"She would go to the ends of the earth to be sure we wouldn’t get hurt in the process, as if that thing could hurt us! She was sacrificing herself for her mother. My perfect Bella. But why didn't she wait for me to take care of it? Of her mother? Of James?"
2. Chapter 2
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It was then, I was sure, that everyone for miles could hear the sound of my dead heart shattering.
I had to be dead now.
Regardless of the fact that for the past ninety years I’ve been technically dead, I’ve never felt as if I were not alive. Inhuman, perhaps. Alone, of course. But dead? The actuality of the concept has never sunk in. I do not grow, my heart does not beat. Unchanged, like a rock imbedded in the side of the stream. Only existing.
Until now, the reality never occurred to me. I have always managed to feel somewhat connected to humanity, partially due to my infinite insight into human nature and human thoughts. Then Bella came, and she resurrected the feelings: sadness, hate, shame, jealousy, ecstasy. Love.
Without Bella, those feelings I had just begun to take for granted were smothered, repressed by the lethal purpose of the monster. A vampire did not have empathy—only irrepressible bloodthirsty desire. Someone needed to pay for this and I would make them pay. I needed to taste revenge.
But I could not deny the small, nearly silent voice that continued to whisper—the voice of reason, when reason was impossible. While I was the monster.
Don’t do it. You have spent your existence trying to do good. Do not ruin it.
You can still find her.
Indecision weakened my reason. The voice continued to plead for me to choose right. Suddenly, two sets of hands gripped my arms, pulling me to the shadowy corners of the terminal. I struggled, focusing my willpower on my saving grace.
I still could not understand—how could she have run? Why deliberately put herself in danger? It was unfathomable to me. As it was, she attracted enough trouble. I wanted, no needed, to be there to catch her…every time. I wanted to be her guardian angel—I wanted to be the one to keep her safe.
Instead, she had tried to protect me. I had failed to kill the sadistic creature when I had the chance; I had failed to be the voice of reason to prevent my selfless Bella from running.
I only had one thing yet to fail at. Saving Bella’s life.
I tried to break free of Carlisle and Emmett’s hold. They would spend too much thinking this through…perhaps not Emmett—always the go-getter. But Carlisle would analyze the situation, and think of the most tactical, efficient plan. No matter how fast he thought, it would not be fast enough.
Edward, I know where Bella is!
My eyes widened in shock. My miracle. I turned my hopeful eyes to Alice—she was now in the throes of another vision.
Bella, speaking to James, in words that I could not hear.
Bella, fear finally crossing her face, no doubt resisting the urge to run as far away as she could from the beast.
Bella, being thrown into a blazing mirror, blood seeping down her forehead and onto her white clothing.
Me. Me, storming through the doorway to this massacre point, growling with a vengeance at the creature who sought to harm my angel.
I could hear Alice exclaim in the background “ The dance studio! I knew it!”
My arms fell limp to my sides; I stopped my struggle. Emmett and Carlisle did not let me go, however. They waited to be sure that I was not going to do anything rash.
Dance studio? It explained the mirrors, the blazing, taunting mirrors I saw in Alice’s vision. The mirrors that reflected Bella being tossed about the room like a rag doll, blood dripping down her lovely cheeks.
I felt sick inside. In full resplendence I could see the crimson display, the sin of my imaginings, the very elixir of life—her life. Then, the vision darkened.
“Give me my sin again,” I whispered softly. But no one heard—everyone was in motion.
Carlisle had flipped out his silver cell phone, impatiently waiting for Esme to answer. Likewise, Emmett was waiting for Rosalie. Alice and Jasper had run off to commit grand theft auto, or more appropriately, “borrowing a fast getaway car.”
Only I couldn’t move. I was trapped, trapped by my thoughts, my feelings, and for the first time…my heart. For the first time, I could feel the heartless beating, a soundless rhythm that made me numb to all else.
That was, until Jasper and Alice pulled up in a sleek, black Audi R8. In less than a quarter of a second I jumped into the driver’s seat, Carlisle and Emmett sliding into the back next to Jasper. Carlisle was still on the phone.
