A/N Hi! This is a story I've been meaning to post for a while. I wrote it for the Fandom Against Juvenile Diabetes compilation. Sarita Beta'd. Hope you like it! Still working on finding time to update Fear and Loathing and Letters. The characters are screaming at me! I promise - they will update eventually.

About this story, I hate giving anything away in the author's note. But, I do realize that there are people out there who only want to read a certain kind of fic. So, I want to remind everyone that fluff, romance, happy endings - I guarantee none of these. Violence, angst, character death - any one or all of these may or may not make an appearance in my stories. If you want to know more about this one, send me a PM letting me know your sensitivities and I'll give you some information that might help you make your reading decision.

Blood Will Out

It was a clear sky tonight, a rarity here in the Pacific North-West. I wondered, if I stared at the stars long enough, could I forget about tonight's task? Probably not, there had been many things I'd wanted to forget in the past ninety or so years, and I had yet to be successful in that endeavor. Still, I was nothing if not persistent and continued concentrating on the stellar patterns afforded by the cloudless night.

Of course, reality had to intrude before I was able to escape too far. The thoughts of several people bombarded my mind at once as cars started pulling into the parking lot of Forks Community College. It still irked me that I was being forced to spend time at such a low level hall of learning. I had prestigious degrees from the finest universities in the world, yet here I was, about to listen to a visiting professor speak for three hours about a topic I was sure he knew absolutely nothing about.

Again, I cursed the fact that it was I who drew the shortest straw while discussing this night's requirements with my siblings. Carlisle and Esme invoked "parents' privilege" as their right to abstain from being in the running. Carlisle simply asked the favor and expected us to comply, as we rightly should since he gave much and asked for little. Really, it was Aro's favor, one that Carlisle wanted to be sure we handled properly in as much as we wanted nothing to do with the request.

"Carlisle," Aro had started, "would you be so kind as to check on a matter for me in your neck of the woods? Saves me having to send a member of the guard to your area."

We all agreed that keeping the Volturi—vampire royalty if you will—out of our peaceful corner of the globe was something deserving of our best efforts.

"There is a man, an upstart of a man, proposing to be an expert on vampires. He is going to be giving a lecture at your local college. Please, go have a listen and be sure he is as unaware of the reality of us as he should be."

It was the one rule of the vampire world, the "prime directive" as I liked to call it after having seen one too many Star Trek episodes. Never let the humans know we exist. The stories, myths, fables and such were fine; none were accurate and most were not believed. Actual knowledge of our race would cause wide spread panic, which would be a great trial to them, and to us. Even immortal, we could be killed, and this generation of humans had the tools to do it, even from a distance. The Volturi, with their strong and gifted guard, zealously enforced the rule.

Carlisle, understanding at once what was being asked of him, agreed to render assistance and promised that one of the "children" would attend the lecture posing as a student to determine the depth of this man's knowledge. We, the "children," bristled a bit at this term but allowed Carlisle his familial terms. Luckily, we were all adopted "children" or there would be a substantial amount of incest going on under our roof. My so-called siblings were all paired off quite happily, leaving me the odd man out. I guess in a way, it made the most sense for me to be here instead of one of them. They had actual lives to enjoy since they had each other. My existence, though as full as I could make it, was empty compared to theirs.

Scanning the minds of the humans around me, it appeared none of them expected to learn anything important tonight. Most were here as part of a requirement for another class; they planned to sign the attendance form and then spend the time working on other projects. Some had a genuine interest in the subject but still did not hold high hopes for information that would be considered earth shattering. No one seemed to be under the impression that vampires were anything but an old-fashioned horror story, one that didn't compare to the terrors produced by the latest technological wonders on the big screen.

Being a mind reader was many times a burden and blessing for me. As a special skill that was mine alone and not shared by my family, it allowed me to keep our secret safe by knowing what people thought of the Cullens. Unfortunately, since I had no way to keep the thoughts out, it was a burden in that I was never truly alone unless I was physically away from any other sentient being.

Wanting to have my pick of seats, I headed into the hall while most of the others were still in the parking lot. It was a typical stadium type college lecture room, and I chose a seat directly opposite the door toward the back. It gave me a nice view of who was coming into the room, and it was far enough from the door that most of the other attendees would likely choose to sit elsewhere. While I normally preferred not to stand out, I was fine with playing the loner tonight to keep my distance from the humans.

Even though it had been several years since I had put myself through the torture of attending high school, I should have known better than to come here without hunting first. My eyes had already gone black three days ago, and being in this room with all these humans was going to be tortuous to endure. Despite my advanced age, I could still be incredibly stupid and stubborn at times as I had refused to let my obligation for tonight change the hunting schedule I preferred to stick to. Luckily, I shouldn't need to speak at all this evening; it shouldn't be a problem to hold my breath for duration of the lecture. Preparing for the deprivation, I took in some extra deep breaths allowing me to get a complete sensory picture of my surroundings.

As I tasted the flavors in the air, I noticed a faint scent even more appealing than the already difficult to resist human blood I was surrounded with. Venom started pooling in my mouth as the scent grew stronger. Seemingly, the owner of this particularly fragrant blood was coming closer to the lecture hall. My muscles started to tense and my eyes locked on the door as my body readied to pounce on the unsuspecting lamb coming to be slaughtered.

Catching myself, I clamped my mouth shut and halted breathing immediately. I had to wage a quick internal debate as to whether or not I should stay for the lecture or not. Clearly, whoever walked through that door with that scent was going to be trapped in this room with me for the next three hours if I stayed. Should my control slip, I would have no choice but to kill everyone in the room to maintain the vampire secret. That thought alone helped to control myself. If I left now, I would more than likely encounter the person in the parking lot. Being honest with myself, I knew my chances of not grabbing the human and darting into the woods before anyone could see were quite minimal. The scent was that potent. Plus, if I left now, I would be unable to report back to Carlisle on the knowledge of the presenter. It seemed the choice I needed to make was clear—three hours of hell it was.

Despite the lock-down I had on my respiration, the scent still drifted into my nostrils to tantalize me. Coming ever closer, the fight to keep my body in the chair grew harder and harder. Focusing, I strengthened my resolve to resist, to remember that while I was a vampire, I had been human once and it was wrong for me to feed from them now.

I concentrated on the lessons Carlisle had taught me back when I was a newborn vampire. He had saved me from a death that had been mere moments away as I had been a victim of the Spanish influenza epidemic that had swept Chicago that year: 1918. My mother had passed earlier in the day and the memory of her pleading the good doctor for my life was one of the few sharp memories of my human life I still possessed. My mother was a beautiful person inside and out; Carlisle was no different from any other man in being unable to resist her any request. In this case, he simply happened to be in the unique position to actually grant her the wish she made that I not die. Neither he nor I would ever know for sure if she would have wanted this existence for me. Still, as much as I frequently wished I had been allowed to pass on to the great unknown, I could never fault Carlisle for easing my mother's suffering with his assurance that he would do all he could to keep me on this earth. How she knew, or if she did indeed know, of his extra abilities would remain a mystery to us both for the remainder of our existences.

As much as Carlisle second guessed his decision to turn me from a dying human into a vampire, he could not deny that he was happy to have a companion of his own kind. His time on the earth for the previous three hundred years had been lonely as he abstained from the natural food source of vampires: humans. Being an exceedingly good man before his own change, he found himself unable to feed from his former species and had chosen animals instead. He taught me his ways, and while I found resisting human blood to be extremely difficult, I too found comfort in abstaining.

Thinking of Carlisle, and all he had done to guide me since my change, helped when faced with times of extra temptation, like today. Still, I was growing more and more nervous by the moment as the scent only intensified with each step the person took bringing them closer to the hall.

I could almost picture the progress in my mind; I would have first smelled the human when the car pulled into the parking lot. That would have been when it was most faint. Once the door opened, yes, that was when there had been the large increase over the previous amount in the air. Then, a gradual yet steady incline from there. My analytical nature mentally plotted the progression on a graph. Hopefully, there would be no abrupt drop at the end.

Thinking back on Carlisle, I wondered if it would be easier for him right now to sit where I was being that he had never actually tasted human blood. Sadly, I could not say the same for myself. Like any youngster, I had a brief period of rebellion early into my vampire life. As was typical among juveniles, I thought I knew more than the one with greater experience and decided to do things my way instead of the way I was taught. Surely, since I could read the minds of my prey, it would be fine to feed from those whose thoughts revealed them to be reprehensible and without any saving grace.

