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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I joined him in the cab, making a minor display of discomfort as I sat in the passenger’s seat. He watched me out of the corner of his eye and I could see that he was fighting back another laugh. Fighting and, for once, actually succeeding.
It was good to see him in such a cheerful mood. This summer had been the best of my life but I had to admit that there were times when his thoughts strayed to a place I’d much rather they not be. No matter how many times I pleaded with him and told him that I wanted him with me always, I knew that Edward often felt that his interference in my life did more harm than good.
The truck roared to life around us, the loud revving such a change from the quiet purr of Edward’s Volvo that I almost jumped at the sound. He didn’t give in to his desire to laugh but he did shake his head. I stuck my chin out in a defiant gesture. I liked my truck; the loud engine was just part of its charm.
It eventually quieted as we both knew it would and, as soon as the roar of the engine had finally died down, Edward shot his hand out and flicked the radio on. It was still set to an oldies station from the last time I let him drive my truck and, within the first few notes of the song, he recognized it and started singing along. His beautiful voice was low but clear, an almost hum as he harmonized along with a ballad I’d never heard before.
I didn’t interrupt his singing, choosing instead to listen to him match—and, in my opinion, surpass—the voice of the singer. He knew every lyric to the song and, not for the first time, I wondered what lifetime he was remembering. Edward thought of the past in terms of music; were his thoughts back in the 1950’s with this song, or in 2005 with me?
Now, I knew very well that Edward couldn’t read my mind; as he constantly reminded me, I was the only exception to his ability. But, when he removed his hand from the steering wheel and reached for mine, offering me a small smile as he continued to sing under his breath, I wasn’t all that sure that he hadn’t known exactly where my thoughts were. He squeezed my hand gently, my heart skipping a beat at his touch. His hand was like stone, a hard granite that seemed to be carved to fit the contours of my hand.
I didn’t mind the chill. It was a relief to feel his cool touch when his touch made me heat up like an inferno inside.
He continued to sing along to that song, and to the next one that came on the radio. The new song had a quicker melody and I found myself bopping my head along to the infectious beat. Edward’s voice changed, too, sounding like smooth velvet that wrapped around my senses. It was nothing short of beautiful.
I loved listening to him when he was around music—whether he was goofing off as he sang along to the radio or he was serious, sitting hunched over his grand piano. The music was his passion and my pleasure; I’ll never forget that first time he played my lullaby for me.
As we drove through Forks, I smiled to myself, comfortable with Edward at my side. These were the moments I treasured: just the two of us, content and alone, where the differences between us—him, a beautiful vampire, and me, a plain human girl—weren’t so noticeable.
As he sang, he was stealing glances at me and returning my smile. I could never understand what it was he saw when he looked at me but it made me happy that, whatever it was, it made him smile. I would do anything to see him smile.
The second song ended then only to be replaced immediately by another. This song had a slower beat and, like the previous two, I didn’t recognize it at all. The words were clear, though, and the singer’s melancholy voice rang out through the cab.
Oh, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She's gone to heaven, so I got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this worl—
The music stopped suddenly as Edward turned the radio off. With a simple tap of his long, pale finger he made the truck go quiet. It struck me then that the reason I’d been able to hear the song so clearly was because he had not been singing along to that last song. I was curious. Had I finally heard a song that he didn’t know?
I turned to look at him, to ask him about his reaction, but the hard look he gave the radio kept the words frozen in my throat. I couldn’t understand the intensity in his expression. What was wrong?
My empty hand was colder now than it had been holding onto his. Crossing my arms over my chest, I looked down. I didn’t like seeing that look in his eye.
“What are you thinking?”
He was trying to sound normal but his casual curiosity only sounded forced; he sounded, instead, like he was pleading with me.
It must be so hard for him, not knowing what thoughts were running through my head at any given moment. While it was definitely something I didn’t mind, I could see how frustrating it must be for him. He actually had to ask me what I was thinking instead of just knowing himself, something he hadn’t had to do since he was human.
That didn’t mean that, because he’d asked, I was going to tell him. “Nothing,” I lied. I shrugged and dared a glance up at him. He was staring at me, his golden eyes waiting. I sighed. Dazzler. “I was getting tired of the radio anyway.”
His eyebrow rose. He didn’t need any special gifts to tell when I was being less than honest. “I thought it would be nice if we talked,” he said and I could tell that, while he meant what he said, there was much more to his reaction than his desire to talk to me. “We haven’t really spoken since last night and, even then, you were the one doing most of the talking.”
