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L'Heure Bleue

Summary:
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.


Notes:


14. Intentions

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4529   Review this Chapter

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Chapter Thirteen
INTENTIONS

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Rosalie and Emmett made their entrance, pausing to linger in the doorway. All seven pairs of eyes had turned their way but, after their arrival had been acknowledged, only two of us continued to watch them: me and Luca. Luca because he was interested to see the two of them in their proper surroundings; me because… well, I wasn’t really sure.

It was kind of strange, almost as if I was unable to look away from them. And it wasn’t because of their appearance, either—as beautiful as Rosalie was, I’d gotten used to her already. Besides, I didn’t have a death wish; just because her glare was currently trained on Luca, it didn’t mean she wouldn’t turn on me next.

No, it was something else. Something different… something to do with Emmett.

Maybe I was making his earlier attitude out to be something that it wasn’t, or maybe I’d taken too long to blink or something because, while Rosalie’s expression remained defensive and annoyed, Emmett’s entire demeanor had changed in the few seconds when I’d stopped to wonder why I was still staring.

His smile seemed softer, not so threatening, and his golden eyes held a warmth that I often associated with Emmett—but I was prepared to swear that they didn’t look like that a few seconds ago. I was certain about that. Even now, as I couldn’t find it in me to look away, I saw his right eye give a small twitch and his big grin flicker before it widened even more.

He had changed the way he was standing, too. Emmett was hugely built and very strong. Add his size to his outgoing personality and it was very difficult for him not to fill up an entire room, let alone a doorway. But not now. It was like he had shrunk somehow and was hiding just behind his much smaller wife. Instead of leaning forward his weight was shifted back. He’d let go of Rosalie’s waist, grasping her hand in his oversized one.

"Come, Rose," he said, his smile growing again until the sharp edges of his gleaming white teeth were visible. Visible and vaguely threatening. Maybe I was wrong, after all. "Let’s go say hello to our old friend."

Or maybe not. Friend? I wasn’t sure if it was because of what he said or how he said it, but he didn’t sound remotely threatening to me. And this was Emmett Cullen. If he wanted to, he could turn ‘good morning’ into a challenge and a dare.

Rosalie didn’t say anything in response to him but she didn’t have to. The disgusted sneer she wore as she allowed Emmett to pull her over to the seat beside Esme told everyone at the dinner table that she would rather give me a hug and call me ‘sister’ than have anything to do with Luca.

Not that you could tell from Luca’s expression. I turned my head slightly to my right as the two of them passed, glancing at the new vampire as Emmett pushed Rosalie’s seat in and she gave an undignified snort. What I saw surprised me entirely; I was lucky I didn’t actually gasp out loud. His attention absolutely riveted on Rosalie’s gorgeous profile, Luca’s eerie red eyes were suddenly bright and alive. In response to her glare and obvious dislike, he was positively glowing. And, even more than before, he looked just like an angel.

One perfectly arched eyebrow raised in amusement as Luca drummed the tips of his fingers carefully against the tabletop. He had to be doing it carefully—there was no mark or indentation left when he lifted them back up.

"That’s an interesting dress you have on tonight, Rosalie," he remarked, his clear voice sending chills down my spine though he wasn’t talking to me. "So very different from what you wore in the heat of Africa." He paused there and, despite being surrounded by her entire family, he licked his lips in the most suggestive of manners. It was creepy beyond words. "You must have quite the… collection."

My first instinct was to either look at Emmett and see what he thought of Luca’s blatant flirting or get a peek at Rosalie’s reaction. But I didn’t. Not right away. The tension I’d suspected didn’t appear—not from them, at least. The one who had the most obvious response was sitting to my left; so obvious that I was able to pick up on it without him having to say a word.

Edward’s hands had been settled casually on the arms of his dinner chair but now he was gripping them so tightly that his tendons were stretched and I was pretty sure that there would be fingerprint-sized grooves along the armrest when he got back up. He hadn’t opened his mouth—just the opposite, actually, as his mouth was drawn in a thin line—but his nostrils had flared and his eyes, hard and flat as they were all of a sudden, were narrowed and focused across the length of the table.

There was no missing who he was staring at.

It was happening again too, that something strange I was having trouble placing my finger on. And this time it was happening to him.

