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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:


3. Seventeen

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 3817   Review this Chapter

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Chapter Two
SEVENTEEN

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“Bella, love,” he greeted me, his golden eyes almost dancing as they met mine. They were even more beautiful than they’d been when I’d left him this morning; he must’ve spent my shift out hunting. He had been a little cranky lately, and he never let himself go for long without quenching his thirst. I didn’t fear him, but Edward had little to no confidence in his ability to resist my blood. “It’s four o’clock.”

I knew there was no need to question his announcement but I just couldn’t help myself. My head turned and I glanced at the time clock screen on the nearest register. I smiled in amazement though this wasn’t the first time that Edward had done this particular trick: as I watched, the clock flipped from 3:59:59 to 4:00:00. It was four o’clock—four o’clock exactly.

“Yes it is,” I agreed, turning around to look at him again. I still couldn’t get used to the extraordinary beauty of his features; as always, I stifled a tiny gasp as I took in his entire face at once. I’d been getting better and better at controlling my reactions around him lately but sometimes I failed miserably.

I’m sure he heard my gasp. At the very least, the corners of his mouth seemed to twitch merrily as he nodded over at me. “Are you ready?”

“Yup. I just have to run into the break room and grab my bag,” I told him, gesturing over my shoulder at the room across the store.

“Let me get that for you,” he offered and, before I’d had the chance to tell him not to worry about it, he’d started off towards the door.

Edward, courtesy of his superhuman speed, was beyond fast and I had no doubt that, if he really wanted to race over to the break room and retrieve my bag, he could have done so without anyone seeing him go. However, when he leisurely began to saunter pass the front counter, I knew that his aim wasn’t to get my bag—he just wanted Mike to see him do it.

My hunch was justified when he seemed to slow just as he made it to where Mike was standing. His lips seemed to split into a winning smile right as Mike shook his head, an obvious pout on his face.

“Sorry, Cullen,” he said, sounding anything but apologetic, “but I can’t let you go back there. Employees only.”

Edward spun slowly, trading his triumphant grin for a puzzled frown as he faced Mike. I envied his acting ability—he was able to act like he had no idea what Mike meant. “Is that so, Newton? Then I’m sorry too. I was unaware that you kept such a… sanctuary here.”

He said it in such a polite voice that it took Mike a minute to work out what Edward meant. When he did, his eyes narrowed and he lifted his right hand. His pointer finger was stretched out in a warning. “You know what, Cullen? I don’t think I like your tone.”

I had to hand it to him. While no one in Forks—except me, of course—knew what the Cullens really were, there was definitely something that marked them as different, and I didn’t just mean their unnatural good looks. Most humans could recognize the danger without fully understanding why they were afraid. Normally Mike, as easy going and as laidback a person as I’d ever met, was able to hide his distrust and dislike for Edward, never really showing how he felt.

But, for the first time since I knew both of them, Mike seemed to be challenging Edward. By the smirk that appeared on his face, Edward was amused by Mike’s sudden growth of a spine. I had the feeling that he’d been waiting for a moment like this.

“Oh, really?”

I recognized the warning that was barely hidden in his musical voice. As much as it would be nice to let Edward knock Mike down a couple of pegs, I knew I couldn’t do it. It would be too selfish of me.

I tried to be quick yet sneaky, which just meant that I nearly tripped over my own two feet as I moved to stand between them. Interrupting the boys, I said, “Mike, Edward, it’s fine. I can go get it myself. I’ll be right back.”

Edward turned his gaze on me and I had to work hard not to let him dazzle me then and there. “Of course, Bella. I’ll be waiting.” Mike just huffed and busied himself with looking at some paperwork that was on the counter.

I didn’t want to leave them alone together but I had no other choice. Since I was somewhat annoyed at their behavior, I didn’t say another word to them. I stormed away towards the break room, purposely walking a path that took me straight between the two of them.

This time, when I stumbled, I caught myself just in time. The close call made my exit a little less than impressive, and I hoped Edward and Mike noticed how their stupid little exchange upset me.

If I was being honest, though, I wasn’t as annoyed with Edward as I was with Mike. It was very difficult being angry at Edward; it was usually only possible when his eyes… and his smell… and, well, everything else about him was very far, far away. And, since I was reluctant to let that happen, Edward could get away with pretty much anything as I far as I was concerned.

But not Mike. He was just being stubborn, telling Edward that the break room was off limits to non-employees. Only last week I found a shirt that, unless Mike had some secret hobby I didn’t know about, had to belong to Jessica.

