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Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 7: Nightmare


I told Charlie I had a lot of homework to do, and that I didn’t want anything to eat. There was a basketball game on that he was excited about, though of course I had no idea what was special about it, so he wasn’t aware of anything unusual in my face or tone.

Bella Swan probably unironically says "sportsball."


Once in my room, I locked the door. I dug through my desk until I found my old headphones, and I plugged them into my little CD player. I picked up a CD that Phil had given to me for Christmas. It was one of his favorite bands, but they used a little too much bass and shrieking for my tastes. I popped it into place and lay down on my bed. I put on the headphones, hit Play, and turned up the volume until it hurt my ears. I closed my eyes, but the light still intruded, so I added a pillow over the top half of my face.

I concentrated very carefully on the music, trying to understand the lyrics, to unravel the complicated drum patterns. By the third time I’d listened through the CD, I knew all the words to the choruses, at least. I was surprised to find that I really did like the band after all, once I got past the blaring noise. I’d have to thank Phil again.

And it worked. The shattering beats made it impossible for me to think—which was the whole purpose of the exercise. I listened to the CD again and again, until I was singing along with all the songs, until, finally, I fell asleep.

I want to declare it canon that Phil gave Bella some ridiculous prog rock band like King Crimson.


I opened my eyes to a familiar place. Aware in some corner of my consciousness that I was dreaming, I recognized the green light of the forest. I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks somewhere nearby. And I knew that if I found the ocean, I’d be able to see the sun. I was trying to follow the sound, but then Jacob Black was there, tugging on my hand, pulling me back toward the blackest part of the forest.

“Jacob? What’s wrong?” I asked. His face was frightened as he yanked with all his strength against my resistance; I didn’t want to go into the dark.

“Run, Bella, you have to run!” he whispered, terrified.

“This way, Bella!” I recognized Mike’s voice calling out of the gloomy heart of the trees, but I couldn’t see him.

“Why?” I asked, still pulling against Jacob’s grasp, desperate now to find the sun.

But Jacob let go of my hand and yelped, suddenly shaking, falling to the dim forest floor. He twitched on the ground as I watched in horror.

“Jacob!” I screamed. But he was gone. In his place was a large red-brown wolf with black eyes. The wolf faced away from me, pointing toward the shore, the hair on the back of his shoulders bristling, low growls issuing from between his exposed fangs.

“Bella, run!” Mike cried out again from behind me. But I didn’t turn. I was watching a light coming toward me from the beach.

And then Edward stepped out from the trees, his skin faintly glowing, his eyes black and dangerous. He held up one hand and beckoned me to come to him. The wolf growled at my feet.

I took a step forward, toward Edward. He smiled then, and his teeth were sharp, pointed.

“Trust me,” he purred.

I took another step.

This is a classic example of an extremely lazy writing technique: prophetic dreams. They're especially common in works where there's no canon reason for the person to have dreams that are such exact foreshadowing and (like in this one) contain information that the dreamer shouldn't logically know. Instead of finding a way to work Bella's conflict between Jacob and Edward and her confirmation that Edward is a vampire into her characterization and actions, or figure out a way to let her inner monologue ruminate on it better, she just has a dream that conveniently reveals how the rest of the story is going to go.


The wolf launched himself across the space between me and the vampire, fangs aiming for the jugular.

“No!” I screamed, wrenching upright out of my bed.

My sudden movement caused the headphones to pull the CD player off the bedside table, and it clattered to the wooden floor.

My light was still on, and I was sitting fully dressed on the bed, with my shoes on. I glanced, disoriented, at the clock on my dresser. It was five-thirty in the morning.

I groaned, fell back, and rolled over onto my face, kicking off my boots. I was too uncomfortable to get anywhere near sleep, though.

Then why the hell did you fall asleep fully dressed with the lights on?


I rolled back over and unbuttoned my jeans, yanking them off awkwardly as I tried to stay horizontal. I could feel the braid in my hair, an uncomfortable ridge along the back of my skull. I turned onto my side and ripped the rubber band out, quickly combing through the plaits with my fingers. I pulled the pillow back over my eyes.

It was all no use, of course. My subconscious had dredged up exactly the images I’d been trying so desperately to avoid. I was going to have to face them now.

I sat up, and my head spun for a minute as the blood flowed downward. First things first, I thought to myself, happy to put it off as long as possible. I grabbed my bathroom bag.

The shower didn’t last nearly as long as I hoped it would, though. Even taking the time to blow-dry my hair, I was soon out of things to do in the bathroom. Wrapped in a towel, I crossed back to my room. I couldn’t tell if Charlie was still asleep, or if he had already left. I went to look out my window, and the cruiser was gone. Fishing again.

I dressed slowly in my most comfy sweats and then made my bed—something I never did. I couldn’t put it off any longer. I went to my desk and switched on my old computer.

Why did Bella make her bed? Who knows!


I hated using the Internet here. My modem was sadly outdated, my free service substandard; just dialing up took so long that I decided to go get myself a bowl of cereal while I waited.

I ate slowly, chewing each bite with care. When I was done, I washed the bowl and spoon, dried them, and put them away. My feet dragged as I climbed the stairs. I went to my CD player first, picking it up off the floor and placing it precisely in the center of the table. I pulled out the headphones, and put them away in the desk drawer. Then I turned the same CD on, turning it down to the point where it was background noise.

I'm going to stick with my headcanon and play "21st Century Schizoid Man" while making this post. I imagine it'll make the text much better.


With another sigh, I turned to my computer. Naturally, the screen was covered in pop-up ads. I sat in my hard folding chair and began closing all the little windows. Eventually I made it to my favorite search engine. I shot down a few more pop-ups and then typed in one word.


Yes, Bella's brilliant plan is to Google vampires. She also must have gotten a pretty terrible virus if her screen is covered in pop-ups as soon as she connects to the Internet.


It took an infuriatingly long time, of course. When the results came up, there was a lot to sift through—everything from movies and TV shows to role-playing games, underground metal, and gothic cosmetic companies.

Wikipedia started in 2001 and was available in 161 languages by 2004. Bella is just dumb.


Then I found a promising site—Vampires A–Z. I waited impatiently for it to load, quickly clicking closed each ad that flashed across the screen. Finally the screen was finished—simple white background with black text, academic-looking. Two quotes greeted me on the home page:  

Throughout the vast shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figure so terrible, no figure so dreaded and abhorred, yet dight with such fearful fascination, as the vampire, who is himself neither ghost nor demon, but yet who partakes the dark natures and possesses the mysterious and terrible qualities of both. —Rev. Montague Summers

If there is in this world a well-attested account, it is that of the vampires. Nothing is lacking: official reports, affidavits of well-known people, of surgeons, of priests, of magistrates; the judicial proof is most complete. And with all that, who is there who believes in vampires? —Rousseau

Most people at least vaguely know Rousseau as a philosopher. Reverend Montague Summers was an early 20th century scholar on vampires, werewolves, witches, and other supernatural creatures who provided the first English translation of Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th century witch hunter's manual. Summers was an avowed believer in all manners of the supernatural and wrote his books very seriously.


The rest of the site was an alphabetized listing of all the different myths of vampires held throughout the world. The first I clicked on, the Danag, was a Filipino vampire supposedly responsible for planting taro on the islands long ago. The myth continued that the Danag worked with humans for many years, but the partnership ended one day when a woman cut her finger and a Danag sucked her wound, enjoying the taste so much that it drained her body completely of blood.

I read carefully through the descriptions, looking for anything that sounded familiar, let alone plausible. It seemed that most vampire myths centered around beautiful women as demons and children as victims; they also seemed like constructs created to explain away the high mortality rates for young children, and to give men an excuse for infidelity. Many of the stories involved bodiless spirits and warnings against improper burials. There wasn’t much that sounded like the movies I’d seen, and only a very few, like the Hebrew Estrie and the Polish Upier, who were even preoccupied with drinking blood.

Only three entries really caught my attention: the Romanian Varacolaci, a powerful undead being who could appear as a beautiful, pale-skinned human, the Slovak Nelapsi, a creature so strong and fast it could massacre an entire village in the single hour after midnight, and one other, the Stregoni benefici. About this last there was only one brief sentence.

Stregoni benefici: An Italian vampire, said to be on the side of goodness, and a mortal enemy of all evil vampires.

It was a relief, that one small entry, the one myth among hundreds that claimed the existence of good vampires.

As far as I know, the Stregoni benefici is an invention of Meyer's. I don't know why this is even necessary, as it does nothing to amplify the idea of the Cullens not killing people. If anything, it just removes tension by foreshadowing that the Cullens aren't dangerous at all.


Overall, though, there was little that coincided with Jacob’s stories or my own observations. I’d made a little catalogue in my mind as I’d read and carefully compared it with each myth. Speed, strength, beauty, pale skin, eyes that shift color; and then Jacob’s criteria: blood drinkers, enemies of the werewolf, cold-skinned, and immortal. There were very few myths that matched even one factor.

And then another problem, one that I’d remembered from the small number of scary movies that I’d seen and was backed up by today’s reading—vampires couldn’t come out in the daytime, the sun would burn them to a cinder. They slept in coffins all day and came out only at night.

Imagine being a first time reader, not knowing how they were going to explain Edward being out in the daytime.


Aggravated, I snapped off the computer’s main power switch, not waiting to shut things down properly. Through my irritation, I felt overwhelming embarrassment. It was all so stupid. I was sitting in my room, researching vampires. What was wrong with me? I decided that most of the blame belonged on the doorstep of the town of Forks—and the entire sodden Olympic Peninsula, for that matter.

What the gently caress kind of sense does that make?


I had to get out of the house, but there was nowhere I wanted to go that didn’t involve a three-day drive. I pulled on my boots anyway, unclear where I was headed, and went downstairs. I shrugged into my raincoat without checking the weather and stomped out the door.

It was overcast, but not raining yet. I ignored my truck and started east on foot, angling across Charlie’s yard toward the ever-encroaching forest. It didn’t take long till I was deep enough for the house and the road to be invisible, for the only sound to be the squish of the damp earth under my feet and the sudden cries of the jays.

And then she tripped on like five rocks.


There was a thin ribbon of a trail that led through the forest here, or I wouldn’t risk wandering on my own like this. My sense of direction was hopeless; I could get lost in much less helpful surroundings.

I think you meant much more hopeful surroundings, Meyer.


The trail wound deeper and deeper into the forest, mostly east as far as I could tell. It snaked around the Sitka spruces and the hemlocks, the yews and the maples. I only vaguely knew the names of the trees around me, and all I knew was due to Charlie pointing them out to me from the cruiser window in earlier days. There were many I didn’t know, and others I couldn’t be sure about because they were so covered in green parasites.

I followed the trail as long as my anger at myself pushed me forward. As that started to ebb, I slowed. A few drops of moisture trickled down from the canopy above me, but I couldn’t be certain if it was beginning to rain or if it was simply pools left over from yesterday, held high in the leaves above me, slowly dripping their way back to the earth. A recently fallen tree—I knew it was recent because it wasn’t entirely carpeted in moss—rested against the trunk of one of her sisters, creating a sheltered little bench just a few safe feet off the trail. I stepped over the ferns and sat carefully, making sure my jacket was between the damp seat and my clothes wherever they touched, and leaned my hooded head back against the living tree.

This was the wrong place to have come. I should have known, but where else was there to go? The forest was deep green and far too much like the scene in last night’s dream to allow for peace of mind. Now that there was no longer the sound of my soggy footsteps, the silence was piercing. The birds were quiet, too, the drops increasing in frequency, so it must be raining above. The ferns stood higher than my head, now that I was seated, and I knew someone could walk by on the path, three feet away, and not see me.

With Bella's awful sense of direction and clumsiness, I wouldn't be surprised if stepping even three feet off the path gets her hopelessly lost.


Here in the trees it was much easier to believe the absurdities that embarrassed me indoors. Nothing had changed in this forest for thousands of years, and all the myths and legends of a hundred different lands seemed much more likely in this green haze than they had in my clear-cut bedroom.

I forced myself to focus on the two most vital questions I had to answer, but I did so unwillingly.

First, I had to decide if it was possible that what Jacob had said about the Cullens could be true.

Immediately my mind responded with a resounding negative. It was silly and morbid to entertain such ridiculous notions. But what, then? I asked myself. There was no rational explanation for how I was alive at this moment. I listed again in my head the things I’d observed myself: the impossible speed and strength, the eye color shifting from black to gold and back again, the inhuman beauty, the pale, frigid skin. And more—small things that registered slowly—how they never seemed to eat, the disturbing grace with which they moved. And the way he sometimes spoke, with unfamiliar cadences and phrases that better fit the style of a turn-of-the-century novel than that of a twenty-first-century classroom. He had skipped class the day we’d done blood typing. He hadn’t said no to the beach trip till he heard where we were going. He seemed to know what everyone around him was thinking… except me. He had told me he was the villain, dangerous.…

Could the Cullens be vampires?

This length of time this book is taking on figuring out if the Cullens are vampires would be a lot more acceptable if it was a legitimate mystery. If the back of the book tells you that they are, we're instead spending dozens or hundreds of pages waiting for the protagonist to figure out what we already knew before we even bought the book. It's been 4 chapters since Edward did something overtly supernatural for the first time and got confronted about it and we still don't have a resolution!


Well, they were something. Something outside the possibility of rational justification was taking place in front of my incredulous eyes. Whether it be Jacob’s cold ones or my own superhero theory, Edward Cullen was not… human. He was something more.

So then—maybe. That would have to be my answer for now.

And then the most important question of all. What was I going to do if it was true?

If Edward was a vampire—I could hardly make myself think the words—then what should I do? Involving someone else was definitely out. I couldn’t even believe myself; anyone I told would have me committed.

Only two options seemed practical. The first was to take his advice: to be smart, to avoid him as much as possible. To cancel our plans, to go back to ignoring him as far as I was able. To pretend there was an impenetrably thick glass wall between us in the one class where we were forced together. To tell him to leave me alone—and mean it this time.

I was gripped in a sudden agony of despair as I considered that alternative. My mind rejected the pain, quickly skipping on to the next option.

You barely even know the guy! He's been having mood swings out the yin-yang and physically abused you once already, and you've hardly spoken over three months! Finding out that he's probably also a vampire should be the best excuse for avoiding him!


I could do nothing different. After all, if he was something… sinister, he’d done nothing to hurt me so far.

Are we all just going to forget that he physically dragged you into his car and threatened to kidnap you if you refused?


In fact, I would be a dent in Tyler’s fender if he hadn’t acted so quickly. So quickly, I argued with myself, that it might have been sheer reflexes. But if it was a reflex to save lives, how bad could he be? I retorted. My head spun around in answerless circles.

This is where we seriously start getting into Meyer's romanticization of abuse. Edward and Bella's actions are consistently handwaved away as just signs of how much they love and care about each other, no matter how dangerous that behavior is in real life. To Bella, it doesn't matter that Edward has been displaying more red flags than a Chinese military parade. He reflexively saved her from danger, and that's all that matters to show his "true nature."


There was one thing I was sure of, if I was sure of anything. The dark Edward in my dream last night was a reflection only of my fear of the word Jacob had spoken, and not Edward himself. Even so, when I’d screamed out in terror at the werewolf’s lunge, it wasn’t fear for the wolf that brought the cry of “no” to my lips. It was fear that he would be harmed—even as he called to me with sharp-edged fangs, I feared for him.

And I knew in that I had my answer. I didn’t know if there ever was a choice, really. I was already in too deep. Now that I knew—if I knew—I could do nothing about my frightening secret. Because when I thought of him, of his voice, his hypnotic eyes, the magnetic force of his personality, I wanted nothing more than to be with him right now. Even if… but I couldn’t think it.

Had this been a different book, this would be portrayed as the thoughts of a poor young girl falling under the spell of a man who would hurt her worse than she would ever imagine. With only a small amount of interaction (much of it negative or outright threatening), she's already become completely obsessed with Edward. But as we all know, the books paint their relationship as pure love between soulmates. Her obsession is instead shown as a good thing that leads her to a life of power and prosperity as long as she can handle all the poo poo the relationship throws at her.


Not here, alone in the darkening forest. Not while the rain made it dim as twilight under the canopy and pattered like footsteps across the matted earthen floor. I shivered and rose quickly from my place of concealment, worried that somehow the path would have disappeared with the rain.

But it was there, safe and clear, winding its way out of the dripping green maze. I followed it hastily, my hood pulled close around my face, becoming surprised, as I nearly ran through the trees, at how far I had come. I started to wonder if I was heading out at all, or following the path farther into the confines of the forest. Before I could get too panicky, though, I began to glimpse some open spaces through the webbed branches. And then I could hear a car passing on the street, and I was free, Charlie’s lawn stretched out in front of me, the house beckoning me, promising warmth and dry socks.

It was just noon when I got back inside. I went upstairs and got dressed for the day, jeans and a t-shirt, since I was staying indoors. It didn’t take too much effort to concentrate on my task for the day, a paper on Macbeth that was due Wednesday. I settled into outlining a rough draft contentedly, more serene than I’d felt since… well, since Thursday afternoon, if I was being honest.

That had always been my way, though. Making decisions was the painful part for me, the part I agonized over. But once the decision was made, I simply followed through—usually with relief that the choice was made. Sometimes the relief was tainted by despair, like my decision to come to Forks. But it was still better than wrestling with the alternatives.

This decision was ridiculously easy to live with. Dangerously easy.

Again, the constant decrying of Bella's behavior as dangerous or stupid would be more palatable if it was ever shown as anything but the best decision she ever made.

Bella's obsession with Edward is followed up on in New Moon by revealing that Bella essentially gets off on danger. Her desires for him are amplified by both his status as unattainable and a dangerous threat to her life. At the same time, she has very low self-esteem despite her selfishness (count how many times she berates herself for her clumsiness or supposed unattractiveness even as half the male population of the town chases after her) that immediately gives the beautiful, dangerous Edward Cullen a position of power over her. Had she not been in Forks, the kind of guys she would have gotten wrapped up with would have been the kind to seriously hurt her.


And so the day was quiet, productive—I finished my paper before eight. Charlie came home with a large catch, and I made a mental note to pick up a book of recipes for fish while I was in Seattle next week. The chills that flashed up my spine whenever I thought of that trip were no different than the ones I’d felt before I’d taken my walk with Jacob Black. They should be different, I thought. I should be afraid—I knew I should be, but I couldn’t feel the right kind of fear.

I slept dreamlessly that night, exhausted from beginning my day so early, and sleeping so poorly the night before. I woke, for the second time since arriving in Forks, to the bright yellow light of a sunny day. I skipped to the window, stunned to see that there was hardly a cloud in the sky, and those there were just fleecy little white puffs that couldn’t possibly be carrying any rain. I opened the window—surprised when it opened silently, without sticking, not having opened it in who knows how many years—and sucked in the relatively dry air. It was nearly warm and hardly windy at all. My blood was electric in my veins.

Charlie was finishing breakfast when I came downstairs, and he picked up on my mood immediately.

“Nice day out,” he commented.

“Yes,” I agreed with a grin.

He smiled back, his brown eyes crinkling around the edges. When Charlie smiled, it was easier to see why he and my mother had jumped too quickly into an early marriage. Most of the young romantic he’d been in those days had faded before I’d known him, as the curly brown hair—the same color, if not the same texture, as mine—had dwindled, slowly revealing more and more of the shiny skin of his forehead. But when he smiled I could see a little of the man who had run away with Renée when she was just two years older than I was now.

It took a smile to get you to realize that? Charlies has been nothing but the sweetest, most doting father anyone could ask for no matter what his selfish, childish ex-wife and daughter did to hurt him. You've somehow managed to estrange yourself from a dad that anyone here would be lucky to have.


I ate breakfast cheerily, watching the dust motes stirring in the sunlight that streamed in the back window. Charlie called out a goodbye, and I heard the cruiser pull away from the house. I hesitated on my way out the door, hand on my rain jacket. It would be tempting fate to leave it home. With a sigh, I folded it over my arm and stepped out into the brightest light I’d seen in months.

By dint of much elbow grease, I was able to get both windows in the truck almost completely rolled down. I was one of the first ones to school; I hadn’t even checked the clock in my hurry to get outside. I parked and headed toward the seldom-used picnic benches on the south side of the cafeteria. The benches were still a little damp, so I sat on my jacket, glad to have a use for it. My homework was done—the product of a slow social life—but there were a few Trig problems I wasn’t sure I had right. I took out my book industriously, but halfway through rechecking the first problem I was daydreaming, watching the sunlight play on the red-barked trees. I sketched inattentively along the margins of my homework. After a few minutes, I suddenly realized I’d drawn five pairs of dark eyes staring out of the page at me. I scrubbed them out with the eraser.

So much of Bella's behavior reinforces her creepiness and possible mental illness.


“Bella!” I heard someone call, and it sounded like Mike. I looked around to realize that the school had become populated while I’d been sitting there, absentminded. Everyone was in t-shirts, some even in shorts though the temperature couldn’t be over sixty. Mike was coming toward me in khaki shorts and a striped Rugby shirt, waving.

Mike that is the worst goddamn outfit ever.


“Hey, Mike,” I called, waving back, unable to be halfhearted on a morning like this.

He came to sit by me, the tidy spikes of his hair shining golden in the light, his grin stretching across his face. He was so delighted to see me, I couldn’t help but feel gratified.

“I never noticed before—your hair has red in it,” he commented, catching between his fingers a strand that was fluttering in the light breeze.

“Only in the sun.”

I became just a little uncomfortable as he tucked the lock behind my ear.

But you're not uncomfortable with kidnapping.


“Great day, isn’t it?”

“My kind of day,” I agreed.

“What did you do yesterday?” His tone was just a bit too proprietary.

“I mostly worked on my essay.” I didn’t add that I was finished with it—no need to sound smug.

So instead you'll just be smug to the readers like always, right?


He hit his forehead with the heel of his hand. “Oh yeah—that’s due Thursday, right?”

“Um, Wednesday, I think.”

“Wednesday?” He frowned. “That’s not good.… What are you writing yours on?”

“Whether Shakespeare’s treatment of the female characters is misogynistic.”

He stared at me like I’d just spoken in pig Latin.

He's wondering how a Stephenie Meyer protagonist could ever understand misogyny.


“I guess I’ll have to get to work on that tonight,” he said, deflated. “I was going to ask if you wanted to go out.”

“Oh.” I was taken off guard. Why couldn’t I ever have a pleasant conversation with Mike anymore without it getting awkward?

“Well, we could go to dinner or something… and I could work on it later.” He smiled at me hopefully.

“Mike…” I hated being put on the spot. “I don’t think that would be the best idea.”

His face fell. “Why?” he asked, his eyes guarded. My thoughts flickered to Edward, wondering if that’s where his thoughts were as well.

“I think… and if you ever repeat what I’m saying right now I will cheerfully beat you to death,” I threatened, “but I think that would hurt Jessica’s feelings.”

I would take her seriously, Mike. This girl is really violent.


He was bewildered, obviously not thinking in that direction at all.


“Really, Mike, are you blind?”

“Oh,” he exhaled—clearly dazed. I took advantage of that to make my escape. “It’s time for class, and I can’t be late again.” I gathered my books up and stuffed them in my bag.

We walked in silence to building three, and his expression was distracted. I hoped whatever thoughts he was immersed in were leading him in the right direction.

When I saw Jessica in Trig, she was bubbling with enthusiasm. She, Angela, and Lauren were going to Port Angeles tonight to go dress shopping for the dance, and she wanted me to come, too, even though I didn’t need one. I was indecisive. It would be nice to get out of town with some girlfriends, but Lauren would be there. And who knew what I could be doing tonight.… But that was definitely the wrong path to let my mind wander down. Of course I was happy about the sunlight. But that wasn’t completely responsible for the euphoric mood I was in, not even close.

So I gave her a maybe, telling her I’d have to talk with Charlie first.

She talked of nothing but the dance on the way to Spanish, continuing as if without an interruption when class finally ended, five minutes late, and we were on our way to lunch. I was far too lost in my own frenzy of anticipation to notice much of what she said. I was painfully eager to see not just him but all the Cullens—to compare them with the new suspicions that plagued my mind. As I crossed the threshold of the cafeteria, I felt the first true tingle of fear slither down my spine and settle in my stomach. Would they be able to know what I was thinking? And then a different feeling jolted through me—would Edward be waiting to sit with me again?

As was my routine, I glanced first toward the Cullens’ table. A shiver of panic trembled in my stomach as I realized it was empty. With dwindling hope, my eyes scoured the rest of the cafeteria, hoping to find him alone, waiting for me. The place was nearly filled—Spanish had made us late—but there was no sign of Edward or any of his family. Desolation hit me with crippling strength.

If you think Bella's separation anxiety is bad now, wait until the second book.


I shambled along behind Jessica, not bothering to pretend to listen anymore.

We were late enough that everyone was already at our table. I avoided the empty chair next to Mike in favor of one by Angela. I vaguely noticed that Mike held the chair out politely for Jessica, and that her face lit up in response.

Angela asked a few quiet questions about the Macbeth paper, which I answered as naturally as I could while spiraling downward in misery. She, too, invited me to go with them tonight, and I agreed now, grasping at anything to distract myself.

I realized I’d been holding on to a last shred of hope when I entered Biology, saw his empty seat, and felt a new wave of disappointment.

The rest of the day passed slowly, dismally. In Gym, we had a lecture on the rules of badminton, the next torture they had lined up for me. But at least it meant I got to sit and listen instead of stumbling around on the court. The best part was the coach didn’t finish, so I got another day off tomorrow. Never mind that the day after they would arm me with a racket before unleashing me on the rest of the class.

Again, we're retreading common ground. This is a virtual repeat of the earlier scene where she sees that Edward isn't around and spends the day wailing and gnashing her teeth before being clumsy in gym.


I was glad to leave campus, so I would be free to pout and mope before I went out tonight with Jessica and company. But right after I walked in the door of Charlie’s house, Jessica called to cancel our plans. I tried to be happy that Mike had asked her out to dinner—I really was relieved that he finally seemed to be catching on—but my enthusiasm sounded false in my own ears. She rescheduled our shopping trip for tomorrow night.

Which left me with little in the way of distractions. I had fish marinating for dinner, with a salad and bread left over from the night before, so there was nothing to do there. I spent a focused half hour on homework, but then I was through with that, too. I checked my e-mail, reading the backlog of letters from my mother, getting snippier as they progressed to the present. I sighed and typed a quick response.  


Sorry. I’ve been out. I went to the beach with some friends. And I had to write a paper.  

My excuses were fairly pathetic, so I gave up on that.  

It’s sunny outside today—I know, I’m shocked, too—so I’m going to go outside and soak up as much vitamin D as I can. I love you,


Again, this is exactly how it's formatted in the book. I thought Bella's internal monologue was part of the email at first. How did an editor not catch this? Is it different on paper?


I decided to kill an hour with non-school-related reading. I had a small collection of books that came with me to Forks, the shabbiest volume being a compilation of the works of Jane Austen. I selected that one and headed to the backyard, grabbing a ragged old quilt from the linen cupboard at the top of the stairs on my way down.

Outside in Charlie’s small, square yard, I folded the quilt in half and laid it out of the reach of the trees’ shadows on the thick lawn that would always be slightly wet, no matter how long the sun shone. I lay on my stomach, crossing my ankles in the air, flipping through the different novels in the book, trying to decide which would occupy my mind the most thoroughly. My favorites were Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I’d read the first most recently, so I started into Sense and Sensibility, only to remember after I began chapter three that the hero of the story happened to be named Edward. Angrily, I turned to Mansfield Park, but the hero of that piece was named Edmund, and that was just too close. Weren’t there any other names available in the late eighteenth century? I snapped the book shut, annoyed, and rolled over onto my back. I pushed my sleeves up as high as they would go, and closed my eyes. I would think of nothing but the warmth on my skin, I told myself severely. The breeze was still light, but it blew tendrils of my hair around my face, and that tickled a bit. I pulled all my hair over my head, letting it fan out on the quilt above me, and focused again on the heat that touched my eyelids, my cheekbones, my nose, my lips, my forearms, my neck, soaked through my light shirt.…

The next thing I was conscious of was the sound of Charlie’s cruiser turning onto the bricks of the driveway. I sat up in surprise, realizing the light was gone, behind the trees, and I had fallen asleep. I looked around, muddled, with the sudden feeling that I wasn’t alone.

“Charlie?” I asked. But I could hear his door slamming in front of the house.

I jumped up, foolishly edgy, gathering the now-damp quilt and my book. I ran inside to get some oil heating on the stove, realizing that dinner would be late. Charlie was hanging up his gun belt and stepping out of his boots when I came in.

“Sorry, Dad, dinner’s not ready yet—I fell asleep outside.” I stifled a yawn.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I wanted to catch the score on the game, anyway.”

If you're wondering why Bella has the feeling she isn't alone, I checked Midnight Sun. Yeah, it's exactly who you think.


I watched TV with Charlie after dinner, for something to do. There wasn’t anything on I wanted to watch, but he knew I didn’t like baseball, so he turned it to some mindless sitcom that neither of us enjoyed. He seemed happy, though, to be doing something together. And it felt good, despite my depression, to make him happy.

“Dad,” I said during a commercial, “Jessica and Angela are going to look at dresses for the dance tomorrow night in Port Angeles, and they wanted me to help them choose… do you mind if I go with them?”

“Jessica Stanley?” he asked.

“And Angela Weber.” I sighed as I gave him the details.

He was confused. “But you’re not going to the dance, right?”

“No, Dad, but I’m helping them find dresses—you know, giving them constructive criticism.” I wouldn’t have to explain this to a woman.

Oh gently caress off.


“Well, okay.” He seemed to realize that he was out of his depth with the girlie stuff. “It’s a school night, though.”

Port Angeles is only an hour's drive from Forks. It's a town of about 19,000 people on the north coast, across the water from British Columbia.


"We’ll leave right after school, so we can get back early. You’ll be okay for dinner, right?”

“Bells, I fed myself for seventeen years before you got here,” he reminded me.

“I don’t know how you survived,” I muttered, then added more clearly, “I’ll leave some things for cold-cut sandwiches in the fridge, okay? Right on top.”

I feel like Bella being mean to her dad is the most aggravating of all the bad behavior she displays. He deserves it the least.


It was sunny again in the morning. I awakened with renewed hope that I grimly tried to suppress. I dressed for the warmer weather in a deep blue V-neck blouse—something I’d worn in the dead of winter in Phoenix.

I had planned my arrival at school so that I barely had time to make it to class. With a sinking heart, I circled the full lot looking for a space, while also searching for the silver Volvo that was clearly not there. I parked in the last row and hurried to English, arriving breathless, but subdued, before the final bell.

It was the same as yesterday—I just couldn’t keep little sprouts of hope from budding in my mind, only to have them squashed painfully as I searched the lunchroom in vain and sat at my empty Biology table.

The Port Angeles scheme was back on again for tonight and made all the more attractive by the fact that Lauren had other obligations. I was anxious to get out of town so I could stop glancing over my shoulder, hoping to see him appearing out of the blue the way he always did. I vowed to myself that I would be in a good mood tonight and not ruin Angela’s or Jessica’s enjoyment in the dress hunting. Maybe I could do a little clothes shopping as well. I refused to think that I might be shopping alone in Seattle this weekend, no longer interested in the earlier arrangement. Surely he wouldn’t cancel without at least telling me.

Why? He's already displayed far worse behavior than canceling at the last minute.


After school, Jessica followed me home in her old white Mercury so that I could ditch my books and truck. I brushed through my hair quickly when I was inside, feeling a slight lift of excitement as I contemplated getting out of Forks. I left a note for Charlie on the table, explaining again where to find dinner, switched my scruffy wallet from my school bag to a purse I rarely used, and ran out to join Jessica. We went to Angela’s house next, and she was waiting for us. My excitement increased exponentially as we actually drove out of the town limits.


Nov 25, 2012

People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.

Meyer has a tendency to repeat scenes over and over again, particularly scenes that woobify her protagonist and make them suffer over and over. Usually it’s to demonstrate what a tragic little hero they are. My aforementioned friend gave me The Host to read because she wanted me to appreciate Meyer (I don’t know why) and the writing there hit a lot of the same beats.

lovely female protagonist, abusive male love interest, potentially interesting scifi fantasy backdrop that goes no where. The Host is an Animorphs rip off where Yeerks take over Earth and possess human bodies etc.

It was okay for the first 20 chapters or so where the protag, one of the aliens, is captured by the humans and they torture her and mistreat her etc. The suffering just repeats itself over and over though, I ended up skipping 15 or so chapters and realized I had missed nothing because they were all dedicated to torturing the protagonist. It also ends on a similar pedophile beat; the protag is eventually given a soulless human corpse to possess and iirc its described like a fragile bisque doll with blonde hair, and it was supposed to be the body of a very little girl I think. The protag takes up a sexual and romantic relationship with the abusive male lead after that.

But it’s also been a solid decade since I read it so who knows. I do remember being very freaked out by how little and young looking the soulless corpse was and how the host was supposed to grow up or something with it. I read it as the host taking over the body of an elementary schooler and then moving in with the older man.

What I’m saying is, Meyer is a goddamn creep. It was weird.

Apr 23, 2014

The fact that Meyer is so clueless about Bella's craziness makes me wonder if she may share similar traits, especially with Bella being a near self-insert. A lot of focus is given by critics to Edward's abuse being painted as just signs of love that Bella needs to understand, but less talking is done about her coming off as badly mentally ill. Bella's serious signs of Borderline Personality Disorder or even sociopathy are portrayed as quirks, generic flaws (because "every protagonist needs flaws!"), or signs of how special she is.

Apr 23, 2014

I already had a Seattle trip planned next year. I may or may not make a visit to Forks and La Push.

Nov 25, 2012

People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.

godspeed my friend

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

I admit it was a little bit funny to see Bella be as lovely to her poor computer as she is to people.

Nov 29, 2004

Storm On The Sea Of Galilee, it's called, and he's in it. Old Rembrandt, he's in the painting. He's in there, right in the middle of the storm, looking straight at you. But... you can't see him. And the reason you can't see him is because the painting has been stolen.

Bella mentioning her CD player reminded me that Meyer had her own playlist of songs that she used while writing her "very visual, movie-like" book.

Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747

opening its mouth and vomiting smaller s

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

At least there was no Cruuuuuuuuxshadows.

Dec 24, 2007

Somebody Awful posted:

At least there was no Cruuuuuuuuxshadows.

I imagine there was a lot more she was too ashamed to publicly admit to.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 8: Port Angeles


Jess drove faster than the Chief, so we made it to Port Angeles by four. It had been a while since I’d had a girls’ night out, and the estrogen rush was invigorating. We listened to whiny rock songs while Jessica jabbered on about the boys we hung out with. Jessica’s dinner with Mike had gone very well, and she was hoping that by Saturday night they would have progressed to the first-kiss stage. I smiled to myself, pleased. Angela was passively happy to be going to the dance, but not really interested in Eric. Jess tried to get her to confess who her type was, but I interrupted with a question about dresses after a bit, to spare her. Angela threw a grateful glance my way.

Meyer consistently demonstrates an extremely stereotypical view of gender that manifests in Bella's inner monologue. Despite her "not like the other girls" Mary Sue traits, she still talks about enjoying stereotypical girlish behavior and expects her father to be completely incapable of understanding her because of his masculinity (as opposed to just not understanding her completely undeserved dislike of him).


