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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?


24. Chapter 24 Delivering The Wind

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2619   Review this Chapter

Edward

I stepped into the confessional, and Bella screamed with the wild, high-pitched keening of a rabbit caught in a snare. The woman who had laughed, sighed and moaned in pleasure under my hands last night was screaming at the sight of my face. A pang of regret as deep as a bayonet wound ran through me because I had allowed that miserable Quileute to live. I pushed down the desire to run back to Bella’s to finish punishing him for his inconsiderate and ill-timed attempt at keeping Bella away from me. He’d broken the treaty recklessly, and I hoped the consequences he faced would be harsh.

Bella was backed into the farthest corner, trying to squeeze herself into the smallest space available. Her brown eyes were wide with panic and fear, and I could hear her heart beating as rapidly as that of a captured bird. At the same time, my heart felt like it was shattering into pieces, tortured by the thoughts of her being in fear and that I was the cause of that fear. She turned to face the paneling, her hands spread wide and her eyes squeezed shut, like she was trying to press herself into it.

I dropped to one knee, my hands clutching at the pain that was filling my chest. I curled over, trying to make myself as small and as unthreatening as possible. “Bella, please…” I pleaded softly, unable to bear her abhorrence.

A spasm ran down her back, and her eyes squeezed tighter together.

“Please, talk to me. The names—they’re just labels. Please look at me,” I implored her. “I’m still Edward.”

She struggled to get a hold of herself. Her breathing began to slow, and she slowly turned around. I kept my eyes on her feet, fearing the color of my eyes was what was most inhuman looking.

“Please, let us talk. Please. I won’t hurt you. I can’t.” I could feel her gaze on me. “I’d never hurt you, Bella.” I closed my eyes against the pain I was feeling. To have to reassure the woman I loved that I wouldn’t hurt her made me feel like a part of me was dying all over again. “You’re my heart,” I whispered, trying to tell her what she meant to me.

The room was silent as I waited for my fate to make itself known. Finally she spoke. Her voice was barely a whisper. “Do you know what they say about you?”

I still hadn’t raised my eyes, and I watched her black canvas sneakers shift slightly “I know what Jacob told you.”

Her voice was stronger, but I could hear how it trembled. “He says—the Monsignor says that you…that you’re …”

The silence stretched and lengthened. Finally, I spilled words into the chasm separating us. “Yes, I am,” I said, answering the question she couldn’t ask.

She whispered. “Say it.”

I raised my eyes to her face. Her eyes were preternaturally wide and dry-eyed, her face pale. She’d lost her struggle to keep calm, and her chest fluttered with the quick shallow breaths she was taking. Trying to hold her eyes with mine, trying desperately to make her understand that this was only a name, I whispered in answer. “I am a vampire.”

The four words that I had dreaded saying to her felt like they were torn in chunks from my skin, leaving me red, raw and bleeding. Never had I been so ashamed of my nature; never had I felt more naked and vulnerable. I would have given anything in that moment to be able to deny it.

“No, no. It’s not true.” She was shaking her head. “Tell me it’s not true.”

I lowered my head, closing my eyes in pain, giving her the only answer I could. “I’m sorry.”

“Oh, God,” she cried, closing her eyes and turning back to the wall. “Oh, God,” she repeated, her balled fists pounded once on the paneling.

I stood up. I had to make her understand. I took a small step closer. “Bella, you don’t know how many times I wanted to tell you. I know this is a shock, but we’re not as different as you might think.” My words came tumbling out fast, tripping on each other’s heels. “I told you I was born in Chicago, that’s true. I was as human as you. But things changed−I was changed−but I’m still one of you in many ways. Can’t you see that?”

Her eyes opened again, and her fists relaxed. Her head wobbled a bit.

“Bella, please, listen to me before you judge. I love—“

“Jacob?” she asked, her eyes not fixed on anything, weaving slightly on her feet.

“I left him alive,” I reassured her, but it was evident she was starting to lose her battle to keep conscious.

