Chapter 14 Confessions
For the briefest of moments, my imagination permitted me to believe that somehow, some way… this could be happening. But how could this ever work? I had never experienced anything like this with a woman before, with any
one. The feeling was new and foreign to me. I wasn’t quite sure where these new yearnings would take me or if I dared to explore them further, risking harm to this fragile little girl, my Bella.
“Why…? Bella interrupted my uneasy contemplation.
There was hesitation in her expression. Don’t let me
stop her. I smiled in encouragement for her to continue. But she did not right away. So irksome.
“Yes?” I urged.
She shied away from me slightly. Whatever she was about to ask was clearly making her uncomfortable.
“Tell me why you ran from me before.”
I let my smile drop. Surely it didn’t need an explanation. And verbalizing it aloud made the truth sound even worse. “You know why.”
“No, I mean, exactly what did I do wrong? I’ll have to be on guard, you see, so I better start learning what I shouldn’t do.” She looked down at our hands. “This, for example,” she stroked the back of my hand with her free one, “seems to be all right.”
It is better
than all right! That is precisely the problem! It could never be enough. I would always want more. The burn in my throat was almost too much to bare! “You didn’t do anything wrong, Bella. It was my fault.”
“But I want to help,” she insisted. “If I can, to not make this harder for you.”
There she goes again, worrying about my feelings over her own. “Well…” I began. I wanted to explain this to her as to not hurt her feelings more. Ensure her that the blame was not hers. “It was just how close you were. Most humans instinctively shy away from us, are repelled by the alienness…. I wasn’t expecting you to come so close.” She was so confident in my undeserved trust. “And the smell of your throat
.” I stopped right there. I couldn’t believe I just said that out loud. I looked up at her quickly to make sure I hadn’t repulsed her with my inherent darkness.
“Okay, then,” she said cheekily, and then dropped her chin. “No throat exposure.”
I laughed. Only Bella could take this so lightly. “No, really, it was more the surprise than anything else.”
She looked up at me, her head still in a bow. Her eyes were filled with care, so tender. She shouldn’t have to consciously try so hard to make it easier for me
. I wished she didn’t need to. I wanted her to believe I could handle this. Heck, I wanted to believe that for myself. I had to comfort Bella.
I tentatively reached for her with my free and placed it on her neck. She froze at the contact. I hoped it was because she sensed the danger here. It helped. The slightest movement on her part could defeat my resolve. I was very careful with my touch. I registered the rhythmic pulse of her blood pumping through the sensitive veins, just under the surface of her delicate skin. Her heart was beating so fast! And I could feel every beat beneath my fingertips. I couldn’t prevent the burn in my throat from creeping. But it was manageable. Better than ever before.
“You see?” I said. “Perfectly fine.”
Her cheeks swelled pink. I would never tire of seeing that involuntary flush. “The blush of your cheeks is lovely.” I slid my hand across her neck, over her jaw line, and finally caressed her warm cheek. I gently reclaimed my other hand from her grasp so I could cup her face in my hands. Her heart, if possible, thudded at an even faster pace than before. It was making what I was about to try much more difficult.
“Be very still.” I warned softly.
Our eyes locked as I slowly leaned closer to her. Easy
, I warned myself, gentle now. Don’t go too far
. The sweet stench of her blood was a wrecking ball to my admonition. The desire raging throughout my body was indescribable. I leaned even closer now, with eager anticipation. I slowly, ever so carefully, placed my cheek against the base of her throat. The heat was overwhelming now. The difference in temperature was fire and ice. And how her blood raced!
I slid my hands down the sides of her neck, feeling her blood flow freely under my fingers. And Bella trembled so that I caught my breath. Be still, PLEASE! This is hard enough!
The temptation was too much, to linger over the throbbing arteries there. I paused only when I reached her shoulders.
I can do this. I
had to be able to do this
I turned my head so that my nose traced down her clavicle. My breathing was labored. Each time I inhaled her savory scent, I fought to tether the monster I knew could surface at any moment. And as my throat burned with unyielding torture, the rest of my body burned with a different desire, both burns in complete opposition to the other. Whichever was the higher intrigue, I didn’t know.
