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The Full Moon's light.

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I would be lying if I said I didn’t resent my dad. I mean, I loved him of course. He was the only one who had ever truly understood my struggles. That didn’t change the fact that part of me wished I hadn’t been born at all, or maybe just born with a different father. I knew, deep down, that it wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t meant to get my mom pregnant, and even then he had no way of knowing I was going to inherit his… affliction. Still, every time the moon rose, full and blinding in the night sky, and my skin tore at it’s seams as I turned into a lupine monster. Part of me silently cursed him.

 

A t this moment though, as I ex ited the plane and onto the tarmac of the rainy Seattle sky, I was grateful for him. My mom, Renee, had done her best. Raising a werewolf child is no easy task after all. But she wanted to re-marry, and live a normal human life with her new love. I couldn’t fault her for that. So I didn’t hesitate to get on a plane and head to my dad, who now was the chief of police in a small and rainy town called Forks. I had visited him a lot growing up, and he taught me what he could in the times we spent together.

 

I walked out of the airport and saw him leaning against his police cruiser. His eyebrows were furrowed in thought and his hand was absentmindedly stroking the few days growth on his chin.

 

“You need to shave, old man.” I joked as I approached him, “You’re starting to look like a wild animal.”

 

His deep brown eyes, eyes like mine, twinkled in amusement, “Ah Bella,” his deep voiced sighed, pulling me into a hug. I was appreciative of the warmth. Werewolves ran significantly hotter than humans did, and even though my young body was significantly warmer than Charlies, it was still much more comfortable than others. “ Did you have a nice flight?” He asked,

 

“Yeah it was okay,” I shrugged as I lugged my bag into the trunk of the car.

 

I don’t know how you can be so calm about it. I hate flying.” Charlie shook his head, his slightly long hair that was previously groomed back now fell around his eyes. He got into the cruiser.

 

Well yeah,” I laughed as I followed, getting in the passenger seat. “That’s because you remember when the only way to travel was by horse and buggy.” I pushed jokingly at his shoulder.

 

“That has nothing to do with it.” He sniffed.

 

I knew that wasn’t the entire truth. Charlie had been alive a long time. I wasn’t sure on the exact numbers, as he never seemed all that comfortable telling me tales of his long life. But I knew he was old, I had garnered that he was at least approaching his sixth century, based on the pieces of information I had managed to pry from him over the years. My dad always seemed so open and friendly, but I knew that he was as closed off as they come. He hid parts of himself from the world and fro m me, accustomed to a certain level of loneliness he didn’t want to let anyone too close. I hoped that I would never become so bitter.

 

Oh come on,” I laughed, “The only reason you got a cell phone was because you needed one for work!”

 

Are you excited to start a new school?” He asked, clearly changing the subject. Classic Charlie move, always avoiding uncomfortable moments.

 

I guess so?” It came out as a question. “It’s a chance to start fresh.” I continued, “I mean, all the human kids in Arizona always seemed just a little bit frightened of me.”

 

Well, it would probably help if you didn’t refer to them as ‘human kids’, Bells” He turned to give me a cheeky smile.

 

It’s not like I said that to their faces!” I protested, “I’m not an idiot, dad. I know how to keep our secret, secret” My mouth pulled into a frown that I was sure looked more like a childish pout.

 

Oh I didn’t mean it like that Bells!” He said apologetically, there was a brief silence. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry you’re like me.” he said it softly, his voice overflowing with sadness.

 

Dad,” I put a hand on his arm, “It’s not your fault. You know that right? And I am so thankful for you, you have helped me so much.” I could see his eyes glisten as tears threaten to fall, “I love you dad” I whispered, leaning across the console to place my forehead on his shoulder.

 

I love you too Bells” He said his voice threatening to break, and I felt him press his lips to my head. He cleared his throat, “Here, we’re almost home.”

 

I looked up and around at my surroundings. Green forest was giving way to houses and shops. We wove through a few streets before he pulled up to the familiar house. Small and wooden, it sat on a small parcel of land backed by the evergreen forest. Even though I hadn’t been here in a couple of years, it was still the same familiar place. I took a deep breath as a got out of the car , expecting to relish in the cool fresh scent of the Washington forest. Instead I got a sharply sweet scent assaulting my nose. Vampires.

 

I raised a questioning eyebrow at Charlie, “Vampires?” I swallowed the lump of fear forming in my throat.

 

“Relax, they are not a threat. The Cullen Clan moved to town a few years ago. They don’t hurt anyone so I figured its best to leave them alone.” He shrugged as he exited his cruiser.

 

“Do they know?” I let the un-finished question hang in the air.

 

“About us? No. I didn’t think that was needed.” His face became serious, clearly telling me to keep our secret to myself. I nodded obediently and turned towards the house figuring it was best to move on from the uncomfortable subject. I stopped in my tracks at the sight of a monstrous red truck in the driveway that had previously gone unnoticed.

 

“Whose truck?” In answer to my question, Charlie simply threw a set of keys in my direction. I caught them swiftly from the air. “It’s mine?” I asked, walking up to it and peering in the windows.

 

I heard the trunk of the cruiser shut closed as Charlie brought me my bags, “Sure is, Kid” He said “I bought it from my friend, Billy.”

 

I nodded. I remembered Billy Black. Charlie knew of the now dormant pack of shifters on the reservation, and felt it was important to make friends just in case their dormancy didn’t last.

 

Come on inside and get settled in your room. I will go get some dinner started.” Charlie said, producing a set of keys from his pocket and opening the front door. I didn’t want him going to any trouble on my behalf and I was just about to open my mouth in protest when he turned around and shot me a pointed look. Of course he knew, he always seemed to know what I was feeling, sometimes even before I did. Charlie assured me, that was a talent that I would gain with age and experience.

 

I ducked my head down and moved passed Charlie, taking the suitcase and duffle from his hands as I made my way up the tight hallway and ascended the stairs. I opened the door to my room and was comforted by the familiarity, it was exactly the same, save for a new purple duvet cover. I stifled a laugh. I had mentioned once, when I was 12 years old, that I liked the colour purple. I t seemed that Charlie had not forgotten.

 

I opened my case and started to unpack, shoving clothes into draws and hanging up the few things that needed hanging. Most of these clothes were new, I had needed to buy more cold climate gear. Not that I actually needed it, but it would look strange to others if I wasn’t bundled up against the cold.

 

When I was done I took a moment to relax, sitting in the old rocking chair that had been in this room since my infancy. I would never admit it to Charlie just how nervous I actually was about starting a new school. I had managed to make a few friends in Phoenix. They had been other outcasts, those who differed from the norm and were criticised for it. And even though they had endured my presence, I knew that they still were never comfortable with me. But it was still better than the others, who ignored me completely, averting their gaze when I walked down the hall.

 

W ould Forks High be better? Or would it be worse, because of the much smaller s tudent population?

 

I guess only time would tell.

 

-----

 

As I pulled into the small parking lot of Forks High I pretended not to notice all the eyes watching me. I tried telling myself it was the monstrous noise of the truck, and not my presence that had them staring. It was probably both though. No, it was definitely both.

 

I retrieved my class schedule and map of the school from the office, and the door had barely closed behind me before I was accosted by a boy in the hallway. “Hi!” He said happily, “I’m Eric, you’re Isabella Swan right? The new girl?”

 

The new girl. I had been called worst things. “Uh yeah, but it’s just Bella.” I shrugged,

 

“Bella, cool” He said as we started to walk down the hall. “What’s your first class?” He asked, leaning too close for comfort to take a look at my schedule.

 

I balled the paper up in my fist and shoved it into my pocket, “English with Mr Mason” I replied, trying to make more distance between us. The last thing I needed was someone to notice the extreme difference in temperature.

 

“Cool!” Eric chirped, “My class is right next door.”

 

Eric continued to chatter as we walked, pointing out different things as we went. I was thankful for the chatter, he could hold a conversation with himself and it took the pressure off of me. Soon we arrived at my class, “So I will see you at lunch. Yeah?” He asked, and before I could agree he just said, “Awesome!” and took off to his classroom next door.

 

Oh well, at least Charlie would be happy. I was making friends already. I hoped that whoever Eric sat with at lunch talked as much as he did, or at least wouldn’t notice how quiet I was. It wasn’t like I didn’t like socialising, but sometimes I just found it difficult. I would often find myself listening to people’s heartbeats, a clear sign of their emotional state. And when I would eventually catch them in a lie, I found it increasingly hard to like them. I really didn’t like people lying to me.

 

XxXxXxX

 

 

 

 

As I entered the lunch room I was bombarded with the smell of greasy food and hormonal teenagers. I quickly grabbed myself some lunch. It didn’t take me long to find Eric in the sea of people, since he was the one standing and waving dramatically. I smiled happily as I went over and sat in the only unoccupied seat.

 

“Bella!” He crowed, “This Jessica, Angela, and Mike.” He introduced each person with a point of his finger, “Everyone, this is Bella. The new girl.”

 

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you all.” I smiled. This was easier than I had dared to hope. This group seemed nice enough. All I had to do was not say anything rude, or strange, or anything that may make them think that I was anything other than a normal seventeen year old girl. Charlie was going to be so happy when I told him. I was happily listening to their endless chatter when I was pulled back to reality.

 

“Huh?” I said, a mouthful of salad still in my mouth.

 

Jessica rolled her eyes playfully with a giggle. “I said, that the Cullen’s are staring at you!”

 

“The who are doing what now?” I was confused so I followed Jessica’s gaze across the lunch room. I almost choked on my food. Sitting as far away as they could from everyone else were five people. Except they weren’t people. Not really. Well, they were no more human than I was anyway. They sat almost too still, and the five of them were indeed staring at me. I took in their forms, their snow white skin, and perfectly angular features.

 

Vampires.

 

I looked at their faces, bracing myself for the ruby red, but was shocked to find varying shades of yellow and gold. There was a stunning blonde woman, her face twisted in an unwelcoming scowl. She sat next to a large black haired man who had his arm draped possessively around her shoulders. Next to him, at the oval table was a tiny slip of a girl. Or maybe she just looked that small because she was sitting so close to someone so large. Her black hair was short and was sticking in every direction. She was leaning against a tall blonde man, who’s eyes were the darkest of the group. His lips were pressed into a tight line, and even from across the lunch room my acute eyes could make out dozens of half-moon scars. The last sat further away from the others, still a part of the group but obviously still separate. His bronze hair was messy and windblown, even though their wasn’t any wind outside. Almost instantly I felt a strange connection, the way he sat distinct from the rest of his group reminded me of myself. A part of something, and yet still apart from it. Separate. Different. Alone.

 

 

“And?” I shrugged, forcing myself to continue my lunch even though my appetite was gone.

 

“And!?” Squeaked Jessica, “You act as if its nothing!”

 

“Jess, she doesn’t know what we know.” Angela said, shooting me a kind smile. Oh, you poor sweet summer child, if only you knew what I knew.

 

“Oh right!” Jessica scooted her chair closer to me and I caught Mike rolling his eyes. Obviously this was usual behaviour for her. “So, the Cullen’s are the adopted kids of Dr and Mrs Cullen.” she started,

 

“Okay?” I raised my eyebrow as I continued to force food down my throat.

 

“I haven’t even got to the good part yet!” Hissed Jessica, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. I knew that if they were paying attention, that the vampires could hear every single word falling out of our mouths, and here was Jessica ranting on as if she was telling me about her favourite TV drama.

 

“Oh, the good part?” I chuckled, “I can’t wait. Do tell.”

 

Jessica grinned, obviously happy to have someone knew to share this gossip with. “So the best part? Is that they are all like, together. Like dating. Isn’t that just so strange?” she giggled.

 

I bit my top lip in amusement, “It is a little strange,” I relented, “But I have seen stranger things.”

 

“Seriously?! You have got to be kidding me. They live together. I mean it doesn’t feel legal” Jessica sniffed.

 

“Jess, they aren’t technically related.” Angela defended them,

 

“I don’t know,” Mike spoke up, “If you have to start bringing technicalities into things, that is kinda more proof that shit is strange.”

 

“Thank you!” Jessica beamed, playfully slapping Mike on the shoulder. “Anyway, the blonde girl is Rosalie, total diva. She’s with the big dude, Emmett.” Jessica continued unprompted, “Alice is the pixie girl, and she’s shacked up with the tall blonde guy. The only one that is single is Edward.” I nodded along as I finished my food, but before I could get a word in Jessica said “But don’t get any ideas. He doesn’t date. At least no one here. Apparently no one in this school is good enough for him.”

 

I felt my ear twitch as I picked up a musical laugh from across the lunch room, breaking out over the endless cacophony of heartbeats and conversation. So apparently they were listening in on our conversation. Rude.

 

“I don’t think that’s going to be an issue,” I laughed, I stood up as the bell rang.

 

I was truly enjoying myself. I only hoped that the people I had sat with at lunch continued to want to be my friend, even after the charm of being ‘the new girl’ wore off. I made my way to biology. I had been looking forward to biology all day, it was by far my favourite subject. I had been in an AP bio class at my old school, but Forks High had no AP courses. I tried not to let my true intelligence show, Charlie said that it would just raise flags. The last thing we wanted was unnecessary attention. He had explained to me that a heightened intellect was just part of being a werewolf. It was an evolutionary defence mechanism, made to help us survive. We were able to absorb and retain information much faster than humans, and recognise and predict patterns in the heat of the moment. It was perfect for a life war and survival. Not so perfect for sitting in school for 8 hours a day.

 

I entered the class room with a spring in my step and a smile on my lips. Then I stopped dead in my tracks. Everyone was already in their seats, chatting and getting ready for the lesson. The only spare seat was next to the vampire. Edward. All bronze hair and golden eyes. I felt my heart flutter and my inner wolf was pulling. Not away, as I had expected it to. Rather towards, urging me forwards.

 

Go. Sit with him. Talk to him. Be close. I could feel the pull grow stronger, but I couldn’t convince my legs to move an inch closer to him.

 

I had only seen a vampire one other time in my life. I had been thirteen years old and Charlie had taken me camping near the grand canyon. Just as dusk fell, and the endless sky of stars appeared above us, so did a man . Seemingly out of no where, he was just suddenly there. He was tall, lanky legs and thinly muscled arms. His hair was black as midnight, and was long and fell around his head like a lions mane. His nose had been long and hooked, his lips full, but what I remembered most was his eyes. They were a deep dark red colour. The colour of the rust on my dads fishing boat. The colour of dried blood. I was terrified. I wanted to run, to do something at least, but I had been frozen to the spot.

 

T he vampire dropped into a threatening crouch and before I could do anything more than suck in a fearful breath of air, my dad had launched himself across our small campfire and towards the monster. I watched as he changed, with such speed and ease that I had never been able to manage . His clothes fell away in torn strips, and his flesh cracked and fell away in bloody peices as his tawny fur peaked out from underneath . In an explosion of ragged cloth and blood, a large sandy coloured wolf landed in a defensive position. A part of me had wanted to scream, had tried to even. Another part of me wanted to change as well, even though I had never managed to do so other than with the assistance of the full-moon . I had just sat there, frozen in abject terror. There was a blur of ivory fangs and faun coloured fur, of marble skin and blazing red eyes. It was over quickly and Charlie burnt the remains in our camp fire. I had had nightmares of that camping trip for months afterwards.

 

I sometimes still did.

 

S o, even though in that moment every cell of my being was urging me closer to the vampire who sat at the table in front of me. My brain had me frozen in place. All I could do was think of that terrifying camping trip. Of the snarling and the sounds my dad had made when those pale fingers clawed into his flesh. I forced myself to walk over to the teachers desk, clearing my throat to get his attention.

 

“Oh yes, Isabella Swan.” Mr Banner smiled up at me.

 

I didn’t bother to correct him, “Uhm, Mr Banner I am not feeling so well. I was wondering if I could please go to the nurses office.”

 

He took a moment to look me over, seeing if I was faking. I think he mistook the fear in my eyes as something else, the paling of my cheeks a sign of illness rather than panic, and he quickly said, “Of course.”

 

I didn’t linger any longer. I didn’t go to the nurses office as I had claimed and I tried not to feel bad about lying to Mr Banner. I am sure if he knew the truth of the situation that he would understand. I controlled my speed as I rushed to my truck, throwing in my bag inside and slamming the door closed behind me.

 

I could feel bile slowly rise in my throat as my breathing started to come in shorter bursts. The edges of my vision clouded, and a sob rose in my throat.

 

Breathe” I gasped out to myself. I pulled down the sun visor and looked myself in the eyes through the small mirror. “You are safe,” I said, as I took a deep calming breath, working myself back from the brink of a full scale panic attack. “Safe” I repeated. The panicked and wild look in my big brown eyes slowly faded, and I took another deep breath just for good measure. I flipped the visor back into place and started the engine which came to life with a comforting roar.

---

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

I sat at the small table in the kitchen, my fingers drumming impatiently on the stained wood. I had tried to busy myself with my homework, but it was no use. Any time I tried to read the words, my thoughts pulled back to the vampire in the biology class room. My head snapped up as I heard Charlie’s cruiser turn into our street, and I forced myself to stay in my chair when I heard him pull up in the drive.

 

I t felt like an eternity before I heard the click of the lock and his boots hit the hardwood. “ Hey, Bells!” He called into the house. I couldn’t help but scowl as he walked into the kitchen, “Oh there you are. How was your first day?” He asked as he went into the fridge and pulled out a beer. He quickly saw my sour expression, “What’s wrong?”

 

I may or may not have had a small panic attack at school.” I muttered under my breath.

 

C harlie quickly sat next to me, a worried look on his face. “Why? What happened?”

 

“I had to sit next to Edward Cullen in biology. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” My words escaped me in an embarrassed whisper.

 

“Bella, you must realise that the Cullen Clan is not a threat to us? Right?”

 

“Yeah, yeah I could sense that. All my instincts were telling me it was safe. But my brain had different ideas. All I could think of was our trip to the Grand Canyon.” I risked a peak at Charlie and when I saw how intensely he was starring at me I looked back down at the wooden table.

 

“I’m so sorry Bells, I didn’t even think. The Cullen’s are nothing like that nomad who attacked us.” He reached across the table and put a comforting hand on mine.

 

“Yeah, they are different. What’s up with their eye colour?”

 

Charlie surprised me by laughing, leaning back in his chair and taking a swig of his beer. “They feed from animals, not people. It makes their eyes a different colour.”

 

I nodded and I mulled over this information. They weren’t a threat, to me or any of my new human friends. I would just have to work out my own issues regarding my new vampiric lab partner.

 

 

XxXxX

 

I pulled into the parking lot of Forks High, parking my truck in a spare spot as close to the entrance as I could manage. I got out of my truck and was immediately accosted by Jessica. “Hey!” She chirped happily, pulling me into a friendly hug.

 

I recovered from my shock quickly enough to return the gesture, “Oh hey, Jess. How are you?”

 

Jessica pulled away from me, “I’m good. I heard you went home sick yesterday? Are you okay?” her perfectly plucked eyebrows pulled into a concerned frown.

 

I laughed, “Oh yeah I’m fine now. Thanks for checking on me, though.” It was nice. Never before had any of my human friends expressed concern for me. Then again, I’ve never been hugged by one before either. It seems that the humans of Forks High were seemingly unaware of just how dangerous I could be to them.

 

“Awesome! Come on, I’ll walk with you.” Jessica declared, looping our arms together. I smiled in contentment. Between Jessica’s layers of clothing and my own I wasn’t too worried about her feeling the difference in our temperatures. It was nice, being this close to someone. Maybe Forks High could actually be a new start for me. A fresh start. Vampires be damned.

 

By the time lunch rolled around I was in a fantastic mood. Any thoughts of the bronzed haired vampire that awaited me in biology had long since been forgotten. I loved the company of my new human companions. They didn’t ask much of me, and yet still seemed to enjoy my silent company. I laughed along with Jessica’s jokes, and listened intently as Angela told me about a new book she was reading. I relished in the secret look Angela and I shared as Mike clearly missed a very obvious flirtation attempt by Jessica. For the first time in my life I felt like a normal human girl.

 

My mood dropped like a lead balloon when Jessica whispered over to me, “Edward Cullen is staring at you.”

 

I looked over my shoulder at the table that the Cullen’s were sitting at. Sure enough, Edward was staring at me. His golden eyes looked into my brown ones, and I frowned. I turned back to Jessica.
“Someone should tell him that it’s really rude to stare at people.” I said pointedly, hoping that Edward was listening.

 

“I don’t know Bella. He usually keeps to himself, this isn’t normal for him.” Angela was obviously the peace-keeper of the little group, and I smiled at her attempt at defending Edward.

 

“I don’t know Angela,” My lips turning from a polite smile to a playful one, “Nothing about Edward Cullen seems normal to me.”

 

Mike laughed loudly at my poor attempt at a joke. Well it was kind of funny, if you knew what I did. However Mike wasn’t in on the punch line, so his laughter was obviously an attempt to make me like him. “You got that right, Bella. The whole lot of them are a bunch of weirdo’s”

 

I frowned, that hit too close to home. “Aren’t we all?” I shrugged at him.

 

Mike stopped laughing when he realised he had made a mistake, “I guess, but you’re a lot more normal than Cullen.”

 

It was my turn to laugh. The absurdity of it astounded me. How could you even begin to compare who was more normal between a teenage werewolf who could barely control her abilities, and a gods-only-knew how old vampire? Luckily I didn’t have to answer my new friends when they asked why I was laughing so hard. The first warning bell sounded loudly around us, and all the other students slowly started to make their way out of the room. I shook my head, giving my friends a smile, “See you guys later.”

 

I pushed my way through the crowds of people on my way to biology. I could feel my mood darken, and my heartbeat grew more irregular as I approached the classroom. I entered the room and saw I was one of the last ones to enter. My eyes zeroed in on the empty seat next to Edward and I forced my feet forward.

 

I sat down on the stool and dropped my bag near my feet. I scooted as far away as the small desk would allow. Safe. I could feel my lupine instincts rumble deep inside. I instinctively licked my lips and took a deep breath, waiting for the sickly burnt sugar smell of vampire to wash over me. Instead I was greeted with the most pleasant and captivating scent I had ever come across. I took another deep breath, both to calm my rapidly beating heart, and to try and pinpoint what he smelt like. His scent was warm, and fresh. Like the fresh bloom of Basil in Renee’s garden. It washed over me like the rain of a summer storm. Pine, and wildflowers. Safe.

 

Barely a moment had passed since I sat down at the desk. I was pulled from my thoughts when he spoke. “Hello, my name is Edward Cullen. You must be Bella?” he spoke like one would to a frightened animal, soft and gently, as if any sudden movements would spook me and cause me to run. He may have been right about that.

 

“Hi,” I replied peaking a glance at him from the corner of my eye.

 

He was still staring at me when he said, “I didn’t get the chance to introduce myself yesterday. It seems you fell ill?” There was something hidden just beneath his casual tone of voice. Suspicion. Like he didn’t think that I felt sick at all yesterday. Never before had I felt so frustrated. I usually could tell what most people where thinking by the speed of their heartbeat. But where there should have been sound, there was nothing, simply dead silence.

 

“Uh, yeah. I just didn’t feel great.” I shrugged, hoping that it sounded genuine. For the first time I was worried that my own heart would give away my lie. Other than Charlie I never had to worry about people listening in to the tiny changes in my body, but sitting here next to Edward I was suddenly very aware that he could do just that. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, grateful for when Mr Banner started to address the class.

 

“Please take a sheet and pass the rest to those behind you.” He started, placing stacks of worksheets on the front tables, “I want you all to fill out the questions on this worksheet. You can use your textbooks, and you can also work quietly with those sitting next to you.”

 

I took the stack of papers from the girl in front of me, taking one for myself and handing the stack to Edward, who did the same before passing them behind him. I looked at Mr Banner for any further instruction but he just sat down at his desk and started typing away on his laptop. Frowning I looked down at the sheet, turning it over to see that it was double sided. The questions didn’t seem that difficult though, so I didn’t bother to collect my textbook out of my bag as I started on the first question.

 

“How are you liking Forks so far?” The vampire sitting next to me asked.

 

“Good,” I replied without looking up from my work, “Its nice to be closer to my Dad.” I smiled to myself.

 

“Is that why you moved here? To be closer to your Father?” He asked,

 

I still didn’t look up as I shrugged, I was worried that if I looked at him too long I wouldn’t be able to stop. “Not really,”

 

Edward was silent for a moment. The gap in his questioning allowed me to answer a couple more questions on my sheet. The silence was broken when he spoke up again. “Why did you then?”

 

“Huh?” I looked up now, the word I was writing left half finished, “Why did I what?”

 

An amused expression crossed his face, “Move to Forks?”

 

I stared at him now, painfully aware of every perfect feature on his face. Ever since the disastrous camping trip to the Grand Canyon, the visage of vampires had plagued my nightmares. I couldn’t comprehend how this angelic being in front of me was the same species. His eyes were pools of amber gold, flecks of brown and hazel dancing throughout. His bronzed hair falling over his forehead, threatening to fall into his eyes. His perfect lips were pulled into an amused, if not puzzled expression. I finally realised why he was looking at me strangely, it had been almost a full minute since he had asked his question and all I was doing was staring at him like a dumb mute. “It’s complicated.” I managed to spit out, forcing my gaze back to my work and hastily scribbling in my answers.

 

“I’m sure I can keep up.” He replied. I wanted to groan. Why couldn’t this annoyingly attractive vampire just leave me be?

 

I didn’t answer straight away. I was sure that I wasn’t the only one who heard my heartbeat flutter when he smiled. I was trying to both calm myself, and figure out how to answer. I flipped my work sheet over, starting on the next set of questions. “My Mom got remarried.” I said, deciding that this was the easiest explanation. It was also the truth, so if Edward was listening to my heartbeat, he would know I wasn’t lying. I figured that this would be how I would have to interact with Edward Cullen. I couldn’t tell him the whole truth, but I couldn’t out right lie, either. He would be able to tell if I did.

 

“And what? You don’t like the guy, or?”

 

I was once again captivated by his eyes, but I managed to come back around quicker this time. I wasn’t thinking when I replied, “My Mom just didn’t really want me around him.”

 

My statement shocked both of us, neither of us were expecting it to come flying out of my mouth. I silently cursed myself. I always had a crappy mind to mouth filter, but I had been trying to improve it as if my life depended on it. Probably because it did.

 

“That doesn’t sound very…” Edward paused, trying to find the right word. “Nice.”

 

I shrugged, attempting to play off my comment. “I wasn’t an easy kid to raise.” Another half-truth. It was hard on Rene. Every full moon watching and waiting for the transformation to take hold, always making sure I didn’t do something or say something that would raise suspicion. She loved me though, and wanted to raise her daughter. It was the only reason I hadn’t come to live with Charlie sooner.

 

“I’m sure that’s not true.” Edward said, his voice filling with a soft sadness.

 

As I finished writing the last answer on my sheet I looked up at him, “You don’t know anything about me.” I stated coolly. I didn’t like the insinuations he was making. Rene had been an amazing mother considering the circumstances. She had done her best and it was only fair that she didn’t want my supernatural drama infiltrating her new marriage. I grabbed my sheet and walked towards Mr Banner.

 

When I approached Mr Banner’s desk he looked up in surprise, “Miss Swan, finished already?” He held out his hand for my paper. I gave it to him with a shrug. “Was Mr Cullen especially helpful?” He asked as he marked off my answers.

 

“To be honest with you, Mr Banner. Edward isn’t as much help as you would think.” I was teasing now. I was sure that Edward was listening to our conversation, even though he was near the back of the classroom.

 

“Ah, well that’s a shame. You were in AP classes at your old school, yes?” He handed the paper back to me. All answered marked correct.

 

I shrugged modestly, “Yeah, but I also just really like biology. It’s my favourite subject.”

 

“Well, you and Mr Cullen should make for good partners then.” He gave me a tight lipped smile.

 

I walked back to my seat and shoved the paper in my bag, is crumpled against the other objects inside but I didn’t really care. I looked at the clock on the wall at the front of the room and realised why Mr Banner had been shocked. We were only 15 minutes into an hour long class. I sighed as I reached down into my backpack and pulled out my book. It was a collection of HP Lovecraft stories.

 

Edward didn’t allow me to linger long in Lovecraft’s words before he spoke, “Do you like horror?”

 

I paused as I closed my book, keeping my place with my finger as I looked over at him. “Not really.” I then opened my book and went back to reading.

 

“Then, why Lovecraft?” He asked, once again disrupting my flow. Obviously I was not going to be able to read. Edward’s interrogation was not going to allow it. Why in the world was he asking me so many questions? I placed my book mark in its place and closed the book.

 

I folded my hands over the closed cover and thought before I answered, “I’m more interested in Lovecraft as a man, than I am in his literately works.” It was as close to the truth as I could get. I had picked up the anthology of Lovecraft’s work after Charlie had briefly mentioned meeting him once in a bar in New York. I had immediately probed him for more information, but he wasn’t going to give me any. I had hoped that reading some of these stories would allow me some insight into the mystery that was my dad. So far, it hadn’t helped.

 

Edward remained silent for a moment. I briefly thought about going back to my book, but thought better of it. Nothing was more annoying than continuous interruptions when reading. Finally he said, “If you don’t like horror, what genre do you like?”

 

“Whats with all the questions?” I asked. I wanted to pull this conversation around. I had never had someone ask me so many questions in such a short span of time, it was making me uncomfortable.

 

“Isn’t that what people do? Ask questions to get to know a person?” He raised an eyebrow.

 

“Well according to my friends, you usually keep to yourself.” I tried to sit straighter, make myself seem taller or more intimidating. Like I was catching him in a lie. I don’t think it had the desired effect since it just made his smile widen.

 

“I find you particularly hard to read.” He murmured through his smile. I couldn’t help myself when I laughed loudly, causing a few people around us to look at us in confusion. “Did I say something funny?” Edwards smile turned into a confused frown.

 

“No, no not really. It’s just you-” I stopped myself before I could finish saying ‘you can hear my heartbeat and yet find me hard to read’. I cleared my throat and continued “You say I’m hard to read, but my dad says I’m an open book.”

 

“You certainly are a strange girl.” Edward softly said as the bell rang out.

 

I laughed again as I slung my backpack over my shoulder, “You’re one to talk.” I quickly made my escape to my last class before Edward could ask me any more questions. I wasn’t sure what his deal was. Or why I was reacting the way I was. I was going to have to talk to Charlie about this. None of this made any sense to me, but maybe he could offer some insight. After all, what’s the point of having an ancient werewolf as a dad if you can’t get leg up in the knowledge department every now and again?

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

By the time that Charlie has returned home, I already was plating up some dinner for us both.

 

“Smells good,” Charlie hummed as he grabbed a beer from the fridge.

 

I put his plate on the table and sat across from him with my own, “It is good.” I remarked smugly, digging into the pile of pasta on my plate. Charlie smiled and did the same, “I have a some questions.” I said, breaking the easy silence that had fallen around us.

 

“Sure thing, kid. Fire away.” Charlie answered, only partly paying attention to me as he dug into his dinner. Perfect, everything was going according to plan.

 

“So I sat next to Edward Cullen today in Biology class.” I remarked casually. When Charlie responded with an interested grunt I continued, “He doesn’t smell like a vampire.”

 

This is what made him look up from his food, he raised an eyebrow in question. “What does he smell like then?”

 

I paused as I toyed with a piece of pasta on my plate, “He smells… good” I eventually admitted, “Warm, like herbs and wild flowers.”

 

Charlie smiled, but tried to hide it by taking a long drink of his beer. “Really?” he eventually said. He was clearly amused by this, which irritated me to no end.

 

“Yeah, why is that exactly?” I shot him with an accusatory look.

 

“No.” Charlie said, the same smug smile on his face.

 

“What do you mean. No?” I said, mimicking his own gruff voice.

 

“I mean, I’m not telling you.” He continued to eat, seemingly unaware of how annoyingly frustrating he was being.

 

“And why the hell not?” I snapped,

 

He gave me a stern look, a warning to watch my tone and I instinctively looked down. “Because, this is something for you to figure out. I’m not going to ruin it by telling you everything.”

 

I grunted out an annoyed huff. I grabbed the rest of my food and scrapped it onto Charlie’s plate before washing it in the sink. “You are absolutely no help.” I grumbled, “First you wouldn’t help me with my report on the Revolutionary War, and now this.”

 

“Bella, you need to experience life for yourself. You can’t just expect me to give you all the answers.” Charlie said softly,

 

“Yeah well fine. It’s not like you fought in the Revolutionary War or anything. Seriously, Dad. It’s not the end of the world if you gave me a leg up every now and again.” I knew I was pushing it. I was being whiny and annoying. But he was giving me no choice. I needed to know what was up with Edward Cullen, and if I had to push his buttons to get some answers, I was going to.

 

Isabella Swan, you will stop complaining this instant. When you get to my age you will appreciate what I am doing right now. Some things you just have to experience for yourself.” Charlie glowered at me before turning back to his food and eating silently.

 

W ell, that hadn’t gone exactly as I had hoped. Most of the time when I annoyed him enough he would let something slip, some little clue or hint that I could use to uncover more truths. This time, all I had achieved was pissing him off.

 

Sorry, Dad” I murmured. I moved through the room and up the stairs. It seems that I would have to uncover the enigma that was Edward Cullen by myself.

 

X xXxX

 

I t was like the universe was laughing at me. I must have been the butt of some cosmic joke, because for the rest of the week the sun shone brightly in the sky above Forks. I had decided to start trying to figure out the mysterious vampire Edward Cullen, and god laughed at my plans as he made the weather sunnier than it’s ever been. My human friends were delighted with the weather, seemingly unbothered by the absence of the resident vampires. Jessica had said that whenever it was nice out, Dr Cullen pulled his kids out of school to go hiking. I thought that was a pretty lame excuse. How had no one become suspicious of them before now? They never hang out with anyone other than their own family, they never eat anything, and are always out of school on sunny days. It didn’t take a genius to work out that they were vampires. Then again, maybe they just thought they were a weird cult or something. Its strange how many attributes of the supernatural are also warning signs of a cult.

 

W hen Sunday rolled around, I was thoroughly annoyed. I hadn’t been able to talk to Edward all week, and just to add fuel to the dumpster fire that was my life it was the full moon tonight.

 

I was pushing cereal around in my bowl when Charlie came into the kitchen, already dressed for work.

 

Full moon tonight.” He remarked casually.

 

I rolled my eyes, “Yeah, as if I could forget.”

 

Charlie looked at me with an apologetic smile, “You know, I can always come with you tonight. You don’t have to do this by yourself.”

 

Dad, I have been shifting alone for a while now. I’m used to it.” I hunched my shoulders over my cereal, “Besides, why shift when you don’t have to.” I added bitterly.

 

Hey, now. You know I don’t mind.” He put a comforting hand on my shoulder.

 

It’s just so frustrating!” I snapped, pushing my food away. “When you were my age, you already had total control of yourself on the full moon.”

 

If you constantly compare yourself to others, you limit your own potential.” Charlie bent down and gave me a soft kiss on the top of my head.

 

What? You read that in a fortune cookie or something?” I grumbled,

 

C harlie laughed as he straightened, “Take it easy today. If you change your mind just call me at work. I will be working late tonight, there have been some animal attacks in the next county and they want my help tracking it.”

 

Yeah alright. I’ll be fine, have a good day Dad.” I stood up and gave him a hug.

 

I listened as Charlie pulled out of the driveway and drive off to work. I rinsed out my bowl and took my book outside. The sun was still shinning brightly in the sky, taunting me with its presence. I sat in the short grass of our back yard and read in the sun for a while. I tried to take Charlie’s advice and just spend the day relaxing, but it was hard to relax when I knew what was coming. I ended up spending most of the day walking aimlessly around the house, flitting from one activity to another but unable to focus on anything for too long. Finally, I could feel the sun slowly approaching the horizon.

 

I pulled off my t-shirt and shrugged off my jeans, leaving them in a crumpled mess on my bedroom floor. I walked down the skinny staircase and out the backdoor. The cool afternoon air pricked at my exposed skin as I walked bare-foot into the forest that surrounded my house. Once I was hidden by the cover of the trees I felt more comfortable shedding my sports bra and panties, leaving them hanging on a nearby branch. My bare feet sunk into the damp mossy ground, as I faced west. I watched as the setting sun slowly dipped below the horizon, painting the sky with a dazzling display of colour.

 

I stood, naked and alone in the twilight, waiting for the full moon to rise. I could already feel it’s pull, the burning ache in my muscles. I remembered my dad’s advice, ‘don’t fight it.’ he had told me the first time I shifted at 8 years old. ‘The more you fight it, the more it hurts. Don’t try to control it. Control isn’t something you can learn, its something that comes naturally.’

 

I repeated this advice in my mind now, as I felt the full moon rear its ugly head behind me. I ran my hands through my hair and rolled my shoulders in anticipation for the change. A loud echoing snap emanated from my body, and the pain caused me to fall to the forest floor. I didn’t try to get up, staying on my hands and knees as my body continued to change. Painful convulsions wracked my body as my bones started to snap and reshape themselves. I felt my teeth begin to loosen in my gums, and slowly each of my teeth fell into the dirt. They were quickly replaced by the long and sharp fangs of a wolf. I groaned as I felt the skin on my back crack and peel open and hints of my wolf’s brown fur peaked out from the gaps in my skin. In a desperate attempt to hurry the transformation along, I reached for the blood soaked skin on my shoulder. I clawed at the skin there, it pulled away from my body in grisly sheets. My bones continued to snap and break, rearranging under my rapidly changing skin. More blood fell from my fingertips as my nails grew into long talons. I let out an agonising scream that slowly became a howl as my jaw broke and shifted and rearranged into the long shape of a muzzle.

 

W here I had once been kneeling naked on the ground, now stood dark brown wolf. I shook the blood off my wet fur like a dog shaking off water. A mist of blood fell around me as I leaned down to eat the remains of my human skin. Without a second thought, I bounded into the woods.

 

 

X xXxX

 

I woke up the next morning in the same way I often did after a full moon, naked and tired. I was curled up in on myself on the floor of my bedroom. I heard a small knock on my bedroom door and I groaned in response. “You alright, Bells?” Charlie called from behind the closed door. I grunted again in an affirmative response. “You can take the day off school if you want.” I heard his shift his weight from one foot to the other.

 

“No.” I groaned out, “I can go, its fine.” I hadn’t moved or opened my eyes yet.

“Alright, well you better get a move on if you don’t want to be late. I’m off to work.” Charlie didn’t wait for a response before I heard him head down the stairs and out the door.

 

W hen I heard him leave, I slowly unfurled myself and opened my eyes for the first time. I looked at the clock on my bedside table, 7 o’clock. I was running a little late. I looked down at myself for the first time, and noticed that I was covered in blood and mud. “What the hell?” I whispered. I brought my arm to my nose and took a deep breath. To my relief, it wasn’t my own blood I was smeared with. Upon further investigation I realised it wasn’t human blood at all , rather animal. Some sort of large carnivore.

 

What the hell did I get up to last night?” I muttered to myself as I grabbed some clean clothes and headed to the shower. It took me longer than I would have liked to be able to scrub away the evidence of my late night activities. As I scrubbed away the dried blood, I revealed almost healed bruises. I strained my memory trying to recall the events of the full moon. Charlie had always said, that the more control I gained over my change that it would be easier to control myself in my lupine form and that the memories of what I had done wouldn’t be lost to me. I let the warm water ease my aching muscles as flashes of green forest fluttered across my mind. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t decode the memories that my brown wolf self had kept hidden from me. It always bothered me, my lack of control. Every full moon I was helpless as I gave myself over to my more basic animal instincts. Becoming much more animal, than human. I was just grateful that I had never hurt anyone before, at least not yet.

 

I turned off the water and got out of the shower. I wiped my hand across the steamed mirror and groaned at the sight. I gently pressed against the yellowing bruise that was blossoming across my left cheek bone and up along the side of my face. My fingers continued down my face to brush against the small cut on my bottom lip. These injuries were like my others, already well on their way to healing themselves. It would probably be another day before they were gone entirely. Once again I envied Charlie and his advanced age, he could hurt himself and heal almost instantly. My healing capabilities, while much more advanced than a human, was still sluggishly slow in comparison to my dad’s. I considered taking Charlie up on his offer to skip school, but it was raining outside. A nice constant drizzle of rain that would guarantee the Cullen’s attendance in school today.

 

I stubbornly put on my clothes, grateful for the long sleeves to hide the bruises on my arms. I couldn't do anything about my face, I didn’t own any makeup and even if I did I wouldn’t know how to use it well enough to hide the ugly bruise.

 

I barely made it to school in time, the first warning bell screaming out as I parked my truck. I sprinted to my first class, careful not to use my unnatural speed to avoid being late. I tried to ignore the whispered comments about my bruised face as the morning stretched on. It wasn’t the easiest task, considering my supernatural hearing would automatically zero in on any mention of my name.

 

 

I was in a foul mood by the time lunch rolled around. Whatever adventure I had during the full moon had left me sore and grouchy. The only upside of it all, was the warm strength that filled my muscles. It was clear I had hunted last night, in spite of my aching muscles I felt stronger than I usually did. My senses were sharper, my reaction time improved. It was a double edged blade though, as all this made it so much easier to listen as people who barely knew me whispered cruel lies.

 

I dropped my lunch tray loudly on the plastic table and slumped down in the empty chair next to Jessica. She looked at me with a concerned expression, “Are you okay?” She whispered. I narrowed my eyes at her as I listened to her heart beat. It was steady and even. With my temporarily improved senses I could almost smell her concern. She wasn’t asking because she wanted juicy gossip, she was asking because she was my friend.

 

I smiled tiredly at her, “Yeah, I’m fine. Just sick of everyone talking about me like I’m not in the same room as them.” I grumbled as I opened my bottle of soda.

 

Just ignore them, Bella.” Eric said in a reassuring tone.

 

Yeah,” Mike spoke up now, “People in this school love to talk. It doesn’t mean anything.” He waved his hands in the air in a dismissing matter. As if he could fan away their harsh whispers.

 

You know we gotta ask though, right?” Jessica asked, taking a more relaxed position in her chair.

 

I chuckled at her, “I was hiking in the woods over the weekend, lost my footing and fell down an embankment.” It bothered me how quickly and easily the lie rolled off my tongue. I hadn’t even come up with the cover story before the words came tumbling out my mouth.

 

M ike laughed loudly, leaning back into his chair and putting a hand over his mouth as if to muffle the sounds he was making. “You fell down an embankment? Really?” He snickered.

 

Yes, actually. It was very painful. And come to think of it, I’m rather sensitive about the whole thing.” I sniffed and crossed my arms in fake outrage. I couldn’t hide my smile at the good-natured ribbing. It was the mark of friendship I had often seen others do, but never been able to participate in myself. Humans had never allowed themselves to be comfortable enough with me to risk insulting me or making me angry. It was like this small group of humans had no survival instincts at all.

 

Oh I am so sorry” Mike replied sarcastically, “Are there any other self-inflicted near death experiences that you would rather we don’t mention?”

 

The rest of the group chuckled, and I smiled along. “I wouldn’t really call it a near death experience. Now you’re just being dramatic.”

 

Thankfully, the subject of conversation quickly turned away from me. I ate my lunch as I listened to their friendly chatter, happily content with my place in this little group of humans.

 

I didn’t know if I was looking forward to, or dreading Biology. I wanted to talk to Edward, I wanted to be close to him. At the same time I was wary. I was wary of his questions, and extremely wa ry of the fact that he was a vampire who could kill me in an instant. I was the last one to enter the classroom and I took my place next to Edward. On the lab table was a microscope and a small box of slides. I smiled, I had always enjoyed the more practical side of this subject.

 

Okay, settle down!” Mr Banner clapped his hands once loudly to get our attention. “In front of you are slides of onion root tip cells in the different staged of mitosis. You and your partner need to correctly name each stage, and put them in their correct order.” He looked around us all for a moment, “Okay, get started!”

 

B efore Edward could say anything I took the microscope and clipped in the first slide, I looked at it briefly. I winced at the microscope brushed against my bruise, “Anaphase.” I said confidently.

 

Edward raised an eyebrow at how quickly I came to the answer, “Mind if I check.”

 

I scoffed and pushed the microscope towards him, “Be my guest.”

 

He glanced at the slide quickly before stating “Anaphase.” and writing the answer on the sheet.

 

Yup, like I said.” I snipped.

 

So, what happened?” He asked as he swiftly removed one slide and replaced it with another. “Prophase.”

 

Mind if I check?” I asked sardonically. He just smirked and pushed the microscope towards me. Damn, he was right. “Prophase.” I murmured.

 

Like I said,” He mimicked me. “Are you going to tell me?” He murmured,

 

I fell over while hiking.” I muttered as I put in the next slide. “Interphase.” I pushed the microscope over before he could ask. He looked at it before nodding and writing in my answer.

 

I don’t think that’s the truth.” Edward stated confidently as he placed the next slide on the microscope. “Metaphase.”

 

And are you the arbiter of all things truthful?” I remarked as I checked his answer, he didn’t wait for me to confirm that he was correct as he was already writing in the answer on the sheet. We didn’t need to bother to check the last slide, process of elimination told us it was Telophase. Edward obviously thought the same as he filled in the last slot on the paper.

 

No, but I can tell when you’re being untruthful.” He said, looking up from the paper to stare at me. A small frown was playing on his lips and I fought the urge to reach out and touch his face.

 

What happened to me being hard to read?” I raised an eyebrow jokingly at him.

 

Don’t worry, you are still a mystery to me.” His frown shifted into a playful smirk, “Are you going to tell me the truth now?” He murmured softly. His golden eyes were dazzling me as his honeyed breath fanned across my face.

 

I cleared my throat. “I got into a fight.” It was a half truth again, or maybe more than a half truth. I had awoken covered in the blood of an unknown carnivore, perhaps another wolf or a mountain lion. It was clear that I had gotten into a fight during my full moon rampage.

 

E dward hesitated, obviously listening to my heartbeat for any sign of a lie. He pursed his lips when my heartbeat remained steady. “You got into a fight? With who?” His voice seemed incredulous at the idea that I could have gotten into a fight. I was a little insulted at that. Was it so unlikely that I could have gotten into a fight?

 

I don’t know.” I grumbled, wishing I had taken longer with the lab.

 

E dward’s eyes narrowed, clearly listening to the tiny flutters of my heart. “You don’t know who you got into a fight with?” He repeated.

 

Yes, that’s right.” I nodded.

 

T hankfully the inquisition was interrupted when Mr Banner came over to check our progress. He read over our answer sheet and frowned, “Mr Cullen, you didn’t think Isabella deserved a chance with the microscope.”

 

I opened my mouth to correct him but before I could make a sound Edward responded “Actually, Bella answered 3 of the five.”

 

Mr Banner nodded thoughtfully, “Yes, I see. Good job.” He put the sheet back on the table and wandered over to the next table.

 

I was hopeful that Edward wouldn’t continue with his questions, my hope was totally misplaced. “How can you not remember who you got in a fight with?”

 

Oh you know how it is. So many assholes, so little time. You lose track of them all eventually.” I waved my hand dismissively. I quickly dug out my book and started reading quietly. I hunched down on myself and allowed my hair to fall around my face to block Edward’s view of my face. Edward seemed to get the hint quickly enough, I wasn’t in the mood to talk about it. I had no idea how I was going to continue to evade Edward’s questions. Eventually I would let something slip and he would tug at that loose string until everything fell apart. I only hoped that I could survive the chaos when it did.

Chapter Text

 

 

I woke up the next morning feeling a lot better than I had the day before. My muscles no longer ached, and the bruises on my arms and face were barely visible. The effects of my full moon hunt was starting to dissipate also. My senses were returning back to their normal abnormally enhanced levels. I could still hear the thrumming of Charlie’s heart as he made a coffee down in the kitchen, but I couldn’t smell the coffee, or his disgusting morning breath. I slowly got myself ready for school, having a long hot shower and getting dressed. I heard Charlie call out a brief goodbye and he left for work. I returned it as I pushed my books into my bag haphazardly.

 

Stuffing half a granola bar in my mouth, I bounded out the door. I was looking forward to seeing my friends. I was still getting used to the idea that I had friends, and not just friendly acquaintances who tolerated my presence. As I went to get into my truck, I lost my footing and slipped on a patch of ice. I let out an angry noise as my arms flailed at my sides trying to find something to catch myself on. I managed to grab the side mirror of my truck as I fell, and in my panic I snapped the metal clean in half. “Oh, come on!” I groaned as I righted myself. I looked at the now limply hanging mirror. Obviously not all my faculties had returned to normal. A terrible mix of rusted metal and supernaturally enhanced strength has now broken my truck.

 

It looked like I was going to be having a bad day. And like my mom had always said, bad things come in threes.

 

With a grunt, I pulled the mirror clean off the side of the truck. A little burst of rust fluttered around the cold air and tickled my nose, the metallic smell making me want to sneeze. I roughly opened the door and angrily threw the broken side mirror on the bench seat.

 

I drove extra carefully to school, my acute eyes noticed the subtle shine of black ice on the road. I found a spot to park in the school parking lot and got out of the truck, slamming the door angrily. As I turned to make my way into school, a shine of light caught the corner of my eye. I turned and used the side of the truck to steady myself as I bent down to examine my tyres . Metal chains were crisscrossing my back tyres . Snow chains. I smiled at the thought of Charlie waking up extra early to put them on my truck. I think we both knew that if I were in a car accident, that I would be more worried about my truck getting wrecked than getting hurt myself. Maybe that’s why he put the chains on.

 

A s I was straightening myself, my ears pricked up at the sound of screeching tires. I quickly stood upright, just in time to see a dark blue van skidding on ice across the parking lot. It’s tyres were locked and shrieking noisily against their brakes, and it was coming directly for me. I lost control of my body as my animalistic instincts started to kick into overdrive. I needed to move. I needed to move now . My mind was working at super-speed , my increased intellect taking in every imperceptible detail. Could I drop, and roll under the carriage of my truck? That wouldn’t guarantee my safety, but it may increase my chances of surviving. I could jump into the bed of the truck, again that may lead to small injuries but it seemed like the best option.

 

The van was still roaring towards me. I placed my hand against the side of the truck ready to vault myself onto the truck bed when something hit me. It wasn’t from the direction I was expecting, an ice cold wall hit me from the side. I looked up and saw Edward Cullen had pushed me to the ground, wrapping his steel arms protectively around me. His scent surrounded me and I felt my chest vibrate in a happy lupine whine. I turned to see the van hit the end of my truck, and skid on the ice coming back towards us. You need to stop that van, or it will crush you both. My instincts screamed at me, but my arms were still trapped under Edwards and even in my supernaturally advanced state I was not strong enough to break out of the vampire’s grip.

 

W ith reflexes as fast as lightening, Edward reached out with his hand stopping the van just short of crushing us. The metal of the van crumpled around Edward’s iron skin. If I hadn’t have had my acute senses, his movements would have looked like a blur to me.

 

A ll the action passed in less than 30 seconds, and within another 10 we were surrounded by people. I tried to get up, but Edward held me protectively against him.

 

Be careful, Bella. I think you hit your head.” Edward murmured in my ear, his cool breath temporarily rendered me mute.

 

I shook my head, finally pulling myself out of the daze “No, I didn’t. I’m fine.” I grumbled.

 

You should stay still anyway, until the paramedics come.” He replied, still keeping me pinned in place.

 

P aramedics? Oh god. Oh fuck . I could both feel and hear my heart beat flutter at the thought. I couldn’t let them look at me, I couldn’t go to a hospital. It wouldn’t take them too long to realise that I am not a normal teenage girl. “ No” I snapped, I attempted to wriggle out of Edwards grip. He didn’t seem very intent on letting me go. In my desperation I did something that was probably not the best of ideas. I was angry, and afraid, and so using my strength and tapping into the extra oomph that I had gained from my full moon adventure, I placed my palms against Edward’s chest and shoved him away from me. I was sure that it wouldn’t have been enough to move him under normal circumstances, but he was as shocked as I was at my display of unnatural strength. He moved back from me just enough to allow me to escape his grasp and stand up in the small gap between the two vehicles.

 

I braced myself with both hands on the side of the truck and launched myself upwards. With agility and grace I vaulted into the bed of the truck.

 

Bella! Be careful!” Screamed Jessica worryingly.

 

I’m fine, Jess!” I called back, scanning the growing crowd for her face. When I found her I gave her a wide smile, “See? Fine!” I called out to her, turning in a slow circle with my arms out. When I had turned to completely face her again I jumped out the other side of the truck.

 

J essica pushed through the crowd with Angela not far behind her. Both of them crushed me in a warm hug, “We thought you were going to die!” Wailed Jessica.

 

Jeez, that’s a bit dramatic. Isn’t it Jess?” I laughed as I hugged her back.

 

No! What happened? How are you okay?” She demanded as she pulled away from me.

 

Edward pushed me out of the way. He saved my life.” I said loudly enough for other on lookers to hear. I knew that that wasn’t the truth. I would have been able to save myself if Edward hadn’t come rushing to my rescue, but he didn’t need to know that.

 

What? He wasn’t anywhere near you.” Angela spoke up.

 

Actually, I was just walking past when I saw what was happening.” Edward replied smoothly from behind me. I looked up and saw that he was now crouched in the bed of my truck much like I had been.

 

Need a hand?” I asked with a playful smirk. I knew he didn’t need any help jumping off the truck bed, but I wanted a reason to touch him again. I offered my hand to help him jump down from the truck, he looked at it thoughtfully for a moment before taking it. My unnaturally warm hand met his supernaturally cold one. It felt like sparks were flying of the ends of my fingers at the sensation. He curled his fingers around mine and lent on it lightly as he used my hand to balance himself as he jumped from the truck.

 

You should really let someone check you out, you could be concussed.” Edward murmured once his feet were squarely on the ground.

 

I’m fine.” I stressed, “What about you? Maybe you need to be checked out by the paramedics.” I could hear the sirens coming now, they were just turning down the street of the school. In a moment the sirens became audible to human ears and everyone’s head perked up at the noise. The ambulance came rushing into the car-park, followed by a police car. Charlie’s police car. I groaned, “Well, this is the second bad thing to happen today. Two down, one to go.” I muttered under my breath to myself. I noticed that Edward had picked up on my grumbled comment, his head turning to me and a curious smirk dancing across his lips. He didn’t say anything though, I had spoken so softly that no human would have been able to hear me.

 

T he paramedics unloaded their gear from the ambulance and headed over to the driver of the van. Charlie wasn’t far behind, and his eyes quickly zeroed in on me. Charlie was probably the best cop ever, mainly because when arriving at a scene such as this his supernatural hearing allowed him to hear and comprehend every conversation that the huddled masses were having. I wasn’t as useful, not yet anyway. The cacophony of voices just seemed like mindless noise to me, I would have to try and listen in to a single conversation to be able to understand what was being said. Even with my less than stellar abilities though, I could still make out my name escaping the lips of a lot of people. Within 20 seconds of arriving, and without talking to a single person, Charlie had already gained all the information on what had happened.

 

C harlie walked purposefully towards me, his eyebrows furrowing in worry. “Bella, are you alright?” He asked, putting a strong hand on my shoulder.

 

I opened my mouth to answer, but before I could say anything Edward spoke. “Chief Swan, I think Bella hit her head. She really should be going to the hospital to be checked out.”

 

Keeping his hand firmly on my shoulder, Charlie turned to look at Edward who was standing beside me. “Thank you son, but I asked my daughter. Not you.”

 

Something inside of m e didn’t like the tone Charlie had used with Edward, but at the same time I warmed at Charlie’s protectiveness. It was like I was being pulled in two different directions. Charlie was looking at me again now, raising an eyebrow in question.

 

“I’m fine, Dad.” I finally managed to say. “Edward saved me. He pulled me out of the way.”

 

Chief Swan, I really think it would be best if Bella went and got looked at by a doctor.” Edward almost sounded pained now, worried. Oh, oh. I understood. He had shown some incredible feats of agility and strength, and now he was trying to make a case that what I had seen wasn’t what had actually happened. Discredit the witness.

 

Thank you for your concern, but if my daughter says she is okay I am inclined to believe her.” Charlie said coldly. He turned and gave me a curt nod, which I returned earnestly before Charlie went over to help the paramedics extract the driver of the van.

 

I turned towards the school buildings and started my way through the already thinning crowd. I was ready to put this whole mess behind me and get on with my day. “ Bella!” I heard Edward call out to me. I hunched down and hurried my pace, pretending I hadn’t heard him.

 

I spent the day actively avoiding Edward Cullen. I didn’t want to hear his half baked explanations on how he did what he did, I knew he was going to lie to me. And I really, really hated being lied to. I hated being lied to almost as much as I hated lying, which given my life was actually sort of ironic. Lying to people around me was a part of my very survival, but I didn’t have to enjoy it. So I wanted to put of talking to Edward for a long as I was able. I didn’t want to have to explain how I had pushed him away from me. My strength hadn’t been enough to move him completely, but it had been enough to allow me to escape his grasp. It had been enough that it would make him ask questions, questions I had no idea how to answer.

 

I was approaching the doorway to the biology classroom and my sense of dread grew. I didn’t know what questions he would ask, and I had no idea what lies I would tell. Acting as if by their own volition my legs carried me past the biology classroom and down the hall. I couldn’t face him, not yet anyway. I continued my walk at a barely controlled speed as I left the school buildings and crunched across the melting snow towards the parking lot. I jumped into my dented truck with a grunt and slammed the rusted door. Edward’s questions would have to wait. They would have to wait until I wasn’t so much of a god damn coward.

 

Chapter Text

 

I spent the hour hiding in my truck like a puppy with her tail between her legs. Part of me wanted to be close to Edward, to be surrounded by his scent and hear his voice. Another part of me wanted to avoid him at all costs, and that part was currently winning. I wanted to avoid his questions, or his concerns for as long as I could. My curiosity about the strange smelling vampire was burning in my chest, I gripped the steering wheel of my truck and rested my forehead against it with a groan. I wouldn’t be able to avoid him forever, I was unable to stay away. Even if that was the smarter thing to do. At the end of the hour I pulled myself out of the truck and headed towards gym class. If I kept skipping classes the school would call Charlie, and I didn’t need the hassle.

 

When school let out, I rushed back to my truck. I could hear the soft foot falls of the bronzed haired vampire behind me and I silently thanked the crowds of people that prevented him from catching up to me. “Bella! Wait!” I heard his echoing voice follow me down the hall, I fought the urge to turn at the sound of my name and hurried down the hall.

 

I finally made it back to the sanctuary of my truck, I had just turned the key in the ignition when I looked up out the windshield and made eye contact with Edward. His almost glowing yellow eyes looked into mine, it was as if we were right next to each other rather than 200 yards away. I saw his lips form the shape of my name, but I ignored it throwing the truck into reverse and pushing the truck as fast as it could go to escape the vampire’s gaze.

 

 

I fell onto my bed with an audible groan. What else could possibly go wrong? I had seen the vampire do feats beyond what a normal human could do, and the vampire had experienced my strength first hand. No doubt, he was worried about his secret being let out. Of course he had no way of knowing that I already knew. Of course, I couldn’t tell him that I already knew. Because then he would want to know how I knew what I know, and that would lead to him knowing my secret. “When did my life become so complicated?” I asked myself as I buried my head in my pillow.

 

I pushed myself off the bed with a huff, figuring that I should at least try to be productive with my afternoon. I started gathering up the collection of dirty clothes off my bedroom floor and the backs of chairs. I paused with my arms half full with clothes as I looked around the room for my favourite sports bra. My shoulders sagged as I remembered that I had left it in the woods, “ Great .” I muttered to myself sarcastically. I trudged down the stairs with my arms full of laundry, I headed towards the back door stuffing my clothes in the washer on my way past.

 

I stomped angrily towards the treeline muttering to myself, “Nothing can ever be easy.” I walked into the woods and turned for a moment, trying to remember where I had gone on the full moon. A glint of white flickered in my vision and I turned to see my sports bra hanging from a branch, flapping in the breeze like a flag. I stalked over to it and ripped it from it’s perch, along with my panties. I heard a snap of a tree branch and my ears pricked up, my inner animal instincts made my heart beat faster. I was being watched.

 

I slowly turned in a circle, my eyes scanning the dim forest closely. I couldn’t see anything. I took a small step in the direction the sound had came from. I inhaled deeply through my nose, taking in the various smells of the forest. Soil, moss, pine and cedar. I took another deep breath, warm basil and wild flowers. Edward. I took another tentative step towards where I had heard the sound, I turned my head to the side to try and pick up any trace of sound. There wasn’t anything. I was still being watched though, that much I knew.

 

Unable to get a clear read on where he was hiding, I gave up. I scrunched my bra and panties into my fist and walked back towards my house. Pine needles snapped beneath my feet and I could hear the quiet rustle of leaves behind me. The damn vampire was following me. I broke out from the tree line and walked across the small lawn.

 

At the back door I turned and looked towards the woods again, scanning the tree line for any sign of movement. I couldn’t see anything, even with my increased senses the vampire was too good at hiding. Maybe if it was the day after the full moon, and after a good hunt, I may have been able to find him. Now though my senses were dulling, returning to normal. I always enjoyed how much stronger I felt after the full moon, even if it came at the expense of an animalistic rampage. Charlie assured me that the older I became, and the more control I gained that the stronger I would become.

 

I just wished I could grow up already. Charlie had told me that when he was my age he had total control. I envied his discipline. Being able to resist the full moon, being able to shift on command whenever it was necessary, his more sensitive senses and enhanced healing. It all came with age, Charlie assured me. I was 17 and I was beginning to doubt him. I didn’t think I was ever going to be anything more than a half-baked werewolf, unable to control herself.

 

O nce my laundry had finished washing I loaded it into the dryer. I moved to the kitchen and looked out the window. If I had been in my wolf form my hackles would have risen, Edward was still out there. Still watching me. “ Bad things come in threes,” I murmured to myself. It seems the third bad thing today would be Edward watching me from the forest.

 

I didn’t know how to feel about this. The more human part of me angered at the invasion of my privacy, but the more animalistic side warmed at it. It liked having Edward close. I didn’t understand these feelings. Why was I drawn to Edward? A vampire of all things. Why did he smell so good, when the rest of his family smelt exactly like a vampire was supposed to, sweet like burnt sugar.

 

I had been lost in these thoughts when I heard Charlie pull up in the driveway. He came into the kitchen and went to the fridge, pulling off the little shopping list that was stuck to the fridge with a magnet. “ Hey Bells, how was the rest of your day?” He asked as he scribbled something on the pad before handing it to me.

 

Uh? Alright?” I answered, unsure what was going on. I took the pad from him and read what he had written. Why is Edward Cullen stalking around outside in the woods? I shrugged and went to answer, but Charlie tapped the paper.

 

It was real busy at the station. I had to do a lot of paper-work for that Tyler kid and his van.” Charlie said as he went to get a beer. I quickly understood what he was doing, obviously Edward was close enough to hear our conversation. I quickly scribbled my response.

 

He’s been trying to talk to me all day about what I saw. I have been avoiding him. I pushed the notepad across the kitchen bench towards where Charlie was standing. He frowned but nodded. Charlie shot me a quick smile and said That kid, Edward, seemed really worried about you.”

 

T his was some sort of play acting. The sort of game that I was sure Charlie had played many times throughout his long life. It shocked me now, how easily he played it. He sounded so relaxed and sincere, even his heartbeat was even. Nothing about him gave anything away.

 

Yeah, he pushed me out of the way of the van. He thinks I hit my head. I didn’t though.” I responded. I hoped I sounded as calm and normal as Charlie did.

 

I moved to the fridge and pulled a frozen pizza out of the freezer. I didn’t feel like cooking tonight.

 

I spoke to some of the other kids, they said they don’t remember seeing Edward anywhere near your truck.” Charlie took a swig of his beer and I stared at him wide eyed. What game was he playing? We both knew that Edward was listening to every word. I grabbed the note pad and quickly wrote a few question marks. Letting him know I wasn’t sure what he wanted me to do. I didn’t know what part he wanted me to play in this little act of his. Charlie didn’t write anything back, just gave me a reassuring smile.

 

Well, uh yeah. I don’t remember seeing him near me, but he says he was…?” I let the sentence hang in the air as a question. I then scribbled hastily on the note pad again. He stopped the moving van with his hand. I’m sure he’s worried about what I saw/remembered.

 

Charlie looked over the note and replied, both to my verbal statement and the written one. “It seems you were lucky he was there. You should thank him, next time you see him.” Charlie smiled at me and started to head into the living room. “Let me know when the pizza is ready?” He asked over his shoulder.

 

Uh, sure thing Dad.” I replied. The oddity of the conversation was not lost on me. I wasn’t sure what the reason for it was. Was it to appease Edward? To make sure he heard me talking about the accident, without mentioning the whole ‘stopping a van with his hand’ thing?

 

I set a timer for the pizza and headed up stairs. I sat at the small desk in my bedroom with the hope of getting some homework done. I found myself unable to focus on the work in front of me though. What would I say to Edward when we did eventually speak? I knew I couldn’t lie to him, my heartbeat would give me away instantly. What questions did he have about me? And how in the hell could I even begin to answer the m? Would he ask more questions about what I saw, or how I managed to escape his steel grip? I was pulled out of my thoughts when I heard the shrill sound of the timer going off downstairs. Whatever mess I had made in regards to Edward Cullen would have to wait. Right now, I was going to eat some pizza.

 

X xxXxX

 

Wednesday morning greeting me with the usual pale muted light and subtle pitter-patter of rain against my window. A mixture of emotions swirled inside of me. I felt like a prisoner being herded to the gallows, a sullen sense of foreboding about talking to Edward. I also felt excited, the strange nervous sort of excited that caused a tense bubble to stretch in your chest. The kind of excited that teetered on the edge of anxiety.

 

As I pulled into Forks High I caught sight of Edward’s silver Volvo. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears as I looked around for the vampire. I didn’t see Edward, or any of his siblings, and I calmed down slightly. I parked my truck and grabbed my stuff as I headed towards the school.

 

Bella!” I stopped dead in my tracks at the sound of Edward’s voice. I turned my head to see him walking quickly in my direction. Taking a deep calming breath I turned to face him completely. This didn’t have to be all that hard. I just had to walk the fine line between lie and truth. I also had to not mention his stalkerish behaviour the previous night. This is fine. Everything is a-okay.

 

Hello, Edward.” I greeted him. I swallowed thickly as I tried to squash the rising anxiety that churned inside of me. I was sure he could hear my heart thundering along like a race horse. I wondered if I could get away with a lie, how could he possibly distinguish a subtle variance in such a vicious sound.

 

Are- are you okay? You seemed to be avoiding me yesterday.” Edward spoke softly, his voice almost seemed hurt, pained. I let out a breath I hadn’t known I had been holding as a wave of calm washed over me. I wasn’t going to lie to Edward. I wouldn’t be able to even if I had wanted to. Which I didn’t.

 

That’s because I was. Avoiding you, that is.” I straightened my shoulders and looked at him directly in his golden eyes.

 

Why?” He breathed,

 

O kay, I could do this. I could tell the truth, while still keeping the whole truth hidden. This was just perfect practice for the rest of my life. “Because, I didn’t want to listen to whatever lies you were going to tell.”

 

What would I have to lie to you about?” Edward asked, clearly hurt and offended by the accusation.

 

I scoffed, “Come on, Edward. I saw you stop a van, you pushed it away with your hand. Not to mention the fact that you were no where near me.” My eyes narrowed in a silent challenge,

 

Bella, I don’t know what you are talking about.” He said condescendingly as he returned my steely gaze.

 

Anger flared angrily inside me, and I could feel the heat of it rise to my face. “Look Edward, you keep whatever secrets you feel like you need to keep. But here’s the thing, I really don’t like being lied to. I also don’t like being called a liar.” I paused to take a breath and it looked like Edward was going to say something. I held up my hand to stop him, my anger was coursing now and I wasn’t going to stop. “So when you’re ready to stop gas-lighting me, and have a real conversation like two reasonable people, come find me. Until then, do us both a favour and leave me the hell alone.”

 

B efore he could respond to my tirade, I spun on my heels and stalked off towards my first clas s. That hadn’t gone exactly like I had hoped it would. I didn’t really want to snap at him like that, but the way he had looked at me just set me off. I hated lies, and I hated being patronised to. If Edward thought I was going to buy into his bullshit, well he had another thing coming. Did he really expect to be able to convince me that I hadn’t seen what I saw? The audacity.

 

Bella, are you alright?” Angela pulled me out of my internal grumblings during lunch.

 

Yeah, it’s just Edward is being a jerk.” I huffed out as I picked at my food in front of me, too annoyed to be hungry. I listened to the table behind me, the table devoid of heartbeats. I heard deep laughter from one of them at my comment, Emmett maybe?

 

He is? He seemed really worried about you yesterday.” Angela’s face softened. The others at the table quietened, listening to the conversation as well.

 

I barked out a laugh, “I’m not about to feed into his hero complex.”

 

You want me to talk to him for you?” Mike spoke up. I smirked at the offer. The imagery of the small human teenager plucking up the courage to give a vampire a talking to was an interesting one.

Thanks for the offer, but I think I can handle Edward Cullen.” I smiled knowingly. “I mean, he’s not the most intimidating of people.” I added for the benefit of the eavesdropping vampires. I heard more than one of them laugh at my comment.

 

The first bell rang and I quickly threw away my mostly uneaten lunch. I said a quick goodbye to my friends and went off to biology.

 

I sat in my seat next to Edward, and for the entire hour I fought against the urge to talk to him. I could feel his eyes on me throughout the lecture, and I busied myself by taking notes I didn’t need. At the end of the hour, I was stuffing my stuff into my book bag when Edward finally spoke.

 

I’m sorry.”

 

What?” I whirled to face him.

 

At lunch, my sister Alice explained what gas-lighting is. And I’m sorry, I was doing that. It’s just, it’s better if we aren’t friends.” He murmured softly, looking at me through his eyelashes.

 

Right, well. Glad we got all that sorted out.” I muttered, my heart felt like it was breaking when he said he didn’t want to be friends. It looked like it pained him just as much to say it as it did for me to hear it.It’s not like I was going to tell anyone anything. But thank you for your vote of confidence.” I continued sarcastically. I hoisted my bag over my shoulder and stomped out of the room and headed towards gym.

 

T here was something about Edward Cullen that infuriated me, and something that I was quickly becoming infatuated with. If Edward didn’t want to be my friend, I would just have to wait until he changed his mind. Even if that meant waiting for eternity. After all, it’s not like I didn’t have the time.

Chapter Text

 

 

Edward Cullen was a stubborn fool. He was an insufferable, bullheaded, cantankerous ass-hole. For the rest of the week, he made it a point to avoid me. If he saw me in the hall, he would turn and walk away. I guess subtlety wasn’t on his list of qualities. During biology, he resisted all attempts of communication. He would give me short, one word answers to questions, and sometimes he would just ignore me completely.

 

Both Jessica and Angela had asked me what I had done to offend him. I just responded that Edward Cullen was a fragile person, with a delicate sensibility. There was no way for anyone to guess what could have set him off. It could have been any number of things, and trying to hazard a guess at the motivations of Edward Cullen’s actions was like trying to teach string theory to a pigeon. All it would do would frustrate both you and the pigeon, so best not to bother trying at all.

 

I tried my best to ignore how delighted both Mike and Eric were at the development. I didn’t need to have the two of them fawning over me in an attempt to win my affections. My affections were not a prize to be fought over. In fact, my affections were tightly locked away in a box, inside a vacuum sealed package, inside a securely locked vault. I hadn’t allowed myself to feel romantic feelings towards anyone, ever. If I ever felt the inkling of a school yard crush, I would quickly talk myself out of it.

 

I didn’t want to turn into my father. He was alone, and so very lonely. He had loved many women during his centuries of life, and had to watched with a pained and broken heart as they aged and died. Whoever said that it was better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all was full of shit. I didn’t intend to deal with the constant heartbreak of watching my loved ones die around me, while I stayed the same. There was only one small flicker of hope. A tiny flame that I kept hidden. That maybe, just maybe, I could allow myself to have feelings for Edward. He wouldn’t get old and die on me. We could stay the same, together. If he would just get his head out of his ass and be my friend first.

 

That being said, I did my best to gently dissuade Mike and Eric’s clumsy flirtation attempts. I did my best not to let it bother me, we could still be friends. Surely it wasn’t impossible for men and women to just be friends. Even if one of them was a secret werewolf trying to get the attention of a particularly headstrong vampire.

 

B y the time Saturday rolled around I was grateful for the reprieve. Trying to be friends with someone who was acting like you didn’t exist was an exhausting initiative. Edward Cullen would have a rude awakening when he realised I was just as stubborn as he was. I wasn’t going to give in that easily, I couldn’t even if I wanted to. There was a part of me that was drawn to him. Deep inside, hiding within my lupine self, was the urge to be near him no matter the cost. And I knew there was a cost. He was a vampire. Sure, he didn’t eat people that was true, but he was still a vampire nonetheless. I knew I couldn’t be near him without personal risk to myself, maybe even risk to Charlie. The more time I spent with him, talking to him, the closer he would come to discovering the truth. I knew that, of course I knew that. I may be a sorry excuse for a werewolf but I wasn’t stupid. Eventually, truth will out. Edward would discover that I was a werewolf, and his actions after would decide my fate.

 

I was fine with that. I already trusted Edward way more than I should. I trusted him with my life. No matter how long, or short, it was going to be.

 

I decided to spend my weekend exploring the forest that boarded my house. It was a nice day, well nice by Forks standards. It wasn’t raining, but the clouds continued to loom overhead. I had only ventured into the woods when I shifted on the full moon. I didn’t have much need to go exploring beyond that, but given the terrible week I had, I wanted to clear my head.

