Oh sweetheart, our story may have been a tragedy;
but wasn't it worth it in the end?
I’d rather have died knowing that you were mine and I yours.
Knowing the feel of your skin against my own,
knowing the curve of your smile
and the sound of your voice,
knowing the way your body fit against mine
like it was designed for my touch.
Knowing the way you thought,
the way you breathed,
the way you lived,
the way you loved.
I’d have sooner endured a thousand deaths
and accosted the devil himself
with a smile upon my face and your name on my tongue,
than never have known you at all.
My dear, there is no sweeter pain than loving you.
EPOVI dropped the lifeless fawn, discontent at having found nothing else to feed from, and gazed out at my surroundings. The sun’s rays played over the mountains in the distance, alternately casting shadows and highlighting the golds and siennas as the foliage started its death march toward the gorgeous colors too varied to name. The contrast of the green larches and pines should have made for a striking vision, if only I could focus on something other than the woman that dominated my mind’s eye. I glanced down at the fawn once more; I missed my mountain lions, but stuck here in Alaska as I was, I would have to make do. I spotted a lynx when I first arrived, but there was no need to feed at the time. Since then I had only come across mountain goats that had a gamey taste, deer that were almost too cute to be considered food, and wolves.
I would walk through the pits of hell before killing a wolf to feed myself.
Bella was on the forefront of my consciousness in a constant display of my mistakes. I should never have succumbed to the sins of the flesh, but how could I deny my utterly sinful mate as she proffered such an encounter, much less on the anniversary of my human birth? My only regret was the punishment she had received, and the necessary distance we must now endure.
The woman had ensnared me from our very first meeting. I had never gotten so close to a shapeshifter before, as they smelled like rotting mutts that had recently returned from a month-long voyage out to sea without benefit of running water. But this one, this one was completely different. She smelled pleasant, like freesias. She was not frightened of me, and seemed to know exactly what I was, and accept me for who I am without a qualm. Nobody in the town of Forks or anywhere nearby knew of our existence, or we would have moved away again. We had to keep up pretenses.
Her frame was petite but strong, muscular and still feminine. Her legs were a mile long, slender and toned in the shorts she wore as the days grew hotter. Bottomless, expressive pools of whiskey framed by long lashes dominated her heart-shaped face. Her hair was burnt umber; shades of red moving fluidly in the chestnut tresses that swirled down like a living being to her waist. And that mouth simply drove me insane. Between the mobile way it formed around words, to the crazy things it spewed, I was hooked. Luscious lips, the bottom one full and constantly between her teeth, drove me to distraction. I was more than happy to oblige when she wanted to kiss, mostly because she was quite excellent at it, and also because of the feelings she evoked in me. More than simple lust, I was besotted. Love was tumbling headfirst down the cliff you merely wished to peer over the edge of, and finding yourself thankful for the ride. Loving Bella was like sprouting wings halfway down that cliff face, and learning how to fly at the exact moment you were positive you were going to crash into the earth.
Bella made me soar. I could only do what was in my power to allow her the same.
Still, my resolve was weakening. I had promised Carlisle I would stay away as instructed to avoid further complications with the Quileute tribe, but she was in Seattle now. She was fulfilling her dreams as I had wanted for her, but it was always my intention to remain at her side as she did. Bella was out from under the thumb of the tribe and their antiquated laws, so why should I stay so far from my mate? The physical pain had been enough to leave me breathless and shaking on my knees when Carlisle first ordered me to leave, so I could only imagine how Bella coped with enduring such agony. We had to remain separated while she was still living on the reservation to appease the wolves, but now things were different.
I would go, and I would see if she was happy. I would spy, though I loathed that word, and I would remember that Carlisle was wise in his years and return here to Alaska as I had been instructed. The lush forest land was lovely for the moment, but the winter was almost upon us, and I dreaded the endlessly blinding snow and never ending darkness.
I ignored the call from Alice, hoping that she would give me the chance to check on Bella without tattling to Carlisle that I was breaking the rules. I left in the night, though none of my vampire companions slept, of course. It was merely a matter of running to Seattle under the cloak of darkness that had me heading out at twilight. Canada would have been a blur as I streaked through it if not for my heightened vision, and I finally had to stop to avoid being seen in broad daylight. I spent the interminable time at the top of a tree, wishing I could see my mate sooner. Finally it was dark enough again, and at the speed that carried my feet effortlessly forward, it wasn't long before I came upon the Olympic Mountain Range. I slowed, hoping to catch a lion off guard for a morning snack.
I spotted one off in the distance and stalked it, moving downwind and crouching silently toward it. I pounced, and it screamed in surprise, growling as it swiped at my diamond skin. Nothing it could have done would have saved its life, and I ended it quickly so as not to drag out the suffering. There was so much satisfaction in the taste that I was more accustomed to as I buried my teeth in the buttery soft throat and drank.
