L'heure bleue, the blue hour: Rosalie and Emmett didn't wait until September to return to Forks. Instead, they came back in August -- and, unfortunately for Bella and the other Cullens, they didn't come back alone. Bella and Rosalie get thrown together when a new and unexpected enemy arrives in Forks. When their freedom -- and their lives -- are in danger, can Rosalie's animosity last? Set Post-Twilight; it's my version of the events following that novel. Pre-New Moon.
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The afternoon passed by far quicker than I ever would have expected. As we kept on waiting, everyone talking but nobody talking about who we were waiting for, I’d thought that the hours would drag. Thank goodness they didn’t. In fact, every time I glanced at the large clock next to the television, it seemed like another hour had passed. Only my restless position and whatever was on the television screen changed.
The Cullens, I guess, were used to sitting around and waiting. Unable to sleep, they had to while away the long hours of the night somehow. When all the humans around them slept soundly in their beds, content in the knowledge that monsters didn’t exist, vampires—at least, the ‘vegetarian’ vampires I knew who chose to think of humans as something more than food—had to wait for another dawn. In my opinion, they probably spent half their existence just… waiting.
The hours between learning of this visitor’s intended arrival and when he would finally get to Forks would seem like nothing to an immortal. It was nothing, just a few seconds in their forever.
You would think that, as the only human among them, I would feel the passage of time the slowest. That’s probably right, since I was the only one who seemed to feel it all. Wriggling anxiously in my seat and glancing obviously every few minutes at the clock, I knew I was acting like an impatient child.
Edward and his family, on the other hand, sat as still as statues, their demeanor calm. Every now and again the buzz of a private conversation or an invitation to a family chat would cut through the muted quiet of the den, but it wasn’t an awkward silence at all.
After the first couple of hours even I forgot about the time passing us by. Of course, that was probably because Edward had, after covering his lap with an exceptionally soft afghan, carefully lifted me up by my upper arms and settled me so that I was leaning right into him. The afghan kept me from feeling any chill; his touch was gentle as he hummed under his breath, rocking me soothingly. His free hand sought mine out and held tight, as if he never wanted to let go.
It was easy to see that, surrounded by his family, Edward was calmer. The only times I felt him tense up underneath me at all was when Alice got that strange, dreamy gaze on her face. She was, in her special way, keeping watch as we waited. There must not have been any news, though, because, apart from murmuring to Jasper and occasionally teasing Emmett, Alice kept quiet.
Well, for the most part. It was kind of hard to keep Alice shut up for too long.
Carlisle and Esme kept us all company for the whole morning and most of the early afternoon. Edward’s parents, whether on purpose or not, acted as companionable chaperones as we sat in the den—until one particular conversation turned to Forks High School and the students who went there. After a few minutes of listening to Alice ramble on about the hideous dress Lauren Mallory wore to prom last year, the two of them excused themselves, leaving us to our own devices.
From my place on Edward’s lap, I saw Alice wink at me once—Emmett’s laugh was unmistakable—before leaning back comfortably against Jasper’s legs. I guess she’d been trying to give her parents a hint and it worked. Almost as soon as they had left I felt Edward nuzzle my neck, humming more to himself than to me.
Emmett, meanwhile, was in his glory. The recliner he was in looked sturdy enough but, as he lounged sideways, his grip on the remote control ironclad, I could hear tiny sounds of protest as it sagged under his weight. The intimidating, determined smile he had still lit up his handsome face as he, time to time, spoke out loud, evolving his ever changing plan on how he was going to defeat this newcomer. None of it sounded pretty or pleasant and I thanked my lucky stars that I was on his side.
Sometime during the late afternoon, about three o’clock or so, Emmett’s channel surfing led him to find some sort of sporting event on ESPN. On closer look I saw that it was another baseball game. Turning my head into Edward’s chest, I stifled a small groan. After yesterday night I’d had enough of baseball.
Then again—just like it was more interesting watching the Cullens play vampire baseball—it was much more fascinating watching America’s favorite pastime when Emmett Cullen was there to give a play-by-play. In between growling and laughing uproariously at whatever was going on onscreen, he was highly enjoying himself. Me, I didn’t get it. It was baseball, for goodness sake!