I rested my head on her chest, listening to the steady thump inside that meant life to Bella. How many thousands… or hundreds of thousands of heartbeats had I heard in my life? Forever ignoring the temptuous thudding of would-be victims? And this heartbeat, the one I have allowed myself to be so dangerously close to, which I once wanted to destroy… was now my only reason for existing. From now on, this will be my duty, my burden, my responsibily. Protect this heart, for it was now mine.
“Ah” I sighed finally. I had done it. I had quelled the monster within me… at least for now. He wasn’t gone forever, but I knew if he ever reared his head again I would be able to defeat him. I was strong enough, I had lived up to the strength that Carlisle saw within me.
I lay there, on her chest, for several more minutes. It was the amount of time it took for her heart to reach its normal rhythm. I listened as the air whooshed and whistled in and out of her lungs. That’s it, Bella, keep breathing
. Only then did I release her.
“It won’t be so hard again,” I said with profound satisfaction.
“Was that very hard for you?” she asked timidly. More than you will ever know or understand!
“Not nearly as hard as I imagined it would be.” And I realized in all this, I hadn’t even bothered to guess how Bella was handling all this. “And you?” I asked politely.
“No, it wasn’t bad… for me.” There is that blush again
“You know what I mean,” I smiled.
“Here.” I reached for her hand and brought it to my face. It was still warm, having drawn some of her own body heat from lying on her chest so long. The warmest part of the body with all that rich concentration of blood, and having the most important job
. “Do you feel how warm it is?”
And her lips went up in the tiniest of smiles. “Don’t move,” Bella whispered.
I stilled myself like only a vampire can. I was good at this. Our bodies did not require constant movement. There was no blood flow to account for. I closed my eyes, curious, anticipating her next move. I jumped slightly when I felt her hand graze my cheek, and she softly tickled over my eyelids. Her fingers trailed over my nose and I slowly inhaled, tasting the air at her touch. She traced down and paused at my lips. She stroked them so carefully. The pleasure I felt at her caresses made me wish I could do more with those lips. What I wouldn’t do to be able to kiss her, to taste her. I wouldn’t bite, no, but to lick those lips, Mmmm. Without conscious thought, my lips parted at the idea, to be able to enjoy this very human desire with Bella. I could let her fondle me this way forever, ignoring all other hungers.
Too soon, Bella leaned away from me. My eyes flew open. I wasn’t ready for her to stop. Keep going
! I begged silently, but the reddening of her cheeks was soothing enough. The thrill that blush awakened in me was… mouthwatering.
“I wish,” my voice was a whisper, “I wish you could feel the… complexity… the confusion… I feel. That you could understand.” I ran my fingers threw her soft hair, and then brushed her cheeks with my fingertips. Her cheeks were rosier than I’d ever seen them.
“Tell me,” she insisted.
“I don’t think I can. I’ve told you, on the one hand, the hunger – the thirst – that deplorable creature that I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent.” A tiny imperceptible extent
. “Though,” I smiled, “as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can’t empathize completely.” Because God only knows I am addicted to you.
“But,” I continued, reaching for her again. I wanted her to feel the intense pleasure her fingers on my lips had caused. There are other hungers…” I grazed her lips with my fingertips, making her quiver. I wondered, if I could touch her like this, so carefully with my fingertips, could I also dare to believe I could to touch my own lips to hers? “Hungers I don’t even understand, that are foreign to me.”
“I may understand that
better than you think.” Of course. This would all be new to Bella as well. Human desires awakening in her much more easily than they had in me.
“I’m not used to feeling so human. Is it always like this?”
“For me?” she pondered. “No, never. Never before this.”
“I don’t know how to be close to you. I don’t know if I can.” The monster was vanquished, for now, but I still had to be very careful. I could hurt her easily with the wrong movement, simply by accident.
Bella slowly leaned towards me, watching me carefully, and dropped her head to my chest, echoing my own actions from a moment ago. She laid her head softly over where my heart should be, though eternally silent. She would only hear me breathing. Unnecessary as it was, it was imperative I demonstrate some sign of life. “This is enough,” she sighed.
How I wished that to be true. It was strangely comforting to hear those words exit her mouth. But could I ever really be enough for Bella? Be the man she deserves? I embraced her lovingly, my arms gently hugging her closer to my body, pressing my face into her hair to get another whiff of heaven.
“You’re better at this than you give yourself credit for,” she announced.
“I have human instincts. They may be buried deep, but they’re there.”
