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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--Crossing my arms over my chest, I waited for him to continue. When he didn’t, I prompted him with a nod of my head. "Which was…"
Edward exhaled, and I could see that it was against his better judgment to tell me the truth. In some weird, backwards way, he only lied to me because he thought his lying would keep me safe, but it was about time he got over his hero complex already. I’d rather be worried myself than aggravated that he was consciously fibbing. I knew he was an expert liar—he didn’t have to practice his craft on me.
"Luca goes by another name, Bella," he said, his voice both strained and apologetic. "He’s the Collector. He collects interesting things."
"Why does that bother you so much?" I asked. He’d said as much downstairs when he said that Luca liked unique things. It was a little strange to hear that he actually had a nickname like that, but I couldn’t see how that would make Edward anymore upset than he already was.
"Because he thinks you’re interesting."
I shook my head. I think I was missing something important. As far as I was concerned, I was as interesting as white toast—without the butter, even. "And why would he think that?"
"Let me explain it this way. Like me, Luca seems to have a very unique power. From what I can tell, he has the ability to alter thoughts when in close proximity. No," he corrected himself before I could ask him another question, "that’s not exactly right. He can’t plant ideas that aren’t already there, but he can keep people from thinking certain things. Just like how everyone’s suspicions melted away before him. Met with his gaze, Emmett forgot the way Luca tried to claim Rosalie while they were on safari… even I managed to let down my guard for too long where you were concerned."
Cutting in quickly, trying to move the conversation along before Edward started to blame himself anymore for something he couldn’t possibly control, I said, "I don’t get it. I knew you were all acting pretty weird but—"
"See, Bella?" Edward interrupted, nodding in approval of his own theory and my understanding. "You noticed it because you weren’t affected by his ability. He couldn’t get to your thoughts and that intrigued him. That’s the reason he wants to add you to his collection. Because you seem stronger than him."
Just the idea that I could be stronger than a vampire made me want to laugh a little inside. I didn’t think Edward, in all his seriousness, would appreciate my humor, so I kept that thought to myself. Still, I couldn’t swallow back the smallest of smiles. This was all too familiar; too used to my thoughts being different from everyone else’s, I didn’t even stop to wonder how much of a freak I was now.
"You know, he reminds me of another vampire I know who was drawn to me just because he couldn’t get inside my head," I teased.
"This isn’t funny. I’m serious, Bella," Edward said, almost scolding me. I don’t think he liked my comparison of him with this new vampire. "Luca, he could be a very formidable threat. Not as dangerous as the tracker since he wants to keep you alive, but the fact that he wants you at all…"
The mention of James just about wiped the smile off of my face. In an instant, I was as serious as he was. I thought I understood now why he was so worried. Whether his intent was to kill me or not, Luca was another threat to my happy-ever-after with Edward. Although I found the whole idea a little amusing, it was only striking me now how bad this could possibly get.
Luca, from the way he followed Rosalie all the way from Africa to Forks, didn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word ‘no’…
I nodded somberly. "Does your family know yet?" I asked. I couldn’t see how they could, but I wouldn’t put anything past the Cullens. After living together for so long, the seven of them knew each other so well that it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that they could communicate silently.
Of course, Edward’s ability to read minds did go a long way in helping with that.
Sighing, taking his eyes off my face for the first time since we went up to his room, Edward glanced out of his window, staring intently out into the darkness. No doubt he was looking for a sign of Carlisle or Jasper—or Luca. If he was even still out there…
"They suspect it," he admitted at last, looking back at me. There was worry written in his golden eyes and I felt awful for him. I just couldn’t find it in me to really get so worked up over this. I wasn’t entirely convinced by Edward’s concerns; Luca wasn’t anywhere near as big a threat as James had been. And, if I could survive Phoenix, I could survive anything—as long as Edward was with me.
"When are you going to tell them?"
"Actually, I was going to explain the truth to them as soon as you fell asleep," he answered promptly. His eyes flickered away from my face again, landing on the black couch on the far side of his room.
It took me a second to understand what he was implying but, when I finally figured out what he was trying to say, I shook my head and held my hands out earnestly. "Uh-uh. I’m not sleeping here, Edward."
"Why not? I sleep at your house all the time."
"You don’t sleep," I reminded him. "And Charlie would kill me if he found out I slept here. It’s not like you sitting up with me and leaving before he knows about it. This is his daughter staying over at her boyfriend’s house. His only daughter."
