What if Edward had been unable to resist the temptation of Bella's blood on that fateful day? What if it resulted in her transformation? Would their love story be the same?
Even though I say this is angsty, I'm not generally an angst writer. I tend to try to have a good balance, so this isn't anything too hardcore. I'm not completely sure of whether or not there will be more angst in future chapters or what.
13. Chapter 13
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2586 Review this Chapter
The images keep flashing in my head like a horror movie...me, standing over his body...me, biting into his flesh...me, lapping up his blood eagerly like the monster that I am. And then Carlisle comes into my mind, shaking his head in shame. Next come Alice, Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper, and Esme, all backing away from me in disgust...and finally Edward, his glorious face grimacing as he realizes what I truly am.
A fraud. I don't belong with the Cullens. I don't deserve them.
"Bella, are you coming?" Victoria asks impatiently, a dangerous gleam in her eyes.
"I need a minute," I reply. She nods before taking off with James and Laurent. Now I have a decision to make:
I can stay with them and eventually be turned over to the Volturi, or I can try to find the family I left behind, the family that probably won't take me back. Neither choice looks enjoyable, but maybe...maybe Edward will forgive me. This is the only hope I have; maybe he will forgive me, and that will make it all worth it. I don't allow myself to mull over the alternative and walk over to the tent, rifling through a knapsack that the campers left behind. I pull out a compass, and, even better, a map.
Edward's not going to save me this time, I realize.
"You actually have to know where you are to use those," a voice says. I spin around to see Laurent.
"Well, where are we, then?" I demand. He's behind me in an instant, pointing out locations on the map.
He'd told me not to turn around, no matter what. Don't take longer than necessary. Move as quickly as possible, he'd warned me. So now I've become paranoid; everywhere I go, I hear the snapping of a twig and begin to panic, just to find that no one's there. It's maddening. Another dawn approaches as I grow nearer to Denali, staying only in the wildest forests in order to prevent another incident. The guilt of what I've done rises in my throat like bile, distracting me from my thirst. I picture the man and woman together, laughing and smiling...getting married...having children. I'd ruined all that.
The Cullen mansion appears in the distance on the edge of the forest.
The door swings open to reveal Bella who, after only a couple of days, has become wild-looking. Mud is caked in her hair and on her skin, twigs clinging to it; her clothing is ripped, and her eyes are wide and a bit redder than usual. Despite all of this, my heart sings just to see her there and alive. "Bella," I whisper.
She glances over to the chair I'm sitting in, eyeing the book in my lap. Without a doubt, she's wondering why I'm reading her new copy of Wuthering Heights.
"Bella!" Emmett exclaims, rushing over to her from the staircase. "I thought I smelled you!" He pulls her into a hug and an expression of shock lingers on her face, which slowly creeps into the smallest of smiles.
"Hi, Emmett," she says. My eyes meet hers and the smile disappears. What is she thinking? I wonder, beginning to panic. "Where is everyone?" she asks.
Emmett releases Bella and explains, "Carlisle worked the graveyard shift, so he'll be back pretty soon. Jasper's upstairs, and Esme went to Tanya's house with Alice and Rose. As soon as I call to tell them you're back, they'll get over her to--"
"Don't call them," she says quietly. Jasper walks into the room and nods to her. "Hello, Jasper."
"Why not? They'll be be thrilled to know that you're back," Emmett says, a confused look on his face. She only shakes her head before going upstairs, not acknowledging me once. She must not forgive me yet. She must be up there, hating me more than anything...I stand up to leave, to follow her up to her room. When I get there, the door is shut. I consider walking away, but instead I reach out to turn the knob--
"Just come in, Edward," she snaps as I race inside, taking a seat beside her on the bed. After an awkward silence, she says, "You'll hate me."
"What? Bella, you know I could never--"
"Just listen to what I've done, then. I--I killed a human," she confesses, burying her face in her hands. "I'm a monster," she sobs. I wrap my arms around her, but she pulls away from me. "I met three vampires; their names were Victoria, James, and Laurent. They said they were going hunting...I was being stupid, I thought they meant hunting for animals, but...it was humans they were after...it was so obvious...and I...killed one..." She continues to sob dryly.
"Bella, if you're a monster, then God only knows what I am. Do you forget that there was a time in my life when I preyed only on humans? Do you forget that Emmett and Jasper and Alice and even Esme have all had human blood? You've only killed one human, and you think you're a monster?"
