What makes us who we are? Our history? Our actions? Our hopes for the future? Our desires for the past? The Cullens try to discover who they really are.
2. Chapter 2
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Maria’s house was decorated in light yellows and blues. It felt very French, which seemed out of context. She led him into a room with more windows than walls with white wicker chairs and a coffee table. “Sit,” she said, not at all kindly. He did. “I suppose you have something you’d like to discuss?” She sat as well.
“Not particularly,” he admitting, shrugging. “I just haven’t seen you in a very long time, and—“
“Through no one’s fault but your own,” she shot.
“I know,” he held his hands up in surrender. “I just wanted to see how you’ve been.”
“I’ve been wonderful,” she snickered. “Couldn’t be happier. And how have you been, Major Whitlock? A good, little boy, I hope.”
“I wasn’t expecting this much hostility from you, Maria,” he shook his head. “It’s been so long.”
“I never forget a betrayal,” she spat. “You should know that better than anyone.”
He shook his head, “I thought you’d have moved on by now. Peter and Charlotte made it sound—“
“Peter and Charlotte are idealists. They make things that are just slightly less than horrible sound wonderful. Another fact you should know better than most,” she shook her head.
“I’m sorry you’re still so angry,” he said, trying to calm her but finding it extremely difficult. After one hundred years, she’d learned how to resist his ability.
“And I’m sorry you’re still so tame,” she growled. She paused, waiting for him to contest the insult. He didn’t. She pursed her lips, “But that doesn’t make much sense, does it? Why come all this way to see me without letting your dear family know if there wasn’t something…missing?”
His face fell.
“But, no. You’re still perfectly content, aren’t you? You enjoy living off of deer and cattle like a savage. You don’t miss that high that fills your whole body at the moment your teeth pierce through some young thing’s skin, and you can hear the scream…”
He’d begun to breath very deeply, fighting hard not to let her mood influence him in any way.
She stood and floated to him, leaning over, so her breath swirled sweetly around his face. She’d fed recently. He stopped breathing. “I can see how much it’s changed you, Jasper. You’re lying to yourself. You’re. Not. Like. Them. Are you?”
He said nothing.
“You can’t keep living like this another day, can you?”
He said nothing.
“The animals don’t scream like you wish they would, do they?”
He took a long, deep breath and whispered, “No.”
They were there very early. At least a half hour would go by before the mass was scheduled to start, and things like that rarely began on time. But neither of them minded waiting.
A girl with shoulder-length dirty blonde hair stopped at their pew, “Hey, Loch Ness. What are you doing here?”
Nessie looked up and smiled at the girl, “Hey.” She shrugged, “Just thought I’d check it out.”
The girl nodded, “Cool. Well, see you around.” She gave a little wave.
“See ya,” Nessie put a hand up as the girl walked away.
Carlisle watched as the girl sat down by herself in a pew on the other side of the church. She opened the hymnal in her lap and looked to be reading intently, when an older woman—her mother, he assumed—joined her. “Is that a friend of yours?” he turned to Nessie.
“Yeah,” she shrugged, “An acquaintance. She was in some of my classes.”
He nodded once, “And she calls you that.”
Nessie smiled, “Loch Ness? Yeah. A bunch of kids do.”
“And Jacob calls you Carlie…” he seemed like he was speaking to himself.
“Yep,” she bit her lip.
“And Emmet calls you…what was it?” his brow wrinkled.
“Rogue,” she groaned.
“Right,” he nodded to himself.
“And Alice used to call me Miriam,” she added, a little too enthusiastically.
Nessie nodded, “After that girl in the Capote story? She was like an adult in a little girl’s body.”
“As, yes, I remember that story. Not an overall positive one, if memory serves.” The girl had almost haunted an older woman, driving her nearly insane.
“No, not really,” she shrugged.
He was quiet for a moment, then shook his head, “Doesn’t that bother you?”
“Everyone calls you something different,” he said.
“Oh,” she smirked. “No, I think, in a weird way, it makes people friendlier.”
He felt the most powerful longing to have that cheerfulness inside him. “But, Miriam was a devil, wasn’t she?”
It took her less than a moment to smile like Mona Lisa and give a tiny little shrug, “Or an angel…”
“You have a house,” Bella stood at the doorway, papers in her hands. Edward looked up from his reading slowly and quietly. She shook her head and handed the papers to him. He didn’t look at them—he knew what they were. “Or is that some other Edward Anthony Masen who claimed the house in 1918 and was never heard from again?”