My mind was wandering into dangerous territory now as I recalled how sublime it had been to finally feed from a human. The blood soothed the constant burn in my throat like no animal ever could, and my body all but sang with increased strength and energy. I remembered how furious I had been with Carlisle for keeping me from what was clearly a superior source of vampire nutrition. Now, I cringed at how sanctimonious I had been then, feeling so virtuous because I only drank from "bad" humans. Ten years later, thoroughly jaded and a far cry from the human my mother had begged Carlisle to save, I went back home the shamed prodigal son determined to prove myself to Carlisle once more and hopefully gain his forgiveness for all the evil I had done. Amazingly, he welcomed me back with open arms, my deeds forgiven and forgotten. Since then, I hadn't drank from a human, hadn't even been tempted much—until tonight.

The scent was strong now. Any moment the human carrying the delicious aroma would be walking through the double doors. They must be dawdling as I hadn't detected any progress for a few moments. The room was almost full, and I noticed the presenter was up front unpacking his satchel. Grateful for the distraction, I focused on his mind to see if there was any true vampire knowledge in there.

Damn, but I'm nervous. Full house tonight. Will I be able to present this right? So much data, so much truth to separate from reality. Well, as much truth as can be derived from evidence based entirely on circumstance and dubious eye witness accounts. Still, vampires exist—I know it—and maybe tonight I'll find someone willing to search for them with me.

Hmmm, this was interesting. Nothing in his mind indicated any actual real vampire information. Still, his determination to find us could prove dangerous... for him. It was a pity as he actually seemed quite likeable. Maybe the Volturi would give him a choice between being changed or, well, best not to think of the alternative.

Abruptly the scent was on the move again, and all thoughts of the man were pushed to the back of my mind. Holding my breath was becoming more and more difficult. The slight bit I was getting only whetted my appetite for more. Resolutely, I refused to give in, knowing the intensity of the full aroma could prove my undoing.

Steps were approaching the door; my eyes zeroed in on my target without waver. Though there was a slight risk to my control, I still had to see this human who carried such a scent.

It was an anticlimax of the highest order when the human that finally appeared in the doorway turned out to be a nondescript young girl with brown hair and eyes. I'm not sure what I was expecting; I supposed an appearance as dramatic as the scent. She was simply, well, normal. It was her, though, I could tell as each little fidget she made while scanning the room changed the waves of scent coming from her body. It was definitely her.

Still a bit in shock from the very average nature of my nemesis, it was a surprisingly long moment before I realized I could not hear a single thought from her mind. As focused on her as I was, her thoughts should have been crystal clear. Instead, there was nothing. It was like she wasn't even there; physically, she took up space and displaced air. Mentally, she was a complete mute. Was she simple perhaps? If that was the case, I wouldn't think she'd be here by herself; surely there would be an escort of some kind. That couldn't be it anyway; I'd been among those who didn't play with a full deck, as the saying goes. I had no more trouble reading their thoughts than any other. This girl was something else entirely.

Her scan of the room was now going in my direction, and I waited impatiently for her gaze to land on me, hoping against a complete lack of logic that once her eyes met mine, I would be able to hear her thoughts.

While her mind might be silent for the moment, her face was entirely expressive, and it was clear there was disappointment there. Was she in the wrong place? Was someone supposed to meet her here? Oddly, the thought of her having an assignation for this lecture was a bit upsetting. My brow furrowed as I tried to figure out my own thoughts, this new conundrum temporarily taking precedence over the puzzle the girl's mind presented.

Where was this possessive feeling coming from? Was it her scent? Or the peace her quiet mind represented? I could literally feel my world shifting as this girl, who was entirely unknown to me a moment before, all of a sudden occupied a place of extreme importance.

Finally, her eyes met mine. Brown? No, something else entirely. A deep sable perhaps. Amber fit better, actually, as her eyes were multifaceted and possessed a depth of expression. Plain? Certainly not. Her face was heart shaped and quite becoming, growing more so by the moment, especially when a smile appeared on her face the moment our gazes locked.

All trace of uncertainty gone, she made her way to my otherwise empty section of the room, shocking me even more than her quiet mind had and sending me into quite a bit of panic. Holding my breath all of a sudden seemed like a very flimsy defense against losing myself to the madness that lurked should my tenuous control fail.

"Hi. Is it okay if I sit here?" she asked me quietly, her voice seeming nervous and unsure. Knowing the horror that must be showing on my face right about now, I could certainly understand why she seemed ready to head over to the more crowded section of the room.

I simply stared at her, unable to answer as that would require taking in a breath. I gave a nod of my head hoping that was acquiescence enough without seeming rude. Really, I couldn't decide if I wanted her next to me or not. Such danger she represented; danger to her, danger to me, danger to my whole family, honestly, should I lose control and need to slaughter everyone in the room. The Volturi would not be pleased. Yet I had to acknowledge a very big part of me did not want her moving away from me. Ever? Ever.

She took out a notebook and pen, seemingly making ready to take notes, maybe trying to keep herself busy so she could ignore the obviously mental midget she had chosen to sit next to. I shuddered to think of how I must appear to her now. Realizing that if she was at all observant, she'd notice I wasn't breathing, I started shifting my abdominals a bit to mimic breath moving in and out. Hmmm, not quite sure why she's now looking at me with amusement.

Putting pen to paper, she started writing at a furious pace. Again, I was surprised at her actions since the presenter had yet to start his lecture. Maybe she was going grocery shopping after? Or a letter to a lover perhaps? The pang which hit my dead heart at the thought was no longer completely unexpected, but still confusing. Why did I hope so much for door number one?

Refusing to stoop down to the level of snooping, I resolutely moved my eyes to the front of the room in order to give her privacy and respite from my staring. A sudden whoosh of her scent in front of me nearly cost her an arm as she dropped a paper onto my lap. Barely, just barely, keeping my teeth in check, I looked at her to try determining why she was throwing paper at me.

"Read it, go ahead." Her eyes held laughter and understanding in them, and for a moment, I didn't want to turn away. Hearing the presenter start talking from the front of the room, I mentally started recording all he said for later observation since I had no interest in listening to him now.

"Please, it will help. Read it." Help? How could she possibly know I needed help? Was it her that was reading my mind?

Curiosity finally won out, and I all but ripped the paper to shreds as I unfolded it.

Hi, I'm so sorry for the difficulty with my scent. I know how hard it is. Don't worry—as soon as this class is over you can drink all you want. I don't mind, and you won't kill me.

If a vampire could go into shock, I was in that state now. What was this girl? I could drink from her without killing her? Was she insane? How did she know what I was?

I looked at her again; she still had the same expression on her face. No hint of madness at all. I had to assume she was really good at hiding it.

"Can you wait till this is over?" she whispered, only further confusing me. "I'm sorry, I should have thought before coming to sit next to you. It's just so rare that one of you reacts so strongly to us."

Us? What was she talking about?

"Again, I'm sorry. I know you're confused. I think we should stay, though. Don't you?"

It was maddening. Every single word out of her mouth deepened the mystery. I wanted to grab her and flee from the room, holding her to me tight. I was so confounded about her, she was practically no longer in any danger from me anymore. If I killed her, I'd never know her secrets. I had to know.

Still afraid to take a breath, I nodded my head and then prepared to wait out the longest three hours of my existence. In my peripheral vision, I could see her settle in her chair and start paying attention to the lecture. Once more her pen moved across the note pad, this time taking actual mention of the words from the presenter.

Taking advantage of a quick pause while the man changed slides on the projector, I reviewed in my mind all he had said so far.

He had given the usual dribble about Vlad the impaler and other such figures from history who supposedly inspired the myths. Predictably, he spoke with assurance about the myriad weaknesses vampires possessed: sunlight, garlic, the ever ubiquitous holy water. In the confusion of the night, it was still a bit of a relief to know that unless this lecture took a decided turn, this man was safe from the Volturi, and our family would not need to bear the burden of turning him in.

The girl next to me had relaxed as well and no longer took notes. I could only assume that she had come to the same conclusion I had. She confirmed so with her next whispered words.

"This guy's a joke. Want to leave?"

Did I? With her? Despite her earlier written statement, I had trouble putting any faith in her assurance that I could drink from her and she somehow survive the experience. Did she think me capable of simply sipping from her skin perhaps? What was it exactly that she knew about me anyway? Again, I realized the mystery was enough to keep her safe. Hopefully, the reveal would be as well.

Restricting my communication to only a nod once more, I stood from the seat and waited until she was up and moving to the exit before following behind. I heard the presenter falter a bit at the rudeness of our early exit, but he had already become a non-entity in my head.

There's always a couple I suppose.

Little did he know how fortunate he was that I had no interest in what he had to say.

The girl moved with purpose to the exit, and then we were outside the hall and making our way to the cars in the lot. Out in the open air, I felt safe taking in a bit of breath since her scent would be diluted.