His finger was still outstretched from reaching for the radio dial; rather than placing his hand back in his lap, he leaned toward me and ran his finger along my jaw line. I didn’t even bother scolding him for paying more attention to me than to the road. It wouldn’t do any good—when it came to his driving, Edward barely listened to any of my complaints—and, besides, I was far too preoccupied by his gentle touch.
But not so preoccupied that I didn’t hear the teasing in his voice. I groaned, knowing exactly what he was referring to. “I was talking in my sleep again, wasn’t I?”
It was a habit I knew I had and, even when I knew that Edward was lying awake beside me in my bed, it was too hard to break it. During the nighttime hours I spilled more than enough secrets to him; at this point in our relationship, I wasn’t sure I had many more to share.
He chuckled. “Don’t worry, Bella. It’s nothing that I’ve not already heard.”
“Really? What did I say?”
“What you usually say,” he said, wearing that smug look he had. “You told me you love me.”
“I do.” That wasn’t too bad. I told him that I loved him all the time. “Anything else?”
Edward paused. There was another of his mood swings as his features rearranged themselves into a look of guilt. “You asked me not to leave.”
“Were you leaving?” I asked, confused. I could be a heavy sleeper at times and it wouldn’t surprise me to know that, in my sleep, I’d responded to him trying to climb out of my bed.
As a vampire, Edward no longer was able to sleep. Before I’d learned that he cared for me the way I cared for him, he would come to my house and watch me sleep. After we confessed our feelings, he started to stay over with my permission (if not Charlie’s)—he still watched me at night, staying with me whenever he could. It gave him some peace, I guess. I’d gotten over my embarrassment that he enjoyed watching me sleep awhile ago. I slept easier when I knew he was there with me.
“No, I wasn’t leaving.” He paused, taking his time as he navigated a narrow turn with my big truck.
Unless I was being paranoid, it seemed like he was stalling; either stalling so I wouldn’t question him or stalling until he’d come up with something else to say.
“Bella, I forgot to ask. How’s your leg feeling today?”
I wasn’t paranoid, I thought as my heart dropped. He was asking me about my leg which meant only one thing: he was thinking about the tracker again. And, whenever he thought about James and what happened in Phoenix, it was only a short jump until he started to talk himself out of staying with me.
Slowly, trying to be inconspicuous, I moved so that the crescent-shaped scar on my hand was out of his line of sight. I didn’t want him to have any reminders of the vampire attack that almost took my life.
“It’s fine,” I told him. “It doesn’t hurt anymore at all.”
“Are you sure? Carlisle thought you might have needed the walking cast a little longer.”
Carlisle, Edward’s father figure, was the chief doctor at the local hospital in Forks. I trusted his opinion but even he had to know that four months with a cast was ridiculous.
Rolling my eyes at the way he was always so overprotective, I said, “I’m sure. If you want I can do some cartwheels for you. Maybe you’d finally believe me if I ran a marathon?”
“Do you really think I’d let you run a marathon? You’d come out of it with two broken legs!”
“I don’t fall that much,” I argued, though my heart wasn’t in it. It was a lie and we both knew it.
He shook his head. “You are a danger magnet, Bella,” he sighed, “your own worst enemy.”
I was so glad that he’d moved the conversation on without mentioning Phoenix that I didn’t even feel any shame or embarrassment at his words. I was trying my best to forget that spring break and I needed Edward to do the same.
Smiling, I shot back, “Well, then it’s a good thing I have you around to save me from myself.”
“But what if I’m not there?” The words were all but whispered under his breath. I’m sure I only heard them because he’d turned the radio off in the first place.
I don’t think he meant for me to hear them but I did so I answered him anyway. “You’ll always be here,” I told him. “You promised.”
“I can’t always be where the danger is because there’s danger wherever you go.” Scowling, he added, “Even at that job of yours you get hurt.”
It took me a second to figure out what he was talking about. I’d forgotten all about the cut I got back at the store. Self-consciously, I lifted my hand and patted the flesh-colored bandage on my arm. “I walked into a peg hook,” I said sheepishly.
“Exactly.” There was a triumph in his voice that did not last. It was quickly replaced by a mix of sadness and anger. “Is it really so difficult to keep you whole, Bella, to keep you safe?”
“In Forks it is.”
Our tones were as different as night and day. He was getting frustrated while I was beginning to sound panicky. I wasn’t surprised that my voice sounded like that—I hated it when he got this way. I was suddenly very desperate for this change in the mood in the car to go away.
