Chapter 13 Balancing As I sped down the winding road I knew what lay ahead for me. My home.

As the woods thinned out I knew what I had to face. My family. I’m sure Rosalie had informed them all in her own colourful words of my recent revelations to this human girl. The human girl that she could never be. The human girl that had been materialised out of my own personal hell. The human girl that was my punishment for being a monster. The human girl who’s delectable scent still lingered with me. The human girl… Bella that actually had accepted the fiend beside her for the entire day. Bella who’s touch had not been a mistake on my ice cold hands. Bella… As I parked in the garage I shot a side glance at the red car next to me. Any happiness from the day had gone. I had left it on Bella’s doorstep as I drove away only a short while ago. In hope she’d keep it safe, and welcome just as she had today. NO! I growled to myself. No. I hope she doesn’t welcome it into her home. For her own good. She deserves better than me. I locked the car and just as I thought everyone, except Alice, was waiting for me. Their thoughts reached me before I had even walked through the door. The loudest was the string of profanities from Rosalie. Then Jasper’s quiet laughter. My father had a confused sense of relief in his eyes but his thoughts were worried. I mirrored his worries. About my sanity. Maybe Emmett’s right. I thought Maybe I am losing it. Esme looked like she would have tears of joy if she could. Her thoughts were a buzzing humming song. A dance of happiness and the only words I could catch were She’s special, son. ‘’Oh crap, common ref’’ Emmett boomed from next to the TV before silently adding; You started this so you deal with Rose now. ‘’Did you want to talk, Edward?’’ Carlisle asked me in a tone that would be used on someone who’d just recently lost his mind. I stared blankly at him, ignoring Rosalie’s glare, trying to concentrate on his thoughts. The same ones he had on the night I had taken him back to Port Angeles to show him those… I felt anger seep into me… those brutes. My fury trickled down my arms and to my hands. I clenched them into fists as if to stop it from leaking further. Causing any more damage. Justifying the fact I was not good enough for her. I tried to see through the haze and listen again to Carlisle’s thoughts. Edward, she’s special. Esme thinks so too. Look at the effect she’s having on you. I loosened my firsts slightly. The change that we all see in you is absolute. Turning back from this now would only hinder everything you are and everything you have worked to be. Unexpectedly lost focus on his thoughts and snapped my head up at Rose. My fury hadn’t completely waned yet and she had just ignited it higher. I growled at her unsaid words and her smug smile told me that this is the reaction she had wanted from her sick thoughts. Thoughts of taking a pure innocent life of a girl who was only a danger to herself. ‘’How typically Rose. You should…’’ My words fell short as I dropped to my knees and cried out ‘’NO! No. Not, Bella, No.’’ Blood soak through her clothes, from her still, now lifeless cold body. Turning whiter. I couldn’t stand to look. I threw my hands over my eyes but vision still plagued me and I let another cry of agony slip from my mouth. The pain was unbearable. As if my heart was trying to rip through my chest. Like it had come


alive and started to beat only so I could feel it breaking inside me. The ache was almost too much… Another cry left my mouth as I saw myself beside her. Bloody hands and lips. A smile on my monster’s face ‘’STOP THAT, ROSE’’ I heard Alice say in a final tone. ‘’Pathetic’’ Rosalie answered and the visions ceased and I heard her footsteps going out the door. I got up in a quick, lithe movement and before I could follow her I felt Emmett’s heavy hand was on my shoulder. ‘’Cool down, kid. I’ll talk to her’’ his voice was low and concluding. ‘’I wasn’t going to talk to her’’ I murmured to him. Alice was at Emmett’s side now and she gave a indifferent look. I scoffed at her but Emmett was already following Rosalie’s footsteps out the door without another response. Alice slowly turned to look up at me ‘’ I don’t have to guess what she was thinking’’ she whispered to me ‘’But Edward if you only could…’’ ‘’Not now Alice’’ I cut her off abruptly still trying to control my irritation. I turned on my heel and as I darted towards the stairs I gave Carlisle and Esme a small, discarded look. Within a second I was inside my room hearing the door close behind me as I went to stand by the grand window. I tried to block out all thoughts but instead was greeted by an unwelcome intruder Almost tasted that blood, her sent the ruby pouring from her the brute whispered from within. At that moment my throat was set aflame and I closed my eyes imagining, welcoming the venom filling my mouth. I shot open my eyes and reached in my pocket for the bottle cap and as I touched it I felt the flames from my throat subside and move to where she had touched my hand. A fire that I could stand. The heat still unchanged Without a seconds thought I went to turn on my music system in hope to drown out the bloody thoughts completely. As music filled the room I mindlessly started to hum out of tune. No, not out of tune… The quiet lullaby of the beautiful sleeping girl drowned out the music in my own head. Not long before I could see her again. Of course she didn’t know this. I could imagine her face if she found out that I watched her sleep. She would go running and leave Forks for good. Part of me hoped for that. For her sake. Only for her sake. There was a quiet knock on the door and before I could tell her to go away Alice let herself in. I turned to gaze at her as I slid the bottle cap back into my pocket. ‘’You’re going to see her again tonight aren’t you’’ she said morosely. I sighed ‘’What do you want, Alice?’’ She smiled at my failed attempt to sound aloof. ‘’Well…’’ She started walking towards me ‘’I think it’s very unfair that you’re keeping my future best friend all to yourself’’ She whined. I rolled my eyes and turned back to looking out of the window. ‘’Your future is becoming more solid, Edward’’ She continued ‘’Every time I have a flash of Bella Sawn being hurt, that hazy image is quickly replaced by a much more solid one of her… with you. Always with you’’


Of course she would be with me. I was her protector. For now. For as long as it was justifiable. In my head. Or until she runs from me, screaming as she goes I thought less hopefully. ‘’What do you want, Alice?’’ I repeated for lack new of words. ‘’Nothing right now’’ She began in a mischievous tone ‘’I can see you’re aren’t ready for that yet.‘’ Then her voice became serious ‘’But the more you try and run from her, the more you can’t. So why not just stop, Edward. Stop and just accept…’’ ‘’…that I might kill her one day’’ I finished for her. ‘’No’’ She said is a louder more sarcastic tone. I saw her eyes narrow in the reflection of the window and I let my head drop. She was standing next to me now. ‘’ You won’t do that. And you know it. You would have done it already if that was the to be, Edward. And I was going to say that you need to accept her as part of your life now.’’ I said nothing. ‘’And mine’’ She added quietly ‘I have to go’’ I said abruptly. I didn’t even wait for her response as I ran out of the house. Racing through the woods as fast as possible. I was halfway to her house when I realised the irony of it all. I should be running away from Bella Swan. Not towards her. Running far far away from her. Leaving her to a life she was worthy of. Not obliterating it with every stride I took. It’s as if I had no control over myself. Right and wrong. It was all a chaotic blur. Completely tangled with one other. Just like Bella and I. Two opposites that were being thrown together. She was right, beautiful and pure. I was wrong, monstrous and tainted. I stopped my thoughts in front of her house. My mind was telling my body that each step I was taking was wrong and I should turn back. But that voice was fading the closer I got to her room. I quietly slipped through the window and just as if she knew, she welcomed me through her slumber with a light mummer of my name. All the happiness was back. She bought it inside with her. It was here in her room. I stood very still and waited for her stirring to ease while saying my name over and over. It felt like I was home. This is wrong. So wrong. I growled. I waited another moment before I heard her steady breathing. Relaxed now I was conflicted between walking towards her or going to take my usual place on the rocking chair. No more mistakes I reminded myself The rocking chair won. As I sat there her scent swirled all around me. Encroaching me all over again. But it was getting a lot easier, even the monster was quiet. I wanted to go over and stroke her cheek. Just to feel her soft, warm skin for one last time. And then again for the last time. And again… I was weak and greedy when it came to Bella. I just wanted more and I knew I wouldn’t… Couldn’t stop myself.


Before I knew it I was walking over to her bed slowly and was about to reach over to caress the side of her face when she stirred again. This time much more than before. She was awake! I threw myself on the floor and lay very still. Oh no! Did I wake her? Not only was interfering with her everyday life I was disrupting her sleep as well now. Yes I was greedy. Happy now? I thought to myself angrily Bella sat up in her bed and rubbed her eyes. I tried to slide under bed discreetly in case she got out. At that moment I remembered what Rose had said. ‘’Pathetic’’ This truly was pathetic. I shouldn’t even be here. I heard her slump back down and I very quickly and quietly shifted to a shadow near the corner of the room. I should have gone out the window. But all logic, all reason was beyond me now. Bella could wake up and see me right here and I wasn’t even thinking about leaving anytime soon. I shook my head. And I thought she needed to be in a facility for her health? She tossed around some more. She really wasn’t peaceful this night. I wanted very much to lay next to her. To hold her. To ease whatever agitation that wasn’t allowing her to sleep. But I would probably just make it worse. Throw her dreams of me into nightmares. As right they should be. A monster like me had no place in the dreams of an angel‘s creation. I had to leave her room right this moment. I looked at the window. ‘’Edward?’’ She said in a questioning tone. I froze. Had she really seen me? Was I really being so careless? She whispered my name again and threw her arm over her covers and encircled them with a small smile on her face. I was undone. Sleep my sweet Bella. Sleep. I thought. And I let my back slide down the edge of the wall as I made preparations to watch her sleep until the sun disturbed me.


