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Untitled - Clearly Obsessed




                                   Clearly Obsessed

                                  Statement of Intent:
 This manuscript is intended as a work of pure fan fiction and everything that implies.
 These characters are not my invention, nor is much of the plot line. I have enjoyed the
  Stephanie Meyer Twilight books immensely, perhaps obsessively. As I read them, I
    noticed several dark themes and explored them on my own. The result of those
explorations is Stalked. I hope you enjoy it and that it may provoke further explorations
                                  of the Meyer books.

                                    Draft 7/01/2010
But his kind will always lose in the end. I know this, and now I know why.
Whether it’s a wife or nation they occupy, their mistake is the same: they stand
still, and their stake moves underneath them. The Pharaoh died, says Exodus,
and the children of Israel sighed by reason of their bondage. Chains rattle, rivers
roll, animals startle and bolt, forests inspire and expand, babies stretch open-
mouthed from the womb, new seedlings arch their necks and creep forward into
the light. Even a language won’t stand still. A territory is only possessed for a
moment in time. They stake everything on that moment, posing for photographs
while planting the flag, casting themselves in bronze. Washington crossing the
Delaware. The capture of Okinawa. They’re desperate to hang on.
But they can’t. Even before the flagpole begins to peel and splinter, the ground
underneath arches and slides forward into its new destiny….

       To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only
celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found

Orleanna Price, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

A hero becomes one who safeguards his or her own individual integrity at almost
any cost.

Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

Edward’s Pursuit: Part One

      Only lean on me; I will advise and direct you. I should not be a man if this
      womanly helplessness did not just give you a double attractiveness in my eyes.

      Torvald Helmer, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

      Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet. They are what we
      call civilization.

      Adah Price, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

      I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as
      though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present
      happiness. Almost five years [since he had seen Daisy]! There must have been
      moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not
      through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had
      gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a
      creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather
      that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man
      will store up in his ghostly heart.

      Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

       My life was as perfect as I could imagine it. Carlisle and Esme were wonderful
parents, and my brothers and sisters provided all the companionship I needed. As
vampires who abstained from human blood, we were able to establish prolonged
residencies along side human populations. We lived in Forks, Washington. With its
frequent cloud cover or precipitation, Forks allowed us to act like humans during the day,
so Carlisle could work at the hospital and my brothers and sisters and I could attend high
school. In sunnier places, the way our skin looks in sun light would have limited us to
evening and night activity.

       Though everyone was paired up in my family, Carlisle and Esme, Rosalie and
Emmett, and Alice and Jasper, I had never met anyone I wanted to be with. I contented
myself with my music and my studies and with the companionship of my family
members. High school was a charade my siblings and I endured so we could stay in one
place for as long as possible. We tended to keep to ourselves, and, by and large, our
human classmates were only too happy to leave us to ourselves—reacting both
consciously and unconsciously to our alienness. We were the source of considerable
gossip and speculation from our classmates. First, we were five teenage, “foster” kids
living with the young Dr. and Mrs. Cullen, and second, Rosalie and Emmett and Alice
and Jasper were paired up romantically, and though as foster children, they were
unrelated biologically, the fact that we all lived together outraged small-town
sensibilities. Since I was obviously unattached, I was a significant source of curiosity, a
fact I ignored. A relationship between a human and someone like me was unimaginable.
More importantly, I was content as I was, with my family, the life we lived, and the
distractions I found for myself.

       And so it shocked me when I found Alice at my bedroom door, with her eyes
excited and expectant, and I could see the strange images in her head. She had seen me
with a girl, a human girl, with long, dark, brown hair and chocolate brown eyes. I loved
this girl, passionately and obsessively. I agonized over this girl and fought for her, and
she was woven into the fabric of our family, both as a human and as an immortal. She
became one of us, a vampire, and we, she and I, would be together forever. The force of

the vision—the emotions that were associated with it—stunned me and scared me. It was
impossible on so many levels. How could I possibly avoid killing her? Even if I could
manage being in close proximity to her without killing her, how could she ever want to
be with me when she figured out what I was? Even if she could accept me as a vampire,
having her know about me and my family would put us all at risk from the Volturi who
enforced the secrecy of our world.

       “Alice, it can’t be,” I said, staggered.

       “I have seen it, Edward; she is coming. She has made up her mind. She will be
here in January,” she answered calmly.

       I shook my head. “She’s a girl, Alice; she is a human.”

       “It won’t matter; you will find a way or the strength to make it work,” she said.
Her eyes sparkled with anticipation. She was happy for me, and I felt the depth of that
happiness and its sincerity in her thoughts, but I couldn’t believe this vision. It was
utterly impossible.

       Over the next few weeks, though I tried to pretend that it didn’t affect me, I
wound and rewound Alice’s vision of the human girl in my mind. She was pretty and
thoughtful. There was something about the vision that I found frustrating—incomplete in
some way that I didn’t understand. I found myself drawn to the piano, playing out the
indistinct emotions that I felt—excitement and joy, longing and anticipation, and
disappointment and sorrow because it couldn’t end well.

       All of my family members knew about Alice’s vision. They tried to hide their
worries from me because they loved me, but the truth was that this relationship
threatened to expose us all.

       My brothers tried to joke with me about it. Hunting alone with Emmett, I
confessed how clueless I was about dating and relationships. He laughed heartily,
“Edward, if you direct your full attention on her, she won’t have a chance. Think of our
advantages. Go gently. Test your power over her, but remember power you will have.
Use it. Your main concern is going to be not killing her—not her failing to fall in love
with you.”

       “What if I do kill her?” I asked hesitantly.

       “We’ll leave Forks—even if it is messy, we’ll get away; we’ve done it before,” he
said lightly. “You would choose the most impossible relationship,” he teased, “but I
suppose the whole mind-reading thing will give you a boost even there.” He shook his
head and chortled to himself.

       I wished I could feel relieved, but I didn’t. I could feel the concern that Carlisle,
in particular, felt about the situation. He tried to hide it from me, but I knew, and I
worried too.

       The start of the new term arrived. On the morning of the first day, Alice seemed
more enthusiastic than normal, but I didn’t find that particularly odd. Her emotions were
often hard to contain. At school, we fell into our regular patterns. Nothing seemed
different. At lunch, however, I became more apprehensive. Alice was more excited, and
I suddenly understood the reason. The girl of her vision was there in the cafeteria; she sat
at the far end of the room from us with a bunch of our classmates. She looked
uncomfortable and self-conscious, but I realized there was more. I couldn’t read her
mind; when I looked at her or concentrated on her, there was nothing, a blank. I was
stunned. I had never encountered anyone, human or immortal, whose mind I could not
read. I felt chagrin and even anger.

       Alice picked up on my emotions. “What is it?” she demanded. “It’s her. What
can you hear?”

       “I can’t hear anything! I can’t hear her thoughts, Alice. What does that mean?” I
asked back.

       Emmett whistled and then snickered. “Finally. You deserve her—someone who
can neutralize that advantage of yours. I am going to enjoy watching this,” he said under
his breath.

       Alice’s face was shocked and then controlled. “I don’t know what it means,
Edward. I saw her future because it interlinked with yours and ours. I wonder if Jasper
can affect her or if I can see her when she is doing something that doesn’t involve you,”
she said slowly. She shook her head.

       Jasper said nothing, but Rosalie scowled. She hated this—every aspect of it—a
human girl involved in our future, involved with me. Rosalie saw her as a threat and, a
little vainly, as a rival. To be honest, I felt threatened by her too; she was a blind spot, an
Achilles heel, and I wondered if she would be my downfall, too.

       I went off to biology preoccupied and moody. Who was this girl? How could
this girl I couldn’t read become entwined in my life and the life of my family? I couldn’t
imagine it. I took my seat and waited for class to begin.

       I wasn’t paying attention when she walked in the room. I guess she went to the
teacher’s desk, but suddenly, violently, I caught her scent.


       I held my breath and glared at her. I had never smelled anything like her before.
I wanted her blood. It took everything I had not to launch myself at her right there in the
classroom in front of the whole class and the teacher. I thought of my father and my

family. I forced myself to look away from her and pretend nothing was wrong, but it was
excruciating, the smell was so powerful.

       Distracted as I was fighting the urge to rip her throat out and drink her blood, I
could tell that my violent reaction to her had registered with her, poor thing. She blushed
and sniffed at her hair. She glanced at me furtively, and in my tortured state, all I could
do was glare back at her.

       As soon as it was possible, I escaped the inferno of the classroom. I flew from the
room as quickly as I could get away with. I couldn’t be subjected to that every day. I
sought to re-arrange my schedule, but there was no other biology class with a seat
available. And then there she was again, in the office, her scent pervading the room, and
I had to fight the overwhelming desire to take her there and then or to lure her from the
office or the school to a more private place where no one would see me drink her blood
and drain her life away. I turned away from the secretary and glared at the girl again
before I could escape the office and the school. I saw the shock cross her face as she
again registered my anger and revulsion. I cared, but it was more important to get away
from her, to breathe fresh air, to escape the temptation that her scent inflamed in me.

       I was tense and preoccupied when I met my brothers and sisters at the car. They
sensed that and tried to get me to talk, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even explain it to myself.
I felt weak and unnerved. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I didn’t
have control, and I always had control. My mind-reading abilities usually gave me even
more control than just being an immortal with superhuman strength and speed and senses.
Now I was suddenly vulnerable. I couldn’t read her mind, and I wanted her blood in an
irrational and pathological way. Everything I trusted about myself seemed to have been
ripped away. She made me so assailable, and I hated her for it.

       I left my brothers and sisters and went to see Carlisle at the hospital. I tried to
explain to him what had happened. He couldn’t explain it either, but he was sympathetic.
He gave me his car, and I left to stay with Tanya and her family, our extended family, in

Alaska. We considered ourselves extended family because we were all “vegetarian”
vampires. With Carlisle’s full tank of gas, I drove for hours. Alone in the speeding car I
tried to make sense of what was happening. The smell of the girl’s blood drove me out of
my mind. How my desire for her blood could be reconciled with Alice’s vision of this
girl and me romantically involved, I couldn’t imagine. It made no sense.

       In Alaska, my cousins greeted me warmly—Tanya, perhaps too warmly. She had
fancied me—but I didn’t return the affection. It was good to be with them, Tanya, Irina,
Kate, Carmen, and Eleazar. I couldn’t tell them, but it was good to have company, and
even better to be in Alaska, away from her. Then the guilt began to consume me. I had
upset Esme by leaving; I had left my family. Who was this girl? A mere mortal. I could,
I would control myself and go back to my family. So I returned. Before returning to
school, I hunted, so that no threat of thirst would taint my next encounter with her.

       At school, I scanned through the thoughts of the kids she had sat next to at lunch
that first day the following week; her name was Isabella Swan, though she preferred
“Bella,” Italian for “beautiful.” It made me think of “Beauty and the Beast”; could she,
like Beauty, choose to love the beast, the monster, once she knew what he was? But I
couldn’t transform back into a human prince; I would always be the monster. Could I
transform her into a monster like me? NO! I couldn’t imagine forcing a vampire life on
another soul who wasn’t dying. A relationship between the two of us was hopeless.

       At lunch, I looked at her, Bella Swan. She was beautiful. Her large, dark eyes
contrasted with her pale, ivory skin. Her lips were full and lush and a rich rose color that
was echoed in her checks. A mane of thick brown hair cascaded over her shoulders and
down her back. She was more beautiful than the images Alice had seen. Jessica noticed
me looking at her and whispered to her; Bella glanced up at me and then down at the
table. I cringed as I heard her ask Jessica if I seemed angry with her. Bella had noticed
all too well my revulsion that first day—but she didn’t understand it. I didn’t hate her; I
hated my desire to kill her and drain her blood. There it was again. A mind I couldn’t
read. I was so frustrated. My eyes flickered back to her unconsciously.

       Emmett laughed softly; “Edward, experiment, see what your voice and your eyes
do to her. Talk to her. I am telling you; she will be helpless.”

       I wanted to believe him so badly. Though I tried to push Alice’s visions from my
mind, I felt completely out of control. I longed for her blood, but there was more. I
longed for her—in a way that I had never before imagined. It was almost painful.

       She was already there at the desk when I entered biology. She didn’t look up
when I took my seat, so I spoke to her. She looked up into my eyes, and I knew I had
power over her—just like Emmett had said. I could hear her unsteady intake of breath
and the acceleration of her heart. I made her uncomfortable! It was so ironic. I let my
eyes smolder and engaged her in conversation. She was staggered by my looks and voice
and attention, and I was enamored of her. Some essential part of me was drawn to her or
maybe the idea of having her so completely under my control. And I could control her, I
understood that now. I could have her; the trick would be making her think that my
manipulations of her actions were, in fact, choices that she had made herself. I pondered
the possibilities off and on all day and into the night.

       I wondered how to stage things so that Bella would feel she was in control. I was
anxious. The icy morning didn’t distract me from the strange anxiety I felt. My brothers
and sisters and I arrived at school as usual. I leaned against my car watching the other
students and watching Bella as she arrived absorbed in her own thoughts. Emotions
flashed across her face, and I wished that I could know what they were. And then Tyler’s
van was skidding across the parking lot in a path that would crush Bella between it and
her own truck. I was paralyzed for a moment. She would be killed. There would be
blood—her blood. Some part of me went giddy at the thought of her blood exposed,
pouring over the asphalt, inviting me to feed on what I desired most in the world, and my
horrible desire shocked me and brought me back to my senses.

       Though I knew that I shouldn’t interfere, I couldn’t help myself. I knew I could
move fast enough so that no one would see what I was doing, and I flew to Bella, stopped
the van, and moved her out of the way. She was the problem; in saving her, I exposed
myself to her, that I was beyond human—even if she didn’t understand or couldn’t make
sense of it. She called me on it; she asked me how I had done it. I lied, and I used the
power of my eyes to get her to drop her questions there at the accident scene.

       At the hospital, Bella wouldn’t let it go. She was angry, but I was angrier. I
hadn’t just exposed myself to her. My exposure threatened the exposure of my entire
family, and they all knew it. Rosalie was particularly furious. But I couldn’t just let
Bella get crushed to death in front of me.

       At home, we fought.

       “Edward, how could you? You haven’t just exposed yourself; you have
implicated us all. It’s against our laws. She can’t know,” stormed Rosalie. Her eyes
flashed angrily as she glared at me.

       “Rose is right, Edward; this is dangerous for all of us,” said Jasper. “We need to
consider the options.” He spoke calmly, and his calmness radiated through the room,
even calming Rosalie.

       “We could leave and start somewhere fresh or Edward could,” suggested Emmett.

       “There must be some way you can stay,” Esme said softly. Her eyes pleaded with
me. She didn’t want me to go; she wanted our family whole. My absence would cause
her pain.

       “This will work out,” said Alice. “I have seen it. We shouldn’t go and neither
should Edward. She will be one of us.” Alice’s voice was confident, but I couldn’t share
her sentiment.

        “I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. I feel so helpless. She drives me crazy,
but I couldn’t let her get killed in front of me. Can you imagine what would have
happened if I had let the van hit her and her blood had been spilled there in the parking
lot with how it appeals to me?” I asked darkly.

        “You would have fed on her right there,” answered Alice. “Jasper might have
even joined you,” she added for emphasis. “You had to save her, Edward. Stop trying to
resist this.”

        Jasper scowled at Alice, but his thoughts betrayed him. He wasn’t so sure she
wasn’t right about his lack of control around spilt blood.

        “I am sorry. I feel awful about endangering us. I will stay away from her as
much as I am able,” I promised.

        Carlisle shook his head. “Edward, I believe that this will work out. I think Alice
is right. So far you have shown remarkable control. We can always re-assess later. For
now, we should stay, and you should stay,” he said gently. He smiled at me, and I felt
comforted. Alice, Carlisle, and Esme were on my side. Though Rosalie, Jasper, and
Emmett disapproved, I knew Rose was the most adamantly opposed, and part of Emmett
hoped for my relationship with Bella because of the potential excitement it could bring if
I failed to control myself and some how even if I succeeded in controlling myself. He
wanted a challenge.

        The next day at school, I had to repair the damage. I had to protect my family. I
would ignore Bella; I would return to the pattern of my life before Alice’s impossible
vision. It wasn’t easy. I found that I was hyperaware of Bella Swan. I noticed her truck
in the parking lot. I noticed her in the cafeteria, what she wore, how she had done her
hair, and who she sat with. I tried not to notice, but my eyes were drawn to her. My
mind listened to the thoughts of her friends to see if she told them anything about the

accident, but she remained silent on her theory that I had saved her and moved a van to
do so. She surprised me and irritated me. Biology was the worst because we were right
next to each other and her scent was still so powerful and overwhelming. Weeks passed.
I was miserable. As much as I tried to ignore her, she pervaded my thoughts.

       The spring dance approached, and the thoughts of our schoolmates were full of
excitement. Who was going with whom. Who wanted to go with whom but was actually
going with someone else. Anticipation and pleasure and disappointment and rejection. It
seemed so petty. And then, I did suddenly care. Mike Newton, Eric, and Tyler were all
entertaining thoughts about themselves and Bella and the dance. I didn’t know what I
felt. I felt a kind of rage, an irrational hatred, toward them, particularly Mike Newton.
Bella was better than any of them. She couldn’t go to a dance with one of them; she
couldn’t date one of them. With shock, I realized just how badly I wanted her, wanted
Bella Swan. She had to be mine! I was jealous of these boys who entertained ideas of
themselves and my Bella.

       I sat tense in biology as Bella walked in, trailed by Mike Newton who was
struggling with what to say to ask her to the dance. I wanted to hit him, to physically hurt
him. I struggled to contain my rage, my jealousy. She surprised me; she rejected him.
She said she had to go to Seattle that weekend and told him to take Jessica. Relief swept
over me, and I stared at her. She stared back, and there was an intensity between us. I
felt it in the core of my being, and judging from the fact that her hands began to shake, I
assumed that she felt it too. The teacher called on me, and I looked away from Bella.

       At the end of class, I lingered; I wanted to talk to her. I needed to warn her that
for her own good, she should stay away from me, and yet I wanted her to ignore that
warning. I wanted to be with her. It didn’t go well. I suppose that six weeks of ignoring
her had appeared rude and unfeeling; she seemed to think that I regretted saving her life
in the parking lot. Her conclusion shocked me, and I was frustrated and even angry that I
couldn’t explain, that she couldn’t know about me and my family. She stormed away

from me, but caught her foot on the door and dropped her books. I helped her gather
them, but she was still angry at me.

       Leaving school, I listened as both Eric and Tyler asked Bella to the dance, and I
felt again the anger at their romantic interest in Bella and the relief as she rejected them.
Their invitations made her uncomfortable or irritated; the emotions that flashed over her
face as they asked her amused me. She didn’t want them.

       That evening I was restless. I felt tormented. The emotions that this girl aroused
in me were unrecognizable. My music didn’t calm me; when the agitation was too much,
I left the house and ran through the forest. At first, there was no direction or set
destination, and then I hit her scent, and I followed it instinctively. I followed it to her
house; her truck was parked in front. It was late; the house was dark. I shouldn’t have
been there, but I couldn’t help myself. I could hear her soft-breathing; I could hear the
rhythm of her heart beating; she was deeply asleep. Hearing her was suddenly not
enough; I wanted to see her, to touch her. Very slowly and gently, I eased her bedroom
window up and climbed into her room.

       There she lay across her bed. Her brown hair fanned out around her face like a
dark halo. She had thrashed with her blankets which exposed her shoulder and right arm.
She looked and smelled so moist and warm. Though I wanted to drink her blood, I
wanted something more. I wanted to hold her in my arms, and I wanted her to want me
to hold her. I walked over and gently stroked her face. She reacted to the touch.
Suddenly, I was afraid that I risked too much and that she would wake, but she startled
me by saying my name; “Edward,” she murmured. I was stunned. My heart, silent, cold,
and unchanging, seemed to swell in my chest. She rolled over and said my name again. I
was elated. She was dreaming about me, saying my name in her sleep. If only I could
read her mind; the prospect of reading her dreams as she dreamed about me made long
for it all the more. What were we doing? Was she in my arms? Were we doing more?
What could we do, a human and a vampire?

       I couldn’t leave. I fantasized about her all night. I knew it was wrong to be in her
room, but I was close to her, and I wasn’t sure she would let me be so close to her any
other way, so I stayed and imagined her dreams about me and imagined us trying to be
together. It was erotically arousing and completely unimaginable; intimate physical
contact with her would be dangerous for her, and yet it was hard not to entertain the
images that coursed through my head, touching, kissing, more touching, more kissing,
her body responding to mine and mine to hers, her body under my hands and her hands
on my body, our bodies connected, having sex. It was all completely impossible, but the
images continued. Impossible or not, I would try to win her; I wanted her. As the sun
rose, I stroked her face again very gently and kissed her hair, and then I left.

       I waited for her in the school parking lot. I wanted to ask her to go with me to
Seattle the day of the dance, but I annoyed her. I told her I held her up in the parking lot
so Tyler could ask her to the dance. I tried to clarify my warning that it would be better
for her if she stayed away from me—and to confess that I didn’t want to stay away from
her any longer. I knew that my voice and my eyes made it difficult for her to refuse me,
and she didn’t. She agreed to come with me to Seattle. I left her speechless by the
cafeteria. I was pleased with my easy success.

       At lunch, I sat alone, hoping that Bella would join me and we could talk some
more. I watched her as she walked into the cafeteria and glanced at the table with my
brothers and sisters. I saw the disappointment flash across her face as she registered that
I wasn’t sitting with them. I was delighted by her reaction. She was disappointed that I
wasn’t there; it mattered to her. Jessica was kind enough to call Bella’s attention to me
sitting and waiting for her. I motioned to Bella to join me and had the satisfaction of
watching her face flush as she walked toward me. I could hear her heart accelerate as she
walked toward me and her breathing become slightly quicker in response to the stress of
my invitation.

       I asked her to join me, and she accepted. As we talked, I experimented with my
eyes and my voice. I could hear her heart race and the blood rush to her cheeks when she

felt like she gave too much away. My eyes could make her confused; helpless under my
gaze, she usually told me the truth. She admitted trying to rationalize the van/parking lot
incident through comic book super hero stories. I tried to warn her again, to think of me
as a “bad guy.” She grasped more than I intended her to. She guessed that I was
dangerous, but she refused to see me as bad. But I knew what I was, a vampire, one of
the eternally damned. There was no hope, and yet here I was pursuing this girl who I
loved. Wanting her to find in me enough that she could love. It was so confusing.
Everything seemed upside down now. Nothing made sense, and I was content to let it be
so, for now.

       I told her I wasn’t going to biology. I warned her that skipping class now and
then was good for a person, but off she went. Only a little while later, I saw them, Mike
Newton with Bella’s arm over his shoulder and her body limp against his as he steered
toward the main office. Fury swept over me. Was she hurt? Had he hurt her? I fought
to remain in control as I walked over to them. She wasn’t hurt. Blood typing in biology
had made her sick. I fought the urge to laugh. She fainted at the sight of blood! How
did that reconcile with dating a vampire? In the nurse’s office, she startled me by saying
that blood smelled like “rust and salt.” It not only smelled like that, it tasted like it—I
would know.

       Bella didn’t want to go to gym, her last period of the day, so I convinced Ms.
Cope that I should drive Bella home. On our way to the parking lot, Bella asked me
come with them to the beach, First Beach on the Quileute reservation. Of course, I
couldn’t go there, none of my family could; it would violate the treaty my family had
with the Quileutes, but she couldn’t know that. I declined, and then she started walking
toward her truck. I grabbed her jacket to avoid direct contact with her skin—fearing her
reaction to my unnatural, ice-cold hands. She looked at me in confusion, but I insisted on
driving her home. I told Ms. Cope that I was taking her home, I explained; I had to
threaten her to get her to accept my ride.

        She was angry at first, but the music playing on my CD player in the car,
Debussy, surprised her. That she recognized “Claire de Lune” surprised me too. So
much about this odd girl seemed fated for me (that I wanted her blood so badly, that I
couldn’t read her mind, her mind alone, that she fainted at the sight of blood, that she
loved the music that I loved)—it seemed to make everything more impossible and more
possible at the same time.

        I asked her about her mother and Phil. She asked me what my definition of “too
scary” was, but I ignored her and asked another question, could she see me as scary? She
said that she thought I could be if I wanted to be, and then she deflected my questions by
asking about my family. I told her that Emmett and I were ditching school the rest of the
week, hiking in Goat Rocks Wildness. I stared into her eyes, allowing them to smolder,
and asked her to be careful. I could see that she was helpless under my power—only her
annoyance at my perception of her as a “danger magnet” freed her from the force of my

        The weekend was torture. I needed to hunt. The prey was interesting at Goat
Rocks, grizzlies and mountain lions. I usually enjoyed Emmett’s company. In fact, I did
enjoy it, but I was so distracted. My mind constantly worried about Bella and what she
was doing. I was obsessed with her. It drove Emmett crazy. “Focus, Edward. We are
hunting!” he repeated over and over. He empathized with me; he conceded that I had it
bad—this longing for this impossible relationship with the human, Bella Swan. When he
wasn’t annoyed that I wasn’t paying attention to the hunt, he was laughing over the
idiocy of my situation. It was a long weekend. Monday morning it was sunny and clear
in Forks, so we were confined to the house or remote places in the forest where no one
would see our skin in the sun light. Tuesday was the same.

        I asked Jasper and Emmett about their attractions to human blood. I wanted to
know if they had ever encountered a human whose blood was as alluring as Bella’s was
to me. Jasper said no. I knew it was hard for him to abstain from human blood at all.
Though he and Alice had been with us for fifty years, his different upbringing (being part

of a newborn army and then creating and destroying newborns in addition to feeding on
humans for decades without remorse) made it difficult for him to abstain and to even
register the different nuances of flavor and scent between humans. Emmett understood
more of what I meant. I tried to describe the attraction I had to Bella’s scent, to her
blood, it was rust and salt, but more, floral and intoxicating, and powerful, so very

       “Twice, I have smelled a scent that had some of that kind of power,” Emmett
confessed darkly. “I couldn’t control myself. Each time the scent drove me out of mind.
There was no control. I don’t know how you are able to be so close to her if she smells
so powerfully to you. It’s impressive, Edward.”

       Jasper chimed in, “Don’t give him anything else to feel superior about, Emmett;
he is cocky enough without that too.”

       “The real test will be their little outing,” Emmett teased.

       “I’ll bet you he fails; he won’t be strong enough. He’ll kill her,” said Jasper.

       “You’re on,” said Emmett. “A good FBI chase would give us a challenge we
haven’t had in a while.”

       “You’re disgusting,” I retorted, and I left them haggling out the details of their
sorted wager.

       Though I wasn’t in school, I knew Bella was fine. I watched her each night as she
slept. Tossing and turning and saying my name. I caressed her face and her body where
it was exposed from the blankets—always very carefully and very gently—not wanting to
wake her. My thoughts, in her room next to her unconscious body, were barely
manageable. My imagination went wild: kissing, touching, and more. I wanted this girl;
I wanted her so badly that it caused me distress.

       Tuesday afternoon, I realized that Bella was going to Port Angeles with Jessica
and Angela to help them shop for dresses for the dance. It was crazy, but I followed
them. The anxiety I had felt all weekend away from Bella made me feel unable to be
separated from her. I was content to just be there, where she was. I didn’t want her to
see me; that might be too weird for her. And I had to admit to myself that it was weird
and could be considered creepy, following her, stalking her. But I couldn’t help myself.
I had to be where she was. They looked at dresses for a while. Suddenly, I realized that
Bella was not with Jessica and Angela any more, and I felt panic. I started looking for
Bella, for the bookstore she wanted to go to. I couldn’t find her. I searched through the
minds of people on the streets, and then I saw his picture of Bella in his mind. He hoped
to have his friends corner her, and he hoped to hold her down and kiss and rape her, the
four of them and Bella. Rage flooded my mind. I was shaking with rage and indignation.

       Bella was mine. I couldn’t abide the thought of someone touching her intimately.
Not Mike Newton, or Eric or Tyler. Certainly not this thug and his goonies. And not that
way! Bella was too beautiful, too innocent. Rape was vile and savage. Bella needed to
be loved, worshipped, made love to. If anyone was going to deflower Bella Swan, I
wanted it to be me and only me. How that could ever be possible, I wasn’t sure. I
couldn’t think about it now. I floored the Volvo and drove to Bella. She was there; the
four men surrounding her. My rage flared. I wanted to kill them. I wanted to rip them
limb from limb. I wanted it to hurt, to cause the kind of fear and agony and pain they had
wished to inflict on Bella. Bella! I needed to help Bella; I forced myself to concentrate
on her and her alone.

       As I drove toward her, she seemed poised to take some kind of action. I spun the
Volvo around scattering her assailants and opened the passenger door for her and
commanded her to get in the car. She obeyed. Obvious relief and gratitude flitted over
her pale face. I felt intense relief too. She was safe; she was with me and away from
them and the violence and danger they posed. I struggled with the anger and rage I felt
toward them, her would-be attackers. I just drove until we were far enough away for me

to risk stopping the car. She was struggling with her emotions too much to notice me at
first, but then she did. She noticed that I was furious and asked me if I was okay. What
could I say, I was beyond reason. I wanted to kill them for trying to hurt her, for their
willingness and eagerness to sexually assault and rape her. She was mine, and I would
defend her and kill for her. Part of Alice’s vision flashed through my mind, and I
realized that it was coming true as impossible as it seemed. I loved her; I would obsess
over her, and I would fight for her. She was my life. I had to have her, had to have her
with me, had to have her safe. I tried to explain a little of my anger, but then she
reminded me that she was supposed to meet Jessica and Angela for dinner.

       I turned the car around and drove to the restaurant. Jessica and Angela had eaten,
but I didn’t want to be alone. I insisted on taking Bella to dinner. She protested, but I
ignored her. I knew that she wouldn’t refuse me alone time with so many questions
running through her head (about the near fatal van accident and now about my saving her
from assault). The mystery that I presented for her made me smile—it was another way
to keep me on her mind, to keep her preoccupied and obsessed with me.

       La Bella Italia wasn’t crowded, but I asked the hostess to seat us somewhere more
private. We were taking things to a new level. I had exposed myself again—as being
something more than human—and she would know, she would ask about it. I wasn’t
sure what to tell her, but I wanted her, so that meant that I needed to reveal something of
myself—I just wasn’t sure how much.

       She surprised me yet again. She accused me of dazzling people. I pretended that
I didn’t understand what she meant, but I did. I dazzled people to my advantage
regularly; we all did—my family members and others of my kind. Vampires dazzle their
normal human prey to get so close. People in my family don’t dazzle people to eat them,
but to have things turned in our favor like class schedules and the best tickets at concerts
or the like. Of course, I knew the power of my eyes and voice and looks and smell. I
used my powers regularly. I used them on her. It was interesting to know that she was
conscious of my powers. She was observant—more observant than I realized. She had

figured out what the shift in my eye color meant. When my eyes were dark, I was thirsty,
but when my eyes were light, I wasn’t. She shivered after drinking her soda, and I
offered her my jacket. I took intense pleasure in watching her watch me and then in
hearing her inhale my scent from the jacket and watching her blush. She was beautiful,
and the deep blue of her shirt intensified the paleness of her skin and the rose color of her
lips and cheeks.

        She asked me why I was in Port Angeles, and I finally confessed to following her.
I told her that I could read minds, and that I read the minds of the men who had wanted to
assault her and, therefore, knew where to find her. I tried to tell her that I was still
dangerous for her, but she was determined to see me as her savior—from the van and
from the men. She didn’t realize that I had fought myself over and over again that first
day from killing her myself.

        We left the restaurant; she had promised to tell me her latest theory on “what I
was” in the car on the way home. She asked me about my mind reading, and I told her
some about it. She asked about why I couldn’t read hers, and I told her my theory. She
thought she was the odd one, not me, the monster. Theories brought us back to her
promise to tell me her latest one about me on the way home. She hesitated. I prompted
by asking about comic books, but she confused me with a preamble about family friends
and stories. Then she qualified; the stories of the family friends were Quileute, and I
knew what their stories would say about us. She said it, vampires. She explained how
she “tricked” the story out of Jacob Black, and I felt a flash of violent anger toward
him—as much as I felt for Mike Newton. I pictured in my mind Bella flirting with Jacob
as I wanted her to flirt with me—and though I watched and touched her each night in her
bedroom, the idea of a conscious Bella wanting me and flirting with me created such a
desperate longing in me that it caused me duress.

        She knew. I was a vampire, the undead, the eternally damned who feed on human
blood. I began to steel myself against the repulsion I knew must follow. And she
surprised me yet again. She told me that she didn’t care what I was. She knew I was a

vampire and part of vampire family that did not feed on humans. I was shocked. How
could she not care? Could she really be making this impossible situation possible? I was
angry at her. How could she be making choices like being with me that would endanger
her? She asked me how old I was. When I answered automatically, she asked how long I
had been seventeen. She asked about the myths surrounding vampires. She asked about
the Quileute myths about us, and I reminded her that I was dangerous and dangerous to
her. The questions she asked next were tinged with desperation and fear, so they startled
me, not for their subject matter but for the force of the emotions behind them.

         Then she revealed her longing for me, and the conflict in me was unbearable. I
wanted her more than anything, yet I was a vampire who thirsted for her blood and the
most dangerous threat to her well-being. I told her she couldn’t feel that way for me, and
I watched in both horror and relief as my harsh words brought tears to her eyes. She was
within my power. She loved me as I loved her, already. Saving her twice had only
increased my hold over her, and I could imagine how powerfully she would feel indebted
to me.

         In front of her house, I experimented with my scent. She had found it so enticing
when she smelled it from my jacket in the restaurant and in the car. So before Bella left
my car, I leaned in and blew my breath in her face and watched as the power of my
breath completely confused her. I chuckled as I fully understood the power of my scent
on her. I intoxicated her. She had to use the door frame of the car to steady herself. She
was mine.

         That night in her sleep, she murmured my name again and again. I thrilled to hear
it, and I caressed her face and her neck as lightly as I could. I inhaled the scent of her and
fantasized all night about being with her intimately.

         In the morning, I was there just after her father left for work, waiting in the
driveway with my car. She didn’t notice right away, but when she did, her heart
fluttered, and I fought the smile that struggled to burst across my face. She was as eager

for this as I was. I was winning. So I asked as innocently as I could, “Do you want to
ride with me today?” I was offering. She could refuse me, but I knew that that she
wouldn’t. I had her already. She was fascinated by me (the mystery) and beholden to me
(her savior). She would refuse me nothing, and she didn’t; she got into the car willingly
and most importantly believing that it was her decision and not my manipulation that had
gotten her into the car. But she was wrong.

       My jacket from last night was hung over the back of her seat, and I watched with
pleasure as she eagerly pulled it around herself and inhaled my scent as quietly as she
could. She seemed tongue tied this morning, and I teased her about it. I tried to explain
that it wasn’t her questions that bothered me; it was her cool responses. I was a monster
after all; as a human, she should find me repulsive. But she didn’t. I parked the Volvo
next to Rosalie’s car, and we got out. Jessica was waiting for her with her jacket
(because Bella had left it in her car the night before). The curiosity and excitement on
Jessica’s face were obvious; in her mind questions and awe were raging; she would
bombard Bella in trigonometry. As we watched Jessica walk away, I quietly asked Bella
what she was going to tell her. Bella’s eyes widened, and she accused me of reading her
mind. She begged me to help her, so I told her that Jessica wanted to know if we were
dating and that she wanted to know how she felt about me. She feigned a casualness, but
I could hear her heart racing at my words. I told her; no (about the mind reading), and I
asked her, to say “yes” to the first question. I gave her a choice or what I hoped seemed
like a choice, and then I told her I would be listening to her response to the second
question in Jessica’s mind. She looked stunned, and I smiled to myself as I walked away
and called out that I would see her at lunch.

       During second period, I focused my attention on Jessica, though several
classrooms away, and listened to Bella’s responses to her questions. Jessica was
disappointed that Bella and I weren’t more involved; when she asked Bella about how
much she liked me, she registered the fact that Bella’s face blushed scarlet. Bella’s
response troubled me; she told Jessica that she liked me “too much” that she liked me
“more” than I liked her. I scoffed at the idea. I waited for Bella after class and walked

with her to the cafeteria. She was quiet and self-conscious. She knew I had been
listening, and she knew I was annoyed by what I had heard.

       I filled a tray with food for us to “share.” She objected at first, but then
acquiesced. She dared me to eat human food, so I amused her by eating a bite of pizza. I
tried to explain that I did want to know what she thought, all of it; it was just that some of
the things she thought worried me because they were dangerous for her. I stared into her
eyes, and I could see her struggling to breathe normally. She accused me of dazzling her,
and I was. I wanted to know if she really thought she liked me more than I like her. She
confessed that she did, and I told her she was wrong and listened as her heart raced in
response to my words. I asked her why she thought that, and she surprised me by telling
that sometimes it seemed like I was trying to say good-bye to her when I was saying
something else.

       I wasn’t good for her, my very being threatened her. The conflict of wanting her
and wanting to protect her were always with me, raging inside me, and she was
perceptive enough to have noticed. She didn’t think much of herself; she thought of
herself as ordinary and clumsy and accident prone. I tried to tell her that she was
beautiful, but she dismissed my flattery and returned to the subject of my hinted good-
byes. I tried to explain again that if I could leave her, it meant I “cared” the most. Then I
shifted the conversation. I asked her if she really needed to go to Seattle on Saturday or
if we could do something else. I asked her if she would have refused me if I had asked
her to the dance. I was confident that she wouldn’t have, but she surprised me again.
She said that she probably would have said yes, and then cancelled later due to her un-
coordination. I tried to tell her it was all in the leading dance partner, and then returned
to my earlier question about Seattle. She was willing to do something else, so I invited
her to spend the day with me.

       Saturday would be sunny, I explained, so I would be keeping way from other
people, but she could stay with me, if she wanted to. It was a choice, but not much of
one. I knew her curiosity would never allow her to pass up the opportunity to see what I

meant about my skin in sunlight. I also knew that she longed to be with me alone, that
she hoped I would kiss her, thanks to Jessica’s probing questions. I wasn’t sure I could
kiss her on the mouth without ripping her throat out, but being alone with her in my
meadow would be critical for determining how our relationship could or couldn’t
progress. Would I find the strength that Alice had suggested or would I kill her? I didn’t
know. She asked to drive because she didn’t want to explain the revision of her plans to
Charlie, her father. I told her I preferred that her father knew she was out with me—that
her father’s knowledge of our plans would help me make the right choices about being
alone with her. She refused to heed the warning and changed the subject.

       She wanted to know about the “hiking” trip Emmett and I had taken and realized
with surprise that we had been hunting bears. She struggled to imagine us hunting, and I
watched her with amusement as she was not able to suppress shuddering as she re-
appraised Emmett across the cafeteria and the idea of his hunting grizzly bears. She
asked if she might be able to see me hunt some day. The danger to her in those
circumstances flooded my mind and made me intensely angry. She flinched away from
me, and I was sorry I had lost control in front of her. I calmed myself and deflected her
questions. She made me promise to explain later, and I reluctantly agreed.

       Biology was complicated. We were to watch a movie, and I was worried how
being in the dark next to her would affect us both. This was vampire stuff. Since many
vampires hunted their prey at night, we were most alluring in darkness. A human would
find it almost physically impossible not to be drawn to one of us; he or she, the victim,
would seek to be near one of us and would want to touch and be touched by one of us.
Like a lamb rendered completely helpless before the slaughter of the lion, there was a
magnetic eroticism about us in the dark that was irresistible. As soon as the lights
switched off, I felt the charge. I wanted to touch her, to hold her, to bite her. The desires
were intense, and I crushed my hands in tight fists to my chest and concentrated on
resisting the urges I felt. I glanced at her, and I could see the surprise and desire in her
face. She wanted to touch and be touched by me too. She had balled up her fists and

crushed them to her chest just as I had. As I gazed into her eyes, her breathing
accelerated; I grinned at her, and she looked away before she lost control.

       When the lights went on again, the charge lessened abruptly, and I couldn’t help
chuckling at the sense of release the absence of the charge produced. I remarked on it,
and she acknowledged the sensations but was still visibly affected. As I walked her to
gym, curiosity raged in my head. How would she respond if I did touch her? I was
conflicted beyond imagining at the thought. Though I knew it was better for her to slow
the advance of our relationship, I couldn’t make myself. She had wanted me to touch her
in biology, as I had desperately wanted to touch her. So there outside the gym, when she
turned to me, I looked into her eyes and brushed my hand softly across her face. Color
flushed through her face, and I left her there, recovering from my touch.

       She had given me the idea, so I listened to Mike Newton’s thoughts in gym that
period. She hit herself in the head with her own racket! Mike voiced his disapproval of
our relationship, and rage flooded my mind. Newton was annoying. She was furious
when she realized that I had listened to her in gym, but I got her to forgive me. I flashed
my eyes at her and agreed to let her drive on Saturday and had the pleasure of listening as
her heart raced in response. I drove her home, and she asked about her and me and
hunting again. I tried to explain that when I hunted I relied more on my senses and less
on my rational mind; in that state, stopping myself from hunting her, killing her, would
be very difficult, and that I would never put her in that kind of danger. And then I looked
at her and she stared back into my eyes; as our eyes held, the electric charge from early
that day returned, and I could hear her breathing become erratic. It was better if she went
inside, and I told her to go. I also warned her that the next day, it would be my turn to
ask the questions. I wanted to know everything about her and her life. If I couldn’t read
her mind, at least I could know the tiny details of her life that would help me predict her
behavior and bind her to me.

       That night, she turned restlessly in her bed. She murmured my name again and
again, and I became so intensely aroused that it was not enough to kiss her hair or gently

stroke her face. Her blankets rested at her waist, and I could see her breasts through her
thin t-shirt. I knew it was wrong, but I lightly touched her breasts, and she moaned in her
sleep. I felt her nipples harden in response to my cool touch, and I drew back to stop
myself from touching her further. She repeated my name, and I couldn’t bear it. My
penis was hard and throbbing, and the need to feel release was overpowering. I
masturbated, watching her sleep and imagined her touching me and us having sex. The
sense of release from the orgasm was amazing. I wanted her so badly. Slowly, I told
myself; “Go slowly with this girl, make her want you beyond reason, make her want you
as badly as you want her. Make her ache for you.” I would, I vowed.

       The next morning, I was there to pick her up just after her father left. She was
delighted to see me, and I suppressed my smile. Her restless night left her looking a little
tired, and we joked about how little sleep each of us had gotten. Then, I began with my
questions. I wanted to know everything. Every insignificant detail of her life: music,
books, people, travel, everything. Sometimes her answers caused her to blush, and I
would refocus my attention to understand the reasons behind the blushes. She resisted
sometimes, but when I flashed by eyes at her and pleaded with her in my gentle voice,
she always gave in and told me what I wanted to know.

       Biology was tortuous again as the film continued. I tried to sit further from her,
but it didn’t help. The charge between us in the dark was intense—almost more intense
than the previous day. I felt how she strained against the urges to touch me and be held
by me in the dark. She was so overwhelmed by her desires that she refused to even look
at me. After class, I walked her to gym, and as before, I touched her face with my hand.
The warmth of her skin was wonderful.

       After gym, I was pleased to see how her face lit up when she saw me waiting for
her. I continued my questions on the way home and in the car in front of her house. As it
was growing dark, I told her why “twilight” was such a bitter-sweet part of the day for us.
When I knew that Charlie was nearly home, I asked her if she wanted him to know she
would be with me on Saturday, but she refused. I told her I was not done with my

questions yet. It gave me great satisfaction to listen to her heart race as I reached across
her to open her door for her. And then I could hear them, Billy Black and his son, Jacob,
Quileutes, “a complication.” Their car pulled up. Billy Black was furious, but his son
was oblivious. Billy knew what I was, and he wanted to protect Bella. Though I knew
that, though I could read his intensions in his head, I hated him. I hated him for wanting
to keep me from Bella. Bella got out of the car and went to greet them while I drove
away suppressing my anger. I seethed with anger all the way home.

       Emmett was tinkering with his Jeep when I pulled into the garage. I was still so
angry. He looked at my face as I got out of the car and shook his head.

       “You look like you want to break something, little brother,” he said.

       “That’s putting it mildly,” I answered back tensely.

       “Then let’s go! Do you want to hunt or bust up cliff face or pitch boulders? I am
up for anything.”

       “Pounding cliff face doesn’t sound too bad,” I answered. Emmett was such a
good brother. We ran past the house and jumped over the river. Beating against the
stone did actually relieve some of my anger. I told Emmett about the Blacks at Bella’s
house. I had already told him and the others about how Bella had figured out what we
were from the Quileute legends that Jacob Black had told her. He wasn’t concerned
about the Blacks or the Quileutes. He found my jealousy amusing. My anger flared, and
he laughed.

       “It’s just good to see you out of control, Edward,” he said earnestly. “I so rarely
get to see you this way. I like this girl, Bella Swan. I’ll work on Rose. Some how it will
work out.” He punched my shoulder and smiled at me.

       We went back to the house, and I occupied myself until it was safe to assume
Bella was asleep. Though my anger had abated, it flashed as I neared Bella’s house and
could smell the scents of the two Blacks.

       Standing over Bella’s sleeping form, inhaling her scent, and kissing and stroking
her hair calmed me and helped me drive the image of Billy Black’s angry face from my
mind. I realized that I was insanely jealous of anyone who threatened my time with
Bella, whether it was Billy Black or Mike Newton. It didn’t matter; I knew I would be
willing to kill for her. I had already been willing to kill for her in Port Angeles, but those
had been strangers trying to do her violence, and these were just people I knew who were
trying to protect her or vying for her romantic affections. As the jealousy calmed, I
began to fantasize about her and me as I usually did. The fantasies were very good; I
imagined her writhing in pleasure as we came together and couldn’t resist the urge to
touch her when she called out my name in her sleep.

       In the morning, I waited for her as usual. Impossible as it seemed, she was more
eager than yesterday to join me in the car. I smiled widely as I listened to her shortness
of breath and her racing heart as she got into the car. She asked about my night, and I
couldn’t deny how pleasurable it had been. She seemed confused, but I diverted her by
continuing my questions. I was surprised and pleased that she had never dated anyone. I
knew jealousy was behind my pleasure; I didn’t want to think about anyone else having
touched her or kissed her. I wanted her to belong to me and only me.

       In the cafeteria, I told her that I would be leaving after lunch with Alice. I
watched the disappointment flicker over her face as she realized that she would lose time
with me. I assured her that her truck would be waiting for her at the end of school; Alice
and I would get it and leave it for her. She protested that she didn’t have the key, but I
dismissed her concerns and assured her the truck would be waiting for her.

       She asked where I was going, and I told her I was hunting with Alice—trying to
satisfy any thirst I had before I spent the next day, Saturday, alone with her. I reminded

her that she could cancel on me, but she assured me that she couldn’t, and I knew she
couldn’t either. It annoyed me that she had refused to tell her father she would be alone
with me. I wanted someone to know; it would help me to know that someone else knew
when I was fighting the urge to kill her. She asked about what my family thought, and I
tried to explain that they didn’t understand my longing for her. “You fascinate me,” I
told her; I attempted to explain further, but she glanced at my family, and Rosalie reacted
by glaring at her. I was furious and hissed at Rosalie. I tried to explain that Rosalie was
concerned, that all my family members were concerned. Saturday alone with her
constitute a risk not only to her, Bella, but to all of us. If I couldn’t find the control to be
with her alone, if I killed her, I threatened to expose us all as vampires.

        Alice approached us, and I introduced them. I told Alice I would meet her at the
car. Bella hoped I would have fun on the trip, and though she tried to sound cheerful, I
knew that she was sad to be without me. I stroked her face gently in parting and turned to
follow Alice. We got Bella’s truck, and I left her a note, “Be safe,” so that she would
know I was thinking of her.

        Hunting with Alice was good. She encouraged me. She reviewed her original
vision of Bella in my life, in our lives. And she reviewed her more recent vision of Bella
being safe and alive after spending the day with me on Saturday. Rosalie was so resistant
to Bella, but Alice assured me that everyone else was not. She encouraged me to feel the
depth of their sincerity, and I knew she was right. I had been alone so long; they wanted
me to be happy, and if my happiness was entwined with this girl, they would find a way
to accept her. They all recognized that the hardest part of this impossible relationship
was between Bella and me—my resisting the urge to kill her and her choosing to be with
a vampire. “You will find the strength, Edward; I have seen it,” Alice repeated
throughout the afternoon as I fretted over the possibilities for the next day.

        The next morning, I found amusement in Bella’s choice of clothing: we matched.
I begrudgingly got into the passenger seat, and she drove the ancient truck slowly, taking

the directions I gave her. I was furious when I realized that no one knew she was alone
with me, not her father, not Jessica. I questioned her sanity.

       She pulled to the shoulder of the road, near the start of the trail. She looked
worried and alarmed when I walked into the forest, bypassing the trail and making my
own way. I assured her we wouldn’t get lost, but her expression looked pained. I
worried that she was afraid. I offered to take her home, but she refused. Her obvious
pain over something she was not sharing with me hurt me too. I felt surprisingly
vulnerable. I helped her over obstacles in our path as I navigated our way to my
meadow. When I touched her, I could hear her heart accelerate, and I couldn’t reconcile
that reaction with the pain that flickered across her face. And then we were there. She
walked eagerly into the beautiful meadow while I hesitated at the edge. How would she
react to me? Would I scare her? Would she finally see me as a monster and run away
from me? My anxiety was intense.

       I walked slowly into the sunlight, and I watched as her eyes flew open wide
watching the way the sun sparkled off my skin like hundreds of prisms dancing in the
sun-light. She gasped and murmured that I was beautiful. I lay down on the grass and
flowers with the sun shining on my face and neck and arms, and she sat next to me,
staring at me. I asked her if I scared her, and she answered, “No more than usual.” It
made me laugh. She touched my arm, hesitantly. The warmth of her touch was fantastic.
She asked my permission to touch me, and I tried to tell her how good it felt. She stroked
my arm and hand, and she held my hand between hers. I asked her what she was
thinking, explaining that it was so frustrating for me not to know. She confessed to
feeling afraid; I told her I didn’t want her to be afraid. She amended her statement, and it
made me intensely curious. I sat up quickly. Our faces were so close, and she startled
me by moving even closer, inhaling my breath. Her scent was so close, and the urge to
taste her scent and blood was so strong I nearly forgot myself. I was suddenly terrified
that I would kill her at that moment. I forced myself away from her. Of course, she
didn’t realize what was happening. One moment, she was holding my hand and leaning
her face toward me, and the next, I was at the edge of the meadow, staring at her, trying

to control my breathing and my desire for her blood. She apologized to me. I steadied
myself and returned to her, apologizing for my sudden actions. As she realized that I had
nearly lost control, I smelled the adrenaline coursing through her veins, and I smiled. She
needed to see the worst; she needed to fully understand what I was capable of. Her
choice to be with me needed to be informed. I was pretty certain that she would still
choose me even if I frightened her. I had frightened her already, and yet there she sat
completely alone with me.

       I acknowledged my vampire gifts, my voice, my face, my smell, and then I
demonstrated to her how fast I was and how strong I was. She sat wide-eyed, staring at
me. I could read the terror in her eyes, but she refused to look away, and though I clearly
frightened her, I did not revolt her. I begged her not to be afraid; I swore not to hurt her;
I asked for her forgiveness again, and I rejoined her, sitting across from her and placing
my hand back in hers. I assured her that I wasn’t thirsty, and she laughed weakly. She
caressed my hand and smiled slightly at me. I smiled back and attempted to continue our
previous conversation about why she was afraid. She hesitated, and I tried to explain
how uncomfortable it made me when she withheld her thoughts from me. She was afraid
of wanting to be with me; she was embarrassed to confess this to me. I agreed that her
desire to be with me was not a safe desire for her. I confessed that for her safety, I had
considered leaving Forks. She protested that she didn’t want me to go, and I told her that
I wanted her too much to leave. She was glad; she didn’t understand at all.

       I tried to explain. It wasn’t just that I was a vampire and she was a human, and I
was resisting the temptation of feeding on her; she didn’t smell like Jessica or Angela.
Ordinary humans didn’t tempt me; I resisted the temptation of the human blood easily,
but Bella’s blood, her scent, was different; it nearly sent me into a frenzy. I tried to use
metaphors about fine brandy and heroin; she was my own “personal brand” of heroin. I
tried to explain that the way she smelled to me was rare; it didn’t happen to many of us,
and it had never happened to me before. She misunderstood and thought that I meant
there was no hope for us. I countered, quickly assuring her there was hope, that I
wouldn’t hurt her. I confessed to the power of her blood that first day I met her, in the

biology classroom where I struggled through the entire class with my desires and then
again in the office. I explained why I had appeared so angry, why I had disappeared from
school, and why I had come back. I told her about the extra measures I took so that I
could be around her, and the agony I felt when she was nearly killed by Tyler’s van, and
problems I had with my family for saving her and threatening us. I explained why I tried
to stay away from her after that. I told her that I could not bear the idea of her dead and
lifeless, the idea of her never blushing again or seeing through my lies. I could see that
my confession about how much she meant to me and how completely I was bound to her
left her staggered. I stared down into her face, and she confessed to being unable to stay
away from me.

       She called herself an idiot, and I agreed with her, and then I said gently, “And so
the lion fell in love with lamb,” and though she hid her eyes from me, I heard her heart
race in response to my words. She asked me why I ran from her before when she had
moved so close. I tried to explain; it was more the suddenness of her closeness to me that
surprised me. I took my free hand and placed it on the side of her neck. I hoped to show
her I was in control. I felt her pulse increase at my touch, and her face flushed with
pleasure. I commented on how much I enjoyed her blushes, and then I moved my hands
to either side of her face and held her there. I asked her to be very still for a moment, and
I moved my face so that my cheek rested at the base of her throat while my hands held
her face. Her heart beat was hypnotic, and I slid my hands from her face down her neck
to her shoulders and my cheek from her throat to her chest, listening to her heart beat as it
raced in reaction to my touch.

       I didn’t want to move, and she held very still. Her heart beat slowed, and I pulled
away. Being so close to her and inhaling her scent so intimately had been difficult, but it
made it easier to be around her; I was more “desensitized” to her scent. The warmth of
her chest had pervaded my cheek, and I let her feel it. She asked me not to move, and I
held still, aching for the caresses she seemed determined to give me. Her fingers traced
all the features of my face, and I thrilled to her warm, gentle touch. When she pulled
away, I looked at her with intense longing, and her blood raced in her veins as she

acknowledged my longing and responded with longing of her own. I tried to explain the
conflicting emotions that I felt, but I wasn’t sure how to articulate them. I spoke of
hungers, desires, and she seemed to understand what I meant.

        I confessed that I wasn’t sure if I knew how to be close to her, but she assured me
that I was better at it than I thought. She rested her head against my chest, and I encircled
her in my arms and kissed her hair. I was unwilling to move again, and then she sighed;
it was beginning to get dark, and I realized that I needed to take her home. I had revealed
so much of myself to her, and she seemed okay with it all. I wondered if she would let
me carry her through the forest. I asked her. She thought I was joking at first. I pulled
her onto my back, and we were off. I felt her pulse pounding and smelled the adrenaline
pouring through her system. I hoped that she was finding it exciting and not terrifying,
but I was wrong. She felt sick by the time we reached her truck and needed to sit and
collect herself.

        As we ran, I thought about how well I had done with her alone, about how
through familiarity her scent didn’t overpower me, how I wanted to be more intimate
with her, and how I knew that she wanted me to be more intimate with her. I thought I
was ready. We could try. I would try to kiss her. I had touched her, and I had fantasized
about this, kissing her; I thought I was ready. Sitting next to her, I took her face in my
hands and told her I wanted to try something. She stopped breathing, and I bent my face
to hers and pressed my lips to hers. Her reaction shocked me. She wrapped herself
around me and kissed me back with a force that threatened all my control. She pulled me
closer. She kissed me greedily and her breathing became erratic as she pressed against
me. My hands restrained her, as I fought back my wild urge to continue and to go
beyond that to drink her blood. She suddenly realized my discomfort and tried to move
away from me, but I wouldn’t let her move. I held her tightly until I regained control. I
could control myself—even in this difficult situation.

        I was pleased, and I told her so. I held out my hand for her and helped her to her
feet. I laughed; I was suddenly light-hearted. I hadn’t killed her, I had kissed her and

resisted her assault on my control, and most of all, I knew she thrilled to my touch and
my kiss. She was mine just as I had hoped. Beyond reason, she loved me, as I loved her.
I told her I should drive us home. She protested, but I won, as I knew I would. I kissed
her to confirm my power over her, kissing her along her throat multiple times and feeling
her heart race and the color flood to her face in reaction. She was helpless under the
power of my affection, and the power made me feel high.

       I drove her home, and she asked me about me and my family. I told her about
myself and Carlisle’s changing me although I withheld the specifics of the conversion
process. I told her about how Carlisle had brought Esme, Rosalie, and Emmett into our
family, and then how Alice and Jasper had joined us. I told her about the gifts we each
seemed to bring with us from our human selves, but I refused to tell her about Alice’s
vision of her as part of our family. I wasn’t ready for that. As much as I loved her, I
couldn’t condemn her to eternal damnation, and that is all I saw for us, for vampires.

       In the driveway outside her house, I realized she was hungry; I felt badly that I
hadn’t considered her hunger all day. She didn’t want to leave me, and it was wonderful
to hear her say it. I asked to come in. The request surprised her, but she allowed me to
accompany her. I flew to unlock and open the door for her. Since I watched her often at
night and in the early morning, I knew where the spare key was hidden. She was
surprised again, and she asked me if I spied on her. I admitted it and had the satisfaction
of realizing that the fact did not alarm her or scare her; it seemed to please her. As she
heated up some dinner, she asked me how often I came there, and I told her. I told her I
liked to watch and listen to her sleep. I didn’t tell her what else I did while I watched and
listened. I wasn’t sure how she would react to what I had admitted; she should have been
angry; most people would find it creepy, but she was more embarrassed than anything.
She knew she talked in her sleep, and she knew she dreamed about me. She was
embarrassed that I had heard her talking about me in her sleep. She didn’t realize it was
exactly her talking about me in her sleep that brought me closer to her, that made me
abandon my efforts to stay away from her. I tried to soothe her embarrassment, and then

her father approached. She didn’t know what to tell Charlie about me, so I left her there
in the kitchen. She called out after me, and I laughed softly at the longing in her voice.

       I didn’t leave. I waited for her in her room on her bed. I hoped that this was what
she wanted. It was hard not to pay attention to their conversation below me, but I wish I
hadn’t. Charlie mentioned Mike Newton, and my mind filled with rage. The obvious
excitement in Bella’s voice as she excused herself from the table and tried to feign
tiredness distracted me from my jealousy. When she opened the door, she didn’t see me
and ran to her window. She threw it open and whispered my name into the darkness.
Seeing her excitement and eagerness to be with me again made me euphoric. I laughed
from her bed and watched her spin around in surprise. Her heart raced in excitement, and
she sat down on the floor of her room to recover from her sudden surprise. I picked her
up, gently and carefully, and sat her on the bed with me, and we laughed together as we
listened to her heart beat return to normal.

       She asked my permission, my permission, to excuse herself to get ready for bed
and to make a show to Charlie that she was actually going to bed and not sneaking out.
Of course, I granted my permission to her, and she ordered me to stay, an order with
which I was only too eager to comply. When she returned, she sat on the bed with me. I
pressed my check to her throat and breathed in her scent. She noticed that being so close
to her now, after all day with her, seemed easier and asked me about that. I tried to
explain that it was not easier, but that my success this afternoon alone with her had
convinced me that I could do it, that I was strong enough, that I couldn’t hurt her; “mind
over matter,” I told her. I had worried that I couldn’t be close to her, but she responded
to my touch and my kisses the way I had fantasized about; she wanted more; she told me
I was driving her mad. I told her how it pleased me to be good at being with her. She
said that I was good at everything; she adored me, worshipped me, and that was just what
I wanted.

       I tried to explain that being away from her would mean that I would have to work
on being close to her scent again; I was so “desensitized” to it at the moment but it would

different the next day, and then she begged me to stay. I smiled at her and told her I was
only too willing to be her “prisoner,” but I imprisoned her wrists in my hands as I spoke
and laughed. She noticed how light-hearted I seemed and remarked on it. “Isn’t first
love supposed to be like this?” I asked coyly. I tried to explain the shock of feeling the
emotions first-hand rather than reading about them or watching them; she agreed that the
experience was more profound. I remembered the jealousy that I felt when Charlie had
questioned her about Mike Newton, and I tried to explain it to her. I told her about the
first night I came here and her saying my name and how it made me feel. She tried to
counter by mentioning Rosalie who Carlisle had hoped might be a companion for me but
who was never more than my sister, and I scoffed at her. “For ninety years, I have been
waiting for you,” I told her. She suggested that it wasn’t fair that she didn’t have to wait
for me, that she had it “easy,” but I reminded her that she was a human putting herself in
danger every moment by being with me. She tried to tell me that she didn’t mind the
sacrifice, but I didn’t believe it. Charlie was coming to check on her, so I disappeared
and told her to lie down.

       She did a terrible job of faking being asleep, and I told her so after her father had
left. I began humming the lullaby I had created for her. She wasn’t ready for sleep, not
with me there beside her. I inhaled her scent and tried to describe it to her, floral and
delicious. She decided to ask me more questions, about why we eat animals instead of
humans like most of our kind, about our abilities, and where vampires come from. I
encouraged her to sleep, but she had more questions. She worried that I would disappear,
and I assured her that I would not. Her last questions made her uncomfortable, and she
blushed easily. She asked about marriage for vampires since I had mentioned that
Rosalie and Emmett sometimes lived as a married couple. And then she asked about that
possibility for us, for her and me. Marriage! She would consider marrying me; my hold
on her was stronger than I thought; I was elated.

       Of course, marriage between a human and a vampire would be impossible, but
then I wondered again about Alice’s vision where Bella was clearly immortal and clearly
part of my life. I didn’t know how to explain it. I tried to tell her how dangerous it

would be for her for us to be so close so much of the time. I could, I should, only be
close to her when I was in control, and I wasn’t sure that I could be in control all the time
if we lived together. I asked her if she was scared, and she said no. Marriage meant
more than simply living together, and the images I had created of Bella and me making
love flooded my mind. “Have you ever …?” I asked hesitantly. “No,” she responded
blushing in the darkness. I told her that we shared that status in common, and she asked
if I found her attractive “that way,” sexually attractive she meant. Of course, I did; she
had no idea just how sexually attractive I found her, but this first night that she knew I
was I with her, I would be good, I would be cautious. Better to have her sexual desire for
me overpowering than for me to scare her off with my own sexual desire for her. I
assured her that I found her attractive and insisted on her getting some sleep, and I began
humming her lullaby to her again.

       She drifted off to sleep in my arms, and I inhaled her scent and kissed her very
gently, her hair and the back of her neck. Very gently, so as not to wake her or disturb
her, I caressed her shoulder and the arm left exposed by her blankets. She must have
been tired from the long day together and all the information I had given her because she
shifted very little in her sleep. She murmured by name, and it felt like I couldn’t contain
the joy I felt, and then she whispered, “Edward, I love you,” and I felt—I didn’t even
know how to describe how I felt; I felt triumphant; she was mine; she had to be mine. I
wanted her, all to myself, completely.

       Later, I gently extricated myself from her sleeping body and went home. Alice
was waiting for me, her eyes bright with excitement. Emmett and Jasper were there too.
Jasper more curious, and Emmett happy to see me happy. Alice wanted all the details
and was thrilled that it had gone so well. Jasper looked stunned when he realized that I
had kissed her and become so comfortable around her that I could bear to kiss her throat.
Emmett laughed; he had always been supremely confident that my enhanced vampire
abilities would be no match for the willpower of a human girl, and I was ecstatic to find
myself in the position of being nearly as confident as he was; Bella loved me after less

than a week’s worth of conversations and two dates (if dinner in Port Angeles counted as
a date).

           Carlisle and Esme were also happy for me and happy that this initial
experimentation had been so successful. Rosalie kept to herself; she knew that she was
being petulant but was unable to help herself. The question now became what would we
do next? What did Bella and I do? If we were going to date publicly, it would mean me
getting to know Charlie but also Bella getting to know my family. I had no problem with
Charlie; I knew I posed no threat to him. My family, on the other hand, was different.
Most of us were practiced enough that Bella wouldn’t be in physical danger around us.
Jasper was the least practiced, and he agreed to maintain a distance from Bella. Rosalie
won’t be tempted by Bella—just sullen and unwelcoming. Alice assured us that Bella
visiting would be fine, so it was agreed that I would ask Bella over to meet my family. I
changed my clothes, returned to Bella’s room, and waited sitting in her rocking chair for
her to wake up.

           She murmured in her sleep and rolled over. I thought she might go back to sleep,
but then her heart beat accelerated and her head flew up as she looked around the room.
Her wide eyes met mine, and I had to smile at the radiant smile that spread across her
face. She called my name and bounded into my lap. Her reaction was better than I could
have imagined; I was thrilled that she was so happy I had stayed the night. She asked
about Charlie, and then excused herself to the bathroom while I waited. When she
returned to my lap, I listened to her heart race, before she noticed that my clothes were
changed. I assured her that I didn’t miss anything when I left, and she asked me what she
had said in her sleep. I told her that she had said that she loved me and that I found it
nice to hear; she whispered it again, and I told her, “You are my life now.”

           Remembering that she would be hungry after the long night, I suggested
breakfast. She made a poor joke of looking like I was suggesting biting her for breakfast,
but that wasn’t the kind of appetite that I wanted to sate most when I looked at Bella now.
I picked her up and gently threw her over my shoulder. She protested, but I ignored her.

I sat her in one of the kitchen chairs, and she asked me what was for breakfast. That
threw me; I had no idea what to do with human food. She joked about her hunting
abilities and got a bowl of cereal.

       She asked about our plans for the day, and I watched her carefully as I suggested
that I take her to my house to meet my family. She looked shocked. I asked if she was
scared, and she said that she was. What surprised me was that she wasn’t afraid of them
as vampires, she was afraid that they wouldn’t like her. She wanted to know if they knew
about her, and I explained that we didn’t have secrets in my family—my mind reading
and Alice’s seeing the future made it futile. She asked if Alice had seen her coming, and
I struggled to hide my expression as quickly as I could. Yes, Alice had seen her coming,
but I didn’t want Bella to know that Alice had seen her as an immortal, as one of us. I
changed the subject, and then suggested that she introduce me to Charlie as her
boyfriend. She hesitated. I thought I understood why. Though my family knew about us
and our classmates at school saw us together, Charlie had no idea that his daughter was
involved with any boy. Bella had pointedly told her father that she wasn’t interested in
any boy in town only the night before. Charlie didn’t have any lead time to get used to
the idea and hadn’t seen any indication of a relationship beginning.

       It left me staggered to realize that she wasn’t even sure of it herself. The day
before we had declared ourselves to each other, and she had confessed that she loved me
both unconsciously and consciously, and she was afraid to the make the presumption that
I was her boyfriend; she told me I didn’t need to pretend. Her insecurity was delightfully
pleasurable. She didn’t understand; now that I was sure I could be around her so
intimately, I wanted to be around her as much as possible. She seemed genuinely
surprised when I suggested that I would be spending my time with her, now, more than
just at school and that included here at her house. “Will you be?” she asked; the anxiety
in her voice was reassuring to me. I told her I would be here as long as she wanted me,
and she told me she would want me “forever.” I hid my emotions from her; I was both
pained and overjoyed.

       I asked if she was finished her breakfast and told her I would wait while she got
dressed. I was pleased to see how overly eager she was to return to me. I pulled her into
my arms and tried to explain how tempting she was to me. Her breathing became more
erratic, and she inhaled my scent greedily as I bent down to kiss her. I had prepared
myself in case she responded the way she had done yesterday, but this time, she fainted in
my arms; she had forgotten to breathe. I worried that she was in no condition to go out,
but she insisted she was fine, just intimidated about meeting my family. I complimented
her by telling her that the color of her shirt looked beautiful against her skin and watched
her blush at my words and attention. It made me chuckle to think she was more worried
about what my family members would think of her than the fact that she would be
surrounded by vampires.

       I was curious about what she would think of the house and my family. She was
quiet on the way to my house, absorbed in her own thoughts. She was nervous and self-
conscious as we walked toward the house. I tried to assure her by complimenting her
again and taking her hand in mine. I opened the door and held it for her. Carlisle and
Esme were waiting for us, and Alice and Jasper joined them shortly afterward. It went
well, to my intense relief. Bella had shaken off her insecurity and was genuinely glad to
meet my father and mother. Alice had surprised us all with her familiarity toward Bella,
but Jasper had eased the situation, and Bella felt comfortable with them and in the house.
Bella and Esme ganged up on me and had me play the piano for Bella. I played Esme’s
favorite and the lullaby I had written for Bella. She told me she felt insignificant in
comparison to me, and it made me hope that she would deny me nothing, even herself.
My family left us alone, and Bella asked about Rosalie and her absence. I tried to explain
that Rosalie was jealous, that she wanted to be human like Bella was.

       Everyone else was happy for me. When Bella commented on Alice’s enthusiastic
greeting, I stiffened. She noticed, and I knew that she knew I was keeping something
about Alice from her. Then she asked about what Carlisle had been trying to tell me
when we first arrived. I explained that Alice had seen other vampires in the area;
vampires who would know we were here and might be curious about us and the way we

lived. Since they drank human blood, I would be being rather overprotective of her. She
did seem to understand the danger.

       After I finished playing her lullaby, I asked her if she wanted to see the rest of the
house. As we walked, I told her parts of Carlisle’s story and then my own. I waited for
something I said to be too much for her; she saw it on my face and asked me about my
concern. When I told her, she assured me she wasn’t going anywhere. I wanted to
protect her, and I wanted to be with her. I didn’t know how to do both.

       I showed her my room. As she looked through my music, I realized that it
pleased me that I could tell her so much about me and my family and the way we lived.
Again, she saw it on my face and asked about it; she also guessed that I was waiting for
her to be scared of us, and she lied, saying that she didn’t find me terrifying at all. Up for
the challenge, I pounced on her, protecting her in the circle of my arms, but sailing across
the room on to the couch. My attack left her breathless, and she admitted that I was
scary. While she was locked in my arms, Alice and Jasper came to the door. A
thunderstorm was approaching that evening, and Alice and Jasper were attempting to
organize a baseball game. Alice said that Bella could come, and she agreed to come.

       I took Bella home, so that she could eat and prepare Charlie to meet me. As we
neared her house, I could sense Billy and Jacob Black as they waited for Bella or Charlie
on the porch. Billy Black was prepared to tell Charlie about us; how Charlie would take
Quileute superstition about real vampires, I didn’t know, but I was furious. Bella noticed.
She realized what was happening immediately when she saw them waiting. She asked to
handle it, and I agreed. I did not want a confrontation with Billy Black. I also couldn’t
help goading Billy, so I smiled at Bella and leaned over to kiss her throat. I suppressed a
smile of satisfaction as I heard the revulsion and indignation in Billy Black’s thoughts as
he watched me, a Cullen, a vampire, kissing Bella, his friend’s daughter, on her throat. I
promised Bella I would return soon, and I watched her run to the porch and take them
into the house.

        About an hour later, I returned to Bella’s house to meet her father and pick her up
for the game. Charlie was fine; he laughed at the idea of Bella watching the game and
then made me promise to take care of his daughter. I promised easily. I had Emmett’s
jeep because I guessed Bella would want to limit her time running with me in the forest
after our last experience. I was right. She blanched at the idea of running with me again.
I told her to keep her eyes closed. She continued to hesitate; she didn’t want to do it
again. We drove as far as we could, and then I helped her out of the jeep. I
complimented her bravery this morning with my family, but she still didn’t want to run
with me.

        I knew that I had power over her, but now I decided to test just how strong that
power was. I told her that I would “tamper with her memory” but what I really meant
was that I would tamper with her will. I placed my arms on either side of her, pinning
her to the jeep. I breathed into her face and began asking what she was worried about.
Between my eyes and my breathe, she was woozy. I tried not to smile as I kissed the
base of her throat and moved my lips up her throat to her chin and then up her jaw line
down her cheek and then to her lips. Her heart sputtered erratically, and her breathing
became shallow. Her protests became less coherent as I kissed her until she surrendered
to my will absolutely. I took her face in my hands and prepared to kiss her. I hoped she
wouldn’t faint again, but she reacted like she had the first time. She threw herself into
the kiss with such passion that I had to break it off. My control was badly shaken, and I
struggled to recover. We both struggled to recover from the shocking passion we both

        It surprised me that my sexual passion for Bella was so closely tied to my violent
passion for her blood; loss of control sexually seemed to constitute a complete lack of
control including my ability to restrain from the temptation of her blood. With her
unconscious, I could satisfy my sexual desires for her from a distance, but with her
conscious and active participation, my desires spiraled out of control—sexual desire
spreading to all my desires for her. Her desire and reactions were beyond my control,

and those coupled with my barely contained desires completely overwhelmed me. I felt
vulnerable. Bella unhinged everything I knew about myself.

