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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:


15. Blame

Rating 0/5   Word Count 4093   Review this Chapter

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Chapter Fourteen
BLAME

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"What do you mean, he wants Rosalie?" Emmett growled, bristling a bit as he clenched his hands at his side.

"What do you mean, he wants Bella, too?" Rosalie added, sneering.

I didn’t know if I was supposed to be offended by that or not. Most likely, but then again, since Rosalie seemed more surprised at hearing my name mentioned than learning that Luca was after her, it was probably just an immediate reaction on her part. Hey, if it wasn’t for the fact I was struggling to understand what Edward meant, too, I would have been marveling that he was even able to clump Rosalie and me together in any way, shape or form.

My first thought was that Luca had unknowingly goofed, that he’d let slip in his head his plan to go back on his word and try to, well, eat me basically. But if all he wanted me for was as a snack, then what did he want her for? And if his attraction to Rosalie was simply—and obviously—because of her appearance, then what did that have to do with me?

I could feel the weight of his hands bracing my shoulders as if he was keeping me in my seat, as if he didn’t have any intention of letting me stand. But, weirdly enough, I wasn’t worried yet, and I wasn’t all that nervous... at least, not yet. I was just really, really curious. What exactly had Edward heard to set him off like this? It was one thing for him to get up from the table and explain courteously that we had to go back to Charlie’s for some reason—but for him to insist so meaningfully that Luca leave, too?

My hunch was right on earlier when it pointed out that something strange was going on.

Edward didn’t respond to either Emmett or Rosalie’s demands for answers. His fingers kneading gently against the base of my neck, I could feel the emotions in his gesture. He was trying to work out what he heard and explain it in a way that made sense to the rest of us, and it took Carlisle calmly calling his name again for him to speak up.

"I said this before," Edward began, his velvety voice gravelly and deep within his explanation, "that listening to Luca’s mind was like trying to tune in to a far-off radio station. It’s fuzzy, with a few blanks and a small snippet of conversation here and there." His voice, and his fingers, went even faster as he continued, "I got the feeling that somehow he was doing it on purpose, that somehow he knew I could hear him, but it… it didn’t seem quite so important before."

"No," Carlisle agreed, tapping his chin thoughtfully, "it didn’t, did it?"

Edward’s frantic fingers stopped working away at my skin—though that might have been because, under the intensity of his pressure and his family’s watchful gaze, I’d started to slip down in my seat—and he let his cool palms settle peacefully back in place on my shoulders.

"I was careless, but I wasn’t entirely oblivious," he murmured, loud enough for me to hear. The others would have no trouble making his voice out. "I thought I might have caught him forgetting to keep his pretense up once, but he was quick. I did, however, get him the second time he faltered."

"When he mentioned Bella?"

Picking my head up, turning to look over at Edward, it was easy to see the gratitude he felt that Carlisle, at least, understood what he was trying to say. Everybody else—me included—was just as confused now as when Edward all but kicked Luca out himself.

"That’s exactly it, Carlisle, thank you. He was looking right at her and I could just sense it. I knew exactly what he was trying to keep hidden from me, from all of us, behind that smile of his and his friendly façade. He’d come all this way to Forks from Africa because he desired Rosalie’s company. But, in that moment, I could see that he had another idea. He decided he wants Bella as well."

I gulped. It didn’t help having him say that a second time.

"But, Edward," Esme broke in gently, "are you sure? He seemed so nice and friendly, and he was very respectful towards Bella."

"Yes, but don’t you see? That’s what he wanted us to think! And I…we fell for it," he said, bitterness finding its way into his tone.

Alice wrinkled her nose and squinted her eyes. "I don’t see him hurting her, Edward," she offered. It was almost funny, the amount of tact she conjured up in order to put it so nicely.

"He doesn’t want to eat her, Alice," Edward told her bluntly.

"Oh." She nodded. "Well, that does make more sense then."

