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A Litany at Dusk

Summary:
Thanks to hellacullen for the awesome banner! Edward’s rebellious period wasn't just a few years; it lasted seventy. Having spent his years hunting on the edges of society, he rejoins his family in Forks ready to abstain when he runs acorss a young woman praying. Can a choice be made between one's desires, one's heart and one's soul? Will Edward be willing to fight for her instead of fighting against her? A/U a bit OOC, rated for lemons and adult content, some violence


Notes:
Thanks to PTB for their assistance and to hellacullen, who is the wind beneath my wings! Her consistent and intelligent commentary, suggestions and cheerleading were incredible and I wish everyone a beta like hellacullen. I own nothing of Twilight. Let's see who could be the owner? Possibly SM?


14. Chapter 14 I Will Not Be Denied

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3670   Review this Chapter

Edward

I raised my hand in farewell as Bella disappeared into her front door. Immediately, I missed the concentration of her scent, though it still lingered on the bike and the back of my sweater. I may never wash this sweater. I’ll just carry it around with me like Linus’ security blanket. I was positively giddy, a very uncharacteristic feeling for me.

It had gone well, it had gone surprisingly well. Foremost, I hadn’t killed her. That made me smile to myself as I jumped on the bike and started it up. I was sure most human males didn’t have that particular dating anxiety, but nevertheless I was heartened by the fact that I’d been able to control myself. It'd gotten a bit harder by the end of the evening as the gorging of the night before began to wear off, but still, I had done it. I was jubilant and hopeful that I could have time and space to date Isabella and develop a relationship with her before any life-altering decisions had to be made. I wanted time for us to explore each other and for things to evolve in a natural progression.

I took the contacts from my eyes and threw them away, happy to bid them goodbye. They were a mild irritant and they were notoriously unstable. The venom tended to eat away at them, and I’d had to replace them several times during the night. I threw the bike into gear and pulled out, heading for Forks. It was a good hour and a half drive, but in the mood I was in, I didn’t mind. I was walking on clouds, a feeling I hadn’t even come close to in a long time. She’d said she liked me. The memory of that seemed to burn a hole in my chest, a good burn that raced down my nerves and made me want to jump up and shout.

The only false note had been the place I had selected to buy food at. I kicked myself for that. I’d used those kinds of places as feeding grounds so often I’d gotten inured to the societal injunctions against them. The women on display there may have meant more to the usual patrons, but they were just wallpaper as far as my libido was concerned. But of course, Isabella wouldn’t have known that. And then when I realized that here I had asked this sweet innocent into what she surely viewed as the most iniquitous den of sin and misery, I’d been horrified at my own callousness. But I’d been able to turn it around in time, and she’d even agreed to see me tomorrow.

I tried not to examine my motives for wanting to see her again too closely. Was I really ready to ask this girl to give up her humanity for an existence as a vampire? Could she ever really care enough about me to separate forever from her friends and family? Now more than ever, I appreciated the dilemma Carlisle had faced as he had made Esme and myself. When an empty eternity stretches endlessly before you, the selfish urge to find someone to fill it with becomes a powerful and unyielding temptation.

I pulled into the driveway of the Forks home and saw the garage door was open, so I pulled into the open space that Carlisle had cleared for the motorcycle and turned the bike off. In the next bay, I could see Rosalie’s legs sticking out from underneath a rather rundown 1957 Thunderbird. It was missing a door and a windshield, and parts were scattered around the garage floor.

As I dismounted from the bike, Rosalie wheeled herself out from under the car and sat up on the dolly, holding a large wrench. “Hey, Edward,” she said amicably, rising to her feet. She was dressed in powder blue overalls that had the waist cinched in a very unmechanic-like way. Rosalie really was a beautiful girl, and even with her hair pinned up and a smear of grease across her cheek, she outshone other women easily. Most of them, anyway.

"Hello, Rosalie," I said dismounting from the bike. "How goes the restoration? Where did you find this beauty anyway?"

She turned and looked at the Thunderbird appraisingly. "Olson's junkyard. The tranny's a mess, but I think we’ll be able to salvage the engine. Emmett's in town picking up some hoses."

"I love those early Thunderbirds," I said, admiring the lines of the car.

"Oh, me too," she agreed. She turned towards me and gave me the once over. "So, I hear you've got a girlfriend."

"Well, that's rushing things a bit, but yes, I've started to court somebody."

Rosalie chuckled. "God, Edward, sometimes you are so..."

I raised an eyebrow at her. She adjusted the word she had in mind and came out with, "old-fashioned."