 

I found the familiar place I had shifted during the full moon and set off westward from there. After a few minutes of walking, ducking under low hanging branches and happily jumping over fallen logs, I heard a familiar noise. It was an unnatural rustling of leaves, as if the trees were being disturbed during their quiet slumber. My nose twitched as I breathed in heavily. Basil, wildflowers, cedar and pine . Edward Cullen was following me again.

 

W hat a contrary being. Ignoring me all week, and then using his valuable time off to follow me through the woods. I continued my walk through the woods, listening intently to the almost inaudible sounds of leaves rustling and twigs breaking as Edward followed me. Soon I came across a bubbling creek, only a few yards across. I looked down the small slope of the embankment at the running water below.

 

M y eyes narrowed on a particularly pretty stone, it looked like it could be quartz. A childish smile broke out o n my face as I toed off my shoes and crumpled my socks inside them. I left them at the base of a tree and rolled up my jeans as high as they would go . I held my arms out by my sides to keep my balance as I stumbled down the embankment, the fact that Edward was most likely still watching me was all but forgotten in my quest to retrieve the shiny gem that had caught my eye.

 

My bare feet were soon covered by the icy waters of the stream. I bent down to pluck the stone from the water, I held it up to the muted sunlight. A delighted laugh bubbled out my throat. “Awesome.” It was indeed a small piece of quartz. It’s time spent in the moving water had left it smooth on some sides, and still rough on others. I quickly stuffed it into my pocket like a crow hiding it’s prize . I kicked my feet and smiled as the water splashed, the numbing coldness felt nice against my burning skin.

 

I slowly moved up stream, kicking at the water as I went keeping my eyes trained on the stones beneath my feet. “ Oh!” I gasped as my eyes caught si ght of the edge of a rock hiding beneath another, larger stone. It was a sharp pointed stone, with oranges and yellows and stripes of white. I moved towards my hidden treasure. I crouched beside the large stone and tried to pry free the smaller, much prettier rock. “ Come here, you pretty little bastard.” I muttered as my fingers slipped across the surface, unable to wrestle the rock free of its prison. I tried again, placing both hands on the stone I started to pull with all the strength I could muster, when suddenly I lost my grip on the wet rock.

 

I gasped loudly as I fell backwards, landing in the shallow stream. I held my arms out above the water as I looked silently at my predicament. I was now sitting in the lazy curr e nt of the small creek, the water running over my legs and lapping at my belly. I startled giggle escaped my lip s, and suddenly I was laughing. I laughed loudly and freely at myself and my own clumsiness. I eventually calmed down and shook my head at myself. “ Okay, so that’s how we are gonna play it. Huh?” I muttered to my new adversary. I rolled up my now damp sleeves as a determined scowl came across my face.

 

I stood up and marched back to the rock that was keeping me from my bounty. I set my shoulders and dug deep into myself. I placed my hands on either side of the small boulder, tucking my fingers under it slightly. I heaved and with a small grunt of effort, I wrenched the rock free. I lifted in and with a small grumble hurled it away from me. It flew through the air with more speed than I had intended, and landed with a heavy damp thunk o n the mossy forest floor at the top of the embankment. “ Ha!” I pointed towards my defeated foe, “Yeah, that’s what you get!” I cheered.

 

I looked down to claim my prize. I happily bent down to pick it up, smaller and more jagged than I had expected. Roughly the size of a golf ball I thumbed at the yellow and red mud that covered it. I squatted down and washed the stone in the running water. Once it was cleaned, I straightened again to get a better look at my prize. Lines of oranges, red and yellows faded against streak y bands of white. “ What are you?” I muttered to myself as I turned it over in my hands.

 

When I would visit Charlie during the summer as a kid, I used to spend most of my time doing exactly this. Searching through the mud and rocks for anything that was even remotely pretty. This led Charlie to buying me a large illustrated guide to semi-precious gemstones, and I loved that book to pieces. Literally. I read it so many times, and took it with me everywhere that eventually it had fallen apart at the seams covered in mud and grass stains. I searched my memory of that book now, comparing the large images in it to the rock I had in my hands now.

 

F inally, I found a match in my memory. “Sardonyx.” I murmured. I smiled proudly at my new acquisition, and at the fact I had been able to identify it. I shoved it in my pocket along side my new piece of quartz. The pocket on my jeans now bulged slightly at the strain. I didn’t mind, my goblin like need to find stones had momentarily consumed my thoughts.

 

I had forgotten how fun this was. The simple pleasure of walking barefoot in the woods searching for little hidden wonders. It was childish and silly, I knew that but I wasn’t sure I cared . I was now thoroughly damp, and my hands were covered in the yellow-reddish mud of the creek bed. I could feel the same silty mud between my toes. I looked down at my jeans and saw the mud had stuck to them, probably staining them with it’s yellowish hue.

 

A fter the frustrating week I had, this was exactly what I needed. For the rest of the day I lost myself in my hunt. I walked up stream, occasionally pausing to investigate a rock, sometimes I would decide to keep it and I would hide it away with the others. More often than not, after looking at the stone I would let it fall from my fingers and plunk happily back into the creek bed. I hadn’t even realised how long I had spent on my quest when I noticed the subtle chill in the air.

 

T he sun was going to be setting soon. I traced my steps back down stream, keeping an eye out for my shoes. I must have walked further than I realised, because for the life of me I couldn’t find them. I grumbled at myself and my forgetfulness, but I couldn’t be bothered to continue the search. I was becoming hungry, and I wanted to get home and find something to eat. “I will come back for you, shoes. Worry not, you will not be forgotten!” I called dramatically into the woods.

 

I clawed my way up the embankment on my hands and knees so I wouldn’t slip back down into the water. Luckily my sense of direction was better than my memory and I walked eastwards back towards home.

 

I managed to arrive home just as the sun was approaching the horizon. I plodded my way across the wet grass and through the back door. I wet feet slapped against the wood floors as I made my way down the hall and up the stairs to my bedroom. I emptied my pockets on my bed and surveyed my bounty.

 

I had the small piece of quartz, and Sardonyx, I had also managed to find a small piece of bright red Jasper, and a smooth piece of pretty pink rose quartz. I was happily lining up my stones on the window sill near my bed when I heard Charlie come home, heavy boots thudding against wood.

 

I sat up abruptly when I heard Charlie call out, “Bella! Would you like to explain why there are muddy foot prints in my hallway!?”

 

I lost my shoes in the woods!” I called back, as if that was a perfect explanation.

 

Well, come clean it up!” He yelled, but I could hear a hint of amusement in his voice. I sighed, my childish glee from the day waning. It had been nice to forget everything and lose myself in the juvenile endeavour of looking for rocks in a creek like I had as a kid. I was slowly coming back down to earth though, and my worries and frustration flooded my mind once again.

 

Sure thing, Dad! Just give me a minute!” I sighed sadly and snatched some clean and dry clothes from the hamper. There was no use cleaning the floor when I would just make it dirty again in a second. I plodded to the bathroom to have a hot shower, and to try and forget how incredibly annoying Edward Cullen was.

 

X xXxX

 

Monday morning, arguably the worst morning of the week. I wished I could just do away with the conflicted emotions inside of me. I wanted nothing more than to break through Edward’s walls and become his friend, but I was also incredibly annoyed at his attitude. He was being down right rude, and I don’t think I had done anything to warrant his behaviour.

 

I parked my truck in the student parking lot and tried my best to ignore Edward who was ignoring me. I quickly caught up to Jessica and gave her a quick hug, “Hey Jess, how was your weekend?”

 

J essica returned my hug and then shrugged, “Same as always, boring. There’s nothing to do in this town.” she lamented and I laughed at her theatrics,

 

We just have to make our own fun, don’t we?” I smiled playfully at her, “I spent Saturday exploring the woods, it was fun until I lost my shoes.”

 

J essica let out a surprised laugh, “How on earth did you lose your shoes?”

 

The bell rang out, letting us know that classes were starting. “I’ll tell you later. It’s a thrilling story, promise.” I called out over my shoulder as I rushed towards English class.

 

W hen lunch time rolled around I was happily prepared to regale my friends with the daring tale of how I had lost my shoes in the woods during my epic quest to find a shiny rock. I didn’t know whether to be annoyed or happy when my eyes landed on Edward, sitting at a table alone. His eyes met mine, and he slowly raised a hand and waved me over. I decided I was happily annoyed.

 

A s I past by my friend’s table Jessica grabbed my arm and whispered, “What’s going on? What does Edward want?” Her eyes were wide and her heartbeat gave away her giddy excitement.

 

I smiled at her and leaned down to whisper back, “I have no idea, but I’ll fill you in later. Promise.” I continued my walk over to Edward and sat down on the opposite side of the round plastic table. I folded my hands neatly in front of me, and I raised a questioning eyebrow at him.

 

Hello, Bella.” Edward spoke softly,

 

I gasped sarcastically, “He speaks!”

 

Edward chuckled, “I guess I deserve that.”

 

Yeah, you really do.” I grumbled and then reached across the table and slid Edward’s tray of uneaten food over to my side of the table. I started to pick at the food when I noticed Edward’s amused expression, “Oh, I’m sorry. Were you going to eat this? I mean, I have never actually seen you eat anything, so I just assumed.”

 

Edward’s expression hardened and I knew I had gone too far. I guess no one had ever pointed out that particular oddity before. A heavy silence fell over us and I sighed, “Was there a reason for you calling me over here?”

 

E dward’s stiff posture relaxed slightly, “I’m tired of trying to stay away from you.” His eyes flickered between my hands and my face, it was like he was embarrassed by the small confession.

 

Oh?” I asked innocently, but my hammering heart gave away my excitement. I hadn’t expected to wear him down so quickly.

 

I would really like it, if we could be friends.” It was a statement, not a question.

 

You’re going to give me emotional whiplash.” I muttered, “First you like me, then you save my life, and then you say you don’t want to be friends and avoid me at all costs, and now you want to be friends.” I listed of his insane behaviour with my fingers.

 

I said it would be better if we weren’t friends, not that I didn’t want to be.” Edward spoke in soft hushed tones.

 

Yup, well that clears that one up.” I rolled my eyes.

 

It would be. Better that is, if we weren’t friends. It would be safer.” Edward’s gaze met mine in a hard stare.

 

Because you are oh-so-dangerous.” I drawled sarcastically.

 

Yes, I am.” He said bluntly.

 

I chewed on my lip as I thought of how to respond, “We can be friends. I would really like that too.” I felt myself blush at the declaration. “ Here’s the thing though, friends don’t lie to each other.”

 

I can’t tell you the truth.” He spoke quickly.

 

I held up my hands in mock surrender, “That’s fine. Just don’t lie to me. Simple. Any questions?” I smiled happily.

 

Yes, just one.” He was smiling back at me from across the table.

 

Go ahead,”

 

How did you push me away?” He asked, a tight lipped on his lips.

 

O h shit. Anything but that question. “What do you mean?”

 

After the accident, you pushed me away so you could get up. How?” He turned his face into a dazzling smile, “Remember, friend’s don’t lie to each other.”

 

Maybe you’re just not as strong as you think.” I bit out as the bell rang. I quickly jumped up and made my escape.

 

I knew I wouldn’t be able to evade his questions for long, after all we were biology partners. At the very least I could use the few minutes it took for me to get to class to come up with a reasonable explanation. Another half-truth, something that would satisfy his question, without making him ask any more.

 

I somehow manage to beat him to class and sat down at the empty lab table. The class started to fill up slowly, and soon Mr Banner entered the room. I looked around and realised that Edward hadn’t turned up. Had I pissed him off with my non-answer? I quickly realised why Edward had skipped class as Mr Banner started to pass out blood typing kits.

 

F an-fucking-tastic. I was sure that the universe was conspiring against me, making my life much more difficult than it needed to be. Now I needed to find a way to duck out of the class, without raising any suspicions. Whatever I was going to do, I needed to do it soon. Because I was sure that if I pricked my finger and placed my very-not-human blood under a slide, that everything Charlie had built in Forks would come crumbling down around me. Why couldn’t I have just one easy day?

Chapter Text

 

 

When Mr Banner grabbed Mikes hand and pricked his finger with the lancet, I suddenly had an idea. I let out a pained gasp and brought my hand to cover my mouth as I turned away from the beading blood.

 

“Are you alright, Isabella?” Mr Banner asked worryingly.

 

I hoped that I was putting on a convincing show as I shook my head pathetically.

 

“Mike, could you please take her to the nurse?” Mr Banner sighed in an annoyed manner.

 

I felt a warm hand on my forearm and I let Mike pull it around and over his shoulder, I made a show of leaning heavily on him as he helped me out of my chair. “I think I might be sick.” I muttered for good measure. It seemed to work because Mike seemed more motivated then before to hurry me to the nurses office. I kept my head hanging low against my chest, and I was leaning heavily on Mike. I couldn’t stop my little show just yet.

 

“What happened?!” I heard a familiar voice demand. I peaked through my eyelashes to see Edward storming over to us at a barely controlled pace.

 

“I don’t know!” Squeaked Mike, obviously intimidated by the oncoming vampire. “We are blood typing in class and she just started to feel all faint. She didn’t even prick her finger!”

 

I let out a pitiful groan and pulled my free hand across my stomach as if I was feeling nauseous. I was obviously a better actor (I was acting, not lying I told myself) than I thought. Because suddenly I felt an ice cold hand on my face. He tipped my face up to meet his and I let him, hoping that I was looking pale and sickly. I knew I have the pale part down.

 

“I can take her from here.” Edward said, still looking at me.

 

“I was supposed to take her!” Mike tried to defend himself weakly.

 

There was nothing Mike could do when Edward suddenly scooped me up into his arm. I felt my heart stutter in my chest at the sudden proximity. Whatever Mike was going to say was lost as Edward carried me down the empty hall towards the office. I tried my best to ignore the obvious lack of heartbeat in Edwards chest. Somehow it didn’t bother me. It just felt so right, having my head resting against his chest as he carried me in his arms. Oh god, I was turning into a total idiot. What kind of self respecting werewolf is this smitten with a vampire?

 

The office door swung open and I heard the soft gasp of Mrs Cope.

 

“She fainted. They are blood typing in Biology.” I heard Edward say, his soft voice rumbled against my ear.

 

“There’s always one.” Mrs Cope sighed, “This way, dear” She said. We were moving again now, I kept my eyes mostly closed as I was placed on a firm bed. Then a moist cloth was placed on my head. “Just rest here a moment dear, you will be fine soon.” Mrs Cope murmured in a motherly way. I heard her retreating footsteps and the soft click of the door. I risked a peak, opening one eye a tiny bit. Once I was sure that she was gone I shot up on the small cot.

 

I flung the damp wash cloth to the side and wiped the moisture on my forehead with my sleeve.

 

“Bella!” Edward sounded shocked, he then looked me over seeing me sitting there calmly, a triumphant smile on my face. “You were faking.” He said accusingly, his eyes narrowing at me suspiciously.

 

“Yes.” I nodded plainly, my face morphing to a mask of seriousness. I was betrayed by the glint of amusement in my eyes.

 

“Why would you fake fainting at the sight of blood?” His question tapered off and I could almost hear the gears in his head turning. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, he was obviously working through something. I knew that vampires were intelligent, much more intelligent than humans. I wasn’t sure who was smarter, werewolves or vampires, and I was excited over the idea that maybe I would be able to get an answer to that question some time in the future. “You faked it so you wouldn’t have to prick your finger.” He said slowly, his eyes were hard and judging my reaction carefully.

 

I made sure to keep my face blank, a practised poker face. I knew that it didn’t do much good, given that my heart was pounding away in my chest. “Why wouldn’t you want to?” He left the question open again. I sat on the cot patiently, I wasn’t going to give him any more information. “You’re not human.” This wasn’t a question. It was a clear and decisive statement.

 

I swallowed thickly. I didn’t expect him to say that. You’re one to talk.” I scoffed, and then immediately regretted it. Humour was a shitty defence mechanism.

 

So you’re not denying it?” He raised an eyebrow,

 

And neither are you.” I retorted sharply.

 

B oth of our heads snapped around at the sound of the door opening, “Oh, are you feeling better?” Mrs Cope asked,

 

Yes, much. I think I just needed a moment.” I nodded,

 

“Good, because we have another one.” She said and tossed a look over her shoulder.

 

I quickly jumped down off the hard cot, “Okay, thank you Mrs Cope.” I said as I quickly pushed past her and out of the office, barely giving Mike a smile as he carried in the next victim.

 

I thought I was quick enough to evade Edward, I was very wrong. A cold hand grabbed my wrist, stopping me short in the hallway outside the office. “Are you going to explain?” He asked in a hushed tone.

 

Are you?” I shot back, tilting my head to my side and narrowing my eyes.

 

Bella,” He said my name in an exasperated sigh, his free hand running through his hair in frustration.

 

For a split second I wondered what it would feel like to do that myself. I quickly shook myself out of the daze I had found myself in at the thought of running my hands through Edward Cullen’s hair.

 

I know. You can’t tell me the truth. Well neither can I.” I pulled my wrist out of his hands and crossed my arms across my chest, trying to make my posture seem serious and sinister. I don’t think it was working, given that Edward was almost a whole head taller than me.

 

Why not?” His words were barely above a whisper.

 

Because it’s dangerous.” I bit my lip and broke eye contact, choosing instead to stare at my shoes.

 

Dangerous? For who?”

 

For you.” I said quickly, “And for me.” I shook my head and ran a frustrated hand through my hair. “It’s dangerous for both of us. I want to be your friend, Edward. Really I do.” I slowly raised my eyes to meet his again. He was looking at me so intently, silently waiting for me to finish. I don’t know what had caused it, but the flood gates were now well and truly open. And all the worries and frustrations I had internalised over the past week came pouring out. “I know that you are probably right, that it would be better if we weren’t friends-” A pained look crossed Edward face, “-but fuck that.” I spat out and couldn’t help my amused smirk at the scandalised look on Edwards face. Not for the first time I wondered just how old Edward Cullen really was. “We both have secrets.” I stated plainly, “That much is painfully obvious,” I laughed humorlessly, “And we can’t tell them to each other for whatever reason. But I don’t see why that means we can’t still be friends.” I shrugged,

 

Edward seemed to mull over my little rant for a second, before a conspiratorial gleam came into his eyes. “What do you suggest?” He asked with a crooked smile.

 

We can be friends. We don’t lie to each other, but we don’t have to necessarily tell each other the whole truth, either.” I bit my lip for a moment as I thought through what I was going to say next. “That way, we can still be close, but we don’t have to tell each other anything that we don’t want to. We acknowledge that the other person has secrets, but respect that they are secrets for a reason.” I did feel a little guilty. After all, I already knew his secret. I knew what he was. Sure, there were the smaller details of it that I didn’t know, but I did know the main one.

 

E dward too k a small step closer to me, “You want to be close to me?” He breathed out in a whisper. Without warning I lost any thoughts that I had been having, my mind turning completely blank.

 

I t took an embarrassingly long moment before I came back to myself. “Don’t let it go to your head.” I muttered as I quickly turned and made my escape down the hall, heading towards gym. I tried my best to ignore the loud musical laughter of Edward as it echoed down the hall.

 

 

I was changing out of my gym clothes when Jessica suddenly appeared by my side, almost bouncing in her excitement. Before I could say anything, Jessica blurted “Are you dating Edward Cullen!?”

 

What?” I sputtered, pausing with only one leg in my jeans. I stared at her wide-eyed, my mouth gaping like a fish out of water at her accusation. What the hell? You have one conversation with a guy and suddenly people think you’re dating?

 

You were sitting together at lunch!” Jessica crossed her arms defiantly as if she had just caught me in the biggest lie.

 

I laughed as I pull my jeans on the rest of the way, “That hardly means we’re dating, Jess. We’re friends, that’s it.” I wasn’t about to admit to her, or to anyone else that I secretly hoped that one day we could be more. I don’t think I was even ready to admit that to myself just yet, not completely anyway.

 

Mike said he carried you to the nurses office.” Jessica’s eyes narrowed and a mischievous smile played at her lips. Bridal style, sounds pretty romantic to me.”

 

Oh my god, Jess. Seriously?” I laughed as I closed my locker, “I felt sick because we were blood typing in biology, and yes Edward carried me, but only because I thought I was going to throw up!”

 

Ew, gross” Jess wrinkled her nose and I chuckled at her disgusted expression.

 

Exactly, so I wouldn’t really call it romantic. I spent the entire time trying not to barf all over him.” It’s an act, not a lie. I wasn’t lying to my new friend. I was just continuing an act to keep her from a terrible truth. Yes, I was protecting her.

 

Whatever, it’s still exciting.” Declared Jess with a flip of her hair, “Edward Cullen hasn’t shown this much interest in anyone, ever. I wonder why he’s so interested in you?She mused.

 

Remember what I said about trying to figure out the motives of Edward Cullen?” I chastised playfully as we started our walk towards the school parking lot.

 

Something about him being a pigeon?” Jess’s nose crinkled in confusion, trying to remember what I had told her a week before.

 

I let out a surprised laugh at her choice of words, “Close enough.” I snickered. “ See you tomorrow.” I gave Jess a quick hug goodbye and headed towards my truck.

 

W hen I arrived at my truck I was surprised to see Eric there waiting for me. He had his hands in his pockets and was nervously shifting from one foot to the other. “Hey Eric, whats up?” I greeted casually as I opened the door and thr ew my bag inside.

 

Did you know that there’s a dance? A week from Saturday?” Eric asked meekly.

 

Uh? I think I remember seeing a poster or something, maybe. Why?” I cocked my head to the side in confusion.

 

It’s girls choice, ya know.” He shyly kicked at the gravel on the ground. What was he getting at? I concentrated slightly, and focused on tuning out all the other sounds that assaulted my supernatural hearing. Eric’s heart beat was rapid, but not from physical exertion. He was nervous, and now that I was focusing all my attention on him, I could faintly smell the familiar stench of anxiety.

 

Do you have something to ask me?” I asked slowly, carefully. I needed this to go the right way. I liked Eric’s company, he was funny and liked comic books and science fiction. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, or embarrass him so badly that he stopped being my friend.

 

Well, I was wondering if you were going to ask me?” He eventually squeaked out.

 

I sighed sadly, there it was. “Oh no, Eric.” I said softly, “ That’s really nice of you. But I wont be going to the dance.” I smiled politely at him.

 

“Alright,” He said quickly, “See you later.”

 

Before I could say anything else he scurried away. Now he was gone, and my concentration lapsed, the endless background noise of heart beats and conversations returned like static on a radio station.

 

XxXxX

 

I woke up on Tuesday morning to a torrential downpour outside my bedroom window. Rain was falling fast and heavy, and it showed no sign of stopping any time soon. I made sure to protect myself with a heavy rain coat as I rushed my way to my truck.

 

I slowly pulled into a parking space in the student parking lot and mentally prepared myself for the mad dash towards the closest cover. I opened the door, and pulled my jacket closer around me and jumped out. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t greeted with the sudden coldness of the heavy rain. I looked up and saw Edward Cullen standing there with a very large black umbrella out over the both of us.

 

Hello, Bella.” Edward greeted me with a smooth smile.

 

Hey,” I paused unsure of what to say.

 

I thought I could walk you to class.” Edward said,

 

Yeah, sure, okay. That would be nice.” I stumbled through my words as a blush rose to my cheeks at my stuttering.

 

E dward just chuckled at me and placed my hand in the crook of his elbow so he could lead me towards the closest school building.

 

So, what’s this I hear about me being a pigeon?” Edward’s eyes twinkled with amusement,

 

You know it’s rude to eavesdrop on others conversations.” I pointed out

 

It was a conversation about me, though.” Edward defended, I looked up at him to see a playful smirk on his face.

 

I likened trying to understand your motivations to trying to teach string theory to a pigeon. Completely useless.” I shrugged, “I never actually said that you’re a pigeon.”

 

A s we came closer to the school building I saw Angela waiting for me under the cover of the awning that connected two buildings. I smiled over at her and gave her a little wave, she gave me a nervous smile in return.

 

O nce we had arrived under the cover of the awning Angela hurried over to me, “Hey Bella, could I talk with you for a minute?” She asked, casting worried glances at Edward.

 

Sure thing,” I smiled at her before turning to Edward, “I’ll see you later.” Edward looked like he wanted to say something but after a quick glance in Angela’s direction he quickly changed his mind.

 

Of course,” He smiled politely before turning and walking away.

 

What’s wrong?” I asked, my eyebrows furrowing and put a gentle hand on Angela’s shoulder. I didn’t need to focus on her to see how anxious she was. She was nervously pulling on her finger-tips, and shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other.

 

Can I ask you for some advice?” She asked quietly,

 

I smiled happily, no one had ever asked me for advice before . “Of course!” I breathed.

 

So uh, do you know Ben? Ben Cheney?” Angela asked, big eyes blinking nervously,

 

Not personally.” I shrugged, “He’s a senior, right?”

 

Yeah. I was thinking about asking him to the spring dance.” Angela admitted this in almost a whisper.

 

I think that’s a great idea!” I chirped happily, I was grateful that the advice she was after was as simple as dating advice. I was worried that it may have been more complex, with larger repercussions should she follow my advice and it go badly.

 

Really?” Angela gave a hesitant smile. “What if he says no?”

 

Then he says no.” Angela baulked at my simple response, “I mean, yeah it would suck and be super embarrassing, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Right?”

 

I guess you’re right.” Angela murmured, her posture seeming to relax a little.

 

And you will never know unless you ask. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I said confidently.

 

I t seemed that my confidence was rubbing off on Angela, she stopped fidgeting and stood up straighter with a determined look in her eyes. “You’re totally right.”

 

Awesome.” I beamed as the first bell rang, “Let me know how it goes!” I called out as I hurried towards my English class.

 

 

 

I walked into the lunch room excited to hear how it had gone between Angela and Ben. I scanned the lunch room and saw my friends sitting together chatting happily, I then saw Edward sitting alone. He gave me a crooked smile and waved at me, beckoning me over.

 

I strode into the room, and walked quickly past my friend’s who shot me questioning looks. “I’ll be right back.” I quickly said to them as I walked over to Edward.

 

Bella.” Edward greeted me with a smile as I approached. I didn’t respond as I reached down and picked up his tray of untouched food with one hand, and grabbed the back of an empty chair with the other. I silently turned back to my friends and walked towards my regular table. I noticed the subtle quietening of conversations around me as the plastic chair screeched loudly against the linoleum flooring. I pretended not to notice people watching me with unbridled curiosity as I marched towards my friends.

 

I arrived at my table with a huff, dropping the plastic tray loudly on the table. I pulled the chair closer and swung it around to face the table, pushing it in next to the other spare chair. I sat on the other spare seat and turned to look at Edward. I smirked at his utterly confused expression before mimicking the same ‘come here’ gesture he had just made a moment ago. Everyone at my table had fallen silent, watching me with shocked expression. Except Jessica who looked utterly in awe at my audacity, and seemed to be overflowing with excitement over this new development. I had purposefully put the new chair between myself and Jessica. A detail that hadn’t escaped Jessica’s keen eye. This way, she had a front seat to any conversation that Edward and I would share. I had hoped that this fact would persuade Edward not to ask any unfortunate questions, given that Jessica would be able to hear every word.

 

E dward didn’t break eye contact as he slowly and stiffly rose from his chair. I couldn’t help but noticed that most of the conversations had now died down around us as everyone watched Edward slowly walk towards our little group. I had to admit, I was enjoying seeing how confused and uncomfortable Edward was. Clearly this was not something he had been expecting.

 

E dward gracefully lowered himself down onto the spare chair and I gave him a stunning smile as my eyes glinted with hidden mirth at his awkwardness. “ Edward,” I greeted playfully, my grin turning into a mischievous smirk. “ So nice of you to join us.”

 

You didn’t give me much of a choice, you stole my lunch.” Edward seemed to overcome his awkwardness with ease, and shot me a playful smile in return.

 

If it were up to you, you would spend all your time in brooding seclusion. As your friend it’s my duty to get you to open up.” I declared tauntingly as I grabbed the apple off of Edward’s tray and took a big bite. “Friends don’t let friends brood alone.” I mumbled around the food in my mouth. A drip of apple juice slipped from the corner of my mouth and dribbled over my chin. A bright red blush rose to my cheeks as I swiped at the juice with the end of my sleeve.

 

You shouldn’t speak with your mouth full, Bella.” Angela chastised playfully, she was the first of my friends who seemed brave enough to speak up. “Hello, Edward. It’s nice to meet you.” Angela said politely.

 

I t seemed like that was all it took. The rest of my friends restarted whatever conversations they were having before my little display. I smiled to myself at my small victory.

 

I looked over to Angela and waited for her to stop her conversation to Eric about a new comic book they had both read. When there was a lull I spoke up, “Angela, are you going to tell me what happened with Ben?” I raised my eyebrows suggestively.

 

What?” Jessica’s attention was immediately pulled from whatever she had been talking to Mike about by the promise of fresh gossip. “Something happened between you and Ben Cheney?” Jessica asked in a demanding voice.

 

A ngela shrunk back on herself a little, suddenly overwhelmed by all the attention. “Uh yeah. I spoke to him and I asked him to the spring dance.” She mumbled as she looked down at the lunch table.

 

That’s great Angela!” I congratulated her for her small achievement, “What did he say?” I gently prompted.

 

“He said yes!” Angela’s olive skin reddened slightly as she blushed, “I really didn’t think he would, but then he did.” She gushed shyly, “Thank you, Bella. I wouldn’t have had the courage to ask if it wasn’t for you.” She smiled over at me.

 

I waved her away, “Sure you would have. You had it in you all along, you just needed a little push that's all.” I shrugged as I continued to steal food off of Edward’s tray.

 

J essica started going on about different dresses and what colours would best go with Angela’s skin tone and hair. I smiled as I silently listened to them both.

 

E dward seemed to notice my not-so-subtle theft of his food and pushed his tray over to me. “You’re a good friend.” He murmured softly,

 

I didn’t look at him as I shrugged, accepting his lunch tray. “I try my best.” I quickly finished off Edward’s food just as the first bell rang out. I made a move to pick up the tray to throw out the rubbish but Edward quickly grabbed it before I could. I followed him as he got rid of the rubbish and together we walked towards biology.

 

W e walked down the hall in silence for a moment, before Edward eventually said. “That was some stunt you pulled at lunch.” A playful but slightly annoyed tone colouring his words.

 

Honestly, I don’t know what you expected me to do.” I said as we continued our way to class. “I didn’t want to abandon my friends.”

 

E dward pushed open the biology classroom door and held it open for me, I walked in and took my seat at our table. We were one of the first students to arrive. “ I suppose that is fair.” Edward responded as he sat down next to me. “ Although why you made me sit next to Jessica Stanley is beyond me. The girl is insufferable.” Edward chuckled playfully, clearly expecting me to agree with his assessment of my friends.

 

I frowned at him and swatted him on the shoulder, putting a little more strength than necessary behind it. “Jess is nice, and she is my friend. So shut up.” I grumbled at him.

 

Edward’s hand fluttered to his shoulder as a shocked expression crossed his face. “ I’m sorry, Bella. I didn’t mean anything by it.”

 

Yes, you did. I get it, Jess is loud and some people,” I gave Edward a pointed look “Can’t handle that. But that doesn’t give you the right to insult my friends.” I turned away from him, looking down at the empty table top.She’s the first person who has ever been genuinely nice to me. I didn’t have any friends back in Phoenix.I admitted sadly, my voice dropping to a near whisper.

 

I felt a cold hand land gently on my shoulder and I looked up to see Edward looking at me with a pained expression. “I really am sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. It was just my poor attempt at humour, I didn’t mean to be so callous.” He murmured to me, his voice low to keep our conversation private from the prying students around us.

 

M y anger instantly melted and a gentle smile tugged at my lips, “You’re forgiven.” I declared. Just in time too, as Mr Banner entered the room then and quickly started the lesson.

 

W e didn’t have any more opportunities to chat as Mr Banner droned on about something that I already knew. Luckily, the hour went past pretty quickly.

 

I was collecting my notes and textbook into a messy pile when I noticed Mike hovering awkwardly near my table. I looked up, “Hey Mike.” I greeted warily, I hadn’t missed his less than casual demeanour. “ What can I do for you?”

 

Well, you see.” Mike cleared his throat. “Jess asked me to the spring dance.”

 

T he knot forming in my stomach disappeared and I smiled widely at Mike, “That’s great!”

 

Oh, I haven’t said yes yet.” Mike shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other and I noticed his eyes were darting between myself and Edward. I risked a quick glance behind me to notice that Edward was barely containing his clear amusement at this situation. He had a hand over his mouth in an attempt to hide his smile.

 

I quickly turned back to Mike, eyebrows furrowing in confusion. “Why not?”

 

I was kinda hoping that you would ask me.” Mike said, standing up a little straighter.

 

Uh, Mike. No I’m not going to the dance.” I quickly blurted out.

 

Why not?” Mike sniffed.

 

I’m going to Seattle that weekend. You should really tell Jessica yes, it’s rude to keep her waiting.” I quickly shoved all my paperwork and books into my bag as I spoke, desperate to get out of this terribly awkward situation I had somehow found myself in. Before Mike could say anything else, I had slung my bag over my shoulder and hurried towards gym.

 

 

 

T he rain had stopped by the end of the school day. I trudged my way through the puddles and mud and happily arrived at my truck. The engine roared to life and I started to pull out of my spot. Suddenly Edward’s silver Volvo appeared, cutting me off as it idled in the road as he waited for his siblings.

 

I made eye contact with Edward through his rear-view mirror and raised my hands as if to say ‘what the hell are you doing?’. I could see his eyes crinkle with laughter and I rolled my eyes and leaned back in my seat.

 

I jumped when I heard a knock on my window, I turned to see Tyler standing there. His arm was still in a cast from the accident. I rolled down the stubborn window and looked at him, “Sorry Tyler. I’m stuck behind Cullen.” I gestured at the offending car.

 

Oh yeah, I know. I was just wondering if you wanted to go to the spring dance with me?” He grinned cheekily.

 

I stared at him for a moment in pure confusion. We had barely spoken more than two words to each other, and besides him almost killing me with his van had almost no previous interaction. I didn’t bother with any polite niceties this time. “No. I’m going to Seattle that day.” I said plainly, but still plastered a polite smile on my face that didn’t quiet reach my eyes.

 

Yeah, that’s what Mike said.” Tyler shrugged.

 

I sighed exasperatedly “Then why bother asking?”

 

I thought you were just letting him down easy.”

 

No. I am really going away that Saturday.” My mood was souring quickly and if Tyler didn’t leave soon I was worried I would say something I would regret.

 

Alright. Well maybe next time!” Tyler grinned happily and before I could refute what he said he bounded off towards his car.

 

I turned back to catch Edward looking at me through his rear-view mirror, eyes gleaming with mischief. I noticed that his siblings were just arriving now, gracefully lowering themselves into the car. I made a rude gesture at him with one hand, while I loudly honked my horn with the other. I could see his shoulders move with laughter, and he gave me an innocent little wave as he pulled away and sped off out of the parking lot.

 

I grumbled to myself as I shifted the truck into gear and started towards home. Edward Cullen would get whats coming to him, I was going to make sure of it .

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

I woke up on Wednesday morning more excited than I had been in a long time. I felt like for once in my life I actually belonged. I had a small group of friends who I liked, and more importantly, they liked me. It wasn’t just association out of convenience, they actually considered me a friend. Not to mention, I had made significant head way with Edward. I felt more comfortable now. He had uncovered a partial truth and that felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

 

Of course I didn’t expect for his curiosity to be satiated. I was sure Edward was just as enthusiastically inquisitive as I was. A life of slowly prying information out of Charlie had made me especially adept at catching people up in their lies, and connecting dots that otherwise would seem unrelated. I knew that Charlie didn’t lie to me on purpose, and that he felt he was protecting me from the darker sides of himself. That didn’t stop me though, and every little puzzle piece of information I had gathered on my enigmatic father had been filed away inside my brain, ready to be pulled out and used if I ever needed it. I was more than certain that Edward was doing the exact same thing with me.

 

When I left the house that morning, I noticed two very interesting things. Firstly, the shoes I had lost that weekend in my adventure in the woods had been returned to me. There they sat, innocently unaware that they were part of a much larger plot. Someone had found them, and then spent time cleaning them of all the mud and moss that had covered them during my trek. Naturally I had some assumptions on who had returned my shoes, namely one very annoying vampire with personal space issues. The second thing that I noticed, is that someone had fixed my broken side mirror. At first glance I thought that maybe it had just been welded back together, but I could find no evidence of a seam. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that someone had spent the time to find an exact match for my ancient and rusting truck. However I did know better, and a quick glance into my truck’s cab showed the broken side mirror still sitting there mockingly. Was this a vampire’s idea of friendship? If so it was really freaking weird. Then again, it wasn’t like I was an authority on what normal friendship was like. So who was I to judge?

 

I pulled into the school parking lot and jumped out of the cab, happily slinging my book bag over my shoulder. In my excited movements, I managed to drop my keys. I sighed heavily as I stared at the traitorous keys. I slowly bent down to pick them off the ground when a white hand flashed into my field of vision, snatching them away.

 

I straightened to see Edward there, a finger looped through my key-chain and a crooked smile on his face. “Ah, Edward Cullen. The fastest man alive.” I snickered as I swiped my keys back from the annoyingly sneaky vampire.

 

“What?” Edward chuckled as he tilted his head silently in his confusion.

 

“The fastest man alive?” I raised my eyebrows, “Barry Allen? DC Comics? The flash?” I continued to spout off clues as he continued to give me a puzzled expression. “Jesus Christ on a cracker. It’s not funny if I have to explain it to you.” I grumbled as I started my way towards the school buildings.

 

I heard Edward jog to catch up to me, musical laughter floating around the air. “ Hey, wait up!” Very quickly Edward caught up to me and matched my pace, “I had something to ask you, before you went and ran away from me.”

 

I didn’t run away from you.” I argued childishly. “Well go on then. Ask your question.” I waved my hand indifferently, as if the thought of him asking questions didn’t send me into a panic.

 

I was wondering, if a week from Saturday, you know the day of the school dance-” Whatever Edward was going to say was cut off as I whirled on him angrily.

 

I pointed an accusing finger at his sm ug face, “Do you think you’re being funny? ” I bit out, my frustrations about being trapped by him in the parking lot returning with violent force.

 

He put his hands up in surrender, but he still had that annoyingly attractive smirk on his face. “Are you going to let me finish, Bella?”

 

I narrowed my eyes, “You’re on thin fucking ice, buddy.” I warned and tried not to laugh at the scandalised look that replaced the playful smirk. I quietly tucked away Edward’s aversion to the most mundane of swears in my vault of facts-to-use-later.

 

What I was going to ask was. Did you want company on your trip to Seattle?” Edward regained his composure and smiled pleasantly at me.

 

I blinked as I considered what he had said, and then I remembered the lie I had spouted off to my pursuers yesterday. “ I’m not actually going to Seattle on Saturday.” I whispered conspiratorially, while giving him a look that said I thought you were smarter than that . “I just said that to get a bunch of hormon ally charged teenage boys off my case.”

 

E dward chuckled, “I figured as much,” He shrugged, “ Still, since you wont be going to the dance did you want to do something together?” Edward’s eyes flickered from my own to the ground. Was he nervous? More than ever I resented his lack of heartbeat, I couldn’t read him at all. Charlie assured me that my empathic abilities would develop with time, and soon I would be able to gauge with pinpoint accuracy the feelings of everyone in a crowded room with little effort . Charlie had way more faith in my future as a werewolf than I did. I was completely useless.

 

I took a moment to collect my thoughts, “Like a date?” I asked in a teasing tone, or at least I hoped it sounded teasing and not pathetically hopeful.

 

E dward stared at me with wide unblinking golden eyes, “If that’s what you want.” He breathed out, apparently unable to form a complete sentence.

 

Oh, wow. I guess I was better at this whole werewolf thing than I gave myself credit for. I beamed up at him, my eyes crinkling happily. “You should remember to blink more.” I whispered secretively before I took off toward English leaving a thoroughly dazed vampire in my wake.

 

W hen I walked into the cafeteria I was pleased to see Edward already sitting at my usual table with my human friends. He seemed stiff and awkward, a tight lipped smile plastered on his face as he politely listened to the chatter around him. When I entered the room his eyes met mine and his stoic expression shifted into a much happier on e. I returned his smile with my own and walked over to the group.

 

I couldn’t help but risk a glance at the rest of Edward’s vampire family, curiously wondering what they thought of this new development. Curiosity killed the cat, or in this case werewolf. All their amber eyes were trained on me with a variety of expressions. Alice seemed the most pleasant, a wide smile breaking her face in two. Emmett seemed amused, a funny half-smirk causing a dimple in one cheek. Rosalie and Jasper’s expressions are what scared me. Rosalie looked down right murderous , her hard vampiric stare made all sorts of warning bells go off inside my brain. A large lump formed in my throat and I fought the instinct to bolt out of the closest open window. Jasper looked just as hostile, although it looked like he was trying to hide it a little more than Rosalie. Looking at him now, I quickly realised he was the largest threat. I had noticed before the plethora of crescent shaped scars that covered his exposed skin, but now I truly appreciated the sheer number of them. If it ever came down to it, he would be the first I would have to deal with.

 

I fought against every instinct I had an d turned my back to the table of vampires. I could feel a familiar warmth fill my muscles, the same I felt just as the full moon rose. There is a threat here. Protect yourself. FIGHT!

 

I took a deep calming breath and looked at Edward, and suddenly all those instincts melted away. Edward had obviously noticed me noticing his family’s expressions, and had become worried. He was frowning and as I came closer I gave him what I hoped was a reassuring smile. I sat down beside him, and whispered under my breath. “I don’t think your siblings like me stealing you away.”

 

They will just have to cope.” Edward whispered back, a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. Before I could steal his food myself, he covertly pushed his lunch tray in front of me.

 

I was totally oblivious to anything else happening around me, happily smiling at Edward in our own little bubble. I was rudely pulled back to reality when Jessica threw an empty water bottle at me. With reflexes much too fast for any human, I instantly snapped my head in her direction and reached up and caught the water bottle before it could collide with my head. Jessica’s eyes went wide at my reaction, “Whoa, good reflexes.” She muttered

 

“What the hell, Jess?” I laughed and playfully threw the water bottle back at her, hoping to put the incident behind us.

 

“I was trying to talk to you, but it was like you weren’t even here. I had to resort to extreme measures.” Jessica laughed loudly,

 

“Well you have my attention now. What can I do for you?”

 

“Angela and I were going to go to Port Angeles on Saturday, look for dresses for the dance. I wanted to ask if you wanted to come along?” Jess seemingly had forgotten my supernatural reaction and fell easily back into normal conversation.

 

“I’m not going to the dance, Jess.” I reminded her.

 

“Yeah, we know.” Angela spoke up, “I just thought you might wanna come along anyway? Help us pick something out. If you leave me alone with Jess who knows what kind of dress I will end up with?”

 

“Hey! I am not that bad!” Jessica protested loudly, crossing her arms over her chest.

 

I smiled at them both, “Yeah I guess that would be fun. It would be nice to get to a book shop anyway.”

 

“Awesome, it’s settled then. We will take my car.” Jess declared and then looked at me, “Do you have a cell phone?” She asked,

 

“Oh yeah!” I reached into my book bag for my barely used cell, one of the newer models that Renee had insisted I needed, “Here, put your number in.” I said handing it over.

 

Jessica fiddled with my phone for a minute before handing it back, “I put both mine and Angela’s numbers in there. I also made a group text for all of us. We can work out the details of our trip later.” She smiled triumphantly. I was more than happy to let her take the reigns in our little group. Being a shy and awkward werewolf meant that I didn’t have much practice with making friends or arranging group outings. I was relieved that Jessica seemed to be on top of it, and I was secretly elated with the idea of going shopping with my friends. Just another human experience I had never had before.

 

XxxXxX

 

Much to my dismay, the rest of the week was unnaturally sunny. Which of course meant no vampires, and no Edward. Even though I knew I was walking a very thin line with him, I enjoyed his company. I loved the way we bickered and joked, and the way he would look at me like I was the most interesting and frustrating person he had ever met. My saving grace was the weekend shopping trip that I was looking forward to. Charlie was over the moon (pun intended) when I mentioned the upcoming trip. He was all too aware of my previous troubles when it came to making friends with the humans teenagers around me. Charlie worried that I would never be comfortable around humans, masquerading in human society like he did. I had the same worries, but now I had hope. Hope that I could at least pretend to be normal.

 

When Saturday finally arrived I was beyond excited. Over the past few days I had been texting with Jess and Angela and it was decided that Jess would pick up Angela and me at around 2pm. We could then go shopping and take our time and then go for dinner at one of the small restaurants available. I spent the morning pacing the house and checking my purse to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, even though all I had was my wallet, phone, and a few incidentals. Finally at 2:15 I heard a car pull up in the driveway and the car horn honking loudly.

 

I grinned to myself and grabbed my purse, which was more of an old satchel than anything and bounded out the front door. Jessica waved at me from the front seat looking as excited as I felt, and Angela gave me a friendly smile. I hurried to the back passenger side and slid in behind Angela. I clapped my hands once loudly, “Lets do this!” I grinned.

 

Jessica threw her head back and laughed before pulling out of my driveway, “You’re very excited considering you’re not even buying a dress.” Jess chuckled.

 

“I’ve never been shopping with friends before, so sue me if I am overly enthusiastic.” I hastily buckled my seat belt as Jess had already turned onto the highway.

 

“Never?” Angela asked, turning in her seat briefly to give me a look. It was a mix of surprise and what I thought was pity. I hoped it wasn’t pity.

 

“I didn’t really have friends back in Phoenix.” I shrugged as if it were no big deal and not a sore spot.

 

“Well that’s their mistake, you’re a riot!” Jess waved her hands dramatically around the car and for a split second I worried about her driving abilities. “The way you corralled Edward Cullen to our table the other day? Classic. I would pay money to see that again.” Jess giggled to herself at the memory and I laughed along with her. Suddenly the music on the radio changed and with an ear piercing squeal of delight Jessica turned it up.

 

For the rest of the drive the three of us just sang along to the music, laughing and teasing each other for our terrible singing voices. It was easy, and nice, and for a split second I felt like I perfectly fit into the world around me. I wasn’t a werewolf, I wasn’t some monster who couldn’t control herself. I was just a regular teenage girl, hanging out and joking around with her friends.

 

Jessica pulled up to the only department store in the small city, “Okay, here’s the plan.” Jess twisted in her seat so she could see both Angela and me. “We go in, find dresses and shoes and whatever else. Then we can walk to the restaurant from here.” Jessica’s eyes held a stern determination in them, and I felt like a foot solider being readied for battle by a weary general.

 

“Sir, yes, sir” I gave her a mock salute with an impish grin on my face before jumping out of the car.

 

I didn’t really have any expectations when it came to the shopping trip. I had no experiences to compare it to. No matter what I had been expecting, nothing would have prepared me for Jessica’s hand appearing from behind a curtain and viciously pulling me into her dressing room. The human girl had actually managed to surprise me.

 

“Jess!” I gasped as I regained my bearings, “What in the world are you doing?”

 

“I am stuck.” Jessica whispered, her eyes wide with fear and anxiety.

 

I couldn’t help myself as I let out an incredulous laugh, “What?” I giggled.

 

“Isabella Swan, this is not funny!” Jessica scowled and swatted my arm in frustration. She then winced and pulled her hand away, shaking it out. I pretended not to notice. “I tried on this dress, because it’s totally gorge and now I can’t get it off!” She was still speaking in hushed tones.

 

“Well how did you get it on?” I raised an eyebrow and put my hand to my mouth to hide my smirk. Jessica’s face was becoming red with embarrassment and anger, and standing so close to her in the small enclosed dressing room her racing heart beat was echoing in my ears.

 

“How do you think? I pulled it over my freaking head! God!” She then started to bunch up the long skirt of the dress and started to pull it off, I tried not to stare at her long slender legs or exposed mid-drift. “But now-” Jessica gasped, her face lost in a sea of purple fabric as she wrestled with the material that was collecting at her mid section, “- I can’t get it over my god damn boobs!” With an exasperated huff she dropped the fabric and it fell back down around her ankles.

 

I bit my lip to stop myself from falling into a fit of giggles at my friend’s predicament. “I don’t know Jess.” I said as I eyed her dress dubiously, “You may just have to wear this dress for the rest of your life.”

 

“You are so not helping right now!” She grumbled, “What am I going to do!?” She demanded with a childish stomp of her foot.

 

“Okay, first. Take a big deep breath for me.” I waited while Jess did as I asked, the redness in her face lessened and I could hear her heart rate slow, “Better?” I raised and eyebrow and Jess nodded, “Right. Here’s what we are going to do. Lift it up, and I will help you stretch it and pull it off. Okay?”

 

“Okay.” Jessica nodded seriously, as if this were a life and death situation and not a mild inconvenience. Jess slowly gathered up the material again and started to pull off the dress. When it again became stuck just under her boobs I moved forward to do my part.

 

“Okay, this will be easier if you bend over and I can pull it downwards.” I instructed, with her face once again buried in a mountain of synthetic silk I could hear her heart beat pick up its pace as her anxiety returned. “Don’t stress or freak out, it will just make things worse.” I warned.

 

Jessica didn’t respond as she did as I said. I eased my fingers under the dress, trying to make as little contact with Jessica’s skin as I could, “Okay, as I pull start working your way backwards. Take a step or two.” I slowly started to ease the dress over Jess’s bust and her arms went out towards me as I pulled the dress off her.

 

Soon, Jess was free from the hazardous item. She stood in front of me in nothing except for mismatching bra and panties, her face was flushed and she shot me a relieved smile. “I’m free!” She cheered softly, “You are a life saver!” Before I could do anything Jess shot out and gave me a tight hug.

 

“It’s nothing,” I mumbled as I untangled myself from Jessica’s arms, not wanting her to notice how warm I was compared to her. “I will go put this back, yeah?” I held up the dress.

 

Jessica scrunched up her nose, “Yeah, its way more hassle then it’s worth.” She waved me away and I made my escape, quickly slipping through the curtain of the dressing room.

 

When I came out I almost ran straight into Angela, who was returning to the dressing rooms to try on another dress. “Bella?” She cocked her head at me, a confused frown on her face.

 

“Oh don’t mind me.” I smiled, “Jess and I were just having a quick lovers tryst in the dressing rooms.” I announced loudly,

 

I heard a scandalised gasp from Jessica, “Bella! We were not, Angela! I swear!” Jessica protested loudly. Angela giggled at our antics and went into an empty dressing room to try on her dress.

 

For another hour or so I offered my limited opinions on the different dresses the girls tried on. I tried my best to reign Jessica in, not allowing her to pressure Angela into wearing something she wasn’t comfortable in. Soon it was almost 4pm, and I still wanted to find a book store before everything shut down for the evening.

 

“Hey, guys!” I called into the dressing rooms were I knew Jess and Angela were, “I am gonna head out and see if I can find a book store. You okay here?”

 

“Yeah!” Jess called out happily, her previous incident with the villainous dress already forgotten.

 

“I think so, yeah.” Angela replied softly.

 

“Cool, well I will meet you guys at the restaurant then?” I asked.

 

“Okay! I’ll text you the address.” I heard Jess’s muffled voice reply, she was no doubt in the middle of trying on another dress. I smiled warmly at the closed curtain were her voice had come from and quickly said goodbye to my friends as I hurried out of the department store and onto the street.

 

I walked along the lines of shops, passing a few little boutiques and jewellery stores. I allowed myself to follow the natural flow of shops as I kept my eyes peeled for any sign of a book store.

 

Eventually I found a shop that vaguely resembled a bookstore. It was proudly labelled as a ‘book emporium’. It had dream catchers and gem stones hanging in the windows. I entered the shop and a small bell announced my entrance. I looked around the cramped space. Every bookshelf was stuffed full of books in no discernible order, at the end of each row more books had been piled on top of each other in hazardous towers.

 

I slowly made my way through the stacks, plucking a few interesting titles out as I went. I had finished my Anthology of Lovecraft’s work a few days ago, so I was in desperate need of something else to occupy my free time. I managed to find a few books that interested me, in particular a small pocket sized guide to semi-precious gemstones. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a habit of roaming the woods and picking up anything shiny like an excitable crow, but if I did it would be nice to have a book to help me identify my finds.

 

I smiled politely at the older woman running the till as I made my purchases. When I left the store I realised I had spent much longer than I thought exploring the small book store. The sun was quickly approaching the horizon, I hurried along not wanting to be late for dinner. It didn’t take me long to realise that I had no idea where I actually was. In my wanderings around the shopping district I had become completely disorientated. I figured if I headed towards the sea that I would come across the board walk, and from there I would be able to get my bearings.

 

“Hey!” I heard a man call out, thinking nothing of it I kept walking. “Come on baby! Don’t be like that!” The same voice called, laughing crudely with another man. I risked a look behind me to see two men, probably in their mid 20’s walking a few paces behind me. They’re cheeks were flush and from the slight stumble in their walk I could tell they had gotten an early start with their drinking. I quickly turned back around and walked faster, taking random turns down random streets to see if they were going to follow me.

 

Another quick glance over my shoulder showed that they were indeed following me. I kept my head down and kept walking, I could hear their heavy footsteps coming closer to me.

 

“Hey! There you guys are!” Laughed a new voice, I looked up and in front of me stood a third man. He was larger than the others, taller and more muscled. “I see you guys brought a friend.” He leered at me,

 

“Leave me alone.” I bit out as I approached the man, there was no way to avoid walking past him. I had walked into a narrow ally in my attempt to find my way to the ocean, there was no way to go other than towards the stranger. Unless I wanted to turn around and walk towards the two men who had been following me.

 

I could feel my heartbeat in my ears, and a strange feeling was winding its way through my stomach making a lump of fear get stuck in my throat. I was getting much closer to the third stranger now, and all my senses were firing. I could hear the hearts of the three men, could smell their sweat and the stench of cheap booze on their breath. I could almost taste their disgusting lust, which I could feel rolling towards me in waves. I made a move to walk past the man, having to be much closer to him than I would have liked thanks to the large trash bins lining the alleyway.

 

“Where do you think you’re going?” The tall man jeered, reaching out and grabbing my wrist with a clammy hand. I stopped dead in my tracks and I instantly understood the peculiar emotion that was twisting in my gut and worming it’s way through my chest. It wasn’t fear, like I had assumed. No, it was anticipation. A ridiculous sense of excitement at a potentially violent confrontation.

 

As I felt that thick hand close tightly around my wrist, I lost all control. It was like my human brain had temporarily left for vacation and forgot to leave a note. Every animalistic impulse that drove me during a full moon came barrelling out the gates of my subconscious and easily took the reigns.

 

I quickly spun on my heels and grabbed the arm of the man who had taken hold of my wrist. A terrifyingly animalistic growl snaked its way up my throat as I twisted the arm of the man roughly. He let out a pathetic yelp and let go of my wrist as he fell to one knee. His once confident expression was now twisted in confusion and fear, and I smiled. “If you so much as look at another woman again I will find you. And I will rip your heart out with my teeth.” I spoke in a slow growling voice, enunciating each world carefully. “Do you understand me?” I leaned down closer to the whimpering man. He looked at me with wide glassy eyes, but offered me no answer. “DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!” I roared, my voice echoing off the concrete walls around us. I gripped his arm tighter and I felt the bones snap under my hand. A disgusting sound of breaking bones and painful howls surrounded me. I took a minuscule step towards the man, preparing to do much worse than just break his arm.


Suddenly a new noise broke me out of my rampage, tyres squealing against the tarmac. I looked up and saw a familiar silver Volvo speeding down the narrow alley. I instinctively dropped the mangled arm of the man to shield my eyes from the bright lights of the oncoming car. The car swerved and came to a stop, the passenger side door swinging open. I could see Edward in the dark interior of the car. “Bella!” He called out.

 

Just like that, everything came crashing down. My anger evaporated as quickly as it had appeared, and I looked away from Edward and down at the man at my feet. He was groaning and whimpering, holding his arm to his chest. His arm was all… wrong. It was bent at an entirely wrong angle, and I could see the point of bone pressing against his skin threatening to rip through. I had done that. Disgust and horror consumed me and I was momentarily stunned.

 

“Bella! Get in the car! Now!” Edward ordered. His commanding voice was enough to get me moving and I quickly threw myself into his car, slamming the door just as he sped off.

 

I couldn’t focus on anything as the reality of what just happened sunk in, and it felt as if my heart had plummeted into my stomach. I could feel my hands start to shake, and my breaths started to come in desperate gasps. I could feel the burn of bile at the back of my throat, and yet I felt strangely disconnected from all this. It was like I was watching a movie through my own eyes, that everything I had done was done by someone else. It hadn’t though, I did those things. And I had wanted to do so much worse.

 

“Pull over.” I gasped out,

 

“What?” Edward asked, but I couldn’t see him. My vision was becoming dark and blurry on the edges.

 

“Stop the car.” I managed to say a bit louder this time.

 

“Bella, we are in the middle of no where.” Edward protested.

 

“Edward Cullen, stop the damn car!” I yelled loudly, my voice breaking as tears started to well in my eyes and threaten to fall. Edward must have seen my obvious distress and quickly pulled over to the shoulder of the road. I pushed the door open and stumbled out of the car. We had sped out of the city so fast that we were now surrounded by thick woodlands.

 

I stumbled a few more steps and I vaguely registered the sounds of Edward coming after me. I stepped into the trees and braced a hand against the solid wood. I couldn’t seem to get any air into my lungs and it felt like I was drowning on dry land.

 

“Bella,” I heard Edward’s soft voice next to me, “It’s alright.” I felt his cool hand take my own. “Take one deep breath for me. Just focus on your breathing.” He murmured gently as he traced circles on the back of my hand. I focused on my breathing and the feeling of his hand in mine and slowly I came back to myself. My vision cleared and my breathing was more even. “It’s okay, Bella. You’re safe now.” Cooed Edward.

 

That caught my attention and I snapped my head up to look at Edward in confusion. “Safe? What are you talking about?” I muttered.

 

“Those men can’t hurt you now.” He reached up with his other hand and brushed my hair out of my face.

 

“That’s-” I looked at him incredulously, “That’s not what I am freaking out about, Edward. Didn’t you see what happened?” I pulled my hand out of his and took a step away from him. “I broke that man’s arm, I snapped in clean in half!” and you enjoyed it a small voice inside of me whispered.

 

“He deserved everything that was coming to him.” Edward bit out, his amber eyes growing dark.

 

“You’re joking right? He didn’t even do anything!” I snapped, throwing my hands up.

 

“Yet.” Edward snapped in the same tone.

 

“What?” I shook my head, my anger and frustration growing. I knew I was angry and disgusted at myself and I was taking it out on an innocent bystander. It was just bad luck that Edward was here, to take the brunt of my self hatred.

 

“He hadn’t done anything, yet.” Edward stressed, “Bella, you have no idea the foul things those men were thinking.” He growled.

 

“Oh, and you do!?” I yelled, taking an angry step towards him. “I seriously injured that man, Edward! I was going to do worse! I WANTED to do worse!” I was screaming at him now, standing almost toe-to-toe glaring up at him with bitter rage.

 

“Yes Bella!” He yelled back, his usually soft voice thundered. “I do know what they were thinking! And I am glad you hurt that man, I would have done a lot worse if I had the chance!”

 

I didn’t have the head space to properly register that Edward just admitted to being able to read minds. I would have to file that away to deal with later. Instead an overwhelming wave of pain and grief hit me, and I wasn’t sure exactly why. I think it was an instinctual reaction to Edward yelling at me like that, and before I could stop myself tears burned in my eyes and started streaming down my face. A desperate sob wracked my body and I couldn’t stop myself from closing the small distance between us and throwing my arms around him.

 

I buried my face in his chest and after a second I felt Edward’s stone cold arms circle around me. “Shhh, Bella.” Edward cooed, a hand gently ran through my hair, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry for yelling at you.” He whispered against my hair.

 

The sobs and tears quickly stopped, but I didn’t pull away. I took deep comforting breaths, allowing myself to be enveloped in Edward’s scent. “How can you stand it?” I whispered

 

“Stand what?” Edward whispered back.

 

“Being close to me?” I sniffled, “I’m a monster, Edward. Can’t you see that?” My voice broke and I took a moment to continue, “If you hadn’t turned up when you did, I honestly don’t know what would have happened.” It felt as if every worry that I had ever had, every secret fear about being more animal than human, had been confirmed in a single evening.

 

To my surprise Edward laughed, a gentle chuckle that rumbled against my ear. I pulled away to look at his face quizzically. Edward gazed down at me, a sad smile on his lips. “Bella, I’m pretty sure monsters don’t have existential crisis's in the middle of the woods.”

 

His words comforted me, and I managed a small chuckle at his words. It was then I realised just how late in the night it had become. “Oh shit!” I gasped, “Jess and Angela are probably so pissed right now. I’m so late for dinner.” I regretfully pulled out of Edward’s arms and looked around for my satchel,

 

“You left your bag in the car,” Edward said, he always seemed to know what I was after.

 

“I need to call Jess.” I stated, I still felt dazed and confused after the emotion turmoil I had just experienced.

 

“Wait here,” Edward shot me a quick smile and walked back to his car. I watched as he walked towards the road, his body casting strange shadows in the orange blinking lights of his hazards. He ducked into the car and returned with my cellphone in hand. Edward didn’t even make a move towards me as he quickly found Jess’s number and called. I walked over to him, my brow furrowed and my hand out in a silent demand for my phone.

 

There was a single ring before I heard Jess’s shrill shrieking. “Bella! Where are you!?” I couldn’t help but smile. I thought she would be mad at me, but instead she sounded beside herself with worry.

 

“Actually, it’s Edward. Edward Cullen.” Edward’s tone was even, but he too was smiling at Jessica’s tone.

 

“Oh. Uh where is Bella?” Jessica stammered, and I could barely make out the sounds of Angela through the line. No doubt she was demanding answers.

 

“I’m so sorry, Bella and I ran into each other and got to talking. I didn’t mean to make her so late for dinner.” Edward lied smoothly, he made it look so easy.

 

“O-okay. Well we kinda already ate and-” Jessica started to say but Edward cut her off.

 

“That’s alright. Bella really should have some dinner, and I am more than capable of taking her home.” Edward was laying it on thick, oozing every ounce of charisma he could into his voice.

 

“Could you put Bella on the phone please?” Jess squeaked out.

 

I put my hand back out in front of me, a smug look on my face as Edward relinquished the phone. “Hey Jess.” I greeted.

 

“You’re good right? Edward hasn’t, like, kidnapped you or anything?”

 

I laughed, “I’m fine, Jess. Sorry for missing dinner.”

 

“Okay, well you can make it up to me by giving me all the deets on Monday.” Jessica teased.

 

“Goodbye, Jess.” I droned playfully, before quickly hanging up the phone.

 

I stuffed my cell in my jeans pocket and looked at Edward. “Thank you.”

 

He looked at me in confusion, “Thank you for what?”

 

“For stopping me.” I said plainly, when he went to speak I put up my hand to stop him. “It doesn’t matter what you say, Edward. If you didn’t stop me, I probably would have killed that man. So thank you.” I was feeling more like myself now, calmer and stronger.

 

Edward quickly closed the short distance between us, and his cool hand cupped my cheek. I sighed and leaned into his touch. “You amaze me,” He murmured.

 

“What? Why?” I frowned up at him.

 

“You’re so concerned about the well-being of a man who wanted to do terrible things to you.” He chuckled sadly as he shook his head. He took his hand off my cheek and I felt the loss of this touch. “Come on, we better get you some dinner.” He smiled at me as he started towards the car.

 

“Actually, I’m not really that hungry.” I said as I followed him and got into the passenger seat.

 

“Bella, you should eat something.” Edward chastised as he started the engine and pulled back onto the road.

 

“Really, I’m fine. If you could just take me home, that would be great.” I mumbled,

 

“Whatever you want.” Edward replied.

 

We sat in silence for the ride back to Forks, soft piano music drifted from the cars speakers and the music helped me to continue to calm myself. It was an easy and comfortable silence, and I was grateful for it. I didn’t want to talk anymore, I didn’t want to answer questions or think about anything.

 

Before long Edward smoothly pulled into the driveway of my house. I shouldered my satchel and smiled over at him, “Thanks, Edward. For everything.”

 

“Of course, Bella.” He smiled back, and much to my surprise he reached over the centre console and took my hand in his. “I was wondering, if it would be okay to call on you tomorrow?”

 

“Call on me?” I snickered at his antiquated term,

 

“Just to make sure you’re alright.” He said, his golden eyes staring intently into mine.

 

For the second time tonight I lost control of myself. I leaned over the centre console and with my free hand cupped Edward’s face. I planted my lips on his. Edward stiffened under my touch at first but after a second he relaxed and kissed me back, his hand fluttering to rest on the nape of my neck. After a moment I pulled away, flushed and breathless. I leaned my forehead against his, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” I whispered. Before Edward could do or say anything else I hurled myself out of the car and hurried up the driveway. I wondered if that was the first time a werewolf had ever kissed a vampire. Who knew? I could be making supernatural history.

Chapter Text

 

 

I was trying my very best to ignore Charlie’s presence as he readied himself for work on Sunday morning. Last night I had hurried up to my room and avoided his questioning look for the rest of the evening. Now though, there was no hiding. I didn’t know what time Edward was planning on showing up, but I didn’t want Charlie to be the one answering the door. So there I sat at the dining table in the middle of the small kitchen, unable to hide from my father’s questions.

 

“Bella,” Charlie greeted as he entered the kitchen. He was already dressed in his uniform, his long hair groomed back and his beard trimmed neatly.

 

“I thought you were gonna shave that thing off?” I grumbled into my cup of coffee.

 

“What? This?” Charlie ran an appreciating hand over his facial hair, “I like it, I think I look distinguished.” He jested as he poured himself a cup of coffee from the pot.

 

“It ages you,” I muttered, hoping to stay on this line of discussion until he left for the day.

 

“Exactly,” Charlie gave me a secretive wink as he sipped at his coffee. “So, I couldn’t help but notice that Edward Cullen dropped you home last night?” He raised an eyebrow at me.

 

“Hmm” I responded as I stared intently at the black coffee in my cup. I wanted to be able to be swallowed whole by the blackness, anything to be away and out of this conversation.

 

“I also couldn’t help but notice that you came home with a very interesting mix of emotions.” Charlie pressed.

 

Dad!” I whined, I didn’t want to think about his listening into my conversation with Edward or prying into my emotional state.

 

C harlie smirked and put his free hand up in surrender before taking another drink of his coffee. “Look, I don’t want to pry. But you were very upset, I just want to know what happened.” A dark look crossed Charlie’s face and his voice grew heavy. “Did he hurt you?”

 

No!” I snapped as I shot out of my chair. “No, Dad. Edward saved me.” I said quieter than before.

 

Saved you?” Charlie’s brow furrowed with clear confusion. I understood his uncertainty, there wasn’t much that could seriously hurt a werewolf. So what exactly had Edward saved me from?

 

I hastily told him the story. How I had gotten lost and had been accosted by strangers, how I had completely lost myself to the monster inside. How I was going to murder three men before Edward arrived, pulling me out from under the weight of my rage and fury. I hadn’t realised that I had sunken back into my chair during my story, or that hot tears were streaming down my face. I admitted to him the excitement I had felt. The burning anticipation that consumed my body like a wild fire.

 

Oh, Bella.” Charlie sighed and I saw him cross the small space between us and fall to his knees in front of me. He pulled me to him and I let myself be embraced in his warm arms. “Bella, I am so sorry.” He murmured against my hair. I surrendered myself to him, and buried my face in his chest.

 

This was so familiar, and the memory quickly surfaced. The morning after my first full moon, when I had undergone the painful transition for the very first time. When I had lost myself to the wolf, and couldn’t remember what I had done during my rampage. This was worse though, I could remember. I knew what I did, what I am capable of. I had clear and unyielding proof of my monstrous nature. And what was worse, was that Edward had been witness to it as well.

 

I liked it, Dad. I really did.” I murmured softly against his chest. I had stopped crying but I hadn’t pulled out of my father’s hold, and he didn’t dare let me go.

 

I know sweetie,” He murmured softly back. He spoke in a near whisper, as if anything louder would shatter us both. “I know exactly how you feel, and its okay. You’re okay.” His large warm hand, calloused from centuries of hard work caressed my hair softly.

 

Am I?” I spoke a little louder now, not quiet a murmur but not at full volume. “I almost killed a human.” I had to swallow the lump in my throat at the thought. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I had taken their lives, no matter what they had intended to do.

 

C harlie was silent for a while, and I listened to his strong heart beat against my ear. Finally he spoke, “I have killed humans before.” He said calmly.

 

I pulled away from him, but he kept his hands on my shoulders in a comforting gesture. “You’ve fought in wars, Dad.” I gave him an exasperated look, “That doesn’t count.”

 

H is mouth turned up in a sad smile that didn’t reach his eyes, “No, Bella. I’ve killed humans outside of war.”

 

I studied him for a moment. My father who was always so careful, so guarded with me was admitting that he was a murderer. The image I held of my father didn’t mesh with this new information. Charlie was strong, and gentle. He was a protector, he was my protector. I had guessed from the way that he kept things from me, that he had done things he was not proud of. But not once in a million years would I have thought that he was capable of murder.

 

No,” I shook my head childishly, “You’re a good person.” I declared,

 

Charlie chuckled, a sad and hollow sound. “Yes, I am. And so are you.” His rough fingers swept a stray lock of hair behind my ear. “I was a little older than you are now, almost nineteen.” Charlie paused for a moment and I didn’t dare say anything. I was going to relish this small piece of himself that Charlie was willing to share with me. “It was the summer a few years before the Great Massacre.” He continued as his eyes continually scanned my face for reactions and I kept my expression blank. “I was walking home through town, I was running late so I took a short cut through a part of town I would usually avoid. I heard a woman calling for help, screaming.” Charlie shook his head as if to dislodge the memory, “I ran to help and found a man towering over this woman. It was clear that she wasn’t exactly a lady, but my mother always told me that you should always show a woman respect regardless of her class. Her bodice was torn and I could smell the blood before I saw it. It was like a red haze descended and I jumped on the man. I beat him, I killed a man with my bare hands and when I was finished you couldn’t even tell he had once been human. He was just a mess of blood and bones.” Charlies voice grew softer as he told his story, he finished it in barely a whisper. He looked at me again, and I was struggling to keep my shock from showing.

 

I don’t understand why you are telling me this.” I whispered back in a broken voice. My voice cracked and gave away the torrent of emotions that were roiling inside of me. Not that it mattered, I was sure he could feel every one as they fell off me in crashing waves. Shock. Horror. Disgust. Relief. Understanding. All these conflicting emotions raged inside me fighting for control.

 

I’m telling you this so you know you’re not alone. I had a lot more control then, more than you do now.” He smiled at me, “I’m so proud of you.”

 

Proud?” I scoffed,

 

Yes, Bella. Proud. You stopped, you didn’t kill those men. And most of all, you feel badly about it.” He cupped my face with his large hand, “When I killed that man, I didn’t feel bad. I didn’t feel bad for a very long time. I felt justified in my actions. You, my sweet Isabella, are so kind and loving and good.” He leaned forward and gave me a rough kiss on my forehead. “I don’t want you thinking for one moment that you are anything but good.” He slowly rose to his feet.

 

I cleared my throat, “Thanks, Dad.” He turned and poured out the rest of his coffee down the sink, “Does it get easier?” I asked,

 

H e turned and gave me a smile, a real one that reached his eyes making them crease around the edges. “Yes, Bella. It does.” He gave me a quick one armed hug and a knowing smile, “I better get going to work now. Say hi to Edward for me.” His eyes twinkled and I blushed, of course he would have heard Edward’s offer to come see me today.

 

Yeah, okay.” I mumbled after him as he walked out the kitchen. I continued to stare into my coffee as I mulled over Charlies words. I was still lost in my thoughts when I heard the gentle purr of Edward’s car pull up in the driveway.

 

I listened closely as he exited his car and walked up towards the door. I waited for him to knock, and he seemed like he was standing on the front steps. I tried desperately to tune into whatever emotions he was feeling, but all that came from his location was the subtle shifting of feet and nothing else. I had always needed to see someone to sense their emotions, and now I was realising I relied way to o heavily on a persons heartbeat. With no bodily sounds to give anything away, Edward was a complete mystery to me.

 

A fter a moment there was a soft knock on the door. I smiled to myself, “It’s open!” I called out louder than necessary. I stayed seated as I heard the door open and Edward slowly enter my home. “ Kitchen!” I called out again and then rolled my eyes at myself. Of course he would know where I was, he would be able to sense everything with much more accuracy than me.

 

E dward appeared in the arch that led to the short hallway, an uncertain smile on his face. “Good morning, Bella.” He greeted.

 

I stood up and quickly downed the rest of my coffee and put the empty cup in the sink. I leaned my back against the bench and looked over at Edward. He hadn’t moved from his spot under the archway. “Hello,” I smiled back.

 

E dward took a deep breath as if to steady himself. I watched him closely, studying every move he made as he walked further into the small kitchen. He stopped near the table, only a few feet away from me. “So… ” Edward’s eyes looked me over it seemed he was studying me as much as I was him. “We kissed last night.” He eventually said.

 

I couldn’t stop the amused smirk that took over my face, “Yes, yes we did.” I nodded.

 

Edward cleared his throat, “And where does that leave us?” He asked.

 

I’m not sure I get what you mean.” I pursed my lips in confusion.

 

I mean, are we now courting?” Edward took a small step closer to me.

