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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.


2. Fury

Rating 0/5   Word Count 7348   Review this Chapter

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CHAPTER TWO: Fury

--

We landed at night. The chapel was small and classy. No Elvis in sight. My dress was surprisingly simple, not the one Alice had originally planned for me but it would look strange if I showed up in a 1918 wedding dress to a Vegas chapel.

I just faced Edward the whole time and as long as I kept my eyes on him, I was safe and the whole ceremony was just a small stepping stone. I repeated everything the priest said and tried not to trip on the way back. Simple. Easy. And yet, I could see in his eyes that this was the greatest moment of his life. We had time, I told myself, for a bigger wedding. We could do what Rosalie and Emmett did and marry again every couple of years.

This marriage was just for Edward’s god, not for us. We were one the moment we met. He knew it. I knew it. And now the world was going to find out.

The hotel really wasn’t small at all. It was a similar décor to the Cullen house, all white and simple with great glass windows. When I questioned Edward about it, he said they apparently owned it. I wasn’t surprised which meant I was finally getting used to it.

Our room was the honeymoon suite on the very top floor. The entire roof was made of glass so we could see what few stars there were. The moment I stepped inside, it hit me. The honeymoon. I hadn’t really thought about it, his promise. He was going to make love to me tonight. And then, if he so chose, he could make me his forever. A vampire.

He carried the suitcases so he didn’t really realize I’d crossed the threshold on my own two feet. When I looked back at him, he looked to the door and it hit him. So, he dropped the suitcases, closed the door and drew in to me. His eyes seemed to beg permission. I didn’t know if it was mine to give. I’d been begging for him forever. He just wouldn’t give in.

Now, faced with the fact that he couldn’t escape me, us, he looked sadder. He seemed to concentrate on my face. I wish I’d put on a bit more make-up. Alice had slipped into the suitcase some dark red lipstick and a matching red rose. The rose I’d placed in my hair, behind my ear. He gently pulled it out and threw it on an armchair by the window.

My heart started to speed up by itself, slowly but stubbornly loud. The closer he got, the louder it beat for him. I knew it was just making it more dangerous for both of us so I put a hand on his chest to keep him at bay. I noticed the ring on my finger when I did and smiled at it. He covered my hand with his.

“Hold on,” I said. I ventured from his path, towards the bathroom.

I felt queasy with anticipation. I held onto my stomach and looked in the mirror. I smeared the lipstick off with the back of my hand and went to find a towel or some toilet paper to get it all off when the door squeaked open and he walked in. My heart went wild again.

He could tell from my face how scared I was, how quickly I’d stepped into the unknown. When he caressed my cheek, we both trembled.

“Shhh…” he whispered, gently pushing me up against the counter to kiss me. One hand on my cheek, one around my waist, and I was his. Cornered.

“Go slow,” I breathed as he went to undue the buttons down the front of my dress. I wondered if Alice had intended it to be so hard to get out of. The longer he took, the more I just wanted him to rip the buttons off.

He buried his face in my neck and whispered, “God, you smell so good.”

I wanted to stop right there, not that being seen as food wasn’t a huge compliment. But with him, I knew it was dangerous.

“Slower,” I said again. The dress fell by my ankles. I didn’t even bother with the buttons on his white shirt. I just pulled it out and up over his head with trembling hands. Every time he pulled away, he just longed for my lips more and hurried back for them. I prayed he didn’t bite my lip. I knew any little thing could mean endless pain or endless pleasure. Who knows how I smelled to him right now.

My hands, which had been braced to the granite counter behind me, locked behind his neck. His hand trailed down from my cheek all the way to my thigh, wrapping both my legs around his waist. The silk negligee Alice had put in the suitcase suddenly made sense. There was no fumbling with panties and bras. I must have looked like something out of 1918 and it made me smile to be able to give him a bit of the human life he missed.

He carried me into the glass shower, a large octagon of panes against the back wall. There was a Jacuzzi in the corner as well so I wondered why he didn’t go there where we could lie back. Then I realized how I must smell. Before we even completely undressed, he turned on the shower with a surreptitious hand.

I slipped off his waist and stood against the glass pane. My silk slip started to stick to me with the falling water. I hoped the water drowned out my smell but it didn’t seem to help. He backed up against another pane and looked at me, his teeth bared. I tried to smile but I must have still looked terrified because he didn’t keep going. I could feel he wanted me. He was just as excited as I was.

But he just stopped.