Port Angeles was a beautiful little tourist trap, much more polished and quaint than Forks. But Jessica and Angela knew it well, so they didn’t plan to waste time on the picturesque boardwalk by the bay. Jess drove straight to the one big department store in town, which was a few streets in from the bay area’s visitor-friendly face.

The dance was billed as semiformal, and we weren’t exactly sure what that meant. Both Jessica and Angela seemed surprised and almost disbelieving when I told them I’d never been to a dance in Phoenix.

“Didn’t you ever go with a boyfriend or something?” Jess asked dubiously as we walked through the front doors of the store.

“Really,” I tried to convince her, not wanting to confess my dancing problems. “I’ve never had a boyfriend or anything close. I didn’t go out much.”

“Why not?” Jessica demanded.

“No one asked me,” I answered honestly.

She looked skeptical. “People ask you out here,” she reminded me, “and you tell them no.”

"Seriously, none of our obsession with you makes sense."


We were in the juniors’ section now, scanning the racks for dress-up clothes.

You're all 16 or 17. Why are you still so small that you need to shop in the children's section?


“Well, except for Tyler,” Angela amended quietly.

“Excuse me?” I gasped. “What did you say?”

“Tyler told everyone he’s taking you to prom,” Jessica informed me with suspicious eyes.

“He said what?” I sounded like I was choking.

In case you were wondering, no. This faux drama with Tyler being a weirdo never has any bearing on the plot and will only serve as a distraction from the vampire stuff.


“I told you it wasn’t true,” Angela murmured to Jessica.

I was silent, still lost in shock that was quickly turning to irritation. But we had found the dress racks, and now we had work to do.

“That’s why Lauren doesn’t like you,” Jessica giggled while we pawed through the clothes.

I thought it was because she needed to fill the quota of mundane mortal girls who don't immediately fawn over her?


I ground my teeth. “Do you think that if I ran him over with my truck he would stop feeling guilty about the accident? That he might give up on making amends and call it even?”

"I'm not normally violent, but..."


“Maybe,” Jess snickered. “If that’s why he’s doing this.”

The dress selection wasn’t large, but both of them found a few things to try on. I sat on a low chair just inside the dressing room, by the three-way mirror, trying to control my fuming.

Jess was torn between two—one a long, strapless, basic black number, the other a knee-length electric blue with spaghetti straps. I encouraged her to go with the blue; why not play up the eyes? Angela chose a pale pink dress that draped around her tall frame nicely and brought out honey tints in her light brown hair. I complimented them both generously and helped by returning the rejects to their racks. The whole process was much shorter and easier than similar trips I’d taken with Renée at home. I guess there was something to be said for limited choices.

Isn't this the most exciting book you've ever read?


We headed over to shoes and accessories. While they tried things on I merely watched and critiqued, not in the mood to shop for myself, though I did need new shoes. The girls’-night high was wearing off in the wake of my annoyance at Tyler, leaving room for the gloom to move back in.

“Angela?” I began, hesitant, while she was trying on a pair of pink strappy heels—she was overjoyed to have a date tall enough that she could wear high heels at all. Jessica had drifted to the jewelry counter and we were alone.

“Yes?” She held her leg out, twisting her ankle to get a better view of the shoe.

I chickened out. “I like those.”

“I think I’ll get them—though they’ll never match anything but the one dress,” she mused.

“Oh, go ahead—they’re on sale,” I encouraged. She smiled, putting the lid back on a box that contained more practical-looking off-white shoes.

Just riveting.


I tried again. “Um, Angela…” She looked up curiously.

“Is it normal for the… Cullens”—I kept my eyes on the shoes—“to be out of school a lot?” I failed miserably in my attempt to sound nonchalant.

“Yes, when the weather is good they go backpacking all the time—even the doctor. They’re all real outdoorsy,” she told me quietly, examining her shoes, too. She didn’t ask one question, let alone the hundreds that Jessica would have unleashed. I was beginning to really like Angela.

“Oh.” I let the subject drop as Jessica returned to show us the rhinestone jewelry she’d found to match her silver shoes.

I can think of a lot of follow-up questions for her to ask, like "Why is the school okay with their constantly poor attendance instead of reporting them as truant?" or "How do they keep up with schoolwork when they're on backpacking trips and disappearing for a week at a time?"


We planned to go to dinner at a little Italian restaurant on the boardwalk, but the dress shopping hadn’t taken as long as we’d expected. Jess and Angela were going to take their clothes back to the car and then walk down to the bay. I told them I would meet them at the restaurant in an hour—I wanted to look for a bookstore. They were both willing to come with me, but I encouraged them to go have fun—they didn’t know how preoccupied I could get when surrounded by books; it was something I preferred to do alone. They walked off to the car chattering happily, and I headed in the direction Jess pointed out.

I had no trouble finding the bookstore, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. The windows were full of crystals, dream-catchers, and books about spiritual healing. I didn’t even go inside. Through the glass I could see a fifty-year-old woman with long, gray hair worn straight down her back, clad in a dress right out of the sixties, smiling welcomingly from behind the counter. I decided that was one conversation I could skip. There had to be a normal bookstore in town.

I meandered through the streets, which were filling up with end-of-the-workday traffic, and hoped I was headed toward downtown. I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should to where I was going; I was wrestling with despair. I was trying so hard not to think about him, and what Angela had said… and more than anything trying to beat down my hopes for Saturday, fearing a disappointment more painful than the rest, when I looked up to see someone’s silver Volvo parked along the street and it all came crashing down on me. Stupid, unreliable vampire, I thought to myself.

Bella's gotten over her worries about Edward being supernatural really quickly! After freaking out so badly that she was having nightmares, it only took one chapter for her to take it for granted and just keep on with her obsession.


I stomped along in a southerly direction, toward some glass-fronted shops that looked promising. But when I got to them, they were just a repair shop and a vacant space. I still had too much time to go looking for Jess and Angela yet, and I definitely needed to get my mood in hand before I met back up with them. I ran my fingers through my hair a couple of times and took some deep breaths before I continued around the corner.

I started to realize, as I crossed another road, that I was going the wrong direction. The little foot traffic I had seen was going north, and it looked like the buildings here were mostly warehouses. I decided to turn east at the next corner, and then loop around after a few blocks and try my luck on a different street on my way back to the boardwalk.

"Ugh, dad, I can read a map! Why do you think my sense of direction is so bad that I can't drive 4 hours one way to Seattle and get around by myself? Phoenix is so much bigger!"


A group of four men turned around the corner I was heading for, dressed too casually to be heading home from the office, but they were too grimy to be tourists. As they approached me, I realized they weren’t too many years older than I was. They were joking loudly among themselves, laughing raucously and punching each other’s arms. I scooted as far to the inside of the sidewalk as I could to give them room, walking swiftly, looking past them to the corner.

“Hey, there!” one of them called as they passed, and he had to be talking to me since no one else was around. I glanced up automatically. Two of them had paused, the other two were slowing. The closest, a heavyset, dark-haired man in his early twenties, seemed to be the one who had spoken. He was wearing a flannel shirt open over a dirty t-shirt, cut-off jeans, and sandals. He took half a step toward me.

“Hello,” I mumbled, a knee-jerk reaction. Then I quickly looked away and walked faster toward the corner. I could hear them laughing at full volume behind me.

“Hey, wait!” one of them called after me again, but I kept my head down and rounded the corner with a sigh of relief. I could still hear them chortling behind me.

I found myself on a sidewalk leading past the backs of several somber-colored warehouses, each with large bay doors for unloading trucks, padlocked for the night. The south side of the street had no sidewalk, only a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire protecting some kind of engine parts storage yard. I’d wandered far past the part of Port Angeles that I, as a guest, was intended to see. It was getting dark, I realized, the clouds finally returning, piling up on the western horizon, creating an early sunset. The eastern sky was still clear, but graying, shot through with streaks of pink and orange. I’d left my jacket in the car, and a sudden shiver made me cross my arms tightly across my chest. A single van passed me, and then the road was empty.

The commercial district for Port Angeles is a single T-shaped area with the bulk in a dense section on the waterfront. It's surrounded on all sides by residential and harbor areas. There is absolutely no way for a reasonable person to somehow start going south "looking for downtown" and then accidentally wander deep into an industrial area trying to get back.


The sky suddenly darkened further, and, as I looked over my shoulder to glare at the offending cloud, I realized with a shock that two men were walking quietly twenty feet behind me.

They were from the same group I’d passed at the corner, though neither was the dark one who’d spoken to me. I turned my head forward at once, quickening my pace. A chill that had nothing to do with the weather made me shiver again. My purse was on a shoulder strap and I had it slung across my body, the way you were supposed to wear it so it wouldn’t get snatched. I knew exactly where my pepper spray was—still in my duffel bag under the bed, never unpacked. I didn’t have much money with me, just a twenty and some ones, and I thought about “accidentally” dropping my bag and walking away. But a small, frightened voice in the back of my mind warned me that they might be something worse than thieves.

Bella you've been here for months! You still haven't unpacked?


I listened intently to their quiet footsteps, which were much too quiet when compared to the boisterous noise they’d been making earlier, and it didn’t sound like they were speeding up, or getting any closer to me. Breathe, I had to remind myself. You don’t know they’re following you. I continued to walk as quickly as I could without actually running, focusing on the right-hand turn that was only a few yards away from me now. I could hear them, staying as far back as they’d been before. A blue car turned onto the street from the south and drove quickly past me. I thought of jumping out in front of it, but I hesitated, inhibited, unsure that I was really being pursued, and then it was too late.

Bella that is the worst idea for avoiding these guys.


I reached the corner, but a swift glance revealed that it was only a blind drive to the back of another building. I was half-turned in anticipation; I had to hurriedly correct and dash across the narrow drive, back to the sidewalk. The street ended at the next corner, where there was a stop sign. I concentrated on the faint footsteps behind me, deciding whether or not to run. They sounded farther back, though, and I knew they could outrun me in any case. I was sure to trip and go sprawling if I tried to go any faster. The footfalls were definitely farther back. I risked a quick glance over my shoulder, and they were maybe forty feet back now, I saw with relief. But they were both staring at me.

It seemed to take forever for me to get to the corner. I kept my pace steady, the men behind me falling ever so slightly farther behind with every step. Maybe they realized they had scared me and were sorry. I saw two cars going north pass the intersection I was heading for, and I exhaled in relief. There would be more people around once I got off this deserted street. I skipped around the corner with a grateful sigh.

And skidded to a stop.

The street was lined on both sides by blank, doorless, windowless walls. I could see in the distance, two intersections down, streetlamps, cars, and more pedestrians, but they were all too far away. Because lounging against the western building, midway down the street, were the other two men from the group, both watching with excited smiles as I froze dead on the sidewalk. I realized then that I wasn’t being followed.

I was being herded.

I don't think this is a tactic that happens much in real life? Then again, maybe they realized how dumb Bella was when it came to directions.


I paused for only a second, but it felt like a very long time. I turned then and darted to the other side of the road. I had a sinking feeling that it was a wasted attempt. The footsteps behind me were louder now.

“There you are!” The booming voice of the stocky, dark-haired man shattered the intense quiet and made me jump. In the gathering darkness, it seemed like he was looking past me.

“Yeah,” a voice called loudly from behind me, making me jump again as I tried to hurry down the street. “We just took a little detour.”

My steps had to slow now. I was closing the distance between myself and the lounging pair too quickly. I had a good loud scream, and I sucked in air, preparing to use it, but my throat was so dry I wasn’t sure how much volume I could manage. With a quick movement I slipped my purse over my head, gripping the strap with one hand, ready to surrender it or use it as weapon as need demanded.


The thickset man shrugged away from the wall as I warily came to a stop, and walked slowly into the street.

“Stay away from me,” I warned in a voice that was supposed to sound strong and fearless. But I was right about the dry throat—no volume.

“Don’t be like that, sugar,” he called, and the raucous laughter started again behind me.

I braced myself, feet apart, trying to remember through my panic what little self-defense I knew. Heel of the hand thrust upward, hopefully breaking the nose or shoving it into the brain. Finger through the eye socket—try to hook around and pop the eye out. And the standard knee to the groin, of course. That same pessimistic voice in my mind spoke up then, reminding me that I probably wouldn’t have a chance against one of them, and there were four. Shut up! I commanded the voice before terror could incapacitate me. I wasn’t going out without taking someone with me. I tried to swallow so I could build up a decent scream.

Meyer essentially admits that she has a way out of this scene that doesn't require her to be saved and can give her some level of agency for the first time in the whole goddamn story, but still writes around it. It also comes off uncharacteristically meek, as Bella has spent much of the book seriously fantasizing about hurting people and damaging property. Maybe she's one of those who can only do it if the victim isn't resisting?


Headlights suddenly flew around the corner, the car almost hitting the stocky one, forcing him to jump back toward the sidewalk. I dove into the road—this car was going to stop, or have to hit me.

Why does she keep thinking you can escape danger by leaping in front of cars?!


But the silver car unexpectedly fishtailed around, skidding to a stop with the passenger door open just a few feet from me.

“Get in,” a furious voice commanded.

It was amazing how instantaneously the choking fear vanished, amazing how suddenly the feeling of security washed over me—even before I was off the street—as soon as I heard his voice. I jumped into the seat, slamming the door shut behind me.

It was dark in the car, no light had come on with the opening of the door, and I could barely see his face in the glow from the dashboard. The tires squealed as he spun around to face north, accelerating too quickly, swerving toward the stunned men on the street. I caught a glimpse of them diving for the sidewalk as we straightened out and sped toward the harbor.

“Put on your seat belt,” he commanded, and I realized I was clutching the seat with both hands. I quickly obeyed; the snap as the belt connected was loud in the darkness. He took a sharp left, racing forward, blowing through several stop signs without a pause.

Here's the scene in the film. For all the problems with it, it does fix a lot of issues with Meyer's writing. One of them is letting Bella actually start fighting these guys off instead of cowering.


But I felt utterly safe and, for the moment, totally unconcerned about where we were going. I stared at his face in profound relief, relief that went beyond my sudden deliverance. I studied his flawless features in the limited light, waiting for my breath to return to normal, until it occurred to me that his expression was murderously angry.

“Are you okay?” I asked, surprised at how hoarse my voice sounded.

“No,” he said curtly, and his tone was livid.

While he's supposed to be angry because Bella's presence prevented him from killing all of them, I want to assume that he just can't figure out how she managed to wander this way looking for the waterfront.


I sat in silence, watching his face while his blazing eyes stared straight ahead, until the car came to a sudden stop. I glanced around, but it was too dark to see anything beside the vague outline of dark trees crowding the roadside. We weren’t in town anymore.

Bella would be the easiest victim a serial killer ever had.


“Bella?” he asked, his voice tight, controlled.

“Yes?” My voice was still rough. I tried to clear my throat quietly.

“Are you all right?” He still didn’t look at me, but the fury was plain on his face.

“Yes,” I croaked softly.

“Distract me, please,” he ordered.

“I’m sorry, what?” He exhaled sharply.

“Just prattle about something unimportant until I calm down,” he clarified, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.

The book hasn't done enough of that already?


“Um.” I wracked my brain for something trivial. “I’m going to run over Tyler Crowley tomorrow before school?”

He was still squeezing his eyes closed, but the corner of his mouth twitched.


“He’s telling everyone that he’s taking me to prom—either he’s insane or he’s still trying to make up for almost killing me last… well, you remember it, and he thinks prom is somehow the correct way to do this. So I figure if I endanger his life, then we’re even, and he can’t keep trying to make amends. I don’t need enemies and maybe Lauren would back off if he left me alone. I might have to total his Sentra, though. If he doesn’t have a ride he can’t take anyone to prom…,” I babbled on.

“I heard about that.” He sounded a bit more composed.

You did?” I asked in disbelief, my previous irritation flaring. “If he’s paralyzed from the neck down, he can’t go to the prom, either,” I muttered, refining my plan.

Maybe Bella is so into Edward because he'll hurt people for her instead.


Edward sighed, and finally opened his eyes.


“Not really.”

I waited, but he didn’t speak again. He leaned his head back against the seat, staring at the ceiling of the car. His face was rigid.

“What’s wrong?” My voice came out in a whisper.

“Sometimes I have a problem with my temper, Bella.” He was whispering, too, and as he stared out the window, his eyes narrowed into slits. “But it wouldn’t be helpful for me to turn around and hunt down those…” He didn’t finish his sentence, looking away, struggling for a moment to control his anger again.

Is there a single interaction Edward and Bella have had that wasn't completely full of red flags?


“At least,” he continued, “that’s what I’m trying to convince myself.”

“Oh.” The word seemed inadequate, but I couldn’t think of a better response.

For most people, that would be silently dialing 911 on their phone.


We sat in silence again. I glanced at the clock on the dashboard. It was past six-thirty.

“Jessica and Angela will be worried,” I murmured. “I was supposed to meet them.”

He started the engine without another word, turning around smoothly and speeding back toward town. We were under the streetlights in no time at all, still going too fast, weaving with ease through the cars slowly cruising the boardwalk. He parallel-parked against the curb in a space I would have thought much too small for the Volvo, but he slid in effortlessly in one try. I looked out the window to see the lights of La Bella Italia, and Jess and Angela just leaving, pacing anxiously away from us.

Bella Italia is a real restaurant in Port Angeles, but the scenes in the town were filmed in St. Helens, OR.


“How did you know where…?” I began, but then I just shook my head. I heard the door open and turned to see him getting out.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m taking you to dinner.” He smiled slightly, but his eyes were hard. He stepped out of the car and slammed the door. I fumbled with my seat belt, and then hurried to get out of the car as well. He was waiting for me on the sidewalk.

He spoke before I could. “Go stop Jessica and Angela before I have to track them down, too. I don’t think I could restrain myself if I ran into your other friends again.”

I shivered at the threat in his voice.

Am I the only one finding this entire thing utterly disgusting and disturbing? I'm seriously starting to wonder what's wrong with Stephenie Meyer if this is the kind of relationship she wants to portray for her readers to fantasize about.


“Jess! Angela!” I yelled after them, waving when they turned. They rushed back to me, the pronounced relief on both their faces simultaneously changing to surprise as they saw who I was standing next to. They hesitated a few feet from us.

“Where have you been?” Jessica’s voice was suspicious.

“I got lost,” I admitted sheepishly. “And then I ran into Edward.” I gestured toward him.

“Would it be all right if I joined you?” he asked in his silken, irresistible voice. I could see from their staggered expressions that he had never unleashed his talents on them before.

“Er… sure,” Jessica breathed.

“Um, actually, Bella, we already ate while we were waiting—sorry,” Angela confessed.

“That’s fine—I’m not hungry.” I shrugged.

“I think you should eat something.” Edward’s voice was low, but full of authority. He looked up at Jessica and spoke slightly louder. “Do you mind if I drive Bella home tonight? That way you won’t have to wait while she eats.”

I know it's absolutely not how Meyer meant it, but this dialogue reminds me way too much of abusive relationships where the guy is subtly nudging the girl to say the right things to separate herself from anyone who could protect her.


“Uh, no problem, I guess…” She bit her lip, trying to figure out from my expression whether that was what I wanted. I winked at her. I wanted nothing more than to be alone with my perpetual savior. There were so many questions that I couldn’t bombard him with till we were by ourselves.

“Okay.” Angela was quicker than Jessica. “See you tomorrow, Bella… Edward.” She grabbed Jessica’s hand and pulled her toward the car, which I could see a little ways away, parked across First Street. As they got in, Jess turned and waved, her face eager with curiosity. I waved back, waiting for them to drive away before I turned to face him.

“Honestly, I’m not hungry,” I insisted, looking up to scrutinize his face. His expression was unreadable.

“Humor me.”

Is the "or I'll stab you" just implied?


He walked to the door of the restaurant and held it open with an obstinate expression. Obviously, there would be no further discussion. I walked past him into the restaurant with a resigned sigh.

The restaurant wasn’t crowded—it was the off-season in Port Angeles. The host was female, and I understood the look in her eyes as she assessed Edward. She welcomed him a little more warmly than necessary. I was surprised by how much that bothered me. She was several inches taller than I was, and unnaturally blond.

What is it with her thing against blondes?


“A table for two?” His voice was alluring, whether he was aiming for that or not. I saw her eyes flicker to me and then away, satisfied by my obvious ordinariness, and by the cautious, no-contact space Edward kept between us. She led us to a table big enough for four in the center of the most crowded area of the dining floor.

I was about to sit, but Edward shook his head at me.

“Perhaps something more private?” he insisted quietly to the host. I wasn’t sure, but it looked like he smoothly handed her a tip. I’d never seen anyone refuse a table except in old movies.

I feel like you shouldn't need to slip a waitress a twenty to get her to put you at a booth on a dead night.


“Sure.” She sounded as surprised as I was. She turned and led us around a partition to a small ring of booths—all of them empty. “How’s this?”

“Perfect.” He flashed his gleaming smile, dazing her momentarily.

“Um”—she shook her head, blinking—“your server will be right out.” She walked away unsteadily.

“You really shouldn’t do that to people,” I criticized. “It’s hardly fair.”

“Do what?”

“Dazzle them like that—she’s probably hyperventilating in the kitchen right now.”

He seemed confused.

“Oh, come on,” I said dubiously. “You have to know the effect you have on people.”

He tilted his head to one side, and his eyes were curious. “I dazzle people?”

“You haven’t noticed? Do you think everybody gets their way so easily?”

Midnight Sun reveals, oddly, that Edward is actually attempting to scare people by doing things like smiling with full teeth. He's somehow consistently confused as to why they find him hot instead of terrifying.


He ignored my questions. “Do I dazzle you?”

“Frequently,” I admitted.

And then our server arrived, her face expectant. The hostess had definitely dished behind the scenes, and this new girl didn’t look disappointed. She flipped a strand of short black hair behind one ear and smiled with unnecessary warmth.

“Hello. My name is Amber, and I’ll be your server tonight. What can I get you to drink?” I didn’t miss that she was speaking only to him.

He looked at me.

“I’ll have a Coke.” It sounded like a question.

“Two Cokes,” he said.

“I’ll be right back with that,” she assured him with another unnecessary smile. But he didn’t see it. He was watching me.

“What?” I asked when she left.

His eyes stayed fixed on my face. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine,” I replied, surprised by his intensity.

“You don’t feel dizzy, sick, cold…?”

“Should I?”

He chuckled at my puzzled tone. “Well, I’m actually waiting for you to go into shock.” His face twisted up into that perfect crooked smile.

And this is where he reveals that he poisoned her in the car and is taking her back to his attic, right?


“I don’t think that will happen,” I said after I could breathe again. “I’ve always been very good at repressing unpleasant things.”

“Just the same, I’ll feel better when you have some sugar and food in you.”

Right on cue, the waitress appeared with our drinks and a basket of breadsticks. She stood with her back to me as she placed them on the table.

“Are you ready to order?” she asked Edward.

“Bella?” he asked. She turned unwillingly toward me.

I picked the first thing I saw on the menu. “Um… I’ll have the mushroom ravioli.”

“And you?” She turned back to him with a smile.

“Nothing for me,” he said. Of course not.

“Let me know if you change your mind.” The coy smile was still in place, but he wasn’t looking at her, and she left dissatisfied.

“Drink,” he ordered.

Man, you've barely spoken and you're already at the stage of your relationship where he orders you around!


I sipped at my soda obediently, and then drank more deeply, surprised by how thirsty I was. I realized I had finished the whole thing when he pushed his glass toward me.

“Thanks,” I muttered, still thirsty. The cold from the icy soda was radiating through my chest, and I shivered.

“Are you cold?”

“It’s just the Coke,” I explained, shivering again.

“Don’t you have a jacket?” His voice was disapproving.

“Yes.” I looked at the empty bench next to me. “Oh—I left it in Jessica’s car,” I realized.

Edward was shrugging out of his jacket. I suddenly realized that I had never once noticed what he was wearing—not just tonight, but ever. I just couldn’t seem to look away from his face. I made myself look now, focusing. He was removing a light beige leather jacket now; underneath he wore an ivory turtleneck sweater. It fit him snugly, emphasizing how muscular his chest was.

He handed me the jacket, interrupting my ogling.

“Thanks,” I said again, sliding my arms into his jacket. It was cold—the way my jacket felt when I first picked it up in the morning, hanging in the drafty hallway. I shivered again. It smelled amazing. I inhaled, trying to identify the delicious scent. It didn’t smell like cologne. The sleeves were much too long; I shoved them back so I could free my hands.

“That color blue looks lovely with your skin,” he said, watching me. I was surprised; I looked down, flushing, of course. He pushed the bread basket toward me.

“Really, I’m not going into shock,” I protested.

This isn't an exaggeration or deception. Edward really believes Bella should be passing out from shock right now and that her thirst is a symptom. If he was that concerned, shouldn't he be getting her medical help instead of letting her faint into her mushroom ravioli?


“You should be—a normal person would be. You don’t even look shaken.” He seemed unsettled. He stared into my eyes, and I saw how light his eyes were, lighter than I’d ever seen them, golden butterscotch.

“I feel very safe with you,” I confessed, mesmerized into telling the truth again.

That displeased him; his alabaster brow furrowed. He shook his head, frowning.

“This is more complicated than I’d planned,” he murmured to himself.

I just keep picturing a serial killer trying to get Bella sufficiently afraid for him to feel right when killing her, and she just keeps smiling and talking about how great he is and he gets so frustrated.


I picked up a breadstick and began nibbling on the end, measuring his expression. I wondered when it would be okay to start questioning him.

“Usually you’re in a better mood when your eyes are so light,” I commented, trying to distract him from whatever thought had left him frowning and somber.

He stared at me, stunned. “What?”

“You’re always crabbier when your eyes are black—I expect it then,” I went on. “I have a theory about that.”

His eyes narrowed. “More theories?”

“Mm-hm.” I chewed on a small bite of the bread, trying to look indifferent.

“I hope you were more creative this time… or are you still stealing from comic books?” His faint smile was mocking; his eyes were still tight.

“Well, no, I didn’t get it from a comic book, but I didn’t come up with it on my own, either,” I confessed.

“And?” he prompted.

But then the waitress strode around the partition with my food. I realized we’d been unconsciously leaning toward each other across the table, because we both straightened up as she approached. She set the dish in front of me—it looked pretty good—and turned quickly to Edward.

“Did you change your mind?” she asked. “Isn’t there anything I can get you?” I may have been imagining the double meaning in her words.

“No, thank you, but some more soda would be nice.” He gestured with a long white hand to the empty cups in front of me.


“Sure.” She removed the empty glasses and walked away.

“You were saying?” he asked.

“I’ll tell you about it in the car. If…” I paused.

“There are conditions?” He raised one eyebrow, his voice ominous.

“I do have a few questions, of course.”

“Of course.”

The waitress was back with two more Cokes. She sat them down without a word this time, and left again. I took a sip.

Another common flaw with amateur writers is making a script instead of a book. In order to flesh out the world, the author puts in massive amounts of detail about what everyone is doing at any given time, exactly what everything looks like and what they're all wearing, and hand-holding the reader with the emotions and inflection everyone is supposed to be speaking with.


“Well, go ahead,” he pushed, his voice still hard.

I started with the most undemanding. Or so I thought. “Why are you in Port Angeles?”

He looked down, folding his large hands together slowly on the table. His eyes flickered up at me from under his lashes, the hint of a smirk on his face.


“But that’s the easiest one,” I objected.

“Next,” he repeated.

Yet another good way to start a relationship: don't even try to come up with a plausible excuse for your stalking and just refuse to answer any questions.


I looked down, frustrated. I unrolled my silverware, picked up my fork, and carefully speared a ravioli. I put it in my mouth slowly, still looking down, chewing while I thought. The mushrooms were good. I swallowed and took another sip of Coke before I looked up.

Again, this is an entire paragraph that's pointless. Every single chapter and my commentary comes close to the 50,000 character post limit because of how much extraneous detail she puts in.


“Okay, then.” I glared at him, and continued slowly. “Let’s say, hypothetically of course, that… someone… could know what people are thinking, read minds, you know—with a few exceptions.”

“Just one exception,” he corrected, “hypothetically.”

“All right, with one exception, then.” I was thrilled that he was playing along, but I tried to seem casual. “How does that work? What are the limitations? How would… that someone… find someone else at exactly the right time? How would he know she was in trouble?” I wondered if my convoluted questions even made sense.

“Hypothetically?” he asked.


“Well, if… that someone…”

“Let’s call him ‘Joe,’” I suggested.

He smiled wryly. “Joe, then. If Joe had been paying attention, the timing wouldn’t have needed to be quite so exact.” He shook his head, rolling his eyes. “Only you could get into trouble in a town this small. You would have devastated their crime rate statistics for a decade, you know.”

Even Edward can't believe this poo poo.


“We were speaking of a hypothetical case,” I reminded him frostily.

He laughed at me, his eyes warm.

“Yes, we were,” he agreed. “Shall we call you ‘Jane’?”

“How did you know?” I asked, unable to curb my intensity. I realized I was leaning toward him again.

He seemed to be wavering, torn by some internal dilemma. His eyes locked with mine, and I guessed he was making the decision right then whether or not to simply tell me the truth.

“You can trust me, you know,” I murmured. I reached forward, without thinking, to touch his folded hands, but he slid them away minutely, and I pulled my hand back.

“I don’t know if I have a choice anymore.” His voice was almost a whisper. “I was wrong—you’re much more observant than I gave you credit for.”

“I thought you were always right.”

“I used to be.” He shook his head again. “I was wrong about you on one other thing, as well. You’re not a magnet for accidents—that’s not a broad enough classification. You are a magnet for trouble. If there is anything dangerous within a ten-mile radius, it will invariably find you.”

And if it doesn't find her, she'll seek it out on purpose to fulfill a perverse pleasure!


“And you put yourself into that category?” I guessed.

His face turned cold, expressionless. “Unequivocally.”

I stretched my hand across the table again—ignoring him when he pulled back slightly once more—to touch the back of his hand shyly with my fingertips. His skin was cold and hard, like a stone.

“Thank you.” My voice was fervent with gratitude. “That’s twice now.”

His face softened. “Let’s not try for three, agreed?”

I scowled, but nodded. He moved his hand out from under mine, placing both of his under the table. But he leaned toward me.

Bella will not only go for three before the book ends, but by the end of the series the amount of times she has to be saved is uncountable.


“I followed you to Port Angeles,” he admitted, speaking in a rush. “I’ve never tried to keep a specific person alive before, and it’s much more troublesome than I would have believed. But that’s probably just because it’s you. Ordinary people seem to make it through the day without so many catastrophes.” He paused. I wondered if it should bother me that he was following me; instead I felt a strange surge of pleasure. He stared, maybe wondering why my lips were curving into an involuntary smile.

“Did you ever think that maybe my number was up the first time, with the van, and that you’ve been interfering with fate?” I speculated, distracting myself.


“That wasn’t the first time,” he said, and his voice was hard to hear. I stared at him in amazement, but he was looking down. “Your number was up the first time I met you.”

I felt a spasm of fear at his words, and the abrupt memory of his violent black glare that first day… but the overwhelming sense of safety I felt in his presence stifled it. By the time he looked up to read my eyes, there was no trace of fear in them.

“You remember?” he asked, his angel’s face grave.

“Yes.” I was calm.

“And yet here you sit.” There was a trace of disbelief in his voice; he raised one eyebrow.

"Seriously, your danger fetish is starting to worry me."


“Yes, here I sit… because of you.” I paused. “Because somehow you knew how to find me today…?” I prompted.

He pressed his lips together, staring at me through narrowed eyes, deciding again. His eyes flashed down to my full plate, and then back to me.

“You eat, I’ll talk,” he bargained.

I quickly scooped up another ravioli and popped it in my mouth.

“It’s harder than it should be—keeping track of you. Usually I can find someone very easily, once I’ve heard their mind before.” He looked at me anxiously, and I realized I had frozen. I made myself swallow, then stabbed another ravioli and tossed it in.

“I was keeping tabs on Jessica, not carefully—like I said, only you could find trouble in Port Angeles—and at first I didn’t notice when you took off on your own. Then, when I realized that you weren’t with her anymore, I went looking for you at the bookstore I saw in her head. I could tell that you hadn’t gone in, and that you’d gone south… and I knew you would have to turn around soon. So I was just waiting for you, randomly searching through the thoughts of people on the street—to see if anyone had noticed you so I would know where you were. I had no reason to be worried… but I was strangely anxious.…” He was lost in thought, staring past me, seeing things I couldn’t imagine.

“I started to drive in circles, still… listening. The sun was finally setting, and I was about to get out and follow you on foot. And then—” He stopped, clenching his teeth together in sudden fury. He made an effort to calm himself.

“Then what?” I whispered. He continued to stare over my head.

“I heard what they were thinking,” he growled, his upper lip curling slightly back over his teeth. “I saw your face in his mind.” He suddenly leaned forward, one elbow appearing on the table, his hand covering his eyes. The movement was so swift it startled me.

Even his dramatic gestures have super speed!


“It was very… hard—you can’t imagine how hard—for me to simply take you away, and leave them… alive.” His voice was muffled by his arm. “I could have let you go with Jessica and Angela, but I was afraid if you left me alone, I would go looking for them,” he admitted in a whisper.

I sat quietly, dazed, my thoughts incoherent. My hands were folded in my lap, and I was leaning weakly against the back of the seat. He still had his face in his hand, and he was as still as if he’d been carved from the stone his skin resembled.

Finally he looked up, his eyes seeking mine, full of his own questions.

“Are you ready to go home?” he asked.

“I’m ready to leave,” I qualified, overly grateful that we had the hour-long ride home together. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him.

The waitress appeared as if she’d been called. Or watching.

“How are we doing?” she asked Edward.

“We’re ready for the check, thank you.” His voice was quiet, rougher, still reflecting the strain of our conversation. It seemed to muddle her. He looked up, waiting.

“S-sure,” she stuttered. “Here you go.” She pulled a small leather folder from the front pocket of her black apron and handed it to him.

There was a bill in his hand already. He slipped it into the folder and handed it right back to her.

“No change.” He smiled. Then he stood up, and I scrambled awkwardly to my feet.

She smiled invitingly at him again. “You have a nice evening.”

He didn’t look away from me as he thanked her. I suppressed a smile.

He walked close beside me to the door, still careful not to touch me. I remembered what Jessica had said about her relationship with Mike, how they were almost to the first-kiss stage. I sighed. Edward seemed to hear me, and he looked down curiously. I looked at the sidewalk, grateful that he didn’t seem to be able to know what I was thinking.

He opened the passenger door, holding it for me as I stepped in, shutting it softly behind me. I watched him walk around the front of the car, amazed, yet again, by how graceful he was. I probably should have been used to that by now—but I wasn’t. I had a feeling Edward wasn’t the kind of person anyone got used to.

Once inside the car, he started the engine and turned the heater on high. It had gotten very cold, and I guessed the good weather was at an end. I was warm in his jacket, though, breathing in the scent of it when I thought he couldn’t see.

Edward pulled out through the traffic, apparently without a glance, flipping around to head toward the freeway.

“Now,” he said significantly, “it’s your turn.”

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 03:30 on Sep 24, 2020

May 10, 2008


And the way he sometimes spoke, with unfamiliar cadences and phrases that better fit the style of a turn-of-the-century novel than that of a twenty-first-century classroom.

Does he... ever actually do this on the page?
Because I don't remember noticing it.

Apr 23, 2014

The_White_Crane posted:

Does he... ever actually do this on the page?
Because I don't remember noticing it.

