Update: January 13th, 2012
Huge thanks to my Wonder Women - Beta-goddess, Irritable_Grizzzly, and Sprinkle-Queen, Vican.
Teeth cut into me, and my instincts went into overdrive. Without thinking, I shoved with all my might. A body catapulted away, and I pressed a hand to my neck as I scrambled to my feet to face my attacker.
"Jessica," I said as I was hit with an adrenaline overload that made me shake. "You don't want to do this. I know you're thirsty, but you need to calm down."
Her bite wound was healing beneath my finger, and even though the venom stung like hell, at least it wasn't spreading. One of the advantages of wolf blood rejecting venom, I guessed.
"I can't calm down," she said and screwed up her face. "I've tried to like animal blood, but I can't. It's so sour. I could smell you from over at the lake. You smell so sweet. I want you."
Sweet? The human blood Carlisle had transfused must have taken away the stench and taste of the wolf blood. This wasn't good.
"Jess, stop," Jacob said and stepped between us. He glanced at me. "She was downwind. I didn't smell her."
I kept my focus on the snarling vampire. "Me neither."
"Get out of my way, Jake," she said, dropping into a crouch.
"You know I can't do that."
"Fine. I'll go around you."
In a flash, she was on me again. She tried to get her arms around me, but I shoved her hard in the chest, and once again, she flew backward, even farther this time. I was surprised by my strength. I wasn't, however, surprised by how much pain using my muscles to their full capability fucking hurt.
Jess snarled and landed on her feet as I fell into a defensive crouch. My legs hated the crouch, but I needed be prepared for another attack. I almost laughed as I registered that Jess and I were two very different newborns facing off against each other. In terms of mobility, she got the better end of the deal.
Jacob advanced on Jessica slowly, his hands in front of him.
"Jess, come on. Don't do it. Let me take you back into the forest. We'll get you a nice bear. Sam saw some near the northern range this morning. Big ones. They'll put up a decent fight. Right now, Edward doesn't pose any challenge to you."
I was offended before I remembered he was trying to protect me. Plus, as much as I'd like to think I had enough power and experience to take Jess in a fight, I had no idea if I could. Shoving her off me was an achievement in itself, but it had taken all my energy. Still, I tried to look imposing, even if the effort of staying upright was almost beyond me.
Jessica eyed Jake, conflicted and tense, but her thoughts contained affection toward him.
"Please," she said as venom dripped from the corner of her mouth. "He smells delicious, and I'm so thirsty. You don't even understand how much it burns."
"I know you're thirsty," he said. "But if you bite him again, I'll have to hurt you, and I really don't want to do that. Okay?"
How ironic that he was protecting a post-vampire human from a post-human vampire.
Jessica gazed at me, and I recognized the conflict in her expression. The beast was whispering to her. Overriding her humanity with clawing, acidic hunger. She looked between Jacob and me and grunted in frustration. I knew exactly what she was thinking. She wanted nothing more than to tear out my throat and revel in my blood, but she didn't want to want it.
Vampirism really was a major mind-fuck.
She was still crouched, ready to pounce. If she decided to attack, I wasn't sure Jake could phase in time to save me. I was nervous. Something I hadn't been for a very long time.
She looked at me with murky maroon eyes before focusing on my neck. Her bloodlust was so strong, it made my mouth water in sympathy. Fear prickled my spine, and I stopped breathing.
Is this how Isabella used to feel when I was on the verge of losing control? How hideous it must have been.
"Come on, Jess," Jake said, still advancing on her. "Come with me. The sun will be setting soon. We'll have a nice afternoon together."
He placed his hand on her shoulder. She snarled for a second and shook him off, but he touched her again, gentle but determined, and she calmed a little.
"It's okay. Just relax. You can do this." He grabbed her other shoulder, and she straightened a little more. Then he stepped in and wrapped his arms around her. She fought for a moment before she closed her eyes and hugged him back. He locked his hands, but I wasn't confident he could hold her if she really wanted to get away. At least her thoughts indicated she was slowly regaining control.
"Edward's leaving now, okay?" Jake said. "You're not going to chase him."
She groaned then said, "Okay. But you'll come with me to hunt, won't you?"
I straightened up to leave just as Rose burst out of the forest and screeched to a halt. She took in Jake hugging Jess and me standing a short distance away with blood still glistening on my neck.
"I'm so sorry," she said. "She got away from me. I should have taken her farther away from the house. By the time I realized what she was doing, she was gone. Goddamn newborn speed."
"It's okay," Jake said, still using his soothing voice. "She stopped herself, didn't you, Jess? She was really strong." Jess tightened her arms, and Jake groaned. "Ah, a little too strong. Ouch."
