May 9, 2010
After this summer, Edward and I plan to go back to school. And to be honest, I’m more excited than I ever imagined I could be about attending boring, repetitive classes.
When you’re human your time is limited. You are only on Earth for a very short time, and as a human you have to sleep for about eight hours a night–so the last thing you want to do with the few short hours you’re awake in a day is sit in class after class listening to the teacher ramble about stuff you know you’re going to forget anyway.
When you’re an immortal, though, it seems as though you can’t find enough to do, enough to keep yourself busy, entertained. After I was changed, I seemed to become more patient by the day. I’m a hunter now, after all. An immortal. Patience is an inevitable quality for the undead.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t get bored. I do. In fact, the boredom is worse now because I have all this strength, power and energy. We could be doing so much more with what we are, but instead, because we are dangerous, not normal, we have to take every precaution possible to be sure no one suspects anything. Instead of using my new strength, I have to hide it. Act human. Alive. We have to fit in. Something that’s much easier said than done.
I’m worried mostly about drowning in my own lies. I can’t lie. I do lie . . . a lot, but I’m bad at it. To the town, Renesmee is known as my little sister. Adopted, like the rest of us, by Mr. and Mrs. Cullen. Charlie is known as my Uncle, and although I’m getting more used to the script and learning my lines for this play we put on daily for the public, I still have an almost unbearable urge to scream the truth about everything to the world.
I want to be able to adore and love my Nudger in public. I don’t want to have to check to make sure it won’t be sunny before I make any plans to venture outside because my skin will sparkle like thousands of embedded diamonds. What am I supposed to say to that? I took a glitter bath?
The hospital Carlisle is working at here in New Hampshire had a spring gala for all the employees and their families. They do four per year; one for every season. It was held inside a ballroom, at night–so we were safe to go. We had to go, for Carlisle. It is thought to be extremely rude not to attend these galas unless, of course, you’re scheduled to work.
Carlisle tried to get out of it by offering to stay at the hospital to work his usual night shift, however because Carlisle is new to the hospital, they insisted he attend. They wanted to get to know him more outside of work. They wanted to meet his family.
Renesmee didn’t come. I explained to Carlisle that I wasn’t ready to be around so many people at once while trying to pretend she was my sister. Jacob stayed back at the house with her. He didn’t want to come anyway, but asked that we bring him back some food.
“Well, on top of me getting some good food, you guys’ll look more human. They’d never suspect you’re a bunch of leec–vampires if you’re all smuggling food out of there.” Jacob grinned and I opened my mouth to say something, but laughed instead.
Charlie stuck in a pair of brown contacts and threw on his best dress up attire and came along. He wanted to see if there would be any single ladies there who he could lure in. I think his new enhanced exterior is getting to his head a little bit. Anytime we’re out in public women tend to gawk at him, their mouths hanging open. Charlie isn’t as awkward and quiet as he used to be, before he was turned. It’s funny watching him interact with Emmett especially. Emmett brings out a whole different side of Charlie that I never knew existed. I like it. Charlie is happy. He’s having fun with what he is.
Once we entered the large ballroom I began to feel more relaxed. The lighting was very dim with spotlights of red, blue and purple dancing over the ice sculptures on either end of the oversize buffet table.
There were literally mountains of food, and I was already dreading having to pretend to eat and enjoy it. Human food tastes like dirt to vampires, but we can pretend to eat it when we have to.
We all hunted before going to the gala, of course, but my throat still burned. There were hundreds of mouth watering humans all gathered in the hall, each one so fragrant, so sweet-smelling. I could almost taste them. My eyes swept from human to human, watching the veins pulse in their throats, the carotid arteries. I counted every pulse:
One…two…three…four. It was somehow lulling.
Each beat seemed louder than the last, scorching my throat deeper and deeper. I felt like someone was holding the barrel of a curling iron down my throat to torture me. I needed fresh air immediately, or something bad was about to happen.
I moved faster than any human could, and I was aware of my unnatural pace, but I didn’t care. I needed to get out, that’s all I knew. I pulled myself away from Edward’s grip and was out the door, deeply inhaling the fresh, crisp air, trying to shake the vision of the pulsing, fragrant necks in the banquet hall.
I felt overridden with guilt for seeing them as nothing more than a meal. They were human beings. People with families, loved ones . . . yet there I was, blinded by the pulsing, the scent, the desire that almost overtook me. I was a monster.
It only took a few short minutes for Edward to calm me down, to melt away the guilt. He placed one long, smooth hand on each one of my cheeks and stared intently into my eyes, that crooked grin creeping up on one side.
“Bella, love, it’s okay. I wouldn’t have let anything happen. You didn’t do anything wrong. You fought your instincts and there’s nothing harder than that, but you did it.” His eyes were liquid gold, his breath icy and sweet.
“Edward . . . I . . . ” I closed my eyes tightly, trying to find the words, the right words to emphasize how sorry I was for ever coming that close to potentially exposing what we are. “I… hunted before and I didn’t feel thirsty– until my eyes locked on their necks, and they were pulsing. There are so many people in there, I just–”
Edward interrupted, his grin now pulled down, his face grave. “Please Bella, don’t apologize for what you are. This is what you are now, what we are. We are hunters. Even though you weren’t thirsty initially, once your eyes locked on their necks, that was it. The hunt was on. You became fixated on it, and that’s why it was hard to look away, to prevent yourself from attacking.”
