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reading the twilight Saga book 1 Midnight Sun

Summary:
what if the characters of twilight got the books before New Moon!


Notes:


10. Theory

Rating 0/5   Word Count 10988   Review this Chapter

Disclaimer: I DO NOT own Twilight or any of its Trademarks or Character's they are owned by Stephanie Meyer and Summit Entertainment.

Theory

"Theory," Edward read.

"Can I ask just one more?" she entreated instead of answering my demand.

“See,” Edward smirked. “She is the queen of the stall.”

“I am not, I was merely curious,” Bella argued.

“When are you not?” Alice smirked.

I was on edge, anxious for the worst. And yet, how tempting it was to prolong this moment. To have Bella with me, willingly, for just a few seconds longer.

“How tempting is two and a half years?” Bella smiled pointed to the rest of the books in the corner.

Edward smiled and moaned quietly into her ear, “Bella we have to make it through this book, and you’re making this so hard, my silly beautiful girl.”

Bella chuckled, “Must be really tempting.”

Edward shot her a look and blew softly onto her neck settling the score, making her shiver.

I sighed at the dilemma, and then said, "One."

"Well…" she hesitated for a moment, as if deciding which question to voice.

"You said you knew I hadn't gone into the bookstore, and that I had gone south. I was just wondering how you know that."

I glared out the windshield. Here was another question that revealed nothing on her part, and too much on mine.

“That’s ridiculous, I revealed tons to you before that,” Bella huffed. “About my family and why I didn’t like it here, so that is completely wrong.”

“Fine,” Edward said, giving in before she could get madder.

"I thought we were past all the evasiveness," she said, her tone critical and disappointed.

How ironic. She was relentlessly evasive, without even trying.

“No I’m not,” Bella glared at him.

“Who wants to bet Edward gets slapped before this book is done?” Emmett snickered.

“There’s no way in Hell anyone here would take that bet,” Jasper laughed as Edward sent him a wave of hostility. “Hey don’t get mad at me because you don’t know the golden rule of keeping your girlfriend happy.”

Edward gritted his teeth and looked annoyed, Bella just laughed at all of them.

Well, she wanted me to be direct. And this conversation wasn't going anywhere good, regardless.

"Fine, then," I said. "I followed your scent."

I wanted to watch her face, but I was afraid of what I would see.

Instead, I listened to her breath accelerate and then stabilize. She spoke again after a moment, and her voice was steadier than I would have expected.

"And then you didn't answer one of my first questions…" she said.

I looked down at her, frowning. She was stalling, too.

“I just knew you would get mad, I didn’t want to upset you,” Bella sighed.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think there was any way this could go over well,” Edward shook his head.

“I know,” Bella grumbled but let it go.

"Which one?"

"How does it work—the mind reading thing?" she asked, reiterating her question from the restaurant. "Can you read anybody's mind, anywhere? How do you do it? Can the rest of your family…?" She trailed off, flushing again.

"That's more than one," I said.

“What did you expect from Bella?” Alice chuckled.

“She curious, it’s an admirable trait,” Carlisle said.

“Thank you,” Bella smiled at him and he nodded back.

She just looked at me, waiting for her answers.

And why not tell her? She'd already guessed most of this, and it was an easier subject that the one that loomed.

"No, it's just me. And I can't hear anyone, anywhere. I have to be fairly close. The more familiar someone's…'voice' is, the farther away I can hear them. But still, no more than a few miles." I tried to think of a way to describe it so that she would understand. An analogy that she could relate to. "It's a little like being in a huge hall filled with people, everyone talking at once. It's just a hum—a buzzing of voices in the background. Until I focus on one voice, and then what they're thinking is clear. Most of the time I tune it all out—it can be very distracting. And then it's easier to seem normal," I grimaced— "when I'm not accidentally answering someone's thoughts rather than their words."

"Why do you think you can't hear me?" she wondered.

“It is an odd development,” Carlisle mused rubbing his jaw with a concentrated look.

I gave her another truth and another analogy.

"I don't know," I admitted. "The only guess I have is that maybe your mind doesn't work the same way the rest of theirs do. Like your thoughts are on the AM frequency and I'm only getting FM."

“I doubt that’s it Edward,” Carlisle smirked at him.

“I was just trying to think of something,” Edward chuckled.

“I think it’s more along the lines of a natural defense her mind has,” Carlisle reasoned.

I realized that she would not like this analogy. The anticipation of her reaction had me smiling. She didn't disappoint.

"My mind doesn't work right?" she asked, her voice rising with chagrin. "I'm a freak?"

Ah, the irony again.

"I hear voices in my mind and you're worried that you're the freak." I laughed.

She understood all the small things, and yet the big ones she got backwards. Always the wrong instincts…

“Or the right ones,” Bella grumbled.

“Says you,” Edward smirked.

Bella was gnawing on her lip, and the crease between her eyes was etched deep.

"Don't worry," I reassured her. "It's just a theory…" And there was a more important theory to be discussed. I was anxious to get it over with. Each passing second was beginning to feel more and more like borrowed time.

"Which brings us back to you," I said, divided in two, both anxious and reluctant.

She sighed, still chewing her lip—I worried that she would hurt herself. She stared into my eyes, her face troubled.

"Aren't we past all the evasions now?" I asked quietly.

“Nope,” Emmett chuckled. “Not at all.”

“Yeah,” Edward sighed in agreement.

She looked down, struggling with some internal dilemma. Suddenly, she stiffened and her eyes flew wide open. Fear flashed across her face for the first time.

“Eddie boy, what did you do?” Emmett snickered, picturing Edward snapping his teeth at Bella.

“Nothing that stupid Emmett,” Edward rolled his eyes.

"Holy crow!" she gasped.

I panicked. What had she seen? How had I frightened her?

“You always jump to conclusions,” Bella rolled her eyes, he was so ridiculous sometimes.

Then she shouted, "Slow down!"

"What's wrong?" I didn't understand where her terror was coming from.

"You're going a hundred miles an hour!" she yelled at me.

“That’s what you’re upset about, maybe Eddie has lost his touch,” Emmett barked out laughing.

Edward groaned, this was precisely what he wanted to avoid, Emmett figuring that out.

She flashed a look out the window, and recoiled from the dark trees racing past us.

This little thing, just a bit of speed, had her shouting in fear?

I rolled my eyes. "Relax, Bella."

“Not likely, you drive like a madman,” Bella groaned.

“You’ll get used to it,” Edward smiled.

Bella snorted, “Again, not likely.”

"Are you trying to kill us?" she demanded, her voice high and tight.

"We're not going to crash," I promised her.

She sucked in a sharp breath, and then spoke in a slightly more level tone. "Why are you in such a hurry?"

"I always drive like this."

I met her gaze, amused by her shocked expression.

"Keep your eyes on the road!" she shouted.

