want them to, but I eventually agreed. It's hard to resist Alice. All had gone well...until now.
"Get Jasper out of here," Carlisle murmured. The next thing I knew, he was by my side, inspecting my arm. He looked up. "Emmett, do as I say please."
Emmett pulled Jasper out of the house. Esme and Rosalie followed.
Alice tried to stay, but my blood was too tempting. "I'm sorry, Bella. I-I can't," she said, leaving.
Carlisle glanced at Edward, "Check on Jasper. I know he feels bad about himself and he'll only listen to you."
Edward didn't move.
"Go Edward. Please," Carlisle said firmly.
Edward sighed, then left.
Carlisle helped me stand up. "Come on, Bella. I'll stitch your arm up in my office."
We walked upstairs to a small room with paintings on almost every wall except one with a bookcase.
After gathering his medical tools, Carlisle wiped the blood from my arm. Then he started to pull out the glass. I held onto his arm.
"I never wanted to have a party," I murmured.
"It's not your fault," Carlisle assured.
I looked up at him. His face was so calm, as if the smell of the blood didn't bother him. "How do you do it? I mean, how can you resist the smell?" I asked in awe.
His gold eyes looked into my brown ones. I felt a strange surge of electricity tingle through me. My face grew hot.
"Years and years of practice," he replied, smiling. He gazed at me lingeringly; I was sure he noticed that my face was as red as a tomato.
I looked at his arm again in embarrassment, even though I wanting to keep staring at his sweet, gentle face and warm, honeyed eyes. Wait. What am I thinking? I said to myself.
"Do you ever think of doing it the easy way?" I asked.
"No," Carlisle said. "I always wanted to be a doctor and to help people. It brings me happiness, even if I am damned regardless."
This statement shocked me enough to look at him again. "Damned? Like hell? Carlisle, you couldn't be. You and your family aren't like other vampires I know. You kill animals instead of humans, which is better. All of you are more generous than you think."
Smiling again, Carlisle stroked my cheek. "Thank you, Bella. That means a lot to me to hear you say that," he whispered.
I smiled back, and before I knew what I was doing, I nestled my face into his palm and closed my eyes. His hands were cold, but soft.
Carlisle rubbed my face with his thumb. "Isabella," he hissed. "You are so beautiful."
When I opened my eyes, I saw that Carlisle had moved closer. Our noses were practically touching. His eyes were black, but it wasn't from hunger. It was from desire.
As I took note of this, he closed the space between us and placed his lips on mine in a burning, passionate kiss. Never had Edward kissed me this way. He was always careful to the point of annoyance.
I found myself kissing Carlisle back, wrapping my arms around his neck. He smiled against my lips and ran his tongue along the bottom one, asking for entrance. I parted them to let him in. God, he tasted so good I just had to have more of him!
Minutes later, we broke apart, and I gasped.
I shouldn't have done that. I was with Edward, and I shouldn't be kissing his father. Plus, Carlisle was married to Esme. What have we done? I thought.
Carlisle's expression was unreadable. It was hard to tell if he felt as guilty as I did or not.
I cleared my throat. "We shouldn't do that again," I said quietly.
"You're right. It was wrong," Carlisle agreed as he started to stitch up my arm.
He finished a few minutes later. He burned the cloths that had my blood on it and cleaned his tools.
When we got downstairs, everyone except Edward and Jasper was in the house.
Emmett looked up. "Edward's waiting for you outside. He said he's going to take you home."
"Okay. Bye, guys," I said.
"Good-bye, Bella," everybody said. Alice and Esme came over to hug me.
When I was outside, I saw Edward standing next to my truck. He looked sullen and upset.
The ride home was silent. I didn't know what to say to start a good conversation. It felt as if the truth would come out if I opened my mouth.
When we stopped in front of my house, I murmured, "You can't always keep me safe as long as I'm human. It would be best if I was changed."
Edward said nothing. He didn't want me to be changed, even though I begged him to many times since my encounter with James.
"I'm not going to change you," he whispered. "It would be better to have a natural human life."
I groaned in irritation as Edward got out of the car and walked around to open the door for me.
He was about to walk me to my house when I stopped him. "Hey. It's still my birthday. There is one thing you can give me."
Edward grimaced, then captured my lips.
The kiss was just like the others he gave me, except that the love that was in them was gone. Guilty from earlier and desperate, I deepened it, wanting to feel that old spark. Edward groaned and backed away.
"Let's go," he said, walking me to my front door. "Well...good-bye, Bella."
"See you," I replied. I opened the door and went to the living room to check on Charlie. He was watching tv. "Hey, dad. I'm home."
"Hey, Bella. How was the party?" he asked.
"Fine. I'm tired, so I'm gonna go to bed."
"Alright. Good-night, Bells."
I wasn't really tired, but I wanted to be alone without being disturbed.
I needed to think.
After Bella left, I went back to my office. I sat down at my desk and put my face in my hands. A mixture of emotions flowed through me.
