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The Dorothy Factor

Summary:
An unusual storm descends upon Forks, and Bella and Edward are caught in the middle. When the dust settles, nothing is the same …
Chapter Twelve: Somewhere Over the Rainbow
(the last chapter)
The only thing that had changed was Edward himself. He had returned a different man – with a new understanding about the constant ache in his chest and the vacancy he’d always sensed there in the periphery of his life.


Notes:
Inspired by actual events; (see chapter one end notes). An incredibly huge, warm thank you to vnfan – an amazing author and an indispensable asset to me while writing this story. Not only did she help fix all my typos and “dumb blonde” moments (even though I’m a redhead, I still have dumb blonde moments) – but she also helped me get through a couple rough spots. Her response, as well, was encouragement to keep me going. To vnfan – thanks for being my first and most amazing beta ever; I don’t know how I ever lived without you and your help! I had so much fun writing this story. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


7. Chapter Seven -- Poppy Fields

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2772   Review this Chapter



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In the silence that had fallen, Bella felt more oppressed than ever. The weight of the hush – the air in the room – it all seemed to be pressing down on her. She escaped onto the balcony, where the steady, light rain had finally ceased. Thick, fluffy gray clouds still passed overhead. Below her, people moved by without taking any notice of the girl watching from above. She breathed deeply, savoring the damp, familiar air. A light breeze blew up from the street, swirling her hair and tangling the waves that Alice had so carefully fixed for the drive through Customs. But Bella didn’t care anymore. She had no intention of going back to Canada or back to Alaska. She didn’t even want to go back to Forks – not this Forks. She wanted to go home. To her Forks. Where her Edward was, no doubt, anxiously searching for her.



She wasn’t even sure what it was that separated them. Time? Space? The tear in her heart throbbed, raw with fresh pain. She ached to be with her Edward again – to be in his arms, finding warmth even in his cold embrace. She longed for his touch, for his kisses. For just the sound of his soft velvet voice – a voice that was not tainted by a constant, bitter anger. She wanted to hear his love; feel his love. In this cold, strange world she could only trust that he still loved her. She was carried on by the strength of this conviction and she grew weary as she struggled to hold onto it. She’d been battered by this ordeal.



“You should rest,” a silky voice said from behind her.



Bella whirled around, gripping the railing tightly as she lost her balance. Lightning-quick, Edward’s hand flashed forward and snatched her wrist – holding on to keep her from tumbling backwards.



“Like I said,” he repeated, “you should rest. You’re tired.”



Bella meant to disagree, but her reply was stifled by a yawn. She realized that she had not slept since waking up after the storm. She and Edward had driven through the night when they went to Alaska and above her now the sky was darkening once again. Two days – she’d been awake for two days, driven mostly by raw adrenaline. But now that they’d stopped – now that she found herself feeling more lost and hopeless than ever – the events of the past two days caught up to her; the lack of sleep caught up to her.



Edward did not let go of her wrist immediately. Rather, he pulled her away from the edge of the balcony, tugging until she fell against his side. He wrapped one arm around her waist, holding her securely against him. Bella sighed and found herself suddenly fighting back tears once again, this time from exhaustion and an extraordinary sense of relief. This was not her Edward, but it felt incredibly good against his body, with his arm wrapped around her. His aroma enveloped her.



“I’m so tired,” she said, no longer bothering to disguise her sobs. “I just want to go home.”



“I know,” he said. Bella’s knees finally gave out, and he swept an arm under her legs, holding her up. Silently, he carried her back inside. The others sat murmuring in the corner, but he carried her past them and into another room. A lone bed sat in the corner, sparsely made with just two pillows, a sheet and a comforter. Holding her up with one arm, Edward pulled back the blanket and laid Bella down gently. He covered her with the comforter, tucking it in around her body. She’d been shivering on the balcony and she only recognized the shaking once Edward held her shoulders, pressing her down into the mattress. “Be still,” he urged, hushing her.



But she couldn’t stop trembling, her body cold and wracked with exhausted, desperate tears.



“Rest now,” Edward said, turning away. He stopped at the door and looked back at her critically. He was worried about the shaking and the sobbing. These were human traits that he was unfamiliar with; he’d spent so much time alone, isolated from the world. He didn’t know how to help; he didn’t know how to fix her.



“P-please,” she said, looking at him desperately. “Please don’t go.”



Edward looked at her uncertainly. “I don’t know what to do,” he admitted softly. “I don’t know how I can help you.”



“Just … hold me,” she said. She gulped loudly and coughed, trying to clear her throat. She wiped uselessly at her wet eyes.