I drew in the slightest bit possible, and still my knees nearly buckled from the intensity. It took every ounce of control I had not to drain her then and there. I couldn't stop the growl that left my throat or the crouch my body fell into as it readied to spring. Run! I wanted to scream at her. Get away while you still can! Another part of me, the part that had been long dormant but there nonetheless, also made itself heard. Yes, run. You run, I will chase.

Seemingly oblivious to my inner torment, she headed over to a hulking mass of Detroit metal and wrenched the passenger door open before turning back to me and motioning for me to get in the truck. Motioning to me, the vampire currently in attack mode, clearly aching to rip her throat out. Her complete disregard for the danger I represented again brought home to me the depth of mystery she possessed. It was what I needed to regain control of my body enough to join her at her truck.

Reaching the monstrosity, I placed my hand on the door gesturing for her to get in. All else aside, it would be the female who sat in the passenger seat, not the male. She smirked at me before hopping into the truck, and I had to internally acknowledge once again that my views on the sexes were very outdated. My sister, Rosalie, would be kicking my butt right about now if she were here.

The moment of levity helped a bit more to keep me in control, and I quickly moved to the other side of the truck and got in. Unsure of exactly how much this girl knew, I maintained human pace, not wanting to reveal anything in case this was all a cosmic misunderstanding of epic proportions. There was always the chance she thought me some raging alcoholic, and was planning to take me to a drinking establishment.

That last thought was knocked far out into left field as her wrist presented itself to my mouth.

"Go ahead, drink. Then we'll talk. Don't worry, you won't hurt me and you can take as much as you want."

My teeth were sinking into her warm pliant skin before the "teh" sound on her last word was finished. There was no way I could have resisted her offering. None. I pulled in mouthful after exquisite mouthful. The burn in my throat was completely soothed by the glorious blood pouring down it. My eyes closed in ecstasy at the taste on my tongue. Pint after pint I sucked from her vein, more coming long after she should have been drained. Her heartbeat still a steady rhythm next to me provided the assurance that she'd been telling the truth; miraculously, I could drink all I wanted, and she wouldn't die. She was mine, and I was never going to let her go. Ever.

Sooner than I would have ever thought, I felt sated and was able to remove my mouth from her wrist. I started to seal the wounds with my tongue when I saw them heal on their own quicker than my venom would have done the job.

I leaned back in the seat and turned to look at her. She had a giant smile on her face that I'm sure matched the one on my own. Seeing it there relieved me of any worry that she may have been hurt; it looked like she'd enjoyed herself every bit as much as I had. How that could be possible, I had no idea.

"Oh, and by the way, my name is Bella." She laughed as she introduced herself to me, and I couldn't help but chuckle in return.

"I'm Edward."

Getting a good look at her now, I was stunned once again that I had thought her plain on first site. She was gorgeous. Her hair was a deep, vibrant brown caught up in a pony tail at the back of her head, exposing a long, slender neck. The clothes she wore were not revealing but draped softly over gentle curves I'd never paid attention to on a human before. It was her eyes, though, that captivated me the most. They showed intelligence, humor, and compassion all at once. I didn't want to look away.

Finally able to breath and actually talk to her, I could only come up with one word.


She laughed.

"I'm a hybrid: half vampire, half human. I have blood, but I'm still immortal like you. My skin is soft but heals fast. You've never heard of us before?"

I certainly hadn't.

"Never. How do you even exist? Were you only changed part way?" I could not even conceive as to how a half vampire would be created.

"No, I was born this way. Vampire father, human mother." She explained this matter-of-factly, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"You mean, born, like birth? You're mother was pregnant and went into labor and gave birth to you?" I was convinced she was using words in a manner other than for which they were intended.

"Yep, just like that. Well, a bit more violent. More like I chewed my way out when I was done growing inside her. She died." The last was said with no emotion at all. I couldn't tell if she was upset or uncaring about the loss of her mother. How she even had a mother was still a mystery to me.

"I wasn't aware a male could get a human woman pregnant. Are you certain of this?" I was quite familiar with human biology since I had extensively studied the subject in medical school. Taking a quick moment to focus on my testicles, I, as expected, detected no swimming of microscopic spermatozoa.

She scrunched her face up in an expression I could only describe as—cute. "I don't know how it works. I only know I exist, and so do my brothers and sisters. Well, half brothers and half sisters. Our father had been a geneticist when human and his entire existence while vampire was spent trying to create a new race. The Volturi got wind of his plan and eliminated him. Thankfully, they allowed us to live once we promised to abide by their rules. An attempt was made to change one of my brothers to a full vampire, but, as you saw when you bit me, nothing happened. Luckily, my brother wasn't as appealing to the guard member as I am to you or they probably wouldn't have let him go. There was talk of keeping us in Volterra as some sort of perpetual food source, but it turns out our blood actually doesn't provide you with any nutrition. No matter how much you drink from me, you'll still need to hunt."

That was quite a bit of information to take in. I was sure that no one in my family had heard of these hybrids. Apparently the Volturi were keeping them a secret. It was fascinating, really; I had always thought a human woman would not survive intercourse with a vampire. Her father must have had excellent control. I still had many questions for this—hybrid.

"Something you mentioned, you said it was rare that one of us reacts strongly to one of you. What did you mean?"

"Most vampires think our blood is dull and tasteless. However, once in a while, a vampire will find a hybrid who's blood is delicious beyond compare. All the other hybrids will be blah; only that one hybrid will have blood that taste's good to the vampire. If you came across another hybrid, you wouldn't even want to try their blood, they'd smell so boring. I'm the only hybrid who's blood you'll want to drink." She looked at me shyly then, the subject actually making her blush.

"You're blushing." I smiled. "Vampires don't blush."

She gave that pretty, tinkly laugh of hers. "Hybrids do! From the outside, there is nothing about us that reveals what we are. Our hearts beat and our skin is flesh toned and doesn't sparkle in the sunlight. As you can see, my eyes are brown, not red."

My eyes, I hadn't even thought of them. I grabbed the mirror to flip it down and look, hoping they were not bright red. Thankfully, they were the same black as before.

"Yeah, you still need to hunt, so your eyes are still black. How come you let yourself get so hungry? Seems like there's plenty of people here." She looked around at all the cars surrounding us in the lot as if to advertise her point. Which made me think of another question...

"What do you eat?" I was very afraid she was going to inform me she drank from humans.

"Oh, I can do either blood or human food. I usually stick with blood—it's much tastier. The human food all pretty much tastes the same to us, very bland. We can digest it and live off it, but blood is certainly better."

Given her comment earlier about all the people in the area, I had a feeling I already knew the answer to my next question. Still, I asked anyway to be sure.

"I don't suppose being half human you drink animal blood instead of human?"

"Animal blood?" Her nose did that scrunchy thing again. "No, why would I drink from an animal? Human blood is all we need; the animals are safe from us." She laughed.

As I feared, she partook of a typical vampire diet. I had to admit, already visions of a future with this female had been forming in my subconscious. It would never work, though, unless she was willing to change her feeding habits. Growing agitated, my nervous habit of tugging at my hair re-appeared while I tried to figure out what to say to this girl.

"Bella, I only feed from animals. I haven't killed a human in over eighty years. My entire family, we feel wrong killing those that we once were." I tried explaining this in a way that didn't seem judgmental. Our way of life was very rare among our species; we knew of only one other coven that abstained from human blood. The typical vampire never thought twice about feeding from the humans.

A little of the light went out in her eyes as my words registered. I felt awful considering how much she had given me only moments before. If she had been feeling the same attraction to me as I was to her, this difference in our philosophies may very well kill that.

"I've never smelled an animal that smells as good as the humans, do they taste the same? I can't imagine they do." Doubt was written all over her face as she asked the question. Unfortunately, I had no good news to give her.

"No, they don't taste the same or as good. It's hard to get used to at first. My sire, his name is Carlisle, has never drank from a human. He actually works as a doctor in a hospital; he's around blood all the time and is never tempted. For the rest of us, we've all had our difficulties and slip ups. I was very nervous trapped in that hall with what I thought was the most tempting human blood of all time." I cringed mentally over what could have happened if my control snapped.

"I know. I really am sorry. I saw you, and I was just so excited to see a vampire in the class I didn't stop to think what would happen if you wanted to drink from me." The creases on her brow showed how bad she felt about the consternation she had caused me. It was over now, though; I only wanted to sooth her and see her smile again.

"Bella, it's fine. You said yourself its very rare, no way for you to predict. Lets change the subject; I want to know more about you. How old are you? How many of these half siblings do you have? Why are you in Forks? Are you all in Forks?" My rapid fire questions did the trick; she started laughing and holding up her hands gesturing me to slow down.

