We walked mostly in silence. Every now and then I would ask her a random question about her past to keep her spirits up and to stave off my boredom. I wasn't used to taking this long to reach the clearing.
"When is your birthday?" I inquired.
"Have you ever had any pets?"
"I have what a gardener would call a black thumb. My house is where goldfish come to die. After killing and replacing Goldie, Oscar, and Shark Bait, I decided that before I became a serial goldfish killer that animals were best left in the pet store." A hearty laugh escaped me. I composed myself quickly, fearing I might frighten her. She had a wonderful sense of humor and it made her even more attractive. It amused me that she was a clumsy with pets as she was at walking. I continued to lead the way through the dense trees. I was afraid to follow her, afraid her scent would over take me and I would lose control.
"Are we there yet?" Bella asked tiredly with sarcasm and a playful whine.
"Nearly," I smiled back at her. "Do you see the brightness ahead?"
"Um, should I?"
"Maybe it's a bit too soon for your eyes," I taunted her with a smirk and a wink.
"Time to visit the optometrist." She said jokingly, which made me smile harder. The trees ahead were beginning to clear, and the light was getting brighter. There was no turning back now. I decided to hang back and let her lead for the last leg of our journey. How would I go about showing her something that I normally try so hard to hide? Should I warn her first? Should I just walk in and let my luminescence blind her? How do you tell someone that when you go out into the sun, your skin sparkles like you covered yourself in glue and rolled in a small child's art project? I watched closely as Bella reached the edge of the clearing. The light gently caressed her warm pink face and made her soft brown hair glow with a shine. I saw a grin of delight appear on her face. I could tell she approved of my location. She stepped into the round meadow, among the wild flowers. Her beauty made every flower a weed in comparison. I stood at the edge of the trees, watching her explore, hoping she'd forget about me, and mustering the will power to control the burn I felt in my throat. Be strong Edward, mind over matter, I thought to myself. Just then, she turned to look for me, seemingly surprised that I was so far away. Her curious eyes met mine; she beckoned me by extending her hand for me to take, stepping towards me. I held up my hand to caution her. I had to collect myself. I knew I could trust her, she wouldn't tell a soul about me, about us. I took an unnecessary and deep breath and I stepped into the hot yellow sun.
I stepped out from the shadows and into the fire. My skin shimmered like millions of tiny diamonds and Bella could not take her eyes off of me. Part of me hoped she would run; never speak to me ever again. The rest of me wanted to cross the field, sweep her off of her feet, lay her gently in the tall grass and press my lips against hers. The monster inside begged to be set free, to taste her. I waited for her reaction. She just continued to stare. I approached her with great caution, quietly whispered to her, "Come with me," and we walked to the middle of the field. I laid in the tall grass for hours next to her, inhaling deeply every so often, breathing Bella in. It burned like acid, but in a good way. I was becoming smug in my ability to control my inner demons. I closed my eyes and took another deep breath of her freesia like scent. I opened my eyes to notice that she wasn't laying but sitting curled into a ball next to me. Perhaps she was nervous, or cold. I wish I knew what was running through her mind. I had to know.
"I don't scare you?" I asked trying to seem playful, but deep inside dying to know if she was just too afraid to run.
"No more than usual." She kidded me. That made me smile a big bright smile. Perhaps I was worrying over nothing. I could hear her shuffling through the grass, moving closer to me. What was she planning on doing? Was I strong enough to with stand her touch? Would she stop at a touch? She stretched her hand closer to my forearm. Should I allow this to happen? Her fingers were wobbly; perhaps she was just as nervous as I was about this new encounter. Then softly, her fiery fingers ignited my glacial arm. Though she only lightly traced my arm, her hand felt like a heat I hadn't felt in decades. If I could experience chills, I'm sure they would have taken hold of me by now. I closed my eyes and took pleasure in the long forgotten sensation.
"Do you mind?" She asked me, obviously concerned about my comfort and my reaction. If only she could understand how incredible her touch felt to me. It set fire to any last bit of a possible soul I might have left.