“No sweetheart, we’re going to head over to Bella’s town right now…yes she went there to find her mother. James kidnapped her and blackmailed Bella into meeting him…Yes. We’ll be careful. Don’t worry, he’s no match for all of us…Alice found her. She’s at a ballet studio…Don’t worry love. Are you sure you’re alright? Rose too? Did that female escape or is she still around…”
His conversation with Esme continued in this vein; I stopped listening. I was on autopilot. My fury, my bloodlust, my fear continued to push me restlessly onward. I threw the vehicle into gear and accelerated off the road and to the highway. I drew satisfaction from the tires squealing in protest as the speedometer read one hundred fifty, and still rising. I switched lanes, darting through traffic at blinding speed.
Alice was hunched over her seat, eyes closed and fingers pressed to her temples, concentrating. Emmett was smiling, in a traditional fashion looking forward to a good fight. Now that Carlisle was off the phone, his face became as stiff as stone—anger. Even Jasper was enraged—he had come to care about Bella. The added emotion put us all on the edge.
I drove. Furiously. It could not take me fast enough, it couldn’t help me escape from the voices, the worry, the feelings. Instead, my anxiety mounted, ripping me inwardly. I wished I could cry, if only to taste the tears.
Instead, I did the only thing I could. I closed my eyes, and spent the remainder of the drive with Bella.
Like before, on the airplane, I effortlessly summoned the image of Bella to my mind. Pure Bella, from the exact pink hues of her blush to the unfathomable depths to her chocolate brown eyes. In my mind I reached out to pull back a loose lock from her mahogany hair, shining in the sunlight…
Sunlight. I could have taken Bella to where the sunlight never yielded, like California. I knew how she loved the sun. Bella was the sun, the radiating light to anything she touched. I would have been able to see her carefree, without any inhibitions, standing at the wake of the ocean and watch the water lick her feet. That girl had the whole world at her feet.
As I loved Bella’s light, I loved the sun for its own sake. The sun was life, invigorating my cold skin with its unique warmth.
I was wrenched from my sanctuary, the blanketed comfort of my fantasies, and my eyes flickered open. I saw it then; it hit me like a concrete wall. We were already there. Alice gazed out the window, and pointed wordlessly to a street sign on the corner of the sidewalk.
Just ahead was the building from Alice’s vision. Exactly as I had seen it. The blinds were closed, and the parking lot was deserted.
The car screeched to a stop, next to the sidewalk. I flashed through the door, already knowing what I would smell. Smelling her, her life’s blood slipping away.
Am I too late?
I was unstoppable, an indomitable force of power and speed. The monster. I knocked down the door, and my eyes zeroed in on the creature, hunched over in a crouch, preparing to pounce. My gaze passed to the small broken form, crumpled and defeated.
I roared, announcing my entrance.
With untapped reserves of speed and force, I barreled into the beast, my fist bludgered across his head with a great crack, and I threw him as far away from Bella as possible. I whirled on edge, lowered into a full crouch, ready to strike again if he so much as moved. It was then that Emmett and Jasper made their own grand entrance, their roars of fury deep and menacing, echoing throughout the small room. They each sprang onto the slumped figure, tearing and clawing at the limp body as if it were no more than a piece of meat. I heard the sound of a high keening emitted from the monster’s lips, his dying cry. I turned away.
“Oh no, Bella, no!” I cried in absolute horror. There she was, my angel’s face, blood dripping out of a deep cut in her head down her radiant cheeks. She was limp, unmoving and unbreathing. Her heartbeat was slow and growing fainter. In the background I could still hear the sounds of Emmett and Jasper at work, ripping and tearing at the creature in their mounting fury, but I could not bear to listen to it in light of Bella’s predicament.
“Bella, please! Bella, listen to me, please, please, Bella, please!” I begged. I gently placed my hands on either side of her and willed her with all my strength to wake from this stupor. Oh how I wished I could cry, to release the utter horror— the fear that was fast overpowering me.
“Carlisle!” I cried in absolute agony, pleading for him to make this all go away. I continued to sob brokenly, stroking Bella’s face and praying to any deity that would listen to save her.
I turned for only a moment to call for Carlisle again when I saw Emmett and Jasper shuffling out of the room as quickly as they could, laden with the broken pieces that were once James. Behind them rushed Carlisle and Alice, Carlisle’s face angry and upset as he knelt beside Bella’s head.
He began methodically removing the shards of broken glass from Bella’s scull, and examined the largest gash with practiced eyes. At his touch, Bella suddenly gasped aloud in pain.
“BELLA!” I cried again. No, no no no no no!
“She’s lost some blood, but the head wound isn’t very deep,” Carlisle informed me in his quiet, collected manner I could only envy. “Watch out for her leg, it’s broken.”