"I've never been in an accident, Bella. I've never even gotten a ticket." I grinned at her and touched my forehead. It made it even more comical—the absurdity of being able to joke with her about something so secret and strange. "Built in radar detector."

“I’m glad you enjoyed it, but stick to the speed limit,” Bella glowered at him.

Edward laughed, “What was it you said again? Oh yeah, not likely.”

Bella huffed and ignored all the chuckles around her.

"Very funny," she said sarcastically, her voice more frightened than angry.

"Charlie's a cop, remember? I was raised to abide by traffic laws. Besides, if you turn us into a Volvo pretzel around a tree trunk, you can probably just walk away."

"Probably," I repeated, and then laughed without humor. Yes, we would fare quite differently in a car accident. She was right to be afraid, despite my driving abilities… "But you can't."

With a sigh, I let the car drift to a crawl. "Happy?"

She eyed the speedometer. "Almost."

Was this still too fast for her? "I hate driving slow," I muttered, but let the needle slide another notch down.

"This is slow?" she asked.

“Yes,” Everyone, even Esme and Carlisle, smirked.

“Then all of you are insane,” Bella huffed crossing her arms.

"Enough commentary on my driving," I said impatiently. How many times had she dodged my question now? Three times? Four? Were her speculations that horrific?

“Yes,” Bella sighed thinking of his reaction.

“No, I just took it badly. I’m actually happy you know now,” Edward said softly.

“Good,” Bella smiled.

I had to know—immediately. "I'm still waiting for your latest theory."

She bit her lip again, and her expression became upset, almost pained.

I reigned in my impatience and softened my voice. I didn't want her to be distressed.

“Oh course,” Jasper snickered, “Edward’s precious Bella can’t be anything but happy, or the world will stop.”

Edward flushed and growled, “Shut-up.”

"I won't laugh," I promised, wishing that it was only embarrassment that made her unwilling to talk.

"I'm more afraid that you'll be angry with me," she whispered.

I forced my voice to stay even. "Is it that bad?"

"Pretty much, yeah."

She looked down, refusing to meet my eyes. The seconds passed.

“Driving me slowly insane,” Edward muttered.

Bella laughed.

"Go ahead," I encouraged.

Her voice was small. "I don't know how to start."

"Why don't you start at the beginning?" I remembered her words before dinner.

"You said you didn't come up with this on your own."

“Yes,” Carlisle murmured, “I always wondered who told you, Edward didn’t say anything.”

“I’m sure I’m about to say it,” Bella said her heart rate picking up with her nervousness.

“We won’t be harming them I assure you,” Carlisle said to calm her. Bella nodded and Edward continued after giving her a soothing kiss on the forehead.

"No," she agreed, and then was silent again.

I thought about things that might have inspired her. "What got you started— book? A movie?"

I should have looked through her collections when she was out of the house. I had no idea if Bram Stoker or Anne Rice was there in her stack of worn paperbacks…

"No," she said again. "It was Saturday, at the beach."

“Oh,’ Carlisle said surprised, they had broken their own treaty. Not that he would do anything about it; he doubted it would happen again. He was just a little surprised.

“I was as well,’ Edward murmured too low for Bella to hear.

I hadn't expected that. The local gossip about us had never strayed into anything too bizarre—or too precise. Was there a new rumor I'd missed? Bella peeked up from her hands and saw the surprise on my face.

"I ran into an old family friend—Jacob Black,"

she went on. "His dad and Charlie have been friends since I was a baby."

Jacob Black—the name was not familiar, and yet it reminded me of something…some time, long ago… I stared out of the windshield, flipping through memories to find the connection.

"His dad is one of the Quileute elders," she said.

Jacob Black. Ephraim Black. A descendant, no doubt.

“Him of all people, that really makes no sense,” Carlisle said confused.

“Most of the kids don’t believe in the legend, he was probably trying to spook her and told the story without thinking,” Edward replied and Carlisle nodded.

“Yeah, he was,” Bella said, they had forgotten to say it low that time. “I trick him into telling me and I know it won’t happen again, he seemed really nervous after I told him. I couldn’t understand why.”

“The treaty in the story is real, they are not supposed to tell who we are, and we won’t go there,” Edward explained.

“So they are really wolves,” Bella said shocked. Carlisle and Edward didn’t reply to that, but she took their silence as a confirmation.

It was as bad as it could get.

She knew the truth.

My mind was flying through the ramifications as the car flew around the dark curves in the road, my body rigid with anguish—motionless except for the small, automatic actions it took to steer the car.

She knew the truth.

But…if she'd learned the truth Saturday…then she'd known it all evening long…and yet…

“I DON’T CARE!” Bella yelled at him.

Edward and everyone chuckled, “I know, it was just crazy is all, you should care. But I love that you don’t.”

"We went for a walk," she went on. "And he was telling me about some old legends—trying to scare me, I think. He told me one…"

She stopped short, but there was no need for her qualms now; I knew what she was going to say. The only mystery left was why she was here with me now.

“Well,” Bella huffed. “You could have stopped me anytime.”

“I still wanted to hear the rest, I just say you didn’t need to worry,” Edward corrected her.

"Go on," I said.

"About vampires," she breathed, the words less than a whisper.

Somehow, it was even worse than knowing that she knew, hearing her speak the word aloud. I flinched at the sound of it, and then controlled myself again.

“I thought you said you didn’t mind the word,” Bella said.

“We don’t, but hearing you say it for the first time was . . . hard to say the least,” Edward answered; Bella nodded and let it go.

"And you immediately thought of me?" I asked.

"No. He…mentioned your family."

How ironic that it would be Ephraim's own progeny that would violate the treaty he'd vowed to uphold. A grandson, or great-grandson perhaps. How many years had it been? Seventy?

I should have realized that it was not the old men who believed in the legends that would be the danger. Of course, the younger generation—those who would have been warned, but would have thought the ancient superstitions laughable—of course that was where the danger of exposure would lie.

“I agree,” Carlisle said.

“I truly think he won’t be telling anyone else that, he was terrified right after I told him, he made me promise not to say anything to anyone,” Bella said nervously.

“We still might have to have a word with them,” Carlisle said thoughtfully. “Nothing bad, I give you my word, just tell them to reaffirm their children, so this won’t happen again.”

I supposed this meant I was now free to slaughter the small, defenseless tribe on the coastline, were I so inclined. Ephraim and his pack of protectors were long dead…

"He just thought it was a silly superstition," Bella said suddenly, her voice edged with a new anxiety. "He didn't expect me to think anything of it."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her twist her hands uneasily.

"It was my fault," she said after a brief pause, and then she hung her head as if she were ashamed. "I forced him to tell me."

"Why?" It wasn't so hard to keep my voice level now. The worst was already done. As long as we spoke of the details of the revelation, we didn't have to move on to the consequences of it.

