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May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind

No other road
No other way
No day but today

Yikes!! Take it easy and get well soon, the serial killer POV book will still be here.


Apr 23, 2014

The sickness is coming and going, so I'm writing when I can even if it takes a day or two to get through a post.

Apr 23, 2014


I knew it could be nothing in comparison to how I loved her—she was mortal, changeable. She wasn’t locked in with no hope of recovery. But still, she cared enough to risk her life to sit here with me. To do so gladly.

Enough that it would cause her pain if I did the right thing and left her.

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

Every word we spoke here—each one of them was another pomegranate seed. That strange vision in the restaurant had been more on point than I’d realized.


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

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

The way I felt at this moment, feeling her warmth against my skin…

No. Nothing would stop me.

“Ah,” I groaned to myself. “This is wrong.”

Even more wrong with the added context!


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

“Don’t you see, Bella? It’s one thing for me to make myself miserable, but a wholly other thing for you to be so involved. I don’t want to hear that you feel that way.” It was the truth, it was a lie. The most selfish part of me was flying with the knowledge that she wanted me as I wanted her. “It’s wrong. It’s not safe. I’m dangerous, Bella—please, grasp that.”

“No.” Her lips pouted out stubbornly.

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

I'm so baffled by how often Meyer does this with Edward. This isn't a thing people do! You don't try to speak with two separate emotions and end up having a weird growled mix of them!


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

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

Too late? Alice’s vision swirled in my head, Bella’s bloodred eyes staring back at me impassively, expressionless. But there was no way that she could not hate me for that future. Hate me for stealing everything from her.

He has no idea he's in love with a hardcore monster fucker.


It could not be too late.

“Never say that,” I hissed.

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

“What are you thinking?” I had to know.

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

Agony. “Are you crying?” I’d made her cry. I’d hurt her that much.

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

No! His meal!


“No,” she lied, her voice breaking.

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

“I’m sorry,” I said, my jaw locked. How could I ever tell her how sorry I was? Sorry for all the stupid mistakes I’d made. Sorry for my never-ending selfishness. Sorry that she was so unfortunate as to have inspired this first, and last, tragic love of mine. Sorry also for the things beyond my control—that I’d been the executioner chosen by fate to end her life in the first place.

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

I want to hit him with a folding chair.


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

“Tell me something,” I said.

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

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

“I was trying to remember how to incapacitate an attacker,” she said, her voice more composed. “You know, self-defense. I was going to smash his nose into his brain.” Her composure did not last to the end of her explanation. Her tone twisted until it seethed with hate. This was no hyperbole, and her fury was not humorous now. I could see her frail figure—just silk over glass—overshadowed by the meaty, heavy-fisted human monsters who would have hurt her. The fury boiled in the back of my head.

Come on, Meyer. I already made a "glass bones and paper skin" joke. Don't do this to me.


“You were going to fight them?” I wanted to groan. Her instincts were deadly—to herself.

“Didn’t you think about running?”

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

“What about screaming for help?”

“I was getting to that part.”

I shook my head in disbelief. “You were right,” I told her, a sour edge to my voice. “I’m definitely fighting fate trying to keep you alive.”

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

“Will I see you tomorrow?” she demanded abruptly.

As long as we were on our way down to hell—why not enjoy the journey?



“Yes—I have a paper due, too.” I smiled at her, and it felt good to do this. Clearly, hers were not the only instincts that were backwards. “I’ll save you a seat at lunch.”

Her heart fluttered; my dead heart felt warmer.

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

“Do you promise to be there tomorrow?” she insisted.

“I promise.”

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

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

“You can keep it,” I assured her quickly. I rather wanted to leave her with something of myself. A token, like the bottle cap that was in my pocket now. “You don’t have a jacket for tomorrow.”

She handed it back to me, smiling ruefully. “I don’t want to have to explain to Charlie,” she told me.

I would imagine not. I smiled at her. “Oh, right.”

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

To have her unprotected, even for a few moments…

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

Seriously, how many vampires are there in the Twilight universe? Setting aside the "newborn army" problem, there's apparently now so many that Edward could justify thinking another one could randomly appear in this small town in the middle of nowhere. While he later turns out to be right, obviously, it seems like it would be pretty unlikely unless there really are just vampires all over the world that somehow have never been caught.


“Bella?” I asked, amazed at the pleasure there was in simply speaking her name.


“Will you promise me something?”

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

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

She blinked, startled. “Why?”

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

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

Of course.



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

Her breath touched my face, so sweet.

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

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

Wow, you actually went there and said that.


“Tomorrow, then,” she agreed as she opened her door.

Agony again, watching her leave.

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

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

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

Her heartbeat stuttered, and her lips fell open.

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

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

As was I.

Someone should film these scenes mimicking the exact line delivery and body language just to see how ridiculous it all comes off.


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

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

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

Just tripping her way to bed.


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

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

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

More than that, I thought of Bella and requited love. She couldn’t love me the way I loved her—such an overpowering, all-consuming, crushing love would probably break her fragile body. But she felt strongly enough. Strongly enough to subdue the instinctive fear. Strongly enough to want to be with me. And being with her was the greatest happiness I had ever known.

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

Time to do donuts in the school parking lot!


I replayed that smile in my head, seeing her full lips pull up at the corners, the hint of a dimple that touched her pointed chin, the way her eyes warmed and melted. Her fingers had felt so warm and soft on my hand tonight. I imagined how it would feel to touch the delicate skin that stretched over her cheekbones—silky, warm… so fragile. Silk over glass… frighteningly breakable.

I didn’t see where my thoughts were leading until it was too late. As I dwelt on that devastating vulnerability, other images of her face intruded on my fantasies. Lost in the shadows, pale with fear—yet her jaw tight and determined, her eyes full of concentration, her slim body braced to strike at the hulking forms that gathered around her, nightmares in the gloom.

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

How is the most overtly sexual writing saved for this line?


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

She was safe. It would not take me so very long to destroy the mortal who would have harmed her.

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

But… what about the others?

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

Yet a predator was loose on the streets of Port Angeles. A human monster—did that make him the humans’ problem? We did not often involve ourselves with human problems, aside from Carlisle and his constant work to heal and save. For the rest of us, our weakness for human blood was a serious impediment to becoming closely entangled with them. And of course there were our distant wardens, the de facto vampire police force, the Volturi. We Cullens lived too differently. Drawing their attention with any poorly considered superhero-esque performances would be extremely dangerous to our family.

That last line is going to sound really funny when you see some of the poo poo later in this book.


This was definitely a mortal concern, not of our world. To commit the murder I ached to commit was wrong. I knew that. But leaving him free to attack again could not be the right thing, either.

The blond hostess from the restaurant. The waitress I’d never really looked at. Both had irritated me in a trivial way, but that did not mean they deserved to be in danger.

One line cut from the final draft was Edward saying either of those women could be "somebody's Bella" as his realization for why he needs to protect them.


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

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

“Carlisle’s in his study,” she told me before I could ask.

“Thank you,” I said, tousling her hair as I passed.

Holy poo poo, actual affection!


Thank you for returning my call, she thought sarcastically.

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

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

“It was close,” I murmured.

Sorry, she repeated, ashamed of herself.

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

Except when the plot demands it!



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

She grinned. “No, I missed that one, too. Wish I’d known. I would have come.”

“What were you concentrating on that you missed so much?”

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

“You’re shameless.”


Every other love story in this series is "a better love story than Twilight."

Except imprinting.


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

I sighed. “Yes. Later.”

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

I flinched. “Sure.”

How about we just never tell Rosalie or Emmett anything and turn this into a comedy where the rest of the Cullens are trying to hide it from them for the rest of the book?


Bella took it pretty well.

“Too well.”

Alice grinned at me. Don’t underestimate Bella.

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

So Alice hasn't gotten the future of Bella trying to jump his marbles yet?


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

“Alice…,” I began. She saw what I was planning to ask.

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

“At least.”

“Anyway, you’ll be with her soon enough.”

Please, just pick one form of communication per conversation!


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

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

I nodded and hurried up to Carlisle’s room.

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

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

"In case you needed a reminder of how perfect our hearing is, and how much of a plot hole that becomes."


It was a relief to be with him, to see the empathy and deep intelligence in his eyes. Carlisle would know what to do.

“I need help.”

“Anything, Edward,” he promised.

“Did Alice tell you what happened to Bella tonight?”

Almost happened, he amended.

“Yes, almost. I’ve a dilemma, Carlisle. You see, I want… very much… to kill him.” The words started to flow, fast and passionate. “So much. But I know that would be wrong, because it would be vengeance, not justice. All anger, no impartiality. Still, it can’t be right to leave a serial rapist and murderer wandering Port Angeles! I don’t know the humans there, but I can’t let someone else take Bella’s place as his victim. Those other women—it’s not right—”

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

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

Just laying it out there that he had neither, huh?


“I’m not looking for compliments, Carlisle.”

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

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

Such a kind, gentle, perfect lover.


“I’ll show you where to find him,” I said.

“Let’s go.”

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


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

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

Carlisle was thinking of Bella, too.

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

In case the religious overtones to their relationship weren't obvious enough.


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

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

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

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

Motherfucker, this brat is owed nothing!


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

Ca-caw, I guess.


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

Oh yeah, Midnight Sun wants it to be very clear that this guy is a murderer and not just a random drunk guy assaulting Bella. So you feel less awkward about Edward wanting to slowly torture him to death!


My breathing sped. My hands clenched the steering wheel.

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

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

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

Again, why do any vampires drive cars?


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

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

Imagine casually having a "usual seat" for breaking into someone's home to stare at them.


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

Charlie’s snores were loud and even. I could almost catch the edge of his dream. Something with the rush of water and patient expectation… fishing, maybe?

Meyer couldn't even come up with another thing for Charlie to have on his mind, huh?


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

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

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

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

Or, if I could not be what I should, at least there should be some balance in the universe to cancel out my darkness. Should there not be an equal and opposite good? I’d envisioned the hag-faced fate as some explanation for the terrifying and improbable nightmares that kept coming for Bella—first myself, then the van, and then the noxious beast tonight. But if that fate had so much power, shouldn’t there be a force in place to thwart it?

This weird thing about the hag/harpy-like Fates was the previous obsession Edward had, before the final draft added the pomegranate seeds. Now we have two dueling, badly written Greek mythology references.


Someone like Bella ought to have a protector, a guardian angel. She deserved that. And yet, clearly, she’d been left defenseless. I would love to believe an angel or anything else was watching over her, anything that would give her a measure of protection, but when I tried to imagine that champion, it was obvious such a thing was impossible. What guardian angel would have allowed Bella to come here? To cross my path, formed, as she was, in such a fashion that there was no way I could possibly overlook her? A ridiculously potent scent to demand my attention, a silent mind to enflame my curiosity, a quiet beauty to hold my eyes, a selfless soul to earn my awe. Factor in the total lack of self-preservation so she was not repelled by me, and then of course add the wide streak of appallingly bad luck that put her always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Almost as if the entire plot was contrived off the top of the author's head to fulfill her weird fantasies!


There could be no stronger evidence that guardian angels were a fantasy. No one needed or deserved one more than Bella. Yet any angel that could have allowed us to meet must be so irresponsible, so reckless, so… harebrained, that it could not possibly be on the side of good. I’d rather the loathsome harpy were real than any celestial being so ineffectual. At least I could fight against the ugly fate.

And I would fight, I would keep fighting. Whatever force it was that wanted to hurt Bella would have to go through me. No, she had no guardian angel. But I would do my best to make up for the lack.

A guardian vampire—there was a stretch.

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

“Edward,” she sighed, and she smiled, too.

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

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 22:38 on Sep 28, 2020

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 11: Interrogations


CNN broke the news first.

I was glad it hit the news before I had to leave for school. I was anxious to hear how the humans would phrase the account, and what amount of attention it would garner. Luckily, it was a heavy news day. There was an earthquake in South America and a political kidnapping in the Middle East. So it ended up only earning a few seconds, a few sentences, and one grainy picture.

“Orlando Calderas Wallace, suspected murderer wanted in the states of Texas and Oklahoma, was apprehended last night in Portland, Oregon, thanks to an anonymous tip. Wallace was found unconscious in an alley early this morning, just a few yards from a police station. Officials are unable to tell us at this time whether he will be extradited to Houston or Oklahoma City to stand trial.”

The picture was unclear, a mug shot, and he’d had a thick beard at the time of the photograph. Even if Bella saw it, she would probably not recognize him. I hoped she wouldn’t; it would only frighten her needlessly.

In the original draft, his name was "Alonzo." I don't know why Meyer changed it, but that's the only possible explanation for his nickname now being "Lanny."

Also, for a completely unknown reason, she removed the mention of him being a serial rapist as well as a murderer. Was she trying to make it seem like Bella was just in danger of being stabbed to death on that street and nothing else?


“The coverage here in town will be light. It’s too far away to be considered of local interest,” Alice told me. “It was a good call to have Carlisle take him out of state.”

I nodded. Bella didn’t watch much TV regardless, and I’d never seen her father watching anything besides sports channels.

I’d done what I could. This repugnant creature no longer hunted, and I was not a murderer. Not recently, anyway. I’d been right to trust Carlisle, as much as I still wished the wretch had not gotten off quite so easily. I caught myself hoping he would be extradited to Texas, where the death penalty was so popular.

I see Edward's not up to date on the death penalty debate.


No. That didn’t matter. I would put this behind me and concentrate on what was most important.

I’d left Bella’s room less than an hour ago. I was already aching to see her again.

“Alice, do you mind—”

She cut me off. “Rosalie will drive. She’ll act pissed, but you know she’ll enjoy the excuse to show off her car.” Alice trilled a laugh.

And I appreciate her for that!


I grinned at her. “See you at school.”

Alice sighed, and my grin became a glare.

I know, I know, she thought. Not yet. I’ll wait until you’re ready for Bella to know me. You should know, though, this isn’t just me being selfish. Bella’s going to like me, too.

I didn’t answer her as I hurried out the door. That was a different way of viewing the situation. Would Bella want to know Alice? To have a vampire for a girlfriend?

You're doing it again, Meyer.


Knowing Bella, that idea probably wouldn’t bother her in the slightest.

I frowned to myself. What Bella wanted and what was best for Bella were two very separate things.

I started to feel uneasy as I parked my car in Bella’s driveway. The human adage said that things looked different in the morning—that things changed when you slept on them. Would I look different to Bella in the weak light of a foggy day? More or less sinister than I had in the blackness of night? Had the truth sunk in while she slept? Would she finally be afraid?

Her dreams had been peaceful, though, last night. When she’d spoken my name, time and time again, she’d smiled. More than once she’d murmured a plea for me to stay. Would that mean nothing today?

I waited nervously, listening to the sounds of her inside the house—the fast, stumbling footsteps on the stairs, the sharp rip of a foil wrapper, the contents of the refrigerator crashing against each other when the door slammed. It sounded as though she was in a hurry. Anxious to get to school? The thought made me smile, hopeful again.

I glanced at the clock. I supposed that—taking into account the velocity her decrepit truck must limit her to—she was running a little late.

Stop bullying the poor truck!


Bella rushed out of the house, her book bag sliding off her shoulder, her hair coiled into a messy twist that was already coming apart on the nape of her neck. The thick green sweater she wore was not enough to keep her thin shoulders from hunching against the cold fog.

The long sweater was too big for her, unflattering. It masked her slender figure, turning all her delicate curves and soft lines into a shapeless jumble. I appreciated this almost as much as I wished that she had worn something more like the soft blue blouse she had on last night. The fabric had clung to her skin in such an appealing way, cut low enough to reveal the mesmerizing shape of her collarbones, curling out from the hollow of her throat. The blue had flowed like water along the subtle shape of her body.

It was better—essential—that I kept my thoughts far, far away from that shape, so I was grateful for the unbecoming sweater. I couldn’t afford to make mistakes, and it would be a monumental mistake to dwell on the strange hungers that thoughts of her lips… her skin… her body… were shaking loose inside me. Hungers that had evaded me for a hundred years. But I could not allow myself to think of touching her, because that was impossible.

I would break her.

The most Mormon porn in the world.


Bella turned away from the door in such a hurry that she nearly ran right by my car without noticing it.

Then she skidded to a stop, her knees locking like a startled colt’s. Her bag slid farther down her arm, and her eyes flew wide as they focused on the car.

I got out, taking no care to move at human speed, and opened the passenger door for her. I would not try to deceive her anymore—when we were alone, at least, I would be myself.

She looked up at me, startled again as I seemingly materialized out of the fog. And then the surprise in her eyes changed to something else, and I was no longer afraid—or hopeful—that her feelings for me had changed in the course of the night. Warmth, wonder, fascination, all swam in the translucent depths of her eyes.

“Do you want to ride with me today?” I asked. Unlike dinner last night, I would let her choose. From now on, it must always be her choice.

"Except when I really don't want her to do something. Then I'll disable her truck and stalk her."


“Yes, thank you,” she murmured, climbing into my car without hesitation.

Would it ever cease to thrill me that I was the one she was saying yes to?

I flashed around the car, eager to join her. She showed no sign of being shocked by my sudden reappearance.

The happiness I felt when she sat beside me this way had no precedent. As much as I enjoyed the love and companionship of my family, despite the various entertainments and distractions my world had to offer, I had never been happy like this. Even knowing that it was wrong, that this couldn’t possibly end well, could not keep the smile from my face for long when we were together.

My jacket was folded over the headrest of her seat. I saw her eyeing it.

“I brought the jacket for you,” I told her. This was my excuse, had I needed to provide one, for showing up uninvited this morning. It was cold. She had no jacket. Surely this was an acceptable form of chivalry. “I didn’t want you to get sick or something.”

Chivalry is dead. The future is now, old man.


“I’m not quite that delicate,” she said, staring at my chest rather than my face, as if she were hesitant to meet my eyes. But she put the coat on before I could resort to coaxing or begging.

“Aren’t you?” I muttered to myself.

She looked out at the road as I accelerated toward the school. I could only stand the silence for a few seconds. I had to know what her thoughts were this morning. So much had changed between us since the last time the sun was up.

“What, no twenty questions today?” I asked, keeping it light again.

She smiled, seeming glad that I’d broached the subject. “Do my questions bother you?”

“Not as much as your reactions do,” I told her honestly, smiling in response to hers.

Her mouth turned down. “Do I react badly?”

“No, that’s the problem. You take everything so coolly—it’s unnatural.” Not one scream so far. How could that be? “It makes me wonder what you’re really thinking.” Of course, everything she did or didn’t do made me wonder that.

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

“You edit.”

Her teeth pressed into her lip again. She didn’t seem to notice when she did this—it was an unconscious response to tension. “Not very much.”

Just those words were enough to have my curiosity raging. What did she purposely keep from me?

That if this wasn't a Mormon love story, she'd have gone through 5 sets of AA batteries since seeing you.


“Enough to drive me insane,” I said.

She hesitated, and then whispered, “You don’t want to hear it.”

I had to think for a moment, run through our entire conversation last night, word for word, before I made the connection. Perhaps it took so much concentration because I couldn’t imagine anything that I wouldn’t want her to share with me. And then—because the tone of her voice was the same as last night; there was suddenly pain there again—I remembered. Once, I had asked her not to speak her thoughts. Never say that, I’d all but snarled at her. I had made her cry.…

Was this what she kept from me? The depth of her feelings about me? That my being a monster didn’t matter to her, and that she thought it was too late for her to change her mind?

I was unable to speak, because the joy and pain were too strong for words, the conflict between them too wild to allow for a coherent response. It was silent in the car except for the steady rhythms of her heart and lungs.

If he tried to speak now with such conflicting emotions, his voice would probably come out sounding like a whale.


“Where’s the rest of your family?” she asked suddenly.

I took a deep breath—registering the scent in the car with true pain for the first time; I was getting used to this, I realized with satisfaction—and forced myself to be casual again.

“They took Rosalie’s car.” I parked in the open spot next to the car in question. I hid my smile as I watched her eyes grow round. “Ostentatious, isn’t it?”

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

Rosalie would have enjoyed Bella’s reaction… if she were being objective about Bella, which probably wouldn’t happen.

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

No you don't.


Of course, Bella was totally oblivious to the inherent contradiction of my own car. It was no accident we were most often seen in the Volvo—a car celebrated above all for its safety. Safety, the one thing vampires would never need from a vehicle. Few would recognize the less common racing edition, not to mention the aftermarket work we’d done.

That's loving hilarious. "Carlisle, I need to buy this Volvo. Everyone will immediately recognize it for its excellent safety record and never suspect us of being vampires!"


“You don’t succeed,” she told me, and then she laughed a carefree laugh.

The blithe, wholly untroubled sound of her laughter warmed my hollow chest.

“So why did Rosalie drive today if it’s more conspicuous?” she wondered.

“Hadn’t you noticed? I’m breaking all the rules now.”

My answer should have been mildly frightening—so of course, Bella smiled at it.

What was that meant to imply? What rules are you suggesting you're about to flaunt to try and scare her?


Once out of the car, I walked as close to her as I dared, watching carefully for any sign that my proximity upset her. Twice her hand twitched toward me and she snatched it back. It looked like she wanted to touch me.… My breath sped.

“Why do you have cars like that at all? If you’re looking for privacy?” she asked as we walked.

“An indulgence,” I admitted. “We all like to drive fast.”

“Figures,” she mumbled, her tone sour.

She didn’t look up to see my answering grin.

Nuh-uh! I don’t believe this! How the hell did Bella pull this off?

Jessica’s mental boggling interrupted my thoughts. She was waiting for Bella, taking refuge from the rain under the edge of the cafeteria’s roof, with Bella’s winter jacket over her arm. Her eyes were wide with disbelief.

Bella noticed her, too, in the next moment. A faint pink touched her cheek when Bella registered Jessica’s expression.

“Hey, Jessica. Thanks for remembering,” Bella greeted her. Jessica handed her the jacket wordlessly.

I would be polite to Bella’s friends, whether or not they were good friends. “Good morning, Jessica.”


Jessica’s eyes popped even wider, but she did not flinch or take a step back as I expected. Though she’d often found me alluring in the past, she’d always kept a safe distance before, the way all our admirers unconsciously did. It was strange and amusing… and, honestly, a bit embarrassing… to realize how much being near Bella had softened me. It seemed as though no one was afraid of me anymore. If Emmett found out about this, he would be laughing for the next century.

And he will be!


“Er… hi,” Jessica mumbled, and her eyes flashed to Bella’s face, full of significance. “I guess I’ll see you in Trig.”

You are so going to spill. Details. I have to have details! Edward freaking CULLEN!!

Bella’s mouth twitched. “Yeah, I’ll see you then.”

Jessica’s thoughts ran wild as she hurried to her first class, peeking back at us now and then. The whole story. I’m not accepting anything less. Did they plan to meet up last night? Are they dating? How long? How could she keep this a secret? Why would she want to? It can’t be a casual thing—she has to be seriously into him. I will find out. I wonder if she’s made out with him? Oh, swoon.… Jessica’s thoughts were suddenly disjointed, and she let wordless fantasies swirl through her head. I winced at her speculations, and not just because she’d replaced Bella with herself in the mental pictures.

This is not how teenagers think.


It couldn’t be like that. And yet I… I wanted…

I resisted making the admission, even to myself. In how many wrong ways would I want Bella? Which one would end up killing her?

The one where you aren't taught about contraceptives.


I shook my head and tried to lighten up.

“What are you going to tell her?” I asked Bella.

“Hey!” she whispered fiercely. “I thought you couldn’t read my mind!”

“I can’t.” I stared at her, surprised, trying to make sense of her words. Ah—we must have been thinking the same thing at the same time. “However,” I told her, “I can read hers—she’ll be waiting to ambush you in class.”

Bella groaned, and then let the jacket slide off her shoulders. I didn’t realize that she was giving it back at first—I wouldn’t have asked for it; I would rather she kept it… a token—so I was too slow to offer her my help.She handed me the jacket and put her arms through her own.

“So, what are you going to tell her?” I pressed.

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

I smiled, and shook my head. I wanted to hear what she was thinking without a prompt. “That’s not fair.”

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

Right—she didn’t like double standards.

That's rich.


“She wants to know if we’re secretly dating,” I said slowly. “And she wants to know how you feel about me.”

Her eyebrows shot up—not startled, but ingenuous now. Playing innocent.

“Yikes,” she murmured. “What should I say?”

“Hmmm.” She always tried to make me give away more than she did. I pondered how to respond.

A wayward lock of her hair, slightly damp from the fog, draped across her shoulder and curled around the place where her collarbone was hidden by the ridiculous sweater. It drew my eyes, pulled them across the other hidden lines.…

I reached for it carefully, not touching her skin—the morning was chill enough without my touch—and twisted it back into place in her untidy bun so that it wouldn’t distract me again. I remembered when Mike Newton had touched her hair, and my jaw flexed at the memory. She had flinched away from him then. Her reaction now was nothing the same; instead, there was a rush of blood under her skin, and a sudden, uneven thumping of her heart.

In the distance, Mike Newton angrily pulls a leaf off a branch.


I tried to hide my smile as I answered her question.

“I suppose you could say yes to the first… if you don’t mind.” Her choice, always her choice. “It’s easier than any other explanation.”

“I don’t mind,” she whispered. Her heart had not found its normal rhythm yet.

“And as for her other question…” I couldn’t hide my smile now. “Well, I’ll be listening to hear the answer to that one myself.”

Let Bella consider that. I held back my laugh as shock crossed her face.

I turned quickly, before she could ask any more questions. I had a difficult time not giving her whatever she asked for. And I wanted to hear her thoughts, not mine.

“I’ll see you at lunch,” I called back to her over my shoulder, an excuse to check that she was still staring after me. Her mouth was hanging open. I turned again and laughed.


As I paced away, I was vaguely aware of the shocked and speculative thoughts that swirled around me—eyes bouncing back and forth between Bella’s face and my retreating figure. I paid them little attention. I couldn’t concentrate. It was hard enough to keep my feet moving at an acceptable speed as I crossed the soggy grass to my first class. I wanted to run—really run, so fast that I would disappear, so fast that it would feel like flying. Part of me was flying already.

I put the jacket on when I got to class, letting her fragrance swim thick around me. I would burn now—let the scent desensitize me—and it would be easier to ignore it later, when I was with her again at lunch.

This is basically like rubbing a steak covered in heroin all over yourself to remind yourself of your crush.


It was a good thing that my teachers no longer bothered to call on me. Today might have been the day they caught me out, unprepared and answerless. My mind was in so many places this morning; only my body was in the classroom.

Of course I was watching Bella. That was becoming natural—as automatic as breathing, something I barely thought about consciously. I heard her conversation with a demoralized Mike Newton. She quickly directed the conversation to Jessica, and I grinned so wide that Rob Sawyer, who sat at the desk to my right, flinched visibly and slid deeper into his seat, away from me.

Ugh. Creepy.

Well, I hadn’t lost it entirely.

So charming.


I was also loosely monitoring Jessica, watching her refine her questions for Bella. I could barely wait for fourth period, ten times as eager and anxious as the curious human girl who wanted fresh gossip.

And I was listening to Angela Weber. I had not forgotten the gratitude I felt to her—for thinking nothing but kind things toward Bella in the first place, and then for her help last night. So I waited through the morning, looking for something she wanted. I assumed it would be easy; like any other human, she must desire some bauble or toy. Several, probably. I would deliver something anonymously and call us even.

"These silly humans, wanting some little shiny bauble to placate them. Why, I could never try to demonstrate my love for my girlfriend by just showering her in expensive toys whether or not she wants them!"


But Angela proved almost as unaccommodating as Bella with her thoughts. She was oddly content for a teenager. Happy. Perhaps this was the reason for her unusual kindness—she was one of those rare people who had what she wanted and wanted what she had. If she wasn’t paying attention to her teachers and her notes, she was thinking of the twin little brothers she was taking to the beach this weekend—anticipating their excitement with almost maternal pleasure. She cared for them often, but was not resentful of this fact. It was very sweet.

But not really helpful to me.

If only there was a local who could imprint on them....


There had to be something she wanted. I would just have to keep looking. But later. It was time for Bella’s Trigonometry class with Jessica.

I wasn’t watching where I was going as I made my way to English. Jessica was already in her seat, both her feet tapping impatiently as she waited for Bella to arrive.

Conversely, once I settled into my assigned seat in the classroom, I became utterly still. I had to remind myself to fidget now and then to keep up the charade. It was difficult; my thoughts were so focused on Jessica’s. I hoped she would pay attention, really try to read Bella’s face for me.

Jessica’s tapping intensified when Bella walked into the room.

She looks… glum. Why? Maybe there’s nothing going on with Edward Cullen. That would be a disappointment. Except… then he’s still available.… If he’s suddenly interested in dating, I don’t mind helping out with that.

Bella’s face didn’t look glum, it looked reluctant. She was worried—she knew I would hear all of this.

She's also worried because Edward's about to just repeat an entire loving scene from the first book!


“Tell me everything!” Jess demanded while Bella was still removing her jacket to hang it on the back of her seat. She was moving with deliberation, unwillingly.

Ugh, she’s so slow. Let’s get to the juicy stuff!

“What do you want to know?” Bella stalled as she took her seat.

“What happened last night?”

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

And then? C’mon, there has to be more than that! She’s lying anyway, I know that. I’m going to call her on it.

“How did you get home so fast?”

I watched Bella roll her eyes at the suspicious Jessica. “He drives like a maniac. It was terrifying.”

She smiled a tiny smile, and I laughed out loud, interrupting Mr. Mason’s announcements. I tried to turn the laugh into a cough, but no one was fooled. Mr. Mason shot me an irritated look, but I didn’t even bother to listen to the thought behind it. I was hearing Jessica.

Meyer is retconning here. There was no eye-rolling or smiling from Bella's POV. She was pointing out his crazy driving specifically to get a dig in at Edward, knowing he'd be spying on her.


Huh. She sounds like she’s telling the truth. Why is she making me pull this out of her, word by word? I would be bragging at the top of my lungs.

Because it extends the length of the book.


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

Jessica watched confusion cross Bella’s expression, and was disappointed at how genuine it seemed.

“No—I was very surprised to see him there,” Bella told her.

How much did Meyer copy and paste from Twilight? So much that the italics are properly reversed here!


What is going on? “But he picked you up for school today?” There has to be more to the story.

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

That’s not very much fu
n, Jessica thought, disappointed again.

I was tired of her line of questioning—I wanted to hear something I didn’t already know. I hoped she wasn’t so dissatisfied that she would skip the questions I was waiting for.

"I wanted to hear something I didn't already know"



“So are you going out again?” Jessica demanded.

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

Hmm. He sure is going out of his way to… well, take care of her, sort of. There must be something there on his side if not on hers. How could THAT be? Bella’s crazy.

Jessica answered Bella’s question.

“Well, then, yes,” Bella concluded.

“Wow… Edward Cullen.” Whether she likes him or not, this is major.

The tone of her voice encouraged Jessica. Finally—she sounds like she gets it!

I wondered if Jessica was reading Bella’s tone correctly. I wished she would ask Bella to explain what she meant, instead of assuming.

Silly Edward. If we all did that, there would be no pointless conflict!


“Wait!” Jessica said, suddenly remembering her most vital question. “Has he kissed you?” Please say yes. And then describe every second!

“No,” Bella mumbled, and then she looked down at her hands, her face falling. “It’s not like that.”

drat. I wish… ha. Looks like she does, too.

I frowned. Bella did look upset about something, but it couldn’t be disappointment, as Jessica assumed. She couldn’t want that. Not knowing what she knew. She couldn’t want to be that close to my teeth. For all she knew, I had fangs.

I shuddered.

I had made a face-eating crack when reading this in the first book. I guess Meyer thought the same.


“Do you think Saturday…?” Jessica prodded.

Bella looked even more frustrated as she said, “I really doubt it.”

Yeah, she does wish. That sucks for her.

Was it because I was watching all this through the filter of Jessica’s perceptions that it seemed as though she was right? For a half second I was distracted by the idea, the impossibility, of what it would be like to try to kiss Bella. My lips to her lips, cold stone to warm, yielding silk.…

And then she dies.

This would have been a much better ending to the story, too.


I shook my head, wincing, and refocused.

“What did you talk about?”Did you talk to him, or did you make him drag every ounce of information out of you, like this?

I smiled ruefully. Jessica wasn’t far off.

Even Jessica is getting annoyed by the main characters.


“I don’t know, Jess, lots of stuff. We talked about the English essay a little.”

A very little. I smiled wider.

Oh, c’MON. “Please, Bella! Give me some details.”

Bella deliberated for a moment. “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.”

What a strange detail to share. I was surprised Bella had even noticed. It seemed an inconsequential thing.

"Humans are all beneath me!"


Interesting.… “That’s a good sign. Was she pretty?”

Hmm. Jessica thought more of it than I did.

“Very,” Bella told her. “And probably nineteen or twenty.”

Jessica was momentarily distracted by a memory of Mike on their date Monday night—Mike being a little too friendly with a waitress whom Jessica did not consider pretty at all. She shoved the memory away and, stifling her irritation, returned to her quest for details.

Meyer is going into overtime trying to get us to hate all of Bella's "friends."


“Even better. He must like you.”

think so,” Bella said slowly, and I was on the edge of my seat, my body rigidly still. “But it’s hard to tell. He’s always so cryptic.”

I must not have been as transparently obvious and out of control as I’d thought. Still, observant as she was… how could she not realize that I was in love with her? I sifted through our conversation, almost surprised that I hadn’t said the words out loud. It had felt as though that knowledge was the subtext of every communication between us.

Oh, you're transparently out of control. You're just also a freak.


Wow. How do you sit there across from a male model and make conversation? “I don’t know how you’re brave enough to be alone with him,” Jessica said.

Shock flashed across Bella’s face. “Why?”

Weird reaction. What does she think I meant? “He’s so…” What’s the right word? “Intimidating. I wouldn’t know what to say to him.” I couldn’t even speak English to him today, and all he said was good morning. I must have sounded like such an idiot.

Bella smiled. “I do have some trouble with incoherency when I’m around him.”

She must be trying to make Jessica feel better. She was almost unnaturally self-possessed when we were together.

“Oh well,” Jessica sighed. “He is unbelievably gorgeous.”

Bella’s face was suddenly colder. Her eyes flashed the same way they did when she resented some injustice. Jessica didn’t process the change in her expression.

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

Oooh. Now we’re getting somewhere. “Really? Like what?”

Bella gnawed her lip for a moment. “I can’t explain it right,” she finally said. “But he’s even more unbelievable behind the face.” She looked away from Jessica, her eyes slightly unfocused, as if she was staring at something very far away.

Drama pose!


I was reminded of how it felt when Carlisle or Esme praised me beyond what I deserved. This emotion was similar, but more intense, more consuming.

Pro tip for writers: if you want your character to be someone with poor self-esteem who doesn't believe themselves worthy of praise until they learn their true value, you have to make someone who actually has value to find.


Sell stupid somewhere else—there’s nothing better than that face! Unless it’s his body. Swoon. “Is that possible?” Jessica giggled.

Bella didn’t turn. She continued to stare into the distance, ignoring Jessica.

A normal person would be gloating. Maybe if I keep the questions simple. Ha ha. Like I’m talking to a kindergartener. “So you like him, then?”

Just really laying it on thick how much we need to hate Jessica.


I was rigid again.

I bet.


Bella didn’t look at Jessica. “Yes.”

“I mean, do you
really like him?”


Look at that blush!

much do you like him?” Jessica demanded.

The English room could have gone up in flames and I wouldn’t have noticed.

Bella’s face was bright red now—I could almost feel the heat from the mental picture.

“Too much,” she whispered. “More than he likes me. But I don’t see how I can help that.”

Shoot! What did Mr. Varner just ask? “Um—which number, Mr. Varner?"

It was good that Jessica could no longer quiz Bella. I needed a minute.

What on earth was the girl thinking now? “More than he likes me”? How did she come up with that? “But I don’t see how I can help that”? What was that supposed to mean? I couldn’t fit a rational explanation to the words. They were practically senseless.

It seemed I couldn’t take anything for granted. Obvious things, things that made perfect sense, somehow got twisted up and turned backward in that bizarre brain of hers.

I legitimately can't tell what I'm supposed to think here. Is Meyer meant to be roasting her own self-insert, or is Edward just so loving stupid as to not get it?


I glared at the clock, gritting my teeth. How could mere minutes feel so impossibly long to an immortal? Where was my perspective?

My jaw was tight throughout Mr. Varner’s entire Trigonometry lesson. I heard more of that than the lecture in my own class. Bella and Jessica didn’t speak again, but Jessica peeked at Bella several times, and once noticed that her face was brilliant scarlet again for no apparent reason.

Lunch couldn’t come fast enough.

Dec 4, 2011

I am the one lascivious
With magic potion niveous

chitoryu12 posted:

This weird thing about the hag/harpy-like Fates was the previous obsession Edward had, before the final draft added the pomegranate seeds. Now we have two dueling, badly written Greek mythology references.

I hate the Persephone metaphor so much. It doesn't make sense! He didn't kidnap her, she's not trying to leave him, and there's no sort of timeshare deal where both he and her mother get her for 6 months. The Romeo & Juliet thing was clunky, but at least the metaphor of star-crossed lovers fit the situation.

Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment

Edward is so weird. I could buy it if he'd been dead for centuries but he's so young and he talks like an alien.

Apr 23, 2014

hyperhazard posted:

I hate the Persephone metaphor so much. It doesn't make sense! He didn't kidnap her, she's not trying to leave him, and there's no sort of timeshare deal where both he and her mother get her for 6 months. The Romeo & Juliet thing was clunky, but at least the metaphor of star-crossed lovers fit the situation.

Breaking Dawn had a similarly garbled usage of Greek mythology with Bella trying to describe the Threads of Fate as a metaphor for her life being a tapestry. I've never seen any author so dedicated to using Greek mythology so much while also knowing so little about it.

Apr 23, 2014


I wasn’t sure whether Jessica would get some of the answers I was waiting for when the class was over, but Bella was quicker than she was.

As soon as the bell sounded, Bella turned to Jessica.

“In English, Mike asked me if you said anything about Monday night,” Bella said, a smile pulling at the corners of her lips. I understood this for what it was—offense as the best defense.

Mike asked about me? Joy made Jessica’s mind suddenly unguarded, softer, without its usual snide edge. “You’re kidding! What did you say?”

That was all I was going to get from Jessica today, clearly. Bella was smiling as though she was thinking the same thing. As though she’d won the round.

