Her pulsing blood, pumping heart, warm liquid and my overflowing venom at the restaurant had me back in constant thought. Though I controlled the hunt, I was unable to remove the scent and yearning from my memory. I was in several kinds of agony.
I'd been distracted all the way home, not much for conversation. I wondered if Edward noticed, or if he was just being polite, giving me my space to take the whole night in.
We had just put Renesmee to bed when I finally said, "Edward…" in a barely whisper, sitting on floor in front of our living room fireplace, staring at the flames. A visual match to what was going on in my throat.
"Yes," he replied.
I chickened out.
"That was something tonight wasn't it?"
"It was. You were tremendous, too. Finished your bloody steak and all," he said proudly, teasing at the same time. He had always thought too highly of me. I wouldn't say "tremendous", or anything even close to that. "Trembling kitten" might be more suiting. But I smiled sweetly at his overblown compliment.
"It was disgusting." I crinkled my nose. "If steak tastes like dirt, I don't want to know what 'dirt' tastes like." I was making small talk now, avoiding a conversation I didn't know how to properly approach.
I grew quiet again, peering at the kindling that was cracking away in the fireplace, distracting myself in thought and want again. I was picturing more of the hunt, closing in on my capture, imagining the taste of her sweet scent. My stomach muscles tightened and my breath held as I tried to swallow away the agonizing fire within me. Unfortunately it remained, for how long I didn't know, and wanted to. He would know. And until I got my answer, I was going to have to suffer this bonfire out.
"Anything besides blood tastes like dirt." I heard a very faint voice say. But I continued to stare at the kindling that held me mesmerized. This fire, my yearning, burning together in complete unison.
"Bella?" The voice tried to contact me.
I didn't move. Not because I didn't want to, but because my mind wouldn't leave the current state it was in. I reached up and touched my throat as her imaginary blood made its way down, warm and wet.
"Bella," The voice was louder now, and a firm hand grabbed at my shoulder.
On instinct and startled I jumped with a snarl and a hiss, facing my opponent, ready to defend my kill. My enemy jumped with me, mirroring my stance, prepared to protect itself. But the eyes that stared back at me, there was something about them.
Edward. Immediately I straightened from my crouch when I realized it was him who'd touched me. By the alarm and worry on Edward's face, he had not expecting such viciousness from me. Neither had I. It was then we both knew I wasn't acting right, and I needed that help.
"Oh, Edward, I'm so sorry!" I put my hands over my mouth in shock. "I didn't mean to do that."
"It's quite alright, love." He relaxed and straightened, as well. "I clearly startled you. I should be more careful when you're deep in thought. No, I should be the one apologizing to you." He held his arms out for me to come to him. I almost attacked Edward, and he wanted to comfort me?
I wasn't a newborn vampire anymore, but deep down, I had to admit sometimes my instincts still acted like one.
I conceded with gracefulness and went to him, wrapping my arms around him, my cheek pressed to his chest.
He hugged me tightly, rubbing his hand gently up and down my back. Then out of curiosity, and what I knew was coming, he asked, "What has you so distant tonight? Has the thought of possible seeing Renee for the last time consumed you?"
There was that, but no. I wanted to tell Edward everything I was thinking and feeling since leaving the restaurant about...'her', but picturing his possible disappointment that maybe I wasn't as controlling as we thought, kept me at a standstill in his arms. I couldn't speak.
It realize it didn't matter how much I knew about being a vampire before I became one, nothing could have prepared me for something this strong. Not Charlie, not Renee, not Phil—not even innocent hikers. Nothing...except the remembrance 'his' reaction to me. The girl who's blood once sang to him...
Edward pulled back to look down at my face as I tried to hide the worry lines I felt running across my forehead while attempting to keep my 'rat-me-out' lips at a standstill. But I knew it was my darkened eyes that betrayed me the most, when he asked, "Bella, what's bothering you? Please tell me."
I was too embarrassed to admit my current state still. So I raised my eyebrows, frowned my mouth at the corners, shook my head with a 'nothing' expression and faked my best smile.
Edward might be good at lying when he had to, but I was a terrible at it.
"You know you drive me crazy when you do this, Bella."
"I'm sorry," I choke-whispered, trying to look composed.
