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Midnight Sun (24. Blood)

There were distant sounds of a fight, the loud noise of a vampire being torn apart, but my eyes were only able to see one thing �C Bella. She was lying on the ground, crumpled, broken, while the pool of blood continued to grow wider underneath her. The red fluid, spilling, wasting, on the floor, the scent pulsing through the air. The amount was cataclysmic, as each second passed a distinctive, yet intangible, spice of the most delicious aroma left burning lacerations in my aching throat. My knee was placed resolutely in the middle of the puddle, soaking me in her blood…her life. I took a deep breath and ignored my longing, my lust, my ravenous desire – I focused on the angel.

"Bella," I soothed her. "You're going to be fine." Unresponsive, detached. A plea entered my voice. "Can you hear me, Bella? I love you." I sent a reverent petition to which ever god would answer a creature like me.

"Edward," she croaked, answering my silent request.

"Yes, I'm here," I declared earnestly.

Slow, small, and irregular quantity of tears trickled down her cheeks. "It hurts," she uttered many inarticulate lamentations of grief as her eyes closed tightly.

Her words plagued and tormented me. I lightly brushed her hair from her face. "I know, Bella, I know." I shifted my posture to Carlisle. "Can't you do anything?" I asked him urgently, peremptorily.

This doesn't look good. I need you to prepare yourself for the worst. "My bag please," Carlisle reached his hand out.

The scent…Alice's eyes were wild when she passed the bag to him.

"Hold your breath, Alice, it will help," Carlisle declared while grabbing his bag.

"Alice?" Bella questioned in a sustained mournful cry.

Alice continued to hold her breath, unable to answer her. Bella, she lamented a sigh silently.

"She's here," I assured her. "She knew where to find you," I silently thanked Alice as our eyes met for a fraction of a second.

Alice made a slight and quick bend of her head. Not soon enough, her eyes were deep with sorrow.

A quick glance around the room brought the total devastation and destruction back into focus. The mirror was cracked and shiny blood was smeared across the floor and mirrors.

"My hand hurts," Bella mumbled in an almost unintelligible extent, bringing me back from my distraction.

"I know, Bella." Another scorch mark broke down my throat as I took in another breath to answer the angel who was lying in front of me.

I'm about to administer some morphine into her system. Her pain should go away fairly quick after that.

"Carlisle will give you something, it will stop."

All the noise, the fighting, the sound of cracking wood, it was all drowned out when a sharp and piercing cry echoed through the Ballet Studio. "My hand is burning," Bella shouted, her eyes fluttering, trying to open but were restricted because of the blood.

"Bella?" I cried out, frightened. I felt a great mental suffering, as her screams were slowly torturing me.

The morphine should be working.

Another loud wail. "The fire! Someone stop the fire!" she screamed and moaned in paroxysms of grief.

I looked over my shoulder as Emmett was starting a fire to burn James �C but it was nowhere near us. I turned back to her, going to the source of her first cries. There were perfect teeth imprints on her wrist where a vampire, I growled in rage, had bit her.

"Carlisle! Her hand!" I yelled in disgust, hoping he might have a remedy or that I was wrong all together. An icy surge of terror filled my lungs.

I watched as his eyes looked over the outline of the mark. "He bit her." Carlisle stated in revulsion.

A deep breath entered my lungs as her scent rippled down my flaming throat, the horror entering my body. My view was obliterated by anger �C I was seeing red.

I can't do it. "Edward, you have to do it," Alice commanded while wiping the blood out of Bella's eyes. Her stare was so intent you would think she was trying to force Bella to mend just by looking at her.

"No," I roared, looking at Carlisle, hoping he would tell me something different.

"Alice," Bella cried in a low, mournful sound.

Edward, if you want her to stay human… "There may be a chance," Carlisle persisted.

"What?" I begged, not understanding why they wanted me to do it.

"See if you can suck the venom back out. The wound is fairly clean," Carlisle explained as he stitched Bella's head wound.

The shock from this statement was so huge it rooted me to the spot for several seconds.

"Will that work?" Alice's throat was obstructed by the fear of losing her friend.

I assume it would work the same as a snake bite. "I don't know," he admitted. "But we have to hurry." You have to do this, Edward; I can't do this for you.

