PROLOGUE

Port Angeles wasn't the most bustling city I'd ever visited, but it was a nice reprieve from Forks every now and then. There were so many people that it was hard to focus on one set of thoughts; I liked that. People bored me.

Except for one.

But I couldn't read her thoughts. Though it wouldn't matter if I could. She was too enticing. When she'd arrived three years ago, I'd had to switch most of my classes in order to avoid her. The scent of her blood was matchless—even with my restraint it was hard to resist. Three years, and I still had the mental picture of sinking my teeth into her pulsing artery—it didn't matter which one; I wasn't picky.

I'd done my part to steer clear of her, but my sister had gone and done something she hadn't done in decades. She'd become quick friends with the girl, much to my dismay. They'd become practically inseparable. Most humans had the inherent sense to stay away from us, but Bella Swan was a danger magnet. It was only natural that she be drawn to my family.

I'd never realized what teenage girls were really like—the giggling, the gossiping…the sleepovers. It was that last one that kept me from spending many of my weekends at home. Her smell was too intoxicating. Like a zombie, I'd be drawn to her, draining her before I'd even known what had happened. It was better this way.

She, of course, took this to mean I didn't like her. Though that wasn't my intention, it certainly was helpful. She steered clear of me, too.

I looked up at the sky; the drizzle hitting my face barely registered. I was glad for the clouds. It had been sunny for nearly four days, and I was tired of hiding indoors. The fresh air was nice, though I didn't need it. Inhaling and exhaling were more of a habit than a necessity for me.

Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath…and growled. My eyes flew open and I looked around wildly. I could smell her; she was close. But it wasn't the smell of blood coursing through her veins…it was too potent for that. Forcing myself to remain still, I listened intently. Less than a second later, I could hear her sobs, guttural and hushed at the same time.

I forced my pace to remain as human as possible as I made my way swiftly down one sidewalk, then another, and another, and another until finally, I saw her. What had she been doing in this part of town? I couldn't help but wonder as I ran to her.

"Bella?" I asked softly.

She screeched, her entire body shuddering as I touched her.

"Bella, it's Edward," I told her firmly, focusing on her bruised face and torn blouse instead of the bloodstains on her cheeks and forearms.

"Is he…is he gone?" she asked through her sobs.

"There's no one here," I assured her, lifting her effortlessly in my arms as I straightened. "Did someone…hurt you?" I asked, though I already knew the answer.

"I want to go home," she said.

"Bella—"

Her eyes opened; they were filled with desperation, brokenness, and pleading. "Please," she begged, her hand gripping the fabric of my shirt. "Edward…please."

I nodded, swallowing past the lump of anger in my throat. I strode to my car, leaning forward almost imperceptibly to take a deep breath. I knew her scent, and I was able to block it out in favor of the other one clinging to her.

I memorized it, filing it away in my brain for future reference.

It belonged to the man I was going to hunt.

And kill.