Author's Note: I haven't published anything in awhile because I've been afraid that I wouldn't be motivated to finish like before, but I can guarantee you that this time is different because I am already writing the last chapter of this story. I will try to update regularly, but not every day.

WARNING: This story includes elements of abuse, and corporal punishment, though corporal punishment isn't the main theme of the story. I wasn't going to include it because I felt it was too harsh for this story, but the story kind of took me there, so I willingly followed. The story also has a few lemons.

This story probably isn't for you die hard team Edward's out there because he isn't always very nice in this story, though he doesn't stay that way. This is a Bella/Carlisle story because that's what I've been fantasizing about for awhile now.

Without further ado, I present to you, Stepping out of the Shadows.

Chapter 1 – Blood

Happy birthday to me. I sarcastically thought to myself while Carlisle stitched me up in his office. Despite my protests, I had actually gone to the birthday party Alice and Edward basically forced me into having. To say that it didn't go well would be a gigantic understatement. It started with a tiny paper cut and ended with Edward throwing me into the wall and shattering a couple of vases which led to an eight inch gash on my left arm. Oh, did I mention that Jasper tried to kill me? Well, that was the best part. Jasper momentarily lost control when I cut my finger, and he lunged after me. Edward tried to protect by pushing me out of the way and ended up pushing me a little too hard causing me to be thrown against a table with flower arrangements on it. All of the vampires except Carlisle had to leave the house so that they didn't eat me.

Did I mention that I hated parties? No? Well, now I hate them even more than ever. I dislike being the center of attention, and a birthday party guarantees that I will have to have the spotlight on me. Also, I hate presents. Most people, especially women, didn't understand, so let me explain. When my parents buy me gifts, I feel badly that they are spending their hard earned money on me. When my acquaintances get me presents, they really don't know me well enough to get me something I could actually use. Then there is Edward. With him, it's because it only points out the fact that he has so much more than I have, and I have no way to come close to reciprocating. I probably could accept normal boyfriend gifts like flowers or perfume, but Edward always goes waaaaaaaaaay overboard. He gets me things like a sixty-five inch plasma TV for my bedroom, or a MacBook Air so I wouldn't get a virus and had high speed internet lines run out to my house so that I didn't have to wait on the modem. Also, he bought me a car, a freaking car! I refused. One time I mentioned needing to go to the bookstore, and he bought me a Kindle with five hundred thousand books on it and credit to buy another million. I don't even know how he got it to hold that many books. What was I supposed to say to something like that? I told him not to buy me anything else. I thought I was clear, but he still got me a birthday present. He claimed that it was alright because he technically made me the present. The present he gave me was a CD of the song he had written for me. I still planned on throwing a fit because I saw that he hired the New York Symphony Orchestra to perform it. I don't think he knows how to give a gift that isn't extravagant.

Alice's behavior is excusable. She has an undiagnosed mental illness. She's a shopaholic. Let me see if I can explain. Alice bought me so many clothes that she had to renovate one of the spare bedrooms in the Cullen mansion to become a closet to hold them all. Most of the clothes in it cost more than my car, which honestly isn't saying much, but still.

I believe the birthday fiasco was Alice's idea. She and Edward have this crazy idea that I need to experience all of the human rites of passage. They even dragged me to prom in May, and I'm not even kidding a little bit about the dragging. They tricked me into going and didn't even tell me until I was almost there. When I got mad that they had tricked me, Edward dazzled me. If you don't know what vampire dazzling is, then let me tell you it's not nice. From what I hear about roofies, it's kind of like that. You can be talked into basically anything and everything. The dazzling vampire stares into the poor human's eyes and BAM! the human does whatever the vampire asks. I started closing my eyes so that he couldn't do it anymore, but it turns out, his breath was just as effective at making me lose control.

Aside from all of his control issues, I couldn't be happier. Edward was my life. He was my first kiss, my first (and last, hopefully) boyfriend, and my best friend. I couldn't imagine spending a single day without him.

And I was confident that I wouldn't have to spend many days without him. Despite his insistence that he would never change me because he valued my humanity, I believed with all my heart that someday, I would be a vampire. You see, he once told me that vampires are basically unchangeable creatures, and once they found their mate, they were forever bonded and inseparable. And I believed it. My dull and boring life had become an extension of his glorious existence. Everything I did revolved around him. He was my world, the very air I breathed.

