Chapter 9 Plots
What am I doing here?
I nervously pushed my hair away from my face. It had a mind of its own at times, wild and red as fire. Usually, I loved its uninhibited intemperance but at times like this, it was more of a nuisance as it brought attention to me when I least wanted it. It was best to be unobtrusive in this place.
I watched the ancient vampire stand at the embrasure and look out over the starlit town. He appeared to be cultured and refined. His graceful movements were not unusual in our kind but there was an air about him that unconsciously made my spine stiffen in dread. Though he looked the very epitome of gentility and hospitality, I knew better. He could easily be our deaths. His cruel lips finally twisted into a smile and he turned to me.
"Go to your mate and tell him that we are very pleased with his efforts; very pleased."
Trying not to show my relief, I backed out of his presence and said, "I shall, sir."
I ducked through the stone archway that led down a dark corridor and eventually away. I swallowed my fear and walked swiftly down the passageway. As far as I was concerned, the quicker I got out of this place and back to James, the better. I had known allying with the Volturis was a dangerous game but James had insisted upon playing it. I hoped it wouldn't prove to be a fatal one—for both of us.
Outside of Forks, Washington
I peered out of the third story window and saw a flash of black dash through the trees outside the Cullen house. The Quileute warriors had us surrounded but we were at a stand-off. As in all of the Cullen properties, this house had been specially reinforced to the point that, with the shutters down and barring a direct hit from strong ordinance, it was impenetrable.
Three days ago, I reacted without thinking when Carlisle yelled for Edward, Alice and me to get into the house. We dashed inside with the rest of the family fast on our heels. As Carlisle ran through the doorway, he slapped a button that hung just inside and suddenly the house was a fortress. Hidden gates and shutters slammed down over doors and windows and we were seemingly entombed. The wolves couldn't get in but because of their vigilance, we couldn't get out. It had been like this for three days. Carlisle had been trying to arrange a talk with them but to no avail. They wouldn't respond to him as he stood on a high balcony and called down to them, they just growled. Edward frequently "listened" into their thoughts but couldn't figure out exactly what they planned to do. All he could read was their pathological hatred and desire to destroy the Cullen family.
"Oh, I've such a headache!" Alice said as she flopped down on the sofa next to me. She put her head in her hands and squeezed her eyes shut.
"They've been constant since the wolves have come, haven't they?" Jasper asked, resting one hand on her back. Evidently, this had never happened before. Ever since the wolves arrived, her head ached and her visions stopped.
She nodded her head.
"They must have some sort of interfering power. I wonder why you didn't run into it before now."
Alice shuddered. "We kept our distance when we lived here before, if you'll remember. The treaty was pretty explicit and it was in existence before you and I joined the family."
Jasper nodded and looked at me as I sat there feeling miserably responsible for all of this trouble. "Bella don't feel guilty. It isn't your fault."
"But it's because of me the Quileute are angry."
"No, it's not because of you, it's because of what I did to you. It's my fault, really," Edward said. He had just come inside from the balcony after another of Carlisle's repeated but ignored pleas to the wolves to call a truce.
"It was an accident," I said but not very vehemently. I'd gotten more used to the fact that I was a vampire. I'd even gotten more used to the fact that Edward was my mate. In fact, most of me rejoiced about that fact except that one, obstinate, piece of me—the stubborn, Swanish part, as my mother used to call it— refused to accept it. That part of me was a great believer in free-will and rejected the idea of this "mating" mumbo-jumbo.
"Edward, you need to let that go as well," Alice said her head was still cradled in her hands as Jasper stood behind her and gently massaged her shoulders. "Since James is back in the area, Bella would have been dead by now if she had remained a human. I saw no other course for her unless she changed."
Edward didn't respond to her, he just looked longingly at me. I wanted to comfort him. I felt driven to do it. He had kept his distance these past three days but he was always solicitous of me, always caring. I found I returning his feelings more than I cared to admit.
I said, "To be honest, I'm rather glad to still exist. I wouldn't have wanted to die, at least without first getting justice for my dad and I couldn't have done that as I was, could I?"
There was a dawning light in Edward's eyes as I spoke and after I finished he began to speak, "Bella, I…"
He was interrupted as we all heard the sound of a vehicle turning off the main highway onto our drive.
"It's Billy Black and Harry Clearwater," Edward said. "Finally, they want to talk."
