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Before sunset

Summary:
Bellie Award Nominee for best one-liner. This was wrong. Her heart belonged to another, to Jacob. It was wrong to want him: want his blood, want his soul, want his kiss. But how could Renesmee refuse, when Mathias was offering himself to her so willingly, in anyway she was willing to accept him? And if Moira really could save the Cullens, Mathias was part of the package. Besides, wouldn't Jacob want her to be happy until they could be together at last? Rated R for language, mature themes (lightly lemon in later chapters)


Notes:


5. Shift

Rating 4/5   Word Count 4265   Review this Chapter

Dear Nessie,

Don’t write. It isn’t safe. Everything in or out gets read. You can tell from the handwriting, I’m not writing this either. I’m thinking it and your da…. Edward is writing it to sneak it to you. [Scrivener’s note: Again, his idea, darling. Jacob is becoming quite clever and plotting. We’ll have to keep a closer eye on him when he gets out.]

Stop apologizing. It’s annoying. I didn’t do this just to make you feel sorry. I’m not just staying here until you apologize. I know what I’m doing. I’m fishy to them, but Carlisle came up with bogus medical explanations to explain my differences. You wouldn’t have been so lucky. One of the first things they did after the arrest was give me a blood test to check for any drugs. I’m sure they would have noticed not being able to get into one of your veins even if they used an industrial drill bit.

[Scrivener’s note: After this, Jacob went on for a bit about the jail itself. If I can sum up his words most concisely in his vernacular, I think he would basically say “It sucks.” But then he stumbles around with his words a bit and tries to tell you in his not so coherent prose that it doesn’t matter if he was tortured and beaten, he would not see you suffer.]

One of two things is going to happen. Either they say I’m guilty and I get 10-20 years- really, what is time to us? Or, they say I’m not, and five minutes later I’ll be on a plane to you. In any case, we’ll be together again. Don’t stress. I will do whatever necessary to keep you safe, even if it requires that I go to the chair. Your welfare is my first concern.

I have been thinking about sending Seth and Leah out to you, but Eddie [Scrivener’s note: I really detest when he calls me this. I get flashbacks to little Eddie Munster. Can you mention this casually to him sometime soon?] doesn’t think there’s any call for it. He says that Maine will be safe, and having two supersized wolves roaming the woods might get attention the Cullens would rather avoid. [Scrivener’s note: I like both Leah and Seth, but we could use a little break from the smell after all these years. I thought telling him that would hurt his feelings, though. Plus, Alice doesn’t see us in any danger in the near future, so there’s no point in uprooting Leah and Seth, especially since it would leave Sue alone.]

I will see you soon enough. Eddie [Scrivener’s note: Ug. Really? Is Edward so hard?] says the school you’re all going to this fall is really good. So, study hard. Make me proud. And Eddie and I agreed, if anyone takes two looks the wrong way at you, they’ll never find the body. Take care of yourself, for me.

Jacob

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Dear Jacob,

Telling me not to write to you is like telling the sun not to shine. I will respect your requests. I will not offer apologies. I will, however, offer my gratitude for your friendship and devotion, the importance of which I failed to note until they were denied me.

Alice, Jasper and I arrived two weeks ago from our trip. As you can imagine, I am quite delighted to be reunited with the family. I had missed them all so much. I have paid some penance for the misdeed I may have committed by the denial of their presence. I have made promises within the confines of my own heart to write you sooner. I truly wished to honor your request not to pen anything, but my longing to reach out to you has overtaken me this morning. As I am to make no comment on past actions, I am content instead to pass a few minutes of your day in detailing our circumstances at present.

Our new house overlooks the lake and adjoining valley. Remember when I was younger and Edward would read me the tales of the Knights of the Round Table? I quite imagine that the Lady of the Lake kept residence in such a waterway. So mysteriously, I am told that when the winds shift in late August, it is constantly renewing a self-propelled fog bank that keeps any location within a mile of the lake under an overcast shadow. In the summer, as it now, no such phenomenon seems present. Hence, I am inclined to doubt this; however, it seems supported by photographic evidence, and I am thoroughly anticipating its occurrence in the near future. As you know, my family is genetically disposed to be sensitive to sun exposure, and this has made running errands to the village inconvenient.

The school sits on the opposite shore to our home, and on these clear summer days I can see it across the three-mile expanse like a looming tower which I am soon to scale. I am nervous to return to school. Whilst I attended in our last location, I quite often felt that I was more at school than being schooled. But our new home was selected, I have learned, primarily to offer me an ability to attend Bridgeport Academy. It seems that great things are expected of me, and I must be educated to a standard befitting the grandiose visions some people seem to have for my future. I am comforted, however, to know that I will be in good company as it has been determined that seven Cullens will enter their sophomore year in unison this September. I am quite sure that this uniformity is unnecessary, but arguments to the contrary have proved fruitless.

