A Stolen Life
In the process of returning to Forks, Washington, Edward came across a car whose passenger held a familiar, silent mind. Curious by the phenomenon, he followed them and witnessed a horrific accident. Edward soon finds himself immersed in the blood that he'd so desperately tried to shield himself from four years earlier. Overwhelmed by his vampire nature, he allowed the beast within free rein and savored the alluring liquid. Consumed by the shame of drinking her blood, Edward brought the girl home to his father and hoped that Carlisle would be able to save her life, knowing deep in his heart that she was beyond modern medicine. After much deliberation, Edward accepted the inevitable and changed her himself, nearly killing her in the process. With the treaty in shambles and forgiveness hanging in the balance, could Edward forgive himself for imposing such a fate upon a dying girl? Could Bella ever love a vampire who stole everything from her?
1. Chapter 1-Accident
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The most painful moral struggles are not those between good and evil, but between good and a lesser good. - Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
*Twilight is the sole property of SM and her publishing company.*
Emmett's little, red Jaguar catapulted through the familiar curves with ease. The engine roared delightfully beneath the hood, responding immediately to the gentle pressure on the accelerator. The throaty sound reverberated against the cliffs and disappeared into the darkness.
As the wind blew across the hood and through my hair, the worries of the day began to dissolve and waft away, thoroughly filling my nostrils with the sweet brine of the ocean. I allowed my mind to disengage, and without the constant cacophony of internal voices, I was able to unwind, settling comfortably into the leather seats.
It was unseasonably clear and cold for a mid-September night, and the road glistened brightly in the glare of the headlights, blanketing the pavement with cerulean light. The trees and foliage were coated with a light sheen of glass, Courtesy of an earlier rainfall. Yet even encased in their icy cocoons, they still retained the brilliant green hues of a summer quickly retreating.
The evening seemed relatively calm, nothing exciting or out of the ordinary. However, the ocean was anything but calm. The grayish-purple waves ebbed and flowed, crashing into the cliffs in curtains of foamy white froth.
I shifted into a lower gear and slowed the vehicle, allowing a herd of deer to scamper across the road. Their breath clung gently to the air, wafting the delicious, gamey smell of their blood towards me. The proximity of the blood awakened the predator within me, and venom seethed in my mouth.
There wasn't any reason to hunt the creatures. I had fed several days ago, but their proximity awakened the feral, bloodthirsty creature with in me, momentarily consuming my mind and body. I took in a deep lungful of air and held my breath, willing the haze to clear from my mind. Ramming the clutch into the dashboard, I shifted up and punched the gas. The wheels screeched as they made contact with the road, propelling me to a higher speed—another gear—faster. Faster and faster I careened around the winding road, my yearning for blood weakening with every mile. The quicker I went, the easier it was to forget such a thing existed.
This was a fast trip—just a short jaunt to Seattle and back, with a quick stop in Forks. Alice had tasked me with an errand, or rather a scheme. I didn't need to read her thoughts to determine that; it was written clearly across her face, and she knew it. She apparently was in desperate need of some items from the old house. For all I cared, she could drive herself. She was fully capable. But she insisted that I must be the one to retrieve her blasted things.
My sister had ulterior motives that only she knew. Therein lays my problem—the little pixie had become quite clever with her evasion tactics, spending the better part of fifty years perfecting her exasperating skills. Whatever the scheme, it gave me a chance to drive the old car. Plus, being able to escape from the house didn't sound like such a horrible idea.
I hadn't been back to Forks since that day. The dreadful day my blasted vampire nature threatened to destroy me. If I had given in to the urges, it would've unveiled us for what we were—what horrible creatures that we were, and everything that Carlisle built for us would've fallen apart like a house of cards. That little girl would've died simply because of her blood. It was so alluring, so delectable that I fled, leaving every one of my family members behind, shying away from the human world for a time. All of the memories and trivial little trinkets left behind in that big, glass-filled house. My family followed me not long after and we settled into a large manor just on the outskirts of Seattle.
The glossy, cherry paint glinted in the moonlight, triggering the trivial memories of the day's antics. It had been an enjoyable afternoon in the garage, which isn't something that can be said for me on a regular basis. Reading and music fill my time, while the others have mates or jobs to occupy theirs.
The little car was Emmett's. He had named her Rochelle, after a hot little redheaded number he met outside of a bar in Chicago, Illinois, one night in the early 40's. It surprised me that he would buy such a thing, moreover, that he could fit into the small cab. Generally he preferred trucks and Jeeps.
Emmett looked at the car the way he looked at Rosalie—with lust in his eyes. When I found myself unwillingly pulled into his thoughts, I found out that the car's namesake had met her bloody end at his hands. He never spoke of the last time he had taken a human's life. However, he held this human in high reverence, or perhaps he only wished to honor her life in this small, trivial way.
The way he spoke of Rochelle made Rose overly jealous, and it wasn't long before Emmett got hit with an airborne wrench in her fury. Rosalie believes she is the goddess of sex appeal, so Emmett and I had a great time ribbing her for her conceited nature.