I snarled in fury, rage, and pain at his words. My eyes grazed over Bella’s broken, defeated form. I failed, at the only thing that I could not fail at.
“Some ribs, too, I think.” She’s lucky she’s even breathing still.
“Ehwuh.” Bella tried to speak, her voice was slow and heavy.
“Bella, you’re going to be fine. Can you hear me, Bella? I love you.” Dear God, how true that was! Just please, please keep talking. The sound of her voice brought waves of relief. She was still breathing, she was still holding on…
“Edward,” she said again, her voice louder and more precise this time. My heart lurched with relief.
“Yes, I’m here.”
“It hurts,” she whimpered softly, winces of pain crossing her face.
“I know, Bella, I know…” If only I could make everything go away! Carlisle! Carlisle has the medicine. “Can’t you do anything?” I asked in anguish.
Complete, racking pain… she needs morphine…and I need to stabilize the bleeding…where’s my bag? “My bag please… hold your breath, Alice, it will help,” Carlisle ordered swiftly. I then suddenly realized that Alice was still in the room. I heard the steady rhythm of her breathing stop, and she then knelt down near Bella’s head and began stroking her cheek soothingly.
“Alice?” Bella asked groggily, her reaction times getting slower and slower.
“She’s here, she knew where to find you.” I tried to keep my voice as calm as possible. I hid my broken sobs of anguish; I had to be strong for both of us.
“My hand hurts…” she whimpered again, the expressions of pain on her face becoming more and more gruesome. Oh what could I do?
“I know, Bella. Carlisle will give you something, it will stop.” I promised.
“My hand is burning!” Bella shrieked, and she reached over and clutched her right hand in panic. Her eyes finally fluttered open, and I could see her depthless chocolate pools flooded in bloodshot terror.
What? What was Bella talking about? There’s no fire anywhere… maybe she’s having hallucinations. Unless…no!
“Bella?” I couldn’t believe how frightened my own voice sounded. My breath caught as I stared at her in horror.
“The fire! Someone stop the fire!” Bella screeched again, and her limp body began to twitch and writhe. I had never heard the pounding, pulsing of her heart more erratic and terrified. It was nothing compared to my own. My own, lifeless heart was aching and pulling apart into shreds, as if her pain was magnified in my own body.
“Carlisle, her hand!” I shouted. She must be suffering from some sort of delusion. Carlisle could fix it. Yes, he could fix it, he could fix anything. I took another swift look at her trembling hand and stared closely. I could see a small, crescent shaped puncture wound with small trickles of blood dripping out. No, it can’t be!
“He bit her!” Carlisle gasped, and his calm demeanor suddenly broke. He stared at her withered hand, appalled. I caught my breath again in horror. No! It couldn’t be! Alice gasped in shock, and she reached out to grasp the bitten hand. When Bella wouldn’t relinquish it, she then gently began brushing at the wet blood seeping from the gash into Bella’s eyes.
“Edward, you have to do it.” You have to bite her again. You have to speed the transformation.Then everything will heal and you can be with her forever.
“NO!” I shouted again. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t subject this angel to eternal damnation. She deserved so much more than my curse!
“There may still be a chance.” Carlisle’s voice was once again calm. He continued to apply pressure to Bella’s head and looked up at me with pleading eyes.
“What?” I begged. Anything! Anything at all!
“See if you can suck the venom back out. The wound is fairly clean.”
“Will it work?” Alice’s voice sounded worried. Her own eyes were closed and she was sorting through a myriad of visions at lightening speed.
“Carlisle…” I hesitated, “I…I don’t know if I can do that.” I began to breathe erratically, panic flooding all my thoughts and feelings. What if I couldn’t stop? What if I killed her myself? Even if I did manage to get the venom out, her blood would be impossible to relinquish…no, I can’t do it. I can’t risk it!
I whimpered in agony, though my suffering was not physical. Indecision cut through me like a blazing knife, and the only feeling more powerful than that was the fear that if I didn’t do it… she would die. Or worse, lose her soul!
“It’s your decision, Edward, either way. I can’t help you. I have to get this bleeding stopped here if you’re going to be taking blood from her hand.” Dear God, Edward, just do it! I know you’re strong enough. I know it!
Bella continued to writhe and struggle against Carlisle’s gentle hands. She was sobbing and shaking, her entire body was racked in pain.
