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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.


20. Chapter 20

Rating 3.4/5   Word Count 3752   Review this Chapter

Ch. 20: Confrontations

Jacob had agreed to meet me at the edge of the cliff and for once, I was grateful for Edward's inability to hear my thoughts. I made Alice promise not to let the details of what I was about to do slip out to Edward and as the sun began to slowly set, I slipped through the side door and down the driveway.

But of course, even the best laid plans can go wrong.

"Bella," his voice rang from the doorway and I froze.

Slowly, I turned around to face him, wondering to myself if I was ready for this discussion. One look at his face told me that I wasn't. He was leaning against the doorframe, mouth drawn into a light frown, brow furrowed, strong jawline pulled taut. His skin sparkled dimly in the darkening sky and I inhaled a short, quick breath, wishing I could go to him, but knowing that I couldn't.

"Not now, Edward," I mumbled, backing away.

He didn't listen to me. Instead, he pushed himself off the frame and sauntered toward me, reaching his hand out to touch me.

No, I flinched involuntarily.

Don't touch me, my mind snapped and his hand jerked back as if burned.

"Bella - " his voice cracked. I cringed. His voice never cracked. It was always too lyrical, too velvety and smooth and flawless. It hit me that I was the reason why that voice was breaking and if he were a human, maybe he would be in tears.

That thought alone ate at me and I turned away from him, unable to meet his probing gaze and his hurt expression.

"I'll be back soon," I told him. "Don't follow me."

"Wait, no - "

I was off before he could get another word in.

………………………………………………………

Here I was, at the cliff again. The breeze lifted my hair and blew it hard so it whipped across my face, but I did nothing to stop it. My eyes closed of their own accord and I sighed, enjoying the sunset without actually seeing it. I imagined the red, orange, purple hazes behind my eyelids, listened to the crashing of the waves a hundred or so feet below me, felt the ends of my hair tickle my nose.

So much happened here. Right here, At this cliff.

If I was really quiet, I could almost hear children laughing and parents calling them into the house for dinner. Families in their backyards, happily oblivious to the dangers surrounding them. They were miles away, but if I stayed still, I could hear their conversation.

Five more minutes, Mommy. Please?

No, it's dinner time. Tell your dad to come in, too.

Aww, Ma!

And don't forget to wash your hands!

I smiled, remembering a time years ago when I was that age. When Charlie and Renee were still together and I was an even bigger klutz than I was now…

Jacob's scent reached my nose and I heard the rustling sound of leaves as they brushed against his thick fur.

"How are you?" I turned and caught him just in the tail end of his change. The paws elongated into fingers and his back straightened into the stance of a man.

"Pretty good, considering," he answered, smiling.

"And Charlie?"

"Safe for the time being. He doesn't suspect anything."

"Good."

"And you?" Jacob joined me at the edge of the cliff. The breeze picked up his hair as well and I giggled as it slapped into his mouth. He wrinkled his nose and carefully pulled his hair back.

"Stupid hair's getting too long," he grumbled good-naturedly. He turned back toward the ocean below. I took a second to examine his sturdy profile. His skin was darker now, more brown than bronze, golden highlights of the sun illuminated his skin. He looked worn, but at the same time, he seemed healthier than ever.

"I'm … in trouble," I sighed. He turned back toward me and raised an eyebrow.

"When are you not?" he quipped, grinning. Worry was laced through the light tones of his voice and I bumped him with my shoulder, laughing lightly.

"The Aurelius challenged us," I explained.

"Challenged?"

"They want me," I told him. "But they're willing to fight the Cullens'. If they win, I'll have to go with Dorian."

I told him about the challenge, about the Aurelius, making sure to describe each of their abilities in details. The lines on his forehead grew deeper and deeper as his eyes hardened.

"Jesus, Bells," he swore when I was finished. "You really are in trouble."

I nodded and shrugged. "Yeah."

"What can I do to help?"

I turned to him in surprise. He smiled at me and spread his hands out, indicating to me that he was at my disposal. I couldn't hide my happiness. He'd offered himself to me, just like that.

"Are werewolves immune to vampire powers?" I asked him, curious. He'd been absent from Alice's future flashes, yet Edward had been able to read his mind.

"In human form, we're immune to most. But when we're wolves - nothing can affect us."

"So you're willing to - "

The scent of bitterness and wet dog cut me off. My neck nearly snapped as I twisted around, flaring my nostrils. My entire body was automatically tensed and my mind reeled, spinning as fast as it could as I tried to place the smell.

