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Dreaming I'm Alive

Summary:
After a speedy wedding, Edward & Bella return to find the Volturi on their way. Edward insists on running but when a man claiming to have a cure for vampirism shows up with an assassin on his tail, the lives of the Cullens are thrown into chaos. Meanwhile, Charlie struggles with the existence of vampires and having to let his daughter go. Bella learns about her real past and the question of why Edward can't hear her thoughts is answered once and for all.


Notes:
All smut has now been removed. Rated PG-13 for violence and minorly confusing plots. Every chapter is dedicated to a different Muse song.


1. Time is Running Out

Rating 0/5   Word Count 6004   Review this Chapter

--

“…to be endlessly cold within, and dreaming I’m alive.”

-Muse, “Hysteria”

--

I walked up the stairs, trembling at every creak of the boards. The house was so empty it practically echoed but I knew he’d be there, waiting for me. He’d probably be sitting in his favorite chair or on my bed. Just waiting. It was all we ever did anymore. I waited for him to age, which would never come. He waited for me to die, which he blamed himself for. And the world… the world waited for us to give up and part.

I saw the way Dad looked at me when I told him Edward was a vampire. Every thought in his head bled through to his face. In what seemed a millisecond, he went through all the stages of loss.

“You are not to see those people anymore,” he growled, pointing at me as if making sure I knew he was talking to me and me alone, despite being in an otherwise empty room. “Whatever cult brainwashing they did on you--”

“Dad!” I interrupted rudely but necessarily. “The Cullens are just as much family to me as you are. You will not badmouth them in front of me.”

“Bella, I’m not saying Edward is a deadbeat. You just told me he lives with vampires! I knew I shouldn’t have let you read all those fiction books. No one joined a cult from watching ESPN.”

I whispered to myself, “What do you call Joe’s Bar at Port Angeles?” He didn’t seem to hear or rather, he didn’t seem to care.

“No no no. I don’t care if we have to move, if I have to bring in the FBI to flush them out!”

“DAD!” I yelled again. I wondered if Edward could hear me, us. I told him to run away. I told him we’d meet again. But after seeing Charlie’s face, hearing his thoughts, I knew Edward feared the worst. He feared losing me. And, knowing Edward, maybe it was best if he was far away for a bit. I missed him the entire fight, pretending he stood next to me for strength.

Charlie stopped and brushed a hand over his stubbly chin, trying to calm himself. He sighed and put both hands on my shoulders. “Bella, that boy is not a vampire. He’s insane,” he said softly.

I just smiled at him. It was strangely nice to see him worry. When he calmed down, he wasn’t another obstacle standing between me and Edward. He was just my father, worried for my well-being.

“Charlie,” I whispered, leaning my forehead to his. “You saw what he did. He stopped that truck with his bare hands. He saved both our lives, Dad. He is what he is and I love him. Despite it… Because of it… We’re not regular teenagers. We can’t be split up with a few words of wisdom. You’ve always trusted my judgment. Trust me now. He is—well, he’s my protector, watching over me every moment of my life. He is a good man.”

“I don’t know what I saw, Bells.”

“Would you just sleep on it? You know what you saw. You’ll believe me eventually. I just want you to be calm and rational about it. Edward trusted me with his secret. I’m trusting you now, Dad.”

I turned around and walked out of his office. There was no Volvo waiting for me outside, just my old truck sitting right where I left it. I started to worry. Edward was always with me, even when I could not see him. He liked to swim through the minds of others to keep an eye on me. But I was alone now.

I started to draw the first, most logical conclusion: he and his family had packed up and moved before the lynch mob showed up at their door. I imagined going to school without Edward again, sleeping alone without his weight next to me, having no one wait for me anymore. I realized I had always prayed he’d turn me, that we’d spend the rest of our lives together. I never really planned what I’d do if he left again. Even those months he was away, the next moment was always up for grabs. I always held hope he’d return to me.

But there I was, in front of my bedroom door, praying he was waiting for me inside. My hand was on the knob but I just couldn’t turn it. What if I opened it and he wasn’t there? What if Charlie had scared him away?

