I can’t help but compare my life to the intricately written chapters of a book; chapters written to display the fatal attraction humans will forever have to the forbidden fruit. The attraction we have to the unknown.
Humans like to play with fire sometimes – just to see if they’ll get burned.
I feel my story has ventured through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but one thing that’s stayed consistent – whether I was human, or a vampire – is my irrevocable love for Edward Cullen; my personal miracle. He was once the forbidden fruit, the danger, and now he’s the sweet apple that rests in the palm of my hands; no longer virulent, no longer fatal.
That’s how I see it.
Edward, on the other hand, still struggles with the thick, unrelenting, haunting thought that he’s robbed me of my soul. My purity. The truth is, if my soul was sacrificed for this immortal life, then I robbed myself of it. To live this way, to die in order to be conscience –frozen – forever with Edward, was my choice.
Everything I’ve done, everything I’ve been through, I’d so it all over again to stay with him for eternity, forever. To have Renesmee. To be part of this family; to be a Cullen. I would do it all again.
The sacrifice; it was all worth it.
On Monday March 28th, Edward and I will be heading back to Dartmouth College, like we had planned. I’m worried, but I know I couldn’t hurt anyone. Though it’s my instinct – to hunt, to kill – I know that I couldn’t carry on, for eternity, with the reality that I’d killed someone; taken an innocent human’s life. I did hunt down and kill those criminals who almost robbed Charlie of his life, but I felt that was justified. They were the furthest thing from innocent.
I think about Jasper and how difficult it was for him to resist the sweet–smelling bouquet of human blood back when I had just moved to Forks; how he almost turned me into a snack at the Birthday party that Alice the Cullen’s threw for me. Yet, he attended Forks High School almost every day – except, of course, on those extremely rare days it was actually sunny. He fought his natural instincts to feed on the mass of humans who walked past him or sat near him every day. His face gave away his struggles, yes, but he didn’t kill. He knew he had something good with the Cullens.
I’ve naturally always had more control than Jasper, so I think I’ll be okay. Besides, I’ll have Edward close by. He’s my constant reminder to practice control, to never slip up. If I did, the Volturi wouldn’t waste a second on my destruction. Leaving this world, leaving Edward, Renesmee, Jake, Alice… everyone I love, could never be worth the satiation of my thirst. It’s what I’ve been telling myself since I was turned. Control is the most important thing if I want to be here, with everyone I love, for this forever of ours.
Charlie went to visit Sue just a few days ago. He wanted to go to Forks, to his old white house, to adjust the heating now that the temperatures have dropped even more. We winterized Charlie’s house already, but we hadn’t anticipated such cold weather and only barely left the heat on enough to prevent the plaster and pipes from freezing. He needed to turn it up slightly to accommodate the new plummeting temperatures.
That was his excuse, anyway.
He let us know he would be seeing Sue before he left Forks. Edward already knew. He told me that Sue had been dominating Charlie’s thoughts since he’d last seen her. He missed her. Charlie knew Sue was angry about what he’d become. She felt as though his decision to be turned stole away any chance they had to form a bond, even a friendship. Sue is, after all, the Mother of two wolves, while Charlie is the Father of one vampire Daughter and a Grandfather to a half–human, half–vampire Granddaughter.
Sue’s loyalty will forever be to Harry Clearwater, her late husband. But Sue’s children – Seth and Leah – are part of our family now, regardless of what they are. We’ve done the impossible: found a way to work together with our mortal enemies. There is no reason for Sue to see it differently. And she is warming up.
When Charlie arrived back in New Hampshire he seemed happier, more animated.
“How was your visit to Forks, Dad?” I asked, mirroring his light, contented expression.
His pale face lit up more. “It was great, Bells. I turned the heat up a bit more to keep the place from freezing over.”
“You see Sue?”
“I did. She’s doing well.” His lips pulled up slightly on both sides, traces of a smile breaking through. “She asked me to say ‘hi’ to you all.”