It must’ve been because of something that only he had heard because Edward was the only one who reacted at all. Every part of him exuded danger, sending us all a silent warning though he hadn’t even moved yet. He was angered and, if Edward had lost any control—any control at all—even for a moment, I had no doubts that he felt himself warranted.

Then again, he had to have overreacted because, like Emmett, he was suddenly calm. He blinked and, with me watching him intently, he gave his head a small shake as if he was trying to clear it. The death grip he had on the chair lessened, leaving perfect imprints of small, round fingertips on the topside where he’d held it. And that wasn’t the only thing that was… odd.

I had looked at, stared at and gazed into Edward’s eyes so many times since we met that I knew every detail. But, when I looked at him just then, his eyes were glassy—but only until he blinked again, finally turning away from Luca. And then he was normal, more calm and relaxed than he’d been in days. When he saw me watching him in open confusion he tilted his head slightly and looked back like I was the one who was acting so strange.

Lifting his eyebrow, he silently asked me what was wrong. I just shook my head. If I couldn’t even explain to myself how weird everyone seemed to be acting, I knew I would worry him if I tried to tell him. I just had to grit my teeth, pretend that I wasn’t the obvious human in the room of vampires and ride it out until Luca had left.

I couldn’t wait until things got back to normal. I was even beginning to look forward to seeing Mike Newton at work again on Tuesday!

Well, maybe it hadn’t gotten that bad yet, but it was sure unnerving pretending like it wasn’t entirely weird to be sitting at a dinner table with a vampire who liked feeding on humans.

And, if Emmett and Edward’s uncharacteristic behavior didn’t seem odd enough, then the Cullens’ shift in attitude towards their visitor definitely made me antsy. I didn’t have Jasper’s gift for sensing and manipulating emotions but I did have some pretty strong intuition. I’d spent a good part of the day with all of them with the exception of Rosalie and it hadn’t been hard to see that, for some reason or another, this particular visit had them rattled.

But not now.

Some time following Emmett and Rosalie’s arrival to the dining room everyone seemed to settle down. It wasn’t a tense meeting anymore with a new threat who was barely known, let alone understood; it was, instead, a pleasant get together, a grouping of old friends.

Old friend, like Emmett had called him, but they’d only just met in Africa. As for the rest of Edward’s family, none of them even heard of him before yesterday!

The Cullens were good actors—to masquerade as a human family for so long and not get caught they had to be—but I didn’t think anyone could be that good, faking a pleasantness that hadn’t even existed when we were together in the front room of the house.

It was there, like an itch I couldn’t scratch, but something just… it just wasn’t right. I noticed it and I thought Edward might have too, but he just smiled indulgently at me and reached for my hand. I gave it to him, of course, but I made sure not to glance at the newly mangled armrest as I did.

Instead, I let my warm hand mold against his chilly one, holding tight to him. He returned the pressure, much lighter than he had earlier when I was afraid he might pop my hand off of my wrist, and I grinned to myself. Hanging around Edward seemed to be rubbing off on me, too—I was acting like a worrywart.

So what if the rest of the family was smiling warmly down the table and acting really friendly towards Luca? The Cullens were good people, friendly and accepting as I knew very well. It was nice to see Jasper at peace rather than tensed, Alice content instead of constantly checking for the future. Why shouldn’t they be? Just because Luca made me nervous, that didn’t give the others any reason to be as antsy as I was. Well, Edward would be susceptible to being as nervous as me, I couldn’t change that, but maybe it was good that Luca was being received so gladly.

Everyone was acting differently now, more open, less on edge—but not Rosalie. Rosalie was Rosalie and she wasn’t changing for anybody.

I’d been so preoccupied with curiosity and worry over Edward’s brief but weird mood swing that I’d forgotten all about Luca’s comment about her dress. I’d missed her immediate reaction and what she had retorted with, but she had to have said something because I turned my attention back to them just in time to see the result of her words.

She was sitting tall in her seat, her arms crossed over her chest in a standoffish manner. Her lips had curled back a bit, smiling like the cat that ate the canary. She was obviously very pleased with herself and I could imagine what it was that she’d said.

Emmett was sitting across from her and it was funny to see that his eyes had gone a little wide at whatever it was she had tossed back at Luca. He couldn’t keep his chuckle back as he said in a scolding manner, "Babe!"

Luca lifted his right hand, a curious expression on his face. Unless I was imagining it, he actually looked impressed. "That’s all right, Emmett. I’m certain I deserved that."