She let go and stepped back. "Sorry, Jake." Then she gave me a guilty look. "And sorry for biting you, Edward."
I wiped my neck. The skin was still tingling, but it was pretty much healed. "It's fine. I know how it feels to struggle with control, believe me, and I appreciate you not eating me."
She gave me a small nod, but the tension in her posture told me that if Jake wasn't here, she'd do her best to suck me dry. Jake must have noticed too, because he took her hand and led her away.
"Okay, let's get you some nice bear, huh? Yum!"
Jess gave a resigned sigh as they disappeared into the woods.
"Well, now I've officially seen everything," Rose said, shaking her head. "I thought it was bad enough when my vampire brother fell in love with his food. But a vampire and a werewolf crushing on each other? What the hell happened to being vicious natural enemies?"
I smiled. "Times are a-changing, Rose."
"Yeah, I guess. But can we trust him with her? I mean, he won't go all deranged Pit-Bull and hurt her, will he?"
"Not if she behaves herself. I think it's more than likely she'll jump his bones and hurt him. And I'm pretty sure he'd enjoy it."
Rose shuddered. "Gross."
My intuition told me that when Jessica reclaimed her humanity, Jacob wouldn't be lonely for much longer. He was already feeling strangely drawn to her, and her to him. Her humanity would mean a whole new world for them.
"You actually look happy for him," Rose said, sounding vaguely disgusted.
I shrugged. I guessed I was. I got to have my happy ever after with the girl of my dreams. Who was I to deny anyone else?
"Getting soft in your old age, big brother?"
I thought about my frequent painful erections. "If only."
"Had enough of almost being eaten for one day?"
"Want to go back inside?"
I grabbed my shirt off the ground and wiped my neck clean.
I was aching, tired, and hungry. And without the distraction of Jessica trying to kill me, my need for Isabella expanded, making my stomach turn. It gurgled loudly. Rose winced.
"What the hell was that?"
"That's what you have to look forward to when you turn human, sweet sister. Stomachs are a bit like Alice – loud and demanding."
"With the amount of food you shove in your mouth, you'd think your stomach would have nothing to complain about."
"Stomachs are like Emmett. They always have something to complain about."
"Hey! Stop comparing stomachs to people. It's creepy."
"Stomach are like Rose. At first they seem like a good idea, but then -"
"Finish that sentence and I rip out your still-beating heart."
"- they're lovely and pretty and non-violent towards their adoptive siblings."
She glared at me.
"I said pretty."
"I'm not 'pretty', Edward. I'm goddamn beautiful, okay?"
I flashed her a smile. She growled at me.
"See? Now you sound just like my stomach."
"Your stomach is like you. Obnoxious."
"Well, my obnoxious stomach is telling me I need to eat."
"Again? You ate, like, an hour ago."
"What can I say? I'm a growing boy."
"Yeah, about that ... how much taller are you going to get? Because the oxygen up there must be getting kind of thin."
"Has Bella gotten any taller?"
"A little. Carlisle thinks the wolf blood is affecting me a little differently because of my vampire physiology, so she hasn't grown as much. But it's not like I'm going to play for the NBA. It's only been a couple of inches."
"It just looks like more because you have proper muscles now."
I exhaled in frustration. "Why the hell do people keep saying that? I had muscles before!"
"Not like these."
I threw up my hands in defeat.
Rose laughed. "Emmett's getting insecure. The other day he pondered buying a measuring tape to make sure his biceps are still bigger than yours."
"I've seen Emmett naked. He really doesn't want to be comparing us with any type of measuring device."
"You really want me to pound on you, don't you?"
"Pfft. I just fought off a newborn. Pretty sure I can take my geriatric sister."
Rose punched me in the arm. I may have squeaked.
"Personally," she said, hooking her arm through mine, "I hope I get heaps taller after the change. My height was the one thing that always held me back from being the world's oldest supermodel."
"Sure. And that you despise having your photo taken."
"Yeah, that, too."
We wandered back inside. When I climbed the stairs, I was surprised to find it was a little easier.
Esme had left a large salad for me in the fridge, and I ate it with gusto. Rose watched in slightly appalled fascination.
"Vegetables are freaking loud."
I crunched on raw carrot and cucumber. Everything burst with flavor. After surviving for so long on an unappetizing liquid diet, the texture of the food was just as much of a revelation as the taste. I loved how my teeth cut and ground. It was immensely satisfying.
After lunch, Rose grudgingly went to hunt, and Carlisle asked me to join him in the basement. My journey down the stairs was painful but bearable. Carlisle watched with quiet patience.
"You okay?" he said when I reached the bottom.
He inspected my neck. "Doesn't seem to be any scarring from Jessica's teeth. I'm impressed you were able to push her away."