I was finally able to find my voice. Rolling my eyes, trying to make light of Edward’s dour and worried attitude, I said, "Gee, Alice, thanks."

I was surprised by how reasonable I sounded. I even managed to bring a little sarcasm back. Hearing that Luca didn’t want to make me his next meal had calmed me down enough that any panic that threatened to rise never even had a chance. It was such a relief to see Edward back to his normal—and overprotective—self. As long as I wasn’t on a vampire’s menu, I could live with him being around as long as Edward stopped acting so strange. It was a fair trade-off, I figured.

Emmett took the pause that followed as an opportunity to try and remind Edward of his earlier question. "Now wait… can we back up here? I’d like to get back to the part when you said he was after Rose."

With a glorious shake of her head and a flippant wave of her perfectly manicured hand, Rosalie brushed Emmett’s worries aside. "Actually, I’d rather hear what she has to do with anything."

Her gaze landed on me, cold and calculating and maybe just a bit jealous. It wasn’t as hate-filled a glare as the ones she’d shot Luca all throughout the afternoon—but it was close.

Now there was the Rosalie Hale I’d come to know and love… well, tolerate.

Toleration was a good word to describe Edward’s relationship with his blonde sister, too. Blanching at her question, offended on my behalf, he inhaled sharply. I shut my eyes, preparing myself for another Edward/Rosalie argument that revolved entirely around my presence in his life. I was lucky that they’d been thankfully missing while she was in Africa with Emmett. I guess it was about time that she reminded us all how better off the Cullens would be if I was gone, and Edward got a chance to remind her that didn’t care for a word she said.

He surprised me, though. I expected him to turn on his sister but he didn’t—there were more important things on his mind still. When he spoke I could hear the restraint in his voice, the very shakiness to his tone; he was working very hard to keep himself in check.

"He wants Bella," he said, and just the way he said that so simply, so defeated, made me feel like my heart was being squeezed. There was untold agony as he murmured my name. Pausing long enough to lift his hand and let the cool edge of his finger stroke my cheek, he began again. "He wants Bella because he’s never seen a human so integrated into a vampire coven before. It’s unheard of to him that we should think of her with anything more than hunger on our minds, and the uniqueness of our situation caught his attention. And, of course," he added a touch wryly, "her scent certainly does her no favors."

All of the other Cullens kind of just nodded their heads in agreement. I wanted to disappear. It was one thing for Edward to comment on my scent; it was another for the rest of them to actually agree with him. This was just like the time when I first met his family and Alice told me how good I smelled.

I wonder if he would notice if I just crawled underneath the table…

At least Emmett had his priorities in order. As I tried to stop the blood from rushing to my face—Alice was watching me curiously, and so was Esme—I heard him say, "And what about Rose?"

He sounded angry and he sounded overly excited… but he didn’t sound as if he had any clue what was going on. Luca’s fixation on Rosalie, while painfully obvious even to me, had gone right over his head. That was weird, too, since Emmett seemed to have a good enough reason to go after Luca even before he arrived, but then he had been so friendly when Luca was actually there. Now that the other vampire was gone, Emmet was a just a bit more aggressive than before—aggressive and, like the rest of us, very confused.

Edward was the only one who really knew what was going on, and, when he was agitated, he wasn’t very good at spelling it out for everyone else. But at least he tried.

"This Luca, he specializes in the unique," he said carefully, finally answering Emmett’s question, "and I must admit that Rosalie is uniquely beautiful."

Rosalie huffed, but a quick glance showed that her frown had softened slightly. Fluffing her long blonde hair absently with her hand, she even looked a little pleased.

Emmett, meanwhile, had crossed his arms over his massive chest. "Well all know that my babe is drop dead gorgeous, Edward. What of it? What does that mean?"

"Luca wasn’t only interested in her appearance. He likes the unique, and her beauty was something he’d never seen before. But it wasn’t just that which caught his attention when you met him, Emmett. It was the fact that she didn’t fall prey to his charms, that she was utterly indifferent to his attempts to take her away that ignited his desire to make her his."

