Chapter 15

Playlist selection: Beautiful Lie by 30 Seconds to Mars

Bella POV

It’s been two and a half weeks since that fateful day in the library. Tomorrow is Christmas Day, and for the first time in my life, I’m alone for the holidays. My parents are thousands of miles away, enjoying a sun-filled holiday on a cruise to the Bahamas. They wanted me to come home during the break from school, but after the events at the library, I was scared to go home. I needed some time to figure out what to say to them. Should I tell them about seeing Edward? Would they think I’d lost my mind and needed to see a therapist again? I don’t know.

Sometimes I try to tell myself that it wasn’t really him. He looked the same, but different--his eyes and pale skin... but absolutely no sign of recognition for who I was. Shouldn’t he have been a tad surprised to see me in Forks? Why was he here to begin with? Is he going to school at the Center too? I’d never seen him around campus.  He’s always prefered to live in the city, but liked to escape to the wilderness; he would have been miserable in this small, remote town. Did he follow me across the country? If he was looking for me, wouldn’t he have talked to me, tackled me with a hug?  Hell, even a handshake would have been more than he gave me.

But no...he acted like i was just an ordinary girl at the fucking library.  

And it hurts. Really hurts.

This is why I decide to stay in town for the holiday. Partly because I’m too heartbroken and mopey to go anywhere and spread my non-Christmas cheer. I’ve cried nearly every day since our run-in, crushed by the thought that he didn’t even love me enough to say something besides “excuse me”.

I mean, fuck...

The other part of me is silently hoping I might run into him again. I’ve made daily trips to the library and sat at his table, hoping to catch a glimpse of his crazy hair or that beautiful smirk.

But that hasn’t happened.   

Jake and Leah invited me to Leah’s mother’s house for Christmas dinner, but I told them that I have plans to volunteer at a soup kitchen in Port Angeles for the day. That part is true,  I did plan to volunteer, but this morning I woke up even more depressed than the past few days, and I decided that I want to sulk about my pathetic life in the privacy of my own home.

Carrumba is my only saving grace from giving up completely, so she and I share my leftover chili for Christmas dinner. She picks out the kidney beans from my bowl, drops them in a pile on the table, and then wipes her sauce-covered beak on my snowman themed placemat before she dives back in for more. Edward used to pick them out too and give her his little stockpile of beans as a treat.

I sigh and carry my bowl to the sink, fighting the tears again.

After a while, Angela comes up to visit for a long weekend. It’s amazing having her here, even if it’s only for a couple of days. I’ve missed our easy friendship and just being around her. We talk once a week on the phone, but it’s just not the same as spending time in person with your close friends. I never thought I was homesick for my life in Phoenix until the moment I picked Ang up from the airport. I just didn’t want her to have to leave me again - alone with my heartbreak. This town is too small for a single woman to get to know anyone her age. There’s not much of a young twenty’s social circle in Forks.

Things don’t seem to change for me for several months. I go about my usual routine of classes, lab reports, study sessions with Jake, and even a few outings with Leah to her little brother’s soccer games. I’m practically robotic, going through the motions of life, but not really living it. To everyone else, I’m a happy-go-lucky-woman with smiles for everyone she sees, but in reality, I’m a broken-hearted little girl on the inside.

I haven't had that creepy feeling much over the last several months.  The last one I remember was the day Leah, Jake, Rebecca, and I went to the festival.  It's been nice not having to deal with that sensation.  However, one evening in June, I'm chopping veggies for dinner, and Carrumba's playing with the blocks in her cage, when she shrieks loudly - scaring the shit out of me - and causes me to cut my finger.  There's a decent amount of blood all over the cutting board, and instantly I have that unsettling sensation wash over me, causing me to feel slightly panicked.  It's the most intense and terrifying feeling I've had in a long time.  I actually feel like my life is in danger.  It's very strange...   

A week or so later, I’m making the short trip to the Thriftway for Kleenex, a pair of pliers, and a one-pound bag of peanut M&M’s, when a loud roar approaches my truck. I glance out the passenger side window and notice a handsome man with shaggy, blond curls pull his sporty motorcycle next to me at the traffic light. He checks for on-coming vehicles and then turns right and speeds off down Division Street. It takes me a split second to recognize him as the guy who was with Edward at the library that day, and I make a sudden right turn and follow him.

I catch a glimpse of his bike as I pass the police station, but he pulls further ahead as the road bends and twists through the forest. He turns onto a small dirt road that cuts through the trees, and I hesitate to continue down the dark path, but if Edward is wherever this guy is going, then I must follow him. I need to see Edward again.

But he isn’t home - something about an unexpected trip or whatever.

I stay up the entire night, feeling like a fool for seeking out someone who apparently doesn’t want to be found. I cry until I’m out of tears, hiccoughing like a drunk, and my head is throbbing. But that’s when I find it in me to not give up, and instead of approaching him empty handed in an attempt to coerce him into talking to me, I decide to make him his favorite potato chip cookies as a not-so-subtle reminder that I know him. Or at least I knew him, once upon a time.

Every day that passes since I dropped off the little gift at his house, I get more and more pissed that he hasn’t called me. I mean, even if he was still out of town, wouldn’t his roommates still give him the message? The woman assured me he would get his package and the message that I stopped by. She seemed sincere, and I believed her because she reminded me of Renee - all motherly and doting and smiles.

He could call me from wherever he is vacationing to either say ‘thanks for the fucking cookies’ or ‘I hate you, don’t ever talk to me again’...something! What the fuck is he waiting for? Or is he not even going to call me at all? Prick.

I don’t hear from him for two weeks. Two. Fucking. Weeks.

Jake and Leah leave for a weekend getaway, and I spend the Friday evening at home, cleaning out my shoebox of jewelry and hair accessories, listening to Carrumba chatting to herself in her cage, when there’s a knock at my door.

The view from the peephole is murky - only a dark figure standing under the dim porch light - and I assume it’s Mrs. Cope from upstairs, but when I wrench open the door and the flash of auburn hair shines in the Iight emanating from my apartment, my heart hammers in my chest. I blurt the first fucking think that comes to mind...

“Nice of you to grace me with your presence, Edward.” 

He’s staring at his feet like they are the most interesting things he’s ever seen. After a moment of awkward silence, he rakes his eyes up my body, finally settling on my eyes. I glower at him, letting him know that I’m pissed. Fucker needs to say something quick before I explode on a rant of cosmic proportions...or kiss him senseless.

“Uh, h-hi,” he stutters, wide-eyed and nervous. My lip twitches, fighting a triumphant smile. I smell fear, and I revel in it. That’s right, asshole. You’d better be worried that I’ll rip your balls off and ram them into your ears!  You deserve some torture after what you did to me.

I step aside and wave my hand to gesture for him to come inside; I don’t need the whole neighborhood knowing my business.

Staring hard at his face as he crosses the threshold into my apartment, I get a good look at his eyes. They are definitely different than they used to be - antique gold and saffron, not the soft viridian green eyes from our youth. Maybe he’s wearing contacts. His ruby-red lips stand out in stark contrast against his pale skin that practically glows in the unnatural light from the living room lamp.

"You look different.”

"I do?”

"Yeah. What happened to you?”

He ignores my question and moves to stand next to my couch, diverting his eyes now, looking everywhere else but at me. “Nice place.”

I snort at his half-assed compliment. “You want something to drink? I know I fucking need one,” I mumble the last part to myself, but I stalk off toward the kitchen, not waiting for his reply.

I pour myself a glass of wine and hold it up to show him, cocking an eyebrow to prod a response from him. Are you going to talk or just stand there - torturing me?

“Oh, uh, no thanks.” He smiles briefly at me before turning to look at my bookshelf, eying the scorpion in the display box.

I round the countertop and sit down on the sofa, tucking my feet under my body, trying to keep myself together. Why is this so awkward? It’s just Edward, Bella, you’ve known him your entire life! Talk to him.  I nod towards the creepy-crawly knicknack. “That's the Diplo-diplocen-spiz-.”

“Diplocentrus spitzeri.”

“Yeah, that's it."

"I don't know how I know that..." he mutters to himself as if he's surprised by this discovery. 

"It was your pride and joy,” I say, slightly confused by his statement.  Edward knew the scientific names for hundreds of bugs; that damn scorpion was one of his favorites. "I'm surprised you didn't get that tattooed on your wrist."

He whips around to look at me with a shocked expression on his face and stares for a few seconds before recovering and turns back to the bookshelf.

I stare at his back, wistful, thinking about the time in tenth grade when I snuck up behind him and hopped on his back, demanding a piggyback ride. He laughed and galloped through the hall before bursting through the doors to the courtyard and then into the cafeteria. He refused to release me for the entire lunch period.

"I noticed your ink," he says, turning to point toward me. "It's, uh, pretty." 

I peek over my shoulder, seeing the top of the tattoo on my right shoulder and blush, thinking about the irony of the situation.  Here I had thought he was dead and gone and I had forever memorialized him on my skin, but now he's standing in my fucking apartment.  I don't know if this is a fairytale or a nightmare.  Feeling slightly foolish about the tattoo, I manage to mumble my thanks for the compliment.

He offers a small smile and then places a paper bag from the local book store on my coffee table.  “I got this for you. I thought that since your brought me the cookies, I should bring you a little gift in return.” 

"Oh, thanks," I say, trying to hide my excitement.  Aww, he bought be a present?  I can't wait to see what it is!

"I see you're an avid cactus collector, huh?" He points toward the small pots next to the fireplace. "They remind you of home," he states, confident in his observation. Well, duh...

“Yeah, I had to order them from a website; they don’t sell anything like that around here. Ang brought me the succulent when she visited last month.”

“Ang?” He twists to look over his shoulder at me, quirking an eyebrow.

“Yes, Ang. You remember... Angela? My best friend, lived next door, Peter’s sister...”


