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Into the Light

Edward has been struggling with the loss of his humanity for almost a century when he discovers his singer, a two-year-old Bella. In a world wrought with violence, greed, and an unquenchable thirst for power, the Cullens' find themselves tangled in an intricate web of half-truths and unfulfilled destinies. There is a reason Edward has walked the earth alone for almost a century, and he is about to find out why when he discovers the consequences of tearing two souls away from each other. Now there is much more at stake than just their love for one another. Will Edward and Bella fulfill their destiny as soul mates and bring balance back to the world or will Edward let his own self-loathing and uncertainty get in the way? I want to give a shout out to eatmySKIRTSx for making this awesome banner for me! She inspired me to make my own above...yay! I was freaked out and you lead me to the right path! Yay! Thanks again!

Story is rated Adult for overall content, but later chapters especially. THANK YOU SO MUCH TO MY BETAS AT PROJECT TEAM BETA! YOU GUYS HAVE HELPED THIS STORY MORE THAN YOU WILL KNOW!Story Summary: Edward has been struggling with the loss of his humanity for almost a century when he discovers his singer, a two-year-old Bella. In a world wrought with violence, greed, and an unquenchable thirst for power, the Cullens' find themselves tangled in an intricate web of half-truths and unfulfilled destinies. There is a reason Edward has walked the earth alone for almost a century, and he is about to find out why when he discovers the consequences of tearing two souls away from each other. Now there is much more at stake than just their love for one another. Will Edward and Bella fulfill their destiny as soul mates and bring balance back to the world or will Edward let his own self-loathing and uncertainty get in the way? ON HIATUS FOR MAJOR REWRITES AND TO COMPLETE STORY Before anyone gets too excited – if anyone is even still interested in this story – I’m taking it down to rework it. I’ve been stuck for so long and part of it is because I backed myself into this extremely complicated corner. I’ve been struggling for many months now with whether to just discontinue the story, try to collaborate with someone, or just bite the bullet and try to finish it. Not to worry though. I finally made the decision to finish it in its entirety, so hopefully the new improved and COMPLETED story will be better than it was. My plan is to finish the entire story before reposting so when it is ready, it will be ready, and no one will have to worry about how flakey I am, lol! Before anyone asks, no I don’t have a timeframe for when I plan to repost, so thanks in advance for all of your patience. Thanks to mylittlebakersdozen for listening to my rants about what to do. She is a fantabulous fanfic writer, and you should check out her story, Model Student, www.fanfiction.net/s/5697704/1/Model_Student, and I’m not saying that just because I beta the story, lol! It’s really sweet and a lot of fun, so get to it and read her stuff while you’re waiting for me ; )


Rating 5/5   Word Count 11417   Review this Chapter


"My Friend"

Kahlil Gibran

My friend, I am not what I seem. Seeming is but a garment I wear-a care-woven garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee from my negligence.

The "I" in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, and therein it shall remain forever more, unperceived, unapproachable.

I would not have thee believe in what I say nor trust in what I do--for my words are naught but thy own thoughts in sound and my deeds thy own hopes in action.

When thou sayest, "The wind bloweth eastward," I say, "Aye it doth blow eastward"; for I would not have thee know that my mind doth not dwell upon the wind but upon the sea.

Thou canst not understand my seafaring thoughts, nor would I have thee understand. I would be at sea alone.

When it is day with thee, my friend, it is night with me; yet even then I speak of the noontide that dances upon the hills and of the purple shadow that steals its way across the valley; for thou canst not hear the songs of my darkness nor see my wings beating against the stars--and I fain would not have thee hear or see. I would be with night alone.

When thou ascendest to thy Heaven I descend to my Hell--even then thou callest to me across the unbridgeable gulf, "My companion, my comrade," and I call back to thee, "My comrade, my companion"-for I would not have thee see my Hell. The flame would burn thy eyesight and the smoke would crowd thy nostrils. And I love my Hell too well to have thee visit it. I would be in Hell alone.

Thou lovest Truth and Beauty and Righteousness; and I for thy sake say it is well and seemly to love these things. But in my heart I laugh at thy love. Yet I would not have thee see my laughter. I would laugh alone.

My friend, thou art good and cautious and wise; nay, thou art perfect--and I, too, speak with thee wisely and cautiously. And yet I am mad. But I mask my madness. I would be mad alone.

My friend, thou art not my friend, but how shall I make thee understand? My path is not thy path, yet together we walk, hand in hand.



The emotional roller coaster I had been riding for the past few days forced me to acknowledge that the more time I spent with Bella, the more I could physically feel the bond between us strengthening. Over time I began to recognize that it was as if Bella was trying to teach me, to guide me. It felt as if she had been trying to show me that this life could be viewed from many different perspectives, and she offered me a way to view it through a different lens, a way to acknowledge that the world around us was not static, but rather filled with vibrant and dichotomous differentness. She had shown me that without joy and love as everyday constants, I was merely existing, not living, thus I could not recognize all the things I had been missing in my long life.

While not surprising after everything else that had come to a head in the growing chaos of my world, this realization made me feel like I was slowly suffocating. I couldn't seem to wrap my mind around the magnitude of what the near future held for all of us, and I struggled to mask the fear that was slowly taking over. I became acutely aware that Bella's presence in my life was more like a constant confrontation with my tormented existence. She challenged my world with the purity of her joy and love; she was a force of nature, a symbol of possibility and hope. The possibility of what I was not sure but the hope that one day I might find out. All I knew for sure was that I had to protect her, protect her life, her humanity, her very being. If I failed to do so, then my fears would become reality, a reality that would surely end me.

The moment that my mind made connection with the possibility that Bella's fate was unequivocally aimed for the epicenter of an archaic and violent end, the veracity with which she could be taken from me as if she had never existed was almost enough to break me right then and there. That moment sewed the seed of fear deep within the depths of my soul (if it was truly there) that had become so palpable that the moments that I was away from Bella were filled with abstract and nonsensical waking nightmares. Images filled with light and dark, night and day, right and wrong, good and evil filled my mind. My only reprieve came in the presence of the very being for which these images were haunting me.

Somehow I managed to mask my fear from Jasper, and with the advent of Bella's new talent, I had also managed to keep these thoughts from clouding her young mind as she went head to head with Jasper in one last poker round, which she coincidently won without the aid of her ability. Emmett beamed with pride as his pupil successfully took Jasper for all he was worth-in chips at least-much to his chagrin. I was glad Bella's animated gestures and grand scheming were able to cut through the tension that had been building up since discovering the possibility that the Fates had a larger purpose for her just two days prior.