"I'm evil," she spits.
"You resisted Charlie's blood for hours! You are far from evil." I lift up her face, cradling it between my hands. "Even if you were a monster, I wouldn't care. I love you."
"How? How can you love something like me?" she inquires.
"I could ask you the same question." She wraps her arms around my waist, sobbing into my chest.
"I'm a murderer...they'll all hate me..."
"They could never hate you. The only one that could hate you without being a hypocrite is Carlisle, and you know that he'd never hate anyone. They love you, Bella." She clings tighter to me, her strength hurting me a bit. I freeze, sniffing the air. "Someone's here."
"I don't recognize the--"
"Laurent," she hisses, inhaling.
I slide out of her arms. "Stay here," I warn her, running down to the front door and slipping into the cool air. "Laurent?"
He nods his head at me, thinking, I wonder if he is their leader? "Yes, that is my name. Bella is part of your coven?" He has a slight French accent.
"Did you track her?" I demand.
"No, no, I merely followed because I was curious. And...I had a warning to give her coven," he answers timidly, his thoughts giving me no reason to distrust him.
And yet, my eyes narrow to form slits as I look into his burgundy irises. "A warning?"
"A very dangerous vampire and his mate are looking for Bella," he informs me.
"They hope to turn her over to the Volturi in exchange for--"
I cut him off mid-sentence with a snarl, not needing to hear him speak the words out loud. Just then, Carlisle's Mercedes pulls into the driveway. He is bewildered as he steps out of the car, his eyes darting from Laurent to me and back. Edward, what's going on? As he looks at me, I understand how this scene must appear to an outsider; I'm crouched down, preparing to attack Laurent, who is standing in a defensive position.
I straighten out of the crouch and clear my throat. "Carlisle, this is Laurent. And Bella's back."
"Yes, I thought I smelled her," Carlisle responds, smiling briefly. "What may I do for you, Laurent?"
"Bella ran into him and another two vampires who were running from the Volturi. They planned to hand her over to the Volturi for their lives," I answer before Laurent opens his mouth. He raises an eyebrow.
"I do not recall telling you that," he says. I glare at him. Right now, I couldn't care less about who knows my talent. "They're both very dangerous. Especially James. He's an extraordinary tracker," Laurent continues.
"James, did you say?" Carlisle muses. "Edward, could you call Tanya?"
"I know the vampire you speak of," Tanya drawls. Then, silently, she adds, I changed him. Her coven, along with Esme, Alice, and Rosalie, all came over as soon as I called.
"You what?" I growl, rising from my seat next to Bella. She reaches up and pulls me by the sleeve so that I'm sitting on the sofa again.
"Don't you remember, Edward? The man I found in the street?" Tanya asks. Bella gasps. "And, yes, I suppose you'll know him, too, Bella."
"His name was James," I utter.
"You failed to mention that in your letter," I grumble. She ignores me.
"What, exactly, are you two talking about?" Emmett demands, banging his fist on his knee with a resounding bang.
"Back when Edward and I were close, I saved a human I found in an alley. I felt sorry for him; he was covered in blood, like he'd been stabbed several times, but he was still alive. Irina nearly drank his blood, but I stopped her, reminding her of our dear friend, Carlisle. Would he kill this man? So, I tried to do what he would do--I saved James. It was difficult having a newborn around, but eventually he matured. I began to see that he possessed a most remarkable power--he was one of the greatest trackers I'd ever known. I'd say he is second only to Demetri."
"Tanya, could you move on with the story?" Jasper says.
"I'm getting there. Anyway, James and I--well, we got along. But anyone who has spent time with me knows that I can't just get along with one man. He seemed to think that my feelings for him were stronger than they actually were--"
"Imagine someone thinking that," I mumble.
"--and," she continues, sending me a look and several angry thoughts, "he got upset and took off, and I never saw him again. The point is, James is dangerous. I've seen what he can do firsthand, and so has Laurent," Tanya says, gesturing to our 'guest', though he appears to be far too interested in Irina to notice.
"Ah, yes. But we've got enough people to take him down without a problem," Emmett says, grinning.
"I refuse to fight," Tanya replies. "I created him, I can't destroy him."
"If Tanya refuses to fight, then so will I," Kate says.
"Me too. I knew James as well...I could not bear to kill him," Irina states.