My shoulders dropped and I relaxed. He suddenly looked so young, his bronze hair sticking to his forehead. I didn’t ask why he didn’t go on. He must have reached a point he knew he couldn’t go back from and wouldn’t bear the risk.

I stepped across the shower and caressed his cheek. He kissed the palm of my hand. I waited to see his face change, for him to come back to me. His eyes were still honey gold, thank God, and he’d stopped trembling. I wanted to say I was sorry but there was no point. I couldn’t leave him there either, alone.

I realized then we hadn’t actually talked since we said our vows. I waited a few more minutes against the pane opposite him, the whole empty shower between us. The sound of the falling water relaxed my heart. I noticed Edward wasn’t breathing.

We both slid down to the floor and waited the night, the thick stream of water separating us. There came a knock at the door around midnight. I turned off the shower and slipped on a fluffy white robe that hung on the wall. Edward watched me go.

It was a bellman. “Yes?” I asked.

“Mrs. Cullen? Compliments of your sister-in-law,” he said with a jolly demeanor and rolled in a room service cart. I realized I hadn’t eaten since the plane. I shut the door to the bathroom quietly as he revealed a plate of the most beautiful ravioli I had ever seen. I laughed and made a point to thank Alice.

“Thank you,” I said and he quickly left. I felt something cold beneath my feet and saw I was dripping all over the white carpet so I scurried back to the bathroom before digging in.

Edward was still crouched down in the shower. “It was just room service, courtesy of Alice.”

He gave a nod like he understood but he still wouldn’t speak.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come keep me company while I eat?” I asked sweetly, biting my bottom lip. I was so hungry. He seemed confused so I nodded towards the bedroom. “Come on.”

I opened the shower door, took his hand, and pulled him out. I reached for some towels and went to dry him off, ruffling his hair playfully the way he’d done that morning. He stared at me despondently but I just smiled and ignored it. He had done nothing wrong. We had done nothing wrong. We were married now. The rest of our lives was a honeymoon. I didn’t even want to know the crazy, irrational thoughts going through his head.

“You know the room service guy called me Mrs. Cullen?” I said, trying to make conversation.

His lips slowly curled into a smile. “I heard.”

“Of course you did,” I laughed. I’d forgotten what he could do. I looked up at the faint stars. “It’s so late but I don’t think I could sleep. Looks like I’ll be keeping you company after all.”

I set down some towels on the bed and went to sit with my plate of food. I tried not to eat too quickly but I was starving. He watched from afar until I extended a hand for him to come closer. He sat beside me in bed and watched me eat, heard me talk. He still didn’t speak but I couldn’t stop talking, trying to fill up the silence with trivial talk.

“I’m sorry,” he said out of the blue.

“What?” I jumped, his voice familiar yet strange like it’d been ages since he’d spoken.

“I am so sorry.” He couldn’t even bring himself to say for what.

“For what? Not killing me?” I joked. “I should thank you for indulging me in this little joyride as much as you did. I should have known it was too dangerous.”

His eyes opened wide. “What! No!” he shouted, reaching for my hand. “You’re human, Bella. You deserve a real human experience. You’re right to want it.”

I scoffed. “And you don’t?”

“I’m not human.”

“You are to me!” I shouted, putting the fork down and taking the plate back to the cart. My spine seemed to heat up with rage so I took off my robe. The slip was dry now but I didn’t even want to think how my hair looked. I climbed back into bed and took both his hands. “We have the rest of our lives to try again.”

He didn’t seem to blink, just stare at me. He wanted to say something, I knew, but it was as if it would unravel us. And it did.

“You deserve to have someone who doesn’t think about draining you dry every second they’re with you. It was silly of us to rush this… I should have let you go with him,” he whispered at the end, looking down at our hands.

I pulled away. “What?” I yelled, outraged.

“I should have let him take you away from me. He wouldn’t have had to stop back there and you know it. He could age with you. He could share a meal with you.”

I stared at his with my mouth slightly open. “Are you seriously telling me to go off with Jacob on our honeymoon?”

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while, Bella. I want you to have everything.”

I stopped breathing. My hand automatically shot up and slapped him. “You do not get to say those things!” I cried, unaware of my actual tears. “Not now, not ever! I LOVE YOU, DAMMIT! I will not sleep with Jacob just for the experience and I will never – are you hearing me? – NEVER leave you. Damn the ‘experiences’ and the damn gushy moments.”