“Jesus, Edward... Yes, Peter. Your ‘partner-in-crime’, was supposed to be your best man at the wedding... Ring any bells?” Why is he acting like he doesn’t remember them?


I huff in annoyance. I could strangle him for pretending not to remember the wedding! I gulp the remaining wine from my glass. “Yes, wedding.” I look at him, pissed the hell off. What the fuck is his problem? “Why are you acting like you don’t know your friends? Or me for that matter?”

That got his attention. He whirls around at lightning speed and gives me a look that should probably intimidate me with dark and angry eyes, but I’m not playing this game with him. I want some fucking answers!

“I don’t know you.” His voice is low and laced with annoyance, and his fingers tightly grip his hair. He hangs his head and speaks so softly that I barely hear him speak again. “I don’t know... anything.”

“What are you talking about, Edward? You know Angela and Peter...and me! You knew everything about me until you pulled that fantastic disappearing act just before graduation! Hell, you mean to tell me you don’t even know your precious Carrumba?” I wave my hand toward Carrumba’s cage, noticing she’s huddling in her sleep hammock, but her head is peeking out, watching us.

Edward glances at the bird cage and back to me, disbelief masking his face. “The bird?” He points at Carrumba, and I hear a faint peep from her direction. “That loud, obnoxious thing used to be mine?” He shakes his head slowly, muttering something under his breath.

“YES!” I yell, springing myself from the couch and crossing the short distance to stand in front of him at the fireplace. “What the fuck happened to you, Edward? Do you really not remember or are you just playing dumb, because that’s a crock of sh-”

“Bella, there was an, err, accident. I don’t have any memory of my life before that.”

I’m a bit taken back by his reference to his parents’ murder as an accident. There was nothing “oopsie” about that scene in the cabin. Before I can wrap my head around his last statement, he responds with answers to the unasked questions that just popped into my head. 

“I didn't follow you here to Forks, Bella. My family and I moved here a year and a half ago. We lived in San Francisco before that.”

“Your family?”


“Edward, your family was murdered. I don't know who these people are who you call your family, but your real family is dead.” I look at him pointedly. “Dead, Edward. You didn't kill them, did you?”

He shakes his head quickly. “No, of course I didn't kill them. At least,  I hope I didn't do it. I've been told that I wasn't capable of doing anything at that stage...”

“You were told? Weren't you there? And what do you mean 'at that stage'?"

His voice grows more agitated, the volume increasing with each word. “I told you there was an accident!”

Evasive motherfucker. “Yeah, I got that,” I snap.

Edward huffs and flops down into the chair beside the bookcase, his face clearly displaying his frustration with me. I don't give a shit what his problem is. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that something terrible happened to him and his family, he disappeared, and left me heartbroken without any answers. I deserve some fucking answers.

Annoyed with his attitude, I snatch the package from the coffee table and reach inside. A picture book of Arizona National Parks? Is he fucking kidding me?

“What the fuck is this, Edward? Are you trying to rub the worst day of my life in my face?” I jump up from my spot on the couch and tower over him, my entire body shaking and tears welling in my eyes. "How could you do this to me?"

"I didn't do anything to you, Bella!  I don't fucking know you!"  Those last words cause the avalanche of tears to fall.  How can he say that?

"The hell you don't!  What about the first eighteen years of our lives?  How can you not remember anything about that?" 

"There. Was. An. Accident."  He slowly rises from the arm chair and stands with his arms crossed against his chest, nostrils flaring, and pupils dialating.

"Yeah, you keep fucking saying that, but you never say what happened!  Did you fall in a ravine?  Get struck on the head by a falling tree limb?  Abducted and anally probed by aliens?"

"No, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"If it was some big, horrific incident, wouldn't you have been in the hospital somewhere?  Somebody would have recognized you!  We had your picture all over the goddamn news stations for weeks searching for you!"

"I was gone by then."

"Gone?  Where the fuck did you go?"

"My family found me and took me with them to San Francisco. I told you that already!" he roars, and Carrumba squawks loudly in her cage, startled by the tone of Edward's voice.

"Where did they find you?  Along the roadside?  In the woods?  Jesus, Edward, you know that entire area of Arizona like the back of your hand.  You couldn't get lost there if you tried!" 

"I, uh, I don't know where they found me.  I was unconscious until I woke up in their truck."

"You were KIDNAPPED?!  Oh, my God!  I've got to call my dad!"  What did those terrible people do to him?

"NO! No, I wasn't kidnapped, Bella.  They rescued me, helped me.  I wouldn't be who I am today without them."

"Who the fuck would help some wayward teenager - who was obviously injured and unconsious - and put them in their car to drive them to California, Edward?"  The volume of my voice increasing with every word. "That doesn't make any fucking sense!"   

"My life doesn't make sense, Bella.  You'd probably never understand... nor should you."

"What the hell does that mean?  Christ, you are driving me batshit crazy!  Why are you being so fucking evasive, Edward?! Why can’t you just give me some goddamn answers?!  You at least owe me that!”

“I don’t fucking owe you anything,” he growls.

"Yes, I think you do!  How could you turn a blind eye to me and never look back?"

"It's not all about you, Bella!  I told you that I don't fucking remember anything before the accident.  You're acting like a self-righteous, spoiled princess, and -"

Hearing that word slip past his lips is what finally sends my anger to a new level.  I've never hit anyone in my life, nor do I think it's right to strike someone in the heat of an argument - or at all, for that matter - but that comment is my last straw.  My rage is so far beyond critical level with his secrecy and head games that I raise my hand to slap him across the cheek for calling me a "princess".  I fucking hate being called that.

But he must have supersonic reflexes, because I'm barely mid-swing when his hand reaches up to wrap around my wrist, stopping my assault in a fraction of a second.  Suddenly, we both gasp and I look up into Edward's eyes - black and feral - and see an emotion that is mirrored in my own.


Chapter 14

Playlist selection: Somewhere I Belong - by Linkin Park

Edward POV

“Who was that girl?” Jasper thumbs behind us in the direction of the library. We’ve barely made it to the corner before he starts with the twenty questions.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? Well, apparently you do; she said your name. There was so much shock and disbelief going on in there...”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Okay, so first you don’t know, and now you do know, Edward. Stop talking in circles; you’re making me dizzy.”

I roll my eyes at him as we step off the curb, crossing Division Street. “I’ve never met her before, Jazz.” I stare at the ground, trying to rack my brain for where I might have come across her. My vampire memory is incapable of forgetting, so trying to figure that shit out is a waste of time.

He extends his hand out to grab my arm, halting my quick pace. “Dude, you’re killing me with all the confusion. Talk to me. What’s going on, man?”

“I don’t know! There was this voice - a fucking woman’s voice - talking about me in my head. When we passed the desk to leave, the girl standing there said my name.” I shake my head, trying to clear out the jumbled thoughts. “It was like she recognized me.”

Jasper nods. “Yeah, I got that vibe... What else?”

“I’m not sure. She obviously knows me, but from where? How? I definitely don’t recognize her. What feelings did you pick up from her?”

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell which emotion was coming from you and which was coming from her; everything was so jumbled together. I’m not kidding about the dizziness, man. I’m surprised I didn’t topple over right there at the circulation desk.”

I ignore his weak attempt at a joke and shake my head. “I just can’t figure it all out. Her voice in my head...”

He seems to sense the sudden spike in my anxiety and tries to lighten the conversation. “Yeah, well, you’re one of the mysterious Cullen kids, remember? She’s probably seen you with Carlisle at the hospital or something. Maybe she was a patient there. She probably knows you’re the only single one in the family, and she’s looking for a ‘good time’.” He waggles his eyebrows suggestively. I don’t find it funny at the moment.

“No, dick. I’m telling you... it was like she remembered me but couldn’t believe what she was seeing. It was the weirdest thing...”

“Well, let’s go back and talk to her.” He whips around and starts walking back in the direction of the library. I grab his arm to stop him, not sure if approaching this girl is what I should do.

“No, not yet. I need to talk to Carlisle about this shit. Can vampires hallucinate?”

We laugh, but thankfully, he drops the subject until we get back to the house. Alice is waiting for us on the porch when we arrive. She tells us that she had a vision of me wanting to talk to the family, so she gathered them in the living room to await our return.

“What’s going on, Edward?” Esme says, concern written all over her face.

“I’m not sure,” I tell her. She pulls me to sit on the ottoman in the center of the room and waves her hand to indicate I have their full attention. I focus mostly on Carlisle as I speak. “So, Jazz and I were at the library - just hanging out for a bit - you know? Well, all of a sudden I kept hearing this woman’s voice in my head.”

Emmett chuckles and I glare at him, giving him my middle finger. Esme chastises me with a warning look, then clears her throat to speak. “Then what happened, sweetheart?”

I give them the play-by-play of the events from the library, and then they discuss the possibilities of why I can only hear her. Could she be my la tua cantante, whatever the fuck that means? Or that maybe I’m developing mind reading abilities and somehow her mind was the easiest to infiltrate?

Alice argues against that theory. “Vampires are known to have abilities from the day they wake up, not ‘develop’ them. Our bodies are never changing... how can we develop anything? He either had this talent from the time he transformed and has been hiding it from us, or there’s something else going on.”

“Well, damn, I always thought your lame-ass talent was that you were a fast runner, Edward. I mean, whoop-tee-fucking-do! We’re vampires; we’re all fast. But if you reading our minds is going to be half as annoying as seeing our future, then I may consider going rogue,” Rosalie chides, casting a fleeting glance in Alice’s direction. I roll my eyes at Rose, hiding a smirk. She’s such a bitch sometimes, but I love her sarcasm.

Alice huffs, but otherwise stays quiet.

“Look. I’ve never had this happen before today. Never! I don’t understand what’s going on. That’s why I wanted to talk to all of you, to get your opinions. What if she really knew me in my human life?” I look at each of my family members, taking in their pensive expressions.

While they are lost in their own thoughts, I play that last scenario on a constant loop in my head... what if she really knew me in my human life?

