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Midnight Sun (Chapter 15)

As I swiftly proceed through the forest I noticed that the sky was still cloudy enough that I wouldn't catch the attention of any unsuspecting humans until mid-afternoon. I was slightly apprehensive about today's events. My family had become more encouraging of my decisions surrounding Bella, but the outcome of her fate was still questionable. Alice had assured me one more time before I left home that Bella would be fine, and that she would still be close, "just in case." I knew what I willed her fate to be, but the many outcomes all appeared to be impractical to me. Take her life? Not hardly! Turn her into a vampire so I could keep her? Take her soul? So selfish – or I could leave her human and watch as she out grows me – I sighed.

The trees around me were becoming less dense and I was suddenly outside Bella's house. I advanced to her door, something I had never done before. I had constantly been scaling the walls and climbing in and out through the window when entering this house. It was relatively quiet. It was divulged of any thoughts. I heard buoyant footsteps coming down the stairs. I nimbly knocked on her front door, immediately tense. I listened to her fumble around with the dead bolt, but a second later she flung the door wide open, sending a wave of her heady scent towards me. I wasn't expecting it so suddenly. I had to move the dry ache of my thirst to the back of my mind, today is about Bella, I reminded myself. I finally gazed at her and noticed that she was wearing a white shirt with a tan sweater and blue jeans. I started laughing because I was wearing something similar.

"Good morning," I chuckled.

"What's wrong?" she glanced down at her clothes with panic in her voice.

"We match." I laughed again.

I saw her eyes travel from my collar down to my jeans and she joined in with my laughter. She marched out of the house then, and shut the door behind her, locking it. I turned to walk to her truck, remembering I conceded in our dispute of who would drive today. A cool breeze blew her aroma in my direction and I was instantly grateful that the majority of the day would be spent in the great outdoors, where her scent was not nearly as potent. I turned and looked at her as she walked towards the truck. She had a smug look on her face.

"We made a deal," she reminded me haughtily as she wrenched herself up into the driver's side seat.

I grimaced.

"Where to?" she asked.

"Put your seat belt on �C I'm nervous already." I commanded, even though I was mostly teasing. There is no accident I couldn't protect her from.

She gave me a menacing look and reached over her shoulder and pulled the seat belt across her lap and buckled herself in.

She sighed, "Where to?" she repeated.

"Take the one-oh-one north." I instructed.

The heat coming from the vents in the truck sent her rich scent flooding into my lungs. The constant dull pain that her scent caused me was suddenly fierce. I stared at her face while she drove, a reminder that the most exquisite soul was next to me and that I needed to immediately cage the monster. I began planning the day in my head. If I knew what was to be expected, I would be less likely to make a mistake. That's right, no mistakes today! The problem with my planning was that I wasn't sure if we were going to make it to the meadow before the day ended because of how slow her truck was.

"Were you planning to make it out of Forks before night fall?" I teased, hoping it would encourage a faster pace.

"This truck is old enough to be your car's grandfather �C have some respect." She retorted.

I continued to look fixedly at her. The anticipation of being all alone with Bella in the most peaceful meadow was causing a different type of monster to rear its head up now; infatuation maybe? It was electricity that was flowing through me now, preparing to be freed at a moment's touch. We were about to approach our next turn, "Turn right on the one-ten," I instructed.

She complied silently.

"Now we drive until the pavement ends." I smiled, thinking about how close we were to being by ourselves.

Some would consider our time now to mean 'alone', but my mind was abundantly full of the never ending humming and buzzing of thoughts. The meadow, my little slice of heaven, was one of the few places where I was able to give my mind some peace.

Bella's face turned curious, "and what's there, at the pavements end?" she asked.

"A trail."

"We're hiking?" she asked with panic in her tone.

"Is that a problem?"

"No," she lied.

"Don't worry, it is only five miles or so, and we're in no hurry." Hoping my words would calm her.

I could understand her panic though; she couldn't walk across a room without tripping, falling, or running into something. The woods must seem like a mine field to her. She had nothing to worry about though, if she were to trip, I would gladly save her from hitting the ground. It would be so easy to place my hand lightly, gently, under her elbow as I helped her through the slippery forest floor. My new desire was pulsing through my skin, sending more electricity through my finger tips. This new – desire – was now adding to the constant pressure in my chest.

I fixed my eyes on her face, trying to comprehend the apparent terror in her eyes. Her expression altered numerous times, and instead of internally imploring my mind to finally perceive her thoughts, I decided I would simply make a request.

"What are you thinking?" I beseeched.

"Just wondering where we're going." She replied smoothly; she was hiding her fright.

I wanted to ease her mind a bit, so I provided a hint, "It's a place I like to go when the weather is nice."

I glanced out the window and she followed my gaze. The sky was still cloudy enough that my skin wasn't emitting rainbows.

"Charlie said it would be warm today," she mused.

Ah, Charlie. I remembered that she refused to tell him about our outing. Had she changed her mind about that?

"And did you tell Charlie what you were up to?" I asked.

"Nope," she said complacently.

Of course not. But, she did tell Jessica about us, and the trip �C hadn't she?

"But Jessica thinks we're going to Seattle together?" I asked. If she told Jessica, then I would have to bring her back, for her family and mine.

"No, I told her you canceled on me �C which is true," she reminded me.

I was suddenly angry. Didn't she want me to bring her back? She would be willing to follow a killer into the woods, alone, and not tell a single soul. I growled internally. Who would know it was me who didn't bring her back home? I didn't want to bring her back and she was eager to tempt me to do just that. The monster began clawing at my chest bones again and I was dangerously irate that she put me in this situation. Hadn't I suffered enough? I pulled myself together, for the most part, before I responded.