“Bella…”

“I don’t want anyone else! You’ll just have to deal with it!”

“You shouldn’t have to wait.”

“I want to wait,” I snapped yet again.

I stopped when he stopped and took in how I felt. I was… devastated. My chest heaved, my voice croaked, and my hand hurt from hitting him.

With what little voice I could muster, I squeaked out, “Edward, don’t make me cry on my honeymoon.”

His face lit up like he’d suddenly woken, like he’d only just noticed I was crying. He shook his head and pulled me in to his chest.

“No no no no no…” he repeated. “Don’t cry for me, baby. Don’t cry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

He kissed my forehead and hugged me tighter. I’d have a bruise on my arm in the morning but I didn’t want to say anything. He laid me down on my side on the bed and ran his hand through my hair till I calmed down and fell asleep.

--

I was woken by a blinding white light. I was still on my side on the bed, Edward beside me in his black pants. The sun from the glass roof made his skin almost glow. He noticed how it hurt my eyes and quickly went to the button by the doors that closed the sunroof. Two large white panels slid closed above us.

When I looked down, he was smiling at me in the dark. I could tell he went for the lights but asked him to stop.

“No,” I said. “No lights. I like the dark. It makes me feel like we’re back in my room.”

He came back into bed and snuggled in close. He grazed the bruise on my arm and I winced, which made him curious. He sat up a bit for a closer look and reached over to the lamp on the bedside table behind me.

“Bella, did I do this?” he asked though he knew the answer.

“Don’t worry. It’s just a bruise.”

“It’s not just a bruise. I did that.”

“Relax!” I commanded, sitting up too. I didn’t feel like staying in bed anymore. I noticed another cart of food by the door, another red rose in the single, tall vase.

He lost all emotion in his voice. “It’s going to start raining in about two hours. We can head for the airport then.”

I couldn’t believe I was scolding him so early in the marriage. What had happened to the glee of last night, to his soft caresses? I knew I had to calm down, before I said something I didn’t mean.

“You know what?” I said with a bright smile. “I think I really need another shower.”

I’d never played the seductress role but I slowly slipped off the thin straps on my negligee and let it fall to the ground. I walked stark naked into the bathroom and left the door open. He went to the stereo and put on some music. It sounded like Stairway to Heaven, to which I smiled.

I turned on the shower and waited for him outside. He walked in timidly, unsure of where he belonged. My heart was still, despite my obvious vulnerability.

“Just a shower,” I said sweetly. He took off his pants and came in after me. It wasn’t at all erotic but it was nice to see him smile again, to have him feel like he could touch me without fear. It was the beginning of intimacy and then finally, I started to feel like Mrs. Cullen.

--

I slept the entire airplane ride back. I woke up holding Edward’s hand and didn’t let go of it till we saw the Cullens and I was suddenly bombarded by hugs and tears, mostly from Esme. I’d never seen her so emotional. She acted like she hadn’t seen me in years.

Rosalie was her usual icy self but she managed to hug us both and smile when she saw us. I must admit it took me by surprise though I knew her only problem with me was over turning me. She was, despite it all, happy to see Edward married and loved. She didn’t quite say it but her smile was enough for us to understand.

Emmett just messed up my hair and called me Sis, standing back to laugh at the others’ guffaws. Jasper just stood with his arm around Alice. He congratulated us, bowed gentlemanly-like at me, and shook Edward’s hand. It was all he could bear to do but from what I could tell, he was filling in Edward quietly. They didn’t even flinch so it couldn’t have been too bad, just stared off strangely for a bit as they and Alice shared thoughts. I wondered if it was for my benefit that they kept composure.

Edward drove me to Charlie’s. I asked him to wait outside for a moment. If I didn’t call for him, I told him to meet me in my room later. He nodded and kissed me good luck.

I took a deep breath and opened the door. Charlie was inside, as Edward had said, sitting at the kitchen table with a bottle of bourbon. I scoffed and took the bottle away. He grabbed my hand a bit roughly to see the ring. He let me go gently.

“Hey Dad,” I said softly with a small smile, anything to reassure him. “How you doin’?”

“How could you--” he began and looked off the bottle of bourbon on the counter across the kitchen. He must have figured it was too far away and faced me again. “How could you just leave like that without even calling me?”

“Of course I call you, Charlie. You weren’t home or at the office. I keep telling you to get a cell…”

“And then sending that—that thing to tell me you were MARRIED?” He was starting to get a bit too loud. I’d never seen him drink like this. He was a depressing drunk but at least not an angry one. He seemed more devastated than mad.

