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Burn Beautiful

Summary:
Spoiler warning. Continuation of New Moon. Being a vampire comes with it's own problems: newfound bloodlust, untried strength, neverending fights between natural vampire will and human conscience. Edward and Bella's relationship takes a completely new turn as challenges fly their way. Namely, a pack of furious werewolves and a certain vampire named Victoria, who's still set on vengeance and, this time, gains some powerful followers determined to end Bella, vampire or not, and do as much damage to Forks as possible.


Notes:
I just finished New Moon and I know I SHOULD wait until Eclipse comes out, but I had to do something to pass the time! Especially since I had about a million ideas running through my head, mainly around how much could happen once Bella IS a vampire. What happens with Victoria, werewolves, Volturi? What's her special ability, if she has one at all? How does she go about realizing her ability? How does she deal with vampire instincts? What about her parents? AHH, idea overflow! I've outlined this entire story and it's turning up to be pretty much novel long, which is exciting. I'm not new to writing, I've just never done this particular "fandom" before and I hope I do it justice.


18. Chapter 18

Rating 3.8/5   Word Count 4486   Review this Chapter

NOTE: This chapter gets a little PG13. Just a warning =]

Ch. 18: Progression

"We duel," Emmett's loud voice broke the wall of silence separating all of us. That was the general consensus among the male half of the family, but at the same time:

"There's no way you're - "

"Absolutely not, you crazy idiots - "

"Don't be stupid - "

Rosalie and Alice spoke at the same time I did and none of us stopped, making our interwoven protests a giant proclamation of "No!"

" - completely daft if you think we'll let you - "

" - never heard such an absurd idea in my life - "

" - do you have any clue what you're getting yourself - "

Emmett looked at all three of us, exasperated. We paused and gave him a simultaneous glare.

I nearly laughed at the picture we made. Not five minutes ago, we had been facing hell on earth with one of the most powerful vampires around. Now, we were arguing in true Cullen-esque fashion.

"It's the only logical way!" Emmett complained, "We'll win and they'll leave! How can you not see the logic in that?"

Rosalie glared at him. "And who says you'll win? Did you just miss that entire ordeal? Did you sleep through it, you stupid log? Their powers are absolutely insane!"

His mouth opened to object but no immediate sound came out. Finally, he swallowed and said, "We'll win."

The certainty in his voice was infinitely diminished. Disbelief was etched across Rosalie's face as she regarded him. Emmett crossed his arms over his chest and glared, moodily.

"Then what do you suggest?" he asked her. Rosalie narrowed her eyes, then turned away pointedly. Emmett rolled his eyes and muttered, "That's what I thought."

"Look, arguing isn't going to get us anywhere," Jasper quickly thrust himself into the conversation. "Dorian gave us three options and only one of those options include - "

"Who says we need to follow his options?" Alice interrupted. "Just because he gave us a to-do list doesn't mean we have to actuallylisten."

"Yes, we do," Carlisle shook his head. "If we don't, he will ruin this town."

"We can tell everybody to leave and - "

"What? You think we can just evacuate people? Just like that?" Emmett turned his gaze to Alice. "Look, this isn't a hard decision. Hell, it isn't even a decision. It's what's going to happen whether you like it or not."

Alice gazed at him fiercely and opened her mouth. Her words were at the tip of her tongue before she clenched her jaw and swallowed them down.

I tasted it. The syllables, the sentiment. Then we'll just leave, she was about to say. I knew it because it was what I was about to say. We'll just leave and forget about the people. Let them have Forks. Better them than us.

The shame immediately followed the thought.

We were all silent and I realized it wasn't just me and it wasn't just Alice. It was everybody. I looked toward Carlisle and saw the familiar guilty expression spread across his face.

Shame on us.

Edward was looking from Rosalie to Emmett to Alice to Jasper, one by one, taking in our morbid, terrible thoughts. But his expression didn't change. He didn't reprimand. He was thinking it, too.

"We're monsters," he murmured, breaking the silent spell.

"Don't say that," Rosalie looked up sharply, her voice hard as rock. He gave her a dubious look.

"We are. Who else would sacrifice an entire town full of innocents to save their own hide?"

Jasper let out a hoarse cough. "That just makes us cowards. Not quite monsters. It is natural, isn't it? The feeling of fight or flight."

"It isn't right."

"Hardly anything in this world is," Jasper sighed as he buried his face into his hands.

A pregnant pause followed his words and I looked to the floor, afraid to look anybody in the face. This feeling of impending doom crept through my body and I couldn't fight back a shiver.

