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The Call of Blood

Summary:
In the land of Bukangliwayway, most people find their mates when they feel the magnetic pull known as the call of blood. What will Edward do when he is pulled by the call to one woman, while falling in love with another? Written for When Love Was New.


Notes:
Author's Notes: I would like to thank Project Team Beta for betaing my story. You're the best! I would also like to thank summer35 (eun hye), for giving her feedback in this. Summer35 (eun hye) is the author of Prey. It's a really cool story so read it! (www . fanfiction . net /s/ 4856255 /1/ Prey) She also wrote an awesome piece called Love Through the Mists so come check it out. www . fanfiction . net /s/ 5477892 /1/ Actually, Prey had been my inspiration with this story. I love the idea of someone being bound to you by blood. Then, this story took a life of its own. The words of the ancient language is Tagalog, my native tongue. I thought it was cool to incorporate some of the words here. Ikaw (popularized by Regine Velasquez) is a popular wedding song. I encourage you to listen to it. www . youtube . com/ watch?v=f1QFthkRa5U Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or Ikaw. They are property of Stephenie Meyer and Regine Velasquez, respectively. I'm just using it for my own enjoyment. However, this story is solely my own and I would mind it if you reproduced my story in any form or fashion. So copy my story and I would send you to the pits of hell.


1. One shot

Rating 0/5   Word Count 14589   Review this Chapter

Once upon a time, only God and his lover, the woman roamed the earth. However, there were times when her Lover had to leave her. Everytime He was gone, she had always cried because she did not want to be separated from Him. One day, he finally asked her what she wanted so that he could ease her loneliness in his absence.

“I want a companion. You are always gone from your trip. I want someone I can talk to especially when you are away,” she said.

“Very well. But only promise me one thing,” the God said.

“What is that?” she asked.

“You would love only me,” the God said.

The woman agreed. “I offer you everything that I have,” she said. “I will always love you.”

Then, God created the woman’s companion and called him a man. The man was a good companion to the woman for they were the same kind; she had no longer gotten lonely everytime God left because of him. The woman had always wanted her Lover but she was beginning to feel doubtful of God. He had been gone for so long that the woman thought that He had forgotten her. So, the woman took the man as a mate and bore him children. One day, God came back and the woman was shameful. She was pregnant with her fifth child—an obvious sign that she had been unfaithful.

“What have you done?” the God asked angrily. “You promised me that you would only love me.”

“I know and I have,” the woman said with regret. “But you were gone for a really long time. I thought that you have abandoned me.”

“You should know by now that I would never do that. I only loved you,” the God said. When he looked at her, He had felt pity for the woman and was filled with compassion.

“I’m sorry,” the woman cried. “If I could only turn back time, I would not do what I did. You have been so kind to me and this is how I repaid you.”

God shook his head. “I would not want to turn back time because it made you who you are. However, I forgive you because I love you more than you realized. I would bind you with this magic so that you would always find me, wherever you are,” the God answered.

The God bound the woman to him. With that magic, he would always find her and wherever they were. The woman could also do the same thing. Whenever she felt lonely, she would just open her connection with her Lover and He would be there in an instant. As a result, the divine and the human were bounded by the everlasting love. God also bound the women’s children and their children to their destined other half so that they would find one another wherever they were to give them a chance the happiness He experienced with their mother. That was the legend of the call of blood.

The call of blood was an integral part of our culture. As the legend said, it would lead us to our soulmates. We would have such a strong connection with our other halves that everything in our lives would shift to make him or her its focus. It would be love at first sight but stronger. If we found them, everything we knew would cease to exist because everything would be about them. Nobody was stupid enough to resist it. Everybody said that the person who resisted the call of blood would be miserable for they would lose meaning into their lives. They would not have a reason to live and would then self-destruct.

As for me, I decided that if I ever felt it, I would obey it and follow my destiny. After all, I would not be stupid enough to let go of my happiness on a whim. I would stick with it to the end. Only people that did not want the long lasting happiness that the call of blood could offer would ignore it after all.

I was working at the office of my father when I finally felt it. It was too strong for me to ignore.

“Father, I need to go take care of something right now,” I said. “I’ll tell you about it at home.”

My father, Carlisle, nodded. “What would it be?”

“The call of blood,” I answered.

“Then hurry up and follow it,” he encouraged. “This might be your chance.”

I was sure my excitement was palpable as I hugged him before heading towards the door. The call of the blood, a feeling unlike anything I’d ever experienced before, pulled me like metal to a magnet. Now, I wouldn’t feel left out whenever my siblings and my parents spent time with their significant others. I had finally found my mate. I followed the direction of the pull and opened up our mental connection to make my search easier.

I’m Edward, by the way, I thought. And you are?

Tanya, the person who would be my wife answered.

I closed my eyes to feel better where my body was urging me to go. I ignored the blistering heat of the desert and the sand I was stirring leaving dust in my wake. I turned to the left and saw the healing camp. It was a rectangular building made of sand with no doors covering the entrance. All are welcome here as long as we don’t disturb the patients and get out of everybody’s way, I thought.

The pull got stronger as I got closer to the building and the call was urging me to move toward the hallway. I ran carefully to avoid colliding with any healers heading my direction until I reached the end of the hall and opened the right door. When I opened it, everything around me shifted and aligned itself with this woman. She had blonde hair and blue eyes.

“Tanya?” I called in shock.

“Edward?” she asked. I answered with a nod. “You came.”

I thought about the ancient stories and legends about the call of blood. All of them said that it would feel like love at first sight but stronger but I did not feel it. I was now quite sure that the poets and the story teller had romanticized it. Now that I had seen the person I had the pull to, I did not know what to do next.

Edward, where are your manners? I silently chastised myself. It would be rude to leave as soon as you get here.

I looked at her closely and smiled, her strawberry blonde hair glistening as it caught light. Some people might say that she was pretty but she was not my type. Although everything I did from now on would revolve around her, she was not someone I could associate with forever. I was disappointed of myself for trusting the storytellers and the poets too much. Clearly, I had unrealistic expectations.

Edward, say something and don’t stand there like a jerk, I urged myself internally.

I noticed that Tanya was as pale as a ghost with eye bags underneath her eyes. It looked like she was here because of exhaustion. She could definitely use some rest.

“How long have you been here?” I asked.

“Earlier today,” she answered. “Then, I blacked out, and the next thing I knew, I was here at the hospital.”

“I’m sorry about that,” I found myself saying.

“How are you feeling?” I continued with my questions.

“Still tired,” she answered.

I heard the door open and turned around to see a man in a dark robe.

“I’m sorry but no visitors allowed,” he said sternly. “The only people who should be here are her family, her friends, and her mate.”

I managed to let out a chuckle. “I just found out today that I’m her mate.” It was ironic that he was implying for me to get out while at the same time telling me that I did not need to follow the rules.

“I apologize. Stay as long as you want,” he said before holding out his hand.

“I’m Mike, Tanya’s healer,” he introduced himself.

“I’m Edward.” I held out my hand and shook his.

“What’s the prognosis then?” I saw my mate’s expression changed into a frown when I asked the question.

“I haven’t done a full diagnosis yet but I am assuming your mate is suffering from exhaustion. She has been using a lot of her magic lately. She needs to rest and eat more to replenish her power,” he explained to me before turning to my mate. “I don’t think the king would appreciate it if you work yourself to death.”

“But my duties,” she protested.

“Your duties can wait. You are more important than your job so no buts. From what I have heard the king is reasonable, understanding and just,” he argued.

“That is true,” I said. “I should know. The king is my father.”

Tanya and Mike both looked at me in disbelief. “You don’t know?” Both shook their heads at my statement. “It’s okay. I understand. I mean, Jasper is the one who’s always out in public.”

“I’m sorry. I thought the Jasper was king’s only son,” Mike admitted.

I shook my head. “Technically, Jasper isn’t even blood related to the king. Jasper is the king’s only son-in-law,” I explained. “My only siblings are Emmett and Alice. Jasper is Alice’s husband. So, what do you do for my father, Tanya?” I asked.

“I’m the teacher at the magic school for the girls,” she answered.

I nodded. “You must be pretty trustworthy and very good with magic then,” I concluded.

“My father is constantly saying, ‘I don’t want to trust the magic school to anyone. These kids are our future. Only those with the skill and the heart of the teacher should be allowed to teach in magic schools’.” I did my best imitation of my father.

