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The Inevitable

Summary:
-Eclipse in Edward's Point if View- ~*~"It's more Inevitable than the sun rising in the East." -Alice Cullen Midnight Sun~*~


Notes:


16. Challenges

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Chapter 15

“Challenges”

I stared into Bella’s tired eyes, waiting for them to close. We had been lying in her bed for nearly two hours now and she had yet to try and sleep.

“It will be alright” I murmured again, for what felt like the hundredth time. She stared back at me, her eyes still reflecting the fear that had been there since we left my house earlier this evening.

“You don’t know that….” She whispered “What if….”

“It’s alright” I repeated, interrupting her. “Everything will be fine….we don’t even know if we truly are the targets of this… right now it’s more or less a theory”

“A Theory” She scoffed quietly. “Alice can’t see…It’s like you said, someone knows how Alice’s visions work...Why else would she not see…” her voice began to rise as panic edged slowly into her words “What if this is the Volturi...you said Aro wanted Alice….wanted you, what if….”

“Shhhh” I placed my finger against her warm lips. “Listen to me Bella, please.... If we are the targets then we will handle it, we have other contacts than just Tanya’s family. Carlisle has plenty of other friends ….” I gave her half a grin. “One of the advantages of being around for nearly four centuries is you come to know a lot of people.”

My attempt at making her smile failed and mine quickly faded. I sighed reaching up to brush her long hair over her shoulder. “And don’t forget that we have Jasper” I added quietly “he knows exactly how to deal with this type of thing, he’ll teach us anything we need to know.”

I watched her face closely, waiting for her body to relax. She sighed and glanced down, her dark lashes brushing against her cheek. “So if….” She paused and I could tell by the way her brow furrowed she was struggling to find the right words. “So if it comes down to it….everyone will fight?.....Esme and Alice…and…” She swallowed, biting her lip.

I lifted her chin up with my index finger “And?”

The room was dark but I could easily see and smell the moisture building up in her eyes. It glimmered in the moonlight and filled the warm air with a twinge of sweet salt. Bella reached up and placed her soft hand against my cheek “You?” She breathed quietly, “You will fight?”

I sighed placing my hand over hers, pressing it closer to my hard skin “Only if it comes to that” I paused, debating as I stared into her brown eyes. Then reluctantly I went on “But I won’t lie to you Bella, with the way things are going it seems that is our only option now.”

She took in a shaky breath and closed her eyes. I moved her hand to my lips and kissed it gently before I wrapped my arm around her waist, pulling her closer. Leaning down I pressed my forehead to hers. “Look at me Bella” I murmured softly. Her eyes opened, mere inches from mine. “It’s just a theory” I repeated.

Her mouth opened but I went on before she could protest. “I’ll admit it would be quite a stretch to say it was mere coincidence, the facts are too strong for that….but regardless, you have nothing to worry about tonight. We have plenty of time to prepare and if and when the time comes we will be ready”

I leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose, and then the side of her cheek. “Please don’t be anxious” I breathed into her skin, “You have enough to worry about because of me” I continued to kiss her softly, moving down her chin and across her neck. Her erratic heartbeat filled the room, making me smile. “Besides…” I murmured “You have other things you should be concentrating on”

“And…. what might… that be?” she asked breathlessly as I moved my lips softly over her heated throat. Her blood pulsed heavily beneath the thin layer of skin, the flaming scent filled my mouth, igniting the burn in the back of my throat into a blazing fire. I chuckled softly over the satisfying pain and moved upwards. “Your finales are right around the corner” I whispered, my lips skimming across her chin and up towards her ear. “Do not think the stack of homework on your desk has gone unnoticed.”

She stiffened in my arms and I automatically froze at the tension. Pulling back slightly I looked down to see that her face was hard, her eyes angry. “Well excuse me for being more worried about my family being hurt or worse, than if I pass my calculus finale” She had meant to sound sarcastic, but the slight tremor in her voice ruined it. She sighed shakily and looked over my head towards the window, breaking away from my gaze.