I turned and got the picnic blanket out of the motorcycle seat. "Well, I'm sure it may seem that way sometimes. I just try to stay away from pop culture. It's a bit too crass for me."

"Well, spend enough time with humans and you'll see how much it rubs off," she complained, walking over to the tool bench. "I can't tell you what torture high school is these days."

I grinned as I put the blanket away in the storage cupboard. "I'm sure."

She looked down pensively and twirled the wrench she was holding. "I felt guilty for a long time, you know," she said softly.

I turned to her in surprise. "About what?" I asked.

She stared at the wrench in her hand. "That I wasn't enough," she said apologetically.

She glanced quickly at me and then turned her back, fitting a lug wrench together. I guessed she had seen the lack of understanding on my face. "If I'd been more of what Carlisle had hoped for me—for you and me—perhaps you wouldn't have left the family."

"Rosalie," I said, stunned by this unforeseen revelation, "I never would have blamed you..." I knew Carlisle had saved Rosalie from death with a vague hope of providing a mate for me, but I’d never guessed that Rosalie had felt the pressure of that expectation.

She waved her hand. "No, not blame, I know. But if we had..." She turned towards me, studying the wrench in her hand. She took a deep breath and raised her chin to look at me. The classic lines and features of her face were made more beautiful by the remorse and anguish there. The emotions erased the mere prettiness of her features and honed them into a timeless, feminine ideal. "Maybe you would have been able to stay."

"Rosalie, you can't take my decisions on yourself."

"I'm not trying to.” She turned back to the bench. ”It's just, well, Tanya said that having lovers helped with the bloodlust."

Tanya again. Why had I never heard this theory before? I turned to the bike, checking the tire pressure. "Well, my situation is a bit different than Tanya's. But I’m hoping to convince Isabella to let Carlisle turn her. It's going to take some time though," I said thoughtfully, reviewing the obstacles in my head.

I heard the clatter of tools being dropped on the workbench. Behind me, Rosalie huffed, low and feral, "What?"

I suddenly realized that this would be a hard conversation for Rosalie, and maybe my timing hadn't been well thought out. Her thoughts started running rampant, mere flashes of incidents rushing through her mind. There were thoughts of her mistreatment at Royce King's hands and small children laughing and playing in the sunlight.

I felt for her, but still, she should have been ready to accept that I’d found someone I could care for. Wouldn’t this be the end to her sudden pangs of guilt? "I mean to turn her and marry her," I said, putting the pressure gauge away.

I heard her intention to spring nanoseconds before the event, just enough time to whirl around as she came at me. We smashed against the motorcycle, sending it crashing to the ground as we landed on it, Rosalie on top of me, the exhaust pipes of the bike bending under the force. I took advantage of my leverage against the garage floor to throw her off me, and she flew across the bay to slam against the tool bench, putting a fearsome dent in the metal work surface and sending tools flying like shrapnel.

"What are you, crazy?" I yelled at her.

She pulled herself from the kneeling position she had landed in and approached me, crouching. “You're going to turn her? You are a monster! A selfish, self-absorbed monster!”

I knew that all too well, but hearing it from her lips only made me angry. I pulled into a defensive crouch, echoing her. "Rosalie, this is my decision,” I growled. “You stay out of this."

“Your decision? What about her? Does your selfishness have no boundaries?” She stared at me intently, her anger making her thoughts almost glow red with violence, shuffling from side to side, looking for an opening.

"She'll have a choice," I defended, matching her move for move.

"A choice? A choice like I had?" she hissed, fury contorting her face savagely.

"The situation is entirely different!" I countered.

"How? You're going to plan to take away her humanity?" she demanded.

I couldn't listen to her doubts; they strongly echoed my own misgivings and fears. The fear that was strongest though, was that of having to spend my life alone without Isabella. "She will be mine!" I bellowed. "I will not be denied!"

With a massive roar, she sprang at me again, her manicured nails like claws headed for my throat. I grabbed her arms and together we fell, rolling to the ground, ending with Rosalie struggling on top of me.

I heard Esme's voice. "Jasper! Alice! Grab Rosalie!"

Rosalie's nails ripped across my face, narrowly missing my eyes. I grabbed for her arms, but she was too quick and punched me with her other hand. Slamming my hand against her chin, I pushed her off balance, her head whipping back, when Jasper and Alice yanked her away from me. I jumped to my feet, angry and ready to take it further, when Esme grabbed my shoulders, putting herself between Rosalie and me. "Edward!" she yelled sharply. "Don't!"

