Chapter Four & Five
Written by Coquette
Author’s Note: Sorry about the delay in posting this chapter. I needed some time to fully digest Breaking Dawn. The book will not be affecting this story. Hope you enjoy.
Alice shook her head, seeming slightly frustrated. “It’s been bothering me ... the last few days,” she continued. “It’s like I can’t see the way I should be able to see. Sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it just isn’t. It’s as though something is blocking me. It reminds me of when you and Edward were in Paris on your honeymoon, and that vampire...” She trailed off, her eyes growing wide in panic as something occurred to her. “Oh, damn.”
Edward and Alice both stopped walking at the exact same time, bringing the three of us to an abrupt halt. I looked up into their faces in confusion, but they didn’t offer me any kind of explanation.
Edward was staring at Alice, horror alight on his face. “What did you just say?”
“Edward...” Alice said slowly, her eyes going a bit unfocused as if she was seeing something play out in her mind. “I can’t say for certain ... but I think we need to get Bella out of Forks. Right now.”
Written by Coquette
They all marched me back to the Cullen residence like I was a child that had done something wrong. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Their mood had shifted so suddenly that I felt dizzy from it. Edward kept his hand gripped around the crook of my elbow. It was almost painful, though I don’t think he meant to hurt me. My own vampire strength helped me withstand his.
Edward’s body was rigid, like he had been set on fire inside. He sniffed the air continuously, searching for something, and he grew even angrier when it eluded him. At one point, he drew me close and brushed his lips against my temple, as if to comfort himself and reassure me at the same time. That was how I knew I wasn’t in trouble.
Still, I worried. They fussed over me as we advanced toward the house – all five of them, hovering almost as closely as they had when I’d first encountered them in the forest, a newborn vampire with no memories.
“Do you smell anything?” asked Emmett. “Hear anything?”
Edward’s fingers tightened on my arm like a vice. “Nothing.”
The others shook their heads and murmured similar negative responses. I couldn’t smell anything unusual either – only the increasingly familiar scents of my new family – and I couldn’t tell from the looks on their faces if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
“Edward, I could be completely wrong about this,” Alice said in a comforting tone, though her face was marred with concern. “It’s just a feeling. I haven’t seen anything, so I don’t know for certain. Let’s not overreact.”
Jasper snorted under his breath. “Because Edward never overreacts...”
“I don’t care,” Edward said in reply to Alice, ignoring his brother’s quip. “I’m not taking any chances.”
We reached the house as a single entity, all crowded together like a small army with me in the middle. Carlisle hovered in the doorway, waiting to greet us. It was obvious from the look on his face that he knew something was wrong. “What happened?” he pressed when we were in earshot. “Did Bella...?”
“It’s not Bella,” Edward growled as he marched me forward, right past Carlisle and up the stairs.
The others began speaking to their father in hushed voices, explaining things I would have loved to be privy to, but every step took me farther away from them – too far away for me to catch what they were saying. I suppose that was Edward’s plan. I stared up at him with questions burning in my eyes.
“What’s happening?” I asked as he led me into his room. “One second, we were all in the forest, just talking with Alice – and the next, we’re rushing back to the house. I don’t understand.”
He didn’t respond at first, as if he was weighing exactly what to say to me. His fingers softened on my arm as his urgency dissipated into something gentler. He brought me over to the bed and sat me down. Though he stayed standing, he pressed his hands into the mattress on both sides of me, leaned down, and rested his forehead against mine. That simple action seemed to have a calming effect on his nerves – and on mine as well. My shoulders relaxed, lowering back to their normal position.
“Like Alice said earlier, we don’t know if anything is happening,” he said quietly. “I don’t want to frighten you without cause, so try to be patient with me for a little while I figure out what’s going on. Just trust me, all right?”
I didn’t answer, but I hoped that he ascertained from the look on my face that I wasn’t pleased. If he noticed, he didn’t acknowledge it, and that only served to deepen my displeasure. He just left a kiss on my forehead and whispered, “I’ll be back soon.”
He closed the door behind him when he left, oblivious to my silent fuming, and his voice soon joined the others downstairs. The Cullens were having another family meeting – and this time, I wasn’t invited.