"Hmmm," he sounded, then looked like he was replaying the last few hours with my mother in his head. If I wasn't going to say anything, he was going to try to figure it out.
"Alright, Bella. I'm going to ask you a question, just one. And you tell me which of the two answers fits best, okay?"
I looked at him puzzled. Had he caught on so quickly? Well it was Edward, so anything was possible. I nodded.
"You haven't been around human strangers that much, let alone thirty of them in a room with you," he began.
My eyes widened a bit and my throat began to ache again at the memory of his words. What he said was true. And like the flick of a switch, I was craving the chase again. It had taken everything I had during dinner, to keep from following her out to her car, my mouth full of venom, ready to strike. I wanted to go back now. Go back and find the girl who'd walked past me, driving me insane. It was wrong, so wrong, but part of me didn't care.
No, focus Bella.
I closed my eyes and took a deep swallow.
When I looked up, Edward was still staring down at me, and I realized I had drifted again.
I could see what Emmett and Jasper meant about sex taking a close second place to this kind of hunger. I wanted her, bad.
"I think I'm on the right track," he observed my drifted expression. "Now stay with me, love, alright?"
I nodded again, not saying a word, putting as much strength as I could into what he was going to be asking.
"I noticed a few times during dinner, and after your sudden grab at the table, that you kept your eye on a certain corner booth longer than what would be normal for a 'human'. So tell me," he paused, "the person you were staring at…was it friend, or stranger?"
Yes, he was good. "Stranger" in vampire translation, meant: target, prey, victim… casualty.
I was honest this time with my answer.
"Stranger," I whispered as I looked at the floor, reluctant to see his reaction. I didn't want him to know how much I struggled, to think any less of me. I was supposed to have super control, right? But--
He put one finger under my chin and brought my eyes up to meet his. "Don't feel guilty, love. You know it's perfectly normal for our kind to find prey nearly anywhere we go. You did well, better than any normal vampire would have. And the person is still alive." He smiled hoping to comfort me. "A few days from now, the scent will only be a memory." He kissed the top of my forehead. "I might suggest hunting in the meantime, though. Would you like me to call Rosalie over to watch Renesmee? We could leave right now?"
"Uh, no…not just yet," I stalled, holding one finger up, asking for a minute. There was something more I needed to know about what he just said that I needed help on.
Edward waited patiently for me to speak.
So I began...
"The pull towards the beating scent," I looked into his eyes, "was...so strong." Venom gushed in my mouth, forcing me to swallow again before I could continue. "I wanted her more than anything I'd experienced so far, Edward. So much I couldn't breathe through that kind of pain. Nothing clear existed around me after that, except my thirst, and her blood. I thought I was going break my piece of the table off right then and there trying to hold myself back."
He put his arms back around me in empathy, and I worried suddenly, that a few days weren't going to be enough to help me get over her.
The intense burning in my throat continued to erupt with each mention and thought of the girl. I needed to know how long this desire for her would truly go on. Because vampire memories, unlike human ones...never faded.
A war had broken out between the right thing to do and my thirst, and I could honestly say I wasn't sure which one would end up winning if I ever came across her again. If my human blood had sung to Edward, then the best way to describe this girl's scent—was a full on heavy-metal concert, intensely beating itself at me in one continual pulling rhythm with no end in sight.
"Edward?" I managed to choke out past the pain. "Tell me the truth, how long will this kind of craving go on if I will always remember? Will I truly be alright after a few days?"
After what he went through with me, and finding me his most desirable flavor, I knew he would be the best one to understand.
He leaned back and eyed me suspiciously, hesitant to answer as he pursed his lips together. Even this slight reaction and pause was what I was afraid of. Was there a lie coming for my benefit? Had he--
"I suppose with you, that's hard to say," his voice was now cautious and a little guarded.
He sighed lightly. "Because you're different than what we've know as normal vampire behavior, Bella. I don't know what your mind will do. You still, always surprise me."
That was true.
"What about your cravings? Your 'past' cravings, and memories of me?" I paused to observe his reaction further. Plus he had the memory of what my blood actually tasted like when he saved me from the vampire bite of James in Phoenix.
He immediately let go of me, took a step back, and glared at me. His hands balled into fists. "What about them?"
"What do you do with them? We never forget. So..."