Turning to look pointedly at Rosalie before Emmett, who was already starting to sputter at this revelation, could get upset, Edward said, "But you knew that already." Cocking his head slightly to the side, a few lines etched in his brow as he tried to concentrate. He exhaled roughly. "You’re still hiding something from me, Rosalie."

"Get out of my head, Edward," she sneered, fire in her eyes. She was staring across the room at him, her expression murderous.

I didn’t blame her. I was very grateful sometimes that my mind was the only one Edward couldn’t hear. It must be awful not to have privacy even in your own head.

Edward didn’t see it that way just then. Unimpressed by her sudden fury, he didn’t even blink. Calmly, determinedly, he asked, "What are you hiding?"

Rosalie was still in her seat—she hadn’t gotten up when Luca left, or when the rest of her family came back to the dining room—and her hands were gripping the edge of the table. Her frown returning in full force, her eyes narrowed shrewdly on Edward’s daring expression, she didn’t answer him. Or, at least, not out loud. I could only imagine what sorts of angry thoughts she was sending his way to keep from being scolded by Carlisle again.

It was like a battle of wills, the two of them facing off. This was entirely between Rosalie and Edward, and the quiet in the dining room was suddenly deafening. I was the only one who was a little taken aback by their ferocity; the Cullens, even Emmett, seemed to be used to it already. Absently running his hand through his thick, curly hair, Emmett looked more worried about what Edward told him about Luca than the fact that Rosalie was consciously hiding something.

In the end, I think Edward was the winner. He didn’t remove his expectant gaze and, under its weight, Rosalie snarled under her breath, the angry sneer twisting her face as she bared her teeth in frustration at her brother. Shoving roughly against the table, her strength pushing it away far enough that she could stand up without moving the chair, she rose gracefully from her seat.

"Stay out of my head," she hissed warningly again, pointed one of her long, pale fingers at Edward. "My thoughts are not there to be read like the morning newspaper."

And, before Edward could offer some sort of retort, she flounced from the dining room. She was probably retreating back to her and Emmett’s room.

Emmett stayed behind for a few awkward seconds longer before shrugging his shoulders in a "what-can-you-do" type of gesture and quickly bounding off after his incensed wife.

With a small shake of his head and cluck of his tongue, Carlisle was the first one to break the silence that Rosalie’s dramatic departure had caused. "Oh, Edward..."

Sounding a little sheepish—if not frustrated, too—he sighed. "I know, Carlisle. But it’s right there. She’s trying too hard to keep me from understanding her tie to Luca that it makes me even more determined to learn what she’s hiding."

Esme smiled motherly over at her adopted son. "Rosalie will come around soon. We just have to give her some space."

Giving Rosalie space when she was undoubtedly lying to the family was the last thing that Edward wanted to do. But I also knew that he wouldn’t disobey his parents so openly. I was right, too. When he nodded begrudgingly, Carlisle reciprocated the gesture and Esme’s smile turn appreciative.

"Carlisle?"

Jasper’s softly spoken voice reminded me that he and Alice—who was being unusually quiet—were still in the dining room. I turned to look at him. Sometime since Luca left, Jasper had gotten up and moved so that he was standing right beside Alice. There was a curious look on his face, a hardened expression that looked just a touch haunted.

I think Carlisle saw it, too. "Yes, Jasper? What is it?" he asked, sounding very serious all of a sudden.

"If Edward is sure about this vampire, that he really came for Rosalie, then maybe he was right before. Are we really certain that he’s gone? It’s not very usual for one of our kind to give up so easily."

"Jasper’s right, Carlisle," Alice added. "How do we know? He could be outside right now. I can’t see anything, so I can’t say if he was telling the truth when he said he was leaving."