Soon enough we all had to make our way back to reality to have a frank and serious discussion about everything that had surfaced over the past few days. We had to prepare Bella for the Denalis arrival as much as we had to brace ourselves for what potentially lay ahead.

Given that I wasn't sure if I was blocking all of my thoughts from her, I felt it necessary to prepare Bella as much as I could for what we planned to discuss with her without actually discussing anything with her. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to accomplish doing so, either. If I was being honest with myself, I was petrified at how much she had overheard--our thoughts an open book for her to critically analyze, especially over the last few days. The implications could be detrimental to how we would move forward as a family if Bella were to let any of her knowledge slip into the wrong hands. Not that she really had the opportunity to fall into random conversations with strangers, let alone meet someone new without our knowledge, but there was always the chance encounter to be weary of. The Volturi might not have had a reason to check in on their dear friend, Carlisle then, but any hint of suspicious activity or dissention from our laws would bring unwanted attention to us, and possibly our ultimate demise.

Bella was snuggling up to me while we sat together on the living room sofa. It was a quiet moment-no words or thoughts-just us, Bella's heartbeat, and the calm before the storm. Edward, is something wrong? Ah, my instincts were correct-I was not doing a very good job of blocking my thoughts from her. I inwardly smiled for even considering that I could get anything past her now. I would need to find out if there was a physical marker for when she had turned her talent off. Unlike my family, I was not as practiced at masking my internal diatribes. As it was, I felt like my thoughts were on pins and needles.

No, love, I just have something important to talk with you about, and I am struggling to find the words to do so. I pulled her onto my lap so I could speak to her face-to-face. She looked at me with such adoration as if to motivate me to continue.

It's okay, Edward. You're my best friend. You can tell me anything, remember? She always knew just what to say to make me feel better. I lovingly stroked my little one's soft chocolate brown tresses to soothe her anxiety.

Of course, I know I can tell you anything... Another silence settled over us, but only briefly. Bella,in a little while the whole family is going to sit down with you so that we can talk about some of the things you and I spoke about earlier. I paused for her reaction.

The family meeting you've all been thinking about, right? You want to talk about being vampires. The latter was a was a statement, not a question.

Ah, you are a perceptive little one. I have to give you that. I laughed half-heartedly. That isn't the only thing we need to speak with you about, I'm afraid.

Something more than just vampires!? Oh! Tell me! Tell me! Why she had gotten so excited at the possibility of discussing something other than our demonic nature was beyond me, but she did have an uncanny way of viewing the world through rose colored glasses.

Umm...my apologies, but nothing quite as exciting as you might think. Later this evening we are expecting some visitors.

We are?

Yes, and we consider them family in many ways. We are hoping that one of them, Eleazar, will be able to answer some questions for us about your ability to hear and project thoughts.

You hear thoughts too, so will he talk to us about you, too?

No, love. My ability is different than yours, and because of that, we were hoping Eleazar could help us understand your ability a bit better.

Is it because I'm not a vampire? Her silent question was nothing more than a whisper crossing my mind's threshold as her expression morphed into one of shame and guilt. She averted her eyes from my concerned expression to that of the sofa cushion. I could relate-there was less judgment to be bestowed upon from the cushion, but alas, avoidance was not the best laid plan.

I tilted her face back toward mine, and with a soft intensity tried to make her understand what I was saying. That is part of it, yes, and I would be lying to you if I said it wasn't. Bella, you are a very special little girl. Always remember that. No matter what happens, that will not change. Okay?

She nodded her understanding as her apprehension slipped away, but only minutely.

Good. I am very pleased that we are on the same page now. I gave her a reassuring wink, winning me only a half-smile in return. Eleazar has a special ability just like you, Alice, and I do. I would leave the explanation of Jasper's ability for later when he was present. Instead of hearing other's thoughts or seeing the future, he can sense abilities in others-humans and vampires-and how strong they are or how strong they will be. He should be able to tell if there are any other abilities that you might possess as well. I know this can be overwhelming, but it is important because you are not a vampire, and are therefore much more fragile than the rest of us are. We want to make sure that you do not cause yourself unnecessary harm if your power grows too strong.

Bella took me by surprise at that point when she moved from the security of my lap to the other side of the sofa. I'm different. I'm different than all of you-I know. I didn't know it could hurt me. I won't do it anymore; I'll turn it off so I can't hear your thoughts. For the first time since I walked out the door her first night with us, her large coffee colored eyes began to glisten with fear and impending tears. I wasn't expecting that reaction.

Well Played, Edward. The sarcasm of my inner voice was not lost on me as I mentally slapped myself for my inability to say exactly what I meant and to say it with conviction. I was only trying to reassure her, but with each word that came out of my mouth, I only succeeded in making her feel stigmatized as a result of her gift and her humanity.

Way to go Edward! What did you say to make Bella cry? Of course Alice would see my unmistakable blunder. It would seem that Alice's visions involving Bella as of late had seemingly multiplied. At least this vision was nothing more than a silent film.

I needed to correct this, so I ignored Alice, hoping that Bella was too distracted to hear her angry rant aimed at me. I got up from my spot on the sofa, walked over to where Bella was sitting, and knelt down in front of her. I put my hands softly on either side of her face to make sure I had her full attention. Bella, look at me. We will always love you. It makes no difference to us what you are. Yes, it is true that you are different in every way from us-you are human and we are vampires. Your heart is full of blood and ours are not. You require food and water, and we do not. You will grow older and blossom into your adulthood, while we are frozen in time as we are. Listen to me; none of these differences hold a negative connotation, and are all qualities that we hold near and dear to our hearts. Okay, so maybe I didn't truly believe this, but I was trying to make a point, and in the end that was what was most important. At least that was my motivation at the time. I will prove it to you, okay? She looked up at me as soft tears slid down her heated cheeks.

Okay. I want you to think about chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Does chocolate ice cream taste the same as vanilla?


They are both ice cream, though, right?


Which one do you like better?

Chocolate, but I like vanilla too, she thought in a rush.

Well, then. I think it is safe to say that just because chocolate ice cream tastes better than vanilla, doesn't mean only one of them tastes good, right? They are two distinctly different flavors, right? I pulled her into my arms again to reassure her.

Right. She was full-heartedly agreeing with me now.

Who would want ice cream spanning the colors of the rainbow but all tasted the same?

But, Edward, you don't like ice cream. You don't even eat food! She silently shrieked in her amusement at me. Okay, so I definitely would not be partaking in any ice cream tastings any time soon, but again, I was trying to make a point, and of course she called me on it. I had to laugh.

