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A Litany at Dusk

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

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?

7. Chapter 7 Apologies to Isabella

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2749   Review this Chapter


I sat on the deck of the Denali coven’s house that overlooked the gorge. Spread out before me was the National Forest, and the Nenana River rumbled below. No one had been home when I had arrived in the early afternoon, so I had jumped onto the deck and waited, watching the sun move in the sky and the eagles hunt from their vantage points, hanging in the sky like they were pinned there. A small herd of deer crossed the river sometime at dusk. I’d caught sight of them just as I had finished my litany.

The sun had set majestically over the Alaskan range and the crickets had come out in full force. The stars glittered fiercely in the moonless night and around me, I heard the night animals awaken and greet the darkness. Sometime soon after, I heard Kate and Tanya’s car arrive. It wasn’t too much later that I heard the screen door bang and Tanya settle into the deck chair beside me.

We both sat listening to the night sounds. I heard her wondering why I had shown up on her doorstep.

“I don’t really know why,” I said truthfully.

“So, tell me what is going on?” she asked in that lilting voice that contained just the slightest trace of intonations from her native language. Tanya had been made early in the last millennium, and although I’d heard her speak in a variety of languages and dialects, she slipped into old patterns when relaxed. “Have you come for a return engagement?” she asked playfully.

I realized the truth in my words as I said them. “No. You are beautiful, Tanya, but…no.” There was no one that I wanted to get close to except the one whom I had run away from.

“So then, what brings you to my doorstep, looking like a cross between a lost fawn and a loaded gun?”

I am…” I began, searching for words for the knot of emotions inside me, “confused.”

“Well, that makes two of us,” she replied. “I don’t see you for years and years. You never visit. I thought we were friends.”

“And I thought we were more than friends,” I said, looking out over the yard. A fox trotted stealthily along the clearing at the side of the house.

She looked at me curiously. “Sometimes I forget how young you are.” I gritted my teeth against the condescension I heard in her thoughts.

Seeing the tension in my face, she sighed. “Edward, when you have lived as long as I have, you will realize how terribly monotonous life is. Change becomes a necessity.”

Outside of the Volturi, Tanya was among the oldest of our kind, and certainly, she was very good at taking care of what pleased and amused Tanya. After several hundred years, I supposed one had to be. Less hedonistic and narcissistic souls seemed to eventually get bored enough to end it all. She considered me hopelessly young and naive for expecting that our relationship, brief as it may have been by immortal standards, would ever have been monogamous.

I heard the surprise in her thoughts as she realized my eyes were gold. “Last I heard, you were living nomad.”

I let the past go. Life was too long to hold onto every hurt or grudge. “Well, change became a necessity,” I said, smiling at her.

She threw her head back and laughed. “And how is the rest of the family?”

“Good. Did you know they were back in Washington State?”

“Yes,” she answered. “I had heard that. Carlisle is still doctoring?”

I nodded.

“Ah,” she sighed. “That man is a charming enigma. I don’t know how he does it.”

I got up out of my chair and walked over to the deck railing. Down below, in the floor of the gorge, the river thundered. “There is a woman.”

She nodded, her own suspicions confirmed. “So, tell me. Who is she?”

I rested on my elbows on the railing. “You wouldn’t know her.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. I know most of us in the New World.” She waited for my response but I had none for her. It hit her then. “It’s a human, isn’t it?” When I didn’t deny it, she laughed. “Edward has it for a human. Oh, that is funny.”

I ran my hand through my hair. I had always felt Tanya’s use of human lovers was a bit beneath her. She knew I felt that way, but it had never stopped her; it was the one of the things that had finally driven us apart. I turned to her and crossed my arms across my chest, waiting for her.

She studied me, assessing my mood. “Well, she must be very special if she has captured your attention,” she said, wondering what kind of woman it was that had managed such a feat.

“My attention, ha!” I said bitterly. “My obsession is more like it. I can’t stop thinking about her. Yet, we haven’t exchanged more than a handful of words. She haunts me.”

“I love human lovers. They are so…warm,” she decided, wriggling a bit for emphasis.

“She smells so incredible,” I said, shaking my head. “Like joy and ecstasy and life all rolled together. It’s unbelievable.”