 

I brought my hand to my mouth to stifle the barking laugh that threatened to come out, “ Courting? ” I giggled behind my hand, “Seriously? Okay what I think you just asked was: am I now your girlfriend?” I pushed off the counter and in two steps closed the small distance between us. I placed my small hand on his chest, feeling the chill of his skin under his t-shirt. “ I would like that very much,” I murmured softly and then looked up at him from under my eyelashes.

 

H e was staring down at me just as intently, and ever so slow he bent down and kissed me. It was soft and sweet and a lot quicker than the kissed we had shared last night but it still left me breathless. “ That makes me very happy,” He said as he pulled away.

 

I swallowed thickly and took a half step back, not trusting myself so close to him for too long. “I gotta warn you though. I’ve never been someones girlfriend before,” I looked at him playfully.

 

He smiled back at me and shrugged, “Well it’s new territory for me too. I guess we can explore it together.”

 

Uh, so got any plans today?” I asked, sticking my hands in my pockets nervously.

 

E dward chuckled, “I was just about to ask you that.”

 

Probably go for a walk in the woods,” I shrugged

 

E dward stiffened at my suggestion and he eyed me warily, “Bella, I would really prefer it if you didn’t go wandering through the forest by yourself. It’s not safe.”

 

I couldn’t help but smile quizzically at him. What could possibly be in the woods that could harm me? I decided to humour him, “I won’t be by myself though, will I? Because you’re coming with me.”

 

Edward thought this over for a moment before he nodded, “ Okay, just promise you wont go by yourself.” He looked at me seriously.

 

I fought the urge to roll my eyes and nodded, “Sure thing. Promise.” I then reached up on my tippy-toes and kissed his cheek quickly, “I’m gonna go get my shoes on, wait here.” I then rushed from the kitchen and up the stairs. I knew that I was probably pushing it, I had no idea how Edward was reacting to me. His body language was so brief and shifted so impossibly quick that it was hard to gauge his reaction to anything. What it came down to though, was that he was a vampire. And I had a lot of blood pumping through my veins. I knew that werewolves didn’t smell particularly appetising to vampires, at least compared to humans anyway. The way Charlie had explained it was like the difference between a freshly cooked meal, and those gross dehydrated ration packs we ate on our long treks through the Phoenix mountain ranges. Not entirely appetising, but tempting nonetheless if you were hungry enough. I didn’t want to find out just how hungry Edward was.

 

I quickly pulled on my pair of sturdy hiking boots. No need to ruin my sneakers again after Edward had gone to so much trouble to clean them. I clomped down the stairs and Edward was waiting for me at the bottom. I smiled at him, “Ready?” I chirped.

 

H e smiled back at me, “Sure,”

 

I led the way out the back door and into the now familiar forest. We walked in silence for a while, Edward keeping pace a step behind me. “ So, other than walking aimlessly through the woods, what do you do for fun?” Edward spoke up in a teasing tone.

 

Uhm,” I hummed for a moment and thought about it, “I like to read. I like learning new things.” I said,

 

“Like what?” Edward asked. We had slowed our pace now, we were simply ambling through the brush together.

 

I shrugged, “Anything really.”

 

What else?” Edward asked and I turned to look at him, he was staring at me intently as we walked.

 

I used to really love chess.” I mused as I stepped over a fallen tree.

 

Used to?” Edward echoed as he followed me.

 

I shrugged, “Yeah, it’s hard to love something when no one wants to play with you.” dear god I sounded so pathetic. I hadn’t meant for it to come out like that, so pitiful. I hurried to fix my mistake, “I mean, Renee- uh my mom- she got sick of it pretty quick. She’s a sore loser.” I shrugged

 

I enjoy chess also, perhaps we could have a game some time?” Edward responded, that gave me pause and I stopped walking to stare at him. I looked him over trying to figure him out.

 

“That wouldn’t exactly be a fair match,” I mused.

 

“And why is that?” Edward crossed his arms and leaned against a nearby tree.

 

Because how can I expect to beat an opponent who can read my mind?” I scoffed,

 

E dward’s eyes widened at my accusation, “Who said I could read your mind?”

 

“You did,” I pointed an accusing finger at him,

 

“I did no such thing,” He argued.

 

I rolled my eyes, “Okay, not in so many words. Fine. But you did admit to being able to read minds.” I put my hands on my hips and stared him down defiantly.

 

E dward’s eyes narrowed slightly as he silently thought on how to deal with my statement. “Yes. I did admit to being able to read minds.” He eventually admitted, “ However, I can not read your mind.”

 

Really?” I asked, looking at him seriously.

 

Really. Its the most frustrating thing in the world.” He huffed out.

 

So that’s… strange?” I relaxed my body, relieved that my thoughts were my own. “Has this ever happened before?”

 

No. Not until I met you. Although, I can not hear your fathers thoughts, either.” He pulled a frustrated hand through his hair.

 

Yeah, that makes sense.” I shrugged. I wanted to hit myself for the thoughtless comment. I squeezed my eyes shut and turned from Edward and continued my walk. It made sense to me, of course. It must be some sort of werewolf defence mechanism.

 

Hey! Wait up!” Edward called out and he quickly caught up to me, “What did you mean? That it makes sense?”

 

I bit my lip anxiously, “Well, my dad and me. We’re the same.” I eventually settled on. It was the truth after all.

 

That’s certainly interesting,” Edward murmured.

 

Glad you think so,” I muttered under my breath. I didn’t mean to sound rude, and I was relieved when I heard Edward chuckle softly. We walked together in silence for a moment, and I could tell that Edward was thinking over the new piece of information he had gained. We came across the familiar stream and I happily turned to follow along the embankment, heading downstream.

 

E dward was walking beside me and I glanced at him from the corner of my eye. He was barely looking were he was going, instead looking at me with an intensity that I wasn’t accustomed to. I bit my lip and reached over to him, taking his hand in mine. Edward’s icy fingers twitched and then stilled, before finally folding around my own warm ones. I released a relieved sigh and happily grasped his hand as we walked along the bank of the creek.

 

So, what about you?” I eventually said as I swung out hands between us childishly.

 

What about me?” Edward asked,

 

I mean, what do you do for fun?” I gave his hand a gentle squeeze.

 

I also enjoy reading. I spend a lot of time listening to music.”

 

What kind of music?” I asked as I remembered the classical music from the car ride the night before.

 

Classical, but I also like rock. Come to think of it I like pretty much anything other than country.” I turned just in time to see his nose crinkle in distaste.

 

And what’s wrong with country music?” I asked, raising a playful eyebrow at him.

 

Everything.” He replied deadpanned.

 

Well I have to disagree with you.” I stopped walking and turned on him with a defiant smirk, “Dolly Parton is a national treasure. And Johnny Cash?” I raised an eyebrow, “Lyrical genius.”

 

Dolly Parton? Are you serious?” Edward was looking at me like a just grew a second head.

 

Are you? Her songs are fantastic!” I put my hands on my hips and levelled him in my challenging stare, “Jolene is amazing, and don’t even get me started on Nine To Five.”

 

I can’t tell if you’re being serious, or if you’re just teasing me.” Edward smiled at me crookedly.

 

Oh, I am deadly serious.” I nodded seriously at him, “Next you’ll be telling me you don’t like John Denver.” I didn’t wait for his response as I turned and walked away from him.

 

I don’t like John Denver!” He protested behind me and I laughed loudly.

 

Well then you’re wrong!” I called back playfully as I heard Edward rush to catch up. When he was next to me again, he quickly reached out and took my hand in his again. That simple gesture filled me with a warm happiness. As I slowly lead us away from the creek, circling back towards the house I couldn’t help but smile. This felt so right, so natural. There was nothing more perfect in this world than my hand in his, walking together through the woods.

 

I looked up at him and smiled and I saw he was looking at me as well. Edward smiled back, his eyes shinning with happiness. I turned so I could watch where I was going as we walked an impish smirk crossed my face as I started to hum the tune to John Denver’s Country Road . I didn’t miss the quiet groan that Edward let out when he recognised the tune. That didn’t stop me, if anything it spurred me on and I hummed even louder as we walked back home.

Chapter Text

 

 

All the times I had considered my future, I never once thought it would include being romantically involved with a vampire. Growing up I would often become consumed with thoughts of my near never ending future, a wide expanse of road twisting and turning but never coming to an end. I always figured that at the very least I had Charlie. Long after Rene grew old and died he would remain. We could travel together, moulding ourselves to the times and the ever changing passage of human society. I would slowly become a carbon copy of my father, old and weathered against the storms of time, but not showing a day of it.

 

I would love fiercely and protect my human friends with all the strength I could gather, and then mend the cracks in my heart as I had to leave them once again. Perhaps I would visit with their grandchildren, become a mysterious benefactor to generations of naive humans. I would find love among the arms of many men, much like my father before me. I would take lovers, husbands and wives and would protect them with my entire being. I would allow them into my world for the short amount of time they had on this earth. I would let them go, unwilling to curse them with a monstrous existence. An existence of pain and loss, of being hunted and unwanted.

 

All these painful roads I could have taken seemed to disappear the moment I met Edward Cullen. Before, where the were twisting forks now there was just a single route. Edward was as unchanging as I was. A life with him was one free from heart ache and pain, one filled with love and acceptance.

 

The only worry I still had was what would happen when he discovered the truth.

 

Edward and I had spent the rest of the lazy Sunday walking through the woods and talking. We held hands and stole chaste kisses. We read books together in the warmth of the small living room and we just sat together, happy to be within each others orbit. I knew that I would eventually have to come clean with him, and I hoped that he would still accept me.

 

I woke up on Monday morning planning on telling Edward the truth. I barely said a word to Charlie as he rushed out the door. I stared at my coffee as I mulled over the words in my head. How would I tell him? Would I just blurt it out? How do you even begin to start that conversation? I was still staring into my now cold cup of coffee when a soft knock echoed through the house.

 

Startled, I jumped up and went to see who was knocking on my door. I opened it to see Edward standing there, dressed very nicely in a button up and black jeans and a long grey pea-coat. He smiled at me, “Good morning, Bella. I thought I could give you a ride to school,” He glanced back at his car that was parked behind my rusted out truck.

 

I felt my heart drop into my stomach like a lead balloon and the sensation made me feel queasy. “Uhm, s-sure.” I managed to say, and I felt my face grow hot with embarrassment and anger. “I’m just gonna go grab my bag.” I said quickly and turned and shot up the stairs two at a time.

 

Whatever courage I had woken up with was nowhere to be found. All morning I had been talking myself up, slowly gathering the motivation to spill my guts to Edward. But now it felt as if all the wind had been taken out of my sails, and I couldn’t be bothered to pick up the ores. Seeing him on my door step with his perfect smile and golden eyes, all I could think was how to keep him close to me. The risk was too great, I couldn’t bare the thought of him finding out the truth of my existence.

 

I grabbed my book bag and rushed back downstairs, a small part of me terrified that by the time I returned he would have left. That worry was obviously unfounded, because when I came back downstairs he was in the exact same place I had left him.

 

“Ready to go?” Edward asked me with a smile.

 

I nodded hastily, “Sure am!” I smiled back but I could tell it looked forced, because it was forced.

 

Edward opened the passenger side door for me and then slipped into the drivers seat, he gave me a confusing expression that I couldn’t distinguish. His eyebrows were furrowed and his lips were in a tight line. As he started the car he said, “Bella, are you alright?”

 

“Yeah?” I squeaked out and then cleared my throat, “Why?” I said with a much more even tone of voice.

 

“You just seem… distracted.” He mused as we approached the high school.

 

“Yeah,” I shrugged and pulled my hand through my hair. “I told Charlie about what happened in Port Angeles. I guess I am still processing the conversation.” I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. Another lie, or rather another half truth. I was still processing the things Charlie had shared with me. Edward eased the car into a parking space and turned off the engine.

 

Edward reached across the centre console and gently squeezed my hand, I looked over at him and he was giving me a comforting smile. “Are you okay?” He murmured intensely.

 

 

“Yeah, of course.” I shook my head dismissively, “It’s just he shared some stuff and it was pretty heavy ya know?” I cocked my head to the side inquisitively, I wasn’t sure if he did know. “My dad isn’t usually the one to share personal experiences, he’s pretty closed off. Do you know what it’s like to feel like the one person you are closest to in the world is also a total stranger?” I waited for a moment for Edward to respond, but he just looked at me with deepening concern. I reached across with my free hand and cupped his face as I ran my thumb over his furrowed brow. “You shouldn’t frown so much, you’ll get wrinkles.”

 

Edward’s expression loosened and he let out a soft chuckle, “I don’t think you have to worry about that.” Before I could respond, Edward grabbed my book bag and opened his door. In a flash he was opening my door and offering me his hand. I took it and happily let him pull me up out of the car, my smile widened as he snaked his arm around my waist. “Did you want to talk about it?” He murmured in my ear.

 

I shook my head, “Maybe later?” I then looked around us and noticed that all eyes were on us. Edward started to walk us towards my English class and I couldn’t help but blush at all the stares. “Everyone is staring at us.” I muttered,

 

Edward laughed and pulled me closer to his side, “Not everyone.” I was sure he was trying to sound reassuring but I didn’t exactly feel reassured.

 

We arrived at my English classroom and Edward bent down and kissed my forehead, “See you at lunch?” I asked hopefully,

 

“I wouldn’t miss it.” He promised.

 

XxXx

 

I was happily heading towards the lunch room when I felt a manicured hand clamp around my arm in a death grip. “What the hell?” I grumbled as I was pulled into the girls bathroom. I stumbled slightly at the intensity of the grasp and pulled my arm free. I looked around to see Jessica and Angela standing in the bathroom, Jessica was staring intensely and Angela was smiling apologetically. “What can I do for you two ladies?” I asked with a smile.

 

Jessica opened her mouth to answer when the door behind me opened, I turned to see a freshmen girl come in. “Get out!” Snapped Jess while pointing at the door. The girl paled as her eyes went wide and she scurried away. “And you!” She said whirling on me with an accusing finger, “Have a lot to answer for!”

 

“I’m innocent officer! I swear!” I put my hands up in mock surrender. Angela giggled and I gave her a cheeky grin.

 

Jess huffed in frustration and put her hands on her hips, “You abandon us in Port Angeles and then turn up today with Edward Cullen. I thought you said you guys weren’t dating?”

 

When you asked me, we weren’t. And now we are.” I shrugged,

 

J essica strode forward, quickly closing the small distance between us and put her hands on either of my shoulders. She levelled me with a serious stare and said, “Details, right now.

 

I shrugged my way out of her grasp and shrugged, “There’s not much to say, Jess. I ran into him on Saturday and got distracted talking. And then he came over to my place on Sunday and just hung out together.”

 

Did you guys kiss?” I was surprised that it was Angela asking, she had come closer now and seemed almost as interested as Jessica.

 

Uh, yeah a couple of times.” I looked at my two friends, “Can we please go to the cafeteria now? I’m hungry.” I complained.

 

J ess rolled her eyes but nodded, she linked her arm with mine and pulled me back into the hall. I had never met a more pushy human in all my life. “ So, what did you guys talk about?” Jess asked.

 

Oh nothing really, just the existential dread of my monstrous existence and what it means for my humanity. “Uh, music mainly. And chess.” I managed to say.

 

Jess crinkled her nose in obvious distaste and Angela laughed at her expression, “Chess? Are you serious right now?”

 

Before I could answer Angela asked, “What kind of music does he like?”

 

Apparently anything but country music.” I rolled my eyes, “I made sure to make him see the error of his ways.” I joked.

 

That was how the three of us entered the lunch room, Jessica in the middle of us with Angela and I on either side with our arms linked. We were laughing loudly at Edwards expense when I told them how I had annoyed him with my humming of Denver’s Country Road . I tried my best to ignore the curious looks of Mike and Eric as we approached the table. It seemed that Edward had arrived earlier and sat there waiting for me. Edward smiled warmly at my approached and I pulled my arm from Jessica’s as I sat down next to Edward. His eyes flickered between Jess and Angela and I couldn’t help but wonder what he was hearing in their thoughts.

 

Where were you guys?” Mike grumbled once we had all sat down,

 

We were in the bathroom,” I answered plainly and stifled a chuckle as Angela blushed slightly.

 

I’ll never understand why girls go to the bathroom in groups.” Eric muttered,

 

Where else are we supposed to perform our ritual sacrifices?” I jested as I pulled Edwards overfilled tray closer to me. I handed Jess the prepackaged salad and opened the sandwich for myself. I had no idea why Edward thought anyone could eat so much food in one sitting.

 

J ess gasped in mock shock as a scandalised look crossed her face, “Bella! That’s meant to be a secret.” She hissed across at me and I started laughing loudly again.

 

E ric and Mike shared a strange look of confusion, their eyebrows furrowing and lips in tight straight lines. “What the hell?” Mike muttered.

 

I don’t know man, girls are weird.” Eric shrugged.

 

Edward had just sat through this exchange with an amused smile on his face. It was clear Edward didn’t blend well with the human teenagers around him, he reminded me of myself back in Phoenix. I wondered if it was Edwards doing, or if the humans around us somehow subconsciously knew to steer clear of him. He seemed more than content to simply watch me interact with my human friends. I wondered what he thought of it all, my seemingly effortless friendships with this small motley band of humans. After all we were a strange bunch, not quite outcasts but not fitting in with any of the other cliques either. I imagined it probably had something to do with the others having grown up together, and as they grew they slowly came together like a puzzle. Each person filling out the spaces another left unoccupied. Even though I knew I couldn’t be friends with them forever, I was glad to have found a place with them. At least for now.

 

 

X xXxX

 

It felt almost routine now. Was it possible for something to become routine after just one day? When Edward appeared once again in my driveway on Tuesday morning is felt familiar. The short drive to school felt habitual and ordinary. I was surprised at just how quickly I felt myself falling into a strange feeling of safety.

 

I hadn’t brought up my talk with Charlie again, and I was relieved that Edward didn’t bring it back up either . I did want to talk about it, I needed to talk about it. I had always felt closest to my dad, even though we only saw each other for a few months out of the year. The similarities in our nature seemed to create a bond that was stronger than anything else. I knew that this bothered Rene, after all she was the one looking after me most of the year. The one searching the Arizona desert after I didn’t return home after a full moon. The one who constantly had to move towns and get new jobs when I did something that made people look twice. No matter how close we became, nothing could trump my bond with Charlie. That’s why when she said she wanted to keep my condition a secret from Phil I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t resent her for that.

 

 

It hurt though, somewhere deep in my gut, just how little I actually knew about my Dad. I had begun to think I was starting to know him more, understand him even. His confession to me about how he had taken the lives of humans just showed me how little I actually knew him. It was like I had been thrown into the deep end of a pool without the ability to swim. All the facts I had meticulously gathered over the years paled in comparison to one brand new fact that shone brightly in the forefront of my mind like a neon sign. My dad was a murderer, a killer. Another fact accompanied this one, taunting me from the recesses of my mind. You would be too if it weren’t for Edward Cullen.

 

I needed someone to talk this out with, and Edward was that someone. I just had no idea how I could begin to explain. Anything I said would raise more questions and before I knew it he would know everything about me and what I was. So for now, I just pushed it down. I buried it underneath my giddy happiness of being with Edward.

 

I was happy to keep going in this same fashion, willing myself into blissful ignorance. If I could just ignore every problem that was standing in my way I could allow myself to just be happy. There was no pressing urgency to have difficult conversations, no doomsday clock slowly ticking downwards towards the inevitability of Edward discovering what I was and leaving me. There was just me and Edward, my friends at school, and my loving father. Simple. Easy.

 

I f only.

 

I was forced back into reality when Edward drove me home on Wednesday. He pulled into my driveway and I saw that Charlie was already home. Usually, Charlie wouldn’t be home for a couple more hours. This subtle shift in my new routine momentarily threw me. “ Bella?” Edward asked and I looked over at him to see him staring at me worryingly.

 

I realised that I had been sitting there for a bit longer than usual, so I shot him a quick smile. “Thanks for the ride, I’ll see you tomorrow?” I chirped,

 

Of course.” He vowed, he leaned over and gently pressed his lips to mine. I quickly kissed him back before escaping out of the car and rushing towards the house.

 

Hey Bells!” I heard Charlie call out from the kitchen. I followed him voice to see him standing there still in uniform, he had a cup of coffee in his hands.

 

Hey, Dad. What are you doing home so early?” I asked as I dropped my book bag on one of the dining chairs.

 

I’m not staying. I have to go back out to work, there’s been more animal attacks in Mason County.” He said as he finished his coffee.

 

Animal attacks?” I asked as I sat down and started pulling out my homework.

 

Yeah, the cops in Mason County think it’s a bear.” He muttered in a frustrated tone.

 

And you think its… not a bear?” I looked at him quizzically.

 

C harlie chuckled at my expression, “No, I do not think it’s a bear. But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.” He sat across from me at the small table.

 

You wanted to talk to me?” I asked quietly while staring down at my Trig notes.

 

Are you dating Edward Cullen?” He asked with an even tone of voice. I peaked a look at him trying to gauge what he was feeling. It was useless, Charlie’s face was even without a single hint of emotion. His heart rate was steady and unwavering.

 

Yeah?” It came out as a question, “Is that alright?” I managed to say.

 

A soft smile fluttered across his lips, “Yeah, Bells.” He breathed the words out softly in an almost sigh.

 

Y-you’re okay with that?” I stuttered out. This was not how I imagined this conversation going.

 

Well I don’t think any father is happy when their daughter starts dating, but I don’t have any issues with it.” He smiled gently at me and slowly rose to his feet.

 

So you’re okay with the whole ‘my daughter is dating a vampire’ thing?” I blurted out and then grimaced to myself. Why the fuck did I say it like that? Seriously? Foot, meet mouth.

 

C harlie continued to surprise me as he laughed loudly at my question, “Oh, Isabella.” He chuckled, “As long as you are happy and safe,” he shrugged at me and stood in front of me, a large hand cupping my face as he stared down at me.

 

B-but vampires? Th-they. I mean.” I was falling over my words as I looked into Charlie’s eyes, brown like mine but showing his age in a way that seemed impossible. I shook my head and Charlie’s hand fell back to his side and I stood up and paced the tiny kitchen for a moment to clear my thoughts. “Edward’s a vampire.” I stated and looked at Charlie closely.

 

“Yes, I am aware.” He responded. I could see him fighting a smile.

 

Vampires killed your entire family. Have hunted you- hunted us- for centuries. How can you be okay with this?” I demanded, I was becoming more and more frustrated. I really didn’t understand my dad at all it seemed.

 

It wasn’t the Cullen’s who did those things.” Charlie responded, “And yes I admit that you being involved ,” Charlie said the word slowly as if seeing how to felt in his mouth, “- with a vampire comes with certain risks. But I trust your judgement.”

 

I haven’t told him anything.” The words shot out of my mouth before I could stop them.

 

C harlie laughed at me, “Well that’s going to be an interesting conversation. I better be getting back to work.” He said and gave me a quick hug before walking out of the kitchen.

 

That’s it!?” I yelled after him, “No parting words of wisdom!?” I demanded.

 

Goodbye, Bella!” He called back with a laugh as he closed the front door behind him.

 

X xXx

 

I woke up on Thursday morning more grumpy than usual. My awkward and completely unhelpful conversation with my Dad was still clear in my mind, and the looming full moon that was rising tonight was just the cherry on top of the shit cake that was my life. I woke up just as the sun was rising, and I quickly realised that Charlie was still asleep. He must have had a late night last night trying to find the Not-Bear.

 

I had a quick shower and got my stuff ready. It was still very early in the day and I could begin to hear the shift in Charlie’s breathing that let me know he was waking up. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to speak with him, or even see him. On one side I wanted to continue our conversation from last night. I wanted his advice on how I was supposed to come out of the werewolf closet to my vampire boyfriend. On the other side I wanted to cocoon myself against that very difficult conversation. I wanted to run and hide somewhere, somewhere I could pretend that everything was going to be okay.

 

T he approaching full moon was elevating my emotional state and causing my stomach to tie itself into knots. As I listened to Charlie groan and pull himself out of bed I decided to just leave. I grabbed my keys and my bag and sprinted to my truck. I t started with a deafening roar and I pulled out of the drive and started my way to school.

 

B y the time I got there I realised just how early it actually was. It was barely 6:30 and the school staff wouldn’t even be here for another half hour. With a sigh I grabbed my bag and walked towards the small building that was the school library. I slid my back down the wall and sat on the ground next to the door and waited. I was almost finished with my copy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein when I heard footsteps approaching. I looked up to see the portly woman with large frizzy hair who was the school’s librarian walking over.

 

I stood up to greet her, “Hello,” I smiled.

 

Well hello!” She smiled widely, “getting an early start are we?” she jested as she pulled off her lanyard to unlock the door.

 

Yeah,” I shrugged, “Hope you don’t mind.”

 

Never!” The keys jangled loudly as she returned her lanyard to it’s place around her neck.

 

I smiled gratefully at the older woman as I ducked into the still dark library. I quickly found a spot in the back of the small room and sat down on the floor with my back against the wall as the lights overhead started to flicker as they were turned on. I quickly finished Frankenstein and dug through my book bag for my second novel. It was a habit I had developed at a young age, whenever I was at least halfway through one book I made sure to always carry a second back-up book. Years of social isolation had conditioned me to never be left without something to occupy my time.

 

I fished out my copy of The Count of Monte Cristo and begun reading happily. I was completely absorbed in my own little world that I didn’t even notice how much time had passed, or that Edward Cullen had come into the library a nd sat by my side.

 

Enjoying your book?” He asked and I jumped slightly at the intrusion.

 

I closed my book and used it to whack him on the arm playfully, “You really need to stop sneaking up on me!” I whined.

 

Edward chuckled, “I’ve been sitting here for almost 10 minutes.”

 

Oh,” I mumbled as my eyebrows furrowed. How had I missed that?

 

I was starting to get worried, I thought maybe you were ignoring me.” Edward said,

 

I looked at him and cocked my head to the side, “Why would I be ignoring you?” I asked

 

He shrugged helplessly, “I don’t know, but I went to your house to pick you up and you weren’t there. And then I sit next to you and you don’t even acknowledge my existence.”

 

I frowned, “I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling great.”

 

Edward’s hand fluttered to my forehead as he felt my skin with the back of his hand, “hmm,” He hummed appreciatively, “You do seem to run hotter than most, but today you are especially warm.” He murmured softly as his expression grew more concerned.

 

I slapped his hand away and let out a huff of annoyance, “ I wasn’t aware you had a medical degree.” I snapped rudely and then immediately regretted it when I saw the hurt look flash across Edward’s face before he schooled it back into a mask of worry. “ Sorry,” I murmured. A slightly insane thought flashed across my mind and before I could decide if it was the right thing to say or not my mouth was already moving. “Mood swings. That time of the month, ya know?”

 

O nce what I had said fully registered with my unhinged brain I blushed fiercely. A wave of total embarrassment washed over me and I wished that a dark sink hole would appear so I could launch myself into it. Anything to escape this situation I had put myself in. Edward was looking at me with wide eyes and he opened his mouth as if to say something before he closed it again. Great. I had broken my vampire boyfriend.

 

I shoved my book back in my bag and quickly got to my feet, “I better get going to English, see ya.” I covered my face with my hand as I turned away from him. I rushed off to class wondering if there was anything else I could do to make my day any worse.

 

J essica found me as I was walking towards the lunch room. She quickly looped my arm through hers and the n gave me an appraising look. “Something’s wrong.” She declared simply.

 

And how can you possibly know that, Jess?” I rolled my eyes.

 

I’m just that good.” She said haughtily as she flipped her hair, “And you look like you want to crawl in a hole and die.” She shrugged.

 

Oh great, so it shows.” I replied sarcastically.

 

You wanna tell me what happened? Maybe I can help.” Jess offered kindly,

 

“Help with what?” Angela perked up as she appeared around the corner,

 

Bella has issues, we’re going to fix them.” Jess replied simply.

 

I don’t have issues .” I snapped and pulled my arm out of Jessica’s. I sighed and ran a hand through my hair, “Sorry, Jess.” I tried to smile, “This morning I lost it at Edward, and then I may have mentioned that I was having mood swings because it’s ‘that time of the month’.” I quietly relayed the morning’s events to my friends trying to keep my voice low so the other students walking by wouldn’t be able to hear.

 

A ngela’s face paled before blushing furiously and Jessica covered her mouth with her hand as she laughed quietly.

 

Jess patted my shoulder, “That ’s it, you have to fake your death and leave town. It’s the only option.” she tried to maintain a serious expression before bursting into laughter.

 

I took a deep calming breath, I didn’t want to snap at Jess again. I didn’t want to push the limits of our budding friendship. “ Not helpful.” I muttered. I then turned and started walking away from my friends.

 

“Bella! Wrong way, cafeteria is this way!” Jess called as she jogged to catch up.

 

I sighed, “I’m just going to go to the office and see if I can go home. I just can’t be around… people right now.” I bit my lower lip as I mentally chastised myself for almost saying ‘be around vampires’.

 

Alright, well you can’t just avoid him forever you know.” Jessica winked before grabbing a startled Angela by the arm and walking away.

 

I shook my head and walked quickly to the office. I quietly explained to Mrs. Cope that I wasn’t feeling well, sticking to the ‘time of the month’ story. It felt better than lying completely. She offered to let me just rest in the little nurses room for a bit but I quickly convinced her to let me go home. I had offered to call my Dad at work, but being the police chief he was usually pretty busy. And I wouldn’t want to worry him any more than he already is, what with all those animal attacks he’s working on. That was more than enough for her to agree and sign me out.

 

I parked my truck in my driveway and stalked up to my room. Jessica’s words were echoing in my head, she was right obviously. I couldn’t avoid Edward forever. I could, however, avoid him for the next 24 hours.

 

I curled up on my bed with my book and read for the rest of the afternoon. I was happily reading about revenge and poisonings when I noticed the rapidly setting sun. I heaved out a heavy sigh and shed my shirt and jeans not bothering to pick them up off the floor.

 

I stomped barefoot down the stairs, grumbling to myself as I went. I truly resented my monthly ritual, today more than most. My heightened senses and emotions had led me to lash out at the people closest to me. I was sure that they were probably considering getting me checked out by a mental health professional, and I wouldn’t blame them. Rene had always joked that it was PMS on steroids. I had never liked that jok e, and the irony that I had used it to get away with my bizarre behaviour wasn’t lost on me.

 

I continued my march out of the house, across the wet lawn and into the dense forest. I was just about to pull off my sports bra when a snapping of a branch caught my attention. My nostrils flared as I breathed in the familiar scent: Basil and wildflowers. Edward. I smiled softly at the thought, Edward was here.

 

Oh fuck! Edward was here.

 

The sun was just now beginning to kiss the horizon. Edward could not be here, not now. “ Edward!” I called into the seemingly empty forest. I shifted from one bare foot to the other, “I know you’re there Edward! Please just come out!” I continued to yell into the wind with a frustratingly whiny tone. I was being impatient, but I didn’t have time. The sun was slipping further and further below the horizon and I could feel the pull of the full moon twinge in my gut.

 

M y eyes snapped to the tall figure in the shade of the tree and my heightened eyesight instantly saw it was Edward. He approached me slowly as his eyes trailed over my half-naked body before snapping back to my face. If vampires could blush I was sure he would be. “ Bella, what-” He started to say but I cut him off.

 

I strode closer to him and put up my hand to silence him, “Edward, you have to leave. Now .” I pleaded with him.

 

Bella, I don’t understand what’s going on.” Edward bit out, more of his own frustrations showing.

 

You need to leave .” I placed a hand s on his chest and pushed him lightly as if to further my point, “What are you even doing here?” I demanded.

 

I wanted to check up on you, Bella-” He took a deep breath and pulled at his hair, “Why are you standing in the woods in your underwear?” He asked in a near whisper.

 

T he last hints of sunshine were casting their rays on the clouds overhead. I clenched my teeth together as I fought against my impending transformation. “ Please, Edward. You have to leave. It’s not safe.” I bit out between my clenched teeth, talking in short bursts as I fought against the slowly rising full moon.

 

Not safe?” Edward’s face grew more worried, his eyes more frenzied, “Bella I don’t understand. Please just talk to me. Let me help you.” He was begging me, his eyes were shinning with tears and he was looking at me with such heartache.

 

I couldn’t contain it anymore and I let out a pained gasp as I felt my ribs crack and break and my spine rearrange. Edward’s arms shot out and caught me as I fell forwards. “Bella!”

 

I stumbled and tried to keep myself upright, but it was a losing battle. More bones snapped and moved underneath my skin and I could feel my teeth loosening in my gums. Edward’s hands grasped me on either arm, trying to hold me up. It was no use, his cold hands slipped helplessly on my arms and he stared in unbridled horror at the sheets of pale bloody flesh he now held in his hands .

 

I fell to the forest floor and groaned as my body continued to contort grotesquely. More of my skin tore and fell away in bloody piles, I could feel my talons pushing out from my nail beds and my rapidly developing paws clawed into the muddy ground. Agonising screams fell from my mouth as I felt the last pieces of the transformation t ake place, the last bits of bone and cartilage snapping into p osition .

 

I shook out my bloody brown fur and hastily devoured my human remains. My wet nose twitched as I scented the air around me. Over the smell of my own drying blood I could taste another scent on the air . Another person. No not a person?

 

M y large yellow eyes blinked slowly as I looked up from the muddy ground. There was a man there, not much more than a boy. His skin was pale, too pale. And his eyes were unnaturally dark, black almost.

 

V ampire .

I growled furiously as the fur on my back rose sharply. My lips curled menacingly around my shining white teeth, the feral snarls continued as my tongue flicked out of my mouth and coated my fangs . I dug my claws into the dirt as I bent down threateningly, ready to leap at the threat in front of me.

 

T he vampire seemed to come to his senses and his face went through a variety of emotions. I could taste them on the back of my throat. Horror. Disgust. Fear. Confusion. Understanding. Love.

 

L ove? Another snarl echoed around me and rattled in my chest.

 

Bella.” The vampire breathed. My bright yellow eyes narrowed at him. “Bella, it’s me.” He put up both his hands in surrender. “Please tell me you understand me. Bella, it’s me. Edward.” His voice was growing more desperate as he spoke.

 

E dward. My snarling stopped and my wolf face relaxed as I took a deep breath, breathing in the scent of the vampire. Edward . Wildflowers and basil blooms. Pine needles and cedar wood. Edward. My Edward.

 

A pained whine echoed in my chest as I collapsed to the ground. I hid my snout under my paws and let loose another whine. I could hear his footsteps as he slowly approached me, “Bella?” He whispered.

 

I didn’t dare move and I whimpered softly, I kept my paws over my snout as my eyes looked up at him. He was crouching down next to my huddled form, anxiety and apprehension falling off him in waves. He slowly reached out a pale hand, and when I didn’t move he very gently place it on the fur on the back of my neck. He stroked my fur once, and seemed only mildly disturbed when his hand came away smeared with the gory remains of my bloody transformation. A pitiful whimper escaped me and Edward looked at me with soft eyes. “ Amazing” He breathed, he seemed to be talking more to himself then me.

 

P ure unadulterated self-loathing filled me to my core. Edward had seen me transform. I had lost all of my humanity and growled at him, I almost attacked him. I could have hurt him. I could have killed him. I would have awoken the next morning having been responsible for his death, and I would have never known. I couldn’t stay here, I needed to leave. I needed to make sure I couldn’t hurt him. My whimpering grew louder and stronger, before I rose to my feet and let loose a thundering howl. The haunting sound echoed out into the forest around us, a long morose howl filled with sadness and pain. I didn’t dare look at him before I bounded off into the woods, and I barely heard him as he called out my name.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

I woke up feeling strangely warm, my sight was red behind my closed eyelids and I could feel the course itchiness of the grass underneath my naked body. I was most definitely not in my bedroom. I was curled up into myself, pulling my legs against my body in the fetal position. As I slowly regained consciousness I realised I had been covered with something soft. I groaned as I slowly opened my eyes and eased my body upright, the soft fabric fell off my body and pooled in my lap. I blinked as the hash sunlight assaulted my eyes and I slowly took in my surroundings. “What the fuck?” I whispered to myself.

 

I had found myself in a small field, more a meadow then anything else. I would have called it beautiful on any other occasion, but right now I was annoyed and frustrated at my situation so all I could think of was the sheer audacity of the place for even existing . It was a near perfect circle, tall grass and wildflowers bent in the soft breeze. I could hear the bubbling of a nearby stream. I looked down at the soft fabric that had been draped over my naked body. It was a long grey pea-coat. It was Edward’s long grey pea-coat.

 

O h god. Oh fuck . Edward. I quickly put the coat on, pulling it tight around my body. I continued to blink at the hash sunlight, my eyes still adjusting. I shielded my eyes with my hand and scanned the tree line with narrowed eyes. I slowly stood up and carefully evaluated each part of my body. Unlike last month there were no mystery bruises, and no worrying blood staining my skin. My body ached slightly from the stress and exertion of my transformation, but I could also tell that I felt stronger. Whatever else had happened last night, I had hunted. T hat much was extremely clear .

 

I licked my dry lips and took a deep breath in, taking in every scent around me. My heightened senses were firing on all cylinders, it was like every nerve in my body was dancing on a knife’s edge. It felt as if every one of my neurons and synapses were sparking in my brain like a thousand lightening strikes. I could smell Edward everywhere. This place was filled with him. I could smell him on each blade of grass as they danced in the wind. His warm and welcoming scent of basil and wildflowers invaded my body and made my head swim and my thoughts felt fuzzy around the edges. My nose twitched and my nostrils flared as I took another deep breath. I could taste him on the back of my throat. I tried to distinguish new scents from old. I closed my eyes in an attempt to focus, there was just so much, there was almost too much. Blocking out one of my senses seemed to help as I once again tasted the air around me.

 

I could smell more than just the overwhelming sensation of Edward’s inviting scent. Now I could smell the rich soil and the moss, the damp rotting smell of fallen leaves and broken logs . I kept my eyes closed as I turned in a slow circle, my mouth parted slightly as I breathed through my nose scenting and tasting the air around me.

 

There .

 

It was Edward’s scent again, but it was fresh and clear like the waters in a mountain stream. I opened my eyes and cocked my head from one side to the other, trying to listen to any imperceptible change in the sounds around me. I knew he was there and I breathed in again, tasting this newer, fresher scent. As I swallowed I could taste his worry, the smell of his concern felt like it was stuck in my sinuses and I instinctively wiped at my nose to get rid of the unpleasant feeling. My eyes slowly narrowed in on a shadow, a mere outline of a man.

 

Edward was standing far back in the tree line, and his body was almost completely camouflaged by the shadows of the dense forest. I kept my eyes trained on the unmoving shape, “Edward?” I called softly as I took a tiny half step in the direction of his silhouette.

 

T he shadow shifted, moving slowly towards me. As he came closer I could better see his features, his beautiful face creased with anxiety. He was still wearing the same clothes he wore to s chool on Thursday, and his hair looked like a mess. Well more of a mess than usual, there were pieces of leaves and pine-needles stuck in his tousled hair.

 

E dward stopped just behind the treeline, and then he threw something at me. I watched in confusion as a backpack soared gracefully through the air before landing with a dull thud at my feet. I bent down and opened the backpack to see it was filled with clothes, I glanced up at Edward to see him slowly turn his back to me.

 

Edward’s silence was worrying me, actually it was fucking terrifying. I couldn’t remember much of what happened last night other than the fact he had seen my transformation. I took a calming breath to quell my rising anxieties and pulled out the clothes. I silently shucked Edward’s coat and pulled on a large t-shirt, followed by some large sweat pants with legs too long for my body. I pulled the draw string tight and tied it off before pulling up the legs so they were cuffed just above my knees. It was clear from the size of the clothes, and the scent that still clung to them, that they were Edward’s.

 

I stood there feeling like a toddler playing dress-up in their parents clothes as I looked up at Edward. He was still facing away from me so I cleared my throat, “Uhm, you can turn around now. I’m dressed.” I said softly. In an agonisingly slow motion Edward turned around and faced me again. His face was a blank mask but I could see the worry in his eyes, and I could still taste his anxiety lingering in my throat. “ Please say something,” I whispered in a broken voice as a lump formed in my throat.

 

E dward moved closer again but stopped himself just before he reached the edge of the woods. “ Bella,” He spoke a little louder than necessary to make sure his voice could carry over the meadow to where I was standing. I realised he didn’t fully understand what I was capable of. “ Are you alright?”

 

M y face scrunched up in confusion. Was I alright? What kind of ludicrous question was that? “ I-I’m fine.” I shook my head to clear my thoughts and a few leaves fell from my hair. “ Edward, I’m- I mean- shit,” my thoughts were running a mile a minute and my mouth couldn’t keep up. I didn’t know where to even begin. I took a deep breath and tried to let his scent calm me, it worked a little bit. “Edward,” I began, speaking slowly and not rushing my way through the words. “I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.” I looked at him, still and unmoving in the shadows of the forest. I needed him here, I needed him close to me. I didn’t want to move closer to him though. I couldn’t remember much from last night but the memory of his fear was still clinging to my tongue. I didn’t want him to become afraid of me. “Please,” I begged “I never meant for this to happen, just-” I fought against the tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat as I held out my hand towards him. “Please just come here.”

 

I watched him closely as he slowly took a step closer, and then another. He seemed to be gauging my reaction s to his movements. Was he worried that I would freak out if he moved too fast? He eyed the meadow around me and I realised exactly why he was behaving so strangely. For all my werewolf intellect sometimes I was just really slow. He wasn’t hesitant because of me, he was worried about stepping out into the sun. “ Edward, it’s okay. I know.” I said softly, still keeping my hand outstretched to him.

 

I t seemed to do the trick as Edward stepped into the direct sunlight. I couldn’t contain the gasp that escaped my lips. Charlie had explained to me what it was like to see a vampire in the sunlight, that their skin was harder than diamonds and reflected light just as much. Whatever he had said did nothing to prepare me for the amazingly beautiful sight of Edward in the sunlight. His skin reflected the light into a thousand tiny rainbows, and as he slowly moved closer the colours shifted and changed like an iridescent opal.

 

E dward reached my outstretched hand with his own and I lost all sense of control and I threw myself into him. I wrapped my arms around his body and pressed my face against his chest. Slowly Edward’s arms closed around me and held me softly, “ I am the one who should be sorry,” He whispered against my hair.

 

I reluctantly pulled away so I could look at his face, “ What?” my voice broke as I spoke.

 

You told me to go, I should have listened to you.” He murmured softly as he reached with his long slender fingers to pluck another leaf out of my hair.

 

I couldn’t focus on what he was saying, I was enthralled by his beauty. My hand rose to rest against his face and my thumb caressed his cheek, “ So beautiful.” I whispered.

 

E dward scoffed and took a step away from me, a familiar look of disgust on his face “This is the skin of a monster, Bella.”

 

I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes, “Edward, last night you watched me shed my human skin and transform into a wolf, so I think monster is relative right now.” I gave him a joking smirk, he didn’t return my look. He just looked at me as if contemplating my sanity, “Too soon for jokes? Okay, noted.” I muttered and sunk to the ground folding my legs underneath me.

 

I watched as Edward slowly mimicked my movements and sat cross legged across from me. “ Bella, I do have some questions.” He said after a moment of silence.

 

I studied the glittering diamonds on his hand for a moment before nodding, “I figured you would.” I took a deep breath before I met his amber eyes, “Okay, shoot.”

 

What are you?” He asked,

 

I couldn’t help myself from laughing loudly, Edward’s confused look only amused me further. “Are you telling me that the whole ‘changing into a wolf on the full moon’ thing wasn’t a dead give away?” I chuckled. He didn’t respond and once my laughing settled I answered, “I’m a werewolf, Edward.”

 

E dward’s eyebrows furrowed and his head cocked to the side, “No you’re not.” What? The? Fuck? He said it was so much conviction I almost doubted my own existence.

 

What the hell are you talking about Edward?” I tried to keep my annoyance out of my voice but it bled through.

 

As far as I know you have no relation to the Quilluettes on the reservation.” He replied confidently.

 

Oh, I get it. No, Edward they aren’t werewolves, they are shape shifters.” I explained slowly as if to a child.

 

I watched as his brow furrowed and then evened out as he thought over this new information. I sat across from hi m quietly, waiting for him to speak and letting him take his time to evaluate the new information he had been given. “ How old are you?” Was his next question.

 

I had to admit, I had prepared myself for a lot of questions. I had more time than I would have liked to consider all the different ways Edward would respond to finding out my truth. In spite of that, Edward Cullen still managed to surprise me. “ I’m seventeen.” I replied coolly and I eyed him suspiciously.

 

How long have you been seventeen?” He asked as he mirrored my wary expression.

 

A few months?” the reply came out as a question, my confusion beginning to show. “I don’t understand the question honestly.”

 

H e chuckled softly, “ Are you-” He paused for a moment, “Like me?” his eyes dropped down.

 

I t took me a moment to realise the meaning of his question, “You mean immortal? Yeah.” I shrugged, “Well I mean, kinda? Its not in the same way that you’re immortal, but...” I couldn’t think of how to finish my explanation so I just let the sentence drift away from me.

 

E dward reached across and took my hand in his, I smiled at the contact. “ How do you know about vampires?” He asked in a hushed tone.

 

I t was the first time either of us had said the word out loud and it seemed to hang in the air, threatening to change the dynamic of our relationship forever. “ Well-” I paused, I wasn’t sure if I should mention the Great Massacre or not, I quickly settled on not, “When I was 13 my Dad and I were camping near the Grand Canyon, we were attacked by a nomad.”

 

E dward’s body tensed and his hand gripped mine tightly, almost a little too tightly but I wasn’t about to complain “What happened?” He spit out between clenched teeth. I couldn’t fight the urge to inhale his scent deep into my lungs, I needed to know what he was feeling. I almost choked on the scent of his white hot fury.

 

I cleared my throat before saying, “It was night, and this vampire just… appeared out of nowhere. Before I even really knew what was happening Charlie had shifted. I wanted to help but I couldn’t I was just… stuck.” I shrugged helplessly.

 

Charlie killed a vampire?” Edward asked and I couldn’t do much more than nod mutely, “By himself?”

 

Yeah?” I mumbled,

 

Have you ever-?” Edward didn’t finish the question but I knew what he was asking.

 

“No. Never” I shook my head fervently, “That was the only vampire I had ever seen until I saw you and your family in the school cafeteria.”

 

E dward nodded as he accepted my answer, I was so relieved with how this was all going. I never once imagined that he would be taking this all so well. He let go of my hand as his rose to cup my cheek, “Why did you growl at me?” He whispered, his voice betraying how hurt he felt.

 

I pulled his hand away from my face in confusion, “Why did I do what now?” I baulked

 

You-you growled at me. You looked like you were going to attack me.” He replied hurriedly, “Don’t you remember?”

 

I shook my head, “I-I… don’t usually remember what happens when I transform. I mean- I remember that you were there, but- ” I stopped as I scrunched my eyes closed and tried to remember the previous evening. Flashes of green forest. A large elk with giant antlers being crushed between my powerful jaws as my claws shredded the warm flesh . I shook my head angrily, these are not the memories I am searching for. I tried harder, willing the memories to return to me. Edward standing in front of me, hands raised in surrender. My lips raised around my teeth in a snarl. My hackles raising on my neck as I bowed down to pounce.

 

Oh god.” I gasped out, I opened my eyes and looked at Edward. He was looking at me and when I met his eyes he gave me a soft smile. I hadn’t noticed the hot tears streaming down my face until Edward reached to wipe them off my cheek. I drew in a shaky breath and it was released in a broken sob. “Oh god,” I took in another rattling breath, “I am so,” I choked on my words as a sob broke free, “Sorry.” I hid my face in my hands as sobs rocked my body.

 

I felt Edward’s strong arms surround me and felt myself being lifted from the ground. He gently placed me down and I felt his arms encircle me. I realised he had lifted me into his lap, and was holding me close against his chest as I cried. It felt so wrong. He shouldn’t be comforting me. After what I had done why was he even here? I allowed myself to take in his scent, basil and wildflowers and the sweet honeyed smell of love filled my senses. It calmed me down and my broken sobs quietened as I stopped crying.

 

I didn’t move out of his arms as I said, “I didn’t realise. I didn’t know who you were, not at first.” It didn’t feel like enough. It was a sorry excuse. If I had been better, if I had been stronger I w ould not have lost myself to the wolf.

 

E dwards long fingers ran through my hair, carefully manoeuvring around the many knots and tangles. “ It is okay, love.” He murmured as his fingers worked through my hair.

 

No,” I shook my head childishly but still didn’t remove myself from his lap. “No it’s not okay. You-you don’t get it do you?” I scrambled off his lap in distress and pulled myself to my knees across from him. “That’s why I asked you to leave, why I begged you to go. I am not safe, Edward.” I was pleading with him now, tears burning in my eyes and threatening to fall once again.

 

I was growing frustrated now, angry even. I was furious at myself for growling and threatening Edward like I had, but I was also infuriated by his clear lack of understanding. It was like he didn’t believe me, didn’t think that I could pose a threat to him. Didn’t he know how dangerous I could be? How the full-moon made me lose control? H ow the transformation not only shed m e of my human skin but of my very humanity.

 

You’d never hurt me.” Edward insisted as his hand reached out for me.

 

You’re right, I wouldn’t.” I nodded as my anger continued to burn in my chest, “But you’re still not understanding me, Edward.” I took his outstretched hand and crossed my legs as I sat back down across from me. “I’m young, I don’t-” I halted for a moment as I found my words, “I can’t control it. Not yet. When I transform, I lose all sense of who I am. So you’re right, I would never hurt you, I couldn’t. But when I change, I’m not me, not anymore.”

 

You’re wrong.” Edward argued, his voice strong and assertive. His confidence made my anger waver for a moment, and I was about to argue with him but a cool finger came to my lips to silence me. No, no arguing with me. Just listen.” Edward smiled tenderly at me as he lowered his hand.

 

You’re right, at first you weren’t you. I looked into your eyes, bright yellow and so foreign and there was nothing even close to resembling human in there.” a tear escaped the corner of my eye as I hung my head trying to hide my face from Edward. Shame filled me to my core and I wanted to just disappear from the face of the planet and never return. Edward’s hand came into my field of vision and his slender fingers tucked under my chin, tilting my head up to force me to look at him. “But then I said your name. I said your name and reminded you of who I was and it was like something behind your eyes shifted. Suddenly those bright eyes held more understanding and emotion then I ever thought possible, and I knew that you knew what was going on. It was like a puppet with it’s strings cut and you just crumpled under your own weight, hiding behind your own paws.” Edward paused and gently tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “You were so amazing, so beautiful.” He spoke reverently and he gently closed the distance between us and pressed his lips to mine.

 

I leaned into the kiss, my hands coming to tangle in his hair. I took comfort from his touch, allowing every part of him to fill my senses. Edward pulled away too soon and I was left breathless and wanting more. I didn’t force the issue though, part of me was still waiting for Edward to realise the truth of my nature and run away from me screaming.

 

I- I remember that-” I paused as I bit my bottom lip, I didn’t know if I wanted to finish the thought.

 

“What?” Edward encouraged me gently.

 

I remember the look on your face when you saw me transform.” I peaked a look at him before looking back down to the tufts of grass between us. “You looked horrified. You’re disgusted by me.” The accusation slipped from my mouth before I could stop it.

 

T o my surprise Edward laughed. He laughed at me, his shoulders shook and he threw his head back shaking it in disbelief. “ Oh, Bella.” He breathed as he regained his composure, “You silly girl, no I could never be anything other than completely enthralled by you. Was I shocked? Of course, I mean I witnessed you shed your skin and transform into a wolf. Was I a little grossed out? Yes, at first but come on Bella, I’m a vampire so I am in no place to judge you. He smiled crookedly at me, a sense of smugness falling off him like the gentle lapping of an incoming tide.

 

M y eyes narrowed at him. Here I was baring my heart and soul to him and he laughs at me? “It’s rude to laugh at people, ya know.” I grumbled.

 

He chuckled as his smile grew wider, “It’s not my fault you are so utterly amusing.” he teased. The heaviness of our conversation evaporated in the warm spring air, and it drifted away on the breeze like dandelion fluff.

 

I’ll show you,” I growled playfully and sprung at him. My actions seemed to catch him of guard and as I collided with his body he sprawled backwards, landing flat on his back with me laying on top of him.

 

You think you could fight me off?” He playfully teased as his hands grabbed me by my shoulders and pushed me off him. We tumbled and rolled in the grass before coming to stop with him towering over me. His hands were planted in the grass on either side of my head and he was smirking at me in victory.

 

N ope. I could not let that stand.

 

 

 

I shifted my weight and tucked a leg in between our bodies my knee pressing against his stomach , I then firmly grasped his bicep and bucked my hips as I used all my strength and weight to force him back onto his back. We tumbled again but I regained the upper-hand. I could feel Edward squirming underneath me and I gritted my teeth as I called on my additional strength. I shimmied upwards and sat my full weight on Edward’s chest as I pinned his arms to his side. My heart was pounding and my muscles were burning with the effort, my breathing was ragged but I was grinning in triumph.

 

I win!” I declared and I planted a kiss to his forehead to drive the point home before I threw myself off him and landed with a laugh next to him. I was pretty sure that if we had continued that Edward would have easily won our little impromptu wrestling match. Not only was he stronger, he didn’t get tired like I did. As it stood, I wasn’t completely convinced he didn’t let me win to begin with.

 

You are very strong,” He chuckled as he dusted off his clothes, pieces of grass fell off him and drifted away in the wind.

 

Not as strong as you. You were going easy on me.” I laughed,

 

E dward smiled in a ‘sorry-not-sorry’ kind of way. “Maybe a little. I mean it though, you are incredible.”

 

I fell back into the grass with a humph , staring up at the pockets of fluffy clouds as they drifted across the pristine blue sky . When I noticed just how high the sun was resting in the sky I shot back up and I was on my feet in a flurry of movement.

 

E dward was still on the ground, looking up at me with worried eyes. “Bella? What’s wrong?”

 

I didn’t realise how late in the day it was.” I groaned and ran a tired hand over my face, the weight of our conversation had left me emotionally drained.

 

Is that?” Edward paused as he rose to his feet at a much more human pace than I had, “Is that a problem?”

 

No- well yes. I mean I never returned home after a full-moon, which would be cause for Charlie to worry. And now I am skipping school, so once the school calls him to check where I am he will just be pissed.” I groaned as I started to walk towards the tree line. I paused and scented the air, struggling to figure out which direction would lead me home.

 

I felt a cold but gentle hand encircled around my wrist, pulling me in a different direction. “My car is this way.” Edward murmured as he led me in the desired direction.

 

Your car?” I asked. I shifted uncomfortably in the over-sized clothes as we crossed the meadow and entered the treeline on the other side. I took my hand out of Edward’s and bunched up the t-shirt and tied it in a knot on the side so it wasn’t hanging so much and crowding my movements. “What’s your car doing here?”

 

Well, after you ran off I felt like I should follow you.” Edward glanced down at me to judge my reaction, upon seeing my obvious displeasure at being followed during my full-moon induced savagery he quickly added, “Just to make sure you were okay.” I couldn’t help the small scoff that accompanied my eye roll but I motioned for him to continue, “After a while you seemed to catch a scent, it took me a while to realise you were tracking my scent. It led you to that meadow.” He motioned with his thumb behind us, “You seemed to settle down to sleep, it was still an hour or so until dawn but I could see that you were beginning to…” he paused as if trying to find the correct word.

 

Transform back?” I supplied helpfully,

 

Yes. I didn’t think you would appreciate waking up naked in the woods, so I covered you with my coat and left for home to gather you something to dress in. I figured it would be best to bring my car also, I wasn’t- or rather I am still not sure how fast you are in your human form.” Edward continued explaining as we walked.

 

Well that was very considerate of you,” I smiled around the words. “As for how fast I am? Well probably not as fast as you, though probably still faster than you would be expecting.” I allowed my tone to turn teasing.

 

That sounds like a challenge.” Edward responded it what almost sounded like a purr.

 

I bit my lip to stop myself from smirking and giving myself away. I could easy distinguish Edward’s scent trail from the other smells of the forest now , and I was pretty confident in my ability to follow it to his car. Before Edward could say or do anything else, I dug my bare feet into the soil below and ran off at a sprint that would make an Olympic athlete jealous.

 

I heard a startled gasp of “You cheater!” before Edward took off behind me.

 

It only took a moment before Edward was beside me, easily keeping pace. Too easily. I knew this was an exercise in futility, and I would never be able to outrun a vampire – at least on two legs- b ut I knew I was fast, and with the extra strength gifted to me from the full moon and my midnight snack I pushed ahead. I could feel burn of lactic acid build in my thighs, and I pushed through it and felt it melt away as my supernaturally enhanced muscles kicked into overdrive.

 

I felt a grin spread across my face as I ran. I hadn’t run at full speed like this in ages, years probably. I had forgotten how good it felt. I was reaching my limit now, approaching 60 miles an hour. Edward kept pace with me the entire time, and then slowly pulled ahead. I gritted my teeth and tried to control my breathing as I attempted to gain on him. It was no use, he sped ahead of me and I couldn’t help but growl at his delighted laugh.

 

W e were bounding through the woods, dipping and ducking under low hanging branches and leaping over fallen logs. For the rest of the run Edward remained a few yards a head of me, and it annoyed me to no end.

 

I could start to see the beams of light ahead, telling me we were approaching the edge of the forest once again. Edward began to slow and I took advantage of that to push ahead. “ Bella! Watch out!” Edward called in warning.

 

I ignored him as I came barrelling out of the trees, and immediately realised why Edward had slowed as he did. The treeline stopped abruptly at a small gravel parking lot, and Edward’s car was parked rather close. I quickly considered my options, and instantly chose poorly. I tried to skid to a halt but th e loose gravel under my feet did not do anything to aid my sudden stop. I lost my footing and went tumbling over myself in a cloud of dust, before my body went skidding against the ground and coming to a violent stop against the tyre of Edward’s car.

 

Bella!” Edward called and as he broke the treeline he rushed towards me so fast he was almost a total blur. Show off. “Are you okay?” He gasped as he crouched down beside me.

 

I did a quick mental check of all my limbs, nothing broken, not even a scratch. I stood up and laughed as a cloud of gravel and dirt fell around me. “ Just how fragile do you think I am?” I continued to laugh as I dusted myself off. E dward’s pale hands fluttered uselessly over me, wanting to see if I was alright but not actually touching me. I batted at his hand, “I’m fine. ” I stressed.

 

Please don’t scare me like that,” He breathed out before pulling me against his chest,

 

No promises.” I muttered indignantly, the noise muffled by the hug.

 

E dward opened the passenger side door for me and I slide in happily. We sat together in comfortable silence as Edward drove me home.

 

I had never been one to believe in old superstitions or religions. I didn’t think of the old fables that Charlie told me as a kid as anything more than comforting bed-time stories. I was probably as close to an Atheist that a werewolf could get, b ut as I sat there next to Edward as he drove me home, waves of quiet contentment filling the small space in the car, I almost began to believe. I began to silently thank the Old Gods, praising the moon and the stars for gifting me this good fortune. I had been so sure that when he found out the truth that he would run from me in disgust or fear. Instead he had stayed. He had asked me quiet questions and accepted my answers with grace and understanding. The sheer amount of relief I felt as Edward silently reached across and took my hand in his as he drove was staggering.

 

I smiled happily and rested my head against the car seat and closed my eyes. I ran my thumb over Edward’s hand and I relished the feel of it. I barely even noticed the soft vibrations of the contented growls echoing in my chest until Edward started laughing. The noise was cut short and my eyes snapped open and I stared at him quizzically. “ You-” Edward paused as he chuckled again, his shoulders shaking, “You were… I don’t know how else to put this but you were purring.”

 

I was not.” I argued defiantly

 

Oh you were too.” Edward replied as he continued to laugh at my expense.

 

Wolves to not purr.” I sneered the word, “If anything I was growling. Happily.” I snipped out, but there was no real heat behind my words.

 

Is that something you do regularly? Purr- excuse me- growl?” Edward’s eyes were teasing as he smirked at me.

 

Not particularly.” I huffed out, not appreciating his teasing attitude.

 

Well, I think it’s adorable.” Edward assured me as he turned the car onto my street. He swiftly parked his car in my driveway behind my truck.

 

Adorable.” I muttered under my breath, “Keep talking and I’ll show you adorable.” I reached for the door handle but Edward’s hand touched my chin, pulling my face around to meet his.

 

T he amusement was still there, but it was dulled now by something else. Worry? “I just have one more question before you go.”

 

I nodded solemnly, “Alright.”

 

Why didn’t you tell me?” Edward asked, his fingers caressing my cheek softly.

 

T he gentle coolness of his fingers was heavenly, and very distracting. I reached up and took his hand from my face, enclosing it with both of mine. If I was going to answer that question I was going to need to be able to think with a clear head. “ Edward, I-” I took a deep breath as I tried to put my thoughts in an order that would make sense to another person. “I couldn’t- I mean- At first-and then.” My words were falling over each other again in a hurried attempt to explain myself. Fear clenched in my chest as I worried that this would be the thing that sent Edward over the edge and made him finally leave.

 

Bella, just take deep breath.” Edward whispered to me, and I did as I was told. “Good, there we go. Now just try again, slowly this time.” There was no condescension there, no annoyance or pity. Just never ending compassion and understanding. Edward knew that my mouth and brain often worked against each other, and that it only got worse when I was anxious or flustered. As I looked at him now, he didn’t seem to mind. His radiant golden eyes just watched me with gentle patience.

 

Edward,” I started again, “You gotta believe me when I tell you that I was going to tell you.” I paused “Eventually.” I added guiltily, “I just didn’t know how.”

 

I believe you, Bella. But you still haven’t answered my question.” He reminded me gently.

 

I looked down and focused on the feeling of Edward’s hand in mine, “ When I first moved here, I asked Charlie if you and your family knew about us. He told me you didn’t, and that while he didn’t think you were a direct threat that it was best not to risk it.” I spoke at a near mumble.

 

Risk what?” Edward probed,

 

Risk your family alerting the Volturi to our presence.” Edward let out a startled gasp at the mention of the Volturi coven. I looked up at Edward now and saw his mouth was in a tight line, pain flashing in his eyes. “Once I got to know you, I realised you would never – I mean you’d never to anything to put me in danger, let alone snitch on me to the vampire cops.” I tried to lighten the mood with some of my usual misplaced humour. Edward’s mouth twitched slightly and his hand gently squeezed mine, silently telling me to continue.

 

But by then, it just.” I sighed and slumped back against the seat. I looked across at him and didn’t bother to mask my emotional exhaustion. “It just seemed like I had waited to long?” The sentence ended in a question and my next rushed out of me in a flurry of unedited thought.I didn’t know how to tell you, I felt like I had dug myself too deep into this hole of lies and half truths and I was terrified that once you found out the truth that you wouldn’t want to see me anymore.”

 

I stared at Edward and waited for him to respond to my confession. After a few quiet seconds his hand left mine and snaked around the back of my neck, pulling me closer to him as he crashed his lips against mine. Edward pulled away too soon and pressed his forehead against mine, “There is nothing you can do that would make me want to leave you.” He spoke in a soft breathy voice. “You’ll just have to face it. Bella Swan, you’re stuck with me.”

 

I smiled and closed my eyes as I enjoyed our closeness. I was more than okay with that.

Chapter Text

 

 

Once I closed the front door and listened to the soft sound of Edward’s car drive away I wanted nothing more then to go and have a long, hot shower. Unfortunately I had a much more important, and much less enjoyable job to do first. With a heavy sigh I plodded into the kitchen and picked up the land-line, keying in the number for Charlie’s phone at the station.

 

It rang twice before Charlie’s gruff voice came through the line, “Chief Swan.”

 

“Hey, Dad.” I replied meekly.

 

I heard him let out a relieved sigh, but it was tinged with his familiar brand of quiet frustration. “Bella, would you care to explain why you didn’t return home last night? And why I then got a call from the school saying you never arrived?”

 

“Dad, I’m sorry.” I apologised for the umpteenth time that day, “I didn’t mean to worry you. A lot happened last night. Also, I didn’t mean to skip school. The day just sorta… got away from me.” The excuse felt weak, it seemed Charlie felt the same.

 

What do you mean a lot happened last night?” He asked with a lowered voice and I could hear through the phone line the sound of him closing the door to his little office.

 

Well…” I paused for a heartbeat and I heard the squeak of Charlie’s chair as he sat back down behind his desk. “When I went into the woods last night to shift, Edward was there-”

 

What happened? Is everyone alright?” Charlie cut me off, his tone concerned but steady. It was the same tone he used when investigating, it was his cop voice ™. It also reminded me of those battle hardened generals in war movies, asking about the battlefield situation. Calm like a raging storm.

 

Yeah, Dad. Everyone is okay. I tried to get him to leave before the moon rose, but I couldn’t get him to.” My voice got caught in my throat as the rush of emotions returned to me. “He saw everything.” The statement came out of my mouth in almost a whimper. I leaned against the wall that the land-line was mounted on and slowly slid to the floor.

 

Do you need me to come home?” Charlie offered.

 

No Dad, it’s alright. You’re probably super busy trying to find that Not-Bear.” I replied.

 

I heard Charlie chuckle. I t was a subtle sound, low and throaty and almost devoid of actual humour. “ I’ll never be too busy to be there for you, my Isabella.” He replied, some antiquated and foreign accent that he usually kept well hidden bled through when he said my name. My eyebrows furrowed, I had only ever heard that strange infl e ction in his voice when he had taught me Italian and Latin as a kid. No, there was one other time. When he was talking me through a nightmare after the attack from the nomad. I couldn’t bring myself to ask him about it now, so I tucked away the morsel of information to bring back up later.

 

Thanks, Dad but really I’m fine.” I smiled and hoped that he could hear the expression in my voice.

 

Have you spoken to Edward since?” Charlie asked, his voice shifting from concerned father to concerned werewolf. I heard the unasked question in his tone, will he be alerting the Volturi of our existence?

Yeah I have. Actually, now that I think about it, if you wanted to blame anyone for me skipping school, you really should be blaming him.” I sniffed,

 

Is that right?” Charlie’s voice was coloured with amusement.

 

Yeah, I woke up in this fu-” I stopped and quickly corrected myself “Freaking field in the middle of the woods. Edward was there, and naturally he had some questions. We spent the morning talking and before I realised it, it was mid-day.”

 

I hope this conversation didn’t happen while you were naked?” Charlie grumbled.

 

A rush of heat coloured my face and I groaned, “ Dad ,” I groaned out, elongating the word, “ No, Edward had gotten me a pack of clothes from his house.”

 

Alright then, so there is nothing to worry about?” His double meaning was clear again.

 

No, nothing to worry about.” I confirmed,

 

Okay, well I best get back to work. See you when I get home tonight.” Charlie hung up the phone before I could say goodbye and I rolled my eyes at him. I pulled myself off the floor and hung up the land-line. I was pleasantly surprised by our conversation. I had been expecting Charlie to be a lot angrier than he had been. I was fully prepared to be given a long and very loud lecture about responsibility and not worrying your parents. In stead he seemed more worried than mad, and I could deal with a worried Charlie.

 

I walked up the narrow stairs and went into the bathroom, turning on the shower so it could heat up I slowly took off Edward’s clothes. I placed them on the small counter and grabbed my hairbrush, yanking it harshly through my hair. Tiny remnants of the woods fell from my hair as I wrestled with the tangled mess. Once it seemed tamed enough I stepped into the hot spray of the shower. I washed my hair, scrubbing at my scalp with the shampoo and I scrubbed any trace of my late night adventure from my skin.

 

I turned off the shower and stepped out, wrapping myself in a clean towel. I bundled up Edward’s clothes and carried them back with me to my bedroom. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with his clothes, but I didn’t want to leave them somewhere Charlie could find them.

 

M y bedroom door closed with a soft click and I sat on the edge of my bed with a heavy sigh. It felt good to be clean and the hot shower seemed to rejuvenate me and liven my soul. Before I fully registered my own movements I had brought the bundle of Edward’s clothes to my face, inhaling deeply. Edwards scent filled my senses again and brought my mind back to our time in the meadow. I smiled into the pile of clothes and instinctively nuzzled against them.

 

I was violently pulled back into reality when I realised what I was doing. I pulled the mess of clothing away from my face and frowned down at it. “What the hell is wrong with you?” I muttered to myself. I shook my head and my damp hair slapped against my face. Seriously? Sniffing and nuzzling his clothes? I was just relieved that no one was around to witness that embarrassing moment.

 

I glanced around my room contemplating where I should put the offending items. Eventually I lifted up my pillow and stuffed them under it, covering it back up with the pillow and blanket. I found some clean clothes and got dressed silently. I slowly went over the day in my head, chewing over my conversation with Edward and then my phone call with my dad. I wondered what all this meant for my life. Now that Edward knew the truth would our relationship change? I expected it would, I couldn’t imagine it could stay the same. I hoped that it wouldn’t change too much though, I enjoyed our time together. Our easy-going conversations, the gentle ribbing and teasing that felt so natural. I worried that the shift in our relationship would alter this beyond recognition, although if today was any indication I was probably worrying over nothing.

 

S uddenly I remembered what day it was, and what was happening tomorrow. Tomorrow was the spring dance, the one I had managed to escape by agreeing to go on a date with Edward. Was that still going to happen? Or did he need time by himself to digest our conversation. I scrunched up my nose in frustration as I scrolled through my contacts on my cell, realising that I did not have Edward’s number.

 

I went back downstairs and dug out the heavy phone book from it’s place at the back of the junk-drawer. I flipped through the thin pages before I found it. Cullen, C arlisle .

 

I quickly memorised the number before punching it into the land-line. It rang for an almost uncomfortable amount of time before an unfamiliar female voice answered. “Hello, Cullen residence.”

 

I was not sure why I had expected Edward to be the one to answer the phone, but the foreign voice startled me for a moment. “Uh, yeah. Hi. Uhm Is Edward there?” I stumbled over my words awkwardly and then ran my hand over my face as I chastised myself. Way to be smooth, Bella.

 

Let me see, may I ask who is calling?” The voice asked,

 

Yeah, its Bella…” I paused, “Bella Swan?” I continued and said my own name as a question.

 

Just a moment.” The voice replied and I listened closely to the noises in the background. I could hear muted voices, but I couldn’t make out the exact words.

 

There was a rattling noise and static as someone grabbed at the phone and I could hear Edward’s voice now. “ Please , mom not now.” His voice sounded far away and muted, I figured he may have been pressing the phone against his chest to muffle the noises around him. I heard more muffled voices before the bang of a door closing loudly. “Hello, Bella?” Edward spoke into the phone now.

 

I smiled at his voice, “Hi,” I released the word in a breathy sigh.

 

Is something wrong? Or are you just missing me already?” Edward’s tone was teasing and the gentle ribbing eased my earlier worries.

 

Wow, arrogant much?” I teased back in the same tone, “I was calling to see if we were still on for tomorrow night? You know our… date?” I fiddled with the coiled phone cord as I talked.

 

Of course we are, do you think I would have forgotten?”

 

Well no, not exactly. I just wasn’t sure if you would still want to see me, after… well ya know.” I shrugged uselessly. “I didn’t wanna push it, in case you needed time to yourself or whatever.”

 

Of course I want to see you, I have been looking forward to it. Unless you need time?” I smiled at his kind concern, he was such a gentleman.

 

No, no I’m good.”

 

Fantastic. I will pick you up at five. Dress nicely, I’m taking you out for dinner.” Edward’s voice was confident and self assured. Well, it was good that at least one of us was. It wouldn’t work if we were both a jumbled mess of self-conscious jelly.

 

Okay,” I managed to say in a high-pitched squeak, “See you tomorrow, bye.” I quickly put the phone back on the cradle as I heard Edward’s laughter come from the receiver.

 

W hat does a teen werewolf wear on her first official date with her vampire boyfriend?

 

XxXx

 

It was 4: 0 0 pm, and I stood in front of my open closet in only my underwear as I worried over what I should wear. It had been Charlie’s day off, and after he had slept in he busied himself cleaning his guns. If he noticed my anxious demeanour as I fluttered around the house he didn’t say anything. I had never been the type of person to stress out over clothes or other peoples opinions of me, but I wanted to look nice for Edward.

 

I guess it was a little silly. I mean after what he had seen during the full moon and the day after. Me sitting in the grass being swallowed by his large clothes as my hair stuck out in all directions riddled with leaves and pine-needles like some sort of feral woman. I supposed that was why I wanted to look nice now, I wanted-no needed - him to see another side of me.

 

With a heavy sigh I pulled out my one and only dress. It was blue and knee-length. Rene had bought it for me to wear to her friend’s out-door wedding. It had short sleeves and a gentle square neckline, the bodice clung to my body and pinched at the waist before flaring out lightly into the skirt. I stepped into it and reached behind me to zip it up, I then appraised myself in the mirror. I had showered again, if only to take up time and make myself feel better, and now my hair had dried naturally in its soft waves and ringlets. I shrugged at my reflection “I guess this is as good as it gets.”

 

I pulled on my converse and grabbed my shoulder bag as I headed downstairs. I went into the kitchen and watched for a minute or two as Charlie fiddled with an ancient looking pistol. It looked like something out of an old revolutionary war movie, all metal and wood blending together into an elongated and bulbous shape. “ That thing looks older than you do, old man.” I jested from my place in the entry way,

 

C harlie glanced over his shoulder, smirking at me. “Not quite.” He winked. He then took in my form, the nice blue dress and my hair falling around my shoulders in the soft waves and hidden curls rather than being brushed straight as I usually did before leaving the house . “ You look nice, going somewhere?” He asked as he turned back in his seat and pushed a piece of cotton that was attached to a long piece of metal down the barrel of the strange gun.

 

Uh, yeah actually I am.” I replied as I came into the room and sat across from him. “I’ve got a date with Edward Cullen.”

