Please review or rate! The Cullens, Jacob, and Seth move to New Hampshire, where a new vampire comes into their life; but not before a devastating car accident alters Bella's family forever. EXCERPT: Edward sat back down on the bed next to me, and held the neatly-wrapped package out to his daughter. “This is from your mother and me; happy birthday,” he said gently. While her eyes were transfixed on the package, I shot him a silent thought. What is this? He just smiled and left me hanging. Renesmee slowly turned and walked towards the package, thrilled at the prospect of an unexpected treasure. She took the box and carefully untied the ribbon. When she lifted the top of the box, she revealed a stunning gem in the shape of a heart. It was identical to the one Edward gave me after graduation, but instead of a flawless and colorless diamond charm meant for a bracelet, it was a blood red ruby attached to a delicate, silver chain and meant to be worn around her neck.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. Bella's POV
12. Jean Renault
Rating 4.3/5 Word Count 2254 Review this Chapter
For me at least, the rest of the day passed quickly, and before I knew it we were back home, free to be ourselves again. After Carlisle came home from work, Edward and I told the rest of the family about Jean Renault. They were just as surprised as we were. Vampires who lived in peace among humans and chose to hunt only animals were extremely rare. In fact, outside of ourselves and our cousins in Denali, we knew of none others until today.
Carlisle didn’t know him. “His name isn’t familiar at all. Did he tell you any of his history?”
Edward recounted what we had learned in the cafeteria. “He said he came here two years ago, and before that he was in northern Europe. And he speaks with a French accent. We didn’t get to talk for very long. And there is a boy, a student who appears to know about Jean Renault. I don’t know what the story is there, yet.”
Jasper’s curiosity peaked. “Did he suspect you and Bella?”
Edward shook his head. “No, but he’s intensely wary of us.”
I piped up. “Jean Renault did blow our cover story in under 30 seconds.”
Esme looked concerned. “What do you mean?”
I looked at Esme. “Apparently we’re famous now. Like world famous. As soon as we introduced ourselves as Edward and Bella Masen, he asked if we were actually Edward and Bella Cullen, of the famous Cullen coven.”
Carlisle thought about this. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Standing up to the Volturi and surviving has never been done before, and we did it with witnesses from all over the world.” His thoughts turned back to Jean Renault. “Edward, what this teacher’s intentions? Can we trust him?”
“I think so. His thoughts were friendly, curious; I didn’t hear anything to make me think he can’t be trusted. But, we only spoke for a minute or two.”
Always the strategist, Jasper said, “He’s got his own cover to keep. In his eyes, he’s the one with the settled life and you are the unknown quantity; you’re a much bigger threat to his cover than he is to yours.”
“He seemed more excited to meet us than anything else,” I said.
“So, there aren’t any others?” asked Jacob, exchanging a look with Seth. He was clearly anxious about the idea of more vampires in his midst. Jacob may have come to see the Cullens as his family, but the wolf in him still regarded unfamiliar vampires as a threat.
“No,” I said quickly, “he said it was just him. And he’s not a threat to humans. He’s hunts animals, like us.”
“Is he going to be coming around here?” he asked possessively.
We all looked to Carlisle. Carlisle looked at Edward and me. “If you can, I think you should try to get to know him. If nothing else, we’re going to be sharing a hunting territory with him. I think it’s in everybody’s best interest to be on good terms.”
Edward and I nodded.
“Bella, how was it for you today?” Esme asked.
“Piece of cake,” I said, trying not to let my disappointment show. It looked like whether I needed practice among humans or not, Edward and I had a new reason to go to high school.
For me, the next couple of weeks breezed by quickly. The overcast weather held, and we attended school every day. Because human memories faded considerably after becoming a vampire, I decided to start recording my memories of my human life during my classes. I didn’t want to lose them, and I wanted to be able to pass them on to Renesmee. She was part human, and I wanted her to know my history, and that of my human family.