But if that were true, and we met face-to-face again, she would notice the differences, if she hadn’t already today at the library. I don’t know if I was always pale or if I had a nice tan. Either way, my pallor is abnormal to humans. If she were to ever touch my hand, she’d feel the cool temperature of my body, and probably flinch from the unexpected texture of my skin.

What about my eyes? I know it’s characteristic of my family’s diet, but I’m one-hundred percent sure my human irises were not this golden color. I’ve never seen a human with eyes like ours. Would she have known me well enough to know what color they used to be?

And then there’s the clincher: I didn’t recognize her. She said my name. My name. She knows me... or knew me; I’m sure I’m not the same guy she had once known. I groan in frustration. I don’t know what I should fucking do - ignore her completely? Find her and get answers to the questions I’ve been asking myself since they day I woke up in this life? Would that be risking my family’s secret? Should I just pack some shit and leave Forks like I had been considering lately?

Carlisle says I should wait and keep an eye on her, see if something triggers any memories, but I just don’t know if that’s something I should do or not.

So, I do nothing.

For a few weeks, I go about my usual schedule... of nothing. I hunt, hang out with my family, and contemplate the nomadic lifestyle. Thoughts of this mystery girl cycle through my mind constantly, but I still can’t make a decision about what to do. Should I go back to the library in hopes of finding her again? Should I ignore my thoughts of her and pretend it never happened? I’m so fucking unsure.

So, in keeping with the theme... I do nothing.


Early one morning in February - nearly two months after the incident in the library - I’m at the lonely, useless traffic light in the sprawling metropolis of Forks when the voice registers through my mind.

“C’mon! Shit! I’m going to be late!”

I glance in the rearview mirror at the car behind me, noticing a burly logger lighting a cigarette.

“Ah, damn. Hurry up!”

There’s no one in the turning lane beside me, but in the on-coming lane, there’s a white sedan behind a delivery van.

“Go, lady! Jesus...”

I can’t see the driver, but once the light turns green, I gently press the gas pedal and creep through the intersection slowly, trying to get a good glimpse of the person inside. To my disappointment, it’s a scrawny teenage boy, probably headed to the high school.


As I drive past the white car, the voice goes silent, so I turn down the next street and begin to zig zag around the blocks near the intersection, hoping to catch the voice again, but it’s gone. I wonder if she was in a nearby store? Was she in another car headed in the opposite direction? I must need to be within a certain range to hear her. Giving up on my search after a few moments, I head back to the house.

I try to push the voice to the back burner of my mind, not wanting to obsess over it or her. I try to think about what she looked like, but I wasn’t really paying attention to those details at the time. I remember the basics: she was short with long brown hair and had on black and gray tennis shoes, jeans, and a green t-shirt. Other than that, I didn’t really get a good look at her face. I was too absorbed with deciphering the voice to focus on the person before I darted through the exit doors. I don’t even remember catching her scent; I think I held my breath the entire time I was in the library.

In April, I hear the voice again, but this time I’m driving past Tillicum Park. I make a U-turn and pull into the parking lot just as families are piling into their minivans after a soccer game. Her thoughts are vague and don’t help me locate her in the mass of humans milling around the lot. I crack open the rear window, not wanting the sunlight to reflect directly on my skin, and allow the various aromas of the people to waft into the car. I recognize several from being around the residents of Forks for the past year and a half. But unfortunately, nothing triggers any memories from the library.

By now - the end of May - I’ve caught her voice in my head two more times. Once in the mall in Port Angeles and today at the grocery store.

Esme has sent me on an errand for items from the hardware store. In a small town like Forks, it’s common to have a grocery/hardware store combo, I guess. I wouldn’t know, really. I only remember living in San Fran and Forks. I have no fucking clue if it’s normal or not... Anyway, at the Thriftway, I head straight to the section containing the hammers and mallets, perusing the shelves, when I’m struck with her voice again.

“Wow! Chicken breasts on sale for ninety-nine cents a pound?”

I spin around, looking for the girl, but quickly realize she wouldn’t be looking for that shit in the hardware portion of the store. That means she’s just on the other side of the wall from me! Suddenly, I’m really nervous about seeing her. I need to be all stalker-like and shit, because I can’t risk a scene in public. What if she faints? What if she screams? What if I do?

Deciding to stop asking “what if’s” and just to scope her out, I place the items in my hands back on the shelf and casually walk toward the opening that separates the two stores.

I’ve never been in a grocery store - never having a need to go there - so I’m feeling a tad bit out of my element, but I’m a man on a fucking mission to follow the voice. But when I get to the meats section, she’s not there. Fuck! Please tell me that I didn’t lose her already?

“Eggs, milk, butter. Eggs, milk, butter.”

Thank you very much, I silently reply back, appreciating her clues as to where she is headed in the store. I see the large refrigerator doors across the back wall, and maneuver around the produce section, trying to get a good perch to watch for the girl. The smell of the overly-ripe bananas in the bin next to me is extremely revolting, so I move over to the open buckets of potatoes and wait.

And there she is.

And she’s beautiful. How did I not notice this before? Her hair is pulled up into a loose ponytail and she’s wearing shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. She’s with another girl and they seem to be chatting about plans for the weekend while she places items into a handbasket, but surprisingly, her thoughts are about me.

“Should I tell her about seeing Edward, or not?”

The girls proceed to shop for other items, and I listen in shamelessly, wondering if she will mention me again. However, she decides to revisit that thought later on tonight when she’s alone with her friend.

Oh, I’m definitely going to listen in on that conversation...

Now that I’ve gotten a good look at her, I decide to leave the store and wait until she gets into her vehicle. Just as I’ve turned from the display of potatoes, my cell phone rings. I don’t have to look at the damn display to know it’s Alice.

“I’m not going to do anything, Alice. Stay off my back!” I growl into the receiver.

“You don’t know that, Edward. I haven’t seen what you are going to do because you haven’t decided on it!”

“I’m just going to follow her - see where she lives. I’m not going to approach her now!” The automatic doors slide open and I rush to exit the store. My car is parked at the far end of the lot near the hardware store entrance. I walk at a swift human pace and climb in, completely ignoring Alice’s rant.

“...anything stupid, Edward. Okay?”

“Yeah, alright. I’ll be home in a little bit. I just want to see where she lives.” She starts to bitch about something else, but I hang up on her and turn my phone off.

A few minutes later, the girl and her friend exit the store and trot over to a gaudy, red pick-up truck. Jesus, what a piece of shit! The beast roars to life, sputtering noxious fumes into the air, and pulls out onto the 101, headed north.

There’s not much traffic on the highway, but I allow two other cars to pull out onto the the road in front of me, and I follow the vapors from her truck. I don’t want her to know I’m following her. Two turns later, I find that monstrosity parked in front of a large Victorian home. There are three metal mailboxes next to the front door. I assume the house has been divided into apartments. Which one is hers?

Her voice rings out in my head, mentioning how happy her friend seems and whether or not she, herself, would ever be that happy again. The timbre of the voice is sad and somber. I wonder what happened to her.

“Tonight. I’ll tell her about seeing him tonight... after of wine... or two.”

I waffer with my urge to stay in front of her house, listening in on her thoughts, or to come back later this evening under the cover of darkness like the creepy voyeur that I’ve recently become.

Turning the car around in a neighbor’s driveway, I get a moment more to listen in before I’m too far out of range to hear her. I head straight home, thinking about what I plan to do now that I know where to find her. I need to figure out who she is...

When I arrive later that evening, the girls are completely drunk and singing karaoke in the apartment. Her thoughts don’t mention anything about me, only which song is next to sing and if she should eat something before she pukes.

I park my car along the poorly lit curb in front of her house. The dark tinted windows of the car keep me from being spotted easily inside, and I listen intently as their slurred speech turns into mumbles and eventually falls silent as they pass out from all the alcohol. I drive home in the wee hours of the morning, determined to finally take Carlisle’s advice. I’m going to watch her.

Creepy voyeuristic vampire.

For the next several weeks, I scope out this mystery woman. Not wanting to alert the neighborhood watch of a strange guy sitting in a car for hours on end, never getting out to visit one of the nearby homes, I start out by hiding in the forest just beyond her home, watching for a pattern to her routine.

She rises just after dawn three days a week for classes at the UW campus in Forks. On those mornings, I wait until her truck leaves her driveway before I sprint through the forest toward the campus. I hide out in the heavily wooded forest around the Center until she pulls into the lot and makes her way into the classroom. And in true stalker fashion, I wait for her to leave in the early evening and follow her home.

Two days out of the week, she meets her friend Jake at the diner for breakfast before traveling all around the Olympic Peninsula, collecting data and specimens for their lab courses.

At first, there’s a surge of jealousy and protectiveness that passes through me, knowing she’s meeting and spending time alone with a man. Who the fuck is this guy? Is this her boyfriend? Why are they meeting at the diner? He doesn’t even meet her at her truck to help her out of it. What if she fell in the parking lot and twisted her ankle? What if a runaway car came barrelling toward her? Surely, this pansy-assed human can’t safeguard her like I can.

And why the fuck do I even care?

The first morning I learn about her meetings with Jake, I follow her truck through town and stand in the rain, watching their conversation through the window. My mind is too clouded with emotions, and so I don’t consider the consequences of barging through the restaurant doors and dragging her away with me until I reach the hostess stand, and suddenly I worry how she’ll react once she recognizes me again.

The young girl at the counter eyes me suspiciously, so I politely ask for a to-go menu. As she’s digging though a stack of papers beneath the register, I hear the dynamic duo’s conversation. She asks what his plans are for the weekend, and he invites her over for a barbeque... with his wife. Well, halle-fucking-lujah! At least I won’t have to kill him... yet.

On the weekends, she wakes late - usually sleeping in until ten o’clock - then studies at the library - sometimes with Jake, sometimes without him. I prefer the times she’s alone; she mentions my name in her mind more often, but quickly chastises herself and pushes those thoughts to the side.