 

C harlie smiled and he placed the odd gun down on the table, “ What time is he picking you up?” He asked,

 

He told me 5.” I replied, Charlie nodded more to himself than to me as his eyebrows furrowed before smoothing out again. I narrowed my eyes and licked my lips as I breathed in his scent, trying harder than ever to puzzle out his emotions. I could just get the tiniest hint of concern hiding amongst his familiar scent of leather and wood smoke. “Dad, again I am sorry for yesterday. I didn’t mean to stress you out when I didn’t come home after the full moon. I know how much Rene hated it and I don’t do it on purpose, I swear.”

 

C harlie gave me a wry smile, “ Have I ever told you about your Aunt Annalise?”

 

Now it was my turn to furrow my eyebrows. “Uh I think I remember you mentioning her before. Why?” I asked as I sat forward in my seat. Over the years Charlie had told me bit s and pieces about his family, about our family, but I never pressed the topic. I knew that even though it had been centuries since their deaths that he still was pained by their memories. Still, any time he felt the urge to share with me I hung on his every word. Any information I could get on my lost family, the one I never got the chance to know, felt precious to me. I could find pieces of myself lost throughout his stories of his youth, both in his own behaviour and the behaviour of his siblings. It made me feel connected to something larger than myself, it made me feel whole.

 

You remind me a lot of her sometimes.” Charlie said wistfully, “Stubborn, that’s what you are.” he chuckled at a memory and I bit my tongue to stop myself from arguing. I didn’t want to interrupt him in case he had more to share. “She was older than me by a few years, and I remember one full moon when we were teenagers she didn’t return. I was worried, of course, but our parents didn’t seem bothered at all.” He shook his head and his unkempt hair fell around his face. I watched him with wide eyes, silently pleading him to continue. “It was another 3 full moons before she came home. She was wearing nothing but wild furs and her hair was in long messy braids, she was not dressed appropriately for a woman of her status. I was sure that our parents would punish her, banish her to her quarters for weeks but they didn’t.” Charlie laughed and his eyes lifted from his place on the table to meet mine. A gentle sadness was there glistening in his eyes, but it was twinged with happiness also. “Mother explained to me that sometimes a female wolf in her youth needs time to roam away from the rest of the pack, and that there is nothing wrong or uncouth about that in the slightest.” He sighed and his calloused fingers reached over to me and tucked a wavy strand of hair behind my ear. “Whenever you don’t return, of course I will worry and fret. But I trust that you will be safe, I trust in your nature, in our natures.” Charlie sighed happily and picked up his pistol again, fiddling with in and rubbing a foul smelling oil over its surface. Our conversation was over it seemed.

 

“Need any help?” I offered after a moment of calm silence.

 

Charlie pursed his lips for a moment in thought, “Do you remember how to clean a rifle?”

 

I fought the urge to roll my eyes and only barely succeeded, “As if I could forget.”

 

Charlie shook his head and chuckled at me as he bent under the table to fetch the rifle from the duffle bag. He placed it in front of me and made a motion with his hands as if to say go on then, prove it. Charlie’s love of guns had been a sticking point for Rene, and I imagine it was one of the many reasons their marriage didn’t work out. Werewolf issues notwithstanding.

 

I couldn’t say that I truly understood his fascination with the weapon. After all, what does a werewolf need a gun for? Still I had to admit there was a strange sort of allure to them, and when Charlie had taken me out to teach me to shoot I took to it like a duck to water. When I was 12 years old, Charlie had spent an entire summer versing me on guns and drilling into me the importance of gun safety. Just because we could heal rapidly and survive a gun shot, doesn’t mean everyone else could. I could still hear the loud and booming lecture he had given me when I spun around after making a difficult shot with the rifle still in my hands. ‘Never point a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot, and always assume a gun is loaded even if you know it’s not.’

 

The rifle that sat on the table in front of me was the same one I had learnt to shoot all those years ago and it felt like second nature as I started pulling the weapon apart, stripping it down into its bare components. I was grateful for the distraction, doing something meticulous like this had allowed me to focus on something other than my growing anxiety about my date.

 

I was pulled away from my project by a gentle knocking on the door, my head snapped up and I smiled over at Charlie. “I’ll get it,” I chirped. I rushed to the door and swung it open and smiled up at Edward. He was wearing long dark grey slacks and a dark blue button up, he was also wearing his grey pea-coat. I blushed slightly at the reminder of my awakening in the woods and ducked my head to hide it.

 

“Hello, Bella.” Edward stepped through the entry way and moved to hug me, I went to return the gesture when I saw my hands covered in grease and gunpowder and rapidly pulled back.

 

Edward gave me a questioning look so I held up my hands as evidence, “Sorry, I was helping my dad. Follow me.” I motioned with my head as I turned to walk into the kitchen. “Hey, Dad. Edward’s here so I’m gonna head out now.” I spoke casually as I walked into the kitchen, although I was sure my rapidly beating heart was not missed by either of them.

 

“Uh-uh,” Charlie grunted with a shake of his head “You finish what you started first.” He chastised gruffly and my blush deepened. I wanted to whine and complain at being treated like a child in front of Edward, but I stopped myself. I figured that doing that wouldn’t do much for my case.

 

I huffed out a sigh, not bothering to hide my irritation. I stood in front of the now cleaned pieces of the rifle and as I worked from muscle memory I skilfully returned them all to their proper places. I made sure that they all found their homes as each bit clicked pleasantly. Once the rifle was back in one piece, I pulled back the bolt to double check it was indeed unloaded. When I was satisfied I placed the weapon back on the table and looked at Charlie with a raised eyebrow. He nodded his approval so I moved to the kitchen sink to rid my hands of the grease and grime.

 

Edward cleared his throat and stepped further into the room, “Good evening, Chief Swan. I’d like to formally introduce myself. I’m Edward Cullen.”

 

As I squirted some dish soap onto my hands I watched the pair from the corner of my eye. Charlie slowly rose from his chair and stood in front of Edward. I quickly scrubbed my hands clean and dried them with a towel and turned to watch the two. Charlie seemed to be weighing Edward up, his usually warm eyes were hard now and his lips were in a tight line on his face, the edges pulling down slightly. My gaze flickered to Edward, and he seemed to shift uncomfortably under Charlie’s gaze.

 

Charlie put out his hand, it was covered in grease now much like mine had been a moment ago. “It’s good to meet you.” He said pleasantly.

 

I frowned at Charlie, this was some stupid male posturing if I had ever seen it. I felt my self stand up straighter and bristle with annoyance at the unnecessary show he was putting on. I couldn’t tell if the show was for me, or for Edward, but whoever it was for it was pissing me off.

 

Edward’s pristine hand went out and enclosed Charlie’s in a firm handshake, and I could have sworn I saw Edward flinch slightly. When their hands parted I noticed that Edward’s was now dirtied slightly. “Okay!” I clapped my hands once loudly garnering the attention of the both of them, “This has been perfectly awkward, but we have to go now.” I declared as I snatched my bag off the ground and slung it over my shoulder. I didn’t pause to give either of them any more time to say or do anything else as I hurried over to Charlie and gave him a quick hug, reaching on my tippy-toes to plant a kiss on his prickly cheek. “Don’t wait up!” I trilled as I grabbed Edward’s hand in mine and started to drag the stunned vampire out of the room and away from the ornery werewolf.

 

“I’ll have her back before 10, Chief Swan!” Edward hollered behind us, seemingly as an after thought.

 

I continued to pull Edward out of the house, and he seemed to return to himself as he opened my door for me. Edward got in the driver’s side and started the car and pulled out of the drive. “Sorry about him.” I muttered, the silence was beginning to grate of my nerves.

 

Edward shook his head, “Nothing to apologise for, although for a moment there I was worried he was going to break my hand.” Edward glanced at me and gave me a crooked smile. I groaned and Edward chuckled at me, “You look lovely by the way, I like what you have done with your hair.” A pale hand reached over and lightly caressed a lock of hair near my ear.

 

“Yes, well its much better than the ‘child of the wilds’ look I was sporting last time you saw me.” I teased.

 

“Oh I don’t know, that did have a certain charm to it.” Edward chuckled and I huffed my annoyance as I lightly shoved his shoulder.

 

“You look…very handsome.” I said once the silence returned.

 

“Thank you,” Edward turned the car onto the highway,

 

“Where are we going?” I asked, realising we were leaving town.

 

“I told you, I’m taking you to dinner. We have reservations at a nice restaurant in Port Angeles.”

 

“You don’t eat.” I accused,

 

“Yes, but you do.” He countered quickly. I rolled my eyes at him but didn’t argue back. “So, do you like guns?” Edward spoke up again and I was momentarily confused at the shift in topic.

 

“Huh?” I looked at him in confusion, my head tilting to the side slightly.

 

“You seemed very familiar with that rifle earlier, so I was just wondering if that was a hobby of yours?” Edward looked between me and the road, his eyes light and curious.

 

“Not a hobby really,” I replied shrugging as I watched out the window as we entered the outer skirts of the small city. “Just something my dad taught me as a kid, something we did together during the summer.”

 

“That’s nice, that you have that with your father.” Edward replied as he pulled into a parking space in front of a small intimate looking restaurant. I opened my door and started to get out but was met with Edward standing in front of me offering his hand. I happily took his hand in mine as we entered the restaurant. “Cullen, table for two.” Edward said after greeting the hostess. I followed silently as we were led to a table near the back of the room, private and out of the way of others.

 

The hostess left after giving us our menus, but I didn’t appreciate how her gaze lingered on Edward and I had to bite back a growl. It seems I wasn’t entirely successful in doing so when I heard Edward chuckle, “I don’t think it’s wise to be growling at the humans, Bella.”

 

I huffed as I busied myself with my menu, “I wouldn’t have to if she wasn’t looking at you like you’re something to eat.” I grumbled.

 

“You’re a little bit possessive, aren’t you?” He continued in the same teasing tone.

 

My eyes flashed to his, “Is that a problem?” I asked anxiously.

 

“No, not at all. It’s endearing.” Edward reached across the small table and placed his hand on top of mine gently. I continued to peruse the menu before deciding on the braised duck. I closed the menu and looked over at Edward, a soft smiling colouring my face at the sight of him. “How old is your father?” Edward suddenly blurted out, and then grimaced slightly as if he was mentally chastising himself.

 

I swallowed the surprised giggle that bubbled up my throat. “Why do you ask?”

 

Before Edward could respond a perky waitress appeared at our table, “Hello, my name is Tammy and I’ll be your waitress tonight. Can I get you something to drink to start?” She spoke only to Edward and it soured my mood.

 

Edward looked to me to answer and I responded, “Iced tea, please.”

 

“Make it two.” Edward tagged on the end.

 

“Alrighty!” Tammy chirped as she scribbled on her pad, “And what can I get you to eat?” again, the question was only directed at Edward and I squeezed Edward’s hand to stop myself from growling again.

 

“I’ll have the braised duck, please.” I responded more curtly then I intended to.

 

“Nothing for me, thanks.” Edward responded, looking at me more than the waitress.

 

“You sure?” She asked, and when Edward nodded she pursed her lips. “Alright then, let me know if you change your mind.” Her hand went out to brush Edward’s shoulder but when she saw the death glare I was sending her way she quickly paled and pulled her hand back before rushing towards the kitchen.

 

Edward shook with silent laughter, “You put the fear of god into that girl,” he chuckled.

 

“Good.” I snipped, “So, you were asking me about my dad?”

 

“Yes, I saw the pistol on the table when I came into the kitchen. It seemed very old and it got me wondering about your father…” He seemed to trail off awkwardly.

 

“That makes two of us.” I let out a harsh laugh, “My dad doesn’t really like talking about his past a whole lot. From what I’ve managed to piece together over the years I’m pretty sure he is close to 700 years old, but sometimes I think older maybe? I don’t know.” I sighed as I shrugged at him, Edward looks genuinely shocked by this revelation and I had to remind myself that this wasn’t as normal for other people as it was for me. I figured since he was an unchanging vampire he would be more accustomed to people being older than dirt. A thought struck me, “How old are you?”

 

Edward considered me for a moment before answering, “I was born in 1901.” He replied and when I didn’t respond he continued, “And Carlisle changed me when I was 17, dying of Spanish Influenza.”

 

I made a face at that, “That must have sucked.” then I winced at my poor choice in words, “No pun intended, I swear.”

 

Edward laughed and shook his head, his free hand running through his hair. “I honestly don’t remember much from my human life, those memories have faded.”

 

“Huh,” I nodded, I didn’t know that was a thing. I always figured that vampire memory was as perfect as my own, but the idea that their human memories faded away was interesting. “Is that a you thing, or a vampire thing?” I asked.

 

Edward went to answer but paused as the waitress returned with our drinks. She didn’t dare say anything but did glance warily in my direction.

 

Edward waiting until the girl was out of earshot, “It’s a vampire thing. You have to focus on remembering your past.”

 

“And the mind reading?” I asked before taking a sip of my tea, “I think Charlie would have mentioned that if it was a standard vampire thing.”

 

“No, it’s not usual. It’s just me.” Edward gauged my reaction much like the way I had the day before. “Some vampires have extra… talents. I can read minds.” He shrugged as if it was no big deal.

 

“And the rest of your family? Are they super special also?” I asked,

 

Edward quirked an eyebrow at me before chuckling, “Alice can see the future, and Jasper is an empath, he can sense and manipulate the emotions of others.”

 

“Hold the phone, you can’t just drop a bombshell like that and keep on talking as if that was a normal thing to say!” I exclaimed, “You just told me your sister can see the future?” I stressed.

 

“That’s what shocks you? Not the whole sensing what others are feeling?” He smirked at me, clearly enjoying my reaction.

 

“What that?” I waved my hand dismissively, “We all can do that. But seeing the future? That's cool.”

 

“Well, she can see a potential and extremely subjective future. Wait, did you-” He stopped short and held me in a steady gaze, “Did you just say you can all sense emotions. As in all werewolves?”

 

“Yeah?” I frowned at him, before shaking my head. “Sorry, I forget that you know nothing about me. About what I am.”

 

The waitress reappeared then and placed my meal in front of me before turning to Edward, “Are you sure there isn’t anything I can get for you?”

 

Edward gave her a sideways glance, “I am fine.”

 

The waitress huffed in frustration before turning to leave. I looked down at my food, beautifully brown duck accompanied by roasted vegetables and a deep brown sauce. I narrowed my eyes before asking, “She didn’t spit in my food, did she?”

 

Edward tilted his head to the side and got a far-away look in his eyes as he listened to the girl’s thoughts. “No, you’re good.” He smiled at me.

 

I grabbed my knife and fork and dug in to my meal. The meat of the duck fell away from the bone and I moaned audibly when it melted in my mouth. Edward chuckled at my reaction, “That good huh?”

 

“Mm-hmm.” I confirmed around a mouthful of food.

 

“So… you’ve been able to sense my emotions this entire time, huh?” Edward asked after a moment of me eating in silence.

 

“Uhm…” I mumbled around another mouthful of food before I swallowed it, “Not really, it doesn’t work like that?” I stuck another mouthful of delicious duck in my mouth.

 

“Then how does it work?” Edward leaned forward on the table and rested his chin on his hands, staring at me intensely. Studying me.

 

“Well for starters,” I gestured with my fork, “I’m not very good at it.” I paused to eat some more food and Edward waited patiently. “Since spending more time with you I’ve realised just how much I rely on peoples heartbeats to judge their emotional state. And well, you have the audacity to not have a heart beat so that complicates matters a bit.”

 

Edward smirked, “I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience.” he replied sarcastically, the attractive smirk still on his face.

 

“As you should be.” I nodded seriously before pausing again to eat some more. “Anyway, its-” I was mumbling around my food again and I blushed as I paused to swallow my mouthful before continuing. “It’s not like I can feel what others are feeling or anything like that.”

 

“Then what’s it like?” Edward asked as I finished off my glass of Iced Tea, he silently pushed his still full glass towards me.

 

“When I woke up the morning after the full moon, that was the first time I was able to get a read on your emotions.”

 

“Really? Was it something I did? Being there while you changed?” Edward shifted in his seat again, his eyes burning with curiosity.

 

“Maybe?” I shrugged and Edward seemed a little irritated by my lack of answers, “All I know is that the scent of your worry, of your anxiety was thick and it got…” I paused, “like stuck in my sinuses? Like pollen during spring? Do you have allergies? Can vampires even get allergies?” I was pulling myself off track but I was invested in the conversation as I rudely spoke around mouthfuls of food.

 

Edward laughed, pinching the bridge of his nose and shaking his head in amusement. “No, vampires can not get allergies. But I think I am understanding what you are saying.”

 

I nodded as I continued to devour my meal, “Yeah, and when I told you about the vampire at the Grand Canyon, whoa boy-” I let out an exaggerated breath of air and shook my head, “The smell of your fury, your white hot rage? It burned in the back of my throat, I thought I was going to choke on it.”

 

Edward pressed his lips together and he seemed to be deep in thought for a moment, “Wolves can smell fear.” He eventually said.

 

I nodded along, following his train of thought. “Yeah, they do. That’s a pretty good way of thinking about it.”

 

“Can you…” Edward paused, “get a read on my emotions now?”

 

I put down my knife and fork and closed my eyes and took a deep breath. My nose twitched as I focused on the sudden influx of stimulus. I could smell Edward but his scent was muddled with the mix of humans and the strong smells emanating from the kitchen. I opened my eyes with a shake of my head, “There’s too much going on in here right now, I can’t separate it all out.” My muttered response gave away my clear frustration.

 

Edward reached for my hand and gave it a quick squeeze before letting it go so I could finish my meal, “No need to be so hard on yourself, Bella.”

 

I offered a weak shrug in response and turned my attention back to my meal, finishing it off completely. I put my cutlery together neatly on the plate like Rene had taught me before gulping down the last of the ice tea. I figured that we would have more time to talk before the waitress came with the bill, but it seemed that she was paying particular attention to us. She appeared after a moment and shot Edward a bright smile.

 

“Was everything okay?” She chirped and I resisted the urge to yank off the fake acrylic nails that tapped against the vinyl bill book.

 

“It was great, just the bill thanks.” Edward replied. As the waitress handed over the bill to Edward I reached into my bag to grab some cash, but before I could complete the move Edward had already slipped a black card into the bill fold and handed it back to the woman.

 

I frowned as she walked over to the till, “You didn’t even eat anything,” I complained.

 

“It would be rude of me to let a lady pay.” Edward replied simply.

 

I bit back a retort about him being old fashioned as the waitress returned with Edward’s card and receipt. Edward placed his card back in his wallet and stood up, I followed suit and Edward curled his arm around me. “Thank you very much,” He nodded politely to the waitress.

 

I allowed Edward to guide me outside and then I frowned at the sight of his car. I didn’t want to go home yet.

 

“We could go for a walk? The ocean isn’t too far from here.” Edward spoke up,

 

I smiled and scoffed in amusement, “Are you sure you can’t read my mind?” I joked, “I was just thinking that I don’t want to go home yet.”

 

Edward’s face lit up, his eyes beaming with joy at my statement. “I promise, your mind is a total mystery to me. Its just I didn’t want the evening to end either.” He replied as he took my hand in his and lead me down the street towards the sounds of gently crashing waves.

 

Soon we arrived at a small board walk, it was deserted now except for a few dozing sea gulls. The street lamps cast beams of lights across the sand and towards the surf, the waves crashing rhythmically against the dense sand. I smiled and pulled Edward closer to the beach, toeing off my shoes as I went and bending to pick them up. Edward chuckled but followed my example. I carried my shoes in one hand and pulled Edward along with the other.

 

I delighted in the sensation of the cool sand underneath my feet as I marched towards the water. Halfway towards the oncoming tide I stopped and plopped down in the sand, pulling Edward down with me. He landed heavily with a surprised Uhmph. I wiggled my toes happily in the sand and looked over at Edward.

 

I met his eyes and they seemed to glow in the soft evening light. The cool ocean breeze played in his hair, and the movement make his hair seem to shimmer slightly. His pale skin was flawless and radiant, and now that we were alone and clear of other distractions his heavenly scent wash over me unencumbered.

 

I was going to speak when Edward beat me to it, his pale hand running through my hair before coming to rest on the small of my back. “You are so beautiful.” he whispered reverently, as is he was whispering a solemn prayer.

 

“You took the words right out of my mouth.” I murmured back.

 

I leaned forward and as I did the hand he had resting on my back pulled me closer. I pressed my lips to his in a fevered kiss and felt my heartbeat stutter in my chest. My hands rose to become tangled in his hair and my tongue swept over his bottom lip. A primitive and untamed growl echoed in my chest as I tasted him. Part of me registered that I had pushed him down into the sand, and I was now laying on his chiselled chest. The other part of me was wholly consumed by Edward Cullen. His taste and his scent possessed me, there was nothing and nobody more important than him. I could feel his hands on me, one still on my lower back holding me to him the other resting on my hip lightly.

 

I ran my hand through his hair and down his neck, and as my tongue flickered out to taste his lips again a bolt of lightening was shot through my body. I gasped as the sensation pulled me back into a more civilised part of myself. I pulled back and looked at Edward, my hair was falling around us and covered his face in dancing shadows.

 

Edward’s eyes that had once been a bright yellow had now darkened to near black, knowing what that signified I forced myself to pull further away from him. As I sat up, I pulled him with me until we were sitting next to each other in the sand as we had been at the beginning. Edward kept me close with an arm around me as he hand rested on my hip, pulling me close to his side.

 

I licked my lips and the taste of him was still on my tongue. “You love me.” I stated confidently, I felt Edward take a breath to respond but I didn’t let him. “I know you do. I tasted it.” I then looked at him with a challenging glare, daring him to deny it.

 

He smiled down at me with an adoring smile and soft eyes, “I do.” He confirmed.

 

I met his gaze, his eyes becoming lighter once again. “I love you too.” I whispered before I tucked myself under his arm and nuzzled closer to him. I never wanted to be anywhere else ever again, I could happily remain in the arms of Edward Cullen for the rest of my existence.

Chapter Text

 

I woke up Monday morning to bright sunlight streaming in my open window, and my cellphone blinking noisily from my desk. I groaned and buried my face in my pillow, breathing in the smallest remnants of Edward’s scent from the clothes still hidden underneath it. I was pathetic. Edward had asked me where the clothes I had borrowed were, and I had fibbed and told them they were in the wash and that the next time I did laundry I would be sure to get them back to him. It wasn’t a total lie, I did fully intend to wash his clothes and give them back. I was just going to get the most out of them first.

 

I tried not to think too much about how creepy I was being. Since the full moon both Edward and my dad had gone to great lengths to make me feel normal. It felt good to have their assurances , but I also wondered if a one-hundred year old vampire and a gods-only-knew how old werewolf could count as an authority on what was normal. Then again, maybe they were more qualified than I was giving them credit for. I had lived a majority of my life with Rene, up until this point only spending summers and the odd weekend with Charlie. I knew she meant well, and she did her best under impossible circumstances, but being constantly told to act more human does a number on a kid. I felt like after masking my more unusual behaviours behind a veil of awkward shyness that I was finally allowed to let loose and just be… me.

 

I rolled back over and smiled at the ceiling. After our date on Saturday I felt more at home in my own body than ever before. Edward had visited me on Sunday, asking if it was okay to just hang around the house with me. I had no objections, in fact I was elated by the idea.

 

W e had spent the day together reading in the living room. I had grabbed my copy of The Count of Monte Cristo and had brought down my Lovecraft Anthology for Edward to read. When I had settled into my place on the sofa, Edward sat on the other end clearly trying to keep a respectful distance between us. That didn’t go down well with me, and I quickly maneuvered myself so that I was snuggled up against him. Edward had stiffened at the contact, before relaxing and allowing me to rest my back against him as I read. I smiled at the memory of his cool breath tickling the back of my neck as I read.

 

T he continued beeping of my phone was starting to annoy me so I threw off my covers and stalked over to it and snatched it off the desk.

 

Good morning, my love. I hope you slept well. Due to the weather I will be unable to join you at school today, however I hope that you have a fantastic day. I will be thinking of you. -E

 

I smiled at my phone and quickly typed back a reply.

 

Hey. I did sleep well. Unfortunately without your company I fear I will find school to be simply unbearable.

 

I chuckled at my own sense of humour and pulled on a pair of jeans and a long sleeved shirt, pulling on my green sweater as well. I pulled my brush through my hair and loosely tied it back with a hair-tie. Satisfied with my appearance I trotted down stairs.

 

As I was sipping at my coffee my phone chimed again and the sound made me grin.

 

I am unable to tell through text whether you are being sarcastic or not. -E

 

I snorted loudly and almost choked on my coffee and I shook my head as I typed my reply.

 

Sarcastic. Very much so. Although I will miss you. What are your plans for the day?

 

I had barely finished my coffee when the reply came through.

 

Hunting with Alice. - E

 

T hat was interesting, I wondered what it was like to hunt with a vampire. I grabbed my book bag and headed towards my truck, I sat in the drivers side as I typed out another message.

 

I s it appropriate to say good luck?

 

I had just pulled into a parking space at school when I heard my phone chime yet again.

 

It is not inappropriate to wish me luck- E

 

I shouldered my book bag and got out of my truck, I leaned against the closed door as I typed my response.

 

Well, good luck then. I’m at school now so I’ll be putting my phone on silent. See you again when the weather gets better… or worse?

 

I hit send before I could over think my message and turned the phone on silent before dropping it in my bag.

 

What has you grinning like a love struck puppy so early on a Monday morning?” Jessica trilled as she approached me from her car a few spots down.

 

Hey Jess,” I greeted happily and once she came over we started walking towards the school building together, “I was just texting with Edward.”

 

Oooh,” Jess wooed teasingly, she shoved my shoulder playfully and I allowed myself to be moved by her gentle push. “You guys are getting serious then?”

 

Yeah,” I nodded enthusiastically, “We went out for dinner on Saturday, it was really nice.”

 

Sounds romantic!” Jessica squealed excitedly, “I want to know everything at lunch!” She demanded as she left me at the door of my English class.

 

J ust as Jessica had promised by the time I had gathered some food for lunch she was waiting for me. Practically vibrating in her seat she started speaking as soon as I sat down.

Where did you guys go? What happened? What did he wear?” Jessica shot off questions like a professional reporter at a busy press conference.

 

Whoa, Jess slow your roll!” I laughed as I opened my lunch and started to eat,

 

A ngela smiled at me and then said, “ Jess may be a little exuberant but can you blame her? You went on a date with Edward Cullen .”

 

E ven Mike and Eric were quietly listening now and I felt my cheeks grow hot under the scrutin y . I ate some more food and took a drink before I answered. “ He took me to a little restaurant in Port Angeles. We ate dinner, and talked, and then we took a walk to the ocean. He was wearing nice grey slacks and a blue button up shirt.” I answered their questions slowly and methodically.

 

J ess groaned in frustration, “That tells me nothing, we need details Swan!” Jess slapped her palm against the table top to emphasise her point.

 

I laughed and shook my head. I hurriedly told my human friends a few more details of the date. How he held my hand as we walked to the ocean, and how he had pulled me close as we sat in the sand. Th ese small and harmless details seemed to appease them and soon conversation drifted away from my date with Edward.

 

B iology without Edward was unsurprisingly boring. I knew almost all of the things that Mr Banner was teaching and I found myself wishing I was out in the woods with Edward. I wondered if that would be something Edward would be okay with? Naturally I couldn’t keep up with him in human form, but once I got my shit under control I knew I would be more than fast enough to keep up with him as a wolf. I liked the idea of running through the woods together, of hunting together. I didn’t know enough about vampires, or enough about Edward, to know if this would be something he would like as well. I made a mental note to ask him next time I saw him.

 

I was actually looking forward to gym class. Gym was usually my most detested class. I had to focus on not playing to fast or being too rough with the contact sports, and it was tiring. Today though, I was excited for it. I was feeling angsty after sitting through all my tedious classes and without Edward to entertain me throughout biology I was just about to jump out of my skin. After I got changed and left the locker room with the rest of the girls, Coach Clapp whistled loudly to get out attention.

 

Today we will be playing dodge-ball!” He announced to the room. This announcement was quickly followed by a barrage of cheers from the boys and a few weak groans of complaint from the girls. Coach Clapp waiting with crossed arms for us to settle down before continuing. “I want a clean game, understood?” His voice boomed and echoed slightly in the otherwise empty gymnasium. “That means no head-shots,” He gave a pointed look to Mike and Tyler who didn’t even shy away under the scrutiny and instead chuckled to each other and shoved each other around playfully. “And when I say you’re out, you’re out. No arguing. My word is law.” The older man’s bushy eyebrows furrowed and he paused as if daring any of the teenagers in front of him to argue. “Okay! Time to pick teams! Mike, you’re captain of the blue team. Jessica, captain of the red.”

 

C oach Clapp handed each of them a mesh sack with coloured vests for their team mates, “Alright, Newton. You start.”

 

Tyler.” Mike said without hesitation and I frowned in confusion. I watched as the other boy cheered and joined Mike with a brutish hug. I would have thought Mike would have picked Eric, since they were best friends. I guess that loyalty didn’t extend to the cut-throat nature of dodge-ball.

 

Bella!” Jessica chirped happily and I hurried over to her and took the red vest she held out. I pulled it over my head and stood dutifully behind her.

 

I leaned in close to her ear and whispered, “Pick Angela next.”

 

I felt the other girl bristle and she turned slightly to whisper back, “Why?”

 

I missed whatever name Mike bellowed out as I quickly whispered my answer, “She’s faster than she looks, she will be hard to hit. She also has a great response time, she’ll catch the others throws.” I had paid attention to my friends during gym class over the past weeks and I could easily see how Jess could discount our other more bookish friend. Angela was tall, with long limbs that she didn’t seem to know how to fully control yet. She had atrocious aim, as I remembered the disastrous game of basketball the previous week. But I also saw how fast she was , how her quick eyes darted and took in everything around her as a game went on.

 

J essica sighed but yelled out, “Angela!”

 

Angela looked up, her eyes widening and cheeks flushing as she came up and took her red vest. I smirked at her and bumped my shoulder with hers in a friendly way when she stood next to me. The rest of the teams were decided quickly and each side took their places while Coach Clapp lined out the balls on the centre line.

 

I placed my fingertips against the wall as did the rest of my team mates. I could see the blue team doing the same across the gym, the crackling energy of teenage excitement filled my senses. I could already feel my heartbeat increase in preparation and the moment Coach Clapp sounded the whistle I was off. I sprinted across the gymnasium being mindful to not go too fast, but allowing myself to put more effort in than I usually would in gym class. I reached the line of dodge-balls before anyone else and I quickly grabbed one before moving backwards quickly. I watched as Angela was the second to reach the line of balls and I smiled.

 

I quickly touched my ball to the back wall and then scanned the opposing team for my target. All the other balls had been claimed and the game was starting to take off. I saw a ball soar through the air heading straight for me and I quickly side stepped it, whoever was behind me wasn’t as quick and there was a groan as the ball hit my team mate. I watched as short girl with red-hair who I didn’t know rubbed at her stomach as she walked off the pitch. I huffed out an angry breath of air and looked for the perpetrator. My eyes zeroed in on a smug looking Tyler and I hoisted my ball in my hand and launched it across the gym.

 

T he red rubber ball rocketed across the pitch and landed with a satisfying thud right into Tyler’s chest. I felt a surge of pleasure when the ball found it’s mark, but it was quickly followed by subtle horror and regret. Tyler’s usually tanned face paled unexpectedly as the wind was knocked clean out of his lungs. Even from my place across the gym I could hear him struggling to pull in more air and his hand went to clutch at his chest. All things considered he took it like a champ, he stayed on his feet as he slowly made his way to the bench. I wasn’t sure who else noticed it, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the way his legs seemed to wobble with each step. I had let myself be drawn into the game too much and had forgotten myself. Forgotten exactly what I was.

 

I was too absorbed in my own regret that I didn’t noticed the red dodge-ball until it was connecting with my face. I heard the nauseating crunch of cartilage breaking before I felt it.

 

And then I felt it.

 

White hot pain erupted in my face and spread through my head. I quickly brought my hand to my nose as blood starting pouring from it like a broken faucet. The hot blood was dripping down my face and I could taste it in my mouth. I heard a loud whistle trill out and Coach Clapp yelled “Newton! What did I say?!”

 

It was an accident, Coach! I swear!” Mike yelled out in a panic.

 

M y vision was blurry and I blinked away the tears forming in my eyes. My nose was most definitely broken, but as I stood there with a crowd slowly forming around me I could already feel it healing. It itched and tingled as the cartilage stitched itself back together, unfortunately it was mending in entirely the wrong position.

 

Bella, are you alright?” Jess asked and I felt her small hand on my shoulder.

 

Yeah, it’s fine. Nothing broken.” I lied as I kept my currently deformed nose hidden behind my hand, “It’s just bleeding a lot. Coach I’m gonna go clean up, okay?” I didn’t wait for a response before turning and heading towards the locker rooms.

 

Do you need any help, Bella!?” Angela called out after me,

 

I waved my free hand dismissively but didn’t turn around as I called back, “No! I’m okay! Avenge me!” I quickly slipped into the locker room.

 

I quickly did a lap of the locker room to make sure it was empty before positioning myself in front of my sink. I scrunched up a handful of paper towels and damped them under the sink before using them to wipe at the slightly dried blood on my face. “For fucks sake.” I muttered as I continued my work, tossing the dirtied paper-towels in the bin as I went . Once most of it had been washed away I looked at my face in the mirror.

 

T he cartilage had healed and left my nose at a grotesque angle with an unsightly bump. I watched in fascination as the bruises on my face shifted colours, going to blue to purple to yellow-green before disappearing entirely. I had never healed this quickly before, and I would usually be delighted by it. If it wasn’t for the fact I was in the middle of gym class surrounded by humans. I groaned and covered my face with both hands. What the hell was I supposed to do now?

 

Do you need a hand?” A gentle voice chimed behind me.

 

I yelped in surprise and spun around to see Edward standing behind me. I puffed out my cheeks and I slapped his chest in frustration. “Don’t do that!” I gritted out, “You scared the crap outta me!”

 

E dward looked at me with a bemused expression, until his eyes narrowed on my still malformed nose. “ What happened?” He asked as his hands came to either said of my face and held me still as he surveyed my damaged face with dark amber eyes.

 

Dodge-ball.” I answered and then pushed his hands away from my face, “What are you even doing here?” I whispered out as my eyes darted to the door leading to the gym.

 

Alice had a vision, I was worried so I came to check on you.” Edward replied softly.

 

A vision? What did she see?” I asked as I turned back to the mirror and poked at my nose in irritation.

 

I looked through the mirror as Edward’s face screwed up in frustration, “She has trouble seeing you. It’s like your… blurry to her. The visions she has of you are all fragmented, just bits and pieces without any context . She saw you getting hurt, and she saw blood.” He paused and came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my torso, burying his head in my neck. “ It scared me. I had to know if you were alright.”

 

Yeah, I’m okay. Well other than the fact that my nose healed all wrong.” I sighed and leaned against him.

 

I can fix that for you.” He said as he slowly pulled away from me. I turned around and gave him a doubtful glance. “I can!” He defended, “I have gone to medical school, you know.” He smirked and seemed to puff out his chest proudly.

 

Really?” I raised a dubious eyebrow at him.

 

Yes, twice actually. Are you going to let me help?” He asked with a quirked eyebrow and his hands on his hips.

 

I sighed, “I don’t think I have much choice.”

 

I stepped towards Edward and he returned his hands to my face, holding me steady. “Alright. On three. One… two.-” and then with a flurry of movement and blurred hands I felt my nose break for the second time today. Edward’s cold fingers remained on my face as he manoeuvred the cartilage in my nose into place.

 

Ow fuck!” I snarled as I pushed Edward off me. More blood fell from my nose and dripped onto my shirt. “What the hell happened to three!?” I demanded around the blood dripping in my mouth. I spun to the sink and washed away the blood as I felt my nose mend together again.

 

I am sorry.” Edward replied, but he sounded far away.

 

I straightened up and wiped my face dry with paper towels, I turned and saw that Edward was on the far side of the locker room. His eyes that were a dark amber-brown when he arrived had now darkened to a pitch black, I couldn’t tell where h is pupil ended and his iris’ began . The shadows under his eyes were darker than I had ever seen them and it looks like his eyes were sunken into his face. For the first time he actually looked like a vampire. I could see that he was holding his breath, and his hands were clenched in tight fists at his side. “ You should go hunt.” I whispered.

 

E dward didn’t reply but just nodded curtly before vanishing in a blur.

 

I sighed sadly and turned back to the mirror just in time to watch the last of my bruises vanish.

Bella! Are you okay in here?!” Jess’s voice echoed through the now empty locker room.

 

Yeah!” I called back, “I’ll be out in a minute!”

 

I heard Jessica laugh as she entered the locker room, “Don’t worry! Class is over, and we destroyed them!” She crowed as she approached me. Jessica baulked when I came into view. “ Jesus , Bella. What did you do in here? Slaughter a pig?” Her eyes fell from my t-shirt to the ground.

 

I frowned and looked at the scene around me. In my hurry to clean up after the second nose breaking of the day I had littered the ground in blood soaked paper towels. Drips and speckles of blood were splattered on my t-shirt, and the sink still held further evidence of the carnage.

 

I shrugged innocently, “I bleed a lot. I’m fine though, really.” I bent down and quickly picked up the crumbled bits of blood soaked paper-towels and stuffed them into the waste bin. I turned on the sink and used my hand to rinse away the blood there and washed my face again for good measure.

 

X xXxX

 

I was working on my homework when Charlie came home. I waited until he had taken off his gun belt and settled down with a beer across from me at the kitchen table before I spoke.

 

So, I broke my nose today.” I quipped happily, a proud smile adorning my face.

 

C harlie’s calm face twisted into an unknown expression and moving faster than I have ever seen him move he was suddenly in front of me. His large calloused hands gripped the side of my face, before his fingers gripped my chin turning my face this way and that. Once he seemed satisfied he let out a relieved sigh and pulled me into a hug.

 

A confused laugh fell from my lips as I hugged him back, “Not exactly the response I was expecting, but thanks?”

 

What happened?” Charlie asked as he stood back up,

 

Dodge-ball happened. Here’s the thing though, it healed really fast. Like super fast. By the time I escaped to the locker room it had already healed all crookedly.” I filled him in as he rummaged through the cupboard above the fridge. Charlie produced a dark brown glass bottle, it didn’t have any labels or markings.

 

C harlie fetched two glasses and sat down next to me, he popped the cork from the bottle and poured a small amount of sour smelling alcohol into each glass. He nudged one closer to me. “Encouraging underage drinking, chief?” I jested as I peered into the glass and studied the dark liquid, it was a strange colour . It looks somewhat like whisky, but had a dark purple hue to it.

 

H e rolled his eyes at me, “As far as I’m concerned you’re more than old enough.” He replied. “ Besides, you’ll burn through it pretty quickly.” he shrugged and he tossed back his drink with ease.

 

I tried to mimic his action, but when the sour liquid hit my throat it burned and I gagged and choked as I swallowed it. Charlie laughed loudly, the booming sound filling up the small kitchen as he poured another drink for both of us.

 

Care to explain what we are doing, Dad?” I asked as my eyes narrowed at the alcohol in my glass. I could feel the warmth of the drink spread in my chest and through my limbs, it made me feel light headed for a moment and I smiled as I swayed with the giddy feeling. Sure enough though, the feeling receded and I was left feeling as sober as a judge.

 

You broke your nose, it healed incorrectly and I am assuming you set it?” Charlie filled me in,

 

Well, Edward set it for me. But other than that, yeah?” I still wasn’t catching on to whatever Charlie was saying.

 

C harlie reached out and his fingertip grazed my cheekbone, “Not even a bruise.” He whispered.


Dad, seriously? Can you just explain to me what you are going on about? Use your words.” I griped at him as I swatted his hand away and crossed my arms across my chest. I breathed harshly through my nose and scowled at him, his cryptic responses were annoying at the best of times but now they were down right infuriating.

 

You’re growing up, Bells. It wouldn’t surprise me if you could control your next transformation.” He smiled at me and I could see the pride glittering in his eyes.

 

I scoffed at him, “I wouldn’t go getting your hopes up,”

 

He shook his head at me, “I’ve been watching you, Bella. You’ve stopped hiding away parts of yourself.” He sighed and lifted his drink to his lips and shot it back in a fluid movement. I scrunched my nose at how easily he did it. “ You’re a werewolf. You should be proud of that, not hide it away like it’s a shameful secret.”

 

I reached for my own glass and grimaced as the liquid burnt its way down my throat, but I liked the warmth it left behind. “ I had to hide, before with Rene.” I sighed and leaned back in my chair as I enjoyed the fleeting feeling of the alcohol in my system before it was chased away by my werewolf metabolism. “ If I had known how… freeing it would be to live here full time,-” I shrugged, “I probably would have moved here ages ago.” I smiled at Charlie apologetically.

 

C harlie chuckled and collected our glasses and put them in the sink. He returned the cork to the glass bottle and placed it back in it’s cupboard above the fridge. “ I also think a certain vampire has something to do with this.” He smirked knowingly at me.

 

I sighed as I returned to a level head and a sober body, but I still couldn’t find it in me to be bothered arguing. “Yeah, Edward’s great. He just… accepts me, even if I behave totally crazy sometimes.” I laughed.

 

I’m so happy for you, my Bella.” He came over and I rose to meet him. He pulled me into a tight hug and I returned the gesture.

 

What was that stuff?” I asked, my nose crinkling in the direction of the cupboard that hid the sour alcohol.

 

Monkshood wine.” He replied with a chuckle.

 

Monkshood? Isn’t that like deadly poisonous?” I swallowed thickly but Charlie just chuckled and shook his head as if I was being absurd.

 

We’re werewolves, Bella. Relax.” He continued to laugh at me as he walked away into the living room.

 

X xXx

 

I was sleeping soundly, curled up under my covers when I was abruptly pulled from unconsciousness. I wasn’t sure what exactly had pulled me from my slumber and I was just about to snuggle back under the covers when I saw a shadow shift in the corner of my room. I sat up right and rubbed my eyes as they adjusted to the dark room. Slowly the dark room became clearer, and the shadow revealed itself to be Edward.

 

E dward was in my room. How in the ever loving fuck did he get in my room?

 

I shot out of bed and paused for a second, listening to the quiet snoring and steady heartbeat that told me that Charlie was still sleeping. I came up to Edward and started hitting his chest lightly, “What. Are. You. Doing. Lurking. In. My. Room!?” I hissed at him as I emphasised each word with another shove against his chest.

 

E dward’s cold fingers circled around my wrists and held them close to his chest to stop the barrage I was inflicting on him. “I needed to see you,” He whispered.

 

My anger melted with his honeyed words and I sighed, “How’d you even get in here?” I muttered.

 

The window.” He murmured back, seemingly amused.

 

Okay.” I nodded as I mulled this over, “While I am happy to see you. You can’t just break into my room whenever you feel like it!” I whispered loudly, and pulled my hands from his grasp. I didn’t want to and it took a lot of effort to stay annoyed at him. “My dad is right next door. You know, the super old very powerful werewolf, who also happens to be the chief of police?” I pointed to the wall that Charlie and I shared.

 

He’ll never know I was here.” Edward assured me, stepping closer to me again and pulling me into a hug.

 

He’ll smell you.” I rolled my eyes but allowed Edward to embrace me.

 

I’ve been visiting you enough that my scent would be in your house anyway. It’s fine, Bella. It’s our little secret.” He was whispering in my ear and his cool breath danced across my skin and make it tingle. Damn him. Damn him to hell.

 

Well, next time you wanna sneak into my room, maybe ask first? Yeah?” I said as I reluctantly pulled away from him.

 

Of course, Bella.” Edward replied diplomatically, “I didn’t mean to invade your privacy-” Edward suddenly stopped mid sentence and moved around me and went closer to the bed. In the soft moon light streaming in the window I could see his perfect lips pull into an amused smirk as he pulled something from between the covers. He held it up to show me, a single eyebrow raised in question. “Are you cuddling with my clothes, Bella?” He held in his hands the t-shirt he had let me borrow.

 

No!” I replied indignantly, moving to snatch away the shirt. Edward pulled it out of my reach, still smirking at me with his bright golden eyes glittering with amusement. “Okay fine. I was! Happy?” I relented and took another swipe at the shirt. Edward allowed me to snatch it away from him this time.

 

Oh Bella, you have no idea.” He murmured and his hand curled around the back of my neck as he bent down to kiss me. I kissed him back hungrily and just as I was about to tangle my fingers in his hair there was a gust of wind and I was alone. I opened my eyes and looked around the room, but it was empty. There was just me, standing in my pyjamas clutching Edward’s t-shirt in my fist.

 

Stupid handsome vampire, being all sneaky and fast and shit.” I grumbled as I went to the window and closed it. I narrowed my eyes as I heard distant laughter coming from the woods outside. I couldn’t help but smile as I returned to bed, pulling the covers over me and bringing the shirt up under my chin.

Chapter Text

 

 

With the return of the cloud cover also came the return of my vampire. Each morning Edward appeared on my door step just after Charlie had left for work. He always seemed to put together and relaxed, but his uncanny timing had me curious. When it happened again on Thursday morning I asked him.

 

“Do you just, like wait for Charlie to leave or something?” I asked as he drove us to school.

 

Edward shifted and gave me a chagrined smile, “Yes. I’m not ashamed to admit that your father does intimidate me a little.”

 

I rolled my eyes, “It’s posturing is what it is.” I grumbled, “He’s really nice, I swear. You just gotta get past the whole grumpy werewolf routine first.”

 

Edward gabbed my hand and squeezed it gently, “I have time, I don’t mind waiting.”

 

 

xXxX

 

Mr Banner came into the class room wheeling a boxy and ancient looking TV behind him. He plugged it in and put in a VHS, an honest to god actual VHS tape and then sat behind his desk and graded papers.

 

I slouched in my seat and frowned, this used to be my favourite subject but it was quickly becoming tedious and boring. Edward was my saving grace. “Mr Banner is still hung over.” Edward whispered to me and I brought my hand to my face to stifle the giggle from being heard by the others around us.

 

“Really?” I whispered back. Our voices were so low, barely even a whisper by human standards. We didn’t lean into each other or barely looked at each other, our only connection was our interlinked hands that were hidden under our table. To anyone looking at us, we would just look like two teens mouthing nonsense words.

 

“Oh yeah,” Edward whispered back and then paused, I looked at him from the corner of my eye. He had that far-away look in his eye that I knew he got when he was concentrating on a single person’s thoughts. “He was late to his first class this morning. He even considered going home, but he needs the paycheck.” That made me frown. While Mr Banner left a lot to be desired, he wasn’t a bad teacher. He seemed to actually enjoy his subject and wanted to share his knowledge with the teens in his care. It wasn’t his fault I found myself to be unchallenged by the course work, I was used to the competitive AP courses back in Arizona. Edward seemed to sense my concern for the teacher and under the table his thumb traced calming circles on the back of my hand.

 

I watched the out-date movie for a moment, wincing at the gaudy outfits from the 80’s. I allowed myself to become distracted, my thoughts going from one topic to another like a bumbling bee fluttering from one flower to the next. “Hey, can vampires get drunk?” I whispered.

 

Edward made a startled noise in his throat, it was halfway between shock and amusement. “No, as far as I am aware, vampires can not get drunk. What makes you ask such an absurd question?”

 

I glanced at him and he was looking at me, he had turned in his seat slightly and it was like he was trying desperately to read my mind. His golden eyes were intense and glowing with unchecked curiosity. He could try all he liked, as long as I had any control over it he was staying well away from the inner workings of my brain. “Well…” I paused and bit my bottom lip as I found my words, “It has come to my attention recently that neither can werewolves. Well not really, not for long.” I shrugged.

 

“Bella, have you been drinking?” There was amusement in his tone, but also concern.

 

Fuck that, I didn’t need another parental figure. One overbearing supernatural entity was enough, thank you very much. “If it makes any difference, Charlie is the one supplying me with the booze.”

 

“Really?” Edward’s whisper was filled with doubt,

 

“Yes, really. After the whole broken nose incident he gave me some Monkshood wine. Apparently it’s a super special secret werewolf recipe.” I shot him a smirk, “The effects of it didn’t last very long.”

 

“Monkshood is deadly,” He whispered back.

 

“That’s what I said!” I whispered a little too loudly and a few other students turned to stare at us. I waited until they turned their attentions back to the TV before saying, “Apparently that doesn’t matter to werewolves.” I shrugged,

 

“That is very interesting,” Edward seemed to be talking more to himself than to me, “Do you mind if I tell Carlisle this? He has been very curious about you and your father.”

 

I bristled at the idea of a strange vampire’s curiosity. I didn’t know what trouble it could bring. I looked at Edward, whatever Carlisle’s intentions were didn’t matter. I trusted Edward. “Sure,” I shrugged noncommittally as if it were no big deal. Unfortunately it was a big deal.

 

Whatever strange comfort I had with Edward didn’t seem to extend to the rest of his family. I hadn’t met them yet, not really, but when I caught their stares from across the lunch room I could feel my hackles rise in anticipation for an attack as vivid memories of the ill-fated trip to the Grand Canyon rose to the surface unprovoked. I would just have to get over it, I needed Edward in my life and he came with a large vampire family. If Edward could put up with Charlie I could deal with his family too.

 

XxXx

 

I was walking towards gym class on Friday when I was accosted by Jessica in the hallway, her eyes twinkling with mischief and her manicured finger to her lips in the universal signal to be silent.

 

“What’s going on?” I whispered at Jess.

 

“We are staging an escape!” She whispered back and grabbed my arm and started to pull me down the halls towards the parking lot.

 

“What?” I hissed back,

 

“Tomorrow is the first day of spring break!” she whispered back at me as if it was painfully obvious, “We are getting a head start on the fun, is all.” Jess paused to slowly open the door that led outside. I peaked over her shoulder to see the rest of our friends crouched and hiding near Mike’s minivan their faces were flushed with the excitement and they seemed almost intoxicated by the sense of rogue-like adventure.

 

It was ridiculous. I had skipped more times than I meant to and you didn’t need all the theatrics. Still, the mood was contagious and I found myself grinning stupidly. Mike looked around cautiously before nodding and waving us across the small expanse of grass between our spot in the door and the car park.

 

“Now!” whispered Jess and I laughed as I followed her at a half crouched sprint across the grass.

 

When we reached the others they greeted us with quietened cheers. I allowed myself to take in the taste and smell of their unadulterated joy and enthusiasm. We quietly loaded ourselves into Mike’s minivan and he shot out of the car park, shooting fevered glances behind us as if he was expecting to be chased.

 

“Where are we going?” I asked, my tone coloured by the grin spreading across my face.

 

“La push baby!” Eric crowed which elicited a round of hoots and hollers from the others.

 

I chuckled, “I haven’t been there since I was a kid,” I said wistfully.

 

“We’ve been doing this every spring break for a couple of years now.” Angela explained, “We go out to La push and have a bonfire. It’s a lot of fun.”

 

We arrived at First Beach and piled out of the car, Mike and Eric took off hollering loudly and the girls shook their heads and collected a couple of bags and blankets. I hurried to help them and together we carted the supplies to the beach.

 

By the time we broke the treeline to the beach we could already see the boys hadn’t wasted any time. They were already messing about, chucking fistfuls of seaweed at each other.

 

“Boys,” Jessica scoffed and rolled her eyes.

 

A playful grin spread across my face as I plucked a pine-cone from the treeline. The boys were a few hundred yards in front of us, their bare feet being gently covered by the incoming tide. I threw the pine-cone up once and caught it, before I threw it with pin-point accuracy. The pine-cone flew through the air, arcing gracefully before landing square on the back of Mike’s head.

 

Mike’s hand came up to the spot the pine-cone had connected with and he spun around to stare at me with wide eyes. “Hey!” he complained.

 

I let the boys continued their seaweed fight as I helped the girls set up the blankets and build the fire using drift wood. Soon we had a small fire crackling away, and while I wouldn’t really call it a ‘bonfire’ it was still nice. I left Jess and Angela to their fire and decided to take a walk down the beach.

 

I had already shucked my shoes and the ice cold surf felt nice as it foamed over my feet. I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and I pulled it out to see a message from Edward.

 

Where are you? Are you okay?- E

 

I grimaced, I had been so caught up in my human friends and our little escapade that I had neglected to tell Edward.

 

I’m fine, me and the others are getting an early start on spring break. We’re at First Beach if you wanna join us?

 

I stared at the phone waiting for a reply. I watched as the time on the phone blinked away the minutes, I was starting to become worried when his response finally came through.

 

Enjoy your time with your friends. I’ll see you tomorrow-E

 

I frowned at the response but decided to not let it bother me. I continued my walk of the beach as the sun slowly set over the ocean. Something in the bubbling surf caught my eye and I bent to pluck it from the pebbly sand. I held in my hand a small piece of sea-glass, bright green and shaped vaguely like a tear drop. I looked at it in my palm, it was strangely beautiful and as the setting sunlight hit it, it refracted the light slightly. It reminded me of Edward, and without thinking I shoved it in my pocket before returning to my friends.

 

T he sun had fully set by the time I returned to the others, and they had settled comfortably on the collection of blankets around the fire. Eric was throwing marshmallows over the fire and Mike was trying to catch them in his mouth.

 

That is a shameful attempt, Newton.” I scoffed and I plopped down on the blanket next to Angela.

 

Shud-up” He mumbled around a mouthful of marshmallow.

 

T he rest of the evening went in much the same way, and it felt amazing to belong to a normal group of humans. They didn’t even seem to notice when I didn’t feel the cold the same way they did as the night grew on, it was like they just didn’t notice anything strange that happened around them. It felt freeing, their seemingly ignorant naivety. All my strangeness w ent unnoticed by them, but I wasn’t going to push it. So when Mike produced a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels I declared myself the designated driver, I didn’t need them noticing how unaffected I was by alcohol.

 

 

X xXx

 

 

I was elbow deep in the oven, pink rubber gloves on my hands and the smell of oven cleaner stinging my nose when I heard the knock at the door. I extricated myself from the oven and went to answer it. I opened it to see Edward standing there, looking perfect as always. He was wearing dark jeans that looks more expensive than any pair of jeans had the right to be and a dark short-sleeved t-shirt with a dark brown Shearling coat.

 

I suddenly felt extremely inadequate.

 

I had dressed with the intent of getting some much needed spring cleaning done. I was wearing an old flannel shirt of Charlie’s, filled with holes and covered in paint splatters. It hung loosely on my frame and because it was so large I had cut the bottom of it off, leaving th e edges to hang in a frayed mess. To accompany this fashion statement I had pulled on an old pair of cut-off jeans. So while Edward stood on my door step looking like a model from a fashion magazine, I was left staring at him in a mess of clothes with bright pink rubber gloves still on my hands.

 

Hello.” He smiled at me, his eyes travelling down my form.

 

I blushed under his scrutiny. “ Come in,” I said and stepped to the side.

 

E dward followed me to the kitchen where I pulled off my glove s and threw them in the sink. “ There is something I want to ask you.” Edward said,

 

Oh!” I gasped, holding up a hand to stop him. “Hold that thought! I have something for you.” I grinned and went to head up stairs, “Wait there!” I called to him as I raced up the stairs. I sped into my room and grabbed my sand dusted jeans from the floor and dug into the pocket to retrieve the piece of sea-glass I had found the day before.

 

I returned to the kitchen to see Edward right were I had left him. “ Alright, close your eyes!” I demanded,

 

Bella,” Edward chuckled my name and shook his head but did as he was told and closed his eyes.

 

Now hold out your hand.” I commanded.

 

E dward smirked at my antics but held out his hand palm up, as instructed. I gingerly placed the teardrop shaped sea-glass in his palm. “Alright, you can look now.”

 

E dward looked down at the bright green sea-glass in his palm, his eyebrows furrowing slightly. He remained still as he looked at it, and I suddenly felt like a total idiot for thinking this was a good idea. “ It’s sea-glass.” I ex plained weakly.

 

Yes, I see that.” Edward responded, still staring at the emerald green object in his palm.

 

I saw it at the beach, and it made me think of you.” I shook my head. “It was stupid. Forget it-” I sighed and went to take the small treasure back.

 

E dward’s hand closed around the sea-glass in a flash of movement and he held his fist to his chest protectively , “Don’t you dare.” He murmured deeply, “ I love it.” Edward stepped forward and pressed a loving kiss to the top of my head.

 

Really?” I asked in a whine, not believing him.

 

E dward chuckled and his cool fingertips traced the creases in my brow as I frowned up at him. “Really.”

 

You’re not just saying that to make me feel better?” I accused.

 

Bella, this is the most precious thing anyone has ever given me.” He replied, holding the sea-glass carefully between two fingers.

 

Well now you’re just being dramatic.” I mumbled but the sarcasm was lot in my giddy smile. I stepped away from him and leaned against the kitchen counter. “You had something to ask me before I distracted you.”

 

Edward looked nervous now. He ran a hand through his hair and he quickly shifted from one foot to the other, his nervous movements too fast (and too minute) for a human to notice . I hadn’t been able to get a clear read on Edward’s emotions since our chat after the full moon, every now and again I would get the tiniest trace but it was never reliable. Despite this I had become a lot more adept at reading his strange vampiric body language. And I wasn’t liking how nervous he seemed.

 

I want to you meet my family.” He eventually said, his eyes quickly shifting from the floor to my eyes.

 

Your family.” I repeated, my head cocking to the side quizzically. This was not what I thought he was going to say. With how nervous he was behaving I was expecting it to be something deadly serious, like Alice had a vision of the start of World War Three or something.

 

Yeah,” He shrugged in an attempt to seem relaxed, but the movement looked strange coming from him and I couldn’t help but smile at the clumsy attempt of appearing more human. “Come to my house today, meet them.”

 

I couldn’t help my frown at that thought. Edward didn’t miss my reaction and his eyes looked concerned, like he was worried I would refuse him. “ What if they don’t like me?” I huffed out. It was a valid fear I had held for a while, but not the one I was concerned about right now. Right now I was wondering how I would cope being in a house full of strange vampires. I didn’t want to bother Edward with that though, this was my issue that I could deal with on my own.

 

E dward let out a relieved sigh before chuckling, “So you’re worried, not because you’ll be in a house full on vampires, but because you’re worried those vampires won’t approve of you?”

 

I toyed with the frayed edges of my shirt, frustrated with how well Edward seemed to know me. I didn’t need him to be worried about that now. I knew that his family were harmless. W ell not harmless , they were vampires after all, but I knew they didn’t have any ill-intent towards me. My irrational fear of them was a result of a single vampire attack as a tween. I shrugged, “They have plenty of reasons not to like me.” I mumbled.

 

E dward’s hands reached for mine and stopped them from fussing with my shirt, “They are going to love you. Alice has been practically chomping at the bit to finally meet you, it’s taken all my powers of persuasion to hold her off for this long.”

 

I nodded, “Alright. You wait here and I’ll go have a shower and get changed.”

 

That’s not necessary, you look fine.” Edward said as I made my way to the stairs.

 

I barked out a laugh, “That’s a bold faced lie. I’m not meeting your family smelling like chemicals and looking like orphan Annie.” I called as I stomped up the stairs.

 

I showered as quickly as I could, scrubbing my skin and washing my hair hoping that I got the chemical stench out. I wrapped myself in a clean towel and scurried to my room to get dressed. I huffed in frustration at my closet, “What are you supposed to wear when meeting your vampire boyfriend’s vampire family?” I muttered to myself in agitation.

 

I don’t think there is a dress code for this situation!” I heard Edward call from downstairs with laughter in his voice.

 

I eventually pulled out a pair of jeans and one of the more feminine tops I ow ned. It was sleeveless and dark blue with a floral motif covering it, it was something Rene had bought me to wear during the hot Arizona summers. I pulled it on and it sat prettily on my body, hanging loosely and airily. My still slightly damp hair was drying in it’s wavy ringlets and I decided to just leave it. I grabbed my bag and after pulling on my converse I headed back to Edward.

 

E dward was waiting for me at the front door and he smiled as I walked down the stairs. “You look lovely, but wont you be cold?” He asked and his hand gingerly caressed my exposed shoulder.

 

I shrugged, “I don’t really get cold.”

Edward looked perplexed at that, and I could almost hear the gears in his brain work as he slotted in this new information with everything else he knew about me.

 

I had more time to work myself into a bundle of nerves as Edward drove us to his house. We had turned off the main road a while back and were now driving down a winding dirt road that seemed to lead deep into the forest. I couldn’t contain the startled gasp as the house came into view.

 

I was hesitant to call it a house, the large two story Victorian era building in front of me looked more like a mansion than anything else. It sat proudly in the forest, a large wrap around porch and bay windows greeting us as Edward parked in front of the house. I was still enthralled by his home as Edward rushed around to open my door, I took his hand as he led me to the front door. “Your house is amazing.” I whispered, afraid that if I spoke any louder it would break the fairy-tale like spell that surrounded the house.

 

What were you expecting? A castle and towers and moats?” He joked as he led me up the steps.

 

Well, not the moats.” I joked back, I tried to feed off Edward’s calm demeanour but it wasn’t doing much to calm my nerves or slow my rapidly beating heart.

 

W e paused in front of the front door and Edward bent down to whisper in my ear, “Take a deep breath and relax, they’re going to love you.”

 

I nodded mutely, trying to let his soft words reassure me. Since exiting the car I could already smell the stench of numerous vampires, some were familiar scents from school but others were completely foreign to me. Edward opened the stained glass door and pulled me over the thresh hold and as I took another deep breath to calm myself I stopped short, my hand pulling free of Edward’s as he continued to walk into the entry way.

 

T he sheer force of the scents hit me like a wrecking ball and I couldn’t make my feet move forward off the welcome mat. My nose twitched at the onslaught of stimulus and I struggled to keep the rest of m y face neutral. The house was swirling with the bold scent of burnt sugar, it was mixed with the sweet smell of decay and infection and something else like the musky scent of burnt matches.

 

Bella?” Edward murmured worryingly, “Are you alright?”

 

I nodded unable to find my voice for a moment. I cleared my throat, “Yeah, it’s just… a lot” I finally managed to say. Edward stepped forward and took my hand in his, his eyebrows furrowing. “ All the scents just hit me at once,” I tried to feebly explain, “It overwhelmed me for a moment, but I’m alright now.” I tried to make my voice sound strong and self assured.

 

E dward didn’t seem completely convinced but nodded, “ This way,” He said and put his arm around my waist as he gently guided me from the entry way to a small sitting room that would have been a parlour, back when people had parlours.

 

In the small room were two vampires I hadn’t seen before. A woman with a heart shaped face and wavy caramel coloured hair sat perched in a plush looking arm chair. A man with curled blonde hair he had groomed back from his face stood next to her, a calm hand resting on the woman’s shoulder.

 

Bella, these are my parents. Carlisle and Esme.” Edward gently introduced us with a tilt of his head to each vampire.

 

Hello, Bella.” Carlisle spoke, his voice smooth and careful. He moved slowly towards us, each move careful and deliberate. He was clearly trying his best not to startle me. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

 

A s he moved towards me his scent washed over me, and I could sense something underneath the usual vampire stink. It was sour like citrus… eucalyptus? I blinked away the intruding thoughts and smiled at him, “ What’s up, Doc?” I quickly fell back on my go-to defence mechanism: inappropriate humour.

 

C arlisle quirked a smile and Esme laughed lightly as she rose from her seat. “ Hello dear,”

 

I could hear a huff and an impatient grumbling noise come from a nearby room , it was words but I couldn’t quite make out what was being said. My head quirked to the side and I looked in the direction it came from.

 

C arlisle chuckled, “It seems the others are growing impatient, they are in the living room.”

 

Carlisle took Esme’s hand as they headed out to the hallway. Edward’s arm around my waist guided me as we walked and I was grateful for it, I was sure that I wouldn’t move if it weren’t for his comforting presence and his familiar scent so close. We walked down the hallway and ended up in a large room, seemingly out of place to the rest of the house. The space had been renovated and multiple walls had been taken out, we were at the back of the house and the wall facing the backyard was almost entirely glass. Modern looking couches littered the space, all framed around a large TV with multiple gaming systems. On those couches sat the familiar vampires from school, looking much more animated than they usually did.

 

E mmett sat with Rosalie on the couch furthest away, Rosalie looked as bored as ever but for the first time she didn’t look down right hostile. Emmett looked about ready to jump out of his seat, he was grinning widely and when my eyes met his he waved jubilantly. I managed a weak wave in return.

 

Jasper and Alice were sitting closer to where I was standing. Jasper gave me a welcoming smile with a tilt of his head and when I met Alice’s golden eyes she smiled wildly and jumped up. “ Oh, Bella it’s so great to meet you!” She chirped happily as she danced over to me, “We’re going to be great friends!” She declared as if it was already decided, maybe it was.

 

B efore I could offer any words of protest she placed her hands on my shoulders and pulled me into a light hug. I hissed in pain as a familiar itching burn erupted on the exposed skin of my shoulder and I stepped away from Alice, pulling myself away from both her and Edward.

 

Ugh,” I groaned out as my hand went to my shoulder and I craned my neck to look at the small blistering burn that was erupting on my pale skin. The area around it was angry and red, and the entire area stung badly. I turned to see seven vampires staring at me curiously. “Silver.” I explained,

 

Oh!” Alice gasped and a small hand went to her mouth and then she looked at the dainty ring on her finger. “I didn’t know! I’m so sorry!”

 

That’s fascinating, so it’s not a myth.” Carlisle murmured, but I felt like it was more to himself and not to me so I didn’t respond to him.

 

Instead I felt it necessary to comfort Alice. “ It’s fine, Alice. Don’t worry about it. It hardly ever comes up so I didn’t think to say anything.” I waved my hand dismissively and tried to smile at her reassuringly.

 

E dward snapped out of whatever daze he had fallen into and came and grabbed my arm with his cool hands, he carefully inspected the burn. “ That looks painful.” He murmured,

 

I shook my head and slapped his hands away, I could already feel it healing and I didn’t want him causing a scene in front of his family. “ It’s fine. I’m already healing.” The burn itched annoyingly and I scratched at it as it healed. Soon all that remained of the incident was a small patch of angry red skin. I scratched at it again and then turned to look at Edward’s family.

 

T hey were still looking at me, watching me, studying me. I shifted awkwardly under the ir gaze. I didn’t know what to say or what to do, and the longer I stood there suspended under their vampiric gaze and surrounded by their scents the more angsty I felt. My fingers twitched at my sides and my eyes flickered to the wall of windows, Edward’s hand enclosed around mine and I looked up at him. His eyes were gentle and loving, but I could see the worry there also. I squeezed his hand and let myself be calmed by his touch.

 

How about we go have that chess match I promised you? You can get to know the family some more later.” I relaxed at Edward’s suggestion.

 

Yeah, that sounds nice.” My eyes flickered to his family and back to Edward, but I didn’t have time to say anything before Edward pulled me from the room and led me up the stairs. I could hear the deep tenor of Emmett’s voice, followed by a stern sounding response from Carlisle but again I couldn’t quiet make out what was being said. “I didn’t upset anyone did I?” I asked worryingly,

 

E dward smiled at me and shook his head, “No, Emmett is just complaining. He wanted the chance to test his strength against a werewolf.” He rolled his eyes at his brother’s behaviour.

 

I frowned at that. Right now probably wasn’t the best time for that, maybe after the next full moon I could indulge the strange vampire. Edward seemed to notice the shift in my mood and he stopped us in the hallway in front of set of large wooden doors. He took both my hands in his, “Bella, are you sure you’re okay?”

 

I sighed, “Yes, Edward I’m fine.” I took a deep breath an d relished in his warm scent, “It’s just like I said before, there’s a lot of stuff coming at me all at once. You’re family- I mean- They- You don’t” I started to stumble over my words again as my thoughts ran faster than my mouth could go and I shut my mouth quickly and closed my eyes as I took another calming breath. Edward watched me as I worked through my thoughts, a hint of gentle amusement glinting in his eyes at my theatrics. “ What I mean is, that you don’t smell like a vampire.” I explained. At that statement I heard a large booming laugh from beneath our feet and I frowned at the hardwood floors underneath us, “And they can hear everything we are saying, can’t they?”

 

Just ignore Emmett, the rest of us do.” Edward jested as he brushed my hair from my face. “So, I don’t smell like a vampire… but the rest of my family does?” He finished my train of thought for me.

 

I nodded, “They do.” I confirmed and then I sighed again, placing my hand on Edward’s face. “And I know they aren’t going to hurt me. The logical side of me knows that, of course. It was just standing there with all of them staring at me like that, it was like I was fighting against every instinct I had not to launch myself out the closest window.”

 

E dward leaned and pressed a quick and gentle kiss against my lips, “I’m so sorry, my love. We can leave if you’d like.”

 

No!” I gasped out louder than I had meant to, “No,” I repeated again, this time much more calmly. “This is a me problem, not a you problem. Its probably just lingering trauma from that Grand Canyon trip.” I shrugged and Edward’s face grew dark at the reminder. “Your family is important to you, and you are important to me. I’ll get over it.” I nodded confidently and it seemed to be enough to convince Edward.

 

E dward dropped my hands and opened the large wooden doors and stepped into the room. It was a large office space, the walls lined with buil t in bookshelves. The place was filled with a single scent more than any of the others, and I quickly realised it was Carlisle’s. It had that same familiar eucalyptus scent to i t hiding in the undertows. I tried to focus on that part of the scent, pushing away the more unseemly notes of death and decay. It seemed to work and I smiled as I watched Edward retrieve an antique looking chess board from a shelf, a velvet bag clattered loudly as the chess pieces rattled inside.

 

E dward sat the board on the large oak desk, and I moved to sit down before I saw the large oil painting on the wall behind him. I paused as I looked at it, a sense of dread filling me slowly. Of course I had expected Edward and his family to know of the Volturi, or even know them personally. What I didn’t expect was to see a large portrait of them hanging in their home. It seemed that Carlisle was much cosier with the Volturi than Edward had told me, as the painting showed him standing next to the T hree K ings. I had never seen the Kings before, but I could name each one as if I had. Charlie had told me stories of the Great Massacre, told me about each of the Three Kings and their different brands of cruelty. He hadn’t told me those stories to scare me, but to ensure I knew how important it was to keep our secret.

 

E dward saw my staring wide eyed at the painting, “Bella?” He asked,

 

“Could we play somewhere else?” I asked, still eyeing the portrait warily as if the vampires would leap off the canvas and devour me.

 

Of course we can. Lets go to my room.” Edward said as he picked the board back up. With a gentle hand on the small of my back he led me out of the study and down the hall, opening another door to a smaller room.

 

T his one was all Edward, both in scent and aesthetic. There was a dark leather day bed, surrounded by books in different states of being read, as well as a mess of journals. One wall supported a built in bookshelf, but held no books, only records and CD’s. The far wall held a large floor to ceiling window that overlooked the forest. I went over to the wall of music and looked over the title s, “I guess I wont be finding any John Denver in here.” I shot a smirk over my shoulder at Edward.

 

Most certainly not.” He retorted as he cleared the day bed of debris and books. He placed the board on the bed and sat cross legged on one end.

 

I joined him, sitting cross legged on the other side of the chess board. Edward opened the velvet bag and started to extract pieces, placing them on the chessboard. I followed his example and started to do the same. “ You didn’t like Carlisle’s painting.” Edward spoke after a moment of silence, it wasn’t a question.

 

I fiddled with the white bishop in my hand, “ What do you know of the… history between your kind and mine?” I asked tentatively.

 

Not much.” Edward admitted, “Carlisle spent some time with the Volturi in his early years, he said that their library held a few books on your kind but nothing concrete. When we met the wolves on the reservation all those years ago, he assumed they were what the books mentioned.” He shot me a wry smile, “He was wrong.”

 

I sighed and placed the game piece in it’s place, “That makes sense I guess.”

 

As I placed the bishop in front of Edward his hand stilled mine, “You can talk to me, Bella. Nothing you tell me will make me love you any less.”

 

I bit my bottom lip as I thought it through, this was a painful topic at the best of times, and it didn’t make it any easier to know that his entire family was downstairs listening in. Eventually I caved, I was going to have to tell him about his eventually. “ There’s so few of my kind left.” I paused and looked at Edward, his eyes were wide with curiosity but were burning with his intense love for me also. “ As I’ve told you, my dad is old. Like really old, I’m not even sure how old.” I shook my head and continued, “When he was almost 20, something changed. No one is really sure what happened, some say that a werewolf nearly killed one of the Three Kings, another said that it was merely an insult to his honour. Whatever it was, it led the Volturi to stage an attack against all the prominent werewolf packs in Europe.” I paused again and Edward squeezed my hand in a silent plea to continue my story. “My D ad calls it the Great Massacre. He told me how late at night, an army of vampires stormed his family’ s estate. They killed everyone inside, even the children who couldn’t control the change yet. My Dad managed to escape with some of his siblings and cousins, and they spent the next few decades being hunted throughout the wilds of the continent.” I pulled a hand through my hair, tugging at it anxiously. “ He was the only one of his pack to survive.” I finished in a near whisper, staring at the carved chess pieces in front of me.

 

I forced my eyes to look at Edward and his face was twisted in pain. His eyes were burning with fury and I could see his clenched fists in his lap. “ I am so sorry.” He whispered out, his smooth voice breaking.

 

I smiled sadly and I reached across and ran my hand down his face, “ Their sins are not yours, Edward.” I dropped my hand from his face and grabbed his clenched fist, forcing him to uncurl his fingers so I could hold his hand. “ When I saw their portrait, it shocked me, is all.” I shrugged.

