"I'm so sorry, Bella," she said as she walked out, her voice filled with remorse. She meant it, too. I don't think I will ever understand that.
When everyone except Carlisle, Alice, and me had left the room, I let Carlisle see to Bella. I didn't know if I could trust her to his ministrations, but I didn't have a choice at this point; I didn't know much about medicine. I had to face it; my business had been more about breaking human bodies than mending them. I'm a vampire, that's what I do.
We lifted Bella up onto the table, and Carlisle applied an improvised tourniquet to her arm. Wow, really? I wonder if Rosalie meant to cut that deep…Probably did.
"How are you, Bella?" Carlisle asked.
"I'm fine," she said, and gasped at the pressure Carlisle put on her arm. "You can go, Edward."
"I can handle it." I didn't want to go. Now Carlisle had her in a very vulnerable state; I didn't know what he intended to do.
"You don't need to be a hero. Carlisle can fix me up without your help. Get some fresh air." Of course, she thought I was staying for some stupid sentimental reason. I still didn't want to leave her here, like this.
"Ugh! Why are you so masochistic?"
"Edward, you may as well go find Jasper," Carlisle chimed in. "I'm sure he's upset right now, and I doubt he'll listen to anyone but you." Go. Now. That was a 'voice' that promised dire consequences if I defied him.
"You might as well do something useful," Alice added. It's not like you were any help here, loverboy.
I couldn't endure the double-team, and left the house quickly. I didn't go far, though. I wanted to know everything I could about what was going on in there. I was painfully aware of Carlisle's presence there, so I concentrated first on building a link with Bella's mind, hopefully something Carlisle wouldn't be able to detect.
Once I was sure of my connection (at least as sure as I could ever be), I settled on the roof and let Bella's thoughts and feelings flow over and through me. The first thing I noticed was that she was distinctly uncomfortable around Carlisle. She thought it was because of her sensitivity to blood, but I knew it was her sensitivity to Carlisle.
Humans have an instinctive sixth sense about them. Those who pay attention to it earlier in life become the psychics and ghost whisperers of their time. Bella was obviously no psychic, but she could sense there was something off about Carlisle. Every living thing could, it seemed. In spite of his smiling face, there was extreme danger and cruelty simmering just below the surface, waiting for the right avenue to come out.
Bella watched in astonishment as Carlisle began carefully removing the pieces of glass from her arm. "Wow, how can you do this? Even Alice and Esme…"
"Years and years of practice. I barely notice the scent anymore." Yeah right, you once likened it to working at a confectioner's shop. For a while you get sick of candy, then a particular sugary thing catches your eye, and you just have to taste it. "Barely notice it," my a— my foot.
"Would it be harder if you took a long holiday away from the hospital? Then you weren't around blood?" Crap, why is she asking a question like that?
"Maybe. I've never felt the need for an extended holiday. I enjoy my work too much." If by "work" you mean pissing me off on a regular basis, then yes, you do enjoy it too much.
Carlisle examined her arm once more. "There. All done."
I could sense her gathering her courage. She was going to ask Carlisle about…oh, boy, here we go.
"So, in the beginning, why did you even try a different way than the obvious?"
He smiled tolerantly. "Hasn't Edward told you that story?"
"Yes, but I'm trying to understand your thinking…"
"OK." He threw some alcohol pads into a glass bowl and set them on fire. "You know my father was a clergyman, and he had some pretty extreme views about his faith. Even though I didn't agree with him, I have never doubted the existence of God, or at least, some deity. This probably sounds bizarre coming from a vampire, but I'm hoping there is still a point to existence, even for those such as us. I guess I'm hoping we'll get some measure of credit for trying."
Gag! Damn but he's good, though. I think I would choke on that much hogwash.
"What about Edward?"
"He agrees with me about God, I think, and that people have souls. By the same token, though, he believes we have lost ours." He looked Bella in the eyes now, making her a bit nervous again. "Now, looking at things in that light, if you believed as he does, could you take away his soul?"
It was not the question she was ready for, and she had no answer. Then she argued with Carlisle about him turning her, and he changed the subject to something else she would want to hear.
"It was Edward's mother who made up my mind." He stared out the window. I sat up where I was on the roof. "Her name was Elizabeth Masen. His father died in the first wave of influenza. Edward gets his looks from her, you know. Same bronze shade to her hair, even the same green eyes."
"His eyes were green?" She tried to picture it. So did I.
"Yes. She was so obsessive about her son. Even tried to nurse him from her own sickbed, which was probably what did her in. I came to see her on what would be her deathbed. Her fever was raging, and her body had grown too weak to fight it anymore.