"—c’mon, Ump, even someone with your eyesight should be able to see that wasn’t too low or inside! I mean, where did you learn to make calls like that? Umpiring for Dummies—"
"—a check swing? You call that a check swing? He went all the way round and you know it—"
"—ooh… catch it… catch it… catch it catchitcatch— yes!"
"—time for the seventh inning stretch. Oh yeah, that feels good!"
"Buddy, you’re a boy, make a big noise…"
Stomp. Stomp. Clap.
"…playin’ in the street, gonna be a big man someday…"
Stomp. Stomp. Clap.
"Emmett, could please refrain from clapping and stomping along to Queen?"
"But it’s ‘We Will Rock You’, Edward. You’ve got to keep the beat!"
"Keeping the beat is one thing, but you’re making the entire foundation shake."
Edward, it seemed, couldn’t understand Emmett’s high spirits either.
Before Emmett could offer anything in return for Edward’s observation—though, I did notice, he stopped his thunderous applause and the house did stop rattling a bit—Alice chose that moment to come out of another of her silent vision-searching reveries.
Holding two of her fingers against her temple as if she were in pain, Alice tilted her back and looked over at Emmett. "I wouldn’t get all excited if I were you. Seattle loses, six to four."
It was interesting to see how her brother didn’t even bother asking her how she knew. Still, he couldn’t help but say, "You’re sure? They’re up now, four-two."
She nodded. "Top of the ninth, grand slam. Mariners lose."
There was a pause, followed by an exaggerated exhale. "Gee, thanks, Alice. I don’t know what I did without you around to spoil the big games for me," he said, managing to mutter as loud as he could and still be muttering, as he sat back down in his seat. The squeaks from the chair were even more noticeable now.
Her face was paler than normal and the palm of her hand stayed pressed against her cheek, but Alice allowed her frown to transform into the smallest of impish smiles. "I missed you too, Em."
Edward’s voice was much softer than it had been; compared to Emmett’s volume, it was nothing more than a whisper. If it wasn’t for the fact that my side was still pressed close against his chest, I don’t think I would have even heard him call his sister’s name over the sound of the television.
As she turned her head slowly to look at him curiously, I could see that she was suddenly wary. Her smile was a memory. "Yes?"
"Are you okay?"
Are you okay… that what he said but I was pretty sure that that wasn’t what he meant. Or, at least, that he meant a little more with his question than he asked; a second part was hanging around the den, instead, unsaid but definitely present.
No surprise, Alice understood exactly what Edward meant. "It’s still the same, Edward. I’m… I’m trying, but…" She shrugged. "His mind’s made up so far. There’s not much to see."
He waited a second, nodding to himself, before murmuring, "Tonight?"
"If not sooner."
His grip on my hand increased, the pressure becoming too much. I just managed to keep myself from crying out. He was more preoccupied than I’d thought; Edward never forgot how much stronger he was than me but… if he squeezed my hand any tighter, there was a good chance he was going to break it eventually.
The only thing that kept me from pointing out the tightness of his grip was how much he obviously needed to hold onto my hand. Just the feel of the warmth of my human skin against his cool touch seemed to calm him enough. He nodded again, solemnly this time. Alice returned in kind before lowering her head so much that her chin seemed to be setting against her chest.
Jasper, I saw, had leaned forward in his recliner, his pale hand resting lightly on her shoulder. Alice felt the weight of his touch and, lifting her head just enough that I could spy the look of love that flashed across her face, she placed the hand that had been against her cheek on top of his.
They looked as nice and cozy as I felt.
Except for the occasional ‘boo’ from Emmett and a hearty curse when a home run from one of the uniformed player’s proved Alice’s prediction true, quiet settled over the small den again. Comfortable once more, I watched her out of the corner of my eye. A sense of peace had washed over her but I could tell from the set of her shoulders and the tense way she sat that she was still watching for this… this what?