 

I understand now.” Edward whispered. He dropped my hand and took my face in both of his. “I understand why you were so hesitant to tell me. After all that, how could you ever trust me?”

 

I sighed and my shoulders slumped, I removed my face from his hands and stood up. “ Now you stop that.” I demanded in a deadpanned voice, and Edward’s face went from pained to confused. “ All this happened centuries ago, long before either of us were even born. Yes, I was hesitant to tell you at first, but all that went away once I got to know you. Edward-” I sighed and looked at him sitting there on his day bed, “ I love you, it’s that simple. I didn’t tell you about all that stuff to make you feel bad I did it so you would understand what’s at stake for me- and for my Dad- if you or your family ever tell anyone about us.”

 

I love you too, Bella.” Edward said as he stood up and came over to me, “I would never betray your trust, I would rather die first.” He vowed.

 

No need to be so melodramatic.” I rolled my eyes, “Come on, Cullen, you promised me a game of chess.” I smirked at him as I settled back down on the day bed.

 

Alright,” Edward smiled playfully at me, “White or Black?” He asked.

 

In response I took the king of each colour and hid them in a hand behind my back. Edward raised an eyebrow in question. “Pick a hand.”

 

Edward chuckled, “Your left.” He said.

 

I pulled out my left hand to reveal the white king. Edward took it from my hand and placed it back on the board before turning it around so we were sitting at the correct sides. I placed my king on the board and looked at Edward, “White goes first.” I declared with a wave of my hand.

 

We played the game slowly and methodically. To be honest, I was watching Edward more than I was paying attention to the game. He continued to fascinate me. The way he teased his bottom lip with his fingers as he thought out his next move, the way his eyes darted across the board as if seeing moves being made that hadn’t happened yet. He was completely and utterly captivating.

 

Check-mate.” Edward declared, pulling me out of my stupor.

 

Huh?” I mumbled, looking from Edward to the board. Sure enough my king was trapped. I huffed in annoyance, the game was over much too quickly. I hadn’t really been trying, I was just enjoying sitting here in the silence watching Edward. It seems that he didn’t have the same issue. “Best two outta three?” I wagered.

 

E dward chuckled as he reset the board, “If you think that will make a difference.”

 

I baulked at his arrogance. If he wanted war, that’s what he would get. Since I had lost the first game, Edward set up the board so I would play white this time, giving me a slight advantage. One he would soon come to regret. I kept my eyes focused solely on the board, worried that if I risked a glance at Edward that I would become lost in my own thoughts again. I quickly gained control of the centre of the board and I could see Edward struggling. I carefully laid out my trap turn by turn, sacrificing a few pieces to do so.

 

E dward let out a puff of air, and studied the board for a moment. I smirked, “Ready to concede?” I chirped happily.

 

You haven’t won yet,” He replied in a teasing tone, but his eyes were hard and focused on the board. I had won, he just didn’t see it yet. He made his move and I quickly countered it with my own.

 

Check.” I didn’t try to stop the smug smile from forming. Edward quickly dealt with the impending threat to his king, but I was ready. “Check mate.” My eyes glittered with amusement as Edward stared at the board.

 

Did you let me win the first game?” He accused, still studying the board.

 

No,” I denied innocently, “I just wasn’t trying all that hard, I thought we were having a friendly game of chess, it’s you who went all scorched earth first.” I quickly started resetting the board, “Come on, we still have to play the decider. You may still save your dignity yet.”

 

E dward played white in the third game, and I didn’t pull any stops as I completely destroyed him a second time. “ Well damn,” Edward breathed as he knocked over his king.

 

I laughed loudly, “I don’t think I have ever heard you swear before, not that ‘damn’ is much of a swear, but still.” I giggled.

 

You continue to amaze me, Bella.” He smiled across at me, “No one has been able to beat me in chess for almost 100 years.”

 

Yeah well the mind-reading thing probably counts as cheating.” I shrugged,

 

F rom the ground floor I heard Emmett’s booming voice yell, “That’s what I said!”

 

I laughed again and Edward chuckled and shook his head. “ You’re a lot smarter than you let anyone see,” He remarked smoothly as he packed away the chess set.

 

I shrugged, “It’s a werewolf thing. Our brains are better adapted to spotting and recognising patterns and then making predictions, we can also process information a lot quicker than humans.”

 

You always hide away little pieces of yourself, Bella.” He murmured as he stood up and pulled me up with him. He pulled me into a hug and I sighed happily as I pressed myself against his chest. “You never have to hide with me.” His hands caressed my hair and I just about melted as a happy whining growl echoed in my chest.

 

Did she just growl!?” I heard Emmett’s loud hooting laughter come from the living room beneath us and I felt the heat of my blush rush to my face. I felt Edward’s hands still on my back as he awaited my reaction. I was sure he thought I was going to ask to leave, or just run out on my own accord. But over the last hour I had managed to relax as we played our games of chess, and the lingering scents of his family no longer made me want to leap out a window.

 

He want’s to hear a growl, does he?” I muttered as I removed myself from Edward’s arms. I craned my neck to either side and it popped, I then rolled my shoulders as I loosened my muscles from their stiffness from sitting still so long. I pulled on the bravery and comfort I felt at Edward’s words.

 

You never have to hide with me.

 

They echoed in my mind as I allowed myself to feel the primal animalistic impulses I usually kept hidden away inside. I drew in a deep breath, Edward’s scent filling my lungs. I could feel a growl rumbling in my chest and I smiled as I fed it, letting it grow. It echoed and rumbled, and then a terrifyingly animal sound erupted out my throat. A growl that boarded on a feral roar filled the room and rattled my rib cage.

 

D eafening silence filled the void once I stopped my primal display. I glanced worryingly at Edward, scared I had gone too far, crossed some invisible line, but Edward was looking at me with awe. His mouth was open slightly and he was simply staring at me as if I would vanish the moment he took his eyes away.

 

T he silence was filled by a cacophony of applause by the vampires in the living room beneath us. I blushed furiously as my hand came to cover my mouth in embarrassment. Edward grinned proudly and pulled me into a hug, I could feel him shake with laughter as he pressed a kiss to the top of my head.

 

I didn’t know you could make such a ferocious sound, Bella.” Edward chuckled,

 

T here was a knock on Edward’s door and I turned to see Alice and Jasper enter the room.

 

It sounded like you were eating Edward for lunch, we thought we had better come save him.” Alice chimed.

 

“My heroes,” Edward replied sardonically,

 

“If you’re hungry, Esme is making you something to eat downstairs. I’d bet it’s a lot tastier than Edward.” Jasper drawled playfully. It was the first time I had heard the scarred vampire speak, and I could hear the slightest hint of a southern accent there.

 

I hadn’t noticed it until Jasper brought it up, but I was feeling hungry. “Some lunch sounds great.” I replied.

 

Edward led my with a gentle hand on the small of my back as we walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. Like the rest of the interior it too had been renovated, and seemed so strangely modern compared to the classic exterior of the house. White marble counter tops lined the walls, and there was a large island bench with bar stools around it. Esme was working away, chopping up some chicken at vampire speed. She had her caramel hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun, and an apron tied around her torso. When Edward and I entered the kitchen she looked up from her work and gave me a wide toothy smile. Even though the expression was completely innocent, the sight of her sharp teeth and the memory of what the are capable of had me quickly scanning the room for exits.

 

Edward sat down on one of the bar-stools, and patted one next to him with a kind smile. I perched myself next to him and as I watched Esme work I couldn’t stop the slightly unhinged giggle from escaping my lips. Esme paused her work and looked at me with an inquisitive smile, “Is something funny, dear?”

 

“No,” The denial caught in my throat by another giggle and I brought my hand to my mouth to stop the sound. “It’s just, who knew vampires could cook?” I gestured to Esme’s apron, “You look down-right domestic. It goes against everything I thought I knew about vampires,”

 

Esme let out a peel of laughter, it sounded like wind-chimes. “Yes, I suppose it is odd.”

 

I heard someone approach me from behind and I quickly twisted in my seat to see who it was. Carlisle was entering the kitchen, a serene smile on his face. “I must thank you, Bella. You’ve given us an excuse to use the kitchen for the first time.” He moved around the island bench to Esme and pressed a kiss to her temple as she fixed up my lunch.

 

E sme placed the meal and a glass of water in front of me, it was a large chicken Caesar salad. I looked from the meal to Esme, “This looks great, thank you.” Esme beamed under my compliment and handed me a fork. If I thought it strange to each under the watchful eye of one vampire, it was infinitely stranger to eat under the gaze of three. After a few mouthful of food I looked at Esme, “It’s really good.” I mumbled around a mouthful of lettuce and chicken.

 

I was happily munching away on my food, beginning to relax slightly in this strange vampire den. I was completely focused on my food, my mind drifting along aimlessly. I hadn’t noticed anyone else join me in the kitchen until Jasper spoke up.

 

Bella,” He said my name and the sudden interruption made me jump.

 

Jesus Christ!” I sputtered. I looked up and saw Jasper standing at the end of the island bench, the chess board from earlier in his hands. “So the whole sneaking up and scaring the crap out of me is a family trait huh?” I grumbled as I took a sip of my water.

 

I didn’t mean to startle you.” The twinkle in his eye made me doubt that, “I was hopin’ you’d have a game of chess with me?”

 

I couldn’t contain the grin that broke out on my face, “Alright!” I chirped and I quickly scoffed down the rest of the salad, “ I can’t believe my luck! After not being able to convince anyone to play chess with me for years, I then happened to run into a group of chess loving vampires.”

 

J asper laughed a throaty chuckle as he set up the board, sitting on the bar stool furthest from me. I appreciated the distance he put between us. Even though he was a lot smaller than Emmett he was still the most intimidating Cullen by far. Sitting close to him now, with his sleeves pulled up to his elbows I could see the numerous bite marks and scratches that scarred his arms.

 

I had to fight Emmett for the privileged of playing you first,” he smiled at me.

 

Got a second board? I could play you both at the same time.” I sputtered out before I could think it through. I had done that against the human opponents at the small chess club in Phoenix before they all got sick of never winning and refused to play me at all. I had no idea if I could manage it against two vampires though.

 

J asper quirked an eyebrow, “Really?” He drawled.

 

In for a penny in for a pound. I shrugged, “I can beat two humans at the same time, how difficult could two vampires be?”

 

I heard Emmett’s loud laughter and hurried footsteps as he ran to collect a second chess board.

 

“You’re playing with fire,” Edward murmured in my ear and I couldn’t help but laugh. I was totally surrounded my unfamiliar vampires. Those vampires behaved strangely, unlike any vampire I had seen or heard about. The entire situation was completely absurd, and I couldn’t find it in myself to be worried by Edward’s comment.

 

E mmett walked into the room with another chess board in hand. He placed it on the island bench and stood opposite me as he set it up. “ I think Bella should play white on both games. It’s only fair to give her the advantage.” Emmett winked at me. Yes, these vampires were very strange indeed.

 

I t seemed that my arrogance had caught the interest of the rest of the Cullen clan. The kitchen seemed strangely crowded as I started my games with Emmett and Jasper. Even though all eyes seemed to be trained on me, I didn’t feel trapped like I had before. Maybe it was Edward, who was rubbing small circles on my back. Or maybe it was because I was completely absorbed in my games, but I was actually beginning to feel relaxed in the company of half a dozen vampires.

 

J asper and Emmett were both skilled chess players, and their play styled were polar opposites. For the first time since moving to Forks I felt like I was actually being challenged intellectually, and I loved it. Emmett was the first to fall, “Check,” I declared before turning my attention back to the game with Jasper. I ignored Emmett’s grumble as he looked over his options, tuning that game out as I refocused my attention back to the other one. Jasper had been carefully orchestrating a very intricate plan, a trap he was hoping I would become tangled in. I made my move and returned to Emmett’s game. Emmett had managed to keep his king out of trouble, but it was a useless endeavour. I moved my bishop to take his rook, “Check.” I declared again.

 

Oh come on!” grumbled Emmett, making our onlookers chuckle.

 

My head tilted to the side as I surveyed the board in front of Jasper. In his very careful deliberations, he had failed to see the trap I had been laying out for him. All I needed now was for him to take the bait. After taking a minute to consider my options I made my move, and returned to face Emmett.

 

E mmett’s fingers tapped on the marble, and his pale face was creased in a frown of concentration as he waited for me to make my move. I quickly moved my knight into position, “Check mate.”

 

I turned back to Jasper, and when I took in the new state of the board a mischievous smirk curled on my lips. He had taken the bait. I made my move, “And that’s check mate for you too.” I let out a contented sigh and smiled proudly. Jasper was staring at the board as if he was trying to figure out what just happened.


“Huh,” he eventually said, and then looked at me with a mixture of surprise and admiration.

 

For the first time in a long time my mind felt silent, no longer an endless stream of thoughts and ideas. Edward stood up and he draped his arm over my shoulder, I looked up at him and he seemed to be almost bursting with pride, I wondered why. All I had done was play chess. “ Ready to head home?” Edward asked softly,

 

I nodded, “Yeah, thanks for lunch Esme.” I smiled at her and she smiled happily back. “ And thank you both for the two most stimulating chess games I have had in a long time,”

 

You’re welcome.” Jasper drawled,

 

“I want a rematch,” Emmett mumbled, but he was grinning childishly so I figured there was no hard feelings.

 

As Edward drove me home I relaxed against the plush leather seat and sighed happily.

 

“Are you alright, my love?” Edward asked, grasping my hand in his across the centre console.

 

“Better then alright.” I tired smile played at my lips, “I forgot how much I enjoyed playing chess,” I shrugged, “The chess club at my old school got tired of me pretty quick, and Rene never wanted to play. Today was the first time in ages that I actually felt challenged.”

 

Edward chuckled, “You’ve unleashed a monster, playing chess with those two. You’ll never get away from it now.”

 

I shrugged, “I don’t mind.” I paused for a moment as I considered the rain falling outside as we raced at an insane speed down the road, “Do they play Weichi?” I wondered out loud.

 

Edward looked at me in confusion, “I am not familiar with that game.”

 

I looked at him surprised, “It’s sometimes called Go in America? Its an abstract strategy game from China.” I explained,

 

He shook his head, “I believe I had heard of it, but I don’t think anyone in my family know how to play. Why do you ask?”

 

“Charlie taught me how to play as a kid, and he’s the only other person I know who knows how to play. I just figured it could be nice to have some variety in opponents.” I shrugged,

 

“I am sure that Jasper and Emmett would be open to learning, as would I.” He brought my hand to his lips and kissed it lovingly. “My family adores you, Bella. Just as I said they would.”

 

I just smiled in response. I wasn’t sure how much of that was the truth, but I wanted it to be. Charlie was the only real family I had, the only supernatural family I had. The prospect of being welcomed into a large preternatural family was damn near irresistible.

 

It almost didn’t matter that they were vampires.

Chapter Text

 

 

When Charlie came home from work I had already plated up our dinners. He sat across from me and poured us each a glass of Monkshood wine as he listened to me ramble about my day. He didn’t seem surprised or shocked when I mentioned I had spent a majority of the day at the Cullen house, he just seemed happy at my happiness.

 

I told him about how the ambush of vampiric scents had sent me into sensory overload and he nodded knowingly.

 

“You handled yourself well. I would have expected you to bolt.”

 

I frowned at him, “I thought you said my control was improving.”

 

“It is, Bells. In spite of all the stories I’ve told you, vampires and werewolves are not natural enemies, but the stench of them still sets off the warning sirens in our instincts.” Charlie paused to sip at the Monkshood wine and I mimicked the movement, doing a much better job at hiding my wince than I had the first time. “There’s not a lot out there that poses a real threat to a werewolf, but vampires are one of those threats.” He shrugged, “It’s just a survival instinct, like a wolf running away from the scent of a mountain lion.”

 

I nodded, “Yeah, the longer I was there the more comfortable I felt though.” I sighed, “I just wish it wasn’t so obvious. They all know that I’m low-key afraid of them now.”

 

Charlie laughed, his eyes creasing and his teeth showing behind his growing facial hair. “Trust me Bells, if it was one of those vamps walking into a den filled with werewolves, they would be just as scared.”

 

I giggled at the thought and finished off my small serving of wine, “Now that you mention it. Edward did say he was intimidated by you.”

 

A sinister smile spread across Charlie’s face, but his eyes danced with humour although they were slightly glazed from the wine. “Good,” He almost purred, “You are my life, Isabella. Your vampire must know that if he were to ever harm you, I would end his existence in a heart beat.”

 

Dad!” I whined as my cheeks flamed in embarrassment, “He’s not my vampire.”

 

Okay, if you say so.” He replied teasingly. “Tell me about the rest of your day.”

 

S o I did. I told him in great detail about how amazing their house was, how it stood tall and proud in the middle of the woods . I ranted about Edward’s impressive music collection, but moaned about his distinct lack of country music. I told him about how I completely destroyed Edward in chess, once I actually started paying attention.

 

I decided it be best to leave out the chat I had with Edward, and the large painting of the Three Kings in Carlisle’s offic e. I was enjoying the evening, our plates had long since been emptied of food but we stayed at the table, and I knew if I mentioned the Volturi that the moo d would shift dramatically.

 

It felt like something in our relationship was quietly shifting, Charlie had never been so open with me. He sat there sipping his wine, making jokes and asking questions as I talked about my day . I mentioned seeing Esme in an apron. He didn’t believe me at first,

A vampire in an apron?” Charlie chortled,

 

I swear! She made me lunch, she’s a really good cook actually.” I sniffed,

 

C harlie shook his head in amusement, “I met some strange vampires in my youth, but they all took themselves so seriously.”

 

I don’t think the Cullen’s have that issue,” I laughed, “Maybe Rosalie, she always looks so serious.” I shrugged, “But I haven’t gotten the chance to speak with her yet so who knows.”

 

I continued to tell Charlie about how I played two games of chess at once against Jasper and Emmett, and how I had beaten them both with only a small amount of difficulty.

 

I’m gonna teach them how to play Weichi. Do you still have a board?” I asked as I finished the last sip of my wine.

 

Of course, it’s in the basement. I’ll fish it out for you in the morning.” Charlie smiled, I was grateful for the offer. Charlie’s basement was a mess. I total maze of boxes and antiques that were likely older than the building they resided in. I had no desire to go down there and become lost in the seemingly endless chaos.

 

W e continued our chat late into the evening, moving from my day at the Cullen’s to more broad topics. Eventually we fell into a discussion about my growing abilities. I could see the pride glistening in Charlie’s eyes as we talked, and I couldn’t help the small swell of pride that rose in my chest. I was complaining that I still hadn’t been able to shift out-of-phase, and Charlie confirmed that I wouldn’t be able to fully come into my abilities as a werewolf until I mastered this feat.

 

Ya know, Bells.” Charlie said from his place on his arm chair. We had moved from the kitchen and were now lazing in the living room, “If you’re that bothered by not being able to shift out-of-phase, there is a way to force it.”

 

I stared at him incredulously, “You’re telling me this now?”

 

“Well usually a young werewolf would have the help of their pack. Their pack-mates would spar with them, forcing them into a situation that they would have to shift in order to defend themselves.” Charlie sighed sadly, “You don’t have a pack, all you’ve got is me.” He shot me an apologetic smile. “But it might just work with your vampires,” He shrugged at me. “It’s worth a shot.”

 

“Oh my god.” I whined, “I’ve already told you, they are not my vampires!” I threw a couch cushion at him and he caught it with a rambunctious laugh.

 

X xXx

 

I woke up the next morning having slept better than I ever had before. It was a deep and dreamless slumber, and it left me feeling strong and revitalised. As the wind blew through my window, my nose twitched at the stench of a vampire. I shot to my feet before I realised I recognised that stench, it belonged to the pixie like vampire who had hugged me yesterday. I took another tentative sniff, under the stench of decay there was something else, something much more appealing. It was soft and sweet, like strawberry lemonade and fresh cut grass.

 

I moved towards my window to see that the scent was coming from a small plastic wrapped parcel that was balanced on my window-sill. I small note was attached to it in swirly script,

 

You’ll be needing this.- Alice

 

Just when I thought I was beginning to get my head around Edward and his strange vampire behaviour, he re comes his sister, out-doing his strangeness by a mile. I used my fingernail to tear open the parcel and pulled out a shirt. I shook it out and looked at it quizzically. It was a baseball jersey, clearly brand-new and very well made. It was white and blue and had Swan stitche d boldly on the back. I had no idea why I would need this, I didn’t even like baseball, let alone play it.

 

W ith a shake of my head I threw it onto the rocking chair in the corner of my bedroom.

 

I thudded down the stairs and into the kitchen to grab some coffee. Charlie had been kind enough to leave me just enough for a single cup before he left for work. As I sipped my coffee I noticed the Weichi board sitting proudly in the middle of the table. Large, square and sitting on little wooden feet it took up a good portion of the small table. The little containers that held the stones sat on top. I smiled and went over to it, running a finger over the weathered wood.

 

N ext to it sat a small wooden crate, in it sat two wine bottles that were covered in a fine layer of dust. They were nestled in a collection of dry hay that looked like it was about to disintegrate at the slightest touch. There was a note folded and resting on the table next to the crate and I picked it up. Charlie’s bold and careful calligraphy welcomed me.

 

Bella, I didn’t want to wake you. When searching for the Weichi board I discovered this crate of Blood Wine. Before the Great Massacre, Blood Wine was our main export to the vampire covens who resided in our territories. The method of it’s creation is a closely guarded Lycan secret and I created this batch during the revolutionary war to buy the support of a vampire to our cause. Since I have no use for such an item I thought you would like to gift it to your vampires. Have a good day, -Dad.

 

 

I smiled at the note before looking at the wine curiously. I was oddly tempted to open a bottle and give it a sniff, I probably would have too if Edward hadn’t knocked on my door. I left the note on the table and rushed to open it,

 

“You’re here early!” I chirped with a smile, “Just couldn’t stay away huh?”

 

“Bella, it’s almost mid-day. Did you only just get out of bed?” Edward smirked at me as he looked over my pyjamas. The scent from Edward’s t-shirt was more or less non-existent, so I had started wearing it as a sleep shirt. That coupled with a pair of old fleece pyjama bottoms and my hair a bird’s nest of tangles, there was no way I could deny that I had in fact just gotten out of bed.

 

I shrugged and walked towards the kitchen, “Nothing wrong with sleeping in every now and again.”

 

I could hear Edward following me, “I’m never getting that shirt back, am I?”

 

“Not if I can help it,” I joked. I walked over to the table in the kitchen, “Charlie found this in the basement, he thought you and your family would get more use of it than we would.” I handed over Charlie’s note as further explanation.

 

I closely studied Edward’s face as he read the note, he took his time with it and I was sure he had read it more than a dozen times before he slowly handed it back to me. He looked warily at the two dark wine bottles as if they were dangerous explosives set to go off. “What is in it?” He asked.

 

I scoffed and tilted my head as I shrugged exasperatingly, “You think I know? I didn’t even know this stuff existed until I woke up to find it on my kitchen table!” I gestured to the bottles.

 

“My family do not consume the blood of humans, you know this.” Edward talked evenly and without emotion, his eyes moved between me and the wine and the note in my hands.

 

“Yes.” I nodded slowly. I didn’t like how still Edward was standing. I usually could get a read on him from his minuscule shows of body language, or his clumsy attempts at more human movements, but now he was as still as a marble statue and it frightened me. “So does my Dad.” I stepped closer to Edward and placed a hand on his upper arm. I felt his bicep stiffen and tighten under my touch. “Edward, what the hell is up with you?”

 

“I do not think it is a good idea for me to be around those bottles.” His eyes met mine, they were clear and gold but as I stared into them I could see them slowly grow darker. “A feeding vampire is not safe to be around.”

 

“I don’t think Charlie would have given me something that could be dangerous.” I dropped the note and it fluttered to the ground, I put my other hand on Edward’s other arm, pinning him in place.

Edward attempted to take a step back and free himself from my grasp but I tightened my grip. “Bella,” Edward’s voice was low and deadly, a tone I had never heard him use before. “I have never heard of anything like this, not in my time as a vampire or in the minds of any vampire I have ever met.” He was looking over my head, eyes transfixed on the troublesome bottles.

 

I frowned at him, my frustrations building. He was still standing eerily still, every muscle in his body seemed to be tensed and ready to run. Or to pounce. I tightened my grip further and I felt his icy skin give slightly under my determined grasp. I shook him twice, violently. He rocked on his heels before eventually seeming to relax slightly. I didn’t move my hands as I spoke, “That makes sense, Edward. My dad said that the recipe to making it is a werewolf trade secret. It stands to reason that the knowledge of it was lost in the centuries following the Great Massacre.”

 

Edward brought his eyes down to me and nodded as he listened to my words. “Maybe we should take it to Carlisle.” he murmured, his eyes lightening again.

 

“That’s probably a good idea,” I nodded, I was just glad he was calming down. I forced my face into a relaxed smile, “Are we still gonna hang out at your place? I’m looking forward to teaching your brothers how to play Weichi.”

 

Edward seemed to return to his slightly less vampiric self as he ran a hand through his messy hair and let out a breathy chuckle, “Emmett and Jasper have been researching the rules all night, they’re very excited to play.” Edward walked over and looked at the Weichi board.

 

“So they taught themselves how to play, from the internet, in one night?” I frowned as I picked up the note from the ground and placed it on the table.

 

“We’re vampires, love. I’m surprised it took them all night to figure it out.” Edward smirked at me.

 

I rolled my eyes at him, “Wait here, I’ll go get dressed.”

 

I took the steps two at a time, and rushed to my room. I quickly threw on a pair of faded jeans and a t-shirt. I yanked a brush through my tangled hair and the waves and curls straightened themselves out. Nodded quickly to my reflection I pulled on a pair of converse and hurried back down to Edward.

 

Edward was right were I left him in the kitchen and when he saw me he picked up the Weichi board, giving me a dazzling smile. “Lets go,”

 

I rushed over and shoved my dad’s note in my pocket before I very carefully picked up the crate of wine.

 

I followed Edward outside and to his car, he popped the trunk and nestled the Weichi board safely in there, I went to place the crate of wine in there too but Edward stopped me with his hand. “It might be best to keep those safely in your lap. I would hate for the bottles to break in the trunk.”

 

I nodded and dutifully walked to the passenger side door, Edward was there in a flash and opened it for me. I slipped in and placed the precarious cargo on my lap.

 

“You really think this will send you and your family into a blood crazed feeding frenzy?” I mused as I looked at the seemingly innocent bottles. I couldn’t imagine Edward or any of his family losing themselves to insatiable blood lust. I couldn’t help but compare each of them to the red-eyed nomad that had attacked me all those years ago, and even though they were the same species I couldn’t find a single thing they had in common. Well, other than his family’s lingering scent of death and decay, but I was slowly getting over that.

 

Edward frowned at me, he obviously didn’t like my word choice. “I’m not sure,” he eventually admitted.

 

Edward parked in front of his house and I opened my door to get out, Edward was of course already waiting there to help me out. I smiled at him, “Would you bring in the Weichi board?”

 

“Of course, love.” He smiled back, as he walked towards the back of the car I heard him say. “Carlisle, could you come down to the living room. Bella has something to show you.” He spoke as if Carlisle were standing right next to us, and it made me think about just how sensitive vampire hearing must be. I knew once I was a fully-fledged werewolf that my abilities and senses would rival that of any vampire, but as I was now I felt wholly incompetent.

 

I held the crate of Blood Wine and Edward cradled the old Weichi board and together we walked up the porch steps and into the Cullen house. I had readied myself for the familiar onslaught of vampiric scents, but it didn’t effect me as much as it had the previous day. Clearly the hours I had spent in their house had acclimatised me somewhat to their scents. I couldn’t help but feel a small swell of proud smugness at my progress.

 

I walked beside Edward as we made our way to the living room. Carlisle was already there, waiting for us as requested. Jasper and Emmett also sat in the living room together, the only other vampire present was Alice who was tucked under Jasper’s arm. Edward walked into the room and placed the Weichi board on the large coffee table. I followed suit and placed my crate on the coffee table, the glass bottles clinked together as I set them down.

 

“What is that, Bella?” Carlisle asked as he stood up from his seat and came to peer into the wooden crate.

 

I figured it would be easier to just show Carlisle the note my Dad had left for me this morning. I stuck my hand into the pocket in my jeans and pulled out the now crumpled note before handing it to Carlisle.

 

Carlisle read the note just as slowly and carefully as Edward had, his eyebrow’s furrowing with each read through. A small smile tugged at his lips before his eyes rose to meet mine, “Your vampires, hmm?” he asked teasingly,

 

A furious blush rose to my cheeks and I moved to swipe the note from Carlisle’s hands but Emmett was faster, I huffed my annoyance. “My Dad is just teasing me, ignore him.” I grumbled.

 

“Blood Wine?” Emmett asked, confusion clear in his voice. “Carlisle is this for real?” He looked at the bottles of wine warily, much like Edward had done at my house. s

 

Carlisle brought a hand to his face and he stroked his chin in thought, “I’ve never heard of anything like this. It’s certainly interesting, but I would like to know more about it’s contents before I let any of my family drink it.” His light golden eyes met mine, they seemed to be swirling with unasked questions.

 

I shrugged helplessly, “Can’t help ya there, Doc. I’ve got no clue. You could talk to my Dad?” I offered.

 

Carlisle nodded thoughtfully, “I may just do that, thank you Bella. This is a very thoughtful gift. I’ll take it to my study and give your father a call.” Carlisle moved to pick up the crate and walked briskly out the room.

 

I sunk down on an empty sofa, and Edward joined me. “Whose ready to play some Weichi?” I asked lightly, ready to move on from the topic of Blood Wine and its potentially dangerous contents.

 

I indulged Jasper and Emmett in a game each, it seems that their late night research had served them well. I tried not to be too disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to teach them how to play, after all it was just nice to play with someone other than Charlie. Charlie’s play style was slow and determined, it wasn’t outright aggressive but was very domineering. It was like a breath of fresh air to be able to play some different opponents. Jasper’s play-style reminded me of my own in some ways. He was defensive in his stone placements, clearly marking out territories that could easily be defended should I decide to attack. Emmett’s play-style was unlike anything I had ever encountered or read about, and it seemed totally bizarre. His stone placements seemed completely random and nonsensical, and at first I thought it was just his inexperience showing. As the game continued I realised that it wasn’t as random as I had thought and for the second half of the game I felt like I was playing catch up to claim board space.

 

Edward almost begged me for a game after I had played each of his brothers, and I couldn’t bring myself to deny him. I had expected Edward to be a calculating, almost timid player, and I couldn’t have been more fucking wrong. His aggressiveness shocked me, he almost completely neglected to create any territory of his own as he constantly attacked my position on the board. I had to fall back into a defensive play-style to prevent Edward’s constant bombardment and capture of my stones. It was probably the most fast paced game I had ever played, almost as soon as I had placed my stone Edward seemed to place his own, as soon as I had freed myself from one violent altercation Edward seemed to create another one. I only just managed to win the game by a handful of points. Edward seemed very proud of himself at that, since it was the closest game out of the three I had played.

 

I suggested that Emmett and Jasper have a game next, I was interested to watch how it would unfold. I wanted to see how Jasper would react to his brother’s erratic and unpredictable play-style and I was very interested to see if Jasper’s empathic abilities gave him an advantage.

 

I was happily sitting next to Edward, his arm was wrapped around my waist and I didn’t stop myself from snuggling into his side. I smiled as Alice whispered things into Jasper’s ear, they were too soft for me to make out from my place across the room but I had no doubt she was helping him win. I couldn’t find it in me to be bothered by the obvious cheating, and judging by Emmett’s rapidly changing positions I wasn’t sure how much help it was going to be anyway. If anything Alice’s whispered prophesies evened the playing field.

 

As I watched the strange vampire’s play, Charlie’s words from last night cut into my thoughts. Anxiety and indecision warred inside of me as I considered whether or not I should ask them. I noticed Jasper look at me from the corner of his eye. Damn empath.

 

“Uhm, I was wondering if I could ask a favour of you guys.” I spoke up, breaking the easy silence that had fallen around our little group during Emmett and Jasper’s game.

 

“Of course, Bella. Anything.” Alice replied in her tinkling voice, a friendly smile on her lips.

 

“Well, my Dad was telling me about how a young werewolf could force an out-of-phase transformation…” I bit my bottom lip and looked down to my hands in my lap. I picked at my cuticles anxiously, suddenly doubting the soundness of my plan and my decision to ask for their help.

 

“Out-of-phase?” Jasper quirked a blonde eyebrow in question,

 

“Yeah, like out-of-phase with the moon. I’ve never been able to, and Charlie thinks that with the recent advancement of my abilities that it would be okay to try a more… traditional method.” I looked between the three vampires in front of me before twisting to look at Edward.

 

“How can we help, love?” He murmured as his hand drifted to my face to brush a lock of hair behind my ear.

 

“Charlie said that usually a wolf’s pack-mates would help them, but I don’t have pack-mates. I do, however, have you guys.” I bit my lip and sighed before continuing, “The way Charlie explained it is that it’s kinda like a group sparring match, with a wolf’s pack-mates forcing them to shift with a combination of fear and intimidation.”

 

“No.” Edward said curtly, “Absolutely not.”

 

“Why not?” I whined, pulling myself away from him and scooting to the other end of the sofa so I could get a better look at him.

 

“You want to fight multiple vampires at the same time?” He looked at me like I was insane, “What if you get hurt?” He demanded.

 

“So what if I do!?” I demanded as I threw my hands up exasperatingly.

 

“Bella, you can not be serious right now!” Edward raged as he rapidly rose from his seat and started pacing the length of the room on the other side of the sofa.

 

I stood up also, I crossed my arms defiantly and stared at him as he continued his pacing, the sofa creating a barrier between us. “I am being very serious, Edward.” I snapped in the same tone, “I don’t think you understand how important this is to me.” I huffed and Edward’s pacing seemed to grow more agitated, “Mastering the ability to shift out-of-phase is the one thing standing between me and complete control of my abilities! There is so much that I can’t even begin to understand or do, and I never will unless I can over-come this first!”

 

“You are not putting yourself in unnecessary danger, I wont let you.” He stopped pacing and stared me down, his arms braced on the back of the sofa.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry. Let me!?” I scoffed with a roll of my eyes, “Also, as far as I’m concerned it’s not unnecessary!” I uncrossed my arms and brought them to my hips, turning to the others. “So, Edward’s out but will you guys help me?” I met each of their eyes, “Please?” I added, I tried to soften my voice but it still came out curtly.

 

Emmett seemed conflicted, his eyes flickered between me and Edward. He seemed excited at the idea of fighting with me, but I could tell that he didn’t want to upset his brother. Jasper was looking to Alice, seemingly awaiting her decision before coming to his own.

 

“If anything did go wrong, Carlisle would be here to help.” Alice mused,

 

As if he had been summoned by our conversation, Carlisle appeared in the entrance way. His gold eyes seemed to be swimming with thoughts, and whatever those thoughts were made Edward growl. It was a feral and animalistic sound that rumbled in his chest, and it shocked me. I had never heard such a sound come from Edward before. “She is not some science fair project, Carlisle!” Edward seethed.

 

Carlisle’s expression softened apologetically, “I didn’t mean it like that, son. But even you must admit that it is an interesting prospect, and Bella herself seems very keen to try it.”

 

I wanted to snap at them for talking about me like I wasn’t in the room, but I buried the frustration down. I still needed to convince them to help me. If begging wasn’t going to work, I was going to try guilt. “I don’t have a pack.” I stated, bringing everyone’s attention back to me. “All I have is Charlie, and that’s not enough, so I’m asking for your help. I know you’re vampires, but I’m asking you… begging you, will you be my pack… just for today, just for this.” I paused as I looked each of them in the eye, “Please,” I pleaded.

 

Edward let out a tired breath all the fight seemingly falling out of him as he drifted around the sofa towards me. “I will not take part in this, but if this is something that you need I will not stand in your way either.” He brought his arms around me and pulled me into a hug. “Also I’m stepping in the moment I think things are getting out of hand.” He murmured against my hair. I smiled against his chest, pleased with my victory.

 

I pulled away from Edward and grinned up at him. “I’ll take it.” I said before reaching on my tippy-toes to plant a kiss on his nose. I turned to the others, “So you’ll help me?”

 

“Hells yeah!” Emmett boomed, a grin breaking out on his face.

 

“I’d be happy to,” Jasper replied diplomatically.

 

“I’m not much of a fighter, I think I’ll just watch if that's okay?” chirped Alice.

 

I sighed in relief, the anxiety and fear surrounding my request melted. “We should probably head out back then,”

 

Emmett didn’t wait for anyone else as he rushed outside in a blur of movement. The rest of us followed at a much more restrained pace. As I walked down the wooden steps leading to the backyard I pulled off my t-shirt, leaving myself in a pair of worn jeans and a sports-bra.

 

Edward baulked and looked away and I rolled my eyes at him as I threw it over the banister. “I like that shirt, and if this works I don’t wanna see it all ruined.” I sniffed.

 

Edward sat down on the porch steps with a petulant expression on his face and Alice sat next to him offering him a comforting pat on the shoulder. Carlisle came over and stood a few paces in front of the steps as I took my place in the middle of their back-yard.

 

“Okay, Wolf-Girl. How you wanna do this?” Emmett chuckled as he cracked his knuckles.

 

I rolled my eyes and shrugged, “I know just about as much as you do. We’re all flying blind at this point.”

 

“Alright.” Emmett shrugged and took off in a sprint. I barely had time to react as he ran at me with his shoulder down and forward like a pro-footballer. I managed to side-step him slightly, but the brute of a vampire still caught me. His shoulder connected with mine and sent me flying through the air, twirling and tumbling like a leaf caught in an up draft, before I landed with a heavy thud a few hundred yard away.

 

I groaned as I felt the pain blossom in my shoulder where Emmett collided with me. “Bella!” I heard Edward yell from his place on the stairs.

 

I looked up to see him on his feet and I waved him away, “I’m alright!” I called out with a slight laugh. I pulled myself up off the grass and looked at my shoulder, a kaleidoscope of colours were appearing and disappearing on my skin as it rapidly healed. I shook my head and grass fell from my hair, “That hurt like a mother-fucker but the pain’s already gone.” I shrugged as I walked back to the others.

 

“Are you feeling anything?” Carlisle called out,

 

I sighed and shook my head, “No, nothing.”

 

I watched curiously as Jasper cocked his head to the side, messy blonde curls obscuring his face. He seemed to be deep in thought about something as he methodically rolled up his shirt sleeves.

 

“Jasper,” I heard Edward growl, his voice held an unspoken warning. Whatever Jasper was thinking of doing, Edward clearly wasn’t happy about it. I rolled my shoulders as the last of the stiffness left my muscles from Emmett’s attack. I planted my feet and watched Jasper with cold intent, waiting for him to make his move.

 

My eyes widened in shock as I watched Jasper’s hands curl into menacing claws, he dropped down into a threatening crouch. His eyes went dark and a savage snarl escaped his lips as he bared his teeth at me threateningly. A shocking chill rippled through my body at the sight. It was no longer Jasper who stood in front of me, instead it was a terrifying and completely savage vampire.

 

My heart started to beat faster in my chest and I could feel the vibrations of a growl building as I watched the threatening vampire. In a movement so quick I almost missed it, Jasper sped across the lawn towards me. I watched closely as he zigzagged towards me and I tried to figure out from which direction his attack would come. In the last 100 yards, Jasper leaped through the air. A vicious roar echoed around the yard as he collided with me. His cold hands gripped my shoulders and forced me down into the earth as he straddled my midsection, I bucked underneath him trying to gain back some leverage. Jasper’s eyes were as black as onyx as he continued his snarling, he pulled me up a few inches and slammed me back into the ground. Jasper bared his teeth and snapped them at me threateningly, I felt my own rumbling growl grow and build and escape out my throat in a terrifying snarl as I answered his snapping with my own. I writhed on the ground underneath him, desperately trying to find some purchase, some way I could free myself from the iron grip of the menacing creature above me.

 

I felt my body ache as a familiar sensation burned through my muscles. I released a loud animalistic snarl as I managed to free my legs from being trapped underneath Jasper’s body. I planted a foot square on his chest and heaved him away as I roared with the strain.

 

Jasper’s eyes went wide as he was thrown off of me. He arced through the air and tried to twist gracefully mid-air so he could land on his feet. He was semi-successful and he managed to land on one knee after being thrown clear across the lawn.

 

I managed to pull myself off the ground, my breathing was coming in rapid pants as I felt the aching burn and the twisting in my stomach. I looked around and found Edward still standing in his spot in front of the porch steps. His face was twisted in pain and his worried eyes met mine, “Edward!” I gasped out at the same time I felt one of my ribs break and reshape itself. I took an uncertain step forward but managed to stay upright.

 

Edward was with me in a blur of movement, “Bella! Are you alright, my love?” He asked anxiously.

 

My answer was lost in a strangled groan of pain as I arched backwards, my spine snapping and shifting underneath my skin. As it resettled in place I was thrown forward and landed heavily on my knees. I tried once again to answer him, but the only sound I made was a serious of unintelligible moans and wails. My hands flew to my chest and throat and I clawed at the skin there, pulling it away from myself in bloody fragments. I desperately gasped in pained breaths as my body shook with the transformation. A broken sob fell from my mouth as I lurched forward with the force of my bones breaking. I rested my forehead against the cold damp grass as I felt the bones in my shoulder blades shifting and repositioning themselves. The force of the moving and growing bones caused my skin to slowly split open and I felt the tiny rivers of red blood stream down over my body. Slowly, so painfully slowly, the skin fell away in bloody piles as my dark brown fur took it’s place.

 

I gasped with the effort it took to come back to rest on my hands and knees. I stared down at my hands, a monstrous mix of human hand and lupine paw. I clawed into the grass and dirt, trying to stop myself from screaming with the agony of it all. I felt my mouth slowly fill with blood as my teeth loosened and I angrily spat out my human teeth as my sharp canines took their place. It felt as if the transformation was taking hours. I groaned painfully, twisting my head from one side to the other as I felt the bones in my face twist and break.

 

I could feel my jaw and nose elongating into the lupine snout, and as it did it caused the skin on my face to crack and tear away. I arched my head back as the final stages of my transformation took hold, the last remnants of my human visage fell away and the final bits of bone and sinew snapped into place.

 

I stood there for a moment as I panted with the exertion of the transformation. It had been arduous and excruciating and completely unlike any other transformation I had completed. I could still feel the dampness of my blood on my fur and I instinctively shook it out, a small cloud of red mist fell around me. As I caught my breath I quickly devoured my human remains, leaving only tattered pieces of cloth and denim behind.

 

I let out a puff of air, part in relief and part in satisfaction it had worked.

 

I had done it. And I was still me. I could feel my more animal impulses and instincts shoot through my thoughts, but the were suggestions, just another part of my thought process. They didn’t dominate my mind and control my actions as they once would have. I took in a deep lungful of air and threw my head back in a deafening howl, a howl of victory and pride.

 

Edward’s voice pulled me out of my howling, “It’s okay, Carlisle. She’s in control.” I slowly looked at Edward, large yellow eyes meeting gold. He was still kneeling in the grass nearby, his eyes wide and mouth slightly agape. “Hey, Bella.” He whispered reverently like a pious man in church. Edward’s eyes flickered behind me, and he raised a pacifying hand to the others “Its okay.” He stressed,

 

I cocked my head to the side and turned to look behind me. The quartet of vampire’s had moved back, standing at the bottom of the porch steps in a series of half-crouches. Jasper eyed me warily, shielding Alice with his body. Alice didn’t seem as bothered by it as Jasper so clearly was, and she was straining behind him to get a look at me. When our eyes met she gave me a stunning smile and an excited wave.


Emmett’s face held a mix of shock and disgust, his nose wrinkling and his eyebrows furrowing. He was eyeing me cautiously as if I were going to attack him at any moment.

 

Carlisle seemed to be having an internal war with himself, clearly he was fascinated by me and my transformation, but just as clear was his fear. In fact, as I stood there across the yard from them, still catching my breath, I could taste it. All except Alice were feeling some degree of fear and anxiety towards me.

 

Pain rocketed through my chest and a heartbroken whine whimpered out my throat. They were scared of me. The reaction I had been dreading had finally come. Just not from Edward, but from his family instead. I took a slow and cautious step towards them, at my movement the three male vampires visibly stiffened and I couldn’t stop the sorrowful whine that resounded in my chest.

 

I blinked slowly at them, trying to show them that I would never ever hurt them. I closed my eyes and bowed my head submissively, another whimper breaking through. “Would you three stop it. Can’t you see you’re upsetting her!” I heard Alice snap out angrily. I looked at them and when Alice caught me staring she gave me another dazzling smile. “She’s not going to hurt us.” she declared confidently.

 

From behind me I heard Edward get up from his spot on the grass, he closed the small gap between us and I looked up as he stood by my side. I raised myself to my full height, I didn’t want to scare the Cullen’s any more but I also didn’t want to appear weak either. My head reached Edward’s chest, and I bumped my head affectionately against his arm. Edward wasn’t looking at me though, he was still looking at his father. “Yes, although it seemed to take longer and looked a lot more painful than what I saw during the full-moon.” Edward answered Carlisle’s thoughts.

 

I huffed out my agreement. It had been significantly more painful than any previous transformation. Alice shoved her way from behind Jasper and slowly walked over towards me, a broad smile plastered on her face. Standing in front of me we were almost nose to nose, the pixie like vampire was significantly shorter than Edward. “That was pretty cool, Bella.” Alice chirped.

 

I let out a breath of air that resembled a short chuckle before I pressed my wet nose against Alice’s cool cheek. Her tinkling giggle floated around us as she brought her hand to her face to wipe away the dampness.

 

Our casual interaction seemed to break the others out of whatever spell they had found themselves under and they too approached me. I could no longer taste their fear or apprehension, instead it was replaced with innocent curiosity and gentle amazement. There was another emotion, hidden under their vampiric stenches. Remorse.

 

They didn’t come as close as Alice had, choosing to keep a respectful distance between us. Carlisle ran an embarrassed hand through his hair, grooming it back in place. “I am very sorry about that, Bella. I’m not sure what came over me, it was… instinct.”

 

I nodded in understanding, I could appreciate instinct. It was only yesterday that I found myself trying not to jump through a pane glass window to escape their presence. I felt a pang in my stomach and it growled in hunger. The loud gurgling seemed to do away with whatever tension that was left between me and the vampires.

 

Emmett chuckled, shooting me a teasing smile. “Hungry huh?”

 

I yipped at him, pawing at the ground in frustration. He was right, I was hungry. The transformation always left me ravenous, but this seemed to take a lot more out of me.

 

“I think Esme left some food for you in the fridge, why don’t you shift back and we can see what we can scrounge up for you?” Alice suggested lightly,

 

I whined and looked longingly towards the woods, whatever lunch Esme had prepared for me in the fridge was not going to satisfy my hunger. I needed to hunt. I turned and looked at Edward, and for the first time I wished he could read my thoughts. I stared into his eyes, silently begging for his understanding. A frustrated whine made my lips twitch as I shifted my weight on my front paws. I looked back to the woods, and then back to Edward again. I wanted to hunt, but I didn’t want to hunt alone. I wanted him to come with me, I wanted to hunt together. As a pack. The more human and rational side of my brain knew that it was silly, irrational even. But my baser instincts were thrumming through me, and even though I never wavered in my control I still warmed at the idea of us hunting together.

 

Edward cocked his head to the side and his eyes narrowed in thought, “You want to go for a run?” He asked me. Not quite. But it’ll do. I yipped and rubbed my head against his chest, marking him with my scent. Edward chuckled, “Alright then,” I let out a soft howl of happiness as I shot off across the yard. My claws dug in and ripped up the grass as I propelled myself at full speed towards the tree line. “Bella! Wait for me!” I heard Edward laugh behind me.

 

I didn’t slow as I entered the woods, another exuberant howl resounding in the woods around me. Edward quickly caught up and I glanced to see him easily keeping pace. I manoeuvred my body to bump into him slightly before pushing myself faster. I could see a break in the trees ahead, and could hear the running water of a small river. I increased my speed and as I reached the river bank I leaped in a graceful arc, clearing the water easily and landing on the other side. I paused to watch Edward, and he launched himself over the river with practised ease.

 

I gave him the wolf equivalent of a smile and took off at a sprint. This area was clearly the Cullen’s hunting ground, their scents were crisscrossed across the forest floor. I struggled to scent the air as my nose was filled with the smell of vampires. I pushed harder, my claws churning up the earth as I bolted through the woods. Eventually the smell of vampires started to dissipate and I could begin to make out other scents. My wet nose twitched and my head moved from one side to the other as I ran, Edward was happily keeping pace with me a few feet to my left.

 

There . A rumbling growl filled my chest as I caught the scent of a small herd of black-tailed deer. I abruptly turned on a dime to follow the scent. As the scent became stronger I slowed down to a soft jog. My lips twitched over my sharp canines in anticipation.

 

It was a strange sensation. I was fully aware, completely in control as I allowed my animal instincts to take the reigns. I didn’t think, I just moved, every action and footfall happening with practised precision I didn’t know I had. I moved up-wind of my prey, and as they came into view I crouched down. I inched my way forward, moving silently through the heavy undergrowth of the forest. Shrubs and ferns hid my body as I slinked closer to my prey.

 

T he deer were grazing in a small clearing, relaxed and unaware of the danger they were in. My lips curled menacingly around my fangs as I leaped out of the underbrush and caught the closest doe in my vice like jaws. The deer struggled weakly as my teeth penetrated the flesh of it’s neck. I bit down and roughly twisted my head to the side, hearing the doe’s neck snap cleanly. It stopped struggling.

 

I huffed out and tried to get a better grip on my kill, flesh tearing and blood dripping down my muzzle and into the mossy grass below. I looked up to see Edward still crouched in the undergrowth. In my instinct fuelled hunt I hadn’t even registered his presence, although part of me thought I should have. His golden eyes were growing dark and I could see his eyes follow the path of the deer’s blood in my fur. Edward was thirsty, but I had chased off any remaining prey in my hasty attempt to satiate my own hunger.

 

I let out a whine as I dragged my kill over to Edward and I dropped it at his feet, the doe landed heavily on the wet grass. Edward’s dark eyes looked between me and the doe inquisitively, a silent question filling the crisp air between us. I lowered my head and nudged the doe with my nose, pushing it slightly towards Edward before it’s limp frame rocked back towards me.

 

T hat was all it took. Edward’s slender hands came forward and gripped the deer, his perfect mouth closing around the wound I had inflicted. I watched his Adam’s apple bob as he greedily swallowed the thick blood of the deer, a content growl echoed in his chest. I mirrored it with my own happy growling noise as I carefully observed his every movement.

 

I felt a strong sense of love and longing as I witnessed Edward feed. His hands held the deer up to his mouth, the muscles in his shoulders and arms rippled under the thin fabric of his shirt. I was completely beholden unto him, and I knew that I would do anything for him, give him anything he asked for. My chest felt warm with my love for him, and it was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I was completely and entirely his, I would walk to the ends of the earth just for a glimpse of his smile. Edward finished his meal, raising his head to look at me with bright golden eyes. Just as much as I was his, he was mine. I would not allow anything to happen to him, I could not allow anything to happen to him. Just the thought of anything bad happening to Edward made me want to howl in agony, he was my vampire.

 

Mine . For once it was like my human consciousness and my lupine instincts were in complete agreement.

 

A soft whining growl came out of my throat. Edward’s lips were still stained red with the dark crimson of the doe’s blood, and as he smiled slowly a small drip escaped the corner of his mouth and fell down his chin. He silently held out the drained deer to me, a rumbling purr vibrated in his throat.

 

I took the deer in my jaws and raked my razor sharp claws down it’s chest, spilling it’s innards over the ground. I stepped heavily on the exposed rib-cage of the deer and it snapped easily under my weight. I released it’s neck and buried my snout in the gaping wound I had created. I hungrily dug in the deer’s chest cavity, searching desperately for it’s still warm heart. I found it and with a growl of pleasure I ribbed it from the doe’s rib cage with surgical precision and devoured it in two clean bites.

 

I wasted no time finding and consuming my favourite organs. I didn’t stop to think about the fact I had favourite organs. The burst of self pity and disgust was quickly pushed out of my head by my growing satisfaction and my rapidly diminishing hunger. I felt a strange sort of connectedness within myself. The two parts of myself that I always fought so hard to keep distinctly separate seemed to meld together as I gorged myself on the warm flesh of the deer. My human consciousnesses, acute and aware of everything around me, naming each organ as I consumed them. And my animal impulses, the part of me that was more wolf than human, allowed me to feel pleasure at the taste and texture of each different piece of the doe.

 

It was like the last part of my self identity was slotting into place; I had always seen myself as either human or wolf. But I was neither of those things. I was a werewolf, I was both human and wolf and neither, all at the same time.

 

As I pulled off the last piece of sinewy muscle from the deer’s bone, I raised my head to the cloudy sky and released a thunderous howl.

 

X xXx

 

The sun was almost setting on the horizon by the time I was ready to head back to the Cullen’s house. After I had finished my meal I had enjoyed running through the woods with Edward, and I was delighted to learn that I was just as fast as him in my wolf form. I was willing to bet that I would eventually be even faster.

 

W e slowed to a soft plodding jog as we entered the Cullen’s back yard. My ears twitched and rotated as I heard half a dozen sets of footsteps rush in the house before the entire Cullen clan spilled out onto the back porch. From the bright golden hue of Esme’s and Rosalie’s eyes, they must have just returned from hunting.

 

I sniffed and nudged Edward’s palm with my nose. I was going to shift back and I didn’t want an audience for that.

 

After our hunt, Edward and I seemed oddly in tune with each other. At first I thought he could read my mind, but eventually I realised that not to be the case. We had each shown the other the more primal parts of ourselves, parts we had kept hidden from everyone else . In my case I had even kept it hidden from myself. We had reached a new level of understanding and kinship in our relationship, and Edward seemed to be picking up the vibes I was putting out with ease. “Alice, could you get Bella some clothes.” He called out to his sister who nodded dutifully before disappearing inside and returning with a duffle bag. “ I think we all should go inside and give Bella some privacy.” He stepped in front of me and took the bag from Alice and placed it on the grass before me.

 

H e smiled at me and then started to usher his family inside, ignoring the protests from both Emmett and Carlisle as they asked to witness my transformation back into human form.

 

I was grateful for him as I took the bag in my jaws and walked to the side of the house, out of view of the wall of windows.

 

I puffed out a breath and shut my eyes tightly in concentration. During a full-moon my return to human form was slow, happening gradually. This time, like everything else about this transformation, was very different. I felt my fur receding back into my skin, human flesh easily taking it’s place as my bones grotesquely rearranged underneath. My canine fangs shrunk back into my gums, forming back into dull human teeth.

 

I n less than a minute, I was a gasping naked human kneeling on the grass. I took a deep calming breath, releasing it in a breathy “Well, fuck.”

 

I opened the duffle bag to see my t-shirt along with a replacement pair of jeans, sports-bra and underwear. I hurriedly pulled them on and picked up the empty bag as I walked back around the house.

 

I pulled my fingers through my hair in an effort to tame the tangled mess before I plodded back into the house. I entered the living room to see the entire Cullen family waiting for me . Edward rose to meet me and immediately came by my side. He put his hands on my hips and pulled me to him and kissed me hungrily . I wanted to deepen the kiss, but I couldn’t, not in front of his entire family. I blushed as I pulled away from him, I ran a nervous hand through my hair as I stared at the floor.

 

Edward was just telling us about your hunt.” Carlisle spoke casually, as if he were discussing the weather.

 

Yeah, no offense to Esme’s cooking but a garden salad wasn’t going to be enough.” I laughed sarcastically, trying to play off the building anxiety I was feeling.

 

I tried not to squirm under the vampire’s intense gaze, instead I found comfort in the increased power and strength I could feel pulsing through my body. I grabbed Edward’s hand and half dragged him to the empty love seat, sitting down with a contented sigh. I looked at the Weichi board still sitting on the coffee table, and I quickly recognised Jasper’s technique in the placement of the black stones. The white stones were in an unfamiliar pattern, I was about to ask who was in the middle of a game but Carlisle spoke before I could.

 

Bella, I wanted to say again how sorry-” He started another apology but I brought up my hand to silence him.

 

Don’t mention it,” I waved away his words with a shrug, “Now you know how I felt yesterday walking in this house just to be assaulted by a litany of unfamiliar vampiric scents.”

 

A small smile danced across Carlisle’s lips and Emmett chuckled appreciatively. I looked back to the Weichi board, “Whose playing?” I asked with a point towards the game.

 

I’m teaching Rosie!” Emmett declared proudly, before launching into a loud and dramatic play-by-play of the game so far.

 

I smiled as I leaned into Edward, it felt strange to feel so at home surrounded by vampires. Maybe I did have a pack after all.

Chapter Text

 

I came to the realisation pretty quickly that the Cullen’s weren’t normal, by any definition of the word. Apparently they were strange even by vampire standards, and not just for their entirely abnormal diet. It didn’t bother me though, and I found myself enjoying their company. My own peculiar brand of strangeness seemed to fit in nicely, and I relished in a previously unknown sense of belonging.

 

 

When I came home and told Charlie how I had managed to force an out-of-phase transformation I had never seen him happier. He had launched himself out of his arm chair and pulled me into a bear-hug, pulling me off my feet at the force of it. Just as quickly, his uncontrollable joy morphed into a deep sadness.

 

I pushed myself away from him so I could look at him, “Dad, whats wrong?” I asked, my own grin falling slowly in confusion.

 

“I’m sorry, Bella.” He shook his head, forcing a sad smile back onto his face. “I just thought how, if everything was the way it was supposed to be, that there would be a massive celebration to mark this occasion.” He ran a hand across my face before placing it on the back of my head and pulling me back to him in a warm hug. “You deserve it, Bella.” He low voice rumbled against my ear, “I know how much you have struggled, how much it has pained you to come to terms with your own nature. It hurt me, to see you in such turmoil.” His large hand was slowly caressing my hair, “It was the hardest thing I had to do, to allow you to come to it on your own.” He pulled me away and stared intensely into my eyes, “But you understand it now, don’t you?” He asked in a near whisper.

 

A small smile ghosted across my lips as a single warm tear fell down my face, I nodded. “I do, Dad. It’s not me, or the wolf. Not me or the monster. Its all just… me.” It was a bitter-sweet kind of sadness, the kind of sadness that was laced in a strange sense of happiness and relief. I watery laugh crept up my throat, “I have to admit, I never could have done it alone. Edward really helped me, he helped me to… accept myself.”

 

Charlie laughed a dry throaty chuckle, “Never thought I would feel myself indebted to a vampire.”

 

XxXx

 

When I arrived with Edward at the Cullen house on Monday morning I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what I saw. It seems that an endless existence as an un-ageing immortal was a lot different for vampires, given the fact that they couldn’t sleep. In their pursuit to remain entertained Emmett and Jasper had concocted a strange new game, that seemed to be an unholy mix of Weichi, chess and Jenga. I struggled to comprehend how these three games could possibly intersect, it wasn’t that they were just playing the three games at the same time, but they had melded them together warping and twisting the rules around to fit their needs.

 

Strange fucking vampires indeed.

 

I was still trying to puzzle out the strange rules to this new ungodly mutation of a game that Emmett and Jasper had invented when I was suddenly aware of the sound of an unfamiliar engine curling it’s way up the dirt road that was the Cullen’s drive-way. My attention waned as I listened to it approach, the changes in pitch as the gears shifted, the crunching of gravel under the tyres.

 

I had noticed this new strange awareness when I had woken up this morning, but I hadn’t said anything to any one yet. I wasn’t sure how long it would stay, and I didn’t want to bring it up just for it to fade away. I silently enjoyed it though. I had thought that my senses were acutely improved after a full-moon but it was nothing compared to this.

 

When I saw Edward it was like I was really seeing him for the first time. I could pin-point every single tousled strand in his bronze hair, bronze just didn’t seem to do the colour justice. It was more brown then red, except when the light hit it just right. When that happened it was almost like he was surrounded by a fiery halo. For the first time I could see the soft crescent shaped scar, it sat just where his neck met his shoulder and disappeared under the collar of his shirt. The scar that marked the end of his human life and the beginning of his vampiric one. If Edward had noticed me looking at him with a peculiar intensity, he was kind enough not to say anything.

 

W hen I fully came to terms with the improved capacity of my senses, I was slightly worried about how I would cope with the Cullen’s scents. The lingering scent of burnt sugar, and the vulgar stench of sweet infected decay was hard enough to deal the first time. I tried not to let on that I was worried, and Edward didn’t seem to realise anything was up. Either that or he knew that I didn’t want to make a thing out of it.

 

I had mentally braced myself for the impact of their scents, and had taken a tentative breath on the front porch. The vampiric odours were still there, still lingering, but they seemed to fade away to the background. They dissolved and mingled into a collection of other scents, and I could place each and every one.

 

T he first one I recognised was Alice’s, gentle and fr esh. Her scent was sweet, but had a sour note to it that I could only liken to strawberry lemonade. As I had walked into their house, I tried to be subtle as I scented the air. I slowly identified and catalogued each of the Cullen’s scents. Jasper’s was another one that I found easy to identity, his scent seemed almost at odds with his mates. While Alice’s was light and fresh, Jasper’s was murkier and deep. His scent was reminiscent of aged leather and sandalwood, earthy like the rain in Arizona after a dust storm.

 

E mmett’s scent was sharp, almost bitter. It was like the bite of the salt-water mist at First Beach, or the sharp taste of lemon ade before you added the sugar. It took me a while to place Rosalie’s scent, I had been expecting it to be sharp and dangerous like the woman herself, but instead it was soft. It was floral and inviting, like that first breath of air you take when you walk into a florist’s shop. The smell of a thousand blooms mingling together in a captivating aroma.

 

T he sharp scent of Carlisle was unmistakable, clear and crisp eucalyptus was the first thing that came to mind. But there was something else there also, something older. The only thing I could liken it to was the smell of the strange incense they burnt during Catholic mass. (Rene had taken me once as a child when she went through her religious phase.) It was solid, and vaguely comforting.

 

I wasn’t at all surprised by Esme’s scent, gentle and soft. It was sweet and pulled at memories I didn’t know I had of sitting in Rene’s mothers house as she baked cookies for me. It was warm and welcoming, it smelt like home.

 

B eing able to identify all these other much more complex notes in the Cullen’s scent almost made me forget the underlying smell of death. Almost. No matter what they still held that same repelling vampiric odour that Edward seemed to lack.

 

 

 

I listened now as the garage door opened and then closed again. The car turned off and I could hear Alice’s feather light footfalls on the hard wood floors as she walked through the house. My nose twitched as her scent wafted into the room, I twisted in Edward’s arms just in time to see her dance into view.

 

Bella! Just the person I wanted to see.” She chirped brightly as she moved past Jasper, stopping briefly to give him a quick peck on the lips. “I just got back from visiting your Dad at work.” She declared like it was the most normal sentence in the world.

 

I t was most certainly not the most normal sentence in the world. My eyebrows shot up in surprise, “You did what now?” I asked in a breathy voice.

 

Her tinkling laugh seemed to mock me, “ Don’t worry!” She said waving me away with a dismissive hand, “I just had to speak to him about some details for your party.” she said with a casual shrug.

 

I shook my head and my eyebrows furrowed in confusion, I had no idea what the hell she was going on about. I was beginning to get a little more than slightly agitated at the tiny vampire, the way she spoke was as if everything was always so clear and obvious. Like I should already know what she was talking about. I bit my bottom lip in frustration, “ Alice, what the fuck are you talking about? ” I grit out. Edward wrinkled his nose in distaste at my casual use of the swear, but I had come to learn that he was the only one of his brothers to be so sensitive when it came to profanity. Jasper’s lips curled up in an attempt to hide his amused smirk , and Emmett released a scoffing chuckle.

 

A lice rolled her eyes before tapping her temple. “ I had a vision, or rather to be more accurate I had flickers of a vision.” her pixie nose crinkled slightly, her displeasure of having her powers thwarted were clear. “ Your party, to celebrate your first out-of-phase transformation.” Alice explained slowly, as if the effort it took to clue the rest of us into her insane thought process was just too much.

 

I smiled at her, “Oh, yeah my Dad told me about that. He explained it was kind of like a coming of age thing, a way for a pack to welcome in a new member.” I couldn’t help the wave of sadness, the pain that clenched in my stomach at the reminder of how alone I was. I played it off as an indifferent shrug, “I don’t have a pack, so it’s a moot point.”

 

What the fuck are you talking about?!” Emmett boomed, and I heard Esme’s soft voice drift from upstairs as she scolded him lightly for his profanity, even though it was halfhearted and seemed more automatic than anything else. I looked at the large vampire and raised an eyebrow in confusion, tilting my head to the side slightly. “I thought that we were your pack,” He smirked at me, one cheek dimpling as his eyes twinkled with amusement.

 

T he ache in my chest took on a new tone, shifting from the painful pang of sadness to the blossoming of overwhelming love and appreciation. I could feel tears well in my eyes as a watery grin broke out across my face. I launched myself off the sofa, vaulting across the room in a single bound to collide with Emmett’s massive chest. I wrapped my arms around his torso, the force of the impact knocked the breath out of him and with a breathy grunt we fell backward s off the ottoman that Emmett had been sitting o n . Emmett recovered from his shock as we fell backwards, and his large arms wrapped around me. The was a clattering noise as we landed heavily on the living room rug, and I looked to the side to see the precarious Jenga tower falling in pieces around us.

 

You really mean it?” I mumbled against his chest. I fought the urge to pull a face, with my face up against the muscled chest of the brawny vampire I could no longer smell the more nuanced tones of his scent. All I could smell was that same stench, like a damp and infected wound.

 

Of course,” Emmett’s deep voice rumbled against my ear and I felt him lift us both up off the ground, my heart skipped a panicked beat at being held off the ground by him but settled back down immediately when he placed me back on my own feet. “I’ve always wanted a little sister.” He grinned down me, “The whole werewolf thing is just a bonus.”

 

J asper was looking at the ruined destruction of the Jenga tower, “This means I win, right?” he mused softly, almost to himself.

 

What? No it doesn’t!” Emmett snipped, “There’s nothing in the rules about tackling werewolves.”

 

I shook my head and turned to look at Edward. He was staring at me with an amused expression, his lips curling on one side, his eyes soft and warm. Emmett and Jasper were continuing to bicker about the rules of their absurd creation, I ignored them and looked to Alice. I swallowed down the emotional lump forming in my throat, what they were offering meant a whole lot. I wasn’t sure they understood just how much it really meant. They were offering to become my pack, to become Charlie’s pack. A pack was more than just a family, more then just a group of people forced together by the fate of blood ties.

 

I t was a promise.

 

The promise to be a safe harbour against any storm, to shield and protect each other no matter the cost. It was the knowledge that no matter how far apart you drift, or how long you’ve been away, that when you return that you will always be welcomed back with open arms and a warm meal regardless of any sins you had committed during your absence.

 

A pack was the very definition of Ride or Die.

 

Alice…” I started, “I’m-” I went to continue but she held up a dainty hand.

 

I know what you’re going to say.” She chirped. Of course she did. “When I spoke with Charlie he explained it, what it means to be a pack.” She paused and her small hand reached out to grab mine, I was relieved to note she had chosen to not wear her silver ring today. “Honestly, Bella? It sounds an awful lot like what we have here.” her free hand gestured to the room around us and the still bickering vampires who’s argument had devolved into throwing Jenga blocks at each other from across the room. Jasper was clearly feeding off Emmett’s childish amusement. I knew she didn’t mean the room, or the two utterly foolish vampires.

 

She meant her coven, her family.

 

B efore I had met Edward, and the rest of the Cullen’s, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of a vampires nature. Of how they saw the world and interacted with humans and other vampires. Covens came together for strength, convenience, or to protect hunting grounds. Power and influence was the currency of the vampire world. Love wasn’t a factor. Loyalty was a foreign concept, only reserved for a vampire’s mate . The Cullen’s weren’t a coven. They were a family, and they were willing to let me and Charlie be a part of it.

 

I bit my bottom lip as I struggled to find the words to express how I was feeling. No words would have been good enough. Nothing could adequately describe how tremendously grateful I was, or how the burning love in my chest spread to my head and made me feel light headed. And it was love. It was so clearly and obviously love. I loved the Cullen’ s, each of them, even Rosalie who I hadn’t even shared more than half a dozen words with.

 

I thought I knew what love felt like. I knew what it felt like to love Charlie, my father and protector. I knew what I felt like to love Edward, the man who I would willing ly walk through the fires of hell for. This was a different sort of love, a familial love. It was sudden and completely ridiculous, I had known them for less than a week. But I couldn’t deny it was there.

 

I stood there in front of Alice, an embarrassed blush rushed to my cheeks as I realised I had been struck dumb by the completely consuming burn of affection I felt for her and all of these remarkably unusual vampires. I let out a huff of breath as I pulled her into a crushing hug. Her tiny ice cold arms went around my waist as I hugged her tiny frame to mine. I squeezed her close to me, willing every emotion I felt and couldn’t find words for into the action.

 

Oh” I heard Alice let out in a soft gasp and I hastily pulled away, worried that I had somehow hurt her.

 

I took a step back in an attempt to give her space, “I’m sorry, Alice.” I grimaced,

 

A start l ed hand fluttered to her chest, resting where her silent heart hid under her iron skin. Alice’s golden eyes were wide and staring at me, her mouth forming a little ‘o’ of surprise. “I… I felt that.” She whispered, her surprised expression morphing into a smile. “ You love us. I felt it.” She said the words with gentle confidence. Even coming from her, they didn’t seem enough.

 

I turned to see Edward rise from the sofa and walk over to where I was standing. He wrapped an arm around my waist and was staring at Alice, clearly mulling over whatever thoughts were racing through her mind. “ Strange,” He murmured, and then his head turned to face me. “ You said you couldn’t influence the emotions of others.”

 

I can’t.” I retorted, “That’s not what that was, it wasn’t influence it was… a sharing of information.” I shrugged, unable to figure out another way to put it. “Non-verbal communication.” I tried the words on for size, not liking how they felt as I said them. Now all the vampires in the room were giving me an odd look, Emmett and Jasper had stopped their childish activities, Jenga blocks still in hand. I turned to Edward with an exasperated expression, “Like yesterday? During our run, you were just picking up on the vibes I was putting out. This was just… more.” I shrugged uselessly, unable to find the words to explain a completely unique werewolf experience to a bunch of vampires. I had only felt it myself a couple of times, when Charlie had shifted out-of-phase and needed to communicate with me, and I had never been able to do it myself. “Would you quit staring at me like that? God!” I whined as a small pouty frown covered my face. “Way to make a girl feel like a total freak,” I muttered as I rolled my eyes.

 

You loooove us.” Emmett cooed teasingly,

 

M y eyes narrowed, “Don’t test me.” I didn’t try to stop the growl that vibrated in my chest.

 

E mmett’s grin seemed to grow impossibly wider, stretching across his large face. With a flick of his wrist he whirled a Jenga block at me with stunning vampire speed. My body moved before my mind fully registered any of the movements, my hand flying up and catching the wooden block inches before it crashed into my face. Emmett’s eyes winded in shock, and then in mock fear as he held up his hands in surrender.

 

I went to launch the block back at Emmett , but Edward’s long finger’s curled around my wrist to stop me. “Don’t feed into it, Bella. That’s what he wants.” He murmured in my ear. I reluctantly handed over the Jenga block to Edward, who set it carefully on the coffee table. It was probably for the best, who knows how far I would have taken it? Knowing me, probably too far.

 

 

X xXx

 

 

W e had to wait until Wednesday night to have the party. It had rained all day and night on Tuesday, a steady and torrential downpour that was unrelenting. I was sceptical that it would clear up by Wednesday, but Alice seemed so sure of it. Edward warned me to not bet against Alice, and I took his word for it.

 

S ure enough, when I woke up on Wednesday morning there was no rain. There was spotty cloud cover, small slivers of sunlight peaked out and threatened to make themselves known, but no rain. Charlie had already left for work, promising to be at the Cullen’s house by sunset. I knew he would probably take off from work early, and be there way before then. He seemed more excited about the party then I was. I couldn’t blame him, and it was heartwarming to see Charlie so happy.

 

Growing up, Charlie made sure to teach me about our culture. He told me the stories of our people, our gods and our creation, but it always meant much more to him, then it did to me. I mean, I listened and I remembered. I could retell the fables with practised ease. But I didn’t really believe it. Not the way he did. Maybe it was a symptom of being raised by a human, in a totally modernised culture. Maybe it was because Rene coasted from one religion or spirituality to another faster then I could keep up. I guess that deep down, I was a sceptical person.

 

Ironic coming from a werewolf.

 

I liked the thought of having this party, this ritual, if only to make Charlie happier. He had been alone so long, too long, whenever I thought about how lonely I had felt my heart broke for my Dad. The Cullen’s weren’t just my chance at a home, it was Charlie’s too.

 

I had just finished rinsing my plate from lunch when I heard a knock at the door. I grinned, Edward was here. I rushed to the door and flung it open, I couldn’t help it when my heart sunk into my stomach. It wasn’t Edward, but it was Alice. “ Alice?” I cocked my head to the side, “What are you doing here?”

 

H er sharp features scrunched up and for a moment she looked just as confused as I did, “I’m picking you up to take you to our house, to get ready for the party?”

 

I shook my head and grabbed my bag as I stepped over the threshold and closed the door behind me, “Yeah I figured. What I meant was, where’s Edward?”

 

Alice rolled her eyes and waved her hand dismissively, “He’s helping set up the backyard,” Without any more words, she moved to the driver’s side of Edward’s car.