It didn't help the matter when we began comparing blondes to redheads. I have always been partial to brunettes, but for the benefit of annoying, I agreed with Emmett—redheads are hotter.
Anything and everything near throwing distance of Rose went flying toward us. I barely escaped with my own head attached. Emmett was in hog-heaven, and his laughter echoed throughout the garage. He loved when Rose got all aggravated. She became a tigress on a mission, with her primary purpose—to make him suffer, or forget, as the case might be. I think they both get off on fury.
What ensued following Rose's outburst forced me to flee the house, conceding to Alice's plan. I didn't wish to be engulfed in visions of violent and angry sex, or quite frankly, catch a vision of anyone's nakedness. Being in a houseful of couples wasn't exactly pleasant for a telepath, especially one that doesn't have a mate himself. Cold shower, anyone?
Carlisle had intended, once upon a time, for Rose to be my mate. However, she was far too vain for my taste. Rose had been devastated, at the time, that she didn't turn my head. She has never been one for rejection. I was secretly delighted when she had brought Emmett home. It allowed me to avoid the entire situation.
I chuckled under my breath at the memory and reached across the seat to grab my phone. Rose had done a fine job restoring the little car. The only thing she had left was to find a stock radio. For now, I would have to settle for whatever music I'd uploaded to my phone. While I was reminiscing, I wasn't entirely paying attention to the world around me as vampires are often easily distracted.
If I had human reflexes, I would've never been able to stop. The little, red Volkswagen that appeared directly in front of me was taking the corner at a snail's pace, and I practically had to put my foot through the floor to slow the Jag. The brakes groaned in protest at the action. This annoyed me far more than it should. I had a terrible dislike for slow driving cars.
My headlights flooded the little vehicle. I could see a man and two women in the car. The woman in the passenger seat was fiddling with the radio and scanning rapidly through the small selection of radio stations that the upcoming town offered. She prattled about unimportant events of the day and I found myself instantly bored. The man was internally fuming about the slick roads and it caused me to laugh.
The man, I could tell wasn't entirely human. His brainwaves seemed different from regular human minds. I had felt similar brain waves before. That was the same night that my family and I met the Quileute tribe while unintentionally hunting on their land. I'd hoped to never come upon them again. Yet, here they were—alive and well.
When I had come upon the little, red car, I had been tempted to pass them at lightning speed, but for the moment I was preoccupied with the passengers of the car. I could give a rat's ass about the driver, but I decided that I would follow them to extinguish my curiosity about the other passengers.
I strained to hear the other woman's thoughts, but immediately realized her mind was void. She was an invisible marker on the radar. I was completely surprised. I had only come in contact with one other person whom I could not hear their internal voice. It was frustrating, but yet intriguing to find another. My mind made an instant connection with the memory.
The girl and I had met briefly four years ago. She had been the primary reasoning for moving away from the little town of Forks. Just thinking about the girl made my un-beating heart quiver and venom flowed into my mouth.
I weaved back and forth, absentmindedly throwing my headlights from one side of the road to another. I continue to contemplate driving away. Nevertheless, I remained behind the little car. Was this the same girl? Or, pray tell, had I found another oddity amongst the throngs of humans? Our brief encounter had haunted my daydreams since that very day.
Catching a glimpse in my peripheral vision, I turned my head and saw several more deer running down the small embankment and onto the road. They trotted across the second lane and stopped in the headlights of the little car, frozen, uncertain which way to flee to avoid the impact.
A lump formed in my throat as I watched the driver of the Volkswagen swerve to miss the animals. The brakes and tires squalled in protest, fishtailing to the right as it slipped on the icy pavement. The two animals scampered in opposite directions, causing the driver no choice but to plow through the guard rail.
The metal yielded like butter being cut with a knife, groaning in protest as it parted. Anxiety filled my abdomen as I watched in horror as the car dropped out of sight. The sound of metal hitting rocks and glass exploding filled my ears, an almost sickening sound. Flashes of family and friends—terror—engulfed me as the images flitted through their thoughts. Cries echoed the darkness.
Yanking the wheel to the left, I pulled the car over to the side of the road, my own tires protesting loudly to the movement. Before the tires of the old Jag had completely stopped, I had launched myself out of the car and gazed over the side. The car was several feet below and its front tires hung precariously over the side of the cliff. The slight movement of the passengers swayed the little car which was perilously overlooking the wintry, dark ocean. Angry water lapped violently at the shore, anticipating the souls that would undoubtedly plunge to its depths.
Salt, brine, and blood assaulted my senses. So much blood. It seemed to coat everything—scarlet paint splattered across the rocks. The perfume was overwhelming, so completely mouth-watering that I was forced to hold my breath as the fire burned relentlessly in my throat. I clutched my head in my hands and trembled, consumed by the demon within. The need to lap up every drop caused a foggy red haze to blanket my mind. Then the wind changed and I was assaulted by yet another smell—werewolf.