“Edward!” Bella screeched again, her eyes fluttering open to stare emptily into my own. Her life was reflected in those eyes. In them I could see boundless amounts of courage. I could see the self-sacrifice, the willingness to suffer for us. But beneath that, I saw the fear, the terror that she was going to die. I saw her pleading for me, for me, to save her. To be her guardian angel once more. To not fail again.
“Alice, get me something to brace her leg!” Carlisle was gently closing the cut on Bella’s head with dressings and bandages. Finally, he was able to stop the blood flow. Bella continued to twitch and scream as the venom crawled through her body, consuming her in flames.
“Edward, you must do it now or it will be to late.”
Bella continued to stare at me, and I found myself lost in her eyes. It was as if the world had stopped. The door to reality was closed. All was quiet. All I saw was my angel’s face, clean from all traces of blood, glowing from the sunlight. We were outside. We were together, just to two of us, alone and unafraid. The pink of her cheeks, the mahogany tones of her hair, her depthless orbs. Her red-rose lips moved slowly, tempting me. It was then I heard her voice, slow and deliberate, but with the gentleness of all the heavenly hosts.
Edward, save me.
The door opened again. I was back in the ballet studio. Bella was still there, bleeding and screaming my name. Her eyes locked on me once more, but they still glowed, glowed from the sunlight, the courage, the passion, the love. Begging me.
I made my choice.
I guarded myself, preparing to pass through hell and back. I reached out and pried her fingers from her bitten hand and secured it in my own. I lowered my head to the puncture, poised and prepared. I hesitated for a single moment. No. I will not fail.
I pressed my lips to her hand, and began to drink.
It was warm. At first, all I could taste was the heat that radiated of Bella’s skin. But then, as I took the first gulp of the delicious elixir, something inside me exploded. I felt the fire, the burning sensation as her blood trickled down the back of my throat. It was delicious. Oh, so much more delicious than I had imagined, even in my wildest fantasies! It consumed me, filled me up and flooded all my senses. I had gone mad, I had gone wild with thirst. The very nectar that I could only dream about, and I was drinking it! I was no longer human, I was no longer even Edward Cullen, I was the vampire. I gulped again and again, the hunting instinct overpowering and dominant. I drank.
Then, I heard her scream.
In that scream I relived the past six months since I first laid eyes on Isabella Swan. I remembered the very first glance, her curious eyes and guarded expression. I remembered the thirst, the hunger and fear that I would lose control next to her in that tiny classroom. I remembered the questions, endless questions. I remembered the longing I had to know her. I remembered the meadow. I remembered her first kiss. I remembered the passion. I remembered the infatuation. I remembered the love.
For the tiniest moment, I remembered my sanity —the small, nearly silent voice that was begging me to stop. It was like the cliché—there was angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other. The demon goaded me, it urged me to drink dry this incredible sustenance. The angel begged me, pleaded that I remember Bella. I could hear Carlisle and Alice’s minds. They each begged me to keep control. I thought of how I would face Carlisle if I didn’t stop, or how I would ever speak to Alice again. I thought of the ninety plus years that I had not taken human blood, and how much Bella meant to me.
My indecision weakened me. I was afraid. No, I must not fail. I must not fail.
The thing that I feared was that the demon was winning. I feared myself. I was afraid that I would not physically be able to stop— that I would drink her dry. That I wasn’t strong enough to push away my innate selfishness when it mattered the most.
That I was going to kill her myself.
Too late. I am killing her myself!
I fought against it. I pushed away the snarling, scathing demon that cried its deathly howl. I repressed it deep into the depths of my sanity. I locked up the vampire. But it would not stop screaming. Its cry was terrible and menacing. For a moment, I was afraid that it would burst through my barriers and consume me once more. That I would live my greatest fear.
Bella would die because of what I am.
With a great cry inside me, I pushed myself away. I retreated from the blood as if it were the most sickening poison. I gasped aloud, and looked down at my beloved once more.
She had quieted, her tremors and writhing had settled, replaced by a content and comforted expression. Peaceful.
“Edward?” She whispered softly.
“He’s right here Bella,” Carlisle said, his voice was filled with relief. Thank goodness. I knew he could do it.
“Stay, Edward, stay with me…”
“I will.” I said very quietly. I was still reveling in the victory. I had beaten the monster! The fight had weakened me, but I won. I saved my angel. But it was so close…I could have taken her… so easily…
Bella sighed contentedly. She looked very sleepy. Alice gently tore a piece of a dressing cloth from Carlisle’s bag and dabbed at the blood on Bella’s face. I watched Bella as she seemed to drift, the world dimming into her dreamland.