Sighing, I pushed past the break room door, careful not to hit it so hard that I swung back at me—the last time I did that I ended up with a bruise on my shoulder in the shape of New Jersey. My bag was still where I left it, perched on the left cushion of the sofa. Grabbing it by the thick straps, I easily swung it so that it was resting on my shoulder.

There. Now I was ready.

Just before I left the room, I made sure to check the schedule that Mrs. Newton kept hanging next to the table, posted next to the bathroom door. It had only occurred to me that I wasn’t exactly sure when I was expected back to work.

Since this summer really could pass as the rainiest ever, and in Forks that meant something, the outfitters business had been slow. I was only a part-timer which, during this lull, translated to two-three shifts a week; I wouldn’t have to work again until Tuesday. Whether Mrs. Newton had done it or not, she’d given me the weekend off. Mike too, I noticed, thanking whatever deity was listening that he’d never had the chance to ask me what I was doing this weekend. Though I didn’t know myself, I knew for sure that there was no way I could tell Mike about some of the things I did when I was with Edward and his family.

I could just see it now:

So, Bella, what did you do this weekend?

Nothing really, Mike. I hung out with my vampire boyfriend and his vampire family. It stormed on Saturday night so we all went out and played vampire baseball. Oh, did I mention that the Cullens were vampires?

Yeah, that would go over well.

Shaking my head, I readjusted my shoulder bag and exited the break room. Once I stepped out onto the sales floor, my were eyes drawn straight to Edward. He was still standing across the counter from Mike, his back to the other boy. Mike’s pout was even more noticeable than it’d been before I’d left; Edward’s humor had grown as well. I could only imagine what had happened in the few seconds I was gone.

I forced a smile to come to my face, ignoring the awkwardness that seemed to settle over Newton’s Outfitters, determined not to let them make me frustrated. A quick glance out of the corner of my eye told me that the store was still empty, Edward being our only “customer”. I was glad. I didn’t like feeling guilty when I was leaving Mike alone until closing in a crowded store.

I ducked behind the counter briefly to sign my name in the payroll ledger, filling in the time and the date for my shift, before joining Edward on the opposite side.

He was chuckling under his breath as I said my goodbyes to Mike. He’d rested his hand lightly on my shoulder when I joined him, the gesture entirely welcome despite its slight possessive undertones. I’d have to remember to tell him exactly who was acting so jealous of—Mike Newton—and just how ridiculous his jealousy was.

“Enjoy your weekend, Bella. I’ll see you… what, on Monday?” he asked, calling to me as Edward and I headed towards the front entrance. He seemed determined to have the last word with Edward present and I had to bite my tongue. If the two of them were going to keep this pathetic show up for the rest of the summer, I was going to have to insist that Edward wait outside when Mike was working.

I glanced over my shoulder, shaking my head as I answered him. “Nope, Tuesday. I’m off until then.”

“Oh.” It only took him a second to regroup before, “Tuesday, then.”

“Tuesday,” I agreed. “Bye, Mike.”

“See you later, Bella,” he said and I could hear the disappointment in his voice. It bothered me a bit but it wasn’t anything new by now. I was beginning to think that, as long as there wasn’t another girl to take Mike’s attention away from me, I might have to deal with his misplaced affection. Really, how could he not see how much in love with Edward Cullen I was? I swear, there was a little pink heart that popped up over my head ever time I was around him. Mike couldn’t be that blind.

Almost as if he’d just remembered my company, Mike nodded once at Edward. “Cullen,” he said solemnly. The smile had vanished entirely, his lips thinned into a tight line.

On the contrary, Edward’s smile seemed to grow. “Newton.”

I wanted nothing more than to roll my eyes at their childish behavior. Mike, I could understand—he really was seventeen years old. But Edward? He may look seventeen but it’s been so long since he was seventeen that it was more of a memory than a state of mind for him.

I didn’t, though. Instead, I settled with offering Mike a final wave before leading Edward out of Newton’s Outfitters.

My annoyance must have been obvious by the way that I started to storm away from him as soon as we stepped outside. It was a cloudy day, overcast and grey though there was no sign of the rain that had threatened to fall all afternoon, but I didn’t mind. If the clouds meant that I could spend more time with Edward—even if he was making things difficult with Mike—then they were welcome to hang around forever.

“I’m sorry, Bella,” he said once we’d made it outside, easily catching up to me in three strides, “but I couldn’t help myself.”

“I’m sure you couldn’t.”

He chuckled to himself. “He makes it so easy sometimes.” His eyes brightened. “Remember when I told you that Mike loathed me?”