His dialogue feels more like when a teenager who reads a lot decides to be extremely proper with their grammar and start using words they just learned.

Apr 10, 2010

College Slice

The_White_Crane posted:

Does he... ever actually do this on the page?
Because I don't remember noticing it.

I like to think he talks like everybody else, but every once in a while, admits to being steamed up, asks Bella if she's on the make, and just calls things he likes dilly.

Epicurius fucked around with this message at 16:31 on Jul 8, 2019

Sep 8, 2016

this is so much more terrifying to read as someone who has now experienced healthy adult relationships than it was when I was 11. someone please rescue this girl

Apr 23, 2014

PsychedelicWarlord posted:

this is so much more terrifying to read as someone who has now experienced healthy adult relationships than it was when I was 11. someone please rescue this girl

I know we set out to try and treat this series fairly and look for redeeming qualities, but man did it exceed my expectations. Not only is it as bad as is claimed, it's even worse!

A human heart
Oct 10, 2012

PsychedelicWarlord posted:

"“Why did you even bother?” I asked frigidly.

He paused, and for a brief moment his stunning face was unexpectedly vulnerable.

“I don’t know,” he whispered."

good thread summary

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

PsychedelicWarlord posted:

someone please institutionalize this girl

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 9: Theory


“Can I just ask one more?" I pleaded as Edward accelerated much too quickly down the quiet street. He didn’t seem to be paying any attention to the road.

He sighed.

He feels the same as us about Bella destroying a dramatic scene transition so quickly.


“One,” he agreed. His lips pressed together into a cautious line.

“Well… you said you knew I hadn’t gone into the bookstore, and that I had gone south. I was just wondering how you knew that.”

He looked away, deliberating.

“I thought we were past all the evasiveness,” I grumbled.

He almost smiled.

“Fine, then. I followed your scent.” He looked at the road, giving me time to compose my face. I couldn’t think of an acceptable response to that, but I filed it carefully away for future study. I tried to refocus. I wasn’t ready to let him be finished, now that he was finally explaining things.

“And then you didn’t answer one of my first questions…” I stalled.

He looked at me with disapproval. “Which one?”

“How does it work—the mind-reading thing? Can you read anybody’s mind, anywhere? How do you do it? Can the rest of your family…?” I felt silly, asking for clarification on make-believe.

Come on, Bella. Do you believe in it or not? Your entire attraction to this guy seems to be based on the danger of him being a vampire. Don't let it falter now!


“That’s more than one,” he pointed out. I simply intertwined my fingers and gazed at him, waiting.

“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.” He paused thoughtfully. “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”—he frowned as he said the word—“when I’m not accidentally answering someone’s thoughts rather than their words.”

“Why do you think you can’t hear me?” I asked curiously.

He looked at me, his eyes enigmatic.

“I don’t know,” he murmured. “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.” He grinned at me, suddenly amused.

“My mind doesn’t work right? I’m a freak?”



The words bothered me more than they should—probably because his speculation hit home. I’d always suspected as much, and it embarrassed me to have it confirmed.

“I hear voices in my mind and you’re worried that you’re the freak,” he laughed. “Don’t worry, it’s just a theory.…” His face tightened. “Which brings us back to you.”

Edward's expressions change even more than his mood. It's hard to tell if it's Meyer representing that he's engaging in a facsimile of human behavior or if she just feels a need to match expressions and inflection to every line.


I sighed. How to begin?

“Aren’t we past all the evasions now?” he reminded me softly.

I looked away from his face for the first time, trying to find words. I happened to notice the speedometer. “Holy crow!” I shouted. “Slow down!”

Holy crow?


“What’s wrong?” He was startled. But the car didn’t decelerate.

“You’re going a hundred miles an hour!” I was still shouting. I shot a panicky glance out the window, but it was too dark to see much. The road was only visible in the long patch of bluish brightness from the headlights. The forest along both sides of the road was like a black wall—as hard as a wall of steel if we veered off the road at this speed.

“Relax, Bella.” He rolled his eyes, still not slowing.

I know, vampire reflexes, but behavior like speeding and refusing to slow down even when your passengers are panicking is also common behavior of terrible people in real life and would serve as yet another red flag in this early relationship.


“Are you trying to kill us?” I demanded.

“We’re not going to crash.”

I tried to modulate my voice. “Why are you in such a hurry?”

“I always drive like this.” He turned to smile crookedly at me.

“Keep your eyes on the road!”

“I’ve never been in an accident, Bella—I’ve never even gotten a ticket.” He grinned and tapped his forehead. “Built-in radar detector.”

“Very funny.” I fumed. “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,” he agreed with a short, hard laugh. “But you can’t.” He sighed, and I watched with relief as the needle gradually drifted toward eighty. “Happy?”

Did he just...not consider that?



“I hate driving slow,” he muttered.

“This is slow?”

“Enough commentary on my driving,” he snapped. “I’m still waiting for your latest theory.”

This is a loving relationship between two soulmates who were destined to be together. Can't you feel the love in every conversation they have?


I bit my lip. He looked down at me, his honey eyes unexpectedly gentle.

Yeah but you just snapped at her for being afraid of dying in a car crash that you'd cause, so should we really believe you when you look kind and gentle?


“I won’t laugh,” he promised.

“I’m more afraid that you’ll be angry with me.”

“Is it that bad?”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

He waited. I was looking down at my hands, so I couldn’t see his expression.

“Go ahead.” His voice was calm.

“I don’t know how to start,” I admitted.

“Why don’t you start at the beginning… you said you didn’t come up with this on your own.”


“What got you started—a book? A movie?” he probed.

“No—it was Saturday, at the beach.” I risked a glance up at his face. He looked puzzled.

“I ran into an old family friend—Jacob Black,” I continued. “His dad and Charlie have been friends since I was a baby.”

He still looked confused.

“His dad is one of the Quileute elders.” I watched him carefully. His confused expression froze in place. “We went for a walk—” I edited all my scheming out of the story “—and he was telling me some old legends—trying to scare me, I think. He told me one…” I hesitated.

“Go on,” he said.

“About vampires.” I realized I was whispering. I couldn’t look at his face now. But I saw his knuckles tighten convulsively on the wheel.

“And you immediately thought of me?” Still calm.

“No. He… mentioned your family.” He was silent, staring at the road.

I was worried suddenly, worried about protecting Jacob.

You loving idiot


“He just thought it was a silly superstition,” I said quickly. “He didn’t expect me to think anything of it.” It didn’t seem like enough; I had to confess. “It was my fault, I forced him to tell me.”


“Lauren said something about you—she was trying to provoke 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,” I admitted, hanging my head.

Bella's first interaction with Jacob was pretending to flirt to manipulate him into telling her about the Cullens' identity as vampires, and the second time he pops up is her scrambling to keep her impulsive lie-by-omission from getting him and his whole family killed!


He startled me by laughing. I glared up at him. He was laughing, but his eyes were fierce, staring ahead.

“Tricked him how?” he asked.

“I tried to flirt—it worked better than I thought it would.” Disbelief colored my tone as I remembered.

“I’d like to have seen that.” He chuckled darkly. “And you accused me of dazzling people—poor Jacob Black.”

I blushed and looked out my window into the night.

“What did you do then?” he asked after a minute.

“I did some research on the Internet.”

“And did that convince you?” His voice sounded barely interested. But his hands were clamped hard onto the steering wheel.

Edward is one of those teachers who tells you that Wikipedia isn't a source.


“No. Nothing fit. Most of it was kind of silly. And then…” I stopped.


“I decided it didn’t matter,” I whispered.

“It didn’t matter?” His tone made me look up—I had finally broken through his carefully composed mask. His face was incredulous, with just a hint of the anger I’d feared.

Even he can't believe this poo poo!


“No,” I said softly. “It doesn’t matter to me what you are.”

A hard, mocking edge entered his voice. “You don’t care if I’m a monster? If I’m not human?”


He was silent, staring straight ahead again. His face was bleak and cold.

“You’re angry,” I sighed. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“No,” he said, but his tone was as hard as his face. “I’d rather know what you’re thinking—even if what you’re thinking is insane.”

“So I’m wrong again?” I challenged.

“That’s not what I was referring to. ‘It doesn’t matter’!” he quoted, gritting his teeth together.

“I’m right?” I gasped.

“Does it matter?”

"Matter" is starting to not look like a word any more.


I took a deep breath.

“Not really.” I paused. “But I am curious.” My voice, at least, was composed.

He was suddenly resigned. “What are you curious about?”

“How old are you?”

“Seventeen,” he answered promptly.

“And how long have you been seventeen?”

His lips twitched as he stared at the road. “A while,” he admitted at last.

“Okay.” I smiled, pleased that he was still being honest with me. He stared down at me with watchful eyes, much as he had before, when he was worried I would go into shock. I smiled wider in encouragement, and he frowned.

“Don’t laugh—but how can you come out during the daytime?”

He laughed anyway. “Myth.”

“Burned by the sun?”


“Sleeping in coffins?”

“Myth.” He hesitated for a moment, and a peculiar tone entered his voice. “I can’t sleep.”

It took me a minute to absorb that. “At all?”

“Never,” he said, his voice nearly inaudible. He turned to look at me with a wistful expression. The golden eyes held mine, and I lost my train of thought. I stared at him until he looked away.

Some of you who are familiar with the movie and its memes may be wondering where this scene came from.

This is probably the most infamous scene in all the movies, the one that someone with only the barest hint of what Twilight is about knows and quotes. Melissa Rosenberg's script made the reveal of Edward as a vampire more dramatic, only to be instantaneously dragged down by some utterly horrific acting and strange camera decisions.


“You haven’t asked me the most important question yet.” His voice was hard now, and when he looked at me again his eyes were cold.

I blinked, still dazed. “Which one is that?”

“You aren’t concerned about my diet?” he asked sarcastically.

“Oh,” I murmured, “that.”

“Yes, that.” His voice was bleak. “Don’t you want to know if I drink blood?”

I flinched. “Well, Jacob said something about that.”

“What did Jacob say?” he asked flatly.

“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?” His voice was deeply skeptical.

“Not exactly. He said you weren’t supposed to be dangerous. But the Quileutes still didn’t want you on their land, just in case.”

They've had a bad track record with white people coming on their land.


He looked forward, but I couldn’t tell if he was watching the road or not.

“So was he right? About not hunting people?” I tried to keep my voice as even as possible.

“The Quileutes have a long memory,” he whispered.

I took it as a confirmation.

“Don’t let that make you complacent, though,” he warned me. “They’re right to keep their distance from us. We are still dangerous.”

“I don’t understand.”

“We try,” he explained slowly. “We’re usually very good at what we do. Sometimes we make mistakes. Me, for example, allowing myself to be alone with you.”

“This is a mistake?” I heard the sadness in my voice, but I didn’t know if he could as well.

“A very dangerous one,” he murmured.

We were both silent then. I watched the headlights twist with the curves of the road. They moved too fast; it didn’t look real, it looked like a video game. I was aware of the time slipping away so quickly, like the black road beneath us, and I was hideously afraid that I would never have another chance to be with him like this again—openly, the walls between us gone for once. His words hinted at an end, and I recoiled from the idea. I couldn’t waste one minute I had with him.

You could probably use this book as inspiration for writing one where the protagonist canonically has a danger fetish and it's not portrayed as a positive thing.


“Tell me more,” I asked desperately, not caring what he said, just so I could hear his voice again.

He looked at me quickly, startled by the change in my tone. “What more do you want to know?”

“Tell me why you hunt animals instead of people,” I suggested, my voice still tinged with desperation. I realized my eyes were wet, and I fought against the grief that was trying to overpower me.

...d-do you really need to ask?


“I don’t want to be a monster.” His voice was very low.

“But animals aren’t enough?”

He paused. “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.” His tone turned ominous. “Sometimes it’s more difficult than others.”

Meyer coming out swinging against the vegans.


“Is it very difficult for you now?” I asked.

He sighed. “Yes.”

“But you’re not hungry now,” I said confidently—stating, not asking.

“Why do you think that?”

“Your eyes. I told you I had a theory. I’ve noticed that people—men in particular—are crabbier when they’re hungry.”

This whole book was just a very long Snickers ad.


He chuckled. “You are observant, aren’t you?”

I didn’t answer; I just listened to the sound of his laugh, committing it to memory.

“Were you hunting this weekend, with Emmett?” I asked when it was quiet again.

“Yes.” He paused for a second, as if deciding whether or not to say something. “I didn’t want to leave, 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?”

“It makes me… anxious… to be away from you.” His eyes were gentle but intense, and they seemed to be making my bones turn soft. “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.” He shook his head, and then seemed to remember something. “Well, not totally unscathed.”


“Your hands,” he reminded me. I looked down at my palms, at the almost-healed scrapes across the heels of my hands. His eyes missed nothing.

“I fell,” I sighed.

“That’s what I thought.” His lips curved up at the corners. “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.” He smiled ruefully at me.

“Three days? Didn’t you just get back today?”

“No, we got back Sunday.”

“Then why weren’t any of you in school?” I was frustrated, almost angry as I thought of how much disappointment I had suffered because of his absence.

“Well, you asked if the sun hurt me, and it doesn’t. But I can’t go out in the sunlight—at least, not where anyone can see.”


“I’ll show you sometime,” he promised.

Remember when this answer was actually a mystery to some people?


I thought about it for a moment.

“You might have called me,” I decided.

He was puzzled. “But I knew you were safe.”

"Also I don't remember you giving me your number."


“But I didn’t know where you were. I—” I hesitated, dropping my eyes.

“What?” His velvety voice was compelling.

“I didn’t like it. Not seeing you. It makes me anxious, too.” I blushed to be saying this out loud.

He was quiet. I glanced up, apprehensive, and saw that his expression was pained.

“Ah,” he groaned quietly. “This is wrong.”

I couldn’t understand his response. “What did I say?”

“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.” He turned his anguished eyes to the road, his words flowing almost too fast for me to understand. “I don’t want to hear that you feel that way.” His voice was low but urgent. His words cut me. “It’s wrong. It’s not safe. I’m dangerous, Bella—please, grasp that.”

“No.” I tried very hard not to look like a sulky child.

You haven't succeeded for the rest of the book!


“I’m serious,” he growled.

“So am I. I told you, it doesn’t matter what you are. It’s too late.”

His voice whipped out, low and harsh. “Never say that.”

I bit my lip and was glad he couldn’t know how much that hurt. I stared out at the road. We must be close now. He was driving much too fast.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, his voice still raw. I just shook my head, not sure if I could speak. I could feel his gaze on my face, but I kept my eyes forward.

“Are you crying?” He sounded appalled. I hadn’t realized the moisture in my eyes had brimmed over. I quickly rubbed my hand across my cheek, and sure enough, traitor tears were there, betraying me.

“No,” I said, but my voice cracked.

I saw him reach toward me hesitantly with his right hand, but then he stopped and placed it slowly back on the steering wheel.

“I’m sorry.” His voice burned with regret. I knew he wasn’t just apologizing for the words that had upset me.

The darkness slipped by us in silence.

“Tell me something,” he asked after another minute, and I could hear him struggle to use a lighter tone.


“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 was trying to remember how to incapacitate an attacker—you know, self-defense. I was going to smash his nose into his brain.” I thought of the dark-haired man with a surge of hate.

“You were going to fight them?” This upset him. “Didn’t you think about running?”

“I fall down a lot when I run,” I admitted.

“What about screaming for help?”

“I was getting to that part.”

He shook his head. “You were right—I’m definitely fighting fate trying to keep you alive.”

No, Bella will not actually fight anyone in the books.


I sighed. We were slowing, passing into the boundaries of Forks. It had taken less than twenty minutes.

Remember this is normally an hour-long drive.


“Will I see you tomorrow?” I demanded.

“Yes—I have a paper due, too.” He smiled. “I’ll save you a seat at lunch.”

It was silly, after everything we’d been through tonight, how that little promise sent flutters through my stomach, and made me unable to speak.

We were in front of Charlie’s house. The lights were on, my truck in its place, everything utterly normal. It was like waking from a dream. He stopped the car, but I didn’t move.

“Do you promise to be there tomorrow?”

“I promise.”

I considered that for a moment, then nodded. I pulled his jacket off, taking one last whiff.

“You can keep it—you don’t have a jacket for tomorrow,” he reminded me.

I handed it back to him. “I don’t want to have to explain to Charlie.”

“Oh, right.” He grinned.

I hesitated, my hand on the door handle, trying to prolong the moment.

“Bella?” he asked in a different tone—serious, but hesitant.

“Yes?” I turned back to him too eagerly.

“Will you promise me something?”

“Yes,” I said, and instantly regretted my unconditional agreement. What if he asked me to stay away from him? I couldn’t keep that promise.

I would loving die laughing if they went through all of that and Edward just did the "Stay away from me" thing again.


“Don’t go into the woods alone.”

I stared at him in blank confusion. “Why?”

He frowned, and his eyes were tight as he stared past me out the window. “I’m not always the most dangerous thing out there. Let’s leave it at that.”

I shuddered slightly at the sudden bleakness in his voice, but I was relieved. This, at least, was an easy promise to honor. “Whatever you say.”

Bella occasionally has to be reminded that bears exist and no, she can't pet them.


“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he sighed, and I knew he wanted me to leave now.

“Tomorrow, then.” I opened the door unwillingly.

“Bella?” I turned and he was leaning toward me, his pale, glorious face just inches from mine. My heart stopped beating.

“Sleep well,” he said. His breath blew in my face, stunning me. It was the same exquisite scent that clung to his jacket, but in a more concentrated form. I blinked, thoroughly dazed. He leaned away.

That's the power of 5 Gum.


I was unable to move until my brain had somewhat unscrambled itself. Then I stepped out of the car awkwardly, having to use the frame for support. I thought I heard him chuckle, but the sound was too quiet for me to be certain.

He waited till I had stumbled to the front door, and then I heard his engine quietly rev. I turned to watch the silver car disappear around the corner. I realized it was very cold.

I reached for the key mechanically, unlocked the door, and stepped inside.

Charlie called from the living room. “Bella?”

“Yeah, Dad, it’s me.” I walked in to see him. He was watching a baseball game.

“You’re home early.”

“Am I?” I was surprised.

“It’s not even eight yet,” he told me. “Did you girls have fun?”

I was initially really confused by the timeline, but I checked and sunset in that area in March is 6:00 PM.


“Yeah—it was lots of fun.” My head was spinning as I tried to remember all the way back to the girls’ night out I had planned. “They both found dresses.”

“Are you all right?”

“I’m just tired. I did a lot of walking.”

“Well, maybe you should go lie down.” He sounded concerned. I wondered what my face looked like.

The same dull look Kristen Stewart had through the whole movie?


“I’m just going to call Jessica first.”

“Weren’t you just with her?” he asked, surprised.

“Yes—but I left my jacket in her car. I want to make sure she brings it tomorrow.”

“Well, give her a chance to get home first.”

“Right,” I agreed.

Charlie Swan says no cell phones while driving.


I went to the kitchen and fell, exhausted, into a chair. I was really feeling dizzy now. I wondered if I was going to go into shock after all. Get a grip, I told myself.

The phone rang suddenly, startling me. I yanked it off the hook.

“Hello?” I asked breathlessly.


“Hey, Jess, I was just going to call you.”

“You made it home?” Her voice was relieved… and surprised.

Even she thinks Edward is a serial killer!


“Yes. I left my jacket in your car—could you bring it to me tomorrow?”

“Sure. But tell me what happened!” she demanded.

“Um, tomorrow—in Trig, okay?”

She caught on quickly. “Oh, is your dad there?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow, then. Bye!” I could hear the impatience in her voice.

“Bye, Jess.”

I walked up the stairs slowly, a heavy stupor clouding my mind. I went through the motions of getting ready for bed without paying any attention to what I was doing. It wasn’t until I was in the shower—the water too hot, burning my skin—that I realized I was freezing. I shuddered violently for several minutes before the steaming spray could finally relax my rigid muscles. Then I stood in the shower, too tired to move, until the hot water began to run out.

I stumbled out, wrapping myself securely in a towel, trying to hold the heat from the water in so the aching shivers wouldn’t return. I dressed for bed swiftly and climbed under my quilt, curling into a ball, hugging myself to keep warm. A few small shudders trembled through me.

My mind still swirled dizzily, full of images I couldn’t understand, and some I fought to repress. Nothing seemed clear at first, but as I fell gradually closer to unconsciousness, a few certainties became evident.

About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him—and I didn’t know how potent that part might be—that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

Somebody Awful
Nov 27, 2011

Kill Em All 1917
I am trench man
410,757,864,530 SHELLS FIRED

In love, just like that.

May 10, 2008


The words bothered me more than they should—probably because his speculation hit home. I’d always suspected as much, and it embarrassed me to have it confirmed.

"I'd always suspected I was immune to mind reading, probably because of my borderline psychopathy."


“I was trying to remember how to incapacitate an attacker—you know, self-defense. I was going to smash his nose into his brain.”

"On the one hand, I love your readiness to straight-up murder a man. On the other hand, that doesn't actually work. Remind me to teach you how to break a fellow's neck some time."

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 10: Interrogations


It was very hard, in the morning, to argue with the part of me that was sure last night was a dream. Logic wasn’t on my side, or common sense. I clung to the parts I couldn’t have imagined—like his smell. I was sure I could never have dreamed that up on my own.

It was foggy and dark outside my window, absolutely perfect. He had no reason not to be in school today. I dressed in my heavy clothes, remembering I didn’t have a jacket. Further proof that my memory was real.

So I checked what actual weather in Forks is like. Turns out it's actually a relatively sunny town with no more rain than average for Washington! Why Meyer chose it for her "It rains so much that people don't know what the sky really looks like" town is mystifying.


When I got downstairs, Charlie was gone again—I was running later than I’d realized. I swallowed a granola bar in three bites, chased it down with milk straight from the carton, and then hurried out the door. Hopefully the rain would hold off until I could find Jessica.

It was unusually foggy; the air was almost smoky with it. The mist was ice cold where it clung to the exposed skin on my face and neck. I couldn’t wait to get the heat going in my truck. It was such a thick fog that I was a few feet down the driveway before I realized there was a car in it: a silver car. My heart thudded, stuttered, and then picked up again in double time.

I didn’t see where he came from, but suddenly he was there, pulling the door open for me. “Do you want to ride with me today?” he asked, amused by my expression as he caught me by surprise yet again. There was uncertainty in his voice. He was really giving me a choice—I was free to refuse, and part of him hoped for that. It was a vain hope.

Remember how last time you tried to refuse a ride with him he physically forced you to the car and threatened to kidnap you if you ran?


“Yes, thank you,” I said, trying to keep my voice calm. As I stepped into the warm car, I noticed his tan jacket was slung over the headrest of the passenger seat. The door closed behind me, and, sooner than should be possible, he was sitting next to me, starting the car.

For someone who's supposed to be blending in as a normal human, Edward sure loves using his super speed for mundane tasks.


“I brought the jacket for you. I didn’t want you to get sick or something.” His voice was guarded. I noticed that he wore no jacket himself, just a light gray knit V-neck shirt with long sleeves. Again, the fabric clung to his perfectly muscled chest. It was a colossal tribute to his face that it kept my eyes away from his body.

“I’m not quite that delicate,” I said, but I pulled the jacket onto my lap, pushing my arms through the too-long sleeves, curious to see if the scent could possibly be as good as I remembered. It was better.

“Aren’t you?” he contradicted in a voice so low I wasn’t sure if he meant for me to hear.

"You've barely made it through a single moment in this book without injuring yourself."


We drove through the fog-shrouded streets, always too fast, feeling awkward. I was, at least. Last night all the walls were down… almost all. I didn’t know if we were still being as candid today. It left me tongue-tied. I waited for him to speak.

He turned to smirk at me. “What, no twenty questions today?”

“Do my questions bother you?” I asked, relieved.

“Not as much as your reactions do.” He looked like he was joking, but I couldn’t be sure.

I frowned. “Do I react badly?”

Pretty often!


“No, that’s the problem. You take everything so coolly—it’s unnatural. It makes me wonder what you’re really thinking.”

That's called "sociopathy" Edward.


“I always tell you what I’m really thinking.”

“You edit,” he accused.

“Not very much.”

“Enough to drive me insane.”

“You don’t want to hear it,” I mumbled, almost whispered. As soon as the words were out, I regretted them. The pain in my voice was very faint; I could only hope he hadn’t noticed it.

He didn’t respond, and I wondered if I had ruined the mood. His face was unreadable as we drove into the school parking lot. Something occurred to me belatedly.

Have Edward and Bella had a single interaction that didn't have one of them piss the other off?


“Where’s the rest of your family?” I asked—more than glad to be alone with him, but remembering that his car was usually full.

“They took Rosalie’s car.” He shrugged as he parked next to a glossy red convertible with the top up. “Ostentatious, isn’t it?”

Rosalie's car was envisioned by Meyer (with the aid of her brothers) as a 2005 BMW M3 convertible.

The film used a similar Mercedes CLK350.


“Um, wow,” I breathed. “If she has that, why does she ride with you?”

“Like I said, it’s ostentatious. We try to blend in.”

“You don’t succeed.”

"It's really obvious to everyone that you're either a vampire or serial killer."


I laughed and shook my head as we got out of the car. I wasn’t late anymore; his lunatic driving had gotten me to school in plenty of time. “So why did Rosalie drive today if it’s more conspicuous?”

“Hadn’t you noticed? I’m breaking all the rules now.” He met me at the front of the car, staying very close to my side as we walked onto campus. I wanted to close that little distance, to reach out and touch him, but I was afraid he wouldn’t like me to.

“Why do you have cars like that at all?” I wondered aloud. “If you’re looking for privacy?”

“An indulgence,” he admitted with an impish smile. “We all like to drive fast.”

“Figures,” I muttered under my breath.

That's a fair point from Bella. For all the Cullens' paranoia about being caught, to the point of keeping murder open as an option to keep their cover, none of them actually seem that interested in avoiding attention. They behave oddly in front of people, disappear from school constantly, and speed recklessly in expensive cars while relying on their vampire powers to avoid getting caught or crashing.


Under the shelter of the cafeteria roof’s overhang, Jessica was waiting, her eyes about to bug out of their sockets. Over her arm, bless her, was my jacket.

“Hey, Jessica,” I said when we were a few feet away. “Thanks for remembering.” She handed me my jacket without speaking.

“Good morning, Jessica,” Edward said politely. It wasn’t really his fault that his voice was so irresistible. Or what his eyes were capable of.

“Er… hi.” She shifted her wide eyes to me, trying to gather her jumbled thoughts. “I guess I’ll see you in Trig.” She gave me a meaningful look, and I suppressed a sigh. What on earth was I going to tell her?

“Yeah, I’ll see you then.” She walked away, pausing twice to peek back over her shoulder at us.

“What are you going to tell her?” Edward murmured.

“Hey, I thought you couldn’t read my mind!” I hissed.

“I can’t,” he said, startled. Then understanding brightened his eyes. “However, I can read hers—she’ll be waiting to ambush you in class.”

I groaned as I pulled off his jacket and handed it to him, replacing it with my own. He folded it over his arm.

“So what are you going to tell her?”

“A little help?” I pleaded. “What does she want to know?”

He shook his head, grinning wickedly. “That’s not fair.”

I'm sure this relationship will have both partners on equal ground!


“No, you not sharing what you know—now that’s not fair.”

He deliberated for a moment as we walked. We stopped outside the door to my first class. “She wants to know if we’re secretly dating. And she wants to know how you feel about me,” he finally said.

“Yikes. What should I say?” I tried to keep my expression very innocent. People were passing us on their way to class, probably staring, but I was barely aware of them.

“Hmmm.” He paused to catch a stray lock of hair that was escaping the twist on my neck and wound it back into place. My heart spluttered hyperactively. “I suppose you could say yes to the first… if you don’t mind—it’s easier than any other explanation.”

“I don’t mind,” I said in a faint voice.

“And as for her other question… well, I’ll be listening to hear the answer to that one myself.” One side of his mouth pulled up into my favorite uneven smile. I couldn’t catch my breath soon enough to respond to that remark. He turned and walked away.

“I’ll see you at lunch,” he called over his shoulder. Three people walking in the door stopped to stare at me.

I hurried into class, flushed and irritated. He was such a cheater. Now I was even more worried about what I was going to say to Jessica. I sat in my usual seat, slamming my bag down in aggravation.

Another major part of the creep factor in their relationship is the power dynamic. Edward already has a far more dominant personality than Bella, but he also has so many supernatural advantages that they can never be on equal footing unless Bella is turned into a vampire herself. Edward can do whatever he wants; he has super speed, super strength, super senses, telepathy, massive financial resources, immortality, and never needs to eat, sleep, or breathe. Vampire biology is detailed more later on, but he's practically indestructible without massive amounts of high explosives or fire (and if he's not incapacitated in some way, he can use super speed to put out a fire if you try to light him).

All of this means Bella has no way to defend herself against him. Edward is stopped from abusing her only by his own whims, and as we've seen he's very bad at restraining himself from trying to control her even before they begin dating. If she wants to go somewhere he doesn't want her to, he can physically restrain her or break every bone in her body without breaking a sweat. If she tries to leave him and move away from Forks, he's got more than enough resources and powers to track her down. He could easily maim or kill anyone around her that he doesn't like, or anyone who would try to help her escape an abusive relationship. He can't read her mind, but he can read everyone else's and his senses are so acute that he can hear, watch, and even smell everything she's doing from a great distance. If you've ever been in an abusive relationship, imagine your abuser being invincible and unstoppable by any means, always capable of spying on you silently.

As terrible of a person as Bella is, the power dynamic is such that we can never assume that Bella's decisions are not coerced or under duress in some way. Edward could do anything if he's denied, so even as simple a gesture as reluctantly getting in his car or following him to dinner has a pressure behind it.


“Morning, Bella,” Mike said from the seat next to me. I looked up to see an odd, almost resigned look on his face. “How was Port Angeles?”

“It was…” There was no honest way to sum it up. “Great,” I finished lamely. “Jessica got a really cute dress.”

“Did she say anything about Monday night?” he asked, his eyes brightening. I smiled at the turn the conversation had taken.

“She said she had a really good time,” I assured him.

“She did?” he said eagerly.

“Most definitely.”

Mr. Mason called the class to order then, asking us to turn in our papers. English and then Government passed in a blur, while I worried about how to explain things to Jessica and agonized over whether Edward would really be listening to what I said through the medium of Jess’s thoughts. How very inconvenient his little talent could be—when it wasn’t saving my life.

The fog had almost dissolved by the end of the second hour, but the day was still dark with low, oppressing clouds. I smiled up at the sky.

Edward was right, of course. When I walked into Trig Jessica was sitting in the back row, nearly bouncing off her seat in agitation. I reluctantly went to sit by her, trying to convince myself it would be better to get it over with as soon as possible.

“Tell me everything!” she commanded before I was in the seat.

“What do you want to know?” I hedged.

“What happened last night?”

“He bought me dinner, and then he drove me home.”

She glared at me, her expression stiff with skepticism. “How did you get home so fast?”

“He drives like a maniac. It was terrifying.” I hoped he heard that.

This is the point where the /r/relationships thread goes


“Was it like a date—did you tell him to meet you there?”

I hadn’t thought of that. “No—I was very surprised to see him there.”

Her lips puckered in disappointment at the transparent honesty in my voice.

“But he picked you up for school today?” she probed.

“Yes—that was a surprise, too. He noticed I didn’t have a jacket last night,” I explained.

“So are you going out again?”

“He offered to drive me to Seattle Saturday because he thinks my truck isn’t up to it—does that count?”

“Yes.” She nodded.

“Well, then, yes.”

“W-o-w.” She exaggerated the word into three syllables. “Edward Cullen.”

“I know,” I agreed. “Wow” didn’t even cover it.

“Wait!” Her hands flew up, palms toward me like she was stopping traffic. “Has he kissed you?”

“No,” I mumbled. “It’s not like that.”

She looked disappointed. I’m sure I did, too.

“Do you think Saturday…?” She raised her eyebrows.

“I really doubt it.” The discontent in my voice was poorly disguised.

"He has this thing where he might literally eat my face if he tries."


“What did you talk about?” She pushed for more information in a whisper. Class had started but Mr. Varner wasn’t paying close attention and we weren’t the only ones still talking.

“I don’t know, Jess, lots of stuff,” I whispered back. “We talked about the English essay a little.” A very, very little. I think he mentioned it in passing.

“Please, Bella,” she begged. “Give me some details.”

“Well… okay, I’ve got one. You should have seen the waitress flirting with him—it was over the top. But he didn’t pay any attention to her at all.” Let him make what he could of that.

“That’s a good sign,” she nodded. “Was she pretty?”

“Very—and probably nineteen or twenty.”

“Even better. He must like you.”

I could not care less about derailing the vampire stuff for teenage romance gossip.


“I think so, but it’s hard to tell. He’s always so cryptic,” I threw in for his benefit, sighing.

“I don’t know how you’re brave enough to be alone with him,” she breathed.

“Why?” I was shocked, but she didn’t understand my reaction.

“He’s so… intimidating. I wouldn’t know what to say to him.” She made a face, probably remembering this morning or last night, when he’d turned the overwhelming force of his eyes on her.

That's not the personality traits I would use when saying I'm scared to talk to him.


“I do have some trouble with incoherency when I’m around him,” I admitted.

“Oh well. He is unbelievably gorgeous.” Jessica shrugged as if this excused any flaws. Which, in her book, it probably did.

“There’s a lot more to him than that.”

“Really? Like what?” I wished I had let it go. Almost as much as I was hoping he’d been kidding about listening in.

“I can’t explain it right… but he’s even more unbelievable behind the face.” The vampire who wanted to be good—who ran around saving people’s lives so he wouldn’t be a monster… I stared toward the front of the room.

“Is that possible?” She giggled.

I ignored her, trying to look like I was paying attention to Mr. Varner.

“So you like him, then?” She wasn’t about to give up.

“Yes,” I said curtly.

“I mean, do you really like him?” she urged.

“Yes,” I said again, blushing. I hoped that detail wouldn’t register in her thoughts.

She’d had enough with the single syllable answers. “How much do you like him?”

End me.


“Too much,” I whispered back. “More than he likes me. But I don’t see how I can help that.” I sighed, one blush blending into the next.

Then, thankfully, Mr. Varner called on Jessica for an answer.

She didn’t get a chance to start on the subject again during class, and as soon as the bell rang, I took evasive action.

“In English, Mike asked me if you said anything about Monday night,” I told her.

“You’re kidding! What did you say?!” she gasped, completely sidetracked.

“I told him you said you had a lot of fun—he looked pleased.”

“Tell me exactly what he said, and your exact answer!”

Please don't.


We spent the rest of the walk dissecting sentence structures and most of Spanish on a minute description of Mike’s facial expressions. I wouldn’t have helped draw it out for as long as I did if I wasn’t worried about the subject returning to me.

And then the bell rang for lunch. As I jumped up out of my seat, shoving my books roughly in my bag, my uplifted expression must have tipped Jessica off.

“You’re not sitting with us today, are you?” she guessed.

“I don’t think so.” I couldn’t be sure that he wouldn’t disappear inconveniently again.

But outside the door to our Spanish class, leaning against the wall—looking more like a Greek god than anyone had a right to—Edward was waiting for me. Jessica took one look, rolled her eyes, and departed.

“See you later, Bella.” Her voice was thick with implications. I might have to turn off the ringer on the phone.