I smiled. “Dad, I think you should spend more time with Sue. It’s just that we’re all coupled up, you know? I have Edward, Jake has Renesmee, Alice has Jasper… you get the point. I–”
Charlie interrupted me. “I do plan on it Bells. Sue’s special to me and I don’t mind taking my time with her. She’s been through a lot, too, and I don’t want to come on too strong. She has every right to be afraid of me right now. She’s human, after all. You might know a little something about the dangers of human/vampire relationships, I’d assume?”
I rolled my eyes, but Charlie was right. Though he admitted that Sue’s blood wasn’t even remotely appealing to him, Charlie was still a threat. Vampires need blood to survive, and that will never change. Our kind have killed so many innocent humans that it’s hard to understand that, with enough control and willpower, we can be compassionate.
“I have a little experience, yes,” I muttered guiltily, glancing back down at the book I was working on. “And as long as you’re happy, Ch Dad. I’ll always feel guilty about you getting in the middle of this crazy world and becoming this” – I pointed my finger back and fourth between Charlie and I – “all for me. For my life.”
“Bells, you know I chose this. I wasn’t going to bury my Daughter. That’s not how life should be; your kids should be the ones to bury you, not the other way around. I chose this.”
I sucked in a breath and nodded. “Just Be happy, Dad. Always.”
He smiled. “I will, I will. You too. Eternity’s a long time to be anything but.”
Edward walked into the room, his sweet scent trickling through my nose. He just got in from outside where he was building a snow fort with Renesemee and Jacob. I looked out the window when they were about half way done and decided it looked more like a snow mansion. One of the perks of super–human speed and strength.
Charlie nodded. “Edward.”
“Nice to see you’re back, Charlie. I hope your time in Forks went well.”
“I’m sure you can hear all about it thanks to your lovely prying abilities,” Charlie joked.
Edward grinned and my eyes froze on his face. I would never get immune to that grin. “I try to stay away from your thoughts, Charlie, but I do catch them unintentionally at times.”
Charlie laughed, a loud booming laugh I didn’t think he was capable of. “It’s you I’m worried about. I must bore you to death with my fishing and sports thoughts. Really though, I like having a son-in-law around who can read people’s intentions. It’s helpful.”
Edward inched a little closer to me then sat down on the arm of my chair and slid his hand around my waist. I arched my back slightly from the contact. Edward still dazzled me; his presence, his beauty, was something I’d never get used to.
“I’m glad you see it that was Mr. Swan,” Edward said in that smooth, velvet voice.
Charlie’s smile retracted as his throat began to burn. “Well, I’ll leave you two be. I have to get some deer into me.” He rubbed his hand over his throat and cringed. “This burning throat is one thing I could do without,” he mumbled to himself as he left the room.
The phone rang just as Charlie reached the kitchen. “I’ll grab it,” he groaned through the fire in his throat.
I could hear a male on the other end. His voice was choked, but it sounded like Phil. “Is Charlie Swan or Isabella Cullen there please?” he asked.
“This is Charlie, how can I help you?”
The man – I was almost certain it was Phil – cleared his throat. “I’m so sorry Mr. Swan. I– she’s… ” then nothing. He broke down, his voice unable to push the words through his lips.
“Who is this?” Charlie asked, his lips a straight line, his body stiff.
“It…It’s… Phil,” he managed to get out, barely.
Edward and I ran into the kitchen. Alice and Jasper were coming down the stairs while Rosalie and Emmett slipped in through the kitchen door. Esme came down from her room where she had been ironing everyone’s clothes. Carlisle rushed down the stairs from his study. I heard the front door open and didn’t need to turn around to know it was Jake and Renesmee.
Alice came to my side, her eyes narrowed in on me. “I’m so sorry Bella.”
“What!?” I shouted, moving myself into the comfort of denial. “What are you sorry about? He hasn’t said anything yet, he can’t get it out.”
I felt something in my stomach twist and I froze.
I felt hallow.
Everyone was looking at me, their mouths turned down, like frowning statues. Edward was holding me tightly around the waist, his expression distraught, his liquid gold eyes saying more than words ever could.