“Yes…

“Well, he absolutely despises me now.”

I rolled my eyes. Once upon a time I would have chalked his insight up to his ability to read people’s expressions but now I knew better. As a vampire, one of Edward’s gifts was being able to read minds. I was the single exception for him and that was a good thing. My thoughts revolved around him so constantly that I’m sure it would get on his nerves to hear my mind chatter about him all the time.

No doubt Edward had been listening to Mike’s thoughts now. For just a second, I wondered what Mike was thinking that made Edward so certain that he hated him but then I figured it out for myself. I didn’t need to be a mind reader to know that Mike was still jealous and it didn’t help that Edward was egging him on.

I shook my head, frowning. “You really shouldn’t be like that,” I scolded, trying to sound firm and only succeeding in sounding like I was whining.

“Why not?” he asked, his tone still light. He found the situation funny. “It’s this jealousy thing, remember? I still can’t get used to all these human emotions. It’s their fault that I act this way. Theirs and yours.”

It made the butterflies in my stomach flutter to hear him admit to his jealousy, even if I couldn’t really understand why he continued to feel such strong emotions concerning me. I felt my cheeks heat up as I mumbled, “It’s not my fault, and, besides, you’ve got nothing to be jealous about.”

“Yes, I do. I know what Newton is thinking.” I heard the edge in his voice and I glanced up at him, surprised. A look of anger flashed across his angelic face, his golden eyes dark as he turned and narrowed his gaze at the store behind me. “He thinks about you, Bella. He thinks about you a lot.”

My stomach dropped and I shook my head again. I struggled to bring a grin to my face. “Then it’s a good thing that all I do is think about you,” I told him, trying to sound playful. I couldn’t even imagine what Edward had heard. I didn’t want to know.

“You’re always on my mind,” he promised me, lowering his eyes and staring at me through his thick eyelashes. There was a fire in his gaze that made me very nearly squirm.

Honk!

The loud sound of an oncoming car broke up the seriousness of the moment. I jerked, my trance wearing off as I turned to see an old, beat up station wagon heading straight toward Edward and me.

I hadn’t noticed it but, as we were talking, we’d stopped walking—we were standing in the middle of the road, halfway between the parking lot and the cement sidewalk in front of Newton’s Outfitters. The station wagon was trying to drive down the street, blaring its obnoxious horn as it went in order to get us to move out of its way.

Edward snarled under his breath as he reached out—his arm moving so fast that I didn’t realize he’d done it until I moved—and pulled me protectively towards him. He didn’t break his pose, but the middle-aged man driving the station wagon didn’t need him to; I’d been the one in the way. The car didn’t even bother to stop, swerving instead as it got close, jumping the curb as it sped right on by. I guess someone was in a hurry to get to the Thriftway.

There was another growl, low and rough. “Stupid human.”

I must’ve tensed against him or glanced up at him with a strange look on my face because he suddenly relaxed, the hard lines on his face melting into an amused smile. “Not you, silly. I was talking about that idiot,” he clarified.

“Oh. Just checking.”

His eyes darted over to where the old car had parked crookedly into a spot across the parking lot and his smile dipped into a frown. I could tell that he was trying to hold onto his anger but, in the end, he wasn’t able to. Shaking his head, he let my favorite uneven smile creep back into place as he leaned in to kiss the top of my head.

It dawned on me then that he was still holding me tight to him—and we were still standing in the middle of the road. I wondered if Mike could see us from inside the store and quickly decided it didn’t matter. I placed my head against his solid chest. “I love you.”

His only response was to breathe in, inhaling the scent of my hair, before sighing.

I grinned to myself and, when he finally let me go, I wordlessly followed him. I felt much better now, my annoyance a memory. Edward’s earlier good mood had been restored; at the very least, the near accident had taken the focus of our conversation off of Mike Newton.

In an attempt to make sure that his attention did not stray back to Mike, I decided to bring up a new topic. “So, did I tell you that I have the weekend off?”

My tone was not as off-handed as I would have liked but Edward didn’t mention it. “Not me, no, but I figured it when you told Newton you were off of work until Tuesday.”

I cringed at the mention of Mike. I’d purposely tried to change the subject but we were right back where we started. Sometimes Edward could be so frustrating!

Surprisingly though—or not, since I’m sure he was my reaction—Edward continued, “Did you make any plans then?”

There was a playfulness to his voice that I couldn’t mistake. As if I would make plans to do something that didn’t involve him… We both knew how unlikely that was.