Is any member of Bella's peer group anything but unbelievably dull and stereotypically childish?


“Hello.” His voice was amused and irritated at the same time. He had been listening, it was obvious.


I couldn’t think of anything else to say, and he didn’t speak—biding his time, I presumed—so it was a quiet walk to the cafeteria. Walking with Edward through the crowded lunchtime rush was a lot like my first day here; everyone stared.

He led the way into the line, still not speaking, though his eyes returned to my face every few seconds, their expression speculative. It seemed to me that irritation was winning out over amusement as the dominant emotion in his face. I fidgeted nervously with the zipper on my jacket.

He stepped up to the counter and filled a tray with food.

“What are you doing?” I objected. “You’re not getting all that for me?”

He shook his head, stepping forward to buy the food.

“Half is for me, of course.”

"I need to stare at it and brood quietly."


I raised one eyebrow.

He led the way to the same place we’d sat that one time before. From the other end of the long table, a group of seniors gazed at us in amazement as we sat across from each other. Edward seemed oblivious.

“Take whatever you want,” he said, pushing the tray toward me.

“I’m curious,” I said as I picked up an apple, turning it around in my hands, “what would you do if someone dared you to eat food?”

“You’re always curious.” He grimaced, shaking his head. He glared at me, holding my eyes as he lifted the slice of pizza off the tray, and deliberately bit off a mouthful, chewed quickly, and then swallowed. I watched, eyes wide.

“If someone dared you to eat dirt, you could, couldn’t you?” he asked condescendingly.

I wrinkled my nose. “I did once… on a dare,” I admitted. “It wasn’t so bad.”

Bella you dumbass.


He laughed. “I suppose I’m not surprised.” Something over my shoulder seemed to catch his attention.

“Jessica’s analyzing everything I do—she’ll break it down for you later.” He pushed the rest of the pizza toward me. The mention of Jessica brought a hint of his former irritation back to his features.

I put down the apple and took a bite of the pizza, looking away, knowing he was about to start.

“So the waitress was pretty, was she?” he asked casually.

“You really didn’t notice?”

“No. I wasn’t paying attention. I had a lot on my mind.”

“Poor girl.” I could afford to be generous now.

“Something you said to Jessica… well, it bothers me.” He refused to be distracted. His voice was husky, and he glanced up from under his lashes with troubled eyes.

“I’m not surprised you heard something you didn’t like. You know what they say about eavesdroppers,” I reminded him.

“I warned you I would be listening.”

How many real relationships have had this conversation and had everything turn really bad?


“And I warned you that you didn’t want to know everything I was thinking.”

“You did,” he agreed, but his voice was still rough. “You aren’t precisely right, though. I do want to know what you’re thinking—everything. I just wish… that you wouldn’t be thinking some things.”

I scowled. “That’s quite a distinction.”

“But that’s not really the point at the moment.”

“Then what is?” We were inclined toward each other across the table now. He had his large white hands folded under his chin; I leaned forward, my right hand cupped around my neck. I had to remind myself that we were in a crowded lunchroom, with probably many curious eyes on us. It was too easy to get wrapped up in our own private, tense little bubble.

“Do you truly believe that you care more for me than I do for you?” he murmured, leaning closer to me as he spoke, his dark golden eyes piercing.

I've...also heard this come up in these kinds of conversations.


I tried to remember how to exhale. I had to look away before it came back to me.

“You’re doing it again,” I muttered.

His eyes opened wide with surprise. “What?”

“Dazzling me,” I admitted, trying to concentrate as I looked back at him.

“Oh.” He frowned.

“It’s not your fault,” I sighed. “You can’t help it.”

“Are you going to answer the question?”

I looked down. “Yes.”

“Yes, you are going to answer, or yes, you really think that?” He was irritated again.

“Yes, I really think that.” I kept my eyes down on the table, my eyes tracing the pattern of the faux wood grains printed on the laminate. The silence dragged on. I stubbornly refused to be the first to break it this time, fighting hard against the temptation to peek at his expression.

Finally he spoke, voice velvet soft. “You’re wrong.”

I glanced up to see that his eyes were gentle. “You can’t know that,” I disagreed in a whisper. I shook my head in doubt, though my heart throbbed at his words and I wanted so badly to believe them.

“What makes you think so?” His liquid topaz eyes were penetrating—trying futilely, I assumed, to lift the truth straight from my mind.

I stared back, struggling to think clearly in spite of his face, to find some way to explain. As I searched for the words, I could see him getting impatient; frustrated by my silence, he started to scowl. I lifted my hand from my neck, and held up one finger.

“Let me think,” I insisted. His expression cleared, now that he was satisfied that I was planning to answer. I dropped my hand to the table, moving my left hand so that my palms were pressed together. I stared at my hands, twisting and untwisting my fingers, as I finally spoke.

“Well, aside from the obvious, sometimes…” I hesitated. “I can’t be sure—I don’t know how to read minds—but sometimes it seems like you’re trying to say goodbye when you’re saying something else.” That was the best I could sum up the sensation of anguish that his words triggered in me at times.

Another sign of borderline personality disorder is exaggerated, frantic fears of abandonment. People with BPD are often terrified that their loved ones will abandon them at the drop of a hat and will go to extremes to avoid it, such as threatening suicide when confronted with the possibility of a breakup (and sometimes attempting it if it happens) or even ending relationships that are otherwise going well to avoid the risk of being left later. It's not for nothing that BPD very commonly manifests in women who suffered abusive or neglectful childhoods, and we know that Bella's mother is flighty and so immature that she was utterly incapable of acting like an adult.


“Perceptive,” he whispered. And there was the anguish again, surfacing as he confirmed my fear. “That’s exactly why you’re wrong, though,” he began to explain, but then his eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, ‘the obvious’?”

“Well, look at me,” I said, unnecessarily as he was already staring. “I’m absolutely ordinary—well, except for bad things like all the near-death experiences and being so clumsy that I’m almost disabled. And look at you.” I waved my hand toward him and all his bewildering perfection.

His brow creased angrily for a moment, then smoothed as his eyes took on a knowing look. “You don’t see yourself very clearly, you know. I’ll admit you’re dead-on about the bad things,” he chuckled blackly, “but you didn’t hear what every human male in this school was thinking on your first day.”

I blinked, astonished. “I don’t believe it…,” I mumbled to myself.

“Trust me just this once—you are the opposite of ordinary.”

One of the most aggravating Mary Sue traits is "Beautiful but doesn't know it." It's not necessary for every protagonist to be beautiful, or for their love life and attention they get to be reliant on extreme physical attractiveness. There's nothing wrong with writing a female protagonist who legitimately does look pretty average but still gets positive attention for her other traits, but many authors (especially in romance) want a protagonist with shallow flaws for "realism" while still being sufficiently beautiful for their story. So they're gorgeous but have very minor imperfections in their appearance, or even commit the maddening sin of interpreting their normal or attractive features like pale skin a detriment.

The problem I have with this is its effect on the young girls who read stories like this. Mary Sues who are beautiful but can't admit it are often paired with women who are beautiful and know it, who are in turn portrayed as vain and often slutty for acknowledging their attractiveness. It contributes to a perception that recognizing your positive traits is a bad thing and that you need to downplay everything good about yourself to maintain humility, a problem that's foisted on girls far too often.


My embarrassment was much stronger than my pleasure at the look that came into his eyes when he said this. I quickly reminded him of my original argument.

“But I’m not saying goodbye,” I pointed out.

“Don’t you see? That’s what proves me right. I care the most, because if I can do it”—he shook his head, seeming to struggle with the thought—“if leaving is the right thing to do, then I’ll hurt myself to keep from hurting you, to keep you safe.”

I glared. “And you don’t think I would do the same?”

“You’d never have to make the choice.”

Remember what I said about the power dynamic?


Abruptly, his unpredictable mood shifted again; a mischievous, devastating smile rearranged his features. “Of course, keeping you safe is beginning to feel like a full-time occupation that requires my constant presence.”

“No one has tried to do away with me today,” I reminded him, grateful for the lighter subject. I didn’t want him to talk about goodbyes anymore. If I had to, I supposed I could purposefully put myself in danger to keep him close.… I banished that thought before his quick eyes read it on my face. That idea would definitely get me in trouble.

“Yet,” he added.

“Yet,” I agreed; I would have argued, but now I wanted him to be expecting disasters.

“I have another question for you.” His face was still casual.


“Do you really need to go to Seattle this Saturday, or was that just an excuse to get out of saying no to all your admirers?”

I made a face at the memory. “You know, I haven’t forgiven you for the Tyler thing yet,” I warned him. “It’s your fault that he’s deluded himself into thinking I’m going to prom with him.”

“Oh, he would have found a chance to ask you without me—I just really wanted to watch your face,” he chuckled. I would have been angrier if his laughter wasn’t so fascinating. “If I’d asked you, would you have turned me down?” he asked, still laughing to himself.

So another aspect of vampire biology is that you're basically frozen the way you are and your personality traits get exaggerated. You not only spend the rest of your unnatural life with the exact same likes, dislikes, interests, etc. but you also heighten everything about them.

Edward is literally 17 forever, and while he may learn and mature somewhat he will always be an exaggerated version of that 17-year-old boy. His teenage immaturity is a permanent part of his personality.


“Probably not,” I admitted. “But I would have canceled later—faked an illness or a sprained ankle.”

He was puzzled. “Why would you do that?”

I shook my head sadly. “You’ve never seen me in Gym, I guess, but I would have thought you would understand.”

“Are you referring to the fact that you can’t walk across a flat, stable surface without finding something to trip over?”


“That wouldn’t be a problem.” He was very confident. “It’s all in the leading.” He could see that I was about to protest, and he cut me off. “But you never told me—are you resolved on going to Seattle, or do you mind if we do something different?”

As long as the “we” part was in, I didn’t care about anything else.

“I’m open to alternatives,” I allowed. “But I do have a favor to ask.”

He looked wary, as he always did when I asked an open-ended question. “What?”

“Can I drive?”

He frowned. “Why?”

“Well, mostly because when I told Charlie I was going to Seattle, he specifically asked if I was going alone and, at the time, I was. If he asked again, I probably wouldn’t lie, but I don’t think he will ask again, and leaving my truck at home would just bring up the subject unnecessarily. And also, because your driving frightens me.”

He rolled his eyes. “Of all the things about me that could frighten you, you worry about my driving.” He shook his head in disgust, but then his eyes were serious again. “Won’t you want to tell your father that you’re spending the day with me?” There was an undercurrent to his question that I didn’t understand.

“With Charlie, less is always more.” I was definite about that. “Where are we going, anyway?”

“The weather will be nice, so I’ll be staying out of the public eye… and you can stay with me, if you’d like to.” Again, he was leaving the choice up to me.

“And you’ll show me what you meant, about the sun?” I asked, excited by the idea of unraveling another of the unknowns.

“Yes.” He smiled, and then paused. “But if you don’t want to be… alone with me, I’d still rather you didn’t go to Seattle by yourself. I shudder to think of the trouble you could find in a city that size.” I was miffed.

“Phoenix is three times bigger than Seattle—just in population. In physical size—”

And yet in a small town with a very small commercial district you somehow managed to wander a mile into an industrial area looking for your friends.


“But apparently,” he interrupted me, “your number wasn’t up in Phoenix. So I’d rather you stayed near me.” His eyes did that unfair smoldering thing again.

I couldn’t argue, with the eyes or the motivation, and it was a moot point anyway. “As it happens, I don’t mind being alone with you.”

“I know,” he sighed, brooding. “You should tell Charlie, though.”

“Why in the world would I do that?”

His eyes were suddenly fierce. “To give me some small incentive to bring you back.”



I gulped. But, after a moment of thought, I was sure. “I think I’ll take my chances.”

He exhaled angrily, and looked away.

Just think about dating someone who's a moody teenager with tendencies toward animalistic violence for eternity.


“Let’s talk about something else,” I suggested.

“What do you want to talk about?” he asked. He was still annoyed.

I glanced around us, making sure we were well out of anyone’s hearing. As I cast my eyes around the room, I caught the eyes of his sister, Alice, staring at me. The others were looking at Edward. I looked away swiftly, back to him, and I asked the first thing that came to mind.

“Why did you go to that Goat Rocks place last weekend… to hunt? Charlie said it wasn’t a good place to hike, because of bears.”

He stared at me as if I was missing something very obvious.

“Bears?” I gasped, and he smirked. “You know, bears are not in season,” I added sternly, to hide my shock.

“If you read carefully, the laws only cover hunting with weapons,” he informed me.


He watched my face with enjoyment as that slowly sank in.

“Bears?” I repeated with difficulty.

“Grizzly is Emmett’s favorite.” His voice was still offhand, but his eyes were scrutinizing my reaction. I tried to pull myself together.

“Hmmm,” I said, taking another bite of pizza as an excuse to look down. I chewed slowly, and then took a long drink of Coke without looking up.

“So,” I said after a moment, finally meeting his now-anxious gaze. “What’s your favorite?”

He raised an eyebrow and the corners of his mouth turned down in disapproval. “Mountain lion.”

“Ah,” I said in a politely disinterested tone, looking for my soda again.

“Of course,” he said, and his tone mirrored mine, “we have to be careful not to impact the environment with injudicious hunting. We try to focus on areas with an overpopulation of predators—ranging as far away as we need. There’s always plenty of deer and elk here, and they’ll do, but where’s the fun in that?” He smiled teasingly.

Edward is just vampire Captain Planet.


“Where indeed,” I murmured around another bite of pizza.

“Early spring is Emmett’s favorite bear season—they’re just coming out of hibernation, so they’re more irritable.” He smiled at some remembered joke.

“Nothing more fun than an irritated grizzly bear,” I agreed, nodding.

He snickered, shaking his head. “Tell me what you’re really thinking, please.”

“I’m trying to picture it—but I can’t,” I admitted. “How do you hunt a bear without weapons?”

“Oh, we have weapons.” He flashed his bright teeth in a brief, threatening smile. I fought back a shiver before it could expose me. “Just not the kind they consider when writing hunting laws. If you’ve ever seen a bear attack on television, you should be able to visualize Emmett hunting.”

As Midnight Sun goes into, Edward has made a habit of keeping people away from him by trying to use his teeth and eyes to threaten them like an animal. Unfortunately, he keeps forgetting that he's considered gorgeous and instead accidentally "dazzles" them every time. Edward is kind of an idiot even when he's a creepy murderer.


I couldn’t stop the next shiver that flashed down my spine. I peeked across the cafeteria toward Emmett, grateful that he wasn’t looking my way. The thick bands of muscle that wrapped his arms and torso were somehow even more menacing now.

Edward followed my gaze and chuckled. I stared at him, unnerved.

“Are you like a bear, too?” I asked in a low voice.

“More like the lion, or so they tell me,” he said lightly. “Perhaps our preferences are indicative.”

I tried to smile. “Perhaps,” I repeated. But my mind was filled with opposing images that I couldn’t merge together. “Is that something I might get to see?”

Bella you're supposed to be afraid of blood.


“Absolutely not!” His face turned even whiter than usual, and his eyes were suddenly furious. I leaned back, stunned and—though I’d never admit it to him—frightened by his reaction. He leaned back as well, folding his arms across his chest.

“Too scary for me?” I asked when I could control my voice again.

“If that were it, I would take you out tonight,” he said, his voice cutting. “You need a healthy dose of fear. Nothing could be more beneficial for you.”

Hey. Hey Bella. Hey. Hey.

You should be afraid. Stay away from me. Again.


“Then why?” I pressed, trying to ignore his angry expression.

He glared at me for a long minute.

“Later,” he finally said. He was on his feet in one lithe movement. “We’re going to be late.”

I glanced around, startled to see that he was right and the cafeteria was nearly vacant. When I was with him, the time and the place were such a muddled blur that I completely lost track of both. I jumped up, grabbing my bag from the back of my chair.

“Later, then,” I agreed. I wouldn’t forget.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 11: Complications


Everyone watched us as we walked together to our lab table. I noticed that he no longer angled the chair to sit as far from me as the desk would allow. Instead, he sat quite close beside me, our arms almost touching.

Mr. Banner backed into the room then—what superb timing the man had—pulling a tall metal frame on wheels that held a heavy-looking, outdated TV and VCR. A movie day—the lift in the class atmosphere was almost tangible.

Mr. Banner shoved the tape into the reluctant VCR and walked to the wall to turn off the lights.

And then, as the room went black, I was suddenly hyperaware that Edward was sitting less than an inch from me. I was stunned by the unexpected electricity that flowed through me, amazed that it was possible to be more aware of him than I already was. A crazy impulse to reach over and touch him, to stroke his perfect face just once in the darkness, nearly overwhelmed me. I crossed my arms tightly across my chest, my hands balling into fists. I was losing my mind.

The opening credits began, lighting the room by a token amount. My eyes, of their own accord, flickered to him. I smiled sheepishly as I realized his posture was identical to mine, fists clenched under his arms, right down to the eyes, peering sideways at me. He grinned back, his eyes somehow managing to smolder, even in the dark. I looked away before I could start hyperventilating. It was absolutely ridiculous that I should feel dizzy.

The hour seemed very long. I couldn’t concentrate on the movie—I didn’t even know what subject it was on. I tried unsuccessfully to relax, but the electric current that seemed to be originating from somewhere in his body never slackened. Occasionally I would permit myself a quick glance in his direction, but he never seemed to relax, either. The overpowering craving to touch him also refused to fade, and I crushed my fists safely against my ribs until my fingers were aching with the effort.

I should point out that we're 41% into the book, tens of thousands of words, and only a handful of notable plot points have happened. Wikipedia manages to sum up everything that's occurred in slightly more than one paragraph.


I breathed a sigh of relief when Mr. Banner flicked the lights back on at the end of class, and stretched my arms out in front of me, flexing my stiff fingers. Edward chuckled beside me.

“Well, that was interesting,” he murmured. His voice was dark and his eyes were cautious.

“Umm,” was all I was able to respond.

“Shall we?” he asked, rising fluidly.

I almost groaned. Time for Gym. I stood with care, worried my balance might have been affected by the strange new intensity between us.

He walked me to my next class in silence and paused at the door; I turned to say goodbye. His face startled me—his expression was torn, almost pained, and so fiercely beautiful that the ache to touch him flared as strong as before. My goodbye stuck in my throat.

He raised his hand, hesitant, conflict raging in his eyes, and then swiftly brushed the length of my cheekbone with his fingertips. His skin was as icy as ever, but the trail his fingers left on my skin was alarmingly warm—like I’d been burned, but didn’t feel the pain of it yet.

He turned without a word and strode quickly away from me.

I actually laughed when I tried picturing this scene in my mind. It's like the cover of a trashy paperback romance novel.


I walked into the gym, lightheaded and wobbly. I drifted to the locker room, changing in a trancelike state, only vaguely aware that there were other people surrounding me. Reality didn’t fully set in until I was handed a racket. It wasn’t heavy, yet it felt very unsafe in my hand. I could see a few of the other kids in class eyeing me furtively. Coach Clapp ordered us to pair up into teams.

Mercifully, some vestiges of Mike’s chivalry still survived; he came to stand beside me.

“Do you want to be a team?”

“Thanks, Mike—you don’t have to do this, you know.” I grimaced apologetically.

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep out of your way.” He grinned. Sometimes it was so easy to like Mike.

It didn’t go smoothly. I somehow managed to hit myself in the head with my racket and clip Mike’s shoulder on the same swing. I spent the rest of the hour in the back corner of the court, the racket held safely behind my back. Despite being handicapped by me, Mike was pretty good; he won three games out of four singlehandedly. He gave me an unearned high five when the coach finally blew the whistle ending class.

The Twilight wiki actually has a page for Bella Moments listing all the instances of her being a clumsy idiot. She will never, ever lose this trait or learn how to take care of herself.


“So,” he said as we walked off the court.

“So what?”

“You and Cullen, huh?” he asked, his tone rebellious. My previous feeling of affection disappeared.

“That’s none of your business, Mike,” I warned, internally cursing Jessica straight to the fiery pits of Hades.

“I don’t like it,” he muttered anyway.

“You don’t have to,” I snapped.

“He looks at you like… like you’re something to eat,” he continued, ignoring me.

Yeah I'm up for that idea of Charlie, Mike, and Jessica being detectives.


I choked back the hysteria that threatened to explode, but a small giggle managed to get out despite my efforts. He glowered at me. I waved and fled to the locker room.

I dressed quickly, something stronger than butterflies battering recklessly against the walls of my stomach, my argument with Mike already a distant memory. I was wondering if Edward would be waiting, or if I should meet him at his car. What if his family was there? I felt a wave of real terror. Did they know that I knew? Was I supposed to know that they knew that I knew, or not?

Does this count as a vore fetish?


By the time I walked out of the gym, I had just about decided to walk straight home without even looking toward the parking lot. But my worries were unnecessary. Edward was waiting, leaning casually against the side of the gym, his breathtaking face untroubled now. As I walked to his side, I felt a peculiar sense of release.

“Hi,” I breathed, smiling hugely.

“Hello.” His answering smile was brilliant.

“How was Gym?”

My face fell a tiny bit. “Fine,” I lied.

“Really?” He was unconvinced. His eyes shifted their focus slightly, looking over my shoulder and narrowing. I glanced behind me to see Mike’s back as he walked away.

“What?” I demanded.

His eyes slid back to mine, still tight. “Newton’s getting on my nerves.”

“You weren’t listening again?” I was horror-struck. All traces of my sudden good humor vanished.

“How’s your head?” he asked innocently.

“You’re unbelievable!” I turned, stomping away in the general direction of the parking lot, though I hadn’t ruled out walking at this point.

I see we're continuing the theme of our true love just being an alternating series of them arguing, Edward saying it's really hard not to kill her, and Bella being enraptured by how hot and dangerous he is.


He kept up with me easily.

“You were the one who mentioned how I’d never seen you in Gym—it made me curious.” He didn’t sound repentant, so I ignored him.

We walked in silence—a furious, embarrassed silence on my part—to his car. But I had to stop a few steps away—a crowd of people, all boys, were surrounding it. Then I realized they weren’t surrounding the Volvo, they were actually circled around Rosalie’s red convertible, unmistakable lust in their eyes. None of them even looked up as Edward slid between them to open his door. I climbed quickly in the passenger side, also unnoticed.

Remember what I said about the vampires supposedly keeping themselves undercover but really obviously flaunting their wealth and power?


“Ostentatious,” he muttered.

“What kind of car is that?” I asked.

“An M3.”

“I don’t speak Car and Driver.”

“It’s a BMW.” He rolled his eyes, not looking at me, trying to back out without running over the car enthusiasts.

I nodded—I’d heard of that one.

“Are you still angry?” he asked as he carefully maneuvered his way out.


He sighed. “Will you forgive me if I apologize?”

“Maybe… if you mean it. And if you promise not to do it again,” I insisted.

His eyes were suddenly shrewd. “How about if I mean it, and I agree to let you drive Saturday?” he countered my conditions.

This isn't something you loving negotiate about! You just got called out for your behavior being uncomfortable, and instead of apologizing and not doing it you're going to haggle with her?


I considered, and decided it was probably the best offer I would get. “Deal,” I agreed.

“Then I’m very sorry I upset you.” His eyes burned with sincerity for a protracted moment—playing havoc with the rhythm of my heart—and then turned playful. “And I’ll be on your doorstep bright and early Saturday morning.”

I think Edward is the sociopath. There's nothing sincere about an apology where you sigh and try to argue that you should be allowed to keep doing a bad thing.

What does it say about a book when both protagonists can plausibly be called sociopaths?


“Um, it doesn’t help with the Charlie situation if an unexplained Volvo is left in the driveway.”

His smile was condescending now. “I wasn’t intending to bring a car.”

“How—” He cut me off.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll be there, no car.”

He transforms them both into mist and floats them to Seattle.


I let it go. I had a more pressing question.

“Is it later yet?” I asked significantly.

He frowned. “I suppose it is later.”

I kept my expression polite as I waited.

He stopped the car. I looked up, surprised—of course we were already at Charlie’s house, parked behind the truck. It was easier to ride with him if I only looked when it was over. When I looked back at him, he was staring at me, measuring with his eyes.

“And you still want to know why you can’t see me hunt?” He seemed solemn, but I thought I saw a trace of humor deep in his eyes.

“Well,” I clarified, “I was mostly wondering about your reaction.”

“Did I frighten you?” Yes, there was definitely humor there.

“No,” I lied. He didn’t buy it.

“I apologize for scaring you,” he persisted with a slight smile, but then all evidence of teasing disappeared. “It was just the very thought of you being there… while we hunted.” His jaw tightened.

“That would be bad?”

He spoke from between clenched teeth. “Extremely.”


"Because the sight of one drop of blood caused you to pass out, so seeing me rip a mountain lion to shreds with my bare hands and eat its entire head would actually kill you."


He took a deep breath and stared through the windshield at the thick, rolling clouds that seemed to press down, almost within reach.

“When we hunt,” he spoke slowly, unwillingly, “we give ourselves over to our senses… govern less with our minds. Especially our sense of smell. If you were anywhere near me when I lost control that way…” He shook his head, still gazing morosely at the heavy clouds.

I kept my expression firmly under control, expecting the swift flash of his eyes to judge my reaction that soon followed. My face gave nothing away.

But our eyes held, and the silence deepened—and changed. Flickers of the electricity I’d felt this afternoon began to charge the atmosphere as he gazed unrelentingly into my eyes. It wasn’t until my head started to swim that I realized I wasn’t breathing. When I drew in a jagged breath, breaking the stillness, he closed his eyes.

“Bella, I think you should go inside now.” His low voice was rough, his eyes on the clouds again.

Meyer tried to advertise this "forbidden love" story with the gimmick of Edward having to fight his nature as a vampire, but it just comes off as the equivalent of trying to date Ted Bundy while he resists the urge to bludgeon you to death with a tire iron.


I opened the door, and the arctic draft that burst into the car helped clear my head.

Arctic? It's March! The temperature is probably around 50 F!


Afraid I might stumble in my woozy state, I stepped carefully out of the car and shut the door behind me without looking back. The whir of the automatic window unrolling made me turn.

“Oh, Bella?” he called after me, his voice more even. He leaned toward the open window with a faint smile on his lips.


“Tomorrow it’s my turn.”

“Your turn to what?”

He smiled wider, flashing his gleaming teeth. “Ask the questions.”

And then he was gone, the car speeding down the street and disappearing around the corner before I could even collect my thoughts. I smiled as I walked to the house. It was clear he was planning to see me tomorrow, if nothing else.

Unfortunately, this is where our time with Midnight Sun comparisons come to an end. Meyer never got further than this point before sending her first draft to the person who would eventually leak it, causing her to permanently end its creation out of anger. We may or may not revisit the unfinished draft, depending on whether it's relevant and how tired we get of Meyer's writing.


That night Edward starred in my dreams, as usual. However, the climate of my unconsciousness had changed. It thrilled with the same electricity that had charged the afternoon, and I tossed and turned restlessly, waking often. It was only in the early hours of the morning that I finally sank into an exhausted, dreamless sleep.

When I woke I was still tired, but edgy as well.

Oh God, she's going to Hot Topic!


I pulled on my brown turtleneck and the inescapable jeans, sighing as I daydreamed of spaghetti straps and shorts. Breakfast was the usual, quiet event I expected. Charlie fried eggs for himself; I had my bowl of cereal. I wondered if he had forgotten about this Saturday. He answered my unspoken question as he stood up to take his plate to the sink.

“About this Saturday…,” he began, walking across the kitchen and turning on the faucet.

I cringed. “Yes, Dad?”

“Are you still set on going to Seattle?” he asked.

“That was the plan.” I grimaced, wishing he hadn’t brought it up so I wouldn’t have to compose careful half-truths.

He squeezed some dish soap onto his plate and swirled it around with the brush. “And you’re sure you can’t make it back in time for the dance?” “

I’m not going to the dance, Dad.” I glared.

“Didn’t anyone ask you?” he asked, trying to hide his concern by focusing on rinsing the plate.

"They are all my inferiors."


I sidestepped the minefield. “It’s a girl’s choice.”

“Oh.” He frowned as he dried his plate.

I sympathized with him. It must be a hard thing, to be a father; living in fear that your daughter would meet a boy she liked, but also having to worry if she didn’t. How ghastly it would be, I thought, shuddering, if Charlie had even the slightest inkling of exactly what I did like.

Meyer what the hell do you think being a father is like?


Charlie left then, with a goodbye wave, and I went upstairs to brush my teeth and gather my books. When I heard the cruiser pull away, I could only wait a few seconds before I had to peek out of my window. The silver car was already there, waiting in Charlie’s spot on the driveway. I bounded down the stairs and out the front door, wondering how long this bizarre routine would continue. I never wanted it to end.

He waited in the car, not appearing to watch as I shut the door behind me without bothering to lock the deadbolt.

And then Charlie's house was robbed while she was gone?


I walked to the car, pausing shyly before opening the door and stepping in. He was smiling, relaxed—and, as usual, perfect and beautiful to an excruciating degree.

“Good morning.” His voice was silky. “How are you today?” His eyes roamed over my face, as if his question was something more than simple courtesy.

“Good, thank you.” I was always good—much more than good—when I was near him.

His gaze lingered on the circles under my eyes. “You look tired.”

“I couldn’t sleep,” I confessed, automatically swinging my hair around my shoulder to provide some measure of cover.

“Neither could I,” he teased as he started the engine. I was becoming used to the quiet purr. I was sure the roar of my truck would scare me, whenever I got to drive it again.

I just felt like letting you know that I was trying to Google something to check when an event in the story happens and one of the top search results was a fanfic about Carlisle spanking Edward. It's 7 chapters and over 22,000 words long, including descriptions of how different members of the Cullen family position themselves for spanking.

Thought you ought to know.


I laughed. “I guess that’s right. I suppose I slept just a little bit more than you did.”

“I’d wager you did.”

“So what did you do last night?” I asked.

He chuckled. “Not a chance. It’s my day to ask questions.”

“Oh, that’s right. What do you want to know?” My forehead creased. I couldn’t imagine anything about me that could be in any way interesting to him.

“What’s your favorite color?” he asked, his face grave.

I rolled my eyes. “It changes from day to day.”

“What’s your favorite color today?” He was still solemn.

“Probably brown.” I tended to dress according to my mood.

He snorted, dropping his serious expression. “Brown?” he asked skeptically.

“Sure. Brown is warm. I miss brown. Everything that’s supposed to be brown—tree trunks, rocks, dirt—is all covered up with squashy green stuff here,” I complained.

Bella's other fetish is deforestation.


He seemed fascinated by my little rant. He considered for a moment, staring into my eyes.

“You’re right,” he decided, serious again. “Brown is warm.” He reached over, swiftly, but somehow still hesitantly, to sweep my hair back behind my shoulder.

We were at the school by now. He turned back to me as he pulled into a parking space.

“What music is in your CD player right now?” he asked, his face as somber as if he’d asked for a murder confession.

I realized I’d never removed the CD Phil had given me. When I said the name of the band, he smiled crookedly, a peculiar expression in his eyes. He flipped open a compartment under his car’s CD player, pulled out one of thirty or so CDs that were jammed into the small space, and handed it to me.

“Debussy to this?” He raised an eyebrow.

It was the same CD. I examined the familiar cover art, keeping my eyes down.

Edward speeding in his Volvo to "The Court of the Crimson King" is now in my personal canon and none of you can stop me.


It continued like that for the rest of the day. While he walked me to English, when he met me after Spanish, all through the lunch hour, he questioned me relentlessly about every insignificant detail of my existence. Movies I’d liked and hated, the few places I’d been and the many places I wanted to go, and books—endlessly books.

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d talked so much. More often than not, I felt self-conscious, certain I must be boring him. But the absolute absorption of his face, and his never-ending stream of questions, compelled me to continue. Mostly his questions were easy, only a very few triggering my easy blushes. But when I did flush, it brought on a whole new round of questions.

Such as the time he asked my favorite gemstone, and I blurted out topaz before thinking. He’d been flinging questions at me with such speed that I felt like I was taking one of those psychiatric tests where you answer with the first word that comes to mind. I was sure he would have continued down whatever mental list he was following, except for the blush. My face reddened because, until very recently, my favorite gemstone was garnet. It was impossible, while staring back into his topaz eyes, not to remember the reason for the switch. And, naturally, he wouldn’t rest until I’d admitted why I was embarrassed.

“Tell me,” he finally commanded after persuasion failed—failed only because I kept my eyes safely away from his face. “It’s the color of your eyes today,” I sighed, surrendering, staring down at my hands as I fiddled with a piece of my hair.

“I suppose if you asked me in two weeks I’d say onyx.” I’d given more information than necessary in my unwilling honesty, and I worried it would provoke the strange anger that flared whenever I slipped and revealed too clearly how obsessed I was.

Any healthy relationship has one person being utterly obsessed and the other person getting angry at their obsession.


But his pause was very short.

“What kinds of flowers do you prefer?” he fired off.

I sighed in relief, and continued with the psychoanalysis.

Edward returns home and creates a board with red string connecting all of her answers into a psychological profile that ends with "Eat her."


Biology was a complication again. Edward had continued with his quizzing up until Mr. Banner entered the room, dragging the audiovisual frame again. As the teacher approached the light switch, I noticed Edward slide his chair slightly farther away from mine. It didn’t help. As soon as the room was dark, there was the same electric spark, the same restless craving to stretch my hand across the short space and touch his cold skin, as yesterday.

I leaned forward on the table, resting my chin on my folded arms, my hidden fingers gripping the table’s edge as I fought to ignore the irrational longing that unsettled me. I didn’t look at him, afraid that if he was looking at me, it would only make self-control that much harder. I sincerely tried to watch the movie, but at the end of the hour I had no idea what I’d just seen. I sighed in relief again when Mr. Banner turned the lights on, finally glancing at Edward; he was looking at me, his eyes ambivalent.

He rose in silence and then stood still, waiting for me. We walked toward the gym in silence, like yesterday. And, also like yesterday, he touched my face wordlessly—this time with the back of his cool hand, stroking once from my temple to my jaw—before he turned and walked away.

Imagine seeing this relationship play out in real life.

"What do you and your boyfriend talk about?"

"He asks me questions about literally every one of my likes and dislikes robotically, then silently strokes my face and leaves."


Gym passed quickly as I watched Mike’s one-man badminton show. He didn’t speak to me today, either in response to my vacant expression or because he was still angry about our squabble yesterday. Somewhere, in a corner of my mind, I felt bad about that. But I couldn’t concentrate on him.

I hurried to change afterward, ill at ease, knowing the faster I moved, the sooner I would be with Edward. The pressure made me more clumsy than usual, but eventually I made it out the door, feeling the same release when I saw him standing there, a wide smile automatically spreading across my face. He smiled in reaction before launching into more cross-examination.

His questions were different now, though, not as easily answered. He wanted to know what I missed about home, insisting on descriptions of anything he wasn’t familiar with. We sat in front of Charlie’s house for hours, as the sky darkened and rain plummeted around us in a sudden deluge.

I tried to describe impossible things like the scent of creosote—bitter, slightly resinous, but still pleasant—the high, keening sound of the cicadas in July, the feathery barrenness of the trees, the very size of the sky, extending white-blue from horizon to horizon, barely interrupted by the low mountains covered with purple volcanic rock. The hardest thing to explain was why it was so beautiful to me—to justify a beauty that didn’t depend on the sparse, spiny vegetation that often looked half dead, a beauty that had more to do with the exposed shape of the land, with the shallow bowls of valleys between the craggy hills, and the way they held on to the sun. I found myself using my hands as I tried to describe it to him.

