PROLOGUE

Since you are reading this story, you're probably automatically assuming that I'm alive. It would be a hasty conclusion. I don't necessarily have to be living to tell my tale; there are other means.

I was a regular guy, doing regular things, enjoying all the promise of being twenty-one years old. I had great friends, a loving girlfriend, and an amazing family. Life was good. But then…

Then, I saw her. And, in that moment, I knew. Nothing would ever be the same again.

My name is Edward A. M. Cullen. This is my story.

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CHAPTER ONE

"Shhhhhh!"

My head snapped around, and I muttered a contrite apology, folding my hands together. "Sorry."

I'd been staring at the same page of my Business Law book for over ten minutes now, not taking in a word of what I was reading. The boredom of the topic drove my fingers to drum on the tabletop one of the songs that we'd be playing tonight at Club Perestroika. My mind had been running through our set for the past thirty minutes.

The second I stopped drumming and brought my mind back to the present, I realized how eerily quiet the library was, and how much of a racket my drumming must have made in this silence. And there it was again, the prickling on the back of my neck, the unshakeable sensation that someone was watching me. I looked around futilely; no one was even looking in my direction. Giving up on studying for now, I gathered my books and headed outside.

I jogged across campus to retrieve my car, eyeing warily the rain clouds that were quickly closing in. I hoped to be ensconced in my Volvo before the storm hit. I moved faster.

No such luck. I looked like someone dumped a bucket of water specifically over my head before I made it to the car. My hair was plastered to my forehead, my t-shirt and flannel shirt were glued to my torso, like cold hands squeezing me. I unlocked the car from a distance and hurled myself into it, flicking on the heater, full blast. The hot air blowing around me was comforting, loosening the cold grasp on my chest.

Again, I felt eyes on me. Before I could stop myself, I looked around the car, but of course, I saw nothing. The windows were a blur of fog and rain. I shook my head, telling myself to stop being paranoid. As I started the car, the windshield wipers came to life, and then I saw it. A couple dozen yards ahead, behind a thick tree, someone stood. Her eyes were fixed on me, as if an invisible steel cable connected her to me. I started with a gasp as my gaze fell on hers, but the rain as too thick, I could barely see. I turned up the wipers' speed to clear the windshield, but when I looked up again a second later, she was no longer there.

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Emmett, Jasper, James and I were on the small stage at Perestroika setting up our instruments and doing sound checks. The club was not open yet, but it'd be easier for everyone to get this done now, even though we were not going on until eleven. The only sounds in the place were our rummaging around the stage, and Paul, the bartender, restocking the bar and clinking glasses as he stacked them. There was usually a good turnout when we played, and he knew he'd need the extra stock to keep the crowd supplied with drinks.

"Yo, Masen, pass me those cables," James asked, pointing to the mess of cables by my feet. He was sitting on a stool with his guitar on his lap. I guessed he wanted to plug in his amp to tune it; it had sounded kind of iffy in rehearsal yesterday. James was the newest member of Babylon, our little garage band. We lost our second guitar a couple of months ago when he graduated and moved to the east coast. I had been sad to see him go; Embry was a good guy and a good musician. We were still getting our bearings with James, but he seemed to be doing okay. I just had a weird feeling about him, sometimes.

I tossed the cables in his direction, and he mumbled a "Fanks," around the tuner he was holding in his mouth as he bent down to retrieve the cable.

Emmett was behind me setting up his drums and banging out a few beats until he was satisfied that everything was set to his liking. I couldn't help thinking to myself how appropriate an instrument Emmett had chosen for himself. Big, chest-thumping Emmett, who looked more like a bouncer in the club than a musician due to his linebacker build, was actually an extremely accomplished drummer.

I played a few chords on my bass, and Jasper walked closer to me, guitar at the ready, harmonizing with my sound, a smile on his face. I've always enjoyed playing with my brother; we began taking guitar lessons when we were seven. We had both shown a keen interest in the drums, and mom had the wise idea to head us off at the pass and present us with guitars and a teacher. While Jasper fell in love with the instrument and never looked back, I switched to the bass a couple of years later, though I still played the guitar well enough.