Edward flared his nostrils and clinched his teeth. I could tell he was becoming uncomfortable with my course of questioning.
"That's enough," he answered with tight lips.
"Stop," his voice hardened.
I was upsetting him, but I needed to know. This was too important. "But what do I do, Edward? After a few days when it's just a memory. Does it go to the back of my mind and stay quiet? Or does it reappear over and over driving me mad forever with a thirst I'll never have?" I dared to ask, driven by my own burning curiosity.
His eyes widened, and he didn't answer.
"Edward?" I said, slightly worried at his silence, still wanting to know the duration I was in for. "What did you--"
"I dealt with it," he murmured as his mood shifted from uncomfortable to tense. Too tense.
"When I was human yes, but after I changed and it wasn't around anymore…what did you do with the never-having desire?"
There was no answer again, only his glaring stare in my direction. Was he trying to recall?
"Edward?" My voice presented some impatience at his silence.
"Bella…" he sounded on edge. But I didn't understand the conflict in his eyes and the tone of his voice if he'd dealt with...
And then it hit me; how good he was at telling me what he thought was best for me to hear sometimes. Was his "I dealt with it" answer just an attempt to make me feel better? Would I always suffer with this, an endless want? He'd told me once he would be glad when I wasn't human anymore because my blood would no longer sing to him. But...
"Edward," I paused to look more closely at him, "even though I have no human scent left on me, do you still have the 'craving' for it?"
There was no answer again, only the closing of his eyes and the slight shaking of his head, telling me "no". I wasn't convinced.
"Will I remember her often?" I grabbed uneasily at my throat, burning at the recollection.
Edward's voice was shaky and his breath had become uneven when he attempted to answer me. "Usually it's when you see the person, or sometimes just the mention of the name." He took a thick swallow. "For example, if I say grandma, you think of her, and possibly some memories," he explained, and a ragged sigh trembled past his lips.
My grandmother did come to mind, and I replayed the last time I'd seen her before she passed many years ago.
"But if you concentrate more, you can remember the smell of the house she lived in, or the perfumes she wore." His chest rose feverishly as he inhaled a few unsteady breaths.
Yes. Pictured perfectly in my head now was my grandmother's aged, white, two bedroom, A-framed house with the large, grassy, front yard. And hovering in my senses were the smells of fresh, baked bread and her favorite vanilla candles.
"You don't know the girl's name, though, so that will help with triggers." He'd caught my attention when his teeth suddenly gnashed together from the tension that grew after each example.
"Edward!" I gasped in realization. "You see me, and hear my name everyday…all day! Do you…" I stopped myself for a second then bit my lower lip, knowing I was about to ask a very risky question. "Do you still have the 'desire' to hunt me?" I couldn't believe I'd just asked that. But is it…could it be possible, even after all this time?
Edward's eyes darkened to full black, and I watched as a wave of trembling ran down his arms, clinching his fists tighter.
"Don't be silly, Bella," he spoke past closed teeth, a strained edge to his voice and treachery in his eyes.
I wasn't being silly. This was serious. Did Edward still suffer with wanting to find something that wasn't humanly there anymore?
"Do you fight it often...the craving?" I continued to probe as if he'd said "yes" by the look in his eyes to still drain me.
"Bella, stop, please," he begged.
But I couldn't. "I have to know, Edward. Are you in pain when you see me?"
"No…" he swallowed thickly.
"I don't understand then?"
There was no answer.
"Do you fight the scent…the hunt…the kill…or tasting my blood again?"
Instantly, Edward braced himself up against the wall, shaking the shelf that rested on it, knocking over a few books, and glared at me; while a low growl erupted in his chest.
I reacted in shock, and then froze, my eyes widened in their sockets. In my selfishness, I'd gone too far when I mentioned the kill, the blood, the taste? Had he not thought of the scent in so long before I forced it out? Had I just made my scent fresh again in his mind, like the first time he'd smelled me? And then mentioning the taste? I had. What was I thinking? He begged me to stop, and I didn't, too wrapped up my own torment to truly recognize what I was doing to him. And I feared now, I had just re-awoken the monster who wanted to kill me so long ago? A monster who was a better fighter than I...
"Edward?" I slowly moved my hand back and forth to see if his cold, hard, sadistic eyes would go back to normal.
"Edward?" I tried again nervously.