Edward did not move away or towards her right away. He stared at her from across the room, his eyes wide and desperate. It was the first time Bella thought she’d seen honesty in his eyes since landing in this strange world. He looked almost vulnerable. The muscles along his jaw line tightened and relaxed. He appeared torn, drawn to the warm, beautiful girl in the bed asking for his embrace – and yet repulsed by his own monstrous desire for her blood. He tried to force himself to look away; if he could look away then he could walk away. But something about the desperation in her eyes would not release him and instead of withdrawing, Edward found himself moving across the room towards her. He climbed beside her, wrapping his arms around her from behind. Their bodies seemed to fit together perfectly.



He was afraid the coldness of his body would prolong her shivering, but he was surprised when the shaking slowed and eventually stopped. He felt her relax in his arms, sighing contentedly. She breathed deeply, reveling in his scent. She snuggled against his arms, pushing back against his chest as if willing her body to get closer to his.



“Thank you,” Bella said when her body was finally still, breathing heavily. She sounded relieved.



Edward swallowed and replied, “You’re welcome.”



“This probably isn’t very easy for you, is it?” Bella said, recognizing his discomfort.



He shook his head. “It’s very … difficult … being so close to you.”



Bella turned in his arms to face him. “I’m sorry. You haven’t really had time to get used to me.”



“It’s just …” He closed his eyes, trying to find the right words.



“It’s okay,” Bella said, interrupting. “I know. You want to be good, you want to help me … but part of you really just wants to suck me dry.” She shrugged nonchalantly, as if wanting to drink someone’s blood was perfectly normal. She met his gaze when he finally opened his eyes again. “I’ve survived this long.”



“I don’t know how I could have ever gotten used to you.”



“Start small,” Bella said, holding up her left wrist.



Edward looked at her, startled and surprised. But she held his gaze steadily and did not move her hand away.



Slowly, tentatively, Edward grasped her hand. He began by running his fingers over her skin, pausing at her ring. He twisted the gold band around her digit, examining each detail – every diamond so familiar. He ran his fingers down her arm and then back up to her wrist, turning her hand palm up. Then, very slowly, he brought the inside of her wrist up to his nose and he inhaled, his breath icy against her veins. His eyes fell closed and he sighed with pleasure, savoring the scent. Bella gasped softly when he unexpectedly pressed his mouth to her skin, his lips and his tongue cold and warm at the same time against her pale flesh.



Groaning, Edward finally pulled away and gently set her wrist down back against her side. He tried very hard to ignore the suddenly rapid fluttering of her heart. He wrapped his arms around her once more, pulling her against his chest. “Rest now,” he said again. She closed her eyes and willed herself to sleep, not aware of how close Edward had just come to sinking his teeth into the flesh of her wrist.



* * *



Eventually, Bella dozed off, but her sleep was restless. When she opened her eyes again, Edward was still holding her, but his body was rigid and he stared down at her with wide, worried eyes. “What is it?” she mumbled sleepily.



He continued staring at her for a long moment before answering. “What is it between you and the dog?”



Bella straightened up, surprised by his question. “You mean Jake?”



“Yes.”



“Well … back at home,” she said, “it’s complicated.”



“And here?” he asked, his voice tight and strained.



She shrugged. “I hardly know him here. He’s sort of the same … but different. Like you; like everyone. Nothing is quite the same as it was at home.” She paused, mentally cataloguing all the differences she’d observed over the last two days. “What makes you ask anyway?” She pulled back to look more closely at his face.



His lips pulled tight. “You talk in your sleep.”



Bella gulped, her eyes popping wide. “Oh.”



The stress in Edward’s face broke momentarily with her reaction. If she didn’t know any better, Bella might have thought he was laughing. “You’re not surprised,” he observed. “Do you talk in your sleep often?”



She nodded. “Did you hear anything interesting?”



“Well, you said his name a lot …”



“Jake?”



“Yes,” he said. “And you said my name with some frequency … though I imagine you were thinking of someone else at the time.”



Bella could hear the melancholy in his voice. He sounded almost regretful. “I’m sorry,” she said, though she was not quite sure why. The tone of his voice had simply made her feel apologetic, for whatever reason. “It’s just that you’re so different,” she explained. “I mean, in some ways you really are identical. Like your appearance, mostly – though you always look harder than he does. More cold … angry. You’re both so quick to temper, but more things set you off. Yours never quite abates. And you’re not as patient. It’s like you have no tolerance for me because I’m human and weak. And then, of course, you don’t love me.” She shrugged. “He does.”



He sighed sadly, nodding. He did not disagree with her. In fact, he knew what she said to be the truth. He was, at least, self-aware. “I’m not sure what I feel towards you,” he said finally, his voice so soft it barely registered. “It can’t be love,” he rationalized, “because I have no heart. And yet …” He sighed again, at a rare loss for words. He shook his head. “I wish I could understand you.”



“Me?” Bella gasped, surprised. “I’m not very interesting at all.”