For a while there, I had considered majoring in music. Not long after I picked up the bass, I started piano lessons as well, and fell in love again. What can I say, I'm a musical man-whore. Our father, however, the illustrious Edward Masen, Sr., wouldn't hear of it. Ah well, being a business major was not all that bad. I was just not passionate about it.

Jasper and I drew our little duet to a close, and he moved to set up the mic. He brushed his blond curls off his forehead the better to see what he was doing, and I could already hear the screaming madness that would ensue tonight every time he did just that. Jasper had a way of bewitching the girls that I had never mastered. Smooth bastard. But I never begrudged him his god given talent for having girls fall at his feet; I'd benefited from that on more than one occasion.

Valentin came in from the back room as I set my bass on its stand. He was the owner of Perestroika, and the guy who let us play our first gig in a public venue a year ago. Valentin stood in front of the stage, scratching his goatee and examining our work.

"Everything ready for tonight, yes?" He asked in his heavy Russian accent.

"We're good to go, Val," Jasper reassured him.

"Good, good. And not too much of the air humping tonight, eh?" He admonished Jasper, who burst into laughter.

"Can't promise that, Val. Gotta give the ladies what they want," Jasper said, winking and flashing his best smile.

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The club was packed to capacity. Lenny was just finishing his set, and we'd be on in twenty. Lenny was Jasper's competition in the panty-dropping department. He played acoustic guitar and sang soulfully, like a less talented John Meyer, but the women ate it up. He was just finishing his last song, and we could hear the girls squealing. Jasper shot me a meaningful look and shook his head, grinning.

"Baby! I just came in so give you a kiss good luck," Tanya said as she came barreling towards me behind the stage.

Tanya and I had been going out for almost a year now. It wasn't one of those relationships where you see fireworks and hear opera in your head every time you kiss, but we had a good thing going. We cared about each other a lot, and I believed we had the potential to grow into something deeper over time.

"Thanks, Tanya," I said, returning her kiss. "I'll see you after the set, 'kay?"

She smiled at me and gave me a little wave as she walked away. Hmmm she was wearing those jeans. Naughty girl, she knew just how to entice me. I grinned lazily at her retreating figure.

Valentin hopped on the stage then and reached for the mic.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you've all been waiting for! Give it up for Babylon!"

His introduction made us chuckle every time. Honestly, this was a little dive bar, maybe 300 people out there to see us play, and he announced our set like we were playing Madison Square Garden.

I took a last swig of my beer and followed behind James onto the stage. Emmett was the first one up there and he was saluting the crowd, who started to hoot wildly as soon as Jasper was in view. Those two enjoyed the attention way more than they should.

Tonight we were playing a mix of our own compositions and some covers. Jasper began playing the opening bars of Hanging Gardens, one of our songs. It was a favorite of our regular audience.

As soon as we began to play, the lights dimmed, and I lost myself in the music, as I always did. My senses focused entirely on the sounds and the feel of my bass in my hands, my fingers plucking and slapping the strings. My eyes drifted and closed for a moment.

Jasper began belting out the chorus, the crowd singing along with him, and there was that feeling again, the prickling in the back of my neck. My eyes snapped open and immediately fell on her. She was impossible to miss, though she was in the very back; it was the same girl that had stood in the rain. I was certain of it.

I strained my eyes to focus on her face, but I was only staring at a patch of wall. Where the hell did she go? She had been right there, I was pretty sure I wasn't hallucinating. I kept searching for her frantically for the rest of our set, but I didn't see her again.

In that moment, I knew it was her; she was the one that had been watching me.

Why? A stalking groupie? I thought to myself. We had finished our set, and sat at the bar to have a drink before heading out. The guys were animated and boisterous after playing a good show; I just wanted to be left alone with my thoughts. This girl watching me, and the feeling that there was more to it than I could understand were driving me insane.