I continued on my way without a spot on my clothing. Smoothing down the front of my shirt, I spotted the lights of Seattle as dawn broke and moved faster to my destination. I bided my time at a nearby park as I waited for a reasonable hour for the humans to be out of their dwellings. Thoughts and heartbeats slowly invaded my senses, and I tried to attune my ability to the static that was my Bella. I was positive her heartbeat called to me like a siren song, so I ran to the library on the college campus. I cursed internally when I saw the windows; they were not at all conducive to peering into when intending to spy on a person. I sighed, sitting on a bench and once more concentrating on the sound of her particular heartbeat.
She was accompanied by two others; their inner voices were feminine, echoing the words they spoke aloud. I focused on them, trying to catch a glimpse of my Bella in their thoughts. There! That one looked her way.
My long dead heart should have stuttered in my chest. Instead, I felt a clenching in the empty space, accompanied by a painful shudder that ran down my spine. Bella was not merely the most gorgeous woman I had ever had the pleasure of looking upon, she was radiant in her happiness. She laughed, and the sound pierced my gut. I wanted her, needed her in the most carnal ways I had ever heard or thought. I longed for the embrace of my mate. Soon, very soon.
My cell rang in my pocket, and I growled quietly but pulled it out to answer its shrill demand. “Yes, Alice?” I said tersely.
“I just wanted to warn you that the sun will shine in that spot in approximately thirty-seven seconds. You seemed lost in thought,” she replied quietly.
Mary Alice could very well have been my twin, so in tune to each other were we. I moved to a bench that was shaded by the building. “Thank you for the warning, sister.”
“I haven’t spoken to Carlisle, but you know you might as well go ahead and contact her.”
I did know, and I would do so very soon. “I understand, Mary Alice. I simply disagree with Carlisle’s need to keep us apart.”
“He will not risk the treaty or our family’s safety, not even for your happiness. I see you together again, as long as you follow Carlisle’s plan. Don’t give up hope, please.” Her musical voice was subdued; she knew the agony I was enduring.
“Would that you could be correct, Alice. I merely desire to witness her contentment fulfilled before I return to Denali. I understand that the others in that clan may have already spoken to Father, so do not prevaricate if he questions you. No need to drag yourself into a further mess.”
“I miss you, Edward,” she whispered on a sigh.
“I miss you, as well.” She and I worked in tandem on a whole other level, and to be deprived of that was an odd feeling.
“If I see anything else, I’ll let you know. But you must actually answer your phone!” she chastised.
I laughed a little. “Yes, ma'am. I truly appreciate your call, thank you, Alice.”
“No problem.” Alice hung up after we said goodbye, so I slipped my phone back in my pocket.
I tried to relax for a moment, looking around. There was a small handful of people walking around, most appearing to have a destination in mind. School was due to start in the next week, so I imagined they were buying textbooks and acquainting themselves with the campus. The library behind me was a tall, red brick building with towering spires reminiscent of a church in the gothic style. The trees surrounding me were somewhere between riotous colors and dead leaves, along with the ever present and ancient coniferous varieties that never changed. They were me, and I was them; tall and straight in stature, never bending or changing. Despite many years and seasons, they were the same as they had always been. Unless a natural phenomenon came into their plane of existence and changed everything.
Bella was a force of nature, I was positive in that. It was not impossible that the earthquake had birthed her, that she only came to be because of that crack in the earth’s core. She was only discovered after another earthquake, when those that massive did not typically occur in this area. Although she could shift into a wolf, she did not smell like one. She had admitted to having the ability to see the thoughts of the other pack members, like a movie reel played in her own head, and that the Alpha had the ability to give direct orders she was required to follow.
And yet, Bella was not like them. She felt no binding loyalty to the pack or the Quileutes in particular, but she was family to the Clearwaters. She felt an attachment to the elements, and the earth and the moon were living entities in her opinion. She had been told that a car accident had killed her parents, and yet they were never found. Neither had they found the car in which she purportedly was riding. She had no memory of coming to be with the wolves in the forest, just that it had always been so. It was true that Bella was remarkable, but there was something else about her that none of us could name.
It niggled the periphery of my brain, the vast vessel of knowledge that it was, and yet I could not grasp it. I felt the tentacles of erudition mocking me.
I sought out her heartbeat once more, the cadence grounding me. I glanced at the clouds that were once again hovering over the sun, and with a renewed sense of purpose I stood and strode away, determined to head back to Alaska to wait out my sentence, but also to find what I searched for so that I might be reunited with my mate. I would not allow our separation to last much longer.