I had a hunch that, despite Alice’s assurances that nothing was changing, this new vampire was a lot more formidable of an opponent than any of them had thought previously. Something had changed—I just didn’t know what.
I longed to break the silence and ask her myself, but I didn’t. If they didn’t want to talk about it, neither did I.
No matter how excitable Emmett was, even he couldn’t lift this dour mood; I couldn’t help but wonder why Jasper was letting us stew in this anxiety. When the ballgame ended and nobody seemed interested in how far he was planning on kicking this guy, Emmett made a great production of yawning before announcing he was going to check on Rosalie.
He didn’t seem bothered at all by the increasingly long wait and, in any other circumstance, I would’ve found his act that he was tired funny. Vampires couldn’t sleep and I don’t think I’d ever even heard one of them yawn before. Then again, he was going off in search of his wife. Even if he could sleep, that would probably be the last thing on his mind. After all, Emmett—not to mention his libido—was eternally twenty.
But the fact of the matter was that these were the circumstances. Unsure and, as a result, feeling more and more anxious as every minute passed, I found myself scrutinizing Alice’s every move almost as much as Edward and Jasper were doing. When she clamped her eyes shut tight and let out a small hissing sound about an hour later, there was no missing it.
Edward sat straight up, moving so quickly that I almost fell out of his lap. He still held my hand in his hand I think it was that more than anything that kept me in place.
"Alice, what was that?" His voice was suddenly much closer to demanding than desperate. My breath caught in my throat. What now?
"I don’t know. It was just a… a flash, I guess. He was thinking about turning east but in the end he didn’t."
My stomach was the next to go; it tied in knots and I had to work to stifle a groan. I’d figured that Edward was sharing her visions all along and it made me nervous that she’d just seen something that rattled both of them. Alice had kept her eyes closed and, behind the increasing pressure of Edward’s grasp, I could see the tensed and stretched tendons of his forearm beneath his alabaster skin.
Just what did they see?
On a whim, I turned to glance at Jasper. Of us remaining four, me and him were the only two left in the dark. He had to be used to this, but that didn’t mean it bothered him any less than me. What was he thinking?
He looked contemplative, his dark gold eyes shadowed as he gazed down on Alice. I don’t think he noticed me watching him; his attention seemed solely on his wife. She was staring at the carpet, refusing to acknowledge Edward’s intense glare.
Edward was just about growling in frustration. He was staring at Alice too, and he barely noticed me looking at Jasper. It was almost as if I was forgotten for a moment. "Why would he go east? I thought he was coming here." He inhaled before exhaling right after. "Was there anything else?"
Just when I thought I was invisible, I felt Edward’s hold around my stomach tighten. His grip on my hand became almost unbearable. I had to bite my tongue this time to keep from crying out.
Alice, being Alice, somehow noticed the state my poor hand was in. Without even looking up or acknowledging Edward’s question—most likely because she didn’t have all the answers he expected her to have—she said, "Watch out for Bella’s hand, Edward. If you squeeze it any harder it’s going to pop off her wrist like a daisy."
He hissed under his breath. I don’t know if the sound meant he was mad at himself or at Alice because, without a word to me, I felt him loosen his hold on my hand before gently caressing it with the tips of his cool fingers. I tried to use body language to let him know that I was okay. The last thing I needed him to do was start second guessing the idea of him staying with me.
He didn’t seem to pull away from me, so that was a good sign. But he did say, "Really, Alice. I thought you were helping me—us. What are you doing?"
Positioned the way I was, I could still see Jasper and Alice. I’d been expecting her to have a retort ready for her brother. I nearly jumped in place when I saw that Jasper had lifted his head up so that he was glaring right at Edward.
Before his eyes had been shadowed, cautious and careful; now, though, they were bright—almost as if there was fire blazing in their golden depths. I suddenly remembered again that Jasper was the most dangerous of the Cullens. Only the fact that his eyes were gold instead of red kept me from hiding behind Edward.
"Edward," he said, his voice quiet yet firm, his temper—for the moment, at least—under complete control, "I’d appreciate it if you stopped treating Alice as your own personal fortune teller. This visit affects us all as much as you and she’s doing the best she can. But she’s not a gypsy, and she’s not a magic eight ball. Please remember that."