“It was my idea. Spur of the moment. He’s proposed to me before but something about this week just made me want to get it over with,” I explained, as calmly as I could. “When you told me you didn’t want me to see him anymore, even if just for that moment, I felt like it was last year all over again. This time, if he ever left or if something happened, I’d always know we were real. Official. The real deal. Married.”

He smirked, drawing circles in the wood grain of the table with his index finger. “I remember feeling that. It didn’t change anything. She still left.”

I sighed and leaned forward onto the table. “But you got me. Would you regret having me, falling in love with her at all? Dad, Edward and I are different. God, are we different. When he says forever, he means forever.”

He sat up suddenly. “Are you one of them now?” he asked, inspecting my neck.

I tried not to laugh. “No, it doesn’t work like that.”

“So you’re still human?”

“Yes, still human,” I said a little sadder. He must have picked up on it.

“Where is he, then?”

I smiled. “I asked him to wait outside.” I looked to the door and said at the same low tone, “Edward, you can come in now.”

The door opened and Edward came walking in calmly. He seemed a little scared, which I smirked at. After all, he was meeting the father-in-law.

“So…” Charlie said, standing up to shake his hand. “1918, eh?”

I laughed. Charlie didn’t really find it that funny. Edward’s eyes opened wide, realizing what he meant. “I promise you, sir, it wasn’t like that. We didn’t... I mean, we haven’t…”

“You can seriously stop, Edward,” I cut in. “It’s none of his business.”

Charlie turned to me and with a devious, drunken slur, said, “Call your mother.”

Then, he went upstairs to bed and we didn’t see him the rest of the day. His last words did leave me with a giant ball of guilt in my throat. I hadn’t called Mom. I hadn’t told Jacob, as if he’d even speak to me anymore.

Edward brought me the phone then sat down in front of me. I breathed in as deeply as I could and dialed. She picked up quickly, her voice eerily cheerful. “Hello?”

“Hey, Mom. It’s me.”

“Bella! How are you, sweety?”

I gulped and looked at Edward, who squeezed my hand on the table. I tried to sound as cheery as her but I sucked at it. Like a Band-Aid, I reminded myself. Blunt. To the point.

“Mom, I have some good news. Yesterday, as a sort of spur of the moment kind of thing, Edward and I flew off to Vegas and got married.”

I closed my eyes and waited for the loud, “WHAT?!” but it never came.

“Well, I’m surprised you waited this long,” she said. My jaw dropped.

“Are you serious?”

Edward chuckled quietly. Of course, he could hear every word.

“We have to have a real ceremony. Have you planned anything yet?”

I looked back at Edward, who shrugged. “No, we haven’t. I’ll have Edward’s mom call you if you want and you can plan that out, if you’d like.”

This time, she really did squeal. “Oooh! I’d love that! What’s her name?”

“Esme,” I said and gave her the number. “Call her anytime. She’s usually awake.”

Edward sniggered a bit and kissed my hand.

“Alright, Mom, I gotta go take care of my husband,” I joked. Edward put a hand over his mouth to stop the laughter. We exchanged goodbyes and I hung up.

Instantly, the phone rang. I picked it up quickly. “Did you forget something, Mom?” I answered.

“No Bella, it’s Alice. Put Edward on.”

I raised a curious eyebrow and handed him the phone. She said two words and Edward hung up.

“What’d she say?” I asked, starting to get worried. Edward looked grave. He stood up and looked away from me in a blur.

“They’re coming,” he repeated, raking his hair back with his hand.

“What? Who?”

He faced me again. He looked so miserable, worse than last night. “The Volturi.”

I gulped and jumped up too, adrenaline surging through me like a bullet.

“You mean—” I began. “You have to turn me? Now?”

He shook his head. “I can’t do that yet. I could barely kiss you last night without killing you.”

“Carlisle then!” I yelled. “We can go to Carlisle.”

“I don’t think we have time,” he said. “No Bella. I won’t let him turn you. I won’t just lose you like that. Not now.”

I furrowed my brow. “You are not losing me!” I hissed. “You are keeping me forever.”

“No! You were going to college! You were going to be human, just for a while longer. I had it planned. We were going to be together!”

“Edward!” I called, watching him pace. “We will be together.”

“But you won’t be you, not for the longest time.”