“It’s a financial investment,” he shrugged.
“Bull,” she sneered.
He shook his head and sighed, “Bella.”
“You kept your house,” she said. “You had to have some reason to do that.”
“No,” she crossed her arms over her chest. “Because you would have sold it by now. I’m sure it’s worth tons. You’ve kept it.”
“It doesn’t mean anything,” he said.
“Of course it does,” her eyes went wide. “You lived there.”
“I don’t remember living there,” he countered.
“But you did!” she snatched the papers back. On the first page was a picture of the Masen estate. It looked exactly like it had in 1918. It seemed odd next to the modern homes around it. He must have paid someone to uphold it. She ground her teeth together.
“You’re upset?” he stood and moved to hold her, but she flinched away.
“I don’t believe you. This has to mean something to you—there has to be some kind of sentimental value—“
“Why? Why is this so important to you?”
“I don’t know!” she sank into the chair he had been sitting in.
They let silence fall over them gently. She bit her lip, hard. He bent down and took her hand in his. “I don’t need that anymore, Bella. I used to. I used to need that connection to something else, but that’s gone now. I’m…I’m happy.”
She remained quiet, but gave one small, understanding nod.
“I wish I could make you happy,” he said very quietly. She had to strain to hear.
Her head shot up instantly, “You do make me happy. You know that. Don’t say that.”
“I’m sorry,” he brought her hand to his lips. “It’s just…you don’t seem happy. There’s something in your eyes that’s impossibly sad. It wasn’t there before…before all this,” he indicated the papers in her lap.
They looked at each other for a long time, both of them afraid to say a word.
Edward pushed himself up so he was face to face with her and whispered, “You won’t forget, love. I promise you.”
“I can’t talk about that,” she whispered back quickly, and he dropped it.
“Let me make you happy,” he begged. “I’ll do whatever it takes. You want me to help you look up lost relatives? That’s fine. I’ll—“
“I want to see it,” she said, quiet but forceful.
“See? See what?” he smiled.
“I want to see the house. I want to go to Chicago.”
She felt like a shadow. She’d been watching Dorothy Daniels for two full days and still could not find the courage to speak to her. Jasper had called four times, and she’d ignored each one.
Dorothy had gone to the supermarket and bought a loaf of bread, some orange juice, ten cups of yogurt (there was a sale), and a bottle of shampoo with cucumbers on the label. She’d followed her through the aisles and watched with such curiosity as she examined each item. Sometimes she picked something up and read the ingredients, then put it back. Alice wanted to ask her why she’d put those items back. Was there something in them she did not like? Was she allergic to it? Was it too fattening? Did if have too many long, unpronounceable words?
She suddenly understood how Edward could watch Bella sleep for two years. Humans were fascinating.
She lived alone. Her husband had died. She wanted to ask her how. She watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and solved the puzzles and said the answers before the contestants. Every time, she would get so excited and turn to her left, only to find the space empty. That was where her husband used to sit.
Alice wanted to cry for her, which was odd, because Alice had never cried. Not even when she thought Bella was dead or when the stock market crashed or when the twin towers fell. She had been close then. She’d wanted to warn someone, but she simply couldn’t. Carlisle told her it was okay; she didn’t believe him.
Dorothy was always asleep by nine o’clock. She slept for twelve hours. Alice remembered Bella saying she would be lucky if she got six.
It was seven thirty on the third day, when a boy approached her outside Dorothy’s house, “Excuse me, miss. Are you lost?”
She was sitting on a bench, listening to Dorothy listen to the television. “No,” she shook her head.
“Are—are you sure? It’s okay if you are,” he smiled. “We all get lost every now and then.”
She wrinkled her forehead, annoyed, “I’m not lost.”
“All right,” he shrugged. “It’s just…I’ve seen you here for a few days now.”
“Are you following me?” she asked, sounding furious. It was ironic, coming from a stalker.
“No!” he smiled. “I just…well, it’s a little weird.”
“And I’m sure very interesting,” she rolled her eyes. “But, if you don’t mind--“
“I just like to walk by here every now and then and check in on…Mrs. Daniels,” he shuffled uncomfortably.
She looked up at him for the first time. He was a teenager—maybe sixteen—with light brown hair and freckles across his nose. “Why do you do that?” she asked, her tone now sweet and curious.