I cleared my mind, gulped loudly, and pushed in the door. When I saw him leaning against the back wall, his hands in his pockets and his vision to the floor, I breathed out so deeply that it felt like hours since last I exhaled.

“Hi,” he whispered in his velvet voice. I smiled and took off my sweater, avoiding his sad eyes for just a minute. It was all the time I had to drum up the courage to avoid running into his arms. I knew he’d been out hunting but his eyes were still black. He hadn’t fed. I had to stay away.

“Hey you,” I finally answered, standing on the other side of my bed. I knew the bed would not stop him if he really wanted to go for my throat but I trusted him. I had to.

He made no attempt to separate from the wall. “Well? Did he see?”

“Yea, he saw. I told him what you were.” He furrowed his brow and looked darkly in my direction. “I had to tell him. I’m sorry. There was no way to avoid it, no lie strong enough.”

“I know,” he answered quickly. “I tried to stay away, not hear what he was thinking. Did he--”

“Tell me to stay away? As was expected,” I said with a small scoff. He started his slow stride around the bed towards me.

“And? Will you be staying away?” he asked, inches from my nose. His eyes scared me a little so up close. I had seen them dark before but he always kept it check. Today, he looked… hungry and unashamed.

He smirked lightly and I relaxed. “By your smile, you know the answer. I could never keep away. He thinks you’re crazy, though. Thinks you’ve brainwashed me into a cult or something.”

His hands found my waist and drew me in a bit more forcefully than usual. I knew it was the hunger and let it go. I felt pressed up against a wall so I arched my back to keep away from his lips but I’d have killed to kiss him again. His scent was already making me dizzy.

“Edward, have you fed?”

He shook his head. I gave him a look to tell him I was worried but he just studied me, my face and lips, the way a predator does its prey.

“No,” he said after a small moment of silence. “I shouldn’t stay long then. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

I felt like I was shooing him away which was the last thing I wanted. I wanted him there with me, holding me how he always did.

“Just… hurry back?”

My stomach felt hollow, caving in. I was eight years old again starring in my elementary school Christmas pageant. His eyes were heavy like that crowd’s. I must have said something, done something, because he suddenly looked apologetic. He’d just realized who I was and what had just happened and he blamed himself.

He licked his lips and went to back away but stopped. He stared down at the floor, fighting with himself to go.

“Do you smell that?” he asked, looking to the window then back at me. “Oh God, Bella…”

“Edward? What is it?” I whispered, knowing all too well what was going through his mind. He looked at my neck, heard my fast-paced heart, and it just called out for him louder and louder. “Edward?”

My voice did nothing to snap him out of it. I blinked and suddenly the wall next to my bathroom was behind me. My arms were up above my head and he had me pinned.

“Edward!” I called as if trying to wake him from the trance. “Edward, it’s me!”

“I know. I know, Bell,” he said, almost in tears, burying his face in my neck. I wish I could say I was scared but I wasn’t. His lips trailed kissed up my jawline and my bottomless pit of a stomach finally caved in. My heart was beating dangerously fast against my ribs and it was starting to hurt to breath.

I wondered if this was fear or lust.

He paused with his lips on my cheek and trembled like he wanted to cry. “I’m not afraid, Edward,” I reassured him. “But you’re not yourself. You need to take control again. You don’t want to do this.”

He chuckled and it brought back memories of James, the evil in his voice. I wanted to struggle but knew it was best to stand still and try to calm my heart. There was no way I could run anyway. He was too strong for me, the perfect hunter.

He seemed to calm though, since he didn’t really need to breathe, there was no sure way to tell. His shoulders seemed to relax and that was enough for me. I started to feel a great heat running up my spine like I was finally aware of my body now that the adrenaline seemed to wane. And so was he.

He smiled at me kindly. “Why are you so good to me?” he whispered into my cheek.

I tried to think of something to say that wouldn’t excite him but found nothing in my great library of words. So, I closed my eyes and let the words come of their own will. “Because I love you and I know who you are when this beast fades away. You are the kindest, most selfless person I’ve ever met and I know how much it would hurt you to hurt me.”

It wasn’t poetic but he understood. He kept his eyes closed and I could tell he’d stopped breathing as he pulled away, releasing my arms. He started to walk towards the window when my curiosity won the better of me.