I stroked her cheek softly. “Trust me” I whispered. When she didn’t respond I positioned myself higher up on the bed and leaned in closer, leaving her no choice but to look at me. “Our family is very strong Bella”

To my astonishment she snorted softly and rolled her eyes. “I’ve heard that before”

I raised an eyebrow, my eyes questioning.

“Never mind” she mumbled, her lips turning up slightly.

“Alright” I said somewhat warily. Her mind never failed to confuse me with its silence….or drive me mad.

Bella studied my face for a second longer, looking more and more amused. Finally she chuckled.

“What?” I asked, smiling despite myself.

“Nothing” she said lightly

My eyes narrowed “You like doing that don’t you?”

“Doing what?” she asked innocently.

“You know what”

She shrugged, a smirk still playing on her lips. “Well I have to have something….my blocked mind is the only thing I have to play against your dazzling expertise”

Expertise?”

“Uh uh”

“Mmmm” I murmured, slowly closing the short distance between our lips. “Maybe I should practice said expertise”

Like always as soon as there was contact Bella’s heart accelerated. It filled the small room and pulsed the warm air around us.

Instinctively my hand reached back and cupped her neck lightly, at the same time I felt hers tangle in my hair, straining to pull me closer. When that didn’t work she pushed forward, bowing her body into my chest.

The heat from her touch instantly flooded through me, pulsing my insides with life. In the same instant two very familiar feelings clashed together: warning and pure pleasure. It was a never ending battle as my body yearned to continue and my mind screamed to stop.

The usual victor succeeded, and I reluctantly broke away. I leaned my face up towards the ceiling and took in a cleansing breath. Through Bella’s fast breathing I heard the unmistakable sigh of frustration. I chuckled and touched my forehead back to hers. “I think that’s enough practice for one night”

She pursed her lips, her eyes sparkling in the sliver of moonlight from the window. “I don’t know” she murmured sleepily “I think you could use some more practice” She yawned heavily making her words break up “After all…. practice makes ….perfect right?”

“Right” I agreed with a smile “but let us practice when your more rested”

Bella’s eyes blinked wearily, taking a little longer than normal to open up again. “Fine” she breathed, still fighting off sleep. She forced her eyes open again and continued to look at me through the darkness.

I reached up and ran my fingers across her forehead and down her cheek “Close your eyes” I whispered.

When she did what I asked I leaned in to kiss her forehead. I watched for a few seconds and when her eyes stayed closed I knew the fight was over and pulled the old quilt up over her shoulders.

Bella curled into my chest and wrapped a warm arm around my waist. Her face was now hidden in the fabric of my shirt, but I could hear her take a deep breath and slowly let it out before her body finally relaxed into my mine…fitting perfectly.

“Alice has completely lost her mind!” Bella began again as I parked in front of Charlie’s. Ever since lunch, when Alice had told Bella that the graduation party was still on, Bella had been very frustrated with my favorite sister. “I mean having a party is bad enough, did she really need to invite so many people?”

I tried desperately to keep the smile from my face as we walked up the sidewalk, but of course I failed miserably.

“I mean I don’t even know sixty-five people”

I rubbed Bella’s back as we stepped onto the porch “I know” I said soothingly, trying to speak without giving away the fact that I was grinning widely at her continuous rant. Something in my voice must have given me away though, because Bella suddenly stopped and spun around to look up at me.

I quickly wiped the smile away.

“What? You think this is funny?” she asked raising her eyebrows.

“No” I answered smoothly, fighting desperately to keep my lips from turning up. She continued to glare at me, her face still flushed and her brown eyes slightly narrowed.

She was so adorable.

“Well I’m glad you think Alice putting me through another night of torture is funny ”

Damn it! When had the smile come back?

With a little effort I straightened my features back out again. “Come on it’s not going to be that bad”

“Easy for you to say” she grumbled, turning away.

“Look at the bright side” I said lightly, wrapping my arm around her waist. “At least you won’t be forced to dance again”

She snorted as she unlocked the door. “Knowing Alice I probably will” she grumbled under her breath.