"Why does Dorian even want me?" I muttered. "What's so special about me?"

Nobody answered for a few seconds.

"I can only presume," Carlisle began. "That it originally had something to do with Victoria. She wanted to enlist Dorian and his clan's help in capturing you."

"But that can't be right," I protested, remembering how Iris had incapacitated Victoria without so much as a single word. "Victoria's weak. She can't possibly force them to help her."

"That is correct," Carlisle nodded. "But the only logical reasoning is that she told them about you and how you were immune to almost all powers. Knowing Dorian - he's probably curious."

He waited a few moments before saying a slew of dreaded words: "I think he wants you to join him."

I nearly heaved.

"Join them?" my voice was weak. "The Aurelius clan?"

Edward cut in. "That's not going to happen," he snarled. "Not without a fight to the death."

I looked at him, but he was growling at the floor. His profile was rigid and hard. Heart-breaking.

"No," I whispered, not thinking.

A few eyes directed themselves to my face and I felt a surge of sadness wipe through me.

"No," I repeated, my voice a little stronger this time.

"No, what?" Alice asked. My eyes stayed trained on Edward until he peeked at me, slowly turning his head in my direction. The intensity of his stare made me feel foolish. How could I ever have doubted his love? It was right there, written out for me to read, touch, grasp.

"I think we should go with choice A," I said slowly, not looking away from him.

Emmett looked confused. "Remind me - what was choice A again?"

I swallowed.

"I'll go to them peacefully," I clarified.

The atmosphere of the room changed immediately.

"No!" Edward growled. His hands clenched dangerously and I could see the white of his knuckles through his skin.

"It makes the most sense," I went on. "I'll go to them, they'll see that I've got nothing special to offer, and then I'll leave."

"It doesn't work like that!" he shouted at me. I cringed.

Edward was at my side in less than two strides and his hands were gripping my arm, fingers digging into my skin. He shook me hard, snarling the entire time.

"Are you insane?" he hissed. I looked up into his eyes and saw the shiny trace of phantom tears lining his eyelashes. He was studying me intently, searching for a hint. A hint of what? I didn't know.

"Just as much as you are," I murmured. His closeness was beginning to affect me, even as anger radiated off of him in heavy waves. The slight buzzing feeling pleasantly vibrating through my body made me weak.

His head was bent until his forehead touched mine. Suddenly, we were the only ones in the room. Everybody else was a blur and all that mattered was him and me and us, together.

"You're staying right here," he commanded softly, eyes still probing deep into mine. "Right here with me and you're not going anywhere. This isn't a request, Bella."

I understood and I relented. What else could I do?

"And don't you ever say anything like that again," he continued. I shivered, feeling his cool breath fan across my cheek. "Don't you dare. Save this self-sacrificing martyr act for somebody else because you're mine and when you sacrifice yourself, you're sacrificing - "

He didn't get to finish because at that instant, the doorbell rang, breaking our spell. My heart fell in disappointment as I held Edward's gaze. He was close to panting and the pain in his eyes broke me.

Suddenly, the sound of wood cracking reached my ears and the distinct smell of Jacob hit my nose. Startled, I jumped back and snapped my head in the direction of the entryway.

Jacob was standing there, breathing hard, dark eyes focused on me. His hair was a wild disarray and his clothes were ripped open and hanging off his lithe frame.

"Jake?" I stepped away from Edward just as he tightened his hold on my arm. Jacob transferred his stare from me to Edward and the animosity between the two was palpable, even from across the room.

This had to stop.

"Jacob, what are you doing here?" I asked, confused.

He swallowed and took a moment to catch his breath.

"Charlie," he choked out, looking at me again. "We have Charlie down at the reserve."

My head spun at his words, various scenarios spinning through my head, all of them gruesome and involving wide pools of blood. I shuddered.

"What happened?" I demanded frantically, breaking away from Edward and crossing the room to my friend.

"We were - " he paused to take another gulp of breath. "We were trailing this vampire."

My jaw tightened.

"Just one?" I asked. He nodded.

"We were trailing him and noticed he was hanging around the police station. We realized he was going after Charlie, so before he could leave, my father went in and invited him on a fishing trip. He's at the reserve right now - he'll be safe there. I thought you should know."

There was a slight break in his voice before he added, "And for some reason, he thinks you and Edward are in Jacksonville."

There was no masking the accusatory nature of his voice.

"You didn't say anything, did you?" I asked warningly.

He shook his head.

"Good," I muttered, sneaking a quick look at Edward, who was glaring at Jacob.

