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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:


7. Melody

Rating 0/5   Word Count 8586   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.

Melody

"Melody." Alice read.

I had to wait when I got back to school . The final hour wasn't out yet. That was good, because I had things to think about and I needed the alone time.

Her scent lingered in the car. I kept the windows up, letting it assault me, trying to get used to the feel of intentionally torching my throat.

Attraction.

Bella blushed; she was attracted to Edward all right. There was no denying that. Jasper smirked over at Bella feeling her embarrassment.

It was a problematic thing to contemplate. So many sides to it, so many different meanings and levels. Not the same thing as love, but tied up in it inextricably.

I had no idea if Bella was attracted to me. (Would her mental silence somehow continue to get more and more frustrating until I went mad? Or was there a limit that I would eventually reach?)

Edward chuckled looking at Bella, “Yes, it will drive me crazy. I doubt there’s a limit I will ever hit that will cure me.”

Bella rolled her eyes, then gave Edward a serious look, “Edward, you read everyone’s mind all the time, you get shoved their hopes dreams fears and fantasies constantly. You get no peace for yourself, and no surprises. If anything, I would think you would love that my mind is silent, for once you get some peace and quiet, and I can surprise and show you new things that others can’t.”

Edward just looked at Bella thoughtfully. He had never thought of it this way, is was rather peaceful, when they were alone, that there was just silence and he could enjoy her company more with constantly hearing chatter. But, at the same time she was the only person he actually wanted to hear the thoughts of. So it was sort of a toss-up at best between peaceful and annoying.

I tried to compare her physical responses to others, like the secretary and Jessica Stanley, but the comparison was inconclusive. The same markers—changes in heart rate and breathing patterns—could just as easily mean fear or shock or anxiety as they did interest. It seemed unlikely that Bella could be entertaining the same kinds of thoughts that Jessica Stanley used to have.

Bella whole face from the hollow of her throat to her hair line burst out in flames.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that Eddie boy,” Emmett said howling with laughter at Bella’s expression. Edward tried to look at Bella then but she pointedly avoided his gaze making him chuckle.

“Don’t feel embarrassed,” Edward said kissing her flaming cheek, “we don’t even want to get into how attracted I am to you. And my attraction didn’t even completely involve your blood.”

Bella flushed at his words and kiss him on the cheek.

After all, Bella knew very well that there was something wrong with me, even if she didn't know what exactly it was. She had touched my icy skin , and then yanked her hand away from the chill.

Bella shook her head frowning at him, “It wasn’t the chill Edward.”

“It wasn’t,” Edward replied confused.

“Of course not,” Bella rolled her eyes, “yeah your hands were cold, but I yanked my hand away because the second we touched this electric current jolted between you and me. Didn’t you feel it?”

“I did, I just thought it was in my mind,” Edward said looking intently at me. From across the room Carlisle was looking curiously at Bella. Edward met his stare, raising his eyebrows.

“What’s that, Carlisle?” Edward asked furrowing his eyebrows at his thoughts.

“Nothing, yet anyway,” Carlisle smiled warmly looking between Bella and Esme curiously.

And yet…as I remembered those fantasies that used to repulse me, but remembered them with Bella in Jessica's place…

I was breathing more quickly, the fire clawing up and down my throat.

What if it had been Bella imagining me with my arms wrapped around her fragile body? Feeling me pull her tightly against my chest and then cupping my hand under her chin? Brushing the heavy curtain of her hair back from her blushing face? Tracing the shape of her full lips with my fingertips? Leaning my face closer to hers, where I could feel the heat of her breath on my mouth? Moving closer still…

Bella was clenching her jaw in an effort not to groan out loud at his thoughts. Edward smiled down at her leaning trailing his nose from her ear, to her jaw line, down her neck. Making her shiver. Bella opened her eyes hungrily leaning into him pressing their lips together. His hand slipping lightly under her shirt, making her groan into his mouth, they had completely forgotten about the family watching; that was until they heard Emmett roaring with laughter.

“Hey, keep it PG over there,” He chuckled, “at worst NC17, no rated R. And we definitely don’t want to see ADULT, not that Eddie over there would ever go that far.”

He smirked at Edward causing him to growl at Emmett. Bella blushed and hid in Edward shoulder.

But then I flinched away from the daydream, knowing, as I had known when Jessica had imagined these things, what would happen if I got that close to her.

Attraction was an impossible dilemma, because I was already too attracted to Bella in the worst way.

Did I want Bella to be attracted to me, a woman to a man?

“More than anything,” He whispered in her ear.

That was the wrong question. The right question was should I want Bella to be attracted to me that way, and that answer was no. Because I was not a human man, and that wasn't fair to her.

“How is that not fair to me?” Bella scoffed annoyed. Edward merely shrugged not wanting to fight over it; he knew she wouldn’t agree with his reasoning.

With every fiber of my being, I ached to be a normal man, so that I could hold her in my arms without risking her life. So that I could be free to spin my own fantasies, fantasies that didn't end in with her blood on my hands, her blood glowing in my eyes.

My pursuit of her was indefensible. What kind of relationship could I offer her, when I couldn't risk touching her?

I hung my head in my hands.

Bella took Edwards hands and kissed each finger, then lightly laid it on her chest, over her heart, “Then we will just have to work on this whole not-touching thing, now won’t we.”

