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“Welcome to Cullen Castle, Miss…” A blonde man smiled at me from a dais. He was waiting for my name; I struggled, trying to recall it. I remembered bronze and white, then burning pain… I looked around urgently; my eyes drifted to a patch of bronze. AU ExB


1. Indulgence

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1704   Review this Chapter

I stared down at the tiny human girl in clear peasants’ dress, want for her blood stealing my every attempt at being rational.

“Edward, you know how upset Esme gets if we miss a ball…” Emmett’s voice was calm and level, though he was far away, but his thoughts betrayed his real feelings. What is he doing? Yes, my brother was on the verge of panic.

The way I saw it, I had two options at the moment: Walk away, or sate the incorrigible thirst burning in every fiber of my being. It wasn’t like I had never given in before, and I’d been forgiven for my previous actions. Besides, no human’s blood or scent smelled as delicious as the girl’s who was cowering on the dirt and moss in front of me now.

Her mahogany hair danced in the wind; she whimpered softly and shivered as the cool fall air caressed her bare arms. She stared up at me in wonder and fear, her entrancing brown eyes brimming with tears as she took in my macabre appearance – I had just been hunting moose and deer, and my brothers and I had found a stray bear wandering around; I now had blood dried on the front of my tunic, and I didn’t doubt that I looked very much like a vampire at the moment, what with my outward appearance and the way I knew my eyes were sparking like liquid topaz on fire. “Prince Edward?” she whispered in shock and recognition; she had every right to be shocked. No one expected the Cullen family to be a coven of vampires…

This reminded me again of the burning sensation in the back of my throat, heavily prominent and begging to be appeased.

Jasper and Emmett would be here in mere seconds; Jasper’s thoughts were distraught as he felt the emotions I was emanating: longing, indecision, anger… The wind blew by again, rustling the fall leaves and the folds of her plain cream dress, and her scent stung my nostrils as I breathed it in deeply, exhaling with a sigh.

“No!” Emmett cried as he entered the little clear patch of the forest, but it was too late. I was already at her neck, relishing in the satisfaction her blood held. She soon lost consciousness, and her pale eyelids glittered slightly in the dim light of the clearing. She had been just as silent before then, however: apparently, the shock had stunned her into silence. I choose ‘apparently’ because I could in no way read her thoughts, try as I might, and if her scent had not been so inviting, I would have studied her intensely to discover as to why she appeared to be immune.

As it were, mere seconds after her small form had gone limp in my careful arms, I was being dragged off of her and having burst of calm, peace and lethargy run through me. I closed my eyes contentedly and allowed myself to be dragged away from the scene, no aggression or annoyance entering me at all, and I knew it be Jasper who was leading me away from my prey.

Despite the calm and silence after my moment of indulgence, I couldn’t help but think what would become of the girl. I suddenly became remorseful; I’d nearly caused an innocent life to end.

“Jasper,” I opened my eyes and the blond vampire dropped his hold on my shoulders, his eyes widening in surprise at my sudden change in emotion, “What has happened to the girl?”

He averted his gaze and sent more calm my way before replying, “Why, Emmett is disposing of her, of course.”

“No.” My voice and attitude were still calm, though I did not want that to happen. She couldn’t be saved, but her disposal would be such a waste… “At least let us have her complete the change; then we shall see if she is worth keeping.”

“Why are you still speaking to me then?” He asked incredulously, and hurriedly sent eagerness coursing throughout my body.

“Right,” I raced away through the trees, appearing at Emmett’s side in seconds. It was dark in the part of the forest he had carried her to, though it was only twilight. I could still see what he was about to do – his teeth hovered inches away from the bite I had already inflicted on her, dark blood caked around the wound. He was about to literally bite her head off.

Now it was my turn to shout, “No!” and he looked over his shoulder at me in alarm.

“Brother, she’s near death. Let’s not have her suffer any longer.”

“Emmett,” I pinched my nose and closed my eyes, trying to bring back some of the calm Jasper had instilled in me, “Let’s have her go through the full transformation.” He stared at me, his thoughts connotative of believing me mad.

She will hate you, Edward.

