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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:


8. Sleepwalker

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4929   Review this Chapter

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Chapter Seven
SLEEPWALKER

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The baseball game must have worked its boring, mind-numbing magic on me because, the next thing I knew, I was stretching my arms and yawning.

Somewhere lost between half asleep and half awake, I was conscious enough to grasp the fact that it was Saturday and that I had no work. I didn’t even bother opening my eyes. I was just going to roll over and fall back asleep anyway.

But I didn’t.

Something was wrong.

In my sleepy haze, it took me longer to realize what than if I was more conscious. As I stretched, it was easy to tell that I wasn’t sleeping on the couch—where I’d most definitely fallen asleep the night before. I’d been too worried, too tired and too lazy to go upstairs, change into my pajamas and go to sleep in my bed, choosing to sleep on Charlie’s old couch instead.

But, as I reached back and stretched my arms behind me, I knew that I wasn’t on the old, lumpy couch anymore.

When I was little, Charlie used to carry me upstairs if I fell asleep on the couch but he hadn’t done that since I was six. He probably wouldn’t want to risk a hernia at his age by lifting me now. But if it wasn’t him, then how did I get moved?

My breath caught in my throat as the most horrifying idea popped into my head. I couldn’t have started sleepwalking too, could I? Oh, I hope not.

Walking in my sleep wasn’t even a viable option. It was bad enough that I was so clumsy when I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. I could only imagine how much trouble I’d get myself into if I started walking around sound asleep.

There was only one thing left to do. The uncertainty of not knowing went straight to my chest; part nervous, part confused, I was suddenly wide awake. There was no way I could go back to sleep without even being aware of where exactly I was.

Tentatively, I opened my eyes. A quick look around the room assured me that, however I’d moved, I hadn’t gone far: I was upstairs, in my bedroom.

My eyes strayed to the window. It was open, the muggy, humid air of a Forks summer oozing its way into my room. There was no sign of an intruder—I checked to see if my rocking chair was empty, and it was—but I figured Edward must have snuck in through the window at some point. I had to; if I didn’t blame my sudden movement on him, then I had to wonder who else with enough strength to carry me upstairs had been in my house.

I point blank refused to believe that I might be a sleep talker and a sleepwalker.

Pushing my blanket aside, I quickly climbed out of my bed. I barely remembered that I was still wearing my clothes instead of pajamas; when I glanced down and recognized my work clothes, I cringed. I would be sore later. It was never a good idea to fall asleep in jeans.

Deciding I was better off showering and getting dressed, I patted my sleep-tangled hair and yawned. It was early, but Charlie would be gone already. There was nothing really for me to do except get ready for when Edward came back for me.

But first I would close my window. It was too sticky out to leave it open—and it definitely wasn’t a good idea to go around inviting strong strangers into my bedroom.

The memory of a plain, pale young man with indifference in his scarlet eyes and murder on his mind popped into my head. I quickly squashed it. I had nothing to fear from James—Edward and his brothers had made sure of that.

No, I only to had worry about runaway vans, the slippery ice during a Forks winter, the ever present danger from my own two feet and, oh yeah, the fact that my blood smelled much sweeter to a particular vampire than anyone else’s ever had before…

I quickly squashed those thoughts, too. I didn’t like being reminded that I was Bella Swan, danger magnet.

Besides, if he really wanted to get in, Edward would find a way in whether my window was open or not. And if he didn’t, then he was just going to have to get used to going through the front door like a normal human being.

The window closed with a snap. Pressing my nose up against the glass, I could see that Charlie was already gone. It was Saturday, which meant that he could be anywhere: at the station, visiting Billy Black at La Push, fishing down at his spot with Harry Clearwater…

Wherever he was, if I left to spend the day with Edward—which I was definitely planning on doing—then I would have to leave a note for him today. He hadn’t really said anything about it last night, but I’m sure Charlie wanted more of an idea of where I was.

My nose and forehead peeled away from the slick, sticky window pane with a faint popping noise and I absently wiped at the marks left behind. The humidity, or maybe the ever-present rain, left drops of water on the glass and my fingers left trails along the width of the window. There would be streaks later, but I didn’t care.

I glanced out the window one last time before heading off to the shower. There was no sign of Edward outside, no silver Volvo in the driveway, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t out there. I’d learned awhile ago not to underestimate him; in fact, I was a little surprised, not to mention a little disappointed, that I hadn’t found him in my rocking chair this morning. There was no better way to wake up than to find such a gorgeous figure watching in awe as you slept.

And it’s really not as creepy as it sounds, either.