“Edward?” I asked timidly, walking over to the bed. “When you go dark like that, what do you think about when you see me?”

“What?” He seemed genuinely confused.

“You always try to stay away. You go feed. I know it’s hunger but when you… when you kiss me like that… I--”

“You what?” He smirked the way I liked him to smirk, all the way to his eyes. He knew where I was taking the question but he still wanted me to say it.

“I can’t help but wonder if it’s—if it’s lust.” I looked down at my hands folded on my lap. I felt vane and a little self-conscious at the same time. If my boyfriend, nay fiancée, was fighting the urge to kiss me and hold me how he really wanted, what if there was an underlying reason he didn’t give in? Was it just the blood or was there more?

He laughed, ran over to kiss me on the lips one last time, then quickly ran out without an answer. Was the kiss his answer? I put it out of my mind. It was silly to even ask. I knew Edward wasn’t the physical type. He didn’t like to talk about desire because he struggled with it every day of his life.

But what about me? How could I not feel desire?

I lied down in bed but found my back was wet and cold with sweat. I got up and took a quick shower. The worries seemed to float about my head but I tried to set them aside and focus on what to do about Charlie. I just had no option but to hope he accepted Edward for what he was. He never liked him to begin with so it wasn’t going to be easy but I just had to convince him.

The truth was, I wasn’t sure how to keep him from doing something crazy. I went back into bed, beneath the warm covers, and quickly fell asleep. I didn’t realize how tired I was. After the adrenaline rush of nearly being hit by a truck (an even larger one than last time) and then Edward pinning me against a wall… I should have expected it. My body just collapsed into bed. I didn’t even notice he wasn’t there beside me, singing me my lullaby.

When I awoke, I immediately checked for him but I was still alone. I heard noises downstairs, pots. I’d forgotten to make Charlie dinner. I pulled off my sheets quickly and sought out my slippers before running downstairs to the kitchen. Charlie had already made himself a sandwich and was cleaning up.

I sighed and said, “Hey Dad. Sorry I forgot to make you dinner. I was so tired that I fell asleep.”

“I know,” he answered, his back to me. I couldn’t read anything from his tone. “I stopped by your room and saw you sleeping. You were calling out his name.”

I gulped, wondering what else I’d said. “Is that all? I do it often.”

He chuckled ominously as I went to sit down at the table. “So… he can walk in daylight,” he said calmly. “Does that mean the other myths are lies too?”

“Uh no. He—Well, he still drinks blood if that’s what you’re asking. Just, not human blood. He and his family only hunt animals, in the woods. They don’t hurt us,” I explained.

He finally set down the dried plate, turned around, and sat down beside me. “How can you be sure?”

“Because I’ve met vampires who do drink human blood and believe me, the Cullens are nothing like them.” I stopped and smiled at myself. “We have a little joke between us. We say they’re vegetarians.”

He didn’t find it funny so I stopped smiling too. I noticed he had deep, dark circles under his eyes. The horrible lighting in the kitchen wasn’t helping much either. I’d been insisting for a week that he change the bulbs.

Before he could ask anything else, I decided to jump in myself to show him I was willing to share, to be honest. It felt amazing to have someone else to talk to about it.

“Yes, they can come out in the daylight but their skin does something weird. It shines, kind of like diamonds, which is why they chose Forks to settle down.”

“All the rain.”

“Yea, exactly. They don’t eat human food, they don’t have fangs, and they don’t age.” I looked down at the scar on my wrist then continued, “Edward was born in 1901 in Chicago. He ‘died’ 1918 from the influenza. Carlisle was a doctor then too and saved him from the hospital, took him in as a son.”

“How old is Carlisle?”

“Uh, old.”

“How old?”

“Really, really old.”

He scoffed then looked at me. “I’m sorry Bells but this is all a bit much to take in. I just saw him stop a truck today with his bare hands. What do you expect? I had to tell the boys at the station that the truck hit a tree.”

“Yea, it was hard for me at first too.”

“A truck, Bella!” he exclaimed with a small laugh. He was starting to see the wonder of it all, the majesty of having something supernatural in our lives. “What else can they do?”