"You heard that whole altercation, didn't you?"
"Yes. Alice called to warn you a few seconds before it happened, but she was too late."
"Didn't think about helping your son fend off the hungry newborn vampire?"
He waved his hand. "I knew you could handle it. Plus, Jake was there. He had everything under control."
"Under control? He let her bite me!"
"I had faith the two of you could handle it."
I narrowed my eyes. "You chose not to help because you were busy doing experiments, weren't you?"
He gave me a guilty look and examined some test tubes. "That had nothing to do with anything."
"Although if I had left my experiments, I wouldn't have found some interesting discoveries in your blood and skin samples."
"You're deficient in vitamins D, C, and B. Dangerously so. And while I'd suspected your myalgia was inflammatory in nature, I had to rule out the possibility of it stemming from a post-change metabolic myopathy. Thanks to my 'experiments', I've now ruled that out."
I remembered enough of my medical training to understand that if my pain turned out to be a genetic biochemical storage disorder, I'd never be free of it. Ruling it out gave me some sense of relief. "Well, then, 'experiments' be praised."
He paused for a moment and tapped his chin. "Remind me to question Jessica later about how you tasted."
"Well, we know that undiluted wolf blood tastes repugnant to vampires. I wonder how hybrid blood tastes."
"Can't you just take a sip when you do my next blood test?"
He screwed up his face. "Squirt blood into my mouth from a syringe? I don't think so."
"Oh, so tearing out the throat of an animal is acceptable, but sipping delicately from a sterilized piece of medical equipment is distasteful to you? I see."
He laughed. "Son, I haven't drunk human blood in all my years. I don't intend to start now."
"But I'm not purely human. I'd have thought you'd be fascinated to find out how my blood affects vampires. There may be unexpected results, and I know how much you love that sort of thing."
He stopped what he was doing and stared at me. Specifically, at my neck. "Hmmm. I hadn't thought of that. And to be honest, you do smell ... appealing." He stared for a few more seconds before shaking his head and swallowing. "Maybe in the future when I know more. For the time being, we need to get your new physiology under control."
"Of course, my nutrient deficiencies. What's the treatment, Doctor Cullen?"
He opened the fridge and took out some vials. "First of all, take off your pants."
"Uh huh. Considering Bella won't be home until tomorrow night, don't really see how that's going to help."
"It'll allow me to inject this rather large dose of anti-inflammatory medication into your aching thigh."
"Oh. Well, you should have said that in the first place."
I pulled off my pants and sat on the gurney in my underwear. Carlisle administered the injection then picked up another syringe.
"This is a potent cocktail of vitamins and minerals. It will help your body get back on its feet, so to speak, after being deprived of nutrients for so long."
"Surely my diet is helping replenish nutrients. I'm eating lots of stuff. Delicious stuff."
"Yes, but diet alone will be a slow process. This booster will speed things along. Your time in the sun today will have also helped. You should do that every day until your vitamin D increases."
He injected my other thigh and handed me two specimen jars. "Oh, and I'd like some samples of waste matter when you get a chance. Both urinary and fecal."
He nodded and smiled.
I took the jars. "You get way too excited about this stuff, you know? It's creepy."
"What can I say, son? I find every aspect of your new biology absolutely fascinating. Even the unsavory ones. Plus, the more I know about the pitfalls and challenges facing you, the better I'll be able to prepare the rest of us when the time comes."
"You're saying I need to suffer pain and indignity so the rest of you won't have to?"
"Basically. You're the world's biggest lab rat, and you're all mine." He made an attempt at an evil laugh. It sounded eerily similar to his regular laugh.
I rolled my eyes and headed toward the bathroom. "You're never going to get sick of all these new experiments, are you?"
"Not for several hundred years, no."
"Assuming I live that long."
"I think it's a pretty safe bet. As long as you learn to drive like you're no longer indestructible."
I stopped at the bathroom door and turned to him. "Exactly how destructible am I?"
A tremor of mortality prickled my spine. After being virtually un-killable for so long, the concept of dying was kind of hard to grasp.
Carlisle shrugged. "Well, you rely on your heart to stay alive, so you can be killed. But at the same time, your regenerative properties would make it extremely difficult for you to be damaged beyond repair. Maybe we'll call you semi-immortal. Seems the best descriptor until we know more."
I scratched my face. My scruff was getting long. Not having to shave was the only good thing about Bella's absence. "Semi-immortal, huh? I like it."
"Don't forget those fascinating waste samples," Carlisle said happily as he turned back to his computer.
My good mood immediately soured.
I closed the bathroom door and proceeded to do things that no self-respecting semi-immortal should have to deal with.