"No one knows you're with me?" I growled.

She looked smug, "That depends… I assume you told Alice?" she pondered.

She thought that Alice knowing would make me want to bring her back?

"That's very helpful, Bella," I snapped, but at the sound of her name exiting my lips the electricity flared up and that new creature sent a lump to my throat. This… desire; a longing; ripped through my body. I glared at her then and she was looking out the windshield like the conversation never took place, so nonchalant. Anger suddenly flared again.

"Are you so depressed by Forks that it's made you suicidal?" I hissed.

"You said it might cause trouble for you… us being together publicly," she reminded me.

Unbelievable! She was worried about my safety, "So you're worried about the trouble it might cause me �C if you don't come home?" my voice rose on the last word.

She never looked away from the road, but nodded her head. She didn't look at all troubled about this!

Unbelievable, I muttered so low she couldn't understand me.

What could she possibly be thinking? Maybe she was sent here from my own personal hell to destroy me! Great – first her scent, then her ever growing presence in my life, and her unspoken thoughts; now she was essentially handing herself over to me on a silver platter. If I hadn't been continuously worried about my family she would have been dead when I first inhaled her heady scent. Now it was this precious soul in the car that I didn't want to destroy, and she was making it inconceivably hard not to. She was driving me to her demise.

Insane. It was the only word to describe her actions. Maybe masochistic?

Bella never took her eyes off the road. She must know that I was infuriated. The road did, though, inevitably end. There was a trail marked by a wooden sign; we would be going the opposite direction. She pulled the truck over, put it in park, and hoped out without one glance in my direction. I was immediately anxious that she didn't want to spend the rest of the day with me. Did I hurt her feelings? If she left me now �C would I let her? Would she forgive me?

I pulled my sweater off and placed it in the truck. It was unnecessary for me to wear something that was supposed to bring warmth when I was a cold creature. I was secretly hoping that the sun would warm my skin when it eventually appears through the clouds. I shut the door harder then I intended. I turned towards the forest and quietly reminded myself, no mistakes.

"This way," I called to her.

I glanced over my shoulder to see her confused expression, "The trail?" she asked, terror in her voice. She had removed her sweater too, and it was tied securely around her waist.

"I won't let you get lost," I said with a mocking tone.

She continued to stare at me without moving. Was she frightened now? I couldn't tell for sure �C was she about to run away? Run Bella, run, I thought, then added, stay Bella, stay. She still didn't move, and I was again asking myself the ever prominent question, what is she thinking? I remembered that the best way to break her from her dejection was to guess what she was thinking. She would correct me if I were wrong, so I asked, "Do you want to go home?" Pain broke through my voice without my permission.

"No," she answered while walking towards me until she was close enough that I could feel the warmth of her body wash over me like a tidal wave.

Her delectable scent made the monster inside me initiate it's slow clawing up my throat. I looked in her eyes, and there was still something distressing her. Fear maybe?

"What's wrong?" I asked, apprehensive.

"I'm not a good hiker," she looked glum; "You'll have to be very patient."

This wasn't a challenge. "I can be patient �C if I make a great effort." I stared into her eyes and smiled, hoping she would realize that I wasn't lying. She didn't look convinced. Maybe she was finally coming to her senses. Was she afraid? Was it really fear I was sensing? Fear, I scoffed internally.

"I'll take you home," I assured her.

Abruptly she responded, "If you want me to hack five miles through the jungle before sundown, you'd better start leading the way," she hissed.

So it wasn't fear that I saw, it was anger? Of course, I thought. I stood there frozen for a moment and frowned. I concealed a sigh and started towards the forest.

I knew the forest well, and I chose a path that would be easiest for Bella. There were a few places where I had to move branches and hold down ferns to help her pass. When boulders and downed trees were in our path I hesitated only briefly. I didn't want to offer my hand, still worried that my ice cold skin would repulse her. I concentrated a great deal when I finally reached out to steady her by lifting her by her elbow. I knew if I were to hold any part of her body besides there, my desires would take over and I would bring my cold lips to her soft, warm ones. Each time I helped her, her heart would skip a beat, stutter, falter, and then rapidly pick up in double time. A few times I was worried that her heart had completely stopped.

At one moment, I was helping her over a tree when the thought of kissing her sent a rush of desire through my body and I almost dropped her. She didn't notice. She was concentrating intently on not falling or tripping. After walking in silence for some distance, I decided to distract myself by asking her some more questions. She told me about some of her birthdays with her mother and stories about her grade school teachers. Each time she looked at me her breath sent a rush of longing and electricity through me. I thought of a few more questions, but the funniest answer I heard all day was when I asked her about family pets.

"I have to admit, after killing three fish in a row, I'd given up on the whole institution," she told me.

I laughed so loudly that it echoed through the forest.

I didn't mind being patient with Bella. Every moment spent with her was a blessing. The hours passed and I was holding back the monster inside me and my new found creature, desire. It was easier than I anticipated. How long I could keep them both caged was still a mystery. The sun was beginning to protrude through the tops of the trees. I was feeling a little uneasy about her seeing me in the sunlight. Would that be the moment she decides to leave my world?

"Are we there yet?" Bella asked in mock-rage after several hours of hiking.

"Nearly" I reassured her with a smile, "Do you see the brightness ahead?"

I looked through the dense forest at the bright sunlight beaming through to the opening of a beautiful meadow. I watched her squint her eyes and look impatient.

"Um, should I?" she asked incredulous.

I smirked, "Maybe it's a bit soon for your eyes."