“God, I miss Edward so much. NO! Forget him. He’s apparently forgotten you.”

Then on occasion, she thinks about some motherfucker named Riley. “Am I going to run into Riley someday too? I don’t think I could handle that. One return-from-the-dead encounter is enough for this lifetime.”

What the fuck does that mean? I make a mental note to find out about him.

After a few weeks of watching her at a distance and learning her daily schedule, I start to circle closer to her like a goddamn predator to his prey. Not that I want to kill her, but like, I want to know more about her... more about us - our apparent history together. I want to spend some time with her.

The irony of it all makes me laugh. I mean, it’s like a fucking human wanting to be best friends with a cupcake. Just doesn’t happen. That’s usually when I get a phone call from Alice.

I visit her apartment mostly at night, trying to avoid detection by lurking in the darkness. I listen to her conversations with friends and what music she likes. She prefers hip hop while she’s cleaning and easy listening tunes while she’s relaxing. But only classical music will do when she’s studying. “I can’t concentrate if I’m singing all the damn lyrics!” she says to herself. It’s kinda cute.

I learn that her name is Isabella M. Swan - formerly of Phoenix, Arizona - owner of one very annoying bird, an overdue cable bill, and subscriber to Cosmopolitan magazine and the Washington Environmental Council newsletter. She recycles and carries reusable bags to the grocery store.

Late at night, after she’s fast asleep, I peer into her windows and through her sheer curtains to catch a glimpse of her home. In the living room, she has a collection of cacti on the mantel of the fireplace and a book shelf full of textbooks and novels with a scorpion in a small display case situated on top.

My family disapproves of me spending so much time just watching this girl, Isabella. Some think I will slip up and be discovered hovering around her apartment, drawing attention to me and our family. Others feel it’s only a matter of time before I snap and hurt her. Alice is frustrated because I can’t make a decision on whether or not to approach her, so she can’t see how things are going to turn out. It’s pretty damn hilarious watching her get all giddy one minute and twitchy-nervous the next. She either sees me as being happy because I’ve gotten all my answers from Isabella and she’s alive and well, or still being happy because I’ve gotten all my answers, but Isabella’s dead, and we’re on the run.

Esme is confident that things will be alright, but Carlisle is apprehensive. He tries to be secretive about scoping potential places to move our family should something bad happen. I highly doubt that will be the case, but I guess it’s good to err on the side of caution.

It’s not like I’ve never interacted with a human before, but definitely not of this caliber. Not with the possibility of ruining my family’s life here in Forks or murdering the only person who may give me a glimpse of who I used to be. If I do actually talk to Isabella, there’s no telling what could happen after the confrontation.

Jazz worries that I’m not hunting enough to maintain the veggie-vamp level of civility and to keep the bloodlust at bay if I plan to be close to her. I argue that it’s ridiculous to feed so regularly, since the constant burning in my throat is always there whether I hunt routinely or not. I’m already used to the scorching flare ups when I’m closer to humans, so I don’t see the point in gorging ourselves on wildlife if it’s unnecessary. He always has a come back, saying stupid shit about using protection with random hook-ups or whatever. He can be such a freak sometimes.

Rose and Emmett find this all very amusing and tease me relentlessly about my “sweet, little human crush” and all the time I’ve spent following and watching her. Assholes! It’s not a crush. She’s just... just... fascinating to me.

And really pretty...

It’s a warm, overcast evening in the middle of June, and as per my usual routine, I creep along the shadows next to Isabella’s house and settle next to the open window of the living room. Usually, I listen as she shuffles around her house, having conversations with the bird and with herself, and even while she just watches TV. It’s somewhat comforting just being near her. Her voice is soft and gentle, and once in a while, she mentions my name.. but usually it’s combined with a few curse words.

Her mind becomes a flurry of anger, a long string of profanities flood her thoughts, and then just as quickly, she thinks about how much she loves me. Not loved - past tense - but that maybe she still does. My question is... what kind of love? Romantic? Platonic? Familial? Please, Lord, don’t let her be my sister...

She never lingers long enough on that particular emotion for me to figure it out, so I keep returning to her window every night in hopes of solving this never ending mystery.

On Wednesdays, I like to eavesdrop on her weekly phone conversation with her friend, Angela. Tonight, the girls are chatting about celebrity gossip while Isabella chops something in the kitchen. She giggles into the phone, and I can’t help the smile that spreads across my face. Her laugh is so damn cute.

There’s a gentle gurgling sound coming from inside, so I assume she’s cooking herself dinner, but it’s hard to see what happening through the bird’s cage that is blocking the window.

I stand on my tip toes, trying to get a better glimpse inside the kitchen. My movement catches the attention of the bird, and it suddenly squawks loudly, startling Isabella and causing her to slice her finger. And that’s when I smell it...

Human blood.

In a fraction of a second, my muscles tense and my fingers clench into claws, ready to pounce and strike at my prey. The familiar metallic taste of venom floods my mouth, and I prepare to burst through her window to feast on the crimson ambrosia dripping from her finger, when the goddamned bird screeches in a frantic alarm and breaks me from my thirst-induced trance just long enough to make me suddenly aware of the situation.

I’m about to kill Isabella.

The bird continues to carry on with it’s loud warning cries, but I’m frozen in place, afraid to move a muscle until I’ve settled my urge to hunt. I don’t dare breathe while the delicious aroma still lingers in the air.

As Isabella attends to her wound, I slowly back away from the window - not wanting to make any sudden movements until I’m far enough away to turn and run. And run. And run.

Alice calls my cell phone before I leave the yard, and I apologize profusely.

“I’m so sorry, Alice. Please tell them I’m so sorry,” I beg, not wanting to face my family right now, shame surging through me.

“It’s okay, Edward. It was bound to happen at some point. Just be happy you didn’t go through with it.”

“I know. I am.”

She’s quiet for a few seconds then she sighs. “Please, don’t be gone long.”

“I won’t.” I turn of my phone, stuff it down into my pocket, and continue to run.

Two weeks later, I drag my sorry ass back home. I still feel guilty for nearly murdering the one person who’s held any interest for me since I woke up from my transformation. The one who holds all the answers to who I was in my former life.

Emmett, Jasper, and Carlisle meet me at the door wearing matching smiles.

“Glad to have you back, son.”

“Thanks.” I hang my head, ashamed of running away like a fucking coward.

Carlisle pulls me into the kitchen and leans against the counter to face me. He reiterates one of the first conversations we ever had about bloodlust, the necessity for frequent hunting, yadda yadda yadda...

I consider myself properly scolded.

He leaves me to my brothers, their devilish smirks alerting me to something I’m probably not going to like.

“What’s up, guys?” I raise my eyebrows, waiting for a fucking answer.

“Oh, not much,” Emmett says, elbowing Jazz in the ribs.

“Okay, okay... out with it! What are you assholes not telling me?”

Jasper reaches out and wraps his arm around my shoulder. “We have a little present for you.” I eye them both suspiciously, recalling every one of the practical jokes they’ve played on me.

“No, thanks. I’ve had enough of them over the past four years.”

Emmett’s smile gets bigger. “No, dude. Trust me, you’ll like this.”

I volley my eyes between the two douchebags before surrendering with a sigh. “Alright... what is it?”

Emmett pulls his arm from around his back and hands me a flimsy plastic storage container. “Here’s some sweets from your sweetie,” he laughs.

“What the fuck is this?” I ask. The plastic is semi-opaque and hard to see through, so I pop open the lid and glance at its contents. What the...? When the stench from inside fills my nostrils, I whip the container across the kitchen where it splinters a cabinet door. “Holy Jesus! What is that shit?!”

“Your girlfriend made them for you, asshole!” Jasper says, picking up the remnants of plastic and treats.

I look over at him, then at Emmett, confused. “She made them... for me?” How did she know...? Why...?

With Jasper now scouring the floor to collect all the particles of chocolate that scattered when the container busted, Emmett grabs me in a headlock and tells me what happened while I was away, “First, she shows up one night and snoops around the property, trying to look in windows and shit, then comes back the next day with a container of treats, saying that they used to be your favorite.” He’s quiet for a moment while he studies my face. “You know what you’ve gotta do, right?”

I look from his face to the mutilated container of cookies that Jazz put on the counter and whisper, “I have to go talk to her.”

I fret over this for the next two days. Now that she’s made the first move to contact me, I don’t know if I really want to talk to her. What would I say? “Hi, I’m Edward Cullen. Do you know me?” It makes me feel like a little lost puppy looking for his home or some shit. Wasn’t there some kind of identification at the cabin where Esme, Alice, and Emmett found me? Couldn’t they have spent an extra two minutes to find out where I was from?

How does she know where I live?

Isabella had left a card with the cookies: Please call me. Bella 602-555.9655.

An Arizona area code? How do I know it’s an Arizona area code? I’ve never called Arizona! Jesus, this whole situation gets more and more twisted...

I was found in Arizona, and she did mention something about Phoenix at the library. Is she from Phoenix? Am I from Phoenix?

Finally, I make a plan to approach her. Alice says the meeting will be informative, but she doesn’t give me any more than that.

I pick up a little gift for her at a bookstore in town - a peace offering, of sorts - and make my way toward her apartment.

I pull into the driveway, parking behind her behemoth truck, I exhale sharply before pulling in a deep lungful of air, my anxiety increasing tenfold. This is it, buddy boy. This is what you want... answers.

The rain is pouring down in sheets, and I exit the car, making my way toward her door like I was walking the fucking “Green Mile”. I step onto the tiny porch, listening to her thoughts inside, measuring her mood.

“Red or white? Hmm, definitely red.”

She seems to be in a mellow mood, so I take one last deep breath and knock lightly against the metal door. The damn bird squawks loudly until Isabella - Bella, as her note indicated - shushes it and pads toward the door.

