[AU, Pre-New Moon] Bella will do anything to become a vampire. She pushes Edward too far one night and regrets her decision. Chapter 4: Unveiling Truths Bella and Edward each get their encounter with magic. Will this be the answer to their problems?
All recognizable characters belong to the wonderful Stephenie Meyer. Story is AU and Pre-New Moon.
3. Chapter 3: The Stranger
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3001 Review this Chapter
“I almost bit you.” To emphasize the point, Edward gently took Bella’s face in his cold hands, and turned her head towards his. However, she was staring dispassionately at the wooden floor.
“Then why didn’t you?” Large doleful eyes stared passionately back up at him, brimming with unshed tears, willing him to change his mind.
“Because I love you.” His eyes were a fierce gold again, while he willed her to understand.
It was raining in Forks again. Bella was staring morosely out of a glass pane window, watching the yellow dandelions wilt from the weight of the raindrops. She sighed and rested her chin on her right hand, while the fingers of her left were drumming a dull beat against the rough surface of the cash registry table.
Summertime in Forks sometimes seem dreary compared to the hot summers in Phoenix. Bella let out a weary sigh and switched hands, her right hand now drumming the listless beat. With Edward gone for two weeks, Bella didn’t have much to look forward to. Her present summer job at Mathilda’s Antiques Shop paid well and was hassle-free; however, the lack of customers made it quite uninteresting. Thus, Bella allowed her thoughts to drift back to last time she was over at the Cullen’s house, and the last time she saw Edward.
The day had started out fine, but ended with Bella crying and blindly rushing out of the house. She groaned as she realized that she had no way of getting back home— Edward had driven her over that morning in his Volvo. But she was hard-pressed about turning back like a fool and sheepishly requesting for a ride home. She had after all rudely departed from the house without a backward glance, and much less a proper goodbye. So she continued walking, stomping her feet occasionally, along the silent and lonely road with only trees as her companions.
Idiot, idiot, idiot! I’m like some leaking water hose—why do I always have to cry at the most crucial moments?! Edward probably thinks I’m some blubbering foolish mortal girl who is incapable of controlling her emotions! Now I have to walk home in this god-forsaken fog, on this muddy road, like the idiot I—
Bella paused mid-rant when she heard the light humming of an engine. She whipped her head around, and saw Edward looking back at her solemnly through the window of his Volvo. Damn! Why is he here? Bella turned her head back to the road ahead of her and continued trudging her way forwards at an even faster pace. The car levelled with her and kept a steady speed. The window rolled down noiselessly and Bella heard Edward ’s voice pierce the silence.
“Bella, get in the car.” Bella kept her head straight and trudged on. “Please Bella. We need to talk.” When she gave no answer,
became mildly irritated. “Don’t make me come out there and get you,” he warned, impatience clearly audible in his words.
Bella stopped abruptly and whirled around to face the car. She considered him for a moment before marching angrily to the passenger side of the vehicle and wrenching the door open. She then proceeded to slam the door as hard as she could— wincing a bit inwardly— at the force of the impact. Her face was flushed with anger, and she resumed staring stoically ahead of her, with her arms crossed against her chest.
“You know, the car did nothing wrong. I think you hurt its feelings.”
“Humph. Whether I hurt its feelings or not is inconsequential because a car does not have feelings. It’s an object and objects are dead things. Therefore, it does not have the intellectual ability to process emotions and determine whether I have hurt its feelings or not.” Babbling was something she did often when her emotions ran wild.
Edward chuckled. “Really? Dead things don’t have feelings? Well, if my heart were still beating, it’d break at the sound of your statement.”
Bella scowled. “You know what I mean.”
“Of course I do, darling, of course I do.”
Edward ’s right hand came up to brush a lock of Bella’s hair behind her ear; a gesture as if asking if all was forgiven. The hurt and anger that welled up inside Bella melted a little, and she wondered if she could truly stay angry with Edward Cullen . Apparently not. Nonetheless, she maintained her countenance of haughtiness, and only lifted her chin in defiance at the endearing gesture. Edward got the hint, and no longer pressed the issue.
The rest of the ride home was relatively quiet until Edward parked the Volvo in the Swan’s driveway. Bella’s own red truck was resting by the curb of the sidewalk. She stared at it accusingly. Since her truck wasn’t present, she had to suffer a ride with her smug, prat of a boyfriend in his shiny, sleek, ‘dead’ (though capable of feeling hurt) car.
The engine of the Volvo was still running, and its soft humming pervaded the thick silence that had settled over the couple. Neither of the occupants made a move to get out. Edward was the first to speak.
“Look. I can’t make promises that I can’t keep. There’s a reason why I don’t want to turn you, and it’s a perfectly legitimate reason. And I believe that you already know what it is.” The playful teasing in his voice had disappeared and was replaced with seriousness. “But I’m willing to work things out... to make them easier.”