“Jacob’s a…” Her hand went out to the wall, looking for support. Her heart was racing in short, shallow beats.

“A shape shifter.” I finished the sentence for her. It was evident she was going into shock. My hands itched to support her, but when I made a small move toward her, she twitched violently. I backed a step away, keeping my hands low, trying to reassure her with my body language that I wouldn’t hurt her or force her.

The talk of Jacob made me open my mind to see if I could get some thoughts from him, to check on his well-being. If I hadn’t spoken with him before, I would have never been able to find his thoughts from this distance, but once I became accustomed to the tenor of someone’s mind, picking them out from a crowd or a distance became easier. He was awake, but just barely, his thoughts hazy with pain. Several Quileute friends surrounded him and were taking care of him as onlookers stood some ways away. “Don’t worry, Jake,” said one I recognized from the gas station, “we’ll get them.”

Bella’s eyes were still unfocused, her head tilting to one side.

“Bella, we need to go. They’re coming here after us.” I knew they would be after me, but I couldn’t gauge what their reaction would be to Bella. I had to protect her from them. I could see how Jacob had already traumatized her.

“They’re coming here after….” She parroted my words, but it was too much for her. Her eyes fluttered closed, and her knees gave out. I caught her before she hit the floor, and she went limp in my arms.

We had to flee. One Quileute was easily handled, but with more coming and Bella so vulnerable, it was time to leave.

I swept one arm under her knees, and clasping her gently to my chest, stepped out into the empty nave. Laying her in a pew, I pulled down a tapestry on the wall. I wrapped her gently in it; she would need the protection because I planned to run with her.

As I rolled the fabric around her, she murmured and moaned without opening her eyes. “Sleep, Bella, sleep,” I whispered, using the low commanding voice that humans were susceptible to. I gathered her into my arms and pushed out the front door of the church.

The sun was low in the sky. We had to get out of Seattle and quickly. I dared not take one of the bridges; we’d be exposed to too many eyes for too long. North, then, would be my route.

Keeping to the vegetation when I could, sprinting when I couldn’t, even using the rooftops when their nearness provided a route, we made it out of Seattle, into Linwood and finally Everett, where the forests were deep and connected enough that I could run uninterrupted. I kept my mind open to the Quileutes, but I’d lost them some time ago. Now was when I needed to put some distance between them and us. With the onset of night, they would be less wary of being seen and could adopt wolf form more readily. It was in wolf form that they could track me most effectively.

I ran through the forests, heading steadily northward, afraid to go too fast in case the wind had some deleterious effect on Bella. Nervously, I kept checking on her, but she was truly unconscious, her mind having shut down in an attempt to protect itself from more shock. We were outside Vancouver when I hailed a taxi. Even if the Quileutes could track me into Canada, they’d lose my scent this way. I gave the taxi driver some story about her being ill, and he took us all the way to my house, a small Victorian home on a secluded lot overlooking the water.

The waxing moon hung low over the horizon as I pushed the money into the cab driver’s hand. He asked if I needed his help with Bella, but I reassured him we would be fine. I faced the dark house as his headlights snaked back down the long driveway back to the main roads.

I had bought this house with the money from the sale of my parents’ house in Chicago. I would have liked to have held onto that house, but there were too many people who might have recognized me. I had found this one on a trip with Carlisle, and I had moved all of my parents’ things into it, all of the various items that had been accumulated during my human life.

I pushed open the front door; the house was quiet, except for the patter of mouse feet in the attic. I’d have to call tomorrow to get the electricity turned on, but the pump was hand cranked so we would have water. I debated for a moment where to place Bella, finally deciding on the guest room. To put her in the master bedroom seemed too presumptuous.

I laid her on the bed while she remained unconscious. Her brown hair streamed out from the pillow, and her eyelashes brushed her cheek delicately as I arranged her arms and legs. I stood there, looking down at her slender, unprotected form. Which one of us was more vulnerable−Bella, in her fragile human form, or me, bound to her by forces I didn’t even understand?