If my heart was still beating, it would be pounding furiously. Why am I so damn nervous? I’m higher on the goddamn food chain! She should be nervous of me!

The locks click softly and the safety chain slides across the catch, but the second the door cracks open, I stare down at my shoes, too anxious to look her in the eye.

Her breath catches in her throat and I can hear her swallowing several times, her heartbeat thumping wildly. She doesn’t say a word for a few seconds, but it feels like an eternity to me.

Slowly, I raise my eyes to take in her long, exposed legs, short denim shorts, tight red tank top, plump lips, adorable button nose, and deep, soulful brown eyes. The same eyes that look like she’s trying to dismember me with a wicked glare.

“Nice of you to grace me with your presence, Edward,” Bella sneers.

Oh, this is not good...

Chapter 13

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or it's character names - those belong to Stephenie Meyer. Bittersweet Irony and it's characterizations, backgrounds, and plot lines belong to SweetVenom69. No copying, translation, or reproduction is allowed without my written authorization. © 2010 SweetVenom69.

Playlist selection: New Life by Depeche Mode

Edward POV


“Yeah?” I sigh and turn my attention away from staring at the television and toward the sweet, gentle voice of Esme, my mother for all intents and purposes.

“Jasper is waiting for you.” She nods toward the garage. “He wants to talk to you.”

I groan and turn off the television. He always wants to talk to me. Jasper has taken it upon himself to be my personal vampire shrink - talking, listening, giving unsolicited advice. It's pretty annoying, to be honest, but my brother means no harm. He knows how difficult it's been for me – this new life – living among strangers, completely at a loss of my former life, struggling to refrain from feasting on humans. Thankfully, I never succumbed to my vampiric nature and killed a human, but I came close a time or two.

That is something I'm very happy about – to have been “raised” by a family of vampires who appreciate humans, respect them. We were all humans once. I like to think that maybe I was an upstanding guy in my former life and not a sadistic serial killer or something. How fucking ironic would that be? I can see the headlines now: “Vicious murderer-turned-vampire only hunts animals now”.

From inside her room upstairs, Alice laughs and I shoot my middle finger in her general direction, even though she can't physically see me do it. I know she just had a vision of me deciding to check the America's Most Wanted website for a picture of me.

But that's just it! I have no fucking clue as to what my life used to be like. I could have been married with two kids and a dog. A job at the Post Office and have a mortgage and two car payments. Maybe I went on family vacations every year to Disney World or on a Caribbean cruise. Carlisle doesn't think that I was old enough for all that, though. He estimates that I'm in my late teens or early twenties. But of course, he doesn't know for sure. That doesn't matter though. What does matter is that there's probably someone out there who knew me, cared about me, was friends with me... I just want to know what I was like back then.

My current family has helped me immensely with transitioning into this world, but as each day passes, I find myself needing to know about my life as a human.

Was I a college student when I was turned? Or was I still in high school and a total band geek that couldn't get laid if I tried? Did I have a girlfriend... or a wife?

Seeing my family members with their mates ignites that twinge of jealousy every time they split off into couples. They hide away in their rooms to canoodle, and I'm left standing in my shower with my dick in my hand, trying to satisfy myself while simultaneously trying to block out the sounds of their lovemaking.

God, this life is so fucking lonely sometimes.

Then there's the “stay out of the sunlight around humans” rule. Yeah, I get why, but fuck, I love the sun. I love how warm it feels on my skin, and the sparkling is kind of cool, too.

A few times when I was hunting alone, I would find a secluded meadow, strip completely naked, and bask in the sunlight for hours. It was incredible – being one with nature. Even with those goddamn bugs buzzing incessantly in my ears. Why couldn't we live someplace without insects? They drive me fucking crazy with their little wings fluttering so fast they cause a loud humming in my ears. They whiz through the air, making a mad dash towards me because they are attracted to the prisms reflected on my skin. Why can't they be afraid of vampires like every other fucking creature? No, those pesky things are attracted to us. Like a fucking moth to a flame or some shit.

And then there's the million-dollar question... why the hell do I have a goddam tattoo of the Latin word for a butterfly on my wrist? Yeah, I Googled that shit. Now, I'm stuck with it for all eternity. Thankfully, Emmett stopped calling me “Little Butterfly” after a year or so of living with them. He can be such a prick sometimes.

But that brings me back to wanting to know about my previous life... and whether or not I'll ever find a mate in this life. It's not like I can skip down to the local bar and pick up a hot, female vamp.

See? It's a goddamn vicious cycle.

I trudge through the kitchen and exit into the garage, noticing Jasper leaning against his Ducati. His eyebrows raise as he analyzes my emotional state, checking to see if I'm in a decent mood or not.

“I'm fine, Jazz.”

“Uh huh,” he mutters, still monitoring my attitude.

I sigh and nod toward the forest, hinting to him that I want to run; I always feel better after I run. We head north toward Sappho and take down two elk near the highway. I'm not really thirsty, but the fresh ingestion of blood takes the edge off my anxiety. After we feed, we sprint east and race to the top of Sourdough Mountain, then settle down on an outcrop of boulders near the summit.

“You wanted to talk?” I push, tired of his constant watching me and waiting for my mood to change.

“Emmett told me that you were thinking about taking off by yourself for a while...” he hedges.


He doesn't say anything... just patiently waits for me to continue.

“I told you before, man. I just feel like I'm missing something in my life, or whatever you call this fucked up existence. I just don't want to stay in this podunk town, pretending to be something I'm not. Isn't there some sort of online dating service for vampires or some shit? I'm tired of being the only single one in the house.” I huff, picking at the tender grass next to my leg.

He laughs and shakes his head. “Not that I know of...”

“It's not just wanting to get laid – hell, I don't even know if I'm a virgin or not! I don't know anything about where I came from, who I am. I've never gone anywhere, seen anything. I want to experience something. I want that, Jasper. I need that.”

“I know.”

“Then there's the secret society of Emmett, Esme, and Alice.” He growls at my snide comment about his wife, but I ignore it. “All they ever tell me when I ask about where they found me is that I was in a cabin in the mountains of Arizona and my family was gone. Gone, as in left on vacation or as in dead? They always change the subject when I try to dig deeper; I want details. I know they're hiding something from me; maybe it's minor, but I feel I have the right to know. Sometimes I wish I had the ability to read minds.” I groan, frustrated with my waffling emotions. “I just hate not knowing what else the world has to offer me. I want to go to school and have a job. Travel to the desert and sky dive.” I turn to look at him, imploring with my eyes for him to understand. “Fuck, man, I've never even been to a God damned library!”

He nods and glances out at the view from our perch on the mountain. “Are you happy? I mean, in the grand scheme of things... are you content with being a vampire?”

I shrug my shoulders, not sure of the answer to his question. “I just feel like there's some empty hole inside of me that's craving to be filled.” I pause to peek up at him. “That's how I feel, Jazz. Empty. Maybe I do need to get laid,” I laugh.

He chuckles and claps a hand on my shoulder. “I know something that'll perk you up, bro,” he says with a small smile. “Let's go to the library. Maybe we’ll find something to peak your interest in all the wonders of the world. Maybe we'll even find you a mate while we're at it.” He elbows me in the ribs and takes off down the mountain, leaving me to follow in his wake.

As I speed through the moss-covered trees, I think back to everything that's happened in my life – my new life...

“Edward?” I don’t respond other than to turn my face toward that gentle voice. “Open your eyes, dear.”

My lids flutter open and I glance around, not recognizing the space.  There’s a woman in front of me and she’s holding my hand, rubbing the back of it soothingly.

I shift to pull away from her, but I bump into a wall... more like the inside of a car door.  What the fuck is going on?  I look back at the woman and she reaches her hand toward me, but I twist away again, somehow winding up in the cargo area of the SUV.  How did I just do that?  I barely moved!

“Edward, it’s okay,” the woman says with a warm smile on her lips. “We’re here to help you, darling.”  I’m confused as to why she thinks I need her help. She nods her head toward the behemoth sitting next to me and the tiny chick turned around in the driver's seat, facing us.

Why the fuck am I in a car with these people? Have I been kidnapped? Where the hell are we?

The chick nods toward the big guy and he raises his hands to show he's not trying to threaten me.

“Relax, man. We're not here to hurt you. Just have a seat and Esme will explain.” He waves his hand toward the woman in the front passenger seat.

“Who are you people and where are you taking me?” I'm startled by the crisp sound of my voice, and I suddenly notice the distinct sound of wind as it whirls past our speeding truck. Instead of the typical purr of an engine in a new vehicle, ours sounds like a loud, rumbly tractor-trailer.

The sky is dark outside, but the colors of the landscape and road signs are bright as if it were daytime. I can see leaves on the trees – individually – without having to squint. How fast are we going? I glance past the driver at the speedometer and notice we're approaching 167 miles per hour. Jesus, fuck!

“Calm down, Edward. This is slow for us, trust me.” The chick winks at me in the rear view mirror and the big guy next to me clamps a hand on my shoulder, keeping me from flipping into the back of the truck again.

“Alice, dear, why don't we pull off and get Edward fed. I'm sure he's thirsty.”

Now that she mentions it, my throat is dry and burning. “Yeah, I am, thank you.”

The truck exits the highway and into the parking lot of an abandoned rest stop. I hesitate to get out, but the big guy tugs on my arm and pulls me through his side of the vehicle.


The chick stares blankly into outer space for a moment and then blinks several times, nodding her head. “He'll do fine. I'll get him something.”

Big Guy keeps a tight hold on me, but I don't fight him. It's probably no use to try to get away.

“Edward, dear, this is Emmett,” she says with a smile and gives Big Guy a one-armed hug. He grins down at her but doesn't say anything.

She continues, “My name is Esme. I'm kind of the mother of the family.”

I nod slightly, already having gathered that information from her gentle demeanor and direction of handling me.