“On the contrary,” Edward said. “You’re very interesting. For one thing, you seem to have no fear of acquainting yourself with vampires and werewolves. Apparently, you’re planning to marry one,” he said, fingering her ring. “And I doubt anyone else could handle this situation as well as you – waking up in an alternate reality. And then being chased by a pair of blood-thirsty monsters.”



“Been there, done that,” Bella quipped lightly.



Edward pressed on. “And then there’s the general mystery that is you. You’re an enigma. A complete conundrum. I just wish I knew what you were thinking …”



“Ah,” Bella said, understanding. “That annoys him, too.”



Edward looked startled. “What do you mean?”



She laughed lightly. “You can’t hear my thoughts and it’s driving you absolutely mad.”



“How did you know? I never told you …”



“My Edward also finds it incredibly irritating. In fact, it is perhaps the single most frequent cause of his frustration. That and, well, more human desires.”



“More … Oh!” Edward said, his fingers fluttering against her as he understood the meaning of her words. “You two have …?”



Bella blushed profoundly and Edward leaned away from the sudden burst of blood coloring her cheeks. “No,” she said. “We’ve just talked about it. We were planning to try after the wedding. I told him it was the one human thing I wanted to experience before he changed me.”



“Change you?”



“It’s what I want,” she said. “I’ve considered the price – of becoming a vampire – trust me. But it’s worth it … to me, it’s worth the price.”



Edward nodded solemnly, understanding that this was a subject she did not wish to discuss further. And as it did not, technically, directly concern him, he fought back the urge to argue against her transformation. Instead, he returned to the subject that had captured his interest. The curiosity was burning inside of him. “So the two of you have never …”



“No,” Bella said, laughing and blushing again. “We both want to, of course, but Edward’s always so damned worried about crushing my skull or killing me.”



“That’s true,” Edward said. “If I – he – were to lose control …”



“I know,” Bella said, interrupting. She did not correct his slip of pronouns. “That’s why we’ve waited.”



He nodded in understanding. “But you’ve kissed at least, right?”



Bella smiled – beaming, her face aglow. “Yes,” she said brightly. “It’s … incredible, kissing him. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world.” She sighed contentedly, remembering their last kiss just before the storm. It felt so close and yet, so long ago. The joy of her memory turned to sudden sadness as she realized this. A longing fell over her, the weight of it suddenly pressing down on her, holding her down. She struggled to breathe; it felt almost as if she were drowning. Fresh tears filled her eyes, turning her vision blurry. “Oh,” she gasped, shocked by the sudden wave of emotion.



“Bella?”



“I just miss him so much …”



Edward sighed, understanding – but still wishing he could fill that void for her. Longing to be the Edward that she craved. “It’ll be okay,” he promised, even as he knew there was a good chance he would break his vow. Regardless, he wrapped his arms around her more securely, pulling her tight against his chest. Her tears left wet streaks on his shirt, but he paid it no heed. He brushed his lips lightly over her hair, inhaling the smell of her. She’d been right, he realized – he was growing more accustomed to her scent; to the pull of her blood. Gently, his hand reached down and cupped her chin, tilting her face up to meet his. He gazed down at her, his eyes smoldering – dark with a different kind of longing. Bella blinked, trying to clear the tears away from her eyes. She hardly noticed until it was too late as Edward lowered his face and touched his lips to hers.



At first, the kiss was soft – lips touching lightly. But it soon deepened, their mouths pressing together with a new sense of urgency. Bella groaned instinctively as one of Edward’s hands tangled in her hair, the other clasping the back of her neck.



But just as suddenly she pulled away, her fingers flying to her mouth. She could feel them, still tingling from Edward’s kiss. She was shocked by her own actions. This was not her Edward … this was another person. An incredibly familiar person, but not the same. No, certainly not the same.



“This is wrong,” she said, extricating herself from Edward’s arms and pulling away. “This is wrong.”



Edward, startled by her sudden withdrawal, jumped from the bed. Only with her extraction did he realize how close he’d just come to slipping. The kiss had been … electric … and he’d become lost in the intensity. Even as he’d savored the warmth of her mouth, the venom had been pooling and the beast inside of him had started to take control. She had pulled away not a moment too soon, though her reason for removing herself stung. He’d needed the distance to protect her; to keep her safe. She needed the distance because she felt disgusted; disturbed.



“I’m sorry, I can’t,” she said, looking up at him. Her eyes were wide and her fingers still lingered near her lips. “You should go now.”



He nodded. “You should sleep.”



He left the room silently, not even a whisper on the floor to give away his footsteps. In the emptiness, Bella curled into herself on the mattress, pulling the comforter tightly around her shoulders. Vainly, she fought back the tears and instead, let them fall until she was too exhausted to weep any more and then she finally, fitfully, fell into a very deep sleep.



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