“Oh, I dunno,” he shrugged, looking down at the sidewalk. “I just…her husband—Mr. Daniels—he taught at my school, and he talked about her all the time.”
“Oh,” she said.
“And he always said how he didn’t know what he’d do without her, you know? So…when he died…a bunch of us went to the funeral. He was a really cool guy. Anyway, at the funeral…I saw Mrs. Daniels…and…I dunno, she just looked so lost, you know?”
“Yeah,” she whispered.
“So I come by here sometimes, just make sure she’s okay. Sometimes I stop in and say ‘Hi,’ you know? Just so she has someone to talk to.”
“Is that what you’re doing now?” she asked gently.
“I was going to, yeah,” he shrugged. “But, I mean, if you’re lost I could help you find out where you’re going. I don’t think Mrs. Daniels would mind. In fact, I think sometimes she wishes I would just leave her alone.”
“I doubt that’s true,” she smiled and stood. “I’m Alice.”
“Hi, Alice. Uh, I’m Kyle,” he held his hand out to shake hers, but she just continued to smile.
“I think that’s a really sweet thing that you do for, uh, what was her name? Mrs. Daniels?”
“Yeah,” he nodded.
“And,” she smiled, “I would love to accompany you if you don’t mind.”
“My mother wore the same strand of pearls every time she left the house,” Rosalie held one of Nessie’s dresses. “They were beautiful—a gift from my father. And in the morning, before she woke up, I would sneak into her room and put them on.”
“I don’t remember my mother,” Esme sighed, trying to. “I remember my husband.” She cringed at the thought. Rose didn’t seem to notice.
“I wanted to be just like her,” she closed her eyes. “She was such a lady.”
Esme smiled sadly, “You’re very much a lady, Rose.”
Rosalie bit her lip and put the dress in a box, “I don’t think she was very happy. I don’t remember her smiling much. I just remember her being beautiful…so beautiful.”
“I’m sure she was happy,” Esme closed the box of Nessie’s old clothes. “You probably just don’t remember.”
“She wasn’t happy being a mother, I don’t think. She wasn’t happy around me,” she picked up a doll. “It’s sad.”
“I don’t think it’s true,” she shook her head. “How could anyone not want to be a mother?”
“I don’t really know,” she brushed the dolls hair from her face. “It was all I ever wanted—to teach someone to be a lady like my mother.”
Esme laughed lightly, “I never thought about what I would teach my child. I just wanted one.”
“Emmett says he would adopt with me if I wanted,” she whispered, as if it were shameful.
“Yeah,” she shrugged, and her voice became fragile, “He thinks we can raise her until she’s seventeen or eighteen…”
“Then…” Esme’s voice was colder than she’d meant it to be. It wouldn’t be right, but Rose knew that. They would never go through with it.
“Then…he said she would be like Nessie,” she shook her head. “He wants to make me happy.”
“Would you really…?”
“No,” she sighed. “I couldn’t. Of course I couldn’t.”
If he closed his eyes, the bones of a deer sounded just like the bones of a person. He’d never taken any joy in that sound. There was never any excitement in that. It wasn’t the point.
Emmett dropped the deer and drew the back of his hand across his mouth. His throat burned, just like it always did. He was never satiated, and hunting only made him realize that fully. He sat on a rock and stared up at the trees.
A couple was trudging through the woods about a mile away. “How do you not get lost out here?” a female voice laughed.
“I practically live out here,” a man answered. “There’s a great little spot a little ways from here. Just try and keep up.”
“Do you ever come out here at night?” she giggled.
“Of course. It’s incredible at night,” he said. “Lots of little critters everywhere.”
“Ew,” she scoffed.
Emmett wrinkled his brow. The man seemed to be much older than the girl. She sounded like a girl.
“Almost there,” he was breathing heavily from all the walking. Emmett furrowed his brow—a hiker would not exert so much effort on a little walk.
“What are we going to do when we get there?” she sounded very tired.
He laughed, “Oh, you’ll see.”
Emmett shivered. He did not think of himself as a monster like Edward often did. He’d killed a young girl named Daisy Bellfleurs, but it wasn’t personal. There were worse monsters—and for them, it was personal. It was nothing but personal.
“Jim? Do you love me?” the young girl asked.
He laughed. “Of course, kid. Of course. Well, here we are.”