I rose from the bed and pressed my ear to the door, knowing they’d hear if I tried to open it. They must have anticipated my attempt at eavesdropping because they spoke in voices so quiet, even my keen ears had a difficult time making out what was being said. Something about Paris; a battle. After a few moments of discussion, Carlisle’s tired voice rose above the others and issued an order. The front door opened, and Emmett and Rosalie took off, flying like wraiths across the lawn and into the forest. I couldn’t begin to guess the reason for their sudden departure.
The rest of them shifted out onto the porch to talk, and I immediately perked up and tiptoed to the window. I could hear what they were saying through the thin glass.
“I’ll send word to Aro immediately,” said Carlisle. “Perhaps this is all a misunderstanding. Perhaps the Volturi don’t realize you’ve already changed her over.”
Aro. The Volturi. Nothing made sense to me.
“A misunderstanding?” echoed Edward. He sounded furious, and if I hadn’t already witnessed the kindness he was capable of, the depth of his anger might have frightened me. “Doubtful. The little weasel let me read his thoughts when they cornered us in Paris. He doesn’t care one way or another if Bella is turned. He never did. He was interested in her, in playing a game. Fixated like James – only worse.”
“I thought the Volturi hired him?” asked Jasper. “Isn’t that what he told you? To make sure Bella was turned.”
“I’m sure they did,” replied Edward. “He took it a step further than that, I’m afraid.”
“And let’s not forget that we wiped out his companions,” added Alice. “He might be looking for a little revenge. Wouldn’t you?”
“Hmmm,” said Carlisle, his voice muted as if he had a thoughtful finger pressed to his lips. “Edward, you might need to take Bella to Italy. If I know our friends...” He said the word friends rather derisively. “...they’ll want reassurance in person. Though whether or not it will make a difference in terms of this other fellow, I can’t say.”
“Trust me,” said Edward darkly. “It won’t. But I’ll take her regardless. Maybe the Volturi will help to draw him out of his hiding place or track him down.” He didn’t sound particularly optimistic as he said it.
“Are you going to tell Bella?” asked Esme. “The poor girl looked so confused when you brought her upstairs. Edward, was that really necessary?”
“Can’t you see that she’s frightened enough already?”
Before anyone could respond, there were quiet but rapid footsteps on the lawn – the sound of vampires running. I peered into the distance and caught sight of Emmett and Rosalie flying back toward the house, their skin glowing subtly in the moonlight. They joined the others on the porch.
“There’s a strange scent in the woods,” said Emmett. “It’s in the air only. If it’s his scent, he’s good. He didn’t even brush up against single branch. Edward, you need to come quickly before it dissipates. You’re the only one here that will recognize it as his scent.”
“All of you should come,” said Rosalie. “In case we need to track him together.”
“I’m not leaving Bella here alone,” said Edward.
“I’ll stay with her,” said Esme’s calming voice. “Don’t worry, Edward. She’s a newborn. I know you’re used to protecting her, but she can take care of herself now. Just as well as the rest of us, if not better.”
“Yeah,” muttered Jasper. “She could probably rip his head off with a flick of her pinky. Give the girl a little credit.”
“It’s decided then,” said Carlisle. “Esme will stay with Bella – and you’ll need to keep an eye out around the house, darling. I have a feeling he’s already been here. The rest of us will go with Edward to see if the scent matches. Then we’ll fan out and try to track him down. I will not have this family in jeopardy from some rogue hunter. There’s one of him and a legion of us. He’s chosen his battle most unwisely.”
Murmurs of agreement. Edward’s voice carried above them all. “Just remember,” he said, his voice deadly with intent. “If we come across him – he’s mine.”
When they had all gone, Esme left me to myself, humming something soft and melodic under her breath as she flitted from room to room downstairs, gazing out of the windows into the woods. I paced for ten minutes before I couldn’t stand it anymore.
She was wearing a knowing look on her face when I came down the stairs, and it made me think she’d been expecting me to descend sooner. “The others will be back soon, Bella. We should stay close to the house in the meantime. Are you hungry?”