She rose from her chair and stepped up close to me. Not taking her eyes from mine, she reached into the inner pocket of my jacket, letting her hand slide along my chest. She pulled out my pack of cigarettes and shook one out for herself. Her eyebrow cocked, to offer me one as well, but I shook my head. She replaced the pack in its pocket and patted my chest. I pulled out my lighter and offered her the flame.

She bent down to the flame and took a puff, then raised her head to blow the smoke into the wind. “Well, it sounds like you have found yourself a singer.” I’d heard of those, but if it hadn’t been for Emmett’s recollections, I would have thought they were a myth.

“Alice says she is my destiny.” I finally was beginning to believe that particular forecast.

"Ah, Alice, the seer.” She nodded, the pieces coming together. “Is this human woman your motivation?” she asked curiously. “Is that why you have golden eyes?”

“No, I need to come off the road. I am tired of using thugs and killers as my food source.” There was so much more to that answer, but I left that discussion for another time. I turned to the railing. “I can’t hear her mind at all.”

“Ooh, a mystery for you. That must be refreshing.”

I grimaced. “It’s frustrating, is what it is.”

“Well, I think you will find it easier to bear the thirst, if you take a lover.”

The thought had never occurred to me. “Why is that?”

She took another pull off the cigarette. “Lust is lust. Everybody has to get their rocks off some way." She gestured with her hand. "Look how your family has paired up.”

“Is that it for you?” I had never heard this theory before.

“Me? Oh no,” she chuckled. “It is a matter of convenience for me. I stay away from killing humans because I’m comfortable here. Makes it easier to stay in one place and get to know the local population.” She winked at me before leaning back against the railing. “Carlisle is the compassionate one.”

Compassion. I seemed woefully short of it. “I’m not going to be able to leave her alone. That would be the compassionate thing to do.” It hurt to admit it, but I had to be honest with myself. It was painful right now, being away from Isabella.

A thought stopped me cold, sending shivers down my spine. Isabella was human—humans got hurt and died all the time. What if something happened to her? Alice couldn’t foresee everything. What if she got in an automobile accident or… just about anything? They were so incredibly fragile. My imagination started running away with me and it took every ounce of control I had not to jump on the bike to race back to Seattle immediately.

I hated this. I hated feeling like I wasn’t the one in control. I was used to being as free as I cared— to go where and when I wanted. I followed the rules, but they were rules that I set. Suddenly, I had a whole new set of priorities thrust on me.

“So, what are your choices?” Tanya asked, assessing me like I was a lab specimen.

The choice I wanted was the one that was apparently beyond me, to walk away leaving Isabella untouched. The choice that scared me the most was the one that whispered to me in the darkest recesses if my soul, imagining how sweet and pure her blood would taste. Some part of me was ready with rationales: I’d killed so many, what was one more? Would the death of one girl be such a tragedy? Would she even be missed?

“Aarggh,” I yelled, letting out a strangled cry. “I can’t leave her alone! I won’t kill her!” I turned to Tanya. “What do I do?” I asked her, anguish burning through me like acid. “Do I ask Carlisle to turn her?” Was that something Carlisle would even consider? Was it really what I wanted for Isabella?

I knew I would never have the restraint necessary to turn her. I couldn’t even entertain the thought that I would have the self-control in the presence of that smell to be able to stop at the point just before death. “There’s not much compassion in forcing her to become vampire.”

“Well, more than ending her life,” she pointed out. “You know, she might choose to join you.” She smiled lopsidedly. “You are not unattractive. Maybe you should just get to know her.”

“Get to know her?”

“Sure, and let her get to know you,” she said. “You know, date her.” She raised her chin, smiling. "Maybe even screw her." She opened her eyes wide, playfully.

Date her? Date a human? There were such discrepancies in our strength and durability. “Tanya, don’t you ever hurt somebody when you are, well, during coitus?”

She laughed at both my question and my euphemism. “No, it just takes some practice.” She frowned as a memory flicked in front of her mind’s eye, then shrugged the remembrance off. “You know, humans are more than a food source. They can be remarkable companions.”

“So I’ve heard,” I said, smirking.