Edward smiled nodding, “I think we’ve done pretty good so far.”

It was all the more confusing because I had never felt so human in my whole life—not even when I was human, as far as I could recall. When I had been human, my thoughts had all been turned to a soldier's glory. The Great War

had raged through most of my adolescence, and I'd been only nine months away from my eighteenth birthday when the influenza had struck… I had just vague impressions of those human years, murky memories that faded more with every passing decade. I remembered my mother most clearly, and felt an ancient ache when I thought of her face.

Bella leaned forward interested and sad. Sad because of his dim memories of his mother, but interested because she got to delve into his past a little.

“I’m fine,” Edward said seeing her worried, sad face looking at the book intently.

I recalled dimly how much she had hated the future I'd raced eagerly toward, praying every night when she said grace at dinner that the "horrid war" would end… I had no memories of another kind of yearning. Besides my mother's love, there was no other love that had made me wish to stay…

This was entirely new to me. I had no parallels to draw, no comparisons to make.

The love I felt for Bella had come purely, but now the waters were muddied. I wanted very much to be able to touch her. Did she feel the same way?

“Yes,” Bella said looking him in the eyes, her voice ringing with sincerity, “I wanted to hold your hand, and kiss you. I wanted you to hold me, I wasn’t afraid, I could never be afraid of you.”

Edward smiled then kissed her lightly weaving their hands together, and slipping his other hand around her waist. “Is this better, Mrs. Swan?”

“Much,” Bella sighed completely content.

That didn't matter, I tried to convince myself.

I stared at my white hands, hating their hardness, their coldness, their inhuman strength…

I jumped when the passenger door opened.

Ha. Caught you by surprise. There's a first, Emmett thought as he slid into the seat.

“Are you ever in a bad mood Emmett, have you ever been in a bad mood in your entire existence, other than when Edward so-called cheats?” Bella smirked.

Emmett looked at the ceiling thoughtfully trying to recall a time.

Jasper laughed answering for him, “No, irritated maybe. Even a little worried at times, but in a completely bad mood. Never.”

"I'll bet Mrs. Goff thinks you're on drugs, you've been so erratic lately. Where were you today?"

"I was…doing good deeds."

Huh?

I chuckled. "Caring for the sick, that kind of thing."

That confused him more,

but then he inhaled and caught the scent in the car.

"Oh. The girl again?"

I grimaced.

This is getting weird.

"Tell me about it," I mumbled.

He inhaled again. "Hmm, she does have a quite a flavor, doesn't she?"

The snarl broke through my lips before his words had even registered all the way, an automatic response.

“Edward,” Bella exclaimed rolling her eyes. “You’re too protective, he wouldn’t do anything.”

“I know he wouldn’t,” Edward sighed, then looked seriously down at Bella, “but as far as me being over-protective goes, there’s no such thing, not with you.”

“And you better get used to it,” Alice snickered.

"Easy, kid, I'm just sayin.'"

The others arrived then. Rosalie noticed the scent at once and glowered at me, still not over her irritation. I wondered what her problem was, but all I could hear from her were insults.

I didn't like Jasper's reaction, either. Like Emmett, he noticed Bella's appeal.

Not that the scent had, for either of them, a thousandth portion of the draw it had for me.

I was still upset me that her blood was sweet to them. Jasper had poor control…

Alice shot a glare at Edward who sighed again, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that, my mind was just in protective mode.”

“I understand,” Jasper said sending him waves of peace.

Alice skipped to my side of the car and held her hand out for Bella's truck key.

"I only saw that I was," she said—obscurely, as was her habit. "You'll have to tell me the whys."

"This doesn't mean—"

"I know, I know. I'll wait. It won't be long."

I sighed and gave her the key.

“It’s not that horrible of a thought Edward seriously,” Bella huffed annoyed.

Alice smirked at Edward sticking her tongue out at him, “told you so.”

“You, sometimes I forget that you are supposed to be really old by now, for you act like a seven year old,” Edward teased, Alice hissed menacingly at him.

I followed her to Bella's house. The rain was pounding down like a million tiny hammers, so loud that maybe Bella's human ears couldn't hear the thunder of the truck's engine. I watched her window, but she didn't come to look out. Maybe she wasn't there.

“I was there,” Bella shrugged, “I was surprised when I didn’t hear the car. I looked out my window and suddenly it was there. I had wanted to say thank you and see you again.”

“Sorry,” Edward chuckled kissing her forehead.

Alice wined at Bella, “your welcome.”

There were no thoughts to hear.

It made me sad that I couldn't hear enough even to check on her—to make sure she was happy, or safe, at the least.

“I was fine,” Bella shook her head smiling at him. She could never get over how protective he was of her. It made her smile.

Alice climbed in the back and we sped home. The roads were empty, and so it only took a few minutes. We trooped into the house, and then went to our various pastimes.

Emmett and Jasper were in the middle of an elaborate game of chess, utilizing eight joined boards—spread out along the glass back wall—and their own complicated set of rules.

They wouldn't let me play; only Alice would play games with me anymore.

“I love watching you all play, it’s very fascinating,” Bella murmured in awe.

Edward laughed at her excited expression, “You sound like Carlisle when he gets a new theory.”

Carlisle chuckled nodding his head at Bella.