True, I would never touch the stuff, but you wouldn't want only one flavor of ice cream, would you? Honesty seemed to be the best policy at this point-to a degree, and it felt nice to speak openly about not eating human food with her.


Okay, then. Now let's think about the differences between you and me. Is your hair the same color as mine?


We both have hair though, right?


Are your eyes the same color as mine?


We both have eyes though, right?


Feel my hand. Am I colder or warmer than you? She grasped my hand with hers tentatively.


We both have hands though, right?


Okay, so, I look different than you do because I don't have the same color eyes or hair than you, and my hands feel differently than yours do because they are colder to the touch. That said, though, we agree that we both have hair, eyes and hands, correct?


You see, love, physical characteristics don't change the fundamental purpose of our physical bodies. We are made up of essentially the same parts. Physically we may not look or feel the same way, but the same basic parts have the same basic purpose-we both have hair on our heads to cover our heads, our eyes allow us to see, and our hands allow us to hold onto things. The physical differences are only skin deep, but just like with the ice cream we wouldn't want everything to taste the same, nor would we want to look exactly like each other either. Without variety in life, love, we would never learn and grow. We would never experience all the wonderful, new, and exciting things this world has to offer. If we were all the same, I would never have gotten to meet you. Like I said before, you are a very special little girl, and I would not change a hair on your precious head. I felt like I was grasping at straws. If I could still blush, I'm sure I would have been beet red from embarrassment and becoming utterly flustered.

Very good, Edward. Now if we can only get you to believe in your own words. I could imagine Alice's smug look two floors above as she sat painting her nails in her bedroom. I had to roll my eyes.

I saw that, Edward! Alice shrilled at me.

Bella started giggling hysterically.

Don't worry, Edward. Everything will be fine, you'll see. My vehemently loyal sister's melodious laughter spread like wild fire throughout the house.

"Thank you, Alice. I will leave any further discussion for later," I said aloud to my meddling, but loving sister. I heard a few more snickers from throughout the house. Oh, well that's just great. I am an almost a century old vampire, and I still have not mastered the fine art of communication. Bella looked at me with laughter twinkling in her warm chocolate orbs to which I rolled my eyes. Yes, I actually rolled my eyes at a near-five-year-old.


The moment came for us all to gather around the dining room table with Bella. Knowing that we had not been able to find out any more about the prophecy had left us all discouraged, but we all tried to put up a brave front. Carlisle and Esme sat at one end of the table, hands clasped lightly, both were calm yet expectant. Rosalie and Emmett sat to one side of them, Alice and Jasper to the other, with Bella taking up her usual post on my lap at the opposite end of the table. Although Rosalie appeared somewhat aloof, her thoughts contradicted her demeanor. She was unable to hold back some of her anxiety for Bella's safety-a protective older sister she truly was. Emmett sat next to her with his arm held loosely around her shoulders, and while not always the most serious being his thoughts were edged slightly with anxiety and anticipation. His concern was focused on the unknowns, much the same as everyone else. Alice was conflicted knowing the outcome of our "family meeting" but frustrated and concerned about what she wasn't able to see. She sat next to Jasper with a semi-faux smile and sense of calmness. Jasper appeared to be trying to untangle himself from the hodgepodge of emotions swirling around the room. In a sense I could related to him with the relentless battery of thoughts constantly going through my head.

Bella and I sat quietly together, to my knowledge, our mental link closed. The silent calm between us brought the comfort of familiarity but also heightened my anxiety for not knowing what she was thinking. My long felt frustration with Bella's silent mind began to bubble to the surface. The somber mood, heightened by my own brooding thoughts were softened, though, as sporadic memories of Bella's earlier antics floated through the room-a flicker of a smile here and there from my brothers and sisters only confirmed their thoughts of Bella revealing her secret ability. It seemed these memories alone were enough to offer a bit of relief for some of the uncontrollable tension and anxiety we all had simmering just below the surface. The inner musings of my brothers and sisters were indicative of their shock and amusement toward Bella's ability to hear their thoughts, but more so that she could make them hear hers. In some ways, the experience made them slightly empathetic to what I had gone through all these years. To their knowledge, there was no way to block Bella from gaining entrance to their minds, so they had no control of stopping her from doing so.

Bella sat quietly contemplative. Her expression was unreadable, her mind still impenetrable. Although I was without any mental or physical cues as to whether Bella had flipped the switch on her ability or not, it was highly amusing to watch her non-existent facial expressions as each thought passed through my mind. She gave no indication that she was in fact listening-especially when the poker game was brought up, but somehow I knew she was. How I knew, I could not explain, but knew that I would need to explore this observation further. Finally, Bella caved, albeit cautiously, to ask me a silent question. Edward, should I tell everyone that I know what you are, about vampires? It's just that everyone keeps thinking about it? I most definitely would need to expand upon my already rich observations of my little one-she had been listening.

Patience, love. Let's see what Carlisle has to say first. You're right to want to tell them, though, and you will shortly.

She merely blinked her acknowledgement.

"Hello, everyone; I hope you are all well." Such a human thing to say and Carlisle was a master of human gestures and manners with a bedside manner molded from hundreds of years as a physician. "Bella, sweetheart, have you been enjoying yourself today?"

"Oh, yes! I beat everyone at cards!" She laughed with a twinkle in her eye.

"Is that so?" He asked her. His thoughts said something different, as did everyone else's, as I was bombarded with amused thoughts heavily laced with praise and approval for Bella's earlier performance. Esme, ever the proud mother, praised her youngest daughter, while Rosalie had seemingly recovered from her recently developed competitive side. Apparently, Emmett needed some more convincing that Bella could in fact turn her ability off. That could be arranged. Jasper's thoughts, however, gave away his constant need to be fair and balanced-at least where Bella was concerned. I had to agree with Alice, though. She was right; the live action version was much funnier than it was in her vision.

Bella and I both looked at each other and smiled brightly before she finally answered Carlisle. "Well, I did what Emmett taught me; he's a good teacher," she said thoughtfully of the burley man-child. He continued to beam with pride, but didn't say anything.

"I'm sorry I missed that, as I'm sure it was very entertaining, to say the least. Perhaps another time, my dear. Now, to the matter at hand; we have some things we need to discuss as a family right now. Bella, we wanted to talk with you, specifically about some very important..."

Bella cut him off, "I know what you are."


"Excuse me?" Carlisle was not easily taken aback, but then Bella seemed to have that effect on everyone.

"You want to talk to me about being vampires," she stated simply.

I could not help but smile. I see patience is something we need to work on, love.