What was it about her that was making her so essential to my continued existence? Surely there had been more beautiful women tossed in my path, and while none of their minds were silent as hers was to me, was it just the unknown that made her so desirable? Her scent certainly beckoned me to her, but I was beginning to believe that her scent was not the cause of her attraction, but a symptom of it. Her attraction was the basis for the fascination I had for her scent. Was it the promise of being mated that made her so necessary to me? Again, that seemed to be a part of the answer but only partially. It seemed all of these things were just bits of the answer, none of them alone enough to explain, but together they more than added up to my total bewitchment by her.

Her breathing and heart rate quickened slightly. I watched her chest rise and fall, remembering how it had felt pressed against me. Would I ever again be favored enough to know her caresses? To hear and feel her moan into my mouth with the strength of the pleasure I would give her? There had to be some way to persuade her. There just had to be.

While my mind cast about for a way to guarantee her affections, my heart already gave me the answer. There was no guarantee in love. I couldn’t make her love me. The only thing I could do was try to be worthy of her love, and that was such a foregone negative conclusion that I almost laughed aloud bitterly. What made me think I deserved anything as pure, as decent as Bella? I was death by violence, murder in cold blood, and the destroyer.

If I could have prayed, I would have done it then. I would have asked God to show me some way to turn back into the boy I had once been, before Carlisle had changed me into something I had taken and twisted so badly that I was unrecognizable to myself. But there was no prayer that I could offer. I was sure that God didn’t listen to the prayers and entreaties of the undead.

I started a small fire in the fireplace of the bedroom, assuming she would want some light when she came to. I fetched a pitcher of water and a glass and set them at her bedside. I’d have to see about getting some food for her soon. Hopefully, she would agree to stay here until we could negotiate her safety, if need be, with the Quileutes. I would also have to find a way to silence the Monsignor.

Soundlessly, I stood back against the wall, watching Bella sleep from a dark corner, as I waited for my fate to wake up and be delivered to me.

Back in Seattle, the Monsignor paced his quarters, attempting to process the unbelievable events that had occurred earlier that day. His vestments rustled with each stride, as he pondered his options. Delay would only increase his cowardice. Resolving himself, he sat down at his desk and began to craft his letter.

From the Desk Of Monsignor Sergio Corvi

Our Lady Of The Waters Parish

Seattle Washington 98124

CONFIDENTIAL

To Father General Emilio Bartoloni

Benedictine Monks

Vatican City

Rome, Italy

Dear Father Bartoloni:

My most sincere greetings to you and my wishes that my letter finds you well. I remember with great fondness my visit to Italy and your gracious hosting, and I long that I may again partake of your kindness soon.

However, I am afraid the cause for this letter is an unhappy one. You had asked me, at the time of my visit, to keep an ear open for any news of the unholy monsters that roam our earth, in defiance of all God’s intentions and as servants of the Devil himself. You had mentioned in particular the name of Cullen, which served as a family name for a coven which was known to have been established in the Seattle area. I must admit I had been extremely skeptical of the whole idea when first it was presented to me, but after meeting your honored colleagues in Volterra, and now being in possession of my current news, I must say I have become an ardent believer.

I believe I have met such a creature as you described. He has obviously ensorcelled one of our young female parishioners, and he had the audacity to even attend one of our services! I instantly suspected him for the monster he was, but it was when the young parishioner learned of his true nature that she, of course, sought my advice, only to have the monster spirit her away. I gave him a tremendous battle, but unfortunately, his strength was too much for me and I was subdued. Therefore, I plead with you to render the help you had once offered me should I become aware of such a monster in the Seattle archdiocese. I beg for your immediate assistance in ridding ourselves of this nightmarish coven.

I trust that you will remember your promise to advance my name when a position becomes available in Rome, and I hope thie letter proves my steadfastness and my discetion. I remain your servant in Christ, and please give my regards to our mutual friends in Volterra.

Very truly yours,

Monsignor Sergio Corvi