I didn’t understand why he was insisting. It was just a change to me. So I’d want human blood for a while. All I could think about was having Edward with me through it all, and then onto eternity. I could tell by his face there was more. Then my own fears started to surface.

“You won’t love me the same way after I turn, will you?” I sobbed quietly.

“I’ll love you forever,” he repeated like a mantra. “Forever…”

“But I won’t be your Bella anymore. My blood won’t sing for you anymore.” He looked down at his feet, avoiding my eyes. “We don’t have a choice, Edward. They’re coming.”

He looked up suddenly, his eyes ablaze with anger and determination. “Oh yes we do. We run.”

“Run?” I yelled. “Where? They’ll look for us everywhere.”

“We go where they don’t expect us to go. South. We travel at night…”

I threw my arms in the air. “Planned this, have you?”

“I have a lot of time to think,” he said with a snarl.

My jaw quivered as I stared at the front door. “Do I have time to say goodbye to Charlie?” I asked, not daring to look him in the eyes.

“He’s asleep.”

I nodded. It was best I didn’t wake him. I rifled through the kitchen cabinets for a piece of paper and wrote him a note. Meanwhile, Edward raced home to pick up anything we’d need.

Charlie,

I can’t tell you where I’m going because it could put you in danger but Edward and I have to go on the run. They’re coming. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. Don’t worry. They won’t bother you. Edward’s only trying to protect me. Don’t blame him.

Forgive me for leaving again. I’ll try to be back but don’t worry about me. Edward will keep me safe.

I love you.

Bells.

PS. Edward says to file a Missing Persons report so they won’t get suspicious.

I put the note under his bourbon and ran up to my room to get a few clothes in a suitcase before running back out to the car.

“Where are we going?” I asked Edward, slightly excited.

“We go east into Idaho. We’ll stop in Pullman before crossing the border, then hit south.” He spoke quickly like we running out of time. “We can’t risk plane tickets yet.”

I sighed and leaned back. There wasn’t much for me to do. I put my hand over his on the stick shift and said, “Looks like I’m getting a honeymoon after all.”

He smirked back and the car jerked into the horizon.

--

We drove north for a while and dumped the car at Port Angeles to throw them off our trail. I bid adieu to the Volvo, got into the new – stolen – BMW, and we were off to Pullman, a good two hours away at Edward’s normal speeds. He said the destination wasn’t important, just that we keep moving in unexpected ways. I understood but I was still exhausted. The plane ride and now this escape was driving me crazy. I fell asleep in the backseat.

When I woke up, I was laying on a bed at a small hotel in Pullman, Washington, a good half a day’s drive from Forks by human standards. Edward sat shirtless by the window and stared out, his head rested on the frame. It was night and I could hear the TV set from the room next door through the walls. It wasn’t quite the hotel in Vegas but it was still better than I could afford on my own.

He heard me wake and climbed in with me. “Hey you,” I whispered, pulling the sheets up over him. I knew he didn’t need them but it felt nice to share with him. “Have you heard from the family?”

“No but they know not to contact us. They should have split up in pairs. I told them to meet us at our house in South America in a month.”

“You have a house in South America?”

We have a house there, yes.”

I giggled. The CD player stopped playing a guitar piece and switched on to Clair de Lune. I smiled and drew in closer to his chest, his arm around my waist. “How long can we stay here?” I asked, tracing his muscles with my finger.

“An hour or two, I’d say,” he answered into my hair. He breathed in my shampoo and gently pushed the hair back from my face. “I think we’re safe for now.”

“Agh, I was so tired,” I groaned, turning up to stare at the white, cottage cheese ceiling.

“Hungry?”

“Yea, a bit but it can wait. I like this right now. The quiet.”

He laughed so softly I barely heard it. “I like the driving. Just you and me on the road, going as fast as the wind. No other voices, no thoughts for miles…”

“I hadn’t realized how noisy hotels must be for you.” I turned back to face him.

“Just these small ones but I tune them out.”

“Hmm,” I muttered, too cozy to form actual words.

Another half hour passed in that bed. We didn’t talk, just struggled to keep all thoughts away. I knew the more I thought, the worse it would get. I’d start worrying about Charlie, Jacob, Mom, the Cullens… I couldn’t risk it. As long as I looked to Edward, I was safe.

Just a road trip, I told myself. Just on my honeymoon, like a normal girl with a normal boyfriend and a stolen BMW. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. ‘Myself’ was an idiot. I hadn’t been normal since I stepped into Forks.