Her tiny mouth curved slightly as she tried to play it off as part of her innocent child's charm while everyone except Alice gaped open-mouthed directly at her. Granted her little stunt had raised everyone's suspicions about how much she knew, but no one wanted to break away from the carefree moments from earlier that afternoon, so Carlisle and Esme were still the most shocked by her lackadaisical demeanor.

What? I've known you were all going to talk to me about this. I can hear all your thoughts, remember?

My instantaneous laughter only served to put a puzzled look on Carlisle's face. Edward, what is going on? Is there something that you and Bella would like to share with the rest of us? In that moment I felt like I had been caught passing notes in class-good thing I couldn't blush. Bella and I both looked at each other and started laughing. We were had, and I couldn't help but feel a little bit lighter at the knowledge of our mischievousness. Bella was most definitely changing my behavior as well as my outlook on life.

"Our apologies, Carlisle, Esme. Everyone else has been brought somewhat up to speed with the recent discovery that Bella has a talent for reading minds, and has been able to for quite some time. I only found out about it this afternoon when she decided to surprise me by answering my thoughts, which was nothing short of shocking..." Bella's thoughts quickly interrupted my short monologue.

Wait Edward! I want to tell them about my secret-our secret!

I looked down at my sweet little angel, bubbling with excitement. I easily acquiesced. "Okay Bella, go ahead."

Bella began to speak again quite animatedly, "That's not all either. I can make you hear my thoughts, too!" she said, almost squealing with her excitement. "I just figured that out today, though. I'm not sure how, but it is so much fun! That's how we decided to play a trick on Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper during our card game!" she said looking around the table stopping at Emmett's face. "I'm sorry again, but you should have seen the look on your face, though, Emmett!" She giggled.

Carlisle sat contemplatively until he found the right words, shocked above all else. "Well, I cannot say I am all that surprised that you have a special ability, Bella, as I have had my suspicions for quite some time. Let's backup for a moment, though, shall we, sweetheart? How long would you say that you have had or were aware that you had this ability?"

"Well, I'm not sure exactly when it started, but I know I could hear Edward when he first found me." There was a very obvious round of gasps that circulated the room. However, everyone was quick to cover them up with the thinking that even though Bella may have been able to hear all of our thoughts, she still had human hearing, thus would not be able to hear us if we spoke at the higher frequencies accustomed to vampires. Of course that line of reasoning made no sense considering she could hear our thoughts-thoughts that also occurred at vampire speed. I would like to say that collectively our intelligence had overlooked that detail, but really we were all in a bit of denial.

"Okay. Let me make sure I understand this correctly. Bella has had the ability to hear all of our thoughts since Edward found her, she can project her own thoughts into other's minds, and she has been able to mask this ability from everyone until she told you about it today, Edward? Please do not misunderstand. It is amazing, Bella, that you were able to do so without anyone discovering your talent. I'm assuming you have heard much in the time you have lived with us, which, I'll be quite honest, is slightly unnerving to even think about. Be that as it may, Edward, since you have had a chance to talk with Bella about her gift in more detail, can you tell us if it works the same way as yours does?"

I chuckled slightly because it would seem that Carlisle and I were truly cut from the same cloth. Upon receiving the information of Bella's ability, we were both concerned over what she may or may not have overheard and how much she understood. "Well, yes and no. If it helps ease your anxiety a bit, Carlisle, Bella figured out a way to flip a switch, as she explained it to me earlier, so she can block out external thoughts on command. That is definitely different than how my ability works, as we all know. When we first began talking about it, we discovered that she could also project her internal voice into my mind. I'm not sure what triggered this because she said it had never happened before today, right love?"

Bella's innocent nod unleashed a frenzy of curious thoughts from Carlisle's mind. "Fascinating...a human child with a fully developed form of telepathy and has learned to control that ability that would rival a truly powerful immortal. Tell me, Bella, how is it that you learned to ‘flip the switch' as Edward explained?"

"I'm not really sure exactly. Sometimes my head would start to hurt when I could hear your voices inside my head. I remember wishing the voices would just go away. I didn't want to tell any of you because I was scared you would get mad at me for keeping a secret, so I just kept wishing for the voices to stop until finally they did. I wasn't sure what happened, so I thought about hearing the voices again, and they came back. I think it's like a turning a TV on and off...I think about hearing your thoughts and I hear them, or I think about shutting your voices off, and I don't hear them-like a TV."

I was aware, now, of why Bella had not spoken up about her ability when she was first able to do so, but it was just as heart wrenching to hear her tell everyone she thought we would be angry with her. I gently kissed the top of her head, and then stroked her soft natural curls in encouragement. "Remember what we talked about earlier, love. We are not nor will we ever be angry with you for something you had no control over happening to you. Don't ever apologize or feel badly about who you are and what you are capable of, okay?" She leaned in further to me, accepting my comfort, so I knew she understood.

"Edward is absolutely correct, sweetheart! We could never be angry with you for such a thing. The important thing is that now you know you can tell any of us anything, right?" Esme's words were filled with such truth and conviction that only a mother could possess, that even I had felt better for having heard them.

"Thank you for being so nice. I love you all so much...I just didn't want to mess anything up. From now on, though, I promise I'll tell you if something is wrong. You know it's not like I have it turned on all the time, though. I mean you all have some crazy thoughts! Sometimes they aren't even words, just noises..."

A very audible gasp was let out as we all trained our stunned amber eyes on Bella; it was Carlisle though who verbally cut her off. "Okay then...Bella...I think we all know what you are talking about. You don't have to explain any further. I think it might be a good idea to set some ground rules for when it is appropriate and not appropriate for you to use your ability since you are able to flip the switch so-to-speak." Carlisle, while the seasoned medical professional of the family, was rambling. Bella had managed to fluster him, which was not an easy thing to do, mind you. If vampires could blush the entire room would have been glowing red with embarrassment, especially the couples sitting around the table. I didn't have be privy to one of Alice's visions to know that we would have an extensive conversation later about how to deal with this new development.

"Okay, Carlisle. I'm good at following rules!" Bella spoke excitedly, completely missing the underlying nervous breakdown we were all trying to mask. Everyone did manage to breathe a much needed, although unnecessary, sigh of relief.

While everyone was distracted with trying to cover thoughts of all the possible things Bella may have over heard since she has lived with us, I took the opportunity move the conversation back on track. "You know, although I didn't say as much to Bella at the time, I originally thought that her ability to project her own thoughts could have been related to direct touch because she was sitting on my lap the first time it occurred. However, she projected her thoughts to everyone else at the end of the first hand of cards, myself being the only one she directly touched since she was on my lap at the time. That said, I think it's safe to rule out direct touch as a catalyst for her to project her thoughts, and, as far as I can tell, she only hears thoughts as they are happening, similar to the way I hear them. So, we know her ability is different from Aro's, but that does not mean it won't develop further. I think this is where Eleazar can be of some assistance. On a lighter note, it was Bella's projected thoughts that gave us away during the card game when she started gloating about winning the hand." I looked around the room with an obvious smirk plastered on my face. "You all have to admit it was kind of hilarious."