“There were no consequences,” Bella snorted. “Only you huffing glaring and pouting. So I guess the consequences were on my end and not yours.”

Edward rolled his eyes.

"Lauren said something about you—she was trying to provoke me." She made a little face at the memory. I was slightly distracted, wondering how Bella would be provoked by someone talking about me… "And an older boy from the tribe said your family didn't come to the reservation, only it sounded like he meant something different.

So I got Jacob alone and I tricked it out of him."

Her head dropped even lower as she admitted this, and her expression looked…guilty.

I looked away from her and laughed out loud. She felt guilty? What could she possibly have done to deserve censure of any kind?

"Tricked him how?" I asked.

Bella blushed, thinking of what she did while Edward chuckled at her.

Everyone else looked at the book in anticipation.

“This should be good,” Emmett smirked.

"I tried to flirt—it worked better than I thought it would," she explained,

Emmett was on the floor laughing so hard it shook the house, “You . . . flirted . . . with . . . some other guy.”

Bella ducked her head into Edward chest while he bounced with laughter.

and her voice turned incredulous at the memory of that success.

I could just imagine—considering the attraction she seemed to have for all things male,

“I do not!” Bella mumbled into his chest.

“Yes you do,” all the ‘younger’ Cullen’s replied.

totally unconscious on her part—how overwhelming she would be when she tried to be attractive. I was suddenly full of pity for the unsuspecting boy she'd unleashed such a potent force on.

"I'd like to have seen that," I said, and then I laughed again with the black humor.

I wished I could have heard the boy's reaction, witnessed the devastation for myself.

"And you accused me of dazzling people—poor Jacob Black."

“So jealous,” Jasper and Alice laughed. Edward growled at them and Bella rolled her eyes.

I wasn't as angry with the source of my exposure as I would have expected to feel. He didn't know better. And how could I expect anyone to deny this girl what she wanted? No, I only felt sympathy for the damage she would have done to his peace of mind.

Bella shook her head, that was completely absurd.

I felt her blush heat the air between us. I glanced at her, and she was staring out her window. She didn't speak again.

"What did you do then?" I prompted. Time to get back to the horror story.

"I did some research on the internet."

Ever practical. "And did that convince you?"

“No the stuff on the internet is complete garbage,” Bella said shaking her head.

“Well of course,” Edward chuckled. “We would never let the truth be out there for everyone to read.”

"No,” she said. "Nothing fit. Most of it was kind of silly. And then—"

She broke off again, and I heard her teeth lock together.

"What?" I demanded. What had she found? What had made sense of the nightmare for her?

“Just that I was in love with you, even though I didn’t know it then, I could never have let you go, it’s impossible,” Bella whispered looking down.

Edward kissed her softly on the lips, “That’s good, because neither can I, and I’m sure stalking someone is illegal.

Esme beamed at them, but of course Emmett had to ruin the moment, “Never stopped you before.”

There was a short pause, and then she whispered, "I decided it didn't matter."

Shock froze my thoughts for a half-second, and then it all fit together. Why she'd sent her friends away tonight rather than escape with them. Why she had gotten into my car with me again instead of running, screaming for the police…

Her reactions were always wrong—always completely wrong. She pulled danger toward herself. She invited it.

“I don’t invite it, I just know you’re not as dangerous as you think,” Bella muttered.

"It didn't matter?" I said through my teeth, anger filling me. How was I supposed to protect someone so…so…so determined to be unprotected?

“Don’t,” Bella muttered again.

“That’s not going to happen,” Edward smirked.

"No," she said in a low voice that was inexplicably tender. "It doesn't matter to me what you are."

She was impossible.

“You’re impossible,” Bella glared at him.

Emmett and Jasper just shook their heads at Edward. Edward for the most part glowered at the book, “I never asked anyone to read my thoughts.”

"You don't care if I'm a monster? If I'm not human?"

"No."

I started to wonder if she was entirely stable.

Bella eyes shot up to Edward and she glared at him with a fierceness that let him hiding behind a pillow.

I supposed that I could arrange for her to receive the best care available…

Carlisle would have the connections to find her the most skilled doctors, the most talented therapists. Perhaps something could be done to fix whatever it was that was wrong with her, whatever it was that made her content to sit beside a vampire with her heart beating calmly and steadily. I would watch over the facility, naturally, and visit as often as I was allowed…

“Then how would that help,” Alice snickered. “The problem is her willingness to be with you, if you constantly visit isn’t that defeating the purpose?”

“Shut up,” Edward growled.

“You are completely ridiculous,” Bella growled at him and went to sit in on the other side of Carlisle away from Edward. Edward just groaned and sat there looking at her.

"You're angry," she sighed. "I shouldn't have said anything."

As if her hiding these disturbing tendencies would help either of us.

"No. I'd rather know what you're thinking—even if what you're thinking is insane."

“Yes,” Bella voice dripping with sarcasm and irritation, “Loving you is completely insane, why didn’t I see it before?”

Edward groaned more, “I’m sorry, I just didn’t know how to do this before. I wasn’t use to these feeling and I didn’t handle it well.”

“No,” Bella snapped at him refused to be seduced by his charm and his heavenly face, “you didn’t handle it at all.”

Edward sighed, sitting away from her was really uncomfortable, Jasper groaned across the room shifting him and Alice in the seat in response to Edward discomfort.

"So I'm wrong again?" she asked, a bit belligerent now.

"That's not what I was referring to!" My teeth clenched together again. "It doesn't matter'!" I repeated in a scathing tone.

She gasped. "I'm right?"

"Does it matter?" I countered.

She took a deep breath. I waited angrily for her answer.

"Not really," she said, her voice composed again. "But I am curious."

Not really. It didn't really matter. She didn't care. She knew I was inhuman, a monster, and this didn't really matter to her.

“Duh,” everyone said in unison. Even Rosalie rolled her eyes as if this were obvious.

Aside from my worries about her sanity, I began to feel a swelling of hope. I tried to quash it.

Bella glared at Edward again, but it was Jasper who groaned, then he went over to Bella picking her up. Edward was out of his seat at once, growling at Jasper, Jasper rolled his eyes and placed Bella into Edward arms, quickly moving away her and back to his seat calming himself.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare anyone,” He replied. “I just couldn’t take Edward’s uncomfortable feels anyone, they were making me fidget.”

Edward relaxed at sat back down with Bella. Bella waved Jasper’s worries away, smiling, and then sighed and laid her head back on Edward’s shoulder.

Jasper took deep breaths calming himself after being so close, yet he was proud he could do it. Edward shot him a look, “I am proud for you as well, but no more experimenting your control with Bella.”

Jasper nodded.

"What are you curious about?" I asked her. There were no secrets left, only minor details.

"How old are you?" she asked.

My answer was automatic and ingrained. "Seventeen."

"And how long have you been seventeen?"