I knew I’d have to deal with losing people I loved. I knew I’d have to say goodbye to every human I knew, every human I met, but I wasn’t ready.
It was too soon.
Charlie stood frozen, the receiver almost crushing in his hand.
I grabbed the phone. “Hello? Phil? It’s Bella. You there still?”
He took a deep breath that quivered through his throat. He sounded like he was gasping for air. “Hi Bella, it’s Phil. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry,” he cried into the receiver.
“WHAT, Phil?” My voice boomed louder than it ever had in my life. My eyes flickered to Renesmee who looked terrified. I mouthed the words ‘I’m sorry’ at her, then lowered my voice. Jake took Renesmee in his arms and she buried her head in his chest.
“Phil, is my Mother okay? Please Phil, please tell me what happened.”
“She’s gone, Bella. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…”
I didn’t hear anything else.
I saw faces, statues. Beautiful statues surrounding me. Their voices sounded like humming; beautiful, peaceful humming. I looked out the window in the kitchen door and saw the icy snow dripping from the branches of the trees. I could see each tiny droplet of ice melt and detach itself from the rest then glide to the ground where it was met by a blanket of sparkly, white snow.
The statues were so beautiful. Everyone looked perfect. Their faces perfectly symmetrical. Their voices like velvet; smooth, soft velvet. One of the statues took the receiver from my hand and it made me mad for a second, then I looked at the most beautiful one, the statue standing next to me – the one with the bronze hair – and my anger dissipated. Just like the snow on the branches, it trickled away.
My eyes darted to the faucet. Water was slowly dripping from the tap.
Why was everything in the distance so clear to me, so vibrant, but everything up close was confusing?
My lips pulled back over my teeth and my hands balled in to fists. From the corner of my eye I saw a girl, she was young and the most beautiful of all the female statues surrounding me. She help hands with a boy; he was different. Something was off about him. I blinked hard and his eyes widened.
He was afraid. Of little ol’ me?
His fear enticed me, though.
I had control.
Things weren’t out of my control because I had control nestled right in the palm of my hand.
He pushed the beautiful statuesque girl behind him, protecting her. I didn’t want to hurt the girl though.
I wanted him…
The statues hummed at me some more. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, though. Too many of them were talking at once and so fast… it wasn’t normal.
My eyes scanned everyone’s face once more then landed again on the boy, the one who seemed different from the rest. I froze in a crouch and let out a malicious hiss. Two hands grabbed me on either side of my cheeks and I was brought face–to–face with the beautiful statue with the bronze hair. I focused just on him. I watched his lips and tried to make out what he was saying. His buttery golden eyes soothed me.
“Bella, it’s okay. We’re all here for you. It’s okay. You’re angry, you’re hurt. This is your first loss and you have the strength to hurt people, so please Bella, stay with me. I love you.”
He paused, then said something through his teeth –that wasn’t directed at me – without removing his eyes from mine. “Jake, take Renesmee and run with her. As fast and as far as you can. GO!”
I heard the door slam. I felt angry. I felt like if I just used my energy, the strength that surged through my body, that I’d feel better. But the statue’s words began to echo through my head: “This is your first loss and you have the strength to hurt people, so please Bella, stay with me. I love you.”
They repeated: “This is your first loss and you have the strength to hurt people, so please Bella, stay with me. I love you.”
Then, just the ending: “I love you.” “I love you.” “I love you.”
My body loosened up. I stood straight up and opened up my fists. I didn’t remove my eyes from Edward’s.
…To Be Continued
EDIT: I have written a novella called, ‘My Darrling.’ (This is not the Willow series I’ve been working on, rather it’s a small side project. The first book in the Willow series will be up in the early portion of this year). For now, I’m so excited for you to check out the novella I’ve written:
You can read a preview and purchase ‘My Darrling’ HERE. I can’t thank you all enough for your endless support, and I promise to run contests to give back as soon as my books get off the ground!