I laughed and continued, a bit more excited to share it with him. “They’re super fast. Edward’s carried me around sometimes and it’s like a rollercoaster! I nearly threw up at first. That’s why they drive so fast too.”

“Really? I’ve never had to give them a ticket.”

“Well they’d know if you were there.”

“How?”

“Well… Uhmm… Some of them have special gifts.”

He raised a curious eyebrow. He could tell I didn’t want to tell him. “Such as?” he insisted, leaning in.

“Well, you know Alice? She can sort of see the future. And Jasper can manipulate emotions. Keep everyone around him calm and reasonable. Emmett’s the strongest teddy bear you’ll ever see, stronger than Edward.”

“And Edward?”

I chuckled nervously. “Edward… Edward’s sort of a mind reader.”

“What do you mean sort of?”

“Ok forget the sort of. He can read your mind. All the time.” I put it out there, in the cold. It had to be said all at once, rip the Band-Aid off.

His eyes opened wide with the possibilities. His mouth turned into a scowl. “You mean he’s known what I’m thinking every time he’s—Son of a bitch!”

“I know it seems like an invasion of privacy but it’s not, I promise. He doesn’t tell anyone anything he hears and he’s pretty good at turning it off, like background noise.”

It still didn’t stop Charlie from standing up and going back to his plate.

“I don’t know if it helps but he can’t hear mine.”

“Your thoughts?” His curiosity made him face me again.

“Yea. We don’t know why. He just can’t hear me. It’s how we met.”

He nodded in understanding, his mind going a mile a minute. I could always tell by the way his eyes sped from one random object to another, anything to avoid looking at me.

“Listen,” he finally said. “I can’t—I can’t even begin to understand everything, what it means but... just give me a bit more time.”

“And you won’t tell anyone?”

He gulped but he didn’t turn away. He said it straight to my face so I’d know he wasn’t lying. “No. I don’t think anyone would believe me. But if I get so much as an inkling that he’s hurt you somehow, you are getting as far away from him as possible.”

“He would never hurt me, Charlie. He left last year so he wouldn’t. He loves me.”

“Okay. Okay. Just—Just keep him away from me from now on, okay? I don’t want him anywhere near my thoughts.”

“You won’t see him for a while, I promise. I want you to be okay with it too. And Dad, I really appreciate you trying,” I said softly. I reached my hand over the table and placed it atop his. He didn’t smile, just stared at it blankly. “Do you want me to bring Jasper by? He’s like a Xanax, I swear.”

He didn’t laugh.

“I’m going back to bed then, Dad. I’ll see you in the morning and I’ll make you breakfast, deal?” I said cheerily. He stared at a cabinet door which I knew to hold liquor. I didn’t say anything else. There’d be no point. His poor head was trying to process all the new information.

I felt a little bit better knowing he’d wanted to know more. He hadn’t closed himself off completely, hadn’t dismissed it as insanity. He couldn’t deny what he’d seen and he couldn’t deny that Edward had saved both our lives. My life on various occasions.

Tomorrow, I’d tell him all that, all the times Edward had saved me. Then I figured it was best if I didn’t mention James’ pack or all my “accidents” over the years. He was better off thinking I was clumsy.

--

When I woke up the next day, I found my door had been carefully unscrewed at the hinges and carried away. “CHARLIE!” I yelled out. “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY DOOR!?”

“Just in case, Bells!” he yelled back from the bottom of the stairs. I looked at my clock. It was 5AM. He hadn’t slept at all probably. I laughed a little on my way to the bathroom, knowing that the door didn’t really mean much. Edward could hear when he was near and simply hide. It was better I didn’t say anything.

“Oh God, Charlie!” I called on my way down the stairs, having changed into some jeans and a tank top. It was a Sunday and I wasn’t feeling too confrontational. If it made him feel better to have the door off, I’d leave the door off. “You didn’t need to do that, you know. Premarital sex was kind of a big no-no in 1918. Edward’s too much of a gentleman.”

When I saw Charlie for the first time, I couldn’t help but laugh. He was in an apron that had been sprayed with paint. From where, I hadn’t the faintest clue but I made a note not to lean against any walls for the rest of the day. He was mopping the living room. I’m sure he would have vacuumed if I wasn’t asleep.