Chapter 14 - Division It had been only less than an hour since I slid out of Bella’s window and raced through the forest to get to my home. I had freshened up and changed for school. Funny I had never been eager for school before but Bella had abruptly changed that. She was changing more than just that though. I signed and shook off the thoughts. Alice threw me the keys of my Volvo. As I caught it she gave me a solemn look and put her hands on her hips. She didn’t have to say anything. Or even think it for me to know what she wanted. I wasn’t yet rinsed of my blissful mood so instead of answering her and ruining the day before it began; I looked down and walked towards the back of the house. Rosalie was already at her car. Thankfully her vanity was my saviour today. All she could think about was whether or not to give her shiny car a once over before parading it in school today. Oh not riding with us again, Edward? Emmett asked me. I turned around to look at him walking into the garage with Jasper close behind him holding Alice‘s hand. Her face still had the pout firmly in place. I said nothing but my mood was souring pretty quickly. Giving them all a quick icy look, to silence their judgments, I climbed into my car and backed out of the drive. My mood started to lift slowly the closer I got to Bella’s house. Closer to having her near me again. A small part of me still hoped she would decline my invite. Refuse to ride in my car. Reject being next to me. A small part of me wanted her to keep her distance. To ignore me. But that small part was getting smaller with each day. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing. I parked on the corner of her street and watched Charlie go pass in his cruiser then swiftly pulled into his spot on the drive. My eyes focused straight up to her room window. I saw her steal a look through it, faintly hearing her heart skip half a beat as a lovely blush filled her cheeks. She was obviously hoping that I would be here again. The same as yesterday. I wondered how long I could continue this bizarre routine with her… This should end it now. Before it’s too late. It already is too late. I thought remembering my anger at the similar words she spoke to me the other night. Half growling to myself I was uneasy now because I couldn’t find that comfortable spot I had been in just recently. Trying to make right of a very wrong situation with no hope in sight. I watched her carefully, without making it apparent, as she closed her front door and walked towards the passenger side of my car. I almost hit the locks and bolted out of her drive but as she got closer I couldn’t stop her, or rather I didn’t want to stop her, from opening the door and climbing in. “Good morning” I said through a smile I didn’t even know had formed. “How are you today?” I looked over her face and remembered how poorly she had slept. “Good, thank you.” she replied. Her eyes bright but the circles underneath contradicted them “You look tired” I pushed, hoping to know more about what had kept her so restless. “I couldn’t sleep” she said simply without further elaboration. How frustrating this still was. How frustrating that I would never know. I watched her tuck her long brown hair around her shoulder. Trying to conceal her neck? Bella was trying to ease my temptation?! I shouldn’t be amused by the thought, but I couldn’t help it. Slightly disgusted with myself and more so exasperated at her complete off sense of self preservation I let it go and started the engine instead. “Neither could I” I replied to her casually


She let out a small laugh as she responded “I guess that’s right. I suppose I slept just a little bit more than you did” “I’d wager you did” Before I could speak again her questions were back “So, what did you do last night?” “Not a chance.” I interrupted, there was too much I didn’t know about her. And I wanted to know everything “It’s my day to ask questions” “Oh that’s right’’ she replied her brow creasing for whatever unknown reason this displeased her “What do you want to know’’ “What’s your favourite colour” I started off quickly. She rolled her eyes as if she had expected much worse “It changes from day to day” “What’s your favourite colour today” I pushed “Probably brown” What an odd choice. “Brown?” I mused with doubt in my voice. But before I could even ask why it was like she read my mind. “Sure brown is warm. I miss brown. Everything that’s supposed to be brown - tree trunks, rocks, dirt it’s covered up with squashy green stuff here” I was staring into her eyes now as I listened. Why did I question her choice of colour? It was beautiful. Deep. Captivating. Stop starting at her I scowled at myself. “You’re right” I composed my thoughts and looked away. “Brown is warm” I concluded out loud. Instinctively my hand reached over towards her. I wavered for less than half a second before brushing her hair back behind her shoulders. She shouldn’t have to worry about my temptations. She shouldn’t have to worry about anything. As I drove into the school, easily pulling into a parking space, I turned back to look at Bella again. I didn’t want to have to part and go to class. I wanted her to stay in this car with me. I wanted to look into her eyes some more. To watch her lips move as she talked. To smell her scent as she played with her hair. Ignoring the burn that formed now at the back of my throat I knew I didn’t want her away from me for even a moment. Stop it. I fought with myself again. It’s already gone beyond the realms of sanity, do I really need to push this any further.No I wouldn’t need to push. That was the problem. This was going to spin out by itself whether I pulled or pushed.I was bounding out of control and I needed to be reigned back in. Bella belonged in the sunlight. I belonged in the darkness. Where my true self could never seen. Exiled. The way I stared at her, the way she smelled to me…She should be running from my car right about now. There just wasn’t, and never will be, any common ground between us. Safer to continue my quizzing. “What music is in your CD player right now?” As she mentioned the name of the band I let a half smile reign over my face and my recent thoughts. The irony was, as always, just on time. I reached into my CD compartment, flipped through the CD’s to find one in particular. I couldn’t help but feel a little smug at proving myself wrong. No common ground I mused…


“Debussy to this?” I handed Bella a CD. She looked at the cover and recognised it. It was the same CD she had just mentioned. The day continued in a lazy, repetitive pattern. But I never bored. As usual her silent mind gave me no answers so I asked question after question. Revelling in the fascinating details whilst walking her to her classes, through to the lunch hour. I gathered the kind of movies she liked. She hadn’t travelled very much but she yearned to explore the world. I asked about her favourite books. This seemed to enthuse her. She had a lot to say on what a good book should be like and what she had read. She answered all my questions, mostly with a perplexed uncertainty. Some, though, made her blush. This would amuse me and I pressed the subject further just so I could watch the colour in her cheeks deepen. Now I was intrigued as to why a simple question about her favourite gemstone, which she said was topaz, had reddened her cheeks so quickly. “Tell me” I demanded after her reluctance to answer. She looked away from my face and sighed in defeat. Playing with her hair she spoke quietly “It’s the colour of your eyes today.” She looked anxious as she added “I suppose if you asked me in two weeks I’d say onyx” Brushing it off completely, before I started to get irritated at her close observations, I resumed with the next question. “What kind of flowers do you prefer?” She seemed just as pleased for the subject change. My quizzing paused in Biology as Mr Banner had decided to finish the video we were watching on Photosynthesis. I discreetly slid my chair a little further away from Bella in anticipation of that strange electricity that seemed to intensify in the darkened room. It didn’t help. At all. I watched Bella in the dark as she leaned forward on the table resting her chin in her folded arms. I started at her face for a long moment before my eyes wandered over her hair noticing her hands clenched over the table’s edge just like mine. No common ground I thought again without humour. The hour dragged on the same as before and same as before I had the urge to reach over and touch her soft skin, to feel the warmth of her hand in mine. Several times I almost did but stopped myself. I knew that it would open a flood gate. But nothing was stopping me from making mistake after mistake. As the video ended and the lights were back on, I stood and was about to walk out the door and never look back but my feet refused to move. I was frozen on the spot. I realised now that it was not about if I would walk away from Bella. It was about if I could. And in this moment, it was clear, I could not. As I walked Bella to her gym class in silence I folded into myself. I had no will left. Every ounce of energy I was putting into keeping my distance from her was futile. She was the center of every thought I had now. How could I escape that? We stopped in front off the gym I reached out, with no second thought or any hesitancy, and touched her face with the back of my hand. The fire never ceased to shock me. I turned without a word and walked to Spanish. Emmett was waiting for me, leaning against a wall outside of class. Hey kid, you look a ton better than this morning. He assumed “Thanks” I mumbled quietly. I didn’t know how to respond to the word better. We settled into class. I began to rummage through the minds of Bella’s classmates and teacher. Trying every angle to get a better view of her face. That boy Newton was still in a hostile mood towards Bella. This annoyed me greatly mostly because his hostility was misplaced. I wanted nothing more than to go over there and snap his frail racket holding arm… Hey Edward what’s wrong. I looked at Emmett and I realised I was almost out of my seat.


