Chapter 4: Nature
As I had expected, Bella demanded a meeting with my family shortly after our incident with the dog in the parking lot. Luckily, I had seen this coming (confirmed by Alice, of course), and had gotten to my family first. I had convinced them all that Bella’s change could not happen while she was in a state of panic. Giving up your mortality was not a decision to take lightly, and doing it because you are afraid is not the right decision. They agreed with me wholeheartedly, and I was grateful.
The meeting itself had gone quickly, each of my family members telling Bella why she didn’t need to worry, and making it clear that her change would not be made any sooner than planned. Jaspers waves of false calm and reassurance helped her give in easily.
Bella seemed particularly annoyed by my response to her inquires. When asked what I thought about her becoming a vampire sooner, I simply replied, “That’s between you and Carlisle. Of course, you know I’m willing to make it between you and me at any time that you wish. You know my condition.”
Bella was not very happy with my proposition of marriage before I would turn her into one of my kind instead of Carlisle. Although I understood her hesitation, I desperately wanted her to agree. I wanted to be able to share my life with her in all ways, to really be able to consider her mine, and me hers. I gladly would have given her anything, including giving in to her demands of myself being the one to change her, if she would agree. But she seemed to think marriage at such a young age was a horrible travesty, which was nonsensical when you considered she was trading her human life for that of a vampire in order to spend eternity with me anyway. But, of course, I wouldn’t push the issue of marriage with her. I wanted her to say yes on her own terms and in her own time.
The week went on uneventfully, and my family and I needed to plan a hunt for the weekend. Because of Victoria’s sudden return, none of us had properly fed in quite awhile, and we definitely needed to keep our strength up for when she returned. I was reluctant to leave Bella, even if it was a short period of time. I consulted with Alice, and she saw nothing out of the ordinary happening, but promised to stay and hunt around Forks, just in case Bella needed her, and to keep an eye on her. I offered to stay with Bella if she was at all uneasy with me leaving, but she had insisted, although I saw through her brave façade.
Leaving her was never easy, and I knew about the nightmares she had while I was away. She tried to act like it was no big deal, but I could see the fear and abandonment in her eyes whenever I would mention leaving. But, unfortunately for both of us, it was necessary for me to hunt regularly. So with her blessings, I snuck out her window long before she awoke that Saturday, leaving a note on her pillow:
I’ll be back so soon you won’t have time to miss me. Look after my heart – I’ve left it with you.
The actual hunting trip wasn’t as enjoyable as it usually tended to be. Even with the knowledge that Alice was watching over her, I worried about Bella. There was too much going on right now for me to feel at ease with leaving her.
We left Forks before sunrise. Jasper, Emmett, and myself piling into Emmett’s Jeep for some “brotherly bonding”, as Bella had called it. We were heading a few hours north (at least, a few hours when you’re traveling normal speeds) towards Canada, where there was an overpopulation of larger game in the mountain ranges. It was one of our favorite places to hunt, as each of us could have the meal of our choice.
We were only a few minutes out of Forks when Jasper spoke up from the backseat, obviously sensing my tension and apprehension. “Bella will be fine, Edward. Just relax. Have some faith in Alice.”
“I have faith in Alice,” I replied. “But that doesn’t make me worry any less. What if Victoria makes a split-second decision to go back to Forks? Or if that mutt finds out I’m not in town and decides to pay her a visit? I should be there protecting her.”
“If anything happens, Alice will see it and call,” Jasper said. “We won’t be extremely far away. You have nothing to worry about.”
With that, he sent a wave of calm over me. I glared back at him. “Sorry brother,” he shrugged. “But when you get anxious, I get anxious, and we’re supposed to be having fun, remember?”
“Yeah, lighten up, bro,” Emmett chimed in, slapping me on the back, his laughter booming in the enclosed space.
I sat silently back in my seat, my eyes closing, trying to let Jasper’s false sense of serenity calm my nerves. But even with his help, the underlying feeling of panic at being away from Bella could not be fully squelched.
We arrived at our destination in less than half the time it would take a normal human, thanks to Emmett’s extreme disregard of the speed limits. Out of all of us, Emmet was second only to Rosalie for love of speed. I decided that the next time Bella spoke of my “terrifying” driving, I would have Emmett take her on a joyride. She would never complain of riding with me again.
My brothers and I decided to split up for awhile, each of us tracking the animal of our choice. I, of course, decided to try to pick up the trail of some mountain lions, they being my favorite. I ran freely for a while, enjoying the feeling of the wind whipping past me and the sights and sounds of the mountains. Running was one of my favorite pastimes. It was on of the only times I was truly free to clear my head, without the thoughts of others intruding on my mind.