The door half opened and Alice poked her head out of the small opening, trying not to be too intrusive. “Is everything okay out here?” Her voice was musical, comforting.
“Yeah, except for the fact that the gala was almost turned into a slaughter house.” I wanted to suck the words back in as soon as they left my mouth. I was overreacting.
Alice slipped catlike through the small opening in the door and crouched down next to me on the ground. “Bella, before big events like this I try to always look and see if anything will go wrong. I didn’t see anything to worry about this evening. Of course my visions are subjective. Your birthday is a perfect example of that. You’ll be fine, though. I promise. Are you two coming back inside? The dinner is about to begin.” Alice’s eyes shifted furtively between Edward and I as she stood back up.
“We’ll come back in. Just give me a few more seconds in this fresh air.” I realized my eyes were closed tightly again and I opened them, now squinting, to glance in Alice’s direction, but she was already gone.
I knew I didn’t have a choice. I had to go back inside. This was Carlisle’s night and he doesn’t ask for much, if anything at all, from us. I opened my eyes fully to take in one last look at Edward, those warm golden eyes, then sprung to my feet and was back inside before I had a chance to think about it. Edward was right behind me, his hand wrapped lightly around my waist.
I scanned the room quickly, not actually looking at anyone, and found the table we belonged to. Edward and I sat down, his long fingers now laced through mine. Everyone was already sitting, pretending to eat.
At the exact same time, everyone at our table shot me a knowing glance, almost as though they’d rehearsed it. I bet they did, too. “Way to not make things awkward,” I mumbled under my breath as I loaded my plate up, pretending to look excited about the food.
Dinner went as smoothly as it could have. It felt like a real human family sitting down to eat dinner. It’s not often you see all of the Cullens gathered around a table eating. I actually liked it. We talked and caught up with each other how a regular family would at dinner time. I wished Jake and Renesmee could have been there, but pushed the thought out of my head.
We didn’t forget about Jacob’s request, either. I grabbed three of the takeaway containers they had, and loaded them up. I thought we were going to make a smooth exit, and we almost did, until Carlisle got stopped by one of his colleagues just as we were almost out the door.
The man was taller than Carlisle, with shaggy light brown hair and a very thin frame. He wore small, stylish reading glasses and looked extremely young. His smile was captivating, friendly, and he had a hint of an accent, though barely detectable. He introduced himself to everyone as Joseph, and threw in a quick, “but my patients call me Dr. Cole.”
Dr. Joseph Cole was about to throw Carlisle a curve ball. “I just wanted to stop you before you left and ask if you and your family would all like to participate in the blood drive we’re hosting tomorrow. It’s taking place right in the parking lot. You seem to have a large, healthy family here. Think you could come out? Donate some blood?” Jospeh’s face lit up in anticipation as he scanned all of our expressions. I felt my jaw drop and snapped it back shut, biting my lower lip to keep it from dropping again.
Vampires giving blood? Vampires don’t give blood . . . we take it. But how do you say no to donating blood to people who need it, without coming off as . . . well . . . a bunch of jerks.
They would know we are different, instantly, if they even got close enough to touch us. I could hardly even think of the fact that we would be surrounded by blood . . . do I even need to elaborate on what’s wrong with that? Plus, the drive was being held in the afternoon, outside in the parking lot, and it was supposed to be sunny.
Carlisle was still composed, his face graceful and calm. “I’m sorry but we have a very important previous engagement that we are unable to miss. We would love to participate in the blood drive, really, but won’t be able to attend this one. Please accept my apologies.”
“Well that’s okay. Maybe next time. We try to organize them as often as we can so I’ll let you know when we have our next one.” Joseph nodded his head and smiled, though it didn’t touch his eyes.
“That would be wonderful.” Carlisle’s smile was forced. “Have a great night, Joseph.”
“Thanks, you too. It was nice meeting all of you.” His eyes darted to each of us, then he walked away quickly and joined a large group of people who were lingering, finishing up their drinks and catching up on gossip.
Edward’s face was vacant, and I knew that something was bothering him. He waited until we were back in Carlisle’s car before he said anything, though. Esme was in the front seat, and Charlie was in the back with Edward and I. The others were in their own car.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, Edward’s eyes swept around in every direction. I had never seen him this nervous. He looked out the back window one more time before telling us what was bothering him.
“Dr. Joseph Cole knows I can read minds. He wouldn’t exactly let me into his head. He kept repeating the same thought over and over so that he wouldn’t think of anything else. It was in a different language, too. He kept repeating ‘Zůstaňte v klidu.’” Edward’s eyes were hard now, his skin glowing under the street lights and headlights of passing cars.
“Stay calm. He was saying ‘stay calm’ in Czech.” Carlisle was talking to himself, in deep thought. His lips began to move, but no other words came out.
“Carlisle, he knows what we are.” Edward hissed and I thought I felt my still, lifeless heart jump out of my chest.
To Be Continued…
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