a/n: Sorry about the delay in getting this chapter posted. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks again for reading!


Edward

I couldn't help but notice how different Bella smelled now. Simply tasting her had changed everything…magnified it somehow. Before I'd merely craved her blood; now I was dying to savor it. But I knew myself—and my kind—well enough to know that one drop wouldn't be enough. I'd drain her dry before I could stop myself.

As my fingertips swept back and forth over her upper arm, I realized that her skin even felt softer—like freshly spun silk. The rise and fall of her chest was mesmerizing as I watched her, so peaceful in slumber. For once she wasn't stirring, and I couldn't help but wonder if our kiss had something to do with that.

Selfishly I wanted it to. I wanted her to feel comfortable around me; I wanted her to want to be with me because I'd wanted her from the moment I'd laid eyes on her. But logically, I knew that wasn't fair. In a little over a year, we'd be graduating high school. She'd go off to college, and my family would have no choice move on. To where, I wasn't sure, but as was the Cullen way, we'd have to. Our existence demanded it if we didn't want to be discovered.

Bella sighed longingly and I held my breath, waiting for her to utter Jacob's name again, but instead…it was my name that spilled from her lips. "Edward," she whispered. It was so low that human ears probably wouldn't have been able to discern it as anything other than a deep breath.

But to this vampire…it was heaven.


"Edward, what are you doing?" I'd barely made it through the front door when Alice all but pounced on me. I'd known it was coming, of course. The closer I'd gotten to the house, the more I'd heard her mind racing…listened to every argument going on in her head as to why this wasn't a good scenario. But I'd already considered everything she was thinking. And for now…none of them mattered. I could no more stay away from Bella than she could stop breathing.

"Alice—"

"She's the only human friend I've ever had," she reminded me.

"I know that, Alice." I was surprised I'd even managed to get that in.

"And not just as a vampire." Her glare had me fighting a chuckle. Though I'm not sure why. If there was anyone who could take me…it was Alice.

"I know that, too," I said softly. We were all aware of Alice's human existence. She'd been shunned even by her own family until they'd tossed her into an asylum and by all accounts forgotten her existence. Jasper—and the rest of us, for that matter—had been a Godsend for Alice. She'd never made any bones about that, and she'd not for one second taken any of us for granted.

Alice sighed, voicing her thoughts though she didn't need to. "She likes you, Edward. I think she's always liked you, though she's never admitted it. Not to me, anyway. And if you weren't so averse to changing her, I would be ok with…well, whatever it is that's going on with you two. But I don't want to watch you make her fall in love with you and then break her heart when things end. And they will have to end, because it's not like you can tell her who we are! Not without endangering her life. Because you know as well as I do…the Volturi have a way of finding things out, Edward."

My laugh was hollow. "I'm not making her fall in love with me," I argued, but it was futile. I knew I was lying.

"Oh, Edward," Alice said softly. "She already is."


Bella

The unexpected sight of sunshine peeking through the blind slats was what woke me. I immediately sprung out bed and pulled them up, opening my window so the sunshine could hit my face.

As was typical, Edward was already gone, but that was probably a good thing. I had a test tomorrow and another one on Tuesday; having him here would just be a distraction…especially now that I'd kissed him. I groaned at the thought. And that was after he'd warned me not to.

I shouldn't have been so quick to throw myself at him, for God's sake. One moment I was telling him that he didn't need to worry about me; that I was fine. And the next minute I was…what? Bribing him with kisses? So he'd stay? What was next? Was I going to try and hand over my virginity, too?

With a sigh, I leaned back and pulled the window back down. My sunny day had just become incredibly dreary.


Edward

Bella was asleep by the time I arrived at her house. Of course, that was the way I'd planned it. While everything Alice had brought up had been things I'd already mulled over, I couldn't help but reflect some more after our conversation.

And one thing that had kept coming up over and over again in my mind was that there was a great possibility that Bella wouldn't be the only one who walked away from this heartbroken. I'd never been drawn to anyone before the way I was drawn to Bella; I'd never had the desire to know someone inside out the way I did with her. I looked forward to spending my nights with her; it didn't matter that she was sleeping. It was enough just being with her. I was amazed at how easily she'd fit into my routine.

And at how easily I'd fit into hers. Though I'd be willing to wager she wasn't aware of it, her body would immediately nestle against mine when I settled on her bed…exactly the way it was doing now. I looked down at her head, resting on my chest and lifted a hand to her hair. I couldn't resist running my fingers through her silken strands…just so the smell would be there tomorrow for the short time we'd be apart until school started.


It was hours later when she began stirring, whimpering in her sleep. When her breathing turned to gasping, I tightened my grip on her. "Bella," I whispered softly.

"Jake, let go!" She flew up in bed as she practically shrieked his name, then closed her eyes as she ran a hand through her hair before collapsing back onto the mattress. "I'm sorry," she murmured with a sigh.

"It's OK," I assured her.

"But I woke you," she pointed out.

I ran a finger across her cheek and her eyelids fluttered open. "I don't need much sleep anyway."

She smiled softly before her eyelids drifted shut again and she found slumber. Apparently her little altercation with her friend had taken more of a toll on her than she'd led me to believe.

It was time I paid this Jake a visit.


As soon as Bella began stirring, I left through her window, landing with a soft whoosh on the ground. I headed for the woods, pulling my cell phone out along the way. I dialed my sister's number, and she answered on the first ring; she'd been expecting my call, of course.

I had only one thing to say: "Jacob."

His image immediately flashed through her mind.

"Thank you," I said abruptly.

"Dammitt, Edward!" she said. "Don't do anything rash."

"No promises, Alice."

"Well then for God's sake, don't do anything that'll hurt Bella!" I heard her yell as I shut my phone.

Now that I could promise.