       I took her in my arms and threw her gently into place on my back. I reminded her
to close her eyes, and we were off. When we arrived, I told her. I had forgotten that I
helped her off my back the last time, so I was as unprepared for her dismount as was she.
She fell to the ground, and it surprised me so much that I laughed at her. I instantly
regretted it. She was furious and stomped away from me. I pulled her back easily, but
she kept trying to get away from me. Finally, I held her tightly in my arms. I tried to
explain to her that I wasn’t mad at her; I was mad at myself. I put her in danger from me,
from my longing for her blood and my tenuous control of my desires. I told her that I
should be strong enough to leave her, but she pleaded with me. She wanted me and
didn’t want me to go—even though I threatened her life. I told her that I loved her, and
listened to her heart race at my words. I told her to be still, and I kissed her again. She
held properly still this time. It wasn’t as wonderful as the passion-filled, reckless kisses,
but it was good, and it was safe.

       I walked Bella over to Esme and ran to take my position in the outfield. I threw
myself into the game; it was fun to really let go. We were all enjoying ourselves. Bella
watched us wide-eyed. I flashed over to her and asked her what she thought of the game.
She said she would never watch regular baseball the same way again and voiced her
irritation that I could do everything so much better than other people. I smiled at her and
listened to her breathing change under the force of my eyes and then returned to the
game. Alice gasped, and I looked at her. The images in her head revealed that the other
vampires had heard us; they were coming. I was horrified. Bella was here. I had
exposed her to danger. It was too late to get her out of here. We would have to meet
them and hope to keep the situation peaceful. Carlisle agreed; we would let them come
and hope to hide Bella or at least defend her from them; there were seven of us and only
three of them. We nearly managed to pass off Bella as one of us, until the wind shifted,
and James caught Bella’s scent and crouched into a hunting stance. I mirrored his actions
and growled at him fiercely. Laurent reacted with surprise, and Carlisle explained that

Bella was with us. Laurent was stunned but wanted to avoid a confrontation, so he
placated us and urged James and Victoria to withdrawal with him. They seemed to
comply, but I could hear James’ thoughts. Laurent wasn’t really the leader, James was; it
was James’ coven. He wanted Bella, and he would not be thwarted. James thought of
himself as a tracker, and my family protecting Bella presented the most extraordinary
challenge to him.

       As they withdrew, Alice and Emmett helped me defend Bella and get her back to
the jeep. I just started to drive. Bella didn’t understand at first. When she realized the
danger and that I was intending to take her as far away from Forks as possible, she began
to protest. She didn’t want to endanger my family, whether from the FBI or from the
other vampires. She came up with a plan: to stage her departure from Forks so Charlie
would understand that she left of her own power and not involve law enforcement. It
would also to protect Charlie from James who would begin his hunt where Bella’s scent
was strongest, her house; further by naming Phoenix as her destination, she hoped to
mask it as her actual destination since James would assume Phoenix was a lie. Lastly, we
were to separate; Alice and Jasper would take Bella to Phoenix, and the rest of us would
watch Charlie and hunt James. I didn’t like it; I hated the idea of being separated from
Bella, especially when she was in danger, when I had put her in danger. But Emmett was
right, if Bella were near me while I hunted James, I would be distracted. I would care
more about protecting her than focusing on James. And I wanted James. I wanted to rip
him to pieces myself for thinking of threatening Bella, of wanting her. The rage I felt
toward James, made the pain of separating from Bella almost possible.

       Bella did well at her father’s. Charlie was wounded by Bella’s harsh words, but
he let her go. I took over the driving as soon as her truck was out of sight of the house—
forcing Bella into the middle of wide bench seat. Alice and Emmett joined us. I tried to
explain to Bella that the only danger was to her, not to us. We met the others at home.
Laurent was there; he had come to warn us about James. I had Esme change clothes with
Bella, so we could leave a false trail for James. Then, everyone was ready, and it was
time to go. I didn’t know if I could bear it, to let her go. There in the garage, in front of

my family, I pressed Bella to my body and kissed her hard on the mouth and turned
away. That kiss and her scent which lingered in my nostrils would have to sustain me
through the separation.

       Emmett, Carlisle, and I hunted James. He figured out that I could read him and
was careful to keep just far enough away so that I couldn’t. He was tricky; he got
Victoria to scout around the town too, and then we lost him. Alice said that his vision
had changed, and the change would take him to a room of mirrors. I talked to Bella on
the phone. The relief in hearing her voice was immense. I tried to reassure her. I told
her I would make her safe and that I loved her. We flew back to Forks; we thought James
had returned to Forks, but he wasn’t in Forks. It was time to regroup. We would meet
Bella and Alice and Jasper in Phoenix, and then Emmett, Carlisle, and I would hide
Bella. I felt like I couldn’t get to Phoenix fast enough. I ached to see her again, to hold
her in my arms. My anxiety was so great that Emmett and Carlisle finally stopped trying
to calm me down and just let me stew.

       When we got off the plane, Alice and Jasper met us with guilt and horror mingled
in their expressions. I read the images in Alice’s mind before she could choke out her
apologies. Alice had a vision of Bella dead in the room of mirrors. Bella had gotten a
phone call from what appeared to be her mom. Bella had given Jasper the slip; she had
left a note for me which indicated that James had Bella’s mom and that she had gone to
meet him. Alice knew where the room of mirrors was. My horror and rage were nearly
overwhelming; I flew into action. I had to get there in time; she could not die. We stole
a car and raced to Cactus Street.

       I tried not imagine what James would do to her, to my Bella. He was doing this to
get to me. He wanted my vengeance. It was grotesque. He couldn’t just come straight at
me. He had to hurt her to make me wild with wrath and hatred, and I would be if he hurt
her. Of course he was going to hurt her, that was part of the game for him. Would he
dare to do more? I couldn’t even imagine him touching her. I felt blinded by my rage.

I tried not to think about her dead. What would I do if we were too late? How could I go
on without her? She had become my life, my whole reason for being. I couldn’t go on; I
wouldn’t go on, not without her. But how to die—none of my family would help me.
The Volturi could. But I had to find her alive. Bella, my Bella.

       I got there first. Bella was lying crumpled and bleeding on the floor with James
standing over her. I lunged at him with all my fury, snarling and growling the whole
time. He was away from her, and I attacked him again. Then, Emmett and Jasper took
over. With fierce regret, I let them; I knew Bella needed me. Carlisle examined her: her
leg was broken as were some ribs and she was bleeding from a head wound. Carlisle
gave her morphine and started to work on her head. Bella screamed that her hand was
burning, and I realized with horror that James had bitten her. Carlisle thought it was
possible for the venom to be sucked out so that Bella could be spared vampire
transformation. I would need to do it. I blanched. I would have to drink enough of her
blood to get the venom out and then stop before I killed her. I wasn’t sure I could. What
if I couldn’t? What if I killed her? But life without Bella was unimaginable to me.

       I steeled myself to the deed. Carlisle and Alice both kept Bella pinned down, and
I put my lips to the wound on her hand and drank her blood. It was like nothing I could
have imagined. Even better than I imagined, so floral, so sweet, so satisfying. It was like
every nerve ending in my body tingled. The ecstasy of her scent and her blood was
dizzying; that was it. I was disoriented, out of control. The thought of being out of
control with Bella snapped something in my head. Control returned; the venom was
nearly out; her blood was nearly clean; I had to stop. I pulled my mouth away from her
hand. Her writhing had stopped; she was pale from blood loss, but she was alive and
breathing. I stroked her face. Carlisle patted me on the back. Bella called my name and
asked me to stay with her. I promised that I would. We asked about her mother, and she
explained weakly that James had tricked her; I countered that James had tricked us all.
As Emmett and Jasper set the fire to destroy James, I carefully picked Bella up and
carried her outside.

        Carlisle and I took Bella to the hospital in a taxi-cab while the others went back to
the hotel, and Alice set to work on an alibi for Bella’s injuries. Alice called Charlie and
Bella’s mother, Renee, and explained that Bella had tripped down two flights of stairs
and been seriously hurt. Renee flew home from Florida to take care of Bella. I hardly
ever left Bella’s room. I talked a little with Renee. I was so anxious about Bella that I
was not as careful around Renee as I should have been. I realized with chagrin that
Renee as both curious and wary of me. I put more effort into feigning naps and waiting
to be alone with Bella. When we were alone, I would hold her hand or stroke her face. It
was hard to have physical space between us. Sometimes she mumbled in her sleep. She
called my name several times, and I was so relieved that she was still thinking of me,
dreaming of me, after the danger that I had put her in and the injuries she had received. I
felt so guilty.

        On Friday, after three days, Bella retained consciousness. I was the first thing she
saw. I answered her questions and assured her that Alice’s alibi was very convincing.
Renee returned to Bella’s room, and I feigned another nap. Renee questioned Bella about
her and me. She told Bella about Phil being signed to a Florida baseball team and the
little house they had bought in Jacksonville where they could all be together. Sadness
and grief coursed through me. Of course, Bella would want Florida away from the cold
and damp of Forks, and she would be safer, away from me. She surprised me by arguing
with her mom, telling her firmly that she lived in Forks. I felt high; she would stay with
me. Renee wasn’t fooled by Bella’s assertions that school and friends and Charlie were
the reasons we wanted to stay in Forks. She asked Bella about me; Renee understood all
too clearly that I was obsessed with Bella, but Bella put her off and downplayed our

        After Renee left, I raised the prospect of Bella moving to Florida with her. She
became alarmed. The idea of the two of us being separated caused her emotional trauma.
It didn’t matter that James had nearly killed her or that I was all wrong for her; she still
saw me as her savior, and to her, James was simply another example of me saving her
life. And then she wanted to know why I had stopped the venom from spreading, and I

realized that Alice had told Bella about vampire conversion. I was beyond anger; Alice
would pay for this. Bella wanted to be a vampire; she wanted to be like me. But I
couldn’t do that to her. I wouldn’t let it happen to her. She didn’t understand. She
couldn’t be trusted to make that choice. We argued about it back and forth; neither one
of us backed down from his/her position. Suddenly, she realized that Alice had seen her
as a vampire, and it only seemed to confirm her desire to become one of us. But Alice’s
visions change and she can make mistakes, I reminded her. I ended the conversation. I
called the nurse for more pain medicine over Bella’s furious protests. She begged me to
stay with her always, and I promised but I qualified it—as long as “it made her happy,”
as long as it was “what was best.”

       Though I knew that Bella hated surprises and wasn’t comfortable with dancing, I
got her to agree to allow me to take her out for a surprise evening. I thought she would
figure out where we were going easily. Posters all over school advertised the junior
prom. Bella was suspicious but apparently clueless as to where I was taking her. I had
had Alice dress Bella up, and she looked stunning even with one leg in a cast. The blue
dress highlighted the rose tones in her skin so beautifully. She finally got it when Charlie
called and put Tyler Crowley on the phone with me. Tyler told people he was taking
Bella to the prom though he failed to confirm the date with Bella, and the evidence of
Tyler being at Bella’s house to pick her up, finally clued Bella into the idea of the prom.
She was instantly furious with me. I told her not to be difficult, and then I turned the full
force of my eyes on her, and she gave in to me.

       When we were inside the gym, I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her onto
the dance floor. Gently, I lifted her up so that her feet rested on the tops of mine, like a
child, and then we were dancing. After a while, she begrudgingly admitted that it wasn’t
so bad, dancing with me. It made me smile. And then suddenly, I could hear Jacob
Black’s thoughts. Billy had sent him to talk to Bella, to warn her to stay away from me.
I was angry and jealous and outraged that Billy kept going out of his way to try to keep
me away from Bella, and I was startled to read the attraction that Jacob felt for Bella. He
liked her very much; he felt a kind of obsessiveness about her that I understood only too

well. Bella noticed me stiffen and caught sight of Jacob. She understood at once and
told me to be nice. I allowed Jacob to cut in and waited for Bella.

       As soon as their conversation began to close, I was there, ready to take Bella back
in my arms again. I startled Jacob, and he made his exit awkwardly. Bella asked me why
I had forced her to come to the prom, and I spun her across the dance floor and outdoors
where we could be alone. When we were out of view of most of our classmates, I cradled
her in my arms and carried to a bench. I tried to explain that I shouldn’t exist and that I
wouldn’t stop her from having a human life. The prom was part of normal human life for
most American kids, so we were at the prom. She argued with me that she never would
have come to the prom of her own free will, and I countered by quoting her saying it
wasn’t so bad. I made her promise to tell me something, and when she did, I asked her
where she thought I was taking her.

       I was horrified to hear that she had hoped that I was dressing her up to bite her, to
change her into a vampire. After the initial shock, I decided to treat it as a joke. I would
not change her; again we argued on this point (her desire for it and my opposition to it).
We let it drop, as I assured her that her love for me was enough for me forever, and we
kissed on the bench on the darkening grounds of Forks High School at the prom. Yes, I
would decide for her. I would keep her human. I would protect her; she was mine as I
was hers.

       After the prom, my days flowed into an easy and blissful rhythm. At first, there
was school, and after school was over for the year, Bella got a job at Newton’s Olympic
Outfitters. So there was my time with Bella and my time waiting to be with Bella. I
hated being away from her, but our reunions were so pleasantly satisfying that it almost
made up for the absences. She absolutely thrilled to see me again. Her whole face would
light up and her breathing and heart rate would become uneven.

       I was such a steady feature of Bella’s home life that Charlie eased up on me. He
had held me responsible for Bella’s leaving Forks last spring and for her accident in

Phoenix though he had no idea how responsible I actually was. I was glad he eased up. I
knew that it made Bella uncomfortable when he was gruff or rude to me. Bella was a
regular part of my home life too. Rosalie was still cold and reserved toward her, but
everyone else accepted Bella completely, and they were happy for me. Almost as happy
for me as I was, as Bella made me feel.

       She loved me so, and I knew that. Most times, she would refuse me nothing
especially when I cheated and used my powers on her—my eyes, my voice, my breath.
But she flexed her independence from me on certain issues. She stubbornly refused to let
me spend money on her. I wanted to buy her things and take her places. To be honest, I
wanted control over what she had and where she went—complete control—and her
dependence on my money would have given me that. But I could be realistic too. If she
ever realized how much I controlled and manipulated her, it might scare her. So she
could have her illusions. Her restrictions on the money I could spend on her gave her a
sense of control, and I could live with that for now.

       My sexual desires for Bella had not diminished, and her desires for me were
fiercer than ever, but I was insistent on the frequent nights we spent together that our
kissing and physical touching were limited. When Bella was an active participant in our
sexual contact, her lack of control and eagerness for more intimate contact threatened all
my control. She complained, but I was insistent. When she was unconscious at night, I
was able to satisfy some of my intense desire for her sexually. As she would murmur my
name or speak of her love for me in her sleep, I would fantasize about her, about us,
about being intimate. I frequently masturbated over her unconscious body, and I often
touched her and stroked her skin and her hair while she slept. Sometimes she seemed to
be having erotic dreams about us, and she would moan in her sleep and her hands would
trace over her body, caressing her breasts and tracing down her stomach to her thighs. At
such times, she would be nearly at the point of waking and then drift back into a deeper
sleep. Those dreams made me nearly wild with desire, and I found it difficult to contain
myself with mere masturbation.

       School started. Only Alice and I were left at school, senior year. Rosalie and
Emmett and Jasper were supposed to be at college, Dartmouth. With a little orchestrated
manipulation of the secretarial staff, Bella and I were in almost every class together. The
start of school meant that Bella’s birthday was approaching, and I knew she dreaded it.
She didn’t want to be older than I was. Her fears were irrational as I tried to explain, but
she was stubborn. Though I knew she hated attention, surprises, and presents, my family
and I planned to celebrate her birthday. Rose, Emmett, and Jasper were even returning
home for it.

       The day of Bella’s birthday arrived. Charlie and Renee had coordinated to get
Bella a camera and scrapbook to document her senior year. Alice and I met her in the
parking lot before school. Alice wished her a happy birthday, and Bella shushed her to
silence. I held out my hand to her and looked down into her eyes; she smiled up at me in
that way that never ceased to amaze me, and I listened to her heart and breathing as she
reacted to my touch. After I confirmed that she didn’t want me to wish her a happy
birthday, Alice asked Bella what time she would be over at our house for birthday
festivities. When Bella objected, we essentially said she didn’t have a choice.

       After school, I rode home with Bella, and we watched Romeo and Juliet. I
watched Bella cry over the star-crossed lovers and reflected on the ease of human suicide.
My reflections caught her attention, and she demanded to know what I meant. I told her
that I had decided I would not live in a world where she did not and that last spring, when
James had lured her to the ballet studio and I had raced to find her alive, that I had
contemplated suicide. She was alarmed, but I assured her that I would never put her in
danger again, so we could drop the whole suicide discussion.

       Charlie brought home pizza, so Bella didn’t need to cook. After they ate, I asked
Charlie if it was okay to take Bella out. He was happy to have her enjoy herself and
insisted on Bella taking her camera, his birthday gift. She snapped a picture of me before
we left. When we got close to the house, I could feel her tension and tried to reassure
her. Alice had outdone herself—bowls of roses everywhere, even outside the house on

steps of the porch. My family members sang happy birthday as we walked in the door. I
put my arm around her and kissed her hair hoping these actions would encourage her.
Bella’s first gift was a car stereo which Emmett installed as she opened the wrapping
paper of the emptied box. Bella went to mine next after confirming that I hadn’t spent
money on it, but as she did so, the edge of the insignificant wrapping paper cut in to the
skin on her finger fractionally, and a tiny drop of blood weld from the cut.

       I yelled, “NO!” threw Bella out of the way, and crashed into Jasper who was
lunging at Bella. The smell of the single drop of Bella’s blood was suddenly
compounded by a heavier scent. Bella must have cut herself on whatever I threw her
on—glass, I realized, as I thought back on what I had heard. As I struggled with Jasper,
Emmett pulled Jasper from behind, and Carlisle ordered Rose and Emmett to get Jasper
outside. Esme followed. I tried to stay to help, but both Alice and I had to leave. The
smell of Bella’s blood was too much for all of us except Carlisle. I felt horrible, sick.
This situation was the worst scenario I could imagine. I had put Bella in peril again—not
from a rogue, human-hunting vampire but from one of my own family members. I tallied
the threats against her. I had nearly killed her the first day we met. Tyler nearly killed
her. The men in Port Angeles would have hurt her or worse. James, from my world, had
tried to kill her, and now Jasper, again from my world, had tried to kill her. Three out of
the five threats sprung from me and my world. It was too much.

       I had deluded myself into thinking that this relationship was possible. Alice’s
vision must have been flawed. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be responsible for Bella’s death. I
knew at that moment that we had to leave. I had to get away from Bella for her own
protection. It felt like torture—searing pain, too much to bear. I steeled myself. I had to
hide it from her. She would fight me if she knew. I tried to comfort Jasper, and when I
knew Carlisle was done with Bella’s arm, I re-entered the house.

       Alice got Bella a clean shirt of roughly the same color blue and gathered together
Bella’s gifts to take home. I drove Bella home; I was upset. She knew that, but I kept
my plans hidden and my emotions mostly under control. My anger leaked through the

surface when she tried to take the blame for the accident. I yelled at her. I told her that
with normal people, human people, a paper cut wouldn’t be a life-threatening incident,
and she fought me by telling me she would rather die than be without me. I dismissed
her threat. I would protect her at any cost—even the cost to myself.

        At her house, she begged me to stay, and I relented. In the few days it would take
us to prepare to move, I would spend as much of that time with her as I could bear.
Alone with her in her room, we sat together on her bed. She went to open the rest of her
gifts, but I refused to take any further chances with her. I took the wrapping paper off
each of her gifts instead of allowing her to open them. Carlisle and Esme had given her
two airline tickets (one for her and one for me) to Florida; Bella liked the idea of us
visiting her mother, and my gift, the CD of my compositions, brought tears to her
beautiful eyes. I didn’t know where I would find the strength to leave her, but I knew I
had to find it. After she winced from the pain in her arm, I flew through the house to get
pain reliever for her arm and forced her to take the pills. When I kissed her goodnight,
my control slipped. I kissed her fiercely knowing that this was one of the few I had left.
My breathing was just as jagged as hers when I finally broke away from her. She
encouraged me to kiss her again, but I told her to sleep and held her in my arms as she
drifted off to sleep.

        During the night I thought about all the ways I was wrong for and menacing
toward her. They were overwhelming. Of course, they were. I had always known that.
Only Alice’s vision had given me a reason to hope it could be otherwise. That’s why I
couldn’t keep the hint of sorrow, grief, from Bella’s lullaby. It had to end. Some part of
me always knew that. Alice’s visions could be wrong. She had seen Bella dead in the
ballet studio, but that hadn’t happened. The other vision must be wrong too.

        When Bella woke in the morning, I kissed her and left. At home, I told my family
how I felt and why we needed to leave. Only Alice fought with me. Impossibly, she
believed in her original vision of Bella in my life, of Bella in our lives. She wasn’t
swayed by the inaccuracy of the vision of Bella dead. She argued that I wasn’t taking

Bella’s choices into account. I knew I was ignoring Bella’s choices, but I was choosing
what was best for her. That had to matter. I would protect her despite what she wanted
or what I wanted. The bottom line was that Bella was human. Humans and vampires
didn’t mix in non-predatory circumstances. Our whole world was predicated on that
point, and I had violated that. I had risked her life over and over again. Risked exposing
myself, my family, and my world. We had to leave. But Alice countered my arguments;
she argued that if I turned Bella into a vampire—there would be no threat—no threat to
Bella, no threat to us and our world. She reminded me that this was what Bella wanted,
but I couldn’t do that. Not to Bella. I wouldn’t take her life away or condemn her soul.
Because I wouldn’t allow the conversion, I convinced them that it was time to go.

        Carlisle agreed and went to make the arrangements at the hospital. Rose, Emmett,
and Esme worked at packing up the house and making arrangements for us elsewhere.
Alice went with Jasper to try to convince him to spend time with Tanya’s family. I went
off to school and pretended everything was normal. It would only take a few days to get
everything ready.

        My emotions were difficult to contain. I felt so much grief and longing every
time I looked at Bella—it was beyond pain. I also felt such powerful revulsion and self-
loathing for the risks I had imposed on her and the pain I would cause her by
disappearing. I withheld my feelings as well as I could. I knew she noticed. I didn’t talk
much, but I did try to answer her questions. She went to work after school, and I was
waiting for her with Charlie when she got home. I was watching a game with Charlie
when she walked in the door. I stubbornly watched the game with Charlie. I knew Bella
wanted to speak to me desperately, but I ignored her. I had to do the right thing. Perhaps
she sensed what was coming. She was seized with a desire to take pictures, and she ran
through the house snapping pictures including ones of me and her father; Charlie took a
picture of the two of us. I knew I would have to reclaim the pictures—but I would do
that later with the rest of our things. I needed to remove all traces of us in her life to
make her “move on” and return to a completely human life with human friends and … (I
forced myself to think it) … human … boyfriends.

       Bella walked me to the door and asked me to stay. I told her I couldn’t. I saw
how her face fell. It pained me so much to cause her pain, but I had no choice; I would
protect her. I was even more distant and withdrawn from Bella the next day. I felt
horrible and guilty about it, but I didn’t have any choice. I could barely stand to look at
her—knowing this was the end. I walked her to her truck. I didn’t go over that night,
and the guilt and pain I felt were crushing.

       We were ready. My family left in the morning, and I would join them after I told
Bella good-bye. After school that day, I waited for her in the parking lot. I asked Bella if
I could come over. The anxiety and pain in her face were heartbreaking. When I met her
at her house, I took her hand and asked her to take a walk with me. She hesitated but
followed reluctantly.

       Once we were in the forest, she demanded to know what was going on. I told her
we were leaving. She realized that my references to “we” did not include her. I told her
it wasn’t right for her to come with us. She didn’t belong. I wasn’t good for her. I didn’t
want her anymore. That did it; I could see that she believed that I didn’t want her—as if
that were possible. I had prepared myself for this. I kept my face cool and detached.
She had to believe this—but the pain on her face echoed my own. I felt like I would
rather die than be without her.

       Some of it, I couldn’t say to her face, so I stared into the forest and continued the
lies. She pleaded with me. I could feel her distress. I asked her to promise to take care
of herself, to avoid anything “reckless or stupid”—for Charlie. She promised, and I
vowed that I would not return—that it would be like I never existed. I felt her heart rate
accelerate. “We won’t bother you again,” I told her. Her distress increased; more pain
flashed across her face. Her breathing became erratic. I murmured my good-byes and
kissed her forehead for a moment, and then I flew from her. Leaving her just on the trail
by her house. Safe.

       I ran from her and circled back to her house. I left a note for Charlie in a passable
imitation of Bella’s handwriting, telling him where to find her, just in case. Then I took
the things that would remind her of me—the photographs of me, of us, the CD of my
music, the plane tickets. Though I knew I should destroy them—I couldn’t. I wanted to
leave something with her—even if hidden, so I pulled up her flooring very carefully and
hid her things there. Then I left to rejoin my family.

       Though the cover story was that we had moved to Los Angeles, Carlisle and
Esme moved to Ithaca, New York. Jasper was attending Cornell, and Carlisle taught
some classes there. Emmett and Rosalie did some traveling. At first, I tried to stay with
Esme and Carlisle, but I was miserable. I felt wretched. I knew I had hurt Bella, and
though I knew it was for her own good, her pain and my pain at being away from her,
paralyzed me. I hid in my room. I was morose and gloomy. I made Esme frantic with
worry. Emmett tried to distract me and pull me out of my misery when he called or
visited, but I wouldn’t let him. There seemed no escape from it. I imaged her face, her
scent, her touch. The ache and longing for her consumed me. I knew I was driving my
family crazy, so I left them. I tried tracking Victoria. It was surprisingly harder than I
thought. It caused me pain to think how Bella would have enjoyed that—seeing me
struggle with something I wasn’t good at.

       I tracked Victoria to Texas, and then followed her trail to South America. In
between tracking activities, I would hold up in a hotel room and let myself wallow in
misery. Would it ever decrease? Could I stand to live like this? The only thing that gave
me any comfort was thinking that Bella would move on, that she would continue her life
and be safe without me. I heard from my family now and again. They called me every
so often. Esme and Carlisle pleaded for me to return to Ithaca, but I knew I would only
worry them if they saw just how devastated I was. Emmett and Alice both tried hard to
cheer me up and get me to visit. Alice even suggested that I abandon this course of
action which clearly caused me so much pain. She suggested we could some how find a
way to both keep Bella safe and have her in our lives. But I wouldn’t entertain her
suggestions. Weeks and months dragged by. I got no closer to Victoria, and I felt no

relief or easing of my absolute misery. I was desperate and miserable and alone. My life
was barely worth living. I felt hollow and empty. All my happiness and joy seemed
stripped from me and were there underneath the floorboards of Bella’s room. And there
was further pain in knowing that Bella didn’t know I was suffering; she had thought I
didn’t want her any more, so my pain seemed to serve no purpose. And yet it did, it kept
me away from Bella, from her world.

       It was March, and I received an unexpected phone call from Rosalie. I listened in
horror as she told me that Alice had had a vision. In the vision, Alice had seen Bella
jumping off a cliff into the ocean and that Bella hadn’t come to the surface of the water.
She had drowned; she had killed herself. The world seemed to go black. I felt like I was
suffocating. Though I didn’t breath air like a human—draw oxygen out of the air and
into my blood to keep me alive—this sense of suffocation was like the weight of all the
emotions I felt cutting off reason, cutting off any sense of self-preservation. Bella had
been everything to me, my light, my reason for being, my star. Separating myself from
her had been unendurable. But the idea that our separation (despite my pain and her
pain) was making her safe allowed me to suffer through it. Now there was nothing. A
black void of desolation from which there was no recourse.

       I didn’t even realize what I was doing. I found myself walking the streets
aimlessly. I realized I still had my phone in my hand, and I threw it into the nearest trash
can I saw. I didn’t know how long I had been wandering. I returned to my hotel room. I
could barely process what Rosalie had told me. I couldn’t imagine a world without Bella.
Suicide! Had I driven Bella to this? I was so sickened that I sank to the floor of my
room. I was so monstrous. What had I done? I had actually lost her. Not because I had
killed her or because another vampire had killed her, but because I had left her. I had to
check. I had to find some way to know if this was true. I couldn’t trust Alice. If she
knew I knew Bella was dead, she would see my course of action and try to alter it. And I
knew what I would do, if Bella was really dead, I would go to the Volturi. My life was
unbearable. It had been desperate and full of misery over the past seven months because

I had been separated from her, and yet she was alive and healing, or so I thought. Now,
she was no longer, and I was responsible. There was no reason to go on. I wanted to die.

       If she was dead, Charlie would know. I used the hotel phone to call the house.
Someone answered; not just someone, Jacob Black answered; I recognized his voice. He
seemed to recognize mine too because his tone became harsh. I asked for Charlie, and he
told me that Charlie wasn’t there. I asked where Charlie was, and he answered that
Charlie was at the funeral. I felt weak and cold. It was true. I lied; I said that I was
Carlisle and hung up the phone. I made my way to the airport. I bought tickets for
Florence and began my journey. I was barely aware of the people around me—I felt so
terrible. I just wanted it all to end—the pain, the guilt, the torment, the agony.

       In Florence, I stole a car and drove to Volterra. I was brought to see Aro, Caius,
and Marcus. I made my request. I asked them to kill me. Aro was particularly troubled
by my request. He felt that killing me would be a waste. He asked me to consider
joining them, becoming one of the Volturi, but I told him that I just wanted death and the
peace from the pain I hoped would accompany it. He asked to read my mind, and I let
him. Perhaps the depth of my pain would persuade him to grant my request. He found
my experiences fascinating. As he read my mind, I read his reactions, and I became
worried. He was too interested in Alice. Had I threatened Alice now too? He wouldn’t
grant my request, and I knew that he knew, after reading my mind, that I had other ideas
about forcing the hands of the Volturi or giving them no alternative but to kill me. I took
my leave and pondered what would be the most effective way to get what I wanted.

       I had many ideas—some more desperate than others. I decided on walking out
into the sunlight bare-chested at noon during the height of the festival for St. Marcus
Day. I made my preparations. I stood beneath the clock tower and waited for the bells to
stop chiming. I took a step toward the light, and I smiled. Through the crowd of people
talking and laughing, it seemed to me that I could hear Bella’s voice. I went to take
another step, and something bumped against me. I looked down puzzled. It seemed to
me that Bella was actually there; my arms circled around her and pulled her toward me.

The only sense I could make of it was that I was dead. That they had actually killed me,
and I was in heaven with Bella. Carlisle must have been right; there was heaven for our
kind as well. Bella struggled in my arms and said something. I kissed her hair and was
amazed that she smelled the same. It was impossible. I quoted the lines Romeo said at
the tomb and said that I didn’t care if this was hell. The Bella in my arms spoke again. I
heard her more clearly this time, the disorientation of the shock of seeing her receded
slightly. She said that we weren’t dead but that the Volturi had to be there. I stared at
her. Was it possible that this was real? That she was here with me and that we were both
alive? I asked her to repeat what she had said. She did, and the panic in her voice and
her eyes helped to clear my mind.

       I pulled us back into the shadows and positioned her in back of me so that I could
face the approaching Volturi. Felix and Demetri moved from the shadows. I greeted
them and tried to defuse the situation, but they were insistent on taking me and Bella to
Aro. I tried to decline, but they would not be dissuaded. Then to my intense relief I
could read Alice’s mind; she was coming to help. She had brought Bella here to stop me,
to show me that Bella was alive. Felix and Demetri were not pleased with Alice’s arrival,
but then Jane arrived, and I knew that we couldn’t fight our way out. Jane’s powers were
too great. We had to go with them to talk to Aro.

         I felt so many emotions at the same time I thought would burst. Bella was alive.
She was here. She had come for me, ME, as impossible as it seemed, and here I was
putting her life in danger again, exposing her to the Volturi. And Alice—and I was angry
and flattered at the same time. She loved me enough to risk her life for me, and she had
risked Bella’s life for me. What would happen now? Would we be killed—all of us? Or
could we some how get out of this alive—all of us? I had no answers.

       I wrapped my arm around Bella’s waist and pulled her along following Jane to see
Aro again. Bella looked into my eyes and though I saw the raging curiosity in them, I
shook my head; we couldn’t talk now. They would hear everything. I turned my
attention to Alice; she tried to explain herself briefly. I asked her what had happened—

and the images that flooded her mind took my breath away: “near-drownings, stalking
vampires, werewolf friends” and Bella destroyed or nearly destroyed by my absence, our
absence. It had all been worthless. We never should have left. It had done no good. It
had caused her undescribable pain and had not stopped her from being in danger. It had
even perversely increased the threats toward her—adding vicious and unstable
werewolves to hostile vampires.

       Onward we went into the bowels of the Volturi fortress. Alice and I helped Bella
when her human limitations made it difficult to follow. I kept my arm around her waist
whenever I was able. She wrapped her arms around me too, and the joy and ecstasy that
flooded through me were hard to contain. Though we faced death, though I had put her
danger again and again, though I had hurt her so badly, she seemed happy to be in my
arms; she seemed like she still loved me. I reached to stroke her face and her lips with
my free hand, and I kissed her hair when I was able. I could feel and hear heart beat and
breath respond to my touches and kisses. It seemed as though nothing had changed—and
yet I knew it had to have.

       Bella began shaking, and I realized with horror that I was making her cold.
Though it pained me to release her, I started to, but she understood what I was doing and
refused to let me go. Onward we went—from the stone passageways to the reception
area and to a stone turret where the Volturi were gathered, the feeding room. The
recognition of the room filled me with dread. Aro drifted toward Jane and greeted her,
complimenting her for returning with us. Aro recognized Alice and Bella at once from
my thoughts; he was pleased to see us all. He had his brothers summoned and engaged
us in conversation. I tried to explain to Alice and Bella what Aro could do—how he
couldn’t read minds from a distance like I could but, through touch, he could read a
person’s whole mind—all his or her thoughts. I could feel Aro’s longing for both what I
could do and what Alice could do. He wanted us, and his desire put us in danger, but
how much danger I didn’t know.

       Marcus and Caius joined Aro. They didn’t seem as excited by the situation, but I
could feel Marcus’ shock and awe as he read the emotional ties between Alice and me
and both of us and Bella. Most vampires didn’t form attachments as vital or as wholly
committed. I tried to convey this to Alice as subtly as I could—but our communication
only intensified Aro’s longing for us both.

       Aro shifted his focus to Bella and me. “La tua cantante,” he called her my
singer—someone whose blood sung for me—appealed to me more strongly than the
blood of other humans. They had a name for it—it was common enough to have a
name—even if it happened only occasionally. While Aro thought I wasted the “gift” of
my singer by keeping her alive, I disagreed. Aro attempted to flatter me by comparing
my restraint with Bella to Carlisle’s restraint from human blood while working so closely
to it. Aro called me an angry version of Carlisle. I didn’t care about the flattery.

       I was suddenly sick of this. I wanted their judgment; I didn’t want to be toyed
with. Aro was drawn back to Bella. He wondered about Bella’s immunity to my gift.
He wondered if she could resist more than what I could do. He asked me if he could
touch her; I threw it back at him. “Ask her,” I said. Bella looked at me in panic, and I
tried to reassure her. So did Aro. He reached out his hand, and she allowed him to touch

       I focused my mind on Aro. He concentrated—but he could read nothing—just
like me. I felt a surge of pride—Bella could thwart Aro of the Volturi. Then I saw it in
his mind. He would test Bella with some of the others. He would test Jane on Bella. I
couldn’t allow it; I wouldn’t allow it. Bella couldn’t be tortured by Jane. I growled.
Alice tried to caution me, but I knew Jane was about to assault Bella, and I flew at her.
Of course, she unleashed her gift on me in response. Immediately, I cringed and writhed
in agony under Jane’s power. My body crashed to the stone floor. I felt burning, searing
pain—the burning pain of vampire transformation—but more intense, as if doubled or
condensed, some how made even more acute than I remembered. But maybe it wasn’t
my pain; perhaps it was Jane’s pain and she was projecting her pain into my mind. It

didn’t matter; it was agony. It seemed impossible not to scream. I concentrated on not
crying out, and then I heard Bella’s voice shout, “Stop!”

         Aro called to Jane and asked her to redirect her focus. Jane happily obliged and
looked at Bella. As soon as Jane looked away from me, the terrible burning stopped. I
quickly got to my feet; I was terrified for Bella. I couldn’t imagine her pain as a human,
but then I realized, watching Bella’s face, that she was fine. She was as immune to me as
she was from Aro and Jane—and that might mean that she was immune to Alex and
Demetri too. Aro thought my restraint with Bella was a waste. Ha! She was a gift, my
gift. If we survived this, I would see to it that we were never parted again while she

         I returned to Bella’s side, and Alice moved back silently. Aro tried to comfort an
irritated Jane and then redirected his focus on us. Aro asked each of us, including, to my
amazement, Bella, if I or she would join the Volturi. He was intrigued by Bella,
interested in her; that worried me. We all declined Aro’s invitations—Bella in a choked
whisper. Aro, of course, felt our refusals to be wastes of talent, and I feared we were
about to be killed. Why else would we have been brought to the turret—the feeding
room? When I voiced my fears, Aro assured us they were already in the turret awaiting a
“fresh catch” when they were told of our visit.

         Cauis brought the discussion back to Bella—a human who knew about us. I tried
to argue against this point, but he brought it back to my commitment to keep Bella
human. Their ultimatum was that we could go, but only if we promised that Bella would
become an immortal soon. I deliberated. I wasn’t sure I could agree to this. All of my
being fought against this outcome for her. She looked into my eyes and pleaded for it. I
couldn’t hide the anguish I felt, and I saw pain and hurt flash across her face. I was such
an abomination. I was doing it again, hurting her, but I couldn’t, I wouldn’t damn her.

         And then, Alice moved forward, toward Aro, and I heard the conversation she had
had with Bella on the plane—her promise to turn Bella into a vampire herself if

necessary. Aro allowed Alice to touch his hand, and as Aro read these thoughts in
Alice’s mind, I clenched my teeth. I was furiously angry with Alice—that she would be
willing to go against me in terms of Bella and immortality. But as Aro continued to read
Alice’s thoughts, my worries returned. Aro’s longing for me as a Volturi soldier was
great, but his desire now for Alice was greater. He had seen Alice’s visions in my head,
but the access to all of Alice’s thoughts and visions excited him even more. Even though
he tried to suppress his longing for us and his jealousy of Carlisle because he knew I
could read them in his thoughts, they were there. There was danger or the threat of
danger to our family. When they broke apart, Aro was quiet confident that Alice meant
what she had said and what she had seen in her original vision of Bella—she would
become a vampire, she would be part of my family.

       If we were free to go, I was anxious for it. I didn’t want Bella around vampires
feeding. It put her at risk for one, and it would be traumatic for her to witness for
another. In parting, Cauis emphasized our need to fulfill our promise about Bella’s
transformation soon, and we left. Aro gave me a cloak with which to cover my bare
chest once we were outside the Volturi compound. Demetri accompanied us. We
hurried, but we weren’t fast enough. We walked through the mass of victims that Heidi
drove toward the turret. The feeding began before we could escape the hallway. Demetri
left us in the reception room—ordering us there until dark.

       Once we were by ourselves, Bella seemed to go into shock—which wasn’t
surprising. She started shaking and crying. She was tired and hungry, and she had been
through intense emotional stress. I wrapped the cloak around her and sat with her in my
arms and tried to comfort her. Seeing the Volturi victims had pushed her over the edge.
She was horrified. The human receptionist asked if we needed anything, and I declined
her offer. The receptionist’s desire to become one of the Volturi some day disgusted
Bella even further, and as I looked at the revulsion in her face, my conviction to keep
Bella human at whatever cost blazed stronger than ever. Though she said she wanted
immortality, I knew better. This was her true reaction to such a life. She didn’t want
this, and I would protect her from it. Though I knew that Bella wanted to be a vegetarian

vampire like us, like my family members, a vampire was a vampire, a soulless monster,
and I wouldn’t let her make this choice.

         She started crying again and put her arms around me. She asked if it was sick for
her to be happy now—happy to be with me and in my arms. I held her tightly to me and
told her I felt the same way and that there were several reasons for us to be happy: we
were alive, we were together, and we would be alive tomorrow. Alice concurred,
informing us that she would be with Jasper in a day. Bella stared into my eyes, and I
stared back. She looked so tired. She commented on the blackness of my eyes and
offered to sit with Alice, but I couldn’t be separated from her. Her scent was as powerful
as ever, and I felt the longing for her blood but something had changed. The catastrophic
pain I had felt for over a day—believing that she was dead, separated from me forever,
and that I was the cause of her death, the source of that kind of overwhelming pain—had
quelled the lure of her blood. I would never be the source of danger or pain for her again.

         I tried to explain that I was in control of that part of myself. She let it go. She lay
still in my arms and stared at my face and into my eyes, and I stared back. She was even
more beautiful than I remembered despite her exhaustion and anxiety, and she was there
in my arms. I never wanted to let her go. I wanted to hold her forever. I wanted her to
be mine.

         Alice interrupted my thoughts to ask about what Aro meant about “la tua
cantante,” and I explained the term and what it meant. Alice and I then began to discuss
how we would get home, and though I concentrated on our plans, I couldn’t stop myself
from leaning down to kiss Bella, her hair and her face. I listened as her heart fluttered at
each kiss. She was oddly silent, and I didn’t know what to make of that. I loved her
obsessively. It had been madness to think that I could live without her. Alice had been
right; we would find a way. I couldn’t imagine what that way would be—but the eight of
us, Bella included, would find a way for this to work. I would not be separated from my

       I knew it was getting dark outside, but I wasn’t sure we could leave, and then
Alec appeared and told us we were free to go and encouraged us to do so quickly.
Outside people were still celebrating St. Marcus Day—dressed up as vampires—as if
anyone would choose to be a real vampire. They were absurd. Alice left us to “borrow”
a car, and I held Bella to me, supporting her as she needed me. Alice pulled a car around,
and I led Bella to it and helped her into the back seat. Alice started apologizing for the
car, and I joked with her about the Porsche she had pinched for the drive to Volterra. I
promised to get her one for Christmas.

       I encouraged Bella to sleep, and I held her in my arms. She protested that she
didn’t want to. She was just as stubborn as always, and I told her so. We continued to
stare at each other in the car and on the plane to Rome. She didn’t talk or ask me
anything. I hoped she would fall asleep, but she just continued to look at my face and
into my eyes. I longed to be alone with her, but I could live with this. We were safe and
together, and she was in my arms. She had loved me enough to come and save me
despite the danger.

       On the flight from Rome to Atlanta, I voiced my disapproval as Bella ordered
Coca Cola, but she silenced my objections by telling me she was afraid to sleep because
she feared nightmares, and I could too easily imagine the nightmares our visit to the
Volturi would inspire. She continued her eerie silence, but with her in my arms, I didn’t
fret over it. Instead I traced the features of her lovely face with my fingers and continued
kissing her hair, her face, and her wrists. Her heart fluttered at my touch, but she seemed
subdued and restrained in a way that I couldn’t identify. I didn’t dare kiss her on the
lips—I wasn’t sure of my reaction or of hers, and I thought it best not to risk that until we
were alone. I was just so happy to be alive and reunited with my Bella that I was content
to hold her, touch her, and kiss her in the silence and privacy (due to the sleeping
passengers) of the red-eye flight.

       Of course, my family was waiting for us at the airport. Esme and Carlisle were
both very upset with me for what I had attempted and profoundly relieved and grateful

that we were all alright. They both thanked Bella for her courage in going to rescue me
from myself. Jasper was there for Alice. Bella was suddenly overwhelmed with fatigue,
and Esme and I supported her through the airport. I stiffened as I realized Rosalie and
Emmett were waiting for us. Though I knew Rosalie felt intense remorse for her actions,
I was still upset that her actions had endangered me, Bella, and Alice. Esme begged me
to ride with Rose and Emmett, to allow Rose to express her regret. Reluctantly, I helped
Bella into the car, and, exhausted as she was, she lay her head against me and closed her

        Rosalie surprised us both by choking out a heart felt apology and a request for
forgiveness. Bella forgave her easily, and I was surprised to find my own anger at Rose
abating a little. Bella fell asleep after that, and I cradled her in my arms and carried her
to her house when we arrived. Charlie was livid, of course. He was furious with Bella
for disappearing on him and worrying him to death. But his real fury was directed
toward me for disappearing on Bella, for what my absence had done to her, and for being
the catalyst to her disappearance. I didn’t blame him. I was to blame for so much. I
didn’t try to argue with Charlie as he yelled at me.

        Bella struggled to regain consciousness to defend me. As I carried her to the
house, she asked me to let her down. Though I doubted she could walk the distance, I set
her on her feet. She started to collapse almost immediately, and I caught her up in my
arms and carried her upstairs to her room. When Charlie demanded that I leave, I assured
her that I wouldn’t be far. I would wait until Charlie was asleep and return to her room to
watch over her and to wait for her to return to consciousness.

        I rode with Rose and Emmett to the house. I was lost in my own thoughts, and
they seemed content to wait until we were home to hear the whole story. We joined the
others in the living room, and Alice began explaining what Bella had told her about
Laurent and Victoria returning for Bella and about the werewolves being back and
protecting Bella—killing Laurent and driving Victoria away on multiple occasions. We
were all alarmed by the return of the werewolves and of their immunity to Alice’s gift.

We thought they had died out. Bella’s lure for all things dangerous appeared as strong as
ever. Alice and I both filled in the details of what happened in Volterra—of Aro’s
regards to Carlisle, of our promise that Bella would transform, of Aro’s invitations to all
of us, Bella included, to join the Volturi, and of our polite refusals.

       We strategized about hunting Victoria and made plans to re-enter our lives in
Forks after so many months away, and I apologized to my family for my insistence on
uprooting us though it did neither Bella nor I any good and caused us all pain and
suffering. They were gracious and forgiving. They knew and understood the anguish I
suffered over Bella—my intense desire to be with her warring with my equally intense
desire to protect her. I loved her, and we would find a way to make it work. Even
Rosalie was making an effort to be more accepting of Bella and kinder toward her.
While it was good to be reunited with my family, I longed to be with Bella again, and I
quickly excused myself.

       Bella was so exhausted that she slept soundly, murmuring my name only
occasionally. I stroked her face and kissed her hair—inhaling her scent greedily. I was
both anxious for her to wake and for her to get the sleep she needed so badly after our
ordeal. A little after 1:00 AM, she began to stir. New anxiety flooded through me, now
that we were alone, I would find out how she felt—whether she could forgive me for
everything I had put her through and the danger I had left her in. She surprised me as
usual. She didn’t seem to believe her senses. At first, she seemed to think she was
dreaming or hallucinating and then she thought she was dead and then back to dreaming.
I tried to assure her that she was awake, and she finally started to believe me. Much more
like herself, the questions began. Had Italy happened? The time? Charlie? Our cover
story? I answered the questions I could, but I had no story that would explain our
absence. She asked what I had been up to before Italy—but I couldn’t tell her at first. I
couldn’t tell her how pathetic I had been or about my failed attempts to track Victoria. I
had failed her so miserably. I admitted to tracking, but I evaded her more specific

       Finally, I had to say something. I needed to try to explain how sorry I was for
everything I had put her through and the futility of all my efforts. I apologized, and the
ideas flowed out. I didn’t realize Victoria was such a threat. I had no idea Bella would
turn to werewolves for protection. I told her how sick I felt over all of that. She
interrupted me. She tried to tell me I couldn’t feel guilty about things that happened to
her. She suggested that I needed to go my own way and let her deal with the
consequences of her actions.

       I realized with horror that she still believed I didn’t want her, didn’t love her. I
tried to explain that I went to the Volturi not because I felt guilty but because thought she
was dead. She still didn’t understand. I reminded her that I was a good liar—my words
made her flinch, but I pressed on. I explained that I had lied to her in the forest when I
said I didn’t want her. I had done it because it seemed like the only way she would let
me go. It was terrible. It caused me so much pain to do it, but protecting her from
vampires, from even my family, became more important than her pain and my pain. I
said those deceitful words to encourage her to move on with her life, but it didn’t work.
Then I turned the conversation around and asked Bella how she could possibly have
believed the one statement that I didn’t want her after six intense months and the
thousands of times I had told her I loved her.

       She started crying in response and went back to the assertion that she was
dreaming. I tried to explain how much I loved her. I moved to kiss her on the mouth,
and she shocked me by begging me not to. Uncertainly and fear engulfed me. Didn’t she
love me any more? Had she moved on after all? Had she found someone else? I asked
her to explain. She assured me that her feelings for me had not changed—she loved me.
That was all I needed to hear. Despite her protest, I kissed her. I struggled to be as
gentle with her as I had before, but my passion was greater, more intense—the time apart,
the threat of death, both our deaths—made it greater, more consuming. She didn’t seem
to mind because she kissed me back and touched my face greedily, the same way I
touched hers. “Bella, Bella,” I moaned, and when she pulled away, we were both gasping
for breath. Then I lay my face against her chest to listen to her racing heart—I had been

away from it too long to be deprived of its gentle rhythm so close and immediate to me

       I tried to assure her that wouldn’t leave her again, but I felt her disbelief. I tried
again to explain why I had left—because I endangered her life by including her in my
world. She didn’t believe me; she thought I could be strong enough to leave her again if
that was what was best. I told her I wasn’t that strong. Victoria came up, and she
became distraught at the idea of me hunting Victoria. I told her it was too late for
Victoria—after the assaults she made against Bella in my absence, after Bella had been
forced to rely on werewolves for protection. Bella tried to assure me that the werewolves
were not a problem. I let it drop; I didn’t want to fight with her on this issue, not now,
when I was trying to make amends for all the damage I had done.

       She moved on to other problems like the Volturi. I assured her that the Volturi
measured time differently than we did and suggested that she could be thirty before they
thought of her again. This suggestion induced her to panic. Tears welded up in her eyes.
The idea of being older than me terrified her—she worried about when she looked old
and I looked the same. She didn’t understand; her human aging would never matter to
me. She would always be the Bella of that first day—seventeen and beautiful and
human. I would never see her differently. I tried to explain that and then moved on to
the possibility of her wanting more than me. She could change her mind, and the idea
terrified me. I had messed up so badly that it could have been a real possibility. But after
all I had done, she still loved me, still responded to my touch and kisses in ways that
showed how much power I had over her. And all this was without unleashing the full
power of my eyes, my voice, and my breath. I didn’t believe that she could leave me or
even choose someone else, but she had to believe that she had choices.

       She scoffed at the idea of wanting something more than me—just as I had hoped,
and she didn’t approve of my continued desire to die when she did. It was melodramatic;
I’ll admit, but it was romantically alluring, and Romeo was one her favorite literary
characters. It showed a depth of commitment that mere grieving didn’t. The Volturi, I

assured her, could be put off—I had plans for doing so. I was arrogant about it, and that
made her mad. She pushed me away from her and declared her intention to visit my
family that night and put her mortal/immortal status to a vote. I tried to dissuade her, but
when I couldn’t, I agreed to take her there reluctantly. I pulled her into my arms and
jumped out the window. Then I pulled her into place on my back, and we were off
running through the forest.

        As we neared the house, I felt her kiss the back of my neck. We joked lightly,
and I realized that she still didn’t trust this, didn’t trust me. I pledge to earn her trust
back, and she flipped it around by saying that she didn’t trust herself. I asked her to
explain, and she told me that she had never seen herself as enough for me. I tried to tell
her that I had to be with her, that she was the only one I wanted and would always be the
only one, but she was dismissive. I asked her about our previous conversation about her
greatest problem. She said I was her greatest problem, that me leaving her was worse
than anything else she could face, and I remembered Alice’s thoughts of what she had
seen and what Charlie had told Alice about after we left Forks. I was such an
abomination. I felt searing guilt and agony. Could I ever make up for what I had done to
her? She saw the anguish on my face and begged me not to be sad. I tried to explain that
I could never leave her again. I hoped that in time she would believe that.

        She asked for her things back, and I found a little relief in seeing pleasure flit
across her face as I told her her things were never gone, just hidden under her flooring.
She mused that some part of her seemed to have known that I still loved her, and she told
me about hearing a voice, my voice, when she did things that were “reckless and stupid.”
I was horror-struck to realize that she had been purposefully risking her life to hear my
voice. As I began to say so, she stopped me. She was putting something together in her
mind and I wasn’t to interrupt her. Her eyes suddenly focused and filled with wonder;
she looked deeply into my eyes and said confidently, “You love me.” I answered back,
“Truly, I do,” and I took her face in my hands and kissed her, and we were again both
breathing irregularly when we broke apart. I confessed to being pathetic after leaving

Forks, of wallowing in misery, while she had continued the rhythm of her life for Charlie.
I loved her so.

       As we walked toward the house, I told her it didn’t matter what my family
members said. I was allowing her this gesture, but it didn’t matter—I wouldn’t let her be
changed. We entered the house, and I called their names. Carlisle greeted us first and led
us into the dining room where everyone took a place. When everyone was seated, Bella
began. She made sure that everyone was aware of Alice’s promise to turn Bella herself
and of our promise to the Volturi that Bella would be changed. Then Bella asked us all to
vote on our desire to have her join our family. I countered that the threat from the Volturi
was not as significant as Bella made it sound. I was confident that we could hide Bella
when the time came and that they would not be able to find her. Bella redirected us back
to the vote. I voted “no,” and Rosalie voted “no,” but everyone else voted “yes.”
Though I had been dismissive with Bella outside the house about the vote not meaning
anything, I could hear it in their thoughts; this did matter to them and to how they viewed
Bella. I begged Carlisle not to vote “yes,” but he did anyway—and if I was honest, I
could understand his rationale; it was the only way it made sense—for Bella’s safety, for
our family’s safety (from exposure and the Volturi).

       But I didn’t care that it made sense; I felt betrayed. They had all ganged up on
me. They were forcing me to change my plans for Bella, and I had very specific and
detailed plans for our future together. I was suddenly so enraged that I needed physical
release, and I stormed out of the dining room and smashed the first piece of furniture I
came in contact with. Then I heard her; I heard Bella asking Alice to change her then and
there. I flew back into the room and screamed at Bella: “No, No, No. Are you insane?”
Some part of me felt badly that she physically cringed away from me, obviously terrified
of my anger and the violence of my reactions. Alice was uncomfortable too but not at my
anger; she was afraid she didn’t know what she was doing—and she didn’t. She begged
Bella for time to prepare herself. I was still so impossibly angry that I couldn’t contain it;
snarls escaped my throat. Bella, then, looked at Carlisle, and I couldn’t help myself. I
took her face in my hand and forced her to look at me while at the same time gesturing to

Carlisle to stop, to let me deal with this. Carlisle ignored me and consented to her
request. It couldn’t be now; there had be some way to delay this, to give Bella time to
change her mind, to convince her to change her mind.

       I told them it didn’t have to be now. That Bella couldn’t simply disappear
without significant complications for our family. If Bella was missing in the morning,
Charlie would come here. I told them that we should wait until after graduation, until
after Bella had moved out of Charlie’s house. Carlisle agreed that such a delay made
sense. Only when Bella consented, did I begin to relax. But I hurried to get her out of
the house and back home. My mind scrambled to think of ways to delay her or to put her
off entirely all the way home. What would she want? She would want me to do it. I
knew that. She had wanted me to do it the night of the prom. She had begged me to do it
other times. If I wouldn’t do it, she would allow Alice or Carlisle to do it, but she wanted
it to be me. What would she exchange for more time or to stay human for good? She
feared aging, being older than me. What did she fear more than aging? She didn’t fear
the commitment of being with me forever, and then suddenly I focused on the idea of
commitment—of marriage? She would fear early marriage. She would fear her parents’
reactions. They had married young, and Renee had made Bella terrified of early
marriage. And her fear of marriage was ironic because she was the one who first brought
up the topic last year—the night after our first outing to the meadow, the night she knew I
stayed with her. She would be uncomfortable with the whole prospect of it; she
considered herself mature and practical. Marriage right out of high school would seem
rash and impulsive, and there would be the gossip about why we were rushing into this.

       With Bella in my arms, I jumped to the roof and into her room, setting her lightly
on the bed, and then I paced back and forth trying to think about how to frame this the
best way. She got annoyed and threw her quilt over her head, but I couldn’t let her do
that. I had lived without the sight of her face for long enough. I asked her if she could
have anything what that would be. She wasn’t sure where I was going with this at first,
but then she said it; she told me that she would want me to change her. I repressed my
smile and asked her what she would exchange for that. The surprise and excitement on

her face were obvious. She told me anything, and I asked for time. A year was all she
was willing to give me explaining that if I was stuck in my teens forever than she would
be too. So I pulled it out, the big heavy; I watched her face carefully as I told her I would
do it if she would marry me first. Her eyes widened in shock and then alarm. I had
accurately predicted her fear of early marriage. She tried to brush it off as a joke, but I
could hear the terror in her voice as she struggled with the idea. She admitted being
afraid of Renee’s reaction. She bluffed and suggested Vegas, and I called her bluff. She
moved from the year of time offer to eighteen months, but I held firm, and I smiled at her
and unleashed by abilities on her. I let my eyes burn and I breathed in her face and
begged her in my most silken voice. I watched as her breathing became erratic and she
had to shake her head to clear it. I mentioned her ring, and in the panic that the idea of
her engagement ring brought, she shouted, “No rings!” It was loud enough that Charlie
had heard and was getting up. When I suggested that I should go, I heard her heart stop
beating, and she begged me to stay. I hid in her closet.

       Charlie checked on Bella and was embarrassed to find her wake and waiting for
him. He wanted some explanations. Bella kept it close to the truth: cliff jumping, a
misunderstanding over her death, my extreme reaction at the news, and Alice and Bella
traveling to see me in person. Charlie hadn’t known about the cliff jumping part, so that
put Bella in a little bit more trouble. Though Charlie was certainly mad at Bella, he was
still more angry with me. He warned Bella to stay away from me, and she fought with
him on that point. She told him that our separation had been another misunderstanding,
and she threatened to move out if Charlie didn’t tolerate me. It pleased me to hear the
confidence in Bella’s voice as she spoke about us being together. After Charlie shut her
door, I asked Bella not to fight with Charlie over me, and she joked with me about
moving in with my family and then not needing to wait until graduation. I reflected on
her eagerness of eternal damnation, and she surprised me by mentioning my reaction to
seeing her in Volterra—when I thought that we both were dead and in heaven together—
and asked me to be hopeful. Was it possible? Could there be heaven for a vampire?
Could what I was going to let happen begrudgingly to Bella not damn her? Could we,
after our existence as vampires, some how be together in heaven? I felt unsteady, and I

took her face in my hands and looked into her eyes and murmured, “Forever.” She
agreed and kissed me.

       It was pretty easy to re-enter our lives in Forks. Everything was back to normal at
school. Bella was grounded and had specific visiting hours, and Charlie tried his best to
be rude and unwelcoming toward me, but I didn’t care so long as I got to be with Bella,
and then we had the nights together—though Charlie didn’t know about that. My main
irritation was Bella’s concern and attempts to contact Jacob Black. She avoided talking
about him in front of me because of my reactions to his name—and I tried to be tolerant
of him—he had protected her after all. One Saturday, when I picked Bella up from work,
she was particularly worked up about Jacob not accepting her phone calls. I tried to
explain that Jacob was staying away because he knew we were back, and that neither one
of us could be reasonable about the other because of what we were, enemies. If we were
forced together, only a fight could result, and someone would get hurt; I started to say
killed, but Bella understood enough of what I meant and was angry. She encouraged me
to get her home before she was late and in more trouble with Charlie.

       The problem was, I realized as I got close enough to read Charlie’s mind, that
Bella already was in more trouble. Jacob had dropped off Bella’s motorcycle, and
Charlie was livid. Bella was furious at Jacob, but I could now hear Jacob too. He was
waiting for us. He had a warning from the pack for me. Bella was stunned when I told
her Jacob was waiting to talk to me. At first, she feared a fight, but I told her that wasn’t
Jacob’s intention. Jacob was waiting for us. His form trembled as he fought the rage he
felt at being near me. As we approached him, I angled Bella behind my body and away
from Jacob. Bella wanted to know why Jacob had done such a thing. His answers were
vague, but I knew he was just trying to get Bella grounded so that she couldn’t see me. I
told her what he thought, and he glared at me in response. She explained that she was
grounded and that’s why she hadn’t visited him. His hard face broke for a moment and
then was hard again. I translated his thoughts for her and told her that Jacob assumed that
I wouldn’t let her down to La Push. Jacob was even more annoyed at both having me
read his thoughts and at me having extra abilities. He guessed that I knew the message he

was to deliver, and I answered that I did. But I interrupted him. I had something to say
to him too. I wanted to thank him for protecting Bella when I had failed to. It surprised
him. I told him that I owed him and that I would return the favor. The favor that he
wanted was for me to leave Forks again, and I told him that I would stay with Bella for as
long as she wanted me. Bella interrupted then. She said she wouldn’t be without me,
confirmed that she was now in more trouble, and wanted to know what else he wanted.

       Jacob answered that he was confirming with me some points of the treaty. I tried
to end the conversation by saying that we hadn’t forgotten the points of the treaty, but
Bella asked about it. Jacob emphasized that the treaty said we could not bite a human.
Bella suddenly got it; we couldn’t transform a human into a vampire without breaking the
treaty. She was angry, and she told Jacob that it was none of his business. He obviously
had no idea Bella would consider joining us. The pain and horror in his mind were
tremendous, and he started shaking in earnest. He struggled to calm himself, and Bella
moved toward him, but I caught her firmly and pulled her back. She couldn’t be near an
enraged werewolf who was threatening to phase right in front of us. Jacob lashed out me
that he would never hurt her, and I hissed in response.

       Charlie’s voice boomed in the distance. He wanted Bella home now. Quickly, I
asked Jacob if the pack had found any traces of Victoria on their land. The last time was
when Bella was away with me in Italy, but she got away. When I told him that we would
take care of Victoria, he protested. The wolves were looking forward to hunting her.
Then Charlie was screaming again. I tried to get Bella to leave. She hesitated. She
wanted to comfort Jacob, but I kept her from doing so. I held her back. When she was
committed to hurrying to face her father, I relaxed a little. Jacob was furiously angry that
I had stopped Bella from touching him, and he was wildly jealous of me, that Bella would
choose me over him. What he didn’t know was that I was wildly jealous of him as
well—he who had defended her in my absence, he who had comforted her and helped her
when I left her so distraught. I kept my arm around Bella as we walked toward the house.
She braced herself for Charlie’s anger. She was brave; I had to give her that. “I’m here,”

I told her, and I wanted her to count on me, to need me to face the things that were
unpleasant or that oppressed her.

        After the motorcycle incident, I was only allowed to see Bella at school, during
her further restricted visiting hours of seven to nine-thirty, and when I snuck back to
spend the night in Bella’s room. Charlie kept up his gruffness, but it didn’t bother me. I
had waited a hundred years for Bella, so Charlie I could put up with. Though Bella
wanted to be transformed into a vampire right after graduation, I hoped that the marriage
condition I had offered would delay her, and I set about having her apply to as many
colleges as possible. I was obsessive about it. I brought applications for her to fill out all
the time, paid the application fees, and sent them off. I forged her signature when
necessary. Options—I wanted Bella to have other options than becoming a vampire. She
was resistant. She only went along with filling out the applications because college away
from Forks and Florida would be a cover story for her first year as a newborn vampire.

        Though I had worried that her feelings toward me might have cooled after leaving
her and endangering her with the Volturi, our bond seemed tighter than ever. She was
now convinced that I truly loved her, and I marveled at the depth of the emotion in her
face each evening when she opened up her door for me during her visiting hours. Her
eyes would sparkle, and her smile would turn radiant, and when I touched her, I got to
hear the sudden intake of her breathe and her heart pound in response. The evening she
got her acceptance to the University of Alaska Southeast, I brought her a Dartmouth
application to fill out. Charlie asked me about my acceptances and grumbled when he
realized Bella and I could both end up at University of Alaska Southeast. The subject of
Bella’s un-grounding came up, and I suggested that Alice had been dying for a city
shopping partner. Charlie was against the idea until I said that Seattle with it sudden
wave of violence (violence that my family suspected was the result of a newborn
vampire) was not an appropriate destination for Bella and that Portland would be better.
Charlie left us for his TV at that point.

        Bella started filling out the Dartmouth application dutifully until she realized the
school. Then she attempted to refuse, but I had the partially completed application off
the table before she realized it, and I could supplement that with some of her previous
essays, a forged signature, and the application fee. I wanted to go to Dartmouth next

year, and I would do all in my power to make sure Bella could be there with me too. I
would only be too happy to pay her tuition though the idea appalled her. We began
arguing over the timing of her conversion. I insisted that there was no danger, and she
insisted that there was. I told her we didn’t need to hurry, and she countered that she
wanted to hurry.

       To force her to think about the life she seemed so eager for, I pointed to Charlie’s
newspaper and the Seattle killing spree story that made Charlie so nervous about having
her there, and I told her there was nothing funny about being a monster. It had not
occurred to her that a vampire was behind the killing spree, but I confirmed that and
explained why my family members were monitoring the situation. Suddenly she wanted
assurances that she wouldn’t be like that, that we wouldn’t let her be like that. We started
talking remote locations, Antarctica, Juneau, more remote Alaska and the game
possibilities. I mentioned wolves in more remote Alaska, and Bella looked aghast. I
quickly realized why, Jacob, and was annoyed. She was still upset, so I tried to
apologize. Then it came, her argument for needing to see Jacob, her friend who was
hurting (and who I knew loved her desperately and would do anything to win her from
me because it had been all there in his thoughts in the forest). I distracted her temporarily
by asking about how she could read Wuthering Heights again. But she wouldn’t be

       She returned to Jacob. She claimed the werewolves were safe to be around, but a
memory betrayed her, and I heard her heart accelerate as she remembered at least one
dangerous incident while with them. I reflected on the power Bella seemed to have to
lure danger to herself (and I included the werewolves as one of those dangers), and she
surprised me by saying that she had nothing to do with it. The werewolves thought that
our presence had called them back from extinction, and Bella seemed to think this theory
was true as well. It didn’t change anything. I would not let Bella be near werewolves,
not while I was around and could protect her. Again she tried to convince me of how
much she owed Jacob, especially during the time I had left her. I felt an overpowering
wave of guilt as she mentioned it because I knew how badly I had hurt her, but I wouldn’t

budge on this. I would not stand for Bella to be in danger. I tried to explain, to tell her
how much I loved her and how I couldn’t bear the idea of anything threatening her again
and that meant no werewolves. She argued with me further, but I was confident that I
could keep her away from them.

       The next day at lunch, Alice had a vision of Victoria returning that weekend and
of her trying to get past the werewolves. Her expression was blank for only a few
minutes. Bella was immediately alert and curious about what Alice had seen. But I
didn’t want Bella thinking about the vision or knowing about it. I tried to think of some
way to get Bella away from Forks, away from the danger. I knew I was overacting, but I
couldn’t help it, not when it came to Bella. I pretended Alice’s episode was just Alice
zoning out or needing a nap. Alice and I exchanged a brief loaded glance that Bella saw.
Bella waited for us to be alone so she could ask me about what Alice had seen, so I
carefully measured our movements so that we were never really alone. I even offered to
help Mike Newton with his car. After we dropped Alice off at the house, I drove Bella
home. I was still scheming, and Bella was waiting for me to talk. We went up to her
room, and she turned on her computer. While she waited for it to warm up, I decided to
distract her, so I used my eyes and my breath to render her helpless, and I furthered my
advantage by kissing her forcefully. She was dizzy by the time I released her and had to
shake her head a few times to clear it. Bella read her e-mail from her mother and sent her
back an answer. I asked her to send Renee my regards.

       While Bella was finishing up her e-mail, I suddenly saw the car stereo Jasper,
Emmett, and Rosalie had given Bella for her eighteenth birthday. It had been butchered.
I would need to replace it to spare their feelings. The airline tickets were there too. They
were perfect; I would take Bella to Florida this weekend and get her away from the fight,
and hopefully Bella would never be the wiser. I pulled them out and announced that they
were about to expire. I was very, very careful with the expressions on my face and the
tones in my voice. It was imperative that Bella didn’t know about what was coming; I
didn’t want her to do anything reckless, and she was sure to be stubborn about things if
she fully understood what was about to happen. So I played it up. I suggested we go to

Florida to celebrate her freedom. Bella was hesitant; she knew it would infuriate Charlie
and didn’t want to fight with him. But I could see the lure of the temptation I had
presented to her. It had been so long since she had seen her mother under pleasant
circumstances; she wanted to go. Only her concern over her father’s anger pushed the
happy prospect from her mind. I added my own boredom to the reasons for us to go and
let it drop. Charlie was the hang up. It occurred to me that if I brought up the topic with
Charlie, Charlie’s reaction would be negative, of course, but just that negativity would
get Bella’s back up, and she would fight with him until she was able to go.

       Bella changed the subject by asking about Alice’s vision at lunch. I lied smoothly
and told her she had seen Jasper in an unexpected place. We went down stairs to do
homework, and I helped Bella cook dinner. Charlie enjoyed his dinner and talked about
his day with Bella while I occupied myself with the news. The one thing that irritated me
was Charlie mentioning them being invited to a small party at the Blacks to watch
baseball. I wouldn’t allow Bella to attend such a function. Luckily going to Florida
would serve the double duty of getting Bella away from the fight and a werewolf party.
As Bella was going the dishes, I chose my words carefully. I informed Charlie that Bella
had been given plane tickets to Florida for her birthday last year and that they were about
to expire. I could feel Bella’s distress that I was bringing this up tonight, but I continued.
At first, Charlie was enthusiastic about the idea, but as soon as he realized that I would be
accompanying Bella, he became unreasonable, just as I predicted. Bella immediately
became defensive, and she won. Charlie backed down; he couldn’t stop Bella from going
to see her mother. After Bella finished with the dishes, she informed Charlie that we
were going out briefly and would stay close. I knew she wanted a chance to be alone
with me to ask why I had interfered, so when the questions began in my car, I was
prepared, and again I lied smoothly. I told her she had been talking about her mother in
her sleep, so I knew she wanted to see Renee, and I was just helping her a bit. I played
dumb to her not wanting to fight with Charlie, and I assured her that the party at Billy’s
had nothing to do with the trip (the main concern was Victoria’s impending return with
Billy’s party a nice consolation prize). I knew she was still annoyed at me, but when she
requested to go to my house because she hadn’t seen my mother in a while, I smiled and

sealed the Florida trip by commenting on how pleased Esme would be about that when
she knew we were going to be using her gift. Bella, then, surrendered her resistance.

       On the way home, as we got closer to her house, I had to fight my amusement
when I heard Charlie’s thoughts. The idea of his daughter spending several nights with
me even under the supervision of her mother had made Charlie feel the need to discuss
“adult” relationships and responsibility. Bella would be humiliated the whole time, as
would Charlie; he was clearly very uncomfortable about talking to her on this subject. As
I dropped her off, I promised to return later when her father was asleep. I had gotten
home and was about to play Jasper at chess when Alice had another vision and called.
Bella had disappeared. It could only mean one thing; that she had gone to see one or
more of the werewolves, and I knew which werewolf she would risk my anger for. I was
out the door immediately.

       I easily removed the distributor cap from Bella’s truck and waited for her to find
me there. Bella bounded out the door and into the truck, enthusiasm radiating from her at
the prospect of her visit. She looked confused when her truck wouldn’t start, and then
she noticed me in the cab. Bella turned sullen and quiet, and I filled the silence by
explaining Alice’s vision and our theories on why Alice couldn’t see werewolves or her
when she was with them. I knew she was angry with me. I told her I would have her
truck ready in the morning if didn’t want to ride with me and that she could close her
window if she didn’t want me to spend the night.

       I struggled to appear quiet and thoughtful, to keep my voice under control and
muted. But I was seething. I was exasperated that she would risk herself with Jacob, and
I was blindly jealous of the eagerness she displayed at the idea of seeing him before she
knew I was there. I wanted him dead for inspiring that kind of response in her. She was
mine, and I didn’t want her to feel strong emotions for any other guy (except her father).
I tried to wrap my mind around these powerful reactions. The jealousy I felt toward
Mike Newton, Tyler, and Eric, our classmates, had surprised me with its fierceness, but I
knew that they were human boys who couldn’t compete against my vampire gifts and

other assets in a competition with me over Bella’s affections. Jacob Black was different.
He was more than human, and I had left her alone for months, and she had turned to him
for comfort. She had bonded with him, and he with her. I absolutely loathed him.