For the first time since Luca left I saw my favorite crooked smile tug gently at his lips. I could only imagine what thoughts were running through his head then. "But Charlie said you could stay. What will he say if you show up back home so soon?"
I opened my mouth to argue before remembering Alice’s phone call to Charlie. I shut my mouth. He was right. Charlie would know something was up for sure if I showed up home after Alice had asked him to let me stay. And, as much as he loved Alice, he was still very leery of Edward after last spring break. He would only be too glad to find any excuse to get me to stay at home all the time.
"Stay for me?" Edward asked when I didn’t say anything. His eyes were suddenly smoldering as he look down through his eyelashes at me in a perfectly pathetic display of manipulation.
Oh, he was good.
"Fine," I said gruffly, making myself sound as if I was only staying over in his bedroom because there was nothing else I could do. On any other given day I would’ve killed to spend the night with him with Charlie’s permission, but not when I was basically only staying because he was holding me hostage.
It’s not like I really thought that Luca would care enough to trace my scent all the way back to Charlie’s and run off with me in my sleep. His first target was, undoubtedly, Rosalie. If anything, I thought—if it wasn’t for the fact that there were six other vampires who lived here, including two who could be very jealous—that staying at the Cullens was more an advertisement for my whereabouts than going home was.
To show his pleasure at my unwilling agreement, Edward leaned down and pressed his lips gently to my forehead. With him that close it was impossible for me to remember why exactly going back to Charlie’s was a better idea than staying over. I sighed, aware that I was giving in to him.
He was smiling again as he pulled away from me. But there was a hint of regret as he gestured at the large couch with his hand. "I’m sorry there isn’t a bed, Bella. Next time I’ll be more prepared, I promise."
I didn’t know if I was happy or sad that there would be a next time. As long as it didn’t involve a vampire coming after me, I would definitely stay with Edward again. Forever, if I could.
But I wasn’t entirely prepared to tell him that. He knew how much I loved him, how much I wanted to be with him forever, but it was a little annoying to be stuck in his house with none of my own clothes, no toothbrush and no deodorant. I wasn’t sure how long my good scent would last without my Secret.
"That’s okay. But, if there isn’t enough room for us both to lay there," I said, mock-angrily, pretending like I hadn’t spent most of yesterday afternoon lying with him on that same black couch, "then I get to sleep there. You can stay on the floor."
He nodded solemnly, and I felt an overwhelming rush of guilt at the quick way he had agreed. Whether I was kidding or not, I knew that he would do it, too.
I shook my head, took a tentative step forward to let him know I was approaching, and then basically flung myself in his arms. There was no way at all I could hold onto my anger. I just wanted to hold onto him.
We stood like that, his arms wrapped tightly around me like a vice, for so long that I lost track of the time. I knew it was late, but I didn’t want to ever move. I had to, though, when Edward started to get a little antsy himself. I could feel his cool fingers through my t-shirt, running lightly up and down my back. Sighing my unwillingness to let him go, I pulled away from him enough to get a good look at his face.
His eyes were still staring straight, searching the darkness outside. His jaw was tense, his lips drawn into a thin line. It was easy to see how hard it was for him to hold back when he could be out there, making sure himself that Luca wasn’t lingering around the house.
I had to let him go. It was selfish, keeping him here when he obviously he wanted to act as my protector.
Shimmying out of his grasp, I moved away from him. "You can go, Edward. I’ll, um, I’ll just go lie down." Faking a yawn, I covered my mouth and rubbed my eyes. "I’m feeling pretty tired."
I was a horrible actress and a terrible liar. Between the guilt I felt at deceiving Charlie, and a growing worry over Luca making Edward so worried, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be sleeping for awhile yet. But Edward needed to go and he wouldn’t until he was certain that I would be all right without him for the moment.
There was a knowing look in his eyes. Torn between wanting to believe my lie and knowing darn well that I was lying, he said slowly, "I should check in with Carlisle and Jasper."
"And I really should find something for you to eat, Bella. You haven’t had anything since breakfast," he added, his tone even more preoccupied than before. He looked almost panicked that he’d forgotten that I had to eat a lot more frequently than him and his family.
But, honestly, food was the last thing on my mind. Just the thought of something to eat right then made me want to hurl. Nerves and anticipation had a way of stealing a girl’s appetite away. Speaking sternly, I told him, "I’m not hungry. And I… I’m really tired. Go, Edward. You can wake me up when you come back, okay?"