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XO Krystal XO
Seth didn’t stay long. In fact, none of us did. We’re all in Forks right now—except for Carlisle, Esme, and Renesmee. They’re still in New Hampshire. We’ve been here for a while. I was more than excited about Seth’s visit. We all were, but we weren’t overly-enthused about the news he brought with him.
Seth can’t fake that huge, happy grin. I knew almost immediately that he was hiding something. He was worried. His eyes gave it away. They were obscure and overshadowed the innocent smile he was trying to fake. I saw the same dark concern clouding Jake’s eyes, too. His usual sunny face was becoming more of a dark, ebony sky. I was worried, but didn’t want to cross-examine them as soon as they arrived.
I waited for Edward to come home. I figured he would just listen in on Seth and Jacob’s thoughts and tell me what was bothering them if they didn’t speak up themselves. Edward and Jasper returned from hunting about twenty minutes after Seth and Jacob got to New Hampshire, to our over-sized house, fit for a family of thirty. Edward and Jasper were testing out a brand new hunting spot they found, about a twenty minute run north of our usual spot. Apparently it’s more discrete: no trails, and has an ample supply of deer.
Immediately after welcoming Jacob and Seth, Edward’s eyes grew cold, his eyebrows knitting together. I was anticipating this. For once, I was one step ahead of Edward. Now, I just had to wait. Being immortal doesn’t mean I don’t ever get impatient. Believe me, I do. The twenty minutes I had been waiting for Edward seemed . . . well, longer than twenty minutes. I get anxious when I’m worried, uncertain.
“I can’t stay long, unfortunately. I have to get back to La Push. There is something I need to tell all of you, though.” Seth’s eyes lingered on me longer than anyone else. He took in a full breath before continuing. “After you all left Forks, we stopped transforming pretty much right away. Recently, however, we’ve gotten ourselves a little visitor. We haven’t seen the vampire yet, but we’ve caught their scent and have been shape-shifting again. There have been three reported deaths due to ‘animal attacks’ in the past week.” His tone edged towards anger.
‘Animal attacks.’ Those two words brought back vague, yet haunting memories from my human life. When I was like all the others, believing that there really were vicious animals in Forks. That it was animals who killed Charlie’s friend, Waylon Forge. Whoever it is doesn’t seem concerned about the Volturi. If anyone else is killed, the town will become increasingly suspicious of these so-called animal attacks.
Jake kept his eyes fixated on Renesmee. He didn’t want to be apart from her, that much I knew. I didn’t know that he had something to tell me, though—until Edward gave it away. “Jake, are you going to tell her, or should I?” Edward spoke grimly.
“I’d prefer if you told her. I’m not good at this kind of thing. You have more experience than I do.” Jacob’s expression was submissive.
My eyes flickered nervously between Edward and Jacob, my patience tapering off with each passing second. “Will someone just tell me. I can handle it. Whatever it is couldn’t surprise me anymore than everything else I’ve witnessed in my short lifetime.” My lips involuntarily pulled down into a frown as I anticipated the worst.
“Mike Newton was one of the humans who was attacked in Forks, Bella. I’m sorry. I know he was a friend of yours since you moved to Forks. He was home for the Christmas holidays and picked up a few shifts at his family’s store.” Edward lowered his voice with each sentence. “He was closing the store alone, and—”
“He never made it back home.” I finished Edward’s sentence. It took me a few minutes to take everything in. My mind flickered to the memories I still had of Mike, tucked away in the back of my head. His smile. His innocent baby face. His many attempts to get me to date him. I thought about Jessica, too. This won’t be easy for her. Me, well . . . I’m going to have to get used to this type of thing now. This is the life I’ve chosen.
Now that I am different, cold, immortal, death will have to become something routine for me. Something I will deal with constantly. I knew that before I was turned. It’s not like I woke up one day and thought I think I’ll get Edward to turn me into a vampire for the fun of it. I knew the reality of it. The bad parts, and the good. I didn’t react to what Edward just told me, and I could see the confusion dominating everyone’s expressions. The truth is, I didn’t know exactly how to outlet my feelings. As a human, you just cry. It’s easy. Now, I just feel angry when I’m upset. Confused.