       She left me in anger. I watched and listened as she slammed her window shut; the
action caused me stabbing pain, and I wondered if it was possible to loose her after all, if
after all my scheming, she could reject me. Then to my intense relief, she reopened the
window. Even her intense anger didn’t dim her love for me and my hold over her. The
werewolf thing was going to be a problem, and I didn’t know what to do about it.

       Though we were at a stand off on the werewolf thing, the trip to Florida distracted
Bella. She suspected nothing was wrong in Forks when we left Friday or when we
returned Sunday night. It was fascinating to spend time with Bella’s mother; she had
such an interesting perspective on the world. She saw things differently than most
people, and she saw things about my relationship with Bella that Charlie had been
obvious to. She saw the intensity between us and both marveled at it and was cautious of
it. I realized that by the end of the weekend Renee was coming to terms with the
commitment she felt between us. Renee would not object to Bella marrying me as Bella
had feared. Renee thought of her daughter as a very different person from herself, and
she knew her daughter’s temperament. When Bella made up her mind about something,
which she did carefully and thoughtfully, she was wholly committed to that decision.
Renee would not see Bella’s decision to get married as rash and impulsive, and she would
respect her daughter’s choice, but that didn’t mean she like it. Renee had reservations;
something about me unnerved her. What I had to hide was just how much I was
influencing Bella’s choices, but Renee couldn’t see that in the brief time we were with
her or from her usual long-distance relationship with Bella. Before we left, Renee took
Bella for a walk to talk about her concerns about our relationship; when they returned, I
could tell that Renee wasn’t entirely satisfied with the conversation and was unsure of
some of her conclusions. Bella must have been dismissive, unwilling to reveal much,
even to her mother.

        Bella was quiet and thoughtful on the way home from the airport. When I asked
her about it, she said she was thinking about her mother, our visit, and how her mother
saw thing other people didn’t. I let her drift in her own thoughts. After I stopped the car,
I bent down to kiss her and teasingly called her Sleeping Beauty. I stiffened on the way
to the door, and Bella noticed. I tried to explain that Charlie was happy to see her, but I
left out that Jacob had been calling Charlie all day wanting to talk to her and that this fact
both puzzled and amused Charlie. We were barely in the door and through with
exchanging greetings when the telephone rang. Bella had a short conversation with Jacob
which left her confused and anxious. I kept my face smooth, but I watched her carefully
as she tried to understand Jacob’s overwhelming desire to hear her voice and his curiosity
about her attendance at school the following day. It irritated me intensely to see how
absorbed she was in trying to figure out what was wrong with a dog. Suddenly she froze
in the middle of the kitchen, and she dropped the food in her hand. I caught it and threw
it onto the kitchen counter. I encircled her in my arms and asked her what was wrong.
She told me her conclusions. She thought he was checking to see if she was still human.
She thought we would have to leave to make the transformation, that we would never be
able to come back. I tried to comfort her. Then, Charlie groused about dinner, and Bella
distracted herself by fixing it.

        When I got home that night to wait out the time before Charlie would be safely
asleep and I could return to Bella, my family was there to tell me about their efforts to
catch Victoria and the confrontation between Paul (the werewolf) and Emmett. No one
had been hurt, and Carlisle and Jasper had been able to calm things down. The presence
of the werewolves was complicating matters since we were opponents not allies and
Victoria was able to use our conflict to protect herself very effectively. We would just
need to keep up our vigilance and be extra careful in close proximity to the werewolves.
It didn’t seem like a very satisfying battle plan to any of us. Alice was eager to get me
alone. She knew, as did the rest of my family, that I had asked Bella to marry me, and
she wondered if there had been any progress during the trip. I told her what I had heard
in Renee’s thoughts—that she would respect Bella’s decision if she decided to marry me.
Alice beamed at the news.

       I picked Bella up the next day; nothing seemed unusual, but as we got closer to
school, I realized that Jacob was waiting at school for us, so he could talk to me (again
for the pack) in a place I couldn’t make a scene. I asked Bella if she would do something
for me if I asked her to. My sudden tension and the open-ended question made her wary,
and she was non-committal. I asked her to stay in the car until I came back for her, but
before I could get her to promise, she saw Jacob waiting for us. I tried to explain that he
had called last night to ask about school because he wanted a place to talk to me. She
refused to stay in the car, so we went to meet Jacob together. When we were close
enough, I pushed Bella behind my body, so that I was between her and Jacob. Kids were
staring; we were attracting attention. I tried to cut the conversation short; I already knew
what he was there to say. Bella still didn’t know about the Paul/Emmett situation, and I
wanted to keep it that way. There was no reason for her to be scared, but Jacob
stubbornly refused to let it go. He suddenly realized that I had kept the whole situation
from Bella. From the halting conversation between Jacob and me, Bella started putting it
all together, and I was murderously angry. Jacob would ruin everything. I faced him
with my rage and fury contorting my features.

       Bella’s gasps snapped me back to my senses. I held her tightly and tried to
comfort her. Jacob insisted that Bella had the right to know what was going on. He
claimed she was tougher than I thought, and he reminded me that she had been through
worse first with his words and then with his memories. He let them flood his mind. The
first was the way Bella looked the night I had left her when Sam finally found her early
the next morning—the night she chased after me aimlessly through the woods and spent a
good part of it curled into a ball of suffering and agony. Jacob had seen this image in
Sam’s mind through their pack connection. It was appalling. The next was the way Bella
had looked when she had first come to Jacob’s garage with her motorcycle scheme. She
was barely herself, more zombie than Bella. It too was horrible. The last was of the
pathetic way that Bella had clutched hold of herself in an effort to stop the pain she felt
from ripping her apart—which was like a mirror image of myself balled in a fetal
position wallowing in the agony of being separated from her. I had no words. It was

beyond pain to see these images. He knew that, and he was enjoying intensely the
anguish they brought me. Bella became alarmed at my distress, and I struggled to control
myself and hide my agony.

       Suddenly, I knew the principal was on his way, so I tried to end our conversation
and get Bella to class. Jacob called me overprotective and invited Bella to visit him. At
first, his tone was mocking, but then it changed to pleading. I kept my arms around Bella
and kept my face impassive with great effort. His begging worked, Bella moved to
escape my arms, but I wouldn’t let her. The principal arrived and started questioning me
and Jacob. Jacob left defiantly, and after a few more warning comments from the
principal, I was able to get Bella to class. In class, she wanted to know the whole story
about the weekend confrontation, so we passed a note back and forth. I told her the
essentials and told her I would tell her when it happened again.

       Bella’s immediate response to the return of Victoria was that we should turn her
into a vampire, but my family members and I all assured her that wasn’t necessary,
graduation would be soon enough. I also reminded her that I would be happy to be the
one to turn her, if she would meet my condition. Emmett and Jasper were going hunting
for the weekend, and I was to join them. Alice had seen no problems with this, and Bella
was insistent that I go; Saturday she was supposed to work and then write out graduation
announcement with Angela. We were there in the park; we had started hunting, and my
phone rang. I hadn’t turned it off. It was Alice; Bella had disappeared. All I could think
was, “That girl is going to be the death of me.” Jazz and Emmett asked if I needed help,
but I told them to stay and hunt. There was no point in ruining this for them as well.
Emmett laughed out loud at my panic and annoyance. He was glad I loved Bella and
glad that her mind was closed to me. He backtracked when I growled at him. He hoped
she was in no real danger and that she didn’t die, but he admitted the fierce enjoyment he
took from Bella being able to outmaneuver me when my mind reading usually let me
outmaneuver everyone else. Even Jasper snickered. They thought Bella was a good,
humbling experience for me. Nice! My brothers were making fun of me, and I had a
rogue girlfriend out with a werewolf. I wanted to kill someone.

       I was so angry when I got back to Forks that I paced the Quileute line. I could
smell where Bella’s and Jacob’s scents had most recently crossed the boundary. I fought
the overwhelming desire to go after her to make sure she was okay. Again, I was angry
at her for putting herself at risk, and I was livid at the idea of them together beyond what
I could see or what Alice could see. The fact that Bella had succeeded in getting to see
Jacob this time made my fury and jealousy flash even stronger. I called Alice off and on
to see if she could see anything. Of course, I knew that I was annoying her. She would
call me as soon as she saw something, but she knew my distress and was generously
tolerant of my calls. I thought the time waiting would dull my anger, but it only seemed
to inflame it. I fought the idea of crossing the boundary again and again, but my mind
raced and I imagined Jacob loosing control with her and hurting her or even killing her
accidentally, and though I tried to suppress them, there were other images of them
talking, of them enjoying each other’s company, and of what Jacob wanted from Bella. I
felt nearly schizophrenic with worry and anger, and then the phone rang. Alice had seen
Bella arriving at Angela’s. I ran to the car and waited. I heard the truck before I saw it.
As soon as she past me, I was on her tail, inches away. I would follow her all the way to
Angela’s. I knew it was menacing and threatening to follow her like that, but I couldn’t
help it. I was so angry and worried, and she had to know. I hoped she wouldn’t stop
because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to control myself. I needed time to know she was
safely way from the werewolves and away from Jacob before I could trust myself to talk
to her and to be near her physically.

       After I left Bella at Angela’s, I took my car home and went for a run. I had to
deflect the emotions that I felt, reign them in, control them some how. Running wouldn’t
tire me out, but the forest would distract me and running as fast as I could would provide
a measure of satisfaction that I hoped would help as well. So I ran and ran, and it worked
some. Bella was safe. That was really the most important consideration, but she had
disobeyed me, and she had proven more resourceful than I had given her credit for. Bella
was safe, I kept telling myself. I would just have to be more careful, more thorough in

my plans to keep her away from the werewolves. Ruefully, I thought of Emmett’s
comments; Bella certainly kept me guessing.

        I was waiting in her room when she got back from Angela’s. I had calmed down
significantly, but I was still angry and tense. I waited against the wall for her to come in.
She entered cautiously and shut the door behind her. I didn’t move but just watched for a
while. She tried to lighten the atmosphere by telling me she was alive and that “no harm
[had been] done.” I responded to that by telling her how close I had come to crossing the
boundary. That alarmed her; she told me I couldn’t. She said the wolves would love a
fight, and I suggested that I wouldn’t mind one either. She tried to argue that Jacob
wasn’t dangerous, but I didn’t agree. Finally, she walked over to me and put her arms
around me. Seeing her there, feeling her against me, it was easier to relax, and I put my
arms around her. When she looked into my dark eyes, she realized that I hadn’t hunted.
She scolded me, and we were then back to arguing about her and the wolves. We were
getting nowhere. I was adamant that the wolves were a risk, and she was just as adamant
that they weren’t. She asked if I was jealous, and I hinted that jealousy was a factor; I
just didn’t go into how big a factor. I told her the only thing I cared about was her safety,
and I used my eyes to take away her other doubts about my sincerity on this topic. She
tried to declare herself a neutral country in the whole werewolf vs. vampire dispute, and I
let it go for now.

        Of course, bagging out on the hunting trip meant that I had a trip to make up. I
was going with my brothers and Carlisle, Friday and Saturday. I enlisted Alice to help
babysit Bella and arranged for Bella to have a two-day sleepover with the Cullen girls.
We moved the trip up a day since Bella had been so inventive on the previous Saturday.
The plan was that Alice would pick Bella up from work on Thursday evening and take
her to and from school on Friday. Saturday morning I would be home and could see
Bella after Alice had taken her home in keeping with our story. Esme had cleared it with
Charlie, and Alice had Bella’s essentials for the “sleep over.” I knew Bella would be
mad at me for having Alice hold her hostage, but I wasn’t going to let her put herself at
risk, and if this is what came down to, this is how it would be: lock down every time I

went away. We had rearranged my room for Bella’s visit. I didn’t want Bella to be
uncomfortable, so Alice helped me picked out a canopy bed, and that now occupied the
central space in my room. Since my hunting needs would reoccur, I hoped that this
experiment worked, and Bella could spend more of my hunting trips here with Alice,
Esme, and Rosalie, where the bed would get more use and Alice could fully earn her
bribe, a yellow 911 Turbo Porsche, like the one she coveted in Italy.

       Hunting was great. I felt confident that Bella was safe with my sisters and
mother. I even had my phone turned off. Though I was always a little anxious away
from Bella, that anxiety didn’t distract me enough to annoy my brothers and Carlisle, and
I actually enjoyed myself. The mountain lions were prevalent, and we all found predators
to sate our thirsts. Homecoming gave me more surprises than I had expected. Bella’s
mud-spattered, red motorcycle was in our garage. Emmett howled with laughter at the
sight of it, and Jasper and Carlisle both grinned and shook their heads. Alice was anxious
and worried that I would be furious with her, and Rosalie was still thinking over parts of
the conversation she had with Bella in my absence. What a mess. I didn’t know how to
feel. I was angry and jealous, frustrated and humiliated, embarrassed and curious. I was
angry with Bella and jealous of Jacob. It appeared that I couldn’t keep her safe. That she
would risk her life to do what she wanted to do, to be with him as well as with me.
Rationally, I knew that she was friends with him, that she felt she owed him for the
support he had given her when I was gone. But I begrudged him that support, that time
with her alone. And I knew his mind; he said that he was her friend, but he loved her
desperately. I was frustrated and humiliated that I could not contain this stubborn, pig-
head, human girl! I was embarrassed that I was making Alice feel so badly when she had
done nothing but try to support me in my commitment to this ridiculous relationship, and
I was curious about whether Rosalie’s desperate longing for children would have any
impact on Bella’s decision to stay human. Of course, that could blow up in my face too; I
couldn’t exactly help Bella have children.

       Esme came and sat with me while I tried to weigh through all the conflict in my
mind. She cautioned me. Attempting to control all aspects of Bella’s life was dangerous.

If Jacob was so important to her, perhaps I needed to find a way to let her have that
relationship. I didn’t like the idea, but I was worried that I was driving her to extreme
behavior to successfully see Jacob and that in doing so, she could get hurt. It also
occurred to me that by refusing to allow the relationship, I could damage the relationship
between Bella and me. Of course, I preferred the idea of Jacob Black disappearing from
Bella’s life altogether, but I wasn’t willing for Jacob to be a source of friction between us.
The main complication was that Jacob would manipulate every opportunity he had with
her to get her to choose him. Alice joined us. I apologized to her and thanked her for all
her help. Then I asked her what she saw of Bella’s future. She said that she saw more
strongly than ever Bella with me and as part of our family as a human and then as an
immortal. I asked Alice if she could see Bella with Jacob, but she couldn’t. Alice agreed
with Esme. Though we all found the attraction Bella had to a dog mystifying, Alice
reminded me of how Charlie had described Bella after we left, and I was haunted by the
recent memories that Jacob had shared with me—the zombie-like images of Bella after
we left, in ways more painful that the images I had of Bella tortured by James and lying
broken on the floor of the ballet studio, because I had done this to her; I had to reconcile
myself to the fact that I had made Bella and Jacob’s relationship necessary. Now I had to
live with it. Bella’s pain helped me smooth out my anger and all the other negative
emotions I felt. She was asleep in my room, and I would compose myself and think of
her happiness and join her. Who knew, if I could convince her of my acceptance of
Jacob, perhaps it would strengthen our bond, and I wanted our bond strengthened. It
seemed more important to me than ever that she agree to marry me. Jacob would have to
concede if she married me; he would have to maintain a respectful distance if we were
formally bonded that way. I saw no other way of distancing them that would earn Bella’s

       I composed myself and thought of how much I loved her before I walked into my
room. The bed was bare, and my anxiety flared until I saw her on the couch with the
comforter wrapped around her. I fought from laughing out loud; she was as stubborn as
ever. The bed had obviously irritated her. Very gently, I picked her up and moved her to
the bed. She seemed to have made the transfer without waking. I lay beside her and

stroked her hair and inhaled her scent. Bella was all that mattered to me. I concentrated
on thinking about her and only her. Only a little while later, she stirred and rolled over,
then she rolled back, and I could tell that she was awake. I apologized for waking her
and waited. I expected her to be angry at me; she had left me a phone message to that
effect when she first realized she had been kidnapped. But she reached out for me and
moved toward me. I pulled her closer to me, hugging her to my chest. Her lips sought
mine, and then we were kissing. I laughed, explaining that I thought she was angry with
me. We bantered back and forth briefly, before I decided to show her the advantages of
the bed. I traced my hand down her body all the way to her calf and then pulled her leg
around me. I heard her breathe catch; I smiled and asked what she didn’t like about the
bed, but I didn’t wait for her answer. I rolled over and pulled her on top of me and held
her so that I could kiss her along her throat. Her breathing came out in gasps now. She
managed to choke out that the bed was unnecessary. To convince her otherwise, I shifted
again, and this time held my body over her, carefully, and her hearted raced as it
responded to my body pressed on top of hers. I laughed softly and kissed her.

       She asked if I had changed my mind, and I knew what she meant. I had always
limited her conscious participation in our sexual intimacy, and now I had her on a bed
and was positioning her ways we had not experimented with much previously. She had
no idea how much I wanted to further our experiments, but I feared for her safety in such
scenarios. If I lost control, it could go horribly wrong, unspeakably wrong. And part of
me hoped that she would want to so badly, that it would help me get her to agree to marry
her. I would insist on marriage before the honeymoon, but I fantasized about sex with
Bella all the time, that it was possible with her still human, that she would like it as much
as I felt sure that I would. Of course, I had conducted my own experiments with orgasms
aided greatly by Bella’s presence, but she wasn’t exactly aware of that, and I was sure
that together, both conscious, it could be better than I had already experienced and even
better than I imagined—if I could find enough control. Her heart betrayed her new
excitement at the prospect of this bed and our relations, and I signed and told her not to
get carried away.

       She told me it was too late and that she was already carried away. I smiled, glad
that she liked the bed. I reminded her that I enforced the limitations on our relationship
because it was too dangerous otherwise. We teased each other back and forth on this
point until she accused me of putting her in danger of “spontaneous combustion” from
the unfulfilled passion I was keeping her from through my limitations; I pushed her away
to protect her from exploding, but I was pleased. I was driving her crazy, and she was
getting as hungry for me as I was for her. We joked again about self-control when we
were together—apologizing for giving each other the wrong impression, and then I
apologized to her for making her angry by having Alice hold her hostage, and I told her I
wouldn’t do again. She told me I had her permission to hold her hostage any time, and I
considered that. Then she apologized for making me angry, and I made it clear that she
didn’t need to. I told her I would “be more reasonable” about the werewolves and “trust
her judgment.” She was impressed, and I smiled to myself, but I confessed that I was
unwilling to let Jacob come between us. I asked her if she had plans to return, and she
hesitated. She explained that she had told Jacob right after graduation she hoped to be
transformed and that he had taken that information badly. He had wished she was dead.

       I froze. I had known seven excruciating months without Bella in my life and I
had known what it felt to have thought that I had lost her forever. Anyone wishing her
harm or death was despicable to me; I hated him for telling her that, but I knew his words
caused her pain, so I pulled her tightly to my chest and told her how sorry I was. My
words surprised her, and I tried to explain that I couldn’t be happy about anything that
caused her pain. I froze again, as I thought about my anger. She noticed, of course, and
asked me about it. I hesitated, and then told her that I wanted to kill him for telling her
that. We moved from my self-control issues toward Jacob to our self-control issues
together until I encouraged her to go back to sleep. She brought up her conversation with
Rosalie, and I froze again, concerned about the flood of information Rosalie had shared
with her and what she had made of it. She completely surprised me because her
questions focused on Tanya and her family. She was jealous of me, I was shocked to
realize. She asked if anyone in Denali had shown an attraction for me. I was
embarrassed because Tanya had. I hesitated, and Bella threatened to go ask Alice about

it. I held her firmly in my arms, so she couldn’t leave me, couldn’t even move away
from me. I tried to distract her, but her heart started racing, and I realized with a surge of
delight that Bella’s jealousy of me was strangely comforting. I tried to explain that to her
and to reassure her that she was “my only love.” I hummed her lullaby to encourage her
to go back to sleep, and with satisfaction, I felt her nestle closer to me in our golden bed.

       Alice drove Bella home in the morning in keeping with the slumber party cover
story. I had walked them to my car, of course, and before I left the garage I caught sight
of Bella’s motorcycle again, and though the idea of her on a motorcycle worried me, the
idea of her doing this activity with Jacob alone bothered me more. They were angry at
each other after all, so it might be quite opportune for me to replace Jacob in this aspect
of her life. With those thoughts in mind, in the time I needed to wait before meeting
Bella, I made arrangements for a motorcycle of my own and a few accessories for Bella
that would at least give her some degree of protection on her own motorcycle. Then I left
to meet her.

       When I got out of the car at Bella’s house, I caught the scent strongly and
struggled to contain my panic. Someone, a vampire, had been here during the night. I
rang the doorbell and waited. When Bella saw my face, she knew something was wrong.
I told her not to move and flew through the house following the scent. It was strongest in
Bella’s bedroom; that did not make me happy. I returned to Bella and put my arms
around her and steered her to the far end of the kitchen. I tried to explain that someone
had been there. One of the Volturi was my best guess; it certainly wasn’t a scent that I
recognized, so it couldn’t be Victoria, and it was male. Bella was visibly shaken; a
vampire had been in her house with her sleeping human father. I needed to talk to Alice,
and I wasn’t leaving Bella alone. I pulled her toward the door; when she objected about
Charlie, I called Emmett and explained things. Emmett and Jasper agreed to come and
sweep the woods and keep an eye on Charlie. After that, Bella let me lead her to the car
and take her to the house.

       I was furious. Alice was supposed to be watching the Volturi, Bella, and Victoria.
How did she not see this coming? I began to grill her on who had been in Bella’s room
and why she hadn’t seen him. My panic clouded my reason. When Bella told me to
“stop it,” I realized that I was being unnecessarily harsh with Alice, again, and
apologized. After that we all began thinking the situation through, trying to think of how
this could make sense and who was behind it. We could come up with nothing definite.
Bella again suggested that it was time for her to become a vampire, but we all reassured
her that we would stick to the graduation plan and just be more “careful.”

       I took Bella home after that. Bella was annoyed that she wouldn’t be turned and
that everyone would be “inconvenienced” by watching her and Charlie more carefully.
Charlie had misunderstood the tension between us before we left as us fighting and
continued to see it that way when we returned. Bella got Charlie his dinner, and he
waited for me to be in the room before telling Bella that Jacob had called her again.
Charlie was a sketch. With someone as stubborn as Bella, didn’t he realize that his
objections to me would make me all the more appealing to her and that his obvious
preference for Jacob would automatically make him less appealing to her than I was?
Charlie was my unwilling but forceful ally, and I felt a fondness for him that he didn’t
deserve. I left at the regular time, and then waited to return.

       Knowing some vampire had been in her bedroom, I came back earlier than
normal. I just wanted her in my arms, to be with her and know that she was safe. She
tried to hide her tension, but I knew it affected her. I sung her to sleep and wrapped her
securely in my arms. I felt intense regret and guilt— my world and I always seemed to
put her in danger. I wondered again if Jacob wouldn’t be better for her, but the idea
repulsed me on so many levels. What was this new danger? We didn’t have enough
information. I was so anxious about her that I couldn’t effectively fantasize over her.
Instead I stroked her hair, her face, her shoulders where they were exposed by the
blankets, and inhaled her scent. She murmured my name and told me she loved me so—
and her words eased some of my guilt because despite everything, I knew she loved me.

       Charlie was off fishing early in the morning, so Bella and I got to spend the
morning in the house alone. She told me that she was going to call and forgive Jacob for
what he had said about wishing her dead. I knew she would; she didn’t hold things
against people. I knew that as well as anyone. I was jealous, but I was determined to not
let it show. I hung back as Bella talked to Jacob, but I moved closer as Bella stumbled
over how to explain the new development, the vampire in her room. I held out my hand
for the phone, asking Bella to let me talk to Jacob. She was hesitant but relinquished the
phone to me. I tried to explain to Jacob that someone, a vampire, had been at Bella’s.
The pack had not crossed a new scent. I tried to explain to Jacob that with the current
hostile situation, I would be more protective of Bella than normal. Jacob tried to convince
me that Bella could be safe also on the reservation under the protection of the
werewolves, and he suggested renegotiating some boarders to protect Bella better. He
also suggested coming to watch Bella while I followed the scent instead of leaving her
with my family. Then he could also follow the scent, so the pack would know it through
his experience. I didn’t like Jacob, but I realized that all we both cared about was Bella’s
safety, and I was surprised to realize that I felt a softening toward him. I gave the phone
back to Bella and allowed her to finish her conversation with him.

       Bella was annoyed that Jacob and I didn’t feel comfortable in the same room, so I
tried to explain it was just “easier” for both of us this way. Before I left her with Jacob, I
couldn’t resist saturating her hair with my scent. I knew that Jacob would take what
advantage he could when he was alone with her, and I was happy to deter him in any way
I could. I carefully breathed into her hair before I left her, laughing as I went. Her hair
would reek like vampire, and it would bother him. Bella didn’t understand what I was
doing, and I hoped that she wouldn’t get it. I swept the trail of Bella’s stalking vampire.
I didn’t gain any new knowledge to add to what Emmett and Jasper had first reported. I
returned to Bella’s house and over heard the last part of Jacob’s conversation about her
asking “for permission” to attend a werewolf bonfire. Then Jacob left, and I re-entered
the house. A knife covered in Jacob’s blood lay on the counter, and a flash of images
crossed my mind about what had happed to cause such an outcome. I asked Bella
whether they had fought, and she was chagrinned that she hadn’t cleaned up better.

       I had picked up their mail and was pleased to hand her what I was sure was a
Dartmouth acceptance. She stared at me in disbelief and asked me what I had “done” to
get her in. I played this very carefully. I told her that she might enjoy “a semester or two
of college,” and I asked her to imagine how proud her parents would be if she went to
Dartmouth. I knew that the images were as tantalizingly seductive as the image of going
to Florida and seeing Renee had been a couple of weeks ago. She wouldn’t have thought
of the images on her own, but once I had placed them there in her mind, she would return
to them. The images were very alluring. Damn, I was good!

       She shrugged it off, and I didn’t fight her because I knew she would come back to
images herself. She startled me with her next line of questioning. She suggested that
Alice had tidied her room when she retrieved Bella’s toiletries and pajamas because Bella
couldn’t find some of her things. I was confused for a moment, and then I stiffened. All
the things that were missing were things heavy with Bella’s scent; the visitor had taken
Bella’s scent. Why? I explained my conclusions and promised I would figure it out.
Bella pressed herself into my chest and told me she knew I would.

       Carlisle called then about the murder spree in Seattle and our conclusions about
newborn vampires as the cause. I told him about Bella’s stolen things, but he didn’t
know what to make of that information either. I explained our concerns about the
newborn vampires in Seattle to Bella, and suggested that Jasper would be very helpful in
these circumstances. Bella asked me more about that, but Jasper’s story, like all my
family members’ stories, was personal. I intruded into their heads too often to tell their
stories for them unless I was invited to, like when Carlisle gave me permission to tell his
story to Bella.

       I shifted the conversation. Jacob had told Bella to get my permission, and I asked
her about what she wanted to do. I pretended that she didn’t need my permission. I
wasn’t her father, and I suggested that she ask Charlie whether she could go to La Push
for the bonfire. Charlie quickly gave it to her. Despite my assurances that she didn’t

need it, she still asked for my permission again and accepted my “precautions” easily. I
realized then that I had more authority over her than her own father.

       Before we left to take Bella to the drop off site on the border of La Push, Bella
expressed her desire to take her motorcycle back to Jacob’s and leave it there. I was
annoyed. My motorcycle had arrived, and taking her motorcycle back to Jacob’s did not
fit my plan of making this something we did together. We walked to the garage, and I
was curious to see her reaction to my bike. Instead of pleasure, I could see that she was
uncomfortable. I had over done it. My bike was too much more sophisticated than hers.
She feared that she couldn’t keep up and that I would always be more worried about
keeping her safe than riding for my own pleasure. I tried to hide my disappointment.
Bella’s and Jacob’s bikes were more evenly matched, and he was willing to let her be
more reckless than I was. My jealousy flared, but I thought of how much I wanted her to
be happy and how much I had to make up for, and I let it go. She could have this with
Jacob if she had to. There were the accessories, however, and they would give her a
reminder of me while she did this with him. Though she resisted the helmet, I smiled at
her and told her I only wanted to keep her safe, and she relented. The jacket, I thought,
looked hot or rather Bella in a black, leather, biker jacket was very hot, and I told her so.
She conceded to both accessories, and I encircled her in my arms and kissed her
enthusiastically. Her helplessness, her vulnerability, was so attractive; it triggered my
male instincts to dominate her, protect her, and possess her completely. I hated the fact
that I was delivering her to the dog for the night; relinquishing my claims on her for those
few hours was painful, but I put her bike in my car, and we got ready to go.

       Jacob was waiting for us at the boundary line. His thoughts irritated me; he was
too eager to be with her for my liking. I made sure Bella had the cell phone, so she could
call me when she was ready for me to pick her up. I got her bike and accessories out of
my car. Before I let her go, I pulled her into my arms and kissed her fiercely. I needed
her scent and the urgency of our kiss to sustain me through our time apart, and the jealous
fury that I felt in Jacob’s thoughts as he watched me kiss her helped too. I chuckled
under my breath and released her reluctantly. I watched Bella walk the bike and her new

stuff past the boundary. Over the line, Jacob moved eagerly to help her and then to
embrace her in a huge hug. It was more than I could take; I was in the car in an instant
speeding away as fast as I could, my jealousy and fury barely contained.

       I desperately needed a distraction, so once home, I decided to hunt. It was good
to run through the forest. I brought down a deer and fed. The violence of the action
helped to sate my fury as much as the blood sated my thirst. “Sharing” Bella with Jacob
was going to be difficult. I had the satisfaction of knowing the idea was just as difficult
for Jacob as it was for me. How could I use this situation to my advantage? Jacob had
far less control that I did. That was it. I would be flawlessly polite and gracious about
Jacob. She cared about him. Her happiness was all that mattered. It would be
excruciating to hide my true feelings about their relationship, but I would do it. I would
stand in contrast to Jacob. He would be angry and rude to me, and I would be polite and
self-sacrificing. She would admire my response and be annoyed at his. I could use this
situation to my advantage. And realistically, I didn’t have to share her all that much
longer. Graduation was nearly here, and she could take the Carlisle option, or she could
marry me and I would change her. Either status, vampire or married, would mean that I
wouldn’t need to share Bella with Jacob Black.

       Although I had been appalled by the idea of Bella as one of us, as a soulless
vampire, I realized that there were other parts of my mind that longed for it. Her scent
wouldn’t burn in my throat the way it did now, and I wouldn’t need to be so careful with
her. Our intimacy could be fully explored the way I imagined it and fantasized about it. I
wouldn’t need to protect her so obsessively. She would learn to protect herself in time,
and we wouldn’t need to be separated, ever. The realization was jarring. I preferred to
be the one who changed her, but Carlisle had changed most of us. None of us felt we had
the restraint to do it ourselves. But I had already tasted Bella’s blood and stopped, and
now we were much more tightly bound. I knew I could stop. Suddenly, part of me was
eager for graduation and what it might bring.

       I was surprised and slightly alarmed when it was Jacob’s voice on the phone and
not Bella’s, but he explained that she had fallen asleep and he was going to bring her to
the boundary. I was pacing just beyond the line when they pulled up to Jacob’s side of
the line. I could hear their conversation from the distance as well as Jacob’s thoughts.
Bastard! He was trying to figure out how to use the “sharing” thing to his advantage just
as much as I was. Calling me was his version of self-sacrificing and polite. She enjoyed
herself—that was what was important, and the only times they had been alone together
were when they were in the car. Fine, I could live with that. She came toward me in the
darkness, and I pulled her into my arms eagerly. The stench was appalling—dog smell
on my Bella. Ugh! I hid my revulsion and showed only concern to get her home and
polite interest in her evening. It helped to feel Jacob’s jealousy as he watched me
embrace her, help her into my car, and drive away with her.

       I dropped her off at home and took the Volvo home. Then I ran to rejoin Bella in
her room. She was waiting for me in her open window, looking out into the night. Jacob
was in the forest having volunteered to do shifts outside Bella’s house alternating with
my family members as we all tried to protect Bella from Victoria’s return. Though she
was tired, her dreams were restless, perhaps from the Quileute legends she had heard at
the bonfire. The dog smell kept me from enjoying being with Bella during the night as
much as usual. Wuthering Heights sat on her night stand, so I picked it up and skimmed
through the text. I didn’t need light to read the words in the darkness. I found that I
could relate to the obsessive way Heathcliff loved Cathy and the tolerance he was willing
to show Edgar; it surprised me. She woke briefly from a bad dream but went back to
sleep only pausing to voice her surprise at my reading selection.

       In the morning, I asked her about her dream, but she couldn’t remember it well
enough to tell me about it. Before leaving her, I kissed her until I could hear her heart
racing, and then headed home to change and get the car. Graduation was in a week, and
the members of my family had all talked about it. We would throw a graduation party.
Alice and I were graduating too, so our classmates would find it a perfectly normal thing
to do. Only Bella would know that the party was really for her since graduating from

high school for the umpteenth time had little meaning for any of us. Alice was ecstatic at
the prospect. Bella would hate it, but she would only graduate once from high school as
a human, so we all felt justified in forcing this on her. The only thing I regretted was I
was restraining my desire to get her something for graduation. The motorcycle debacle
had taught me that I needed to show restraint. If I over did it again, she would reject the
gift. The party would be enough to force on her, and I would strategically highlight that I
abstained from getting her a gift out of respect for her wishes.

       School was uneventful, and Alice and I waited to tell Bella about the party as we
walked to the car afterwards. We were telling her because Alice had seen that Bella
would accept the party more easily if she knew about it rather than if it were a surprise—
which was Alice’s preference. Bella caved pretty easily; she knew she really had no
choice in the matter. What surprised both Alice and I was that Bella was completely
obvious to the date. She thought graduation was weeks away instead of next week. The
realization made her strangely quiet on the ride home. We dropped Alice off, and I drove
her home. She was absorbed in her own thoughts even as I led her into the house and
steered her to the sofa. I waited as long as I could stand and then begged her to tell me
what she was thinking. She explained about not realizing the date and not knowing what
to do, what to tell her dad, and then she couldn’t go on.

       The conflicting emotions of relief and sorrow surged threw me. She was afraid,
and it had nothing to do with the party. She wasn’t ready to transform. She needed more
time to be human, and part of me was so relieved that she felt that way. Another part of
me grieved; I had been anticipating her joining us more than I realized, and the sorrow
and loss of that possibility were intense, but I hid the grief. She put on a brave front
arguing that she had to be ready that there were all kinds of reasons for us to proceed
without delay, but I told her that no one would transform her before she was ready. I
could see that there were other things on her mind, and I encouraged her to ask. She
asked what I was getting Alice for graduation, but there was more. She asked why I
didn’t want her to be a vampire, and I concentrated on the part of me that wanted her to
remain human and tried to explain how selfish letting her become a vampire made me

feel because I would be sacrificing her soul and forcing her to give up her human life and
everything that went with that. Having lost those things myself, I couldn’t imagine doing
it to her, to the girl I loved. She surprised me by revealing her insecurity; she worried
that I might lose interest in her once she was different. The thought made me laugh, and I
tried to explain that it would be easier for me, but I did confess that I would miss
watching the blood flush through her cheeks and the sound of her heart. I failed to tell
her just how much satisfaction I got from my ability to make her heart change tempo, but
that was the part I would miss—hearing how strong of an influence I had over her. Once
she was a vampire, I would have to trust that she loved me since I couldn’t read her
accelerated breathing or heart rate or her thoughts. That would take some getting used to,
and I felt a small wave of panic at the idea of not having some way to know absolutely.
Maybe once she was a vampire, I would be able to read her thoughts. I could hope.

       I refocused my attention and asked her to answer a question for me—to tell me
why she didn’t want to marry me. As I anticipated, the question embarrassed her. She
stalled and then blurted out the reasons I expected. That it would look small-town, that
people would assume she was pregnant, that intelligent people waited to get married, that
people didn’t get married right out of high school anymore. I responded by inventing an
insecurity of my own. I asked her if she was more interested in immortality than in me.
She laughed and assured me that she wanted me forever. I took her in my arms and
laughed with her. Then, I unleashed the full force of my eyes on her and told that in
1918, if I had found her, I would have married her, and that I didn’t see these times as
binding for us since we would be leaving them behind just as I had 1918. She had
stopped breathing by the time I had finished, so I reminded her to breathe and asked her
to consider my side. She was still resistant. We knew each other’s position on getting
married, and that was good. We would leave the discussion alone for the time being, but
she knew that if she wanted me to be the one, she needed to marry me first. The night
was uneventful. Bella slept better, and I enjoyed myself in her room as she slept. At
daybreak, I went home as usual.

       When I returned, the next morning Bella was so absorbed in a newspaper article
she was reading, that she didn’t hear me knock on her door or walk through the door. I
watched her cautiously, and then called out her name. She gasped and turned around to
face me. Her face was pained, and I crossed the room to be at her side immediately. She
directed my attention to the newspaper article which suggested a serial killer was behind
the murder spree in Seattle. I realized we needed to talk over the situation in Seattle as a
family. We needed to get involved. The newborns in Seattle would attract the attention
of the Volturi, and we didn’t want the Volturi so close to Forks before Bella was a
vampire or as a human was hidden somewhere they couldn’t find her. Alice still couldn’t
see what was going on. I asked Bella if she minded skipping school, which she didn’t,
and we went home to talk to Jasper about newborns. Carlisle knew about the serial killer
theory; they had been discussing it on the TV news. Jasper asked me if I had told Bella
his story, and I told him I hadn’t. Jasper explained his story to her—how newborn
vampire armies where created for conquest of territories, especially in the South, how he
had been a Confederate soldier during the Civil War with a charismatic gift, how he had
been selected by Maria to join her army of newborn vampires, how he had been
particularly good at controlling the army and became a favorite of Maria’s, how Maria’s
army defeated other armies, how he left Maria and lived a different kind of life with Peter
and Charlotte, how even his new life left him depressed and unhappy, how he drifted
away on his own, and how he was found by Alice and had come with her to Carlisle and
our family. Bella now understood that the scars all over Jasper’s body were battle scars
from the wars in the South.

       Jasper’s theory was that, as impossible as it seemed, there was newborn army in
Seattle. Taking on a newborn army ourselves would be difficult. Jasper didn’t like the
odds. We had skill on our side, but they had sheer numbers and their newborn strength.
Alice said she was getting “flickers” of someone’s intentions—but they kept changing.
There was no firm decision that she could see clearly. I realized that someone knew how
Alice’s visions worked. This someone knew that Alice could only read the future of a
person who had had made up his or her mind. If the decisions changed rapidly, Alice
saw the flickers but nothing concrete. If the decisions remained undecided, Alice

couldn’t see them at all. Someone was hiding from us. Who would know Alice well
enough for that? Aro had seen into Alice’s mind in Italy. We disagreed on the Volturi.
Alice was watching them, and there was no official decision from them. Carlisle and
Jasper thought the Volturi respected their rules too much to create a newborn army. I
thought it could very well be the Volturi. We would need to train. Jasper would help us.
We would need help too, if we could get it. Carlisle called Tanya, and we were all
dismayed to learn that Laurent had become very close to Irina during his time in Denali,
and that Tanya’s family members would only be willing to help us if they could have our
permission to have vengeance on the werewolves for Laurent. We would not allow it. I
still owed the wolves for protecting Bella from Laurent. Jasper was tense. Without the
help of Tanya’s family, some of us would be lost.

       School the next day was uneventful. Bella hoped with the party would be
cancelled because of the newborn army problem, but it was a vain hope. At lunch, the
conversation between Bella, Alice, and me drifted between the party and recruiting other
vampire friends to help us with the newborns. Bella suggested that she could help if she
was transformed. Alice saved me from arguing with Bella by pointing out that Bella, as a
newborn herself, wouldn’t be helpful in a fight. And before we left, Alice saw that Renee
would need to skip the party; previously she had planned on attending, so something
must have happened. Bella was anxious about the newborns. We would go in a week,
but she couldn’t bear the idea of any of us at risk. I tried to assure her, but her anxiety
didn’t diminish. When she called Renee, I played with her hair and shot her smiles as she
seemed to need them. After she was off the phone, she stretched up to kiss me, and I
caught her around the waist and lifted her to the kitchen counter so were more evenly
matched in height, and we kissed again until it risked both of our limited controls.

       From the topic of limited self-control, I moved to the topic of hunting. I was
going hunting with Carlisle, Esme, and Rosalie after school the next day, and Alice,
Emmett, and Jasper would stay behind to watch Bella. She asked to be able to go to La
Push instead of being babysat by my siblings. I kept my face composed or tried to and
agreed. She asked about why I was hunting again so soon after my last trip, and I

explained that hunting more frequently made us stronger, and that we would probably
hunt on the way to Seattle before fighting the newborn army. I also explained that that
was why the newborns were so strong—because they were so full of their own blood.
She asked about her own strength as a newborn, and I told her she would be stronger than
I was, and yes, even stronger than Emmett. Bella got down from the counter and started
to study for finals, and I helped her. During a brief break, she called Jacob to tell him she
would be coming over there the following day. I forced myself to look relaxed and
played with her hair just as I had done during her conversation with Renee.

       After exams the following day, I drove Bella to the border. I asked her about her
exams, and as we got closer, I heard Jacob’s thoughts and couldn’t help the look that
crossed on my face. Jacob was preparing himself to declare his love for Bella and to ask
her to choose him. Bella asked me about my reactions and what Jacob was thinking, and
I told her that I was sure Jacob would tell her. Although I was sure that Jacob couldn’t
sway her from me, I felt a wave of apprehension. I hated to see her cross the boundary
and get into his car. She loved me, I told myself. But he was human and she was human,
and I wasn’t. He could do things with her, for her, that I couldn’t. Pain and jealousy
threatened to overwhelm me as I drove back to the house. It was good that I had the
distraction of hunting to look forward to. I joined the others, and we left, running threw
the forest. I found an eight-point stag and snapped his neck as violently as I could before
I drained his blood. The violence provided some measure of relief from the emotions
running through me. I hated having to wait through Jacob’s declaration. I wanted her
back. I wanted her in my arms. I wanted her to be mine. I wanted her to agree to marry
me, so she could put some distance between herself and that dog.

       When we got back, I couldn’t distract myself from my anxiety, so I sat in the
garage in the Volvo and waited for Bella to call. My phone rang, and I started the car
even before I answered. The relief in hearing her voice was intense. I drove as I listened.
She asked me to come get her. Something was wrong. I demanded to know what. She
told me that she thought her hand was broken, and she wanted Carlisle to look at it. Fury
rippled through me. He had allowed her to get hurt. I wanted to know what happened,

and she told me she punched Jacob. I was glad at first, until she told me she had punched
Jacob because he had kissed her. I nearly snapped the steering wheel into pieces as I
processed that news and slammed the accelerator to the floor. When I thought I could
control my voice, I asked if Jacob was still there. He was, and I was there too. I
struggled with my emotions. I couldn’t loose control there in front of Bella or Charlie. I
never wanted Bella, as a human, to see me hunt or fight. It might be too much for her;
she might see me for the monster that I was. But Jacob needed a warning; he needed to
know that I would not tolerate any situation in which Bella was in danger or physical pain
without there being harsh consequences.

       Bella opened the door for me, and I examined her hand carefully. It did look like
there was a break. She must have hit him hard; that knowledge sent a wave of relief
through me. I complimented her on the force of her punch and assured her that I would
take care of it (and I meant both her hand and Jacob). I called Jacob’s name, and Charlie
moved forward to discourage any trouble between Jacob and me. I realized that Jacob
was intent on following us outside—taking our confrontation away from Charlie’s
hearing, so I helped Bella out to my car and then turned to face him. I threatened him. I
told him if she was ever hurt in his presence again that I would rip one of his legs off and
that if he ever kissed her again, without her permission, I would smash his jaw. I also
warned him that I would be fighting for Bella also, that I would be fighting harder than he
was, that she was “mine,” and that I wouldn’t be fighting “fair.” He rose to the challenge
I presented, not just the conquest of Bella but the fight between rivals. I left him there
and drove Bella to the house to see Carlisle.

       Emmett and Rosalie were in the garage working on Emmett’s jeep when we got
out of the Volvo. Emmett noticed Bella holding her hand to her chest and asked what
had happened. He howled with laughter when she told him she “punched a werewolf in
the face.” Then, much to my annoyance, Rosalie mentioned the bet between Emmett and
Jasper by suggesting that Jasper would win. Bella was instantly curious. She wanted to
know what the bet was about. I didn’t want to tell her. She moved to go ask Emmett
directly, but I held her fast, and reluctantly told her that they were betting on the number

of people she killed during her first year. She was appalled; she tried to joke about it, but
her voice was halting and strained. I hugged her and assured her that she didn’t need to
be a newborn at all. I took her to Carlisle. A “fissure in one knuckle” was broken, and
Carlisle worked to fit a brace to her hand. Bella was oddly silent and preoccupied, but
she assured me she was not in pain when I asked.

       Suddenly, it was graduation day. The trepidation and anticipation that conflicted
within me over Bella’s status were postponed. Nothing would happen now until after we
fought the newborns in a few more days. I was riding with Charlie and Bella to
graduation. Charlie had thrown a fit when he realized Bella hoped to go with me alone.
He was her father and his time with her was limited; I could be generous. Bella seemed
upset or anxious in some way I didn’t understand when I got there, but there was no time
to really question her about it. We got to school, and I asked if she was alright. She told
me she was “nervous.” I told her she was beautiful, and then Charlie demanded his time
with his daughter before her high school graduation. As Bella and I walked into the gym,
we were surrounded by chaos. The principal ordered me up front, and Bella was directed
to the back. I kissed her before we parted. When I lined up among the Cs, I was
surprised that Alice wasn’t there.

       Alice still wasn’t there, and we were nearly up. Suddenly she flitted to my side.
She offered no explanation, and I read her mind with confusion and irritation. She was
translating the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” into different languages. She was
obviously trying to stop me from seeing in her mind, but the middle of our graduation
ceremony was not the time or place to force her to tell me what was going on. We went
and received our diplomas. I listened intently in case her real thoughts broke through.
But her concentration on blocking me was too strong. What would Alice be trying to
hide from me? Had she had another vision? Why wouldn’t she share that? I was
frustrated and confused. It irritated me that she left immediately after receiving her
diploma. I would have to wait until we were home, and our house would be full of
guests. But that wouldn’t stop me. I would make her tell me when Bella and I got home.

       When all the diplomas were handed out and it was over, I waded through the
crowd to get to Bella’s side. I congratulated her and wound my arms around her. She
still seemed jumpy and anxious. Her gaze darted around the room, and I asked who she
was looking for. She wondered about Alice. Some of my concern about what Alice was
hiding from me must have flashed across my face, because she asked me what I worried
about. I hesitated, and she surprised me. She asked what Alice had been thinking to
block my ability to read her mind. I told her, but now I knew that Bella knew what Alice
was hiding. I asked her to tell me. She hesitated. She told me it was her idea, but then
suggested that whatever it was could be a reason for the party to be cancelled and asked
me to remain “calm.” I felt a surge of panic, not because Bella thought something was
too much for me to handle, but because Alice had. As in immortal, Alice knew what was
frightening to us and what wasn’t. Bella always overestimated threats to us because she
was human.

       And then she told me. She thought the newborns and the stranger in her room
were connected. The stranger had been a test to get past Alice, and the things he took
were for the newborns so they could find Bella. I was stunned. Panic shot through me.
She was right. This was terrible. How could we protect Bella from an army of newborns
who were so new and were targeting her scent? She could die! Would I have to bite her
to save her from this? I had promised her she could choose. Would I go back on that? I
couldn’t think straight. Too many ideas and emotions were flooding my mind. I longed
to take Bella in my arms and run, but we were in front of people. I tried to organize my
thoughts, to get them under control, but I couldn’t. Anger and rage at the creator of this
army directed my attention. Charlie joined us, and it was too much. I couldn’t pretend in
front of Charlie. I excused myself, knowing that I had been too abrupt but unable to
control myself more than that.

       I ran to find some sense of release or exertion. It was not very satisfying.
Tanya’s family wouldn’t help us and a newborn army was coming to destroy Bella and
my family. It looked horrendous. No wonder Alice had tried to hide this from me. What
could we do? I racked my brain but couldn’t come up with anything. We needed help.

Who would help us? The situation was impossible. I realized in the throws of my
despair that Bella and Charlie should be done dinner soon, and I went to wait for her.
Bella stood by the cruiser waiting for her father who, I could tell, was engaging people in
conversation and slowly making his way out of the restaurant. I walked toward her and
pulled her to my chest. I kissed her roughly and guessed that she could feel all my
desperation in the way I held her and the kiss. I felt her heart race in my arms, and I was
heartened that even in these circumstances she could respond to me in such a way. She
asked me how I was, and I apologized for freaking out. She suggested she should have
waited to tell me, but I disagreed. Charlie was coming, so I kissed her again and told her
I would follow them to the house.

       I ran through the forest following Charlie’s car. As Charlie was driving away
from the house, I greeted Bella and encircled her in my arms and kissed her. I was so
panicked that I knew she would feel the difference in this kiss, but I couldn’t help myself.
I loved her, and she was threatened by forces that I was not sure I could protect her from.
What if this was it? What if I could be separated from her for good? My kiss was greedy
and urgent and desperate. I knew Bella knew my desperation because she refused to look
me in the eyes and redirected our efforts to surviving the party. I put my hands around
her face and promised that nothing would happen to her. Her response was that she
wasn’t worried about herself. Of course, she was worried about us, the immortals. She
was so absurd. It was part of her charm.

       I put my arm around her, and we walked into the house. Alice had outdone
herself as usual, and Bella gasped as she took in our first floor transformed into a
nightclub. I pulled Bella with me as we went to tell both Jasper and Carlisle the
connections Bella had made between the stranger in her room and the newborns. Jasper
was particularly unhappy at how things looked, but before we could get into much of a
discussion, guests started arriving. I stayed close to Bella with one arm wrapped around
her. We made the rounds, and everything seemed fine. Suddenly, Alice’s vision flashed
through my mind: newborns in Forks, our family fighting, our family out numbered,
Esme, Carlisle, and Jasper lost, ripped to pieces, and Charlie and other humans from town

killed. I let go of Bella. I had to find Alice and go over the vision with her. Bella’s gaze
followed me as I walked away. I found Alice. We went over the vision again. We were
looking for someway to turn the situation to our advantage, but we couldn’t find it. With
the newborns in Forks, we were spread too thinly trying to defend, but we couldn’t see
where to meet them that would give us an advantage. Bella followed after me, but by the
time she reached Alice, I had gone to find Carlisle.

       I was still with Carlisle when I read the most alarming and startling images as
they flashed through Alice’s mind. Jacob and two of his werewolf brothers were
threatening Bella and then Bella and Alice. Jasper moved to defend them, and Jacob
demanded to know what was going on. Alice told them, and when Jasper told them there
would be an even fight between us and the newborns, Jacob had said it wouldn’t be—
meaning the werewolves would join us, they would fight with us. Alice’s vision of
slaughter disappeared and was replaced by nothing. I suddenly appreciated how that
blindness must have bothered her. But the idea of blindness and living, blindness and
winning was euphoric. We would all take that. Both the werewolves and our family were
better protected working together; it was a strange alliance, and we would need to be
careful to make it work. The wolves would meet us for a training session that night.

       I took Bella home feeling so much more at ease by this alliance. Bella, however,
seemed more anxious than ever. She worried about all our safeties and refused to be
comforted. I tried to encourage her to stay home and sleep through the training session,
but she would not be left behind. At 3:00 AM, she was still “alert and tense,” so I pulled
her up and begged her to stay behind one last time. When she refused, I cradled her in
my arms and jumped from her room to the ground and then set her into place on my back,
and we ran to meet the others.

       As we entered the clearing, Bella unloaded another theory on me. She posited
that the stranger in her bedroom, the newborns, and Victoria were all related. She
explained her reasoning, and I was impressed with her for the second time that day. We
couldn’t be sure, but the Victoria-newborn-stranger theory had merits, and the idea of me

actually being able to lay hands on Victoria myself to kill her filled me with intense

       In the clearing, Alice was unhappy because the werewolves were coming and
blocking her vision. When I explained this to Bella, Alice stuck her tongue out at me in
response. Emmett asked if Bella was going to practice too, and I groaned; he shouldn’t
put such ideas in her head. Carlisle asked when the wolves would join us, and I told him
very shortly—and that they were coming as werewolves. Although Carlisle seemed to
accept this as necessary, Bella looked alarmed. She had never shared with me the
experiences she had at La Push that made her know werewolves were dangerous, but they
were clearly flooding her mind now. I read the terror in her face and heard her heart
accelerate at the idea of seeing the pack of werewolves. It occurred to me that this was a
good thing. If she found them again so terrifying and monstrous, then maybe she would
put distance between herself and Jacob.

       As the pack came closer, I could read their minds, its mind. It was complicated:
the individual minds and the group identity, and it had grown. There were ten
werewolves now. I told my family to get ready. I stood with Bella, holding her hand, but
as I watched Jasper and Emmett stand in front of my family, part of me longed to be with
them. There was so much to read in the mind of the pack. All the individual
experiences, the way the group mind coordinated as individual werewolves, the chain of
command, imprinting, and more. Carlisle moved to greet them, and I translated for Sam.
They would “watch and listen.” Carlisle acknowledged how difficult working with us
must be for them and explained that Jasper would instruct us.

       Carlisle explained how newborn vampires were different than us, and Jasper
explained what to watch out for in newborn attacks and how best to attack them and then
began demonstrations. All of us took turns at it, with Jasper making comments
occasionally and with the wolves watching. I watched intently and listened to Jasper’s
thoughts as he worked. First went Emmett, and then Jasper had Alice go. The wolves
were impressed with her—as they should have been. My turn with Jasper was

challenging. Though I could read his thoughts, the moves he chose caught me off-guard,
and neither one of us was able to gain the advantage. Carlisle finally put an end to our
session, so that Jasper could continue with the others. We had been at it for hours, and
the sky was beginning to lighten. I could tell Bella was exhausted, and I wanted to get
her home. Jasper seemed to be wrapping up the session. He told the werewolves we
could be practicing again the following night which I acknowledged for Sam. Then Sam
requested that the werewolves be allowed to smell each of us, so they were familiar with
our individual scents—a precaution so that they would not to confuse us with any of the
newborns. I told everyone to “hold very still” while the pack did this.

       Bella revived herself as the werewolves came near us, and I watched her intently.
Did she know Jacob in his wolf form? What would her reaction be? I could tell that
Jacob was curious about Bella’s reaction as well. Bella identified Jacob easily, and Jacob
knew it. He grinned at her, and she stared at him, and I felt his excitement. He moved
out of his place in the pack and came toward Bella. He glanced at me, and though I felt
nothing but repulsion and loathing, I kept my face emotionless. He stood in front of her
and brought his face down to be level with hers. She called his name and stretched out
her hand to touch his face. It was almost unbearable to watch. She wasn’t repulsed or
horrified; she was as curious as ever, and she was touching him. I fought for control. I
wanted to attack him or at the very least to grab her and take her way. He was a monster.
Why couldn’t she see that? The pleasure that Jacob was taking in this encounter made it
all the more disgusting to endure. No! Ugh! He licked her face. I clenched my hands
into fists and restrained myself from running over and tearing his throat out; it was very
difficult. I held my breath and fought for control. Bella was, at least, repulsed by the lick
and jumped back and hit him. Did this count as kissing her without her permission? I
wasn’t sure. Jacob certainly was pleased with himself. He laughed, and Bella seemed to
forgive him for his liberty because she laughed too. We were all looking at them, Jacob
and Bella. My family members were appalled that Bella could be so familiar with a dog,
but the pack members were also highly uncomfortable. They didn’t understand Jacob’s
obsession with Bella who they clearly associated with me and with us. I took some small
comfort in the fact that they disapproved so thoroughly. The pack was withdrawing, but

Jacob remained near Bella. I resigned myself and crossed over to Bella, reaching for her
hand as soon as I was close enough.

        I asked Bella if she was ready to go home, but Jacob intruded. He wanted to
know what would happen with Bella during the battle. I told him I hadn’t worked it out
yet. It would be complicated to find a good place to hide her, but I assured him I would
make sure she was safe. Jacob was still a wolf, so I was reading his thoughts and
answering his questions. Bella was only getting half of the conversation, and she wanted
to know what we were talking about. Jacob wanted to speak out loud, so he ran to the
trees to transform back into human form. Bella wanted to know why he left, and I
explained that he would return. When he returned, he wanted more details. Hiding Bella
would be complicated, I explained. The newborns had her scent; they could follow her.
They would pick up our scent together, Bella’s and mine, and they could follow that too.
Jacob suggested leaving her at La Push with some of the younger werewolves, but again
she had been there too often. Bella was outraged that we were trying to figure out what
to “do” with her during the battle. She worried about Charlie, but Jacob said that he
would have Billy get Charlie to the reservation. I returned to trying to explain the
complications. Young vampires were coming to hunt Bella—that Alice saw, but they
had a creator. Where would the creator be? Would the creator be trying to use the
newborn attack as a diversion. Bella had to be hidden somewhere she hadn’t been
before. Jacob suggested somewhere deep in the forest. The problem was how to get her
there without leaving a clear trail right to her; it didn’t seem possible.

        Bella was too tired for this; I wanted to get her home, but then Jacob came up
with an interesting idea. If he carried Bella, would her scent be obscured by his? We
could test it right there. Since I was more powerfully aware of Bella’s scent than any of
my family members, I called Jasper over. I hated the idea of Jacob carrying her, of him
holding her in his arms, but if he could obscure her scent, we would have a way to make
her disappear, scent-wise anyway. Jacob tried to explain this to Bella, and I told her she
would have to let Jacob carry her. She looked uncomfortable with idea, and I was glad.
It helped to know she didn’t want to do this. I explained the test to Jasper, and Jacob

took off with Bella. Jasper and Alice followed them after a few moments. It was a
“success.” Bella scent was obscured by the dog stench. Jasper came up with the idea of
having Bella leave a false trail that would position the newborns exactly where we
wanted them. Alice saw that the false trail idea would work. Then, Jacob could take
Bella into the forest and hide her. Much of the conversation was done in my head, which
Jacob found annoying. I explained it to Bella. We, Jacob, Alice, Jasper, and I, were all
excited by these new plans and the prospect of the coming battle. I actually found myself
smiling at Jacob’s enthusiasm. Jasper’s next thought alarmed me, and I said “no”
immediately. Alice demanded an explanation. If Bella was actually in the clearing, the
newborns would go wild, and it would make it easier to destroy them. Jasper
backtracked from the idea under my strong disapproval, and Jasper and Alice wander off
to practice some more. Jacob was appalled by Jasper’s suggestion, and I tried to explain
Jasper’s unique point of view, based on his military and newborn army training.

       Jacob had another good idea. Seth Clearwater could stay with Bella during the
battle in his wolf form—that way Seth, and Bella by extension, would be connected to
the pack mind. We, those of us fighting in the clearing, would know if there was any
danger to Seth and Bella instantly and be able to react. We explained all of this to Bella,
but she was nearly too tired to process it all. I looked at my beautiful Bella, and I
wondered if I could stand to be away from her during the battle even with all the
precautions we were making. What if they weren’t enough? I couldn’t bear to think of
it. Jacob and I mused over our alliance, and then I took Bella home. I carried her
knowing that she would fall asleep on the way. She smelled like dog, but that was going
to protect her. I tried to concentrate on that aspect of the stench.

       Bella slept very restlessly. She called out in her sleep. Though she said my name
and obviously dreamed about me, her dreams must have shifted to images or anxieties
about the coming battle. She called Jasper’s name and thrashed in her sleep. She said
something about a third wife, but I didn’t understand the reference. She seemed to wake
up at different times but would roll over and drift into sleep again. When she finally did
wake up, it was late afternoon, and I asked her she was really awake. She was surprised

to realize it was so late in the day. I soothed her by saying she had a late night. She got
up, and I watched her carefully as we went down stairs. As she ate, I noticed the bracelet
on her left wrist. A silver chain with a carved wooden wolf charm on it. Jealousy and
indignation flashed through me. Jacob was testing my control, but I carefully composed
my face and struggled to show the right emotions in my eyes. I could use his gift to get
her to accept a gift of my own, but only if I was careful. I knew the charm I wanted to
give her. It was a heart shaped diamond that had been my mother’s. She would never
accept it if she knew it was a diamond. I would let her assume it was a crystal, but it
would outshine the wooden wolf in more ways than one, I thought with satisfaction. I
asked to examine the charm; she looked apprehensive. I moved the conversation from
the fact that Jacob could give her gifts to the fact that she didn’t want gifts from me, and I
got her to agree to accept a “hand-me-down” gift to put on the bracelet to remind her of
me. I loved her so, and she loved me desperately. She thought I was too good for her,
that she didn’t “deserve” me. It was the other way around, of course. My thoughts
returned to heart shaped diamond; one diamond accepted. If only I could use her
desperate love, to get her to accept my engagement ring, the diamond that mattered most
to me, that would show my possession of her and her belonging to me to all the world.

       My phone rang. It was Alice. Having listened to Bella’s dreams all night, I was
not surprised by Alice’s latest vision of Bella wondering lost in the forest trying to find
the battle. I told her I would sort it out with Bella. Then I asked Bella what she was
planning. She hesitated and looked uncomfortable. Finally, she told me that she wanted
to be in the clearing, to follow Jasper’s idea; she wanted to help. She had thought of a
way; she would have Seth take her down to the battle—he would want to go as much as
she did. I told her Sam would order Seth not to do that; she found an argument against
that, but I told her Jacob could order Seth to stay put too as second in command. That
stumped her; she knew Jacob didn’t want her in the clearing any more than I did. I tried
to divert her attention by discussing interesting things I had learned about the pack and
the individual members. It worked for a while; she was genuinely interested, and who
wouldn’t be. I found the pack dynamics engrossing, but she brought the conversation
back to the battle. She said she “had to be” there. I said “no.” I tried to comfort her and

tell her there was nothing to fear; we had the situation completely under control. We
would easily destroy the newborns, and none of us would be hurt. And then she surprised
me. She asked to either be in the clearing or for me to stay with her; she said that she
couldn’t bear to be apart from me again, couldn’t bear not knowing if I was okay or not.
I froze and stopped breathing for a moment. I looked at her; she was truly ashamed to be
asking this of me.

       I looked into her eyes for a long while. The faces of my family members flashed
through my mind, and I felt panic and fear for them. Those images were followed by the
zombie images of Bella Jacob had forced on me and the memories of what Alice had
heard and seen herself. Bella, my Bella. Helpless and devastated by my absence. I
couldn’t inflict that kind of pain on her again, not even for a short a time as the battle
would take. In truth, it would be unbearable for me to be away from her as well. What if
something went wrong with the plan? What if some how a newborn got to her or the
creator? Seth wasn’t enough. It would be difficult to miss the battle, but I would do
anything for Bella. I called Alice to ask her to sit with Bella while I talked to Jasper.
Bella felt so guilty; she apologized. I told her we were compromising—of her two
suggestions, I had picked the one I could bear. She put her head against my chest, and I
leaned down to kiss her hair. We were silent for a while. Though I envied the others for
the fight I would miss, I realized that Bella thought I was making a tremendous sacrifice
for her, and that was to my advantage. Then, I remembered her reference to a third wife
in her dreams. I asked her about it, but Alice arrived, and I didn’t get the explanation I
wanted. Alice already knew that I had agreed to stay with Bella for the battle, of course.
She had informed the others and taunted me by telling me how the news had amused
Emmett. I left to talk to Jasper and the others anyway.

       Everyone thought Bella’s fears where silly, but they also knew the pain I had put
her through when we left. Everyone was comfortable with me skipping the battle if it
provided Bella with what she needed. Emmett enjoyed teasing the hell out of me about
it, but in his thoughts he was also intensely happy for me—that I was so completely
absorbed by Bella and she with me that we couldn’t and wouldn’t be separated from each

other. He had that with Rosalie, and he was glad for me to have it too. Both Carlisle and
Jasper were uncomfortable with the unknown factor of the creator. We knew the plan of
the newborns to attack Forks, but the creator was being very careful to hide from us, and
that was ominous. Their apprehension over the creator gave me another reason to feel
okay with staying with Bella.

       I returned to see Bella. As I got close to the house, I could hear the arrangements
that Alice had made. Bella would have a sleep over with lonesome Alice and a Saturday
shopping spree in Olympia while the rest of us hiked—celebrating graduation. Alice and
I hung out with Bella and Charlie for a while, and then we left early. Charlie hoped I
enjoyed myself hiking, and I thanked him. Alice went home, and I waited for Bella in
her room. We were meeting the werewolves again tonight but much earlier which was
good, because Bella needed to get a decent night of sleep. Bella thought Alice was
kidnapping her with the whole sleepover-shopping spree story, but I told her that I was.
Since I was staying with her for the battle, I didn’t need to hunt the night before, so we
would be alone in my house for the evening. She was suddenly quiet, and with a pang of
fear, I wondered if the idea would scare her, but she assured me that her only regret was
that it wasn’t a two day sleep over. Relief washed over me, and I laughed.

       I carried Bella to the clearing; the wolves and my family were already there. Only
three wolves were there tonight, Jacob, Quil, and Embry. I explained that with the pack
mind sharing thoughts and memories, not all of them needed to be there to get the
information they needed. They had all come last night because they didn’t trust us or the
success of the experiment, but since it had gone well last night, they were content to send
a smaller contingent. Jacob was willing to come alone, but Sam didn’t trust us that much,
so Jacob had company. Bella wanted to know if I would be helping Jasper again, and I
told her if he needed me to. I realized that Jacob thought that Bella was uncomfortable.
His response to his assessment was to leave Quil and Embry and cross over to us. I
greeted him, and he whined softly looking into Bella’s eyes. She said she was fine but
worried. I translated Jacob’s thoughts; he wanted to know why. He growled at my
translation; his original statement had been more blunt, but I had edited. Bella started to

tell him that there were things to be worried about. Jasper wanted some help, so I
excused myself. I looked at her for a moment; her attraction to the dog was mystifying. I
wished she would get over it. Then I turned away from them and walked over to help
Jasper. On the way home, I asked Bella to try and relax. The next evening we would
spend alone, and during that time, I wanted her to think about only us, just her and me.
She promised she would try.

       Bella had set off from her house alone in the truck, to meet Alice for the sleep
over, and I had joined her in the truck once she was out of view of the house. She was
quiet and nervous. I was a little nervous too. I wanted her to agree to marry me, and I
hoped that with this night alone with no one in danger of listening or walking in on us,
that I could convince her. As soon as she turned off the engine, I was at her door and
pulling her into my arms and kissing her. The prospect of the whole evening alone
together was suddenly tantalizing. I wanted her. I carried her into the house. Her
breathe became uneven under my lips; we kissed further, eagerly, until it was time to
break apart, to maintain some control. I welcomed her home. She liked the way it
sounded, calling my home her home, and it thrilled me that she liked it. I set her down,
and she put her arms around me. I wanted to give her her “hand-me-down” and asked if I
should go get it from my room. She took my hand and suggested we both go, so I
cradled her in my arms and raced to my room with her. I set her down and grabbed the
heart charm from the closet. She walked to the golden bed and sat down, scooting to the
center of the bed. I joined her on the bed and reminded her that it was a “hand-me-down”
and then took her wrist and fastened the charm into place opposite the wolf. She looked
at it curiously and then gasped as it caught in the light and sparkled. I explained that it
was mother’s and the ways it was a good representation of me (hard, cold, sparkling in
sunlight, silent, and hers). She thought it was “beautiful” and thanked me for the charm
and my heart. I was elated that she would accept the gift “so easily.” She leaned her
head against me, and I held her—inhaling her scent and feeling the delightful warmth of
her body against mine.

       She was quiet for a moment and then told me she wanted to talk to me. She
mentioned the compromise we had come to about the battle and said she wanted to
discuss a compromise on another subject. I invited her to continue, and her heart started
racing. It made me very curious. I listened intently. She asked about my marriage
condition and asked if there could be compromise on that. I said “no”—taking her
humanity away was a huge “concession” on my part. Marriage was what I would
exchange for that. She went over it again. To change her myself, I demanded that she
marry me first. I smiled and surprised her by adding “to start with.” She struggled to
compose herself wanting to know what else, and I mentioned tuition money, time, and a
new car. But I was too curious now. What did she want? Her face flushed, and she
looked away from me, hiding her eyes. It was painful not knowing, and I told her so.
She started talking about being a newborn and her bloodlust. She didn’t think she would
be herself anymore; she feared that her feelings toward me would be different. I told her
the bloodlust would pass. She wanted to do something while she was still human. I
promised her she could have whatever she wanted. I begged her to tell me. I didn’t
understand what she wanted. She told me she wanted me, and I answered back that I was
hers. She started kissing me. I still didn’t get it. Then her hands struggled with the
buttons on my shirt, and I felt them shaking from her anxiety and awkwardness, and I
froze. I knew what she was asking—what I wanted too—what I had been fantasizing
about for over a year. Though I wanted it more than anything, I didn’t see how it was
possible. I would hurt her; I could kill her. Her active participation would drive me wild,
and I would be beyond control.

       The torrent of emotions that filled my mind at the idea of making love to Bella
were still crashing against each other as I pushed away from her. I told her “no”; we
would not discuss this. She fought me and started to un-button her shirt. I caught her
wrists in my hands and refused to let them go. We argued further, but my answer
remained firm. And then she was crying, and I realized with sudden horror that she
thought I didn’t want her that way. I wrapped my arms around her and tried to assure her
that I wanted her exactly that way, but that her safety was more important. I tried to
change the subject, but she redirected right back to the topic of our having sex. I tried to

think this through. She wanted this, and I wanted it. She was willing, it seemed, to
marry me if I agreed at this, to us making love while she was still human. Was this
possible? Did I have enough control for this? I thought that I did. I was after all
intimately involved with her already, a human girl. I hadn’t killed Bella, my singer, the
day we met. I had learned to control my thirst for her blood so much so that I could
touch her and kiss her. I had tasted her blood and stopped without killing her. And she
would marry me. In fact, if I agreed to sex with her as a human but demanded that we
got married first (as is traditional after all), we could be married all the sooner, and Bella
would be mine.

       I let her argue with me about it, and then she pleaded with me—begging for us to
try and promising to marry me in return, agreeing to accept tuition money and a car. I
told her that her pleading was painful to me—and it was painful to the part of me that was
uncertain, that knew there was a risk in agreeing to this, but another part of me marveled
that I had her begging for the very thing I wanted most, after having her as my wife. My
tortured conflict, which was genuine on my part—in some ways, was a powerful lure,
and she was powerless against it. I hesitated; she pleaded again, and then she started
kissing me. I held her face to mine and kissed her back. I couldn’t contain all of the
excitement that I felt; she would agree to marry me and we would make love. I felt dizzy
at my triumph. I felt her body respond to my urgency. Her heart raced and her body
trembled against mine. She pulled away gasping for air, and then started kissing me
again. She tried to reach the front of her shirt again, and my hands stopped her. She was
confused, and I explained that we would try but not tonight. She wanted to know why
when we were by ourselves in an empty house. I told her she had to go first—after she
married me, we would try to make love. She tried to protest, to argue that we shouldn’t
wait. I pulled her to me and kissed her carefully, passionately, trying to take away all her
resistance. She responded to me fully, kissing and touching me greedily.

       Suddenly, I caught a new scent, and I struggled to suppress the overwhelming
sense of sexual frenzy that the scent induced. I had aroused her so much this time that
her body was preparing to receive mine into hers, and I could smell the secretions from

her glands, the natural lubricants that would make it easier for my penis to enter her body.
I longed to feel, taste, and touch the moisture of those secretions. For few moments, I felt
out of my mind as I kissed her fiercely, but I reigned it in and steadied myself.

       As she regained her senses, she showed her annoyance; I had trumped her
success. She had gotten what she wanted, but I had gotten what I wanted too (more than
she realized). I said the word, “engaged,” and she protested. I looked at her and asked if
she was reneging. I was too happy and amused to hide the emotions on my face. She
said that she wasn’t, though her resistance was obvious. I wanted to know if she was
happy at all about our compromise, and I kissed her again as passionately as I could
hoping that I could eliminated this resistance. I wanted her to want to marry me as much
as I wanted her to want to make love to me. I didn’t get my way; she was focused on the
making love part, and I decided I could live with that for now. Then I teased her about
the traditional gender attitudes about marriage and sex. She made another stab at our
trying that night, but I repeated that we would wait. Then she saw through part of my
scheming. She said that I always got what I wanted; I always won, and I had used our
making love to get her to marry me, and I admitted it. She guessed at something else, my
protection of our “virtue” though she didn’t understand why. I explained that though she
believed I had a soul and could go to heaven, I was not sure. Heaven in the human world
required adherence to the Ten Commandments, and I had broken most of those. Though
I would try to make sure that she didn’t break the Commandments even as a vampire,
there was our virtue. Since sex before marriage was considered sinful, we could both
have that on our side if heaven turned out to be a possibility.