“Forever, he’s really old,” Emmett laughed; Bella shook her head at him.

I tried not to smile at the patronizing tone. "A while," I admitted.

"Okay," she said, abruptly enthusiastic. She smiled up at me. When I stared back, anxious again about her mental health, she smiled wider. I grimaced.

Bella smacked Edward, it hurt her hand, and Edward sighed and recited formally, “I am sorry, Bella is a bright and intelligent girl who is not insane in any way.”

"Don't laugh," she warned. "But how can you come out during the daytime?"

Everyone laughed.

I laughed despite her request. Her research had not netted her anything unusual, it seemed. "Myth," I told her.

"Burned by the sun?"

"Myth."

"Sleeping in coffins?"

“Those myths came from the Romanians, they liked to-“Carlisle had started but stopped when Edward shot him a look. “They just hid in coffins a lot.”

"Myth."

Sleep had not been a part of my life for so long—not until these last few nights, as I'd watched Bella dreaming…

"I can't sleep," I murmured, answering her question more fully.

She was silent for a moment.

“I’ll admit, that was a little weird to hear,” Bella relented.

“We just have endless energy, humans sleep because their energy depletes and while they sleep they re-charged,” Carlisle explained. “If our energy doesn’t lessen then we have no need to sleep.”

Bella nodded, “I guess that makes since, makes it a little less weird, but what do you do all night?”

Emmett smirked and went to open his mouth when Edward growled at him and turned to Bella, “nothing really, nothing special, work and read and other stuff.”

"At all?" she asked.

"Never," I breathed.

I stared into her eyes, wide under the thick fringe of lashes, and yearned for sleep.

Not for oblivion, as I had before, not to escape boredom, but because I wanted to dream.

Maybe, if I could be unconscious, if I could dream, I could live for a few hours in a world where she and I could be together. She dreamed of me. I wanted to dream of her.

Bella smiled at that thought, then leaned in and kissed Edward, “you’re out of trouble.”

“Good,” Edward smiled while Emmett pretended to gag.

She stared back at me, her expression full of wonder. I had to look away.

I could not dream of her. She should not dream of me.

"You haven't asked me the most important question yet," I said, my silent chest colder and harder than before. She had to be forced to understand. At some point, she would have to realize what she was doing now. She must be made to see that this all did matter—more than any other consideration. Considerations like the fact that I loved her.

“No, it doesn’t,” Bella said shooting him a look.

“Well that lasted long,” He muttered under his breath, too low for her to hear. Everyone chuckled quietly and Bella glared at him, wondering what he said, he just looked away.

"Which one is that?" she asked, surprised and unaware.

This only made my voice harder. "You aren't concerned about my diet?"

"Oh. That." She spoke in a quiet tone that I couldn't interpret.

"Yes, that. Don't you want to know if I drink blood?"

She cringed away from my question. Finally. She was understanding.

“I wish it were that simple to get something through to you,” Edward huffed.

"Well, Jacob said something about that," she said.

"What did Jacob say?"

"He said you didn't…hunt people. He said your family wasn't supposed to be dangerous because you only hunted animals."

"He said we weren't dangerous?" I repeated cynically.

“I doubt that,” Carlisle smirked. “Plus she said supposed to meaning we still kind of are.”

“I know,” Edward murmured.

"Not exactly," she clarified. "He said you weren't supposed to be dangerous. But the Quileutes still didn't want you on their land, just in case."

I stared at the road, my thoughts in a hopeless snarl, my throat aching with the familiar fiery thirst.

"So, was he right?" she asked, as calmly as if she were confirming a weather report. "About not hunting people?"

“You really are an odd little human,” Emmett chuckled.

“Yep, you better believe it,” Bella smiled at him.

"The Quileutes have a long memory."

She nodded to herself, thinking hard.

"Don't let that make you complacent, though," I said quickly. "They're right to keep their distance from us. We are still dangerous."

“I know, but you could never hurt me, I believe that,” Bella said seriously. Edward sighed but let it go, they had three other books so things will get resolved one way or another.

"I don't understand."

No, she didn't. How to make her see?

“It’s impossible, give up now so you don’t have to waste your time,” Alice laughed.

“I knew you my best friend for a reason,” Bella smiled at her and Alice beamed back at her. Edward for his part rolled his eyes at their antics.

"We try," I told her. "We're usually very good at what we do. Sometimes we make mistakes. Me, for example, allowing myself to be alone with you."

Her scent was still a force in the car. I was growing used to it, I could almost ignore it, but there was no denying that my body still yearned toward her for the wrong reason. My mouth was swimming with venom.

Bella sighed but let it go.

"This is a mistake?" she asked, and there was heartbreak in her voice. The sound of it disarmed me. She wanted to be with me—despite everything, she wanted to be with me.

Hope swelled again, and I beat it back.

"A very dangerous one," I told her truthfully, wishing the truth could really somehow cease to matter.

“It’s not the truth,” Bella argued. “So it doesn’t.”

“According to you,” Edward muttered.

She didn't respond for a moment. I heard her breathing change—it hitched in strange ways that did not sound like fear.

"Tell me more," she said suddenly, her voice distorted by anguish.

I examined her carefully.

She was in pain. How had I allowed this?

“It just stung that you thing being with me is some horrible mistake, like you don’t really care at all,” Bella frowned looking down.

“Of course I care,” Edward said putting a finger under her chin and tilting her face up. “Mistake was the wrong word, dangerous action would have been more appropriate. I just wanted you safe from me.”

“I don’t want to be safe from you because you’re not dangerous,” They both glared at each other.

"What more do you want to know?" I asked, trying to think of a way to keep her from hurting. She should not hurt. I couldn't let her be hurt.

"Tell me why you hunt animals instead of people," she said, still anguished.

Wasn't it obvious? Or maybe this didn't matter to her either.

"I don't want to be a monster," I muttered.

"But animals aren't enough?"

I searched for another comparison, a way that she could understand. "I can't be sure, of course, but I'd compare it to living on tofu and soy milk; we call ourselves vegetarians, our little inside joke. It doesn't completely satiate the hunger—or rather thirst. But it keeps us strong enough to resist. Most of the time." My voice got lower; I was ashamed of danger I had allowed her to be in. Danger I continued to allow…

“Allowed me,” Bella glared harder, “who are you? My father?”

“Eddie just grovel now and get it over with,” Emmett snickered.

"Sometimes it's more difficult than others."

"Is it very difficult for you now?"

I sighed. Of course she would ask the question I didn't want to answer.

"Yes," I admitted.

I expected her physical response correctly this time: her breathing held steady, her heart kept its even pattern. I expected it, but I did not understand it. How could she not be afraid?

“Because you’re a wimp,” Emmett said in a mocking serious voiced.

“And you’re an idiot,” Edward growled.

"But you're not hungry now," she declared, perfectly sure of herself.

"Why do you think that?"