Moving faster than I could see, Edward had his arms around me again. He gave me a quick squeeze and another gentle kiss that left me nearly breathless—and vaguely glad that he’d chosen to believe my lies. It was almost worth it to see him react like this. "I love you, Bella."
I swallowed, trying to catch my breath, before immediately telling him, "I love you, too."
He gave me one more squeeze then, as quick as a flash, he’d lifted me up in his arms as easily as if I were a ragdoll. I barely had enough time to recognize the jolt and the minor fear at being handled so assuredly and lifted so high before he’d settled me carefully against the edge of his couch. I don’t know where exactly he produced a soft afghan from but there it was, spread across my body before I could blink. Tucking me in expertly, he let his hand fall possessively against the side of my cheek.
"I’ll be right back," he promised. "Stay where you are." And then he was gone.
I didn’t even move.
My thoughts were such a frantic whirl, running around my head at an even quicker pace than Edward’s when he had run around the room. From the moment I first realized something was wrong with him, to the admission that another vampire was visiting the Cullen’s range, to the revelation that he was a strange collector who wanted to make Rosalie—and now me—his…
Yeah. Like that was going to happen. If Emmett didn’t tear him to shreds now for desiring his beautiful wife, then Rosalie would get her chance to have it out with Luca for his nerve. With those two involved, I don’t think Edward would even have the chance to protect me. Really, as long as I was with him, I was safe.
Still, I couldn’t help but remember that, when I woke up yesterday, the only thing on my mind was getting through one last shift at Newton’s Outfitters before I was free for another rain-soaked Forks summer weekend.
This morning, I had to worry about Edward’s strange shift in mood, Emmett and Rosalie’s sudden and unexpected return from Africa, and why the heck I was sleeping in my bed instead of on Charlie’s old couch.
I didn’t even want to know what tomorrow would bring.
I never thought that I would be able to fall asleep with my head spinning like that—but I did.
Edward was gone longer than I expected him to be, and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. It made me antsy to have him away. I kept thinking that he hadn’t returned from checking in with Carlisle and Jasper because he had found Luca, or because he was still out there, looking. Guilt was creeping in even more as I was left to my own thoughts, my common sense retreating he longer I laid on my back, staring up at the ceiling. I felt guilty that he was willing to go up against another of his kind just for me. The rest of the Cullens, too… it was just like last time. I was the weak human; I was the one who was reliant on their protection.
Did it make me a bad person that I was silently relieved that I wasn’t the only target? That, because Luca had his eye on Rosalie first, the threat he presented wasn’t focused on just me?
Maybe that was why I fell asleep. It was just easier to breathe in the lingering scent that clung to Edward’s couch as my worries faded. His smell wrapped my senses, lulling me into a false sense of security. Holding his afghan tightly against my chest, leaving enough space for him to join me on the couch, I let the darkness wash over me.
I didn’t sleep easy, though.
Like this afternoon, when Edward sneakily rocked me to sleep, a big pair of wide, staring red eyes followed me into my dreams. But there were only eyes at first, blood-red eyes that shone ominously out from the center of the darkness. I was there, frantically pumping me arms as legs as I moved; since it was dream, I wasn’t moving very fast, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Suddenly, there was a shock of golden hair and a slim silhouette running ahead of me, and that same pair of hungry eyes stalking us from behind.
I tried to call out to the unknown person in front of me, but the words caught in my throat. I tried to yell out loud for Edward, but I couldn’t make a sound.
But he was there anyway.
Edward, with his beautiful face and his warm golden eyes… he was standing off to the side, a shining beacon of light that sent the red-eyed demon scampering even deeper into the darkness. I felt my heart start to slow, the panic the dangerous dream-stalker caused start to subside.
I stopped running, slowing my pace to a contented jog as I turned towards him. He opened his arms, beckoning me to return to my place in his embrace.
Just as I reached him, just as I was about to fling myself back into his arm, he vanished.
Edward disappeared, and I felt my breath hitch. A curious sound, a flash of red appearing where Edward had just been standing, and I let out a small sob… it was a trap. I was trapped.
I don’t know if I sobbed in my sleep, or if I woke up suddenly to escape those haunting, terrifying eyes, but one moment I was convinced I was a goner, and the next I was awake and aware that I wasn’t alone anymore. Blinking a few times, I was all too relieved to find that I was looking into the familiar golden eyes I adored.
Seeing that I was awake, Edward shifted against the couch carefully so that I could curl up closer to him. His hand caressing the top of my hair, he murmured my name soothingly under his breath.