I found myself in my own personal purgatory, surrounded by burning embers and painful memories of the lives that I had consumed. The monster clawed its way up my throat, reminding me how delicious the crimson liquid would feel as it coated my throat—the nectar of life that rested only inches below. When I did not yield, he began to beseech me to free him from his prison, screaming for dominance
You can do this, Edward. You must restrain yourself. It's only blood—so much blood. Damn it! Snap out of it. The girl is down there suffering, you fool! She might die and you'd never know! my internal voice shrieked.
Then the wind changed and I was assaulted by yet another smell—werewolf. This new scent effectively drew me out of my haze and allowed me to think more rationally. I launched from my perch and slid down the steep embankment, navigating my way down the cliff with ease, bounding off rocks and through brambles. The thorns and brambles reached out and clawed at my clothing, ripping the delicate fabric in my haste. Yet, I had no choice but to continue as I found myself drawn to the wreckage—drawn to the silent mind.
The engine compartment of the little car was crushed inward, pinning the driver to the seat. As I came upon the driver, the stench that rolled off of him was enough to knock me out. The sickening combination of perspiration, rotting earth, wet animals, and testosterone radiated off his skin and burned my nose profusely. And in my current situation, I welcomed his stench gladly. The wolf was slumped over the wheel in an unnatural way. I listened for the heartbeats of the passengers as I combed the car for the girl. I felt satisfied when I picked up two beating steadily in their owner's chests. I could leave them where they lay and call the authorities when I returned to the vehicle.
I continued the search for the remaining passenger but found her missing. I panicked, standing motionless on my precarious perch, eyes and ears open wide. My eyes combed the area and suddenly fixated on the windshield, having not noticed it previously. It was shattered into thousands of tiny shards on the rocks below.
The wind picked up and swirled around my body, wafting the delicious smells into my nostrils, yet again. My mind was plunged into turmoil, the monster laughing at my pain. My mouth flooded with venom. I swallowed the vile liquid and winced as it burned its way down my esophagus. I grabbed my head between my hands and roared with the agony.
A movement in my peripheral vision caught my attention. The girl was there—a crumpled, bloodied mess on the rocks below. The blood was hers, tempting and delicious, billowing toward me in a cloud of fiery haze. The pull was overwhelming, electric and alive, almost stronger than the yearning for her blood. She needed me and I needed her, although, why I did not know.
I scrambled clumsily from my perch with almost human reflexes, swaying with each step I took. When I'd reached her, I dropped to my knees at her side, hovering over her small frame. She moaned with utter agony.
"Talk to me—stay with me," I said loudly. "I'm here and I promise I'm going to help you, but you're going to have to stay awake for me."
Silence filled the space between us and sorrow washed over me in waves. My hands fluttered restlessly about her broken body. I reached out and touched her hair, and my hand settled into a pool of warm moisture. I retracted my hand and held it out in front of my face, watching as blood dripped from my fingers. I gazed at the blood like I was the one bleeding.
I was frozen. The smell was intoxicating, and more than I could bear. I raised my soiled hand to my nose and inhaled. A drop fell onto my lip from my bloodstained hand. The moment it touched my lips, I lost all self, greedily sucking the warm, delicious nectar from my hand and fingers. Closing my eyes, I relished in the taste, both warm and rusty, caressing my taste buds and flowing easily, deliciously, down my throat, extinguishing the fire as only human blood could. I savored every drop and licked it from my lips, not allowing even a miniscule amount to be wasted. Human blood was just how I'd remembered, a beautiful bouquet of flavor and perfume. Animal blood, while it nourished, could never fully extinguish the need.
Suddenly, I knew I must have it—all of it—every drop that remained in her tiny body.
Going against all sense of reason, ignoring the overwhelming pull to save her life and rolled the girl over into my arms. Her body was lifeless, yet her heart still beat—sporadically, but still beat—soon it would not. I heaved her small, helpless body into my chest.
My body ached for the one thing that could truly satiate the thirst—a hunger that I have denied myself for decades. It only took a fraction of a second and one drop of the crimson liquid to fall upon my lips to solidify my decision. My actions would undoubtedly seal my fate. Would Carlisle forgive me for this?
Cleaving her neck gently into the palm of my hand, I leaned in and inhaled the perfume of her skin. She smelled of freesia with a hint of strawberry. It was all mixed up with the divine smell of blood. I licked my lips in anticipation.
Blood—so much blood.
Opening my mouth, I leaned into the hollow of her throat. With my free hand, I brushed her long, auburn hair, matted with blood, away from her neck and face, running my fingers across her jugular. Her ivory skin looked as fragile as the red film that swathes a tomato, and I knew my teeth would sink into it like warm butter and the blood would explode into my mouth.
However before I could drink another drop of the lovely nectar, a tiny, cold hand reached out for me and cupped my face.
"Do the right thing," she said softly.
Her hand fell away and slid down my neck, resting where my frozen heart once beat