Werewolves.

I glanced at Jacob and registered the guilty look on his face.

"You told me we would be alone," I accused, digging my nails into my palm.

Before he could answer, Sam stepped out from the woods, followed by Paul, Embry, Jared, and … Quil.

Quil looked at me wildly and I felt a pang at the helpless, lost expression written all over his face. Was it really that long ago when he told me how he was worried about Sam's gang? How he was scared they were going to come for him next? It felt like yesterday. He was taller than what I remembered, but he still managed to remain a head shorter than the rest of them.

The rest of the werewolves stared at me warily and I realized they still didn't trust me. It didn't matter that just a few months ago, they had cautiously accepted me and were willing to help me - now, half of them looked ready to tear my head off.

"We're here to help," Sam announced. I opened and closed my mouth, searching for something to say. There were scattered murmurs and growls coming from his pack.

The best I could come up with was: "Why?"

He gave me a disbelieving look and snorted. "You think we want the Aurelians on our turf? I know what's going on. I know about the challenge - and I know that we can help. We'll set up an extra attack front and - "

"They said they wanted even teams."

Sam blinked at me and I realized that what I had just said was completely idiotic.

"If you think they're going to be playing fair, you're crazy," he sneered, condescendingly. "They'll have you playing their game, then BOOM! You're all gone."

A small part of me shouted in agreement.

He sighed. "Look, we're not affected by their powers. We're your best bet."

I nodded. "So, do you have a plan?" I inwardly hoped he did because just the idea of an all out fight was enough to make me want to flee.

"Actually," his teeth shone as his lips curled up into a wide smile. "I do. We can't let them know of our plans, so the best way to fight them is to try and separate them one by one, lure them to the far end of the meadow - where the fight will happen, I expect - and we'll ambush them. It's perfect and - "

He suddenly stopped and roared, surprising me so much that I almost jumped and screamed.

The rest of the packed tensed and I inadvertently sniffed the air, trying to sense what was bothering them. It took me less than a second to figure it out; I could recognize Edward's scent from anywhere.

Sure enough, he emerged from the path, closely followed by Tanya.

"We only agreed to talk to her," Sam snarled, clenching his fists. I stiffened, looking from Edward's dark, pleading gaze to Tanya's smug one.

Jacob noticed the exchange and I heard a little growl rumble from his throat.

"He's the reason why you threw your life away?" he demanded, glaring at the three of us. "He seemed to throw you away pretty fast."

At that moment, all I wanted to do was run away. The frustration was blinding, unreasonable jealousy raging; I wanted to tear my eyes out.

Edward narrowed his eyes at Jacob. "Don't talk about what you know nothing about."

Tanya remained silent as Jacob curled his lips above his teeth, snarling.

"Enough!" Sam interjected before either of them could respond. "What are you doing here, vampire?"

"Alice had a vision," Edward informed him, looking back my way again. "Dorian's heading out here."

I frowned.

"Adrien and Iris aren't with him," he explained when he saw the look on my face. "He's coming alone."

Sam scoffed arrogantly. "Let him come," he threw his arm out. "We can take one vampire down."

"Bad idea," Tanya smirked, casting him a livid look masked by hooded eyelids.

"How so?" he snorted. "It will make things simpler."

"Dorian is too powerful for a measly pack of dogs," she lifted her upper lip in a condescending sneer.

Sam's anger was evident in his resounding growl. "And in case you've forgotten, blood-sucker, we 'measly pack of dogs' aren't susceptible to his so-called power."

"Do you want an entire vampire pack after you?" Edward asked, the annoyance seeping into his hardened voice.

"Let them come."

"Don't be absurd. That's certain suicide."

For a moment, it looked like Sam would carry on with the argument, but after a prolonged glaring contest, he grumbled to himself and started walking away.

"Let's move out," he ordered the wolves around him and they followed him out of the clearing and back into the woods.

Jacob lingered behind, transferring his gaze from me to Edward as if unsure what his next move should be.

"Bella?" he asked, his voice uncertain.

"I'll be fine, Jacob." I offered him a faint smile and from the corner of my eye, saw Edward scowling at the two of us.

"You sure?"

"Yeah."

He swooped me in for a brief, tight hug, whispering "I love you," fiercely into my ear before letting go and disappearing with the rest of his pack.

Edward watched our exchange and by the look on his face, I knew he heard Jacob's words. Or at least, his thoughts.