He didn’t like to be away from me and that was something I could understand entirely. If I had it my way, I’d never be parted from him again.

Now, if only I could convince Edward of that. He was still stubbornly refusing to even think about turning me into a vampire like him. As desperate as I was to lose my humanity, to make sure I could be with him forever—and to an immortal, forever really meant forever—he was equally certain that he would never allow me to become a "monster" like him.

Sighing, I turned my back on the window. It was useless, anyway. If he didn’t want to be seen, I wouldn’t see him. Not until he wanted me to. Stupid mythical creature.

I didn’t bother grabbing anything to bring with me as I left. Ever since my walking cast was removed and my injuries had healed enough that I didn’t have to rely on Alice to help me bathe—something that Charlie will, in his own mind, never be able to thank her enough for; Alice was the only Cullen that Charlie really adored, rather than just tolerated—I’d kept all of my toiletries in the bathroom. So, without another look behind me, I sluggishly made my way out of my room and down the hall.

My shower was reviving. By the time I’d brushed my teeth, washed my hair and soaped up, I wasn’t feeling cranky or nervous at all. It was as if I washed the worries out when I rinsed my strawberry shampoo. However, once I turned the jet of hot water off and wrapped myself in my fluffy blue towel, I couldn’t help but wonder where Edward was or what he was doing.

I knew it wasn’t healthy to obsess over every move that he made but, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get him off my mind. After the distraction of Charlie’s baseball game, I’d been able to forget about everything that happened at the Cullens house yesterday. Waking up in a different place from where I’d fallen asleep had been the pressing matter at hand this morning; now, though, my thoughts were free to wander back to him.

I had the feeling that I was making a mountain out of a molehill with this whole thing. Edward was the one who had a tendency to overreact yet I was the one currently analyzing every word he’d said and glance he’d given. And I thought I was the sensible one. But nope—here I was, concerned that he was annoyed and moody rather than pleased to see his family together again. I don’t think I would’ve been so worried except that it was so obvious that he was trying to keep me out of it, whatever it was.

That was what had me irked and I knew that I wouldn’t feel at peace until I got him to admit that he was keeping something from me. We were, in the simplest terms, a couple, a union—there shouldn’t be any secrets that he felt he had to hide.

His worried frown and troubled eyes flashed before me and I sighed. And to think that things had been so calm lately. I wasn’t surprised that I was reacting so strongly to his self-imposed secrecy. I guess, in a way, I’d been expecting this. Happily ever after’s only happen in fairy tales.

I must’ve been really lost in thought—fretting over Edward, fretting over me—because, when I made it back to my room, I almost walked smack dab into the real thing without realizing it. I stopped in time, thank goodness, but I only just managed to keep my hold on my towel.

"Edward!"

My voice squeaked and I wasn’t sure if it was because I was glad he was there—or because I was horrified because he was there and I was naked. My grip on the towel tightened so much so that my fingers turned white. They were actually even paler than his.

"Good morning, Bella," he greeted, a welcoming smile on his face. It dipped when he saw my lack of clothing. Like the gentleman that he was, he promptly turned around. "Sleep well?"

Even though I couldn’t see his face, I could tell he was taking a shot at me. I didn’t appreciate it. "Huh? I mean… wha—what are you doing here? How did you get here?" Stupid question, I know. The window had been open, hadn’t it? I shook my head. "When did you get here?"

"Aren’t you glad to see me?"

His voice actually managed to radiate innocence. It made me more flustered than I already was—if that was even possible.

"Of course I am," I said, slightly hysterical, "but you usually give me a little more of an advanced warning so I can get ready. And don’t think I didn’t notice you didn’t answer my questions."

"So many questions," he laughed. "I’m not surprised. I definitely got off easy last night. Besides," he added, his voice smarmy, "I did tell you I’d be here bright and early, Bella."

I ignored that. "Well?"

"I’ll make a deal with you. You go finish getting dressed and then I’ll answer any questions you have."

There was no way I was going to pass that up. "Fine," I said, trying to sound dignified. It was difficult, considering he was fully clothed and I wasn’t, but still. It was something.

He didn’t see my triumphant grin as I hiked up my towel, secured it and hurried over to my dresser. Edward was very careful to keep his back to me, giving me my privacy. I would have loved to give him a grateful hug if it wasn’t for the fact that I was, well, naked except for a towel.

Instead, I quickly gathered together some underwear, a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. I didn’t even look to see if they matched; I just made sure that I would have something to cover up myself with so that I could hurry back and talk to him.

Arms full of clothes, I paused at my door. I cleared my throat. "Don’t go anywhere, okay?"

