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Sunset

Summary:
Twelve years ago Edward left Bella thinking she would be safe and happy away from the dangers of his world. She wasn't. How can he make it up to her? Each chapter written from a different POV with some overlap as the same incident is seen from a different perspective. Some new characters of my own imagination.


Notes:
You know, all the recognisable characters are not mine. They belong to Stephanie Meyer and I hope I've used them in the spirit in which she created them.


10. Bella - Scars That Do Not Matter

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I was very confident that his body was completely physically satisfied. His physical reactions were very human like – surprisingly so. I lay on top of him and kissed him on his lips. “Look at me” I said when I broke the kiss. He was clearly nervous about my request, but he complied and looked into my right eye. “I trusted you not to reject my flawed and badly scared body. I trusted you not to hurt me when your body was at one of its most vulnerable times control wise. I do not trust you not to leave me again when you deem it right.” He lay there physically naked and although I was fully clothed, I felt completely naked emotionally. His hands were shaking as he framed my face. He reached up to kiss my forehead. “And I cannot prove to you that I cannot leave you again. All I can do is ask you to give me one more day to not leave you, then another, and another” he replied. “I know” and I rested my head on his chest and his arms wrapped around me. It didn’t seem to be any time at all when I realised I had a problem. I was rigid from the neck down. I was terrified. “Bella, what? What’s happened? What can I do?” His evident panic cleared my head. “Same massage programme as this morning, half an hour. We’ll see after that.” I was gently lifted away from his magnificent body and my clothes were ripped from me. “It still works through my clothes” I half heartedly protested. “Not as well. I’ll replace these too” he said referring, I assumed, to the clothes he ripped at the weekend. I was laid on the bed and the massager began its magic. He decided to start work on my arms, rubbing and stretching the muscles in each arm until I got some movement back. Then he turned to my hands. Within ten minutes I was groaning in relief. “You know there is no way my neighbour has been sleeping through the both of us groaning like this at this time of evening, don’t you?” I wasn’t sure if I was feeling annoyed, sorry or smug. “Luckily, she was on her way out when she saw a neighbour and stopped to chat when I arrived” he replied. I decided it was probably just as well. As soon as the massage programme ended, he raised a questioning brow: “Steam?” I nodded the answer and was lifted and carried to the steam cubicle for ten minutes. As I went to step into the shower after my ten minutes, I was surprised to see him stepping out. “Sorry, I needed to quickly wash off. I was all sticky. Don’t worry, I only used cold water.” I laughed. “Sorry, I forgot about that. To be honest, it wasn’t what I expected. I don’t know what physical response wouldn’t have been a surprise though because I don’t know what I did expect.” I stepped into the shower cubicle to quickly rinse off all the sweat and steam only to find his soapy hands doing the job for me. “I didn’t know what to expect either” he surprised me with. “My body has never been subject to that sort of experience before. I don’t remember anything about it before my transformation, but I never felt the urge to test my body’s response since. Apart from when I was with you, that is, but it was only while I was actually with you, not when I was alone; not even when I was alone and thinking of you; possibly because I had a deliberate policy not to think of you like that when I didn’t think we could do anything about it.” When I was rinsed, I turned up the heat and the power, then rested my head in my arms as I leant against the wall and let the water pulses perform their magic on my back. “You really should have trusted my judgement a whole lot more than you did” and I sighed in bliss as I felt the pain draining away. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I heard a grunt of acknowledgment over the noise of the shower. When we were both dry, instead of being allowed to get into some clothes, I was wrapped in my slinkie blanket with the words “It’s easier than clothes. You need a house coat, something easy to put on and get off.” “It’s a good idea. Are you going to walk around naked all evening, not that I mind if you are, or are you going to put on dry, but undoubtedly creased, clothes?” I wrinkled my nose in amusement at the idea of him looking anything but elegant wearing clothes badly in need of pressing. But then I didn’t have anything he could use to iron them. He pulled a face and was about to respond when his ‘phone beeped. “What is it now, Alice?” “You will put them in the bin. My mind has just been tortured by the image of you in clothes that clearly belong in the garbage. Jasper and I will be there shortly with a case of clothes for you to keep there” and Alice disconnected. Making no attempt to hide my amusement, I asked how he was going to answer the door. I was the recipient of a filthy look as he disappeared for a second before reappearing wearing a towel. “If I had known you were going to seduce me I would have brought my own change of clothing and I wouldn’t have traumatised my sister” he grumbled. “No, you wouldn’t. You would have found a way to resist. I anticipated a need to be a bit inventive to get you naked, but you made it so easy” I sounded faintly pitying of the poor deluded male. “You mean you planned this all along?” “Wellllll”, I dragged the word out as I debated the wisdom of being totally honest. “How truthful do you want me to be?” “I think that this is probably one of those occasions when ignorance is bliss” he finally said. I smiled my approval at him “How wise.” Alice and Jasper arrived, greeting him with sniggers of pitying support. “You shouldn’t have let him visit wearing clothes that stank of gasoline. I had to put them in the laundry and I don’t have anything to press them with” I said. “Your replacement clothes will have to wait” Alice said to me. “If you don’t want to run out of deadly dull clothes to wear to school put a bit more planning into the details.” At aged seventeen I would have blushed profusely at Alice’s words. Being thirty, and no longer an innocent, I just said “He didn’t have to tear my clothes off for my massager to work”. “I wish Emmett had been here to see that” Jasper said. “He will never believe that you got teased about your sex life and not even a hint of pink showed on your face” he finished sadly. “Change is a bad habit that we humans often indulge in” I said mirroring the words I said to Rosalie about aging. “But why can’t you change in good ways, like developing an interest in your clothes instead of losing habits that were charming?” Alice wailed. “C’est la vie” I replied with a shrug. “Is it a good time for that favour you asked?” Jasper looked at him cryptically. “Probably as good a time as any” he replied and looked at me as if he doubted the wisdom of this move, but didn’t think that he had a real option. Jasper, in a move that completely took me by surprise, removed his sweater and shirt. “When you look at my body what do you see?” he asked me. “Smooth white marble, not as good as his, but still attractive” I replied, puzzled as to where Jasper was going with the question. Alice told me to look closely as she held a torch and shone it over Jasper’s torso and neck. “My god! What the hell happened to you Jasper?” He was covered in scars. Scars that looked very similar to the one on my hand that I’d had for twelve and a half years. Vampire bite scars. “I didn’t have the same vampire upbringing as Edward, Esme, Rosalie and Emmett had. Mine was in a cruel, violent world where survival depended on how well you could fight. I survived because I was a better fighter than the others. The fact that I could calm down an atmosphere also helped. I know these marks are hard for your human eyes to see, but for other vampires, the first thing they notice when they look at me is my ravaged face and neck and they wonder how I managed to survive so many attacks, and I scare them.” I didn’t know what to say. I had always considered Jasper to be as physically attractive as the rest of the family. “The only vampire who did not recoil from me on first sighting was Alice.” “Perhaps if I hadn’t seen you in my visions for years prior to our meeting I might have. But I knew that you were the one for me and the battle scars just did not matter.” Alice reached out to gently stroke her mate and kissed some of the scars with love, proving something that really did not need further proof, the truth of her words. “Just as your scars do not matter to me” he said and I understood the lesson. “You must have realised that to human eyes all vampires are attractive. To vampire eyes, appearances mean absolutely nothing.” I looked at him and remembered other things he had said. “No wonder you were so easy yesterday. You intended to seduce me just as much as I intended to be seduced.” I was definitely disgruntled. “Yes” and he watched my face to try to gauge my reaction to this new take on things. I felt his frustration as he remained ignorant as to my thoughts. “Well, are you going to say something?” he finally demanded. “I’m trying to work out what