Alice went to her computer just around the corner from them and I could hear her monitors sing to life. Alice was working on a fashion design project for Rosalie's wardrobe, but Rosalie did not join her today, to stand behind her and direct cut and color as Alice's hand traced over the touch sensitive screens (Carlisle and I had had to tweak that system a bit, given that most such screens responded to temperature).

Instead, today Rosalie sprawled sullenly on the sofa and started flipping through twenty channels a second on the flat screen, never pausing. I could hear her trying to decide whether or not to go out to the garage and tune her BMW again.

Esme was upstairs, humming over a new set of blue prints.

“Oh,” Bella said looking up, “was that for the greenhouse you built?”

“Yes, now my roses are safe form all the rain and snow,” Esme beamed looking outside at gthe structure.

Alice leaned her head around the wall after a moment and started mouthing Emmett's next moves—Emmett sat on the floor with his back to her—to Jasper, who kept his expression very smooth as he cut off Emmett's favorite knight.

And I, for the first time in so long that I felt ashamed, went to sit at the exquisite grand piano stationed just off the entryway.

“I’m sorry I kept you from your music,” Bella frowned.

“Nonsense,” Edward shook his head, and then leaned down to the hollow beneath her ear, whispering softly, “you’re my muse.”

Bella sighed, her eyes rolling back into her head in pleasure as his cool breath assaulted her skin and penetrated her brain with it glorious scent.

I ran my hand gently up the scales, testing the pitch. The tuning was still perfect.

Upstairs, Esme paused what she was doing and cocked her head to the side.

I began the first line of the tune that had suggested itself to me in the car today, pleased that it sounded even better than I'd imagined.

Edward is playing again, Esme thought joyously,

a smile breaking across her face. She got up from her desk, and flitted silently to the head of the stairs.

I added a harmonizing line, letting the central melody weave through it.

Esme sighed with contentment, sat down on the top step, and leaned her head against the banister. A new song. It's been so long. What a lovely tune.

I let the melody lead in a new direction, following it with the bass line.

Edward is composing again? Rosalie thought, and her teeth clenched together in fierce resentment.

Bella furrowed her eyes at Rosalie; she couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t like Edward playing. After all it didn’t have anything to do with her.

Rosalie just avoided her gaze by clenching her teeth and snuggling into Emmett. She had hoped this wouldn’t have been in the books.

In that moment, she slipped, and I could read all her underlying outrage. I saw why she was in such a poor temper with me. Why killing Isabella Swan had not bothered her conscience at all.

With Rosalie, it was always about vanity.

The music came to an abrupt halt, and I laughed before I could help myself, a sharp bark of amusement that broke off quickly as I threw my hand over my mouth.

Rosalie turned to glare at me, her eyes sparking with chagrined fury.

“Edward don’t laugh at your sister,” Esme chided.

“Sorry,” Edward said trying his hardest not to do so again. Emmett grumbled at him, he had asked Edward what was up with Rose and Edward had refused to tell him, he was happy that he finally got to know.

“It wasn’t that serious, Emmett, honestly,” Edward said rolling his eyes at his brothers thoughts.

Emmett and Jasper turned to stare, too, and I heard Esme's confusion. Esme was downstairs in a flash, pausing to glance between Rosalie and me.

"Don't stop, Edward," Esme encouraged after a strained moment.

I started playing again, turning my back on Rosalie while trying very hard to control the grin stretching across my face. She got to her feet and stalked out of the room, more angry than embarrassed. But certainly quite embarrassed.

If you say anything I will hunt you like a dog.

I smothered another laugh.

“Edward,” Bella sighed this time, hitting him lightly on the chest. Though she had to admit, she was intrigued herself about what could be on Rosalie’s mind.

"What's wrong, Rose?" Emmett called after her. Rosalie didn't turn. She continued, back ramrod straight, to the garage and then squirmed under her car as if she could bury herself there.

"What's that about?" Emmett asked me.

"I don't have the faintest idea," I lied.

Emmett grumbled, frustrated.

Emmett shot Edward another dirty look.

Bella interrupted him, “Edward doesn’t like telling people other’s thoughts. He feels like he invading their right to privacy, that’s all.”

Emmett muttered something else under his breath but let it go. Edward smiled down at Bella kissing her lightly on the lips.

"Keep playing," Esme urged. My hands had paused again.

I did as she asked, and she came to stand behind me, putting her hands on my shoulders.

The song was compelling, but incomplete. I toyed with a bridge, but it didn't seem right somehow.

"It's charming. Does it have a name?" Esme asked.

"Not yet."

"Is there a story to it?" she asked, a smile in her voice. This gave her very great pleasure, and I felt guilty for having neglected my music for so long. It had been selfish.

“What was the story?” Bella asked intrigued.

Edward just smiled at Bella looking at her for a while, knowing what song it was, “you’ll see, it’s a very special, dear to my heart.”

Esme and Alice smiled at that.

"It's…a lullaby, I suppose." I got the bridge right then. It led easily to the next movement, taking on a life of its own.

"A lullaby," she repeated to herself.

There was a story to this melody, and once I saw that, the pieces fell into place effortlessly. The story was a sleeping girl in a narrow bed, dark hair thick and wild and twisted like seaweed across the pillow…

“It’s my lullaby,” Bella smiled, she nuzzled into Edward’s neck and looked at the book intently, intrigued to hear how he composed it.