"Whoa there! One at a time." She smiled at me before ticking off answers on her fingers from each question.

"I'm twenty years old. I reached adult hood after seven years and haven't aged since."

"I have thirty-eight siblings of which I am the youngest. The oldest is 112."

"I'm in Forks because I was looking for other vampires, and the Pacific Northwest is a known vampire haven due to the lack of sun."

"None of my siblings are here with me. We're pretty much scattered across the globe and stay in touch via phone and computer."

"Anything else?" Her grin let me know she didn't mind the questions.

Twenty years old—she was very young into this way of life. But I supposed being born into it must be vastly different from the violent change from human to vampire I underwent. She was fortunate to have missed the three days of burning hell that we all experienced as part of the transformation.

Part of me wanted to keep questioning her all night long. Another part of me simply wanted to spend some time looking at her and enjoying her presence. There was something very soothing about her. Very simple. Despite her diet, she reminded me of Carlisle in that she radiated goodness. I had a feeling that if she could get over the taste, an animal diet may agree with her quite nicely.

Looking closer at her, I could see markers now that identified her as more than human. Her skin was flawless, not a single blemish or shade of imperfection. The rhythm of her heart never wavered. Its function was purely physical; there was no tie-in to her level of excitement or relaxation. Her breathing was shallower than a human's as her need for oxygen must either be less than theirs or non-existent. Inside her perfectly shaped mouth, she had teeth similar to my own: visibly sharp and white.

As ready to continue with questions as I was, sitting in this monstrosity of a truck in the FCC parking lot was significantly low on the list of places I'd like to be while getting to know her better. I wondered if she was staying anywhere or living out in the woods in the true nomad vampire lifestyle. She had the truck, which was more than most nomads burdened themselves with.

"Do you have a place you stay, Bella? My home is not far from here, but quite full of vampires so no privacy as I'm sure you can imagine."

"I've been staying in a hotel in Port Angeles. The lecture tonight caught my eye, and I came solely out of curiosity and a bit of hope that maybe another vampire might also attend for the same reason." I smiled a little at that; I may owe the Volturi my thanks for their errand. "It's only been about a week since I arrived here from Brazil, so I've been getting my bearings a bit trying to figure out what to do with myself." For the first time that evening, she sounded a bit sad and unsure of herself. How unusual that with many brothers and sisters she was here on her own.

"Let me take you back to your hotel. We can leave this truck here, and maybe someone will steal it for you?" I couldn't imagine why she had such a thing.

"Hey, now. Don't hate the truck. It goes really good with the country music I recently discovered I have a thing for." Her infectious grin was back.

"Country? I think we have bigger issues than your choice of vehicle." I teased.

"You lucked out—last year it was 70's disco. I'm expanding my musical horizons."

"Well, madame, my chariot awaits. It is filled with CD's, all of which are guaranteed to provide a well rounded musical education."

She laughed. "Okay, okay, we'll take your car. Cool as my truck is, it's dead slow, and I was thinking of junking it anyway. It was fun for a bit, but I think I'll place an anonymous call to the former owner letting him know where to find it. He'd probably like it back."

"You stole it?" I'm not sure why I was surprised; vampires frequently kept incidentals from the humans they killed. Maybe I was only happy to learn the owner of the truck hadn't also lost his life when she'd stolen the beast from him.

"Yeah, it was sitting outside a convenience store on the edge of town when I arrived. A great Tim McGraw song was playing on the store's outdoor speakers, and I simply had to have the truck."

I shook my head and laughed. "Tim McGraw?" It was time to stop dawdling and get on the road. Not only did her musical tastes need an emergency adjustment, stragglers were starting to exit the lecture hall, and I wanted to get away from the humans before she decided it was snack time. I needed more time to convince her to try my way of feeding.

"Hey, uhm, not sure how you're going to feel about this, but I need to grab a drink on the way to the hotel. Will it bother you a lot if I grab one human? They really are very tasty; I'll kill it myself and share with you if you want." Going by the doubt in her voice, it was pretty obvious she knew how I was going to feel about that offer.

"Bella, I..." I hesitated a bit not knowing what to say.

"I know, I know. You don't feed from humans. I do, though, been doing it all my life, and I'm not ready to give it up yet. There's billions of them on the planet, and I just gave you a heck of a lot of blood. I'm fine and the blood replenishes on its own, but I will feel a lot better once I've fed."

Damn, I should have realized that drinking from her was going to make her need to feed sooner. Now a human was going to die unless I could convince her to go with me now on my kind of hunt. She was giving me a very hard stare, and I had a sinking feeling this was not going to be successful. I had to try.

"Bella, please, will you try? Come with me now, and we'll find something for you. It's not that bad, trust me. Please?" I was begging, but I didn't know what else to do.

"No," she said resolutely. "I'm sorry, but no. If you still want to spend time together, we can go to the hotel separately, and I'll feed on the way. You don't have to be involved. I'm not ready to give up what I know works for me. You've never even heard of a hybrid before today; maybe animal blood won't sustain me. I'm not saying I'll never try, but I won't tonight, and it's not fair of you to ask me, either, after what I shared with you."

She was right; it wasn't fair of me to ask, especially when I was the reason she needed to feed right away. As much as I hated it, the reality was that vampires fed on humans. If I hadn't met up with Bella, she would have gone on with her present diet anyway. At least she's willing to think about changing. That's all I can ask right now.

"Okay, Bella. I thank you for considering it down the road. I'll still go with you now. If a human is going to die tonight because of something I did, then I feel I should be there. Maybe...will you let me choose? I'm a mind reader. I can find a bad one, one that won't be missed. Would that be okay?" I hoped she would at least go with this plan; I didn't want to be responsible for the death of a mother or child.

"You can read minds?" she shouted, suddenly very angry with me. I realized I should have mentioned it sooner. "It would have been nice if you'd told me that before. All that stuff I told you, you would have known all along. You would have known what I was back in the lecture hall!"

"No, Bella, you're the only one who's mind I can't read. I should have explained better. Ever since I was turned, I've been able to read the mind of anyone I encountered—human or vampire. You're the first I couldn't read." She looked incredibly angry, and I felt like I was losing her. I didn't know what to say.

"Fine, Edward, whatever. You know what? I think we're just better off parting ways now. I thought—well, I don't know what I was thinking. Stupid of me to assume we were mates or something just because you liked how I smelled. I'd like for you to leave now." She stared straight ahead out of the windshield, looking very sad and disappointed. I had hurt this girl who had done nothing but show me an incredible kindness when she didn't have to. Somehow I would make it up to her, but for now, I had to let her go.

"Bella, I'm very sorry. You've been wonderful to me, and I'm ashamed to have upset you so. I hope you'll give me another chance. Will you take my number?" I wanted her to at least have a way of contacting me.

She turned to look at me, and even though I couldn't read her thoughts, I could tell there was a lot on her mind right now.

"Fine, tell it to me. Whatever. I'm not saying I'll call. Give me the number and then get out."

Quickly, I recited the number and then exited the truck. She scooted over and had the truck moving out of the parking lot faster than I would have thought possible, even for a full vampire. I watched until I could no longer hear the busted exhaust from the vehicle, and then slowly headed over to my car.

The parking lot was almost empty now; most of the people who had come to hear the lecture had already left even though there were another couple hours to go. A quick check in the hall revealed about ten people left, three of which were asleep. The speaker was doggedly continuing, but his mind revealed his depression over not convincing anyone of the existence of vampires. Apparently, he had a trip planned to Transylvania to uncover a hidden vampire plot to take over the world. At least one thing went right tonight; we could safely tell the Volturi that this man was no threat to us.

Getting in my own vehicle, I headed back home to report in to Carlisle. I wasn't sure if I was ready yet to tell the family about Bella. We had only spent a short amount of time together, but the impression she left on me felt deep and lasting.

She was different than any vampire or human I had ever met. I knew goodness, my sire radiated it, and so did Bella. Yes, her goodness did not extend to the humans as Carlisle's did, but I could tell she didn't have a cruel or spiteful bone in her body. Like most of our kind, the humans were no different to her than cows were to people. I couldn't fault her for it.

What truly drew me to Bella, though, was not only the goodness but the happiness she seemed to wear on her like a cloak. I'd never met a truly happy vampire before. Yes, the members of my coven, my family, were happy in a way. They all had mates that brought them great joy. Even so, there was always a hint of melancholy from being what we are—killers. Even though we stuck with our animal diet, it was crushing to us to always want to feed from humans—to want to kill every man, woman, and child whose scent smelled appetizing to us. How could we truly call ourselves benevolent beings when so much violence lurked within ourselves?