We lay there, silently, enjoying each other, unwilling to move. The sun had fallen low in the sky, unseen through the thick forest. I cursed the fading light. It meant our time here was coming to an end. As if answering my thought, Bella sighed in frustration.
“You have to go,” I said simply.
“I thought you couldn’t read my mind.”
“It’s getting clearer,” I lied, teasing. It would be dark soon, and Bella certainly wouldn’t enjoy traveling through the forest in the dark. It had taken us nearly four hours to hike to the clearing from her truck. With the forest floor already a hazard to Bella, surely a different means of travel was an order.
“Can I show you something?” I asked, suddenly excited.
“Show me what?” she asked curiously.
“I’ll show you how I travel in the forest.” I had already shown her the scariest parts of myself today, I was certain she could handle just a little more. And I could show her how we normally advance from point A to B. This would be fun!
“Don’t worry, you’ll be very safe, and we’ll get to your truck much faster.” Lightening fast
, I thought to myself. I smiled crookedly at my personal joke.
“Will you turn into a bat?” she asked warily. Her teeth pressed into her lips.
I laughed. Humans and there misguided myths. “Like I haven’t heard that
She rolled her eyes. “Right, I’m sure you get that all the time,” she added sarcastically.
“Come on, little coward, climb on my back.” She looked up to me tentatively, her eyes squinting in confusion. Yes, Bella, I’m totally serious
! I smiled at her hesitation. She made no motion whatsoever towards me, so I reached for her instead. I hoisted her up and swung her swiftly onto my back. She immediately clamped her arms and legs into a death lock around my body. She was terrified. Just wait, Bella, I have a feeling you will enjoy this.
“I’m a bit heavier than your average backpack,” she said.
“Hah!” I huffed. She was as light as a feather! I could barely even register the extra weight. And the way her arms and legs hugged my body, I could feel her warmth… every
where. I reached down to her hand, clinging to my chest with all its strength, and brought it to my face, inhaling deeply. That coupled with the surge of electricity flowing between our bodies made my head go fuzzy, but in the very best of ways.
“Easier all the time,” I murmured to myself in satisfaction.
And then I took off running. Of all the quirks of being a vampire, running fast was definitely one of the perks. Emmett had the strength of the family… but I had the speed. I was smug about it. The trees flashed by us, but I barely took notice. I was thinking about her fingers on my lips. It was pure ecstasy. And she had shivered when my fingers brushed hers. Was it because my fingers were cold, or did she feel the longing I felt? Was hers congruent to my own desires? I wondered if an ache accompanied hers, as it did mine.
We were back to her truck much too soon. What had been a four hour journey this morning, had taken roughly four minutes now. Bella was breathing heavy and her heart was pounding!
“Exhilarating, isn’t it?”
But she didn’t respond. She was frozen on my back, silent.
“Bella?” I asked, concerned now.
“I think I need to lie down,” she gasped.
“Oh, sorry.” I leaned back slightly to help her down. But she still clung to me with all her strength.
“I think I need help,” she admitted weakly.
I laughed softly and gently pried her locked fingers open. I was worried if I slid her to the ground, she’d lose her footing, so I pulled her around to face me, cradling her in my arms. And I placed her carefully on the soft ferns.
“How do you feel?” I asked tenderly.
“Dizzy, I think,” she croaked.
“Put your head between your knees.” I suggested.
She immediately dropped her head and took several deep breaths. I sat down beside her, wanted to put my arm around her, but I resisted. I felt bad enough at having caused her this distress.
“I guess that wasn’t the best idea,” I wondered.
“No, it was very interesting,” she lied. The blood had completely drained from her face.
“Hah!” I exclaimed again. “You’re as white as a ghost. No. You’re as white as me
“I think I should have closed my eyes,” she said.
I should have known better
. With my vision, everything looked crystal clear. But to a human, to Bella, everything was probably a blur. I regretted putting her through that. I should have known better
I repeated to myself. “Remember that next time.”
“Next time!” her expression was so amusing. I could help but laugh.
“Show-off,” she scowled. She couldn’t be upset now
. I quickly repositioned myself so I was sitting directly in front of her.
“Open your eyes, Bella,” I said quietly. She did, and was stunned by how close I was.
“I was thinking, while I was running…” I paused, afraid to vocalize what I was about to say.
“About not hitting trees, I hope,” she interrupted.