He glanced over his shoulder, his eyes light and happy. "I wouldn’t dream of it."

His smooth, velvet voice assured me that he would be there, waiting in my room when I returned but it was hard for me to believe that he wouldn’t disappear the moment I turned my back on him. I was beginning to think I just may have a complex.

I held up my index finger in the universal sign for "give me a minute" before disappearing out into the hallway. I wanted to hurry but, after stumbling halfway to the bathroom and nearly losing hold of the towel, I went more slowly. The last thing I needed was to fall down, break my leg again, cry out for help and have Edward find me on the floor, naked as the day I was born. I didn’t think my pride—or Edward’s virtue—could handle a shock like that.

As it was, I was pretty sure that my fingers might be permanently white and my cheeks stained red. It had never occurred to me that he might be waiting for me when I finished with my shower. I made a conscious decision right then and there that I would always bring my clothes with me and get dressed in the bathroom.

Once the surprise of Edward’s sudden, unexpected appearance wore off, and I was finally able to untangle the poor towel from my death grip, I basically threw my clothes on. I don’t remember ever getting dressed so quickly before.

I think I just needed the proper incentive. A gorgeous vampire boyfriend who was actually offering to answer my questions was all I needed to get my butt into gear.

I added my towel to the hamper before grabbing my hairbrush. My hair had begun to air dry and it took a bit of work to get the tangles and knots out without ripping big chunks of hair out. When I finally did, I left my hair down and tossed my brush back into my basket of toiletries.

There. I was ready. I just hoped he was, too.

He was still there when I returned from the bathroom, but he’d moved. Instead of standing in the middle of the room, where I’d left him, Edward had taken to my rocking chair. It was as overcast and rainy this morning as it had been when I first peeked out the window and only his brilliance brightened up my room.

His arms opened wide, invitingly, as I entered the room.

It should be illegal for him to look so tempting. I almost couldn’t resist.

Crossing my arms over my chest, I stayed in the doorway. I shook my head. "Uh-uh. I know what you’re trying to do and I’m not buying it."

He tilted his head to the side, pouting his beautiful lips. His tousled bronze hair fell forward into his face with the action but it wasn’t enough to hide the obvious mischief written in his ocher eyes.

Though I was well aware that he was being manipulative, that sad look of his tugged on my heartstrings. It wasn’t as if I’d never seen anyone use the puppy dog pout on me before—my mom was a pro at it—but Edward… it was like he invented it.

I never stood a chance.

I stomped over to him, my face mimicking his; I doubted I pulled the pout off half as well as he did.

Once I was in front of him, I gave him a silent warning and jumped right onto his lap. I didn’t snuggle close to him, breathing in his delicious scent, like I usually did. Instead, I tried to maintain a level of distance. I would not let him dazzle me into giving up my chance to interrogate him on yesterday’s strange behavior.

If he noticed that I was reacting to him differently than I normally did, he didn’t say anything. He just closed his arms and, being careful as always, adjusted my position so that I was secure against his chest.

I didn’t even bother trying to wiggle out of his grip. Scowling, I said, "There. Happy?"

"Immensely."

Leaning in, he buried his face in my damp hair. My heart started to race from his proximity but I was able to barely hang onto my control. His breath tickled my neck. I could feel him inhaling the scent of my skin and I was suddenly very grateful that I’d already showered.

When Edward remained in that position, relentlessly sending chills up and down my spine, I started to lose myself in his embrace. It was just too easy to. Firming my resolve, I attempted to ignore the way he was holding me so close to his hard chest. He still wasn’t talking, but that was about to change.

Clearing my throat, I tried to move away from him so that I could look him in the eye. It didn’t work, though; Edward’s hold was like a vice.

For some reason, that made me annoyed. I huffed. "Did you forget our deal?" I was proud of myself. There was only a small tremor in my voice as he rubbed his cheek along the length of my throat before finally sitting straight back again.

"No, but I was hoping you would."

I rolled my eyes at his honesty before turning my head and glaring up at him. Like that would ever happen. He had a better chance of getting me to ask Mike Newton on a date than me forgetting that he’d actually said he would explain something about him that made me curious.

Edward did not react to my disgruntled expression the way I wanted him to—instead of looking abashed, he was smirking. He freed one of his hands and tapped me gently on the nose. "You’re so cute."

Cute? My glare turned into a glower. "I was going for fierce."

Letting his arm fall and settle in my lap, encircling my waist and pulling me even closer to him, I could see that he was trying to lose his humor. His eyebrow rose, nonetheless. "Fierce, Bella? Perhaps in another life."