“Nothing” I whispered climbing back in. Then I signed quietly. How long was I going to keep this muted barrier up against my siblings? “It’s Mike Newton” I added “He’s really beginning to bother me” Emmett didn’t think anything more on that. And I listened to his thoughts coming out with a dozen reasons and conclusions to this ‘mess’ as he called it. Class was finally over and I gave Emmett a defeated look and hurried to the gym. To Bella. A wide smile spread across her face and she sighed quietly to herself. I smiled back just as wide and relieved. I didn’t allow too long of a silence before my questions began. This time I wanted the whys and hows of her answers. I wanted to know about her life before Forks. Before me. Although that wasn’t a pleasant thought it was as if I was trying to compensate for not being able to see into her mind. The first raindrops started to give way to heavier ones as we sat in front of her father’s house for hours while she told me every scene, every scent and every detail from her life in Phoenix. I noticed the time as she finished off the description of her old messy room. “Are you finished” She asked at my silence. “Not even close - but your father will be home soon” “Charlie!” She said loudly, as if she had forgotten where we were. “How late is it” her eyes widened slightly as they found the clock. “It’s twilight” I said mostly to myself. I looked across the horizon as I wondered whether to continue that sentence. I looked back at Bella, she was staring at me like she knew there was more “It’s the safest time of day for us” I caved. “The easiest time. But also the saddest, in a way… the end of another day, the return of the night. Darkness is so predictable, don’t you think?” “I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars. Not that you can see them here much” She answered and I laughed at her continuous findings of faults for Forks. “Charlie will be here in a few minutes. So, unless you want to tell him you’ll be with me on Saturday…” “Thanks, but no thanks” She started gathering her books. “So is it my turn tomorrow, then?” “Certainly not!” I scowled with a smile. “I told you I wasn’t done, didn’t I?” “What more is there?” “You’ll find out tomorrow.” I concluded and reached across to open her door. In the midst of hearing her heart starting to race I heard a car nearing the house and another voice. I had to calm myself from almost ripping the door handle off. “Not good” I said quietly “What is it?” Bella asked a little shocked I looked at her bewildered expression and said “Another complication” I let the door fly open and quickly moved away from her. A dark car pulled up on the curb. My control wasn’t going to last. Bella needed to get inside her house. Now. “Charlie’s round the corner” I said grimly. She instantly climbed out and into the rain. I glared back at the car and sped out of there without another word.


Chapter 15 - Back and Forth Billy Black’s thoughts were insulting at the very least. I was seething as much as I was speeding towards my house. He was positive that I was a danger to Bella.Hah! A danger to Bella, not at that moment. At that moment I was a danger to him. Had Bella not been there I would have reversed back into his car… I remembered the look on Billy’s face. And something told me that if Billy had been the one in the drivers seat instead of his son, he would have done the same thing to the back of my Volvo. I slackly parked the car in my front lawn and in the same breath almost ripped myself out through the door. This was fast becoming routine but I had never left in such a hurry. Usually I waited until Bella was asleep. So my sudden rush had left Emmett wide eyed as I disappeared into the forest so fast that I didn‘t even catch his thoughts. I’d have to explain to later, I was sure of that. I reached the house in record time finding a place in the shadows near the side. I would be able to hear clearly enough from here. And I could. I heard Charlie and Billy talking about some fishing trip. But Billy’s thoughts were not entirely focused. He was still thinking of Bella beside me, in my car, but the image was wrong. In his mind I looked dangerous. Like a predator. A killer. I almost growled. But I tightened my fists and clenched my jaw shut. He was right after all. Of course he was. Focusing again on Charlie’s thoughts, trying to see if there was any concern in his mind about my family. About me. About Bella and me. About us… There was no us. I sighed quietly. Bella and I were two very separate entities. Contrary not complimentary. I thought grimly Well Charlie seemed fixed on the game now as Bella came through to the room with that boy, Jacob Black. Immediately his mind hit me like a bulldozer. Every one of his erratic thoughts were a crazy spinning frenzy on how to keep Bella’s attention. He was looking at her almost inappropriately. I had to fight every single fibre inside me to not rip the front door open… and his deluded head off. But Bella’s vague unfocused answers to him made me calmer, made it easier to control the urges to annihilate the irritating boy. I stood statuesque for the remainder of the game until finally Billy and Jacob were heading towards the door. Sliding quickly into the shadows out of sight, I listened. “You take care, Bella’’ Billy said. His thoughts were more of a severe warning than his spoken words. Letting my head drop and closing my eyes I waited for them to leave. As the car drove away and Charlie closed the front door, locking it, I kept very still. I wanted nothing more than to continue my nightly pattern and climb into Bella‘s room when her lights went out. But right now I wasn’t sure if that was a good idea. After this evening, after seeing myself as the monster through the eyes of someone else… it made me fear. Fear not for myself but for her. Only for her. Always for her. I don’t know how long I stood there thinking about right and wrong once again but as I refocused my eyes, ready to run home, I was greeted with the realisation that I was standing in Bella’s room. I shook my head and gave up. Again. The morning was the same as the last. I ran to my house, changed and then drove back to Bella’s. But before I could slip through her fingers again, Alice had reminded me that I was to leave school early with her today. Hunting trip. I couldn’t help but smile with gratitude at my little sister. Charlie had just left and I parked in his spot. This time I turned off my engine and rolled down the windows. I was smiling instantly as Bella climbed in beside me, her scent filling the car again. “How did you sleep?” I asked, slightly confused by the tiny skip in her heartbeat.


I couldn’t help but be a little smug because I knew the answer already. “Fine how was your night?” she asked “Pleasant” I replied “Can I ask what you did?” She continued “No today is still mine” I smiled fully now. Again this day was the same as the previous. But my questions differed. I wanted to know more about the people in her life. And more about her relationships with them. I was however startled at her lack of romantic history but also comforted at the same time. In the cafeteria now, I wanted to know why that was the case. For I could not fathom any reason for a girl like Bella to have lack of suitors “So you never met anyone you wanted?” I tried not to sound pathetically hopeful. She seemed anxious as she answered “Not in Phoenix” Argh this isn’t good I thought but contrarily I felt pleased. She bit into her bagel when this reminded me of my own appetite and my errand for this afternoon. “I should have let you drive yourself today” “Why” she almost looked angry. “I’m leaving with Alice after lunch” I answered her quietly and watched her face drain of anger only to be replaced by what looked like disappointment. She was going to miss me? My dead heart almost started thumping right then but her answer broke my jovial moment “Oh, that’s okay, it’s not that far of a walk” “I’m not going to make you walk home. We’ll go get your truck and leave it here for you” I snapped irritated by the thought. He face became confusingly poignant “I don’t have my key with me, I really don’t mind walking” I was shaking my head before she even finished. How asinine of her to think I was just going to leave her to walk home. “Your truck will be here, and the key will be in the ignition - unless you’re afraid someone might steal it” I laughed and she finally agreed “All right” she said in an almost challenging tone. I felt a little conceited. It’s always helpful to have a little sister with an uncanny ability to find things. “So where are you going?” Bella’s voice was slightly hesitant “Hunting” I never even thought about what I was saying. The truth just came out automatically with Bella. “If I’m going to be alone with you tomorrow, I’m going to take whatever precautions I can.” Otherwise I’ll end up killing you, of course. Just so you know, no big deal. I left the last part out but I knew that this was going to be dangerous. “You can always cancel, you know” Please cancel. Do it. Tell me you don’t want to be alone with me. Tell me you are scared of the monster inside me. Let your human senses lead you away from me, Bella. Do the right thing. Because I just can’t I thought almost painfully “No, I can’t” Bella echoed my thoughts. Surrendering I murmured “Perhaps you’re right”


“What time will I see you tomorrow?” Bella asked casually “That depends… it‘s Saturday, don‘t you want to sleep in?” “No” she answered almost overlapped my question I muffled a smile unsuccessfully at her eagerness. “The same time as usual, then,” I asked “Will Charlie be there?” Maybe her father being at home was going to help me anchor my need. Her answer seemed triumphant “No, he’s fishing tomorrow” The monster inside me peeked out “And if you don’t come home, what will he think?” Oh yes, now you really do sound like a creep. Might as well tell her that you sneak in through her window when she’s sleeping. Hopefully this was warning enough for her to finally back away. But her face was unchanged as if she had no idea of my insinuation. She answered steady and casual “I have no idea, he knows I have been meaning to do the laundry. Maybe he‘ll think I fell in the washer” Impossible. She was just impossible. She grimaced at me as if asking me to challenge her some more. But I remained silent, just glaring back. “Where are you hunting tonight” Bella asked, startling me with her casual tone at such non-standard subject. “Whatever we find I the park. We aren’t going far” I managed to say “Why are you going with Alice?” Because Alice loves you like I do. I frowned and opted for a less open response “Alice is the most… supportive” That worked. She seemed nervous when she continued “And the others? What are they?” They’d rather I killed you and got this over with. Another answer I would have to modify “Incredulous, for the most part” She looked behind at the table where my siblings sat. Idiot. Rosalie thought and I focused on blocking her out Emmett was laughing as he tried not to look over I never knew watching you fumble over a girl would be so much fun! “They don’t like me” Bella interrupted my scowling at Emmett. She seemed hurt by this thought. I tried my best to comfort her insecurities, however rightly placed they might be “That’s not it. They don’t understand why I can’t leave you alone” Frowning now she turned back to face me and replied “Neither do I, for that matter.” “I told you - you don’t see yourself clearly at all. You’re not like anyone I’ve ever known. You fascinate me.” And there, again, was that wretched truth that keeps slipping from me.