Well, lunch would be another story.

I moved apathetically through Gym class with Alice, the way we always moved when it came to physical activity with humans. She was my teammate, naturally. No one human would ever choose to partner with one of us. It was the first day of badminton. I sighed with boredom, swinging the racket in slow motion to tap the birdie back to the other side. Lauren Mallory was on the other team; she missed. Alice was twirling her racket like a baton, staring at the ceiling. She took a step closer to the net, and Lauren flinched two steps back.

We all hated Gym, Emmett especially. Throwing games was an affront to his personal philosophy. Gym seemed worse today than usual—I felt just as irritated as Emmett always did. Before my head could explode with impatience, Coach Clapp called the games and sent us out early. I was ridiculously grateful that he’d skipped breakfast—a fresh attempt to diet—and the consequent hunger had him in a hurry to leave campus to find a greasy lunch somewhere. He promised himself he would start over tomorrow.…

How many times has Emmett sent the birdie through the skylight and started howling like a gorilla in triumph?


This gave me enough time to get to the math building before Bella’s class ended.

Enjoy yourself, Alice thought as she headed off to meet Jasper. Just a few days more to be patient. I suppose you won’t say hi to Bella for me, will you?

I shook my head, exasperated. Were all psychics so smug?

I don't know, Edward "Telepath" Cullen. Are all psychics so smug?


FYI, it’s going to be sunny on both sides of the sound this weekend. You might want to rearrange your plans.

I sighed as I continued in the opposite direction. Smug, but definitely useful.

I leaned against the wall by the door, waiting. I was close enough that I could hear Jessica’s voice through the bricks as well as her thoughts.

“You’re not sitting with us today, are you?” She looks all… lit up. I bet there’s tons she didn’t tell me.

“I don’t think so,” Bella answered, oddly unsure.

Hadn’t I promised to spend lunch with her? What was she thinking?

That could be the subtitle of this book.


They came out of the classroom together, and both girls’ eyes widened when they saw me. But I could only hear Jessica.

Nice. Wow. Oh yeah, there’s more going on here than she’s telling me.

“See you later, Bella.”

Bella walked toward me, pausing a step away, still unsure. Her skin was pink across her cheekbones. I knew her well enough now to be sure that there was no fear behind her hesitation. Apparently, this was about some gulf she imagined between her feelings and mine. More than he likes me. Absurd!

I bet this guy imagines himself in a day cravat and waistcoat.


“Hello,” I said, my voice a tad curt.

What's worse than getting mad at something your partner did in a dream that you had? Spying on them being insecure and getting mad at them for that!


Her face got brighter pink. “Hi.”

She didn’t seem inclined to say anything else, so I led the way to the cafeteria and she walked silently beside me.

The jacket had worked—her scent was not the blow it usually was. It was just an intensification of the pain I already felt. I could ignore it more easily than I once would have believed possible.

Bella was restless as we waited in line, toying absently with the zipper on her jacket and shifting nervously from foot to foot. She glanced at me often, but whenever she met my gaze, she looked down as if embarrassed. Was this because so many people were staring at us? Maybe she could hear the loud whispers—the gossip was verbal as well as mental today.

Or maybe she realized from my expression that I was going to want some explanations.

None of which you deserve, you big baby!


She didn’t say anything until I was assembling her lunch. I didn’t know what she liked—not yet—so I grabbed one of everything.

“What are you doing?” she hissed in a low voice. “You’re not getting all that for me?”

I shook my head, and shoved the tray up to the register. “Half is for me, of course.”

You're still giving her half the menu!


She raised one eyebrow skeptically, but said nothing more as I paid for the food and escorted her to the table we’d sat at last week. It seemed like much more than a few days ago. Everything was different now.

She sat across from me again. I pushed the tray toward her.

“Take whatever you want,” I encouraged.

She picked up an apple and twisted it in her hands, a speculative look on her face.

“I’m curious.”

What a surprise.

“What would you do if someone dared you to eat food?” she continued in a low voice that wouldn’t carry to human ears. Immortal ears were another matter, if those ears were paying attention. I frowned.

“You’re always curious,” I complained. Oh well. It wasn’t as though I hadn’t had to eat before. It was part of the charade. An unpleasant part.

I reached for the closest thing, and held her eyes while I bit off a small piece of whatever it was. Without looking, I couldn’t tell. It was as slimy and chunky and repulsive as any other human food. I chewed swiftly and swallowed, trying to keep the grimace off my face. The gob of food moved slowly and uncomfortably down my throat. I sighed as I thought of how I would have to choke it back up later. Disgusting.


Bella’s expression was shocked. Impressed.

I wanted to roll my eyes. Of course we would have perfected such deceptions. “If someone dared you to eat dirt, you could, couldn’t you?”

Her nose wrinkled and she smiled. “I did once… on a dare. It wasn’t so bad.”

I laughed. “I suppose I’m not surprised.”

He really isn't questioning that?


How could he? That selfish jackass! How could he do this to us? Rosalie’s piercing mental shriek broke through my humor.

“Easy, Rose,” I heard Emmett whisper from across the cafeteria. His arm was around her shoulders, holding her tight into his side—restraining her.

Sorry, Edward, Alice thought guiltily. She could tell Bella knew too much from your conversation… and, well, it would have been worse if I hadn’t told her the truth right away. Trust me on that.

I winced at the mental picture that followed, at what would have happened if I’d admitted to Rosalie that Bella knew I was a vampire when we were at home, where Rosalie didn’t have a façade to keep up. I’d have to hide my Aston Martin somewhere out of state if she didn’t calm down by the time school was over. The sight of my favorite car, mangled and burning, was upsetting—though I knew I’d earned the retribution.



Jasper was not much happier.

I’d deal with the others later. I only had so much time allotted to be with Bella, and I wasn’t going to waste it.

Edward and Bella look cozy, don’t they? As I tried to ignore Rosalie, Jessica’s thoughts intruded. This time I didn’t mind the interruption. Good body language. I’ll give Bella my take later. He’s leaning toward her just the way he should if he’s interested. He looks interested. He looks… perfect. Jessica sighed. Yum.

I met Jessica’s curious eyes, and she looked away nervously, cringing back into her seat. Hmmm. Probably better to stick to Mike. Reality, not fantasy.…

Little time had passed, but Bella had noticed my abstraction.

“Jessica’s analyzing everything I do,” I said, using the lesser distraction as my excuse. “She’ll break it down for you later.”

Rosalie’s outrage continued, a caustic inner monologue that barely paused for a second or two as she searched her memory for fresh insults to hurl my way. I forced the sound into the background, determined to be present with Bella.

Rosalie and Edward:


I pushed the plate of food back toward Bella—pizza, I realized—wondering how best to begin. My former frustration flared as her words repeated in my head: More than he likes me. But I don’t see how I can help that.

The super educated genius who never forgets anything forgot what pizza is?


She took a bite from the same slice of pizza. It amazed me how trusting she was. Of course, she didn’t know I was venomous—not that sharing food would hurt her. Still, I expected her to treat me differently. As something other. She never did.

I would start off gently.

“So the waitress was pretty, was she?”

She raised the eyebrow again. “You really didn’t notice?”

As if any woman could hope to capture my attention from Bella. Absurd, again.

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

“Poor girl,” Bella said, smiling.

She liked that I hadn’t found the waitress interesting in any way. I could understand that. How many times had I imagined crippling Mike Newton in the Biology room?

Enough to be worrying!


But she couldn’t honestly believe that her human feelings, the fruition of seventeen short mortal years, could be stronger than this demolition ball of emotion that had wrecked me after a century of emptiness?

Originally that hilarious turn of phrase referred to "immortal passions," which might be the name of a Twilight ripoff novel somewhere.


“Something you said to Jessica…” I couldn’t keep my voice casual. “Well, it bothers me.”

She was immediately on the defensive. “I’m not surprised you heard something you didn’t like. You know what they say about eavesdroppers.”

Eavesdroppers never hear any good of themselves, that was the saying.

“I warned you I would be listening,” I reminded her.

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

Ah, she was thinking of when I’d made her cry. Remorse made my voice thicker. “You did. 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.”

More half lies. I knew I shouldn’t want her to care about me. But I did. Of course I did.

For someone who claims to be remorseful, he's sure coming up with a lot of excuses to never apologize and keep doing it!


“That’s quite a distinction,” she grumbled, scowling at me.

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

“Then what is?”

She leaned toward me, her hand cupped lightly around her throat. It drew my eye—distracted me. How soft that skin must feel…

Focus, I commanded myself.

“Do you truly believe that you care more for me than I do for you?” I asked. The question sounded ridiculous to me, as though the words were scrambled.

She froze for a moment; even her breathing stopped. Then she looked away, blinking quickly. Her breath came in a low gasp.

“You’re doing it again,” she murmured.


“Dazzling me,” she admitted, meeting my eyes warily.

“Oh.” I wasn’t quite sure what to do about that. I was still thrilled that I could dazzle her. But it wasn’t helping the progress of the conversation.

Nothing does!


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

“Are you going to answer the question?” I demanded.

She stared at the table. “Yes.”

That was all she said.

“Yes, you are going to answer, or yes, you really think that?” I asked impatiently.

“Yes, I really think that,” she said without looking up. There was a faint undertone of gloom in her voice. She blushed again, and her teeth moved unconsciously to worry her lip.

Abruptly, I realized that this was very hard for her to admit, because she truly believed it. And I was no better than that coward, Mike, asking her to confirm her feelings before I’d confirmed my own. It didn’t matter that I felt I’d made my side abundantly clear. It hadn’t gotten through to her, and so I had no excuse.

Almost like you're at least as bad and usually worse than all the teens you dismiss as beneath your perfection?


“You’re wrong,” I promised. She must hear the tenderness in my voice.

Bella looked up to me, her eyes opaque, giving nothing away. “You can’t know that,” she whispered.

“What makes you think so?” I wondered. I inferred that she thought I was underestimating her feelings because I couldn’t hear her thoughts. But, in truth, the problem was that she was grossly underestimating mine.

"I'm an absolute psychopath about this!"


She stared back at me, furrowing her brows, teeth against her lip. For the millionth time, I wished desperately that I could just hear her.

As I was about to start begging, she held up a finger to keep me from speaking.

“Let me think,” she requested.

As long as she was simply organizing her thoughts, I could be patient.

Or I could pretend to be.

She pressed her hands together, twining and untwining her slender fingers. She watched her hands as if they belonged to someone else while she spoke.

“Well, aside from the obvious,” she murmured. “Sometimes… 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.” She didn’t look up.

She’d caught that, had she?

Did she realize that it was only weakness and selfishness that kept me here? Did she think less of me for that?

I do!


“Perceptive,” I breathed, and then watched in horror as pain twisted her expression. I hurried to contradict her assumption. “That’s exactly why you’re wrong, though—” I began, and then paused, remembering the first words of her explanation. They bothered me, though I didn’t understand them. “What do you mean, ‘the obvious’?”

“Well, look at me,” she said.

I was looking. All I ever did was look at her.

“I’m absolutely ordinary,” she explained. “Well, except for the bad things like all the near-death experiences and being so clumsy that I’m almost disabled. And look at you.” She fanned the air toward me, like she was making some point so obvious it wasn’t worth spelling out.

She thought she was ordinary? She thought that I was somehow preferable to her? In whose estimation? Silly, narrow-minded, blind humans like Jessica or Ms. Cope? How could she not realize that she was the most beautiful… the most exquisite…? Those words weren’t even enough.

And she had no idea.

Okay Stephenie, let's calm down.


“You don’t see yourself very clearly, you know,” I told her. “I’ll admit you’re dead-on about the bad things.…” I laughed humorlessly. I did not find the evil fate who hunted her comical. The clumsiness, however, was sort of funny. Sweet. Would she believe me if I told her she was beautiful, inside and out? Perhaps she would find corroboration more persuasive. “But you didn’t hear what every human male in this school was thinking on your first day.”

Ah, the hope, the thrill, the eagerness of those thoughts. The speed with which they’d turned to impossible fantasies. Impossible, because she wanted none of them.

I was the one she said yes to.

My smile must have been smug.

Always is!


Her face was blank with surprise. “I don’t believe it,” she mumbled.

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

She wasn’t used to compliments, I could see that. She flushed, and changed the subject. “But I’m not saying goodbye.”

“Don’t you see? That’s what proves me right. I care the most, because if I can do it…” Would I ever be unselfish enough to do the right thing? I shook my head in despair. I would have to find the strength. She deserved a life. Not what Alice had seen coming for her. “If leaving is the right thing to do…” And it had to be the right thing, didn’t it? Bella didn’t belong with me. She’d done nothing to deserve my underworld. “Then I’ll hurt myself to keep from hurting you, to keep you safe.”

As I said the words, I willed them to be true.

She glared at me. Somehow, my words had angered her. “And you don’t think I would do the same?” she demanded furiously.

So furious—so soft and fragile. How could she ever hurt anyone? “You’d never have to make the choice,” I told her, depressed anew by the vast difference between us.

Are you kidding? This girl starts preparing to kill herself in battle days in advance!


She stared at me, concern replacing the anger in her eyes and bringing out the little pucker between them.

There was something truly wrong with the order of the universe if someone so good and so breakable did not merit a guardian angel to keep her out of trouble.

Well, I thought with dark humor, at least she has a guardian vampire.

How could Stephenie Meyer fellate herself like this with a straight face after writing the four main books?


I smiled. How I loved my excuse to stay. “Of course, keeping you safe is beginning to feel like a full-time occupation that requires my constant presence.”

She smiled, too. “No one has tried to do away with me today,” she said lightly, and then her face turned speculative for half a second before her eyes went opaque again.

“Yet,” I added dryly.

“Yet,” she agreed—to my surprise. I’d expected her to deny any need for protection.

Across the cafeteria, Rosalie’s complaints were gaining in volume rather than dwindling.

That's our girl!


Sorry, Alice thought again. She must have seen me wince.

But hearing her reminded me that I had some business to attend to.

“I have another question for you,” I said.

“Shoot,” Bella said, smiling.

“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?”

She scowled at me. “You know, I haven’t forgiven you for the Tyler thing yet. 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.”

I laughed now, remembering her aghast expression. Nothing I’d told her about my own dark story had ever made her look so horrified.

"I can only truly be happy when I feel big and powerful!"


“If I’d asked you, would you have turned me down?”

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

How strange. “Why would you do that?”

She shook her head, as if she was disappointed that I did not understand at once. “You’ve never seen me in Gym, I guess, but I would have thought that you would understand.”

Ah. “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. It’s all in the leading.”

For a brief fraction of a second, I was overwhelmed by the idea of holding her in my arms at a dance—where she would surely wear something pretty and delicate rather than this hideous sweater.

I would take that as a challenge.


With perfect clarity, I remembered how her body had felt under mine after I’d thrown her out of the way of the oncoming van. Stronger than the panic or the desperation, I could remember that sensation. She’d been so warm and so soft, fitting easily into my own stone shape…

I wrenched myself back from the memory.

“But you never told me—” I said quickly, preventing her from arguing with me, as she clearly intended to do. “Are you resolved on going to Seattle, or do you mind if we do something different?”

Devious—giving her a choice without giving her the option of getting away from me for the day. Hardly fair. But I had made her a promise last night. Too casually, too thoughtlessly, but still… if I was ever going to earn the trust she’d given me despite my unworthiness, I would have to keep every promise I could. Even if the idea terrified me.

The sun would be shining Saturday. I could show her the real me, if I was brave enough to endure her horror and disgust. I knew just the place to take such a risk.

No, we never get a reasonable explanation for why Edward thinks sparkling will cause horror and disgust.


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

A qualified yes. What would she want from me?


“Can I drive?”

Was this her idea of humor? “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.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “Of all the things about me that could frighten you, you worry about my driving.” Truly, her brain worked backward. I shook my head, disgusted. Why couldn’t she fear the right things? Why couldn’t I want her to?

So there's most of a page from the original draft that's cut out here. Alice not only shows Edward the vision of him in the meadow clearing, now with Bella clearly a part of it, but begins mentally screaming how much she loves Bella until Edward gets uncomfortable. It's a really bizarre moment that's meant to be the explanation for why Edward is so panicky and on-edge for these next sentences.


I wasn’t able to keep up the playful tone of our banter. “Won’t you want to tell your father that you’re spending the day with me?” I asked, darkness seeping into my voice as I thought of all the reasons that was important, already guessing what her answer would be.

“With Charlie, less is always more,” Bella said, certain of this fact. “Where are we going, anyway?”

“The weather will be nice,” I told her slowly, fighting the panic and indecision. How much would I regret this choice? “So I’ll be staying out of the public eye… and you can stay with me, if you’d like to.”

Bella caught the significance at once. Her eyes were bright and eager. “And you’ll show me what you meant, about the sun?”

Maybe, like so many times before, her reaction would be the opposite of what I expected. I smiled at that possibility, struggling to return to the lighter moment. “Yes. But”—she hadn’t said yes—“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.”

"Liberals! Atheists! The homosexual community! Single women!"


Her lips pressed together; she was offended. “Phoenix is three times bigger than Seattle—just in population. In physical size—”

“But apparently your number wasn’t up in Phoenix,” I said, cutting off her justifications. “So I’d rather you stayed near me.”

She could stay forever and it would not be long enough.

I shouldn’t think that way. We didn’t have forever. The passing seconds counted more than they ever had before; each second changed her while I remained untouched. Physically, at least.

“As it happens, I don’t mind being alone with you,” she said.

No—because her instincts were backward.



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

“Why in the world would I do that?” she asked, appalled by the idea.

I glared at her, though the anger was, as usual, directed at myself. How I wished I had a different answer for her.

“To give me some small incentive to bring you back,” I hissed. She should give me that much—one witness to compel me to be cautious.

Oh yeah, this wasn't a joke or anything! Edward really was threatening that he'd murder her out in the woods if he didn't have incentive not to!


Bella swallowed loudly and stared at me for a long moment. What did she see?

“I think I’ll take my chances,” she said.

Ugh! Did she get some thrill out of risking her life? Some shot of adrenaline she craved?



Will you shut up! Rosalie’s mental scream peaked, breaking into my absorption. I saw what she thought of this conversation, of exactly how much Bella already knew. I glanced back automatically to see Rosalie glowering furiously, but I realized I simply did not care. Let her destroy the car. It was just a toy.

“Let’s talk about something else,” Bella suggested suddenly. I looked back at her, wondering how she could be so oblivious to what really counted. Why wouldn’t she see me for the monster I was? Rosalie certainly did.

“What do you want to talk about?”

Her eyes darted left and then right, as if checking to make sure there were no eavesdroppers. She must be planning to introduce another myth-related topic. Her gaze froze for a second and her body stiffened, and then she looked back to me.

“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.”

So oblivious. I stared at her, raising one eyebrow.

“Bears?” she gasped.

I smiled wryly, watching that sink in. Would this make her take me seriously? Would anything?

Just tell her everything. It’s not like we have rules, Rosalie’s thoughts hissed at me. I struggled to not hear her.

Rosalie is really regretting not killing this girl.


Bella pulled her expression together. “You know, bears are not in season,” she said severely, narrowing her eyes.

“If you read carefully, the laws only cover hunting with weapons.”

She lost control over her face again for a moment. Her lips fell open.

“Bears?” she said again, a tentative question this time rather than a gasp of shock.

“Grizzly is Emmett’s favorite.”

I watched her eyes as she worked through the astonishment and recovered.

“Hmm,” she murmured. She took a bite of the pizza, looking down. She chewed thoughtfully, and then took a drink.

“So,” she said, finally looking up. “What’s your favorite?”

I supposed I should have expected something like that, but I hadn’t.

“Mountain lion,” I answered brusquely.

“Ah,” she said in a neutral tone. Her heartbeat continued steady and even, as if we were discussing a favorite restaurant.

Fine, then. If she wanted to act like this was nothing unusual…

“Of course, we have to be careful not to impact the environment with injudicious hunting,” I told her, my voice detached and clinical. “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?”

Remember in Breaking Dawn when they were talking about how great it would be to finally have some exotic species to kill during their trip to the Amazon?


She listened with a politely interested expression, as if I were a guide in a museum describing a painting. I had to smile.

“Where indeed,” she murmured calmly, taking another bite of pizza.

“Early spring is Emmett’s favorite bear season,” I continued in the same tone. “They’re just coming out of hibernation, so they’re more irritable.”

Seventy years later, and he still hadn’t gotten over losing that first match.

I had made the joke, but I was right! It really is just a permanent grudge against bearkind!


“Nothing more fun than an irritated grizzly bear,” Bella agreed, nodding solemnly.

I couldn’t hold back a chuckle as I shook my head at her illogical calm. It had to be put on. “Tell me what you’re really thinking, please.”

“I’m trying to picture it—but I can’t,” she said, the crease appearing between her eyes. “How do you hunt a bear without weapons?”

“Oh, we have weapons,” I told her, and then flashed her a wide smile. I expected her to recoil, but she was very still, watching 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.”

She glanced toward the table where the others sat, and shuddered.

Finally. And then I laughed at myself, because I knew part of me was wishing she would stay oblivious.

Her dark eyes were wide and deep as she stared at me now. “Are you like a bear, too?” she asked in an almost-whisper.

“More like the lion, or so they tell me,” I told her, striving to sound detached again. “Perhaps our preferences are indicative.”

So what, Carlisle eats capybara? Esme eats crying?


Her lips pulled up a tiny bit at the corners. “Perhaps,” she repeated.

And then her head leaned to the side, and curiosity was easy to read in her eyes. “Is that something I might get to see?”

For a moment, it was so clear in my head—Bella’s crumpled, bloodless body in my arms—as though I were the one who had seen the vision, rather than just watching it in Alice’s mind. But I didn’t need foresight to illustrate this horror; the conclusion was obvious.

“Absolutely not,” I snarled at her.

She jerked away from me, shocked and frightened by my sudden rage.

I leaned back, too, wanting to put space between us. She was never going to see, was she? She wouldn’t do one thing to help me keep her alive.

“Too scary for me?” she asked, even-voiced. Her heart, however, was still moving in double time.

“If that were it, I would take you out tonight,” I retorted through my teeth. “You need a healthy dose of fear. Nothing could be more beneficial for you.”

And if you were expecting a better explanation for Edward's emotions randomly changing sentence by sentence, nope! He just gets a fleeting thought in his mind and immediately begins growling and baring his teeth and making threats.


“Then why?” she demanded, undeterred.

I glared at her blackly, waiting for her to be afraid. I was afraid.

Her eyes remained curious, impatient, nothing more. She waited for her answer, not giving in.

But our hour was up.

“Later,” I snapped, and I rose to my feet. “We’re going to be late.”

She looked around, disoriented, as though she’d forgotten we were at lunch. As though she’d forgotten we were even at school and was surprised that we were not alone in some private place. I understood that feeling exactly. It was hard to remember the rest of the world when I was with her.

She got up quickly, bobbling once, and threw her bag over her shoulder.

“Later, then,” she said, and I could see the determination in the set of her mouth. She would hold me to that.

chitoryu12 fucked around with this message at 21:52 on Oct 1, 2020

sweet geek swag
Mar 29, 2006

Adjust lasers to FUN!

You have a broken quote break in the third to last quote block.

Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment

I'd like to expand on this thought that Carlisle is a capybara at heart. Friend to all? Chill?

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 12: Complications


Bella and I walked silently to Biology. We passed Angela Weber, lingering on the sidewalk, discussing an assignment with a boy from her Trigonometry class. I scanned her thoughts perfunctorily, expecting more disappointment, only to be surprised by their wistful tenor.

Ah, so there was something Angela wanted. Unfortunately, it wasn’t something that could be easily gift wrapped.

I felt strangely comforted for a moment, hearing Angela’s hopeless yearning. A sense of kinship passed through me, and I was, in that second, at one with the kind human girl.

It was oddly consoling to know that I wasn’t the only one living out a tragic love story. Heartbreak was everywhere.

Yours is absolutely nothing like hers, though!


In the next second, I was abruptly and thoroughly irritated. Because Angela’s story didn’t have to be tragic. She was human and he was human and the difference that seemed so insurmountable in her head was truly ridiculous compared to my own situation. There was no reason for her broken heart. What a wasteful sorrow. Why shouldn’t this one story have a happy ending? I wanted to give her a gift.…

Well, I would give her what she wanted. Knowing what I did of human nature, it probably wouldn’t even be very difficult. I sifted through the consciousness of the boy beside her, the object of her affections, and he did not seem unwilling, he was just stymied by the same difficulty she was.

All I would have to do was plant the suggestion.

Many, many pages ago, I brought up Edward's offhand mention of "rewarding" Angela for being kind to Bella. And here's her reward: she gets a boyfriend! No happy single ladies in Meyer's canon! All must be paired up or perish!


The plan formed easily; the script wrote itself without effort on my part. I would need Emmett’s help—getting him to go along with this was the only real difficulty. Human nature was so much easier to manipulate than immortal nature.

I was pleased with my solution, with my gift for Angela. It was a nice diversion from my own problems. Would that mine were as easily fixed.

My mood was slightly improved as Bella and I took our seats. Maybe I should be more positive. Maybe there was some solution out there for us that was escaping me, the way Angela’s obvious solution was so invisible to her. Not likely.… But why waste time with hopelessness? I didn’t have time to waste when it came to Bella. Each second mattered.

Mr. Banner entered pulling an ancient TV and VCR. He was skipping through a section he wasn’t particularly interested in—genetic disorders—by showing a movie for the next three days. Lorenzo’s Oil was not a cheerful piece, but that didn’t stop the excitement in the room. No notes, no testable material. The humans exulted.

YouTube comments indicate that Lorenzo's Oil was indeed common in classrooms, but it must have been before my time because I never saw it. Written and directed by George Miller (creator of the Happy Feet and Max Max series, because the guy has range), it's the true story of two parents whose son suddenly begins dying of the degenerative disease adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). Undeterred by claims of its incurable nature, the two worked tirelessly with scientist Hugo Moser to discover the titular "oil" that would help their son. Lorenzo would indeed survive until the age of 30 before accidentally aspirating food and dying, and he avoided the worst locked-in symptoms, but Lorenzo's oil has mixed results in practice and is far from the miracle the film portrays it as. Even Moser has been cautious not to get anyone's hopes up.


It didn’t matter to me, either way. I hadn’t been planning on paying attention to anything but Bella.

I did not pull my chair away from hers today to give myself space to breathe. Instead, I sat close beside her like any normal human would. Closer than we sat inside my car, close enough that the left side of my body felt submerged in the heat from her skin.

It was a strange experience, both enjoyable and nerve-racking, but I preferred this to sitting across the table from her. It was more than I was used to, and yet I quickly realized that it was not enough. I was not satisfied. Being this close to her only made me want to be closer still.

The sinfulness


I had accused her of being a magnet for danger. Right now, it felt as though that was the literal truth. I was danger, and with every inch I allowed myself nearer to her, her attraction grew in force.

And then Mr. Banner turned the lights out.


It was odd how much of a difference this made, considering that the lack of light meant little to my eyes. I could still see just as perfectly as before. Every detail of the room was clear.

So why the sudden shock of electricity in the air? Was it because I knew that I was the only one who could see clearly? That both Bella and I were invisible to the others? As though we were alone, just the two of us, hidden in the dark room, sitting so close beside each other.

My hand moved toward her without my permission. Just to touch her hand, to hold it in the darkness. Would that be such a horrific mistake? If my skin bothered her, she only had to pull away.

I yanked my hand back, folded my arms tightly across my chest, and clenched my hands closed. No mistakes, I’d promised myself. If I held her hand, I would only want more—another insignificant touch, another move closer to her. I could feel that. A new kind of desire was growing in me, working to override my self-control.

No mistakes.

This is supposed to get its tension from Edward being at risk of killing her (and by extension the entire classroom), but it just reads like a Mormon romance novel where he's tempted by the forbidden touch of the opposite sex.


Bella folded her arms securely across her own chest, and her hands balled up into fists, identical to mine.

What are you thinking? I was dying to whisper the words to her, but the room was too quiet to get away with even a whispered conversation.

The movie began, lightening the darkness just a bit. Bella glanced up at me. She noted the rigid way I held my body—just like hers—and smiled. Her lips parted slightly, and her eyes seemed full of warm invitations.

Or perhaps I was seeing what I wanted to see.

I smiled back. Her breathing caught with a low gasp and she looked quickly away.

That made it worse. I didn’t know her thoughts, but I was suddenly positive that I had been right before, and that she wanted me to touch her. She felt this dangerous desire just as I did.

See what I mean?


Between her body and mine, the electricity hummed.

She didn’t move all through the hour, holding her stiff, controlled pose as I held mine. Occasionally she would peek at me again, and the humming current would jolt through me with a sudden shock.

The hour passed—slowly, and yet not slowly enough. This was so new, I could have sat like this with her for days, just to experience the feeling fully.

I had a dozen different arguments with myself while the minutes passed, rationality struggling with desire.

Finally, Mr. Banner turned the lights on again.

Under the bright fluorescents, the atmosphere of the room returned to normal. Bella sighed and stretched, flexing her fingers in front of her. It must have been uncomfortable for her to hold that position for so long. It was easier for me—stillness came naturally.


I chuckled at the relieved expression on her face. “Well, that was interesting.”

“Umm,” she murmured, clearly understanding what I referred to, but making no comment. What I wouldn’t give to hear what she was thinking right now.

Really? You've never said that before!


I sighed. No amount of wishing was going to help with that.

“Shall we?” I asked, standing.

She made a face and got unsteadily to her feet, her hands splayed out as if she was afraid she was going to fall.

I could offer her my hand. Or I could place that hand underneath her elbow—just lightly—and steady her. Surely that wouldn’t be such a horrible infraction.

No mistakes.

No insidious contact!


She was very quiet as we walked toward the gym. The crease was in evidence between her eyes, a sign that she was deep in thought. I, too, was thinking deeply.

One touch of my skin wouldn’t hurt her, my selfish side contended.

I could easily moderate the pressure of my hand. It wasn’t exactly difficult. My tactile sense was better developed than a human’s: I could juggle a dozen crystal goblets without breaking any of them; I could stroke a soap bubble without popping it. As long as I was firmly in control of myself.

Bella was like a soap bubble—fragile and ephemeral. Temporary.

"Identical to lots of other soap bubbles."


How long would I be able to justify my presence in her life? How much time did I have? Would I have another chance like this chance, like this moment, like this second? She would not always be within my arm’s reach.

Bella turned to face me at the gym door, and her eyes widened at the expression on my face. She didn’t speak. I looked at myself in the reflection of her eyes and saw the conflict raging in my own. I watched my face change as my better side lost the argument.

My hand lifted without a conscious command for it to do so. As gently as if she were made of the thinnest glass, as if she were fragile as the bubble I’d imagined, my fingers stroked the warm skin that covered her cheekbone. It heated under my touch, and I could feel the pulse of blood speed beneath her transparent skin.

Enough, I ordered, though my hand was aching to shape itself to the side of her face. Enough.

It was difficult to pull my hand back, to stop myself from moving closer to her than I already was. A thousand different possibilities ran through my mind in an instant—a thousand different ways to touch her. The tip of my finger tracing the shape of her lips. My palm cupping her chin. Pulling the clip from her hair and letting it spill out across my hand. My arms winding around her waist, holding her against the length of my body.


I forced myself to turn, to step away from her. My body moved stiffly—unwilling.

He's fighting his body like Dr. Strangelove with his hand.


I let my mind linger behind to watch her as I walked swiftly away, almost running from the temptation. I caught Mike Newton’s thoughts—they were the loudest—while he watched Bella walk past him in oblivion, her eyes unfocused and her cheeks red. He glowered and suddenly my name was mingled with curses in his head. I couldn’t help grinning slightly in response.

My hand was tingling. I flexed it and then curled it into a fist, but it continued to sting painlessly.

No, I hadn’t hurt her—but touching her had still been a mistake.

It felt like simmering coals, as though a dull version of my thirsting burn had spread throughout my entire body.

The next time I was close to her, would I be able to stop myself from touching her again? And if I touched her a second time, would I be able to stop at that?

No more mistakes. That was it. Savor the memory, Edward, I told myself grimly, and keep your hands to yourself. That, or I would have to force myself to leave… somehow. Because I couldn’t allow myself near her if I insisted on making errors.

"I'll just spend eternity sitting and staring and making weird twisted-up faces at how miserable I am."


I took a deep breath and tried to steady my thoughts.

Emmett caught up to me outside the English building.

“Hey, Edward.” He’s looking better. Weird, but better. Happy.

“Hey, Em.” Did I look happy? I supposed, despite the chaos in my head, I felt something close to it.

Way to keep your mouth shut, kid. Rosalie’s going to rip your tongue out.

I sighed. “Sorry I left you to deal with that. Are you angry with me?”

“Naw. Rose’ll get over it. It was bound to happen anyway.” With what Alice sees coming…

Alice’s visions were not what I wanted to think about right now. I stared forward, my teeth locking together.

As I searched for a distraction, I caught sight of Ben Cheney entering the Spanish room ahead of us. Ah—here was my chance to give Angela Weber her gift.



I stopped walking and caught Emmett’s arm. “Hold on a second.”

What’s up?

“I know I don’t deserve it, but would you do me a favor anyway?”

“What favor?” he asked, curious.

Under my breath—and at a speed that would have made the words incomprehensible to a human—I explained to him what I wanted.


He stared at me when I was done, his thoughts as blank as his face.

“So?” I prompted. “Will you help me do it?”

It took him a minute to respond. “But, why?”

“C’mon, Emmett. Why not?”

Who are you and what have you done with my brother?

“Aren’t you the one who complains that school is always the same? This is something a little different, isn’t it? Consider it an experiment—an experiment in human nature.”

He stared at me for another moment before he caved. “Well, it is different, I’ll give you that. Okay, fine.” Emmett snorted and then shrugged. “I’ll help you.”

I grinned at him, feeling more enthusiastic about my plan now that he was on board. Rosalie was a pain, but I would always owe her one for choosing Emmett; no one had a better brother than mine.

A brother better than you, yes.


Emmett didn’t need to practice. I whispered his lines to him once under my breath as we walked into the classroom.

Ben was already in his seat behind mine, assembling his homework to hand in. Emmett and I both sat and did the same thing. The classroom was not quiet yet; the murmur of subdued conversation would continue until Mrs. Goff called for attention. She was in no hurry, appraising the quizzes from the last class.

“So,” Emmett said, his voice louder than necessary. “Did you ask Angela Weber out yet?”

The sound of papers rustling behind me came to an abrupt stop as Ben froze, his attention suddenly riveted on our conversation.

Angela? They’re talking about Angela?

Good. I had his interest.

“No,” I said, shaking my head slowly to appear regretful.

“Why not?” Emmett improvised. “Are we lacking in courage?”

I frowned at him. “No. I heard that she was interested in someone else.”

This is so bad.


Edward Cullen was going to ask Angela out? But… no. I don’t like that. I don’t want him near her. He’s… not right for her. Not… safe.

"He keeps staring at Bella without blinking and breathing really heavily..."


I hadn’t anticipated the chivalry, the protective instinct. I’d been aiming for jealousy. But whatever worked.

“You’re going to let that stop you?” Emmett asked scornfully, improvising again. “Not up for the competition?”

I glared at him, but made use of what he gave me. “Look, I guess she really likes this Ben person. I’m not going to try to convince her otherwise. There are other girls.”

The reaction in the chair behind me was electric.

“Who?” Emmett asked, back to the script.

“My lab partner said it was some kid named Cheney. I’m not sure I know who he is.”

I bit back my smile. Only the haughty Cullens could get away with pretending not to know every student at this tiny school.

The actual number of students for the 2017-2018 school year at Forks High School was 453. Maybe you'd remember everyone in your individual classes.


Ben’s head was whirling with shock. Me? Over Edward Cullen? But why would she like me?

“Edward,” Emmett muttered in a lower tone, rolling his eyes toward the boy. “He’s right behind you,” he mouthed, so obviously that the human could easily read the words.

“Oh,” I muttered back.

I turned in my seat and glanced once at the boy behind me. For a second, the black eyes behind the glasses were frightened, but then he stiffened and squared his shoulders, affronted by my clearly disparaging evaluation. His chin shot out and an angry flush darkened his golden-brown skin.

Holy poo poo, she remember POC exist!


“Huh,” I said arrogantly as I turned back to Emmett.

He thinks he’s better than me. But Angela doesn’t. I’ll show him.…


“Didn’t you say she was taking Yorkie to the dance, though?” Emmett asked, snorting as he said the name of the boy whom many scorned for his awkwardness.

“That was a group decision, apparently.” I wanted to be sure that Ben was clear on this. “Angela’s shy. If B—well, if a guy doesn’t have the nerve to ask her out, she’d never ask him.”

“You like shy girls,” Emmett said, back to improvisation. Quiet girls. Girls like… hmm, I don’t know. Maybe Bella Swan?

I grinned at him. “Exactly.” Then I returned to the performance. “Maybe Angela will get tired of waiting. Maybe I’ll ask her to the prom.”

No, you won’t, Ben thought, straightening up in his chair. So what if she’s taller than me? If she doesn’t care, then neither do I. She’s the nicest, smartest, prettiest girl in this school… and she wants me.

I liked this Ben. He seemed bright and well-meaning. Maybe even worthy of a girl like Angela.

"I am the matchmaker!"


I gave Emmett a thumbs up under the desk as Mrs. Goff stood and greeted the class.

Okay, I’ll admit it—that was sort of fun, Emmett thought.

No it wasn't. It was uncomfortable and weird.


I smiled to myself, pleased that I’d been able to shape one love story’s forward progress. I was positive that Ben would follow through, and Angela would receive my anonymous gift. My debt was repaid.

How silly humans were, to let a six-inch height difference confound their happiness.

Apr 23, 2014

Apr 23, 2014


My success put me in a good mood. I smiled again as I settled into my chair and prepared to be entertained. After all, as Bella had pointed out at lunch, I’d never seen her in action in Gym class before.

Mike’s thoughts were the easiest to pinpoint in the babble of voices that swarmed through the gym. His mind had gotten far too familiar over the last few weeks. With a sigh, I resigned myself to listening through him. At least I could be sure that he would be paying attention to Bella.

I was just in time to hear him offer to be her badminton partner; as he made the suggestion, other partnerings with Bella ran through his mind. My smile faded, my teeth clenched together, and I had to remind myself that murdering Mike Newton was still not permitted.

No it's not, you piece of poo poo!