"No - you can't imagine how that feels." I told her, never opening my eyes, listening to her heart anxiously pound in my ears, continuing to relish in her affections. She reached over towards my hand with her other hand, sending a waft of her fragrance into my face, plunging me deeper into her spell. Understanding that she wanted to examine my hand, I turned my palm up for her. She froze. Her fingers no longer traced my arm, what had I done? I must have surprised her. I hope I didn't frighten her to much. I'd better apologize.
"Sorry," I mumbled, embarrassed that I had messed up that badly. "It's too easy to be myself with you." And it was. I wanted to be more than myself, I wanted to be hers. I wanted to hold her in my arms, to whisk her off her feet. I had never felt this way about anyone before, and for sometime, doubted that I would ever find someone like her. She took my hand up in hers, plunging me deeper into euphoria. She was carefully looking my hand over, like a small child, examining the small glitter that composed my skin.
"Tell me what you're thinking." I whispered, opening my eyes to see her beautiful face. "It's still so strange for me, not knowing."
"You know, the rest of us feel that way all the time." She said smartly.
"It's a hard life. But, you didn't tell me." I replied.
"I was wishing I could know what you were thinking…" She hesitated.
"I was wishing that I could believe you were real. And I was wishing I wasn't afraid."
Afraid? Was she afraid of me? I couldn't bear the thought. I had to make it right. I had to do what I could to make her as happy as possible.
"I don't want you to be afraid." I spoke softly and gently. I wish there was some way to convey to her she had nothing to fear from me. That I was no more than her slave and I would go where ever she led me.
"Well, that's not exactly the fear I meant, though that's certainly something to think about."
I propped myself up quickly, my face merely inches from hers. How I longed to lean in for a closer look. My eyes met hers and I whispered to her. "What are you afraid of, then?" Then as if almost by instinct she began to lean in towards me. I wasn't ready for this, was I strong enough to resist? My heart and body ached for her, begging me to put my hands in her hair, pull her in for a deep passionate kiss. But I wasn't ready, so I fled.
When she opened her eyes, I was well over twenty feet from her. I had to compose myself. I had let that get to far. I should have known better than to put her at risk like that. What if I had given in and I couldn't stop, I could break her fragile body like a twig. Or worse yet, the monster would see my weakness and escape and take over. I couldn't let that happen to her. I couldn't hurt her, and I wouldn't let anyone else hurt her.
"I'm… sorry… Edward," she whispered in my direction. I could see the confusion and rejection on her face.
"Give me a moment," I half yelled in her direction, attempting to reassure her that I wasn't angry. I finished composing myself and started back in her direction. I sat back down in the grass, keeping a respectable distance, still not trusting my own composure. I tested myself again, taking a couple of deep breaths to make sure I was still under control. She smelled so enticing, but I was more in awe of it rather than in hunger for it. I looked deep into her apologetic coffee colored eyes and smiled.
"I am so very sorry." I pleaded. "Would you understand what I meant if I said I was only human?" I tried to kid around with her. She nodded at me, still unsmiling, most likely upset by my rejection of her advances. I could hear her heart pounding faster, perhaps she was beginning to understand the danger she was in with me. Maybe she would be smart enough to leave me, never see me again. Though the idea crushed me, I would stay away from her if she wanted it. Of course that would never happen. This girl was far too stubborn to give in that easily, and it made me smile.
"I'm the world's best predator, aren't I? Everything about me invites you in – my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I need any of that!" I told her as my frustration set in. Faster than she could blink and eye, I was on my feet again, running. Running felt good. It was simple, unlike my complex feelings. I lapped the trees twice in less than a second and stopped to speak to Bella again. "As if you could out run me," I laughed. I reached up and with a quick snap, removed a large branch form a tree, and threw if javelin style at another tree, shattering it to toothpicks. Before I knew what was happening I was in front of her, still, unmoving. "As if you could fight me off," I gently said to her. What was I doing? Was I trying to drive her away? She was sitting like a deer in a headlight, devoid of color, eyes wide, watching me, her pulse racing with anxiety, with fear that I had placed there, in her heart. With that my façade shattered. The look of fear on her face would haunt me. What had I done?