While I did not regret kissing Bella, I felt guilty for the trouble and hurt I will cause for Esme and Edward. I also felt angry that I did not regret kissing Bella when I should. Then I was fearful because I've done something that they wouldn't forgive me for.
I stayed like this for fifteen minutes until I heard Edward come in the room. I didn't have to look up to know it was him or how angry he was. His fury rolled off him like waves.
"How could you?" he demanded through clenched teeth. "How could you do this to me? I could taste you on her."
I looked up and faced him. "Edward, I am truly sorry. I was wrong for what I did and I understand that you are upset with me. You have every right to be."
"You're damn right you were wrong. What about Esme? How could you do this to her? Your own mate?" Edward snarled.
"Do you think I haven't thought of that?" I asked him.
Edward scoffed. "Not until you had your lips off Bella, you didn't. Your thoughts were pretty loud. Now Esme knows. I told her everything."
"Then I shall apologize to her."
I turned and left the room. Esme was in the kitchen staring out of the window. Her reflection did not show any emotion, but that did not mean she wasn't feeling any.
"Esme...I know that you know what happened. I want to apologize for any hurt I have caused you. I meant no disrespect towards you at all in my actions."
My wife looked at me. "I know, Carlisle. I appreciate your honesty." She smiled. "It also seems that your heart may belong to Bella, and that's fine. Alice told me it might."
I was shocked at this news. "She told you that?" I breathed.
"Yes. That's why I'm not angry," Esme replied.
I called Alice and she was in the room immediately. "Are you sure?" I asked her.
She nodded. "I had visions of you and Bella together."
"Yes, but it's not going to happen," Edward said loudly as he walked in. "So we'll have to leave Forks. We're going to live with Tanya's family."
I glared at him softly. "We are not going to do this," I said firmly. "We don't have to leave."
"Yes, we do. It's not safe for us to be around Bella. Jasper could have killed her tonight. It is better to keep away from her. Besides that, you have feelings for her. It'll be better to leave here and lose them. People would talk if they saw you two together. For goodness' sake, you're much older than Bella, and you're married!"
"I know, but I'm not going anywhere. If you want to go, however, I will not stop you," I stated.
Edward scowled. "Why won't you come with us?"
"Because I like my job here, and I don't want to leave yet. Not until I have to. Besides, we can't just leave Bella. She loves us, and it will devastate her if we go. She'll blame everything on herself."
"That's enough, Edward. I do not wish to argue with you. As I've said, you can go if you want. I won't get in your way."
Edward stared at me for a few moments, then sighed. "Fine. The rest of us will go. We'll pack and leave in a few days," he murmured. After that, he left the room.
Alice stood in front of me. "I'm not upset with you for staying. It'll be for the best. That's why Edward is furious," she squeezed my shoulder and followed Edward.
I was left with Esme. After gazing at her for a while, she placed a hand on my arm. "It's okay. I understand. I know that you would never hurt Bella. You'll do right by her. I know you will."
I stroked her cheek. "Esme..." I whispered.
"I know, Carlisle. I know," she said, gently removing my hand. "I love you too. I always will, even though my love has changed."
Nodding, I murmured, "I just hope we'll remain on good terms."
Esme smiled a little. "Of course, we can. I'm not angry with you, remember?" she asked. "Well, I'd better get ready." She ambled out of the kitchen.
I just stood there. What else was there to say?
When I went to school the next day, Edward and the others weren't there. This was strange because it was cloudy outside, and they were only absent on sunny days. Maybe they want to stay away from me because of what happened last night, I thought.
It was a busy day, what with all of my classes, so I didn't have much time to think about it.
I waited until it was almost time for bed to call Edward. There was no answer, so I called a few more times. I even called Alice, but she didn't pick up either. Feeling more guilty, I decided to just go to bed.
The next day, there was still no sign of them. I was beginning to get worried. I hope nothing happened to them.
On the third day, they didn't show up either. I decided to stop by their house after I went home and grabbed something to eat. I was hungry.
To my surprise, I saw Edward in front of my house as I pulled up in the driveway. "Hey," I said as I stepped out of my truck.
"Let's go for a walk," Edward mumbled, gesturing towards the forest.
I followed him, wondering what was up.
We only walked a few yards before stopping in a clearing. Edward turned to me. "We have to leave Forks. We're moving to Alaska again. We won't be coming back."
I was confused. "Why?" I asked, fear boiling in my stomach.
Edward was silent before he replied, "It's not safe for us to be here. People will start asking questions about us soon. Only Carlisle will be staying a while longer to continue working here as a doctor."
"Okay. I have to think of what I'll tell Charlie," I said.
Edward made a face, as if something made him uncomfortable. Something clicked in my brain.
"When you say 'we'..." I said.
Edward shifted. "I mean my family and myself except you and Carlisle."
Something was wrong. I could feel it; he said "you and Carlisle" like it was a curse. "Edward, are you angry with Carlisle about something?" I asked him.
"Yes. I'm upset with him because he won't come with us. I told him that it would be best if he did, but he refused," he replied shortly.