“Thanks, Mike—you don’t have to do this, you know.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep out of your way.”

She grinned at him, and flashes of numerous accidents—always in some way connected to Bella—flashed through Mike’s head.

Mike played alone at first, while Bella hesitated on the back half of the court, holding her racket gingerly, as though it might explode if moved too roughly. Then Coach Clapp ambled by and ordered Mike to let Bella play.

Uh oh, Mike thought as Bella moved forward with a sigh, holding her racket at an awkward angle.

Jennifer Ford served the birdie directly toward Bella with a smug twist to her thoughts. Mike saw Bella lurch toward it, swinging the racket yards wide of her target, and he rushed in to try to save the volley.

I watched the path of Bella’s racket with alarm. Sure enough, it hit the taut net and sprung back at her, clipping her forehead before it spun out to strike Mike’s arm with a resounding thwack.

Ow. Ow. Ungh. That’s going to leave a bruise.

Bella was kneading her forehead. It was hard to stay in my seat where I belonged, knowing she was hurt. But what could I do, even if I were there? And it didn’t seem to be serious. I hesitated, watching.

Edward just teleports into the center of the gym, grabbing Bella and wailing toward the sky like she's fallen in battle.


The coach laughed. “Sorry, Newton.” That girl’s the worst jinx I’ve ever seen. Shouldn’t inflict her on the others.

He turned his back deliberately and moved to watch another game so that Bella could return to her former spectator’s role.

Ow, Mike thought again, massaging his arm. He turned to Bella. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, are you?” she asked sheepishly.

“I think I’ll make it.” Don’t want to sound like a crybaby. But, man, that hurts!

Mike swung his arm in a circle, wincing.

“I’ll just stay back here,” Bella said, embarrassment rather than pain on her face. Maybe Mike had gotten the worst of it. I certainly hoped that was the case. At least she wasn’t playing anymore. She held her racket so carefully behind her back, her expression full of remorse.… I had to disguise my laugh as coughing.

What’s funny? Emmett wanted to know.

“Tell you later,” I muttered.

This is actually a deleted scene from Twilight! The final book reduces it to a few seconds, but the original draft spent almost a page recounting everything we saw here down to Mike circling his arm.


Bella didn’t venture into the game again. The coach ignored her and let Mike play alone.

I breezed through the quiz at the end of the hour, and Mrs. Goff let me go early. I was listening intently to Mike as I walked across the campus. He’d decided to confront Bella about me.

Jessica swears they’re dating. Why? Why did he have to pick her?

He didn’t recognize the real phenomenon—that she’d picked me.


“So what?”
she wondered.

“You and Cullen, huh?” You and the freak. I guess, if a rich guy is that important to you…

I gritted my teeth at his degrading assumption.

What? It's not like you have a great personality!


“That’s none of your business, Mike.”

Defensive. So it’s true. Crap. “I don’t like it.”

“You don’t have to,”
she snapped.

Why can’t she see what a circus sideshow he is? Like they all are. The way he stares at her. It gives me chills to watch. “He looks at you like… like you’re something to eat.”

I cringed, waiting for her response.

Her face turned bright red, and her lips pressed together as though she was holding her breath. Then, suddenly, a giggle burst through her lips.

Now she’s laughing at me. Great.

Why are we supposed to hate Mike after this? He's the only one clued in!


Mike turned, thoughts sullen, and wandered off to change.

I leaned against the gym wall and tried to compose myself.

How could she have laughed at Mike’s accusation—so entirely on target that I began to worry that Forks was becoming too aware. Why would she laugh at the suggestion that I could kill her, when she knew that it was entirely true?

What was wrong with her?

Did she have a morbid sense of humor? That didn’t fit with my idea of her character, but how could I be sure? Or maybe my notion of the foolish angel was true in one respect: She had no sense of fear at all. Brave—that was one word for it. Others might say stupid, but I knew how bright she was. No matter what the reason, was it this strange lack of fear that put her in danger so constantly? Maybe she would always need me here.

There is nothing bright about this girl except maybe academically.


Just like that, my mood was soaring.

If I could discipline myself, make myself safe, then perhaps it would be right for me to stay close to her.

When she walked through the gym doors, her shoulders were stiff and her lower lip was between her teeth again—a sure sign of anxiety. But as soon as her eyes met mine, her posture relaxed and a wide smile spread across her face. It was an oddly peaceful expression. She walked right to my side without hesitation, only stopping when she was so close that her body heat crashed over me like a breaking wave.

“Hi,” she whispered.

The happiness I felt in this moment was, again, without precedent.

“Hello,” I said, and then—because with my mood suddenly so light, I couldn’t resist teasing her—I added, “How was Gym?”

Her smile wavered. “Fine.”

She was a poor liar.

That's a first.


“Really?” I asked, about to press the issue—I was still concerned about her head; was she in pain?—but then Mike Newton’s thoughts were so loud, they broke my concentration.

I hate him. I wish he would die. I hope he drives that shiny car right off a cliff. Why couldn’t he just leave her alone? Stick to his own kind—to the freaks.

I thought Meyer was supposed to be making us hate Mike?


“What?” Bella demanded.

My eyes refocused on her face. She looked at Mike’s retreating back, and then at me again.

“Newton’s getting on my nerves,” I admitted.

Her mouth fell open, and her smile disappeared. She must have forgotten that I’d had the power to watch through her calamitous last hour, or hoped that I hadn’t used it. “You weren’t listening again?”

“How’s your head?”

“You’re unbelievable!” she said through her teeth, and then she turned away from me and stalked furiously toward the parking lot. Her skin flushed dark red—she was embarrassed.

I kept pace with her, hoping that her anger would pass soon. She was usually quick to forgive me.

“You were the one who mentioned how I’d never seen you in Gym,” I explained. “It made me curious.”

"I had no choice but to stalk you! Really!"


She didn’t answer. Her eyebrows pulled together. She came to a sudden halt in the parking lot when she realized that the way to my car was blocked by a crowd of mostly male students.

I wonder how fast they’ve gone in this thing.

Look at the SMG shift paddles. I’ve never seen those outside of a magazine.

Nice side grilles!

Sure wish I had sixty thousand dollars lying around.…

This was exactly why it was better for Rosalie to only use her car out of town.

I wound through the throng of lustful boys to my own car. After a second of hesitation, Bella followed suit.

“Ostentatious,” I muttered as she climbed in.

“What kind of car is that?” she wondered.

“An M3.”

She frowned. “I don’t speak Car and Driver.”

“It’s a BMW.” I rolled my eyes and then focused on backing out without running anyone down. I had to lock eyes with a few boys who didn’t seem willing to move out of my way. A half second meeting my gaze seemed to be enough to convince them.


“Are you still angry?” I asked her. Her frown had relaxed.

“Definitely,” she answered curtly.

I sighed. Maybe I shouldn’t have brought it up. Oh well. I could try to make amends, I supposed. “Will you forgive me if I apologize?”

She thought about that for a moment. “Maybe… if you mean it,” she decided. “And if you promise not to do it again.”

I wasn’t going to lie to her, and there was no way I was agreeing to that. Perhaps if I offered her a different exchange.

Yes, that is Edward "the perfect man for me and every girl reading this" Cullen straight up saying that under no circumstances will he ever obey his girlfriend's request to stop spying on her every move.


“How about if I mean it, and I agree to let you drive this Saturday?” I shuddered internally at the thought.

The furrow popped into existence between her eyes as she considered the new bargain. “Deal,” she said after a moment of thought.

Now for my apology.… I’d never tried to dazzle Bella on purpose before, but this seemed like a good moment. I stared deep into her eyes as I drove away from the school, wondering whether I was doing it right. I used my most persuasive tone.

“Then I’m very sorry I upset you.”

Her heartbeat thudded louder than before, and the rhythm was abruptly staccato. Her eyes were huge. She looked stunned.

I half smiled. It seemed as though I’d succeeded. Of course, I was having a bit of difficulty looking away from her eyes, too. Equally dazzled. It was a good thing I had this road memorized.

And his apology wasn't even real! He just used his powers on purpose to stun her and make it seem like it!


“And I’ll be on your doorstep bright and early Saturday morning,” I added, finishing the agreement.

She blinked swiftly, shaking her head as if to clear it. “Um,” she said, “it doesn’t help with the Charlie situation if an unexplained Volvo is left in the driveway.”

Ah, how little she still knew about me. “I wasn’t intending to bring a car.”

“How—?” she started to ask.

I interrupted her. The answer would only bring on another round of questions. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll be there, no car.”

I know this is because he's just going to use his super speed to run to her house, but this reads like Bella has no concept of walking to someone else's house, or getting a ride.


She put her head to one side, and looked for a second as though she was going to press for more, but then seemed to change her mind.

“Is it later yet?” she asked, reminding me of our unfinished conversation in the cafeteria today.

I should have just answered her other question. This one was much more unappealing. “I suppose it is later,” I agreed unwillingly.

I parked in front of her house, tensing as I tried to think of how to explain… without making my monstrous nature too evident, without frightening her again. Or was it wrong to minimize my darkness?

She waited with the same politely interested mask she’d worn at lunch. If I’d been less anxious, her preposterous calm would have made me laugh.

“And you still want to know why you can’t see me hunt?” I asked.

“Well, mostly I was wondering about your reaction,” she said.

“Did I frighten you?” I asked, positive that she would deny it.

“No.” It was such an obvious lie.

It's like Meyer realized she wrote Bella as a smooth liar that everyone fell for during the rest of the series and now feels the need to yell at the audience about not trusting her writing.


I tried not to smile, and failed. “I apologize for scaring you.” And then my smile vanished with the momentary humor. “It was just the very thought of you being there… while we hunted.”

“That would be bad?”

The mental picture was too much—Bella, so vulnerable in the empty darkness; myself, out of control.… I tried to banish it from my head. “Extremely.”


I took a deep breath, concentrating for one moment on the burning thirst. Feeling it, managing it, proving my dominion over it. It would never control me again—I willed that to be true. I would be safe for her. I stared toward the welcome clouds without really seeing them, wishing I could believe that my determination would make any difference if I were hunting when I crossed her scent.

“When we hunt… we give ourselves over to our senses,” I told her, thinking through each word before I spoke it. “Govern less with our minds. Especially our sense of smell. If you were anywhere near me when I lost control that way…”

Of course, we already know this is bullshit. Not only does Emmett have a hell of a time taunting bears and getting into roaring contests with them, Edward is so perfectly composed and heroic that he doesn't even spill a drop of blood or muss his collar.


I shook my head in agony at the thought of what would—not what might, but what would—surely happen then.

I listened to the spike in her heartbeat, and then turned, restless, to read her eyes.

Bella’s face was composed, her eyes grave. Her mouth was pursed just slightly in what I guessed was concern. But concern for what? Her own safety? Was there any hope that I’d finally made the realities clear? I continued to stare at her, trying to translate her ambiguous expression into sure fact.

She gazed back. Her eyes grew round after a moment, and her pupils dilated, though the light had not changed.

Someone send Meyer back through biology class and ask her to explain why Bella's pupils are dilating mid-conversation.


My breathing accelerated, and suddenly the quiet in the car seemed to be humming, just as in the darkened Biology room this afternoon. The electric current raced between us again, and my desire to touch her was, briefly, stronger even than the demands of my thirst.

The throbbing electricity made it feel as if I had a pulse again. My body sang with it. As though I were human. More than anything in the world, I wanted to feel the heat of her lips against mine. For one second, I struggled desperately to find the strength, the control, to be able to put my mouth so close to her skin.

She sucked in a ragged breath, and only then did I realize that when I had started breathing faster, she had stopped breathing altogether.

I closed my eyes, trying to break the connection between us.

No more mistakes.

Bella’s existence was tied to a thousand delicately balanced chemical processes, all so easily disrupted: The rhythmic expansion of her lungs, that flow of oxygen was life or death to her. The fluttering cadence of her fragile heart could be stopped by so many stupid accidents or illnesses or… by me.

"The sheer beauty of my gaze upon those I deem worthy is not for mortal ken!"


I did not believe that any member of my family—except possibly Emmett—would hesitate if he or she were offered a chance back, if he or she could trade immortality for mortality again. Rosalie and I, Carlisle, too, would stand in fire for it. Burn for as many days or centuries as were necessary.

Most of our kind prized immortality above all else. There were even humans who craved this, who searched in dark places for those who could give them the blackest of gifts.

Not us. Not my family. We would trade anything to be human.

"Emmett just thinks it's the coolest loving thing, though. Just radical."


But none of us, not even Rosalie, had ever been as desperate for a way back as I was now.

I opened my eyes and stared at the microscopic pits and flaws in the windshield, as though there was some solution hidden in the imperfect glass. The electricity had not faded, and I had to concentrate to keep my hands on the wheel.

My right hand began to sting without pain again, from when I’d touched her before.

“Bella, I think you should go inside now.”

She obeyed at once, without comment, getting out of the car and shutting the door behind herself. Did she feel the potential for disaster as clearly as I did?

Did it hurt her to leave, as it hurt me to see her go? The only solace was that I would see her soon. Sooner than she would see me. I smiled at that, then rolled the window down and leaned across to speak to her one more time. It was safer now, with the heat of her body outside the car.

She turned to see what I wanted, curious.

Always so curious, though I’d answered almost all of her many questions. My own curiosity was entirely unsatisfied. That wasn’t fair.

Nothing about your relationship is fair! You have all the advantages in it!


“Oh, Bella?”


“Tomorrow it’s my turn.”

Her forehead puckered. “Your turn to what?”

“Ask the questions.”

Tomorrow, when we were in a safer place, surrounded by witnesses, I would get my own answers. I grinned at the thought, and then turned away because she made no move to leave. Even with her outside the car, the echo of the electricity zinged in the air. I wanted to get out, too, to walk her to her door as an excuse to stay beside her.

No more mistakes. I hit the gas, and then sighed as she disappeared behind me. It seemed as though I was always running toward Bella or away from her, never staying in place. I would have to find some way to hold my ground if we were ever going to have any peace.

And here, finally, we have reached the turning point.

This is the end of the Midnight Sun draft. From this point forward, all text has never before been seen.


My house appeared calm and silent from the outside as I drove past, heading for the garage. But I could hear the turmoil—both spoken aloud and silently thought—inside. I threw one wistful glance in the direction of my favorite car—still pristine, for now—before I headed out to face the beautiful ogre under the bridge. I couldn’t even make the short walk from the garage to the house before being accosted.

Rosalie shot out the front door as soon as my footsteps were audible. She planted herself at the base of the stairs, her lips pulled back over her teeth.

I stopped twenty yards away, and there was no aggression in my stance. I knew I deserved this.

“I’m so sorry, Rose,” I told her before she had even gathered her thoughts to attack. I probably wouldn’t get to say much more.

Her shoulders squared, her chin jerked up.

How could you have been so stupid?

Emmett came slowly down the stairs behind her. I knew that if Rosalie attacked me, Emmett would come between us. Not to protect me. To keep her from provoking me enough that I would fight back.

“I’m sorry,” I told her again.

And Edward is...apologizing? Not being smug?


I could see that she was surprised by the lack of sarcasm in my voice, my quick capitulation. But she was too angry to accept apologies yet.

Are you happy now?

“No,” I said, the ache in my voice giving proof to the denial.

Why did you do it, then? Why would you tell her? Just because she asked? The words themselves weren’t so harsh—it was her mental tone that was edged with needle-sharp points. Also in her mind was Bella’s face—just a caricature of the face I loved. As much as Rosalie hated me in this moment, it was nothing to the hate she felt for Bella. She wanted to believe this hate was justified, founded solely on my bad behavior—that Bella was only a problem because she was now a danger to us. A broken rule. Bella knew too much.

But I could see how much her judgment was clouded by her jealousy of the girl. It was more now than the fact that I found Bella so much more compelling than I had Rosalie. Her jealousy had twisted and shifted focus. Bella had everything Rosalie wanted. She was human. She had choices. Rose was outraged that Bella would put this in jeopardy, that she would flirt with the darkness when she had other options.

Rose thought she might even trade faces with the girl she thought of as homely, if she could have her humanity in the bargain.

And we immediately get smacked by all the Eclipse character development that Meyer had spitefully ignored!


Though Rosalie was trying not to think all these things while she waited for my answer, she couldn’t keep them entirely out of her head.

“Why?” she demanded out loud when I still said nothing. She didn’t want me to keep reading. “Why did you tell her?”

“I’m actually surprised you were able to,” Emmett said before I could respond. “You rarely say the word, even with us. It’s not your favorite.”

He was thinking how much Rose and I were alike in this, how we both avoided the title to the nonlife we hated. Emmett had no such reservations.

What would it be like to feel the way Emmett did? To be so practical, so free from regret? To be able to so easily accept and move forward?

Rose and I would both be happier people if we could follow his example.

That's because Emmett is better than you.


Seeing this—our similarities—so clearly made it even easier to excuse the venom-tipped needles that Rose was still thinking my way.

“You’re not wrong,” I said to Emmett. “I doubt I would ever have been able to say it myself.”

Emmett cocked his head to the side. Behind him, inside the house, I could feel the shock from the rest of our audience. Only Alice was unsurprised.

“Then how?” Rosalie hissed.

“Don’t overreact,” I said, without much hope. Her eyebrows shot up. “It wasn’t an intentional breach. It’s probably something we should have foreseen.”

“What are you talking about?” she demanded.

“Bella is friends with the great-grandson of Ephraim Black.”

Rosalie froze with surprise. Emmett, too, was taken off guard. They were no more prepared for this direction than I had been.

Carlisle appeared in the doorway. This was more than just a fight between Rosalie and me now.

“Edward?” he asked.

“We should have known, Carlisle. Of course the elders would warn the next generation when we came back. And of course the next generation wouldn’t credit any of it. It’s just a silly story to them. The boy who answered Bella’s questions didn’t believe anything he was telling her.”

I wasn’t anxious about Carlisle’s reaction. I knew how he would respond. But I was listening very intently to Alice’s room now, to hear what Jasper would think.

“You’re right,” Carlisle said. “Naturally, it would play out that way.” He sighed. “It’s bad luck Ephraim’s progeny had such a knowledgeable audience.”

"Especially one who would try so hard to get him to spill the beans!"


Jasper listened to Carlisle’s response, and he was concerned. But his thoughts were more about leaving with Alice than silencing the Quileutes. Alice was already watching his ideas for the future, and preparing to refute them. She had no intention of going anywhere.

Remember in Breaking Dawn how none of the Cullens seemed at all surprised that Alice and Jasper would panic and flee to save themselves if the family was in danger, to the point where they purposefully ignored all evidence to the contrary to keep crying about how they left them all to die? Turns out it's because Jasper is that guy!


“Hardly bad luck,” Rosalie said through her teeth. “It’s Edward’s fault that the girl knows anything.”

“True,” I agreed quickly. “This is my fault. I am sorry.”

Please, Rosalie thought directly at me. Enough with the roll-over routine. Stop playing so penitent.

“I’m not playing,” I said to her. “I know I’m to blame for all of this. I’ve made an enormous mess of everything.”

“Alice told you I was thinking of burning your car, didn’t she?”

I smiled—sort of. “She did. But I deserve that. If it makes you feel better, have at it.”

She looked at me for a long moment, thinking about going ahead with the destruction. Testing me, to see if I was bluffing.

I shrugged at her. “It’s just a toy, Rose.”

“You’ve changed,” she said from between her teeth again. I nodded.

“I know.”

"I have completely new context for my entire narrative."


She whirled and stalked off toward the garage. But she was the one bluffing. If it wouldn’t hurt me, there was no point to the exercise. Of all my family, she was the only one who loved cars the way I did. Mine was too beautiful to vandalize for no reason.

Emmett looked after her. “I don’t suppose you’d give me the full story now.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said innocently. He rolled his eyes, then followed Rosalie.

I looked at Carlisle and mouthed Jasper’s name.

He nodded. Yes, I can imagine. I’ll speak with him.

Alice appeared in the doorway. “He’s waiting for you,” she said to Carlisle. Carlisle smiled at her—a little wryly. Though we were as used to Alice as it was possible to be, she was often uncanny. Carlisle patted her short black hair as he passed her.

I sat at the top of the stairs and Alice sat beside me, both of us listening to the conversation upstairs. There was no tension in Alice—she knew how it would end. She showed me, and my tension vanished as well. The conflict was over before it started. Jasper admired Carlisle as much as any of us did, and he was happy to follow his lead… until he thought Alice might be in danger. I found that I understood Jasper’s perspective more easily now. It was strange how much I hadn’t understood before Bella. She had changed me more than I’d known it was possible for me to change and still remain myself.

Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment

I'm reading Varney the Vampyre at the moment and the humans in that are hilariously overwrought in that 'if I think of such a thing, I shall DIE' way. They'd fit in really well here.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 13: Another Complication


I did not feel the usual guilt when I returned to Bella's room that night, though I knew I should. But it felt like the correct course of action—the only right thing to be doing. I was there to burn my throat as much as possible. I would train myself to ignore her scent. It could be accomplished. I would not allow this to be a difficulty between us. Easier said than done. But I knew this helped. Practice. Embrace the pain, let that be the strongest reaction. Beat the element of desire entirely out of myself.

See guys, it's not just stalking now! He's training himself! He's just meditating!


There was no peace in Bella’s dreams. And no peace for me, watching her twitch restlessly and hearing her whisper my name over and over. The physical pull, that overwhelming chemistry from the darkened classroom, was even stronger here in her night-black bedroom. Though she was not aware of my presence, she seemed to feel it, too.

She woke herself more than once. The first time she did not open her eyes; she merely buried her head under her pillow and groaned. That was good luck for me—a second chance I didn’t deserve, since I didn’t put it to good use and leave as I should have. Instead, I sat on the floor in the farthest dark-shadowed corner of the room, and trusted that her human eyes would not spot me here.

She didn’t catch me, even the time that she got up and stalked to the bathroom for a glass of water. She moved angrily, perhaps frustrated that sleep still evaded her.

There's just so many random moments in Twilight where Edward was secretly standing there!


I wished there was some action I could take, as before with the warm blanket from the cupboard. But I could only watch as I burned, useless to her. It was a relief when she finally sank into a dreamless unconsciousness.

I was in the trees when the sky lightened from black to gray. I held my breath—this time to keep the scent of her from escaping. I refused to let the pure morning air erase the ache in my throat.

I listened to breakfast with Charlie, struggling again to find the words in his thoughts. It was fascinating—I could guess at the reasons behind the words he said aloud, almost feel his intentions, but they never resolved into full sentences the way everyone else’s thoughts did. I found myself wishing that his parents were still alive. It would be interesting to trace this genetic trait further back.

Edward just reaching so hard to talk about genetic inheritance of psychic powers while still pretending he's got no idea what Bella is.


The combination of his inarticulate thoughts and his spoken words were enough for me to piece together his general mindset this morning. He was worried about Bella, physically and emotionally. He felt similarly concerned about the idea of Bella roaming Seattle alone as I would—only not quite so maniacally. Then again, his information was not as up-to-date as mine; he had no idea about the number of close calls she’d lived through recently.

She worded her reply to him very carefully, but it was only technically not a lie. She was obviously not planning to tell him about her change of plans. Or about me.

Charlie was also worried about the fact that she wasn’t going to the dance on Saturday. Was she disappointed about this? Was she feeling rejected? Were the boys at school cruel to her? He felt helpless. She didn’t look depressed, but he suspected that she would hide anything negative from him. He resolved to call her mother during the day and ask for advice.

At least, that was what I thought he was thinking. I might have misconstrued parts.

Even more reasons to say that CHARLIE DIDN'T DESERVE ANY OF THIS


I retrieved my car while Charlie loaded his. As soon as he had driven around the corner, I pulled into the driveway to wait. I saw the curtain twitch in her window, then heard her stumbling footsteps race down the stairs.

I stayed in my seat, rather than get out to hold the door for her as I perhaps should have. But I thought it was more important to watch. She never acted the way I expected, and I needed to be able to anticipate correctly; I needed to study her, to learn the ways she moved when left to her own devices, to try to anticipate her motivations. She hesitated a moment outside the car, then let herself in with a small smile—a little shy, I thought.

She wore a dark, coffee-colored turtleneck today. It was not tight, but still fitted closely to her shape, and I missed the ugly sweater. It was safer.

We're only expanding the Mormon dress code further from the floor-length khaki skirt.


This was supposed to be about her reactions, but I was abruptly overwhelmed with my own. I didn’t know how I could feel so peaceful with everything that was hanging over both our heads, but being with her was an antidote to pain and anxiety.

I took a deep breath through my nose—not every kind of pain—and smiled.

“Good morning. How are you today?”

The evidence of her restless night was obvious in her face. Her translucent skin hid nothing. But I knew she wouldn’t complain.

“Good, thank you,” she said with another smile.

“You look tired.”

She ducked, shaking her hair around her face in a move that seemed habitual. It obscured part of her left cheek. “I couldn’t sleep.”

I grinned at her. “Neither could I.”


She laughed, and I absorbed the sound of her happiness.

“I guess that’s right,” she said. “I suppose I slept just a little bit more than you did.”

“I’d wager you did.”

She peered at me around her hair, eyes lit up in a way I recognized. Curious. “So what did you do last night?”

I laughed quietly, glad I had an excuse not to lie to her. “Not a chance. It’s my day to ask questions.”

"Also, you never want to hear the answer to that and stop asking!"


The little frown mark appeared between her eyebrows. “Oh, that’s right. What do you want to know?” Her tone was slightly skeptical, as though she couldn’t believe I had any real interest. She seemed to have no idea how curious I was.

There were so many things I didn’t know. I decided to start slow.

“What’s your favorite color?”

She rolled her eyes—still doubting my interest level. “It changes from day to day.”

“What’s your favorite color today?”

She thought for just a second. “Probably brown.”

I assumed she was mocking me, and my tone shifted to match her sarcasm. “Brown?”

Good job, dumbass.


“Sure,” she said, and then she was unexpectedly on the defensive. Perhaps I should have expected this. She never liked judgments. “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!”

Her tone brought back the sound of her sleeping complaint the other night. Too green—was this what she had meant? I stared at her, thinking how right she was. Honestly, looking into her eyes now, I realized that brown was my favorite, too. I couldn’t imagine any shade more beautiful.

“You’re right,” I told her. “Brown is warm.”

She started to blush a little and unconsciously retreated deeper into her hair. Carefully, bracing myself for any unexpected reaction, I swept her hair behind her shoulder so that I could have full access to her face again. The only reaction was a sudden increase in her heart rate.

I turned into the school lot and parked in the spot next to my usual place; Rosalie had taken that.

“What music is in your CD player right now?” I asked as I twisted the keys from the ignition. I’d never trusted myself that close to her while she’d slept, and the unknown teased me.

Her head cocked to the side, and it seemed as though she was trying to remember. “Oh, right,” she said. “It’s Linkin Park. Hybrid Theory.

I wasn't kidding, guys.


Not what I was expecting.

Nobody was!


As I pulled the identical CD from my car’s music cache, I tried to imagine what this album meant to her. It didn’t seem to match any of her moods that I’d seen, but then, there was so much I didn’t know.

“Debussy to this?” I wondered.

She stared at the cover, and I could not understand her expression.

“Which is your favorite song?”

“Mmm,” she murmured, still looking at the cover art. “‘With You,’ I think.”

RIP Chester. You finally got to be part of a Twilight book.


I thought through all the lyrics quickly.

“Why that one?”

She smiled a little and shrugged. “I’m not sure.”

Well, that didn’t help much.

“Your favorite movie?”

She thought about her answer for a brief moment. “I’m not sure I can pick just one.”

“Favorite movies, then?”

She nodded as she climbed out of the car. “Hmm. Definitely Pride and Prejudice, the six-hour one with Colin Firth. Vertigo. And… Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There are more… but I’m blanking.…”

Oh yeah, remember how Bella was kept a completely blank slate originally and all of these answers were left unseen by the reader?

gently caress that! You're gonna read every last loving one of them!


“Tell me when you think of them,” I suggested as we walked toward her English class. “While you consider that, tell me what your favorite scent is.”

“Lavender. Or… maybe clean laundry.” She’d been looking straight ahead, but suddenly her eyes cut over to me for a second, and a faint pink colored her cheek.

“Was there more?” I prompted, wondering what that look meant.

“No. Just those.”

I wasn’t sure why she would omit part of her answer to such a simple query, but I rather thought she had.

“What candy do you like best?”

On this she was very decided. “Black licorice and Sour Patch Kids.”

What the gently caress.


I smiled at her enthusiasm.

We were at her classroom now, but she hesitated at the door. I, too, was in no hurry to separate from her.

“Where would you like to travel to most?” I asked—I assumed she was not going to tell me Comic Con.

She leaned her head to one side, her eyes narrowing in thought. Inside the classroom, Mr. Mason was clearing his throat to get the class’s attention. She was about to be late.

“Think about it and give me your answer at lunch,” I suggested.

She grinned and reached for the door, then turned back to look at me. Her smile faded, and the v appeared between her eyes.

I could have asked her what she was thinking, but that would have delayed her, possibly gotten her in trouble. And I thought I knew. At least, I knew how I felt, letting that door close between us.

I forced myself to smile encouragingly. She darted inside as Mr. Mason started to lecture.

I walked quickly to my own class, knowing I would spend the day ignoring everything around me again. I was disappointed, though, because no one spoke to her in any of her morning classes, so there was nothing new to learn. Just glimpses of her staring into space, her expression abstracted. The time dragged while I waited to see her again with my own eyes.

When she left her Trigonometry class, I was already in place, waiting for her. The other students stared and speculated, but Bella just hurried toward me with a smile.

Beauty and the Beast,” she announced. “And The Empire Strikes Back. I know that’s everyone’s favorite, but…” She shrugged.

“For good reason,” I assured her.

Oh God, Edward probably had opinions on the sequel trilogy.


We fell into step. Already it felt natural to shorten my stride, to lower my head so it was closer to hers.

“Did you think about my travel question?”

“Yes… I think Prince Edward Island. Anne of Green Gables, you know. But I’d also like to see New York. I’ve never been to a big city that was mostly vertical. Just sprawl places like LA and Phoenix. I’d like to try hailing a cab.” She laughed. “And then, if I can go anywhere, I’d want to go to England. See all the stuff I’ve been reading about.”

This led toward my next avenue of inquiry, but I wanted to be thorough before I moved on.

“Tell me your favorite places that you’ve already been.”

“Hmm. I liked the Santa Monica Pier. My mom said Monterey was better, but we never did get that far up the coast. We mostly stayed in Arizona; we didn’t have a lot of time for travel and she didn’t want to waste all of it in the car. She liked to visit places that were supposed to be haunted—Jerome, the Domes, pretty much any ghost town. We never saw any ghosts, but she said that was my fault. I was too skeptical, I scared them all away.” She laughed again. “She loves the Ren Faire, we go to the one in Gold Canyon every year.… Well, I missed it this year, I guess. Once we saw the wild horses at the Salt River. That was cool.”

Holy poo poo, they have backstory! And personality! Renee's no longer just a clumsy puppet!


“Where’s the farthest place from home you’ve ever been?” I asked, starting to become a little concerned.

“Here, I guess,” she said. “Farthest north from Phoenix, anyway. Farthest east—Albuquerque, but I was so young then, I don’t remember. Farthest west would probably be the beach in La Push.”

She went suddenly quiet. I wondered if she was thinking of her last visit to La Push, and all that she had discovered there. We were in the cafeteria line at this point, and she quickly picked out what she wanted rather than waiting for me to buy one of everything. She was also swift to pay for herself.

“You’ve never left the country?” I persisted once we reached our empty table. Part of me wondered if my sitting here had made it off-limits forever.

“Not yet,” she said cheerfully.

Though she’d only had seventeen years to explore, I still felt surprised. And… guilty. She’d seen so little, experienced such a meager amount of what life had to offer. It was impossible that she could truly know what she wanted now.

That's a drat good amount of travel for 17, dude!


Gattaca,” she said, chewing a bite of apple with a thoughtful expression. She hadn’t noticed my sudden mood shift. “That was a good one. Have you seen it?”

“Yes. I liked it, too.”

“What’s your favorite movie?”

I shook my head and smiled. “It’s not your turn.”

“Seriously, I’m so boring. You must be out of questions.”

“It’s my day,” I reminded her. “And I’m not at all bored.”

She pursed her lips, as though she wanted to argue some more about my interest level, but then she smiled. I guessed she didn’t really believe me, but had decided she would be fair about it. This was my day to ask questions.

“Tell me about books.”

“You can’t make me choose a favorite,” she insisted almost fiercely.

“I won’t. Tell me everything you like.”

“Where do I start? Um, Little Women. That was the first big book I read. I still read it pretty much every year. Everything Austen, though I’m not a huge fan of Emma—”

Austen I already knew, having seen her battered anthology the day she read outside, but I wondered at the exclusion.

“Why not?”

“Ugh, she’s so full of herself.”

Something we're not familiar with!


I grinned and she continued without prompting. “Jane Eyre. I read that one pretty often, too. That’s my idea of a heroine. Everything by any Brontë. To Kill a Mockingbird, obviously. Fahrenheit 451. All of the Chronicles of Narnia, but especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Gone with the Wind. Douglas Adams and David Eddings and Orson Scott Card and Robin McKinley. Did I already say L. M. Montgomery?”

“I assumed as much from your travel hopes.”

She nodded, then looked conflicted. “Did you want more? I’m going on too much.”

“Yes,” I assured her. “I want more.”

“These aren’t in any kind of order,” she cautioned me. “My mom had a bunch of Zane Grey paperbacks. Some of them were pretty good. Shakespeare, mostly the comedies.” She grinned. “See, out of order. Um, everything by Agatha Christie. Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books… and speaking of great dragons, Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw. The Princess Bride, much better than the movie…” She tapped her finger against her lips. “There are a million more, but I’m blanking again.”

She looked a little stressed.

“That’s enough for now.” She’d done more exploring in fiction than in reality, and I was surprised she’d listed a book I’d not yet read—I would have to find a copy of Tooth and Claw.

I bet Jo Walton just got a confusing bump in sales.


I could see elements of the stories in her makeup—characters that had shaped the context of her world. There was a bit of Jane Eyre in her, a portion of Scout Finch and Jo March, a measure of Elinor Dashwood, and Lucy Pevensie. I was sure I would find more connections as I learned more about her.

Too bad literally none of these personality traits existed!


It was like putting together a puzzle, one with hundreds of thousands of pieces, and no depiction of the complete image to serve as a guide. Time-consuming, with many false leads, but ultimately I would be able to see the whole picture.

She interrupted my thoughts. “Somewhere in Time. I love that movie. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it right away.”

It wasn’t one of my favorites. The idea that the two lovers could only be together in heaven after their deaths rubbed me the wrong way. I changed the subject.

Somewhere in Time is a very unique movie, one that I've never seen but am quite familiar with. Christopher Reeve plays a man who uses hypnosis to time travel back to 1912 on Mackinac Island at the southern tip of the Michigan UP, hunting for the strange elderly woman who seems to have been his lover in the past.

What's most unique about this film is that Mackinac Island steadfastly refuses to modernize its methods of transport on the island, to ensure a traditional way of life reminiscent of its golden age at the turn of the century. Cars are banned except for a handful of emergency vehicles and snowmobiles, leaving horses and bicycles the main method of transport around the tiny town. Tourism is the only industry, with the town having a population of only about 500 but ballooning dramatically as seasonal workers are hired to handle the summer crunch. Much of the island is uninhabited state park. The Grand Hotel seen in the film has been open since 1887 and only recently got air conditioning in a way that wouldn't unacceptably mar its appearance; they still regularly show Somewhere in Time outdoors on the lawn.

I've been on two short trips to the island. On my last one I hiked 8 miles across the inland park before collapsing back in my bed, plus hiked all the way back up from town another day to tour the fort overlooking the lake. It's one of the oddest vacation destinations you can find in Michigan.


“Tell me about the music you like.”

She paused to swallow again. And then, unexpectedly, she blushed.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Well, I’m… not super musical, I guess. The Linkin Park CD was a gift from Phil. He’s trying to update my tastes.”

“What were you into, pre-Phil?”

She sighed, lifting her hands helplessly. “I just listened to what my mom had.”

“Classical music?”


“And other times?”

“Simon and Garfunkel. Neil Diamond. Joni Mitchell. John Denver. That kind of thing. She’s like me—she listens to what her mother listened to. She liked to do sing-alongs on our road trips.” Suddenly the asymmetrical dimple appeared with her wide grin. “Remember those definitions of scary we talked about before?” She laughed. “Until you’ve heard my mom and me trying to hit the high notes in the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, you’ve never known true fear.”

I definitely understand this.


I laughed with her, but wished I could see and hear that. I imagined her on a bright road, winding through the desert with the windows down, the sun bringing out the red shine in her hair. I wished I knew what her mother looked like, and even what kind of car it was, so my picture could be more precise. I wanted to be there with her, to listen to her sing badly, to watch her smile in the sun.

“Favorite TV show?”

“I don’t watch a lot of TV.”



I wondered if she was afraid to go into detail, worried again about me being bored. Maybe a few softball questions would relax her.

“Coke or Pepsi?”

“Dr Pepper.”



“Favorite ice cream?”

“Cookie dough.”


“Cheese. Boring but true.”

“Football team?

“Um, pass?”


She shrugged. “I’m not really a sports person.”

“Ballet or opera?”

“Ballet, I guess. I’ve never been to the opera.”

I was not unaware that this list I was compiling had a use besides just learning to understand as much as I could of her. I was also learning things that might please her. Gifts I might give her. Places I could take her. Little things and bigger things. It was presumptuous in the extreme to imagine that I could ever have that kind of standing in her life. But how I wished.…

Any...shared interests? Or opinions?


“What’s your favorite gemstone?”

“Topaz.” She said this in a decided way, but then her eyes suddenly tightened and red flushed across her cheekbones.

She’d done this before when I asked about scents. I’d let it go then, but not this time. I was sure the other unmet curiosity would torment me enough.

“Why does that make you… embarrassed?” I wasn’t sure I had the emotion right.

She shook her head quickly, staring down at her hands. “It’s nothing.”

“I’d like to understand.”

She shook her head again, still refusing to look at me.

“Please, Bella?”

“Next question.”

Now I was desperate to know. Frustrated.

“Tell me,” I insisted. Rudely. I felt ashamed at once.

Christ, man.


She didn’t look up. She twisted a strand of her hair back and forth between her fingertips.

But she finally answered.