She looked at me out of the corner of her eye. “A mate would be a very good thing for you, I am thinking. It will help with the bloodlust. It will be hard for you though, after feeding on humans for so long.” She stepped up to me and affectionately pushed a lock of hair back from my face. Then she stepped back and gestured at my outfit. “And despite the biker-boy-bound-for-hell image you like to project, underneath you are very much a romantic.”

She took a last puff and flicked the cigarette off into the night. “Carmen and Eleazar are in Bolivia. Stay and hunt if you like. No one is using the green room.”

She walked back into the house, shaking her head. Edward asking me for human love advice. He never fails to surprise me.

Some part of me desperately wanted to believe that I could court Isabella Swan. I let myself dream that she would accept me as a suitor. Perhaps if I were very careful, made sure I was fully fed before I saw her…

And if not, well then, one of us would die.

I whispered her name. “Isabella Swan.” Just the sound of her name aroused me. I felt the need to get back to Seattle like I remembered my former need to breathe. It was an oppressive need that grew and grew until it became all you could think of. It became more intense with every hour that passed. Yet, I held off returning for a while longer. There was so much at stake here and she was such an unknown entity.

Some small part of me was furious with her. How dare she upset my equilibrium this way. Perhaps there would be an accident…NO! My mind refused to entertain any thought of harm to her.

Perhaps there was a third path after all. Perhaps I could deal with the smell long enough to explore my newfound libido. Perhaps we could become friends; maybe she would even come to want me.

I shook my head in disbelief at my own fantasies. Like she would want me, the creature of shadows. The doubts immediately started to rage. But I knew I was going to go back to her. I had no choice in that, just as when I was human, I had no choice but to breathe. Fate was playing terrible games with us both, I realized. Our lives had become irrevocably intertwined because of one chance meeting in a church. She didn't know it, but I would have her blood or her body, maybe even both.

I remembered the image of her leaving the church, her white dress and hair being caressed by the wind. I am so sorry, Isabella.

I jumped the gorge and did some hunting in the park where the predators were abundant. The sun had begun to rise as I came back to the house. It was quiet, but I heard Kate and Tanya upstairs murmuring to each other. I walked over to the TV to see what the weather was to be for the ride home. The TV flickered on, and I looked around for the remote to change the station to the Weather Channel. I turned to the sofa and froze at the words of the announcer.

"... identified as Jackson Hellberger and Adam Mostevic. Their bodies were found inside the van found at this service station in Prince George." I turned around to recognize the gas station I had stopped at and I felt the anger erupt in me like an explosion. The camera panned back to the reporter. "Police say the boys were shot execution-style at close range and advise all residents to be on the lookout for this man." A police artist's sketch showed a passable rendering of the predator I thought I had neutralized. "Anyone with information on his whereabouts should contact the Prince George police. Authorities caution the public to call the police, do not approach this man. He is considered armed and dangerous."

I stepped outside, trembling with suppressed fury. I picked up a wooden deck chair, and with a huge roar, heaved it so it sailed across the gorge. It crashed into the trees on the other side of the river, sending a flock of startled birds into the air. I stood there clenching my fists. Fucking humans. How had they screwed it up? I gave it to them on a platter. I remembered Jackson's face as he had nodded at me, finally seeing some hope. He'd been killed, what,ten minutes later?

Tanya appeared beside me. She sighed, resigned. "That was part of a set," she said wistfully.

“I have tried to save them from themselves,” I hissed, grinding my teeth. “But it is like trying to empty the ocean with a Dixie cup.”

“Just because something is futile doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.”

I looked at her in surprise. She had never indicated that she understood my brand of vigilantism before. I shook my head. “I won’t go back to that.”

“Then don’t.”

I still felt the pull of wanting to see justice done. “So evil should continue unchecked?”

“Who put you in charge of checking it?” she asked, scoffing. “You do what you can. I think you’ve done your share.”

I looked across the gorge where the chair had disappeared. "I'll go get it," I volunteered.

She put her hand on my arm. "Forget it. It's probably just splinters now anyway."

I ran my hand through my hair. It was time to go. "I am leaving."

"I'm not surprised. Where are you headed?"

I strode across the deck and down the steps. "Off to meet my destiny."

I heard her low, melodious laugh as I hopped on the bike and hit the starter. As I headed towards the highway, the thoughts repeated in my head. I am coming for you, Isabella,I am so sorry.