Disclaimer - Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight but we're actually thinking about owning the new 23-disc set that's coming out later this year!
Damage Limitation - The process of trying to limit or curtail the amount of damage or loss caused by a particular situation or event.
I'm fucking done.
I can't stay away from Bella any longer. It's been just over twenty four hours since I left her and I already feel like I'm losing my mind. I was disoriented and confused while I traveled to see Carlisle but now that I've acknowledged my true feelings for Bella - admitted to myself that I love her - my mind is clear and focused. I have to return to Seattle and find Bella. I still don't know how I'm going to tell her what I really am but I have to try.
After thanking Carlisle for his help, I immediately headed back to the city, stopping only to feed. Never in my life have I been so grateful for the incredible speed that goes along with being a vampire. If I had to rely on a plane or car right now, I'm certain I'd be locked in a straightjacket.
I'm not only anxious over telling Bella about being a vampire or that I love her; I'm also worried about her working last night and going after James. I know she's done undercover work before and she's had training, but I'm not sure she realized the danger she's been putting herself in. James is a man of zero conscience. He also believes he's above the law and practically immortal. When you pair those traits with being power-hungry, you have a lethal combination, which, is what Bella willingly faced.
I come to an immediate stop just before heaving the blood from my latest kill out of my mouth and onto a nearby tree. My mind creates images of Bella, hurt and needing me; imagined sounds of her screaming invade my ears and I fall to my knees. Anguish and guilt ripple through my body and I continue to retch while leaning on my hands. How could I have left her to face James on her own? My selfish nature disgusts me and I know the only way I can be at peace is to find Bella and make sure she's unharmed.
Back in Seattle, I head straight for my hotel. I don't know where Bella lives so, before I can look for her, I have to go to my room. I need to clean up, regroup, and come up with some sort of plan.
Walking into the lobby of the Four Seasons, I can't help but remember what it felt like to walk these same marble floors with Bella on my arm, gorgeous and trusting. I squeeze my eyes shut in a weak attempt to control my emotions when the sound of my name surprises me.
I turn toward the voice and open my eyes to see Mr. Newton, the manager of the hotel, rushing over to me.
"Mr. Cullen, good morning!" His bright smile fades when he gets close enough to see the crazed expression that must be covering my face. I see his eyes scan over me, making me realize just how disheveled I must look. I quickly glance at my clothes and see that not only are they filthy, but there are also holes in various locations - like the elbows of my jacket and the knees of my trousers. I also notice a rip in my shirt, through which a couple of my ribs are visible. I really do look like shit.
"Are you all right, sir? Can I get you anything?" he asks.
He's a nice man and I know he's only doing his job. I calmly relax my shoulders and steady my voice before answering, "I'm fine, Mr. Newton. Was there something you needed from me?"
"Oh, no, sir. I mean, I don't need anything from you but I do have something for you." He hands me two items and the scent of Bella crashes over me. I automatically take what he's holding out for me, not looking at them but keeping my eyes on him, waiting for an explanation.
"Miss Bella stopped by yesterday evening and left a note for you," he says, pointing at the envelope in my hand. "And, since you're here so early, I thought I'd personally deliver it along with your morning paper."
Taking every ounce of strength I have to remain passive, I give a quick nod to Mr. Newton and thank him before heading straight to the elevators. Once inside, I carefully tear the envelope holding Bella's words and read. I'm finished too soon so I read it over again.
I know you weren't expecting to hear from me so soon but I feel the need to explain a few things to you; things I was unable to say this morning. It's easier for me to write my feelings down than to say them out loud, I hope you don't mind.
First, I'd like to thank you for everything you did for me during our time together. It may not have been a big deal to you, but the week I spent with you changed my life.
Before you, I'd never worn fancy clothes or eaten at a five-star restaurant. Now, my old clothes feel foreign on my body, like they're a hideous cover of the real me. Before you, I'd never felt truly safe and taken care of. I've always had to provide those things for myself and fallen short. Before you, I'd never experienced an orgasm with a man. Now, I know I only want that with you. No other man will know my body like you do. Before you, I'd only loved two people: my mother and my best friend, Alice. Now, you make number three.
That's right, Edward. I fear that I'm in love with you.