More than her positive traits, I felt a connection with her, or maybe to her. It wasn't only the blood she had to offer. I couldn't quite put my finger on why, but it felt like a part of me went with her when she left. It was a part I didn't even know I had before meeting her, but now that I'd felt it, I wanted it back.

Heading home, I realized with some surprise that I hadn't heard from Alice. Double checking my phone, there were no missed calls or text messages. This added another layer of oddness to the night. My sister had the gift of sight; she could look into the future of anyone she met and see what was in store based on their recent decisions. Frequently, too, visions would come to her on their own whenever a significant event affecting those important to her was on the way. Surely she would have seen me struggling to restrain myself or feeding from Bella. I was surprised she hadn't come directly here to stop me from drinking from what would have appeared to her, a human. Maybe she saw it all, including Bella's rejection, and decided to leave me be. That didn't sound like Alice, though. I was very curious to learn what she saw.

The drive home was quick, as always, since Forks was a very small town. The lights were on at home, and there was no evidence of any unusual activity. I would have thought to see them pacing all over if Alice saw me drinking from Bella. Nothing in their thoughts showed that Alice revealed any usual visions. Her own mind was filled solely with thoughts of packing for an upcoming trip to Alaska her and Jasper were planning.

I headed in and Carlisle looked to me for a quick answer on the lecturer's fate. Happily, I was able to reveal the vampire world had nothing to fear from the delusional man. Carlisle gave a nod of thanks and then went to go call Aro, the head of the Volturi, and give him the news.

Preoccupied with events from the evening, I simply offered a quick hello to the rest of the family before heading up to my room. I wasn't sure what to do with my unexpected freedom from Alice's visions. My sister was never shy about using her knowledge to change any future she deemed sub-par. On the one hand, I wasn't ready to talk to anyone about Bella and all that occurred tonight. On the other, my sister's knowledge could come in very handy when trying to decide what to do. There was also the anomaly of Alice not having seen anything. We'd never come across that before, like I'd never come across someone immune to my mind reading ability. Curiosity won out, and I decided to check with Alice to see what she saw for me if she purposely looked.

"Hey, Edward." Of course, I no sooner decided to speak with her and she appeared. Her talent certainly looked to be working. "Weird, I saw that you wanted to talk, but can't see what you want to talk about. You undecided about something?"

It was the only time her visions didn't work, moments of indecision. Even then, though vague, blurry futures usually oscillated in her head until a decision was reached.

"Alice, did you see anything having to do with me tonight? Anything at all?"

She tilted her head, and I could see her looking ahead for me. There was nothing. There was never nothing, unless someone was going to die—or be destroyed in our case.

"Edward? What's going on?" Her voice had gone from curious to terrified very quickly. "Why can't I see you?"

"I don't know. Let me tell you what happened tonight." I thought again, if I was going to tell her, everyone could hear anyway. Better to do this upfront with them all. "Actually, lets go downstairs to the dining room table. I think everyone should hear this."

Alice shot me a disappointed look, clearly unhappy about being made to wait, and then shot downstairs. I followed a bit slower, gathering my thoughts, trying to decide exactly how much to reveal.

I headed into the dining room and saw that my family was already gathered. They all looked to me with curious expressions; generally, I was the one with the least amount of drama in my life. Mostly, I simply followed along with the rest, allowing them to dictate where we moved and what roles we played to fit into the human world. Our time in Forks had been very pleasant as they all agreed that a break from pretending to be high schoolers was in order. Carlisle obtained a position in the local hospital, but Esme was a housewife this time around and the "kids" were home schooled.

Taking my traditional spot on Carlisle's left, I decided to start from the beginning and let the reactions of my audience dictate where I ended up.

"I met someone tonight at the lecture. A girl."

Of course, immediately I was bombarded with thoughts I'd have rather not heard.

Esme: Oh, finally, he's met someone!

Carlisle: I'm happy for you, Son.

Emmett: Boo yah, boy! 'Bout time you started gettin' yourself some!

Rosalie: Finally, he can stop moping around the house all the time.

Jasper: Congratulations, my brother.

Alice: I still don't see anything; who is this girl?

"Okay, I'm going to pretend I didn't hear any of that and keep going. You're all getting far ahead of yourselves."

They all expressed disappointment but settled down a bit to hear the rest instead of jumping to conclusions. I explained about the scent, about her approach, and her note. I told it as a story, revealing each moment as it happened at the time. Along the way, I decided to tell it all; I was at a loss with how to proceed and needed whatever advice I could get.

"So, that's it. By now, she's probably back in her hotel room. Or far from here. I don't even know if she sleeps or not. What should I do?"

Carlisle spoke first.

"Edward, this is all very interesting. I had no idea a human-vampire hybrid was possible. This makes me all the more sure our lifestyle is right. Obviously, your Bella identifies far more with her vampire side since she feeds on the humans. Simply from an educational standpoint, I'd like to meet her and learn from her. For you, Edward, I hear in your voice how deeply she reached you. You owe it to yourself to do all you can to spend more time with her. If she's your mate, it's your one and only shot for eternity. Don't let it pass you by, and for the time being, don't worry about the diet. She seems open minded, so let's have a little faith."

His words reverberated in my head as Esme got up to give me a big hug and whispered the same: to take this chance at happiness.

It was Alice who concerned me most. The blank space showing my future was still front and center in her head. There was nothing, like I didn't exist. We stared at each other, not sure what to think of this vision we didn't see. Carlisle saw the concern we shared and spoke up to try to ease our worries.

"Edward, Alice, I know it's tough in that you're both, in effect, flying blind. Try to see the positive; if it's being with this girl that makes Alice's vision of Edward's future disappear, then that means he'll find her again. We know nothing of hybrids—they may simply be entirely immune to vampire gifts. Lets not bury Edward before we even see a threat."

I was grateful for Carlisle's voice of reason. Oddly, if yesterday Alice had come to me and said I had disappeared from her visions, I think I would have been slightly relieved that I didn't have to walk the earth for eternity after all. Now that I had something to exist for, a threat to that same eternity was something to fight against instead of accept.

"Thank you, Carlisle. You're right. She blocks me, maybe she blocks Alice, too."

"Dude, I say we get in the Jeep and head over to Port Angeles right now. Let's find this chick and hook you up!"

Emmett, always ready to see me join the ranks of the happily mated. He would never think of holding back, waiting for her to settle and then maybe call. His mode was always forward, and I think it suited me just fine tonight.

"Emmett, you're right. I should go to her right away and explain what she means to me. What I think we are to each other. Alone, though. I should go alone."

"Aww, come on. At least let us drive up there with you. We've got a lot of educating to do in a short amount of time. Obviously you need some lessons in dealing with the fairer sex."

"If you think I'm taking relationship advice from you, you're insane. You met your mate by being mauled by a bear. I'm good."

Emmett could only shrug; it was true. Back when Emmett was human, he'd had a fondness for hunting bears. On one such occasion, the bear got the better of him, and he was nearly killed. Rosalie had been hunting in the same area and found him. Something about the boyish man she had discovered had her bringing Emmett to Carlisle. Carlisle agreed to turn him even though Rosalie had yet to forgive him for doing the same when she was on death's bed. Emmett never voiced a single complaint, going right from his human life to being happily mated to Rosalie. He was my coven brother, and I loved him, but relationship advice was not where his strengths lay—not that mine did, either.

"Jasper, will you come with me? No offense, Emmett, or anyone else, but Jasper knows strategy and can keep me calm. That's what I need."

Jasper was the other gifted member of our coven; he could manipulate the emotions of others. He'd settle me down if I got too nervous. That, combined with his gift for strategy learned from being involved in the Civil War and the southern vampire wars, made him the companion of choice in my endeavor.

"I'm happy to go with you, Edward. But this is love, not war. You'd better let Alice come along, too."

He was right, of course. That's why Jasper and Alice made such a great pair. Each complimented the other; I could have no better with me.

"All right, all right, I know when I'm not wanted. You guys just bring this half vamp home so we can see what's what." Luckily, Emmett was carefree and didn't take insult where none was intended.

Jasper and Alice quickly went to their room to grab cell phones and laptops before we headed to the garage. We'd be taking my car, and I was anxious to be on our way now that a plan was in place.

The trip to Port Angeles was fast, as I had no fear of police traps with my mental radar detector and a car that easily maintained speeds over 100mph. Once there, we made our way to the tourist area where the hotels were.

My plan was vague, consisting only of exiting the vehicle and hoping to catch Bella's scent. If that didn't work then I'd have to go sniffing around every hotel for her. Hopefully it wouldn't take too long to find her given how strong her scent was for me. Unfortunately, going by what Bella had said before, Jasper and Alice may not even notice her smell, which meant splitting up to search wouldn't do us any good.