Reading Bella’s face was becoming a little easier. This made me smile and I watched as her expression change. She thought I was being false. “Having the advantages I do” I tapped my forehead quickly to remind her “I have a better than average grasp at human nature. People are predictable. But you… you never do what I expect. You always take me my surprise.” Now I was confused by her look of resentment and embarrassment. But she turned her head back to my family. I decided to keep going to help her understand more “That part is easy to explain. But there’s more… and it’s not so easy to put into words - “ Oh, that’s right tell her everything, Edward. Do you have any idea how dangerous all this is? Rosalie’s thoughts came at me loud and fast. She turned to glower at Bella now And you’re risking it for this insignificant human girl. Maybe you just need a little push or maybe I can… - I growled under my breath silencing her thoughts abruptly. Bella turned back to me as confusion and fear washed over her face. Now I had to explain Rose’s behaviour too. “I’m sorry about that. She’s just worried. You see… it’s dangerous for more than just me if, after spending so much time with you so publicly…” I couldn’t look at her anymore. Staring down at the table I wasn’t sure if I could finish that sentence “If?” Bella persisted. Of course I couldn‘t refuse her. And she had a right to know what her fate might be. “If this ends… badly” I let my head drop into my hands. I didn’t move. I thought that this would be it. These words would be all she needed to start grasping the danger she was in. Slightly stunned I felt her hand come towards me but she let it drop on the table. Bella wanted to… console me? “And you have to leave now?” She asked in a nonchalant tone “Yes” I replied and as I raised my face, her big brown eyes looked disheartened at the thought of my departure. Making my mood perk up. “It’s probably for the best.“ I started, remembering what class we had next “We still have fifteen minutes of that wretched movie left to endure in Biology - I don’t think I could take anymore” Alice crept behind me silently “Alice” I said without looking away from Bella’s face. “Edward” Alice replied and then silently added Quit being so dramatic I decided to introduce them “Alice, Bella - Bella, Alice” “Hello, Bella” Alice trilled and smiled widely at her “It’s nice to finally meet you” I gave Alice a warning look. She was overstepping the mark “Hi, Alice” Bella said timidly. “Are you ready” Alice directed her question to me Still irate at her I answered curtly “Nearly. I’ll meet you at the car” Without response, Alice walked out of the cafeteria.


“Should I say ‘have fun’ or is that the wrong sentiment?” Bella asked turning back to look at me. “No ’have fun’ works as well as anything” I said grinning at her candidness “Have fun then” “I’ll try. And you try to be safe” I cautioned “Safe in Forks - what a challenge” She said sarcastically “For you it is a challenge.” How little she knew herself “Promise.” I urged “I promise to try to be safe. I‘ll do the laundry tonight - that ought to be fraught with peril” “Don’t fall in” I said keeping with her mocking tone “I’ll do my best” I stood up. Bella followed suit and sighed “I’ll see you tomorrow” She looked unhappy and I knew why. Because I felt it too (though I knew I would see her before she saw me). “It seems like a long time to you, doesn’t it?” And she nodded confirming what I thought. “I’ll be there in the morning” I said and reached over to touch her face, brushing across her cheekbone. When I realised what I was doing I turned and walked away without another word. Alice was at the car, grinning, as I approached. She was ecstatic to have made contact with Bella today. As if that was a green light for her. She didn’t have free reign yet. I grimaced at her thoughts I drove home in silence… on my part anyway, I couldn’t control Alice’s thoughts. But I knew if I said anything it would just worsen the images in her head. I parked the car in the garage and made my way into the house with Alice just a step behind. Esme was in the dining room and Alice skipped around me to kiss her on the cheek. And then they both turned to look at me. I shifted on the spot and put my hands in my pockets, not able to meet their gaze I stared at the tips of my shoes. They didn’t speak but their thoughts were almost identical. Neither of them saw me making a mistake. They didn’t think of it that way. They were sure I wouldn’t undo Carlisle’s teachings. My fingertips found the bottle cap in my right pocket as I looked up at Esme. Through her mind I saw my face. It looked agonised, pleading almost. She was by my side in an instant, her hand on my face “You won’t fail, Edward.” she tried to reassure me “You are stronger than you think, son” “She’s right Edward,“ Alice chimed in “Do you really think I would let you be alone with Bella if I saw you hurting her? I wouldn‘t be able to bear it almost as much as you” “I guess you’re right Alice but…” I couldn’t bring myself to say my uncertainties out loud. Looking at Esme’s clear, determined face and then at Alice’s, how could I tell them when they had such faith in me? I couldn’t break that. No I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I shouldn‘t… “We’ve got to go Edward, Bella will have finished class soon” Alice cut through my thoughts


“Yes of course “ I said too formally. And hurried out the door giving Esme a half smile. She beamed back openly. Alice and I reached Bella’s house and she gave me a wink and she flew to get the key from under the eave and let herself in. I trailed right on her heel but once inside I didn’t follow her upstairs to Bella’s room. I lingered in the hallway waiting for Alice to find the key. She was back in an instant “Ready?” She asked in her high voice. I looked at the inside of the house one more time, I’d only seen it in the dark before. I sighed and headed out the door “Don’t forget to put the key back under the eave, Alice” I called behind me but her answer came from near Bella’s truck “All done” she smirked at me. I got into the drivers seat and Alice handed me the key as she slid in beside me. We were halfway to the school when Alice spoke “Edward, I love Bella too, you know. And I couldn’t possibly let anything happen to her” I didn’t speak “And you know how Jazz feels now. He doesn’t understand but he won’t step out of line.“ “Yes, Alice but maybe Emmett and Rose…” She cut me off “Oh Emmett thinks you’re crazy, sure, but he means no harm.” She was silent for a moment as she thought about Rosalie “Rose’s hostility towards me doesn’t bother me as much as her thoughts towards Bella” I retorted back at her thoughts “Hmmmm yes Rose. She just needs… time. That’s all. She’ll come around soon. She just doesn’t see it yet but obviously I do” She didn’t sound convincing and her thoughts betrayed her. Rosalie was going to be a problem. That much was certain. We reached the school and I parked the truck easily. Alice jumped out and waited for me. I turned the engine off and left the key in. Then I pulled out my pen from my inside jacket pocket and looked for paper in the glove compartment “On the floor behind your seat“” Alice helped. I looked at her half scowling but she just smiled back innocently. I found the note pad, tore a piece off and threw it back behind me. I thought about what to write but decided that there was only one thing I needed Bella to do for me before I was able to see her again. Be safe I folded the note, got out of the truck and placed it on the seat.


Chapter 16 - Ready or Not Elks never seemed to satisfy me, but I didn’t want to go very far. And in the park that was all Alice and I could find of substance. She didn’t actually hunt much. Just watched me most of the time. She wasn’t thirsty, just accompanying me on this very necessary and fruitless trip. Necessary because I couldn’t allow myself to be thirsty tomorrow even the slightest. And fruitless because no matter how many elks I slayed it would be in vain the moment Bella’s scent caught up to me again. I wouldn’t think of that now. Finishing off my fourth meal of the evening, I felt full to the brim when Alice put her hand on my shoulder Edward, I really think that’ll be enoughI looked up and met her eyes. She had a small crease between her brows. Pulling back, sheepishly I cleaned the side of my mouth. Doing this for as long as we have, it was an art form of sorts and we seldom made much of a mess. “Shall we go back now? Or did you want to test the theory that vampires can‘t get sick?” She teased me. “I’m finished.” I replied “Good. Jasper’s waiting for me and… everyone else is waiting for you” “Sorry” I felt guilty for making her come with me when she didn’t need to but I wasn‘t looking forward to another round with my family. “It’s okay, they won’t be too much trouble. And this trip was for Bella” I narrowed my eyes and murmured “For Bella.” She laughed her bell like laugh and started to run back Come on slow coach, You need to change before you go to her house don’t you? Reaching the house before her, of course, I leaned back against the wall to wait, grinning when she finally caught up “Slow coach?” I said feigning innocence She squinted her eyes at me and darted into the house. I wasn’t as eager to follow but I figured I might as well get it over with, Bella will be sleeping soon and I didn’t want to miss a moment. As I hesitated by the door I heard Emmett talking “Rose, come on, he’s done well so far give him some credit” “That’s only because there were always too many witnesses” she hissed back. “Not true…” Emmett began stifling a laugh “He’s with her alone in her room most nights or don’t you know?” “Thanks, Emmett… But I’m not worried about his creepy, perverse behaviour.” She accentuated the word ’perverse’ making me cringe “I like it here. I really don’t want to have to move again so soon, that’s all” Emmett was too busy laughing, when I finally walked in. He turned to look at me which only made his laughter more boisterous. I shook my head trying to rid myself of his thoughts.