“It’s the color of your eyes today,” she admitted. “I suppose if you asked me in two weeks, I’d say onyx.”

Just as my favorite color was now a deep chocolate brown.

Her shoulders had slumped, and suddenly I recognized her posture. It was just the same as yesterday, when she’d hesitated to answer my question about whether she believed she cared more for me than I did for her. I’d put her in the same position again, of confirming her interest in me without receiving an assurance in return.

Cursing my curiosity, I returned to my questions. Perhaps my obvious fascination with every detail of her personality would convince her of the obsessive level of my interest.

“What kinds of flowers do you prefer?”

“Um, dahlias. For looks. Lavender and lilac for fragrance.”

"What are your thoughts on black dahlias?"


“You don’t like to watch sports, but did you ever play on a team?”

“Just in school, when they made me.”

“Your mother never put you on a soccer team?”

She shrugged. “My mom liked to keep the weekends open for adventures. I did Girl Scouts for a while, and once she put me in a dance class, but that was a mistake.” She raised her eyebrows as if daring me to doubt her. “She thought it would be convenient because it was close enough for me to walk there after school, but no convenience was worth the mayhem.”

“Mayhem, really?” I asked skeptically.

“If I had Ms. Kamenev’s number, she would corroborate my story.”

"She won't allow me back in the building or she'll call the National Guard."


She looked up suddenly. All around us, the other students were gathering their things. How had the time passed so quickly?

She stood in response to the commotion, and I rose with her, gathering her trash onto the tray while she slung on her backpack. She reached as if to take the tray from me.

“I’ve got it,” I said.

She huffed quietly, a little exasperated. She still didn’t like being taken care of.

I couldn’t focus on my still-unanswered questions as we walked to Biology. I was remembering yesterday, wondering if that same tension, with the yearning and the electricity, would be present today. And sure enough, as soon as the lights went off, all the same overwhelming cravings returned. I had positioned my chair farther from hers today, but it didn’t help.

There was still that selfish part of me arguing that holding her hand would not be so wrong, even suggesting that this might be a good way to test her reactions, to prepare myself for being alone together. I tried to ignore the selfish voice and the temptation as best I could.

Bella was trying, too, I could tell. She leaned forward, chin propped against her arms, and I could see her fingers gripping under the edge of the desk so tightly that her knuckles were white. It made me wonder what precise temptation she was struggling against. Today she didn’t look at me. Not once.

It's like an awkward movie date.


There was so much I didn’t understand about her. So much I couldn’t ask.

My body was ever so slightly leaning toward her now. I pulled myself back.

When the lights came back on, Bella sighed, and if I’d had to guess, I would have named her expression relief. But relief from what?

I walked beside her to her next class, fighting the same internal battle as the day before.

She stopped at the door and looked up at me with her clear, deep eyes. Was that expectation, or confusion? An invitation or a warning? What did she want?

This is just a question, I told myself as my hand reached out to her of its own volition. Another kind of question.

Braced, not breathing, I let just the back of my hand graze the side of her face, from her temple to her narrow jaw. Like yesterday, her skin warmed to my touch, her heart beat faster. Her head tilted just a fraction of a centimeter as she leaned into my caress.

It was another kind of answer.

And that's Meyer trying to cover for why this chapter in the original book was just Edward dispassionately reciting questions before silently stroking her cheek and walking away.


I walked away from her quickly again, knowing that this one aspect of my self-control was compromised, my hand smarting in the same painless way.

Emmett was already seated when I arrived at the Spanish classroom. So was Ben Cheney. They were not the only two to note my entrance. I could hear the other students’ curiosity, Bella’s name thought alongside mine, the speculation.…

Ben was the only human not thinking of Bella. My presence made him bristle a little, but he wasn’t antagonistic. He’d already spoken to Angela and made a date for this weekend. Her reception of his invitation had been warm, and he was still riding the high. Though he was wary of my intentions, he was cognizant that I had acted as catalyst for his current happiness. As long as I stayed away from Angela, he had no problem with me. There was even a hint of gratitude, though he had no idea this was exactly the outcome I’d desired, too. He seemed a clever boy—he rose in my estimation.

"Perhaps you can become a tanner's apprentice one day."


Bella was in Gym, but as in the second half of yesterday’s class, she did not participate. Her eyes were far away whenever Mike Newton turned to look at her. She was obviously elsewhere in her head. Mike guessed that anything he had to say to her would be unwelcome.

Guess I never really had a chance, he thought, half-resigned, half-sullen. How did it even happen? It was, like, overnight. Guess when Cullen wants something, it doesn’t take him long to get it. The images that followed, his ideas of what I’d gotten, were offensive. I stopped listening.

Gasp! Shield these impure thoughts from your virginal brain, Cullen! You know not what they will do to your innocence!


I didn’t like his perspective. As though Bella had no will of her own. Surely, she’d been the one to choose, hadn’t she? If she had ever asked me to leave her alone, I would have turned around and walked the other way. But she’d wanted me to stay, then and now.

My thoughts drifted back to check in on the Spanish classroom, and they naturally tuned in to the most familiar voice, but my mind was tangled around Bella as usual, so for a moment I didn’t realize what I was hearing.

And then my teeth clamped together so hard that even the humans near me heard. One boy looked around for the source of the cracking sound.

Oops, Emmett thought.

I curled my hands into fists and concentrated on staying in my seat.

Sorry, I was trying not to think about that.

I glanced at the clock. Fifteen minutes before I could punch him in the face.

I didn’t mean any harm. Hey, I took your side, right? Honestly, Jasper and Rose are just being silly, betting against Alice. It’s the easiest wager I’ll ever win.

A wager about this weekend, whether Bella would live or die.

Fourteen and a half minutes.

Edward is having his overly dramatic sparkle reveal and his siblings are holding a death pool back home. This is incredible.


Emmett squirmed in his seat, well aware what my total motionlessness indicated.

C’mon, Ed. You know it wasn’t serious. Anyway, it’s not even about the girl. You know better than I do whatever’s going on with Rose. Something between you two, I guess. She’s still mad, and she wouldn’t admit for all the world that she’s actually rooting for you.

He always gave Rosalie the benefit of the doubt, and though I knew that I was just the opposite—I never gave her the benefit of the doubt—I didn’t think he was right this time. Rosalie would be pleased to see me fail in this. She would be happy to see Bella’s poor choices receive what she considered their just reward. And then she’d still be jealous as Bella’s soul escaped to whatever waited beyond.

And Jazz—well, you know. He’s tired of being the weakest link. You’re kind of too perfect with the self-control, and it gets annoying. Carlisle’s different. Admit it, you’re a little… smug.

Just inject it right into my veins.


Thirteen minutes.

For Emmett and Jasper, this was just some sticky pit of quicksand I’d created for myself. Fail or succeed—to them, in the end it was nothing more than another anecdote about me. Bella wasn’t part of the equation. Her life was only a marker in the bet they’d made.

Don’t take it personally.

There was another way? Twelve and a half minutes.

You want me to back out of it? I will.

I sighed, and let the rigidity of my pose relax.

So....what are they betting?


What was the point of stoking my anger? Should I blame them for their inability to understand? How could they?

How meaningless it all was. Infuriating, yes, but… would I have been any different if it hadn’t been my life that had changed? If it hadn’t been about Bella?

Regardless, I didn’t have time to fight with Emmett now. I would be waiting for Bella when she was done with Gym. So many more pieces to the puzzle I needed to discover.

I heard Emmett’s relief as I darted out the door at the first sound of the bell, ignoring him.

Feb 21, 2006


The new material isn’t terrible when Bella has something resembling a personality and Edward has moments of awkwardly trying to learn about the girl he likes.

Nov 4, 2009

doot doot dee
doot doot doot
doot doot dee
dee doot doot
doot doot dee
dee doot doot

College Slice

Of course one of the only dragon novels Bella likes is the one that's just a Victorian romance but with dragons.

Apr 23, 2014


When Bella walked through the gymnasium door and saw me, a smile spread across her face. I felt the same relief I had in the car this morning. All my doubts and torments seemed to lift from my shoulders. I knew that they were still very real, but the weight was so much easier to carry when I could see her.

“Tell me about your home,” I said as we walked to the car. “What do you miss?”

“Um… my house? Or Phoenix? Or do you mean here?”

“All of those.”

She looked at me questioningly—was I serious?

"That question doesn't even make sense if it's about all of those at once!"


“Please?” I asked as I held her door for her.

She raised one eyebrow as she climbed in, still doubting.

But when I was inside and we were alone again, she seemed to relax.

“Have you never been to Phoenix?”

I smiled. “No.”

“Right,” she said. “Of course. The sun.” She speculated about that silently for a moment. “It creates some kind of a problem for you…?”

“Indeed.” I wasn’t about to try to explain that answer. It was really something that had to be seen to be understood. Also, Phoenix was a little too close for comfort to the lands the aggressive Southern clans claimed, but that wasn’t a story I wanted to get into, either.

It's a story I want to go into!


She waited, wondering if I would elaborate.

“So tell me about this place I’ve never seen,” I prompted.

She considered for a moment. “The city is mostly very flat, not much taller than one or two stories. There are a few baby skyscrapers downtown, but that was pretty far away from where I lived. Phoenix is huge. You can drive through suburbs all day. Lots of stucco and tile and gravel. It’s not all soft and squishy like it is here—everything is hard and most things have thorns.”

“But you like it.”

She nodded with a grin. “It’s so… open. Just all sky. The things we call mountains are really just hills—hard, thorny hills. But most of the valley is a big, shallow bowl and it feels like it’s filled with sunlight all the time.” She illustrated the shape with her hands. “The plants are like modern art compared to the stuff here—lots of angles and edges. Mostly spiky.” Another grin. “But they’re all open, too. Even if there are leaves, they’re just feathery, sparse things. Nothing can really hide there. Nothing keeps the sun out.”

She's leaving out that Phoenix has some of the scariest drivers I've ever encountered. I once saw a woman with a smashed-up car cut across every lane of traffic to turn, one hand clutching her roof, screaming.


I stopped the car in front of her house. My usual spot.

“Well, it does rain occasionally,” she amended. “But it’s different there. More exciting. Lots of thunder and lightning and flash floods—not just the nonstop drizzle thing. And it smells better there. That’s the creosote.”

I knew the evergreen desert shrubs she referred to. I’d seen them through a car window in Southern California—only at night. They weren’t much to look at.

“I’ve never smelled the scent of creosote,” I admitted.

“They only smell in the rain.”

“What is it like?”

She thought about that for a moment. “Sweet and bitter at the same time. A little like resin, a little like medicine. But that sounds bad. It smells fresh. Like clean desert.” She chuckled. “That’s not helpful, is it?”

What would be much more helpful is if Edward knew something surprisingly poignant about creosote for a vampire story: as the oldest branches die, the stem crown splits into many separate crowns that form new bushes. This results in a clonal colony, essentially a continuation of the same organism. Pictured above is "King Clone", a creosote clonal colony in the Mojave Desert, which is estimated at 11,700 years old and thus one of the oldest organisms on Earth. Left undisturbed, it's one of the closest things to an immortal being that we get.


“On the contrary. What else have I missed, not visiting Arizona?”

“Saguaros, but I’m sure you’ve seen pictures.”

I nodded.

“They’re bigger than you’d expect, when you see them in person. It takes all the newbies by surprise. Have you ever lived anywhere with cicadas?”

“Yes,” I laughed. “We were in New Orleans for a while.”

“Then you know,” she said. “I had a job last summer at a plant nursery. The screaming—it’s like nails on a chalkboard. It drove me crazy.”

Welcome to the south, motherfuckers!


"What else?"

“Hmm. The colors are different. The mountains—hills or whatever—are mostly volcanic. Lots of purple rock. It’s dark enough that it holds a lot of heat from the sun. So does the blacktop. In the summer, it never cools off—frying an egg on the sidewalk is not an urban myth. But there’s lots of green from the golf courses. Some people keep lawns, too, though I think that’s crazy. Anyway, the contrast in the colors is cool.”

I've mentioned how Meyer specifically grew up in Scottsdale, a part of the Phoenix area famously full of golf courses.


“What’s your favorite place to spend time?”

“The library.” She grinned. “If I hadn’t already outed myself as a huge nerd, I guess that makes it obvious. I feel like I’ve read every fiction book in the little branch near me. The first place I went when I got my license was the central library downtown. I could live there.”

“Where else?”

“In the summer, we’d go to the pool at Cactus Park. My mom had me in swimming lessons there before I could walk. There was always some story in the news about a toddler drowning, and it freaked her out. In the winter, we’d go to Roadrunner Park. It’s not huge, but it had a little lake. We’d sail paper boats when I was a kid. Nothing very exciting, like I’ve been trying to tell you.…”

“I think it sounds lovely. I don’t remember much about my childhood.”

Her teasing smile faded, and her eyebrows pulled together. “That must be difficult. And strange.”

It was my turn to shrug. “It’s all I know. Certainly nothing to worry about.”

Imagine having to wait over 10 loving years just for Bella Swan to be given backstory. You guys are the lucky ones.


She was quiet for a long time, turning this over in her head.

I waited out her silence for as long I as could stand it before I finally asked, “What are you thinking?”

Her smile was more subdued now. “I have a lot of questions. But I know—”

We spoke the words simultaneously.

“Today is my day.”

“Today is your day.”

Our laughs were synchronized now, too, and I thought how strangely easy it was to be with her this way. Just close enough. The danger felt far away. I was so entertained I was nearly oblivious to the pain in my throat, though it was not dull. It just wasn’t as interesting to think about as she was.

That was....actually cute and had some chemistry to it? What the gently caress?


“Have I sold you on Phoenix yet?” she asked after another quiet moment.

“Perhaps I need a bit more persuasion.”

She considered. “There’s this one kind of acacia tree—I don’t know what it’s called. It looks like all the others, thorny, half-dead.” Her expression was suddenly full of longing. “But in the springtime, it has these yellow fuzzy blossoms that look like pom-poms.” She demonstrated the size, pretending to hold a blossom between her thumb and index finger. “They smell… amazing. Like nothing else. Really faint, delicate—you’ll get a sudden hint of them in the breeze and then it’s gone. I should have included them with my favorite scents. I wish someone would make a candle or something.

“And then the sunsets are incredible,” she continued, switching subjects abruptly. “Seriously, you’ll never see anything close here.” She thought for another moment. “Even in the middle of the day, though, the sky—that’s the main thing. It’s not blue like the sky here—when you can even see it here. It’s brighter, paler. Sometimes it’s almost white. And it’s everywhere.” She emphasized her words with her hand, tracing an arc over her head. “There’s so much more sky there. If you get away from the lights of the city a little bit, you can see a million stars.” She smiled a wistful smile. “You really ought to check it out some night.”

“It’s beautiful to you.”

She nodded. “It’s not for everybody, I guess.” She paused, thoughtful, but I could see that there was more, so I let her think.

“I like the… minimalism,” she decided. “It’s an honest sort of place. It doesn’t hide anything.”

Who are you and what have you done with our Bella Swan?


I thought of everything that was hidden from her here, and I wondered if her words meant that she was aware of this, of the invisible darkness gathered around her. But she stared at me with no judgment in her eyes.

She didn’t add anything more, and I thought by the way she was tucking her chin just slightly she might again be feeling like she was talking too much.

“You must miss it a great deal,” I prompted.

Her expression didn’t cloud over the way I half expected. “I did at first.”

“But now?”

“I guess I’m used to it here.” She smiled as though she was more than simply resigned to the forest and the rain.

“Tell me about your home there.”

She shrugged. “It’s nothing unusual. Stucco and tile, like I said. One story, three bedrooms, two baths. I miss my little bathroom most. Sharing with Charlie is stressful. Gravel and cactus outside. Everything inside is vintage seventies—wood paneling, linoleum, shag carpet, mustard Formica counters, the works. My mom’s not big on renovations. She claims the dated stuff has character.”

There's nothing unusual about that?


“What is your bedroom like?”

Her expression made me wonder if there was a joke I wasn’t getting. “Now or when I lived there?”


“I think it’s a yoga studio or something. My stuff is in the garage.”

I stared, surprised. “What will you do when you go back?”

She didn’t seem concerned. “We’ll shove the bed back in somehow.”

“Wasn’t there a third bedroom?”

“That’s her craft room. It would take an act of God to make space for a bed in there.” She laughed blithely. I would have thought she’d be planning to spend more time with her mother, but she spoke as though her time in Phoenix was past rather than future. I recognized the feeling of relief this engendered but tried to keep it off my face.

This book is giving us so much detail that it's practically retconning the series! We get more detail on Renee's personality (even with a whole spare bedroom to herself normally, she still can't resist taking over her daughter's bedroom on a whim even if her disappearance is temporary), but this early Bella is already starting to show second thoughts about returning to taking care of her mother. As much as she loves her and for all the good memories they've had, there's clearly some form of tension.

This is....actual characterization and backstory that makes sense. What series am I reading?


“What was your room like when you lived there?”

A minor blush. “Um, messy. I’m not the most organized.”

“Tell me about it.”

Again she gave me the you must be kidding look, but when I didn’t retract, she complied, miming the shapes with her hands.

“It’s a narrow room. Twin bed on the south wall and dresser on the north under the window, with a pretty tight aisle in between. I did have a little walk-in closet, which would have been cool, if I could have kept it tidy enough to be able to actually walk into it. My room here is bigger and less of a disaster, but that’s because I haven’t been here long enough to make a serious mess.”

I made my face smooth, hiding the fact that I knew very well what her room was like here, and also my surprise that her room in Phoenix had been more cluttered.

“Um…” She looked to see if I wanted more, and I nodded to encourage her. “The ceiling fan is broken, just the light works, so I had a big noisy fan on top of the dresser. It sounds like a wind tunnel in the summer. But it’s a lot better for sleep than the rain here. The sound of the rain isn’t consistent enough.”

Okay but thunderstorms are great.


The thought of rain had me glancing at the sky, and then being shocked by the dimness of the light. I couldn’t understand the way time bent and compressed when I was with her. How was our allotment up already?

She misunderstood my preoccupation.

“Are you finished?” she asked, sounding relieved.

“Not even close,” I told her. “But your father will be home soon.”

“Charlie!” she gasped, as though she’d forgotten that he existed. “How late is it?” She looked at the dashboard clock as she asked.

I stared at the clouds—though they were thick, it was obvious where the sun must be behind them.

“It’s twilight,” I said. The time when vampires came out to play—when we never had to fear that a shifting cloud might cause us trouble—when we could enjoy the last remnants of light in the sky without worrying that we would be exposed.

No, Peter, you already did this one.


I looked down to find her staring curiously at me, hearing more in my tone than just the words I’d spoken.

“It’s the safest time of day for us,” I explained. “The easiest time. But also the saddest, in a way… the end of another day, the return of the night.” So many years of night. I tried to shake off the heaviness in my voice. “Darkness is so predictable, don’t you think?”

“I like the night,” she said, contrary as usual. “Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.” A frown rearranged her features. “Not that you see them here much.”

I laughed at her expression. So, still not entirely reconciled to Forks. I thought of the stars she’d described in Phoenix and wondered if they were like the stars in Alaska—so bright and clear and close. I wished that I could take her there tonight so we could make the comparison. But she had a normal life to lead.

If Bella wasn't still in high school, this boy would have just driven off to Alaska right there on the spot with her.


“Charlie will be here in a few minutes,” I told her. I could just hear a hint of his mind, perhaps a mile out, driving slowly this way. His mind was on her. “So, unless you want to tell him that you’ll be with me Saturday…”

I understood that there were many reasons Bella wouldn’t want her father to know about our involvement. But I wished… not just because I needed that extra encouragement to keep her safe, not just because I thought the threat to my family would help control my monster. I wished she would… want her father to know me. Want me to be part of the normal life she led.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” she said quickly.

Of course it was an impossible wish. Like so many others.

You need to make it a kokoro wish, fool!


She started to organize her things as she prepared to leave. “So is it my turn tomorrow, then?” she asked. She glanced up at me with bright, curious eyes.

“Certainly not! I told you I wasn’t done, didn’t I?”

She frowned, confused. “What more is there?”

Everything. “You’ll find out tomorrow.”

Charlie was getting closer. I reached across her to open her door, and heard her heart start thumping loudly and unevenly. Our eyes met, and it seemed like an invitation again. Could I be allowed to touch her face, just one more time?

Unevenly? Edward, she has a heart arrhythmia! You need to get her to a hospital immediately!


And then I froze, my hand on her door handle.

Another car was headed to the corner. It was not Charlie’s; he was still two streets up, so I’d paid little attention to these unfamiliar thoughts heading, I assumed, to one of the other houses on the street.

But one word caught my attention now.


Ought to be safe enough for the boy. No reason to run into any vampires here
, the mind thought, even if this is neutral territory. I hope I was right to bring him into town.

What were the odds?

“Not good,” I breathed.

“What is it?” she asked, anxious as she processed the change in my face.

There was nothing I could do now. What rotten luck.

“Another complication,” I admitted.

The car turned onto the short street, heading directly for Charlie’s house. As the headlights lit up my car, I heard a young, enthusiastic reaction from the other mind inside the old Ford Tempo.

Wow. Is that an S60 R? I’ve never seen one in real life before. Cool. Wonder who drives one of those around here? Custom-painted aftermarket front splitter… semi-slicks… That thing must tear the road up. I need to get a look at the exhaust.…

Well, I think we all know who this is!


I didn’t concentrate on the boy, though I’m sure I would have enjoyed the knowledgeable interest another day. I opened her door, throwing it wider than necessary, then I jerked away, leaning forward toward the oncoming lights, waiting.

“Charlie’s around the corner,” I warned her.

She jumped quickly out into the rain, but there wasn’t any time for her to get inside before they saw us together. She slammed the door, but then hesitated there, staring at the oncoming vehicle.

The car parked facing mine, its headlights shining directly into my car.

And suddenly the older man’s thoughts were screaming with shock and fear.

Cold one! Vampire! Cullen!

I stared out the windshield, meeting his gaze. There was no way I would find any resemblance to his grandfather; I’d never seen Ephraim in his human form. But this would be Billy Black, no doubt, with his son Jacob.

As if to confirm my assumption, the boy leaned forward with a smile.

Oh, it’s Bella!

A small part of me noted that, yes, she had definitely done some damage during her snooping in La Push.

From Bella's perspective, this was a pretty random and confusing scene. From Edward's perspective, things are real loving awkward.


But I was mostly focused on the father, the one who knew.

He was correct before—this was neutral territory. I had as much right to be here as he did, and he knew that. I could see it in the tightening of his frightened, angry face, the clenching of his jaw.

What is it doing here? What should I do?

We’d been in Forks for two years; no one had been harmed. But his horror couldn’t have been stronger if we’d been slaughtering a new victim every day.

I glared at him, my lips pulling back just slightly from my teeth in an automatic response to his hostility.

It would not be helpful to antagonize him, though. Carlisle would be displeased if I did something to worry the old man. I could only hope that he adhered to our treaty better than his son had.

I peeled out, the boy appreciating the sound of my tires—only street legal by the smallest degree—as they squealed against the wet pavement. He turned to analyze the car’s exhaust as I drove away.

Ah, good ol' Jacob. Before he got destroyed in the name of love triangles and pedophilia.


I passed Charlie as I went around the next corner, slowing automatically as he noted my speed with a businesslike frown. He continued home, and I could hear the muffled surprise in his thoughts, wordless but clear, as he took in the car waiting in front of his house. He forgot all about the silver Volvo that had been speeding.

I stopped two streets up and left my car parked unobtrusively beside the forest between two wide-spaced lots. In seconds I was soaking wet, hidden in the thick branches of the spruce that overlooked her backyard, the same place I’d hidden on that first sunny day.

It was hard to follow Charlie. I didn’t hear anything worrisome in his vague thoughts. Just enthusiasm—he must have been happy to see his visitors. Nothing had been said to upset him… yet.

Billy’s head was a seething mass of questions as Charlie greeted him and ushered him inside. As far as I could tell, Billy hadn’t made any decisions. I was glad to hear thoughts of the treaty mixed in with his agitation. Hopefully that would tie his tongue.

The boy followed Bella as she escaped to the kitchen—ah, his infatuation was clear in his every thought. But it was not hard to listen to his mind, the way it was with Mike Newton or her other admirers. There was something very… engaging about Jacob Black’s mind. Pure and open. It reminded me a bit of Angela’s, only not so demure. I felt suddenly sorry that this particular boy was born my enemy. His was the rare kind of mind that was easy to be inside. Restful, almost.

Ohhhh buddy.


In the front room, Charlie had noticed Billy’s abstraction, but did not ask. There was some strain between them—an old disagreement from long ago.

Jacob was asking Bella about me. Once he heard my name, he laughed.

“Guess that explains it, then,” he said. “I wondered why my dad was acting so strange.”

“That’s right,” Bella responded with overdone innocence. “He doesn’t like the Cullens.”

“Superstitious old man,” the boy muttered.

Yes, we should have foreseen that it would be this way. Of course the young members of the tribe would see their history as myth—embarrassing, humorous, even more so because the elder members took it so seriously.

They rejoined their fathers in the front room. Bella’s eyes were always on Billy while he and Charlie watched television. It looked as if, like me, she was waiting for a breach.

None came. The Blacks left before it was very late. It was a school night, after all. I followed them on foot back to the boundary line between our territories, just to be sure that Billy didn’t ask his son to turn around. But his thoughts were still confused. There were names I didn’t know, people he would consult with tonight. Even as he continued to panic, he knew what the other elders would say. Seeing a vampire face-to-face had unsettled him, but it changed nothing.

As they drove past the point where I could hear them, I felt fairly sure that there was no new danger. Billy would follow the rules. What choice did he have? If we broke the treaty, there was nothing the old men could actually do about it. They’d lost their teeth. If they broke the treaty… well, we were even stronger than before. Seven instead of five. Surely that would make them careful.

Though Carlisle would never allow us to enforce the treaty that way. Instead of heading directly back to Bella’s house, I decided to make a detour to the hospital. My father had a late shift tonight.

Yes, because Carlisle's not a murderer!

Well, not until Breaking Dawn. Man, that book was even more of a mess in retrospect.


I could hear his thoughts in the emergency ward. He was examining a delivery truck driver from Olympia with a deep puncture wound in his hand. I walked into the lobby, recognizing Jenny Austin at the desk. She was preoccupied with a call from her teenage daughter and barely acknowledged my wave as I passed her.

I didn’t want to interrupt, so I just walked past the curtain Carlisle was hidden behind and then continued on to his office. He would recognize the sound of my footsteps—unaccompanied by a heartbeat—and then my scent. He would know I wanted to see him, and that it wasn’t an emergency.

He joined me in his office only moments later.

“Edward? Is everything all right?”

“Yes. I just wanted you to know right away—Billy Black saw me at Bella’s house tonight. He said nothing to Charlie, but…”

“Hmm,” Carlisle said. We’ve been here so long, it would be unfortunate if tensions arose again.

“It’s probably nothing. He just wasn’t prepared to be two yards away from a cold one. The others will talk him down. After all, what can they do about it?”

Carlisle frowned. You shouldn’t think of it that way. “Though they’ve lost their protectors, they are in no danger from us.”

“No. Of course not.”

Of course Edward, being an rear end in a top hat, still defaults to murder as a solution to his problems.


He shook his head slowly, puzzling about the best course of action. There didn’t seem to be one, other than ignoring this unlucky encounter. I’d already come to the same conclusion.

“Will you… be coming home soon?” Carlisle asked suddenly.

I felt ashamed as soon as he voiced his question. “Is Esme very upset with me?”

“Not upset with you… about you, yes.” She worries. She misses you.

I sighed and nodded. Bella would be safe enough inside her house for a few hours. Probably. “I’ll go home now.”

“Thank you, Son.”

Oh yeah, Edward hasn't even been back home properly in days except for that quick stop in the last chapter! He's just been stalking Bella every night!


I spent the evening with my mother, letting her fuss over me a bit. She made me change into dry clothes—more to protect the floors she’d spent so much time finishing than anything else. The others had cleared out, and I saw that this was her request; Carlisle had called ahead. I appreciated the quiet. We sat at the piano together and I played as we talked.

“How are you, Edward?” was her first question. It wasn’t a casual query. She was anxious about my answer.

“I’m… not entirely sure,” I told her honestly. “It’s up and down.”

She listened to the notes for a moment, occasionally touching a key that would harmonize with the tune.

She causes you pain.

I shook my head. “I cause my own pain. It’s not her fault.”

Correct, all of this is your fault!


It’s not your fault, either.

“I am what I am.”

And that’s not your fault.

I smiled humorlessly. “You blame Carlisle?”

No. Do you?


Then why blame yourself?

I didn’t have a ready answer. Truly, I did not resent Carlisle for what he had done, and yet… didn’t someone have to be to blame? Wasn’t that person me?

Yes, 100%! It's literally just you who's breaking basic human boundaries and fantasizing about murdering boys who have a crush on a girl you barely knew until this week! Esme is completely wrong!


I hate to see you suffer.

“It’s not all suffering.” Not yet.

This girl… she makes you happy?

I sighed. “Yes… when I’m not getting in my own way. She does indeed.”

“Then that’s all right.” She seemed relieved.

My mouth twisted. “Is it?”

She was silent, her thoughts analyzing my answers, picturing Alice’s face, thinking of her visions. She was aware of the wager and also that I knew about it. She was upset with Jasper and Rose.

But did Carlisle make a bet? The book hasn't said either way!


What will it mean for him, if she dies?

I cringed, yanking my fingers off the keys.

“I’m sorry,” she said swiftly. “I didn’t mean to—”

I shook my head, and she fell silent. I stared at my hands, cold and sharp-angled, inhuman.

“I don’t know how…,” I whispered. “How I move past that. I can’t see anything… nothing past that.”

She put her arms around my shoulders, lacing her fingers together into a tight knot. “That’s not going to happen. I know it won’t.”

“I wish I could be as sure.”

I stared at her hands, so much like mine, but not. I couldn’t hate them the same way. They were stone, too, but not… not a monster’s hands. They were a mother’s hands, kind and gentle.

I am sure. You won’t hurt her.

“So you’ve placed your money with Alice and Emmett, I see.”

She unlaced her fingers to smack me lightly on the shoulder. “This is not a joking matter.”

“No, it isn’t.”

But when Jasper and Rosalie lose, I won’t be angry if Emmett rubs it in a bit.

Emmett's still the ultimate bro.


“I doubt he’ll disappoint you there.”

Nor will you disappoint me, Edward. Oh, my son, how I do love you. When the hard part is over… I’m going to be very happy, you know. I think I will love this girl.

I looked at her with raised eyebrows.

You wouldn’t be so cruel as to keep her from me, would you?

“Now you sound just like Alice.”

“I don’t know why you fight her on anything. Easier to embrace the inevitable.”

I frowned but started playing again. “You’re right,” I said after a moment. “I won’t hurt her.”

Of course you won’t.

"Also, who will be the first to tell her that you're biologically less than a decade older than her? She might find the 'mom' thing really weird."


She kept her arms around me, and after a few moments I laid my head against the top of hers. She sighed, and hugged me tighter. It made me feel vaguely childlike. As I had told Bella, I didn’t have memories of being a child, nothing concrete. But there was a kind of sense memory in the feeling of her arms around me. My first mother must have held me, too; it must have comforted me in the same way.

When the song was finished, I sighed and straightened up.

You’ll go to her now?


She frowned, confused. What do you do all night?

I smiled. “Think… and burn. And listen.”

She touched my throat. “I don’t like that this causes you pain.”

“That’s the easiest part. It’s nothing, really.”

"It's mostly just padding out the word count at this point."


And the hardest part?

I thought about that for a minute. There were lots of answers that could be true, but one felt the most true.

“I think… that I can’t be human with her. That the best version is the one that is impossible.”

Her eyebrows pulled together.

“Everything will be all right, Esme.” It was so easy for me to lie to her. I was the only one who could ever lie in this house.

Yes, it will be. She couldn’t be in better hands.

I laughed, again without humor. But I would try to prove my mother right.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 14: Closer

What? They let Linkin Park in!


It was peaceful in Bella's room tonight. Even the fitful rain, which usually made her uneasy, did not disturb her. Despite the pain, I was peaceful, too—calmer than I’d been in my own home with my mother’s arms around me. Bella mumbled my name in her sleep, as she often did, and smiled as she said it.

In the morning, Charlie mentioned her cheerful mood over breakfast, and it was my turn to smile. At least, if nothing else, I made her happy, too.

She climbed into my car quickly today, with a wide, eager smile, seeming just as hungry to be together as I was.

“How did you sleep?” I asked her.

“Fine. How was your night?”

I smiled. “Pleasant.”

Still disturbing!


She pursed her lips. “Can I ask what you did?”

I could imagine what my level of interest would be if I had to spend eight hours unconscious, totally unaware of her. But I wasn’t ready to answer that question now… or maybe ever.

“No. Today is still mine.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes. “I don’t think there’s anything I haven’t told you.”

“Tell me more about your mother.”

It was one of my favorite subjects, because it was obviously one of hers.

“Okay. Um, my mom is kind of… wild, I guess? Not like a tiger is wild, like a sparrow, like a deer. She just, doesn’t do well in cages? My gran—who was totally normal, by the way, and had no idea where my mom came from—used to call her a will-o’-the-wisp. I got the feeling that raising my mom through her teenage years was no cakewalk. Anyway, it’s pretty hard for her to stay in one place very long. Getting to wander off with Phil with no sure end destination in mind… well, I think it’s the happiest I’ve ever seen her. She tried really hard for me, though. Made do with weekend adventures and constantly switching jobs. I did what I could to free her from all the mundane stuff. I imagine Phil will do the same. I feel like… kind of a bad daughter. Because I’m a little relieved, you know?” She made an apologetic face, turning her palms up. “She doesn’t have to stay in place for me anymore. That’s a weight off. And then Charlie… I never thought about him needing me, but he really does. That house is too empty for him.”

Wow, Renee manages to be even worse than we expected! "I'm sorry I can't give you any kind of stability or a consistent income while raising you! I'm just so wild and free! Please do all the adult stuff for me~"


I nodded thoughtfully, sifting through this mine of information. I wished I could meet this woman who had shaped so much of Bella’s character. Part of me would have preferred that Bella had an easier, more traditional childhood—that she could have gotten to be the child. But she wouldn’t have been the same person, and truly, she didn’t seem resentful in any way. She liked to be the caretaker, liked to be needed.

Oh, but that's okay, because Bella secretly has a desire to take care of people like any good future mother!


Perhaps this was the real secret as to why she was drawn to me. Had anyone ever needed her more?

I left her at her classroom door, and the morning passed much as the day before. Alice and I sleepwalked our way through Gym. I watched Bella’s face through Jessica Stanley’s eyes again, noting, as the human girl did, how very little of Bella seemed to be in the classroom at all.

I wonder why Bella doesn’t want to talk about it? Jessica wondered. Keeping him to herself, I guess. Unless she was telling the truth before, and there’s nothing actually happening. Her mind ran over Bella’s denials on Wednesday morning—It’s not like that, when Jessica had asked about kissing—and her inference that Bella had looked disappointed.

That would be like torture, Jessica thought now. Look but don’t touch.

Now for Jessica to dramatically fling herself across the bleachers to wail in agony.


The word startled me.

Like torture? Obviously an exaggeration, but… would such a thing actually cause Bella pain—no matter how minor? Surely not, knowing as she did the realities of the situation. I frowned and caught Alice’s questioning glance. I shook my head at her.

She looks happy enough, Jessica was thinking, watching Bella as she stared through the clerestory windows with unfocused eyes. She must have been lying to me. Or there have been new developments.

Nobody in their life has used the phrase "stared through the clerestory windows."


Oh! Alice’s sudden stillness alerted me at the same time as her mental exclamation. The picture in her mind was of the cafeteria at some near future date and…

Well, it’s about time! she thought, breaking into a huge grin.

The pictures developed—Alice standing behind my shoulder in the cafeteria today, across the table from Bella. The very brief introduction. How it began was not yet fixed. It wavered, dependent on some other factor. But it would be soon, if not today.

I sighed, absently swatting the birdie back across the net. It flew better than it would have had my attention been focused; I scored a point as the coach blew his whistle to end class. Alice was already moving toward the door.

Don’t be such a baby. It’s not much. And I can already see that you won’t stop me.

Alice is just grinding him under her heel.


I closed my eyes and shook my head. “No, it won’t be very much,” I agreed quietly as we walked together.

“I can be patient. Baby steps.”

I rolled my eyes.

It was always a relief when I could leave the secondary vantage points behind and just see Bella for myself, but I was still thinking about Jessica’s assumptions when Bella came through the classroom door. She smiled a wide, warm smile, and it looked to me, too, like she was very happy. I shouldn’t worry about impossibilities when they weren’t bothering her.

There was one line of questions that I had been reluctant to open thus far. But with Jessica’s thoughts still in my head, I was suddenly more curious than I was averse.

We sat at what was now our usual table, and she picked at the food I’d gotten for her—I’d been quicker than her today.

Or just let her pick her own food, jackass!


“Tell me about your first date,” I said.

Her eyes got bigger, and her cheeks flushed. She hesitated.

“You’re not going to tell me?”

“I’m just not sure… what actually counts.”

“Put the qualifications at their lowest setting,” I suggested.

She stared toward the ceiling, thinking with her lips pursed. “Well, then I guess that would be Mike—a different Mike,” she said quickly when my expression changed. “He was my square-dancing partner in the sixth grade. I was invited to his birthday party—it was a movie.” She smiled. “The second Mighty Ducks. I was the only one who showed up. Later, people said it was a date. I don’t know who started that rumor.”

They probably figured nobody would show up to watch D2: The Mighty Ducks on purpose.


I’d seen the school pictures in her father’s house, so I had a mental reference for eleven-year-old Bella. It sounded like things weren’t so different for her then. “That’s perhaps setting the bar a little too low.”

That's a very casual way of mentioning you sneaking through her house!


She grinned. “You said the lowest setting.”

“Continue, then.”

Her lips twisted to the side as she considered. “A few friends were going to the ice rink with some boys. They needed me to even up the numbers. I wouldn’t have gone if I’d realized that it meant I was matched up with Reed Merchant.” She shuddered delicately. “And of course, I figured out pretty quickly that ice skating was a bad idea. My injuries were minor, but the plus side was that I got to sit by the snack bar and read for the rest of the night.” She smiled, almost… triumphantly.

I had the same thing happen on a roller rink field trip!


“Shall we skip to an actual date?”