An awkward silence settled in as the three of us just stood there, looking everywhere and nowhere at once. My hair was flapping wildly along in the wind and I noticed with disdain that somehow, Tanya's blonde locks managed to remain in place and stay picture perfect.

Her buttery, amber eyes regarded me with icy calmness and I felt my back teeth grinding into each other.

I couldn't hold back my anger anymore.

"What is she doing here?" I demanded to know. Tanya crossed her arms in front of me and lifted her chin.

"To help," Edward answered, his voice tight. A soft rumble sounded deep in my throat and I swallowed, trying to reign in my frustration with him and the world.

At first, I thought he was going to say more and I waited, but nothing else escaped those perfectly shaped lips of his. Frowning, I turned away.

"What are we waiting for?" I mumbled, shivering involuntarily.

"Dorian."

"Oh."

Is this what we had come to? Flaccid questions and one word responses? Anger sprang up in my chest again. Dozens of thoughts ran through my head; some wanting to tell him off, some wanting to beg him back. Miraculously, I remained cool and contained. If anybody was going to make the first move, it would be him.

But he didn't say a word.

Instead, it was Tanya's mellowed voice that broke me from my deep contemplation.

"Don't be angry with Edward," she sighed, sounding defeated and annoyed all at once. "He's done nothing wrong."

"Of course not," I snorted, refusing to look at either of them. "He's Edward. He can do no wrong."

"Bella - "

Tanya cut him off. "If anything, you should be angry with me. Sometimes, I come on a little strong - maybe even too strong. I'm not going to apologize for it; why should I? It's just the way I am. Most men would be falling at my feet by now, considering the amount of energy I've directed towards your fiancé. He's resisted over and over again. I'm not sure if you know the extent of my power, but that means a lot.

"Clearly, after the first five minutes of getting no reaction from him, I've given up. I don't want your fiancé and he doesn't want me," she finished, gesturing toward Edward with a careless wave of her wrist.

I digested her words, trying to figure out what it all meant. Alice had told me what Tanya's power was and I had seen the evidence when Emmett couldn't tear his eyes off of her, but it never hit me until…

Edward wasn't affected by her. Did that mean something? What did it mean? My insecurities hit me full force and I breathed out slowly, closing my eyes for a short moment.

"Bella?"

His voice sounded insecure and I sighed a soft, "Oh."

"Oh?" he repeated, sounding incredulous. "I already told you that."

And he did. He had told me that there was nothing between him and Tanya. It was just - I couldn't even answer myself.

"I know," I said. "I just…"

"Don't you trust me?" his voice was hardened and angry.

"It's not that. I - "

I couldn't continue.

"What?" he prompted. I lifted my eyes to meet his and was thrown by intensity of his gaze. Again, the rest of the world blurred away and it was just the two of us standing yards away from each other.

Or feet, inches,… I didn't know how he had gotten so close so suddenly. My throat suddenly felt dry and I swallowed, hard. This was it, I realized. Here was our climactic confrontation, right here by a cliff I wished I never discovered, in front of a girl I wished I never met.

Pride flattened out my lips and for a split second, I considered running off. Delaying our talk was tempting, so tempting I could almost taste the relief.

But no. It had to be done. I glanced at Tanya briefly and she immediately shrugged and stalked off, shoulders stiff.

"Bella," Edward sounded stiff, maybe a little tired.

"I'm - " I swallowed again, summoning whatever courage was left in me. "I'm afraid."

"Afraid?" his voice was sharp, surprised. I looked into his eyes from under my eyelashes, uneasy with what I had to say. Flecks of gold and honey brown glistened from the dark, topaz irises. "Afraid of what?"

"Losing you," I mumbled.

"Bella - "

"No, let me finish," I interrupted. The words knew no hesitancy now. They flooded from my mouth as if the dam holding them back crumbled down into some deep abyss. "I need you. Like I really, really need you. The first time you left me - I was nothing but a shell of a person. I wasn't even that. I was a cracked shell. My life was completely, absolutely miserable."

I saw the instant pain and regret in his eyes and I quickly continued before he could say anything.

"And I know you promised me you'd never leave me again. I know that, but to me, they're just words. You say them over and over again, but when I try to … reach out and touch them, they feel like tiny particles of mist. Not solid… unstable.

"I tried to ignore it, but I can't. I tell myself everyday that you're real and you wont leave, but it's hard for me to convince myself because ever since you turned me, I feel like I don't really have you. You're there, but at the same time … you're not."

I took a deep breath, closing my eyes and finishing, "And it kills me more than you can ever imagine."