“Why did you come to that conclusion?” Carlisle asked.

“Well, let’s just say I noticed something about Edward,” Bella smirked, Edward rolled his eyes remembering what she said.

"Your eyes," she said, her tone offhand. "I told you I had a theory. I've noticed that people—men in particular—are crabbier when they're hungry."

Carlisle chuckled at that.

I chuckled at her description: crabby. There was an understatement. But she was dead right, as usual. "You are observant, aren't you?" I laughed again.

She smiled a little, the crease returning between her eyes as if she were concentrating on something.

"Were you hunting this weekend, with Emmett?" she asked after my laugh had faded. The casual way she spoke was as fascinating as it was frustrating. Could she really accept so much in stride? I was closer to shock than she seemed to be.

"Yes," I told her, and then, as I was about to leave it at that, I felt the same urge I'd had in the restaurant: I wanted her to know me. "I didn't want to leave," I went on slowly, "but it was necessary. It's a bit easier to be around you when I'm not thirsty."

"Why didn't you want to leave?"

“Because he’s obsessively in love with you,” Emmett said in a ‘duh’ kind of tone.

“I didn’t know that then,” Bella huffed.

I took a deep breath, and then turned to meet her gaze. This kind of honesty was difficult in a very different way.

"It makes me…anxious," I supposed that word would suffice, though it wasn't strong enough, "to be away from you. I wasn't joking when I asked you to try not to fall in the ocean or get run over last Thursday. I was distracted all weekend, worrying about you. And after what happened tonight, I'm surprised that you did make it through a whole weekend unscathed."

Then I remembered the scrapes on her palms. "Well, not totally unscathed," I amended.

"What?"

"Your hands," I reminded her.

She sighed and grimaced. "I fell."

“Your eyes miss nothing,” Bella sighed.

“It’s you, of course they don’t when it involves someone I love so much,” Edward snorted.

I'd guessed right. "That's what I thought," I said, unable to contain my smile. "I suppose, being you, it could have been much worse—and that possibility tormented me the entire time I was away. It was a very long three days. I really got on Emmett's nerves." Honestly, that didn't belong in the past tense. I was probably still irritating Emmett, and all the rest of my family, too. Except Alice…

“Yep,” Alice nodded, “though you were annoying me, not letting me meet her.”

“I know, I remember,” Edward groaned.

"Three days?" she asked, her voice suddenly sharp. "Didn't you just get back today?"

I didn't understand the edge in her voice.

"No, we got back Sunday."

"Then why weren't any of you in school?" she demanded. Her irritation confused me. She didn't seem to realize that this question was one that related to mythology again.

“Was it really that mysterious what I was irritated about?” Bella asked.

“No, Edward’s just an idiot,” Alice said waving her off.

"Well, you asked if the sun hurt me, and it doesn't," I said. "But I can't go out in the sunlight, at least, not where anyone can see."

That distracted her from her mysterious annoyance.

Bella shot him a ‘really!’ kind of look and he just shook his head. He hadn’t known how she felt any more than she had known how he felt.

"Why?" she asked, leaning her head to one side.

I doubted I could come up with the appropriate analogy to explain this one. So I just told her, "I'll show you sometime." And then I wondered if this was a promise I would end up breaking. Would I see her again, after tonight? Did I love her enough yet to be able to bear leaving her?

Bella glared at him and he looked away. Maybe leaving wasn’t the only option, looking at the three other books on the floor, he wasn’t so sure leaving was an option anymore.

"You might have called me," she said.

What an odd conclusion. "But I knew you were safe."

“Are you serious?” Bella asked honestly.

“I didn’t think this relationship was good for you, and I didn’t know you felt the way you did; I was conflicted and I’m sorry,” Edward relented.

“Fine,” Bella huffed and snuggled into his side.

"But I didn't know where you were. I—" She came to an abrupt stop, and looked at her hands.

"What?"

"I didn't like it," she said shyly, the skin over her cheekbones warming. "Not seeing you. It makes me anxious, too."

Are you happy now? I demanded of myself. Well, here was my reward for hoping.

I was bewildered, elated, horrified—mostly horrified—to realize that all my wildest imaginings were not so far off the mark. This was why it didn't matter to her that I was a monster. It was exactly the same reason that the rules no longer mattered to me.

Why right and wrong were no longer compelling influences. Why all my priorities had shifted one rung down to make room for this girl at the very top.

“Because she’s your mate, I already told you that,” Alice said rolling her eyes.

“I know, I know. Oh almighty know it all,” Edward rolled his eyes and chuckled when Alice growled at him. Maybe I won’t help you get Bella to invite you to meet her mom this weekend, see about that! Edward stop laughing and glared at her.

Bella cared for me, too.

I knew it could be nothing in comparison to how I loved her.

But it was enough for her to risk her life to sit here with me. To do so gladly.

Enough to cause her pain if I did the right thing and left her.

Was there anything I could do now that would not hurt her? Anything at all?

I should have stayed away. I should never have come back to Forks. I would cause her nothing but pain.

Bella was gritting her teeth with every line read and Edward was sinking into the couch with the glares he was getting from Esme, Alice, Carlisle, and surprisingly Jasper and Emmett.

Edward I know you’ve mated and love her more deeply than even you understand, it’s not surprisingly that I think that you’re an idiot trying to leave her.

Edward sighed and nestled Bella.

Would that stop me from staying now? From making it worse?

The way I felt right now, feeling her warmth against my skin…

No. Nothing would stop me.

"Ah," I groaned to myself. "This is wrong."

"What did I say?" she asked, quick to take the blame on herself.

“I hate when you do that. Always blaming yourself,” Edward groaned but stopped when everyone was looking at him incredulously.

"Don't you see, Bella? It's one thing for me to make myself miserable, but a wholly other thing for you to be so involved. I don't want to hear that you feel that way."

It was the truth, it was a lie. The most selfish part of me was flying with the knowledge that she wanted me as I wanted her. "It's wrong. It's not safe. I'm dangerous, Bella— please, grasp that."

"No." Her lips pouted out petulantly.

"I'm serious." I was battling with myself so strongly—half desperate for her to accept, half desperate to keep the warnings from escaping—that the words came through my teeth as a growl.

"So am I," she insisted. "I told you, it doesn't matter what you are. It's too late."

Too late? The world was bleakly black and white for one endless second as I watched the shadows crawl across the sunny lawn toward Bella's sleeping form in my memory. Inevitable, unstoppable. They stole the color from her skin, and plunged her into darkness.

Too late? Alice's vision swirled in my head, Bella's blood red eyes staring back at me impassively. Expressionless—but there was no way that she could not hate me for that future. Hate me for stealing everything from her. Stealing her life and her soul.

It could not be too late.

"Never say that," I hissed.

Bella sighed she could understand better what made him so upset but at the same time she couldn’t figure out how he could hate her becoming what he is some much. It hurt her heart to hear.