As if they materialized out of thin air, Emmett, Rosalie and Esme appeared in the room causing me to jump. Even though I was now also a vampire, I still wasn't used to how quick we were. I could imagine I'd have to really watch it when around humans or I'd give myself away without thinking. Carlisle appeared in the doorway that led to the balcony. "Edward, could you come out here? It seems something is changing."
The rest of us, curious as we were, followed Edward outside and looked down to see that three of the Quileute warriors had morphed back into their human form. They stood in a row with their arms crossed and stared up at our family. I could hear the car approaching, the only thing in this scene that was changing. Finally, rounding the last curve, an ancient pickup truck pulled up next to the warriors and rolled to a stop. Jacob appeared from out of the woods and went to help his father get out of the passenger's side of the vehicle, pulling his wheelchair from the bed of the truck and setting it next to where Billy waited.
Soon, Billy, Jacob and Harry Clearwater arranged themselves in front of their clansmen and looked up at us.
"You have violated our long held treaty, Carlisle Cullen," Billy said.
"How so?" At least Carlisle's tone was polite.
"One of your coven has killed a human being."
"Whom do you claim we have killed?"
"You have killed Isabella Swan, who was a blood-sister to the Quileute through her father, Charles Swan."
Carlisle looked over his shoulder at me and with a small movement of his head, indicated I should come next to him. I did as he asked and looked down at my father's old friends.
"Hi, Billy," I said.
I could see the older man shudder in revulsion as he looked at me. My gut wrenched and my eyes widened in shock. After all I had been through and now someone who was supposed to care about me could only look at me like I was a pile of dog shit he had stepped in? Oh, no way! Anger stirred in my gut.
"I'm not dead," I said rather sharply.
"It would be better if you were." His lip curled in disdain and his eyes narrowed.
I gasped. My anger was fanned to flames now.
Edward stepped close to me and put his arm around my shoulders. His touch comforted me and I leaned against him as my fury ebbed a bit.
In a clipped voice I said, "What choice did I have? James was on the hunt for me and had I not changed, he probably would have killed me by now."
"We would have protected you," Billy said.
"Just like you did my dad?"
I realized that was a low blow when I saw a pained look cross Billy's face, but it was true. Besides, his "it would have been better had you been dead" comment wasn't exactly a love tap.
"It makes no matter. The Cullens knew that changing you would violate the treaty we had held for generations. We are now at war."
I put both of my hands on the railing and leaned over to glare down at him, "Let me get this straight. You mean that you, Billy Black, the man who may as well have been a brother to my father, would kill me or allow one of your tribe to kill me?" I was half shocked, half pissed off. I think the pissed came through loud and clear. Billy tried to be stoic but I could tell I'd hit a nerve.
"I'm not dead, Billy, I'm just different than I was. I've adopted Sanctuary's doctrines and there's nothing for the tribe to fear from me," I said.
Carlisle put his hand on my arm, looked down at our visitors, "I promise you, Billy, we love Bella every bit as our own for that is what she is now. In fact, she is my son Edward's mate and was destined to be; therefore, her change was unavoidable. You understand how strong this tie is, for you have something like it among your own."
Harry Clearwater turned so that his back was to us so that we could not understand what he said but no matter how quietly he whispered, I could hear him plain as day. We all could.
"I don't like it, Billy. That's Charlie's girl up there."
"Yes, but she's not the girl that Charlie knew."
"Do you think that would have made any difference to him? Really?"
There was a long pause and Billy sighed.
"We've got to look after her, Billy. Charlie would want it."
"Yes, but not with them around." Billy rolled his eyes towards us assembled on the balcony above them.
"Maybe we should take Bella to see Walalo. Perhaps she could help her?"
"Do you think we can trust Bella not to hurt anyone?"
"What choice do we have, in honor? Now that Charlie's dead it is our duty to try. The boys will keep her under guard."
Billy grunted, looked back up at us and said, "We will depart but only if Bella goes with us."
Edward pulled me tightly against his chest and shouted, "No!"
"Unless Bella comes with us, your family will never leave this place."
"Why Bella?" Carlisle asked.
"She is our daughter. We cannot abandon her."
"She is our daughter, too," Carlisle replied.
"She's more than a daughter to me!" I could feel Edward's anxiety ripple through the both of us.
"You have our terms, Carlisle Cullen. I will return tomorrow for Bella." Billy signaled to Jacob to take him back to the truck.
"Carlisle, I will not allow them to take Bella!" Edward was frantic.