Alice left Jasper to his own devices and came to sit next to me on the bench. In her trilling, wind chime voice, she sketched out a wordless descant two octaves above the melody.

"I like it," I murmured. "But how about this?"

I added her line to the harmony—my hands were flying across the keys now to work all the pieces together—modifying it a bit, taking it in a new direction…

She caught the mood, and sung along.

"Yes. Perfect," I said.

“Do you two always composed music together?” Bella asked.

“Sometimes, mostly Edward does the composing and I just sing along,” Alice smiled.

Esme squeezed my shoulder.

But I could see the end now, with Alice's voice rising above the tune and taking it to another place. I could see how the song must end, because the sleeping girl was perfect just the way she was, and any change at all would be wrong, a sadness.

“Or an intriguing addition to the peace, something to make the sleeping even more happy than she already was,” Bella countered smiling.

“Perhaps,” Edward agreed nodding, if he stayed strong and kept her safe, maybe she was right.

The song drifted toward that realization, slower and lower now. Alice's voice lowered, too, and became solemn, a tone that belonged under the echoing arches of a candlelit cathedral.

I played the last note, and then bowed my head over the keys.

Esme stroked my hair. It's going to be fine, Edward. This is going to work out for the best. You deserve happiness, my son. Fate owes you that.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Bella nodded.

"Thanks," I whispered, wishing I could believe it.

Love doesn't always come in convenient packages.

I laughed once without humor.

You, out of everyone on this planet, are perhaps best equipped to deal with such a difficult quandary. You are the best and the brightest of us all.

I sighed. Every mother thought the same of her son.

Esme was still full of joy that my heart had finally been touched after all this time, no matter the potential for tragedy. She'd thought I would always be alone…

She'll have to love you back, she thought suddenly, catching me by surprise with the direction of her thoughts. If she's a bright girl.

“Yep, you would have to be blind not to see all the wonder and beauty in Edward,” Bella smiled.

Edward rolled his eyes; she always thought more of him than he did of himself.

She smiled. But I can't imagine anyone being so slow they wouldn't see the catch you are.

"Stop it, Mom, you're making me blush," I teased. Her words, though improbable, did cheer me.

Alice laughed and picked out the top hand of "Heart and Soul." I grinned and completed the simple harmony with her. Then I favored her with a performance of "Chopsticks."

She giggled, then sighed. "So I wish you'd tell me what you were laughing at Rose about," Alice said. "But I can see that you won't."

Bella laughed at that, she loved it when Alice and Edward like this. Sometimes she forgot that they aren’t really brother and sister, if you didn’t know any better you would swear they were.

"Nope."

She flicked my ear with her finger.

"Be nice, Alice," Esme chided. "Edward is being a gentleman."

"But I want to know."

“Oh well, you can be clueless like the rest of us,” Emmett grumbled at her.

“Don’t be bitter, it doesn’t suit you,” Alice trilled sticking out her tiny tongue at him.

I laughed at the whining tone she put on. Then I said, "Here, Esme," and began playing her favorite song, an unnamed tribute to the love I'd watched between her and Carlisle for so many years.

Esme smiled at him, then got up and kissed him on the cheek.

“You’re too kind son,” Carlisle smiled his voice thick with his feelings of gratitude and affection for his first “son” of sorts.

"Thank you, dear." She squeezed my shoulder again.

I didn't have to concentrate to play the familiar piece. Instead I thought of Rosalie, still figuratively writhing in mortification in the garage, and I grinned to myself.

Having just discovered the potency of jealousy for myself, I had a small amount of pity for her. It was a wretched way to feel. Of course, her jealously was a thousand times more petty than mine. Quite the fox in the manger scenario.

“Edward, not everyone’s feelings are petty in comparison with yours,” Bella huffed annoyed.

Edward sighed and rubbed her back gently. She was right of course, she was always right, but this time he truly had believed it was a bit more petty.

I wondered how Rosalie's life and personality would have been different if she had not always been the most beautiful. Would she have been a happier person if beauty hadn't at all times been her strongest selling point? Less egocentric? More compassionate? Well, I supposed it was useless to wonder, because the past was done, and she always had been the most beautiful. Even when human, she had ever lived in the spotlight of her own loveliness. Not that she'd minded. The opposite—she'd loved admiration above almost anything else. That hadn't changed with the loss of her mortality.

It was no surprise then, taking this need as a given, that she'd been offended when I had not, from the beginning, worshiped her beauty the way she expected all males to worship.

Not that she'd wanted me in any way—far from it. But it had aggravated her that I did not want her, despite that. She was used to being wanted.

Emmett burst out laughing at that earning him a glare and a smack in the head from Rosalie.

It was different with Jasper and Carlisle—they were already both in love. I was completely unattached, and yet still remained obstinately unmoved.

I'd thought that old resentment was buried. That she was long passed it.

And she had been…until the day that I finally found someone whose beauty touched me the way hers had not.

Rosalie had relied on the belief that if I did not find her beauty worth worshipping, then certainly there was no beauty on earth that would reach me. She'd been furious since the moment I'd saved Bella's life, guessing, with her shrewd female intuition, the interest that I was all but unconscious of myself.