"I believe that Carmen and I will stay out of this, too," Eleazar says.
"Well, fine, we've still got eight. And one of us is a newborn with crazy strength," Emmett says, winking at Bella.
"Bella can't fight, she knows nothing about combat," I snap, pinching the bridge of my nose.
"Excuse me?" Bella demands, glaring at me.
"We've got plenty of fighters. I don't want you to get hurt," I explain, reaching out for her hand. She snatches it away.
"I am fighting James," she states, gritting her teeth. "I'm the reason he's coming here, Edward."
"Bella, please don't complicate things," I beg.
"Complicate things?" she echoes, getting to her feet. "Don't follow me." She sprints up the stairs to he room. Emmett snickers.
"So, I guess you'll still be a virgin tomorrow, Eddie?" he teases.
"Shut up, Emmett!" Bella hollers from her room.
"If you want your body to function properly, you'll shut the hell up," I threaten, walking out of the room. A pillow hits my head as my brother--and I use that term loosely--continues to aggravate me in his thoughts. As I head to the staircase, he thinks, Um, she said not to follow her.
Oh. Right. Well, maybe she'll change her mind. As I'm about to knock on the door, she says, "Don't come in unless you can accept that I am perfectly capable of defending myself."
"Bella, you ran away and found one of the most dangerous vampires you could find--"
"I got back alive, didn't I? I'm not a child and I'm not an idiot, Edward. Don't treat me like one." The door swings open. There she is, arms crossed over her breasts, twigs protruding from her muddy hair, looking ridiculous and beautiful and furious all at once...I reach out to press my hands against the small of her back, pulling her to me.
"You're right," I admit, burying my face in her hair, inhaling the lovely way her scent mingles with a thousand other natural ones. "You are my equal."
"For the next ten months, I am your superior," she corrects me, wrapping her arms around my body and squeezing me with all of her strength. "And don't you forget it."
"Never," I whisper. She pulls me into her room, kissing me deeply. I kiss her back without hesitation or restraint, forgetting where my own mouth ends and hers begins. Our breathing quickens and her hands travel to my belt buckle. Groaning, I pull away.
"Well, why not?" she asks, flustered.
"Why not now?"
"Someday, yes, right now, no," I say, sitting on her bed. "I can't deal with worrying about you, accepting your superiority, and making love to you all at once. It's too much." She pouts and plops down beside me, leaning against my body.
"Not now?" she repeats slowly.
"No," I answer firmly. She tilts her head up to peck me on the lips.
"Oh, all right, then."
Hours later, she rests in my arms, her eyes closed as if to simulate sleep. "I knew you wouldn't be able to resist my womanly charms," she mutters too quietly for anyone outside of the room to hear.
"Yes, well, the whole house heard us, if that matters to you at all," I whisper, still feeling giddy. She sits up, her eyes bulged out.
"I completely forgot about them!" she cries.
"I don't blame you. I didn't especially want to think of Emmett just now, either. Ew." She just groans, lying down again. "No, trust me, it's not a big deal. Do you know what I had to put up with when Rosalie and Emmett were younger? Or when Alice and Jasper moved in? Or..." I trail off, sparing her the idea of Carlisle and Esme's very awkward first encounters. I love her too much to put her through that. "What are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking that our family--" I smile when she says 'our'--"knows way more than I wanted them to. And Tanya's coven! And Laurent. God, it's impossible to keep anything private in this house."
"Are you embarrassed?" I ask. She shakes her head.
"After all, we didn't do much damage. You made it sound like we would trash the room. I mean, I think a cracked headboard and a few dents in the wall is pretty decent," she says. I chuckle as she wraps her body around my own.
"Don't forget my clothes," I mutter. In her excitement, Bella had shredded my shirt and underwear. Luckily, the top half of my trousers managed to remain intact. "How am I supposed to leave?"
"You're not. It was all part of a plan," she jokes, using her finger to trace circles on my bare stomach.
"We've still got James to worry about," I remind her. "Once he's dead, we can stay like this forever."
"Good." She's silent for a moment.
"Are you still embarrassed?"
"Not of what we did. I'm embarrassed that they know...well, everything."
"Don't be. They'rve all got enough tact not to mention it--except for Emmett, of course. But trust me, a snide remark from him is much better than having to hear their thoughts." She groans. "There's no need to worry about them."
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