It was a hopeless fight and I finally gave into laughing. “I promise you no dancing”

She sighed throwing her book bag into a chair. “But still….”

“And….” I said cutting her off “I promise I’ll protect you from all the guests”

She looked up at me again and I didn’t even bother with removing the wide grin there. She rolled her eyes, but just before she turned to head towards the phone I saw the corner of her mouth twitch up.

Just like Alice had said there was message waiting for her. Bella sighed again, but it wasn’t frustrated…it was a sigh of relief.

I didn’t question her about it, I just listened as she pushed the playback button. Renee explained everything I already knew from Alice’s vision. Throwing in an apology between every other word. I smiled, it seemed Bella got her tendency to apologize beyond reason from her mother.

When the message ended with a beep, Bella gave another sigh of relief and leaned back onto the counter. “Well that’s one”

“One what?”

“One person I don’t have to worry about getting killed this week”

I rolled my eyes before I could stop myself. Would she ever worry about herself?

Bella look up and gave me the glare again. “Why won’t you and Alice take this seriously?...This is serious

I smiled down at her “Confidence”

“Wonderful” She grumbled turning back around to pick up the phone. I laughed and kissed the top of her head as she dialed. It rang a few times and then I heard Renee’s voice again.

“Hello?”

“Hey mom it’s me” Bella said, her face lighting up at the sound of her mother’s voice. Renee’s apologies began again instantly, leaving Bella no time to get anything out.

“It’s fine mom really” Bella said quickly when there was an opening.

“But honey this is your graduation. I feel horrible…are you sure your okay with…”

“Yes mom, it’s fine…. I understand”

“I don’t know” I heard Renee sigh heavily into the phone. “Are you sure you’re not angry with me?....I know you Bella and even if you were you wouldn’t…”

“Mom please, I’m not mad. I understand, Phil needs you right now.”

Renee was silent for a moment and when she spoke again I could easily hear the emotion in her voice. “But sweetie your graduation…I…”

“Mom stop….really it’s okay, don’t feel bad. Besides this is Forks, it’s not as if it will be a big thing. There’s only like a handful of people in my senior class”

There was another pause.

“Well…if your sure you’re not…”

“I’m not mad mom, promise”

“Alright, but you better…”

“Better take a lot of pictures, I know. I’ll make sure Charlie knows all the functions of my digital camera.”

“And…”

“And I’ll email them to you the very next day”

Renee gave a watery chuckle and sniffed. “Gosh I miss you so much”

Bella smiled softly “I know I miss you too.”

“I’ll make it up to you though” Renee went on quickly. “I promise”

“Alright, I’ll hold you to it…” Bella laughed “but right now just concentrate on Phil”

“Yeah I have my hands full at the moment…he’s so grouchy” Renee took a deep breath and it seemed like the apologies were finally over. “He absolutely hates the whole wheelchair thing, he argued with the doctors about it for nearly an hour …and don’t even get me started on the cast.”

Bella laughed again and leaned back into my chest. I wrapped my arms around her waist and rested my chin on her shoulder. “Sorry mom but I have to side with Phil on this one… Casts are no fun and wheelchairs are just plain humiliating”

I chuckled into Bella’s ear, remembering that first day of school after we had returned from Phoenix. Her face had stayed a permanent pink the whole day as I pushed –instead of walked- her to each of her classes.

Bella nudged me with her elbow and looked at me from the corner of her eye.

“Well I suppose he’ll think twice before he tries to show off his “sliding techniques” again” Renee said with another sigh.

“Besides the grouchy part, how’s he doing?” Bella asked

“Okay I suppose, though I know he’d feel a lot better if he’d take his pain medication…he’s almost as stubborn as you were”

Bella snorted “Oh come on I wasn’t that bad was I?”

“No you didn’t complain nearly as much as he does. It won’t be too much longer though and he’ll be able to use crutches… I think things will be better for him when he can actually move around on his own.”

Their conversation continued on. I was used to these calls though. I knew Renee was the type of person that once she began talking it was hard to stop her. And when she was on the phone with her daughter it was next to impossible.