His quiet, probing questions kept me talking freely, forgetting, in the dim light of the storm, to be embarrassed for monopolizing the conversation. Finally, when I had finished detailing my cluttered room at home, he paused instead of responding with another question.

How can you be "monopolizing a conversation" where it's just a guy asking you questions about your life ceaselessly?


“Are you finished?” I asked in relief.

“Not even close—but your father will be home soon.”

“Charlie!” I suddenly recalled his existence, and sighed. I looked out at the rain-darkened sky, but it gave nothing away. “How late is it?” I wondered out loud as I glanced at the clock. I was surprised by the time—Charlie would be driving home now.

“It’s twilight,” Edward murmured, looking at the western horizon, obscured as it was with clouds.


His voice was thoughtful, as if his mind were somewhere far away. I stared at him as he gazed unseeingly out the windshield.

I was still staring when his eyes suddenly shifted back to mine.

“It’s the safest time of day for us,” he said, answering the unspoken question in my eyes. “The easiest time. But also the saddest, in a way… the end of another day, the return of the night. Darkness is so predictable, don’t you think?” He smiled wistfully.

“I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.” I frowned. “Not that you see them here much.”

He laughed, and the mood abruptly lightened.

“Charlie will be here in a few minutes. So, unless you want to tell him that you’ll be with me Saturday…” He raised one eyebrow.

“Thanks, but no thanks.” I gathered my books, realizing I was stiff from sitting still so long. “So is it my turn tomorrow, then?”

“Certainly not!” His face was teasingly outraged. “I told you I wasn’t done, didn’t I?”

“What more is there?”

“You’ll find out tomorrow.” He reached across to open my door for me, and his sudden proximity sent my heart into frenzied palpitations.

Tomorrow is when he starts doing that Twenty Questions thing teenage guys do where they jump straight into sex questions.


But his hand froze on the handle.

“Not good,” he muttered.

“What is it?” I was surprised to see that his jaw was clenched, his eyes disturbed.

He glanced at me for a brief second. “Another complication,” he said glumly.

He senses the plot returning!


He flung the door open in one swift movement, and then moved, almost cringed, swiftly away from me.

The flash of headlights through the rain caught my attention as a dark car pulled up to the curb just a few feet away, facing us.

“Charlie’s around the corner,” he warned, staring through the downpour at the other vehicle. I hopped out at once, despite my confusion and curiosity. The rain was louder as it glanced off my jacket.

Is the sound of the rain ricocheting off her jacket were the noise is coming from, Meyer?


I tried to make out the shapes in the front seat of the other car, but it was too dark. I could see Edward illuminated in the glare of the new car’s headlights; he was still staring ahead, his gaze locked on something or someone I couldn’t see. His expression was a strange mix of frustration and defiance.

Then he revved the engine, and the tires squealed against the wet pavement. The Volvo was out of sight in seconds.

“Hey, Bella,” called a familiar, husky voice from the driver’s side of the little black car.

“Jacob?” I asked, squinting through the rain. Just then, Charlie’s cruiser swung around the corner, his lights shining on the occupants of the car in front of me.

Jacob was already climbing out, his wide grin visible even through the darkness. In the passenger seat was a much older man, a heavyset man with a memorable face—a face that overflowed, the cheeks resting against his shoulders, with creases running through the russet skin like an old leather jacket. And the surprisingly familiar eyes, black eyes that seemed at the same time both too young and too ancient for the broad face they were set in. Jacob’s father, Billy Black. I knew him immediately, though in the more than five years since I’d seen him last I’d managed to forget his name when Charlie had spoken of him my first day here. He was staring at me, scrutinizing my face, so I smiled tentatively at him. His eyes were wide, as if in shock or fear, his nostrils flared. My smile faded.

Another complication, Edward had said.

Billy still stared at me with intense, anxious eyes. I groaned internally. Had Billy recognized Edward so easily? Could he really believe the impossible legends his son had scoffed at?

The answer was clear in Billy’s eyes. Yes. Yes, he could.

Apr 10, 2010

College Slice

chitoryu12 posted:

I see we're continuing the theme of our true love just being an alternating series of them arguing, Edward saying it's really hard not to kill her, and Bella being enraptured by how hot and dangerous he is.

It's clear that Edward is supposed to be the audience spokesman here.

May 10, 2008

chitoryu12 posted:

Meyer tried to advertise this "forbidden love" story with the gimmick of Edward having to fight his nature as a vampire, but it just comes off as the equivalent of trying to date Ted Bundy while he resists the urge to bludgeon you to death with a tire iron.

Edward returns home and creates a board with red string connecting all of her answers into a psychological profile that ends with "Eat her."

Imagine seeing this relationship play out in real life.
"What do you and your boyfriend talk about?"
"He asks me questions about literally every one of my likes and dislikes robotically, then silently strokes my face and leaves."

I kinda want to write a parody now, where the Mysterious Boyfriend actually is just a serial killer. And a really unappealing one, too, not the suave literary type with the violin and the elegantly filed fingernails, but the real-world kind with the greasy hair and the My Little Pony bedsheets.
But the protagonist is still just ~*swooning*~ over them.

Let Me Be Your Dakimakura posted:

"Actually, it's called a magazine," he said, waving the metal block in the air. The slightly nasal tenor of his beautiful voice sent a thrill down my spine. "A clip is a strip of metal into which one slots bullets so they can be rapidly fed into a weapon with an internal magazine."
I watched as he forced it into the gun, the cheeto dust under his close-bitten nails shining yellow in the pale morning sunlight. The gun was pink, emblazoned with an elaborate design of a winged horse.

Zanzibar Ham
Mar 17, 2009

You giving me the cold shoulder? How cruel.

Grimey Drawer

Someone wrote a parody where instead of a vampire it's Cthulhu (or some other Lovecraftian thing), but I have no clue how He's portrayed.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 12: Balancing


“Billy!" Charlie called as soon as he got out of the car.

I turned toward the house, beckoning to Jacob as I ducked under the porch. I heard Charlie greeting them loudly behind me.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t see you behind the wheel, Jake,” he said disapprovingly.

“We get permits early on the rez,” Jacob said while I unlocked the door and flicked on the porch light.

“Sure you do,” Charlie laughed.

“I have to get around somehow.” I recognized Billy’s resonant voice easily, despite the years. The sound of it made me feel suddenly younger, a child.

I went inside, leaving the door open behind me and turning on lights before I hung up my jacket. Then I stood in the door, watching anxiously as Charlie and Jacob helped Billy out of the car and into his wheelchair.

In keeping with the parents being the only sensible adults here, Billy Black is considered one of the most relatable characters in the series. He was played by Gil Birmingham, who's of Comanche ancestry. He was a military brat and guitarist who became a petrochemical engineer before deciding to get into acting after his bodybuilding got him a role in a Diana Ross music video; what I'm trying to say is the guy did loving everything. He spent the next two decades on film, TV, and playing Conan in the Conan the Barbarian stunt show at Universal Studios Hollywood. His role as Billy catapulted him to greater fame and earned him the roles of Thomas Rainwater on Yellowstone and Virgil White on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.


I backed out of the way as the three of them hurried in, shaking off the rain.

“This is a surprise,” Charlie was saying.

“It’s been too long,” Billy answered. “I hope it’s not a bad time.” His dark eyes flashed up to me again, their expression unreadable.

“No, it’s great. I hope you can stay for the game.”

Jacob grinned. “I think that’s the plan—our TV broke last week.”

Billy made a face at his son. “And, of course, Jacob was anxious to see Bella again,” he added. Jacob scowled and ducked his head while I fought back a surge of remorse. Maybe I’d been too convincing on the beach.

I see Bella's keeping up her track record of her relationships starting with only one party really being that interested in pursuing it.


“Are you hungry?” I asked, turning toward the kitchen. I was eager to escape Billy’s searching gaze.

“Naw, we ate just before we came,” Jacob answered.

“How about you, Charlie?” I called over my shoulder as I fled around the corner.

“Sure,” he replied, his voice moving in the direction of the front room and the TV. I could hear Billy’s chair follow.

The grilled cheese sandwiches were in the frying pan and I was slicing up a tomato when I sensed someone behind me.

“So, how are things?” Jacob asked.

“Pretty good.” I smiled. His enthusiasm was hard to resist. “How about you? Did you finish your car?”

“No.” He frowned. “I still need parts. We borrowed that one.” He pointed with his thumb in the direction of the front yard.

Nobody has ever told Meyer that she's not writing a script for a play.


“Sorry. I haven’t seen any… what was it you were looking for?”

“Master cylinder.” He grinned. “Is something wrong with the truck?” he added suddenly.


“Oh. I just wondered because you weren’t driving it.”

I stared down at the pan, pulling up the edge of a sandwich to check the bottom side. “I got a ride with a friend.”

“Nice ride.” Jacob’s voice was admiring. “I didn’t recognize the driver, though. I thought I knew most of the kids around here.”

"I thought it was kinda weird how he stomped the gas and drove away at 100 MPH in the rain for no reason, though."


I nodded noncommittally, keeping my eyes down as I flipped sandwiches.

“My dad seemed to know him from somewhere.”

“Jacob, could you hand me some plates? They’re in the cupboard over the sink.”

“Sure.” He got the plates in silence. I hoped he would let it drop now.

“So who was it?” he asked, setting two plates on the counter next to me.

I sighed in defeat. “Edward Cullen.”

To my surprise, he laughed. I glanced up at him. He looked a little embarrassed.

“Guess that explains it, then,” he said. “I wondered why my dad was acting so strange.”

“That’s right.” I faked an innocent expression. “He doesn’t like the Cullens.”

“Superstitious old man,” Jacob muttered under his breath.

“You don’t think he’d say anything to Charlie?” I couldn’t help asking, the words coming out in a low rush.

Jacob stared at me for a moment, and I couldn’t read the expression in his dark eyes. “I doubt it,” he finally answered. “I think Charlie chewed him out pretty good last time. They haven’t spoken much since—tonight is sort of a reunion, I think. I don’t think he’d bring it up again.”

I'm immediately way more interested in Charlie and Billy's relationship than Bella and Edward's.


“Oh,” I said, trying to sound indifferent.

I stayed in the front room after I carried the food out to Charlie, pretending to watch the game while Jacob chattered at me. I was really listening to the men’s conversation, watching for any sign that Billy was about to rat me out, trying to think of ways to stop him if he began.

It was a long night. I had a lot of homework that was going undone, but I was afraid to leave Billy alone with Charlie. Finally, the game ended.

“Are you and your friends coming back to the beach soon?” Jacob asked as he pushed his father over the lip of the threshold.

“I’m not sure,” I hedged.

“That was fun, Charlie,” Billy said.

“Come up for the next game,” Charlie encouraged.

“Sure, sure,” Billy said. “We’ll be here. Have a good night.” His eyes shifted to mine, and his smile disappeared. “You take care, Bella,” he added seriously.

In case you haven't figured it out, Billy is fully aware of all the supernatural goings-on in Forks and his tribe's werewolf secret. He knows exactly how dumb Bella is being with her vampire obsession.


“Thanks,” I muttered, looking away.

I headed for the stairs while Charlie waved from the doorway.

“Wait, Bella,” he said.

I cringed. Had Billy gotten something in before I’d joined them in the living room?

But Charlie was relaxed, still grinning from the unexpected visit.

“I didn’t get a chance to talk to you tonight. How was your day?”

“Good.” I hesitated with one foot on the first stair, searching for details I could safely share. “My badminton team won all four games.”

“Wow, I didn’t know you could play badminton.”

“Well, actually I can’t, but my partner is really good,” I admitted.

“Who is it?” he asked with token interest.

“Um… Mike Newton,” I told him reluctantly.

“Oh yeah—you said you were friends with the Newton kid.” He perked up. “Nice family.” He mused for a minute. “Why didn’t you ask him to the dance this weekend?”

“Dad!” I groaned. “He’s kind of dating my friend Jessica. Besides, you know I can’t dance.”

“Oh yeah,” he muttered. Then he smiled at me apologetically. “So I guess it’s good you’ll be gone Saturday… I’ve made plans to go fishing with the guys from the station. The weather’s supposed to be real warm. But if you wanted to put your trip off till someone could go with you, I’d stay home. I know I leave you here alone too much.”

“Dad, you’re doing a great job.” I smiled, hoping my relief didn’t show. “I’ve never minded being alone—I’m too much like you.” I winked at him, and he smiled his crinkly-eyed smile.

Wait, that's all we got? This got foreshadowed in the last chapter as something serious about to happen with Billy finding out about Bella's relationship and interfering in it. But all we got was him not smiling at her once and leaving!


I slept better that night, too tired to dream again. When I woke to the pearl gray morning, my mood was blissful. The tense evening with Billy and Jacob seemed harmless enough now; I decided to forget it completely. I caught myself whistling while I was pulling the front part of my hair back into a barrette, and later again as I skipped down the stairs. Charlie noticed.

“You’re cheerful this morning,” he commented over breakfast. I shrugged.

“It’s Friday.”

I hurried so I would be ready to go the second Charlie left. I had my bag ready, shoes on, teeth brushed, but even though I rushed to the door as soon as I was sure Charlie would be out of sight, Edward was faster. He was waiting in his shiny car, windows down, engine off.

I didn’t hesitate this time, climbing in the passenger side quickly, the sooner to see his face. He grinned his crooked smile at me, stopping my breath and my heart. I couldn’t imagine how an angel could be any more glorious. There was nothing about him that could be improved upon.

Yeah the problem ain't his face.


“How did you sleep?” he asked. I wondered if he had any idea how appealing his voice was.

“Fine. How was your night?”

“Pleasant.” His smile was amused; I felt like I was missing an inside joke.

“Can I ask what you did?” I asked.

“No.” He grinned. “Today is still mine.

He wanted to know about people today: more about Renée, her hobbies, what we’d done in our free time together. And then the one grandmother I’d known, my few school friends—embarrassing me when he asked about boys I’d dated. I was relieved that I’d never really dated anyone, so that particular conversation couldn’t last long. He seemed as surprised as Jessica and Angela by my lack of romantic history.

“So you never met anyone you wanted?” he asked in a serious tone that made me wonder what he was thinking about.

I was grudgingly honest. “Not in Phoenix.”

I think I was right when I brought up how odd it was that Bella (despite being ogled by everyone on her first day) said she was plain and undesirable in Phoenix. That wasn't the problem. She just didn't pursue anyone until she encountered a supernaturally beautiful vampire that could fulfill her danger fetish.


His lips pressed together into a hard line.

We were in the cafeteria at this point. The day had sped by in the blur that was rapidly becoming routine. I took advantage of his brief pause to take a bite of my bagel.

“I should have let you drive yourself today,” he announced, apropos of nothing, while I chewed.

“Why?” I demanded.

“I’m leaving with Alice after lunch.”

“Oh.” I blinked, bewildered and disappointed. “That’s okay, it’s not that far of a walk.”

He frowned at me impatiently. “I’m not going to make you walk home. We’ll go get your truck and leave it here for you.”

“I don’t have my key with me,” I sighed. “I really don’t mind walking.” What I minded was losing my time with him.

He shook his head. “Your truck will be here, and the key will be in the ignition—unless you’re afraid someone might steal it.” He laughed at the thought.

“All right,” I agreed, pursing my lips. I was pretty sure my key was in the pocket of a pair of jeans I wore Wednesday, under a pile of clothes in the laundry room. Even if he broke into my house, or whatever he was planning, he’d never find it. He seemed to feel the challenge in my consent. He smirked, overconfident.

Remember the excerpt from Midnight Sun where Edward reveals he picked the key from her pocket after dropping her off at home for the first time?


“So where are you going?” I asked as casually as I could manage.

“Hunting,” he answered grimly. “If I’m going to be alone with you tomorrow, I’m going to take whatever precautions I can.” His face grew morose… and pleading. “You can always cancel, you know.”

I looked down, afraid of the persuasive power of his eyes. I refused to be convinced to fear him, no matter how real the danger might be. It doesn’t matter, I repeated in my head.

“No,” I whispered, glancing back at his face. “I can’t.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” he murmured bleakly. His eyes seemed to darken in color as I watched.

I changed the subject. “What time will I see you tomorrow?” I asked, already depressed by the thought of him leaving now.

“That depends… it’s a Saturday, don’t you want to sleep in?” he offered.

“No,” I answered too fast.

He restrained a smile. “The same time as usual, then,” he decided. “Will Charlie be there?”

“No, he’s fishing tomorrow.” I beamed at the memory of how conveniently things had worked out.

His voice turned sharp. “And if you don’t come home, what will he think?”

“I have no idea,” I answered coolly. “He knows I’ve been meaning to do the laundry. Maybe he’ll think I fell in the washer.”

That wouldn't be unprecedented.


He scowled at me and I scowled back. His anger was much more impressive than mine.

“What are you hunting tonight?” I asked when I was sure I had lost the glowering contest.

“Whatever we find in the park. We aren’t going far.” He seemed bemused by my casual reference to his secret realities.

“Why are you going with Alice?” I wondered.

“Alice is the most… supportive.” He frowned as he spoke.

“And the others?” I asked timidly. “What are they?”

His brow puckered for a brief moment. “Incredulous, for the most part.”

I peeked quickly behind me at his family. They sat staring off in different directions, exactly the same as the first time I’d seen them. Only now they were four; their beautiful, bronze-haired brother sat across from me, his golden eyes troubled.

“They don’t like me,” I guessed.

“That’s not it,” he disagreed, but his eyes were too innocent. “They don’t understand why I can’t leave you alone.”

Midnight Sun is mostly a direct rehash of every single Bella and Edward scene right down to the dialogue, but one of the very few improvements it adds to the story is showing Edward's side of everything. During this book he's been spending just about every night talking to his vampire family, trying to figure out what to do. His obsession with Bella is the desirability of her blood as much as his attraction to her and the intrigue of her being immune to mind reading.

When Edward saved Bella from the van, Jasper and Rosalie both wanted to kill her as an eyewitness. Carlisle convinced them to stand down to stay true to their coven's refusal to kill humans, but there's a bigger problem: Alice's power is predicting the future, and the only three paths that she's solidified on at this point are Edward falling in love with Bella, killing Bella, or having her transformed into a vampire to be with them.

While it still wouldn't fix any current issues with the writing and characters, I think Twilight would have been much better if it was written from a third-person view and skipped between the two. Much of Edward's behavior comes off as so abhorrent or bizarre because it's lacking the context that's all left in the background unless you read an unfinished draft. It's still not good, but a lot of scenes make way more sense.


I grimaced. “Neither do I, for that matter.”

Edward shook his head slowly, rolling his eyes toward the ceiling before he met my gaze again. “I told you—you don’t see yourself clearly at all. You’re not like anyone I’ve ever known. You fascinate me.”

I glared at him, sure he was teasing now.

He smiled as he deciphered my expression. “Having the advantages I do,” he murmured, touching his forehead discreetly, “I have a better than average grasp of human nature. People are predictable. But you… you never do what I expect. You always take me by surprise.”

"You always make these dramatically dumb decisions. I never know what's going to happen next."


I looked away, my eyes wandering back to his family, embarrassed and dissatisfied. His words made me feel like a science experiment. I wanted to laugh at myself for expecting anything else.

“That part is easy enough to explain,” he continued. I felt his eyes on my face but I couldn’t look at him yet, afraid he might read the chagrin in my eyes. “But there’s more… and it’s not so easy to put into words—”

I was still staring at the Cullens while he spoke. Suddenly Rosalie, his blond and breathtaking sister, turned to look at me. No, not to look—to glare, with dark, cold eyes. I wanted to look away, but her gaze held me until Edward broke off mid-sentence and made an angry noise under his breath. It was almost a hiss.

Rosalie turned her head, and I was relieved to be free. I looked back at Edward—and I knew he could see the confusion and fear that widened my eyes.

Another thing Midnight Sun shows is that because Edward is telepathic, the other members of his family will silently communicate with him by letting their thoughts get picked up. It only works one way because none of them are telepathic, but it's actually a cool use of the power that (again) I wish was explored more fully in this first book.


His face was tight as he explained. “I’m sorry about that. She’s just worried. You see… it’s dangerous for more than just me if, after spending so much time with you so publicly…” He looked down.


“If this ends… badly.” He dropped his head into his hands, as he had that night in Port Angeles. His anguish was plain; I yearned to comfort him, but I was at a loss to know how. My hand reached toward him involuntarily; quickly, though, I dropped it to the table, fearing that my touch would only make things worse. I realized slowly that his words should frighten me. I waited for that fear to come, but all I could seem to feel was an ache for his pain.

And frustration—frustration that Rosalie had interrupted whatever he was about to say. I didn’t know how to bring it up again. He still had his head in his hands.

I tried to speak in a normal voice. “And you have to leave now?”

“Yes.” He raised his face; it was serious for a moment, and then his mood shifted and he smiled. “It’s probably for the best. We still have fifteen minutes of that wretched movie left to endure in Biology—I don’t think I could take any more.”

I started. Alice—her short, inky hair in a halo of spiky disarray around her exquisite, elfin face—was suddenly standing behind his shoulder. Her slight frame was willowy, graceful even in absolute stillness.

Alice was played by 21-year-old Ashley Greene (very close to the real Alice's frozen age of 19), who was easily one of the top casting choices of the film in terms of similarity to the book. She wanted to be a model, but she's only 5'5. She's been lower key than the rest of her celebrity companions in the Cullen family, still acting consistently but mostly appearing in limited releases or smaller films. Being nerds, you've most likely heard her voicing Barbara Gordon in Batman: Arkham Knight.


He greeted her without looking away from me. “Alice.”

“Edward,” she answered, her high soprano voice almost as attractive as his.

“Alice, Bella—Bella, Alice,” he introduced us, gesturing casually with his hand, a wry smile on his face.

“Hello, Bella.” Her brilliant obsidian eyes were unreadable, but her smile was friendly. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Edward flashed a dark look at her.

“Hi, Alice,” I murmured shyly.

“Are you ready?” she asked him. His voice was aloof.

“Nearly. I’ll meet you at the car.” She left without another word; her walk was so fluid, so sinuous that I felt a sharp pang of jealousy.

“Should I say ‘have fun,’ or is that the wrong sentiment?” I asked, turning back to him.

“No, ‘have fun’ works as well as anything.” He grinned.

“Have fun, then.” I worked to sound wholehearted. Of course I didn’t fool him.

“I’ll try.” He still grinned. “And you try to be safe, please.”

“Safe in Forks—what a challenge.”

“For you it is a challenge.” His jaw hardened. “Promise.”

“I promise to try to be safe,” I recited. “I’ll do the laundry tonight—that ought to be fraught with peril.”

“Don’t fall in,” he mocked.

“I’ll do my best.”

He stood then, and I rose, too.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I sighed.

“It seems like a long time to you, doesn’t it?” he mused.

I nodded glumly.

Almost as long as reading this!


“I’ll be there in the morning,” he promised, smiling his crooked smile. He reached across the table to touch my face, lightly brushing along my cheekbone again. Then he turned and walked away. I stared after him until he was gone.

I was sorely tempted to ditch the rest of the day, at the very least Gym, but a warning instinct stopped me. I knew that if I disappeared now, Mike and others would assume I was with Edward. And Edward was worried about the time we’d spent together publicly… if things went wrong. I refused to dwell on the last thought, concentrating instead on making things safer for him.

A good relationship is one that you need to hide because it might end in you dying and suspicion falling on your boyfriend.


I intuitively knew—and sensed he did, too—that tomorrow would be pivotal. Our relationship couldn’t continue to balance, as it did, on the point of a knife. We would fall off one edge or the other, depending entirely upon his decision, or his instincts. My decision was made, made before I’d ever consciously chosen, and I was committed to seeing it through. Because there was nothing more terrifying to me, more excruciating, than the thought of turning away from him. It was an impossibility.

I went to class, feeling dutiful. I couldn’t honestly say what happened in Biology; my mind was too preoccupied with thoughts of tomorrow. In Gym, Mike was speaking to me again; he wished me a good time in Seattle. I carefully explained that I’d canceled my trip, worried about my truck.

“Are you going to the dance with Cullen?” he asked, suddenly sulky.

“No, I’m not going to the dance at all.”

“What are you doing, then?” he asked, too interested. My natural urge was to tell him to butt out. Instead, I lied brightly.

“Laundry, and then I have to study for the Trig test or I’m going to fail.”

“Is Cullen helping you study?”

Edward,” I emphasized, “is not going to help me study. He’s gone away somewhere for the weekend.” The lies came more naturally than usual, I noted with surprise.

Is it really surprising? You've been doing it this whole book. You can't just do something consistently from start to finish and then go "Golly gee, I've never been like this before!"


“Oh.” He perked up. “You know, you could come to the dance with our group anyway—that would be cool. We’d all dance with you,” he promised.

The mental image of Jessica’s face made my tone sharper than necessary.

“I’m not going to the dance, Mike, okay?”

“Fine.” He sulked again. “I was just offering.”

Again, I wonder why everyone except Lauren is so eager to be Bella's friend despite her being a pretty terrible one.


When the school day had finally ended, I walked to the parking lot without enthusiasm. I did not especially want to walk home, but I couldn’t see how he would have retrieved my truck. Then again, I was starting to believe that nothing was impossible for him. The latter instinct proved correct—my truck sat in the same space he’d parked his Volvo in this morning. I shook my head, incredulous, as I opened the unlocked door and saw the key in the ignition.

There was a piece of white paper folded on my seat. I got in and closed the door before I unfolded it. Two words were written in his elegant script.

Be safe.

The sound of the truck roaring to life frightened me. I laughed at myself.

Is she really not going to question how easily he found her key?


When I got home, the handle of the door was locked, the dead bolt unlocked, just as I’d left it this morning. Inside, I went straight to the laundry room. It looked just the same as I’d left it, too. I dug for my jeans and, after finding them, checked the pockets. Empty. Maybe I’d hung my key up after all, I thought, shaking my head.

Let's never forget that Edward is so protectively clingy that he stole her truck key and arranged for her to keep being driven around by him so she wouldn't suspect it.


Following the same instinct that had prompted me to lie to Mike, I called Jessica on the pretense of wishing her luck at the dance. When she offered the same wish for my day with Edward, I told her about the cancellation. She was more disappointed than really necessary for a third-party observer to be. I said goodbye quickly after that.

Charlie was absentminded at dinner, worried over something at work, I guessed, or maybe a basketball game, or maybe he was just really enjoying the lasagna—it was hard to tell with Charlie.

That's because Charlie is a pure soul.


“You know, Dad…,” I began, breaking into his reverie.

“What’s that, Bell?”

“I think you’re right about Seattle. I think I’ll wait until Jessica or someone else can go with me.”

“Oh,” he said, surprised. “Oh, okay. So, do you want me to stay home?”

“No, Dad, don’t change your plans. I’ve got a million things to do… homework, laundry… I need to go to the library and the grocery store. I’ll be in and out all day… you go and have fun.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely, Dad. Besides, the freezer is getting dangerously low on fish—we’re down to a two, maybe three years’ supply.”

“You’re sure easy to live with, Bella.” He smiled.

“I could say the same thing about you,” I said, laughing. The sound of my laughter was off, but he didn’t seem to notice. I felt so guilty for deceiving him that I almost took Edward’s advice and told him where I would be. Almost.

Charlie doesn't deserve this.


After dinner, I folded clothes and moved another load through the dryer. Unfortunately it was the kind of job that only keeps hands busy. My mind definitely had too much free time, and it was getting out of control. I fluctuated between anticipation so intense that it was very nearly pain, and an insidious fear that picked at my resolve. I had to keep reminding myself that I’d made my choice, and I wasn’t going back on it. I pulled his note out of my pocket much more often than necessary to absorb the two small words he’d written. He wants me to be safe, I told myself again and again. I would just hold on to the faith that, in the end, that desire would win out over the others. And what was my other choice—to cut him out of my life? Intolerable. Besides, since I’d come to Forks, it really seemed like my life was about him.

But a tiny voice in the back of my mind worried, wondering if it would hurt very much… if it ended badly.

Just wait until we get to New Moon!


I was relieved when it was late enough to be acceptable for bedtime. I knew I was far too stressed to sleep, so I did something I’d never done before. I deliberately took unnecessary cold medicine—the kind that knocked me out for a good eight hours. I normally wouldn’t condone that type of behavior in myself, but tomorrow would be complicated enough without me being loopy from sleep deprivation on top of everything else. While I waited for the drugs to kick in, I dried my clean hair till it was impeccably straight, and fussed over what I would wear tomorrow.

With everything ready for the morning, I finally lay in my bed. I felt hyper; I couldn’t stop twitching. I got up and rifled through my shoebox of CDs until I found a collection of Chopin’s nocturnes. I put that on very quietly and then lay down again, concentrating on relaxing individual parts of my body. Somewhere in the middle of that exercise, the cold pills took effect, and I gladly sank into unconsciousness.

Can we get a count of how many times Bella says that she's so bad for doing these things and she never does this but actually does it all the time?


I woke early, having slept soundly and dreamlessly thanks to my gratuitous drug use.

That was just cold medicine, Bella. Call me when you're abusing sleeping pills.


Though I was well rested, I slipped right back into the same hectic frenzy from the night before. I dressed in a rush, smoothing my collar against my neck, fidgeting with the tan sweater till it hung right over my jeans. I sneaked a swift look out the window to see that Charlie was already gone. A thin, cottony layer of clouds veiled the sky. They didn’t look very lasting.

I ate breakfast without tasting the food, hurrying to clean up when I was done. I peeked out the window again, but nothing had changed. I had just finished brushing my teeth and was heading back downstairs when a quiet knock sent my heart thudding against my rib cage.

I flew to the door; I had a little trouble with the simple deadbolt, but I yanked the door open at last, and there he was. All the agitation dissolved as soon as I looked at his face, calm taking its place. I breathed a sigh of relief—yesterday’s fears seemed very foolish with him here.

He wasn’t smiling at first—his face was somber. But then his expression lightened as he looked me over, and he laughed.

“Good morning,” he chuckled.

“What’s wrong?” I glanced down to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything important, like shoes, or pants.

“We match.” He laughed again. I realized he had a long, light tan sweater on, with a white collar showing underneath, and blue jeans. I laughed with him, hiding a secret twinge of regret—why did he have to look like a runway model when I couldn’t?

Because you put the bare minimum of effort into most of your life?


I locked the door behind me while he walked to the truck. He waited by the passenger door with a martyred expression that was easy to understand.

“We made a deal,” I reminded him smugly, climbing into the driver’s seat, and reaching over to unlock his door.

“Where to?” I asked.

“Put your seat belt on—I’m nervous already.”

I gave him a dirty look as I complied.

Bella don't tell me you drive without your loving seatbelt too!


“Where to?” I repeated with a sigh.

“Take the one-oh-one north,” he ordered.

It was surprisingly difficult to concentrate on the road while feeling his gaze on my face. I compensated by driving more carefully than usual through the still-sleeping town.

“Were you planning to make it out of Forks before nightfall?”

“This truck is old enough to be your car’s grandfather—have some respect,” I retorted.

We were soon out of the town limits, despite his negativity. Thick underbrush and green-swathed trunks replaced the lawns and houses.

“Turn right on the one-ten,” he instructed just as I was about to ask. I obeyed silently.

“Now we drive until the pavement ends.” I could hear a smile in his voice, but I was too afraid of driving off the road and proving him right to look over and be sure.

“And what’s there, at the pavement’s end?” I wondered.

“A trail.”

“We’re hiking?” Thank goodness I’d worn tennis shoes.

“Is that a problem?” He sounded as if he’d expected as much.

“No.” I tried to make the lie sound confident. But if he thought my truck was slow…

“Don’t worry, it’s only five miles or so, and we’re in no hurry.”

Five miles. I didn’t answer, so that he wouldn’t hear my voice crack in panic. Five miles of treacherous roots and loose stones, trying to twist my ankles or otherwise incapacitate me. This was going to be humiliating.

Our hero!


We drove in silence for a while as I contemplated the coming horror.

“What are you thinking?” he asked impatiently after a few moments.

I lied again. “Just wondering where we’re going.”

“It’s a place I like to go when the weather is nice.” We both glanced out the windows at the thinning clouds after he spoke.

“Charlie said it would be warm today.”

“And did you tell Charlie what you were up to?” he asked.


“But Jessica thinks we’re going to Seattle together?” He seemed cheered by the idea.

“No, I told her you canceled on me—which is true.”

“No one knows you’re with me?” Angrily, now.

“That depends… I assume you told Alice?”

“That’s very helpful, Bella,” he snapped.

I could build a quilt that covered Meyer's house with all the red flags in this.


I pretended I didn’t hear that.

“Are you so depressed by Forks that it’s made you suicidal?” he demanded when I ignored him.

“You said it might cause trouble for you… us being together publicly,” I reminded him.

“So you’re worried about the trouble it might cause me—if you don’t come home?” His voice was still angry, and bitingly sarcastic.

I nodded, keeping my eyes on the road. He muttered something under his breath, speaking so quickly that I couldn’t understand.

We were silent for the rest of the drive. I could feel the waves of infuriated disapproval rolling off of him, and I could think of nothing to say.

I'm really into that idea of making a book that's exactly the same but instead of a vampire Edward really is a serial killer.


And then the road ended, constricting to a thin foot trail with a small wooden marker. I parked on the narrow shoulder and stepped out, afraid because he was angry with me and I didn’t have driving as an excuse not to look at him. It was warm now, warmer than it had been in Forks since the day I’d arrived, almost muggy under the clouds. I pulled off my sweater and knotted it around my waist, glad that I’d worn the light, sleeveless shirt—especially if I had five miles of hiking ahead of me.

I heard his door slam, and looked over to see that he’d removed his sweater, too. He was facing away from me, into the unbroken forest beside my truck.

“This way,” he said, glancing over his shoulder at me, eyes still annoyed. He started into the dark forest.

“The trail?” Panic was clear in my voice as I hurried around the truck to catch up to him.

“I said there was a trail at the end of the road, not that we were taking it.”

“No trail?” I asked desperately.

“I won’t let you get lost.” He turned then, with a mocking smile, and I stifled a gasp. His white shirt was sleeveless, and he wore it unbuttoned, so that the smooth white skin of his throat flowed uninterrupted over the marble contours of his chest, his perfect musculature no longer merely hinted at behind concealing clothes. He was too perfect, I realized with a piercing stab of despair. There was no way this godlike creature could be meant for me.

This got old many, many chapters ago.


He stared at me, bewildered by my tortured expression.

“Do you want to go home?” he said quietly, a different pain than mine saturating his voice.

“No.” I walked forward till I was close beside him, anxious not to waste one second of whatever time I might have with him.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, his voice gentle.

“I’m not a good hiker,” I answered dully. “You’ll have to be very patient.”

“I can be patient—if I make a great effort.” He smiled, holding my glance, trying to lift me out of my sudden, unexplained dejection.

I tried to smile back, but the smile was unconvincing. He scrutinized my face.

“I’ll take you home,” he promised. I couldn’t tell if the promise was unconditional, or restricted to an immediate departure. I knew he thought it was fear that upset me, and I was grateful again that I was the one person whose mind he couldn’t hear.

Imagine being such a wimp that your reaction to a 5-mile hike on a pleasant day is extreme enough to make your date think that you're having a nervous breakdown over vampires.