Fortune was with me, for once, and I caught her scent the second I opened the door. It was faint but there and would be easy to follow. With Alice and Jasper behind me, I followed the trail which ended at the Pineapple Inn. Great. This place was a notorious by-the-hour skank motel; why she would choose to stay here was a mystery.

The inn had two levels with all rooms having access to the parking lot, and a detached office, making it easy for us to go directly to Bella's room. Her scent brought us to the second level, room four, and we stood outside the door a moment while I realized I still had no better idea of what to say to her. Alice smiled at me encouragingly while Jasper gave me a light punch on the arm.

Listening, I heard the TV on and what could only be described as insane giggles. I couldn't help the grin on my face when I realized what she was watching. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and not the lame TV show either, the actual original movie. Which, of course, was far lamer than the TV show. Bella seemed to be enjoying it immensely. Looking at Jasper and Alice, they too had smiles on their faces listening to Bella enjoy the show. It was a good glimpse of what exactly it was I liked about her; she made people happy.

Since she was in a good mood, I decided to stop over-thinking things, take the risk, and knock on the door. The TV silenced and she called a chipper "Who is it?" Funny, if it had been any one of us, suspicion and worry would have been our first reaction to an unexpected visitor. Either she hid hers very well or she really was fine with surprise guests. I hoped it was the latter.

"Edward." I called back.

She giggled, she actually giggled. My apprehensions lightened quite a bit when I heard that.

"I had a feeling you'd come looking for me." I heard as she approached the door.

It seemed an interminable wait, especially given how fast I knew she could move, but I knew I was only being impatient. Finally, the door opened, and her face was every bit as beautiful as I remembered.

"Hi!" She actually sounded excited to see me, and her smile grew even wider when she saw Jasper and Alice. "Oh, cool, you brought friends—I was feeling a bit lonely. Come on in!"

Jasper and Alice sent me surprised smiles before heading in. They too were shocked by her upbeat attitude. Bella was certainly a rarity in our world. I sobered up a little, though, when I realized part of her chipperness might be due to having fed recently. There was a certain amount of euphoria that lingered after a kill.

Following after Jasper and Alice, I saw they were already seated and introducing themselves to my girl. Bella's natural gift for getting along with others was very much in evidence. I quietly leaned against the door after shutting it behind me and observed my siblings interact with her. Her scent permeated the whole room, and drinking from her again quickly became all I could think about. I couldn't feed from her again, though; not until she switched from humans to animals.

I listened to the easy interaction between Bella and my siblings. She was basically telling them all the things she'd told me about hybrids, allowing them to get the details straight from her. Jasper and Alice asked a lot of questions, some I hadn't even thought of, and I could tell Alice was much more confident that her lack of vision was not due to any bad end on my part but to Bella's hybrid nature.

Jasper managed to find out that Bella's siblings did not all form one large coven for the same reason most vampires didn't: it would take too many humans being killed at once to sustain a coven of that size. He was relieved they showed no interest in acquiring territory like the southern vampire coven he came to us from.

Alice was disappointed to learn that Bella had no interest in either the wearing or the acquisition of designer clothing.

For my part, it did me good to see the easy banter between them all. I had a feeling Bella could ease into our daily lives very easily, if she could learn to feed from animals. Maybe Rosalie would not like her much given that they were polar opposites, but then again, maybe Bella could show Rosalie that it was okay to enjoy being what we are. I knew I could stand to learn that as well.

Given Bella's graciousness in agreeing to see me again, it was evident that Jasper and Alice's presence was not needed after all. They realized this as well and said their goodbyes to Bella with promises to get together again soon provided she stayed in the area. She seemed more inclined to do so now than she had back when we parted, which gave me a certain amount of hope.

The room was quiet after they left, and things turned a bit awkward as I think we both realized the disagreements that existed before our difficult parting had yet to be resolved.

"Edward, I'm glad you came." she started. "I enjoyed the time we had together, and I'm sorry I became upset with you. Thinking back, I realized that, really, I was very nervous. I felt a strong connection to you very quickly, yet you seemed determined to change something very fundamental to my existence. It was upsetting. And then there was the bombshell about the mind reading. I must admit, I didn't believe you at first when you said I was the only one you couldn't read. That seemed too convenient. After I left in a huff, I remembered we'd come across other vampires with gifts that didn't seem to work on us. I'm sorry for being such a wench, I really am."

"You've got nothing to apologize for." I assured her, "I should have been more sensitive. You needed to feed, and I had taken a great deal from you. It was the wrong time to pressure you into a completely different diet."

"Well, here's the thing. I killed a human on my way home, and I liked it. When I hunt, I choose my prey strictly by smell; whoever smells the best goes. I don't bother trying to find a bad one or one without a family or any of that. Frankly, I don't care. I know that, technically, I'm half human, but I feel one hundred percent vampire. They are animals to me, so I see no reason to replace them with something that doesn't taste as good and may not be as good for me."

I didn't know what to say; she seemed very strong in her conviction, and I was equally strong in mine. But I needed her. I wanted her. Being in this room alone with her, I realized my want for her went beyond her blood or her personality. It was physical, sexually physical, something I had yet to experience in my century plus on the planet. I was noticing—things—things I'd never noticed before.

There were places on her body that I wanted to put my hands... soft places, warm places. Truly, there were places in her body I wanted to put a certain other part of my own. Not to mention all the places I thought of putting my lips, my mouth, my tongue.

I thought back on when I drank from her in the truck. Her wrist had seemed like the greatest gift. Now, I wanted more. I wanted her sitting before me, between my legs, her back against my chest. I wanted her head tilted back exposing her neck to my teeth. I wanted to be able to run my hands up and down her body, exploring all the soft, warm spots I knew she had, but that I had never seen, never felt before.

Something on my face must have betrayed the direction my thoughts had gone in. Her eyes narrowed a bit, and she tilted her head a little to the side, eying me with speculation. Her body temperature actually went up a degree, and the heartbeat I thought would never waver, increased by a small increment. Her skin became flushed, something that would never happen on a true vampire, and it only made me want her more. Her scent became tangier, with a hint of musk. It grew stronger, surrounding me and saturating my senses.

Never before had I wanted something so much. This moment made the time in the lecture hall seem like child's play. All thoughts of what she ate or what I ate vanished; there was only her, her blood, and my urge to take both.

She dropped her eyes and looked to the bed and then directed her gaze somewhere on the floor near my feet. Slowly, she backed up and sat on the edge of the bed. Not looking at me, she picked up the remote and turned the TV back on. She looked at me quickly then, and back away to the TV, seeming to want me to know what she was thinking but too shy to voice it.

The TV was now playing a different movie than before—Ghost, the one with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. It was the potters wheel scene; how fitting.

Going with what seemed to be encouragement from all directions, I moved to the bed and sat behind Bella, my back resting against the wall. Gently, I reached forward and coaxed her to shimmy back and sit between my legs. Of her own volition, she leaned her head all the way back so her neck was completely exposed. The skin there was flawless, creamy, and pink from the widened blood vessels resulting from her blush.

For a moment, I only stared, purposely increasing the suspense by making myself wait a little longer. My hands stayed on Bella's waist, and I crept them under her shirt to rest on the warm skin I found there. Dropping my head slightly, I ran my nose up and down her neck. She drew in a sharp breath at the contact and wiggled slightly, causing her rear to rub between my legs. I groaned from the sensory overload of her scent, the feel of her, and my body's reaction. It was all incredibly intense.

Keeping up the self-torture, I softly moved my mouth on her skin and placed the smallest of kisses over her pulsing artery. I could feel the beat of her heart against my lips, pushing that glorious blood throughout her body. The feel of her nearly undid all my control, but I persevered, only allowing the tip of my tongue to come out and lightly taste her skin. I shuddered and felt myself grow harder and longer against her backside which was still lightly rubbing me to the point of madness.

I left my mouth where it was in order to explore more of her skin with my hands. Slowly running them up and down her sides, I was amazed at how soft and warm she was. It was as if she'd kept the best part of being half human.

The next time my hands slipped upward, I moved them forward as well, gently bringing them under her breasts, feeling the slight weight of them on the backs of my hands. The skin there was impossibly softer than the rest, and warmer as well. Unable to resist, I shifted my hands over to cup each of her breasts and run my thumb over the hard nipples I discovered.

She was moaning and grinding against me now, her hands fisting the sheet on the bed. Her obvious pleasure at my actions only spurred me on, and I gently pinched her nipples between my fingers while kneading her breasts with my hands. Each groan guided and prodded me, showing me what she liked—what gave her pleasure.

Her hands left the sheet and curled under each of my legs, squeezing my thigh muscles and drawing me tighter around her.

