Chapter 14 Confessions
Bella didn’t say anything for a long while. I couldn’t quite gauge her reaction. Her heart had quickened initially, but was now pumping at a normal pace. She had taken a sharp intake of breath, but now her breathing was steady and even. At first I took her loss of words to be terror, rather than wonder. But she did not flinch, did not scream, did not make any sort of movement at all. She just stared at me wide-eyed, her expression unreadable. It was making me feel very self-conscious. A part of me wanted to turn and run away in shame. But leaving her alone in the woods was not an option.
I stood very still. I feared if I moved I might startle her. I didn’t want to see the proof of her terror. I could not look directly in her eyes. I was positive that in them, I would see only revulsion and disgust. So I waited, shifting my gaze to her trembling hands, towards the ground by her feet, watching locks of her hair sway in the light breeze- everywhere except where I wanted to look most. I was only too aware of my own unnaturalness. I was mentally preparing myself for the inevitable rejection.
Several minutes passed by before she moved. And it wasn’t in the direction I was anticipating. She moved… towards
me. Not away. She was coming closer
? My miscalculation was both welcomed, yet baffling at the same time. I instinctively glanced up to finally meet her eye. But the effort was unrewarded for there was nothing I could conclude about her demeanor.
She took a few tentative steps towards me and paused. She tilted her head to the side before she continued closer. She was very near now. I could reach out and touch her which was my only desire, though I resisted with extreme care and effort. She circled around me, and I could sense her scrutiny. When she was facing me once again, she smiled. She smiled
? And with her eyes still locked on mine, she turned her body and wandered further into the clearing before she looked away. She stopped and turned her head around, nodding it towards the meadow, motioning for me to follow her.
Bella had walking to the very center of the meadow and then turned to me before she dropped to her knees. I sat down as well, a few feet away from her. We gazed at each other for a moment and so far, she had shown nothing to indicate fear to warrant my feelings of inadequacies. I wanted her to know everything, and I had the impulse to let her see me, all of me.
I slowly unbuttoned my shirt to reveal more of my skin to her. I pulled the fabric aside to reveal my chest and watched as a million tiny spectrums reflected off my cells and danced over her face in the sunlight. She gasped and whispered one word, “Diamonds.”
My lips rose slightly at her remark. Diamonds
. What a perfect comparison. Cold, hard, and sparkly. But diamonds were a girl’s best friend, so they say… so that was encouraging. I tried to relax. I laid back in the grass to watch the lazy patches of cloud sliding over the sky. I closed my eyes and waited for Bella to say something with a little more bearing. In my nervousness I sang to myself.
Bella must have noticed.
“Your lips are trembling.”
“Sorry, I am just singing to myself,” I admitted. “Nervous habit.”
Bella would not relax; instead she sat with her head resting on her knees, all the time refusing to look away from me. I wish she would just say something! It had been over an hour since I’d first stepped in from the tree line and I still had no idea what Bella thought of my peculiar skin condition. I continued to mumble words to my favorite ballad, Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls.
Every once and a while I would hear Bella shift positions. I had gotten used to this. Humans repositioned themselves for comfort, to flex their muscles, to prevent blood pooling. So when I heard Bella stir, every few minutes, I didn’t even think anything of it. That’s why I was so startled when suddenly, I felt her warm fingertip graze my hand. My eyes flew open in shock. She released her breath, I’d just realized she’d been holding. She looked, happy
Could it be? Was this actually possible? Once again I had misjudged Bella. She was taking this so, well… so unnaturally well. I smiled in embarrassment when she caught me looking. If it were possible, I would have blushed. So many times I had wanted to reach out and touch her, but afraid of what her reaction might be. And now here she was touching me of her own free will.
“I don’t scare you?” I asked curiously. I tried to ask her lightly, but I really needed to know. This last hour, plus has been pure tormented silence. She still looked hesitant.
“No more than usual.” I should have known Bella would be so cool about this. She never had the correct reactions to what normal people would have found extremely frightening. This was one of the biggest rules of being a vampire, to stay out of sun because people would notice we were different. Keep our existence a secret at all costs. This was instilled in me for almost nine decades now. It was disconcerting to feel completely at ease for breaking that very rule this day.