The area around our home is simply enchanting. To call it a house does not do it justice. It looks more like a petite castle, complete with two towers spiraling off of both the east wing and west wing. Each tower’s third level is a bedroom. My bedroom is in the west tower - and the east tower is reserved in anticipation of your arrival. We are set in the rolling hillsides above the lake and away from the village. There are nearly endless forests behind the house, with the exception of one antique Victorian mansion a few miles further up the drive which seems currently unoccupied. We have been roaming the forests, taking in a taste of the fauna (if not the flora). However, I regret that among the menagerie, I am most aching for the discovery of wolves. Nothing will delight me so much as the day I step outside my door and see my beloved lupine friend awaiting me.

If you do not wish to keep corresponding with me, I will understand. But, please take note that you can expect notes from me on a weekly basis. I must warn you, however, I do believe in the particulars of my familial environment, it is safe to say anything going in or out is also being monitored in one way or another, so be prudent should you choose to return my post. Do not say anything you would regret later.

R.C.C.

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Nessie-

You were right. I was wrong. When I got your letter, I didn’t read it for hours. I just sat and smelled it. I can taste your scent. It made my day. Please, send me as many letters as you want. You don’t have to write anything. Just hold the paper for a few minutes and send it off to me. It will be enough that I can smell you.

You will start school in a month, I guess. I’m sorry you’re nervous. You know there’s nothing to worry about. Everyone will be with you. If you do get lonely, Leah and Seth are always a phone call away. Sue, too. She stopped by today, and she wants you to know that even with Charlie gone, she wants to hear from you, if your family thinks that is a good idea.

Do you think you’ll make friends? Bella used to say that the Cullens liked to keep to themselves. I guess there are a lot of you all though, so even if that’s true, I guess you won’t get lonely. Still, try to make some other friends, too, okay? Don’t make the mistake your mother made and steal yourself away from the world the way she did. The world missed her. A lot.

Tell Rose it’s time to rotate the tires on the Mercedes.

Put this letter next to your bed. Pretend it’s me and wish it good night. It will be like in the old days when I slept next to your bed. I guess the prison mail monitors will like reading that part.

Jacob

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Jacob,

Three weeks until school starts. I am not certain I am ready. Why am I so nervous over something so common place? I will admit to you there is almost a sense of foreboding. Alice has assured me that there is nothing she’s aware of to cause me anxiety. This is of little comfort. The only comfort I could find now is at your side.

We are keeping in touch with Sue and Seth. Leah still seems unwilling to become overly social with us. She is never rude, only extremely polite. You know what I mean, dear. She is polite to the point of being rude. I am not trying to tell on her, so don’t become cross. I am only sharing my frustration. Sue and Seth are like family to me, yet Leah has always kept aloof. I would like so much to be her closest friend. I think she and I could share a lot, if she’d only lower that wall she keeps up between us. I will hope for a change in time. She was warming up to me, at least, before our departure. People can change, if given opportunity and time. After all, weren’t you once Edward’s rival? I would venture now to say he is your best friend, outside of Bella.

I stole away for a few minutes today and walked down to the lakeshore. Tiny little waves rolled over the bit of sandy beach. I closed my eyes and imagined our trip down to La Push back in March. The ripples that lap the lakeshore are, of course, nothing compared to the ocean’s swell crashing against La Push. But, the sense of rhythm it gave me filled me up with recollections of you. I could almost feel you next to me for a moment. Jacob, I am so lonely for you.

I placed your letter under my pillow. I hold it my arms when I lay down at night. It would surely look crazy to anyone, but I kiss it each night in your stead. It doesn’t suffice. I want the real thing.

R.C.C.

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Renesmee,

Stop beating around the bush. I wasn’t crazy that night back in April. Things have changed, haven’t they? Please tell me I’m not alone on this.

Jacob

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Jacob,

You silly dog. After all these years, you are closer to me that my own jugular. Do you not know my heart? I had decided to tell you that day I last saw you. Bella pointed out to me what should have been obvious.

I love you, Jacob Black.

In a way, I’m glad that you’re not able to see me face to face as I admit this. Control of my physical being is proving a real challenge to me lately. I fear I would crush you with kisses if you were standing before me. I would destroy you and leave nothing left to love.

RCC

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Renesmee,

I would crush you right back. I have cared for you since the first moment I saw you. And I will love you forever.

Now, after you read this, go find your father and calm him down. I am sure he is fuming.

-J

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I didn’t have to go find him. Twoseconds after reading Jacob’s latest letter,he had ascended three flights of stairs and was standing in my tower door. I don’t know if fuming was the right word. He didn’t look angry. He looked concerned.