I kept replaying my time with Edward as a form of escape from the road. I tried to remember Port Angeles when he first saved me from those men, our dinner. I’d randomly ask him if he remembered a particular detail. He’d always smile and tell me he did. He remembered every word we’d ever spoken to each other.

Every I Love You.

On the drive across the border, I asked, “Edward, how many times have we said I Love You to each other?”

“In actual words or counting how many times I’ve said it in my head?”

I smiled. “I don’t know. Both.”

“Well, I’d have to stop and count but in actual words, a couple hundred times. In my head, a few million. Why?” he asked with a chuckle.

“Nothing,” I answered. “Just thinking.”

Other times, he’d talk about music. He’d put in a new CD and tell me everything he knew about that particular song, which was usually a lot. I just loved to hear his voice. I tried to remember as much as I could but after the 12th CD, it was all starting to run together. I had no idea how he could keep all that knowledge inside.

Then, we’d put on Clair de Lune and everything would go quiet. By the time we crossed into Wyoming, the CD was too scratched up from my clumsy handling to listen to anymore. He put on Mozart until the next stop where he could pick up a new Debussy.

“Edward?” I asked him on our fifth day on the road. “What happens when we reach Antarctica?”

“Well, last I heard, the Earth was round so if we kept going south, we’d eventually end up going north and—”

“Don’t be silly!” I interrupted. “I meant, how long are we going to run? What happens after we meet with the family in South America? Do we just split up again?”

“Well, yes. Until you’re turned.”

“Edward, when will that be? When I’m 50 and I’ve seen every highway in the world?”

He smirked but his eyes were so sad, so tired. For a moment, with the light of the sun filtered through the blackout windows, he almost looked human. I stared at him until the warm glow faded.

“I wish,” he murmured finally.

“That’s what I thought.”

We stopped a few minutes later at another motel. It was raining so he took the chance to stop without being seen. I threw the door closed behind me and stormed through the cold rain towards the motel.

“Bella, stop!” he called from the parking lot. He could catch up to me with ease but knew it’d only infuriate me more. “Let’s talk about this!”

The parking lot was empty. I stopped a few feet from the door and turned around. Even in the pouring rain, he still knew I was crying but I didn’t take my eyes off him. Suddenly, he shifted his eyes to the motel behind me. He raged towards me and pulled me back to the car. I struggled against him with little avail until I commanded he stop pulling.

He let go and I stumbled back to the ground. My arm got scraped on a large rock and started to bleed. My eyes darted up to him. I knew he probably wouldn’t entirely succumb to hunger for another week but having my blood exposed to the air, to his sensitive nose, was just asking for trouble.

“Edward?” I whispered, sitting up. “Edward, are you okay?”

His nose flared and his eyes turned dark. He shook his head no then nodded towards the car. “Let’s go,” he said through gritted teeth.

I jumped up off the ground and did as ordered. Don’t anger a hungry vampire, I told myself. I got in the back seat just in case. He pulled a first aid kit from the trunk and handed it to me before speeding us off the lot.

A few moments of quiet later, I asked him what that was about back there.

He answered in a strained voice, “Bad humans.”

I looked back but the motel was a hundred miles back by now. My arm was wrapped up but it still called to him. The smell was in the air. I lied back in the back seat and covered my eyes.

“Change of plans,” he said out of nowhere and swerved east. “We’re going to Illinois.”

“Illinois?” I echoed. I thought about it for a moment then whispered, “Chicago?”

He nodded. He was taking me home, his first home.

--

At the first airport, we hopped a plane to O’Hare. My bandage wasn’t set right and it was burning mercilessly over the cut but I didn’t want to expose the smell of blood to the air again, let alone in a cooped up plane cabin. Edward didn’t talk to me the whole ride, just shut his eyes and gripped the arms of his chair till they were bent beyond recognition.

From then on, we drove to Dunning, to an old neighborhood and a large house on a small hill. Around 10PM, we parked on its newly trimmed yard. The house had no driveway, no garage, just a small path to the flight of stairs before the front door.

“Does someone we know live here?” I asked, trying to remember to use we instead of you from now on.

“Yea,” he answered. “My parents. Me.”

I raised both eyebrows. “What do you mean?”

“I secretly bought the house maybe 70 years ago. It’d been abandoned since we died.”

It clicked. The Masons. The influenza. “What are we doing here then?”