“Gentlemen are still men and worse if they’re vampires,” he said, waving a finger in the air.

“Oh come on,” I laughed again, taking out some eggs from the fridge and making us some scrambled eggs with toast. It was all we really had in the house and I promised him breakfast. Cereal just wouldn’t cut it. “Come to the table, Charlie.”

I told him to take the day off, go fishing, anything to get his mind off the Cullens. Then I left, without explanation of any kind. He knew where I was going. I was going to find Edward.

I got in my car and drove to the Cullen house. The cars seemed to be in the garage. Before my fist even reached the door, Alice opened, greeting me with a grand smile.

“Hey, kid,” she said, stepping aside for me to come in. “Did you change your perfume?”

“No, I don’t wear perfume. Is he back?” I asked. She knew exactly what I was talking about.

“No, he and Emmett are still up in the mountains. He’ll be back really soon.”

“Do you mind if I wait?”

She pulled me to the living room where Esme was cuddled up next to Carlisle, both reading some very large books. Esme’s was a romance novel. Carlisle’s was some medical journal in a language I didn’t quite know. It looked Russian but I had no way of telling. They both set the books down when they saw me enter.

“How are you, dear?” asked Esme, coming to hug me.

“I’m fine,” I answered, going to sit on the sofa in front of them beside Alice. “Where are Jasper and Rosalie?”

“Rosalie’s upstairs and Jasper’s running some errands. So Charlie finally found out, eh?” Carlisle asked.

I laughed. “Yea, he’s taking it okay. There’s not much the poor guy can do so he’s taken up compulsive cleaning and, for some reason, the door off my room.”

They all laughed too, especially Alice, which made Rosalie shut her door upstairs. I looked up but didn’t pay it any mind.

I looked down, ashamed to have to ask them. “Only, it’s probably best if you guys try to avoid him as much as possible for a little while. He’s still dealing with it and he was just terrified when he saw what Edward did to that truck.”

“You’ve explained to him our ways?” asked Esme.

I nodded with a sigh. “He’ll be fine,” I told myself more so than them.

Alice looked out into the forest behind the house and pointed for me to see them coming in the distance. Emmett and Edward, their bloody shirts in their hands and their hair sopping wet.

“Hey you,” Edward greeted me, bending down to kiss me quickly on the lips. I tried not to stare at his chest but it glistened like wet marble in the sunlight. Alice noticed my evasion and giggled beside me. He took my hand and pulled me up to his room without much greeting to the rest of his family. The others just seemed to smirk and go back to what they were doing.

Up the stairs, Edward threw his dirty shirt into the hamper and turned to me. He seemed gleeful and energetic and I wondered if he was always like this right after a hunt. He also seemed careless so I made a point to watch out for him.

“You seem happy,” I said, watching him dry with a towel from his linen closet. He ruffled his hair and I laughed, truly happy to watch him smile. He must have heard my heart jump with excitement. There was no point in hiding it.

“I am happy,” he answered, coming towards me. “You’re here. Of course I’m happy!”

He lifted me up by the waist and spun me around. “Edward, I just ate!” I called and he set me down smiling.

I sat down on his bed and watched him put on a shirt quietly. “Enjoying the view?” he asked coyly. I blushed. “Oh don’t do that to me. You know I can’t resist you when you blush.”

Now I was getting curious. He was never so flirtatious anymore. He walked up to me, his shirt still open, and kissed me passionately, bending me back onto the bed. I let my head fall back and his lips found my neck and my chest until he stopped at the rim of my tank top. I waited for him to move but he didn’t. He just relaxed over me, his ear over my heart.

He was so cold, more so than usual, so I shivered and he quickly moved off me. My body instantly missed having him atop me, the weight of him. I grabbed hold of his shirt and pulled him back in, to my lips, but he got off the bed and started to button up. I felt defeated, yet again.

“Why the sudden glee, the kisses?” I asked to break the silence, sitting up again on the bed. Since they’d put it in, the couch just didn’t seem so appetizing. He didn’t answer me, just focused on his buttons. “Is this about what I said last night ‘cause I—”

He was suddenly sitting on the bed next to me, leaning into me. He was running all over the place, carefree. It almost hurt me to snap him out of it.