It was all anyone could do to keep from busting out laughing just as Bella mustered up enough courage to defend her prowess as an up-and-coming card shark. "What? I've got skills! Emmett said so, and I beat Jasper fair and square! You all loved it, and you know it! Your thoughts told me so!" Bella exclaimed with a high pitched squeal. Her rant sounded very much the product of the time she had spent with Emmet, but also began laughing so hard she almost rolled off my lap, which of course made everyone else fall into fits of their own laughter.

After everyone calmed down, which I'm not going to lie, took a little while, Carlisle addressed what I said before all the laughter distracted us. "I agree with Edward that Eleazar will be able to provide us with some more insight with regard to Bella's ability. Edward, did you and Bella talk about our expected visitors this evening?" he asked me directly.

"Yes, we did, but only briefly. I told her that all of the Denalis would be visiting, but mostly I spoke of Eleazar's talent and how he might help us to understand her ability a bit better."

Turning to Bella, Carlisle asked, "Bella did you have any questions about them? You know that Eleazar and his family are like us, right?"

"Oh, well...no, Edward didn't tell me that, but I'm excited to meet new people!" she answered enthusiastically.

"Oh, you will love them, Bella! Kate, Irina and Tanya are so much fun! We will have to put on a super sized fashion show for them when they get here!" I knew Alice was just trying to be encouraging for Bella's sake, but seriously, Tanya? Fun? I had my doubts about how she would interact with Bella, but I slyly kept those thoughts from surfacing, which was quite difficult, I might add. Once again I felt complete empathy for everyone having to attempt to filter their thoughts from me for so long, but I was also beginning to feel envious of the amount of practice they had in actually doing so.

"Oh, that sounds like so much fun!" Bella replied.

"It's a good thing we went shopping recently, girls," Esme chimed in.

"I told you it was a good idea to hold off on giving Bella all the new clothes we got for her!" my little pixie sister chortled.

Shhh, Edward, don't say anything, but I already saw the clothes because they were thinking of them when they got home!

I struggled to keep from choking on my laughter at this new revelation. Our Bella was certainly sneaky... We had our work cut out for us, that was for certain.

"You can see the future! Why didn't you just tell us that in the first place! It would have been a lot simpler," Rosalie huffed with a smile. Of course, she knew Alice had her reasons. We had long since been aware that if Alice had a vision, but did not tell us right away, there was usually a reason for it.

Knowing when to keep silent, Jasper and Emmett refrained from joining any talk of shopping clothes, or modeling for fear of being forced to take part in said activities. It was not beneath Alice or Rosalie to treat their husbands as mannequins from time to time. I, thankfully, had somehow managed to avoid these most heinous of occasions.

"Okay, everyone, let's focus if we can, please?" Carlisle asked to calm everyone, while I wondered if the women in our family suffered from a rare form vampire ADD.

What's ADD, Edward?

Oh, never mind, Bella, I was just making a little joke to myself. Apologies.

Uh, okay. She gave me a confused half grin.

Carlisle continued, "Bella, I have no doubt you will get on with our extended family famously. That said, I want to make sure that you fully understand everything about our nature, even though you have told us that you know that we are vampires. So let me ask you, do you understand what that means? Do you have any questions?" Carlisle did not so much look concerned, but hesitant as he wanted to make sure that anything we spoke of regarding our nature as vampires would not scare Bella. I could understand his hesitancy on instinct alone. We all wanted to protect Bella's innocent sensibilities and doey-eyed perspective of how the world worked.

As if she sensed our protectiveness, Bella broke into a verbal sprint of sorts. "I know it means that you are different than me...butdon'tworry!Iknowbeingdifferentisokay!" Naturally, she received a few concerned stares.

I couldn't help but feel both pleased and guilty for her reaction to Carlisle's question. I decided to relay an abridged version of our earlier botched conversation to protect my little one from having to further explain what she meant. "Apologies, everyone. That was my fault. I thought it would be a good idea if I spoke with Bella alone before we all met this afternoon. I know I had decided we should all speak with her together, but I just wanted to prepare her a bit for this discussion. Needless to say, I should have waited." I looked down into my little one's imploring eyes, and found the courage to continue. "I was concerned about Bella's mental state of being with regard to what she may have overheard from our thoughts. I thought she might feel more comfortable with this discussion if I talked to her first." I paused momentarily to collect myself of the utter embarrassment I felt at my own foolishness. I narrowed my gaze on Jasper who was sitting with a wide smirk. Evidently he had spoken to Alice.

"Jasper? You are not helping."

"Sorry, Edward. Just a bit of fun. I'll back off. Please continue." He looked more pleased with himself than guilty of making me feel worse than I already had about upsetting Bella earlier. Before I could continue, though, my efforts were thwarted by the gun-slinging tenor of the rest of the family's thoughts, which were just as unpleased as Alice's thoughts had been earlier. Regardless of how vague my explanation was, it had now become instinct for the entire family to come to Bella's defense, no explanation needed, apparently. I was highly amused; however, as I witnessed each one of my family experience Bella's ability first-hand as they flung their thoughts at me. In their angst, each had pushed aside the knowledge that she could send and receive thoughts like a two way radio, which took each them off guard.

To any outside observer, the room would have appeared totally silent, but in reality, there was a succession of accusations toward me and defenses from Bella being flung around the room from one mind to another. I observed intently as Bella calmed Carlisle and Esme, reassured Rosalie, chastised Emmett, and begged Jasper not to cause me emotional harm. I settled in for a brief lapse in our discussion, to which I stayed completely silent. Well maybe I was laughing, but it was on the inside, and only Bella could hear me, so I figured that was okay. The entire scene played out like I was watching a tennis match, but it was thoughts that were being served back and forth across the net...

Did you frighten her, Edward?

Oh, no! Edward would never scare me, Carlisle!

Oh, Edward. I hope you didn't say anything too horrible?

Don't worry, Esme. I'm okay.

What did you do now, Edward?

He was just trying to help, Rosalie.

We need to have a talk about how to approach serious
discussions with the pipsqueak, Eddie.

Hey! I'm not a pipsqueak, Emmett! Don't be mad at Edward,
he told me he was sorry. I just didn't understand, and now I do.

I should make you feel just as bad as you made her feel, Edward.