“You mean like, someone asked me out in advance and then we went someplace alone together?”

“That sounds like a workable definition.”

She smiled the same triumphant smile. “Sorry, then, I’ve got nothing.”

I frowned. “No one ever asked you out on a date before you came here? Really?”

“I’m not totally sure. Is it a date? Is it just friends hanging out?” She shrugged. “Not that it mattered much. I never had time for either. After a while the word gets around, and no one asks again.”

“Were you actually busy? Or making excuses like you do here?”

“Actually busy,” she insisted, a little offended. “Running a house is time-consuming, and I usually had a part-time job, too, not to mention school. If I’m going to get to college, I’m going to need a full-ride scholarship, and—”

Wow, living with Renee sounds like the worst thing ever!


“Hold that thought,” I interrupted. “Before we move on to the next subject, I’d like to finish this one. If you hadn’t been so busy, were any of these invitations ones you would have liked to accept?”

She tilted her head to the side. “Not really. I mean, other than just to have a night out. They weren’t particularly interesting boys.”

“And other boys? Who didn’t ask?”

She shook her head, her clear eyes appearing to hide nothing. “I wasn’t paying that much attention.”

My eyes narrowed. “So you never met anyone you wanted?”

She sighed again. “Not in Phoenix.”

We stared at each other for a moment while I processed the fact that, just as she was my first love, according to this I was also her first… infatuation at the very least. This alignment pleased me in some strange way, but also troubled me. Surely this was a warped, unhealthy way for her to begin her romantic life. And then there was the knowledge that she would be both first and last for me. It would not be the same for a human heart.

You're right, this is extremely warped and unhealthy! Good to hear it! Book's over!


“I know it’s not my day, but—”

“No, it’s not.”

“C’mon,” she insisted. “I just spilled my entire embarrassing lack-of-dating history.”

I smiled. “Mine is quite similar, actually—minus the ice-skating and trick birthday parties. I haven’t been paying much attention, either.”

She looked like she didn’t quite believe me, but it was true. I’d also had a few offers I’d turned down. Not quite the same kind of offers, I admitted to myself, picturing Tanya’s pouting face.

Come on, she did a cannonball!


“Which college would you like to go to?” I asked.

“Um…” She shook her head just slightly, as if to adjust to the new subject. “Well, I used to think ASU was the most practical, because I could live at home. But with Mom moving around now, I guess my field is more open. It will have to be a state school—something reasonable—even with a scholarship. When I first came here… well, I was glad that Charlie doesn’t live close enough to Washington State to make that practical.”

“Are you disparaging our fine state’s Cougars?”

"They taste great!"


“Nothing against the institution—just the weather.”

“And if you could go anywhere—if the cost were no object—where would you go?”

While she considered my question about this hypothetical future, I tried to picture a future that I could live with. Bella at twenty, at twenty-two, twenty-four… how long before she outgrew me, unchanging as I was? I would accept that time limit if it meant that she could be healthy and human and happy. If only I could make myself safe for her, right for her, make myself fit into that happy picture for every second of the time that she allowed me.

I wondered again how I could make this happen—be with her without negatively impacting her life. Stay in Persephone’s spring, keep her safe from my underworld.

Please read the story again.


It was easy to see that she wouldn’t be happy in my usual haunts. Obviously. But as long as she wanted me, I would follow her. It would mean many slow days indoors, but that was such a negligible price, it was barely worth noting.

“I’d have to do some research. Most of the fancy schools are in the snow zone.” She grinned. “I wonder what colleges in Hawaii are like?”

“Lovely, I’m sure. And after school? What then?” I realized how important it was for me to know her plans for the future. So I didn’t derail them. So I could shape this unlikely future into the best version to suit her.

“Something with books. I always thought I would teach like—well, not exactly like my mom. If I could… I’d like to teach on a college level somewhere—probably a community college. Elective English classes—so that everyone who’s signed up is there because they want to be.”

“Is that what you’ve always wanted?”

She shrugged. “Mostly. I once thought of working for a publisher—as an editor or something.” Her nose wrinkled. “I did some research. It’s a lot easier to get a job as a teacher. Much more practical.”

I dunno, Meyer's editors don't seem to be working too hard!


Her dreams all had clipped wings—not like those of the usual teenager off to conquer the world. Obviously a product of facing realities long before she should have had to.

She took a bite of her bagel, chewing thoughtfully. I wondered if she was still thinking of the future, or something else. I wondered whether she saw any glimpse of me in that future.

My mind strayed to tomorrow. It should have thrilled me—the idea of a whole day with her. So much time. But I could only think of the moment when she would see what I really was. When I could no longer hide behind my human façade. I tried to imagine her response, and though I was so often wrong when trying to predict her feelings, I knew it could only go two ways. The only valid reaction besides revulsion would be terror.


[quote[I wanted to believe that there was a third possibility. That she would forgive what I was as she had done so often in the past. That she would accept me despite everything. But I couldn’t picture it.

Would I have the nerve to keep my promise? Could I live with myself if I hid this from her?

I thought of the first time I’d seen Carlisle in the sun. I was very young then, still obsessed with blood over anything else, but that sight had caught my attention the way little else had. Though I trusted Carlisle utterly, though I’d already begun to love him, I felt fear. It was all too impossible, too alien. The instinct to defend myself was triggered, and it was several long moments before his calm and reassuring thoughts could have any effect on me. Eventually he talked me into stepping forward myself, to see that the phenomenon did no harm.

And I remembered seeing myself in the brilliant morning light and realizing—more profoundly than I ever had thus far—that I had no relationship at all to my former self. That I was not human.[/quote]

Yes, it is literally just Edward who freaks out and has this reaction to sparkling. Every other vampire is cool with it.


But it wasn’t fair to hide myself from her. It was a lie of omission.

I tried to see her with me in the meadow, what the picture would look like if I weren’t a monster. It was such a beautiful, peaceful place. How I wished she could enjoy it with me still there.

Edward, Alice thought urgently, a hint of panic in her tone that froze me in place.

Suddenly, I was caught up in one of Alice’s visions, staring into a bright circle of sunlight. Disorienting, because I’d just been imagining myself and Bella there—the little meadow where no one ever went besides me—so I wasn’t sure at first that I was seeing inside Alice’s mind and not my own.

But it was different from my own picture—future, not past. Bella stared at me, rainbows dancing across her face, her eyes fathomless. So I was brave enough.

It’s the same place, Alice thought, her mind full of a horror that did not match the vision. Tension, perhaps, but horror? What did she mean, the same place?

And then I saw it.

Edward! Alice protested shrilly. I love her, Edward!

But she didn’t love Bella the way I did. Her vision was preposterous. Wrong. She was blinded somehow, seeing impossibilities. Lies.

Not even a half a second had passed. Bella was still chewing, thinking about some mystery I would never know. She wouldn’t have seen the quick flash of dread across my face.

It was just an old vision. No longer valid. Everything had changed since then.

There's the bizarre interjection with Alice I mentioned had been deleted from a previous chapter, where Edward suddenly starts acting weird and twitchy in the cafeteria while talking to Bella about hunting.


Edward, we have to talk.

There was nothing for Alice and me to talk about. I shook my head ever so slightly, just once. Bella didn’t see.

Alice’s thoughts were a command now. She shoved the picture I couldn’t bear back into the forefront of my mind.

I love her, Edward. I won’t let you just ignore this. We’re leaving, and we’re going to work this through. I’ll give you till the end of the period. Make your excuses—oh!

Her totally benign vision from this morning in Gym interrupted her string of orders. The brief introduction. I saw exactly how it would happen now, down to the second. So this offensive, invalid, outdated vision was the catalyst missing before? My teeth clenched together.

Fine. We would talk. I would sacrifice my time with Bella this afternoon to show Alice how wrong she was. In truth, I knew I wouldn’t be able to rest until I’d made her see that, made her admit she was off this time.

Because it's all about you, right?


She saw the future shift as my mind changed. Thank you.

Odd, given the sudden life and death turn to my afternoon, how crushing it was to lose the time I’d counted on. It should be such a small thing—just a few minutes, really.

I tried to shake off the horror that Alice had inflicted on me so that I wouldn’t ruin the minutes I had left.

“I should have let you drive yourself today,” I said, working hard to keep the desperation out of my voice.

Her eyes snapped up to mine. She swallowed. “Why?”

“I’m leaving with Alice after lunch.”

“Oh.” Her face fell. “That’s okay, it’s not that far of a walk.”

I frowned. “I’m not going to make you walk home.” Did she really think I would leave her stranded? “We’ll go get your truck and leave it here for you.”

“I don’t have my key with me,” she said, and sighed. This was some huge, insurmountable obstacle to her.

“I really don’t mind walking.” “Your truck will be here, and the key will be in the ignition,” I told her. “Unless you’re afraid someone might steal it.” The sound of her engine was as good as a car alarm. Possibly louder. I forced a laugh at the mental image, but the sound was off.


Bella pursed her lips and her eyes went opaque. “All right,” she said. Was she doubting my abilities?

I tried to smile confidently—I was confident that I could not fail in such a simple task—but my muscles were too tight to manage it correctly. She didn’t seem to notice. It looked like she was dealing with her own disappointment.

“So,” she said. “Where are you going?”

Alice showed me the answer to Bella’s question.

“Hunting.” I could hear that my voice was suddenly darker. It was something I would have found time for, regardless. The necessity of this excursion was as frustrating as it was shameful. But I wouldn’t lie to her about it.

“If I’m going to be alone with you tomorrow, I’m going to take whatever precautions I can.” I stared into her eyes, wondering if she could see the fear in my own. Alice’s vision was overpowering my composure. “You can always cancel, you know.” Please, walk away. Don’t turn back.

We're 45% through the book! Stop that!


She looked down, her face blanching paler than before. Would she finally listen? Alice’s vision would mean nothing if Bella told me now to leave her alone. I knew I could do it, if it was what Bella asked for. My heart felt poised to rip in half.

“No,” she whispered, and my heart twisted in another direction. A worse kind of breaking loomed. She stared up at me. “I can’t.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” I whispered. Maybe she was, after all, just as bound as I was.

She leaned toward me, her eyes tightening with what looked like concern. “What time will I see you tomorrow?”

I took a deep breath, trying to settle myself, to shake off the sense of doom. I forced myself to speak in a lighter tone. “That depends… it’s a Saturday, don’t you want to sleep in?”

“No,” she shot back immediately.

It made me want to smile. “The same time as usual, then. Will Charlie be there?”

She grinned. “No, he’s fishing tomorrow.” This obviously pleased her as much as her attitude about it angered me. Why was she determined to put herself so wholly at my mercy—at the mercy of the worst part of me?

"My glistening 24-karat nipples?"


“And if you don’t come home?” I asked through my teeth. “What will he think?”

Her face was smooth. “I have no idea. He knows I’ve been meaning to do laundry. Maybe he’ll think I fell in the washer.”

Lost like so many socks.


I glared at her—I did not find her joke humorous in the slightest. She scowled back for a moment, and then her face relaxed.

She changed the subject. “What are you hunting tonight?”

It was so strange. On the one hand, she didn’t seem to take the danger seriously at all. On the other, she was so calm in accepting the ugliest facets of my life.

“Whatever we find in the park. We aren’t going far.”

“Why are you going with Alice?”

Alice was listening intently now.

I frowned. “Alice is the most… supportive.” There were other words I’d like to say for Alice’s benefit, but they would only confuse Bella.

“And the others?” Bella nearly whispered, her voice shifting from curious to anxious. “What are they?” She would be horrified if she knew how easily they could all hear that whisper.

There were also many ways to answer this question. I chose the least frightening. “Incredulous, for the most part.” They were definitely that.

Her eyes darted to the back corner of the cafeteria, where my family sat. Alice had warned them, and they were all looking elsewhere.

“They don’t like me,” she guessed.

“That’s not it,” I quickly countered.

Ha! Rosalie thought.

“They don’t understand why I can’t leave you alone,” I continued, trying to ignore Rose.

Well, that’s true enough.

Thank you, Rose.


Bella made a face. “Neither do I, for that matter.”

I shook my head, thinking of her ridiculous assumption before—that I didn’t care for her as much as she cared for me. I thought I’d explained this.

“I told you—you don’t see yourself clearly at all. You’re not like anyone I’ve ever known. You fascinate me.”

She looked doubtful. Maybe I needed to be more specific.

I smiled at her. Despite everything on my mind, it was important for her to understand this. “Having the advantages I do…” I brushed two of my fingers casually across my forehead. “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.”

She glanced away from me, and there was something unsatisfied about her expression. This specific detail had obviously not convinced her.

“That part is easy enough to explain,” I continued quickly, waiting for her eyes to return to me. “But there’s more.…” So much more. “And it’s not so easy to put into words—”

Goggle at me, will you, you bat-faced little nuisance?

Our queen returns!


Bella’s face went white. She looked frozen, as though she couldn’t look away from the back corner of the room.

I turned quickly and shot Rosalie a threatening glare, my lips pulling away from my teeth. I hissed quietly at her.

She flashed a glance at me from the corner of her eye, then angled her head away from us both. I looked back to Bella just as she turned to stare at me.

She started it, Rosalie thought sullenly.

Bella’s eyes were huge.


“I’m sorry about that,” I murmured quickly. “She’s just worried.”It irritated me to have to defend Rosalie’s behavior, but I couldn’t think of another way to explain. And at the heart of Rosalie’s hostility, this was the true issue. “You see… it’s dangerous for more than just me if, after spending so much time with you so publicly…”

I couldn’t finish. Filled with horror and shame, I stared down at my hands—the hands of a monster.

“If?” she prompted. How could I not answer her now?

“If this ends… badly.”

My head fell into my palms. I didn’t want to see her eyes as understanding dawned, as she realized what I was saying. For all this time, I’d been trying to earn her trust. And now I’d had to tell her exactly how much I didn’t deserve it.


It was right to have her know. This would be the moment when she would walk away. And that was good. My first, instinctive rejection of Alice’s panic was wearing off. I couldn’t honestly promise Bella that I was no danger to her.

“And you have to leave now?”

I looked up at her slowly. Her face was calm—there was a hint of sorrow in the pucker mark between her brows, but no fear at all. The perfect trust I’d seen when she’d jumped into my car in Port Angeles was evident again in her eyes. Though I didn’t deserve it, she still trusted me.

“Yes,” I told her.

My answer made her frown. She should have been only relieved to see me go, but instead, she was sad.

I wished I could smooth away the little v between her eyebrows with my fingertip. I wanted her to smile again.

I forced myself to grin at her. “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.”

That movie earned Academy Award nominations, buster!


I guessed that this was true—that I would not have been able to endure. That I would have made more mistakes.

She smiled back, and it was obvious that she understood at least part of what I meant.

Then she jumped slightly in her seat, startled.

I heard Alice step up behind me. I was not surprised. I’d seen this part before.

“Alice,” I greeted her.

Her excited smile was reflected in Bella’s eyes.

“Edward,” she responded, copying my tone.

I followed my script. “Alice, Bella,” I said, introducing them as concisely as possible. I kept my eyes on Bella and gestured halfheartedly with one hand. “Bella, Alice.”

“Hello, Bella. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

The emphasis was subtle, but annoying. I shot her a quick glare.

“Hi, Alice,” Bella answered, her voice unsure.

I won’t push my luck, Alice promised. “Are you ready?” she asked me aloud.

As if she didn’t know my answer. “Nearly. I’ll meet you at the car.”

I’ll get out of your way now. Thanks.

Bella stared after Alice, a small frown curving her lips downward. When Alice disappeared through the doors, she turned slowly to face me.

“Should I say ‘Have fun,’ or is that the wrong sentiment?” she asked.

"How about 'Try not to cry too much'?"


I smiled at her. “No, ‘Have fun’ works as well as anything.”

“Have fun, then,” she said, a little forlorn.

“I’ll try.” But that wasn’t true. I would only be missing her while I was away. “And you try to be safe, please.” It didn’t matter how often I had to say goodbye, the same panic returned whenever I thought of her unprotected.

“Safe in Forks,” she mumbled. “What a challenge.”

“For you it is a challenge,” I pointed out. “Promise?”

She sighed, but her smile was good-humored. “I promise to try to be safe,” she said. “I’ll do the laundry tonight—that ought to be fraught with peril.”

I didn’t enjoy the reminder of the earlier part of our conversation. “Don’t fall in.”

She tried to keep her face serious, and failed. “I’ll do my best.”

t was so hard to leave. I made myself stand. She rose to her feet, too.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she sighed.

“It seems like a long time to you, doesn’t it?” Strange what a long time it seemed to me, too.

She nodded, dejected.

“I’ll be there in the morning,” I promised.

Alice was right about this much—I wasn’t finished making mistakes. I couldn’t stop myself again as I leaned across the table and brushed my fingers along her cheekbone. Before I could do any more harm, I turned and left her there.

Apr 23, 2014

I accidentally clicked submit too early so here's the rest of the chapter!


Alice was waiting in the car.


First things first. We have an errand to run, don’t we?

Pictures of Bella’s house flashed through her mind. An empty set of hooks—designed to hold keys—on the kitchen wall. Me in Bella’s room, scanning her dresser top and desk. Alice literally following her nose through the front room. Alice again, in a small laundry room, grinning, with a key in her hand.

I drove quickly to Bella’s. I would have been able to find the key myself—the smell of metal was easy enough to trace, particularly metal painted with the oils from her fingers—but Alice’s way was definitely faster.

Alice is just the dog from Duck Hunt.


The images refined. Alice would go in alone, I saw, through the front door. She decided a dozen different places to look for an extra house key, then located it when she resolved to check under the eaves over the front door.

When we arrived at the house, it took Alice only seconds to follow the course she’d already set for herself. After locking the front door’s handle but leaving the deadbolt unlatched as she’d found it, Alice climbed into Bella’s truck. The engine grumbled to life with the volume of a thunderclap. There was no one home to notice it now.

The trip back to school was slower, hampered by the maximum speed the old Chevy was able to produce. I wondered how Bella could stand it, but then she seemed to prefer driving slowly. Alice parked in the space my Volvo had left open, and shut the noisy engine off.

1950s pickups aren't that noisy. Is Bella's truck really functioning right?


I looked at the rusty behemoth, imagining Bella in it. It had survived Tyler’s van with barely a scratch, but obviously there were no airbags or crumple zones. I felt my eyebrows pull together.

Alice climbed into my passenger seat.

Here, she thought. She held out a piece of stationery and a pen.

I took them from her. “I’ll concede that you’re useful.”

You couldn’t survive without me.

I wrote a brief note, then darted out to leave it on the driver’s seat of Bella’s truck. I knew there was no real power to the action, but hopefully it would remind her of her promise. It did make me feel just a little bit less anxious.

Apr 23, 2014

My body apparently hates me extra hard, because I pulled a back muscle AND damaged my shoulder somehow!

Inspector Gesicht
Oct 26, 2012

500 Zeus a body.

Stay gold, chitoryu12. You still have yet to publish in book-form your literary-criticism on the James Bond canon.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 15: Probability


"Now, Alice," I began as I shut my door.

She sighed. I’m sorry. I wish I didn’t have to—

“It’s not real,” I interrupted, accelerating away from the parking lot. I didn’t have to think about the road. I knew it too well. “It’s just an old vision. Before everything. Before I knew I loved her.”

In her head, it was there again, that worst of all visions—the agonizing potential that had tortured me for so many weeks, the future Alice had seen the day I’d pushed Bella out of the way of the van.

Bella’s body in my arms, twisted and white and lifeless… a ragged, blue-edged gash across her broken neck… her blood red on my lips and blazing crimson in my eyes.

The vision in Alice’s memory brought a furious snarl ripping up my throat—an involuntary response to the pain that lashed through me.

Alice froze, her eyes anxious.

It’s the same place, Alice had realized today in the cafeteria, her thoughts tinged with a horror I hadn’t understood at first.

I’d never looked beyond the ghastly central image—I could barely stand to see that much. But Alice had been examining her visions for decades longer than I. She knew how to remove her feelings from the equation, how to be impartial, how to look at the picture without flinching away from it.

Alice had been able to absorb details… like the scenery.

The gruesome tableau was set in the same meadow where I planned to take Bella tomorrow.


“It can’t still be valid. You didn’t see it again, you just remembered it.”

Alice shook her head slowly.

It’s not just a memory, Edward. I see it now.

“We’ll go somewhere else.”

In her head, backgrounds to her vision spun like whirling kaleidoscopes, changing from bright to dark and back. The foreground remained the same. I cringed away from the pictures, trying to push them from my mental eye, wishing I could blind it.

“I’ll cancel,” I said through my teeth. “She’s forgiven my broken promises before.”

The vision shimmered, wavered, and then returned to solidity, with sharp, clear edges.

Her blood is so strong to you, Edward. As you get closer to her…

“I’ll go back to keeping my distance.”

“I don’t think that will work. It didn’t before.”

"You're completely incapable of mature behavior for her safety."


“I’ll leave.”

She flinched at the agony in my voice, and the picture in her head shivered again. The seasons changed, but the central figures remained.

“It’s still there, Edward.”

“How can that be?” I snarled.

“Because if you leave, you will come back,” she said, her voice implacable.

“No,” I said. “I can stay away. I know I can.”

“You can’t,” she said calmly. “Maybe… if it was just your own pain…”

Her mind raced through a flipbook of futures. Bella’s face from a thousand different angles, always tinted gray, sunless. She was thinner, unfamiliar hollows beneath her cheekbones, deep circles under her eyes, her expression empty. One could call it lifeless—but it would only be a metaphor. Not like the other visions.

“What’s wrong? Why is she like that?”

“Because you’ve left. She’s not… doing well.”

Oh yeah, this book will get into some New Moon future predicting. And you're not gonna like where it ends up!


I hated it when Alice spoke like that, in her strange present-future tense, which made it sound like the tragedy was happening right now.

“Better than other options,” I said.

“Do you really think you could leave her like that? Do you think you wouldn’t come back to check? Do you think when you saw her that way, you would be able to keep from speaking?”

As she asked her questions, I saw the answers in her head. Myself in the shadows, watching. Creeping back to Bella’s room. Seeing her suffer through a nightmare, curled into a ball, her arms tight around her chest, gasping for air even in her sleep. Alice curled in on herself, too, wrapping her arms tensely around her knees in sympathy.

Of course Alice was right. I felt an echo of the emotions that I would feel then, in this version of the future, and I knew I would come back—just to check. And then, when I saw this… I would wake her. I would not be able to watch her suffer.

The futures realigned into the same inevitable vision, only delayed a bit.

Remember this conversation for the end of the book!


“I should never have come back,” I whispered.

What if I’d never learned to love her? What if I hadn’t known what I was missing?

Alice was shaking her head.

There were things I saw, while you were away.…

I waited for her to show me, but she was focusing very hard on just looking at my face now. Trying not to show me.

“What things? What did you see?”

Her eyes were pained. They weren’t pleasant things. At some point—if you hadn’t come back when you did, if you’d never loved her—you would have come back for her anyway. To… hunt her.

Oh, this is a pleasant thing to learn about our True Love.


Still no pictures, but I didn’t need them to understand. I reeled away from her, nearly losing control of the car. I stomped on the brake, and pulled off the road. The tires tore into the ferns and threw patches of moss onto the pavement.

The thought had been there, in the very beginning, when the monster was nearly unbridled. That there was no guarantee that I wouldn’t eventually follow her, wherever she might go.

“Give me something that will work!” I exploded. Alice cringed away from the volume. “Tell me another path! Show me how to stay away—where to go!”

In her thoughts, suddenly another vision replaced the first. A gasp of relief choked through my lips when the horror was removed. But this vision was not much better.

Alice and Bella, arms around each other, both marble white and diamond hard.

One too many pomegranate seeds, and she was bound to the underworld with me. No way back. Springtime, sunlight, family, future, soul, all stolen from her.


It’s sixty-forty… ish. Maybe even sixty-five-thirty-five. There’s still a good chance you won’t kill her. Her tone was one of encouragement.

“She’s dead, either way,” I whispered. “I’ll stop her heart.”

“That’s not exactly what I meant. I’m telling you that she has futures beyond the meadow… but first she has to go through the meadow—the metaphorical meadow—if you catch my meaning.”

Her thoughts… it was difficult to describe… widened out as if she was thinking everything at the same time—and I could see a tangle of threads, each thread a long line of frozen images, each thread a future told in snapshots, all of them snared together in a messy knot.

“I don’t understand.”

This is far from the craziest abstract use of Alice's powers in this book!


All her paths are leading to one point—all her paths are knotted together. Whether that point is in the meadow, or somewhere else, she’s tied to that moment of decision. Your decision, her decision.… Some of the threads continue on the other side. Some…

“Do not.” My voice faltered through my tight throat.

You can’t avoid it, Edward. You’re going to have to face it. Knowing it could easily go either way, you still have to face it.

“How do I save her? Tell me!”

“I don’t know. You’ll have to find the answer yourself, in the knot. I can’t see exactly what form it will take, but there will be a moment, I think—a test, a trial. I can see that, but I can’t help you with it. Only the two of you can choose in that moment.”

Raise your hand if you remember Edward passing a trial in the original book.


My teeth ground together.

You know that I love you, so listen to me now. Putting this off won’t change anything. Take her to your meadow, Edward, and—for me, and especially for you—bring her back again.

I let my head fall into my hands. I felt sick—like a damaged human, a victim of disease.

“How about some good news?” Alice asked gently.

I glared up at her.

She smiled a small smile.


“Tell me, then.”

“I’ve seen a third way, Edward,” she said. “If you can get through the crisis, there’s a new path out there.”

“A new path?” I echoed blankly.

“It’s sketchy. But look.”

Another picture in her head. Not as sharp as the others. A trio in the cramped front room of Bella’s house. I was on the aged sofa, Bella beside me, my arm casually slung around her shoulders. Alice sat on the floor beside Bella, leaning against her leg in a familiar fashion. Alice and I were exactly the same as we always were, but this was a version of Bella I’d never seen before. Her skin was still soft and translucent, pink across the cheeks, healthy. Her eyes were still warm and brown and human. But she was different. I analyzed the changes, and realized what I was seeing.

Bella was not a girl, but a woman. Her legs looked a little longer, as if she’d grown an inch or two, and her body had rounded subtly, giving a new curvature to her slender frame. Her hair was sable-dark, as if she’d spent little time in the sun during the intervening years. Not many years, maybe three or four. But she was still human.

Joy and pain washed through me. She was still human; she was aging. This was the desperate, unlikely future that was the only one I could live with. The future that did not cheat her of either life or afterlife. The future that would take her away from me someday, as inevitably as day turned to night.

“It’s still not very probable, but I thought you’d like to know it was there. If you two get through the crisis, this is out there.”

This might be the single most useless set of paragraphs in the entire book. We've seen everything. Why would you waste time on this when the only people reading Midnight Sun know that Bella's going to be a vampire in a little over a year's time?

If this had been the actual first book published, it would have some kind of meaning. It would seem like obvious foreshadowing, only to turn into a red herring when the unexpected pregnancy leads to Bella's transformation to save her life. But we all know what happens, and that this isn't it. It's a worthless fakeout written as if we have no idea what's going on.


“Thank you, Alice,” I whispered. I put the car into drive, and pulled onto the road again, cutting off a minivan chugging along under the limit. I accelerated automatically, barely registering the process.

Of course, this is all you, she thought. She was still picturing the unlikely trio on the sofa. This doesn’t take her wishes into account.

“What do you mean? Her wishes?”

“Did it never occur to you that Bella might not be willing to lose you? That one short mortal life might not be long enough for her?”

“That’s insanity. No one would choose—”

“No need to argue about it now. Crisis first.”

"We have dozens of pages for that later!"


“Thanks, Alice,” I said again, caustically this time.

She trilled a laugh. It was a nervous sound, birdlike. She was every bit as on edge as I was, almost as horrified by the tragic possibilities.

“I know you love her, too,” I muttered.

It’s not the same.

“No, it isn’t.”

After all, Alice had Jasper. She had the center of her universe safely at her side—even more indestructible than most. And his soul was not on her conscience. She had brought Jasper nothing but happiness and peace.

"It really is just you who's a useless mess."


I love you. You can do this.

I wanted to believe her, but I knew when her words were built on sure foundations, and when they were no more than ordinary hope.

I drove in silence to the edge of the national park and found an inconspicuous place to leave the car. Alice didn’t move when the car stopped. She could see that I would need a moment.

I closed my eyes and tried not to hear her, not to hear anything, to really focus my thoughts toward a decision. A resolution. I pressed my fingertips hard against my temples.

Alice said I would have to make a choice. I wanted to scream out loud that I’d already decided, that there was no decision, but even though it felt as though my whole being yearned for nothing but Bella’s safety, I knew the monster was still alive.

How did I kill it? Silence it forever?

Oh, he was quiet now. Hiding. Saving his strength for the fight that was coming.

For a few moments, I thought seriously about killing myself. It was the only way I knew to be sure that the monster didn’t survive.

God, this guy just goes for it without hesitation, doesn't he?


But how? Carlisle had exhausted most of the possibilities in the beginning of his new life, and had never come close to ending his own story, despite his very real determination to do so. I would have no success acting alone.

Is this canon confirmation that Carlisle just never once considered a huge bonfire as a possible suicide method? Or a steel mill Terminator 2 style?


Any of my family would be capable of doing it for me, but I knew that none of them would, no matter how I begged. Even Rosalie, who I’m sure would claim to be angry enough to do it, who might bluster and threaten the next time I saw her, would not. Because even though she sometimes hated me, she always loved me. And I knew if I could trade places with any of them, I would feel and act exactly the same way. I would not be able to harm any of my family, no matter how much pain they were in, no matter how much they wanted out.

That is not how Rosalie was in the original draft! I'm pretty sure that version would have sold Edward for a candy bar she couldn't even eat!


There were others.… But Carlisle’s friends wouldn’t help me. They would never betray him so. I could think of one place I might go with the power to end the monster very quickly… but doing that would put Bella in danger. Though I’d not been the one to tell her the truth about myself, she knew things she was forbidden to know. It was nothing that would ever bring her the wrong kind of attention, unless I did something stupid, like go to Italy.

And why would he ever do that?


It was too bad the Quileute treaty was toothless these days. Three generations ago, all I would have had to do was walk to La Push. A useless idea now.

Have I got news for you!


So those ways of killing the monster weren’t possible.

Alice seemed so sure that I had to go forward, to meet this head-on. But how could that be the right thing to do, when the possibility that I would kill Bella existed?

I flinched. The idea was so painful, I couldn’t imagine how the monster could get past my aversion to overcome me. He didn’t give anything away, just silently bided his time.

Hey, buddy: that monster is you. It's not a separate demon that you can blame your mistakes on.

I know, "It's almost impossible to resist, like an addiction!" but this seems like some very bad messaging for someone who's trying to justify doing bad things and not feeling bad about them later!


I sighed. Was there any choice but to face this head-on? Did it count as courage if one was compelled? I was sure it did not.

All I could do, it seemed, was cling to my decision with both hands, with all my strength. I would be stronger than my monster. I would not hurt Bella. I would do the most right thing that was left to me. I would be who she needed me to be.

And then suddenly, as I thought those words, it didn’t feel so impossible. Of course I could do that. I could be the Edward that Bella wanted, that she needed. I could grasp hold of that one sketchy future I could live with, and then will it into being. For Bella. Of course I could do that, if it was for her.

It felt stronger, this decision. Clearer. I opened my eyes and looked at Alice.

“Ah. That looks better,” she said. In her head, the tangle of threads was still a hopelessly confusing maze to me, but she saw more in it than I did. “Seventy-thirty. Whatever you’re thinking, keep thinking it.”

Perhaps just accepting the immediate future was the key. Facing it. Not underestimating my own evil. Bracing for it. Preparing.

I could do the most basic preparation now. This was why we were here.

Alice has brought a script and is going to coach Edward on how to talk to humans without being weird?


Alice saw my action before I took it, and she was out her door and running before I had opened my own. I felt a shallow sensation of humor and almost smiled. She could never outrun me; she always tried to cheat.

And then I was running, too.

This way, Alice thought when I’d nearly caught up. Her mind was ranging ahead, looking for quarry. But while I caught the scent of several nearby options, clearly they weren’t what she wanted. She disregarded everything she saw. I wasn’t exactly sure what she was searching so minutely for, but I followed her unhesitatingly.

She ignored a few more flocks of deer, leading me deeper into the forest, angling south. I saw her searching ahead, seeing us in different corners of the park—all of them familiar. She drifted east, starting to curve north again. What was she looking for?

And then her thoughts settled on a slinking movement in the brush, glimpses of a tawny hide.

This would be very bad out of context!


“Thanks, Alice, but—”

Shh! I’m hunting.

I rolled my eyes, but continued following her. She was trying to do something nice for me. There was no way for her to know how little it all mattered. I’d been force-feeding myself so much lately I doubted I would notice the difference between a lion and a rabbit.

It didn’t take us long to find her vision, now that she was focused on it. Once the movements of the animal were audible, Alice slowed to let me take the lead.

“I really shouldn’t, the park’s lion population—”

Alice’s mental tone was exasperated. Live a little.

Conservationists, you said you were?


There never was much point in fighting with Alice. I shrugged and passed her. I’d caught the scent now. It was easy to shift into another mode—just let the blood pull me forward as I stalked my prey.

It was relaxing to stop thinking for a few minutes. Just to be another predator—the apex predator. I heard Alice head east, searching for her own meal.

The lion hadn’t noticed me yet. He, too, was heading east on his own search, looking for something to hunt. Some other animal’s day would end better, thanks to me.

I was on him in a second. Unlike Emmett, I saw no point in giving the beast a chance to fight back. It would make no difference, and wasn’t it more humane to do it quickly? I snapped the lion’s neck and then quickly drained the warm body. I wasn’t that thirsty to begin with, so there wasn’t any real relief tied to the action. Force-feeding again.

When I was done, I followed Alice’s scent north. She’d found a sleeping doe, bedded down in a nest of brambles. Alice’s hunting style was more like mine than Emmett’s. It didn’t look like the creature had even woken up.

But if Alice knew the future, wouldn't she know that this isn't doing anything to help him because he's been gorging for days?


“Thank you,” I told her, to be courteous.

You’re welcome. There’s a bigger herd back to the west.

She got to her feet and led the way again. I bit back my sigh.

We were both done after one more. I was too full again, my insides feeling uncomfortably liquefied. I was surprised that she was ready to quit, though.

“I don’t mind continuing,” I told her, wondering if she’d seen that I would sit the next round out and was being polite.

“I’m going out tomorrow with Jasper,” she told me.

“Didn’t he just—”

“I’ve recently decided that more preparations are necessary,” she said, smiling. A new possibility.

In her mind, I saw our home. Carlisle and Esme waiting expectantly in the front room. The door opening, myself walking through, and next to me, holding my hand…

Alice laughed, and I tried to bring my face back under my control.

“How?” I asked. “When?

“Soon.” Possibly Sunday…

“This Sunday?”

Yes, the one that comes after tomorrow.

Bella was perfect in the vision—human and healthy, smiling at my parents. She wore the blue blouse that made her skin glow.

The blue blouse and what else, Edward?


As for how, I’m not entirely sure. This is just an outlying chance, but I wanted Jasper prepared.

Jasper at the foot of the stairs now, nodding politely to Bella, his eyes light gold.

“This is… through the knot?”

One of the threads.

It spun out again in her mind, the long ropes of possibilities. So many converging on tomorrow… not enough emerging on the other side.

“Where am I at?”

She pursed her lips. Seventy-five-twenty-five? She thought it like a question, and I could see she was being generous.

C’mon, she thought as she saw me hunch in on myself. You’d take that bet. I did.

Automatically, my lips pulled back over my teeth.


“Please!” she said. “Like I was going to pass up such an opportunity. This isn’t just about Bella. I’m relatively confident that she’ll be fine. This is about teaching Rosalie and Jasper some respect.”

“You’re not omniscient.”

“I’m close enough.”

I could not match her joking mood. “If you were omniscient, you’d be able to tell me what to do.”

You’ll figure it out, Edward. I know you will.

If only I could know that, too.

Jan 26, 2019


I've finally caught up! I thought this was just going to be a fun nostalgia trip, but oof, these books are so much worse than I'd remembered. Literally the only part of the books I enjoyed for some reason were a couple of first chapters from Twilight and even now Ed's POV completely ruined that for me. The new content is definitely a step up in quality fwiw. Although Alice's power gets worse every time it's mentioned.


“And if you could go anywhere—if the cost were no object—where would you go?”

Ugh, I cringed when I read this sentence. I hate that Edward is interested in Bella's passions and dreams only in terms of gifts he can give her. And I hear this particular question a lot from my dad and it always makes me anxious. Like I can't just talk to him about about stuff I think is cool because he immediately goes "YOU WANT IT?? YOU'LL GET IT!! AND DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE COST!!". Like he can't connect with any interests I have in other way than buying poo poo. I feel like it's kinda ridiculous to be upset about it but it's so uncomfortable.

Apr 23, 2014

macabresca posted:

Ugh, I cringed when I read this sentence. I hate that Edward is interested in Bella's passions and dreams only in terms of gifts he can give her. And I hear this particular question a lot from my dad and it always makes me anxious. Like I can't just talk to him about about stuff I think is cool because he immediately goes "YOU WANT IT?? YOU'LL GET IT!! AND DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE COST!!". Like he can't connect with any interests I have in other way than buying poo poo. I feel like it's kinda ridiculous to be upset about it but it's so uncomfortable.

It's a valid criticism, because it further shows how truly shallow their relationship is. They have very little in common and almost no shared interests except some of the same books and music. They don't do anything or go on dates, and the one time they actually go out and do something other than cuddle and stare into each other's eyes (the honeymoon) it's an intentional attempt by Edward to keep her too exhausted for sex.

And in some ways, the way the plot is written across the books means a lot of this can't happen. Setting aside times when they're actually engaging in plot stuff like preparing for Victoria's army or the Cullens being gone for almost all of New Moon, there's always some sort of drama or offscreen school stuff taking up time. Charlie can barely stand Edward for most of the book because from his perspective it's an insane abusive relationship, so you're never going to see Edward joining him on a fishing trip or taking over the kitchen to cook the family a nice dinner. We see these visions from Alice of Bella hanging out at the Cullen house as besties, but we never see her do that.

So with nothing else, all Edward can do on the page is spend money. Even when Bella doesn't want it, he'll buy her wildly expensive things and go so far as to kill her truck to force her to accept a new car. He's like an empty shell who just learned "People like it when you buy them nice things" and just hits the switch until love comes out.