“So, there it is.”

I didn’t reply. I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted me to say. Was he expecting me to apologize? Or, did he want me to explain? Was I in some sort of trouble? His distant expression told me nothing, so I sat on my bed and waited for him to say something. Of course, there is no privacy with Edward. He could hear my internal machinations as if I were thinking aloud.

“No, I’m not angry. I know that surprises you. But, I am… apprehensive.”

“Apprehensive of Jacob?” I asked. “He has done nothing but protect me since the day I was born. Has he ever given you a basis upon which to be apprehensive of his intent?”

“It’s something more basic than that,” he answered, crossing the room to sit next to me on the bed. “He is wolf, you are vampire. It’s an ancient instinctive animosity.”

“Half vampire,” I corrected.

“All the more reason for my concern,” he ventured. “Nessie, there have been so few hybrids we know of, and none of them that has tried to live our existence. We are only able to pursue this normality because we have mastered our instincts. Every day of your life is already an experiment into uncharted waters. Jacob and the pack added a complication to that existence, but one we accepted because his intentions have always been magnanimous. But this didn’t just happen. It took a long time for all of us to learn to coexist. Again, it was only because we had all mastered our instincts telling us that we are still enemies. Our instincts still tell us that we must destroy each other.”

“I have never felt a temptation to destroy Jacob,” I protested.

“Not yet,” he said. “But, there’s something happening with you lately. I know you’ve noticed it, too. At times, I can hear the conflict in your mind. The monster is trying to find your weak spots and seize control. It happened once last year, when you were picturing killing that girl. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Each of us lets our imagination get carried away sometimes. And you were able to shake it before your instincts kicked in. Then, I saw in your memories what happened that day in Forks. You lost control. You let your human emotions run wild, and your vampire instincts took advantage of the melee and took over. The consequence is that Jacob is now sitting in a jail cell taking the fall. What happens the next time you lose control and Jacob’s around? If you turn on him, his instincts will kick in too. He will turn on you. He has killed many of our kind before. He will kill you, if you do not act to kill him first.”

“Love can override all that,” I stammered. I detested that everything he said made so much sense. I shuddered for a moment when I remembered how easily Jacob had thrown me down and kept me down that day. It was easy for him, like pining down a kitten. I was using all my strength and could not shake him from me.

Edward placed his hand on mine, and the visions in my head transferred against my own will into his. I heard a small gasp from him.

“See what I mean about losing control; you didn’t mean for me to see that,” he said, releasing my hand. “Love can override some things, but not all things.”

“You were able to override your instincts for Bella’s blood.” Zinger.

His teeth clenched. His black eyes suddenly looked fervent, as he stroked my cheek. His eyes, though, focused on the pulsations in my neck. “Barely. Look at me. Even years later, if I remember the scent of her as a human, I want to taste that blood more than anything in the world. And it never really left me, did it? Some of that same blood flows through your veins.”

These were my human instincts fueling me now. I inched away from him, looking at Edward for the first time from human eyes. It was not my father looking at me, he was a predator hearing the rising pulse of my heartbeat and sensing the heat building in my blood. Is this what I had looked like that day to the man I killed? Saints preserve us.

“I think I see what you mean,” I gasped as I rose off the bed and backed to the window. If he mounted an attack, I would jump through the already-opened window. “But I trust what I feel to keep Jacob and me safe.”

My motions towards the window and my thoughts of jumping struck at Edward. He quickly composed himself and drifted backwards towards the doorway, looking confused.

“That’s what I’m talking about. It’s almost like your human half and your vampire half are dueling. Your mortal instinct told you to flee. Baby, you know I’d never hurt you. I don’t think I could anyways. Your skin is just as tough as mine. Still,” he admitted shyly, “I’ve waited too long since hunting. Will you join me?”

“With the first day of school tomorrow, we should take precautions,” I agreed. Perhaps I had overreacted. How could I possible find Edward a threat? He was the love of my life, for goodness’ sake.

Well, maybe the second love of my life.

Within a few minutes, we were running at a relatively slow speed up the hillside away from the lake. It was evening, but the sky was still pink and purple, and the muted light filtered through the forest ceiling. I had caught the scent of some deer about a mile away. I was about to break into a hunting gait, when I noticed Edward’s direction had shifted, not towards the deer, but towards the empty Victorian mansion.

“What is it?” I asked in hushed tones that no human ears would have detected.

“I hear something from that house,” he said. He continued towards the edge of the forest where the property’s tree line ended. It brought us about half an acre from the back of the house. A second story light was on, but the curtains were drawn. I could see the shadow of a figure moving behind the curtains, carrying something back and forth. It looks like someone putting things away from a suitcase, I thought. I could recognize the repetitive motion I had seen so often in recent weeks when our move had necessitated so much unpacking.