Tanya and Mike fought to keep quiet but to no avail. After a few seconds, they burst out laughing. “I have to admit. That almost sounded like the king,” Tanya said.

“I know,” I answered mischievously. “Just don’t tell him I did that.” I did not know how my father would react with me imitating him. I was not a jester by profession after all.

“I’m sorry but would you mind if I diagnose her?” Mike interrupted.

“Not at all,” I said.

Mike held out his palm facing Tanya, and golden light radiated out of his hands. The light fully surrounded my mate. He stayed like that for a few minutes while the golden light continuously streamed out of his hands. Then, the light began to fade until it fully disappeared. Mike turned to us and gave his diagnosis.

“I’m afraid I’ll need more energy than I thought. Tanya, you have something in your body that’s growing so fast, it’s destroying everything. All it does is reproduce without realizing that it’s harming and slowly killing you,” Mike explained. “I’m going to need more than my own energy to destroy it. You wouldn’t mind if I borrow your energy, would you?” Tanya shook her head. “Edward?”

“Not at all,” I said, holding out my hand. “Take whatever you need. I’ll just replenish myself later.”

“Very well. Edward, hold Tanya’s hand.” I followed his instructions.

He grabbed her other hand and placed his free hand three inches away from Tanya’s body. He closed his eyes as blue light came out of his hands. I felt weaker as he continued to use my energy to fuel the blue light.

At the end of his healing, I was exhausted. I was now searching for a bed to lie down on. I now understood why that particular magic required more than Mike’s. People in Bukangliwayway had always performed magic. Our only limitation was the energy involved. The more powerful the spell, the more energy it would involve. The type of healing Mike performed was really strong. It would kill him if he did it alone. Even three people doing it were barely enough. I could not hold myself upright so I sat on Tanya’s bed and closed my eyes.

“Edward, there are two small beds at the healers’ lounge if you want,” Mike offered.

“Thank you. Is it gone?” I asked.

“I did not fully remove it since the three of us would likely die from exhaustion if I did. I’ll have to shrink it again next week,” Mike admitted. “Tanya, I need you to schedule an appointment for next week.”

Tanya nodded. “I guess this will take a while,” she said.

“You better eat and rest. That way, your body can help fight the malady inside of you,” Mike continued. “Edward and I have to leave you. We need rest to rest as well.”

Tanya nodded. “I understand,” she said. “I’m tired, too.”

She closed her eyes.

“Let’s leave her for now,” Mike advised. “She must be exhausted.”

I followed Mike as he led me to the healers’ resting place where I took an hour nap. It was just a small room lined with beds. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. When I woke up, I was so hungry that I ate enough food to last me for a day. Sharing my power to heal Tanya definitely took a toll on me.

I visited her everyday of the week, learning what I could about her. I learned that she taught at magic school for three years. She did such a good job that she was recently promoted as one of the curriculum coordinators. I also learned that she loved to host parties which would make her a perfect nobleman’s wife.

When Tanya was about to be released from the hospital, I observed how she and Mike interacted. They were acting like cats and dogs. Tanya was not only jabbing insults at Mike, Mike was also ruthless with his comebacks. However, no matter how much they argued, they never took it seriously. I had learned that he and Tanya grew up together and they had always been like this. They had always argued but, as Tanya explained, deep down, they cared about each other. It was interesting to see the dynamics of their relationship.

“Mike, what have you been doing for the past six months?” Tanya asked.

“Just curing patients. One of the best jobs in the world,” he answered.

“You got tired of playing doctor to the dogs, didn’t you?”

“Nope. I still play with them. I just do them with humans,” Mike said with a grin on his face.

Curiosity got the best of me. “What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Mike has been playing doctor with his dogs ever since he was nine,” Tanya explained. “Obviously, he still hasn’t gotten over his dream of healing.”

Mike shook his head. “No, I haven’t,” he said. “I have to go now. I promised my mate I’d be home early.”

“How about introducing us to her?” Tanya asked.

“You want to meet my mate?” Mike clarified.

“Sure. I’d love to. I only heard of her recently when your aunt visited my family. Personally, I would love to see the person who would be able to put you in your place,” Tanya answered.

“What about you, Edward?” he asked politely.

I thought about it for a few minutes while both Tanya and Mike looked at me waiting for an answer. “Sure,” I said. There was nothing wrong with meeting someone’s mate.

Mike’s house was a typical Bukangliwayway home. It was a rectangular, one story building made almost entirely out of sand. There were tiny holes here and there as a form of ventilation. When we reached the door, Mike used his magic to open it.

The moment I stepped in, all of my attention was focused on the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She was way more beautiful than Tanya, my mate. Her hair was as dark as mahogany. Her chocolate brown eyes were the most expressive ones in the world. Even the best artist in this planet would not be able to capture her beauty because it would just be a pale imitation if he tried. I was standing in front of a goddess.

I noticed what she was wearing. It was similar to the robe Mike was wearing. It was a long-sleeved, floor-length robe with intricate designs at the chest. This type of robe could only be worn by the family most powerful and wealthy warriors in the kingdom. She must have come from an important family to put it on. Everybody else was forbidden to wear it after all.

Then, there was her smile. If I were her, I would be careful. She could command an army with it. I myself would gladly obey her commands if she were to ask me anything with that grin on her face.

“Hi,” she greeted.

Mike led us inside the room. Then, he turned to the goddess and said, “Everyone, I would like to introduce you to my mate, Bella. Bella, this is Edward and Tanya.”

She is Mike’s mate, I repeated in my head. That thought brought a wave of disappointment crashing down on me. In that moment, the realization that I wanted her, despite the fact that we both had mates, weighed heavily upon my heart. No matter what happened, we could never be together.

“Pleased to meet you,” she said genuinely.

She held out her hand and we accepted her gesture. Tanya shook her hand first. I chastised myself for comparing them, but it was no use. Despite the call of blood, I found myself being more attracted to Bella than I was with Tanya.

Focus, Edward. Being beautiful does not mean she is nice. Tanya is nice, I silently told myself.

“Would you like some cookies?” she asked.

“Cookies would be good,” I said.

“I’ll add either juice or milk then,” Bella commented. “What drinks do you prefer?”

“I prefer milk,” Tanya said. “Milk and cookies are a really good combo.”

“I would like orange juice,” I answered.

“What do you want, Mike?” Bella asked her mate.

“Water is good,” he said.

“I’m sorry to be rude. Please take a seat,” she said when she realized that we were still standing. She pointed us toward the seats in the living room.

Tanya and I took the nearest available seats. I took time to really look at the house. It seemed that all of the furniture was made of bamboo. There were bamboo tables, bamboo chairs and bamboo window shutters. The design was typical for a house of someone with ordinary income. Where were the comfortable couches and the marble tables? This was not fit for people in their stature. There should be at least an ornately decorated table and a leather couch in the living room.

“Bella designed this, you know,” Mike said. “She said she’s contented with the bare necessities.”

It must have something to do with the war chief family, I chuckled at my thought. It made me realize that she was human.

“What’s so funny?” Mike asked suspiciously. “You’re not making fun of her mentally, are you?”

“No,” I shook my head furiously. “I was just thinking about the last time my brother, Emmett tried to decorate our house.”

“That must have been something, huh?” Mike commented.

“It is something else,” I lied. Mike did not need to know that Emmett never attempted to decorate anything.

I nodded and sighed, finally finding one of Bella’s imperfections. She was the one who designed this place after all. Why would a person of noble birth design a house fit for commoners? If she could not design her house properly, she would not be able to host parties really well. Most women I knew took the time to design their houses. That way, when people went to a house, the guests would compliment the hostess and conversations would start. My mother had always received compliment with her artistic abilities and so did my sister. A girl like her would not do a good job entertaining people during parties.

“Bella, you have very interesting taste,” Tanya said politely.

“Well, thanks. I would rather not waste my energy on simple things such as decorating,” Bella replied.

Tanya laughed. “Well, if you think about it, would you rather use your energy decorating the house or would you rather use your energy doing a lot of volunteer work?” Bella continued. “I help teach orphans skills necessary for their independence. One of the regular activities we cover is growing food.”

I stared at her in shock as she proved my previous thoughts wrong. She would be more entertaining than women who did nothing but design their houses. She had to have a heart of gold if she was helping orphans. There was only one person in Bukangliwayway that could match her kindness. She was my mother, Esme. Mother had been a regular volunteer in the orphanages herself and always brought home good stories with her.