"She didn't look weak, though, not when she lurched up from the bed and ordered, 'Save him! You must do everything in your power. What others cannot do, that is what you must do to my Edward.'"
Bella was staring with wide eyes at this story. I was interested too. Carlisle had never told me anything about either of my parents. Why was he telling Bella now?
"There lay Edward, dying, and beside him, his mother already dead. I looked at Edward. Sick as he was, he was still beautiful. There was something good and pure about his face." Sure, in the 'you sure got a purty mouth' kind of way.
"So I stole him out the back door while everyone was preoccupied, and carried him back to my then-home.
"I wasn't sure what had to be done. I settled for recreating the wounds I'd received myself, centuries ago in London. I later felt bad about that. It was more painful and lingering than necessary."
That last part was completely true. Not the part about him feeling bad, the part about it being more painful than necessary. I remember that, remember it well. He enjoyed it. A lot.
"I wasn't sorry, though. I've never been sorry that I saved Edward." Or Rosalie, right? Then you had two vampires bound to you, creepy old man.
"Well, I suppose I should take you home now."
"I'll do that," I said, making an entrance in the doorway.
"Carlisle can take me." She was worried about me 'losing control.'
"No, I'm okay, I'll do it." No way would I give Carlisle another one-on-one session with her. What the crap was all that stuff about my mother?
Did I really have green eyes?
Yes, and they were very pretty. Black Irish, your father was, and your mother was Irish too. Figures.
Alice shoved the rest of her presents into Bella's arms as we went out the door. "You can thank me later—after you've opened them," she said with a wink. W—was she coming on to Bella? That's just what I need, competition. What have I been missing between those two?
We drove home, and Bella was annoying, mostly trying to apologize for something that was not her fault and actually went exactly as planned, not that she knew that. We pulled up to her house and I killed the engine. Eventually I promised to meet her in her room and stay the night, just to stop her yapping.
She went in, exchanged hellos with her father, changed for bed, and I met her in her room.. "Hi," I greeted her from where I was seated on her bed.
She bounded over and climbed into my lap. "Hi. Can I open my presents now?"
"Suddenly you're all excited about them?"
"Well, I'm curious what's in them."
She reached out and picked up Carlisle and Esme's gift. I hastily snatched it away from her to rip off the wrapping myself. "Allow me." She would probably be more careful this time given what happened earlier, and if she was more careful she might find another razor blade. Or two. Or…I really didn't know how enthusiastic Rosalie had been with them, and I didn't want Bella to find out.
"Are you sure I can handle lifting up the lid?" she muttered sarcastically when I gave it back to her. Let her be sulky. At least she didn't find the blade.
She looked at the paper for a long moment. "Hey! These are tickets for a vacation! I can't believe it! Renee will flip! You don't mind, do you? All that sun?"
"I think I can handle it, as long as you're there." 'Gag' again.
She reached for my present, and I unwrapped that for her too. It was the CD I'd burned for her. She stared at, perplexed. "What is it?"
This is something we call a CD, Bella. People in the twenty-first century listen to them sometimes, when their MP3 players or iPods break down, and they haven't bought a new one yet. Sorry, I guess I should've known you would need some explanation.
…Was what I wanted to say, but instead I said nothing, just took it and placed it inside her CD player and hit play.
The sound of her "lullaby" drifted softly through the room. She recognized it, and soon tears were dripping down her cheeks. She's as sentimental as your average human, at least.
This was getting tiresome. "It's getting late," I said, and quickly scooped her up and tucked her into bed. I lay down next to her-outside the blanket, chaste and unscandalous as you please, and put my arm around her. She leaned into me and sighed.
"Thanks again," she whispered.
"Hey, I was thinking, since it's still my birthday, I'd like you to kiss me again."
"We're greedy tonight, aren't we?"
"Mm-hm." She tilted her face up to mine.
I obliged, and met her halfway. This would be our last kiss for quite some time, so I made it something to remember. I kissed her harder, more urgently, threading my fingers through her hair and holding her head against mine.
She responded enthusiastically, more than I anticipated, moving her mouth on mine and thrusting her body up towards mine through the thin blanket. This was what I was hoping for, somewhere down the line, this complete surrender to me.
I stopped kissing her and pushed her gently away from me. She collapsed onto her pillow, gasping. "Well, that was a little out of line," I said.
"I certainly don't mind." I bet you don't, you lusty wench.
"Go to sleep, Bella."
"No, I want you to kiss me again."
"You're testing my self-control." There was a bit of truth to that. "Stop pushing your luck and go to sleep."
She pouted, but settled in to sleep, curling into my body.
Sleep well, Isabella Swan. If everything goes as planned, it's the last time you will for quite some time…