The traffic is light on the highway behind us, but I hear a low humming noise, sounds of twigs snapping about a quarter mile beyond the tree line, and a faint tha-dum tha-dum sound... like a heartbeat. I would assume it's coming from Emmett, but it’s resonating from the forest.

The heartbeat picks up in rhythm and a muted squeal starts and stops almost instantaneously. Suddenly, Alice is emerging from the woods with a goddamn deer in her hands. Uhh...

“Here ya go, brother. Bon appetite!” She smiles and tosses the doe across the parking lot, and it lands unceremoniously at my feet. What. The. Fuck?

My throat is scorching, but the taste flooding my mouth is slightly acidic, metallic, bitter. Before I realize it, I'm face deep into the neck of the animal, sucking and slurping the blood from it's body. The tha-dum tha-dum has gone silent.

I drop the deer from my grasp, but it only falls a few inches to the ground. I stare at my hands, freaked the fuck out as to how I managed to crouch down and raise the creature to my face as if it weighed nothing.

The blood that I just ingested – which I can't believe I actually did – has snuffed out the burning sensation in my throat, but I feel the need for more. Why? What's happened to me?

“It's okay, bro,” Emmett says, patting my back approvingly. “Next time, we'll let you take one down yourself.”


“Alright, guys, let's get a move on. We need to be back in San Francisco by tomorrow.”

We climb back into the SUV and speed north, Alice behind the wheel and Emmett by my side.

“Let me ask you something, Edward,” Esme begins, twisting around in her front passenger seat again. “Do you believe in the existence of vampires?”

Esme tells me about my new life – or non-life – and about my new family: her husband, Carlisle, and Alice and Emmett's spouses, Jasper and Rosalie. She explains the changes in my body, the physical abilities I now have. There's some sort of group conversation about the indescribable pain I endured and how long I was probably unconscious, but I tune most of that shit out.

I'm a motherfucking vampire.

I turn away from the chatter and focus my attention outside of the car. The dark forest passes by us in a slight blur, but I can still make out the details of the foliage... or lack there of. There's cacti and boulders, sand and nothing. Where the hell are we?

“We're in southern California, Edward,” Alice chirps. “Near Joshua Tree.”

How did she-?

“I get a vision of what will happen once someone makes a decision. I knew what you were going to ask before you actually spoke.” She glances at me in the rearview mirror, giggles, and then lowers her eyes to the road.

“So, you're psychic or some shit?”

Esme takes in a slight gasp, but doesn't turn toward me. I assume she doesn't approve of my cussing. She really does act like a mother.

Alice giggles and nods.

Well... Shit!

Alice drives us straight through the night to San Francisco. The ride is mostly silent, at least from my standpoint. I don't know these people, and I'm trying to wrap my head around what Esme told me; I'm a vampire.

I still can't believe it.

We pull up to a fancy house, apparently in the Sausalito area, according to Esme. Like this matters to me. I don't give a shit where these people live, but maybe I should since it's where I'll be living. Fuck, it's hard to grasp that this is my new family, that I fucking feed from animals. Shouldn't vampires drink human blood? Maybe I should ask...

“Technically, yes, but our family is different. We don't want to kill humans.”

I glare at Alice, hating that she can read my mind, or see my future, or whatever the hell it is she can do.

I wonder if I have any superpowers.

Emmett corrals me into the house, and I'm greeted by three other vampires – their spouses. Esme's husband, Carlisle, greets me with a warm smile and a manly handshake. Alice's husband, Jasper gives me a welcoming nod, and Emmett's wife, Rosalie, offers a half-assed smile.

Carlisle brings me into his study and proceeds to ask me questions about how I'm feeling, what's running through my head, and do I remember anything about my previous life.

I tell him that I'm not sure how I'm feeling. Confused, anxious, maybe a bit intrigued. It's not every day you discover you've been transformed into some mythical creature and expect to be fucking thrilled about it. I'm nervous about being around humans after my reaction with the deer. I'm worried about if I had a family that will miss me. Esme says that I will never be able to see them again. I can understand why, but a part of me is curious about where I came from. I mean, how old am I? I don't even know my fucking last name!

Esme joins Carlisle and I, and together they explain the dynamics of their family, of the threat of a visit from the Volturi – whoever those douchebags are - and the need to keep me in seclusion for my first year. That part freaks me the fuck out, but I think back to that damn deer, and I realize the importance of staying away from humans unless I'm with someone from my family.

The first few days, they drive me out of town – toward the mountains and valleys – to hunt. My first day, I watch Jasper stalk and take down an elk with relative ease. He leaves it in the brush for me and heads off in another direction to capture his own meal. The next day, Rosalie ravages a mountain lion and snarls at me when I get too close, admiring her stealth and grace as she pounces, attacks, and feeds.

The animal instinct in us is very confusing to deal with; the blinding possessiveness over food is strange and the automatic tensing of my muscles as I prepare to strike my prey. My prey... what happened to food? Cheese burgers and pizza pockets? Tacos and lasagna? I don't even know if I liked that shit in my human life.

By the third day, I've finally mustered enough courage to try this shit out myself. Just let your instincts take over, they say. Yeah, well, it's still a bit unsettling to attack a bear, but once I see first hand how impenetrable our skin is, taking down that fucker is a piece of cake.

Over the next two years, I learn to balance my predatory nature with my human nature. I'm slowly introduced back into society, but always with one of my family members with me. I only ever need to go to Carlisle's hospital from time to time and occasionally to the hardware store. I'm forced to feed regularly, even when I'm not thirsty; It helps with the scorching in my throat while I'm around people.

I quickly learn to stay out of direct sunlight, primarily around humans, to keep our shimmery skin from exposing us. It's kind of a pain in the ass; I really like the sun.

We stay in the San Fran area for another year. Apparently, the Cullens only stay in one place for a few years and then relocate to start over. They've changed their names a few times, forging all new identities, and severing all ties with their former lives to vanish without a trace. Thankfully, they've only adopted this surname and identities five years ago, so we have several more years before I have to get used to being someone else. I hardly know who I am, so it seems extremely difficult to pretend to be someone else.

After being with the Cullens for four years, Carlisle gets a new position at a hospital in Forks, and we move at the end of December. We settle into our new place, a new routine, but the novelty of this new life is starting to wear thin. I'm getting restless, needing something more, something meaningful, but I don't know what that something might be.

We arrive on the edge of town and walk at human speed toward the library. The skies are overcast, but thankfully there’s no rain in the forecast. Jasper keeps stealing sidelong glances at me, measuring my emotions. Normally, this would annoy the shit out of me, but right now, I'm too excited to be going someplace new... even if it isn't traveling the world.

As we reach the library door, I'm practically vibrating with excitement. The musky smell of old books wafts from the slight crack in the door jamb and mixes with the stench of mildewed carpet. We enter and are immediately greeted with a whisper by the librarian behind the desk. Jasper nods hello and heads in her direction.

“Good afternoon, ma'am. My brother and I,” he turns and waves his hand in my direction,”are looking for books on travel. Can you please point us in the right direction?”

The gray-haired woman blinks a few times, then steps from behind the counter and heads toward the far wall of the library. We follow her, but at the same time, I'm taking in all the genres of books – romance, self-improvement, sci-fi... hell, there's even a big display of a popular fictional story of vampires.

“Hey, Jazz... you see this shit?” I scoff and stop to point at the table covered in memorabilia and books.

He laughs and shakes his head.

The librarian shows us a section of dusty shelves chocked full of travel books and magazines. She leaves us and scampers back toward the circulation desk. I collect a few books, Jazz grabs a magazine from a nearby rack, and we head up toward a collection of tables near the front of the library.

I breeze through the books quickly, not finding anything in particular that peaks my interest, and slide them to the side of the table.

“So, what now?” I quietly ask Jasper. He shrugs and turns his magazine in my direction. I take it and look at the article on the page he's faced toward me. “'A Desert Oasis: A Traveler's Guide to Las Vegas'?”

He nods and teases, “No better place to live it up than in Vegas, baby!”

We laugh for a moment and then sit in silence for a while. I'm thumbing through the magazine, scoping out all the ads for resorts and bed and breakfasts, when something odd happens; I hear a woman's voice in my head.

“God, I hate running late.”

I shake my head slightly, trying to clear the sound. A few moments later, I hear the voice again.

“Dumb oaf doesn't even know his own strength.”

What the fuck? I glance over at Jasper, but he's casually glancing at a mother and her daughter checking out books at the circulation desk.

“I hope they have another copy of this...”

I stop moving completely, trying to hone in on where that female voice is coming from.

“Oh. My. God.” The voice pauses for a moment and then continues,”Many people have auburn hair, Bella. Many people have crazy bed-head too.”

Auburn hair? Crazy bed-head? Is that voice talking about me? Is that voice me talking about me? Can vampires go insane?

I turn to Jazz, to see if he's hearing the voice too, but he's staring at me, concerned. “Are you okay, Edward?”

I shake my head slightly and whisper, “I don't know.” I glance around me quickly, only noticing a girl by the desk, but no one close enough for me to hear her words in my head.

“I've got to be delusional.”

I snort. Yeah, uh, more like hallucinating, I think to myself. Jasper looks at me again, perplexed. Turning my attention back to the magazine, I try to block out the voice, but it doesn't help. I hear the voice mutter the word 'Phoenix' and suddenly, I'm getting really anxious.

I know Esme, Alice, and Emmett had found me a few hours outside of Phoenix, but we didn't know if I was from there or not. They took me from the cabin where they found me, not wanting me to wake up alone, confused, and scared. Carlisle had told me that my sire had abandoned me, that he or she was irresponsible for leaving me to fend for myself, and not teaching me to be discreet about my feeding habits. But something always felt as if my new family wasn't telling me the whole truth.

“Are you okay, man? Your nervousness and confusion are hitting me like a freight train...”

“I don't know, Jazz. I'm hearing this voice in my head. A woman's voice.”