Apr 23, 2014


No one but my mother and father were home when we returned. Emmett had no doubt warned the others to make themselves scarce. It didn’t matter to me one way or another. I didn’t have the energy to care about their stupid game. Alice, too, ran off in search of Jasper. I was grateful for the thinning of the mental conversations. It helped me a little as I tried to concentrate.

Carlisle was waiting by the foot of the stairs, and his thoughts were hard to block, filled with all the same questions to which I’d just begged Alice for answers. I didn’t want to admit to him all the weaknesses that kept me from running away before any more damage was done. I didn’t want Carlisle to know the horror that would have come to pass if I hadn’t come back to Forks when I did, the depths to which my monster would have sunk.

So he has no way of preparing for the worst case scenario in case it happens! Great!


I gave him one tight nod in acknowledgment as I passed him. He knew what it meant—that I was aware of all his fears, and that I had no good answer. With a sigh, he nodded back. He followed up the stairs more slowly, and I heard him join Esme in her study. They didn’t speak. I tried to ignore what she thought as she analyzed his expression: her alarm, her pain.

Carlisle, of all the others, even Alice, understood best how it was for me, the never-ending chatter and babble and commotion that was the inside of my head; he’d lived with me longest. So, without a word, he now led Esme to the large window we often used as an exit. Within seconds, they were far enough away that I could hear nothing. Silence at last. The only commotion in my head now was of my own making.

Is that a thing vampires do? They just forget the distinction between doors and windows and use whatever's closest?


At first I moved slowly, at barely more than human speed, as I showered, cleaning the residue of the forest from my skin and hair. As before, in the car, I felt damaged, impaired, as if my strength had been drained away. All in my head, of course. It would be nothing but a miracle, a gift, if I could somehow truly lose my strength. If I could be weak, harmless, a danger to no one.

I’d almost forgotten my earlier fear—such a conceited fear—that Bella would find me repulsive when I revealed my true self in the sunlight. I was disgusted at myself for wasting even a moment over that selfish concern. But as I looked for fresh clothes, I had to think of it again. Not because it mattered whether she was sickened by me, but because I had a promise to keep.

The excitement of Midnight Sun: Edward standing naked in his bedroom agonizing over how disgusting his sparkles are.


I rarely gave what I wore a first thought, let alone a second. Alice stocked my closet with a wide variety of items that all seemed to go together. The main point of clothing was to help us blend in—to embrace the current time period’s fashion, to downplay our pallor, and to cover as much of our skin as possible without looking shockingly out of season. Alice pushed the limits within those constraints, offended by the idea of trying to make us look unnoticeable. She chose her own clothing and dressed the rest of us as a form of artistic expression. Our skin was covered, its pallid hue was never put in contrast with deeper tones, and we certainly were up to the minute with current style. But blend we did not. It seemed a harmless indulgence, like the cars we drove.

They really are the worst! They just don't even care about hiding from humans!


Alice’s forward-thinking taste aside, all my clothes were, if nothing else, designed for maximum coverage. If I were going to fulfill the spirit of my promise to Bella, I would need more than my hands exposed. The smaller my exposure, the easier it would be for her to compartmentalize my disease. She needed to see me for what I was.

According to Bree Tanner, "a disco ball."


At that moment I remembered a shirt, stuck in the back recesses of my closet, that I’d never worn.

The shirt was an anomaly. Usually, Alice wouldn’t get us anything that she couldn’t see us wearing. Typically, she was quite strict in following the letter of the law. I recalled the afternoon, two years ago, when I’d first seen the shirt hanging with a new lot of Alice’s acquisitions, tacked on at the very back, as if she knew it was all wrong.

“What’s this for?” I asked her.

She’d shrugged. I don’t know. It looked nice on the model.

There hadn’t been anything hidden in her thoughts. She seemed as confused as I was by the impulsive purchase. And yet, she hadn’t let me throw the shirt away, either.

You never know, she’d insisted. You might want it someday.

I pulled the shirt out now, and felt a strange wave of awe. A chill, almost, if I were capable of feeling such a thing. Her uncanny premonitions reached so far, stretched their tentacles so deep into the future, that even she didn’t understand all the actions she took. Somehow she’d sensed, years before Bella had chosen to come to Forks, that at some point I would be facing this most bizarre trial.

Perhaps she was omniscient after all.

I slipped into the white cotton shirt, unnerved by the look of my bare arms in the mirror inside the door. I buttoned it, sighed, then unbuttoned it again. Exposing my skin was the whole point. But I didn’t have to be so conspicuous right from the start. I grabbed a pale beige sweater and pulled it over the top. I was much more comfortable that way, just the collar of the white shirt showing above the crew neckline, covered up as was normal. Maybe I would leave the sweater on. Maybe full disclosure was the wrong path.


It's a shirt. It's a white button-up shirt. There was nothing in Twilight that was special about the shirt he wore. What the hell is going on? Did Stephenie Meyer drink her first coffee and go insane?


I wasn’t moving as slowly anymore. It was almost comical, with all the dire fears and resolutions in my head, that the more familiar fear, the one that had recently dictated almost all my movements, should still be able to control me so easily.

I hadn’t seen Bella for hours. Was she safe now?

Strange that I should even be able to worry about the millions of dangers that weren’t me. None of them were close to as deadly. And yet, and yet, and yet… what if?

Though I’d always planned to spend the night with Bella’s scent, more important tonight than any night before, now I was in a hurry to be there.



I was early and, of course, everything was fine. Bella was still doing laundry—I could hear the thumping and sloshing of the unbalanced washing machine and smell the scent of softener sheets blowing hot from the dryer’s exhaust. Part of me wanted to smile as I thought of her teasing at lunch, but the superficial humor was too weak to overcome my ongoing panic. I could hear Charlie watching a sports recap in the front room. His quiet thoughts seemed mellow, sleepy. I was sure that Bella hadn’t changed her mind and told him of her real plans for tomorrow.

Despite everything, the easy, simple flow of the Swans’ uneventful evening was calming. I perched in my usual tree and let it lull me.

I found myself feeling jealous of Bella’s father. His was a simple life. Nothing serious weighed on his conscience. Tomorrow was just a normal day, with familiar, pleasant hobbies to look forward to.

But the next day…

It wasn’t in his power to guarantee what that next day would be for him. Was it in mine?

Yes: don't eat anyone.


I was surprised to hear the sound of a hair dryer from the shared bathroom. Bella didn’t usually bother. Her hair was, as far as I had seen in my nights of protective—if inexcusable—surveillance, wet as she slept, drying over the course of the night. I wondered why the change. The only explanation I could think of was that she wanted her hair to look nice. And as the person she planned to see tomorrow was me, that meant she must have wanted it to look nice for me.

Maybe I was wrong. But if I was right… how exasperating! How endearing! Her life had never been in deeper peril, but she still cared that I, the very menace threatening her life, liked her appearance.

I am going to break a baseball bat over this dork's head.


It took longer than usual, even after the extra time with the dryer, for the lights to go out in her room, and I could hear some quiet commotion inside before that happened. Curious, always too curious, it felt like hours before I could be sure I’d waited long enough for her to be sleeping.

Once inside, I could see I hadn’t needed to wait quite so long. She slept more serenely than usual tonight, her hair fanned smoothly across the pillow over her head, her arms relaxed at her sides. Deeply under, she did not so much as murmur.

Her room immediately revealed the source of the tumult I’d heard. Piles of clothes were thrown over every surface, even a few across the foot of her bed, under her bare feet. I acknowledged again the pleasure and the pain of knowing that she wanted to be attractive for me.

"I flung myself to the floor, sobbing into her jackets."


I compared the feelings, the ache and the soaring, to my life before Bella. I’d been so jaded, so world-weary, as if I’d experienced every emotion there was to be felt. What a fool. I’d barely sipped at the cup life had to offer. Only now was I aware of all I’d missed, and how much more I had to learn. So much suffering ahead, more than the joy, certainly. But the joy was so sweet and so strong that I would never forgive myself for missing a second of it.

I thought of the emptiness of a life without Bella, and it brought to mind one night I’d not thought of for a very long time.

It was December 1919. More than a year had passed since Carlisle had transformed me. My eyes had cooled from brilliant red to a mellow amber, though the stress of keeping them so was constant.

Wait, what's this?


Carlisle had kept me as isolated as possible while I worked through those unruly first months. After almost a year, I felt quite sure that the madness had passed, and Carlisle accepted my self-evaluation without question. He prepared to introduce me into human society.

It's a loving flashback! It's new content!


At first it was only an evening here or there: As well-fed as possible, we would walk along a small town’s main street after the sun was safely below the horizon. It surprised me then, how we could blend in at all. The human faces were so completely different from ours—their dull, pitted skin, their poorly molded features, so rounded and lumpy, the mottled colors of their imperfect flesh. The clouded, rheumy eyes must be nearly blind, I thought, if they could really believe we belonged to their world. It was several years before I grew accustomed to human faces.

As you may recall, Bella did not do this with any humans when she was turned into a vampire, so I'm chalking this up to Edward once again just being a giant douchebag.


I was so focused on controlling my instinct to kill during these excursions that I barely registered as language the cacophony of thought that assaulted me; it was just noise. As my ability to ignore my thirst grew stronger, so the thoughts in the crowd became clearer, harder to dismiss, the danger of the first challenge supplanted by the irritation of the second.

I passed these early tests, if not with ease, then at least with perfect results. The next challenge was to live among them for a week. Carlisle chose the busy harbor in Saint John, New Brunswick, booking us rooms in a small clapboard inn near the West Side docks. Besides our ancient landlord, all the neighbors we encountered were sailors and dockhands.

And we're getting an actually interesting setting!


This was an arduous challenge. I was entirely surrounded. The scent of human blood was ever present. I could smell the touch of human hands on the fabrics in our room, catch the scent of human sweat wafting through our windows. It tainted every breath I took.

But though I was young, I was also obstinate and determined to succeed. I knew that Carlisle thought very highly of my rapid progress, and pleasing him had become my chief motivation. Even in my relative quarantine up to this point, I’d heard enough of human thought to know that my mentor was unique in this world. He was worthy of my idolization.

Really, we should be following him instead!


I knew his plan for escape, should the challenge prove too much for me, though he meant to hide it from me. It was nearly impossible for him to keep a secret. Despite the sense of being encompassed by human blood on every side, there existed a quick retreat through the frigid waters of the harbor. We were but a few streets from the gray, opaque depths. If temptation were close to triumph, he would urge me to run.

But Carlisle believed I was able—too gifted, too strong, too intelligent to fall victim to my baser desires. He must have seen how I responded to his internal praises. It made me arrogant, I think, but it also shaped me into the man I saw in his head, so determined was I to earn the approval he’d already given.

Carlisle was shrewd like that.

He was also very kind.

Oh, my sweet summer vampire.


It was my second Christmas holiday as an immortal, though it was the first year I appreciated the change of seasons—the year before, I’d been too racked with the newborn frenzy to be aware of much else. I knew that Carlisle worried privately about what I would miss. All the family and friends I’d known in my human years, all the traditions that had brightened the gloomy weather. He needn’t have worried. The wreaths and the candles, the music and the gatherings… none of it seemed to apply to me. I looked at it from what seemed an impossible distance.

He sent me out one evening about midway through our week, to take a stroll alone for the first time. I took my assignment very seriously and did all I could to appear as human as possible, bundling myself into thick layers of clothes, pretending I felt the cold. Once outside, I kept my body rigid against every temptation, my movements slow and deliberate. I passed a few men headed home from the icy docks. No one addressed me, but I did not go out of my way to avoid contact. I thought of my future life, when I would be as controlled and at ease as Carlisle, and imagined a million strolls like this one. Carlisle had put his life on hold to deal with me, but I was determined that I would soon be an asset to him rather than a burden.

I was quite proud of myself as I returned to our room, shaking the snow off my wool cap. Carlisle would be anxious for my report, and I was keen to give it to him. It had not been so difficult after all, going out among them with only my own will for protection, and I pretended nonchalance as I strolled through the door, only belatedly noticing the strong scent of resin.

I’d been preparing to amaze Carlisle with the ease of my success, but he was waiting to surprise me.

The beds were carefully stacked in the corner, the wobbly desk shoved behind the door to make room for a fir tree tall enough to brush the ceiling with its highest branch. The needles were wet, dustings of snow still visible in places, so quickly had he melted the candle stubs to the ends of the branches. They were all aglow, reflecting warm and yellow against Carlisle’s smooth cheek. He smiled widely.

Merry Christmas, Edward.

Oh my God I love this man.


I realized with a bit of embarrassment that my great accomplishment, my solo expedition, had been merely a ruse. And then I was glad again to think that Carlisle trusted my control so much that he’d been willing to send me off on a sham trial in order to surprise me this way.

“Thank you, Carlisle,” I responded quickly. “And a merry Christmas to you.” Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the gesture. It seemed… somehow juvenile—as if my human life were just a larval stage that I had left far behind, along with all its trappings, and now I was expected to return to inching along in the mud despite the existence of my wings. I felt too old for this display, but at the same time, touched that Carlisle would try to give me this, a momentary return to my former joys.

“I’ve got popcorn,” he told me. “I thought you might like to join in the trimming?”

In his mind, I saw what this meant to him. I heard, not for the first time, the depth of the guilt he felt for having drawn me into this life. He would give me whatever little pieces of human pleasure he thought possible. And I would not be so spoiled as to deny him his own pleasure in this.

“Of course,” I agreed. “I imagine it will be quick work this year.”

He laughed and went to coax the embers in the hearth to life.

This is the most precious loving vampire alive and I'm officially on Team Carlisle forever.


It was not difficult to relax into his vision of a family holiday, albeit a very small and unusual family. Though I found my role easy to perform, the sense lingered of not belonging to this world I was playing at. I wondered if I would settle over time into the life Carlisle had created, or if I would always feel like an alien creature. Was I more of a true vampire than he was? Too much a creature of blood to embrace his more human sensibilities?

My questions were answered with time. I was still more a newborn than I realized in those days, and everything got easier as I aged. The sense of alienation faded, and I found I did belong in Carlisle’s world.

However, in that particular season, my concerns left me more vulnerable than I should have been to the thoughts of a stranger.

The next night we met with friends—my very first social encounter.

"It's time for the ball, Edward."


It was after midnight. We’d left the town and ventured into the hills to the north, searching for an area far enough from humankind to be safe for my hunt. I kept a tight rein on myself then, working to check the eager senses that yearned to be set free, to lead me through the night to something that would satiate my thirst. We must be sure we were far enough away from the populace. Once I’d set those powers loose, I would not be strong enough to turn away from the scent of human blood.

This should be safe, Carlisle approved, and he slowed to let me lead the hunt. Perhaps we would find some wolves, also out hunting in the thick snow. More likely in this weather, we’d have to dig the animals from their dens.

I let my senses range free—it was a distinct relief to do so, like relaxing a long-constricted muscle. At first, all I could smell was the clean snow and the bare branches of the deciduous trees. I registered the relief of smelling no humans at all, no desire, no pain. We ran silently through the thick forest.

And then I caught a new scent, both familiar and strange. It was sweet and clear and purer than the fresh snow. There was a brightness to the fragrance that was only linked to two scents that I knew—Carlisle’s and my own. But it was otherwise unfamiliar.

I jerked to a halt. Carlisle caught the scent and froze beside me. For the tiniest part of a second, I listened to his anxiety. And then it turned to recognition.

Ah, Siobhan, he thought, immediately calm. I didn’t know she was on this side of the world.

Wait, there are nomads that already exist in North America. And Meyer picked the Irish folk?


I looked at him questioningly, not sure if it was right to speak aloud. I felt apprehensive, despite his ease. The unfamiliar put me on my guard.

Old friends, he assured me. I suppose it’s time for you to meet more of our kind. Let’s find them.

He seemed serene, but I detected a hushed concern behind the thoughts he composed into words for me. I wondered for the first time why we’d never come in contact with another vampire thus far. From Carlisle’s lessons, I knew we were not that rare. He must have kept me from the others deliberately. But why? He did not fear any physical danger now. What else would motivate him?

There's another tidbit of information: vampires are "not that rare." Setting aside the newborn army wars, the Volturi must be pulling lots of double shifts to keep things straight!


The scent was quite fresh. I could distinguish two different trails. I looked at him questioningly.

Siobhan and Maggie. I wonder where Liam is? That’s their coven, the three of them. They usually travel together.

Coven. I knew the word, but had always thought of it in relation to the larger militarized groups that had dominated Carlisle’s history lessons. The Volturi coven, and before them, the Romanians and the Egyptians. But if this Siobhan could have a coven of three, did the word then apply to us also? Were Carlisle and I a coven? That didn’t seem to fit us. It was too… cold. Perhaps my understanding of the word was imperfect.

The author just copies other vampire literature when she gets stuck, so....


It took us a few hours to catch up with our quarry, for they were running, too. The trail took us deeper and deeper into the snowy wasteland, which was fortunate. Had we come too close to human habitation, Carlisle would have asked me to wait behind. Using my sense of smell to track was not much different from using it to hunt, and I knew I would be overwhelmed should I cross a human trail.

When we were close enough that I could just make out the sound of their running feet ahead of us—they were taking no pains to be noiseless, and obviously not concerned about being followed—Carlisle called loudly, “Siobhan!”

The movement ahead ceased for a brief moment, and then they were bounding back toward us, an assertiveness to the sound that had me tensing in spite of Carlisle’s confidence. He halted and I stopped close to his side. I’d never known him to be wrong, but still I found myself crouching almost automatically.

Easy, Edward. It’s a difficult thing at first, meeting an equal predator. But there is no reason for concern here. I trust her.

Just more confirmation that vampires can't form big covens because they're all biologically assholes.


“Of course,” I whispered, and I straightened beside him, though I could not keep my posture from rigid tautness.

Perhaps this was why he had kept his other acquaintances from me. Maybe this strange instinct to defend was too strong when one was already overwhelmed with newborn passion. I tightened my hold on my locked muscles. I would not disappoint him now.

“Is that you, Carlisle?” a voice rang out, like the clear, deep tone of a church bell.

At first only one vampire emerged from the snow-dusted trees. She was the largest woman I had ever seen—taller than either Carlisle or me, with broader shoulders and thicker limbs. However, there was nothing masculine about her. She was profoundly female in shape—aggressively, forcefully female. It was clear she’d had no intention of passing for a human tonight—she wore only a simple, sleeveless linen shift with an intricately designed silver chain as a belt.

It had been in another lifetime that I had last noticed a woman this way, and I found I was hard pressed to know where to put my eyes. I centered them on her face, which, like her body, was intensely female. Her lips were full and curved, her deep crimson eyes enormous and fringed by lashes thicker than the needles on the pine boughs. Her glossy black hair was piled into a generous roll on top of her head, with two thin wooden rods carelessly stabbed through to hold it in place.

Oh my God, he's horny for a MILF. What is this loving book


I found it a strange relief to look on another face so like Carlisle’s—perfect, smooth, lacking the fleshy lumpiness of human faces. The symmetry was soothing.

A half second later, the other vampire appeared, leaning out from behind the larger female’s side. This one was less remarkable—just a small girl, not much more than a child. Where the tall female seemed to have an excess of everything, this girl was the picture of lack. She looked all bones beneath her plain, dark dress, her wary eyes too big for her face, though it, like her companion’s, was comfortingly flawless. Only the girl’s hair existed in abundance—a wild thatch of bright red curls that appeared to be knotted beyond the possibility of recovery.

We're getting more characterization for Siobhan and Maggie, and what we get for Maggie is "little Irish orphan girl dying in the potato famine."

That's actually why she got turned, by the way. Dying in the potato famine. It's in the Illustrated Guide.


The larger female leaped forward toward Carlisle, and it took all my self-control not to jump between them to stop her. I realized in that instant, observing the musculature of her substantial limbs, that I would only be able to try. It was a humbling thought. Perhaps Carlisle had been protecting my ego, too, by keeping me isolated.

They're really lucky Breaking Dawn didn't end with all the vampire allies randomly starting a fight to the death over someone listening to music too loud or something.


She embraced him, enveloping him in her bare arms. Her bright teeth were exposed, but only in what looked to be a friendly smile. Carlisle clasped his arms around her waist and laughed.

“Hello, Siobhan. It’s been too long.”

Siobhan released him but kept her hands on his shoulders.

“Where have you been hiding, Carlisle? I was beginning to worry something untoward had happened to you.” Her voice was nearly as low as his, a vibrant alto, with the lilt of the Irish dockworkers transformed into something magical.

What, does she wear four-leaf clover necklaces too?


Carlisle’s thoughts turned to me, a hundred lightning flashes of our last year. At the same time, Siobhan’s eyes darted swiftly to my face and away.

“It’s been a busy time,” Carlisle said, but I was more focused on Siobhan’s thoughts.

Practically a newborn… but his eyes. Strange, but not the same strange as Carlisle’s. Amber rather than gold. He’s quite pretty. I wonder where Carlisle found him.

Siobhan took a step back. “I’m being rude. I’ve never met your companion.”

“Allow me to introduce you. Siobhan, this is Edward, my son. Edward, this is, as I’m sure you’ve inferred, my friend of many years, Siobhan. And this is her Maggie.”

The little girl cocked her head to the side, but not in acknowledgment. The thin lines of her eyebrows pushed together as if she was concentrating very hard on some puzzle.

Son? Siobhan thought, at first thrown by the word. Ah, so he’s chosen to create his companion after all this time. Interesting. I wonder why now? There must be something special about the boy.

There really isn't except the author's horniness!


What he says is true, Maggie thought simultaneously. But there’s something missing. Something Carlisle isn’t speaking. She nodded once, as if to herself, and then glanced at Siobhan, who was still examining me.

“Edward, how delightful to meet you,” Siobhan said. She offered me her hand, her gaze lingering on my irises, as if trying to quantify their exact shade.

I knew only the human response for this kind of meeting. I took her hand and brushed my lips against the back of it, noting the glassy smoothness of her skin against mine.

"A pleasure," I responded.

What's the vampire response to it? Hissing and throwing them into a tree?


How charming. She let her hand drop, smiling widely at me. So pretty. I wonder what his gift might be, and why it appealed to Carlisle?

I was taken aback by her thought—only comprehending, when she used the word gift, exactly what she’d meant before, when she’d presumed there must be something special about me—but I’d had enough practice by now to hide my reaction from her interested eyes.

Of course she was right. I did have a gift. But… Carlisle had been honestly surprised when he’d understood what I could do. I knew, thanks to my gift, that he was not pretending. There was no lie, no evasion in his thoughts when he’d answered my own whys. He was very lonely. My mother had pleaded for my life. My face had unconsciously promised some virtue that I wasn’t entirely sure I embodied.

You don't!


I was still mulling over both the rightness and the wrongness of her assumptions as she turned back to Carlisle. One final thought about me lingered as she moved.

Poor boy. I suppose Carlisle has imposed his odd habits on the lad. That’s why his eyes are so strange. How tragic—to be deprived of the greatest joy of this life.


Carlisle's best friends with people who just gleefully enjoy killing people! What the gently caress is wrong with this story? How did we let Stephenie Meyer ruin his characterization in one fell swoop so quickly after trying to make us love him?


At the time, this conclusion did not trouble me as much as her other speculation. Later—their conversation lasted through the night and trapped us away from our rented rooms until the sun had set—when we were alone again, I spoke to him about it. Carlisle told me Siobhan’s history, her fascination with the Volturi, her curiosity about the world of mystic vampire talents, and finally her discovery of a strange child who seemed to know more than was humanly possible. Siobhan had changed Maggie not because of any need for companionship or personal concern for the girl, who might, under other circumstances, have been dinner, but because she was eager to collect a talent for her own coven. It was a different way of viewing the world, a less human way than Carlisle had managed to preserve. He’d withheld the information about my own talent from Siobhan (this explained Maggie’s strange response to my introduction; she knew Carlisle was holding something back by virtue of her own gift), not certain how Siobhan would have reacted to his having acquired access to such a rare and powerful gift without even a search. Because it was no more than a strange coincidence that I should have turned out to be talented. My gift to read minds was part of me, so Carlisle did not wish it away any more than he would have wanted to change the color of my hair or the timbre of my voice. However, he never saw that gift as a commodity for his use or advantage.

So why the gently caress are you friends with her? This isn't "less human": it's sociopathic.

In most vampire books, Siobhan would be the villain. In this one, she's on hugging terms with Carlisle.


I thought about these revelations every so often, less and less as time went on. I grew more comfortable in the human world, and Carlisle returned to his previous work as a surgeon. I studied medicine, among many other subjects, while he was away, but always from books, never in the hospital. Only a few years later, Carlisle found Esme and we returned to a more reclusive life while she acclimated. It was a busy time, full of new knowledge and new friends, so it was several more years before Siobhan’s pitying words began to trouble me.

Is this Meyer's way of saying he doesn't legitimately have two medical degrees? Because the boy doesn't act like it!


Poor boy.… How tragic—to be deprived of the greatest joy of this life.

Unlike her other conjecture—so easy to disprove when I had the transparent honesty of Carlisle’s thoughts to read—this idea began to fester. It was that phrase, the greatest joy of this life, that eventually led to my separation from Carlisle and Esme. In the pursuit of that promised joy, I took human life over and over again, thinking that, in the arrogant application of my gift, I could do more good than harm.

The first time I tasted human blood, my body was overwhelmed. It felt totally filled and totally well. More alive than before. Even though the blood was not of the greatest quality—my first prey’s body was saturated with bitter-tasting drugs—it made my usual fare seem like ditch water. And yet… my mind remained slightly removed from my body’s gratification. I couldn’t keep from seeing the ugliness. I couldn’t forget what Carlisle must think of my choice.

Oh, and Siobhan is also the direct cause of pushing Edward into becoming a serial killer!


I assumed those qualms would fade. I found very bad men who had kept their bodies clean, if not their hands, and savored the better quality. Mentally, I tabulated the number of lives I might be saving with my judge, jury, and executioner operation. Even if I was just saving one per kill, just the next victim on the list, wasn’t that better than if I’d let these human predators continue?

It was years before I gave up. I was never sure then why blood wasn’t the existence-crowning ecstasy that Siobhan had believed it to be, why I continued to miss Carlisle and Esme more than I enjoyed my freedom, why the weight of each kill seemed to accumulate until I was crippled under their combined load. Over the years after my return to Carlisle and Esme, as I struggled to relearn all the discipline I’d abandoned, I came to the conclusion that Siobhan might not know anything greater than the call of blood, but I had been born to something better.

This is actually not the first we'll see of Edward's murdering days. I never thought I'd say this, but you might actually like it. It's one of those parts of this book that makes the rest so frustrating.


And now, the words that had once haunted me, once driven me, came back with surprising force.

The greatest joy of this life.

I had no doubts. I now knew the meaning of the phrase. The greatest joy of my life was this fragile, brave, warm, insightful girl sleeping so peacefully nearby. Bella. The very greatest joy that life had to offer me, and the greatest pain when she was lost.

Dammit, I was way more into that flashback than this!


My phone vibrated silently in my shirt pocket. I whipped it out, saw the number, and held it to my ear.

“I see that you can’t speak,” Alice said quietly, “but I thought you would want to know. It’s eighty-twenty now. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” She hung up.

Of course I couldn’t trust the confidence in her voice when I didn’t have her thoughts to read, and she knew that. She could lie to me over the phone. But I still felt encouraged.

What I was doing was basking, drowning, wallowing in my love for Bella. I didn’t think it would be difficult to keep doing that.

Apr 23, 2014

Wait a second, Edward isn't MILF horny at all!

I just pulled up the Illustrated Guide. Siobhan is supposed to have been turned at 20. Because the Breaking Dawn films were filmed before the release of the book, the 35 or 36-year-old Lisa Howard was cast and permanently gave everyone the impression of Siobhan being a huge red-haired Irish farmer's wife. Meyer created so much backstory years after the fact that we've been left to create our own canons in our head.

Jan 28, 2013

At this point I’m convinced there’s a part of the story where Carlisle plays Santa Claus at a local children’s hospital and then takes Edward to visit an old friend who just arrived in Salem’s Lot.

Jul 20, 2017

chitoryu12 posted:

Wait a second, Edward isn't MILF horny at all!

I just pulled up the Illustrated Guide. Siobhan is supposed to have been turned at 20. Because the Breaking Dawn films were filmed before the release of the book, the 35 or 36-year-old Lisa Howard was cast and permanently gave everyone the impression of Siobhan being a huge red-haired Irish farmer's wife. Meyer created so much backstory years after the fact that we've been left to create our own canons in our head.
I was just talking with a friend about how weird it is Meyer has everyone turned in their teens or twenties. Bella is obviously the wish fulfillment of being a mature teenager ready for what Meyer finds the best of young adult life, so that timeline doesn't weird me out so much, but there's no reason Esme couldn't have, say, been in her early or mid 30s when she died while keeping her backstory intact. Or rather, no reason beyond that being 'too old' for her True Love with Carlisle, or something. Meanwhile, her mental youth makes her adopting all these adults, one of whom is basically her age, really quite strange.

Apr 23, 2014

PetraCore posted:

I was just talking with a friend about how weird it is Meyer has everyone turned in their teens or twenties. Bella is obviously the wish fulfillment of being a mature teenager ready for what Meyer finds the best of young adult life, so that timeline doesn't weird me out so much, but there's no reason Esme couldn't have, say, been in her early or mid 30s when she died while keeping her backstory intact. Or rather, no reason beyond that being 'too old' for her True Love with Carlisle, or something. Meanwhile, her mental youth makes her adopting all these adults, one of whom is basically her age, really quite strange.

It's really creepy when you start thinking about it. The entire Cullen family ranges from 17 to 26 biologically, and the vampiric beauty seems to smooth over Edward's youth enough to get adults going weak at the knees when they look at him. So anyone looking at the family would see a bunch of young hot models around the same age with two of them claiming to be the adoptive parents of the rest of them. It's not just a cover that wouldn't pass basic scrutiny, it's a cover that wouldn't last a second with most people. Completely ignoring that all of the "kids" obliterate the curve in high school with their genius test results every time.

Up Circle
Apr 3, 2008

Carlisle being a respected, experienced doctor who apparently presents at the age of 24 (and if he's supernaturally beautiful he could look even younger!!!!!) is really funny.

He's literally doogie howser

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 16: The Knot

We are currently at the halfway point of the book.


Bella slept so soundly through the night that it was unnerving.

Much like you being there.


For what seemed a very long time now, from the first moment I’d caught her scent, I’d been powerless to keep my own state of mind from careening wildly from one extreme to the other every minute of the day. Tonight was worse than usual—the burden of the hazard immediately ahead had pushed me to a peak of mental stress beyond anything I’d known in a hundred years.

And Bella slept on, limbs relaxed, forehead smooth, lips turned up at the corners, her breath flowing softly in and out as evenly as a metronome. In all my nights with her, she’d never been so at peace. What did it mean?

I could only think that it meant she did not understand. Despite all the warnings I’d given her, she still didn’t believe the truth. She trusted me too much. She was wrong to do so.

She didn’t stir when her father peeked into her room. It was still early; the sun had not yet risen. I held my place, certain I was invisible in my shadowed corner. Her father’s shrouded thoughts were tinged with regret, with guilt. Nothing too serious, I thought, simply an acknowledgment that he was leaving her alone again. For a moment he wavered, but a sense of obligation—plans, companions, promised rides—pulled him away. That was my best guess.

That's because Charlie is a good dad.


Charlie made a great deal of noise gathering his fishing things from the coat closet under the stairs. Bella had no reaction to the commotion. Her lids never so much as fluttered.

Once Charlie was gone, it was my turn to exit, though I was loath to leave the serenity of her room. Despite everything, her peaceful sleep had calmed my spirits. I took one final lungful of fire, and then held it inside my chest, cradling the pain close until it could be replenished.

The tumult resumed as soon as she was awake; whatever calm she had found in her dreams seemed to have vanished in the light. The sound of her movements was hurried, and a few times she tweaked the curtains, looking for me, I thought. It made me impatient to be with her again, but we had agreed on a time and I didn’t want to prematurely interrupt her preparations. Mine were made, but felt incomplete. Could I ever be truly ready for a day such as this?

I wished I could feel the joy of it—an entire day by her side, answers to every question I could ask, her warmth surrounding me. At the same time, I wished I could turn my back on her house this moment and run in the opposite direction—that I could be strong enough to run to the far side of the world and stay there, never to endanger her again. But I remembered Alice’s vision of Bella’s bleak, shadowed face and knew that I could never be that strong.

You keep bringing that one up, buddy!


I’d worked myself into a fine dark mood by the time I dropped from the shadows of the tree and crossed her front lawn. I tried to erase the evidence of my state of mind from my face, but I couldn’t seem to remember how to shape my muscles the right way.

I knocked quietly, knowing she was listening, then heard her feet stumble down the last few stairs to the hall. She ran to the door and fought with the bolt for a long moment, finally yanking the door open so forcefully that it smacked into the wall with a bang.

She looked into my eyes and was abruptly still, the peace of the previous night evident in her smile.

My mood, too, lightened. I drew in a breath, replacing the stale burn with fresh pain, but the pain was so much less than the joy of being with her.

An errant curiosity drew my eyes to her clothes. Which outfit had she decided on? I remembered the ensemble at once—now that I thought about it, this sweater had been laid in the most prominent position, draped over her obsolete computer, with a white button-down underneath and blue jeans just to the side. Light tan, white collar, medium blue denim… I didn’t have to look at myself to know the shades and styles were nearly identical.

I chuckled once. Something in common again.

Yes, you both dress like you're attending Brigham Young University.


“Good morning.”

“What’s wrong?” she responded.

There were a thousand answers to that question and I was taken aback for an instant, but then I saw her glance down at herself and inferred it was to search for the reason behind my laugh.

“We match,” I explained.

I laughed again as she took this in, examining my clothes and then her own, with a surprised look on her face. Suddenly, the surprise shifted to a frown. Why? I couldn’t think of a reason to find the coincidence anything more or less than mildly amusing. Was there some deeper reason she’d chosen these clothes, some reason that made her angry when I laughed? How could I ask that without sounding strange? I could only be sure that her reason for choosing thusly had not been the same as mine.

I shuddered internally at the thought of the purpose behind my wardrobe and what it portended. But I shouldn’t shy away from this. I shouldn’t want to hide myself from her. She deserved to know everything.

Bella is over here griping that Edward is prettier than her while he's writing an entire poem in his head about all the possible reasons she could be frowning and then deciding it must be because he's destined to kill her today.


Her smile returned as she walked with me to her truck—suddenly smug. I wasn’t going to back out of the promise I’d made, but I didn’t particularly like it. I knew it wasn’t rational. She drove herself around in this antique monstrosity daily and nothing bad ever happened to her. Of course, the bad things seemed to wait until I was there to be their horrified witness. My expression must have led her to believe I was upset about the arrangement.

“We made a deal,” she gloated, leaning across the seat to unlock the passenger door.

I could only wish my concerns were that trivial.

Does he really think the truck is just going to explode on the way to the trail?


The decrepit engine coughed its way to life. The metal frame vibrated so violently I worried something would shake loose.

“Where to?” she half shouted over the cacophony. She wrenched the gearshift into reverse and looked back over her shoulder.

If you have to shout that loud over a 1950s Chevy pickup engine, it needs some serious work!


“Put your seat belt on,” I insisted. “I’m nervous already.”

She threw a dark look at me, but snapped her buckle into place, and then sighed.

“Where to?” she said again.

“Take the one-oh-one north.”

She kept her eyes on the road as she drove slowly through town. I wondered if she would accelerate when we were on the main road, but she continued at three miles per hour below the posted speed limit. The sun was still low in the eastern horizon, shrouded in thin layers of cloud. But according to Alice, it would be sunny by midday. I wondered if—at this rate—we would be safely in the woods before the sunlight could touch me.

“Were you planning to make it out of Forks before nightfall?” I asked, knowing she would object to the defamation of her truck.

She reacted as expected. “This truck is old enough to be your car’s grandfather,” she snapped. “Have some respect.” But she goaded the engine slightly faster. Two miles above the speed limit now.

Is she driving at loving 20 MPH through town?


I felt a little relieved when we were finally free of downtown Forks. Soon there was more forest than civilization outside the window. The engine droned on like a jackhammer biting into granite. Her eyes never strayed from the road for a second. I wanted to say something, to ask her what she was thinking about, but I didn’t want to distract her. There was something almost fierce about her concentration.

“Turn right on the one-ten,” I told her.

She nodded to herself, then slowed down to a crawl to take the turn.

“Now we drive till the pavement ends.”

“And what’s there?” she asked. “At the pavement’s end?”

An empty forest. A total lack of witnesses. A monster. “A trail.”

This guy thinks like a 2007 Myspace emo.


Her voice was higher, tighter, when she responded, still staring only at the road. “We’re hiking?”

The concern in her tone worried me. I hadn’t considered… The distance was very short, and the way was not difficult, not so different from the trail behind her house.

“Is that a problem?” Was there somewhere else to take her? I hadn’t made any backup plans.

“No,” she said quickly, but her voice was still a little strained.

“Don’t worry,” I assured her. “It’s only five miles or so, and we’re in no hurry.” Truly—suddenly feeling a wave of panic as I realized how short the distance was indeed—I would love nothing more than a delay.

Five miles is "very short" to you, maybe.


The furrow was back. After a few empty seconds, she started to chew on her lower lip.

“What are you thinking?” Did she want to turn around? Had she changed her mind about all of it? Did she wish she’d never answered the door this morning?

Yes, but not for the reason you think!


“Just wondering where we’re going,” she replied. Her tone aimed for casual, but missed it by a few inches.

“It’s a place I like to go when the weather is nice.” I glanced through the window and she did, too. The clouds were no more than a thin veil now. They would burn off soon.

What did she think she would see when the sun touched my skin? What mental image had she conjured to explain today’s field trip to herself?

Nothing of consequence. Her head has been pretty empty at this point.


“Charlie said it would be warm today.”

I thought of her father, pictured him beside the river, enjoying the pleasant day. He didn’t know he was at a crossroads, a possible life-destroying nightmare waiting, so close, to engulf his entire world.

"One I've decided to force him to participate it."


“And did you tell Charlie what you were up to?” I asked the question without hope.

She smiled, eyes straight ahead. “Nope.”

I wished she didn’t sound so happy about it. Still, I knew there was one witness, one voice to speak for Bella if she didn’t come home.