So Like always I let my mind wonder from their conversation, let my attention focus on other things, things that would keep me patient during the long wait.

Bella laughed suddenly and shook her head. She had worn her hair down today and the dim light shinning in kitchen touched the long strands. Unable to resist myself I reached up and ran a my fingers lightly down the shinning follicles, marveling at the soft texture…it felt like warm silk against my cold fingers.

Gently I moved my hand beneath the curtain of brown and let the soft tresses flow between my fingers. The movement made the light reflect back multi colors and my sharp eyes picked up on the golden brown and light red mixed into the thick mahogany. At the same time the sweet scent of strawberry and freesia stirred through the air. I leaned in and breathed deeply through my nose, pleased that the venom did not build in my mouth the way it used to. Though the constant burn was there, and always would be, my instinctive reactions were growing dimmer with each passing day.

With a soft smile I moved Bella’s hair to one side, letting it hang over her left shoulder and reveal the back of her pale neck. Leaning in again I pressed my lips softly too the heated skin.

The familiar heart beat stuttered and then picked up quickly. My lips continued to graze lightly and as I reached the edge of her neck Bella tilted her head to one side. I smiled and gladly moved on, trailing kisses down the small part of her shoulder and back up again.

“Bella?....hello?”

“Breathe love” I whispered softly into her ear.

“yes…mom I’m …..um….I’m still hear” Bella said taking a deep breath. “sorry….uh” she cleared her throat “What…what did you say?”

Chuckling deeply I pulled away to behave myself.

Bella turned sideways in my arms, resting her head on my chest. Looking down I let my attention focus on her facial expressions. It was amazing to watch how her eyes would roll or her face pucker….she was so indulgent with Renee. It always astonished me at the reversed rolls between them.

Renee was so childlike, her mind kind and sweet but very oblivious to certain things and yet very observant at the same time. She really needed taken care of….she was very much a people person. Then Bella, she was so different….she was reserved, very perceptive, and mature in a way that was beyond her short number of years.

Due to these different qualities the roles of mother and daughter had been reversed somewhere along the way.

My eyes slid down to her mouth and my concentration diverted to the way her lips were moving rather than what she was saying. It was mesmerizing….. they would curve up slightly at the corners due something her mother would say, or purse together tightly to keep from laughing, or to keep from saying something she didn’t really want to voice.

A stray hair fell and blocked my view. Reaching down I gently moved back into place behind her ear, my fingers lightly grazing her cheek in the process, making the cream skin blaze a light pink. I smiled softly, as I always did at the reaction.

Bella looked up at me then and smiled softly. It was a gentle and simple gesture, but it made warmth spread throughout my chest.

For the first time something close to impatience began to trickle inside me as I began to wonder when their conversation would end.

I wanted those lips to something other than talking.

As soon as the phone clicked onto the receiver Bella twirled around, stretching onto her toes. It was like she had been reading my mind as she pressed her lips into mine. I smiled into her mouth and lifted her up onto the counter, giving us both easier access.

My mouth barley moved against hers, never giving way under the soft skin. I could only imagine what it would be like to finally kiss her freely, to be able to feel our lips mold together for the very first time.

An endless moment passed where there was nothing else in the world but the two of us, nothing but this moment.

And then of course reality had to step in.

Bella’s legs wrapped securely around my waist, while her hands grasped tightly in my hair.

Just like last night she pulled herself into me, crushing her unbelievably warm body into mine.

Two kinds of fire burst inside of me, both painful in their own way.

And both needed to be quenched before this went any further.

Pulling myself back I breathed in and exhaled slowly, trying to clear my mind.

As I took in Bella’s flushed face and slightly pouting lower lip I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Then with gentle force I removed her hold on me, untangling her legs and pushing her hands down. In the same second I did a half turn and leaned into the counter she was still sitting on.

I glanced sideways “I know you think I have some perfect unyielding self control….but that’s not actually the case.”

Bella sighed heavily “I wish”

I matched her sigh but didn’t comment. She had no idea…. simply wishing was an understatement for me. It was more like a longing desire….a necessity.