No you shouldn't, Jazz! Please don't hurt Edward!

Don't worry Bella, he won't. Remember, I can see the future.
He's just teasing Edward. Not to worry, my little mind meddler!

Thanks Alice!

With the exception of Alice, who had obviously seen the whole silent Bashward contest, each time Bella responded to one of their thoughts, she shocked them into a stunned silence. I have to say, it pleased me to have at least one ally in this contest of words, even in light of the fact that she was the victim of my poor communication skills. Well, having the pixie on my side was helpful, too. I guess. I refocused my attention back to what I was saying, but not before I sent my gratitude to my brave mind-wandering warrior. Thank you, love. I could not have said it better myself.

That was fun!

With a smug look I turned back to my family. "May I continue now, please?"

Everyone nodded, and remained silent save for Alice's slight chuckle.

"As I was saying, after I dislodged my foot from my mouth, Bella and I discussed, in the most basic ways, how we are different from her-yes, I specifically said she is human and we are vampires. I explained that we will be having visitors, and that Eleazar will attempt to get a feel for her current ability and any others she might possess. But...we also talked about how important it is to remember that just because we are not the same does not mean that she is any less or more than we are and vice versa. For all intents and purposes, I believe we are on the same page. She understands our physical differences, and has picked up bits and pieces over time through our thoughts." As I looked around the room, a note of understanding seemed to settle over everyone. I felt my body relax, releasing anxiety that I had not known was there. I turned to Carlisle hoping to coax him back into the lead of the discussion.

"That's excellent, Bella...Edward. I'm very pleased that you spoke about this. Edward, I am curious, though, did you go over any of the specifics of our nature with her?" Damn it! Carlisle knew exactly where to drive the stake in, so-to-speak. Well, two could play at that game.

"Unfortunately, no, Carlisle, I did not. I thought you would be a better fit for such an explanation." I smiled innocently at him.

My apologies for making you feel uncomfortable, son. Of course I will explain. Huh. Nothing like a large side of guilt to make a vampire speechless. I barely nodded in response to his thought while Bella grasped my hand, understanding my need for her support in that moment.

"Well, Bella, so I know that you are aware that our skin is different from yours. I'm assuming it feels hard and cold to your touch, correct?"

"Doesn't it to you, too?" she asked most curiously.

"Not exactly, Bella. Touch your arm for me, please."

"Okay," she complied.

"Your skin feels warm and soft to you, doesn't it?"

"Yes, it does." She was running her small hand up and down her arm, poking at her skin every so often as if this test were the most important thing she had ever had to do. I would have been amused had Carlisle not ruined the moment with his next statements.

"That is actually how one vampire feels to another, so in a sense, our skin is similar to yours, but only when another vampire comes into contact with our skin. Okay... What else... You have mentioned our sparkling skin in the past, so I know you know about that. We also do not require sleep, nor do we eat human food. Our bodies are not filled with blood as yours is, either. Rather ours flow with venom, which is poison to humans, can kill humans..." Everyone was silent as Carlisle trailed off, realization settling over the room at the magnitude of the statement he had just made. "I know this is difficult everyone, but the reality is that we are in fact vampires, and we can in fact hurt humans quite easily, I might add. However, we need to make sure Bella is armed with the correct knowledge should anything ever happen." He spoke softly, cognizant of how difficult this was going to be for many of us to handle, me especially.

Bella remained silent, calm, but she did not appear frightened. Her gaze fell imploringly on Carlisle's somber face. She wanted him to continue.

"Bella, sweetheart, do you understand that as vampires, we live an immortal life, a life where we cannot die, or at least not that easily. Instead of eating human food like you do, we drink blood, but unlike others of our kind, we only drink the blood of animals. We are what you might call vegetarians, similar to a human whom only eats vegetables. Aside from us and the Denalis, most other vampires drink from..."

"Carlisle stop! Is it really necessary to go into this much detail? You are going to give her nightmares for God's sakes!" I could feel my anger begging to be released; anger that had unknowingly been building up over the last few days, but reaching its boiling point over the last few moments.

"It's okay, Edward, please don't yell at Carlisle," Bella implored. "I could tell you were all scared to talk to me about this. I could hear it in all of your thoughts. If it makes you feel any better, I already knew you drank blood instead of ate food like me. You all think about it sometimes. I know that my blood might taste good to some of you, and is why Carlisle always helps me when I get hurt. I know my real mommy and daddy died, and you are not like them or me, so I didn't think you could die, but I wasn't sure; now I am. I know you can hear things really far away...I wish I could too...hmm...The only thing I didn't really know was that you never sleep... Oh my gosh! Do you get to play games all night long!?" Sometimes she spoke as if she was talking to herself, which was very endearing. No one answered her completely random question because in Bella's fashion, she calmed everyone down from a potentially chaotic argument. Typical. It was like she had an ‘easy button' designed specifically to be in tune with my emotions, and she knew exactly when to push it in order to make things right again. My anger instantly deflated. Figures. I never got to release my tantrums anymore. Another time, another time. Maybe I should look into anger management courses...

"Give me some fist, little sister! You should have seen Edward's face!" Emmett never missed a beat as he bumped fists with Bella in the middle of the table.

"It is not a laughing matter, Emmett! This is serious, damn it!" Okay, so my attempt to hang on to my anger was only served to fill the room with Emmett's overwhelming laughter.

"Oh, Edward! Come on! It was a little funny." Alice grinned at me.

"Wouldn't you rather have her know all about us than have to keep things hidden from her? We already have to be careful to maintain anonymity in the outside world; do we not owe it to ourselves to be ourselves in our own home? Do we not owe it to Bella to be honest with her since she is part of this family?" Rosalie was almost as serious as I was...almost. It was a hard thing to admit, but I knew she was right.

"Of course, Rosalie. You know I care immensely about this family, about Bella. You know I do. She is still so young, so innocent, and I just don't want to see that stripped from her unnecessarily." I tried to keep the defensiveness from my voice-easier said than done, though.

"We understand where you are coming from, dear..." Esme's caring nature was always so soothing. "...but Carlisle and Rosalie are right. I know she is young, but she is also capable of understanding if we arm her with the tools to do so. If we do not provide the knowledge, then she would be trapped inside a bubble of false pretenses and shallow lies. Would you have Bella grow up believing we are incapable of being honest with her? She can hear our thoughts...she has and will continue to do so. Right now, our biggest priority is speaking with Eleazar, not whether or not it is appropriate to talk about blood or death in front of a five year old who can clearly hear us thinking about it." I thought about bringing up the fact that Bella was not yet five, but I opted not push my adoptive mother any further. While her words may have seemed like she was lecturing a child, her tone and body language spoke understanding, love, and care. It is one of the reasons why I loved her as any child loves a mother.