I was still shaken by the idea that Charlie was almost attacked. If it weren't for the werewolves, he would've been…

"Can I see him?" I asked, getting ahead of myself. Jacob opened his mouth to answer, but Edward beat him to it.

"That's not a good idea," he said. I had a feeling that would be my answer.

Jacob didn't agree. "Why not?" he demanded, crossing his arms across his chest. "He's her father. Of course she has a right to see him."

Edward narrowed his eyes. "It's too dangerous."

"What do you mean?"

I looked from Jacob to Edward then to Alice, Jasper, and the rest of the Cullens standing off to the side, pretending not to be interested in our exchange.

Jacob scoffed, coming up with an answer to his own question. "Bella wouldn't harm her own father."

"Of course not," Edward rolled his eyes. "But we're not permitted on the reserve according to your treaty. And if Bella goes by herself…"

He trailed off, not bothering to mention the fact that the Aurelius Clan was already in town. Jacob blinked and turned to me.

"What's he going on about?"

I played with the hem of my shirt, trying to figure out the best way to tell him.

"Just say it, Bells," Jacob ordered. I sighed.

"The Aurelius is here," I said simply, then fidgeted nervously, wondering how he would react.

"What do you mean, here?"

"As in - they confronted us less than an hour ago. Or is it more? I'm not so sure."

Jacob whirled on Edward, growling.

"You're supposed to keep her safe!" he accused, pointing at him. Edward straightened, baring his teeth.

"She is safe," he returned. "Safer with me than you, anyways."

I stared at them both in disbelief.

"Stop!" I shouted, stomping my foot impetuously for effect. "Save the macho pissing contest for later, please. We have a situation at hand."

"Yes, ma'am," Edward grumbled, still keeping his cautious eyes on Jacob.

Jacob just mumbled in response.

I rubbed my temples, annoyed and feeling the starts of a throbbing headache.

"Okay look," I sighed, turning to Jacob. "Thanks for telling me, Jake. Keep an eye out for Charlie, okay?"

"I will."

"Thanks," I repeated. After a little pause, I touched his chest, ignoring a short snarl coming from Edward. "I need you to leave, okay?"

At Jake's hurt expression, I elaborated. "I need to think this through."

He nodded.

"Of course," he smiled warily and took me in his arms for a short hug. I couldn't shake off the distinct feeling that the hug was more for Edward's sake than mine. "I'll be seeing you."

With that, he turned and was out the door, leaving a trail of his slightly bitter scent behind him.

"This day gets better and better," Emmett groaned from behind me.

Carlisle answered, but I wasn't listening. All I noticed was something about "Denali" and "reinforcements" and the sounds of his feet padding away to the kitchen.

I felt Edward's presence as he leaned down to whisper in my ear.

"Let's go upstairs."

Nodding, I turned and let him lead me to his room.

…………

I stepped into his room and wrapped my arms around myself. After I heard the door click shut, I turned my head.

"I don't want to fight," I said softly as Edward took a step towards me.

"Then we wont."

He placed his hands on my waist and pulled me close as I closed my eyes.

"It feels like it's been forever," he mumbled into my hair as he leaned his head down to rest against mine. I took in a deep breath and let his sweetness wash over me.

I understood what he meant, even without elaboration.

"I know," I breathed, moving my arms so my hands could play with his shirt.

"While arguing with you has its own appeal, I can think of other things I'd rather be doing."

I shivered at the suggestion hidden in his words and I felt his lips curl up against my skin. He knew exactly what he was doing and for a moment, it annoyed me.

"Tell me something," I requested.

"What would you like to hear?"

"Something. Anything."

"Mm," he trailed his hands up and down my arm, bringing me even closer until there was no space left in between our bodies. "You're the most beautiful girl in the world."

I laughed a genuine laugh and leaned back to smack his chest.

"Something meaningful," I rolled my eyes. "And true."

He frowned but a playful glow danced in his eyes. "What do you mean 'meaningful and true'? You doubt my sincerity?"

I wrapped my arms around his neck and tiptoed up, lightly pressing my lips against his chin.

"No," I said into his ear, grinning. "I doubt your eyesight."

He slowly backed us up into the center of the room, heading toward the black, leather couch.

"I'll have you know," he raised an eyebrow. "My vision is beyond spectacular."

"Then I think you're biased," I teased. He ignored me and opted for nuzzling my neck. I felt the softness of his lips scatter kisses across my collarbone, making my knees go weak.

"Tell me something real," I insisted, resting my cheek on his shoulders as he lavished attention to the junction between my neck and shoulder.