 

Wait,” I spoke up as her hand went to the door handle, “Can I drive?” I asked hopefully,

 

I don’t know,” Alice mused, “Edward is strangely protective over this… thing.” she gestured to the silver Volvo.

 

He never has to know.” I raised my eyebrows suggestively as a playful smirk pulled at my lips. Alice gave me a deadpanned look, and I laughed. “Okay, he’ll know but you can just say that I coerced you into it. And that would be the truth.” I teased as I went over and held out my hand for the keys.

 

A lice got a far away look on her face, her face going slack and eyes going blank. Her blank expression abruptly shifted into a grin, “That will work.” She chirped happily, dropping the keys into my open hand.

 

I gave her an odd look before getting into the driver’s seat. Alice had obviously adjusted the drivers seat to her small frame, and I was still fiddling with the levers when Alice landed in the passenger seat. I finally managed to get the seat at a comfortable position so my knees weren’t pressed against the steering wheel and I couldn’t help the mischievous smirk that coloured my face as the Volvo’s engine came to life.

 

I didn’t drive as fast as Edward, but I did drive faster than I should have. I mean, I loved my truck. It had all sorts of character and personality that the Volvo was sorely lacking, but I couldn’t help but love how fast Edward’s car was. “ So, if you can see my future how come you didn’t see the whole werewolf thing?” I said as I zoomed around a tight bend.

 

I risked a glance at Alice before looking back to the road, I knew Edward would forgive me for taking his car for a joy-ride, but he would never forgive me if I wrapped it around a tree.

 

I couldn’t see your future at all when you first came to Forks.” She said tightly, and I grimaced. I didn’t mean to bring up a sore spot.

 

Sorry,” I mumbled,

 

I was startled by her tinkling laugh, “Edward’s right, you do apologise too much.”

 

I would say that I’m sorry, but I guess that would defeat the purpose.” I mumbled as an embarrassed blush rose to my face.

 

The more Edward was around you, the more… in focus you became.” She paused for a moment and from the corner of my eye I saw her run a tired hand over her forehead. “You were still, blurry though. Out of focus. I could never get a clean look at you, just small snippets. Flashes of images with out context, brief bursts of emotions things like that.”

 

I’m seriously resisting the urge to apologise again,” I said softly, and I was. This was clearly upsetting to her, and I truly felt badly that I was the cause.

 

It’s fine, you’re a lot clearer to me now. I mean it’s still not easy, you’re not as clear to me as the others, but your there.” Her finger tapped her temple knowingly, “There with Edward. You make him so happy, ya know?” She asked me that softly, almost wistfully.

 

I was turning down the long dirt road of the Cullen’s drive-way and I knew that I didn’t have long before I was in hearing range of the family, if I wasn’t already. “ I know. He makes me happy too.” I frowned, it wasn’t enough. “That’s not right. More th a n happy,” I huffed out, my fingers flexed and clenched around the steering wheel. “ Does he even realise what he means to me?” I asked quietly, slowing the car slightly as we approached the house.

 

I looked at Alice who was smiling knowingly, and as I reached to downshift her small hand patted the back of mine reassuringly. “ I think he does,” she nodded, “ Still, it wouldn’t hurt him to hear you say it.”

 

I nodded mutely, not trusting my voice and also not wanting our conversation to be heard by the vampires in the house. I parked the car, resisting the urge to spin the tyres on the gravel as I came to a halt , no need to provoke him further.

 

I threw the keys to Alice who caught them gracefully and we walked into the house together. I instantly swept the entrance way for any sign of Edward, but I couldn’t see him.

 

Come on, we are getting ready in my room.” Alice said, her small hand tugging on mine.

 

I grumbled but relented, allowing the tiny vampire to pull me upstairs. I think that she knew, that if I really wanted to, that I could fight her on it. So I allowed her to get her way, for now.

 

A lice pulled me into a room that I hadn’t been in befor e, and it was so clearly Alice and Jasper’s space. It would be obvious even without their scents overwhelming my senses. A large four poster bed stood in the centre of the room, a plush home-made looking quilt covered it. Leather furniture was in front of the large pane glass windows, and there was another door that must have lead to a bathroom or walk in closet. There were book cases on the other wall, filled with books and records. There was also an easel set up in the corner, a half finished painting sitting on it. It wasn’t the same neutral beige that the rest of the house was painted with, rather the walls were a warm burgundy with a white trim.

 

A lice more or less pushed me down and into a chair that was in front of a large vanity mirror. I turned my head to see Esme and Rosalie come into the room.

 

Hello Bella.” Esme said warmly, in her hands she held a basket of bright blue and purple flowers. They were shaped like small bells, each stem holding half a dozen or so small blooms. Wolf’s Bane. Noticing where my eyes had gone Esme said I managed to find some, for the wreaths.” She seemed proud and I couldn’t help but smile back.

 

Thanks,” I then looked at Rosalie, “Hi, Rosalie.” I tried to greet her warmly, but I could tell it came across strained. I wasn’t entirely sure what her issue with me was, and Edward had refused to tell me. I was determined though that I would break through her icy exterior.

 

Hi,” she huffed out, clearly not pleased to be here.

 

I sighed and tried to not let her sour mood infect me. Esme placed the basket of flowers on the vanity and she and Alice started work on my hair. Their cool fingers worked at a human pace, slowly braiding it in intricate patterns. I kept my head as still as I could as I reached for some of the Wolf’s Bane. I bit my lip as I slowly started to weave the fragile stems into each other. One snapped under my fingers and I couldn’t help the annoyed growl that rumbled in my chest and echoed around the room. I threw the flower to the side, frustrated at myself.

 

God,” Rosalie sighed and I looked at her as she rose from her seat across the room and came over to me, “Here, let me help you or it will never get finished.” she muttered. She took a couple of the flowers and started to weave them together with careful and agile fingers. Rosalie frowned as she worked, her lips pulled tight in a stiff line. I couldn’t tell if it was a frown of concentration or if she was just annoyed at having to help me.

 

You don’t have to help me, Rosalie.” I murmured as I took a flower and tried to mimic her delicate movements. “I’m not going to pretend to understand why, but I know you don’t like me.” I muttered down at my work.

 

I heard her sigh and I tried to turn to get a better look at her but Alice’s small but strong hands kept my head from moving. I looked at her from the corner of my eye as she spoke, never stopping her intricate weaving.

 

I don’t not like you, Bella.” Rosalie spoke slowly, her eyes never leaving the flowers.

 

I couldn’t stop the scoffing sound that huffed out of me. Was it a side effect of their odd diet? Was that why all these vampires were entirely strange and completely contrary. Why couldn’t they just say what they mean? “ Really?” I mumbled,

 

I continued to look at Rosalie, her shoulders slumped a little bit and she stopped her work. She placed the half-formed wreath in her lap and looked at me in my eye. “ You’re important to Edward, and Edward’s important to me.” She said, a ghost of a smile pulling at her lips. “It’s a me problem, not a you problem.” Her golden eyes crinkled a little at the edges in amusement as she used my own words against me. “ I’m very protective of my family, Bella.” She said as she went back to work.

 

R osalie had clearly decided that our conversation was over. I didn’t mind, and I kept glancing to her wreath as I weaved my own. She was a lot better at it then I was and it was helpful to have her sitting so close so I could copy her movements. Even working at a human pace, she was faster then me. I didn’t mind, I also didn’t mind the silence that fell around our little group.

 

A fter a few hours of careful work, at slow and deliberate human speeds, we had all finished our tasks. I wondered why the vampire women worked at a human speed. Was it for my benefit? The only reason I didn’t rush through my wreath was because I knew if I tried that I would snap too many flowers and we wouldn’t have enough. I placed my finished wreath on the vanity and looked up at the mirror.

 

Whoa.” I couldn’t stop the small gasp from coming out of my mouth. Alice and Esme had braided small locks of my hair in loose patterns against my head, before the ends fell loose and tangled with the remainder of my hair. The rest of my hair fell around my head and down my back in small waves. I looked like a Celtic princess or something. I looked beautiful.

 

I have a dress for you,” Alice chirped happily, dancing over to the door I saw before. She came back with a beautiful dress. It was a light blue, and I could tell just from looking at it that it would fit me perfectly. I stood up and silently took the dress, and went to get changed in the privacy of her walk in closet.

 

T he dress hung off my shoulders, the neckline was a little low for my liking and showed off a little bit more cleavage than I would usually be happy to show but I didn’t mind it too much . It clung to my body before it swirled out in a skirt that fell to my shins. I couldn’t help the stupid grin that came over my face as I walked back into the room and the waiting vampires.

 

Alice’s grin mirrored my own as she clapped happily, “You look great!”

 

E sme smiled warmly at me, “You do,” she agreed. While I had left the room she had collected the small wreaths Rosalie and I had made and tied them together with twine, creating a stunning flower c rown. She crossed the room and placed it on my head, “There, now you’re ready for the party.” She announced.

 

Just wait here a second while we go get ready, alright?” Alice said as she levelled with an intense look that said that I had better stay put or else. I nodded mutely and the three vampires sped from the room with a blur of vampiric speed.

 

I sat back down in front of the vanity. I couldn’t really believe that the girl in the mirror was me. My brown hair braided back, long locks falling around my face, the beautiful and intricate Wolf’s Bane crown on my head. I looked like a woman out of a fairy-tale.

 

Ready?” I was startled by Alice’s question and turned to look at her. She was standing in the door-way, wearing a dress similar to my own.

 

I nodded, “Yeah.”

 

I silently followed Alice, walking behind her. My bare-feet felt cold against the hardwood floors as we slowly made our way down the stair-case and through the house. Alice opened the glass back door and I looked up from the ground for the first time.

 

My breath caught in my throat.

 

The sun had just started to set and red and orange haze streaked across the clouds like a mess of water-colour. The Cullen’s back-yard had been transformed. Their large dinning room table had been moved and placed in the centre of the yard, large candles were lit and covered the table in their dancing flames. A few dishes of food were placed in the middle of the table. It was all sweet and decadent food. Platters of fresh fruit, cheese and fancy meats. I couldn’t help but eye a particularly delicious looking cheesecake. Dozens of candles also covered the lawn, marking out space around the table and another small area off to the side. The flickering flames cast shimmering shadows across the yard.

 

T he rest of the Cullen’s were there, the women were wearing dresses similar to my own and Alice’s, light and airy and soft blue in colour. The Cullen men were impeccably dressed, their outfits similar to each other but still slightly different . Tan coloured slacks, and light blue button ups, that were mostly unbuttoned. When my eye’s met Edward’s I couldn’t stop the fierce blush that coloured my cheeks. A sliver of setting sunlight broke through the cloud cover and danced across Edward’s face in a glorious display of colour and light. His shirt was unbuttoned and I could see his chest peaking out at me. I cocked my head to the side as my eye caught a flash of colour around his neck. I quickly realised what it was. Edward had taken the piece of sea-glass I had given him and woven it into a thin strip of twine and was wearing it around his neck.

 

I heard someone clear their throat and I turned to see my Dad staring at me with an amused expression. My giddy love-struck smile broke into a happy grin when I saw him. His brown hair that was usually carefully groomed back was now left to fall around his face in little curls and ringlets, he had trimmed back his beard a bit so it was now just light stubble across his jaw and cheeks. He wore an outfit similar to the Cullen men, but instead of a shirt he was wearing a worn leather vest, closed with only one button. He looked younger, happier.

 

I trotted down the wooden steps and over to my Dad, pulling him into a hug. “ Hey, Dad.” I mumbled.

 

Hey, Bella.” He greeted back, “You ready?”

 

I nodded against his chest before pulling back. I looked up at my father as he motioned the Cullen’s forward. I turned my head to see the vampires come around us in a loose semi-circle. Their faces were a mix of curiosity and excitement. I wondered if Charlie had told them any details. Knowing him probably not. He was closed off in nature, kept to himself. Part of me knew it was because he had spent so long alone, but part of me also thought it was because he liked to get people off kilter.

 

C harlie produced a small metal bowl, the bronze was old and tarnished. The sides embossed with the cycles of the moon. I smelt it before I saw it. Inside was a thick paste made of the same flowers I wore around my head. A deep dark purple in colour, mixed with gods knew what, to create a special type of body paint.

 

I stood in front of Charlie, looking up at him as I waited for him to speak.

 

Well, this is pretty unusual.” He chuckled as he looked over my head at the vampires around us, “And I haven’t done this in a very long time, but here it goes.” he smiled lovingly down at me. He tone shifted into the same serious cadence he always used when re-telling our stories. “When the gods realised the power our people held, they feared us. They worried that we would grow in size and number, and overthrow their claim on existence.” He paused as he dipped two large fingers into the paint, “So they cursed us, turned us into mindless wolves. The moon goddess saw this injustice and was enraged, she claimed our people as hers.” His fingers swiped across my forehead and curled down the sides of my face. Streaks of purple paint now covered my forehead, and curled up around my cheekbones. “She came to the wolves, and taught them how to turn back into men.” He smiled down at me, eyes glowing with pride. “Tonight, we celebrate Isabella Swan and welcome a new wolf into the pack.” He carefully handed the bronze bowl to me. “May the moon and the stars light your path.” He murmured.

 

I couldn’t contain the tears that welled in my eyes, the strength of my fathers love and pride swelled in my own chest. I covered my fingers in the paint and copied his movements on his face. I couldn’t contain the watery giggle that escaped as my fingers brushed against his bristle d cheek and his facial hair became mattered with the purple pigment. “ May her light always find you, even on the darkest of nights.”

 

H e nodded sol emnly at me, and I turned to my right and met Carlisle’s curious gaze . I took a few steps and stood in front of him. I gestured to the paint in my hand, and he nodded his consent. I coated my fingers again and carefully traced the pattern over Carlisle ice cold skin. “May the moon and the stars light your path.” I murmured reverently.

 

C arlisle paused for a moment, and the drying paint crinkled as he frowned in thought. Yup, Charlie didn’t explain a fucking thing. I fought the urge to turn and give Charlie a ‘seriously? What the fuck?’ look as I waited for Carlisle to reply.

 

May her light always find you, even on the darkest of nights.” He eventually replied, his tone was very serious and I could tell he was putting every ounce of respect he could muster into the words.

 

I nodded to him and turned and took a step towards Esme who was standing next to him. I repeated the ritual of words and paint with her, and I could tell she was holding herself back so she wouldn’t reach forward and hug me.

 

N ext was Emmett, and I had to reach up on my tippy-toes to smear paint across his forehead. We repeated the words to each other and then I moved on, walking around the half-crescent shape until I was in front of Rosalie.

 

You don’t have to.” I murmured softly, giving her one last chance to back out.

 

I know.” She said with a short nod, taking a minuscule step towards me.

 

May the moon and stars light your path.” I whispered as I traced the path across her forehead and delicate cheeks.

 

May her light always find you, even on the darkest of nights.” She replied, a hint of a smile toying at her lips.

 

I continued my slow and careful walk around the half circle, stopping in front of a grinning Alice. I said the words as I smeared paint across her pixie features, and she chirped her reply happily back to me.

 

After I had marked Jasper’s face with the purple paint, he smiled and drawled the words back at me. I could clearly see how the happiness of those around him was effecting him, his eyes seemed glazed as if the atmosphere around him was intoxicating.

 

I finished my walk and sto od in front of Edward, he had been standing to my left during the entire thing and he was my last stop. His golden eyes brimmed with wonder and reverence. “ Hi.” He whispered out, barely a breath of air leaving his lips.

 

I bit my lip against my growing grin as I swirled the paint with my fingers, “ May the moon and the stars light your path.” I murmur ed softly as I traced the pattern over his forehead, down the sides of his face, before swirling them back under his sharp cheekbones.

 

May her light always find you, even on the darkest of nights.” he whispered back.

 

E dward’s hands had drifted from his sides, one rested on my hip and the other ghosted over my own cheek as I finished my work on his. My hand fell from his face and I lost control over myself when my eyes met his again. The bronze bowl fell from my hands and landed on the wet grass with a dull thud. Edward’s hand that rested on my hip pulled me close against him as he bent down and crashed my lips against his.

 

I forgot myself, where I was and who I was with as I lost myself in Edward’s touch. The hand that was still damp with paint was pressed against his chest, staining his shirt with dark purple, the other reached up and cupped the back of his head, fingers tangling in his hair. My heartbeat thudded in my ears as my tongue ghosted over Edward’s bottom lip and I felt a soft purr build in his chest.

 

I was pulled out of the paradise that was Edward by the sound of an earsplitting howl . I pulled away from Edward, but kept myself in his arms as I saw my Dad throw his head back in a thunderous howl. A grin split my face as I drew in a deep breath, and I threw my head back as I let a completely animal sound escape my human lips. Our howls modulated and harmonised as they echoed in the night air around us. We quietened down our display and I pulled myself from Edward’s arms to go to my Dad. I could feel the dried paint crinkle and crack as I smiled and laughed as I threw my arms around Charlie’s neck, pulling him into a hug.

 

I could feel his bushy smile against my cheek a s he whispered mischievously in my ear, “Lets show these vampires how to party.”

 

 

C arlisle wasn’t completely happy, my Dad had refused to tell him the exact ingredients to the Blood Wine. He had promised Carlisle that there was no human blood, or anything else that Carlisle might consider dangerous. It was enough to persuade him to open the bottles and pour each member of his family a small wine-glass full, but I could tell he wanted to know specifics. It was just Carlisle’s nature to be curious, I suppose.

 

W e sat around the large wooden table, each Cullen very carefully holding a glass of Blood Wine in their hands and I held a glass filled with Monkshood Wine. Charlie sat at one head of the table and Carlisle sat at the other. I was sitting to Charlie’s right, with Edward next to me. My wine looked like a strange purple Rosé in comparison to the dark deep crimson of Edward’s drink.

 

Charlie stood up, raising his drink. To Bella! And to a new, and utterly unusual pack!” He grinned and took a large drink from his glass.

 

I raised my own glass and sipped it. I had started to become more used to the strange wine, and it didn’t taste like sour gasoline to me anymore. It was still sour and bitter, but I could detect notes of sweetness to it also as well as strange notes of citrus. I put my glass back on the table and looked around, Edward was smiling but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. I frowned at him and put a comforting hand on his forearm, I tried to ignore the tingling fire in my fingertips as my hand touched his exposed skin. “ You don’t have to, Edward.”

 

H is nos trils flared as he took a sniff at the wine and then slowly, and very carefully took a sip of the crimson fluid. He blinked in surprise, and a slow smile pulled at his lips. “Tastes… good.” he murmured.

 

I could hear Charlie chuckling at him and I shot him a warning glare as the rest of the vampires hesitantly tasted the Blood Wine. I could see the mischievous glint in my father’s eye grow as he stood and watched the vampires try the win e, and he smiled broadly at me. I had never seen my dad look so… young . I knew that werewolves stopped ageing in their early to mid-twenties, but Charlie always seemed to look so much older than that. I could see it now though, in the way his cheek twitched in an effort to hide his laughter, the curls of brown hair falling around his face and hiding the streaks of purple paint on his forehead, he look ed completely free of whatever burdens he usually held.

 

Most unusual.” I heard Carlisle murmur as he held the glass of wine up to the flickering light of a candle, as if he would be able to see something hiding there in the dark red liquid.

 

 

I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked when I saw Emmett gulp down his wine in a single motion, he dropped his hand to the table with a bang and I was slightly worried that he was going to break it. “Wooo! Yeah! Emmett hollered, his eyes bright with excitement.

 

C harlie laughed loudly, clearly egged on by Emmett’s reaction and he reached for the bottle of wine and poured the vampire another helping, before pouring himself some more Monkshood wine. Conversations started to bubble up around me as the vampires talked happily about the wine, I smiled and turned my attention to Edward.

 

How do you feel?” I asked, taking another sip of my wine and smiling as the warmth of it spread through my limbs and muddled my thoughts.

 

Warm,” Edward hummed and I couldn’t help but laugh, “I don’t have any human memories of alcohol,” Edward mused and took another tentative sip of his drink, “But I imagine it to be similar.”

 

 

 

A t some point, someone had turned on a stereo in the house and the light folksy music drifted out to us on the lawn. Alice and Jasper were happily dancing on the grass, Alice’s hands roaming over Jasper’s body with such intensity and with such love that I had to turn away. Even though the touches were completely PG it still felt like an invasion of privacy to watch them. Charlie had taken his drink and sat next to Carlisle at the other end of the table, and I stood up and moved to sit on Carlisle’s other side.

 

What are you two old men whispering about over here,” I joked as I sat down on the seat, taking another drink of my wine.

 

Werewolves” Charlie responded like it was obvious, his eyes didn’t leave Carlisle’s animated face as he answered me.

 

I rolled my eyes, “Of course,”

 

Yes, it’s fascinating, really.” Carlisle responded, his golden eyes seemed slightly glazed and I could see flecks of blue dancing in the gold. “Your father was just telling me how while being a werewolf is genetic, it’s not guaranteed. That humans born to wolves would receive a bite to transform them when they were deemed ready for it. It begs the question of werewolf genetics, and if I could track the genome and see if it were dominate or recessive. What other factors are involved when werewolves have children?” Carlisle was starting to rant, I had never seem him like this and I found it hilarious.

 

I couldn’t stop the giggle that escaped me at the absurdity of it, I had to cut him off. “I think it’s a little more… magical than that.” I laughed. I was about to make a joke at Carlisle’s expense when I felt Edward’s cool breath at my ear.

 

Would you care to dance with me?” He murmured, I could smell the Blood Wine on his breath. It was a strange smell, with the metallic tang of blood was clear and potent, but I could also sense other scents there. Something sharp, hot and spicy was lingering there.

 

My lips curled into a smile as I quickly downed the last of my drink and twisted in my seat, “I would love to.”

 

I stood up and let Edward guide me over to the patch of grass that had become a makeshift dance floor. Alice and Jasper were still dancing, her tinkling giggles floating in the air as Jasper spun her around. I smiled at the pair as I turned into Edward. The music was light and airy, guitars and violins and a thumping base melded together into a folksy tune.

 

Isn’t this too similar to country music for your taste?” I teased as Edward’s hands came to rest on my hips. My arms came up, one snaking around his neck and the other resting on his chest where his heart rested. We started to move to the beat, a little too slow but I didn’t mind.

 

E dward’s nose wrinkled playfully, “I’m willing to put up with it… for you.” he bent down and nuzzled his nose in my hair, causing my flower crown to tilt dangerously on my head. He let out a strained groan, “Ugh, you smell so good.” he murmured.

 

M y hand went up to straighten my flower crown as I pulled back to stare at him. That was new. I wasn’t an idiot, I knew that Edward could smell me, and I figured that I didn’t smell entirely terrible to him since he stuck around me so much. But he had never voiced an opinion about it. An amused smile pulled at my lips as I looked at him mockingly, “ Do I now?” I teased innocently.

 

H e nodded dreamily, “Mm-hmm.” he hummed as he bent to nuzzle into the crook of my neck, breathing deeply. “You smell like…” he sighed happily, “ Strawberries and honeysuckle,” He paused as he took another deep inhale at the pulse point in my neck. I knew I should probably be concerned that a vampire had his mouth so close to my jugular, but I wasn’t. I could still feel the effects of the wine in my body and mind, and I wasn’t sure if my ability to think rationally was impaired or not. Edward’s scent wasn’t helping things either.

 

I placed both hands on his chest and pushed him away slightly, “Stop sniffing me,” I grumbled but I couldn’t stop the small laugh that accompanied it, “ You’d think that you’re the one who turns into a wolf, the way you’ re behaving.” I jested.

 

E dward sighed at the loss of contact but didn’t push the issue, his eyes opened and he smiled at me lovingly. My hand ghosted up and touched the skin under his eyes, “Strange,” I whispered. His eyes were pools of liquid gold, and floating in there were the tiniest flecks of green. If you weren’t close to him, and weren’t staring at his eyes as intensely as I was, they would have gone unnoticed.

 

What is strange, my love?” Edward hummed happily,

 

There is green in your eyes.” I whispered, my fingertips still tracing circles around his eyes and over his paint covered forehead. “I saw flecks of blue in Carlisle’s earlier.”

 

Edward got a distracted look on his face before he said, “My eyes were green when I was human.”

 

I could feel the wine in my system burn off and my head cleared as sobriety returned. I took Edward’s hand off my hip and started to lead him towards the table w h ere our fathers were in a heated discussion. Esme was sipping at her wine, swirling it in the glass occasionally a s she listened to the pair. Every now and again she would reach out and caress a lock of Carlisle’s hair, staring at him lovingly.

 

But, Bella.” Edward complained as we crossed to lawn, “I want to dance with you.”

 

The Boston Tea party was not an act of terrorism!” Charlie’s voice drifted over the music and other conversations. A smirk was pulling at his lips but it was clear he was trying to keep his face serious.

 

It was a violent protest against the government, where personal property was destroyed.” Carlisle argued in a strange aristocratic tone as he sipped at his wine, his eyes were glazed and much like Charlie he was hiding a playful smirk on his lips.

 

I was there!” Charlie exclaimed, “And it was an amazing act of patriotism.” He slammed his open hand against the table for emphasis, losing the battle with his face he broke out into a grin.

 

“Uh, as much as I would hate to break up… whatever this-” I said with a waving gesture at the two men, “is. I do have a question.”

 

Charlie chuckled and turned to face me, “What can I do for you, daughter of mine?”

 

“Edward’s eyes have flecks of green in them.” I said, pulling Edward forward.

 

Charlie laughed and waved a hand at me, “That’s just the Blood Wine. A vampire’s eyes will get bits of whatever colour their eyes were when they were human.” He looked at me and saw that I was not amused, “It’s nothing to worry about, and will go away when the wine works through his system.” He stood up and grabbed a glass and filled it with Monkshood wine, “Now you are far too sober for this sort of celebration,” He admonished as he handed me the drink. “Go have fun with your friends, I’m gonna keep fightin’ with this Red-coat.” Charlie winked at me as he sat back down with Carlisle.

 

I frowned at my father but took a sip of my drink anyway. The eye colour thing probably should have been brought up before now. That was just like Charlie though, keeping things close to his chest. I sighed as I took another drink, turning to look at Edward. “Did you want anything more to drink?” I asked glancing over my shoulder at the table, the first bottle had been emptied and the second was open but seemed barely touched.

 

“I just want to hold you,” He murmured as he pulled me back to the empty patch of grass. Alice and Jasper were no longer dancing. I could see them a ways away with Emmett and Rosalie. Jasper was laying on the grass on his side with his head propped up on his elbow. He was smiling lovingly at Alice who had tied her dress between her legs and was giggling as she did dainty handstands on the grass. I smirked as I watched Emmett attempt to copy Alice’s movements, but he didn’t have the same sense of balance or skill as Alice and he fell heavily on his back. Rosalie rolled her eyes at her mate’s antics, but an amused smirk was on her face as she laid down on the grass where Emmett had fallen. She rested her head on his stomach and Emmett’s hands started to comb through her blonde locks.

 

“Lets go hang out with your siblings.” I replied as I pulled Edward over to the group.

 

“Bella!” Emmett crowed as we approached, raising a hand in greeting.

 

“How are you all going?” I asked, I was relaxing back into Edward as his arms curled around the front of my body. I sighed contently at the contact, placing my hands on his arms.

 

“We’re goin’ alright,” Jasper drawled lazily as he continued to watch Alice who was now doing cartwheels across the grass.

 

“This has actually been pretty fun,” Rosalie remarked, as if she was surprised by the fact. She met my eyes with her own and smiled, the dark purple paint on her forehead crinkling as she did.

 

I was going to reply, to thank her for joining in, but I could feel Edward’s strong arms pull me away from his siblings. I felt him turn my body towards his as he continued to pull us back to the soft spot of grass that was covered in the dancing shadows of fire light. I looked up at him through my lashes as he took my drink from my hand and gently placed it on the ground, his fingers then curled around my wrists and brought my hands up around his neck. I could see a slow, soft smile tugging on his lips as his arms coiled around my body, one hand resting on the small of my back and the other on my hip.

 

Edward had never been one to shy away from physical connection, but until now every touch he had initiated had been careful and deliberate. Completely traditional, boarding on conservative in nature. The way Edward held me now, was anything but conservative.

 

The hand he had on the small of my back pulled me close to him, until my warm body was pressed against his icy cold chest. I could feel my breath catch in my throat, and the heat rush to my head. The wine and Edward’s closeness was absolutely intoxicating, and I was unable to do more then allow myself to be slowly moved in time to the slow music drifting from the house.

 

Edward slowly dipped his head down, his nose brushed against my neck as he breathed in my scent. I allowed myself to do the same, a soft whining sound emanating from my chest as I did so. I felt his breath on my neck as he let out a soft chuckle, “I love your lips when they’re wet with wine/ And red with wild desire.” He breathed gently in my ear. I went to move back so I could look at him and show him my confused expression at his words, but his arms held me fast against his body as he continued. “I love your eyes when the love-light lies/ lit with passionate fire.” He paused and I could feel him nuzzle against me as his hand traced small circles on my back. “I love your arms when the warm white flesh/ touches mine in a fond embrace. I love your hair when the strands enmesh/ your kisses against my face.”

 

I let myself relax against him, and listened to his lovingly murmured words as his cold breath caused goose-pimples to rise on my exposed shoulders.

 

“Not for me the cold, calm kiss/ of a virgin’s bloodless love. Not for me the saint’s white bliss/ nor the heart of a spotless dove. But give me the love that so freely gives/ and laughs at the whole world’s blame. With your body so young and warm in my arms/ it sets my poor heart aflame. So kiss me with your warm wet mouth/ still fragrant with ruby wine. And say with a fervour born of the South/ that your body and soul are mine. Clasp me close in your warm young arms/ while the pale stars shine above. And we’ll live our whole young lives away/ in the joys of a living love.” Edward finished his tender performance, and placed a gentle kiss on the warm spot under my ear.

 

 

I hadn’t realised that as he spoke, the whining noise in my chest had been inflamed into a soft growl. My hands that were still around Edward’s neck tangled in his hair, and I pulled him away from the crook of my neck so I could kiss him. I kissed him hard, my mouth mashing against his. I heard a strangled moan sound in his throat and it spurred me on. I pulled back and placed dozens of fevered kissing over his face and down his jaw. It was my turn now, to nuzzle into the crook of his neck, breathing in a lungful of his heavenly scent. I placed a wet, open mouthed kiss on his neck before I pressed my teeth down into his marble skin.

 

Edward made a small noise of surprise, not quite a grunt but not quite a yelp. He pulled back from me slightly as his hand went to his neck as if to inspect the wound. I hadn’t broken the skin though, but you could still see a soft indent on his skin were I had bitten him.


“You… bit me.” He whispered staring down at me, his eyes twinkling with love and amusement.

 

“And I’ll do it again,” I murmured, my fingers moving through his tousled hair.

 

Edward’s face broke into a toothy grin as he pulled me against him as we twirled in a wide circle, moving faster now with the change of music. “Promise?” He growled softly in my ear.

 

I laughed loudly, throwing my head back and looking up at the stars that peaked through the cloud cover above us. The sky spun overhead as we danced. I didn’t want the night to ever end.

Chapter Text

 

I woke up to the soft muted light of dawn falling on my closed eyelids.

 

The previous night had been a long one, filled with dancing and drinking and the strangest game of Pictionary I had ever played in my entire life. Have you ever tried to create an artistic representation of the movie ‘Happy Feet’ for a bunch of vampires? Believe me, it’s even more difficult than it sounds.

 

E ventually though I couldn’t force myself to stay awake, and I had dragged myself upstairs and to one of the Cullen’s guest rooms. I sighed as I snuggled deeper under the blankets, the wall of windows doing nothing to stop the morning light from disturbing my slumber.


Good morning, Bella.” I heard a soft voice greet me,

 

I couldn’t stop the sleepy smile from blossoming on my face, I rolled over to see Edward standing near the open window. “ Hello,” I greeted as I rubbed my eyes and yawned. I sat up in the plush, oversized bed and looked Edward over. He had clearly showered, the dark purple paint was no longer on his face and he was wearing a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. I suddenly felt embarrassed, I had collapsed into bed last night still in my flowery dress covered in face paint and my hair still in braids. My hand went to my hair now, and I could feel that some of the braids had come half undone in my sleep, the rest of my hair a tangled mess. I groaned and flopped back into the bed, pulling up the covers to hide my face. “ I look like a total mess.” I mo aned.

 

I heard his musical laughter, followed by the feeling of the mattress indenting under his weight as he sat down. He long fingers pulled back the covers so he could look at me, “You look lovely,” he smirked.

 

Uh-huh.” I toned with a dead-pan expression, “How are you feeling?” I asked, trying to change the subject. I had noticed that his eyes had returned to their usual golden hue.

 

Good, we all felt a little… off after the wine wore off,” He frowned a little at this, his lips forming a tight line,

 

And now?” I asked as my hand reached out to touch his cheek bone, my fingertips barely touching his skin.

 

Good, we all went hunting earlier this morning. You needn’t worry.” He said, catching my hand with his own and pressing a soft kiss to my knuckles before placing it on top of the covers.

 

Earlier? It is early isn’t it?” I frowned, looking around for a clock.

 

E dward chuckled, “I suppose it is still early, especially since you went to bed so late last night. You can go back to sleep if you’d prefer.” He stood up as he spoke.

 

I sighed and sat back up in the bed, “ No, I’ll get up. I need to have a shower.” My nose wrinkled and I felt the dried paint on my forehead crackle.

 

Alice left you some clothes in the bathroom.” Edward called as he moved down the hall.

 

I threw the covers off my legs and swung them out of the bed. I stood up slowly and stretched. I’m not sure why but I was expecting to feel… something. Hungover maybe? I had drunken more monkshood wine last night than I ever had before, each time I felt the effects of it dwindling and sobriety returning I had helped myself to a little bit more. The Cullen’s were happily enjoying their inebriation and I didn’t want to be the only sober one at the party.

 

I felt tired, a little sluggish perhaps like my brain was trying to think through a thick fog, but I didn’t feel bad . Nothing like I had heard a hangover to feel like. I was sure if I crawled back into bed and slept for a little while longer that I would be right as rain. I didn’t want to sleep though. I wanted to have a shower and start the day.

 

I plodded down the hall in bare feet and entered the brightly lit bathroom. Sure to his word, Alice had left a bundle of clothes folded neatly for me on the counter top. The bathroom was like the rest of the Cullen house, a strange mix of modern and traditional. The tiles were sleek and modern, large white slate marble, the walls the same. The sink was set into a light wooden counter, that seemed to be floating off the ground against the wall. The bath itself was more traditional, white and copper and sitting proudly on little brass feet. The claw-foot tub would have looked odd in such a modern setting but coupled with the antique lights hanging above it seemed to all come together nicely.

 

I was tempted to draw myself a warm bath and soak for a while. The bath at Charlie’s was small and wasn’t that great when it came to a relaxing soak. This one though? It was large and inviting and I was definitely going to spend some time marinating myself in it.

 

J ust not today. I would have to find another reason to take advantage of it in the future, though I was sure that if I just asked Edward he wouldn’t deny me.

 

I stripped off my dress, the light blue fabric was now stained with bright green grass stains as well as a large blotch of purple on the skirt where Emmett had thrown a handful of mulberries at me the night before. I crinkled my nose at it. I was sure I would never have occasion to wear the dress again, but I still hoped the stains would come out.

 

I turned the brass knobs of the shower and steam filled the bathroom as the water heated up. I took my time as I waited for the water to come to my desired temperature and carefully plucked out the braids in my hair. Once that was done and the room was thick with steam I stepped into the shower, letting the steaming hot water cascade over my body. I eyed a wash-cloth that sat next to the body soaps, but eventually decided against using it. I wasn’t sure if it was put there for me or if it belonged to somebody, and I didn’t really feel like using a wash cloth that belonged to someone else. I resigned to using my hands to scrub the liquid body soap into my body, scrubbing at the dried paint on my face. Once I felt like I was clean, I hastily washed my hair, using my fingers to comb through the tangled mess.

 

I turned off the shower and quickly dried myself off. I unfolded the pile of clothes to see a pair of dark boot-cut jeans and a dark purple button-up blouse . They were not my clothes, but I could tell that they would fit me perfectly.

 

O nce dressed I made my way downstairs, following the delicious scent of fresh coffee. I walked into the kitchen to see Esme working away happily, “Good morning, dear.” Esme greeted me as she wiped her hands on her apron. Vampire in an apron, that will never look normal to me. “ I’ve made you some coffee, Edward says you like it black?” she said as she poured me a cup.

 

I sat down at the island bench and took the cup gratefully, “I do, thank you Esme.” I took a sip and audibly moaned at the taste, it was smooth and delicious and probably the best cup of coffee I had ever had. “ How is it that a vampire can make the best cup of coffee I have ever tasted?” I raised an eyebrow at Esme.

 

E sme’s tinkling laugh echoed around me and she waved her hand in an oh you gesture, “I am also making you some waffles,” she declared as she went back to her work, leaving no room for argument.

 

Where’s my dad?” I asked as I sipped at my coffee,

 

He left for work already, he didn’t want to wake you.” Esme replied as she poured batter onto a waffle iron.

 

Hey! The werewolf’s finally awake!” I heard Emmett’s voice boom and I turned in my seat to see him come into the kitchen, Rosalie following behind him.

 

Hey Emmett, Rosalie.” I smiled, “Where have you two been?”

 

Hunting,” Rosalie replied, her nose twitching at the scent of human food in the room. “A hangover is a lot different as a vampire,”

 

I frowned, “Sorry,” I mumbled into my cup.

 

Emmett laughed loudly, coming over and whacking me on the back with enough force that I spilt coffee all over the island bench, “Don’t be sorry! It was the most fun I’ve had in decades!”

 

I groaned at the mess in front of me and the feeling of a large hand-shaped bruise forming and healing at the same time on my back where Emmett had hit me. “Ugh, dude seriously?” I grumbled as I grabbed some napkins to wipe up the mess.

 

“Emmett Cullen,” Esme scolded and threw a dish cloth at the large vampire, “Help clean this up right now.”

 

I smirked as I looked up at Emmett, his face falling in a remorseful frown. I fought back a snicker as I continued to mop up the coffee and Emmett did the same with the dish cloth. We had just finished when Esme placed a large plate of waffles in front of me, piled high with fresh fruit and cream. “You spoil me too much, Esme.” I murmured as I took in the gluttonous feast in front of me.

 

“You deserve it,” I heard Edward say from behind me and I jumped slightly, startled by his sudden appearance.

 

“For fucks sake, Edward!” I admonished, “You have to stop sneaking up on me like that!”

 

“Language,” Esme chided gently as she poured me some more coffee.

 

I felt a blush rush to my cheeks, it was the first time Esme had scolded me for my foul language, and it felt strange, parental.

 

“Yeah Bella, language.” Emmett teased,

 

I narrowed my eyes at him in a mock glare and he left the room laughing loudly.

 

“I would stop sneaking up on you, but it’s just too much fun.” Edward teased as he sat down next to me while I ate.

 

An annoyed growl rumbled in my chest but was lost around the food in my mouth, “I’ll show you. Mark my words, vampire, I will get you back.” I mumbled around my food. My futile attempt at a threat vanished as a smudge of whipped cream got stuck on the corner of my mouth.

 

“Oh yes, you’re absolutely terrifying.” Edward replied sardonically with a soft chuckle as his cool finger swiped the drop of whipped cream from my face.

 

 

XxXx

 

There was only a few days left remaining of spring break, and I didn’t want to go back to school. I knew I only had a few months until the end of the school year but it still felt too long. I enjoyed spending the days with Edward and his family. Sometimes Edward and I would walk through the woods near his house, talking about nothing and everything. Other times I would hang out with his siblings, even Rosalie joined in every now and again and I quickly discovered that I may have met my match when it came to Weichi.

 

That’s where I was at the moment, sitting on the floor cross-legged in front of the coffee table staring intently at the Weichi board. Rosalie and I had been engaged in a heated battle for a couple of hours now, and a fierce silence had fallen around us a while ago.

 

“If you just-” I heard Edward whisper from his spot on the sofa behind me.

 

I reached back and slapped his leg sharply, “I don’t need any of your mind reading shenanigans, thank you very much.” I bit out as I gingerly placed my stone on the board.

 

A confident smirk pulled at Rosalie’s lips and I watched warily as she made her move. I couldn’t quite figure out her game plan yet, but if her reactions were any indication I was falling deeper and deeper into her trap. “So sneaky,” I whispered to myself as I looked over Rosalie’s stones. I heard her laugh lightly under her breath and I felt the heat of embarrassment rush up my neck and colour my face.

 

I suddenly heard an excited squeal from upstairs. I craned my head to stare at the ceiling as if the plane white surface could offer me any answers. I heard Edward chuckle behind me and I twisted to see him shaking his head in mirth, “It’s just Alice.” He said as if that explained everything.

 

“You do realise that doesn’t actually explain anything, right?” I asked with a roll of my eyes.

 

Rosalie snickered behind her hand, “You’d be surprised by how much it actually does explain,”

 

In a blur and a cold gust of wind Alice was in the room with us, “There is going to be a thunder storm later!” she chirped happily, clapping her hands together.

 

It was like Alice had said the magic words and suddenly all the vampire’s in the house were activated. Rosalie’s face lit up like a Christmas tree and she disappeared out of the room in a flurry of movement. I heard Emmett’s rebounding hollering from upstairs and I turned and stared at Edward in confusion as he grinned down at me.

 

“Are one of you gonna fill me in? Or is this just more vampire nonsense?” I muttered at Edward as I pulled myself off the ground.

 

Edward laughed and stood up as well, “A thunderstorm means baseball.” He explained.

 

Baseball. Of course. “Is that why Alice gave me a baseball jersey last week?” I asked shifting on my feet nervously. I was hoping I wouldn’t be expected to play, baseball didn’t interest me in the least. Although I was a little bit interested to see vampire baseball, that would undoubtedly be more interesting.

 

Edward chuckled and shook his head giving Alice a disbelieving look, “Probably, love. Probably.”

 

“It’s at home,” I murmured, wondering if I really needed to wear it if I wasn’t even going to be playing. “It’s a shame Charlie is working, he would have loved to see Vampire baseball.” I sighed,

 

“Maybe next time,” Edward murmured as he bent down to press a chaste kiss against my lips.

 

“Do I have to play?” The question sounded whiny even to my own ears and it caused Edward to chuckle,

 

“Not if you don’t want to, you can be the referee.” He soothed with a mirthful smirk on his face. He turned to Alice, “How much time do we have?”

 

Alice’s expression went blank for a moment before her eyes cleared and she answered, “A while, but unless Bella wants to shift you guys should head out in Emmett’s jeep now. We will run out and meet you.”

 

I crinkled my nose at the suggestion of shifting, while it was nice to know that I could shift out-of-phase I didn’t want to unless I absolutely had to. That shit hurt. “Let’s take Emmett’s jeep.” I said before Edward could answer for me.

 

 

Edward led me to the Cullen’s garage and opened the door to Emmett’s monster jeep. I grabbed the safety bar inside the cab and used it to haul myself into the passenger side. “Why can’t I drive?” I grumbled, mostly to myself.

 

“Because you don’t know where you’re going.” Edward replied easily as he got into the driver’s seat.

 

“You just don’t like me driving.” I accused,

 

“Can you blame me after the rough treatment you gave my Volvo?” He teased as we pulled out of the garage and started down the winding driveway.

 

“I swear sometimes I think you love that car more than you love me.” I playfully accused Edward, giving him a light shove on his shoulder.

 

“Never,” He rebuked, catching my hand and kissing it gently.

 

We travelled down the road for a little while before Edward turned sharply, seemingly driving straight into the woods. It took me a moment to realise that he was following a mostly hidden track. The further we travelled the bumpier the track became and I had to hold one hand on my seat belt and the other braced against the support bar to stop myself from bouncing around in the cab.

 

Laughter and giddy giggles escaped my lips as we traversed the rough goat track of a road. I looked over at Edward to see him smirking and glancing over at me every now and again. He seemed to enjoy my laughter and as if he could read my mind he revved the engine and pushed the jeep faster.

 

I squealed as I bounced around, laughter peeling out my lips and making my stomach hurt. I had never done anything like this before, but it was a lot of fun and I would have to convince Emmett to let me try driving this monster of a car at least once.

 

The car slowed and Edward eventually pulled to a stop, turning off the engine. I was slowly catching my breath as the last of my laughter faded, I took a deep calming breath and looked at Edward giving him a wide toothy grin.

 

“Have fun?” He asked, raising one eyebrow.

 

I let out another breathy laugh and nodded, “Yeah that was crazy,”

 

“Come on, we’re on foot from here.” He opened the door and jumped out of the jeep. I followed suit and looked around at the dense Washington rain-forest around us.

 

I took a deep breath as I felt my heart rate slow down from the exhilarating car ride. I had been completely engulfed by the scents of my new vampiric family and I felt a peculiar sense of relief now that I was standing in the fresh air of the forest. Moss and decaying wood, pine-needles and the musky scents of small varmints were all I could smell. I opened my eyes and smiled lazily at Edward, waiting for him to show the way.

 

Edward smiled back and walked over to me, and then bent down as if to scoop me up bridle style. I yelp and shoved him away with more force than I intended. Edward fell backwards, landing heavily onto the muddy and mossy ground before skidding a few yard and slamming into a tall cedar tree. He let out a surprised oomph sound when his chest connected with the tree and a few leaves were shaken free from their perches and fluttered down and around the vampire.

 

“What the hell, Bella?” Edward chuckled as he stood up and brushed the dirt and moss from his pants.

 

“What do you think you’re doing?” I squeaked out, rushing over to help him. I hastily brushed off his shoulders and started checking him over to see if I had hurt him.

 

Edward’s gentle chuckle turned into a rumbling laugh as he caught my hands in his own, “Well I was going to pick you up so I could run us to the field.” he smirked at me.

 

“I can run!” I scowled childishly, which only made Edward’s smile grow.

 

“Unless you’re going to shift, you can’t run fast enough.” he countered as that annoyingly attractive and mischievous glint in his eye grew.

 

“So I’m just supposed to let you carry me around like a child?” I grumbled, still not keen on the idea.

 

“That was the general idea, yes.” he cocked his head to the side and he looked me over as if he was considering making me. He seemed to think better of it and instead turned around and crouched down, before looking over his shoulder at me. “Well, hop on.” He grinned.

 

I sighed my frustration but begrudgingly stomped over to him and put my arms around his neck and my legs around his torso. Edward stood up and I rested my head on his shoulder, “Hold on tight, spider monkey.” He teased.

 

“You’re enjoying this way too much,” I muttered into his ear, Edward didn’t respond other than to laugh loudly before he shot off into the woods.

 

The green forest blurred around me as we flew through the trees, I kept myself pressed against Edward’s back tightly as he ran, I didn’t want to fall off at such high speeds. I think Edward was showing off slightly as he pushed himself faster, even though we both knew that I was just as fast as him in my wolf form.

 

The trees became less of a blur of green as Edward slowed his sprint. Eventually we entered a large clearing, and I could clearly see a baseball diamond marked out in the centre. Although it was much larger than any baseball diamond I had ever seen.

 

“What’s this!? Edward’s giving piggy back rides?” Hooted Emmett as he stalked over towards us, playful smile causing dimples to appear on his cheeks. I slid of Edward’s back and instantly felt better once my feet were firmly planted on the ground. “When’s my turn?” Emmett joked once he was closer to us, he moved to jump on Edward but he must have seen it coming in Emmett’s mind and dodged at the last second, shoving him away.

 

I shook my head at the pair and walked across the field towards the rest of the Cullen’s. They were all dressed in matching jersey’s just like the one I had left in my bedroom. I bit my lip as I fought the urge to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

 

“Bella!” Esme greeted with a smile. “You can help me referee.”

 

“She thinks we cheat.” Emmett complained as he came up behind me.

 

“Oh, I know you cheat.” Esme chided with a motherly smile.

 

At some point between getting to the field and walking to his place behind third base, Edward had changed his shirt into a matching baseball jersey. He caught me looking at him and smiled at me crookedly. The rest of the vampires took their predetermined positions around the field and I followed Esme to first base. She crouched down to catch any foul balls and I stood a little to the side, ready to make any judgement calls.

 

Maybe I should have mentioned I didn’t know all the rules of baseball before I allowed myself to be made referee.

 

Rosalie was first up to the plate, and just as a loud crack of lightning appeared overhead and illuminated the cloudy afternoon sky. “It’s time.” Alice trilled from the pitchers mound. Without warning Alice reared back and with the grace of a dancer she threw the ball with breakneck speed. The ball was more of a white blur as it flew towards Rosalie who hit it with the aluminium bat.

 

When the bat connected with the ball, the sound was deafening and reverberated around the field.

 

Now I understood why they needed the lightning.

 

Rosalie threw the bat to the side and took off in a deadly spring around the diamond. I watched hers progress with keen eyes, as she made her way around. Edward’s head snapped towards the woods, his eyes following the path of the ball for a moment before he took off after it. I lost sight of him in the woods before I saw the white blur of the ball appear from the brush. It approached home-base and my eyes flickered between the ball and Rosalie, trying to determine who would make it home first.

 

Esme caught the ball with cupped hands, a split second before Rosalie slid home. They both looked at me to make the call, “You’re out.” I said after a moment.

 

Rosalie scowled at me as she got up off the ground, green grass stains now covering the side of one leg. As she stalked past me I heard a soft grow echo in her throat, and I involuntarily answered it with my own. I could have sworn I saw the corner of her rounded lips curl up in amusement, and when I cocked my head at her, the scowl turned into a devious smirk. Maybe Rosalie was slowly coming around. Between this and the Weichi we may have come to a precarious truce. An uneasy understanding of each other; not quite friends, but not quite enemies.

 

I watched her head back over to her team mates and Carlisle gave her a comforting pat on the back, a fatherly smile on his thin lips. I smiled at the display of casual affection, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of me and Charlie. I still wasn’t exactly sure where I stood with Rosalie, but I could tell that she did more than just tolerate my presence now. I’m not sure if I would go as far as to say she liked me, but I had learned that you can care about people even if you can’t stand them.

 

Maybe I could be the annoying little sister she never wanted, and she could be the mean and aloof older sister that gave me hell but still loved me anyway. My understanding of family dynamics weren’t all that great, and I found myself struggling to find my place. Hopefully I was right about this assumption, and one more piece of the puzzle could be firmly put in place.

 

Carlisle stepped up to the plate with practised ease, giving the aluminium bat a practice swing before he readied himself for the pitch. Alice pitched the ball and the white blur connected with Carlisle’s swing with a thundering boom.

 

Carlisle took off around the diamond, but I could already tell his hit wasn’t going as far as Rosalie’s had. Emmett and Edward were both looking at the ball and launched themselves off the ground to catch it, colliding mid air with a sound that resembled crashing boulders. They fell onto the grass as a tangle of limbs and I could hear Edward’s light laughter and Emmett’s deep rumbling laugh as Edward pushed Emmett off him to grab the ball and rush to third. Carlisle had already made it there by the time Edward arrived, and the game didn’t pause to await for my call.

 

Jasper stepped up next, his blonde curls loose around his face. Alice pitched the ball and the second it left her hand Carlisle was already moving from third, rushing in a blur of movement towards home-base. Jasper hit the ball and took off like a bat outta hell, but I wasn’t looking at him anymore. Alice’s face became blank, her eyes unfocused in an expression I had come to recognise as her having a vision.

 

Alice’s eyes came back into focus and her sharp features twisted in panic, “Stop!” she yelled out.

 

Everyone stopped their movements straight away, and I looked around the group in confusion. Edward looked at Alice, his head cocked to the side as he listened to her thoughts before his face distorted in rage. He turned to look at the forest briefly before he appeared abruptly at my side. “We need to go, Bella. Now.” He bit out between clenched teeth.

 

“It’s too late,” Alice said, her usually chipper voice was now laden with sadness and worry. “They heard our game, and decided to join in. It was a last minute decision. I had no way of seeing it any sooner, I’m so sorry.”

 

It seemed like I was the only one who was confused by what was happening. The rest of the Cullen’s were converging around me and Edward, their postures tall and shoulder’s broad, defensive.

 

“Edward, what the hell is going on?” I muttered as he pulled me to the back of the group.

 

“There have been some nomads in the area, we thought they were leaving.” Edward replied curtly, “Just stay quiet and stay behind me.”

 

A small voice in my head was angry at Edward’s words, the insinuation that I couldn’t look after myself. I couldn’t find it in me to hold onto that anger, to feed it and allow the words to come spilling out of my mouth. All I could think about was the dark-haired nomad with rust coloured eyes that had attacked me and my father. The panic from that memory seemed to be gripping my heart and constricting my lungs, making it hard to breath. I could still hear the pained yelps Charlie had made as he defended me from the vicious vampire.

 

Nomads . Plural. More than one. My ego was dwarfed by my own fear, my unrelenting terror. I swallowed the painful lump forming in my throat and I silently nodded to Edward. I looked up at the rest of the Cullen’s who had their backs to me, prepared to shield me from what was coming. Jasper looked over his shoulder and caught my eye for a moment, and I felt a soft wave of calming reassurance wash over me. I let it calm my nerve s as I took in a shaky breath and s ilently nodded my thanks to him.

 

The wind changed and I smelt them before I saw them. The sickly stench of death and decay wafted through the air. I felt the back of my throat sting and burn as bile fought it’s way up, and I desperately tried to swallow it down and get a handle on my emotion. The pungent scent was so much worse than any of the Cullen’s, and I wondered why I was ever bothered by any of their scents before. It was like I was standing in front of a rotting corpse, the overwhelming odour of a terribly gross, dead thing was all around me now and I didn’t know what to do. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to run. Run fast and run far, before whatever demon who accompanied that scent came into view. I didn’t though, instead I reached down and grabbed Edward’s hand and squeezed it with every ounce of strength I had.

 

I saw them then, over the shoulder’s of the Cullen’ s. Three vampires in tattered clothing and bare feet walked out of the woods and towards ou r group. Their eyes were bright red, a stunning crimson that meant they must have just fed. They moved with supernatural grace, like a pride of lions approaching their prey. The one in front was a dark skinned man with long dark hair pull back in braids, his scarlet eyes flickered over each of the Cullen’s in turn. Walking a step behind him was a woman with fiery red hair that fell around her face in a mane of curls, twigs and leaves stuck in the ringlets. On the other side was a man with angular features and dirty blonde hair pulled back and out of his face, a reptilian smirk plastered on his face.

 

T hey stopped a few yards away, keeping a respectful distance. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from growling and snarling, even now they were just too close .

 

Hello,” Greeted the dark skinned vampire, “My name is Laurent, and this is Victoria, and James.” He continued as he motioned to his two companions. “We were just passing through when we heard your game.” the smile he offered could have been considered polite, friendly even, but I saw the way it didn’t quite reach his eyes.

 

Welcome, my name is Carlisle, and this is my family.” Carlisle responded in an even tone, not offering any more names. “You’re recent activities have been somewhat of an… issue for us.” Carlisle continued carefully, each word deliberate and measured.

 

My apologies, we did not know the territory had been claimed.” Laurent responded as he gestured with his arms, taking a minuscule step forward.

 

Too. Close .

 

You needn’t worry, the local authorities were tacking us, but we led them east” Victoria smirked viciously.

 

L ocal authorities. Charlie. These vampires were the Not-Bears that he had been tracking. My frenzied panic started to give way to a burning anger. Like a raging inferno it filled my chest and pushed away all rational thoughts or fears. These monstrosities had been near my father, had every opportunity to kill him like they had killed those hikers.

 

I could feel a pained tension build in my stomach, pulling at my abdominal muscles. I struggled within myself, fighting against my inner animal instincts. I gnawed on the inside of my cheek in an attempt to stop the feral snarl that I so desperately wanted to let out. Their putrid vampiric odours were thick in the air, and I could hear my inner wolf snarling inside my head. They had been near my Dad, and every part of my being ached with the need to tear them apart for it.

 

 

S omething changed, maybe the wind shifted, or perhaps my rapidly beating heart gave me away but suddenly James’ crimson eyes were locked on mine. His smirk grew as he looked me over, “Ah, I see you brought a snack.” he cocked his head to the side.

 

T here was a symphony of protective growls, each of the Cullen’s shifted slightly to hide me more. I watched them as they all slowly became less themselves and more vampire. Carlisle was the only one to retain any measure of composure. “Bella is part of our family.”

 

J ames took a step forward, now standing in front of Laurent, and Victoria mirrored the motion.

 

Let’s not get carried away…” Laurent started trying to calm down his companions but his words seem to fade away, drowned out by the thumping of my own heart beat in my ears.

 

I could see Laurent trying to dissuade both the Cullen’s and his friends from a fight, but my eyes were fixed on James.

 

He had taken another step closer to us, and the pull in my muscles was reaching through my body and deep into my bones

 

He’s too close.

 

James’ depraved red eyes were shining with joy as he looked over the other vampire’s in front of him. He seemed to get off on the chaos, on the conflict. It was like he wanted a fight. It was outrageous, he must have known he stood no chance. He was grossly out numbered. My family would win without a doubt. But would they all be okay? The part of me that was more animal than human growled in my mind. Would they all make it out unscathed? Or will this beast, this demon, hurt them?

 

I vaguely registered hastily spoken words, but they were nothing more than static to me now, I couldn’t figure out what was being said or who was speaking. The thought of any of them being hurt caused an unbearable agony to wash over my body like a tidal wave. I couldn’t let them get hurt. I wouldn’t let them get hurt.

 

I pushed in front of Edward, placing my hand on his chest I shoved him behind me not looking to see where he landed. I made my way to the front of the group, an animal snarl vibrating in my chest as I pushed and shoved them aside, skilfully shaking off their hands and dodging their attempts to pull me back . I took the final step and now I stood in front of Carlisle, my hands clenched in tight fists at my side. James looked at me with an amused expression and his joy fuelled my fury like gasoline on a wildfire.

 

Stay the fuck away from my family!” I roared at him.

 

I felt something, everything , inside me snap and move. The pain of it sent me lurching forward, and when I landed it was on two dark brown paws. My lupine lips twitched over my fangs as threatening snarls fell from my mouth. I watched as James’ expression shifted from amused to shocked, and I didn’t wait a moment longer before I was running at him.

 

I felt small pieces of my human skin flake off my brown fur as I bounded across the few short yards towards the vampire. When there was only a few yards left I launched myself at him, ferocious growls rumbling in my chest. James’ hands reached up and caught my body as I slammed into him, his claw li ke fingers digging into my flesh, but it couldn’t stop him from falling backwards onto the grass.

 

I dug my talons into his shoulder and chest, pinning him to the ground underneath me. Part of my brain registered other sounds around me. S omeone was screaming my name but I couldn’t tell who. There was growling and animalistic hisses, and the sound of vampire’s colliding like a raging avalanche. None of it mattered, the only thing that held any meaning in this moment was making sure th at this savage monster could never ever hurt my family.

 

M y strong jaws closed around his throat, my fangs slicing through his vampiric skin like a hot knife through butter. Pain, red hot like an iron poker, erupted in my sides as James scratched and mauled my sides in an attempt to stop my assault. I forced myself to ignore the pain, push it away and out of my mind. I reared back, pulling long threads and tendrils of flesh away from my prey. The long disgusting tubes of James’ throat and oesophagus dangled from my jaws and I threw them them to the side as James gurgled in pain.

 

J ames managed to reach up, and he snarled and hissed as he bit down on my neck. I yelped and howled as his vampiric poison corrupted my blood. I flailed my paws, clawing at his chest and shoulders in an attempt to dislodge his mouth from my neck. Eventually, one of my long talons became caught in the corner of James’ mouth, and I yanked my paw down hard. I felt the flesh give way as James released his hold on my neck. I looked down to see his jaw had become dislodged from his face, it hung limply on his face, only remaining in place by a small thread of pale flesh on the other side. My vision had started to become clouded around the edges and I growled in frustration as I bit down on the vampire’s neck again, chomping and twisting eventually I managed to yank his head free from his body.

 

T he hands that were mutilating my sides fell limp, falling to the side and landing heavily on the blood soaked grass. I was panting and I could taste the copper of my own blood in my mouth mixed with the acidic taste of vampire venom.

 

Bella?” Edward’s voice broke through the static haze in my brain, and I looked up to see him standing a few yards away. It was only him and Carlisle there. I did not know where any of the others were, or where James’ friends had gone.

 

N ow that the threat was gone, I could feel my body again and I whined in pain. I reached down and grabbed James’ head by his dirty blonde ponytail, the hair tight between my teeth. I started to move towards Edward, but a blinding pain erupted in my left shoulder at the movement and I yelped, almost losing grip on the severed head I held between my jaws.

 

I huffed out a breath and started to limp towards Edward, the cloudy darkness on the edges of my vision growing larger and darker. It was like I was moving through a deep sludge, every part of my body screamed at me and I could feel the blood still falling from the gashes on my side. I was so close now, almost there. It was becoming hard to breath e , something had snapped in my chest and I could feel it sticking in side me a t wrong angle. More of my own blood started to fill my mouth and fall out the sides as I continued to Edward. My breathing was ragged now, and it felt like I was trying to breathe around an ocean of water. My vision was no more than two pin-pricks now, with Edward at the centre. Everything around me was blurry and black with the fog of agony but Edward was the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

F inally, as if I had been walking for an age, I came to a stop at Edward’s feet. I dropped James’ head on the grass and it landed with a sickening wet thud, before rolling and coming to a halt against Edward’s sneakers.

 

All I could do was release a pitiful whine of pain, barely able to take another breath before the dark fog took over my mind completely. I felt myself fall and slump to the side, and I could barely hear Edward’s worried voice as I descended into the darkness of unconsciousness. I didn’t fight as I felt myself sink deeper and deeper into the inky blackness, the ocean of my mind enveloping me and taking away all the pain.

 

Safe. Edward was safe.

Chapter Text

 

 

I found myself surfacing from the inky blackness, and all I could feel was blinding agony. I tried to call out, beg for help but I choked on something. Something hot and thick and metallic tasting. Blood. I was drowning in my own blood. I attempted to take a breath in, and I sputtered and coughed as the blood gurgled in my throat. I tried to breathe through my nose, I needed oxygen or I was going to black out again. I managed to take a harrowing breath inwards, and I could hear the rattling of my deflated lungs in my chest.

 

“Bella! It’s okay, you’re going to be okay.”

 

Someone was there, but I couldn’t tell who. I tried to move my head to see, but the surge of excruciating pain that accompanied the movement stopped me with another gurgling cry. I tried to blink away the tears, trying to see something anything that would tell me where I was and what was going on.

 

All I could see was a smooth white surface. My eyes darted around in a panic, trying to find any distinguishing features. There . I squinted at the strange shape, and then realised it was a ceiling rose.

 

Carlisle! Help her!”

 

T here was that voice again. I tried to remember who it belonged to, but my memories were lost to me at the moment. Isolated somewhere in the cavernous darkness of my mind, out of reach from me now. All I could think of was the all encompassing pain.

 

I don’t know if I can sedate her.” A different voice was speaking now, filled with a ferocious calm and resounding authority. “Bella, if you can hear me just try to stay still. This is going to hurt a lot, but it will help you breathe.” The second voice spoke louder now, directing the words to me.

 

I tried to look at whoever was speaking. I wanted to know what was going on. I felt cool fingers on my cheek and I glanced to my other side, and was met with dark amber eyes. Edward . I tried to say his name but I couldn’t get a breath into my lungs.

 

Suddenly a new pain erupted on my side, a tearing slice at the top of my rib-cage. I tried to scream as I arched off the table , but cold hands held me down. More pain, a prodding, a pulling. And then swift relief. I managed to gasp in a full breathe of air, and my body cried out at the movement. Sweet oxygen flooded my veins, and I gasped in more much needed breaths.

 

Bella, can you speak?” I heard the second voice ask.

 

N ow that I could breathe, memories of what had happened started to bubble to the surface of my mind in rapid succession. It was like the ocean of my thoughts had started to boil with images of red eyes and dirty blond hair, of growls and hisses and agony previously unknown.

 

I took another breath of air deep into my lungs, fully intent on answering the voice’s question, and asking some of my own. But as I opened my mouth to talk the thick fog of unconsciousness enveloped me again.

 

XxXx

 

Slowly I started to regain consciousness. Immediately I noticed a rapid decline in my pain levels, either I had started to heal or Carlisle had figured out how to sedate a werewolf. My eyelids felt heavy and I couldn’t find the energy to lift them yet, so I focused on my other senses.

 

I tried to twitch my fingers, and my fingers obeyed. I felt something soft underneath my hands, sheets. I was in a bed. That was a good start. I tried to lift my arm from my side to check over my wounds but something was holding me down, a metallic sound clinked at my movement. Chains? Okay, so chained to a bed, not as good as I was hoping.

 

I heard something far away, the sharp sound of shattering glass. Then a familiar booming voice, “Calm down!? You have no right to tell me to calm down!” Charlie, my dad was here. Just knowing that he was here relaxed me, even though I was still chained to a bed. Charlie’s voice was still loud and angry, and he was now yelling in a strange mix of English and Latin. I picked up on a few choice Latin swears and I tried to remember the translations.

 

I heard other mumbled voices, angry but hushed. I moved my other arm, and I heard the same rattling of chains as before. I groaned and moved my legs, and felt the similar coldness of metal on my ankles as I heard the clinking of the chains. I finally managed to open my eyes, and strained to look around. I instantly recognised the room, it was the same guest room I had stayed in before. I was in the same large plush bed, but I noticed thick heavy chains around my wrists, locked with a padlock and disappearing over the sides of the mattress. The room was dark, the only light coming from the crack under the door.

 

T he mumbled voices had stopped, and I stilled my body as I listened intently to the heavy footfalls racing in my direction. I heard the door slam open and I raised my head off the pillows to look, I managed to see Charlie standing in the doorway before I had to drop my head back. Pain pulled at my chest and erupted in my neck at the movement. “ Dad,” I rasped out, my voice broken and throat as dry as sand paper. The room lit up, someone had turned on the ceiling light.

 

Isabella,” He breathed and he was suddenly at my side, kneeling on the ground by the bed and holding my hand.

 

Dad, why am I chained to the bed?” I croaked out,

 

You kept trying to attack Carlisle when he was treating your wounds.” Edwards musical voice answered from my other side and I twisted my head to look at him. I shut my eyes tightly and groaned at the pain from the movement, “Careful, love. You’re still healing.”

 

I slowly opened my eyes, a few tears escaping and falling to land on the pillow under my head. “ Think we could unlock them now?” I whimpered.

 

E dward’s eyebrows furrowed as he paused to look me over, considering my request. He didn’t have the chance to answer before I heard a threatening growl come from my Dad’s chest. “You best unlock these chains before I tear you apart.” He bit out.

 

Dad, it’s okay.” I whispered, slowly turning my head to look at him. I heard movement, and then the sounds of a lock turning before the chains on my hand near Edward disappeared. Moving quickly and quietly, Edward worked to unlock the chains on my ankles and other hand, before returning to my side. I turned back to Edward, his perfect face twisted in pain, “Is everything okay? Was anyone hurt?” I croaked out.

 

E dward shook his head, “Only you.”

 

I sighed in relief and let my head sink back into the pillow. “ Thank the goddess.” I murmured.

 

I heard him release an exasperated sigh, “What the hell were you thinking , Bella?”

 

T hat threw me for a loop and I turned to look at him again. I couldn’t fully understand the look he was giving me, a strange mix of worry and anger. “I-I… Edward, I don’t understand-” I stuttered out, my throat hurting from the effort, “I needed to protect you, to protect all of you .” I stressed.

 

You lost control, Carlisle was getting them to leave. I tried to calm you and you wouldn’t listen.” Edward bit out, anger winning out over concern.

 

I did not lose control!” I argued, raising my voice and trying to sit up on the bed. My chest and abdomen roared in pain, my skin pulling and I gasped out and groaned as I fell back onto the bed. Edward’s hand came up to brush my cheek and I slapped him away. “I was in perfect control.” I growled out, “I remember everything, all of it.” I continued.

 

You almost died!” Edward growled,

 

But I didn’t.” I countered somewhat childishly. I was starting to feel a little guilty for what happened. Had I lost control? I remembered everything that happened with crystal clarity. I remembered Carlisle talking with Laurent, and I remembered the way James’ eyes looked over the Cullen’s itching for a fight, feeding off the chaos. Even if Laurent had managed to get James to leave, he wouldn’t have gone far. He would have come back, again and again, until he got what he wanted. My guilt ebbed and faded as I came to the realisation that I had done the right thing.

 

You followed your gut,” I heard Charlie say from my other side and I slowly turned to look at him, “I’m proud of you,” A small smile tugged at his lips. “But maybe next time be a little more careful, hmm?”

 

I swallowed the lump in my throat, barely able to due to the dryness in my mouth. “Can I have some water?” I whispered hoarsely.

 

Of course,” Edward replied.

 

C harlie’ s arm went out to prop me up as the other m oved pillows around, before he gently laid me back. In this new half-upright position I could see my body properly for the first time since awakening. White bandages were covering my stomach and breasts, spots and streaks of blood had seeped from my wounds and blossomed across the fabric. I raised my hand to my neck where James had bitten me, and I felt that it was covered with a thick gauze.

 

How long has it been? Why aren’t I healing?” I mumbled as I slowly accepted the glass of water Edward was handing to me and taking a small sip. The cool water felt like heaven in my mouth, but scratched at my throat as I swallowed. I grimaced, but forced myself to have another small sip.

 

It’s almost 3am, you’ve been in and out of consciousness for the past 12 hours.” Edward replied, taking the glass of water back when I held it out to him.

 

There is still venom in your blood stream,” Charlie said softly, his large hand taking mine again. “It’s slowing down your healing.”

 

I frowned as I took in their words. I don’t remember waking up, other than that first time in the room with the ceiling rose. Then again, Edward said I had attacked Carlisle when he tried to fix me up and I didn’t remember that either. “ I didn’t hurt Carlisle, did I?” The question left my lips as a hushed whisper, I was afraid of the answer.

 

E dward offered me a comforting smile and shook his head, “No. Though not for a lack of trying.” He smirked at me, clearly trying to lift my spirits with some dark humour. I appreciated the effort.

 

T here was gentle knock on the door and I looked up to see Carlisle standing in the doorway holding a dark leather doctor’s bag in one hand. “ Is now a good time to check in on my patient?” He asked with a kind smile.

 

E dward stood up and bent down and kissed me gently on the forehead, “I’ll be outside,” he said before he ghosted from the room.

 

C harlie stood up, but hesitated, looking between Carlisle and me warily, “I’ll be fine, Dad. Go.” I said. Charlie just nodded and offered a quiet thanks to Carlisle before he followed Edward out to the hall.

 

Carlisle closed the door and slowly made his way over to me, a cautious look in his eye. For the first time since meeting him he wasn’t moving slowly for my sake, to make sure he wouldn’t frighten me, but because he was the one who was frightened. I sighed, “It’s okay Carlisle, I promise not to wolf out on you.” I tried to smile playfully but it probably looked more like a grimace.

 

C arlisle was polite enough to chuckle lightly at my bad joke. He placed his doctor’s bag on the bedside table before looking at me, “How are you feeling?”

 

That was a good question. Compared to how I had felt waking up in the room with the ceiling rose I felt like a million bucks. “ Better.” I replied.

 

C arlisle frowned at that, “You have to be honest with me Bella.” he warned.

 

I am!” I replied hastily, “Compared to how I felt earlier I feel great.” I didn’t feel great. I felt like shit. Every muscle ached, and the wounds under the bandages stung and burned. “Sorry, by the way. Edward said I attacked you. I don’t remember that at all,” I mumbled the last bit.

 

C arlisle smiled as he started pulling things from his medical bag, “It’s quite alright, you were in a lot of pain.” He glanced a look at me before going back to his bag, he eventually pulled out the tools he needed and looked at me, “Is it alright if I sit?” he gestured to the bed,

 

I nodded mutely. Even though he had forgiven me, I still felt terrible for my actions and I couldn’t even remember them. Carlisle slowly sat down on the bed and started to cut away the bandages around my stomach and chest. As the bandages and gauze were removed I felt a small wave of embarrassment rise as I sat there half naked in front of my boyfriend’s father. I gnawed on my bottom lip as I tried to push the feelings away. I mean I was being ridiculous, Carlisle was a doctor.

 

If Carlisle noticed my shame he paid it no mind, which was nice of him. His hands moved in slow clinical motions as he looked over the wound on my stomach. The coldness of his hands felt nice against the burning skin around my wounds, their iciness numbing me slightly.

 

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to look. I knew that James had viciously mauled me, but I didn’t know how bad it actually was. If the pain was any indication though, it was pretty fucking bad. “ How bad is it?” I whispered,

 

Its remarkable how quickly you are healing,” Carlisle said, expertly avoiding my question. “It seems your broken bones are completely healed. One of your ribs had punctured your lung-” Carlisle paused and leaned in closer, listening to something, “But your lungs are fine now and inflating evenly. By the time we had gotten you to the house, most of your internal injuries had already begun to heal, all that was left for me to do was to drain your lung and reset some bones and then stitch you up.” Carlisle raised his head from my mangled body to smile at me.

 

I took a stuttering breath in, finding the courage to look at myself. I glanced down and couldn’t stop the strangled sob that broke out of my lips. My stomach and chest looked disgusting, a horrible mess of crisscrossing stitched up wounds. You could clearly see where James’ hands had ripped at my skin, starting at my sides and narrowing as the gashes approached my sternum. I looked like some terrible horror movie reject. Frankenstein’s monster. I could only imagine how horrible it looked before I had healed some, and before Carlisle stitched the gaping wounds closed. Aside from the mess of wounds, my skin was also a grotesque shade of yellow-green as almost healed bruises bloomed over my skin. “ How-” I stopped as my voice broke around the word, forcing myself to swallow down the lump in my throat and blink away tears that I refused to shed, “How much longer until…?” I left the question hanging, unsure of how to word it.