       She made me affirm that we would not try to have sex until we were married, and
she accused me of using that to speed up the wedding. I fought my smile and admitted
that her desire for me was to my advantage. She grumbled and thought about what
everyone would think, her parents, her friends. She imagined the gossip, but she was
imagining it, marrying me this summer. I told her it didn’t need to be a big deal; we
could go to Las Vegas; I just wanted it to be official—“that you belong to me and no one
else.” She grumbled some more, and I surprised her by asking if she wanted her ring.

She didn’t; she didn’t even want to see it. I felt the disappointment flood my face before
I could hide it. She tried to please me by asking to see it, but I refused. I only wanted to
show it to her if she wanted to see it. Then, she pleaded with me, and I got it for her. I
explained that it was my mother’s engagement ring. She said it was beautiful, and I
asked her to try it on—just for sizing purposes. She agreed reluctantly, and I couldn’t
help myself. I took her left hand and put the ring on her third finger. I felt like I would
explode with satisfaction. I tried to keep my face composed. I was afraid that the depth
of my emotion might frighten her. We both looked at it on her finger. She guessed that I
liked the ring on her finger, and I agreed. She looked into my eyes, and I felt my control
slip. The staggering happiness I felt at having her bond herself to me officially must have
been apparent because her breath caught. I kissed her firmly and told her how much I
liked it. She had accepted my ring; there was just one part missing. I asked her if I could
do something and warned her to be nice. Then I bent down on one knee and proposed to
her, and she accepted.

       In the morning, I left Bella to use the bathroom and get dressed. I had made sure
there were muffins and fruit for her for breakfast, and after she ate, we spent the morning
listening to music and talking. The idea of this as our routine in the near future made me
all the more desirous of it. Around noon, my family returned. Alice, of course, had seen
the highlights of what Bella and I had agreed to last night and their future implications,
and her sensibilities were completely offended by the idea of a drive-thru wedding in Las
Vegas. She was pouting and trying to get to Bella to convince her of a more traditional
wedding. I was unhappy about this. Bella was hesitant enough—a big wedding arranged
by Alice could frighten her into rejecting the whole thing—and I had worked so hard to
get Bella to agree. Alice asked Bella to speak with her alone. I raised objections; we
argued. Bella chimed in that she would talk to Alice. I left them to talk not knowing
what to expect. Not only could I hear Alice coercing Bella, but I could hear Alice’s
thoughts as well. Bella didn’t want Alice’s vision of a wedding. Alice was right. A
traditional wedding with Bella was what I wanted more than anything, but if the only way
Bella would marry me was by going to Vegas, I would take it.

        Bella fought Alice on the wedding. Bella didn’t agree, but Alice was confident
that she would get her way in the end. Bella was upset. She demanded that I come
forward to answer for this. I thought she was going to yell at me, but when she read the
anxiety on my face, her face softened and she wrapped her arms around me and leaned
her head into my chest. I whispered “Vegas” in her ear. Alice countered, and we
squabbled over what we wanted. Then Alice asked about the ring and took Bella’s
ringless hand; Alice was confused, and she mentioned the ring would be only “one more
diamond.” I frantically tried to silence her. Bella would be uncomfortable if she knew
the heart charm was a diamond, and I wanted her to have both, the heart and my ring.
Alice finally got it and diverted our attention to camping and the coming storm. Alice
warned me the weather would be cold, and I began packing supplies in the garage. I gave
Bella my phone so she could call Jacob and tell him when to meet us. When Bella got off
the phone, I took her to the clearing to lay the false trail.

        She was inventive—pulling loose strands of her hair out to strengthen the trail. I
tried to tell her that she didn’t need to cave to Alice’s wedding plans. I told her I wanted
whatever she wanted. She stayed silent, so I suggested that Emmett could marry us. She
liked that. Then she fell and cut her hand. She told me to stay away because she
assumed the smell of her exposed blood would be too much for me—like when she cut
herself at her eighteenth birthday at our house. I assured her I was fine. Having believed
that I had lost her, that she had died, had fundamentally changed my approach to the lure
of her scent and blood. Her blood couldn’t compete with my love for her and my desire
to protect her—to be with her always. Before she would let me treat her hand, she
marked the false trail with her blood—proud of herself for being so thorough, and then
she let me treat her hand.

        The false trail was laid, and it was time to meet Jacob. I hated this part. I hated
thinking about Bella in his arms, against his bare chest, for the distance it would take to
get to the hiding place. More than that, I hated knowing how much pleasure he would
take in having her in his arms and his desperate hopes that he could still influence her
enough to choose him. The only thing that made it bearable was that she had agreed to

marry me. She was mine in an absolute way—or that’s how it felt to me. He could make
his plays—but only for a limited time and only until he knew we were committed. Jacob
met us at the edge of the clearing. I showed him on a map where I wanted him to take
Bella. Though Jacob was obviously excited about this opportunity to be with Bella, she
was so resistant that I didn’t feel as threatened as I thought I might. I left them to make
my own way to the camp site. She agreed to marry me, I kept telling myself. I just
needed to make sure Jacob knew she was mine. I hoped an opportunity to tell him
presented itself soon. Perhaps Bella would tell him. I wasn’t going to hold my breath for
that though. She wasn’t wearing my ring yet; she wasn’t ready to go public. I could
wait. One step at a time.

       I ran through the forest. I tried to concentrate on all the things I had gained, but I
didn’t like being separated from Bella, and more than that I didn’t like Jacob being alone
with her—with Bella in his arms—however necessary and strategic it was for him to be
masking her scent. It was so more intimate than I ever wanted him to be with her, my
Bella. I got to the cliff face and set about securing the tent in a sheltered crevice. I tried
to distract myself, but the waiting was painful. And then they were there. I stopped
pacing and flew to Bella, pulling her to my chest and embracing her. She smelled like
dog, but she was safe, and we were together again. I thanked Jacob, and he left, to
transform into his wolf form and hang out in the woods, commenting on the severity of
the coming storm as he did.

       And it was bad. The temperature dropped more than I thought possible. We were
in the tent. Bella was wrapped in both the jacket and the sleeping bag, but they weren’t
enough. She was freezing cold, and it was the middle of the night. We had hours left to
endure before sunrise. I kept my distance from her—not willing to risk making her
colder. I didn’t see how she could make it, but breaking camp to take her home where
she could get warm would cause problems. It would be colder outside our shelter in the
raging storm. Also, we would have to mask her scent again, and we would risk three sets
of trails to this spot (if we continued to use it), instead of the one. But she was too cold.

I suggested we leave, but Bella understood the difficulties of breaking camp and
stubbornly refused. Her refusal should have made me take her home, but I hesitated.

       Even Jacob was worried. And then Jacob’s thoughts shocked me. At first, he
simply wanted to bring her the jacket he brought. Once he was inside the tent and he saw
her, his thoughts changed, and I wanted to kill him. He wanted to warm her through
body contact—his monstrously over-heated body pressed to hers. The thought nearly
made me mad with fury. I couldn’t control my voice. We exchanged hostile remarks.
As he started to unzip her sleeping bag, I couldn’t control myself, and I reached out and
grabbed his shoulder. He told me to “get off.” I forced myself to gain some control. He
was right, of course. Bella was too cold, and the only sources of heat we had here were
human and werewolf body heat. It made sense; it was just the most repugnant thing that I
could think of. I told him to keep his hands away from her and to watch himself. Ugh!
He was getting a real kick out of my jealousy and anger. I seethed with anger. Bella
suddenly seemed to realize his intentions and resisted, but she was too cold. I had the
satisfaction of seeing Jacob’s response to the touch of her freezing hands and feet. Poor
Bella, she was freezing. As much as I hated this, it was better that she was warm. Jacob
taunted me off and on as Bella warmed up enough to actually become sleepy. Before she
fell asleep, she asked Jacob about the length of his wolf hair, why his was thicker and
longer than the others’. He didn’t want to answer; he was growing his hair longer
because she liked it that way, but he didn’t want to admit it. I laughed at his thoughts,
and he blurted out his reason because he didn’t want me to reveal it to her.

       Seth arrived at the camp site as a wolf and stayed in the trees. As Bella drifted off
to sleep, Jacob got himself comfortable, and his thoughts drifted. I couldn’t take them,
and I demanded that he control his thoughts. I had never visualized Jacob with Bella in
the ways he had; I had only visualized the two of us together explicitly, things we had
done together and things I fantasized about doing together. Jacob had kissed her once,
but he had obviously spent a lot of time fantasizing about Bella and imagining them
together. The explicitness of the images he thought were clear and graphic, and seeing
them half naked in the sleeping bag, caressing each other, kissing each other, was more

than I could bear. Jacob felt both embarrassment and anger as he realized that I was
reading his thoughts. The taunting and goading continued, and I tried to ignore him.
Then Jacob wondered if I would let him “see inside” my head since I pried into his
without his permission. I said that I would, and I meant it. I owed Jacob, for Bella when
we left Forks and for tonight for keeping her warm. There were so many questions, I
didn’t know where to begin, so I asked him.

       He wanted to know about my jealousy. I admitted that it was very strong but that
it was worse when Bella was with him alone. Jacob’s jealousy was so bad away from
Bella that he found it difficult to do anything else in her absence. He wondered how
often Bella thought of him, and I told often—“more often than I like.” I also told him
that I knew he manipulated her through his happiness and pain. He was unrepentant—
and said that he had “to use whatever” he had. He insisted that Bella was in love with
him too—she just didn’t “know it.” He wanted to know if I wanted to be able to read her
mind. I admitted that I sometimes wanted to read her mind, but that I preferred her to be
“happy,” and she was happy that I couldn’t read her mind. We realized that we had a
truce of sorts—in both wanting Bella safe and warm. He came back to the topic of our
jealousy, and I chided him for showing his so obviously. He granted that I had more
patience than he did, and I told him my patience came from “a hundred years of waiting
for her.” He asked about why I let Bella see him, and I told him that mostly I was
worried about her safety, that she would get hurt trying to see him. He asked what I
would do if Bella chose him, and I answered that I didn’t know. He asked if I would try
to kill him, and I told him I wouldn’t because it would hurt Bella. We both considered
the how much we might like to kill the other. Then Jacob asked what it was like to lose
Bella, and I tried to explain how I felt when I had left her, but I couldn’t describe how I
felt when I thought she had died. He asked about my desire to keep Bella human, and
again I tried to explain the four possibilities I saw for Bella and me when I realized that I
loved her (1, that she wasn’t attracted to me and lived her life without me, 2, that she
lived her human life allowing me to accompany her, 3, that she was forced into the first,
and 4, that she joined me and we lived as vampires together).

       Jacob tried to convince me to leave Bella again, to force her into possibility one,
to let her live her human life without me. He said he had a plan. I conceded that was a
good plan—possibly as sick and twisted as my some of my own plans for Bella had been
(though I would never admit that). I told him that I had thought about the possibility of
him and Bella; I had asked Alice about it, but Alice couldn’t see it, because “she
[couldn’t] see [him].” I told him I wouldn’t leave Bella again unless she wanted me to.
He asked about what I would do if Bella chose him, and I told him that “I would let her
go” but that I would be watching and waiting, ready to return to her if she wanted me or
needed me. Then I asked him about the story told at the bonfire about a third wife. As he
thought about the story, I could understand it, and I groaned. A human woman who
sacrificed herself to save the werewolves and her tribe—of course Bella would focus on
the third wife. I told Jacob why I wished they hadn’t told Bella that story, and explained
it was part of the reason I was staying with Bella during the battle. She would put herself
at risk to help or save any of us. Our conversation trailed off, the taunting and goading
continuing on both sides.

       It was a long night. Bella murmured my name to the intense irritation of Jacob.
After a while, he drifted off to sleep as well. There was a tough period when Jacob was
dreaming and his unconscious mind pulled up images of himself and Bella that were even
more revolting to me than the ones earlier. Then Bella said Jacob’s name in her sleep,
and I was seized with pain and jealousy so intense I felt like I couldn’t see straight. I
paced a little and consoled myself with thinking through different ways of killing and
dismembering him. When Bella woke up, her nervous eyes sought mine. I tried to
conceal my emotions, but I don’t think I was convincing. The stress of the hours of her
in Jacob’s arms was too much to hide. She struggled to free herself, but she couldn’t.
She asked for my help, and I couldn’t help myself. I unzipped the sleeping bag violently
knowing that I would dump the sleeping dog onto the cold floor, and I didn’t care. That’s
not true; I did care. I wanted some way to punish him for his familiarity with my fiancée.

       When Jacob hit the floor, he rolled onto Bella, smashing onto her. Some part of
me realized that this was an unintentional move on his part, but my rage and anger were

such I that I snapped. I grabbed him and threw him to the other side of the tent. Then we
were both growling at each other, and I wanted the fight more than anything. Bella
yelled for us to stop. I wrapped my arm around her, and just touching her again had a
soothing effect. She got me to apologize to Jacob, and the taunting between us, Jacob
and me, began again. He said that last night was the best night of his life and asked me if
it was the worst of mine. The worst night of my life was the night I thought Bella was
dead, so, no, last night was not the worst. But I answered back that even if I had been
able to warm Bella in the sleeping bag last night, it would not have made the “top ten”
best nights of my life. That was too much information for him, and he excused himself
from our presence. Bella tried to get him to stay, but he wouldn’t for which I was
intensely grateful.

       Bella and I sat together waiting for the battle to begin. I suggested distracting her
and ran my fingers along her face, but she shivered. It was still too cold for me to risk
making her colder by physical contact. She asked what my “ten best nights” were. I
laughed and asked her to guess. I was overjoyed that she had chosen this as something to
do. Bella obviously thought that Jacob had left and was far away by now, but he hadn’t.
He was lingering, and he was listening to our conversation. My best night ever was the
night Bella agreed to marry me, and if he lingered long enough, he would hear that and
know that Bella and I were engaged, that she was mine. She said she could only think of
her best nights. Better, I thought. Bella’s best nights would hurt Jacob more than mine.
I encouraged her to continue. She named the first night she had known that I stayed with
her all night, and I agreed that was one of mine. Then she asked nervously what she had
said in her sleep last night. I told her that she had said my name but that at the end she
had said “Jacob” and “my Jacob.” She tried to look into my eyes to gauge my reaction,
but I wouldn’t let her. She told me that was how she classified the Jacob who drove her
nuts and the Jacob who was her friend. I didn’t like it, but that explanation was better
than the one I had created in my head that had Bella reciprocating Jacob’s feelings and
lust for her, and I had the satisfaction of hearing Jacob’s disappointment at her

        We returned to favorite nights. Another of hers was the night we flew home from
Italy. It was one of mine as well. Another was the night after returning from Italy, and
again I agreed it was one of mine. She wondered if she had guessed my best night, and I
told her that my best night was the night she agreed to marry me, and then I asked her if it
was on her list, and she agreed it was hesitantly. Jacob was still listening, and I could
feel his pain. His howl erupted through the stillness. Bella realized what the noise was
and why Jacob cried out in pain. She asked me if I had known he was listening, and I
admitted it. I told her that I thought he deserved “to know.” She wasn’t angry at me; she
was angry at herself. She was tormented by the fact that she had caused him pain. I tried
to comfort her and placed my arms around her. She started out to find him to talk to him.
I couldn’t let her. I grabbed her wrist and wouldn’t let her go. I apologized, but she
wouldn’t be consoled; she started crying.

        How did I make this right? I was glad that he was in pain. I was glad that he
knew she had agreed to marry me. What did she need here? She needed me, and yet she
needed him to be happy. Jacob had asked me when I had decided “to play the very
patient good guy.” That was the answer. I would play the self-sacrificing, patient good
guy. It was good thing I was a brilliant liar. This would take all my control and all my
acting skills to pull off. But if I could pull it off, I would eliminate Jacob as a threat,
make Bella see me as the most generous and unselfish person in the world, and get to
marry Bella. I concentrated on these goals and steeled myself for the almost unbearable
things I would need to do.

        I asked her if she wanted me to try and bring him back. She said yes, and I
disappeared to get him. I ran through the forest following his sent and searching for his
mind. I found him quickly; he was too upset to be running fast. He heard me approach
and turned to face me, pain and fury clear on his face. He growled at me, his whole
frame shaking with the rage he felt, and then he asked me what I wanted. I told him that
Bella was upset that he was upset and that I had agreed to come after him and request that
he return. He was surprised; he couldn’t imagine why I would do such a thing even if
Bella wanted me too. I didn’t explain myself. I just asked him to return, and he agreed.

I could hear his thoughts. He was desperate now. She had agreed to marry me. He
would do anything to give her a reason not to. Though rage rippled through me, I knew
that I had to let this play out and not seem mad about it. He was going to kiss her again.
He was going to try to force her to see that she loved him, and though I wanted to turn on
him and rip his head off for entertaining these thoughts, I knew I had to pretend that I
would let Bella make the choice between us. I had to pretend that I would let her choose
Jacob if she wanted to. She had to feel like she had a sense of agency and was choosing
me willingly even though I had carefully manipulated her into choosing me from the very
first week we met.

       Jacob and I ran through the forest. Each absorbed in his own thoughts. He tried
not to think some of his—so I wouldn’t know them, but I had a good sense of them by the
time we arrived. My face was carefully controlled as I stepped out of the trees to meet
Bella. Seth greeted me—there was information from the pack that he needed to share
with me. Alice had seen that the Volturi would show up today, and I needed Seth to lock
that down a little better. Then I addressed Bella. I told her that Seth and I needed to
coordinate with the pack and that we would go into the woods to do this. I told her I
would not listen to her conversation with Jacob and suggested that she had a decision to
make. I knew she didn’t completely understand, but I left her there to talk with Jacob.

       Seth and I went into the woods, and Seth got Sam to ask Alice about the
timeframe of the Volturi arrival. It would be close. As soon as the battle in the clearing
was over, Bella and I needed to rejoin my family in the clearing so we wouldn’t tempt
Jane to look for Bella and me alone—and the wolves would need to be go back to La
Push. The Volturi shouldn’t know about the wolves. We only had about twenty minutes
between the end of the battle and the Volturi arrival.

       When I returned to the tent, Bella was laying on the sleeping bag clearly in a state
of distress. She didn’t realize that I knew, and she had no idea that I was going to use this
to make myself look better in her eyes. I asked if she was alright. She said no and that
she wanted to die. I told her that I wouldn’t “allow it.” I was such a control freak that I

would never give her choices over things that affected her life so significantly. I asked
about Jacob, and she told me that he went to the battle. The pack mind flooded my mind
through Seth, and I could see that all of them could see what had happened between Bella
and Jacob. Most were revolted. Poor Seth was nearly sick—having had to watch it first
hand and then relive it through Jacob’s thoughts. Knowing before hand, made it easier to
control my emotions. I hated watching it first hand, but I had a role to play, and I played
it well. I told Bella I wasn’t mad at her or Jacob—but I credited him with fighting dirtier
than I did. She wanted me to be mad at her, but I wouldn’t. I played the self-sacrificing,
patient, good guy to a T. I reminded her that she was human, and I was not. I suggested
that her life with me was incomplete and that Jacob could complete that. I told her that
she loved him, and she answered me back by saying that she loved me more. She begged
me to be mad at her, but I wouldn’t. It was working; she completely saw me as selfless
and generous beyond what she deserved.

       She threw herself at me, demanding me, all of me. I fought to keep from smiling
at my victory. The battle was about to begin, and I told her all the reasons we should
wait for the consummation of our relationship (our souls, the cold, the dog smell she was
now tainted with, our love-making as a reaction to Jacob and not our conscious decisions,
and the battle beginning). She worried for my family, and I tried to soothe her. Seth
whined because he wanted to be there at the battle, and I explained that to Bella. It
started, and I could read the pack mind through Seth, so I translated for Bella. I took her
through what I saw the pack doing, the newborns taken down, and the moves of the

       Then I caught her thoughts. VICTORIA! Bella was right. It was Victoria all
along. She had caught my scent and followed it. The newborns were to decimate my
family, so that she could reach Bella and kill her with less resistance, if any, after the
newborn attack. Seth read my thoughts because I was connected to the pack mind. The
whole pack went into panic for a moment. Jacob was wild with worry for a few moments
and howled from the distance. I assured them that Seth and I could handle this. Victoria
had one other with her. I would deal with Victoria and Seth could handle the other one,

especially with surprise on our side. Seth was ecstatic at the prospect. Seth was in my
face for a few moments as we coordinated. He would hide in the woods until the
appropriate moment and then come to take on the younger vampire. I would deal with
Victoria. I was confident about this and so was Seth. The pack relaxed and conveyed the
plan to the rest of my family. Again my family members felt the initial anxiety but
calmed. The plan would work. Alice could see that it would.

       Bella, of course, had no access to these thoughts and was in acute distress that
someone had been hurt. I ripped the tent apart and moved her to the back of the crevice
with my arms spread in front of her. I explained that she had been right; it was always
Victoria. Victoria and her companion, Riley, approached. With Seth hidden in the
woods, I felt Victoria’s euphoria. I alone defended Bella, and between her and Riley, she
would be able to get Bella—stop her heart and kill her. I would be forced to watch, and
they would kill me when they were done with Bella if they didn’t kill me in the process
of killing her. Victoria was confident of her plans. No one could help us in time even if
they survived the hoard of newborns. Bella was right, and I felt a surge of relief. What if
Bella hadn’t insisted on us being together? What if she was here alone with Seth? I
shuddered internally at the thought. Here we were facing another situation where I could
have lost her, but now I would get to destroy Bella’s would-be tormentor myself. I
repressed a smile and let my bloodlust fill me. It would be easy with Seth’s help. My
only fear was that Bella would witness the violence. I never wanted her to see me fight
or hunt while she was human. What if it repulsed her? I couldn’t think about that now.

       Victoria and Riley advanced. Riley started to come toward me. Though I didn’t
think it would work, I tried to break his bond to Victoria by highlighting his doubts about
her and her lies to him. I told him she had lied to him, and she had had him lie to the
others. She didn’t love him; she was using him. I felt the torment in his mind, and
Victoria’s rage over my words. But the truth wasn’t enough. Victoria dismissed my
words as “mind tricks” and ordered him forward. As he moved toward me, Seth snarled
and charged Riley, throwing him to the ground and ripping a chunk of Riley away with
his teeth. I felt Riley’s terror and pain, and I felt Victoria’s shock and disappointment.

We were more evenly matched now; an opponent for each of them. She crouched and
tried to engage me. I teased her. I allowed a slight space between Bella and me. We
stalked each other, back and forth. As she thought her moves, I countered them. She
gained no advantage, and Seth was doing well against Riley. I felt her panic—her desire
to flee. I begged her to stay and taunted her. I talked about James, and I felt her fury at
my words. Seth and Riley moved closer to us, and I felt her shock when Seth’s fur
touched me. I confirmed her worst fears; the werewolf and I were allied, partners.

       Though Seth’s and my concentrations were focused sharply on our present
opponents, Riley and Victoria, we were still linked to the pack in the clearing. They
knew what we were up against and were prepared for it, and we knew that they were
doing well against the newborns. My family must have also known. Alice would have
seen Victoria decision to follow my scent as soon as she made it, but they would also
know that with both Seth and me there Bella would be safe. Victoria and I continued to
come at each other. I was getting through her defenses. I was making contact and doing
some damage. I was succeeding in tearing pieces of her flesh away while she was unable
to touch me. Riley managed to strike Seth full in the chest, and he was thrown against
the cliff face near Bella. Seth was okay; he was pretending to be hurt to lure Riley closer.
Bella must have really thought that Seth was in danger because she was preparing to cut
herself with a sharp shard of rock to distract Riley. I couldn’t believe it. The third wife!
Didn’t the werewolves realized that they couldn’t tell Bella stories like that? I signed and
moved to intervene. Victoria had been distracted by Bella actions, so I took advantage of
that and hurled her against a tree. Then I flew to Riley and yanked one arm and shoulder
off and flung them with all my strength and the lunging Victoria who collided with the
piece of Riley and was thrown into another tree. She kicked the piece of Riley out of her
way and moved toward me again. Riley was in trouble now, and Seth was able to take
off his other arm. Riley cried Victoria’s name pleading for help, but she ignored him,
and the force of Seth’s next assault on Riley sent them into the forest. Victoria’s panic
returned, and she prepared to flee. I asked her to stay, but she started to bolt toward the
trees. I was faster, and I sunk my teeth into her neck and ripped it from her torso. I

dismembered the rest of her body. Seth had finished off Riley in the trees. We worked
quickly to pile all the pieces together and set the tinder that would ignite the fire.

       As we worked, we got images from the clearing of their successes down there. I
felt intense relief and pride. So did Seth. He was a good kid, with a pure heart, even if
he was a werewolf. I complemented our teamwork, and Seth touched his snout to my
fist. I didn’t dare look at Bella. I was afraid of what she had seen. I had to defend her,
but the violence of my destruction of Victoria—I wasn’t sure that she could forgive me
for that. When Victoria and Riley were burning in the flames, I went to face Bella. She
was frozen in shock. Terror was the dominant emotion on her face, just as I had feared.
Her one hand was still pressing the stone shard to the inside of her elbow. I called to her.
I asked her to drop the shard. She seemed dazed, but she dropped the piece of stone. I
told her not to be afraid; I told her that I wouldn’t hurt her. Confusion clouded her face.
She didn’t understand why I was trying to reassure her. I asked if she was afraid of me.
She didn’t understand. She moved toward me and then tripped. I caught her in my arms,
and she pressed her face into my chest and started crying. I tried again to reassure her.
She said she was fine, that she just needed some time to come to terms with all that had
happened. I apologized repeatedly, and she stopped crying and started kissing me—each
part of me she could reach like she was taking inventory of each part of me that was

       Relief washed over me; somehow, impossibly, the violence was not too much.
She loved me and only cared that I was unhurt—not that I was a monster capable of the
most monstrous actions. She asked if I was okay, and I assured her that I was. She asked
about Seth, and I explained how pleased Seth was with himself. She asked about the
others, and I could tell her it was fine down there as well. My family had finished with
its newborns, and the pack was done with its. The most challenging fight had been here
with Victoria and Riley. I apologized again for what she had seen, and she blew it off
dismissively. I reminded her that she had seen me murder and dismember another being,
but she didn’t seem to care. She said she was only worried about Seth and me—our
safety. I scolded her about her attempt with the stone shard and explained that Seth was

faking. She shocked and amused me by telling me that she looked forward to being a
vampire so she wouldn’t be “the only helpless person” in a fight. I couldn’t help
wondering if she really thought something like this could come at us again. But it was
over, and we had won. No one was hurt, and Bella and I were together.

       Bella asked about what Seth and I had worked out with the pack earlier, the
“complication.” I knew she had dealt with so much today already, the stress, violence,
and terror. The presence of the Volturi would only add to that. I told her not to be scared
but that we needed to rejoin the others. And then Leah’s mind flashed through the pack
mind. Seth whined, and he watched his sister find a hiding newborn and engage him
alone. I asked Seth what she was doing. He only continued to whine. Jacob rushed to
help Leah, but the newborn got his arms around him before Jacob could get into a better
position, and the newborn squeezed him, crushing many of the bones on his right side.
Seth howled at Jacob’s pain, and I fell to my knees clutching my head at the agony that
rippled through the entire pack mind, Jacob’s agony. We all felt it. I was surprised to
realize that though a significant part of me hated Jacob with a passion and wanted him
dead, and another part of me cared about him and did not want to see him killed by a
stranger and did not want his death to cause the pain to Bella that it surely would.

       Bella didn’t understand what was happening; she called to me desperately. The
pain receded. Jacob was hurt, but Sam and Paul dispatched the newborn, and they were
taking Jacob back to the reservation; Jacob would be okay; he would heal. I tried to
comfort Bella; I told her “we’re fine. We’re going to be okay,” and I told Sam to “help
him” speaking to the pack mind. As soon as I said Sam’s name, Bella realized that the
“we” I was referencing was the pack, and she staggered. I caught her in my arms. Seth
tensed beside us, and I ordered him home. Though Seth was resistant, he took off for La
Push. Bella again asked what was happening. I told her the Volturi were arriving, and I
wanted us all to be together when they got there. I didn’t want to encounter Jane and
Demetri alone. She was terrified. I assured her it would be alright. Alice had seen no
problems; we just needed to get to my family. She asked about the pack, and I explained
that the pack was returning to La Push. It was safer for them there. The Volturi would

not recognize our truce with the werewolves. She wasn’t calming down. She came back
to Seth’s howl of pain and my anguished cry. I was sure knowledge of Jacob’s injuries
would be too much, but she begged me. I tried to explain what had happened with Leah.
She demanded to know who had been hurt, and I told her. It was too much, and she
passed out in my arms. I ran through the forest, quickly rejoining my family. The sight
of Bella’s unconscious body alarmed by family, but I explained quickly. I lay her on the
ground. Carlisle examined her. Alice sat with her and then Esme. I touched her cheek,
and we waited nervously. I asked Alice about when the Volturi would arrive and then
about Bella. She assured me that the Volturi were minutes away but Bella would revive
before they arrived. I whispered in her ear that Jacob was alive and that he was
“healing.” She came to, and we all assured her that Jacob was okay. Carlisle described
Jacob’s injuries and what had happened afterwards to Bella. I helped Bella up, and we

          Jasper was watching the newborn Bree. Carlisle had given her the opportunity of
surrendering, and she had taken it. With Bella so close, she became restless. Carlisle
told her that she had to find a way to control herself; her control was the only thing that
could save her. Though Bella wanted to move away from Bree, I explained that we had
to stay here; the Volturi were arriving. Jane entered the clearing flanked by Felix,
Demetri, and two others. I welcomed Jane keeping my voice controlled. Jane’s gaze
swept over the faces of my family and then rested on Bree. I explained that Bree had
surrendered—that Carlisle had given her the opportunity. Jane answered that there
weren’t opportunities for those who “break the rules.” Carlisle conceded that it was up to
them. Jane delivered a greeting to Carlisle from Aro, and Carlisle wished that Jane might
do the same from him to Aro. She agreed.

          Jane refocused on the burning remains of the newborn army they had been sent to
destroy. She asked how many, and Carlisle answered eighteen. Jane was surprised, as
were Felix and Demetri. Carlisle emphasized that they were “new” and “unskilled.”
Jane then asked about their creator, and I told her their creator was Victoria. I made Jane
aware of a second column of smoke, and Jane asked who had taken care of Victoria. I

told her that I had and the one other newborn who accompanied her. She then turned to
Bree for confirmation of our story. Bree was resistant at first, but after Jane turned her
gift on Bree, the newborn told her everything she knew—all of which confirmed what we
had told Jane. Jane was impressed and admitted that to Carlisle. Jane found it interesting
that Bella was at the heart of Victoria’s creation of the army and the prime target. I
explained that Victoria “held a grudge against Bella.” Jane found this amusing—and she
commented on how our kind seemed to have “strong reactions” to Bella. Reminded of
her own strong reactions to Bella, Jane aimed her gift at Bella. It was as useless on Bella
as it had been in Italy. And though I was just as proud of Bella’s immunity as before, I
tensed and asked Jane to refrain to using her gift further.

       Jane mused about the novelty of the Volturi soldiers being “unnecessary,” and I
asked just enough to see it in her thoughts. The Volturi had waited to intervene here,
purposefully, hoping for a confrontation between us and the newborn army; they hoped
that our family would be pruned. I controlled my anger; it would do no good here, but it
was important to know the Volturi feared us so. Jane turned her attention back to Bree,
and I spoke on her behalf—I knew that our family would be willing educate her and take
her in. I suggested this to Jane; Bree didn’t know any better before. Carlisle confirmed
that we would be willing, but Jane was firm that Bree needed to be destroyed. The
Volturi didn’t “give second chances,” she said, and she turned her gaze to Bella
remarking that the Volturi ancients would find it interesting to know Bella was “still
human.” Alice spoke up then, assuring Jane that “the date [was] set.” Jane ordered Felix
to take care of Bree. I told Bella not to watch. She leaned her head into my chest, and I
tried to comfort her with my touch. With Bree added to the burning pile, the Volturi
soldiers turned and left the clearing, and we were left alone.

       We were elated. None of us was hurt. We had defeated Victoria and an army of
newborns. Everyone had enjoyed their separate fights (except Bella, of course). We had
dealt with the Volturi smoothly and effectively, and we all wondered what the Volturi
soldiers and ancients would make of the idea of the seven Cullens taking down a
newborn army of nineteen and its creator. Bella was safe, and we had moved past our

treaty with the werewolves to a kind of alliance. We had achieved more than we could
have imagined, and we were all milling over these thoughts as we made our way home.
Once home, Carlisle and I prepared to go to La Push to see Jacob and make sure his
bones were set correctly. Carlisle got his bag. Alice dragged Bella up to her bathroom to
put make-up on her and make the shopping trip story for Charlie look convincing. Bella
shot me a defeated kind of look as Alice pulled her away from me, but I managed to
squeeze her hand lightly in consolation.

       We drove Carlisle’s car to the Blacks. It was pretty crowded. Charlie alternated
between trying to comfort Billy and trying take up as little space as possible. Sam, Paul,
Jared, Quil, Embry, Seth, Leah, Collin, and Brady were all anxiously waiting and trying
to help or at least distract Jacob from the pain. Billy was relieved to see Carlisle and so
was Sam. We hadn’t been sure about that. I had come just in case my mind reading
abilities would help defuse a hostile situation. Carlisle, Sam, Billy, and I went in to see
Jacob. Carlisle explained the dose of morphine he would give a normal person of Jacob’s
size to Sam and Billy, and they discussed how much more to give Jacob since his
elevated body temperature and werewolf metabolism would burn it off faster than a
regular person’s would. They went with the highest dose reasonable—given that Jacob
had been in pain so long. It worked. The pain eased. Carlisle examined Jacob and was
distressed to see that some of Jacob’s bones had started mending even though they
weren’t set properly. He explained this to both Sam and Billy. Jacob was unconscious
by this point. They understood; Carlisle would have to re-brake some of the bones and
set them properly. It was too much for Billy; he left the room to report on Jacob’s
progress to the others. Carlisle had Sam brace Jacob’s leg while he snapped the bone, set
it correctly, and placed it in a brace. They did the same with Jacob’s arm, and the others
that needed to be reset. I felt a strange range of emotions. Jacob was my enemy and my
ally. He was my rival for Bella’s love and a tool I used in that fight, and he was someone
Bella cared about deeply. I realized that we were bonded together—through Bella we
would be part of each other’s life. I wanted her badly enough to accept that, to accept
Jacob as part of the price I needed to pay.

       I was confident of my future. All the things that threatened us seemed to be
removed. Victoria and her newborns were destroyed. The Volturi had been dealt with.
Bella had agreed to marry me, and Jacob knew we would be married. Even the violence
that Bella had seen me perform was not enough to keep her from me. After Carlisle and I
returned from La Push, I listened to music in my room and waited until it would be late
enough to join Bella in her room. Suddenly, I realized that Alice was coming to see me;
she wanted to talk to me, but she was keeping the topic of her visit clouded by translating
Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” into different languages. I felt a flutter of panic.
What would Alice want to talk to me about and yet keep from me? I went to the door and
I could see the pain, sympathy, and worry in her face. She was worried about me, about
my pain. She stopped concentrating on the poem, and the vision returned. It was nothing
horrific—no newborns coming to attack us—no loved ones dead, taken from me forever.
It was simple; Bella got on a plane in Seattle and flew to Jacksonville where she would
stay and live with her mother and Phil. Bella was choosing to leave me, to leave us.
Nothing horrific, and yet all the more devastating for the abandonment I felt. I stared at
Alice hopelessly. “When?” I whispered.

       “Tomorrow,” she whispered back, and she hugged me.

       “Why?” I asked desperately, and she told me she didn’t know. I asked if it had
anything to do with the dog, but she didn’t see how it could. If the dog was involved,
Bella would disappear with him, and the vision was clear. Bella was alone.

       I was consumed with desolation. What had gone so wrong that Bella would leave
me? How could she leave me? I thought I had bound her to me so tightly that she
couldn’t bear to be without me. My thoughts were wild and chaotic. As I went over
everything that had happened in the last few days, I couldn’t find any thing that could
have changed everything so drastically. She called to ask me to stay away until she
called the next day. I didn’t want to, but I was so upset that I knew I needed time to
think, time to calm down, time to plan what to say to convince her not to leave. All night
I thought through things to say, trying to get the words just right.

       Some part of me also considered holding her against her will—truly kidnapping
her and holding her hostage. But I didn’t want that. I wanted her to love me, to marry
me. I would find a way to convince her to stay. What were the biggest threats I could
use? Danger and pain. She had been willing to risk her life for me with the Volturi. She
had been willing to sacrifice herself for me and Seth against Victoria. I could threaten
her with the Volturi again. She would protect me from danger—but not just danger, pain.
She couldn’t endure our pain—my pain or Jacob’s pain. I would use my pain if I had to.

Jacob’s Pursuit: Part Two

       How warm and cosy our home is…. Here is shelter for you; here I will protect
       you like a hunted dove that I have saved from a hawk’s claws; I will bring peace
       to your poor beating heart. It will come little by little…. My little scared,
       helpless darling. Have no anxiety about anything.

       Torvald Helmer, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

       You think he belongs to you because you want to belong to him…. Don’t. It’s a
       bad word, “belong.” Especially when you put it with somebody you love. Love
       shouldn’t be like that. Did you ever see the way the clouds love a mountain?
       They circle all around it; sometimes you can’t even see the mountain for the
       clouds. But you know what? You go up top and what do you see? His head.
       The clouds never cover the head. His head pokes through, because the clouds let
       him; they don’t wrap him up. They let him keep his head up high, free, with
       nothing to hide him or bind him. Hear me…. You can’t own a human being.

       Guitar Bains, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

       There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with
       which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a
       fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act no less a crime
       as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.

       Louise Mallard, “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

       I had loved Isabella Swan since we were kids. She would visit Charlie every
summer for two weeks, and Charlie brought her to the reservation to hang out with my
dad and my family. Dad had two girls, Rachel and Rebecca, twins a year older than
Bella, and me, a little younger. She was so pretty. I had always thought that, and she
was nice and kind. She paid attention to me when my sisters ignored me. We made mud
pies and played on the beach.

       She hadn’t been to Forks for years, but now she was returning to live with
Charlie. Her mother had remarried and her husband traveled a lot, so Bella was coming
to live with Charlie. I was so excited; she was the girl of my dreams, and she was
coming home.

       Billy, my dad, suggested that if I finished rebuilding the truck, we could sell it to
Charlie for Bella. I threw myself into the task. I hoped that her knowing I had rebuilt the
truck for her would impress her in some way.

       I was so nervous to see her again after so many years. I didn’t actually see her
until she and some of her classmates came to the reservation beach. I was thrilled to see
her. I reminded her of who I was, Billy Black’s son, and the summers we had spent
together. The Cullens were brought up, and Sam, an older boy from our tribe,
emphasized that they didn’t come to the reservation. Bella seemed interested in that, and

she asked me to walk down the beach with her. I was only too willing. She batted her
eyes at me, and I was putty in her hands. She made small talk with me, and then asked
me about the Cullens. I had heard the stories, but I didn’t believe them: werewolves and
vampires, mortal and immortal enemies. It was crazy—fantasy stuff. So I told her the
stories. Quileutes were descended from men and could transform into wolves when faced
with their enemies, vampires. Our tribe had a truce with the Cullens because the Cullens
claimed to be different kinds of vampires, vampires who didn’t hunt humans, but they
still weren’t allowed on our lands.

       Bella listened to it all like she was entertained. It seemed so easy to be with her.
She was even prettier than I remembered. One of her classmates came looking for her, a
kid named Mike. I didn’t like the way he looked at her, and I certainly didn’t like the
possessive attitude he attempted to take with her. I felt a burn of jealousy. I asked Bella
if he was her boyfriend, and she assured me that he was not. I felt intense relief. They
were getting ready to go. Bella seemed to follow Mike reluctantly. She said she would
make an effort to come to the reservation with Charlie next time he came to our house. I
was excited by the idea of seeing her again. She wasn’t treating me like a child even
though I was younger than she was, and she had flirted with me. I felt like I had to find a
way to be with her, to make her mine.

       Though I thought about her a lot, I didn’t see Bella for about a week. I went
about my normal routine at the reservation school, hanging out with my friends, and
working on rebuilding my Rabbit. Thursday evening my dad was suddenly seized by a
desire to visit Charlie to watch the baseball game, so I loaded his wheelchair into the
back of the car we borrowed and drove him down to Charlie’s. We arrived at the same
time that Bella was dropped off by someone in a silver Volvo. Dad was rigid in the car.
I didn’t understand the hard look on his face. Inside the Swan’s house, I helped Bella set
the table. I asked her about the truck, if there was something wrong with it because she
wasn’t driving it. She said it was fine, though she seemed suddenly uncomfortable. I
asked who the friend was who drove her home, and she reluctantly told me it was Edward
Cullen. I suddenly realized my dad’s reaction in the car, and it made me laugh. I

couldn’t believe it, crazy old man, I thought. Bella asked if Billy would try to talk to
Charlie about the Cullens. I told her I doubted it. I explained that Charlie liked the
Cullens; he thought the town was really lucky to have Dr. Cullen at the hospital, and
Charlie and Billy had fought over their attitudes toward the Cullens before. Billy didn’t
want to bring that up again. The evening was pleasant. I was more interested in talking
to Bella every now and again than the game. Billy seemed to enjoy himself, and though I
caught him watching Bella sometimes, he didn’t seem to be willing to start anything with
Charlie over the Cullens. I felt content as I drove us home. It was so easy to be with
Bella; I really liked her. How was I going to get her to like me back? I turned it over in
my mind a lot, and I dreamed about her. I dreamed about holding her in my arms and
kissing her. I dreamed that she wanted me as badly as I was beginning to want her.

       Over the next few days, Billy was increasingly agitated. Sunday, Billy told me he
needed to see Charlie, so I got his chair and the car ready. No one appeared to be at the
Swans’, but that didn’t stop Billy. He insisted on waiting on the porch for them to arrive.
With Harry Clearwater’s fish fry on his lap, we waited. It started to rain. We saw Bella’s
truck turn on to the street and make its way toward us. Billy went rigid again, and I
realized that Edward Cullen was driving Bella’s truck; he was bringing her home. I was
so embarrassed by Billy’s reaction. It was hard to see clearly into the truck in the
dimming light and the rain, but it looked like Edward Cullen was just as disturbed at
Billy’s presence as I knew Billy was by his. Edward parked the truck, but before Bella
got out, he leaned over and kissed her throat. Billy’s cool glare broke, he looked furious
now, and he grabbed the arms of his chair. Bella got out of truck and ran toward us. She
opened the door and ushered us in. Once we were inside, dad told me to look for a
picture of Rebecca he said was in the car. I went back resignedly to the car to look for
the picture. I suspected that Billy really wanted a chance to talk to Bella alone.

       I couldn’t find the damn picture. Confirming my suspicions about Billy lecturing
Bella about the dangers of the vampire Cullens. He was losing it. I walked back in the
house and told Billy the picture wasn’t in the car. Billy surprised me by announcing that
we were leaving; Charlie would be out late. I was disappointed that we weren’t staying,

that I wouldn’t have more time with Bella. I was also jealous. Bella was obviously
spending her free time with Edward Cullen. From what I had seen of him, he was good
looking, and the Volvo he drove was new, so he had more money than we did. They
went to school together, so he had more access to Bella than I did, and he was closer to
her own age. These were all advantages that he had over me, but he couldn’t know how
much I wanted her.

       Billy was quiet and sullen that evening. But the next day, he was alarmed and
frantic. It turned out that Bella had announced to Charlie Sunday night that she wanted to
leave Forks and that she was driving home to Phoenix. It got worse. We heard that Bella
had been in an accident in Phoenix and was in the hospital—broken bones, lost blood,
and stitches. I had never seen my father like that before. He was half-crazy with
concern. He knew that Charlie would freak out if he talked to him about the Cullens and
the Quileute stories of them as vampires. But he seemed to be on the verge of telling him
anyway. Charlie was pretty upset, but his ex-wife was there in Phoenix, and she called
every day to report on Bella’s progress. The doctors said she would be fine. She
regained consciousness. She was coming home. Billy was agitated and distracted, but
the half-crazed phase seemed to be over. I was worried about Bella too, but I didn’t think
she had been attacked by a vampire. The “dark” Cullen past obviously was coloring
Billy’s reaction to Bella being hurt. The Cullens were there too, with Bella in Phoenix.
That made me twinge with jealousy. He would be there at the hospital with her,
comforting her, holding her hand. How could I compete with his advantages? I was the
underdog in the contest, and he just kept getting all the breaks.

       With Bella home, Billy finally relaxed but not all the way. Charlie wasn’t thrilled
with Edward Cullen after Bella’s accident. Perhaps Billy’s attitude toward the Cullens
colored Charlie’s feelings toward Edward more than either of them realized. But Bella
was still dating Edward; in fact, Edward had arranged with Charlie to surprise Bella and
take her to their junior prom. Though I knew all this because Billy had told me, I was
surprised when Billy offered to buy me the part I needed for the Rabbit if I would do him
a favor. The favor turned about to be showing up at the prom and talking to Bella—

asking her to stay away from Edward and to tell her the tribe elders would be watching
both her and the Cullens. I was mortified. I refused. He begged. He offered to pay me
twenty bucks in addition to the part. I couldn’t believe it. He was unrelenting, and I
finally caved.

       I couldn’t believe I was doing this. I felt awkward and self-conscious as I walked
into the dance. Everyone was much more dressed up than I was. I thought about turning
around and leaving, and then I saw her. She was so pretty, even more than normal in the
deep blue dress with her hair done and made-up. But she was in his arms, and the way
she looked at him, adoringly, lovingly, made me feel true despair. I wanted her to look at
me like that. With a shock, I realized that he was glaring at me; the anger in his face was
palpable. Bella noticed it too and followed his gaze. I tried to smile weakly at her; I
hoped she would understand how badly I felt about doing this—crashing her prom to
deliver my father’s ridiculous message. Edward composed his face and released Bella
when I asked to cut in. Bella seemed to suspect the reason I was there, and she wasn’t
mad. I was grateful for that. She asked jokingly whether any of the girls caught my eye,
and I blushed and admitted that the one who had was already taken. She flushed as well
and looked just as awkward as I did. I admitted that Billy had both paid and bribed me to
come talk to her; she encouraged me to tell her the complete message. I explained that
Billy had been half-crazy when she was hurt in Phoenix, and though she guessed at the
conclusions my dad had drawn about her accident, she assured me that the Cullens had
saved her life. When I told her the whole message, she was gracious about it. She was
sorry that Billy coerced me to do it, and she asked me to thank Billy for her; she realized
that he was only concerned about her.

       The song ended, and I released her. Suddenly, Edward Cullen was right there—
ready to take her back into his arms. I hated him, the sudden rage that flooded through
me as he pulled her away from me and encircled her in his arms surprised me. I wanted
her so badly, and I was out of my league on both counts, Bella and Edward. She was
pretty and older, and he was rich and handsome, and she really cared about him—that
much was obvious. Her accident had done nothing to cause friction between them. I

needed a miracle, something that would drive them apart, so that I could make her see
that I was the one, that I should be holding her and taking care of her. I drove home
feeling dejected and desperate.

         Billy was waiting for me. I told him I had delivered his message, all of it, and
that Bella had thanked him for his concern. He wanted to know if it seemed like Bella
would pay attention to the message, and I told him that it didn’t look like it to me—
Edward and Bella were dancing when I left. Billy clenched his teeth and that hard look
sealed over his eyes. I wondered how far he would go to interfere with Bella’s choice of
boyfriend. He didn’t seem to be done yet. I sighed.

         That night I dreamed of Bella as usual, but whereas before, I had dreamed of
walking on the beach with Bella, talking to her, making her laugh, holding her hand,
holding her in my arms, kissing her—all innocent stuff, initial dating kind of stuff.
Something about seeing him with her at their prom changed the tenor of my dreams. The
way she adored him, worshiped him, made me think of all the things a girl would let a
guy do when she felt like that toward him. I imagined him kissing her and not just on the
mouth. I imagined him kissing and caressing her all over. His hands on her face, her
chest, her tits, her stomach, her waist, her pussy, her thighs. I imagined Bella’s thighs
wrapped around him, and the thought made me so very angry. Him taking away her
virginity. Him inside her. Him staining her, corrupting the body that I wanted. The
loathing and animosity toward him I felt were nearly unbearable. And I found that I was
angry at her too. How could she allow him to touch her like that? Then I thought of his
advantages, money, looks, age, proximity. He had overwhelmed her, I decided. She was
too innocent to understand he was using her, that he didn’t, couldn’t love her the way I

         And then I imagined myself in his place. I imagined kissing and caressing her all
over. I imagined my hands on her face, her chest, her tits, her stomach, her waist, her
pussy, her thighs. I imagined Bella’s thighs wrapped around me. I imagined me inside
her, doing her, banging her, and I some part of me became aware that my dick was

throbbing and then exploding. Dreaming about Bella had made me come in my sleep,
my first wet dream—over Bella Swan. I knew it wouldn’t be the last, and I wanted so
badly the chance to do the things I imagined with the real Bella, not just the Bella of my

       The school year ended, and the summer began. My days had a lazy rhythm. I
worked on my car or other projects in the garage and hung out with Quil and Embry. The
only weirdness came from watching Sam, Jared, and Paul act all tough and commanding.
They called themselves the “protectors,” and Sam had a surprising amount of authority
with the tribe elders. I asked my father about it, but he was evasive and said I would
understand soon enough. Though I dreamed about Bella all the time, I didn’t see her
often. I would tag along with Billy if he went to Charlie’s to watch a game, and if Bella
was home, she would talk to me, and we would laugh easily, and I would long for her.
But sometimes she wasn’t there, and I knew she was with him, with Edward. Those
times were miserable—I couldn’t even pay attention to the game. The summer slipped
by before I knew it, and school started again. Nothing was getting me closer to Bella.

       It seemed like a day like any other. I went to school. I came home and did my
homework. I worked on my car. Billy and I ate dinner. Before we were done, the phone
rang. Charlie was on the phone. Bella was missing; he was worried. Billy asked me if I
knew anything about Bella, but I didn’t, and Billy told Charlie so. Billy said we would
come over, and we left dinner on the table and went to Charlie’s. Bella’s note said that
she was in the forest with Edward. Charlie had called the Cullens, but they were gone.
Billy was shocked, but I knew that he was shocked in a satisfied way. He was glad the
Cullens were gone. Dr. Gerandy said that a hospital in Los Angeles had offered Dr.
Cullen a lot of money to come there, and they had left. The Cullens had left Forks.

       Charlie and his deputy organized search parties. Neighbors and local folks
helped. They weren’t successful; Bella was still missing. Billy asked Charlie if he could
call Sam Uley; he said Sam knew the forest really well. Charlie didn’t think Sam would
be better than the others, but he didn’t argue. Billy called Sam and relayed to Charlie that
Sam and some of the others would search. It irritated me. I was with Charlie. Why
would Sam or his followers be better at tracking Bella than half the men in town and the
police? But I kept my mouth shut. I was worried about Bella. I didn’t want anything to
happen to her. It was very tense at Charlie’s house. People checked in now in then, but
no one found her. The hours dragged by. It had been dark a long time. Charlie was

desperate. Then, Sam walked out of the forest carrying a limp Bella in his arms. Bella
was found. The doctor examined her; she was okay, unharmed. Charlie thanked people,
and the volunteers drifted home. We stayed a little longer than most, but then we left
Charlie to tend to Bella and for both of them to sleep.

       In the morning, while it was obvious that Bella was not physically hurt, she was
still wounded in some fundamental way. Billy told me that Charlie said she didn’t eat or
leave her room for a week. Charlie was desperate again. He didn’t know what to do. He
didn’t feel strong enough to institutionalize her. He called his ex-wife who came to Forks
to take Bella to Florida. Bella flipped when they tried to pack her up. They both caved
to the first strong emotions and fierce determination Bella had shown since the Cullens
left. Bella stayed in Forks, and the relief I felt in knowing she was still here, near me,
was intense. I had felt physically ill at the idea of her leaving.

       Routines resumed. I was ecstatic the Cullens were gone, especially that one
particular Cullen. I was even more pleased that Charlie was furious with Edward for the
way he had abandon Bella and what that abandonment had done to her. I imagined that
my being younger than Bella would be something he would hold against me, but I
imagined that my age was not as important to Charlie as me not being Edward Cullen.
Charlie and Billy talked often; Bella settled into an automaton state. She went through
the motions, but she wasn’t normal.

       I worried about Bella, but I had little opportunity to see her. I dreamed about her
and masturbated thinking about her. My dreams were as explicit as ever. I imagined
doing with her everything that Edward had done and more, and I fantasized that she
preferred to be with me both sexually and non-sexually. I imagined that I was better than
he was and satisfied her every need. I imagined that in her eyes, I didn’t so much replace
him, as so far outshine him that she didn’t miss him anymore. I needed to find a way to
actually be around her; I needed a way to make her see that I was the one for her, the only

       The months dragged passed, and I couldn’t find a reason that would allow me
more access to Bella than normal. On the occasions when Billy and I went to Charlie’s,
she was pathetic; we could see that. She was devastated by her loss. Charlie was both
angry at Edward’s betrayal of Bella and sick over Bella’s reaction to it.

       One day in January, I heard the roar of the too familiar truck. I couldn’t believe
it. It had to be Bella’s truck, but I didn’t understand what could possibly bring her here.
I looked out the window in disbelief—but there she was parking the truck. I couldn’t
believe it. I went to meet her—excitement coursing through me. She looked as pathetic
as ever—but there was something else, a strange gleam in her eyes that I didn’t
understand. I smiled at her, and, to my surprise, she smiled back tentatively. We greeted
each other, and she commented that I was taller, and I acknowledged that, “six five,”
three inches taller than last time she remarked on my height. We exchanged pleasantries,
and I walked her into the house. Billy seemed worried at first that Bella’s visit could
mean there was something wrong with Charlie, but Bella said that she just hadn’t seen me
in so long. I thrilled to her words. They were everything I had hoped for and more.

       Billy invited her for dinner, but she hesitated and suggested she would be around
a lot more, so she didn’t need to stay that night. We would have other opportunities. I
felt my heart racing; this was all I had wanted—Bella around me a lot more. I asked her
what she wanted to do, and she suggested whatever I was doing before. I mentioned my
garage and my car, and she seemed eager to see my car, so we walked out to my garage
together. I was rebuilding a 1986 VW Rabbit, and I explained that I was almost finished,
especially since Billy had bought me the piece I needed most (for my service of crashing
Bella’s prom and delivering his warning). I watched Bella carefully. I hadn’t mentioned
his name outright, Edward’s, but even the allusion to her memories of him cause her
obvious pain. I would be careful not to mention him.

       She surprised me by asking me what I “[knew] about motorcycles”; my friend had
a dirt bike, so I said I knew a little and waited for her explanation. She surprised me
again by telling me that she had two motorcycles in need of repair, and she asked whether

I would be willing to work on them. I loved tinkering with auto mechanical stuff. It
would be fun, and it would meant time with Bella or a way of pleasing her; I was in. I
agreed easily. Bella warned me that Charlie would hate this, and I couldn’t tell Billy—to
keep it from Charlie. I agreed, no problem. She offered to pay me, but I wouldn’t
accept, so she offered to trade me my labor for one of the bikes.

       Something changed as we talked. I didn’t understand what the lure of the
motorcycles held for her exactly, but whatever it was had brought her to me and made her
dependent on me to fix the bikes. I could take that. She was still damaged, hurt, and
cautious, but that gleam in her eyes suggested possibilities to me. It made me hope for
something else between us, and I thought desperately about how I could turn that around
to my advantage. We had missed each other’s birthday, and when I suggested we make
them up with a “date,” I watched her flinch at the word. She backtracked and suggested a
date might be more appropriate when the bikes were done; I took what I could get. I
asked when she would bring the bikes by, and yet again I was surprised to learn that she
had them in her truck that evening. We went to unload them and put them in the garage.
They weren’t too bad; Bella insisted she would pay for parts if I was doing the labor.

       I unloaded the bikes from her truck easily, and we walked them back to the
garage. I started taking apart the red bike as soon as they were inside. I had Bella sit in
the Rabbit while I worked, and I told her about my school and my friends. I didn’t expect
a lot from her, but it was nice to be with her, comfortable, and she seemed interested in
my life and what I was telling her. We were just talking about Quil and Embry, my
friends, when they arrived. They didn’t hide their surprise at finding me with a girl in my
garage which embarrassed me intensely, and they were even worse at hiding their
amusement in discovering that the girl was my long coveted Bella. They were interested
in the bikes as soon as they realized that was what Bella and I were doing, so it was easy
to distract their attentions to them instead of us. I realized with alarm that Bella was
getting ready to go. When I tried to protest, she said she needed to go home and fix
Charlie dinner.

       I asked her when she would be back, and she surprised me by requesting to come
back the next day. I agreed eagerly, and my fool friends embarrassed me some more by
smiling at the exchange between Bella and me. She suggested that we would go for
parts—insisting on paying for what we needed. As she walked away, the teasing that
Quil and Embry had been badly restraining came on in full force. We jabbed at each
other, and I told them that neither one of them should show up tomorrow. Though I was
embarrassed and annoyed with my friends, another part of me was flying. I would
rebuild the motorcycles for Bella, and her eagerness for this task would bring us together
alone and unsupervised in my garage. It was like a miracle, the miracle I had been
waiting for ever since I fixated my desires on her.

       That night I dreamed of Bella was usual, of holding her, of touching her, of
kissing her, of her calling my name, of her responding to my advances, of her asking for
more, and as I dreamed of her moaning in pleasure, I was not surprised to find that I had
come in my sleep, again. In the morning, I was excited by the prospect of spending the
day with Bella. Charlie called to make it even better; he invited Billy up to watch the
game with him and Harry; Bella and I would be completely alone, not that dad ever came
out to the garage, but now we would have access to the house alone too if we wanted.

       Bella arrived, and I met her at the truck with an umbrella. I studied her face
carefully as she got out. She was still ashen and hallow looking, but the gleam in her
eyes was still there and a little stronger or maybe a little more confidently. I smiled at
her, and she smiled back, hesitantly but genuinely. I congratulated her on getting Billy
out of the house and was amused at how high she had to reach to answer my “high five.”
Harry arrived to pick up Billy, and after they left, we left to hunt parts, first at the dump
and then at the auto parts store in Hoquiam.

       I made it easy for her. I just chatted about different things and kept the
conversation light and flowing. I didn’t want her to feel awkward or self-conscious. The
topic of our ages came up. Bella clearly wanted to emphasize herself as two years older
to establish or re-enforce the friendship boundary, but I wasn’t having that. I argued that

other factors had to be taken into account when calculating hypothetical age, things like
size and skills. By the time we got back to La Push, I was seven years older than she
was. We had gotten just about everything we needed from the dump and the store, and I
had had the satisfaction of watching Bella become more comfortable and animated over
the course of the day, but I wanted to press my advantage if I could.

       We unloaded the stuff in the garage, and I set to work as she sat and watched me.
The day passed easily, and Bella made no move to go home even as it began to get dark.
Billy called for us from the house, and though Bella moved to try to help put things away,
I told her not to bother. She reminded me of my homework, and then we were both
startled to hear Charlie call Bella’s name. Not good. Charlie couldn’t know about the
bikes. I saw Bella’s panic, and I turned off the lights of the garage to hide the evidence
and took her hand to lead her out. As we stumbled through the darkness, we laughed, and
I did not release her hand. As we approached Charlie, I saw his eyes take in our linked
hands, and though he looked surprised, I noted that he didn’t look mad.

       Billy had invited the whole crew for dinner, Charlie and Bella, and the
Clearwaters. We ate outside; the adults talking among themselves, and Seth, Bella, and I
talking quietly. Leah, Harry’s daughter, was pre-occupied and quiet. Seth was slightly
annoying because he was too interested in what I had to say and kept saying dumb things
just be part of the conversation when all I really wanted to do was talk to Bella. She was
quiet, but she seemed to be enjoying herself, and Charlie definitely seemed impressed
with Bella’s ease. I saw him watching her now and then, just like I did.

       When it started to rain, everyone got ready to leave. Bella drove Charlie home,
and I watched them drive away with both regret and pleasure. She was leaving me, but
she would be back. She was comfortable with me, and she had let me hold her hand.
After dinner, I went back out to the garage and worked on Bella’s bike. I wanted to
impress her. That night before going to bed, I masturbated as I fantasized about Bella
Swan and what I wanted to do with her and her to me.

       After school, I waited for Bella to come over. I studied her face as I greeted her,
and it was different. Her smile held something different. I felt a rush of excitement as I
realized that she was glad to see me, that being with me brought some kind of “relief” to
her. Three days and she needed to be with me. I tried to keep it casual, and I walked her
to the garage. She asked if I was tired of her hanging around, and I told her “no.” I
couldn’t imagine ever being tired of Bella. I watched her as she walked into the garage
and saw her bike standing. The excitement coursed through her face, and the gleam in
her eye was fierce and guarded.

       I was glad to impress her, but I was also worried that once the bike project was
finished that I wouldn’t see her as often. When I voiced this concern, she said she would
come over even after the bikes were done and she seemed to mean it. I was elated, and I
pressed her. I asked if she liked being with me. She said that she did and offered to have
me come over to her house on Wednesday to catch up on homework. We eventually
agreed to do homework twice a week, and it was hard for me to hide the pleasure I felt in
knowing that Bella was planning on spending most of her free time with me. I pulled out
a couple of sodas, and we toasted our new plans.

       Tuesday Bella had to work, so I didn’t see her. It was a long evening, but I
worked on the bikes obsessively to distract myself from her absence. Wednesday I went
over the Bella’s, and we did homework and Bella worked on making lasagna for her and
Charlie’s dinner. She was a good cook, and when I admitted it, she demanded points
toward her hypothetical age. They invited me to stay for dinner which I did willingly and
even sent me home with a plate of lasagna for Billy. Thursday, she worked again, but
Friday we spent in the garage working on the bikes. Saturday morning she worked, and
then she picked me up to do homework at her house.

       After the homework session on the way home, I asked her to wait for me to call
her before she came over the following day. I wanted to surprise her. The bikes would
be done, and we could go for our first rides. I grinned as I saw the expression on her
face; she was disappointed that she would have to wait to see me. I had watched her all

week. She showed genuine relief as soon as she was in my presence. The pinched set of
her shoulders eased, and the slightly tense set of her face smoothed. Even her breathing
seemed to come more easily. She needed me. Maybe she deluded herself by thinking
that we could remain just friends, but I was replacing him. Her desperate need for him
was being replaced by a desperate need for me. She was becoming mine.           That night I
finished the bikes; all that would be left in the morning was cleaning them up and getting
them ready for loading in the back of her truck.

       I wondered how happy the completed bikes would make her and how I could turn
that to my advantage. It didn’t take me long in the morning to be done. When I called, it
pleased me to hear how eager she was for the call. I told her I thought we had a “date,”
and she gushed over how “wonderful” I was; she awarded me ten years for my skills
which put us at forty and twenty-four. When I saw her, the excitement on her face was
priceless. The gleam in her eye was frantic, barely contained. I wondered again what the
motorcycle ride meant for her—what she was hoping to gain from it. But I didn’t ask.

       It had something to do with him. I could tell by the way she was guarded about it,
careful about it, calculating in some way I didn’t understand. It angered me that he still
drove her actions, that he still consumed her mind. But part of me knew that. Charlie
had told Billy about Bella’s nightmares. They began after the Cullens left; she would
wake screaming in her sleep. Sometimes they were less frequent or milder, but she still
had them regularly. Charlie had mentioned them again to Billy just recently. He was
behind the dreams just as he was behind her motivations for the bikes. But time and
proximity were on my side. He was gone, and I was here, spending time with her,
comforting her, winning her. I could be patient. The spider waiting for the fly. The
hunter setting the snare. Bella would be mine in time. I was sure of it.

       I directed her to a stretch of dirt road near the beach that hardly ever got traffic.
As we drove, I was aware that Sam and his gang were up on the top of the cliff. It
annoyed me that they were showing off again. I was trying to ignore them, so it surprised
me when Bella shouted “no” and stomped on the brake of the truck. When she explained

her fears, I told her that they were cliff diving and that a lot of us, the kids from the
reservation, did it. Most of us did it from lower down on the cliff. I explained that Sam
and his crew were just flaunting their toughness or trying to. Suddenly, the idea of cliff
diving excited her, and that furious gleam in her eye sparkled. She begged me to take her
cliff diving, and I agreed, but not today and not from the top of the cliff. I had to remind
her of the bikes to get her attention back. She made conversation by asking about Sam
and the others.

        I tried to explain how Sam and his gang were all bent on protecting the tribe. It
seemed ridiculous to me. We didn’t need protection. They even had power with the
council of elders. I was angry, and I balled my hands into fists. She asked more seeing
that this really bothered me. I tried to explain, but I didn’t really understand it myself.
Sam and Jared and Paul. They hadn’t been friends before. Paul got sick and missed
some school, and then he started hanging out with Sam. It was weird. Embry was sick
just recently, and now he didn’t really talk to Quil and me; he just hung with Sam and the
rest of them.

        We were so involved in the conversation that we missed the turn and had to
double back. We got out and went to the back of the truck to unload the bikes. As I
pushed the red bike to her side, Bella’s face suddenly looked cautious. I promised that I
would help her. She snapped out of it and read my face. She saw my fears about the
whole Sam thing and asked about them more pointedly. I tried to explain it was just
weird “the way they look[ed] at me, the way they treat[ed] me”; it gave me the creeps. It
made me feel that I was next, that they were “waiting” for me.

        She asked if I had talked to Billy about it, and I told her how frustratingly
unhelpful Billy had been. The fears and bitterness about all of this suddenly seemed to
overwhelm me, and I was embarrassed that all of that was probably painfully transparent
on my face. I balled my hands into fists again, and to my surprise, Bella suddenly
wrapped her arms around me and hugged me. She was comforting me. She said that I
could come and live with her and Charlie. I wound my arms around her and breathed in

the scent of her hair. God, I loved this girl. I wished that I never had to let her go, or that
we could stay in each other’s arms forever. I reached gently to touch her hair, but she
pulled away from me and tried to put the distance between us again. She mentioned our
actually ages to re-enforce her friendship boundary, but she had to look up to me to do so,
and I countered by mentioning my hypothetical age.

       As I looked at her, she seemed so vulnerable, so delicate. She didn’t seem like a
child, but she was dependent, fragile, weak, and she was so pale and so pretty. I realized
that she reminded me of a doll, a little porcelain China doll, and I told her so. She
seemed to bridle at that, and I slipped; I nearly named them, the Cullens, the only people
I had ever known who were paler than Bella. She looked away from me, but I knew it
was to hide the pain she felt in thinking about them. I was usually much more careful to
avoid bringing them up and to avoid the things that she seemed to associate with them or
him. The music piece was a little obvious after what she had done to her car stereo, but
other things were more subtle, and I had to pay attention to notice them. I distracted her
by asking if she wanted to ride.

       We went over all the parts of the bike. I named them and made sure she
understood what they did. She seemed both terrified and determined. I got the bike
started for her, and she moved the bike into first gear and began to ease up on the clutch
with me coaching her the whole time. I was backing away to give her some room, but
something seemed to startle her, and she let go of the clutch suddenly. The bike jerked
violently, and then fell down on top of Bella. I cried out her name in horror and pulled
the bike off of her. She said she was fine, but I wasn’t so sure. Maybe this wasn’t such a
good idea, but she wanted to try again. Her face was alight with anticipation.

       She started the bike herself this time, and she successfully released the clutch this
time and started riding away from me. I watched her go. Everything seemed fine at first,
but then the road curved, and she wasn’t making the turn. The bike faltered and then
crashed to the ground. I kicked my bike to life and raced to her side. I pulled the bike off
of her. She had hit her head and was bleeding from the wound. She assured me she was

“great” and asked to ride again. Her eyes were bright with excitement, something about
the gleam in her eye seemed satisfied or engaged in a way. She didn’t seem to realize she
was bleeding. As soon as she did, she apologized for that, and I couldn’t imagine why
she felt the need to. I pulled her to her feet and put my arm around her. I demanded her
car keys, and left her there while I rode my bike back to her truck and put it in the bed,
and then drove the truck to get her and her bike.

       I gave her my T-shirt to press against her cut and put her bike in the bed. Then I
put my arm around her again and helped her into the truck. Bella insisted on going home
to change into less conspicuous clothes before going to the Emergency Room, so Charlie
or anyone else wouldn’t suspect the cause of the accident. Reluctantly I drove us to drop
off the bikes and then to her house to change before taking her the hospital. Her cover
story was lame: she tripped and hit her head in my garage. On the way to the hospital, I
flushed with pleasure, as I realized that Bella was appraising my bare chest. She told me
I was “beautiful,” and though I tried not to let it go to my head and take her complement
lightly, I thought my heart would burst through my chest.

       She needed seven stitches at the hospital, and I got to hold her hand through the
whole procedure. She insisted that she was well enough to drive herself home, but she let
me drive us to my house before taking the wheel and going home. That night I carefully
went over the moments before Bella threw her arms around me and the conversation that
we had had. What was the trigger? What had caused Bella to abandon her restraint and
show her emotions. I was talking about Sam and my fears of being the next recruit to
“the La Push gang,” and it occurred to me that it was the pain and fear I felt; she couldn’t
bear my pain. I grinned to myself; that was handy. I could use that.

       We went riding again on the following Wednesday. Again she was eager for it,
and the gleam in her eye was almost hungry for it. She was doing really well at first until
she hit the brake too hard and went flying off the bike into a tree. She scared me half to
death. Dr. Gerandy left Charlie a message telling him to check on Bella regularly during
the night because of her concussion. I worried that Charlie would start to object to Bella

seeing me if she kept getting hurt in my company, so I was relieved when she suggested
laying off the bikes for a while. While we considered other activities, I watched a range
of emotions flit across her face. There was obviously conflict over whatever she was
thinking about. I asked her about it, and she told me that she found a beautiful meadow
in the forest once and wondered if we might look for it. I was game. We would go on
Saturday afternoon, after Bella’s shift at the Newton store.

       When Bella arrived, she sat and talked to Billy while I studied her map and drew
a grid pattern across the area of the map that Bella had referenced. Bella was nervous
about Charlie knowing she was in the forest, but I knew Billy wouldn’t care. Some
hikers had gone missing in recent weeks, and there were strange reports about bear
sightings. I even joked with Billy about meeting one of the bears on our hike. Bella
drove to the starting place, and I was surprised to see that she pointed into the forest away
from the trail instead of following it. I took stock of the compass and the map, and we set
off to explore the first line of the grid I had drawn on the map. I kept pace with Bella and
checked the compass and the map off and on.

       In making conversation, she asked about Embry. I was slightly ahead of her, so
before I explained, I let her catch up with me. Embry was still avoiding me and “still
with Sam.” I was upset about Embry, and I let that show on my face as I put my arm
around her. It was all the same as I had described it the other day. She offered her couch
again, and I laughed it off. We continued to hike. We didn’t find the meadow and took
another grid line path back to her truck. She seemed a little dejected by our lack of
success, but I assured her we would find it in time. We agreed to try again the next day,
and we joked about the bears and being edible. I suggested that she might be good to eat,
but I don’t think she realized the way I meant the comment.

       We slipped into an easy routine. When Bella wasn’t at work or school, she was
usually with me. Her attachment became clearer and clearer—if not to her than to me,
and I knew Charlie was noticing it too. That it didn’t worry Charlie, I was pleased to
discover. I had been a little worried that he would insist on her seeing her other friends

too, but it didn’t seem to bother him that she was swapping out one obsessive relationship
for another. Maybe he just trusted me more, trusted that as his friend’s son, I would
never hurt her, and I never would.

       She wasn’t completely healed. I knew that, but she was less pathetic. She could
enjoy herself with me. Color returned to her face, and her eyes danced at times. She
looked so different from the lifeless zombie who showed up with two forbidden
motorcycles and a mad plan to get them running again. I was her trusted accomplice, her
secret sharer. Through our shared adventures, our closeness deepened. Holding her hand
and putting my arms around her were things she resisted less often now; the trick was
moving beyond holding hands and putting an arm around her. So it was with anticipation
that I looked forward to her after-school visit on Valentine’s Day.

       I would “be persistent.” I would be the stream that wore through the stone cliff, a
slow and persistent erosion of her resistance. Laughing with her, holding her hand,
putting my arm around her, kissing her and more. She repeatedly tried to establish the
boundaries of our relationship; she wanted friendship, and I had given her that, but she
was so destroyed and so utterly dependent on me now, that I knew I could get her past
her boundaries. Hand holding and having my arm around her could be innocent enough.
I imagined her real resistance would come with kissing and more intimate sexual contact.
How could I shatter her resistance? It occurred to me that the hardest part, the most self-
conscious part, the part she would resist the most, was starting such relations. But what if
she just found herself in the middle of doing or having done it. Once we had been
intimate, would she really object to us being so again?