I stared at him for a while, searching his eyes, wondering what to do. His breathing became roughed, growing, and he seemed to be more unsettled with every second that passed.
I knew what the memory of the girl did to me, and, I now knew what the memory of me, was doing to him.
Emmett always warned Jacob when he would push too far. "Best not to tempt a killer," he'd say. And I had done just that, pushed Edward's biggest temptation right at him. A temptation I realized too late, he may not have dealt with in a long time?
He narrowed his blackened eyes at me, as if to get a better view. I recognized that fatal look. It was never a happy ending for the animal on the other end of it. Death was staring me in the face.
Suddenly, I was terrified. Terrified of what Edward would do. And there I was, standing there, frozen. Vampire strength or not, I did not like this. My instincts wanted to prepare the monster in me. But I knew I couldn't win a fight against him. He was strong, too strong, and skilled in combat. He would rip me to pieces in seconds.
I cowered back a step. "Edward, I'm sorry." I didn't know what else to say. So I waited, frozen again, still alarmed. Semi-prepared. I was afraid to touch him, to startle him, out of fear of how I had just reacted to it a bit ago. He'd rip my arm off in a heartbeat and I didn't want to incur any noise that would wake Renesmee. Like my death screams.
Seconds passed and I was growing anxious.
What was he thinking, contemplating and planning? The suspense also was killing me.
I had to do something. I had to try to save myself before I ended up in thrown body parts trying to defend my life…and losing.
Did I have time to call Emmett, or Jasper? Would any sudden movement from me set him off? Did I want to take that risk? No. I would have to get through this on my own, and hope I survived.
Edward glared out the tops of his eyes as he formed himself into a crouch, barred his teeth and allowed the deathly growl in his chest to grow louder.
He was going to attack.
Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Think Bella, think!
What kind of distraction could I come up with in the face of a killer? An experienced killer.
And then, I came up with the only thing I could think of.
I inched close to him, took my trembling hand and gently, very gently, reached out to stroked it across his cheek, making sure to keep away from his razored teeth. And hoped my touch and vampire scent might help him like it did me at dinner. "Please don't hurt me, Edward," I softly pleaded, as I sent the sound of my voice, the coolness of my breath out to linger in front of him.
Time seemed to go backwards until he finally took in a deep breath and closed his eyes. A few seconds later he opened them and stared at me, but as if right through me. I watched his gaze for any sign of continual danger and didn't dare move.
The ragged breathing calmed when he stood up straight, leaned his body back against the wall, and placed his head to it and closed his eyes again.
I stepped in closer and put my hands on his chest to brace him, just in case, and continued to wait while I listened to his echoed chest growling fade to silence.
He opened his eyes to stare down at me again. They weren't black anymore, but his face was still pained.
"Bella," he managed to whisper my name.
"Yes?" I trembled.
"If at all possible…please, don't ever do or say anything like that to me again." He was still struggling for perfect control.
I nodded my head in understanding. "I'm sorry, Edward...I, I didn't realize…" I trailed off in remorse and he didn't say anything more.
He closed his eyes and placed his head back against the wall, taking in deep breaths and allowing himself another moment.
Here we were, husband and wife, suffering and burning, burning and suffering…
An idea entered my head while Edward had been calming down, and, I had to try what I thought might be absolutely impossible. He was suffering because I'd tempted him—and I was about to do it again.
I don't know why I can't seem to listen to Emmett either?
"Edward?" I whispered.
"What?" he answered with slight exhaustion.
"I, I have a thought…but, I don't want you to get mad," I said with forewarning.
He eyed me with suspicion. "Be careful Bella, I'm very weak right now."
"Okay," I noted softly. "Well, I've been struggling all night with continual desires to bite the girl and taste her blood, and probably still will for some time." I seized at the sudden, intense burn I'd created for the umpteenth time in my throat.
Edward glowered at me and tightened his lips.
"Sorry," I apologized, again, resting a hand on his arm, realizing I'd just talked about blood desires. "And then I thought of you. And wondered if maybe going through the motions would help?" I was serious about my plan.
He furrowed his eyebrows at me. "What on earth are you talking about, Bella? Going through the motions of what?" His head shook in confusion.