When I first came to Forks, I had become friendly with some of my other fellow students, but when Edward and I started dating, it became hard to maintain those friendships. The Cullen's weren't exactly social with the other students, and it ended up isolating me from the rest of the population except for them. Alice and Emmett were really my only friends. Jasper and I were cordial, but he kept his distance so that my scent didn't bother him. Rosalie and I were another story. I don't know what her problem with me was, but I could tell that she didn't like me. Edward's "parents," Carlisle and Esme were awesome, but I didn't really know them that well. Of course, I knew their basic histories, but the only personal things Edward told about them were that Carlisle was compassionate and caring, and Esme was the perfect mother. It was no wonder they were together. They weren't affectionate like Alice in Jasper and nowhere near as all over each other as Emmett and Rosalie, but they were perfect.

Of course, they were all perfect, every single one of them. What did Edward see in me anyway? I was just a plain, ordinary human. There was nothing special about me. I wasn't beautiful like Rosalie or bubbly and perky like Alice, or feminine and girly like Esme. I was just plain, old, clumsy Bella, a simple human who didn't even know how to be a human the right way.

Carlisle amazed me as he stitched me up, not even flinching at the smell of my blood when all of the other vampires couldn't even be in the area.

"How long did it take you to be able to do this?" I asked Carlisle.

"Learn restraint enough to become a doctor? About fifty years." He answered.

"What did you do during that time or did you always know you would be a doctor once you could control your thirst?" I wondered.

"I wouldn't say that I knew I would become a doctor, but from very early on, I hoped I could." He explained. "After I got over the initial shock of becoming a vampire, and past the self-loathing, I saw my newfound form as sort of a chance to be who I wanted to be instead of who I was expected to be.

"I vaguely remembered from my human existence that I thought I would enjoy practicing medicine, and even as a vampire, I had an overwhelming desire to help people. You could say it was and still is my raison d'être. That is why I chose to learn all I could about the medicine and really science in general. The only setback was the sheer volume of blood I had to endure."

"Was it very difficult?" I asked.

"At first, I didn't think it would be. It wasn't hard to restrain myself around humans. That only took three years. After I could safely be in a crowd for long periods of time, I enrolled in medical school, but I had to leave when I discovered the amount of blood I had to endure. I could think around the desire for a time, but after awhile, I had to leave and clear my head. It took me probably fifteen years to be able to be able to withstand the amount of blood necessary. The remaining time, I perfected my restraint until I was sure that I wouldn't make a mistake. After nearly three centuries of practice, I am almost immune to the pull of human blood. I barely notice it anymore." He explained with a pleasant look on his face. "It was more than worth it, though. I receive great enjoyment from my work."

"And the world is a better place because you put yourself through all of that." I added.

"Thank you for saying so." He responded looking rather embarrassed as he continued to carefully stitch my arm.

"Are you blushing, Carlisle?" I teased. "I didn't think that vampires could blush."

Again, he looked embarrassed as he spoke to me, "We technically can't blush, but that doesn't prevent us from looking embarrassed."

That was new to me. Edward never looked embarrassed. He was always so confident in everything he said and did. Alice was the same, and I doubt that Emmett was capable of being embarrassed even when he was a human.

He finished my stitches while I was distracted and applied a topical analgesic to help manage the pain.

"I'm going to take you home tonight." Carlisle explained. "Edward is in no state to do so. I'm sure he'll be in your room by the time you wake up tomorrow."

"Okay," I answered thickly.

Carlisle led me down the stairs, content to walk at my pace. That was new to me. I rather enjoyed not being whisked down the stairs without as much as a warning. The first few times it happened, it caught me off guard. It made me feel like throwing up. Luckily for Edward, I managed to keep my lunch down and Edward stayed clean.

"I'll just get your presents for you." Carlisle announced as he quickly gathered my gifts.

"Thanks," I tried to sound appreciative.

"Edward told us that you would really appreciate all of this, but you were too shy to ask. It's not true. Is it?" Carlisle observed.

"I'm sure he meant well." I defended.

