If you had worked at something for a century, and failed, how would you react? What would you do if in an instant the point of your existence crumbled? If you managed to let down the people who had built your world? How could you carry on knowing you’d lost the trust that had been put in you? What options would you have left?
I'd known the consequences of my decision, but I'd had no choice in the moment. It was a snap decision - a reflex. Nothing could have stopped the way I reacted. Well nothing but one thing. The only thing that mattered, the one person I'd do anything for.
But i hadn't been able to bring her face into my mind in time. Now everything had changed.
I wiped the blood from my face and ran.
“Are you sure I’m ready?” Edward smiled at me; his perfect hand stroked my cheek.
“Only you can know that,” He replied. I knew he was right, regardless of the panic than ran through me each time high school was brought up. It was like my first day in Forks again, but a thousand times harder. Then again, having to tell Edward I couldn’t do it would be worse; he could barely keep the smile off his face when I’d agreed to try. If it weren’t for his endless reassurance and enthusiasm, and the completely unfair fact that he could mind wash me just by looking into my eyes, tomorrow would be like any other day – perfect and completely stress-free, as opposed to the nightmare that lay ahead. But every excuse I’d attempted to form had been shot down brutally by Alice – if there was one person who wouldn’t take my cowardice it was my sister. At least she was more giving with Renesmee.
The thought of my daughter made me smile. I walked to her room, pulling Edward with me. She lay in her bed, her chestnut ringlets falling delicately over her perfectly formed face; her pale cheeks tinted with rose.
“Bella, love, if you're not ready, we don't have to go. We have all eternity for that," He put his hand into mine, pulling me towards him. His lips grazed along my jaw. My mind stuttered, distracted as soon as his fingers touched my skin. I pulled myself back to reality, determined to reassure him.
"It's not that, I know I can do it, but if something happens, blood’s spilt in front of me,” I swallowed convulsively, “I just couldn't live with myself if I hurt someone," I bit my lip, the thought made my stomach churn. I had gone over this in my head many times, and come to the conclusion this feeling would never leave completely. However I still couldn't help thinking something would go wrong. But I had to start somewhere. “I'm ready," I said, almost certainly.
He frowned at me quizzically, not convinced. “Bella Cullen, you worry too much." He kissed my lower lip, laughing gently at my still troubled expression. He smoothed my forehead with his hand, smiling slowly at me. He pulled my arm up to kiss the crescent shaped scar imprinted into my wrist. “Bella, you are talented way above the rest of us, I know you can do this.”
There was a gentle whimper from behind us. I whirled round and swept to the wide bed where our child lay. Her chocolate eyes blinked up at me, the exact shade mine had been when I was human. I scooped her up and cradled her against myself. I pressed my face into her hair and breathed deeply. Her smell was indescribable, like nothing on this earth.
She looked up at me and smiled, her face flushed from her sleep. She rubbed her eyes with her fist and yawned widely. I kissed her cheek gently.
She put her hand to my cheek, using her gift to tell me what she was thinking. She was thirsty, of course. Her appetite was obviously inherited from Charlie, except for the fact that my father's favourite thing to eat wasn't blood, as my daughter's was.
“Okay, we’ll head to the house first, then we’ll go,” I promised. She grinned dazzlingly back at me.
I kissed her hand and put her on her feet. I walked over to Edward, squeezed his fingers, and then stepped outside the bedroom into the small hallway, my family following. We headed down the curved wooden staircase into the cozy living room, and out into the forest. The beauty of it amazed me still after a year of living here in the cottage that Esme had restored for us. Our secret world.
A large black cloud was lumbering towards us, promising another day of wind and rain. Nessie was eager to see the rest of her family, so I picked her up easily and swung her onto my back, breaking into a run as I did so. Edward ran along side me, keeping pace.
We soon reached the large glass walled house where the rest of the Cullen’s resided. Edward held the large oak door open for us, kissing Renesmee’s cheek as we went past. I put her down, and turned back to face my husband. Renesmee ran at full pelt into the living room where her beloved Jacob was sleeping. He was now permanent resident in the Cullen house, as his need to be around Nessie meant it was easier than him coming over every day. It was amazing how easily the Jacob situation had resolved – two years ago it had seemed utterly impossible. I’d felt completely powerless as I’d been stuck in the middle of the two people I loved, like each of them were holding one of my arms, pulling me in opposite directions. Edward and Jacob, the vampire and the werewolf. Two completely different kinds of love. I couldn’t think of anything more painful than seeing the two most important things in your life being hurt, over and over, and knowing you were the cause of their pain.
The comparison between his old self and now was extreme. Jacob’s sadness had evaporated into nothing, leaving behind what I loved most about him. My personal sun, bursting with happiness. His happy-go-lucky demeanor which had been hidden for so long was only amplified when he met my daughter.
He tried to explain it to me once, imprinting. He’d thought the confused look on my face was because I didn’t understand, and he’d immediately launched into a gesture filled explanation, while I nodded vaguely.
But I understood. More than he knew. More than anyone could ever know. My gravity source didn’t keep me on the ground, but pinned me to Edward, like a life force. Which I guess he was, in a way. I’d certainly be dead without him. But it was more than that. He was my heart, my lungs. I couldn’t function without them, just as I couldn’t function without Edward.
From what Jacob had told me, imprinting sounded pretty similar to the way I felt about Edward. He said that without Renesmee, his life was meaningless, far beyond any human emotion. Nothing was more important than her. He continued to tell me the ways he felt connected to my daughter, but I was no longer paying attention.
The whole time he enthusiastically explained, I’d been having a battle in my head. Was there a way that humans could imprint, in some form? Obviously not in the way Jacob had, but surely his and my situations were too similar to pass off as coincidence? Everything he said was familiar; the painful time apart, the way your breath caught in the back of your throat every time you looked into their eyes. All of it.
But no, of course humans couldn’t imprint! I was being ridiculous. Imprinting was a wolf thing, abnormal.
But Edward and I were unique. Vampire and human relationships – as we had been for the first two years – were utterly unheard of. Could there be a way…
It continued like this for the next twenty minutes, arguing furiously with myself, while Jacob continued to speak animatedly, his arms gesturing wildly as he tried to portray something that was impossible to explain. I knew there was no way I could even begin to tell someone about the way I felt about Edward.
I’d asked Edward that evening about my theory timidly. I’d expected him to laugh, but his expression was solemn.
“I also considered the chance of imprinting when Jacob told me of it,” he grinned sheepishly, “I knew my fascination with you went against the grain, especially in the beginning. I spoke to Carlisle however, and he told me it was something unique to the werewolves, or shape shifters to call them by their correct names,” he winked at me, “he said it was something they’d developed to strengthen their species, or that was his theory anyway.”
“Oh,” I didn’t know what to say.
“I think what we have runs deeper than that though, don’t you agree,” He’d kissed my wrists, effectively ending the conversation.
“Bella?” I snapped back to reality – Edward grinned. “Day dreaming? Come on, love,” He smiled at me and wrapped his arm around my waist, gently pulling me in the direction Nessie had just run. I happily complied.