“Why am I torturing myself? I've got to be delusional.”

He lifts his head up to scan around the library, then refocuses on me. “I don't see anyone, or smell any other vampires who could possibly infiltrate your thoughts, or anything. There's just a human standing by the desk, but she does appear to be staring at you.”

“At me?”

“It's him, I know it is!”

“Yeah. She looks like she's gonna be sick or something.”

“This can't be real. I must be fucking dreaming.”

I move to turn around to look at her, but my cell phone vibrating in my pocket distracts me. I mash the 'talk' button and whisper into the phone, “Hey, Alice.”

“Edward, I think you need to leave there... now!” Her voice is slightly frantic, but not overly alarmed.

“What's wrong, Alice? What did you see?”

“I don't know. It flickers with different scenarios, but I don't think you want to take a chance of a confrontation in public.”

“What do you mean a 'confrontation'?”

“Just come home now and I will fill you in.” And the line goes dead.

“C'mon, Jazz. Alice says we have to leave now.”

He nods, having already overheard the entire conversation, and we turn to head toward the exit.

“It's him, but why? How is he...? Where did he...?”

As we pass the circulation desk, a young woman is standing in our path, her heartbeat pounding in my ears. I swallow a mouthful of venom as I approach and skirt around her outstretched hand. “Excuse me,” I say to her.

“That's his voice! I'd know it anywhere!”

The girl's breathing becomes erratic, and her pulse races as I pass her, but that's not what causes me to make a beeline for the front doors...

No, that would be the girl I have never met, speaking my name with the same voice I heard in my head.


**The lake mentioned in Chapter 12 is Lake Crescent. See that posting link on the blog for a pic.

Chapter 12

Playlist selection: Here Comes Your Man – The Pixies

 Bella POV

I rub my hands up and down my arms, trying to get some friction, some warmth.  Jesus, it's cold in this room.  I glare at the air conditioner register in the ceiling as it blows cold air into the classroom.  I should have brought a sweater.  It's eighty-four degrees outside, and with the sub-arctic blast pouring from the vents, you'd think it was one hundred and fifty - these Washingtonians don't know what hot is!  This place has nothing on Phoenix. 

I'm pulled from my thoughts of home by the sound of a chair scraping across the linoleum floor.  Two more students file into the classroom and sit down at the next table.  The only seat left in the class is next to me, and I silently pray that someone sits there, needing the body heat to keep me from becoming a Bellacicle. 

I dig into my backpack, looking for a pen and pad of paper to take notes on, when the professor walks in and introduces himself to the class.

"Hi,  everyone. I'm Professor Banner, and welcome to Understanding Change in Natural and Social Systems - section 4055."  He smiles at each of us and pulls several papers from his man-bag. "Let's quickly go over introductions and then we can review the syllabus.  There's a lot for us to cover this semester."

He hands out the syllabi and returns to his spot at the head of our table.  There are only twelve students in the class and two lab tables situated in the center of the room.  The walls are plastered with diagrams and posters of various geological, marine, and botanical themes.  A large aquarium sits on the counter top at the back of the room and bubbles loudly.  It's water is low and a dark, murky green.

Professor Banner informs us that we will be paired up with a lab partner, and together we will be working on assignments and reports based on our research at the Center.

"Stanley?  Newton?  Where are you?" 

Two hands shoot up into the air, and the professor informs them of their new partnership.  Then he continues, "Next group is Mallory and Yorkie."  They both raise their hands and nod at each other in recognition. "Swan and Black?"  I raise my hand up, but notice no one else did. "Black?  Where's Jacob Black?"  Professor Banner glances at the remaining students and opens his mouth to say something else when the classroom door opens and a tall, dark drink of water walks in.  Jesus, God in Heaven, he's hot. 

"Sorry I'm late.  I'm Jake Black."

Oh, Lord.

Jake pulls out the chair next to me, nods hello, and settles in, digging out some pens, highlighters, and a notebook.  I blush furiously when I'm caught staring at his defined biceps from under the taut sleeve of his black tee-shirt.  Oh, yeah, I'm warm now. 

The rest of the class passes by in a blur.  I pretend to pay attention to Professor Banner as he drones on about the laboratory's do's and don't's, the lab report/paper due at the end of the semester, and the mandatory field trips to the forests and waterways around the Olympic Peninsula for specimen collection.  I twiddle a pen between my fingers, imagining how I could "accidentally" drop it onto the floor; then Jake would bend down to pick it up for me at the same time I do, and we'd stare into each other's eyes with unbridled lust and want, and then... 

"... numbers?"

I'm plucked from my daydream by the huskiness of Jake's voice.  He's leaning toward me with a curious expression on his face. 


He laughs. "I said, 'Since we're partners, would it be okay if we exchanged numbers?'"

I stare at him, processing this request, but then I glance down at the pen situated in his left hand... the same left hand that has a gold band on the third finger.  Great.  Mr. Hump-a-licious is married.  Well, maybe it's better this way.  God knows I can't handle any more love interests being hurt right now.  

Jake and I swap numbers, and then he walks me out to my truck.  I ask him to join me for lunch at one of the few restaurants in Forks, but he barks out a sarcastic laugh.  "Trust me, Bella, you don't want to eat at any of those places in town.  Well, maybe the pizza place is tolerable, but I wouldn't attempt the food in any of the other shitholes.  You're better off bringing your own lunch."

I laugh and thank him for his concern about my immune system, tell him I'll swing by my place for a quick bite, and then meet him back here in an hour for our next class.

The University of Washington's Olympic Natural Resource Center is a tiny campus on the outskirts of Forks, Washington.  A long, winding road leads you to the top of the forest covered hill where the facilities are situated.  It's a beautiful, modern campus, but I expected there to be more buildings, students, faculty, traffic... anything.  Instead, there's one single-story building for academics and another for "dorms".  I think my high school's gym would encompass both of these buildings. 

This is not what I had anticipated. 

Forks is not what I had anticipated.  The town is so small that it doesn't have apartment complexes or condos to lease, so I had to resort to finding a privately-owned rental. My place is a small efficiency, created from a remodeled two-story home and came mostly furnished.   I have a large window in the living room/bedroom space that allows plenty of light into my first floor apartment.  Notice I didn't say "sunlight".  There's not much of that here.  The only view from the window is of the wooden privacy fence that lines the property on the west side of the house.  There are a few shrubs against the perimeter and a tall pine tree off to the side.  The space inside the window is the perfect place for Carrumba's cage.  She'll enjoy watching the other birds.   

It's too fucking quiet in this town.  I get lost in my head - my thoughts - which is never a good thing.  I think about Edward and what he would say about living here. Would he like the small town life?  Would he have been happy being surrounded with the dense forests and plethora of insects?  And what about Riley?  Would he have been content with the early closing times of all the businesses?  He was such a night-owl, I don't know how he would have survived here without any nightlife, bars, or all-night diners.  Part of me is not sure how I will make do, either.  

I realize now that I should have Googled that shit before I accepted my grad school offer in Washington.    

Needless to say, Renee did not take the news well.  She cried, saying that Charlie and I were all she had left since the Masens died and she couldn't stand the thought that I'd leave her too.  She kept making me feel extremely guilty for moving so far away, but I needed to escape, to make a drastic change in my life.  I couldn't do it in Phoenix with the heart-wrenching memories of Edward and Riley all around me.  I had to leave.

Thankfully, Charlie agreed with my decision.  He understood my need to change things.  Although his haste to sell the Masens' house had caused a rift between us for a while, I knew it was something that needed to be done.  But it didn't lessen the sting of having to part with it.  I had to loosen my grasp on the physical items that were left behind when they died and focus on my future while still holding tight to their memories. There's no way I could keep their house if I was planning to start my life over in another part of the country.  I boxed up most of Edward's things and packed them into my truck to bring with me.  The rest of the house's furnishings were sold with the house.  The day of the closing was the day I left Phoenix.  It was time to close one door and open another.

My dad practically demanded that he drive to Washington with me and fly home once I was settled into my apartment, but I didn't think I could have dealt with his less than optimal ability to handle any potential emotional breakdowns from me.  Leaving my home, driving thousands of miles away to live all by myself was not something that I was really ready for, regardless of my stubborn insistence that I could handle it.  Thankfully, Angela volunteered to ride with me.  We convinced Charlie that it would be a girl's road trip and we'd be squeeing and gossiping the whole way, and he finally agreed to let Angela take his place as long as she allowed him and Renee to buy her an airplane ticket home. 

It took us three and a half days of driving in that old truck to reach Forks. 

To say it was utter culture shock as we arrived in town would be an understatement.  The trip up the 101 was scenic and very relaxing, but we both expected a larger community than the one that greeted us: logging trucks, mom-n-pop shops, and only one traffic light.  A large, cheery 'Welcome to Forks' sign was posted directly across the two-laned highway from a sketchy landing strip.  Angela's eyes widened, and she shrieked, "Oh, shit!  Charlie didn't book a flight to Phoenix from here, did he?  There's elk on the runway!"

"No, calm down." I laughed. "You leave from Sea-Tac."

Relieved, Angela grabbed the directions from the benchseat between us and navigated us to my new home.  We unloaded the truck, and Angela unpacked some of my boxes while I ran up to the Thriftway grocery/hardware store in town to grab some food for the week. 

We cried off and on for the next thirty-six hours, sad to be separated by so many miles, heart-broken at the circumstances that led to this situation, and anxious of our unknown futures.  I didn't want her to go, but I didn't need her to stay; I needed to do this.  

Angela left a few days ago to fly back home to Phoenix, and I cried the whole way to and from the airport.  

Now, I truly am alone.  I've only been here for a week, but I already miss Phoenix.

After I make a quick lunch at my place, I scramble into my truck and head back toward campus. 