I shook my head, though it was somewhat of a lie. Physically, I was finding that I was always starving, especially since I hadn’t joined in with the hunting. Mentally, I didn’t want the distraction. “Will you tell me what’s going on?” I asked instead.
Her serene smile deepened, and the dim light in the room cast her face into warm shadows that made her even lovelier. “You heard us talking on the porch, didn’t you?”
I nodded anxiously. No use in hiding it. “But I didn’t understand a word of it. Am I in some sort of trouble? Edward seemed so angry.”
“No, nothing like that, dear. Edward...” She paused and sighed, her expression turning wistful. “Edward is painfully predictable once you figure him out. You’ll learn to interpret all he does soon enough and understand where his anger is really focused. Ten times out of ten, he’s only acting out of love for you or his family. But Bella, sometimes he doesn’t always make the right decisions. He can be rather hasty.”
“What do you mean?”
“He tries to protect you a little too much, I think. Withholding information from you, for instance. You’ll find that’s a trend with our Edward,” she said, winking at me. “I suppose when you hear everyone’s thoughts, you learn to keep secrets. But don’t worry. I’ll talk to him about it when he gets back. He’s just trying not to overwhelm you with information while you’re still so unsettled in your own skin. Especially since we don’t know for certain if anything is truly wrong.”
She reached out her beautifully tapered fingers to smooth a strand of hair from my face. “How are you doing, Bella? I know ... that you weren’t telling Edward the truth earlier. I know that you don’t remember anything. It’s all right, dear. I’m not here to judge you. Just ... is there anything that I can do for you? Any way to make this easier?”
I looked away, feeling just as shamed by her loving gaze as I did by Edward’s. “About that ... Edward and I had a talk. He knows the truth. I guess he knew the second I opened my mouth.”
“That’s good to hear. I’m glad. And I know just why he was comforted in that moment when you lied to spare him pain. With every passing moment, Bella, we’re all seeing a bit of you come back to us. Your compassion was always at the forefront of your personality. So let that be a comfort to you. But you didn’t answer my other questions. What can I do for you to make this easier?”
The corner of my mouth pulled upward. “You’re doing a pretty good job already.”
She laughed and made a move to embrace me – but we both stopped dead and fell into instant silence.
Outside, the low branches of one of the oak trees had moved, the leaves rustling quietly, as if a body had brushed up against them. Both of our heads turned toward the window in unison, watchful and alert. Something – or someone – was in the woods nearby.
After a moment of careful listening, Esme relaxed a fraction. She tried to put her smile back in place to soothe my discomfort, but it fell short of reaching her eyes. “I should go see what that was,” she said, her voice wavering so slightly that I almost didn’t notice. “Can you stay in the house for me? Don’t worry. It was probably just an animal. Or maybe one of the others on their way back.”
I matched her feigned smile with one of my own. It was difficult to feel secure when no one was willing to tell me what was wrong. “Sure. I’ll just go upstairs and read.”
My body was as rigid as stone as I turned away from her. I was angry as I ascended the stairs back toward Edward’s room, but I bit my tongue, feeling childish. It wasn’t Esme I was mad at; really, who could be angry with her? No, I was just frustrated. But there were obviously things I wasn’t equipped to understand at the moment – things that hopefully were well in hand.
I clenched my jaw and straightened my back, trying to replace the frustration with determination. There was only one way to fix this. I had to finish those journals I’d written myself. I had barely dented them and already they had revealed so much to me. If Edward thought I wasn’t ready for certain details told from his own lips, the answers I needed would surely be disclosed there. And maybe the memories would really start coming back to me the further I read.
Edward’s scent clung to his bedroom like an old friend, and I was pleased to find my own scent intermingled with his. I sat down on the edge of the bed, smiling as I inhaled, letting it calm me. My eyes drifted shut, and I listened to the sounds of nighttime outside. Esme was so quiet when she slipped from the house, the only way I knew that she was truly gone was because of the absence of her humming downstairs.
A sudden shifting of the wind rustled the branches outside. A squirrel or something small leapt from one branch to the other, frightened by the stirring of the breeze. The sound comforted me. Surely it had been an animal that Esme and I had heard earlier. Nothing to be concerned with.