But still, accidents did happen. Occasionally somebody would catch a glimpse of us in sunlight. Even on really cloudy days, the sun could still peak through for just a moment and give us away. That is why my family had chosen the Olympic Peninsula as our home. It was rainy over 300 days of the year, usually. Luckily people in general, are so stubborn to accept things they don’t understand… that even if they did catch the briefest of peaks of us in the sunlight, they would undoubtedly convince themselves it was a trick of the eye. Perhaps someone’s watch had caught the sun just right and reflected on to us, they would think.
In reality, humans should fear us. There were other covens that dabbled in vegetarianism from time to time, but humans were our natural food supply. People should fear me. Bella should fear me.
I flashed her my bright, razor sharp teeth towards her, trying to illicit some sort of reaction. Nothing. Instead she moved closer. Closer
? This was so confusing! Everything was the opposite of how I was used to people acting around me.
Bella spread her fingers and caressed my forearm with her fingertips. It felt amazing. I closed my eyes to fully enjoy the moment. “Do you mind?” she asked.
“No.” Thousands of electric pulses were shooting up my arm at her touch. Her fingers were so warm and soft, and her trembling touches had me dizzy with desires unknown to me. I felt my very core warming at her touch. She continued up my forearm and the soft tickle claimed my entire concentration. “You can’t imagine how that feels,” I sighed.
She took that as an invitation to explore further up my arm. I felt a new sense of dizziness, as she found the inside of my elbow, full of sensitive nerve endings. Now her other hand was on me. She tried to turn my hand over. Realizing her wish, I obliged. I was only too eager to please her. I flipped it over in haste, desperate to know what she’d do next. But for a brief moment she froze and her heart skipped a beat.
I thought I could interpret the change. She wasn’t ready for all
of me quite yet, I didn’t think. I had just shown the love of my life that I glitter in the sun. Perhaps it was too early to demonstrate all my other super-human abilities quite yet. I looked to her quickly to access her expression. Her eyes looked leary, but her body still looked at ease, so I wasn’t sure.
“Sorry.” She turned to look at me. “It’s too easy to be myself with you.”
The corner of her lip went up into a half-smile. She picked up my hand and held it close to her face. She rolled it back and forth, and watched as it sparkled. She was squinting in concentration, studying every angle. I wished I knew what she was thinking. It was a new annoyance having to ask every time. Of all the times I wished I didn’t have this gift, and the burden of it all. How ironic that it should fail me when I wanted it most.
“Tell me what you’re thinking.” I demanded softly. “It’s still strange for me, not knowing.”
“You know, the rest of us feel that way all the time.” She avoided the question. Her eyebrows were raised in challenge.
“It’s a hard life.” A relatively normal life until I came into the picture
. “But you didn’t tell me.”
She took a deep breath before she spoke. “I was
wishing I could know what you were thinking…” she trailed off. So it wasn’t just me frustrated about wanting to know more.
“And?” I urged when she didn’t continue.
“I was wishing that I could believe that you were real. And I was wishing that I wasn’t afraid.”
. Instant dread. My stomach fell. So she was
afraid. It was my worst fear realized. Up until now, I knew that she should feel afraid, wishing she would put our unhealthy affair into perspective. But now to hear that she really was afraid, I wanted to take it all back. It didn’t make me feel any better. I realized it was the opposite that I wanted to be true.
To respond to her first wish, I also covered the last. “I don’t want you to be afraid.”
“Well, that’s not exactly the fear I meant, though that’s certainly something to think about.”
Something to think about? Is she joking
? What did she mean? Help! Would this frustration never end? Would this ever get any easier? But she didn’t clarify. My yearning to know was overwhelming. I shot up very closely to look directly in her face, trying to read anything I could from her eyes. Maybe I could dazzle
the answer out of her. It’s worked before.
“What are you afraid of then?”