“And I thought I was doing the best in this world,” Tanya quietly whispered to me. I just nodded in agreement. I could not agree more.

“Anyway, my friend Angela and I run a small orphanage. We’re teaching kids skills that they might use later in life,” Bella explained.

Tanya changed the subject. “Bella, your work at the orphanage is nice but why do you have a wedding catalogue with you? When’s the wedding?” she inquired.

That was the first time I noticed what she was holding. It looked like a bunch of magazines, all with women in their wedding attire in the cover.

“We haven’t set the date yet,” Bella answered. “But we’re planning to get married. He already proposed to me.”

“So, did you start planning your wedding?” Tanya asked curiously.

Bella shook her head. “I don’t know where to start. All I know is that I have a year to do it,” she answered.

“If you want, I could ask my sister to help you with your wedding,” I volunteered. “I’ll just warn you, she does go crazy when it comes to planning anything.”

“I’m sure that I would rather have your sister plan my wedding than do it on my own,” she said.

“I’ll tell her when I get home.”

When I got home, I told Alice about Tanya, Mike and Bella. I did not tell her everything about Tanya since she would most likely scare my mate with enthusiasm. What I told her was that Bella was having a hard time planning her wedding with Mike.

“She basically had no idea how to start planning so I offered to ask you. I realized that she needed someone who’s gifted with party planning,” I explained.

“Sure, I’ll help,” she said. “She sounds wonderful.”

That was when Alice started bringing Bella home. Initially, I welcomed Bella's constant presence in my home, assuming the attraction I felt toward her would eventually wane. She had the opposite effect, however, and it seemed I would never tire of wanting to see her. She was like my drug; the brand of opium that was specifically designed for me. I could never get enough of her and I wanted to see her more. My fascination with her now compared to the first day had grown exponentially. If I could bottle the essence of Bella, carrying it everywhere to get my fix, I'd likely lose the kingdom over my insatiable craving. The day Alice started bringing Bella home, I started coming home early just to get a glimpse of her. I was welcomed with a delightful scenery everyday.

“Hi, Edward!” Bella greeted. “You won’t mind if I stay here at your house, will you?”

I shook my head. “Not at all. Please feel free to treat this place like your own home.”

“Did I tell you your house is huge?” Bella asked.

“Only everyday since you first started coming here,” I pointed out.

I took a long glance at Bella and headed upstairs where I found my favorite musical instrument, a guitar. I plucked the strings as thoughts of Bella filled my mind. Music that captured how I felt about her suddenly as I played, music so soft, and so beautiful flowed from my guitar.

I suddenly felt a tap on my shoulder. When I looked up, I saw Bella. She must have followed me up to my room.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I just want to get this off my system. I couldn’t sleep every night, thinking about you. I’m getting married soon and I need to get rid of my obsession with you,” she said before suddenly kissing me.

To say that I was shocked was an understatement. She just admitted that she was fighting her feelings for me just like what I was doing at the time when I was at her house. I understood completely what she meant because I was fighting the same feelings so I kissed her back. However, instead of dousing my longing, it actually increased it.

We finally stopped as we tried to catch our breath. “Was it out of your system?” I asked before giving her a peck in her lips.

“No,” she said before kissing me again.

I received her lips with pleasure. I let my tongue explore her mouth. There was something about kissing Bella that was so different from anything that I had ever experienced before. We finally broke apart, panting.

“I was wrong. Getting a taste of Edward actually increased my attraction with you,” she said.

“But we both experienced the call of blood,” I reasoned out. “We are both getting married to someone else.”

“I know. We will never speak of this with anyone,” she said with conviction.

“Speak of what?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she answered.

We both headed downstairs to meet Alice. As we descended downward, several thoughts flooded my mind. First, Bella was attracted to me. Second, our kiss that was supposed to get rid of our attraction backfired, and intensified our longing. And third, we could never be together because of the call of blood.

“Edward,” Alice said, shaking me from my contemplation. I did not even know when she appeared. “I want to thank you for making me know this girl.”

“I see that the two of you are getting along,” I commented.

“Yes, Edward, we are. We’re going to be good friends,” Alice said.

“We’re already good friends,” Bella corrected.

“So, is Bella going shopping with you soon?” I asked. Alice had forced people close to her to go on a shopping spree with her at least once. Even I got to experience that.

Alice shook her head. “No. Bella is more comfortable with what she wears.”

I couldn’t help but agree with Bella. She would look good whatever she put on, even if it were a flour sack.

“How’s the wedding planning going?” I inquired as I felt a stabbing pain on my chest. I looked at Bella, who looked away from me.

“She made me her wedding planner. We’re still arguing about the flowers. Can you believe it? The girl just wanted freesia for her wedding,” Alice prattled.

“What is wrong with freesia?” I thought that it was the most beautiful flower in the world. It was my favorite, after all.

“Nothing,” Alice said. “I just thought that she should explore the other flowers to see which ones she would love to have at her wedding.”

“Hey, I’m still here,” Bella said. “I could answer your questions directly.”

“I’m sorry, Bella. Would you like a snack?” I asked.

“That would be good. I want some dinuguan,” she said.

I found myself smiling. I pointed my finger on the table, and soon, the blood stew that was the delicacy of Bukangliwayway appeared at the table.

“Give me some, too,” Alice said.

I nodded and pointed again at the table and suddenly, a pot big enough for ten appeared. Then, I produced utensils so that we could eat.

“Where do you get your food?” Bella asked.

“We usually get some from the haciendas,” I answered. “We have contracted with several of them. We pay them every month so that they won’t be shocked to find some of their produce or livestock missing.”

Bella nodded. “It makes a lot of sense,” she said.

It cost a lot more energy to produce something out of nothing than to transport something from one location to another. This also explained why farmers used so much energy that they could only produce bamboo furniture in their homes. Growing food in the desert called Bukangliwayway was almost like producing food out of nothing. They needed to produce rain and fertilizer. They also needed to help the food grow. It was both energy and time consuming process. We nobles paid a hefty sum so that we could just grab anything we wanted.

“One last question. Did you have the dinuguan already cooked and all you have to do is to transfer it here or did you use your magic to cook it yourself?” Bella continued her interrogation.

“The latter.”

“Oh, no! You didn’t have to waste your energy to feed me.” I stared at Bella in amazement.

“Bella, most people would just say thank you,” I pointed out.

“Thank you very much,” she said.

“Don’t worry about that, Bella,” Alice said. “We’re royalty, remember? We normally don’t exert a lot of our power on menial tasks. You could say that we need to flex our powers, so you’re doing us a favor, actually.”

“Thank you, Alice,” I mouthed to her.

“Really?” It was interesting how Alice turned a stunned Bella into a smiling one.

“Really. Forget about Edward using his magic to feed us,” Alice reassured Bella.

We grabbed the bowls and the other utensils to eat. Then, I realized something was missing. I pointed at the table and produced puto the same way I produced dinuguan. Now that we had both the stew and bread combination, I was content to eat.

“Bella, how are things with Mike?” I asked.

“Okay, I guess,” she answered.

“Just okay?” Alice was doubtful.

“To be honest, everything’s not okay,” she said before looking at me hesitantly.

“Would you mind telling me what’s going on?” Alice asked.

Bella nodded before proceeding with her tale. She told us how she felt the call of blood from Mike about a year ago and how she thought she would be happy with him. However, she also said that Mike was very inattentive with her. She admitted that she felt abandoned most of the time but she just shrugged it off. I could not help giving her a hug to comfort her when she started crying. Nobody should make her cry.

“Don’t worry.” I gave her my reassurance. “Everything will be okay.”

Bella smiled. “I hope so.”

Just then, my blonde brother-in-law appeared at the door. The moment I saw him step inside, Alice’s face lit up. It was as if she had seen light for the first time.

“Jasper.” She gasped under her breath. “Come here.”

Jasper’s face was as bright as Alice’s. I never tired of watching this couple exchange their affection with each other. It was something that I wanted and hoped to have found with Tanya.

“Hi, my dear,” he greeted Alice, kissing her lips. “How is the wedding planning going?”

“Really well,” she answered. “You’ve met Bella, right?”

“No, I haven’t,” Jasper said. “Please to meet you, Bella.”