The thought of consuming her blood, even if it was saving her life sent pleasure and pain flooding into my body. To taste her would be wrong…fallacious. I felt utterly disgusted with myself but the temptation was growing. My veins felt like they were being filled with acid as I contemplated putting her life in more danger…the liability…to place her in mortal peril, where she may never come back to me… I felt like I was choking. "Carlisle…I," I faltered. The thoughts tilted back and forth in my mind like a see saw. "I don't know if I can do that," the words were laced with the agony that was consuming me, I felt like I was being strangled, desperate for air.

Carlisle was working quickly over Bella's head, pulling a needle through her skin over and over, sewing her up. He looked at my face. "It's your decision, Edward, either way. I can't help you. I have to get this bleeding stopped here if you're going to be taking blood from her hand."

Bella jerked a quick sharp pull of her body. Another thrust and a suddenly arrested motion as she thrashed against the burning pain in her hand as my mind was racing for alternatives. "Edward!" she shouted spasmodically. Her eyes flew open and her dark brown eyes darted around in every direction until they landed on me.

Watching her writhing in burning pain, pain that I remember well, burnt me, like I could feel it too. I could take the pain away �C I could make it all stop �C but would I take her life in the process?

"Alice, get me something to brace her leg!" Carlisle shouted as he was finishing up the stitches on Bella's head. Maybe he should let her become a vampire; it would make things a whole lot easier. "Edward, you must do it now, or it will be too late."

At his thoughts �C to think of Bella as a vampire �C death would be better than this…this…life. Bella was beginning to jerk in violent spasmodic muscular movements, the abrupt motions making her leg flail limply around. Carlisle caught her leg to hold it still.

Now, Carlisle ordered in his head. I shot him a furtive look.

My fingers wrapped around her tiny and delicate wrist, preventing her involuntary reflexes, like she was pulling her hand away from a flame. The desire to taste, the agony of the bite…every second I bent closer to her my mind tittered on an unstable line of right and wrong. My mind was traveling between two different worlds. Reason, truth, maybe some standard or principle �C this had to be the solution; the right answer. Not proper, awry, not appropriate. The thoughts scattered across my already stressed mind as I bent down further.

She thrust against my hold making the prolonged pain of my intense mental suffering grow exponentially. Her breathing was harsh and ragged as her wild yells filled the studio, reverberating off the mirrors and walls. My lips touched her skin, the fresh blood soaking into my lips. Hunger. Completely ravenous. I pulled her blood from the bite wound and it rushed into my mouth. The blood was hot and wet in my mouth. Sensations I'd never felt before tingled my tongue, sending a pleasurable warmth down my frozen and dry aching throat. Each second the monster was threatening to take over as he reared his head in appreciation.

She screamed and lashed, struggling to get away from my grip. I knew it was hurting her, but my instincts had taken over, I held her tighter, intensely eager to devour the palatable, savory…delectable…I tried not to moan in pleasure. The luxuriant fullness that had consumed me brought intense satisfaction. I was ultimately determined to seize her, to have all of her, as I sucked down the blood in large gluttonous amounts.

I could feel her becoming limp in my strong grasp as I continued my consumption of her gratifyingly warm, red…crimson blood.

"Edward," Bella mumbled incoherently, bringing me from my frenzy �C like a soft voice had just whispered in my ear.

Edward! Please…please don't kill her. Stop! Alice cried in her mind, not wanting to scare Bella. "He's right here, Bella." Her voice trembled slightly, her visions showing her an unsure course.

Bella's eyes rolled in her head like marbles on an unstable surface. She was dying. With a stupendous effort I let go, placing her hand down gently, forcibly reminding myself of her delicate nature. The dazzling sunlight of the day bathed the studio with a natural light, making the pool of blood glitter.

Bella was silent and limp, her heart barely pumping the little amount of blood that was left in her body. Did I kill her? I felt like someone had just stabbed me in my heart. Would this be her brutal ending? I felt a horrible compression in my chest at my thoughts. They placed an inexcusable trust in me! I looked at her intently, waiting for another reaction with increasing desperation. She took an unsteady breath �C the small cry of pain still present. I was devoutly thankful to whatever god had been watching over her this morning.

"Stay, Edward, stay with me…" She barely breathed. I sighed heavily at the beautiful angel voice.

"I will," I promised, the stress of the situation still evident in my triumphant voice. I put her words on repeat in my mind, realizing even though I put her in this danger and almost sucked her dry of life, she still loved me…still wanted me to stay with her. I brushed my hand lightly against her cheek.

A small sigh escaped her lips, her pain obviously dulling as her eyes closed lightly.

You didn't kill her, Carlisle thought proudly. "Is it all out?" he checked.