“Maybe,” he finally answered in his velvet voice, his smirk proud. “I had a bit of a talk with Emmett last night and—“

“And?” There was no way I was letting him stop there.

“And maybe I’ve been neglecting some of my duties as boyfriend.”

“Duties? What? No! I didn’t mean it that way!” I snapped.

He put a finger over my lips. “I can’t really break some of my own rules but it isn’t right that you should feel, in any way, undesirable.”

“Well I didn’t exactly mean I felt undesirable--” I began but he cut me off again.

He leaned his forehead to mine and his honey gold eyes bore into me. He continued, “And I want you to know that if I were just a man, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second.”

I could have sworn I heard the smallest growl behind his last words. I have to admit it made me smile. “I know that and I didn’t mean anything by it yesterday. The day just drained me and having me up against that wall and then you suddenly going. Well, I hoped maybe you’d actually go through with it.”

He sighed and looked off to the slightly ajar door, pulling away to go close it. I reached out for his face before he could rush off and kept him still, caressing his cheek.

“And just so you know,” I joked, “if I were a vampire, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second either.”

He didn’t find it so funny but he kissed me nonetheless and went on to close the door. “What plans do you have today?”

I shrugged. “No real plans. I’m sure you heard from the others about Charlie wanting you guys to keep off, right?”

“Yup. Believe me, it’s not a problem. Have you really eaten?”

“Yup,” I mimicked. “I can tell you have too.”

“I figured we’d go somewhere. A movie? That bookstore in Port Angeles?”

His tone shifted ever so slightly. Only his family and I would notice it. He was hiding something or rather, he had ulterior motives. I squinted my eyes at him and raised an eyebrow. “Yea,” I said doubtingly. “Sounds fine.”

He extended a hand out for me and pulled me up and down the stairs quickly. Alice, knowing we’d be leaving in a rush, winked at Edward and pulled open the door for us.

“Hold on!” I shouted. “I’m clumsy enough as it is! This is just a safety hazard!”

He stopped, pulled me up into his arms and carried me to the Volvo. I squealed in surprise but clung onto him as he sped off towards the car. I barely had time to put on my seat belt before we were on our way to the highway and onto Port Angeles. He drove while I fiddled with the radio. There was nothing good on so I slipped in one of his CDs and closed my eyes to stop the motion sickness.

We didn’t slow down till we were right in the center of town. We didn’t talk the whole ride. It was more comfortable just to lie back and listen to the piano keys work their magic. I nearly fell asleep but the car jerked to a stop and before I knew it, we were perfectly parked in front of Deveraux Books. We spent a good two hours looking through the stands. He spent a half hour on the Harlan Coben selection while I browsed the Judy Blume section with great nostalgia.

Then I stumbled into the antique book section and found a 40-year-old collector’s set of all of Shakespeare’s works. My heart did a double jump and I quickly looked around. Edward was smiling and I knew he’d heard. It was so wonderful having someone know exactly what excited me and to what degree. I looked at those books, aged and broken but their message intact, and I thought of Edward. I brought them to my nose, tightly to my chest. I didn’t care how much they cost. I wanted them.

I kept looking around, the books to my chest all the while. When it was time to leave, Edward was waiting for me by the door, a bag in his hand.

“Give me a sec,” I told him. “I just have to pay for these.”

The shopkeep shook his head. “It’s taken care of,” the old man said and nodded towards Edward. I growled in his direction but didn’t complain. The books cost hundreds. I couldn’t afford them without him. I told myself I had to get used to this. Seeing his face light up when he saw me hug the books was enough to set aside all those worries and misgivings. If it made him happy, I was going to have to learn to let him buy me anything he wanted. Money didn’t mean anything to him, I figured.

“You know,” I told him in the car. “I’ve been selfish.”

“You’re anything but selfish, Bella.” He started the car but we didn’t leave the parking lot. He smelled a serious conversation on the way.

“I have,” I whispered, lovingly running a hand over my new old books. “They remind me so much of you, of everything you mean to me.”

“They’re old books,” he said with a laugh.