Turning my attention back to the skin my tongue was gently swirling on, I finally decided to show mercy on myself and let my teeth break through the butter-soft skin of her neck. I made the slightest of cuts, avoiding her artery, so only a small amount of blood seeped through. The taste was every bit as incredible as I'd remembered, yet even more so when combined with the tactile pleasures I was also enjoying this time.

Determined to make this last, I made no move to widen the flow of blood. I knew once it was coming in my mouth hard and fast, I would lose focus on the rest of her body.

Having learned the curve, feel, and weight of her breasts, I left one hand there for further exploration while the other skimmed back down over her stomach and to the hem of her pants. I paused there a very brief moment to make sure there would be no demure. When none was forthcoming, I eased my hand into the waistband of her pants, excited to find that her skin grew warmer still, the closer to her center I drew.

Her pants were loose enough that my hand fit with ease, and I brought it all the way down until I was cupping her sex in my palm. Halting there, I let the heat and wetness I found permeate my skin, feeling it grow warmer from the contact. Softly, very softly, I moved my hand mere centimeters back and fourth, my palm spreading her open and rubbing along the inner folds. Increasing my movements, the tips of my fingers would briefly slide into her before sliding back out and being replaced with my palm once more. The whimpers coming from her mouth let me know she enjoyed my hand between her legs.

Exploring more of what she had to offer, I drew my hand up a bit to lightly squeeze and pinch the protruding skin there. She hissed and moaned while grinding harder against me. I had done something good. I kept my movements up, alternating between dipping inside of her and rubbing the nerve filled nubbin. When she reached back with one arm and grabbed my hair while screaming my name, I knew I'd found the key to her undoing. And, with each pulse, the artery under my lips was getting inceasingly difficult to resist.

She screamed, and I could feel her inner walls pulsating around my fingers. Her nails dug into my thighs, through my jeans, causing a bit of pain that felt good.

I lifted my mouth from her neck so I could whisper in her ear. "You're so tight and wet on my fingers, so responsive to my touch. I need to be inside you. Do you want that?"

She whined, "Yes, Edward! Yes!"

I slowly removed my hand from her still pulsating center. It glistened in the light from her wetness. As she watched, I brought my fingers to my mouth and tasted her juices. The flavor was similar to her blood yet muskier with less of the intensity. I wanted more.

"Mm-mm, Bella, first my tongue needs to explore you," I whispered. "You have so many different tastes: your skin, your blood, your moistness. I want to gorge myself on all of you."

She groaned her assent while I slipped out from behind her and gently laid her on the bed. Sliding her pants off as I went, I positioned myself between her legs and looked at her beauty with delight. Bare, as was typical of female vampires, I could see every fold, all pink and wet and waiting for me.

I tickled her a bit with my fingers, spreading her moisture around, before touching lightly with my tongue. The taste was something I had never imagined, I would never get enough. Next to my head, I could hear the blood moving through her femoral artery, tempting me to bite into the soft skin there to drink a bit before going back to her center. I managed to hold off, wanting to make her scream again first, and then drink from her as she shuddered.

I started to lick a bit harder and then took skin into my mouth and gently sucked and rolled it with my tongue. Her hands grabbed my hair, keeping me in place, as she yelled my name and writhed against my face. I moved my hands under her rear and squeezed the firm flesh there while loving her with my mouth—licking and sucking and nipping with my teeth until she was nearly incoherent with the pleasure of it all. Tiny drops of blood from my grazing bites mingled in with her other juices, and I found myself nearly unmanned by the combination.

She reached her peak again and exploded around me, screaming how good it felt as she quivered and pulsed on my mouth. I brought one hand back around to place my fingers inside her, and then turned my head to her leg and sank my teeth in to drink from the artery I could no longer resist. Hot blood poured into my mouth, and I had to use my other arm to hold her down, her ecstatic movements nearly causing me to lose my bite. Over and over she moaned how much she loved my fingers inside her and my mouth on her leg.

"Drink, Edward, drink. It feels so good, you have no idea," she said. "Never stop—never, ever stop!"

"Love, I'll have to stop eventually, but don't worry; I'll only stop when you ask me to. When you need me to fill you up so badly that you can't stand to wait another second. When you scream at me that you want me inside you; then, I'll stop."

She groaned even louder at my words.

I turned my mouth to her other leg, and slowly sank my teeth into her skin, locking my eyes on hers the whole time so she could see exactly what her body did to me. Keeping my fingers pumping in and around her opening, she had orgasm after orgasm.

Finally, she could take it no longer. "Edward!" she screamed. "Please I need you inside me!"

I removed my mouth from her leg and smirked up at her. "Why, I am inside you, Bella dear." I gave my fingers a little extra wiggle for emphasis.

She snarled; she snarled and it went right to my groin. "Now!" Clearly, she was in no mood for my humor.

I was more than happy to oblige. The bites on her legs were already healed, leaving me free to quickly remove my clothes and then cover her with my body. In a moment of perfect timing, she lifted her hips and wrapped her legs around me before I was completely settled on top of her. Her movements slipped me right inside her, and then I took over, pushing forward to bury myself to the hilt. She was incredibly tight, and I could feel every inch of her squeezing me to the point of rapture.

She dug her fingers into my rear and urged me to move inside her. I started pumping slowly, but quickly increased my thrusts in answer to her commands. She wanted me harder and faster, shouting in my ear to fill her and never stop.

The feeling was incredible, like nothing I'd ever imagined even after seeing it hundreds of times in the minds of others. My whole body felt alive, like every dead nerve and organ had come back to life all at once. The power she gave me over her body was like a drug, a drug designed for me alone, and it was a high I never wanted to come down from.

"Now, bite me, Edward!" she cried.

Her neck was in the perfect spot for me to bite while keeping up my movements inside her. Her blood gushed into my mouth in perfect time with my thrusts, and I could feel her come apart around me as my own precipice came closer. My muscles were tightening and all control was lost. I was hammering into her now; she met me with each and every thrust, ecstasy all over her face which I'm sure was mirrored on my own.

She came again in one final shattering orgasm, and I joined her pulse for pulse, filling her with everything I had to give. I felt as if every molecule in my body had been lit with icy fire as shocking tingles traveled out to all extremities from my chest. In that moment, I knew I could never be separated from this girl again.

Our bodies slowly settled down, and I shifted to lie down beside her, one arm moving to become a pillow under her head while the other lay loosely over her torso, my hand tracing lazy circles around her breasts, unable to take myself completely away from the softness.

"Mm-mm, Edward," she murmured. "That was so amazing. Never felt anything like it. Thank you."

I laughed. "Bella, you have absolutely nothing to thank me for. It was the more pleasure than I ever thought possible for one body to handle, even a vampire body."

"It was certainly more than my body can handle. I need to sleep for a bit." The last was whispered as her eyes drifted closed, and she immediately sank into a deep sleep.

I stayed where I was, watching her rest and stroking her soft body with my hands. She didn't sweat as a human would, but she felt hot all over, which was incredible against my cool skin. I would have been content to stay there for hours when I finally noticed her skin was every bit as white as mine was. The pinkish tone usually present was missing.

I had drank several pints tonight, and while I knew she would be fine, I also knew she'd feel better after feeding—from a human.

I sat up and compulsively ran my hand through my hair as I tried to figure out what I should do. She was sleeping so peacefully beside me after having given me the most incredible gift of herself. I wanted to do something for her. The best gift I could give her would be a human, here, waiting for her when she woke up. She'd be able to feed without having to leave the room. Such an act would go against everything I believed, though.

Continuing to look at her, I had to be honest with myself and admit that she had become more important to me than my ideals. I was losing myself to her; I wasn't sure if that was wrong or something I should try to resist, but after what we had shared, it seemed ridiculous to even try.

Maybe someday, when she had matured a bit, and one human had started to taste much the same as the other, she would consider switching diets. Maybe then we'd be able to go back to my family. Now though, if I stayed with her, if she kept killing humans, I knew I could not go back home.

I had to go talk to my family, if only to say goodbye. On my way back to Bella, I would take a human for her. I would keep that terrified human in our room until Bella woke up, and then, I would offer the human as a sign of my unshakeable bond to her.

I quickly penned a note to Bella letting her know I had to check in with the coven, but that I would be back shortly. I hated to leave her, but I could not enjoy being in her presence until I had this sorted.

It was a pitch-dark, moonless night when I exited the hotel, allowing me to dart quickly through the shadows, making it to the border of town in only a moment. Where the woods met the town, I was able to shift into vampire speed and run back to Forks, back to the family I would be leaving. I ran faster than I ever had before, the speed taking all of my focus, allowing me to block the thoughts of what I was about to do, the heartbreak I was about to cause my sire, my mother, and my siblings.