Carlisle put a comforting hand on Edward's shoulder and we all watched as Billy and Harry got back into their truck and drive away. The other Quileute men, who had said nothing during the confrontation, melted into the forest and a few minutes later, the flash of grey, black, and brown appeared and disappeared through the trees in the bordering forest. They had resumed their watch.
Guilt washed through me like the rain that was pouring from the sky outside. I stood at the window of Edward's bedroom and looked at the crying heavens wishing I could cry with them. I had understood that the treaty between the Cullens and the wolves went back more than half a century. Two natural enemies agreed to coexist. It was really quite an amazing thing to have happened but then my existence blew it.
But Billy wanted me to go with them now and f I did, the Cullens could go free. The treaty wouldn't be renewed but at least there wouldn't be bloodshed or venom-shed or whatever the case would have been in this instance. I don't know what the tribe had in mind concerning me but it seemed that since they considered me family, they couldn't just ignore my existence. I knew without any doubt that the resolution of the problem was up to me.
I felt rather than heard Edward walk up behind me and soon his hands were on my waist and his lips were at my ear. "I won't let them take you."
I shivered from his closeness; my body was completely enraptured by his touch. I turned my head so that his lips were pressed against my temple. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me against him. A fire ignited where we touched and I melted into him. He kissed my temple and whispered, "I love you, Bella."
Warmth replaced the cold that had lodged in my heart and it grew and blossomed like a flower. I turned in his arms and buried my face into the hollow of his shoulder. "I love you, too," I admitted.
"Even though I changed you?"
"No matter what, I don't think I could ever stop loving you," I admitted. "I know you're sorry."
He lifted my chin so he could see my expression. "Do you think you'll ever be able to forgive me?"
He wasn't looking for reassurance, I could tell that. He was looking for hope. If I could forgive him one day, then perhaps we could have a future together. I could only answer honestly, "I'm half way to forgiving you now but I don't know how long it will take for the other half to catch up."
He sighed and pulled me close again, "That's more than I deserve."
"You really deserve much more, Edward. It's just me. I haven't got my head wrapped around this just yet. When I do, then we'll see."
I could feel him nod and we were content for a moment to stand there in each other's arms while the world spun around us.
"Why do you think Billy wants me to go with them?"
"I don't know but it can't be anything good. I could read nothing but horror in their minds over your current condition but they are conflicted because of your father. They feel some responsibility for what happened to you but they hate what you are—what we are."
"I heard them talk about taking me to some woman—Walalo. Who is she?"
"What is she is more like. She's their healer. I don't know her, only heard of her. She's very reclusive and very old."
"I don't think they'd hurt me."
His hands clutched the back of my shirt. "I'm not willing to take that chance."
Then he lowered his head and kissed me. We hadn't kissed since that mad dash through the forest after I realized I'd become a vampire. I supposed he had been giving me some space and I appreciated it but three days of being in each other's company without this completion, I suppose you could call it, was unsatisfying.
I gave up. I wasn't fighting this any longer. We were mated. I knew this deep down even before my change. Fighting it was like fighting the rotation of the earth. Without him, I was lost. With him, I was at home.
I loved him.
I simply loved him. It was time to show him.
"Edward. I do have a regret."
"Only one?" His eyes were soft and full of the love he had for me. I basked in it.
"Only one." I traced the woven herringbone pattern in the shirt he was wearing. I found I was a little shy about talking about this. "I don't remember our first time very well."
I could feel his arms flex as he pulled me tighter into his body. "I remember it all—both heaven and hell mixed together."
"It wasn't good for you?"
He sighed. "It was beyond good for me but I ruined it at the end. I can't forget that and it will always cast a horrible shadow over the bliss."
Still tracing the pattern on his shirt, I looked up at him and said, "Perhaps we can make a new memory to erase the bad?"
He stilled and gazed into my eyes as though trying to discern exactly what I meant. I could tell he was fearful of letting himself believe that I was asking for what he wanted himself. "How do we do that?" he whispered.
I didn't say a word, I simply reached up and pulled his head down to mine and unleashed the passion I had been trying to deny since I woke to this life. It didn't take him long to respond to me. Suddenly we were all lips and hands and skin. Our clothes melted off of us unnoticed until there was just me and him and this amazing thing we had between us: love, passion, sensation, fire, fury, peace, home.
We paused, standing there in his bedroom aerie away above the others and problems; above war and hate. For this moment we were alone in the universe and it was this moment that would define who I was, who he was and what we were meant to be.