Edward nodded. He leaned in a little closer to the house. His head was turned in a most curious fashion. Something he was hearing from the house did not make sense.

“You can hear them? How many are there?”

He put his fingers to his lips as if to hush me. I hadn’t spoken.

“Odd,” he said in near silence. “Two voices- one male, young. Teenager, probably. The other is….”

A downstairs light flipped on. Even at this distance, we could both see clearly into the kitchen through the sliding glass door.

“…a woman.”

But she was not just any woman; she was one of the most beautiful humans I had ever seen. Vampire females were always pillars of physical beauty, but that was a lure for prey. Even I knew that my own immense attractiveness was a consequence of genetic advantage, and so I took little pride in the weapon it was meant to be. This woman was handsome beyond humanity. Her skin was the loveliest shade of light olive, and her hair was thick and long, neither brown nor black but a perfect balance of the two. She was not tall, nor was she short. Her figure reminded me of a Hollywood starlet, visible despite the plainness of her clothing. She walked with the grace of the most gifted ballerina, even as she heaved two large paper grocery bags onto the counter and slipped an over-sized duffle bag off her shoulder and let it fall to the floor.

She yelled something up the stairs to the shadowed figure. Her voice reverberated easily through the glass of the sliding door and fell onto our ears.

“That’s the final time we wait until the last minute before coming back home,” she shouted. “How am I suppose to get all this done with and still be ready for class in the morning? I hope your blazer still fits. We won’t get down to Portsmouth to order a replacement until the weekend.”

The unseen human either gave no reply or did not shout back loud enough for the sound to breach the walls of the house. The woman looked around her kitchen and sighed. With her arms now empty, she crossed the width of the room in a few strides before unlocking the hinge and opening the sliding door. She stepped outside onto the patio and took a deep breath.

Have you ever seen human eyes like that?” I mentally gasped.

She had green eyes, but not like any human eyes I had ever seen. They were immense, almost as if she had no pupil and there was hardly any white. The black of her eyes should have been enlarged with the small amount of light in the sky. They should have opened as far as possible to allow as much light as they could. Perhaps she had some sort of medical condition, I wondered. But the tint of her irises was also peculiar. Not a simple Kelly green or pea green. They were a creamy emerald jade-

“….just like a….”

“…Cat’s eyes,” Edward completed my thought. I nodded.

The woman lifted her gaze and stood erect unnaturally fast. Her head turned towards our crouched but hidden position. She was scanning the trees just above us, trying to survey a location.

But she couldn’t have heard you,” I thought. I could read Edward’s expression perfectly. He agreed, but something had garnered her attention. Had I shifted my weight and not realized it? I sometimes fell back to human responses when I wasn’t being mindful of my movements. Edward and I remained perfectly still, not moving a muscle. She took a few steps towards our direction and pulled in a deep breath through her mouth. She was trembling. Without turning, she backed into the house, closed and locked the sliding glass door, and drew a curtain over it.

Again, she shouted something up the stairs, but this time the curtain slowed the sound waves so that we could only pick out about half of her words.

“….don’t go …yard… I heard…. bear maybe…in case, okay?”

Edward and I took to the woods, running at my full sprint, which I knew was still slow for him. We were back on the trail for the deer, which we found without much effort where they had been before. I took down a doe, as Edward targeted one of the young bucks.

I kept seeing the image of the woman’s startled eyes run through my head as we made our way back to the house. Edward had not spoken a word. His unfocused glance told me, though, he was disturbed and in contemplation.

“You heard what she said,” I tried to interpret his train of thought. “She thought it was a wild animal.”

“That’s what she said, but that’s not what she was thinking,” he answered.

“So, then, what was she thinking?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered in an astonished tone.

Now I was concerned. What did that mean? Could Edward not hear her thoughts?

“No, I can,” he answered my own thought without effort. “I can hear her crystal clear. I just can’t understand her thoughts.”

“What does that mean?”

Edward hesitated. He could sense the agitation in my voice. Now we were just getting settled, moving again would be unfortunate. But Edward’s countenance suddenly changed. He was… dismissive.

“I’m probably letting my imagination get carried away. I’m sure it’s nothing. It’s like people who look for conspiracies start to see them everywhere. I keep looking for signs of the out of place everywhere, and I guess I’ll start finding them whether they’re there or not. Okay, to bed with you. I want you bright and chipper on your first day of school.”

As I lay down to bed, the eyes refused to vacate my mind.

She heard us. I know it.

Ah, forget it girl. Edward was right. Don’t go seeing daggers in every hand.

In exasperation, I grabbed Jacob’s most recent letter and held it tight. In mere minutes, I was asleep, dreaming of throwing myself into his arms, and pulling his lips to mine.