“Well, we aren’t going to let you go back alone. If there is a vampire in Forks, I think Charlie and I would be of use. We’re both still very strong. I want to help.” I bit my lower lip, catching Nessie’s worried expression out of the corner of my eye. She just heard Edward say that Mike was killed by this vampire, and here I was offering myself up on a silver platter. I don’t even know what we are facing. It could be an army of vampires. Newborns. Strong, vicious newborns. I reconsidered. Not out of fear for myself, but for Renesmee. If Jacob is gone to La Push, it’s just not fair for me to leave too.
Turns out, I didn’t have a choice. I had to go. Jacob had more to tell me, but he couldn’t say it in front of Nessie. He casually asked me to follow him up the winding staircase, keeping a fake smile plastered on his face so Renesmee wouldn’t sense anything. Edward followed, his porcelain hand brushing the small of my back as we quickly ran up the stairs. Edward already knew what Jacob was going to tell me, of course.
Without wasting even a second, Jake closed the door to Carlisle’s office and began. “This vampire is after you for some reason, Bella. We’re almost certain there’s only one. We found footsteps in the snow all around your cabin in Forks. The window was left open, too. They’ve been inside. At this point, we believe the only way to lure whoever it is out of hiding, is if you were in Forks.” Jake’s voice was filled with certainty.
I wasn’t afraid. I had no choice. If whoever was after me came at me blindsided I would stand less of a chance, so I might as well face this head on, and destroy them. I couldn’t figure out why someone would be out to get me, though. I hadn’t broken any rules—well, nothing I haven’t already suffered for. Edward was just as confused as me, and he refused to let me go back to Forks without him.
“Esme, Rosalie, Carlisle . . . I’m sure someone can stay back and watch Renesmee. She is safe here in New Hampshire. I can’t let you go alone, Bella. I won’t. I’ll be able to read their mind and we’ll be at a great advantage. Alice needs to come, too. She can help us figure out what path the attacker is on.” Edward was already half way back down the stairs before he finished his sentence. He was right, he needed to be there. We needed to be able to read the attackers mind and figure out what they were really after, and why.
Carlisle and Esme stayed back in New Hampshire with Renesmee. I hated leaving her, but I couldn’t let whoever was after me trace my scent to New Hampshire, putting Nessie in direct danger. I had to go to them.
As soon as we got back to Forks, Edward, Charlie and I went directly to our cabin, while Seth and Jacob headed back to La Push to check in with Leah to see if she had seen anything new. Rosalie, Emmett, Alice & Jasper went back to the big white Cullen house to see if anyone had been there.
Jake was right. The attacker was after me. The clothes that were left in my closet were now flung all over the floor, while Edward’s remained perfectly untouched. I dragged in a deep breath—a habit from my time as a human. I knew this vampire wasn’t afraid. I couldn’t perfectly decipher my emotions, but I knew I wasn’t afraid, either. More anxious. Curious, maybe. But I’m a predator now. I no longer feel fear the same way I used to.
I heard the crackle of sticks outside of the cabin and figured Jake, Paul, and Leah were coming by to make sure everything was okay. Edward crouched low, as if he were ready to spring, and his upper lip pulled over his teeth as he let out a loud growl. Instinctively, I went into the same position. I could see that there was no time for Edward to elaborate on what he had heard, and I sprung through the door after him, Charlie following right after me.
She stood there, cat-like, with her brilliant red hair blowing in the cold winter wind. Her teeth were exposed and she was in a crouch. She was barefoot. My eyes darted down at her shirt. It was my shirt. She was wearing my clothing and this angered me even more. Her eyes were bright red and I couldn’t help but think of the life draining from Mike’s innocent face between her deadly grip. I let out a loud growl that echoed through the forest. I could hear the wolves running, their paws racing toward us.
It wasn’t her, though . . . that I knew.