Jasper reached out for Bella’s hand and kissed it. “The pleasure is mine,” Bella gave him the customary greeting. Then, Jasper dropped her hand and she turned her attention back to Alice.

“Why are you crying?” Jasper asked. “Did these two made you cry?”

Bella shook her head. “No, they’re great actually. Thank you again, Alice,” Bella said. “You’re so organized that it’s been a really great help.”

“Don’t mention it,” Alice told her. “I told you, you’re my new best friend. Let’s continue what we were doing. The boys do like to spend quality time together.”

She dragged Bella back to the living room as Jasper and I began one of our regular chess games.

“What do you think of Alice, Jasper?” I asked.

“Beautiful. Very beautiful. I think Alice is the most beautiful woman in the world,” he said, getting distracted.

I took advantage of the situation by placing the rook to capture the queen. I knew his ultimate weakness—my sister. Jasper was always distracted everytime he thought of Alice.

“You know, I could ask you the same thing about Bella. What do you think of her?” he asked.

That was when I lost my concentration. What did I think of Bella? “She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” I said guiltily as I moved my pawn.

Jasper’s eyes suddenly focused and he quickly moved his bishop. “Check mate,” he pointed out. “I knew I would distract you the same way one of these days. So, do you like her?”

“I would say that she is very pretty,” I admitted.

“What’s stopping you from asking her out?” Jasper asked.

“We are both in a committed relationship brought by the call of blood nonetheless,” I answered. “Jasper, I have a mate.”

“I would like to meet her. She is with my best friend after all,” Jasper said.

It was then that the window on my left turned blue, signaling that we had a guest. I went to the window and saw a blonde haired girl standing outside the gate.

“Speak of the devil,” I told Jasper before turning to the window and activating the enchantment that would allow the guards to hear me.

“Send her in,” I said.

When Tanya came into the room, she smiled and gave me a kiss on the lips.

“Hello, Edward,” she greeted.

“Jasper, this is Tanya, my mate,” I told the confused Jasper.

“Pleased to meet you,” he said, kissing her hand like he did with Bella. “To what do we owe the pleasure of you being here?”

“Visiting my mate,” she said. “What are the two of you doing?”

“Playing chess,” I answered. “It was an interesting game.”

“I would like to learn how to play chess,” she exclaimed. “Would you teach me?”

I looked at Jasper who laughed. “Sure.”

We spent the entire afternoon teaching Tanya. Then, Jasper and I decided to let him play with her first. It took us by surprise when she beat Jasper the first time.

“Tanya, be honest,” Jasper began. “How long have you known how to play chess?”

“My father taught me when I was a little girl. My late father was a former grandmaster of chess,” she said.

Today was the day I learned that women could be deceiving. “Then you should be teaching us,” Jasper said.

“You could say that,” she said. “It was just hard to find someone who would like to play me. Most people back down whenever I ask if they want to play with me.”

Jasper and I took turns playing against Tanya and enjoyed every minute of it. She was really fun to be around with. She knew how to have fun. Yet, she did not stand out to me like Bella. Nothing about Tanya could hold me to her except for the call of blood. Stop it, Edward, I mentally chastised myself. For now, I had to focus on Tanya, my mate. She was my destiny and not Bella after all.

“I need to go now,” Tanya said. “I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Bye,” I said, kissing her on the lips. It was a polite thing to do.

And with that, she went out of the front door. Once she was outside, Jasper sat next to me.

“What do you think of her?” I asked.

“She’s definitely a nice girl,” he answered. “I’m not sure if she’s the one for you.”

“What do you mean?” I wanted to understand what he was thinking.

“It’s hard to explain. I just had the feeling that you two weren’t meant for each other,” he admitted.

“How could you say that? She and I experienced the call of blood.” I was curious with his opinion.

“It’s simple. Compare to how you look at her and how you look at Bella, I would think that it’s Bella’s blood that sings to you and not Tanya,” he explained. “But I think Tanya is a nice girl.”

“But we both know that I will end up with Tanya. I think she’s a nice girl, too,” I said.

Jasper nodded. “I only agree with the second half of your statement. Let’s play chess again.”

“How long have you two been playing chess?” someone asked from behind me. I looked back to find Alice standing over me with Bella next to her.

“A while,” I answered.

“Alice, I just met Edward’s mate,” Jasper said.

Alice’s eyes turned into almond-shape slits. “And you didn’t tell me? When did this happen?”

“A while ago while you were with Bella,” Jasper said.

“Oh! Tanya’s here? I didn’t even get to say hi,” Bella said.

“You know about her?” Alice asked in shock.

“Of course. She’s Mike’s childhood friend. In fact, I met Edward and Tanya at the same time,” Bella explained.

“Edward, you better introduce me to her,” Alice said. “I don’t care if she gets here at midnight, introduce me the next time she comes.”

“I will, next time,” I agreed.

“I better go home,” Bella said. “It’s pretty late already.”

“Take care, Bella,” Alice said as Jasper nodded in agreement.

“I’ll come with you. I don’t think Mike would appreciate it if I let you walk in the dark by yourself,” I said as I walked next to her.

I stopped Bella when we were outside our gate. “We better teleport,” I told her.

“But we would be using a lot of energy with that,” she objected.

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you. Just hold onto me,” I said.

Bella nodded and did as she was told. I relished the feel of her skin as she wrapped herself around me. It was moments like this that I wanted to prolong my time with Bella. I wished I could find a way to stop time so that we would stay in this position forever.

“Is this okay?” she asked.

For me, it was more than okay. It was heaven. Yet, at the same moment, I dreaded it. I had to give her to Mike soon, and the only reason that this angel was holding on to me was to teleport. I breathed in her scent, taking in everything about her.

I found myself kissing her the second time again today. “I’m sorry,” I apologized.

She shook her head adamantly. “I’m just as guilty. You would not be able to touch me without my permission.”

I held tighter to her and said, “Hold on tight. I don’t want you to go anywhere when we teleport.”

Bella held on tighter. Looking at her brought a protective side out of me. She looked so vulnerable and so helpless, yet I knew she was a strong woman. Anyone who could handle orphans had to be strong. I held her tighter before I transported us to the house she was sharing with Mike. I held on to her for a few seconds, enjoying the last moments of my closeness with her before I had to let her go.

“Thank you, Edward,” she said softly, her cheeks turning a lovely shade of pink. “Thanks for dropping me off.”

I let go of her and said, “You’re welcome. I’ll wait until you’re inside.”

I stepped away from her as she unlocked the door. Then, she waved her hand and got in. I finally realized that although I loved Bella, we were both destined to marry someone else. If I did go after her, would I risk the life of unending misery for both of us? I could not do that to her. She deserved to be happy. Although she was having problems with Mike right now, he had more chance of making her blissful than if she was with me. I went to bed that night with a hole on my chest. The only woman I ever loved was not meant for me.

After my realization, I decided to focus on Tanya. She was a nice girl after all. I may not have felt the same emotions I felt around Bella but we obviously have a connection; we were tied by fate after all. We went to our first ball about three to four months after we met.

The ball was held at the castle in honor of my father for building another hospital for the needy. The party was grandiose and very tastefully done. The flow of the waiters and the decorations were impeccable. Everywhere I looked, there was our family crest and yet it did not seem over-the-top. Oh, mother! You have outdone yourself this time.

“Tanya, what do you think of this?” I asked.

“I love it. I have to admire whoever planned this party,” she said.

“Why, thank you,” my mother said when she heard Tanya’s compliment. “Edward, you have yet to introduce me to the lovely lady next to you.”

Tanya looked stunned when she saw my mother kiss me on the lips.

“I forgot my manners,” I admitted. “Mother, this is Tanya. Tanya, this is my mother, Queen Esme.”

“Tanya’s stunned look relaxed and finally turned into relief. “It is nice to meet you, my queen.”

Tanya did a curtsy. Then, we followed my mother as she led us to their table.

“I hope you enjoy the evening,” my mother said as she sat next to my father. “And the food.”

When the main meal was served, Tanya gently poked my shoulder to grab my attention. “You have a lovely mother,” Tanya said. “She is so beautiful I thought you were cheating on me.”

“What made you think of that?” I asked.

“She’s so beautiful I felt my self-esteem deflate,” Tanya explained.

I smiled and willed myself to focus on her. “You know, people from the streets still ask her out on dates.”

Tanya laughed. “Really?” I nodded. “I think it’s because she looks very young for her age. In addition, you guys don’t show yourselves in public.”