After a lengthy pause, he said, "One of the reasons why I don't want you to see Charlie just yet… is because you're not the same."

I furrowed my eyebrows, uncertain as to what he meant.

"Not the same?" I asked him, stifling a little moan as he nipped at my earlobe.

"Mhm," he murmured. "You're quite different."

"Obviously. I'm not exactly thriving on potatoes and pizza anymore, am I?"

I pulled away a fraction and he sighed in frustration.

"You're ruining the mood," he whined, reaching out for me again. "We haven't been alone for weeks and you're choosing now to talk about the technicalities of how you look?"

"I look different, then?" When he nodded, I frowned. "I didn't notice. Well, with the exception of my eye-color, nothing much has changed, has it?"

He snorted and shook his head.

"Charlie's seen you while you were living and breathing. To him, quite a lot will seem changed."

"I don't see how," I twisted around, searching for a mirror and finding none in his room.

"After about a century in a never-changing body, I don't exactly need to look at myself anymore," was his way of explaining the lack of mirrors in his room.

"Pity," I said absently, not really paying attention to my words. "You're missing out on a great treat."

His laugh brought me back to the moment.

"A great treat, huh?" he looked amused. "You like looking at me that much?"

"Oh, shut up."

He shrugged. "You haven't seen yourself," he told me, "And even if you did, I'd doubt you would notice the difference."

My hands flew up to my face, trying to feel out any inconsistencies. Who knew? Maybe those so-called differences would be to my benefit.

Edward rolled his eyes. "No, not like that."

"Then like what?"

He paused, biding time. "I don't know how to put it in words. It's as if you're a … a lamp."

My mouth dropped, indignant.

"Wonderful," I grumbled, glowering up at him. "Go on. Keep comparing me to a lamp. I love it when you do that."

He went on, not paying any attention to me. "When you're alive, it's like daytime. The lamp isn’t lit - it's just sitting on a desk. Now that you're not living anymore, it's nighttime and the lamp is shining brightly. Same lamp, same shape… yet different. Do you see what I'm trying to say?"

I stared at him and he added quickly, "Of course, you're not an ordinary lamp. More like the most elaborate chandelier that anybody's ever seen."

When I just continued to look at him, he sighed and took me in his arms.

"But see," he kissed my cheek and directed his mouth to my ear. "In the daytime, I loved you. I loved looking at you, feeling you, talking to you. But now, in the nighttime, you've become my light. I need you, Bella."

My heart swelled at his words and I gazed up into his eyes as he smiled and cupped the back of my neck with his hand.

"Bella, I - "

"Why are you still talking?" I asked in a whisper before reaching up to pull his head to mine, eliminating the distance between our lips.

The kiss was soft, gentle. A little match lighting up a single candle. But as his tongue gently prodded at the corner of my mouth, I smiled and parted my lips for him, letting the flame grow until it was too much for the candle.

His arms were a vice, pressing the length of my body against his and I pushed him backwards, turning him around until the couch was nudging against the back of his legs.

"God, Bella," he groaned into my mouth.

"You were right," I told him between kisses. They were getting more and more frantic as our time apart finally became reality and our bodies wondered what the heck had we been thinking. "It does feel like forever and I never want to feel forever again unless it's with you, not without you."

Our lips met again and I felt like I tasted heaven. He wasn't holding back, now. I felt his hand run down my back to my thigh, tracing different curves, different muscles, felt his chest move against mine as he gasped in air.

I wasn't sure where we were going and a part of me was afraid. That part of me was scared and nervous, shooting warning bells in my head as his hand found its way under my shirt and was making its way up, leaving a burning trail in its wake. All I knew was that I didn't want to stop.

He gently nipped my bottom lip, teasing me with his teeth until I hissed. The places where his fingers touched were places that no one's ever touched me before and I shivered, half from excitement, half from fear.

Questions ran through my head; questions that seemed so irrelevant but meant everything right now. Would I be any good? Would he still love me after this?

I didn't realize I was sending frantic thought-waves out until an unmistakably male voice penetrated my thoughts.

"Do you even have to wonder?" he asked, pulling away a fraction. His hands were frozen right under my bra, his skin touching mine, soft, rough, hard, gentle, all at the same time. I forgot to breathe.

I kissed him in response and he seemed to accept my answer. Slowly, he lifted me up and my legs wound around his waist, pulling him as close as he could possibly get.

Suddenly, my back was colliding against the soft material of his couch and he was hovering over me. His arms were traveling upwards, pulling up the material of my shirt as it went, my back was arching up, helping him, my heart was suddenly beating again - or at least, that was what it felt like.