"Damn right you did."

"Rosalie…"

For me, it was also a little strange to see Carlisle acting as a parental figure. He didn’t normally have to take that tone with his children and when he did, it made me feel awkward. I knew all of the Cullens—Edward especially—saw Carlisle as their father but, in appearance at least, he was so young. The only way you could even tell that he was more than capable of raising and caring for a vampire brood was the air of wisdom and compassion that surrounded him after surviving for more than three hundred years.

Rosalie actually had the nerve to look sheepish under the weight of Carlisle’s warning. But the words weren’t so heavy that she felt the need to apologize to Luca. She just stuck her nose up in the air and turned her head so that she was looking anywhere but at the vampire sitting two seats away from her.

Carlisle sighed. "I’d like to see you treat our guest a little better than that, Rosalie."

"Honestly, Carlisle, it’s fine. I see that Rosalie hasn’t changed in the least since we met. As stubborn and… mmm… tenacious as ever. You must forgive her and blame me. I should’ve known better than to bring up her… love of interesting clothing."

"I don’t need you to martyr yourself over me," snapped Rosalie. "Save your pity and, for your damn sake, leave my wardrobe out of it!"

"Fair enough," Luca replied, holding up his hands peacefully. "As you wish."

I couldn’t help but think there was a touch of mockery in the gesture—from Rosalie’s huff, she heard it too—but everyone else either smiled or nodded their heads. That’s just Rosalie, their amusement seemed to say, as hard-headed as they come.

I actually felt a little bad for her. Luca clearly made her uncomfortable and, to make matters worse, her very family was letting him turn her into the butt of his jokes. I didn’t blame her at all for looking at him as if she wanted to rip his head off of his shoulders.

He didn’t seem to read the threat written blatantly in her golden eyes. It was his turn to be pleased with himself as he turned his attention to Emmett and asked him what he’d been up to since leaving Africa.

"Because," he added smoothly, making a steeple with his long, thin fingers, "it was such a shame to return to that small village after my hunt and discover you’d already left."

I don’t know how exactly I expected Emmett to answer Luca’s question but I didn’t think he would open up and tell him all about their journey from Africa back to the States. I could see now why Edward was so angry to hear that Emmett had been boasting—he obviously did a very good job of it—but this was a little much. He didn’t say why precisely he and Rosalie had decided to leave but that was the only thing he didn’t mention.

My mouth was just about dropped open in surprise. Emmett wasn’t shutting up—and nobody was stopping him! Not even Rosalie, who looked like she wanted to but knew she’d never get a word in edgewise, or Edward even. A quick glance at him showed he was even wearing that rapt, attentive face he wore when he was listening intently, drinking in every word that was being said.

I listened in amazement as the topic of conversation turned from Emmett’s journey from Africa to the far off places they’d visited and seen. At that point, as the discussion widened to include others beside Emmett and Luca, everyone else seemed to have something to add.

Everyone, that is, but me, Edward and, unsurprisingly, Rosalie.

I had no reason to join in. Even if I could have focused enough to say anything, I couldn’t compete with the stories that the others were telling. I lived in Phoenix for most of my life and, with the exception of going to California with Charlie for a couple of weeks these past few summers, I’ve never really gone anywhere else. Besides, it was much more fascinating to listen to some of the places that Alice had gone to or that Esme and Carlisle had vacationed in the many decades that they’d been together.

Edward, like the practiced student I knew he was, just sat there like a sponge, absorbing every word that was being said. I didn’t expect anything else out of him; he wasn’t the sort to boast, and I know he didn’t really like being reminded of the past. Not, as he said, when we had the present and the future together.

But Rosalie… given her penchant to be snarky and snide when she wanted to be, I was a little surprised to see that she wasn’t taking full advantage to throw in a barb here or there depending on what Luca had to say on a given subject.

She was watching him as intently as Edward but there was something different about her expression. While Edward was watching him interestedly, Rosalie eyed him in both distrust and suspicion. She didn’t seem to be believing a word of what Luca said—like me, she seemed bothered by the way the rest of her family was taken in by him. Every now and then she shook her head before throwing a glance in another of her family member’s direction.

Part disgusted and part confused, Rosalie couldn’t understand their sudden turnabout either. I even saw her look at me once, and she didn’t even look at me all that darkly. In fact, unless I was imagining it, she almost looked like she was asking me to verify her suspicions.

