“Essentially, I was still Bella, just with a few modifications. But it wasn’t Bella that he wanted; he more or less said so.” Bella Swan suffers a broken heart, possible catatonia, depressing hallucinations and a life as one of the eternally damned. Her heart is silent, yet it still longs for that which it cannot have. Or can it?
Can Edward save her before she gets caught up in a life of murder and blood? Does he even know?
1. Prologue: Fire
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I could see his face. That was all that mattered. Through all that intense fire, I could see his face. My hallucinations were better, more complete through this haze of pain. Oh, so much stronger. I could hear him growling, snarling in fury at what was happening to my body. I didn’t mind, I could barely feel it, yet. I just focused entirely on his dark, scorching golden eyes.
* * *
God, I was so stupid. Why couldn’t I have stayed in the damn car? I should have listened to Jacob. When he says ‘stop’, I stop. When he says ‘run’, I run. When he says ‘vampire’, what do I do? I dash in and land straight in its open arms. Stupid. Of course, in my defense, I did think it was Carlisle. It was the same car, after all.
That afternoon, in my house waiting for me, was a girl. She couldn’t be more than eleven. I thought she must have been lost. She was far too innocent looking to be a vampire. I thought Jacob had gotten it wrong. And then I noticed the red irises. That’s when my mind began functioning in ‘Oh, crap!’ mode. I panicked. She knocked me out cold, in less than a millisecond. I had no time whatsoever to react. Not even a scream. I don’t remember much of that night. I kept passing out. I don’t think I want to remember.
I woke in a cold room. I could see the sun streaming through cracks in the white blinds that covered the window. I sat up; my eyes wide with fear as the previous afternoon came flooding back to me.
“Good morning, my dear,” I swiveled frantically, trying to locate the source of the sing-song voice. I couldn’t get the image of those red eyes out of my head. He was sitting in the corner, grinning like a clown. His pale skin glittered where the light from outside touched his skin. “My name is Aro. And you are Bella, correct? But, of course you are! I’ve seen you in her mind. Now, before we begin, I have a few... questions for you.”
“Why am I here? Where am I? Where’s Charlie?” I scrambled for words, trying to figure out what had happened.
The man called Aro leaned forward, his long dark hair falling over his shoulder. He reached for my hand. I automatically flinched backwards, hitting my back against the headboard of the bed. He grabbed my hand anyway. A confused frown crossed his face and then a delighted smile. “Well, well. This is a surprise! Jane?” he called, aiming the question at the closed door. “I can’t hear your thoughts. Do you know why that is, Bella?”
I shook my head, my breath coming in ragged gasps. What was happening? At that moment, the little girl I’d last seen in my living room sauntered into the room. “Yes, master?”
“Bella, here, seems to be immune to some of our special tricks. Would you mind adding to my experiment, my dear?”
“Of course,” the tiny girl shifted her gaze to me, her burgundy eyes darkening as she frowned in intense concentration. Aro clapped his hands in delight. Jane was not pleased. She scowled; whatever she was trying to do having had no reaction from me.
“Well, I suppose we’d best begin then,” he said. I idly noticed Jane smile wickedly and inch out of the room. I wondered vaguely what he meant...
* * *
When the furious biting fire had finally ended, and his beautiful face had disappeared, I was afraid to open my eyes. But I forced my lids open anyway. I was lying in the same bed as before, sweaty jeans clinging to the sensitive skin on my legs. I knew what had happened, what I had become. It didn’t take a genius to do the math. I took a short rattling breath. It felt strange in my chest. Unwanted, somehow. I glanced at my hands; the skin was whiter than bone. I felt a dry sob ripping through my body.
“Bella, don’t cry...” I gasped at his voice. It was close, and so real. I bolted out of bed and nearly tripped myself over because of the surprising burst of speed.
“Where are you?” I cried. “Edward! Don’t leave me here!” I knew I was crying, but there were no tears running down my pale cheeks.
“I’m right here, love. I’m not going anywhere.”
I spun around. He was sitting at the foot of the bed, perfect in all his absent glory. ‘Absent’, because in that moment, I realized he wasn’t real. I realized that he wasn’t my Edward. He was transparent, shimmering gently in the soft light. His half smile, my favourite smile, was frozen on his face. He was hollow. He didn’t sound it, he sounded like any of my other hallucinations. I blinked, my hands quivering in silent agony. What was happening to me? Had I finally gone mad?
In that fraction of a second, when my eyes were closed, the scene changed. The shimmering Edward was no longer alone. He was sitting comfortably in a beautiful, familiar meadow, with his arms wrapped tenderly around a glittering brown haired girl. They were smiling and talking, but their words were too soft for me to hear. It was me, I thought with a start. The girl was me.
I reached forward, intending to brush my fingers against his arm, just to check. But they closed around air. There was nothing there. I scrambled backwards and howled in pure undiluted pain. I had finally taken the swan dive off my cliff face of sanity.
And my strange and jumbled feelings were only confused further when I recognized a primal craving for blood.