Edward huffed and I knew for sure that he hadn’t been kidding with me. He was serious and that scared me. First the talk about Mike, then James and now this…
I couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal—I cut myself all of the time but, I figured, as long as I covered the injury with a band-aid that it would be all right.
That was stupid of me, I realized. Edward’s sense of smell was so powerful that he could smell my blood in my veins. Of course he’d be able to make it out on the bandage. It was no wonder he’d been acting so antsy since meeting me at four. His cheerful attitude had been a front, an act—he was upset, not happy, and it was my fault.
And he wanted to take me to his house! Could I be that thoughtless to enter the Cullens’ house and flaunt my fresh blood? My scent wasn’t as hard to ignore for the others as it was for Edward but I knew that it was still difficult, especially for Jasper, the newest of his brothers.
I felt guilty, convinced that the small injury was the reason behind his upset. “I’m sorry, Edward, I didn’t mean it. I understand if you want to just take me home,” I offered.
He shook his head urgently. He still looked angry but, at least when he spoke, his voice was softer. “I don’t want to take you home, Bella. You have to stay with me.”
“But what about Jasper?”
“Jasper?” For the briefest of moments his eyes flickered to mine. There was something there I couldn’t identify but I didn’t really have the chance. His attention was back on the road in front of him before I’d even gotten a second glance. “Don’t worry about Jasper.”
And that was all he said.
My skin erupted into tiny goosebumps as a second course of chills ran up and down my spine—chills that, for once, had nothing to due with the proximity of Edward. I was certain that there was something he wasn’t telling me, that something was wrong. And it wasn’t just because I was so clumsy.
Rubbing my lower arm in a discreet way, hoping he didn’t see the gesture, I looked out the window. I didn’t want to be facing him when he lied to me. “Edward—“
He must’ve known that I was going to question him on his sudden mood swing because, before I had the chance, he interrupted me.
“Are you sure you’re not cold?” he asked, barely taking his eyes off the road. In my experience, Edward could drive through Forks—at an excess of one hundred miles given the proper car, I must add—with his eyes closed; he didn’t need to be staring ahead of him. No, he was only doing that now so he wasn’t looking at me.
I felt my stomach drop as I sadly shook my head. “Yes,” I said, almost whispering. The atmosphere in the car was suddenly far colder than I was.
He wasn’t driving as fast as he normally did. In fact, a quick glance at the speedometer showed he was actually going much slower and I doubted it was because my senior citizen of a truck was as difficult to speed up as Edward liked to tease. Still, I could see that we were heading in the direction of his home. He wasn’t taking me to mine, so that was a good sign at least.
I didn’t like how quiet he was being. I could tell that something was bothering him but it was obvious that he intended to keep it to himself. Rather than try again to ask him what was wrong, I kept quiet too. If he wanted me to know, he would tell me. Until then I would be as supportive as I could.
His grip on the steering wheel had tightened. I could hear the rustle of the worn leather has he squeezed it. I dared another look at him—his eyes were closed.
I had faith in Edward’s driving ability, even if I would never admit it to him, but it was one thing to know he could drive with his eyes shut and another to actually see him driving blind. I couldn’t help myself. I squealed.
There was a hint of a smile on his face as his eyes sprang open. There was a troubled expression within their perfect topaz depths, an expression he was trying very hard to hide from me. “Don’t worry, Bella,” he said, tapping his forehead with one long, pale finger. “Built-in radar, remember?”
“A radar, sure, but your eyes were closed. You can’t tell me that mind reading will prevent you from driving straight into a tree,” I pointed out.
He pretended to consider my argument before nodding. “That’s true, and I didn’t mean to do it. You could consider it as if I were resting my eyes, perhaps.”
“If I didn’t know any better,” I scoffed, my heart thundering in my chest. The truck hadn’t swerved once in those few seconds but it was still a terrifying idea, for him to be driving with his eyes closed. “I would have thought you’d fallen asleep on me.”
“Never,” he grinned and the dour mood he’d been under seemed to lift slightly as he reached out and took my hand again. “Even if I could sleep, I wouldn’t. That would be less time I could spend with you.”
The warmth and honesty in his voice wasn’t enough to make me forget the hard look on his face before, or the funk he’d been in… but it was a start. I tightened my grip on his hand. I doubted he even noticed the urgency behind the pressure. “That makes me feel guilty for having to sleep, you know.”