"Hey, Edward, what's eating you?" Emmett asked, after I snapped at him for the third time in ten minutes.

"Nothing, just tired," I muttered. I drained my beer and slid on my jacket. "I'm heading out, I'll catch you guys tomorrow." Tanya had left shortly after the show with her girlfriends, so I was on my own.

Carrying my bass case, I made my way out the back where I had parked. I laid my instrument down on the back seat, and opened the door to settle behind the wheel. A strange feeling made me turn around before I could get in the car, and I found myself face to face with a giant of a man.

This guy would make Emmett look scrawny. He was dressed formally, and all in black. His dark hair clashed with his extremely pale skin, and it shone eerily under the streetlights. My first instinct was to run, even though he didn't appear aggressive.

"Can I help you?" I asked him, shoving my hands in my pockets.

He didn't reply, just gave me a creepy smile and made to reach for me.

A low growl rumbled somewhere in the darkness, as well as a velvety, menacing voice.

"I wouldn't, Felix," the disembodied female voice said.

The smile slid off Felix's face and he lowered his hand, scanning the darkness behind me.

"Of course you'd be here," he addressed the unseen woman in an angry whisper.

Footsteps echoed on the pavement, slowly approaching us. I turned around to the source of the sound, and my jaw dropped open of its own accord.

"You knew I would be, Felix. How can this possibly be news to you? Surely you're not as thick as you look," the woman said. It was her! The girl I had seen in the rain and in the club. Her skin was just as pale as Felix's, but not as ghoulish, somehow. She had long brown hair that reached her waist, and her features were soft, though her eyes regarded Felix with a steely reproach. The boots she was wearing kept clanking on the sidewalk until she stopped in front of Felix, her back to me.

The albino gorilla didn't take too kindly to her words. He bared his teeth at her, clenching and unclenching his massive fists. She stared him down — or should I say up? He was at least a foot taller than her, — and didn't move. He looked like he wanted to punch her.

"Hey, buddy, let's calm down here," I said to him, trying to diffuse the rise in his temper. If he got violent, I would have to intercede, and he would obviously kick my ass. I was never much of a fighter, and this guy was a monster.

She turned her head around and barked at me. "Edward, leave."

That stopped me in my tracks. I stared at her, paralyzed by surprise, and she growled, "Now!"

I didn't want to leave, especially now with King Kong here looking all pissed off, but the look in her eyes made my blood freeze, and I couldn't even think to question her. I got in my car and started to drive. After I backed out of my spot, I looked at the place where we had stood, but they had disappeared into the night.

I drove back to my apartment, my mind in turmoil. What the fuck was that? And who the fuck was that? I couldn't figure out who the guy was, what he had wanted, and who the girl was. Honestly, I was less intrigued about him than I was about her. I knew she was the one that had been following me, though I couldn't imagine why. She was obviously no groupie.

I stripped my clothes off and got in the shower, turning the water as hot as I could stand it. It felt great, and it helped dissolve the knots on my shoulders. I put on my pajama pants and combed my hair, or tried anyway, but my bronze hair had a mind of its own, and it would not be told what to do by a puny plastic comb.

I was exhausted, but my brain refused to shut down; sleep was not an option right now. Maybe I'd read for a while, that should help. I stepped into my bedroom, flicking the light on as I went. I choked down the yelp that flew to my mouth. There, sitting cross-legged on my bed. It was her.

"Hello, Edward."

I didn't know what to answer. Well, normally I know what to say when someone says 'hello' to me, but this was not exactly your regular, everyday encounter. I stared at her, and the first thing that came to my mind was, There's a hot girl on my bed. It was beyond stupid.

She watched me silently when I didn't respond. A small smile played on her lips, as if she knew what I was thinking. She patted the bed next to her, motioning for me to sit.

"Have a seat, Edward. I'm sure you're wondering why I'm here, and what happened tonight," she offered.

Yeah. You could say that.


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