Rosalie was mortally offended that I found some insignificant human girl more appealing than her.

Bella sighed she couldn’t help but agree a little bit with Rosalie, she wasn’t nearly as beautiful or intriguing as her, his attraction to her was just as much a mystery to her as it was to Rosalie.

Edward growled at Bella sensing her thoughts on the subject, “You are so absurd sometimes; you have no clue how amazing you are. None what-so-ever.”

Bella shrugged, she still thought she was right. Edward sighed, why did Bella have to be so oblivious to her own perfection, he couldn’t understand it.

I suppressed the urge to laugh again.

It bothered me some, though, the way she saw Bella. Rosalie actually thought the girl was plain. How could she believe that?

Bella was about to respond but Edward put his hand over her mouth and whispered in her ear, “Absurd.”

Bella rolled her eyes at huffed at him when he released her smirking.

It seemed incomprehensible to me. A product of the jealousy, no doubt.

"Oh!" Alice said abruptly. "Jasper, guess what?"

I saw what she'd just seen, and my hands froze on the keys.

"What, Alice?" Jasper asked.

"Peter and Charlotte are coming to visit next week! They're going to be in the neighborhood, isn't that nice?"

"What's wrong, Edward?" Esme asked, feeling the tension in my shoulders.

"Peter and Charlotte are coming to Forks?" I hissed at Alice

She rolled her eyes at me. "Calm down, Edward. It's not their first visit."

My teeth clenched together. It was their first visit since Bella had arrived, and her sweet blood didn't appeal just to me.

“Edward,” Alice groaned rolling her eyes.

Edward held up his hand, silencing her, “One word, James.”

Everyone’s eyes darkened at the reminder of that. No one had any counter argument to that, he had them there.

Alice frowned at my expression. "They never hunt here. You know that."

But Jasper's brother of sorts

and the little vampire he loved were not like us; they hunted the usual way. They could not be trusted around Bella.

Bella shivered involuntarily at that. Edward kissed her cheek and held her tightly to him, comforting her gently.

"When?" I demanded.

She pursed her lips unhappily, but told me what I needed to know. Monday morning. No one is going to hurt Bella.

"No," I agreed, and then turned away from her. "You ready, Emmett?"

"I thought we were leaving in the morning?"

"We're coming back by midnight Sunday. I guess it's up to you when you want to leave."

"Okay, fine. Let me say goodbye to Rose first."

"Sure." With the mood Rosalie was in, it would be a short goodbye.

You really have lost it, Edward, he thought as he headed toward the back door.

Bella looked at Emmett annoyed, “Why does he have to be crazy to worry and care about me?”

Emmett just chuckled and shrugged, “I just wasn’t use to it, and this was a completely new Edward. A slightly grumpier, prudish Edward, with hormonal issues.”

Edward growled at him while Bella blushed.

"I suppose I have."

"Play the new song for me, one more time," Esme asked.

"If you'd like that," I agreed, though I was a little hesitant to follow the tune to its unavoidable end—the end that had set me aching in unfamiliar ways. I thought for a moment, and then pulled the bottle cap from my pocket and set it on the empty music stand. That helped a bit—my little memento of her yes.

Bella smiled up at Edward and whispered a yes into his ear. Edward shook and had to composed himself for a second.

I nodded to myself, and started playing.

Esme and Alice exchanged a glance, but neither one asked.

"Hasn't anyone ever told you not to play with your food?" I called to Emmett.

"Oh, hey Edward!" he shouted back, grinning and waving at me. The bear took advantage of his distraction to rake its heavy paw across Emmett's chest. The sharp claws shredded through his shirt, and squealed across his skin.

The bear bellowed at the high-pitched noise.

Aw hell, Rose gave me this shirt!

Rosalie glared at Emmett who put her face in his hands, “have I ever told you how beautiful and amazing you are?”

Rosalie rolled her eyes and huffed at him as everyone else laughed.

Emmett roared back at the enraged animal.

I sighed and sat down on a convenient boulder. This might take awhile.

But Emmett was almost done. He let the bear try to take his head off with another swipe of the paw, laughing as the blow bounced off and sent the bear staggering back.

The bear roared and Emmett roared again through his laughter. Then he launched himself at the animal, who stood a head taller than him on its hind legs, and their bodies fell to the ground tangled up together, taking a mature spruce tree down with them. The bear's growls cut off with a gurgle.

A few minutes later, Emmett jogged over to where I was waiting for him. His shirt was destroyed, torn and bloodied, sticky with sap and covered in fur. His dark curly hair wasn't in much better shape. He had a huge grin on his face.

"That was a strong one. I could almost feel it when he clawed me."

"You're such a child, Emmett."

He eyed my smooth, clean white button-down. "Weren't you able to track down that mountain lion, then?"

"Of course I was. I just don't eat like a savage."

Emmett laughed his booming laugh. "I wish they were stronger. It would be more fun."

"No one said you had to fight your food."

“That’s all the fun dear brother,” Emmett smirked. Jasper and Edward rolled their eyes at him.

"Yeah, but who else am I going to fight with? You and Alice cheat, Rose never wants to get her hair messed up, and Esme gets mad if Jasper and I really go at it."

“Because it’s ridiculous,” Esme muttered.

"Life is hard all around, isn't it?"