“If you want me to hack five miles through the jungle before sundown, you’d better start leading the way,” I said acidly. He frowned at me, struggling to understand my tone and expression. He gave up after a moment and led the way into the forest.

It wasn’t as hard as I had feared. The way was mostly flat, and he held the damp ferns and webs of moss aside for me. When his straight path took us over fallen trees or boulders, he would help me, lifting me by the elbow, and then releasing me instantly when I was clear. His cold touch on my skin never failed to make my heart thud erratically. Twice, when that happened, I caught a look on his face that made me sure he could somehow hear it.

I tried to keep my eyes away from his perfection as much as possible, but I slipped often. Each time, his beauty pierced me through with sadness.

This poo poo reads like a parody of itself sometimes.


For the most part, we walked in silence. Occasionally he would ask a random question that he hadn’t gotten to in the past two days of interrogation. He asked about my birthdays, my grade school teachers, my childhood pets—and I had to admit that after killing three fish in a row, I’d given up on the whole institution. He laughed at that, louder than I was used to—bell-like echoes bouncing back to us from the empty woods.

Seriously, what's her appeal? At what point has our "generic audience stand-in" done anything to make her even slightly appealing as a girlfriend?


The hike took me most of the morning, but he never showed any sign of impatience. The forest spread out around us in a boundless labyrinth of ancient trees, and I began to be nervous that we would never find our way out again. He was perfectly at ease, comfortable in the green maze, never seeming to feel any doubt about our direction.

After several hours, the light that filtered through the canopy transformed, the murky olive tone shifting to a brighter jade. The day had turned sunny, just as he’d foretold. For the first time since we’d entered the woods, I felt a thrill of excitement—which quickly turned to impatience.

“Are we there yet?” I teased, pretending to scowl.

“Nearly.” He smiled at the change in my mood. “Do you see the brightness ahead?” I peered into the thick forest.

“Um, should I?” He smirked.

“Maybe it’s a bit soon for your eyes.”

“Time to visit the optometrist,” I muttered. His smirk grew more pronounced.

Always make sure your boyfriend flaunts his talents and superiority over the rest of humanity at every turn!


But then, after another hundred yards, I could definitely see a lightening in the trees ahead, a glow that was yellow instead of green. I picked up the pace, my eagerness growing with every step. He let me lead now, following noiselessly.

I reached the edge of the pool of light and stepped through the last fringe of ferns into the loveliest place I had ever seen. The meadow was small, perfectly round, and filled with wildflowers—violet, yellow, and soft white. Somewhere nearby, I could hear the bubbling music of a stream. The sun was directly overhead, filling the circle with a haze of buttery sunshine. I walked slowly, awestruck, through the soft grass, swaying flowers, and warm, gilded air. I halfway turned, wanting to share this with him, but he wasn’t behind me where I thought he’d be. I spun around, searching for him with sudden alarm. Finally I spotted him, still under the dense shade of the canopy at the edge of the hollow, watching me with cautious eyes. Only then did I remember what the beauty of the meadow had driven from my mind—the enigma of Edward and the sun, which he’d promised to illustrate for me today.

I took a step back toward him, my eyes alight with curiosity. His eyes were wary, reluctant. I smiled encouragingly and beckoned to him with my hand, taking another step back to him. He held up a hand in warning, and I hesitated, rocking back onto my heels.

Edward seemed to take a deep breath, and then he stepped out into the bright glow of the midday sun.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 16:41 on Jul 15, 2019

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 13: Confessions


Edward in the sunlight was shocking. I couldn't get used to it, though I’d been staring at him all afternoon. His skin, white despite the faint flush from yesterday’s hunting trip, literally sparkled, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface. He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare. His glistening, pale lavender lids were shut, though of course he didn’t sleep. A perfect statue, carved in some unknown stone, smooth like marble, glittering like crystal.

Now and then, his lips would move, so fast it looked like they were trembling. But, when I asked, he told me he was singing to himself; it was too low for me to hear.

I enjoyed the sun, too, though the air wasn’t quite dry enough for my taste. I would have liked to lie back, as he did, and let the sun warm my face. But I stayed curled up, my chin resting on my knees, unwilling to take my eyes off him. The wind was gentle; it tangled my hair and ruffled the grass that swayed around his motionless form.

The meadow, so spectacular to me at first, paled next to his magnificence.

Everyone focused on the bizarre tweeness of sparkling vampires, but I can't get over how boring this passage is. The reveal got its own dramatic chapter break and is being talked up as this impossibly gorgeous thing that strikes Bella dumb, but it's written with the same dull matter-of-fact manner as the rest of Meyer's writing. It has all the emotional impact of her recounting yet another day in school.


Hesitantly, always afraid, even now, that he would disappear like a mirage, too beautiful to be real… hesitantly, I reached out one finger and stroked the back of his shimmering hand, where it lay within my reach. I marveled again at the perfect texture, satin smooth, cool as stone. When I looked up again, his eyes were open, watching me. Butterscotch today, lighter, warmer after hunting. His quick smile turned up the corners of his flawless lips.

“I don’t scare you?” he asked playfully, but I could hear the real curiosity in his soft voice.

“No more than usual.”

He smiled wider; his teeth flashed in the sun.

I inched closer, stretched out my whole hand now to trace the contours of his forearm with my fingertips. I saw that my fingers trembled, and knew it wouldn’t escape his notice.

“Do you mind?” I asked, for he had closed his eyes again.

“No,” he said without opening his eyes. “You can’t imagine how that feels.” He sighed.

After reading Midnight Sun, I understand now why Robert Pattinson played Edward the way he did. On the surface Edward does a lot of smiling and playful mockery, but hearing his inner monologue really brings out the inhuman obsession and violence in his personality.


I lightly trailed my hand over the perfect muscles of his arm, followed the faint pattern of bluish veins inside the crease at his elbow. With my other hand, I reached to turn his hand over. Realizing what I wished, he flipped his palm up in one of those blindingly fast, disconcerting movements of his. It startled me; my fingers froze on his arm for a brief second.

“Sorry,” he murmured. I looked up in time to see his golden eyes close again. “It’s too easy to be myself with you.”

I lifted his hand, turning it this way and that as I watched the sun glitter on his palm. I held it closer to my face, trying to see the hidden facets in his skin.

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” he whispered. I looked to see his eyes watching me, suddenly intent. “It’s still so strange for me, not knowing.”

“You know, the rest of us feel that way all the time.”

“It’s a hard life.” Did I imagine the hint of regret in his tone? “But you didn’t tell me.”

“I was wishing I could know what you were thinking…” I hesitated.


“I was wishing that I could believe that you were real. And I was wishing that I wasn’t afraid.”

“I don’t want you to be afraid.” His voice was just a soft murmur. I heard what he couldn’t truthfully say, that I didn’t need to be afraid, that there was nothing to fear.

But weren't you telling her in every single chapter (drat near every conversation, in fact) that you did want her to be afraid and that being with you is a mistake?


“Well, that’s not exactly the fear I meant, though that’s certainly something to think about.”

So quickly that I missed his movement, he was half sitting, propped up on his right arm, his left palm still in my hands. His angel’s face was only a few inches from mine. I might have—should have—flinched away from his unexpected closeness, but I was unable to move. His golden eyes mesmerized me.

“What are you afraid of, then?” he whispered intently.

But I couldn’t answer. As I had just that once before, I smelled his cool breath in my face. Sweet, delicious, the scent made my mouth water. It was unlike anything else. Instinctively, unthinkingly, I leaned closer, inhaling.

And he was gone, his hand ripped from mine. In the time it took my eyes to focus, he was twenty feet away, standing at the edge of the small meadow, in the deep shade of a huge fir tree. He stared at me, his eyes dark in the shadows, his expression unreadable.

I could feel the hurt and shock on my face. My empty hands stung. “I’m… sorry… Edward,” I whispered. I knew he could hear.

“Give me a moment,” he called, just loud enough for my less sensitive ears. I sat very still.

Edward's super speed coming out during what's supposed to be a tender romantic moment makes it comical to me. I'm envisioning this Looney Toons cartoonish zooming around at every impulse.


After ten incredibly long seconds, he walked back, slowly for him. He stopped, still several feet away, and sank gracefully to the ground, crossing his legs. His eyes never left mine. He took two deep breaths, and then smiled in apology.

“I am so very sorry.” He hesitated. “Would you understand what I meant if I said I was only human?”

I nodded once, not quite able to smile at his joke. Adrenaline pulsed through my veins as the realization of danger slowly sank in. He could smell that from where he sat. His smile turned mocking.

“I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I? Everything about me invites you in—my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I need any of that!” Unexpectedly, he was on his feet, bounding away, instantly out of sight, only to appear beneath the same tree as before, having circled the meadow in half a second.

“As if you could outrun me,” he laughed bitterly.

He reached up with one hand and, with a deafening crack, effortlessly ripped a two-foot-thick branch from the trunk of the spruce. He balanced it in that hand for a moment, and then threw it with blinding speed, shattering it against another huge tree, which shook and trembled at the blow.

And he was in front of me again, standing two feet away, still as a stone.

“As if you could fight me off,” he said gently.

This is like that moment when you first visit your boyfriend's house after getting married and he just pulls out a gun and stares you dead in the eye.


I sat without moving, more frightened of him than I had ever been. I’d never seen him so completely freed of that carefully cultivated façade. He’d never been less human… or more beautiful. Face ashen, eyes wide, I sat like a bird locked in the eyes of a snake.

His lovely eyes seemed to glow with rash excitement. Then, as the seconds passed, they dimmed. His expression slowly folded into a mask of ancient sadness.

Mask of Ancient Sadness is my new metal band name.


“Don’t be afraid,” he murmured, his velvet voice unintentionally seductive. “I promise…” He hesitated. “I swear not to hurt you.” He seemed more concerned with convincing himself than me.

Then why the gently caress were you just showing off how easily you could kill her and telling her that she needs to be afraid of you all the time?! I'm getting loving whiplash trying to understand this relationship.


“Don’t be afraid,” he whispered again as he stepped closer, with exaggerated slowness. He sat sinuously, with deliberately unhurried movements, till our faces were on the same level, just a foot apart.

“Please forgive me,” he said formally. “I can control myself. You caught me off guard. But I’m on my best behavior now.”

Meyer hits every single point of abuser language so perfectly that I almost can't believe she did it all unintentionally. Is she okay? Do we need to investigate her husband?


He waited, but I still couldn’t speak.

“I’m not thirsty today, honestly.” He winked.

At that I had to laugh, though the sound was shaky and breathless.

Seriously. Young girls were supposed to find this romantic.


“Are you all right?” he asked tenderly, reaching out slowly, carefully, to place his marble hand back in mine.

I looked at his smooth, cold hand, and then at his eyes. They were soft, repentant. I looked back at his hand, and then deliberately returned to tracing the lines in his hand with my fingertip. I looked up and smiled timidly.

His answering smile was dazzling.

“So where were we, before I behaved so rudely?” he asked in the gentle cadences of an earlier century.

Edward was turned in 1918 as a teenager. He's not loving Heathcliff.


“I honestly can’t remember.” He smiled, but his face was ashamed.

“I think we were talking about why you were afraid, besides the obvious reason.”

“Oh, right.”


I looked down at his hand and doodled aimlessly across his smooth, iridescent palm. The seconds ticked by.

“How easily frustrated I am,” he sighed.

Apparently Meyer's idea of someone speaking like they're from the past is people talking like characters in 19th century literature.


I looked into his eyes, abruptly grasping that this was every bit as new to him as it was to me. As many years of unfathomable experience as he had, this was hard for him, too. I took courage from that thought.

“I was afraid… because, for, well, obvious reasons, I can’t stay with you. And I’m afraid that I’d like to stay with you, much more than I should.” I looked down at his hands as I spoke. It was difficult for me to say this aloud.

“Yes,” he agreed slowly. “That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me. That’s really not in your best interest.”

I frowned.

“I should have left long ago,” he sighed. “I should leave now. But I don’t know if I can.”

“I don’t want you to leave,” I mumbled pathetically, staring down again.

“Which is exactly why I should. But don’t worry. I’m essentially a selfish creature. I crave your company too much to do what I should.”

“I’m glad.”

“Don’t be!” He withdrew his hand, more gently this time; his voice was harsher than usual. Harsh for him, still more beautiful than any human voice. It was hard to keep up—his sudden mood changes left me always a step behind, dazed.

This is me trying to follow the direction of the conversation.


“It’s not only your company I crave! Never forget that. Never forget I am more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else.” He stopped, and I looked to see him gazing unseeingly into the forest.

I thought for a moment.

“I don’t think I understand exactly what you mean—by that last part anyway,” I said.

He's a loving vampire.


He looked back at me and smiled, his mood shifting yet again.

“How do I explain?” he mused. “And without frightening you again… hmmmm.” Without seeming to think about it, he placed his hand back in mine; I held it tightly in both of mine. He looked at our hands.

“That’s amazingly pleasant, the warmth.” He sighed.

A moment passed as he assembled his thoughts.

“You know how everyone enjoys different flavors?” he began. “Some people love chocolate ice cream, others prefer strawberry?”

I nodded.

“Sorry about the food analogy—I couldn’t think of another way to explain.”

I smiled. He smiled ruefully back.

“You see, every person smells different, has a different essence. If you locked an alcoholic in a room full of stale beer, he’d gladly drink it. But he could resist, if he wished to, if he were a recovering alcoholic. Now let’s say you placed in that room a glass of hundred-year-old brandy, the rarest, finest cognac—and filled the room with its warm aroma—how do you think he would fare then?”

I definitely understand this analogy.


We sat silently, looking into each other’s eyes—trying to read each other’s thoughts.

He broke the silence first.

“Maybe that’s not the right comparison. Maybe it would be too easy to turn down the brandy. Perhaps I should have made our alcoholic a heroin addict instead.”

You're just making this worse now!


“So what you’re saying is, I’m your brand of heroin?” I teased, trying to lighten the mood.

He smiled swiftly, seeming to appreciate my effort. “Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin.”

Again, romance book meant to appeal to teenage girls.


“Does that happen often?” I asked.

He looked across the treetops, thinking through his response.

“I spoke to my brothers about it.” He still stared into the distance. “To Jasper, every one of you is much the same. He’s the most recent to join our family. It’s a struggle for him to abstain at all. He hasn’t had time to grow sensitive to the differences in smell, in flavor.” He glanced swiftly at me, his expression apologetic.

Jasper is a loving rube, is what he's saying.


“Sorry,” he said.

“I don’t mind. Please don’t worry about offending me, or frightening me, or whichever. That’s the way you think. I can understand, or I can try to at least. Just explain however you can.”

He took a deep breath and gazed at the sky again.

“So Jasper wasn’t sure if he’d ever come across someone who was as”—he hesitated, looking for the right word—“appealing as you are to me. Which makes me think not. Emmett has been on the wagon longer, so to speak, and he understood what I meant. He says twice, for him, once stronger than the other.”

“And for you?”

“Never.” The word hung there for a moment in the warm breeze.

“What did Emmett do?” I asked to break the silence.

It was the wrong question to ask. His face grew dark, his hand clenched into a fist inside mine. He looked away. I waited, but he wasn’t going to answer.

“I guess I know,” I finally said.

I should point out before we meet them that Carlisle is the only member of the Cullen family to never kill a human being. All of them, Edward especially, have a high enough body count to be considered mass murderers.


He lifted his eyes; his expression was wistful, pleading.

“Even the strongest of us fall off the wagon, don’t we?”

Yeah but when most of us fall off the wagon the wagon isn't "killing people"!


“What are you asking? My permission?” My voice was sharper than I’d intended. I tried to make my tone kinder—I could guess what his honesty must cost him. “I mean, is there no hope, then?” How calmly I could discuss my own death!

Remember in the prologue where Bella says she's never given much thought to how she would die? That's a lie too.


“No, no!” He was instantly contrite. “Of course there’s hope! I mean, of course I won’t…” He left the sentence hanging. His eyes burned into mine. “It’s different for us. Emmett… these were strangers he happened across. It was a long time ago, and he wasn’t as… practiced, as careful, as he is now.”

He fell silent and watched me intently as I thought it through.

“So if we’d met… oh, in a dark alley or something…” I trailed off.

“It took everything I had not to jump up in the middle of that class full of children and—” He stopped abruptly, looking away. “When you walked past me, I could have ruined everything Carlisle has built for us, right then and there. If I hadn’t been denying my thirst for the last, well, too many years, I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself.” He paused, scowling at the trees.

He's not kidding. Midnight Sun begins with Edward actually thinking about how he would get away with killing Bella and then the entire classroom of witnesses. Had this coin flip landed the other way, the book would have ended in the first chapter after Edward Cullen slaughtered two dozen teenagers and their teacher.

Isn't this a pleasant thing to admit to your potential girlfriend? That you just barely resisted the urge to commit mass murder upon seeing her?


He glanced at me grimly, both of us remembering. “You must have thought I was possessed.”

“I couldn’t understand why. How you could hate me so quickly…”

“To me, it was like you were some kind of demon, summoned straight from my own personal hell to ruin me. The fragrance coming off your skin… I thought it would make me deranged that first day. In that one hour, I thought of a hundred different ways to lure you from the room with me, to get you alone. And I fought them each back, thinking of my family, what I could do to them. I had to run out, to get away before I could speak the words that would make you follow.…”

He looked up then at my staggered expression as I tried to absorb his bitter memories. His golden eyes scorched from under his lashes, hypnotic and deadly.

“You would have come,” he promised.

I tried to speak calmly. “Without a doubt.”

The comparisons to a serial killer are no longer hypothetical.


He frowned down at my hands, releasing me from the force of his stare. “And then, as I tried to rearrange my schedule in a pointless attempt to avoid you, you were there—in that close, warm little room, the scent was maddening. I so very nearly took you then. There was only one other frail human there—so easily dealt with.”

I shivered in the warm sun, seeing my memories anew through his eyes, only now grasping the danger. Poor Ms. Cope; I shivered again at how close I’d come to being inadvertently responsible for her death.

No, you are not responsible for what a murderer does to other people. Edward's behavior is beyond inexcusable: his past alone makes him deserving of capital punishment.


“But I resisted. I don’t know how. I forced myself not to wait for you, not to follow you from the school. It was easier outside, when I couldn’t smell you anymore, to think clearly, to make the right decision. I left the others near home—I was too ashamed to tell them how weak I was, they only knew something was very wrong—and then I went straight to Carlisle, at the hospital, to tell him I was leaving.”

I stared in surprise.

“I traded cars with him—he had a full tank of gas and I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t dare to go home, to face Esme. She wouldn’t have let me go without a scene. She would have tried to convince me that it wasn’t necessary…

“By the next morning I was in Alaska.” He sounded ashamed, as if admitting a great cowardice. “I spent two days there, with some old acquaintances… but I was homesick. I hated knowing I’d upset Esme, and the rest of them, my adopted family. In the pure air of the mountains it was hard to believe you were so irresistible. I convinced myself it was weak to run away. I’d dealt with temptation before, not of this magnitude, not even close, but I was strong. Who were you, an insignificant little girl”—he grinned suddenly—“to chase me from the place I wanted to be? So I came back.…” He stared off into space.

I couldn’t speak.

“I took precautions, hunting, feeding more than usual before seeing you again. I was sure that I was strong enough to treat you like any other human. I was arrogant about it.

“It was unquestionably a complication that I couldn’t simply read your thoughts to know what your reaction was to me. I wasn’t used to having to go to such circuitous measures, listening to your words in Jessica’s mind… her mind isn’t very original, and it was annoying to have to stoop to that. And then I couldn’t know if you really meant what you said. It was all extremely irritating.” He frowned at the memory.

Something I brought up in the Handbook for Mortals thread is how basically the final third of the book is done in a quasi-first-third person where the protagonist is recounting what happened while she was unconscious by pulling memories from the people involved. She tried to handwave it by saying they gave her permission to pull the memories, but she immediately talks about wanting to find a way to easily do it without permission.

There seems to be this thing among the Twilight fandom (of which Lani Sarem is a part, which we'll get into later with Jasper) where reading minds, delving into someone's most private thoughts, is perfectly okay. Edward casually invades everyone's privacy as a matter of course, using his ability to pry into their heads as just another tool in his arsenal. He's gotten so used to it that he gets irritated and finds roundabout ways to stalk people when he can't.


“I wanted you to forget my behavior that first day, if possible, so I tried to talk with you like I would with any person. I was eager actually, hoping to decipher some of your thoughts. But you were too interesting, I found myself caught up in your expressions… and every now and then you would stir the air with your hand or your hair, and the scent would stun me again.…

“Of course, then you were nearly crushed to death in front of my eyes. Later I thought of a perfectly good excuse for why I acted at that moment—because if I hadn’t saved you, if your blood had been spilled there in front of me, I don’t think I could have stopped myself from exposing us for what we are. But I only thought of that excuse later. At the time, all I could think was, ‘Not her.’”

He closed his eyes, lost in his agonized confession. I listened, more eager than rational. Common sense told me I should be terrified. Instead, I was relieved to finally understand. And I was filled with compassion for his suffering, even now, as he confessed his craving to take my life.

I finally was able to speak, though my voice was faint. “In the hospital?”

His eyes flashed up to mine. “I was appalled. I couldn’t believe I had put us in danger after all, put myself in your power—you of all people. As if I needed another motive to kill you.” We both flinched as that word slipped out. “But it had the opposite effect,” he continued quickly. “I fought with Rosalie, Emmett, and Jasper when they suggested that now was the time… the worst fight we’ve ever had. Carlisle sided with me, and Alice.” He grimaced when he said her name. I couldn’t imagine why. “Esme told me to do whatever I had to in order to stay.” He shook his head indulgently.

“All that next day I eavesdropped on the minds of everyone you spoke to, shocked that you kept your word. I didn’t understand you at all. But I knew that I couldn’t become more involved with you. I did my very best to stay as far from you as possible. And every day the perfume of your skin, your breath, your hair… it hit me as hard as the very first day.”

Don't forget this one either. The Cullens take their secrecy very seriously for a group of vampires that loves making it really obvious that they're vampires and showing off to everyone. Had Bella breathed a word of what happened to anyone, she would have mysteriously gone to sleep and not woken up from an undiagnosed head injury in the crash. The family that Bella wants to love and call her own later in the series had a gun to her head the whole time, and this won't be the first time they threaten her life.


He met my eyes again, and they were surprisingly tender.

“And for all that,” he continued, “I’d have fared better if I had exposed us all at that first moment, than if now, here—with no witnesses and nothing to stop me—I were to hurt you.”

This is the kind of guy that gives women incentive to carry a knife in their purse.


I was human enough to have to ask. “Why?”

“Isabella.” He pronounced my full name carefully, then playfully ruffled my hair with his free hand. A shock ran through my body at his casual touch. “Bella, I couldn’t live with myself if I ever hurt you. You don’t know how it’s tortured me.” He looked down, ashamed again. “The thought of you, still, white, cold… to never see you blush scarlet again, to never see that flash of intuition in your eyes when you see through my pretenses… it would be unendurable.” He lifted his glorious, agonized eyes to mine. “You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever.”

This might be peak creep.


My head was spinning at the rapid change in direction our conversation had taken. From the cheerful topic of my impending demise, we were suddenly declaring ourselves. He waited, and even though I looked down to study our hands between us, I knew his golden eyes were on me.

“You already know how I feel, of course,” I finally said. “I’m here… which, roughly translated, means I would rather die than stay away from you.” I frowned. “I’m an idiot.”

“You are an idiot,” he agreed with a laugh. Our eyes met, and I laughed, too. We laughed together at the idiocy and sheer impossibility of such a moment.

“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…,” he murmured. I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word.

“What a stupid lamb,” I sighed.

“What a sick, masochistic lion.” He stared into the shadowy forest for a long moment, and I wondered where his thoughts had taken him.

"And so the lion fell in love with the lamb" is an extremely popular phrase among Twilight fans who unironically think this is a great love story, pasting it over glittery Myspace GIFs. They tend to leave out the other two thirds of it.


“Why…?” I began, and then paused, not sure how to continue.

He looked at me and smiled; sunlight glinted off his face, his teeth. “Yes?”

“Tell me why you ran from me before.”

His smile faded. “You know why.”

“No, I mean, exactly what did I do wrong? I’ll have to be on my guard, you see, so I better start learning what I shouldn’t do. This, for example”—I stroked the back of his hand—“seems to be all right.”

We return to the use of abuse tropes being blissfully used by Meyer. Bella feels a need to adjust her own behavior to prevent her boyfriend from harming her.


He smiled again. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Bella. It was my fault.”

“But I want to help, if I can, to not make this harder for you.”

“Well…” He contemplated for a moment. “It was just how close you were. Most humans instinctively shy away from us, are repelled by our alienness.… I wasn’t expecting you to come so close. And the smell of your throat.” He stopped short, looking to see if he’d upset me.

“Okay, then,” I said flippantly, trying to alleviate the suddenly tense atmosphere. I tucked my chin. “No throat exposure.”

It worked; he laughed. “No, really, it was more the surprise than anything else.”

He raised his free hand and placed it gently on the side of my neck. I sat very still, the chill of his touch a natural warning—a warning telling me to be terrified. But there was no feeling of fear in me. There were, however, other feelings.…

“You see,” he said. “Perfectly fine.”

My blood was racing, and I wished I could slow it, sensing that this must make everything so much more difficult—the thudding of my pulse in my veins. Surely he could hear it.

This is just disturbing now.


“The blush on your cheeks is lovely,” he murmured. He gently freed his other hand. My hands fell limply into my lap. Softly he brushed my cheek, then held my face between his marble hands.

“Be very still,” he whispered, as if I wasn’t already frozen.

Slowly, never moving his eyes from mine, he leaned toward me. Then abruptly, but very gently, he rested his cold cheek against the hollow at the base of my throat. I was quite unable to move, even if I’d wanted to. I listened to the sound of his even breathing, watching the sun and wind play in his bronze hair, more human than any other part of him.

With deliberate slowness, his hands slid down the sides of my neck. I shivered, and I heard him catch his breath. But his hands didn’t pause as they softly moved to my shoulders, and then stopped.

His face drifted to the side, his nose skimming across my collarbone. He came to rest with the side of his face pressed tenderly against my chest.

Listening to my heart.

“Ah,” he sighed.

Is this the thrill people seek when they want knife play in bed?


I don’t know how long we sat without moving. It could have been hours. Eventually the throb of my pulse quieted, but he didn’t move or speak again as he held me. I knew at any moment it could be too much, and my life could end—so quickly that I might not even notice. And I couldn’t make myself be afraid. I couldn’t think of anything, except that he was touching me.

And then, too soon, he released me.

His eyes were peaceful.

“It won’t be so hard again,” he said with satisfaction.

“Was that very hard for you?”

“Not nearly as bad as I imagined it would be. And you?”

“No, it wasn’t bad… for me.”

He smiled at my inflection.

“You know what I mean.” I smiled.

I think I get it now how a BDSM fanfic came from this so easily.


“Here.” He took my hand and placed it against his cheek. “Do you feel how warm it is?”

And it was almost warm, his usually icy skin. But I barely noticed, for I was touching his face, something I’d dreamed of constantly since the first day I’d seen him.

“Don’t move,” I whispered.

No one could be still like Edward. He closed his eyes and became as immobile as stone, a carving under my hand.

I moved even more slowly than he had, careful not to make one unexpected move. I caressed his cheek, delicately stroked his eyelid, the purple shadow in the hollow under his eye. I traced the shape of his perfect nose, and then, so carefully, his flawless lips. His lips parted under my hand, and I could feel his cool breath on my fingertips. I wanted to lean in, to inhale the scent of him. So I dropped my hand and leaned away, not wanting to push him too far.

He opened his eyes, and they were hungry. Not in a way to make me fear, but rather to tighten the muscles in the pit of my stomach and send my pulse hammering through my veins again.

“I wish,” he whispered, “I wish you could feel the… complexity… the confusion… I feel. That you could understand.”

I think our serial killer reimagining could use most of his dialogue completely unaltered.


He raised his hand to my hair, then carefully brushed it across my face.

“Tell me,” I breathed.

“I don’t think I can. I’ve told you, on the one hand, the hunger—the thirst—that, deplorable creature that I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent. Though”—he half-smiled—“as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can’t empathize completely.

"You're also not compelled to violently murder everyone around you, which is probably a more apt comparison than drugs here."


“But…” His fingers touched my lips lightly, making me shiver again. “There are other hungers. Hungers I don’t even understand, that are foreign to me.”

“I may understand that better than you think.”

“I’m not used to feeling so human. Is it always like this?”

Edward you were loving 17 when you were turned. Don't tell me you've somehow not been a horny teenage boy for eternity.


“For me?” I paused. “No, never. Never before this.”

He held my hands between his. They felt so feeble in his iron strength.

“I don’t know how to be close to you,” he admitted. “I don’t know if I can.”

I leaned forward very slowly, cautioning him with my eyes. I placed my cheek against his stone chest. I could hear his breath, and nothing else.

“This is enough,” I sighed, closing my eyes.

In a very human gesture, he put his arms around me and pressed his face against my hair.

“You’re better at this than you give yourself credit for,” I noted.

“I have human instincts—they may be buried deep, but they’re there.”

We sat like that for another immeasurable moment; I wondered if he could be as unwilling to move as I was. But I could see the light was fading, the shadows of the forest beginning to touch us, and I sighed.

“You have to go.”

“I thought you couldn’t read my mind.”

“It’s getting clearer.” I could hear a smile in his voice.

He took my shoulders and I looked into his face.

“Can I show you something?” he asked, sudden excitement flaring in his eyes.

“Show me what?”

“I’ll show you how I travel in the forest.” He saw my expression. “Don’t worry, you’ll be very safe, and we’ll get to your truck much faster.” His mouth twitched up into that crooked smile so beautiful my heart nearly stopped.

“Will you turn into a bat?” I asked warily.

You've already learned that virtually every vampire myth is false. Don't be this loving dumb.


He laughed, louder than I’d ever heard. “Like I haven’t heard that one before!”

“Right, I’m sure you get that all the time.”

Who the hell would you have heard it from, Edward? The only humans who would have known you were a vampire got killed!


“Come on, little coward, climb on my back.”

I waited to see if he was kidding, but, apparently, he meant it. He smiled as he read my hesitation, and reached for me. My heart reacted; even though he couldn’t hear my thoughts, my pulse always gave me away. He then proceeded to sling me onto his back, with very little effort on my part, besides, when in place, clamping my legs and arms so tightly around him that it would choke a normal person. It was like clinging to a stone.

“I’m a bit heavier than your average backpack,” I warned.

Bella it's been five minutes since you saw his super strength last.


“Hah!” he snorted. I could almost hear his eyes rolling. I’d never seen him in such high spirits before.

He startled me, suddenly grabbing my hand, pressing my palm to his face, and inhaling deeply.

“Easier all the time,” he muttered.

And then he was running.

If I’d ever feared death before in his presence, it was nothing compared to how I felt now.

He streaked through the dark, thick underbrush of the forest like a bullet, like a ghost. There was no sound, no evidence that his feet touched the earth. His breathing never changed, never indicated any effort. But the trees flew by at deadly speeds, always missing us by inches.

I was too terrified to close my eyes, though the cool forest air whipped against my face and burned them. I felt as if I were stupidly sticking my head out the window of an airplane in flight. And, for the first time in my life, I felt the dizzy faintness of motion sickness.

Then it was over. We’d hiked hours this morning to reach Edward’s meadow, and now, in a matter of minutes, we were back to the truck.

The movie moved this to after she meets the Cullens at their home for the first time. The sweeping vistas really show how unbelievably gray and desaturated the first movie was; the sequels decide to use more natural colors and come off better for it.


“Exhilarating, isn’t it?” His voice was high, excited.

He stood motionless, waiting for me to climb down. I tried, but my muscles wouldn’t respond. My arms and legs stayed locked around him while my head spun uncomfortably.

“Bella?” he asked, anxious now.

“I think I need to lie down,” I gasped.

“Oh, sorry.” He waited for me, but I still couldn’t move.

“I think I need help,” I admitted.

He laughed quietly, and gently unloosened my stranglehold on his neck. There was no resisting the iron strength of his hands. Then he pulled me around to face him, cradling me in his arms like a small child. He held me for a moment, then carefully placed me on the springy ferns.

“How do you feel?” he asked. I couldn’t be sure how I felt when my head was spinning so crazily.

“Dizzy, I think.”

“Put your head between your knees.”

I tried that, and it helped a little. I breathed in and out slowly, keeping my head very still. I felt him sitting beside me. The moments passed, and eventually I found that I could raise my head. There was a hollow ringing sound in my ears.

“I guess that wasn’t the best idea,” he mused.

I'd be more concerned about the g-forces Bella experienced on that. On the other hand, this is legitimately the only part of the book that's been legitimately amusing so far.


I tried to be positive, but my voice was weak. “No, it was very interesting.”

“Hah! You’re as white as a ghost—no, you’re as white as me!”

“I think I should have closed my eyes.”

“Remember that next time.”

“Next time!” I groaned.

He laughed, his mood still radiant.

“Show-off,” I muttered.

“Open your eyes, Bella,” he said quietly.

And he was right there, his face so close to mine. His beauty stunned my mind—it was too much, an excess I couldn’t grow accustomed to.

“I was thinking, while I was running…” He paused.

“About not hitting the trees, I hope.”

“Silly Bella,” he chuckled. “Running is second nature to me, it’s not something I have to think about.”

“Show-off,” I muttered again.

He smiled.

“No,” he continued, “I was thinking there was something I wanted to try.” And he took my face in his hands again.

I couldn’t breathe.

He hesitated—not in the normal way, the human way. Not the way a man might hesitate before he kissed a woman, to gauge her reaction, to see how he would be received. Perhaps he would hesitate to prolong the moment, that ideal moment of anticipation, sometimes better than the kiss itself.

Or perhaps he's trying to figure out how to do this without ripping your lips off.


Edward hesitated to test himself, to see if this was safe, to make sure he was still in control of his need.

And then his cold, marble lips pressed very softly against mine.

What neither of us was prepared for was my response.

Blood boiled under my skin, burned in my lips. My breath came in a wild gasp. My fingers knotted in his hair, clutching him to me. My lips parted as I breathed in his heady scent.

Immediately I felt him turn to unresponsive stone beneath my lips. His hands gently, but with irresistible force, pushed my face back. I opened my eyes and saw his guarded expression.

“Oops,” I breathed.

“That’s an understatement.”

Vampire biology: their skin feels exactly like cold stone to humans. Their tissues are extremely hard (the movies show dismembered vampires basically shattering like ice) and they have no blood circulation. Kissing Edward really is like making out with an old Greek statue at the museum.


His eyes were wild, his jaw clenched in acute restraint, yet he didn’t lapse from his perfect articulation. He held my face just inches from his. He dazzled my eyes.

“Should I…?” I tried to disengage myself, to give him some room.

His hands refused to let me move so much as an inch.

“No, it’s tolerable. Wait for a moment, please.” His voice was polite, controlled.

I kept my eyes on his, watched as the excitement in them faded and gentled.

Then he smiled a surprisingly impish grin.

“There,” he said, obviously pleased with himself.

“Tolerable?” I asked.

He laughed aloud. “I’m stronger than I thought. It’s nice to know.”

“I wish I could say the same. I’m sorry.”

“You are only human, after all.”

“Thanks so much,” I said, my voice acerbic.