       How to be intimate without her being able to fight me too hard? The date rape
drugs occurred to me. I had heard of both rohypnol and GHB, and one of them was
something they said anyone could make from fairly common household supplies. The
idea of caressing and even having sex with an unconscious Bella was not what I wanted,
even aside from the criminal implications of such acts. But what if that was the only way
I could have Bella? I realized if it was the only way, I would have taken it. But I wanted

Bella touching me and kissing me back, and she needed to remember what we had done
or enough of it, so she could believe that she had chosen this—of being intimate with me.
What I needed was to take away all her inhibitions or enough of them that she would be
ineffective at fighting against me. It occurred to me that the answer was not in drugs but
in alcohol. I needed to get her drunk. Not wasted drunk, just tipsy enough to let me kiss
her and touch her. We had time. The right opportunity would present itself when she
was ready.

       I knew she would be completely oblivious to the date. I had a box of Valentine
hearts for her. When she pulled up, I wished her a happy Valentine’s Day and was
amused to see how off guard the date caught her. I asked her to be my Valentine and
offered her the candy. She was cautious and asked what that involved. I wanted to take
the pressure off, so I joked that being my Valentine involved being my “slave for life.”
She still looked cautious but shrugged it off and accepted both the candy and the status.
An image of Bella as my slave suddenly flashed through my mind with graphic clarity,
and I struggled to distract myself by asking about tomorrow’s activities.

       She decided we would hike, and I suggested that we could ride the bikes on
Friday, but she told me she had plans with her school friends on Friday. They were all
going to a movie. I knew disappointment flooded my face at the news, and I looked
away. She surprised me by inviting me as well. I hesitated and asked if she really
wanted me there, but she said yes, and told me to invite Quil as well. Quil would like
that, and I chuckled as I realized it was my disappointment, my unhappiness, that forced
her to change her plans so that they included me. It wasn’t a date, but it was a public
outing, and I liked that idea very much. That night I finished the Rabbit. I would
surprise Bella with it Friday afternoon.

       In my dreams, I came back to the image of Bella as my slave, and I imagined her
as my willing sexual slave—touching me, kissing me, having sex with me, and asking for
more. Then the images shifted, I held her in my arms, and she tried to pull away, but I
overpowered her; she was my slave afterall. I pushed her down on to a bed. She

struggled, but I held her fast and ripped her clothes off. I kissed her roughly. Her
resistance only fed my passion. I tore my shirt off and pulled my pants down. I pressed
my body against her, and I felt her flesh beneath mine. I caressed her and rubbed myself
against her, and her resistance faded. My mouth trailed over her skin, and I pressed
myself into her. She succumbed to my will and moaned in pleasure, and I woke up with
sweat pouring off me with my dick throbbing and aching for lease. I came easily to the
image of taking Bella and her realizing that that was what she really wanted.

       Friday, I was waiting for her after school outside of her house, standing against
the car smiling. She seemed almost as excited as I was when I finished it. She gave me a
high five which I returned and used it as an excuse to entwine our fingers. Her friend,
Mike, pulled up in his car, and Bella pulled her hand out of mine; he was the guy from
that first day at the beach, the first day I had seen Bella in years. He was the one who
was possessive of her, who wanted to appear like her boyfriend. My jealousy flared. I
didn’t like him. I didn’t want to think about Bella with anyone but myself. When I asked
her about him, she whispered that he was “hard to discourage.” So Mike was still
pressing Bella to go out. I knew all about persistence, and I told her “sometimes
persistence pays off.” I knew I was warning her, but she didn’t get it. She introduced us.

       It got a little awkward. Quil wasn’t able to come on my side and apparently most
of her friends either had other commitments or were sick with some stomach flu. Great, I
thought. Me and Bella and Mike, and all Mike and I really wanted was to be alone with
Bella. Mike was obviously also disturbed by the prospect. I let him glower and tried to
keep it light. Mike suggested that we postpone the outing. He could stay home if he
wanted, but I was pushing to go. Mike wouldn’t be left behind, and Bella asked him if I
could drive because I had just finished rebuilding the Rabbit. The pride in her voice sent
shivers of delight through my body. Mike continued to be sullen, so Bella paid attention
to me as I babbled about this and that.

       Mike asked me to turn on the radio, and I objected that “Bella [didn’t] like
music.” Bella’s eyes flashed to my face. I knew she was surprised that I had noticed.

Mike grumbled but let it drop. At the theater, Bella laughed that she had to buy my ticket
to the R-rated movie, and I told her that I had told Billy she was “[corrupting] my
youthful innocence”—of course, I had much more explicit ideas for the form of that
corruption, but we weren’t there yet. The movie was a complete blood and guts fest.
Bella was watching, but she didn’t seem really engaged in the movie. The fakeness of
the special effects made me laugh, and I commented on the impossibility of some of it.
Bella seemed much more engaged after that and often laughed with me. Both Mike and I
were hoping for the opportunity to hold Bella’s hand, so we both had our hands held
awkwardly on the arm rests waiting. Mike suddenly seemed to feel ill and left the theater
after saying so. Bella followed him, so I rose with her and followed too.

       When I checked, Mike was in the bathroom throwing up. At first, I thought the
movie had gotten to him, and I teased Bella about going out with such a wimp. I sat
down on a bench and motioned for Bella to join me. I said Mike sounded like he
wouldn’t be done soon. She sat down cautiously, anticipating that I would take
advantage of our being alone. I put my arm around her as soon as she sat down. When
she protested, I took my arm away but took her hand in mine refusing to let it go when
she tried to pull away.

       I told her that I wanted to talk to her, and I did. I wanted her to know that I liked
her, and I wanted to know how much she liked me. I knew that we liked each other
differently. I knew I loved her, and I knew that she thought she could only feel
friendship for me. But I wanted her to admit just how much she liked me, perhaps to
begin to understand that she couldn’t be without me. So I asked her questions that forced
her to admit she liked me more than anyone else. That was what I needed. I told her I
would be “annoyingly persistent”—and I intended to be. I would wear her resistance
down, and she would belong to me. She protested that her attitude wouldn’t change, but I
knew I had the advantage of time and no real competition. She liked being with me, and
I liked being with her. I told her it was enough, and it was enough for now. I asked her if
she really minded me holding her hand; she said “no” but protested that holding hands
meant different things to each of us, but I told her “that [was] my problem.”

       Holding her right hand like that I noticed the scar there. I traced my finger over
the scar and realized that it seemed cold and that seemed odd to me. I asked her how she
had gotten it, but she deflected the question. At that moment, Mike came out of the
bathroom looking terrible. He asked if we could leave; he explained that he thought he
had the stomach flu that some of their classmates had. Bella told him he should have said
something earlier; as we went to leave, I asked the girl behind the counter for a large
container for the ride home. She seemed only too happy to have us out of the theater.
We got in the car, and I handed Mike the container. We put the windows down to give
Mike the fresh air, but it also had the advantage of making Bella cold, and I put my arm
around her immediately. Bella thought I felt like I had a fever, but I assured her that I
was fine. Mike puked into the container before we were able to get him to Bella’s house.
She drove Mike and his car home while I followed, and then I drove her home.

       In the car on the ride home, I realized that I felt strange. My heart started racing.
I did feel hot suddenly, and my body felt tingly sometimes in isolated places and some
times all over. I told Bella I thought she was right about my fever. She wanted me to call
her when I got home. Before I let her go, I took hold of her wrist and wouldn’t let it go.
I wanted to tell her that “I [would] always be here” that she could “count on me” and that
“I would never, ever hurt [her].” She assured me that she knew I meant what I said, and I
left her eager to get home, to be done driving the car, so I could focus on whatever was
happening to me.

       It was hard to concentrate as I drove. I began to feel like I was burning up. A
strange kind of frantic energy was coursing through me. I had a strong desire to stop the
car and just run through the forest to burn off this crazy energy. Tingling pain shot
through my muscles. I was more and more alarmed. What could possibly be causing my
symptoms? I must have looked a sight when I walked through the door because Billy
looked staggered as soon as he saw me. He asked me if I was alright and told me to lie
down on the couch. I felt too weird to ignore him, so I did as he said. He went right to

the phone and called Sam. I couldn’t believe it. The old man was losing it. Then, Billy
wheeled over beside me and looked at me very gravely.

       He told me it was my turn to understand what was going on. My turn to
understand what had happened to Sam and the others. He reminded me of the legends of
our tribe—“the spirit warriors,” “the wolves who turned into men,” “the cold ones.”
Then he told me that what was happening to me; he said that I was turning into man who
could turn into a wolf; I was turning into a werewolf. I asked if he had been drinking, but
he swore it was true. Sam’s gang wasn’t a gang; it was a pack of werewolves. Pain
wracked through my system, and I started vibrating. Billy urged me to get up and stand
in the backyard. I struggled to do as he said. Suddenly I was afraid of the vibrating—I
was afraid that I could hurt my father if I continued to vibrate near him. The cold air felt
strangely soothing against my burning flesh. The tingling and vibrating continued until
my whole body was quaking. The quaking became more and more violent, and then I felt
myself burst apart. I was shocked to find that I wasn’t dead. I was a gigantic wolf, and
then I wasn’t alone in my own mind. Sam and the others were talking to me. They could
hear my thoughts, and I could hear theirs. I ran into the forest, and they came to meet
me. We ran together, and they started at the beginning and explained everything in more
detail than the legends or Billy had.

       The speed at which we could run was exhilarating. All my senses were
enhanced—my eyesight, my hearing, my sense of smell. And we ran, and they explained
more. The weird wolfy things like imprinting and the pack things like the power of the
Alpha’s command. It was dream-like and impossible, and yet I was a wolf, with reddish-
brown fur and razor sharp teeth. They, my pack brothers, also explained why this had
happened to us when it had not happened to our fathers or their fathers.

       Being werewolves was secret. Sam commanded me to keep the secret, and I felt
the force of the Alpha command. My mind thought instantly of Bella, and Sam answered
me, “No.” I couldn’t stop the longing that flooded my thoughts. Sam tried to comfort me
by thinking of his own betrayals to Leah and to Emily. I could feel it; his love for Leah

being trumped, rendered meaningless, by the force of imprinting on Emily, and then the
accident. Phasing too closely to Emily and slashing her face before he could regain
control. His permanent gift that he could never take back, the constant reminder of the
monster he was—what the Cullens had driven him to become. And I felt his absolute
hatred of them. But Bella knew the secret, I thought desperately, and Sam flashed
through the slashing of Emily’s face more graphically to emphasize that it was not safe. I
could do that to Bella. I had to stay away from her; our relationship had to end. It was
better to think about a girl from our tribe or a Native American anyway, someone who
had been raised to know and accept our traditions and beliefs, but I didn’t want anyone if
I couldn’t have Bella.

       Bitterness flooded through me, and I understood Sam’s hatred. I hated them
too—not just Edward but all of them—those who would separate me from my Bella. But
they were gone, I thought hopelessly, and Sam answered me. It was too late, their
presence had started the transformations. Their absence didn’t stop the process, besides
there was at least one other hunting humans around Forks. We were still needed, “the
protectors” of our tribe. He flashed through the images of the red-headed female vampire
who kept returning to Forks.

       Sam had the others phase back and talked with me alone. He reminded me of my
ancestry, Ephraim Black, the last official leader of our tribe and the last Alpha, as my one
great-grandfather and Quil Ateara as my other great-grandfather; I had werewolves on
both sides of my family. I realized what he meant. I was supposed to be the Alpha; it
was my hereditary right. I saw the obligation that status imposed, and I wanted nothing
to do with it. I didn’t want any of this. I wanted to be with Bella. I saw how one stopped
being a werewolf. You needed to learn enough control to stop phasing, and I couldn’t
imagine that kind of control. The slightest thing seemed likely to send tremors through
this new body, and it was the same for all of us—except Sam. Of course, Sam had been
dealing with it longer. With relief I realized, he was content to be the Alpha.

       Suddenly, I wasn’t just thinking of my own pain at being separated from Bella. I
thought of what it would do to her. I had slowly, carefully nurtured her dependence on
me, and I knew she was dependent on me. She needed me. I had given her a friendship
to counter the overwhelming loss she felt at loosing him—I couldn’t even think his name
for the loathing I felt, the filthy “bloodsucker,” and now I would leave her too. Sam felt
my panic, and he countered that loosing him had been worse, and he thought back to that
night Bella had been lost in the woods and how he had found her. I saw in his mind the
pathetic state he found her in. She was curled into a ball, her face ashen, her eyes hallow
and hopeless, murmuring over and over again that “he [was] gone.” She was utterly
bereft. He had never seen anything like it and never wanted to again. It would hurt her
to be separated from me, but with a stab of jealousy, I realized that she wasn’t as wholly
dependent on me as she had been to him, the unnatural “leech.”

       And then I was full of revulsion. Bella had known; she had known what he was,
and she had chosen him anyway. It was beyond comprehension. The instinct to kill a
vampire was deeply hard-wired to my werewolf identity. Through my pack brothers’
memories, I smelled them—their unnatural “sickly sweet” smell brought out a furious
desire to attack, to fight, to rip them apart, to kill them. We had the treaty with the
Cullens, and I understood it intellectually, but another more primal part of me longed to
kill them. Like Sam, I had other reasons to hate the Cullens besides them being
vampires. I had Bella, and yet I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that she had
known he was a “bloodsucker” and had chosen him anyway.

       I didn’t call Bella that night. Over the next few days, she called again and again,
and Billy put her off. I felt near physical pain from the separation that I knew would
need to be permanent, but they all told me it was for the best. I longed for Bella. I
fantasized about her—about some how making my being a werewolf and her being a
normal girl okay. I began fantasizing about her sexually and masturbated to the images
in my head. In the release I felt as I came, I suddenly realized that he couldn’t have done
the things with her that I had imagined. As a vampire, just being near her would be a
challenge, and yet, I had seen them at their prom. He held her in his arms greedily. I was

sure they had some how conquered kissing too—though the idea of Bella being close to
those teeth was both alarming and repulsive. I wondered how much more his self-control
would have permitted. I was sure they couldn’t have had sex—and I was filled with a
wild optimism that I could be the one; I could be her first lover, and then I remembered I
was werewolf and was not supposed to see her. But Sam had not forbidden me to see
her. Perhaps there was a way around our separation after all. I would need to be careful
with my thoughts around the others.

       Though I couldn’t see Bella that she was aware of, I couldn’t stay away from
her—not with a leech around. Most nights I spent at least some time roaming the woods
near her house to make sure she was safe. I had evaded Bella for a week, and I was
miserable and lonely despite four people in my head giving me encouragement and
attempting to sympathize with my feelings. I tried to block out my most private thoughts
of Bella, but we were all adolescent boys, and we all had erotic fantasies about girls and
we had all masturbated to those fantasies. In truth, the most tantalizing of our
experiences was that Sam was having sex with Emily, but he tried to keep that as private
as he could. We tried not to think about our shared sexual urges because it became a
bizarre sexual orgy of sorts when all of them flowed together. We were successful in
repressing that aspect most of the time.

       It was Saturday, and I was running with my brothers, and we caught the scent of a
“leech.” With the Cullens gone, we swept through their territory as well sometimes, and
Jared had caught the sent near their place on a solo patrol run, and we were following it.
As the scent got fresher and fresher, I realized with surge of panic that this was the area
of the forest where Bella searched for her beautiful meadow. I rejected the thought; Bella
wouldn’t have gone without me, and yet, I hadn’t spoken to her for a week. I didn’t
know the state of her mind. We ran faster, and as we closed on the “leech,” we crossed
Bella’s scent, and I my mind went wild. Sam commanded me to stay in control. Though
the treaty conditions were only violated if one of the Cullens bit a human, we would act if
this “leech” seemed threatening to Bella. We didn’t recognize him as a Cullen, but we

couldn’t be sure that he wasn’t some sort of relative; he had started at Cullen territory,
and the treaty meant that we needed to be respectful of that possibility.

       Bella recognized him and called him by name, Laurent. She tried to fake a
nonchalance, but she was obviously tense. He closed on her and began talking about his
thirst. I urged Sam to go. I didn’t want Bella bitten before we acted, and I was relieved
when he agreed. Sam moved into the clearing followed by Jared and Paul. Embry and I
flanked them. The “leech” was clearly terrified of us as we moved toward him, and so
many of us. Bella was also frozen in terror. I was closest to Bella. When she gasped, I
turned to look at her. My eyes met her frightened gaze hoping some how to convey that
it was me, and that I loved her, and would do anything to protect her. Sam barked his
command for my attention, and I had no choice but to obey. I refocused on the “leech”
who bolted into the forest, and we followed afterward—delighting in the chase and eager
for the kill. With five of us, it was ridiculously easy. Sam caught him at his throat, and
the four of us ripped his limbs off as Sam decapitated him. All that was left was burning
the pieces.

       The next week Bella continued to call, and Billy continued to buffer me. In
addition to my guilt over Bella, I felt guilt over avoiding Quil who was looking for me
and had to be scared that this was coming for him too—though he didn’t understand what
“it” was. Quil had seen me and tried to follow me into the forest. But I had phased and
run away from him. I couldn’t tell him until it happened to him too; if it happened, and a
huge part of me wished he could be spared this fate. There were five of us already; there
didn’t seem to be a need for more. We came out of the woods together in our human
forms by my house, and I could see Bella’s truck parked waiting for me. Sam reminded
me that I had to end it. I had to tell her we couldn’t be friends. I thought I would die. I
wanted to die. Anything was better than being the monster that I was.

       I knocked on her truck door and asked her what she wanted; my tone was
menacing and unfriendly. She looked at me in shock. She took in the all the changes that
seemed impossible in two weeks, my cropped hair and the changes to my face and body.

The transformation into a werewolf had vastly accelerated my physical maturation. I was
huge and muscular. I looked more like a twenty-five year old weight lifter than a gangly
tall sixteen year old. I watched her face fall when she read the anger and bitterness in
mine. She said my name, and the hesitation in her voice made the pain and agony I felt
swell again. She saw the others watching and waiting for me, and I could see the anger in
her face. Crazy Bella wanted to protect me from my brothers; she didn’t understand. I
asked her again what she wanted, and she told me that she wanted to talk to me. I told
her to talk, and she qualified that she wanted to talk alone. Sam gave me his permission,
and then he led the others into my house.

       She didn’t seem to trust Sam and the others from interfering with our
conversation, so she insisted that we walk into the forest a little ways. I told her she was
wrong. What I thought before and what I had told her were wrong. She wanted an
explanation, and I had to tell her that I couldn’t tell her. She said she “thought we were
friends,” and I countered by telling her “we were.” She argued with me, but I couldn’t
tell her what I was. I tried to explain that Sam was helping me. She tried to hug me, but
I moved away. I couldn’t bear the pain of holding what I couldn’t have and I couldn’t
bear the possibility of hurting her like Sam had done to Emily—even by accident. I told
her not to “touch me” and to “stop blaming Sam.”

       She demanded to know who to blame, and I didn’t want to do it to her. I knew
that mentioning them, the Cullens, would cause her physical pain. I asked her not to
make me, but she insisted. I told her it was “the filthy, reeking bloodsuckers that [she]
loved so much.” The shock and pain that flashed over her face were every bit as intense
as I had imagined. I felt bad in a fleeting sort of way, but I was also glad to vent my
repulsion at the choices she had made and to voice my absolute disapproval for those
choices. She was as stubborn as ever. She refused to believe that I meant the Cullens.
She was going to force me to name them despite the pain it would cause her. I asked her
not to make me say their name, but she did, and I spat it out: “the Cullens.”

       She insisted they weren’t to blame; they were gone, and I explained that their
presence had set this all “in motion”—though she didn’t understand what I meant. I tried
to end the conversation and walked back toward my house. She distracted me by telling
me about her encounter with Quil that day, and the guilt I felt about staying away from
Quil was overwhelming. I brought my fist down on a tree in frustration and was alarmed
that the tree snapped in two. Being alone with Bella was dangerous; I could do that to
her. I hurried back to the house.

       She taunted me, and I turned on her and tried to end it. I told her we couldn’t be
friends. The devastation that played on her face was unbearable. She struggled for
words, and asked if I was “breaking up with [her]”—and though I knew that was not
exactly what she meant and only the best way she could articulate the pain of our
separation, that was exactly how I felt—that I was being forced to break up with her and
the future with her that I so desperately wanted. There were more angry words, and I
looked desperately into her eyes trying to convey everything that I wasn’t allowed to say,
so she would know that I still loved her.

       She needed me so desperately that she struggled for words. Separation was not an
option for her—as I had known; she suggested that she could relax her friendship barrier,
and I was tormented by the ache and longing I had had to hear those very words. I
choked out the words it was my fault not hers, and I told her that “I [was] not good.” I
apologized and ran for the house. Even worse than ending it, telling her good-bye, was
knowing that she stood there by her truck dumbstruck by the betrayal I had delivered.
Sam ordered me out the back with my brothers to run through the forest and distract
myself some how. Billy agreed to intervene and send her home.

       When I got home, the waves of guilt flooded over me when Billy told me about
the angry conversation he had had with Charlie about Bella and me. I had to find some
way to make it right. So I phased and ran to her house and phased back and scratched the
glass of her bedroom window. When Bella came to the window, she seemed nearly
paralyzed with fear, but when she heard me call her name and recognized my voice, she

relaxed. I told her to open the window and move away, and I bounded easily into her

        As I entered her room, I smelled the stale “sickly sweet” scent of vampire—
months old but pervasive in every corner of her room, and I felt a shock of revulsion. He
had spent nights with her here, nights, under Charlie’s nose, doing God knows what with
her, maybe without her knowing God knows what. I struggled to bring my mind back to
the present. Bella was angry with me. I had hurt her too badly outside my house. She
asked me to leave. I told her I came to say I was sorry. She tried to push me back to the
window, but her strength was useless against mine. Her hands pressed against my bare
chest, and that was all I could think about. Suddenly, she was unsteady on her feet; she
was physically exhausted, so I led her back to her bed.

        She wanted to know why I was there, and I wanted to explain but I couldn’t; I
apologized again and tried to explain that I couldn’t leave her thinking that I had abandon
her. I wasn’t sure how to lead her through the thought process I needed her to travel. I
began by asking her if she had ever had a secret that wasn’t hers to tell. Her eyes
widened. She knew exactly what I meant and couldn’t tell me for some of the same
reasons I couldn’t tell her. She was so tired. I could see that, but I still pressed her to
understand, to make the connections herself. If she remembered all the stories I had told
her that first day on the beach, she would know what I was as much as she knew what he
was. I begged her to figure it out, to concentrate on what I had told her that first day on
the beach.

        I suddenly had to know. I wanted to know if I had been the one to tell her what
the Cullens were. When I asked her, she became guarded and careful. I reminded her
how secrets made people “loyal.” She asked if there wasn’t some way for me to break
free, and I told her I was in it “for life.” It broke my heart when she then suggested that
we run away together. There was nothing more in my life that I wanted more than to
seize that possibility, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t change what I had become, and I couldn’t
run away from that responsibility. I told her I had to leave and tried to explain that I

wasn’t supposed to see her. She told me not to tell them, but I knew they would know;
they would see it in my head. She didn’t understand. She was suddenly angry at Sam,
and I tried to explain that Sam and the others were helping me and that it wasn’t safe to
be with her.

       Before I left her, I challenged her to figure it out—the story that would explain
why I was being distant with her. Then a part of me flared with anger and bitterness.
She had chosen the vampire. What if she found the werewolf monstrous? I suggested
that she call if she didn’t “want to see me again.” Before I left her, I pulled her into a
tight embrace and hugged her like it was the last time I would touch her. It took me a
while to realize that she was gasping, saying that she couldn’t breathe. I released her, and
I told her to get some sleep and left silently down the stairs and out the front door.

       That night as we ran patrols over our territory and the Cullens, we caught her
scent, the red-headed female vampire, and cased her past Mount Vernon. She didn’t
make any sense. She didn’t engage us, and she ran way, but she kept coming back. What
did she want? After the chase, I had bizarre dreams centered around Bella. In one, I
imagined her with her vampire in her bedroom, touching and kissing; it was horrifying,
but there was a sick fascination to it, and I couldn’t help but watch. In another, I held
Bella down and had sex with her, so she would know it was better with me, so she would
know what I could do with her that he couldn’t. In another, it was just him and me, and
we were fighting, and I was beating him, ripping pieces of him apart, killing him,
eliminating him. In another, the red-headed vampire was chasing something I wanted,
but she was ahead of me, and I couldn’t see the object of her pursuit. Then the dreams
trailed off. In the morning, when I got out of bed, Billy told me that Bella had been there,
and that she was waiting for me at the beach. I was elated. She had figured it out so
quickly, and she was here—she still wanted to see me, even though I was a monster.

       I ran to the beach. She was sitting on a piece of drift-wood. When I called her
name, she stood up and faced me. The expression on her face was different than I
expected. She was there to reject me; I was both furious and hurt. She could accept a

vampire but not me. I didn’t try to hide my anger as I demanded to know why she had
come when she could have just called. She answered that she wanted to tell me in
person. She started to warn me about the rangers and hunters searching the woods for the
giant wolves. I was dismissive. We knew, I told her. She asked me to “try not to be a …
werewolf.” I was seething. I could feel the tremors start, and I couldn’t stop them. I
called her a “hypocrite,” and I apologized for not being the kind of monster that appealed
to her, a vampire.

       She was angry now too. She told me it wasn’t “what [I] was … it [was] what [I
did,” and she asked me if I had to “kill people.” I stared at her, and I suddenly realized
that we were having a miscommunication. The tremors stopped. She thought we were
responsible for the missing hikers; she was upset with me not because I was a gigantic
dog but because she thought I was a murderer. I had to make sure. I asked her to explain
what she was taking about. She said she didn’t care that I was a werewolf; I was only
monstrous if I “hurt” other people. I couldn’t believe it. Relief flooded through me, and
I started to laugh. I walked over to her and pulled her into a hug; I was so happy that it
obscured everything else, and it took me a while to realize that she was gasping again,
begging for me to release her.

       I dropped my arms but held both of her hands in mine, and I promised her that I
wasn’t a “killer.” She was so relieved that she wrapped her arms around me and hugged
me back. She had questions, of course, and I tried to answer them. I told her that
werewolves only protected people from one enemy, vampires, that their existence
necessitates ours. She realized there was a vampire hunting around Forks. At first, she
thought it was the one from the meadow who she had called Laurent. She realized that it
had been us in the meadow when the “leech” had tried to attack her. I tried to explain
that we had killed him after we drove him away from her. I made sure she wasn’t mad
that we had killed him; he didn’t bite her after all; we had acted preemptively.

       Then she told me that she had been terrified every night, waiting for him to come
for her. I felt so badly that she had been so scared. I told her she should have told me.

She shot back that I had been avoiding her at that time. I tried to explain that my brothers
had told me to stay away from her for her own safety. She didn’t understand that at first,
but then she remembered how my body had vibrated. I was mortified; I had been on the
verge of losing control near Bella; I could have hurt her. I explained that if I lost control,
got too upset, I would turn into a werewolf. I tried to comfort her; we were working on
the situation; we would deal with it (Bella and me together).

         Suddenly, she realized that it wasn’t over. That there was another vampire still
hunting, and I explained about the “leech’s” mate, the red-headed female. As I talked,
panic surged through Bella, and she made several dry heaves and then became limp. I
caught her and demanded that she tell what was wrong. She choked out the name,
Victoria, and she began to explain. Victoria’s mate was James, not Laurent. Victoria
was after Bella. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Edward had killed James, and
Victoria wanted to kill Bella—the black haired “leech” from the meadow had explained
this to Bella before we drove him off. She struggled to get out the next part that Victoria
obviously didn’t know that they, Bella and Edward, weren’t together anymore, that he
had left her.

         Though I was sorry for her pain, I felt a surge of triumph. The stupid
“bloodsucker” had left her, ended their relationship, didn’t want her any more. I would
make it up to her. Now that she knew what I was, we would find a way to be together,
and I would make her never feel pain for that “bloodsucker” again. When she said that
she was “nothing special,” I couldn’t contain my indignation, and I “growled” through
my teeth. I started to abuse him verbally, but she begged me to stop; it was too painful
for her. I stood up supporting her as I did. I needed to get her information to Sam. I
took her to her truck and ran into the woods to phase. Once a wolf, I quickly told the
others to meet me, keeping my information brief and limited. I phased back and rejoined

         She was clearly terrified, and I tried to soothe her, and ridiculously, she was afraid
more for us than for herself. She asked where I had gone when I left her alone. I

hesitated—it might seem too strange. I explained that as wolves we could hear each
other’s thoughts. She didn’t seem to be terribly bothered by it. I told her she was “good
with weird.” She told me that Edward could read minds. I didn’t like that; our legends
suggested that some “bloodsuckers” had extra abilities, but we hadn’t believed them.

        We went to meet Sam and the others. I explained how Sam was the Alpha of our
pack and that his orders had to be followed. I told her there were other “wolf things” that
I was still learning. I told her how scary my transformation had been, and how much
harder it had been for Sam to go through it alone—being the first to transform. I warned
her that the others would be annoyed that she was with me, but I told her that it was
important for her to be there; she had information we needed and could use. Edward
came up, and I knew that thinking about him caused her pain; I tried to suggest that it was
better she wasn’t involved with him, but she shut down the conversation; she couldn’t
bear to talk about it.

        I expected my brothers to be angry. They would have been puzzled and mad that
I had been able to get passed Sam’s order not to tell Bella. But once they got passed that,
Bella had information we needed, and they would see that. Paul, of course, was the most
belligerent, and soon he was shaking with rage. I moved between Bella and Paul, and
that completely set him off. He phased and got ready to spring. I leaped at Paul and
phased as I lunged. Paul and I were tackling each other and snarling as wolves. I drove
Paul into the forest away from Bella, and we continued to brawl. I heard Sam order Bella
to stay still and then for Embry and Jared to take Bella to Emily’s. As we fought, I was
able to sink my teeth into one of Paul’s front legs. He had it coming, trying to attack
Bella like that. Paul started to calm down, and he heard the conversation I had had with
Bella in my mind, and he was stunned. He apologized, and we phased back and went to
find Sam to explain and then rejoin the others. Sam was stunned too. Knowing what the
red-head wanted would make it easier. I was forgiven. I told Sam I wanted Bella on the
reservation as much as possible, and he said the choice would be hers.

       Paul and I were mock fighting when we entered Emily’s. The food smelled
intoxicating, and I was suddenly ravenously hungry. Bella stood anxiously at the kitchen
counter picking at a muffin. Her face relaxed as soon as she saw me—just like always.
Though she was nervous, she was “holding up.” Bella seemed stunned by the wolfy way
we healed; there was a mark on Paul’s arm, but I explained that even that would be gone
by nightfall. I assured her I was fine. Sam told the others that I had information for
them, and I explained that the red-head wanted Bella and why. Jared, Embry, and Emily
were all surprised by this information. They all reappraised Bella then. Jared suggested
Bella as “bait,” and I threw something at him, but we all saw that we could use Bella or
the red-head’s desire for Bella to lure her to where we wanted her. We talked strategy,
dividing up, and such.

       Sam then spoke to Bella and told her that I wanted her at La Push as often as she
could be until this situation was dealt with. She was instantly worried about her father,
and I told her that I would have Billy work on that. Sam returned to Bella at La Push and
told her that she had to make that choice—because there were risks to being around
werewolves; Paul’s attack and Emily’s face were the graphic reminders. She chose to
accept the risks. Again Bella worried about us, and she asked us to be careful. We all
(my wolf brothers at least) busted up laughing at her concern. After breakfast at Emily’s,
Bella and I spent most of the day at my house; she called her dad and invited him for
dinner. Charlie arrived with pizza. I noticed Charlie watching us during dinner. He was
obviously trying to take in the way I had grown and changed since the last time he had
seen me. He asked about my hair cut, and I said it was easier.

       I walked Bella to her truck after dinner, and we both waited for Charlie to leave. I
told her not to be scared and that we would be watching. Again, she worried for us, and I
told her she was “silly.” Charlie stubbornly waited for Bella, and then followed her
home. He seemed annoyed with her.

       Bella and I spent Sunday on the beach while Charlie and Billy watched basketball
at the house. The next week was spring break, so Bella could spend her days at La Push

without worrying about school. Knowing her anxieties, I wouldn’t let go of her when we
were alone. I either held her hand or put my arm around her shoulders; she was least
resistant to the hand holding. On Tuesday, she had to work, so I followed her there and
met her when her shift was over. We talked easily in our time alone together, but I had
other responsibilities too. We ran extra patrols at night, and I tried to catch up on sleep. I
felt badly for the time I left Bella alone. Tuesday night we retreated into my garage to
talk, just the two of us. I talked to her about the night I transformed, what it was like, and
how I nearly phased too close to Billy. She asked me how I was, and I told her I was
better. It was better having her know. I didn’t like the lack of control that filled me with
insecurity about whether I could hurt someone I cared about. I told her I didn’t want to
be a monster.

       There was more. I tried to explain that a lot of wolf things just “[came easier for
me]” because of my heritage: two of my great-grandfathers were werewolves. She asked
me what I liked the best, and I told her the “speed,” faster than a vampire. That made an
impression on her. Then I asked her to tell me about her vampires, and I asked her about
why Edward had killed James. She told me James had tried to kill her—that that was the
whole mess down in Phoenix when she had been hurt. I was stunned. She touched the
scar on her hand, and I asked about it again. She told me that James had bitten her, and I
struggled to understand how that could be—how she could be human if he had bitten her.
She explained that Edward had “sucked the venom out.” I couldn’t control the trembling.
He had allowed her to be hurt. He had tasted her blood. She had been in danger of
becoming one of them. I didn’t know which thought was worse. She told me to calm
down. I asked her to distract me with information about her vampires. I could see her
hesitation, but she told me that Alice could read the future and Jasper could control
people’s emotions.

       Bella clutched her arms around her chest, and I asked why she did that. She
explained that it caused her pain to think about them, and it helped; it made her feel like
she could hold together that way. In a way, we both had issues with holding a stable
form; I remarked on it and reminded her that “we [had] each other.” Wednesday Bella

started at Emily’s and then went to the beach. I ran patrols, and when I was done, I found
her on the beach balled up against the mental and physical pain that thinking about the
Cullens caused her. I wished she wouldn’t think about them, but I knew we had been
talking about them a lot, much more than our usual avoidance of mentioning them
altogether. I pulled her into my arms, and apologized for the horrible spring break she
was having. I promised to spend the following morning with her. I promised to take her
cliff diving. The idea obviously pleased her and her eyes gleamed in that peculiar and
hungry way.

       But the red-headed vampire seemed determined to ruin my time with Bella.
Embry, Jared, and Paul “crossed a fresh trail [during the] early morning,” and we all went
hunting in the forest, trying to find her or to pick up more trails. Billy would explain to
Bella, but I felt badly. I didn’t want to keep leaving her alone, and I wanted to honor my
promise. And then the scent ripped through my nostrils, and I wanted nothing more than
to rip the bitch “bloodsucker” apart. We chased her, but every time one of us got near
her, she just managed to slip past us. Then, she headed to the ocean. She dove in when
she reached it and started swimming away. Suddenly, I was terrified for Bella. What if
she was on the beach? What if the “bloodsucker” found her there? Reading my panic,
Sam told me to go and find Bella. I found her truck and realized that she had jumped off
the cliff without me, from the top no less. I couldn’t see her in the water. I phased back
and jumped into the water. Her body was limp, and she was slowly sinking down. She
was unconscious. Horror washed through me. No, I thought, not my Bella.

       I grabbed her with one arm and towed her to the shore. On the beach, I clapped
her back sharply trying to expel the water in her lungs. I called her name and ordered her
to breathe. Sam was suddenly there asking how long she had been under. I wasn’t sure;
not long. We both heard her labored breathing restart, and Sam assured me she would
“come around.” She came round and called my name; I couldn’t believe the relief I felt.
She was okay; she was safe—utterly insane, of course, but safe. Sam left to return to the
hospital; Harry Clearwater had had a heart attack and a lot of people were there for Harry
and for his family. I pulled Bella into my arms and carried her to my house. She asked

what had happened, and I told her I had been looking for her. She apologized for being
stupid, and I told her to wait for me for the crazy stuff. I also explained that the red-head
had escaped through the water and that was the main reason I had come looking for her.
She picked up on Sam’s mention of the hospital, and I told her Harry Clearwater had had
a heart attack.

        At the house, I placed her on the couch, and I got her a set of sweats that were
ridiculously too big but dry. She didn’t want me to leave her alone, even for her to
change, and asked me to stay with her. I thought my heart would purr if it could—I
wouldn’t leave her, I would stay with her, I wouldn’t be parted from her. I sat on the
floor in front of the couch and leaned my head back. I should have known better; I was
asleep before I realized it.

        The next moment it seemed like I heard the door open and the lights went on. I
jerked awake and jumped up. Billy’s face said it all; there were pain and sorrow in his
face. Bella read it too. I crossed to my father and took his hand. Sam helped Billy
through the door; his face too held the pain and sorrow of my father’s. Bella murmured
her condolences and then asked about Charlie. Billy explained that Charlie was helping
Sue make the arrangements that had to be made. Sam excused himself, and Billy
retreated to his room. I sat down near Bella, and she tried to comfort me. My thoughts
returned to her, and I asked how she felt. She didn’t look particularly good. I went to get
her truck. When I got back, I helped her up and put my arm around her, and I kept it
around her even as I drove her home.

        We were outside of her house. The near drowning experience had made me
desperate to get closer to her. I turned toward her and put my other arm around her and
hugged her tightly. I tried to tell her how happy I was that she was okay, and I pressed
my face against her hair. It smelled pretty much like the ocean, but there was also Bella’s
scent there, her delicious, seductive scent. I wanted to kiss her, and then I felt her freeze
against me. I sensed the rejection and released her. Perhaps it was too soon. I opened
the door, and the force of the scent shocked me. Vampire! At Bella’s house. I started

convulsing. What was the best thing to do? It was hard to think straight. I decided I
needed to get Bella away from there. We started to drive away, but Bella demanded that
I stop. She insisted that she knew the black car that sat parked across from her house.
She said it was one of the Cullens’ cars. I didn’t want to let her out of my sight. But she
insisted on going back. The tremors kept coming. I thought she was insane. She
insisted. I couldn’t take her back; she could do it herself if she was so determined. I
couldn’t be near that thing. I had to get back to Sam. I left Bella there in her truck
hoping that she wasn’t about to be killed by the vampire waiting for her.

       As I ran away, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that she would really want
to see one of them again, could trust one of them again. I was disgusted, and I felt
betrayed. I ran to distract myself. When I got home, I called her—to find out whether
she was still alive enough to answer the phone. She answered, and I that was all I could
bear to listen to. I hung up on her.

       Sam was as surprised as I was that a Cullen was back. We weren’t sure what to
make of that news. It meant that we where supposed to keep off Cullen land, so that
would make hunting the red-head more complicated. If one was back, were the others
coming back too? There were so many questions. In the morning, Sam sent Jared,
Embry, and me back to Bella’s to get some answers.

       We could smell it in there with Bella. I steeled myself against the stench, and
leaving Jared and Embry in the Rabbit, I went to Bella’s door and rang the bell. Bella
answered the door after my second ring. I could tell that the little female Cullen had left.
It made it slightly easier to focus on the information that I needed. I confirmed that Bella
was alone. My obvious discomfort with one of her vampires irritated her. She goaded
me into entering the house alone. I was shaking slightly. We were hostile toward each
other, and though I hated that, I didn’t have enough control to be otherwise. We, the
pack, wanted to know how long the Cullen would here. Bella wasn’t sure. We needed
Bella to explain to the Cullen about the red-headed vampire and the problems that
presented for us protecting her. She assented. We also wanted to know if the rest of the

Cullens were returning. Her answer was “no.” I was relieved at that much. She was still
angry, and she bid me to return to Sam in the most sarcastic way she could manage.

       I turned to go, but I hesitated at the door. She had her back to me; she thought I
had left. She sobbed against the counter. Hurting me caused her pain. I called her name
and apologized to her. I promised to be her friend, but I couldn’t promise to be around
her when she was around her vampires. I pulled her into my arms, but it was difficult to
keep her there. The vampire smell overpowered her own scent. I told her she smelled of
them. She revealed that apparently, we smelled as repugnant to vampires as they did to
us. That was interesting.

       I told her I would miss her while the Cullen was there; she protested, and I told
her that it was too much of a risk—both she and Sam would be mad if I broke the treaty
and killed her Cullen. She tried to pull away from me then, but I held her fast and pulled
her face up so that she could look at me. We gazed into each other’s eyes, and I cupped
her face in my hands and moved to kiss her. The phone beside us suddenly rang. I
grabbed it without releasing her. The voice on the other end made me go rigid: vampire.
He asked for Charlie and asked where he was when I said Charlie wasn’t home. I told
him “at the funeral.” He gave his name and hung up. Bella was furious that I had
answered her phone, but before we could fight it out, I knew the little female Cullen was
back. I tried to remain calm, but I had to get out of the house, away from her, so I
wouldn’t do anything rash. In my confusion, I knocked Bella over. I was at the door and
about to go, but something about the little Cullen, the horror of her expression, caught me
off-guard, and I hesitated.

       She said his name, “Edward,” and Bella began to collapse as she took in the little
Cullen’s expression and words. I caught Bella and moved her to the couch. I was
shaking but trying to keep it under control. The little Cullen ordered me to calm down;
resentfully, I tried harder. Bella asked her what she had seen. Ugh! It was true; she had
extra abilities too. It was complicated, but it all boiled down to the following. The little
Cullen had seen Bella jump of the cliff and not come out of the water. She thought that

meant Bella had killed herself, and she told some of her family members and had come to
Forks. One of them, Rosalie, had called Edward and told him Bella was dead. Edward
then called Bella’s, talked to me, and thought that Charlie was attending Bella’s funeral,
and he was going to Italy to die, to ask the vampires there to destroy him. Not all of it
made sense to me. Bella’s reaction to full the understanding of these events was hardest
to understand of them all.

       She was intent on going with Alice to stop Edward; she was willing to go running
into some kind of vampire compound with the wild hope of saving Edward, the vampire
who had dumped her. I was both dumbfounded and desperate. She couldn’t do this. If
the little Cullen hadn’t been there, there was no way I would have allowed her to. Even
the little Cullen acknowledged the risks; she told Bella that she didn’t feel comfortable
asking her to take the risks. They could be too late, and if they were, they would both die
along with Edward. But Bella was gung-ho on going. Bella went to write a note to
Charlie and gather some clothes and her passport. I begged her not to go as she wrote.
Left alone with the little Cullen, we exchanged hostilities. The little Cullen went to the
car, and I begged Bella to stay “for Charlie, for me.” It pained me enormously that
nothing that I could say would sway her; she was determined to go, and all I could do
was stand there helplessly and hope that she didn’t die.

       When Charlie came home to an empty house and Bella’s lame note, he was livid.
The note gave no specifics, no contact information—just “with Alice” and “Edward’s in
trouble.” He called me to grill me on where they had gone. I knew more than I let on,
but I didn’t understand it all myself, and I couldn’t tell Charlie about vampires and

       I reported what I understood to my brothers. None of us knew what to make of it.
But it did eliminate the problem the Cullens caused for our hunting the red-head. The
red-head returned while Bella was away. We were chasing her, and she didn’t seem
eager to run away until she crossed the scent of the little Cullen, and then she was in a
hurry to leave. It was a very anxious couple of days for me. I had no idea whether Bella

was alive or dead or whether she would ever come back to Forks. The idea of Bella
being reunited with Edward also tormented me. I didn’t believe that she would forgive
him after all the pain he had caused her, but I couldn’t bear the thought of him anywhere
near her.

        Charlie called Billy to let us know Bella was back, exhausted but apparently all
right. Charlie seemed to be most upset by the fact that Edward had brought her home,
carried her into their home from his car, and that Bella seemed content to be reunited
with him. Billy admitted this to me cautiously. I didn’t like how it sounded either and
was quaking with rage by the time he spit it all out. It couldn’t be. She wouldn’t do that
to me. But as the days slid past, it became obvious Bella had forgiven Edward, and they
were back together. Charlie groused about having to put up with Edward to Billy, so I

        Bella called all the time, but I wouldn’t take her calls. She could explain herself
in person or not at all. He must have been keeping her from seeing me, and I couldn’t
believe she was actually listening to him. What was the hold he had over her? How
could she forgive him? I felt ill, like my guts had been wrenched out and turned inside
out. When I didn’t eat, I became down right surly. Running was the only thing that
seemed to release the anger and hatred I felt. The weeks slid by. The horrible aching
emptiness I felt was as painful as ever. I missed Bella so, but I wouldn’t be near her and
her “bloodsucker.” I got desperate. There had to be a way to keep them apart.

        It occurred to me that if she got in trouble, Charlie would ground her, and she
wouldn’t be able to see Edward. What would get her in enough trouble for that? I knew
the answer was her motorcycle. Charlie would go berserk if he knew. But it would be a
betrayal of her trust. She had made me promise not to tell even Billy for fear of Charlie
finding out. But she had betrayed me. She had gone back to her “bloodsucker” without
even, it appeared, a parting thought to me. Narking on Bella would have the added
advantage of putting me in the good books with Charlie. She would be furious with me,
but I could handle that if it worked, if it kept her from him.

         I waited until a Saturday when she would be working, and I got on her bike and
rode it to her house. I rang the bell, and Charlie looked pleasantly surprised to see me on
his doorstep. He asked me in, but I said that since Bella didn’t appear to be talking to me
anymore, I thought I should return her bike, and I handed the keys to Charlie. His eyes
flashed past me to the red bike in the driveway, and for a moment I thought he was going
to have a stroke. He sucked in his breath and his eyes just about bugged out of their
sockets. He turned a whole series of brilliant reds, and then managed to choke out, “Her
         “Yeah,” I lied causally. “I told her it wasn’t a good idea, but you know how she
can be stubborn,” and I left it like that. I told him good-bye and started walking toward
home. Mission accomplished.

         I walked past the sight of the house and headed just into the forest to wait for
them. Sam wanted to remind the “bloodsuckers” of a key issue in the treaty, and I had
volunteered because at least I would get to see Bella. I saw them approach Bella’s house
in his car, and I knew he knew I was there when he continued past the house and parked
near where I was—whether he could smell me or hear me I didn’t know. I heard him
explain to her that I was still there. She wanted to confront me; she was furious. He told
her that I wanted to speak to him—so I knew he could hear my thoughts. She was
instantly worried about a fight, but he soothed her. Ugh! He knew I was speaking for the

         I waited for them, barely able to contain the loathing and anger I felt. He stopped
when he saw me and positioned her behind his body protectively. He was trying to
protect her from me—it was ridiculous. I greeted her curtly, and she asked me why. I
said it was “for the best,” but I wouldn’t explain any more. Edward answered her
questions when I wouldn’t. He told her I was trying to get her grounded so that she
couldn’t spend time with him. She explained she already was grounded and that was why
she hadn’t been over to see me. I felt relief—it wasn’t that I wasn’t important to her any
more. He continued telling her my thoughts; he explained that I thought he wouldn’t let

her visit not Charlie. Bella wasn’t joking about his abilities; they were seriously
annoying. I snapped at him that he probably knew the message I was sent to deliver since
he could pick everything else out of my head.

       He answered yes, but he surprised me by thanking me. I couldn’t imagine what
he was talking about, and Bella seemed just as confused as I was. He explained that I and
the pack had kept Bella safe when he had not. I told him I didn’t do it for him, but it
didn’t seem to matter to him. He said he would “owe” me. I called him on it; in my
mind I thought, “The thing I want is for you to leave again.” He said he would stay as
long as Bella wanted him to stay. Bella suddenly seemed to guess at the full
conversation, and she looked up into his face and said, “Never.” I struggled not to vomit
on the spot.

       Bella turned to look at me and wanted to know what else I wanted. I mentioned
the treaty, and Edward cut me off by and said that they remembered everything. Bella
asked what about the treaty, and I explained it to her. The treaty was more specific than
prohibiting the Cullens from killing a human, if one of them bit a human, the treaty was
void. Bella’s angry response stunned me. “That’s none of your business,” she said. I
started shaking immediately. I couldn’t believe it. He would take the girl I loved and
turn her into a vampire, and she would want THAT! I couldn’t even see for the rage and
fury that I felt. I heard her move toward me, but he pulled her back behind him, warning
her that I wasn’t in control.

       I knew it was her desire to hold me, and I so desperately wanted to hold her. I
calmed down and spat at him that “I would never hurt her.” He hissed at me, and I
thought I actually might get to fight him, and then Charlie’s bellowing broke the tension
around us. He was demanding that Bella get into the house. Bella was upset about
facing Charlie, and I apologized for the bike. Edward asked if we had seen Victoria
again, and I explained we had while Bella was away, but she bolted when she picked up
his sister’s scent. Charlie started screaming again, and Edward tried to usher Bella to the
house. She hesitated; she stepped toward me again, and again he pulled her back. I told

him to let her go, to let her come to me, and I moved toward her. But he pulled her
behind him and turned to face me, and then Charlie was screaming again, and Edward
succeeded in pulling her toward the house, his eyes never leaving me and his arm never
leaving her.

       Seeing Bella and Edward together was more than I could bear. I ran through the
forest trying to distract myself from my pain and misery. It was all so incomprehensible
to me. The Cullens were back, and Bella had seemingly forgiven Edward for everything.
The way she had looked into his eyes and said “never” replayed in my mind like a scene
from a horror movie that gave you nightmares but that you couldn’t seem to forget. I
would have given everything I had for her to look at me like that, to want me like that. I
couldn’t understand. And worse than the way she looked at him was that she was willing
to become a “bloodsucker” herself, to join him. The treaty would forbid it; it would
mean war. That was something to look forward to at least. I couldn’t picture Bella as a
vampire. She was my helpless, irresponsible Bella, my porcelain doll—absolutely
perfect the way she was. What would we do? What would Sam say? I had no idea.

       Sam suggested that if becoming a vampire was Bella’s choice, it might alter the
way we would look at it, but the majority was just interested in the fight, the war that her
choice would mandate, so we would wait. Until they broke the treaty, there was little to
do or decide. That she could make such a choice was still so unfathomable to me. I still
refused to answer Bella’s phone calls, and they began to be less frequent. Her new line
of attack was to send notes through Charlie. I mostly ignored them, but I finally wrote
one back. I started half a dozen angry sentences but crossed them all off, including the
one telling her her notes were painful to me. The only positive thing I could say was, “I
miss you, too. A lot. Doesn’t change anything. Sorry.”

       The miserable routine of my life without Bella continued. Graduation approached
steadily. I knew that Bella was going to visit her mother over the weekend because
Charlie had mentioned it to Billy, but I didn’t think anything of it. But we all considered
what the significance of Bella’s three day trip to Florida might mean. Would he change
her there? Would the war begin? Would we really go to war with the Cullens when
Bella had chosen to become of vampire of her own free will?

       That Saturday night we caught the scent of the red-head, and we chased her. To
our surprise the Cullens were all in place on their side of the border hunting her too. The

little dark haired female must have seen her coming, I guessed. The red-head seemed to
have a knack for escape because she stayed right on the boundary line letting neither the
Cullens nor us gain an advantage over her. At one point, the big male Cullen crossed the
line, and Paul went wild. The male Cullen’s mate, the disconcertingly beautiful blond,
got involved, and then suddenly the leader and the younger blond male were there; the
younger one messing with us and calming us all down. By the time we had it under
control, the red-head had fled to the ocean. The younger males, the big one and the
blonde one, wanted to cross our land and follow her, but we wouldn’t let them.

       After the incident, Sam wanted us to re-establish that the treaty was in effect—
that the Cullens were okay with what had happened and we also needed to ascertain
Bella’s status after her trip. I volunteered again. I didn’t know when Bella would be
back, so I started calling Charlie’s house ridiculously early. I badgered him all day. I
called again crazy with worry, and she answered. I couldn’t hide my annoyance that she
hadn’t called me first, and I could hear the irritation in response in her voice. I asked if
she would be at school the next day; she said “yes,” and then I let her go. I knew she
wouldn’t understand, but I would be able to deliver my message to the Cullens at Bella’s
school because I was sure given the red-head’s persistence, he would be with her,
watching her or having her watched.

       I was waiting for them to arrive at their school. As they arrived, I heard him try to
convince her to stay in the car. As soon as she saw me, she refused, and I struggled to
resist the smile that was my natural response. Edward read my mind, of course. Filthy
“bloodsucker”! and knew that I was there to represent the pack again. He tried to
explain that to her. He positioned her again behind his body—like he needed to protect
her from me. Edward was uncomfortable with this confrontation here in front of their
classmates. It sickened me that he suggested I just call Bella to reach him. He tried to
end the conversation before it began. He told me he knew the message and said they
were “warned” meaning about crossing the boundary lines. Bella didn’t understand and
asked questions. I answered her. It became clear that she not only didn’t know anything

about what had happened Saturday night between Paul and his brother, but she didn’t
know that the red-head had returned. He hadn’t told her anything!

        Edward seemed to be determined to keep Bella from figuring this out, but I spat
out at him that “it [was] her life” and she had “a right to know.” Edward disagreed;
protecting her was more important to him. We argued back and forth, and then it
occurred to me that if he could read my thoughts I could show him some images that
should sicken him. So I thought very carefully and purposefully of the image Sam had of
the night he found Bella in the woods, the image I had of Bella when she first came to see
me, and the images I had of her clutching herself---desperate to hold herself together after
he had ripped her apart. The look on his face was sheer torture. Torture that I recognized
from my time away from Bella. I gloated in his pain.

        Bella noticed Edward’s pain and told me to stop. He tried to dismiss his pain, but
Bella and I could both see that it tormented him—but with completely opposite reactions
to that torment. Edward again tired to usher Bella away from me—to English class and
away from the principal who was on his way. But I was desperate. I called him
“overprotective” and told her if she wanted “a life again,” she could find it with me at La

        I didn’t want to say any of this in front of him, but I wasn’t sure I would get any
other opportunity, so I sucked in my pride and blurted it out. I told her how much I
missed her every day. I told her it was hard to survive without her. She started to
comfort me as I knew she would. I laid it on thicker—I told her I would try to survive. I
sensed her flex her muscles to reach out to me, and I saw how he held her back. Again
rage flooded my mind, and I struggled to refrain from convulsing.

        The principal arrived, and though Bella tried to comfort me, Edward deftly moved
her behind his body again to shield her from me. The principal started threatening the
lingering students, and Edward was only too keen to get Bella way from me. When the

principal questioned me, I was belligerent and cocky, if he made good on his threat with
the police, Charlie would give me some slack. I left as disrespectfully as I could manage.

       It seemed hopeless. How would Bella ever be able to see me between her
grounding status and Edward’s obvious distrust and repulsion of me as a werewolf? The
following Saturday, it dumbfounded me when I heard the noise that could only be Bella’s
truck arriving outside our house. I was in the doorway to make sure it was true before
she was out of the truck. She explained that she had made “a snap decision” to see me
and had been able to get to me before the psychic could stop her. I hugged her tightly to
me, and again I was so happy that I didn’t realize I was cutting off her breathing. She
had to beg me to stop, so she could breathe normally. It was so good to see her and have
her here. I was overwhelmed by the depth of my emotion.

       We walked toward the beach. After our initial exchange of pleasantries, we were
left with what had happened since she ran off with the little Cullen and what had
happened after that. I knew the anger showed on my face, but I could help it. I asked her
if she had forgiven him, and she answered, “There was nothing to forgive.” She was out
of her mind. I brought up the way she looked when Sam found her. I continued, and
then she told me the reason he left. She said that he left because he didn’t think it was
safe for her to be around vampires. What? That caught me by surprise. I never imagined
that the “bloodsucker” and I would agree on anything when it came to Bella. But he
didn’t stay away, I countered, and Bella answered back that “[she] went and got him.” I
struggled with how to respond to that but decided to change the subject, so I asked for the
story of what happened when she went to get him.

       She hesitated, and I goaded her. Couldn’t she tell me? She answered that it was a
long story. I told her I didn’t mind, and we went to sit on our piece of driftwood. She
asked if I could behave, if I could refrain from making disparaging comments about her
friends. I promised; I “pretended to lock [my] lips and [throw away the key].” She
explained that when Edward thought she was dead, he had planned on going to Italy to
ask the Volturi to kill him. Alice saw Edward’s decision to go to the Volturi, so they had

gone to Italy so he could see that Bella was alive. Then Alice, Bella, and Edward were
taken to the Volturi to explain themselves, and Edward convinced the Volturi that they
presented no threat to them, and they were allowed to leave. I was good and only
interrupted once when I realized that the little Cullen couldn’t see us (werewolves). Once
Bella was done, she asked to know what happened on Saturday night, so I told her. She
interrupted me only to give me the names of the different Cullen family members. I
didn’t care, but she was persistent in telling me their names anyway. I asked her what
Edward had told her. Her reply was the same story without all the specifics. We could
look forward to the red-head coming back, I told her. The knowledge didn’t seem to
comfort her.

       It made me sad to think about how arbitrary events had changed our lives. If
Bella had only waited to cliff dive with me, Alice wouldn’t have seen her jump at all, and
they wouldn’t have come back, and it would be Bella and me just like it had been for
most of this year. She asked what I was thinking, and I told her. She said that Edward
would have returned. I questioned that, but she was convinced—she said neither of them
did well apart. I didn’t know about that. I only knew that their being together stopped
me being with her, and I was still full of regret that Bella hadn’t waited for me.

       Instead of fighting with her I told her that Sam was very disappointed in her
forgiveness of her vampires, and as I started Sam’s story, I watched an eagle streak from
the sky to catch a fish and fly off with it. This was the way of nature, I thought bitterly.
The predator stalks the prey, and in the right trap, the prey is snared and devoured. How
could Bella not see Edward as the predator? Did his looks or his money obscure the fact
that he was a killer? I suggested these things and asked her about what could motivate
her. My questions infuriated her. She got up and tried to walk away, but I wouldn’t let
her. I grabbed her wrist and forced her to face me. I told her I just didn’t understand, and
I couldn’t.

       She said she loved him because he was “the most loving and unselfish and
brilliant and decent person [she’d] ever met.” She was impossible; she was completely

blind to the way he manipulated her, blind to the power of the tools he used to attract her,
blind to the lies he told to hold her. She asked what an appropriate reason would be to
love someone, and my answer was finding someone in one’s “own species.” I meant
myself, of course, but she countered by mentioning Mike Newton. She could hit below
the belt! I hated to think of her with that wimpy guy; it was almost as vile as thinking of
her and her vampire. She told me I could be nicer about the Cullens, but they were
unnatural. She suggested that I was also unnatural, but I protested that. I was born the
way I was—with this ability; it was part of the tribe identity, and even if it was weird, it
didn’t stop me from being human.

       I was suddenly vulnerable; the aches of missing her so badly these weeks and of
wanting her to want me the way I wanted her were too much. When I hesitated and
looked away from her, she saw my pain and took my hand. She started to comfort me,
and I let her. Hand-in-hand I led her back to the driftwood bench. We were quiet for a
while, and then she started asking about my friends. I started to give her an up-date. I
guessed that Edward would be mad at Bella for her trip to see me, and I asked her about
it. He would worry about her safety, she explained. When I suggested she stay here
permanently, she said that that would probably make him coming looking for her. The
ideas of the “bloodsucker” breaking the treaty and the fight that would erupt were very
appealing. She was very annoyed when I expressed my eagerness for those things. She
told me that the idea of Edward and me trying to kill each other made her insane, and she
asked me to stop. She thought he was better at curbing his hostilities toward me, but I
knew he was just better at lying than I was.

       Our conversation brought us back to the story I had started about Sam. I
explained that Sam and Leah had originally been together. They loved each other. When
Sam transformed, he disappeared, and no one knew where he was. Sam didn’t
understand what was going on at first. When he did, he couldn’t tell Leah, but they were
trying to make it work. Then, Sam saw Emily, and everything changed; he imprinted on
Emily, and I explained what that meant. He hurt Leah, but there was nothing he could do
about it, so he hates the Cullens for making him hurt Leah, for making him what we are.

During the story, to emphasize the way our temperatures mark us as different from
normal people, I cupped one hand around Bella’s face and pulled it toward my own. I
could see her discomfort, but I didn’t care. She freed her face by taking my hand in her
own, and the compromise was we were holding hands. At least, I was touching her. She
tried to explain that the Cullens didn’t know their presence would make the members of
our tribe become wolves again. I told her it didn’t really matter whether they knew or

       She told me to “grow up,” and I told her I couldn’t. It was one of the wolfy
things; when we transform, we grow to full maturity and stay that way until we can
control ourselves long enough to stop phasing. Her reaction surprised me; she had a
complete hissy fit. I didn’t understand it. It didn’t matter that I was technically sixteen; I
didn’t look sixteen. She asked me if I had imprinted. How she could ask, with me so
obsessed with her, I didn’t understand, but I explained that only Sam and Jared had
imprinted, and I told her Jared’s story. I shared a detail about Kim, Jared’s girl, and Bella
thought Jared was insensitive for sharing that with us. I explained that we didn’t have a
choice; we could read each other’s thoughts as wolves, so we all knew each other’s story.
It was the part I hated most, and she commiserated with me.

       It occurred to me that it must be like that with her and her vampire—that he
would be in her head all the time, and I asked Bella about that. She explained that
Edward couldn’t read her thoughts; she was his exception, and “they [didn’t] know why.”
When she suggested that it meant there was something wrong with how her mind
worked, I agreed. Anyone who would willingly “date” a vampire had some serious
mental issues. We sat quietly for a while. My mind drifted to the movie Bella and I had
gone to with Mike Newton and the way it seemed “easier” to be with her then, when I
was a human boy and she was a human girl and there were no vampires in Forks. It was
good remembering that, and when she asked me what I was thinking, I told her. But the
idea of remembering and good memories made her think of the confrontation between
Edward and me at school earlier.

       She demanded to know what I had remembered. I laughed as I thought back on it.
That was a great memory—the way the “bloodsucker’s” face had twisted in pain. I had
really enjoyed that. I told her I had remembered the zombie images of her after he left, of
how she looked when Sam found her, of how she looked the first day in my garage, and
of how she used to need to hold herself together. She was angry at me and hit my
shoulder. She tried to get me to swear not to do it again. I wouldn’t, but then she got up
to leave, and I grabbed her hand and wouldn’t let her leave me. To get her to stop
struggling against me, I agreed not to do it again.

       I suggested that we went back to the house, but she said she needed to meet her
friend, Angela. It didn’t seem possible that we had spent hours together. I didn’t want
her to go. Worse, I didn’t know when I would see her again; she tried to comfort me by
saying she would come back “next time [he was] away.” When I called him a “parasite,”
she threatened to not “come back at all,” and she tried to pull her hand away from mine,
but I wouldn’t let her. Then she told me she was done with all the labeling: human,
vampire, werewolf. She insisted that she was a neutral country, and there was only Bella,
Edward, and Jacob. I thought she was asking the impossible, but I consented to try. We
had missed each other, and it was good to know that she had missed me, but I missed her
in ways she couldn’t imagine and didn’t want to imagine. My miracle had happened
before: Edward had left Bella and I had found the opportunity to spend time together
with her and we had grown close. Could I be lucky enough for a second miracle? I
desperately hoped so. I walked her to the truck and watched her leave with feelings of
longing and bitterness nagging at my insides.

       Bella called me to tell me that Edward was going “away” with some of his family
for a long weekend and suggested that we could hang out on Saturday. I was ecstatic. It
would be great to spend a whole day with Bella again. Then she called me again on
Thursday night to cancel. I felt crushing disappointment; I had been looking forward to
my day with her too much. I asked if “he lock[ed] her in a coffin” when he was away.
He was such a control freak that he wouldn’t let her make her own choices. I hated him
for depriving me of her. When I asked why she was canceling, she said that Edward

would be back by then; he had gone away early. When I realized he was already gone, I
asked her to come over then. She told me she was “being held prisoner,” and I felt my
blood boil and the quivering begin in my body. I wanted to rip his throat out. Filthy
“bloodsucker!” I suggested that the pack could come and free her. She blew off the offer
and tried to explain that they were only trying to keep her safe. Then she said goodnight.

        I was so angry and disappointed that I went into the forest to run and distract
myself. As I ran, I tried to think of someway to get Bella away from them that wouldn’t
violate the treaty. How had Bella gotten away before? She told me that she had made “a
snap decision” and moved quickly to get to the other side of the border. Alice couldn’t
see Bella’s decision to see me until she made it. Alice couldn’t see me at all, and Alice
couldn’t see Bella when Bella was with me. As I thought about these different facts, it
occurred to me that I could spring Bella from school. Alice wouldn’t see me or my
decisions. If I showed up between their classes and if Bella saw me, she could make “a
snap decision” to leave with me, and Alice couldn’t react in time to stop it. I could have
my day with Bella after all. I went to bed that night cautiously optimistic.

        I was filled with excitement the next morning. Time seemed to drag on forever,
but finally it was time. I waited until it was the right time, just as first period was letting
out. I saw Bella and Mike Newton walking from one set of buildings to another. I
kicked the bike to life and headed toward them. Shock crossed Bella’s face as she
recognized the bike and me. I brought the bike to a noisy stop in front of her and yelled
for Bella to hurry. She understood and said something quickly to Mike and leaned over
to kiss him on the cheek. God, I hated that kid! I felt Bella winding her arms around me
with a surge of pleasure, and we were off. When we were safely in La Push, I couldn’t
resist laughing my head off. I congratulated myself on the “prison break.” Bella was
pleased too; she was up for anything.

        We went to the beach and walked. At first we goaded each other—me
mentioning how much more pleased Charlie would be if she picked me. But then she
asked about what was happening with the pack. The big news was that Quil had

imprinted on Claire, one of Emily’s nieces, a child of two years of age. Bella was clearly
repulsed, but I tried to explain that it wasn’t like that. Because Quil didn’t age, like the
rest of us, he could just wait for her to catch up to him—but he would always know she
was the one for him. She asked about Claire’s choice in the relationship, and I tried to
explain that with the devotion that Quil would put in, she would never choose anyone
else. Claire’s lack of agency in this situation seemed to bother her, but she just didn’t
understand. Quil would become everything Claire ever wanted just like I was willing to
become everything that Bella ever wanted.

       She asked me “when” it would happen for me. I told her my hope—that it would
never happen—because I never wanted to be with anyone but her. She suggested I hadn’t
“seen much of the world.” And I told her I didn’t want to see anything else. She looked
away and suggested that she should leave. But I wouldn’t have it. If she had the whole
day off, I would be good and not make her uncomfortable. She protested, but I assured
her that “I [knew] what [I was] doing.” We rode our bikes and ended up in my garage. I
reminded her about Valentine’s Day, and we joked about the “lifetime of servitude” I had
proposed for her. When she talked about it, the sexual images from my dreams flashed
through my mind and were nearly overpowering. I wanted her in all those ways, and it
took every ounce of control I had not to leap on her and have my way with her then and
there on the floor of my garage.

       I refocused on Bella, and I touched her hand. I was so sad that things had
changed in more ways than I could tell her. I tried to apologize about ratting her out
about the bike. She forgave me as I knew she would. She loved me too much to hold
anything against me, especially if I apologized for it later. I hesitated there. There was a
question that I needed to know the answer to, that the pack needed the answer to, that I
was not sure I was strong enough to ask. The words came out stilted and awkward, I
asked her if she really meant what she had said in the forest—that “being bitten” “was
none of my business” – that she was willing to be bitten. She said “yes.” I controlled
most of the convulsions, but I knew that I was visibly shaking.

       What I said next seemed to take her by surprise. I told her that it would violate
the treaty. She suggested that they would leave—as if she thought that would matter.
And I told her it wouldn’t matter, we would come after them; the war would start. She
pleaded with me, but I wouldn’t listen. She suggested that my position meant that this
was the end of our relationship, and I didn’t understand. I told her we had “years,” and
she qualified by saying that we had “weeks.” I couldn’t stop the shaking then. My whole
frame vibrated. I thought I would explode. I was “growling” and nearly thrashing. I
realized that I could kill Bella with the surge of emotions that I felt—if it drove me to
phase next to her. I made myself calm down.

       I was furious. I spat it out, “He’s going to change you into a filthy bloodsucker in
a few weeks!” She flinched away from me but said “yes.” I told her I would rather see
her dead. I sat there stunned as the idea of losing Bella so completely began to register
with me. She was so enraged that she left me there and went home. And I was too bereft
at that moment to apologize or go after her or do anything but wallow in my grief.

       Of course, I realized what an ass I had been right after she left. I called Charlie
and tried to explain that I had said something stupid and that I wanted, I needed, to make
it up to her. She just had to call me back. She was still at her “sleep over,” so I couldn’t
talk to her, but Charlie promised to see what he could do to make sure Bella called me
back, and I knew he meant it.

       She didn’t call the next day, and I suffered from her absence, but she did call the
morning of the following day. I apologized profusely, and she forgave me. I knew she
would; she would forgive me anything, and I wondered how far I was willing to test that.
I asked her to come see me, so I could make up for being stupid. She hesitated.
Something was going on that she wasn’t telling me. Then she surprised the hell out of
me by suggesting that I talk to Edward on the phone. I hesitated. I couldn’t imagine
what the “bloodsucker” would have to say that I would care to hear, but I agreed.

       Just the sound of his voice made my skin prickle and sent the blood coursing
through my veins, but I struggled to pay attention to his words. Edward said that
“someone” had been at Bella’s house, and I knew he meant another vampire and not one
of the Cullens. I was riveted to every word then. He asked if we had picked up anything.
I told him no. He explained that until this threat was taken care of, he would be keeping
Bella close. I understood the need for her protection, but I argued that we could protect
her just as well, and I suggested that perhaps the boundary between our lands could be
adjusted to make protecting Bella easier. I wasn’t sure Sam would agree to that, but I
could ask. I knew he would follow the trail; I wanted to follow it too, so I asked what he
would do with her when he went. He intended on leaving her with his family, but I
suggested that I could watch her while he went, and then I could follow it after he was
done for the pack. He agreed and put Bella back on the phone.

       She asked me what was going on, and I told her we were working on an
agreement, a coordination of sorts, and I told her to persuade him that she was safe at La
Push. I suggested it was a good place for Charlie as well, and she asked me to get Billy
to invite Charlie over; I told her I would. I told her I would be hanging around her place
just in case and would see her soon. She didn’t like the idea of me tracking the rogue
leech, but I laughed at her and hung up. I ran through the forest. It felt weird to be
coordinating with Bella’s vampire. I hated him. Instinctively I was repulsed by every
aspect of their beings from their voices to their scents, but the threat to Bella seemed to
soften that—to make it less relevant than her safety. I would tolerate him for her, to help

       I waited for Edward to leave and then went into see Bella. I was wearing a pair of
shorts because I wasn’t sure if I would need to phase or not and carrying shorts instead of
a full outfit was easier when in wolf form. I watched Bella look me over, with flush of
satisfaction, and then she asked me why I was wearing so little. I explained about the
awkwardness of carrying clothes in wolf form and pointed out the cord on my ankle that I
used to secure my shorts. I couldn’t resist teasing her and asked her if “my being half-
naked bother[ed her].” She turned to her sink full of dishes to hide her blush. I asked

where the scent of her intruder was strongest, and Bella told me her bedroom. I “didn’t
like that.” I went to her room, and the stench was horrid. Edward’s scent was pervasive,
but the intruder’s scent was also interesting. He, male, hadn’t just been in the room; he
had moved around it like he was looking for something. That troubled me, but I wasn’t
sure what to make of it. The important thing was that I had the scent and could give it to
my pack brothers and sister. The pack had expanded from six to ten and now included
Leah and Seth Clearwater as well as Collin and Brady.

       I returned to Bella. She was either absorbed in her own thoughts or didn’t hear
me because I startled her. I offered to help her with the dishes she was washing, so she
gave me a plate to dry. I told her her room stunk; she suggested “air freshener,” and I
laughed. We were quiet for a while, and then my curiosity was too much for me, and I
started asking her some of the questions I longed and yet feared to hear the answers to. I
asked her about having a vampire for a boyfriend. It didn’t seem to bother her; I still
couldn’t get used to that idea of it not seeming strange to her. I asked if they kissed, and
she said “yes.” The idea of Bella being in such close contact with his venomous teeth
made me cringe. I called them fangs, and she hit me. She handed me a knife, and I
started to dry it. Then I asked her when? I couldn’t say it—when he would bite her so
that she would transform into a vampire herself. She knew what I meant and told me,
graduation. That was sooner than I had anticipated, and I clenched my hand down on the
knife, and then dropped when I realized I had cut myself.