Emmett grinned at me, shifting his weight a bit so that he was suddenly poised to take a charge.

"C'mon Edward. Just turn it off for one minute and fight fair."

"It doesn't turn off," I reminded him.

"Wonder what that human girl does to keep you out?" Emmett mused. "Maybe she could give me some pointers."

“Well,” Bella said chuckling, “maybe if you guard your mind and put walls up he won’t be able to see inside.”

Edward rolled his eyes as Emmett thought of the Great Wall of China to block him out.

“Nice visual,” Edward smirked and Emmett growled annoyed at him.

My good humor vanished. "Stay away from her," I growled through my teeth.

"Touchy, touchy."

I sighed. Emmett came to sit beside me on the rock.

"Sorry. I know you're going through a tough spot. I really am trying to not be too much of an insensitive jerk, but, since that's sort of my natural state…"

He waited for me to laugh at his joke, and then made a face.

So serious all the time. What's bugging you now?

"Thinking about her. Well, worrying, really."

"What's there to worry about? You are here." He laughed loudly.

I ignored his joke again, but answered his question. "Have you ever thought about how fragile they all are? How many bad things there are that can happen to a mortal?"

“Edward,” Bella groaned, “and you call me absurd!”

“I can’t help it, not when it comes to you,” Edward said looking deep into her eyes destroying her concentration.

"Not really. I guess I see what you mean, though. I wasn't much match for a bear that first time around, was I?"

"Bears," I muttered, adding a new fear to the pile.

Bella rolled her eyes, yeah, bears, that sound reasonable and sane. Not.

"That would be just her luck, wouldn't it? Stray bear in town. Of course it would head straight for Bella."

Bella glared at him, and he hid in her hair.

Emmett chuckled. "You sound like a crazy person, do you know that?"

"Just imagine for one minute that Rosalie was human, Emmett. And she could run into a bear…or get hit by a car…or lighteningor fall down stairs…or get sick—get a disease!" The words burst from me stormily. It was a relief to let them out—they'd been festering inside me all weekend.

"Fires and earthquakes and tornados! Ugh! When's the last time you watched the news? Have you seen the kinds of things that happen to them? Burglaries and homicides…" My teeth clenched together, and I was abruptly so infuriated by the idea of another human hurting her that I couldn't breathe.

Bella sighed, “I’m sorry I worry you so much.”

“I prefer it that way,” Edward smiled.

"Whoa, whoa! Hold up, there, kid. She lives in Forks, remember? So she gets rained on." He shrugged.

"I think she has some serious bad luck, Emmett, I really do. Look at the evidence. Of all the places in the world she could go, she ends up in a town where vampires make up a significant portion of the population."

"Yeah, but we're vegetarians. So isn't that good luck, not bad?"

“Yes,” Bella agreed, Edward rolled his eyes.

"With the way she smells? Definitely bad. And then, more bad luck, the way she smells to me." I glowered at my hands, hating them again.

"Except that you have more self-control than just about anyone but Carlisle. Good luck again."

"The van?"

"That was just an accident."

"You should have seen it coming for her, Em, again and again. I swear, it was like she had some kind of magnetic pull."

"But you were there. That was good luck."

"Was it? Isn't this the worst luck any human could ever possibly have—to have a vampire fall in love with them?"

I think so,” Bella muttered.

“I know you do,” Edward grumbled.

Emmett considered that quietly for a moment. He pictured the girl in his head, and found the image uninteresting. Honestly, I can't really see the draw.

Bella sighed at that, of course he didn’t, she didn’t for that matter. No matter what he said.

“Don’t listen to him, he can’t see you the way I do,” Edward said when he noticed her expression.

Emmett smiled and winked at Bella apologetically, “You’re awesome Bells, I didn’t mean anything by that.”

“It’s fine Emmett honestly,” Bella smiled back sincerely.

"Well, I can't really see Rosalie's allure, either," I said rudely. "Honestly, she seems like more work than any pretty face is worth."

Rosalie glared at Edward.

Emmett chuckled. "I don't suppose you'd tell me…"

"I don't know what her problem is, Emmett," I lied with a sudden, wide grin.

I saw his intent in time to brace myself. He tried to shove me off the rock, and there was a loud cracking sound as a fissure opened in the stone between us.

“Cheater,” Emmett groaned.

Alice laughed when she read the next line.

"Cheater," he muttered.

I waited for him to try another time, but his thoughts took a different direction.

He was picturing Bella's face again, but imagining it whiter, imagining her eyes bright red…

No," I said, my voice strangled.

"It solves your worries about mortality, doesn't it? And then you wouldn't want to kill her, either. Isn't that the best way?"

Bella wanted to agree but Edwards eyes were on her so she kept her face blank as Alice read.

"For me? Or for her?"

"For you," he answered easily. His tone added the of course.

I laughed humorlessly. "Wrong answer."

"I didn't mind so much," he reminded me.

"Rosalie did."

Rosalie looked down at that, and then a softness Bella hardly ever saw on her face appeared. It was as breathtakingly beautiful as always, when it comes to Rosalie’s face anyway. Bella found herself fascinated by her sadness and had an ache to comfort her, though she knew Rosalie wouldn’t like it. Jasper smiled and wink at her sending waves a peace across the room. I mouthed a thank you at him and Edward smiled.