Bella turned to look at Edward . His statement piqued her curiosity as to what he was willing to do for their relationship.
“How?” Bella asked.
Edward contemplated for a while before he finally answered, “I’ll tell you what’s on my mind when I get back in a week or so.”
“A week!” exploded Bella. “Where are you going for a week?!” A myriad of thoughts flurried through her head, and she immediately jumped to conclusions. ‘ Does he want to have his space? That’s it. That’s how he’s going to work things out. He’s leaving me.’ Deep breath. ‘Oh gosh, I think he wants to leave me!’ The anger and embarrassment that she had felt earlier vanished in an instant and was replaced with anxiety, as the prospect of spending a week or more without Edward was inconceivable—especially when she thought she might be losing him.
Edward noticed the panicked expression on Bella’s face and wished that he could read her mind. But, alas, that annoying blank void greeted him whenever he tried to access it.
“I need to hunt. The game is becoming sparse since I have been feeding here for the past few months. I need to move to a location further east. Emmett and Jasper are coming with me.”
“Oh,” muttered Bella. “I see. But why can’t you tell me what’s on your mind now? Why wait?”
His mouth curved upwards in a small smile. “Impatient, are we?” By Bella’s darkening expression and her exasperated sigh, he continued, “It’s a surprise.” His teasing tone had returned, “And also because I still need time to make the necessary preparations.”
A light jingling of bells stirred Bella out of her thoughts. She plastered a fake smile upon her face, as she got ready to greet the man who had just walked in. His gray jacket was spotted with wet patches of rain and his short brown hair was mussed. The door quickly closed behind him as he raked his long fingers through his wet locks. He then shook off any excess rain that clung to his clothes, and turned around and to give an apologetic grin to Bella.
“It’s quite a downpour out there, eh?” His British accent was certainly not ordinary around Forks and brought a welcomed surprise. However what made any coherent greeting die on Bella’s lips was the smiling pale face that was looking appraisingly at her.
He was young and couldn’t have been older than twenty. The dark brown hair that hung limply around his face provided a sharp contrast to his pale skin, and showed off his angular face and sharp cheekbones.
But the true captivation lied in the bright green eyes that were staring at her behind a wet fringe of hair. The green was deep and mesmerizing. Bella felt as if she could drown in herself in those green pools, and get lost in their alluring glow.
The man cleared his throat and shook back the annoying piece of hair that kept falling in front of his eyes. The sudden sound shook Bella out of the spell that she was under, and a bright red blush adorned her cheeks when she realized that she was caught staring.
“Umm, welcome to ah…Mathilda’s Antiques. H-how can I he-lp you?” she asked with a stutter. If anything—her blush deepened. So, Bella ducked her head and fiddled with some of the order forms that were littered on the table in front of her, trying to present a nonchalant attitude, while desperately willing her blush to go away. A dark shadow fell upon the papers; Bella looked up and gave a shy smile. The young man smiled charmingly at her, displaying a row of straight perfect white teeth.
“Perhaps you can lend me a hand of assistance Miss…”
“Bella. My name is Bella Swan”, Bella supplied.
“Ahh, Bella. Quite an apt name for a beautiful young woman like you,” he said with a wink. “Andrew Remington.” He held out a hand for her to shake. Bella had never felt so flustered in her life. She wondered who this charming young stranger was, and what business he had in a small town like Forks. Nevertheless, she shook his hand in a firm but gentle grasp. “Bella, I am looking for something quite in particular… have you many figurines? Perhaps one called the Trojan Horse?”
Bella scrunched her eyebrows in concentration, trying to remember if Mathilda had such a figurine. “Follow me. We usually keep our figurines together in a special section, but I can’t promise you anything”, she replied. They walked off to the side of the shop and stood in front of the main shelves that held some of the most precious and delicate figurines that Mathilda had amassed over the years.
Bella’s favourite was the one called ‘Daphne.’ It was an artistic rendition of the Greek myth of Apollo and Daphne, where the beautiful woman Daphne transformed into a laurel tree to escape the amorous affections of the god Apollo.
The small figurine captured the perfect moment of Daphne’s transformation where her frightened face and womanly figure were still discernable among the growing leaves and branches that were emerging from her limbs.
Bella always experienced a bittersweet feeling passing over her whenever she examined this work of art. Apollo’s loss of love tugged at her heartstrings, while Daphne’s escape gave her a sense of a fleeting freedom. This figurine also served to remind Bella of her plight to become a vampire. She related herself with Apollo, chasing after her desire that was within a finger’s reach. But the only difference is that Bella would not allow her desire to escape. She traced her finger lightly down the side of one of the limbs of the figurine while she fondly reflected on the hardships and labours of love.
“Aha! At last! After so many years of searching, I have finally found it!” Bella turned to see the young man carefully reach for an inconspicuous figurine in the back of the shelf. He then reverently placed it in the palm of his hand, and stared at it almost like a loving father who had recovered his lost child.