“But Jessica thinks we’re going to Seattle together?”

“No,” she said, complacent. “I told her you canceled on me—which is true.”

What? I hadn’t heard this. It must have happened while I was hunting with Alice. Bella had covered my tracks for me as if she wanted me to get away with her murder.

“No one knows you’re with me?”

She flinched slightly at my tone, but then her chin came up and she forced a smile. “That depends. I assume you told Alice?”

I had to take a deep breath to keep my voice even. “That’s very helpful, Bella.”

Her smile disappeared, but she gave no other indication that she’d heard me.

In the original book, Edward was described as "snapping" at her instead of speaking evenly. Meyer is trying very hard in the new text to retcon as much as she can about how Edward actually behaved, trying to pull some sleight of hand and transform someone who was openly oppressive and violent into a scared and awkward kid who's poorly socialized but not actually evil.


“Are you so depressed by Forks that it’s made you suicidal?”

“You said it might cause trouble for you,” she said quietly, all humor gone. “Us being together publicly.”

I remembered the exchange perfectly, and wondered how she had gotten it so backward. I hadn’t told her that so she would try to make herself more vulnerable to me. I’d told her so she would run away from me.

If only you hadn't paired that with constantly demanding her presence and grilling her for days about her life!


“So you’re worried about the trouble it might cause me,” I asked through my teeth, trying to place the words in exactly the right order so that it would be impossible for her not to hear the inherent ridiculousness of her position. “If you don’t come home?

Eyes on the road, she nodded once.

“How can you not see how wrong I am?” I hissed, too angry to slow the words down into something comprehensible for her. Telling her never worked. I would have to show her.

"I shall uproot all of the saplings!"


She seemed nervous, but in a new way, her eyes almost shifting to look at me, yet never quite breaking away from the road. Frightened by my anger, though not in the way she should be. Just worried that she’d made me unhappy. I didn’t have to read her mind to anticipate the established pattern.

As usual, I wasn’t truly angry with her—only myself. Yes, her responses toward me were always backward. But that was because, in another way, they were right. She was always too kind. She gave me credit I didn’t deserve, worried over my feelings as if they mattered. Her very goodness was what put her in this danger. Her virtue, my vice, the two opposites binding us together.

So you admit you have even less in common than it seems?


We’d reached the end of the paved road. Bella pulled the truck onto the loamy shoulder and killed the engine. The sudden quiet was almost shocking after the long auditory assault. She disengaged her seat belt and slid quickly from the truck without looking at me. With her back to me, she pulled her sweater over her head. It took her a few seconds’ struggle, and then she tied the sleeves around her waist. I was surprised to see that her shirt mirrored my own in more than color; it too left her arms bare to the shoulder. This was more of her than I was used to seeing, but despite the fascination that immediately sparked, what I felt most was concern. Anything that interrupted my concentration was a danger.

Edward is left stunned by seeing arm flesh.


I sighed. I didn’t want to go through with this. There were many serious reasons, life and death reasons, but in this moment, my greatest dread was the expression on her face, the revulsion in her eyes, when she finally saw me.

I would face it head-on. Pretend to be brave, to be bigger than this selfish fear, even if it was no more than a charade.

I slipped my own sweater off, feeling glaringly conspicuous. I’d never uncovered so much of my skin around anyone but my family. this supposed to sound like he's hyping himself up to come out to everyone?


Jaw clenched, I slid out of the truck—leaving the sweater so I wouldn’t be tempted—and shut the door. I stared into the forest. Maybe if I got off the road and into the trees, I wouldn’t feel so exposed.

I felt her eyes on me, but I was too cowardly to turn. I looked over my shoulder instead.

“This way.” The words came out clipped, too fast. I had to get my anxiety under control. I started to walk slowly forward.

“The trail?” Her voice was an octave higher than usual. I glanced at her again—she looked nervous as she walked around the front end of the truck to meet me. There were so many things that might be frightening her, I couldn’t be sure which it was.

At this point, specifically rocks.


I tried to sound like a normal person. Light, funny. Maybe I could ease her apprehension, if not my own. “I said there was a trail at the end of the road, not that we were taking it.”

“No trail?” She said the word trail as if she were referring to the last life vest on a sinking ship.

I squared my shoulders, formed my lips into a false smile, and turned to face her.

“I won’t let you get lost,” I promised.

It was worse than I’d been braced for. Her mouth actually fell open, like a character in the kind of sitcom that had a laugh track. She did a quick double take, her eyes running up and down my bared skin.

And this was nothing. Just pale skin. Well, extremely pale skin, bent in a slightly inhuman way over the angularity of my inhuman musculature. If this was her response to no more than my skin in the shade…

Her face fell. It was as if my former despondency had transferred to her, had landed with the weight of all my hundred years. Perhaps this was all that was needed. Maybe she’d seen enough.

How self-centered can you be?


“Do you want to go home?” If she wanted to leave me, if she wanted to walk away now, I would let her go. I would watch her disappear, and endure it. I wasn’t quite sure how, but I would find a way.

Her eyes flashed with some unfathomable reaction, and she said, “No!” so quickly, it was almost a retort. She hurried to my side, coming so close that I would only have had to lean a few inches to brush my arm against hers.

What did it mean?

That your girl's kinda hosed up in the head sometimes!


“What’s wrong?” I asked. There was still pain in her eyes, pain that made no sense combined with her actions. Did she want to leave me or not?

Her voice was low and nearly inflectionless as she answered. “I’m not a good hiker. You’ll have to be very patient.”

I didn’t believe her entirely, but it was a kind lie. Obviously she was concerned about the lack of a conventional trail to follow, but that was hardly enough to create the grief in her expression. I leaned closer and smiled as gently as I could, trying to coax a smile in return. I hated the shadow of misery lingering around the edges of her lips, her eyes.

“I can be patient,” I assured her, lightening my tone. “If I make a great effort.”

"I'm normally just the worst!"


She half smiled at my words, but one side of her mouth refused to turn up.

“I’ll take you home,” I promised. Perhaps she felt she had no choice but to face this trial by fire, that she owed it to me in some way. She owed me nothing. She was free to walk away whenever she wished.

I was taken aback by her response. Rather than accept the out I was offering with relief, she quite distinctly scowled at me. When she spoke, her tone was caustic. “If you want me to hack five miles through the jungle before sundown, you’d better start leading the way.”

I stared at her, dumbfounded, waiting for more—for something that would make it clear how I’d offended her—but she just lifted her chin and narrowed her eyes as if in challenge.

Not knowing what else to do, I held my arm out to usher her forward, lifting a protruding branch higher with my other hand. She stomped underneath it, then swatted a smaller limb out of her way.

Which immediately sprung back and hit her in the face.


It was easier in the forest. Or maybe I had just needed a moment to process her first reaction. I led the way, holding the foliage to clear her path. Mostly she kept her eyes down, not as if she were avoiding looking at me, but as if she didn’t trust the ground. I saw her glare at a few roots as she stepped over them and made the connection then—surely a clumsy person would be nervous about the uneven terrain. However, that still didn’t explain her earlier gloom or her following anger.

In case you've forgotten, it's just Bella being sad that she's not as pretty as the vampires.


Many things were easier in the forest than I expected them to be. Here we were, totally alone, no witnesses, and yet it didn’t feel dangerous. Even the few times that we reached an obstacle—a fallen log across the way, an outcropping of rock too high to step over—and I instinctively reached out to help her, it was no more difficult to touch her than it had been at school. Not difficult was hardly the correct description. It was thrilling, pleasurable, just as it had been before. When I lifted her gently, I heard her heart drum in double time. I imagined my heart would sound just the same if it could also beat.

Bella is crying as she looks at Edward's perfect musculature, Edward is nearly creaming himself helping her over rocks. This is the most pathetic hike in existence.


It probably felt safe, or safe enough, because I knew this wasn’t the place. Alice had never seen me killing Bella in the middle of the forest. If only I didn’t have to hold Alice’s vision inside my head.… Of course, not knowing that possible future, not preparing for it, might have been the very ignorance that would lead to Bella’s death. It was all so circular and impossible.

Not for the first time in my life, I wished that I could make my brain slow down. Force it to move at human speed, if only just for a day, an hour, so that I wouldn’t have time to obsess over and over again about the same solutionless problems.

"Repeating myself time and time again in my inner monologue until over a hundred pages are added to the story!"


“Which was your favorite birthday?” I asked her. I badly needed some distraction.

Her mouth screwed up into something that was halfway between a wry smile and a scowl.

“What?” I asked. “Is it not my day to ask questions?”

She laughed and her hand fluttered as though she was waving away that concern. “It’s fine. I just don’t know the answer. I’m not a big fan of birthdays.”

"Or adulthood."


“That’s… unusual.” I couldn’t think of another teenager I’d met who thought the same way.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” she said, shrugging. “Presents and stuff. What if you don’t like them? You’ve got to get your game face on right away so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. And people look at you a lot.”

“Your mother isn’t an intuitive gift giver?” I guessed.

Her answering smile was cryptic. I could tell she would say nothing negative about her mother, though she’d obviously been scarred.

"I had a looked at a lighter once at 7-11, so she thought a build-your-own flamethrower kit would be a great idea. She caused 18 casualties."


We walked for a half mile in silence. I was hoping she would volunteer more, or ask a question that would tell me where her thoughts were, but she kept her eyes on the forest floor, concentrating. I tried again.

“Who was your favorite teacher in elementary school?”

“Mrs. Hepmanik,” she responded without a pause. “Second grade. She let me read in class pretty much whenever I wanted.”

I grinned at her. “A paragon.”

“Who was your favorite grade school teacher?”

“I don’t remember,” I reminded her.

"We had no such thing in the 1900s. They just yelled and hit you with rulers for not memorizing grammar and equations by rote."


She frowned. “Right. Sorry, I didn’t think—”

“No need to apologize.”

It took me another quarter mile to think of a question she couldn’t turn around on me too easily.

“Dogs or cats?”

Her head tilted to one side. “I’m not really sure.… I think maybe cats? Cuddly, but independent, right?”

“Have you never had a dog?”

“I’ve never had either. Mom says she’s allergic.”

Her response was oddly skeptical.

“You don’t believe her?”

She paused again, not wanting to be disloyal. “Well,” she said slowly, “I caught her petting a lot of other people’s dogs.”

“I wonder why…?” I mused.

Of course.


Bella laughed. It was a carefree sound, totally lacking any kind of bitterness.

“It took me forever to talk her into letting me have a fish. I finally figured out that she was worried about being stuck at home. I’ve told you how she loved to take off every weekend we could—go visit some little town or minor historical monument she’d never seen before. I showed her those time-release food tablets that can feed the fish for over a week, and she relented. Renée just can’t stand an anchor. I mean, she already had me, right? One huge life-altering anchor was enough. She wasn’t going to volunteer for more.”

And that's why you fought for almost 100% custody for your kid when you left your husband to take care of his ailing parents alone, right? So you could have an "anchor"?

God, this woman can go gently caress herself so hard. All of the new characterization for Renee seems to exist just to make her more awful.


I kept my face very smooth. This insight of hers—which I didn’t doubt, she’d always seen through me so easily—put a darker spin on my interpretation of her past. Was Bella’s need to be a caretaker based not on her mother’s helplessness, but on a feeling of needing to earn her place? It made me angry to think that Bella might ever have felt unwanted, or that she needed to prove her worth. I had the oddest desire to wait on her hand and foot in some socially acceptable way, to show Bella that her merely existing was more than enough.

This is still weird, though.


She didn’t notice me trying to control my reaction. With another laugh, she continued. “It was probably for the best that we never tried anything bigger than a goldfish. I wasn’t very good at pet ownership. I thought maybe I’d been overfeeding the first one, so I really cut back on the second, but that was a mistake. And the third one”—she looked up at me, baffled—“I honestly don’t know what his problem was. He kept jumping out of the bowl. Eventually, I didn’t find him soon enough.” She frowned. “Three in a row—I guess that makes me a serial killer.”

It was impossible not to laugh, but she didn’t seem offended. She laughed with me.

"I know exactly how you feel, Bella!"


As our amusement subsided, the light changed. Alice’s promised sunshine had arrived above the thick canopy, and immediately I felt jittery and anxious again.

I knew that this emotion—stage fright was the closest term I could come up with—was truly ridiculous. So what if Bella found me repulsive? If she rejected me in disgust? That was fine, better than fine. That was literally the smallest, tiniest sort of misery that could hurt me today. Was vanity, the fragility of ego, truly that strong a force? I’d never believed it had that kind of power over me, and I didn’t think so now. Obsessing over this reveal kept me from obsessing over other things. Like the rejection that would follow the disgust. Bella walking away from me, and knowing that I had to let her go. Would she be so frightened by me that she’d refuse to let me lead her back to the truck? Surely I would have to at least get her safely to the road. Then she could drive away alone.

Imagine if that really did happen. Bella really does have a phobia of disco balls or something and Edward has to awkwardly help her 5 miles back through the forest to her truck because she doesn't even know which way is north and would fall into a creek otherwise.


Though my whole frame felt like it might crumple with the pain of that image, there was something much worse—the looming test Alice had seen. Failing that test… I couldn’t imagine. How would I live through that? How would I find a way to stop living?


We were so close.

Bella noticed the change in light as we passed through a thinner patch of forest. She frowned teasingly. “Are we there yet?”

I pretended to be equally lighthearted. “Nearly. Do you see the brightness ahead?”

She narrowed her eyes at the forest before us, the concentration line forming between her brows. “Um, should I?”

“Maybe it’s a bit too soon for your eyes,” I allowed.

A shrug. “Time to visit the optometrist.”

Meyer removed the part where Edward smirks smugly at her when she says this. There's a ton of these little changes in tone and description that are really obvious when you put both texts side-by-side, but someone who read these books a decade ago and hasn't picked them up again wouldn't notice. It's almost like gaslighting.


The silence seemed heavier as we progressed. I could tell when Bella spotted the brightness of the meadow. She smiled almost unconsciously and her stride lengthened. She wasn’t watching the ground anymore; her eyes were locked on the filtered glow of sunshine. Her eagerness only made my reluctance heavier. More time. Just another hour or two… Could we stop here? Would she forgive me if I balked?

But I knew there was no point in delay. Alice had seen that it would come to this, sooner or later. Avoidance would never make it easier.

Bella led the way now, no hesitation as she pushed through the hedge of ferns and into the meadow.

I wished I could see her face. I could imagine how lovely the place would be on a day like this. I could smell the wildflowers, sweeter in the warmth, and hear the low burble of the stream on the far side. The insects hummed, and far away, birds trilled and crooned. There were no birds nearby now—my presence was enough to frighten all the larger life from this place.

She walked almost reverently into the golden light. It gilded her hair and made her fair skin glow. Her fingers trailed over the taller flowers, and I was reminded again of Persephone. Springtime personified.



I could have watched her for a very long time, perhaps forever, but it was too much to hope that the beauty of the place could make her forget the monster in the shadows for long. She turned, eyes wide with amazement, a wondering smile on her lips, and looked back at me. Expectant. When I didn’t move, she began walking slowly in my direction. She lifted one arm, offering her hand in encouragement.

I wanted to be human so badly in that moment that it nearly crippled me.

But I was not human, and the time had come for perfect discipline. I held my palm up, a warning. She understood, but was not afraid. Her arm dropped and she stayed where she was. Waiting. Curious.

I took a deep breath of the forest air, consciously registering her scorching scent for the first time in hours.

Even trusting Alice’s visions as much as I did, I wasn’t sure how there could be any more to this story. It would have to end now, wouldn’t it? Bella would see me, and be all the things she should have been from the beginning: terrified, disgusted, appalled, repelled… and done with me.

Knowing how Bella (as any reasonable human) actually reacts makes his constant whinging about it almost comedic if it weren't so exhausting.


It felt as though I would never do anything more difficult than this, but I forced my foot to lift and shifted my weight forward.

I would face this head-on.

With all that… I couldn’t bear the first reaction on her face. She would be kind, but it would be impossible for her to disguise that initial instant of shock and revulsion. So I would give her a moment to compose herself.

I closed my eyes as I stepped into the sunlight.

Jul 21, 2011

The bits where Edward ascribes something deep and dramatic to Bella's behaviour when she's thinking something mundane in the corresponding scene in Twilight will never not be funny to me.

Like Edward's narration is all "She took a second to respond to my remark, biting her lip. Of course. Her hesitation made it clear that she knew of the dangers of my presence, knew of all the ways I could slaughter her before she could take another breath. [Insert several more paragraphs about what a monster Edward is]

And then Bella's narration is like "I bit my lip, momentarily distracted by thoughts of tonight's dinner. Should I cook pasta this time? Or fish?"

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 17: Confessions


I felt the sun, warm against my skin, and I was glad I couldn't see that, either. I didn’t want to look at myself now. For the longest half second I’d ever lived through, everything was silent. And then Bella screamed.


My eyes flashed open, and I fully expected to see her running away from all I had just revealed myself to be.

But she was running right at me in a collision course, her mouth open in distress. Her hands were half-extended toward me, and she tripped and stumbled her way through the long grass. Her expression wasn’t frightened, but it was desperate. I didn’t understand what she was doing.

....wait, what the gently caress?


I couldn’t let her crash into me, whatever she was intending. I needed her to keep her distance. I raised my hand again, palm forward.

She faltered, then wobbled in place for a moment, exuding anxiety.

As I stared into her eyes, saw my reflection there, I thought perhaps I understood. Mirrored in her eyes, what I resembled most was a man on fire. Though I’d debunked her myths, she must have held on to them subconsciously.

Because she was worried. Frightened for the monster rather than of it.

She took a step toward me, and then hesitated when I moved a half step back.

“Does that hurt you?” she whispered.

Yes, I’d been right. She wasn’t afraid for herself, not even now.

“No,” I whispered back.

Hang on, no! None of this happened!


She stepped another foot closer, careful now. I let my hand fall.

She still wanted to be closer to me.

Her expression shifted as she approached. Her head cocked to the side, and her eyes first narrowed, then grew huge. Even with this much space between us, I could see the effects of the light refracting off my skin shining prism-like against her own. She moved another step and then another, keeping the same distance away as she slowly circled around me. I stayed completely motionless, feeling her eyes touch my skin as she moved out of my sight. Her breath came more quickly than usual, her heart pumped faster.

She reappeared on my right, and now there was a tiny smile beginning to form around the edges of her lips as she completed her circle and faced me again.

How could she smile?

She walked closer, stopping when she was only ten inches away. Her hand was raised, curled close to her chest, as if she wanted to reach out and touch me but was afraid to. The sunlight shattered off my arm and whirled against her face.

“Edward,” she breathed. There was wonder in her voice.

“Are you frightened now?” I asked quietly.

It was as if my question was totally unexpected, as if it shocked her. “No.

Okay, we need to hold up for a second.

This is a link to where we read this chapter from Bella's point of view. You will immediately see that absolutely nothing we've just read happened. The answer for this comes in a Stephenie Meyer interview before the release of this book:

"...I was able to get back to the story again, and also to write the little missing piece from the meadow that has always driven me crazy! ... I just expected an editor to say to me at some point, 'what happened here? Why don't you fill this in? Why isn't that there?' And then no one ever did, and so it was like, okay, I guess it's not that important."

But even more interesting, this is actually the version of the scene used in Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined. It's all from the genderswapped Bella's perspective and much less wordy, but it's otherwise all of the new content here.

So when all is said and done, what you're reading now is the meadow scene basically as was in the first draft of Twilight, the one that was always intended.


I stared into her eyes, unable to stop myself from fruitlessly trying—again—to hear her. She reached toward me, very slowly, watching my face. I thought perhaps she was waiting for me to tell her to stop. I didn’t. Her warm fingers grazed the back of my wrist. She stared intently at the light that danced from my skin to hers.

“What are you thinking?” I whispered. In this moment, the constant mystery was once again acutely painful.

She shook her head slightly, and seemed to struggle for the words. “I am…” She stared up into my eyes. “I didn’t know.…” She took a deep breath. “I’ve never seen anything more beautiful—never imagined something so beautiful could exist.”

I stared back at her in shock. My skin was blazing with the most flagrant symptom of my disease. In the sun, I was less human than at any other time. And she thought I was… beautiful.

Have you ever considered that humans don't immediately classify all non-human features as ugly and repulsive? Someone tell this dude about catgirls. Gonna blow his loving mind.


My hand lifted automatically, turning to take hers, but I forced myself to make it drop, not to touch her.

“It’s very strange, though,” I said. Surely she could understand that this was part of the horror.

“Amazing,” she corrected.

“You aren’t repulsed by my flagrant lack of humanity?”

Though I was fairly sure now what her answer would be, it was still astonishing to me.

She half smiled. “Not repulsed.”

“You should be.”

Her smile widened. “I’m feeling like humanity is pretty overrated.”

"You literally look like a Tiffany's case under a spotlight."


Carefully, I pulled my arm out from underneath her warm fingertips, hiding it behind my back. She valued humanity so lightly. She didn’t realize the depths of what its loss would mean.

Bella took another half step forward, her body so close that its warmth became more pronounced, more present than the sun’s. She lifted her face toward mine, and the light gilded her throat, the play of shadows emphasizing the coursing of her blood through the artery just behind the corner of her jaw.

My body reacted instinctively—venom welling, muscles coiling, thoughts scattering.

How quickly it surfaced! We’d been in this arena of visions mere seconds.

Maybe Bella would be safer if she invested in turtlenecks?


I stopped breathing and took a long step away from her, raising my hand again in warning.

She didn’t try to follow. “I’m… sorry,” she whispered, the sound of the words lilting up, turning them into a question. She didn’t know what she was apologizing for.

I carefully loosed my lungs, and took a controlled breath. Her scent was no more painful than usual—not overwhelming, the way I was half-afraid I would suddenly find it.

“I need some time,” I explained.

“Okay.” Still a whisper.

I moved around her, slow deliberate steps, and walked to the center of the meadow. I sat down in a patch of low grass, and locked my muscles in place, as I had done before. I breathed carefully in and out, listening as her hesitant footsteps crossed the same distance, tasting her fragrance as she sat down next to me.

“Is this all right?” she asked, uncertain.

I nodded. “Just… let me concentrate.”

Her eyes were huge with confusion, with concern. I didn’t want to explain. I closed my own.

Not in cowardice, I told myself. Or not just in cowardice. I did need to concentrate.

I focused on her scent, on the sound of the blood gushing through the chambers of her heart. Only my lungs were allowed motion. Every other part of me I imprisoned into rigid immobility.

The new canon reason Edward can accomplish his self-control: BLOOD MEDITATION


Bella’s heart, I reminded myself as my involuntary systems reacted to the stimuli. Bella’s life.

I was always so careful to not think about her blood—the scent I couldn’t avoid, but the fluid, the movement, the pulse, the hot liquidity of it—these were things I could not dwell on. But now I let it fill my mind, invade my system, attack my controls. The gushing and throbbing of it, the pounding and sloshing. The surge through the biggest arteries, the ripple through the smallest vein. The heat of it, heat that washed in waves across my exposed skin despite the distance between us. The taste of it burning on my tongue and aching in my throat.

I held myself captive, and observed. A small part of my brain was able to stay detached, to think through the onslaught. With that small bit of rationality, I examined my every reaction minutely. I calculated the amount of strength needed to curb each response, and weighed the strength I possessed against that tally. It was a near calculation, but I believed that my will was stronger than my bestial nature. Slightly.

Was this Alice’s knot? It didn’t feel… complete.


All the while, Bella sat almost as still as I was, thinking her private thoughts. Could she imagine any part of the turmoil inside my mind? How did she explain this strange, silent standoff to herself? Whatever she thought of it, her body was calm.

Time seemed to slow with her pulse. The sound of the birds in distant trees turned sleepy. The cascade of the little stream grew somehow more languid. My body relaxed, and even my mouth stopped watering eventually.

Two thousand three hundred sixty-four of her heartbeats later, I felt more in control than I had in many days. Facing things was the key, as Alice had predicted. Was I ready? How could I be sure? How would I ever be sure?

2364 heartbeats? If she's got a resting heart rate of 100 BPM, they just sat there for over 20 minutes doing nothing!

I guess Bella was in training for Breaking Dawn.


And how did I break this long hush I’d imposed? It was starting to feel awkward to me; it must have felt so to her for a while.

You don't say!


I unlocked my pose and lay back in the grass, one hand casually behind my head. Feigning the physical sign of emotion was old habit. Perhaps if I portrayed relaxation, she would believe it.

She only sighed quietly.

I waited to see if she would speak, but she sat silent as before, thinking whatever it was she might be thinking, alone in this remote place with a monster who reflected the sun like a million prisms. I could feel her eyes on my skin, but I didn’t imagine her revolted anymore. The imaginary weight of her gaze—now that I knew it was admiring, that she found me beautiful regardless of everything—brought back that electric current I’d felt with her in the dark, an imitation of life running through my veins.

I let myself get lost in the rhythms of her body, let the sound and the warmth and the smell comingle, and I found that I could still master my inhuman desires, even while the phantom current moved under my skin.

Is Meyer trying to make him sound more like a serial killer now?


This took most of my attention, though. And inevitably, this quiet waiting period would end. She would have so many questions—much more pointed now, I imagined. I owed her a thousand different explanations. Could I handle everything at once?

I decided to try to juggle a few more tasks while still tuning in to the flow and ebb of her blood. I would see if the distraction was too much.

First, I gathered information. I triangulated the exact location of the birds I could hear, and then by their calls identified each one’s genus and species. I analyzed the irregular splash that revealed life in the stream, and after equating the water displaced with the size of the fish, deduced the most likely variety. Categorized the nearby insects—unlike the more developed species, insects ignored my kind as they would a stone—by the speed of their wing movements and the elevation of their flight, or the tiny clicking sounds of their legs against the soil.

As I continued to classify, I added calculation. If there were currently 4,913 insects in the area of the meadow, which was roughly 11,035 square feet, how many insects on average would exist in the 1,400 square miles of the Olympic National Park? What if insect populations dropped 1 percent for each 10 feet of elevation? I brought up in my head a topographic map of the park and started computing the numbers.

Concurrently, I thought through the songs I’d heard most rarely in my century of life—nothing common that I’d heard played more than once. Tunes I’d heard walking past the open door of a bar, peculiar family lullabies lisped by children in their cradles as I ran by in the night, discarded attempts by the music students writing their theater projects in the buildings adjacent to my college classroom. I mouthed through the verses quickly, noting all the reasons each was doomed to failure.

And he still forgot about how humans ate food.


Her blood still pulsed, her heat still warmed, and I still burned. But I could keep my hold on myself. My grip did not loosen. I was in control. Just enough.

“Did you say something?” she whispered.

“Just… singing to myself,” I admitted. I didn’t know how to explain what I was doing more clearly, and she didn’t pursue the question further.

I could feel that the silence was coming to an end, and this did not frighten me. I was growing almost comfortable with the situation, feeling strong and in control. Perhaps I was through the knot after all. Perhaps we were safe on the other side and all of Alice’s hopeful visions were now on their way to becoming real.

And then he immediately bats her head off.


When the change in her breathing telegraphed a new direction to her thoughts, I was intrigued rather than worried. I expected a question, but instead I heard the grass shift around her as she leaned toward me, and the sound of the pulse in her hand moved closer.

One soft, warm fingertip traced slowly across the back of my hand. It was a very gentle touch, but the response in my skin was electric. A different kind of burning than that in my throat, and even more distracting. My calculations and audio recall stuttered and stalled, and she had all my attention, even as her heart throbbed wetly just a foot from my ear.

Now how will he complete his thesis on insect populations in Olympic National Park?


I opened my eyes, eager to see her expression and guess at her thoughts. I was not disappointed. Her eyes were bright with wonder again, the corners of her lips turned up. She met my gaze and her smile grew more pronounced. I echoed it.

“I don’t scare you?” I hadn’t scared her away. She wanted to be here, with me.

Her tone was teasing when she answered. “No more than usual.”

This is where the meadow scene from the original Twilight begins.


She leaned closer, and laid all of her hand against my forearm, slowly stroking down toward my wrist. Her skin felt fever-hot against mine, and though a tremor quivered through her fingers, there was no fear in that touch. My eyelids slipped closed again as I tried to contain my reaction. The electric current felt like an earthquake rocking through my core.

“Do you mind?” she asked, and her hand paused in its progress.

“No,” I responded quickly. And then, because I wanted her to know some little bit of my experience, I continued, “You can’t imagine how that feels.” I couldn’t have imagined it before this moment. It was beyond any pleasure I’d ever felt.

Her fingers traced back up to the inside of my elbow, outlining patterns there. She shifted her weight and her other hand reached for mine. I felt her tug lightly and realized she wished to turn my hand over. As soon as I complied, though, both her hands froze and she gasped quietly.

I glanced up, swiftly realizing my mistake—I’d moved like a vampire rather than a human.

Why is it that even in scenes where the vampires are alone, we never see them using their super speed when moving or talking? It's always in comparison to humans that they use it. Or are we supposed to assume that every scene of the Cullens at home has them actually operating at 120x speed unless otherwise stated?


“Sorry,” I muttered. But, as our eyes met, I could already tell I’d done no real harm. She’d recovered from the surprise without the smile ever leaving her face. “It’s too easy to be myself with you,” I explained, and then I let my eyelids close again, so I could focus everything on the feel of her skin against mine.

I felt the pressure as she started to try to lift my hand. I moved my hand in concert with her motion, knowing that it would take quite a bit of effort for her to heft even just my hand without my help. I was a little heavier than I looked.

So vampires don't just have rock-hard skin, they are statues.


She held my hand close to her face. Warm breath seared against my palm. I helped her angle my hand this way and that as the pressure of her fingers indicated. I opened my eyes to see her staring intently, rainbow sparks dancing across her face as the light moved back and forth across my skin. The furrow was there again between her eyes. What question troubled her now?

“Tell me what you’re thinking.” I said the words gently, but could she hear that I was begging? “It’s still so strange for me, not knowing.”

Her mouth pursed just a little, and her left eyebrow rose a fraction of an inch. “You know, the rest of us feel that way all the time.”

The rest of us. The vast family of humanity that did not include me. Her people, her kind.

This guy is incapable of hearing a single sentence without taking it as an excuse to mope.


“It’s a hard life.” The words did not sound like the joke I meant them to be. “But you didn’t tell me.”

She answered slowly. “I was wishing I could know what you were thinking.…”

There was obviously more. “And?”

Her voice was low; a human would have had a hard time hearing her. “I was wishing I could believe that you were real. And I was wishing that I wasn’t afraid.”

A flash of pain stabbed through me. I’d been wrong. I had frightened her after all. Of course I had.

“I don’t want you to be afraid.” It was an apology and a lament.

I was surprised when she grinned almost impishly. “Well, that’s not exactly the fear I meant, though that’s certainly something to think about.”

We've been thinking about it for hundreds of pages. We can stop now.


How was she joking now? What could she mean? I sat up halfway, too eager for answers to pretend nonchalance any longer.

“What are you afraid of, then?”

I realized how close our faces were. Her lips, closer than they had ever been to mine. No longer smiling, parted. She inhaled through her nose and her eyelids half closed. She stretched closer as if to catch more of my scent, her chin angling up half an inch, her neck arching forward, her jugular exposed.

And I reacted.

Venom flooded my mouth, my free hand moved of its own volition to seize her, my jaws wrenched open as she leaned in to meet me.

Hasn't he been getting close to her and seeing all sorts of body parts for days now? Has she been keeping her neck completely concealed this whole time?


I threw myself away from her. The madness hadn’t reached my legs and they launched me all the way back to the far edge of the meadow. I moved so quickly I didn’t have time to gently release my hand from hers; I’d yanked it away. My first thought as I landed crouched in the shadows of the trees was her hands, and relief washed over me when I saw they were still attached to her wrists.

Relief followed by disgust. Loathing. Revulsion. All the emotions I’d feared to see in her eyes today multiplied by a hundred years and the sure knowledge that I deserved them and more. Monster, nightmare, destroyer of lives, mutilator of dreams—hers and mine both.

Does he imagine himself doing these as stage monologues?


If I were something better, if I were somehow stronger, instead of a brutal near pass at death, that moment could have been our first kiss.

Had I just failed the test then? Was there no longer hope?

Her eyes were glassy; the whites showed all around her dark irises. I watched as she blinked and they refocused, fastening on my new position. We stared at each other for a long moment.

Her lower lip trembled once, and then she opened her mouth. I waited, tensed, for the recrimination. For her to scream at me, to tell me never to come near her again.

I'd take it.


“I’m… sorry… Edward,” she whispered almost silently.

Of course.

I had to take a deep breath before I could respond.

I calibrated the volume of my voice to be just loud enough for her to hear, trying to keep my tone gentle. “Give me a moment.”

She sat back a few inches. Her eyes were still mostly whites.

I took another breath. I could still taste her from here. It fueled the constant burn, but no more than that. I felt… the way I normally did around her. There was no hint in my mind or body now, no sense that the monster was lurking so near to the surface. That I could snap so easily. It made me want to shriek and tear trees out by their roots. If I couldn’t feel the edge, couldn’t see the trigger, how could I ever protect her from myself?

I could imagine Alice’s encouragement. I had protected Bella. Nothing had happened. But though Alice might have seen that much, watching when my break was still the future and not the past, she couldn’t know how it had felt. To lose control of myself, to be weaker than my worst impulse. Not to be able to stop.

But you did stop. That’s what she would say. She couldn’t know how not enough that was.

There are some pretty awful implications if you decide to translate any of these ideas to a non-supernatural romance!


Bella never looked away from me. Her heart was racing twice as fast as normal. Too fast. It couldn’t be healthy. I wanted to take her hand and tell her everything was fine, she was fine, she was safe, there was nothing to worry about—but these would be such obvious lies.

I still felt… normal—what normal had become in these last months, at least. In control. Just exactly the same as before, when my confidence had nearly killed her.

I walked back slowly, wondering if I should keep my distance. But it didn’t seem right to shout my apology across the meadow at her. I didn’t trust myself to be as close to her as before. I stopped a few paces away, at a conversational distance, and sat on the ground.

I tried to put everything I felt into the words. “I am so very sorry.”

Bella blinked and then her eyes were too wide again; her heart hammered too fast. Her expression was stuck in place. The words didn’t seem to mean anything to her, to register in any way.

In what I immediately knew was a bad idea, I fell back on my usual pattern of trying to keep things casual. I was desperate to remove the frozen shock from her face.

“Would you understand what I meant if I said I was only human?”

Oh my God it was meant to be a joke.


A second too late, she nodded—just once. She tried to smile at my tasteless attempt to make light of the situation, but that effort just marred her expression further. She looked pained, and then, finally, afraid.

I’d seen fear on her face before, but I’d always been quickly reassured. Every time I’d half hoped that she’d realized I wasn’t worth the immense risk, she’d disproved my assumption. The fear in her eyes had never been fear of me.

Until now.

The scent of her fear saturated the air, tangy and metallic.

This was exactly what I’d been waiting for. What I’d always told myself I wanted. For her to turn away. For her to save herself and leave me burning and alone.

Her heart hammered on, and I wanted to laugh and cry. I was getting what I wanted.

Oh hey, Edward's about to make this very disturbing scene worse!


And all because she’d leaned in just one inch too close. She’d gotten near enough to smell my scent, and she’d found it pleasant, just as she found my face attractive and all of my other snares compelling. Everything about me made her want to move closer to me, just exactly as it was designed to.

“I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I?” I made no attempt to hide the bitterness in my voice now. “Everything about me invites you in—my voice, my face, even my smell.” It was all so much overkill. What was the point of my charms and lures? I was no rooted flytrap, waiting for prey to land inside my mouth. Why couldn’t I have been as repulsive on the outside as I was on the inside? “As if I need any of that!”

Now I felt out of control, but not in the same way. All my love and yearning and hope were crumbling to dust, a thousand centuries of grief stretched out in front of me, and I didn’t want to pretend anymore. If I could have no happiness because I was a monster, then let me be that monster.

You could date a vampire?


I was on my feet, racing like her heart, in two tight circles around the edge of the clearing, wondering if she could even see what I was showing her.

I jerked to a stop where I’d stood before. This was why I didn’t need a pretty voice.

“As if you could outrun me.” I laughed at the thought, the grotesque comedy of the image in my head. The sound of my laugh bounced in harsh echoes off the trees.

And after the chase, there would be the capture.

The lowest branch of the ancient spruce beside me was in easy reach. I ripped the limb from the body without any effort at all. The wood shrieked and protested, the bark and splinters exploded from the site of the injury. I weighed the bough for a moment in my hand. Roughly eight hundred sixty three pounds. Not enough to win in a fight with the hemlock across the clearing to my right, but enough to do some damage.

I flicked the branch at the hemlock tree, aiming for a knot about thirty feet from the ground. My projectile hit dead center, the thickest end of the bough smashing with a booming crunch and disintegrating into shards of shattered wood that rained down on the ferns below with a faint hissing. A fissure split through the center of the knot and snaked its way a few feet in either direction. The hemlock tree trembled once, the shock radiating through the roots and into the ground. I wondered if I’d killed it. I’d have to wait a few months to know. Hopefully it would recover; the meadow was perfect as it was.

You're in the middle of a psychotic rampage and you're pausing to be worried about the tree?


So little effort on my part. I’d not needed to use more than a tiny fraction of my available strength. And still, so much violence. So much harm.

In two strides I was standing over her, just an arm’s length way.

“As if you could fight me off.”

The bitterness disappeared from my voice. My little tantrum had cost me no energy, but it had drained some of my ire.

Throughout it all, she’d never moved. She remained paralyzed now, her eyes frozen open. We stared at each other for what seemed like a long time. I was still so angry at myself, but there was no fire left in it. It all seemed pointless. I was what I was.

And the important lesson to take from that is "It doesn't mean none of that just happened."


She moved first. Just a little bit. Her hands had fallen limp in her lap after I’d wrenched away from her, but now one of them twitched open. Her fingers stretched up slightly in my direction. It was probably an unconscious movement, but it was eerily similar to when she’d pleaded “Come back” in her sleep and reached for something. I’d wished then that she could be dreaming of me.

That was the night before Port Angeles, the night before I learned that she already knew what I was. If I’d been aware of what Jacob Black had told her, I never would have believed she could dream of me except in a nightmare. But none of it had mattered to her.

There was still terror in her eyes. Of course there was. But there seemed to be a plea in them, too. Was there any chance she wanted me to come back to her now? Even if she did, should I?