My ears heard the high whistle of the wind seeping through the cracks of the window, stirring up the air in the room. My nose wrinkled as I caught the edge of something unfamiliar, and my eyes flew open, instantly sober.
And there he stood.
Right in front of me, leaning against the bedroom wall with a smug smile on his angelic face.
It was the strange vampire I’d seen watching me earlier that evening from outside.
He had skills; I had to give him that much. How long had I been in the room with him without even noticing? Had he been standing there the entire time? Had he slipped in while my eyes were closed? I had no idea. But I had the strangest feeling that he had made that sound in the woods just to draw Esme away from the house.
His eyes glinted in my direction invitingly. “Well,” he purred. “Aren’t you something to behold?”
I stared, fixated. I wasn’t afraid, though I probably should have been. But I felt strong, sure of myself. Whoever this was, if he took one unsolicited step toward me, I was going to rip that smug head right off of his smug shoulders.
And that would be a shame, indeed. He was beautiful. Elegant in an all black three-piece suit, minus the jacket. Small in stature, but with a demanding presence that I found instantly intriguing. His flawless skin, unearthly pale, stood out in stark contrast from his short, black hair, which gave him a youthful, deviant air. His eyes glowed a dim amber, lighter gold around the center. He was like the Cullens, then. Not a killer of humans – or at least, not a drinker of human blood. Perhaps he wasn’t an enemy at all.
He pushed away from the wall but still hovered on the far side of the room. “I mean, I could see the potentiality the moment I first laid eyes on you,” he continued. His voice was lightly accented, but I couldn’t place the region. “So much fire and sweetness wrapped up in that tight little frame. But really. I had no idea. I admit I didn’t expect him to actually turn you. In fact, I rather counted on having to do it myself. How disappointing.”
“Who are you?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him. He could only be referring to Edward, and if his sudden appearance hadn’t made me angry – that particular subject just might.
“Mmmm. Playing naïve, are we? How precious.”
“I’m not. Who are you?”
He tilted his head to the side, scrutinizing my face for a moment. “Interesting,” he said after a moment. “I would have thought you would have overcome the disorientation of the change by now. The memory loss is usually brief. Though I suppose it makes sense. Your mind – I can see how it ticks. Little wheels spinning, spinning away. It’s protecting itself, you see. That’s your power, isn’t it?”
“How do you know all of that?”
“We’re old friends, you and I. Though I suppose you don’t remember any of that either. A pity.” He laughed, eyes dancing as if he thought it was anything but a pity. “Oh, I’m so glad you have a power. That works out for the best for me as well, you see.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, I have a power, too, Sweet Isabella. You’re so very clever. I should like for you to guess what it is.”
“I don’t like guessing games.”
“Perhaps you’d like a demonstration, then?” His smile spread into a grin, and I saw that his incisors had been filed down into sharp points like fangs.
The room suddenly exploded into sound – though none of it was actually audible. It was as if my own brain was screaming at me, gnashing its teeth like something had been unleashed inside of me. I could almost see the sound waves shimmering in my vision as I was driven to my knees, overcome with an abrupt and undeniable thirst. My throat ignited into flames, burning like the pain that had seized me for days as I changed into a vampire. I felt as though an animal, ravenous and crazed, had possessed me. I writhed, needing sustenance. Needing blood.
I wasn’t in control of my newborn urges anymore.
Whatever the stranger had done to me with his power ... it had broken down my shield like it was made of wafer-thin glass.
Another thought blossomed in my mind, somewhere behind the red hot thirst that had floored me. Thoughts of Edward.
I wanted to sob, but the weight of a thousand memories flooding back to me kept me pinned to the ground, mute and helpless against the brunt of the mental onslaught. Every smile came back to me. Every exquisite kiss and gentle word that slipped from his lips. Every instant in his presence and every painful moment away from it...
I remembered. Everything!
But then, as suddenly as it started, it was over. My mental shield snapped back into position, and my control settled back in its place, though it wavered and quaked in my head like a flat piece of metal that had been struck by a mallet. I lay on the ground, gasping, wide-eyed with confusion.
I felt ... empty.
And couldn’t seem to remember why.
It came back to me eventually, sluggish and hazy like the lifting of a fog. I quickly grew frantic as I struggled to grasp onto something. I realized it was the shredded remains of my memories ... slipping away again! Lost!