Bella looked at the figurine in the palm of his hand and realized that at her short time working at the shop, she had never noticed it before. The figurine itself was rather small, about ten centimetres in height. It was a black sculpted horse made out of fragile porcelain that seemed to be standing on a platform. Besides that, the horse was rather plain in appearance. If anything, the horse was made quite crudely—as if the artist who created it was in a hurry.
Bella did not understand why anyone would want spend so many years searching for such a nondescript piece of work. The young man looked at her with shiny eyes, gleaming with triumph.
“How much is this?” he asked her. “I will pay any amount.”
Bella wasn’t sure of the price of this particular piece and was surprised to see that there was no price tag on it. She was about to go ask Mathilda, her boss, when the woman in question emerged from the back office, and smiled inquiringly at Bella and the young customer. “Mathilda, this gentleman would like to buy this figurine, but the price tag seems to be misplaced,” Bella spoke.
Mathilda, an old woman of about sixty years of age, directed her crinkled eyes to the figurine in question. Her eyes widened slightly in recognition, but otherwise, she showed no other emotion.
“It’s not for sale.”
With a smile, Mathilda plucked the figurine from the man’s palm and walked slowly towards her back office. The young man’s face was filled with surprise, and quickly changed to that of incredulity and disbelief.
Before Mathilda could even take three steps, the young man had stepped forward, grabbed her elbow, and stepped in front of her path.
All emotions of surprise and disbelief that were etched on his face earlier were gone, and were replaced by a charming smile and a determined glint that shone in the green depths of his eyes. “My good woman. Please understand that I must purchase this particular item. It is imperative that I leave your quaint little shop with it.”
Mathilda was not to be deterred. “Bella. Please take this to my desk in the back office.” Bella did as she was told, and noticed that the man was keenly eyeing the figurine. When Bella departed, Mathilda shook her elbow out of the man’s grasp and walked calmly behind the cash registry table as the man followed.
“See here, sir. That figurine was a gift from someone dear to me, and I cannot bear parting with it. It must have been stocked into the shelves without my knowledge, and I apologize if you assumed that it was for sale.”
A look of frustration then passed over the man’s face. “I am ready to pay any amount necessary. I hope you understand that no amount would be a hindrance to me.”
To prove his point, the man reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He then withdrew five crisp bills, and placed them on the table in front of her. Mathilda could not help the gasp that escaped her mouth. Five one thousand dollar bills! This man was willing to pay five thousand dollars for a trivial little figurine. Obviously the little porcelain horse held a much greater importance to the man than Mathilda realized, seeing that such a great price was being offered for it.
But apparently, the horse also figured a great sentimental value to Mathilda because she was unwilling to accept the money. Thus, she shook her head and said, “I am deeply sorry sir. I cannot accept what you are offering.”
The man was not giving up so easily. “I’ll double or triple the amount. Tell me what you want for it, and I will meet your price. I mean it when I say that money is of no importance.” He then took on a good-natured voice and stated, “Imagine what you can do with a bit of wealth…an early retirement, a vacation, maybe collect a few of the more rarer antiques you may have set your eyes upon.”
Then the man did something most peculiar—he locked his bright green eyes with Mathilda’s dark blue ones, and his right hand fiddled with something in the breast pocket of his jacket. His dark eyebrows furrowed in concentration and his pupils dilated immensely. Mathilda looked confused for a moment, but then her eyes became altered and unfocused.
At that moment, Bella chose to re-enter the room and the sound of the door closing with a snap broke whatever spell that had come upon the two occupants. The man cursed silently, and Mathilda looked as if she had just woken up from a dream. Her eyes refocused and she looked around the room confusedly. Bella looked between the two and wondered what had happened in her absence. Bella placed a hand on the old woman’s arm in silent question, and Mathilda gripped it in reassurance.
“Bella. Please escort this young man to the door. I need a few moments to myself.”
Bella moved forward, but the man angrily reached for the green bills that lay on the table in front of him and shoved them back into his wallet. Bella’s jaw dropped when she briefly saw the amount on each bill. No doubt, the negotiations between the man and her boss did not go well, and she wondered why Mathilda would ever refuse such an expensive sum for a rather ugly porcelain horse.
“There will be no need for your assistance. I regret that we weren’t able to come to terms madam. An unfortunate loss for you, may I be so bold as to say.” His words were polite and still held charm, but his eyes told a different story. They were glinting in anger, and the humid air around him seemed to crackle with unrestrained energy. He then opened the door, and walked briskly out into the rain that was still pounding steadily outside.
Bella walked over to the window and observed the man hurry away from the shop. She wasn’t sure if it was just her eyes, but it seemed as if the rain was being deflected from his figure. He had no umbrella, but his hair and jacket remained dry in the steady downpour. Bella squinted her eyes to make sure she wasn’t seeing things, but the man had already disappeared out of sight.