“Tomorrow after school I’m going hunting with Carlisle, Esme, and Rosalie” I began, but paused when I saw her face fall. “Just for a few hours” I went on quickly, I doubted I could ever go on another weekend hunt, or even an overnight one. The time apart just took too much out of both of us. “We’ll stay close. Alice, Jasper, and Emmet should be able to keep you safe.”

“Uhg…” Bella groaned, her shoulders slumping “I hate being babysat.”

“It’s temporary” I promised.

It was clear all the hiding out was wearing on her, especially if she was reaching the point of complaining about it. Bella always suffered silently, hardly ever voicing her troubles. It drove me insane but it was something too embed in her personality, a trait gained over the years by taking care of everyone else around her, putting their wishes above her own.

Of course I’d be lying to myself if I said a wasn’t somewhat grateful….after all it was that selfless quality that brought her to Forks in the first pace, that brought her to me.

“Jasper will be bored” Bella went on, looking at the floor “Emmet will make fun of me”

I smiled and lifted her chin up “They’ll be on their best behavior”

“Right” She mumbled, looking away. I sighed too low for her to hear and dropped my hand to the counter. Bella always being coped up was extremely unfair, I knew this….but I didn’t know any other way, there was just too much danger, too many things coming at us.

These things needed to be dealt with, and dealt with quickly. The pending attack on my family and most of all Victoria. All the dangers needed to be removed from my angel’s life so she could actually live what little time she had left with a beating heart…. live it properly without fear and hiding.

Bella’s head suddenly snapped up; distracting me from my thoughts. Her eyes were bright, but also very wary. “you know I haven’t been to La Push since the bonfire….” She hesitated, her perceptive eyes analyzing my face. My body had stiffened as I was taken off guard by her sudden suggestion, and I had to fight to keep my features straight.

It was bound to happen again, I reminded myself. I was able to let her go once, surely I could do it again.

And this time it wouldn’t be nearly as long.

“I’d be safe enough there” she went on softly.

I had promised her, and myself, that I would trust her….trust her judgment and in doing so trust my enemies.

Last time she had returned to me safe and….happy. The fact that I had nearly lost my mind during the never ending wait was nothing compared to the way she looked when she had returned. The trip had done her so much good, I couldn’t deny that. That night she was so lighthearted….her face relaxed and carefree in a way it hadn’t been for weeks.

“You’re probably right” I murmured, proud that my voice remained normal despite the familiar panic seeping into my chest.

Yes, I had willed myself to trust the wolfs to keep her safe and they had succeeded, but could I really watch her cross the line again? Watch her walk out of my sight and reach?

The thought of her walking away from me again, of watching the smile break across her face as she left my side to go to him….it hurt in so many different ways that separating the feelings and labeling each as they were was next to impossible.

Through the haze of emotions I was aware that Bella’s eyes were still on my face, her brow now furrowed.

I bit back a growl, disgusted with myself.

She knew me too well, she saw things hidden my features, things I used to be so well at hiding from everyone else. But not Bella. She saw something that had slipped through my mask, something even I was unaware of.

And of course, her being who she was, she quickly changed the subject. Steered it away from herself and straight on to me.

“Are you thirsty already?” She asked reaching up to touch the skin just below my eye.

Her warm touch did the trick and my muscles relaxed. “Not really” I sighed softly.

I wanted to leave it at that, I didn’t want to go into details and remind her of the upcoming fight. But she continued to look at me, her eyes clearly waiting for more.

“We want to be as strong as possible” I went on reluctantly, keeping my voice as casual as possible. “We’ll probably hunt again on the way, looking for bigger game”

Her dark eyebrows pulled together again “That makes you stronger?”

“Yes” I answered easily, glad that her curiosity was holding off the worry for the moment, “human blood makes us the strongest, though only fractionally. Jasper’s been thinking about cheating—adverse as he is to the idea he’s nothing if not practical—but he won’t suggest it. He knows what Carlisle will say”

“Will that help?” Bella’s tone of voice surprised me more than the question. Though she had spoken it quietly, there was no mistaking the suggestiveness laced into the words.