 

T hankfully Carlisle seemed to understand, “Judging by your current rate of healing, another 12 hours and the stitches will have to come out. I imagine that in a few days, no one will be able to tell that anything happened at all.” Carlisle s miled warmly at me before he started to swipe some ointment over the stitched wounds. My nose wrinkled at the smell of it as well as the slight stinging sensation, my reaction didn’t go unnoticed by Carlisle. “Just something to clean the wounds and aid in healing. I’ve never treated a werewolf before, but I’m not going to take any chances.” He winked playfully at me as he placed some fresh gauze over the wounds and started to wrap bandages around my torso.

 

I tried to be helpful, and hold myself up as Carlisle wound the fresh dressings around my body, but it quickly became too painful so I just let myself be lifted by the vampire doctor. He secured the bandages with some tape before turning to face me, “Last bit,” He said as his cold hands came to my neck and pulled off the sticky gauze that covered the bite mark. I winced as it pulled at my skin but remained still as Carlisle’s cold hands poked and prodded the area. “Extraordinary.” He murmured, but I wasn’t sure if he was speaking to me or about me. “Out of all the wounds, this one has healed the fastest.” He continued in a hushed voice, the words coming out in small breaths as his fingers grazed the skin of my neck. Did he realise he was speaking out loud? Or was he just instinctively speaking his thoughts like some engaged scientist who was enthralled by a new discovery?

 

I loudly cleared my throat and Carlisle seemed almost startled by the noise, his hands flying away from my neck in a blur of speed. “ Is there anything else I can do for you?” Carlisle asked in a kind and doctorly tone.

 

Something to eat?” I raised my eyebrows at him,

 

C arlisle chuckled and shook his head as he put away his instruments, “The fact that you’re hungry is a good sign. I’ll go see what we can do.” Carlisle closed his medical bag and headed back towards the door, when he opened it I could see Edward waiting in the hallway. Carlisle walked into the hall, and placed a comforting hand on Edward’s shoulder. Edward nodded, even though Carlisle didn’t say a word.

 

E dward moved slowly into the room, closing the door behind him before moving to kneel at my bed side. “ Carlisle said you’re going to be okay,” there was still pain in his voice, and the fact I had caused it made my heart ache.

 

I’m sorry,” I whispered and at my words Edward’s eyes rose to meet mine, “I’m not sorry for killing that vampire, but I am sorry for worrying you.” I clarified quickly.

 

E dward sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, I had no idea a vampire could look so exhausted. “ You are utterly infuriating.” he mumbled from behind his hand, he took a deep breath and looked at me once again. Do you have any idea how terrified I was?” He demanded. I opened my mouth to answer but Edward was already speaking again. “Watching you leap at James like that, seeing hi m dig his hands into you I-” Edward’s voice broke and tears welled in his eyes, tears he couldn’t shed. A gut-wrenching sob escaped his lips and rocked his body, I reached out to him and placed my hand on the side of his face. He leaned into my touch and took a shuddering breath before continuing. “I thought I was going to lose you. I wouldn’t survive it if you died, Bella… you have to promise me that you will never do anything like that again.”

 

T he wounds that James had inflicted on me w ere nothing in comparison to the agonising heartache that I felt in that moment. Seeing Edward in such a state was almost more than I could b ear , and I would do anything in my power to ease his sorrow. I could feel hot and heavy tears streak down my face but I didn’t do anything to try and stop them. Edward,” I whimpered out, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”

 

I didn’t think it possible, but Edward looked more pained than he did before and the sight of it se nt heavy sobs throughout my aching body. My hand fell from his face and grasped his shirt in a tight fist and I tried to pull him closer to me. Edward resisted so I pulled harder, I would have torn the shirt from his body if he didn’t relent and allowed himself to be pulled onto the bed. Edward slowly manoeuvred himself so he had one arm around the back of my waist and the other was resting on my still clenched fist. I brought my other hand to his chest and grasped the fabric there as well, trying to do everything I could in my weakened state to make sure he wouldn’t go anywhere. I breathed in his scent and once the sobs had slowed down, Edward spoke again.

 

Why?” It sounded like a plea, a desperate prayer to an unfair god.

 

Could you?” I whispered against his chest, unwilling to speak any louder. I didn’t want to start crying and sobbing again, I was already in enough pain as it is. “Could you make that promise to me? I saw the way that creature was looking at you, and I knew- Edward I just knew that he wouldn’t ever stop until at least one of you was hurt or dead or-” I had to stop speaking as my voice gave out on me again, a retched sob breaking free and causing fresh bolts of pain to shoot through my wounds.

 

I can’t lose you.” Edward whispered against my hair as ran his hand in soothing circles on my back.

 

You’re not going to.” I tried to put as much confidence into the words as I could. I snuggled closer to Edward, ignoring the flashes of pain the movement created on my sides and stomach. Do you understand what I am saying?”

 

I think so,” Edward replied after a moment of silence, “I know that if I felt that you were in danger that there would be nothing on this earth that could stop me from protecting you.”

 

So you get it.” I sighed in relief, sinking against Edward chest and resting my head in the crook of his arm.

 

The difference is, is that I am a lot less breakable than you are.”

 

I pulled away at the words and stared as his face, my eyes narrowing in annoyance. “ Excuse me?” I bit out, “ Did you miss the part where I tore a vampire to shreds?”

 

Did you miss the part where he almost killed you?” Edward’s anger matched my own as he slowly pulled his arm out from under me. He stayed on the bed though, sitting there propped up against the headboard staring me down with a challenging gaze.

 

“I’m a werewolf Edward! Not some dainty little wallflower!” I retorted, a growl of irritation and annoyance was rumbling deep in my chest. “And if you’re waiting for me to apologise for protecting you, then you will be waiting a long fucking time!”

 

“Language.” A soft voice chided from the doorway and I looked to see Esme standing there holding a wooden tray, I could see a large bowl with steam rising from it. I hadn’t even heard her approach, or hear the door open. I was too busy arguing with Edward. I bit back the apology on my tongue since I wasn’t sorry for swearing. “I’ve made you some chicken soup,” Esme smiled as she walked into the room, placing the tray on my lap.

 

“Thanks,” I mumbled softly and she smiled at me in return before leaving the way she came. I moved to pick up the spoon but before I could Edward’s long fingers intervened. He scooped up some soup and held it out for me, I looked at the offering before turning to scowl at Edward. “I am perfectly capable of feeding myself.” I sneered.

 

Edward sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, as if he was trying to pull on some deeply hidden inner strength. “Why do you always have to be so goddamn stubborn?” he snipped at me, he paused and took another deep calming breath before releasing it in a tired sigh. “Please just let me help you.” he murmured in a softer tone, his eyes becoming gentle and pleading. My anger melted away and I felt the tension in my body relax under his gaze.

 

I sighed and lead forward, taking the spoon into my mouth. The chicken soup was warm and flavourful and it eased the ache in my throat some.

 

“Thank you,” Edward sighed out as he slowly brought another spoonful of soup to my lips. Edward continued to feed me in silence for a while, after a few minutes he spoke up again. “I know that you are strong, and resilient and more than capable of protecting yourself and others.” Edward spoke as he slowly fed me, I didn’t respond other than to eat the food he offered. It was clearly important for him to say this without being interrupted, and I was going to let him. “But I think you need to admit that you aren’t as indestructible as you’d like to think.”

 

I sighed and when Edward lifted the spoon again I gentle pushed his arm back down. “You’re probably right.” I relented and Edward smiled somewhat triumphantly at me, “I’ll only get stronger, though. A wolf’s power and strength only grows with age. When I was thirteen Charlie destroyed a vampire by himself and barely suffered a scratch.”

 

“Your father is centuries old.” Edward reminded me, “So until you are at least as old as I am now, can you at least try to refrain from doing anything that might maim or otherwise kill you?” Edward’s voice remained steady and firm as he made his request, but I could still detect the slightest sliver of humour lurking there.

 

“I’ll try my best.” I couldn’t stop the sides of my mouth curling into a teasing smirk, “No promises though,”

 

“Of course not,” Edward replied in a similar tone. He insisted on feeding me the rest of the soup, and I didn’t want to argue with him anymore so I let him. It seemed to give him some small measure of comfort, being able to care for me like that, regardless of whether I actually needed the help or not. I finished the soup and Edward sat the tray on the bedside table.

 

“What happened to the other vampires?” I asked.

 

“When you attacked James, all hell broke loose. Victoria launched herself at you but Jasper saw it coming and stopped her, they wrestled for a bit but she managed to slip away.” Edward paused and pinched the bridge of his nose again, “I’ve never seen anyone give Jasper the slip like that,”

 

“She got away?” I whispered, my eyes growing wide.

 

“We’ll get her.” Edward assured me, dropping his hand from his face.

 

“What about the other one? Laurent?”

 

At this Edward chuckled darkly, “Coward, the moment you attacked he ran.”

 

I smirked, “Told you I was scary.” I tried to stifle the yawn that bubbled up my throat.

 

Edward didn’t miss it and his brow furrowed as he looked down at me, “You should get some more rest.”

 

He started to move from the bed but my hand snapped out and snagged on the bottom of his shirt, “Stay with me?” I mumbled weakly, I was steadily growing sleepier by the second.

 

Edward studied me for a moment before nodding, he helped me rearrange the pillows so I was laying flat once again before he sat next to me on the bed leaning against the headboard like he was before. My eyes fluttered closed as I relented to my growing exhaustion, I scooted closer to Edward and my hand reached out for him. I felt his hand close around mine, the other coming to stroke my hair gently. I sighed contently as Edward’s comforting caress gentle lulled me to sleep.

Chapter Text

 

I woke up slowly, I was pulled into a half formed fetal position on the large plush bed. I swallowed thickly and started to move gingerly, not wanting to push my body too far, and as I gradually returned to the land of the living I realised two things were horribly wrong.

 

The first thing I noticed was that I was alone. The space next to me where Edward had been when I had fallen to sleep was empty. As I opened my eyes and slowly took in his absence it filled me with a special sort of dread. Falling asleep next to him had been the most natural feeling in the world and waking up without him felt all sorts of wrong.

 

I didn’t notice the second thing until I had taken a deep breath. I breathed deeply, taking the air into my lungs as I slowly woke up and then I almost choked on the disgusting scent that filled my veins. It was a stench so foul that I instantly knew that it could only belong to an unknown vampire. It was like a maggot riddled corpse, all rott ing flesh and exposed bones. The odour wafted up from somewhere on the ground floor of the house, it reminded me of the stench of week old roadkill that had been baking in the Arizona sun.

 

I was moving before I made the conscious decision to get up. My body shot upright and my feet hit the plush carpet with almost no sound. My nostrils flared as I scented the air, trying to pinpoint the exact location of the threat. I was running on i mpulses I didn’t know I had as I silently moved out of the guest room and down the hall. I instinctively moved towards the unknown threat , placing my feet on the sturdier floor boards that I somehow knew wouldn’t make a sound under my weight. I could still smell my family in the house, the much gentler scents of death and sweet decay that I had come to associate with the Cullen’s. I felt a surge of possessive wrath as I took in their familiar scents mingling with that of the intruder. It bloomed in my chest and spread throughout my limbs, emboldening me with supernatural strength. The animalistic urge to protect them was running through my brain and it was taking everything I had to stay in control of myself.

 

I silently moved down the stairs and finally reached the ground floor. I scented the air again, the heavy stench of death was thicker down here and I stifled back the urge to growl threateningly. I circled around the stair case, moving towards the back of the house and towards the living room where the majority of the scent was coming from. I walked through the open archway that was the entrance to the large living room, and I stopped dead in my tracks.

 

M ost of my family were present. I could see the tight and worried eyes of Carlisle and Jasper as they stood off to the side. Edward was there as well, standing between Alice and Emmett on the opposite side of the room. The usual sense of calmness and safety that would wash over me at the sight of Edward was lost as I took in the last vampire in the room.

 

Laurent stood there, arms crossed over his exposed chest defensively as his crimson eyes flickered over the others to land on me and my sudden entrance. His expression shifted slightly from defensive to curious and amused. That was enough to alert the others of my interruption, I didn’t have the presence of mind to take in their reactions as my gaze narrowed on Laurent.

 

YOU!” I roared violently, taking a single step before I crouched down and lunged at the vampiric invader. I was in the air, soaring over the coffee table when I heard Edward yell out.

 

Bella! No!” Edward shouted and in a single gust of wind I felt his cool arms around my body, catching me mid-air and pinning my arms to my side as his chest pressed against my back. His warm scent of basil and wildflowers did nothing to calm or sooth my righteous fury as I writhed and jerked in his arms.

 

 

Edward! Let me GO!I growled throwing my head from one side to the other as a thunderous noise rattled in my chest and echoed around the room. “I’m gonna kill him!” The amused expression on Laurent’s face only grew and it did nothing except fuel my rage. “What the fuck are you smirking at!?” I demanded as I bucked against Edward. “I’ll rip you to pieces, you un-dead bastard!

 

Bella. Bella you need to calm down, love.” Edward whispered in my ear, his cold breath ghosting across my ear and the scent of his breath filled my lungs when I took a breath in. It was all encompassing and for a split second I almost couldn’t smell the un-dead fucker standing on the other side of the room. “Laurent isn’t here to fight, he came to help us. To warn us about Victoria.” Edward continued in a soft whisper as my struggling started to slow.

 

Perhaps I should leave until you gain better control over your dog.” Laurent drawled in his strange accent, sarcasm lilting his voice.

 

I’ll show you control you backwoods leech!” I growled out as I renewed my struggle against Edward’s hold. “I’ll feed you your own entrails! I’ll make you wish that you had never been born!” I squirmed in Edward grasp, fighting the insane urge to bite down on his arm in an attempt to make him release me.

 

Maybe it would be best for you to leave now, Laurent.” Carlisle cut off my angry tirade of insults. “Thank you for coming and warning us, it is appreciated.” He continued diplomatically, giving me a wary look from the corner of his eye as he ushered Laurent out the door, using his body to shield Laurent from my view.

 

I slowed my struggle as I listened to Laurent leave, his scent dissipating and the sound of his footsteps rushing through the forest slowly became so faint I could no longer hear them.

 

If I let you go are you going to run after him?” Edward asked tersely, irritation and anger bleeding into his voice.

 

I am not some rabid dog, you insufferable jackass.” I bit back in the same tone.

 

A hearty chuckle sounded out off to my side and I turned my head to see Emmett smirking and shaking his head in amusement. I gave him a withering look as Edward slowly put me back down on my feet, but it only served to make hi m laugh harder. “ Man, things haven’t been this interesting around here in decades!” He chuckled, his face all smiles and dimples.

 

I was about to give him a snarky reply about how I was so glad that I could provide him with entertainment but I was suddenly distracted by Edward placing his too-large jacket gently over my shoulders. It was that small and simple act that made me realise what I was wearing, or rather the lack of what I was wearing. In my haste to make it down stairs and confront the threat I had sensed in my domain I hadn’t stopped to put on any clothes. All I had to cover me was the criss-crossing of bandages covering my chest and abdomen and a pair of cotton panties. I pulled Edward’s jacket closer around my body as embarrassment filled me to my core and make my cheeks flush red.

 

Okay then.” I mumbled, all the burning fury from before suddenly gone and I was left feeling small and childish. Trying to keep an air of dignity around me I turned and started to head out of the room and back up the stairs, considering I was more or less naked I don’t think I pulled it off. I trudged back up stairs and I could hear Edward following me close behind. I went back into the guest room and sank down on the plush mattress, I put my hands on my knees and lowered my head. “If you’re here to give me another lecture about my impulsive need to attack strange vampires, do us both a favour and don’t.” I muttered, “I already feel bad enough about it as it is.”

 

I heard a soft, sad chuckle and I raised my head to look at Edward. He smiled at me, that half smile that I loved so much. “ No, no lecture from me.” he murmured as he crossed the room and sat down next to me. He took my hand in his before he spoke again, “I’m sorry about that, by the way.”

 

Hmm?” I hummed my confusion as I ran my hand over his.

 

I spoke with your father, while you were sleeping.” He paused and I looked up at him, he seemed to be considering his next words carefully. “He… explained a few things to me.” The way Edward said the words made me think Charlie’s explanation was more physical than verbal. He was always more of a visual teacher than a verbal one. “All this time I have been encouraging you to embrace your instincts, to not shield parts of yourself from me…. And then when you act on those instincts to-… to protect me I get angry at you. That wasn’t fair of me.”

 

You were frightened.” I murmured, “When you get scared you get angry.” I looked over at him and gave him a soft half smile. He smiled back and I inched closer to him, raising my hand to the back of his neck so I could pull his face closer to mine. I could feel his cool breath on my face, and our lips were just about to touch when someone cleared their throat from the doorway.

 

I huffed out an annoyed breath as I lowered my head to land against Edward’s chest. “Sorry to interrupt.” Carlisle’ s smooth voice drifted over to us, and I got the distinct feeling he wasn’t sorry at all. “But I think it’s time your stitches were removed.”

 

I sighed, “Yeah, alright.” I grumbled out. Edward chuckled which only made me look up and scowl at him, he bent down and pressed a kiss to the top of my head.

 

I’ll be outside.” He assured me.

 

I watched Edward leave and the door shut behind him. I looked at Carlisle and tried not to let my aggravation show. “ I would ask how you are feeling, Bella, but I think I already know the answer to that.” He remarked in a teasing tone as he crossed the room and placed his bag next to me on the bed.

 

Sorry,” I grumbled under my breath as I started to pull at my bandages, “I didn’t mess everything up did I?” I hoped not. I still wasn’t totally sure why Laurent was here, to help apparently, and I didn’t want my rash actions to do anything to hurt that.

 

I could see the amused smirk on Carlisle’s face as he shook his head, “No. Laurent was surprisingly understanding. He is a curious fellow, and is going to spend some time with our relations up north to see if the vegetarian lifestyle is for him.” Carlisle said as he started to help me remove the bandages with nimble fingers. “ Lay back for me, Bella, and I will get to work on these stitches.” Carlisle placed a hand on my shoulder and pushed me back gently to encourage me to do as he said.

 

O nce again embarrassment flooded through me and I tried my best to pretend that this was just a doctor removing stitches, and not my boyfriends Dad standing in front of me while I lay half naked on a bed. I could feel my cheeks flush with the heat of my shame and I bit my lip. Come on Swan, get your shit together. Fuck.

 

This shouldn’t hurt, but you will feel some tugging and pulling as I remove the stitches. Alright?” Carlisle spoke off to the side in a confident doctorly way and it did help lessen my embarrassment somewhat. Which was nice. I would have to figure out a thank you gift to get Carlisle after all this was over. What gift says, thanks for stitching me up while dodging my savage attempts to take off your head? I doubt there is a greeting card for that.

 

I stared blankly up at the ceiling as Carlisle worked. The room was silent other than the sound of the small scissors snipping the stitches before I felt the gentle tug on my skin as Carlisle removed them. “ It is remarkable how quickly you have healed. Truly.” Carlisle intoned evenly as he worked, I could feel his cool hands move along my sides as he continued. Less than 24 hours and you’re totally healed.” He was using that tone of voice again, the quiet sort of reflection that made me wonder if he was talking to me or just thinking out loud.

 

Carlisle continued to murmur softly, so quietly I couldn’t quite make out the words he was speaking. I did pick up on a few, however. Enough to know that I- or rather werewolves- were his topic of one sided conversation. Did my Dad tell you about our trip to the Grand Canyon?” I spoke up, in part to make conversation and also to stop his scientific murmurings. I was sure if I had let him continue he would start to go off on some tangent about how vampire venom inhibits the werewolf healing gene.

 

Hmm?” Carlisle hummed as he was pulled out of his little murmured monologue. “No he hasn’t. I have heard you mention it a few times to Edward, however.”

 

No secrets in a house full of vampires, huh?” I scoffed, and I heard Carlisle answering chuckle. “When I was younger Charlie would visit me as much as he could in between my trips to see him during the summer, and we would go hiking and camping over the weekend. I was 13 when we went to the Grand Canyon. First night of our trek a Nomad appeared.” I paused and sucked in a pained breath as Carlisle tugged on a stitch and it stung sharply.

 

H is cold hands immediately stopped, “ Sorry, sweetheart. Did that hurt?” He murmured apologetically.

 

I cleared my throat of the sudden lump that formed at his words of endearment. “ No, not really. Just a little.”

 

I felt him swab something cool against the spot that had stung, “Please, continue your story.” He said as the swab numbed the area.

 

Right, well I had never actually seen a vampire before. Charlie had told me stories, but its one thing to know and another thing to actually ya know see.” I kept my eyes trained on the ceiling still, “Anyway, I was pretty much useless. I was just frozen there, scared out of my mind. But my dad?” I paused as a proud smile covered my face, “He didn’t hesitate. He leapt across our camp fire, transforming mid-air and tackled the nomad. They fought while I just sat there, watching my Dad risk his life while I was scared out of my god-damn mind.” I sighed out a heavy breath, and couldn’t help but notice how Carlisle’s scent of eucalyptus and incense had mingled with the sharp smell of what he had used to numb my side. He was hurt, too. Not as bad as this… but still, it wasn’t like it was a paper cut or anything.” Carlisle chuckled as he continued to move up my abdomen and started to work on the stitches on my chest. “By the time the Nomad had finished burning he was already healed, not even a scratch on him.”

 

That is certainly impressive,” Carlisle said in an agreeing tone, I peaked a look at him trying my best not to move as he worked. Carlisle had that look about him, his mask of concerned concentration couldn’t hide the curious gleam in his eye.

 

I didn’t stop the amused smirk that ma de my lips curl, “ I know that expression, Carlisle. Go on. Ask your questions.”

 

C arlisle had the decency to look somewhat embarrassed, “ Was your father bitten at all during this… altercation?”

 

No, I don’t think so.”

 

Charlie mentioned how vampire venom can inhibit the abilities of werewolves,” Carlisle mused, “It makes me wonder if you would have healed faster if it weren’t for the bite on your neck.”

 

Probably,” I scoffed, “Not like I did it on purpose. But next time I fight with a random vampire I promise to not let myself get bit so you can study the differences.” I joked.

 

How very kind of you.” Carlisle teased back as he packed up his tools,

 

I sat up on the bed and pulled the sheet up to my neck to cover my exposed chest, as if he hadn’t just spent the last 20 minutes staring at it as he took out my stitches. “ I’m gonna go take a shower, do you think Alice has any clothes I could borrow?” Before Carlisle could answer I hear d Alice answer in the affirmative from downstairs.

 

I waited for Carlisle to leave and for the door to close with a soft click before I scurried out of bed, pulling the sheet with me. I pulled it around myself in a poor attempt to hide my nakedness and pulled open the door. I glanced either one way down the hall, and then the other before inhaling deeply. More then ever I resented the Cullen’s lack of heartbeats, because I couldn’t quite tell exactly where they were in the house, just that none of them were in the hall between me and my destination. I slunk down the hall and into the bathroom, seeing that Alice had clearly been here before me as there was a small pile of folded clothes on the counter by the sink.

 

I stood in front of the sink and looked at myself in the mirror. My brown hair was a mess of tangles and curls, I was still holding up the pale sheet around my body unwilling to look at my newly healed body in the mirror. I took a slow breath in, trying to calm myself before I let the sheet drop to the cold tile.

 

W hen I saw myself, I didn’t gasp or whimper or make even the slightest sound. I was expecting to feel something , some sort of loss or sadness instead all I felt was anger. I clenched my jaw and ground my teeth together as I looked over myself in the mirror. My pale skin was completely void of all bruises that were there before, and the gnarly gashes had healed into thin puckered scars. Some were more raised than others, a deeper shade of pink, while others looked almost sunken into my flesh and seemed to be even paler than the rest of my skin. My hand was steady as I traced the lines with my finger tips, slowly mapping out each mark on my skin. I wondered briefly how long I would have these marks, after all I had never noticed any scars on Charlie. As I continued to look them over my anger continued to surge through me. I wanted these marks gone as quickly as possible.

 

The last mark I looked at was the one on my neck. It sat low, close to where my neck and shoulder met and I was thankful for small mercies. It would be easy enough to hide with high collared shirts and jackets. A jagged half-moon sat there, stark white and ghosting just against my collarbone. I twisted on the spot to get a look at the back of my neck, and sure enough there was the matching mark. I took a deep breath and tried to swallow back my anger and the rising urge to ram my fist into my reflection.

 

I turned my back to the mirror and quickly took off my panties before starting the shower and stepping into the still warming water. I took a long time scrubbing my skin and my new scars, I washed my hair more than once and after what felt like a long time I finally felt clean. I got out of the shower and started to dry myself, and as I pulled on the clothes Alice had left for me I was happy to note that there was almost no pain residing in my body. Sure my muscles felt a little achy, and my joints felt a little stiff, but other than that I felt like I was back to normal.

 

I was just finishing drying my hair when I heard the telltale sounds of Charlie’s cruiser making it’s way down the Cullen’s gravel drive. I didn’t rush as I finished up, and hung up the towels and took the bed sheet back to the room I had been sleeping in. By the time I plodded down the stairs Charlie was just entering through the front door.

 

Don’t you knock?” I teased as Charlie took off his muddy boots so he wouldn’t make a mess on Esme’s clean floors.

 

Didn’t see the point, kiddo. Considering everyone in the house could hear me coming from a long ways off.” He replied gruffly. I looked my Dad over for a moment, he was wearing his sheriffs uniform and he had let his beard grow back out to its usual length. If you didn’t know any better you’d say he looked normal, but I did know better. His eyes didn’t hold their usual gleam and he had large bags under them. His usually perfect posture was slumped slightly, like the effort it took to stand at his full height was just too much right now. Charlie looked tired, hell he looked fucking exhausted.

 

I t broke my heart.

 

Are you alright, Dad?” I asked, crossing the small distance between us and pulled him into a hug.

 

C harlie returned the hug with earnest, with my head pressed against his chest I could hear the quiet contented growl that rumbled there. “ I should be the one asking you that.” He grumbled.

 

I’m not the one who looks like they haven’t slept in the past 24 hours.” I muttered as I pulled away, I looked up at Charlie and he scratched the back of his neck sheepishly.

 

I’ve been trying to track down the red head that got away.” He admitted,

 

M y frown deepened, “ You wont be doing any one any favours if you collapse from exhaustion.”

 

That’s what I tried to tell him, Bella.” Esme’s kind voice spoke up from behind me and I turned to see her standing there wiping her hands on her apron.

 

B ehind me I heard Charlie chuckle, “You weren’t kidding, Bells. Vampire in an apron.”

 

I turned to give my dad a ‘I told you so’ look just as Esme said, “I’ve made you both some dinner, it’s in the kitchen.”

 

Dinner? I didn’t think it was that late, I had figured Charlie had come by on his lunch break. As we moved through the house I glanced up at the clock in the hallway, sure enough it was almost 5pm. With a frown I realised it may take a little time to get my sleep schedule back to normal.

 

I walked through the house heading towards the kitchen when I heard Charlie take a deep breath in, an aggressive rumble forming in his chest. “ God, get a whiff of that.” He muttered.

 

I looked over at him, arching an eyebrow in question. I mimicked his movement, taking a deep inhale through my nose and I could just detect traces of Laurent’s stink in the air, although it was nothing compared to how it was before. “ Laurent was here,” I answered his unasked question. We entered the kitchen and took seats at the island bench just as Esme placed a large burger in front of each of us. “ He was apparently here to help, warn us about Victoria.” I looked down at the plate of food before looking at Esme, a toasted bun that was overflowing with lettuce and tomato and melted cheese over a thick beef patty. “Thanks, this looks great.” She beamed a toothy grin at the praise and started to flutter around the kitchen, cleaning at a human pace as she hummed to herself.

 

C harlie picked up the food without so much as a thanks, taking a large bite before he scoffed. “ I’m sure. Probably just wanted a closer look at our numbers. I’m telling you Bella, vampires never do anything without an ulterior motive.”

 

Dad!” I snapped in disgust, my eyes went wide at his words. It took Charlie a moment to realise what he had said, probably due to his lack of sleep. “Apologise. Now.” I growled, my eyes flickering between my father and Esme. Esme who had stopped her puttering. Esme’s whose kind, heart shaped face was twisted into a look of hurt as she stood still as stone on the other side of the kitchen. Esme who just spent gods only knew how long making us dinner.

 

C harlie’s face slowly fell into a look of horror that matched my own as he became painfully aware of how hurtful his words had been . He dropped his burger and scrubbed a hand down his tired face, “God damn it.” He cursed, “Esme, I am so sorry.” He looked over the island bench to the still unmoving vampire, “ I didn’t...- I mean.” Charlie stumbled over his words as he ran a frustrated hand through his hair, and for a moment I was reminded of myself. “ I didn’t think. I didn’t mean you .” Charlie’s eyes were soft, imploring begging Esme to understand. “ You and your family are nothing like any vampire I have ever met. You are so much more. So much more… human… that sometimes its easy to forget that you’re not.”

 

L ike a spell had been broken, Esme’s face morphed into a gentle and maternal smile. She walked over to us and placed a gentle hand on Charlie’s forearm, “ It’s alright, Charlie. You’re tired and stressed, think nothing of it.”

 

C harlie looked devastated, utterly gutted by the fact he had said something so hurtful. He knew as much as I did that Esme wasn’t the only one who would have heard his words, every vampire in the house would have heard him, and this only furthered the grief I could see on my Dad’s face. Charlie placed his hand over Esme’s and squeezed it gently, looking into her golden eyes with singular intent. I could just catch the edges of what Charlie was communicating to Esme. The remorse he felt at his words, the fear he felt when he heard I had been hurt, the appreciation that he felt for both Esme and Carlisle for how they took care of me when he couldn’t, and the growing affection he held for her and the rest of the Culle n’s.

 

Oh!” Esme made a small squeaking noise as she took a tiny step back and removed her hand from Charlie’s.

 

You gotta warn them before you do that, Dad. It spooks them.” I mumbled as I stared down at my burger, picking at the bun and eating it in pieces.

 

I picked up my burger and took another bite as I heard Charlie mumble, “Sorry,”

 

Esme didn’t respond other than to hum her agreement and Charlie and I ate in silence for a time. As we ate I smelt Edward’s warm scent waft into the kitchen and I turned just in time to see him come inside, his eyes were a dark amber and he had deep purple bruises under his eyes.

 

Hello, love. It’s good to see you up.” Edward murmured as he pressed a kiss to the top of my head and pulled me gently against his chest in a soft hug.

 

You need to hunt.” I grumbled in agitation as I pulled away from him, he didn’t stop me but kept one arm around my shoulders. I wasn’t annoyed at Edward, well I was, but I was more annoyed at myself. How my actions had effected everyone around me, I had started something but I didn’t have the strength to finish it and now my family was suffering.

 

I didn’t want to leave the house until you were better,” Edward replied simply.

 

I had really made a mess of things. I looked down at the half eaten burger and sighed, my appetite had vanished as I felt a new wave of guilt wash over me. Everyone was stressed and hurting and it was my fault.

 

You stop that, now. This isn’t your fault.” I heard Jasper’s voice come from behind me and I turned on my seat to see him standing in the archway that led to the dining room. He was leaning against the arch, one ankle crossed over the other seemingly as ease.

 

I couldn’t help but scoff at his words, “Thanks for saying that, but I think we all know it is. If I hadn’t-” I was cut off by Jasper.

 

If you hadn’t done what? What is it you think you’ve done? Because I am tellin’ ya darlin’, I’ve seen vampires like James before and you were right on the money when you said he wouldn’t have stopped until he got the fight he was lookin’ for.” The more Jasper spoke the more his southern drawl deepened, “None of this is your fault. And if you hadn’t relieved that bastard of his head, I would have done it m’self.”

 

I wasn’t sure what to say, I didn’t have the words to express how much that meant to me. For the second time that day my legs were working before my brain fully kicked into gear. I was off the bar stool and striding over to Jasper before I pulled the shocked vampire into a hug. Despite my earlier criticism of Charlie’s actions, I found myself doing the exact same thing. Jasper’s body tensed under mine as I pulled his tall lanky frame against mine, and it felt like hugging a piece of granite but I didn’t let that stop me. With a focused determination I tried to relay what I wanted to say to him without having to rely on spoken words. Words were paltry things, inadequate at the best of times and severely lacking right now.

 

Slowly I felt Jasper’s body loosen, becoming less like a marble statue and more like a man. I sent him my gratitude for his kind words, urging him to understand that his unwavering acceptance of my actions was welcomed and meant more to me than I could truly express. I felt Jasper’s arms slowly come up from his sides to return my embrace as I sent him my promise of my loyalty, a sense of unwavering devotion similar to the one I felt come off my father moments ago. Finally I sent him my love, my admiration for his strength of character. As I sent this final message, one coded with sisterly love I felt Jasper’s legs wobble for a second before they gave out completely.

 

My eyes snapped open in confusion as I realised I was suddenly the only thing stopping the scar riddled vampire from hitting the floor like a sack of potatoes. “Jasper?” I pulled back from him and slowly eased him to the ground, his back sliding against the archway. I crouched down in front of him and looked him over, not seeing anything wrong with him.

 

Slowly Jasper blinked his eyes open and looked at me, a slow smile blooming across his face. “You’re very welcome.” He drawled out slowly,

Still crouched in front of him I looked up and over to Edward, who was still standing where I had left him near the island bench. “I don’t understand?” I shook my head,

 

“Jasper’s an empath, love. I think you just… overwhelmed him.” Edward chuckled, looking amused as all hell as he smirked at the pair of us.

 

“Sorry,” I whispered as I helped Jasper back to his feet.

 

Jasper chuckled beside me, a deep throaty sound as he put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me against his side. “Nothin’ to be sorry for, just give me a little warnin’ next time. Yeah?” He gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze before he let go, and in that gesture I could feel him sending me a wave of emotion in return. I reply to my unspoken vow. I was his sister, in every way that mattered, and he wouldn’t let anything happen to me. Ever.

 

Chapter Text

 

The thick green forest surrounded me, I felt like I was being smothered by the never ending woodlands. I tried to get my bearings, turning around on the spot but it felt like the more I tried the more alien my surroundings became. Panic started to clench in my chest, and then. There. Edward’s sweet scent was calling to me. Warm and comforting, the beautiful blue and purple of blooming basil mixed with the biting freshness of wildflowers. Perfection. I could see that I was moving, the woods around me changing and blurring, but my legs were still and my body still coiled tight in fear. I broke through the trees and found myself in a familiar clearing, the baseball diamond still displayed proudly on the grass.

 

I let out a strangled cry, and would have fell to my knees in anguish but some supernatural force kept me upright. The field was scattered with the torn limbs of my loved ones. On the pitches mound sat Alice’s head, her hair that was usually so carefully styled was now matted with blood and dark venom, her eyes shut tight and mouth opened in a slaw-jawed scream. Her delicate limbs surrounded her, one arm still twitching, trying desperately to claw it’s way to the rest of her mangled corpse. Jasper’s body was thrown about first base, his scar covered limbs moving with much more mobility than that of his mates. As if they remembered how to piece themselves back together with more familiarity and experience.

 

Emmett’ s muscled limbs were chaotically thrown about the out-field, his usually joyous face was twisted in immeasurable pain as it hung onto his limbless torso by a scrap of vampiric flesh. What was left of Rosalie was at home base. I couldn’t see her head, but I could tell by the perfectly manicured nails painted in blood red polish that it was her disembodied arm that still clutched the bat. Behind her was Esme. What was left of her anyway. The bottom of her face was missing, her jaw torn completely free of her skull, her golden eyes open in pain and were staring unseeing in my direction. Carlisle’s remains were strewn about between third base and home, his limbs creating a macabre trail of bread crumbs.

 

Bella!” I heard Edward cry my name. My eyes found him behind third base, he was missing an arm and his remaining one looked as if it were barely holding on. Victoria was behind him, red hair falling about her in graceful waves. She seemed clean and untouched by the carnage around her. She held onto Edward, one hand on either side of his head.

 

Edward!” I shrieked, I wanted to move. I needed to move. I needed to save him. My body wouldn’t obey me.

 

Bella! Please!” Edward’s voice became garbled as Victoria started to slowly wrench his head from his neck.

 

I was helpless to stop her. Edward’s head was removed with a terrible sound, a screeching of sheet metal mixed with Edward’s anguished screams. Victoria held Edward’s head aloft by his bronze locks, and Edward’s golden eyes met mine. Open, but not seeing anything. Not anymore. They looked at me with a mix of pain and betrayal.

 

I couldn’t save him.

 

I couldn’t save any of them.

 

They’re gone and it’s my fault.

 

They-

 

 

Bella!” A deep voice yanked me out from the nightmare. “Bella wake up! It’s not real! It’s a nightmare!”

 

I gasped in a breath of air, only to release it in a half formed scream. Tears were flowing down my face and my body was rocking with the strength of my sobs. I looked around to see the worried eyes of my father staring down at me, a hand still on either side of my shoulders from when he had shaken me awake. On instinct I shoved him away, and he flew through the air before crashing into my desk. The wood splintered and broke under the strain and Charlie grunted as the impact knocked the air out of his lungs. He slowly brought himself to his feet, dusting pieces of wood and saw-dust from his pyjamas as he stood amongst the ruined remains of my desk.

 

Fuck.” I choked out as my sobs quietened. “Dad, I’m sorry.

 

I yelped in surprise by the gentle knock on my closed window. Charlie and I looked to the window to see Edward there, perched on the thin branch of the tree outside. I sat upright in my bed and ran a hand through my hair, it was damp from sweat and a mess of tangled curls. Charlie strode over to the window and pulled it open with one hand, before standing back and crossing his arms over his chest. Edward gracefully folded himself through the open window and stood in my room, staring nervously down at his shoes.

 

I… was just passing by when I heard Bella scream.” Edward said, finding the courage to look my father in the eye.

 

Son, we both know that’s not the truth.” Charlie rebuffed him in a gruff voice. Charlie looked Edward over, his stern gaze running over his lanky form before he sighed and ran a tired hand down his face. “I’ll go put some coffee on.” Charlie said in the way of a farewell before he left my room, leaving the door open before plodding down the stairs.

 

S till sitting on my bed I looked over to Edward who was now staring back at me. What are you doing here? You said you were going to hunt with Jasper before school tomorrow.”

 

“I did hunt.” Edward replied defensively, before he took the few shorts steps between my window and my bed and sat down next to me.

 

I studied his face, looking intently into his eyes trying to judge the accuracy of his statement. His eyes were the colour of honey, decidedly lighter than they were the last time I had seen him but nowhere near the bright stunning gold I knew they could be when Edward was fully satiated.

 

“Besides, it is tomorrow.” Edward teased, gesturing to the small clock beside my bed. It was just past 5:30 in the morning. I narrowed my eyes at Edward, I didn’t want him neglecting his own needs for my sake any longer. I knew his thirst was painful and I couldn’t bare the thought of him being in pain for the duration of the school day. “I’m alright, love. Promise.” He assured me, tucking a damp strand of hair behind my ear. “The question is, are you?”

 

I sighed and brought my knees up to my chest, wrapping my arms around them and tucking them close to my body. “It was just a nightmare.” I replied quietly shrugging my shoulders emphatically like the terrors I had seen in my sleep were nothing at all.

 

Edward shot me a disbelieving look before turning his head to glance at my now ruined desk, then he looked back to me and raised a single eyebrow. “Really?” He intoned, clearly not believing a word of it.

 

Fine. It was a really bad nightmare.” I muttered, annoyed that he wasn’t just going to let this go.

 

“Tell me.” Edward asked in a pleading tone, “Please?” He added after a moment of silence.

 

I wanted to tell him, but I couldn’t make myself look at him while I did. I placed my forehead on my knees, hiding my face from Edward before I spoke. “You died. You all died.” I whispered. I took a shaky breath in, the air catching on the lump in my throat before I continued.I was… lost? In the woods. And then I caught your scent. I found you… but-” My words were cut off by another shaky inhale as I fought back the urge to sob at the vivid memories in my head, memories that felt so real. “Everyone else was… already in pieces, but you were calling out for me. Begging for my help and I couldn’t. I couldn’t move. I was so scared, I was so terrified and I did nothing as Victoria tore your head from your body.”

 

Oh, Bella.” Edward sighed sadly, and I felt him shift on the bed before I felt his cool arms encircle my body. I turned my face into his shoulder, allowing myself to be soothed by his warm scent.It’s okay, love. You’re alright. Everyone is okay.” He cooed softly.

 

“It’s not okay, though.” I argued. “Victoria is still out there.”

 

I felt Edward take a deep breath in, to calm himself or just to give himself enough air for his incoming rant I wasn’t sure. Before he could say anything though I heard Charlie speak from downstairs. “Coffee’s ready.” He said the words conversationally, as if we were in the same room.

 

I untangled myself from Edward’s embrace and he stood up to allow me to get out of bed.

 

Edward followed me downstairs to the kitchen, and when I sat down at the table he sat next to me. Close enough that our knees were touching under the table. Charlie placed a steaming cup of black coffee in front of me before he sat down across the table from us. I picked up the cup with two hands, breathing in the steam from the drink before exhaling it out through my mouth to cool the coffee slightly.

 

“I heard what you were saying upstairs.” Charlie spoke up after a moment of contemplative silence. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.” He finished resolutely.

 

I scoffed and rolled my eyes, “Real encouraging, Dad.” I snarked, “Simply inspirational. What time is your TED talk scheduled? I wouldn’t wanna miss it.” I continued sarcastically, before I took a sip of coffee. I could feel Edward’s eyes on me and I glanced up to see him staring at me with a look that I could only describe as scandalised. His eyes were wide in shock, eyebrows furrowed slightly and I half expected him to gasp my name dramatically and chastise me for my rude behaviour.

 

It seems that spending some time with my Dad hadn’t done anything to lessen Edward’s anxiety about the man. If anything it seemed to make him more stiff, more formal and overly polite than before. I wasn’t sure if it was simply because he wanted to make a good impression on his girlfriend’s father, or because said father was an incredibly old werewolf who could literally tear him to shreds. I was beginning to think it was a combination of the two.

 

Charlie smirked at me and shook his head as he chuckled tiredly, “You spend as long as I have being hunted by vampires and you learn to let go of things you can’t control.” I opened my mouth to make another snarky comment but Charlie continued before I could. “We are doing everything we can. She’s no longer in the area, and we can’t find any scents or tracks that suggest otherwise. All we can do is stay alert and start doing some routine patrols of the area in case she comes back. If you let yourself obsess over this you will drive yourself mad, Bella.” He finished sternly. His voice was rough and filled with authority, but his eyes were soft and filled with love and concern.

 

“Okay.” I responded meekly, looking down into the nearly empty cup of coffee. “I’ll try.” At my Dad’s questioning look I added. “Promise.”

 

The beginnings of the muted morning dawn start to come in through the kitchen window and Edward speaks up for the first time since coming downstairs. “I better get home and get ready for school. I’ll come by to pick you up?” He looks at me,

 

I nod as I finish the last of my coffee, “Sounds good, see you soon.”

 

 

XxXx

 

 

Going back to school after everything that had happened was a shock to the system. I don’t know why, but I was expecting there to be a noticeable shift. My world had been tilted dramatically on it’s axis, everything was now upside-down and sideways, and yet no one else seemed to notice at all. We had spent the last two days of spring break trying and failing to catch Victoria’s scent. We could find no trace of the vampire anywhere near Forks, and yet I still got the distinct feeling that she was close by, waiting. It felt like a cruellest kind of torture.

 

I was sitting in Trig, looking out the window and into the forest. I wasn’t paying any attention to what was happening in the class room instead I was focusing on trying to see any hint of fiery red hair in the dense foliage.

 

“Isabella!” Mr. Varner snapped loudly, and I reluctantly turned to face him. “Are you paying attention?” He asked with a slightly sarcastic tone, making it clear he didn’t think I was.

 

“Yes, sir.” I responded coldly. I wasn’t in the mood for school, and sitting here while I would much rather be out there was grating on my already frayed nerves.

 

Then you will have no issues solving the problem on the board.” He responded, holding out the whiteboard marker for me to take. His face was smug, and I could taste his sickly condescension on the air. Arrogant bastard.

 

I shot up out of my seat, ignoring Jessica’s worried glances as I stalked towards the front of the class. I snatched the marker out of Mr. Varner’s hand and looked to the board. I stood there for a moment and read the equation, and Mr. Varner’s messy script instructing me to find the exact value of tan . Without hesitation I quickly wrote down the answer on the board, confident that I was correct. I didn’t wait for any confirmation before I dropped the marker onto the holster at the bottom of the board with a loud clattering noise and stalked back to my seat.

 

A s I sat down I looked at Mr. Varner with a challenging glare, he met my eye and seemed to be angered by my petulance. “ And where exactly is your working out ?” He asked sharply.

 

In my head. Where math is done.” I replied sarcastically, crossing my arms over my chest.

 

M y response seemed to enrage him, “Out!” he thundered, raising his voice slightly and pointing a finger to the door.

 

That shocked me a little bit. I mean sure I was a rude little shit, but kicking me out over it? I felt like that was a bit extreme, after all I had solved the problem. I was about to argue with him wh en I heard Jess’ shrill voice speak up in indignation.

 

But Mr. Varner! That’s not fair! She did what you asked, and she got it right!” I looked over at my friend and I saw that her face was red and her arms crossed defiantly over her chest. She caught me looking and gave me a supportive smile with a small nod of her head.

 

That’s it! You both have detention, now get out of my classroom! Now!” Mr. Varner’s face was getting redder and redder, and the previous scent of his smugness was gone and was replaced with bitter shame tinged with hot anger. Ahh, now I understood. I showed him up, and he was embarrassed.

 

Gladly.” I muttered as I collected my things and I heard Jess doing the same next to me. I had enough on my mind without having to worry about a middle aged man’s fragile ego.

 

W hen we exited the classroom I turned to face Jess and gave her a small apologetic smile, “Thanks for sticking up for me, and sorry that you got detention because of it.”

 

Jess simply shrugged and flicked her hair over her shoulder, “ Start tutoring me in Trig and we’ll be even.” she said in a joking tone. “ Besides, it was totally worth it to see that look on Mr. Varner’s face.” She giggled lightly, “I seriously thought he was going to have a stroke or something!” She continued to giggle as she slid down the lockers at sat cross legged on the ground, waiting for the bell to ring so she could go to her next class.

 

I groaned and copied her movements, “Man, my Dad is gonna be so pissed.” I buried my face in my hands. So much for letting go of things I can’t control.

Chapter Text

 

 

Jess and I were sitting quietly outside the trig classroom, our backs against the lockers and our legs crossed underneath us. I had never been sent out of a class before, and I definitely have never been given a detention before. I wasn’t sure what the protocol was, but Jess was more than happy to inform me that we just had to sit here for the remainder of the period and collect our detention slips from Mr. Varner before our next class.

 

I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain this to Charlie. I should tell him that I was sorry, except I wasn’t. I should tell him that I regretted my actions, but I didn’t. I knew that I shouldn’t have been so rude and disrespectful to a teacher, but it was hard to give a shit when there was a murderous monster on the loose. Also, I couldn’t help but feel that Mr. Varner was over reacting just a little bit. I mean, I was a good student. I always did all my homework and got great grades on my exams. (I always made sure to never get a full 100%, since Charlie thought it would raise suspicions, but still.) I was a model student, and considering this w as my first offence I thought it was a little extreme.

 

I looked up when I heard the loud clacking of high-heels on the hallway linoleum and I saw the Vice Principal walking in our direction. “ Girls, what are you two doing out here during class?” Mrs Torres asked, her painted red lips pursing and her eyes narrowing as she looked us over.

 

Mr. Varner sent us out.” Jess answered before I could.

 

And why would he do that?” Mrs Torres asked.

 

I thought about saying because he is an arrogant ass-hole, but instead I said “Because I was kinda rude, and Jess stood up for me.” I shrugged.

 

That doesn’t sound like you, Bella. Do you want to tell me what happened?” Mrs Torres slowly lowered herself down to the ground, awkwardly folding her knee length skirt under her legs and wobbling on her heels as she finally settled down in front of us. I could taste her gentle concern, her soft motherly worry and I couldn’t help but smile.

 

Mr. Varner asked me to complete the problem on the board. So I did, but when he asked me where my working out was I said in my head where math is done.” I relayed to her the story, and couldn’t help but smirk at the little scoffing laugh she gave that she tried to hide behind a cough.

 

M rs. Torres was fighting to put a stern expression on her face, but I could taste the sweetness of her amusement. “That was rather rude, wasn’t it?” She chastised. “ And completely unlike you.” she added.

 

I sighed and silently cursed the Vice Principal’s uncanny ability to see when her students were struggling. “I… ” I started the sentence and then stopped, what was I supposed to say? Oh yeah, it’s nothing really. I’ve just been having nightmares about watching everyone I love die. I killed a man and now live in constant fear of revenge from a homicidal vampire. I couldn’t say that, I couldn’t even come up with some bullshit excuse that would explain the typhoon of emotions inside of me. “ I’ve been having some trouble sleeping.” I eventually said once the silence filling the hallway became too much to bear.

 

Bella? You never said anything.” Jess said, half-accusing and half-worrying.

 

I shrugged helplessly and looked at my friend with a pleading look, I didn’t want her to ask anymore questions.

 

Does your father know?” Mrs Torres asked,

 

I nodded quickly, “Yeah, he does.”

 

The bell signalling the end of the period rang out loudly, and Jess and I stood up quickly before helping Mrs Torres stand when we saw her struggling to right herself on aged knees and tall heels. The classroom door opened and a wave of students rushed out, followed by Mr. Varner.

 

Mrs Torres, what can I do for you?” He greeted, looking between his boss and his students.

 

I was hoping that I could convince you to give these girls a little leniency. Miss Swan has been having trouble at home, and as I understand it Miss Stanley was simply protecting her friend.” Mrs Torres answered, the stern look on her face telling everyone that she wasn’t asking.

 

M r. Varner frowned, the lines on his face deepening. He narrowed his eyes at me, “You will never speak like that to me in my class again, understood?” He snipped,

 

Of course,” I nodded, I made sure to widen my eyes and furrow my brow hoping I was pulling off the look of scared remorse that he was looking for. “I am really sorry, Mr Varner.”

 

I t seemed like that did the trick and his face softened a tiny amount, “Alright then,” He nodded and walked back into his classroom without a goodbye.

 

I turned to Mrs. Torres, “Thank you for doing that.” I smiled kindly.

 

It’s alright, Miss Swan. You’re a good student, but everyone has off days. Now you girls better run to your next class or you’ll be late.” She warned in a slightly joking tone before she continued down the hall.

 

 

X xXx

 

“Are you going to tell your father that you almost got detention today?” Edward asked as he drove me home from school.

 

Well, no. I mean the key word there is almost.” I grumbled out my answer like the tired and petulant child I was.

 

Bella,” Edward said my name in a low voice, and it was clearly an admonishment of my behaviour.

 

Would you stop that.” I bit out, fighting the urge to open the car door and jump out of the moving vehicle like a total psychopath. I had been feeling antsy and anxious all day and the energy it took to keep up the human charade had worn away my last shred of self control. “I get that you’re a century old and everything, but you’re my boyfriend not my parent. I don’t need you to scold me for my behaviour.” I heard Edward take a breath and start to say something, but I didn’t stop to let him speak. “I know what I did was stupid, okay? But it’s just… God!” I snapped loudly and clenched my fists, “I was asked to find the answer to an equation, and I knew the answer! I didn’t fucking feel like pretending to take the time to work it out! Fuck!” I threw my head back and when I noticed Edward had parked in my driveway I shot out of the car like a bullet, I could hear Edward behind me.

 

Bella?” Edward called my name softly and I turned around to look at him. His face was creased with worry and I could see he wanted to embrace me, but I was glad he kept his distance. I had been feeling caged in all day, and I didn’t think I could handle being held right now.

 

God, Edward.” I groaned as I pulled at my hair, “I feel like I’m going crazy. I’m running on, like 4 hours of sleep so I am so fucking tired but at the same time I am so keyed up. I… I just- I want… I need.” My words were cut off by the sudden appearance of hot angry tears sliding down my face. To be honest, I didn’t know what I wanted.

 

Bella, can I hug you?” Edward asked cautiously and I nodded my head angrily. Edward moved and slowly put his arms around me in a soft embrace, leaving me plenty of breathing room. “It’s a fight or flight reaction, humans aren’t meant to experience it for prolonged periods of time and I’d wager neither are werewolves.” Edward’s murmured words fell over me and soothed my anger some.

 

Make it stop.” I pleaded with him.

 

E dward sighed sadly, “I wish I knew how, my love.”

 

I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted. What I needed . I shoved Edward away from me with more strength than I meant to and as I turned away from him I heard him land heavily in the wet grass. I didn’t respond when he called my name, I kicked off my shoes and threw off my jacket not caring where they landed. I stalked off into the woods, pulling my shirt over my head and yanking down my jeans. I felt the pain ripple through my body, and small streams of blood trickle d down in tiny crimson rivers.

 

I released a guttural scream, raw and primal, as I felt my bones break and shift. I fell forward onto my large lupine paws and threw back my head in a deafening howl before I took off into the dense green rain forest.

 

This is what I needed. I needed to run .

 

I relished in the feeling of the cold mud and moss under the pads of my paws, the crunch of tree branches and the sting on my skin as low hanging branches slapped against my sides. I could hear Edward in pursuit behind me, calling my name in a distressed and desperate yell that made my heart ache, so I pushed myself faster. I didn’t want company. I didn’t want to think, or feel anything besides the burning of air in my lungs and the crushing ache of tired muscles.

 

After a while I could no longer hear Edward behind me. I wasn’t sure if I had out-run him or if he had simply just given up. I really didn’t care either way. I pushed myself, never slowing down as I ran north. Hours past me by, and I never slowed and I never stopped. I crashed through creaks and threw my body over rivers. As I ran the world around me grew darker, sunlight gave way to the soft glow of moonlight and the glittering stars above. It was long after sunset by the time I slowed my marathon sprint. My bright yellow eyes took in the dark woods around me with stunning clarity.

 

I must have run a long way, if my surroundings were any indication. The green rain forests of Washington had given way to something similar and yet incredibility different. Tall pines and spruces towered over me, and there was significantly less ferns and undergrowth. I continued to trudge through the woods, my paws flattening the grasses around me. As the night grew on I realised I had no clue where I was. I huffed out a breath and looked up, barely able to see the starry sky above me. My annoyed growl echoed in the empty forest as I continued my walk, looking for a bit of a clearing so I could see the sky and get my bearings.

 

I could see a break in the trees ahead and I sped to a slow jog. When I reached the small clearing I raised my head and studied the sky above. I was clearly a long way away from any human civilisation, there was no light pollution to hinder my stargazing. The milky-way shined down on me and I studied the stars, naming each constellation without hesitation. When Charlie had insisted I learn how to navigate by the night sky I had scoffed at him, I had made jokes about maps and the internet and how unnecessary it was. I was incredibly grateful for the lessons now.

 

D oing some quick calculations in my head I realised I had travelled across the Canadian boarder. I don’t think I had ever run so far in my entire life, and now I had stopped I realised just how hungry I was.

 

I raised my head and inhaled deeply through my nose, trying to find any lingering scent of an animal that could become my dinner. I smelt something foreign, musky and gamy and similar to deer yet also different. It was faint, the creature hadn’t been through here in some time. I followed the scent until it became stronger, and then I turned upwind slightly and followed my instincts towards my meal.

 

M y dinner quickly came into view, nestled in amongst the tall grass was a dozing moose. I was momentary stunned by the animals’ monstrously large antlers that crowned it’s head, the moose was so much larger than any animal I had ever seen.

 

I lowered myself to a crouch and slinked forward, and when I was close enough I launched myself at my unsuspecting prey. I had caught the moose by surprise, but that didn’t stop it from putting up a good fight as my jaws locked around it’s neck. It bucked and writhed and I was almost thrown off the animal. I dug my front paws into the side of the moose, flesh tearing as t he creature made pitiful braying sounds of pain. I used my claws as leverage to move my jaws and get a better grip on it’s neck, before biting down sharply and shaking my head violently. I heard the snap of the beast’s neck and the moose went limp, we both fell to the ground with a heavy thud. I let go of the moose’s neck and shook my fur out, huffing slightly before I got to work devouring my meal.

 

T urns out my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I couldn’t bring myself to eat more than I had and I felt slightly guilty at leaving such a large amount of the dead moose behind, but I figured that there would be scavengers that would benefit from my misplaced gluttony. I trotted off, away from the grisly remains of my meal, to find a place to sleep.

 

 

W hen I woke up to the gentle warmth of the sun, I was happy to note that I was still in my wolf form. I slowly got to my feet and bowed down leisurely , stretching out my muscles as I yawned, my large jaws spreading wide and my tongue lolling out of my mouth. I huffed out a breath as I shook out my fur, feeling more well rested than I had since the fight with James. I turned west, towards home and family. I knew that they would all be worried, wondering where I had gone. I knew that I should start to make my way home to them, but the thought of returning to school and to my human charade made me feel like a caged animal. I couldn’t go home, not yet. So instead I turned east, and started to run towards the rising sun.

Chapter Text

 

 

A week. I couldn’t believe it had already been an entire week. Waking up on the third day I really did consider turning around and heading back home, but then I thought hey, they are all probably beyond worried and have moved into pissed off, so what’s the harm in taking a little more time? Also, if I am being honest, the thought of Edward’s anger upset me way more than the thought of my Dad’s, but I quickly decided to unpack that another time. Then when the light of my fourth dawn woke me up I realised that what I was doing was technically called running away. I had bristled at that, as if I was some gutless chicken unwilling to face my problems. It helped when I reminded myself that my problems weren’t actually in Forks. My problem was one annoyingly evasive vampire, and who knows where she would turn up?

 

I had never spent this long in wolf form, and even though I was elated by my new found control I was also starting to feel incredibly filthy. Days of running through the Canadian wilderness and hunting anything I could get my teeth around had left my fur covered in mud and dirt and dried blood. I wasn’t sure what I looked like, but I would’ve wagered that I looked positively feral. From what I could see, my usually chocolate coloured fur had darkened considerably, the fur sticking in all directions and matted in some places with mud and what I could only assume was the innards of last nights dinner. I sat back on my haunches and looked at the gently flowing water of an ice cold stream. I moved my weight from one paw to the other as I considered diving in, but with no hands how could I hope to scrub away a weeks worth of muck?

 

W ith a heavy sigh I resigned myself to the fact I would have to shift back to give myself any hope of a proper bath. My shoulders hunched inwards and I suppressed a whine as my bones snapped and moved about, I felt like I was being folded in on myself as I returned back to my human form with startling speed. My fur receded into my flesh, leaving behind its dirt and grim e on my pale skin.

 

F inally, I was human again. Although looking at me, kneeling on the banks of a creek, stark naked and covered in blood and dirt, you wouldn’t think it. I gingerly rose to my feet, after a week it felt strange to walk on two legs again instead of four. I stepped into the small river, the ice cold waters burning my skin and causing a shiver to run up my spine as goose-pimples covered every inch of me. Small steps was not the way to go about this. With a large breath of air I launched myself into the river, ducking my head under the water for a moment before surfacing with a gasp. Now I had been completely submerged in the glacial currents I was quickly becoming accustomed to them. I tread water for a moment before swimming closer to the bank and standing in the waist high water.

 

I hummed happily to myself as I scrubbed away the evidence of my week in the woods, happy to let the crisp water rush over my too-warm skin. I turned my back to the river bank, happy to look out over the expanse of rippling water and tall trees that were framed by gorgeous mountain ranges. I was just starting to try and untangle my unruly hair when I heard someone chuckle behind me.


Well, you’re not Charles.” A deep baritone jested from behind me.

 

I yelped in surprise as I turned around in a flash, water spraying up around me as I faced my unwanted visitor. I quickly lowered myself in the water, so the bubbling stream would hide my nakedness and I couldn’t stop the feral snarl that snaked up my throat and made my lips curl around my teeth. A tall man stood on the bank of the river, hands raised in surrender. He had shaggy brown hair that fell around a pointed face, but what I noticed the most was his eyes. The stranger’s eyes were hooded, and twinkling with amusement, and they were very clearly a startling crimson. My nostrils flared as I took in the scent of the unfamiliar vampire. It was remarkably thicker than the Cullen’s, smelling more like death and sickly infection than I was used to, but I was surprised to note that it was no where near the ghastly scents of the nomads I had the displeasure of meeting.

 

I kept my eyes narrowed suspiciously at the man, watching his every movement. “Who are you.” I growled out. I was annoyed at this vampire for interrupting me, but I was also annoyed at myself for letting him sneak up on me like he had.

 

Name’s Garrett.” The vampire replied, a smirk colouring his pale face before he lowered his hands and ducked down into a low bow. “Sorry to startle you like that, but I caught a rather familiar scent and thought it was an old friend of mine. I must say, I have never been happier to be wrong.”

 

I shifted closer to the vampire, taking his scent deep into my lungs. I could taste nothing that would tell me he was being dishonest, rather he seemed simply curious and amused. I figured that I wasn’t in any danger, or at least not yet. “ How do you know my Father?” I shot the question at him, the implication clear in my tone. If I didn’t like his answer, this was not going to end well for him.

 

Father?” Garrett raised a bushy eyebrow, “Didn’t know the old dog had it in him.” He chuckled as he took a slow and measured step towards me to perch himself on a rock near the water’s edge. I bit my tongue to stop the snarky remark from taking shape, it did nothing to stop the rumbling growl that rattled in my throat. Garrett raised his hands in surrender again, before slowly lowering them to rest on his thighs, he seemed to be making a great effort to make sure I could see his hands at all times. “Charles and I met in 1776, we became fast friends.” The vampire didn’t miss my obvious look of scorn and disbelief. “You see, we share a mutual dislike of tyrannical kings. Both of the human, and vampire variety.”

 

W ith those careful words Garrett had let me know that he did not support the Three Kings, or their brutal regime. The curious vampire sat as still as a statue, perched on the rock by the waters edge the only movement in his otherwise motionless body was his scarlet eyes, which flickered over my face as if he was desperately trying to figure me out. I let the silence hang between us as I mulled over his words, letting the pieces of information slot into place in my brain before I spoke.

 

You fought beside my Father in the Revolutionary War.” Garrett’s static expression twitched a minuscule amount, one side of his mouth lifting into an almost imperceptible smirk. “The Blood Wine, it was for you.” I continued, stating the facts I thought to be true about the enigma that sat so calmly in front of me.

 

G arrett stopped his impression of a marble statue, his face breaking out into a friendly smile. In spite of his unsettling crimson eyes, the essence of his expression was so unlike James’ sinister serpentine smirk. “ Speaking of Blood Wine, your Father still owes me two bottles.”

 

I couldn’t help but snort at that before saying, “Sorry to disappoint, but I gave those away to some friends of mine.”

 

Ha!” Garrett barked out a laugh before shaking his head in mirth as he chuckled, “You certainly are your Father’s daughter, can’t help but make friends with vampires wherever you go.”

 

I shrugged in response, lowering my eyes for the first time since the vampire’s arrival. I swished my arms around the icy waters a moment before looking back at Garrett to see him watching me intently. I should have been unnerved by how closely he was studying me, but not only was I getting more sure by the second that this vampire meant me no harm, I was also confident that if he did decide to try and hurt me that I would be able to defend myself.

 

You never did offer me your name?” Garrett commented,

 

I shrugged innocently, “Isabella.” I responded, figuring I should go with the more formal version of my name since he knew my Dad as Charles a fact that I was going to tease him for when I went home.

 

Garrett hummed appreciatively, “And pray tell, Isabella. Why are you out here all alone?” The question would have been menacing coming from any other vampire, but coming from Garrett I couldn’t help but smile.

 

Just out for a run,” I shrugged. “If you’re truly looking for my Father, you’d have better luck heading west.” I continued, gesturing with my head in the general direction.

 

Is that right? I may just do that, it’s been too long since I have seen the old wolf.” Garrett remarked.

 

I tried to hide my wince when I real ised that the Cullen’s probably wouldn’t be too appreciative of a strange vampire near their territory so soon after the James debacle. Garrett didn’t miss the expression, he raised a questioning eyebrow. “Something to add ?”

 

Just uh…. approach the area with caution. There’s a coven that has claimed the territory, and they’re probably a little bit wary of strangers right now.” I tried not to let too much information slip, while still making my meaning (and my warning) clear. I realised that I truly was my Father’s daughter as I employed his trick of not offering any more information than was strictly necessary.

 

G arrett nodded gratefully as he stood up and turned to leave, before he could I spoke up again. “Oh and Garrett?”

 

The vampire turned around again and raised a brow in question, “If you happen to stumble across a red-headed nomad by the name of Victoria, let me know. Or better yet, bring me her head and I’ll personally make sure you get your hands on some Blood Wine.”

 

Garrett laughed loudly, his hand resting on his chest as if he couldn’t contain his amusement. “ Sure thing, pup.” he chuckled, winking playfully at me before he shot off in a blur of speed.

 

 

I finished cleaning myself off, taking much more effort to be aware of my surroundings than I was before. I pulled my fingers through my hair, pulling apart knots and tugging leaves and sticks out of my tangled curls. Trying to manage my hair was beginning to feel like an impossible task without the help of a hairbrush and some conditioner. My frustration was building and I began to wonder why I bothered keeping my hair so long to begin with. There was so many large tangles and snarls that seemed almost matted together with mud and gods only knew what else. I took a deep breath into my lungs and dove under the water, opening my eyes under the clear stream I started my search. I was looking for a rock that looked even the tiniest bit sharp, and soon found a pointed stone that would do nicely.

 

I grabbed it in my hand and broke the surface, taking in a gasp of fresh air. I hurried to the bank, and found a large flat stone that would serve it’s purpose. I start to roughly grind away one side of my pointed rock against the flat stone, and slowly but surely I worked one of the pointed sides to a crude edge. I held it up to assess my work, turning it one way and then another. I gently ran my finger down the newly sharpened blade edge and I was satisfied that it would be sharp enough to get the job done.

 

I moved back to the waist deep water and held a good chunk of my tangle hair in a closed fist. I took a deep breath to steel my nerves before I took my makeshift blade to my hair. The rock wasn’t as sharp as a knife, and I had to saw away at parts of my hair but it was doing the job. As I hacked and slashed my way through, bits of my hair fell into the water and were carried away by the gentle current. The tangled locks were matted with leaves and twigs, and what I think was a rib-bone from the raccoon I ate on Thursday. Happy to see them go I make quick work of my hair, and when I was done I bent at the waist to dunk my head under the water. I ran my fingers through my now much shorter hair, scratching at my scalp and scrubbing away any dirt I had missed.

 

I flicked my head back and my wet hair fell around my face, I ran my hands through it and I was extremely pleased to note that it was no w free of knots. My hair had always been the same length for pretty much my entire life, regular trims had kept it reaching almost to my mid-back. Now the wet strands just grazed my shoulders in what I could only imagine was a terrible looking choppy mess. I was so happy to be rid of the mass of tangled knots I couldn’t be bothered to be upset with how bad my impromptu haircut looked.

 

I dropped my makeshift knife and let it fall to the riverbed before I trudged my way back to shore. When my feet were back on dry land I did my best to shake off the droplets of water that clung to my now clean skin. I drew a breath deep into my lungs, pulling on that part of myself hidden away inside. Furrowing my brows I felt the pull begin in my stomach before the pain soared throughout my body. I bit back a wretched noise, catching it in my throat before it could escape out my mouth. My bones fractured and reformed under my splitting skin and when I fell down onto my hands I had already completed the transformation.

 

I shook out my damp fur, and quickly disposed of the evidence of my transformation. I lifted my snout to the air, sniffing around for something that smelt appetising . I trotted down the river ba n k before I caught the scent of something tasty, and then I shot off into a sprint to chase after my lunch.

Chapter Text

 

 

My heart was pounding and my breath came in heavy pants as I raced across the open field. I had been a little surprised when the woods had given way to a wide expanse of grassy fields, but I was very quickly distracted by the leaping and prancing of racing stoats. The little brown and white weasels were small and fast and would not even be big enough to constitute a snack, but I couldn’t help the primal impulse to chase the small critters.

 

I wasn’t using all my strength and speed, where would be the fun in that? Instead I chased after the wily weasel, yipping and barking happily as it shifted directions on a dime and I stumbled to change directions too. My tongue was hanging out of my mouth as I bounded along, and then the stoat jumped high into the air and then arched dramatically as it disappeared into it’s burrow.

 

I yipped and huffed as I bounded around the little mound of earth, bowing down playfully like an overgrown puppy. My tail was wagging wildly and I heard the displeased hisses of the stoat as it hid in it’s under ground lair. I barked loudly in response and all I got in return was another snarling noise from the aggravated weasel. It wasn’t like I wanted to eat the little bastard, I just wanted to play. Then again, it probably didn’t know that.

 

Another blur of brown and white caught my attention as a different stoat shot out of it’s hidey-hole. An excited whine built in my chest and I released it in a soft and quiet howl as I took off after it. This stoat was faster, and more wily than the other, and I quickly realised what had made it leave the safety of it’s den in the presence of a terrifying wolf. Up ahead was a large hare. At least five times the size of the stoat that was currently chasing it, and more than big enough to be my lunch.

 

I picked up speed, quickly gaining on the stoat and it made a startled noise as it decided it would rather give up it’s meal than risk becoming mine. I could hear the wet thudding of the hare’s jack hammer heart, and saliva filled my mouth at the thought of tearing into the warm sinewy flesh with my teeth. The hare was still a fair ways away, and I pushed myself faster so I wouldn’t lose my lunch. It suddenly pivoted and started to charge towards the thicket of trees and I growled as I shifted directions to compensate. I lost sight of it as it entered the woods, but I was hot on it’s heels a moment later.

 

The dark grey hare came back into view, I could smell it’s fear and adrenaline and it only made me run faster. It was bounding and twisting, trying it’s best to out maneuver me in the undergrowth. Those tricks would have worked with any normal wolf, but unfortunately for the hare I wasn’t normal. My jaws snapped, teeth clashing together menacingly. I could almost reach the hare’s fuzzy little tail.

 

Just. A little. More….

 

 

 

Something hard as stone and cold as ice smashed into me from the side. Granite arms enveloped my wolf body, pinning my front legs to my heaving chest. I could feel my heartbeat in my ears and the adrenaline from the hunt morphed into something else. I kicked with my hind legs, trying to find purchase but gaining none. I twisted my large head around and I was just about to sink my teeth into the arm of my attacker when their scent filled my lungs.

 

Warm basil and sharp wildflowers. Edward. Home.

 

I twisted in his arms and pulled my head back against his chest, whining and growling and just generally making my displeasure known. Edward slowed and let me go and I landed on the ground with a heavy huff.

 

“Bella,” His voice came in a whisper, “I found you.”

 

I turned around and narrowed my eyes at him as an annoyed growl rumbled in my chest and made my lips twitch and curl around my teeth slightly. Of course I was happy to see him, but right now I was pissed he interrupted my hunt and made me lose my lunch.

 

“Bella?” Edward’s voice rose a little bit in caution as he raised his hands and took a small step back, “It’s me.” He said softly.

 

I huffed and rolled my large wolf eyes at him. Obviously we needed to talk and that would be a lot easier if I actually had a mouth capable of producing words. I turn away from him and start to walk into a denser part of the woods when Edward’s panicked voice calls out. “Bella! Please wait!” There is a gust of wind and then he’s by my side, a hand in the fur between my shoulders and his eyes looking down at me, begging… pleading with me to stay.

 

I huffed again and pushed my large head against his chest, before nudging him with my nose. Edward stumbled as I forced him to take a step back, he seemed unsure and startled. I let out a sigh and turned again, only for Edward to step forward again in an attempt to follow me.

 

For the love of the goddess, give me strength.

 

Just my luck to have the densest fucking vampire in existence.

 

I turn around and nudge him back again with my head. Pushing insistingly, demanding he retreat backwards. “Bella… what?” Edward’s question was cut off as I reared up on my hind legs and placed my large paws on his chest. A mixture of my weight and the strength behind the movement caused Edward to stumble and he landed flat on his back with me towering over him with my paws pressing into his chest.

 

I huffed out my annoyance and my hot breath fanned out over his face. Stay.

 

Got it.” Edward nodded quickly, clearly getting the message.

 

Finally .

 

I trot off into the brush and once I was sure I was mostly hidden I start ed to focus on returning back to human form. A pained whine escaped my mouth as my shoulders snap ped and shift ed under my skin, fur recede s and fangs shr in k back into normal human teeth. I put my hand against a tall spruce for balance and to brace myself as I gingerly get on my feet. I had lost track of what day it was a while back , so I wasn’t entirely sure how long it had been since my bath, but it still felt strange to be back on two legs again.

 

Alright, Edward.” I called out from my hiding place behind the spruce, “Either you better get cool with a lot of stuff really fast, or throw me some clothes because I am naked as the day I was born over here!”

 

 

 

T here was a long stretch of silence and for a terrifying moment I th ought Edward ha d left. Then a large hiking pack smacks into the tree next to me before landing on the grass with a thud. I don’t remember Edward wearing this before, but then again maybe he stashed it somewhere before he tackled me. My hand snap ped out and snag ged the pack and I drag ged it over to me before I rip ped it open and start to rifle through it.

 

T he pack housed a mix of clothes, both in Edward’s size and mine. I fish out a tank top and a pair of knee length tan coloured shorts and pull them on quickly, I don’t bother with underwear since I wasn’t planning on staying human for long. I close the pack and pick it up by one of the straps and slowly walk back to where I left Edward.