I quickly gained very clear understanding of why Edward and his brothers and sisters kept to themselves at school in Forks. There was literally no point in socializing. Beyond the fact that we couldn’t risk exposing what we were, forming relationships with people who could never really know us for who or what I was felt like a completely pointless endeavor. Not to mention the fact that I had faced death more times than I could count, married the love of my existence, and become a mother; the concerns of the average teenager had truly ceased to have any bearing on me whatsoever.
Edward and I were perceived as aloof, even snobbish. But as long as their talk and their thoughts remained solidly in the realm of typical human teenage curiosity, frustration or jealousy, it was impossible to care.
Edward continued to monitor the thoughts of the boy who watched our introduction to Jean Renault. The boy never approached us, but his wary interest in us didn’t wane. In any other situation when a human displayed a potential understanding of what we were, we would have simply stopped going to school. But this boy was protective of what he knew about Jean Renault, not threatening.
After the first few days, it was clear that I didn’t truly need any more practice; public life was not going to be a problem for me. If we hadn’t been asked to try and form a relationship with Jean Renault, and we weren’t so curious about his relationship to the boy, we would have insisted that we were done.
Unfortunately for us, other than the occasional brief hello in the cafeteria, the vampire masquerading as a teacher didn’t give us an opportunity to talk to him for almost two weeks. When he did, Edward and I were walking out of the cafeteria, and he was walking in. He placed a piece of paper in Edward’s shirt pocket and kept walking. He did it so quickly that no human eye could have seen his hand reach out. We just looked at each other and kept walking, waiting until we were out of sight of the cafeteria to read it.
The note invited us to come to his house after school, and listed his address.
“Finally,” I said. Edward smiled. He was more ready to stop this particular charade than I was.
“My thought exactly.”
I gave him a smirk. “Not to sound to vain, or anything, but you do realize that you might just face the same problem at Dartmouth that your facing here?”
“Yes, but at Dartmouth, you will be my wife. Here, these poor schmucks actually think they have a chance with you. There, I can hold your hand, or push your hair behind your ear, or…” He looked around and leaned closer, “kiss you.”
I pulled back slightly. “Edward, our mission is to blend in with the humans. I don’t think we’ll accomplish that by throwing down right here in the hall.”
His lips curved up in a barely there smile. He literally smoldered. I was dangerously close to tearing his clothes off.
Leaving my mental shield up so he could see, I closed my eyes and pictured Emmett.
You’re my brother, you’re my brother, you’re my stinking, obnoxious brother.
Without meeting his eyes again, I turned and headed for class, chanting this mantra the entire way. I could hear Edward laughing at me until I turned the corner.
Jean Renault’s house was a large, rustic cabin-style home about halfway between the high school and our new home. It was located on a rural road, and the closest neighbors looked to be about a quarter mile down the road.
He heard us coming long before we pulled into his driveway, and was walking out into the yard when we pulled up and got out of the car.
“My friends, welcome; I’m glad you decided to come.”
“Of course, we’re glad you asked,” I said sincerely.
He gestured towards his house. “Would you like to come join me on the porch?”
Edward and I followed him. He took a seat on a small hammock-style chair and I sat on the porch swing that was opposite him. Edward leaned casually on the railing, but I could tell he was distracted. He cocked his head like he was listening.
“So tell me, how do you like your new school?” he asked.
Edward continued to focus his attention elsewhere. I answered. “It’s just temporary. We’re only attending classes at Anson for a couple of months until we start night classes at Dartmouth in January.”
“Then why do you even bother?”
“It’s my first time in new surroundings since I was a newborn; a little practice seemed like a good idea.
Jean Renault raised his eyebrows and looked at me.
Edward pulled his attention to our conversation. “Bella has never needed much practice with anything in this existence. Honestly, if we weren’t waiting for you to reach out again, we probably would have already stopped coming.”
“So, you’re doing well?” asked Jean Renault.
I nodded. “Being around people has never really been a problem for me.”
Jean Renault looked skeptical. “Never?” he asked.