"Don't be afraid," I spoke softly and as calmly as possible. I prayed that she wouldn't run screaming for the trees. Way to go Edward. The only girl you've ever cared for and you scare the hell out of her. She'll probably want you out of her life forever. Fix it! "I promise…" I paused, taking a deep breath. I was in control. "I swear not to hurt you." Mind over matter Edward, you care for her, you will not hurt her. "Don't be afraid," I whispered to her as I got closer to her. What was she thinking? What horrible thoughts was she having about me in her mind? I slowly and cautiously paced closer to the poor fragile girl that I had just sent into a full out panic, causing her to most likely fear for her own life. I didn't deserve to live for what I had just done to her. Beg for forgiveness fool! "Please forgive me," I pleaded. "I can control myself. You caught me off guard. But I'm on my best behavior now."
She continued to be quiet and still. She was going to leave. Why should she stay? I'm only a monster that threatens her mortality with every breath I take. The color slowly began to return to her face, and her eyes were less panicked. "I'm not thirsty today, honestly." I quipped with a wink. Humor, hell it was worth a shot. A small shaky laugh escaped from her ample salmon colored lips. The sound of her laugh left me breathless. Perhaps she could forgive me. Perhaps, she could love me after all.
"Are you alright?" I asked her. I couldn't believe what an idiot I was. She seemed to be examining me with her eyes. What was she thinking? She was driving me mad! Then something unexpected happened. She began again where she left off, tracing my frigid hands with her sizzling fingertips. She glanced up from my hand and looked deep into my eyes. I could stare into her deep brown pools any day. I would swim in their warmth, relish in their gaze, and admire their magnificence if I could. "So, where were we, before I behaved so rudely?" I changed the subject. She smiled a small smile for me; I smiled at her ashamed of my stupidity.
"I honestly can't remember." She spoke calmly in a hushed tone. She spoke! Oh there must be a god in heaven to let this angel speak so sweetly!
"I think we were talking about why you were afraid, besides the obvious reason."
"Oh, right." She said nonchalantly. She was so polite, so sweet. I was lucky to be the one who had Bella's attention.
"Well?" I questioned her further. She broke our eye contact and looked down to my palm. She continued to caress it while she sat in silence. I could feel the frustration rising inside of me. Why would she not tell me? Why could I not read her thoughts? I relied too much upon my extra abilities and I was about to break.
"How easily frustrated I am," I sighed. She looked into my eyes again, capturing my very being.
"I was afraid…" she began timidly. "Because, 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." She looked back down at my hands again. I admired the courage she had to tell me exactly what she was thinking, even though it seemed difficult for her.
"Yes," I agreed. She was right. We shouldn't be together. This was so wrong, on so many levels. But if it was so wrong, why did it feel so right? "That is something to be afraid of, indeed. Wanting to be with me. That's really not in your best interest." Her face grew sad. I could tell she felt how I felt about the situation. I was making this hard on her. I should have never given her a choice. "I should have left long ago. I should leave now. But I don't know if I can." I admitted.
"I don't want you to leave." She sadly mumbled, looking down at my hands again.
"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." It was so easy to tell her exactly how I was feeling, what I was feeling. And the worst part was, I knew I was right. I should run, now, head north again. Maybe somewhere south this time, Rio, Argentina, Santiago, anywhere to keep her safe from me.
"Don't be!" I scolded, retracting my hand from her grasp, more gently this time. I was becoming irritated with her. Didn't she have any sense of self preservation? Wasn't she concerned that her life could be over in a matter of a few seconds? "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 starred off into the woods. I should run, now. I should run and never stop.
"I don't think I understand exactly what you mean – by that last part anyway," she said, looking for answers.