I’ve never heard Jasper speak like that before (or, really, that much before), especially to a member of his own family, and it kind of freaked me out. I’d always thought of Edward’s blond brother as the strong, silent type, keeping to himself; in other words, Alice’s complete opposite and perfect match. It was scary to see him turn on Edward like that.
But no one seemed alarmed by his sudden—if totally justified—shift in mood. If I was being honest, Edward’s growing concern was a little hard to swallow. If it was causing me to squirm, I could only imagine how the other Cullens felt in response to his state. It was almost as if his nerves were catching.
I think he finally realized how antsy he’d been acting when his brother snapped at him. Glancing at him, I saw his eyes seemed to widen as if he’d just been struck by an epiphany. Then he blinked and lowered his head.
"Of course, Jasper. And you’re right. Alice, I’m sorry."
"Don’t mention it."
Jasper didn’t say another word then but his hand remained protectively on Alice’s shoulder.
I immediately felt myself calm down. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jasper glance at me before finding some blank spot off in space to stare at. Feeling sheepish, I realized that the sudden sense of fear I felt had been noticeable to him. In response to it he had finally used his gift of manipulating emotions to help me relax. I was suddenly very grateful to him—not only did the anxiety I’d battled all day disappear but, finally, Edward seemed at ease.
Although Edward’s sigh and resumed gentle rubbing of my side might have been more because Jasper has scolded him to harassing Alice…
My mind currently empty of any worries, I thought about that; about the small exchange that had just taken place between Jasper and Edward. Because she was so tiny, I’ve always thought of Alice as being fragile. I knew that, as a vampire, she was more dangerous than most creatures but, when you saw her ballerina-like body, her small hands and her wide eyes, you couldn’t help but feel protective over her.
No doubt, as her mate, Jasper felt that urge even more than I did.
When you could live forever, and you found someone you wanted to be your mate—someone you wanted to spend the rest of eternity with—the feelings had to be something more than just love; it was utter devotion. And, with such intense desire, there came other magnified emotions. Irrational jealousy could be one, and, as I knew all too well, so could the overwhelming urge to defend and protect.
There was one thing I was positive about as I saw Jasper sit tensed on the edge of his seat: Edward’s reactions when it came to me weren’t all that unique. They were just a lot stronger because of my tendency to… well, be a danger magnet.
For Jasper, that desire to stand up for and defend Alice was evident and obvious. It made sense, too. And it also explained why Emmett usually kept his teasing of me—when Edward was around, of course—to a minimum.
And where was Emmett anyway?
I don’t know what happened next. One minute I was thinking about the everlasting devotion between vampires, the next I was wondering where Emmett had gone off to. It had been some time since he left and a part of me hoped, if he returned to the den, that he did it alone. I didn’t feel up to facing Rosalie, especially after everything she must have overheard Edward say when we first arrived.
I must have remembered Emmett’s play yawning when he left because, all of a sudden, I was yawning. A wave of tiredness washed over me and, if it hadn’t been a struggle to keep my eyes from closing, I might have had my suspicions. I never fall asleep this fast.
I tried to hide my yawn from Edward but I didn’t do a good enough job. Maybe he thought it was funny that, in the middle of one of the strangest days we’ve shared in awhile, I was falling asleep because I heard him chuckle. It sounded a bit strained but, no doubt about it, he was laughing as he asked, "Tired, Bella?"
"Not really," I lied before yawning again. He laughed again.
I could have killed him—well, if it were possible—for what he did then. Slowly so that I almost didn’t catch on to what he was doing, he started to rock himself back and forth. Which meant, since I was still sitting on his lap, that I was rocking back and forth. Humming my lullaby under his breath, calmly patting my tender hand, he was trying his best to lull me asleep.
I don’t know how long I slept for or what sort of dreams I had if any, but the next thing I knew was the cool touch of someone’s hand on my face.
Alice was slapping me lightly. "Wake up, Bella."