He shook his head, the wind from outside the open window coming in to ruffle his bronze hair. It made him appear even more godlike and I had to repress another squeal. Gorgeous. “Please don’t feel guilty. I wouldn’t give up those peaceful hours with you for anything in the world. To be there, feeling your warmth, smelling your—”
“Blood?” I interrupted, teasing him. For reasons I couldn’t really explain, it always made me feel nervous (and pleased, of course) when he started to talk in such an earnest manner. I loved him, I know I did, but it was almost as if he felt the emotion more than I did. The thought was an intimidating one. I couldn’t imagine feeling more in love than I already did.
Not to mention that, whenever I thought about that, it turned my attention to one flaw in Edward’s constant declarations: if he loved me as much as he said, then why didn’t he want me to change, to be what he was? If he wanted to spend as much time as possible with me, why was he so convinced that I stay human?
I didn’t know and I wondered why he wouldn’t give me that answer. The only closure I had was that Alice had seen me as one of them, a vampire like the rest of the Cullens. If that vision came true—and I was hoping fervently that it did—then I guess it didn’t matter how long it took for Edward to change his mind about changing me; it only mattered that he finally did. Oh, and that he preferably did so before September 13th.
Edward looked slightly taken aback at the way I was joking around with him. He did not see the way my blood tempted the vampire in him as a joke. I knew it was as serious as he thought but I couldn’t treat it as if it was; if I did, then I had to admit that his killing me was, small or not, a possibility. If only for my own sanity, I had tell myself repeatedly that he would never hurt me.
For a few seconds I was worried that, considering the mood he’d been in since meeting me at work, I’d pushed it too far. It was difficult sometimes to remember the boundaries he’d set up for us. My enthusiasm—and my big mouth—often got the better of me.
But then he smiled at me, that uneven smile of his that had the ability to make most—if not all—of my worries disappear. “You do smell delicious,” he admitted.
“Thank you.” In the last few months I’d gotten used to being told how good I smelled. I just took it as a compliment.
I sounded so serious, so gracious, that it was impossible for Edward not to laugh in response. He did, a smooth chuckle, and the sound was music to my ears. He was slowly regaining his good humor, thank goodness. His thoughts were still elsewhere but, at least, he was here with me.
We spent the rest of the car ride in silence. He was obviously thinking about something and I was so relieved that he wasn’t upset with me that I was a little afraid to say anything to make him angry. I settled with holding onto his hand if I were a vice. Nothing was breaking my hold.
The quiet was comfortable, though, and, before I knew it, we were turning down the hidden street that led to the Cullens’ home. If I’d been the one driving, I would have missed it—a fact I conveniently kept to myself. One of these days I would win and he would let me drive him around.
The impressiveness of the large white house had not faded over the last few months. Every time Edward pulled up to it I was reminded of the day he took me home to meet his family. Nervous butterflies always returned, as if one day his family wouldn’t welcome me in.
It was a childish worry but I couldn’t squash it regardless. It was bad enough that I had Edward when I doubted I deserved him but to be so accepted by his loving family? I couldn’t help but wonder when the dream would finally be over, because this new life of mine could only be a dream. It was just too perfect not to be.
There was one member of the Cullen family who was not as accepting of me as the rest. I appreciated Rosalie’s ill-hidden dislike, even if I didn’t entirely understand it, if only because it kept me grounded in reality. If this really was a dream, then wouldn’t she be like the older sister I never had?
And she definitely wasn’t; I much preferred Alice to Rosalie. I had to admit that it wasn’t really that much of a loss to me when Rosalie and Emmett had left for Africa at the end of the school year. While I’d missed Edward’s big, burly brother, it was a relief not to be on the receiving end of Rosalie’s dark stare.
Then again, I found myself thinking as I gazed up at the house, maybe it could be a dream. Only in a dream could someone as absolutely gorgeous as Rosalie Hale be jealous of someone like me. Edward told me that her dislike was a cover for her jealousy but I couldn’t believe that. So, I figured, either I was dreaming, or I was in Heaven.
Just then, as the truck came to a stop, an angel appeared.
Without me realizing it, Edward had turned the engine off, left his side of the car, hurried over to mine and opened the door for me. He held his arms out to help me out of the cab, a glorious smile at home on his angelic face.
Wordlessly, he lifted me out of my seat and set me gently down on the ground. I had no idea what he was thinking but he only hesitated for a second before pulling me close and wrapping his arms around me.
My heart stopped and I knew it then.I was in Heaven.
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