Bella spoke before I could respond. "Edward, stop worrying. I'm not hurt or scared, I know you all love me, and I know you only want to keep me safe, and I do feel safe with you-with all of you. I have been hearing your thoughts for a long time now, remember?" She didn't pause for an answer to her question, though. "I know that Alice can see things before they happen and Japer can make me feel happy when I'm sad, or..." she poked her small index finger at my chest, "...make you smile when you're trying so hard not too..." She looked up at me and giggled softly, but then continued speaking while still looking directly at me. "I know you have a mark on your arm like I do too. There are some things, like this prophecy thing you all keep thinking about it, that I don't understand." With her last statement, she stopped speaking and looked around the room expectantly at everyone.

I think Bella took the most pride in constantly surprising us for the sheer fact that she knew damn well she could. We proceeded to explain the prophecy to her as best as we could. She listened attentively, asked questions, and of course constantly reassured us of her mental and physical stability. For a human child just shy of five years old, she astounded us with her ability to remain calm and attentive when being flung into chaotic and frightening situations. Ironically, she would only ever break from this pattern if she felt like we were going to be upset with her or leave her-me especially. I couldn't understand this behavior and wasn't sure if I ever would. By the time we finished talking about everything-stressing the importance of never talking to anyone outside of our family about what we had talked about that day-fed Bella dinner, and helped her get ready for bed, it was late evening. Just as Bella came skipping across the living room toward me for a story, our guests had pulled onto the two mile path toward our home. I wasn't sure how much more stress I could bare, but I knew Bella would help keep me grounded.

I pulled my sweet little one protectively onto my lap, combed my fingers through her still wet hair, and turned her to face me. Leaning my forehead against hers I sent my thoughts to her. Our visitors will be here soon, love. I will be right here the whole time.

She yawned, and sleepily thought I'm not scared of them, Edward.

She seemed to be trying to reassure me-the virtually indestructible vampire. I didn't think you were, love. There is no reason for you to be either.

Okay. I just wanted to make sure you knew I wasn't scared. I know Carlisle asked Eleazar to come here to help me.

You look tired, sweetheart. Do you want me to tuck you into bed now?

Not yet! I want to meet my aunt and uncle and cousins! We had explained to Bella that the Denalis were like our extended family and so we labeled them as such for her sake.

Okay, you can meet them, but then it's straight to bed, little miss.

You've got a deal! Oh, Edward I hear them, I hear them! They're here! Bella's delight served to peak my curiosity as to the range of her ability-something we would need to test for future reference. Sure enough, Eleazar knocked soundly on our front door, but of course we all knew they were there before they knocked. Human pretenses were sometimes second nature to both of our families.

Carlisle opened the door to welcome our guests. One by one they filed inside and received Carlisle's greetings. "Eleazar, Carmen! How are you both? It has been too long." Eleazar and Carmen moved out of the foyer and into the living room. "Kate, Irina, Tanya! You look well. How was the trip?" Carlisle often became enthusiastic when our extended family arrived. I suppose, for him, it was nice to know there were others besides us. A validation of our existence in a way.

As they all made it to the living room, the rest of the family mimicked Carlisle's welcome. I picked Bella up carefully to introduce her to everyone. As soon as we came into the welcoming circle just beyond the sofas toward the front door, everyone became still. I was the first to speak. "Eleazar, Carmen I would like you to meet the newest addition to our family. This is Bella. Bella, this is Eleazar and Carmen." They smiled warmly at her, and then Bella gave them a surprise.

Can I call you Uncle Eleazar and Aunt Carmen? I've never had an aunt and uncle before!

They looked at each other and then at Bella obviously shocked, but also highly intrigued. Eleazar carefully grasped Bella's outstretch palm in response. "It is good to meet you, young Bella. Of course you may call us aunt and uncle-it would be our pleasure." Eleazar spoke with compassion. Kate, Irina and Tanya looked from Carmen and Eleazar to Bella quizzically. "Well, Carlisle spoke of his assumptions of his little one's ability, and it appears to have progressed beyond your previous expectations." He turned to his daughters by way of explanation, "Bella asked if she might call Carmen and I aunt and uncle through her thoughts." I don't think I had ever seen Carmen smile so brightly. The three sisters nodded their understanding.

No longer able to mask their own curiosity for what they kept thinking of as the most captivating human they had met in a very long time. All three of them were happy to finally meet the lovely human child that had been the center of their extended family's world for most of the past three years. "Hello, Bella. I'm Tanya, and these are my sisters Kate and Irina. It is so nice to finally meet you," Tanya spoke for all three.

Bella responded, in kind with her words and her thoughts. "Hello. I'm glad to meet you all, too." You are so pretty Tanya! Will you be in my fashion show tomorrow? Tanya looked intently into Bella's innocent face. "I would love nothing more than to be a part of your fashion show, Bella, you little cherub!"

That's when I caught wind of the wheels of planning and scheming turning in Bella's mind. Apparently she wanted me to know what she was up to. She smiled sweetly up at Tanya and her sisters, but her thoughts to me were slightly more mischievous. Don't worry Edward! I've got your back! We're best friends, remember! Huh. Bella might not understand the noises that she had overheard all these years, but she perceptively picked up on Tanya wanting to make those noises with me, and my sweet little angel wanted nothing more than to protect me from her. Well...that was unexpected.

Instead of answering Bella's silent protective mantra, I changed the subject like any decent vampire best friend would do. Uh...Bella, love, I think we might want to get you to bed now.

Aw! I want to talk more!

Love, you may have fooled Tanya and her sisters, but you haven't fooled me. You are not going to do recon for your latest mind bending activities, I thought to her with a chuckle.

Fine! I'll just get Emmett to help me tomorrow, then! I could only laugh in response, shaking my head heartily to which we both received half smiles and questioning looks asking what the punch line was. I suppose Bella's first quasi-tantrum had to come sooner or later. Interesting that it came about from meeting Tanya. I heard the same thoughts that she did, maybe I missed something-unlikely, but maybe I did.

Help with what? Emmett looked questioningly at us both, while Bella started giggling, and I rolled my eyes.

Everyone had moved to the sofas to continue catching up, and had either not noticed mine and Bella's silent conversation or were choosing to ignore it.

I'll tell you tomorrow, Em! Bella answered Emmett's question mimicking his characteristic eyebrow waggle. He smiled brightly, and nodded his head slightly. I swear he had more influence on her than the rest of us combined. At least that is what my melodramatic side thought.