He looked back at me then walked up to the door. He reached up into the frame of the door and pulled out a hidden, dusty old key. The instant I walked inside, I stopped breathing. For one, it was extremely dusty and smelled of termite-eaten furniture and mothballs. Edward quickly covered his nose and mouth with his arm.

But beneath the decay, I could see it: the structure of the house. It had high ceilings and two floors with a kitchen hidden behind the stairway and a chandelier that hadn’t been lit in almost a century. The stairway was thinner, more elaborate, than the Cullen one and the walls, floors, and furniture were a dark wood. There was a piano on the left.

I followed Edward up to the second floor, the bedrooms. The door at the end of the hall was slightly ajar and we slipped inside. It was night or else the light from the balcony would have swallowed the room and lit Edward up along with it. I went to close the curtains while he sat on the single bed.

I looked around at the walls, at old posters and pictures that had faded away. Sheet music had been left on the bedside table. The more I saw it, the more it occurred to me that when they got sick, they were taken away all at once and the house was left in mid-life, like Edward. It was frozen in a moment in time, painfully reminding him of a life he couldn’t remember.

He lifted up a sheet from the bedside table and scoffed. “I can’t even remember if I wrote it or my mom or if I even played back then,” he said softly.

I sat down beside him on the broken, old bed. “I’m sorry. I know you had no choice.”

“I’d do it again,” he replied quickly, looking down at me with startled eyes. “Changing brought me to you. I should be dead now. If it wasn’t for Carlisle, I’d have died alone, never knowing love.”

“How do you know?” I joked, tapping him lightly with my elbow. “I bet you had a girl or two stashed away somewhere, pining for you.”

“I hadn’t really thought about it,” he answered honestly with distant eyes. “It doesn’t matter.”

“No, it doesn’t.” I laced my fingers with his and brought them to my heart. He beamed, kissing me quickly. I looked at the balcony and raised an eyebrow. “You know, I bet we could fix this up a bit.”

“What?”

“Isn’t that why we came here?” I asked, confused. “To settle down?”

He shook his head. “No. This is where I’m going to turn you.”

My heart disconnected and dropped into my empty stomach. “Here? For real?”

He nodded. “It’s safe and no one knows it exists. There’s a basement that’s pretty soundproof. The only problem is feeding though. There’s no large game around here. You wouldn’t be able to hunt.”

Just hearing him talk like I was already a vampire brought a slow curling smile to my lips.

“Actually,” he continued, “I bet there’s some game in the nature preserves all along the Des Plaines. It’s ten minutes away, less on foot. We’d have to cross the houses around here, which could be dangerous but--”

The smile got wider. He stopped just to smile back. He laid me back on the bed and laughed, going to kiss me when his arm brushed with my bandage and I jerked it away in pain.

“Oh God,” he whispered. “Your arm.”

In a blur, he carried me out to the truck and drove me, relatively slowly, to the nearest hospital. He couldn’t risk racing through the ‘burbs but I knew he could tell the cut was deeper than we could see. I was surprised I hadn’t bled more, given the adrenaline.

In the waiting room, I asked him, “Is this where you met Carlisle?”

He looked around, hoping for the smallest hint of familiarity but nothing. “I think they tore down that place during World War II. This place is new.”

I nodded in understanding, holding my arm still. I knew he didn’t like to be there because of the risk. “You can go, you know. I know hospitals aren’t the best place to avoid blood so if you want, I can get this checked out and I’ll meet you outside.”

“This isn’t Forks, Bells. There’s paperwork to be done and fake names and—” He stopped and looked off to an empty room in the back. It had a bed and a tray of instruments. He lifted me up and, with invisible swiftness, sat me on the bed and locked the door behind us. I watched his hands tremble as he undid the poorly wrapped bandage, now soaked in my blood. “I told Carlisle it was silly for me to study medicine but I guess he wins again.”

He dipped a cotton swab into some alcohol and started to clean the wound surprisingly gently. I thought the trembling would have made it hurt like hell but my entire arm seemed numb. I didn’t think that was natural but I didn’t tell him.

“I’m so proud of you,” I said, tilting my head to the side and trying not cry. “Not just for me but for Carlisle’s ideals, your ideals.”

“I didn’t always.”

I brought my clean hand to his icy cheek and smiled. “But you do now and—I never met the man you were before but I’m sure you—I love you, okay? Let’s just stop there.”

“No no. You were on a roll there, almost made a coherent sentence. There’s no turning back now.”