“Silly Bella. Running is second nature to me. It’s not something I need to think about.”
“Show-off,” she repeated.
I smiled. “No, I was thinking there was something I wanted to try.” And I took her face in my hands.
I knew this was going to be very difficult. I was terrified to get too close to her. I had no idea how my body would respond to this sensation. I hesitated, trying to work up the courage. If the monster wasn’t so tightly bound, I would never attempt what I was about to try. I leaned in closer to her, watching her lips carefully as I advanced. Bella was trembling; her heart quickened in anticipation. I was very cautious. Surely she knew to be just as careful.
My breath was coming in shorter gasps, now. It felt like a lifetime went by. An electric current buzzed through the air between our faces, so close now. I could feel the warmth emanating from her body, the delightful aroma circling tastily in my nose and throat. I craved the taste of her sweet lips.
I pulled my face back, only millimeters, in one last attempt to fight the desire that could be fatal. But she exhaled forcefully into my face, and my in an instant, my resolve cripple. My need won the battle. I forced my face forward, before my cools lips finally met hers. They were so hot! Venom swirled in my mouth. I swallowed reflexively. My instincts were telling me to bite. No! This was too much! I couldn’t take any more!
Suddenly, Bella locked her fingers around my head, tangling them in my hair, pulling me closer. Her blood boiled, rushing to her face. I could smell the hot blood that pooled. Fire burned through my entire body! And then she parted her lips, ever so slightly. Bella, the poison! My teeth!
But I couldn’t say anything. I just froze. I shut down my entire body. I gently pushed her face back, and she opened her eyes to notice the danger clearly plastered all over my face.
“Oops,” she whispered under her breath.
I could have just killed
you! “That’s an understatement.”
“Should I…?” she trailed off, trying to squirm away. But I didn’t want her to go away. I wanted her right where she was, forever.
“No,” I pleaded. “It’s tolerable. Wait for a moment, please.”
I clenched my jaw and tried to relax my body. It was as painful as stopping mid-hunt. I stopped breathing, trying to rid her scent from my nasal passages. It helped. I stared into her eyes, finding peace there.
“There,” I finally said, pleased with myself.
“Tolerable?” she questioned.
I laughed in relief. “I’m stronger than I thought. It’s nice to know.”
“I wish I could say the same. I’m sorry.” Her eyes fell.
“You are only human, after all,” I taunted.
“Thanks so much,” she huffed.
I stood abruptly to my feet and held my hand out for Bella. She tried to stand, but wobbled. I held her up more steadily.
“Are you still faint from the run?” I asked. “Or was it my kissing expertise?” Please let it be the latter
“I can’t be sure, I’m still woozy,” she managed to say. “I think some of both, though.”
“Maybe you should let me drive,” I offered.
“Are you insane?” she shrieked. What? Was she still worried about my driving, after she had just willingly kissed a poisonous vampire? Only Bella….
“I can drive better than you on your best day.” I mocked. “You have much slower reflexes.”
“I’m sure that’s true, but I don’t think my nerves, or my truck, could take it.” Was she trying to bait me? How adorable!
“Some trust, please, Bella,” I begged. My eyes burned into hers, trying to dazzle her to get my way.
Her fingers were in her pocket, and I could hear the clinking of her keys as she jostled them with her fingers. She pressed her lips together into a tight, playfully evil grin, deciding.
“Nope. Not a chance.” She was so stubborn! Perhaps I was losing my touch, I mused.
“Bella, I’ve already expended a great deal of personal effort at this point to keep you alive. I’m not about to let you behind the wheel of a vehicle when you can’t even walk straight. Besides, friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” I chuckled.
“Drunk?” she objected.
I grinned widely. It was too funny that I had offended her with my innocent statement. “You’re intoxicated by my very presence,” I teased.
“I can’t argue with that.” She scowled as she dropped the keys. I thrust my hand out to grab it before it had even fallen inches. “Take it easy. My truck is a senior citizen.”
“Very sensible,” I approved.
“Are you not affected at all?” she asked, annoyed. “By my presence, I mean?”
On the contrary
. How could she even think that? I softened my face for her benefit. Instead of answering her aloud, I once again brushed my lips along her jaw line, tracing back and forth from her ear to her chin. If she couldn’t feel that tension, then I didn’t know how to explain to her any other way.
“Regardless,” I muttered finally, “I have better reflexes.”