Somehow or another, my shirt fell off and was tossed carelessly to the side. I felt Edward's eyes appraising me, studying me, I heard the air being sucked into his mouth as he breathed in deeply.

Self-consciously, I felt the need to cover myself even though I was still wearing a bra. Rationally, I knew it shouldn't matter - bras were nothing more than bikinis, really, and didn't people wear bikinis out on the beach? But this was different. This was Edward and he had never seen me like this before.

He grabbed my wrist before I could fully move them.

"Don't," he said simply and kissed me lightly on the lips, letting his nose brush against mine. "You're perfect. Don't hide from me."

"Have you - "

I didn't know how to ask. I didn't know if I should ask.

"No," he shook his head and gave me half a smile. "Not like this. Not like you, anyway."

He was kissing me again and I felt his hand on my stomach, palms down, fingers spread. A finger dipped into my bellybutton, his hand moved up, slowly, cautiously, a fingertip trailed along the underwire of my bra carefully, as if it wasn't sure if it should.

My insides constricted, loving the way he was touching me, but feeling uneasy all the same. He must have felt my hesitation, because his hand fell away. Part of me screamed and part of me sighed in relief.

I wasn't ready for this yet. I knew he understood and I smiled against his lips, hooking my arms around his neck, pulling him down until he rested entirely against me.

"You don't have to worry about crushing me anymore," I grinned up at him, hooking my leg over one of his. His eyes met mine and he held my gaze for what seemed like eternity.

"No," he agreed softly, shaking his head. "I just have to worry about you crushing me."

For some reason, I knew he wasn't talking about his body. He was talking about something more, something significant.

"You can really break my heart, Bella," he said and it sounded more like a confession than an accusation. He was opening himself up and I relished the feeling. My finger traced along his cheekbone, down the side of his nose, to his parted lips.

"I don't know how to break hearts," I told him before kissing him.

The world slipped away again as his tongue slid past mine. I tasted his sweetness and loved it, wanting more and more. There was a whispered reminder that we still hadn't had that discussion yet, but as his teeth gently bit down on my shoulder, I forgot why it was so important.

At least, I forgot why it was important until a voice suddenly broke us apart.

At the sound of the voice, Edward jumped up and situated himself in front of me, shielding my state of semi-undress from whoever was at the door. From his flustered look, I realized he was just as caught up in the moment as I had been and hadn't been paying attention to the thoughts of everybody else in the house.

"Hello, Edward," the voice said, sultry and inviting. "You don't call, you don't write…. What's a girl to think?"

At the sound of the voice, I felt instant revulsion and anger at whoever it was and fought down the urge to push Edward aside and attack the stranger by the door.

Author's Note: So there was a slightly longer chapter to make up from the extended wait. =]

Hm. I read a review that made me realize that I never really described Dorian's full history and his history does provide insight to his character. I don't think I'll ever get to actually writing it into this story, so here's a brief synopsis:

As a human, Dorian was a "bad guy" and that's the simplest way to put it. He stole, manipulated, whored himself about ... he was your everyday scum. After he was turned, his human ways carried on to his vampire ways: his powers are illusions which reflect his manipulations, he's still a bit of a playboy, he loves to completely desecrate towns for sport, etc. He never had a formal education and he's got his own understanding about how the world works, which is basically this: The strong will survive, I am the strong, therefore I will survive.

Dorian has no interest in getting to know the finer aspects in life - why would he when he can just have fun? And of course, being around for as long as he has, his vocabulary range is probably broader than most, but he likes to curse. He likes to hit people for fun. He likes to rob banks by just eating all the people, punching the safe open, and running with the money. It's all a part of who he is.

He's not so much a "cunning mass murderer" than a ruthless bad-boy with a wild streak. He's not stupid, but he doesn't bother himself with trying to appear educated when it all doesn't really matter to him. That's one of the reasons why he's so dangerous - his lack of caution, his blatant disregard for anybody other than himself, and his habit of just going for whatever it is he wants.

I hope that helps a little bit. I'm seriously thinking that after BB is done, I'll write a Dorian story. It'll be a mix of adventure, horror, romance and it'll be from Dorian's POV. But that's just an idea. What I know I'll definitely be doing is writing interludes of Burn Beautiful from different POV's. You don't know how tempted I was to write the "make-out scene" (I hate calling it that) in this chapter in present tense and in Edward's POV. I think I'll do that later when I have more time.

So… read and review! Yay!