She looked at me then, "Time to visit the optometrist," she grumbled.

Like seeing the optometrist would improve her vision. My grin grew wider across my face.

I noticed when she saw the light from the meadow. The sun was lighting the grassy floor and beautiful colors were reflecting from the different vegetation. I let her lead the way then, following behind her. I wanted her to enter the meadow first. Abruptly, a lump entered my throat at the thought of letting her see my crystal like skin reflecting in the sunlight.

We reached the meadow then. I stopped in the shadows as I watched Bella walk easily into the sunlight. She gazed around with a look of wonder in her eyes. I could see her taking it all in, the flowers, the green grass, and the musical water in the background. She turned then, wondering where I had gone.

I stood, once again, at the edge of the sunlight, like I had that time in Port Angeles. Then, I was fenced in by the dark shadows… so limited, but this time I just needed to make that one simple step. Bella stepped towards me then, curiosity flaring in her eyes. I was reluctant to pass this invisible line. I belonged in the shadows, she belonged in the light. She smiled at me then and moved a step closer. She raised her hand in welcome. I wasn't ready, I put my hand up to stop her before she got to close, and she stopped hesitantly. It was too late, her warmth hit me suddenly and I took in a deep breath. Unthinking, I stepped closer to her, breaking the invisible fence between light and dark.

Author's note: Thank you for the support on this story so far. I feel like with each chapter I become a better writer and if it wasn't for those of you who have been reading it and reviewing I probably would have never gotten this far!

As I stepped into the sunlight my skin instantly absorbed the rays and emitted them back out in a band of colors. I could see my reflection in her deep chocolate eyes and in that moment I became a statue of uneasiness. What would this revelation do to her resolve? Her mouth slightly parted and I could smell her sweet breath on the light breeze. She only hesitated for a second, and then, with deliberate slowness, stepped closer to me, and I could instantly tell it wasn't because she had an aversion to me, but because she was anxious of what my reaction would be. I moved in that moment, a smile slowly spread across my face. She returned my smile immediately.

Neither of us spoke for an immeasurable moment. I couldn't read her thoughts, but I could clearly read her eyes and her facial expressions. She was dazzled, and so was I. She slid down to the forest floor then, and sat with her arms around her knees. I mirrored her actions and lowered myself to the ground next to her.

There were no foreign thoughts in my head at this moment and it was amazingly pleasant. I lay on the ground with my eyes closed. I felt the warm sun on my ice cold skin and hoped that it would warm up my skin so it wouldn't be abhorrent to the touch. As I laid there in silence, I was breathing in her fragrance. Mixed with the outside air and breeze, her scent was more appealing than it should be. As the silence around us grew, I began composing in my head and singing so quietly that I wasn't sure if Bella would be able to hear. She couldn't hear, because she asked after a minute what I was doing.

As I lay there, enjoying the quietness of my mind and the divine essence of Bella, I felt something very lightly caress my hand. She was warm and I felt so many emotions at once, desire �C fear �C anxiety. My desire won my attention though, but the other emotions were still there in the back of my mind. I opened my eyes then, and my eyes met her face. She was the most exquisite creature I had ever seen. Her brown hair had glittering red tints in it when the sunlight hit it just right and her wide eyes were sparkling. She was staring fixedly at my hand, but moved her gaze to meet mine. She looked hesitant, like she was preparing for a scolding. I smiled then.

"I don't scare you?" I tried to sound playful, though I was curious.

"No more than usual," she replied playfully.

My smile grew, and I was nearly grinning from ear to ear. She returned my smile and then moved her stroking fingers up my forearm. I could see her hand quiver slightly as she moved her hand back and forth. I closed my eyes then. I didn't want to look away from her, but my thirst for her touch was growing. Desire was pulsing through my veins. In that moment I pictured grabbing her and holding her to my chest, caressing her back with my hands and pulling her ever closer. I imagined pulling her face into my hands and stroking her cheeks and hair. Desire pulsed through me in waves and I knew she could feel the electricity too. She was still tentative.

"Do you mind?" she inquired.

Didn't she know that she was sending large electric shocks of pleasure through my body?

"No," I replied, still keeping my eyes shut, afraid that if I were to look upon her, I would make my fantasies a reality, and I couldn't let that happen. "You can't imagine how that feels."

I sighed.

She continued to trail her warm fingers across my arm, expanding her search up my arm. I felt the new creature, desire, break through my carefully cultivated fa?ade and divulged into more fantasies. I pictured bringing my lips to her neck, not to take her life, but to kiss lightly. I imagined moving my lips from her neck to her ear where I would whisper how much I loved her.

She grabbed my hand lightly with her free hand and was trying to turn it over. My own nature took over and I flipped my hand, palm up, so fast that her fingers froze on my arm and I realized that I made a mistake. No mistakes, I reminded myself.

"Sorry," I whispered.

I briefly caught a glimpse of her face, making sure I was forgiven. I saw that I was, and closed my eyes again then added, "It's too easy to be myself with you."

She carefully moved my hand back and forth in hers. She was incredibly warm and electricity was throbbing through me. I imagined bringing my lips down her jaw line and then to her unbelievably warm and delicious lips. I sighed internally at the new creature who had broken through all the barriers I had placed to protect this amazing soul next to me. Was she feeling the same desires? I opened my eyes to try and read her expression. Reflections of rainbows were scattered across her face. She looked peaceful. Not being able to hear her thoughts was still taxing. Instantly, I had to know…

"Tell me what you're thinking," I pleaded.

Her eyes swiftly met mine.

"It's still so strange for me, not knowing," I explained.