 

I take the time to look him over properly and notice that he’s barefooted and the edges of his pant legs are dirty and caked with mud. My eyes rake up his body, taking in the shapes of his muscles under his tight t-shirt. Finally, I look at his face.

 

I was expecting anger. Maybe even disappointment. Instead all I got was heartbreaking worry, and love, and never ending concern. “ Hi,” I whispered.

 

I watch ed with wide eyes as Edward t ook one long stride to close the distance between us before his arms were snaking around my waist and his nose was buried in my neck. The force of the hug caught me off guard, and I dropped the hiking pack on the ground and curled my arms around Edward’s neck. God, Bella.” He breathes my name reverently and with so much love and devotion. It felt like coming home. “I missed you.” I fel t his cool breath on my neck as he breathe d in deeply. I grimace d slightly and resist the urge to pull away, I was sure that I smelt terrible. I could see the smudges of dirt and mud on my arms and I knew that I probably smelt more like the remnants of last nights dinner than anything else.

 

You’re not mad?” I mumbled back, suddenly unsure of myself.

 

I was terrified.” He mumbled into my neck, “I didn’t know where you were. I didn’t know if you were in trouble, or hurt or if you needed my help.”

 

I pulled away slightly, just enough to get some breathing room but not enough to pull myself out of his grip. Edward’s hands rested on my hips and I rested mine on his biceps trying not to think about how nice his arms felt under my hands. When he looked down at me his brows furrowed slightly. “You cut your hair.” One of his hands came up and combed through my short locks.

 

Kinda had to.” I shrugged, “Pretty sure I had animal bones stuck in there,” I smirked and my chest ached when Edward smiled softly and his shoulders shook with an almost silent chuckle. “I’m sorry for worrying you.” I murmured. “If it helps, I didn’t mean to.

 

Edward’s face morphed into my favourite crooked grin, What helped was discovering you had put a hit out on Victoria.” My eyebrows bunched up in confusion and I tilted my head to the side, silently asking for details. “ Better yet, bring me her head and I’ll make sure you get your hands on some Blood Wine. Sound familiar?” Edward’s eyes were twinkling with mirth.

 

M y confused face instantly broke out into a sunny grin, “You met Garrett!” I chirped. I was happy to hear that Garrett had found his way to Forks, given my vague directions I wasn’t sure if he was going to. It also made me happy to hear that there had been a conversation, and that Garrett wasn’t attacked on sight.

 

As my expression brightened, Edward’s darkened. “ Yes. I did.” His words came out short and clipped. My grin faltered and turn ed into a confused sort of half smile as I tried to understand his sudden shift in mood.

 

I tried to get a sense of his emotional state, but I couldn’t make anything out, I was simply overwhelmed with everything that was so completely Edward . After being without him for so long I had forgotten just how intoxicating his scent was. I was left trying to figure him out based on his facial expressions and strange vampiric body language. It took me a moment but I eventually figured it out. “ Are you… jealous?” I took a small step back so I could better gauge his reaction. Edward’s nose wrinkled a tiny amount as he crossed his arms over his chest, a denial forming on his lips. “ Oh my god! You are! Aren’t you!?” I crowed the words, laughter bubbling out my lips. I didn’t mean to laugh at him, really I didn’t. But it just seemed so… absurd. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what Edward was jealous about.

 

This is not funny, Bella.” Edward grumbled.

 

I stopped laughing and looked at him with a teasing smirk, “It’s a little funny.” Edward just frowned at me so I stepped closer to him again, raising my hand to rest against his cheek. “ I’m not sure why you’re jealous, you have no reason to be.”

 

A small growl rumbled in Edward’s chest, “I’ve been inside the man’s head, Bella.”

 

I don’t get what that has to do with it.” I frowned at him and tilted my head to the side, waiting for him to explain himself.

 

He saw you naked.” He spit out, his eyes were downcast but they were hard and steely. I was glad that his glare was directed at the ground and not at me. If he had glared at me like that I wasn’t sure if I would start to cry or if I would snap back at him with anger of my own.

 

So have you.” I retorted as I took a few steps backwards, wanting some space between us.

 

That is not the same!” Edward snapped, angry eyes finally meeting mine. “You were bleeding to death at the time!”

 

T ears or anger?

 

I felt an annoyed growl rumble in my chest. Anger it is.

 

Not like I did it on purpose! As soon as I realised someone was there I tried to cover myself!” I snapped back, crossing my arms over my chest and standing taller than I was before. I met his glare with one of my own.

 

Why didn’t you just transform? Attack him? Scare him off?” Edward demanded, taking a step closer to me.

 

Oh of course!” I sneered, “I’m already a murderer, what’s one more victim?”

 

 

“Bella, what are you-” Edward’s face morphed from anger to confusion, but I cut him off before he could finish his sentence.

 

 

 

The anger was broiling inside me now, and I wasn’t going to hold my tongue. “In spite of what you might think, Edward, I am not a mindless killing machine. Just because I come across a strange vampire doesn’t mean I am going to hulk out and kill them!” The words came flying out my mouth, filled with anger and venom and things I didn’t really mean. I started to pace angrily in the small clearing, “Garrett was a little bit… odd, but he wasn’t a threat. I had no reason to attack him.” I whirled around to face Edward again, “Or would you rather I had? Just to spare you the trouble of reading his thoughts?”

 

 

I watched and waited for Edward to respond. I stood across from him, hands clenched into fists at my sides and coiled as tight as a spring as I waited for him to yell back at me. I was prepared for an argument, for yelling and accusations and denial. I wasn’t prepared for Edward’s soft eyes and softer voice as he said, “What makes you think you’re a murderer?”

 

It was like a punch to the gut, all the air whooshed out of me and I felt hot tears prick at my eyes before they started to streak down my face.

 

Great . Anger and tears. Fucking pathetic.

 

I killed James. Sure it was self defence, but still.” All the heat from my earlier rant was missing now, and the words came out mumbled as I stared at my feet.

 

Oh, Bella.” Edward sighed sadly, “Is that why you ran away?”

 

My eyes snapped up, “I didn’t run away.” I argued, the half raised eyebrow Edward gave me made my argument stutter, “At least not on purpose.” I relented, I angrily swiped away the tears from my face. Edward raised an arm in my direction, palm up, his soft eyes asking a silent question. I took a deep breath and released it in a soft sigh and slowly walked over to him, I took his hand in mine and pressed our bodies together. I raised my other arm and rested my palm against his chest. “I really didn’t.” I mumbled against his chest as Edward’s free hand came up and rested against the back of my head, gently holding me in place. “That first day, I didn’t even realise how far I had gone until I stopped. And then by the time I found something to eat I was so tired I just found a place to sleep.” I tried to shrug but the movement was half halted by our embrace. “The next morning I meant to go home, really I did.”

 

Why didn’t you?” Edward’s question wasn’t accusing, or angry in anyway. It was just curious, and kind.

 

The thought of going back, sitting in school and acting like everything was normal, made me want to rip my hair out.”

 

M uch to my surprise Edward chuckled at my answer, “Well, I certainly understand that feeling.” The hand he had on the back of my head started to slowly caress down my hair, “ Luckily for you that’s not a concern any longer.”

 

I frowned and pulled away from Edward just enough so I could look up at his face, “What are you talking about?”

 

Edward’s eyes twinkled with amusement, “How long do you think you’ve been away, my love?”

 

What a stupid question. “A couple weeks? Maybe three?” I guessed, it was true that after my bath the days had begun to blur together but I still knew how to keep time.

 

You’ve been gone for over 2 months.” He countered, an annoyingly smug smirk pulled at his lips.

 

A pparently I didn’t know how to keep time. “ Well fuck. ” I grumbled, “I’ve seriously fucked up. I guess I’m going to Summer School, huh?”

 

E dward gently traced his fingertips down my face, “Of course not. We covered for you.”

 

I stared at Edward with a dubious expression, “Covered for me how?”

 

Edward teasing smirk turned into a smug little smile, “You have mono and have to stay in bed. You completed your exams at home under the watchful eye of your father.”

 

I couldn’t stop my mouth from opening a tiny bit in shock, “That’s cheating.” I accused,

 

E dward laughed, his shoulders shaking gently. “I think we both know that you would have aced your finals. It was just a formality.” Our conversation was interrupted by the loud grumbling of my stomach, the noise made Edward laugh loudly and he levelled me in a teasing gaze. “A little bit hungry, huh?”

 

I scoffed and rolled my eyes, “Well someone ,” I said, jabbing an accusing finger into his chest, “Let my lunch get away.”

 

I’ll make it up to you,” He promised and he placed a soft kiss on my forehead. I watched as he crouched down and started to rifle through the hiking pack, eventually producing a couple of protein bars. He grinned triumphantly as he stood upright, he held out the bars for me to take.

 

I wrinkled my nose at the offering. “You think that is a fair trade? I was chasing a ten pound hare, and you offer me some protein bars ?” I crossed my arms in mock anger, but I couldn’t stop the smirk that curled on my lips.

 

E dward frowned down at the protein bars in his hand, before he quickly dropped them back into the hiking pack. “ Stay right here, don’t go anywhere.” He said sternly.

 

Okay?” I tilted my head to the side curiously but before I could ask what he was doing he was gone in blur of movement, the only evidence was a gentle flurry of leaves that were kicked up in his wake. I didn’t have long to contemplate his actions before he was back, eyes bright and wild.

 

E dward was grinning, a broad smile that was all teeth and uninhibited glee. I had to bring a hand to cover my mouth to stop myself from laughing, his wild hair was even more of a mess than usual and now housed a collection of pine needles and small twigs. Edward’s wide golden eyes met mine as he held out his prize, a very large (and very dead) hare. He took the final few steps towards me, and offered me the hare.

 

For you, my love.” He said as I took it from him.

 

I laughed lightly, “Some girls get roses, and I get a dead rodent.” I jested before I reached up and kissed his cheek, “Thank you.”

 

Edward seemed to beam with pride and his eyes flickered between my face and my soon to be meal. He raised his eyebrows as if to say well?

 

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at him, “I can’t really eat this raw in my current condition.” I pointed out, I frowned down at my lunch. I didn’t want to transform just yet, I wanted to be able to keep chatting with Edward. I placed the hare on the ground before I started to quickly gather up some dried leaves and tinder, Edward quickly caught on to my plan and started to help me.

 

W ithout much effort we quickly created a circle of stones and got a small campfire blazing. Satisfied with our work I turned back to my lunch, “Do you have a knife?” I asked.

 

E dward smile sheepishly and shook his head, before I watche d as a light went off behind his eyes. He moved over to me and offered me his hand, “No knife, but will these do?” he asked, wiggling his fingers.

 

I smiled and couldn’t help but chuckle, “Yeah,” I crouched down and Edward followed, I noticed how his eyes followed my movements with keen interest. I placed my hand over Edwards, and he let me manoeuvre his sharp fingernails into place. I quickly made a long incision, being careful not to press too hard. I the n dug my hands under the fur and skin of the hare and pulled it free from the muscles with practised ease, sometimes it got caught on the muscles in certain more sinewy places and I grabbed Edward’s hand again and used his sharp vampiric nails to slice through the troublesome piece.

 

Whoa.” Edward whispered and I looked up to see him looking between me and the now fully skinned hare with a strange sort of awe, and I couldn’t help but giggle.

 

First time hunting?” I joked,

 

E dward laughed, “First time doing this, sure.” he admitted.

 

Not finished yet!” I chirped, before I grabbed his hand again and made a larger and deeper incision down the hare’s chest and abdomen. Now all the hare’s organs were exposed, and usually I would happily eat all of them, but they looked considerably less tasty now that I was looking at them with human eyes. I quickly gutted the hare, throwing the organs off into the woods to be eaten by scavengers.

 

I deftly skewered the hare on a couple of branches before I started to cook it over the fire. I settled down on the ground and fidgeted a little bit before I found a comfortable position.

 

E dward settled down next to me, his arm snaked around my waist as he nuzzled his nose against the side of my neck. “ Are we even now?” he whispered into my ear and his voice sent a shiver down my body.

 

I bit my lip for a second before I nodded silently, I tried to focus on cooking my lunch and not the vampire who was placing feather light kisses up and down the side of my neck. “ If you’re not careful, you’re going to make me burn this. And then you’ll owe me another one.” I grumbled, my voice low and deep.

 

I felt Edward’s nose ghost along the shell of my ear before he replied, “Worth it.”

 

I shut my eyes tightly for a moment as a silent war raged inside me. I really was hungry, I hadn’t eaten since the night before, but Edward was making it near impossible to focus on the task at hand. “ You’re terrible.” I muttered as I made a halfhearted attempt to scoot away from him.

 

I’ve missed you.” Was his reply. I felt Edwards fingers tighten on my waist, “My heart has ached for you, my Bella.”

 

I couldn’t help but lean into his touch, and as my shoulder pressed into his chest I heard Edward growl. That made me baulk a little in shock. I pulled back slightly to look from my rapidly cooking lunch to Edward’s face. Before I could take in his expression, his lips were on mine. Hard and forceful, one hand curled into the hair at the back of my head the other still grasping my hip. I gasped against his lips as I returned his kiss with equal fervour. I wrapped my hand around the back of his neck, holding his lips against mine as they moved together. My other hand bunched up his shirt into a tight fist as I pushed him down onto his back.

 

M uch to my surprise, Edward didn’t stop me, his hand tighten ed in my hair a minuscule amount before I felt his hand drift from my waist to firmly grasp my ass . I let out a wanton moan, and Edward answered it with a deep growl of his own. Eventually I had to pull back so I could catch my breath, and as I came back to my senses I gasped and turned my head to look at the fire. I had been so caught up in the moment, totally distracted by Edward’s passionate kisses that I had dropped my lunch directly into the flames.

 

I groaned in frustration and dropped my forehead to Edward’s chest, lamenting the loss of my meal for the second time. Edward’s hand came up and started to rub soothing circles on my back, and I could feel him chuckling underneath me. “ This isn’t funny, Edward.” I muttered. “ And it’s also your fault. Again.

 

E dward only laughed harder, the strength of it causing my whole body to shake along with him. I felt as Edward’s arms came around my torso, holding me against him tightly. “I’ll happily catch you a thousand rabbits, as long as I never have to leave your side ever again.”

 

It only counts if I actually get to eat them.” I muttered indignantly as I snuggled against him. My stomach was still gnawing at me and I could feel it gurgle unhappily at the fact that I had denied it food once again. I couldn’t find it in me to move though, I was too happy right where I was. Curled up in Edward’s loving embrace.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Eventually the hunger pangs in my stomach became too much to ignore, and I decided it was time to get up and do something about it. With a heavy sigh I pulled away from Edward, doing my best to ignore the way he tried to cling to me and keep me exactly where I was. I stood up straight and stretched my arms above my head and craned my neck side to side. We had stayed tangled up in each others arms for hours, simply enjoying each others scents and the silence of the woods around us.

 

The camp fire had almost burnt out, only a few small flickering flames and red hot embers remained. I wrinkled my nose at the smell of the charred remains of the hare before I started to kick dirt over the fire to smother it.

 

“What are you doing?” Edward asked in a panicked voice as he got to his feet beside me, “How are you going to cook the rabbit I’m going to catch for you if you put out the fire?”

 

I scoffed and rolled my eyes as I continued my task, “You’ve already cost me two meals, I’m not gonna risk a third. I’m planning on catching my own dinner, thank you very much.”

 

Once I was satisfied that the fire was completely smothered I turned my back to Edward and pulled the tank top up and over my head.

 

“Bella!” I heard Edward gasp, and I heard his movements as he turned around. “What in God’s name are you doing!?”

 

I couldn’t help but smirk as I threw the top over my shoulder, “Changing.” I answered simply as I shed the shorts as well. My smirk widened into a self satisfied grin at the half groan-half choking sound that Edward made.

 

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, before I started to pull on the thin thread inside of me that would cause my human form to unravel and my lupine self to emerge. The warmth deep in my gut started to grow into a pulsing hot flame, and it began to spread throughout my body. I stifled a groan as the agonising sensation started to stutter and stop, before beginning again. It seemed that my hunger was more of an issue than I thought.

 

“Bella, are you okay?” Edward’s voice drifted over to me but it sounded like I was underwater.

 

“Fine.” I managed to growl out as sharp pain shot through my body and brought me to my knees. I could feel my bones under my skin shift and I couldn’t stop myself from moaning in pain. I felt my face start to elongate, my mouth and nose growing and morphing into a monstrous snout. The skin of my face was being pulled and stretched painfully, before it finally snapped under the pressure. The human skin cracked and peeled away in bloody sheets as my dark brown fur took it’s place. This time, when I moaned in pain it came out as a lupine whine. Slowly the rest of my body followed suit, and I was left huffing and puffing as I tried to recover from the ordeal.

 

I quickly ate the remains of my human skin, but it did nothing to satisfy my hunger. I felt a cool hand on my back, fingers curling into the fur between my shoulders. “Bella?” Edward asked, his tone slightly worried.

 

I turned my body and pressed my nose into Edward’s palm, before moving and rubbing my body against Edward’s side as a needy whine escaped me and made my lips twitch. Hungry. I let loose an agitated growl, and Edward seemed to get the message as he raised a hand to clutch at his stomach as if he were experiencing the same hunger pains I was. He picked up the hiking pack and slung it onto his shoulders, “Lead the way.”

 

I immediately put my nose to the ground and started to sniff around for a scent trail to follow, and the first thing I smelt was the scattered remains of the innards I had thrown into the woods earlier. I plodded over to them and sniffed at them for a moment, considering whether or not to eat them. They were no longer warm, having cooled significantly after sitting in the woods for hours, decay had started to set in slightly and a couple of flies were already buzzing around. I was hungry enough that this didn’t deter me and I quickly snapped them up, barely taking the time to bite the organs before I swallowed them down my gullet.

 

I heard Edward make a strange noise behind me, something between a gasp and a groan, and I turned to see him pressing his hand over his mouth, his nose wrinkling as he narrowed his eyes at me. “ That was pretty gross, Bella.” He muttered from behind his hand.

 

I snapped my teeth at him, but the fact that my tail was wagging happily kinda took all the anger out of the action. I padded over to him and reared back on my hind legs, placing my front paws on his shoulders for balance as I swiped my tongue up the side of his face.

 

Seriously!?” Edward laughed loudly as he pushed me away before using the bottom of his shirt to wipe his face, and I couldn’t stop myself from eyeing his muscled abdomen. I yipped at him, and moved my weight from one paw to the other as I sniffed the air for any hint of prey.

 

T here was a slight breeze, and as I trotted through the woodlands with Edward walking just behind me, the wind changed directions and I caught a familiar scent. My nose twitched as I took the time to contemplate the scent. I let loose a whine, and turned to look at Edward.

 

H e raised his head slightly, making a show out of scenting the air. “Elk,” He shrugged.

 

 

I huffed, I knew that it was elk. I was just wondering if that was what Edward was interested in hunting, then again I didn’t think to even ask him if he were hungry before I transformed. I tenderly bumped my head against Edward’s hand before taking off at a sprint, following the scent eagerly.

 

I shifted up wind, circling around where I knew the elk were hiding in a clearing not too far away. I could already hear their heartbeats, calm and thudding as they grazed in the afternoon sun. I slowed down as I approached the edge of the woods, and I sat back on my haunches as I surveyed the small herd. My tail thumped against the grass as I tried to decide which of the elk would become my dinner.

 

N ear the middle of the herd, a large buck raised it’s head and bugled loudly. The sound echoing out around the rest of the elk who were munching happily on the grass. Decision made, I rose to my feet before I lowered myself down into a predatory bow. There was no cover between me and my meal, so I knew that there was no hope of sneaking close before I could strike out. I would have to sprint away from my hiding spot and into the heart of the herd, before chasing down my bounty. It wouldn’t be much of a chase, but the prospect was still ex hilarating.

 

M y tongue flicked out and licked down each side of my muzzle and over my nose, saliva already pooling in my mouth at the thought of the warm flesh of the stunning bull elk.

 

 

 

 

I shot off like a bullet fired from a gun, claws digging into the earth to gain traction. As I approached the herd there was an uproar of noise, warning calls and the clamouring of hooves as the elk rushed to flee from the terrifying predator quickly closing in. I ignored the cows, and the easy prey of their yearling calves, and instead headed straight for my prize.

 

The bull was arrogant. Years of being the dominate male had made him large and strong, his antlers were like a bone crown that weaved around his head and declared him king. Instead of running as he should have, he bugled threateningly before he lowered his head and kicked at the dirt with his front hoof. If the beast wanted a fight, I was more than happy to oblige him.

 

A grow l reverberated in my chest, a n utterly feral sound that sounded more monstrous than any animal had any right to be. I was approaching the bull with startling speed, and I started to consider how I would go about taking down my kill while avoiding the sharp points of his antlers.

 

Before I could reach a conclusion I watched as Edward appeared, seemingly from thin air. He had removed his shirt, and his bare chest glistened beautifully in the soft afternoon sun. I slowed my attack as I watched him move with supernatural speed and grace. I was captivated by the sight and couldn’t tear my eyes away from this exhibition of stunning prowess. Edward didn’t slow down as he lowered into a crouch before launching himself at my dinner.

 

T he bull had been entirely focused on me, and he was completely blindsided by the vampire who tackled him from the side. Edward’s face was distorted into a snarl, his lips curling over his teeth and his eyes were black and laser focused on his prey.

 

H e was magnificent.

 

Edward roared as his arms circled around the thick neck of the bull, his teeth tearing into the dense skin. I was mesmerised by the display, and even though I was a little put out over the fact he had stolen my meal I was happy to sit a few paces away from him as he held the still writhing animal in a vice like grip as he drained it dry. The muscles in his arms rippled, and I could see the muscles in his shoulders move in tandem as he held down the enormous beast. The bull tried to kick, but as Edward continued to drink the movements became slower and more stilted, until they stopped completely.

 

E dward was still finishing the last remnants of the animal’s blood when his eyes opened, and he looked over at me. Bright eyes, shining gold stared at me as he drank his fill. Slowly he raised his head from the neck of the now dead creature, he brought the back of his hand up and with one slow movement wiped the blood from his mouth, never once did h is gaze stray from mine. Edward’s attempt to remove the blood from his mouth did little more that smear it on the other side of his face, as well as the back of his hand and wrist.

 

Edward slowly rose from his crouch, a smile playing at the corners of his lips. He tightly grasped one of the bull’s antlers, and used it to haul the creature over towards me, walking with prideful steps he quickly covered the short distance between us . Edward dropped his kill at my feet, and then ran his hand from the fur between my ears down the length of my body. A gentle growl rumbled in my chest and it turned into a pleasurable whine as Edward returned his hand to my head to scratch at the fur behind my ears.

 

 

For you, my love.” He murmured, an answering purr radiated in his chest.

 

 

 

I didn’t have to be told twice, and I wasted no time tearing into the still warm flesh. I devoured the beast’s heart, as well as the rich liver and kidneys, before I started to tear chunks of meat from the flank. I quickly ate my fill, and when I was finished I turned to see Edward sitting in the grass, leaning back on his hands as he watched me with rapid fascination.

 

I trotted over to him, and pressed my wet nose to his cheek, adding to the already smeared mess of blood that coloured his pale face. Edward raised his arms, circling them around my neck in a strange sort of hug, and I felt as he nuzzled his face into the fur on my neck. I pressed myself against him before I pulled away. I wanted to be able to hug him back, and that would be so much easier if I had arms. I looked around for Edward’s hiking pack, and noticed it tossed on the ground beside his shirt some feet away near the treeline.

 

I started towards the pack,

 

Bella?” Edward called softly from his spot on the grass,

 

I huffed loudly to show that I had heard him, but kept moving towards the pack. I reached it and grabbed it in my jaws, being careful not to tear at the straps with my sharp canine teeth. I lugged it into the woods, and when I was certain I was out of sight I dropped it to the ground.

 

W ith a full stomach I found it much easier to return to my human form. Fangs became teeth, and fur disappeared into my pale human flesh. There was a slight chill to the summer air as the sun was beginning it’s decent, and I quickly dug through the pack to find some clothes.

 

O nce I was dressed I slung the heavy pack over one shoulder and strode back into the small field. Edward was right where I had left him, but now he was laying down on his back with his hands behind his head as he watched the clouds dance in the sky above him. Every now and again a stray beam of sunlight from the setting sun would dance across his chest and burst into a thousand rainbows.

 

A s I walked towards him I paused to scoop up his forgotten shirt, and as I approached him I flung it at him playfully. “ I’m not sure why you bothered to take that off, you got more blood on your face than anywhere else.” I teased as I dropped the pack on the ground before I sat down beside him.

 

Precaution.” Edward shrugged, still staring up at the sky. “I guess I should get dressed now.”

 

No!” I exclaimed loudly, and I saw Edward’s mouth twitch as he tried to hide his laughter. I blushed furiously, “I just- I mean,” I stuttered,

 

Yes, Bella?” Edward asked in a teasing tone, finally turning his head to look at me.

 

I scowled and smacked my hand against his bare chest, “You are terrible, teasing me like that.” I grouched.

 

 

E dward laughed loudly, throwing his head back with a wide smile on his face. He sat up and brushed the back of his knuckles softly against my cheek, “You’re all flushed.” He smirked.

 

 

Well, who wouldn’t be with you sitting there all half naked and sexy looking?” I grumbled.

 

 

 

Call it payback for earlier.” He murmured as he leaned closer to me, his lips barely brushed against mine as he spoke. “Because believe me, if I could blush I would have when I saw you remove your clothing in front of me.” I shivered as I felt his hand ghost down my spine, “The naked curve of your back…” Edward breathed out a heavy sigh that bordered on a groan,I’m from a very different time, Bella. Such things just weren’t done.”

 

I swallowed thickly, and when I managed to find my voice it was deep and raspy. “Well, I am very sorry for offending your Victorian sensibilities.”

 

I shuddered as Edward placed an open mouth kiss to the column of my throat, before he raised his mouth to whisper in my ear. “Actually, I’m Edwardian.”

 

I couldn’t stop the booming laughter that followed, my body shaking with the effort as I fell back onto the grass . Edward followed suit, laughing loudly as I pulled him along side me. Tears streaked down my face as I slowly tried to regain my composure. I wrapped my arms around my stomach as it began to ache from the strength of my laughter . I took a deep shuddering breath, a few short giggles escaping as I curled into Edwards side. His arms came around and pulled me close, as I rested my head on his chest.

 

Edwardian. Noted.” I tittered.

 

T he sun had set and I found that I didn’t want to move from my spot in Edward’s arms. Edward’s hand slowly caressed my hair and down my back, and I hummed happily as I traced nonsense patterns on his bare chest. Eventually I began to tire, and I didn’t try and stop myself from falling asleep, happily content in Edward’s arms under the blazing night sky of the Canadian wilderness.

Chapter Text

 

I woke up in a place that I had most definitely not fallen asleep in. Gone was the grass half trampled by the stampede of elk that I had caused, and in its place was the stony banks of a shallow river.

 

To say I was confused was an understatement.

 

I was laying on a rolled out sleeping bag, which made the pointy-stabby stones a little more bearable, but only added to my confusion. A gentle splashing sound caught my attention and I turned my head to see Edward standing in the river.

 

Edward had rolled up his pant legs so they wouldn’t get wet as he stood in the few inches of water that moved in gentle ripples over the stony river bed. He was wearing a grey t-shirt that seemed just a little too tight, not that I would ever say that to him. Edward bent down and splashed the clear water over his arms, and scrubbed at his face and I watched as he slowly rid himself of the dried remains of last nights meal. He ran his wet hands through his hair, droplets of water clung to his bronze locks and as he righted himself he shook his head like a wet dog and I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.

 

At the sound of my laughter he turned to me and grinned, “You’re awake,” He remarked as he started to walk towards me, water splashed around his legs as he moved.

 

“Yes, also confused. How did I get here?” I mumbled as I forced myself into an upright position.

 

Edward smirked at me, the sort of smug smirk that made me want to smack him “You were dead to the world, my dear. And I really had to clean up, so I carried you here.” He explained it all as if it were completely normal. As if his actions were the only sane thing to do in that situation, instead of what they actually were. Totally bizarre.

 

I rolled my eyes and resisted the urge to lob a small stone in his general direction, “You couldn’t have just left me there and come back?”

 

“And risk you running off again? Not a chance.” His tone was teasing, but I could sense a hint of seriousness there. It seemed to be Edward’s way, he didn’t know how to address any of his insecurities, instead he either covered them with anger or in this case, dismissive humour. My running away had deeply affected him, more than I had realised, and I felt like shit for it. I honestly hadn’t stopped to think about how he would feel, not for long anyway. I had figured he would be worried and a bit angry, but other than that I had paid him no mind. I was totally and completely absorbed in my own selfish issues that I didn’t think about how Edward felt.

 

I ran away to burn off all that anger and nervous energy, desperate to leave everything behind, not stopping to think that Edward would feel left behind. Abandoned. Forgotten.

 

I shot to my feet and rushed to Edward’s side, my feet splashed in the ice cold water but it didn’t slow me as I crashed into him. I wrapped my arms around his neck and held myself against him with every ounce of strength I had. It took a moment for Edward to respond, but when he did he quickly wrapped his arms around me, one circling around my body to press a hand against my lower back and the other on the back of my head.

 

Not that I’m complaining, but what’s this for?” Edward’s voice rumbled against my ear, and I pressed myself further into the crook of his collar bone.

 

I promise that if I ever run away again, I’ll take you with me.” I said the words with my cheek pressed against where his heart sat silent in his chest. I couldn’t promise that I wouldn’t run away again, because I didn’t know if that was a promise I could keep. Edward didn’t respond, but I felt his hold on me tighten a little bit. I took a long deep breath of his scent, and instantly felt even worse. Mixed with his warm summery scent was the scent of grief and heartache, of relief and gratitude, and yet underneath all that was a bitter sort of apprehension the sour taste of fear and abandonment. “I’m sorry,” I said the words sternly and clearly, I didn’t want there to be any misunderstanding between us.

 

Bella, you don’t have to apologise.” Edward murmured and I could feel it as he rested his cheek against the top of my head.

 

I pulled away from him slightly, but I kept my arms looped around his neck. I slowly grazed my finger tips over his skin as I brought a hand to cup his cheek. I held his face in my palm, and forced him to look at me. “ Yes. I do.” I asserted as I gently caressed his cheek with my thumb as I stared deeply into his golden eyes, “I was gone for over two months. You went from comforting me, to chasing after me in the woods, to then losing me in the woods.” I shook my head and frown sadly at him, “ I didn’t even stop to think about how that would have made you feel. So yes, I do have to apologise, Edward. Because I am sorry, I am so so sorry that I made you feel like I had abandoned you. I never wanted to do that to you.” As I finished my little speech my voice had become steadily less strong and sure, and more coarse as I tried my best to keep my tears at bay. I swallowed the lump that had formed in my throat, “I will never do that to you again. I’ll never leave you behind like that ever again.

 

 

I stared at Edward and waited for him to respond, he studied my face for a moment and I watched as he clenched and unclenched his jaw, his eyes seemed sad and brimming with tears, his mouth pressed into a tight line. “ Promise? ” He whispered, his eyes flickered down and he looked so damn vulnerable. Gone was the century old vampire, and in his place was a nervous and insecure seventeen year old boy. Someone who was usually so guarded and composed, was standing before be completely bare, his heart exposed and in my hands. In that moment I knew I had complete power over him, and I would never abuse that power ever again.

 

I promise.” I vowed, and I paused for a moment before I continued. “Can you forgive me?” It was a desperate plea, I needed to know that he knew that I wouldn’t leave him behind again.

 

Of course!” Edward breathed, his forehead coming to rest against mine. I closed my eyes and pressed a chaste kiss to his lips, I felt his smile before he said. “I wasn’t going to say anything… I wasn’t sure how.

 

Well, I guess it helps to have a girlfriend who can sense your emotions.” I teased.

 

I stepped out of Edward’s arms and splashed my way back to shore, I could hear Edward close behind. “ So what are we doing today?” I chirped.

 

I thought we could start heading home.” Edward replied nonchalantly. I plopped down on the sleeping bag and looked up at Edward as he walked towards me. It occurred to me that I would be more than happy to remain in the woods with Edward forever. Eating whatever we could catch, sleeping under the stars and bathing in mountain streams seemed like a delightful way to spend eternity. I didn’t need four walls and a roof, I didn’t need shops or cars or any of the other amenities that human civilisation afforded me. I had no urge to blend into human society, moving every fifteen to twenty years, changing my name and identity. I would be content to simply roam the wilderness with Edward. Home, to me, was wherever Edward was.

 

That being said, I saw what he wanted, what he needed. Edward loved his family, and I wasn’t sure that Edward even knew how much he needed them, how much he relied on them. He needed his brothers, who teased and annoyed him and pulled him out of his shell when he got lost in his own head. Edward needed his sisters, Alice who understood Edward in a way that no one else could, the burden of their gifts bound them in a way that no one else could possibly understand, and Rosalie who was fiercely protective of him, like a lioness defending her cub. Edward needed his mother, a person who saw who his was under his mask and could hug him and make him feel safe and small and protected even though he towered over Esme by more than half a foot. Edward needed his father, a man who has been by his side for over a century. A man who has stood by him through every trial and tribulation, never wavering in his gentle love and support. Edward needed Carlisle (even though I was sure he would be loath to admit it) for advice, because even after a hundred years of life there were still things that Edward didn’t understand. Even as much as he complained about it, he even loved going to school over and over. He needed to blend, to pretend, because some part of him needed to hold on to his lost humanity. Edward loved having a place to call home, a place to escape to whenever the burdens of his existence became too much. He loved having his own room, a space to fill with all sorts of stuff, a place to relax that was wholly his own. I knew that if I asked, he would follow me anywhere, he would go full native and live a nomadic lifestyle with me. That was the reason I could never ask. It was no skin off my nose to go back and live in a house and bathe daily like a normal human being, it wasn’t like I would be sacrificing anything.

 

N ot like he would be. As much as I wanted to be, I couldn’t be Edward’s whole world. There were things that he needed that I couldn’t give him. And that was okay.

 

I beamed up at him, giving him a megawatt smile. “Home sounds good.”

Chapter Text

 

 

As it turns out, Edward and I had very different methods of travelling. Of course, I had expected the obvious differences, that being my preferred mode of long distance running was of the four legged variety as opposed to Edward’s much more ‘human’ bi-pedal approach. What I didn’t expect, was for Edward to be so… boring.

 

I t seems that once there was a destination in mind, Edward preferred to travel in a straight line. Or as much as a straight line the woods and mountains and human settlements would allow. On the other hand (Or paw, as it were), I often found myself darting off track in pursuit of lunch, or an interesting scent, much to Edward’s annoyance. I didn’t see what the big deal was, we would get home when we got home, whether I wasted half a day travelling in the wrong direction hardly seemed that important.

 

W e were just starting to approach the outer edges of the Cullen/Swan pack territory when I caught a distinct and familiar scent. Worn leather and gunpowder, the earthy, dusty scent of iron rich sandstone that was so alien in the mossy Washington rain-forest it may have well been a neon sign screaming ‘ Your Dad is here!’.

 

I yipped out excitedly and immediately turned to follow after the scent.

 

“Bella! For the love of god!” Edward shouted behind me, “We are almost home! Where the hell are you going now?!” I heard him turn to pursue me, and I felt a burst of rabid excitement explode in my chest. I couldn’t help it. The thrill of the chase seemed to be just as exhilarating if you were the one being chased, or at least it was when it was Edward doing the chasing.

 

I howled wildly. The sound was low and deep, just as much bark as it was a howl.

 

I could hear Edward gaining on me, so I pushed myself faster, digging the pads of my paws deep into the soft soil.

 

“Bella! I’m serious! Come back!” Edward yelled out in a frustrated and commanding tone as the distance between us grew.

 

I ignored him.

 

My nose twitched as I continued to track my dad through the woods. Bounding over fallen logs and weaving expertly through the tight-knit trees. I could hear him now, the steady thud of his heart beat and the panting of his breaths as he raced through the woods.

 

I howled again, this time in greeting. The high-pitched noise echoed out around me, and when I heard my Dad join in I modulated the tone of my howl to harmonise with his. I could hear the thuds of his footfalls slow as he let me catch up to him. I raced forwards and before long I saw the tan-coloured wolf that was my dad.

 

I raced up to him and pounced, knocking us both to the ground in a tangle of limbs and playfully snapping jaws. Charlie’s wolf form was significantly larger than my own, and while you could easily mistake me for a slightly larger than average wolf, there was no way in hell that Charlie could be mistaken for anything less than supernatural.

 

We had just stopped our playful wrestling match when Edward caught up. He came bursting through the undergrowth and into the small clearing we were in. His face was twisted into a scowl, his eyebrows furrowed and a deep frown on his lips. He looked set to lecture me but seemed to stop himself when he saw who I was with. Edward opened his mouth to speak, and then closed it again, his annoyed scowl turning into an adorably confused frown.

 

I rolled around playfully on my back for a moment, twisting and turning I threw my head back to look over at Edward. He rolled his eyes at me and crossed his arms, I huffed out a breath and rolled over before getting to my feet.

 

I turned back to my dad who was looking at me with an amused glint in his eye. His golden fur was moving gently in the breeze, and I found myself once again jealous of my father’s coat. It was a delightfully golden colour that darkened to a deep brown at the base of his ears and around his muzzle, and lightened to a greyish white around his chest and underbelly. I had always felt his wolf form was much more beautiful than my own. My own coat was incredibly mundane by comparison, a deep dark brown that could disappear easily into the shadows, my paws were slightly darker, bordering on black, as were my ears and underbelly.

 

I shook my entire body, shaking free the leaves and pine needles that had become stuck in my fur. I padded over to Charlie and lowered my head, he lowered his own in response and we bumped our heads together affectionately. I rubbed my head against his large neck as I tried my best to send him my apologies. I tried to convey to him that I was sorry, that I didn’t mean to be gone for so long, and that I had missed him.

 

Charlie growled deep in his chest, and the message he sent back to me was much more complex and nuanced than the one I had managed to project. It was easy enough to translate. I could feel that he was glad to see me, he was happy I was home safe, although there was an undertone of annoyance to that relief. There was a surge of protectiveness for me, and a deep seated distrust that was aimed towards Edward. I pulled away to stare into Charlie’s bright yellow eyes as I received the last of his message, the desire to talk with me, properly talk.

 

I nodded my head slowly, showing him I understood.

 

“Hello, Chief Swan.” Edward spoke up for the first time, and my dad simply turned his large lupine head to glower at him. He huffed angrily before turning and heading off at a sprint.

 

I cocked my head curiously at Edward, hoping to convey my confusion. Edward just smiled a tight lipped smile at me and I narrowed my eyes suspiciously at him before taking off after my dad. I followed Charlie, and Edward followed us both, and as the large river came into view I realised that Charlie was leading us towards the Cullen’s house.

 

Charlie launched himself gracefully over the water, and I was right behind him. As we entered the Cullen’s back yard, I saw that Carlisle and Esme were waiting for us on the porch.

 

Carlisle smiled warmly in greeting, “Ah, Charlie. Back from patrol I see.” His golden eyes turned to me and Edward, “And you found our wayward children as well.” he commented playfully, his thin lips quirking into an amused smirk.

 

Charlie huffed out a heavy breath as he plodded up the wooden stairs, he offered a nod of greeting to Esme, who in turn reached out affectionately to graze her fingers through Charlie’s fur as he passed them by, before walking through the open back door and going inside the Cullen house. It looked totally bizarre, a massive wolf simply wandering into a Victorian era mansion as if he owned the place.

 

I looked up at Edward, and he reached out and smoothed back my ears as he petted my head. I shook off his hand and reached for the hiking pack on his back, grasping the strap gingerly between my front teeth and pulling lightly.

 

Edward understood what I wanted and quickly shrugged off the pack and offered it to me. I took it and rushed off to the tree line to transform and get dressed.

 

XxXx

 

I never really thought about how much things could change in two months. I’m sure that if I hadn’t run off, that the changes would have come gradually. They would have happened slowly, and seemed normal and natural. That being said, I had run off, and so the changes were completely and utterly crazy.

 

I walked into the living room of the Cullen house, dressed in an ill-fitting shirt and pants, bare feet slapping against the hard wood, to see Esme buzzing around Charlie like a worried mother hen. And even more strange, Charlie was allowing it. He was more than allowing it, he seemed to be enjoying it, if the amused smirk tugging on his lips was any indication. I couldn’t help but wonder if everyone else had gone barking mad in my absence. Esme was pulling thin pine needles out of Charlie’s messy post transformation hair, and he was just… sitting there.

 

I cleared my throat as a way to announce my entrance, and Esme turned to face me immediately. Her warm and welcoming smile turned into a little gasp, “Oh dear! Look at you!” She fussed as she hurried over to where I was still awkwardly standing in the entry way. “Come here, dear.” She urged, clasping my hand in hers she pulled me into the room and gently pushed me to sit down on the ottoman.

 

“What?” A single word was all I could get out before Esme started her fretting.

 

She started to gently coax pine-needles and leaves from my tangled hair, “You are just like your father. What am I ever going to do with the pair of you?” She hummed, she chuckled lightly.

 

I looked to my dad, confusion clear in my eyes and he just shook his head with a smirk. “Just let it happen, Bells.” He chuckled.

 

This continued for a couple of incredibly baffling minutes, and then Edward appeared. His hair was damp, and his clothes were fresh, it seems he had taken the opportunity to shower.

 

Charlie’s amused smile fell, and he stood up stiffly. “Thank you, Esme. But we better be getting home now. I’m sure Bella would like a chance to shower and change, and then I need to have a private chat with my daughter.” He said, glancing purposefully at Edward, as if to say ‘so that means no following us home and lurking in the woods nearby.’

 

“Of course!” Esme chirped, “I’m so glad you’re home, sweetheart.” Esme cooed as she bent down to give me a soft hug.

 

Not sure what else to do, I simply offered Edward a smile as I followed my dad silently outside to his waiting cruiser. Better to say nothing at all, than to say the wrong thing and make this worse. I wasn’t sure what Charlie wanted to talk about, but I could tell it wasn’t going to be an easy conversation. Maybe I should have just stayed in the Canadian wilderness.

Chapter Text

 

My dad was quiet on the ride home. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. A part of me wanted to break the silence, to speak and shatter the tepid peace that filled the police cruiser. But I didn’t. I didn’t start to ramble on about my time away, or to start thanking him for covering for me with the school. I didn’t say a single thing, because for the first time in my entire life, Charlie was making no effort to hide his emotions from me.

 

I could sense his anxiety, the heat of it filled the small space between us. It was dry, and stifling, like the peak of an Arizona heatwave. Underneath the rippling waves of anxiety was an undercurrent of possessiveness, and steadfast suspicion. I wasn’t sure what to make of Charlie’s emotional state, hell I wasn’t even sure he knew I could get such clear readings on his feelings. I kept waiting for him to say something, say anything to at least give me a hint to what it was he needed to talk about.

 

It wasn’t until we were home, and standing in the entry-way that Charlie finally spoke. “ You go on up and have a shower, I’ll make us some dinner.”

 

I paused as I thought over his words. They were said so casually, so calmly. So… normally. I didn’t know what to say, or how to act. But I did really want a hot shower. Maybe I was overestimating how well I could survive indefinitely in the wilderness, because at that moment a hot shower sounded like heaven. I swallowed any questions I had and nodded, “Alright,”

 

I tried not to over think things while I scrubbed away my time in the woods. It didn’t seem like Charlie had any issue with me. It didn’t feel like he was angry at me at all. The only reason for that I could think of was the chat we had about his sister, about how female wolves sometimes need a little independence from the pack. A part of me had been banking on that, and I had been prepared to bring it up if Charlie started ranting at me. But he hadn’t, so I didn’t. Also, I wasn’t stupid. I knew that he had probably been out of his mind with worry. I was his kid, it only made sense for him to be worried about me disappearing into the wilderness.

 

I stepped out of the shower and roughly towel dried my hair. It had grown a little bit since the impromptu haircut, and now reached just past my collarbones. I looked at myself in the mirror, my pale face flushed red from the hot shower. Without the weight of the extra length my hair was curling more, tighter and messier ringlets tangling with half-formed waves. My father’s hair. I had inherited more than just his lycanthropy, I had his eyes, his hair, and I was tall like him too. The only thing I had inherited from Renee it seems was my pale skin, light and creamy as opposed to Charlie’s dark tanned olive skin tone.

 

I rushed to my bedroom and threw on some clean clothes, tossing my wet towels and dirty clothes in my hamper. I thudded my way down the stairs and tried my best to remain calm, but no matter how much I tried I could not stifle the growing dread of the conversation to come.

 

I rounded the corner and came into the kitchen and saw that Charlie was just finishing up our dinners, some sort of creamy pasta dish.

 

He looked up at me and smiled, “Relax, Bella. You look like you’re heading to your own execution.” Charlie jested, clearly trying to put me at ease.

 

I managed a half smile in return and shuffled over to the kitchen table, sitting down where Charlie placed my bowl. “ Thanks,” I mumbled, taking a bite of the food. We ate together in silence for a moment before I couldn’t stand it anymore. “I’m sorry.” I blurted out suddenly.

 

What?” Charlie mumbled around a mouthful of pasta.

 

I’m sorry for running off. I’m sorry for leaving without telling you. I’m sorry I was gone for so long, I really didn’t mean to do any of it. It’s just – god, Dad I don’t know. I felt like I was going crazy, I couldn’t stand it. I felt like I was trapped and if I didn’t get out I was going to die. I know you probably think I’m being dramatic but I’m not, and-I ranted hastily, the words came tumbling out of me and when I took a breath to continue Charlie took the chance to interrupt.

 

You think I’m angry at you?” He asked softly.

 

M y words became stuck in my throat, leaving me sitting there with my mouth open and a word half-formed on my tongue. I closed my mouth and blinked slowly, shaking my head gently before opening my eyes. “You’re not?” I asked, furrowing my eye brows in confusion.

 

No, Bella. I’m not angry at you. I was worried for you, of course. But I knew you would be back when you were ready.” Charlie answered smoothly, he placed his fork in his bowl and pushed it away from himself a little bit, his eyes focused solely on me now. Whatever had allowed me to feel his emotions so clearly in the car had stopped, and Charlie was back to being an unreadable enigma.

 

You are angry though, or at least you were.” I hedged, I copied his movements and pushed my half-eaten meal away.

 

Yes, but not at you. I am angry at Edward.” Charlie’s eyes darkened slightly, a frown creased his face.

 

I huffed out a breath, “Edward? Why?”

 

I told him not to go after you, and he didn’t listen.” Charlie’s voice was rough, his anger showing through in his growly tone.

 

So you’re angry at him because he didn’t listen to you?” I repeated. It felt like I was missing something, some important piece of information that would make all this make sense.

 

I t was Charlie’s turn to let out an exasperated breath of air, “Well not just that, I suppose.” Charlie paused and I waited for him to continue. Charlie saw my expectant expression and grimaced before continuing. “ I told him that you would come back when you were ready. That you could look after yourself, and just because he is your mate does not give him the right to chase after you and force you home. Because I knew – and I told him this – that even if you weren’t ready, that you would come home if he asked. It was disrespectful, and there are many things I can abide, but someone disrespecting my daughter is not one of them.”

 

 

I stared at Charlie blankly for a moment, trying to comprehend his words. Mate . Charlie had explained the concept of mates to me, it was part of a completely mortifying sex talk he had forced me to endure when I was about 1 4 . He explained that the Goddess had made a perfect partner for each of her people, not someone perfect exactly, but perfect for you. Someone who would love you with everything they had, protect you, and would do anything in order to make you happy. And in turn, you would feel the same. When you meet this person, Charlie had said, you would want nothing more than to be as close to them as you possibly could. Every fibre of your being would yearn for them, and you would burn the whole world if it meant keeping them safe. They would challenge you, push you to be the best version of yourself, that the Goddess knew exactly what you needed even if you didn’t.

 

I had rolled my eyes at the time, it all sounded so sappy and romantic. I had sarcastically asked if I was supposed to not date anyone until I found my mate. Thinking that this was some coy attempt at abstinent only sex ed. Charlie assured me that that wasn’t the case, and he himself had yet to find his mate. That alone made me more sceptical of the whole thing, if after so many centuries Charlie hadn’t found his ‘perfect partner’ what hope did I have? Either way, when I had started dating Edward, not once did I consider the possibility of him being my mate. I mean… he was a vampire. In what world was a vampire a perfect match for a werewolf? I had figured that I would just enjoy myself, love Edward with everything I could and didn’t bother thinking about it. I wasn’t even fully convinced mates were a real thing anyway.

 

U ntil now.

 

Mate?” I sputtered, apparently unable to form a complete sentence. Charlie furrowed his eyebrows in confusion and I swallowed thickly before trying again, “Edward… he’s my mate?”

 

A soft blush coloured Charlie’s tanned skin, he looked down to his folded hands on the table. “ Well, yes.” He muttered gruffly, “ Thought you knew this already.”

 

I gaped at my father, eyes wide with incredulity. “ Why in heaven’s name would I think that!?” I squeaked, my face reddening to match Charlie’s.

 

A n amused smirk quirked at Charlie’s lips, “ I thought you had figured it out.” He shrugged, amused twinkling eyes meeting mine. “ I knew that first day when you came home from school, the way you went on about how good he smelt. I knew there was no other explanation.”

 

R ighteous fury bubbled in me, stemming mostly from how fucking embarrassed I was. How was it that my Dad had worked this out before me? “ And you didn’t think to fill me in?” I demanded, scowling across the table at my father.

 

I told you. I didn’t want to ruin anything by telling you.” Charlie responded, his face clearing of the blush as he sat up straighter in his chair. “Besides, I know you, Bella. If I had told you he was your mate you probably would have done everything you could to fight against it. You’re stubborn like that.”

 

I sputtered indignantly, “Well, okay then!” I crossed my arms over my chest, “ But still, Edward’s a vampire. Is that even possible?” I took a deep breath and braced myself for the answer, not realising how much I wanted it to be true.

 

C harlie shrugged, “The Goddess knows what her people need, and S he provides it. She made you, created you to be exactly who and what you are. Forged you, so you could become the person you needed to become. And the same is true for a werewolf’s mate. Edward was born human, but the Goddess had a hand in his creation too. She knew that he needed to live a certain life, experience things a certain way, and yes, become a vampire I suppose. All so when it came time for you two to meet, you would be perfect for one another.” A soft, loving smile crept it’s way across my father’s face.

 

A fierce love burned away inside me, setting my chest aflame. I let Charlie’s words sink in, then I wrinkled my nose in realisation. “You told Edward?”

 

Told -?” Charlie started in confusion, before understanding dawned, “That you are mates? Yes, I told him.”

 

 

He didn’t say anything.” I grumbled, confusion and anger slowly taking the place of the blossoming love I had felt just a moment ago. “We spent days together, and he didn’t say anything!I didn’t mean to yell, but the words left my mouth in an outraged shout. “I mean… that’s kinda important isn’t it? You’d think that that would be something you’d share, right!?”

 

I stood up and paced the short length of the kitchen. From the corner of my eye I saw that Charlie had gone back to eating his dinner, sparing me a glance from the corner of his eye every now and again. When it became clear that I was too irate to finish my meal, he reached across and started to finish my pasta also.

 

Look, Dad… I know I just got home and everything, but I-” I started, but Charlie cut me off before I could finish.

 

Go, give him hell.” He said casually with a dismissive wave of his hand.

 

G rateful for my father’s understanding, I stalked out of the kitchen. I snatched my keys from the bowl on the hall-table and stormed out the front door.

 

I pushed my truck faster than I should have as I raged my way towards the Cullen house. I knew that Edward would be able to hear me from a mile off in my old truck, but I didn’t care. I drove up the gravel drive and parked the truck roughly near the front steps. I jumped out of the truck and angrily slammed the door, a small cloud of rust appeared from the force of it.

 

I stomped my way up the wooden steps, making damn sure that my anger was obvious to anyone in the house. I didn’t bother to knock and threw open the front door, it made a satisfying bang as it hit the wall of the entry way.

 

Edward Anthony Masen Cullen!” I seethed, and in a blur of movement Edward was there. He stood in front of me, a small but confused smile on his face. He looked over my face, seeing the outrage and irritation so plain there, and his smile faltered. “We spent days together, weeks, and you didn’t think to mention to me that we are mates!?” I screeched, shoving against his chest for emphasis.

 

E dward stumbled a step back, but kept his balance. “ Love, please calm down.”

 

I heard a deep guffawing laugh sound out from the second floor, followed by Emmett exclaiming. “Oooh man, you fucked up!

 

Calm down!?” I repeated in a shout, “Don’t you tell me to calm down.” I sneered, “We are mates! A fact you have apparently been privy to for weeks now! We are supposed to be honest with each other!”

 

I watched as Edward’s Adams apple bobbed as he swallowed heavily and eyed me warily. “ I didn’t mean to lie to you, my love. I just…” Edward trailed off, apparently unable to come up with an adequate excuse for his behaviour.

 

Stop while you’re ahead!” I heard Jasper heckle teasingly from upstairs.

 

I couldn’t stop myself from smirking a little bit, a soft chuckle escaping me despite my efforts. Edward gauged my reaction carefully before smiling cautiously himself, “ I’m still annoyed at you.” I grumbled, but the words were too soft, too affectionate to hold any real weight.

 

Of course.” Edward replied placatingly.

 

We’re mates.” I stressed, “That’s really important, it’s something you should have told me.”

 

I know. I am truly sorry.” Edward risked a small step towards me.

 

I bit my bottom lip for a moment, considering whether I should continue to stay angry at him, or just give in. I sighed and closed the small gap between us and threw my arms around Edward’s neck. I buried my face in the crook of his neck and breathed in deeply, allowing myself to become consumed by Edward’s scent. I felt Edward’s arms come and wrap around my body, holding me close against him. A contented growl rumbled in my chest and I continued to shamelessly nuzzle against Edward’s neck.

 

I felt Edward laugh lightly, “Am I forgiven then?” He jested.

 

Don’t push your luck.” I grumbled.

 

Eventually we pulled apart, reluctantly ending our embrace. Edward smiled lovingly at me, reaching to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. “Come up to my room?” Edward asked, already leading me by the hand to the stairs, “I have a feeling that this mates thing is has a different meaning for you, than for me.” He continued to lead me along the hallway and into his room. I happily made myself at home on his day bed, sitting cross legged I studied him as he came to sit across from me.

 

Well, I guess that depends. What does it mean for vampires?” I hedged carefully, staring down as I played with the cuff of my sweat pants. I guess habits do die hard, and I didn’t want all my cards on the table before Edward had shown his.

 

E dward considered my question for a moment before responding, “I suppose that depends who you ask. I have always seen it as soul mates, I suppose.” Edward shrugged, and it almost seemed like he was embarrassed by the small confession. “ Some of our kind don’t believe we posses souls, though.” Edward paused and it made me look up at him, I could see the doubt swimming in his eyes. “ I didn’t think I had a soul, not anymore. That changed when I met you.” Edward’s voice was so quiet, his words half mumbled, like he wasn’t sure if he truly wanted me to hear him.

 

M y heart broke for him and I reached up to gently caress his face, my fingertips ghosting across his cheekbones. “Of course you have a soul.” I whispered.

 

Edward smiled, a half broken sort of smile and he reached to take the hand I was using to caress his face and held it in his own. “ I’ve seen how Carlisle is with Esme, and Alice and Jasper, and of course Emmett and Rosalie. It’s a… profound connection, one that can’t be quantified or explained. Even though I can read their minds, I don’t think I truly understood. A bond like that,” Edward sighed with a shake of his head, “It’s…” Edward seemed unable to complete his thought.

 

Divine. It’s divine.” I finished.

 

Yes,” Edward breathed, a giddy love-struck smile curling his lips. “What does it mean, for you?” He asked gently, and I felt his thumb start small soft circles on the back of my hand.

 

I think you covered it,” I chuckled and shrugged uselessly. “Werewolves, we believe that the Goddess watches over us, protects us, guides us.” I started my explanation, even though I wasn’t completely sure I believed everything I was saying. I mean, if the Goddess truly protected her people, why did she let them almost get wiped out? I pushed those doubts away for the moment, and instead focused on Edward. He was watching me patiently, calmly waiting for me to continue.We also believe that the Goddess created us, each werewolf was made by her hand, even a human who becomes a werewolf. We believe that it was always that person’s destiny to become one of us. In that same way, the Goddess creates for each of her children a perfect mate.” I stopped for a moment and just watched the way Edward’s pale thumb traced nonsense patterns against my hand. “You’re my destiny.” I murmured after a moment, still looking at our joined hands. “And I am yours.”

 

T he silence that followed felt stifling, and I could feel my heart beating in my chest. I looked from our hands to Edward’s face, a small frown of concentration was on his face. His eyebrows were slightly furrowed, and his bottom lip was sticking out in a slight pout as he frowned. Gently, his expression shifted into a curious sort of smile. “You… you believe that I was made by the Moon Goddess. That She made me… for you?” Edward asked cautiously, carefully trying not to offend o r upset me.

 

Yes.” I answered quickly, not hesitating for a moment. I was briefly shocked by my ready admittance but I pushed on anyway, “Yes, I do. I also believe She made me for you.” I said confidently, believing my own words the more I spoke. “We are what each other needs. We fill in the gaps, making each other whole. Everything that you are, everything that you have done and will do, makes you perfect for me in every way.”

 

E dward ’s eyes glistened with un-shed tears, a watery smile on his lips. He reached across and grabbed my face with both hands and pressed a bruising kiss against my lips. I greedily kissed him back, tangling my fingers in his hair. Edward pulled away too soon, and I was left gasping as he settled back across from me. Although he now sat closer than he was before and he gently rested his forehead against mine . “ I want to believe, as you do.” He breathed the words against my lips, “ But I do not know what I did to deserve you, the Goddess must have made a mistake.”

 

I pressed a soft, chaste kiss against his lips. “It’s not about deserve. It’s not even about want. The Goddess knows what we need, and she made sure that each of us were what the other needed before we ever even met.”

 

Then she definitely got it right,” Edward replied in a joking tone, as he slowly pulled back to look into my eyes “Because you are everything I need.”

 

I smirked back at him, “ Whether or not what I believe is true, I still think it means the same thing.” I paused and placed a hand flat on his chest, right over where his heart sat silent. “Soul mates. You are my soul mate, Edward Cullen.”

Chapter Text

 

 

The summer seemed to pass slowly, and all at once. Days spent hiking in the woods, hunting with Edward and wrestling with Emmett and Jasper. Alice insisted on painting my nails, and then was horrified and dismayed when her hours of painstaking work was shed and left in a bloody pile in the dirt with my next shift. In my defense, I did try to warn her.

 

The ever present threat of Victoria seemed less imposing now, months had past with no sign of her but we didn’t let ourselves become complicit. We continued our daily patrols, each taking our turn when it came. But it didn’t feel as urgent now. I didn’t feel watched, hunted. I felt at peace.

 

There was barely two weeks until the start of the new term, and I happily bounced down the stairs ready to go out for a hike with Edward. The weather was gloomy at the moment, but there was a promise of it clearing up as the day went on.

 

I entered the kitchen to see my Dad carefully studying a letter, the paper plain and simple, with three sharp creases in it where it had been folded into it’s envelope. “Something interesting?” I remarked as I poured a cup of coffee.

 

“A letter from a friend.” Charlie hummed in reply, not taking his eyes off the paper.

 

“You have friends?” I mocked with a smile as I sipped my coffee.

 

“Cheeky.” Charlie admonished, finally looking up and meeting my eyes with a warm smile. There was an edge to it though, like he was silently telling me to brace myself for unpleasant news. “This friend, she’s a werewolf who lives with a Shifter pack down in Mexico. She wrote me to tell me that they had chased a vampire matching Victoria’s description out of their territory.”

 

I forced my hand to tighten around my mug, if I didn’t I would have dropped it and let it shatter on the ground. “What?” I stuttered. Of course I knew there were other werewolves, and I also knew that Charlie was in occasional contact with them. A clandestine community, an alliance born out of desperation and death. News passed between proxies, dead drops and hidden safe houses. Charlie had sent word out to the network to be on the look out for Victoria, and now it had borne fruit. “Why would she be in Mexico?

 

Your guess is as good as mine.” Charlie sighed, standing up and shrugging on his sheriff’s jacket. “I’m going to go show this to Carlisle, and then head in to work.” Charlie carefully folded the letter along it’s creases and tucked it into the inside pocket of his jacket. He then walked over to me, and put a strong hand on my shoulder. “Try to have a good day.” Charlie’s pleading tone made my heart ache, so I plastered a hopeful smile on my face.

 

I’ll do my best.” I promised.

 

X xXx

 

With a sigh I relaxed back into the long soft grass of the meadow. The same meadow I had woken up in after Edward witnessed my transformation. Apparently it was a favourite spot of his. “ We can’t just run off to Mexico.” I muttered.

 

Well… we could.Edward countered teasingly as he lounged along side me.

 

Senior year is about to start, and one of us still needs to graduate.” I gave him a side long look before I turned to stare up at the cloudy sky. The dark grey clouds were slowly fading, giving way to softer, fluffy white clouds that held no promise of rain.

 

True.” Edward relented, his long fingers reached out to play with the ends of my hair. “I just don’t like the thought of Victoria still out there. We could go to Mexico, track her down, make sure she can’t hurt us.”

 

I knew what he really meant. When Edward said ‘us’ what he really meant was ‘you’. Edward didn’t want anything to happen to me. “ For all your talk of responsibility, that sounds awfully reckless.” I teased and I turned my head to face him again. “ If Victoria wants to fight, she knows where to find us. It’s better to wait. We have the home advantage here, we know the terrain better than she could ever hope to.”

 

E dward smiled warmly, “When did you become the reasonable one?” He mused.

 

Probably the same time you became the one advocating for an international man hunt.” I quipped quickly.

 

E dward’s smile turned into a mischievous smirk, and he slowly pulled himself up into a sitting position. I watched him move, and I saw as his face slowly fell into a contemplative frown. I felt my face fall into a matching frown as I pulled myself up to sit cross legged across from him. “ What is it? What’s wrong?” My head cocked to the side in curiosity and concern.

 

E dward’s frown turned into a hesitant smile, “Nothings wrong… I just-” Edward shifted until he was sitting down facing me directly, “I have something I have been meaning to ask you.”

 

Alright?” I agreed warily, and I eyed his hand as it ducked into his pant’s pocket. No. He wasn’t, was he?

 

I watched with eagle eyes as his hand reappeared, long pale fingers curled around a ring box. “ I wanted to give this to you.” He said softly, and he opened his mouth to say more but I cut him off.

 

Edward, are you about to ask me to marry you?” I blurted out with all the social grace of a slug.

 

What?” Edward gaped, “No, I mean. Not yet.” He shook his head and opened the ring box, “This would be a lot easier if you just let me finish.” He chided. Inside the ring box sat a small, dainty white gold ring. The band was thin with a delicate filigree pattern carved into it, making it look as if the small red ruby was being supported by the most delicate of vines and leaves. “When I was human, young couples would use promise rings to announce their intentions. We are too young to get married.” I gave Edward a knowing look at that, and he tried to hide his smirk, we both knew only one of us was too young, but I didn’t say anything and let him continue. “But I do intend to ask you to marry me.” Edward’s eyes flickered from the ring to my face, his face was soft with love, his eyes glistening with his deep affection for me. “One day.” He promised.

 

So this is…” I paused for a second while I found the words, “This is you saying that you promise to propose to me, one day.” I waited for a second and Edward nodded in affirmation, “And by accepting it, I am promising to say yes?” I guessed.

 

E dward’s gentle smile turned into a grin, “That’s right.”

 

I matched his grin with my own, “Then of course I accept.”

 

Edward leaned over and pressed a chaste kiss against my lips, and I fought against the urge to tug on his shirt and pull him into a deeper kiss. I let Edward pull away and he plucked the ring from the velvet lined box, and took my right hand in his. He gently slipped it onto my ring finger, and it sat there. A perfect fit.

 

 

Fin .

 

 

A/N: And now, by popular demand, some of Charlie’s backstory. Enjoy. Trigger Warning for extreme violence and sexual assault.

 

 

 

The sounds of screaming is what first woke me. I say first woke me, because the sounds were so distant and so foreign that my sleep muddled brain wasn’t convinced they were entirely real. And so I dozed, half conscious until my older brother came and jolted me awake. Forcing me to face my new reality.

 

Charles! Wake up!” Large hands shook my shoulders forcefully, my brother’s voice was a loud whisper. “We are under attack!” Frederick’s face was pinched, I could see the fevered terror in his eyes, and the effort he was making to squash it down. Those sort of emotions could be dealt with later, when we weren’t fighting for our lives.

 

I forced myself out of bed, throwing on trousers and a shirt and vest. I was buckling my scabbard hastily when I asked. “Attacked? By who?” I hissed through the darkness. The Swan pack had enemies, but none that we were in direct conflict with at the moment. Or at least that is what I had thought.

 

Vampires.” Frederick hissed back, “The Volturi.”

 

The shock of it was like a slap in the face, “The Volturi? That doesn’t make any sense brother!” I argued as I pulled on my boots, “They are our allies , our friends!”

 

Yes, well I’ll be sure to tell them that while they are busy besieging our estate!” Frederick growled as he curled a fist around the lapels of shirt to haul me to my feet. I stumbled slightly, but quickly regained my balance. I could smell it now, the smoke of fires burning, and the rotten smell of death that clung to all vampires. “I sent Marie to the nursery, to get the children.” Frederick whispered to me as he cracked open my door to glimpse into the hall outside. “Nora is already leading the older ones through the passage in the kitchens.”

 

M y tongue felt like sand in my mouth, and it took a moment to find my voice. “Where are Mother and Father?” I croaked, instantly cursing my traitorous voice for betraying just how frightened I was. I was barely 19, an adult by all accounts, but looking back on it, I was just a child.

 

We all were.

 

F rederick, the oldest had just turned 2 4 winter just passed. Marie was a year older than myself, and Nora, my youngest sibling was approaching 17.

 

I do not know.” Frederick answered, and once he deemed the hallway safe he threw open the door and led the way out. “I have been trying to find them, but it’s chaos. I decided to come find you, and head through the passage way. If Mother and Father are still alive, they will know where to find us.”

 

T ightness gripped my throat as his words. Why would the Volturi attack us? We had been their allies ever since they seized control from the Romanian Coven, none of this made sense.

 

W e moved as quickly and quietly as we could, sticking our backs to the walls and doing our best to not rush towards the sounds of screaming. It pained me, but Frederick was right. We had to leave. Protect our family, our pack. All the others here in the estate, werewolves who were sworn to our family as servants and the like, would have to fend for themselves. The urge to protect them regardless was strong, their agonising screams echoed in my mind.

 

W e descended the stairs, and hurried our way outside. The sight that greeted us in the courtyard froze me in place, and Frederick once again saved my life by pulling me down and into the cover of the garden bushes. In the middle of the stone courtyard was our father, he was in his wolf form, dark grey fur matted with blood. He was growling and thrashing, but it was no use, four cloaked figures held him tightly, pinning his body to the ground. I watched with wide, terrified eyes as a tall man with stunningly white blonde hair approached my father. I knew this vampire, I had met with him on numerous occasions. Caius, one of the Three Kings. With a cruel smirk on his blood-splattered face he walked towards my father.

 

Oh how the mighty have fallen.” He sneered. Caius raised his hand, in it he gripped the hilt of a sword, an imposing claymore that glistened in the firelight. He touched it gently, almost lovingly, against my father’s shoulder and I watched as my father yelped and writhed as his skin erupted in blistering burns. Silver. Then, Caius raised the sword over his head and swung it down, severing my father’s head in one clean motion.

 

I started to leap forward, to charge against my father’s murderer, but I felt my brother’s hand holding my shoulder. Holding me back. I stared at him, what was he doing? Our father had just been butchered like an animal and he was stopping me from exacting my vengeance? Frederick slowly shook his head at me. Not now. His eyes told me. We can not get vengeance if we are killed. We have to survive.

 

I nodded stiffly. I could feel pain prickling in my hands, and I did nothing to stop my fingernails from sliding free to be replaced by sharp canine claws. I felt my teeth loosen, and as Frederick led me along the edges of the courtyard, keeping to the shadows and moving silently in the bushes, I slowly spat them out onto the ground to be replaced by pointed fangs. This is where I halted my transformation, needing to remain in a more human form for a little while longer, but feeling a sense of comfort and strength from these canine elements.

 

Finally, we reached the edge of the courtyard and ducked down between the space between two buildings. I pushed Caius’ sing-songy voice taunting us from the courtyard, declaring our leader dead, into the back of my mind. I ignored the screams of women being brutalised before they were granted the mercy of death. These things would do nothing but distract me from my current goal. Get out. Survive. Get revenge. I would have to deal with the emotional damage these sounds dealt to my soul later. I let it all fade away to a horrible static, let my mind zero in on its task. I distanced myself from my body, from my mind, so it was no longer me who was witnessing these atrocities. It wasn’t me who snuck past a vampire as he savagely raped Caroline, a kind woman who was my nursemaid when I had been a child. It was someone else who met her eye. Someone else who ignored her silent plea for help. Someone else. Someone else.

 

 

 

A more familiar scream cut through the static, and I turned to see the nursery building on fire. It was my sister’s screams that pulled me back into my body, her screams for help being met with hideous laughter. The doors to the nursery had been barred shut, as had the windows, and as the flames grew I could see little hands reaching through the gaps between the planks of wood , grasping helplessly at empty air. My feet were stuck on the stones, unable to move as I listened to Marie’s wailing cries for help. For mercy. If not for her, then for the children, the babies.

 

I felt Frederick’s hand tug on my shirt sleeve, “Move! Charles we have to move! ” He hissed at me, but he couldn’t stop himself from glancing towards the burning building. “ There is nothing we can do for her.” He hissed in my ear, hot breath fanning over my neck. Nothing we can do. I knew I should keep moving, the vampires were busy enjoying the spectacle of a burning building filled with children. Children being suffocated by smoke, children howling for their mother’s as they burnt to death. More vampire’s arrived to watch the show, and so we used my sister’s harrowing death as a distraction as we darted across the lane and into the kitchens.

 

W e were greeted with more blood, more death, and I tried not to count the bodies as I stepped over them. I counted them anyway, the number seared itself in my mind like a brand. I tried not to take notice of their faces, but I couldn’t help myself from recognising them. Cooks and maids, I knew the names of each one. I knew which ones would turn a blind eye to me nicking a bottle of whisky from the cellar, and which ones would report me to my father. No one would be reporting back to my father now. They were all dead. So was he. There were others in here too. Near the corner I spied my aunt, her half-transformed head cut clean from her shoulders and laying in a pool of blood on the stone floor. Her children, my cousins, were near her. Their mutilated corpses tucked into the corner as if they had tried to hide from their attackers. My aunt had died defending her cubs, so close to the hidden passage-way. They didn’t make it. I wondered who else had managed to get this far, only to be cut down.

 

T he sting of bile rose in my throat, and I pushed it away. The screams were lessening now. The fight almost over. Fight . It wasn’t a fight. It was a massacre. Our time was running out, once the Volturi were finished with their fun they would start to hunt down the survivors. Track down any who had hidden away in cupboards or under beds.

 

T here’s nothing I can do for them . I had to remind myself.

 

Fredrick led the way down into the cellar, and I was shocked by the lack of chaos in here. No blood. No bodies. No evidence of a struggle at all. Had no one else made it this far? What of Nora and the others? Frederick counted the wooden panels in the wall under his breath, and once he found the right one his fingertips grazed across the top of it, searching blindly for the hidden switch. With a muted click, the hidden doorway swung open and revealed the passageway beyond.

 

Come on, Charles.” Frederick urged.

 

I squared my shoulders and nodded, stepping blindly into the tunnel. Frederick closed the door behind us, casting us in complete darkness. I heard Frederick pressing against the door, ensuring it was closed securely behind us. I turned just in time to see him lower a thick metal beam across, preventing anyone else from following us.

 

What are you doing?!” I demanded in a lowered growl, “If you do that no one else will be able to use the passageway!”

 

Exactly!” Frederick growled back,

 

What of survivors?” I challenged.

 

You saw what I did, Charles. There is no one else coming!” He spat back at me. I didn’t have a response, and my brother shouldered past me and started to make his way down the tunnel.

 

T he catacombs under the estate were a maze, deadly to those who did not know the way. Miles of tunnels lead in no discernible pattern, built so that in the event of attack we could escape, and if we were pursued, our attackers would be more likely to become lost than they were to find us.

 

W e hurried along, knowing the way out by heart. The silence of the tunnels felt stifling after the terrible noise of the massacre above. Finally, we could see light up ahead, the exit was within reach.

 

T he tunnels opened up into a hillside, some miles away from the estate. Surrounded by dense woodlands, it provided some cover for our escape.

 

Frederick! Charles!” An urgent whisper called to us from the shadows, and I saw Nora’s head appear from behind a fallen log. Behind her were three of our younger cousins, eyes red and faces tear-stained.

 

I felt my fangs recede back into human teeth, but I kept my claws, just in case. “Nora.” I breathed in relief. Frederick and I hurried over to our sister, and we pulled her into a tight hug. She clung to us and I felt her body shudder as she took a deep breath. She was trying her best to remain calm, but she was struggling to keep it together. Every ounce of her wanted to break down and cry, but she couldn’t. Not yet. Neither could I, even though I wanted to.

 

Where is everyone else? Marie?” Nora whispered,

 

There is no one else.” I replied calmly, “It’s just us.” Nora’s eyes filled with tears, and she lost control as a sob broke free of her chest. I pulled her against me, holding her tightly, and I let her tears soak into my shirt. I carded a gentle hand through her long brown hair, “It’s just us.” I repeated solemnly.