“It doesn’t matter” I said, my voice stern “we aren’t going to change who we are.”

She frowned, looking down again. Her cheeks flamed a light pink and I could tell from her expression that she was disappointed. If it was about what she had said or how I had answered I couldn’t tell.

Either way it didn’t matter and it would be a wasted effort trying to figure it out. I took a deep breath and quickly curved away from the subject. “That’s why they’re so strong of course.” I said, playing with her limitless curiosity. “The newborns are full of human blood—their own blood reacting to the change”

She looked up and as I had hoped her eyes were curious again. “It lingers in their tissues and strengthens them. Their bodies use it up slowly, like Jasper said, the strength starting to wane after about a year”

Bella suddenly grinned, “I strong will I be?”

I couldn’t help but grin back, despite the change of topic. “Stronger than I am”

Her eyes widened “Stronger than Emmet?” she asked incredulously

“Yes” I answered, my grin widening at the thought “Do me a favor and challenge him to an arm wrestling match. It would be a good experience for him.” My brother had yet to challenge someone stronger than himself and the thought of his huge head being deflated by my little Bella had me chuckling.

Bella laughed with me, her eyes still wide. She shook her head, unable to comprehend such a thing. I could easily understand why; Emmet was a beast…all things considered.

When silence fell between us I began to wonder if she was going to bring up La Push again. A part of me wanted her to, I didn’t want her to hold back because of me. But there was a much larger part that hoped she wouldn’t…..a part that kept me from bringing it up myself.

After a moment though, Bella broke the short silence with a sigh and leaned forward to hop down from the counter.

My hands automatically shot out to steady her, but she managed to land squarely on her feet for once—and stay there. “Alright, I guess now’s a good time to tackle that stack of homework on my desk” She looked up at me and smiled “Best to use my tutor while he’s still here”

I smiled back and nodded my head “At your service ma’am”

We worked late into the morning and part of the afternoon. Though she was still a bit worried I knew she had it down, Bella was smarter than she ever gave herself credit for. She had a quick mind and picked up things easily.

It wasn’t until about 2:00 that she sighed heavily and closed her history book with a sharp snap. “That’s all my brain can handle for one day I think”

I chuckled and grabbed the thick book from her lap, tossing it onto the bed beside us. “So what do you want to do now?” I asked.

When she didn’t answer I propped myself up on my elbow to peer up at her. She was sitting cross legged on the bed and when I met her gaze she quickly looked down, suddenly very interested in the pen she still held in her hands.

“Well I was thinking about….” She paused.

I waited.

“About?”

“Well I thought I should call Jake….you know, to make sure it’s alright if I went over there tomorrow” She looked up at me then, her eyes just as wary as they had been the first time she’d mentioned this.

Despite the plummeting of my stomach I gave her a smile. “Okay” I said easily.

She continued to look at me, her eyes inquiring. I knew she really wanted to go but I also knew she would rather stay than have it upset me. Something she had yet to grasp was the fact that I was more upset over her seeming to need my permission.

“Bella” I said softly, pulling myself up into a sitting position. “I told you the last time you didn’t need my consent to go somewhere. I know it’s probably my fault you think it’s necessary, considering the way I have been acting, but you’re a grown women…. I have no right to tell you what to do or who to see.”

“I know that” she said quickly “I just….well I don’t want you…”

“No” I interrupted her, putting my fingers over her mouth before she could finish her sentence. “It’s not about what I want or I feel, it’s about what you want.” She may put everyone else’s feelings above her own; Renee, Charlie, the dog…but it didn’t work like that for me, it never had and it never would. “I know how my family can be, I’ve lived them for a very long time. It makes perfect sense if you’d rather spend the day with your friends instead of being forced into a shopping trip or having Emmet ribbing you all day” I gave her another smile and she finally returned it, her face lighting up with excitement.

I concentrated on that, her beautiful smile, and tried my best to ignore the challenge awaiting me tomorrow.