I want to say” I was still miffed. I had thought that I was taking control, but I had been played. It was true that he had not been in control this evening, which he had decided to get over; and he had warned me that he had a couple of ideas on how he could prove to me that my scars meant nothing to him. It was my own fault that I hadn’t asked for more information at the time. I decided to just accept it: it’s not as if I hadn’t wanted to test his word with the very same actions. “Good job I enjoyed it then, isn’t it?” I finally said. “And still no blush!” Jasper was still amazed. “Jasper, did you expect me to remain a naive teenager forever?” Jasper chose not to reply except by way of a shrug as he got dressed again, but I knew that, just as the Cullens had remained the same, he had expected that I would be the same Bella Swann that he knew twelve years ago. If I had gotten my way, I would have been. It wasn’t until I got up the next day that I noticed the damage to the bed. The headboard was completely mangled. “What have you done to my bed?!” I screeched. “Do you mean you’ve only just noticed?” he asked in disbelief. “I would have thought that the noise would have permeated even your meagre human brain.” Now he was snide. “You owe me a new bed now” I was equally snide. “I will replace everything I damage and I will refrain from deliberately damaging things that I do not like: that awful sofa, for example.” I didn’t want to explain why that was a perfectly good awful sofa so I just grunted my acceptance of his words. It was my thirtieth birthday on Thursday. I received a lovely thick cardigan from my mom and Phil. It had giant buttons that even I could manage. From Jake and his family I received a wooden bowl carved by Jake, decorated with etchings of the ferns that proliferated around Forks, but nowhere else and an electric whisk – no doubt Lizzie’s idea. From the Cullens I received nothing. Not even birthday wishes. I wasn’t sure if I was more miffed or pleased, given what had happened on the last birthday I spent with them. On balance I decided that I was relieved that they had chosen to ignore the event. I spent a long time on the ‘phone with my mom and a while with Jake. I didn’t realise until after I had ended the conversations that I hadn’t told either of them about the Cullens. I would have to tell them sometime, or would I? Both had said how well I was looking and that they were surprised at how much Alaska seemed to agree with me. That really was my cue to explain that it wasn’t the town of Carcrix, or even the prospect of a permanent teaching position, but rather the man in my life (and bed) and his family that had put the life back into me. I was well behind with my school marking and was only half way through when he arrived. “Hey” he came over to where I was sat at the table and kissed me. “Are you having a good birthday?” “Hey, yeah, but I’ve spent ages on the ‘phone to Mom and Jake so am way behind with my marking. I didn’t tell either of them about you and now I’m worried about what I should tell them so I’m getting even further behind with my marking.” “Difficult. Do you have to tell them anything for the time being? You could always wait to tell them, and to be honest, I’m not sure what you could tell Renee because she would surely want to meet the man in your life and she’s bound to notice that I’m exactly the same as I was when we met in Phoenix all those years ago. Jacob’s another matter. He already knows about our family so it wouldn’t matter if you told him again.” While I went back to my marking he entertained himself by reading the work of my pupils. “This guy is funny” he said after one particular essay. “He should go far. Can I read more of his stuff, please?” I looked to see whose work it was that so entertained him. It was Ed Wynne’s. Ed, along with his twin sister Gwynn Wynne, was a definite jokester. It was a clear indication of how much effort they put into their work if it was funny. I didn’t think he had read Gwynn’s yet because she was the more intelligent and I imagined her sense of humour would appeal to him even more than Ed’s. “Have you eaten? Would you like me to get you something?” he asked, clearly bored at the idea of reading more Sophmores’ work. “Yeah, please. Baked beans on toast would be nice, and a hot chocolate, please?” “Coming right up, love.” He was clearly pleased to be helpful to me. I was tucking into my supper when I smiled at him and said “You know, you are proving to be very handy to have around.” He beamed. “Good. It is my aim to be so handy that you decide to keep me around.” I finished my marking while he cleared up – my apartment had never been so spotless. I showed him Gwynn’s essay on Much Ado About Nothing. As I expected he chuckled all the way