I held my index finger to my lips. “I think my father is going to speak now,” I said as I noticed my father getting up from his seat.

My father stood up and went to the podium. Then, he pointed his finger on his throat. His voice suddenly filled the whole place. “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank all of you for coming this evening,” he said. “As you may know, it was my vision to ease the peoples’ suffering, especially those in pain. I also dreamed of medical coverage for all. Whether you are rich or poor, it does not matter. We are all citizens of the world. Although we increased everyone’s taxes by ten percent, it was worth it. It all goes back to you. We could not afford to lose anyone because he or she could not pay for a doctor. All of our citizens are fighters and survivors and we should help them in anyway we can.”

I listened in awe as my father gave his speech. He sounded so confident and passionate at the same time. Deep in my heart, I knew that he sincerely believed what he was talking about. I had seen him practice what he preached all my life.

“And so, my dear brothers and sisters, let us help create a better world by doing what we can to help those in need. Let us strive to give people access to their basic needs: food, clothing, shelter and health. We should start by giving everyone access to better health care. By giving people a chance for a better cure, we are helping them build a better future,” my father finally ended. Everybody applauded him as he went back to his seat. As soon as he was seated, the orchestra began playing its lovely music.

The two of us continued eating until dessert was served. When we both finished, I asked her if she wanted to dance.

“Sure,” she said and her face lit up as I held out my hand to her. She took it and we went to the dance floor.

I held Tanya’s waist and she put her hand on my shoulder. It was similar to how Bella and I were holding each other when I teleported her home but it felt different. Holding Tanya was okay, but it was like holding my sister. There was nothing that drew me to her except for the call of blood.

As I danced with Tanya, I kept thinking of the mahogany-haired, brown-eyed girl who dominated my thoughts. I tried to concentrate on the woman standing in front of me, who I had to admit, was lovely for Bukangliwayway standards. Yet, I did not find her intoxicating the way I normally felt with Bella.

“What are you thinking?” she asked.

“That you’re beautiful,” I said, forcing myself to feel attraction for her.

“Be serious now,” she said. “I hear that everyday.”

“Seriously, I was just thinking about random things,” I answered as I led Tanya in our dance.

Tanya was a good dance partner. She knew how to keep the tempo and could easily match me beat for beat. I was truly enjoying myself with Tanya until I realized what I was missing.

I saw Bella dancing with her mate. Her hair was pulled back and she was wearing a lovely shade of blue. Her attire, the traditional Bukangliwayway clothing for special occasions, was a top and a skirt both intricately embroidered that they seemed to a one piece dress. She was laughing with him about something. Seeing her like that, I suddenly felt numb. It was hard to see her with someone else. I felt as if my soul left my body, for the world no longer held the same luster it had moments before.

“What’s the matter?” Tanya wondered. “You looked like you were enjoying yourself a few minutes ago.”

I gave her the best smile I could muster. “Nothing,” I lied.

“A small girl is coming behind you,” she said.

I turned around and found Alice who was looking at me with disapproval.

“Hi, I’m Alice,” she said to Tanya, holding out her hand. “I’m Edward’s sister.”

“It is nice to meet you. I’m Tanya,” Tanya said. “Would you like to dance with Edward?”

“Yes, please. You wouldn’t mind, would you?”

My dancing partner shook her head. “Not at all. Enjoy the dance with your brother.” Tanya gave me a kiss before she left.

“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” Alice asked.

I suddenly looked around when I noticed that she must be talking about Tanya.

“Yes,” I said. “Tanya is beautiful.”

“She is,” she agreed. “But it seems to me that she is more interested in you than you are in her.”

I was shocked that Alice figured it out. “It may be true but she’s my destiny,” I answered. “You know everything about the call of blood. Either I marry her or not find happiness.”

Alice shook her head. “Whatever you choose, it is your choice. It will always be your choice.” Alice let me go.

“I want to dance with my husband now,” she said before kissing me on the cheek. “I hope you’ll be happy.”

As soon as the music ended, I saw Mike go back to his seat. I headed over to Bella, who seemed to be looking around for someone. I was planning to ask her to dance when fear overtook me. What if Bella refused to dance with me? Whether or not she would like to dance with me, I would never know until I asked. I would worry about my heart later.

“Would you like to dance?” I asked Bella when I was finally in front of her.

“Sure, I’d love to,” she answered. “I was actually looking for you to do the same thing.”

She put both her hands on my chest and I held on to her waist firmly. We then swayed to the beat, not really performing any of the common dances performed to this music. And yet, I felt excited. The two of us just moving side to side was enough for my heart to beat faster. I was still stunned to find myself dancing with the most beautiful woman in the world.

“You know? I’m glad I haven’t stepped on your shoes,” Bella commented. “Mike is resting because I stepped on his toes ten times.”

It answered my unconscious question as to why he was not dancing with his mate. I found myself smiling before telling her that I would not mind her stepping on my toes.

“Dancing is a required curriculum in the education of royalties,” I said with a knowledgeable tone. “Did you not learn from any dance instructors?”

Bella shook her head. “My father taught me how to hold a weapon. He also taught me how to fight. Basically, I grew up knowing how to fight with different weapons but I never learned how to dance.”

“I see that your father is an interesting man,” I commented. “Why on earth would a noble man teach his daughter how to fight?”

“My father is the famous war veteran, Charlie,” Bella said.

Finally, everything else made sense. “I’ve heard about Sir Charlie,” I said. “I’m so sorry about your mother.”

Bella shook her head. “I don’t remember her at all,” she said. “I was very young when she died.”

I held Bella tighter. “What do you miss the most about having a mother?” I asked.

“Seriously?” I nodded. “All the girl talk. Growing up, I was constantly surrounded with men. I learned how to fight at such a young age but I was at a loss with how to deal with friends and crushes. I could throw daggers accurately but I did not know the first thing about the rules of friendship or the rules with boys.”

I nodded. “It was probably hard to talk to your father about those things growing up. I probably wouldn’t know what to do if I was in the same place as your father.”

I was still dancing with her when the clock finally struck twelve. “I guess it’s time for us to go to our respective partners,” she sighed. “I wish I could stop time so that I could be like this with you forever.”

I hugged her tightly for the last time, drawing in anything I could take from her. This would probably be the last time I could do this. The sooner we let go, the faster we could get over each other.

“Thank you for the dance and the insightful conversation, Bella,” I said. “This maybe the last time—”

Bella shook her head. “I understand completely and I agree. This madness has to stop. I wanted to kiss you for what could be the last time but we’re in public and our mates are both nearby.”

I found Tanya dancing with Mike and waited for them to finish their dance before approaching them. Tanya’s face lit up when she saw me and came to my side. I nodded at Mike and then shook his hand.

“You have a wonderful partner, Mike,” I said. “Take care of her.”

“I know, Edward,” he agreed before kissing Tanya on her cheeks. “Good bye, now.”

“See you soon, Mike,” Tanya said.

Mike left with Bella, and they left hand-in-hand. I took Tanya home. It was so quick that it didn’t even take me fifteen minutes to bring her home and get back, using teleportation.

I went to bed that night dreaming about Bella. It started with the dance and it ended up with the two of us getting married to someone else. I was getting married to Tanya as she was getting hitched to Mike. When I woke up, I realized that it was my subconscious reminding me of the situation.

When I went down to the dining room, I saw Alice eating breakfast.

“How did your night go?” she asked.

“Pretty well, actually,” I said, helping myself to some pancakes. “How was yours?”

“Really well,” she answered. “I always have the best time with Jasper.”

I nodded. I could literally feel the love that they had for each other. It was as if they were the only two people in the room with the way they looked at each other. Anybody who saw them would feel like an intruder.

“I like Tanya by the way,” Alice said. “She seems like a really nice girl.”

“I know,” I agreed. “I’m planning on proposing to her soon.”

Alice’s eyes bulged out. “Are you crazy? I know that she’s a nice girl and that you experience the call of blood with her. However, you haven’t even grown to love her. But you still want to propose right now?”

“Alice, like you said I got the call of blood from Tanya. Whether or not I love her does not matter at all. I would have to marry her sooner or later,” I said.

“That’s not it,” she argued. “You should marry someone because you can’t live without them and not because of destiny. Look at Mom and Dad, Emmett and Rosalie. Even Jasper and I,” she said before sighing.