       Bella was so upset that I had cut myself and started babbling about taking me to
the emergency room. She gave me the dish towel for my hand. I didn’t need to go, of
course. My wolfy body was already sealing the cut. She knew this was a characteristic
of werewolves; she just hadn’t witnessed it in action. I removed the dish towel from my
hand to show her the cut was healing. She was amazed, and I looked into her beautiful
chocolate brown eyes. I couldn’t imagine them taken away from me forever. I reminded
her that she knew this about werewolf healing, and she said seeing it first hand was
something else entirely. Then she got out bleach and dowsed everything that had touched

blood with it. The bleach seemed over-kill; I didn’t understand. She explained that it
was hard for her vampire to be around the scent of blood.

       I didn’t want to think about him, so I asked her what it was like for her to have a
werewolf best friend. She laughed, but she didn’t seem to find it weird; it was nice she
said, especially when the werewolf was on good behavior. I smiled at her, and then
pulled her into a hug. I would have liked to have held her tightly for much longer than
she would have allowed, but the stench in her hair was revolting; she smelled like him,
and I let her go. I could hear him outside, waiting for me to leave. I told her good-bye,
but before I left, I told her that we were having a bonfire that night and she would be safe
with us there; the whole pack would be there. She hesitated. I threw out terms like
“warden” and “controlling, abusive teenage relationships” and my parting jibe was for
her to “ask permission.” I didn’t think he would let her, but I so wanted her to be there—
to hear the stories and to be with us. I ran through the forest, with half a dozen strange
strands of thought running through my mind about the intruder, about Bella, about
graduation, about the pack, and about the treaty.

       It took me by surprise when Bella called to say she could come. I whooped and
laughed. Edward was insisting on driving her to the border and leaving Bella with a cell
phone, but I could deal with those things; we would meet at six. The rest of the day
seemed to drag by. I couldn’t wait to be with Bella again. Finally, it was time or close
enough, and I drove to the border to wait. I was too impatient to wait in the car, so I
stood leaning against it. Edward stopped on his side of the border, and they both got out
of the car. He went to the trunk of the car and to my surprise pulled out Bella’s bike and
a few other things—one looked like a motorcycle helmet. I watched him, irritated that he
was finding a way to interject himself into an activity that Bella and I did together. A
helmet—what was the other thing—a jacket? Actually, the idea of Bella in a black,
leather, biker jacket was very appealing. Damn him! Bella took the things and waited.
Then Edward wrapped his arms around her and kissed her fiercely. Watching it was
unbearable. I growled softly and clenched and unclenched my fists. The idea of sinking

my werewolf teeth into his neck was so horribly alluring it was hard not to phase on the
spot. He released her and told her good-bye. Ugh! It was a jacket.

       But then Bella was walking her bike toward me. As soon as she crossed the line,
I helped her with the bike and asked her about it. She said it belonged in La Push in my
garage. Edward was watching us, and I couldn’t resist paying him back in kind. He had
taunted me; I would taunt him back, and I pulled Bella into a tight hug and had the
satisfaction of hearing the Volvo accelerate hard. Bella was annoyed. She knew I had
done it on purpose just to annoy him, and she knew Edward was upset. I blew it off. He
had the advantages; I knew that, but I was going to just keep being “annoyingly
persistent” and see where that got me. If there was any way to get Bella, I would try it.

       Bella was nervous. She hadn’t been down to La Push except to see me since the
Cullens returned, but I knew it would be okay. My pack brothers had all seen enough of
my thoughts to know how much Bella was part of my life. Her vampire attachment was
more a curiosity to them. Embry and Paul teased her a little, but that was all. We ate for
a while and talked in small groups. The pack was there and some of the tribal elders.
The stories would come soon. It was interesting to share this with Bella, and I watched
as she took everything in. Bella suggested it was time for her to go, and I told her she
had to hear the stories first. I moved closer to her and put my arm around her and told
her that the elders would tell our legends very soon. Billy began and told the story of the
spirit warriors and how they became “wolves who turned into men.” Old Quil then told
the story of the third wife. Old Quil’s story included the ancient threat but also included
the threats the Cullens brought when they came here both in the past and now and their
impact on the tribe.

       Bella enjoyed the stories, but she was tired by the time everything was over. She
was asleep against her rock by the time I got back from helping pack things away. I
carried her to the car. Then I found her phone and called Edward and then Charlie to
explain we were on the way home. I parked on our side of the border and woke Bella.
She started to panic when she realized that she had fallen asleep, but I explained that I

had taken care of everything for her. I wanted Edward to be okay with this, so that it
might happen again. I gave her back the phone. Before she got out of the car, she told
me she really enjoyed herself, and I knew that she had. I told her I was glad and that it
was “nice” “for me [to have her] there.” Edward was pacing on his side of the border,
and I commented on his lack of patience. I said good-bye and told her to visit again. I
told her to sleep well and that I would be watching her house during the night. I drove
home slowly, thinking about Bella Swan.

       Wednesday afternoon, Bella surprised me by calling. I had been sleeping at the
time, the extra patrols taking their toll on my normal sleeping habits and my mood. She
asked if she could come over after her exams the following day. I was elated. She could
come as soon as she wanted; the reservation school was finished for the summer, so I had
no plans. After the phone call, I was too hyped up to go back to sleep. I wanted Bella. I
loved her, and I wanted some way to make her realize that she loved me too. She could
belong to me. If she chose me, what would he do? I didn’t care, so long as I could have

       That night, in the brief time that I wasn’t running patrols, my dreams about Bella
were conflicted—as much as I wanted Bella to choose me, for it to be her choice to pick
me over Edward, I was willing to force her to be mine. So my dreams flitted between
images of Bella telling Edward she didn’t love him any more and running into my arms,
calling my name, and declaring her love for me to images of me forcing Bella to kiss me,
forcing her to have sex with me. It wasn’t rape in the dreams and she wasn’t my sex
slave either. Though she resisted at first, she realized that she liked it—she kissed me
back and when we were having sex, she suddenly began responding to me, moaning in
my ear and coming with me. I woke up covered in sweat with my dick rock hard and
throbbing. I masturbated and came quickly. I knew what I would do. I would tell her I
loved her and kiss her. We could walk on the beach, and I could try to think of some
achingly romantic way to raise the subject.

       In the morning, I was nearly giddy with excitement and exhaustion. I was sure
Bella would respond to me. She just didn’t understand what she wanted. As I waited for
them at the border, my lack of sleep hit me hard. Bella got in my car. She eyed me
suspiciously, and I told her I was just tired and explained about Sam and the extra patrols.
Billy was at the Clearwater’s helping Sue, and when Bella asked about him, I explained.
We sat on the couch, and I turned on the TV to something mindless. She tried to tell me
to stop doing extra runs around her place and get more sleep. I declined—reminding her
we had swapped “eternal servitude” and I was her “slave for live.” My dreams flashed
before me. She got angry and said she didn’t want a “slave for life,” she wanted her
“friend.” I brought up her upcoming graduation and then wished I hadn’t. “No special
plans,” she answered, and then she amended that. She said that they, Alice, Edward, and
she, were having a graduation party at the Cullens. I joked that I hadn’t been invited and
that I has “hurt” by the oversight. She invited me and seemed to honestly want me to
come. I couldn’t imagine actually going—the stench alone seemed impossible in a house
of seven vampires—but the proximity to them was harder to imagine. I couldn’t imagine
remaining in enough control to last a minute.

       I let my eyes close for a minute. I was so tired they felt sore, irritated. I was so
exhausted that I was asleep before I realized it. Then, in what felt like a moment later, I
felt my arm being moved, and I jerked myself up. I didn’t realize what was going on at
first. Bella was there apologizing for waking me. I was asleep! Crap! All my planning.
I was going to have to improvise. I asked her how long I had been asleep. She was
keeping track of time in cooking shows—so she thought a few of those—three to four?
Several hours. I was “an idiot.” She talked about leaving, and I grew frantic. I had to
tell her. I grabbed her hand and pulled her up and out of the house into the cooler air.

       I was nervous. This wasn’t how I wanted to lead up to this. I blushed and tried to
collect my thoughts. I gave my pre-amble, and she looked uncomfortable. She pulled
her hand away from mine. I looked into her beautiful eyes and said my peace as clearly
and carefully as I could: “I’m in love with you, Bella…. Bella, I love you. And I want
you to pick me instead of him. I know you don’t feel that way, but I need the truth out

there so that you know your options. I wouldn’t want a miscommunication to stand in
our way.” She couldn’t say anything at first, and then she blurted out her rejection and
turned to leave. I grabbed her and turned her around. I made her face me. I asked her if
she wanted me out of her life. She didn’t want that. I told her I would “stick around”
because she wanted me in her life. I slid my fingers along her face, and she batted them
away. I knew I was making her uncomfortable. I told her I wouldn’t be good—I would
always push for what I wanted. She found that “mean,” but I called her on it—her being
mean for keeping me in her life. She spiraled into guilt.

       She was so vulnerable and easy to manipulate. I told her I wouldn’t give up—I
told her there was “something irresistible about a lost cause.” And really what were my
chances against Edward? Slim, at best. But the thoughts, of how much the competition
would irritate him and would make him wonder what was best for her, were too good to
pass up. She tried to tell me that she loved him—but I told her that she loved me too.
“[He wasn’t her whole life—not after he left—and he had to deal with me].” I put my
hand to her face and forced her to look at me. She tried to pull away, but I wouldn’t let
her. I tightened my hold on her face, and I bent down to kiss her. She protested, but I
ignored her.

       I “crushed” my lips to hers. I was desperate for her to see that she enjoyed kissing
me more than kissing him. My attack verged on violence. I wouldn’t let her protest or
pull away or stop me. In my mind, I imaged how much more I wanted to be doing. The
idea of ripping her clothes off to get to her naked body had almost irresistible appeal.
Bella’s hands touched my face, and I forced her lips apart. She suddenly became passive
in my arms, and I was disappointed. I “pulled back” and kissed her gently on the lips
several times. Then I let go of her. I didn’t know how to read her reaction. I was
pleased. It wasn’t as good as I imagined it, but it was pretty good. I closed my eyes to
savor the memory. And then she patted my mouth and started jumping up and down.

       I realized with intense amusement that she had punched me in the face and had
hurt her hand as a result. She was furious. I told her I would take her home, and I tried

to put my arm around her, but she wouldn’t stand for that after the kiss. She shouted
angrily at me. She hoped that Edward would fight me, and she called me a “dog.” I
helped her into the car. We bickered all the way to her house. I told her she would think
about our kiss that night. She told me if she thought of me she would be having a
“nightmare.” I begged her to think about her life with me, instead of him. She “wouldn’t
have to change,” and we could be happy, and I promised not to hurt her. I brought up
Edward leaving her, and she shot back that I had stopped seeing her too. I tried to
protest—that was for her protection. I told her that she had “kissed me back,” and she
insisted that I had misread her actions—that she was trying to fight me off, but I knew I
was right. She was the deluded one.

       I told her I was sorry that she had hurt her hand. As we pulled up to her house,
she asked why I was taking her there, and I realized that she considered the Cullens’ as
her home as much if not more than she did her own home—that realization caused me
considerable agony. I offered to take her to the hospital, but she wanted to go inside and
call Edward. She told me to “go home,” but I followed her inside the house. The
confrontation with Edward was something I was looking forward to. How would he
handle me kissing her? I ached for it to turn into a fight.

       Charlie greeted us as we walked into the house. He made a particular point of
telling me he was glad to see me in their house. Charlie seemed to notice that Bella was
in a bad mood; he asked me what was up with Bella. I told him she thought she had
“broken her hand.” He asked how she had done such a thing, and I laughed and told him
“she hit me.” He laughed at that too and then asked why she hit me, and I told him
“because I kissed her.” He congratulated me. All this only seemed to irritate Bella more.
She put ice on her hand and called Edward. She asked him to pick her up and take her to
Carlisle. He wanted to know why, and she explained that she hit me. She told him that
she “[wished she had hurt me].” He must have offered to oblige because she agreed
eagerly. Then he seemed to ask what had brought on the punch in the first place because
she answered, “He kissed me.”

       At that point, Charlie suggested I leave, but I was too curious to leave. We all
heard his car noisily coming to a stop outside. Bella crossed the room to get the door.
Charlie seemed to feel that he wasn’t being the responsible parent and suddenly asked
about her hand. She answered that her hand was swelling. Edward was controlled and
gentle with her as he examined her hand. He agreed that it might be broken and praised
her for the strength of her punch. He kissed her hand and promised to “take care of it,”
and I knew he meant both me and her hand. He called my name, and Charlie got
uncomfortable, saying he didn’t want any trouble. Bella insisted that she was the only
one causing trouble, and Edward moved her toward the door, ready to take her to his
father, the doctor. He put his arm around her, and I watched with longing the way she
leaned into him and how the contact made her pinched shoulders relax. She was so
comfortable in his arms, the arms of a vampire. It made no sense, and my jealousy flared
so that I could almost taste it in my mouth, bitter and unpleasant.

       I watched him help her to the car and then I followed. Charlie thought I was
insane, but I wasn’t done toying with Edward yet. He only turned to face me when he
had her safely in his car. Then he threatened me. The crux of it was that I had to return
Bella to him in the “condition” in which he had left her with me—damage of any kind
would not be tolerated. If I kissed her again, he would do better than punch me; he
promised to “break [my] jaw for her.” I asked him what he would do if she wanted me to
kiss her. He claimed that he would tolerate that but encouraged me to get verbal consent
first. The whole time Bella protested that she wouldn’t be seeing me again.

       Then he got serious. He told me that he would “be fighting for her, too” and that
he wouldn’t be “taking anything for granted,” and that he would be “fighting twice as
hard as [I would be].” These were the terms. This was what I was waiting for. I
answered his challenge. I told him, “Good … it’s no fun beating someone who forfeits.”
He came back at me, declaring Bella “[was] his” and that he wouldn’t “fight fair.”
Neither would I. I hadn’t been fighting fair already, and I was more desperate than he
was. I tried to goad him by suggesting the “best man” win, but he countered by calling

me a “pup.” Then we were done. I tried to apologize to Bella for her hand, but she
looked away from me and didn’t look at me as they drove away.

        It had been thrilling to enrage and engage Edward in those few minutes. The
civilities were still there, but each of us was promising the other that in the battle between
us, those civilities would disappear—each completely focused on the object of our
contest, Bella, and our desire to either outdo or destroy the other. He thought I was
inexperienced and naïve, and I was in some ways. But he was too confident and
underestimated how much Bella cared about my happiness. I was sure he was not
prepared to be as desperate as I was to win her. But there were also uncertainty and pain
for me. Bella had refused to look at me before she left. I didn’t know what to do with

        She didn’t call, but when I dreamed, I dreamed of our kiss and of the images I had
as we kissed, of my ripping her clothes off to expose her naked body and what happened
after that. The next day, Charlie called to invite Billy and me to Bella’s graduation
ceremony. We cheered encouragement as Bella crossed the stage and received her
diploma. We knew that Charlie wanted to take Bella out for dinner, so we made our
excuses and left after the ceremony. Once at home, I got myself ready for the party and
called Quil and Embry to make sure they were still up for this. They absolutely loathed
the idea of being at the Cullens’, but they were willing to do it for me. I took out Bella’s
gift—the silver linked bracelet with the wooden wolf charm. Billy had showed me how
to do it, and I had spent weeks making the tiny, wooden wolf for her. I placed the charm
bracelet in a small drawstring bag.

        At first, I hadn’t considered actually going to Bella’s graduation party, but I
couldn’t let things lie as they were. Kissing Bella, her hurting her hand, and her not even
looking at me afterward. I had to make sure she forgave me, and I had her gift as my
excuse. At the party, she couldn’t cause a scene and neither could he—plenty of witness
to protect me, us—that’s part of how I convinced Quil and Embry. We ran through the
forest to get there. The smell was just as bad as I imagined it would be, concentrated by

seven, but the presence of so many regular humans made it a little less repulsive—diluted
in some way. We could hear the loud music from outside the door. I rang the bell twice,
and when no one answered, I let us in. I saw Bella heading for the stairs and called her
name. She didn’t look happy to see me.

          When she turned away from us, I moved toward her in haste. I grabbed her and
wouldn’t let her leave me, isolating her from the main action of the party. We argued,
and I countered that I had a graduation present for her. She told me to “take it back,” and
I told her that I couldn’t; it was something I had made just for her. She was distracted
while we talked; her eyes constantly glancing away from me searching for someone or
something. This irritated me, and I cupped her face in my hand and forced her to look at
me. She yanked away from my touch, and I apologized for kissing her. I said that it was
“wrong” that I had “deluded” myself. She accepted my apology with my promptings.

          She was still distracted, so I pouted and suggested that I understood if she wanted
to be “with [her] real friends.” It worked; my pain cut through her annoyance at me. She
focused on me and demanded to see my present. At first, she thought the bag was the
present, but I explained the present was inside the bag. I helped her open it. She said the
charm was “beautiful” and seemed to mean it. I explained that Billy had taught me. I
helped her put it on, and I asked if she would wear it. She said she would. I smiled; I
knew that it would irritate the “bloodsucker.” All of a sudden it occurred to me that her
distraction could mean that something was going on—that she knew something that we

          I demanded to know what Bella knew. She hesitated. She didn’t know exactly. I
realized that Alice must have seen something—that was who she was looking for. I
demanded that she tell me what she did know. I looked at Quil and Embry by the door,
and they understood immediately that something was going on. They shouldered their
discomfort and made their ways to me swiftly. We waited on Bella’s explanation. But
then Bella saw Alice and said her name, and the little Cullen moved deftly to Bella’s side.

She said she needed to talk to Bella, and as Bella tried to walk away from me, I blocked
both of their paths and told them we wanted to know what was going on.

          Suddenly, the one who could calm emotions, the young blond male, Jasper, was
there; his expression was threatening. I pulled my arm back but defended our right to
know. It got tense for a few moments, and then Alice agreed that we had a right to know.
She began to explain. The decision had been made. “They” were coming to Forks. This
didn’t make sense to us, but we read the distress that the words triggered. Jasper said that
there weren’t enough of them to protect Forks. Alice reiterated that there weren’t enough
of them. Bella seemed to suggest that she meet them, sacrifice herself to stop them. I
demanded to know “what [was] coming.”

          Alice answered that vampires were coming, a lot of them, and they were coming
for Bella. I tried to confirm what I understood. There were too many for the seven
Cullens? Jasper suggested that it would be “an even fight.” They needed help! A fight
that involved killing a bunch of vampires all set on hurting Bella—it was tantalizing. I
knew Sam would agree. He wouldn’t like working with the Cullens, but he would be
more alarmed by a massive vampire attack on our turf. I smiled and said, “It won’t be
even.” Alice was elated. She said that her vision had suddenly disappeared—now that
we were involved, but she would take that over whatever horrific vision she had seen

          We started talking about coordination. Bella seemed to suddenly grasp that the
Cullens and the pack would be fighting to protect her and didn’t want to put any of us in
danger. Classic. Quil, Embry, and I laughed at her. We were all confident. We started
to talk strategy, the three of us and the vampires, but the party wasn’t really the best
setting. We agreed to meet at three in the morning in a clearing for coordination efforts
and some “instruction.” Jasper and I mused over the uniqueness of working together on
this, and we went to leave, so we could fill Sam in. Bella begged me not volunteer for
this, and I laughed her concern off.

       Sam was appalled at both the ideas of a hoard of vampires descending on Forks to
kill Bella and whoever else got in the way and of working with the Cullens, but he was
practical too. There wasn’t much of an alternative, neither the Cullens nor our pack of
ten could take out twenty-one vampires and not be decimated in the attempt. These
attacking vampires only expected to fight the Cullens; we would give our side the
element of surprise and ten more fighters. The Cullens didn’t exactly know the pack
stood at ten; I had been careful with my thoughts around Edward, but they would know
now. We were all curious about “the instruction” they intended to give us. The elders
had passed down all their knowledge; we didn’t expect to learn much new. Our biggest
concern was how hard it would be to retain control as werewolves near the Cullens. Our
instincts would encourage us to attack them, and we needed to suppress those. Sam had
worried about how we would communicate with the Cullens when we were wolves, but I
reminded him that Edward could read minds and could probably act as translator for us. It
would be an interesting meeting.

       The time came, and Sam led us through the forest. The Cullens were there in the
clearing waiting for us. Bella had come and was standing with Edward, holding his hand.
The leader moved toward us and greeted us. As I expected, Edward translated Sam’s
thoughts to the rest of his family and Bella. The leader, then, explained that the young
blond male, Jasper, would demonstrate how the newborns fought and how it was best to
fight them. We were surprised to think of these newborn vampires as different from the
Cullens, and Sam asked for that to be explained. The leader explained that the newborns
had more strength than older vampires but that their attack methods would be simplistic
and direct.

       The count stood at twenty newborns, and the leader suggested splitting the
number between us, the wolves and the Cullens. There were growls of enthusiasm from
almost all of us; we were willing to take more than ten, and Sam said so. Sam asked how
we would prepare for their arrival, and the leader said that Alice was watching for them
and would tell us in advance. We had the logistical information that we needed; it was

time for this so called “instruction,” so Sam thanked the leader and told him we would

         Jasper faced the Cullens and began. Because the newborns were stronger, you
should avoid letting a newborn get his or her arms around you, and because they lacked
sophistication in their fighting techniques, you should avoid a direct attack. Doing the
unexpected in your attack was the best strategy. Jasper had the big, dark haired male
attack him to demonstrate a newborn attack. It was fascinating. Jasper evaded the big
one easily and his sidelong attack was unusual but just as effective as he had predicted. It
was more informative than we had anticipated, and all of us acknowledged that in low
growls. Edward wanted to go next, but Jasper called Alice forward. She looked so little
compared to the big one that I thought it would be a snap for Jasper. I wasn’t the only
one who thought so. Jared bet Embry ten bucks that Jasper would win. I knew she
would be able to predict what he would do, but I didn’t think it would be enough for her
to beat him.

         Their fight was even more fascinating than the one between Jasper and the big
one. She moved so fast and always just before it looked like he would seize her. She
was playing with him, I realized with a shock. She could have had him much earlier, but
she wanted to make him feel like it was a challenge, and then she had him, her lips at his
throat. It was impressive, really impressive. Jasper called her a “frightening little
monster,” and that she was. We all acknowledged that. It was a good thing that she
couldn’t see us. None of us wanted a Cullen to have the kind of advantage in fighting
one of us that Alice clearly had over her mate.

         Edward was next. His mind reading would give him an advantage, but I didn’t
know how much. Jasper and Edward went at each other again and again. This was the
most instructive fight yet. Jasper used every unconventional move he could think of to
turn the contest in his favor, but Edward always knew just enough to get away and yet he
couldn’t gain the advantage either. Jasper’s repertoire of unconventional moves was
impressive, and we all thought of ways of adapting them. The leader stopped them after

a while when it became clear that they could keep at it for a lot longer with neither
gaining a decisive edge. Then Jasper worked with each of them in turn. The other fights
were interesting, but we had learned the most from Alice’s and Edward’s, and we had
learned—much more than we thought we would. We also realized that the Cullens had
made themselves vulnerable to us by allowing us to watch and analyze their fighting
techniques so intimately. Sam wasn’t sure how he wanted to deal with that knowledge
and neither did the rest of us. It made us closer allied than we wanted to think about.

       Sam requested that each of us be able to smell each of the Cullens. Knowing their
individual scents would make us better able to avoid a mistake during the fight if our
fighting the newborns happened to bring us in close proximity to the Cullen fight. They
agreed and held still for us. As we made our way past the Cullens, I felt Bella’s gaze on
me. She had seen me as a wolf before, but only briefly and in times of danger. I
wondered what would happen here, and I couldn’t resist going over to explore that
possibility. She could be repulsed, of course, but Bella was so good with weird. I
thought I would take my chances. Plus, if her response was positive, I would get to
annoy the hell out of Edward. It was too tempting.

       I padded over to her. I could feel Edward’s eyes riveted to Bella’s face to watch
her reaction. I brought my face down so it was even with hers and looked into her eyes.
She whispered my name, and I made a low noise in my throat. She lifted her hand and
stroked the fur on my face, taking in the texture. It felt great. I closed my eyes and
pushed my head against her hand, the low noise in my throat getting louder. She stroked
the fur on my neck as well and moved closer to me. I realized that she was close enough
that I could lick her face. Dogs did that—could I get away with it? Edward would
definitely see it as a kiss, but Bella might just see it as what a dog might do to its owner,
and she did own me, I belonged to her. If only I could get her to belong to me. I turned
my face toward her and licked her face. She jumped away, batting at me and saying
“gross,” but when I laughed in response even though as a wolf, she laughed with me. I
was forgiven my trespass by Bella at least.

       They were all disgusted. I could hear the annoyance of the pack behind me, and
the accusations that I was provoking Edward unfairly. I could also see the tension and
bewilderment on every Cullen’s face, Edward’s betrayed some stronger emotions which
he struggled to master. It made me laugh harder. Since I didn’t seem to be leaving
Bella’s side, Edward walked toward us and took Bella’s hand. He tried to shepherd her
away from me, but I had questions I wanted answered. What was he going to do with
Bella during the fight? He wasn’t sure yet. That wasn’t good enough. I wanted to know
the specifics. I wanted to know she was safe. Of course, half of this conversation was in
Edward’s head. Bella wanted to know what we were talking about, and I wanted to speak
directly in front of them, so I ran toward the forest to phase and change. Most of the pack
was leaving with Sam, but Quil and Embry waited for me in the forest.

       When I returned in human form, Edward and I continued to argue about what to
do with Bella during the fight. She didn’t like that. She didn’t like the idea of being left
behind somewhere. Too bad, I thought; she needed to be safe. I thought Bella should
stay at La Push with the younger werewolves (Collin and Brady). Edward disagreed. He
said it had to be somewhere “hard to find.” I suggested further up in the mountains. He
said that his taking her there would risk a very distinct trail—too easy to follow. Then it
occurred to me that although Bella and Edward’s scent together would be very distinct to
a hunting vampire, Bella’s scent might not be distinct if it was combined with a
werewolf’s scent. What if I took Bella up to the mountains? What would the
combination of my scent and Bella’s scent be like to a vampire? Edward conceded that it
was an interesting idea even before I got the words out.

       He called Jasper over, who was accompanied by Alice. I tried to explain to Bella.
Edward didn’t like the idea of me carrying her, but he was willing to try this. He
encouraged her to let me carry her. I caught her up in my arms and made a loop through
the forest. She was clearly uncomfortable, but I didn’t care. I ran, and I could hear them
behind me. I brought her back to the clearing and resisted putting her down until we
were closer to Edward despite her protest. She called me “annoying,” but I was having
fun. Once she was on her feet, she crossed to Edward and took his hand. It was a

“success”; my scent “masked” Bella’s. Jasper said he had “an idea,” and Alice saw that it
would “work,” and Edward commented on the cleverness of the idea. I couldn’t imagine
living like that all the time. It was bad enough for us to be in each other’s heads when we
were wolves, but they had hardly said anything, and they had a whole confident plan
worked out. I asked Bella how she could tolerate it.

       Edward now explained. Bella would “leave a false trail to the clearing” that the
newborns would follow to be sucked into our traps; half going to fight the Cullens and
half walking into a fight with us, the pack, that they would be completely unprepared for.
Jasper had another thought that Edward rejected instantly. Alice seemed to be more
annoyed than I was, because she stepped on Jasper’s foot to get him to explain. His idea
was to have Bella in the clearing during the fight. He said that her presence would drive
them wild and make it easier to kill them. I agreed with Edward. It was too dangerous
for Bella. I didn’t understand how he could even suggest it. Edward could hear my
thoughts and he attempted to defend his brother. We refocused on the plan. Friday
afternoon, Edward and Bella would “lay the false trail,” and then I could take her to the
hiding spot.

       Something was missing. I didn’t like the idea of Bella being left alone. What if
something happened? What if there was something that we hadn’t taken into
consideration? What if Seth was ordered to stay with Bella? He could tell us, the pack, if
there was any trouble instantly in his wolf form. Again, I didn’t have to speak my
thoughts for Edward to understand. Again, he conceded that it was a good idea. I
explained to Bella, but she was beyond coherency at this point, too tired to focus on
much. Edward seemed genuinely relieved at the idea of Seth there with Bella. In that
moment, all we both cared about was Bella’s safety, and we were actually able to joke
about working together before he took her home.

       I left with Quil and Embry to find Sam and tell him about the false trail plan and
to see if he agreed with me about the Seth assignment. We also discussed the next
training session. Technically only one of us needed to see these demonstrations because

that one could share his or her memories with the whole pack in painfully crisp clarity as
we all knew. Last night, we had all gone for a range of reasons: as a test to see if we
could stand it, as a test to see if they could be trusted, and to get their individual scents.
Tonight, I would go, and Sam had me bring Quil and Embry as back-up.

        When the time came, we entered the clearing and took positions to watch. Most
of the Cullens were already there. Edward and Bella arrived and stood off to the side.
Once they were all there, Jasper started with the big one again, and again Jasper took
turns with each of them. What confused me was that Edward was not taking his turn. He
remained at Bella’s side, but his eyes were intent on each fight. Bella looked worried;
she worried about the wrong things. I got up and padded over to her. Edward greeted
me, but I was only interested in Bella. I whined, and she explained she was worried. I
thought “that’s really stupid,” why? But he edited my words. I objected, and Edward
repeated my exact words commenting on them being “rude.” Edward said that Jasper
wanted help and excused himself. Bella sat on the ground, and I lay down next to her in
such a way that I could still watch the fights. I realized she was cold, and I pressed
against her so the heat of my body would warm her. She leaned into me, and we sat like
that pressed against each other, both utterly content but for completely different reasons.

        She started stroking my fur, and I thrummed my contentment at her touch and her
closeness. She told me she had never had a dog, and I laughed. She was still worried,
and then she shifted the conversation to our hike and worried that it would be tiring for
me. I laughed again. I was sure I could keep up with her vampire. She nestled into me
some more, to keep warm, I knew, but I couldn’t help thinking of other reasons for her
wanting to nestle into me and I fantasized about those as we lay there and the others
practiced. When it was over, he took her home, and Quil, Embry, and I headed home to
recount what we had seen to Sam and others and get some sleep.

        The next day when Bella called, I was out. We were all at Sam and Emily’s
eating and talking strategy. Billy called and told me that Bella had said to meet them in
about an hour. I finished eating and ran to the clearing. I waited behind the screen of the

trees watching them, Edward and Bella. He helped her into a thick winter jacket and took
her hand. It annoyed me that he was so prepared. I clutched at the extra jacket I had
brought for her angrily. She laughed at his joke and asked where they would meet me,
and I walked through the trees, my face tight and my expression controlled. Neither one
of them seemed thrilled with the idea of me carrying Bella for the nine mile hike, but I
would take what I could get. I was looking forward to it. I had things I wanted to talk to
her about, but I was careful to think about the pack, so I wouldn’t tip the mind reader off.
Edward showed me the place on a map where he wanted me to take her. He explained
that he would go a different way and meet us there. Then he left us.

       I was instantly happier once he was out of sight and I was alone with Bella. It
was easier too when I didn’t have to hide my thoughts. I ticked her off right away when I
caught up her legs first causing her to fall backwards while I caught the rest of her before
she hit the ground. With her securely in my arms, I started running. She thought I would
get tired, and I explained that I wouldn’t. We talked back and forth. I realized that there
was a new charm on her bracelet: a heart shaped crystal. I sneered at the idea of the
stone “bloodsucker” giving her a rock. And I was annoyed that the “bloodsucker” had
wormed his way into something else that was between Bella and me.

       I changed the subject. I wanted her to consider her options. I asked her about
coming to see me. She was evasive. I asked her if she had considered my offer from the
last time she was at La Push—that she choose me. She said “no.” I didn’t believe it. I
refused to believe her; she had to have been thinking about me. We bickered back and
forth. I told her she needed to have more experience than just Edward. I asked her if he
was “a better kisser than I [was]”? She answered that she had only kissed Edward. I
countered that, and she told me that she didn’t count our kiss as a kiss; she considered it
“an assault.” That stung. She was right, of course. I hadn’t asked her, she had protested,
and I had ignored her protest. But it was for her own good. I took a new tact. I
suggested that she kiss someone else then—so she would be able to compare kissing
Edward to that someone. I volunteered myself, and I hugged her closer to my chest. She

told me to behave, but I wouldn’t. I suggested that she could ask me; we were allowed to
kiss if she asked me, but that only made her angry with me.

       I changed topics again. I told her I thought she liked me better as a wolf. She
suggested that was because I couldn’t speak as a wolf, but I suggested that “physically” I
made her nervous as a human because she was fighting her attraction to me. She assured
me that that was not the case and called me “an enormous monster who refuse[d] to
respect anyone else’s personal space.” I leaned my face toward hers, considering
whether I would kiss her and risk a fight with Edward when we had so much to deal with
already. Though it was tempting, I knew Sam would kill me if I did that. So I laughed
and admitted that I didn’t want a fight with Edward, not right then. The Cullens needed
all their players for the next day. Suddenly, Bella was upset and on the verge of tears. I
begged her to tell me what was wrong.

       She told me that Edward wasn’t fighting the next day; he was staying with Bella;
she couldn’t be without him. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that he would give
up the opportunity for this fight for her. Would she find that noble? Would she think he
was making more of a sacrifice for her than I would be willing to make? I told her that it
didn’t “mean anything”—that I wouldn’t miss the fight for her and he would. I insisted
that “I [knew her] better.” Then she started worrying about me during the fight, and
suddenly I had to know why—why did I matter so much to her? I wanted a different
answer, but she said that I was her “best friend.” I confirmed that I was, “bad behavior
and all,” but I wanted her to realize that she loved me. I told her she could love both of
us, and in her anger she shot back that she wasn’t a “freaky werewolf” (referencing the
Leah/Emily love disaster Sam and the rest of us had to endure). That hurt too.

       We were close to the campsite. I could smell him. The weather was turning, and
I encouraged her to get into the tent before it hit. She was surprised to realize I was going
to wait out the night with them—not in the tent but as a wolf in the shelter of the trees. It
occurred to her that I could stay with them during the battle, and she attempted to
convince me, but there was no way I was going to miss the fight, even if Bella begged.

She asked me if I was second in command of the pack and why I hadn’t told her that
before. I couldn’t tell her. I had accepted being Sam’s second because I wouldn’t accept
being the Alpha. I wanted to be able to stop being a werewolf as soon as I could for her,
to be with Bella as a regular human. I tried to evade her questions, but she was
determinedly persistent. I could feel my cheeks burning at times as I hid my motivations
from her. Finally, I admitted that I was supposed to be the Alpha because of my ancestry,
and I explained that “I didn’t want to step up.” But I wouldn’t say any more than that. I
tried to express the conflict I felt at being a werewolf, and she called me “Chief Jacob.” I
blew it off, but listening to her speak the words, address me by a title, had a strangely
seductive appeal. A chief had power over his tribe, and I wanted power, but not over a
tribe. I wanted power over Bella. I wanted her to be mine, and mine alone.

       I got her to the campsite. Edward flew to us and pulled Bella into an embrace. I
tried to control myself, but I recoiled from him. Edward thanked me. He was so
obviously relieved to be with her again. I left them to change. I was warm enough curled
into a ball in the undergrowth with my super accelerated body temperature, but I was
surprised by how drastically the temperature dropped. In the tent above me, Bella was
freezing. The winter jacket and the sleeping bag weren’t enough. I whined. Edward and
I bickered over what to do about the situation. It was bad enough in the shelter of the
tent, but the storm outside was worse. If we broke camp to try and get Bella somewhere
warm, we would also have the problem of having to hide her again the next day and the
problem of leaving extra trails.

       When Edward suggested I “fetch a space heater,” it occurred to me that I had
warmed her body the previous night. He would absolutely hate the idea, and that made it
all the more appealing to me. What choices did we have? She couldn’t make it through
the night like this. If I was going to do this, I wasn’t going to make it easy for either of
them. I would warm her against my human form. I phased grabbed the extra jacket as
my excuse and carefully climbed into the tent. I concentrated on the extra coat plan, and
Edward told me to “give [it to] her and get out.” My real plan came to the forefront of
my mind. Edward “snarled.” He actually put his hand on me, and I told him to “get off.”

Edward was livid. I couldn’t blame him, but when I suggested frost-bite, he relented, and
I got into the sleeping bag with Bella. She protested at first, but she was too cold. She
pressed herself against my warm body, and I flinched as she pressed her frozen fingers to
me, and her lips, and her toes.

        I soothed her by telling her that Edward was just jealous—and I could only
imagine how much. I knew he would have given anything to be warming her himself. It
was sort of fun baiting him with snide comments. Bella asked me to behave. I was sure I
couldn’t. Then Bella asked me why my fur was longer than the others. I explained that
that was because the hair on my head was longer. She was still curious and asked why I
had my hair longer than my brothers’ and Leah’s. I didn’t want to answer. Edward
chuckled. I would rather tell her than have him explain my thoughts, so I blurted out that
she liked my hair longer, so I was growing it out for her. She was embarrassed for a
moment, but she was also getting truly warm, and because it was so late, she began
drifting off to sleep.

        Seth arrived outside as a wolf and settled himself in the undergrowth like I had
done earlier. I was very comfortable and beginning to get a little sleepy myself. My
mind drifted until Edward was hissing at me. I realized that I had been thinking about
Bella and me and that Edward was upset by the images in my head. He demanded that I
control my thoughts. I told him to “get out of my head.” We bickered. He admitted that
he was jealous. We continued to annoy each other, and then I wondered if he would
answer some of my questions—if he would let me into his mind, this one night. He said
he would try. He said all he could hear were questions, what did I want answered first?

        I wanted to know how bad his jealousy was and how badly it distracted him. He
admitted to the jealousy being bad, but he said that his mind was different than mine and
he could think of other things even when he was jealous. I asked about how often Bella
thought of me, and he told me he knew I used my happiness to manipulate her. I told him
that Bella loved me. We created an odd accord of sorts. He hated that I was warming
Bella, but he hated the idea of her freezing more. I conceded that he had more patience

that I did. He said that he had gained it waiting “a hundred years” for Bella. I wanted to
know why he had stopped preventing her from seeing me, and he told me that mostly he
was afraid she would get hurt trying to see me if he kept trying to prevent it. I asked
what he would do if Bella picked me; he said he wasn’t sure. I wanted to know if he
would try to kill me then, but he said he wouldn’t; Bella’s happiness would be more
important than his own pain. We admitted it would be fun to see who won a fight
between the two of us. Then I asked him about losing her because I was facing that
prospect soon myself. He talked about when they had all left, but he wasn’t able to
describe how he felt when he thought she had died.

       I focused on his desire for her to stay human, and he explained the four options
that she saw for them. The first was for Bella to not care for him and continue with her
life though he loved her desperately. The second was for him to stay with Bella for her
human life and die after she did. The third was what he had tried in September, to leave
in an attempt to force her back to the first option. The fourth was to agree to let Bella
become a vampire. I conceded that he did love her, but I begged Edward to try option
one again. I told him I had a plan—and I knew he would see flashes of my plan (the slow
and persistent gains, the use of alcohol to break her into the idea of an escalating sexual
relationship with me)—and though I was worried that the manipulation and deception
involved in the success of my plan would offend him—he only laughed and conceded
that it was a “well thought-out plan.” His reaction made me wonder about what devious
lengths he had gone to win her. But he wouldn’t leave her again unless she wanted him
to. It would be up to Bella, he said. I didn’t believe he really meant that. I knew I
wouldn’t leave it up to Bella. I wasn’t now. I was still fighting; I would always fight.
And so would he.

       I asked him if he had considered whether I was better for her than he was. He
said that he had; he had even asked Alice about it, but Alice couldn’t see me, so she
couldn’t see a future with Bella and me together, and she did see Edward and Bella
together. Then he asked me to think of the third wife’s story. I didn’t see why, but I let
the story fill my mind, and he groaned. He explained that what concerned him about the

story were the models the third wife and her sacrifice presented to Bella. I saw his point.
We agreed to end our civilities in the morning, and we bickered a little bit before I drifted
off to sleep with Bella in my arms, and though I made some effort to control my thoughts
because I didn’t want him to see them, my dreams drifted to Bella and me sleeping
together in the sleeping bag, of us alone together, exploring each other through touches
and kisses, our bodies pressed together, skin on skin, no inhibitions, no resistance.

       Bella murmured in her sleep. She whispered his name off and on in her sleep.
Each time it seemed like agony. Even in my arms, he pervaded her thoughts and
unconscious desires. My cause was hopeless. And then she said, “Jacob, my Jacob.” I
was elated. She loved him, but she loved me too. How could I force her to acknowledge
her love for me?

       I was very warm and comfortable, when suddenly I was rolled onto the freezing
tent floor. I jumped away from it and found myself on top of Bella, and then he threw me
to the far side of the tent. I wanted to kill him. Rage flooded through me. We growled at
each other, and my body started shaking in preparation for phasing. Bella stepped
between us and placed her hands on us. She told us to stop it. I had the satisfaction of
watching as Bella made Edward apologize to me. The long night of having to suffer me
holding his girl friend in my arms, my fantasies, and Bella calling my name, must have
cracked the careful composure he usually held together in front of Bella. We picked up
with the taunting, but he won when he suggested that sleeping with Bella as I had last
night wouldn’t have made the “top ten of the best nights of [his] life.” That was too
much for me to think about, and I was happy to get away from them and return to the
pack with the fight to look forward to. Before I could go, Bella started on me, asking me
to stay. I wouldn’t, and I left or I appeared to leave. I waited in the trees and listened to
them. I was hoping he would be mad at her for needing me like that during the night, but
that isn’t what I heard.

       I heard them affirm that they would “stay together” during the fight “no matter
what.” He mentioned distracting her, and I realized with some disgust that he was

thinking about physically distracting her. I wasn’t sure I could listen to that, but
apparently she was still too cold. She asked him to tell her his ten best nights. He
suggested that she guess, and she said that she knew only hers; he encouraged her by
saying that their best nights “might be the same.” I knew staying for this was a bad idea,
but I was morbidly curious. I didn’t understand all the references. Bella’s first was “the
night he stayed”—well, that was obvious. The night he spent the night in her room doing
God knows what with her. This brought them to the topic of Bella talking in her sleep,
and she demanded to know what she had said last night. He told her, mostly his name. It
was true, and it had annoyed the hell out of me. But then before dawn she had murmured
“Jacob” and “my Jacob.” Hearing her say my name in her sleep had sent shivers down
my spine. He told her about saying my name, and she said that she had two separate
ways of seeing me; her Jacob was her friend, and just plain Jacob was the jerk. I
shouldn’t have stayed. I had a much better explanation for “Jacob, my Jacob” in my
head, and here Bella was ruining it.

       They returned to best nights. Bella’s second was coming home from Italy; her
third was the night after Italy. I didn’t follow those. She asked if she had gotten the best
one yet. He said “no,” and he told her that his best night was “two nights ago, when [she]
finally agreed to marry [him].” NO! It couldn’t be! She couldn’t have agreed to do that.
My mind filled with horror and pain. He asked her if it made her list, and she agreed that
it did. Ugh! It was worse. She wanted to marry him or some part of marrying him. It
was too much. I couldn’t take it. I howled out in pain and ran away.

       The forest flew past me, and then I heard him behind me running after me. I
couldn’t believe it. I thought I might be going mad. What could he possibly want? What
was he going to do, rub it in further? He was taking her away from me, and I hated him
for being everything to her that I wanted to be. I turned to face him. I knew he could
hear all that was running through my head, so I just waited. He said that Bella was upset
that she had caused me pain, and he requested that I return with him, so that she could
talk to me. I couldn’t comprehend why he would be doing this even if it was so. Didn’t
he want me out of the picture as much as I wanted him out? He answered one of my

silent questions. He said that he couldn’t bear to make Bella unhappy, and it was
important to her to ease my pain. Of course, it was. I knew that and used it, and he knew
all of that too.

        I tried to keep my desperate thoughts hidden. I knew what I would do whether
she let me or not, but I didn’t want him to change his mind about Bella talking to me. We
ran back. He went to speak with her—to tell her that he would leave her alone with me
while Seth and he coordinated with the pack about a “complication.” He promised not to
listen. He kissed her and left with Seth. I wasn’t facing her. I was trying to control my
thoughts until I knew he was gone. I turned around. I was angry. I told Bella to hurry
up. She began apologizing to me. She was sorry she had hurt me and she would stay
away from me. I told her I didn’t want her to go. She was beating herself up for hurting
me. I turned it around and told her I had been hurting her too by making it harder than it
needed to be, and I suggested that I make things easier by taking “myself out of the
picture.” I didn’t mean it, of course. But I knew she wouldn’t be able to bear the threat
of pain to me (look at what she had done for Edward after all when he was going to kill
himself over her; she had faced the threat of death). Surely, to save me, she would brave
a kiss. She begged me not to let anything happen to myself, to come back to her. She
offered to do anything, and I called her on it. I prompted her to ask me. She didn’t get it
the first time, but then she said it, she asked me to kiss her, exactly what I wanted her to

        I was absolutely desperate. I was angry and excited. This had to work. I had to
completely break down her defenses. I had been too gentle with her at my house; she
retained her delusion that I was her friend and that she didn’t return the love I felt for her.
My excitement verged on violence. I trapped her face in my hands and crushed my lips
to hers. She was passive in my arms, and I felt down the length of her arms to her hands
and forced her to wind her arms around me. I pulled her body tightly to me, molding her
form to mine. I released her lips and ran my mouth around her jaw and neck, and then I
whispered in her ear, “You can do better than this.” I begged her to really feel what she
was doing, and then I threatened her with my life again. That seemed to do something.

She wasn’t passive in my arms any longer; her hands wound into my hair, and I was
elated. I crushed my lips to hers again, and it was everything I imagined and more; she
kissed me back and she was responding to me, pulling me closer. She wanted me! I had
done it! I had forced her to see that she loved me, and I hoped with all my soul that it
was enough, that she would choose me.

       It was time for me to go. I had to be there when the fight started. Reluctantly, I
stopped kissing her. When she looked up at me with her beautiful chocolate brown eyes,
I was staring into her face. I told her I had to go. She protested, but I promised to return
soon. I wanted to protect her from his anger as soon as I could. I kissed her very gently
on the lips and told her “that should have been our first kiss.” And I left her. I was
worried about the reaction of the “bloodsucker,” but I was sure I would be back quickly
to help Bella deal with it. He would know I had kissed her; he would have listened to it,
and he would get it again through the pack mind. I phased and ran as fast as I could. I
could feel the collective pack groan as they read my exultation and the reason behind it.
No one wanted to be thinking about kissing at the moment. Sam’s voice was in my head
almost instantly. He ordered me to pay attention—to put Bella in the back of my mind
and concentrate on the task ahead. He suggested thinking about all the blond vampire’s
unconventional attack strategies. I assented.

       We could hear and smell the newborns as they came toward us. Leah caught one
and Sam helped her with it. Paul and I took down another one. Quil and Embry got one.
Paul and Sam took down another. We were still in touch with Seth with Bella and
Edward and Collin and Brady in La Push. We all gasped as the danger to Seth, Edward,
and Bella registered. Two vampires were coming for them; I howled my agitation. We
watched anxiously as Seth and Edward coordinated their attack; we were all completely
focused on the newborns in front of us, but an extra part of us seemed to be able to take
in the other conflict, the other danger, as well as the lack of danger at La Push. Chagrin
flashed through me. Seth and Edward were about to take on the more difficult assault—if
only I had listened to Bella, I would be defending her with Edward. Embry and I brought
down another newborn. Quil, Leah, and Jared took down another. Paul and Jared

brought another. We could see that Seth and Edward were doing well against their
vampires. Embry and Jared took down another one. It looked like we were done. Seth
and Edward had eliminated their vampires and worked on burning them. We set to work
on gathering the pieces of ours too.

       Leah seemed strangely anxious, and although I didn’t like her much, I found that
my eyes were drawn to her—trying to find the source of her anxiety. In her mind, it
wasn’t specific—something left undone, left unfinished. She moved away from us, and
suddenly she found it, a newborn hiding in the undergrowth. The image flashed in all our
minds. Instead of backtracking and getting help, she lunged at it. I was closest to her. I
felt Sam’s panic that she would be hurt. I threw myself in her path, and I felt the
newborn’s arms wrap around me and squeeze. The pain was unbelievable. I felt the
bones snap under the crushing force. I was helpless in the strength of that grasp. I could
feel the collective pain of the pack as they felt my pain. Even Edward through Seth was
feeling my pain. Sam raced toward me, and he and Paul destroyed my newborn

       I screamed in agony. Our nine newborns were taken care of, and the Cullens
were finished with theirs, especially since Alice, lucky for them, without the handicap of
werewolf interference, could confirm none of theirs were hiding. Their leader and Jasper
came to see us. The doctor, Carlisle, examined me and offered to set the bones correctly
once we were away from here and the Cullens had dealt with the coming Volturi threat—
who would be there soon. He suggested that they, my brothers and sister, take me home
to La Push, and after they had satisfied the Volturi, he would come to set my bones and
give me pain medication. Sam agreed. The Cullens left to face the Volturi, but they
seemed confident about that. Some of my brothers phased into human form, and they
carried me home. Every bump was shooting pain. I howled the whole time, and the
others who hadn’t phased howled with me in sympathy. When we got closer to my
house, we all phased. With the broken bones, the process was excruciating. I switched
from howling to cursing. I made them up as I went, and I surprised myself by the
extensive repertoire of my swearing, but it helped somehow to distract me from the

pain—to yell these ridiculous, obscene words. It was like a violence I could throw back
at the pain that was destroying me.

       Even in my agony, I was anxious about Bella. I knew the conflict between
Edward and Seth and the attacking vampires had gone well, but I wondered about before
that, when he descended on his fiancée for kissing another man. Had he hurt her? Part of
me wished he had—it would make it easier for her to choose me then. But another part
of me knew that he would never loose control with her like that. He had demonstrated
again and again his ability to show more control than I could. Still, he would force her to
choose one of us, I was sure of that.

       They brought me home, my pack brothers and sister, and they stayed with me and
took turns trying to distract me. I lay in my bedroom screaming and cursing
alternatively. Billy was beside himself. He checked on me and sat with me until he felt
useless and then tried to make sure everyone else was okay. Charlie was there but didn’t
really know what to do with himself. My pack family members were all distraught by
my pain which I couldn’t hide from them. Then, Carlisle and Edward arrived. Carlisle
had Billy and Sam and Edward come into my room with me, and they talked about pain
medication dosage. I was all for the maximum. Anyone who had heard me screaming
was for that too. So the good doctor, Carlisle, juiced me. The relief was wonderful. It
didn’t take as long as I had feared. The pain dulled, my muscles relaxed, and suddenly I
was sleepy. And that was all I remembered until I woke up.

       Billy fussed over me, but I didn’t want anything. I was anxious to see Bella, to
make sure she was alright, to know what happened between her and Edward after I left
them, to know who she chose. I counted on his anger. I had kissed his fiancée, and she
had finally responded to me; he would know all of that, especially that she had kissed me
back and pulled me closer. I didn’t think he would break off the engagement. I couldn’t
be that lucky. But the cocky bastard would demand that she choose, and now that she
knew she loved me, I hoped that she couldn’t be without me. I had worked so hard to
make her dependent on me, she had to choose me. And yet part of me also knew that I

could be wrong. That it could go the other way, and even knowing that she loved me
wouldn’t be enough. I tried to be prepared for either possibility, but I didn’t want to
accept the other. The other would mean she was lost to me, and I couldn’t bear that, not
now. I would deal with that only if I had to. I waited. It seemed like forever, and the
uncertainty was a kind of pain almost as acute as the pain of the broken bones earlier.

       Finally, I heard her truck. I pulled myself up and re-arranged the blanket and
waited. I composed my face. Inside my head, I pleaded with her, “Please, please, Bella,
choose me!” The door opened slowly. The anxiety on her face was easy to read; she was
worried about me, but there was pain also, and I tried not to show the disappointment on
my face as I understood the significance of that pain. She knew she loved me, but she
chose him, HIM! My frustration flashed. It was such the wrong choice. I wasn’t sure
what more I could have done. CALM! I told myself. She asked how I was, and I told her
I was all medicated up. I asked about her; I wanted to know how it had gone between
them. I explained that I had been worried about her, about what he had done to her in
response to our kiss. And what she said utterly dumbfounded me. Edward wasn’t mad at
her. Everything I had imagined hadn’t happened: he didn’t yell, he didn’t threaten her,
he didn’t force her to choose. She said he wasn’t even mad at me. She said that he only
cared about her being “happy.” “DAMN!” He had played me, the filthy “bloodsucker.”
He knew exactly what I was going to do alone with Bella, and he turned it around on me.
He used it to seem like the ultimate, self-sacrificing, hero. She really thought he would
sacrifice his own happiness for hers. BASTARD!

       I tried to explain to her. I tried to tell her he was “manipulating her.” In the
process, I realized that I was revealing that I was manipulating her too. In my anger, I
blurted out, “He’s playing every bit as hard as I am, only he knows what he’s doing and I
don’t.” She refused to see it. She was as delusional as always. She defended him and
chided me for threatening suicide to get her to ask to be kissed. She wanted to know if it
made any difference, her knowing that she loved me. It did to me, I told her. I had to
know. I needed her to know and then make the choice knowing she loved me. She sat
beside me and leaned her face against mine, and I reached out to hold her there. She was

miserable; she knew she was hurting me. She asked me to verbally abuse her, so I did,
and she started crying. I hadn’t meant to upset her that much. I moved to get up, and she
told me to be still. I relaxed, but I pulled her down with me, against my good side, and I
felt her nestle against me, and the longing to keep her there, to have her forever against
me, was almost unbearable.

       I told her that I was “going to give in and be good.” She asked if that was just
another strategy in my conquest, and I answered, “Maybe,” but I didn’t see how it could
be. She was going to marry him. What more could I do? How could I fight for her after
she was married? I told her I wouldn’t try rip her apart like the story in the Bible of King
Solomon and “the two women fighting over the baby.” I told her how perfect I was for
her in a normal world. But he wasn’t normal. I told her his hold on her was like “a drug”
addiction. She told me hesitantly that she had seen our life together but that it wasn’t
enough. I asked her about her marriage plans. It was the first time we had formally
acknowledged it. She was cautious. I wanted to know when, when she would stop being
my Bella, when she would be a vampire. She told me after the wedding. I asked her if
she was scared, and she told me her fears. I promised her that I would always be waiting,
hoping. I joked that I might still take her as a vampire—even though I knew that would
be impossible. She wondered when I would find the love of my life and suggested she
would be jealous of the girl. The idea of Bella as jealous of a girl in love with me was
strangely appealing. Then it was time for her to go. She kissed me and told me that she
loved me. I knew she did. I answered back that I “love[d her] more,” and I watched her
leave, wondering if I could ever bear to see her again. I wasn’t sure.

Bella’s Awakening: Part Three

      And I, [Ophelia,] of ladies most deject and wretched, that sucked the honey of his
      music vows…. O, woe is me t’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

      Ophelia, Hamlet by William Shakespeare

      I believe that, before all else [even my sacred duties as a wife and mother], I’m a
      human being, not less than you [my husband]—or anyway, I ought to become
      one…. I have to think over these things myself and try to understand them.

      Nora Helmer, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

      How strange and awful it seemed to stand naked under the sky! how delicious!
      [Edna] felt like some new-born creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world that
      it had never known.

      Narrator, The Awakening by Kate Chopin

      Ah run off tuh keep house wid you in uh wonderful way. But you wasn’t satisfied
      wid me de way Ah was. Naw! Mah own mind had tuh be squeezed and crowed
      out tuh make room for yours in me…. You ain’t tried tuh pacify nobody but
      yo’self. Too busy listening tuh yo’own big voice…. All dis bowin’ down, all dis
      obedience under yo’ voice—dat ain’t what Ah rushed off down de road tuh find
      out about you.

      Janie Crawford, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Old Perspectives

        I remembered the first day at school in Forks, Washington. I remembered seeing
them, the Cullens (Rosalie and Emmett, Alice and Jasper, and Edward), sitting in the
cafeteria like five models shooting a commercial—their un-worldly beauty, their pale
skin, their dark eyes, their perfect features, and their unbelievable grace.

        I remembered the cold fury in Edward’s jet-black eyes when I came to sit next to
him in biology.

        I remembered the golden color of his eyes the day he spoke to me and the way
that I could barely string together coherent words when I looked into his breath-taking

        I remembered him saving me from being crushed by the van and the promise he
made to explain why I was lying for him.

        I remembered the weeks when he wouldn’t talk to me or acknowledge my

        I remembered the day he started talking to me again.

        I remembered the Quileute legends Jacob told me about werewolves and

        I remembered the sound of Edward’s voice from the car as he saved me from the
men in Port Angeles.

        I remembered the way his skin sparkled in the meadow when he let me see him in
the sunlight, and I remembered our first kiss that afternoon.

         I remembered the night I knew he stayed all night in my room (though my father
was oblivious).

         I remembered the sound of his voice in the ballet studio when he saved me from

         I remembered being forced to attend the prom and Jacob’s warning from his
father there.

         I remembered the sound of Jasper snapping at me when I cut my finger at my
eighteenth birthday party.

         I remembered the words Edward used to say good-bye to me in the forest.

         I remembered the feelings of being ripped apart, of missing pieces of my heart,
and of not being able to breathe properly after the Cullens left Forks.

         I remembered being in Jacob’s garage and the comfort I found there and with

         I remembered realizing that Jacob was a werewolf, and I remembered the
werewolves driving Laurent away from me.

         I remembered realizing that Victoria hadn’t given up and was trying to get to me
to avenge what Edward had done to James.

         I remembered the anxiety of not knowing if Alice and I would make it in time to
save Edward.

         I remembered Edward’s reaction to my sudden appearance in the shadows under
the clock tower in Volterra.

       I remembered meeting with Aro and the other Volturi ancients and their guard.

       I remembered the journey home from Volterra.

       I remembered the next morning when I realized it all wasn’t a dream and that
Edward was really back in my life.

       I remembered realizing that he truly loved me.

       I remembered his family members voting to include me in their immortal family.

       I remembered Edward taking me to Florida to visit my mother and keep me away
from Victoria’s return to Forks.

       I remembered finding ways to see Jacob even though Edward thought it unsafe.

       I remembered Edward finally letting me see Jacob.

       I remembered Jacob kissing me and punching him for taking that liberty.

       I remembered realizing that my thief and newborn army of vampires were

       I remembered agreeing to marry Edward and Edward agreeing that we would try
to make love before I was changed into a vampire.

       I remembered demanding that Edward remain with me during the battle between
the werewolves and his family and the newborn vampires.

        I remembered asking Jacob to kiss me because he threatened to allow himself to
be killed in the battle.

        I remembered Victoria and Riley coming for us and Edward and Seth destroying

        I remembered the Volturi after the battle, impressed with the Cullens and their
destruction of the twenty vampires, the newborn army, and its creator, Victoria.

        I remembered going to see Jacob and telling him that despite the fact that I
realized that I loved him, it wasn’t enough, that I loved Edward more, and that I chose

        I remembered that I worshipped Edward, that I thought that he was perfect,
physically, mentally, morally, intellectually, emotionally, and any other way that I could
conceive of. He was a good person, and he was smart, attractive, talented in anything he
did. I was so lucky that he loved me in the same desperate way that I loved him. More
than all of this, I remembered that Edward had saved me time and time again.

        I remembered that I loved Jacob too. He had been my best friend. He had gotten
me through the most difficult time of my life, my time without Edward, and he had
protected me from vampires who sought to destroy me, but it wasn’t enough to change
my more powerful desire for Edward.

New Perspective

       I drove toward home after telling Jacob that I chose Edward, and as I drove, I
thought about all that had taken place in the last few days. The events themselves were
exactly the same, but suddenly I saw them differently. My perspective had changed.
Jacob’s angry words echoed in my ears, and I wound and rewound our conversation in
my mind:

                “He wasn’t mad?... Well damn!... Damn it all. He’s better than I
                ….[And I had said,] “He’s not playing any game, Jake.”
                …[And he continued,] “You bet he is. He’s playing every bit as hard as I
       am, only he knows what he is doing and I don’t. Don’t blame me because he is a
       better manipulator than I am—I haven’t been around long enough to learn all his
                [I retorted,] “He isn’t manipulating me!”
                [And Jacob countered,] “Yes, he is! When are you going to wake up and
       realize that he’s not as perfect as you think he is?”

“Play every bit as hard as I am,” “he knows what he’s doing,” “better manipulator,” “all
his tricks,” I turned over the words over and over again. Suddenly, it hit me. They were
both manipulating me! Elaborate, convoluted, involved strategy was involved; each of
them playing his hardest against the other. They were both completely dismissive of my
wishes and desires; both denying me agency in my relationships with them. I realized
that I was the trophy that Edward and Jacob played for; they may have loved me, but the
contest, the fight, the chase, was what drove them now. Edward had told Jacob, “She is
mine!” and they declared their battle and their fighting tactics which were essentially by
any means necessary. Jacob rose to the challenge by saying, “It’s no fun beating
someone who forfeits.” It was the thrill of the conquest that drove them. How was this
any different than James? Sure, James had wanted to kill me, but it was the hunt and the
contest against the Cullens that drove his desire for me. To Edward and Jacob, I was
never an equal or a partner. I was the weak human who needed protection and perpetual
rescuing to Edward, and I was Jacob’s “little porcelain doll” who again needed protection
and rescuing from vampires. I was lied to, manipulated, and abused in the games they

played over me. They were not monsters because they were a vampire and a werewolf;
they were monsters because they were men who abused a woman. There was no Snow
White or Sleeping Beauty in this story, no prince to save the princess. My story was
more like the Charles Perrault version of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

       I am not sure what it was, but there was some need to start with the fairy tales, the
folk tales, the folk legends, the myths. Vampires and werewolves were of such tales.
There had to be tales of women realizing they were dealing with monsters or confronting
monsters or even successfully fighting monsters that could prepare me for the tasks
ahead. In the Perrault version, Little Red is given some food and drink by her mother and
takes it to her grandmother; she travels along the path through the woods. The wolf
comes out to speak to her, but she is young and naïve and doesn’t understand that wicked
wolves can disguise their motives behind sweet words and pleasant manners and clothes.
So she tells the wolf where she is going, and he runs through the woods and beats her to
her grandmother’s house. There he devours the grandmother, puts on her nightclothes,
and waits in bed for the little girl. Little Red arrives at her grandmother’s. When she
enters the house, the wolf disguised as the grandmother tells her to put the food away and
to take off her clothes and climb in bed with him. Little Red obeys, but she is alarmed by
the changes she perceives in her grandmother’s body and face. When she comments on
his great eyes and sharp teeth, the wolf eats her up. The Perrault version if often
accompanied by a moral that states,

       Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to
       strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say
       ‘wolf,’ but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are
       charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young
       women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves
       who are the most dangerous ones of all.

Perrault’s stories were written to entertain the French aristocracy of the late seventeenth
century (1600s). They reflect Christian ideals of morality and appropriate gender
behavior for elite girls/women and boys/men, even though those appropriate gender
behaviors included a stark double-standard in terms of male sexuality. So to Perrault, it

was perfectly natural for men to be predatory toward women, perhaps not literally in
terms of eating them up but certainly metaphorically in terms of sex and ravishing them.
The responsibility of policing sexuality falls not on the men but on the women. Little
Red tells the wolf were she is going, and Little Red takes off her clothes and gets in bed
with him. The lies and deceptions of the wolf are acceptable tools men use to fulfill their
desires; women are supposed to know better and see through the lies, no matter how
young and naïve they are. As guardians of morality, women are to resist their own sexual
desires or resist even acknowledging that they had sexual desires, in addition to refusing
to acknowledge or especially encourage the sexual desires of men. Since Little Red fails
to see through the wolf’s lies, takes off her clothes, and gets in bed with the him, she is
unredeemable—dead and damned as a harlot.

       My wolves disguised themselves in sweet and honeyed words, and I fooled
myself most of all because I believed that they loved me and, therefore, would not do
things to hurt me, but they have hurt me all along. I need a story where Little Red saves
herself—and is not brutalized by the wolf or wolves, not saved by the huntsman (as in the
Grimm brothers’ version)—but is saved by herself. Suddenly, I was angry, so very
angry. I loved them, both of them, I did. But the realization that they had and were
brutalizing me made my instinct for escape and self-preservation the most dominant
emotion in my mind and in my heart. What I felt for them was real, but what they had
done to me and were willing to do to me, freed me from them. It was suddenly
imperative that I got away, far away. I never wanted to see either of them again. The
decision surprised me. Two days ago, I could never have imagined leaving them,
particularly not Edward (who I had longed to spend the rest of my existence with), but
now, what they wanted and what I wanted were so different. It was painful to see them
as monsters, but that is what they were to me now. My decision was made.

       I had been so wrapped up in love stories, my own and fictional, that I had failed to
see another great trend in literature and history about the relationships between and
women and men. In addition to aching romances, like those of Juliet and Romeo, Cathy
and Heathcliff, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, there were stories of conflict between

women and men and even abuse. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is mainly remembered for the
emotional agony Hamlet endures in trying to uncover his father’s murderer, his own
uncle, but Ophelia is abused by the men closest to her. Her father, Polonius, uses Ophelia
to further his own court ambitions. Hamlet, though intimate with Ophelia, refuses to
bring her into his confidences, and poor, weak Ophelia, too naïve or stupid to understand
the lies and games being played by Hamlet and at court, goes mad and drowns herself. I
will not be Ophelia. I choose to walk away from the controlling men in my life who
threaten to bury me underneath their lies, egos, pride, and love of conquest.

       Edward’s assault on my ability to choose for myself began early I realized. His
unbearable beauty and grace were nothing beside what he could do with his assets (his
eyes, his voice, his scent). I accused him of dazzling people, of dazzling me, and he had
played innocent. But he knew the effect he had on people and used it flawlessly; he
frequently made use of his honeyed voice and his smoldering eyes not just on me but on
others, especially women, school staff, restaurant workers, my friends at school. At first
he experimented with it, testing to see the extent of his powers to influence me The night
after the Port Angeles’ incident, Edward had breathed in my face before I got out of his
car. It amused him to see how utterly helpless I was under its influence, his sweet breath.
He staged choices for me that re-enforced the illusion of my choice in matters such as
asking whether I would accept a ride to school with him the morning after Port Angeles
or whether I would choose to spend the day alone with him the Saturday of the spring
dance. But my choices were always undercut by the more dominant pattern of his
manipulating me to get the outcomes he desired. He got me to agree to his driving home
from our first date in the meadow. He got me to agree to ride on his back the second
time—the time when he used his scent and his voice and his erotic kissing to make me
forget my arguments and surrender completely to his will. He could make me forget my
own name and give up almost any argument I could raise for pursuing my own choices
like when he was distracting me from Alice’s vision at school (of Victoria’s return—
which he kept hidden from me) or when he got me to agree to marry him.

       The idea of early marriage repulsed me. My parents would both object; my
friends would think it ridiculous and assume that I was pregnant. But more than my
parents’ or my friends’ disapproval, I didn’t want to get married now. I was too young. I
hadn’t figured out what I wanted to do in life yet. I wanted Edward forever, but was
there nothing else? Once I was a vampire, there would be Edward and the Cullens and
me, perpetually eighteen, was that not enough? Had I known all along? Had some part
of me balked at the idea of pretending to be a high school and college student over and
over again even with Edward at my side? Found it insufficient? I had wanted to choose
marriage when I was older, established with my life and career. I had wanted to do
something meaningful with my life—marriage could be included in that but it wasn’t the
only thing. But Edward found ways around my arguments both overtly and covertly. If I
married him, he would let us try to make love which I wanted more than anything before
I became a vampire. Though the compromise was spoken, my real surrender came under
the power of his lips, his scent, and his kisses. He had once called it “tampering with my
memory”—but it wasn’t my memory; it was tampering with my will to want a course of
action of my own design, a course of action he had not chosen for me. What kind of
person does that to another? An abuser, a monster.

       But Edward wasn’t the only one who sought to impose his will on me. Jacob’s
designs for me were just as comprehensive and entrapping as Edward’s. He just didn’t
have as much access to me as Edward had, though not for lack of trying. Though Jacob
and I hadn’t been truly romantically involved, that fact had not stopped him from
fantasizing about me and obsessing over me. He had been willing to overpower me, to
crush my body to him, to force me into his embrace, and to kiss me against my will, not
just once but twice or three times if you counted being licked across the face by a
werewolf. My resistance he ignored or didn’t notice which was perhaps worse because
he was so completely involved in his own pleasure that he had no empathy for my
feelings whether pleasure or revulsion. What else he would he have liked to force me to
do? I didn’t like to think about. Nor did I like to think about the liberty he might have
taken had he been in Edward’s place, alone in my bedroom with my unconscious body.
Jacob had been important in my life though I could see now that the relationship was

dangerous and predatory. Of course, he had wanted so much more, but my attention and
obsession had been more completely focused on Edward; Edward dominated the vast
majority of my thoughts and interactions over the past eighteen months. Yes, I needed to
break away from both of them; I needed to see them both as dangerous, but I was scared
of Edward more; I had to deal with him and his behaviors and actions toward me in the
greatest detail because proportionally our relationship was more intense and involved
than that of my relationship with Jacob, but both of them were guilty of abusing me, of
being monstrous.

        What did I need to do now? I needed to talk to Charlie. I couldn’t tell him all,
but I could tell him enough. He could stand by me while I laid it out for both Edward and
Jacob—perhaps even Deputy Mark could be there too. Then, Charlie would need to take
me to the airport and put me on a plane to Jacksonville, to my mother. I would spend the
summer with my mother and consider what I wanted to do about college. My previous
college plans with Edward wouldn’t work now. Besides, I thought that some time with
my mother and some therapy would be good in reorienting myself to more healthy
relationships—since I had spent the last year and half in what I now considered
dangerous and abusive relationships. This was going to be awkward and hard.

        I didn’t realize it, but I was already home. Of course, there was so much on my
mind that I just drove the way automatically without paying that much attention. Was
this the right thing? Yes, I knew the right course was to free myself from them.

        The last few days I experienced Edward and Jacob sinking to lower and lower
methods of hurting each other and binding me closer to each of them despite what I
wanted and asked them to do. Jacob had forcibly kissed me and then threatened to let
himself be killed unless I asked him to kiss me again. Edward had manipulated me into
agreeing to marry him and had informed Jacob that we were engaged before I was ready
to tell him in a gentler fashion.

       If I looked back further, I saw just more evidence of unhealthy relationships.
How did I get around it? Edward wanted to kill me the first time he really smelled me.
That first day, I nearly died twice. Then, he watched me sleep inside my bedroom, and
he watched me for weeks before I knew he was watching. How creepy was that? He was
in my bedroom with me when I was asleep without my permission—let alone the
permission of my father. He followed me to Port Angeles. Yes, he saved me from sexual
assault, rape, and possibly worse—but he was following me—again without my
permission. He lied to me consistently throughout our relationship or he withheld
information from me. He made decisions for me without taking into account my ideas
and beliefs. He manipulated me. He had been controlling and domineering. He had
demonstrated wild mood swings. Jacob once equated my relationship with Edward to a
“controlling, abusive teenage relationship”; he was right and more.

       But Jacob was no better than Edward. Jacob knew I was devastated after Edward
left, but he was flattered and thrilled with my company and the challenge of the
motorcycles (always the challenge). He formed a long range plan to “win” me and kept
working on it. Time was the key. I tried to make it clear that my intensions with him
were not romantic, but he was quick to blur the lines, to take what he could get. Again,
my intensions and my boundaries were not respected; they would be manipulated to meet
Jacob’s desires, not mine. And I was so pathetic that I didn’t have strength to push him
away and stand by my boundaries as carefully as I would have if I had been whole. That
was all part of the plan—slow and steady and persistent—inch by inch—laughing
together, holding hands, putting his arm around me, and then kissing, and then? But
Edward had come back—more accurately, I had gone to bring Edward back, before
kissing Jacob. Jacob’s plan was fundamentally hampered, thwarted, but Jacob used his
happiness and his happiness’ importance to me effectively in his fight against Edward, in
their escalating battle. For them, the ends justified the means, Machiavelli would have
been proud.

       Why couldn’t they get it? I didn’t want to be a damsel in distress; I wanted to be a
partner, and they were both so bent on keeping me helpless. Edward had promised to

turn me into a vampire after I married him, but I had been hounding him for a year to
make the change. I pleaded with him. I wanted to be with him forever. I wanted to be
his partner—someone who was his equal, an ally/co-conspirator, but he was rigid in his
desire for me to remain human as long as possible. I tried to understand his perspective,
but I never truly felt that he tried to understand mine. He was always dismissive about
my desire to give up my humanity. I was a legal adult, responsible for my own actions
according to U.S. law; I could vote, join the military, and die for my country. I didn’t
require parental permission or supervision for my actions. But Edward refused to see me
that way. Did he see my choices, my decisions, as flawed because I was human? Or was
it because they were my choices or decisions and not his? He always knew the best and
forced us to abide by his choices, whether they were better choices for us or not (like his
decision to leave me after the disaster of my eighteenth birthday party which nearly killed
us both). Clearly, my ideas/choices weren’t always bad (stopping the Cullens from
running from the FBI when James came after me and my epiphanies about the newborns
and Victoria), but Edward usually saw things that concerned me through his vision of
what was best for me—unless I or someone else made him see them in a different light—
and even then he tried to manipulate the findings.