“YOU are going to ruin everything tomorrow.” Rosalie shrieked at me I looked at the floor, not out of embarrassment but to control my anger. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself if she said anything about Bella. “Rosalie please…” Carlisle began “Oh what’s the point Carlisle? He’s made his choice. He’s chosen her over his sister. Over all of us” “That‘s not the case here” Carlisle continued his voice hardening. “Yeah, it’s called faith, Rose” Alice’s joined in “You’re all just placating him, making it worse until it‘s…” she narrowed her eyes refocusing on me “Until it‘s meal time” That did it. “Edward don’t!” Alice shrilled but it was too late. Before I knew it I was airborne, lunging for Rosalie. I heard a snarl rupture from her as I collided with Emmett who had darted between us. He wrapped his huge arms around to restrain me but I couldn’t stop my own snarls ripping through me. Glaring solely on Rosalie‘s blazing eyes as she bared her teeth but made no sound. I became aware that a calming wave of serenity was washing over me. Jasper was trying to defuse the situation but it wasn’t enough to contain my anger. I was ready to try and fight off Emmett when I felt a hand on my chest. Esme. She was looking at me with concerned pleading eyes. In her mind I saw my own face. I looked like… like a vampire. I immediately slumped, almost limp, in Emmett’s arms. Rosalie stormed out of the room in the blink of an eye and Emmett let me loose. “Emmett you should go after her” Alice said, her face twisted up in apprehension “Now Emmett… I don’t think Esme wants her entire kitchen destroyed” Emmett looked at me for a long moment. But he wasn’t angry, just confused. He hated choosing sides. He sighed heavily and then went through to the kitchen. I was about to fly up to my room when Carlisle spoke “Will you be bringing Bella to… meet the family, Edward?” I glanced at him for half a second before slowly turning, with accusing eyes, to frown at Alice. “I was just telling Carlisle the few possible futures I saw for tomorrow, that all” she said with a ring of innocence in her voice and eyes wide. It was impossible not to believe her. My eyes fluttered to Jasper for a second as I answered Carlisle “I don’t know” There was a ear splitting smash from the kitchen. “If you decide to bring Bella here I’d be more than happy to welcome her” Carlisle continued


“And I would love… like to meet her too” Esme began as she started to walk to the back of the house “but right now I’d like to salvage what’s left of my kitchen or Emmett for that matter” she smiled warmly and disappeared. Jasper’s thoughts filled my mind. I don’t know about bringing Bella here Edward… I’m not sure… He was scared that he wasn’t strong enough. I looked at him through narrowed eyes “Give him some credit, Edward” Alice cut in bitterly “Just keep your distance” I snapped at Jasper ignoring Alice’s glare. I needed to get out of here. “Sorry” I whispered while fleeting to my room and slamming the door behind me. I couldn’t take anymore of this. Everyday was a chore. Juggling my family and Bella. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was protecting Bella from my family and myself or protecting my family from Bella? I was shaking my head as I looked for clothes in my closet. I needed to be near Bella again. My anxieties seemed to melt away when I watched her sleep. I found a white shirt and blue jeans as there was a light knock on my door. If I ignored her she might go away. “Oh stop being melodramatic, Edward” Alice walked in without consent “I just wanted to see you before you left, that‘s all” I turned to glare at her as she sat herself on my long black leather couch, folding her hands over her chest tightly. “You love her, and as soon as you realise just how much you’ll stop all this over done brooding stuff” she quipped, winking at me. I couldn’t help giving her a half smile. I was rather doom and gloom lately, I thought as I picked a tanned sweater out. “Hurry up, she’s almost asleep…well she trying” Alice told me whilst eyeing my chosen clothes. Then she chuckled blocking out whatever thought that amused her just then and flitted out of the room. Eyeing my clothes I wondered what that was about. I hurried to freshen up and change. Racing out of the house and running through the forest alleviated me almost instantly. The speed and the wind made me feel free of all the weight I felt in the house. The unneeded air was welcome in my lungs and I breathed it in deep. Bella was fast asleep but her body didn’t look entirely relaxed. She had headphones in with the music still going. I wondered if I should turn it off. But decided against it. Partly because I didn’t want to wake her and partly because that was just excuse to touch her. I shook my head. Instead I sat quietly in the rocking chair thinking of the day ahead. Could I really be alone with Bella for that long? No witnesses… An echo of the monster inside me reminded. It wasn’t as strong as before. The monster was getting weaker. But he was still there. I concluded wryly. Bella seemed more peaceful as the night moved forward. I watched her steady breathing and took in her scent every so often with exaggerated deep breaths. It burned. Deal with it I told myself and breathed even deeper. I thought about leaving in the morning and cancelling the trip.


I ran through the conversation in my mind. I would tell her the age old ‘something came up’ reason. But I knew Bella would be eager to cash in on the rain check that particular reason would involve. And, I would of course, concede. The next few hours were spent running through excuses and then deciding what reaction Bella would have to each one. I smiled at myself. I was getting quite good at guessing what she might say or do. I could go through every justification in my mind, but I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to use any one of them. I wanted to keep Bella safe and I am still so undecided about her being safe with me? This made me feel weak. This wasn’t the strength that Esme had seen in me. Or the faith that Alice had. Or even Tanya’s words when I had run to Denali not long ago. I truly was a monster. I shouldn’t endanger her if I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that… I trailed off in to many different scenarios in my mind. Some which I had had when I first encountered Bella Swan’s scent. The urge, the uncontrollable desire. The lack of care to what happened after I had devoured her. Was that all really buried now. No, not completely. But it was less. Less? I questioned myself. How much less. Enough to last the day? I didn’t know the answer to that. Wanting to occupy my mind away from guilty thoughts I looked out of the window. It was very still outside. The world was still asleep. My eyes stopped at Bella’s truck. Wincing slightly as I remembered the deal I had agreed with her in haste. She was going to be driving tomorrow. In that. I should go down there now remove the rotor, that way she would have no choice but to allow me to get my car. But that it wouldn’t fool her, Bella would know I had something to do with the disabling of her truck. A short while after dawn had broken Charlie was pulling out of the drive. As his car vanished down the road I looked back to the sleeping beauty not too far from me. She would wake soon. I should leave. But I couldn’t make my legs move. I slid out of Bella’s window and was now standing against the wall beside her front door. She wouldn’t be able to see me at this angle from upstairs, listening to her hurrying around. I was still in a gloomy mindset. I didn’t know if I should be here, still ready to go through the day as planned. I didn’t want to let Bella down but I didn’t want to disappoint my family either. And most of all, I didn’t want to be the reason Bella ceased to exist. I shuddered. I am stronger. I told myself. Of course I am. But the words seemed hollow. I heard her footsteps coming down the stairs and I before I knew it I was facing the door and my hand lightly tapping Knock knock knock No turning back now. There was a small delay while she struggled with the dead bolt but as soon as the door was open I met her eyes and they were wide and excited. I looked over her and realised instantly why Alice had laughed at my choice of clothes. This helped my mood considerably and I chuckled as I spoke “Good morning” “What’s wrong?” she replied anxiously “We match.” She laughed with me, the sound was melodic. She locked the door as I began walking to her truck. I stood beside the passenger door regretting my decision about not hindering it.


Bella had a tinge of smugness to her face as she spoke “We had a deal” she reminded me. I climbed in silently when she unlocked my door from the inside. “Where to?” she asked. “Put your seat belt on - I’m already nervous” She narrowed her eyes at me as she did so. “Take the on-oh-one north” I instructed. I was staring her face as she drove. She kept focus mostly on the road but every so often her eyes would just slightly jerk to the side at me. To check if I was still looking. But I couldn’t tear my gaze from her. I realised how much slower than usual she was driving. “Were you planning to make it out of Forks before nightfall?” “This truck is old enough to be your car’s grandfather - have some respect” she snapped back. Finally we had left the town borders and the conventional houses had been replaced by greenery, trees and underbrush. “Turn right on the one-ten” I instructed again and smiled as I purposely added “Now we drive until the pavement ends” I watched her eyes slightly widen and her knuckles whiten just faintly over the steering wheel. Just the reaction I had predicted. “And what’s there, at the pavement’s end?” she questioned “A trail” “We’re hiking?” “Is that a problem?” I knew she’d not be too pleased “Don’t worry, it’s only five miles or so, and we’re in no hurry” She didn’t reply. We drove silently now and I watched her face intently. She seem anxious, nervous. Was it because she finally realised that she didn’t want to be alone with me. Not in a empty forest anyway. She still didn’t speak. This was going to drive me insane. “What are you thinking?” I broke the silence almost rudely. “Just wondering where we’re going” “It’s a place I like to go when the weather is nice” I looked out of the window at the same time she did. The clouds were retreating “Charlie said it would be warm today” “And did you tell Charlie what you were up to?”


“Nope” she replied. She hadn’t told her father? “But Jessica thinks we’re going to Seattle together?” At least someone knew that she was with me, I couldn’t slip up now. “No, I told her you cancelled on me - which is true” “No one knows you’re with me?” How could she be so stupid, didn’t she understand what I was capable of? “That depends… I assume you told Alice” “That’s very helpful, Bella” What an apt time to make jokes. She didn‘t reply and I just got harsher “Are you so depressed with Forks that it’s made you suicidal?” “You said it might cause trouble for you… us being together publicly” “So you’re worried about the trouble it might cause me - if you don’t come home” I tried hard not to raise my voice Bella just nodded, and didn’t turn to look at me. “Of course you’d make this as difficult as possible for me” I murmured so slow there was no hope of her catching that. We drove silently for the rest of the journey, if I spoke now it would only come out as a growl or profanities. Neither of which I wanted Bella to hear. We arrived at the beginning of the narrow marked out trail. Bella parked the truck on the edge and got out. I waited a moment and watched her remove her sweater and tie it around her waist. She had on a sleeveless shirt. He ivory skin looked soft. Warm. I shook my head quickly and looked up at the sky. The sun was beginning to shine brighter now making the day much warmer. Climbing out, I removed my own sweater but placed on the seat. Then I slammed the truck door to catch Bella’s attention. I kept my body facing forward into the vast forest awaiting us, but turned my face to look over my shoulder as I spoke “This way” The annoyance was still clear in my voice and I began to walk into the forest. “The trail” Bella’s voice was frightened. “I said there was a trail at the end of the road, not that we were taking it” “No trail” the same panic in her voice. She was actually reacting as she should. “I won’t let you get lost” She seemed like she choked on whatever she was going to say as I turned to smirk at her now. Her eyes met mine and I was confused by the sadness I saw in them. Why would she be upset? “Do you want to go home” I asked quietly. I didn’t want her to go but I couldn’t let her be this frightened “No” she replied and then walked beside me closer as if to affirm her answer. “What’s wrong?” my voice calmer now. “I’m not a good hiker. You’ll have to be very patient.” she replied unhappily