"You know, the rest of us feel that way all the time," she said, her voice acerbic.

"It's a hard life," I acknowledged.

I willed my mind to hear her thoughts in that moment… even a single sound would quench my ever dying thirst for her knowing mind. I realized then that she hadn't told me what was on her mind, "But you didn't tell me."

She paused for a moment, biting her delicate bottom lip, "I was wishing I could know what you were thinking…" her voice faltered.

I tried to encourage her to continue, "And?"

Her voice accelerated then, "I was wishing that I could believe that you were real. And I was wishing that I wasn't afraid."

I was grief-stricken instantaneously.

"I don't want you to be afraid," I spoke the words that were undeniable. I kept my voice soft, pleading. She should be afraid though, she should fear this menacing creature in front of her. She spoke then, bringing me out of my dejection, "Well, that's not exactly the fear I meant, though that is certainly something to think about."

Without thinking, I propped myself up on my right arm, in a momentum that would have been unsettling to a human, but my Bella didn't move a centimeter. During my movement, my left hand stayed securely in hers. My action had only placed me but a few inches from her glorious face. Electricity exploded in me and it took every fiber of my being not to move those few extra inches and place my lips to her delicate ones. I stared fixedly at her and she was dazzled.

"What are you afraid of, then?" I wondered.

She took a deep breath, and then leaned in, inhaling my scent. I took in the sweet air between us into my lungs, too. I was instantly eager. Ecstasy quickly washed over me and I began to lean closer to place my lips against hers. Before she noticed that I had leaned in too, I did the only thing I could to stop my passion from becoming her death and I fled. I was instantly standing in the shade across the meadow. I tried to leave off any expression that would be readable on my face. I didn't want her to see the monster that almost broke free. Which one? I asked myself.

She looked around until she spotted me and then met my gaze. Her face displayed many emotions until she finally settled on shocked. I immediately felt like reaching into my chest to calm my still heart. I could tell that I had done something to upset her.

"I'm… sorry… Edward," she whispered.

No mistakes, I ordered to myself. I just needed to tame the beast within. The craving for her body was overwhelming.

"Give me a moment," I implored.

I took one �C two – three deep breaths, hoping to dispel any lingering lust for her blood. I am dangerous, I know she saw that, but I didn't want her to know this side of me. I looked at her then, keeping her eyes fixed in mine and walked slowly back into the light, a place I knew I didn't belong. I stopped several feet from her now, trying to bridle my flaming desires. I sank to the ground then, never taking my eyes off Bella. I didn't want to miss a single expression.

I inhaled the air around me, slowly welcoming back her fragrance. I took another breath, just to reassure myself that I could handle this. No mistakes, I reminded myself, though I already knew I had made too many. With our eyes still fixed, I tried to calm her with a smile, "I am so very sorry."

How do I make her understand how sorry I am?

"Would you understand what I meant if I said I was only human?" I asked, hoping that she would comprehend what I was trying to explain to her.

She nodded once, with just a light twitch of her lips. Was she afraid now? Had I made a mistake so devastating that she would never grace me with her presence again? I could hear how hard her heart was working, trying to get the blood to her body as quickly as possible. I realized then, that I had promised myself that I would show her what I truly am, so she could understand why we shouldn't be together. My smile turned devilish in the thought of what I was going to show her now.

"I'm the world's best predator, aren't I? Everything about me invites you in �C my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I need any of that!" I bellowed.

I ran around the meadow two times at my normal pace to add to my statement, "As if you could outrun me," I laughed sharply.

I watched her face, she didn't seem convinced that I was a monster yet so I grabbed the closest branch from the tree next to me and snapped it in half like I was breaking a twig. I held it in my hand effortlessly and then threw it so it hit another tree and it broke into several pieces. She looked frightened then, and I was immediately thrown into purgatory. I had to calm her somehow! I went to her in that instant, standing only two feet away, frozen so I wouldn't scare her.

"As if you could fight me off," I said, tenderly.

Her eyes never left mine, and I watched them grow wide during my attempt to persuade her to see the deplorable creature that I am. She didn't run from me, even after she witnessed the things I could do – the things I could do to her, I added. I felt a lump rise in my throat. She wasn't running… why wasn't she running? I could see the terror in her eyes, yet she stayed. I knew how she felt though; I knew I couldn't leave her either. If she were to stay with me, I couldn't bare to witness her terrified expression, "Don't be afraid," I said gently, "I promise…" the words were all wrong, I paused, thinking. How could I promise something I was so unsure of? "I swear not to hurt you," I refuted.

No mistakes �C I snapped at my new enemy, desire. I looked at her expression then, and I obviously hadn't convinced her.

"Don't be afraid," I begged in a whisper.

I stepped closer, but I gave myself adequate space from her so that I wouldn't be tempted to grab her around the waist, pull her body close to mine, gently grab her chin and direct her mouth to mine… stop there! While I was spinning my fantasies I realized I was now only a foot away from her face, not knowing how I had gotten there.

Keep it together �C I snapped at myself. Desire had surely taken over.

"Please forgive me," I begged, "I can control myself. You caught me off guard. But I'm on my best behavior now." I tried to persuade myself more than anything.

I was beginning to worry about her. Bella hadn't even whimpered or made a single noise since I decided to show her exactly what a vampire was capable of. Hadn't I reassured her that I wouldn't hurt her after my mistake? What else could I say?

"I'm not thirsty today, honestly." I winked trying to show her she could trust me.

She suddenly, and unexpectedly, began laughing. Her silvery bell chime voice shaking slightly. Had she gone mad? Did I finally do something to make her mind snap? Horribly, terrifyingly, I was worried that I had damaged the one person who I loved above all else.