Rosalie stood on the other side of the garage, her chest heaving and her hair in disarray, her arms pinned by Alice on one side and Jasper on the other. Her eyes threw daggers at me, and her lip curled with snarling. "Do you know what he's planning to do?" she asked, seething, but allowing Jasper and Alice to restrain her.

"Please take her inside," Esme directed over her shoulder, still holding onto me.

Rosalie shrugged off their hands but walked towards the door to the house. "Look at him and his red eyes. He'll never change." She spat the words at me, glaring. "Monster," she hissed disdainfully as she exited the garage, followed by Jasper and Alice.

Esme took her hands off my shoulders. I turned away from her, shaking my head. The worst part was Rosalie hadn't said anything that wasn't true. Not for the first time or surely the last, I wondered if I really could go through with turning Isabella. I put my hand to my face; it was stinging with the scratches Rosalie had inflicted. Venom glistened wetly on my hand as I pulled it away.

Esme turned to a locker, pulled out a clean cloth and handed it to me.

I dabbed at the scratches on my face. “She’s right, you know.”

She gently moved my face to one side with her fingers, inspecting my wound. "It's closing up already," she said as I dabbed at it again.

“I am selfish and self-deluded.” I winced from the pain of those words as much as the scratches.

Esme’s face shone with compassion. “Edward, I can only imagine how hard this is for you,” she said. “You’re trying to make a huge change in your life, one that won’t come easily. The important thing is to keep trying.”

She took the cloth from my hand and walked it over to the laundry basket, tossing it in with others. "You have to forgive Rosalie. It's hard for her when you're here. She needs some time to re-adjust."

"Well, it hasn't been much of a party for me either," I said, working my jaw back and forth, checking for stiffness.

"She feels guilty, like she wasn't enough. That's a feeling Rosalie has not had a whole lot of experience with."

"She said as much to me," I said, shaking my head. "I had no idea."

"You've been gone so long. When you show up, it exacerbates it. Then she hears talk about a girl being turned, and well..." Esme shrugged her shoulders.

I knew she was trying to keep the peace in the family, and I had no wish to start a fight with Rosalie. "Really, it's okay."

She studied me a moment longer and then said, "I should go check on her."

"Go. I'm fine," I said, turning to inspect the motorcycle. I wish I could say the same for it.

Esme and Jasper passed in the hall. I heard their conversation through their thoughts.

"Switch?" asked Esme.

"Sure thing," said Jasper. "How is he?"

"He's calm, some minor scratches. Her?"

"She's still stomping around. She took a pretty good whack to the chin, but she's fine."

Jasper entered the garage and stood beside me as I pulled the bike back up to an upright position.

"She still angry?" I asked.

"Well, you know Rosalie. She hates to waste a good mad. She's gonna ride it for what it's worth." he said, referring to Rosalie's tendency to wallow in anger.

I crouched down next to the bike and tried to use my hands to straighten out the tail pipe, with mixed success. The crease was still pretty evident.

He crouched beside me and whispered conspiratorially, "Can I just say there's been some times when I've wanted to pop her off myself?"

The two of us chuckled softly. "So, how are things going with Bella?" he asked, holding the bike steady while I tried to smooth the crease.

"She's amazing. She's not like anybody I’ve ever known.” I sighed with frustration. “For some reason, I can’t hear her thoughts. So of course, there’s no one else I would rather hear."

"Always want what you can’t have,” Jasper chuckled.

“So, what was she like in high school?” I asked.

“I didn’t talk to her much. She was pretty quiet. She had to leave during senior year.” Jasper’s recollections of her were surprisingly few as he shuffled through his memories. She was always in the background, part of a group or by herself, a brown-haired girl, unremarkable to him, but so completely fascinating to me. I wanted to take him by his shoulders and shake his memories out of his ear so I could linger over them.

“Hmm,” I said. “I’d heard that she’d left school.”

“Rumor was she got pregnant by some Quileute and had to leave."

I knew I had caught a faint whiff of an uncharacteristic scent in her apartment. More than human, I realized now it must be one of the Native American shape shifters. Carlisle had also mentioned that she’d been seeing one of the locals. No, the thought of one of those dark-eyed dogs with his hands on her tender skin did not sit well with me at all. I felt the pressure in my hand, and consciously had to unclench my fist. "She got pregnant?"

"Yeah, had an abortion, but it didn't go well." He frowned, remembering the high school gossip.