       Jacob never considered me a partner at least not after he became a werewolf. I
would always be his porcelain doll. As a human woman, he would protect me as the
man-werewolf from the supernatural elements around me—vampires. But I could never
be a werewolf because the magic blood did not run through my veins. We would always
be fundamentally unequal, and it never bothered him; he never addressed it; he never saw
it as something that would bother me. The most his vision contained was of me as the
happy girlfriend/wife/mother of his children adoring her supernatural
protector/boyfriend/husband/father of her children surrounded by our families and
content with being protected. It didn’t seem that he had learned anything from our actual
time together when I wanted to be as much a part of the action as he was—whether it was
riding motorcycles or jumping off cliffs. Jacob’s option for me was even more
constricting that Edward’s. At least in Edward’s, there was the possibility of becoming a
true partner, but that was not a possibility in Jacob’s vision.

        I had to walk in the door and tell Charlie enough of the truth so that he would be
angry at both of them, Edward and Jacob, and scared enough to send me to mom. Of
course, the television was on, what else? Charlie was sitting on the couch totally
absorbed in a baseball game.

        “Bella? Is that you?” he said barely looking up, but when he did, he did a double-

        “Yeah, it’s me dad. How are you?” I answered back.

        He had seen my face and paused. “Are you all right? You look terrible,” with
some anxiety in his voice.

        “I need to talk to you, Dad; about a lot of pretty serious stuff—stuff I have not
told you about before but should have. Can you turn off the TV?”

        Charlie was suddenly alert and focused. He turned a couple shades of purple but
tried to remain calm and turned off the TV without a word. He watched me closely as I
sat down opposite him and braced myself for what I needed to say.

        “Okay, I have been lying to you. Edward and I are much more serious that you
know.” I knew what conclusions he would draw from that statement, so I held up my
hand and said, “Stop. We have not slept together.” I wanted to make sure I could avoid
another sex talk with him. “But I have thought of running away with him and leaving
you to be with him forever or as long as I can have. I know that you have hoped that I
would prefer Jacob to Edward, but I need to tell you that I have come to the conclusion
that both of them are bad for me. I feel that both of them have hurt me, and I want you
here to help me say good-bye to them, and then I need you to take me to the airport so I
can fly to Jacksonville and be free of them. I love you, Dad. I am so sorry to leave you,
but staying here will leave me vulnerable to both of them, and now that you are going to

know what they have done to me, I don’t think staying here is good for any of us.
Perhaps we should also ask Deputy Mark to be here as well—just as a deterrent to rash
action,” I added.

        “Bella, what are you talking about,” my father asked, genuine alarm showing in
his features.

        “It gets really complicated, Dad,” I tried to explain. “I guess what it comes down
to is that I have lied to you a lot and kept other things hidden from you. You didn’t
necessarily ask or notice, and I didn’t volunteer as much as I should have. Anyway it
comes down to the fact that both Edward and Jacob have tried to force me to do things,
things that I didn’t want to do. Because I cared so much about them, I didn’t see the
force that they were using as wrong—as abusive. I made excuses for them. However,
stuff this weekend made me see it differently, and I am frightened of them. I don’t trust
them to let me go, and I don’t trust myself to be able to stay away from them if I remain
here. I am sorry, Dad.”

        “What kind of lies, Bella? What has been going on?” he demanded his face a
deep and unnatural shade of pomegranate.

        “Okay, here’s the thing, Dad. I need you with me when I talk to Edward and
Jacob—and I need you to be calm and watchful, but you cannot be so angry with them
that you attack them or try to lock them up. I am okay, and I am going to continue to be
okay. I will tell you more of the specifics at the police station. I want to file paperwork
that would call for some kind of restraining order on both Edward and Jacob.”

        My father’s eyes widened and his posture became rigid. The idea of official
police and court action in terms of Edward and Jacob because of what they have done to
me threw the situation into a whole new arena for him. With his face livid, he nodded for
me to continue.

       “Why don’t I give you a couple of examples, so you understand how serious I
am,” I suggested. I would have to edit the stories enough to focus on Edward and Jacob
without distractions of the supernatural or other problems.

       Again, struggling for control, my father nodded.

       “Well, last year, remember when I went to Port Angeles with Jessica and Angela?
Edward was there too. He followed me there. When I went to look for a bookstore, I ran
in to him, and later he admitted to me that he had followed me,” I said. “He was also
watching me. He spent a lot of evenings watching me in my room, here, in our house. I
didn’t realize it at the time. Again, he told me later.”

       Charlie was angry; his face was a livid red color. “Bella, why didn’t you tell me
any of this?” Charlie demanded. “How long have you known?”

       “I’ve known for a while, Dad. The thing is that I got caught up in it. I loved him,
and he said that he loved me. From a certain point of view, it was just romantic and
overprotective. Flattering in a sick way. I think some part of me realized that I should
have been upset by his behavior, but I ignored that part. I didn’t tell anyone,” I said.

       “Did Jessica or Angela see Edward following you? Did you tell any of your
friends about Edward’s behavior?” he asked.

       “Jessica and Angela saw me after I ran into Edward, and no, I never told them that
he had followed me; I’ve never told anyone about him watching me either,” I added.

       “Is there anything else?” he pressed.

       “There are all kinds of things, Dad,” I sighed. “Little things and bigger things.
He lied to me and manipulated my behavior. He did it so often and so flawlessly that I
felt helpless without his protection. Remember how I avoided the spring dance last year;

that’s normal behavior for me, Dad, and he forced me to go to the prom. He forced the
Florida trip this year, as you may remember. He even got me to agree to marry him a few
days ago,” I whispered.

       “Marry him?” Charlie’s face flashed to such a deep shade of magenta that I
thought he might be having a stroke.

       “Yes, marry him,” I said. “He was really good at getting me to do what he
wanted, Dad. That’s why I really need to leave.”

       Charlie was recovering from the shock of the ideas of me and matrimony in the
same sentence. “What made you see things differently, Bella?”

       Charlie needed to know enough but not all. It got so complicated—what to tell
him about and what not to? Did he need to know what happened in Phoenix—I wasn’t
sure I could discuss that without explaining about vampires. What about Italy and the
Volturi (again vampires were too big of a part of that story)? Victoria and the newborn
army, could I tell him enough of that? He wasn’t going to like what he heard. “Well, it
was earlier today really.

       “When you were shopping with Alice Cullen?” he asked raising one eyebrow and
cocking his head to the side.

       “Well, that’s just the thing, Dad. I wasn’t really shopping with Alice. We were
all together. There were a lot of kids. The Cullens, kids from the reservation, Jacob
included, and there were these other kids from Beaver, and at one point there was a
brawl. The kids from Beaver left or disappeared, but there was an incident between
Edward and Jacob, and they were fighting over me, not physically fighting, but arguing
over me. And suddenly, I could see it—all the lies and deception, the manipulations they
were scheming to achieve, and it made me sick. I realized what Edward had been doing,
and from that point of view, it was wrong and twisted. Jacob wasn’t as good at it as

Edward, but Jacob had done as much as he could to force me to choose him, to control
me into choosing him.” Of course, there were no kids from Beaver—but that sounded
better and more realistic than trying to explain about Victoria and her newborn vampire
army and the Cullens and the werewolves fighting against them.

       Charlie was fighting to remain composed; he looked murderous. He tried to say
something but wasn’t able to get out anything coherent.

       So I continued, “You know about Jacob and the motorcycles and the cliff diving.
There were other things. He hurt me on occasion. I know that he didn’t mean to—he
didn’t know his own strength, but he did. He threatened suicide to try to get me to do
what he wanted. His tactics were more desperate than Edward’s, and they have hurt me
just as badly. Can you understand, Dad? I am scared. I don’t think they will let me just
break up with them. I need to be away from here. Will you help me?” I asked.

       My father struggled for a while with the information that I had just shared with
him. He forced himself to regain composure. Suddenly, he leaned forward and said,
“Bella, I’ll take you to the airport, and you can leave now. You don’t need to see them
again. I can tell them your decisions. I can put you on a plane to Florida, and you won’t
need to face them—to put yourself at risk any more,” he said earnestly.

       “It’s tempting, Dad. But I think I really do need to see them, both of them, in
person. If I don’t tell them directly, they may misinterpret my intentions and actions. I
think that it is much more likely that they would come after me if I don’t explain very
clearly how I feel now and that I do not want further contact with either of them,” I
explained. “Of course, they may ignore what I tell them and my wishes—they have both
done so in the past—but telling them face-to-face coupled with restraining orders will
make more public and more formal my requests to be left alone. If they violate the
orders, charges can be pressed. That’s where we want it, where I want it. Can you
understand?” I asked.

      “Yeah, I understand,” he said with a sign. Charlie didn’t look happy, but he
looked resigned. He would help me get away.

      After tidying some things in the kitchen, I excused myself and found the
sanctuary of my room.


       In my room, I walked to the window and pulled it firmly shut and locked it. I
knew that it was only symbolic and that it wouldn’t keep Edward out if he wanted to
come in, but it reflected my new position.

       Alone in my room, I sat down on the bed. I moved to the center and drew my
legs up and hugged them tightly. As I glanced at my books, my eyes fell on two that I
hadn’t considered in a long time. Shortly before Edward was born, twin pillars of gender
protest literature were published. In 1879, Henrik Ibsen published and had performed A
Doll’s House, and in 1899, Kate Chopin published The Awakening. In each of these
works, the female protagonist realizes that societal expectations, of the happy, domestic
woman and the caring, protective man, are shattered. In A Doll’s House, poor Nora
Helmer believed that her life was perfect. Her father had always sheltered her from the
ways of the world, and her husband, Torvald Helmer, continued that tradition. Thus,
Nora did not realize the awkward legal position in which she placed her family when she
forged her father’s signature a few days after his death to borrow some money so that she
and Torvald could travel to Italy where Torvald needed to recover from a serious illness.
She believed that her secret sacrifice, her borrowing the money and slowly and secretly
paying it back, was a noble deed since it was all in the service of saving her husband.
When Nils Krogstad, one of Torvald’s employees at the bank, uses Nora’s forgery not
only to keep his job but to gain a promotion, effectively blackmailing Nora’s husband,
Torvald turns on his wife. He sees nothing noble in her actions. He berates her,
questions her competency with their children, and agrees to retain their marital union for
appearances only. Nora’s friend, Kristine, helps smooth over the situation with Krogstad,
and Krogstad withdraws the threat of blackmail. With the threat averted, Torvald is
willing to forgive his wife and let things go back to normal, but Nora’s world has been
altered fundamentally. Torvald is not the man she thought he was. Suddenly, she sees
him for who he is—a shallow, egocentric man who would turn on her and refuse to see
her sacrifices and commitment. She leaves her wedding ring behind and goes to seek
herself in the new world that has opened up in front of her.

       Though I imaged that my life with Edward was perfect, I find myself, like Nora,
shocked by my surroundings—by the men in my world who have failed me. My father,
so completely self-absorbed in his work and his solitary lifestyle (between television
sports and fishing), has rarely really paid attention to me. When I was nearly catatonic,
he watched me cautiously and prompted changes in my behavior. But when I fell in love
with Edward, when that relationship became obsessive and unhealthy, he failed to notice.
He failed to notice too, the relationship that Jacob tried to force upon me. How
interesting that for all my mother’s failings that she would notice so quickly and from
such limited contact the real nature of Edward’s and my relationship. In the hospital after
James, she saw it in only a few days. In Jacksonville, when Edward and I visited, she
saw it more clearly and tried to talk to me about it—but I distracted her and put her off.
A total of a week, six to seven days, and my mother could see what dad refused to see
clearly for over a year and half. There was something seriously un-natural about our
relationship. A great dad, I kept telling Charlie—because despite his presence, I was able
to do anything I wanted. He was blind, but his blindness suited me because I didn’t see
the dangers in my relationships any more than he did.

       Edward and Torvald seem different in ways, and yet they share painfully similar
characteristics; they see their girlfriends/wives as unequal and childlike, and they do not
value the opinions and commitments of their girlfriends/wives. Nora and I are charming
and attractive when we are fragile and need to be taken care of, when we can be easily
dismissed and treated like children, when we can be manipulated and have decisions
made for us. When we stand up for ourselves, we become threatening and dangerous.
When Edward left, I threw my unhealthy affections toward Jacob. When Edward
returned, he refused to see the sacrifices and commitments I made to Jacob; Edward
refused to let me honor those, so I fought him. Eventually, I won, but Edward’s attitude
toward my relationship with Jacob was always one of conceding something to a spoiled
child complete with parental hand offs and custody rights. Edward had also told me that
he found my silliness part of my charm, and suddenly all of Torvald’s trivializing pet
names for Nora flooded into my mind (his “sweet little skylark,” his “little squirrel,” his

“little spendthrift,” his “little songbird,” his “helpless little mortal,” his “little
featherbrain”); I was silly and weak, and my ideas and desires were easily dismissed or
ignored. Now with the blinders off, I can see that I have never been Edward’s equal, his
true partner, and I need to get out of this place, this male dominated environment. I need
my mother; she will help me find myself, heal myself, so I can find my true place in the

         Jacob and Torvald are much easier to see as similar. Helpless, unequal, object of
protection and devotion, but never partner or equal. Jacob’s vision was always for me to
be his doll, his unequal partner, his pretty plaything in a Barbie dreamhouse. I am
Jacob’s doll, to be protected, confined to the reservation or the werewolf territory for her
own protection, championed from vampires and other threats, allowed to be human to
sate his desires for me but not to fulfill my own. Nora rejected Torvald’s vision just as I
do Jacob’s. Jacob, in this sense, is the easiest to walk away from because there is no
possibility of ever becoming his equal, his partner, in his world.

         The Awakening is different than A Doll’s House, but it too attacks the idea of
romantic bliss in the union between a woman and a man. In The Awakening, Edna
Pontellier realizes that she is caged in the confines of her relationship, marriage, to her
husband, Leonce. Like Nora, Edna has been transferred from one controlling man to
another, her father to her husband. Leonce Pontellier is not a bad man, but he never sees
his relationship to his wife as a true partnership where he has to allow her self-expression
and autonomy. She is to fit his role of wife and mother, and whenever she steps out of
those roles, he either castigates her or is politely indulgent. The relationship is
suffocating to Edna, and though, at the end, she can envision leaving Leonce behind, she
cannot escape the burden of her children; the societal expectations of motherly devotion
to children are too great, too binding, for her. She is unable to walk away alive as Nora
did, so she takes the only other option she can see to free herself; she drowns herself,
another Ophelia.

       Like Nora and Edna, I was never prepared by my father to see dominating male
relationships or to defend myself against them. I feel just as trapped as Edna—trapped by
the domination that Edward and Jacob would force upon me. Caged by the confines of
their expectations and desires for me. The day before the baseball game with Edward’s
family, that brought me into the reach of James, Edward playfully caged me in his arms,
and I refused to feel trapped in his arms, but I deluded myself. Again and again, Edward
has manipulated my circumstances, hidden things from me, and controlled my life. He
has been the very tyrant he once told me was not in his nature to be. It has to stop.
Before it kills me, I need to break free. I need to be on my own.

       Castigating or politely indulgent until he can manipulate me into the course of
action he prefers—those are Edward’s consistent behaviors toward me. “Werewolves are
dangerous, especially young werewolves,” i.e., Jacob. So when I can’t be stopped from
seeing Jacob, I am allowed to see Jacob but with restrictions. “I will turn you into a
vampire, but only if you marry me first.” When I make my demand about having sex
before being turned into a vampire, the answer is at first dismissive, then indulgent, and
then all in the service of forcing me to marry him. I never get the upper hand. I feel like
a puppet in the cable hands of the puppet master. It is more than the caged bird, Chopin’s
consistent metaphor for Edna in The Awakening; the caged bird is at least free to move
and act on her own within the confines of her cage, but I am not. Edward pulls the
invisible strings that guide my actions and lead me to the outcomes he desires. He claims
he wants to preserve my soul, but what is a soul without free choice? I can’t loose my
soul, condemn my soul to hell, or save my soul and achieve salvation when I have no free
will with which to choose, and Edward has taken my free will through his games and
contrivances. Only way from him, can I choose my true path. He is truly “a very, very
terrifying monster”—all the more terrifying for the smoothness of his assaults.

       Again, Jacob is the easier read. He would be happy to have me in the bird cage.
His snares are not as sophisticated as Edward’s, as he has pointed out to me on several
occasions. The pretty, helpless wife in her cage or Barbie dreamhouse would be fine
with him. He would make it all the more alluring by throwing in children and Charlie

and my mom, but the cage would be just as real and just as inescapable, and it would be
reinforced by the pack, his werewolf brothers and Leah, who would watch out for me and
keep me contained in the prison of Jacob’s desires.

        Jacob and I had joked about “eternal servitude” on Valentine’s Day; he had
offered me a cheap box of candy hearts, and I had been so oblivious to the date, I had
nothing to offer him in return. In exchange for becoming his valentine, Jacob proposed
that I become his slave for life. I blew it off as a joke and agreed even though he
continued to make references to the status of the enslaved. But slavery is not a joking
matter; the will and the body of the slave are owned and controlled by the whims of the
master. Jacob came up with the images of slave and me enslaved. It made me
uncomfortable. What exactly, if he could have made me do anything, would he have had
me do? Jacob’s image of me as his “porcelain doll” had been bad enough, but the slave
image was more frightening—with dark associations to beatings, whippings, rape, and
worse—things that masters did to their slaves—things that made slavery so repugnant
that Americans abolished it. When Jacob offered me his servitude, I had rejected it,
answering him that I did not want a slave; I wanted a friend, a comrade, a partner. Why
hadn’t I been more alarmed of his fantasy of me as his slave?

        I had to think; I had to have time to think alone. I had to tell Edward to stay
away. I went down stairs and hoping I wasn’t giving too much away; I picked up the
phone and dialed Edward’s phone. He answered immediately, his voice sounded pained.
What had Alice seen? What had she told him already? My breath caught in my throat. I
hesitated. “Edward,” I whispered, “I—I have some things to think about.”

        “Yes,” he whispered back. “I know you do,” his voice was thick and strained,
like it cost him a great deal to say anything at all.

        “I’d like to see you tomorrow, if that is okay?” I asked, my voice trembled, and I
felt the tears welling in my eyes.

       “If you like,” was all he answered.

       “I’ll call you,” I added lamely.

       “Till then, my love,” he murmured, and the line went dead; he was gone. It was
all I could take. I ran to my room and shut the door. I flung myself across the bed and
cried into my pillow. The pain was horrible, but every part of me knew that it had to be
like this. I had to tell him good-bye, and I would also need to go back and tell Jacob
good-bye. I had to leave. I had to get away from them.

Stages of Abuse

       I had stopped to look at my relationships with Edward and Jacob from the
perspective of them being unhealthy and unequal. But there was more. If I was honest,
the relationships could be considered abusive—emotionally and psychologically abusive,
certainly; physically abusive—I wasn’t sure. If looked clinically, objectively, could I see
them as abusive?

       Alone in my room, with my confused and tangled thoughts, I dried my tears and
started the computer. I waited as it warmed up, and waited some more for the Internet
connection to connect me to the information I wanted: “abusive relationships,”
“psychological abuse,” “psychological manipulation,” “controlling relationships,”
“battered women,” “physical abuse,” “stalking,” “domestic violence,” “intimate
violence,” “restraining order,” “Protection from Abuse.”

       “Warden”—Jacob had used the term to emphasize how Edward controlled me. I
had scoffed at the idea. But there were a range of abusive issues that separately might be
dismissed but together these threads wound upon each other creating a thick cord that
seemed more and more dangerous to me. Abusive strategies bound me to Edward and
made me feel dependent on him and helpless without him. Jacob’s strategies were not as
all encompassing but they were still effective and threatening and just as binding.

       I had thought of my need for Edward as an addiction, and Jacob had used such
terms too; he thought I was addicted to Edward in an unnatural and unhealthy way.
Edward had claimed that I was his addiction. But the whole metaphor of addiction took
away free will, free choice. The addict craves his or her drug, blindly and irrationally.
Physical need overrides any other considerations. My mind created elaborate
mechanisms to shield me from the idea that Edward was bad for me. The idea of being
addicted to Edward was one of the best of these because it took way my free will in the
relationship, and it made me ignore the damage the relationship exacted (the lies,
manipulation, distancing from friends and family).

       What were the separate threads of Edward’s control over me and how were they
related to abuse? His impossible beauty and my ordinariness. The fairy-tale nature of
our relationship and forbidden love. The lure and risk of loving a “bad boy,” someone
who was dangerous. His flawless acting skills and ability to lie to me and manipulate my
behavior. His feigned vulnerability with me in particular. His obsessive behavior toward
me. His traditional upbringing and my upbringing and its predisposition for my
tendencies toward encouraging traditional gender roles of weak women and strong men.
The way being around him cut me off from my other friends and from my family. The
way I got hurt around him.

       My Internet research told me much. A gross distillation of that information was
that men who abused women had control issues. They often came from isolated, cold
families, and they sought to isolate their partners from their friends and families so that
they might have more control over their partners and make their partners feel helpless.
They had strong senses of male superiority and traditional gender roles. They lacked
social skills in some fundamental ways—making them dependent on their female
partners and yet resentful of the dependence. Though they lacked social skills, they often
appeared to function well outside the home and in public arenas. They were frequently
moody, and their moods shifted unpredictably. The threat of violence underlined their
interactions with their partners (emotionally as well as physically). Jealousy was an issue
for such men because of their dependence on the women in their lives. Women were in
the most danger when trying to escape from or put distance between such abusive
partners. Stalking, in such situations, was one response; other men became physically

       Wow! How could I have missed the signs? I was so desperately in love with
Edward—that I didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t see. The achingly romantic aspects of our
relationship always seemed to bury the evidence of it as wrong and un-natural. I had
been so caught up in the idea of the supernatural relationship between a human and a

vampire, I didn’t consider the other aspects of it. It was too easy to dismiss the human
warning signs because of the supernatural aspects of his world.

       Edward controlled me; he manipulated my actions thoroughly. Were they
conscious or unconscious, the things he did? Some of them must have been conscious,
planned, and deliberate. Other things could have been unconscious. I don’t know. I
can’t read minds, but I can’t trust him to be honest. Over and over again Edward has
demonstrated his ability to lie to me, so I will never know the extent of his designs. But I
know that I can’t believe what he tells me.

       Edward was constantly at work to shape my decisions and actions. His
manipulations made these things look like they were genuinely mine—but he was always
there behind the scenes. He monitored me by listening to thoughts of my friends. He set
me up so that Tyler could ask me to the dance after Mike and Eric already had. He lied
to me about the reasons for his family leaving Forks. He manipulated me into fighting
with Charlie and going to Florida to visit my mother. He tried to end my relationship
with Jacob, and then he used my relationship with Jacob to manipulate my devotion
toward him.

       Although everyone always pictures the best looking guy in school going out with
the best looking girl in school, it doesn’t always happen that way. Some guys use their
looks or their age as strategic assets in their conquests of girls. The great looking boy
asks out an okay looking girl in his class, and because she is so flattered and eager to be
with him, she goes farther emotionally and sexually and gets in too deep with him than
she would with another guy. The good-looking guy knows this and uses it to get what he
wants. Age can also have a similar effect. A senior guy asks out a sophomore girl or a
freshman girl, and she just gushes over getting the attention of an upper classmen so
much so that she does things that she wouldn’t with a boy her own age. The two of the
girls who ended up pregnant at my high school in Phoenix were like that. Richie
Thompson, the best looking boy in school, asked Sara Davis to his junior prom; she was
quiet and shy and nice. We had Spanish together sophomore year. A couple months

later, they broke up, and she was faced with either single-motherhood or an abortion.
The other girl was a sophomore dating the senior football quarterback.

       Although Edward resisted having our physical relationship go too far, his
conquest of me was absolute. Vampires had supernatural beauty; Edward knew the way I
regarded the disparities in our looks. He told me that I was the most beautiful thing in his
world and would always be so, but he never explained to me how I could still be beautiful
to him when I was old and he was perpetually seventeen. I think that he counted on his
unnatural beauty to make me vulnerable, to keep me from noticing the disturbing aspects
of his pursuit of me.

       The fairy-tale nature of our relationship was another strand. A relationship
between a mortal girl and an immortal vampire seemed an impossibility because most
vampires would kill the girl. Also the exposure of the secret vampire world to humans
was against vampire law and could result in punishment by the Volturi. Then, he wasn’t
just any vampire; he was a “vegetarian” vampire, and I wasn’t just any mortal girl; I was
“his singer” because my blood smelled more incredibly inviting and appealing than any
other mortal’s blood—even to his vegetarian palate.

       There was also the achingly romantic speed of our obsessions for each other. We
barely knew each other before he was declaring that he loved me more than I loved him.
I entered school in January. There was that awkward first day when I didn’t understand
why he was reacting to me that way and where he fought not to kill me on school
property, and then his absence for the rest of that week. Then, he started talking to me—
but that was abruptly stopped after he saved me from the skidding van in the school
parking lot. That was followed by six weeks of silence. The ice broke with the girls’
choice dance when he started talking to me again. We sat together at lunch. Then he
rescued me from sexual assault, rape, or worse in Port Angeles, and I told him that I
knew he was a vampire and that I didn’t care, and the next day he was insisting that he
cared more for me than I did for him.

       Three days later, alone in the meadow, he was again telling me that I was the most
important thing in his life (that he loved me, although he waited until the following day to
use those exact words). If you counted the days that we actually talked consecutively,
could they have added up nine to ten days, maybe eleven, but not even two weeks? Less
than two weeks, and it was barely five days between the night in Port Angeles and our
outing in the meadow. And we were in love? It sounded crazy; it was crazy.

       Obstacles were thrown at us: James, the vampire who hunted me, Jasper’s
reaction at my eighteenth birthday party when I cut my finger and Edward’s decision
remove himself from my life to ensure his family would never endanger me again, my
friendship with Jacob and the werewolves, the return of Victoria (James’ mate) and
Laurent to hunt me, and Edward’s attempt at suicide and my journey with Alice to save
him. But then when we were reunited, I felt that he loved me, and I knew that I loved

       Finally, it was agreed that I would join his family as an immortal—that we would
become equals. We were putting it off until after the battle with Victoria’s newborn
army, and he attempted to get me put it off longer by insisting on marriage first. But it
was always the impossible story of the mortal girl and the vampire boy—forbidden love,
special love, love that could cross over the normal boundaries that would or should hold
us apart—another strand in the cord.

       His lying should have warned me. He was an obsessive liar. As a vampire, it was
something he had to do to keep his world hidden from human eyes. Yet, he lied and
manipulated me every chance he got. I know, or I think I know, that I got glimpses of the
truth, his real feelings and his real motivations. But other things seem so far fetched to
me now. My favorite books were Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice, and Wuthering
Heights. But I was a bookish seventeen year old when I met Edward. What seventeen
year old boy would read those kinds of books? Not Jacob certainly. I couldn’t even
imagine a seventeen year old boy in 1918 reading and obsessing over such books,
especially if he thought of himself as a warrior or a soldier about to enter World War I.

Edward had told me that that’s how he considered himself—just like Henry Fleming in
Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage—he was eager for the battles, the imagined
glory, the role of a soldier. If that was really the case, shouldn’t The Iliad and The
Odyssey, The Aeneid, Le Morte d’Arhtur, the Leatherstocking Tales, Tolstoy’s War and
Peace, or even Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage have been more appealing and have
more power over his imagination than my favorite love stories? Of course, as a perpetual
high school and college student, Edward would be only too familiar with classic high
school texts like Romeo and Juliet, but even so. He memorized the books that I liked and
quoted them to me—again the achingly romantic clouded fact that he was manipulating
me, lying to me, positioning me for the next move—binding me to my course through the
allusion of free will, my choosing him, instead of the reality, his closing off my options.

       His achingly romantic appeal was furthered by his claims that he had been
waiting a century for me, and only me—that this was first love for him as well as for me
and that he too was a virgin so that when we finally did make love, it would be the first
time for both of us. What girl wouldn’t be rendered utterly helpless by such claims?
Edward was too romantically perfect to be real; he was a creation, a fiction, a story too
good to be true which made him all the more difficult to be extricated from.

       He was controlling in other ways. He insisted on driving me home after I nearly
fainted in biology during blood typing after he arranged our early dismissal from school.
He threatened to drag me across the parking lot if I tried to get to my own truck. He
insisted I have food and drink after the incident in Port Angeles, despite my protests. He
insisted on driving after our day in the meadow. He insisted on taking me to the prom
despite the fact that I never would have gone to it on my own—and he didn’t even tell me
where we were going until I figured it out by myself. Mystery date—and we end up at
the prom! Why didn’t I see something wrong with being taken out “blind” without
knowing the destination of the date? Even when I was allowed to see Jacob, Edward
reduced me to infantile dependence by insisting on driving me to the drop-off/pick-up
point and leaving me with a cell phone. Then there was his manic mission to get me into
a good college with the never ending stream of college applications—on half of which he

forged my signature. A college he would also be attending, so that we would be together,
and I would have no opportunity to unbind myself from him. He thwarted my agency
over my own actions again and again. He had to control me just as abusive men control
their victims.

       Another part of the lure, another stand in the cord, was his vulnerability. Only I
was immune to his power of mind reading. No other person posed the challenges and
frustrations of my closed mind. He never stopped telling me how painful it was for him
not be able to hear my thoughts, to know what I was thinking. It gave me the allusion of
having a power over him—yet since most minds are closed to the people around them
except when they honestly and freely share those thoughts, what really was this power?
If he had been able to read my thoughts like he could everyone else’s, I would have been
dirt beneath his feet. He could have completely controlled me—not that he didn’t very
nearly already do that through the ways he entrapped, manipulated, and bound me—but if
he could have seen into my head as well, there would be no hope for me; there would be
no chance to break free. When we first explored our relationship, he emphasized his
vulnerability again to suggest that he didn’t know how to be close to me—that he didn’t
know how to intimately human with me—unsure, insecure, virgin—vulnerability again.

       But he was always good—perversely both good at sexually arousing me and at
keeping us from “going too far” sexually. He could make me forget my name under the
power of his touch or his kisses. He made me feel like I would spontaneously combust
from the passion that I felt and that he held me off from consummating. It was
maddening. Too much was dangerous, so he said. He always dictated our terms, our
contact. I was never in control, never offered the responsibility, never responsible for the
consequences. He even brought the argument down to the idea of his soul and my soul
and damnation. My willingness to have sex before marriage—for us to lose our virginity
– affecting not just my soul but his—the vulnerability of his soul (saved or damned) in
my power too. He was such a cheater.

       The way he obsessed about me was another characteristic of an abuser. I found
his attention flattering at the time. I didn’t see it as another way to know everything
about me so that that knowledge could be used to control or manipulate me, but I could
see it now. After the Port Angeles incident, he spent days questioning me about every
minute detail of my life. I thought it was weird at the time, but I was so distracted by his
total absorption in my answers and his unbelievable beauty that I didn’t think about it
clearly. By providing him with so much detail about my life and the people I knew, even
the books I liked best, I gave him tools to manipulate me, tools he used. Not only did he
ask about every aspect of my life in Washington and in Phoenix, he listened to the
conversations I had with my friends so that he could try to figure out what I was thinking,
he stalked me, he watched me at night and was in my room while I slept, he followed me,
he had his sister kidnap me to keep me from my werewolf friend, Jacob. He had his
sister monitor my movements and future, and he insisted that I marry him before
becoming immortal, even though I was eighteen and marriage was not something I was
interested in doing or wanting so young.

       His secret vampire world masked the fact that my relationship with him isolated
me from other people, my mother, my father, my human friends—a tactic of abusers so
they can more completely control their victims and keep others from interfering. He and
his family became the center of my universe, and that universe pulled me away of my
network of family and friends who might comment on Edward’s controlling ways and his
manipulation of me. Jacob had warned me over and over again that Edward was
controlling, but I wouldn’t see it. And Edward’s family was isolated, isolated from the
human world around them, constantly moving on when their never changing natures
threatened to reveal them. Though they were physically cold, they were so emotionally
bonded to each other and then to me that I wouldn’t see the danger in giving up my
relationships with my mother and friends.    And I furthered the isolation on my part.
Though when I first met Edward I didn’t like to lie to people and wasn’t good at it, I
slowly got better at it, as I lied or withheld information about Edward and me to my
father, my mother, and my human friends.

           Two other important traits of abusive relationships were related: Edward’s
notions about love and marriage (tied to his traditional upbringing) and my own
upbringing. In 1918, he was a product of Victorian values with their idealized views of
women as weak and vulnerable; creatures that needed protection and shelter from the
harsh realities of the outside world. And I fulfilled that role. I was clumsy and accident
prone. I cried too easily. I had cared for my mother all my life, and I fulfilled traditional
housekeeping functions for my father. I read with horror that my own upbringing as the
caregiver, the nurturer, as the daughter of divorced parents (who didn’t see the normal
give and take between a wife and a husband), the child of a cop (a man in the traditional
role of protecting women and society) and a kindergarten teacher (a woman in
traditionally female occupation and role of instructing young children), only made me
more vulnerable to an abusive partner. It would be in my nature to want to help Edward,
to care for him, even if he was mean to me. I would want to give him another chance, I
would want to help cure him. I would minimize his dominating behavior and then
emphasize all his startlingly sweet behavior. The unpredictability of his moods would
encourage me to react to such behavior with “learned helplessness”—I didn’t feel able or
empowered to stop the mood changes or his manipulation of me. The two, his
upbringing and mine, added to the cord that bound me to him.

           From the very start, I sought to ease or stop Edward’s and Jacob’s pain and
discomfort—even putting myself at risk or danger to do so. It was my instinctual
reaction. With Edward, it happened at once. Every time anguish crept into his eyes or
voice, I sought to overt it. That day before our first trip to the meadow, I lied to everyone
I had told about going out with Edward and kept the information from my father, to keep
him safe, not myself. It was the same with Jacob. When I saw his face in pain, it became
my mission to see his anguished look disappear and to see him smile again. I always put
the happiness of others before myself. I had moved to Forks so my mother would be
happy with her new husband. When I was devastated after Edward and the Cullens left
Forks, I made the effort to return to my normal school and work routines to make Charlie
happy, to ease his concern and guilt. Did I ever put myself first? I would have to work
on that.

       A lack of social skills characterize abusers. At first, that seemed ridiculous when
I thought of Edward. He was so good at manipulating, “dazzling,” people because of his
immortality and his special gifts. But when I considered it differently, none of the
Cullens fit in at school; they stood apart—as a girlfriend pointed out to me on the first
day of school in Forks. When Edward had first confided in me about his special gift,
reading minds, he had also commented on the problem that gift presented when he was
attempting to be normal. No, the Cullens didn’t fit in—though they tried to blend and
pass for human—and I was the human who would disconnect from my world and enter
theirs though it left me isolated and dependent on a man who constantly sought to shape
my future into what he felt was best for me, taking my agency away from me.

       I had internalized Edward’s abusive behavior so much that I couldn’t live without
it. When he left me, trying, as he later explained, to protect me from his family and
himself, I found a way to fabricate the abuse. I couldn’t just be separated from him and
be better off. Of course, I filled part of that lack of abuse by entering more deeply into a
relationship with Jacob, but I also found ways to hurt myself, so I could imagine him in
my mind, yelling at me, being angry with me, threatening me. It was psycho—truly
deranged. I tried to recreate the scene of my near sexual assault in Port Angeles from
which Edward had saved me. I drove and crashed a motorcycle several times. I jumped
off a cliff and into water so rough I nearly drowned. These were the things that I had
done intentionally to put myself in danger to hear his abusive voice in my head, but there
were other moments of danger too, that came at me without my conscious design. Times
when I provoked Jacob so much that he nearly transformed in front of me and the time
Laurent found me in the meadow and nearly killed me before the werewolves hunted him
down and tore him to pieces.

       Another part of the attraction, the lure, was Edward’s bad boy status. He told me
he was dangerous to me. Being alone with him put me in physical jeopardy. The smell
of my blood could overpower him, and he could kill me. In the beginning, when the
threat was very real, his longing for my blood and yet his refusal to hurt me were

strangely seductive, hypnotic even. The threat of violence coupled with a passion to love
me and keep me alive made me feel special, unique in a twisted sort of way. What I
should have seen was danger! From his violent mood swings to his displays of anger or
aggressive behavior to his demonstrations of his physical strength and ability compared
to a regular human, he threatened violence. It was strangely romantic to think that he
warred with himself to be with me, to protect me and not to hurt me. The misunderstood
bad boy—vulnerable, kind beneath the surface, tormented. James Dean’s character in
Rebel without a Cause but with way more to suffer over than self-absorbed 1950s
suburban parents who couldn’t be bothered with their human teenaged son and his
problems. It probably didn’t hurt Edward’s appeal any either that my father was so
stubbornly determined to dislike him. Natural teenaged rebelliousness meant that dad’s
disapproval made him instantly more appealing. The bad boy who struggled to be good.
It wound around the other threads.

       His mood swings should have made more of an impact on me—because they gave
me emotional whiplash. They hinted at physical violence boiling beneath the surface—
aching for release through physical action, physical abuse. They stood out so clearly.
Even Aro had mentioned that Edward was so angry when we saw him in Volterra. So
much, Edward kept bottled up and hidden from me. The Cullens didn’t keep secrets
between themselves because they couldn’t (mind reading, fortune telling, and their acute
vampire senses made lying impossible or very difficult). But Edward always kept things
from me. He kept Alice’s vision of my becoming a vampire from me and the knowledge
of vampire transformation. He kept other secrets from me. He flew me to Florida rather
than tell me about Victoria coming to Forks. Though I rarely kept anything from him, he
chose to withhold information from me regularly or to lie to me, both to control me.

       Aside from the threat of violence inherent in his being a vampire and me being a
mortal or the violence he used or threatened to use to defend me from rapists, James, the
Volturi, werewolves, and Victoria and her newborn vampire army, there was the violence
of his very nature, hunting and feeding on live prey. Even though the Cullens satiated
themselves with animals, those animals were hunted down and drained of blood in very

immediate and physical terms—the chase for prey, the physical contact, teeth ripping into
neck flesh and tendons to reach the blood supply, the sensations of the dying animal.
Yes, the Cullens feed off animals, not people, but hunting as vampires was just more
physically violent and brutal than humans using weapons to hunt animals (even primitive
weapons). What aspect of Edward didn’t hint at a violent nature, I wondered, and how
did that affect me? It seemed to bind me to him. I was like a hostage suffering from
“Stockholm Syndrome.” Edward’s perpetual saving me from people who threatened me
(most of whom I had to admit, I came into contact with only because I had a relationship
with him) made me feel dependent on him. His personally violent nature (his eating
habits, his mood swings, his desire for my blood, his anger, his actions fighting for me)—
I justified all that because I needed him, felt addicted to him. I couldn’t envision myself
as able enough or powerful enough to survive without him. I forced myself to see safety
and love and security with Edward because my mind wouldn’t let me deal with the
obvious; Edward was dangerous and abusive, and I should free myself from him.

       What could I say, even Edward’s face drawn up in his beautiful smile was a
threat—as his marble lips revealed his venomous teeth, the ultimate vampire weapons.
Every kiss around or near those teeth was flavored with the not so subtle menace of what
they could do and had done to countless animal prey, to human victims (during Edward’s
rebellious phase), and to other vampires. As if the teeth themselves were not hazardous
enough, there was the way that Edward kissed me—the way his lips always found my
throat, the underside of my chin and jawbone, the base of my neck, the join between my
neck and shoulders, my collarbone. We both seemed to thrill to that all too suggestive
contact—his lips, his teeth at my most defenseless spot in my most defenseless position,
my arms around him and his arms wrapped around me with my neck exposed and
inclined toward him. It was erotic not just because of the way it felt and the ache and
longing that made both of us want to go further than just kissing; it was erotic because it
hinted at death and orgasmic relief that the last barrier of life offered to me, a human, and
to him, a vampire, as he got to sate his thirst for my blood.

       Though I knew I didn’t want to think of them this way, the Cullens as family were
threatening. Edward was one of a very powerful and large family of vampires; seven in
his immediate family and five more if you included his extended family in Alaska
(Tanya’s family). The Cullens had protected me and loved me—but they were
threatening in just the same way as Jacob’s pack was. Each of them, Edward and Jacob,
stood with loyal, devoted family behind him, a family willing to fight, willing to kill,
willing to die to defend its members. I was the outsider, the human. Then there was the
fact that Jacob’s great-grandfather and the other tribe elders had felt the threat of the
Cullens was so real that they forged the original treaty between the tribe and the Cullens
and tried to minimize vampire/werewolf contact as much as possible so violence
wouldn’t erupt.

       In terms of abuse, one of the most obvious things Edward did was the stalking.
Six weeks after I met Edward, he was in my bedroom while I slept without my
permission or my father’s, listening to me, watching me—did he touch me too? What
else did he do in my room all night long as he watched me while I thrashed in my sleep,
covering and uncovering myself with my blankets? Would he, could he have
masturbated over my unconscious body? (Maybe that was why he could display such
physical restraint when our kissing threatened to escalate into so much more.)

       Edward told me later that his motivation for watching me sleep was his jealousy
and frustration over the invitations I had received from three of my male classmates for
the spring dance and the rejections I had given them. He told me that he was thrilled
when I said his name that night and that at that moment he had committed himself to
trying to be with me. He smoothed over the trespassing and spying on me by telling me
that if he could dream, he would dream about me. It was so heartbreakingly romantic—
that I refused to see the sick, twisted nature of his actions. He was in my room without
my permission when I was unconscious not just once but for weeks afterward, night after
night. A version of Sleeping Beauty flashed through my mind. My mother had found an
old Italian version of the story where the princess didn’t wake with the prince’s kiss, and
the prince didn’t stop with a mere kiss. He had obsessed over the unconscious body of

the princess to the point of having sex with her. It was a disturbing image, and I realized
with a jolt that the only fairy tale character Edward had ever referenced in terms of me
and our relationship was Sleeping Beauty. Was that a coincidence or a Freudian slip?
Edward alone with me and my unconscious body, I could only imagine what my father
would think of that.

       Stalking me in my room, wasn’t all he did. There was the following me to Port
Angeles. Of course, he saved me from sexual assault or worse, but there was still the fact
that he followed me, shadowed my movements without my knowledge and again without
my permission. If he hadn’t saved me from those men, it would have been super creepy
that he had secretly followed me. And I couldn’t forget the nearly silent menace of
suddenly finding Edmund’s silver car inches from my truck’s bumper the first day I
successfully escaped to the reservation to see Jacob against Edward’s prohibition from
werewolf contact. He stalked me in his car all the way to Angela’s house. The threat of
the car so close to mine was bad enough, but I couldn’t bring myself to look at his face
because I knew the rage and fury in his face would be worse than the menace of the
following car.

       Abusive men were often irrationally jealous, and Edward was jealous; he
confessed it to me. He was jealous of Mike Newton and of Jacob. He had been jealous
of Mike, Eric, and Tyler asking me to the spring dance. His jealousy drove him that night
to break into my bedroom to watch me sleep. It drove him to thwart Mike’s attempt to
take me to the nurse when I felt faint in biology. And what was it that nearly drove him
to murder my would-be assailants in Port Angeles? Was it jealousy or an insane over-
protectiveness? It wasn’t normal; it was sick, but at the time, I had seen it as oddly
chivalrous, the knight battling enemies for his lady fair and her honor. The ideas of
vigilante justice and murder hadn’t really bothered me as much as they should have.

       What was it about boys and men? Edward had called Mike Newton my
“boyfriend,” and he had referred to my would-be rapists in Port Angeles as “my other
friends.” I had heard other boys make similar references. In reflection, it seemed to be

more than just sarcasm and poor taste in teasing. It was a projection of jealousy. Edward
was jealous of Mike. Though he knew that I had no feelings for Mike in that way, he
couldn’t resist equating Mike as my boyfriend. Was it so he could hear my denial or
because, as usual, he ignored me and what I said and saw Mike as a rival anyway? More
unsettling was the idea of my sexual assailants in Port Angeles as friends. They clearly
weren’t my friends, but what was the relationship that they had with me or wanted to
have with me that Edward found so alluring, so equivalent to his own desires—that he
would see them as rivals in the same way that he saw Mike? Did Edward have violent
sexual fantasies about me or just sexual fantasies about me? The later I could handle, but
the former made me cringe.

       Later, Edward was insanely jealous and controlling about my contact with Jacob.
At first, he refused to trust my judgment about Jacob. He went to extreme measures to
keep me away from Jacob (kidnapping, bribery, coercion). Even after he eased up about
Jacob and the werewolves, he had to make an effort to hide his jealousy from me, and he
wasn’t always successful. But the jealousy seemed to thrill him. In hind sight, I wonder
if I should have seen that jealousy was more enthralling to him than our love. It certainly
was the motivation behind his battle over me with Jacob where no tactic was too ruthless.
That first night in my bedroom when I actually knew he was there, when I had remarked
about how happy he seemed, he had started to talk about first love and how powerful
such a thing was to experience rather than reading about it or seeing it portrayed, but that
conversation was brief and followed by a much longer and intense description of his
feelings of jealousy toward me and someone like Mike, someone besides himself. The
emphasis on jealousy instead of new love should have flashed warning more clearly.

       There was also the dark knowledge that the Cullens had acted in ways that
attracted police and FBI attention and yet escaped capture and/or punishment. Their
family had been on the run from the law; they had broken laws, stolen cars, forged
documents, and assumed new identities. I didn’t know the specifics of what had driven
them to run from the law, but when James was hunting me, last year, Edward had made it
plain that his family had experience running from the FBI. Perhaps the addition of one of

their family members had been the impetus. It must have been awkward for someone
like Rosalie to just disappear. Even with the most noble of reasons, the fact was that the
Cullens broke laws and were in contact with a criminal underworld which at the very
least provided them with false identities and forged documents, and that knowledge was
threatening in its own way—especially to the daughter of a cop.

       Jacob pursued me as obsessively as Edward did, and he used abusive tactics just
as freely as Edward. For both of them, the competition over me became more interesting
than the feelings they may have or may not have felt for me. It was just like with James,
the challenge of the quest became more interesting than the object of the quest. They
goaded each other. Edward polluted my hair with his scent before leaving me alone with
Jacob. At handoffs where I was traded between territories like a child, Edward kissed me
more passionately than was necessary in front of Jacob with the express purpose of
annoying Jacob, and Jacob responded by crushing me in overly zealous hugs before
Edward could drive away. Jacob took liberties in both his forms (human and wolf), the
first night of practice before meeting the newborn army, Jacob, in wolf form, took
obvious pleasure in Edward’s appalled reaction to the wolf licking my face.

       Jacob too was abusive. At first, he was just Jacob, the boy I had seen on summer
vacations to visit my dad, only older, but innocent and happy and open, and yet I was
strangely obligated to him which he used deftly to his advantage as often as he could. It
was through Jacob that I first realized Edward was a vampire. When the Cullens left, and
I crashed into myself, it was Jacob who I turned to with my crazy motorcycle scheme.
Despite stitches to the head and a concussion, Jacob never discouraged me from riding
the motorcycle or encouraged me to get more protective gear (like a helmet or a jacket).

       Jacob repeatedly used my friendship with him to manipulate me into a deeper
relationship though I fought him as well as I could. He took any opportunity he could to
force himself on me. He did it at the disastrous horror movie that we went to with Mike
Newton. He did it at his house, when he told me that he loved me and forcibly kissed me.
He did it before the battle with Victoria and her newborns when he threatened to “allow”

himself to die so that I would ask him to kiss me. Through the threat of suicide, he
forced my hand. He knew I would do anything to avert his pain—so obsessed and under
his power as I was. My rational, objective choice would never have been to kiss him—
especially after I had just agreed to marry Edward, but he manipulated me skillfully. I
would betray myself, betray Edward, to try to save Jacob, and I did, and then I hated and
abused myself for it afterward. What should have given it away was the way Edward
saw it—as strategy, tactics—“Jacob’s more cunning than I gave him credit for.” I
wondered if it was ever about me at all? There was more scheming and planning that
Jacob never was able to put into action because I picked Edward over Jacob, but he
hinted at his game plan to Edward in the tent on the night before the battle with Victoria.
Manipulation and deception—things kept hidden to get me to do what he wanted me to
do, to control me, to make me his—not of my own free will but of his design: his “game

         As Jacob’s transformation into a werewolf got closer and closer, he changed, and
he showed the threatening characteristics of an abuser. He grew and developed at an
astonishing rate. He was over six feet tall before I knew him for six month. Physically,
he towered over me. His involvement with the pack made Jacob dark and brooding; it
was like his anger or rage would break through, and part of him was angry at me—angry
at my choice to care for Edward and the Cullens. He spoke of them violently, calling
them disparaging names, insulting them any chance he got. Jacob lumped the Cullens in
with all vampires—all were to be hated and destroyed. So Jacob’s very nature, as a
werewolf, as a predator of vampires, meant that he was as seeped in violence as Edward.
He told me that the werewolves only existed to protect their people from vampires by
fighting and destroying them. Though werewolves killing Laurent and helping to kill
Victoria and her newborn army had certainly been to my benefit, Jacob was not subtle in
reminding me that he would also take pleasure in killing some of the Cullens, Edward in
particular. The threat of violence, why did it have such appeal? Jacob had saved me
from my personal abyss (after the Cullens left) and from Laurent. A girl in such
perpetual need of rescue shouldn’t try to stand on her own. She needed to be taken care
of, told what to do, controlled—for her own good. I fell into the traps, the bindings, too

easily. I couldn’t envision myself as powerful on my own—learned helplessness again. I
didn’t have agency over my own actions with Jacob either.

       There was more violence behind Jacob’s identity as a werewolf than just his
existence being predicated on killing vampires (both the bad and the good). There was
also the unstable nature of being a werewolf—the way they lost control when they
changed and how easily they could turn savage. I had seen it myself when Paul and
Jacob fought. There was also the fact that because Jacob had magic blood on both sides
of his family (through his mother’s grandfather and his father’s grandfather), he was a
“better” werewolf than most of the rest of the pack, better than all except perhaps Sam,
better at transforming and fighting, better at violence. I had seen the evidence of what
werewolves could do even to those they loved most through the disfiguring scars that ran
down the right side of Emily Young’s face, a gift Sam could never take back. I came to
understand the danger to myself whenever Jacob lost control of his emotions and began
to shake and vibrate next to me; this happened more often than I would like to
remember—but I couldn’t make myself stay away, run away, get away. I was trapped,
helplessly dependent.

       Although the werewolves mostly ate as human beings, they also could and did eat
as wolves. The knowledge of that reality of stalking prey, chasing it, bringing it down by
mauling its throat, tearing it to pieces to eat it raw, was disturbing. Another not so subtle
reminder that Jacob was dangerous, violent—in ways more similar to Edward than Jacob
would want me to consider.

       Then there was the fact that Jacob didn’t understand his own strength. I guess
that he had developed so fast that he didn’t have a good gauge of it. Edward had the
advantage of having been a vampire for eighty years to understand his strength and to
learn how to control it, to appear more normal, more human. Though Jacob could be so
perceptive about me, my emotions, so careful to avoid mentioning the things that caused
me pain (like when the Cullens were gone and I couldn’t bear to hear their name
mentioned or Edward’s), he seemed oblivious to his physical strength compared to mine.

Jacob didn’t understand that he hurt me physically, but that doesn’t change the reality
that he hurt me. I should have seen it, objected to it, stopped the contact, but I didn’t.
Frequently, when he hugged me, he crushed me so tightly to his chest that I couldn’t
breathe, and I had to cry out for him to stop. Both times he kissed me (the first without
my permission), when I fought against him—he didn’t realize I was fighting at all. Both
times, he interpreted my attempts to hurt him, to get him off of me, as my passionate
reaction to his kisses. He had kissed me as a wolf too, before the newborn battle, licking
my face (again without my permission) and jumping out of the way to try and avoid my
striking hand, my automatic response to his violation of my personal space and person.
There was more too, hidden beneath the surface. I guessed that Jacob would have been
willing to totally disregard my will if he thought what I had chosen would hurt me. He
would act in my best interests, of course, but he would ignore my agency over my own
life, my right to self-determination.

        And Jacob lied to me too. Of course, being a werewolf there were secrets that
Jacob couldn’t tell me because Sam had commanded him not to, but there were other
things that he lied to me about or kept from me. Though he promised to sell my
motorcycle after he betrayed me to my father, he stubbornly refused to—hoping to use it
as one more lure for me to spend time with him. Then there was the motorcycle betrayal
itself. He promised never to tell Charlie, but he went back on that in an effort to keep me
from Edward, another ploy, another deception. He didn’t tell me he was second in
command in the pack. He hid from me his elaborate, long-range plans to turn me from
his friend to his girlfriend.

        Jacob didn’t stalk me with the same obsessiveness as Edward. He wasn’t in my
bedroom at night while I slept, but he told me right after he began transforming into a
werewolf that he had come at night and run circles around my house while I slept. He
watched over me—again without my permission and without Charlie’s.

        Jacob was also just as jealous of me if not more so than Edward. That night in the
tent before the battle with Victoria and the newborns, he mentioned his jealousy

repeatedly to Edward. But I knew before hand that the jealousy and anger ran deep. At
times when we were alone, Jacob would ask me how it was possible for me to be
attracted to Edward. He was relentless in reminding me that he was human and Edward
was not. It both pained and angered him that I continued to pick Edward over himself—
but the anger and jealousy were all too clear and threatening when they brought him to
convulsions and nearly transformed him into a werewolf in front of me. The outcome of
Jacob as a suddenly angry and transformed werewolf and my frail human body as a
nearly defenseless target was a terrifying image, and a real possibility on several

       The slave image that Jacob imagined for me was disturbing, but another image
was also troubling. In Jacob’s last attempt to manipulate me after the battle with the
newborns, he had made a Biblical reference to King Solomon and his judgment about the
women fighting over the baby. Each woman claimed the child as her own. In an effort to
find out which was the true mother, Solomon threatened to cut the child in half and give
half to each woman. The false mother was satisfied with Solomon’s solution, but the true
mother was horrified and renounced her claim on the child to spare its life. Through her
willingness to give up the child, Solomon was able to return the child to its true mother.
Jacob had described his actions toward me as like those of Solomon threatening to cut the
child in half—disfiguring and murdering the child. It was an image of extreme
violence—a grown man with a sword slicing a living, defenseless child in half—
mutilating and destroying it to satisfy the competing claims on it. Though Jacob said he
would give me up (just as the true mother had given her child up to spare it), wasn’t it
problematic to envision me in terms of the baby in the first place? Was he really willing
to mutilate me or worse in his efforts to gain possession of me? I was the defenseless
human in the contest between Edward and Jacob. My emotional or psychological abuse
was just collateral damage in the contest. Jacob had been willing to risk my physical
abuse as well. After he threatened suicide to make me kiss him (knowing that I was
engaged to Edward and thus assuming that Edward would be enraged that his fiancée had
been kissing another man), he had left me to face Edward alone hoping that Edward
would only verbally and not physically abuse me, though he wasn’t sure.

       Then, there was the fact that I got physically injured when I was around both
Edward and Jacob. I had gotten my head cut, ribs broken, hand bitten, leg broken, and
most of my body bruised as a result of being exposed to James, the vampire, on my first
official date with Edward. I had my arm cut open on a stack of glass plates and Jasper
trying to rip my throat out on my eighteenth birthday at the Cullens’ house. I had been
threatened by the Volturi that I needed to become a vampire or die. I nearly got attacked
by Laurent, and I was hunted by Victoria and her newborn vampire army—and all that
was in addition to Edward fighting his desire to drink my blood and kill me himself.
Being with Jacob wasn’t much better. As a young werewolf, he put me in danger of his
loosing control of himself and hurting me before he realized what he was doing
repeatedly. Before that with the motorcycles, I sustained at least two head injuries that
sent me to the hospital, and later, he was there as well for the Laurent, Victoria, and the
newborn army. In fact, in a year and a half if I had landed in the same hospital for all my
injuries (broken leg, broken ribs, cuts requiring stitches—twice to my head, once to my
hand, and once to my arm, a concussion, and broken fissures in my hand) would someone
have said something? Five trips to the ER in eighteen months (not counting the first trip
when Tyler’s van failed to crush me to death, the doctor’s care I was under after the
Cullens left Forks, or when I probably should have gone after cliff diving and nearly
drowning). Five trips is kind of a lot for a bookish, non-athletic girl. It’s a lot for any
seventeen-eighteen year old girl.

       How many times had they overpowered me, their supernatural strength dictating
my actions? Edward’s arms or hands had restrained me or pushed me away against my
will more times than I could count. In his iron grasp, I knew I could not do other than
what he allowed me to, so I almost always surrendered to his will. I even conceptualized
Edward’s grasp, his hold on me, in images of imprisonment and bondage (“iron chains”
and “cages”, “manacles,” “fetters”). Jacob didn’t have as many opportunities to
overpower me as Edward, but his arms and hands had held me just as powerless as I tried
to walk away from him or when he forced himself on me. It wasn’t the same as
physically hurting me, striking or hitting me, but in a profound way, the knowledge that I

was physically powerless against them, against their strength, made me feel helpless,
without agency of my own to resist them.

       For a lot of battered women, whether physically or psychologically battered, the
first incident of abuse is enough to get them to take action and get away from the abuser.
I should have walked away from Edward in Port Angeles when I knew he had stalked
me. I should have run from him when he told me about staying in my room through the
nights. I should have told Charlie; I should have gone home to my mother in
Jacksonville. The stalking combined with the mood swings and the subtle manipulations
should have told me. Now, here it was over a year later, and my trigger was the
manipulations of not just Edward but of Jacob too—their bet—their game for possession
of the helpless human girl.

       How was I going get away from them? Would they let me go? Edward told me
again and again that he would rather I choose to be away from him—that he would let me
go. Would he? Could he? What about Jacob? Jacob had never said that he would let
me go? He threatened to always be waiting for me—a different kind of stalking.

       Two cords threatened to strangle me or bind me, Edward’s and Jacob’s. Each was
powerful and carefully designed. The trick was finding a knife strong enough to sever
them. Freeing myself from the webs they had snared me in. I could cut the cords and
run; I would cut the cords and run. My new perspective was my weapon. They had
abused me, but I could and would free myself.

       I turned off the computer, and I got ready for bed unwillingly—not knowing if I
would be able to sleep with all the emotions and anguish I felt. Suddenly, I felt
completely drained, and I crawled into bed. I had been attacked by vampires and
championed by people I loved; it was hard to believe that all that had happened this
morning. The most painful and disturbing part of the day had been the last several
hours—of forcing myself to re-evaluate my relationships with Edward and Jacob and of

realizing that I had to leave them and never see them again. I was so staggeringly numb
and tired that I didn’t even realize it when I sunk into unconsciousness.


       I woke in the morning after a dreamless sleep. I remembered everything—
Victoria and her army, the Volturi, and the more painful realizations that Edward and
Jacob were monsters I needed to run away from. I cleaned myself up and got dressed.
Then I pulled out my duffle bag from under my bed and started packing. I went through
my drawers pulling out clothes that would be suitable for Florida. Although I took a few
sweaters and long pants and sweats, I left the bulk of the winter stuff behind. I retrieved
a few toiletries from the bathroom and packed my bathroom bag. I looked over my
books. I left the romances behind but packed Hamlet, A Doll’s House, The Awakening,
and Their Eyes Were Watching God. I realized that I need new stories. It didn’t take
long to fill the duffle bag. I took the CD out of my CD player and placed it in the case
Edward gave me in September, and I took the photographs from my scrapbook without
looking at them. I put these things together and placed them upside down in the bottom
drawer of my desk. I realized that I should probably have destroyed them—to set myself
free of their power, their lure—but I couldn’t imagine ever coming back to Forks again,
not with the two of them here, not after what I would do, not after what I would tell them.

       I turned on the computer and looked up flights from Seattle to Jacksonville.
Nothing went directly, of course. It would take anywhere from nearly nine hours to
twelve hours to get there. Perhaps I could get a red-eye and get to Jacksonville on
Monday morning. I would play it by ear. I grabbed my stash of money and put it into the
duffle bag.

       I made my bed and tidied up the room. I sat down on the bed and realized that I
was sobbing, crying, tears were running down my face. It hurt, but I was resigned. As I
wiped the tears away, I became conscious of the bracelet around my wrist. I sighed to
myself. I undid the clasp, and the bracelet slid off my wrist and onto my bed. I got up
and went downstairs to Charlie’s trove of household tools. I found a pair of needle-nose
pliers and grabbed two plastic zip lock sandwich bags. Back upstairs, I carefully
loosened the link that attached Edward’s heart-shaped diamond to Jacob’s graduation gift

to me. With the link loosened, I removed the diamond from the bracelet and pressed the
diamond’s link closed again. I put the diamond in one baggy; I didn’t want to loose it, so
it seemed better to have it in a larger container for the time being, until I needed to return
it. I put the bracelet with the wooden wolf charm in the other baggy (again temporarily).
My gifts needed to be returned. Mechanically, I returned the pliers to the drawer with the
rest of the tools.

          How did I do this? What did I tell Charlie? Charlie and Deputy Mark were
human. They were not enough as deterrents if it came down to a fight with a vampire or
a werewolf. I suddenly realized that I needed to see Sam; the presence of a werewolf,
may be two, would help. I also realized that I could ask Carlisle, Sam and Carlisle would
give equal representation to the two sides, and Carlisle always seemed to value my will in
making my own decisions. Carlisle had been willing to change me, when Edward
refused, but asking Carlisle would tip Edward off even further. I would have to wait until
after I told Edward to talk to Carlisle; Carlisle would be able to remind Edward that I had
the right to make my own decisions, even if my decisions were in opposition to what
Edward wanted.

          I walked out to my truck and got in. It roared to life, and I drove down to the
reservation. Having been to Emily and Sam’s house before, I found it easily. With Jacob
drugged and mending bones at home, I was not afraid of seeing him there which calmed
my nerves. I parked the truck on the street and walked quietly to the door. I knocked
awkwardly, but Emily smiled warmly at me when she saw me there. Emily and Sam
seemed to be alone enjoying the post-battle peace. Though they greeted me kindly, they
were obviously surprised by my visit, and suddenly, I didn’t know where to start or what
to say.

          I looked up hesitantly, “Sam, I need to ask you a favor; I need your help,” the
words came out in a rush.

       He looked at me thoughtfully and stood up, “Do you want to take a walk, Bella?”
he asked.

       “I—I don’t want to interrupt,” I stammered.

       Emily and Sam exchanged a look, but Emily nodded at Sam, and he said, “It’s not
a problem, Bella; let’s go,” and he walked to the door motioning for me to follow.

       “Thank you,” I blurted out and followed. Outside, Sam made an effort to walk
slowly, so I didn’t have to jog to keep up with his long powerful legs. He waited while I
collected my thoughts. “Here’s the thing, Sam. I have decided I need to leave Forks. I
have decided to go home to my mother, in Jacksonville. I haven’t told Edward or Jacob
yet, and I don’t know how they are going to take the news. I am a little scared about that
actually, and I was wondering, I was hoping that you might be willing to be there when I
told them.” It all came out in a blur, the words tumbling over themselves. I was not sure
a regular person would have understood, but Sam was a werewolf, and his hearing was
better than a regular person’s.

       “You think they would hurt you? You think that you will be in danger when you
tell them?” he asked incredulously.

       “I don’t know, Sam,” I moaned. “Before the battle, I loved them, I loved them
both as impossible as that seems. But they are fighting over me, and something about
that fighting has made me see them differently. I need to get away. I don’t trust myself
to stay away from them here, but I don’t trust them to let me go or to stay away from me
either. I might be wrong; I hope I am wrong about how they will react. But if I am not, I
want to be prepared. Charlie is only human; I am only human; if either Edward or Jacob
lost control …” I trailed off.

       Sam looked at me long and hard. He saw the pain in my eyes but also the fear
and concern. I knew that Sam of all people would know the dangers that an uncontrolled

werewolf could present to regular humans (Emily’s face was proof of that). “Okay,” he
said. “When do you want to do this?” he asked.

         “I will probably try to have Edward come over after lunch, about 1:00 PM. I
don’t know how long it will take. I don’t need you to be right there in the conversation,
but if you are there, Edward will know that his actions are limited in ways that Charlie,
Deputy Mark, and I can’t enforce. Since Jacob is still pretty injured, I guess we will need
to go to him as soon after Edward as possible. I am so sorry; I am going to ruin your
afternoon,” I added.

         “It’s okay, Bella,” he said. “Are you really sure about this?” he asked me,
concern and curiosity burning in his eyes.

         “Yes, I think I am, Sam; at least, I have to get away to figure it out. I can’t think
clearly here. You’ve seen Jacob’s mind; you know that he is manipulating me and trying
to control my actions. The extent of that control is just starting to make itself clear to
me—and Edward is doing the same thing. They are not treating me like a person who
can or should make up her own mind. I don’t want to be a play thing—they are hurting
me,” I said angrily.

         Sam nodded, “Jacob loves you,” he protested.

         “Not enough to treat me like an equal,” I retorted back.

         “I see your point of view, Bella. I will help you leave, and I will also try to keep
Jacob from coming after you. The choice to return or to see him again will be yours,” he

         I was right; he knew; he has seen the lies, the control, the manipulation. I fought
back the tears that threatened to stream down my face. I felt so grateful. Sam was saving
me again—not because he wanted to use my salvation to manipulate me and make me

feel helpless but because I was a person hurting, and as a protector, he had an obligation
to help those who needed help. All I could do was nod mutely in response. He seemed
to understand. I realized it was right to come to Sam. He had let me choose before; he
had respected my right to choose and be responsible for my own actions. Over spring
break when the Cullens were still away and Victoria threatened, I had hidden out on the
reservation, but not before Sam had asked me to choose, to make the decision to place
myself in the proximity of werewolves with both the protection and threat that they
posed. It was just Edward and Jacob who didn’t seem able to trust me to decide my own
fate. I realized that it was ironic that I was turning to Sam. I had seen him as the bad guy
when Jacob was on the verge of transformation and scared about joining Sam’s gang—
that turned out to be the pack, the reservation boys with their great-grandfathers’ magic
blood that would make them transform into werewolves to meet the threat the return of
the vampire Cullens created. Just when my life seemed to make sense, it spun around yet

         Sam put his huge hand on my shoulder and said, “I am sorry you are hurting,
Bella. Let’s get back. You can prepare yourself. I might bring Jared with me; two
werewolves would be more of a deterrent than one.”

         Then he walked me back to my truck. I was still fighting the tears, so I was quiet
on the way back. Suddenly, an idea struck me. “You—you won’t—won’t tell Jacob
before I do?” I whispered.

         “No,” he answered. “I will let you do that; it’s your decision and your news.
Take care of yourself, Bella.”

         “Thank you so much, Sam. I don’t know how to…” and I trailed off.

         He smiled sadly, “It’s okay, Bella; be well,” he said in farewell, and he turned and
walked toward the house where Emily waited for him.

       I drove home deep in thought. At home, I called my mother and told her I was
coming home. I kept it limited. I would explain it all when I got there. She was
overjoyed, but when she realized I meant I was coming home as soon as I could get there,
she became alarmed. She wanted an explanation, but I put her off. I didn’t know what
flight I would be able to get on, but I told her Charlie would call her with the information.
I tried to eat some lunch, but I just ate mechanically. I was too distracted by the anxiety I
felt and what I needed to do.

Escaping Edward

         It was time to call Edward. Charlie and Deputy Mark and Jared and Sam were
crowded around the TV watching a baseball game in the living room with plenty of
snacks and stuff so that they didn’t need to interrupt me in the kitchen. It was perhaps an
odd grouping, but they were handling it with good grace. I was packed. I had Edward’s
diamond in my jeans’ pocket.

         I picked up the phone and called his number. He answered immediately again.
“Hello, Edward, may I see you?” I asked quietly.

         “I’ll be right there, love,” he whispered.

         And he was; only a few minutes passed from me hanging up the receiver and his
gentle knock at the door. Tactfully, Charlie slightly increased the volume of the game—
not enough to be blaring and not enough so they couldn’t hear if the conversation got too
tense or heated, but enough so I could say what I needed privately—so long as the
conversation stayed cordial and I didn’t need help.

         Edward smiled at me as I opened the door, though his eyes were pained and full
of emotion I couldn’t read. He was as beautiful as ever, perhaps more so to me at that
moment because I knew I was leaving him. He didn’t seem surprised by the werewolves,
although he would have heard them or smelled them before he entered the house. He
nodded causally in their direction, and my father yelled a gruff hello over the game.

         We walked into the little kitchen and stood facing each other.

         “Bella,” he whispered, “I love you. You know that don’t you?” and he moved
close to me to encircle me in his arms, but I skirted away from him and sat down in one
of the kitchen chairs. His eyes widened, “Bella?” surprise and hurt were clear in his

       “I need to talk to you, Edward,” I whispered. I looked into his eyes, and then had
to look down at the table. The force of his eyes, his face, his lips—it was painful. You
have to do this, I told myself.

       He sat quietly in the chair next to me. He took my left hand, the one that had
worn his ring so recently, and held it in his. I could touch his hand; that was okay I told
myself. “Yes,” he prompted.

       I looked up into his magnificent face, and I blurted out the words, “I can’t marry
you, Edward. I am going home to Jacksonville, to my mother, and I need you to stay
away from me,” I said softly.

       He looked at me with agonized eyes. “I knew this day would come. I knew that
something would be too much and you would run from me. Was it my fight with
Victoria? Were you really scared of what you saw me do? I would never hurt you,
Bella? I love you. I love you so much; I can’t imagine my life without you. How can I
make it up to you?” he asked repentantly.

       “It isn’t about Victoria; it doesn’t have anything really to do with you being a
vampire,” I whispered.

       His face was confused, and then he glanced at the werewolves, “Have you chosen
Jacob?” his voice barely suppressed his anger and jealousy.

       “No, Edward; I am leaving both of you. I have realized that you both have lied to
me, manipulated me, and attempted to control me. In fact, some of your strategies I see
now as psychological abuse. I have loved you; I do love you. It is horribly painful to be
making this decision to leave you, but I don’t believe that you love me or you don’t love
me the way you should—the way a woman and a man who are about to be married
should love each other,” I said firmly.

       Shock flitted across his face and other emotions I was not sure how to read. He
struggled for control before he spoke. “You think I have been abusive,” he said
dismissively. “You think I don’t love you? What is the proper way for me to love you?”

       “Yes, you have been abusive,” I answered. “You have stalked me; you have
manipulated and controlled my actions; you have forced me to do what you want me to
do. You have never treated me like an equal—this is the critical part, Edward. You have
never respected my right for self-determination. If you don’t agree with my decisions,
you find ways to alter those decisions and make me do what you want me to. Until you
can respect me to make my own mistakes and be responsible for my own decisions, you
can’t really love me—or you love me in a way that I don’t want and cannot accept.”

       “But I have only tried to protect you, and you often enjoy the things I have you do
when we are doing them,” he added trying to defend himself.

       “Don’t you see, Edward; that’s wrong. You need to let me choose to go to the
prom or to spend the weekend in Florida when danger is in Forks or to marry you.
Forcing me to do things for my own good or because I might be happy with those
decisions after the fact, takes away my ability to make my own decisions, to have my
own agency. I can’t be with someone who can’t let me make my own decisions.”

       He could see that I was determined about this. His face went very white, and his
eyes burned with pain and regret. It hurt to look at him, to know that I was causing him
pain, but there was no other way that I could see. “I can change,” he offered.

       “I am not sure I can believe that, Edward,” I sighed.

       “I can’t lose you,” he pleaded. “Bella, give me a chance; let me try to change.”

       I shook my head slowly, and suddenly, he was pulling me up from my seat and
into his arms. I gasped. This was dangerous; I knew that instantly. Holding Edward’s
hand might be okay, and looking at him also, but more intimate physical contact could
weaken my resolve.

       “Edward,” I breathed, “please, don’t.” The tears leaked down my cheeks. “I care
about you so much, too much; it makes it so much more difficult,” I pleaded.

       “I’ll change you, anything you want, Bella, please” he said desperately.

       Again I shook my head. “Being changed into a vampire only meant something to
me if we were together, Edward, and even in that argument between us, what I wanted,
my choice, was always secondary to what you wanted, what you chose. Now, being
immortal is not what I choose because my future is separate from yours.”

       “But you are mine, Bella. You said you would marry me. I can’t be without you;
you complete me. I will do whatever it takes,” he said, still not releasing me.