“We all got married because we loved our partners so much we couldn’t live without them. Edward, don’t propose to her yet,” Alice continued. “I want you to get married and not regret it.”

“Alice, we both know I’m destined to be with Tanya. I’m just resigning myself to fate completely,” I concluded.

I heard Alice muttered something about being stubborn before pouting and continuing to eat. We were both silent for the rest of the meal. When we were finished, I headed to the market to start looking for an engagement ring. I knew Alice meant well, but this was my life and I completely gave it up to fate.

I came back empty-handed. There was nothing that had captured my attention so I would have to try again next week. At that moment, I was supposed to be meeting with Tanya. We were going somewhere but I didn’t know where. Tanya said she wanted to surprise me so I would let her lead the way.

“You’re late,” Tanya began angrily. “Where have you been?”

“Sorry,” I said. “I was just running some errands.”

“You couldn’t even contact me with the compact mirror?” Tanya was shocked as she held hers. “This is the oldest magical invention. When you have to be late, all you have to do was say the name of the person you have to talk to in front of the mirror. Her image would appear and you would get to talk to her.”

“I know,” I said. “I’m really sorry.”

Tanya nodded. “Come on. We’re going to be late,” she said. She grabbed my hand and led me outside.

“Let’s teleport,” she said and held me tight by the shoulders.

We were standing at the magic school. The next time I looked around, we were surrounded by ice. I shivered and used a bit of my energy to produce a really heavy coat to protect my body heat.

“Tanya,” I said as I gritted my teeth. “Where are we?”

“In Tierra de Nieves,” she answered. “I heard that they had a really beautiful aurora borealis this time of the year. Sit next to me.”

I was surprised that Tanya was warm despite wearing the typical Bukangliwayway clothing. She was wearing a red sleeveless, v-neck top that showed her navel and a pink skirt. When I looked closely, I realized that she was surrounded by a shield.

“Aren’t you going to run out of energy?” I asked.

Tanya shook her head. “Look closely.”

Tanya was a genius! She was using the energy from the ice outside to produce a really comfortable spot for the two of us. As I looked closely, I was mesmerized to find the shield absorbing the ice. The ice around us got pulled into our shield. Once they were at the force field, they got broken up into smaller particles until they were fully absorbed at the shield.

“This is nice,” I admitted when I saw the really beautiful sky.

The sky looked like the beginning of an apparition. Its colors were so luminous and so bright that it was nothing compared to the miracle I called a rainbow. This was a hundred times better than a rainbow.

“Out of curiosity, what kind of wedding do you want?” I asked as I stared at the sky.

“I’d like to have an elaborate wedding,” Tanya said for the nth time. “I would like a lot of flowers and a lot of decorations. I want it to be as ornate as possible. Do you think Alice would help us when we get married?”

“She should. I’m her brother,” I said.

“I am so glad to hear that. She’s fantastic,” Tanya said. “She definitely knows how to throw a party.”

“I think it runs in her blood,” I commented.

“I know. Your mother is pretty good herself.” I smiled as the easy companionship enveloped us.

Tanya may not be Bella but she was an okay companion. The moment I thought Bella’s name, I couldn’t stop thinking of my goddess. My mind went back to the night of the ball. I still remembered the tingling feeling down my spine when I held her close during our dance.

“I hope your family likes me.” Tanya snapped me out of my reverie.

“Tanya, my family already loves you,” I said.

She smiled. “What about you? Do you love me?”

I was caught off guard by her question. Weighing my options, I decided to answer her as honestly as I could.

“Tanya, it doesn’t really matter whether I love you or not. We’re destined to be together,” I answered. “I would not mind marrying you. I care about you and I do love you.”

But I’m not in love with you, I silently told myself.

Tanya hugged me. “Thank you for being honest with me.”

When I got back from Tierra de Nieves, I saw that there were many shopping bags littering the floor. Looking at a happy Alice and an exhausted Bella who were both sitting on the couch, I was pretty sure that they had gone shopping.

“Where did you go?” I asked.

“The outskirts of the flee market. The merchants would not leave Alice alone,” Bella said.

I chuckled. “That’s why the men in this family stay away whenever Alice says that she wants to go shopping. Only Jasper is brave enough to come with her. Bella, why don’t you stay here for a while?”

Bella nodded. “I’ll tell Mike,” she said, reaching for her compact.

“Much better,” I said. “I’ll conjure up some snacks.”

“Thanks, Edward,” Alice said. “You really are the best.”

I shook my head. “I love doing it.”

I went to the table and produced one of their favorite delicacies: siopao. It was made up of bread filled with meat inside. It was a native snack found in Bukangliwayway.

“Wow! Siopao,” Alice said. She picked up one of them and continued, “You know, whoever you marry will be lucky. You’re such a caring person. Don’t you think Tanya is a lucky woman, Bella?”

I suddenly saw Bella turned pale. She took a deep breath and said, “I think so too,” she said but her voice was breaking. “Please excuse me. I need to use the restroom.”

“It’s down the hall in case you’ve forgotten,” Alice said.

“Alice, what do you think?” I asked and then told her about my proposal plan.

“I think it’s nice. I can’t really make you postpone your marriage plan, can I?” she answered.

“No,” I shook my head. “It’s better to get this over with.”

Alice nodded but did not say anything further. “I wonder if Bella found the restroom,” she said. “Would you mind checking up on her?”

“Why don’t you do it? You’re her friend,” I commented. Being alone with Bella is tempting but I really needed to distance myself with her.

“I hate giving Bella the same speech I’m giving you,” she explained.

“Why would you do that?” I was curious.

“Because Bella seems to be having doubts of whether or not she should marry Mike,” Alice answered.

“Alice, she’s getting married. Of course it’s normal to feel doubtful,” I argued.

“Not if she’s thinking whether or not she wants to be married to someone who’s never there. That is a serious thought,” she said. “Now, if she doubts whether or not she wants to be with him because she thinks she’s making a mistake, I would understand that. I went through the same thing.

“She always asked me whether or not she should marry someone who doesn’t have a time for her at all. She says that he’s always tired when he gets home that he doesn’t want anything to do with her. I think only couples heading towards divorce would do that. Not spending time with your partner would ruin your marriage,” she explained.

“We all know the legend. She felt the call of blood with Mike so I’m sure they’ll work it out,” I said.

Alice and I stared down at each other. She was giving me the look she usually had given Jasper whenever he did something she did not like.

“What did I miss?” Bella asked, interrupting our stare down.

“Nothing important,” I said as I looked at Alice. Bella did not need to know that I was telling my sister to not meddle with her life.

The three of us ate siopao in peace. We had a pleasant conversation, talking only about our hobbies and our passions. I learned that Bella loved to heal paint. When I asked her if I could see her paintings, she agreed and said that she would show them to us.

Looking at the camaraderie between the three of us, I wondered if Tanya, Alice, and I would ever have the same level of comfort. After all, it was just a matter of time before I marry Tanya; I planned on proposing to her once I had the ring.

I spent the next few days thinking of how I should propose to Tanya? In fact, I considered her my friend and I would do anything I could to respect her. That much I knew. I might not be in love with her now but we were good together. She was pretty, smart, and kind. She was also honest. Now that I thought about it, a girl like Tanya was my vision of the ideal wife.

I went to the market again, to the section where they were selling expensive jewelry. When I looked at the precious gems, this time, something caught my attention. The ring had sapphire which reminded me of Tanya’s eyes. I knew instantly that this would be perfect for her.

“How much is this?” I asked the merchant.

“Thirty-three golds,” he answered.

I gathered my small money pouch and counted my money until I was able to produce thirty-three golds for him.

“Thank you,” he said when I had given him the money.

I nodded and waved goodbye. When I got home, I saw Tanya in the family room with Bella and my sister. “What’s the matter?” Tanya asked. “Are you okay?”

I shook my head. I looked deeply in her eyes as I kneeled on one knee before her. Before I could let out the words, I saw tears fell down her face. That was when I promised myself that I would do everything I could to make her happy.

“Tanya, will you marry me?” I asked.

Tanya was still in shock. She did not answer my question with words. Instead, she gave me a nod. I got up and placed the ring on her finger.

“Congratulations,” Bella said but I saw that she was crying.

Bella moved toward me. When she was within my arm’s length, she reached out to me and gave me a hug. I found myself being enveloped by the most intoxicating presence in the world. “I hope you’ll be happy,” she said, as her tears continued to flow.