That, I think, was the strangest part of this whole meeting. I never thought that I would find something that me and Rosalie would have in common, but an inherent distrust of Luca might just have been it.

I didn’t want to stare at her so obviously, just in case she remembered herself and started throwing hate-filled looks back my way. Following her suit, I took turns watching the slightly dazed, but overall interested faces of the Cullens. Edward was the most enraptured, but the rest of his family was listening and conversing with their guest just as eagerly.

Trying my best to listen just as intently in case I was missing something important, I heard as the topic of conversation went from exotic places and brilliant vacations to topics equally as entertaining yet entirely out of my scope. With Carlisle, Luca talked about the change in society over the past few centuries; with Jasper, he discussed war and the history of violence in places he’d lived; with Esme and Alice, they went over fashion and the role of women during their tenure as vampires.

It was fascinating and the only way I knew that time seemed to fly by was the change of position of the sun, gleaming in through the open window. I’d actually expected the afternoon to drag since I was essentially waiting for Alice’s prediction about Luca leaving shortly to come true, but it wasn’t that bad.

And then, so subtly that I almost missed it myself, Luca took it upon himself to change the subject again. With one quick question and an unnerving glance in my direction, Luca had started to talk about humans.

"I know from Emmett and Rosalie that this coven is a little… unconventional… in their eating habits and it’s something that I just don’t understand. You’re argument certainly has its valid points, but it’s so amazing to me that you actually chose," he said, addressing Carlisle, "to spare human lives, feasting on animal blood instead. Why?" He glanced over at me, the charming smile all too fake as he added, "Pardon me, my dear, but I’m just curious. I think you’re…mmm… quite lovely in your way, but you do smell delicious."

This was it. The nerves that had settled over me with Edward’s admission yesterday came to head at that precise moment. I knew I was dreading something, I knew there was some reason for me to be so nervous, but I never thought that Luca would be so… so overt with his attention.

As if his gaze burned, I dropped my eyes. I normally was much braver than this but there was something… that same something… that seemed to steal my personality away. It took all I had to keep breathing, but not so heavy that I drew attention to that fact.

It was very clear that, despite his pardon, he’d upset me; from the way that Edward hadn’t even moved an inch since him comment, I knew that Luca’s offhanded comment had struck a chord with him, too. Maybe realizing that he’d gone too far, he let out a small laugh, covering up the silence that had followed.

"Of course I respect your place in this coven," he added, and it made me even more frazzled that he was still talking to me, "and I assure you that you have nothing to fear from me. I am quite satiated at the moment."

If that was supposed to be a joke, it was a bad one. The sight of his blood red eyes—those same flat, red eyes from my dream earlier this afternoon—flashed before my consciousness and I felt my stomach drop. What happened when the red turned back to black? Would his promise hold then?

I didn’t want to know.

"Yes, well—"

Luca stopped mid-false-apology, his eyes widening in surprise as he glanced down the table. Everybody else followed him, including me when I heard the rustle of the chair dragging, just in time to notice that Edward had stood up from his seat. He had moved quickly, silently; like a cat, his gait was gentle but swift as he stood tall at the edge of the table.

That fierce expression that Edward had worn for a short while before was back in place. There was a fine line chiseled into his clear forehead. He was frowning.

"Edward?"

Esme’s voice was light and happy but there was no hiding the confusion she obviously felt. It made sense that he would be upset—I knew I was upset—but it was a little surprising that it took him so long to respond to Luca’s comment. Why was he just standing up now? A hint of motherly affection lacing her tone, Esme was able to question her adopted son without saying the words.

Edward didn’t relax his looming pose; he actually leaned forward, taking a step towards his right so that he was closer to my seat. "It’s getting late," he announced, staring unblinkingly at Luca. "I promised Bella’s father that I would keep her out all night."

I opened my mouth to contradict his statement—remembering the note I left for Charlie, I didn’t think he expected me home just yet—but something about the set of his jaw kept me quiet. In fact, I felt myself sinking back against the hard, wooden seat of my chair. Something wasn’t right.

He was speaking through gritted teeth as he pointedly addressed Luca. "It’s getting late, wouldn’t you agree?"

"It’s barely evening, Edward," argued Alice. "I don’t think—"

"Alice." Jasper reached out, placing his hand on Alice’s sleeve. No matter how strange things had gotten since Luca’s arrival, it was obvious that Jasper was still able to pick up on the drastic shift in his brother’s mood. He might not understand Edward’s newfound hostility any more than I did, but at least he was able to stop Alice from making it so apparent to the rest of us.