Edward smiled proudly, “On her very first hunt she scented humans. She held her breath and ran the other way.”
The teacher was dumbstruck. “I’ve never heard of such a thing. Not in all of my existence, and I’ve been like this for two hundred years.”
“No one has,” declared Edward. “But unlike most of us, Bella chose this existence. Because of our family, she knew that hunting animals was an option; she was able to mentally prepare for it.”
“Interesting. I wonder if can be like that for others who choose it. One can only hope.” He shook his head. “That kind of control is unheard of. I’m impressed,” he said, looking at me with admiration. “You’ve never been tempted?”
I shook my head. “No. There are a lot of reasons why; important reasons,” I said, looking at Edward. He smiled at me, and I wondered if he understood. “But, perhaps the one that’s easiest to understand is our daughter, Renesmee. She’s half human. She just…” I shrugged. “Let’s just say the sound of a human heartbeat has a different meaning for me than it does for most of our kind.”
Jean Renault nodded in acknowledgment. “A mother’s protective instinct.”
“But really,” I said, “Is the fact that I never hunted humans any more honorable than your decision to stop hunting them?”
He smiled softly, looking down at his hands. “You’re kind. I heard that about your family.”
Edward cocked his head again. He looked at Jean Renault. “Jean, there’s a boy at school; young, French?”
Jean Renault nodded his head and exhaled.
“He knows about you, doesn’t he?”
Jean Renault shook his head. “I’m truly surprised he said anything to you. As far as I know, Charles has never spoken to another student.”
Edward looked at me, and then back at Jean Renault. “He didn’t speak to us.”
“Then why do you think - ”
Edward interrupted. “Recite a line from your favorite book or poem, but in your head. Don’t say it out loud.”
Jean Renault looked at Edward. Whether he understood the reason for Edward’s request or not, he complied with Edward’s request, because Edward leaned forward, elbows on his knees, and spoke in flawless French. “Le Poète est semblable au prince des nuées; Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l'archer; Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées, Ses ailes de géant l'empêchent de marcher.”
Jean Renault’s eyes looked at Edward in disbelief. Then he shook his head and laughed to himself. “Thanks for letting me know.” He turned to me. “It was the last verse of Baudelaire’s The Albatross. The English translation is: The poet is like the prince of the clouds; Who haunts the storm and laughs at lightning. He's exiled to the ground and its hooting crowds; His giant wings prevent him from walking.”
I smiled sympathetically, knowing instantly why a vampire trying to coexist in a human world might relate to these words. “Thank you. It’s beautiful in both languages.”
Edward spoke softly. “You can tell him to come out. We are no threat to him.”
I looked at Edward, shocked. The boy was here?
Jean Renault sighed heavily. “Charles. Come out to the porch.”
The front door opened slowly, and Charles stood behind the screen door, eyeing us warily.
“It’s okay, Charles. They are friends.”
Charles opened the screen and walked over to stand by Jean Renault. He stared at us.
“Charles, this is Edward and Bella.”
We smiled at Charles. “Bonjour, Charles,” Edward said. “Nous sommes contents pour vous rencontrer.” Hello, Charles. We’re glad to meet you.
Charles looked surprised to hear Edward speak to him in his native language. Charles looked shyly at Jean Renault. “Ils ont des yeux comme vous,”
“Yes, their eyes are like mine,” Jean Renault agreed. He looked back to us. “Charles’s parents lived not far from me in Northern France. Two years ago, they were killed by our kind, nomads.” He looked at Charles fondly, but with sadness in his face. “Normally I would not have interfered with a nomad’s right to feed, but I knew this family. They had always been kind to me. It was too late to save his parents, but I couldn’t leave Charles to them. I took him with me and we moved here.”
“Peux-je retourner dans maintenant?”
Jean Renault patted Charles on the back. “Yes, you can go back inside.”
Charles looked shyly at Edward and me. “C'était agréable pour vous rencontrer,” he said, and proceeded into the house.
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