"Umm, okay…well…just listen," I said, holding my hands up for him to stay and hear me out. "What if you had the chance, for example, to…bite me? Would you do it, if it might help?"
He brought his hands up to his face and shook his head this time in aggravation. "Honestly, love, where do you come up with this stuff?" His fists then balled up against his forehead.
"Edward, I'm serious. Now answer the question please." I really wanted to help.
"Okay. No, I wouldn't," he snapped at me when he pulled his hands away from his face.
"Well, for starters, you're one of us."
"So?" I glared at him, knowing what I was had no consequence on what I was thinking.
"So…I don't want to hurt you, or leave a scar on you." He paused, his demeanor softening as he ran a gentle hand down my neck.
"You won't hurt me. Hello…vampire! And scar shmar." I'd 'burned' for two days without even flinching, what could possibly be worse than that?
Edward shook his head 'no', which caused me to sigh. I know I was catching him off guard all night. Therefore, my idea had to be handled just right. He was weak, but I also knew how strong he could be when he had to.
I went over and knelt casually on the floor in front of the fire and looked back at my husband, who seemed too nervous to follow after me. I patted the ground for him to come and sit down.
He didn't move.
"Edward." I raised a hand out to him, hoping he'd join me.
He stared at it. And by the look in his eyes, I wondered if he was afraid of me now?
"Edward…listen to me, please." My voice was pleading as I continued to call out to him, and then he looked from my hand to my face.
"I think you should bite me," I said straight-faced, still stern in my effort to help him.
His eyes widened in disbelief at my repeated suggestion, and he shook his head with a slow, wavering 'no'.
"I think it could help." I really did. If his craving was like mine, it wasn't going to go away anytime soon.
He shook his head 'no' again and braced himself back up against the wall.
"I don't want you to suffer in your memories, Edward, wanting to…" I promised him I wouldn't talk about 'my blood scent' again, so I stopped. But this was different. I was trying to help, now that I understood.
"I want you to bite me, Edward. I need you to," I said with a hint of seduction. He usually broke down whenever I used the word 'want' and 'need' in that sort of way. But it was true; I did want it, for him, and for me.
He didn't say 'no' this time, but he didn't move either. So I patted the floor in front of me once more. I had to know if this would work.
Edward's expression was tortured as he tried to make sense of what I was doing.
"Please…" I tried again, and he leaned away from the wall, but took no step towards me.
"Please, Edward…" I went heavy on the pleading, hoping to lure him over.
Then slowly, very slowly he made his way over and knelt down, facing me. But I could tell by the look in his eyes, he was still going to fight me on this.
"It will hurt you, Bella. Our nerves, they don't die. We can feel pain. It's your skin that protects you from 'almost' anything that could cause that, though." He ran his hand gently down the side of my neck. "But your skin cannot protect you from the razors of my teeth, or mine from yours. Jasper felt each and every one of his vampire bites."
This I knew.
"It's okay, Edward," I reassured him, putting my hand over the one that touched me. He wasn't telling me anything I didn't already know.
"And I've already bitten you," he said, reminding me of my time with James, and then with Renesmee's birth.
"Yes, but those were different, both necessary at the time to save me," I reminded him back. "This time is for you, Edward, and what you're going through. I want to ease your craving and suffering…even if it helps a little." I unleashed the power of my eyes on him.
He shook his head 'no' again and I was slowly feeling conquered. "I can't…I won't hurt you."
I sighed in frustration and lowered my hand from his. I know he didn't like the idea of hurting me. I could remember the pained look in his eyes at the bruises on my body the first time we 'tried' on our wedding night. And how he said he wouldn't touch me again until I was changed. He was willing to give that up, just to prevent me from a bruise.
But I don't give up. Edward knew my want for him to do it. Now he needed to know my need. He needed to be convinced.
I reached out and put my hand softly on top of his knee. "You were supposed to change me eventually, and you did. But how? An injection to the heart and bites all over, remember?"
His face grew sobered as he looked to the floor. Of course he remembered.
I reached out and brushed my hand from the back of his jaw, to under his chin, making him look up at me. "You never had the chance to change me like you wanted to, Edward. Like I wanted you to," I said honestly.
I could tell by the thick swallow and slight hunger that grew in his eyes, that I might be right about him. I knew I was right about me.
"I'm missing that it didn't happen the right way, our way." I softly eyed him.