He was on his feet in one of his lithe, almost invisibly quick movements. He held out his hand to me, an unexpected gesture. I was so used to our standard of careful non-contact. I took his icy hand, needing the support more than I thought. My balance had not yet returned.

“Are you still faint from the run? Or was it my kissing expertise?” How lighthearted, how human he seemed as he laughed now, his seraphic face untroubled. He was a different Edward than the one I had known. And I felt all the more besotted by him. It would cause me physical pain to be separated from him now.

Oh, you have no idea.


“I can’t be sure, I’m still woozy,” I managed to respond. “I think it’s some of both, though.”

“Maybe you should let me drive.”

“Are you insane?” I protested.

“I can drive better than you on your best day,” he teased. “You have much slower reflexes.”

“I’m sure that’s true, but I don’t think my nerves, or my truck, could take it.”

“Some trust, please, Bella.”

My hand was in my pocket, curled tightly around the key. I pursed my lips, deliberated, then shook my head with a tight grin.

“Nope. Not a chance.”

He raised his eyebrows in disbelief.

I started to step around him, heading for the driver’s side. He might have let me pass if I hadn’t wobbled slightly. Then again, he might not have. His arm created an inescapable snare around my waist.

“Bella, I’ve already expended a great deal of personal effort at this point to keep you alive. I’m not about to let you behind the wheel of a vehicle when you can’t even walk straight. Besides, friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” he quoted with a chuckle. I could smell the unbearably sweet fragrance coming off his chest.

“Drunk?” I objected.

“You’re intoxicated by my very presence.” He was grinning that playful smirk again.

He has a point. Bella was barely able to drive them there without crashing because of how distracted she was. She might actually kill herself trying to drive now.


“I can’t argue with that,” I sighed. There was no way around it; I couldn’t resist him in anything. I held the key high and dropped it, watching his hand flash like lightning to catch it soundlessly. “Take it easy—my truck is a senior citizen.”

What did I say before about their power dynamic?


“Very sensible,” he approved.

“And are you not affected at all?” I asked, irked. “By my presence?”

Again his mobile features transformed, his expression became soft, warm. He didn’t answer at first; he simply bent his face to mine, and brushed his lips slowly along my jaw, from my ear to my chin, back and forth. I trembled.

“Regardless,” he finally murmured, “I have better reflexes.”

Nov 29, 2004

Storm On The Sea Of Galilee, it's called, and he's in it. Old Rembrandt, he's in the painting. He's in there, right in the middle of the storm, looking straight at you. But... you can't see him. And the reason you can't see him is because the painting has been stolen.


I should point out before we meet them that Carlisle is the only member of the Cullen family to never kill a human being. All of them, Edward especially, have a high enough body count to be considered mass murderers.

Rose only killed 7 people in her life, and that was all revenge-motivated and she's never once drunk human blood. Her record is pretty good for a vampire.

Which makes all the whinging about newborns being unable to control their thirst in the later books pretty stupid. There's two in this clan alone that can point out that that's wrong.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 14: Mind Over Matter

Amazingly, we're past the halfway point of the book already! It's taken us 54% of the way through to get the full reveal of Edward's powers, and we still haven't heard his or any of his family's backstory.


He could drive well, when he kept the speed reasonable, I had to admit. Like so many things, it seemed to be effortless to him. He barely looked at the road, yet the tires never deviated so much as a centimeter from the center of the lane. He drove one-handed, holding my hand on the seat. Sometimes he gazed into the setting sun, sometimes he glanced at me—my face, my hair blowing out the open window, our hands twined together.

He had turned the radio to an oldies station, and he sang along with a song I’d never heard. He knew every line.

“You like fifties music?” I asked.

“Music in the fifties was good. Much better than the sixties, or the seventies, ugh!” He shuddered. “The eighties were bearable.”

Edward is boring as hell.


“Are you ever going to tell me how old you are?” I asked, tentative, not wanting to upset his buoyant humor.

“Does it matter much?” His smile, to my relief, remained unclouded.

“No, but I still wonder…” I grimaced. “There’s nothing like an unsolved mystery to keep you up at night.”

“I wonder if it will upset you,” he reflected to himself.

More than you demonstrating your vampire deadliness and talking about how hard it is not to kill her on impulse all the time?


He gazed into the sun; the minutes passed.

“Try me,” I finally said.

He sighed, and then looked into my eyes, seeming to forget the road completely for a time. Whatever he saw there must have encouraged him. He looked into the sun—the light of the setting orb glittered off his skin in ruby-tinged sparkles—and spoke.

“I was born in Chicago in 1901.” He paused and glanced at me from the corner of his eyes. My face was carefully unsurprised, patient for the rest. He smiled a tiny smile and continued. “Carlisle found me in a hospital in the summer of 1918. I was seventeen, and dying of the Spanish influenza.”

He heard my intake of breath, though it was barely audible to my own ears. He looked down into my eyes again.

“I don’t remember it well—it was a very long time ago, and human memories fade.” He was lost in his thoughts for a short time before he went on. “I do remember how it felt, when Carlisle saved me. It’s not an easy thing, not something you could forget.”

“Your parents?”

“They had already died from the disease. I was alone. That was why he chose me. In all the chaos of the epidemic, no one would ever realize I was gone.”

“How did he… save you?”

A few seconds passed before he answered. He seemed to choose his words carefully.

“It was difficult. Not many of us have the restraint necessary to accomplish it. But Carlisle has always been the most humane, the most compassionate of us.… I don’t think you could find his equal throughout all of history.” He paused. “For me, it was merely very, very painful.”

I think every father or father figure in these books is a decent person. It's frustrating because Meyer clearly can write protagonists who aren't sociopaths, but chooses not to.


I could tell from the set of his lips, he would say no more on this subject. I suppressed my curiosity, though it was far from idle. There were many things I needed to think through on this particular issue, things that were only beginning to occur to me. No doubt his quick mind had already comprehended every aspect that eluded me.

His soft voice interrupted my thoughts. “He acted from loneliness. That’s usually the reason behind the choice. I was the first in Carlisle’s family, though he found Esme soon after. She fell from a cliff. They brought her straight to the hospital morgue, though, somehow, her heart was still beating.”

“So you must be dying, then, to become…” We never said the word, and I couldn’t frame it now.

“No, that’s just Carlisle. He would never do that to someone who had another choice.” The respect in his voice was profound whenever he spoke of his father figure. “It is easier he says, though,” he continued, “if the blood is weak.” He looked at the now-dark road, and I could feel the subject closing again.

“And Emmett and Rosalie?”

“Carlisle brought Rosalie to our family next. I didn’t realize till much later that he was hoping she would be to me what Esme was to him—he was careful with his thoughts around me.” He rolled his eyes. “But she was never more than a sister. It was only two years later that she found Emmett. She was hunting—we were in Appalachia at the time—and found a bear about to finish him off. She carried him back to Carlisle, more than a hundred miles, afraid she wouldn’t be able to do it herself. I’m only beginning to guess how difficult that journey was for her.” He threw a pointed glance in my direction, and raised our hands, still folded together, to brush my cheek with the back of his hand.

“But she made it,” I encouraged, looking away from the unbearable beauty of his eyes.

The Cullen family in general is infinitely more interesting than the Edward and Bella romance. I'd much rather have had books about their exploits throughout history instead of focusing on the whiny teenager of the coven.


“Yes,” he murmured. “She saw something in his face that made her strong enough. And they’ve been together ever since. Sometimes they live separately from us, as a married couple. But the younger we pretend to be, the longer we can stay in any given place. Forks seemed perfect, so we all enrolled in high school.” He laughed. “I suppose we’ll have to go to their wedding in a few years, again.”

See? How could you not like that more than this guy?


“Alice and Jasper?”

“Alice and Jasper are two very rare creatures. They both developed a conscience, as we refer to it, with no outside guidance. Jasper belonged to another… family, a very different kind of family. He became depressed, and he wandered on his own. Alice found him. Like me, she has certain gifts above and beyond the norm for our kind.”

“Really?” I interrupted, fascinated. “But you said you were the only one who could hear people’s thoughts.”

“That’s true. She knows other things. She sees things—things that might happen, things that are coming. But it’s very subjective. The future isn’t set in stone. Things change.”

His jaw set when he said that, and his eyes darted to my face and away so quickly that I wasn’t sure if I only imagined it.

This is what Midnight Sun went into detail on, with Alice using her visions of possible timelines to guide their decision with Bella.


“What kinds of things does she see?”

“She saw Jasper and knew that he was looking for her before he knew it himself. She saw Carlisle and our family, and they came together to find us. She’s most sensitive to non-humans. She always sees, for example, when another group of our kind is coming near. And any threat they may pose.”

“Are there a lot of… your kind?” I was surprised. How many of them could walk among us undetected?

“No, not many. But most won’t settle in any one place. Only those like us, who’ve given up hunting you people”—a sly glance in my direction—“can live together with humans for any length of time. We’ve only found one other family like ours, in a small village in Alaska. We lived together for a time, but there were so many of us that we became too noticeable. Those of us who live… differently tend to band together.”

“And the others?”

“Nomads, for the most part. We’ve all lived that way at times. It gets tedious, like anything else. But we run across the others now and then, because most of us prefer the North.”

“Why is that?”

We were parked in front of my house now, and he’d turned off the truck. It was very quiet and dark; there was no moon. The porch light was off so I knew my father wasn’t home yet.

“Did you have your eyes open this afternoon?” he teased. “Do you think I could walk down the street in the sunlight without causing traffic accidents? There’s a reason why we chose the Olympic Peninsula, one of the most sunless places in the world. It’s nice to be able to go outside in the day. You wouldn’t believe how tired you can get of nighttime in eighty-odd years.”

The Olympic Peninsula is not "one of the most sunless places in the world." Even the Google Street View picture I took of the real high school in Forks was taken on a sunny day! It gets a lot of rain, sure, but not enough that everyone there is a pale beast fearful of the sky orb.

It also brings into question exactly how much light is required, or if it's only sunlight. It's implied that the sparkling is a physical aspect of his indestructible skin's cellular structure, rather than anything supernatural. Wouldn't his skin have at least a faint glimmer at all times? Wouldn't he be sparkling all over high school under the fluorescent lights?


“So that’s where the legends came from?”


“And Alice came from another family, like Jasper?”

“No, and that is a mystery. Alice doesn’t remember her human life at all. And she doesn’t know who created her. She awoke alone. Whoever made her walked away, and none of us understand why, or how, he could. If she hadn’t had that other sense, if she hadn’t seen Jasper and Carlisle and known that she would someday become one of us, she probably would have turned into a total savage.”

Notice how Edward is the only one without a cool backstory? You'll hear about the others later but I promise they're all way more intriguing and awesome than "I was a teenager who died of the Spanish Flu like 100 million other people."


There was so much to think through, so much I still wanted to ask. But, to my great embarrassment, my stomach growled. I’d been so intrigued, I hadn’t even noticed I was hungry. I realized now that I was ravenous.

“I’m sorry, I’m keeping you from dinner.”

“I’m fine, really.”

“I’ve never spent much time around anyone who eats food. I forget.”

“I want to stay with you.” It was easier to say in the darkness, knowing as I spoke how my voice would betray me, my hopeless addiction to him.

“Can’t I come in?” he asked.

“Would you like to?” I couldn’t picture it, this godlike creature sitting in my father’s shabby kitchen chair.

“Yes, if it’s all right.” I heard the door close quietly, and almost simultaneously he was outside my door, opening it for me.

“Very human,” I complimented him.

“It’s definitely resurfacing.”

He walked beside me in the night, so quietly I had to peek at him constantly to be sure he was still there. In the darkness he looked much more normal. Still pale, still dreamlike in his beauty, but no longer the fantastic sparkling creature of our sunlit afternoon.

He reached the door ahead of me and opened it for me. I paused halfway through the frame.

“The door was unlocked?”

“No, I used the key from under the eave.”

I stepped inside, flicked on the porch light, and turned to look at him with my eyebrows raised. I was sure I’d never used that key in front of him.

“I was curious about you.”

“You spied on me?” But somehow I couldn’t infuse my voice with the proper outrage. I was flattered.

You're not supposed to be!


He was unrepentant. “What else is there to do at night?”

Pick up a new hobby? You've got loving eternity to do it!


I let it go for the moment and went down the hall to the kitchen. He was there before me, needing no guide. He sat in the very chair I’d tried to picture him in. His beauty lit up the kitchen. It was a moment before I could look away.

I concentrated on getting my dinner, taking last night’s lasagna from the fridge, placing a square on a plate, heating it in the microwave. It revolved, filling the kitchen with the smell of tomatoes and oregano. I didn’t take my eyes from the plate of food as I spoke.

“How often?” I asked casually.

“Hmmm?” He sounded as if I had pulled him from some other train of thought.

I still didn’t turn around. “How often did you come here?”

“I come here almost every night.”

I whirled, stunned. “Why?”

“You’re interesting when you sleep.” He spoke matter-of-factly. “You talk.”

“No!” I gasped, heat flooding my face all the way to my hairline. I gripped the kitchen counter for support. I knew I talked in my sleep, of course; my mother teased me about it. I hadn’t thought it was something I needed to worry about here, though.

You're more upset about talking in your sleep than the vampire stalking you nightly?


His expression shifted instantly to chagrin. “Are you very angry with me?”

“That depends!” I felt and sounded like I’d had the breath knocked out of me.

He waited.

“On?” he urged.

“What you heard!” I wailed.

That's the wrong thing to be angry about!


Instantly, silently, he was at my side, taking my hands carefully in his.

“Don’t be upset!” he pleaded. He dropped his face to the level of my eyes, holding my gaze. I was embarrassed. I tried to look away.

“You miss your mother,” he whispered. “You worry about her. And when it rains, the sound makes you restless. You used to talk about home a lot, but it’s less often now. Once you said, ‘It’s too green.’” He laughed softly, hoping, I could see, not to offend me further.

“Anything else?” I demanded. He knew what I was getting at.

“You did say my name,” he admitted. I sighed in defeat.

“A lot?”

“How much do you mean by ‘a lot,’ exactly?”

“Oh no!” I hung my head.

He pulled me against his chest, softly, naturally.

“Don’t be self-conscious,” he whispered in my ear. “If I could dream at all, it would be about you. And I’m not ashamed of it.”

Then we both heard the sound of tires on the brick driveway, saw the headlights flash through the front windows, down the hall to us. I stiffened in his arms.

“Should your father know I’m here?” he asked.

“I’m not sure…” I tried to think it through quickly.

“Another time then…”

And I was alone.

“Edward!” I hissed.

I heard a ghostly chuckle, then nothing else.


My father’s key turned in the door.

“Bella?” he called. It had bothered me before; who else would it be? Suddenly he didn’t seem so far off base.

“In here.” I hoped he couldn’t hear the hysterical edge to my voice. I grabbed my dinner from the microwave and sat at the table as he walked in. His footsteps sounded so noisy after my day with Edward.

“Can you get me some of that? I’m bushed.” He stepped on the heels of his boots to take them off, holding the back of Edward’s chair for support.

I took my food with me, scarfing it down as I got his dinner. It burned my tongue. I filled two glasses with milk while his lasagna was heating, and gulped mine to put out the fire. As I set the glass down, I noticed the milk trembling and realized my hand was shaking. Charlie sat in the chair, and the contrast between him and its former occupant was comical.

There's actually a decent person there now!


“Thanks,” he said as I placed his food on the table.

“How was your day?” I asked. The words were rushed; I was dying to escape to my room.

“Good. The fish were biting… how about you? Did you get everything done that you wanted to?”

“Not really—it was too nice out to stay indoors.” I took another big bite.

“It was a nice day,” he agreed. What an understatement, I thought to myself.

Finished with the last bite of lasagna, I lifted my glass and chugged the remains of my milk.

Charlie surprised me by being observant. “In a hurry?”

“Yeah, I’m tired. I’m going to bed early.”

“You look kinda keyed up,” he noted. Why, oh why, did this have to be his night to pay attention?

“Do I?” was all I could manage in response. I quickly scrubbed my dishes clean in the sink, and placed them upside down on a dish towel to dry.

“It’s Saturday,” he mused.

I didn’t respond.

“No plans tonight?” he asked suddenly.

“No, Dad, I just want to get some sleep.”

“None of the boys in town your type, eh?” He was suspicious, but trying to play it cool.

“No, none of the boys have caught my eye yet.” I was careful not to over-emphasize the word boys in my quest to be truthful with Charlie.

This was all just a build-up to Bella being gay.


“I thought maybe that Mike Newton… you said he was friendly.”

“He’s just a friend, Dad.”

“Well, you’re too good for them all, anyway. Wait till you get to college to start looking.” Every father’s dream, that his daughter will be out of the house before the hormones kick in.

She's actually the worst one there!


“Sounds like a good idea to me,” I agreed as I headed up the stairs.

“’Night, honey,” he called after me. No doubt he would be listening carefully all evening, waiting for me to try to sneak out.

“See you in the morning, Dad.” See you creeping into my room tonight at midnight to check on me.

Oh so now it's not okay?


I worked to make my tread sound slow and tired as I walked up the stairs to my room. I shut the door loud enough for him to hear, and then sprinted on my tiptoes to the window. I threw it open and leaned out into the night. My eyes scanned the darkness, the impenetrable shadows of the trees.

“Edward?” I whispered, feeling completely idiotic.

The quiet, laughing response came from behind me. “Yes?”

I whirled, one hand flying to my throat in surprise.

He lay, smiling hugely, across my bed, his hands behind his head, his feet dangling off the end, the picture of ease.

“Oh!” I breathed, sinking unsteadily to the floor.

“I’m sorry.” He pressed his lips together, trying to hide his amusement.

“Just give me a minute to restart my heart.”

I admit that if I had his powers, I would be doing that all the time to people. I already walk really quietly in the office and scare people by accident regularly.


He sat up slowly, so as not to startle me again. Then he leaned forward and reached out with his long arms to pick me up, gripping the tops of my arms like I was a toddler. He sat me on the bed beside him.

“Why don’t you sit with me,” he suggested, putting a cold hand on mine. “How’s the heart?”

“You tell me—I’m sure you hear it better than I do.” I felt his quiet laughter shake the bed.

How hard is he laughing that it's quiet but also shaking the bed? Is it made of matchsticks?


We sat there for a moment in silence, both listening to my heartbeat slow. I thought about having Edward in my room, with my father in the house.

It would certainly be the fastest sex you've ever had!


“Can I have a minute to be human?” I asked.

“Certainly.” He gestured with one hand that I should proceed.

“Stay,” I said, trying to look severe.

“Yes, ma’am.” And he made a show of becoming a statue on the edge of my bed.

I hopped up, grabbing my pajamas from off the floor, my bag of toiletries off the desk. I left the light off and slipped out, closing the door.

I could hear the sound from the TV rising up the stairs. I banged the bathroom door loudly, so Charlie wouldn’t come up to bother me.

I meant to hurry. I brushed my teeth fiercely, trying to be thorough and speedy, removing all traces of lasagna. But the hot water of the shower couldn’t be rushed. It unknotted the muscles in my back, calmed my pulse. The familiar smell of my shampoo made me feel like I might be the same person I had been this morning. I tried not to think of Edward, sitting in my room, waiting, because then I had to start all over with the calming process. Finally, I couldn’t delay anymore. I shut off the water, toweling hastily, rushing again. I pulled on my holey t-shirt and gray sweatpants. Too late to regret not packing the Victoria’s Secret silk pajamas my mother got me two birthdays ago, which still had the tags on them in a drawer somewhere back home.

I rubbed the towel through my hair again, and then yanked the brush through it quickly. I threw the towel in the hamper, flung my brush and toothpaste into my bag. Then I dashed down the stairs so Charlie could see that I was in my pajamas, with wet hair.

“’Night, Dad.”

“’Night, Bella.” He did look startled by my appearance. Maybe that would keep him from checking on me tonight.

I took the stairs two at a time, trying to be quiet, and flew into my room, closing the door tightly behind me.



Edward hadn’t moved a fraction of an inch, a carving of Adonis perched on my faded quilt. I smiled, and his lips twitched, the statue coming to life.

His eyes appraised me, taking in the damp hair, the tattered shirt. He raised one eyebrow. “Nice.”

I grimaced.

“No, it looks good on you.”

“Thanks,” I whispered. I went back to his side, sitting cross-legged beside him. I looked at the lines in the wooden floor.

“What was all that for?”

“Charlie thinks I’m sneaking out.”

“Oh.” He contemplated that. “Why?” As if he couldn’t know Charlie’s mind much more clearly than I could guess.

Yeah that's a good point. Edward habitually reads everyone's minds around him. Why not now?


“Apparently, I look a little overexcited.”

He lifted my chin, examining my face.

“You look very warm, actually.” He bent his face slowly to mine, laying his cool cheek against my skin. I held perfectly still.

“Mmmmmm…,” he breathed.

"Needs oregano...."


It was very difficult, while he was touching me, to frame a coherent question. It took me a minute of scattered concentration to begin.

“It seems to be… much easier for you, now, to be close to me.”

“Does it seem that way to you?” he murmured, his nose gliding to the corner of my jaw. I felt his hand, lighter than a moth’s wing, brushing my damp hair back, so that his lips could touch the hollow beneath my ear.

“Much, much easier,” I said, trying to exhale.


“So I was wondering…,” I began again, but his fingers were slowly tracing my collarbone, and I lost my train of thought.

“Yes?” he breathed.

“Why is that,” my voice shook, embarrassing me, “do you think?”

I felt the tremor of his breath on my neck as he laughed. “Mind over matter.”

I pulled back; as I moved, he froze—and I could no longer hear the sound of his breathing.

We stared cautiously at each other for a moment, and then, as his clenched jaw gradually relaxed, his expression became puzzled.

“Did I do something wrong?”

“No—the opposite. You’re driving me crazy,” I explained.

He considered that briefly, and when he spoke, he sounded pleased. “Really?” A triumphant smile slowly lit his face.

“Would you like a round of applause?” I asked sarcastically.

He grinned.

“I’m just pleasantly surprised,” he clarified. “In the last hundred years or so,” his voice was teasing, “I never imagined anything like this. I didn’t believe I would ever find someone I wanted to be with… in another way than my brothers and sisters. And then to find, even though it’s all new to me, that I’m good at it… at being with you…”

Didn't we just dedicate most of a chapter to this conversation?


“You’re good at everything,” I pointed out.

He shrugged, allowing that, and we both laughed in whispers.

“But how can it be so easy now?” I pressed. “This afternoon…”

“It’s not easy,” he sighed. “But this afternoon, I was still… undecided. I am sorry about that, it was unforgivable for me to behave so.” “Not unforgivable,” I disagreed. “Thank you.” He smiled. “You see,” he continued, looking down now, “I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough.…” He picked up one of my hands and pressed it lightly to his face. “And while there was still that possibility that I might be… overcome”—he breathed in the scent at my wrist—“I was… susceptible. Until I made up my mind that I was strong enough, that there was no possibility at all that I would… that I ever could…”

I’d never seen him struggle so hard for words. It was so… human.

“So there’s no possibility now?”

“Mind over matter,” he repeated, smiling, his teeth bright even in the darkness.

“Wow, that was easy,” I said.

Yes, this is the exact same conversation we've been having for the past dozen pages.


He threw back his head and laughed, quietly as a whisper, but still exuberantly.

What exactly would that look or sound like?


“Easy for you!” he amended, touching my nose with his fingertip.

And then his face was abruptly serious.

I'm picturing him like Hexadecimal from ReBoot where his face just instantly switches between expressions with every sentence.


“I’m trying,” he whispered, his voice pained. “If it gets to be… too much, I’m fairly sure I’ll be able to leave.”

I scowled. I didn’t like the talk of leaving.

“And it will be harder tomorrow,” he continued. “I’ve had the scent of you in my head all day, and I’ve grown amazingly desensitized. If I’m away from you for any length of time, I’ll have to start over again. Not quite from scratch, though, I think.”

“Don’t go away, then,” I responded, unable to hide the longing in my voice.

“That suits me,” he replied, his face relaxing into a gentle smile. “Bring on the shackles—I’m your prisoner.”

No no that's our next series.


But his long hands formed manacles around my wrists as he spoke. He laughed his quiet, musical laugh. He’d laughed more tonight than I’d ever heard in all the time I’d spent with him.

“You seem more… optimistic than usual,” I observed. “I haven’t seen you like this before.”

“Isn’t it supposed to be like this?” He smiled. “The glory of first love, and all that. It’s incredible, isn’t it, the difference between reading about something, seeing it in the pictures, and experiencing it?”

“Very different,” I agreed. “More forceful than I’d imagined.”

“For example”—his words flowed swiftly now, I had to concentrate to catch it all—“the emotion of jealousy. I’ve read about it a hundred thousand times, seen actors portray it in a thousand different plays and movies. I believed I understood that one pretty clearly. But it shocked me.…” He grimaced. “Do you remember the day that Mike asked you to the dance?”

I nodded, though I remembered that day for a different reason. “The day you started talking to me again.”

“I was surprised by the flare of resentment, almost fury, that I felt—I didn’t recognize what it was at first. I was even more aggravated than usual that I couldn’t know what you were thinking, why you refused him. Was it simply for your friend’s sake? Was there someone else? I knew I had no right to care either way. I tried not to care.

“And then the line started forming,” he chuckled. I scowled in the darkness.

What kind of life did Edward live as a human that he never once experienced love or jealousy? I have no idea, because Meyer never writes about it! Every other member of his family gets a detailed backstory leading up to their transformation into a vampire, but Edward's backstory is literally just "He was a teenager dying of the Spanish Flu." Nothing else.


“I waited, unreasonably anxious to hear what you would say to them, to watch your expressions. I couldn’t deny the relief I felt, watching the annoyance on your face. But I couldn’t be sure.

“That was the first night I came here. I wrestled all night, while watching you sleep, with the chasm between what I knew was right, moral, ethical, and what I wanted. I knew that if I continued to ignore you as I should, or if I left for a few years, till you were gone, that someday you would say yes to Mike, or someone like him. It made me angry.

“And then,” he whispered, “as you were sleeping, you said my name. You spoke so clearly, at first I thought you’d woken. But you rolled over restlessly and mumbled my name once more, and sighed. The feeling that coursed through me then was unnerving, staggering. And I knew I couldn’t ignore you any longer.” He was silent for a moment, probably listening to the suddenly uneven pounding of my heart.

“But jealousy… it’s a strange thing. So much more powerful than I would have thought. And irrational! Just now, when Charlie asked you about that vile Mike Newton…” He shook his head angrily.

Raise your hand if you think Mike has been even a fraction as vile as Edward and Bella.


“I should have known you’d be listening,” I groaned.

“Of course.”

That made you feel jealous, though, really?”

“I’m new at this; you’re resurrecting the human in me, and everything feels stronger because it’s fresh.”

“But honestly,” I teased, “for that to bother you, after I have to hear that Rosalie—Rosalie, the incarnation of pure beauty, Rosalie—was meant for you. Emmett or no Emmett, how can I compete with that?”

“There’s no competition.” His teeth gleamed. He drew my trapped hands around his back, holding me to his chest. I kept as still as I could, even breathing with caution.

“I know there’s no competition,” I mumbled into his cold skin. “That’s the problem.”

“Of course Rosalie is beautiful in her way, but even if she wasn’t like a sister to me, even if Emmett didn’t belong with her, she could never have one tenth, no, one hundredth of the attraction you hold for me.” He was serious now, thoughtful. “For almost ninety years I’ve walked among my kind, and yours… all the time thinking I was complete in myself, not realizing what I was seeking. And not finding anything, because you weren’t alive yet."

Yeah, there really isn't any canon explanation for why Bella is so attractive to Edward. She just is. It's "meant to be."


“It hardly seems fair,” I whispered, my face still resting on his chest, listening to his breath come and go. “I haven’t had to wait at all. Why should I get off so easily?”

“You’re right,” he agreed with amusement. “I should make this harder for you, definitely.” He freed one of his hands, released my wrist, only to gather it carefully into his other hand. He stroked my wet hair softly, from the top of my head to my waist. “You only have to risk your life every second you spend with me, that’s surely not much. You only have to turn your back on nature, on humanity… what’s that worth?”

“Very little—I don’t feel deprived of anything.”

“Not yet.” And his voice was abruptly full of ancient grief.

I tried to pull back, to look in his face, but his hand locked my wrists in an unbreakable hold.

“What—” I started to ask, when his body became alert. I froze, but he suddenly released my hands, and disappeared. I narrowly avoided falling on my face.

“Lie down!” he hissed. I couldn’t tell where he spoke from in the darkness.

I rolled under my quilt, balling up on my side, the way I usually slept. I heard the door crack open, as Charlie peeked in to make sure I was where I was supposed to be. I breathed evenly, exaggerating the movement.

A long minute passed. I listened, not sure if I’d heard the door close. Then Edward’s cool arm was around me, under the covers, his lips at my ear.

“You are a terrible actress—I’d say that career path is out for you.”


“Darn it,” I muttered. My heart was crashing in my chest.

He hummed a melody I didn’t recognize; it sounded like a lullaby.

He paused. “Should I sing you to sleep?”

“Right,” I laughed. “Like I could sleep with you here!”

“You do it all the time,” he reminded me.

“But I didn’t know you were here,” I replied icily.

“So if you don’t want to sleep…,” he suggested, ignoring my tone. My breath caught.

“If I don’t want to sleep…?”

He chuckled. “What do you want to do then?”

I couldn’t answer at first.

“I’m not sure,” I finally said.

“Tell me when you decide.” I could feel his cool breath on my neck, feel his nose sliding along my jaw, inhaling.

“I thought you were desensitized.”

“Just because I’m resisting the wine doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the bouquet,” he whispered. “You have a very floral smell, like lavender… or freesia,” he noted. “It’s mouthwatering.”

“Yeah, it’s an off day when I don’t get somebody telling me how edible I smell.”

This book really needs to stop doing that thing where I make a joke exaggerating someone's weird characteristics and then they just do it.


He chuckled, and then sighed.

“I’ve decided what I want to do,” I told him. “I want to hear more about you.”

“Ask me anything.”

I sifted through my questions for the most vital. “Why do you do it?” I said. “I still don’t understand how you can work so hard to resist what you… are. Please don’t misunderstand, of course I’m glad that you do. I just don’t see why you would bother in the first place.”

He hesitated before answering. “That’s a good question, and you are not the first one to ask it. The others—the majority of our kind who are quite content with our lot—they, too, wonder at how we live. But you see, just because we’ve been… dealt a certain hand… it doesn’t mean that we can’t choose to rise above—to conquer the boundaries of a destiny that none of us wanted. To try to retain whatever essential humanity we can.”

I lay unmoving, locked in awed silence.

“Did you fall asleep?” he whispered after a few minutes.


“Is that all you were curious about?”

I rolled my eyes. “Not quite.”

“What else do you want to know?”

“Why can you read minds—why only you? And Alice, seeing the future… why does that happen?”

I felt him shrug in the darkness. “We don’t really know. Carlisle has a theory… he believes that we all bring something of our strongest human traits with us into the next life, where they are intensified—like our minds, and our senses. He thinks that I must have already been very sensitive to the thoughts of those around me. And that Alice had some precognition, wherever she was.”

“What did he bring into the next life, and the others?”

“Carlisle brought his compassion. Esme brought her ability to love passionately. Emmett brought his strength, Rosalie her… tenacity. Or you could call it pigheadedness,” he chuckled. “Jasper is very interesting. He was quite charismatic in his first life, able to influence those around him to see things his way. Now he is able to manipulate the emotions of those around him—calm down a room of angry people, for example, or excite a lethargic crowd, conversely. It’s a very subtle gift.”

And Edward brought gloominess!


I considered the impossibilities he described, trying to take it in. He waited patiently while I thought.

“So where did it all start? I mean, Carlisle changed you, and then someone must have changed him, and so on.…”

“Well, where did you come from? Evolution? Creation? Couldn’t we have evolved in the same way as other species, predator and prey? Or, if you don’t believe that all this world could have just happened on its own, which is hard for me to accept myself, is it so hard to believe that the same force that created the delicate angelfish with the shark, the baby seal and the killer whale, could create both our kinds together?”

“Let me get this straight—I’m the baby seal, right?”

“Right.” He laughed, and something touched my hair—his lips?

The club, actually.


I wanted to turn toward him, to see if it was really his lips against my hair. But I had to be good; I didn’t want to make this any harder for him than it already was.

“Are you ready to sleep?” he asked, interrupting the short silence. “Or do you have any more questions?”

“Only a million or two.”

“We have tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…,” he reminded me. I smiled, euphoric at the thought.

“Are you sure you won’t vanish in the morning?” I wanted this to be certain. “You are mythical, after all.”

“I won’t leave you.” His voice had the seal of a promise in it.

“One more, then, tonight…” And I blushed. The darkness was no help—I’m sure he could feel the sudden warmth under my skin.

“What is it?”

“No, forget it. I changed my mind.”

“Bella, you can ask me anything.”

I didn’t answer, and he groaned.

“I keep thinking it will get less frustrating, not hearing your thoughts. But it just gets worse and worse.”

Maybe the trait Edward brought was a burning desire to violate everyone's privacy?


“I’m glad you can’t read my thoughts. It’s bad enough that you eavesdrop on my sleep-talking.”

“Please?” His voice was so persuasive, so impossible to resist.

I shook my head.

“If you don’t tell me, I’ll just assume it’s something much worse than it is,” he threatened darkly. “Please?” Again, that pleading voice.

“Well,” I began, glad that he couldn’t see my face.


“You said that Rosalie and Emmett will get married soon.… Is that… marriage… the same as it is for humans?”

He laughed in earnest now, understanding. “Is that what you’re getting at?”

I fidgeted, unable to answer.

“Yes, I suppose it is much the same,” he said. “I told you, most of those human desires are there, just hidden behind more powerful desires.”

Emmett fucks.


“Oh,” was all I could say.

“Was there a purpose behind your curiosity?”

“Well, I did wonder… about you and me… someday…”

He was instantly serious, I could tell by the sudden stillness of his body. I froze, too, reacting automatically.

“I don’t think that… that… would be possible for us.”

“Because it would be too hard for you, if I were that… close?”

“That’s certainly a problem. But that’s not what I was thinking of. It’s just that you are so soft, so fragile. I have to mind my actions every moment that we’re together so that I don’t hurt you. I could kill you quite easily, Bella, simply by accident.” His voice had become just a soft murmur. He moved his icy palm to rest it against my cheek. “If I was too hasty… if for one second I wasn’t paying enough attention, I could reach out, meaning to touch your face, and crush your skull by mistake. You don’t realize how incredibly breakable you are. I can never, never afford to lose any kind of control when I’m with you.”

Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex is an old essay about this very subject.


He waited for me to respond, growing anxious when I didn’t. “Are you scared?” he asked.

I waited for a minute to answer, so the words would be true. “No. I’m fine.”

He seemed to deliberate for a moment. “I’m curious now, though,” he said, his voice light again. “Have you ever…?” He trailed off suggestively.

“Of course not.” I flushed. “I told you I’ve never felt like this about anyone before, not even close.”

“I know. It’s just that I know other people’s thoughts. I know love and lust don’t always keep the same company.”

“They do for me. Now, anyway, that they exist for me at all,” I sighed.

“That’s nice. We have that one thing in common, at least.” He sounded satisfied.

“Your human instincts…,” I began. He waited. “Well, do you find me attractive, in that way, at all?”