Edward’s body tensed, his hands clenching tightly at my skin. I don’t think he remembered how close the threat really was until Jasper and Alice pointed it out to him again. "We have to be sure," he murmured, speaking under his breath. I could hear something new in his voice: a hint of panic. Reaching over my shoulder, I placed my right hand securely on top of his.

"I’ll go and make the rounds," offered Jasper.

"And I’ll go with you," decided Carlisle. Turning to look at Edward, he said, "Jasper and I will check the surrounding area and make sure that Luca really has left. You," he continued, cutting in before Edward could object, "stay here with Bella. Rosalie can handle herself, and she’ll have Emmett if she needs him."

"All right," Edward said at last, agreeing with Carlisle. "Just… let me know if you find him."

"We will," Jasper said solemnly. He gave Alice a small, affectionate pat on her arm before following Carlisle out of the dining room.

Esme was still standing, and she watched Carlisle and Jasper leave, following them with her golden eyes. Once they were gone, she gave a small, light-hearted laugh and clasped her hands in front of her. Casting her gaze over me, Alice and Edward, she said optimistically, "Well, I’m sure things will work themselves out. Who knows? Maybe he just went away disappointed, hmm?"

"It is possible," Alice answered, getting out of her seat. We had been the only two sitting at the huge table and, now that she was standing, that left only me. And, if it wasn’t for the fact that Edward was still hovering over me, I would’ve liked to stand up to.

"See? Carlisle and Jasper will check the grounds and, when the come back, we can put this whole visit behind us," Esme said, sounding a lot more confident than I felt. "Though, I do suppose that I should go upstairs and see if Rosalie has calmed down some."

Edward snorted under his breath and Alice shot him a look. It was easy to see what Esme and Alice were doing, trying to make the situation something lighter than Edward thought it was, and she didn’t appreciate Edward’s continued pessimism. That, and the way it was his presumptions that made Rosalie run off in such a huff earlier.

"You should go," Alice told her. "I’ll stay with Edward and Bella."

Esme nodded. "I’ll come back down as soon as I can."

I waited until Esme had left before I decided to speak up myself. Something Carlisle had said had made me a little antsy, and Alice’s offer to babysit me alongside her brother had made me feel even worse. Carlisle had told Edward that we should stay here together… stay together in the Cullens’ home. But I couldn’t do that—it was getting late as it was, and I knew that Charlie would be expecting me home soon.

Clearing my throat, looking down on the tabletop instead of at Edward, I mumbled, "Maybe it’s time I should be getting home."

"I’m sorry, Bella, but I can’t let you leave."

His answer, while not entirely unexpected, made my heart rate pick up. He sounded so serious, so set in his decision that I wasn’t allowed to go, and that made me a little frightened. I knew that Luca was possibly a threat to me—but, if he wasn’t after my blood, then what did it matter if I went home? Edward could always come with me—he usually did—and he could protect me there. Besides, what would I tell Charlie if I stayed out all night?

Just the thought of my father’s expression and his upset at me not coming home made my stomach tighten into knots I hadn’t felt since Edward told me that a new vampire was coming into town. Right then, the prospect of an angry Charlie—Charlie who barely got angry as it was, but who would make an exception when Edward was involved—was more terrifying than an interested vampire.

I don’t think he expected such a bout of emotion coming from me. His hands were loose on my shoulder now and, before he could use his strength to keep me in my seat, I had jumped out of the chair. Wheeling on him, I cried, "But I have to! You know I can’t stay here much longer. Charlie will kill me if I stay here all night, Edward. Tuna casserole or no tuna casserole!"

His eyes were on my face, wide and searching. On the surface, his topaz-colored eyes seemed serene but, unless I was imagining it, there was a panicked look underlying it. My heart almost skipped a beat. I didn’t like it.

Finally, he nodded. Reaching behind him into his back pocket, he pulled out something that was slim, sleek and silver: his cell phone. Without tearing his gaze from my face, he tossed it to his side. "Alice?"

I turned my head to my right just in time to see her nod assuredly. Her fingers were already working the dials as she spun on her heel, lowering her head so that she could talk directly into the speaker.