Edward probably told them exactly what to get me. He most likely believed that I needed all of this stuff that his family gave me. I think that Alice must have strayed from Edward's predetermined list, but the others definitely got me things that Edward had at least approved. Carlisle and Esme got me airline tickets to see my mom anytime I wanted. Emmett got me a stereo for my car and installed it for me. Rosalie hijacked my car last night and switched my engine for a high performance model. Jasper got me a GPS. Alice got me clothes, of course. Edward looked annoyed at her when I opened it. I kind of liked it. It was a nice dress that I could wear on special occasions, though it would stay in my drawer until I needed it.

Carlisle sighed at Edward's behavior. I didn't understand why. I know that Edward wanted the best for me.

"I should have asked you directly." Carlisle told me apologetically.

He didn't ask if I still wanted the presents. I guess he knew that I wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by not accepting my presents. Once it was clear that Edward was dragging me to this party whether I wanted to go or not, I tried hard to not let all of the Cullen's know that I was against this party and the presents. Obviously, I failed. I didn't want them to feel bad after going through all of the trouble, and now at least Carlisle would know that I didn't appreciate what I had been given. I felt awful.

"I can see that you're upset that you didn't fool us, but don't feel too badly, Bella." Carlisle laughed and lightened my mood considerably. "I don't think a human would have realized that you didn't care for your presents or this party in general."

"If you say so," I laughed back at him, knowing that my acting skills left something to be desired.

Carlisle really seemed to know a lot about me, more than I knew about him. I understood that vampires had extraordinary observation skills, but I still wondered how much I really knew about him. I decided to use my time alone with Carlisle to get to know him better. While he was stitching my arm, I felt like I got a decent insight into his early vampire life, but I still desired to know more about the unique Carlisle Cullen. Once we got seated in my truck, I began questioning him.

"So…" I drawled, wanting to ask him about his relationship with Esme, but chickening out at the last second, "what do you like to do for fun?"

"Of course, I enjoy baseball and even football with my children, but I really take pleasure in woodcarving, especially precision work. Clocks are a specialty of mine." The smile in his voice relayed the delight he got out of this most unexpected pastime.

I would dearly love to see this artistic side of Carlisle Cullen. It mirrored my own attempt at creativity with sculpting. I hadn't gotten a chance to sculpt often because the work required great concentration, and when I was with Edward, my attention to detail was severely lacking. I did, however sculpt as often as I could when Edward was hunting. Lately, I wasn't able to have time with my hands in clay very frequently. Edward almost always insisted that I go shopping with Alice when he was gone so that he could make sure I was safe. Sometimes, I could get a few hours in when I spent time with Emmett, but it wasn't nearly enough to create the present I was planning to give Edward for Christmas. I was hoping that I could talk Alice into letting me sculpt this weekend instead of going to Rodeo Drive for a rare weekend of overcast shopping, but I would probably be too embarrassed to say anything to her.

"Could you show me sometime?" I asked after a long pause. "I would love to see some of your work."

"Of course, Bella," he smiled at me as we pulled up to my house. I realized for the first time ever, that the vampire riding in my truck didn't once complain about the speed at which I drove, and on top of that, he didn't insist on driving.

He and I both got out of the truck, and he walked me to the door.

"Thank you for seeing me home, Carlisle." I hugged him for the first time. He smelled really good, different from Edward, but still very good. It was a very good thing I knew and loved his wife, Esme, otherwise I would have embarrassed myself trying to flirt with him.

"It was my pleasure, Bella." He hugged me back. "I enjoyed getting to know you better."

"Did you?" I asked incredulously. "I mean, I think I got to know you a little better, but we didn't really talk about me."

That thought struck me. Edward always asked questions about me, my thoughts, my feelings, my past, but he would hardly ever divulge anything personal about himself. I would have never known about his passion for music if Esme hadn't spilled the beans the first time I went to his house.

"Yes, Bella I did get to know you better." Carlisle laughed. "I found out that you don't like parties or presents, you're very curious, and rather gracious about our nature, and your eyes sparkled when I told you about my artistic side, which leads me to believe that you are rather artistic yourself."

"Um, yes," I admitted sheepishly, "I sculpt."

"So…" He teased me. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

"I can't believe you just said that." I giggled nervously as I blushed.

Carlisle looked like he wanted to tell me something else, but he didn't get the chance.

"Charlie's coming, probably to see what's taking you so long. Take one of these for the pain." Carlisle handed me a small bottle of pills and ducked his head to excuse himself. He ran off very gracefully.