He sighed. We both knew that Rosalie would do anything, give up anything, if it meant she could be human again. Even Emmett.

"Yeah, Rose did," he acquiesced quietly.

"I can't… I shouldn't… I'm not going to ruin Bella's life. Wouldn't you feel the same, if it were Rosalie?"

Emmett thought about that for a moment. You really…love her?

"I can't even describe it, Emmett. All of a sudden, this girl's the whole world to me. I don't see the point of the rest of the world without her anymore."

Bella kissed Edward jaw softly, he groaned and brought his lips to hers.

“I only spoke the truth you know,” Edward said against her lips.

“I feel the same,” Bella sighed trying her hardest to remember how to breath, she knew it involved sucking air into her lungs, she just couldn’t quite manage to send the message to her brain. Edward pulled away from her and chuckled.

But you won't change her? She won't last forever, Edward.

"I know that," I groaned.

And, as you've pointed out, she's sort of breakable.

"Trust me—that I know, too."

Emmett was not a tactful person, and delicate discussions were not his forte. He struggled now, wanting very much not to be offensive.

Can you even touch her? I mean, if you love her…wouldn't you want to, well touch her…?

Emmett and Rosalie shared an intensely physical love. He had a hard time understanding how one could love, without that aspect.

If Edward and Emmett could have blushed they would have. Rosalie smirked at Emmett and kissed his cheek murmuring something into his ear that made his face lite up, Bella was sure she didn’t want to know what it was.

Edward frowned, he would give anything to be able to be with Bella in that way, but he wouldn’t dare, she was far too delicate and fragile, plus he was a gentlemen. But that was a whole different story he couldn’t think about at this morning.

I sighed. "I can't even think of that, Emmett."

Wow. So what are your options, then?

"I don't know," I whispered. "I'm trying to figure out a way to…to leave her. I just can't fathom how to make myself stay away…"

Bella put her head down, “Edward?”

“Yes Bella,” Edward sighed looking at her warily, wondering as always what was on her mind.

“Why do you believe that leaving me is the only option we have? Why does that always have to be the only way? Are you tired of me, would rather not have to deal with me for any longer than this?” Bella said her voice getting quieter and quieter as she questioned him. The next thing she knew Edward’s lips were on hers.

“I just want you to be safe Bella, and if leaving you is the only way to make that possible then I’ll do it,” Edward sighed.

“Then I would rather not be safe,” Bella whispered. Edward looking at her for a long time, how could he do something he never wanted to do, it would be impossible, he just wasn’t strong enough.

With a deep sense of gratification, I suddenly realized that it was right for me to stay—at least for now, with Peter and Charlotte on their way. She was safer with me here, temporarily, than she would be if I were gone. For the moment, I could be her unlikely protector.

The thought made me anxious; I itched to be back so that I could fill that role for as long as possible.

“Good,” Bella smiled kissing him. Edward chuckled at her silliness.

Emmett noticed the change in my expression. What are you thinking about?

"Right now," I admitted a bit sheepishly, "I'm dying to run back to Forks and check on her. I don't know if I'll make it till Sunday night."

"Uh-uh! You are not going home early. Let Rosalie cool down a little bit. Please! For my sake."

"I'll try to stay," I said doubtfully.

Emmett tapped the phone in my pocket. "Alice would call if there were any basis for your panic attack. She's as weird about this girl as you are."

I grimaced at that. "Fine. But I'm not staying past Sunday."

"There's no point in hurrying back—it's going to be sunny, anyway. Alice said we were free from school until Wednesday."

I shook my head rigidly.

"Peter and Charlotte know how to behave themselves."

"I really don't care, Emmett. With Bella's luck, she'll go wandering off into the woods at exactly the wrong moment and—" I flinched. "Peter isn't known for his self-control. I'm going back Sunday."

Emmett sighed. Exactly like a crazy person.

Bella chuckled while Edward rolled his eyes, “you really weren’t kidding when you said you drove Emmett crazy all weekend,” Bella said.

“That’s an understatement,” Emmett muttered looking annoyed at Edward’s behavior.

“I couldn’t help it, I missed you,” Edward shrugged smiling, giving her her favorite crooked smile.

Bella was sleeping peacefully when I climbed up to her bedroom window early Monday morning. I'd remembered oil this time, and the window now moved silently out of my way.

“That’s kind of creepy,” Emmett snickered, “Or kinky, huh Edward, any Ideas?”

Edward growled at him fiercely causing Emmett to bark out laughing.

I could tell by the way her hair lay smooth across the pillow that she'd had a less restless night than the last time I was here. She had her hands folded under her cheek like a small child, and her mouth was slightly open. I could hear her breath moving slowly in and out between her lips.

It was an amazing relief to be here, to be able to see her again. I realized that I wasn't truly at ease unless that was the case. Nothing was right when I was away from her.

Bella smiled at this and snuggled closer to Edward nuzzling her face into his cheek. He chuckled and pulled her even closer sighing at the wonderful proximity and the beating of her heart.