I chuckled and stared down at the wound. I wasn’t dizzy in the least but I could still smell the blood. “What I meant to say was that…”

“Hold on,” he interrupted, looking back at the door. He turned on the lights then came back to my wound. “They thought they could use the room.”

“Ah, light tells them its taken. Gotcha.”

“We should hurry though. There are a few car accident victims on the way and they really do need the rooms.”

I nodded as he rewrapped my arm, running smooth and calm hands over the bandage. I made the smallest sound of pleasure. I just loved his touch.

“There it is again!” he hissed, looking to the door.

“What?” I jumped. “What is it?”

“That smell! I thought it was you but no. It’s too far away.”

I raised my eyebrow and jumped off the hospital bed, gripping his strong arm for support. “What’s it smell like?”

“I don’t know. It’s like an animal I’ve never smelled before but it’s—it’s been following us.”

“The Volturi?”

“No, it was before they decided to come, from the day I saved you and Charlie,” he whispered as if it could hear us. He pulled me out to the middle of the emergency room. “It’s moving away. It’s heard us.”

I scoffed. “You’re not going to chase it, are you?”

He looked at me with crazed, dark eyes. I shook my head and tightened my grip on his arm, not that it did anything. The entire emergency room stared at us, confused. Edward slowly followed the scent outside. I stayed and told the emergency room, “Sorry. He’s fighting a drug habit,” before running after him.

When I got outside, the cold night wind nearly blew me to the ground. Edward was nowhere to be seen and even I was starting to smell something sweet in the air. I could see Mason House in the distance, just a short walk away. I figured he’d come for me there and made my way home. Thinking back on it later, I should have stayed in my place. The hospital was safe. The streets were not. But I made it back to the house just fine, minus a few clumsy falls.

My arm was starting to regain feeling, unfortunately. It was better to be numb than in pain. I reached up with my good arm to the frame for the key. I went to open the door but it was already unlocked. The vanilla-y scent was everywhere, carried in the dust.

I followed the footprints to a figure in the dark. “Edward?” I whispered, knowing he could hear me if it was him.

“He’s not here,” a familiar voice said. It was like hearing a TV announcer in person, a voice I’d heard a million times but never saw the face. He stepped out from the shadows into the light from the street outside. I started to move slowly back. I wasn’t scared of him but logic told me I did not know him. “Don’t be scared. I won’t hurt you.”

I laughed softly. “Yea, they all say.”

He smiled confidently, his hands behind his back, and answered in a velvet voice to rival Edward’s, “Oh yes. They would say that.”

He stepped towards me, closer and closer. His brown eyes were so familiar, his smell so enticing. He couldn’t be older than 30 but like Carlisle, his features made him seem younger, angelic. I’d learned from Jane not to trust angelic faces.

“Who are you?” I croaked, my throat suddenly useless. I told myself he was human. I had to keep believing he was human, or the fear would get me. Think of Edward, I told myself. He always comes for me.

He pulled out a small pink box with a white string around it. He smiled brightly, bearing bright white teeth. “You can call me Oliver. Care for some cake?”

I gulped and stared at the box. “Beware Greeks bearing gifts,” I whispered the first thing that came into my mind.

He chuckled, cornering me to the wall with the cake box between us. “Actually, I’m from Denmark.”

He turned around and walked towards the kitchen in search of two spoons. The plates were all dusty and with no running water, there really wasn’t much he could do so he set the box down and handed me a spoon. I stared at him, trying to place his face.

“Why do I know you?” I asked, sitting down across the table. He’d begun to dig into the cake. “Why have you been following us?”

“Do you know what I love about cake?” he asked, taking a large lick of the silver spoon. “It makes one feel happy, unconditionally, for just one second. Who doesn’t love cake?”

“People hate cake. If it exists and sometimes even if it doesn’t, there’ll always be someone alive who hates it,” I mumbled.

He stopped eating and looked up at me. “You look so much like your mother.”

“What? I don’t look like my mother.”

“Not Renee. Your real mother.”

At that, I stood up and backed away again until my feet started to run by themselves towards the door.

“Bella, stop!” he yelled. “The Volturi aren’t after you and they don’t care about the Cullens! They want me! You have to stop! You have to know the truth!”

I turned around, allowing myself to even consider what his words, what his face suggested. God help me, he looked just like me. His brown eyes were mine, his full lips.

“Are you—” I sobbed.

He nodded, the light hitting the tears wanting to form beneath his calm face. “Yes. I’m your father, Bell.”

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TO BE CONTINUED…

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