I hadn’t gotten far when I caught the scent I was looking for. An appetizing smell permeated the air, encouriging me that I was on the right path. Two of them, a lion and his mate most likely, were located a mile away from me, and my vampire instincts automatically took over. I ran silently, undetected, to where they were prowling. Crouching low behind the rocks, I prepared to attack. My mouth pooled with venom as I waited for the right time to attack. A low growl sounded from chest as I pounced. The lions didn’t have a chance, as my reflexes were much faster than theirs. By the time they detected my presence, it was already too late. I sank my teeth into the female’s neck, my venom spreading quickly through her veins leaving her incapacitated. I turned on the male, who was crouched to attack, and swiftly broke his neck with one smooth movement. I did the same to the female and began to feed.
Because I hadn’t properly hunted in weeks, I drained the two lions in a matter of minutes. The blood was refreshing, but not enough to leave me satisfied. I dropped the empty carcasses and sniffed the air, beginning the hunt again.
Three hours later, my brothers and I met up again, taking a break from hunting, momentarily satisfied. Emmett had found a large grizzly bear, much to his delight. Jasper had been content to feed on whatever had crossed his path, as he never differentiate much between animals. With the waves of his own contentment sent out to us, mixed with our own, we were all in an exceptional mood.
As we lay across the rocks, I let my thoughts drift to Bella, as they so often did in these quiet moments. I wondered what she was doing at that moment. A look at the time confirmed that she would be getting ready for her weekend shift at the Newtons’ Outfitters store. I didn’t understand her need to hold such a job, as I gladly would have paid for anything she could ever want or need, but Bella was fiercely independent, and rarely let me spend any amount of money on her. As much as I loved her stubborn desire to take care of herself, I desperately wanted to be able to take care of her and provide for her, which was another on the long list of reasons I wanted her to marry me.
An almost overwhelming feeling of longing came over me when I thought about marrying Bella. It was the one thing I wanted more than anything else in the world. To have the most beautiful creature to ever exist as my wife, to share everything with her, to belong to her as she would belong to me, made me feel truly whole. I could picture our wedding day in my mind.
Bella would be radiant walking down the aisle, with tears in her eyes and the beautiful blush I had grown to love so much on her cheeks. Her beauty would only be enhanced, if possible, by a stunning white gown, and hair and makeup done courtesy of Alice, of course. She would be making me the happiest man to ever walk the Earth, and I would make it my job to show her that feeling of all-consuming love every day for the rest of our eternity. And if she insisted on being changed, becoming one of us, I could finally show her the physical love I’ve been longing to for months. There would be no more worrying about her fragility, or the possibility of killing her, we could be together in every way we were intended to be.
My daydream was cut short by Jasper’s thoughts. Um, Edward? You’re sort of overwhelming me with the lust radiating off of you at the moment…
I smiled sheepishly at him. “Sorry, Jasper.”
He shrugged, a slight grin on his face.
“Wait a minute,” Emmett interjected. “I know that face. Is our little Edward having some not-so-pure thoughts about a certain hilariously accident-prone human?”
I glared at him, refusing to answer the question. He took that as affirmation.
“You were, weren’t you? Why, Edward, I didn’t know you had it in you. I’m so proud.” He wiped a nonexistent tear from his eye, and began roaring with laughter.
That was all the provocation I needed. I crouched low and sprang at him, a playful growl escaping my chest as we collided. Emmett continued laughing as we wrestled to the ground, neither of us gaining the upper hand. I soon joined his laughter, and Jasper, feeling our lightheartedness, nearly fell off the rock he was perched on, shaking with laughter of his own as he watched us roll around in the dirt.
Our festivities were cut short by the shrill ringing of my cell phone. I got up and walked over to it, glancing at the caller ID.
“Hey, come on! I was just about to win!” Emmett exclaimed, never liking a wrestling match to be interrupted.
“Sorry, Emmett, it’s Alice. It might be important,” I apologized as I flipped the phone open. “Hello?”
“Edward?” Alice’s voice was unusually quiet. She sounded almost frightened.
“Alice, what’s wrong? What happened?” I couldn’t help the panic seeping into my voice, and felt Jasper trying to calm me. I waved him off, and he stopped immediately.
“Oh, Edward. You’re going to be so mad at me, but it isn’t my fault! I was watching, but it must have been a split-second decision because I didn’t see it until it was too late, and –“
I cut her off, a million different scenarios running through my head, all of them horrible. “Alice! What are you talking about?”
“Bella went to La Push. I’m so sorry, Edward. I can’t see anything!”
“WHAT?!” I roared into the phone. “How could you let her do that? You were supposed to be watching, Alice!”
“Edward it isn’t my fault…” If vampires could cry, I think Alice would have been shedding tears right now.
“We’ll be home in an hour,” I replied shortly, snapping the phone shut with too much force. It broke under my fingers.
“What? We’re leaving? We just got here!” Emmett whined.