"Are you all right?" I asked delicately.

Maybe if I were to try and put us back together again. I placed my hand back in hers and the warmth made me inhale her heady scent while passion and desire started rearing their heads up in approval. She looked down at my hand then, like I had pulled her out of a deep thought. Her eyes slowly rose to meet mine. I was pleading for forgiveness with my eyes, hoping she could see that I was sorry.

She looked back at my hand again, like she was checking that it was still there. Suddenly I was shivering in pleasure as her fingers began tracing lines up and down my arm again. She returned her gaze to my face again and smiled apprehensively. Was everything back to normal now? I returned her smile quickly so she would feel reassured.

"So where were we, before I behaved so rudely?" I asked, making sure she realized that I was still sorry for my mistake.

"I honestly can't remember," she said, and I was grateful for her response.

I smiled but the remorse was still plain on my face.

"I think we were talking about why you were afraid, besides the obvious reason." I reminded her.

"Oh, right," she paused.

"Well?" I pushed, impatiently.

She looked away from me again, and stared fixedly on my hand that she was caressing. She didn't look back up or respond for several seconds. What are you thinking? I asked internally. I was becoming extremely frustrated.

"How easily frustrated I am," I sighed then.

She returned her gaze to my face, still not responding. I wanted to take her into my arms then, but she saved me from making my mistake by finally responding, "I was afraid… because, for, well, obvious reasons, I can't stay with you. And I'm afraid that I'd like to stay with you, much more than I should."

Her eyes left mine then, returning to our hands. Was she finally admitting what I have been trying to convince her of the whole time? That being with me was dangerous…

"Yes," I agreed, "That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me. That's really not in your best interest."

She frowned then. Was she upset now? What was I doing to this wonderful girl? Will I inevitable kill her?

"I should have left long ago," I sighed. I was now beginning to think aloud, "I should leave now. But I don't know if I can."

She pulled me out of my thoughts, "I don't want you to leave," she whimpered, looking at our hands again.

Why did she have to make everything so difficult? Why did she have to want me as absolutely as I wanted her?

"Which is exactly why I should. But don't worry. I'm essentially a selfish creature. I crave your company too much to do what I should," I said. I crave more than just her company, I crave her body, her blood, her soft sweet lips…

"I'm glad."

"Don't be!" I snapped.

I pulled my hand from her grip. I couldn't let her go if she was holding onto me. I showed her what kind of a monster I am and she becomes frightened �C then I try to reassure her that I won't hurt her… What is my problem? I moved my gaze from her face to the forest, knowing I couldn't let her go if I was staring at her, looking into those deep chocolate eyes.

"It's not only your company I crave. Never forget that. Never forget I am more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else." I realized I had become harsh, and again, I was nervous that I might have hurt her feelings.

I heard her heart beating. It was a heavenly sound. She spoke then, "I don't think I understand exactly what you mean �C by that last part anyway."

I turned to look at her then; I hadn't expected her to ask this question. I smiled, realizing I never truly explained what her blood does to me.

"How do I explain?" I deliberated, "And without frightening you again… hmmmm."

My hand was suddenly warm again, and I realized that it had found its way back into her hands. I reached out and placed it there without even giving it my permission. I was distracted immediately, "That's amazingly pleasant, the warmth." I sighed.

I began thinking of how I could explain what her blood does to me. What could I say that would make it not sound like I was fighting to not drink her blood every second I was around her? It's true, the monster has been clawing less, but that is because my desires to possess her in other ways had become forefront in my mind. Maybe a food analogy?

"You know how everyone enjoys different flavors?" I asked, "Some people love chocolate ice cream, others prefer strawberry?"

She nodded, and I decided that maybe food wasn't the best way to explain this, "Sorry about the food analogy �C I couldn't think of another way to explain."

She smiled and I returned it. I mulled over how to explain this craving I have, "You see, every person smells different, has a different essence. 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. Now, let's say you placed in that room a glass of hundred-year-old brandy, the rarest, finest cognac �C and filled the room with its warm aroma �C how do you think he would fare then?" I tried to explain.

I stared fixedly at her then, waiting for her to understand. Alcohol was such a weak comparison. How her blood could ever compare to something so flagrant. At that moment, a light breeze enhanced what I was thinking. Her scent continued to leave a dry dull ache in my throat. She still hadn't answered.

"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." I decided.

I had never drank alcohol or did any type of drug, those things do nothing for me, but I do know what these things could do to a human. My degrees in medicine helped me understand these types of addictions, but my addiction to Bella was still no comparison.

"So what you're saying is, I'm your brand of heroin?" she asked playfully.

She always knew what to say to lift my spirits. I smiled at her, "Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin."

"Does that happen often?" she asked me.

It doesn't happen often, I have only seen it too clearly in Emmett's mind what happened when he crossed paths with someone who smelled as delicious as Bella does to me. I didn't know how to answer her question without making her fear me more, but maybe she needed another dose of fear, "I spoke to my brothers about it." I told her.

I looked away from her as I spoke, not wanting to see her reaction to what I was about to tell her, "To Jasper, every one of you is much the same. He's the most recent to join our family. It's a struggle for him to abstain at all. He hasn't had time to grow sensitive to the differences in smell, in flavor." I inclined my head in her direction, hoping she would understand I was sorry that I would have to tell her the rest, "Sorry." I murmured.

"I don't mind. 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," she commanded me.