I'm afraid because I still feel like I don't know the real you. I want to. I want to know everything about you, even the things you are afraid to share with me because I know you have secrets. I'm also afraid that you don't feel the same for me and how hard it'll be for me to move on. Mostly, I'm afraid that I won't get the chance to move on. Tonight is when I plan on taking James down and I don't know if I'm just nervous or what, but I have a bad feeling. I don't mean to make you worry. I don't expect anything from you; I only want you to know how I feel about you. If anything happens to me tonight, at least I'll know that I was able to give you a small fraction of what you truly deserve: love and acceptance.
By the time I've reached my door and opened it, I've read Bella's note no less than 10 times and I'm still processing her words.
She loves me?
She accepts me?
She knows I have secrets and she wants to know what they are?
My unbeating heart wants to believe so fucking badly but my brain still won't let me trust her words. It simply can't be; I'm living the perfect example of something that's too good to be true.
But, what if?
What if Bella's note is sincere? She has no reason to be dishonest and I don't fault her for telling me of her feelings on paper rather than in person. Yesterday morning I wasn't in any position to listen to her after she kissed me and I most certainly wouldn't have believed her. Knowing how I usually react to things that surprise or upset me, I'm sure I would've lashed out at her, scaring her away for good. I wouldn't be holding her precious note in my hand right now, either.
I look at it once more and notice the morning newspaper being held under my arm. I'd completely forgotten that Mr. Newton had given it to me; I'd been purely focused on the note.
I drag my weary body to the sofa, tossing the paper onto the coffee table before sitting down. I'm not ready to put the note down. The words are tattooed in my brain and in my soul, for eternity; I don't really need the piece of paper but it's the only physical thing I have of Bella right now, and I'm not letting it go any time soon.
Without meaning to, my eyes glance at the morning headlines. I normally only read the business section but I seem to be pulled to the front page for some reason. The newspaper looks like it does every day with one exception. Up at the top right corner, where other people would more than likely never look, are five words that make my blood turn colder than it already is:
"PROSTITUTE KILLED IN UNDERCOVER STING"
I nearly rip the paper to shreds in my haste to find the article so I can get as much information as possible. Words like "hooker", "undercover", and "blonde" make my vision blur but it's when I read quotes from Jake Black and Garrett Lee that speak of sorrow for the loss of their co-worker, who will remain anonymous until loved ones are contacted, that I see only white.
White, because there is nothing.
Bella is gone forever and there's no reason for me to exist any longer. I only thought my so-called life was meaningless before but now there isn't any desire whatsoever to try and make my existence bearable. I see nothing. I hear nothing. I feel nothing but a simmer, a slight flicker of emotion that makes my fingers twitch.
I'm a statue, slowly burning as that unnamed emotion slowly crawls throughout my body. Minutes pass by, maybe hours, before the fire settles in every tissue, filling the marrow of my bones. I'm shaken to my core as my vision turns red, giving the emotion its name.
An enraged growl erupts from my mouth and, within seconds, the sofa I was sitting on is by my feet, shredded to pieces. Glass is shattered, wood is splintered, and everything in between is completely destroyed. Just like me.
The annihilation of my room does nothing to soothe me. I need more. I need blood but no animal could ever be the balm my soul needs. I can think of two humans who might be able to give me some sort of satisfaction, though.
Jake and Garrett.
Bella's co-workers. FBI agents. They should've protected her. They were the only ones who could've saved her without me there.
They need to pay for failing.
I barely register the ringing of my cell phone in my pocket but, even as I stroll out of the hotel, it's still going off so I reluctantly answer it.
Before I can say anything, though, I hear McCarty's voice booming through the small electrical device.
"Edward! Where the fuck are you?!"
"I can't talk right now, McCarty, I'm busy," I reply, as calmly as I can. McCarty is not fooled; he knows I'm barely hanging onto my sanity.
"You've seen today's paper, then."
"Don't do anything you'll regret, Edward. We don't know for sure it's her," he reasons.
"Who else could it fucking be?! There are people who need to pay for Bella's death and I won't rest until that's done." I hang up on him and turn my phone off. Deep down I know he means well, but I can't let him distract me from what I need to do.
I don't know where the hell I am. I barely notice the odd looks people on the street are giving me but they're of no concern to me. Fuck them! I dare someone to approach me.