“What’s going on, Edward? The negative emotions coming from you are intense,” mused Jasper.
“We’re leaving. Now. Bella went to La Push, and Alice was too late to stop her,” I said angrily, as I started running in the direction of the Jeep, Emmett and Jasper close behind me.
In less than a minute, we were climbing back into the Jeep. “I’m driving,” I stated as I climbed into the driver’s seat. Emmett tossed me the keys, knowing it would be pointless to argue with me when I was this angry.
Heading back towards Forks, I drove faster than I ever had before, pushing the Jeep harder than it was ever intended to go. My brother’s thoughts were muddled, with Jasper trying to sort out the conflicting emotions I was emitting, and Emmett preparing to cover my back if it came down to a fight between myself and the Quileutes. We arrived home in a little over an hour, much sooner than should have been possible.
Alice met us outside, apologizing again while clinging onto Jasper like her life depended on it.
“Edward, please don’t hate me! I swear, if I saw it in time, I would have stopped her, but I couldn’t! I tried, I promise!” She pleaded.
“Maybe you should have been watching closer!” I accused, and instantly regretted it. Alice’s face fell as Jasper stood protectively in front of her.
“Edward, you need to calm down. Now! It isn’t Alice’s fault that Bella ran off. She did everything you asked her to do.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose between my fingers and sighed. “I know. I’m sorry, Alice. It wasn’t your fault. Bella made her own decision.”
“What are you going to do now?” She asked.
“I guess I’ll wait for her at the boundary line. I’ll try to see if I can at least pick up her heartbeat, or the mutt’s thoughts, or something,” I replied, feeling more helpless by the minute.
“Do you want me to go with you, Edward? You might need some backup,” Emmett smirked. He was already calculating how many wolves he could take on at once.
“No, thanks, Emmett. I need to be by myself right now,” I said as I started towards the Volvo.
Good luck. I really am sorry, Edward. Alice thought. I nodded at her and continued walking.
Edward. Jasper’s thoughts stopped me. Please try to stay calm. If you cross that boundary line, you’ll be starting a war. We have your back no matter what, brother, but I know you, and you will regret it.
With that I got into the car and sped out of the garage, towards La Push.
I parked the car so that it was hidden by the trees directly at the boundary line between Cullen and Quileute land. I got out and started pacing, not having decided what to do when I got here. I listened towards La Push intently, hoping to hear something that could ease my mind, but of course, I was too far away. I had almost decided to cross the stupid invisible line and get my Bella back when Jasper’s words rang in my ear. You will regret it. I couldn’t start a war with the wolves right now. We had Victoria and the Volturi to worry about, and I couldn’t put another burden on my family’s shoulders. Everything that was happening was my fault, and if I added a werewolf war into the mix, they would resent me for it, although they’d never say it.
But what about Bella? What if the dog had lost control and she was hurt? Or even if he didn’t hurt her, what if she had hurt herself? Bella wasn’t the most coordinated of people, and La Push was a playground for all things dangerous when it came to her. It was where she had had her cliff-diving incident, after all.
I finally decided to give her two hours. If she didn’t come out by then, I was going in, and at that moment, I didn’t care about the consequences. I continued pacing, each minute that passed allowing more and more anger to course through my veins. I was irritated with Bella, there was no doubt about that. But I could never truly be mad at her. I was more mad at myself, for one, for not doing more to protect her. I should have had someone with her around the clock while I was away, making sure she didn’t make a stupid decision such as this one. I blamed the dog, for another, for making her feel so much guilt that she would feel the need to go behind my back to comfort him. He was completely taking advantage of her kindhearted nature, and that was not acceptable.
And although it was overshadowed by my anger and worry, I felt that previously unfamiliar feeling of jealousy acting up. Why would she risk lying to me, and Alice, for that matter, to see him? What made him so special that she would put her life at risk to comfort him? Did she care for him in a way that was more then what she let on?
I shook my head and squeezed my eyes closed, trying to relieve some of the pressure I felt. There were too many thoughts and emotions running through my body, and I couldn’t function properly. I tried taking deep breaths, but they were unnecessary, so it didn’t help any.
Exactly two hours later, I had had enough and was just about to take that first step over the boundary line when I heard the familiar roar of Bella’s old truck coming towards the boundary line. It was still a few miles away, but the relief I felt hearing that sound was like a pile of bricks being lifted off my chest. Soon enough, I heard another sound, a beautiful sound; her heartbeat, steady and strong.
Knowing that she was safe and on her way home greatly reduced the worry I had felt before, but the anger that was already so strong soon took its place. I ran to the Volvo and started it, planning to follow her home so we could talk about her complete lack of self-preservation.
Soon enough, the truck passed my Volvo, still hidden in the trees, unnoticed by her. I waited two minutes before pulling back onto the road and catching up to the old truck, waiting for her to see me in her review mirror.