Edward's face was stone still, and I couldn't tell if I was getting through? He wasn't moving or saying anything, though his breathing had become deeper, and a few low growls rumbled around in his chest while attempting to control of himself.
"Take this chance, Edward, to do it right…the way it should have been done." I watched my hand as I gently stroked it across his cheek and down the side of his neck. "I'm giving you the opportunity to follow through on those memories and cravings."
He took another thick swallow as his eyes darkened; and I knew what I had to do next…
Slowly, I lifted the hair up off of my neck, and with permission in my voice I whispered softly, "go with your desires Edward…and mine."
He was really fighting this, and I watched as his eyes paced back and forth from mine, to my neck. His breathing spiked as he tried to look away from me, but couldn't. And then I saw his lips slightly quiver when he gave in and asked…
Excited and a little nervous, I told him, "which ever side you always wanted."
He knew right away as he looked to the right side of my neck.
I slowly tilted my head left, exposing more of myself to him, and then placed my hair over the front of my left shoulder.
Edward wasn't looking at my face; he was focused on another part of me.
With both of us sitting on bent legs, he hungrily leaned in and put his hands to the ground for support, and his eyes were as dark as the first day my scent had come across him.
I felt his soft lips at first. And just the touch of them sent a spark raging through my entire body. As they parted, his heavy breathing ignited a deeper fire in the pit of my stomach.
Instinct must have told him that that's where my jugular should be, and he placed his right hand to the other side of my neck to hold me.
Then there was a pinch. A sharp, deepening, fierce pinch. My face tightened. He was right, I felt everything; the penetration into my skin, the movement of his tongue that accompanied it, and his ravenous breath which moved itself in and out with forcefulness. The pinch grew harder, and still deeper, as Edward pushed me further into his teeth. And the only sound I let escape my lips, was an exhale of accomplished satisfaction.
His bite was painful and erotic, and the venom mixed in with it stung only for a second.
I closed my eyes, picturing us in my head, while absorbing more of the sensation that played itself out within me.
Waves of desire rapidly picked up and moved through me when Edward's intensity grew, as if he was sucking out my blood desperately for real, his growls turning into slight moans.
He was enjoying this.
And, so was I.
It was better than I'd imagined. Better than if I were human. Because here, as a vampire myself, no venom would burn through me tonight…only his touch.
Minutes passed, and I stayed placed as long as he needed, still relishing in the moment. Edward could never be rushed when focused. After all, this was for him, for us, and what should have been.
My eyes opened gradually when his breathing became steady and I felt his teeth being slowly removed. His hand slid delicately from the firm hold he had on my neck, to a gentle touch at the curve before my shoulder.
I sighed evenly when his tongue traced over the area where his teeth had been, and he finished with a soft, lingering kiss. When he moved slightly away, I thought I was going to fall over forward sensually from my swimming desire.
Then slowly, steadily, he rocked back on his legs and wiped a small amount of venom off his lower lip with the back of his finger.
He tilted his head, eyeing the damage I suspected, and smiled when he brought his dark, gold eyes back to meet with mine. My neck was obviously in good condition.
"Hmmm..." he sounded. "I think you're on to something, Bella," he crooned, gleaming with fulfillment.
I smiled back as best I could, finding it somewhat difficult, though. My mind and my body were still reeling in the pain, pleasure and marvel of what I'd just experienced. And it was hard to focus on one thing, when so many desires were coming at me in various waves and intensities. The girl, her blood, Edwards touches, the tingles down my spine, his bite, my breathing, the knot in my stomach, and the burn. The sudden creeping burn...
"Are you alright?" he whispered, concerned I assumed by the playing of emotions on my face.
"Yes, I'm fine," I half lied. Physically, I was fine, but mentally, well, I wasn't so sure.
"Did I hurt you…?"
"No, Edward. I'm fine really." I swallowed quickly, trying to put out the flames again.
He eyed me suspiciously, and then grinned as he placed his hands to the buttons on his shirt, undoing the first one.
My mind paused, watching him. And I parted my lips, allowing my breath to flow more evenly as I readied myself for a welcomed distraction.
But he surprised me when he stopped after the fourth button and pulled one side of his shirt out over his shoulder.
With the tilt of his neck, he said, "Your turn..."