There it is, I thought, biting my lip. It was all out in the open now. Thoughts that had been gnawing at me for hours, days, weeks. Thoughts that had slowly been wasting me away until I was the same shell I had been a few months ago.

When he finally spoke, his voice was laced with disbelief.

"Don't have me?" he asked, tone deep. There was that tinge of restraint and I knew that whatever was about to come wasn't what I hoped it would be. "Everything I've done is for you! How can you say that you feel like I'm not there?"

"You're - "

"No, you've said your piece. It's my turn now," he cut me off with a fierce look and a short growl. My mouth clamped shut.

"If you don't know how much you mean to me by now, then maybe we're doing something very wrong. You are my entire life, Bella. Every single thing that I do, every single word that I say… it's for you. It's to make sure that twenty, fifty, a million years from now, you're still standing next to me with every single strand of hair intact because if something happened to you now, God knows what I would do.

"I can be overbearing sometimes. I know that. But - God, Bella - things aren't completely safe at the moment and you are, by far, the most stubborn, careless person that I have ever known. When you were human, you wouldn't think twice before stepping into the street right in front of a moving truck! As a vampire, you still haven't learned the meaning of danger. You put yourself in these perilous situations and every single time, a small piece of me feels like it's cracking off and one of these days, I think that … "

He choked and I held my breath.

"Do you know how much I love you?" he asked me, teeth clenched, eyes burning into mine. "Do you know how much you mean to me?"

My heart soared and suddenly, me head was dizzy.

"You haven't told me you loved me since I was still human," I breathed, afraid to listen to my own voice. "I was starting to think maybe - "

His crease appeared between his eyebrows as comprehension dawned on his features. "Is that - ?" Edward shook his head, disbelievingly. "You were concerned about the extent of my feelings towards you?"

I nodded, mute.

"Bella, you're - " a small bubble of a laugh escaped his lips and he snatched my arm up with a strong hand. He shook me once, hard. "How am I supposed to work on our relationship when I'm too busy trying to keep you alive?"

His fingers dug into my skin and I welcomed the pain. To me, it felt real; it was something to latch onto and I never wanted him to let go.

"Fuck," he snarled under his breath and I nearly jumped. Catching himself, he muttered a quick, "Sorry. I don't usually - I hate swearing, it's just - "

Edward's mouth opened and closed one, two, three times before he finally spoke again.

"Do you know what it would do to me if you died?" he asked me, voice controlled, thinly veiling his distress. I almost wished he'd screamed at me.

His face was so close to mine and I felt the coolness of his breath fan against my cheek. I shuddered, taking a breath, feeling my eyelids flutter down as I inhaled his sweet, beautiful scent.

"You'd go to Aro," I said softly, repeating a mantra he'd whispered into my ear so long ago. Or was it really that long ago? My eyes latched onto his again and I took a step closer, leaning my head up so our noses almost touched. "If anything happens to me, promise me you wont do it. Promise me, Edward."

"That's one promise I cannot make," he murmured and I felt dry tears blurring my vision. His arms wrapped around my waist and he pulled me against his chest. "Because if I allowed myself to exist afterwards, I would be a breath of a man. My life would be already dead and a body without a soul is a menace to society."

My fingers clutched the back of his shirt and I rested my forehead against his chest, shaking.

"If anything happens to you, I would never forgive myself," he whispered against the skin of my neck, holding me even tighter. "I can't lose you."

"You wont," I tried to reassure him.

"Promise me something," he spoke quietly, urgently.

"Anything."

"Promise me you wont put yourself in any immediate danger."

I froze. He had done it again and this was a promise I knew I couldn't make.

"I love you," I breathed into his ear, not answering him. I lifted my head up and pulled his down, covering his lips with mine, drowning out whatever he was about to say.

At first, he was stiff and unmoving, but after a few seconds, his lips parted and his head tilted to the side, deepening the kiss.

I love you.

We didn't even notice that the water underneath the cliff was rising, crashing against the rocks violently. We didn't see the sky darkening and the clouds rolling in, dark and threatening.

We didn't stop kissing until we heard the distinct sound of Tanya clearing her throat less than five feet away.

Edward turned toward her with an annoyed look.

"I hate to break up this happy reconciliation," she smirked at us with one raised eyebrow. "But we've got company…"

Author's Note: So that took a little longer than I expected. There's your confrontation… and Dorian will be in the next chapter! Thanks for all the reviews, guys. Your support is invaluable to me; very, very motivating. Next chapter should be up… sometime soon.