       It was too much, his arms, his chest, his scent. I was so distracted, but I kept my
breathing even, and replied, “Edward, I am not a possession.” Why did men always want
to reduce women to objects, and I had fleeting thoughts of Nora Helmer and Edna
Pontiellier. “I am not something you can own and call yours. I wanted to be your
partner, your equal, and you have repeatedly denied me that through your cunning
designs and blatant manipulation. Sam and Jared are here for me, to help me leave.
Please let me go,” I demanded.

       He acknowledged my threat, by gently releasing me. His eyes suddenly sparkled
with anger, “Are they going to protect you from Jacob too?” he sneered.

       “Yes, Edward, actually they are. Sam can control Jacob more completely than he
can threaten you, as I am sure you will remember,” a replied coolly. As the leader of the

pack, Sam’s commands had to be followed; Jacob would have no choice if Sam ordered
him to do something.

       “I can’t let you go, Bella,” he threatened softly.

       “You have to, Edward. After I have talked to both you and Jacob, Charlie is
taking me to the police station, and I am filing restraining orders for both of you, and then
I am getting on an airplane to Jacksonville. I will also call Carlisle and explain the
situation to him. You always said that you would let me go—if that’s what I wanted.
Why are you fighting me now?” I asked.

       “I just can’t live without you. If you leave me, Bella, I will go back to the
Volturi. I swear I will,” he threatened.

       But I was prepared for that threat. “You went to the Volturi before because you
thought I was dead. I am not dead now, Edward. I am just choosing to be separate from
you. I will not be manipulated into staying with you. You have manipulated me far too
often for me to allow it any further. So you have no one but yourself to blame. If you
choose to kill yourself, you are killing yourself because of how you have treated me and
how that has finally alienated me from you.”

       “But the Volturi will come for you, Bella. We promised them that you would
become a vampire,” he was grasping desperately for some reason for me to stay with

       “I’ll take my chances. If my mind is shielded from what you and Aro and Jane
can do, I agree with you that it is probably just as shielded from Demetri’s tracking skills.
Away from you or others who Demetri can track, I should be fine.”

       “I’ll follow you,” he added darkly.

       “So will Sam and Jared as long as I need them too,” I countered.

       It was time. I had said all I needed to say. He understood. There was one last
thing to do. “Edward, I have your mother’s diamond to return to you,” I whispered
carefully, though I could hear the sadness under the surface of my voice. I reached into
my jeans’ pocket and pulled the sparkling heart out. I tried to place it in his hand, but he
pulled away.

       “I don’t want it back; it was a gift,” he said offended.

       “I can’t accept it now,” I answered. “Please take it.”

       He stubbornly refused, so I placed it on the kitchen table. I would have Charlie
return it to Alice. I sighed and took a steadying breath, “Sam,” I called softly, “I think
Edward is ready to leave.”

       Edward’s face flew up; there were anger and sorrow in his grief stricken face, “I
am not really. I can’t say the words,” he choked. His arms were suddenly around me
again, pressing me into his hard chest, his lips kissing my hair and inhaling my scent. My
resolve caved slightly. I looked up into his golden eyes and let my fingers trace over his
perfect face one last time. My tears were streaming down my cheeks now, and I started
to sob softly. Sam appeared silently at the kitchen doorway. He stood quietly—imposing
his presence but not joining us or interrupting us. Slowly, I pulled myself away, and
Edward, acknowledging the threat of Sam’s presence, released me.

       “Good-bye, Edward,” I murmured.

       “Won’t I ever see you again?” he asked, the pain clear in his voice.

        “I don’t think so. I need to heal myself first. But I don’t think I will give you
another chance to hurt me as badly as you have done, and I am not sure that I can ever
trust you to let me make my own decisions or to be completely truthful to me.”

        Even though Sam was right there, Edward was suddenly in front of me again. He
pressed his lips to my forehead and whispered, “I will love you forever,” and then kissed
my lips fiercely and pulled away before Sam could get worked up enough to intervene.
Then he was gone. The click of the door was the only evidence of his inhumanly fast
departure. I staggered to the kitchen counter and clutched it to steady myself. I felt dizzy
and sick. Could I do this? I thought Edward was the love of my life, my existence, and I
had sent him away. I had refused to marry him. I had ended it. I was crying and

        Sam gently put his hand on my shoulder. “Are you all right, Bella? I think you
were right, Bella. I don’t think he would have left if Jared and I weren’t here. He hasn’t
even really left. He is outside the house just inside the forest, waiting. I think Jared and I
will see you to the police station and then to the airport,” he added urgently.

        Charlie was in the kitchen doorway now. “Bella, are you all right? What do we
need to do now, kiddo?”

        “I am so sorry to impose on all of you,” I choked out between the tears. “I think I
need a little bit of time upstairs, to collect myself before I try to do this again.” I couldn’t
choke out the words “with Jacob.”

        Sam looked at Charlie and said, “We are fine, Bella. Take your time. We have
the game.”

        Charlie added, “We just want you to feel safe, baby.”

       I nodded and went upstairs. I lay down on the bed and cried for a while, but I
knew this had to be done. It was the only way, and half of it was over. If I could pull
myself together and tell Jacob next—all the hard part would be over. The police station
and the airport should be easy—or at least not emotionally painful. I controlled my
breathing and dried my eyes. I went into the bathroom and splashed water on my face. I
looked at myself in the mirror as I dried my face. I didn’t look particularly good, but I
had certainly looked worse, and something more, I looked resolved, calmly resolved. So
I went downstairs. We would drive over to see Jacob. Sam and Jared were to ride with
me, and Charlie and Deputy Mark would take dad’s cruiser.

Escaping Jacob

       I vacillated between murmuring apologies for taking up their day and my
gratitude most of the way to the reservation. Sam and Jared nodded at me occasionally,
but sat up very still on the bench seat of the truck, and I knew that they were listening and
smelling Edward following us. Suddenly, I was scared that Edward would cross the
treaty line, and I didn’t know what would happen then.

       “Sam, if he follows us all the way …” I couldn’t finish. My anxious eyes,
watched his face as he answered.

       “Bella, we don’t want a war. We have been through so much together and even
respect the Cullens at this point. I don’t think that either Edward or Jacob will take your
decisions easily. In fact, I can even expect their behavior to be irrational, and perhaps the
pack and the Cullens can overlook irrational behavior today on their parts—as long as it
doesn’t turn violent. The pack will respect your choices about your future and will
protect your ability to act on those choices. Neither Edward nor Jacob may agree with
that, but having seen into Jacob’s mind as a werewolf brother, I cannot deny that he has
attempted elaborate means to control and manipulate you. I cannot know Edward’s
mind, but I have certainly also seen, Jacob’s conviction that Edward has played you even
more adeptly than he has. My own exploits in love have had their fill of betrayal as I
believe you know, but I truly loved Leah and saw her as my partner, not my inferior;
that’s part of the reason it broke my heart to betray her so when I saw Emily. I didn’t
have a choice, Bella. I will help you protect your right to make your own choices. This
vampire/werewolf stuff has taken away a lot our choices at least for the Cullens and for
our tribe, but you can choose to walk away from this if that is what you want. We are
protectors not jailors, Bella. If Edward crosses the line, I will choose to ignore it for now.
But I may have Jared transform and call in more reinforcements for added deterrent
incentives,” he added gravely.

         I nodded and apologized again. As we pulled up to the Black house, Billy stuck
his head out the door with an obviously look of surprise. He recognized the roar of the
truck, of course, but he was even more surprised to see Sam and Jared in my truck with
me and Charlie in the cruiser with Deputy Mark.

         “What should I do?” I asked Sam. “Do we all go in? What do you think?”

         “Bella, Edward has crossed the line though he keeps a distance. I think he is only
listening to what happens here. Still, I would like Jared to transform and call in Quil and
Embry. I don’t think having Paul involved right now is a good idea.” Sam looked over
at Jared, and he nodded and got out of the truck and disappeared. “Let’s see if we can get
Billy, Charlie, and Mark talking on the porch, and I will come inside with you,” he

         “Yes, okay,” I said meekly.

         Sam and I walked toward my father and Deputy Mark. “Dad, could you and
Deputy Mark try and keep Billy on the porch talking baseball or fishing or something?
Sam will come into the house with me, and we’ll yell if we need any help, okay?” I

         “Bella, are you sure you don’t want us in there too?” Charlie asked with obvious
concern in his eyes.

         “Dad, Jacob is like family, and even though he will take this badly, I don’t really
believe that he will hurt me, and Sam will be with me in the house, and I promise that we
will raise our voices if things even begin to get uncomfortable. It will be okay,” I assured
him, at least I hoped. But I also knew that Sam could command Jacob to do whatever he
said—if it came to that.

       Charlie nodded and gave me a hug. “I am so sorry I didn’t protect you from this
better, Bella,” he said with obvious regret and guilt in his voice.

       “We are taking care of it now, Dad. It will be okay,” I assured him.

       The four of us walked to the house, and I could see that Billy didn’t miss the fact
that both Charlie and Deputy Mark wore their guns. Billy’s eyes shot to Sam’s face, and
Sam nodded slightly at Billy, and then said, “Bella needs to speak with Jacob again,
Billy, if that’s okay?”

       Billy nodded cautiously. Charlie started chatting about baseball, and Billy took
up the hint and chatted along—though he found it somewhat more difficult to hide his
surprise that Sam accompanied me into the house.

       Once in the familiar house, Sam sat himself on the coach and made himself
comfortable. I smiled weakly at him and braced myself for round two with Jacob. I
walked to his room and knocked lightly at the door. His answer showed his surprise at
the formality, and I pulled the door open tentatively. Delighted surprise flooded his face
as he saw me there. I struggled to figure out how he might be interpreting my
reappearance, and I gasped at the thought that he might think I had changed my mind and
had chosen him. This was going to be just as brutal as with Edward—and I had the
unpleasant knowledge that Edward was in the forest beyond the house listening to the
whole exchange.

       “Hey,” I said. “How do you feel? Any better?”

       “About the same, actually Bella, but it is damn good to see you! What brought
you?” he asked hopefully.

       “Actually, Jacob, I have been thinking a lot about me and my future,” I began.

       He struggled to sit up more, excitement and eagerness flashing across his face,
“Bella, I am perfect for you. We belong together. I could protect you; you could be
mine,” he exclaimed.

       I shook my head slowly. “No, Jacob, you don’t understand. I am leaving; I am
leaving Forks. I am moving to Florida with my mom,” I said softly.

       “What? What do you mean? I don’t understand,” he said, obviously confused but
also with a trace of anger.

       “I haven’t picked very healthy relationships, Jacob. I have decided that you were
right, Edward was manipulating me, controlling me, but I have also realized that you
were doing the exact same thing, manipulating me and controlling me. I am leaving to
get away from you both,” I replied.

       “I love you. I would never hurt you. Leave Edward, but stay with me, please,
Bella; I can make you happy; I can take care of you,” he pleaded.

       “You don’t get it, neither of you do; I don’t want to be taken care of! I want to be
your partner, someone you respect, someone who is your equal. I don’t want to be
protected. More than any of that, I don’t want to be manipulated and controlled. I loved
you. I loved you both—until yesterday—when I finally saw how you lied and created
your elaborate schemes to gain possession of me. I am an object of desire to you, to you
both, and I am done. Repeatedly I have told you how I felt and what I wanted and didn’t
want, and you have refused to listen to me. Because you have refused to listen to what I
want, you have no hold on me, not any more,” I said fiercely.

       Jacob looked stunned. “But I love you. Let me make it up to you, Bella, please.
You mean everything to me,” he pleaded.

       I shook my head again, “No, Jacob, I can’t. You have had all the chances I can
give. I can’t trust myself to stay here and not be sucked in by you and Edward and your
lies and games, and I can’t trust you, either of you, to abandon those games. We are just
in too deep—all of us—the only way for me to heal is to get away and start fresh, and I
am doing that. I am leaving tonight, and I am telling you that we are done, finished. You
can’t come to visit me, you can’t call me or write me or anything. After I leave here, I
am filing restraining orders on both you and Edward, and Charlie will make sure that the
Jacksonville police have that information to deter you from visiting me in Florida. You
have to stay away from me, Jacob. Please don’t hold on to the possibility that I will
change my mind. It could happen, but I really don’t see how. What I see now is that you
and Edward have hurt me terribly, you have abused me in your conquest of me and your
battle over me. I won’t let myself be hurt like that again.”

       “How have I been abusive?” he said with a sharp edge to his voice.

       “Lying to me, attempting to control and manipulate me, to shape my decisions for
me—these are all ways men psychologically abuse women. Look it up. It’s so textbook,
in fact, only the crazy way I have loved you made me refuse to see it,” I said.

       “I can change, Bella; give me a chance,” he pleaded.

       “No, remember at the movies that night with Mike Newton. You called me a doll,
a porcelain doll; that’s how you have always seen our relationship, even before you were
a werewolf, and now that you are, and I can never be your equal, your partner. You can’t
change, and I can’t become what you are even if I wanted to, and I don’t think I want to.
Being a werewolf with you wouldn’t undo the things that you have tried to force me to do
all this year, and now that I see the premeditation you have put into forcing my hand as
clearly as I do, I can’t go back to the way it was. I am sorry.”

       “But don’t you see, that’s why I never wanted it. I never wanted to be a werewolf
because I just wanted to be with you. When the change happened, I wouldn’t accept

Sam’s offer for the leadership, for the role of the Alpha, because as soon as I could, I
wanted to stop being a werewolf and be human for you, with you, so we could be equal.
That’s why I never told you I was second in command because I didn’t want it; I didn’t
want any of it,” he confessed.

       “Jacob, I don’t care if you’re a werewolf. That part doesn’t make you a monster.
What makes you a monster is the way you calculatingly used our friendship and my
feelings toward you to play me, to get me to do and act the way you wanted me to. You
saw me as a doll, a possession, a thing to be played with. I don’t want to be a possession
or possessed. I want a partnership, and neither you nor Edward has ever offered me that.
So I am leaving. I think we have said all that needs to be said. Is there anything else?”

       Jacob struggled on his bed. He looked like he was going to try to stand up—
though half the bones on the right side of his body were broken. Without thinking, I
moved toward him and used both my hands to press his good shoulder back onto his
pillows. “No, Jacob, don’t. You need to heal,” I said ardently.

       “Bella, I love you,” he murmured. “I can’t let you go. Now that I know you
aren’t marrying Edward, I have to do something.”

       “No, Jacob, it is too late. You both have lost me. This isn’t an invitation for you
to play harder. Really it was your game or your contest over me that finally made me see
that I have to leave here. It’s time for me to go,” I said softly.

       “No, Bella!”

       “There’s one more thing. I have your bracelet to return,” and I dug in my pocket
and pulled it out carefully. “I can’t keep it any more,” I said as carefully as I could.

       “I don’t want it back, Bella; I made it for you,” he said, the pain in his voice

       “I can’t keep it,” and I placed it gently on his dresser.

       “Bella, please.”

       “No, I can’t,” I answered firmly. “I returned Edward’s gift too,” I said because I
thought that it would mean more to him than my simply returning his gift. Apparently, I
was right from the resigned but not mutinous expression on his face. “Jacob, Sam is in
the other room. You can’t stop me, and you shouldn’t try,” I warned.

       “Sam,” Jacob yelled, “you can’t do this. You can’t go against a brother like this;
it’s wrong. It will destroy the pack.”

       Sam’s calm face was suddenly at the door. “Jacob, a brother cannot stand against
the mate of a brother’s imprinting, and though you love Bella, you have not imprinted on
her; she is not your imprinted mate; she has a right to her free will, and she has asked me
to defend her free will against both you and Edward Cullen. It is time for her to go. I
know that you are angry at me, but we will deal with that after she has gone. Quil and
Embry are outside the house to make sure you stay put, and they can call in
reinforcements if needed. Heal, brother. I will see you tomorrow.” Then, Sam looked at
me and said, “It is time to go, Bella.”

       I nodded and turned back to Jacob, “Good-bye.” He reached out his hand, and I
squeezed it. I could see tears leaking out of his eyes, but I forced myself to turn and walk
out of the room, following Sam.

       Jared, in human form, was talking casually with Billy, Charlie, and Deputy Mark.
When Sam and I walked onto the porch, Billy said goodnight and re-entered the house.
We reconfirmed the police station as our destination and got into our vehicles, Sam and
Jared with me in my truck and Charlie and Deputy Mark in the cruiser. Sam pushed me
into the middle of the truck’s bench seat and drove the truck. Again both Sam and Jared

were hyper attentive as we drove. Though tears streamed down my cheeks and I sobbed
for a short time, I felt relieved. Once the wave of emotion had crashed over me, I paid
more attention to Sam and Jared.

       “Is Edward still out there?” I asked in a hushed voice.

       “Yes, he follows us,” Sam answered.

       Suddenly, we heard it. The forest was full of the anguished howl of a wolf. Jacob
had transformed into a werewolf to cry out in pain. The tears started streaming again
now; it wasn’t supposed to be safe for him to transform for a week or more; would his
transformation make it necessary for his bones to be re-broken again? But he wanted me
to know; he had to turn the knife one more time—“you hurt me, so I will let you know
that you hurt me and that it hurt me to let you know.”

       “Sam?” I asked automatically.

       “Quil and Embry are there; they’ll take care of it or call for others,” he answered
though his voice was thick with worry.

       I resigned myself to not being able to know anything else. To trusting that it
would be okay, and on we drove. My thoughts drifted to Janie Crawford, in Their Eyes
Were Watching God. Janie had loved Tea Cake; he had been her true partner in life; they
run off together to start a new life in a place where they could be on equal footing, first
Jacksonville and then “de muck” of the Everglades; in their very first encounter described
in the novel, Tea Cake teaches her to play checkers; something no one else had bothered
to do and that establishes his desire for her as an equal whether playing checkers or
driving. He also taught her to shoot, and they worked side by side picking beans. Of
course, Tea Cake wasn’t without his flaws (lying to her, taking her money, and hitting her
once), but what he strove for most of the time was her happiness and their partnership as
equals. Then the hurricane came, and Tea Cake was bitten by the rabid dog, and he

became rabid himself. Out of his mind, he came at her with a gun, and she defended
herself with their rifle. She was forced to kill him to save herself. She destroyed the
monster that wasn’t the Tea Cake she loved. I had hurt them, the men I loved, but I
hadn’t killed them. Edward and Jacob were alive, I comforted myself. I couldn’t destroy
the monsters they had become, and I didn’t mean the vampire or the werewolf, I meant
the monsters that preyed upon women like me, and Little Red and Ophelia. Only they
could change themselves, and I had enough to deal with recovering from what they’d
done to me.

       The station was as normal as ever. Sam parked across from the station while
Charlie and Deputy Mark pulled the cruiser into the reserved parking. We filed solemnly
into the station. Deputy Steve nodded as we entered. Charlie led the way back to his
office, let us in, and then shut the door. There was a sofa against the far wall, and Sam
and Jared crossed to it and sat down. Charlie walked behind his desk and motioned to me
and Deputy Mark indicating two of the chairs in front of his desk. It was quiet, and
though I knew I needed to do this, I was a little afraid. I was afraid of Charlie’s reaction;
part of me was also afraid that I’d blown it all out of proportion, and no one would see
the things I told them as abusive at all.

       “Bella, what we can do is make Domestic Violence reports in reference to the
behaviors of Edward and Jacob. These would be two separate reports. Making the
reports is the first step. Then, the questions come about how to proceed from there. Do
you want to press charges against these boys?” Deputy Mark asked.

       “No, I don’t think I do. I want there to be a public record of what happened, in
case they won’t let me alone. But if they do leave me alone, it doesn’t need to go further.
I don’t want to come back here to go through a hearing or anything like that.”

       Deputy Mark, nodded. “We should request Protection from Abuse orders; they
are sometimes know as PFAs; they are like restraining orders only a bit more
comprehensive. The Domestic Violence reports will document what has happened, and

the Protection from Abuse orders will mean that if either of them violates those orders,
criminal charges can be made, but only if they violate the terms of the orders. I want you
to consider this seriously. Protection from Abuse orders are court orders. Even if you
change your mind, the court orders do not cease to be effect without formal court action.
Most times, the victims of abuse do not have any change of heart, so the Protection from
Abuse orders are enforced to everyone’s satisfaction. But there are times when a victim
is under the protection of a PFA, but she decides to see the former boyfriend/husband. It
doesn’t matter that she invites him over or wants to see him, the orders mandate
enforcement, so the boyfriend/husband is charged by the police. Do you understand?” he
said looking at me gravely.

       “Yes, Deputy Mark, I understand. The Protection from Abuse orders are just
what I think I need. I don’t want them to get in trouble if they leave me alone, but if they
try to see me again, I want someone to be able to intervene.”

       Deputy Mark continued, “The Chief and I will look into reciprocity between
Washington and Florida on the orders, so what is filed here in Washington may be able to
protect you in Florida, and Charlie and I can contact the Jacksonville police, so they
know what is going on. If we can’t establish reciprocity, you will need to file separate
orders in Jasksonville. Protection from Abuse orders would protect you from acts that
could be considered violent, threatening, harassing, and/or sexual. Typically, Protection
from Abuse orders protect you from personal contact with the abuser and prohibit all
contact between the abuser to you. That would mean that we would request that Edward
and Jacob must not come within one hundred and fifty feet of you, that they are not
allowed within one hundred and fifty feet of your residence, school, or place of
employment, and that they cannot call you, e-mail you, make Facebook, MySpace, or any
other contact with you.”

       I listened carefully as Deputy Mark spoke, “I want to go through this carefully
with you; we need to document the different incidents. Charges that are put under
domestic crimes include murder, negligent homicide, justifiable homicide, kidnapping,

sexual assault, rape, robbery, assault, battery, child abuse, property destruction,
harassment, reckless endangerment, and stalking. I think we can rule out some but please
correct me if I am assuming too much. Can we rule out murder, homicide, and child

       “Yes,” I said firmly. “You can also eliminate robbery and property destruction.”
Edward had taken my things—but they were things he or his family had given me and my
photographs of him—but he had returned them to me. I had left them behind this time. It
seemed a small thing to bring up, so I didn’t. There were more pressing issues.

       “Sexual assault or rape?” he asked, and I noticed the color drain from Charlie’s
face, but Deputy Mark ignored him.

       “Well, Jacob forced me to kiss him on two occasions, but I wouldn’t call that
sexual assault.” I did think of the first time as an assault, and the second time was under
a threat, but what I wanted to document were the acts of psychological manipulation and
the threats of physical violence whether conscious or unconsciously made by Edward and
Jacob. “No, neither one have sexually assaulted or raped me,” I said more quietly.

       “Since what is called Simple Obsessional Stalking can include following or
shadowing a person, appearing at a person’s home, and surveillance, I think that should
be included on our Domestic Violence Report for Edward from what your father has told
me. Can you give me specific incidents?” he asked.

       “Well,” I began hesitantly, Charlie wasn’t going to like hearing this especially
since I would be more explicit this time, “It began last year around the spring dance. The
first thing I knew about was that Edward followed me to Port Angeles. I didn’t know at
the time, but I ran into him there, and he later confessed to having followed me.” I was
withholding the information about the four men who nearly assaulted me and who
Edward had driven away from me, but this wasn’t about them. It was about Edward, and
it was weird that he had followed me, wasn’t it? I glanced at my father, and his rigid

expression told me that, yes, it was creepy that Edward had followed me; the idea of it
made my father furious.

       “Later,” I continued, “I found out that he had been watching me in my bedroom.”
I braced for my father’s reaction to the next part; “in fact, I found out that he came into
our house, that he spent time in my bedroom when dad and I didn’t know.”

       “What?” my father shrieked. “Bella, he broke into our house and was in your
bedroom! When did you find out about this? Why didn’t you tell me?” Charlie
demanded, his face turned a frightening shade of purple and contorted with fury. “How
did he get in?”

       “I told you he watched me, Dad. He saw where we keep the spare key. He saw
me use it to get in the house,” I said softly. This wasn’t completely accurate, of course,
but I thought it was better than trying to explain Edward was a vampire who could jump
through my bedroom window.

       “Easy, Chief,” Deputy Mark said calmly. “Go on, Bella. How often?” he urged.

       “I am not completely sure,” I answered. “He started watching me last March, as I
said, and has watched me with some regularity since then (except for when he and his
family were in Los Angeles).” I didn’t need to be too specific. The details about him
actually being in my bedroom while I slept might give dad a heart attack. And from their
reactions the ideas that Edward had been watching my bedroom and secretly coming into
the house occasionally seemed bad enough to both Charlie and Deputy Mark.

       “Wow,” Deputy Mark said. “The entering the house part ratchets this up from
Obsessional Stalking to Breaking and Entering, Harassment, and Assault. Even if there
wasn’t physical contact—the idea that he had access to your home, your room, your most
private things—makes the act threatening. It’s home invasion.”

       “Did Edward ever kidnap you or hold you against your will, Bella?” Deputy Mark
continued. My father looked a little staggered by the idea. Edward had kidnapped me on
occasion or had Alice do it, but I didn’t know how to bring that up without revealing
more than I wanted to. I would let that go, so I shook my head.

       “Did he ever physically hurt you or make displays of violent behavior that you
interpreted as threatening?”

       To displays of violent behavior, the answer was yes—all the time. Even when he
was saving me in Port Angeles, or from James, or Victoria, the threat of violence was
always there. “He didn’t ever hit me or anything, but he was very strong, and I saw him
break things or destroy them when he was angry. I saw him in a couple of fights, and he
won; he annihilated his opponents. I always knew that he could hurt me if he wanted to.”
I hoped they wouldn’t pursue the idea of Edward annihilating opponents, but they seemed
to be taking my words metaphorically instead of literally.

       “Are there specific incidents?” he pushed.

       “Sure, the day of the spring dance, last year, I saw Edward break something rather
dramatically.” I would skip over James and Phoenix—that seemed to hard to explain
without talking about vampires and his family being there too. “After I went with Alice
to Los Angeles to get Edward, he got mad and smashed up some thing to vent his anger.
And yesterday at the brawl, he was terrifying; I was scared.” It was true, I had been
scared. I had been scared that he would be hurt by Victoria and Riley, but the bottom line
was that I was under threat in the first place because I was with Edward.

       Charlie was tense, but in better control now than he had been before. He clearly
didn’t like the idea of Edward being threatening to me, but it was better than the idea of
him being in my room. “Can that be considered Simple Battery? But there is no physical
contact—to Bella anyway. What about Disorderly Conduct since the acts unreasonably

alarm or disturb another person? Or Reckless Endangerment, anything that could place
her in substantial risk of physical injury or death?”

       “Yeah, throw in both; I’m good with adding both,” Charlie answered sourly.
Charlie would agree to add any charge on at this point.

       “Anything else, Bella?” Deputy Mark asked.

       It seemed like a long list: Obsessional Stalking, Breaking and Entering,
Harassment, Assault, Disorderly Conduct, and Reckless Endangerment. “I know that we
are focusing on the physical aspects of the abuse, but so much more of it was
psychological. In both cases. They lied and manipulated me. They ignored my ability to
make my own decisions. They forced things on me. It is this part, the psychological
damage that I have to get away from. Do you understand?” I asked.

       “I do, Bella, but it is harder to document the psychological stuff. I think it is very
important for you to work on documenting that for yourself, but as police officers, we
have to have concrete infractions and evidence of those infractions before we can act, and
physical contact provides better evidence than psychological games—that can be more
devastating, no doubt, but that are also open to more interpretation and distortion. We
have quite a list on Edward. Everything on the Domestic Violence report can be used to
call for the Protection from Abuse order; so that is Edward taken care of. We should
move on to Jacob now,” said Deputy Mark.

       “Reckless Endangerment definitely goes on Jacob’s documents—between the
motorcycle and getting her to think of cliff diving as a recreational activity—I could beat
that boy,” said Charlie menacingly.

       “Alright, Chief,” said Deputy Mark placatingly. “Murder, homicide, child abuse,
we can count those off?” he questioned.

       “Yes, and things like stalking, property destruction, robbery, and kidnapping,
too,” I added. Although I suddenly wasn’t as sure about the kidnapping thing. He had
kidnapped me from the Cullens’ protection, but I had gone willingly enough.

       “Did Jacob ever physically hurt you or make displays of violent behavior that you
interpreted as threatening?” he asked.

       “Jacob grew so fast,” I began, “he didn’t realize his own strength. Some times he
hurt me without meaning to. He would also get angry and appear menacing. He had
more difficulty controlling his anger when he got going than Edward. I saw him break
things when he was angry, and I also saw what he did to people when he fought them.
Jacob could be terrifying as well. When he was angry, when he was not in control, I felt

       Charlie looked highly uncomfortable. This was Billy’s son we were talking
about. Documenting Jacob as abusive was hard for him, but he seemed determined.
“Assault, Simply Battery? He physically hurt you?” Deputy Mark inquired.

       I remembered the crushing hugs where I couldn’t breathe. I remembered using all
my strength to push him away from me and not being able to stop him when he force
himself on me. I remembered the frenzied shaking when Jacob was upset that could have
left me as scared as Emily or worse. I nodded, “Yes, he hurt me a couple of times. I
don’t think he meant to, but it hurt. I can’t deny that. The threat of violence was also
always there. He was jealous of Edward and much more vocal about that jealousy than
Edward was. He made repeated reference to the idea of killing Edward. So I guess over
spring break this year there were a couple of times when I was hurt or felt threatened in
his presence, and there was yesterday at the brawl again. There is also all the
psychological crap that Jacob did, the lying and manipulation,” I added. Just like
Edward; I had a talent for attracting seriously twisted men.

         “I think we can add Harassment and Disorderly Conduct, what do you think,
Chief?” Deputy Mark asked.

         Charlie nodded. He looked pained, but I knew he cared about me more than Billy
or Jacob. After all, if Jacob actually left me alone, none of this would need to go any
further. Jacob’s transgressions amounted to Reckless Endangerment, Assault, Simple
Battery, Harassment, and Disorderly Conduct. “Okay, same deal, Bella; this information
goes on both the Domestic Violence report and backs up the need for the Protection from
Abuse order for Jacob. You’ll need to sign some forms for us, but we can handle the
rest.” Deputy Mark gathered the papers he had been writing on and left the office.

         We were done. It was done. I had done everything I could to make my wishes
known. I had told them, and I had documented the abuse. Charlie and the police,
whether in Washington or in Florida, had what he and they needed to protect me legally.
It was time to go. More important than that was knowing that what Edward and Jacob
had done to me was truly considered abuse by law enforcement. I wasn’t over-reacting
or blowing things out of proportion. I was a victim who needed protection, and I was
doing the right things to protect myself.

         That the Cullens could attract and deflect police attention made me wonder if my
attempts at protecting myself through Domestic Violence reports and Protection from
Abuse orders would work. It wasn’t enough to tell Edward. I had to tell Carlisle too.
They probably already knew through Alice’s visions—or knew enough—knew to know
that suddenly my future and Edward’s future followed separate paths. Now the Cullens’
actions toward me would not be about trying to incorporate me into their family and
shielding their identities as vampires—I would be out of the picture, and they would have
only their identities to preserve which would mean they would work to keep Edward
contained. I asked Deputy Mark to call the hospital for Carlisle’s telephone number. It
turned out that Carlisle was actually at the hospital, so Deputy Mark handed me the

       “Hello, Carlisle,” I said hesitantly.

       “Yes, Bella?” he answered in his sweet, musical voice.

       The words came out in a rush, “I have decided to leave Forks, Carlisle. I don’t
know how much Alice has told you, but I have spoken with Edward and told him my
decisions. I am not going to marry him, and I have asked him to leave me alone. I have
made it as official as I can and that means police documents; Charlie is handling that
now. But I am afraid that Edward might not leave me alone, so I wanted you to know. I
have grown to love you and your family very much, so it is hard for me to say good-bye
to you all. However, I see now that Edward has been hurting me and refusing to respect
my decisions, and I have to get away from him,” I said.

       “I’m sorry that you feel so threatened, Bella. I believe that Edward loves you
very much; it will be very difficult for him, but I respect your decision to make your own
choices. If this is what you choose, I will do what I can to honor that decision. We all
will, but we will miss you terribly. You know we all think of you as part of our family;
we love you, child,” he said softly. “Take care of yourself, Bella,” he added.

       The tears were flowing down my cheeks, as I choked out a response, “I love you
too, Carlisle. I will miss you all so. Tell them—especially Alice. Good-bye,” I said and
hung up the phone. It was worse than I imagined. I would loose them all: Carlisle,
Esme, Rosalie, Emmett, Alice, and Jasper, in addition to Edward. The loss sent grief
crashing through my system, and yet, I thought of the smugness on Edward’s glorious
face when all his scheming had finally brought about the decision he wanted me to make,
when I had agreed to marry him. His face had been arrogantly triumphant. The
arrogance of that look fueled a sense of rage in me. He was always playing me, always.
What I wanted was never enough. I steeled myself and wiped the tears from face.

       Charlie looked me with genuine sorrow and regret on his face. “I am so sorry,
Bella. I didn’t know, and I didn’t ask enough questions. I didn’t pay enough attention. I

feel like I have failed you. Letting you get so hurt by both of these boys. What a horrible
father I am,” he said harshly.

       I smiled a weak smile and looked at him. “Dad, I lied to you. I kept things
hidden. A lot of the blame goes to me. I just got so wrapped up in the fairy tale qualities
of my relationships that I didn’t see them for what they were. But I woke up. I am not a
princess after all, and though the draw of the princess identity has shocking appeal, I
realize that I just want to be myself and truly responsible for myself. I can get myself out
of Forks and these relationships with a little help. I think it will be okay, I’ll be okay. I
just need some time. I will keep in touch, and I will tell you more, okay?”

       “Promise me, Bella? I don’t think I can take it if I found out that I had let you
down again.”

       “I promise, Dad,” and I hugged him. I loved my father, and I had so consistently
lied and hidden things from him that it was easy to forgive him for his own failings.

       In my truck, by noting the postures of Sam and Jared, I knew that at least Edward
followed us to the airport. He didn’t show himself, but I felt his presence. Though Jacob
had transformed, I thought his injuries were such that he was still home suffering through
transforming back into a human—but I couldn’t be sure. The idea of them running
through the forest and hounding my flight was oppressive. The evening darkness did
nothing to lighten the suffocating feeling that there were watchful eyes and invisible
pursuers out there following me. The sooner we were at the airport surrounded by lots of
people, the safer and freer I would feel.

       The freeway opened up to the airport which sparkled and shone, lit up by millions
of electric lights. I thought I had never seen anything so inviting and welcoming in my
life. Sam and Jared both seemed a little more relaxed at the airport, or perhaps the
competing smells distracted them from their tension. Charlie, Deputy Mark, Sam, Jared,
and I moved through the airport with ease. The soonest flight left in an hour and

connected through Chicago. I would arrive in Jacksonville at about seven in the morning,
a ten hour journey. Charlie bought me something to drink, and we walked to the gate.
We chatted randomly, and I promised to call and update Charlie when I could. Soon the
flight was boarding. I hugged everyone good-bye and said thank you. I was so grateful
to Sam and Jared, and I think they really understood how I felt. Both wished me well and
luck in my new life.

       I got on the plane feeling many conflicting feelings: relief at putting things
behind me, anxiety about the future, sorrow for the loss of what I had seen as wonderful
relationships that were now exposed for horror stories, and hope in seeing my mother and
the sun and a new beginning. I was so absorbed in my own thoughts that I didn’t really
pay attention to the other passengers or much of what was going on around me. It had
been an emotionally exhausting day, so I put my head back and closed my eyes. It
surprised me when the plane began to taxi into position on the runway, and I sat up to
look through the window. I froze. Edward was there on the runway. He wasn’t doing
anything that would expose him as a vampire. He stood off to the side of the terminal
building looking at me with anguished eyes and his arms reaching toward me. I couldn’t
breathe. He was stalking me again. I was suddenly scared that it wouldn’t end. That he
wouldn’t leave me alone. That I couldn’t get away from him. I couldn’t pull my eyes
away from his beautiful face, but mercifully the plane moved, and soon Edward was
behind me. The image of him standing there, pleading with me with his burning eyes and
arms cut at me—as deeply and as painfully as Jacob’s howl. They would make my flight
from them as difficult as possible. They would show their pain in their last gestures to
defeat my will, my choice to leave.

       Angrily, I dug through my bag for Hamlet. Ophelia had been crushed by the
monster men in her life. I needed a strong reminder about why I had to leave and about
why I couldn’t see them anymore (Edward and Jacob). Ophelia had been so played, and
she couldn’t see the web of lies they wove around her. I would be different. I would
disentangle myself from their lies and create a different life, a life where I chose what I
wanted to do and who I wanted to do it with (if I wanted company at all).

          What would it have been like for Ophelia if she suddenly saw it all differently. If
she realized that Hamlet was lying and manipulating those around him in his attempt to
expose Claudius for the murderer he was. After Hamlet’s insulting, confusing, and
frightening tirade ordering her to a nunnery, what if she had turned around and called him
on it? What if she said, “How dare you question my honor? How dare you twist things
around until they appear false? You don’t deserve me if you are going to treat me like
this? Who needs Denmark? I’m going to seek my fortune in Norway—maybe the Norse
treat women better.” What if she was able to walk away? It’s all in the agency. Ophelia,
fictional creation or representation of Renaissance English women, had little agency.

          Under the English law, women were always dependent on the men in their lives
without any legal status of their own. Thank heaven, for the Nineteenth Amendment and
the Women’s Movement. I am an entity under the law, and I have more opportunities
and protections than most women in any other culture on earth. I choose to start again on
my own. “Good-bye, Edward; good-bye, Jacob; stay away from me!” I thought to

Flying Home

       The journey was long, Seattle to Chicago and from Chicago to Jacksonville. The
connection through Chicago was a painful reminder of Edward, but my mind floated back
to Janie and Tea Cake and the other fictional women who kept wandering through my
thoughts these days—women escaping or attempting to escape the men in their lives who
abused them—women like me.

       I realized with sudden stabbing pain and regret that Edward could have taught me
to dance. I thought of Janie and Tea Cake again, and Tea Cake’s gentle guidance in
teaching Janie to shoot guns so that they were on equal footing in that skill (Janie even a
little better than Tea Cake by the end). Edward could have taught me. In a symbolic
way, it would have established a different kind of relationship between us. Of course, his
vampire grace and my extra-human clumsiness would have made it challenging, but he
never offered, and I didn’t realize I should have asked. At the prom, I danced with him
like a five year old with her father—my feet on his while he twirled me around. Real
dancing, the backward and forward movements, the give and take of the partners
responding to each other and the music, it seemed like a metaphor for a perfect
relationship between true partners. But Edward didn’t see me that way—would never see
me that way. He never offered to teach me to dance or to teach me anything, for that
matter. Sure, he helped me with school work, but that was different. And Jacob could
have taught me about motorcycles and the cars he loved so much, but he too never
invited me to do more than watch him performing skills or tasks that he was good at, and
I didn’t understand. Of course, he taught me to ride the bike, and that was a skill, but
taking apart an engine, fixing and rebuilding it were skills he never thought to share with
me or to invite me to engage in. If I could fix my own bike or my own truck, I wouldn’t
be dependent on him. Teaching me to ride the bike was fine; it was something we could
do together, but teaching me auto mechanics might make me independent; he couldn’t
have that. It was painful to make these realizations, but they confirmed for me that
leaving them was the right choice.

       Jacksonville is where I hope to find my peace, away from the monsters who
threaten me. Instead of throwing men at me, I hope my mother will allow me to lie under
Janie’s blooming pear tree and explore myself, my world, and my relation to that world.
The sun should help me cut through the fog and mist of my recent past, the distorted
images of the men in my life.

       My mother, Renee, was waiting for me at the airport. She was waiting for me at
the gate; her face was both eager and worried at the same time. She looked the same as
ever, medium length brown hair framed her beautiful face, and her crystal blue eyes
sparkled with tears and excitement. She hugged me and kissed by forehead.

       “Oh, Bella, I have missed you so. It is so good to see you and feel you. I am so
sorry you’re having a hard time, dear, but we’ll sort it out. We can take all the time we
need,” she said.

       “Thanks, Mom,” was about all I could choke out. Charlie had clearly told her
about the police reports as well as the flight information.

       She didn’t press me further. She took my free hand, and we walked through the
airport. When we got to the car, a light blue Prius, she began filling me in on all the
things going on in Jacksonville. What Phil, her husband, was up to. He was still
coaching little league and playing minor league ball. Kindergarten was great and finished
for the summer. She had cleaned out her classroom and was working on her garden at
home and ideas for next year’s projects and a new reading list. She told me about the
neighbors; it was all small talk. I knew that she was burning with curiosity but that she
realized what I needed to talk about was so important and painful that she didn’t want our
conversation about it to be either distracted by traffic or rushed. The little yellow house
in Jacksonville was just as charming as I remembered it from by trip earlier with Edward.
It had a little porch and three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the second floor.

       She showed me to my room and left me alone briefly to call Charlie and tell him
that I was safely in Jacksonville. Then, she returned and helped me with putting my
things away in the dresser, closet, and bathroom. It surprised me that many of the things
(things that seemed inappropriate for Washington weather) that I had not taken to Forks
but had left in Phoenix were in the dresser, closet, and even in the bathroom all ready. It
didn’t take very long, and again we chatted about light subjects. There was apparently a
whole range of colleges in the area in addition to Florida Community College at
Jacksonville and Saint Johns River Community College. She said that she had asked for
information from the community colleges but also from the University of North Florida,
Jacksonville University, Everest University, and Florida State College at Jacksonville—
but we could branch out from those if I wanted.

       By the time we had caught up and put my things away, it was lunchtime. Phil
was training, so mom and I had lunch alone. We fixed a big salad and made fresh ice tea.
After lunch, mom drove me around the neighborhood pointing out various stores and
other points of interest. It was hot and humid, so I was glad we had opted for the car
tour. We stopped at the grocery store to pick items that I hadn’t been able to bring with
me due to airport security. Having taken the red-eye from Seattle, I was a little tired by
the time we got home. Mom noticed and sent me up stairs to lie down before Phil came
home. I was tired, so I lay down and easily fell into a dreamless sleep for a few hours.

       I woke up refreshed. Phil was home by the time I came downstairs. He gave me
a big hug and asked about my flight and the day and then discretely left my mother and
me alone. Mom had thought tacos might be fun for dinner, so I joined her in the kitchen
to help with chopping vegetables and grating cheese. As she fried up hamburger, she
asked if I wanted to tell her about things. I hedged.

       “I do want to talk to you about Edward and Jacob and everything in Forks and
why I am here, but it is an involved story, and there are parts I still don’t understand. It’s
painful too. I thought that tomorrow we could go to the beach, and I could start to try and
tell you.” She looked at me with her piercing eyes. I realized that her eyes reminded me

of Jacob’s father’s eyes, Billy Black’s. Though I always emphasized the childlike in my
mother’s eyes, there was something else, something ancient and wise, something
powerful, something I hadn’t been able to recognize before.

       She smiled at me and came over to hug me and kiss my forehead again. “Sure,
Bella, I am just so sorry you are hurting,” she said.

       It was a pleasant day and evening. I recounted stuff about my friends in Forks
(not about the supernatural people) and about graduation and Charlie over dinner. It was
good to see Phil; he seemed the same, light sandy hair and happy, deep blue eyes. Still
young, but obviously smitten with my mother. They were easy to be around; it was a
natural closeness that didn’t make me uncomfortable and seemed fairly reciprocated
between the two of them—something my relationships, of course, had completely lacked.

       After dinner, I looked through my mother’s books and grabbed a collection of
Emily Dickinson’s poems and curled up in a chair. My mother also read. Phil spent
some time organizing sports equipment in the garage. I excused myself after a while and
headed up to bed. “The Soul selects her own Society” struck me in particular:

       The Soul selects her own Society—
       Then—shuts the Door—
       To her divine Majority—
       Present no more—

       Unmoved—she notes the Chariots—pausing—
       At her low Gate—
       Unmoved—an Emperor be kneeling
       Upon her Mat—

       I’ve known her—from an ample nation—
       Choose One—
       Then—close the Valves of her attention—
       Like Stone—

“The Soul selects her own Society” as I will select mine, I mused. I will be unmoved by
the lures of seemingly divine or at least supernatural distractions though they pose as

princes or saviors. Only in my own society can I find the completeness that I seek, and at
perhaps a later time, with a partner who accepts me for who I am and what I am and who
doesn’t attempt to manipulate my actions or motivations, with an equal and honest
partner, perhaps I could seek closeness again. But that was something that I couldn’t
imagine being ready for at the moment.

       In my new room which was cheery and bright, decorated in golden yellows that
reminded me of the golden sun and bountiful harvests, I drifted off to sleep thinking
about my power to select my own society. Who were the people that I would seek to
surround myself with? I envisioned myself in a classroom and wandering a campus full
of fresh new faces—some who were familiar with college life and some, like me, who
were new but eager for a new beginning, a new start, new possibilities. It was a hopeful
vision, an empowered vision, a vision of freedom and release. The dream began to shift.
There were ache and longing. They pulled me back to what I knew—the unhealthy, the
abusive. I saw Edward and Jacob. I ached for them. I saw myself trying not to walk
back to them—each with his arms outstretched to encircle me in his arms, to imprison
me. Though I wanted to go to them, to both of them, my mother’s voice called to me,
“Bella, Bella, where are you?” “I cannot be with you, either of you!” I screamed, and I
turned and ran toward my mother’s voice. The sun and the ocean and my mother came
into view. I was safe. I lay on the beach next to my mother in the sun. The warmth of
the sun and my mother’s love washed over me, and my sleep became blissful and deep.

       When I woke in the morning, the room was filled with bright sun shine. In the
golden room, it seemed to intensify. It was such a different gold than in Edward’s room
where the colors were golden brown but not bright, not warm, not reminiscent of the sun.
I felt rested. I got up and groomed myself. I looked at myself in the mirror of the
bathroom vanity. It was comforting to see that though I looked pained and stressed, I did
not look like the zombie I knew that I once was when Edward had left me and I had been
devastated by that loss. This time, I had chosen the separation. I had ended my
relationships with Edward and Jacob and gotten them to agree to leave me alone. It had
been painful, more than painful, almost unendurable. But I had done it.

       Teeth brushed, hair brushed, and dressed in a T-shirt and shorts—finally, and I
went down stairs to start the day. Phil was already gone, but mom was waiting for me.

       “What do you want for breakfast, baby?” she asked. “Or do you want to go out?”

       “I don’t want to go out,” I answered. “But I don’t know what I want either. Have
you had something? What do you want?” I asked.

       “I have some fresh strawberries. What do you think about strawberries and ice
cream for breakfast?” she asked smiling.

       “That sounds excellent!” I laughed in reply.

       So she pulled strawberries out of the refrigerator and started washing and culling
them. In no time, we both sat perched at the kitchen table with bowls of strawberries and
ice cream. It was silly and luxurious—but it was so mom. How I had missed this.

       After we finished, the time was only about 9:00 AM. “What next?” she asked.
“What do you feel like doing today?’

       “The beach,” I suggested. “Why don’t we play it by ear? We can start there and
see what else we feel like.”

       “Do you have a bathing suit?” she asked.

       “I didn’t have one in Forks,” I said; “did you bring some from Phoenix?”

       “Go look and see if anything fits; we can always shop before the beach if you
don’t like what you find,” she replied slyly.

       I bounded up the stairs. In a drawer with my underwear and bras, there were also
a range of my old bathing suits and couple new ones with the tags still on. I didn’t feel
ready for a bikini, so I chose the new, one-piece, tie-dyed, bathing suit and threw the T-
short and shorts back on over top.

       When I made it down stairs, mom was packing a cooler bag with water bottles
and snacks. She had her hair pulled back and a bathing suit and cover up on. Another
bag was overflowing with towels and sunscreen with a few novels thrown on top. Before
we left, we slathered ourselves with sunscreen. Being so pale, I was very careful to cover
myself completely—afraid of what the Florida sun might do me after a winter and spring
of Washington cloud cover.

       We drove to the beach. It didn’t take long. Since it was Tuesday, the beach was
pretty much deserted at 9:30 AM except for fishermen and shell collectors and avid
exercise enthusiasts. We spread out a blanket and sat watching the ocean for a long
while. I was sitting up on at the left edge of the blanket, my legs spread in front of me.
With my left hand, I traced patterns in the sand.

       Finally, I took a deep breath and began. “Remember when Edward and I came to
visit you earlier this year? Remember how you felt there was something you were
missing about our relationship? About how you sensed that we were so intense about
each other?”

       “Yes,” my mother answered encouragingly. Her eyes were full of concern and
warmth. She turned to sit with her back to the ocean, so she could see my face and hear
me better.

       “Well, you were more right than you knew,” I continued. “I fell madly and
insanely in love with Edward, and the intensity of that love blinded me to certain aspects
of our relationship. He lied to me and manipulated me. He was controlling and
psychologically abusive. I made excuses for his behavior. I rationalized it. He made me

feel that our love was so special and unique that I couldn’t bear for that romantic image
to be shattered. I felt dependent on him; I felt safe only around him, and I distanced
myself from you and my other friends.” I paused.

        My mother’s face was full of alarm. “What did Charlie do about this? Didn’t he
notice,” she accused.

        “That’s just it, Mom; I sort of hid it from Charlie and from everyone, really.
From my other friends, even from myself,” I said. “I just think I was so wrapped up in
the situation, that I couldn’t see it very clearly; I couldn’t be objective; I was too
involved,” I struggled to explain. “It is only in the last two days that I’ve forced myself
to see my relationships differently.”

        “Relationships?” my mother asked. She caught the plural and looked at me

        “Yes, relationships. You know that when Edward left earlier this year that I
started spending a lot of time with Jacob Black. It seems that I moved from one
unhealthy relationship to another. Jacob is another problem, and he seems just as bad for
me as Edward. I had to get out of Forks; I had to get away from both of them. I don’t
trust myself enough to be so close to them—to avoid them as I need to do. And I don’t
trust them to stay away from me, to let me be and heal. Florida is good, a safe distance. I
don’t know if its safe enough, but it is better than Forks,” I explained.

        “But what about your father in all this?” she asked again. “What was Charlie
doing about this?”

        “I told dad yesterday, and I had him there when I explained things to Edward and
then Jacob. Charlie feels badly. He didn’t see, and I kept things from him. You know he
is not the most emotionally open person in the world. He tried to give me a sex talk this
year—well, let’s just say it was excruciating. Between what I didn’t tell Charlie about,

what I lied to him about, and what he didn’t ask about, a lot stuff happened that shouldn’t
have,” I confessed. “Did dad tell you about the Domestic Abuse reports and the
Protection from Abuse orders I made at the police station?’ I asked.

       “Yes,” my mother answered. “He told me yesterday. I’m so sorry, honey. Do
you want to be specific, Bella? What did they do to you? What made you see things
differently? How can I help?” she asked.

       “When I think about it, Mom, there were so many little things. Edward hid things
from me from the beginning of our relationship, and the hidden things and the lies he
told, I realize now, got me to do things or chose things that he wanted me to do. He was
behind us coming to see you this year. He even got me to agree to marry him,” I added.

       My mother’s eyes widened, “You were going to marry him? Bella, you are so
young, and he was hurting you?” she shuddered as she said the last words.

       “Yes, I agreed to marry him, but that is over now. I can see that I was never his
partner or equal, and that knowledge makes me adamantly determined to have him out of
my life. To leave him behind, and to move on,” I said with conviction.

       “And Jacob?” mom asked quietly.

       “Yeah, it’s a bit of a love triangle—as melodramatic as that may sound. When
Edward left, I started hanging out with Jacob. For me, it was just a friendship, but Jacob
always wanted it to be more. As you remember, I was pretty devastated when the
Cullens left Forks, so I wasn’t the best judge of character about my relationship with
Jacob, but it clearly followed a similar unhealthy pattern. He lied to me and manipulated
me. I felt dependent on him, and he used that to make me feel helpless without him.
Well, then Edward and the Cullens came back, and even though I got back together with
Edward, I still had an uneasy relationship with Jacob,” I explained.

         I sighed and looked at my mother. She still seemed confused. She didn’t
understand where this was going, so I continued. “Saturday, I realized that I loved both
of them. I loved Edward more, and I agreed to marry him. But what I also realized was
that they were fighting over me. They had been fighting over me all year. That although
they may have loved me at some point, their battle over me was more engaging to them
than I was. And I finally could see some of the scheming and conniving behind their
actions and guess at the extent of more of their plans. It felt sickening. I felt so used and
betrayed. I realized that they were monsters and that they were hurting me, and I knew I
had to get away,” I confessed quietly.

         “Oh, Bella, baby. I am so sorry. What do you want to do now?” she asked.

         “I don’t know exactly, Mom,” I answered. “I want to be in the sun, and I want
some time to just be by myself. I think I would like to see a therapist for a while. I think
it is important that I have realized I was in abusive relationships and that I have found a
way out of those relationships, but I am very concerned that when I tried to leave one
abusive relationship (Edward) that I walked straight into another one (Jacob). This seems
to be a disturbing pattern for me, and I am anxious to learn good strategies to avoid
repeating an attraction for abuse.” I sighed and continued. “I miss them. I still love
them, so it is painful to be alone, but the pain is muted by the knowledge of what they
have tried to do to me. So I am angry at them and at myself for allowing them to do this
to me. I don’t know. I feel like I want time alone, and then again, I am afraid to have too
much time alone. I think I need to find a job here, and to think about registering for
classes in the fall. I don’t know where I want to go to school, but I should meet new
people and have productive outlets for my time and attention. Taking some classes and
working should help me move forward and keep me occupied in productive ways,” I

         “Yes, sweetie, I think taking classes in the fall is a good idea. Do you have any
idea what you want to do with your life? What kind of job are you interested in? I have
seen a therapist myself on occasion,” she said rolling her eyes and laughing at herself,

“but it might be better for you to see someone specializing in abuse. I will ask around,”
she promised more earnestly.

       I didn’t really have anything else to say. The sun was so warm and soothing on
my skin. I lifted my face toward the sun and let it bask my face. Inside my head, my
thoughts raced and wandered. I missed them so. Edward and his perfect face, his
musical voice, and his sweet scent. I missed the idea of our love being the fairy tale that
he shaped it into, but so much had been a creation to entrap me. He was a monster; I had
to leave him behind. Jacob, my friend and unexpected other love. His wide, happy
smile, but that was gone too. I knew too well the designs he had create to “win” me.
How could they both be monsters? Horrible ache and longing welled up in me followed
by anger. Tears streamed from my eyes and spilled over my cheeks. My breathing
became irregular gasping. My mother moved to my side and put her arms around me,
and I cried in her arms. She patted my back and tried to sooth me, but she didn’t stop me.
She just let me cry. Eventually, the rhythmic lapping of the waves and the cries of the
gulls pulled me from the pain that I felt.

       “How are you?” my mother asked scrutinizing my face.

       “Not so great, really,” I answered wiping the last of the tears from my face.

       “Bella,” my mother said, “I know that I have joked with you and called you
middle aged, but I would like to talk to you about that. You are a very mature and
earnest child. You have always been. You are very responsible, and you take on much
responsibility. That has been good for us because I can be so irresponsible at times, but
you are still a very young woman, eighteen. High school is finished now, but college and
a professional life wait for you in the future. And more. Physically/biologically you are
an adult woman, but between eighteen and your mid-twenties, you have emotional and
psychological growth to do,” she hesitated, and I looked at her quizzically.

       She continued a little awkwardly, “I just don’t want you to rush into anything. I
want you take your time. The idea of you considering marriage at eighteen just makes
me anxious; you have a considerable amount of psychological maturation ahead of you. I
didn’t realize that at nineteen when I married your father and had you shortly after. I
thought of myself as grown, but I really didn’t feel fully self-aware until I was in my mid-
twenties. It is hard to explain. In my teens and early twenties, I was still self-conscious
and unsure of myself, and then in my mid-to-late twenties, it was different somehow. I
was more confident, more secure. Again its hard to explain, but I feel like I really came
to know and understand myself in my mid-twenties. It was a change I didn’t expect, but
it really changed my perspective on who I was. It will happen to you too. If I may
suggest something?” she looked at me cautiously, and I nodded in encouragement. “You
might find Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice an interesting read, and Women’s Ways
of Knowing by Mary Field Belenky and crew is also really eye-opening. Just think about
it, okay?” and she flashed me an apologetic smile.

       “I will think about it, Mom,” I answered. I was slightly amused with the idea of
my mother offering me advice about maturity, but Carol Gilligan’s name rang a bell, and
I was looking for new reading materials anyway. It couldn’t hurt anyway. Suddenly, I
remembered Rosalie Cullen chiding me about being too young to know what I wanted
out of life. She was right. I wanted Edward so badly, but I hadn’t thought past that to
how I would spend the rest of my life and what I would do with my future. The Cullen
kids were frozen in a twisted Neverland where they never grew up and perpetually played
out the age range of perhaps a ten year span, but probably less, seven to eight years (16-
24). Only Carlisle contributed meaningful to the communities they lived in; the rest just
played the masquerade. I wanted more from my life. Perhaps Peter Pan was the wrong
analogy. Was Edward like Alice’s white rabbit, an impossible creature shrouded in
fantasy and illusion who I followed into a wonderland where children transformed into
animals and fiery crimson women or Volturi royalty threatened to execute anyone who
annoyed them and the rules of normal society were turned upside down into a chaos of
strange competitions and judgments? Like Alice, I finally saw the trial for the sham it

was, and Edward and Jacob became not playing cards but men who sought to keep me in
their separate illusions, and it was time to wake up and leave wonderland behind.

       My mother interrupted my jumbled train of thought. “Do you want to take a
walk?” she asked on a lighter note than her previous comments.

       “Sure.” I pulled myself up. We left our stuff there on the blanket and walked
down to the water’s edge and started to walk up the beach. There were more people on
the beach now, so it was easy to look at them and be distracted. It was good to move too,
to feel the sand and water underneath my feet.

       As we walked, I thought about many things. What was I going to do now? I
needed a routine—a job, maybe a class or something. My mother was taking a yoga
class; why not? It might be fun. I needed to look at the local colleges and their course
offerings. What did I want to do with my life—now that I wanted to stay human?
Considering that I couldn’t stand the smell of blood, anything medical was probably out.
That really didn’t narrow it down too much. My mother was a teacher. Could I want
something like that? I didn’t know. What I did know was that I was irritated that so
much emphasis was placed on impossible or unequal romance stories, and suddenly I had
a burning desire to make sure adolescents knew other stories, so they could make smarter
choices for themselves and see different options. I needed to read more broadly too. I
needed to visit the local library. As we returned to our blanket, I realized it had been a
good morning and a good walk. I had some direction, some problems to sort out that
would occupy my mind and keep me busy. It was near noon, so we packed up and
headed home for lunch. Even with 50 SPF sunscreen, I wasn’t sure it was wise to risk
my skin with too much more sun exposure.

       We had a simple lunch of yogurt and more strawberries with apples and pears too.
My mother made some calls to previous therapists. Betsy Solomon came highly
recommended for adolescent abuse cases, and my mother scheduled an appointment for
me with her.

       My mother explained where the local library was, and I set off with a piece of
mail addressed to me in Jacksonville (as proof of residency) and some vague ideas about
the kinds of books I was interested in exploring. Zora Neale Hurston had me thinking
about Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged
Bird Sings, books about women who under the most demoralizing circumstances find
ways to re-invent themselves and find strength in themselves. At the library, I was
pleasantly surprised to find that they were looking for part-time help for which I applied

       I was delighted to find out that I got the job at the library. My schedule would be
3-9 PM Monday, Wednesday, Friday, which would accommodate morning classes or
Tuesday/Thursday classes in the fall. The days fell into an easy rhythm between work
and mornings with my mother and time at the beach. Though the longings for Edward
and Jacob remained, I felt good. It was true that I broke down and cried at times, but I
knew that I was better off without them. I imagined myself without them, and that vision
of me free and surviving on my own drove me forward.

A New Beginning

       When I woke up in the morning, in my bright cheery room with the sunlight
flooding through the windows, I was excited. I was meeting with the therapist today, and
I felt good about this next step.

       Mom was waiting downstairs. There was coffee and toast and orange juice sitting
out for me. “Good morning, honey. How are you?” she asked.

       “I’m fine, Mom, thanks,” I answered.

       “How did you sleep?” she asked.

       “Okay,” I replied suspiciously, “why?” My dreams lately were conflicted.
Edward and Jacob appeared and beckoned to me, some times more convincingly than at
other times, some times separately, and some times together. It was always painful to
realize that I was dreaming about them and missing them, longing for them. But then the
dreams would shift and I would see them victimizing women, Little Red, Ophelia, Nora
Helmer, Edna Pontillier, Janie Crawford, myself. I often woke up gasping, feeling like I
had just escaped, run a great distance to get a way, or broken through suffocating waters.
I didn’t cry out or scream; I had gotten away, the terror, the monsters, were behind me.
Had I made more noise than normal?

       “You just seemed a little restless, and I was wondering if you were nervous about
today, with Dr. Solomon?” she said quietly.

       “I am actually really looking forward to talking to Dr. Solomon, so that is not
making me uneasy at all. There is still a lot of baggage, Mom. My dreams aren’t exactly
fairy tale material these days,” I confessed.

       “I understand, sweetie,” she answered. “So Dr. Solomon at 10:30, and then I
thought we could check out Jacksonville University and grab some lunch there before
you need to go to work. We’ve seen the community colleges, and we can go to North
Florida University next week. What do you think?”

       “I think it sounds great, Mom, really,” I added.

       I didn’t really know how to prepare to meet Dr. Solomon. I knew that I had
questions. I knew that I would want suggestions and strategies to follow—so I figured
that I needed a pen and a notebook just in case I needed to write things down. I knew
that I would need to tell her about Edward and Jacob—not everything. Telling her that I
had a love triangle with a vampire and a werewolf would probably get me
institutionalized and on very strong medication. But there was enough that I could tell
her, enough that was unhealthy, controlling, manipulative, and abusive. I just needed to
be careful to keep the supernatural out of my stories.

       Suddenly, it was time. Mom drove me over. Dr. Solomon had an office in her
home’s converted garage. Mom parked the car and walked me into the office. Dr.
Solomon greeted us both warmly and shook our hands. She insisted on being called
Betsy. She looked about fifty-five years old with steel gray hair about shoulder length
and large glasses magnifying her dark brown eyes. Mom made herself comfortable in the
waiting room, and I followed Betsy into a cozy little room with squashy armchairs and a
love seat and a desk in the corner. The room was decorated in yellow, aqua blue, and a
light green. I was calming and pleasant. Betsy beckoned me to take a chair, and she sat
in one opposite pulling a notebook to her lap.

       “Hello, Bella, as you know, I am Betsy Solomon, and I believe that you have had
problems with some boys you know and would like to talk to me about that. Do I
understand correctly?” she asked.

       “Yes, Betsy. I – I’m not sure how to begin,” I said haltingly.

       “Why don’t you tell me about them, each one, and then explain why you think the
relationships were bad,” she encouraged.

       So I began. I told her about moving to Forks and the Cullens and my fascination
and crazy love for Edward. I told her about his lies and manipulation, about the stalking,
and the anger, about my feelings of dependence and helplessness. I told her about how
Edward had gone away, and how I had started seeing Jacob. I told her about how my
relationship with Jacob also was characterized by lies, manipulation, and anger. I
explained how Edward had come back, and how I had gone back to him, and the contest
between Edward and Jacob over me, and I told her how finally, suddenly, I saw the
relationships differently; I saw them as abusive instead of how they wanted me to see
them. And I told her how once I saw them that way, I knew I needed to get away, to
leave, to free myself of them. I cried occasionally while telling the stories, and she deftly
produced a box of tissues any time I needed it. She took notes as I spoke. She listened
and occasionally prompted me to clarify a point before moving on with my story. I
wasn’t really sure how long I talked to her. She seemed in no hurry, and I wasn’t
concerned about the time though I was sure I had been there more than an hour. When I
seemed to have talked myself through the whole story, as much of it was I was ready to
tell right then, she was ready to speak.

       “Bella, I think you have been through an enormous ordeal, and I think you are
right to see the strategies that these boys/men have used against you as abusive. I would
like you to come to see me regularly for a while so we can sort through the complexities
of these relationships, and I also would like to give you some homework. I would like
you to keep a journal, actually two journals. In your journals, I want you to write about
the ways you were treated by Edward and Jacob and how and why you can see those
behaviors now as abuse. I also want you to write about ways that you see yourself as
worthy and to imagine ways that you could stand up for yourself. I will ask you to
alternate between the journals. So this week you will write in the first journal about both
topics and then leave that journal with me next time I see you, and while I read and

respond (if that’s what you want me to do), you will write in the second journal, and we
will alternate journals weekly. If you want, I can make suggestions or comments about
your entries. But I don’t have to. So I want you to think about that and let me know next
week if you want me to respond to what you write. If you do want me to respond, you
will need to leave me space between your entries in which I can write my comments. If
writing about yourself is challenging, you may write about female characters from fiction
or films (about seeing worth in them and how they stand up for themselves). Do you like
to read, Bella? What kinds of books capture your attention?” she inquired.

         “I do like to read, quite a bit actually. Lately, I have been too engrossed with
impossible romances it seems, but I am trying to branch out. I have been looking at
Henrik Ibsen, Kate Chopin, and Zora Neale Hurston lately—at alternative ways that
women define themselves and find meaning in their lives,” I explained.

         “Excellent,” Betsy says. “If you wouldn’t mind one more assignment, I think you
might enjoy or find interesting Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. It is not a happy
book, but a significant part of the book talks about the conflict between identities forced
on Iranian women and their struggles to create and imagine alternative identities for
themselves, identities of empowerment and self-determination, and I think those are some
of the themes you may be looking for in Ibsen, Chopin, and Hurston. I am quiet familiar
with the Nafisi book, so we could discuss how it might relate or not relate to you if you

         “I like that idea. I have been wondering what to read next,” I add smiling slightly.

         “I would also like you to attend a support group once a week for women who
have experienced abuse; I can give you the names and contact information for several in
this area; it is important to know that you are not alone and that there are resources and
strategies for women who have faced abusive situations so that they can move past them
and have normal and fulfilling lives. I would also like to know if you have been in

contact with police in Forks about the abuse from Edward and Jacob. Have you?” she

         “Yes, I have. I made Domestic Violence reports on both Edward and Jacob, and
my father was going to use those to get Protection from Abuse orders from the court,” I
replied quietly. “I wanted to give them incentives to leave me alone.”

         “I think that you should inform the police here in Jacksonville as well and check
on the status of the PFAs here in Florida. You are at the most risk when trying to truly
free yourself from abusive partners. They both know you are here, and the paper trail
should be firmly established just in case.” She read the alarm in my face and added,
“Hopefully, it won’t come to that, but we should take the precautions that we can,” she
said gently.

         She continued, “You have told me the overview of what has happened to you
today. In other sessions, we will focus on specific incidents of abuse and on strategies for
avoiding abusive relationships and of finding and maintaining healthy relationships. I
think that you are an amazingly courageous young woman, and I look forward to working
with you over the next few months. What questions can I answer for you?” she

         I looked at her deep brown eyes, and the concern and sincerity in them, but I
didn’t really have any questions. The journals seemed reasonable to me as did the
support group. I needed to meet new people anyway; contacting the police I could also
understand, and I looked forward to the book. We would be hashing through it, my
relationships with monsters, and I would get strategies for more healthy relationships. I
shook my head, “No, Betsy, I don’t have questions for now. The journals sound good
and so does the support group and talking to the police—I understand the needs. I am
also very interested in broadening my reading base. I need help, and you seem willing to
give that to me. The test will be in a couple of months—how much I feel that I have

gained, how much I have moved on past my pain, how much more confident I feel about
myself and my choices. It will take time, and I can wait and see for now,” I said.

          She smiled at me. “I am sure you will have questions before the month is out, but
you are right that this isn’t a quick fix and that it may take a while. I do hope in a couple
of months that you do see changes and progress. If you don’t, you should absolutely be
asking questions if not more,” she said. “Friday at 10:30 AM is a good time, then?” she
asked. I nodded in response. “Bella, the most important thing is to see yourself as
empowered over your own life and your own decisions. You are a bright, pretty,
independent woman—who has been brutalized—but who can move beyond that. You
can’t imagine yourself as an ugly duckling needing to transform into a swan or whatever
fantasies Edward and Jacob wished for you. You need to imagine yourself and see
yourself as the best possible person independent of the opinions of others and especially
independent of people who try to shape you into their fantasies. The great heroines of
myth and fairy tale always find the power to transform their circumstances and their lives
within—they always had the power, the strength, and the beauty to conquer evil, they just
had to realize those qualities in themselves. We will work on this, okay?” she said

          “Yes,” I nodded, the tears welled up in my eyes but didn’t spill over. “Thank you
for seeing me, Betsy.”

          She stood up and crossed to the desk where she took several business cards from a
drawer. She handed them to me and said, “These have the contact information for three
local support groups. You can pick one or you can try all three and see which one you
prefer.” She looked into my face and smiled again. As I stood up to leave, she gave me a

          I had known gapping holes in my chest from the loss of Edward and Jacob. There
were wounds there now, but they were dull. I saw them now as self-inflicted wounds that
I needed to recover from—that I could recover from. Betsy’s words and concern made

me feel that I could do that. I could heal. And that was the end of my first therapy
session. It felt good. It felt good to talk it all through with someone other than my family
members. It felt good to have my experiences confirmed as abuse. It felt good to be
doing something proactive to heal or protect myself (the journals, the support group, the
police, the unfamiliar—were clearly parts of that, so all were welcome). Mom was
waiting, and we walked quietly to the car.

       “Well, what did you think?” she asked.

       “I think it was a good start, Mom. It will take time, you know that,” I added. I
didn’t really want to talk about the therapy session, and I had already told her the outlines
of my relationships with Edward and Jacob, so there wasn’t much else to discuss. “She
seems nice, and I think it will help,” I concluded.

       Mom nodded, and we drove to Jacksonville University to take a peek and get
something to eat for lunch.

       As we drove home from JU, my mother, the kindergarten teacher, who had been
doing research on fairy tales, told me a version of “Little Red Riding Hood” that I had
never heard before. It was an old French version—unedited by the Christian male biases
of folk tale collectors like Charles Perrault and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. In this
version, the mother sends Little Red to her grandmother with bread and wine, and she
journeys through the forest to deliver the goodies to her grandmother. Along the way,
she meets a werewolf who asks her which way she is going. She takes one path, and he
takes another. He beats her to her grandmother’s house, and he kills the old woman,
butchers her, and gets rid of her body. When Little Red arrives, he tells her to put the
goodies in the cupboard and take off her clothes and get in bed with him, disguised as her
grandmother. Little Red obeys. Once she is in bed with him, she goes through the
usual—“what big arms you have, what big eyes you have, what big teeth you have.” But
when the werewolf reveals that he is about to eat her, Little Red insists that she needs to
go to the bathroom. He tells her to do it in the bed, but she insists on doing it outside the

house. Begrudgingly, the werewolf ties a rope around Little Red’s foot and lets her go
outside. Once Little Red is outside, she quickly unties the rope and runs away home.
Though the werewolf soon realizes that Little Red has tricked him, he is not fast enough
to catch her before she is safely home, back at her mother’s house.

       While using needing to go to the bathroom was a crude ruse, I liked this version
of Little Red for obvious reasons. There were no male saviors, though there was a
predatory male monster stalking a young girl. There were a range of details about this
version that I liked. One was that Little Red was not condemned to die. Though
deceived by the monster, she was able to save herself, so she was not dependent on a
prince or a huntsman or some other male savior. Also she found the safety and sanctuary
that she needed in her mother’s house, and Little Red was complete in her own person—
she needed no mate or boyfriend or husband. How many tragedies involving gender
relations could be viewed through the lenses of the neglectful or absent father and the
abusing or controlling boyfriend/husband? Most women, Little Red Riding Hoods,
Ophelia, and Edna Pontellier, were victims of predatory male desires. However, at least
one Little Red, Nora, Janie, and I could escape the clutches of our demons and walk
forward to embrace a new day and a new future, complete in ourselves, strengthened by
bonds between women and the knowledge that women keep about being true to
themselves above all else. At the end of A Doll’s House, Torvald begs Nora for some
way for them to reconcile. She tells him that it would take a miracle—that they would
both have to change so completely that they could create together a “real wedlock”
instead of the lies, contrivances, deceptions that have been their marriage. It is the kind
of partnership of honest and respectful partners that Janie found with Tea Cake, that my
mother seems to have with Phil, the kind I never had with either Edward or Jacob—but
that I can perhaps find someday when I am ready, when I am healed.

       And so I move on by myself but buttressed by my mother and literature about
women who re-invent and empower themselves. I will try to find myself away from my
self-absorbed father and abusive ex-boyfriends. The thrill of the creation of myself as my
own heroine and superhero drives me forward and makes me smile at the challenge.


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