I hadn’t really known I was asleep until I opened my eyes and saw her standing over me. Being sleepy made me a little stupid sometimes and I frowned. "Alice? Where’s Edward?" I was stretched out on the couch alone, the afghan covering my legs. He must’ve let me sleep longer than I first thought.
"I’m right here."
He was standing behind the couch, pacing the den. His hands were balled into tight fists at his side. Even scowling, he was beautiful.
I rubbed my eyes once before pulling myself into a sitting position. As I pushed the afghan to the side, I quickly scanned the room around me. With a start, I noticed that our numbers had dwindled from four to three. Jasper was gone.
Allowing Alice to help me to my feet, I asked where he was.
Her answering smile was brief and, perhaps, ironic. "He’s out front, greeting our guest."
Oh, yeah… that’s right. The new vampire. Well, that explained why Edward looked like he was getting ready to pounce. I shook my head—I needed to get rid of that stupid, sluggish feeling. I can’t believe I forgot that they were expecting someone.
As soon as he saw I was standing, he was suddenly at my side. He wrapped his arm around my waist, automatically supporting me so that I didn’t trip over my own two feet and fall. Once he was satisfied that I was steady, he asked, "Do you want to go upstairs now?"
I really hope he didn’t expect me to spend the whole day waiting for this guy only to hide away now that he was here. I shook my head defiantly. "Where is he?"
"In the entryway with Carlisle, Esme and Jasper," Alice said. "Emmett’s getting Rose and I’m sticking with you and Edward."
Oh, goody. A guard.
"Okay, then. Let’s go," I said, trying to sound confident. It wasn’t that difficult; it was a bit ridiculous that Alice was protecting me, too, now. Besides, even if this vampire got really thirsty all of a sudden, I doubted he’d try anything with the Cullens there. It would be suicide.
Through his nervousness, I could tell Edward was torn between being amused and exasperated at my insistence that we greet his family’s ‘guest’. Indecision won out in the end; he didn’t seem happy about leaving the den with me in tow but he didn’t try to convince me to hide, either.
We walked out of the room like a procession, Alice in front of me and Edward behind. I felt like a prisoner.
I have to say, I always seemed to manage to underestimate the vampires’ abilities. They must have heard us approaching because, when we entered the front room, they were all waiting expectantly, watching the hallway.
As we entered, Carlisle was the first to speak. "Luca," he said warmly, addressing the stranger in the room, "I’d like you to meet more of my family. There’s Alice and Bella and Edward, my son."
I listened mutely as Carlisle made introductions. It warmed me to hear him refer to me as family and I was pretty impressed how he didn’t explain how me and Alice were part of the family. Instead, he referred to Edward as his son which, by default, marked us as his daughters. Whether I was human or not, I was under his protection.
Alice and Edward made their polite responses but, as soon as I made eye contact with this strange vampire, I found I could no longer speak. I was too busy gawking.
Edward’s supernatural beauty always caught my by surprise and, while this Luca definitely wasn’t as beautiful as Edward, I knew I’d always stare in amazement any time I saw him.
Like Jasper, Luca was tall and thin but you would never use the word lanky to describe him. He was too graceful to be called lanky. His skin was as pale and ethereal as the other Cullens but there was a hint of a darker skin tone at one point, almost like a fading suntan. He had thick, longish hair that curled into tiny tendrils at the end; it was of a blond color so fair that it was closer to white than yellow.
But his face… the sharp lines but soft features were absolutely beautiful. He was smiling enchantingly and, as he was wearing a loosely fit white shirt and faded tan pants, it was almost as if an angel had walked into the room.
An angel with wide, staring red eyes.
The aura of innocence was lost as soon as I saw the sickening crimson staining his eyes. Still, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him but that was okay—he’d been watching me intently ever since we walked into the room.
His blood red eyes shimmered ominously as he focused only on me. "My, my," he purred, obviously in unexpected enjoyment, "what sadists I’ve found. A human in their midst, fresh blood pumping in her veins and not one bite marring her creamy flesh."
And then, contrary to anything I ever would have expected him to do, he started to clap.
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