She didn’t answer. She was a master of torture in that regard. I was getting impatient waiting for her reply. I started to hyperventilate, my breath cold and hard in her face. But she denied me a response.
And then she leaned closer, closing her eyes. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Her breath was intoxicating. My throat burned at her proximity. The mouth watered with venom reflexively. And she was still coming. A deeper demon inside roared with an unquenched craving. Just a little taste…
! She was too close! Get away
! I clenched my jaw, biting down on the teeth that very nearly reached their mark. Fighting the temptation that was dangling in front of me. The rabbit willingly hopping into the fox hole.
In an instant, I was back at the tree line, several yards away from Bella. She had snapped out of it and was looking around frantically until her eyes met mine. She looked abhorred.
“I’m… sorry… Edward,” she whispered. She looked hurt, embarrassed, her cheeks rosy with mortification.
“Give me a moment,” I called to her.
She sat very still waiting for me to collect myself.
It took a lot of effort to regain control. But finally, I walked back towards her, eventually sitting again, this time, several paces away. I watched her carefully. I took two deep breaths, trying to suck in her very aura. Pummeling myself in her scent. Torturing myself with the draw of her blood. It was calming and spine-tingling at the same time. I wanted to immerse myself in her appeal.
She watched, waited, her hurt expression causing me internal turmoil. I smiled, apologetically. “I am so very sorry.” For so many reason that I can’t even mention
. “Would you understand what I meant if I said I was only human?”
She nodded once. It seemed all she was capable of.
My smile became more pronounced. “I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I?” I leaned towards her. ‘Everything about me invites you in – my voice, my face, even my smell
, “I huffed. “As if I need any of that!”
I stood up and took off running, circulating the meadow in milliseconds, stopping at the tree line. “As if you could outrun me.”
I reached up and grabbed a thick branch above my head and tore it from the tree. I held it up, demonstrating my strength, and then hurled it against the trunk of another tree. Then I rushed to where she stood. “As if you could fight me off.”
And then I saw it. True fear plastered all over her face. Her face was white, as if the blood had drained from her head.
“Don’t be afraid,” I lamented. “I promise…” that word did not seem strong enough. “I swear not to hurt you.” You are the only woman I’ve ever loved, and you believe in me. Why can’t I believe in myself
“Don’t be afraid,” I repeated softly, pleading now. I slowly edged towards her, worried she would flinch away from me. But she accepted my approach.
“Please forgive me. I can control myself.” As unfathomable as it seemed, I had come very close so many times to losing it. But I had resisted. Every moment was easier. “You caught me off guard. But I’m on my best behavior now.”
And then I gave her a moment to steady her heart and breathing. She still had not responded, verbally or otherwise. This was going to be a very long day.
Chapter 14 Confessions
“I’m not thirsty today, honestly,” I winked.
Bella laughed nervously but I was not reassured.
‘Are you all right?” I consoled, reaching to take her hand in mine.
She glanced down at our hands. I wondered if this touch was welcomed or not. Her silence was causing me despair. She looked back up to me, reservedly. I willed her to give me some indication she was alright. And her response was answered just as silently. She looked back to our hands and began retracing the lines with the tip of her finger. The life line was by far the most pronounced. And then she looked back to me and smiled… only slightly… but it was there.
Relief washed over me. And my answering smile was fierce with gratitude for her forgiveness. “So where were we, before I behaved so rudely?
“I honestly can’t remember.”
So my smile has not lost its dazzling effect
, I rejoiced.
“I think we were talking about why you were afraid, besides the obvious reason,” I reminded her.
“Oh right.” But she did not say anything more.
“Well?” I prompted.
Bella averted her eyes again, circling her fingers absentmindedly across my palm. She did not answer right away. Bella, please
! She really did know exactly how to make me suffer, waiting for her response. I wished she would just look at me! I’ve got to know what she is thinking! PLEASE
! I urged silently.
I sighed impatiently. “How easily frustrated I am.”