I didn't kill her. The relief was so exquisite it was nearly pain. The ache…anxiety, my oppression was slowly dissipating. "Her blood tastes clean," I breathed a sigh of relief. "I can taste the morphine."

Let's make sure before we take her to the hospital. The morphine might be covering up the pain. "Bella?" Carlisle called out, bringing Bella from an almost slumber.

Bella didn't bother to open her eyes, her body lying limp on the ground. "Mmmmm?"

"Is the fire gone?" Carlisle stared at me, waiting for the answer.

Bella's voice was slow and sluggish. "Yes," she sighed. "Thank you, Edward."

I felt a profound feeling of warmth radiate from my body. "I love you," I breathed in deep affection. To taste something so sensational and be able to stop… I sighed, the benevolent reverence I had for her grew suddenly, like she was divine in nature.

"I know," she breathed once more, her words becoming incoherent with sleep.

At her words �C her almost sarcastic words, a low chuckle escaped my lips. The sound was doused in relief.

Did you see her mother? Is she dead? Carlisle's face looked grave. We both listened for a moment, trying to hear a heart beat…someone breathing, but there was nothing. I shook my head.

"Bella?"

Her lips twitched into a frown. "What?" she mumbled.

"Where is your mother?" he asked.

"In Florida," she sighed. Then her face barely distorted in anger. "He tricked me, Edward. He watched our videos."

I gritted my teeth in anger, the reminder of James came to the forefront of my mind as I looked over my shoulder at the rapidly growing flames that were licking up the walls of the studio.

"Alice." Bella's eyes fluttered and failed to open. "Alice," she called again. "The video �C he knew you, Alice, he knew where you came from," her voice drifted off weakly. "I smell gasoline," she added quietly.

This building is going to be up in flames shortly, we need to leave. "It's time to move her," Carlisle looked at me. Can you carry her? You must be careful not to hold her too tightly. We don't want her ribs protruding into her organs.

I nodded my head.

"I want to sleep," Bella protested.

"You can sleep, sweetheart, I'll carry you," I tried to soothe her as I brought her gently into my arms, like she was a delicate soap bubble. She's more fragile than a soap bubble, I laughed internally, the first real signs of the ending danger."Sleep now, Bella," I kissed her lightly on the forehead, the blood unaffecting me in this most relief filled moments.

She fell limp in my arms, her eyes shut lightly, like she was in a deep slumber. I emerged from the flames of the studio as Alice opened the car door of the Cadillac for me. I slowly laid her down in the backseat. I sat beside her, pulling her into my lap. I wanted to keep her as close to me as possible. I looked up through the shining sunlight, where Alice was glittering like millions of tiny facets were embedded in her skin, and noticed the relief on her face also.

"Where's Emmett and Jasper?" I wondered, catching a glimpse of the Mercedes still parked out front.

"They've gone back to the hotel. I'm not riding with you, I'm going to meet them there. We are going to set up a…scenario." I saw in her mind the plan �C they were going to break the glass wall of one of the stair wells �C saying Bella had fallen down the stairs and through the window, causing her injuries.

"Will that work?" I asked.

"Yes." She stated while shutting the door and sprinting off in the dark shadows around the buildings.

Carlisle was already in the driver's seat, the car starting. I didn't speak, and neither did he during our ride to the hospital, though I could always hear his thoughts.

I guess the glass from the window and falling down stairs could account for her injuries. Hum… Alice is truly clever.

I can't believe Edward was able to stop when Bella's blood calls to him so absolutely.

Two lefts and a right…

We pulled into the emergency room lane, Carlisle helped Bella out of the car and handed her back to me. I carried her through the large glass doors as they slid open for me automatically. The nurse at the front desk stood immediately, gasped at the sight of the blood, her thoughts becoming panicky, and ran to get help. Soon there were doctors and more nurses running through the halls, all ready to help her. It pained me to see the slowness that they moved, though their pace was particularly fast considering they were just mere humans. I brushed her face lightly as I placed her on the gurney.

"My name's Dr. Carlisle Cullen. I would like to help in any way that I can. She is like family to me," Carlisle spoke quickly to the doctor on duty.

I knew he was beginning to feel this away about her, but he had never thought or said that statement out loud. She was family, though. To see all of the Cullen's, even Rosalie, ban together to protect the one fragile human that I loved so deeply made me realize that maybe she was my destiny…that even after tasting her blood, I was able to keep her alive.