Alice took the hint immediately. Smiling an impish little smile, she stopped her train of thought immediately.

"Actually," Luca said, following Edward’s lead and rising up from the table, "I seemed to have lost track of the time. I’d only meant to stop and check in on my new friends before continuing on my journey." Like Emmett’s smile earlier this afternoon, Luca grinned wide enough that his razor-sharp incisors were visible. He licked the edge of his canine tooth; it almost seemed to me like a nervous gesture. "Perhaps I should be going…"

For the first time that afternoon, Rosalie’s eyes brightened. "Oh, leaving so soon?"

"Rosalie..."

Ignoring Carlisle’s warning, Rosalie waved her hand flippantly. "It was so nice to see you again, Luca. Do make sure you visit us again next time you just happen to decide to cross the continents to visit Washington."

"I’ll make sure that I do." Pushing his seat in, Luca took one step before pausing, his gaze still fastened on Rosalie. "I was wondering… in Africa, when I asked—"

"No."

Emmett shifted slightly in his seat, his grin wavering as he looked from Luca to Rosalie and back. He didn’t say anything but I had a funny feeling that he wanted to.

"You haven’t changed your mind?"

"Do I look like I have?" she sneered.

He bowed his head slightly, silently ceding another point to her. "No, I don’t think you have." Then, lifting his head back up, he turned to Carlisle. "If you’d be so kind to show me out…"

Carlisle stood up from his seat, followed by Emmett at last and Esme. "Of course, Luca. It’s right this way."

As the three of them—leaving the other four Cullens behind in the dining room with me—led Luca out of the room, I noticed that Edward had moved. Instead of standing right in front of his seat, he’d moved so that he was standing right behind mine. Even if I had the strength to climb up and out of my chair I wouldn’t be able to.

I heard Luca asking conversationally about the lengths of the Cullens’ range, the area they considered their’s, as they left through the open doorway. I think I only heard it because, in the few moments that followed their departure, no one else said anything. I don’t know about the others, but I didn’t have anything I wanted to say.

It stayed quiet, the only sound my frantically beating heart, until Emmett, Esme and Carlisle returned back to the dining room a couple of minutes later. It was then, when the entire family had gathered together again, that Edward opened his mouth.

"Is he gone?"

Emmett looked at Edward as if he was crazy. "He just left."

Edward ignored him. Turning to Alice, he asked again, "Is he gone?"

Jasper scowled and I was reminded of their discussion earlier in the den. It really bothered him, I realized, when someone—even if it was one of his brothers—took advantage of Alice and her gift. It wasn’t something that seemed to worry her, and it took Edward’s constant nagging this afternoon to even entice Jasper to comment on it, but I had the feeling that he thought it was too soon for Edward to start up again.

Alice shrugged her shoulders, not quite sure what Edward was asking of her. "I guess, Edward. I mean, he’s leaving but that’s all I’m getting right now." She frowned at him, showing her displeasure at him. "He did just walk out the door, right?"

Huffing, Edward was acting uncharacteristically rude as he refused to even offer any gratitude to Alice. He was hovering over me, suddenly anxious, and I could hear the rough intake and outtake of rapid, unnecessary breath over my head.

"Edward," Esme said, slightly scolding, "what has came over you? He was our guest."

"Was he really?"

Carlisle placed his hand calmingly on his wife’s shoulder. He gave his head a small shake, blinking once or twice before looking at Edward. A curious expression flashed across his face followed by a knowing frown. It was as if he was suddenly seeing clearly; his eyes were wide and he looked disappointed. Disappointed but also determined.

He was very quick-witted and extremely smart. Three centuries of lifetime experience, countless educations and an exaggerated compassion that led him to know and understand people—and vampires—better than anyone else, Carlisle was the first one to realize what could possibly be bothering Edward.

Assuming his role as head of the family, Carlisle made it his point to understand exactly what was going on. "Edward, what did you hear?"

The simple question had the power to deflate even Edward. He exhaled, his proud stance crumbling under the weight of the revelation. "He wasn’t just here for a quick visit, Carlisle. He… he wants Rosalie," he said, before placing his hands protectively on my shoulders, "and now he wants Bella, too."