Her eyes flew back to mine at my words. “I was afraid…” she finally began, “…because, for, well, obvious reasons, I can’t stay with you.” She can’t stay. I can’t leave. What a sado-romantic nightmare
! “And I’m afraid,” she continued, “that I’d like to stay with you, much more than I should.” She looked back down, her expression pained.
“Yes,” I agreed. “That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me. That’s not really in your best interest.” That was an understatement. Me, the monster of flesh and too much blood.
I sighed, “I should have left long ago. I should leave now. But I don’t know if I can.” And those words were never truer. I can’t leave. I won’t
. I’ve got to stay here!
“I don’t want you to leave,” she agonized.
“Which is exactly why I should.” I ought to leave, get out of her life. I couldn’t do it, but I knew damned well I should.
“I’m glad,” she cheered.
“Don’t be!” I withdrew my hand. I held her gaze with severity. “It’s not only your company I crave! Never forget that!” Never forget that I am more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else.” The demon inside stirred, and again I was reminded that we were here in this forest, alone, and no human on earth knew Bella was in here with me. Stop it! Don’t think about that
! I glanced desperately into the woods, preparing to flee before the demon could win this battle. The internal conflict that raged within- and Bella the catalyst.
Bella pondered that for a moment. “I don’t think I understand what you mean - by that last part anyway.
She still doesn’t get why I am more hazardous to her in particular? “How do I explain…? And without frightening you again. Hmmmm.”
I placed my hand back in hers and my confidence waivered. She clasped her hand around mine and a wave of heat, nothing to do with the temperature of her hand, shot up my arm. “That’s amazingly pleasant, the warmth.” I breathed.
I took a moment to consider the best way to explain how difficult it was to ignore the allurement she held for me.
“You know how everyone enjoys different flavors?” I volunteered. “Some people love chocolate ice cream, others prefer strawberry?”
She nodded, but recoiled subconsciously.
“Sorry about the food analogy – I couldn’t think of another way to explain.”
She smiled, and I was relieved to be forgiven.
I continued. “You see, every person smells different, has a different essence.” Okay, maybe this was the wrong way to explain
. I tried a new approach. “If you locked an alcoholic in a room full of stale beer, he’d gladly drink it. But he could resist, if he wished to, if he were a recovering alcoholic.” I paused to let her consider that. “Now let’s say you placed in that room a glass of hundred-year-old brandy, the rarest, finest cognac - and filled the room with its warm aroma – how do you think he would fare then?”
I stared deeply into her eyes, willing her to understand. To see once and for all the near gravitational pull her blood’s effect had on me. But she made no indication any of it had sunk in. Surely Bella had tasted neither stale beer nor fine cognac in her life. She had no basis for comparison.
“Maybe that’s not the right comparison. Maybe it would be too easy to turn down the brandy. Perhaps I should have made our alcoholic a heroin addict instead.” Even people who’d never used narcotics had some comprehension of that.
She considered that briefly. “So what you are saying is, I’m your brand of heroine?” she asked jokingly. Oh Bella, darling, this is no joke
But instead of getting upset, I smiled quickly to hide my agony of her revelation. “Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroine.” I was at least glad the tension had ebbed.
“Does that happen often?” she wondered.
First time for me
, I thought. Never before you waltzed… or more appropriately
, tripped into my world
. The only one in my family who could empathize was Emmett. I recalled his memory of the ill-fated woman hanging her laundry in the field, the smell of seasoned apples in the air (see page 47, Midnight Sun). And I glanced at the treetops in pained realization that Bella and I were in a similar type setting. Alone in a field, the warm breeze swirling the aroma of wildflowers- intensifying Bella’s already floral scent. My mouth watered at the thought. Stop it! How many times do I have to say that to myself
“I spoke to my brothers about it,” I hesitated. “To Jasper, every one of you is much the same. He’s the most recent to our family. It’s a struggle for him to abstain at all. He hasn’t had the time to grow sensitive to the differences in smell, in flavor.” I immediately regretted adding that last part.
“Sorry,” I deplored.
“I don’t mind,” she insisted. “Please don’t worry about offending me, or frightening me, or whichever. That’s the way you think. I can understand, or I can try to at least. Just explain however you can.”