I'd seen a scar that would have been appropriate for gynecological surgery. "That must have been hard for her.” Pregnancy termination was hard for any woman, but I’d seen her in a Catholic church, and I knew they held abortion as a grievous sin. What an amazing set of contradictions she was. “Hold the bike, will you?" I asked as I went over to the toolbox that hadn't seen any damage. I stepped over some of the scattered tools and pulled a wrench from the drawer. I came back and crouched by Jasper again, trying to make the metal lie smooth and round.

“Was she very religious in school?” I asked. It wouldn’t have been the first time a devout Catholic had an abortion, but that kind of hypocrisy didn’t seem to fit with my impression of Isabella.

“No, she didn’t seem that way.” He shook his head. “The only church I think Chief Swan went to was the kind where you needed a fishing pole.”

I glanced at him, bewildered.

“He spends his Sunday mornings fishing,” he explained, bemused.

I rubbed at the scratches. A little paint would fix those right up. So Isabella had found God after her abortion. I’d heard the devotion in her voice last night and something told me it was more than just guilt, or a close brush with death that had converted her.

"Emmett says she's your singer," he said, studying my face. "That's got to be a problem."

I thought about Isabella and the exquisite fragrance that emanated from her. The feedings of the previous night were beginning to wear off, and I could feel the thirst starting to build at just the thought of her. "It's going to get worse, I'm afraid, a lot worse." I looked over at him; Jasper had a lot of experience in fighting off bloodlust. "Got any tips you care to impart?"

He smiled ruefully. "I may not be the best person to ask. It's a struggle, that's for sure." He gathered his thoughts and then frowned. "Drink as much as you can beforehand, that's really the only thing I have found that's remotely helpful." He looked at me, humor shining from his golden eyes. "And if that don't work, run away. Run away far and fast."

I shook my head, amused by his dry sense of humor. "I'll remember that." I stood up, done with the pipes; it was as good as it was going to get it. You could still see where the metal had been stressed. I sighed with frustration.

I had something else I needed to ask him. “Did you ever hear Tanya’s theory about, well, how pairing up reduces the bloodlust?”

“The ladies were talking about this last night,” he said, standing up as well, while the memories of an overheard conversation between Alice, Rosalie and Esme floated through his mind.

“What do you think of it?” I asked curiously.

“Violence is a habit,” he said, shaking his head. “But non-violence is too.” He put his hands on his hips and turned to me, smiling wickedly. “Pairing up, as you so delicately put it, is probably the only thing that can take your mind off the bloodlust.” He thought about his struggles in the earliest days of joining the family. “Sometimes, just a little bit of respite is all it takes to get you through a bad spot.”

I closed my eyes as a sudden vision of Isabella, standing next to me, putting her arms around my neck, stopped me cold with the depth of my need for her.

Jasper fished in his pocket, pulling out some keys. "Alice says you're going to need these." He dropped them into my hand.

I looked at him curiously.

"They're the keys to my Camaro. Alice says it's going to rain." He thrust his hands back into his pockets, smirking and rocking back on his heels; it was his relaxed good ole’ boy look. "You know, girls hate getting their hair wet."

That was true, no matter the decade. "Well, thank you." Jasper drove a red Camaro with a white racing stripe; it was sweet. “I should probably hunt. Okay if I take it now?” Without the enticement of Isabella’s smell, I wasn’t really thirsty and gorging myself on animal blood held little appeal. Still, if it would make her safer, I would do it.

“Sure. I’d head south if I were you. We’ve been hitting the east pretty heavily.”

Together we walked out to the driveway where the car was parked. I got in and turned the key as he closed the car door for me and leaned on the open window.

“You know, I always appreciated what you were doing,” he said, running his hand along the metal window trim. I checked his thoughts, and they were full of admiration for the way I’d sought out criminals for feeding. “It seemed to be the right way to use the gifts.”

I clenched the steering wheel in my hands. “I thought that way for a long time. But now I can’t rationalize it any longer. It’s still murder, even if you are removing danger.” I looked up at him. “All the good intentions can’t take away the fact that you’re killing someone because you judged them to be unworthy. Am I really fit to be the judge of that?”

He shrugged. “Well, the world is just better off without some folks around. If God’s been in charge of justice, seems like he could use some help.”

“He’s going to have to get by without my help. I’m tired of listening to lunatics and psychos.”

“Just as well you gave them up,” he said, straightening up. “You know what they say.”

I cocked an eyebrow at him while a sly grin slid across his face.

“You are what you eat.”

I couldn’t help the smile that broke out on my face. “Thanks for the ride. I’ll see you later.”

“Later then.” He tapped on the roof twice in farewell as I pulled the car out. In the rearview mirror, I saw him turn his face and hands to the sky; it had begun to rain.