She was torturing me. Well, I'd asked her to, but still. My pain level was rising in direct relations to the hardness in my pants. And yet, I didn't want her to stop.
"Say it again."
"You're in pain."
"Doesn't matter. Hearing it gives me pleasure, and God knows I need some pleasure right about now."
"Fine. I want to lick you. All over. But before that can happen, I want your stupid pain to be gone." I could almost hear her pouting. It made me smile.
"I want it gone, too. I also want you here, naked, and doing filthy things with your beautiful mouth. But considering that's not possible, please talk dirty to me."
"You're so easily pleased."
"And you're extremely pleasing."
"Do you want me to tell you all the things I'm going to do to you when I get home? All the places on your body I'm going to rub myself?"
"Rub yourself? Oh ... hell ... yes ..."
"I've been fantasizing about you the whole time. How your new body feels under my hands. How you smell. And taste. You have no idea how horny I get just thinking about you. It's pretty mortifying considering I've been spending so much time with Dad."
"Not sure if you've done this dirty talk thing before, but a helpful hint is never, ever mention your father."
She laughed. "Did I de-bone you?"
"Not a chance. However, picturing your father while I'm aroused may scar me for life."
"Then picture me."
"Gladly. What are you wearing?"
"A cheeky smile."
"Nothing. Not a stitch." Oh, dear God. "If you were here you could touch me anywhere. Everywhere. I really want you to touch me everywhere."
I moaned, partly because thinking about touching Bella was arousing beyond words, and partly because hot needles of pain shot through my erection.
"You okay?" she asked. "That sounded like a semi-bad moan."
"It was, but I'm fine. Keep going." When she didn't, I said, "Please, Bella."
"Do you really need me to tell you how much I want you?"
"Want me, how?"
Her voice got breathier. More wanton. "Inside me. Thrusting. Filling me."
What those words did to me. The plastic around my phone creaked as my grip tightened, and I pressed a pillow against my groin to relieve the ache.
"I know we'll have to wait until your pain is gone, but ... God, Edward. I want it so much it keeps me up at night."
This was something we had in common.
"Only forty-eight hours to go," I said like I wasn't already half insane with separation anxiety.
"Forty-eight hours too long."
We were silent for a few moments, and the pain in my chest from missing her almost eclipsed my other pain. I pressed my hand over my heart and felt the thick, unsteady thud of it. Just like the rest of me, it needed her.
"It's getting late," she said while stifling a yawn. "You'd better get some rest."
I hated to admit it, but she was right. I was still developing a consistent sleep pattern, but already I could feel myself beginning to fade. "I guess. You, too."
"Yeah, Dad wants to leave by 6.30am."
"He says all the dangerous drivers hit the roads after ten, and he wants to get some decent miles behind us before that happens."
"Well, if it means getting you home sooner, I approve."
"Oh, believe me, I'll be driving as fast as I can. Or at least as fast as Dad lets me. Would be kind of embarrassing if he arrested me for speeding."
I laughed. Lord, I adored her. "Please be safe, leadfoot."
"I will. You, too. And tell Jess if she touches you again, I'm going to rip out her throat."
"I'd like to see that. In a non-fatal kind of way, of course."
"I can't guarantee non-fatal. I'm starting to embrace my new wolf strength, and while I might not top her newborn abilities, I'd sure as hell compensate with some very nasty hair-pulling. She'd better back off my man."
"All this possessive talk is doing nothing to relieve my erection. You know that, right?"
"I do, and I'm sorry. But not really. You're mine. And I'm yours. It's that simple."
"Yes, it is." My heart hurt again, but this time in a good way. "I love you, Bella."
"I love you, too. Talk to you tomorrow."
"You will. Night."
The moment she hung up, I had the strongest urge to jump in my car and drive until I got to her. I could do it. If I didn't stop to eat, sleep, relieve myself, or refuel I could be there in around twenty-one hours. Screw father-daughter time. I needed Edward and Bella time. Lots of it. Preferably for the rest of my indeterminately long life.
I sighed and turned off my bedside lamp.
But first, I needed eight to ten hours of sleep. And a decent breakfast. And a warm shower. And several hundred milligrams of hospital-strength pain relief.
Being human was so high maintenance.
I loved it.
Almost as much as I loved her.
Sooooo, you know how I said this sequel would be around 10 chaps long? Yeah, pretty sure that's not going to happen. Windowward has been exceedingly chatty, so I guess this is just going to be as long as it needs to be to shut him up. Maybe 20 chaps. Hope that's okay.
I may be going away next weekend so the update could be delayed for a few days. Depends on wifi availability in rural areas. *crosses fingers*
If you have a moment to let me know your thoughts, I'd find that extremely sexy. Just sayin'.
Thanks for reading.