. Bella was always more concerned with others’ comfort over her own… even mine. I took a deep breath for self-assurance.
“So Jasper wasn’t sure if he’d ever come across someone who was as…” I stopped myself from saying delicious
, “… appealing
as you are to me. Which makes me think not. Emmett has been on the wagon longer, so to speak, and he understood what I meant. He says twice, for him, once stronger than the other.”
“And for you?”
She took a steady breath. “What did Emmett do?”
My grimace was involuntary. I had intentionally omitted his experience so that I wouldn’t have to relive the memory in front of Bella. I clenched my hands into fists and turned away hastily. Please, Bella, don’t make me elaborate.
“I guess I know,” she said finally.
Whew! Bless you, Bella
. I was sure if she had insisted, the knowledge would have made the terror all too real for her. For both of us. The myth has too much substance.
I looked back to her, “Even the strongest of us fall off the wagon, don’t we?”
“What are you asking?” She asked sharply. “My permission?” But her voice lightened, almost sorrowful. “I mean, is there no hope then?”
“No, no!” I repented. “Of course there’s hope! I mean, of course I won’t…” I couldn’t say the words. I looked meaningfully into her eyes. You must understand
! “It’s different for us. Emmett… these were strangers he happened across. It was a long time ago, and he wasn’t as practiced, as careful as he is now.”
But I fell silent. A lot of good ‘practice’ has done for me, though. It has been decades since my rebellion away from Carlisle. Yet, here I am, struggling with my very existence. The existence that would be completely meaningless without Bella.
“So if we’d met… oh, in a dark alley or something…” she let the question hang.
The truth would be terrifying
. “It took everything I had not to jump up in the middle of that class full of children and-" I looked away, ashamed. “When you walked past me, I could have ruined everything Carlisle has built for us, right then and there.” And you have no idea how close I came
. “If I hadn’t been denying my thirst for the last, well, too many years, I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself.” I scowled, looking away.
When she didn’t immediately react, I glanced back at her. She was surely reliving that day, as I was, as well as reassessing the sequence of events. I felt remorse at our shared remembrance.
“You must have thought I was possessed.”
“I couldn’t understand why. How you could hate me so quickly…” she gulped a sob.
“To me, it was like you were some kind of demon, summoned straight from my own personal hell to ruin me.” To ruin what I had with my family
. “The fragrance coming off your skin… I thought it would make me deranged that first day. In that one hour, I thought of a hundred different ways to lure you from the room with me, to get you alone. And I fought them each back, thinking of my family, what I could do to them. I had to run out, to get away before I could speak the words that would make you follow.”
I watched her expression turn from confusion to shock.
“You would have come,” I said, certain.
“Without a doubt,” she breathed calmly.
I frowned down at my hands. Recounting that first agonized day to Bella was nearly as difficult emotionally as was the actually day was physically.
“And then, as I tried to rearrange my schedule in a pointless attempt to avoid you, you were there – in that close, warm little room, the scent maddening. I so very nearly took you then. There was only one other frail human there – so easily dealt with.”
Bella shuddered visibly.
“But I resisted. I don’t know how. I forced myself not
to wait for you, not
to follow you from the school. It was easier outside, when I couldn’t smell you anymore, to think clearly, to make the right decision. I left the others near home – I was too ashamed to tell them how weak I was, they only knew something was very wrong - and then went straight to Carlisle at the hospital to tell him I was leaving.”
Bella’s eyes widened in surprise.
“I traded cars with him – he had a full tank of gas and I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t dare to go home, to face Esme. She wouldn’t have let me go without a scene. She would have tried to convince me that it wasn’t necessary…” But she was wrong. It was indeed
“By the next morning, I was in Alaska. I spent two days there, with some old acquaintances… but I was homesick. I hated knowing I’d upset Esme, and the rest of them, my adopted family. In the pure air of the mountains it was hard to believe you were so irresistible. I convinced myself it was weak to run away. I’d dealt with temptation before, not of this magnitude, not even close, but I was strong. Who were you, an insignificant little girl…” I grinned because how so much has changed since then. Bella was very
significant to me now. “… to chase me from the place I wanted to be? So I came back…
“I took precautions, hunting, feeding more than usual before seeing you again. I was sure that I was strong enough to treat you like any other human. I was arrogant about it.