He laughed and lightly rumpled my nearly dry hair.

“I may not be a human, but I am a man,” he assured me.

Being eternally 17, he's technically either a boy or a senior citizen.


I yawned involuntarily.

“I’ve answered your questions, now you should sleep,” he insisted.

“I’m not sure if I can.”

“Do you want me to leave?”

“No!” I said too loudly.

He laughed, and then began to hum that same, unfamiliar lullaby; the voice of an archangel, soft in my ear.

More tired than I realized, exhausted from the long day of mental and emotional stress like I’d never felt before, I drifted to sleep in his cold arms.

Apr 22, 2008

Fifty Cent's next biopic.

If nothing else, I feel so much better about the dialogue in my own writing after this. Thanks for the public service, chitoryu12!

Nov 29, 2004

Storm On The Sea Of Galilee, it's called, and he's in it. Old Rembrandt, he's in the painting. He's in there, right in the middle of the storm, looking straight at you. But... you can't see him. And the reason you can't see him is because the painting has been stolen.

Freesias aren't mouthwatering. Bella should smell like a rare prime rib or a bag of pennies to him.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012

MorgaineDax posted:

Freesias aren't mouthwatering. Bella should smell like a rare prime rib or a bag of pennies to him.

I say if Meyer wants to eat flowers, let her eat flowers.

Lord Zedd-Repulsa
Jul 21, 2007

Devour a good book.

I really would find the adventures of the Cullen family more interesting than this attempt at romance, but I suspect even those would be best written by someone else.

Apr 23, 2014

Like if you go on the Twilight wiki, this is what they have for Edward's backstory:


Edward Anthony Masen was born on June 20, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois; the only child of Edward and Elizabeth Masen. His father provided Edward with many advantages as a successful lawyer, including music lessons and the opportunity to attend private school; however, he and his father were rather emotionally distant due to his busy career that often drew him away from home for business. This absence was made up for by his relationship with his mother; he was the center of her life.

Edward excelled at his studies and became an accomplished pianist. As he grew older, Edward became enamored with the life of a soldier. World War I raged during most of his adolescence, and Edward dreamed of joining the army as soon as he turned 18, which he reminisced about in Midnight Sun, saying that his love for his mother was the only thing that made him reluctant to the thought other than his underage. That changed, however, when he and his parents became sick with the Spanish Influenza in 1918. His father died in the first wave of the influenza. Edward's mother later contracted the Spanish Influenza and begged the doctor who was taking care of them, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, to do everything within his power to save her son. (Elizabeth: "You must do everything in your power. What others cannot do, that is what you must do for my Edward.") Carlisle acted on her wishes when Edward was near death himself. Shortly after Elizabeth died, Carlisle took Edward from the hospital, brought him to his house, and there changed him into a vampire.

By comparison, this is Emmett:


Emmett McCarty was born in 1915 and grew up in the small town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, as part of a large Scotch-Irish family. He had what his parents considered a wild adolescence, never one to worry about consequences and preferring to gamble, drink, and womanize. However, he was a loving child of his family who always kept them supplied with game. He worked on the railroad with his older brothers in Gatlinburg, while his younger 14 year old sister would help their mother with housework.

Emmett was changed into a vampire by Carlisle Cullen in 1935, two years after Rosalie Hale had been changed. When Rosalie came across him, Emmett was being mauled by a black bear in the mountains of Tennessee. He had nearly died from the attack, but Rosalie saved him and carried him over a hundred miles back to Carlisle. Rosalie was noted as saying that it took nearly all her strength not to kill him. She also said that she brought him to Carlisle so that he, with his stronger endurance to human blood, could save Emmett, being afraid that she would kill him instead. Emmett describes this experience as "being saved by an angel who brought him to God". Many years later, Rosalie confessed to Bella that she saved Emmett from dying because of his innocent look, dimples, and curly hair that reminded her of her best friend Vera's child, Henry, and that ever since the day she saw the baby she always wanted a child of her own just like him. While going through the change, Carlisle attempted to inject painkillers into his system to numb the pain, but the venom burned it out before it could spread.

You tell me who you want as your protagonist now.

Dec 24, 2007


”You don’t realize how incredibly breakable you are. I can never, never afford to lose any kind of control when I’m with you.”

Eddie must really blow a load.

Also Gatlinburg holy poo poo, that place is in the dictionary under the entry for “tourist trap.”

Apr 23, 2014

Midjack posted:

Eddie must really blow a load.

Also Gatlinburg holy poo poo, that place is in the dictionary under the entry for “tourist trap.”

In Emmett’s time, Gatlinburg had just started to become a tourist destination when he was turned. It rapidly went from a small village to a tourist town within a few years.

That reminds me: go to Pigeon Forge. It’s worth it.

Dec 24, 2007

chitoryu12 posted:

In Emmett’s time, Gatlinburg had just started to become a tourist destination when he was turned. It rapidly went from a small village to a tourist town within a few years.

That reminds me: go to Pigeon Forge. It’s worth it.

I grew up an hour from there, I have absorbed a lifetime dose of their perpetual Country Christmastime.

Apr 10, 2010

College Slice

So is the fact that Emmett feeds so much on bears his way of saying, "gently caress you for trying to kill me, bears!'?


Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 15: The Cullens


The muted light of yet another cloudy day eventually woke me. I lay with my arm across my eyes, groggy and dazed. Something, a dream trying to be remembered, struggled to break into my consciousness. I moaned and rolled on my side, hoping more sleep would come. And then the previous day flooded back into my awareness.

“Oh!” I sat up so fast it made my head spin.

“Your hair looks like a haystack… but I like it.” His unruffled voice came from the rocking chair in the corner.

“Edward! You stayed!” I rejoiced, and thoughtlessly threw myself across the room and into his lap. In the instant that my thoughts caught up with my actions, I froze, shocked by my own uncontrolled enthusiasm. I stared up at him, afraid that I had crossed the wrong line.

But he laughed.

“Of course,” he answered, startled, but seeming pleased by my reaction. His hands rubbed my back.

I laid my head cautiously against his shoulder, breathing in the smell of his skin.

“I was sure it was a dream.”

“You’re not that creative,” he scoffed.



“Charlie!” I remembered, thoughtlessly jumping up again and heading to the door.

“He left an hour ago—after reattaching your battery cables, I might add. I have to admit I was disappointed. Is that really all it would take to stop you, if you were determined to go?”

I'm going to have to take points away from Charlie here. Bella's shown no predilections toward irresponsibility that he's aware of. Obviously we know that she loves endangering herself and only gets worse in the sequels, but as far as he knows she's barely even gone out with friends and has mostly stayed cooped up at home except for the Port Angeles trip. Disabling her truck because she went to bed too early is massively overprotective.

However, I will disagree with Edward about her determination. As far as I know she has little to no mechanical skill and can barely walk in a straight line without falling over. I fully believe that unplugging her car battery would be enough to keep her from fleeing the suburbs at midnight.


I deliberated where I stood, wanting to return to him badly, but afraid I might have morning breath.

“You’re not usually this confused in the morning,” he noted. He held his arms open for me to return. A nearly irresistible invitation.

“I need another human minute,” I admitted.

“I’ll wait.”

I skipped to the bathroom, my emotions unrecognizable. I didn’t know myself, inside or out. The face in the mirror was practically a stranger—eyes too bright, hectic spots of red across my cheekbones. After I brushed my teeth, I worked to straighten out the tangled chaos that was my hair. I splashed my face with cold water, and tried to breathe normally, with no noticeable success. I half-ran back to my room.

It seemed like a miracle that he was there, his arms still waiting for me. He reached out to me, and my heart thumped unsteadily.

“Welcome back,” he murmured, taking me into his arms.

He rocked me for a while in silence, until I noticed that his clothes were changed, his hair smooth.

“You left?” I accused, touching the collar of his fresh shirt.

“I could hardly leave in the clothes I came in—what would the neighbors think?”

"Just because you leave the house in ratty sweatpants and a hoodie doesn't mean I have to."


I pouted.

“You were very deeply asleep; I didn’t miss anything.” His eyes gleamed. “The talking came earlier.”

I groaned. “What did you hear?”

His gold eyes grew very soft. “You said you loved me.”

“You knew that already,” I reminded him, ducking my head.

“It was nice to hear, just the same.” I hid my face against his shoulder.

“I love you,” I whispered.

“You are my life now,” he answered simply.

You've had what, two dates? One kiss? No interactions in your daily life except him grilling you endlessly with questions before silently stroking your face and walking away, interspersed with veiled death threats?


There was nothing more to say for the moment. He rocked us back and forth as the room grew lighter.

“Breakfast time,” he said eventually, casually—to prove, I’m sure, that he remembered all my human frailties.

So I clutched my throat with both hands and stared at him with wide eyes. Shock crossed his face.

“Kidding!” I snickered. “And you said I couldn’t act!”

He frowned in disgust. “That wasn’t funny.”

“It was very funny, and you know it.” But I examined his gold eyes carefully, to make sure that I was forgiven. Apparently, I was.

I'll admit that was actually pretty funny.


“Shall I rephrase?” he asked. “Breakfast time for the human.”

“Oh, okay.”

He threw me over his stone shoulder, gently, but with a swiftness that left me breathless. I protested as he carried me easily down the stairs, but he ignored me. He sat me right side up on a chair.

The kitchen was bright, happy, seeming to absorb my mood.

“What’s for breakfast?” I asked pleasantly.

That threw him for a minute.

“Er, I’m not sure. What would you like?” His marble brow puckered.

Canonically Edward is a great cook, but I think it would have been funnier if he completely forgot everything about food because of not having to eat for nearly 80 years and all of his culinary creations were utterly lethal.


I grinned, hopping up.

“That’s all right, I fend for myself pretty well. Watch me hunt.”

I found a bowl and a box of cereal. I could feel his eyes on me as I poured the milk and grabbed a spoon. I sat my food on the table, and then paused.

“Can I get you anything?” I asked, not wanting to be rude.

Bella you idiot.


He rolled his eyes. “Just eat, Bella.”

I sat at the table, watching him as I took a bite. He was gazing at me, studying my every movement. It made me self-conscious. I cleared my mouth to speak, to distract him.

“What’s on the agenda for today?” I asked.

“Hmmm…” I watched him frame his answer carefully. “What would you say to meeting my family?”

I gulped.

“Are you afraid now?” He sounded hopeful.

Is this really still loving going?


“Yes,” I admitted; how could I deny it—he could see my eyes.

“Don’t worry.” He smirked. “I’ll protect you.”

“I’m not afraid of them,” I explained. “I’m afraid they won’t… like me. Won’t they be, well, surprised that you would bring someone… like me… home to meet them? Do they know that I know about them?”

“Oh, they already know everything. They’d taken bets yesterday, you know”—he smiled, but his voice was harsh—“on whether I’d bring you back, though why anyone would bet against Alice, I can’t imagine. At any rate, we don’t have secrets in the family. It’s not really feasible, what with my mind reading and Alice seeing the future and all that.”

“And Jasper making you feel all warm and fuzzy about spilling your guts, don’t forget that.”

“You paid attention,” he smiled approvingly.

“I’ve been known to do that every now and then.” I grimaced. “So did Alice see me coming?”

His reaction was strange. “Something like that,” he said uncomfortably, turning away so I couldn’t see his eyes. I stared at him curiously.

“Is that any good?” he asked, turning back to me abruptly and eyeing my breakfast with a teasing look on his face. “Honestly, it doesn’t look very appetizing.”

It's only been hinted at so far with vampire biology, but they're completely incapable of digesting or passing any food. They have to throw it back up if they eat it.


“Well, it’s no irritable grizzly…,” I murmured, ignoring him when he glowered. I was still wondering why he responded that way when I mentioned Alice. I hurried through my cereal, speculating.

He stood in the middle of the kitchen, the statue of Adonis again, staring abstractedly out the back windows.

Then his eyes were back on me, and he smiled his heartbreaking smile.

“And you should introduce me to your father, too, I think.”

“He already knows you,” I reminded him.

“As your boyfriend, I mean.”

I stared at him with suspicion. “Why?”

“Isn’t that customary?” he asked innocently.

Only if you want to terrify the poor man!


“I don’t know,” I admitted. My dating history gave me few reference points to work with. Not that any normal rules of dating applied here. “That’s not necessary, you know. I don’t expect you to… I mean, you don’t have to pretend for me.”

His smile was patient. “I’m not pretending.”

I pushed the remains of my cereal around the edges of the bowl, biting my lip.

“Are you going to tell Charlie I’m your boyfriend or not?” he demanded.

I don't know if it's Meyer's overly detailed and hand-holdy writing or if she legitimately wanted Edward to be this creepy and abrasive.


“Is that what you are?” I suppressed my internal cringing at the thought of Edward and Charlie and the word boyfriend all in the same room at the same time.

“It’s a loose interpretation of the word ‘boy,’ I’ll admit.”

"Legally, it's ephebophilia."


“I was under the impression that you were something more, actually,” I confessed, looking at the table.

“Well, I don’t know if we need to give him all the gory details.” He reached across the table to lift my chin with a cold, gentle finger. “But he will need some explanation for why I’m around here so much. I don’t want Chief Swan getting a restraining order put on me.”

“Will you be?” I asked, suddenly anxious. “Will you really be here?”

“As long as you want me,” he assured me.

“I’ll always want you,” I warned him. “Forever.”

He walked slowly around the table, and, pausing a few feet away, he reached out to touch his fingertips to my cheek. His expression was unfathomable.

“Does that make you sad?” I asked.

He didn’t answer. He stared into my eyes for an immeasurable period of time.

This actually gave me a sudden thought. As far as we know from canon, vampires are completely immortal and very hard to kill. There are implications of especially old vampires showing changes after thousands of years, but otherwise nothing to suggest that they'll ever die except through violence.

Have the Cullens considered this? Are they planning on staying alive until Earth is swallowed by the sun and they get roasted on an empty rock? Were they hoping space travel gets developed? If so, are they going to try and stay alive until the universe ends? Do they have a suicide pact to kill themselves when humanity finally dies out?

These are all the questions that really should be asked before you become immortal.


“Are you finished?” he finally asked.

I jumped up. “Yes.”

“Get dressed—I’ll wait here.”

It was hard to decide what to wear. I doubted there were any etiquette books detailing how to dress when your vampire sweetheart takes you home to meet his vampire family. It was a relief to think the word to myself. I knew I shied away from it intentionally.

I ended up in my only skirt—long, khaki-colored, still casual. I put on the dark blue blouse he’d once complimented. A quick glance in the mirror told me my hair was entirely impossible, so I pulled it back into a ponytail.

In case you forgot the author's a Mormon.


“Okay.” I bounced down the stairs. “I’m decent.”

He was waiting at the foot of the stairs, closer than I’d thought, and I bounded right into him. He steadied me, holding me a careful distance away for a few seconds before suddenly pulling me closer.

“Wrong again,” he murmured in my ear. “You are utterly indecent—no one should look so tempting, it’s not fair.”

“Tempting how?” I asked. “I can change…”



He sighed, shaking his head. “You are so absurd.” He pressed his cool lips delicately to my forehead, and the room spun. The smell of his breath made it impossible to think.

“Shall I explain how you are tempting me?” he said. It was clearly a rhetorical question. His fingers traced slowly down my spine, his breath coming more quickly against my skin. My hands were limp on his chest, and I felt lightheaded again. He tilted his head slowly and touched his cool lips to mine for the second time, very carefully, parting them slightly.

And then I collapsed.

“Bella?” His voice was alarmed as he caught me and held me up.

“You… made… me… faint,” I accused him dizzily.

What am I going to do with you?” he groaned in exasperation. “Yesterday I kiss you, and you attack me! Today you pass out on me!”

Somehow Bella gets more absurdly, comically weak in every chapter.


I laughed weakly, letting his arms support me while my head spun.

“So much for being good at everything,” he sighed.

“That’s the problem.” I was still dizzy. “You’re too good. Far, far too good.”

“Do you feel sick?” he asked; he’d seen me like this before.

“No—that wasn’t the same kind of fainting at all. I don’t know what happened.” I shook my head apologetically. “I think I forgot to breathe.”

“I can’t take you anywhere like this.”

“I’m fine,” I insisted. “Your family is going to think I’m insane anyway, what’s the difference?”

Hey, she's catching on!


He measured my expression for a moment. “I’m very partial to that color with your skin,” he offered unexpectedly. I flushed with pleasure, and looked away.

“Look, I’m trying really hard not to think about what I’m about to do, so can we go already?” I asked.

“And you’re worried, not because you’re headed to meet a houseful of vampires, but because you think those vampires won’t approve of you, correct?”

“That’s right,” I answered immediately, hiding my surprise at his casual use of the word.

He shook his head. “You’re incredible.”

I don't think he means that the way you think he means it, Bella.


I realized, as he drove my truck out of the main part of town, that I had no idea where he lived. We passed over the bridge at the Calawah River, the road winding northward, the houses flashing past us growing farther apart, getting bigger. And then we were past the other houses altogether, driving through misty forest. I was trying to decide whether to ask or be patient, when he turned abruptly onto an unpaved road. It was unmarked, barely visible among the ferns. The forest encroached on both sides, leaving the road ahead only discernible for a few meters as it twisted, serpentlike, around the ancient trees.

And then, after a few miles, there was some thinning of the woods, and we were suddenly in a small meadow, or was it actually a lawn? The gloom of the forest didn’t relent, though, for there were six primordial cedars that shaded an entire acre with their vast sweep of branches. The trees held their protecting shadow right up to the walls of the house that rose among them, making obsolete the deep porch that wrapped around the first story.

I don’t know what I had expected, but it definitely wasn’t this. The house was timeless, graceful, and probably a hundred years old. It was painted a soft, faded white, three stories tall, rectangular and well proportioned. The windows and doors were either part of the original structure or a perfect restoration. My truck was the only car in sight. I could hear the river close by, hidden in the obscurity of the forest.

The Miller Tree Inn in Forks advertises itself as "the home of the Cullens" and much more closely resembles the book version. As far as I can tell, the similarity is a complete accident and Meyer just happened to write a typical 20th century house design that Forks happened to have. The owners of the bed & breakfast had no clue the books even existed until they began getting visitors and a local tour group asked for permission to use them as the jumping-off point for Twilight tours. The owners have gladly embraced the marketing potential of this connection.

The films initially used the Hoke House, a radically different modern design by Jeff Kovel of Skylab Architecture in Portland, OR. For New Moon and Eclipse they shot the interiors at a similar house in West Vancouver and shot new footage or reused footage from Hoke House. When filming was moved to Louisiana for Breaking Dawn, they went so far as to disassemble the Vancouver house and transport it to the Louisiana sound stages for filming.



“You like it?” He smiled.

“It… has a certain charm.”

He pulled the end of my ponytail and chuckled.

“Ready?” he asked, opening my door.

“Not even a little bit—let’s go.” I tried to laugh, but it seemed to get stuck in my throat. I smoothed my hair nervously.

“You look lovely.” He took my hand easily, without thinking about it.

We walked through the deep shade up to the porch. I knew he could feel my tension; his thumb rubbed soothing circles into the back of my hand.

He opened the door for me.

The inside was even more surprising, less predictable, than the exterior. It was very bright, very open, and very large. This must have originally been several rooms, but the walls had been removed from most of the first floor to create one wide space. The back, south-facing wall had been entirely replaced with glass, and, beyond the shade of the cedars, the lawn stretched bare to the wide river. A massive curving staircase dominated the west side of the room. The walls, the high-beamed ceiling, the wooden floors, and the thick carpets were all varying shades of white.

While the description is very dull (I really miss Bond when I do these posts), you can tell that Meyer's idea was for a modernist interior that completely clashes with the exterior. The choice of home for the films was likely done for the purpose of matching the interior description, as a plain Victorian house with a modern interior and an entire wall replaced with a giant window would be expensive and look ridiculous.


Waiting to greet us, standing just to the left of the door, on a raised portion of the floor by a spectacular grand piano, were Edward’s parents.

I’d seen Dr. Cullen before, of course, yet I couldn’t help but be struck again by his youth, his outrageous perfection. At his side was Esme, I assumed, the only one of the family I’d never seen before. She had the same pale, beautiful features as the rest of them. Something about her heart-shaped face, her billows of soft, caramel-colored hair, reminded me of the ingenues of the silent-movie era. She was small, slender, yet less angular, more rounded than the others. They were both dressed casually, in light colors that matched the inside of the house. They smiled in welcome, but made no move to approach us. Trying not to frighten me, I guessed.

Esme was played by Elizabeth Reaser, whose largest roles before the films was Saved, a medical drama canceled after one season, and a recurring role as the insane amnesiac Rebecca Pope on Grey's Anatomy. She's almost entirely stuck to TV after the films ended and is currently playing Olivia Winslow on The Handmaid's Tale.


“Carlisle, Esme,” Edward’s voice broke the short silence, “this is Bella.”

“You’re very welcome, Bella.” Carlisle’s step was measured, careful as he approached me. He raised his hand tentatively, and I stepped forward to shake hands with him.

“It’s nice to see you again, Dr. Cullen.”

“Please, call me Carlisle.”

“Carlisle.” I grinned at him, my sudden confidence surprising me. I could feel Edward’s relief at my side.

Esme smiled and stepped forward as well, reaching for my hand. Her cold, stone grasp was just as I expected.

“It’s very nice to know you,” she said sincerely.

“Thank you. I’m glad to meet you, too.” And I was. It was like meeting a fairy tale—Snow White, in the flesh.

“Where are Alice and Jasper?” Edward asked, but no one answered, as they had just appeared at the top of the wide staircase.

“Hey, Edward!” Alice called enthusiastically. She ran down the stairs, a streak of black hair and white skin, coming to a sudden and graceful stop in front of me. Carlisle and Esme shot warning glances at her, but I liked it. It was natural—for her, anyway.

“Hi, Bella!” Alice said, and she bounced forward to kiss my cheek. If Carlisle and Esme had looked cautious before, they now looked staggered. There was shock in my eyes, too, but I was also very pleased that she seemed to approve of me so entirely. I was startled to feel Edward stiffen at my side. I glanced at his face, but his expression was unreadable.

“You do smell nice, I never noticed before,” she commented, to my extreme embarrassment.

No one else seemed to know quite what to say, and then Jasper was there—tall and leonine. A feeling of ease spread through me, and I was suddenly comfortable despite where I was. Edward stared at Jasper, raising one eyebrow, and I remembered what Jasper could do.

“Hello, Bella,” Jasper said. He kept his distance, not offering to shake my hand. But it was impossible to feel awkward near him.

Ahhh, Jasper. People who have been following my threads for the past two years know what's coming (also holy poo poo I've been doing this for years).

Jackson Rathbone (distantly related to Basil Rathbone and "Stonewall" Jackson) is a handsome actor and musician who used to be part of the band 100 Monkeys with his high school friends. They achieved minor notability that increased when he was cast as Jasper, and that's where some problems come in.

As people who have read my thread on Handbook for Mortals will recall, Lani Sarem was hired out by her agency as the manager for the band at the height of the Twilight fandom. She had become notorious among her prior gigs like Blues Traveler for being eccentric at best and crazy at worst, and her Twilight fangirl came out in the form of an obsession with Rathbone. While nobody has revealed the full story, putting the pieces together indicates that her presence around 100 Monkeys and creepy obsession with the singer was one of the causes of him leaving the band; they would eventually break up in 2012 when Rathbone disallowed them from continuing to use the name without him. Sarem would later turn her laughably poor self-insert film script into a laughably poor book, adding a Twilight-style love triangle and making a thinly veiled Jackson Rathbone the second guy. You can read the thread to find out the details on that nightmare.


“Hello, Jasper.” I smiled at him shyly, and then at the others. “It’s nice to meet you all—you have a very beautiful home,” I added conventionally.

“Thank you,” Esme said. “We’re so glad that you came.” She spoke with feeling, and I realized that she thought I was brave.

I also realized that Rosalie and Emmett were nowhere to be seen, and I remembered Edward’s too-innocent denial when I’d asked him if the others didn’t like me.

How could anyone not find you lovable, Bella?


Carlisle’s expression distracted me from this train of thought; he was gazing meaningfully at Edward with an intense expression. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Edward nod once.

I looked away, trying to be polite. My eyes wandered again to the beautiful instrument on the platform by the door. I suddenly remembered my childhood fantasy that, should I ever win a lottery, I would buy a grand piano for my mother. She wasn’t really good—she only played for herself on our secondhand upright—but I loved to watch her play. She was happy, absorbed—she seemed like a new, mysterious being to me then, someone outside the “mom” persona I took for granted. She’d put me through lessons, of course, but like most kids, I whined until she let me quit.

Yeah, she really has always been this awful.


Esme noticed my preoccupation.

“Do you play?” she asked, inclining her head toward the piano.

I shook my head. “Not at all. But it’s so beautiful. Is it yours?”

“No,” she laughed. “Edward didn’t tell you he was musical?”

“No.” I glared at his suddenly innocent expression with narrowed eyes. “I should have known, I guess.”

Esme raised her delicate eyebrows in confusion.

“Edward can do everything, right?” I explained.

Jasper snickered and Esme gave Edward a reproving look.

“I hope you haven’t been showing off—it’s rude,” she scolded.

“Just a bit,” he laughed freely. Her face softened at the sound, and they shared a brief look that I didn’t understand, though Esme’s face seemed almost smug.

“He’s been too modest, actually,” I corrected.

“Well, play for her,” Esme encouraged.

“You just said showing off was rude,” he objected.

“There are exceptions to every rule,” she replied.

“I’d like to hear you play,” I volunteered.

“It’s settled then.” Esme pushed him toward the piano. He pulled me along, sitting me on the bench beside him.

He gave me a long, exasperated look before he turned to the keys.

And then his fingers flowed swiftly across the ivory, and the room was filled with a composition so complex, so luxuriant, it was impossible to believe only one set of hands played. I felt my chin drop, my mouth open in astonishment, and heard low chuckles behind me at my reaction.

It's easy to tell Meyer's inexperience with just about every subject. She really should have adopted the typical good writer's obsession with research for detail.

Robert Pattinson really is a pianist (and cellist, and guitarist) and performed this scene himself. He even composed a song himself for them to use in this scene; while they went with another track by Carter Burwell because it matched the soundtrack better, they still released his own recording if you want to give it a listen.


Edward looked at me casually, the music still surging around us without a break, and winked.

“Do you like it?”

“You wrote this?” I gasped, understanding.

He nodded. “It’s Esme’s favorite.”

I closed my eyes, shaking my head.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m feeling extremely insignificant.”

The music slowed, transforming into something softer, and to my surprise I detected the melody of his lullaby weaving through the profusion of notes.

“You inspired this one,” he said softly. The music grew unbearably sweet.

I couldn’t speak.

“They like you, you know,” he said conversationally. “Esme especially.”

Can't imagine why, since they've never once met her or talked to her except Carlisle dealing with her whining at the hospital and a few words with Alice.


I glanced behind me, but the huge room was empty now.

“Where did they go?”

“Very subtly giving us some privacy, I suppose.”

I guess pulling a Batman is a Cullen family trait.


I sighed. “They like me. But Rosalie and Emmett…” I trailed off, not sure how to express my doubts.

He frowned. “Don’t worry about Rosalie,” he said, his eyes wide and persuasive. “She’ll come around.”

I pursed my lips skeptically. “Emmett?”

“Well, he thinks I’m a lunatic, it’s true, but he doesn’t have a problem with you. He’s trying to reason with Rosalie.”

“What is it that upsets her?” I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know the answer.

He sighed deeply. “Rosalie struggles the most with… with what we are. It’s hard for her to have someone on the outside know the truth. And she’s a little jealous.”

Rosalie is jealous of me?” I asked incredulously. I tried to imagine a universe in which someone as breathtaking as Rosalie would have any possible reason to feel jealous of someone like me.

“You’re human.” He shrugged. “She wishes that she were, too.”

“Oh,” I muttered, still stunned. “Even Jasper, though…”

“That’s really my fault,” he said. “I told you he was the most recent to try our way of life. I warned him to keep his distance.”

I thought about the reason for that, and shuddered.

“Esme and Carlisle…?” I continued quickly, to keep him from noticing.

“Are happy to see me happy. Actually, Esme wouldn’t care if you had a third eye and webbed feet. All this time she’s been worried about me, afraid that there was something missing from my essential makeup, that I was too young when Carlisle changed me.… She’s ecstatic. Every time I touch you, she just about chokes with satisfaction.”

“Alice seems very… enthusiastic.”

“Alice has her own way of looking at things,” he said through tight lips.

“And you’re not going to explain that, are you?”

A moment of wordless communication passed between us. He realized that I knew he was keeping something from me. I realized that he wasn’t going to give anything away. Not now.

Again, I would take 4 books about the Cullen family as a whole before I took what we actually got. All of them are so much more interesting and have such a variety of personalities by comparison.


“So what was Carlisle telling you before?”

His eyebrows pulled together. “You noticed that, did you?”

I shrugged. “Of course.”

He looked at me thoughtfully for a few seconds before answering. “He wanted to tell me some news—he didn’t know if it was something I would share with you.”

“Will you?”

“I have to, because I’m going to be a little… overbearingly protective over the next few days—or weeks—and I wouldn’t want you to think I’m naturally a tyrant.”

More overbearingly protective than you already have been? That may as well be a stay in a dungeon.


“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, exactly. Alice just sees some visitors coming soon. They know we’re here, and they’re curious.”


“Yes… well, they aren’t like us, of course—in their hunting habits, I mean. They probably won’t come into town at all, but I’m certainly not going to let you out of my sight till they’re gone.”

This is a really loving casual way of dropping the first hints of the plot showing up.


I shivered.

“Finally, a rational response!” he murmured. “I was beginning to think you had no sense of self-preservation at all.”

Does she, though?


I let that one pass, looking away, my eyes wandering again around the spacious room.

He followed my gaze. “Not what you expected, is it?” he asked, his voice smug.

“No,” I admitted.

“No coffins, no piled skulls in the corners; I don’t even think we have cobwebs… what a disappointment this must be for you,” he continued slyly.

I ignored his teasing. “It’s so light… so open.”

He was more serious when he answered. “It’s the one place we never have to hide.”

The song he was still playing, my song, drifted to an end, the final chords shifting to a more melancholy key. The last note hovered poignantly in the silence.

“Thank you,” I murmured. I realized there were tears in my eyes. I dabbed at them, embarrassed.

He touched the corner of my eye, trapping one I missed. He lifted his finger, examining the drop of moisture broodingly. Then, so quickly I couldn’t be positive that he really did, he put his finger to his mouth to taste it.

What the gently caress


I looked at him questioningly, and he gazed back for a long moment before he finally smiled.

“Do you want to see the rest of the house?”

“No coffins?” I verified, the sarcasm in my voice not entirely masking the slight but genuine anxiety I felt.

He laughed, taking my hand, leading me away from the piano.

“No coffins,” he promised.

We walked up the massive staircase, my hand trailing along the satin-smooth rail. The long hall at the top of the stairs was paneled with a honey-colored wood, the same as the floorboards.

“Rosalie and Emmett’s room… Carlisle’s office… Alice’s room…” He gestured as he led me past the doors.

He would have continued, but I stopped dead at the end of the hall, staring incredulously at the ornament hanging on the wall above my head. Edward chuckled at my bewildered expression.

“You can laugh,” he said. “It is sort of ironic.”

I didn’t laugh. My hand raised automatically, one finger extended as if to touch the large wooden cross, its dark patina contrasting with the lighter tone of the wall. I didn’t touch it, though I was curious if the aged wood would feel as silky as it looked.

“It must be very old,” I guessed.

He shrugged. “Early sixteen-thirties, more or less.”

I looked away from the cross to stare at him. “Why do you keep this here?” I wondered.

“Nostalgia. It belonged to Carlisle’s father.”

“He collected antiques?” I suggested doubtfully.

“No. He carved this himself. It hung on the wall above the pulpit in the vicarage where he preached.”

I wasn’t sure if my face betrayed my shock, but I returned to gazing at the simple, ancient cross, just in case. I quickly did the mental math; the cross was over three hundred and seventy years old. The silence stretched on as I struggled to wrap my mind around the concept of so many years.

“Are you all right?” He sounded worried.

“How old is Carlisle?” I asked quietly, ignoring his question, still staring up.

“He just celebrated his three hundred and sixty-second birthday,” Edward said. I looked back at him, a million questions in my eyes.

I'm struggling to believe that Bella could be so clueless as to be surprised at a vampire being centuries old.


He watched me carefully as he spoke.

“Carlisle was born in London, in the sixteen-forties, he believes. Time wasn’t marked as accurately then, for the common people anyway. It was just before Cromwell’s rule, though.”

I don't get why this myth keeps getting repeated. They had calendars and clocks in the 1640s. Anyone who ran a business or was educated enough to be able to read would have enough reason to keep up with the news and know what date it is, and a pastor absolutely falls into that category.


I kept my face composed, aware of his scrutiny as I listened. It was easier if I didn’t try to believe.

“He was the only son of an Anglican pastor. His mother died giving birth to him. His father was an intolerant man. As the Protestants came into power, he was enthusiastic in his persecution of Roman Catholics and other religions. He also believed very strongly in the reality of evil. He led hunts for witches, werewolves… and vampires.” I grew very still at the word. I’m sure he noticed, but he went on without pausing.

“They burned a lot of innocent people—of course the real creatures that he sought were not so easy to catch.

There's a major historical error here. The Protestant reformation occurred in the 16th century and the religious wars were long over by the time Carlisle was born.


“When the pastor grew old, he placed his obedient son in charge of the raids. At first Carlisle was a disappointment; he was not quick to accuse, to see demons where they did not exist. But he was persistent, and more clever than his father. He actually discovered a coven of true vampires that lived hidden in the sewers of the city, only coming out by night to hunt. In those days, when monsters were not just myths and legends, that was the way many lived.

“The people gathered their pitchforks and torches, of course”—his brief laugh was darker now—“and waited where Carlisle had seen the monsters exit into the street. Eventually one emerged.”

His voice was very quiet; I strained to catch the words.

“He must have been ancient, and weak with hunger. Carlisle heard him call out in Latin to the others when he caught the scent of the mob. He ran through the streets, and Carlisle—he was twenty-three and very fast—was in the lead of the pursuit. The creature could have easily outrun them, but Carlisle thinks he was too hungry, so he turned and attacked. He fell on Carlisle first, but the others were close behind, and he turned to defend himself. He killed two men, and made off with a third, leaving Carlisle bleeding in the street.”

He paused. I could sense he was editing something, keeping something from me.

I actually don't think he is? I'm not super familiar with the story but I can't find anything online that indicates the story is different at this point.


“Carlisle knew what his father would do. The bodies would be burned—anything infected by the monster must be destroyed. Carlisle acted instinctively to save his own life. He crawled away from the alley while the mob followed the fiend and his victim. He hid in a cellar, buried himself in rotting potatoes for three days. It’s a miracle he was able to keep silent, to stay undiscovered.

“It was over then, and he realized what he had become.”

I’m not sure what my face was revealing, but he suddenly broke off.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” I assured him. And, though I bit my lip in hesitation, he must have seen the curiosity burning in my eyes.

He smiled. “I expect you have a few more questions for me.”

“A few.”

His smile widened over his brilliant teeth. He started back down the hall, pulling me along by the hand. “Come on, then,” he encouraged. “I’ll show you.”

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 23:26 on Jul 19, 2019

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