I shook my head. It was idiotic to think that way. I would have never tasted her blood if it weren't for me putting her in danger in the first place. This was entirely my fault. She was being rushed to surgery because of me. Her bones are broken…she was bit by a vampire! Each thought was a struggle, I saved her, but she wouldn't have needed saving had I never invited her into my secret life.

Another thought. When I left Forks…if I never returned…she would be dead now. I saved her! The battle between right and wrong was taking over my body as I sunk down into the nearest chair and waited for some news.

A couple of very long minutes later Alice came prancing through the doors, exultant at her prized display of a fake accident, her eyes were reminiscent.

Carlisle came bursting through the big white emergency doors.

"We need permission from her mother or father before she can have surgery."

"Already done," Alice trilled. "She should be calling the hospital in three seconds."

Suddenly the phone rang and the nurses' station picked up.

"Hold on just one minute, Mrs. Dwyer," the nurse pressed the hold button and then another button to send the call back to the doctor on duty.

"That's my cue," Carlisle said. "I'll keep you informed." He turned on his heal and walked smoothly and gracefully through the doors sending an everything will be all right, thought my way.

I sighed and sank down into a chair. I sat still for an hour. A very long hour. I still hadn't recovered from the shock of seeing Bella in such a broken state as I sat there frozen and unmoving. Hate and revulsion were there, squarely in my chest, reminding me of the monster I am. I sat there, silent and unmoving �C rigid as a wax work while the battle raged inside me. I kept turning cold thinking about what would have happened if I hadn't shown up. I shuddered.

Another hour passed, and this one was longer than the first. I begged the earth to crack open and swallow me whole. Alice didn't say anything, just sitting quietly next to me, realizing it wasn't a good time to talk. I hoped to deflect any invitation to join into a conversation with her. Alice continued to gaze dreamily out the window. I heard feet racing down the hall way and I looked to my right as Carlisle busted through the big white emergency doors to report on how Bella was doing.

"She's going to be fine. She will be out of surgery shortly. There was a lot of damage to her leg, but they were able to fix it. She should have no permanent damage," Carlisle informed me, placing his hand on my shoulder, speaking bracing words of comfort. "Relax. I'll show you where her room will be."

I leapt to my feet. We walked slowly through the hallways of the hospital; the walls were bland and off white. There was a sickening smell in the air…the smell of iodine and death. We reached big metal doors to an elevator. Alice pressed the button to go up, already knowing which room we were going to be in. I waited impatiently for the doors to open. Ding. The elevator doors opened to admit us and we all three stepped through them, Alice once again pressing the button, one that said four.

I felt a shifting under me as my stone like body was slowing ascending the many floors of the building. Ding. The doors opened to admit us onto the fourth floor, which was just as boring as the first.

"This way," Alice said.

I followed her until we reached room four-oh-eight. I stepped through the threshold. No Bella. I sank down in the chair next to the bed, waiting once again impatiently. I leaned over and put my head in my hands, trying to dislodge the thoughts and feelings that were consuming my body, setting it aflame and then dousing it with cold water. The scent was still strongly present on my hands. I pulled them away to examine the damage. There was no white space, my hands were covered in scarlet blood.

A stubby nurse walked into the room. "Oh," she gasped. "I didn't realize anyone was in here."

I looked up at her and she jumped back several feet. His eyes!

I looked away quickly.

"I'll just come back…" she bustled out of the room quickly.

"That's right! I almost forgot," Alice chimed in.

"What is it, Alice?" I groaned.

She tossed me a small white box. I flipped it over in my hands. Contacts. Crap, another reminder, I thought angrily. I went into the bathroom to place the contacts over my bright red eyes…bright red because of Bella's blood. All of this because of my…need. It was true, I needed Bella. Would I ever be able to leave her and stop bringing danger to her door step? I fluttered my eye as an obstruction fell over my vision. I could see every line and contour of the wretched thing. I pulled the other contact out to place in my other eye. I brought my face close to the mirror, studying it. I was oddly flushed and more pink than normal; my eye was scarlet red because I was full of human blood. The gleaming red eye reminded me of the monster that I am. I sighed and placed the contact in my eye as my vision became obstructed again.

I washed my hands thoroughly, watching the water turn red and run down the drain. I walked out of the bathroom.

"Much better," Alice said.

I heard a squeal of wheels being pushed down the lament floor. Be prepared, Carlisle warned.

Worry and anxiety filled my stomach like acid as I stood to open the door, realizing I had less resolution than ever.

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