Edward's writing skipped across the page.
We spent our first night in our new home here. Revisit it, and the first time we met.
Even though there was nobody else in the house, Bella tried to keep a dignified pace as she walked swiftly through the halls, the ties of her cashmere robe trailing behind her. She had learned to listen to the world around her as the other Cullens might; was acutely aware of how the pump of a slightly racing heart could send shock waves of scent through the air, how the slight flush of cheeks could give a hungry vampire pause.
She was careful, not out of fear, but out of consideration. And it was a habit that she maintained even on the rare occasions when alone.
She was intent, though, on reaching her goal: the tower that loomed from the corner of the house, rising above the tree line to give them unlimited views of the West Virginia countryside.
It was defensive in nature. Nobody would discuss it, but ever since what had happened in Washington, the Cullens felt more vulnerable. Alice's reliability had come into question. Yes, circumstances were different now, and every vision she'd had since then was almost monotonously accurate, but that didn't change the facts of what had happened, shifting the ground beneath them.
When Edward and Carlisle had designed the tower, they had laughed and said they were giving in to Esme's flight of fancy, but Bella knew its real purpose was to let them watch for what remained of the Volturi, or – even more threatening – an attack by Alec.
Edward had taken her there the first night they'd moved in, almost as a challenge to the fear that it symbolized. It had been romantic, even magical, but the dread that hung over it had kept her away. Until now.
She turned the knob on the wooden door and walked through. The door fell behind her with a heavy thud. She looked over her shoulder and saw the array of useless locks. Deliberately ignoring them, she began the climb to the top of the tower.
When she emerged from the twisting staircase into the open room, she gasped.
Hundreds of delicate paper snowflakes hung on ribbons from the great iron chandelier. They were flooded with light and danced in the current of air that whipped through the tower's open windows.
Bella thought back to the snowstorm that had surprised her and Edward, all those months ago, and laughed out loud. She stood in the midst of the swirling paper and ran her hands through the lacy flakes. Most of them were perfect and precise, just as Edward would make them, but scattered amidst them she spied some cut with the uneven hands of the children. Her heart swelled, thinking of them sitting together, planning their surprise for mommy, keeping it a secret.
Dangling in the middle, on a lone red ribbon, was another note. She snatched it down and stepped out of the paper storm. Unfolding the paper, her eyes raced over Edward's script.
Mingled with chalk dust -
teasing, tormenting me – your
blood sings, bewitches.
She closed her eyes and thought back to that first day in Forks, the waves of anger that had rolled off of him. How shocking it must have been, how threatening to the walls he'd so carefully built, to have her walk into that classroom.
One day she might understand – really understand in her bones – the sort of throbbing desire that had whipsawed him that day. One day, when he changed her. Until then, she would just focus on how lucky she was that Edward had relented, that on his path away from her something had stilled his footsteps and turned him back to Forks.
When she opened her eyes, Bella saw another envelope lying on a window seat. Her mind buzzed with curiosity – what next moment in their relationship would stand out enough to warrant his poetic attention? Giggling, she reached for her second clue.