I barely slept that night as excitement filled the pit of my stomach and made me toss and turn in bed, unable to fall asleep. I couldn't help but wonder if he was outside, if he had already seen my letter, or if he wouldn't see it at all and It would still be laying in the same place i'd left it when I went out in the morning. I barely manage to restrain myself from running over to the window and craning my neck to see if the envelope was still there.
When I did finally fall asleep, it didn't last very long. I was awake before the sun had properly risen in the sky and ran down the stairs as quietly as I could. I flung the door open and felt disappointment make my stomach sink as my letter sat in the same spot on the porch step. I frowned at the offending piece of paper, tempted to leave it outside but didn't wanting anyone else to find it. After all I had signed it with my full name. I stepped forward to retrieve it, but as I bent down in noticed that the lip of the envelope was fluttering in the breeze… It had been opened! I snatched the envelope up and glanced inside, my letter was gone and in its place was the beautiful, thick paper I was now so used to seeing.
Do not fret about your letter composing skills or the artistry of the writing within, I find everything about you beautiful and your letter was no exception.
Come now, to hear you describe me as a stranger wounds me deeply. Are we not friends Isabella? I gave you that book as a gift between friends, it has sat in my private collection for some time and I felt that it deserved to be read. So do not think on the money I spent as it was a family heirloom and when it was originally bought, was worth less than a cup of your terrible American coffee is now.
I will not accept the book's return and instead trust you with its safekeeping, I can trust you can't I Isabella?
Please do not apologise for not receiving my correspondence, the fault does not lie with you and even if it did I would not seek an apology from you. I am pleased you like my gifts and letters though I must say, i'm not entirely sure I can continue writing to you without hoping for a reply now that I have received one.
As for what to call me… How about Rochester?
I snorted in amusement as I read his last line, before realising that I was stood outside in my nightclothes very early in the morning clutching a letter and laughing to myself. I quickly stepped inside and took the letter upstairs with me. I couldn't believe he had replied, I could feel the anticipation prickling my scalp as I sat down to write a reply of my own; not feeling in control of my hand as it replied almost without my permission.
Rochester, really? Are you a tall and dark man with unconventionally handsome features? Do you live in a castle with none but your loyal staff to serve you?
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. We are friends, of a sort. It seems that you know everything about me but I know very little about you, as such you seem a stranger to me.
The book is over one hundred and fifty years old, it must be of great sentimental value to your family if it has been passed down over so many years, I would feel awful knowing i'd deprived generations to come of their inheritance. I will keep it safe for you though, until such a time as it finds its way back into your collection. You can trust me.
Please don't stop writing to me, I could continue to reply to you, if you'd like?
P.S- 'Your terrible American coffee'… I take this to mean that you aren't American then?
I sealed the letter and placed it on my desk whilst I dressed. Today was going to be a beautiful day and it seemed like a shame to let the good weather and a fantastic book to go to waste. Besides, If I sat out on the porch and read I could keep an eye on whoever was picking my letters up.
A few hours later I was a quarter of the way through Jane Eyre and still my letter remained untouched. I wriggled my toes in the rare sunshine as I sat in the warmth of the porch chair, my eyes continuously flicked from the pages of the book to the letter, which was blindingly white in the sun.
I heard an engine purr and glanced up to see the familiar silver Volvo approaching. I frowned as Edwards car approached and parked in my drive, he beckoned at me from the seat and I shook my head, knowing full well he couldn't step into the sunlight without exposing himself. Even though Charlie had long since gone to work, you could never be too sure who was looking.
I ignored Edward's scowling face and returned to my book, only noticing it had turned colder hours later because the clouds had returned to steal the sun away.
I heard Edwards car door close and grimaced, he was safe now that the sun was hidden behind the dense grey clouds. He approached me warily before sitting with unnatural grace in the chair next to mine.
I ignored him and continued to read.
"Bella, I'm sorry."
I glanced up at him once before returning my gaze to the book. He waited in silence as I reached the end of the chapter, took note of the page number and closed the book. "Why are you here?" I asked, looking mournfully up at the sky as it darkened, threatening to unleash its wrath upon Forks.
"I came to see you, to see what the letters said." I turned to look at him and caught his gaze as it flicked away from my reply that still laid upon the porch steps. "What is that?" He asked.
"A letter." I said sarcastically, knowing that wasn't the answer he was looking for.
"Bella I'm sorry for invading your privacy, I really am; but I had to be sure you were safe. These letters could be from anyone." His sweet voice pleaded with me to forgive him and I felt my irritation with him begin to subside.
"If someone wanted to hurt me, they wouldn't send me a letter." I looked down at him condescendingly. "That is my reply, to thank whoever is sending me these letters, for my birthday gift."
His eyes glanced down at the book in my hands before his eyebrows furrowed and his lips formed a pout. "So I'm not allowed to celebrate your birthday with you, but someone you don't even know is?"
I rolled my eyes. "I don't mind celebrating my birthday anymore."
He frowned at me in confusion, hurt glistening in his golden eyes as he stood. "Happy Birthday, Bella." He bent and placed a kiss upon my forehead, his lips were cold and I felt like they were sucking away the last warmth my skin held from the sun. I shivered and he frowned again, somehow making an expression that wasn't meant to hold any beauty look appealing, before returning to his car.
As he left I sighed and pulled the blanket from the back of the chair to wrap around my shoulders and keep me warm. I laid my head back and closed my eyes, feeling exhausted from the conflicted emotions that warred within my head.
I must've fallen asleep, for when I woke the air smelled like rain and the ground was wet. I blinked blearily and looked over to the porch step for what felt like the millionth time, a jolt ran through me as I realised my letter was gone. My first thought was that Edward had taken it, but then when I looked down to my lap to check that the book was ok and hadn't been ruined by the rain I noticed a letter sat upon its pages. My name was elegantly written upon the front.
He had retrieved the letter whilst I slept on the porch. He had been right in front of me and I had missed it. I felt annoyance bubble within me as I uselessly scanned the tree line again before opening the letter and gathering the blanket around me.
You do not know how frighteningly accurate your mocking assessment of me is, but i'm afraid I cannot tell you anything of importance about me. The idea of being anonymous is that you remain so. Still, I hope that we can remain friends even if you don't know everything about me. If you ask me a question I will tell you what I can, does that help?
The book previously held no sentimental value to me at all, but now that I have watched it slip from your grasp as you fall into slumber I find myself somewhat attached to it, as I am to its keeper. Please do not worry about depriving anyone from reading it, it is where it belongs.
Your replies would mean the world to me but I fear our bond would only grow over mutual correspondence and I would become irrevocably fond of you. Would that frighten you?
Ah, your first question! No, I am not American.
I await your reply anxiously,
I smiled down at the letter and sighed softly before raising my eyes to the tree line again, scanning once more before I headed inside. I could have sworn I felt the prickle of hairs stand up on the back of my neck as I walked away, the feeling I usually only got when I was being watched.
A/N: Please don't forget to review, your feedback is my muse.