Silly Bella, I'm always worried about your well being, even your mental health, I thought. I gulped in some of the air around us. Her scent went rushing down my throat and filled my lungs with a burning hunger, emphasizing my explanation, "So Jasper wasn't sure if he'd ever come across someone who was as," I hesitated, making sure I'd pick a word that wouldn't scare her, "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?"

"Never," I responded.

We were both silent then. What was she thinking now?

"What did Emmett do?" she asked.

I wished she hadn't asked this question. I clenched my teeth as I remembered what happened just as clearly as Emmett had when he was telling me about his experiences. Of course, the humans didn't survive. Bella will live, I promised myself, because I knew I couldn't live without her now.

"I guess I know," she said, taking the burden off my shoulders.

I looked at her then, wishing she would understand that I didn't want her fate to be like those other humans, that I loved her and would do everything in my power to protect her. I sighed internally; "Even the strongest of us fall off the wagon, don't we?" the thought was wistful.

"What are you asking? My permission?" she hissed acidly, "I mean, is there no hope then?" she said softly.

She spoke openly about her death, like she would have welcomed it if it came from me. How could she possibly think there was no hope? Hadn't I proven that I was stronger than I was when I first engulfed her fragrance? I was instantly repentant, "No, no! Of course there's hope! I mean, of course I won't…" take your life, I added mentally.

I was gazing into her wide eyes. I wanted to explain to her that I was different then my brother. I just wanted her to understand that there was hope.

"It's different for us. Emmet… these were strangers he happened across. It was a long time ago, and he wasn't as… practiced, as careful, as he is now."

I watched her expressions. She was in deep thought. She bit at her lower lip and instantly I wondered what her lower lip would taste like. She broke through my fantasy before it got out of control, "So if we'd met… oh, in a dark alley or something…" she left the sentence hanging.

I answered without thinking, "It took everything I had not to jump up in the middle of that class full of children and – " I realized I was about to tell her that I thought about snapping all of their necks and saving her for last so I could enjoy her warm blood alone. I decided to leave some details out, "When you walked past me, I could have ruined everything Carlisle has built for us, right then and there. 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 paused, looking into the trees. A scowl ever present on my face by the choice of our topic. I glanced at her and I could see that she was remembering that first meeting, too.

"You must have thought I was possessed," I said grimly.

"I couldn't understand why. How you could hate me so quickly…" she trailed off.

"To me, it was like you were some kind of demon, summoned straight from my own personal hell to ruin me. 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…" the memory bit at my cold heart.

Bella's lips had parted then, a little gasp of horror etched into her skin.

"You would have come," I told her.

And she would have. The way Bella flocks towards danger, it would have been very easy. I remembered how I had planned to take her as soon as I got her by myself and grimaced internally.

"Without a doubt," she replied

I removed my eyes from her face then, and frowned down at our hands. I was remembering that first day, "And then, as I tried to rearrange my schedule in a pointless attempt to avoid you, you were there �C in that close, warm little room, the scent was maddening. I so very nearly took you then. There was only one other frail human there �C so easily dealt with."

I felt her tremble and was immediately concerned that I had said too much. Her eyes were blank, like she was remembering something awful, and she trembled again. I was instantly angry with myself for ever making her feel that way. My behavior that first day was something I have tried to forget, but my mind is not like a human's, I retain every last detail of every moment. She didn't speak.

"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 �C I was too ashamed to tell them how weak I was, they only knew something was very wrong �C and then I went straight to Carlisle, at the hospital, to tell him I was leaving." I explained to her.

Of all the things I did that day after I had inhaled the most delicious blood ever, fleeing was the only one I was satisfied with. If I hadn't, surely she would be dead �C my eyes crimson. I continued my story,

"I traded cars with him �C he had a full tank of gas and I didn't want to stop. I didn't dare 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… By the next morning I was in Alaska," chagrin was etched in my face. I know it was weak to run away, but what else could I have done?

Bella sat there, frozen, enveloped in my story. I continued, "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" �C I smiled at the fact that I ever thought her insignificant because she was the most significant thing in my world, "to chase me from the place I wanted to be? So I came back…" I peered into the forest then, remembering how my family surrounded me my first day back at school, afraid I'd still kill her.

Bella was speechless. Her fingers were still slowly moving up and down my arm. Telling her this story now, I suddenly felt free. I wanted to explain this to her since the first time I came back to school, to explain the reasons for loathing her so much that first day. I wanted Bella to be acquainted with everything about me. I continued, "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 frowned, trying once more to make my mind explore hers with no luck.

"I wanted you to forget my behavior that first day, if possible, so I tried to talk with 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 expressions… 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 of a perfectly good excuse for why I acted at that moment �C 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 closed my eyes then, remembering that fateful day; the van rushing towards her, me running to save her. I remembered how I was very afraid I had hurt her… and I remember it was the first time I had held her in my arms, securely to my chest. I was craving to hold her to me again. Bella pulled me from my distraction, "In the hospital?" she asked.

My eyes met hers then, "I was appalled. I couldn't believe I had put us in danger after all, put myself in your power �C you of all people. As if I needed another motive to kill you." I felt a jolt of pain at the thought, and I felt Bella shiver too, "But it had the opposite effect," I told her quickly, trying to reassure her, "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," of course, Alice was thinking I would turn her.

I frowned at the thought but continued, "Esme told me to do whatever I had to in order to stay." I tried to shake the uneasiness I was feeling, because the only way I would stay, was to stop seeing her, and I knew that there was nothing that would prevent me from seeing her, now. The pain I would endure if I were to leave her was inconceivable.

"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 to stay as far from you as possible. And every day the perfume of your skin, your breath, your hair… it hit me as hard as the very first day." My eyes found hers then.