Jake is sitting on a bench under the patio overhang when I pull up into the Center's parking lot.  We chat for a few minutes before heading to our second class together.  There are only two Colleges within the univeristy that are situated at the Center: the College of Forest Resources and College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences.  My program is housed in the former; Jake's, the latter.  He and I have several core courses that we share, but the specialized classes are separate.

"I hope you took my advice and stayed away from those gourmet gastropubs in town," he yells across the lot.  I nod, smiling, and hoist my backpack up higher on my shoulder.  "Good.  I don't want to deal with a lab partner who's moaning and groaning all afternoon from pains of dysentery."

I laugh and we make small talk as we enter a new classroom in the academics building. He tells me he's lived here all of his life, and being from a small fishing village on the La Push Reservation, he wanted to pursue marine conservation and industries for his native people.  When he asks why I chose the forest program, I just tell him that I always had a special place in my heart for nature.  I know my explanation is vague, and he quirks an eyebrow at me, silently urging me to tell him more, but I don't want to explain Edward and reopen those wounds right now. 

I started seeing a therapist a few months after I began my freshman year at UA.  I only saw her a few times and was discharged from her care until the incident with Riley.  I started seeing her again, but she forced me to revisit that dark time in my life after Edward died, and after four sessions I refused to go back.  I'm better off forcing those memories from my mind and pushing forward with my life.

For the next several weeks, I focus on my studies and quickly learning that Jake was right when it came to the culinary life of Forks.  He introduces me to his wife, Leah,   when she drops him off at the coffee house to go over our lab reports before class.  His car is broken down, and Leah needs the car to go to work.  She's a hotel manager in Port Angeles.  

"Bella, it's nice to meet you. I've heard so much about you."  Her smile appears genuine as she extends her hand through the driver's side window to shake mine.

I smile and tell her the same and that I feel like I've known her all my life.  We both glance over at Jake - who looks a bit sheepish - as he climbs out of the passenger seat.

"What can I say?  I love my wife... and my friends."

Leah and I "aww" simultaneously and then laugh when Jake begins to blush. 

A week before midterms, Leah, Jake, and Leah's friend, Rebecca, invite me to join them on a day trip to Port Townsend's Annual Fall Festival.  Since I haven't taken any trips to the area yet, I figure it would be a great opportunity to get a lay of the land.  Besides, I've been so bogged down with studying and writing lab reports that I can definitely use a day of mind-numbing sightseeing.

They pick me up at my apartment and we set off north on the 101.  In the past three months, I've only been as far north as Sappho and south toward the Hoh Rainforest for specimen collection.  The Olympic mountains aren't easily seen from Forks, but further up the highway, their snow-covered peaks rise from the landscape and stand regally as the backdrop to the terrain of the Pacific Northwest.  

About an hour into our drive, we arrive at a beautiful lake.   Small waterfalls trickle from the hills along the road side as the asphalt snakes along the southern edge of the lake, right along the waterline.  I practically beg for Jake to pull over onto the shoulder so I can take some pictures.  Rebecca points out a small viewing area up ahead, and we stop and climb out of the car, cameras in hand. 

Rebecca lives in Florida and has never been to the area to visit Leah and her new husband.  At least I'm not the only one who looks like a tourist, snapping pictures left and right.  She and I rush toward a rocky outcrop near the far end of the parking area and climb through the small grouping of trees that hang over the lake.

The water of the lake is fairly clear, and I'm amazed at the beauty of the mountains jutting right out from it.  We capture several pictures of the scenery and Jake asks another couple who has stopped to admire the view to take a few pictures of the four of us.  Finally, we climb back into the car and continue our trek north.

We stop in Port Angeles to drop off something at Leah's hotel, and then we are headed east toward Seattle.  Jake pulls off at a roadside diner with a giant statue of a bear and a logger in the parking lot.

"You'll love this place, Bella," Jake says, as he winks at me over Leah's head.

"Welcome to Smitty's!  Sit your butts down here," the middle-aged waitress barks with a smile, pointing to the counter seats.

We plop down on the barstools and glance around the restaurant, mouths gaped and eyes wide.  There's so much shit on the walls.  And when I say 'shit', I mean dollar bills, pictures, knick knacks...  it's a decorator's worst nightmare!  It's kind of cool, actually.  Jake proceeds to tell us about stopping here while with his family on trips to Seattle.  He orders four combos and we each give our drink request and return to reading the thousands of dollar bills and notes littering the walls and ceiling.

"Look!  This one says 1972!"

"Oh my God!  Bill Clinton ate here!  Look at this picture!" 

"Here!  Let's put one up!"  Leah digs out a dollar bill from her purse and we each take turns signing our names and Jake completes it with the date of our visit.  He climbs on the barstool and stands above the counter to tack it to the ceiling.

We devour our gigantic burgers and head back out toward Port Townsend. The Fall Festival is packed with vendors and patrons.  The overcast sky builds up to heavy thunder clouds and suddenly we are being pelted with large rain drops.  We make a mad dash toward the car, but as we reach the vehicle - parked at the edge of the nearby woods - I get that creepy, unsettling feeling again.  I haven't had that sensation since the night Riley died.  Almost as fast as I feel it, it's gone.  I quickly brush off the thoughts of Riley and settle into my seat, joining in the loud chorus of singing to the songs from Leah's iPod.

Jake and Leah meet up with me a few times outside of school for coffee and once for dinner at 'Chateau de Swan', as Jake likes to call my place.  Most of my time since the fall festival has been focused on school and our research project.  My parents fly up the week of Thanksgiving and stay at one of the local motels.  Renee insists on taking me out for dinner one evening, but I refuse and butter her up by telling her how much I miss cooking with her.  Of course, she knows this is total bullshit since I hate watching her sample everything we make while we're in the kitchen.

The second week of December, Jake and I schedule several study times at the Forks Public Library, to make final revisions of our joint term research paper.  I meet him at a table near the far corner of the library, books and papers strewn about the flat surface.

"Jake!  You started without me?"

He smiles and shakes his head as he rummages through his backpack. "No, I'm trying to find that map of the Elwah River - where we took that sample of sediment."

I plop my bag down on the table and search through my papers, grumbling when I can't find my copy of the map either.  After several moments of rooting through my bag, I wave a paper in the air and present it to Jake, smiling broadly at my find.  "Found it!"

He snatches it from my grasp and the map tears right down the middle of our specimen collection site. "Ah, shit!  Sorry, Bella."

"That's okay, Jake.  I'll just go to the circulation desk and request another copy.  This is where I got it from anyway. You just work on calculating the results from the water samples while I'm getting the map, alright?  We've got to get that shit done today."

He nods and turns his eyes back down to his notes, scribbling figures in the column of the page.

I glance at the map in my hand as I walk up to the circlulation desk.  The paper is ripped nearly in two, but could easily be fixed with some clear tape, but I'd rather not submit a torn topographical map with my research paper.  I want this to look professional, not like I'm back in my undergrad classes again.

As I round the corner made by the shelves of sci-fi books, I spot something that stops me dead in my tracks.  A man about my age - maybe younger - is sitting at a table near the DVD rentals.  He's facing away from me and his clothes are non-descript, but that's not what halts my feet from moving forward.  It's his hair.

I immediately blow it off as a coincidence.  Many people have auburn hair, Bella, I tell myself.  Many people have crazy bed-head hair, too.  He seems to be casually glancing through a magazine, not really paying attention to the articles.  A gorgeous blond man is sitting next to him, looking bored out of his mind.  He's not reading any books or magazines, but his eyes are boring holes into the man with the auburn hair.

I turn my attention back to the librarian at the desk and request a new copy of the particular map in my hand.  She takes my torn paper and disappears into the back office.  As I'm waiting, I chance a glance behind me toward the man.  His friend is staring at me with a confused look on his face, but the man with aurburn hair is just turning back toward the front windows. In that split second as he's turning away from me, I recognize his profile.

I've got to be delusional.

Staring at the back of his head, I try to convince myself that this man has lived in Forks all his life, that he's never been to Phoenix, never grew up with a girl named Bella, never died at the hands of a rabid animal on a camping trip with his family.  But there's something that's gnawing at me, clawing its nails through my head and my heart to verify that it's not him.  It's not possible!  Why am I torturing myself?  But as I tilt my head a little to the left, I can see a portion of his profile and I know without a doubt that it's him.

I've got to be delusional, I repeat.

My heart tells my legs to run to him, wrap my arms around his neck, and kiss him desperately, but my feet stay cemented to the floor.

It's him, I know it is, I tell myself.  But how? Why?  This can't be real.  I must be fucking dreaming. He's the same, but he's not.  Different.  His skin is very pale and his posture is rigid.  He's barely moving, barely breathing, and I'm wondering if he's holding his breath. 

I've got to be delusional.

He raises a cell phone to his ear, mumbling quietly into the phone.  His voice is so low that I can't hear it, and he runs his hand through his hair.  His wrist...!

It is him!  But why?

The blond next to him whips his head to look at me and glares.  The magazine drops loudly onto the table and they stand to leave.   

My body is frozen in place, my brain not able to process what I'm seeing.   How is he...?  Where did he...?

They move toward the exit but they must pass the circulation desk - and me - on their way out.  His face is trained to the floor as they approach me, so I reach out a shaky hand to gain his attention.  I need to touch him, feel him, to know he's really here -alive- and not a ghost.

"Excuse me," he mutters, glancing up at me and trying to skirt around my trembling hand.   

That's his voice! I'd know it anywhere! 

I feel like my body is going to crumble, my knees are wobbly and I grasp onto the counter next to me for purchase.  A sob is fighting to escape my throat, but I'm not sure there is air in my lungs to release it.  

Tears form and tumble from my eyes as my suspicion is confirmed - that's the unforgettable face of the boy I've loved my entire life.

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or it's character names - those belong to Stephenie Meyer. Bittersweet Irony and it's characterizations, backgrounds, and plot lines belong to SweetVenom69. No copying, translation, or reproduction is allowed without my written authorization.
© 2010 SweetVenom69.