I smiled but I didn’t look up from the dusty leather cover resting on my lap. Charlie’s warnings rung in my head. I thought of the year before, of losing him. So, I swallowed all my reservations and, in a rush of adrenaline, asked, “Edward, marry me.”

He pretended to gasp. He thought I was kidding. I shot up at him and he saw in my eyes I was serious. “What, like now?”

I gulped and nodded. “Now. Vegas. City Hall. Anywhere. I want something to prove we’ll last forever.”

“But… why now?”

I knew he’d always wanted a big wedding for us and it hurt me to insist but I couldn’t take it anymore. The mere thought of Charlie tearing us apart, of college drawing closer, of the Volturi and Victoria… of Jacob… There was too much against us.

“You don’t have to turn me yet if you don’t want. I mean, I know you don’t want, but I just--”

His chilly hand caressed my cheek and drew me in. My hands left the book cover and rested on his chest. When he parted, I breathed in deeply and realized I was crying. He wiped the tears away with his thumbs and smiled down at me.

He pulled out a small, black velvet box from his jacket pocket and opened it up before me. His mother’s ring. The tears stopped by themselves, the ring went on my finger, and soon we were on the road heading to the airport.

“How did you know I’d ask today?” I wondered on the way. “I just decided it right now. How could Alice have seen?”

“Actually, she wouldn’t have. But I’d actually decided last night to ask you again – thanks to Emmett in large part – and Alice slipped me the ring before you even got to the house.”

“Are you serious?” I said with a laugh. I covered the books up again with the white tissue paper and slipped them back into the paper bag the shopkeeper had given me. I braced myself as he sped up.

While he got the tickets at the desk, I found a pay phone and called Charlie. No one answered at the house or his office. I hoped he’d gone fishing like I’d told him. I dialed the Cullen house next and was greeted by a large squeal.

“Hello Alice,” I said with a great laugh. Of course she would know

“You hold out this long then decide to go for it all of a sudden?! Why do you torture me so?” she exclaimed. Edward saw me laugh from the desk. “Tell Edward I already reserved seats for you two to Vegas. He just has to drop his name.”

I looked over to him again in the distance. “Oh damn,” I whispered.

“What?”

“The girl at the desk is flirting with him.”

“So? In a few hours, there’ll be a ring on his finger and the whole world will know he’s yours.”

My heart did a double take. I looked back at him. The girl had just handed him the boarding passes with a great grin. He took them graciously, said something, and she turned sour.

“Ha!” I said with certain malice. “I think he’s just told the girl he’s getting married ‘cause her face just fell 40 stories.”

He pointed at me and she waved sadly. I waved back and returned my attention to Alice. “There’s a hotel all set up for you too. I’ll call Charlie once he gets home to tell him about it. I don’t want you to worry about a thing. Just be back tomorrow night.”

Edward came up to me and pulled the phone away. The girl at the desk was still staring at us which made me a little nervous. I didn’t have to be Edward to know what she was thinking. How could I be marrying someone like Edward? I was going to have to get used to that too.

While Edward talked to Alice about the hotel and something they had planned for tomorrow, I tried not to mind the girl at the desk. She walked up to another woman next to her at the desk and whispered something in her ear. I blushed and looked away. Without me noticing, Edward had rounded my waist with his free arm and pulled me towards him. It made me feel protected and the two girls didn’t even phase my radar. When my eyes found Edward again, every other thought died away.

“She wants to talk to you,” he said in his softest velvet voice. I put the phone to my ear and he began to kiss my neck. “We have an audience.”

I knew he was talking about the girls so I tried to ignore his kisses and focus on Alice. It didn’t mean anything with someone watching. The kisses were just for show.

“I forgot to tell you,” she said, rushed. “Your dress and his tux are going to be waiting for you when you land so pick them up from baggage claim. Edward has the numbers, the name of the chapel…”

Our plane was called on the PA and Edward gently started to pull me away from the phone. “Okay. Love you, Alice! Give my best to everyone over there and watch out for Charlie and Jacob for me.”

She waited a moment to respond but eventually answered, “I will! I will!”

Then we were running. And it felt like we never stopped from that moment on.

--

To be continued...