“The same goes for you,” I answered back.

Bella and I hugged each other for a few moments, telling each other to be happy and giving each other reassurance.

“You know, we’re a complicated pair,” Bella commented.

“I know. But we both have to do what we have to do to be happy,” I whispered. “You’re destined to be with someone else.”

“So are you,” she whispered back

Still locked in an embrace with Bella, I finally looked at Tanya who thankfully was so distracted she did not suspected anything. She was jumping up and down showing her ring to Alice. Alice looked and smiled at her before doing the same with me. When I locked eyes with her, I saw that her smile did not quite reach her eyes.

When Tanya and Bella left the house, I had an argument with Alice. She was still trying to convince me to not marry Tanya.

“Edward, don’t marry someone just because she’s a good companion,” she said. “What if you come across someone whom you could marry for love?”

“I won’t,” I told her adamantly.

“What makes you so sure with that?” she asked.

“Because Bella’s getting married in a few months!” I shouted.

At that moment, the tears that I had been holding back for so long suddenly overflowed and cascaded down my cheeks. I was trembling as the wave of pain from my chest radiated throughout my whole body. I sunk to the floor, crying deep sobs. I did not realize that Alice was embracing me comfortingly.

“How long have you known about your feelings?” she asked while letting me cry into her shoulders.

“Since I met her,” I said as I continued to sob. “I love her, Alice. She’s the only one that will ever have a hold on me.”

“Why are you still marrying Tanya if you love Bella?” she continued her interrogation.

“Don’t you see? Tanya is my destiny. Her blood is the one that called to me. Not Bella,” I said.

Alice just shook her head. “Don’t give up on Bella, Edward. You’ll find the answers.”

“But I’ve made up my mind,” I said to her.

“I wish you would quit saying that,” she commented.

I did not know how long I cried but it was Alice who brought me to my room. She used her magic to teleport me to my bed; then she covered me with blanket and brought me some water. I did not eat dinner that night because I was too busy crying. My love for Bella was so strong and so powerful that it consumed my mind, body, and soul. She was all I could think about and yet I promised to marry someone else. I went to sleep that night thinking about Bella. My dream that night was about the two of us being together, both free from Mike and Tanya. When I woke up, I realized that it was just a dream. She was not mine at all.

In the days that followed, both Bella and Tanya visited my house. Alice was also planning our wedding. She thanked me for her latest challenge. Never before had I seen a wedding planner plan two different weddings on the same day at different venues. That was why I was not surprised when I saw Tanya, Alice and Bella together when I arrived home from work one day.

“Anyway, the cake was chocolate,” I heard Tanya say when I saw them talking at the living room. “It also had layers of chocolate frosting inside. What do you think, Edward?”

I nodded. “Whatever you choose is fine,” I said. “You’re better at this than I am.”

Alice came up to me and showed me a piece of fabric. “Edward, what do you think of this?” she asked as she held it closer to me. “Do you think that it would match your motif?”

“I don’t know,” I answered. “Like I said, let Tanya decide.”

Alice pouted. “This is way easier with Tanya,” she shouted in despair.

“That’s why girls plan the wedding and boys do their best to stay out of the way,” I said. “Just give Tanya the best wedding possible.”

Alice just sighed and continued with the wedding planning. Tanya left early saying that she had to prepare for magic school. Alice gathered the items she’d been working on and took them back to her room, leaving me alone with Bella.

Being alone with Bella was exciting yet nerve-wrecking for me. It was exciting because I craved being around her. However, I needed to remind myself often that I had a fiancée named Tanya who happened to be a nice girl. She was the first one to break the ice.

“How’s your wedding planning?” she asked.

“Good. I left it to Tanya and Alice,” I answered, stating the obvious. “How’s yours?”

“Miserable,” she said. “Mike and I have very different opinions on everything.”

“Tell me about it,” I encouraged.

“You see, Mike would actually like to have very ornate decorations. I want simple ones. He and I were arguing the other day about our preferences. In the end, I just let him have his way,” she said.

“Every relationship needs to compromise. I see that you have already done that,” I commented and smiled. When I looked at Bella, she seemed to be disturbed about something. “What’s worrying you?”

“That I’m marrying Mike too soon,” she answered.

I hugged Bella. “Don’t worry about it. He called your blood. Whatever happens, you two would work it out,” I said.

She nodded. I pointed in the direction of the music player to turn it on. A few moments later, soft music was suddenly heard from the balcony. “Ikaw? You listen to the classics?” Bella asked.

“Yes. Would you like to dance?” I asked, not knowing what came into my head.

Bella blushed. “I’d love to.”

I took her hands in mine again. We swayed to the music, enjoying the lyrics.

Ikaw ang bigay ng maykapal

I looked into her eyes and absorbed the meaning of the line. You are a gift from God, I translated in my head.

Tugon sa aking dasal

I was thinking about how fitting the lyrics were. The answer to my prayers.

Upang sa lahat ng panahon, Bawat pagkakataon

Bella laughed as we swayed to the music. “So that for all eternity,” she sang its meaning aloud.

Ang ibigin ko’y ikaw

“I will love you,” I continued.

“I will love you,” I repeated.

We stared into each other’s eyes. I found myself kissing her, yielding to her inviting lips. I was suddenly enveloped with warmth, something that I only felt when I was with her. That was when I also realized my mistake. When I looked up, I saw that Bella had tears in her eyes as she backed away from me. “I’m sorry,” she said before running out of the house.

“Wait!” I shouted. “Bella!”

I followed Bella outside the house and chased her until we reached Cormont, the highest point of Bukangliwayway and our most sacred ground. This was the place where the God and the woman promised to love each other. Nobody would come here unless they were going to pray to God and ask them about something. Anybody could see the entire Bukangliwayway by standing looking below.

Bella slowed down when she reached the cliff. I slowly approached her, afraid that I might startle her. One false move on her part and she might slip and fall down.

“Bella,” I began.

Bella looked at me who nodded signaling that I could approach her. I walked slowly toward her before grabbing her waist and hugging her. “Be careful,” I said.

I slowly moved the two of us backward. Then, I let go of Bella. “Why did you run off like that?” I asked.

“I got so emotional with the song especially when you said the last part,” she explained while she sobbed. “I… love…you.”

“What did you just say?” I wanted to make sure that I was hearing her clearly.

“I love you,” she repeated.

That was when I found myself hugging Bella as my own tears mirrored her own. I was breathing her in. If I could just stop this moment so that the two of us could stay like this forever, I would gladly do so. God, I really love this woman. Please, let us be together, I prayed silently.

“And I love you,” I said to her. That was when my tears fell down like a waterfall. “But—”

“I know,” she said. “This would be the last time that I would see you. It’s getting too painful to be around you knowing that both of us would marry someone else in a few months.”

“I understand perfectly. I can’t keep on seeing you like this. We need to stop,” I agreed with her.

“But before we do that, could I kiss you one last time?” she asked.

I nodded and kissed her on the lips. This would be our final kiss. Desperation about our impending separation came to me as I explored her mouth using my own. My hands where on her waist and I pulled her closer to me as tightly as I could. She held on to my back and pulled me closer to her. I kissed her with utter abandon since I knew I would not see her again. We finally broke our kiss not because we wanted to but because we needed to breathe. I kissed her on her neck, wanting to not stop kissing her at all. Finally, I gave her a peck on her lips before pulling away from her. “I would always love you, Bella,” I said.

“I know. And I would love you forever. Just say the word and I would abandon everything for you: my life, my possessions, and everything else,” she said.

“But you won’t be happy with me,” I argued. “You’d be happy with your destiny just like I would be happy with mine.”

“So, this is goodbye then,” Bella said before giving me another peck on the lips.

This time, I held her into an embrace. “Goodbye,” I finally said.

When I let her go, I saw her close her eyes and slowly fade in front of me until she finally disappeared. I put my hands on the last place she was standing at imagining that it still had her presence even though she already left.

I was frozen in place as I shed more tears at the realization that it would be the last time I would see her. We needed to avoid each other at all costs if we were to stop cheating on our mates. “I love you, Bella,” I finally said. I lingered at the place for a few minutes before I finally went home. Although there was a heavy sorrow on my chest, I promised myself not to cry anymore. It was my choice to marry Tanya after all.

“What’s the matter, Edward?” Alice asked when she came back at the living room. “Are you crying?”