"Well, everyone. I'm glad you have all gotten to meet Bella, but as she is a young child, a young human child, she requires sleep. Tell everyone good night, Bella."

"Good night everyone! I'm glad I got to meet you all! I promise not to sleep forever!" she sang as I strolled casually away with her in my arms up to her bedroom. We left everyone to their conversations and plans for the coming day. It would no doubt be a long one, and I wanted to make sure Bella had enough rest to keep up her endurance.

*Nine Years Later - BPOV*

Over time my family came to terms with the discovery of my talent for telepathy, and the likelihood that I would develop other abilities. Given that there were so many unknowns where my future was concerned, and there were enormous gaps in our understanding of my involvement in the prophecy that Carlisle stumbled upon on that one fated day, my family found themselves at an impasse for a short while after the Denalis departed. I saw the stress on all of their faces and in their thoughts, especially Edward's. They struggled with whether to stay in Alaska, or move to Syracuse as they had planned to do by my fifth birthday.

I knew all they wanted was to give me the chance to experience a normal human childhood, which they felt could only be achieved by moving back to civilization, so-to-speak. The source of their indecision was a direct result of Eleazar's assessment of my powers relative to what he knew about the ancient prophecy. Their concern was how and when I might begin to manifest more powers, how and when these latent abilities would develop, and whether or not any of these new abilities would be a danger to myself or any other humans that may be in close vicinity to me at the time they manifested. Edward told me numerous times that on top of everything else that had happened, they didn't want me to shoulder the responsibility of being the cause of pain or even death of other people when a different decision could have been made to avoid such consequences.

Ever since I could remember, Alice was a critical element in all of our decisions, especially in rare cases that were detrimental to the whole family. When it came to confirming my role in the prophecy, when I might manifest a new power, or what it might be, her visions were always cloudy. It would seem that only those life altering events directly related to my future remained cloudy, which meant I was responsible for us essentially running blind. I tried to hide the fact that I felt so much guilt for having caused my family any amount of stress or anxiety, and I must have done a really good job. Sometimes, though, I thought Jasper may have picked up on my self-loathing attitude with his empathic abilities, but he never uttered a word, not even in his thoughts. It was just a feeling I would get, but I always shrugged it off, and moved on. That was my mantra-keep moving forward, never look back. It seemed to work for me most of the time.

When my family was still trying to decide whether to move or not, we knew, assuming the existence of an underlying prophetic truth, that I would fully manifest my powers by the age of eighteen. They were concerned because of the fact that I developed my first power by the age of two, which to my family meant that I could develop other powers at any given time. We also knew that if we remained where we were, the likelihood that the Volturi would find out about me was dramatically less. The reality of the situation centered on balancing my chances for normalcy with protecting others as my powers began to surface, potentially bringing the Volturi's attention upon all of us.

After much debate, my family opted to remain in Alaska indefinitely to monitor my development of other manifested abilities, and above all else, ensure my safety. It was the most logical choice, but it was a difficult decision, especially for Carlisle and his need for my vampire family to remain connected to humanity. Since my addition to the family, the social distancing had taken a toll on their human conditioning in terms of their interconnectedness with human society. They all felt that it was a necessary sacrifice, and so had agreed to maintain our predictable, yet lovely, status quo lifestyle.

Although my family was constantly researching information regarding the prophecy, which I eventually began to help with, life seemed to fall back into the pace we had nestled ourselves into so securely before that fateful day in Carlisle's study when Edward almost became completely unhinged. To this day, that is perhaps the rawest I have ever seen Edward emotionally or physically. Days passed into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and nothing ever happened. I never manifested another talent or ability, although according to Edward, I had learned to use what Alice had coined as my mind bending abilities in much more creative ways than I had done as a small child. Emmett made sure I had a vast education in the fine art of the practical joke. We definitely had some good times. Edward just thought I was naïve for letting Emmett, in a way, commandeer my talent for his own devices. He thought I just went along for the laughs. Little did he know I was doing it for the distraction from my never ending guilt.

I continued to grow into an intuitive and intelligent young adult. Edward thought I was the most unpredictable person he had ever met, and I took great pride in that fact. I excelled in any subject they taught me, developed my pianist skills so much that they rivaled Edward's, I read any book that I could get my hands on, and I eventually became Esme's sous chef in the kitchen, much to her delight. Sometimes I caught Edward thinking that I was an anomaly among humans and an angel among demons, and that my undead family's lives became what he often thought of as the idealized immortal life.

With each year that passed that I did not manifest any other abilities, Carlisle became increasingly fidgety. He began to question, as did the rest of us, my connection with this completely cryptic ancient prophecy for which we could not find any information in either the natural or the supernatural world. Numerous conversations and visits with Eleazar, countless debates over whether I was actually the child from the prophecy, and an endless sea of research excursions that left us empty handed, all confirmed our belief that we had been mistaken. We still had not found anything that would help explain the connection between mine and Edward's birthmarks, which, quite honestly, I thought was just a coincidence. I think the straw that broke the camel's back occurred, though, when I started to becoming increasingly curious about how other humans lived. It is one thing to read about human life in books or hear about it second hand from supernatural creatures-I know, I know, there is no end to the irony in this tale. In the end, they just couldn't justify basically holding me captive in solitude-albeit a luxurious solitude, based on the argument that it was for my safety. Eventually everyone decided that they could no longer maintain our status quo when life was beckoning us to make a change.

Between Carlisle's want to remain connected to larger society, to have a purpose, and my wish to flourish in and explore my human roots, we decided to move to a smaller less populated city than Syracuse. We had decided on Forks, a small rainy northwestern community in Washington where we could plant new roots for a few years. Before I came along, my family moved every six to eight years, but never stayed in one place longer than a decade. Humans almost always began to catch on after a while. Humans were always slow to get started and quick to make false assumptions-at least that is what I had come to believe with my less than average-filled knowledge bank of human life and experiences. Then again, perhaps it was just something I picked up from my family's thoughts, since they were always so careful not to make me feel inferior for my humanity.

By the time we had made the final decision to move, bought a new home, secured a position running the local ER for Carlisle, and enrolled us all in the local high school, it was the summer before my fourteenth birthday. Alice, Edward and I enrolled as freshmen, and Jasper, Rose and Emmett as sophomores. I was nervous and excited for this move to happen. We took our time packing our belongings, which I could tell from their thoughts they were trying to pawn off as doing so for my sake, but of course I knew better. It had been the longest my family had stayed in one location, and the only home I had ever truly known. There were a lot of good memories full of laughter and joy that we each wanted to hold onto, but knew that for better or worse, our time here had long since passed, and it was time to start a new journey.