Be real unhealthy if you did!


Her pain, my greatest weakness—as Alice had shown me it would be. I hated to see her frightened. It broke me to know how much I deserved that fear, but more than either of those burdens, I could not bear to see her grief. It stripped me of my ability to make anything close to a good decision.

“Don’t be afraid,” I begged in a whisper. “I promise—” No, that had become too casual a word. “I swear not to hurt you. Don’t be afraid.”

This feels even less authentic than the first time I read it. The only thing that's keeping Edward from going off the loving wall is that he's too sad if Bella is sad.


I moved closer to her slowly, making no movement that she would not have time to anticipate. I sat gradually, in deliberate stages, so that I was once again where we’d begun. I slouched down a bit so that my face was level with hers.

The pace of her heart eased. Her lids relaxed back into their usual place. It was as if my proximity calmed her.

“Please forgive me,” I pleaded. “I can control myself. You caught me off guard, but I’m on my best behavior now.” What a pathetic apology. Still, it brought a hint of a smile to the corner of her lips. And like a fool, I fell back into my immature efforts to be amusing. “I’m not thirsty today, honestly.”

I actually winked at her. One would think I was thirteen instead of a hundred and four.

As I asked last time: do we need to check if Stephenie Meyer is okay?


But she laughed. A little out of breath, a little wobbly, but still a real laugh, with real mirth and relief. Her eyes warmed, her shoulders loosened, and her hands opened again.

It felt so right to gently place my hand back inside hers. It shouldn’t, but it did.

“Are you all right?”

She stared at our hands, then glanced up to meet my gaze for a moment, and finally looked down again. She started to trace the lines across my palm with the tip of her finger, just as she had been doing before my frenzy. Her eyes returned to mine and a smile slowly spread across her face till the little dimple appeared in her chin. There was no judgment and no regret in that smile.

I smiled back, feeling as though I could only just now appreciate the beauty of this place. The sun and the flowers and the gilded air, they were suddenly there for me, joyous and merciful. I felt the gift of her mercy, and my stone heart swelled with gratitude.

This series has gotten less romantic with time.

Jan 26, 2019


A while ago I stumbled across a Twilight porn parody and it begun with this scene. First it was just a recreation of the scene from the movie and then Eddie unzips his pants and says with tortured face that even his penis is sparkling. Bella goes :O and says "Wow, it's so big!!" and Edward growls "The cock of a killer!"

At the time I thought it was really funny, now I realise it's just Breaking Dawn.

chitoryu12 posted:

Does he imagine himself doing these as stage monologues?
I really wish the filmmakers embraced all the melodrama. Punctuate each dramatic revelation with a strike of lightning, have the actors shout, snarl or mumble every line exactly how it's in the book, use sad violin tracks for all the angst. I'd watch the poo poo out of that.

Sep 21, 2010

To be entirely fair, Edward is a serial killer

May 31, 2011

The reason Edward says he's never seen Bella sleep so deeply I assume is because she took gasp allergy pills to sleep before the big date

Apr 23, 2014

Apr 23, 2014


The relief, the confusion of joy and guilt, suddenly reminded me of the day I’d come home, so many decades ago.

And we are right into another flashback!


I hadn’t been ready then, either. I’d planned to wait. I wanted my eyes to be golden again before Carlisle saw me. But they were still a strange orange, an amber that tended more toward red. I was having difficulty adapting to my former diet. It had never been so hard before. I was afraid that if I didn’t have Carlisle’s help, I wouldn’t be able to keep going. That I would fall back into my old ways.

It worried me, having that evidence so clear in my eyes. I wondered what was the worst reception I could expect? Would he just send me away? Would he find it difficult to look at me, to see what a disappointment I had become? Was there a penance he would demand? I would do it, whatever he asked. Would my efforts to improve move him at all, or would he just see my failure?

One could only hope.


It was simple enough to find them; they hadn’t moved far from the place I’d left them. Maybe to make it easier for me to return?

Their house was the only one in this high, wild spot. The winter sun was glinting off the windows as I approached from below, so I couldn’t tell if anyone was home. Rather than take the shorter route through the trees, I paced toward them through an empty field, blanketed in snow, where—even bundled up against the sun’s glare—I would be easy to spot. I moved slowly. I didn’t want to run. It might alarm them.

It was Esme who saw me first.

“Edward!” I heard her cry, though I was still a mile out.

In less than a second I saw her figure dart through a side door, racing through the rocks surrounding the mountain ledge and stirring up a thick cloud of snow crystals behind her.

Edward! He’s come home!

It was not the mindset I’d been expecting. But then, she hadn’t seen my eyes clearly.

And of course, vampire super speed means what's intended to be a dramatic and poignant scene of reunion immediately dissolves into comedy because Esme turns into a rocket-propelled snowplow.


Edward? Can it be?

My father was following close behind her now, catching up with his longer stride.

There was nothing but a desperate hope in his thoughts. No judgment. Not yet.

“Edward!” Esme shouted with an unmistakable ring of joy in her voice.

And then she was upon me, her arms wrapped tight around my neck, her lips kissing my cheek over and over again. Please don’t go away again.

Only a second later, Carlisle’s arms encircled us both.

Thank you, he thought, his mind fervent with sincerity. Thank you for coming back to us.

“Carlisle… Esme… I’m so sorry. I’m so—”

“Shush, now,” Esme whispered, tucking her head against my neck and breathing in my scent. My boy.

You are 26 he is 17 he has been a vampire longer than you


I looked up into Carlisle’s face, leaving my eyes open wide. Hiding nothing.

You’re here. Carlisle stared back at my face with only happiness in his mind. Though he had to know what the color of my eyes meant, there was no off note to his delight. There’s nothing to apologize for.

Except all the dead people?


Slowly, hardly able to trust that it could be so simple, I raised my arms and returned my family’s embrace.

I felt that same undeserved acceptance now, and I could barely believe that all of it—my bad behavior, both voluntary and involuntary—was suddenly behind us. But her forgiveness seemed to wash the darkness away.

“So where were we, before I behaved so rudely?” I remembered where I had been. Just inches from her parted lips. Enraptured by the mystery of her mind.

Oh, that's the end of the flashback! We're already done!


She blinked twice. “I honestly can’t remember.”

That was understandable. I breathed in fire and blew it back out, wishing it would do some actual damage to me.

“I think we were talking about why you were afraid, besides the obvious reason.” The obvious fear had probably driven the other out of her mind completely.

But she smiled and looked down at my hand again. “Oh, right.”

Nothing more.

“Well?” I prompted.

Rather than meet my gaze, she started tracing patterns across my palm. I tried to read their sequences, hoping for a picture or even letters—E-D-W-A-R-D-P-L-E-A-S-E-G-O-A-W-A-Y—but I could find no meaning in them. Just more mysteries. Another question she would never answer. I didn’t deserve answers.

I sighed. “How easily frustrated I am.”

The reason I posted that artwork without context before was because there is poo poo in this book that is so loving batshit dumb that there's no way any of you would guess what it meant.


She looked up then, her eyes probing mine. We stared at each other for a few seconds, and I was surprised at the intensity of her gaze. I felt that she was reading me more successfully than I was ever able to read her.

“I was afraid,” she began, and I realized gratefully that she was answering my question after all. “Because… for, well, obvious reasons, I can’t stay with you.” Her eyes dropped again as she said the word stay. I understood her clearly, for once. I could hear that when she said stay, she didn’t mean for this moment in the sunshine, for the afternoon or the week. She meant it the way I wanted to say it to her. Stay always. Stay forever. “And I’m afraid that I’d like to stay with you, much more than I should.”

I thought of all that would entail if, after all, I forced her to do exactly as she described. If I made her stay forever. Every sacrifice she would bear, every loss she would mourn, every stinging regret, every aching, tearless stare.

It's, uh, real curious that you use the word "force" there!


“Yes.” It was hard to agree with her, even with all that pain fresh in my imagination. I wanted it so much. “That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me.” Selfish me. “That’s really not in your best interest.”

She scowled at my hand as if she didn’t like my acknowledgment any more than I did. This was a dangerous path to even hint at.

Hades and his pomegranate. How many toxic seeds had I already infected her with? Enough that Alice had seen her pale and grieving in my absence. Though it felt as though I, also, had been corrupted. Hooked. Addicted with no hope of recovery. I couldn’t fully form the picture in my head. Leaving her. How would I survive? Alice had shown me Bella’s anguish in my absence, but what would she see of me in that version of the future, if she looked? I couldn’t believe I would be anything more than a broken shadow, useless, crumpled, empty.

We're now at multiple pomegranate references per chapter.


I spoke the thought aloud, but mostly to myself. “I should have left long ago. I should leave now. But I don’t know if I can.”

She still stared at our hands, but her cheeks warmed. “I don’t want you to leave,” she mumbled.

She wanted me to stay with her. I tried to fight the happiness, the surrender it pulled me toward. Was the choice even mine, or was it hers alone now? Would I stay until she told me to go? Her words seemed to echo in the faint breeze. I don’t want you to leave.

“Which is exactly why I should.” Surely the more time we were together, the harder it would grow to be apart. “But don’t worry. I’m essentially a selfish creature. I crave your company too much to do what I should.”

Giving us insight into Edward's mind only makes him seem more deranged.


“I’m glad.” She said the words simply, as if this was an obvious thing. As if every girl would be pleased that her favorite monster was too selfish to put her before himself.

My temper flared, anger pointed only at myself. With rigid control, I removed my hand from hers.

“Don’t be! 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.”

I mean, I guess it's better that all of his mood swing tantrums were directed at himself rather than her, but that still doesn't mean he's not having them and that he's not flipping his lid every few sentences!


She looked at me quizzically. There was no fear anywhere in her eyes now. Her head cocked slightly to the left.

“I don’t think I understand exactly what you mean—by that last part anyway,” she said, her tone analytical. It reminded me of our conversation in the cafeteria, when she had asked about hunting. She sounded as if she were gathering data for a report—one she was vitally interested in, but still, no more than an academic inquiry.

I couldn’t help but smile at her expression. My anger vanished as quickly as it had come. Why waste time with ire when there were so many more pleasant emotions available?


“How do I explain?” I murmured. Naturally she had no idea what I was talking about. I had not been terribly specific when it came to my reaction to her scent. Of course I hadn’t; it was an ugly thing, something I was deeply ashamed of. Not to mention the overt horror of the subject. How to explain, indeed. “And without frightening you again… hmmmm.”

Her fingers uncurled, stretching toward my own. And I couldn’t resist. I placed my hand gently back inside hers. The willingness of her touch, the eager way she wrapped her fingers tightly around mine, helped to calm my nerves. I knew I was about to tell her everything—I could feel the truth churning inside me, ready to erupt. But I had no idea how she would process it, even as generous as she always was toward me. I savored this moment of her acceptance, knowing it could end abruptly.

"Probably because I would suddenly get mad again and start punching a tree and yelling."


I sighed. “That’s amazingly pleasant, the warmth.”

She smiled and looked down at our hands, too, fascination in her eyes.

There was no help for it. I was going to have to be obscenely graphic. Dancing around the facts would only confuse her, and she needed to know this. I took a deep breath.

“You know how everyone enjoys different flavors? Some people love chocolate ice cream, others prefer strawberry?”

Ugh. It sounded worse out loud than I would have thought for such a weak beginning. Bella nodded in what looked like polite agreement, but otherwise her expression was smooth. Perhaps it would take a minute to sink in.

A foolproof way to get around criticism of your dialogue: write the scene again but have the characters criticize it themselves so it looks like you made them dumb on purpose!


“Sorry about the food analogy,” I apologized. “I couldn’t think of another way to explain.”

She grinned—a smile with real humor and affinity; the dimple sprang into existence. Her grin made me feel as though we were in this ludicrous situation together, not as opponents but as partners, working side by side to find a solution. I couldn’t think of anything I would wish for more—besides, of course, the impossible. That I could be human, too. I grinned back at her, but I knew my smile was neither as genuine nor as guiltless as hers.

Her hands tightened around mine, prompting me to continue.

I spoke the words slowly, trying to use the best analogy possible, knowing even as I did that I was failing. “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?”

Was I painting too sympathetic a picture of myself? Describing a tragic victim rather than a true villain?

This guy thinks of himself as Shakespeare when he should really be putting on a fedora.


She stared into my eyes, and while I automatically tried to hear her internal reaction, I got the feeling that she was trying to read mine as well.

I thought through my words and wondered whether the analogy was strong enough.

“Maybe that’s not the right comparison.” I mused. “Maybe it would be too easy to turn down the brandy. Perhaps I should have made our alcoholic a heroin addict instead.”

She smiled, not as widely as before, but with a cheeky twist to her pursed lips. “So what you’re saying is, I’m your brand of heroin?”

I almost laughed with surprise. She was doing what I was always trying to do—make a joke, lighten the mood, deescalate—only she was successful.

I thought that was your thing?


“Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin.”

It was surely a horrific admission, and yet, somehow, I felt relief. It was all her doing, her support and understanding. It made my head spin that she could somehow forgive all of this. How?

But she was back to researcher mode.

“Does that happen often?” she asked, her head tilting curiously to one side.

Even with my unique ability to hear thought, it was hard to make exact comparisons. I didn’t truly feel the sensations of the person I listened to; I only knew their thoughts about those feelings.

How I interpreted thirst wasn’t even exactly the way the rest of my family did. To me, the thirst was a fire burning. Jasper described it as a burning, too, but to him it was like acid rather than flame, chemical and saturating. Rosalie thought of it as profound dryness, a screaming lack rather than an outside force. Emmett tended to evaluate his thirst in the same way; I supposed that was natural, as Rosalie had been the first and most frequent influence in his second life.

Emmett is so casual that his wife tells him what being a vampire is like and he goes "Yeah, I guess!"


So I knew of the times the others had had difficulty resisting, and when they had not been able to resist, but I couldn’t know exactly how potent their temptation had been. I could make an educated guess, however, based on their standard level of control. It was an imperfect technique, but I thought it should answer her curiosity.

This was more horror. I couldn’t look her in the eye while I answered. I stared at the sun instead as it slipped closer to the edge of the trees. Every second gone hurt me more than they ever had—seconds I could never have with her again. I wished we didn’t need to spend these precious seconds on something so distasteful.

Sounds pretty tasteful to you!


“I spoke to my brothers about it.… 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—” I flinched, realizing too late where my rambling had taken me. “Sorry,” I added quickly.

She gave an exasperated little huff. “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.”

I tried to settle myself. I needed to accept that through some miracle, Bella was able to know the darkest things about me and not be terror-stricken. Able not to hate me for it. If she was strong enough to hear this, I needed to be strong enough to speak the words. I looked back at the sun, feeling the deadline in its slow descent.

“So…,” I began again slowly, “Jasper wasn’t sure if he’d ever come across someone who was as… 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.”

I finally met her gaze. Her eyes were narrowed just slightly, her focus intent. “And for you?” she asked.

That was an easy answer, with no guesswork needed. “Never.”

She seemed to consider that word for a long moment. I wished I knew what it meant to her. Then her face relaxed a bit.

I also don't know what it meant to her, because Bella's narration doesn't tell us.


“What did Emmett do?” she asked in a conversational tone.

As if this were just some storybook fairy tale I was sharing with her, as if good always won the day and—though the road might get dark at points—nothing truly evil or permanently cruel was allowed to happen.

Isn't that how Bella's plot goes, though?


How could I tell her about these two innocent victims? Humans with hopes and fears, people with families and friends who loved them, imperfect beings who deserved the chance to improve, to try. A man and a woman with names now inscribed on simple headstones in obscure graveyards.

Would she think better or worse of us if she knew that Carlisle had required our attendance at their funerals? Not just these two, but every victim of our mistakes and lapses. Were we a tiny bit less damned because we had listened to those who knew them best describe their shortened lives? Because we bore witness to the tears and cries of pain? The monetary aid we’d anonymously provided to make sure there was no unnecessary physical suffering seemed crass in retrospect. Such a weak recompense.

Widow: "I don't recognize you. How did you know my husband?"

Emmett: "Deliciously."

Rosalie: *jabs him in the ribs*


She gave up waiting for an answer. “I guess I know.”

Her expression was mournful now. Did she condemn Emmett while she gave me so much mercy? His crimes, though much greater than two, were less in total than mine. It pained me that she would think badly of him. Was this—the specificity of two victims—the offense she would balk at?

Edward's first thought is that he must be so special that Bella will hate everyone but him for eating people. Little does he know she just doesn't give a poo poo.


“Even the strongest of us fall off the wagon, don’t we?” I asked weakly.

Could this be forgiven, too?

Perhaps not.

She winced, flinching away from me. No more than an inch, but it felt like a yard. Her lips pulled into a frown.

“What are you asking? My permission?” The hard edge in her voice sounded like sarcasm.

So here was her limit. I’d thought she’d been extraordinarily kind and merciful, too forgiving, in truth. But actually, she’d simply underestimated my depravity. She must have thought that, for all my warnings, I’d only ever been tempted. That I’d always made the better choice, as I had in Port Angeles, driving away from bloodshed.

Oh believe me, she has no limits. By next year she'll be happily loaning her car to random nomads so they don't have to walk to kill anyone.


I’d told her that same night how, despite our best efforts, my family made mistakes. Had she not realized that I’d been confessing to murder? No wonder she accepted things so easily; she thought I was always strong, that I only had near misses on my conscience. Well, it wasn’t her fault. I’d never explicitly admitted to killing anyone. I’d never given her the body count.

Her expression softened while I spiraled. I tried to think of how to say goodbye in such a way that she would know how much I loved her, but not feel threatened by that love.

“I mean,” she explained suddenly, no edge in her tone, “is there no hope, then?”

In a fraction of a second I replayed our last exchange in my head, and realized how I’d misinterpreted her reaction. When I had begged pardon for past sins, she’d thought I was excusing a future, but imminent, crime. That I meant to—

I mean, you kinda have been threatening that this could happen for this entire conversation.


“No, no!” I had to fight to slow my words down to human speed—I was in such a hurry to have her hear them. “Of course there’s hope! I mean, of course I won’t—”

Kill you. I couldn’t finish the sentence. Those words were agony to me, imagining her gone. My eyes bored into hers, trying to communicate everything I couldn’t say. “It’s different for us,” I promised. “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.”

She sifted through my words, heard the parts I hadn’t said.

“So if we’d met…” She paused, searching for the right scenario. “Oh, in a dark alley or something…?”

Ah, here was a bitter truth.

“It took everything I had not to jump up in the middle of that class full of children and—”

Kill you. My eyes fell from hers. So much shame.

Still, I couldn’t leave her any flattering illusions about me.

Have you even had any?


“When you walked past me,” I admitted, “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.”

I could see the classroom so clearly in my mind. Perfect recall was more a curse than a gift. Did I need to remember with such precision every second of that hour? The fear that had dilated her eyes, the reflection of my monstrous countenance in them? The way her scent had destroyed every good thing about me?

Perfect recall, unless it would make the plot more difficult!


Her expression was far away. Maybe she was remembering, too.

“You must have thought I was possessed.”

She didn’t deny it.

“I couldn’t understand why,” she said in a fragile voice. “How you could hate me so quickly…”

She’d intuited the truth in that moment. She’d understood correctly that I had hated her. Almost as much as I’d desired her.

“To me, it was like you were some kind of demon, summoned straight from my own personal hell to ruin me.” It was painful to relive the emotion of it, to remember seeing her as prey. “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.… You would have come.”

What must it be like for her to know this? How did she align the opposing facts? Me, would-be murderer, and me, would-be lover? What did she think of my confidence, my certainty that she would have followed the murderer?



Her chin lifted a centimeter. “Without a doubt,” she agreed.

Our hands were still carefully intertwined. Hers were nearly as still as mine, aside from the blood pulsing through them. I wondered if she felt the same fear that I did—the fear that they might have to come apart, and she wouldn’t be able to find the courage and forgiveness necessary to bring them together again.

It was a little easier to confess when I wasn’t looking into her eyes.

“And then,” I continued, “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 felt the shiver move down her arms to her hands. With every new attempt to explain, I found myself using more and more distressing words. They were the right words, the truthful words, and they were also so ugly.

There was no stopping them now, though, and she sat silent and nearly motionless as they gushed out of me, more confessions mixed up in explanations. I told her about my unsuccessful attempt to run away, and the arrogance that brought me back; how that arrogance had shaped our interactions, and how the frustration of her hidden thoughts had tormented me; how her scent had never stopped being both torture and temptation. My family wove in and out of the story and I wondered whether she could see how they influenced my actions at every turn. I told her how saving her from Tyler’s van had changed my perspective, had forced me to see that she was more to me than just a risk and an irritant.

Why couldn't you have summarized the dialogue we already read at more opportunities than just this, Meyer?


“In the hospital?” she prompted when my words ran out. She studied my face with compassion, with eager, nonjudgmental desire for the next chapter. I was no longer shocked by her benevolence, but it would always be miraculous to me.

I explained my misgivings, not for saving her, but for exposing myself and consequently my family, so that she would understand my harshness that day in the empty corridor. This led naturally into my family’s varied reactions, and I wondered what she thought of the fact that some of them had wanted to silence her in the most permanent way possible. She didn’t shiver now, or betray any fear. How strange it must be for her, to learn the whole story, the dark now woven through the light she’d known.

I told her how I’d tried to feign total indifference to her after that, to protect us all, and how unsuccessful I’d been.

I wondered privately, not for the first time, where I would be now if I had not acted so instinctively that day in the school parking lot. If—as I’d just grotesquely described to her—I had stood by and let her die in a car accident, then revealed myself to the human witnesses in the most monstrous way possible. My family would have had to flee Forks immediately. I imagined their reactions to that version of events would have been… mostly the opposite. Rosalie and Jasper would not have been angry. A trifle smug, perhaps, but understanding. Carlisle would have been deeply disappointed, but still forgiving. Would Alice have mourned the friend she’d never gotten to meet? Only Esme and Emmett would have reacted in a manner nearly identical to their first reactions: Esme with concern for my well-being, Emmett with a shrug.

Alice probably never would have forgiven Edward if he not only let her future BFF get gruesomely smashed between two cars, but immediately descended on the corpse like a ravenous ghoul.


I knew that I would have had some small inkling of the disaster that had befallen me. Even that early, after just a few words exchanged, my fascination with her was strong. But could I have guessed the vastness of the tragedy? I thought not. I would have ached, certainly, and then gone about my empty half life never realizing how very much I had lost. Never knowing actual happiness.

It would have been easier to lose her then, I knew. Just as I would never have known joy, I wouldn’t have suffered the depths of pain I now knew to exist.

I contemplated her kind, sweet face, so dear to me now, so much the center of my world. The only thing I wanted to look at for the rest of time.

She gazed back, the same wonder in her eyes.

This chapter is so gigantic, I have to split it into three parts!


Apr 23, 2014


“And for all that,” I concluded my long confession, “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.”

Her eyes widened, not in fear or surprise. Fascination. “Why?” she asked.

This explanation would be as difficult as any of the others, with many words I hated to say, but there were also words I very much wanted to speak to her.

“Isabella… Bella.” It was a pleasure just to say her name. It felt like a kind of avowal. This is the name to which I belong.

Would you say you are....sealed?


I carefully loosed one hand and stroked her soft hair, warm from the sun. The joy of the simple touch, the knowledge that I was free to reach out to her this way, was overwhelming. I grasped her hands again.

“I couldn’t live with myself if I ever hurt you. You don’t know how it’s tortured me.” I hated to look away from her sympathetic expression, but it was too hard to see her other face, the one from Alice’s vision, in the same frame. “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.” That word did nothing to convey the anguish behind the thought. But I was through the ugly part now, and I could say the things I’d wanted to tell her for so long. I met her eyes again, rejoicing in this confession. “You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever.”

Nope, doesn't seem any more authentic from his side than hers.


Just as the word unendurable was not enough, so were these words weak echoes of the feelings they tried to describe. I hoped she could see in my eyes exactly how inadequate they were. She was always better at knowing my mind than I was at reading hers.

She held my exultant gaze for just a moment, pink creeping into her cheeks, but then her eyes fell to our hands. I thrilled to the beauty of her complexion, seeing only the loveliness and nothing else.

“You already know how I feel, of course,” she said, her voice not much louder than a whisper. “I’m here… which, roughly translated, means I would rather die than stay away from you.”

I wouldn’t have thought it possible to feel such euphoria and such regret at the same time. She wanted me—bliss. She was risking her very life for me—unacceptable.

It's a bit telling that this girl is saying she'd die for him after knowing him for such a short period of time and he's enjoying it instead of being concerned for her mental health!


She scowled, her eyes still lowered. “I’m an idiot.”

I laughed at her conclusion. From a certain angle, she had a point. Any species that ran so headlong into the arms of its most dangerous predator wouldn’t survive long. It was a good thing she was an outlier.

“You are an idiot,” I teased gently. And I would never stop being grateful for it.

Bella glanced up with a puckish grin, and we both laughed together. It was such a relief to laugh after my grueling revelations that my laugh shifted from humor to sheer joy. I was sure she felt the same. We were utterly in sync for one perfect moment.

Though it was impossible, we belonged together. Everything was wrong with this picture—a killer and an innocent leaning close, each basking in the presence of the other, totally at peace. It was as if we’d somehow ascended to a better world, where such impossibilities could exist.

I was suddenly reminded of a painting I’d seen many years ago.

You mean you were reminded of



Whenever we canvassed the countryside for likely towns in which to settle, Carlisle would frequently make side trips to duck into old parish churches. He seemed unable to stop himself. Something about the simple wooden structures, usually dark for lack of good windows, the floorboards and pew backs all worn smooth and smelling of layer upon layer of human touches, brought him a reflective kind of calm. Thoughts of his father and his childhood were brought to the fore, but the violent end seemed far away in those moments. He remembered only pleasant things.

On one such diversion, we found an old Quaker meetinghouse around thirty miles north of Philadelphia. It was a small building, no bigger than a farmhouse, with a stone exterior and a very Spartan arrangement inside. So plain were the knotty floors and straight-backed pews that I was almost shocked to see an adornment on the far wall. Carlisle’s interest was piqued as well, and we both examined it.

It was quite a small painting, no more than fifteen inches square. I guessed that it was older than the stone church that housed it. The artist was clearly untrained, his style amateurish. And yet, there was something in the simple, poorly wrought image that managed to convey an emotion. There was a warm vulnerability to the animals depicted, an aching kind of tenderness. I was strangely moved by this kinder universe the artist had envisioned.

A better world, Carlisle had thought to himself.

Yep, here it is.


The sort of world where this present moment could exist, I thought now, and felt that aching tenderness again.

“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…,” I whispered.

It wasn't just Edward being overdramatic. He was joking about a painting.


Her eyes were so open and accessible for one second, and then she flushed again and looked down. She steadied her breath for a moment, and her impish smile returned.

“What a stupid lamb,” she teased, stretching out the joke.

“What a sick, masochistic lion,” I countered.

I wasn’t sure that was a true statement, though. In one light, yes, I was deliberately causing myself unnecessary pain and enjoying it, the textbook definition of masochism. But the pain was the price… and the reward was so much more than the pain. Really, the price was negligible. I would pay it ten times over.

Isn't the price also the possibility of you killing her? Or is this supposed to be the moment that urge ends?


“Why…?” she murmured, hesitant.

I smiled at her, eager to know her mind. “Yes?”

A hint of the forehead crease began to form. “Tell me why you ran from me before.”

Her words hit me physically, lodging in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t understand why she would want to rehash a moment so loathsome.

“You know why.”

She shook her head, and her brows pulled down. “No, I mean, exactly what did I do wrong?” She spoke intently, serious now. “I’ll have to be on my guard, you see, so I better start learning what I shouldn’t do. This, for example”—she stroked her fingertips slowly up the back of my hand to my wrist, leaving a trail of painless fire—“seems to be all right.”

How like her to take the responsibility on herself.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Bella. It was my fault.”

Her chin lifted. It would have implied stubbornness if her eyes were not so pleading.

“But I want to help, if I can, to not make this harder for you.”

My first instinct was to continue insisting that this was my problem and not something for her to worry about. Yet I knew that she was simply trying to understand me, with all my strange and monstrous quirks. She would be happier if I just answered her question as clearly as possible.

Yes, that is how people communicate.

Seriously, we're supposed to believe that Edward being a vampire means he's lost his sense of how to interact with humans but none of the other Cullens are this awkward and stupid.


How to explain bloodlust, though? So shameful.

“Well… 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—”

How do you smell a throat?


I broke off, hoping I had not disgusted her.

Her mouth was pursed as if fighting off a smile.

“Okay, then, no throat exposure.” She made a show of tucking her chin against her right collarbone.

It was clearly her intention to ease my anxiety, and it worked. I had to laugh at her expression.

“No, really,” I reassured her. “It was more the surprise than anything else.”

I lifted my hand again and rested it lightly against her neck, feeling the incredible softness of her skin there, the warm give of it. My thumb grazed her jawline. The electric pulse that only she could awaken started to thrum through my body.

“You see,” I whispered. “Perfectly fine.”

Her pulse began to race as well. I could feel it under my hand and hear her galloping heart. Pink flooded her face from her chin to her hairline. The sound and sight of her response, rather than awakening my thirst again, seemed only to speed the rush of my more human reactions. I couldn’t remember ever feeling this alive; I doubted I ever had, even when I’d been alive.

Has Edward canonically not even had a boner?


“The blush on your cheeks is lovely,” I murmured.

I gently extracted my left hand from hers, and arranged it so that I was cradling her face between my palms. Her pupils dilated and her heartbeat increased.

I wanted so much to kiss her then. Her soft, curving lips, ever so slightly parted, mesmerized me and drew me forward. But, though these new human emotions now seemed so much stronger than anything else, I didn’t fully trust myself. I knew I needed one more test. I thought I’d passed through Alice’s knot, but still felt something was lacking. I realized now what more I had to do.

One thing I’d always avoided, never let my mind explore.

"I learned this from a man who calls himself Louis CK..."


“Be very still,” I warned her. Her breath hitched.

Slowly, I leaned close, watching her expression for any hint that this was unwelcome to her. I found none.

Finally, I let my head dip forward, and turned it to lean my cheek against the base of her throat. The heat of her warm-blooded life pulsed through her fragile skin and into the cold stone of my body. That pulse leaped beneath my touch. I kept my breathing steady as a machine, in and out, controlled. I waited, judging every minuscule happening inside my body. Perhaps I waited longer than necessary, but it was a very pleasant place to linger.

When I felt sure that no trap waited for me here, I proceeded.

Cautiously I readjusted, using slow, steady movements so that nothing would surprise or frighten her. As my hands drifted from her jaw to the points of her shoulders, she shivered, and for a moment I lost my careful hold on my breathing. I recovered, settling myself again, and then moved my head so that my ear was directly over her heart.

The sound of it, loud before, seemed to surround me in stereo now. The earth beneath me didn’t seem quite as steady, as if it rocked faintly to the beat of her heart.

The sigh escaped against my will. “Ah.”

As I back myself against a wall in terror.


I wished I could stay like this forever, immersed in the sound of her heart and warmed by her skin. It was time for the final test, though, and I wanted it behind me.

For the first time, as I breathed in the sear of her scent, I let myself imagine it. Rather than blocking my thoughts, cutting them off and forcing them deep down, out of my conscious mind, I allowed them to range unfettered. They did not go willingly, not now. But I forced myself to go where I had always avoided.

I imagined tasting her… draining her.

Is this some sort of reckless immersion therapy?


I’d had enough experience to know what the relief would feel like, if I were to utterly quench my most bestial need. Her blood had so much more pull for me than any other human’s I’d encountered—I could only assume that the relief and pleasure would be that much more intense.

Her blood would soothe my aching throat, erasing all the months of fire. It would feel as if I had never burned for her; the alleviation of pain would be total.

The sweetness of her blood on my tongue was harder to imagine. I knew I had never experienced any blood so perfectly matched to my desire, but I was sure it would satisfy every craving I had ever known.

For the first time in three quarters of a century—the span I had survived without human blood—I would be totally sated. My body would feel strong and whole. It would be many weeks before I thirsted again.

I played the sequence of events through to the end, surprised, even as I let these taboo imaginings loose, at how little they appealed to me now. Even withholding the inevitable sequel—the return of the thirst, the emptiness of the world without her—I felt no desire to act on my imaginings.

I also saw very clearly in that moment that there was no separate monster and never had been one. Eager to disconnect my mind from my desires, I had—as was my habit—personified that hated part of myself to distance it from the parts that I considered me. Just as I had created the harpy to give myself someone to fight. It was a coping mechanism, and not a very good one. Better to see myself as the whole, bad and good, and work with the reality of it.

And all it took was some meditation!


My breathing continued steadily, the bite of her scent a welcome counterpoint to the glut of other physical sensations that overwhelmed me as I held her.

I thought I understood a little better what had happened to me before, in the violent reaction that had terrified us both. I had been so convinced that I might be overwhelmed, that when I actually was overwhelmed, it was almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. My anxiety, the agonizing visions I’d obsessed over, plus the months of self-doubt that had shaken my former confidence all combined to weaken the determination that I now knew was absolutely up to the job of protecting Bella.

Even Alice’s nightmare vision was suddenly less vibrant, the colors leaching away. Its power to shake me was ebbing, because, and this was obvious now, that future was entirely impossible. Bella and I would leave this place hand in hand, and my life would finally begin.

We were through the knot.

Lindsay Ellis has permanently ruined this word for me.


I had no doubt that Alice saw this, too, and that she was rejoicing.

Though I was exceptionally comfortable in my current position, I was also eager for the rest of my life to unfold.

I leaned away from her, letting my hands trace along the length of her arms as they dropped to my side, full of simple happiness to just see her face again.

She looked at me curiously, unaware of the momentous occurrences inside my head.

“It won’t be so hard again,” I promised, though I realized as I spoke that my words probably made little sense to her.

“Was that very hard for you?” she asked with sympathetic eyes.

If you're wondering why this book is so hard to do, the distance between his sigh and this dialogue in the original book was slightly more than one paragraph.


Her concern warmed me to the core.

“Not nearly as bad as I imagined it would be. And you?”

She gave me one disbelieving glance. “No, it wasn’t bad… for me.”

She made it look so easy, being embraced by a vampire. But it must take more courage than she let on. “You know what I mean.”

This comes off less erotic and more pathetic than the original now.


She smiled a wide, warm, lopsidedly dimpled grin. It was clear that if it did take any effort to bear my nearness, she would never admit to it.

Giddy. That was the only word I could think of to describe the high I was experiencing. It wasn’t a word I often thought of in relation to myself. Every thought in my head wanted to spill out through my lips. I wanted to hear every thought in hers. That, at least, was nothing new. Everything else was new. Everything had changed.

I reached for her hand—without first exhaustively debating the act in my mind—simply because I wanted to feel it against my skin. I felt free to be spontaneous for the first time. These new impulses were completely unrelated to the old.

“Here.” I placed her palm against my cheek. “Do you feel how warm it is?”

Her reaction to this first instinctive act of mine was more than I’d expected. Her fingers trembled against my cheekbone. Her eyes grew round and the smile slipped away. Her heartbeat and her breathing accelerated.

Here's something I've been noticing with Bella: in the older parts of the book, where she doesn't yet have a romance going on, she's a lot better of a character than her original form. She's her own person, stubborn but caring, constantly stepping in to help people she barely knows. As soon as the romance with Edward is supposed to trigger, it just ends right there. She instantly becomes a weak-kneed nymph who's abandoned everything else for a lethally obsessive crush on a weird vampire she doesn't even know well. It's like she's been doped with a love potion between chapters.

While Meyer meant to flesh out her first book with Midnight Sun, it's actually making it seem less authentic. It brings into stark focus how abrupt and contrived the romance actually is.


Before I could regret the deed, she leaned closer and whispered, “Don’t move.”

A thrill shivered through me.

Her request was easily accomplished. I froze myself into the absolute stillness that humans were incapable of duplicating. I didn’t know what she intended—acclimating herself to my lack of a circulatory system seemed unlikely—but was eager to find out. I closed my eyes. I wasn’t sure whether I did this to free her from the self-consciousness of my scrutiny, or because I wanted no distractions from this moment.

It would have been so loving funny if it really was her just getting used to him being a marble statue.


Her hand began to move very slowly. First she stroked my cheek. Her fingertips grazed across my closed eyelids, and then brushed a half circle beneath them. Where her skin met mine, it left a trail of tingling heat. She traced the length of my nose and then, with the trembling in her fingers more pronounced now, the shape of my lips.

My frozen form melted. I let my mouth fall slightly open, so that I could breathe in the nearness of her.

One finger caressed my bottom lip again, and then her hand fell away. I felt the air cool between us as she leaned back.

I opened my eyes and met her gaze. Her face was flushed, her heart still raced. I felt a phantom echo of the pace inside my own body, though no blood pushed it.

Okay, I hate that I have to think this.

If he has no blood in his body, was it a boner produced by venom in Breaking Dawn? If so, why does it only work for that?


I wanted… so many things. Things I had not felt any need for in my entire immortal life before I met her. Things I was sure I had not wanted before I was immortal, either. And I felt that some of them, things I’d always thought impossible, might, in fact, be very possible.

But while I felt comfortable with her now as far as my thirst was concerned, I was still too strong. So much stronger than she was, every limb of my body unyielding as steel. I must always think of her fragility. It would take time to learn exactly how to move around her.

She stared at me, waiting, wondering what I thought of her touches.

“I wish… I wish you could feel the… complexity,” I fumbled to explain. “The confusion I feel. That you could understand."

I promise, Bella, you don't want the confusion of reading this.


A tendril of her hair, caught in the breeze, danced in the sun, catching the light with a reddish shine. I reached out to feel the texture of that errant lock between my fingers. And then, because it was so close, I couldn’t resist stroking her face. Her cheek felt like velvet left out in the sun.

Her head tilted into my hand, but her eyes remained intent on my face.

“Tell me,” she breathed. I couldn’t imagine where to even begin.

“I… don’t think I can. I’ve told you, on the one hand, the hunger, the thirst, that”—I gave her an apologetic half smile—“deplorable creature I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent. Though as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can’t empathize completely.… But…”

My fingers seemed to search out her lips of their own accord. I brushed them lightly. Finally. They were softer than I’d imagined. Warmer.

“There are other hungers,” I continued. “Hungers I don’t even understand, that are foreign to me.”

At this point in the thread this just makes me uncomfortable now. I'm exhausted from this so I'm doing another break into 4 parts.

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