She stared out her window, and her teeth bit into her lip again. Her hands were balled into tight fists in her lap. Her breathing hitched and broke.

"What are you thinking?" I had to know.

She shook her head without looking at me. I saw something glisten, like a crystal, on her cheek.

Agony. "Are you crying?" I'd made her cry. I'd hurt her that much.

She scrubbed the tears away with the back of her hand.

"No," she lied, her voice breaking.

Some long buried instinct had me reaching out toward her—in that one second I felt more human than I ever had. And then I remembered that I was…not. And I lowered my hand.

“You could have, it would have been human to me,” Bella sighed Edward brought his hand up and caressed her cheek smiling. He whispered, “I’m sorry.”

"I'm sorry," I said, my jaw locked. How could I ever tell her how sorry I was?

Sorry for all the stupid mistakes I'd made. Sorry for my never-ending selfishness. Sorry that she was so unfortunate as to have inspired this first, tragic love of mine. Sorry also for the things beyond my control—that I'd been the monster chosen by fate to end her life in the first place.

I took a deep breath—ignoring my wretched reaction to the flavor in the car—and tried to collect myself.

I wanted to change the subject, to think of something else. Lucky for me, my curiosity about the girl was insatiable. I always had a question.

Bella smiled, “We’re a perfect match, we’re both always curious.”

Edward laughed.

"Tell me something," I said.

"Yes?" she asked huskily, tears still in her voice.

"What were you thinking tonight, just before I came around the corner? I couldn't understand your expression—you didn't look that scared, you looked like you were concentrating very hard on something." I remembered her face—forcing myself to forget whose eyes I was looking through—the look of determination there.

"I was trying to remember how to incapacitate an attacker," she said, her voice more composed. "You know, self-defense. I was going to smash his nose into his brain."

Her composure did not last to the end of her explanation. Her tone twisted until it seethed with hate. This was no hyperbole, and her kittenish fury was not humorous now.

I could see her frail figure—just silk over glass—overshadowed by the meaty, heavy fisted human monsters that would have hurt her. The fury boiled in the back of my head.

"You were going to fight them?" I wanted to groan. Her instincts were deadly— to herself. "Didn't you think about running?"

"I fall down a lot when I run," she said sheepishly.

"What about screaming for help?"

"I was getting to that part."

I shook my head in disbelief. How had she managed to stay alive before she'd come to Forks?

“I’m not going to dignify that with a response,” Bella huffed.

“Saying that is technically a response,” Emmett snickered but stopped when Alice knocked him upside the head.

"You were right," I told her, a sour edge to my voice. "I'm definitely fighting fate trying to keep you alive."

She sighed, and glanced out the window. Then she looked back at me.

"Will I see you tomorrow?" she demanded abruptly.

As long as I was on my way to hell—I might as well enjoy the journey.

"Yes—I have a paper due, too." I smiled at her, and it felt good to do this. "I'll save you a seat at lunch."

Her heart fluttered; my dead heart suddenly felt warmer.

Bella smiled and her heart hammered making Edward laugh, “You’re so silly.”

I stopped the car in front of her father's house. She made no move to leave me.

"Do you promise to be there tomorrow?" she insisted.

"I promise."

How could doing the wrong thing give me so much happiness? Surely there was something amiss in that.

She nodded to herself, satisfied, and started to remove my jacket.

"You can keep it," I assured her quickly. I rather wanted to leave her with something of myself. A token, like the bottle cap that was in my pocket now…

"You don't have a jacket for tomorrow."

She handed it back to me, smiling ruefully. "I don't want to have to explain to Charlie," she told me.

I would imagine not. I smiled at her. "Oh, right."

She put her hand on the door handle, and then stopped. Unwilling to leave, just as I was unwilling for her to go.

“Very unwilling,” Edward smiled. “You’re lucky you managed to escape.”

Jasper laughed, “The funny thing is he’s kind of serious.”

To have her unprotected, even for a few moments…

Peter and Charlotte were well on their way by now, long past Seattle, no doubt.

But there were always others. This world was not a safe place for any human, and for her it seemed to be more dangerous than it was for the rest.

"Bella?" I asked, surprised at the pleasure there was in simply speaking her name.

"Yes?"

"Will you promise me something?"

“No,” Bella huffed, then chuckled when Edward started tickling her.

"Yes," she agreed easily, and then her eyes tightened as if she'd thought of a reason to object.

"Don't go into the woods alone," I warned her, wondering if this request would trigger the objection in her eyes.

She blinked, startled. "Why?"

I glowered into the untrustworthy darkness. The lack of light was no problem for my eyes, but neither would it trouble another hunter. It only blinded humans.

“Of course darkness doesn’t bother you, nothing does,” Bella smiled.

Edward shrugged.

"I'm not always the most dangerous thing out there," I told her. "Let's leave it at that."

She shivered, but recovered quickly and was even smiling when she told me, "Whatever you say."

Her breath touched my face, so sweet and fragrant.

I could stay here all night like this, but she needed her sleep. The two desires seemed equally strong as they continually warred inside me: wanting her versus wanting her to be safe.

I sighed at the impossibilities. "I'll see you tomorrow," I said, knowing that I would see her much sooner than that. She wouldn't see me until tomorrow, though.

"Tomorrow, then," she agreed as she opened her door.

Agony again, watching her leave.

I leaned after her, wanting to hold her here. "Bella?"

She turned, and then froze, surprised to find our faces so close together.

I, too, was overwhelmed by the proximity. The heat rolled off her in waves, caressing my face. I could all but feel the silk of her skin…

“This is a little gross,” Emmett shook his head trying to clear the mental image.

Edward shifted uncomfortable with everyone hearing this

Her heartbeat stuttered, and her lips fell open.

"Sleep well," I whispered, and leaned away before the urgency in my body— either the familiar thirst or the very new and strange hunger I suddenly felt—could make me do something that might hurt her.

She sat there motionless for a moment, her eyes wide and stunned. Dazzled, I guessed.

As was I.

Bella blushed, this was so embarrassing but she was pleased all the same.

She recovered—though her face was still a bit bemused—and half fell out of the car, tripping over her feet and having to catch the frame of the car to right herself.

I chuckled—hopefully it was too quiet for her to hear.

I watched her stumble her way up to the pool of light that surrounded the front door. Safe for the moment. And I would be back soon to make sure.

“My big protector man,” Bella smiled and kissed her.

“And don’t you forget it,” Edward murmured into his neck.

I could feel her eyes follow me as I drove down the dark street. Such a different sensation than I was accustomed to. Usually, I could simply watch myself through someone's following eyes, were I of a mind to. This was strangely exciting—this intangible sensation of watching eyes. I knew it was just because they were her eyes.

A million thoughts chased each other through my head as I drove aimlessly into the night.