I second guessed the speed I had used when I made it to the Cullen home sooner than I would have hoped. Inside were the people who, up until now, were the most important in my life. No matter how I justified it in my head, what I was about to do felt like a betrayal.

Quietly entering the house, I saw everyone eagerly awaiting whatever news I had to bring. I took turns looking at each of them, watching the smiles disappear from their faces as they took in the expression I wore on my own.

I knew I could only tell it like it was and hope for some modicum of understanding.

"Well, I know you're all curious, so I'll just get right to it. Bella and I have mated. I can't be apart from her, and she won't change her diet. I'll be leaving the coven tonight. If she changes, well, then hopefully we'll be welcomed back. I understand, though, if that is not an option."

I hated the looks they were giving to me as I spoke. They were very upset, yet all I wanted was to get this over with and get back to Bella.

"Look, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I know you're all unhappy with the situation, and I wish it could be different. She's it for me, though, and you know when you've got one shot for all eternity, you have to take it."

As always, Carlisle was the first to recover from the shock, and his thoughts were only of me and my future.

"Edward, I know you're hurting right now. Of course we'll always welcome you here. Bella, too. Her living here wouldn't work with our lifestyle, but you'll visit, right? We'd want both of you to be a part of this family, even if you don't live here."

His love for me and our family showed through with all of his words, and they only made me more sad that we couldn't stay. I could only hope that, with time, maybe Bella would want to be part of a family more than she wanted to drink from humans.

Esme said nothing but put her arms around me and sobbed without tears.

Alice and Jasper hugged each other and looked at me sadly; we would miss each other greatly.

Rosalie tried to act uncaring, but I could see in her mind she felt my leaving would leave a whole in the family. She would miss me.

And Emmett, my big goof ball of a brother, looked like a kicked puppy as he processed daily life without me there.

"I'm sorry," was all I could say.

Unable to take it anymore, I ran up to my room to grab my things. Not really caring what I took and what I left behind, I simply threw some clothes in a bag and then darted back downstairs. Everyone was still gathered, consoling each other, and I knew they would get through this as a family.

"I'll keep in touch, I promise. Maybe, in time..." I let my voice drift off, not wanting to make any false promises.

I left then, left to the sounds of sobs escaping from Alice, the sounds of Emmett breaking furniture, the sound of Rosalie running upstairs and slamming the door so hard that it came off the hinges—the sound of Esme weeping while Carlisle tried to console her.

Carlisle had frequently tried to convince me that I had a soul. If he was right, I was leaving a part of it behind with all of them.

I took to the woods again, running as fast as before to try clearing my head before going to Bella. It was some consolation that what I was about to do would be nowhere near as difficult as what I had just done. I was numb inside, and the taking of a human life would barely register, other than to be grateful that Carlisle would never know.

Heading back into Port Angeles, I wandered into the rougher part of town. If I was going to do this, I had to do it my way: pick someone who wouldn't be missed, someone the world was better off without.

It wasn't long before my prey made itself known to me. In an alley a couple blocks over, a group of men were terrorizing a young girl. She had gotten lost and separated from her friends. Three of the men were only looking to scare her a bit, have a little fun. The fourth, he intended much worse.

The men had her backed up against a building; the only way out of the alley would be for her to make it past them. Thankful that the night was dark enough to allow me to move without being seen, I scaled the side of a building adjacent to the alley. Reaching the roof, I looked over and saw the men taunting the girl, shoving her back and forth between them. The ringleader, Lonnie, was about done with the game and planning how to convince his friends to step up the action.

I jumped down from the roof and landed soundlessly behind them all, my back toward the blocked part of the alley. I made sure to place my landing in a hidden spot. Coming out from behind the pile of junk, the men were very surprised at my appearance and quick to huddle together, hiding the girl behind them—not to protect her but to keep her from me.

Four was really much more than I needed, and I couldn't let the girl know what I was. Thinking quickly, I decided intimidation was the best tact here. While I was, by design, attractive to my prey, there was also a human instinct that typically warned them that I was something—other. Usually, that warning didn't kick in until too late. I could use that instinct to my advantage here.

Simplicity was key. I calmly walked up to the group, stepped up to Lonnie, and stared at him. As disturbed as I was about what I was doing here, I did get a modicum of enjoyment from his panicked thoughts. At first, they were blustery, wondering who I thought I was and going through ideas of how to make me regret my actions. Then, as I kept staring, he started to get nervous. He thought I might be crazy, making me unpredictable and hard to fight. Finally, it started to sink in. I wasn't crazy, I was dangerous, very dangerous. His thoughts had shifted from that of higher level reasoning to animalistic terror. Even though his brain was flooding with adrenaline, he was too scared for the fight or flight response to work properly, leaving him frozen in front of me.

Confident that he understood his place in our little two person pecking order, I grabbed one of his arms to turn him around then placed my hand on his neck and forced him to walk forward. His friends started to protest, but leveling the same stare on them that I had given Lonnie cured them of any idiotic heroic ideas they might have.

Continuing forward, when I reached the girl, I told her she could go on ahead, and that I would make sure she made it safely to her destination. She was no more comfortable with me than the men but took my help anyway as she felt she had no choice. Her relief was palpable when we reached the restaurant I had seen in her mind, and I gestured for her to go inside. It wasn't until she was almost the door that she thought to wonder how I knew where to bring her. By then, Lonnie and I were already out of speaking range, and she wisely decided to give it up and head in to her friends.

There were a couple times he considered asking me where I was taking him; a strong squeeze to his neck each time convinced him to keep silent. I had no interest in explaining anything to him. As far as I was concerned, he was a dead man walking, a non-entity. It was the only way I could do this thing.

Inside my head, keeping concert with the terror laden thoughts of the psychopath beside me, were the teachings and beliefs my sire had shared with me since my turning. The disappointment I knew he would feel were he aware of my actions this night was difficult for me to bear, and I worked hard to bury his words in the back of my mind and think only of my Bella, hopefully still peacefully asleep and awaiting my return.

We reached the hotel, and I knew that neither the unfortunate individual who held the job of manning the front desk, nor any of the guests of this dubious establishment, would not think twice were they to look out a window and see me carrying a man into a room. They were too jaded to care of such things. Pinching the man's neck in the right spot, he fell instantly into an unconscious state, allowing me to throw him over my shoulder in a fireman's carry without any struggle from him. In this manner, I walked up the stairs, and to the door of my beloved's room.

Listening for any sign of activity, I only heard the same deep breathing from Bella as before I had left. Grateful that she was still asleep, I quietly entered the room and put my gift to her on the floor. He stirred a little but did not wake.

I had been gone almost two hours and in the space of that time had parted ways with a family I had been with for nearly eighty years and betrayed one of my deepest beliefs. Yet in the past five hours, in addition to the aforementioned actions, I had me, and mated with the woman I would spend the rest of eternity with. As intelligent as I was, even I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around all that had changed for me in such a brief time.

As I watched her sleep and wondered how long it would be till she woke up, I gave some thought to what our future would be like. We wouldn't be able to stay here; it was too close to my former coven for comfort. It would be the nomadic life for us, I assumed; there really was no other practical way when there were two vampires to keep fed. If we stayed in one place for too long, we risked stirring up the human population from all the missing persons. Living as a nomad was not something that had ever appealed to me, but I would do it for Bella. I tried very hard to ignore that small part of me that wondered what would she do for me?

It was about another hour before she started to stir, and by then I had grown quite anxious. Her scent was heavy in the room, and I longed to drink from her. I knew part of it was that I actually needed to feed for real, from something that could actually sustain me. Typically, I would be hungering for the human next to me, but would end up hunting for an animal instead. Tonight, her scent drowned out that of the human, yet no animal would take his place.

Her eyes opened and darted around the room before coming to rest on me. She started to smile and lightly sniffed at the same time, recognizing a new scent in the room. Smelling the human, she looked toward where he lay and then back at me. Many expressions crossed her face: hunger, disbelief, surprise, and then gratitude. Tears, human tears, gathered in the corners of her eyes as she recognized the sacrifice I had made for her.

She climbed off of the bed and walked to the chair where I sat, kneeling in front of me and putting her arms around my waist while resting her head in my lap. I stroked the soft, shiny hair that cascaded down her back and whispered, "I love you." over and over as she cried. It wasn't necessary for me to be able to read her mind to know she must be feeling a crushing amount of guilt and relief all at once in response to my offering. I could only hope as time went on and as she matured, that maybe someday she would consider a gift of similar significance for me. My family would be waiting.

A/N: Thanks for reading! I'm not sure if this will get continued or not. I plan to finish my current works in progress and I'm really itching to get into original fiction. I kind of like this one as a stand alone, but it could easily end up as a multi chapter too.