“It was unquestionably a complication that I couldn’t simply read your thoughts to know what your reaction was to me. I wasn’t used to having to go to such circuitous measures, listening to your words in Jessica’s mind… her mind isn’t very original, and it was annoying to have to stoop to that. And then I couldn’t know if you really meant what you said. It was all extremely irritating.
“I wanted you to forget my behavior that first day, if possible, so I tried to talk to you like I would with any person. I was eager, actually, hoping to decipher some of your thoughts. But you were too interesting, I found myself caught up in your expression… and every now and then you would stir the air with your hand or your hair, and the scent would stun me again…
“Of course, then you were nearly crushed to death in front of my eyes. Later I thought about a perfectly good excuse for why I acted at that moment – because if I hadn’t saved you, if your blood had been spilled there in front of me, I don’t think I could have stopped myself from exposing us for what we are. But I only thought of that excuse later. At the time, all I could think was, ‘Not her
I took a break from my monologue. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, trying to taste the air for Bella’s reaction. It was hard for me to admit all of this to Bella. To divulge the anguish I felt. At the same time a weight was lifted. I was surprised to feel the relief that came having just unburdened myself with this information to her.
Bella spoke then, finally, her voice soft and raspy. “In the hospital?” Of course. The first time I broke a promise to her.
I quickly looked to her. “I was appalled. I couldn’t believe I had put us in danger after all, put myself in your power – you of all people. As if I needed another motive to kill you.” I shuddered at the memory, as did Bella. “But it had the opposite effect. I fought with Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper when they suggested that now was the time… the worst fight we’ve ever had. Carlisle sided with me… and Alice.” My face twisted as I recalled that Alice had always been on my side. And yet I had refused her Bella, whom she admittedly loved, though not in the same way I loved her. She’d backed me, even argued with Jasper, her eternal companion. I owed her big time. I must repay Alice in the biggest way I know how.
“Esme told me to do whatever I had to in order to stay.” I shook my head because Esme did not know what she was asking of me then. “All that next day I eavesdropped on the minds of everyone you spoke to, shocked that you kept your word. I didn’t understand you at all. But I knew that I couldn’t become more involved with you. I did my very best o stay far from you as possible.” And Alice had been right at how im
possible that proved to be for me. I frowned again at my lack of appreciation I had shown my sister. “And every day the perfume of your skin, your breath, your hair… it hit me as hard as the very first day.
“And for all that,” I concluded, my eyes gentle, “I’d have fared better if I had exposed us all that first moment, than if now, here – with no witnesses and nothing to stop me – I were to hurt you.”
Bella looked at me with her soft endearing eyes. “Why?” she asked. Because I know you now, silly girl. Because I love you!
“Isabella.” I said very seriously. Too seriously. I ruffled her hair playfully to lighten the mood. “Bella, I couldn’t live with myself if I ever hurt you. You don’t know how it’s tortured me.” I looked down. She was everything to me now. Everything I could imagine. Everything and much, much more.
“The thought of you, still, white, cold… to never see you blush scarlet again, to never see that flash of intuition in your eyes when you see through my pretenses… it would be unendurable. You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever
Bella did not answer at first. She looked down at our hands, still in intrinsic embrace. “You already know how I feel,” she replied finally. “I’m here… which roughly translated, means I would rather die than stay away from you.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself
She frowned, “I’m an idiot.”
“You are an idiot,” I joked. And our eyes met and we laughed freely now. Tension suspended, comfort ours.
“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…” I whispered.
She looked away, sheepishly. How adorable
! “What a stupid lamb,” she sighed.
“What a sick, masochistic lion.” I looked over the treetops towards the sun as it started its descent in the sky. Bella repelled the darkness for me. She stopped the pain I had been afraid to admit to her. And here she was, telling me now that it was all right.