For a long time I circled through the streets, going nowhere, thinking of Bella and the incredible release of having the truth known. No longer did I have to dread that she would find out what I was. She knew. It didn't matter to her. Even though this was obviously a bad thing for her, it was amazingly liberating for me.

More than that, I thought of Bella and requited love. She couldn't love me the way I loved her—such an overpowering, all-consuming, crushing love would probably break her fragile body.

But she felt strongly enough. Enough to subdue the instinctive fear. Enough to want to be with me. And being with her was the greatest happiness I had ever known.

Bella was near tears with that one, “Thank you,” she whispered.

“It’s only the truth, no sensor,” Edward smiled at her kissing her neck and nuzzling her.

For a while—as I was all alone and hurting no one else for a change—I allowed myself to feel that happiness without dwelling on the tragedy. Just to be happy that she cared for me. Just to exult in the triumph of winning her affection. Just to imagine day after day of sitting close to her, hearing her voice and earning her smiles.

I replayed that smile in my head, seeing her full lips pull up at the corners, the hint of a dimple that touched her pointed chin, the way her eyes warmed and melted…

Her fingers had felt so warm and soft on my hand tonight. I imagined how it would feel to touch the delicate skin that stretched over her cheekbones—silky, warm…so fragile.

“Seriously this I don’t need to hear, Edward hor-“ Emmett groaned but was cut off.

“Shut-up,” Edward growled fiercely.

Silk over glass…frighteningly breakable.

I didn't see where my thoughts were leading until it was too late. As I dwelt on that devastating vulnerability, new images of her face intruded on my fantasies.

Lost in the shadows, pale with fear—yet her jaw tight and determined, her eyes fierce, full of concentration, her slim body braced to strike at the hulking forms that gathered around her, nightmares in the gloom…

"Ah," I groaned as the simmering hate that I'd all but forgotten in the joy of loving her burst again into an inferno of rage.

“Yes,” Rosalie said she was paying more attention now, “you don’t have any excuse now Edward.”

Edward ignored her, she would just have to live with what happened.

I was alone. Bella was, I trusted, safe inside her home; for a moment I was fiercely glad that Charlie Swan—head of the local law enforcement, trained and armed— was her father. That ought to mean something, provide some shelter for her.

She was safe. It would not take me so very long to avenge the insult…

No. She deserved better. I could not allow her to care for a murderer.

But…what about the others?

Bella was safe, yes. Angela and Jessica were also, surely, safe in their beds.

Yet a monster was loose in the streets of Port Angeles. A human monster—did that make him the humans' problem? To commit the murder I ached to commit was wrong. I knew that. But leaving him free to attack again could not be the right thing either.

The blond hostess from the restaurant. The waitress I'd never really looked at.

Both had irritated me in a trivial way, but that did not mean they deserved to be in danger.

Either one of them might be somebody's Bella.

“I am so proud of you,” Esme smiled at him she got and gave him a big hug, then turned and hugged Bella whispering in her ear how happy she was safe.

That realization decided me.

I turned the car north, accelerating now that I had a purpose. Whenever I had a problem that was beyond me—something tangible like this—I knew where I could go for help.

Alice was sitting on the porch, waiting for me. I pulled to a stop in front of the house rather than going around to the garage.

"Carlisle's in his study," Alice told me before I could ask.

"Thank you," I said, tousling her hair as I passed.

Thank you for returning my call, she thought sarcastically.

"Oh." I paused by the door, pulling out my phone and flipping it open. "Sorry. I didn't even check to see who it was. I was…busy."

"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry, too. By the time I saw what was going to happen, you were on your way."

"It was close," I murmured.

Sorry, she repeated, ashamed of herself.

“That wasn’t your fault, it was theirs, you can’t catch everything,” Bella reasoned.

Alice smiled at her, of course Bella would say that.

It was easy to be generous, knowing that Bella was fine. "Don't be. I know you can't catch everything. No one expects you to be omniscient, Alice."

"Thanks."

"I almost asked you out to dinner tonight—did you catch that before I changed my mind?"

She grinned. "No, I missed that one, too. Wish I'd known. I would have come."

"What were you concentrating on, that you missed so much?"

Jasper's thinking about our anniversary. She laughed. He's trying not to make a decision on my gift, but I think I have a pretty good idea…

Jasper glared at her, “You’re suck a little cheater.”

“Of course,” Alice snorted.

"You're shameless."

"Yep."

She pursed her lips, and stared up at me, a hint of accusation in her expression. I paid better attention later. Are you going to tell them that she knows?

“You could have given us a heads up,” Jasper groaned remembering the anger that had rolled off of them in painful waves that day.

“Sorry,” Edward sighed.

I sighed. "Yes. Later."

I won't say anything. Do me a favor and tell Rosalie when I'm not around, okay?

I flinched. "Sure."

Bella took it pretty well.

"Too well."

Alice grinned at me. Don't underestimate Bella.

I tried to block the image I didn't want to see— Bella and Alice, best of friends.

Impatient now, I sighed heavily. I wanted to be through with the next part of the evening; I wanted it over with. But I was a little worried to leave Forks…

"Alice…" I began. She saw what I was planning to ask.

She'll be fine tonight. I'm keeping a better watch now. She sort of needs twenty-four hour supervision, doesn't she?

“No, I was perfectly safe thank you,” Bella huffed.

“According to you,” Edward muttered too low for her.

"At least."

"Anyway, you'll be with her soon enough."

I took a deep breath. The words were beautiful to me.

"Go on—get this done so you can be where you want to be," she told me.

I nodded, and hurried up to Carlisle's room.

He was waiting for me, his eyes on the door rather than the thick book on his desk.

"I heard Alice tell you where to find me," he said, and smiled.

It was a relief to be with him, to see the empathy and deep intelligence in his eyes.

Carlisle bowed his head, “I was happy to be of help.”

Rosalie flinched , if Carlisle was involved she couldn’t be angry about how it was handled, she respected him too much.

Carlisle would know what to do.

"I need help."

"Anything, Edward," he promised.

"Did Alice tell you what happened to Bella tonight?"

Almost happened, he amended.

"Yes, almost. I've got a dilemma, Carlisle. You see, I want…very much…to kill him." The words started to flow fast and passionate. "So much. But I know that would be wrong, because it would be vengeance, not justice. All anger, no impartiality. Still, it can't be right to leave a serial rapist and killer wandering Port Angeles! I don't know the humans there, but I can't let someone else take Bella's place as his victim. Those other women—someone might feel about them the way I feel about Bella. Might suffer what I would have suffered if she'd been harmed. It's not right—"

His wide, unexpected smile stopped the rush of my words cold.

She's very good for you, isn't she? So much compassion, so much control. I'm impressed.

Bella blushed at that.

“He has been so amazingly compassionate since he met you, we are very proud,” Carlisle nodded at her.