A part of my brain screamed at me as he thought this. Why did I want to keep her, when I could so easily rid myself of her existence, and therefore the evidence, and no one would be the wiser? I didn’t have the answer to that, though I supposed my compassionate father would.

“I don’t doubt it,” I smiled sadly and met his gaze. “But she has…interesting qualities.”

“Edward, she is a peasant – with apparently irresistible blood. What other possible qualities could she have?”

It was then that the screaming started and I was saved having to answer – for the time being. The poor girl’s once limp frame was now thrashing against everything: Emmett’s hold on her chin, the tree she had been slumped against, the mossy dirt ground, herself. Her eyes were wide open in terror and the tears were streaming down her face, making tracks through the dirt that lay there.

We’d best get her to the castle, and quickly. Emmett knew better than to scare her by speaking aloud. I nodded and held his gaze for a second before he turned away and slung the girl easily over his shoulder, despite her cries and muttered protests. Then he stood up.

Before he could begin running back towards the castle, I caught the girl’s struggling head in one hand and rapped once, not too hard, on her temple. She fell promptly unconscious again.

“She’ll have a concussion, you know,” Emmett laughed, a booming sound in the near-silent forest. He took off like a shot and I followed suit on his right side, watching the girl closely. Jasper came to join us, flanking Emmett on his right, just as we broke through the edges of the forest.

“She’ll be a vampire in three days, and we don’t get concussions,” I pointed out, tapping my own skull, which was harder than a rock.

“Carlisle won’t be happy with this, you realize that,” Jasper whispered as we slowed to a walk outside the palace gates, having just surpassed the surrounding countryside in a blur. Edward, your face! He suddenly thought after we had all shrugged our cloaks over our dirtied tunics. I pulled my cloak’s hood over my head, lowering my gaze to the wet dirt ground. I had forgotten to wipe the blood from my lips and chin…

As we passed by the guards standing at the entrance, their thoughts turned suspicious as they eyed our party – usually we were much more careful with hiding our gruesome appearances after hunting, but we were hurried now – but they admitted us without question. Of course.

We trudged along through the dank and dirty streets and the common folk eyed us with interest: royal sons with an unconscious unknown woman were a scandalous sight… Luckily her hair covered her grisly wound, or they would have been even more suspicious of our behavior.

One of them glared at us for much longer than any of the others, who were careful to avert their eyes after a few seconds. He was not so cautious, and his piercing blue eyes did not bother to disguise their resentment. He was a traveler by the looks of him, with chin length, dirty blond hair and a soiled, boyish face. We had nearly reached the gates of the inner keep when sudden recognition and one name came from his thoughts: Bella.

As I stared at the girl - her long, straight hair swaying with the movement of Emmett’s body - on our way up the castle’s steps, towards the enormous open wooden gate, I thought of my options for the second time that night. Clearly, the young man had known this ‘Bella,’ but in what way? It didn’t matter; she could never be allowed to go back to her past life. I had taken it away from her – now she was one of the eternally damned, just like my family. She couldn’t become a servant; she was a newborn vampire, and needed constant supervision and thorough training. What could I do, if I had stolen away her previous life…?

Right then, as we entered the ornate throne room adjacent to the Grand Ballroom (the ball was just beginning; formal introductions were not yet being made) I realized what I could do.

“Emmett, Jasper,” I hissed so low that no one could possibly have heard me excepting my intended audience. They looked at me with puzzled faces and I gestured back the way we had come. “Take her to my chambers, and wait for me there.” They nodded their understanding, and for that I was grateful. I needed to think this through… I hastened to the dungeons, where I knew there would be no one. Not a soul was locked up, and no guards were patrolling… Perfect.

Carlisle had been pondering the idea of arranging a marriage for me for quite some time now – Alice constantly envisioned me scowling alongside a tall blonde with the same yellow eyes as us – so presenting this new idea to him was likely to have its benefits.

Except that the only way this would work was if Bella didn’t refute my existence. Hopefully she’d be able to forgive me enough…

I had taken away her life; what could I give her instead?

I smiled to myself in spite of it all; oh but it was so simple! What a lovely way to beg forgiveness! I could give her my hand – in marriage.