“I can be patient - if I make a great effort” I stared down at her face smiling, trying to ease her fear. “I’ll take you home” I finally promised hoping to relieve her doubts. “If you want me to hack five miles through the jungle before sundown, you’d better start leading the way” she said sourly. I couldn’t understand why she would be angry now. I frowned at her but she offered me no answer. So I began into the forest and she followed. She seemed to relax once we got deeper and I didn’t want her falling so I would hold aside all the damp ferns and moss webs for her. And whenever we would encounter obstacles such as fallen trees or rocks I would help her, lifting her gently by her elbow. The warmth of her skin stunned me every time. And I could hear her heartbeat accelerate. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing. Maybe it was out of fear. Her eyes were sad whenever I caught her looking at me. We carried on walking mostly in silence unless I offered a question. I was lighter with the quizzing today. She told me she had killed all her pet fish and this made me laugh loud. It was such a relief to be able to laugh this way. So openly. So fully. It felt so good. We carried on walking through the green maze at human pace. It didn’t bother me to take it this slow. It just meant more time with Bella. The ancient trees continued to bound out around us as we continued on my path. We were close to the meadow now and the sun was beginning to shine down on the murky green, brightening it vividly. I could hear the rhythm of the gentle stream, and see the white, violet and yellow colours of the wild flowers ahead. “Are we there yet?” Bella mocked That made me smile to hear that her mood was more lifted. “Nearly, do you see the brightness ahead?” She squinted “Um, should I? “Maybe it’s too soon for your eyes” “Time to visit the optometrist” She was much happier now. I grinned at her ease. After another a few moments Bella began to over take my stride. Walking ahead, almost eagerly, into the bright yellow shades. She walked through into the perfect round meadow looking around at the beauty of it. I stayed behind under a dark shade watching her warily. She turned her head to find me and then spun her whole body round until her eyes rested on mine. Could I do this? Could I show her what I am. She knew of course, but to see it… would it be too much? Would she allow me to take her back to the truck before she started screaming? I sighed almost silently to myself as Bella watched. Anticipation on her face. To my surprise she took a step towards me and smiled. I didn’t move. Again another step towards me as she gestured with her hand for me to come closer. I held up my hand quickly. I didn’t want her to get too close. Okay it was time. I took one last unneeded deep breath and walked out under the bright glow of the midday sun.


Chapter 17 - Confessions Bella’s eyes had not faltered from me in the hours that I lay on the soft grass, gazing up through the tall trees surrounding the meadow. As she sat there, her hands hugging her legs to her chest, I closed my eyes. I had not expected such a calm reaction. Or such a quiet one. It’s not a good thing I tried to convince myself, but the elation I felt was almost over powering. My skin in the sun was not something a person would set eyes on in their lifetime. And if they did it would probably be the last thing they would ever see. In the sun, the granite marble transformed into diamonds cut of the highest quality. My open shirt showed every facet shimmering back the sun’s own reflection with perfect clarity throwing rainbows in all directions. The gentle breeze played through the strands of Bella’s hair and carried her scent towards me over and over again as I lay motionless my eyes still closed. If I was still before, I was statuesque now except for the motion of my eyes opening to watch Bella as she slowly reached out to stroke the back of my hand with one finger. Instantly the fire was back in my hand climbing up arm. As if with one, soft, warm touch she had set me alight. Her eyes met mine when I opened them and I forced a slight smile to cover the anxious tone in my question “I don’t scare you?” “No more than usual.” This made me smiley fully and Bella edged closer to me. I closed my eyes again and felt her hand tremble as she stroked along my forearm with her fingertips. I wonder if that was because my skin was too cold for her or because she was sacred. Either option didn’t please me. “Do you mind?” she asked quietly. Mind? Why would I mind? To me it felt magnificent, the touch of another as warm as her was out of this world. Well out of my world at least. “No, you can’t imagine how that feels” Was she just curious about the foreign texture of my skin or did she actually like it? I sighed. Whatever it was she carried on exploring my arm. With her other hand she began to reach for my hand. I felt her fingers pause infinitesimally as I flipped it over too quick for the human eye. I always forgot my charade with Bella. “Sorry, it’s too easy to be myself with you” I said softly. She was still examining my hand. I opened my eyes to watch her inquisitively bring it closer to her face and felt her breath on my skin. My hands threw tiny rainbows all over her face. Making it light up. “Tell me what you’re thinking” Her silent mind always staggered me “It’s still so strange for me, not knowing” “You know the rest of us feel that way all the time” She teased me. The rest of us? She had pushed me out of the normality circle in one sentence. That made me feel… Well I wasn’t sure what this feeling was. But it wasn’t pleasant.


“It’s a hard life” I continued “But you didn’t tell me” “I was wishing I could know what you were thinking…” She asked wearily “And?” “I was wishing that I could believe you were real. And I was wishing that that I wasn’t afraid” “I don’t want you to be afraid” And as I spoke the words I realised how true they were. The pain Bella’s scent caused me would be insignificant compared to what I would feel if I was to ever hurt this frail girl. I knew right then that that pain would be far greater that what I endured everyday. “Well, that’s not exactly the fear I meant, thought that’s certainly something to think about” That surprised me. So much so I half sat up and found myself closer to Bella’s face than I expected. But she didn’t move back. My eyes locked on hers as her scent hit me stronger than ever at this proximity “What are you afraid of, then?” I pressed But instead of answering me she moved closer still. Her face was almost touching mine and her breath almost drove me completely insane right then. As she inhaled I tore my hand from hers and within a blink of a human eye I was standing in the shadows, at edge of the meadow. Bella focused on me with blatant shock on her face. I thought I saw the glimpse of another emotion. Pain? No… Hurt. I had hurt her feelings even after my resolution before. “I’m… sorry…Edward…” she whispered quietly. “Give me a moment” I said back just loud enough for her to hear me. I stared at her from this distance. This distance…is what I should have kept between us from the beginning. This was almost a ‘safe’ distance between us. No. There was no safe distance for her. Keeping my eyes on her face, careful not to alarm her again I started walking back slowly. I didn’t dare get that close to her again so soon. Instead I stopped a few feet away and sat back on the grass. Her scent found it’s way to me, of course. Inhaling deeply a couple of times I welcomed the burning back. Smiling my most human smile I began “I am so very sorry” Was there any normal way to apologise for being a vampire? “Would you understand what I meant if I said I was only human?” No there wasn’t. I could hear her heart thudding harder and the blood coursing through her veins with a rush. This reaction I was familiar with. I had seen it so many times on the faces on those that met their end with me. This emotion I knew. Fear. Fear raced across Bella’s face. Though I continued to smile at her but it began to feel more sardonic now. This was the chance you wanted. Take it. I growled at myself. Take it. Make her run. Make her run away from you. “I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I? Everything about me invites you in - my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I need any of that!” I jumped to my feet arrogantly and ran out of her sight. Within half a second I left a trail of wind behind me, as I circled the entire meadow twice and stood back at my ‘safe’ distance under the shadows of the fir tree.


She needs to know what I am. “As if you could outrun me,” A hostile laugh escaped as I ripped a thick branch from the tree. Showing it off I let it sit in my hand for a moment before throwing it so fast I’m sure Bella didn’t see it fly but only heard the noise it made when it shattered into another tree which almost bowed over by the collision. Before the noise faded I was already standing only two feet away from her. “As if you could fight me off” I said much more quietly. This seemed to make her further afraid. Unbeknown to her I saw her hands were slightly trembling. Bella did not move, but the colour from her face was almost drained and her eyes unable to break from my hostile gaze. You’ve done it. Now just go. Leave her here. Show her you’re the monster. I couldn’t move and with every passing second I realised it was me who couldn’t break from her gaze. A gloom set around me. I spoke again, much more softly “Don’t be afraid. I promise…” That wasn’t enough for her or even for myself “I swear not to hurt you” Slowly, very slowly I began to step closer to where she sat. “Don’t be afraid” I wasn’t sure if I was talking to her or myself at this point. I sat down, our faces less than a foot apart now. “Please forgive me” The words sounded official somehow, slightly rehearsed even. “I can control myself. You caught me off guard. But I‘m on my best behaviour now.” Bella’s heart was thumping at the same speed. I was going to have to do better than that to put her back at ease. Did I want her to be back at ease? “I’m not thirsty today, honestly” I half lied with a wink to add effect to my failed attempt of humour. She exhaled and began to laugh still taken aback. “Are you all right?” I said warmly as I placed my hand back from where I had snatched it from before. She didn’t answer me still, and looked down at my hand in hers and then back up into my eyes. She must have seen something in them to relax her a bit as her heart began to set itself back into a slower rhythm and she carried on tracing her warm fingertips across my cold hand. When she looked up again she answered my earlier concerns with a slight smile and I grinned back openly. “So where were we, before I behaved so rudely” “I honestly can’t remember” she finally spoke. “I think we were talking about why you were afraid” Back to this subject I thought feeling guilty “Besides the obvious reason.” “Oh right” was all she offered. “Well?” I pressed She didn’t answer me. Instead her focus was back on my hand as she was lost in her private thoughts. Oh this was going to drive me mad by the end of today. I hated not knowing what went through her mind.