"I'm not looking for compliments, Carlisle."

"Of course not. But I can't help my thoughts, can I?" He smiled again. "I'll take care of it. You can rest easy. No one else will be harmed in Bella's place."

I saw the plan in his head. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, it did not satisfy my craving for brutality, but I could see that it was the right thing.

"I'll show you where to find him," I said.

"Let's go."

Rosalie leaned forward to focus on how they handled it.

He grabbed his black bag on the way. I would have preferred a more aggressive form of sedation—like a cracked skull—but I would let Carlisle do this his way.

We took my car. Alice was still on the steps. She grinned and waved as we drove away. I saw that she had looked ahead for me; we would have no difficulties.

The trip was very short on the dark, empty road. I left off my headlights to keep from attracting attention. It made me smile to think how Bella would have reacted to this pace. I'd already been driving slower than usual—to prolong my time with her—when she'd objected.

Carlisle was thinking of Bella, too.

I didn't foresee that she would be so good for him. That's unexpected. Perhaps this was somehow meant to be. Perhaps it serves a higher purpose. Only…

He pictured Bella with snow cold skin and blood red eyes, and then flinched away from the image.

“That’s not going to happen,” Edward hissed.

Bella pointed to the books, “I think it will.”

Edward looked at them and groaned, he had to concede that it might.

Yes. Only. Indeed. Because how could there be any good in destroying something so pure and lovely?

I glowered into the night, all the joy of the evening destroyed by his thoughts.

Edward deserves happiness. He's owed it. The fierceness of Carlisle's thoughts surprised me. There must be a way.

“Theirs is absolutely a way,” Bella said sternly.

I wished I could believe that—either one. But there was no higher purpose to what was happening to Bella. Just a vicious harpy, an ugly, bitter fate who could not bear for Bella to have the life she deserved.

I did not linger in Port Angeles. I took Carlisle to the dive where the creature named Lonnie was drowning his disappointment with his friends—two of whom had already passed out. Carlisle could see how hard it was for me to be so close—for me to hear the monster's thoughts and see his memories, memories of Bella mixed in with less fortunate girls who no one could save now.

Rosalie growled at that, she should have handled it, he should have come to her.

“You know I couldn’t do that, Rosalie, you know what you have done,” Edward said to her, she ignored him.

My breathing sped. I clenched the steering wheel.

Go, Edward, he told me gently. I'll make the rest of them safe. You go back to Bella.

It was exactly the right thing to say. Her name was the only distraction that could mean anything to me now.

“Good,” Bella nodded, she didn’t want him to hurt anyone, she hoped Carlisle didn’t.

I left him in the car, and ran back to Forks in a straight line through the sleeping forest. It took less time than the first journey in the speeding car. It was just minutes later that I scaled the side of her house and slid her window out of my way.

I sighed silently with relief. Everything was just as it should be. Bella was safe in her bed, dreaming, her wet hair tangled like seaweed across the pillow.

But, unlike most nights, she was curled into a small ball with the covers stretched taut around her shoulders. Cold, I guessed. Before I could settle into my usual seat, she shivered in her sleep, and her lips trembled.

“It was really cold in my room that night,” Bella sighed.

“I fixed it for you,” Edward smiled.

“Of course he did, he was creeping on you. Why wouldn’t he make you comfortable while he was doing it,” Emmett laughed, Edward just ignored him.

I thought for a brief moment, and then I eased out into the hallway, exploring another part of her house for the first time.

Charlie's snores were loud and even.

I could almost catch the edge of his dream. Something with the rush of water and patient expectation…fishing, maybe?

There, at the top of the stairs, was a promising looking cupboard. I opened it hopefully, and found what I was looking for. I selected the thickest blanket from the tiny linen closet, and took it back into her room. I would return it before she woke, and no one would be the wiser.

“I probably would have just thought Charlie put it there,” Bella shrugged.

“I didn’t want to chance it,” Edward replied.

Holding my breath, I cautiously spread the blanket over her; she didn't react to the added weight. I returned to the rocking chair.

While I waited anxiously for her to warm up, I thought of Carlisle, wondering where he was now. I knew his plan would go smoothly—Alice had seen that.

Thinking of my father made me sigh—Carlisle gave me too much credit. I wished I was the person he thought me to be. That person, the one who deserved happiness, might hope to be worthy of this sleeping girl. How different things would be if I could be that Edward.

“You are that Edward,” Bella, Carlisle, and Esme huffed. Edward just looked away flushed.

As I pondered this, a strange, uncalled image filled my head.

For one moment, the hag-faced fate I'd imagined, the one who sought Bella's destruction, was replaced by the most foolish and reckless of angels. A guardian angel— something Carlisle's version of me might have had. With a heedless smile on her lips, her sky-colored eyes full of mischief, the angel formed Bella in such a fashion that there was no way that I could possibly overlook her. A ridiculously potent scent to demand my attention, a silent mind to enflame my curiosity, a quiet beauty to hold my eyes, a selfless soul to earn my awe. Leave out the natural sense of self-preservation—so that Bella could bear to be near me—and, finally, add a wide streak of appallingly bad luck.

‘Thanks,” Bella growled at him.

“NO ONE said you all needed to read my thoughts,” Edward grumbled annoyed.

With a careless laugh, the irresponsible angel propelled her fragile creation directly into my path, trusting blithely in my flawed morality to keep Bella alive.

In this vision, I was not Bella's sentence; she was my reward.

Bella smiled and kissed Edward cheek, “I like this vision, you should have it more often.”

“I knew you would,” Edward smirked.

I shook my head at the fantasy of the unthinking angel. She was not much better than the harpy. I could not think well of a higher power that would behave in such a dangerous and stupid manner. At least the ugly fate I could fight against.

And I had no angel. They were reserved for the good—for people like Bella. So where was her angel through all this? Who was watching over her?

I laughed silently, startled, as I realized that, just now, I was filling that role.

A vampire angel—there was a stretch.

“Nope there are even shows like that, it’s called ‘Angel’,” Bella smiled, "with this hot guy named David Boreanaz playing a vampire named angel who saves people.”

“What do you mean hot?” Edward growled.

“Oh yeah I’ve seen that show,” Alice said snapping her finger.

“I repeat, what do you mean hot?” Edward yelled.

“Oh let it go,” Bella said rolling her eyes, Edward continued to glare at her.

After about a half hour, Bella relaxed out of the tight ball. Her breathing got deeper and she started to murmur. I smiled, satisfied. It was a small thing, but at least she was sleeping more comfortably tonight because I was here.

"Edward," she sighed, and she smiled, too.

I shoved tragedy aside for the moment, and let myself be happy again.

“Now that’s more like it,” Bella smiled.

“That’s the end of that chapter thank god,” Edward passed the book off.

“I’ll read,” Emmett grabbed it.

“Oh Lord,” Edward groaned.