Still, I decided to play along. “I know Alice mentioned something about going shopping tomorrow.” Alice was one of Edward’s sisters, by choice if not by blood. She was another of the vampires in the Cullen family, and I’d been spending a lot of time with her since spring break. Unlike Rosalie, Edward’s other sister, Alice liked me and wanted me as part of their family.

Not that that meant she was willing to go so far as to change me—that decision was up to Edward and he was still not budging on that issue.

Edward made a face at the mention of shopping. He may be a vampire but he was still a male. “Shopping with Alice?” he asked. “What am I going to do without you?”

He looked so lost that I had to laugh at his expression. He was acting as if we weren’t already as inseparable as could be. “What? Eight hours at night and most of the day together isn’t enough for you?”

“Twenty four hours isn’t enough,” he whispered then, reaching his hand out and placing it on mine. It was a gentle touch but, despite his feather-light contact, I could feel the iciness of his stone cold skin. Slowly, he ran his fingers up the length of my arm before running them down again, gripping my left wrist in a loose grasp when his fingers finished their journey.

I shivered, a quick chill running up and down my spine. I wasn’t sure, exactly, what had caused them—either the sincere way he whispered or the intense manner in which he was holding onto me, as if he feared I would disappear, was a safe bet for my response. My heart was beating as fast as ever and, right then, I’d forgotten just what it was that he’d done that had made me so annoyed.

The moment was broken when Edward took a tentative step away from me, letting my hand fall softly to my side, concern written all over his beautiful face. “Are you cold, Bella?” he asked, already appearing regretful for reaching for me with his icy digits. He’d seen me shiver.

I felt guilty at his reaction. How could I explain that it wasn’t his lack of warmth that caused my chills but, rather, the way he filled me with warmth? That I didn’t shiver because I was cold but because I was excited?

I couldn’t tell him that. Even though we’d been through so much together, I still felt a little uncomfortable spilling my heart and soul to him. Despite his constant assurance that he loved me too, I doubted I would ever feel truly at ease sharing my emotions.

Keeping my eyes down, I made sure not to meet his gaze. One look into his ocher eyes and he’d have me telling him everything I was thinking of; it was one of his skills as a “dazzler” and one that I preferred he didn’t use on me. “No, I’m not cold,” I told him honestly, taking the opportunity to reach out and grab his hand in mine. I never wanted to let him go.

“Me, neither,” he murmured, lifting our hands up so he could place the front of my hand against his smooth cheek. Edward sighed. “So warm…”

I blushed then, and I’m sure the blood that went straight to my face made my skin even warmer. Embarrassed, while trying to make my being close as easy as possible for him, I fought to find something to take my mind off of how close he was to me.

“Um…” And then I had it. “Where’s your car?”

I hadn’t noticed it while we were walking and talking but Edward had steered me right over to the passenger side of my big red truck—but his shiny silver Volvo was nowhere in sight.

Edward lowered our hands, disentangling his from mine before he reached out and opened the door. “I didn’t drive,” he told me. That mischievous twinkle was back in his golden eyes.

Like the argument we seemed to constantly be having about him changing me, this was a familiar scenario. I stubbornly shook my head. “Uh-uh. Just because you didn’t bring your car, doesn’t mean I’m going to let you drive.”

“Oh, so you finally remember how to get to my house?” he asked innocently.

I ignored his comment. Instead, I asked, “We’re going to your house?”

“Of course. Charlie does not approve of you being alone with me without a chaperone, isn’t that so?”

It was my turn to make a face. Charlie still hadn’t forgiven Edward for everything that happened last March, no matter how many times I tried to explain that it was my fault, not Edward’s. He’d come up with all sorts of rules when I returned from Forks and, to make matters worse, Edward actually agreed with most of them. “You know he doesn’t.”

“There you have it. Charlie’s at work, but there’s a proper chaperone back at my house.”

“Esme’s home?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yes, and she’s busy working on something with Alice and Jasper.” Leaning in, he pressed his lips lightly to my forehead. I barely noticed it when he reached in the front pocket of my pants and took out my car key. Drawing back, he winked at me. “Carlisle’s at the hospital, which leaves you and I together. But,” he added, as if he was making a valid point, “Esme will be somewhere in the house. And, besides, you can’t argue against the fact that there will definitely be adult supervision.”

“Says the hundred and four year old vampire,” I muttered darkly, watching him laugh to himself as he walked around the front of the truck. My words lacked bite, though, and I didn’t even mention it when he helped himself into the driver’s seat. I guess I was used to being had by him.