I knew there was something else, but I didn't bring it up. My guilt would give everything away.
"Why are you leaving Forks then, if he's staying?" I asked.
"Because of what happened at the party."
"But you shouldn't leave because of that. It was an accident."
"Yes, we should. That party showed us how dangerous it is for you to be around us."
"Well, if you leave, then I'm going with you."
"No. I don't want you to."
His words struck me like a bullet. "But Edward, don't you care for me?"
Edward stared at me. "No. I never really did."
I could not believe what he was saying. I could literally feel my heart breaking with anguish and shame. Tears welled up in my eyes.
"But," Edward said. "I need you to promise me something."
I stayed silent. I didn't even look at him.
"Try not to do anything reckless, please," he continued. He stepped over to me and kissed my forehead. "Good-bye, Bella. Have a happy life."
I sniffed as he said this, but when I looked up, he was gone.
"Edward?" I whispered.
"Edward?" I called in a louder voice.
"Edward!" I yelled.
Numbly, I turned around and walked blindly back to the house, up the stairs, to my room. I didn't even take off my coat. I just laid down and gazed at the wall for hours until I fell asleep.
I was back in the clearing again, only this time it was darker. Edward was there, just sitting with me as we talked and laughed.
Suddenly, Edward stood up. "I have to go, Bella. Take care of yourself."
The darkness began to swallow him as I reached for his hand.
"Edward, don't leave me!" I yelled. But it was too late.
He was gone.
"No!" I screamed, waking up in a cold sweat. I rolled over and looked around. I was still in my room. I expected Edward to be there as always, but then the days events crashed down on me and I melted into tears. It's a good thing Charlie's working his night shift or he would have heard me. That would've been embarrassing.
A cold hand touched my face and I jumped. I looked up to see Carlisle.
"Bella," he whispered. "You shouldn't cry like this. It tears me apart."
I gulped. "How could he leave me?" I sobbed.
Carlisle sighed. "He is furious with me for kissing you. He thought that leaving here would make things better, but I refused to go. That made him even more upset."
I knew it. I knew Edward didn't tell me everything. "What about Esme? Is she mad?"
"No. Alice told her that this was going to happen. She had visions of us being together. So, Esme decided to leave with the others. She understands and she's not angry or hurt. They told me to say good-bye to you. They'll miss you, especially Alice."
"Alice had a vision?"
Carlisle nodded. "Yes."
I couldn't think of anything else to say. I was surprised. What would things be like now? If we will be together, how long would our relationship last? Questions swirled around my head about a million miles a second. Questions I could not answer, at least right now. I'm too tired.
"Well," I said. "We should talk about this more later. I need some more sleep."
"I understand, Bella. You've had a long day," Carlisle whispered. He stood up. "Good-night."
"Wait," I said. For some reason I didn't want him to leave. I felt as if he would disappear too. "Can you stay? I'll be able to sleep better if you're here."
"What about your father?"
"He's not here. He's working his night shift and won't be back until morning."
"Oh, I see."
I moved over in the bed. "Just sit with me. Please?"
Carlisle nodded. "Sure, Isabella. I'd do anything to oblige you."
My face reddened as Carlisle pushed back the covers and sat next to me. I took his hand and he squeezed mine gently.
"I'm sorry that Edward left you. I know that you loved him very much, and still do," Carlisle murmured. He stroked my hair.
I nodded. "I know you still love Esme."
"I do, and I shall miss her. But I'll be fine."
"Will you two get a divorce?"
"We weren't officially married, so we don't have to get one. We were able to split up without having to worry about it."
"Oh. I'm sorry, Carlisle."
Carlisle frowned slightly. "What for?" he asked.
I pushed myself up on my elbow. "For causing all of this," I explained.
Carlisle squeezed my hand again. "It's not your fault, Bella. It is mine. If I hadn't kissed you, none of this would have happened. I'm the one who needs to be sorry, which I am."
"I kissed you back, though. It's just as much my fault as it is yours," I pointed out.
Carlisle laughed a little at this. "I believe I have to agree with you on that."
I smiled and looked down. "Do you regret kissing me?" I asked. My face got warmer.
Carlisle was quiet for a moment. "Truthfully, no. The only thing I regret is hurting Edward. I don't know if I'll be able to forgive myself for it."
"You will, eventually," I assured him. "It would be harder if you meant to hurt him, but you didn't. That's what makes the difference, especially if you apologized."
Carlisle thought about that for a bit. Then he gave a small smile. "You're right about that. You are a wise young woman, Isabella."
I grinned, then yawned. Carlisle chuckled.
"You had better go to sleep now, Isabella. You won't be able to function if you don't get enough rest. I'll be here all night, so don't worry," he said.
So I laid down and closed my eyes. I felt Carlisle lean over and kiss my forehead. "Good-night, sweetheart," he murmured.
Sweetheart. I savored the sound of that word. It felt as soft as liquid silk.
"Night, Carlisle," I whispered, clutching his hand as he continued to stroke my hair.
I had no more nightmares.