“Is it all out?” Carlisle asked worriedly.
“Her blood tastes clean. I can taste the morphine.” I said softly. The taste of her blood still lingered on my tongue, begging me to indulge it again. But I ignored it. I gazed gently at Bella’s dreamy stare, her chocolate eyes closed and content. I reached out and gently brushed them, and ran my finger down the length of her cheek.
“Bella?” Carlisle called out again.
“Mmmmm?” She answered sleepily. She vaguely turned her head in his direction.
“Is the fire gone?”
“Yes,” she sighed. “Thank you, Edward.”r32;“I love you.” I murmured. I gently touched her cheek with my finger again.
“I know,” she breathed with a small smile.
Dear God! How I loved that girl. Only for her would I have been able to stop drinking. I laughed weakly with relief.
“Bella,” Carlisle asked again.
She frowned unhappily. “What?”
“Where is your mother?”
My eyes widened in worry, and I suddenly remembered the reason for Bella’s mistaken escape.
“In Florida,” Bella sighed dreamily. “He tricked me, Edward. He watched our videos.” She tried to conjure some anger in her words, but her voice was so awfully frail and delicate.
“Alice!” She suddenly exclaimed. “Alice, the video—he knew you, Alice, he knew where you came from…” Her voice quieted, as if she was losing concentration. “ I smell gasoline,” she said vaguely.
“It’s time to move her,” Carlisle ordered, and gathered the supplies from his bag and rose.
“No, I want to sleep,” Bella moaned.
“You can sleep, sweetheart, I’ll carry you.” I soothed gently. I reached down and picked up her weightless frame and cradled her head to my chest. My life was in my arms right now.
“Sleep now, Bella.” I whispered quietly, and carried her out of the mirrored prison.
Outside, the sun was still blazing, but I cared little about the fact that I was now sparkling. I lowered Bella into the backseat of the car, and I kissed her forehead with the gentlest of pressure. I turned to see Emmett and Jasper standing near the window of the studio, unbreathing. Carlisle and Alice had just passed through the door as well.
“Alright. We need to destroy the remains,” Carlisle said quietly as he nodded to the broken pile of flesh at Emmett’s feet. “We also need to develop a story for Bella’s current condition, and we need to get her to a hospital as soon as possible.”
“I’ll take care of the story.” Alice said with a mischievous gleam in her eyes. Via her visions, I saw her throwing herself out the second story window of the hotel Bella had stayed at, and landing on the ground completely unharmed. Oh.
She and Jasper danced off in the direction of the parking lot, where I watched as Alice hotwired a car and sped off in the other direction.
“Edward?” Carlisle turned to me, and I nodded grimly. Emmett and I gathered the splintering pieces of flesh and carried them back into the studio. I tossed them unceremoniously onto the pool of Bella’s blood with disdain. Emmett did the same.
You can have the honors, Edward.
He handed me a small package of matches and glared at the sodden pile. I flicked out a match and ran it over the starter. I tossed it onto the wood of the reception desk, which immediately burst into flame. I tossed a few other matches onto random places, and I glared around the room one last time before moving on to James. It was only then that I noticed the television, and the blinking light of a small video camera above it. I ran over to it, and stared at it curiously. What?
I pressed the pause and rewind button, and watched Bella and James’ conversation unfold in front of my eyes. I did not have time to listen to any of it. This must be what Bella tried to tell me about. Something to do with Alice.
I flicked off the camera and pocketed it without a second thought. By now the entire dance studio was flooded in smoke and cloud; the fire was quickly spreading.
Edward! Hurry up.
I nodded once more in Emmett’s direction, and pulled out the last match from the box. I glared at James’ remains, and smirked softly.
And as I flicked on the final match, I dropped it over his broken remains with a malicious smile on my face.
I wordlessly turned out of the dance studio, and slid into the car without a second look.
Carlisle threw the car into gear after Emmett slid in the passenger’s seat, and away we were.
I turned to the angel who sacrificed everything for my sake. With a gentle finger I grazed over her rose petal cheek and smiled grimly.
My Bella. I love you with all my heart. You should never have to suffer because of what I am. But don’t you worry. I will always be your guardian angel. I’ll be here to keep you safe.