I hold back the groan of frustration building up in my chest, pulling on my hair instead. I have no plan. I just want to find someone who would know more about Bella and what happened last night. I'm even more pissed at myself because I don't know where she lives. If I wasn't such a selfish bastard I'd have asked her but, no, I'm a prick. I was too worried about protecting myself while taking everything Bella could give me, even though I gave her nothing in return.
I don't deserve her and I never will.
I feel the rage build in me again and I can't hold it back. I don't want to hold it back. I want to rip, bite, claw, and destroy.
I grab the first human I can get my hands on and pull him into an alley. My eyes are unfocused but I know it's a man. He's heavy, thick even, and his heartbeat is deeper than a woman's. I throw him against a brick wall and cover his mouth with my hand, blocking all sound coming from him. I smell him. He has fear seeping through his pores but I don't care. I feel his blood rushing through his veins, causing venom to collect in my mouth. He's not the one I want; he's not Jake or Garrett or James. He's a mere substitute, an appetizer, if you will.
This one isn't a personal kill so I don't look him in the eyes. I roughly push his face to the side, making his neck an easy target. The man is whimpering and struggling against me but he knows he has no power over me. The fight has left his body and he's given up. His cowardly acceptance of his fate almost disgusts me; he's made this too easy for me. Just like I made it too easy for Bella to leave me.
Just thinking of her name makes the pain in my chest unbearable but I need it. I covet the pain. It's what I deserve for being the monster that I am.
My teeth are less than an inch from my victim's vein when I feel my back hit the opposite wall, my body sliding to the ground. Looking up in surprise, I see my sister glaring at me.
"What the hell are you doing here, Rose?"
"I'm stopping you from being an idiot!"
I look over at the man I was about to devour and see McCarty break his neck in one move and toss his lifeless body in a nearby dumpster.
"What the fuck, McCarty! You just wasted him! You could've let me drink from him, at least!"
Rosalie's open palm connects with my cheek before she yells at me. "I will not let you kill a human, Edward! Not over her!" she spits at me. "If we let you kill a human, you won't stop. I know you better than anyone else, brother. Even if you get your revenge, it'll never be enough. You'll kill until you've destroyed most of the pacific northwest and I can't let that happen. I like it here, Edward, as much as I can like anything. I have a life here with McCarty and I won't let you ruin it over some human girl! You owe me!"
"You don't understand! Bella's gone; she's dead. Nothing matters anymore. I'm already savage so I'm going to live like one!"
Rose slaps me again but I don't care; I barely feel it.
"Stop being such a dramatic asshole! You don't even know if Bella's really dead or not!"
When my eyes meet those that belong to my sister and she sees the true desperation in them, her body slumps in defeat. "Edward, I know where Bella lives."
I look at her in confusion so she continues. "I had to check her out. I knew you were falling for her. What's a sister supposed to do?" She gives me a small smile but I don't return it. "Look, let's go and see if she's at the apartment. If she's not, maybe her friend, Alice, will know where she is." Rosalie stares at me for a long time before speaking again. When she does speak, her voice is low and I know she's serious.
"If Bella's really dead, I won't try to stop you from doing what you originally planned."
My voice is equally low. "If Bella is really dead, Rosalie, I want you to kill me."
Jenny Kate: *dun dun dun*
Jiff: Serious business, right there, Vampward!
Jenny Kate: I feel like this is another chapter where we shouldn't say too much, but I can't wait to hear what our readers have to say!
JIff: I'm kinda skeered, to be honest.
Jenny Kate: Me, too! At least we have each other. *bites nails*
Jiff: *grabs your hand like Thelma and Louise*
Jenny Kate: We need to change our avi's. STAT. Who's Thelma and who's Louise?
Jiff: I don't know! Which one slept with Brad Pitt?!
Jenny Kate: Wasn't that Geena Davis' character? She's a redhead! I call shotgun!
Jiff: They're both redheads! That fits nicely with our fb profile pics, huh?
Jenny Kate: SO freakin' perfect! It's like kismet or fate or something like that.
JIff: Let's hurry and post this chapter so we can change them!
Jenny Kate: We'd like to give mad props to our beta, Mauigirl60! She makes our words better. We'd also like to thank all of you for reading and rec'ing and reviewing! We love you guys! If you have a second and you haven't already, would you mind hopping over to (yes, it's "teh") and vote for Bella Donna on the Fic of the Week poll? You guys are awesome! *MWAH*