“How easily frustrated I am” I sighed and Bella looked up and whatever she found in my face seemed to calm her further. “I was afraid… because, well, for obvious reasons, I can’t stay with you.” she looked down at my hands seeming slightly embarrassed and she continued “And I‘m afraid I‘d like to stay with you, much more than I should” Ah. I thought. I understood very well what she meant. I felt the same. Wanting her when I knew I shouldn’t. “Yes” I began quietly “That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me. That’s really not in your best interest” Bella’s browed puckered slightly at my words. “I should have left long ago.” I sighed but carried on telling the truth as I always did in her presence “I should leave now. But I don’t know if I can” “I don’t want you to leave” she said almost incomprehensibly, the heat in her face back faintly. “Which is exactly why I should. But don’t worry. I’m essentially a selfish creature. I crave your company too much to do what I should” “I’m glad” she said. This frustrated me a little. Gently this time I slowly took my hand from hers “Don’t be!” I had to say it bluntly for her to understand. I looked away from her face and into the forest so I wouldn’t falter when I spoke again. “It’s not only your company I crave! Never forgot that. Never forget I am more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else.” She was silent for a moment. Was she finally afraid now? “I don’t think I understand exactly what you mean - by the last part anyway” Of course. Confused. Inquisitive. Same every time. I don’t know why I keep expecting her to be afraid. I should know by now, she’s sitting fully aware and alone in a forest with a vampire it‘ll take more than words. This thought had me smiling and I looked back to her face. “How do I explain? And without frightening you again… hmmmm.” Keeping my eyes on her face I placed my hand back into her, this time she held it with both hands and much tighter. “That’s amazingly pleasant, the warmth.” I looked down at our hands. I tried to think of the best way to explain her draw for me. “You know how everyone enjoys different flavours?” This was the best I could think of right now. “Some people love chocolate ice cream, others prefer strawberry?” She nodded. “Sorry about the food analogy - I couldn’t think of another way to explain.” She smiled as she understood what I meant. I smiled back slightly apologetic.


“You see every person smells different, has a different essence. If you locked an alcoholic in a room full of stale beer, he’d gladly drink it. But he could resist, if he wished to, if he were a recovering alcoholic. Now let’s say you placed in that room a glass of hundred-year-old brandy, the rarest finest cognac - and filled the room with it’s warm aroma - how do you think he would fare then?” She stared into my eyes as I tried to find an answer in hers. Nothing. “Maybe that’s not the right comparison” I thought out loud “Maybe it would be too easy to turn the brandy down. Perhaps, I should have made our alcoholic a heroin addict instead” “So what you’re saying is, I’m your brand of heroin?” Bella answered in a mocking tone. I smiled. “Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin” “Does that happen often?” her question was one I was expecting long ago. I looked out at the treetops and recalled my talk with Jasper and Emmett. “I spoke to my brothers about it” I began “To Jasper, every one of you is much the same. He’s the most recent to join our family” I struggled with the last bit. I didn’t want to let too much out about Jasper “It’s a struggle for him to abstain at all. He hasn’t had time to grow sensitive to the differences in smell, in flavour.” I quickly looked back at Bella’s face to see if I had offended her in any way. “Sorry” I apologised “I don’t mind. Please don’t worry about offending me, or frightening me, or whichever. That’s the way you think. I can understand, or I can try to at least. Just explain however you can.” She was far too relaxed. I sighed heavy and looked away from her again. My words flowed more freely now. “So Jasper wasn’t sure if he’d ever come across someone who was as” - what would I say? What word would best describer her without offending her? - “appealing as you are to me. Which makes me think not. Emmett has been on the wagon longer, so to speak, and he understood what I meant. He says twice for him, once stronger than the other” “And for you?” Her question startled me. But I didn’t let that slip. “Never” I answered simply and the silence took over. “What did Emmett do?” Bella asked. I didn’t want to tell her this. She knew we were monsters but she didn’t need to know what us monsters did. There was no way I could explain this to her. My hand became a fist in hers and I refused to break the silence that lingered now. “I guess I know.” Bella finally said. After a few moments I had gathered myself and I looked back at Bella. “Even the strongest of us fall off the wagon, don’t we?” was all I could think of to say in defence of Emmett. “What are you asking? My permission?” she said abruptly. But her face softened immediately and her voice was kinder when she added “I mean, is there no hope, then?”


Is that was she though? I was just biding time until the end. Softening the blow that I would eventually kill her? I couldn’t let her think that! “No, no!” I spoke fast now “Of course there’s hope! I mean of course I won’t…” Won’t I? Was I this sure? I just stared at her and left that sentence unfinished. “It’s different for us. Emmett… these were strangers he happened across. It was a long time ago, and he wasn’t as… practiced, as careful as he is now” I watched her face, trying to read it. “So,” she began “if we’d met… oh, in a dark alley or something…” There was a question that. I wanted to be honest with her again but I didn’t know if this would be a little too much information. I spoke regardless. “It took everything I had not to jump in the middle of that class full of children and -” No I wouldn’t be able to tell her that. I decided to take another way round. “When you walked past me, I could have ruined everything Carlisle has built for us, right then and there. If I hadn’t been denying my thirst for the last for the last, well, too many years, I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself.” I made myself stop then and tore my eyes from her face. I was angry with myself. I didn’t want to think about that one nearly bloody day not so long ago where I had almost lost everything I had become over the years. Looking back at her now I tried to lighten the tone in my voice. “You must have thought I was possessed.” “I couldn’t understand why. How you could hate me so quickly…” I interrupted her and began speaking all too quick again. The words almost inaudible to a human. “To me, it was like you were some kind of demon, summoned straight from my own personal hell to ruin me. The fragrance coming off your skin… I thought it would make me deranged that first day. In that one hour I thought of a hundred different ways to lure you from the room with me, to get you alone. And I fought them each back, thinking of my family, what I could do to them. I had to run out, to get away before I could speak the words that would make you follow…” I watched her as she processed everything I had just said to her. Seeing that first day through my eyes, Bella was a little shaken. “You would have come.” I promised her. “Without a doubt.” she said trying hard to hide the alarm in her voice. I looked down at our hands. If I’ve started I may as well continue I thought grimly. “And then, as I tried to rearrange my schedule in a pointless attempt to avoid you, you were there - in that close, warm little room, the scent was maddening. I so very nearly took you then. There was only one other frail human there - so easily dealt with” I felt Bella shiver slightly. The sun was warm so I knew it wasn’t because she was cold. I still didn’t look up and continued “But I resisted. I don’t know how. I forced myself not to wait for you, not to follow you from the school. It was easier outside when I couldn’t smell you anymore, to think clearly, to make the right decision. I left the others near home - I was too ashamed to tell them how weal I was, the only knew something was very wrong - and then I went straight to Carlisle, at the hospital, to tell him I was leaving.” I recalled the guilt I had felt that day and grimaced. “By the next morning I was in Alaska. I spent two days there with some odl acquaintances… but I was home sick. I hated knowing I’d upset Esme, and the rest of them, my adapted family. In the pure air of the mountain it was hard to believe you were so irresistible.” I left out the bit where all I could see was her face., With my eyes closed or open. Her face had not left me for even a second. “I convinced myself it was weak to run away. I’d dealt with temptation before, not of this magnitude, not even close, but I was strong. Who were you, an insignificant little girl”- I looked up at her and smiled widely knowing how this would sound to her - “to chase me from the place I wanted to be. So I came back…” I stopped there. And looked away into the depth of the forest. Waiting for her response. But I got nothing and I continued to explain myself further.