It was as though I hadn't seen him clearly. Before my change, I had run purely upon instinct recognizing him on some level where there were no words, only the purity of our indivisible bond. Now I could see him as he was—though a vampire, he was still a man and completely mine.
I could count each strand of tousled hair that sprung from his head in a riotous glory, his broad brow, smooth and pure, slashed by two dark brows framing eyes that saw directly into my soul. His soft lips were parted a bit as though they were ready to savor every kiss, every taste of me. His jaw, strong and defined, drew me closer, daring me to touch, to caress; the pillar of his neck joined his broad shoulders and his long, sinewed arms. I marveled at his beautiful fingers that could play me as skillfully as they played a piano.
He took a breath and it drew my eye to his muscled chest that begged me to rest my cheek against it and run my fingers through the fine hair there. My eye traveled downward to his narrowed waist and the darker trail of hair that dropped to his muscular hips and long, lithe legs.
My mouth dried in anticipation as I realized how ready he was for me, how his strength was revealed there as well as in the rest of his body. Michelangelo couldn't have created a more beautiful creature. There was never one as perfect as Edward and, joy of my joy, he was mine.
And I was his.
He held out his hand for me to take and as I placed mine in his, he said, "I, Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, the man that I was, the vampire that I am, take you, Isabella Marie Swan, to be my mate now and for all eternity."
A glorious fire lit in his eyes and I could feel the love and passion and commitment he had for me. I knew from that look as well as his words that this was our forever. From this point onward there would be no turning back.
I laid my hand in his and replied, my voice shaking with emotion, "I, Isabella Marie Swan, take you, Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, and all that you are and always have been, to be my mate now and for all eternity."
The light in his eyes flared and suddenly I was engulfed by his arms and we were entangled on his bed. Every particle of my body rejoiced in him with each kiss. He was above me, around me, and, there being no need for barriers now, within me and we soared.
"Oh, Bella, this is more…it's better…." He put an arm under my waist and pulled me up into him, arching my back and oh…the feeling inside me.
"Edward!" I begged. I gripped his hips with my thighs and dug my fingers into his back. The sensation was incredible as he pressed into me again and again and we flew up and up and up until I exploded into shivery sparks.
Edward was right behind me and we collapsed together completely unwound, completely satisfied, and completely together.
Edward rolled us until we lay on our sides with our arms wrapped around each other and quietly gazed into each other's eyes. I lifted my hand and stroked the side of his face and nodded, never breaking eye contact. There were no words that could express what I felt but he had to know through some sort of spiritual osmosis how I felt, how I feel, how I would always feel, no matter what happened. His smiled and I knew my message was clear.
I loved him.
Later on, when Carlisle called Edward to his side to discuss strategy, I wrote a quick, heartfelt note and quietly jumped from the window of Edward's bedroom and slipped into the surrounding woods.
It didn't take the wolves a half a minute to find me.
AN: If you've been wondering where I've been, well, so have I. These versions of Edward and Bella went on a vacation and weren't speaking to me. I was very frustrated trying to figure out what to do and nothing was helping. I asked my group on Facebook what excerpt of my stories would they like to see a little out take and it was even between Parma High and Nightingale, so in about a half an hour I wrote a chapter for each…well that undammed the logjam that The Bear had become and I am feeling pretty happy right now. I'm hoping you can expect a chapter a week from now on out Bearwise. Fingers crossed.
Thanks to my team, Princess Kris, Telecomchk, and Vecha. They didn't lose faith, thank God.
Now here's a special announcement. I am participating in a fund raiser for Project Team Beta for underprivileged children who need school supplies. As a teacher, I can tell you this is a critical issue for families who have limited resources. My goal is to raise $200. Already $105 had been raised. If we get to $200, every person who contributed will get a very special out take of something (not sure what) sent to them. On August 18th at 5 pm EST, there will be a trivia contest in a chat room tba on my stories. The winner will get an autographed, illustrated Lady Gwynedd Story of their choice. This won't be anything fancy, just me going through the story and inserting pictures of how I pictured things, then printing it out on my compy, a personalized message included, then put in a loose leaf notebook and sent to your house. You'll have to agree to give me your snail mail address. I promise I am not a crazed stalker. (That is, unless you happen to be Robert Redford or Robert Pattinson or someone.) Please go to project team beta dot com and click on the Back to School Fundraiser for more information. Do it for the kids.