My ears pricked up at that comment. Whether he meant to or not, Edward had just given the perfect opening for a whole new discussion. If he didn’t want to tell me what was going on, then I was going to take this chance and run with it.

"Actually, now that you mention it…"

I watched as his eyes narrowed knowingly. He knew exactly what I was about to say.

It was his move. Did he want to talk about changing me, or would he rather honor his end of our agreement and answer my questions?

No surprise, he quickly interrupted me. "So, you have a couple things you wanted to ask me?"

Oh, he really was good.

Between bugging him for the umpteenth time to change me or getting him to tell me what had been bothering him, I chose asking the questions myself. There would be another time—I’d make sure of that—when I would get the chance to convince him that making me a vampire like him was what was best for everyone.

"Yes, I do," I said hurriedly. I’d been waiting for this moment. "Number one: when did you get here?" It was the same question I’d asked him before, when I first found him in my bedroom this morning, and I really wanted to know the answer.

"Shortly before dawn." The corner of his mouth curled upwards as he leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on top of my head. "I couldn’t stay away." Lowering his head so that his cool lips were at the base of my neck, he began placing soft butterfly kisses across my suddenly feverish skin.

Okay, I reminded myself, you have to focus, Bella. There are more important things at the moment other than how amazing Edward’s feathery kisses felt. It just took me a few muddled seconds to remember what some of those things could be.

I waited until he’d given up his assault on my neck—never the best place for Edward to linger, unless he was really testing his self-control—before I continued. "Did you move me?" It had nothing to do with yesterday but, for my own sanity, I had to know.

"I couldn’t find you and I got nervous. I could hear Charlie snoring down the hall but I didn’t know where you were." He was nuzzling my neck again. "I found you downstairs on the couch, all sprawled out, one arm hanging over the edge." Chuckling at the memory, his breath was tickling me again. "You looked so uncomfortable I just had to move you. Besides," he said and, as he moved his head back, I could see his eyes sparkling in amusement, "lying on your back like that gives you the tendency to snore."

"I do not snore!" I shot back defiantly.

"Yes, you do, Bella, but that’s all right. I love you anyway."

Full of denial and embarrassment, I quickly calculated my odds on winning this once—and they weren’t very good. I was better off dropping it and just returning to my questioning; we would talk about my nighttime noises later.

"Just be glad I’m not walking in my sleep," I mumbled. Then, before I gave him the chance to comment on that, I said, "You came back after all. Is everything okay at your house then? What happened yesterday?"

All traces of his humor, whether feigned or barely masked, were gone at once. I bet he never thought I’d every get around to asking that question.

"Remember, you said you’d answer any questions I had."

"That I did." He sighed and, while he didn’t loosen his hold on me, I felt him stiffen in the chair. Slowly, he began to rock it.

I decided to be uncharacteristically patient as I waited for him to continue. That patience lasted a grand total of thirty seconds. "Edward? You can tell me anything. You know that, right?"

I don’t know what it was about that but my sincere words brought a wistful smile to his face. "It’s nothing really, Bella. In fact, I’m not sure I should even bother you with it."

"I don’t mind," I said quickly, relieved that he wasn’t trying to weasel his way out of answering me. "Go on. Bother away."

"If you insist," he chuckled. "But don’t say I didn’t warn you."

"I won’t."

"Okay, you know how I told you that Alice saw Rosalie and Emmett coming back to Forks?" I nodded, eager to hear more. I already knew this part. "I’m not sure if you noticed, but I was a little taken aback by how quickly they arrived."

I had to work to fight back a disbelieving snort. "Oh, yes. I noticed." Now that was an understatement.

"Yes, well, while their imminent return had been predicted, none of us actually expected that they would arrive so soon. When they left for Africa, Rosalie hinted that she and Emmett would enjoy an extended honeymoon until the new semester of school had started. But it’s only August now and they were home. I couldn’t understand it, especially since Alice only knew of their decision to return that afternoon. Whatever had sent them home, it hadn’t been entirely planned. In fact, their decision had only been made that morning."

I listed to him speak, his soft voice lulling over me as he continued to rock the chair. I felt a twinge of guilt that Rosalie had given Edward the idea that she wouldn’t come back until he and Alice were attending classes at Forks High School again; it made me feel as if the only reason she’d whisked Emmett away was because she didn’t want to be in the house in case I was there with her brother. But that twinge was easily overlooked as I tried to understand exactly what he was saying.

Frowning, I attempted to work it out myself. "So, you weren’t all upset that they’d come home. It was not knowing what had sent them running back to Washington that got you worried?"