“I took precautions, hunting, feeding more than usual before seeing you again. I was sure I was strong enough to treat you like any other human. I was arrogant about it. “It was unquestionably a complication that I couldn’t simply read your thoughts to know what your reaction was to me. I wasn’t used to having to go to such circuitous measures, listening to your words in Jessica’s mind… her mind isn’t very original, and it was annoying to have to stoop to that. And then I couldn’t know if you really meant what you said. It was all extremely irritating” I paused and remembered the laboriousness of having to stay in Jessica’s mind longer than I usually liked. “I wanted you to forget my behaviour that first day, if possible, so I tried to talk with you like I would any person. I was eager actually, hoping to decipher some of your thoughts. But you were too interesting, I found myself caught up in your expressions… and every now and then you would stir the air with your hand or your hair, and the scent would stun me again… “Of course, then you were nearly crushed to death in front of my eyes. Later I thought of a perfectly good excuse for why I acted at that moment -” I half paused at what I what I was about to unveil and continued “because if I hadn’t saved you, if your blood had been spilled there in front of me, I don’t think I could have stopped myself from exposing us for what we are. But I only thought of that excuse later. At the time, all I could think of was, ‘Not her’ ” I was silent now. My eyes closed. It was a long moment before Bella spoke. “In the hospital?” I looked up at her. “I was appalled. I couldn’t believe I had put us in danger after all, put myself In your power - you of all people. As if I needed another motive to kill you.” I recoiled as soon as the word slipped from me. She did the same. I continued urgently, trying cover that moment “But it had the opposite effect, I fought with Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper when they suggested that now was the time… the worst fight we’ve ever had. Carlisle sided with me and Alice.” I frowned as Alice’s visions flooded my mind once again. “Esme told me to do whatever I had to in order to stay. “All that next day I eavesdropped on the minds of everyone that you spoke to shocked that kept your word. I didn’t understand you at all but I knew I couldn’t become more involved with you. I did my very best to stay far from you as possible. And everyday the perfume of your skin, your breath, your hair… it hit me as hard as the first day.” I looked at her now with such fondness and affection. “And for all that I’d have fared better if I had exposed us all at that first moment, than if now, here - with no witnesses and nothing to stop me - I were to hurt you.” “Why?” she asked I was amused suddenly with such a candid question. “Isabella” I said as I ruffled her hair and the warmth of it coursed through me again and her scent was stirred hitting my senses. “Bella, I couldn’t live with myself if I ever hurt you. You don’t know how it’s tortured me” I looked down again, feeling embarrassed. “The thought of you still, white, cold… to never you blush scarlet again, to never see that flash of intuition in your eyes when you see through my pretences… it would be unendurable.” I looked up at her face and finally had the strength to say the words I needed her to hear “You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever” I waited for her to tell me what she thought. Whatever it would be. Whether she chose to accept it or not. I needed to know. “You already know how I feel, of course. I’m here… which, roughly translated means I would rather die than stay away from you.” She frowned and kept her eyes low. “I’m an idiot.” she finished off. “You are an idiot” I had to agree but my laugh lightened the words and as I did so she joined in with her quiet laugh looking at me. What an odd and completely wrong situation. Nothing could be more perfect. “And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…” I said quietly. She blushed and looked away.


“What a stupid lamb” she replied. “What a sick, masochistic lion” I upped the idiocy stakes. Was I giving her false hope or myself. I knew there was no way I could hurt her. And she seemed to believe that too. But still… If I ever was to make a mistake. The cost would be great. Not just to me. But my family. Although my pain would never be… “Why…” Bella interrupted my thoughts. I turned back to smile at her. “Yes?” I urged her to continue as the afternoon sun hit my face again. “Tell me why you ran from me before” Not a question I wanted to hear. “You know why” I answered, my smile fading. No, I mean, exactly what did I do wrong? I’ll have to be on my guard, you see, so I better start learning what I shouldn’t do. This for example” - she stroked the back of my hand with a finger - “seems to be all right” That made me smile again. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Bella. It was my fault” “But I want to help, if I can, to not make this harder for you” She was hanging in the balance here and she wanted to not make things harder for me? “Well…” I began wondering how to phrase the next words. “It was just how close you were. Most humans instinctively shy away from us, arte repelled by our alienness… I wasn’t expecting you to come so close. And the smell of your throat.” I stopped abruptly. Was that too much? I waited for her reaction as usual. Unable to know instantly like I could with everyone else. “Okay then” Her tone was dismissive and cut through my fears quickly. “No throat exposure” She finished tucking her chin. Concealing her neck from me. This made me laugh when I responded. “No, really, it was the surprise more than anything else” I think… Slowly I raised my free hand and placed it on her neck. Trying to make my actions mirror my words of reassurance. Her soft skin felt wonderfully warm. “You see, perfectly fine” I felt her blood rushing and a beautiful scarlet race up to her face. Adding the perfect amount of colour. “The blush on your cheeks is lovely” I said quietly. Not knowing if I wanted her to hear. But my actions had no hesitance and I took my other hand from hers and brushed the side of her face. And then held it in-between both my hands. “Be very still” I said, not knowing how to control my body, and not wanting to now, I moved closer to her my eyes holding hers. I wanted more than anything to touch her lips with mine, but I wasn’t sure how and I didn’t know if that was a step too far. So instead I softly I placed my cheek at the base of the throat. Breathing as evenly as I could. Finding that it was a different kind of hunger I felt when I was this close to Bella. A hunger I didn’t know what to call. I wasn’t sure what this was and without thinking again I let my hands slide down her neck very slowly, so I could fell the warmth of her skin for longer. Bella shivered delicately and I stopped breathing immediately. But my hands didn’t stop moving until they rested on her shoulders. Her smell was overpowering, but again I was surprised that it wasn’t in the way I had come to expect.


Turning my face to the side, I felt the heat of her breath on the top of my head. I tried to blank out the burning in my throat completely and concentrate on the beating of her heart as my face now rested gently on her chest. “Ah” I finally sighed. And we didn’t move again for a long time. I listened to the rapid uncertain beat of her heart slow down and the burning in my throat subside to barely a tickle. Everything was peaceful. The quiet stream was melodic, the insects tuneful, the sun glorious. I felt an ease creep up on me. As if the potent scent of her was not as great as I first thought. And then finally I tore myself from her and leaned back. “It won’t be so hard again” I said “Was that very hard for you?” she asked almost sounding confused. “Not nearly as bad as I imagined it would be. And you?” “No, it wasn’t bad… for me” “You know what I mean” I smiled at her answer. She just smiled back without another word. “Here” I took her hand and placed it on my cheek “Do you feel how warm it is?” Bella didn’t answer but looked at me with a undecipherable expression on her face. “Don’t move” she said in the same tone I had used with her before. I became a statue instantly closing my eyes. Her hand touched my face and it almost shocked me. This I wasn’t expecting. But if I had a heart I know it would be beating faster than hers was not so long ago. As her fingertips traced across my cheeks, over my eyes and along my nose, the feelings I had felt before returned. But much stronger. I couldn’t still name them and I wanted more than anything for this moment to last. For her hand to never leave my face. Her fingertips moved slowly across my lips and my mouth opened slightly exhaling. I was trying to control my breathing. Something I had never needed to do before. It was becoming rapid and I couldn’t understand why. Then too soon, she backed away. I opened my eyes not liking the distance between us. Wanting more than anything to reach over and take her in my arms. But I restrained from this. I didn’t know what had come over me. “I wish,” I began almost inaudibly “I wish you could feel the… complexity… the confusion… I feel. That you could understand” My hand brushed across her hair and face. “Tell me” she pressed “I don’t think I can. I’ve told you on one hand, the hunger - the thirst - that, deplorable creature that I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent. Though “ - a smile spreading across my face “as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can’t empathise completely” She kept her eyes on me as I reached up to touch her lips gently and continued “But there are other hungers. Hungers that I don’t even understand, that are foreign to me” “I may understand that better than you think”


“I’m not used to feeling so human. Is it always like this?” “For me?” she hesitated a little “No, never. Never before this” Holding her hands in mine I told her yet another uncontrollable truth “I don’t know how to be close to you. I don‘t know if I can” But I want to. I never want you to be away from me. The last part I couldn’t say aloud. And then surprising me Bella leaned towards me and placed the side of her face against my chest and murmured “This is enough.” She was right… This was enough. Just to have her so close. Protected. I’d never let anything harm this beautiful girl in my arms right now. Least of all me. I leaned down and put my face on her warm head, inhaling the scent of her hair. Was I smelling strawberries? It was faint but it was there. “You’re better at this than you give yourself credit for” she interrupted my musing. “I have human instincts - they may be buried deep, but they’re there” We sat like that as I watched the sun fade away. The sky changed from a deep yellow to a musty orange. And darker still. Now the sky began to dull into a more grey and Bella sighed, Her breath stirred the air around us. I realised it must be time for her to head back “You have to go” “I thought you couldn’t read my mind” she said “It’s getting clearer” I mocked. Oh how I wish it were true. But her mind was just as silent as the first time I encountered her. And then something occurred to me. Excited me. I pulled her shoulders back. She looked up at me with confusion at my sudden exhilaration “Can I show you something? I asked “Show me what?” “I’ll show you how I travel in the forest” I was thrilled at the idea of showing her how I ran. Showing her my speed. Now Bella looked even more bemused and slightly fearful. “Don’t worry, you’ll be very safe, and we’ll get to your truck much faster” I half smiled at her. “Will you turn into a bat?” She asked quietly. I boomed with laughter. I don’t know if it was Bella’s face as she asked me that or the sheer anticipation of having a non vampire to share this with but I laughed loud. Louder than I can ever remember laughing. “Like I haven’t heard that one before!” “Right I’m sure you get that all the time.”


“Come on, little coward, climb on my back” She looked at me as if I had just told a bad joke. So without wasting more time trying to convince her I reached out to pull her on my back. I felt her heart fluttering like a butterfly. Her scent whirled around me as she secured her arms and legs around me tightly. Her face next to mine. Her breath on my neck. “I’m a bit heavier than your average backpack” she warned. “Hah!” I exhaled. She wasn’t getting out of this one. I took her hand and pressed my face into her palm, inhaling deeply. “Easier all the time” And it was true. Then I began to run.



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