My lungs took in the air around us, and the scent was the most delicious fragrant. I took in one more gulp of air and continued, hoping I hadn't scared her off, "And for all that, I'd have fared better if I had exposed us all that first moment, than if now, here �C with no witnesses and nothing to stop me �C I were to hurt you."

I was still irritated at the fact that she hadn't told a single soul that she was spending the day with me.

"Why?" she asked.

I didn't understand why she had to ask, didn't she know that it would cause me physical pain to hurt her now, that I loved her more than my own existence?

"Isabella." I said, letting her know that I was being nothing but serious by saying her full name. I stared into her eyes then, and my hand came up and I carefully ruffled her hair with my free hand. The current of electricity was now going in one hand and out the other, being released and zapping again with our touches, like we were meant to be joined together.

"Bella, I couldn't live with myself if I ever hurt you. You don't know how it's tortured me." I looked down, away from her gaze because I was abashed. I didn't want the words to exit my mouth, but she had to know, "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." I returned my gaze to her eyes then, "You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever."

At the sound of my words, a craving burst through my chest and it wasn't for her blood, it was for her soul. I wanted to hold this precious soul close to me and never let go. To protect it from anything and everything that would harm it. I continued to stare fixedly upon her face, she had looked down, securing my hand in hers… reaffirming that she felt the same way. She spoke then, "You already know how I feel, of course. I'm here… which roughly translated, means I would rather die than stay away from you." Her lips turned down then, "I'm an idiot."

"You are an idiot," I agreed, but I couldn't help but laugh. She met my gaze then and joined in with my laughter. My cold dead heart squeezed in that moment. I felt eager to pull our bodies together, to intertwine them. After everything I confessed today, she still wanted to be with me, she was continually saying yes to me. At that moment, I wanted to confess my feelings for her. I wanted to bring her close to my body and whisper what she meant to me. I finally spoke, "And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…," I whispered.

She looked away then and her cheeks began to flush.

"What a stupid lamb," she sighed.

"What a sick masochistic lion." I murmured.

I had wondered if she were masochistic before, about not telling anyone we were together today and realized it was me who gained gratification from pain, not her. Every breath, every touch… it was exceedingly painful and fantastic. Every moment of pain I was feeling was pleasurable because I was able to be with her. I continued to seek her out and deny myself a touch. I was the only one who was masochistic here.

"Why…?" Bella asked, not finishing her question. She had paused, like she wasn't sure how to finish. Ah, what was she thinking now? I smiled at her expression, "Yes?"

"Tell me why you ran from me before." She pleaded.

My lips began to turn down then, "You know why."

"No, I mean, exactly what did I do wrong? I'll have to be on my guard, you see, so I better start learning what I shouldn't do. This for example" she caressed my hand then and the warmth sent electricity up my spine and down to my toes, "seems to be all right."

My smile returned. She wanted to make things easier for me because she wanted to be with me. Even after we leave this meadow, she was planning on staying with me. Would I ever get use to this wonderful creature? She needed to understand though, that there wasn't anything she did to make me want to take her life, it was strictly on how delicious she smelled.

"You didn't do anything wrong, Bella. It was my fault."

"But I want to help, if I can, to not make this harder for you." She explained.

"Well…" honestly, everything she did made it difficult for me. Her scent �C her attachment to me – her unreadable thoughts – how she was constantly needing me to save her, it all made it difficult. "It was just how close you were. Most humans instinctively shy away from us, are repelled by our alienness…I wasn't expecting you to come so close. And the smell of your throat." I was immediately aware that I almost exposed how much I craved everything about her. I looked at her then, making sure I hadn't scared her with what little I told her.

"Okay then," she replied breezily.

She tucked her neck in then, "No throat exposure." She said seriously.

My laugh was instantaneous. She didn't understand what I was trying to say, "No, really, it was more the surprise than anything else."

I raised my hand then, trying to prove a point, and placed my hand gently on her soft, warm, neck. In that moment, I pictured doing several things; bringing her closer to me and caressing her striking face, running my hand up through her hair so I could lightly pull her to my lips, bringing my nose to her neck and smell her from her neck to her ear… but I resisted.

"You see, perfectly fine." I said.

I felt her blood pulsing under my palm and her breath coming faster and blowing sweetly into my face. The scent, the sound, it was so appealing. Eagerness ran through me and I was instantly excited. She began to blush a light red color that set her eyes and lips glowing richly with desire.

"The blush on your cheeks is lovely," I whispered.

That insatiable creature, desire, refused to be caged at this point and took over my body. I released my hand from her grasp lightly and watched her hands fall limply into her lap. I reached up; slowly, deliberately gentle to place my hand on her cheek. I held her warm, precious face, in between my hands. I filled my lungs with her luscious scent, and it only sent electricity through my body now, being released slowly into her sweet cheeks from my palms. My passion for her was making me greedy.

"Be very still," I whispered.

I looked deep into her eyes and leaned in to kiss her, to bring my lips to hers and lick her warm skin, but abruptly I changed my mind, not wanting to tempt myself anymore then I already was. I placed my cheek against her neck. It fit there, like it belonged. I didn't know what I was doing, but ecstasy was quickly filling my veins. I continued to breathe in her aroma, and decided I needed a better whiff of what was driving me to crave more and more. I let my hands slide from her neck, just in case I was to make a mistake during my inability to re-cage my desires and snap it. I slowly brought my face closer to her collarbone and my nose lightly brushed her skin. She trembled then. The thought of what I was doing to her sent spasms of pleasurable electricity through my body and I inhaled one quick breath and held it for only a second longer than normal before releasing the air. The fragrance left a dull ache in my throat, but it was second to my new desires now. I continued to move my head and finally rested against her chest, making sure that each touch was calculated so I wouldn't damage her. Her heart was still racing under the tender membrane of her skin.