"Exactly. You know Emmett, he knows no fear. And Rosalie is more than capable of taking care of herself. There’s no creature, man or beast, that could send them scampering home—at least, that’s what I thought. I couldn’t understand why they’d come and it seems that they made a conscious decision to keep the information away from… from me, and from the family, until they made up their mind on how to handle the situation they created in Africa. When you and I met them in the foyer yesterday, there was nothing in their thoughts that alerted me and that, more than anything, made me frustrated. "

That was understandable. If there was one thing that I knew for sure, it was that Edward relied on his mindreading ability more than he would admit. It frustrated him to no end that, for the first time in his life, he actually had to ask someone what they were thinking; he hated not knowing immediately what was on my mind himself. It was no surprise that it annoyed him that Rosalie and Emmett had purposely kept something from him.

At least he knew how it felt now. Maybe, in the future, he would be more honest with me.

He lifted his right hand slowly, stroking my hair. "I hope I didn’t upset you with my worrying, but I couldn’t confide in you when I did not have the correct information myself."

Now that I was learning what had bothered him, my own worries seemed frivolous. I brushed his apologies aside. Besides, there was something about the way he answered my question that seemed… unfulfilled, almost. "You went home last night, right? Did you learn about the, uh, the situation?"

Situation, that’s what he’d called it. Situation did not sound good. I began to feel a little nervous. And Edward had said that he’d never known of anything that would make Emmett afraid… did that mean that this situation involved someone else apart from the two Cullens who’d been vacationing in Africa?

I really hoped not. I couldn’t even imagine what sort of thing would make Emmett even nervous.

"Yes. They—Rosalie and Emmett, that is—they met a fellow traveler in Africa. A fellow vampire," he clarified, and I was pretty sure I heard him hiss. I wondered what that was about. "They lodged together in a remote village, swapping stories and defending their lifestyles, but my siblings were unable to sway him from his preferred drink." He was scowling now. "They took leave of each other when he decided to go hunting but he’d promised he’d see them again—and soon."

Edward left his explanation at that. I really hoped that he didn’t mean what I thought he meant.

"And now they’re back here," I said, my memory recalling the big bear hug Emmett had given me yesterday, and the way Rosalie had ignored my very presence. "So what does that mean? This vampire… he’s coming?"

Edward nodded. "Alice sees him coming to Forks." His lips were drawn in a humorless grin. "She says he intends to be our dinner guest."

What? "Dinner?" I gasped.

I couldn’t help myself; even though I was usually very good at accepting the whole vampire, blood drinking thing, I felt my body tighten up in apprehension. The Cullens, being "vegetarians", chose to drink animal blood but that choice was very rare for their kind. Any other vampire who stumbled upon Forks would have a different food source in mind. Forks had already survived one attempted attack by a rogue vampire—I highly doubted my luck would hold up a second time. In fact, I was counting on it to do just the opposite. No wonder he didn’t want to tell me about any of this.

I hadn’t had that many nightmares since I returned from Phoenix; something about morphine gave me the ability to drown out much of the shock of that vampire attack in my old ballet studio. However, the prospect that another vampire of that sort was visiting Forks made me very wary.

Exhaling, I tried to let myself relax against Edward. I always felt safe in his arms and this time was no exception. He knew what was upsetting me immediately. I felt his hand rub my side soothingly.

"A poor choice of words on my part, Bella. Alice insists that he truly means no harm. He’s only searching us out to see this great and powerful coven that Emmett boasted about."

There was no denying the disapproving tone underlying his velvet voice. I could only imagine the additional scolding poor Emmett was given for his boasting. Knowing Emmett, he probably didn’t mind at all; if anything, he was eagerly awaiting the arrival of this new vampire if only to have someone to potentially fight. I had no doubt in my mind that, whatever it was that might’ve made him uncomfortable in Africa, he’d show no fear whatsoever back in Forks, surrounded by his family.

Emmett was always raring for a confrontation, alone or not—when Edward said his brother knew no fear, I knew exactly what he meant. I’ve never meant anyone so intimidating, so strong in my life. I managed a weak chuckle at the memory of how much Edward’s favorite brother had been itching to fight James when he was threatening me.

James… I remembered what happened the last time a nomadic vampire found his way to Forks. I was not eager to revisit that experience. I shuddered against Edward’s protective frame.

He gave my side a light squeeze. "There’s nothing to worry about."

His words did not reassure me. This scenario was all too familiar. "Nothing to worry about? That’s what Alice said about James too," I muttered, entirely aware of just how nervous I suddenly felt.

I think I might’ve been better off not knowing, after all.