I couldn’t hear what she said but I had a pretty good idea how she said it. Charlie was like putty in her hands; it was no surprise when Alice quickly hung up the phone and handed it back to Edward. "There," she said, quite pleased with herself, "Charlie said you can stay here as long as you like, Bella."

"What did you tell him?" I demanded. But, since my voice came out as more of a squeak, it wasn’t all that impressive—or demanding, even.

There was a mischievous sparkle in her eyes. "I just told him that, following Rose and Emmett’s homecoming, the family decided to take off for a spontaneous weekend of camping in the mountains. But, of course, I felt a little under the weather, and I couldn’t possibly ask my parents to cancel the trip. Perhaps it was possible if Bella… you offered so kindly, I must add… stayed the weekend with me until my family came back home."

"And he believed that?" I asked. Shaking my head, not knowing if I should be amused or annoyed by the way Alice had so expertly handled Charlie, I answered my own question. "Of course he did. Charlie loves you." Swallowing back a groan, a sudden frightening thought popping into my head, I said, "What if he comes by? What if he gets so concerned that he stops by himself?"

"He’s never been here before, Bella," Edward reminded me gently.

"No, but he is the chief of police! And my dad! He’s going to get worried, and I could just see him coming by to check up on us." This time I couldn’t even keep the groan back. I hated lying to Charlie—at least, lying to him about something like this—and I already felt guilty. "I could just see him bringing chicken noodle soup, too."

Alice smiled indulgently at me. Already moving towards the doorway, she tossed back, "I’m on it, Bella. I’ll go make sure that we have all of the cars are in the garage. He’ll never know we’re all here and, if he does stop by, we’ll just tell everyone else who’s still in the house to hide."

She paused there, her back to the open entrance. Unless I was imagining it, she punctuated the end of her statement with a pointed look in Edward’s direction. But, before I could get a better look myself, she gave us a small wave and flitted out the door.

I shook my head. I was probably imagining it. Knowing Alice, she was just glad to have an excuse to drive each one of the cars into the garage.

With Alice’s departure, that left me and Edward together alone in the dining room. He closed the small gap between us, standing right in front of me again. I wanted to hold onto my annoyance that he could make such big decisions for me—but that was pretty futile. Under the power of his adoring gaze, I was powerless.

His hand reached out, carefully taking mine in his. "Would you like to come upstairs with me? To my room?"

"Depends," I said, letting the pout fill my voice. "Are you really going to keep me here? Or are you going to let me go home?"

The look he gave me answered my question for me. I sighed. "I guess we’re going upstairs."

We didn’t meet any of his family members as he led me out of the dining room and, entering into the front room, hurriedly took the stairs. That was a relief, considering I didn’t feel up to facing any of them just then. Like before, like the last time the Cullens ran into another group of vampires, it all came down to Edward’s overreaching aims in making sure I was protected.

And I wasn’t even all that sure that I nodded as much protection this time…

By the time that we made it to his room, I had decided that I wasn’t going to be as docile as a lamb and do everything that Edward said without putting up some kind of fight first. The more I thought about his reactions this evening, the more I knew that there was something more than what he was telling me.

"Now that we’re alone, are you going to tell me now? What’s really going on, Edward?" I asked, trying to keep my voice as low as I could. I knew it didn’t do much good but I had to try. I knew Edward well enough by now to know that, like he had accused Rosalie of doing, he was keeping something from me. Something big.

I was right again.

Making sure the door was closed tightly behind us, he turned around and walked over to me. We stood together in the center of his room, facing off. I was stubborn, and he was secretive. I wasn’t too sure who would win out in the end but, when Edward lowered his gaze for just a moment, I felt confident.

"I guess I should… since I wasn’t completely honest before," he admitted at last.

"You lied to me?" That was the last thing I expected him to say.

"No," Edward said calmly, "I just conveniently neglected to mention precisely what I heard."