I pushed myself upright, though I couldn’t find the strength to rise to my feet. My ears and brain were still ringing from the attack. Slowly I turned my gaze back upon that mockingly beatific face. “What ... just happened?” I breathed. “What did you do to me? Bring them back!”
“Bring what back?” he asked, bemused.
“My memories! You stole them!”
“I did nothing of the sort, sweet one. I only took away your own power for a moment. Now that I’ve seen what lies beneath, I must say that you have an extraordinary mind. To block all of that so effortlessly.” He paused and chuckled as something seemed to occur to him. “Oh, the irony! The same gift that helps you restrain yourself from killing the innocent also keeps you from remembering your lover. Whichever will you choose?”
I didn’t have a chance to reply ... or even get to my feet. Both of us tensed at the same time, listening to the sound of footfalls approaching the house, several pairs thundering on the ground. One was closer than the others, moving faster, leaving the others behind. The Cullens were returning, and it was obvious from their pace that they knew something was wrong.
The vampire seemed inexplicably pleased by this, as if he had planned it this way. “The middlegame is on,” he said. “That’s a chess reference, my dear. And here’s another one for you to look up: en prise. Perhaps you should share that particular phrase with your dear husband, though it won’t do him much good. Do give him my regards?”
He gave a polite little bow, his eyes never leaving my face. And then his gloved hand opened the window, and he slipped silently into the darkness. And when I say silently, I mean there was a complete absence of sound, like he’d turned the volume down in the room. If I hadn’t watched him do it, I wouldn’t have even noticed the departure. Nothing could be that quiet, but he managed it with ease. Another part of his gift perhaps? I shivered, though I was anything but cold. The sound of footsteps in the hallway was the only way I knew I hadn’t dreamt the entire scenario up.
Suddenly Edward was before me, his eyes blazing with fury and fear. He knelt and gripped my face between both of his hands. His nose flared when he caught my scent. “Did he hurt you?” he choked out.
I shook my head in mute reply, wide-eyed at the depth of his apprehension. It wasn’t the entire truth. To have my memories restored for one shining moment, then to have them stolen away again – oh, he’d hurt me quite badly. But now wasn’t the right time to explain all that.
I pointed toward the open window. I expected Edward to bolt again and take off in chase of the strange vampire, but he just whipped around and called to his family, who were just now at the porch, slower than Edward. I heard Carlisle’s voice give a sharp order. They had the scent now, and they all took off, circling the house, spreading out into the woods.
Edward gathered me close. “Stupid!” he growled, and I knew he wasn’t referring to me but rather himself. “I should never have left you! I’m so sorry.”
Before I could even formulate a reply, he had my face between his hands again. The look on his own face shocked me. There was a puzzling hint of utter joy mixed in with anguish. “I heard your thoughts, Bella!” he all but wept. “I heard you! In my head. I didn’t think it was real at first. And when I saw his face in your thoughts ... sneering down at you. Oh, Bella! Why didn’t you run?”
I stared at him, trying to make sense of what he was telling me. So it was the shield in my mind that kept Edward from reading my thoughts. “I didn’t know I was supposed to,” I whispered, finally finding my voice. “Edward? I ... I think I know now why I can’t remember anything.”
“What do you mean?”
I swallowed with difficulty, gripping the front of his shirt. “I’m doing it. I don’t know how or why, but it’s me. There a shield in my head, and it’s cut me off from my memories. It’s cutting me off from everything.”
To be continued.
Author’s Note: (MILD BREAKING DAWN SPOILERS BELOW)
Just wanted to say that I had Bella’s vamp!gift plotted out WAY before Breaking Dawn was on the shelves. I know Stephenie is saying Bella is able to control herself because she had time to prepare herself for the change, but in my story, Bella doesn’t remember anything about her past, so any mental preparation would be irrelevant. That’s why she was so raw and calculating when she first woke up. She was completely lacking a memory of humanity, though as you can see, that much has been coming back to her slowly.
Another scene I wrote before the book was published was Edward being able to hear Bella’s thoughts when her mental shield was down. *sighs and wanders off*