Not that all was right when I was with her, either, though. I sighed, letting the thirst fire rake through my throat. I'd been away from it too long. The time spent without pain and temptation made it all the more forceful now. It was bad enough that I was afraid to go kneel beside her bed so that I could read the titles of her books. I wanted to know the stories in her head, but I was afraid of more than my thirst, afraid that if I let myself get that close to her, I would want to be closer still…

Her lips looked very soft and warm. I could imagine touching them with the tip of my finger. Just lightly…

Edward looked down at Bella tilting her head back gently with his index finger. He traced her lips softly making her feel dizzy, then he leaned in and gave her three feather light kisses that made her flush with pleasure.

Emmett sighed loudly, “If you two are done being cute and in love, having sappy moments, and profession your undying devotion to one another we can keep reading thanks.”

Alice, Jasper, and even Rosalie started laughing at that while Esme and Carlisle tried their hardest not to laugh. Bella blushed and looked down while Edward hissed in annoyance with his siblings.

That was exactly the kind of mistake that I had to avoid.

My eyes ran over her face again and again, examining it for changes. Mortals changed all the time—I was sad at the thought of missing anything…

I thought she looked…tired. Like she hadn't gotten enough sleep this weekend.

Had she gone out?

I laughed silently and wryly at how much that upset me. So what if she had? I didn't own her. She wasn't mine.

“I am yours, all yours,” Bella whispered blushing.

“Good,” Edward smiled down at her. It was good because he could share her, not with anyone.

No, she wasn't mine—and I was sad again.

One of her hands twitched, and I noticed that there were shallow, barely healed scrapes across the heel of her palm. She'd been hurt?

Even though it was obviously not a serious injury, it still disturbed me. I considered the location, and decided she must have tripped. That seemed a reasonable explanation, all things considered.

“Thanks,” Bella said acidly.

It was comforting to think that I wouldn't have to puzzle over either of these small mysteries forever. We were friends now—or, at least, trying to be friends. I could ask her about her weekend—about the beach, and whatever late night activity had made her look so weary. I could ask what had happened to her hands. And I could laugh a little when she confirmed my theory about them.

I smiled gently as I wondered whether or not she had fallen in the ocean.

“I didn’t fall in the ocean . . . exactly,” Bella muttered.

Everyone laughed at her blushing face wondering if she did in fact fall in the ocean.

I wondered if she'd had a pleasant time on the outing. I wondered if she'd thought about me at all. If she'd missed me even the tiniest portion of the amount that I'd missed her.

“Of course,” Bella laughed, what an absurd thing to even question.

“I didn’t know, you could have forgotten about me completely,” Edward defended.

“Please, even I know that was never going to happen,” Jasper laughed.

I tried to picture her in the sun on the beach. The picture was incomplete, though, because I'd never been to First Beach myself. I only knew how it looked in pictures…

I felt a tiny qualm of unease as I thought about the reason why I'd never once been to the pretty beach located just a few minutes run from my home. Bella had spent the day at La Push—a place where I was forbidden, by treaty, to go. A place where a few old men still remembered the stories about the Cullens, remembered and believed them.

A place where our secret was known…

I shook my head. I had nothing to worry about there. The Quileutes were bound by treaty, too. Even had Bella run into one of those aging sages, they could reveal nothing. And why would the subject ever be broached? Why would Bella think to voice her curiosity there? No—the Quileutes were perhaps the one thing I did not have to worry about.

“Well you were completely wrong about that,” Emmett and Jasper snickered.

“Ya think,” Edward snapped.

I was angry with the sun when it began to rise. It reminded me that I could not satisfy my curiosity for days to come. Why did it choose to shine now?

With a sigh, I ducked out her window before it was light enough for anyone to see me here. I meant to stay in the thick forest by her house and see her off to school, but when I got into the trees, I was surprised to find the trace of her scent lingering on the trail there.

I followed it quickly, curiously, becoming more and more worried as it led deeper into the darkness. What had Bella been doing out here?

The trail stopped abruptly, in the middle of nowhere in particular. She'd gone just a few steps off the trail, into the ferns, where she'd touched the trunk of a fallen tree.

Perhaps sat there…

I sat where she had, and looked around. All she would have been able to see was ferns and forest. It had probably been raining—the scent was washed out, having never set deeply into the tree.

Why would Bella have come to sit here alone—and she had been alone, no doubt about that—in the middle of the wet, murky forest?

It made no sense, and, unlike those other points of curiosity, I could hardly bring this up in casual conversation.

“That’s where I went after I found out about what you were, I needed a moment to think,” Bella shrugged.

Edward nodded, “please think inside the house from now on.”

“Okay,” Bella chuckled rolling her eyes.

So, Bella, I was following your scent through the woods after I left your room where I'd been watching you sleep… Yes, that would be quite the ice breaker.

I would never know what she'd been thinking and doing here, and that had my teeth grinding together in frustration. Worse, this was far too much like the scenario I'd imagined for Emmett—Bella wandering alone in the woods, where her scent would call to anyone who had the senses to track it…

I groaned. Not only did she have bad luck, but she courted it.

Bella rolled her eyes again, tons of people go outside, that doesn’t mean they are “courting danger” but of course Edward would see it that way.

Well, for this moment she had a protector. I would watch over her, keep her from harm, for as long as I could justify it.

I suddenly found myself wishing that Peter and Charlotte would make an extended stay.

“It was nice to be needed,” He winked at Bella.

Bella giggled at him.

“That’s the end of the chapter,” Alice smiled.

“I’ll read,” Emmett said holding out his hand.