"Ah," I sighed.

I continued to listen to her heart. Sometimes it skipped a beat, and a few times it stopped all together. After an immeasurable moment her pulse slowed, and I realized in that moment that it was the most significant sound in my life. She never moved, but all too soon I was releasing her. I had brought her to me and didn't hurt her.

"It won't be so hard again," I said with resolution.

"Was that very hard for you?" she asked.

"Not nearly as bad as I imagined it would be. And you?" I asked, still curious if I were what she really wanted, if what I did was something she wanted.

"No, it wasn't bad…for me." She said timidly.

I grinned. Of course it wasn't hard for her…and I know it wasn't bad, either.

"You know what I mean." She said ruefully, and then smiled.

My face was warm from being against her for so long, "Here," I said, placing her hand against my cheek, "Do you feel how warm it is?"

Electricity flowed through our touch. Suddenly, she whispered, "Don't move."

I froze. I closed my eyes then, and settled into being a statue. I could smell the air being stirred close to my face and suddenly she was touching my cheek, her warm hand rubbing up and down my face, like she had been doing with my arm. I wanted to pull her into my chest, and I wanted to push her away. I didn't want to do something I would regret and she was making it amazingly hard to say no to her now. Her finger tips moved from my chin to my eyelids. Her fingers traced around my eyes, down my nose and then she reached my lips. Pleasure washed over me. The bliss of her touch had me begging for more. I parted my lips then, sucking in the air of the warm aroma that was her hand. She dropped her hand then, this time I was instantly upset, wanting her to continue. I opened my eyes and she looked into them. Her pulse picked up again.

"I wish…I wish you could feel the… complexity…the confusion…I feel. That you could understand," I whispered.

I reached up to gently move a strand of her hair away from her face. I remembered when Mike had done this, she seemed repulsed. Now, she was just as eager as I was.

"Tell me," she barely made a noise, it was mostly a wisp of a breath.

"I don't think I can. I've told you, on the one hand, the hunger �C the thirst �C that deplorable creature that I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent. Though," I grinned half heartily, "as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can't empathize completely. But…" I brought my fingers to her lips and watched her shiver under my touch, a shiver of pleasure, emphasizing my next words, "There are other hungers. Hungers I don't even understand, that are foreign to me."

She responded quickly, "I may understand that better than you think."

Did she understand? There was no way she could understand my feelings, but maybe she did, maybe it is because it is so new to me that I think she wasn't feeling them too. Maybe this was something that was more human than vampire.

"I'm not used to feeling so human. Is it always like this?"

"For me?" she asked, but answered before I could tell her to continue, "No, never. Never before this."

I held her hands securely in mine, making sure that I was gentle; constantly afraid I would use too much force and break her.

"I don't know how to be close to you." I confessed, "I don't know if I can."

She took charge then, slowly moving her face closer to mine. She kept her eyes on mine until she couldn't see me anymore. She had placed her head against my chest now. I continued to breathe slowly.

"This is enough," she sighed.

Before I understood my own actions, desire reared up and took control. I wrapped my arms around her, enveloping her, making sure my grip was not too strong, but was secure enough to show her that she could count on me to protect her. I brought my face to her hair and took in a large breath or her heady scent. Thirst broke free then, but the two creatures, hunger and desire fought, and desire won.

"You're better at this than you give yourself credit for," she noted.

"I have human instincts �C they may be buried deep, but they're there." I explained to her.

My desire was refusing to let her go, and she didn't struggle against my tender grasp. After several long, but not long enough, moments, she sighed. I looked to the forest and realized the sun slanted at a different angle.

"You have to go," I told her.

"I thought you couldn't read my mind," she mocked.

"It's getting clearer," I responded playfully, my lips turning up.

I released her, only to grasp her shoulders, "Can I show you something?" I asked.

I wanted her to understand me more, and one way to do that was to show her exactly how I travel.

"I'll show you how I travel in the forest."

She looked apprehensive, "Don't worry, you'll be safe, and we'll get to your truck much faster." I grinned widely and I heard her heart skip a beat.

She looked at me then, a smile in her voice, "Will you turn into a bat?" she asked.

I laughed so loud that I was sure it could have been heard for some distance.

"Like I haven't heard that one before!" I scoffed.

"Right, I'm sure you get that all the time," she replied, still playful.

"Come on, little coward, climb on my back." I suppressed a laugh.

Her eyes became wide and she hesitated. I became impatient and grabbed for her, making sure I was gentle. Her heart beat speed up and I could smell her pulse hammering. I placed her on my back and she engulfed me. He body wrapped around me and I could feel the heat emitting from her. She embraced me fiercely.

"I'm a bit heavier than your average backpack," she cautioned.

She was light as a feather to me, almost like she wasn't there, but she was, because I could feel her warmth and her beating pulse.

"Hah!" I rolled my eyes then.

This day had turned out better than I have ever believed imaginable. I hadn't hurt her, or killed her, instead her scent was becoming less sensitive and I had been able to let my desires take control and I held her in my arms, I caressed her face and brought my mouth so close to the base of her neck without biting. I grabbed her hand that was wrapped tightly around my neck and pressed her palm into my nose, inhaling as deeply as possible. The ache burned in my throat. I was still thirsting for her blood, but desire bounded up and out my mouth, "Easier all the time."

I took off through the forest.

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