“I don’t want to talk about it, Alice. Please leave me alone,” I politely told her.

I went straight to my room and into my bed. Once I was settled, I immediately broke my promise to myself. I cried at my choice for I select edTanya over Bella. Edward, did the right thing. You cannot escape fate, I told myself. Deep down, I did not know whether or not what I was saying to myself was true.

When the day of my wedding arrived, I was a nervous wreck. Beads of sweat appeared on my forehead and neck. I did not know what the future would bring but I would do anything—even if I had to dig trenches for the rest of my life—to avoid walking down the aisle at that moment. I felt like a prisoner of fate.

“Son,” my father, Carlisle, said as he entered the room. “Do you have a moment to talk?”

“Yes, Father,” I said, dutifully. “I always have time for you.”

“Are you ready to get married?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Would you like to listen to the advice that I’d like to give you?”

I nodded. “Don’t think about the call of blood. Just follow your heart,” he said.

I stared at him in shock. “What do you mean?” I asked.

He smiled. “I guess I have some explaining to do,” he concluded and I nodded in agreement.

“Years ago, I was like you. I met the woman who I had the call of blood with but there was something missing. I decided to break up with her before we could get married. Then, I met your mother. Although I did not felt the call with her, I realized that I would have to follow my heart. It turned out to be a very good decision for me. Your mother was the best thing that had happened to me. Had I followed the call of blood, we would be having a very different conversation right now.

“Son, I want you to listen to me. If there is anything I should tell you, this is the most important. Follow your heart. Don’t let fate decide who you should be with,” he said. Then, he pointed his index finger to my heart. “This should be your voice of reason and not your fate. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Father,” I answered. “Why are you telling me this now?”

“I always give my children this talk before they get married. Of course, I make sure that it’s just me and my child who is about to walk down the aisle. I feel like it’s a private moment between me and whoever is getting married,” he explained and then he hugged me. “Just remember that we’re all here whenever you need us.”

“I appreciate it.”

With a heavy heart, I headed the procession that led to the front of the altar and waited for my bride. When I saw her, I felt my body grow heavier. I felt like my heart was breaking apart. Seeing the smile on her face, I realized that I would never be able to return it. It was when she finally stepped next to me that I realized my mistake, but by then, the ceremony had already begun.

I couldn’t focus on the ceremony going on around me. My thoughts were on the pain inside my chest. The only thing that caught my attention was when the minister tapped my shoulder.

“Edward,” he called.

“What is it, minister?”

“Do you accept Tanya as your wife? To love and to hold as long as you both shall live?”

I looked at her and thought about the minister’s words carefully. Would I want to spend the rest of my life with this woman? No, she was not the one I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” I finally said and left the altar as I heard the people gasp.

I did not know what was happening around me. My only focus was to stop the other wedding that had probably begun already.

I went straight to Alice. “Finally! We knocked some sense into you,” she said.

“Act now, talk later!” I said. “We have a wedding to crash.”

“Gladly.” she smiled. “Just let me grab some reinforcements.”

She grabbed Jasper and Emmett with her. “We’re going to crash Bella’s wedding.”

Both my brothers had a twinkle in their eyes. “Finally,” Jasper said.

“Let’s get out of here,” Alice shouted.

All of us ran to the nearest exit.

“Bella’s having her wedding at a church a couple of blocks away from here,” Alice said. “Normally, I’d suggest we teleport but they designed the church so that no one could teleport inside.”

“Can we fly?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered. “Here.”

Holding her hand with her palms up, she produced four brooms, one for her, one for Jasper, one for Emmett, and one for me. We each placed our brooms in between our legs and kicked back with our right foot on the ground. We instantly rocketed about ten feet into the air. We followed Alice as she led the way.

“Well, we’re here,” she said. “Just go straight to where I would point you.”

Alice pointed to the church across the fountain. I flew with all my might, until I was directly at the church’s door. I barged inside and ran. I saw people turn their heads at me but I did not care at all. I had to do something very important.

“Stop the wedding!” I yelled.

“Stop the wedding!”

When Bella turned around, I saw the tears in her eyes. Without thinking, I ran to her side and wiped away her tears. “Edward, what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be getting married?”

“I was, but I realized that I was marrying the wrong person,” I said. “I know that I can’t promise you anything. I can’t promise that you’ll be happy with me since Mike is your destiny. I can’t promise that I would be your ideal husband but I realize that I don’t care about who I’m destined to marry. I just want to be with you.”

I stepped closer to her and said, “I love you, Bella, with all my heart.” I held her hand and put it in the middle of my chest. “It’s all yours.”

“Oh! Edward,” Bella exclaimed with fresh tears in her eyes. “I love you, too.”

Bella hugged me for a while and then she turned to Mike. “I’m sorry, Mike, I can’t do this.”

“What about me? Edward, you fucking jerk!” he screamed. He tried to punch me in the face but I managed to duck.

“I know, Mike. And for that, I’m truly sorry,” I admitted. “I tried my best to fight it but I can’t. I am in love with Bella.”

“And I love Bella, too,” he commented.

“Again, I’m sorry,” she said to Mike as she handed him the bouquet.

Bella moved closer to me and kissed me on the lips and I kissed her back with all my might. I felt blissful since I finally followed my heart. Although I did not know anything about the future, I was sure of one thing. I wanted Bella in it.

A lot of things began to happen. First, I felt warmth emanating from both of us. It was a welcoming warmth similar to what I felt when I was taking a bath from the hot springs. Then, it felt like I was in the air floating on cloud nine. I found myself being consumed by the fire that was Bella. I yielded to her lips; giving her my heart, my mind and my soul. I gave her that kiss as a promise that I would always be with her until the day I died. We only stopped when we realized that we needed air. What surprised me was that we were really floating on air. I saw the wide-eyed stare of everyone around us.

“I guess you two are mated,” said the minister.

I guess we are, I thought. I could see Bella was surprised.

“What’s the matter, Bella?” I asked.

Naririnig mo ko?” she asked in the ancient language even though her lips were not moving.

I nodded. I held her hand in my chest again and looked at her in the eyes. Sa ‘yo lamang ‘to, I wanted to say in the ancient language.

She gasped. “Edward,” she began.

“What?” I asked.

“I heard you inside my head but you didn’t say anything,” she said.

I nodded. “Minister, could you explain to us what is going on?” I asked.

“It’s simple, really. Your love for each other is so powerful that it broke the call of blood for the two of you. It is so strong that no human being can break it.

“It was your choice to get mated. And with those who choose their mates, their love is more powerful than the ones assigned by destiny. You two belong together,” he explained. “There won’t be any need to marry you. Your union is already blessed by the Higher Up.”

The minister looked at Mike and continued, “I’m sorry, Mike.”

I led Bella outside holding her hand the entire time. Looking at us, I realized that we looked like we just had our wedding with her as my bride. We were both wearing our wedding attire. She the traditional Bukangliwayway formal wear similar to the one she wore at the ball but in red. She matched it with a red veil, which was adorned with jewelries and gems. I was wearing a blue tunic full of complicated embroidery with blue pants underneath, a typical wedding garb for men.

“We look like newly weds,” I commented.

Bella was giggling. “But we did not even get married,” she said.

“I want to spend the rest of my life with you but we just got out of what would have been our wedding,” I commented. “I would suggest we take it slow.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” she said with a smile on her face.

“But, still, it would not hurt to ask. Bella,” I began. “I give you my entire being. I may not have a ring right now and I would get you one as soon as possible. Will you marry me?”

Bella began to cry before she nodded. “Yes, Edward,” she answered. “Remember when we danced to Ikaw? I was ready to run away with you then. Of course, I would marry you. Nothing is going to stop us now.”

I held her tightly to me and gave her a chaste kiss on her hips. We headed to Cormont where we both prayed.

God, thank you for allowing me to be with Bella. Please help me take care of her the same way you took care of the first woman, the mother to us all. Also, please give me strength to be able to forgive her if she ever does anything that would hurt me in the future, just like what you did with our mother, the first woman, I silently said to God.

“Ready?” Bella asked and I nodded as we left holding hands.

Bella and I were like two pieces of a puzzle; we belonged together. I was glad that I finally found my happiness but it only happened when I followed the dictates of my heart. I now knew that people who did not follow the call were not stupid at all. We just did not wait for chance to present itself because we were the ones taking control of our own destiny.