The calming gesture worked like a charm. Yawning, I fell asleep again, feeling perfectly safe now that I knew that he was with me. Exchanging his murmurs for a soft humming of my lullaby as I slipped back into a deep sleep.
I didn’t have any other dreams—or nightmares—that night.
I woke up with a jolt. Disoriented, thrust back into my strange dream as I woke up again, I only realized that I wasn’t in my bed at home like I should’ve been when I nearly rolled off the edge of the couch. Catching myself just in time to prevent a bruise or two, my heart beating a mile a minute as the memories came back, I remembered exactly where I was—and why I was there.
My eyes closed again, my heart rate slowing to a normal beat, and I groaned.
This was not how I imagined spending my first night in Edward’s bed. For one thing, as wide and as comfortable as his black couch was, it wasn’t a bed. For another, when I finally accepted the fact that I was awake and not in another weird dream, I was alone.
The unexpected warmth alerted me to his absence first. The thin afghan that Edward gave me last night was gone; I was wrapped in a thick blanket, as snug as if I was tight within a cocoon, and it kept me toasty and warm. There was no chill sneaking in through the quilt, and nothing but softness underneath my back. Edward’s cold, hard body was eerily missing, but I would’ve given up the comfort in an instant if it meant that he was still beside me.
I wasn’t frightened that he was missing, just selfish again. Now that it was morning, and I distinctly remembered waking up to Edward’s humming in the middle of the night, I knew that things were all right. If something had happened—if Jasper or Carlisle had found Luca—I’m sure he would’ve woken me up. Only allowing myself to think positively, I couldn’t really say that I was all that preoccupied with the fact that I didn’t really know what was going on with Luca.
Regardless, I was safe in Edward’s home, surrounded by one of the strongest vampire covens in the world, and Charlie had given me express permission to stay here (even if it was because he thought Edward was long gone). There was nothing to worry about just yet and, while I didn’t quite know where he was, I knew that Edward would have a good reason for why he was gone.
Me, I was perfectly content to remain right where I was until he returned. Letting out another groan—this time a satisfied one—I stretched out of my swaddling, rolled over the other way and snuggled closer into the folds of the couch. But my hands tensed before I started to relax again and I was just about to bring my arms back into the mass of blanket when I felt something stiff and straight brush my wrist.
That made me curious and I immediately opened my eyes. Wiggling just a bit so that I could reach… whatever it was, I stretched my right hand out behind me and grabbed at it, bringing my hand back in front so I could see it.
My heart very nearly skipped a beat when I realized that he had left a note on my pillow. Maybe he’d told me just where he’d run off to this morning. Eagerly, and a bit clumsily since I was still partly asleep, I opened the folded note. There were two words written in Edward’s neat and elegant handwriting:
Eat up? What did that mean?
And that’s when I smelled it. Between focusing on the amazing way Edward smelled and being so sluggish and stupid from waking up that disoriented, I hadn’t noticed the delicious scent of fresh cooked eggs (among other things) wafting around his room. My mouth started to water and I could feel my stomach grumbling through the quilt.
I guess my appetite decided to return full force this morning.
Pushing the blanket roughly away, I rubbed my eyes as I sat up. Feeling more awake now than when I almost fell off of the couch, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I don’t know when he did it, how he did it, or where he’d gotten it all from, but Edward had left a wooden try table off to the side. Like the stereotypical display of a breakfast in bed, he placed a vase with a single flower on one corner. It was about to fall off itself; the table was so crammed with food that there wasn’t much room left for the decoration.
The eggs I smelled were in the center, a beautiful omelet that looked like cheese was a main ingredient. Diced potatoes, golden brown with peppers and onions were on another plate, a small bowl of ketchup perched beside it. He also had a larger bowl, full of cereal and sliced bananas, next to the eggs, and a small cup of milk right behind it. Edward must not have known what to leave me for breakfast—that, or he was going to make up for me not eating yesterday enough yesterday by overstuffing me today.
The food was still fresh, too; there were thin wisps of smoke rising about the hot food, and the milk hadn’t warmed to room temperature yet. I wondered how long Edward had been gone. Not too long, I figured… though I did marvel that he was able to set this up and then sneak away right before I actually woke up.
I was impressed, and I almost didn’t want to ruin his handiwork by eating the meal. The food was beautifully arranged and, like he’d shown me in Charlie’s kitchen yesterday when he handled the chopping like a pro, it looked and smelled like a real chef had prepared it.
Hmm… maybe letting Chef Edward watch the Food Network wasn’t such a bad thing, after all.
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