through. “I’ve read this girl’s mind before. I almost introduced myself to her once.” “Oh yes?” I interrupted his fond reminiscing. “Yes, Jasper wouldn’t let me. I thought it was hilarious. She is greatly attracted to Alice and can’t understand what she sees in such a dull fellow as Jasper. He is nice to look at, Gwynn conceded, but she rather thought that the best relationships required a bit more than one partner being rather nice to look at. She also guessed that we are not normal, which is really why I didn’t introduce myself. And she had the good taste to think of Rosalie as obvious, self absorbed tat. I didn’t get a read on what she thought of Emmett and me, if she bothered to think of us at all that is.” I felt a little better after that, still rather annoyed that I had felt the stirrings of jealousy in the first place. I grunted my acknowledgement of his words rather than say something that would be bound to reveal my true thoughts. “Did you get me a birthday present?” I pretended to be miffed that he hadn’t offered one. “Since I know you like the home made kind I’m busy making it, so it will be late.” “You’re a vampire, why would you not be able to make it in a few hours?” “Because I still need the raw materials and not all of them are easily available. I know Alice had to steal some chemicals from the school chemistry lab for Jasper to make his.” “What? Why does everyone else have to get me one too? It’s not fair since I don’t know when anyone’s birthday is to get them something.” “Never mind love. You could always try to seduce the information out of me later.” “No need, I’ll just ask when I want the information.” I felt rather smug at the thought that I didn’t say who I would ask. I was rather anxious on Saturday morning. He made love to me again and as much as it brought me great pleasure, I wanted us to enjoy the full experience, together. “I think we’re going to need a bigger bed to do it properly” he said ruefully when I made my dissatisfaction known, “preferably one with replaceable headboards”. “Okay, but since you were going to replace my bed anyway, I think you better get right on it.” “Don’t worry, love, I’ve got it in hand.” Anyway, what was making me anxious was how did I kick him out for a few hours without hurting his feelings? I decided the best bet was to just say it. “You have to leave, making sure that you’re not seen, please, and come back for me after lunch to take me to see Esme’s renovation project. That’ll give me some time to get some of my lessons planned for next week without worrying about you being bored.” “So having made use of my services, you’re kicking me out, is that it?” He didn’t sound too cross. “That’s right, off you go. I’ll see you after two.” He went through the kitchen window, grumbling about only being wanted for his body. ‘Hmph’ I thought to myself, ‘That seemed a bit too easy. What’s he up to?’ I decided not to worry about it since I was bound to find out in due course and settled to do my lesson planning. At ten past two he arrived. He knew that I couldn’t leave straight away, I had to wait a little longer before the pain meds kicked in so he tried to distract me by kissing me. I had no idea that ears could be so sensitive. I felt shivers of pleasure just thinking about it! I tried to walk down the stairs when we left. It was probably not the brightest idea I’d ever had. Seeing the agony on my face as I started down the first step made him absolutely furious. “Why do you not let me stay on the mornings to carry you down?” he gritted through his teeth after he had carried me down the stairs and helped me into his car. “And I should be here after school to carry you up. Why do you not let me?” he finished a lot louder than when he started. “Because at those times of day we were bound to be seen at some point and I can’t risk that. I really should not have let you carry me today. What if Shawna had either arrived at, or just left her apartment at the wrong time?” “I can understand your view point for regular occasions, even though I don’t like it, but if we had seen your neighbour today, I would have just suggested that she could offer to swop so you wouldn’t need assistance getting up and down the stairs.” “Then let’s just be glad that we didn’t see her. Now are you going to scowl at me all afternoon?” A soft smile flittered across his face. “That depends on how reasonable you’re going to be.” “I knew it! I knew it was too easy to get you out of the apartment this morning. What have you done?” “We’re giving you your birthday presents love, and since we missed a lot of birthdays, there’s rather a lot of presents for you to be reasonable over. We were going to give you christmas presents too, but decided against that on the grounds that you might think it a bit excessive.”